Monday, March 29, 2010

I remember when…

I remember when…

I could leave bread on the counter (in a bag) and not have to sweep it up in the morning. (Pumpkin=guilty) I now use the microwave as a breadbox.

I was allowed to use the bathroom in peace. Nowadays, Pixie considers it a perfect place to demand my undivided attention… not like I have anything better to do than pet the cat, right? I’m not sure how I ever managed to take care of myself on the toilet previously, without a cat on my shoulder.

Speaking of which, I remember when cats stayed on the ground. I’ve heard of shoulder riding cats, I’ve seen photos… but I didn’t really believe in them. I do now. Thank goodness our (my) parrot-cat is Miss Pixie full of grace, not Pumpkin the destructo-cat, or Ninja the filet’er of flesh.

I remember when I didn’t have to check the appliances before using them.


I remember when I could wash the dishes on my own. These days it’s one of the cats favorite supervisory roles. Pixie also likes to pop the soap bubbles, and Ninja still steals my sponge and dish clothes. They get wet, especially when I have to use wet hands to remove them from where they aren’t supposed to be (the drainer!), but it doesn’t stop them.


Getting wet doesn’t keep them out of the shower either. They don’t actually get in the tub, but there’s a large window sill that lets them get practically nose-to-nose with us while we’re trying to wash our hair.

I remember when I didn’t have help to get those annoying spills on the lower part of the cabinet.


.. and remember how good the the last french fries out of the bag always were. You know, whoever divvies up the goods, gets the bag fries? Not anymore…


but I also remember a time without cats in our lives… it was not as cute, somewhat sad, and definitely more boring.


and just because this post made me think of it: (not tonsils .. at least that’s what my preview shows :D but the song…)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

See you!

We finally got out to watch the Avatar movie, in 3D no less. There were a few parts that made the kids jump, but we loved it. It definitely lives up to all the hype. As a matter of fact, it was so good that we’ve decided to pack up and move to Pandora… we heard there were a few openings. Bye!
(ps. Guess who finally(!) installed Paint Shop on her new laptop?)

Updated for SeeThroughGreen :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The best way to get ready for bed. Read a good book with one you love…


and always get a goodnight kiss (kitty kisses might be tickly, but they’re still sweet.)


Good night!

