my thoughts are with Japan. peace for you and for this world we all live in. — wm
ok did you watch that? did you traumatize your children with it? it is scary!!! here is what is even scarier: being a teenager, living at home (really scary!), then your sister’s boyfriend says, Was it that scary music box music? when you mention you slept in the basement and had nightmares all night.
me: How did you know?
he just shook his head.
seriously. I never mentioned to anyone that i nightmared about music box music. know why? because it was always this vague, slippery horror, and as soon as I woke up, it just slid away and i would be thinking, What the hell was that? But he used to stay at our house all the time, and I always wondered why he stopped crashing in the basement and insisted on sleeping on the living room floor. It was that music.
too many nightmares.
On review for today:
Speaking of blood, I’m on page 483 out of 756 pages of “Breaking Dawn” (by Stephenie Meyer, 2008, Megan Tingley Books, Little, Brown and Company, $22.99). I am facing the wrath of my 10-year-old writing this but I have to say it: This book sucks. I mean, sucks. (Edited at 4 p.m. to say — just finished the book. Am standing by this review. wm.)
The vampires, the werewolves, the sex, the drinking of blood… it outdoes “Rosemary’s Baby” and I’m not meaning that as a compliment. I frickin’ love “Rosemary’s Baby,” both the Ira Levin novel and the film version and no, I do not care to discuss Roman Polanski. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer are just brilliant in it, and I’ve seen it, I dunno. Twenty times?
“Breaking Dawn” does not give me the satisfaction of, say, Rosemary spitting in Guy’s eye when she realizes she’s been set up. I don’t know what else to say about this book, but it is not the book to read, or attempt to read, when you’re recovering from surgery. Or any other time. Who said this about “Twilight,” Neisha? That her favorite part of the book was the blank pages? No. When asked what her ten least-favorite books were, Neisha said, and I’m quoting here, “Can I just say ‘Twilight’ ten times?” Ha. Ha. Ha. I think it was Susan who said that about the blank pages. Anyway. You were so right.
OK. Enough about blood. Next topic: Wine! I am no wine snob, but I do like my pinot grigio (or gris, or what have you) and I like the fizzy stuff, prosecco — prosecco a la Brian Boitano (see? I told you I am low-brow here) with the grapefruit juice and the sugar cube. Well. This book, “Drink This: Wine Made Simple” (by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, 2009, Ballantine Books, 348 pages, $26) did not make me feel like an idiot for not knowing my wines. Also, she devotes a brief page or two to pinot grigio, which apparently is the Slut of White Wines (my words, not hers) and she also mentions the Ponzis and I love the Ponzis. They are such a nice family, those Ponzis, and they’re local.
She discusses all that you need to know about wine:
1. Type of grapes.
2. Where the grapes were grown.
3. How the grapes were turned into wine.
Also she discusses decanters, glasses, yadda yadda. I liked this book — it would make a good gift or purchase for your own self.
“The Edible Woman,” Margaret Atwood’s first book (1969) is just fantastic and you should just go buy a copy and read it right now. (Why does it fit so nicely into this round-up? You figure it out, I cannot.) You should especially read it immediately if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have read something like, say, “Breaking Dawn” or any of the other “Twilight” books. You need to get that taste out of your mouth and head. Wacky Cousin is right — it’s like you just ate a big bag of Cheetos and feel sick to your stomach once you’ve read Meyer.
The End. You vampire fans can just start throwing stuff at your screen now, I don’t even care. (More randomness: I actually liked the 2nd “Twilight” movie, we just saw it a couple weeks ago. Hmm.)
PS — I just heard that one of the best editors/writers/reporters I’ve ever known, Mr. J, is moving on to some new projects. Good for him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. In his honor, and because this post, in particular, fucking really needed an editor, I will leave you with a quote:
“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” — Arthur Plotnik, editor and author (b. 1937)
Peace to you, dear girl, and peace to our city.
I always know what you’re thinking, Internets. Right now you’re thinking, where is that sad little Wacky Mommy with her heartbreak story of the day?
I was going to skip the Heartbreak of the Day. I’m trying to clean my house, study, drive kids hither and yon. Emptying out boxes, filling up boxes, finding space for Grandma’s things in my too-crowded home. (I inherited her cookbooks, a few knick-knacks, yarn, photos. Quilts that I’ll share with my cousin. Old Christmas cards.) Packing away the winter clothes and breaking out the summer clothes. Found a slip of paper tucked inside of her old tattered hymnal. A page-a-day calendar from April 16, 1998:
Bird Migration ETAs
The third week in April marks the estimated time of arrival in New England of the green heron. In the fourth week, look for the barn swallow, brown thrasher, black-and-white warbler, myrtle warbler, towhee and white-throated sparrow.
