Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tiny: a Cookie Conversation

Ah cookie? Ah cookie?

No. the cookies are all gone. We’re not having cookies.

Ah cookie?

Nope. Do you want some crackers?


Do you want some Chex?


Do you want some raisins?


[Curiously eyes old carrot stick on floor, picks it up, nibbles it momentarily].

Reset. 15 minutes later:
Ah cookie?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm Sorry I Didn't Bring You Cookies

I’m sorry I didn’t bring you Christmas cookies.  You live far away.  And/or, we ran out of eggs.  When you have a limited supply of gas and eggs, you have to let whim and the spirit lead. 

Among other destinations, the spirit led my family and a plate of cookies to our friend Ethel’s house last Christmas Eve. I swung open our minivan’s passenger-door, plate of cookies in hand, and two things happened at once, so fast I almost missed them both. One, the stick-on bow that I had affixed to the tin foil-covered plate of cookies slid off its perch.  Two, the cell phone in my coat pocket slipped out, hit the street’s pavement, and ricocheted right into a storm drain.

I just bought that cell phone. Three weeks ago. I even purchased insurance should it be damaged. I even purchased a very expensive, very hard case/enclosure system that would protect this cell phone in the event of nuclear war, fire bombs, and toddlers.  The “otter box,” as it’s called, reminds me of a sat phone MacGyver might have used, back when they were the size of small boom boxes. 

The insurance I purchased doesn’t cover cell phone loss due to low elevations in the bottoms of storm drains.
Our only hope was a manhole cover at the top of the storm drain.  Correction: our other hope was my husband, who thought to pry up the manhole with a tire iron stored under our carjack.   And so he did. 

Did I also mention that this was a family outing with all the children? We were bonding over taking cookies to people who whim and the spirit led us to.  So the four of us (Tiny stayed in the car) took turns peering down into the seven-foot storm drain at a mess of dry leaves and plastic bags. We could not see the cell phone.
But we knocked on Ethel’s door, handed her the cookies with a Merry Christmas Eve!, and then asked if we could borrow her ladder. Mark lowered it into the manhole while I stood next to him and fretted that he would hurt his arm or shoulder or that the ladder would fall over once inside. And then he inserted himself into the hole and climbed down the ladder while I fretted some more and Ethel and the girls stood around watching. The girls said, ohhh, ohhh, oh.   And I said, be careful!  And Mark batted the leaves around with the tire iron once he got to the bottom, but he could not find the cell phone. Until he got to a small tunnel/pipe thingy (presumably the route the water takes out of the storm drain as it fills up) and moved a plastic bag and some leaves around and there the phone was.  

And he climbed up the ladder, and he handed the phone to me. And he pulled the ladder out of the manhole and replaced the cover.  And my otter-box encased phone looked as good as it could be. It could have survived nuclear war, fire bombs, or toddlers. But it chose a storm drain. Good for it. Branching out.
Earlier this week I got a second-degree burn on my hand. Two months ago I got a concussion after a glass light fixture fell on my head.

My friends want to build a phone- and heat- and glass-proof membrane that I can surround myself with at all times, which is okay with me as long as it is chocolate-permeable.  Because there are only two food groups in the world: chocolate and everything else.  And I wouldn’t want my diet to get off because I didn’t get an adequate amount of cacao bean through the phone-/heat-/glass-proof membrane/bubble thingy my friends want to build. I wish them good luck with that.
And as a postscript, if you’re wondering if I’m accepting See’s candy right now: I am.  My supply is off to a really good start.  It seems people read my blog post last week and I received more than two pounds of See’s chocolates over Christmas as gifts.  I can always make room in our cupboard for more, should the urge strike you.  Unfortunately for you locals, the See’s candy kiosk is closed at the local mall. You’ll have to mail order, people. You’ll have to mail order.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011: Year in Pictures and Few Words

2011. Here's what happened. We had a toddler (who used to be a baby). She liked to eat dirt.

We had an Evvy (who turned 7 in the fall).  She's sweet. And loud. And is trying to master the art of running on her hands and feet. Once in a while, she plops down for a rest.

We had a Una (who turned 9 in June).  She's sweet and smart and thoughtful. She says I'm not allowed to post "hilarious pictures" of her. Or embarrassing ones.  But this meets her criteria:

(Psst, if you want to see another one that I just love, then see it.)

We don't have a good picture for everything that happened this year, but I'll let the ones we do have tell the rest of the story.

Nay Nay's birthday. We love her.

Fourth of July in our friend Robyn's front yard. I laid on the grass in the shade with Nay. Everybody else watched the parade and caught candy. Candy. Bleh.

Una and Evvy were flower girls (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  They've been asking their whole lives to be flower girls. 

And here's a silly flower-girl pose with their/our silly friend Chris.

Hey, did you know we moved this year? But I don't have any pictures of our house handy. And honestly, I don't know if I want you to see it yet.  The shrubs out front are too bushy, and I haven't hung all the pictures yet.  Instead, I should offer you an annual family portrait, like people do, in front of a Christmas tree or a wreath, yada yada.  But, does the pose below count? We look sorta reflective/end-o-the-year-thoughtful/familyish.

No?  How bout this one?

This is not at our new house. Or even our old house. And somehow we lost our kids and gained a dog. But at least you can tell who we are (see red shirt) and that we look happy in a SNL kind of way.

