Friday, April 28, 2006


Better late than never, I announce the addition of a new family member: Baxter!

He is an approximately four year-old cocker spaniel rescue who joined the family officially last Thursday. Bad habits include sock and toy chewing, but they are well compensated for by his quiet affection, ferocious protection, and tidy 23 lb package (he weighs less than Jessie does, Huzzah!)

Baxter came to us via our new deerhound groomer. We were considering adopting him when we lost Splinter and that put all plans on hold for grief. But Baxter needed a good home, and adopting him just felt right. The only one not thrilled is the cat--sorry Loiosh. I know you are the first and eldest, but you really need to be a bit more flexible. So welcome Baxter!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Joys of Technology!

I come back to Stranded in the South, and not to rant! I meant to write a lot more about the social ills which plague me, but evidently I purged the plague with Caitlyn and have no more bile right now for The Compact. Instead, today I celebrate!

First news, there is a new iMac in our house. Dave found the Delicious Library last week and that was the straw that tipped over the camel. He took the bluetooth scanner to work today to scan in all of his computer books. When we have the book, cd and dvd collections all scanned, we can sync them to our iPods and never leave home without a complete list of everything we have (no more standing in Best Buy going "Do we have this on dvd?"). More importantly, if we ever need the list for insurance purposes it will be up to date. And it has a built-in lending function!

The iMac makes me feel like I've hopped into the century of the fruitbat in a big way. The first clue that Kansas had gone bye-bye was at the Apple store when the salesman said "Here is the 17" and here is the 20"." And when I said "Nice monitors, where are the computers?", he replied, "These *are* the computers" and proceeded to show me the USB and firewire ports on the back and the cd/dvd drives in the sides of the sleek, flat monitors. Everything came in one little box.

Other tech which makes the headlines this morning is our friend Jonathan's Guitar Hero for the PS2. The pics are of Jessie learning to play, but we all took turns at it and I can see where it would become addictive. On the way home Dave told me about a similar game called Dance, Dance Revolution (I know, where have I been?) and it may be the ultimate answer to the, hrm, weight issue... We'll see.

Tomorrow's news: Baxter!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Part 1 of the Tirade: Caitlin

Yesterday I spent a not-quite-committed-to afternoon off catching up on current happenings in my little North American corner of the world. Most of the current socio-political cultural news I get is from my friend Lize who is very well-educated, passionate, literate and liberal, and who writes Prematurely Grey. The hot topics there which I followed off into other corners of the Internet included the latest in the Mommy Wars (enter Caitlin Flanagan) and and introduction to the Compact.

I was also sucked in by the mainstream media reportage of the "silent birth" of the Holmes-Cruise baby and it drove me to read more about Scientology to find out (better late than never) what all the fuss is about. I could go off on a rant and a tangent here about Tom Cruise and the really stupid, damaging things he has said, but this post is about Caitlin Flanagan and her damaging stupidity. Tom will get his turn later. I will just say now that I am glad I am not Katie Holmes' mother as I do not think I could have smiled and kept silent as I watched my daughter skip off blithely down the path of self destruction with him.

It is not surprising that Caitlin , the justly reviled author of "To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife", would show up multiple times on Prematurely Grey, nor that her opinions would send Lize into an outraged spin. I admit to being bothered more by her success peddling her shtick than in the outrageousness of the shtick itself. There will always exist people who spout seductive and destructive philosophy which is grabbed as a life-line by those casting about for validation and well-defined answers. And certain adaptations of said philosophy could actually improve some people's lives. That's what religion is all about, after all. And I completely respect another person's right to his own beliefs. What I absolutely, positively cannot abide is a hypocrite. And a rich, smug, self-righteous hypocrite with every purchased support system in the world is the worst of all.

As I write this entry, I find myself getting all riled up by the same things that outrage every other thinking, educated, liberal woman who is exposed to Caitlin's views. I start to write about how her ideas are just wrong... but that's not the point. The focus must be on why she should be dismissed out of hand--and it's not about her views and whether or not I agree with them, it's about the money and the mouth. She has plenty of both, but they are not co-located. It's also about the scalabilty of her "solution" and its lack of personal relevance to most women in this country--let alone the world. Finally, to think that being a better mother--or anything else--can be determined by one factor and works the same for everyone is insanely naive.

How can one even think of giving the time of day to a woman who--while ardently preaching that women should stay at home and take care of their children, their men and their hearths--by her own admission does not cook, does not clean, was not the primary caregiver for her children before they went to pre-school, and who has a very active professional career that she runs "from home" with the help of a personal organizer? She doesn't even have the honesty to confess "Do as I say, not as I do". Instead she holds herself up to be a better mother and wife because she is home at roughly the same time her children are and sees it as her duty to give her husband regular blow jobs.

And just who is her target audience? In this country where personal wealth is measured by the ability to buy things and hired staff is a luxury of only the truly rich, her lifestyle is so alien to most of us that I can't even begin to see how it could possibly scale to the real world. When she writes about mothers staying home or not and she refers to women of her acquaintence, she is referencing the top 1% or the top .5% of the economic tier in this country. While some of us get someone in to clean the house every couple of weeks (and consider ourselves fortunate) they have housekeepers, cooks, personal assistants, personal organizers, personal trainers, nannies, gardeners, etc. The experiences, deprivations and benefits of growing up in that kind of environment cannot be boiled down to does Mommy work outside the home or not. Mommy may very well stay at home with the children--while serving on several charitable boards and participating in other philanthropic activities. Don't let's kid ourselves; it's no less work and she's no more available.

