Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marriage and Towels: A Lesson in Gender Differences. Maybe.

My bathroom linen closet

Some background: I have a Thing about towels.  I like big, plush, thick, absorbent towels, and, I do not like towels that are showing wear-and-tear. Even when I was in college and penniless, my towels were always in good shape. It's just a Thing I have.  (I'm a decided person in some areas of my life and one of those areas happens to be towels. I know what I like and I'm actually willing to shop to get it.)  About two years ago, after we moved here, I redid our bathroom colors.  In the past, we had green  and cream colored towels but the green towels were starting to fray.  I kept trying to put them in the dog towel bin but then I'd forget and they'd end back up in the linen closet and then it would strike me that I was using a towel that I had used on the DOGS and the cycle would start again.  So, I went completely out of my mind, ordered dark brown and light BLUE towels and that's what we've been using.

More background: My husband is an impeccable dresser and a phenomenal bargain shopper when it comes to clothes.  This year, his work has kept him so busy that he hasn't been able to really take advantage of the end-of-season sales. (Y'all, it's All Bathing Suits, All The Time in the stores despite the fact that it's still in the 50's here during the day and in the 30's at night.  I guess by the time we have to turn the air conditioner on, there will be nothing but parkas in the stores.)

(But I digress.)


Anyway, Coop has been doing some sale shopping on-line and on Saturday, a package arrived from Ralph Lauren.  In it was a gorgeous sweater (green, less than half price), a few other shirts and...a towel.

A lone green towel.

I looked at him.

"I bought a towel."

"You bought a towel?"


"Why did you buy a towel?"

"I wanted a green towel."

"So, you bought ONE green towel?"

"Well, I didn't want to presume to buy towels for the house or anything, but I wanted a green towel."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal.  It's just one towel."

"It's much more than one towel.  Now we have to change the colors of the bathroom so that we match."

"No, we don't.  We'll just have one green towel."

"You can't have just one green towel."

And a bit later, I said, "I can't believe you bought ONE towel.  Do you know, I don't think I've ever bought ONE towel in my entire LIFE?  I mean, you need hand-towels that match and you need at least a matched set..."

"Look," he said.  "I'm a simple person.  There are a few things I like to have and one of them is a green towel."

"You always say that, but you are NOT a simple person and your list of things you have to have is longer than a few items.  But that's beside the point. *I* would have bought green towels had I known of your obsession.  But I wouldn't have bought just ONE OF THEM."

"I have always had a green towel.  Ever since you've known me, I have had a green towel."

"That is just NOT true.  When I met you, your towels were blue and gray, and all frayed and gross.  I BOUGHT you your first green towels."

"Oh.  Well, I LIKE green towels."

"So, you bought ONE.  One lone towel, just for yourself."

"I can send you the link if you want to buy some more.  It was on sale."

"Okay, so now I guess we'll have green towels again."

"I didn't want to make a decision for you or the bathroom.  I just wanted a green towel."

"So you bought one.  One."


So, I don't know what any of this means.  We totally do not see each other's side of this issue. It isn't like Men are from Mars, Women are from's more like men are from some small planet that only THEY inhabit.  (And all the towels are green.) I feel like if I could get to the bottom of it, I would totally understand the difference between how men and women think.

(Lest you think I could let this golden opportunity to tease my spouse pass, though, later that afternoon, I suggested he wash the dogs since it was such a beautiful day.  I promised him green dog towels.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Is Too Much. No, Seriously.

Just now, I was outside, trying to figure out why my puppy was barking at a window well. He's destroyed most of the window well covers --sigh. This one has a huge hole in it but he was just barking at it.

So, I shut him back inside and went to take a look.

Look at that!!!

What IS that??

Look, here's a better picture of one of them.

Are they mice?  If they ARE mice, do they have to be that cute?

Okay, I did a little research (love Google) and I think this might be a Woodland Vole.

Which is just TERRIBLE NEWS.

First of all, I don't know if I've already mentioned this but we have this infestation of ladybugs in our master bathroom.  I think they came in when we brought the plants in for the long winter.

Y'all.  I have been losing sleep over those dumb lady bugs: Do they have enough to eat?  How do I get them back outside? What if my bubble bath is toxic to lady bugs? What is the life expectancy of a lady bug, anyway?  What if I accidentally squash one?  Now that they are in my bathroom, I feel very responsible for them!

And now this!  Now VOLES!

And it gets worse! It turns out that this species of the Vole is MONOGAMOUS. How can I possible exterminate rodents that share my core values??

Plus, okay, even if I don't off the little suckers, how am I going to keep the cats away from them?  Our cats wear bells but they are sneaky, sneaky buggers. And the puppy...he's already proven to destroy window-well covers and they're NOT EVEN ALIVE.

