Saturday, February 23, 2008

The trouble with being so environmentally conscious... that if you leave your car dome light on, you don't find out for four days. True story.

Last Saturday I ran some errands with Mowgli. I had my hands full, as usual; so I must not have shut the car door properly after extracting Mowgli, various bags, and library books. Wednesday evening I go to the garage to pull the car out- heading to Deb's birthday dinner. As you might imagine, the car is dead as a doornail- the battery completely drained. Ugh. I ended up taking Dr. N's car, and we had a good time at Puerta Azul.

The guy from AAA got the car started the next morning, so all is well. But yeah, now I check twice...because I still drive only once in a while!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poetry Friday

This one is a song actually, en Francaise. When I was a student at NID in the early 90s, I got it into my head to learn French. Because knowing so many other languages wasn't enough. I didn't have any time to spare during the week, so I started taking the all-day-Saturday class at the Alliance Francaise. It was an incredibly fun and immersive way to learn, and for a long while I was reasonably fluent in basic French (alas, too rusty now).

For our graduation, the students decided to do a variety show, and we acted out this song. I played the woman who is being propositioned by the guy in these sad, modern times.

La complainte du progrès

Autrefois pour faire sa cour
On parlait d'amour
Pour mieux prouver son ardeur
On offrait son coeur
Aujourd'hui, c'est plus pareil
Ça change, ça change
Pour séduire le cher ange
On lui glisse à l'oreille
(Ah? Gudule!)

Viens m'embrasser
Et je te donnerai
Un frigidaire
Un joli scooter
Un atomixer
Et du Dunlopillo
Une cuisinière
Avec un four en verre
Des tas de couverts
Et des pell' à gâteaux

Une tourniquette
Pour fair' la vinaigrette
Un bel aérateur
Pour bouffer les odeurs

Des draps qui chauffent
Un pistolet à gaufres
Un avion pour deux
Et nous serons heureux

Autrefois s'il arrivait
Que l'on se querelle
L'air lugubre on s'en allait
En laissant la vaisselle
Aujourd'hui, que voulez-vous
La vie est si chère
On dit: rentre chez ta mère
Et l'on se garde tout
(Ah! Gudule)

Ou je reprends tout ça.
Mon frigidaire
Mon armoire à cuillères
Mon évier en fer
Et mon poêl' à mazout
Mon cire-godasses
Mon repasse-limaces
Mon tabouret à glace
Et mon chasse-filous

La tourniquette
A faire la vinaigrette
Le ratatine-ordures
Et le coupe-friture

Et si la belle
Se montre encore rebelle
On la fiche dehors
Pour confier son sort

Au frigidaire
À l'efface-poussière
À la cuisinière
Au lit qu'est toujours fait
Au chauffe-savates
Au canon à patates
À l'éventre-tomates
À l'écorche-poulet

Mais très très vite
On reçoit la visite
D'une tendre petite
Qui vous offre son coeur

Alors on cède
Car il faut bien qu'on s'entraide
Et l'on vit comme ça
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois

Et maintenant, en Anglais (And now, in English. It's a little dated, and there are gaps in my translation [sorry!], but you get the idea!):

A complaint about Progress

To court, in the old days
There was talk of love
To further prove his ardor
He offered her his heart
Today, it's such
That's changed, it's changed
To seduce the beloved angel
He slid close to her ear
(Ah? Gudule!) (Ah? Gudule!)

Come, embrace me
And I will give you
A refrigerator
A nice scooter
A mixer
And a Dunlop pillow
A stove
With a glass oven
Heaps of forks and spoons
And pell' cakes

A tourniquette
To make vinaigrette
A nice exhaust fan
To blow out odors

Warm sheets
A waffle iron
An airplane for two
And we will be happy

Formerly it used to be
That when one quarreled
The air was left lugubrious
And the dishes left behind
Now, what is it that you want
Life is so precious
One says: return to your mother's home
And one keeps everything
(Ah! Gudule) (Ah! Gudule)

Say you're sorry
Or I'll take everything.
My fridge
My cabinet with spoons
My iron sink
And my poêl 'oil (?)
My cire-godasses (?)
Mon repasse-limaces (?)
My ice stool (?)
And my hunting-knife (?)

