"Edaphunt. Edaphunt."

"Oh, are you a baby elephant?"

"No, I'm huge."


For the first time in my life, I slipped on a banana peel.

It wasn't nearly as funny as I might have hoped.



Nathan is counting!

"One... two... six... seven... eight... four... eleven..."



I'm really excited about Advent and Christmas this year. The wuggies are old enough now for it to be meaningful, and I'm on the lookout for ways to involve them in the season.

I love the idea of an advent calendar, and have lots of great childhood memories of opening the little door and reading the days scripture... but when it comes down to actually looking for a calendar for us to use, it's very difficult indeed to find one that is simultaneously toddler-appropriate and within budget.

So I was most pleased to read about this idea. A little "tree" with an ornament symbolic of each day's scripture reading? Brilliant.

But why would it have to be a separate tree? Why not have that BE our main Christmas tree? Instead of having a one-day tree-decorating frenzy, and two weeks of keeping toddlers away from it... why not help the wuggies to decorate it themselves over the course of advent, just a little bit each day, while we talk about waiting for Baby Jesus?

Ah, the pesky logistics of it all... if we have a real tree, we certainly can't have it up all through Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas. And if we have a fake tree... well, what's the point of a fake tree, anyway?

So I was thinking we'd get a living Christmas tree, which wouldn't dry out and become a fire hazard.

But then I read that it would, however, become ill unto death if left inside for longer than 10 days.

It would be such a shame to buy a living tree, only to kill it over the course of the holiday... but really no different than chopping it down all at once at the beginning, I guess.

What to do, what to do.

There's a reason I blog, though. When I write, things start to make sense. Our tree will start out on the porch. Or maybe it will even start out at the back of the yard and slowly make its way toward the house as Christmas approaches.

Now I just need to be sure to make my ornaments weather-proof.



"Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! Cheeeeeeeese!!"

"You need to ask nicely. Cheese please?"

"No! No cheese please! Chee-eeeese!"


As my mother and I worked on Thanksgiving dinner, Tembo sat snuggled up with her grandpa, reading her little bible book. It was a cooperative effort--Grandpa did the reading, and Tembo turned the pages. Often, because of course the page turning is the very best part of all.

So it was that out of the corner of my ear, I heard a most fascinating tale.

"Noah built a boat for his family and all kinds of animals. The princess found the boat on the river. Inside was a little baby."

An interesting plot idea there... I'm sure of it...


Nathan, on eye drops

"Mama drink in the eye!"


A roomate by any other name...

"Hi... Sarah?"


"Do you have class today?"


"Are you going to be bored out of your mind?"

"Quite possibly."

"Do you want us to come pick you up?"

"That depends... Who are you?"

"Oh, sorry. This is Elena."


"Your sister."

"Umm... I think you want to talk to Sarah Palmer."



This afternoon I went in to have three wisdom teeth removed.

It took approximately 3 times as long as anticipated, and even then, we're only halfway through.

Prayer would be appreciated, both that the half-tooth left behind would stay out of trouble, and that there would be no permanent nerve damage from the attempted extraction.

Funny thing is, what hurts the most right now is the spot where they gave me all the shots. They pumped me so full of novacain, my ear was numb.

But thank God, all the novacain in the world isn't enough to keep you from screaming when they wiggle a tooth whose roots have fused together right by nerve. And thank God for digital x-rays, so the doctor was able to figure out what was going on, before it was too late.

Ay-ay-ay. What an afternoon.


Economics Lesson

From the back room I overheard Nathan and Andy chattering. Judging from the jingling, apparently Andy was emptying out his pockets.


"That's right, Nathan. It's money. What sorts of things can we buy with money?"


I chuckled to myself, wondering if Nathan was putting forth keys as one of those things that money can buy, or if he was merely changing the subject and observing that Andy had taken keys out of his pocket as well. I suspected that it was both, and that it was the proximity of keys that put them forth in his mind as the proper answer to the question and hand. And I wondered just how much of all our thinking is formed that way.

Andy and I had an extended dialogue about budgeting, and what I would and would not buy on my trip to Target, and then he went to go clean his car.

At least that's what I thought he was doing.

Nathan gazed earnestly up into my eyes and explained, "Dadder's going to Target. Buy keys for the car."


