Archive for March, 2011

Save the children

No. 7, “Why my children will be scarred for life,” tied for second place with No. 8, “The time I was sentenced to church,” in the Choose your own adventure race. Today I feel the need to address that topic. (Eventually, I’ll tell the church story also.)

So here goes:

Why my children will be scarred for life:

I stifle their creativity.
I will not let Dominic make sound effects in my car. I will not let Gideon draw on his bedroom walls with a Sharpie.

I limit their ability to make fashion choices.
I will not let Dominic wear a cape to school. I make Gideon wear his jacket when it is below 68 degrees outside.

I restrict their freedom of expression.
I will not let Dominic talk about poop at the dinner table. I will not let Gideon have a tantrum in the grocery store because I refuse to buy chocolate Easter bunnies.

I prohibit lifestyle choices.
I will not let Dominic subsist on bread alone. I will not let Gideon eat candy instead of a meal.

I repress their nurturing capabilities.
I will not let Dominic have a bat for a pet. I will not let Gideon and Mona the Dog swap spit.

Do you think I’m a terrible mother yet? Here’s more evidence:

  • I make them listen to the Ramones, the Monkees, Neil Diamond, Journey, Lady Gaga, the Pixies, Katy Perry, Marvin Gaye, Duran Duran, the B-52’s, Darius Rucker and Hanson — sometimes all in one day during the drive to school (view sample playlist).
  • I make them do manual labor: make their beds, clean up their toys, feed the dog, feed the cat, give water to the hermit crabs, carry in the groceries, carry their dirty dishes to the sink, help me make dinner, sweep the stairs, vacuum the living room, help Eddie with the yard work, etc.
  • I make them watch as many nature documentaries as episodes of “iCarly” and “Spongebob Squarepants.”
  • I make them eat kid-unfriendly vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, leeks, rutabagas, squash, broccoli, green beans, eggplant, beets, turnips, mushrooms, fennel, peppers, onions, spinach and celery. (Each of those has appeared on their plates some time over the past two months.)

So there you have it: one awful mother = two scarred children. Judge away.

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Well, I’m surprised. No. 4, “My latest food crushes,” won the “Choose your own adventure” race. No. 7, “Why my children will be scarred for life,” and No. 8, “The time I was sentenced to church,” tied for second.

As you wish.

I can still attack a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but I’ve moved on.

Warning: The following items are not very healthy, especially if you eat them in large, ridiculous quantities (not that I would do that, of course), but they are delicious!

  1. Dark chocolate with sea salt from L’Artigiano by way of Wright Square Café in Savannah. Expensive as hell, but totally worth it.
  2. Gianduja hazelnut chocolate paste from Leone by way of Eataly in New York. It’s like Nutella’s snooty, cultured older brother. I feel like carrying a tube around in my purse and squeezing it into my mouth at stoplights.
  3. Fage Greek yogurt with fruit. My favorite is the blueberry-acai. Sweet grandmother’s spatula!
  4. Kettle brand baked potato chips, salt and fresh ground pepper flavor. I can be full to the bloated point and still devour an entire bag.
  5. Annie Chun’s sesame seaweed snacks. I have my friend Sophia to thank for this addiction. It seems like something you shouldn’t eat — it looks like a piece of green, crumply paper — but it tastes so good!
  6. Basler Läckerli, a Swiss biscuit made with spices, honey, almonds. I’ve been to Switzerland twice, both times around Christmas, which is when these treats are popular. I found them in Bern. I would fly to Switzerland just for these things. Actually, I would even walk and swim to Switzerland for them. They are that good. 

So that’s it. All my latest nasty little snack secrets are out in the open. I feel so vulnerable. (And fat.)

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Choose your own adventure

Writer’s block. Dissertation stress. The lure of my pollinated backyard.

Whatever the reason, it is quite sad that I have had nothing to say here since the Rattlesnake Roundup. (Maybe that said it all.)

So you get to choose a topic:

  1. How to recognize and use rhetorical devices
  2. Common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them
  3. Pet peeves
  4. My latest food crushes
  5. My dissertation: What’s up with that?
  6. Newt Gingrich
  7. Why my children will be scarred for life
  8. The time I was sentenced to church
  9. Students, broken down by kind (an extension of this post)
  10. What I would do if I got Johnny Depp alone in a room

Your choice. Make a selection in the comments by Thursday, March 24, at midnight.

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After Trish and I went to the Redneck Games last July, I knew I had to mark my calendar for the Claxton Rattlesnake Roundup. This marvelous event, held the second weekend in March, began in 1968 in an effort to reduce the rattlesnake population in the city. Now I think they have to truck in the snakes to round them up.

Sadly, Trish had to beg out to host a basketball tournament with the Savannah Storm. My friend Royce agreed to make the trek with me.

