Jan 31, 2005

"Oh, oh, oh," said Sally.

Lately Will has been wanting us to read him a Dick and Jane book he got for Christmas. Actually, it's three Dick and Jane books that were reprinted recently. Obscurity was a better place for them, I thought.

My question is, how do you read "Oh, oh, oh" out loud? Who the hell ever says that, anyway? Does it register surprise, dismay, shock, amusement? Or what? And what about "Oh,oh?" In one place it can be read as "uh, oh" but not the others. And what is the difference between "oh, oh" and "oh, oh, oh"? So far I have been using that sardonic bland Dick and Jane voice (you know the one I mean) that does not seem appropriate for reading to young children. It's too arch and knowing. Help me, Internet.

P.S. How do you read the pages in Where The Wild Things Are where Max and the beasts engage in their wild rumpus, and there are no words? I sing "Rumpus, rumpus, rumpus" two times and jiggle the book from side to side in an annoying manner.

Jan 30, 2005

Mothers Who Blog, and the Major Newspapers Who Spell Their Names Wrong

We pretended we were snowed in today, because being snowed in on a Sunday is fun, as we learned last Sunday, when we were really snowed in. Today there was a pesky one inch of snow on the driveway, so . . . . Watercolors! Waffles! "Helping" Daddy shovel! Reading the New York Times and seeing this, which featured some of my favorite Mommy blogs.

OK, so two of the bloggers' names were misspelled . . . and all right, the writer criticizes blogging as a product of self-absorbed, anxiety-ridden parents. Bloggers get the last word, ha, ha, such as here and here. The writer, David Hochman, is oblivious to the high spirits, ascerbic wit, vulnerability and honesty of the particular bloggers he mentions. If the mainstream media loves to criticize mothers, and and if they feel threatened by blogging, then I guess it'll be a while before they cover blogging mothers with any depth.

On to more important things, like me and and my anxiety and self-absorption. The boys and I did some watercolor painting this morning. Will's paintings feature much black, puddles of water, and idiosyncratic brush strokes (applied with much pressure, creating multidirectional bristles). Jack's paintings actually include distinct fields of color. I bought extra brushes the other day so I could paint while they do. With the same paint. The palette is limited. And the yellow is adulterated with dark colors beyond any reasonable hope.

Our snow day good will is about to start to unravel; whenever the boys begin laughing a certain kind of laugh, and putting baskets over their heads, and throwing things, then someone is going to start crying or yelling very, very soon. Listen. Can you hear me?

Jan 18, 2005

Zoo Story

Yesterday we went to the zoo. We had special passes to go behind the scenes. First we looked at baby terrapin turtles who had hatched at the zoo after their mother's eggs were taken out posthumously by a wildlife expert of some sort. She had been run over by a car somewhere in New Jersey.

We also got to look at some zebras up close, but zebras get frightened by looking at "two-headed" people (John carrying Will) so John had to whiz past the zebras hoping they wouldn't see him/Will. The one "dominant female" zebra always has to nurture all the other zebras, making sure everything is safe for them, no predators around, and so forth. Why don't dominant males do that? Another thing, if the typical zebra herd has one male and six females, what are all the other males doing?

It was frightfully cold, and Will, who weights 38 lbs., insisted on being carried the whole time, so things were not always as enjoyable as one might have wished. But Will did greatly enjoy seeing the huge silverback gorilla pee in the cage and then step in it. The gorilla didn't actually didn't step in his pee, but he walked so nonchalantly close to it that Will thought he did. And what with Will being in the mood he was in, we were not about to correct him.

Last time we went to the zoo, the hippo pooped, and we were appropriately placed to have an excellent view. This time the hippo plunged into his pool, causing huge waves, I was going to say a tsunami, but I think not.

Jack didn't want to leave and pouted quite dramatically. His pace going back to the car was erratic, because he couldn't decide whether to run ahead and annoy us or lag behind and annoy us, so he did some of both. The combination was not in the end as annoying as either one would have been if practiced consistently, which annoyed him.

Sometimes I really don't feel like going to the zoo, but I'm always amazed every time I go. This time I noticed that anteaters just have necks and snouts, with no perceivable heads. Most animals are highly improbable, including us. We set up zoos! How weird is that? Nature is so amazing. Oh, we also got to see a small cart filled with zebra poop.

Jan 16, 2005

Questions to Ask the Internet

1. I got a Ph.D. in English in 1995, for which I had to wade through much contemporary literary theory. I have since been informed that theory is dead. Can I get a tuition refund?

2. How many banana bread recipes does the world need, anyway?

3. Has anyone actually called that 800 number on the back of trucks to answer the question "How's my driving?"

4. How did The Five People You Meet in Heaven ever get to be such a bestseller? It would save time and money to just buy a Hallmark card and read it five times.

5. Will "left-wing" and "right wing" Christians share the same afterlife? If so, who will make the best banana bread at the potlucks?

Oh, Internet, please respond not in a still, small voice, but in my "comments" section. That means you, dear reader. The Internet lives within all of us. Blessings and peace to you. You may go now. And please have some beet cake on your way out.

Jan 15, 2005

The Beet Goes On

I'm still here.

Here's something. Beet Cake. I suddenly have developed an obsession with making cakes that call for obscure, disagreeable, or old-fashioned fruits and vegetables. Yesterday I made Beet Cake, or, more exotically, Gateau aux Betteraves. I beg you, make this in a tube pan and not the shrimpy 9-inch cake pan it calls for, unless you love cleaning ovens. It was quite good, although it's one of those things that are Better the Second Day. The children didn't touch it, so my plan to give them vegetables unawares failed. The churchgoers will eat it at church fellowship hour. They eat anything there.

(I decorated the beet cake with crystallized ginger bits from Trader Joe's. They could be baked into the cake too.)

Next: Parsnip Cake. We have a gargantuan parsnip as big as my arm in the cellar that must be wrestled onto the kitchen counter and mutilated in the food processor soon, or it will eat the cats, who spend every night in the same room as the parsnip. That must be why the cats have been thin and nervous lately.