Monday, March 22, 2010


                             (photo credit)
Have you ever been a part of a funeral procession? The hearse carries the departed from the funeral home to the church, and then to the cemetery for burial. The lead car is often a police car, followed by the hearse and the cars carrying the closest family members, and finally, the rest of the mourners… other police may follow the procession, or be stationed at intersections along the route… all vehicles drive in single file formation, lights on… a slow and formal procession through town, not stopping at lights, other drivers pulling over to allow the procession to pass, etc. It is somewhat disruptive to traffic, but it’s a minor price to pay to show a bit of respect to fellow humans who are suffering the loss of a loved one.
I just read this article and found it very sad:
Police escort fewer funeral processions
By Larry Copeland USA TODAY
ATLANTA — When the police department in Gulfport, Miss., recently ended long funeral processions by limiting them to five vehicles, the news was not well-received by some residents, who saw it as killing a cherished tradition.
"We could either limit the number of vehicles, or not do (funeral escorts) at all," explained Lt. Brian Smith, head of the city's traffic unit.
Police-escorted funeral processions for ordinary citizens are a rarity in big cities in the USA, and increasingly so in smaller cities.
Liability and staffing concerns have prompted several police departments in large metropolitan areas to stop providing the escorts. Police in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles said this week they no longer provide escorts, except for police officers, firefighters or military personnel killed in battle. (more)
My father had a procession. Although he had insisted that he did NOT want any sort of a fancy funeral… I believe he phrased it as “Just stick me in a cardboard box and do not waste the money”!… I couldn’t do that for him because I had my mom, who was suffering from dementia at that time, and the rest of the family to think of. Mom was going to need a viewing, church service, flowers, etc., and my sister wanted our father buried near them, especially since my mother would be going to live out near her (which meant travel and a separate graveside service). I kept costs down as much as possible, but didn’t skip any steps. The funeral is as much about the living as it is the dead.
That entire time period, surrounding my father’s death, was a strange combination of stark reality, and float-y surrealism. I’d spent about 3 months living with my parents after my father found out he had terminal cancer. Honor was still a baby and was with me; Brad and Brian were back home in Maryland, Brad working, Brian attending a Montessori day school. On one hand, I’d never felt more alone in life, yet on the other, I was completely surrounded… not only by my father’s friends and our extended family, but by the whole community. People called, mowed the lawn, visited and brought food. Neighbors helped me with so much! Southern people hug, btw, and not just people you know. Random doctors, nurses, bankers, you name it, they all hug. I only had to hand the pharmacist a list of medicines for my father, for her to realize that he was terminal and she came out from behind the booth to hug me! It was weird, but very comforting.
I got to know the ER all too well – not just for my dad, but my mom too. We had too many scares, and at one point, I thought we might be burying them both at the same time; she managed to outlive dad by 5 years. I also, in general, had a difficult time dealing with my mom over day to day things. We never got along smoothly anyway, and the dementia did not improve that, but we did ok.
Dad passed away quietly, this month 7 years ago. I miss him terribly and wish that he weren’t missing out on knowing his grandkids. Losing my dad was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through. During the whole ordeal, I just wanted to hide, yet, it was on me to get us through it. And we managed. I think we even did a pretty decent job of things.. maybe not neat, pretty, or all that traditional stuff, but I met the goals I set on the stuff I had to do, regarding the needs of those who mattered most, which was all that was important to me. I’m in agreement with Dad when it comes to all the ridiculous hooplah… I tried to keep the hooplah levels sane; it wasn’t easy.
When it came to the actual funeral, I tried to keep that simple too. One thing that made it a bit strange though, was that while my mom and most of the family are Baptist, my father was Catholic. Tricky. I wanted him to have a final mass, although I’m not sure how I managed to stick to that plan… I was quite ticked off with his church at the time. In hospital, he was denied final sacrament and absolution because he was married, for 37 years(!), to a non-Catholic (with 5 plus years of dementia under her belt by the time of my father’s death; she wasn’t going to be converting, and the priest knew that). Theirs was a valid marriage, but the priest said it was non-sacramental, never mind that my mom was baptized in her church. I think that he was wrong. The Catholic Church has all sorts of rules, yes, but mixed marriages are acceptable… yet… dad accepted the refusal, he nodded his head and said ok. I wanted to lash out at the priest, but I kept my mouth shut. My belief in God is stronger than randomly applied, bone-headed dogma, where the word of man is more important than the spirits of humans. If Dad was ok about risking death without the rituals, then I was ok too, because I know God would know the truth and that He would be ok with dad, and mom too – they’re probably up in heaven right now, enjoying the spring weather, hitting a few golf balls, and sipping cold beer. Anyway… despite my personal annoyance (Thank you dad, you were a great influence on my life and spirit, and bless you for not condemning my soul to abuse by the Catholic faith - actually, thanks to mom too, if either had tried to force me into either of their religions, I would have turned my back and walked off forever. Both gave me education - not brain washing, and let me find my own true path.), I know that my dad was a good man who spent his life devoted to his church. So even though I truly do not ‘get it’, I wanted his final farewell to be done right. His way. Thankfully, a neighbor attended the same church and was able to help. Of course, the whole ceremony was probably confusing to the non-Catholics in the gathering (meaning, most of the family), but this part was for dad, not them… and mom was going to be confused anyway…
disk5 007
(Long time ago – my sister was brand new, and I just turned two… I love this photo.)
Where was I? Oh yes, getting there. Mom and dad had retired, up ‘north’ from Florida, to a middle-sized Southern town, and we used the funeral home recommended by their friends. They did a nice job for us, and when we arrived on the day of the mass, we lined up behind the hearse, and slowly left for the church. Up until that point, the point when the vehicles pulled out of the driveway and onto the main street, I don’t really think I’d realized that all the stress of caring for my dad had truly ended, that most of the chaos of arranging his funeral was over, and we were now to the part where we could say goodbye. That realization hit hard and sudden. All that float-y surreal-ness… grounded.
We drove through town… uniformed police stopping cross traffic at intersections, and traffic pulling over on the side of the road to let us drive by. Some people did not just pull over - they actually stopped their cars, got out, and stood solemnly by the side of the road with their hands over their hearts. My dad wasn’t a public figure, and while he was a Navy veteran (WWII era) we didn’t have anything on the hearse to indicate that. To these people, he was a fellow human and that was enough. That display of respect and tribute, from total strangers, touched me deeper than anything else that day.
I hope that US communities find some better way to incorporate funeral processions into ‘modern realities’. Educating young drivers would be a start. Like Ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, my parents always told me to give any funeral procession the respect I would give if it were my loved one being tended to. One day it might be my loved one. They were right. It would be a terrible shame to lose this particular ritual of mourning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Squidward O’Mari

