Friday, October 27, 2006

Still Sleazy

I see I still have my porno ad. But as one of you pointed out, it is election season, so maybe this puts me right in line with the rest of the media.

Are any of you out there writers? I mean, people writing books?

Great- now can you remind me, please, why anyone on earth becomes a writer in the first place?

DIH is determined to finish her [insert string of ranting adjectives here] book in the next few months. But this is a dread task. I have files on top of files, draft bits on top of draft bits, chapter rewrites on top of chapter rewrite-- and for some reason I seem to have given every last one of them the same title on my hard drive, so I have to wade through every one before I remember what's in it.

I am also beginning to suspect I've done a lot of "mental rewriting." You know, the kind where you're dropping off to sleep and you suddenly get an inspiration- Aha! That's the way to say that! Perfect! Then you look at your manuscript a few days later and it seems you never wrote your inspiration down...

I am sick of wading through files. But the alternative is to start all over--- re-invent the wheel--

DIH is open to suggestions.

In the meantime I cling to the belief that it will all come right in the end.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh for pity's sake.

Every so often the powers that be at Google grant humble DIH an "ad." This is a little box at the top of my blog. I have no control over what goes into this box- usually it reflects something I've written about lately, if it's there at all.

But for the past few days some joker has seen fit to stick me with a porn ad. (Is it still there?) I have written to Google telling them to take it down, but no luck as of this moment.

Well, all I can say is there are a lot of idiots in the world, and apparently some of them are employed by the mighty Google. Maybe DIH will get lucky and they will be relocated to China where they can do Google's dirty work with more gusto.

In the meantime my apologies to my readers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I seem to be the only blogger in American not opining about Barack Obama. So I'd better catch up.

One of the most long-awaited moments in American politics occurred that fateful Election Eve two years back when Barack Obama, he of Harvard Law and divorced parents (could he be any more counter-cultural?), was elected to the United States Senate. I don't remember his acceptance speech, but man, do I ever remember THE LOOK ON JESSE JACKSON'S FACE.

The look that said, "It's OVER, Jesse. Get used to it."

Now that was worth waiting for, wasn't it?

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Down...

We got rid of an oak tree yesterday, after part of it fell in the front yard overnight. If you ever want to make new friends, have part of a huge tree come tumbling off its base and sprawl across your front lawn. Many, many people will stop and stare, I promise you.

So yesterday the inimitable Craig H. came by with his five kids and his chainsaw. We do not have five kids, but Richard went looking in the garage for his chainsaw before Craig arrived. ("I just want him to know I have one, too.")

Thankfully R's saw did not work, so Craig did all the sawing. At the critical moment we gathered his kids plus mine and one from the neighborhood to watch the 20-inch, 2-storey monster come crashing down. This was a lot of fun. It's not every day you get toyell "TIM-BERRRRR!" and mean it. Although Craig's wife says they actually get quite a few chances at her house.

DIH rejoices that there is one fewer squirrel condo in the world. Now if I can just find someone to haul away the wood.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cold One

We are deep into campaign season and the lawn signs are sprouting up like mushrooms. Here in Minnesota there's the same landscaping dichotomy you see every fall: within the Twin Cities the lawn signs are all for the DFLers, but the minute you leave the city limits they're all for Republicans. Being a city person I tend to see mostly the DFLers.

One sign in particular has held my interest for weeks now: apparently there's a beer running for state office. Blue "awards ribbon" design on a white background, red diagonal stripe behind the blue ribbon. I've seen this design before, on the labels of beer bottles. Pabst Blue Ribbon. I wonder if they'll sue for copyright in fringement.

Today I got a flyer from the Pabst man. "My name is Alex Whitney, and I'm a Gay Republican." The photograph is of a young guy with brown hair, wearing what looks like a wedding band on his right hand and a loud green Izod polo shirt,complete with alligator. The "preppie circa 1979" look.

All things considered I think I'd rather vote for Pabst.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


It all started when I bought a bushel of eggplant at the Farmer's Market. Five bucks for the whole basket. I couldn't resist.

