Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work yesterday, because I was out of pita bread. In the checkout line, I heard the guy behind me speaking a foreign language that had some soft sounds in it but that I didn't recognize. So I asked him (very nicely and with an "Excuse me" at the beginning) what language that was.

He said it was Italian.

Instantly, my brain did what it always does in such a situation: it searched through the Foreign Language Storage Unit (FLSU), grabbed the first words it found in the given language, and shoved them out of my mouth. I said, "Mangia! Mangia! (pause) Basta! Basta!" Which means, "Eat! Eat! (pause) Enough! Enough!"

We chatted a bit (the couple in front of me had WIC vouchers, which takes a while). He and his wife are just visiting right now, but they love it and plan to move here soon. I told him that was great, that we like people from other places, and he seemed happy to hear that (his wife was quiet, maybe shy or else she doesn't speak much English).

They're from "Roma," where I've never been. I told him that Italians are openly mean to bicyclists, and he agreed that Italians are aggressive drivers. (Hmm, he ought to fit in pretty well driving in Southern California.)

Then I told him that on one vacation, I had been seated at a table with my then-husband and six Italians one time, and for chit-chat, I asked the English speaker what part of Italy they were from, and he said, "Bologna." I asked him, "If we were to visit Bologna, what should we see?"

The man started to tell me, "Oh, you don't want to come to Bologna," and the others in the group agreed. But then one guy said, "Tortellini." And the others agreed that if we come to Bologna, we need to eat the tortellini.

(Back to the grocery store now.) So when I told the Italian man this story, he said that yes, I must have the tortellini in Bologna. And I should see the Donkey Tower. And then it was my turn to get rung up.

What a great trip to the grocery store. I love talking to strangers!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Google Celebrates Earth Day

Yes, Earth Day is really annoying. A bunch of environmental extremists telling you that YOU have to live your life as though we were in the Dark Ages.

I think I might celebrate by being more like Al Gore. I'll turn on all the lights and leave them on all day. And run the dishwasher again. And do a load of laundry that needs to be dried on High.

Or maybe not. Instead, I'll just celebrate today by remembering my Grandma, who was born April 22, 1912, and who played a mean game cards with her grandkids, and when we would start to win, she'd say, "I'll fix your little tugboat!" She passed away many years ago.

I'm a much happier person when I think about my Grandma than when I think about Earth Day, so:

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Don't you just love technology, except when you hate it?"
-- SkyePuppy

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday's Bread

Photo Source: Children's Ministry

It was my turn to write the Bread, a Christian devotional, this past week. Yesterday's was inspired by Sunday's sermon at church, and the pastor had this photo up while he spoke. Here's Friday's Bread:

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

This past Sunday our pastor, who had been a missionary in Swaziland for four years, told the congregation about impalas. They’re beautiful animals with gracefully curving horns, and they can leap amazing heights and distances. Impalas can jump up to ten feet high, and they go up to thirty feet in distance.

You might think it would take tall fences to keep them penned in at zoos, but that’s not the case. Most zoos can keep impalas from escaping with a surrounding wall only three feet high, because impalas will only jump to where they can see where their feet will land. The solid wall is enough to block their view of what lies ahead, and they won’t take any chances.

How many of us live our lives like impalas, afraid to step out in faith when we can’t see where our steps will take us? How many times have we hesitated when we’ve received direction from the Lord, waiting for Him to give us more explanation than just His simple, “Go”? True faith means leaping anyway, because we have the reassurance that what we do not see is nevertheless certain when it is God’s will for us. No matter what lies ahead, He will see us through.

What leap of faith is the Lord asking you to make? What guidance is He giving you that makes you feel insecure in your own strength? Let us separate ourselves from the instincts of animals—particularly prey animals—and instead move boldly forward in certainty of what we do not see.

May we leap in faith in the will of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brain Teaser

I have a Page-A-Day calendar at work, besides the French one, that my boss gave me for Christmas. It has comics called, "Brevity," which I'd never heard of before, and some of them are funny. On the back of each page is "The Daily Extra."

Today's Daily Extra is this brain teaser. I figured it out without having to peek at the answer.

I am a 6-letter word.
Letters 6-5-2 spell out a drink.
Letters 4-5-2-3 spell out a fruit.
Letters 1-2-6 spell out a pet.
Letters 3-2-6 spell out a pest, which often gets eaten by 1-2-6.
What am I?

