Sunday, May 31, 2009

Alternative Ratings Systems

(This will be the second telling of my weekend tale because Blogger ate my first one. Which was better. Well, okay, I don't KNOW that it was better but it just seems like the one that gets deleted is ALWAYS better.)

A few weeks ago at Knit Night, I was talking about my current project, which is a blanket done mostly in double moss stitch. I was saying that the stitch is deceptively simple because I can't knit it if I've had more than one glass of wine. My friend Martha started to laugh and suggested we should have some sort of rating system for stitches. Like, one to four wine glasses. I loved the idea! So, then, naturally, I started thinking of all the other things that need ratings systems like that and what the possible symbols could be.

Take this weekend, for example. I thinking this was a three toilet kind of a weekend.

I am writing this from a Laundromat.

I haven’t been inside of a Laundromat since 1990.

Things have changed somewhat.

For example, all of the machines are front loaders. (Apparently, I am the last person in America to join the front loader craze. Mine, however, is being delivered on Tuesday.)

Also, the prices are insane. I guess those front loaders are expensive. (Well, okay, I don’t GUESS at that. I know. Because I just bought one and it’s being delivered on Tuesday. Tuesday will be a banner day at the Cooper Clubhouse.)

The loads I am washing are $6.00 each for the giant ones and $4.50 for the smaller ones. There are only two giant machines and I am using both of them, as well as two smaller ones. (For those of you keeping score at home, that's $21.)

Now, I realize that you are sitting there scratching your head and wondering why I am doing so much laundry today when my new machine will be delivered on Tuesday. (TUESDAY!) Especially because you know me and I have something of a laundry fetish and therefore was completely caught up on the laundry when the washing machine broke last Thursday.

Ah, I am resisting the urge to make all sorts of bad jokes about what a freaking craptastic weekend it’s been –and oh, my goodness, I just SO mean that both literally and figuratively.

On Friday, my husband Coop went on a “bonding with the guys from work” overnight trip and my older daughter Ana went out to a movie and then out to eat with Two "N" Anna and Nina. Ana got home at 12:40 AM. (I waited up. Because I'm a mom and I think it's in the job description.) Then, as we were all almost asleep, one of our orange kitties, Edward, started throwing up and trying to poop all over the upstairs. He's had some sort of intestinal blockage in the past and I was very afraid that's what we were dealing with. I think I slept from 2:30 - 4:30. He fouled my bed at 5:00, then our older dog SCOUT started barking to go out at 5:30. NOT the new puppy, Austin; the older puppy Scout. Like most older siblings, Scout regressed when we brought the baby home.

So, I got up with them and drank an entire pot of coffee and then made an appointment for Edward at the vet. I was going to drop Jane off at a birthday party party first but it was the weirdest thing --there was no one at the house! The party was supposed to be from 10:00 - 12:30. We got there about 10:10 and no one answered the door. I had the invitation with me and we double-checked the date and address and there just wasn't anyone there. There were three cars parked beside the house and all looked fairly normal...but I got a funny feeling. (I'm allowed to listen to those funny feelings because that, too, is in the Mom job description.)

So I took Jane with me to take Edward to the vet. By then, he seemed to have worked through whatever his blockage was but Dr. Jeff (love him) told me to call him at home if anything came up. Edward peed all over the carrier and we brought him back home.

Since Jane didn't get to go to her party, we had a little birthday party at the house. I baked a cake. Yes, from scratch. Because Jane was sad and she said that the cakes *I* make are better than the store bought kind. We checked and double-checked the address and the maps and everything and came to the conclusion that maybe the party had been canceled. Jane said she felt sorry for her friend if the party had to be canceled and that she wanted to take the present to her friend at school on Monday.

I am such a sucker for that kid.

Except that later in the afternoon? Janie let the F-bomb fly in front of our neighbor's children and was so mortified that she ran into the woods. I was plenty embarrassed, too, but honestly? I can kind of understand it. First of all, I don't think she meant to say that particular word. She said she said it on accident and I believe her. I know, I know, I have fallen for more than one Jane story. But she just recently learned what that word was and it's been kind of burning a hole in her pocket (so to speak) ever since. You know how you can be trying so hard NOT to do something that you accidentally do it? I think that's what happened. (I'm a mother and I choose to believe her. See the mom job description --it's allowed.)