I hate to deep fry food. The spattering oil, the lingering smell of hot oil, the messy clean up. I really, really hate it. Yet… the results taste so amazing. It’s probably a very good thing that I hate to do the work because it usually keeps me from cooking that way. If it were neat and easy, I’d eat too much of that fried junk! Every so often though I just gotta give in.

I found some beautiful looking frozen calamari rings at the store, and I couldn’t resist. I bought them and brought them home, thereby committing myself to a fried dinner. The only way, as far as I am concerned, to enjoy these treats is breaded and fried… and sitting next to a pretty steak. Ok, maybe the steak isn’t mandatory, but I do recommend it.


I made a nice beer batter. Two eggs, about a cup or so of flour. Ground pepper, a bit of parsley, and coarse sea salt. Then I poured in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Guiness beer to make a thick batter… it was the only beer that I happened to have on hand, and it added a nice bit of flavor. I stirred the thawed (and rinsed) calamari rings into the batter, let them sit until the oil was hot, and deep fried them in small batches in a deep frying pan. The batter was so tasty – you know that I sampled the first rings out of the pan – that instead of baked potatoes as a side, I grabbed a couple of handfuls of frozen french fries (which I usually bake, but what the heck…), dredged them through the leftover batter and fried those too. Served up with marinara sauce from a jar – they didn’t stand a chance with my family! 

The steak was good too, although we had a lot of leftover for some reason!… No leftover broccoli though. Yea… all that red meat and grease… I had to put something obnoxiously healthy on the table too. That’s ok though, broccoli is a favorite green thing in our house and it was gobbled up as enthusiastically as the squid.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Missing Wally World?!

I think I’ve finally figured out why I dislike shopping at Safeway. I mean, I should love the place. It’s a beautiful facility. They have great parking. They carry an international selection of goods. There’s even a small department store where you can find a variety of household, garden, and gift items. The problem is, I never seem to have a completely pleasant experience when shopping there.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect grocery shopping to be ‘fun’. It’s a chore… it is usually a pleasant enough job, but for some reason, Safeway keeps annoying me. I can go in with a short list, and yet, only manage to walk out with about half of what I want or need.
Last time I went grocery shopping I tried to go to my favorite store, but it was very crowded. The parking lots were full, with cars circling like buzzards. I didn’t feel like being in a crowded store. I put on my Rosy Glasses of Cheerful Optimism and headed to Safeway.
One thing that I wanted was Ocean Spray juice. Let me explain - I realize that I am not in the US. I KNOW I should not find all the brands I would be used to if I lived there. I KNOW that I am lucky to find so many brands that I do look for. I am not one of those whiners who complains about everything, or about products being not quite the same, etc. I am perfectly willing to adjust and I enjoy the challenge. I usually PREFER to buy substitutes and local brands (better price and more chance of finding it when I need it), and I have even been known to experiment with items when I cannot read the label well. I find some great stuff that way! BUT, we like Ocean Spray juices. We drink a lot of water, and we prefer it with a tiny splash of a cranberry mix juice. I CAN find Ocean Spray here, so I had a very good reason to have it on my list. Safeway had a huge display of Ocean Spray too … all plain CRANBERRY flavor. The one variety we really do not like… and this is my typical experience! So close, and yet so very far…sigh...
I also had tortilla chips on my list. We had friends scheduled to come for dinner - we were making burritos, they were bringing homemade salsa (Thanks Lisa!). When I saw Tostitos, Brad’s favorite chips, on the shelf, I nearly threw them in the cart without looking… glad I did though. They were over $10 a bag. Ok. I realize that there are import costs, etc. but that’s pure craziness. I refuse to pay that on principle. Fortunately there were some other brands.

