Wednesday, January 30, 2008

how's about some ham with your mustard sandwich?

if you ever have wingman make you a sandwich, be sure to first thoroughly examine your feelings about yellow mustard.

just sayin' is all.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

business etiquette 101.

a bedroom furniture primer
by sillymortalmama

dresser is english.

chest of drawers is british.

near as i can figure, they distinguish the two here by referring to the low and long piece with or without attached mirror as a dresser. with the tall and narrower piece being called the chest of drawers.

or chester drawers if you must and no one taught you better.

in other news, i finally got the call to pickup wingman's math books (one text, one workbook) and the teacher's manual for the duke's new math book.

not only did i have to wait THREE TIMES AS LONG to receive said books, she jacked the prices up by nearly 25% from what i always have paid when ordering it!

(i have always ordered it full price directly from the publisher)

now, i'm all for shopping locally (though she is a franchise) but seriously! if you're gonna be more expensive, then have a good ready stock available in store or really fast shipping and get it to me! if you're gonna be all slow and shit, then don't jack up the price!

the whole act globally, shop locally thing is a two way street. we've all got to help one another out. no relationship, business or otherwise, should ever be taken for granted.

make it somewhat worth it to come to your store. don't make me suffer to patronize your business.

and while we are on the subject, i don't give a rat's ass if you're hungry or haven't had a break or whatever. i really don't want to deal with you while you have a plate of garlicky caeser salad with a big hunk of salmon on top it at the counter munching away between customers.

it's odd behavior in a place of business. okay you're hungry, but let's put it in perspective. a coffee, a luna bar, a smoothie, a handful of nuts, that kind of thing i can see tucked away and discretely nibbled or sipped on here and there.

but you're running a business lady, not hanging out in your living room, or lunching at the neighborhood bistro. don't make me watch you, hear you, and smell you eat your lunch.

especially if you're gonna charge me 25% more to do so.

new wine blog tonight. i'd do it now, but really, it's still the morning. a bit more bukowski than even i can muster.


Monday, January 28, 2008

did you know there is a difference between a dresser and a chest of drawers?

so the lord of the ring and i made one bold step closer to being actual adults and bought a dresser.

a real dresser. a new dresser.

i wonder if i took a poll of my generation how many would say they don't actually have a dresser? not something that is actually meant to be used as something else, but a real dresser?

anyhow, to achieve this we had to go to the furniture store. furniture stores are slightly weird in that they ARE HUMONGOUS and eerily silent. practically deserted, yet filled to the rafters with whole "rooms" set up and decorated within an inch of their lives.

and just so you know, i looked and looked and looked on craigslist and in consignment stores and goodwill to find a used dresser to no avail. not only was i not successful in my attempt, i have never seen so many ugly ass dirty pieces of furniture in my life.

so, that's the reason for the trip to the furniture store.

and the reason for this explanation is that buying brand new never been used by someone else furniture feels very odd. like i'm getting away with something i shouldn't be. like somewhere someone is recording this in my permanent carbon footprint file.

anyway, it was just our luck we got the resident bitch for our sales person.

"are you looking at the dresser or the chest of drawers?"

"oh, i didn't realize they were called different things"

"mm. well. they are."

and she gives me that look that you have to be in your late 50's and bitter to perfect.

so she gets us all rung up and whatnot and somehow it comes up that we home school. she seems surprised by this. then she proceeds to put her hand over mine and leans in and says

"no offense, but aren't the schools on the island good enough for you?"

"well, the voices in my head tell me they aren't"

okay, so i didn't say that. but only because i didn't think of it until later.

what a bitch.

i did say

"well, first of all we don't live on the island so i wouldn't know about the schools. and second of all this isn't about the schools, it's about the best decision for our family"

and i can't stand when someone says "no offense" because what they might as well be saying is "i am now going to be offensive. brace yourself"

when i find myself explaining myself to complete idiots it always makes me feel cheapened in some way.

i just wish i could remember that "why, that's none of your business now is it?" is perfectly acceptable and i daresay more than called for in some circumstances.

in the meantime, besides propelling us to adulthood, the dresser also means i have to fold my clothes and put them away and no longer have an excuse not to.



