Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Well, it's not the General Lee...

Once upon a time I heard a Car Talk episode where the guys were talking with a woman who was referring to her car by name. Not GTO or Camry; more like Maryanne or something of that nature.  Tom and Ray then went into a discussion about how only women name their cars, at which I took umbrage.

Really?  You got annoyed with Click and Clack?  You need to lighten up.

It was because their theory was flawed.  I had direct evidence of this, in the fact that my dad named several of his cars since I've been alive.  At that time, oh, 15 years ago, I thought about emailing them about how they were way off base, but never got around to it.  So here's my semi-public refutation of their proclamation and alternate hypothesis:  Only people with imagination name their cars.

My dad had a parade of named cars, starting with a 1964 Mercury Comet convertible, which my father called Big Daddy.  I think he thought that was funny, since it was considered a small car for the vintage.  It had been his first car, and sat in our garage in various states of functionality for my entire life.  It would probably run today, if my brother could find some lead additive for the gas tank.

Later, there was a 1982-ish Ford Mustang convertible, which he called Junior, for reasons I found obvious.  It was the car in which he drove me to my wedding.  Big Daddy was my first choice, but he was not up for the 40 mile journey from the house to the church where I got married.

When I was in high school, Dad bought a 1985-ish Ford Mustang which he called The Howlin' Wolf, because it was so noisy.  It was his own personal car not to share, because at the time no one else in the house knew how to drive manual transmission.  We also had a 1986 Ford Mustang which I named Lazarus because it died and was resurrected so many times.   That car took several beatings, and just kept running.  Once my brother ran it into the garage door when he was about 14 while trying to move it so he could play basketball in the driveway.  I took it to college my junior year, where I learned to keep a screw driver beside my seat so I could jam it in the butterfly on the carburetor when it slammed shut, preventing the car from starting for lack of oxygen.  The paint color was the light-blue metallic fleck that Ford eventually recalled because the paint just fell off after about 5 years.  Unfortunately, we were not the original owners, so they wouldn't honor the recall on Lazarus.  I had a friend who told me it looked like I had re-entered Earth's atmosphere without my heat shields.  A car that gets that much attention definitely needs a name.  My dad and the aforementioned brother finally set it on fire one day, which was the end of the line for Lazarus with our family.  It was replaced by another Mustang, which was never as cool as Lazarus. It didn't last long enough to earn a name, I think.

After I got married, I bought my first new car: a 1994 Mercury Tracer, which I named Lolita after about a year.  My reasoning was that she'd seen way too many miles for someone as young as she, and the name seemed apt.  After a while, when she wasn't so young anymore I called her Lola. Then I could sing that Kinks song when I started her up in the mornings.

Dad's tendency to name cars doesn't seem to have been picked up on as readily by my brothers as it has been by my sister and myself.  She names all her cars; so far I think they've all been males.  Including the one she called The Meatloaf, no reference to the dashboard light intended.

Upon further consideration, I amend my hypothesis to the following:
Only people who are awesome name their cars.  Me. My dad. My sister.  All awesome.
I rest my case.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No, you can't borrow the car.

Hannah made her own breakfast today.  She didn't initially say anything, and if I hadn't been lying on the couch, mostly immobilized by my annual neck freeze-up, I might not have even known about it until I heard a crash.

Don't worry, Mom, there was no actual crash.

I did hear her moving her little step-stool around in the kitchen, and asked what she was up to.  She came out, carrying it, saying she wanted to make her own breakfast, but couldn't reach the cereal which is stored on top of the refrigerator.  Being the helpful mother that I am, I suggested a kitchen chair, because
a.) She said she wanted to do it herself
b.) Didn't I mention the neck problem? It's painful to move.
c.) I happened to know there were only about 12 ounces of milk left in the carton, so any mess would be reasonable for her to clean up herself.

So. Ten minutes later, with breakfast managed on her own, she sat at the kitchen table singing a little song and eating her pink Frosted Mini Wheats.  Leave me alone: there are no marshmallows, and it's ostensibly healthy, according to the advertisements. You can always trust them, right?

Like all children, my daughter is growing up. She's always been pretty independent with entertaining herself and such, and she eschews snuggling in general unless she's extremely tired, but I've always been able to validate my role in her life in the area of food preparation.

Let me recap my week:
Monday: First day of first grade, by the end of the day, Hannah has her first loose tooth.
Wednesday: Hannah wants to sit on the couch and read her practice books from school all by herself, so please just leave her alone.
Saturday: Independent breakfast preparation and scolding for believed omission of promised library trip, both provided by Hannah.

Take it easy, kid, it's 9:30. And did you happen to make my coffee while you were in there?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Punch it, Marge.

I'm turning into an old lady.
      No. This is not a reference to my impending birthday of the two-score-and-seven-minutes-ago variety.
But I seem to have imposed a 10-mile radius on myself in terms of how far I'm willing to go for just about anything.

I get emails from those deal-a-day things that offer you big discounts for stuff you probably wouldn't have bought in the first place, but, what the heck, it's 60% off at a restaurant I've never been to and might, in fact, suck. I open most of them, but if I see the words "Tampa" or "St. Petersburg" I immediately trash it with the epithet:
"Like I'm going to drive to Tampa for a pedicure/nose job/barrel of olives.  I can get that down the street."

It's as though Tampa were on the actual hinges of Hell.  I have said aloud to someone recently: "I don't go to Tampa for anything but the airport.  Or Crate and Barrel."
So you can see where my priorities lie. Browsing overpriced kitchenware: yes. Spa services: no.

I feel the same way about Miami. What's the big?  We have beaches here.  With tourists. And little shops with overpriced scholck.  And restaurants that empty out right onto the sand.  Why would I drive 5 hours for more of what I have right here.  And, incidentally, don't go to unless I have family visiting.  Did I mention the tourists?  You can't get a parking place.