I’m ready to toss it into the recycling bin when I think to flip it over. I am my grandmother’s granddaughter — the same handwriting, the same snarky temper, the same need to scribble compulsively. On the back is written, sideways, her name and my grandpa’s name, over and over:
April 16, 1998 — five and a half months after he died. They celebrated their fifty-seventh wedding anniversary on June 28, 1997. She was hoping they’d make it to sixty. He was exhausted from kidney failure, furious because he couldn’t ranch anymore, insane because my uncles took away his guns. (Because, you know. He kept threatening to shoot himself.)
I looked for a book to tuck the note into — found an old cookbook close by — “Favorite Recipes of Valiant Chapter,” circa 1959-1960. Readers? Any ideas on what a Valiant Chapter is, exactly? (This one is Chapter #168, O.E.S., Portland, Ore.) The “Worthy Matron” that year was Martha H. Taylor; the “Worthy Patron’” was G.C. “Jerry” Taylor. Recipes included: Spanish Bun Cake, Fruit Cocktail Cake and (my new favorite) Good Prune Cake. We also have Meaty Scalloped Potatoes, Salmon Loaf and Creamed Chicken.
I. Love. Old. Recipes. Even if I can’t get my family to eat them.
Took Steve out for lunch — Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao, iced Thai coffee, such sophisticated tastes. No Holiday Wreath Tuna Shortcake in sight — and showed him the note.
“That’s what I’m writing down, if you’re the first to go — Nancy, Steve, Nancy, Steve, Steve, Nancy.”
He adds, “TLF.”
Yes, TLF. It’s one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen, that love note. And it sums up, on one little tiny sheet of paper, the agonizing pain of going through someone’s personal belongings. I told my auntie, it’s junk, junk, junk, Grandma’s high school diploma, junk.
I cannot give a sigh that is huge enough to express the SIGH I’m feeling. HUGE SIGH.
Off to pick up kids — be right back.
Also found a recipe written in my Dear Granny’s writing, tucked into the Valiant Chapter Cookbook. No-name cake, so let’s call it…
LEMON BUNDT CAKE WITH ORANGE GLAZE AND HEARTBREAK
Here’s exactly how it’s written:
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pk lemon pudd (pudding) (Quote from my Dear Granny: “It is good because there is pudding in the mix.”)
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
Beat for 5 min
Tube pan greased
Turn on rock (rack, make that)
Prick with foot (fork!)
1 can thomed orgina pins (Steve: “That says ’1 can thawed orange juice.’” How can he decipher her hand writing even when I can’t?)
2 3 paw sugar (cool toger) (Okey-doke. Let’s interpret that as 3 cups powdered sugar; cook together)
me: “3 cups powdered sugar and a whole can of orange juice concentrate? Sweeeeeeeeeeet.”
Steve, going all insane: “Cooked together! You have to cook it together, the glaze!” (He gets a little goofy when we’re on the subject of our Dear Granny. I mean, goofy. You have to get it exactly right, the quote, the recipe, the scanned-in photo, the story, or he flips out.)
me: “I’m cutting that in half. Half a can of oj, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.”
Steve: “You won’t have enough glaze. You have to have enough glaze.” (realizes what he’s saying.) “Can you please stop baking all the time?”
me: “Turn on rock! 1 can thomed orgina pins! No.”
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
from the Wikipedia page:
“Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream (implicit in the poem’s subtitle A Vision in a Dream) but that the composition was interrupted by a person from Porlock. Some have speculated that the vivid imagery of the poem stems from a waking hallucination, most likely opium-induced. Additionally a quotation from William Bartram is believed to have been a source of the poem. There is widespread speculation on the poem’s meaning, some suggesting the author is merely portraying his vision while others insist on a theme or purpose. Others believe it is a poem stressing the beauty of creation, and some read sexual allusions throughout.
Inspiration for this poem also comes from Marco Polo’s description of Shangdu and Kublai Khan from his book Il Milione, which was included in Samuel Purchas’ Pilgrimage, Vol. XI, 231.”