Wednesday, January 23, 2008


i've been on craigslist A LOT in the past few months. the lost&found and pets categories mostly. i'm still looking for a certain someone,

and i figured that since craigslist got me into this mess ("fixed" cats, both pregnant. thanks, craig), perhaps it might get me out by my posting a lost ad and looking at the found ones.

so far, no luck. no yancey. but i am hopeful.

except i did have one "helpful" e-mail that suggested that my missing kitty would respond to the smell of whoever it was closest to. (that would be me) this helpful cat person then suggested that i pee in a bottle and then sprinkle the urine around the perimeter of my property to attract the lost kitty back home.

i've peed in a lot of places. i've peed in every yard i've ever owned, i've peed in my pants, and i've peed in a million cups at the gynecologist's office, just one at the mexico-texas border, and in the backseat of a car (32 ouncer) going down the freeway at 80 miles an hour.

"oops" never sounded so frighteningly telling than it did that day to the poor friend driving.

having camped and backpacked and road-tripped my way down the coast, over the mountains, and across the country, i'm not shy about peeing without the benefit of porcelain beneath me.

BUT, there is something about deliberately peeing into a bottle (did she suggest a spray bottle? a water bottle? i can't remember) and then taking said pee and sprinkling it around the perimeter of my property.

"howdy neighbor! fine day for SPILLING MY URINE NEXT TO YOUR DRIVEWAY. whoops! better move aside!"

first off, my property is not small so i would need a big bottle and a hell of a lot of pee.

and second, our property banks up against property belonging to the united states government. property cut off with a VERY DEFINED AND DESIGNATED easement, huge ass fence topped with razor wire, with a well patrolled by well armed soldiers frontage road on the other side.

i can see me up on the hill, jug of urine in hand bending to my task when the patrol swings by.

what, really, would one say? what would possibly be a plausible excuse in this day and age for brandishing a jug of urine so near an important government property?

if you can't take a bottle of water onto the plane, i'm pretty sure you can't haul around a big jug of your own urine up by a the fence line of a united states government property.

sure, i doubt it's some federal crime, but i'm sure it would be frowned upon at the least, and incur some amount of questioning.

and if there wasn't a "file" already, there certainly would be now.

i love my kitty and miss him terribly. but no. i'm not peeing in a bottle or a jug or anything else and sprinkling it around my property.

though, judging from some of those craigslist folks and their ads in other more specific categories, that sort of behavior just might be the ticket to getting myself some dates should i find myself in need of one.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

this is what i get for being cheap.

so you may remember wingman's enthusiasm over getting a new math book? and they were out, so we had to wait for them to order the new one?

well it's been awhile now and i would have already had it if i had just ordered it myself. but i ordered a text and a teacher's manual for the duke's new math book, too, so i figured i'd save myself the shipping by having our home school resource store order it.

and as a result of this brilliant financial move, i've spent the last two weeks making up my own math lessons for wingman. which isn't rocket science, i did it for a few years with the duke and it's first grade for crying out loud. but it's just one. more. thing. to. think. about. and. then. do.

and the whining. at least with the book when he's not into his math (which is very rare) it's the book's fault and even he senses there's no point whining at a book. when he doesn't want to do math and it's my activity/worksheet/project it's my fault and the whine is on.

yeah. that 6 bucks i saved was SO worth it.

today i gave him our tray of fake money and made him count out amounts of money using different combinations of paper money and coins.

god you'd have thought i told him to paint the house.

i came in to the room he was working in to him whining

"thhhiiiiiiiiisssss iiiisssss ttttoooooooo haaaaarrrdddd"

"says the kid who gets to sit in the sunny patch on the floor in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter eating birthday chocolate during math time"

"well, it is"

"is it really too hard, or do you just not want to do it?"

"i don't want to do it and that mmmmmaaaaaaaaaakes iiiiitttt toooooooooo hard"

"well maybe if you actually did it, you would see it's not too hard?"

"it IS too hard"

"says the kid who hasn't even tried. cry me a river. now do your math"

good lord i went right to the phone and called the store. the owner said tomorrow or the next day for the book. she must have heard some note in my voice or must have some experience with on the edge homeschooling parents because she said real slow and deliberate like

"don't worry. i assure you we'll call you. it's gonna be here soon!"

it had better be. or else i'll have wingman counting out the change necessary to take the bus to the home school resource store and hang out there until it does.