Other cons –
I have run into too many surly employees. No, not all are surly! There are some very pleasant employees too. Very helpful. Perhaps they are trying to compensate for their crabby peers? I cannot apply this complaint to other stores. This aspect is actually improving so I have hope…

I get harassed by beggars more often in the parking area of this store. I do not appreciate hordes of kids hanging on me when I am trying to load my car. I can only watch my kids, bags, purse, car, etc. so closely… I feel sorry for the kids, of course!… but not enough to get robbed or have my kids handled by strangers. Other stores seem to have security that is more on the ball.

Safeway has one register to handle VAT exempt purchases, and they are extremely slow and grumpy about using it! For those who think that this is the spoiled whining of an indulged diplomat, let me remind you of two things: One, is that this type of exemption is usually a reciprocal deal - we are given the same benefits in our host country, that other countries' foreign service personnel are given in the US (I do not honestly know if that's the case in this situation, but usually..), and two, although we live here, we are still US residents, and we still pay taxes in the US. It's not really fair to have to pay taxes in two countries. Most stores around here handle this very easily... some quite cheerfully and overly helpful. I went to another store the other day, realized that I did not have a copy of my VAT card, and attempted to wave it off and pay the high VAT... the cashier insisted on getting it copied for me!... and this was for a relatively small purchase, at one of their many registers.... not at a single, often un-manned, sometimes broken, register off in a corner.

I always run into obnoxious customers at Safeway. Maybe they are simply annoyed and cranky for the same reasons I am? Maybe they’ve been run out of the nicer stores? Last time I went, I actually had some uncivilized idiot push my cart out of the way to cut in line in the vegetable weighing line. Ordinarily I’d just shove him back and explain in a very LOUD and condescending voice where the end of the line is  – I’ve done time in Egyptian Carrefour stores, I know how to defend my space, shame working better than force – but I really was DONE by that point and so walked off, dumping the bags of vegetables I had considered purchasing. I didn’t feel like paying for aggravation… and again, I don’t have this sort of problem in other Amman stores.

To be fair, here are the pros… the reasons why I keep going back - 

The customer service is getting friendlier. You know who you are… Thank you! You are the number one reason I keep coming back! Even if everything else is perfect, I will avoid stores with completely poor customer service – they’d be ‘banned for life’ in my book, and I’d even be highly suspicious of other stores in the same chain. YOU are the most important part of my shopping experience.

Safeway carries a lot of international brands that other stores do not. It may be pricey, but if you’re looking for something specific, they might have it… just don’t get your hopes up on finding a variety.

The store is clean and pretty, and everything smells nice and fresh (yes, that really matters to me).

They have a home store upstairs. Think of a super WalMart… one that looks better, costs more, and has less selection… but, they do have a home store. They carry toys, lawn and garden, household goods, small appliances, hardware and auto supplies, sporting goods, stationary, luggage, etc. There’s also a nice glasses shop, and a small cafe. We actually found a pretty Christmas tree and a small variety of decorations in December. We’ll probably look there first when we go shopping for a BBQ grill.
I think that, if I could adjust my perspective, I might learn to appreciate this store better. If I can focus on the list of pros – do some meditation exercises and chant some affirmations or something! – and PLAN on having to do my shopping at more than one store, maybe there’s hope. Planning on being unsuccessful at one-stop shopping might stave off the frustration. I’d be better off. Rather than seeing Safeway as a regular supermarket, I need to treat it as a limited specialty store – but it’s hard. It LOOKS like a supermarket! I fall for the illusion every time, and always leave disappointed.

I’m not giving up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick’s Day!!

If you’re not wearing green, consider yourself pinched!

Brian and Honor set out their clothes last night.


and got up and dressed quickly this morning so we’d have time for their favorite accessories.

Brian loves dragons…


Honor chose to have a leprechaun guard her gold.

DSC06180  and she wanted some shamrocks too.



Brian will be thrilled when he finds out that I managed to save up enough ‘gold’ prizes in the Facebook Farmville game so I could trade in for a castle! (Thanks to all my FB friends for helping me.)

