In the long run, Caroline and Patrick will be very good for each other. On a daily basis, however, they...

what. What is it? I guess I could say they challenge each other, although that sounds a bit too euphemistic for my taste; like saying Edward is "tired" when I mean "obnoxious".

Patrick is a nature made ringmaster. A Pied Piper. A creator of games, teller of stories, revealer of mysteries; the phantasmagorical Narrator. 

Caroline is... I don't know. Caroline is the warrior witch queen. The original pioneer; a born explorer. Where some toddlers see a shut window leading onto a roof, she saw untapped opportunity. This morning she took my face in her hands and said, "I really really want to learn Greek. Any dialect. I know they have a different alphabet. So... whaddya say?" And then she released my face and lightly punched my shoulder.

I told her that she could use my Rosetta French (author's note: Rosetta Stone is fun, I think, and slightly more useful than the programs that let you play old Atari games on your Mac but in terms of actually learning a language? nah. there are cheaper ways to familiarize yourself with how a language sounds) and if she actually committed herself to studying every day for a couple of weeks I would consider researching how she might learn some rudimentary Greek.

Anyway, when the two of them get together (i.e. every day) there is usually a lot of jockeying for position and it is draining on those around them.

So today was a lovely exception.






 PS I have no idea why she is wearing swim goggles on her head.

Year Of The Horse (Plus One)

I am pretty sure I am the only person - in a roadhouse - on the Mississippi River - in Wisconsin - who cried actual tears when England lost to Japan in the last breath of the last moment of the game.

We were on our way to the ffarm ("Pooh to you!" said Wilfred. "And, if you want to know what I think, you poor ffish, I believe your name is spelled with a capital F, like anyone else's!" - Wodehouse, A Slice of Life) and I am going to tell the rest of this story from end to start.

"As it so happens, Edward," I said, "YOU were born backwards."

"Butt first!" Patrick clarified, as if he had been there.

"Oh," said Edward. "Well."

He thought about it.

"You know what to say about kids who are born backwards?"

"What?" I asked.

"They have unlucky parents."


[Ha! I would have said unlucky mothers but... zing!]


This subject arose because a few miles away from the farm there is a family that rescues horses (and donkeys. and ponies. and possibly cows) and this evening as we drove past (slowly, because their property straddles the road) I said, "Oh look! A new foal and its mother."

And as we turned to admire the baby horse; I added, "And, oh my! Look! The other horse!"

We goggled for a moment before Steve said, "She's giving birth."

Then he added, "Right now."

So he pulled over onto the verge and then got out to jog up to the barn to make sure our neighbors knew that they had a horse in the last stages of foaling. I unrolled the windows and told the children to be very quiet and

Warning: life is a little messy. Ok?












We left as the foal was just starting to get her front legs sorted and it was all so... amazing I wanted to share it with you.


I am very glad that the US scored that second goal against Germany; as it erased the asterisk of the yellow-that-should-have-been-red before Germany's missed penalty kick and the call-that-should-not-have-been before America's successful penalty kick. Luck clearly favored the States a few times but in the end it didn't matter.

Steve watched it with me and we talked a bit about men's and women's matches.

Eventually I said, "There! That right there! That is the biggest difference between men and women in soccer."

Steve said, "What is?"

"What the commentator just said at the end there."

"Which was?"

"He said, 'And, with the final whistle, America goes on to the World Cup final.'"


PS I just had a fortunately/unfortunately moment.

I was sitting on the couch and it suddenly occurred to me that I really, really would like to eat a Good Humor Toasted Almond bar; like Bilbo and the ring, you know, just... one more time. But then I realized that they don't have Good Humor trucks anymore. But then I googled it and they still make them and sell them in stores! But not in stores within 500 miles of me.

So now I am sad.

In A Manner Of Speaking

As Patrick walked by this afternoon I went all Zac Posen and noticed that something seemed to be slightly off with his tailoring.

But... what?

Were his chevrons misaligned? Was it the ruching? Perhaps the draping around the hips... ?

Oh! There it is.