Nener's Nutty Pan-Cookin's

I've finally figured out exactly how I like my pancakes. Fluffy, but not thick, a nice combination of hearty and light. Next time around, I think I'll try adding a chopped apple.

2 eggs, beaten until fluffy
2 c. milk
1.4 c. melted butter
1 Tpsp. vanilla

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, fold 'em together gently, cook 'em on a hot griddle, and serve 'em with maple syrup. Preferably in a sunbeam. Pancakes are ever so much yummier when you can see the steam rising.



Other blogs get string upon string of comments.

Mine doesn't, and I must say, that's rather disappointing.

When I do get comments, though...

...sometimes they're better than the post itself.


Malphonistically Speaking

Euphomisms make sense to me. When we talk about difficult and profound things in benign terms, they seem less intimidating.

And we're less likely to frighten any small children who may be in the room.

But why, why, why do we then turn around and talk about benign, commonplace events in the somberest of terms?

I tried to call Andy at work this evening, but his cell phone battery has been on the fritz, and it didn't even ring, just transfered me straight to his voice mail.

"Uh-oh," I said sadly, "We can't talk to Dadders after all. His phone's dead."

And now my sons are utterly convinced that they are fatherless.

The trouble with Girls

When the boys leave their cars, trucks, and minivans laying in a mangled heap on the floor, never does my heart stop in momentary fear that it is our real car upside-down underneath a semi.

The same cannot be said of Tembo's "babies."

As soon as my heart stops racing, I'm going to go dig a slightly less life-like doll out of the toy box.


Meat Loaf

Almost as much veggies as meat, it tends to crumble when you try to slice it. But the flavor is well worth it. Besides I've never made a meatloaf that didn't crumble. =)

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
2 slices of bread, torn into little bits
1 leek, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
Kernels from one ear of corn
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. catsup.

Gently knead all ingredients together in a large bowl, press into loaf pan. Bake at 350 until done, about 1 1/2 hrs.

Word to the wise: If your ground beef has a high fat content, you'll need need to drain off the grease. And if the meatloaf pretty much fills up your pan, you're less likely to burn yourself if you drain it several times over the course of it's stay in the oven.

And please, please don't substitute frozen or canned corn. The very best part about this dish is the delightfully flavorful crunch of the corn kernels.


Mama's Helper-girl

This morning while I showered, Tembo was so helpful. She got me a washcloth... several, actually. I guess she wanted to make up for the fact that mamas can't shower quite as often as they might wish.

She also got me some deodorant.

Old Spice.

And above all, she got me a towel.

And another towel.

And another.

And another.

She kept right on bringing me towels, until the bottom of the shower was about a foot high in soggy towels, and oh, whe was pleased with herself.

And now as I write, hair wrapped in the least soggy of the pile, Tembo nuzzles her nose against my shoulder.

There's a towel on her head, too.

Just like the Mama.


Back to the Pharmacist

Right down the street from us is a 24-hr. SavOn drugs. Or CVS Pharmacy. Or whatever it is. It's all rather disorienting. Apparently I should shop at Albertsons (which I don't) because inside every Albertsons is a SavOn Drugs, and SavOn Drugs is very, very wonderful. And why is SavOn Drugs so wonderful? Because inside every SavOn is a CVS Pharmacy. I'm just waiting for them to announce that they're putting an Albertsons inside every CVS Pharmacy, and then it'll all make sense.

But I really don't care what they call it, I just wish they would fill my prescriptions instead of losing them. Apparently "Johnston" is a very confusing last name. It's almost very normal, and that's the problem. Quite typical and mundane... except for that "T." They don't quite know what to do with the "T," but the name is so very normal-sounding, they don't realize just how confused they are. So they look in their computer, find five different Andrew Johnsons in their system, and not a one of them has a prescription waiting.

It's worse with the night staff, and it's worse with Tembo.

"Yes. September. Like the month."
"No, not her date of birth, it's her name."
"Yes, really."
"No, August 28."
"She came a few days early."

It all gets resolved in the end, but sometimes we have to resort to calling back after a shift change.

And every time this happens I swear to myself that I am never doing business there again. And every time we need a prescription, that's where exactly where I go, because it's right down the street, and open 24 hrs., and besides, this time can't possibly be as bad as last time. And every time, it is.