The tourniquette
To make the vinaigrette
The trash compacter (?)
And coupe-friture (?)

And if the beautiful one
Shows rebellion again
On the sheet outside
Is her fate entrusted

With the fridge
With the duster
With the stove
With the bed, always made
With the warm slippers
With the potato cannon (?)
With the éventre-tomatoes (?)
With the skin-on chicken (?)

But very very soon
One receives a visit
Of a small gesture
Who offers you the heart

Then one yields
Because it's best that one helps oneself
And one lives like that
Until the next time

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine tableau

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Hope it's full of delectable things.

The chocolate is available by mail order, if you don't live in the Cities. It's wonderful stuff.And the yarn is handspun Sock Hop in the Pretty Woman colorway.

Speaking of pretty women...

Sorry, one-of-a-kind Valentine doll, not available for purchase. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A matter of metaphor

I've been reading Steven Pinker'sThe Stuff of Thought these last couple of months, and finding it fascinating. Despite the comic strips and Seinfeld references, it is not an easy read. I skipped ahead to the chapter on curse words- which is really fun. Now I am back to the chapter on metaphors.

The metaphor for today might well be "burning the candle at both ends." Work (the paid kind) is getting busy, and there aren't too many breaks in the full-time mommy job. Did I bite off more than I can possibly chew? Today I had a client call scheduled for 2.00 p.m. I figured I could make this work, since that's the time I put Mowgli down for her afternoon nap. Then the meeting gets moved to 1.30. I'm a bit anxious, but I think, well, we'll see. I put her down for her morning nap at 10.45. She usually sleeps an hour, an hour and a half at most. 1.20 p.m. She's still asleep! Maybe she'll sleep through the call. I gently shut the office door, turn the volume down on the baby monitor and dial in. And I hear Mowgli wake up. We go through our call and I ask some pertinent questions and jot down notes. I can hear the crying in the next room- Where the @#$%^& is Mommy?!! I have the phone on mute. I hope the client won't go round and round in circles as she's prone to. Thankfully we are done by 2.00. My poor Mowgli- she's starving. I scoop her out of her crib and mumble my apologies. She's a good natured baby. All is forgiven.

I am considering daycare for a couple of days a week- it'll do us both good. On days like this I think I'm crazy for trying to do it all. And then I remind myself how good I have it. I have a job I like, with a boss who lets me do my own thing. I have a career. I get paid reasonably well. I have a 30 second commute. I have a great husband who walks in the door each evening and takes over baby duty. I get to hang out with my little Mowgli all day- watch her laugh out loud as I wiggle my toes, see her scoot backwards, giggle with her as she pulls tissue after tissue out of the box, hear her chant dadadadaadada with the utmost concentration. I get to hold her whenever I want and smother those chubby cheeks with kisses. A lot of working moms would give an eye tooth to have what I have.

So I'm changing the metaphor. I'm going to go with "having my cake and eating it too."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Poetry Friday: Valentine Edition

For today's Poetry Friday we turn to a most splendid bugger, W.H. Auden. Here are two poems about love.

O Tell Me The Truth About Love

Some say that love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pajamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway-guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
it wasn't ever there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

Funeral Blues
A beautiful scene from a lovely film. It still brings a lump into my throat every time I watch.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Do space cadets wear black ankle boots?

The short answer is "Yes, some of them." For the long answer, get your coffee and pull up a comfy chair.

A couple of Sundays ago, Amy threw a most excellent knitting party. With cranberry salsa, Hungarian wine, and door prizes. Really, how can you go wrong with good food, wine, and knitters? Fabulous photos, courtesy Deb, are here. I had a lovely time. At 4 p.m. I could see my husband's face in the clock, so I bid my adieus, retrieved my black ankle boots, and chatted away with Amy at the door- suggesting she do potluck next time so I could bring Indian food, etc. etc. I go home, take off the boots and think, wow, these could use some polishing. So I pull out the kit and polish them. Something is weird but I can't quite figure it out. Anyway, the baby calls, I'm busy, the evening flies by.