His Target sweatpants are at least ten inches too short for him. Subtle, I know, but I have an eye for details. Which is to say, I have no eye whatsoever and either he grew a meter overnight like tomacco or he's been a walking Huck Finn impersonator for weeks without my noticing.

Either way, it explains why his rather modest wardrobe is constantly spilling out from drawers that he cannot close... they must be full of ladybug onesies and footie pajamas... and I suggested he figure out what no longer fits him to put aside for Edward to inherit. Then, since the look on his face did not convey an eager willingness to tackle this exciting project, I helped him get started by flinging every article of clothing out of his dresser and onto his bedroom floor.

Five minutes later I heard Patrick recruit Edward to come assist him and ten minutes after that I heard Edward giggling. This boded well for fraternity but less well for any hope that the two of them might actually just do what I had asked.

Eventually Edward came to fetch me.

"So?" I asked as I followed him up the stairs. "Did you guys sort Patrick's clothes?"

"We organized them," Edward answered, ambiguously.


Sooner Or Later

It was inevitable that I would at some point turn to Steve moments before midnight and say, "Oh jesusmaryandjoseph, bless me, I forgot to write something."

Keep Talking

Ten minutes away from me there is a restaurant slash golf club house buried in the center of a rather swanky housing development where I met my football friends (there are three of us now - soon we will be legion) to watch the world cup. This is not our usual place but for reasons of proximity and expediency we thought it was the best choice and I have to admit that all of the golfers chatting about that bogey they almost got on the eighth provided a piquant backdrop. It was like two Wodehouse short stories (one of his brrrrrrillliant early school tales involving footer and a later golf one - "'Is your name Cootaboot?' asked Mrs Smethurst, faintly") merged into one. There was even a gentleman wearing a pair of lime green plaid shorts that were so lurid in their color scheme that I could only conclude they must have magical properties.

Where was I?

Oh right. Watching world cup at a golf club. Well, eventually, watching world cup because there was a little confusion at first: we wanted to watch what? Wasn't that last summer? Oh WOMEN, right. And it is on TV? On American TV? Right now? On a channel? REALLY! Well live and... .

But once that was sorted it was fine. Even with - forgive me for sounding sexist - the men at the bar who presumably have never watched a soccer game in their lives but who still felt compelled to provide a running commentary:

"So, two sixty minute halves, right?"

"Um, forty-five and forty-five."

"Right, right. And then the shoot out!"

"If it is a tie, yes, but first they have two more fifteen minute periods."

"Yes! Then the shoot out!"


"Those are great. Like hockey."



"Nice kick! America is looking strong!"

Not really. Which brings me to my actual point tonight: the US will need to find a way to create scoring opportunities or they will lose to Germany. China had no offense against the US but Germany will attack the goal and if America cannot respond they will go home.

Also, France outplayed Germany and in a fair and perfect universe they would have won. However. They didn't. A good game and hard to watch overtime when both teams were obviously so tired.

I am looking forward to the games tomorrow. Canada v England is a little bit like the Ireland v Scotland Euro match for me... I would support either of them wholeheartedly but, you know, Thunderdome.

So. O! Canada.

[The day after we got back from Montreal Patrick asked, "So did you bring us anything? I mean, besides that Canadian accent?"

It's true. My goal is to one day assimilate to the point that French-Canadians don't instantly switch to English the moment I answer them in French; and for English speaking Canadians to embrace me as one of their own  - not just because I aspire to a peaceful, generous... may I say Canadian... spirit - but in light of the slow, broad tread of my vowels.]

PS Patrick's birthday was brought to him courtesy of the internet; every single idea came from you. Many thanks to Kathy who suggested an Escape Room party and even went to the trouble of making sure we had them in the Cities before she posted. I had never heard of such a thing but as soon as I googled it I realized it would be perfect for Patrick and his friends - he agreed and took a rain check for the beginning of September when everyone will be around again. And a hearty thank you to Pat who linked me to makey makey, which... you can use bananas as a keyboard... and Madeleine for The Signal and The Noise book recommendation and Alice whose MIT gift shop suggestion lead me to an Edible Chemistry kit. 

