Monday, March 30, 2009

Everyone: A collective sigh...

...of relief, that is. Or bliss.

Heir 2's college is paid for with a scholarship as long as he maintains at least a 3.3 average.

We knew he'd be able to attend with financial aid -- and if worst came to worst, student loans (in his name, of course. We'd be no help to him in that department...).

But I know it was important to him that any monetary help he receives, he receives on merit, not because he's got a sob story or because he was "lucky" enough to be born to parents who screwed up (my words, not his).

He's already in contact with his computer professor and it's a little sad to see his high school days winding down.

And as of the end of April, I'll have no more "children" at home.

Not officially, anyway...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I think the operative phrase is '15-year-old eighth grader'

Fla. student suspended from bus for passing gas

15 hours ago

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — An eighth-grader was suspended from riding the school bus for three days after being accused of passing gas. The bus driver wrote on a misbehavior form that a 15-year-old teen passing gas on the bus Monday to make the other children laugh, creating a stench so bad that it was difficult to breathe. The bus driver handed the teen the suspension form the next day.

Polk County school officials said there's no rule against flatulence, but there are rules against causing a disturbance on the bus.

The teen said he wasn't the one passing gas.

Whether he did it or not, he might have gotten off easy. A 13-year-old student at a Stuart school was arrested in November after authorities said he broke wind in class.

Information from: The Ledger,

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Ya know...we try to keep things high-brow around here...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You just gotta see it

Even if you are not a Dog Person or a Herding Dog Person, this is amazing (found via Cathy Santarsiaro The Christmas Corgi blog, which is a wonderful read, even if you are not a Corgi Person):

I don't know why this made me tear up.

Perhaps it's the rough, tough shepherds festooning their sheep. Perhaps it's the idea of them sitting around planning to festoon their sheep...

...and the dogs that helped them do it...

Friday, March 20, 2009

I want my own show

I was in bed half asleep and Dirtman was watching the president on The Tonight Show.

Leno and Obama start talking about his bowling skills and, in an offhand remark, the president compared his skills to Special Olympics.

"Uh-oh," I moaned.

"What?" Dirtman asked.

"There's gonna be hell to pay in the morning."

"Whaddaya mean?"

"The Special Olympics thing. There's going to be an outcry."

"Awww -- no one really heard that," Dirtman insisted.

"Mark my words," I said sleepily. "I want credit for calling this one."

And this morning? Oh yeah.

If he had asked me, I would have been able to advise the president on the groups it's okay to diss. For instance, he could have said he bowled like a fat person.

And, while we're on the subject: Lighten. Up.

Jeanne Jackson: Political Pundit, Advisor to Presidents.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The AIG Hearings Drama Awards

And the award for Best Posturing of Outrage in Order to Get Plenty of Sound Bytes to be Played In His/Her Home State goes to:

(drum role)

Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts!!!!

Rep. Lynch delivered a loud, obnoxious diatribe accusing AIG CEO Edward Liddy of every offense ever committed since The Flood, stopping only briefly to ask a requisite question ("Have you anything to say for yourself, Sir?"). Liddy calmly explained that he did the government a favor in taking on the crippled company back in the fall and hadn't been the one the to bring it to its knees or manifest the contracts giving the ones who did lavish bonuses; at which point Lynch launched into a reiteration of what he'd said before as though he hadn't heard a word of what Liddy had said.

Out of context and with Liddy's reminder edited out, Lynch sounds like a Defender of the People. In context, he sounds like an idiot*.

*With apologies to those who may have voted for Rep. Lynch. He may be a wonderful representative in many other ways. I merely speak of his behavior at the hearings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Not involved in Bob Dylan's toilet"

Thank you, Reuters. After a day of watching spineless posturing and listening to lame excuses from the House Subcommittee and AIG CEO Edward Liddy, I needed to read something like this:
Bob Dylan's toilet smell blows in the wind

03/17/2009 3:00 PM, Reuters

Bob Dylan has sung about wind many times -- winds of change, the "Idiot Wind," and the winds that hit heavy on the borderline.

