Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Doo-Da, Doo-Da

(Sung to the tune of  "Camp Town Races")

Mom’s gone crazy yes she has
Doo-da, doo da
She can’t wait for the night to pass
Oh, de doo-da day

Hand the mom a beer,
Hand her one real quick,
If you don’t she might just loose her mind,
Or beat you with a stick.

Her son was home from school today,
Doo-da, doo-da
TV and video games all day,
Oh, de doo-da day

But is the boy thankful?
Not even a little bit.
He stomped when she asked him to read his book
And threw a hissy fit.

Her middle girl was at a friend's today,
Doo-da, Doo-da
The first time these girls had ever played,
Oh, de doo-da day

I forgot to pick her up,
I failed to do my share,
She called on the phone to say "where are you?"
(Damn) Hang on and I'll be right there.

The baby is willful yes she is,
Doo-da, Doo da
She destroys the house in one minute,
Oh, de doo-da day.

She won’t listen to a word I say,
And runs around in the nude,
Will she go to bed tonight?
Nope, she’s not in the mood.

My house is trashed, crap’s on the floor,
Doo-da, Doo da
The kids don’t care and look there’s more,
Oh, de doo-da day

Why can’t the house be clean?
Why can’t they pick up their shit?
They’re happy as pigs in mud, it’s true
I don’t like it one little bit.

The laundry pile is five miles high,
Doo-da, Doo-da
I can’t keep up, even tho’ I try
Oh, de doo-da day

There’s clothes on the beds and floors,
And hung from the closet doors,
There’s still a clean basket from last week’s chores,
Oh, de doo-da day

Mom’s gone crazy it’s confirmed,
Doo-da, Doo da
She knows her family will never learn,
Oh, de doo-da day

Hand her another beer,
Who’s counting make it three,
With any luck she’ll go to sleep,
And dream quite peacefully.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kindle’s Not My Kind

Last night I went to my monthly book club meeting-our book this month being The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you’re looking for something great to read I highly recommend it. It’s the first of a trilogy by Stieg Larsson and I’m going out to get the second book today. I can't wait. 

Many of my bookclub members share books or check them out from the library. I choose to purchase my books for book club for a number of reasons. For one, I like to own the things I’ve read and it’s a great resource for my children (when they are older) or family and friends who happen to need a good book suggestion. I like the way the books fill up the shelves on either side of my fireplace, like that they remind me of a library and peace and quiet. I also like the feel of a book in my hands, the way the pages smell new when you fan them in front of your nose; the slick, clean cover, the slightly rough pages waiting to be turned. If nothing else, the books serve as a tangible reminder of time spent reading. Taking them back to the library or returning them to a friend leaves me feeling like I’ve got nothing to show for the hours I devoted to the characters while ignoring my family. The books are proof positive that I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. I also purchase books to support the author, for the time it took to create that story, edit and revise. I don’t have lattes every day, don’t have acrylic nails, and don’t have a gym membership. The least I could do is drop $15-$20 a month on a book that supports the author and my local bookstore. A part of me also hopes that it will come back around someday when I publish my own book. While I support public library efforts, that wouldn’t exactly help pay my bills. Writers have bills too you know.

A few of our book club members are proud owners of Kindles and now download their books to read. Personally, you won’t see me owning a Kindle anytime soon unless they can figure out a way to make it look like, smell like, and feel like a book. I doubt the creators will go to all that trouble when I could just go out and buy a book the old-fashioned way. There is something impersonal about the nature of a Kindle, the first being it doesn’t have that new-page smell. You can’t fan it’s pages, or gasp at the thickness of the book and wonder how you’re ever going to get through it, or see the thin binding and know you’ll have it read in 5 hours flat. There’s no pretty cover design to look at when you download Kindle stories, which probably puts a cover designer somewhere out of work. Kindles also don’t allow you to pass down your most cherished, beloved stories to your children after you kick-it. Books they can hold in their hand and imagine you holding in your hand, whose dog-eared pages, scuff marks, stains, and underlined passages give them a glimpse of how much you loved the story line, the characters, or the setting. I have books from grandparents on my shelves, usually with some tribute to a holiday or personal thoughts written on the inside cover. You can’t write on a Kindle. And you can’t dog-ear your favorite pages. And I can imagine that sharing a word file with your brother or sister after mom or dad dies, doesn’t produce the same amount of emotional connection an old-fashioned book does.

Reading text on a printed page also gives me a break from reading text on a computer screen. I sit at the computer reading, typing, editing, researching, and revising words on the screen for many hours a day. When evening comes, or when my eyes start burning, reading books gives my brain a break from the virtual, back-lighted print I read constantly. It also makes me feel like I’m not at work anymore.

Another problem with the Kindle is that you can’t leave it on the back of the toilet, or in a basket filled with other quick reading materials for time on the commode. It’s just not practical. Sure you could read it while doing your business, but it can’t reside there in the bathroom for others to use and enjoy. And you’ll probably be worried about it falling into the toilet or getting damaged from shower condensation. On the other hand, if a paper book falls into the toilet, no big deal. It’s a $15 replacement.

Here are some other problems with Kindle as I see it:
-Authors can’t sign your Kindle.
-The phrase “Don’t judge a Kindle by its cover” doesn’t make any sense.
-You also couldn’t say, “I’m going to have a cup of tea and curl up with a good Kindle.”
-Blind people can’t use a Kindle.
-You can’t use cute bookmarks with your Kindle.
-Your Kindle could crash, deleting your entire library. My books will still be on the shelf.
-Flipping a page is quicker than hitting a button and waiting for the page to appear.

