Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe

to open this page without fear of puns, I bring you (ta-da!) H-L

Wow, I really liked the Hs:

"I only have diamonds, clubs and spades," said Tom heartlessly.

"Dinna wave that axe aboot, Jimmy!" said Tom heedlessly.

"My extreme emotional instability arises from a psychoneurosis," hissed Eric.

"Have a ride in my new ambulance," said Tom hospitably.

"That's an ugly hippopotamus!" said Tom hypocritically.

The Is perhaps a little less:

"May I become a chorister?" Tom inquired.

"I've borrowed my sister's camping gear," said Tom insistently.

Only two Js, but I like them both. Interesting that they take the related words judgment and judicial in such different directions.

"His Honor is crazy," Tom stated judgementally.

"I'd like chicken soup with matzo balls and gefilte fish," ordered Tom judiciously.

Forget about K. The Ls feature specialized vocabulary --

Math: "No ellipses, parabolas or hyperbolas," said Tom laconically. (Conic sections!! Get it?? And you thought math was boring.)

Music: "I never play any music by Hungarian composers," said Tom listlessly. (You've heard of Lizst, right? Just checking.)

And that's all for now.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Like water for empty air

We were up at Train Town in Sonoma one time. It was my dad and our family, getting ready to board the miniature train that runs through the miniature town on their little plot of land.

Maya chose a seat toward the back of the train. Nabil wanted her to sit up front with the rest of us.

"Maya, if you come and sit here with us I'll give you some chocolate," he offered.

My dad managed not to say anything, but I could see he was horrified. The whole concept of bribing a child into compliance goes way against the grain for him.

Maya was fine with it, though. She came and sat with her family. Then Nabil stretched out his empty hand and gave her some imaginary chocolate. Which she took and pretended to eat. My dad was blown away. I was pretty impressed myself.

Maya's not the only one in our family who looks at things from a different angle.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Italian chef

My younger sister is known in our family for her creativity. She's artistic, and stylish, but also deeply different. Her mind makes leaps that leave me goggling. She's also pretty funny, and fast with a quip. One of my favorite remarks of hers goes back to when we were both in high school.

Our family had this little paperback Italian cookbook. She used to cook dinners with it, I remember; she was really a good cook. One day she decided to make the recipe for veal parmigiana. Naturally, she threw herself into it wholeheartedly. She made the sauce from scratch, bought the best veal she could, the works. Since she tends to be on the exuberant side in her actions, there was a lot of tomato sauce all over the place when she was finally ready to put the veal into the oven to bake. She looked around at the messy kitchen. "Ah!" she exclaimed, "Kitchen cacciatore!"

After all these years, I still think it's funny.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can't get enough

of those Tom Swifties. Here are some more; first from D-G

"I want this statue to look like the Venus de Milo," said Tom disarmingly.

"That certainly took the wind out of my sails!" said Tom disgustedly.

"I'm on social security," said Tom dolefully.

"I've changed my name to Al," said Hal, exasperated.

"My wife is dead" said Prince Rainier gracelessly.

"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess," Tom began grimly.

"It's just gold leaf," said Tom guiltily.

And now a sub-genre: Tom Swifties about ants!

"Watch this insect sail through the air," said Tom flippantly.

"That young insect is female," said Tom gallantly.

"I used to command a battalion of German ants," said Tom exuberantly.

"Those ants will never get in here," Tom said defiantly.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Shallow, shallow, shallow

Or something.

Dawn, who writes the blog Because I Said So, will occasionally write a post (scroll down to the 20th) about the google searches that have led people to her blog. The surprise winner in this category is phrases containing the words "butt polish".
(Now those people can come here, too!)

In my case, the google search that suprises me with its frequency is "why am I so shallow?"

Why do people google that?