The next day I see an email with the subject line- "Boots!" I don't recognize the sender, and this seems like spam. Still, I'm curious. So I open it and find it's a message from poor Maria. See, it turns out I had run off with her boots! I feel really silly, and then I find it really funny. Maria was very gracious about it, though I gather she was quite perturbed- the boots being a gift, and all. She had to go home in borrowed clogs. I assure Maria it was an honest mistake, and this evening she will finally have her boots back by way of Amy.

I know you want a photo. I won't disappoint.

At left, Maria's boots; at right, mine. Both are black leather ankle boots with side zips, size 7.5. I think you can see if someone wasn't paying attention, how this could happen! In my defence, I don't wear those boots often. And I didn't wear them all last season, since I was pregnant and only wearing flats.

Why do I still feel like a ditz, though? It's like my brain turned to mush during pregnancy and has stayed that way, lo, these many months later. Please tell me it gets better!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Well, today's the day they've been talking about for weeks- when 24 states will vote or caucus to decide who will face off in November. This will be the first time I am eligible to caucus, and I plan to go.

Here's my collection of political buttons:

Pretty obvious where my loyalties lie, huh? I'm pretty happy to have a woman representing me in Congress, and another in the Senate. As for the Oval Office, I believe I will see one in my lifetime. It doesn't have to be in this election.

Today is a special day for me on a personal level too. On this date in 1999, I walked around the sacred fire and vowed to stay with my husband through sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, and all of that stuff not just until death do us part but for 7 lives. Eep, talk about commitment! It's a wonder any Hindus get married. :) It's been 9 years, and this anniversary is extra special because now we're not just a couple but a family.

I remember keeping the henna on my hands all night before the wedding, wetting it with a lime juice and sugar mixture. The longer you keep it on, the deeper the color; and the belief is that the deeper the color, the stronger the marriage. Normally I'm a rational being, but who isn't superstitious about weddings? So I kept the henna on, and couldn't take my contacts out. I had my hands and feet in plastic bags (to keep the henna moist), and needless to say I was pretty uncomfortable.

It was worth it, though. The color lasted a few weeks, and the marriage...I'm looking forward to our 50th. :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Poetry Friday

I hope you enjoyed last Friday's haikus. Isn't it marvelous how poetry can condense the loftiest of thoughts into a couple of lines? This tradition of "economical poetry" is not confined to Japan. A number of other cultures have a tradition of poetry in the form of couplets, where the entire sentiment is expressed in just a couple of (usually rhyming) sentences.

Today's poetry is couplets by Rahim and Kabir, two famous Indian Sufi saints. Their couplets, or "dohas" (literally, two line verses), are a standard part of the Hindi language curriculum in Indian schools.

As with all poetry, something is lost in translation, nevertheless their pithy wisdom and philosophical nature shines through. In true Sufi tradition, Rahim and Kabir also rejected ostentatious displays of religiousness and believed in the oneness of God.

Rahim's couplets always included his name in some form- Rahim says...

Rahim says, Don't discard the small things when you encounter big ones
After all, what use is a sword to do the work of a needle?

Rahim says, When a person possesses a lofty spirit, how can bad company harm him?
Though the snake drapes itself around the sandalwood tree, the sandalwood does not become poisonous.

Rahim says, Don't break the cord of love with a harsh tug
For once broken, it can't be mended; and a knot will always remain.

Kabir's background is unique in that he was born to Hindu brahmins but raised by Muslim weavers. To this day he embodies the secular spirit, and the name Kabir may be given to Hindu and Muslim boys alike. According to legend, when Kabir died, his Hindu and Muslim followers squabbled over whether to cremate or bury his body. When his shroud was removed, all they found was a mound of flowers. The Hindus cremated half and the Muslims buried the other half.

Kabir's couplets are sharply derisive of the caste system and established religion.

This world has gone to hell by reading so many books, yet nobody became a pundit (scholar).
The one who has read the 2 1/2 letters of love is the true pundit.
(The Hindi word for love, "Prem", consists of 2 1/2 letters)

Don't ask the wise man about his caste, ask him about his knowledge,
Do you judge the sharpness of a sword by looking at its scabbard?

If I could find God by worshipping this stone, why, I would worship a mountain!
Better than this stone idol is a humble millstone, for it feeds the world.

Look, they have gathered rocks and pebbles and built this big mosque
And the mullah inside is yelling at the top of his voice, has God become deaf?

Have a great weekend!