But some of his California neighbors on Tuesday were singing a new tune about what is blowin' in the wind from his Malibu toilet.

A family living near the 67-year-old folk and rock icon's house in the posh California beachside community of Malibu have complained to city officials about an outdoor portable toilet, which is apparently used by guards on Dylan's compound.

Cindy and David Emminger say the toilet wafts fumes from waste treatment chemicals, and that the smell carried by breezes from the Pacific Ocean makes their family feel ill.

"It's a scandal - 'Mr Civil Rights' is killing our civil rights," David Emminger told the Los Angeles Times.

A helicopter from a local television station hovered over Dylan's property this week, capturing video of the offending toilet.

But Malibu Mayor Andy Stern said other neighbors report smelling nothing from the toilet, and that he has left the matter to the enforcers of the city's code on objectionable odors.

"I really have not involved myself in Bob Dylan's toilet, and by the way I haven't involved myself in anyone else's toilet in Malibu," Stern told Reuters.

A spokesman for Dylan did not return calls.

Dylan, whose latest album "Together Through Life" is due out on April 28, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. His hit songs include "Like a Rolling Stone," "All Along the Watchtower" and "Blowin' In the Wind."

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Cynthia Osterman)

There's a job title for you: Objectional Odor Code Enforcer. I'd love to read the job description.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

At the bird feeder and the wisdom of Eight

This is absolutely the best time of year to have a bird feeder.

The goldfinches and house finches are starting to color up. The mourning doves have paired off, if they hadn't been already. The grackles strut around on the ground, puffing up their feathers to show off their virility.

And the starlings -- ah, the starlings. They have no inhibitions. It a starling orgy out there when a flock flies through.

Poor ol' Danny Kaye, though. Every time he attempts to get something to eat, he is chased away by the mockingbird. He finally grabbed a couple of bites today, shielded from his tormentor's view by two dove couples. I can only hope the mockingbird is in it's nest when Danny's mate comes out to eat at night.

I have made up an entire drama in my head about what's going on at the birdfeeder. We'll keep it there lest my sanity come into question*. Again.

*I confessed to Heir 2 the other day that ever since I was a little girl I gave numbers personalities and relationships to each other. While he agreed that One really needed to get over itself, we disagreed about the personality of Eight. He thought Eight was evil, but I assured him that Eight is the wisest number of all. This is probably the point at which I lost him. I think it was when I said, "Eight is the Ben Franklin of all the numbers."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I just remembered...

Fun Potatoes

I was a grown woman with children before it occurred to me that my mother made up the name of this "recipe."

Recipe for Fun Potatoes:
Peel potatoes
Boil potatoes
Put potatoes on plate
Tell your kids a big fat lie about how much fun these potatoes are.

Once the potato is on your plate, the "fun" begins. You cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and salt them. You get a pat of butter. From that pat, you take a tiny amount to be eaten with the bite of potato. Isn't that fun!

Da Bros. and I all agreed! Fun Potatoes were fun! Mommy would say in a chirpy voice, "We're having Fun Potatoes, Kids!" and we'd all cheer "Oh goody, Mommy! It's Fun Potatoes!"

For years I kept this nasty little secret that not only did Fun Potatoes annoy me because you could never really get the butter/potato ratio right and even when you did, they never quite mixed properly in your mouth; not only that, but I strongly suspected Fun Potatoes were really Mom's Too Tired To Mash Potatoes. And for some reason, Fun Potatoes only showed up as a side dish to two meals: liver and onions and once a year on St. Patrick's Day with the corned beef and cabbage.

I held my tongue for years, unwilling to spoil this precious memory for Da Bros.

Then one year around March 17, we were reminiscing about my mother's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, usually involving some sort of green dessert (the best was a pistachio cake with cream cheese icing; the worst was lime Jello with goo on top).

So, there we were, reliving fond memories when someone -- I'm pretty sure it wasn't me -- said:

"fun potatoes" just the tone of voice you would use to, say, announce you have a cold sore or a festering boil that makes it hard to sit properly.