Monday, January 21, 2008


yesterday we went into the big city to celebrate wingman's 7th birthday. he wanted to choose something for his birthday from the big cool toy store downtown and just walk around.

when we were on the ferry the duke of fun was trying to convince him of something that wasn't true. so wingman said

"you're just pulling my goat!"

either he's been watching too much borat, or what he meant to say was you are pulling my leg or you are just trying to get my goat.

whatever he does, that kid keeps us in stitches.

we are right in the thick of school, finishing several books and starting new ones. it's right about now i'd like to take a break and right about now that is never possible. though i have to say, even though it represents more work on my part, there is still something a bit thrilling in starting a new book for school.

the idea of "possibility" never really gets old.

well, i'm off. may your week go well and your goat not get pulled.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

wine blog.

because apparently i have nothing better to do with my time, i've started a new blog.

it's call the fifth food group, and it's all about wine. well, it's all about the wine i drink.

i don't pretend to have actual real knowledge of wine, i just drink it. and now i will drink it and let you know what i think.

you can find it here

or you can just click the link at the top right of this page.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008


a university in england conducted a study on how to improve the look of children's hospital wards and make them more inviting and just published it in Nursing Standard Magazine.

the results are in and i quote

"We found clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening..."

no. shit.

i'm glad they spent money on that because how would we ever have guessed that clowns are actually creepy?

(i'll let you in on a little secret, some of us did guess)

remember this little snippet about the duke?

or the bag lady in paris' questionable, but no doubt effective, babysitting practices?

now, if we could just get someone to spend money on studying something important.

like how in the hell is one supposed to extract a toy/item from the new rigid clamshell packaging with a pair of common household scissors WITHOUT scraping, gouging, or cutting your hands and/or damaging the item inside in the process?


Monday, January 14, 2008

if i ever invite you over for gumbo, say you're busy. trust me.

so the little black kitty did not go for the rabbit. no how, no way.

in fact, all the cats turned their noses up at it except the hefty siamese. who licked the bowl clean after finishing his own dinner and now has taken to hanging around the kitchen even more than he used to.

what a surprise.

now what am i going to do with all that ground up rabbit in my freezer? i can't feed it to just the siamese because he's gonna get used to it and i don't want to put up with him being all sassy about the regular food when the rabbit's all gone.

what the hell, i've already got two placentas in there. along with about 8 years worth of unidentifiable frozen items. what difference will 2 lbs. of ground up rabbit make?

fyi for any of you who come to my to bring along your own ice if you're prone to a delicate stomach about dead ground up animals, organs that used to be inside my body, or bags of vegetables and what appears to be the gumbo i made in '03 frozen within an inch of their lives sharing space with the ice cubes meant for your cool and refreshing beverage.

in other news, wingman turns seven this week. i'm not going to go into a whole big emotional tirade about how in the world my baby could already be seven and all that but just assume that's all implied.

the real story here is about the duke. and what an incredibly loving and generous and cool kid he's becoming.

sometime a few weeks ago he came to me and said he wanted to get wingman a birthday gift this year. he's never really given it much thought before, but this year he's determined. not only that, he's willing to spend his own money.

"and mama, i want to get a cool gift bag and a real birthday card"

so, with some leading questions and a recon. mission to a few stores, the duke has figured out what wingman really wants. he got his money together and had the lord of the ring to take him to this little store in the mall.

and good lord to have video taped his face when he came back.


he had them wrap the item at the store in a big gift bag with ribbons and tissue and he bought a card. after figuring out that wingman was safely engaged in the back of the house he came running across the yard with his gift and a big ol' smile. he was so proud. just beaming when he showed me the bag.

he also showed me the card before he filled it out. it's this 50's kid grinning over a huge table laden with all kinds of sweets. inside it says

Thankfully for little Robbie, this is the 1950's before we all knew enough to be concerned about cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Happy Birthday!

i can't pretend to know what goes through that kid's head. but i'm glad getting that gift for wingman brought so much joy to him. that really is very cool.