It's tempting to think up a bunch of really silly phrases to throw in here and see if anyone's googling them these days. But I'm going to resist.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I love Tom Swifties

What are Tom Swifties? Egregious puns, that's what they are. Although you can read more on Wikipedia if you like, here's the relevant definition:

A Tom Swifty (or Tom Swiftie) is a phrase in which a quoted sentence is linked by a pun to the manner in which it is attributed. Tom Swifties may be considered a type of Wellerism.
I will forever consider it the crowning glory of the internet that I can now google "Tom Swifties" and find more examples than you can shake a stick at. The following are from a massive collection, organized alphabetically. There are lots more, but these are my favorites from A-C.

"I'm wearing my wedding ring," said Tom with abandon.

"These are the propulsion systems used by NASA for the moonshots," said Tom apologetically.

"You have the right to remain silent," said Tom arrestingly.

"This is George Bernard Shaw's major work," Tom said barbarously.

"I'm losing my hair," Tom bawled.

"I've only enough carpet for the hall and landing," said Tom with a blank stare.

"Yes, I have been reading Voltaire," Tom admitted candidly.

"I've been to a film festival in the South of France," said Tom cannily.

"The prisoner escaped down a rope," said Tom condescendingly.

"The situation is grave," Tom said cryptically.


Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Bloomsday!

Didn't our book group read something by James Joyce one time? (Didn't I pick it? I think I did. Portrait of the Artist, as I recall.) I remember trying to read Ulysses around the same time, really enjoying it but finding it rather slow going, and eventually abandoning the attempt about halfway through. I certainly hope I returned Zelda's copy of the Nora Joyce biography that I also read around that time. (Although I still say it was really a biography of James Joyce PRETENDING to be a biography of Nora Joyce. Interesting nonetheless.)

Well, maybe it's time to try Ulysses again. Because now From Hunger demystifies Ulysses for the masses. Yeah!

You know you owe it to yourself to check this out.


Sunday, June 15, 2008


"What do you want to do for dinner?"

"We could go for pizza."

"That would be fun."

So we go for pizza. But the pizza place is really, really crowded. Way too crowded.

"Maybe this would be a good time to try that other pizza place that just opened around the corner."

So we try the other place. But they have TVs right up in your face everywhere you turn. One is showing a sitcom my husband deems inappropriate for his innocent daughter. We get in the car and start driving around aimlessly.

"We could go eat downtown."

"That sounds good."

Downtown it is. After a pleasant dinner, we take a stroll around the downtown plaza. And this is what we see:

The artcars are downtown. Ziad, who only moments before had been complaining about being cold, immediately forgot all about the temperature. There was a dragoncar.

Many of the owners were holding court near their cars. They were all extremely friendly, and encouraged people to touch, or even get in, the cars. Maya spent a good amount of time prowling around the cat-themed car:

This car got a lot of mileage out of the whole "pussy" double-entendre, although there was nothing so explicit that I had to drag her out of there. She was really intrigued by the fur-lined handcuffs dangling from the inside doorwell, but we slid right on past that with the non-committal, "Yeah, wow, look at that. That's really funny."

My favorite was Flivver, so it gets the most pictures.

The artist, sporting blue hair for the occasion, was extremely friendly. The car was just way over the top, in a sparkly, silly kind of way.

The dashboard was particularly encrusted, but I couldn't find any good pictures (all of these pictures, by the way are downloaded from Flickr, but are pictures of cars we actually saw.) This picture of the wheel well gives you some idea, though.

We walked back to our non-artcar through the plaza, where the grass and walkway were littered with purple jacaranda blossoms, and I remembered again how much I enjoy living in San Jose.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

May 15, 2008

So today it was my family's turn to get there a whole hour late. These things happen. Despite the late start, we decided to hike on up to Alpine Pond, since this has been on my list of Things To Do ever since we started coming to Skyline Ridge.

At first the trail went up gently, alternating through sunny grass meadows and green shady woodlands. We saw lots of flowers. Then we came to a crossroads -- which way to go? Both went to the pond. We chose the path that continued along the hillside, leading to some beautiful views out all the way to ocean.


