Tuesday Morning Ramblings

Right before I left the house with the kids this morning, I told my MIL, “It’s going to snow, because I decided to wear my favorite flats instead of my boots.”hate-snow-Lucy

By the time I backed out of the garage, there were fat flakes sailing through the air and a nice fluffy layer on the ground.  It must have started the moment I slipped on my shoes.

So I turned on the windshield wipers and said, “I’m going to win the lottery, because all that money would be a terrible inconvenience.”

I’ll let you know how that goes.

CD PLayerThe kids understood my need for radio silence during the snowy drive to school, and helped out by singing the first two lines—and only the first two, over and over—of their current favorite songs, at the top of their lungs.  When I protested, Jane explained that she was just showing me which songs she was planning to earn with her good homework behavior* this week.

I didn’t tell her that hearing the first line of the homemade KidzBop version of “Wrecking Ball” wasn’t doing anything for my level of parental follow-through.**  Maybe I should have . . .

Sunny gave me an extra hug when I dropped her off—I suspect that she wanted to see me skate around the car again like a moose on ice, but the reward was worth it.

Had a close call on the way to work with a minivan driver, who thought I should have gone through the yellowred light at a slick intersection, despite the two cars that had already stopped in front of me.

Honking while sitting at a red light because the driver in front of you won’t try to defy the laws of physics, not to mention the traffic laws, at your psychic command doesn’t just display your self-righteous impatience—it also makes you a jerk.

Red LightActually, honking at any red light makes you a jerk.  Turning on red is allowed in most of the U.S., but it isn’t required, and we aren’t allowed to decide when the driver in front of us can safely turn.  If we believe that we are allowed—nay, required—to make these judgment calls, we should keep in mind that our line of sight is impeded by distance, other vehicles, and by having our heads lodged where the sun can’t get to our corneas.  It’s physically and karmically safer to wait for the green light.

CoffeeOne of the tiny, drive-through coffee houses that punctuate my morning commute had a new sign up this morning:  New Soup and Pumpkin Flavors!

I thought that a tomato-pumpkin parmesan latte didn’t sound so bad—sort of like bisque with a caffeinated kick to it.  But I expect the pumpkin chicken noodle mocha wouldn’t go down so easily—up, maybe.

When I arrived at the library at quarter to eight, I had a breakfast bar, cracked open the first diet Pepsi of the day, and decided to reward myself for hopping on the exercise bike this morning by having a grilled chicken salad at my favorite lunch place.

Cheese FriesAt the writing of this paragraph some hours later, I have decided that “reward” and “salad” do not belong in the same sentence.  “Burger and bacon cheese fries,” on the other hand, might.***

I can always hire a personal trainer and chef—and a chauffeur and homework tutor—once the lottery thing pays out, right?


* My library subscribes to Freegal™, which allows our cardholders—including those of us with staff cards—to download three free songs a week.  Since Jane has a card from a different city, I told her that she could earn my songs throughout the week, if she did her homework without complaint and to the teachers’ standards—or mine, if her teachers don’t make their directions clear to me.  If Freegal™ doesn’t have a song she wants, Jane can save up three free songs for one that I’ll buy for her.  I get song veto rights, because I’m not stupid.  We made this pact after her report card arrived Friday—it told us in no uncertain terms that we have a bright kid with a bad homework attitude, which wasn’t exactly a surprise.  We’ve tried everything else to get her to understand why homework is important and thought we’d might as well move on the bribery.

** Nor is the realization that I’ve been humming that one line to myself all #%$&ing morning.

***It says a lot about my nutritional attitude that I already had image of cheese fries in my media file.  But I’m not inclined to listen today.


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.

Hansel and Gretel Grow Up

My Monday continues.

The power went out just as I started drying my hair, which signals to the cat that his breakfast is due, so he began hollering at me to hurry it up and then screaming abuse because I kept blindly kicking him down the hallway—he could see perfectly well and didn’t know what on earth was wrong with me.

But I’d rather talk about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I had no real expectations going into the theater.   I’d been told that it was an unrepentant B movie with Troma* leanings and no redeeming qualities, but I wanted to see it because I enjoy fairy tale adaptions, steampunk-ish anachronisms, and Jeremy Renner in generic historical leathers.

Still, I was pleasantly relieved when it turned out to be a decent B movie.

There’s an actual story.  It’s not a complicated story, by any means, but there is one and it makes sense.

There are moments where things could have ventured into Men in Tights slapstick—the milkman putting out bottles with missing children notices tied on them with string was one—but this movie takes itself a tad more seriously.  Not Van Helsing seriously, thank heavens, but there are some non-gratuitous dark moments,  self-discovery and actual character growth.

And there are rules. They aren’t breathtaking, intricate rules, because this is neither Avatar or Inception, but the movie never breaks them.  When Hansel and Gretel discover something  important about their past that could very well be a Deus ex Gamechanger, the movie doesn’t play it that way.  Instead, it’s an emotion-based World-View Changer, and allows both of them to accept assistance from a source they wouldn’t have touched before.  This movie doesn’t cheat.

I respect that.

I also noted that there were none of those awkward moments when the audience laughs or groans or roll their eyes in unintended places.  Tommy Wirkola did a pretty good job of  putting us where he wanted us.