So, anyway, we sent half of our cake over the the neighbors via one adorable, repentant courier who had an apology at the ready. My husband came home at about 7:30, having gone to the grocery store. Things were looking up.

The next morning, I was awakened when Edward pooped on the floor of my bedroom. My husband had gotten up to let the dogs out and had left Edward shut into the room with me and Edward, still having some issues, just couldn't hold it. I stumbled downstairs, got all the cleaning stuff, cleaned up and then fed all the beasts (human and other.) Coop was out on a bike ride.

Meanwhile, we have no washer (New one: Tuesday. Yea!) and six million loads to do. Also? I had to put all the dirtied sheets, comforter and towels in the garage because they were so stinky. So, I loaded up the car and headed to the Laundromat, where I sit writing to you now.

(Or I WAS writing to you from the Laundromat, until Blogger ate my post. It's now Monday morning and there have been many more incidents in which poop figured largely. I think I might actually have to upgrade the weekend rating to FOUR toilets.) (Listen, there are other symbols but this one doesn't make me want to throw up.)

(Also? To add to the general surreal aspect of the weekend, this is what I saw when I opened the door of my car in the Laundromat parking lot: Yes, it's a fake mustache. Of course it is.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventures in the City

My husband and I went on an impromptu date on Tuesday.

The thing about living near New York City is that we have opportunity to do all of these exotic, wonderful, cultural things. The other thing about living near New York City is that for much of the time, we might as well be still living in Texas. Trying to make the arrangements necessary to travel that thirty miles to get into the city requires a LOT more planning than just getting in the car and going. For one thing, up here, we plan around the traffic, the same way the people in "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" planned around the food weather. Traffic is a Force of Nature up here. No plans can be made to do ANYTHING without taking it into consideration.

And once you've conquered the traffic, there is the Parking.

And the Driving.

I'm still not entirely assimilated. My husband drives in the City (as we New Yorkers call it) and he does it without getting stressed out. I haven't tried driving in the City yet, mostly because just being a passenger makes me want to clamp the oh-my-God bar in my TEETH while simultaneously bracing my feet on the dashboard and covering my head with my arms.

But anyway, the stars aligned and we went to see the Spinal Tap guys in their 25th anniversary tour: Unplugged and Unwigged. Man, those guys can still pseudo-rock! We took pictures, which was ALLOWED, but because we took them with our cell phones (having never even considered that we could bring a camera) they all look like this:
(Why, yes, you can almost see Elvis Costello there in the middle. He popped in to do a song.)


So, there it is: an entire post in which I never even mention the word, "puppy" even once. I know not everyone is a dog lover and I'm trying to serve my audience. Only, um, there is yet another tremendous game of chase going on all over the downstairs and the puppy does this thing where he grabs hold of our older dog Scout's tail and will NOT let go. Scout's only recourse is to SIT on the puppy which, frankly, is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. If I can get it on video for you, I will. Meanwhile, look at how the puppy sleeps:


In other news, I've decided to join...well...EVERYONE and venture into the world of Twitter. (Blame Lance Armstrong, who Twitters everything.) You can follow me here: @sothethingis once you go to (I'll figure out how to link and why I'm not able to upload a picture very, very soon. I don't actually know what I'm doing nor how to put the updates on the blog but...well...I have good technical support.) (I'm also back on FaceBook, although this had more to do with being obsessed with a few word games than anything else.)


My washer just went out. I mean that in the sense that it is making this very awful, ominous sound and won't spin anything. (I knew this was coming and was just trying to nurse it along. Ah, well, now whenever I have to spend money I just think, "Hey, way to stimulate the economy!" Y'all can thank me for the economic upturn later.) Any suggestions for a replacement? I know I want a front loader but other than that, I have done no research.