I had a nightmare last night that my Grandma was in Purgatory. She was sitting in a chair, alone, dressed nicely, her make-up on. We talked for a second, but she was distracted. Wouldn’t make eye contact. It’s not what I imagined Purgatory to look like — it was more like a train station. Cold. Sterile. She seemed steady, but a little nervous. Ready to be on her way. I woke up scared and ice cold. This has been harder than I thought it would be. I’m doing what I always do when I lose someone — I’m pretending she’s still here.
The neighbor’s big tree came partially down this weekend — dropped a branch in their driveway, and another branch (and most of the tree’s canopy) in our side yard. It filled up our side yard, with all the foliage. Couldn’t get to front gate or through yard because of it.
We had the strangest storm — it came on fast and dark, tons of rain and hail. All of the pink blossoms from the cherry and plum trees, swirling around like snow. Then it got darker and trees and limbs started falling. Thank God the kids weren’t outside when it happened — we had just been outside a little earlier. Also thank God it didn’t crash through the windows, smash through the roof, do more damage to the fence than it did. (Only a few boards damaged.) I heard a huge riiiiiiiiiiip, creeeeeeeeak, and then crash. It was too scary. I think it was my grandma, raging.
Saturday Book Review: The Essential Breastfeeding Log; Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants; Baby Nose to Baby Toes
Book review on the fly:
I’m thinking, I remember nursing. It’s been a few years, but not so long that it’s slipped from my memory entirely. When exactly would you have time to update your “Essential Breastfeeding Log” (Sarah Bowen Shea & Suzanne Schlosberg, Ballentine, $15, 217 pages)?
Then I remembered more details. They swam into view, from a murky fog left over from those early maternal days. I had to keep a notebook, post-partum (with feedings, diapers, doc appointments, PAIN KILLER LOG following both c-sections, etc.). This is a handy little book, ladies. Thank you.
I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment but it so is not.
And… Shea and Schlosberg are from my neck of the woods! Shea is a Portland, Ore. writer and Schlosberg lives in Bend, Oregon. Hiii! (That’s me waving from North Portland.) (Not North Bend. That’s a different place entirely.)
“Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants” is a sweet little board book written by J.D. Lester, with illustrations by Hiroe Nakata (Random House, $8, unpaged). Well, it’s better than being called a monkey’s uncle, I suppose.
Monkey, peacock, horsey and ladybug babies play and cavort with their mommies. Your littles will love it.
Vicky Ceelen’s photos in “Baby Nose to Baby Toes” (Random House, $7, unpaged) are just arresting. Vivid, good movement, and you’re right — the top of that baby’s head really does look like the top of the fuzzy duckling’s head! Cute. How can you go wrong with puppies and babies, you just cannot.
But these pictures are a step above your typical board book pics of beach pails and smiley babies. Nice work — I’d love to see more of her stuff. Wait, here it is now!
I like baby books, because they help make it so you (mostly) can’t remember all that goo. You just remember the goo-goo. “Baby’s First Year,” (Lydia Ricci, Random House, $19.95) a “milestone journal” that comes with its own nursery banner and stickers, is a lovely book. Compact, but not too compact. Precious, but not so precious that you’ll feel too intimidated to scribble in it. The pastel colors and backgrounds are unisex, and the book is accordion-pleated with space for photos, cards or whatever else you’d like to tuck in.
Now, on to something completely unlike all those pastels: “Coraline.” (Written by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Dave McKean.)
“Lunchtime, Coraline,” said the woman.
“Who are you?” asked Coraline.
“I’m your other mother,” said the woman. “Go and tell your other father that lunch is ready.”
That’s when my chills started. And the rats hadn’t even shown up yet to sing. The kids and I are looking forward to the movie coming out.
“Write Before Your Eyes” (by Lisa Williams Kline, Delacorte Press/Random House, $15.99) just came out. I knew I would love it the minute I read the opening quote, from “Half Magic,” by Edward Eager:
“If you have ever had magic powers descend on you suddenly out of the blue… You have to know just how much magic you have, and what the rules are for using it.”
Ain’t it the truth, Ruth.
Gracie Rawley picks up an old journal for a quarter at a yard sale. It has old, crackly pages, that are water-stained, with thin lines.
“Not that one! She mustn’t take that one!” a tiny old woman calls, as the woman’s son sells Gracie the journal anyway. Then what she writes in the book begins to come true — a kiss, a date, a Cheshire Cat… How is she going to deal with this one? Great for middle-school students.
Reviewed this evening: