Saturday, December 30, 2006


Well, it's been several weeks since Jo from Tangled Me, being swept up in a meme tagging frenzy, charged me and several other good women to reveal five things about ourselves of which people were unaware.

I must admit, this tag left me looking like a deer caught in the headlights: what was a meme? what five things about myself have I not already long-since revealed in my postings? why on earth would anyone want to know any more about me than I've already been nattering on about for the past year or so? But I value Jo's friendship, and I've honestly been wracking my brain to come up with these five items to comply with the tag challenge.

Wracking my brain wouldn't seem to be such a difficult task considering the hollow sound resulting from a sharp rap on my skull with the knuckles. I mean, there ain't much in my cerebrum but a grocery list and some fond childhood memories! But, DANG! What five things does no one know about Priscilla?

*remember mint-flavored M&M's in kitchen cabinet*

To be fair, the holidays were upon us, and there was so much work to be done. Christmas was oddly difficult in that I felt so prepared and confident right up until a few days before. Last minute wrapping sessions, a delayed tree snatch and a frantic Christmas Eve meal prep left me exhausted and confused.

I needed Mr. Pseudonym to help with the tree, but he works far away from home with nary a day off ever. He does get vacation and personal time, but he doesn't like to leave the defense of the country to others at Aircraft & Other-Stuff-You-Don't-Need-To-Know-About R Us. So the tree had to wait until the last minute, finally being decorated as part of the frantic Deathmarch Houseclean which always precedes our parties.

One of our Christmas Eve guests is a compulsive talker, and trying to get a holiday meal on the table when she's here is like trying to shampoo a hairless cat on a rubber sheet.


Or like juggling peeled mangoes while walking barefoot across an icy roof. But dinner was eventually served, and the coffee pot was kept gurgling all night. I missed out on a lot of present opening, but I saved most of the kids' stuff for unwrapping at Pixie's house the next day.

The bright spot of the Christmas Eve was getting to see J.Q.'s other grandma, #1 Daughter's soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law-but-hopefully-lifelong-family-friend. J.Q.'s grandma was sweet (and brave) enough to attend the festivities at Casa Pseudonym, which helped balance out the psychic drain of my compulsive talker friend's monologue.

The evening ended with a weary plop on the sofa and a protracted, wide-eyed stare at the tree. One holiday down, a coupla more to go.

Christmas Day up at Pixie's was, by contrast, soothing and comfortable. Pixie has turned into a really good cook, and she executed an excellent holiday meal. We opened gifts one-by-one under her illegal evergreen while listening to the

Mr. Pseudonym's 60th birthday was three days later, on the same day I was keeping J.Q. My dear friend and neighbor, Kathy, comes over to help with J.Q. each week now. Caring for a wall-climbing toddler who calls her "Cassie" and begs for hugs just to get out of getting his diaper changed seems to reaffirm her faith in life while dealing with her mother's progressing Alzheimer's. With Kathy keeping J.Q. from destroying NJ, I was able to throw a partial turkey in the oven for Mr. Pseudonym's birthday dinner. All of the kids were here, and the baby got a kick out of everyone singing to grandpa.

New Year's Eve came all too soon. I burnt the breadcrumb topping on the mac and cheese to a black devastation while, once again, listening to Mrs. Compulsive's rambling. And, to my astounding great fortune, she and her husband had apparently stuffed some festive dried herbs into their hookah on the way over, so her stories were frequently punctuated by a magestic rise up onto one buttock and the expulsion of several cubic feet of intestinal gas in a long, alarming screech. While she was obviously delighted with her own talents, my friend's performance left me drained of holiday spirit almost until the big ball dropped at Times Square.

But I got out the good crystal and served the two bottles sparkling cider brought by two different guests. Two different sparking ciders, so it looked as if five of us were drinking champagne and three of us were drinking urine.

OK...the purpose of this post is to fulfill my obligation to Jo. So here goes:

  • I wanted children from the time I was a young child.
  • I am math phobic
  • I believe human beings are meant to be carnivorous, but not necessarily cruelly carnivorous.
  • *pauses to pick meat shreds out of teeth*
  • I am not an atheist or an agnostic.
  • I plan to do away with all of my pets by attrition, because...DAMN!...every time I finish cleaning, I dump out a whole catsworth of hair from the vacuum cleaner!

Oh, ALLRIGHT: My kids are aware of most or all of the above, which is frankly boring, but let's face it--I'm not that complicated a person! I will admit to being empathic till it hurts, overly emotional, way too naive for my age and wicked smart, but I don't think about much more than going to the supermarket, watering my plants and feeding my pets!