Okay, I'm going to go Tweet unless you all would like for me to talk more about the puppy. No? Are you SURE?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Joy RUSH!!!

I KNOW that this is the way gardening is supposed to work. I'm SUPPOSED to plant my tomatoes and water them and feed them and at some point, they're supposed to produce fruit.

But it just...

I can't really express...


Here's the thing:

To me, each time the process works, I feel like I have personally received some sort of reassurance from the cosmos that life is chugging along the way it always has and, just maybe, always will. That despite all we've done to foul everything up on this planet and the horrible news stories and the war and waterboarding, in my tiny sliver of the world, all that is hopeful and miraculous and lovely is contained within this tiny green tomato.

I realize that's a lot of weight to put on this one fragile little thing but there are days when exactly this kind of reassurance is called for.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Midnight Rendevous

This blog post is a public service announcement to serve as a cautionary reminder to all of you who are thinking about getting a new puppy. (Maybe I forgot to mention that we had adopted one?)

Today's lesson is in contrast and comparison.

See this?

This is called an Air Plant. Well, it has some scientific name but I call it an air plant because it needs only AIR. No watering, no food --it sits on my window sill and requires NOTHING of me.

And now, see this?

Here's a nightly routine: At 3:00 IN THE MORNING, I am awakened from my cuddle with Edward because the puppy is crying. He's housebroken but he's still only 13 weeks old so he can't make it all the way through the night.

I stumble downstairs, not always literally but I don't have shoes on and the whole walking thing only works well for me if I am wearing my running shoes with the orthotics in them. (Which limits my fashion footwear, true, but let me just say: mobility cannot be rated highly enough.)

Anyway, I reach the crate where the puppy is bouncing around as much as he can, given that he really has to pee. I let him out from the crate, fend off his jumps by hissing the word, "OFF!" and side-stepping. Meanwhile, Scout, who has been sleeping in the room where the puppy's crate is, runs to the back door, barking.

Great. So much for not waking up the house.

The barking also summons Thomas, who would really like to go outside and decimate the baby bunny population. There aren't any coyotes in the woods behind our house, like there were in Austin, but there is at least one fox. I would probably bet on Thomas, were there to be a confrontation between the two (just given his girth) but I really don't want to test out my theory.

Would-Be Ruthless Bunny Hunter

Through some sort of gymnastics move, I manage to let Scout and Austin out, while keeping Thomas inside. As I am shoving Thomas back in, Austin squirms back inside because he doesn't want to go outside without me! I might miss all the fun! I assist him gently outside with my foot, while intervening between Thomas and the door and then manage to get myself outside, too.

In my bare feet and nightgown. It's maybe not a GOOD look for me but it's THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, not that I'm BITTER.

Austin finishes his business first (smaller bladder) and rushes back to the door. I am hissing at Scout to COME ON when I realize that he, um, has additional business to do. The the puppy remembers that Oh! Yeah! He does, too!

I'm freezing and those (no-see-um) bugs are biting me and Thomas is sitting on the inside of the glass door, narrowing his eyes at me. (I used to let the puppy in when he was ready and then wait for Scout but then Austin would cry to come! Back out! Where the people are! And that meant opening the door one more time and fighting with Thomas all over again. Eventually, I learned. It's hard to learn lessons at 3:00 IN THE MORNING.) Finally, everyone is ready to go inside and we do a reverse of the initial fight to get everyone out (but not Thomas.)

Then I have to pick Austin up, put him in his crate where he begins to cry piteously until I can go corral Scout and make him go back into the Pygmy Maid's Room to babysit.

At 5:00 IN THE MORNING, we lather, rinse and repeat, except for the going back to bed part.

Well, ACTUALLY, after I've drank (drunk?) almost the entire pot of coffee, Austin does this: Right at about 6:45 when the rest of the house is getting up.

Well, SOME of the house is getting up.

(And yes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Tonight, actually.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Never Gets Old

We have a new puppy. (Maybe I've mentioned him?) I have been spending as much time with him as I possibly can, and since the weather has been good (mostly) we've been spending a lot of time outside. I have a farmer's tan and I'm covered with bites from some tiny insect that I can't ever seem to catch in the act of biting me. (Anyone know what these are? Because I'd like to add it to my list of things to ask God about after I die, along with acne, war, mosquitoes and the whole Middle East thing.)

Anyway, the entertainment is pretty fabulous in my backyard. We have the ongoing squirrel and bird activity, we have the garden and planting all new stuff according to my friend Donna's advice so I'll be so surprised next year when, assuming I haven't ripped it all out thinking it's weeds, it bursts into bloom.

And then we have this:

It's pretty much like cable television--on 24/7. And for some reason, I just think it's the funniest thing ever.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brain Limitations

The title of this post has nothing to do with being so sleep deprived that I came within a hair-breadth of throwing my cell phone instead of a ball for our new puppy. (Did I mention that we had a new puppy? Were y'all even aware of that fact?)

No, the title of this post is because I have come up against a real limitation of my brain --something I just cannot do (besides remember to bring my grocery list with me when I go shopping.)

Our friends Mike and Sherry came for dinner on Sunday and introduced me to a game that is played on my iPhone. (Well, first they helped me update my iPhone, which hadn't been updated in, oh, a year and a half. Whoopsie.) The game is called Scramble and it's a sort of word search. (I only included the link because of the YouTube video that shows how the game is played. The narrator guy is REALLY annoying and also? He has gum in his mouth. Who makes a podcast with gum in his mouth? People who were raised by wolves, that's who. Just watch the first two minutes and shut that dude right down.)

Note: Every Thursday morning for the past school year, I have made Jane (8) a word search out of her spelling words. Y'all, I KNOW word searches. I'm the person who always does them in the airline magazines before you get on your flight. I like words. I like word searches. I can HANG with the word searchers, know what I mean?

But I cannot play this game. My brain just doesn't seem to be able to find the words unless they are linear and this game is totally based on being able to pick out words with letters going in all directions. (Which you'd think would be easier but it turns out to just be beyond me.)

Oh, wait--this just in: Never mind.

I was going to write this whole blog post about the difference in learning styles and how I've never quite figured out which way I learn best. And how important it is to recognize not only how WE learn best, but also how our KIDS learn best. And I was going to ask if you all knew YOUR learning style and if so, how did you figure it out?

But it turns out that I'm actually pretty average at the game. And getting better, since I have a lot of time in between throwing the ball for the puppy (Did I tell you about him?) and following him around taking stuff out of his mouth.

So, there goes THAT whole analogy. So much for THIS blog post.

Here, look at the cute doggy:
Austin's learning style is oral--as in, he puts everything in his mouth. (This picture makes me laugh because his tiny brain is clearly overheating at the riches of having two such amazing toys from which to choose.) (Well, either that or he's holding on to the rubber bone because he knows I'll be taking that stick away from him...)

Aside Number One: I kept writing LEANING style but that is not at all what I meant. I KNOW my leaning style, thank you. Right this second for example, I am leaning heavily on caffeine.

Aside Number Two: I have a subject category on this blog that says, "I don't do linear --EVER." I now know that this is not true. I do do linear-- wait, that doesn't look right. What I mean to say is that I AM capable of linear thinking --in word searches.

Aside Number Three: The annoying dude in the video? Has a high score of 34. Mine is more than TWICE THAT. HAH! Not that I'm the least bit competitive or anything.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hey Out There!

Hi! It's me, Barb.

Did you know I got a puppy? Have I mentioned that? You sure?

Want to see what I do all day?

(Videography by Ana who has had the puppy careen into her legs one too many times.)

That's right...I stand around all day watching the puppy and laughing.

Want to see more? Oh, sure you do... Here's where Scout is teaching Austin to get the paper.

Y'all forgive me for being a little excited, right? Because we've only had him since Friday. I think I've had two showers (counting the one I'm about to take) and about ten hours of sleep. He slept a good stretch last night--5.5 hours and I am not kidding, he appears to be housebroken. He's had one accident in the house since we brought him home.