moving right along to a library funny.

there's a back way into the library. it involves an elevator or flight of stairs that end at the library's back door. when you open the door it opens in. and because it needs to be easy to open to suit all the patrons, when you push it open it automatically continues to open. then a few seconds later it automatically swings closed.

the problem is, there's a book shelf right where the door swings open. which is fine. unless one is standing in front of the book shelf looking for a book. and if one is unaware and standing right in the right spot looking for a book, or worse yet crouched down in the right spot looking for a book on the lower shelf then the door opens with a great smack right into your person.

and better yet, you'll never guess where all the feng shui books are shelved.


that's some bad juju right there.


Friday, January 11, 2008

little bunny foo foo hopping from the freezer.

so wingman came up with a viable recipe.

and while i am certain it's not "original" he doesn't know that and it is creative.

cookie dough pizza
by wingman

you take one batch of sugar cookie dough and roll into to one big cookie

bake it in oven

when it's cool spread the top with yellow frosting (for the cheese)

then sprinkle chocolate chips on top (for the pepperoni)


you can sprinkle yellow sprinkles on top if you want to. for more cheese. or you don't have to.

not bad. i'm a little concerned about the stability of such a large sugar cookie, and the frosting on top of a sugar cookie sounds tooth shatteringly sweet, but hey, he doesn't need to know any of that.

and good lord at least it's not one of the many meat, milk, microwave combos he was favoring early on.

in other wingman doins', he's decided to make up his own "bad words" which he then uses on a regular basis.

his latest one is "holybob"

"it's a really bad word. i won't use it too often"

and if there's anything else to say about that i don't know what it is.

and finally we come to our little black kitty. i could go on and on about the issues we have with this kitty. but she is so darned sweet i'll just leave it at "issues" and not talk shit about her. and trust me when i say shit, i'm not just being jerky and potty mouthed.

so in my research and attempt to find the best way to treat her condition i am at the stage of experimentation with a raw food diet for her.

you may remember my earlier brush with the consideration of a raw food diet for cats?

well now i am considering it for just the one cat. which provides its own logistical nightmares for feeding a pack of cats when one is having something different from all the others, but i need to get my kitty well.

so, in that spirit yesterday i went and picked up my whole ground up rabbit. frozen in a 2 pound chub.

and, if the rabbit doesn't suit her, why they've got quail too! actually, they've got chicken and venison as well, but the rabbit and the quail are the only animals they have that are ground whole. bone, organ, skin, etc. so the nutrients are complete for an obligate carnivore. (cat)

you defrost the chub in the fridge over night, parcel out the servings into individual plastic bags, put all the individual plastic bags into a freezer safe bag/container and just remove the servings you'll need for the next day the day before to the refrigerator for defrosting.

when you take a serving out of the fridge at feeding time, you run the bag under gently warm water for a brief time. enough to bring it to room temp, no hotter.

basically you are heating the raw meat to the temperature of a freshly killed rodent.


you put this deliciousness into a bowl and she eats it.

(as an aside, i bet she doesn't eat it. i just bet she. won't. go. for. it. but that's just my natural sunny optimism peeking out to say hello)

you toss out whatever she doesn't finish and wash up the bowl right away.

yeah. oh, yeah, i have this kind of time just sitting around waiting for a kicky new fun project.

i don't.

but, i chose to keep this animal and thus i am responsible for her. and she is ill and i will do whatever i can to help her. raw rabbits and all.

plus, let's face it, you can't buy material like this for a blog.

and lucky me, just when i was running out of things to write about.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

from the test kitchen.

so wingman wants to invent a recipe. he's been thinking about it a lot today.

just awhile ago he came up to me and said

"what about i take like ground meat and some carrots and some milk and some cheese and i mix it up and cook it?"

"well, without the cheese, that sounds very close to a mixture for swedish meatballs. remember, like we had at ikea?"

"oh yeah. darnit!"

so he went away and came back later and said

"okay what about like cheese and i mix it with like some liquid and put some bread around it and like put it in a bowl and cook it in the microwave. or the oven?"