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pain in the neck

I’m not sure what I did, but something got pinched in my neck. It had been achy for several days this past week, but I took an antihistamine the other night to stop my nose from running (weather conditions were ‘widespread dust’ and my sinuses were not amused), and I must have fallen asleep, hard, in an awkward position, and then not moved all night. When I woke up, the motions of ‘left’ and ‘right’ had been removed from my list of physical capabilities. I spent yesterday accomplishing very little, interspersed with long periods of lying flat on my back when I could no longer bear the painful weight of my own skull. It was the kind of pain that traveled… it radiated from the lower part of the back of my neck, gradually tightening all muscles it encountered, down my back, my arms, my head, etc. The only place on my upper body not experiencing sharp pain, was my left arm – that appendage experimented with tingling numbness. I assume that means whatever was pinched, was on that side.

I wandered (limped) over to the nearby pharmacy to get some monster-sized Motrin – having to turn my whole body to look both ways when crossing the street – but neither the walk, the stretching I attempted, nor the medicine, had had much effect by yesterday afternoon. When the kids got home from school, all I could do was aim them at homework and go lay back down. They’re such good kids. The helped themselves to their after-school snacks, did most of their homework, then came to ‘fix’ me.

Honor wanted me to lay on the floor so she could walk on me. I refused – afraid that if I got down there, I’d be there the rest of the night. Instead, I lay on my bed, where my junior chiropractors pounded on me, massaged me, walked on my back with bony kid knees, lotioned my skin (back, arms, hands, feet). Brian even rubbed my feet and clipped my toenails. Honor massaged my hands and gave me a bit of make-up… because when you look pretty, you feel pretty, right? Both rubbed my head and brushed my hair. Eventually Honor went and got her doctor kit, including white coat, and started to treat me. I believe that my blood pressure hit the million mark, and I got about 500 different injections (including a ‘needle’ full of cold water that was very surprising.) After about 20-30 minutes of repair work, I had to struggle up to go out and clean the kitchen for dinner, and while I might have bruising in various places now, I could MOVE again! Not well, and it still hurt, but left and right were once again within my reach.

I even felt good enough to sit at the table and help finish homework. Honor had reading to do and chose to read “When the Root Children Wake Up”  a lovely story about the turning of the seasons, and also had a page to do in math. She had to illustrate how she found her answer in math – and I wasn’t sure how to ‘draw’ 72 + 4 = 76” for a 1st grader(!) so I taught her the basics of column addition and she had a blast with that. Brian had Arabic homework and had to come up with five words for the 20 or so letters they’ve studied in class. Luckily I’ve unpacked some dictionaries!

Anyway, I took motrin again last night, slept very hard (once I found a comfortable way to lay – not easy) and woke up sore, but with the dagger of pain removed from between the vertebrae of my neck. I’m back to achy – worse than how it started, but not that sharp pain. It’s such a relief! I managed to sleep on my hand wrong last night, probably twisted it the wrong way in order to keep my head propped up just so, and now that hurts, but I don’t care… my neck is much improved! I’m on the motrin again today, but am hoping that whatever was pinched, is now un-pinched (I think it is) … all thanks to Drs. Brian and Honor, who made me pay for services rendered with hugs and kisses.

The Universe…

The universe is mine, is snuggly, and exists to make me look good. DSC06142

Pixie is growing up to be quite a pretty lady cat!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Actually… it’s “Happy Anniversary!”, But Brad and I are celebrating 18 years this year so it feels more like a birthday. Our marriage is ready to get out there and go to college, vote, buy its first car of its very own… snif snif! Our baby is growing up!

Year 18 is the porcelain anniversary. We weren’t exactly inspired by that. Instead of gifts, we went out to dinner.  First anniversary in a new place.. where to go? In Cairo we usually went out to Steaks at the Four Seasons, where we always received impeccable service and enjoyed the most amazing steaks you can imagine. We broke tradition one year and celebrated at Fusion, which is located on the Nile in Maadi, and although we didn’t get steak, the beef and chicken, cooked and served Teppan-yaki style, was heavenly! But what to do in Amman? We haven’t been here long enough to have ‘favorites’ yet. We looked through a couple of guides, thought about finding a steak place, but ended up going out to a place Brad knew of from a work event.