Well, actually I could have resisted. Almost did. But then I started thinking, hm. Haven't made ratatouille in a while... I could make some eggplant parm, too... I could give a few away,if I have any left over...

So I bought a bushel of egglpant. For those of you not familiar with such measurements, that's a lot of eggplant.

I started at around 9 am. Of course I had to use Julia Child's recipes. otherwise what't the point, right? I mean, why just chop it up and throw it all into a pot when you can torture yourself slicing, salting, leeching and pre-baking your eggplant on a hundred cookie sheets instead? That's too much fun to miss.

Anyway I did the eggplant parm first and the ratatouille second. It was around 8pm when my project finally wrapped. By then just the thought of eating anything involving eggplant made me feel sick, so I had a Boca burger.

I think somewhere in my pre-history there must be some deep memory of famine. "We're all going to starve if I don't get the crops in! Quick! Make ten gallons of pesto!" I have enough homemade applesauce in my house to choke a pig, or give one a good scare, anyway. And it's not like we're a big family.

My refrigerator is now teeming with Servin'Savers. So now I'm thinking the same thought I think every fall and never act on: I think I need a freezer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Coverup or Social Climbing?

Last Friday the local rag published a piece on how the two gubernatorial candidates are reaching out to hunters. Both the candidates say they are hunters themselves and wanted the support of their fellow woodsmen.

The paper published two photos. Top pic: Democratic candidate, sitting on the grass, his arm around a magnificent yellow labrador retriever. The Lab was ID'd as his dog, "Laddy". I mean a gorgeous dog. Big, wide head, perfect coat, gentle dark eyes, at least 100 pounds. Perfect. Almost made me want to vote for the guy.

Bottom pic: Republican guy in a silly hat, brandishing a rifle behind a dead deer.

Tbe message is clear, right? Democrat hunters are dog-lovers, Republican ones are deer killers.
Even for such a rabidly Dem paper as the local rag, DIH thought this was a bit of a stinker. But that's politics.

So I open the Sunday paper and what do I find? Pictures of the Democrat guy running around playing with two dogs, one of whom was identified as "Laddy."


Look, I apologize to any Golden lovers out there, but face it: Labs rule. Everyone knows this. Pick up the next LLBean catalogue that tumbles into you mailbox. Where would that company be if they took out all the labs? What do you think would happen to their profits? They'd plummet.

Who does this guy think he's kidding? Is he trying to pass for a Lab lover? What did he do, borrow the dog for a photo op? Hire him? "Hey, pooch, wanna make fifty bucks?"

I know this Democrat guy's numbers are in the polling dumpster, and I'm aware that everyone pulls out all the stops in the final weeks before Election Day. But this is a new low.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Midnight Mysteries (Or Things To Ponder At 3am)

Why do Barbie dolls come with shoes?

Is saying "all glory and honor is Yours" like saying "my mother and father is here"?

My neighbor has two kids. Why is he building an 8,000 square foot house? And what are they going to do in there?

Does EWTN have a sugar daddy, and if so since he's clearly into NRFPT (not ready for prime time) acts, how come he never sends me a check?

Why does anyone live in International Falls?

How come I always wake up at 3am? What's wrong with 4am, or 5, or 6?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Contest

The World Housekeeping Championships were held last week in Elmhurst, Queens.

There were no surprises in the heats: the Irish were eliminated in the first round,the Koreans were disqualified on the grounds that they were using the makeshift kitchens in the nail salons to avoid cleaning the ones at home, and the Carribean contingent withdrew as a unit early on ("We got to get to work! We don't have time for this!")

After eliminating the Croatians in a neck-and-neck contest for shiniest linoleum the final round went to the Sicilians and those diehard Germans. For the Sicilians it was a real grudgematch, no surprises there under any circumstances but as Mrs. Volpone of the 78th Street Screamers put it, "The war ain't over and it's never gonna be! Yelling? Who's yelling?"
Unfortunately for the south-of-the-booters, though, at the last minute those wily Bavarians invented yet another new vacuum technology, and the rest is housecleaning history: Deutschland won by a cat's hair in the Screamingly Clean Vestibule contest, which put them over the top for the championship.