And so I fessed up: "Guys, I gotta tell you; I really hated Fun Potatoes"

"Me too!" John Boy effused. "I was afraid to tell anyone. Everyone seemed to be so excited to be eating them."

"I hated Fun Potatoes," Dark Garden growled, knocking back his beer. That's what Fun Potatoes do to you, even after 35 years.

It may take me a few more years to share with them that I think the entire concept of Fun Potatoes was born of laziness on my mother's part. I don't want to traumatize anyone too quickly.

You know how boys are about their mother's memory.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The never-ending quest for college money

So how did Heir 2 do in his scholarship quest on Friday?

Well, we won't know the big picture until mid-April. But he felt good about what he did and arrived at lunch beaming.

It seems the interview portion of his test (or whatever) was done by the professor in his major -- the professor he met with last fall. The professor wants to take him on through the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, a really neat system where he gets to work on real-life research projects, present papers (a recent URAP student presented his paper in Italy, according to Heir 2 -- I'll try not to be bitter) and work one-on-one in his field. That's the part he's excited about. We're excited that it offers some scholarship money plus a stipend he can use for pocket money.

I can't tell you how much he deserves all this good luck. He'll tell you he's "cruised" through high school. And there were a few times he chose sleep over turning in a perfect paper or achieving 100 percent on a test. But he's maintained straight A's and he's done it all even when his world was crumbling around him. He's never complained about having to buy things for himself that we were able to afford to buy for Heir 1 and for awhile there he was the reason we could have dinner every night.

We did sit through a presentation for Roanoke's honors program, but neither of us was very impressed. The first thing he said on the way out was: "Couldn't you just smell the smug in that room?" So, though he qualifies (as a mother, I've just got to let you know that...sorry if I sound so...SMUG), he will not be participating in the honors program.

Today he's at the long-awaited forensics tournament, where his goal, he says, is to get it over with without embarrassing himself (his words, not mine). As you recall, he sort of fell into this to fill out the team numbers last-minute as a replacement for a team member who couldn't make it and then ended up coming in second. So, though he gotten a little bit of coaching since then, he's quite certain he knows just enough to get him into trouble.

When he gets home, he's going to bed -- if I have to nail his head to the bed, he's going to go to sleep.

A Major Error

She has taken to stomping on my keyboard and causing the strangest reactions from my computer. Through some combination of footwork, twice she has caused it to fail to boot up. Dark Garden has taught me how to pull the system from this precipice, which I had to do myself this morning for the first time. When, at last, I brought the system back up, it greeted me with the message: "This system has recovered from a major error."

We just call her Whiskers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Heiring out

We head to Roanoke College tomorrow: Heir 2, Dirtman and I will be leaving around 4:30 a.m. and heading straight for...

Handymart for Dunkin' Donuts coffee...

...and then to Salem, Va.

Heir 2 will be submitted to a series of tests and interviews, the point of which is scholarships. The top scholarship would pay for everything -- and that, of course, is a long shot. But there are smaller scholarships and, since he's qualified for this step, I believe he already gets a couple thousand (in addition to the $17,000 he got in September).

He's been up nights this week filling out all kinds of scholarship applications, some requiring 1,000-word essays; some requiring -- eerily -- his photo (I have a suspicion why they require this that I hope isn't the reason, so I'll keep it to myself...); some require several letters of recommendation (he owes his teachers big time -- they're really pulling for him).

We'll drive on back tomorrow afternoon. Then Saturday Heir 2 drive back down south, only an hour and a half further for the forensics regionals which he stumbled into.

I honestly don't know how he keeps up with it all.

Oh, and for those of you who have known me awhile: Remember how I used to joke around about being anxious to shove the kids out the door when they go to college?

I'm beginning to rethink my position. I'm going to miss my daily evening Battle of the Heirs, that usually ends with me having to say things like, "One of you is going to have to wash the gravy off the dog."

Good times.

