Friday, December 29, 2006


Today Josh The Pilot and I went cake-tasting. He was all about this part of the wedding planning, especially when he found out what a groom's cake is.

ME: Can we have a castle on the top of the wedding cake?

JOSH THE PILOT: What I want is a cake that looks like a radar screen. You can color the icing. It could be green fading into black with all these dots, or-- hey! You can get little crackers shaped like airplanes! I'll email you a jpeg you can use for a logo.


JOSH: And I want it to be a cheesecake.

raspberry filling at:

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Jim The Small Child Nephew is never scared. He is the most unscared two-year-old in the whole world. It is only the things around him that experience fear.

"Carly scared," he said, hiding his loved-to-a-nub stuffed cat behind a drape as various cousins and grandparents poured noisily into his home on Christmas Eve.

"Baby Will scared," he announced from the back seat when his mother didn't take the expected route home from Grandma's house, apparently unaware that Baby Will shows fear by laughing at Aunt Beth's glove hitting him in the face.

Last week McQueen (R) (TM) (you owe Disney 47 cents for reading that name) was scared when the doorbell rang. But Jim, no.

He was stranded on the back porch without a scapegoat the other day when the vacuum cleaner, an object about which Carly, McQueen, and Will have all expressed apprehension, roared into use. He took two steps backwards, one small hand clutching my coat. "Aunt Beth?"

The screaming, headlit monster slid near the back door. I wrapped my arms around my sister's child. Aunt Beth's coat was terrified, so I took it and Jim to the back railing to watch the barges trudge down the Ohio River.

At one point Jim's hood slid down. I set him on the concrete to fix it. "Hold you?" he said, both arms in the air. I picked him up again, and he comforted my coat by batting at the string on the neckline. "Pull!" he said happily.

It was safe for all winter garments to return inside once the noise of the vacuum growled away. "I don't know if we should indulge this phobia," my mother said as I unclamped Jim's hands from the door handle.

"Weren't Julie and I scared of the vacuum?" I said.

"Oh, never."

Later, when I repeated the story to my father, he said, "I made sure you weren't scared of the vacuum cleaner. You used to ride on it."

"Mom never told me that."

"Your mother doesn't know."

We're talking one of these 70's Explosion, carrot-puke orange specials here that weighed ninety-seven pounds and sucked up not only dirt, but the will to live of everyone within earshot. But I shudder to think of the outcome if we attempt to plop 35-pound Jim down on the head of an Oreck. Progress is not always a good thing.

It makes my coat scared.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

His Long National Life is Over

The man who was President on the day I was born has passed on.

Gerald Ford was a Navy veteran and an exemplary ex-President. I was proud to be his constituent for five days, and hereby forgive his associations with the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Do not underestimate the power of The Rack.

Last week I wished that The Stack would disappear far, far, away, but it was certainly not my intent to create this:

On Christmas Day a tornado hit the University of Airplanes. The building you see behind that jumble of wings houses some of my classrooms. No one was hurt, which is a great blessing, but-- living crap.

This is our own fault. We got cocky. There was a great deal of nose-thumbing in the general direction of the Atlantic Ocean after such a lame hurricane season, so God was all, "Oh yeah? Here's an F-2 for you. See how you like it."

The administration sent the faculty an email assuring us that classes will begin as scheduled. (This, contrary to what students might think, made me frowny.) Otherwise, this is a Campus Safety Department dream. The property is completely closed, which means the officers, normally engaged with patrolling the campus swimming pool in little golf carts, got to set up sawhorses and parking blocks and barrels and flares and I don't know what all, and tell all sorts of onlookers to move along and that NOBODY'S ALLOWED IN HERE. They've been waiting their entire lives for this.

I am told that my office building is fine. I hope not entirely. A family of wasps has taken up residence above my window for the past two years, and it is my fondest hope that they got blown to Zimbabwe. Not likely, however; if they haven't been whisked off by now, The Rack must not have disintegrated their will to live yet. Perhaps I missed my aim.

great vendor bargaining chip at:

Monday, December 25, 2006

And May All Your Christmases

I hope you got everything you wished for this year.

I know I did.

aw at:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve

I'm not quite sure Jim The Small Child Nephew is on board with this whole Santa Claus bit yet. We know he's not a true Small Child yet, as his mother and I hustled armfulls of packages past him the other day and he batted not an eye, except to voice his displeasure at the fact we were momentarily blocking his view of Clifford's Puppy Days. As a dedicated godmother, I've been carefully encouraging his materialism: "Ask Daddy for one in every color," I suggested when his attention was last arrested by a BMW commercial.

It's starting to work. "Presents!" he said yesterday, pointing at a small stack.

"Those aren't for you," said Julie The NephewsMama. "Santa Claus has yours, at the North Pole." This was met with a blank stare and a great deal of contemplative thumb-sucking, because I totally think he has X-ray vision and was possibly wondering why his mother was redefining "in the plastic bins normally containing the ornaments and Christmas tree parts" as "the North Pole."

This is probably the last Christmas Eve he'll get any sleep for at least five to seven years. I think some of my fondest Christmas memories, outside of running and skidding into paper in cowboy boots, are those glowing with anticipation-- curling into a small trembling blonde ball in my bed, holding whispered conferences with my sister in the bed next door: Did she hear that? What was that? Had he arrived yet?

One year we set carrots next to Santa's cookies and awoke to not only cookie crumbs, but half-gnawed veggies, one abandoned on the snowy lawn. We were transported, and hysterical: Rudolph didn't get to finish his snack! Rudolph was probably hungry! Santa was a slave driver! Somebody call the ACLU on Claus!

This was also the year, I believe, that we received little Mary Lou Retton replica uniforms and gymnastics mats, so our outrage was scrapped in favor of pretending we had any athletic skill outside of smacking each other. Man, those were the days.

If I don't get a chance to type tomorrow, a very merry Christmas and a double shot of gratefulness to all my beloved The Readers. I'll pound one for you this sacred holiday season.

round and round the Christmas tree at:

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