We stopped for a while by a very cool rock to have some snacks, do some sketching, and even make a few blow pipes out of grass stems. Then we carried on to Alpine Pond, where the Daniels Nature Center is.

That is one wonderful pond. It has its share of tule growing along the banks, with lots and lots of red-winged blackbirds singing their hearts out.

I love their song. We saw fish in the water, the kids played some wierd game that involves throwing pine cones at each other, we ate lunch, we gabbed. It was great.

Then we had kind of a dodgy hike back, since there was a longer uphill than anyone had really bargained for and the younger kids were feeling a somewhat sick of walking. Still we made it to the summit of our trail, and started back down, back through the meadows and the woods till we made it to the parking lot.

I tried a new drive home but it didn't work very well, and I still haven't figured out how whether there's a good way to get to 17 from Skyline Boulevard or not. Where the hell does Summit Road go east of 17 anyway? Shouldn't they meet up?

I'll have to try another route next time. Scroll down for pictures of flowers.

Native Sunflowers


Wild Ginger


Wild Rose


Chinese Houses (?)




California Poppies



Sticky Monkey Flower


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Friday, June 13, 2008


Never take a budgie to the vet. Because if you do, chances are that you will pay $50 for the visit, plus $28 for the lab test, to find out that a bird which costs $20 at the pet store needs $15 worth of antibiotics. In our case, since we have two budgies, we spent $143, since one test and one dose of antibiotics suffice for both.

And the fun has only just begun. You may wonder how one gives antibiotics to a bird. Well, you suck it up into a syringe and shoot it down the bird's throat, while trying to avoid being bitten but still handle the bird gently so as not to hurt it. I don't know if this sounds straightforward or not, but it's not as easy as that sentence would make it seem. We have one budgie in particular who is amazing for her ability to struggle to free herself and scream bloody murder all while keeping her beak clamped tight shut. The poor thing now has sticky and slicked down feathers on the side of her face where the sugary antibiotics have missed her mouth. And when I do miss her mouth, I never really know whether I should try again with another dose or not, because maybe she's gotten enough down her throat that if I give her more it would be bad.

Which is not even to mention the merriment when the bird escapes. Budgies are little and flighty, so we have to chase them back and forth across the room, swatting at them vainly to get them to leave whatever high perch they've lighted on, trying to tire them out until they lose enough altitude for us to get our hands on them. In my case, this is generally accompanied by mounting frustration leading to anger, even though there's not really anyone to blame. Doesn't help me keep my temper, though.


We are supposed to keep track of our remaining antibiotics, and bring the birds in for another checkup and lab test, and presumably go through this all over again in case the lab test shows a continuing high bacteria count. I love the budgies, and I know that misuse of antibiotics is bad for everybody, not just the birds involved, but does ANYBODY do that for their children, say, if the prescribed course of antibiotics has left the children feeling healthy again? Given that the budgies didn't have any actual symptoms to start with, just a high bacterial count in their droppings, I'm afraid we are all going to have to soldier on without the followup.

Life is tough sometimes.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tagged by Vivian

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Ten years ago I took my five-month-old son and went to visit my sister. The visit ended when we got into an argument that ultimately didn't settle down for about six years or so.
Apart from that, I was just hanging out with Ziad. We used to sit together on the kitchen floor and share warmed up canned chicken soup, we used to sit together in the rocking chair and listen to music. I remember one time my Mom came over to visit and we sat on the porch and talked while he played in the yard. It was mostly just the two of us, though; Maya wasn't even on the horizon yet and Nabil was usually at work. I was lonely sometimes, but it was still a special time.

2. What are 5 things on my TO-DO list for today?
Today is over, but I'll tell you what I did: Drop off the kids at their piano lesson, then run errands until they were finished, come home for lunch with Lesley, then work on the computer until taking them to their assessment for chorus next year, then lunch with Jennifer (uh-oh! Two lunches in the same day?), then more errands, and now it's time to make dinner. Except I'm not hungry.