My own kind of blue

Maybe it’s a late-winter slump or maybe it’s coming out of one. Maybe I’m just feeling the teasings of spring; you know how those 70+-degree days make you feel, even if it is followed by a string of days in the 40s?

Whatever it is, lately I go around annoyed by all this doom and gloom everyone has so easily fallen into. As if the season itself weren’t depressing enough, everyone feels this need to gear every conversation about the economy and the how it is going to bring about the end of the world as we know it.

Look, no one has more reason to be pessimistic than we here at Linguini on the Ceiling. Three out of four of us have no steady job -- only sporadic “projects” that keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. The industries wherein lie our expertise have been decimated and there are (at least here in the valley) hundreds of applicants for every low-paying, entry-level position. I could go on and on with the suckiness of the Linguini situation, but that would be doing the very thing that irritates me.

See, there is also this other thing. In a way it’s a good thing because otherwise last year when we lost two houses and the bank seized every penny we had, I would have done the logical thing and had a nervous breakdown. I could have spent those following painful months in a nice, quiet psych ward, drifting in a mist of valium. Oh, I would have emerged six months later to a family divided, bitter and in ruin, but it would not have been my problem because my delicate condition would exempt me from blame.

Believe me, I tried to have a nervous breakdown. But my brain is a survivor. It always, always, always manifests hope.

Hope. Every time. I don’t know how or where it comes from. There I am, on my way to a perfectly justified emotional meltdown – and – oh, look! A bluejay.

And because of the bluejay – or whatever catches my eye at the time – there’s the hope.

And, honestly – at the time it makes me really, really angry because insanity by contrast seems so peaceful, so much easier than duking it out with life.

My point is, when you approach me with your furtive looks of impending disaster, I’ve probably got the bluejay on my mind; I’ve probably got a plan that is seeing me through, even if there is a slim chance of it working. And you, you’ve read something or watched something or talked to someone and now you feel the need to share your feelings of disaster, not only as it applies to your life, but also, as a bonus, how it applies to mine.

Well, knock it off.

If not for me, for your own sake. Knock. It. Off.

Because here’s a secret that no one seems to get: We are the economy.

The economy isn’t “out there.” It’s us and what we do and how we feel. When we felt competitive and materialistic, the bloated economy reflected that. Now everyone is scared and expecting disaster and – guess what?

So, for Godsake, people, just live your life. I am as frugal as my personal economy dictates, but who I am is not my personal economy. I have other things to talk about, like books and writing and dogs and...

Look! A bluejay!

Friday, March 06, 2009

At the bird feeder

Some new arrivals:

Red-winged blackbird

Mourning dove pair

An old friend:

House sparrow

And a good scrubbing:

Flea market list

Okay, it's time to hit the thrift store and flea markets. I have some very specific needs and they can't be met by merely typing my wishes into Google.

I want a manual drip coffee pot. Metal. Nothing that can break, nothing to plug in. Simple. I have battled coffeemakers for thirty years and they are undependable. One stupid thing goes wrong and you're buying a new one. I want a coffee pot to grow old with (okay, older).

And a cake plate -- a small one that fits into the fridge. So it's not out on the counter with a cake on it when I forget to set the aussie mousetraps. So Toppergetdown doesn't try to eat a two-layer white cake with strawberry filling and whipped cream icing. And succeed. And thereby break my depression glass cakeplate.

I'm watching some stuff on e-bay. But since I'm going to actually use this stuff, I'd really like to check it out first hand.

Oh...and I need a muzzle. And someone to slap that self-satisfied grin off Toppergetdown's face.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

R.I.P. Fluffy

199? - 2009

Poor ol' Fluffernutter; the Fluffenator; the Fluffmeister.

Beloved mother of Whiskers; antagonistic half-sister of Phoebe (we think).

Mother of minions (before we could catch her and get her fixed).

Provider of Gifts of Baby Snakes.

Mighty Mouser of the House of Squalor.

Fearless hunter of the House That Will No Longer Be Named.

Phenomenal napper of Where We Are Now.

Whisker's personal pillow.