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to all y'all out there.   We are happy to know you and hope you can come visit us soon.

Heather, Mark, and girlies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Chocolates, Christmas Lights

Today, for about five seconds, I thought about opening my own See’s candy kiosk franchise at the Coral Ridge Mall—next winter, October 1 through December 26. Be there.

See, the elderly couple who ventured into the franchise this year are from Ottumwa. They drive a good two hours to the mall every day and stand in their white See’s candy lab coats, holding  out baskets of lollipops for passersby.  This poor couple, the cashier confided to me, will most likely not be back next year.  The See’s candy franchise has taken its toll—all that winter driving, varicose veins and such.  Poor dears, I thought.  And then, poor me, because how will I get See’s candy locally ever ever again? How will I get it without having to pay a 20$ shipping fee from Chicago or California? My purchase today at the See’s candy kiosk wasn’t even for myself—it was a gift. A box of milk chocolate Bordeaux for not-me because I shopped whilst hanging on to the illusion that See’s might be at my disposal at least 3 months out of the upcoming year.  And so I was truly forlorn at the news whispered to me by the young cashier. Childhood nostalgia for See’s kicked into high gear.    

That's when I had this brief and fleeting idea: *I* could run my own kiosk. And then I could have as much See’s as I wanted.

But, I would probably gain thirty pounds.  And I hate the mall at Christmas time.

So I went home and put my packages away, feeling so terribly sorry for myself and the See’s candy deficit in my life that I began to hear voices.  The milk chocolate Bordeaux was actually calling my name!  At first I couldn’t believe it—these things don’t happen in real life, I told myself. Christmas presents can't really come alive. Tsk.
But, the ethereal reach of a box of candy across the house, from my office where they were stowed away to the kitchen where I put away dinner leftovers became a thing of substance.  This box, this gift for a dear relative, was asking me to do something unthinkable, something terrible awful. Oh dear God.  I argued with it, chastised the perversion of its thinking.  And then I asked the husband:
Would you hate me for eating this [$17 box of] See’s Candy?

(A quick aside: It’s better to ask these sorts of questions with melodrama.  If I’d asked, for instance:
Do you think I should eat Aunt Ione’s box of Christmas chocolates?

--well, a five-year-old could give you the right answer in no time flat.)
Would you hate me?  Well, that’s just the right cocktail of self-pity mixed with desire and fear of rejection to make a husband tell his wife, practically, No, honey, you go right ahead. Btw, I love you sooo much.

I couldn’t live with the shame of eating someone else's Christmas present in front of him. So I waited 'til he left. And then I did it.  Sunk my teeth into that soft center and gave myself the biggest bite on the inside of my cheek to date.  Chocolate mingled with the taste of blood. But despite accounting for the blood-chocolate combo, something else just didn’t seem right. And wouldn't you know it, I'd bought the wrong candy, and by “wrong” I mean not the kind I thought I was buying. It lacked chocolate in its gooey center.  And it tasted like it’d  been in its Christmas wrapper since August, when the factory got ‘em all prepped and ready for the holiday kiosk.
Stupid $17 box of talking chocolates. I'm gonna cut your throat out.
In other breaking news, I’m charmed by our neighborhood’s display of outdoor holiday lights. You know how our minds free associate and leap to all sorts of random hypotheses throughout the day? Well, today, I thought: people who put up Christmas lights must be nice. Nice nice. Bring-meals-to-sick people nice. Rescue-a-mutt-from-a-well nice.  And if I was stranded on the road, my car engine on fire, my children in tow on a bitterly cold winter’s night, you know which house I’d stop in for help at?  Not the one with the people who couldn’t be bothered, the people who didn’t have the time, energy, or emotional resources to string up a Wal-mart rendition of baby Jesus lit up like a Broadway stage. Nope. I’d stop by the house with the well-lit Santa sleigh/reindeer combo in the front yard and hope the residents there (or Santa) would give me a lift home.

(See's candy update: I’m on my sixth seventh piece.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dialogue with a Girl Who Pours Over the Dictionary

I am sandwiched between two boys who say curse words in Spanish.

(These are white, Caucasian boys, mind you.)
He was getting people to say a swear word in Spanish.  He told Gracie, “say ca twice,” and she did but she didn’t know what it meant.  Then Mr. Martinez came in to talk to us about it and he was very upset. You could tell his feelings were hurt.
After school, Rodney said the bad word was the same as the S-word.
Do you know what the S-word is?
No.   I only know two swear words. The A-word and the B-word.
What is the B-word?? Oh--was it in that book you read?
Yeah.  And it ended in –ing.
The bad word is the word without the –ing. It's a really bad name for someone.  Okay, [deep breath]  so you know that words are just words, right?  I’m going to say the S-word so you know what it is when people say it. And why people use it.
Why don’t you want me to say it?
Because I will be tempted to use it!  And part of what makes me unique is that I don’t know swear words!

So…I know there’s an A- and a B- and an F- word. I know the F-word is the same as sticking up your middle finger, so I’m always careful about sticking up my finger.  Mom, is there a swear word for every letter of the alphabet? Is there a C-word?  And a D-word?

Well, not exactly for every letter, but I’m sure there are a lot of them.

How do people even decide to make up swear words?

Well, I don’t know, there’s probably a book out there that tells about the etymology of curse words.  Etymology is the study of the words, their history.  Would you like a book about etymologies for Christmas?

[Aghast] No!