We ended up at a lovely Lebanese restaurant called Tannoureen (2nd link has a map; it’s near 6th circle and easy to find). We started with fresh bread and soft cheese, and a bowl of ripe olives. We ordered a variety of mezze dishes, including mutabbel (an eggplant dip, nicely decorated with pomegranate seeds), hummus, an amazing cauliflower dish, and a traditional fattoush salad (tomato, cucumber, greens, including mint leaves, a light oil dressing, and toasted chips of flat bread). It was all very lovely. We never had a chance to run out of warm bread, as a waiter with a basket would arrive with another piece whenever he saw us running low, and I only had to reach for a dish for yet another waiter to appear and serve me more of whatever I wanted. Self-serve mezze, with excellent service! For a main course, we shared a mixed grill. Lamb, chicken and kebab … it was all cooked to perfection, and fork tender. We enjoyed a glass of local red wine with our entree as well as a glass of frozen mint lemonade. Our water glasses never ran low, and offers to refill our other drinks were just as prompt, although we declined these in a vain attempt to save room for the food! The only problem was that everything on the menu looked delicious and we had to narrow it down and choose what we could actually eat! We didn’t make it to dessert, but did enjoy an after-dinner coffee, Turkish style, made even more delicious by the chocolate mints offered on the side.

After dinner, we went for a short stroll down the road near the restaurant. Ordinarily, the street is a busy jewelry area, but this was a quiet Sunday night, and by the time we finished our meal, the sidewalks had been rolled up. An ice cream shop had a few customers, there was a cute little Mercedes on display in one place for us to admire (no, we don’t want one, but it was cute), and a friendly man from a men’s hair salon we passed said hello and offered Brad their business card, but other than that, the street was quiet. 

All in all, a lovely way to spend the evening with the man I love!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Army Chick

This is one of Honor’s favorite toys, and it forces me to smile whenever I see it, despite the fact it’s a broken piece of junk that we should probably toss.


It’s a cheap little wind-up toy she got at the dentist for being good. The wind up quit working almost immediately. The feet quickly broke off as well. Soon after she got this toy, she taped that round pencil sharpener on its head as a helmet and said it was a soldier. “Look mom! An Army chick!” Once upon a time I was active duty Army. This makes me giggle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Ok. I did it. I finally read Twilight. Not my usual type of series, but it was so wildly popular that I had to give it a go. Brad got me the books for Christmas and they’ve been on the shelf for awhile. To be blunt… I disliked the first book. It was painful enough that it took me a long time to want to pick up the second book. I disliked most of the second. It seemed to me that the whole purpose of these first two novels was to define the characters, characters that I was not too impressed with. Bella was a self-hating, pitiable fool… someone needed to smack that girl, or put her in therapy, or perhaps both. I am against teeny-angsty stuff for the sake of being teeny-angsty (I know, I know… this book was MEANT to be that way… I accept that, but it didn’t make it easier on me.) I prefer a stronger lead, especially when the lead is female. The third and fourth books were better. Finally, a story happened. Started in the 3rd book, finished in the 4th. I will not post spoilers, but I will admit that I enjoyed the story, the good vs bad, the ‘world’ it was set in… even though I do not understand why it took four full novels to tell the tale. It was a chore to get through, but I’m glad I did it, and I will give the series a positive recommendation. It is worth reading. (Once was enough though… for me…. )

Or if you’re not interested in reading it, here’s a recap (I’ll try to not give anything away, so much has been in the press and I’ll try not to go beyond that… if you are concerned though, leave now please.)

Book 1

Teen girl is miserable. Meets cute boy/man who happens to be a vampire. Life is confusing.

Bella: “I’m so useless and ordinary. Everybody is staring. Nobody likes me, not even me. Did I mention how useless I am?”

Vampire: “I’m a much older, strong, and educated male, with supernatural powers, and yet I am totally and instantly smitten by a clumsy vapid teenage girl with no self-esteem…. I realize this is unrealistic, but this is the magical romance part, so I must go along with it.” (Struggle.)

Father figures, including one who is nearly Christ-like in his effort to redeem: (Guidance, protection, love, unquestioning acceptance – queue angelic choir.)

