Everyone knows tigers like their cereal.

A birthday box arrived from Great-Grandma Ruth (the lady behind the blog title) today. I was going to have the soon to be two-year-old wait until her birthday, but then she figured out exactly the perfect spot to place her step stool to get to the sharp knives, so I yelled out,

"Hey! Great-Grandma sent you a box! Want to open it?"

The box turned out to contain some nice clothes, some candy, a stuffed tiger, and two small boxes of Total brand cereal.

Little Z adored the Tiger.

"Lion! My baby!" she said.

"It's a tiger, actually." (Now I'm thinking maybe it's a cheetah, but I don't want to confuse her again. I'm not well schooled on the big cats.)

"Teegrar! My baby!" she said.

She colored the sidewalk with Tiger. She walked Tiger to the park (or half-way, at least) in her stroller. She pushed Tiger on the swing and went down the slide with Tiger. In short, a very good gift from her Great-Grandma.

But what about that Total cereal?

I thought of some reasons she may have put two boxes of Total in the birthday box:

1. Grandma ran out of packing supplies, and thought the cereal would do, and as an added bonus, we could eat it later.

2. She was worried about Little Z's nutrition- but, if you know her, I don't really think this one is it.

3. She thought it was good toddler snack food, like Cheerios.

4. She thought the tiger (or cheetah?) needed something to eat on the long haul in that box from Pennsylvania to here.

Actually, I think number four is probably the most likely. I mean, Tiger Baby would not be the first tiger to enjoy cereal, right?

Vote in the silly pool on the right! What else do you have to do?

Such a Lovely Blog You Have

CailinMarie gave me this award a little while back. Thanks! Apparently, it means she thinks my blog is lovely. Likewise! This is something where one ought to pass on the love, and so now I am to give my favorite 15 blogs the "One Lovely Blog" award.

When thinking about whom I wanted to bestow this award upon, I realized that I just couldn't give it out to my best friends and relatives, who all have blogs, because I read those blogs to keep up with my peeps, and if you are not among my peeps, I don't know how you would feel about them. In short, I'm not exactly objective about your blog if I know you in real life. That means I can't give it to my best friend from high school, my husband, my mother in law, my coolest aunt, my best friend from college, my cousin-in-law, or even that high soprano I sang with in the Fort Lewis College Choir. So, scratching all of those off- even though they are excellent- here are my favorite blogs of people (or great apes) whom I have never met:

5 kids, 2 labs, 1 lizard and a hermit crab
Flippism Is The Key
Ghosts in the Pantry.
It's Lovely! I'll Take It!
meg in the kitchen
On a quirky quest with Lady Fi
Slimbolala[Slimbolala is the blog that inspired me to get a blog]
The Best Life Ever
the japing ape
The official blog of Vat19.com
The once upon a time fairy
Who's In Charge Here?

Lots of links! Go ahead, click on 'em! You know you want to...

Treasure Hunt

One of the great added bonuses of having a child, in my mind, is that you have a great excuse to buy cool toys. I have always enjoyed buying toys and stuffed animals, but I felt sort of silly sometimes, coming home with, say, a giant blue rabbit, and having my husband raise just one eyebrow at me, slightly. Now that I have produced offspring, however, I can bring home a giant blue rabbit anytime I please, to be met only with a, "Oh, Little Z will like that!"

Little Z's birthday is coming up, and also, we are going on a little road trip soon. Last time we took a road trip, it was pretty easy to keep her occupied by giving her toys that were all wrapped up. She would spend a lot of time unwrapping something, and then she had to figure out what it was good for. Last time, I just mostly wrapped up toys she already had, but this time, I thought it would be easier to entertain her with new-to-her toys from the thrift store. So, off I went to Dig and Save.

Dig and Save is sort of amazing. And scary. And dirty. And cheap. And, well, interesting. It's this place where, all around you, there are gigantic boxes full of stuff. It's roughly organized, into "clothes," "toys," "dishes" etc. There is a scale up by the cash register, and everything is sold by the pound. The per pound rate is ridiculously cheap, usually around 29 cents per pound. The catch is that you have to dig through the boxes to find the good stuff. Some of the boxes are so huge, I literally leave Little Z at the sitter, because I fear that I could lose her entirely in one of them. She could suffocate in one of those clothing boxes before I ever got her out. Today, I didn't bring her additionally because I went to buy her toys, and of course I didn't want her to see what I was getting her.