"that sounds a lot like a dish called welsh rabbit. there's no rabbit, though. it's a melted, cooked cheese sauce that is poured over a thick slice of toasted wheat bread and eaten with a knife and fork."


i gave him the cookbooks i got from the library for him to come up with a menu for us to make for dinner, but he's not having any part of it. he's determined to make up a recipe, cook it, and have us eat it.


oh well, if i could eat the undercooked chicken as a STAUNCH VEGETARIAN just because i didn't want to offend the 90 year old woman serving it to me lo those many years ago then i can do this.

wish me luck and an abundance of wine.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

a slice of a tuesday here at the big red house.

"mama, where's the thesaurus? it's not on the shelf"

"try looking behind the bug eating plants"


Monday, January 07, 2008

i really don't know clouds at all.

the boybarians and i studied clouds and weather at the beginning of fall.

yesterday on the way to the store we went through a bank of fog and i just couldn't remember what kind of cloud could sit on the ground and be fog.

the boybarians remembered, but my addled brain couldn't.

so i made myself a little cloud primer, and now i will share it with you.

STRATUS~ in latin means layer. can sit on the ground and be fog.

CUMULUS~ in latin means heap. cotton ball clouds when sunny, menacing clouds when stormy

CIRRUS~ in latin means hair. high, wispy, feathery clouds.

and now i hope you don't have that judy collins song stuck in your head all day.

in other news, the duke found an old letter he got a few years ago.

he comes running in and says all excitedly

"mama, look how old this letter is! i mean, look! a 37 cent stamp! that's old!"

dear lord, please just find me a quiet spot to park my walker and ride out my child's adolescence.


Friday, January 04, 2008

and people wonder why i consider red wine the fifth food group.

so wingman finished his math book on monday.

on his own, in his bed, before getting out and before everyone else was awake, i might add. he must have taken it to bed with him just for this purpose. we can only hope this enthusiasm continues.

anyhow, since monday he has been bugging me to go to the home school resource store for the next book.

we couldn't go monday. tuesday was a holiday and they were closed. wednesday we had school and errands and piano in the opposite direction. thursday i got some fever of unknown origin and after school took the rest of the day "off".

so that leaves today. and this morning before the sun was up he was right at my face asking to go and get his new math book.

fine. let me wake up.

how about now?

let me have coffee.

what about now?

let me have breakfast and check e-mail.



not 5 minutes ago i said

"hey wingman, go get dressed and we'll go get your new math book, okay?"

"do i have to come with you?"

oh. my. god. seriously?

is he gaslighting me or what?

all i'm sayin' is it's a good thing i'm already nuts because i might have a bone to pick with him otherwise.

in other news, my father once told the duke that a boy was ready for a knife when a boy knows how to whistle.

this has been something the duke held on to for about the last year.

guess what boy knows how to whistle now?

guess what boy just got a knife?

more adventures to come, i'm sure.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

grammar 101.

home schooled kids aren't always geniuses.

the home schooling mother isn't always patient.

and at times without benefit of quarterly report cards or outside review it's kinda hard to see "where we're at."

but then real life intervenes and you get a glimpse and then this sillymortalmama's breathing gets a bit easier. for a time at least.

case in point.

the lord of the ring and i received two unprompted thank you notes this week.

the first from the duke of fun.

Dear Mama and Papa,

Thank you for the N64. Me and Wingman and I really like it.

Love, The Duke

not a day later i got the following from wingman.


thAnk you For the N64. The DuKe AnD I ReALLy Like It.


i know it doesn't seem like it, but they wrote those independent of one another. and, upper case and lower case issues aside, what these notes serve to illustrate is not only do we have appreciative and sweet boys, but that the whole when to use I and when to use Me issue is apparently NOT an issue for them.

(and that their parents are lucky bastards in that their gamble that an 11 year old 25$ on e-bay gaming system as their big ticket christmas gift would make them as ecstatically happy as it did. whew.)

back to the issue at hand, i have to say, this really pleases an old grammar curmudgeon like me.

because we all know the whole I and Me issue is a bit of a sticky wicket.

the quick and dirty of it all is as follows;

when you are talking about yourself and someone else THE OTHER PERSON IS ALWAYS MENTIONED FIRST and if you and that someone else are at the beginning of the sentence then it's I.