You can post your answer in the comments. If nobody gets it, I'll put the answer in the comments in a few days.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Michelle Obama Speaks

Here's a newly posted YouTube video of Michelle Obama speaking before an LGBT group during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

One of the commenters at Michelle Malkin's blog posted this as a link in the Saturday Open Thread. The comments that followed focused on Michelle Obama's comment, "[Barack's] home country of Kenya," as proof that our president was born there. But that could have been more along the lines of what my grandfather might have said about Hungary--he was born in America but his parents and a couple older siblings came over from the Old Country.

For me, the more telling comment in this video was the last. She said, "Barack is running for president because he believes that if we can work together and come together, that we can build that world as it should be. We can do it. And he says that in the world as it should be, what does that look like? In the world as it should be, we can repeal laws like DOMA and Don't Ask and Don't Tell, and he's opposed to (unintelligible) and constitutional amendments that would strip civil rights and benefits away from LGBT Americans, because discrimination has no place in a nation founded on the promise of equality."

Michelle Obama attended Princeton and Harvard Law School. I guess they don't teach the documents of the Founding Fathers to Princeton Sociology majors and future attorneys, because our nation was definitely NOT founded on the promise of equality.

Our Founding Fathers fought for liberty, for freedom from the tyranny of the ruling class forcing onerous burdens on the people and confiscating the people's hard-earned income against their will and without any say. Equality wasn't part of our rallying cry at all.

She must have been thinking of France.


Oops! In the comments, Anonymous pointed out a minor little clause in a minor little founding document, which reads, "all men are created equal." How did I miss that one?

I would argue, however, that Michelle Obama and her husband have taken "created equal" and morphed it into "equal outcomes for all," and that is not what our Founding Fathers fought for. They did not fight for redistribution of wealth to make all people equally poor. In fact, redistribution of wealth (from the Colonies to the British Crown) was what they were fighting against. They fought for liberty, for the right of all citizens to pursue happiness in they way they saw fit without interference from a very limited government. This is not the equality that Michelle Obama believes was promised.

Again, she must have been thinking of France.

Friday, April 02, 2010

I Read This Wrong

I was checking the news this morning and out the corner of my eye, I saw a headline at the bottom of a list. Here's what I thought it said:

Geitner: Disparity in weather 'deeply unfair'

Which really is funny. I was prepared to agree with him (shocking, I know, that I might agree with a member of the Obama administration). After all, it's completely unfair that California has no autumn weather. I call for an immediate... no, make that in October... redistribution of autumn to those of us unfortunate souls who are forced to live weather-deprived for most of the year in California. Indiana can have our October weather this year.

But that's not what it said. This is the real headline:

Geitner: Disparity in recovery 'deeply unfair'

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday it's "deeply unfair" that some financial institutions that got taxpayer-paid bailouts are emerging in better shape from the recession than millions of ordinary Americans.

He acknowledged public outrage over that and said people watched with disdain as Washington protected the banks and investment houses whose risky bets caused the crisis, even as the national unemployment rate was soaring to double-digit levels for the first time in a generation.

But in a nationally broadcast interview, Geithner also argued that President Barack Obama had no choice when facing a financial crisis but to support then-President George W. Bush's "unpopular" bailout plan.

Oh, that's right. I forgot. All the unfairness in our country, even the weather, is President Bush's fault. And Obama is a panty-waist wussy who can't even stand up to an out-of-office former president and do what he believes is right. My mistake.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


I was at work and I caught a whiff of what smelled like macaroni and cheese. Or maybe it was buttered noodles without the cheese, but in either case it made me think of my mother-in-law.

She passed away 28 years ago this month from pancreatic cancer, when my then-husband and I had been married about five and a half years. She was only 54. For her, the first symptom she had of the disease was itchy shins, an itch that drove her crazy and wouldn't stop. She spent the better part of a year going to the doctor and getting tests that didn't tell them anything, and finally they decided to do exploratory surgery. When they opened her up, they saw the cancer, and it had metastasized.

My husband and I moved back to California from Spokane shortly after she was diagnosed, and less than a year later, after battling through chemotherapy, she breathed her last.

But this isn't about cancer. It's about macaroni.