We got there early (9 a.m.) for the “3-D archery tournament.” It seemed promising, but the two of us made up 66.6 percent of the audience. The other spectator was an archer’s significant other, and I swear she was wearing pajama jeans.

While looking for the snake handling demonstrations, we ran across the entrance to the “birds of prey” area, which also doubled as home base for the gun raffle …

… and taxidermy expo.

We meandered outside and found the namesake snakes.

They were angry.

Around the corner, we spotted our first (and only) snake handler of the day. She was showing off a yellow rat snake.

Of course, we had to join in.

This is also where we spotted our first mullet. And what a glorious mullet it was (made even better by the Spiderman face paint).

We went back to the car to gather the energy (found in the cooler in my trunk) to continue. It was a good thing we did. We needed sustenance for the things we would see:

A coonskin cap

A coonskin snake

A many-skinned truck

A fish in a truck

Some knobbly butts

Rattlesnake queen

Stuffed acid-washed jeans

Stuffed coiled-up snake

Cantilevered waist

Human hamster balls

Massive overalls

A country fair is never complete without fried alligator and spiral potatoes.

That’s it. That’s all we could take. Royce is trying to talk me into going to the Warrior Dash. Maybe …

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Dear Straight Brethren (or Closeted Brethren Pretending to be Straight) Who Oppose Gay Marriage:

I want to talk to you about something very important. I’d like to think that we’re all reasonable adults, and I hope you can open your mind to the points I am about to make.

We both know that it really isn’t our business whom gay people marry or if they marry at all.  Their desire and ability to marry have no effect on my marriage or yours any more than Charlie Sheen’s “marriages” have.

Before you bring up the so-called “sanctity of marriage,” let me remind you about Larry King, who is on his seventh wife. You don’t seem to care about him (or Tiger and his traveling tool), but you seem to be squawking loudly about the Defense of Marriage Act. Defense of Marriage? Really? We need a defense for an institution that is all about individual choice? People are going to choose it or not choose it, be happy or unhappy, make a mess of it or not make a mess, and no legislation can do anything about that.

So what we are talking about here is discrimination. Let me remind you that gay people pay taxes. They’ve essentially paid for legislation that discriminates against them. That sucks. We’re talking about human beings who have just as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we do. If they aren’t treated equally under the (tax-funded) law, maybe they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Uh oh.

Please don’t talk to me about the Bible. You can’t use the Bible for two reasons:

  1. If you are going to adhere to one passage, you have to adhere to the whole thing. Should we start stoning adulterers? Maybe we can start with Newt Gingrich. (You know the Bible also says divorce is wrong.) Don’t get me started on why literal interpretations of the Bible are a bad thing in general. Even the Vatican doesn’t advocate a literal interpretation, and you know how I feel about the pope.
  2. There’s this crazy thing we have here in America called “separation of church and state.” I know it isn’t very convenient sometimes, but there it is. So don’t allow gay people marry each other in your church if you think homosexuality is a sin. That’s fine. But civil unions should be available to give same-sex couples access to state-created rights. You know, the states they pay to operate through tax dollars.

The choices any people make in their personal lives do not affect me at all — unless, of course, they choose to attack me or my family physically, or rob us, or something like that. And that’s when the law should get involved.

You know what does affect me, affect us? Misuse of tax money. Cuts in education. Poor road maintenance. National dependence on oil. I could go on, but I won’t. You are reasonable. You get my point.

Can we please focus on legislation that truly affects how we live our lives?

Let’s be reasonable.

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I’m working on my dissertation today (!), but I wanted to take a moment to thank my correspondents for reporting back to me with photos of things they’ve spotted in the wild.

Charlotte noted this creative dish on a menu:

And Royce has been busy on my behalf. Yesterday, he found this lovely sign (first contributed by Austin) in an antique store:

Today, he found that the devil really is in the details:

Thank you, Charlotte and Royce. And SIGH.

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The following tweet and resulting class discussion prompted today’s post:

The discussion concerned the use of “dreamt.” Should he have used “dreamed” instead?

Both are correct, but “dreamed” is standard American, while “dreamt” is a British thing. So #Ross can use “dreamt” without raising an eyebrow, along with “regards,” “towards,” “spilt” and “learnt.” Americans drop that “s” in the former two and use the “ed” form in the latter two.

And that brings me to other “ed” issues.

  • The correct past tense of the verb “to plead” is “pleaded” (at least according to AP Style). Sorry “pled” lovers.
  • The preferred pronunciation of “striped” is “strEYEpt.” Fortunately for Claire, Merriam-Webster also allows “strEYE-ped.”
  • The most common pronunciation of “blessed” is “BLESS-ed,” but Merriam allows the one syllable variant as well. It depends on how you use it. One syllable for “I’ve been blessed with a generally even-keeled demeanor, even in the face of perceived classroom disrespect” and two for a use such as “I never get one blessed moment of peace at home.”

And by the way, I have never brought any Starburst candy for class — laced with drugs or not.

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