The people there are always so interesting. There are usually lots of immigrants, and plenty of people speaking foreign languages, often talking to themselves as they dig. The racket of people shuffling through all that stuff is extraordinary. And then you have the children. The children who can pretty much have whatever they want, because it's so cheap, and they go wild playing with things in the aisles. There are no dressing rooms for the clothes, which are not even organized by size, so there is a lot of trying things on over your clothes. The last time I was there, this Spanish-speaking woman got a shirt stuck on her, and asked me to help her. I was tugging and pulling and tugging and pulling, and it wouldn't come, and then it was stuck half over her head, and then we were laughing and then, when I finally got it off of her, (and nearly took her other shirt off with it), we were both laughing hysterically. There's nothing like laughing with a stranger who doesn't even speak your language.

Anyway, today I found plenty of loot. So much loot, in fact, that I thought I would take a picture of it all when I got home:

When they first weighed it and rang it up, the cashier came up with $1,079.

"Oh, I messed something up here," says she. "You could buy this whole store for $1,079."

She re-did it.

"Did you get everything? Really?"
"Yeah. $3.70."

I was dumbfounded. Wow. That's cheap. I had thirty or so toys, including a dump truck and one of those cool wooden wire things, and a shirt, and an embroidered ladybug, and some wrapping paper, and some odd magnets from places I've never been.

After you get home, you have to wash things off, of course, because there's no telling where they've been:

I dried off the smaller toys and wrapped them for the trip. The wrapping paper I bought there had some non-occasion generic flowers on it, and it was folded, and I assumed that it was all the same under the folding. As it turned out, every sheet was different. Little Z will be opening some very festive wedding paper on our next road trip:

She won't care, though. I hope she has as much fun playing with the toys as I had finding them.

Another reason I love this town:

I drove by a new bridge being built for the bicycle path, so that it bi-passes a major street:

It's not quite finished, but it sure is going to beat the "No turn on red [so bicycles can use the crosswalk]" sign for the cars, as far as bike safety is concerned.

We pay a lot of taxes, but we have great bike paths, a good bus system, beautiful lakes, terrific weather*, wonderful parks, and excellent schools. Lots of things to love.

*Joking about the weather!

Another Very Poorly Illustrated Story *

When I was a teenager, I went through a stage when I got up at the crack of dawn and went jogging every morning. I started on my own; later, I went with a friend. This very poorly illustrated story happened to me one day when I was jogging alone.

I was on one of those jogging trails where you have little things to do every few hundred feet or so, like pull-ups or bench presses, so it was a very popular trail on which to jog. I was moving along, minding my own business, when a giant orange dog jumped on me and nearly knocked me over. Then, it started running in circles around me, so that I couldn’t go anywhere. After a few minutes, it quit bothering me, and opted instead for jogging alongside of me. I thought my troubles were over. But...

A little ways up the trail, the dog ran up ahead of me, to meet another runner, and jump on her, and run circles around her, and jump on her again. This lady assumed it was my dog, and screamed at me, “GET YOUR DOG OFF OF ME!” To which I replied, quite shocked,

“It’s not my dog.”

When the bitch was done mauling her, it came back and trotted beside me, again. And then another jogger came, and it jumped on the next jogger, and he screamed at me, and so on. Some people were quite timid at first, just throwing me dirty looks, whereas others commenced the shouting right away. This happened five or six times.

It was a horrible jog that morning.

When I reached the borders of the park, the dog left me.

Sometimes, life is just like that. Through no fault of your own, you are associated with something really bad.

* Click here for the poorly illustrated story about the bear.

Teach Your Children Well

We were going for a little Sunday drive today, me and the family, you know. A car turned left in front of us, forcing Brian, who was driving, to nearly hit another car. It was very scary. I screamed,
And he swerved and no one hit anyone, luckily.
A minute later, in the back seat, Little Z. is yelling,
Which is comical and relieves the tension.