Mother figures: (Flutter! Worry. Fade to background until it is time to flutter or worry some more.) “Have a cookie dear?”

Other friends and relatives: (Despite their constant, open, and always honest efforts to support and love her, in Bella’s mind they seem to exist merely for the purpose of providing miscellaneous ways for her to prove her clumsiness, social ineptitude, and overall unworthiness.)

Bad guy: (Makes brief, not too noticeable, appearance.)

Vampire and friends: (Save the day.)

Bella: (Finds way to blame herself for everything, of course... )

Werewolf, although he doesn’t know he’s a werewolf yet: (Falls in love with Bella… somebody had to be the third corner of the triangle)

Vampire: “You should hate me Bella, I’m a monster! I should leave and protect you from me! I love you!”

Bella: “Don’t go! Although you should, because I’m so ugly and weak. You can’t possibly love me! I’m useless and pathetic! You’re so perfect. Impossible. Nobody likes me. I love you!”

Vampire: “Well yes, I am perfect, and you are totally weak in so many ways, but for some very strange reason I still find you, your weaknesses and pathetic self-loathing, irresistible and appealing. Run away! Don’t go. I love you!”

Bella: (Cries. Is deliriously happy. Cries some more, falls down some, is rescued, followed by more delirium…. er… I mean giddy delight. etc.)

Werewolf: “Look at me! Look at me!”

Book two:

Vampire: (Leaves.)

Bella: (Mopes. Goes catatonic. Hangs on Werewolf, who discovers he is a werewolf.)

Vampire: (Gets depressed. Mopes.)

Vampire and Bella: (Get back together.)

Werewolf: (Mopes.)

Book three and four:

Bella: “I am so useless! Impossible that one, much less two, wonderful and strong males should be fighting over poor little ol’ me, just so they might save me from myself. I am so helpless and undeserving! I won’t let them do this!”  (…has no willpower whatsoever and let’s them fight over her anyway…)

Vampire and werewolf: (Strut, stagger, swagger, struggle, eye each other warily, threaten… remain all gooey and worried over Bella… oh! drama…)

Bad stuff happens. Some good stuff too. Mostly bad stuff. (This is that ‘story’ thing I told you about finally finding in the last two books).

Bella:(Manages to save the day.)

Bella: (Still bewildered how someone so utterly useless and pathetic as herself, even though she has done much to become strong and improved, was capable of doing anything right and succeeding.)

The end.

I still say she needs therapy… 

This is not the most glowing of reviews, I know. Sorry. But, as you recall, I did say I’d still recommend the series. It really is worth a read. On one hand, it’s an obvious, simple, love triangle romance story, with all the depth, or lack thereof(!), of a typical teen romance novel, hastily wrapped in a thin layer of sanitized modern age vampires and werewolves. (Vampires and werewolves being very fashionable lately. No zombies though. For zombies, I’d recommend “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” for a fresh, but not so modern, take on those critters.)  On the other hand though, in a way I haven’t quite nailed down, there’s something about the Twilight series that makes me feel like I’m reading a classic fairy tale, with a twist, and it’s always interesting to find a classic, that manages to be ‘new’.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


It is looking, and feeling, nicer and nicer outside, every day.

Nice enough to play outside in the evening, in short sleeves.


Nice enough for the flowers to be blooming.


Inheriting a ‘new’, yet established, garden is fun in the springtime… you don’t really know what is planted, and the garden keep popping up with all these lovely surprises!



Another wonderful addition to our backyard, is (finally), patio furniture!


Now, we just need to get a barbeque grill out there :)

Of course, not everyone is happy about all the new goodness on the outside.


Our cats are strictly indoor cats… for their safety and ours (and it really helps to keep them tamer and more kitten-y). They miss the kids when they go out to play! At least this tower, and our wide window sills, allow the cats to watch the fun.


If you snooze, you lose!


Your chair, that is.


Pumpkin is getting to be such a big guy! Not big enough that we couldn’t kick him off if we really wanted to, the cuteness factor saved him there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mmm! Minty!