Oooooo0o! Ooooooooo! Oooooooooo!

  • When Mr. Pseudonym retires, I want us to buy a Winnebago and travel the United States!

  • I have always dreamed of seeing the aurora borealis! Literally! I sometimes have dreams about bright, undulating, colored lights in the sky. Sometimes, the lights spell out words or form pictures!

The kids keep saying I need a therapist because I've never fulfilled my potential, but how much damned potential does a woman have at my age? Wasn't the starting bell rung...uh...say, four decades or so ago? And what if I'm basically happy dropping Mr. P's shirts off at the cleaner, throwing the frisbee for the terrier and waiting for the spring planting season? What if I don't feel the need to rush out and get a degree in microbiology? Is this wrong thinking?

Me tired. Head hurts. Will tag others next post, OK?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No, Mama! Scary Man! NO!

Graham Henderson--1991

I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a J.Q. & Santa photo taken this year--very briefly, because J.Q. has had a full-blown case of "stranger anxiety" for several months now.

J.Q. is old enough to learn a little about Santa--at least that the dude carries a sack of toys on his back and says "Ho Ho Ho!" But slapping an anxious toddler on a big, scary man with a burned-out attitude and a musty-smelling fur suit just because I want a picture seemed a little cruel to me.

J.Q. has endured some serious changes in his life over the past eleven months or so. Mommy and Daddy no longer live together, and there are extra caregivers in far-distant locations each week. The little guy never knows where he's going to wake up or who's taking care of him on a given day. But J.Q. is fortunate in having parents who are so committed to his well-being that they make a serious effort to get along peacefully with each other and to assure their child is always in the care of someone who puts his safety before anything else.

In return, J.Q. is a generally cheerful and cooperative baby. Even his temper tantrums are brief and mostly for show--he's just too busy having fun to spend much time in meltdown mode. He has to be seriously past nap time to engage in any protracted crying. There's worlds to conquer: speech, manual dexterity, exploration of environment and emotional manipulation of several aunts and grandparents (biological and voluntary).

Still, it seems a shame to let this particular Christmas go by without at least a brief nod to The Man With All Those Toys and the Serious Cholesterol Problem. So I found a Night Before Christmas board book to read with J.Q. Since he's too young and too impatient to sit through the antiquated Clement C. Moore poem while we look at the illustrations, I'm going to have to modify the story a bit to appeal to his 20-month old sensibilities.

* * *

Toddler Night Before Christmas
(as adapted by Priscilla Pseudonym)

Oooooo! Look, Baby! Grandma got you a new book!
No, no, no! Leave Kitty's tail alone, and come sit on Grandma's lap!

Good. OK...settle down now.
No, Baby! No glasses! Grandma can't read book without glasses!, this book is called Night Before Santa comes to Baby's House!!!
NO! Kitty doesn't want any more Cheerios!

OK...let's start. Turn page, Baby.
NO MOUTH! NO! We don't chew on Santa Clause!

Here we go...
It was Night Before Santa Come to Baby's House, and LOOK! Everyone sleepin'!!!
Mousies sleep, Mommy/Daddy sleep, all the little children sleep...

Whoops! That's OK... Grandma just wipe up milky off of sofa and coffee table and magazines and floor. There.
No, Kitty! NO! Go away!

Where were we? No glasses...put cup down now...kitty go away.
Oh! Look! Daddy hear something! Daddy jump out of bed!
Daddy has dorky hat on! Aren't we glad our Daddy not wear dorky hat to bed? YES!

Look! There's the moon, and WHAT'S THAT??? LOOK! REINDEERS!
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen... Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen!
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, EIGHT REINDEERS!
You know why so many reindeers?
See that guy in the sleigh? That's SANTA! And Santa MORBIDLY OBESE!

Owwww! OK.'s OK. Grandma's mouth OK. Baby's head OK?

OK...more reindeers, more sleigh...
We can just skip these pages...
NO MOUTH! NO! Here, let's get to the good part...

BABY! Come back here! No! No outside! Too cold! No!

(...45 minutes later...)
LOOK! That's SANTA! Isn't he CUTE?
And he's got TOYS! See? And he's smoking a PIPE!
But pretty soon, no books will show Santa's pipe because
Societal Health & Behavior Enforcement Squad is closing in fast, and our civil liberties
are swirling around and around and around and pretty soon go all the way down potty!
But that's another story.

Anyway! See Santa put toys in stockings for little children!

BABY! Leave...the...CAT...alone!
OK. Long story short...Santa comes to Baby's house with TOYS!
But only if Baby is good: be nice to kitty, stop ripping off Grandma's glasses, no fishing around in the trash, no throwing food, no pinching other people and stop trying to escape from house.