Clearly, I have lost not only my heart to the puppy but I've lost my mind as well. I'm likely to tell perfect strangers, "Hey, we got a new puppy!" I promise to be back with a REAL post tomorrow. No, really.

(But isn't he so cute?)

(For those of you who get the blog via e-mail, there are several YouTube clips of our new dog, Austin, in this post. It you click on the post title, it should take you to the blog and you can run the videos there. Because I know how you can't get enough of my inane giggle.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Happy Mother's Day to you mothers (pets count!) (Especially THIS Mother's Day, pets count DOUBLE!) What a wonderful day I am having. I wish I could give this day to every reader--this expansive sense of gratitude for my blessings; the sheer joy I feel watching my garden burst into bloom; the almost palpable sense that this very moment is perfect and I need to store it in my heart for the gray days.

I will talk more about my perfect Mother's Day at some point but for right now, I want to talk All Puppy, All the Time.

I am so smitten with our new puppy. Y'all would just laugh at me.

You all know that I am never given to exaggeration, right? I'm a straight-forward, laid-back, allergic-to-drama-and-hyperbole kind of gal. Just for the record, though: he IS the most adorable, sweetest, best, smartest puppy EVER.

Things about him I just adore:

He puts his leg up to scratch his neck and usually topples completely over.

His back end seems occasionally to come loose from his front and his back paws will sort of creep in front, turning him around and befuddling him completely.

Sometimes, very occasionally, Scout will play a game of “chase” with the puppy instead of BARKING AT HIM ALL THE TIME and when that happens, I laugh so hard that I have to sit down, completely incapacitated. (Actually, some 48 hours into our new adventure, Scout has just...blossomed as a big brother. He baby-sits the puppy outside, playing endless games of chase in which he completely tuckers the little boy out. He may have even house-broken the little guy, who has done his business outside since the first night he was here.)

Austin has a little white patch on his chest and he has a big white patch shaped like a star on his bottom. He makes me think of the Sneetches.

If I scratch his neck or rub his belly, his eyes will roll back in his head and he is hypnotized.

He has the most beautiful (huge) feet —black pads but that gorgeous shepherd brindle colored fur around them.

His ears are lined in the same light fur.

He's a very serious puppy and he will sit looking like he is trying to decipher the world and then suddenly? He'll chew on his own foot.

Coop gave him a bath and it turns out that even DOG babies smell good after their baths.

When he’s ready to nap, he finds me and falls asleep on my shoe.


So far, the cats are fairly resigned to this new interloper. Thomas is pretty "whatever" with him (oddly enough, it finally occurred to me who Thomas would be if he were reincarnated as a human: The Big Labowski) but Edward will actively hiss if the puppy comes near and if the puppy comes too near, Edward will show him the business end of some claws. The puppy is a quick study and he gives Edward a wide berth but he routinely works Thomas's head over. I think he's so smart! Most of my friends can't even tell Edward and Thomas apart!


I spend just a huge amount of time saying, "What are you eating?" and "Don't eat that."


We were tossing around names in the car and Ana (11) liked Tex, short for Texas. She called her friend Nina to tell her about the puppy and Nina and I suggested "Austin" at almost the same time. Ana texted her dad and asked if he liked that. He said, "I like'Austin'" so in Ana's mind, it was settled. She started calling the puppy Austin.

We forgot, however, about the Jane factor.

Ana, in the manner of a big sister wanting to show the little sister that the little one doesn't ALWAYS get her way, introduced the puppy to Jane (8) as Austin.

Instant tears.

"We can't name the puppy Austin because it will make me too sad every time I say it." Jane proceeded to try out all the names of her various boy friends and every time Ana called the puppy 'Austin,' Jane said, "We ALL have to agree." or "That is NOT his name."

And then she met him.

And fell madly in love.

By the time Coop got home from work and weighed in that he wasn't totally sure about naming the puppy Austin, that was his NAME.

So, in a way, Jane ended up naming this pet, much as she has every other one.