Of course, they may NOT be voles--I didn't see any tails on the little guys.

(Back to Wikipedia.  Much clicking.)

Oh, okay, they're SHREWS.

I think.

(And, in some version of life being stranger than fiction, they appear to be misplaced SOUTHERN Short-tailed Shrews.  Normally not found in the North.)

(Just letting that sink in for a second.)

(Is it just me or does anyone else think it's strange that a misplaced Southerner shows up in the yard of another misplaced Southerner?)

(Of course, the SHREW is venomous.)

(Just, you know...sayin'.  Just thinking that certain misplaced Southerners are better equipped than others.)

So, for those of you keeping score at home, now I have a master bathroom infested with ladybugs, two misplaced Southern, venomous shrews (who may or may not share my core values) living in my window wells AND I need to go out and buy all new window well covers to keep my pets OUT of the window wells.

This could happen to you, too, right?  Maybe it already has?

Right.  That's what I thought.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Want to Write of Joyful Things

I am sitting here bursting with things to write about. Ana (12) and I spent a day in New York City shopping with some favorite people yesterday. My book is coming along. There are signs of spring everywhere. My husband bought a towel --yes, singular. I have things to tell you!

Unfortunately, I won't be writing to you about them today because while walking all around shops in NYC yesterday and shopping for clothes and trying on silly hats, I overdid it in a big way on my poor foot. Today I am on the couch, taking painkillers and waiting for this soul-crushing, creativity-zapping HUMORLESS pain to subside.

You know, pain is a funny animal. Or, really, I guess humans are funny animals with regard to pain. Because despite having spent the better part of a year living with this chronic, excruciating pain, I just kind of forgot how bad it is. I've been beating myself up lately for not having accomplished more during my enforced couch arrest -- why DIDN'T I knit an afghan or write three novels or develop an entirely new way of exercising without actually having to GET UP?

Now I remember why I didn't get anything done.

Because right now? I can't even knit. I tried to get up and fold a load of laundry and, y'all, I just could not do it. The pain is so loud and of such suckitudinal* hugeness that all I can do is sit here and wish it would go away. Just try to endure it; try to outlast it. Such a freaking waste of time and energy.

I guess a big difference between the Lost Year and today is that I have faith that if I stay off of my foot today, it will be better tomorrow. I didn't have that faith back then because we didn't have an answer as to why I was in so much pain to begin with.

So, here, look at the pretty kitties, all snuggled up together.
I'll see you tomorrow.

* Why, yes, I made up a word. YOU WANNA MAKE SOMETHING OF THAT??

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

For Ana, With All of My Love

Dear Ana,

Yesterday morning I dropped you off at school and you jumped out of the car and rushed off to meet your friends. I think you felt like you'd forgotten to say goodbye because, as you reached the door to the school, you turned around, caught my eye and waved.

I took a snapshot in my mind of your smile, and waved back with enthusiasm.

I drove on to Fairway Market and bought all of the ingredients for your 12th birthday cake.


All day long, I wrote to you in my head. I kept trying to come up with words strong enough to describe how I feel about you, how much I see in you, how proud I am of you. My eyes kept filling with tears as I thought about how much I owe you --I would be less than half the person I am now if you hadn't made me your mother.

I got up early to write to you and found that I just couldn't seem to... express myself. You know that this is an unusual state of events. (Mom Is Speechless. Alert the Media.)



I think there's just so much I want to tell you. Mistakes I made that I hope you don't make. Things I hope you'll do with fearlessness. Messages that our society gives woman that I hope you'll disregard. Things that make me happy that might make you happy, too. How blessed I feel every time I see glimpses of the person you are. How much I love being with you, singing with you, laughing with you. How my heart seems to overflow with joy and hope when I watch you stride away from me, confident and secure in who you are.

How beautiful I think you are –inside and out. You’re the real deal, Ana: you are a genuinely kind, compassionate, beautiful, intelligent, warm and funny person. You’re a great friend, you’re calm in a crisis, you’re self-deprecating but not insecure. You add so much to the world around you just by being you.


I guess that’s mostly what I want to say, actually. That although I know you do, and will strive to do, better and bigger things, in the end, the person you ARE is exactly right -- is exactly enough. It’s important not to confuse who you ARE with what you do. You will do great things, or you will do small things with great joy –that’s your choice. But who you ARE is already such a gift to the rest of us.



Happy birthday, Ana Katherine. May this year fill you with as much joy as you have given me.

And...any time you want to turn around, I'll be right here, waving back.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tired of the Snark

I am on day five of a constant headache (sinus infection, maybe) and I am feeling a little snarky.  "Snarky," according to the Wiktionary, is an adjective meaning:
  1. (informal) Snide and sarcastic; usually out of irritation.
I've been thinking a lot about the difference between snarkiness and humor lately.  