3. Snacks I enjoy:
Carrots and celery, crackers and cheese, CHIPS! Snacks should be crunchy.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I can't even imagine. I like the idea of buying land and returning it to its previous state -- maybe I could set up a trust fund to be used for actual staffing in parks and libraries.

5. Places I have lived:
Sudbury, MA; Santa Cruz, CA; Billings, Montana; Paterson, NJ; Shingu, Japan; San Jose, CA.

6. Jobs I have had:
computer board assember, short order cook, secretary, tutor, dance instructor, martial arts instructor, math teacher, parent.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I know it's been done before

and yet, this video serves as both vacation research/planning and a metaphor for vacation research/planning.

Double your fun!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


During the ongoing flap over the California Court ruling concerning homeschooling, Debbie Schwartzer has been a consistent voice of reason.

Here is a link to an interview with her. This half-hour program is well worth listening to, especially if you homeschool, even more so if you are homeschooling under an R-4. I think the homeschool is very fortunate to count such a bright and articulate attorney among our numbers.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Georgia on my mind

You never get tired of the classics.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Strange new world

Our family is planning a vacation. For some reason, planning for this particular vacation seems to involve a lot more detail than previous vacations have. This in turn has provided the occasion for extended discussions between my husband and myself. I admit to being a strong-willed person. My husband is, too. It may be superfluous to add that we're both stubborn. Furthermore, just to make things fun, our sets of likes and dislikes seem to be almost completely contradictory. And if all that isn't bad enough, my husband's idea of expressing disagreement usually involves sarcasm and mockery. You can imagine that there have been some tense moments in our house lately. The epic battle over Disney/no Disney raged over the course of some three days. It still hasn't been fully resolved.

So imagine my surprise today when I realized that all our hours of discussion, veering as they have between heated debate and protracted disagreement, have resulted in the beginnings of an itinerary that is better than what either of us would have come up with on our own. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, or something to that effect. We're even communicating better as far as being able to express our different viewpoints and priorities in ways that the other person can reasonably absorb. Teamwork. Wow. What a concept.

The thing that strikes me as almost unbearably funny about this is that both of us are so old to be entering into a new phase of cooperation and working together. I thought you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Morpho Menelaus & Pomegranate

Thanks, Lesley

Lesley's REM flashback got me rummaging around on YouTube. I've always loved this song, because it works really well as a happy, feel-good song, but you could also see it as a sarcastic commentary on happy, feel-good songs.

But I never knew there was a Muppet version. Brilliant.

We can be Happy! Now I love Michael Stipe even more than ever.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Mystery video


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More Tom Chapin

Maybe you didn't find my last post about Tom Chapin all that inspiring. Well, here's someone else besides me who's a fan.

Go, Emily!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The hills are alive

Ziad and Maya sing with a children's chorus. I love the music this chorus sings; it's generally modern classical music, with some folk songs thrown in. The arrangements are all musically interesting and fun to listen to. Ziad and Maya like it too; they sing their chorus songs around the house and in the car. We're all pretty happy with it.

Their choir director is Amy, a young and enthusiastic woman. She played Maria in The Sound of Music last year, and I mean it as a compliment when I say she was born to play that role. She is deservedly quite popular with the kids.

It may seem a non-sequiteur for me to observe now that Ziad is not very good at brushing his teeth. So bad, in fact, that last night I was brushing some of them for him, while lecturing him on how poor teeth-cleaning leads to cavities, plus it looks awful and so on and so forth until he interrupted me: "Have you ever seen Amy's teeth?" It took me a while to figure out which Amy he meant.

"No, I never really looked at her teeth."

"They're really beautiful. I guess we see her teeth more because she smiles at us so much."

Yes, our family is very happy with the choir.