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Archive for March, 2009

Back when I was growing up, I remember there for a while my parents asking other adults whether they had a junk drawer. I think both asker and answerer always felt better to know that the other people were junky enough to have a whole drawer.
Flash forward, and American culture has coursened. We don’t have a junk drawer, we have “crap bowls.” We had one and it got filled with old batteries, glue sticks, valuable pieces of paper, a baby monitor, maps, key chains, keys that aren’t on chains and we don’t know what they open.
Then we got another crap bowl, and that got filled with paper objects, like surveys that we intend to fill out some day, and flyers for programs we’d like to attend, a torn piece of paper with a baby sitter’s phone number on it.
Then some other things piled up, in piles, on our kitchen counters and island, and wife got a plastic yellow bin to put all that crap in so she can go through it some day when she has time.
I predict it’ll be “some day” in 2025.
I was explaining all this to a friend, while he was over one night watching basketball and both of us were complaining about crap and neither doing anything about it.
He said he and his wife got tired of the crap piles on their kitchen island. They got a table, to trap all the stuff as it came into the house, to prevent it from crapping up their island.
Now they have junk piled onto a table by the front door and piled on their counters.
I blame it all on flat surfaces.
Maybe on every flat surface in the house, we could install pigeon spikes.img_Mar_31_2009_03_17

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Tomorrow is school picture day for Fontaine. First grade.img_Mar_25_2009_06_27
We discussed it tonight at dinner. We suggested that, after dinner, she go upstairs and pick out an outfit.
She informed she would be dressing as a caveman.
(I sensed she might have school-picture day confused with an amalgam of Halloween and a Geico commercial, but I let the string play out.)
“I’m going to wear a dirt skirt and a headband made of sand.”
Princess Elizabeth barely looked up from what she was doing, i.e., not eating dinner.
“When it’s my picture day,” Elizabeth said, “I’m going to dress pretty.”
Now, I’m not saying anything was meant by that. I’m not saying it’s always the beautiful ones who can incinerate a rival with a few well-chosen verbal smart bombs.
What I am saying is: Ouch.

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img_Mar_14_2009_45_23There for a little while the other night at dinner we were actually having a conversation as though we were a family of humans.
Elizabeth told us about her day at pre-school, then Fontaine explained that they had an assembly at school. A musician.
What kind of instrument did he play, or did he sing?
“To be honest,” she said, “I can’t really remember. He did Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I started falling asleep right away.”
Flashback: Six-plus years ago. First baby. Colic. Refused to be put to sleep, screams at us all the time, we hold her and sway with her and sing songs over and over and over again.
Songs like, “Just What Makes That Silly Old Ant” and “Rock-a-bye baby” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “You Are My Sunshine” and “Twinkle Twinkle.”
Funny, one of them finally worked. Six years too late.
That’s one slow, time-release lullaby.

The image is called “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” by Japanese artist Chiho Aoshima.

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I used to work at The Sentence Factory with a reporter who claimed you could conduct an entire interview img_Mar_06_2009_42_35using one phrase:
“Why is that?”
No matter what the subject said, the reporter could get a more detailed answer by just responding, “Why is that?”
Further answering…
And again, “Why is that?”
I found myself on the wrong side of this circular illogic the other morning. It seems at some point every kid goes through the phase in which you say something, and she just responds, “Why?”
It started like this: Rosebud, sit down and I’ll get you some breakfast.
“Why?”
Because, I need you to sit down, so you don’t fall off of that chair and get hurt.
“Why?”
Because you insist on standing on the chair for every meal and you’ve fallen off about fifty times and ended up crying like a wounded animal.
“Why?”
I guess because you’ve seen how your sisters react when something bad happens, so you think the proper way to respond to an accident is to scream as loudly as you can and disturb as many people as possible.
“Why?”
I don’t know, it just started with Fontaine and she had colic and screamed at us for four months and then she got rid of colic and continued to yell and then we had Elizabeth and we told Fontaine that if she didn’t tone it down, Elizabeth would get loud, but she didn’t and then you came along and picked it up from the two of them and now the house frequently sounds like I imagine the crowd would at a pro wrestling event.
“Why?”
Because, that’s why. Just because.
Now sit down.
Please.
I’ll give you a cereal bar.

“Why?”
Because you like them.

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img_Mar_03_2009_12_02See that snowman? He may look impressive, but he’s a Virginia snowman. Which means, he’s like six inches tall.
I came across him while walking into the Sentence Factory yesterday. Someone made him (I say “him,” but I don’t know. I didn’t check) and put him on top of the garbage can on the way in.
I took this pic with my cell phone. You can see there, one of his eyes fell off and rolled down in front.
Little mini-Frosty there is a symbol of winters in coastal Virginia. Minimalist.
The poor girls have no idea, having lived here all their lives. They see snow covering the trunk of a car, it’s the Blizzard of ’09.
They went out in the front yard yesterday morning and caught a few snowflakes on their tongues. Made a couple of snowballs and we threw them at each other.
Then Elizabeth proclaimed: “It’s freezing cold out here, I’m going inside.”
We followed.
With that, I’m willing to bet, winter here is just about over. Mini-Frosty there, he’ll be done by tomorrow.

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I forgot about how useful this word was: Infinity.img_Mar_02_2009_52_24
It was big when I was in, I think, middle school, but kids grow up so much more quickly these days and next thing you know, they’re sounding like Carl Sagan.
Fontaine just brought infinity home from school and taught it to Elizabeth. And as many times as we’ve told Fontaine not to pass along annoying stuff, because it’ll only come back to annoy her, you can’t really convey the true wisdom of such advice to a six-year-old.
So tonight at dinner, it was monsters (Fontaine) against princesses (Elizabeth).
Fontaine: I’m a monster and I eat princesses for dinner, especially tender ones like you, I eat them up.
Elizabeth: Well, I’m infinity princesses and we can eat you up.
Fontaine: Well, I’m just one monster, but I can eat infinity princesses.
Elizabeth: No, you can’t.
With that, I learned that “No, you can’t” trumps “infinity,” because that three-word response provided a finite conclusion to the whole thing.

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