(I get this little secret Joy Rush whenever anyone calls him because he's named after a city (like Sydney was) and it's a city I love AND whenever anyone shortens his name, he or she calls him, "Aussie." Seems just right to me.)


So, can I tell y'all something?

Last night as I was lying awake listening to the puppy howl in his crate (we're Ferberizing him, something we never did with our human children), I thought a lot about Sydney and how my heart is still sore and missing her but how great it is that all that excess love I had left over when she died now has a place to go. It seems to me that if you've lost someone or a pet (or, hell, I still mourn the demise of our Ficus), part of the hard part of that kind of loss is not knowing what to do with that leftover love. My conclusion (at 2:00 AM) was that our supply of love is never diminished --with each new addition, our hearts expand. But it's kind of the ultimate recycling when not only do you get a new supply of love for a new family member, you also get to channel the love you weren't using toward him/her/it.

Does that make sense at all?

I'd draw y'all a diagram but I am really, really, really tired.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Puppy Time

So, you forget a lot between puppies. In fact, it's exactly like bringing home a new baby. I remember when we first brought Jane (our second daughter) home, I turned to my husband and said, "Have we ever even SEEN a baby before? Because I don't remember anything about babies."

I wrote a column about adding a second child once. If y'all want to go read that now, that'd be great because Austin is eating my kitchen rug and I need to go distract him.

************** (Clever denotation of time--at this rate, I should have this blog post finished by June. July at the latest.)

We'd begun looking for a puppy. I honestly wasn't sure I was ready --I still miss my Sydney so much. My husband told me that we would NEVER be ready and he actually started sending me websites with links to dogs and asking if maybe I wanted to go look at some dogs and he kept talking about puppies.

(I blame him.)

We had gone to a shelter in Glen Cove and looked at this adorable puppy but there was something just not right. I left there oddly depressed and wondering again if I was ready. Maybe it was still too soon.

But Coop kept sending me links and then he suggested I go visit another place and if I found a dog I liked, he and the kids could go get it on Saturday.

So, Friday morning, I went to visit the North Shore Animal League, which is the largest no-kill shelter in the world, according to its website. I walked in and met this shepherd/doberman mix who was really spunky and had this one deformed and half-missing ear.

I am a sucker for that kind of imperfection.

I called my husband because the volunteers all said that if we wanted him, we shouldn't wait until the next day because the puppies at the shelter always went really fast. We decided we needed a puppy because we have the two cats and it's impossible to tell how an older dog will react to cats until you're introducing them and then, you know, it's too late.

My husband, however, had a really fun day of meetings punctuated by conference calls with the odd teamwork, human resources issue thrown in. Nevertheless, he dropped everything and made it to the shelter within about an hour. I hung out in the puppy room and the more I observed my little mangled-ear friend, the more I questioned whether he wasn't the exact same kind of crazy that our cow dog, SCOUT, is. I mean, all the other puppies settled down and napped (all at the same time, actually. It was very cute.) But the puppy I was watching never napped. Not once. And he, um, kind of barked incessantly.

After Coop arrived, he and I talked about the fact that we already have ONE high-strung, neurotic, special needs pet and that maybe the introduction of another would really send us all over the edge. "Barb? I feel like I should say this but don't get mad. You HATE that Scout barks all the time."

Oh. Right.

While I'd been hanging out with the dogs, though, I'd noticed this other puppy in the crate above my mangled-ear friend. And he was ADORABLE. He was also a shepherd mix but it was pretty clear to me that he had a lot of Lab in him and my experience with Labs has been that they aren't always smart. The big lesson we learned from getting Scout is that intelligence is really important to us in our pets. (Well, in our DOGS. Our cats may be little rocket scientists but they never let on as it is not in their own self-interest. Because we might want to TRAIN them or something.) I was shocked when Coop held that little dog and started saying things like, "Well, you know, Labs are such NICE dogs and it'd be a great thing to have a nice, happy dog." And, "The simple fact of having TWO dogs will act as a deterrent to most would-be burglars."

