Mike Allegra, children’s author, blogger, artist, keeper of houses, teller of hilarious family stories, and all around good guy, recently held one of his ever-popular doodle contests—and I won!

And even though he is suffering a debilitating injury to his drawing hand, he sent me this:

jitteryThis is Jittery–my very own Caffeine Gnome!

Just look at him!  Those eyes, those slippers, that clear sense of involuntary vibration!

He’s a lot more cheerful than I usually imagine them, but my experiences are generally affected by caffeine withdrawal, which tends to elevate even the figments of my imagination to DefCon-2 Cranky and has them looking around for drums, bagpipes, and ice picks with which to express their displeasure, until I offer suitable apologies and double their rightful tribute in the form of Americanos, mochas, diet Pepsis, and or straight up chocolate-covered beans.

But Jittery is clearly one Gnome who has consumed perhaps a little more than his fair share and is planning to ride the coffee train until the inevitable crash.

I like that in a metaphor.  And I adore this drawing.

Thanks, Mike!


Silver Linings on a Slapstick Day

This morning has been one long slapstick routine.

First thing I did—well, third, but the less about that, the better—was go twenty rounds* with my e-mail system, which does not understand why I might want margins and line breaks in the writing samples I need to send out.  I finally registered with a format-friendlier new e-mail provider and went ten more rounds with it before realizing that if I sent the samples to someone using the same provider, I didn’t need to use any of my usual fixes.

It was about this time that I decided to nudge “caffeine” and “waking up” a tad higher on my daily To Do list.

But it all worked out just before I had to turf the kids out of bed.  My beloved offspring responded to my cheerful order to rise and shine—or at least rise, I’m not a total despot—by  leaping into action like slugs after a molasses binge.** I bribed them to breakfast with their choice of poison from a cereal multi-pack and told them, repeatedly, that I was leaving at quarter after.  Big hand on the 3.

Does everyone understand?  I am not waiting for you this morning.  Lucky charm

Yes, Mommy.

It’s my first day back after a week away and I have to be on time.  If you aren’t ready, I’m leaving without you.

Okay, Mommy.  Oooo, look—a marshmallow rainbow!

When we finally left the house, fed, brushed, and shod, the big hand was on the six and the big vein was pulsing on the forehead.

And it was raining.

But I was armed with extra coffee in a travel mug and an umbrella,  and both kids gave me big hugs at the entrance to their day camp—even Janie, who is starting to exhibit public sensitivity to parental cooties —before they ran one way and I ran the other.

I parked in the library lot only ten minutes behind my planned schedule, opened my umbrella with a smug flair, and walked with professional purpose across the street to the staff entrance . . . just as I remembered  my coffee.  I went back to my car, retrieved my travel mug and spent some time juggling it, my bag, my keys, and the umbrella, until I finally figured out how to work the lock without dropping anything.  Much.

As I was braving the cross traffic for the third time, a small gust of wind hit the umbrella, which promptly exploded into bare spines and flapping cloth, leaving me holding aloft what looked like the red and white foot of an enormous dead duck, but was far less useful for keeping off the sudden torrential downpour.***

I couldn’t just leave it there—there were witnesses, laughing as they drove by—so I carried it to the library and abandoned it in the small airlock space because there’s a security camera there and beating it to shreds against the floor wouldn’t look good to admin, which tries to maintain a sort of mutually beneficial DODT when it comes to staff sanity.

When I reached my work area, I found that my coworkers had considerately filled it with newspapers and books and magazines so that I wouldn’t feel as though I wasn’t needed.

I set my travel mug carefully next to a stack of newspapers so I could unbury my chair.

My phone rang, and without thinking, I picked up the receiver.^

Which pulled the cord.

Which was under the newspapers.

Next to my mug.


Luckily, from a preservationist’s view, the coffee missed the papers and the books.  And my shirt was wet from the rain, anyway.

There are worse things to smell like than vanilla hazelnut.  And brown goes with green, right?

Plus, I got a blog post out of it.

Silver linings, guys.  Silver linings.

So . . . How is your Monday Tuesday going?


*round (\rau̇nd\) : sending an email containing writing samples to one’s own e-mail account to make sure they will arrive with the intended formatting instead of extra line breaks, spaces, weird fonts/colors/sizes, graffiti from random cybergremlins, and, eventually, the swearwords inadvisably added during round seven.

** While prying Sunny out of bed, I found a book under her pillow.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Mom, I know you’re snickering—stop it.

***Not that I’ve ever tried using a duck foot to keep dry, but anything—a flyswatter, a colander, a water balloon—would have worked better at that point.

^It was our maintenance guy, wondering if that was my dead umbrella at the staff entrance.  “Yes,” I said.  “ . . . Again?” he said.