As technology becomes more advanced I find myself becoming more old-fashioned. I still do not text. I do not own a Kindle. I certainly do not have a hands-free phone device to use while driving. I understand the need for our society to progress, but there is something beautiful about a shelf full of books, that a list on a computer screen just can’t replace. I know that someday books may be obsolete, but for now I’m happy to walk into a library and surround myself with that historical, papery, musty, book smell; run my fingers down their spine and dream about what those pages contain. It incites in me a feeling of nostalgia that a Kindle just can’t kindle.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yo! Mr. Gabba Gabba

Dear Parker Jacobs,

I’d like to thank you for posting a comment on my blog for two reasons: 1) I appreciate your feedback and behind-the-scenes information, and 2) it has provided me another blogging opportunity since blogging this frequently has left me a little on the dry side of creativity. I hope you don’t mind my making this letter more public--it’s kind of what I do. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve written to Christine Alaniz, a Dodge van designer, the Allergan R&D Department, and of course Santa. The only one I’ve ever heard back from was Santa because Santa is good like that.

I apologize for insinuating that you (the designers) were drug users. You being LDS and all, I can understand how you might take offense. Not that I haven’t known my share of LDS friends who “dabbled” in mind-altering substances when I lived in Arizona, but as you stated, you do not. I stand corrected. I also can appreciate the time it takes to create this show (“garbage” I think is how I put it…) because it takes my son WEEKS to create a project for school with a piece of foam board, some markers, and a pile of construction paper, and he’s not even taking that thing live.

I do stand firm in my opinion that Gabba Gabba lacks more obvious threads that tie segments together and that DJ Lance is a little unrelatable. My kids have never even heard of Mork and Mindy nor have any idea about the 60's and 70's which would be the type of prior knowledge they would need to appreciate Lance’s outfit and outrageousness. After having taught first, second, and third grade, I agree that the different colors, shapes, sizes etc. make your characters interesting to look at—but that’s about it. Honestly, us parents just don’t get it. I’m fully aware we’re not your target audience but you need some degree of parent-buy in to make me want to put your show on the tube. If it’s one more thing in my life that gives me a headache, chances are good I’m going to pass it up and suggest Dora, Barney, or Olivia. My good friends did feel it prudent that I mention that my almost three-year old daughter asks for “Gabba Gabba” when she is over at their house, although I’ve never heard her request it around me. So you do have a fan in our home even if I’m reluctant to encourage it.

Now let's address Muno. You’re killing me with the story about your brother, which suddenly makes my joke appear cold and insensitive. A partially bind brother drawing one-eyed self-portraits as a child is image enough to elicit a sobbing response from the Grinch himself, and I find it a nice tribute to your brother to incorporate this secret family history into this character. I’d venture to guess that the majority of the general public has no idea about this homage to your brother and putting one eye on a red, bumpy, phallic symbol is a huge oversight, LDS or not. The obvious one-eyed character should have been Plex because robots are robots and much more accustomed to having one eye. Even Brobee could have pulled it off with the added benefit of his unibrow being that much more pronounced.

And call me a feminist, but Foofa is a sad role model for girls. My 9-year-old daughter takes karate, plays basketball, can wrestle her brother to the ground and with any luck, my three year old will be just as strong. Foofa is all things stereotypic: pink, whiny, soft-spoken, and “moody” according to the Yo Gabba Gabba Nick Jr. Website. Her character isn’t a role model I’d like my daughters to emulate because the last thing I need around my house is more whining. It seems like your group of designers went out of their way to think outside the box with the other characters and yet Foofa isn’t all that creative. Maybe you could have her attend an assertiveness training session in one of the segments, where she learns how to stand up for herself and practices talking in a normal voice. Maybe she could even wrestle Plex and win. That would make for good Gabba Gabba.

But of course, these are all just suggestions and musings from your average, run-of-the-mill, suburban mom and nothing you should take personally. This probably isn’t the best time to plug myself, but if your group of friends need more suggestions or ideas for this show or new ones you may have in the pipeline, I’m incredibly available. As a freelance writer, former teacher, and mom of three, I have plenty I could bring to the table, and I promise not to crack any more jokes about drug use. Keep up your work because it’s obvious plenty of people love the Gabba idea, even if I find it all a bit….weird. But I have gotten two blog posts off it so that’s somethin’.

Warm regards to your children, family, cousins, friends, and of course your partially blind brother,

Rachel Vidoni
Mom and Self-Appointed Childrens Programming Critique-er Extraordinaire

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gabba Garbage

I’m probably going to offend some people with this blog. If you are one of those people, I apologize in advance. Blogging everyday (or every other day) has required me to be extremely creative in where I look for material and today’s blog inspiration comes to you from the fabulous programmers at Nick. Jr.

I’m not sure how many of you have ever watched the so-called children’s program called Yo Gabba Gabba, but it has to be THE most inane kids show ever to hit the boob-tube. There have been shows in the past that may not have been particularly “quality” (Teletubbies) but this Yo Gabba Gabba really is more like Yo Crappa Crappa.

It’s the only kids show I’ve ever seen where being on an acid trip would actually be a benefit—and clearly something the designers and developers of this show were doing when they created it. I forced myself to watch part of an episode (I just couldn’t make it through an entire show) attempting to try and understand it. I’m a teacher. I have a graduate degree. You would think that I could pull some meaningful tidbit out of a thirty minute segment. Nope. I got nothing.

Far as I can tell, DJ Lance Rock landed on this planet back in the late 70’s with Mork from Ork, although I never remember him in any of the shows. Perhaps Mindy learned her lesson with Mork and hid DJ Lance a little deeper in the attic. I’m pretty sure that the shiny space-age body suit DJ Lance wears hasn’t come back into vogue since, and for good reason. One thing is certain, he was definitely in the band back on Ork because he brought his fuzzy orange Q-tip hat with him to this planet. He probably played the buffoon. Excuse me, I mean bassoon. And what about this guys future? Is being DJ Lance really a great resume builder? Who is this guy and what other shows passed him up before he was offered this classic role? Would no one else wear the hot-to-trot Elton-John designed body suit?

The other characters on this abysmal kid’s show are par for the course with DJ Lance. Names like, Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex, and Toodee, (seriously?) give rise to the question as to who let the pre-language one year old name the characters, or more plausibly, that these names were a result from a game of drunken Scrabble gone bad.
“Toooo Oh’s, tooo E’s, and a D and a T.”
(Laughing hysterically…) “Whoa man, thalikeshpells ‘Toodee!’ Thawoodbeuhkilluhname for acahtooncharacuh!”
(They’re inebriated here in Boston.)

Not only did the drunken brainstorm continue, but they obviously served the producers "special brownies" when they shared their idea because somehow this show ended up on Nick Jr. Not on the local programming station as you might suspect, but a real-live big-time network with advertisers. Sometimes the stupidity of people still amazes me.

So, who are these Yo Crappa Crappa characters? Well, Brobee is some kind of sasquatch cross pollinated with a stick of green fruit stripe gum. His mouth is either freakishly smiling, or when badly edited, freakishly frowning. And he has no neck. I feel like he should be adorning the floor of some retro chic’s college dorm room. Foofa, the pepto pink, squishy tear drop? melted mallow? is a sorry representation of females everywhere with her super soft, whiny-whispery voice. It’s obvious she uses Latisse, because her eyelashes are very thick, dark, and doe like. (She may even dabble in Botox, but this is pure speculation.) Basically when I see her on the TV I want to squish her little body between two graham crackers out of repulsion. The Brawny commercial then plays in my head, “Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy..”

Plex is the least bizarre out of everyone, being a robot and all. He looks like a robot. Acts like a robot. This I can live with. I still think he’s dumb, but at least his character makes sense. Toodee is some blue cat-dragon-walking-egg hybrid who also uses Latisse. Why a cat-dragon hybrid was a good idea I’m not sure. Perhaps the creators were playing off the dragon-donkey theme in Shrek III. That was funny. This hybrid is not. Last, but certainly not least is Muno. Muno deserves a blog all his own. I think some definite Freudian fantasies subconsciously played out in the creators mind when they created this one. I have two words for Muno: sex toy. I’m sorry but I’m calling it like I see it, and Muno is nothing if not a dead ringer for a product you’d find on the shelves of an adult shop next to the cherry flavored whipped cream and double A batteries. That fact coupled with the one eye in the middle of his stick (it’s not a head really) just leaves me feeling grimy. And I’m supposed to let my two year old watch him bounce around? Please. My kids have to be at least 9 before I start filling their heads with inappropriate images and lyrics. I mean subjects.

The characters are ridiculous, but what about the plot line? What about the theme? Yes, well, what about them? Because in twenty minutes I’m not sure there was anything linking the 15-second segments together. Here’s what I saw:
  • Life-size characters dancing around a badly drawn and painted cardboard set.
  • Life-size DJ Lance is yelling about his boom box.
  • Suddenly the characters are tiny and DJ Lance is looking down on them while they run around a construction paper set.
  • Whoa, suddenly there’s a human girl jumping rope. Now she’s gone.
  • Characters are life-size again and DJ Lance is little.
  • Whoa, another boy is suddenly on screen dancing. Now he’s gone.
  • DJ Lance is big again, watching the melted mallow and sex toy fight over a yellow slide. DJ Lance picks up the slide, it goes from being big in the scene, to being little in his hands.
 Honest to all that is good, the scenes changed so often I think I got a little show-sick. It clearly either caters to the four-and-under ADHD crowd or hopes to create more of them (maybe Adderall and Ritalin are sponsors of Nick Jr…. hmmmm, I might be onto something here). I finally changed the channel because a migraine started up from all the commotion and noise. I decided to cut my losses realizing that was 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

Suffice it to say I’m not letting my youngest watch this show. Sure I’ll let her listen to “Yady Gaga” as she calls her and we sing “Papparazi” in the car together. But I’m drawing the line at Yo Crappa Crappa. She’s too young to be introduced to psychedelic overly smiley men from Ork and one-eyed sex toys. Call me crazy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Highlights of My Day

  • Enjoyed a free pastry today at Starbucks, along with a grande half-caf, two-pump mocha latte.
  • Spent an hour and a half driving to my chiropractor appointment which lasted for 10 minutes. But well worth it.
  • Worked arms, shoulders, and abs in P90X after two week hiatus. I know, I know.
  • Spent some time on the computer working on various writing projects.
  • Did a couple loads of laundry.
  • Took a nap.
  • Made leftovers for dinner: homemade corned beef hash with fried eggs and toast. Super yummy.
  • Talked to my sister on the phone.
  • Got a new copy of Family Fun in the mail.
  • Surfed Facebook and my favorite blogs, including my own.
  • Periodically checked the sump pumps and lower level to make sure pumps were running and all was dry.

Things I didn't do today but should have
  • Vacuumed up hairy crap from all horizontal surfaces in every room.
  • Cleaned fetid bathrooms including molding tub grout.
  • Worked more on the writing jobs that are paying me.
  • Opened and organized the pile of mail from the past two weeks.
  • Cleaned off the hutch.
  • Read some more of my novel for bookclub.
  • Called my grandparents.
  • Visited sick neighbor in the hospital.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seven Haikus

Mold Inducer
Rain how you plague me
Seeping under my pergo
Causing me headache

Colored cotton piles
Litter my baseboards and floors
Soon we’ll all be nude

Bright Light
Craziness sets in
Fingers melded to laptop
Hours spent typing

Iced Perfection
My lemony tea
Covered in condensation
Filled with white sugar

Working Out
My limbs atrophy
Two weeks of not working out
Now starting over

Forfeit for forty
Preparing for Easter morn
No blogging daily!

Crazy Woman
My two year old is
Asking for Lady Gaga
Music while driving

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweet Rewards

This afternoon my son came bounding home after playing with his friend so I could take him to his batting and catching practice for the upcoming baseball season. Today was a gorgeous sunny day, my son had a sleep over last night, and he was tired and wanted to stay home. As I’m putting on my sunglasses, purse slung over my shoulder, my son starts moaning.

“Owwwwhhhww. My knee cap really hurts mom. Ohhhhuughhh owwwoouuhg.”
I’m at the top of the stairs. I have the keys in my hand. I have a glare on my face.
“Get up, you are going to baseball,” I say in my angry mom voice.
“Seeerrriousssly mom! My legs hurts so bad,,, OOOHHHH, there it goes again, my knee, my knee, my knee!”

Now these are the moments in my life where I always play the wrong card. Always. If he really is hurt, I’ll force him to go which will injure him further and scar him for life because I “never listen to him.” On the other hand, if I believe what he says about being totally incapacitated, his knee being on the verge of snapping like an ice covered twig and let him stay home, he’ll really be fine and just playing me, which will reward the behavior and he’ll do it again. I’m screwed either way.

I perform my due diligence and inspect both knees. I push on one. I push on the other. One definitely feels squishier. One does look a tad swollen. Crap. Maybe his knee cap really is hurt. I decide to do what all good moms do: go ask my husband.

His advice? Take him to baseball. Tell him to be easy on it, he’ll be fine. This way when I break the news to my son, I can say, “Dad said to take you and you’ll be fine.” This alleviates a bit of my guilt since I didn’t really make the last call. I walk upstairs to tell my son and offer to give him some ibuprofen to ease the pain. (I am not above drugging my children if they think it will help them.)

He’s whining. He’s moaning. I’m getting fed up because we are going to be late to practice and I was planning on dropping him off and running to Home Depot. He’s starting to screw with my errands.

“You’re going to be fine,” I say. The medicine will help you feel better and you can ice it on the way to practice. You just tell the coaches if your knee cap is hurting too badly.”
“Can I have a bag of Skittles when practice is over?” He asks.
“Sure,” I reply.

And like Lazarus rising from his death bed, my son stands up, grabs his glove and bat, and walks down the steps to the car. It’s an absolute Skittle miracle.

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths children will go to for a piece of candy. My daughter will carry my son’s trumpet home from the bus stop for a single Jolly Rancher. When I was teaching I could get 26 second graders to suck the carpet spotless with their milk straws for a candy corn. I’ve gotten my two year old to pick up all the toys in the living room for a frozen ice pop. For two ice pops she’d probably dust the baseboards.

What happened to the reward system of my youth? “Do it because I said so!” or “You’ll do it or else!” or even “If you don’t do this right now, you’ll be sorry!” What happened to those motivational quips? I can tell you if I said any of those to my children attempting to get them to perform some sort of task, they would stare at me expressionless. What did she just say to us? They’d think. Is she trying to use rhetoric to get us to perform like monkies? We only work for cold, hard, candy.

I’m sure the pendulum started its backswing when moms everywhere began giving their children M&M’s for going pee-pee and doodie on the potty. Frantic that Prince and Princess wouldn’t be ready for pre-school, parents everywhere panicked and introduced the candy store to the bathroom—resulting in a funky Wonka-porcelain vibe. At the ripe old age of two, our children began to associate performing an action with sweet rewards and just like the apple in the Garden of Eden (from a grafted tree mind you), the rest is history. Don’t look so righteous. You know you’ve done it.

Wouldn’t it be great if candy continued to be such a motivator throughout life? Can you imagine what would get done in the house with a bag of your husband’s favorite candy snack?
Wife: “Oh Huun-nnie!” (in sing song voice)
Husband: “Yes, dear?”
Wife: “Could you please hang the wall mirror over the mantle in the living room and rearrange the furniture when you are done? I have some Milk Duds for you!” (in sing song voice rattling the box over her head.)
Husband: “Absolutely! No problem! If you throw in some Junior Mints I’ll sand and refinish the hardwood floors while I’m at it!”
Wife: “Why Dear! I have a box of those too!”

Or how about in the workplace:
(Setting: a company meeting)
Boss: “Okay ladies and gentlemen. I need to have two volunteers work all night doing research for our newest client and type up a 450 page report on the strategy they feel would be best going forward, and I’ll need this information on my desk by 8:00 tomorrow morning. Guuuesss whhhattt I’ve goootttt?” (Pulls from behind his back…)
“A box of Rasinettes and Lemonheads for the lucky volunteers!”
Group: (All hands raised at once) Me! MeMe! MeME! Me!

If adults were as motivated by candy as children we could restructure the world in about a week. Find a cure for cancer. Establish world peace. But alas. We grow up and candy is no longer the motivator that is was. Oh sure, a few women will do some crazy things for a box of high quality dark chocolates, but beyond that, candy’s lost its joie de vivre. Maybe it’s because we are suddenly in control of it. Our parents are no longer in charge of the candy cabinet and we do not have to ask permission. Once you can purchase the stuff yourself anytime you want it, it’s no longer interesting.

Well, for now I’m going to ride this locomotive until the tracks run out and the conductor tells me to get my butt off the train. Don’t bother giving me any psycho-babble about "natural rewards" for everyday tasks. After a grueling weekend my house is completely trashed. I have a whole cabinet of leftover Valentine’s Day candy and three willing candy goblins asleep in bed. It’s gonna be a great week.

(Cue Music: “Good day sunshine….good day sunshine…..good day sun shine…”)

Friday, March 19, 2010

It Wasn't a Writing Day

I'm going to share something very special with you. This is for two reasons: for one I'm totally out of time and energy to start a brand new subject tonight, and two, tomorrow it may be difficult to post as my day is so scheduled that chances are good I won't even have a chance to use the restroom. That's the kind of week and a half I've been having.

What follows is the first children's story I wrote. Yes, I had dreams of gradeur that this may in fact, be an actual book someday. And it still might. For now it's just gathering dust in my cyber files, so I figured it would be a good time to pull it out and call it a post. For any of you who might read this and think the story is so fabulous you in fact want to use the whole story as your own, a word of caution. Just because something doesn't have a copyright date on an inside cover page doesn't mean it's not copyrighted. Just so you know.

I'm curious what you all will think and would love to hear any feedback you might have. What worked for you and what didn't. If it was trite. Stupid. Or if you did like it. You can put that too. Of course that's going to require all my lurking fans to actually leave a post. Go on. I dare ya.

It Wasn't a Writing Day
By: Rachel Vidoni

Genevieve loved going to school. She loved her teacher Ms. Macintosh, the big red tire swing and the colorful counting rug her class sat on before lunch. She even loved the cafeteria green beans. But most of all, Genevieve loved to write.

Everyday at 1:45, her class had writing time. Genevieve always had something to write about. Once she wrote about the time her brother flushed her dolls head down the toilet. She wrote about how her cat threw up a horny toad on her mother’s foot while her mother was wearing sandals. She had written about her pet tarantula Harry, her new apple scented lipgloss and her grandmother’s false teeth. But today wasn’t a writing day.

It just wasn’t. The air was still and there weren’t any clouds in the sky and nothing exciting happened on the morning bus. She thought Billy Martin was going to bring one of his pet amphibians to school. He always had some type of lizard or frog hidden in his pocket or lunch box. But today, nothing. Not even a gecko.

When Genevieve got to school nothing exciting happened either. Ms. Macintosh took roll. Everyone was here. She took lunch count. Everyone wanted to buy. They said the pledge and sang the National Anthem and noboby, not even Roberta Parkins messed it up. And she always messed it up.

Yep, Genevieve thought to herself, It just isn’t going to be a writing day.

After lunch she thought her luck might have changed when the Principal Mrs. Rodgers announced that all the popsicles were out and there wouldn’t be any for sale. That would have been a good story! The whole school would have been in an uproar! But the school secretary, Mr. Bill, informed everyone he had found one more box behind some frozen chicken nuggets, so the sale would go on as usual. Everyone was happy except for Genevieve. Sorry ‘ol Mr. Bill. What did he know anyway?

After lunch Genevieve’s class always had story time. Ms. Macintosh read a book about a boy who had an awful day and wanted to move to Australia. I’d like to go with him, thought Genevieve. Maybe there is something exciting to write about Down Under.

When story time was over, everyone went back to his or her desk for daily journal time. Genevieve thought and thought, and no matter how hard she tried to make something up, no thoughts would come to her. It simply wasn’t a writing day.

Ms. Macintosh noticed Genevieve’s plunked head on her desk. “What’s wrong Genevieve? Why aren’t you writing?”
“It isn’t a writing day,” Genevieve moaned. “Nothing exciting happened all day long, and I looked for exciting things, I really did.”
“You have to be inspired,” Ms. Macintosh said. “You have to use your imagination.”
“I tried,” Genevieve whined. “There isn’t a breeze today or anything, and Billy Martin didn’t bring any frogs in his pocket.”
“I can see how that might be a problem,” her teacher said.
“And everybody wanted to eat hot lunch and Roberta Parkins didn’t even mess up the pledge and song today.”
“Yes,” said Ms. Macintosh, “She remembered all the words, didn’t she?”
“And just when I was going to write about the school running out of popsicles at lunch, Mr. Bill found some.”
“You can always count on Mr. Bill,” Ms. Macintosh added.
“See?” Genevieve said. It’s not a writing day at all! I can’t think of a thing!”
“Yes you can,” Ms. Macintosh said. “You just told me a great story.”

Ms. Macintosh got up and walked over to Sandra Grape who was eating her crayons again. Purple was her favorite flavor.

Genevieve thought and thought about what her teacher had said. She opened up her journal.

Page 7, April 12.
Dear Journal,
Today wasn’t a writing day. The air was still and there weren’t any clouds in the sky and nothing exciting happened on the morning bus today…

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome Back Spring. It's About Damned Time.

Well, I'm hesitant to say that spring has arrived because you never know when we're going to get hit with another snowstorm. More rain scheduled for next week, so if you haven't read my sump pump post, you'd better. But the weather has warmed up, my garden is just yearning for the seeds that still have not arrived from the organic seed company, and I broke out the grill tonight. Yes, even on a weeknight. We had steak and pork fajita burritos. So delicious. There is something about the smell of meat and onions grilling that makes me want everyday to be Saturday. I even celebrated the evening with a Dark and Stormy. Yes, even on a weeknight. Most especially on a weeknight.

Here's a quick tour of the latest plants popping up around the yard. If you're reading this in AZ, I know you have had things blooming and growing for months now. But I'll be able to post my June and July vegetation while yours turns a crispy brown. It's a trade off.

My yellow dwarf lillies. Although the term dwarf is to be used loosely. These suckers have gotten thick and bushy in the last two years. Might be time to divide them. And I wonder if they take offense to the term "dwarf." Isn't the PC term these days "little person?" (As in, Big World?) Or "person of small stature?"
Little Person Lilles. Person of Small Stature Lillies. Nope. I'm sorry. I like Dwarf Lillies the best.

My Coreopsis. Such a beautiful deep yellow perennial. I'm a big fan of perennials because it's a great bang for your buck. Pay once, and it comes back again, and again, and again. Too bad shopping isn't like that.

Oh Hyacinth. How I love you. How I wish my children's feet smelled like you. How I wish everything in my stinky, smelly house, especially the bathroom, smelled like you.

Last, but certainly not least, my chives. The creeping thyme is coming in behind it but that dried brown stuff on the right is my oregano. I'm not sure if that is going to resurface this year. I may have killed it over the winter. Although I have dried oregano in my cupboard....maybe I could just dig it up, dust it off, and crumble it in my tomato sauce. Do you think anyone would notice?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Johnny Appleseed’s a Liar

Okay. My apologies. Since Lent started I’ve fallen off the wagon (as my neighbor puts it) twice now. On two days, you my valued reader, did not see a new post when you logged on. I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again, but since I’m sure there are times you fail to log on to read me everyday, I’m happy to call it even. Tho’ the fact that you know when I fall, but I don’t know when you fall isn’t quite fair. I suppose that makes mom right about life. (It isn’t fair.)

Last night I attended a lecture on…wait for it….tree fruit gardening. It went over the finer points of growing fruit trees, different types of pests, fungus, and disease that destroy fruit crops, and how to go about growing healthy, productive fruit bearing bushes and trees. I was surprised by the number of people who attended (maybe 40), figuring that maybe it’d be me and a couple retirees in their 70’s. The gentleman that gave the talk was a master gardener at fruit growing, having worked for the Plymouth County Cooperative Extension for over 40 years, not to mention having an enormous backyard and fruit crops of his own his entire life. The fact that he was 84 was encouraging, especially since his recommendation for caring for apple and pear trees consists of spraying them with chemicals and oil every two weeks from before bud bloom until right before harvest. Apparently eating, spraying, and breathing those chemicals for 84 years has only acted as a preservative, ‘cause he looked pretty good. Except for the small fact that as the evening went on he would forget the names of the disease, or the pests, or the chemical used to combat it.

Him: “And here’s a slide of some apples that have been damaged…oh what’s the name of that….it’s that one called….see those marks there….see how there are brown spots right there….well, hmmm… I can’t remember it, but there it is…a damaged apple.”

I’m not trying to make fun of him (I have grandparents too), but for those of us taking notes, knowing what exactly the disease was called would have been helpful. (Question to self: “Forgetfulness a result of age or chemical inhalation?” hmmm…)

I’ll skip the rest of the meeting which was informative, but not as much as it could have been. At the end of the slideshow, they opened it up for questions. I asked about pruning large established fruit trees, others asked about fertilizing your blueberries, and still others asked about cherry flies, maggots, and winter moth. I live a very exciting life.

Then I raised my hand to ask—what apparently was—a stupid question.
“So when you were establishing your orchard, did you always order your trees from a nursery, or did you ever grow them from seed?”

His face lit up with a smile like he just heard a bathroom joke from his 5-year old great granddaughter and he laughed, “You don’t grow apple trees from seed! You graft them. No, no. Not from seed.” And he’s still chuckling and a few others in the group from the Traditionalist Generation are chuckling and elbowing each other as if to imply, “What a cute question! Apple trees grown from seed! HaHaHa!”
I was waiting for someone to come up to me and pinch my cheeks, exclaiming “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!”

So. Apple trees are not grown from seed, they are grafted. They had to have come from seed at some point, didn’t they? Are all the apple trees in the whole world some grafted descendent from the first apple tree ever? And did God just plunk down that apple tree along with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? I don’t remember any biblical stories on how the apple tree got there, just that it caused a lot of trouble once it did.

And what about Johnny Appleseed? According to the canon of American folklore, good ‘ol Johnny spread his seed across the country (apple seed that is—get your minds out of the gutter). Did he really go grafting his trees from coast to coast, but since it’s hard to illustrate a vagrant boy carrying lots of sticks and a pocket knife and much easier to illustrate a bag of seeds needing no weapon, did they change the story line?


Johnny Appleseed was either a liar, his publicist was a liar, or the very knowledgeable man giving the talk last night is a liar. I don’t know what the answer is, but maybe someone will shed light on the subject for me next Saturday, when I attend my second lecture on…wait for it….pruning fruit trees.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blue Kangaroo

      Image taken from

What do you do with a blue kangaroo
That’s grumpy and grouchy and cross?
He’s always displeased and sits banging his knees
He wants to be his own boss.

What do you do with a blue kangaroo
Who constantly sees the glass empty?
Who whines and maintains how he never gets gains
The whole world is against him, tho’ he tries just the same
He sits rigid protesting that he’s really attempting
But all that he does is complain.

What do you do with a blue kangaroo
When you’ve got yourself two happy brown ones?
They’re not perfect by far, but they’re happy at heart
They do chores with a smile when the time comes.

They don’t snarl and grouse, pitch a fit, stomp around
They are generally easy to talk to.
When they do get upset, a quick talk that is it
Then the singing and dancing continues.

What do you do with a blue kangaroo
Whom you love so much you can’t stand it?
When you fish for a smile you’ve not seen in awhile
Or prod for a talking without all his balking
Lamenting the years when you’d safely dry tears
Or sing lullabies without fear of his gawking.