I had to leave at this point to go pick up Ana from school on time. Coop, despite his day and the stress involved and the long application process (I think they checked references back to birth) adopted our new puppy and brought him home.

He called me from the car. "I was going to go back to work but I don't even have a leash or a crate or anything to contain him so I'm going to bring him home. But Barb, I think we got the exact right puppy. I put him in the back and after a while, he climbed up into my lap and just sat there, looking out the window. I think we may have gotten lucky with this one."


I already love him so much.

(More about the girls' reaction to him, how he got his name, how the other pets reacted (oy) and that adorable puppy belly tomorrow.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Where's the Ark?

Yesterday, I heard a radio announcer say, "Our latest weather forecast is that it is going to rain forever."

I believe her.

There was a brief respite yesterday afternoon and Jane (8) managed to plant her garden. I would take a picture of it to show you (because it is PRECIOUS) but it is raining. Again. Endlessly. Except for a few hours yesterday.

As soon as the sun came out, the Coopers all rushed outside, including two orange tabbies and one silly cow dog. We're just desperate for a little sun. We didn't want to come back inside...ever. (Unfortunately, neither did one big fat orange cat named Thomas who spent the night outside, trying to hide from the storms. When I let him in this morning and dried him off, you wouldn't even BELIEVE the language he used.)

Anyway, I've been walking around this morning imagining myself as Noah talking to God about the Big Flood. Which I'm quite sure is blasphemous but it's been raining FOREVER and that's just the way my mind works.

"God? It's me, Noah. You there?"

"Oh, hey! Hi! How are you? Good...good. How's the weather up there?"

"Well, you know, it's raining. No, that's too mild a term for what it's doing down here. It's storming like a mother. We're talking Biblical proportions, God."

"I know that was the plan. No, no, we're doing okay. I mean, my feet haven't been dry since all this started and a large percentage of the animals are experiencing some sort of intestinal distress. The squirrels won't stay out of the birdseed...but you know, we're all surviving."

"It's just that...God? I don't want to tell you how to do your job or anything but God? The animals and I have talked it over and we all agree that forty days is just a little...well...excessive."

"No, I know you're angry. It's your creation and you have a right to be angry but I'm just saying..."

"I just think forty days is too much. We're all so depressed, God, and no one has invented anti-depressants or those lamps that make fake sunlight --or, um, well, electricity to run them. It's really dark inside the boat and I'm not one to complain, but it smells like wet dog. No, like six THOUSAND wet dogs. Spirits are really low, God. I had to stop a cow dog from leaping overboard yesterday. It's a bad day when animals are trying to take themselves out of the gene pool. Even cow dogs."

"Well, I don't know, what's it been? Ten days so far? Is the rest of the planet under water? How long do you think it will take for the floods to recede? REALLY? That long? You can' that up a little?"

"Well, no, I understand. Unions are everywhere these days --I just thought maybe they wouldn't be in Heaven. I guess the angels have quite the lobby when they get together on something. And I know you've got other things to deal with and a new covenant with the people to draft. I'm not trying to add to your burdens."

"Maybe we could just have an afternoon of sunshine? Just to air the place out a bit? Aw, thanks, Big Guy. That'd be great."

"Also, um, God? We're out of kitty litter."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Organized Crime

So, you know how ever since we moved to New York I've been on the look-out for signs of organized crime? I mean, I watched a few seasons of The Sopranos. I've seen all of the Godfather movies. And then I moved to LONG ISLAND! Mob activity EVERYWHERE, right? I'm quite sure that organized crime is all around me.

Little did I know how close, though.

(Might have to click to enlarge.)

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Breathe in right this second. Can you feel it? Is joy contagious?

I sort of hate to write when I'm this happy. Because I think if I have to find a thesaurus to look up synonyms for gratitude, I might just be venturing into writing stuff that is sweet enough to cause tooth decay. If you're not in the mood for a bit of gushing, you might just want to skip this entry. Or floss after reading it or something.

This weekend has been...just right. Just filled to the brim with happiness in the Cooper house.