When I was a kid, my dad was in the Navy, and my mom stayed at home and raised the three of us. We lived in such nautical places as Bainbridge, Maryland, Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California (with a brief stint in San Francisco while my dad's submarine was in drydocks).

As a Navy wife, my mom served us budget meals. Some of my favorites were:
  • Nalley's chili heated and poured over king-size Fritos in a baking dish, with a little cheese melted on top
  • Mexican cornbread
  • Macaroni & Cheese and hot dogs, especially when my mom sliced the hot dogs and mixed the slices into the M&C like little copper coins
  • Galumkas
  • Shrimp Creole
One time when I was in my twenties, I called up my mom and asked her for the Shrimp Creole recipe, because I had a sudden craving for it (no, I wasn't pregnant at the time). She told me it was just a can of Campbell's Shrimp Creole soup heated up and poured over Minute Rice, and they stopped making that soup a long time before. Oh, the heartbreak!

Some of my least favorite budget meals were:
  • Tuna casserole, though I didn't hate it
  • Anything with lima beans or beets
  • Navy bean soup
I hated navy bean soup so much that I started to dread it when we had ham (which I loved), because I knew that meant the navy bean soup would be next.

But when I met and married my husband and got to know his family better, I learned that my mom had been a budget-meal piker. She was a lightweight compared to my mother-in-law, who had five little mouths to feed, rather than just three.

I don't remember all the other meals my husband and his sisters talked about having to eat when they were little, just the Mother of All Budget Meals: Beans and Noodles. That would be a large can of Pork N Beans (possibly the bargain brand) served next to (not over) noodles. Plain noodles. No sauce. No butter. Just the cooked and drained noodles.

They hated it. As much as I hated navy bean soup. Almost as much as I hated (and still do) beets (ptooey!). And they had to eat it often, because their mom was on a budget.

So when I smelled the macaroni at work, it brought all this to mind and a whole lot more. I wouldn't want your impression of my mother-in-law to be nothing more than beans and noodles, because she was a wonderful woman.

She won me over when we first met, because she championed me over the wishes of her only beloved son, when she chewed him out something fierce for wanting to make a dishonest woman out of me by living in sin. I hadn't said a word to her about it, and certainly not to him (too afraid I'd lose him), even though shacking up was not what I had in mind. But she tore right into him, and that gave me the courage to speak up a little.

He caved, and we decided to get married, and while we were making plans, my then-future mother-in-law started grilling me on religion. She was Catholic, and she wanted to know what my religious beliefs were about baptism. Did we baptize babies?

No, we let children decide for themselves when they're old enough to know what they're doing. Of course, at this time I wasn't going to church and didn't really care about God, and neither did my fiance, but I pulled the answers from my childhood spent attending church every Sunday.

Then my mother-in-law informed me that when we had kids, there was that whole Original Sin thing to worry about, and she was going to see that our babies got baptized, even if she had to do it herself in the bathroom sink.

I told her that was fine with me, if she really needed to do it. But we didn't have our first child until three years after she died, so they remained unbaptized until they were 10 or 11 or something.

After we had been married a year, I invited my in-laws over for Thanksgiving dinner. We had gone to their house the year before, about a month after the wedding. My mother-in-law surprised me by saying it was the first time in over 25 years of marriage that she hadn't cooked on Thanksgiving. I was thrilled, and I still treasure that meal, because it let me give back a little something to a woman who had given of herself for so long.

I'm not going to tell everything I might, but I'll end with the Andy Capp comic strip she kept on her refrigerator the whole time I knew her.

It was Andy's wife, Flo, sneaking into a Bingo game in the first frame, sneaking out of Bingo in the next, then she's in some business-type office at a desk where the man asks, "Name?" and "Flo" is crossed out and "Big Al," my father-in-law's nickname for his wife, is hand-written in. In the last frame the man asks, "Occupation?" and she answers, "Adventuress." That was my mother-in-law to a T.

I'm glad I smelled macaroni today at work.

Tipping Over

Oh my goodness! How did this guy ever get elected? (via Michelle Malkin)

The key statement by Congressman Johnson: "My fear is that, uh, the whole island will, uh, become so overly populated that it will tip over and, uh, and capsize."

And Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, manages to not even break a smile before he answers, "We don't anticipate that."

Man! Our military is trained to be tough.