The acting was a big help too—the actors were far better than a B-movie usually deserves and most of the characters who have more than two scenes and three lines were fairly well-rounded.  The one exception is the Sheriff, played by Peter Stormare , who was fully aware that he was supposed to be a Big Bad Misogynist Cardboard Obstacle and, since the movie didn’t give him much room to do otherwise, did his job and earned both his paycheck and his inevitable demise without once showing us the politics or self-esteem issues that made him a #4B-Class Woman-Hating Angry Man in Power.

H&GBut Hansel and Gretel are played very well—siblings who were abandoned as kids without explanation and then attacked, who saved themselves and decided that no other child was going to suffer like that on their watch.  They’re strong, but not super-powered—the only “natural” advantage they have is that dark magic doesn’t work on them for reasons that become clear later—and they work for their victories.  Their lifestyle and dependence on each other don’t help them interact well with others, but  you can see glimpses of who they might have been if they hadn’t nibbled at that candy house.  Gemma Arterton plays it stoic—A Woman Doing a Man’s Job—until it’s safe for the character to crack a little.  And Jeremy Renner is absolutely natural as Hansel, no matter what the movie makes him do—believe me, that’s skill.

The wannabe witch hunter fanboy character is great, too—I like him even better than the one in Galaxy Quest, probably because he isn’t so hyper about it and clearly has a Tumblr-level thing for Gretel that half-embarrasses him to death.  Hansel’s personal fan, Mina, does her best to hit Hansel—who has problems dealing with her because he’s been all about the witch killing since before puberty and she’s, you know, a pretty girl who shows up at the most awkward times—with a clue stick until he actually listens to what she’s saying, which is, thankfully, more than the obvious fact that she’s a sure thing.  And even the Troll emotes like Henson has something to do with it.

The witches are Evil—you could tell because The Stereotypical Ugliness Curse of the Wicked had set in, swapping moisturized skin and normal eye-colors for  the linked compulsions of eating children and using insidious amounts of hair goop —but at least the three Generic Germanic witches had individual personalities and Famke Janssen looked like she was having fun getting paid.

I will admit that, even with the Troma warning and the R-rating, I hadn’t expected quite so much gore, even though I’d seen the trailer and knew it had been shot for 3D audiences, something that guaranteed blood spatter and the occasional thrown limb.  I’m not a huge fan of gratuitous cinematic bodily fluids, but the soft gore horror, as Watson put it, really doesn’t get in the way of the story—plus it’s telegraphed pretty well, so I was able to blink slow in a few places and miss it.


While no one is going to have to angst over which Oscar clips to showcase for this film,** I enjoyed it.  I’m probably going to see it again, because my friend Cha Cha couldn’t go with us and Watson and I are bickering about one of Hansel’s lines.***

It’s a simple, uncomplicated, well-acted, somewhat violent, and occasionally blood-splashed flick that isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t.

It’s entertaining.

Seriously—what more do you really need?


*As in Troma Studios, whom we can thank for such classics as Cannibal:  The Musical and The Toxic Avenger, a movie I saw three times, though in my defense, I was seventeen and the local movie theater didn’t card for R-rated movies.  Though I was unnerved to discover during a quick fact-check (hush, it happens) that there were five movies in the series . . .

** Kudos, though, goes to  whoever conceptualized and/or designed the Desert Gila Witch at the end—they need recognition.

***She thinks he’s saying, “Unleash hell!” and I think he’s calling the weapon “Michelle”  in the French manner. Either, we agree, is possible in context.

My muse prefers bourbon, but a cuba libre will do

Acorns--Nature's Miracle Food

I’ve been ditzing along today, my mind clearly elsewhere.

I found a banana in my purse this afternoon.  I think I was supposed to give it to Sunny this morning for breakfast on my way out.

The morning commute was supposed to be a breeze, since I’m off chauffeur duty until Janie is better, but it  took just as long, because I drove to her school anyway.  I realized this before I stopped at the door and told her to have a fun day—but only just.

I wore my walking shoes to work so my nice flats wouldn’t get wet . . . and left the nice flats on the bed.  Unless I gave them to Sunny for breakfast.

Work was fine, except I kept sticking pencils behind my right ear, as is my unbreakable habit, but this time without removing the old ones.  I had two golf pencils, a standard yellow, and a Tinker Belle* balanced without realizing** before I jabbed in the final one—it was neon green—and sent all of them flying behind me.

On the way home, I made another loop around Janie’s school, called myself an idiot and went home, without picking up her homework.

Once I arrived home, Janie and Sunny told me, several times, they wanted macaroni and cheese for dinner—Tuesday evening is kids’ choice—which is how I ended up having a bowl of Disney Princess soup, as I opened the can while the macaroni was cooking, congratulating myself on my efficiency.

And when I put the remainder of the soup away for someone’s lunch tomorrow, I didn’t notice the crack in the rubbermaid container. I did notice the puddle of soup on the floor, but only because I stepped in it.***  It was cold.  There were noodles.

And here I am.

Wherever my brain is, I hope it’s buying my muse a drink, because I’ve got a few scenes I need to work on tonight, and it would be nice if she were disposed to lend me a hand.

Not necessary, but nice.

Now, where’s my pencil?


*Libraries accumulate the oddest collections of pencils.  I think we all become pencil and pen thieves in subconscious rebellion against those awful little golf pencil things that appear to be a requisite.

**It helps to have an earring or two high up along the rim.

***Yeah, I started the mop-up with my sock—it was already wet.