Skip to a few hours later, we're on the way home. Little Z. asks for a cracker, and I give her one, even though she doesn't say "please". After I give it to her, I remind her to say "Thank you," and she doesn't. I have a "great" idea,

"Hey! She was saying, 'stop' a lot after I screamed 'stop'! Maybe if I just yelled, 'thank you' at the top of my lungs whenever I wanted her to say it, she would start saying it!"

Which is how it happened that Brian and I were riding down the Beltline, screaming at the top of our lungs,


It didn't work. Little Z. just ate her cracker and watched the scenery go by. (She's used to us.) We're still doing it, though, so if you're out picnicking this summer, and you notice a few lunatics screaming some niceties at a very small child in the park, pay us no mind. We're just teaching good manners.

Sam Cooke

I have this horrible feeling that everyone who reads this blog is a huge Sam Cooke fan, and is deeply offended by my last blog post. I don't know much about manners, but I do know that I love you so, and if you would just forgive me, what a wonderful world this would be.

Sam Cooke's not so "Wonderful World"

Many of the places where I shop regularly have this song playing more than often, Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World". On the surface, it seems pleasant enough, nice melody, but the lyrics have always bothered me. Am I just a complete snob? I think that you should really learn something in high school.

Look at these lyrics [with my usual thought process upon hearing it in parenthesis]:

"Don't know much about history [Okay, a lot of people have trouble with dates and such.]
Don't know much biology [Hm... yeah, well, a lot of people also have trouble with biology.]
Don't know much about a science book [Okay, do you mean the construction of the text, or the actual content therein?]
Don't know much about the french I took [You definitely didn't have Madame Stillman, did you, Buddy?]

But I do know that I love you [Well... I guess if you're really sweet and have some other attributes...]
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don't know much about geography [No geography, either? But I love to travel! How will you know where to go?]
Don't know much trigonometry
Don't know much about algebra [No mind for math, either? Can you count money? Some things are important.]
Don't know what a slide rule is for [What are you, some kind of moron?]

But I do know that one and one is two [Oh, now you're Einstein, eh?]
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Now I don't claim to be an "A" student [I should hope not!]
But I'm trying to be
So maybe by being an "A" student baby
I can win your love for me [Only if the "A"'s are representative of actual learning and intelligence.]

Don't know much about history [Yeah, you told me that.]
Don't know much biology [You're just completely governed by hormones!]
Don't know much about a science book [What's the point of being a teacher?]
Don't know much about the french I took [Well, I would really like a man to remember SOMETHING, ANYTHING!]

But I do know that I love you [Truthfully, you would never love me. I read books and stuff.]
And I know that if you love me too [This would never happen.]
What a wonderful world this would be

La ta ta ta ta ta ta
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
La ta ta ta ta ta ta
(Science book)
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
(French I took)

But I do know that I love you [Doesn't this song ever end?]
And I know that if you love me too [This must be a song with really low royalties. Why do they always play it here?]
What a wonderful world this would be [Thank God, it's over!]

Sweden's got talent!

Just imagine what would happen in America if these guys got on American Idol and did the, "What what, in my butt?" song naked.

Sometimes, I really miss Sweden!

*Deep Thoughts

This is the first time I've laughed out loud several times in three minutes from a short film, from a non-muppet source, in a very long time.

Thanks to Bodhisol for putting it on your blog, first!

* Remember those "Deep Thoughts" cards? So 1992. This is the updated version.

The Ex-Boyfriend Recipe

I read about this book in BUST, "The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook". It sounds intriguing. The premise is that it is a recipe book made up entirely of recipes from the ex-boyfriends of these two girls who wrote it. Wow. They either dated a lot of chefs or, gosh, I don't know what, because I only remember ever having one ex-boyfriend who could really cook: Darren.

Darren and I were truly a doomed pair from the start. I don't think we ever even once agreed on whether or not we were really dating. Nevertheless, a relationship really did happen, and he really did cook at my apartment- which I think was my favorite part of the whole affair- and that's not being insulting. He was a really good cook. He was funny in that he could mess up the simplest things, like Kool-Aide (he forgot to add sugar) and yet your refrigerator could have twelve things in it, eight of them being condiments and two of them being beer, and he could still manage to make something delicious. Just thinking of Darren, to this day, still makes me- well, okay, a little bit angry- but also HUNGRY! Even after we broke up, for real (assuming we were ever dating), I still managed to crash a few of his Japanese dinner parties with Haruki. (Was he gay? Was he not gay? We shall possibly never know. But what straight guy thinks a good time is making sushi with another straight guy? Maybe there are a few out there...) Anyway, what I'm getting at is, tonight I made an old Darren recipe, and it still tastes good, after all these years. It is really super easy, really super quick, and also really super tasty.

One package Tempeh, cubed
A cup or so plain yogurt
One cucumber, diced
Either pita bread or Whole wheat tortillas- whatever you like to wrap stuff with

Spray a little pam in a skillet and fry the tempeh over high heat for about five minutes, flipping regularly. Put that in a big bowl. Add the yogurt and cucumber. Mix it up well. Put it in your pita, or wrap it like a burrito in a tortilla. Eat it! Yum!

Put It All Together, and You Get God's Present Location

1. When I was a kid, the house two doors down was impeccably clean, always. The man who lived there built his own sidewalk around the house, laying the concrete himself. He had a son who had a garage full of toys. The yard was immaculate. They also had a newspaper subscription. It was due to this newspaper subscription that I know, first hand, that newspapers take a long time to decompose, and before they decompose, they become this sort of weird plaster-paris type stuff. These people two doors down never ever picked up their newspapers off of the driveway. Every day, the paper boy rode by on his bicycle and threw another one onto the rotting heap.

2. When I was a kid, living two doors down from the impeccably clean - except for the rotting newspapers- house, the neighborhood kids all called me, "Big Shana". I was really not big, in any way, except that I was bigger than the girl next door, who was called, "Little Shana". We moved away from that neighborhood when I was ten years old. Once, when I was a teenager, I went back to visit. I noticed that Little Shana was no smaller than I was. Actually, if you included her hairstyle, she was a little bit bigger.

3. My friend *Betsy is a bisexual. She claims that picking up girls at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore is as easy as picking up a loaf of bread at the Quickie Mart. I'll probably never really know if she's putting me on.

4. I was at a stoplight once in Pueblo, Colorado, two cars behind a man in a convertible. He had the top down. The light turned green. The convertible didn't move. After waiting a few seconds, the car in front of me honked its horn. The convertible guy turned around, gave us all a huge smile, and waved. Then the light turned red again. The second time it turned green, he went. That guy so made my day. Actually, to tell you the truth, he made my decade.

5. My Grandma Amy, who only left the house twice a year (to have her hair cut) sent away for a tape of bird songs. Apparently, it was in very high demand, and it took her several months to acquire it. When visiting her, she had Brian and I sit on the Chesterfield while she played the bird CD. We listened. We did not speak. We listened. Lots of birds chirping. That's all it was. She sat, pensively staring into space, listening. It became surreal, as did most of my experiences with Grandma Amy. A couple of years after she died, I purchased a bird call CD, myself. It's on my iPod. I love it.

6. Why did Michael Jackson have a pet chimpanzee?

7. There was supposed to be one more thing here, to make it god's number: 7, but I can't understand my notes. I write these little notes to myself, you see. "G. Amy Bird Songs," says one. "Jackson's ape?" says another. And then there's this one: "Lady in the Shower". What in the world did I mean by that? I guess that just ruins it. We'll never know where God's present location is.

*Not her real name. (She's in the closet, so to speak.)

These Literalists Are Everywhere

I was at the playground with Little Z today again, and this little girl about her age- maybe 2.5 years - was carrying around a rag doll. She had been playing near us for some time, and just to be friendly, I asked,

"Does your dolly have a name?"

(This, to me, is a valid question, because Little Z does not name her dolls. She calls them all, "Baby" - except for Pink Monkey, who is, of course, a monkey.) The little girl looked up at me with no trace of a positive emotion and said, in perfectly articulated English,

"Yes, my dolly has a name." She then sauntered off to the slide.