In other news, DIH cleaned her house last weekend. She now plans to hire help at the first opportunity.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Today's Laugh

Headline in today's New York Times:

"Where Faith abides, employees have few rights."

The faith is Catholicism.

The "employee"? A novice in a religious order. Religious life is described as her "occupation."

Gee. Wonder who her "employer" was. Does this mean we can all sue Him when we're ticked off about something?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Don't Mess With The Donut Lady

I show up for donut duty at 7:45 this morning and what do I find ? A pathetic excuse for a con job.

A note lay on the stainless steel counter. "Donut shift: there are enough creamers for all 21 tables: four each. Thank you."

What the hay? Who left this note? And has he ever taken a good look at the donut crowd? Does he think they skimp on the cream?

I knew what was going on here. Somebody screwed up. Somebody forgot to order creamers. So they're trying to pass their screw-up off as a deliberate health measure. My mother used to pull the same trick with the spaghetti sauce. She'd buy one jar of Ragu to feed six kids. Then she'd add about a gallon of water and announce, "We're having a nice light sauce tonight." The sad thing is we all fell for it, for years.

But those years are over for this donut lady. Nobody tells me "we don't have enough sugar/cream/butter/all the unhealthy things that make life delicious" and tells me this was a good idea. Nobody. I knew exactly what I had to do:

I had to break into the school. There had to be more creamers in there somewhere. So that's what I did. I dashed across the street in the early morning darkness. I got inside the building. And there they were, creamers by the bucketful, all just waiting for me. I got 'em from- well, I better not say. I may need to do this again some day.

That's right! I admit it! And I'm glad I did what I done!

Okay, so I didnt' exactly break in. I borrowed a key (didn't tell them why, though). I figured if any of the teachers complained Monday morning, I'd just remind them of the time I was doing donuts for the school and broke into the church pantry for exactly the same reason. Turn about is fair play and all that. (I also arranged for someone else to take the fall, just in case.)

Oh, and to a certain Holy Name Society guy who, when he heard I was short on cream, sneaked into the refrigerator when my back was turned and took the last two gallons of milk- "they're mine! they're mine!"-- keep your stupid fresh unpasturized "I got it from a farmer" dairy products. Ultrapasturized is the wave of the future.

I am Donut Woman, and I take no prisoners.

Remember that, America.

Friday, October 06, 2006

No More Mrs. Nice Guy

I have about half a dozen huge oak trees on my suburban-lot-sized property. This is a ridiculous amount of oak trees. If there's one thing I don't want around it's anything that says to the squirrel community "come on in."

So when I moved in two years ago I called a couple of tree guys and asked them to take the trees out. Well, one or two of them anyway.

This request unleashed a torrent of bitter regionalism.

"We can't take out those oaks! Those oaks are valuable! You East Coasters are so smug! You think you're so superior with all the oak trees you got back there! Well this is the Midwest and we value our oaks! So there!"

So now with fall almost over my yard is full of fallen oak loeaves. And I mean full. You have to wade from the back door to the garage.

My husband and I agreed we'd spend this weekend on fall cleanup. But I have a plan: I've got to get to the leaf-blower first. Because I know what will happen if I don't. My husband will spend an hour blowing all the leaves into a huge pile. Then he'll beam with pride and say "Look! I cleaned up the yard!" Then he'll leave it to me to stuff the leaves into bags. Because, after all, he already did all the work, right? He "cleaned up!"

Well not this year, pal. This year I'm grabbing the leaf blower if I have to get up at 4am to do it. This year I'll be the hero who makes the huge leaf pile for the kid to jump in. Oh, I know that's your plan. You want all the glory parts.

And this year I won't be the only one who spends days, DAYS, stuffing dried up oak leaves into huge bags and lugging them to the curb and then driving back to Costco for more bags. Not this year.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Air America Is A Laugh A Minute If You're Dead?

Every once in a while I listen to "Air America," because- well, because somebody has to, I guess. (I should add that when I take various young relatives to the three-ring circus I usually watch the outer two rings for the same reason.)