Is it age? Is it phase? Is it pre-teenage rage
That gets him so worked up and mis’rable?
I don’t have solutions just one-way locutions
My attempts have resulted abysmal.

I miss the blue kid who would ride in my pouch
With a merry and fun disposition
Who would snuggle up close for catnaps on the couch
And vie for his mother’s attention.

Has he gone? Disappeared? Will I not get him back
The way I fondly remember it?
Must I learn to accept the new ‘roo I have
Can my love and my patience endure it?

What do you do with a blue kangaroo?
With a sigh, I wish I could tell you.
Guess I’ll keep hugging and loving despite all his grudging,
Watching and praying that he always hops safely
Wishing and hoping his heart’s never broken,
I guess that’s just what all moms do.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

East Coast Water Cycle

When we first moved back East one of the things that was foreign to me was the concept of a “sump pump.” I always thought it was really supposed to be “sum pump” and the people back in these parts just pronounced it wrong. When we were looking for houses, our realtor would always take us down to point out the sump pump. Perhaps the house might have French drains and a sump pump, but it always had at least one of these.

Turns out a sump pump is more important than copper plumbing, updated electrical wiring, and not having termites. When you purchase a home back East, you’ll spend more time in the basement inspecting the sump pump and house drainage system than all other rooms combined. You might not have a fridge, stove, or running water, but dammit, that sump pump better be in working order.

I had no idea what this thing even was, except to say that when you fall in love with a property and then go downstairs to stare at a hole in the ground that actually has dirt in it, it’s a bit weird. It feels like the contractors forgot to finish a part of it, leaving this 3’x3’ hole in the bottom of your home. I’m thinking about bugs living in it. I’m thinking that there is soil exposure in my laundry room. I’m thinking I’d like to tile the thing over.

Not so fast, West Coast transplant. That little hole in the ground can save your home and all your worldly possessions if loved and cared for properly. Being from Arizona where the average rainfall is 7 inches a year and moving to Massachusetts where the average rainfall is 43 inches a year, I suppose you need to pay attention to where exactly the water is going. In Arizona you know that the water speckles the dirt long enough to leave a dusty smell in the air and that’s about it. You never worry that all this rain might be seeping under your Pergo flooring or leaving mold under your carpets. Pishaw. If there is any extra water anywhere you can be assured that the succulents and Saguaro cactus have sucked every last remaining drop from the earth like a thirsty sponge.

But here in greenville it’s been raining for about three days now. We eagerly listen for the song of the sump-back-whale kicking on and ejecting water back into our already saturated lawn. When the sound of silence greets us during a particularly heavy downpour, we go running downstairs to make sure water isn’t overflowing the sump pump well. Occasionally we fish for dinner. It’s one of the smaller sacrifices we face living back East. I’ll gladly deal with a visible hole in the earth next to my washer and dryer for the benefits of four seasons and a garden full of veggies.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Hairy Subject

Before we get started, what the hell is that crap? I’ve been fighting it back with a baseball bat and a long vacuum nozzle all day long and it’s clearly winning. This stuff plagues the corners of every step in this house, behind all my doors, along my baseboards—tuffs and tuffs of this hairy-linty-dusty concoction. It’s enough to make me gag. Speaking of gagging, this junk reminds me of dissected owl pellets from college—you know, after you’re done locating all the rodent skulls, femurs, and vertebrae from the little wad of gack, all that stuff you’re left with. Perhaps flocks of owls are sneaking into the house when I’m not home and yacking all over the house, but it’s doubtful. I could safely say however, if I were to root around in the linty hairy mess from my floors, chances are good I’d wind up with carnage of a different sort: dismembered Polly Pockets, leggo men with helmets, snap beads, and the occasional sock. I’m telling you, this stuff is thick.

I’ll admit (of course many of you already know this) that I don’t vacuum nearly as often as I should, perhaps once a week (who are we kidding.. more like every two weeks) but I don’t understand how this crap gets so deep. It’s only been two weeks. It’s not like my windows have been open and the nice spring breeze has brought in outdoor filament to settle on all horizontal surfaces. My windows have been out of commission, locked and shut since November for pete’s sake. As for the hair, I understand like all mammals we’re going to shed our share of it, which is going to land on the floor. But this amount makes it look like the entire family is molting. It’s truly ridiculous. What I didn’t photograph is what it looks like under our master bed. We’ve got hardwood floors and a king size bed and there is ample square footage under there that never sees the light of day. However, when I glanced down there this evening, I’m pretty sure I saw a Sasquatch asleep in his natural habitat.

One thing I always think is interesting is when people design or remodel their homes they always want hardwood floors. It’s so pretty! It’s so classy! It’s a great return on investment. It’s also a pain in the ass to keep up. Carpet Carpet Carpet people! Carpet hides this stuff so much better because there is a place for the crap to sink into. As you walk on it the crap sinks deeper, therefore it always looks cleaner. Hardwoods prevent the sinkage, and Sasquatch fibers float there on the surface gathering force and size until you are forced to use the vacuum. And you’ll be using it all the time.

