Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Gotta LOVE how literal-minded kids are. Especially boys. They are a bit TOO truthful. Sometimes this works in your favor. Such as when they say--Mom, your butt isn't as big as the other mom's butts.  So recently (like tonight) when I was imbibing just a wee bit (attitude adjustment hours are essential for effective parenting) my son commented on my cocktail napkin. 

Cole--look!! it's me!!! 
Cole responds in a slightly disdainful manner, 
MOM, you don't have green hair, 
MOM, your earrings aren't that dangly, 
MOM, you don't have a lady bug on your head, 
MOM, you don't dress that stylishly (ouch!)  or as he would say--SNAP!
and MOM,  your wine glass isn't that big or filled all the way up to the top. 

(clearly he's not a detail-oriented child) 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Unhedged or Unhinged

Neither of these images has anything to do with my blog topic. I think it's really fabulous what google image comes up with when you put in a word. (left--unhedged) (right--unhinged) Also there was no way that I was going to put up the Glenn Beck photo and give that guy any more publicity. 

For the past few months Forbes Magazine has regularly appeared in my mail. I dutifully collect and stack them in my husband’s inbox. This past week I mentioned to him that HIS ever-growing stack was spilling onto the floor. He told me that Forbes was MY magazine. Dumbfounded, I looked at the address label and sure enough, my name is on it. I NEVER would subscribe to such a magazine. Perhaps this is some prankster’s a.k.a. a friend’s idea of a joke.

I’m not sure what possessed me to actually read an issue, but this week’s cover story featured Glenn Beck dressed in a conservative pin-striped suit chalked with dollar signs. Beck flaunts the incriminating evidence. Smiling smugly at the camera, chalk in hand, he knows he’s been bad and doesn’t care one bit.

This should have been my first clue to just pitch the magazine. I read further. On page 62, there is an article entitled Downshift. Maybe you get axed or maybe you decide to quit the rat race. What happens when you trade in your high-income lifestyle for something different? Forbes interviewed several ‘downshifters’ to see what life is like after a big change. The opening picture is a guy with a towheaded kid on a tropical beach. This should have been another GLARING clue to just burn the magazine.

I read further. I wonder who comprises the audience for this magazine. I always thought Forbes was in the same vein as Business Week. Forbes must cater to the top .00005% of the population who make more than 7 figures per year. It reminds me of when I read Women’s Health and expected to read about… I don’t know—health and instead saw article after article about sex.

Am I supposed to feel SORRY for the ex-hedger, who at age 38 lost his job and moved into a 3 bedroom home in the Bahamas? Is this supposed to be slumming it? It sounds pretty cushy to me. He enrolled his kids in the village school and started a soccer league. I applaud his altruism, but he hasn’t exactly experienced any REAL hardship. Since the island doesn’t have a hospital, he has contracted with a private airline company to airlift his family out in case of an emergency. (The article references his previous 7 figure salary plus an equal 7 figure bonus). The fact that he now makes a mere 1/10 of his former salary, still puts him at about 10x more than an average college professor (meaning me).  

In the next profile titled THE HARD FALL, a recently sacked publishing exec laments having to rake his own lawn and describes his daughter’s hardship on having to forgo a $4000 class trip to Italy. For the first time ever, his two kids will get SUMMER JOBS. Boo hoo for them. I mean really.

What astonishes me is that the writer whoshallnotbenamed quotes these folks WITHOUT a trace of irony.

Downshifting is now a TRENDY hip movement. Where is the news in this? I can’t remember the last time an article agitated me so much. I WANT TO YELL—how about all those people who get sacked and lose their homes and cars? DOWNSHIFT THIS FORBES MAGAZINE. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010


About a month or so ago, I came home and noticed a spill on the carpet. Of course I had to perform the gross test of determining whether it was PEE or water. (why does this task always fall on the mother?) My pets would not make eye contact, which made me immediately suspicious. Upon determining that it was WATER, I sensed the pets' vast relief (i heard the cats EXHALE), since the this ensured their survival for at least another day. 

I wondered which bad kid spilled their water bottle on the floor and didn't clean it up. I decided that I wasn't going to clean it up either. After school, both claimed ignorance. Kid 1--I didn't do it. My brother must have done it. Kid 2--I didn't do it either. Maybe the dog did it. In some parallel universe, I'm convinced there must be a child somewhere who would actually volunteer to clean up a spill even if they didn't cause it. 

The next day, the spill was STILL on the carpet and it looked a bit bigger. It must be my imagination. After two more days, the spill virally spread to a circumference of five feet. If you had the bad luck to step in it wearing socks--well, let's just say that the socks were rendered incinerator material. 

As luck would have it, my husband returned from Boston just in time to diagnose the viral spill, which now resembled a small swimming pool. He determined that our WATER tank leaked. His solution?? Put a beach towel over the flooded area. This is akin to putting a bandaid on a wound spurting blood (or a 3rd degree burn caused by a sautering iron--ha ha) 

I'm rather excited by the prospect of ripping up the carpet and getting a new floor. Call me excessive, but something about the pet-stained, children-stained, moldy 20 year old carpet, just isn't doing it for me anymore. The husband poo poos my excitement by pronouncing the fact that we don't NEED a new carpet. In his delusional world, he thinks this carpet can be SALVAGED.

I have two words for this. (No--it's not those two words. Do you think I would EVER curse at my LOVING spouse?) The two words are BLACK MOLD. Do you know that people DIE from black mold? The children already started to exhibit signs of respiratory distress. Coughing, trouble breathing. My husband is convinced that I somehow enlisted the children to PRETEND they are sick, so that I can have the carpet removed. 

In case you are unfamiliar with black mold, here is a list health problems associated with the fungus. 
  • Itchy Throat
  • Water Eyes
  • Headaches
  • Memory Loss
  • Irritated skin
  • Excessive Coughing
  • Excess mucus
  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Mold in the bloodstream
  • Possible mild strokes
  • Fatigue
Did you read the part about bleeding lungs, stroke and moldy blood? My neighbor's kid had pneumonia 4x, before they discovered black mold in the walls. 

Due to the seriousness of the issue, I have to take matters into my own hands. See picture in the upper left corner. Me as a mold-buster. I think it might be my new calling. I thought the picture on the right looked like a contemporary art mural. Very hip. Deadly, but hip. 

And in case you are wondering, the ripandhaulaway is happening next week! WOOHOO!

Friday, April 9, 2010


I just read a laughoutloud, peeinyourpants funny book by Jill Connor Browne a.k.a. THE Sweet Potato Queen. In fact, on my flight to and from Dallas, I'm convinced that my fellow passengers thought I was suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, given my spontaneous bouts of inflight laughter. Browne's latest book American Thighs is subtitled The Sweet Potato Queen's Guide to Preserving Your Assets. There are many, many quotable remarks, all of which could serve as blog topics for the next year. 

This post will focus on men's STOO-PID-ITEE (Browne's phrase) when it comes to medical affairs. Not the kind between nurses and doctors. 

"But if I did an actual tally of the STOO-PID people I know in regard to health maintenance, I feel pretty confident that the count would be heavily weighted on the male side. Guys as a rule, won't go to the doctor until something blows up or falls off in their hand. These same men exhibit an almost religious fervor in their determination to change the oil in their cars on a schedule set to an atomic clock. The slightest ding in a door is duly noted and seen to promptly and the tiniest ping in an engine warrants an emergency tow-in to the best mechanic within a 500 mile radius. In some cases, I've noticed that firearms are likewise maintained with loving attention. 

But a physical? Just because 'it's that time of year' and nothing is festering, swelling, gushing, oozing, throbbing or hanging by a shred? On a likelihood par with wild monkeys flying out of their hindquarters--which, I supposed might actually warrant a check-up--but only if there was a constant stream of them--a one-time occurrence would immediately upon cessation, be dismissed as inconsequential and never mentioned again except as needed for a beer-driven display of one-upmanship with his buddies--as in 'Oh, yeah? Well, one time I had wild monkeys  come flyin' outt my ass!!' (p.46)

Most of you know that my husband is a pretty level-headed guy. However I was so dumbfounded over his recent STOO-PID behavior, that I had to share it. Please harass him about this, when you see him. 

A bit of background--my daughter has been treated by a dermatologist for foot warts. Apparently they are very stubborn warts and despite monthly freezing sessions, they refuse to die. My husband thinks that the doctor should BURN them off. Even though burning has been outlawed in dermatological circles, given the massive pain involved and subsequent scar tissue, he feels confident that his untrained medical opinion is vastly superior to the experts. (not to worry--this is not going where you think it's going)

Fast forward a few months. He asks me to make him an appointment to get his warts removed. I explain that it takes at least 3 months to get an appointment as a new patient. Unless you are dying of skin cancer, forget it. Warts do not constitute an emergency.  Even though my husband has had these warts for months, maybe years, (they've become part of the family), all of a sudden it is a necessity to have them removed ASAP. 

So he takes matters into his own hands. He waits until I am out of town. Then he instructs the teenager to go out and purchase a sautering iron. He can't even buy his own sautering iron. He has to implicate the child. 

To his credit, he doesn't scarify and self-mutilate all in one shot. He tests it out on his hand first. HE HEATS THE SAUTERING IRON AND PURPOSELY BURNS HIS HAND. Apparently he felt justified in his medical decision, because he proudly showed me his burned hand upon my return. LOOK I BURNED OFF MY WART! 

Of course, once you get a taste for self-mutilation, a mere 3rd degree burn doesn't deter you. Overtaken by boldness, he next burns his foot. I'm thinking this constitutes pathological behavior. 

When one is married, one has to bite one's tongue regularly. This is the reason I no longer have any tastebuds.  I've bitten and chewed all of them off. So instead of telling the husband that he is STOO-PID, I use the psychological approach and ask him pointed questions. Why did you feel the need to take medical matters in your own hands? How did it FEEL when you felt your flesh burning? Is your inner sadist feeling UNLOVED? 

He responds that his layperson medical training has prepared him for this procedure. WHAT MEDICAL TRAINING? He knows how to ice his knees after playing soccer. Because he has removed a few stitches and can give a cat a pill, he is now a qualified medical practitioner. 

OHMYGOSH. When he is dying of an infection in the hospital burn unit, I will be tempted to tell him that his STOO-PID actions serve him right. However, most likely, I'll be too busy biting off my tongue to say much of anything. 

UNBURNED WART (Ian wanted to ensure that you knew this WASN'T his wart, but a a google image)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Real-Life 6 Feet Under Episode


I recently attended a funeral in Dallas. The morning of the funeral, my cousins asked me if I wanted to ‘view’ the body. Most of you will be surprised to learn that I was hesitant about seeing a dead body. Not just any dead body, but a dead body that was related to me.  Given that most of my work is about death and I collect dead things, you would think that I would RELISH this rare opportunity. However, I was feeling a bit SQUEAMISH. Yet, I wanted to be a team player, so my two cousins, their 4 kids and I piled into the suburban for the short ride to the funeral parlor.

When we arrived, a sober suited man escorted us into a back room. The smell of lilies permeated the room. Which I guess is a good thing, all things considered. It could have smelled like formaldehyde or something worse. Until that moment, lilies were my favorite flower. Sadly however, they will now be associated with funeral parlors and caskets.

The kids immediately ran up to the casket and peered in. They poked and prodded the body. Aunt Colette, why don’t you TOUCH her?  I didn’t want the kids to think I was a scaredy cat, so I closed my eyes and tentatively did the one finger touch. It was kind of like petting a rubber shark from the aquarium. 

I was busy looking at the masses of flowers, when one child shrieked, EEEWWW! Mama, did you just KISS her? Of course I kissed her. She’s my mother and I had to kiss her goodbye. That’s soooo gross. You just kissed a dead person.

One kid shouted, She’s cold!!  This began a conversation about WHY she was cold. She’s cold, because her body was in the refrigerator. Why was she in the refrigerator? Well she was in the refrigerator, to keep her body preserved. You are talking about her like she was a DESSERT!

This elicited lots of giggles and more questions.

Does she still have her legs? Why can’t we see her legs? Is that her real hair? Why does her skin feel rubbery? She looks like she’s going to pop up and yell at us. 

KIDS! Be careful not to mess up her make-up.

Next began a photo opp with my cousins’ I-phones. First we looked at before pictures. The before pictures were horrific. It was difficult to look at them. Think Munch’s Scream. The funeral home had performed a miracle. She looked peaceful, calm and beautiful. Next came pictures of the casket, the body in the casket and then all of us posing by the casket. It seems a bit irreverent, but the kids were very excited about getting their photo next to their Gigi.

The funeral was a graveside memorial with a closed casket. My cousin-in-law who originally hails from South Africa expressed his disappointment in the fact that the casket was never lowered in the ground. He had never attended a graveside service and expected it to be like the movies. The kids gathered flower petals to sprinkle on the casket, during its descent into the earth, but alas did not get the opportunity to throw the petals or themselves onto the casket amidst loud grief-stricken wails.

While we shared a few humorous moments (nothing like humor to temper the sadness), it was an occasion to reconnect with family and celebrate a great woman’s life.

Memorable kid comments—Mama, when my kids are as old as you, and you are as old as Gigi, can I boss them around, like Gigi did to you?

Our laughter encouraged this next comment. Dramatically clutching his throat and making gagging noises, one kid rendered a perfect imitation of his Gigi, Quit poisoning my food, you are killing me. 

Quest for Monkey Meat


My South African cousin-in-law is a hoot—very funny and always making jokes. The two of us decided to take the four kids for a walk in the neighborhood (In Irving, Texas) My idea--walk along the jogging trails. His idea--walk to the African grocery store (which he SWORE was only a few blocks away). He enticed the kids with the promise of monkey meat. Come on, we’ll get to see monkey meat.

As you can imagine, my idea was outvoted by his idea. So we set off on our adventure. A few blocks into it, the kids start asking questions. How far is it to the store? How will we know when we are there? What does monkey meat look like? What does monkey meat TASTE like?

Be on the lookout for hanging monkeys outside the store window. Dead monkeys or live monkeys?

After about 54 blocks, I express some reservations about our quest. (Ok, that may be a wee-bit of an exaggeration, but we were walking for at least 30 minutes) We are in a residential neighborhood and I don’t see any sign of any store, monkey or no monkey. He insists that it is just ahead.

I notice a home with a tree-house fort in the back yard. I see something that resembles a dog hanging from the tree fort. Look at that! There is a dog hanging in that tree house! We all run over to get a closer look. Wait a minute, that’s not a dog, IT’S A MONKEY! I kid you not, there is an honest-to-GOD monkey hanging in the tree house.  I creep up closer and notice that the monkey’s face resembles a Mandrill or baboon. I creep closer. 

Wwhewww! It is a fake lynched monkey. I have to say that the blood-thirsty kids were very disappointed in this turn of events. They immediately lose interest and return to the sidewalk. I'm still in shock. 

I ask you--what kind of sicko hangs a stuffed monkey in a tree house? 

A few more blocks up the street, wonders of wonders--there IS an African grocery store. The kids immediately ask the guy behind the counter where the monkey meat is. He does not look amused by their question. This is the great thing about kids. I'm not sure if they believed the monkey meat story or not, but they certainly weren't going to let the opportunity pass to embarrass their elders or catch them in a lie. 

I'm still in awe. What do you think the chances are of actually finding a monkey while on a quest for monkey meat? In Irving, Texas of all places.

Cousin-in-law—I love it when my B.S. comes true.

In looking for a picture of a monkey, I came across this url about canned monkey meat.