So I'm listening today and Al Franken reads an email: "Dear Mr. Franken, Whoever told you you were funny? Must've been your mother. Stick to the news."

Al's sidekick spoke up. "Al, I know you're too much of a gentleman to respond to that, so may I respond? Mr. Listener- Al's mother is DEAD! Hmph!" As Al murmured something he added, "Typical right-winger!"

I guess this means if you work for Air America you think "typical right wingers" all agree that...

That Al Franken should stick to the news?

That the fact that someone's mother is dead means she could never have said "My son is so funny"?

That only dead people could consider him funny?

Man, I don't think they know what the heck they're doing over there. No wonder they never get paid.

For the record I thought "The Al Franken Decade" skit on SNL was pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Different From All Other Days

One thing I haven't gotten used to yet about living in Minnesota is how quickly fall comes on. Right now when I look out the window I see leaves covering my yard and many trees past their peak color-wise. The first week of October here looks more like November back home. Halloween looks like Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving looks like Christmas... well, you get the idea.

My daughter's school is in a town with a large Orthodox Jewish community. Yesterday when I was driving her to school I noticed a number of families- well, fathers and sons- all dressed up and walking to synagogue. Hm, I said to myself, glancing at the half naked trees. Must be Sukkot already.

Then I did the seasaonal recalculations, and realized it was too early for Sukkot. It was Yom Kippur. I had almost missed it.

You may not think Irish Catholics would take much notice of the Day of Atonement. But this is not the case, at least not where I come from. Long Islanders of all stripes take Yom Kippur very seriously.

Half of them, of course, head for the synagogue and fast until sundown. The other half take their one chance of the whole year to say, Screw the buses, baby, I'm DRIVING in to the city! And when I get there, I'm gonna park-- ON THE STREET!

We do this all day. We park, and park, and park again. We take pictures of our more spectacular hits, like the choicest midtown spots. It's a wild and crazy day. By the time it's over we are giddy with the sense of victory.

Then the sun goes down and everyone's done atoning and we drive back home . But the thrills aren't over yet. We look up the restaurants we want to try out next year, the ones we bridge-and-tunnel types can never get in to -- except on the one night when no one else is eating. We pick up the phone and make our reservations.

Next year, in The Russian Tearoom!

Monday, October 02, 2006

First Words At Last

" As Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon in 1969, a global audience of 500 million people on Earth watched and listened. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” they heard him say as he dropped from his spacecraft to make the first human footprint on the lunar surface.

"But from the moment he said it, debate has raged over whether the Nasa astronaut might have fluffed his lines.

"Mr Armstrong has long insisted that he meant to say “one small step for a man . . .” — which would have been a more meaningful and grammatically correct version, free of tautology. But even the astronaut himself could not be sure.

"Now ,using high-tech sound analysis techniques, an Australian computer expert has rediscovered the missing “a” in Mr Armstrong’s famous quote. Peter Shann Ford ran the Nasa recording through sound-editing software and clearly picked up an acoustic wave from the word “a”, finding that Mr Armstrong spoke it at a rate of 35 milliseconds — ten times too fast for it to be audible." [h/t Drudge]

Also on the tape:

"Damn! Vodka bottles!"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Quelle Ambience

The New York Times Online is running a slide show about Paris. What a gorgeous city it is, especially at night, everybody wants to be in Paris, yadda yadda. And of course the French even make the NYT look patriotic these days, which is an added plus.

But all this frog-gazing has made me miss Hemingway. So I think I'll dig out my paperbacks and spend a few happy hours rereading old Ernie this week.

Rereading Hemingway is one of my favorite things to do. My first encounter with EH was a forced one: we had to read The Sun Also Rises in ninth grade. I zipped through the pages and thought, OK, did Hemingway, who's next?

When I was thirty I read it again. Talk about a completely different experience. All I could think was, "My God- they let children read this? What were those nuns thinking?"

Anyway if I start talking in clipped phrases about bombing bridges or fighting bulls or betting on fights in the next few days, I apologize in advance and beg a little indulgence.

And now, Ingles. The books. Yes.