It didn't start out that way, actually. Saturday morning, I was drinking my coffee before anyone got up and I accidentally went to a blog I used to read daily but have let slip by the wayside.

Wait, I'm beginning wrong.

Here's the thing: I fight depression. (No! Really? Long time readers may insert massive eye-rolling at this point --y'all have earned it.) It's a very delicate balance, you know, staying in the green, happy zone. I have to be careful what I put in my brain because my brain (since I've had children, at least), is filtered through my heart. So, things like those memos recently released which detail acceptable methods of torture sanctioned by my own country's government? Those almost put me under the big dark curtain. I finally accept that as much as I can, I have to take responsibility for my mental health. So, I'm careful what I put into my brain because I never quite know what horrific news story will haunt me. (While this does not exactly make for an informed citizen, it DOES allow me to, um, function.)

Anyway, I went to this blog I haven't read in quite a while (having quit reading because of the pervasive negativity, actually) and I happened upon a post about "Little Ways I Fail" as a parent. And, whoo-doggy, there I went down the slippery slope--thinking of all the ways I fall short as a mom. Part of the problem of being me is that I seem to have an endless capacity to remember the times I've fallen short in parenting my girls, but I retain the things I do right for a whopping five whole minutes before I forget them. So I started thinking about the time I... nope, just don't go there. I had to put myself in the car, go to Home Depot and buy planting stuff to get past it.

But I did get past it. And the rain stopped and the sun came out and my husband, who spoils me beyond all measure, built me more planting beds and then went BACK to Home Depot and bought dirt to fill them. ORGANIC dirt.

As he was unloading the dirt, I was overcome. "Kiss me quick, I'm having a Joy Rush!" I said.

(He laughed and he did. Could I BE luckier?)

I guess what makes me so happy is the way my husband is so game to just make my dreams come true --even when it means hard physical labor for him or if it's something that HE is not all that passionate about. These raised beds that are taking over our backyard are not really the stuff of HGTV garden decor, if you know what I mean. I'm a very enthusiastic (and bad) gardener and I long to have some sort of lovely, elegant English-type garden that blooms year 'round. Right now, though, I'm interested in summer vegetables and so we have these raised beds, their placement dictated by where the sun falls. They are a little out of place in my backyard. My husband has never said a word. He's just so good to me.

Anyway, I spent the whole weekend feeling blessed and grateful. It's amazing to me how the attitude of thankfulness makes everything, every little thing, seem like a present. When Sunday dawned bringing a crushing migraine that sent me back to bed for two hours, I was so grateful for my family's willingness to put our plans on hold until I felt better. Doing the mountain of laundry felt like a way to give something back to them. In fact, I took a special load upstairs to restock my husband's underwear and undershirts just so when he opened his drawer, he'd find it full.

I know, I know...I'm probably certifiable.

So, sue me.

Among the funny things that happened this weekend:

On Saturday, I bought a trellis at Home Depot because on Friday, my friend Donna took me to a wholesale nursery. (She gets to shop wholesale because she has a business arranging and maintaining the office/showroom plants for various commercial entities. When I told my husband that she'd taken me with her to a wholesale nursery, I'm pretty sure he got a bit pale, no doubt picturing all of our grocery money disappearing into flowers...) I bought this plant with beautiful red flowers (Mandevilla) that needs a trellis to climb. I looked for a wrought iron one but couldn't find one so I bought this one:

The hilarious thing is that as I was checking out with it, the cashier took a look at the trellis and shook her head in disgust. "These things are so crappy," she said. "They come apart! I bought one last year and it just came apart. I should bring it back. You should bring it back if it comes apart."

Well, okay then.

Friday, May 01, 2009


It's a rainy, cool, gray day here in New York --the kind of gray that seeps into your spirit and takes the color right smack out of your life. I'm sort of fighting a migraine and feeling practically narcoleptic.

Here's my antidote, taken right from my own yard. (Click to embiggen, as always.)

So, that takes care of the spirit deficit. Now about the need for napping...

Oh, yeah.