Thursday, December 30, 2010

the after-Christmas before-January-4th void

Santa has come and gone. Maybe you were lucky enough to get a quick shot of him climbing up the chimney for the kids who demanded "proof" this year:

The gifts have been opened and the torn wrapping paper cleaned out from underneath the couch.

Christmas dinner has been ingested and digested and flushed away, with a few cups of eggnog left in the fridge.

If you contributed to China's economy more than you really wanted to this holiday season and couldn't afford to take a vacation, you have now hit the void. The "Christmas break void" is one of the peaks of a parent's desperation throughout the year (not to rival summer break) to keep the kids busy so that they don't put ribbons and lipstick on the cats out of sheer boredom, but with no money to do anything.

I was able to dig up $20 from a dusty corner this afternoon to take the kids to an indoor family playroom. We did R/C car and helicopter racing, played fuss ball, pool and air hockey, and climbed through a treehouse.

The boy will be a pool shark by age 13 if I have my way
(after we positively ID the cue ball)

Because of poor planning, I wasn't wearing the right pants for the situation. They were jeans, but low riders that didn't allow for bending and crouching. It took a lot of coordinated movements and slick clothing readjustments in order to avoid flashing half the building from up in the air.

My kids spotted friends to play with, so I grabbed the nearest magazine and plopped down on a couch. Finally, a little me time while they were happy and occupied.

The magazine was La Vie Claire. I had never heard of it before, but it was full of gardening photos, so I couldn't put it down.

Lately I've been searching for worthwhile New Year's resolutions, not something thrown lazily together such as "exercise 3 times a week" or "shave my legs daily" (weekly maybe?).

One of the quotes in the magazine was "Do something creative every day." Am I sheltered or something, or do I just spend too much time reading the news? That quote had never passed my eyes before. But I am now making it my own. Resolution #1. Even if it's as simple as taking one photo, because I don't always have time to write.

When we finally returned home, my hands were shaking from a near-lethal cappuccino/Rice Krispie treat/Lucky Charms combination. Maybe that's why I decided to take this photo tonight:

I've been playing around and experimenting with the settings on my digital camera lately (forever an amateur), and I'm fascinated by how a slow shutter speed will make stationary lights gyrate and put them into motion, when in reality they are standing still.

I created this photo tonight, which I have named "Holiday Procession." The streaks are shaped like faces with torsos; the figures march forward two by two in both a somber and celebratory way. The context is yours to imagine.

The Christmas break void has turned out to be fruitful for me. I have gained a little direction for next year--to focus more on creating, rather than sitting for longer than I should as a passive participant of life behind my computer screen.

Now I just need to get up the will to pull out the Play Doh again so that my little ones can enjoy a bit of creativity too (perhaps I have a future fashion designer on my hands, since she has recently discovered that the mushy pink and blue glop adheres beautifully to her pants).

Monday, November 22, 2010

full moon over my house

Last night, I left work early because I've been fighting off the crud (Is this a Southern word? I learned it here.)

As I got out of my car and turned toward the house, the most beautiful scene was in front of me.

A jet contrail streaked across the sky beside the moon.

The full moon illuminated the details of the clouds, reminiscent of Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

There aren't many nights like this in late November.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

tomato with personality

This year I harvested several oddly-shaped tomatoes. Here's the strangest one of them:

I picked this guy while still green because the temperature outside had dropped below freezing, and some of the others on the vine were already starting to get soft spots. This might have happened because the blossom was set when the temperature was below 50 or so degrees. This was, in fact, a late season (October) tomato, and I picked it this month.

Either way, I'll take this little guy over any of those uniformly round and red and tasteless specimens in the grocery store!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a tampon story

Before I begin, allow me to divert my 6 loyal readers to an older entry of mine.

Please return after the next regularly scheduled posting. I
promise that it will be about something wholesome...(maybe :-))

I was recently given the opportunity to review a new tampon for a product opinion panel. Now, this seems a little awkward, in the sense that I can't really do that until I stick the thing inside of myself. Then there's the accompanying mess which is par for the course, and talking about it afterwards is a stretch for me. But look, here I go writing a blog about it.

I began my early days of tamponing with a personal cheering section.

My aunt stood outside of the bathroom door for an hour in her Wisconsin lake house basement to referee the entire fiasco, just so I could go swimming at 13. I ended up staying out of the water.

Many kids from my x'd-out generation were "encouraged" to become independent at an early age. Our parents were very busy working, getting divorced, and listening to Carly Simon, so we had to learn to fend for ourselves with a lot of things. Sex education in Chicago consisted of a 5th grade field trip to the Robert Crown Center for a 3-D movie that described adolescent changes in a comfortable level of detail, while the snickers and elbow nudges were kept to a minimum in the wake of hovering teachers.

One morning, sometime between the night I slept with stuffed animals and the night I wanted to sleep with something other than a stuffed animal, "Love and Sex and Growing Up" mysteriously appeared on my bedside table. It had two sections--reproduction of people and reproduction of animals. I spent the first year I owned it learning about the animals, which seemed way more interesting at the time.

My mother didn't say a word about the subject. A rumor went around in 4th grade that the new girl, who was already towering 2 feet above all of us, had gotten her period. Of course, then we all immediately started to as well.

I didn't have any idea what to do with the period supplies, but I was determined to have my period too, dammit. So I poked around in the bathroom cabinets until I found the bounty. One tampon and one maxi pad. I was set. I would be protected from then on.

I stuffed the supplies in my pocket and brought them out during bathroom break at school. My friends were in there, and I called over the 4-foot stall that I was bleeding. "Where? "I want to see!" Our voices surely echoed into the hall where the boys were standing.

The girls demanded proof, and I was ready for them. I pulled the adhesive backing off the pad and pressed the sticky side to myself. Then I laid the tampon in my undies.

"See," I boasted as I cracked open the stall door. They were impressed to see the clean tampon laying under the pad. I wasn't too thrilled when I had to pull the pad off of my skin after school, though. Luckily, there wasn't any hair down there at that age. I decided that I
never wanted to get my period. It was too painful!

Tampon incidents seem to be part of my life. I "lost" the tampon that I was supposed to review while I was at work, which is every woman's tampon nightmare.

I rushed back to the chair where I had just been sitting, terrified that I might find it strewn next to the hard drive on the floor.

Sent a frantic text message to my husband asking if he had seen it laying around the house.

Shook out both legs of my pants while making sure no one was about to come in the break room, just in case a bloody piece of tissue went flying.

I once went to the gynecologist to look for a misplaced tampon, but it was nowhere to be found. She told me that it had probably fallen out. Under no circumstances was I going back to the gynecologist at age 37 to have my hoo hoo searched again.

I whipped open my locker and dragged my bag off the shelf. There in the pocket was my silver ipod nano with its shiny and reflective backside, a perfect mirror. In the dark bathroom stall, I couldn't see much of anything (I'll spare you the details, and by the way, ipods do make excellent mirrors if you ever need one in a cinch. Cosmopolitan magazine can quote me on that.)

I never did find the tampon. Six months later I seem to be fine and without signs of death-bringing infection, so it must've been another case of "it slipped out." I guess this is what happens after you've delivered three 8-pound-something babies.

It's past time for someone to invent a tampon with a GPS or homing beacon. This could turn into a very real public health problem for many women, and as a healthcare provider, perhaps I should lead the way. Needless to say, I gave a decent review, since I really liked the pretty packaging. :-)