The Duke and I went to the store.

The King and I danced.

Sean Penn and I flirted heavily then...

well, you get the picture. moving right along.

when you are talking about yourself and someone else THE OTHER PERSON IS ALWAYS MENTIONED FIRST and if you and that someone else are at the end of the sentence then it's me.

Mama gave cookies to Wingman and me.

Papa is going to the store and is taking The Duke and me with him.

Tonight it's just going to be Sean Penn and me.

i know i know, it sounds like it should be I, but RESIST! for god sake man resist! it's ME! it is, i'm telling you! you won't "sound smarter" saying I at the end. you won't!! you just wont! just embrace it and move. on.

because one day we'll have to go into the whole lay vs. lie dealio and you're gonna wanna save your strength for that.

trust ME.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

collard greens, party of one.

on new year's day i like to make hoppin' john. you know, black eyed peas for luck and all that.

i also make cheesy grits, and slow simmered greens with ham hocks, and fresh buttermilk biscuits, too.

so a few days ago i needed to go shopping for this feast. i got the black eyed peas in bulk, though for the first time this year i saw them fresh. in fact, two different brands of fresh black eyed peas.

bully marketing effort on someone's part i'd say.

anyhow, the greens i like to get are definitely collard greens and mustard greens. they don't always have these kinds, so i was happy to see them. my store always has kale, which i LOVE, but not as a slow simmered green. i like kale better lightly steamed, or lightly sauteed instead.

so i've got my greens and the rest of my ingredients and i'm in the checkout line. the woman behind me sees my collard greens as she's unloading her cart and asks

"what are those?"

"those are collard greens"

"what do you do, cook them?"



"do you eat them?"

double ??

"um, yeah. though by the time they're done cooking they don't look much like this"


now, if you haven't ever seen collard greens they can probably seem weird. huge, too huge for a bag, and wide, and flat, and dark green. oh and generally dirty. mud on the stems, dirt on the leaves. they definitely aren't for those who like their produce cleaned, trimmed, and vacuum packed.

so the checker is scanning my items and grabs the collard greens and asks

"what are these?"


"collard greens"



so then i'm swiping my card and these older woman comes up and taps me on the shoulder and..

(okay, i have to say i hate being tapped. anywhere on my body. by anybody. it makes me feel like punching someone right away. it comes from being locked in the turkey pen with george the turkey when i was four. while he pecked away. it's a long story that i'm sure i'll regale you with at another time. needless to say, when thanksgiving came around that year i was not sorry to see who was on the menu and in fact ate quite heartily)

so she taps me on the shoulder (i didn't punch her) and i turn around and she says

"my husband wants to know what those are"

and points to my box of grits.

no seriously, what do you think she pointed to!

"those are collard greens"


the husband just had a mildly disgusted look on his face and they moved on.

the bagger, a boy who looked like he was 12 but i'm just old so i think everyone looks like they're 12, had no farkin' clue what to do with the collards so when he got the cart all packed up he stood there holding them with a befuddled look until i relieved him of the collards and just rested them on top of everything.

he didn't offer to help me to my car.

well i took those greens home and a pot of water, a coupla ham hocks, and three hours later they were deeee-licious!

i guess it doesn't matter how big and global the world becomes, most of us still live in the world we were born with.

and that's just fine.

more collards for me.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

hey brother, could you spare a dime.

so wingman got a cool craft book from my sister for christmas a few days ago.

immediately he set to work on his first craft. a little decorated plastic money box.

when he finished he was so proud! he did it largely by himself and i was proud of him, too.

he came up and told me he didn't have any money for it (which is not true, that kid has more money than god. a wallet a few inches thick and money in the bank. i don't know where he gets it, but he's got it)

where was i? oh, yeah, basically he asked me for some money to put in his new box and i was pleased with his effort and gave him a dollar to put in.

big mistake.

because for the last 24 hours he's been wandering around, shaking his little money box in every one's face, giving us "the look". and he's stopped asking, he just shakes his box.

to which the lord of the ring said

"so what? now you're a panhandler?"

the lord of the ring seemed slightly disgusted but i feel oddly comforted by it.

if nothing else, it's a useful skill to have indeed.

happy 2008!!