Wiktionary defines humor as:
1.  Something funny, e.g. a joke, satire, or parody.
He treated the sensitive subject with enough humor that no one was offended. 

2. Four fluids (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm) that were believed to control the health and mood of the human body

3. A mood, especially a bad mood.  He was in a particularly vile humor that afternoon. 

4. Either of the two regions of liquid within the eyeball, the aqueous humour and vitreous humour.

(I'm really only concerned with the first definition for this post, although, as we all know, I have intimate knowledge of the last one.)

(Also, as I read a little further about the etymology of the word, it said this: From Middle English < Old French humor < Latin humor, correctly umor (moisture) < humere, correctly umere (to be moist)

(Which made me laugh.)


Anyway, look, the basic definition of humor is "something funny" and the basic definition of snarkiness is "something snide."

It seems like there's this epidemic of people confusing the two on the Internet, and I find that my Twitter, Facebook and Blog Reader are all filled with The Snark.

It makes me tired, the Snark.  I mean, there is already so much negativity out there.  So many people using the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet to take crass and irrelevant pot-shots at other people simply because they hold differing views. So many people taking evidence of common human frailty (weight gain or aging or momentary bad judgment) to say something snide and soul-crushing under the guise of being funny.  

Well, it's NOT funny.  

It's MEAN.  

There is a difference.

I've been thinking about the things that make me laugh: the earnestness of babies, of puppies, of Dave Barry --there's no smirk there.  No Snark.

Even when Dave is TRYING to be sort of snarky, he's really just funny.  "Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing."  See, he's TRYING to make fun of golfers, but it's not in an "I'm cooler than the people about whom I snark" way and therefore, it is FUNNY. We all already know that Dave has hideous clothing himself.  It's been established.

Same with this one: "Guys are simple... women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious. The whole point is guys are not thinking much. They are just what they appear to be. Tragically."  See, we know Dave is a GUY, so this is funny.

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." Funny to anyone who has every ridden with a dog in a car.

"Hobbies of any kind are boring except to people who have the same hobby. This is also true of religion, although you will not find me saying so in print."   

(I want to grow up to be Dave Barry.)

See, I think true humor is INCLUSIVE and based on shared experiences.  Snarkiness that is trying to be funny is usually aimed at making someone else feel bad --for the way they dress or eat or vote or whatever.

I want to start a new Anti-Snark Movement.  Because, People, we are killing our collective good nature under the guise of a smirk.  If something someone writes makes you smirk, it's usually not funny, it's usually MEAN.

(In the words of the immortal Dave: "I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care.")

So, first of all I think we need a button.  Anyone out there who can design an Anti-Snark button?  I would volunteer except, well, that requires more knowledge than I possess of the inner workings of computer design stuff. (And I already have a headache.)

And then we need a regular feature on an Anti-Snark Rock Star (TM). THIS I am qualified to do and I am going to do this on Tuesdays because Tuesdays are typically hard for everyone. There is just something so TUESDAY about them --we need to take them back. I propose we begin with visiting a new (to me) blog I've just discovered. MurrMurrs is the blog of Murr Brewster. It's sort of a literary blog--sort of like what Mark Twain would be writing if he were alive and blogging today.

Enjoy, and tell her she's an Anti-Snark Rock Star.

Here, laugh at the baby dancing --it's FUNNY:

Thursday, March 04, 2010


If you are of the Male Persuasion, just be forewarned that today's blog post may cause you a bit of psychic pain. It includes the words Feminine Hygiene and Tampons and Pads (not the apple variety, either) in it.  Also, the word LOVE. And some laughter at the expense of a guy.  I'm sorry and we all understand if you're skipping this one and going out for coffee.

This morning, I had to take the no-longer-so-tiny Jane (9) back to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics for what appears to be a lingering sinus infection and also put my fears of pneumonia to rest.  On the way home, I went to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled.

Note: I was having a difficult day.  I think being cooped up inside with an ill child all week, plus my husband getting the cold and being completely miserable, plus the dead-of-winter Suckiness of All Suckage, plus my complete inability to get anything at all done, EVER, IN MY WHOLE FREAKING LIFE finally got to me.

I dropped off the prescription and sat down next to this enormously pregnant woman and her mother.  There was no chatting or anything --the place was a zoo, plus this is NEW YORK where that kind of chatting doesn't happen without an icebreaker.  Over in Feminine Hygiene, a kind of scary guy in braids and a black leather jacket seemed to be hanging out.  I assumed he was waiting for his prescription.

After about ten minutes, the woman behind the counter came out and approached Scary Guy and said, in a voice that would etch glass, "Do you need some help?"