Finally, I have to say what bothers me most about people taking Caitlin seriously (and they must as she wrote/writes for the Atlantic monthly and the New Yorker) is that her views show a fundamental lack of understanding of the complexity of human life and human relationships. There is no one solution that works for everyone. To sniff and call a woman a worker bee because the woman says "she has to work" when she might very well mean she wants to work shows a clear lack of understanding of the differences between individuals. Just because Caitlin has no drive does not mean that no one else does either. How obvious does it have to be that we are more able to enrich the lives of those around us--including our children--if we are happy? If someone is not happy because she is doing what she is 'supposed to do' rather than what she wants/is driven to do, how pleasant is she to be around and how good a caregiver is she?

One last question, where is Caitlin's husband in all of this besides providing her a meal ticket and getting regularly serviced? If I were a man reading her columns/book, I would be outraged at the diminished place I was given in today's family. My husband is a supreme caregiver and we equally share the roles and responsibilities of life management, householding and childraising. And we don't have sex because it's my duty--we do it because it's fun.

Caitlin, the Compact, Censorship and Shaping Things

Coming Soon. This one takes more than stream of consciousness.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Night Terrors

What is it about the middle of the night that makes everything you think and feel more intense? Writing this entry is the last thing I do now before getting ready for bed. And I hope with every exhausted cell in my body that tonight--for the first night in four--I do not wake at three, four or five a.m. victim of an attack of anxiety, remorse, guilt or depression.

When I wake in the night, whatever I think of is so much more intense than it is in the daylight. It seems that anything I fear is bound to come true. And I tell myself that it really isn't so--I am overreacting. I rationalize. I focus on releasing my muscles one at a time. I breathe. I think Happy Thoughts. I try so hard to relax... and I can't let go of whatever woke me.

I wake, more often than not, heart pounding. And lately I immediately panic because I am awake at the dreaded hour and I fulfill my own prophecy that I will not get back to sleep before the birds begin their sleepy song and light tinges the sky around six-something a.m.

Last night I lay and listened to Dave breathing and to his little night rustlings for over an hour. I felt so alone and disconnected. I fretted about everything, and cried about not getting Splinter to the vet in time. Finally I slid over across the great expanse which is our kingsize bed, I put my arm across Dave's chest and my nose against his shoulder. And I felt everything let go. I eased back to sleep. Maybe if I can hold tight to how I felt right then, I can keep whatever might come to hound me tonight at bay, and I won't wake till it's time to get up and get the Sprout to school.

Friday, April 14, 2006

In Memorium


March, 2001-April 14, 2006

He was The Perfect Ferret:
Inexaustibly Playful, Inately Gentle, Infinitely Tolerant, Insatiably Curious
Taken too quickly and too young.
We will miss him,
and lay him to sleep
under the weeping willow
in the backyard.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sleepless in Atlanta

In order to post here I need to launch a browser. My homepage for Firefox is Some days I wonder what I am doing writing little bits about a little life in the midst of uranium enrichment by Iran, the playing of the tape of the last moments of flight 93, the loss of the glaciers in Glacier National Park and the virtual extinction of the polar bear in my lifetime. Of course these headlines share space with reports that Madonna and Guy Ritchie's marriage is on the mend so I can console myself that I am not the only one to write inanities. At least we appear to be done with Jessica Simpson and Nick Whatsits--and Brittany and (is it?) Kevin.

After the second night in a row of almost no sleep I am in a definitely pensive mood this morning. Last night Seraph (deerhound #2) decided she had to go out at 2:30 am. I had already let her out at 10:30 so I was a bit cranky at being woken up. The neighbor's dogs also had a sleepless night and barked on and off for several hours. I couldn't let Seraph out into the yard for the night as the contractors were due at 6:30 this morning and I did not want to have to get up again to let her in. So I ignored her as long as I could and then I put her on the back deck. That worked for about an hour and then she decided she just had to go down into the yard. So I got up, got decent, went out into the front yard and wrangled the gates closed so I could put her out there.

Then Jessie woke up from a nightmare about dinosaurs eating other animals eggs and I spent some time listening first to her nightmare and then to her preferences of dinosaurs. At first she liked the tyrannosaurus rex best--large meat-eater, but when I told her about the speed and cunning of the little meat-eater--the veloceraptor--she decided those were her favorites. She went back to sleep to dream of hunting prey in the verdant jungle.

Other parents look down their noses at us for letting her watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But The March the Penguins caused a week of nightmares from the leopard seal eating the mother penguin. XXX, Blade, Buffy, Alien vs. Predator, Sean of the Dead (her current favorite movie--it's about zombies in London) elicit no such response; she sleeps like a baby after them. "Kid appropriate" movies. Huh.

I just got back from PetCo where I bought a doggie door for the new shed. The builders are going to put it in for free for me as they had to give me a 3" smaller door than was specified due to the window placement. I am thrilled. Seraph had better watch it or she may find herself relocated to the back yard permanently.