Random Thursday: Fame, Farcicalities, and Caffeinated Owls

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

This week has been surreal and I like to share.


How to Handle Being Freshly Pressed

1. Giggle wildly and dance around showing everyone the huge stat spikes in your bar graph and the hourly jumps in your comments and followers.  Ignore all those who blink and say, “Oh.  You have a blog?”

2. Clear the notifications out of your inbox on an hourly basis and hope you haven’t deleted anything that needs an immediate response, or indeed, any response.*

3. Hope that a few of the new people will stick around once they discover what really goes on around here.**

4. Repeat the following as needed:


Goes without saying, really . . .


The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

A retractable leash + a binder clip + a suction cup hook =

Book Sproing!

No more drowned books!

Watson (my SIL) said she saw this and thought immediately of me.  Can’t imagine why.

I showed my husband and he said, “That’s silly . . . You don’t take baths any more.”

Well, no.  But make me one of these, throw in a working lock on the door and help me corral all the toys and find bubble bath that doesn’t smell like Dora the Explorer*** and I might consider it . . .


Smooth like Iron

This one goes out to all the other Marvel nerds and, I guess, Justin Timberlake fans.

I promise there aren’t any spoilers . . . or not any more than the trailers.

But you’ve already seen the movie anyway, right?


The brilliant wekejay has other mash-ups, if you’re interested—Batman Maybe  had me rolling.

(what do you think, Jalisa?  Better than the original?)


 Because I Like Owls and I Live Caffeine

Caff Owls

Though I’m thinking that first one looks far too cheerful and, you know, alive.


Another Mother’s Day Idea

Or at least the best car commercial I’ve ever seen.

And I once viewed over twenty collective minutes of Benedict Cumberbatch shilling^ for Jaguar.

Yeah, okay . . . Twice.

But this one still wins, for obvious reasons:

Sheer. Trekkie. Awesome.


*If I haven’t responded to something you sent to me between Tuesday and today, please forgive me and send it again—if you sent it before that, I’ll find another excuse and get back to you . . . probably.

** Though if Poetry Wednesday didn’t send the numbers plummeting, you’re probably as close to bulletproof as you can be.

***Coconut, apparently.  Yeah, I don’t know, either.

^Although, since it’s Mr. Cumberbatch, one should really use a lower-pitched verb. To properly shill, you really need to be a tenor . . .

All aboard the C8H10N4O2 Espresso!

English: Chemical structure of Caffeine. Franç...

I have no idea whether I’m coming, going, or spinning in circles today.

Part of this is Monday, part is bookbrain—thank GOD—and part, I’m sure, is a severe caffeine imbalance.

I gave up diet Pepsi as my main source three days ago and haven’t figured out how to compensate, yet..

Turns out carbonation isn’t the best thing to put in one’s body, at least not in the quantities I was mainlining.  Plus, while I wasn’t spending as much per week as the average Starbucks groupie, this stuff ain’t cheap.*

Tea is my favorite alternative, but it’s not as readily available in restaurants or at work, at least in the quantities I use  to keep the withdrawal gnomes at bay and the migraine fairy from nailing me with the icepick,  so I’m also experimenting with . . . and I can’t believe I’m saying this . . . coffee.

That’s right.  After forty-cough years of not drinking coffee—of, in fact, making a point about not drinking coffee**—I’ve gone to the dark-roast side.***

Sort of.

I don’t really have the knack of it, yet.

This morning, around 5:30, when all good decisions are made, I tried to make a drinkable cup of pumpkin spice specialty roast  with Watson’s ceramic filter thingie and see if it was drinkable.

Okay, it wasn’t a cup, it was a mug.

Okay, not just a mug,but my Ohio Renaissance Festival 24-ounce mug that I’m used to filling with carbonated, aspertamed love.

Except I didn’t use enough coffee because I can’t do math before caffeine, so it was really watery.  I drank it anyway, because pumkin spice-flavored water isn’t so bad and it was warm and I wasn’t paying that much attention because bookbrain.

It wasn’t until I was already halfway through the travelmug I’d brought to work that  I realized I’d already sucked down the equivalent of two fairly strong cups of coffee.

I’m not a caffeine lightweight . . . but that’s a lot at once.

The day started to blur after that.  Or maybe it was me.

It was probably me.  It probably still is.

So this is as much post as I can sit still enough to do at the moment and I have no idea if it’s in English or Hyperactive.

Leave a comment and let me know—I’ll read ’em after the screen stops vibrating.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll just bring a handful of teabags to work . .  .


*Also, carbonation may be the life of the soft beverage party, but there’s no denying it  also supplies  the   balloonage and noisemakers, if you know what I mean.  It’s a gas is what I’m saying.  And that’s all I’m going to say, thanks.