I went to the local produce stand a couple of days ago and got there as the trucks were unloading. I was almost first in line for the freshest of goods, but some other woman beat me to it! That’s ok, there was enough goodness for us both. One thing I couldn’t resist, were the amazingly huge and beautiful yellow lemons and the bunches and bunches of fresh mint. (ok, that's TWO things... but they went together). I love to cook with mint, and I recently had a refreshing drink at a restaurant that I was determined to recreate at home. I found this recipe online, and adjusted it a little as so:

Mint Lemonade


Juice from 6 large lemons

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup fresh mint leaves, packed



Add lemon juice, sugar and mint leaves together and blend well. Strain. I used a hand strainer with a mesh approximately the size  of what you’d find in a flour sifter…  green bits will be in the drink, but who cares?! The drink is green anyway! (which meant that the kids did not want to try it, at all… and I didn’t push too hard because that meant more for me and Brad! They’ll learn… )

Return the juice mixture to the blender, add ice to make 4.5-5 cups. Blend (or ‘Smoothie’ or whatever ice crushing method your blender does best).

We haven’t tried this with the addition of rum, or bourbon (to make it sort of like a mint julep), it was amazingly refreshing as is. Maybe this summer we’ll try the alcoholic version. I might also try it in future by preparing the mint and lemon mixture in advance and chilling it, perhaps even freezing it slightly, to make it more of a slushy, frozen drink. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Busy Day

Actually, it’s been a very busy week. Very busy couple of weeks. We had a long, four day weekend in there somewhere, but I don’t actually remember having a break!

We had another AC unit installed in our house. I know it is chilly now, but it won’t stay that way! I love my kitchen, with the attached sitting room, but it gets HOT with all the windows – even if the oven is not being used! There is AC in other areas of the house, but it is divided into 4 sections: the front living room, the kids’ rooms, our room, and the kitchen & sitting room. All had AC except the latter. All are separated by doors, a hall, and a central room (kinda like a courtyard, but indoors). The AC does not travel zone to zone! Fortunately, we were authorized a 4th unit, and they took care of that, no problems!

Speaking of windows, we also had safety film put on all of ours. It is, of course, a reminder, that there is reason to think we might need it, but it is also pretty cool stuff when you think of it. It holds shattered glass in place to protect you from flying shards, it’s invisible, and it blocks UV rays. Not that expensive either. I wonder if you could get a discount on your homeowners insurance for it?

No photo evidence yet, but we had most of our art and photos hung up too. We don’t have anything that fancy – it’s all mix-n-match and goes with the rest of our stuff that’s been acquired as we wander(!), but it’s OUR junk and having it put in place makes this house more home-like :) We had to have help hanging things up because these walls are solid concrete… my drill is much too wimpy to bore through it, and forget hammering anything in!

Today has had me running all over. Ninja and Pixie went to the vet for a couple days hospitalization for spaying. Pumpkin is so confused now. He has been attached to me all afternoon. He does NOT like being away from his sisters! I also managed to get the car gassed up, and to visit the produce stand that I like. I don’t know how the prices stand up to the other produce stands, but it’s better than the grocery store, and compared to other places I’ve tried, the people are much more friendly. All I do is choose what I want, the guy picks the good fruits/veg for me, fills the bags, carries them to the register, then loads my car… never lets me tip him either. There are actually two stands side by side… I tried the second one once, and the difference was night and day. Anyway, after a quick stop to the grocery store for the rest of my shopping, I finally made it home… and just in time, as my head was pounding with a terrible headache.

I had fattoush salad for lunch – it consists of greens, cucumber, tomato, mint leaves, onion, and toasted bits of flat bread as croutons, with oil & lemon dressing, and sumac sprinkled generously on top. Very refreshing!! To make it a bit more filling, I threw a few balls of mint labenah (yogurt cheese) on top. That fixed my tummy, but my head still hurt. Pumpkin and I managed to fit in a nap before the kids got home, but it’s now 4:30 in the afternoon, and my head is still killing me. I took more meds and have my fingers crossed that these will do the trick. We’re planning on meeting Brad for steak night at the club and while it is always very nice (and yummy), it can be loud in there at times because it is a family night. Never mind though… if I suffer, at least it will be a well-fed suffering, and it’s our TGIF, so I can sleep in tomorrow!