Oh, and Baby has to eat at least ONE thing per day that isn't grapes. OK?

Baby! NO! NO!

*thanks to aussiegal for recommending "Scared of Santa" site to Pixie:,0,2245506.photogallery?index=1

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Evergreens of Yore

A short break from mall skipping to remember trees gone by:

Pixie, I'm of a mind to get me a cut tree this year although, not being as audacious as my second-born, I'll go about it legally. I've been using my little two-foot, plastic, laser-lighted, psychedelic conifer for the past few years. I got it for $12 two days after Christmas in 2003, and it has been causing passing motorists to drive into my mailbox each holiday season since that time.

This year, however, I'm a little more on top of the holiday than is my usual habit. Most of my shopping is done, and it may be possible to get together for some tree decorating, cookie baking and assorted Holiday Magic with friends and family within the next couple of weeks. Younger Brother is into baking, and I got some really neat
3d cookie cutters from W*lliams-Son0ma for our baked-gift preparation needs. And there may be enough time to drag home a fresh tree from the local garden mart.

When I was very young, my family lived in a small house on 3-1/2 acres of prime NJ farmland (pine trees included). Each December 23 or so, my brothers and Dad would put on their boots and ear muffs, grab an ax and trot off to the woods behind our house with Mom yelling after them, "Not too big! Not too big! Do you hear me? NOT TOO BIG!!!" They would drag home Pinezilla and pull/push it into the house with my mother's anguished cries as background music. They would then commence chopping off the top, the bottom and 10 or so large branches before Dad could prop it up in our rickety old metal tree stand, slide it into the customary corner of the dining room and fill the reservoir in the stand with fresh water.

The ornaments and lights would come down from the attic, and even Mom (fortified by a glass of spiked eggnog) would participate in the tree decoration. The lights rarely worked without Dad's magic incantations (which cannot be repeated in polite company, so I'll just omit them here). The ornaments were old and sad-looking, but we children always thought we had the most beautiful Christmas tree on earth. Until the dog crawled under it to get himself a drink and the whole thing started tipping over. Good thing Dad had wired the top half to the wall!

Many years later, Older Brother was visiting my parents' house with his family one Christmas, and it came time to put up the tree. Brother climbed up into the attic and brought down the tree stand and the box of ornaments. He looked at the sad, lopsided little metal tree stand and said, "I had one of these once! I know what to do!" He put on his coat, picked up the tree stand and dropped it into the trash on his way out to the car. He came back within an hour with a brand-new, heavy-duty tree stand. I don't think we even had to wire the tree to the wall that year!

Mr. Pseudonym and I had at least one child, possibly two or three, the year we procrastinated a little too long in getting our Christmas tree. It was Christmas Eve, and I was wailing in my frazzled husband's ear, "You can't just not get a tree for your child! You can't DO that!" Our oldest must have been three or four that year, which would mean we had a three-year old and a newborn, or a four-year-old, a year old baby and a newborn. To Mr. P's reply that he was unable to simply shit out a tree on demand, I countered with my sighting of a perfectly serviceable little white spruce-looking thing growing in our own back yard. It was just the right size, Mr. P. had a sharp saw in the shed and all of the kids were asleep. TREE TIME! There was just one problem--it was raining buckets that night.

Mr. Pseudonym opened the back door and stood with the cold rain splashing in his face for a few seconds. He somberly shut the door and turned to stare at me. I stared back, just as determined and sure of my position as Mr. P was sure he didn't want to be outside rolling around in the puddles. We stared in mute standoff for what seemed like forever, but Mr. P had been married 13 or 14 years at that point and knew when to give up and get dressed. He pulled on his boots, grabbed an umbrella and headed across the yard to get his saw from the shed.

I followed with my own umbrella, softly singing "I'm Dreaming of a Muddy Christmas" while waiting by the little tree.
Mr. P lay on the ground, hacking away at the tree trunk while I held my umbrella over his head and thought about standing at the bottom of Niagara Falls. The little tree fell over, and I rushed into the house to spread out sheets and towels over the hardwood floor.

Mr. P dragged the saturated tree into the house, and we let it "drain" on the dropcloths for an hour or so before putting it upright in the stand. It stayed undecorated for quite a while after that--we didn't want to get electrocuted from stringing lights on a dripping wet tree. Mr. P got changed into dry clothing and I made a pot of hot coffee.

So Santa had a tree to put his presents under that year, and I think Mr. P and I resumed speaking to each other by the next morning. Now that's what I call a successful Christmas!