As for the tshirts... it was like a rabbit hole. I seriously don't think I have spent so much time shopping for anything in my life. So many good choices. My personal favorite was from Woot - Count to Pi but this one



Mrs. Mulliner

I was sick and Caroline talked me into a fish. We all remember that. But did I tell you the rest? No?

Well, first we brought home Skye, the betta, who is undeniably pretty.


And quite spunky. See the way his little jaw sticks out in that belligerent, eat-your-face-off kind of way? Yes. Well. We brought him home and put him in the small tank we had leftover from a carnival goldfish and turned on the filter and discovered our first fact about bettas: their beautiful fins make them highly susceptible to currents. Within seconds Skye went from cruising around his new home to being flattened against the intake grill.

I swear he looked quite startled.

I turned off the filter and considered leaving it like that until I contemplated how often the tank would need to be cleaned. So I packed up the children and we went back to the pet store where I found a betta friendly tank. And then we had to get some gravel and a couple of plants and some hidey-hole rocks and a fuzzy green moss-like thing called a betta buddy. Oh, and a pagoda because Caroline asserted - and Patrick and Edward agreed - that the tank needed a little... zen pizzazz.

Five times the price of the fish later, Skye was established in his elegant, low-current abode and we settled into our new fishy normal.


(I really cannot get over how pretty I think he is)

Then Edward said, "Can I get a fish too?"

And my first thought was: are you kidding, of course not. But as I struggled to find an age-appropriate way to explain that the only reason we got Skye is because Caroline conned me into it, I realized it was hopeless.

Introducing Edward's fish, also a betta, Darvit Mor, which is a wordy nod to both Artemis Fowl and the dark banshee (plus the GĂ idhlig for big because he's big.)


Which brings us to the second fact we learned about bettas: they cannot share a tank or they will murder each other.

So a return trip to the pet store and now we have two tanks, two betta buddies, four hidey-hole rocks, four plants and two fish. Still only one pagoda, though, since Patrick talked Edward into whatever that weird black statue is in there.

It's like Sea World around here.

PS Skye is SO much more interesting than the other one.

Caroline called, "Mom! Mom! Come look at Skye!"

And when I came over she pointed and said, "See? See how he's trying to look all innocent?"

I agreed that he did.

Later I confided to Steve that, in comparison, I think Darvit Mor might be a little S-L-O-W and the look of incredulity he gave me stung.

"What?" I said. "You haven't noticed that Darvit Mor isn't exactly the sharpest fish in the tank? Tanks, I mean?"

Steve suggested that it was too soon for me to be assessing their respective intellectual capacity but clearly he's just not a fish person.

And I Am Right To Fear Them

Steve insists that the cats will stage a revolt if we switch their kitty litter, which just happens to be the cheap stuff that can only be purchased at Sam's Club in ginormous containers. I am skeptical. I think the sixteen linear feet of litter options at Target look just fine not to mention appropriately sized for non-Amazons  who need to get the product off the shelf and into their cart.

However the ramifications of what would occur if he is right and I am wrong are too hideous to contemplate so in response to an urgent text from Steve re. cats and their sanitary needs (he cleans the boxes; I obtain the litter - fair enough) Edward and I made the dutiful trek to Sams after OT; although it was a pain because the parking lot is massive and the store is massive and the carts are massive and the only thing I needed was kitty litter.

But, you know, dire possible consequences, so I parked and walked and got an unsteerable cart and walked and eventually wound up in front of pet supplies where I took a few deep breaths in preparation for hoisting the 42 pound bin up and over and into the cart, which then shook from the force of it.

Edward took a few cautious steps backward. Clearly he doubted my ability to control the giant green things I was swinging around like a square dancer and he was right to do so.

"One more," I said. "Careful."

And I uttered a ladylike wrestler grunt, grabbed the second bin and tossed it into the cart where it juttered to a stop next to the first one, taking my hand with it and smashing my finger between the two.

I howled. I grabbed my finger and bent double and hopped around and howled.

It's not broken but it is bruised like a motherf... like a peach and the fact that I knew those damned oversized cubes were going to get me one day just makes it all the more irritating.

It is my middle finger, naturally.