Monday, June 27, 2005

...feed your inner pope with the finest schismatic ice cream!
The Curt Jester is scooping flavors that you won’t find at Taste of Chicago... Avoid the crowds and stay home to enjoy these cloying confections instead.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Red Alert!!!

They’re back. And this year I’m ready.
We won’t spray the cabbages in the back yard. Out of respect for butterfly culture. But they aren’t welcome in the front garden. No way.
June-Pride Month
So proud. So proud that it is not too obvious what they are proud of. And, no, kids, that rainbow bracelet I’m wearing is promoting literacy, a sample of the many treasures that Em brought home from the ALA Conference in Chicago. I have certain disagreements with the ALA, but that doesn’t stop me accepting their freebies. Any more than not ‘approving’ of candy stopped me from accepting samples from last week’s Candy Expo visit.

And you gotta love any group that promotes MAD magazine.
Free copies of MAD. Free candy. How much more deluxe could life get?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Harvey it ain’t.
I stayed up too late watching Donnie Darko, which was as vaguely disturbing as I had been led to believe. Not really bad, but weird. I thought I had it figured out, but a quick breakfast discussion with Rick has me confused. What do I know about worm holes?

I just wish I had been able to stay awake Tuesday night for the AFI top 100 movie lines show. I would challenge some of the choices - which is what makes it so much fun. Yeah, I think Animal House is a highly quotable movie, but you can do much better than “Toga!” How about “double-secret probation?” Now that’s a line I quote several times a week.

Time for work. I’m working more. Accomplishing less at home. Much less. Better see if my laundry dried...or I’m in trouble. Well, I can always sit in the laundry room and talk to the big ‘chocolate’ rabbit. Too bad he doesn’t talk. He could remind me when we’re running low on detergent...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I had forgotten...
just how creepyThe House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons is. I read it about twenty years ago and had more or less forgotten about it until a friend at work mentioned that she was reading it. She tossed me her copy when she was finished and I re-read it in two days. Another friend bought it but hasn’t started reading yet. A spectacular beach read. And I’m thinking we should have a rectory discussion group about this book as an allegory of modern popular culture as a tool of evil. (Or that’s the way I see it now. When I first read it, I thought it was just a scary book. And I enjoyed the fact that the evil house is ultra-modern and freshly built. I'm not particularly fond of sleek, modern homes.)
This facial personality test requires a front facing photo of your head like this (ideally without glasses and not smiling). Don't bother taking the test if all you have is a photo with your face tilted, turned to side, eyes closed, your head is less than 70% of the frame, the picture is too small, or any part of your head is cut off. Only jpg files are acceptable. Max file size is 100kb, max height is 700px, max width is 700px...
If any part of your head is cut off, you may need more help than an on-line test can offer.
Cartoon Cruise
The perfect mother-son vacation. Chuck would love it. Although I’d have to promise not to divulge to our fellow travellers about my use of New Yorker covers as a toilet training tool. (Some kids need a more sophisticated incentive to stay in one place for more than a minute. Chuck - if you’re bothered that I divulged this here, let me know and I’ll remove it. And perhaps I’ll look into getting that huge New Yorker cartoon retrospective book with CD-ROM as a form of reparation...)

Monday, June 20, 2005

All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine...
Dearest family, please don’t poke the lector. She knows what she has proclaimed. Yeah, she’s taking just the appropriate amount of comfort in those words. But thanks for the support.

How did that Jeremiah dude know about the co-worker who doesn’t like me? Hmmm...

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
We've got to stop eating like this...
Quite an eventful week-end of entertaining on Smith Ave.
No time to write about it now....will bring everyone up to speed later.

(That means you too, Em. You didn't return for dinner on Saturday night, so you missed a relatively subdued meal - compared to Friday - right up until Cody had a seizure under the dining room table.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I'm flattered all to pieces...
but I really wanted to be The Godfather.

Fun via Church of the Masses.
Home is the place where,
when you have to go there,
You have to clean it up.

Do I sound bitter? A little, maybe. (Some of the other kids feel the same way, so I’m not the only soul doing the clean up. But it is causing something of a rift between the cleaners and the cleanees.)