**Though I recently admitted that I can see the attraction.

***Yes, Averil and josey, you can tell me you told me so.

Venti Vidi Vici

demotivational posters - SQUIRRELS + COFFEE

This past Saturday morning, I had my first coffee in, uh . . . I’m pretty sure I had my first coffee ever, past a sip and a grimace.

I don’t like the stuff.  To quote Dave Kellett, I don’t drink coffee for the taste any more than I’d chew aspirin for the flavor.   In a pinch, it’s strictly medicinal and then only measured in spoonfuls as needed.

Saturday, I was pinched.  It had snowed overnight and the roads were just dicey enough that I didn’t stop to pick up my usual carbonated caffeine supply before driving to work.  I figured I’d get a diet Pepsi from the vending machine in the staff room, forgetting that I’d given Jane the last of my change for a school fundraiser so she could wear her pink fedora, or buy a cookie, or play the ponies, or whatever.

I was just beginning to feel that pounding on the left side of my forehead, the drumming that means the withdrawal gnomes are about to appear over the hill, and I’d better do something before they fire up the bagpipes.  And I remembered that this branch of the library has a café.

I dragged myself over there, squinted at the kid behind the counter and said, “What’s the biggest blast of caffeine you can do for a coffee hater?”

He blinked at me, glanced at the tea rack, and decided that Earl Grey wasn’t going to make a dent.  “Maybe a mocha?”  he said.  “They’re sweet enough that you might not notice the aftertaste.”


So he made me a venti-plus, doubleshot* white chocolate mocha.

You guys . . .

You guys . . .

It was amazing.

There was a hint of bitterness, but not enough to bother me, the withdrawal gnomes accepted their tribute and vanished back into the recesses of Metaphorland, and clarity settled upon me like a Mentat taking his first spice hit of the morning.**  My hands were warm, which is not normal, believe me.

The morning went by very, very quickly until lunch, when the drums started in again, along with the fifes of the Sugar Crash Brigade.

So I went out into the wilderness on a Diet Pepsi hunt and returned with a brace of 24-ouncers to tide me over.***  And also a sandwich.

Which was a good thing, as I had a looong afternoon, caffeine notwithstanding, followed by the first meeting of the Hollywood Hype Book and Movie Club, for which my friends and I read a book, see the movie (or television adaption), and compare/contrast/complain over desserts.^

This month, it was One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.  Because some of you may want to see it, I will say only three non-spoilery things:

The individuals who designed and signed off on the cheesy, franchise-promoting, chick-flicky opening title sequence should be spanked and told sternly never to do it again.  No, the Stephanie Plum books aren’t War and Peace, but this movie isn’t With Six You Get Eggroll, either.  Sheesh.

Even if Snooki had a cameo in this movie—which one would be forgiven for anticipating from the  “this is what middle America is expecting from a movie set in Jersey” opening sequence—seeing  Jason O’Mara with his shirt off was well worth the admission price.

I liked the movie better than the book.  This isn’t a slur on Janet Evanovich’s writing talent at all—the woman writes the witty, clever, sassy equivalent of crack—but I’ve got my reasons, which I’d be glad to debate once everyone has seen it.

I’m not sure how much of this opinion stems from being perhaps the tiniest bit over-caffeinated at the time—though I wasn’t to the point where the screen looked like I was trying to watch a 3D showing without my specs. Mr. O’Mara looked just fine . . .

But it is possible that I might have been speaking like the squirrel in Hoodwinked during the discussion afterward, though no one mentioned it.  If so, I wasn’t the only one talking—the  group didn’t leave the restaurant until past closing time, when every waiter in the place came by one at a time to ask us if we wanted anything else.

It was well past midnight before I settled down enough to sleep.

I’m gonna blame the mocha, delicious gateway drug that it is.

So, so worth it though.

What gets y’all through a long day? And should it disturb me that I already have a tag for “Caffeine”?


*I don’t drink the stuff, but the rock I live under ain’t big enough to keep out Starbuckian terminology.  Few rocks are.

**Name that novel!  Brownie point to the first!  No Googling!

***I would have had another mocha, but the one tenacious constant in a lifelong pattern of disordered eating is my mild discomfort with drinking calories, unless I’ve put soup in a mug or made a conscious decision to let it go already.  This does tend to keep me sober, though, mostly, which isn’t a bad side effect.

^Eating calories is only an intermittent problem for me.  I like a good sugar rush, which I can get just from descriptions:

Me: What’s on the dessert menu?
Cha Cha: Okay, first there’s the Chocolate Divine—rich chocolate fudge syrup smothering chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownies, bananas and whipped cream and then—
Me: Wait—say it again . . . slower . . .