But regarding my 10-mile radius, I think I may be channeling the previous owner of my car.  I bought this 10-year-old station wagon 2 years ago after I wrecked my initial car of the same model. It had less than half the miles of my car, which was 2 years younger; clearly owned by an old lady who kept it in her garage except when she went to the hair dresser's 2 blocks away.  I assume it was an old lady because it still smells like potpourri.  Plus, it's a station wagon.  I've named it.  I'm not sorry.

I would like to get rid of that weird coconut scent, though.

Monday, August 22, 2011

On your marks...

Today was the first day of school for our county.  All over town, small people at various stages of munchkinhood sat at their breakfast tables, an hour before time to leave, already wearing their backpacks and new sneakers.  I assume this, because it was true at my house. Getting my daughter out of bed in the morning is usually like a scene from an old Frankenstein movie: I stand plaintively at the side of the bed willing my child to "Rise, rise!" while she groans and rolls over, sometimes taking a swipe at someone on the way.  I only wish that was an exaggeration. 

This morning, however, she was dressed and ready to go before I even knew what was happening.

We walked to school and she marched into her classroom, where she settled in like she's been doing this for years.  She's in the first grade.  She handed over her classroom supplies, asked her teacher where to put her lunchbox, and sat down at her assigned desk to start work on the coloring project that was waiting there for her.  Complete with a BRAND NEW box of crayons.  What a treat.  But why, then, did I have to buy a box?  Just asking.

I stood outside her classroom and watched her for a few minutes, but she was clearly absorbed in the task, and didn't require any additional reassurance from me, so I headed home. Just last year she wanted a series of 14 "one more kiss"es, which I usually love, but got a little worried about it after the first 6. So I was a little disappointed for myself, but so pleased that she settled right in.

Hannah's teacher reminds me of my own first grade teacher, Mrs. Hess, who was, I'm pretty sure, an angel. I have no recollection whatsoever of my kindergarten teacher, but Mrs. Hess lives in my memory as a shining example of how to not be a scary human being, but still command respect and obedience.  Plus, we could earn real peacock feathers for completing reading assignments.  Those were way cool.

I hope there are feathers in Hannah's future.

She makes this face a lot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Greetings and Eructations

For some reason Hannah is obsessed with belching.  We were sitting at breakfast the last week when she remarked "I never had that burp before."
As though she's cataloguing them somewhere.
Me: What burp?
Hannah: With my mouth closed.
Me: Those are preferable, because they're more discrete.
Hannah: blank look.

Two days later, while she was in bath, I was blowing bubbles for her.  She found that when she coughed at one, it popped.  This set off a round of experimentation regarding how else she might pop bubbles other than by poking them. She finally got around to burping.
Hannah: I'll try a  burp.  I can always burp.
Me: Well that's important.
Hannah: Lengthy demonstration of 15 successive forced belches.

Interestingly, this was ineffective in popping bubbles. Hannah was disappointed, but she continued burping for its own sake.  Pretty soon she's going to be burp-talking. That will be a proud moment for us all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's Duck Season

Whew, was Saturday ever a bad day.  Super crazy-town.  I mean, typically sane clients acting squirrelly.  It's a word: I said it, therefore it is a word. Do NOT refer to this post. I mean it. 

Anyway. Talking with a co-worker Monday morning I discovered that everyone's clients were squirrelly last week.  Everyone including me and Chery.  That's a representative sample, I think.  So we decided to declare this week to be the opposite of Squirrel Week, in the hope that magical thinking could work out in our favor for once. It took a moment, but we settled on Ducks.

There is a retention pond in my neighborhood which is a very fecund breeding ground for Muscovy ducks.  So there are usually several wandering around the neighborhood at any given rush-hour to remind the rest of us that we should settle down.  This morning there was a row of 3 of them ranged across the road,  just checking out the scenery. One was sitting in the middle of my lane. Another was waddling slowly back and forth across the other lane, while a third just stood half-way to the curb looking on.  So I stopped and waited for someone to move.  Those guys were not in any particular hurry. I especially liked the one just sitting down in the middle of the road. It was a long walk from the pond, he needed a break. He just stared at me. Number 2 eventually picked a lane, and I drove around the bunch of them.

So in the course of my discussion with my co-worker, we determined that for this week, we would advise clients to sit down and rest when they're tired, maybe take a little float on the pond. And if all else fails, eat a bug.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Welcome to Friday.

It's 6:04. The kitchen has been cleaned to a maniacal standard. The laundry is done. The floors have been swept and vacuumed. The bathroom cleaning has been intentionally scheduled for Sunday (I like to start my week with a really clean shower).  Miles Davis is playing. And here I sit, sipping Vodka-Elderflower-Tonic while my husband makes pizza.  I love his pizza. He does a convincing Chicago-Style, which generally causes me to swoon. He also makes a really good Friday night thin-crust.  His concentration is impressive. He makes his own dough. He bought a pizza peel about a year ago, and has been experimenting with hot-surface-cool-dough to get a nice, crisp underside of the crust. The process takes over an hour, but it's worth the wait.

You know, it could taste like a hockey puck, and I'd still enjoy the show. Right now, he's guiding Hannah in seasoning the sauce and arranging the toppings.
Dave: Put it on the pizza, not in your mouth.
Hannah: eating shredded mozzarella
Dave: Did you hear me?
Hannah: Oh. Yeah. OK. Where's the pepperoni?

I love cooking, and I enjoy the preparation of a meal as much as the eating. Probably because I eat so much along the way. Dave really only feels this way about pizza. It's a mission. It's a meditation. It's serious business.

It's Friday night. Life is good.