This last was worst of all. No record on their system whatsoever of Tembo's prescription. I spoke with members of 3 different shifts, and nobody could figure it out. But I had two messages on my answering machine verifying that the doctor had, indeed, called the prescription in.

So this morning I called the doctor again to ask her to send the prescription off to a different pharmacy. It turned out, however, that she already had sent it to a different pharmacy. The whole thing was my fault this time. I'd given the doctor the number of a SavOn/CVS/Whatever half an hour away. I had no reason to doubt the competence of this particular pharmacy (aside from the identity confusion, of course)... but it was half an hour away.

So it was that I found myself calling my neighborhood Multiple Personality Pharmacy once again, and asking them to transfer the prescription over from the other location.

I knew it was a mistake, even as I dialed. I was sure of it as the automated phone system informed me that "0" was not a valid option, and I would simply have to listen to a full listing of all possible methods of learning about flu clinic locations and hours in Southern California before they would let me talk to a human being.

I was ready to repent in sack-cloth and ashes by the time the girl on the end of the line was done with her lengthy apology and explanation for leaving me on the line for so long listening to the pandemonium behind the counter. Something about an exploding computer, I think. Anyway, I saw the error of my ways, and was fully prepared to give up and drive all the way to Beach Blvd.... but I'd been through so much, and was so close... I couldn't just give up and let that go to waste.

Oh, I should have. I should have.

When we got to the whole name conversation...

She had a hard time figuring out where to put the "W."


If you shop at Costco...

NOW is the time to buy your holiday baking supplies. I just bought a 16 oz. bottle of real vanilla extract for $7, and 7 oz. of saigon cinnamon (the good stuff) for $3.50.

I'm enjoying a scrumptious cinnamon roll right now. I had no idea just how big a difference the quality of cinnamon can make. It makes a big difference. And saigon cinnamon is good cinnamon, warm and bright and intense.



Slowly, imperceptibly, the sun has set. Gradually, incrementally, it dawns on me that all is dark. A lone lamp shines out bleakly, a forgotten reminder of early morning's cheerful dark.

My head throbs dully, nothing a cup of coffee and an ibuprofen won't fix.

I wish the soul-ache were so simple.

"Milk. Milk in a cup!" But you have a cup of milk right there. "Milk in a cup with chocolate?"

Unpleasant odors waft up to my nose. Which one needs changing this time?

It never ends, this constant cycle of needs. Milk and stories and honey toast and pictures of helicopters. Apple slices, but don't spit them out, oops, bye-bye apple. Crayons, but only on the paper, oops, bye-bye crayons. And how is it that mopping the floor twice a day just isn't enough?

I know that there was a time when it all seemed to matter, was beautiful and joyous. And I know that time was just a few short hours ago.

I remember that there was a time, but try as I might, I can't remember what it felt like.

The emptiness deepens and swells, until I cannot bear the pressure.

Suddenly I recognize the hunger. My fingers tremble as I pull my flute case down off the shelf. The tarnished silver tubes slip together effortlessly, and I play. The sound is horrendous, but I don't care. To pause, and adjust, and find a tone that I can admire seems a shameful vanity. Later, later. For now, my need is too pressing, and I simply play.

Rippling through the notes, weaving in and around scales and arpeggios, the formless void of my experience takes shape.

"No song! No song!"

I really do sound dreadful.

My son, I'm afraid you're just going to have to put up with it. Just a glimmer, but I start to remember. Like a theorem you couldn't quite prove yourself or even recite, but the logic is so compelling, you know that if you read it long enough it will become part of you... like the truth you reason yourself into seeing, in that strange in-between moment when you still see the illusion right there mixed up with the truth...

The music matters, so obviously matters. And the music is life, only smaller, flatter. So if the music matters, then necessarily, life has to matter, and more. I only half see it, but I know it must be so, there is no other way. It has to matter, and more importantly, the way that the music matters has to be the same way that life matters. Just a glimmer, but I start to remember.

What was I thinking? What else could possibly happen when I go for weeks without music?

Isaiah, you are simply going to have to put up with the sound of my flute.

But first, how about a cup of juice and a cuddle and another Arthur book?