Scary Guy paused for a minute as if trying to decide if he should just surrender or run like hell.

"Yes, I guess I do."  He showed her the list in his hand.  "I'm supposed to get this but I...I'm looking...See, it says..." He handed her the list.

"So, on the list, these are TAMPONS and you're here in the PAD section," said the clerk.


"So, now let's walk over here to the TAMPONS and try to find what you're looking for."

They disappeared from view and I, apparently raised by wolves, let out a little giggle.

The pregnant woman looked over.  "Man, that boy is in LOVE."

Much nodding from the other woman.  "You gotta love that his girlfriend sent him to buy her stuff." 

"You gotta love that he actually came to buy it."

"I wish MY boyfriend would do that."

"My husband would rather DIE."

And, y'all, I didn't mean to but I opened my mouth to agree and what came out was, "I wish I had that on video."

And then we all laughed so hard we almost fell out of our chairs.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Cough, the Sock, the Blues Vanquished

My poor little puppy.
My Janie (9) is sick.

She was fighting a really awful cold over much of the weekend and woke up on Monday with a fever and a side ache. I took her to the doctor and the strep test was negative but the doctor did say that her cough was worrisome and that we needed to make sure it doesn't get any worse in case it's

*deep breath*


(Note that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER GOOGLE "child pneumonia" unless your child is now over the age of 60.) (Maybe not even then.)

So, that's what I've been doing this week.

I've been staring at Jane, willing her cough not to be worse. Willing her fever away. Willing her appetite back.

Apparently it worked because her fever is gone today and although her cough is still horrifying, it's not any WORSE than it was.

Did y'all just feel that sigh of relief? I mean, it was so big that I think my bones all melted and pooled on the floor at my feet.


In other news, I have cleansed my Knitting Karma.

(Ana's sock.  Claudia hand-painted sock yarn in Bearded Iris (which was just a dream to work with and which doesn't photograph near as vibrantly colored as it is in real life.  Thuja sock pattern.)  (Yes, AGAIN.)  (So sue me.)

Yes, that is a seriously flat foot.  Mercifully, she seems to have inherited her feet from her father--fast, flat feet with no deformed bones.  The interesting thing about this sock, though, is that I really played with the stitch count.  I realized that I wasn't making my socks tight enough on the wearer's foot.  So while I started out with 52 stitches for the cuff, the foot only has 44 stitches.  It fits her long slender foot perfectly.  Unfortunately, her feet are still growing so who knows how LONG it will fit her but them's the breaks with custom socks. (Must now knit the second sock before I forget what I did.)


We had the most beautiful snowfall this morning.  It's not cold enough to make the roads awful, but it's just enough to fill me with that sense of peace, kind of like when I go to the ocean. I stood at the kitchen window and watched it, filled with a sense of tranquility and filling my cup back up.

Monday, March 01, 2010

I Won (Knitting) Olympic Gold. Feh.

So, I finished my Olympic Knitting in plenty of time before the real Olympic torch was extinguished.

And honestly?  I could not have cared less.

Seriously, it is the most unsatisfying thing I've ever knitted, especially when the end result looks so small and not-at-all stole-like.

I washed it and blocked it before I even wove in the ends because, well, why bother? (Plus, I forgot.)

So, then Ana (11) and I decided that at least we should have some fun with it and we decided to use the pets to model it.  (Okay, this is after I suggested that SHE model it and the look of revulsion that crossed her face made me realize that I had crossed the Invisible Cool Mom Line (ICML) so I hastily changed the subject.)

We didn't have great luck with Edward, who is firmly convinced of his own unadorned beauty therefore refused to even, um, WAKE UP for the photo shoot. (Freaking prima donna.)

So, then I tried to put it on the Puppy Austin whereupon Scout (our older, mentally unstable dog) came UNGLUED. Yes, Scout--our dog who pees all over himself if you so much as look at him while you are saying hello, decided the time had come to take a stand.  He was going to protect his friend Austin from Scary Knitted Goods!  Because they are Knitted.  And Scary!

I thought he was going to nip me, which is when I made the Scary Knitted Goods look like nice soft wisps of lace by comparison. (Because, you know, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE.) (And then I got to clean up the floor.) (Freaking submissive urinator.)

So then we tried Thomas, our big fat kitty.

Thomas, it turns out, is a NATURAL at this modeling gig.

"You're sure this is a designer original?"
"Let me have a moment here to find my inner motivation..."

Thomas's come-hither waif (HAHAHAHA!) look.
"Don't hate me because I am orange."
"Fasten your seatbelts, kittens, it's going to be a bumpy night."

"What do you mean I'm not getting paid?  I want my agent on the phone NOW! And where's the tuna? I was promised TUNA!"

Next year, I'm thinking about knitting my own final resting place.