My liminal moment? Asking dad what has been going on in my absence. (Did I sound too strident? I hope not...) The house is something of a (relative)’s not like I am a perfectionist. So if something violates my meticulously low standards it may in truth be pretty bad. Rick actually blurted out the old “Do you think I’m sitting around all day eating bon-bons?” defense. Yeah, I know what it’s like to have people think that being the stay-at-home parent is like a non-stop vacation. But...he also has no toddlers to watch, diapers to wash or nursing marathons. (I should hope!)

Then there are the disagreements on the schooling front. If the curricula decisions are collaborative, they still fall on dad these days for the actual execution. And the exact content and method are dad’s call. I am bristling a bit over his derision of the idea of the boys maintaining nature diaries as they go about the neighborhood and visit the forest preserve. The fact that I used the exquisiteThe Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady as an inspirition does not mean that I expect the same dainty work or philosophical perspective from the boys. And even I joined in the laughter as he described how Eddie might fill his ‘diary’ with sketches of gladiators, paratroopers and space ships dropping bombs on the unsuspecting. At this point I don’t care. Just so he sketches some wildflowers and butterflies in between. Soon to be published: The Edwardian Diary of a Suburban Lad by one Master Edward von Huben.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It’s Candy Expo time!
If our favorite dental student and his fiance make a visit (a dental student at the Candy Expo? It does have a certain dissonance, but I’m not questioning it...) and are overburdened with samples, do remember where I live. And see if you can scope out one of those chocolate-marshamallow-faux king cake Mardi Gras confections. That was good...

I’d take vitamin enriched jelly beans, but you know every girl wants chocolate!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We’re making progress...

1 - The butterfly feeder is here. The nectar is back-ordered, but I have a recipe for making some from scratch. Wonder if a spritz of Tea Rose or Crabtree & Evelyn Lily of the Valley would help or hurt. Better not chance it.

2 - No finches at the feeder yet. But no squirrels have pulled it down and unloaded the thistle seed, either. So I’ll call it a draw.

3 - The boys have 20 minutes towards one Holy Hour. The terms? We’ll go. You don’t have to make it through a whole hour. If it should become unbearable we’ll leave quietly. Firmly planted in the very last pew, we were off to a rocky start when Eddie developed hiccups. We slid out and Eddie asked to breathe for a minute outside the church. I said we had all made a game effort and we could leave, BUT Eddie insisted that he was better and we slid back in for another fifteen minutes. The original challenge was to try to stay until after Father’s reflection. We accomplished that and a little bit more. It was good. By von Huben standards it was a heroic effort. (We don’t call ourselves the St. Vitus Society for nothing!) Third Wednesday of next month we’ll do it again. And we’ll hope to stay a bit longer. Gradual training seems the most prudent at this point. (The fact that the boys attended holy hours while babes snoozing in slings has had no lasting effect. I know, I know, I should have been more consistent. But like an athlete who’s been out of training for years, we’re starting over from scratch.)

Bonus payoff moment? Eddie’s unsolicited remark that he enjoyed the quiet time with Jesus. Could I ask for more at the end of the day?
Yoplait Whips Chocolate Cherry Mousse Style Yogurt
Yes, you can eat it for breakfast. If it's the last yogurt in the fridge. But I wouldn't recommend it.*
In the future I must purchase more blackberry, which no one else will eat.
Thereby guaranteeing myself a quick breakfast on days when I am pressed for time.

Must go now. Don't feel so well....

*And I'll eat birthday cake for breakfast. So I'm not exactly a purist.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Will wonders never cease?
The day has arrived. I opened the new Vanity Fair and saw my name. Ok, so it was a reference to an obscure recording by Lucinda Williams of the classic folk song Poor Ellen Smith. Close enough to give me a thrill. And while we’re at it, did I tell you the top movie at the box office this week-end is about my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith? I mean, really, there is, for me, only one Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Just ask Fred,
my sister’s miniature dachshund. He suffered no bodily harm, but his owners were more than distressed to find out that the short in the carpet attachment of their vacuum cleaner was precipitated by a modest amount of well-aimed weiner dog urine.

"If you have a cat, or a dog for that matter, be careful where they urinate," Oyabu said. "Especially keep them away from electrical appliances and wires."

My advice to the animals of my home? Don’t even look at the Dyson.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 Bono holding his breath?

I’ve seen this quoted in several places:

At the Eighth International Church Music Congress in Rome in 1986, for example, Ratzinger blasted rock music as a “vehicle of anti-religion”. He said rock and roll is a secular variant of an age-old ecstatic religion, in which man “lowers the barriers of individuality and personality” to “liberate himself from the burden of consciousness”. Rock is thus “the complete antithesis of Christian faith in the redemption”.

I can see his point. But I don’t know if rock is the only music which can be used to rid one of the “burden of consciousness.” And I’m not ready to make send the CD’s and vinyl out to the recycling bin. Of course, I don’t think I’ll send the Holy Father my copy of Greetings from Asbury Park NJ, either. But if he wanted to borrow it, I’d let him.
can’t blame the schools. Not without looking in the mirror. Another good reason to homeschool.
Via Joanne Jacobs.
The answer is: about 4 and a half hours...
The question? How long can we tolerate working in an office in an old brick building on a ninety degree day after the electricity goes off. The power was turned back on about fifteen minutes before I came home. It was rather nice working without the lights on. Quite flattering, too, in a Blanch DuBois sort of way. I was lucky that my office had a window.

The fluorescents burned when they returned. Oh, did they burn. So harsh. So unflattering.

But there is always handwritten paper work to catch up on. And phones to be answered.
And if the power hadn't come back on? I guess that answer would have been as long as it takes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

One of those happiest days...
..down in Texas!
Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow...

Yesterday was B-Day on Smith Avenue as our Irish Princess celebrated her 23rd birthday. There was no time to attend to the computer, as I was busy on the lawn disbursing plastic “bees” before I left for work. (The secret to the bees? up lots of plastic Easter eggs from the 75% and 90% off sales. Pull out the yellow ones. Save the others for another project or another Easter. Use a Magic Marker or Sharpie to put stripes and a face on each yellow egg. Do as many as possible before the marker fumes make you ill. This will happen more quickly if you must work in a closed room while the birthday”BEE” wanders about the house. Pick up bees within a day or two, before the lawn maintenance men arrive or family members and pets start walking on them. Save bees from year to year. Creating a large work of art isn’t as easy as it sounds. And if you are working with a big bag of last year’s bees, the work becomes performance art as neighborhood children on their way to the school bus stop wonder why a woman in her nightgown is throwing yellow Easter eggs about her lawn during the first week in June.)

The bee spree accomplished, I hopped off to work. I always like it when appropriate songs come on the radio at just the right time. Yesterday it was Our House by Madness. Kind of a silly, bouncy paean to the kind of home that is most likely become a more of a rarity. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity. Sort of a musical dream family situation. I always find that it makes me think about my real house.

That led me to think about an article that I read in the June Touchstone magazine (Paper Tiber by David Mills). A good article, with much to recommend it, the sentence that has resonnated in my mind the past few days is ...””The ‘bonus baby’ is a gift, not a burden.”

I’m thinking this morning, on what would have been my late father’s eightieth birthday, about “bonus babies.” This is the day after the birth of one of my bonus babies (which I am celebrating in the way my dad most approved, breakfasting on leftover birthday cake). What if I had not accepted my bonus? That is not such a far fetched thought, since the obstetrician I was seeing at the time assuaged my distress at the thought of a third baby in three and a half years with a kindly and cold-blooded offer of a ‘final solution.’ Either the Princess or her younger sister have gone to school with this doctor’s grandchildren. When I would see him at school choir performances and talent nights, I wondered if he was ever haunted by the spectres of the peers of the performers that he quite literally culled from the crowd.

But I digress. I’m thinking bonus babies as a gift. How many of us have bonus babies? Are bonus babies? (I’m pretty sure I am. After six years of marriage with no baby on the horizon my aging (i.e. early thirties - old by 1950’s standards) parents were pretty much resigned to a life a raising cats and spending week-ends with the MG club. And one has to wonder, how many of us are descendants of “bonus babies.” Perhaps we are all descendants to some degree of bonus babies. So let’s hear it for the bonus baby. I have (at least) one. I was one. Maybe my father was one (My mom? #7 of 7...probably) My father’s father? #3 out of 15, so who knows? Well, who knows! Just praise God that we are here.

And why do we call it “Bee” day? Nothing to do with the BONUS word at all. Bridget adopted the monicker B.C., shortened to B, early in life. No amount of cajoling by pre-school teachers (“She simply must learn her full name, Mrs. von Huben!) could discourage her and she has adopted the industrious insect as her mascot.

Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud...

Deo gratias!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Usual SNAFU...
The plastic models of lady bug and frog metamorphoses have arrived.
The butterfly feeder is on the way. But the nectar pack is back-ordered!

The bug catalog has special frames that one can use to encourage spiders to make a web...and then study their web-life. I think we should be able to convince Franny to fabricate one in her workshop.
Ooh...I think there’s a problem.
I’m finally finishing planting my ornamental cabbages, portulaca and petunias. There are some packets of seeds that I need to plant. The English Daisies say they will take 180-300 days to bloom. Does this mean I should plant them indoors and put them out next year? Or plant the seeds in pots around Christmas? Even my amateur math and gardening instincts tell me that 180 days is outside of the parameters of do-able for the Chicago area.
Animal Lawyers?
Another big step for anthropomorphism. And I smell money. I would think there is still a sizable segment of the population in need of various legal services. Of course, they can’t pay much. So it’s time to start representing animals whose companions have the cash.
But put them all together and they add up to Coldplay...
There's nothing wrong with self-pity. As a spur to songwriting, it's right up there with lust, anger and greed, and probably better than the remaining deadly sins. There's nothing wrong, either, with striving for musical grandeur, using every bit of skill and studio illusion to create a sound large enough to get lost in. Male sensitivity...
Rick finds company in The New York Times. That makes at least two of you guys.

Clearly, Coldplay is beloved: by moony high school girls and their solace-seeking parents. Or moony mothers of high schoolers...whose husbands just don’t understand.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Is this what they call fun on a Friday night?

Just trying to make light chit-chat with Rick. I mentioned the fun of flipping through the local society tabloid. But I didn’t stop with the mention of bling, big teeth and the very nice picture of our former pastor at a charity function...with his name misspelled. No I had to draw his attention to the article about a woman who runs a local IVF clinic. All sugary smile and effusive praise. Right down to the description of her “EMBRYOS” vanity license plate. And then I had to mention that she is a parishioner at our parish. Somehow this deteriorated into an unpleasant fight debate about the “personal choices” of our fellow Catholics. We must be a tad testy at the end of the week if we can be in agreement about such a travesty and scandal and still wind up snapping at each other. Imagine if we had disagreed..
I’ll go first...
and admit that I watched Beauty and the Geek.
The geeks were sooo cute. Especially Richard Rubin. I’ll tune in next week just to see him. The girls were all sweet, pretty and impossible to tell apart. And the requirement of couples/teams sharing sleeping quarters is vulgar and gives the show a creepier than average-reality-TV feel. But how much should we expect from a show that bills itself as “Ashton Kutcher’s Ultimate Social Experiment?”
Idyllic. And I was, of course, oblivious and most often unappreciative.
MamaT asks, among other things, for us to describe our childhoods.

Some friends of mine are going to make a day trip to my hometown this week-end. I was trying to describe growing up in Cedarburg and foremost in my mind was my lack of appreciation for how wonderful it was. People drive from all over to visit this city and kids like my sister and I couldn’t wait to get out. It was pretty close to perfect. Other people appreciate it. So much that we couldn’t afford to move back in if we wanted to.
...parents should not blame themselves if their children are not musical.
Parents who bounce their babies to a song and rock them to a lullaby are unwittingly helping their brains to appreciate music, scientists have discovered.

The ability to feel the strong and weak beats in a rhythm allows people to move and dance in time to music.

"The individual differences between people in musical ability probably stem from a combination of genetic and experiential effects," she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith did their best. And I do have a good appreciation for a variety of fine music. I just can’t walk and chew gum.
Like a loopy relative that you can't possibly listen to with a straight face.
Amy Welborn alerts us to the existence of Matt Fox’s blog. Yeah, kids, we were so cool when we were in school that we just called him Matt. It gives me the willies to think that I called a priest by his first name. But at least he didn’t hold out for the Doctor BS that some hold as the highest honorific.

And while I was at it, I looked into Wisdom University. I wonder if it is possible to CLEP one’s way into a doctor of ministry. I mean I heard all this crap thirty years ago. Then people could call me Doctor. And the kids’ friends, who call me Mama V., could start calling me Mama Doc. A little dictatorial, but friendly nonetheless.

St. Isidore Foundation

I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.
-- Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Meet the Family...
Collect the Action Figures

Yes, three jade ribbons. 15 Years!
(not all the same child)
If you need to ask, you may not wish to know.

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