Perhaps instead of trying to beat the hairy mess I need to embrace it. Change my thinking to focus on the positive aspects of having this hairy residue line every room of my house. Here’s what I came up with.
  • Family and guests won’t need to bring slippers because one walk around the house with damp feet automatically ensures a nice felt coating.
  • It will provide additional places to hide Easter eggs.
  • If I collect it for a few months I could knit the family matching sweaters for our Christmas letter.
  • It would be great for costumes at Halloween, like Abe Lincoln’s beard, Elvis’ sideburns, or Marge Simpson’s beehive.
  • I’m providing a natural habitat for all the dust mites that live there (dust mites are people too, you know).
  • I’m a great example of “being green” as no cleaners of any kind were used to eliminate it, and no electricity was used to suck it up.
  • Provides thought provoking, mentally stimulating discussion of science concepts like “suspension” and “anti-gravitational forces” as the kids and my husband discuss exactly how it can cling to vertical surfaces with virtually no support.
  • With a little glue and a chicken-wire frame, the kids could lint-mache a pet for themselves, one they can’t kill by not feeding it.
 That’s all I’ve come up with so far, but I’m off to a good start. I’m already feeling better about the rooms I haven’t vacuumed. It’s all about perspective. Just wait till our Christmas letter.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Necessity Is The Mother Of Profiteering

Last night my youngest daughter was awake intermittently from 11:30 p.m. on screaming and crying because her ears hurt. Since she was sleeping with me, I piggy-backed Tylenol and Motrin all night, getting some sleep in the rare hours where the medication overlapped. We are now out of Tylenol.

The doctor confirmed today what I had known, that she’s got two terrible ear infections—I think his exact words were, “Her ears look like hamburger.” Not a pleasant visual, but at least I know I’m not crazy.

This prompts a trip to our local drug store to purchase pain reliever, since my youngest sucks it down (with all her fevers) like it’s maple syrup. One of the things that bothers me is the amount of sugar in those bottles: the liquid is so saturated with granular action, it takes forever to flow out of the medicine spoon and when it does, it leaves a thick, grainy residue behind. Maybe I’ll start serving it to the kids over ice cream.

I’m always amazed at how much pain relievers cost. I suppose the makers of Tylenol and Motrin know that when your kid is in pain, no amount of money will keep you from purchasing their product—you simply want your children to shut up. I mean stop crying. I mean feel better. Yes, you really want them to feel better. So you fork over $8 or $9 bucks for a 4 oz bottle of flavored sugar (sorry again) medication because you have no choice. Which prompted me to think about other overpriced products I purchase because I need them NOW. Not in five days when I find a coupon. Not in a week waiting for the advertisements to come out. Not when I get paid, but NOW. This very moment, even if I have to use the credit card.

Pregnancy Tests
Now, I’ll admit it’s been some months since I used one, but last I checked the going rate for these was about $23.00. It probably costs about .54 cents to make these suckers since it’s a plastic wand with litmus paper (albeit special litmus paper). I’ve purchased more plastic than that from the dollar store and there is even markup on that. I suppose First Response and Clear Blue have employees, overhead, and benefits to pay out, but it seems a little unfair to make such a hefty profit based solely on the fact that I am teetering on the precipice of total life-change. When you need a pregnancy test you need a pregnancy test. Let’s be honest, sometimes you leave the store with one of every brand just to eliminate the potential for error. Sometimes you go back to the store and purchase one more of every brand because the results of the last ones were all the same, and you’re still not quite certain they are correct. No woman I’ve ever known has clipped pregnancy test coupons, or after “being late” says to herself, “You know, maybe it’s stress. I’ll wait another week or two. I bet those pregnancy tests will go on sale and then I’ll run and grab a couple. No biggie.” Because finding out if you are pregnant or not is a deal so big you’re willing to fork over the $23 bucks numerous times. Or until you're willing to admit to the results.

Yeast Infection Cream
Sorry to leave you out gentlemen, but this is for women only, so if you get squeamish reading about girlie issues you may want to pass this paragraph up. Having a yeast infection is something along the lines of having a raging fire in your “good girl” area, the likes that no amount of water could ever squelch. What gets us women into trouble is we doubt the onset of symptoms, hoping (praying) the uncomfortable feeling we’re experiencing is a result of too much sugar ingested, or our pants being a tad snug, or our panties riding up at unusual angles. When it comes to yeast infections time is not your friend and hoping it will go away is not an option. Yeast is yeast—bread, beer, or otherwise, and as the minutes tick by it expands exponentially causing millions of females worldwide to go running to their local pharmacies. We try to walk casually through the isles until we come to the land of “forbidden products” (because yeast infection medication and condoms are so similar), and try to act nonchalant as we discern if we want to wait overnight, three days, five days, or seven days until we feel like we don’t want to rip out our “good girl.” This medication is anywhere from $20-$35 dollars a box. This is also not one of those moments when women whip out a coupon they’ve clipped two weeks ago in hopes they might have a yeast infection and be able to save two dollars on medication. You do not ask the cashier if he or she knows when Monistat is going on sale. Need-profiteering at its best here ladies and gentlemen. We fork over the $35 dollars quickly and with a smile because we need to get home, apply, and lay horizontal for about 8 hours.

Tow Trucks
Welcome back gentlemen, no girly stuff in this paragraph.  It occurred to me that another place people are willing to fork over large sums of money without question is when they need to have their car towed. It's a service not a product, but one I have needed to utilize in the past year.The battery totally dies. A tire blows and you have no spare. The engine overheats because you failed to fill it with water and you’ve been driving up hill with the air conditioner on for three hours. These things happen and if you are anything like me, they happen with kids in the car and in extreme weather. Sure I have AAA, but even this isn’t much of a help. With my current $80 plan, I get three free miles of towing and pay for all the additional miles. My luck also is such that my vehicle will break down 45 miles from the nearest service station. Three free miles is a joke. But you make the AAA phone call, they tell you what your coverage allows and then inform you  that you can upgrade your plan for twenty more dollars which will include completely free towing. Well, okay sign me up. But you can’t get that today, they tell you. You can order it today, but it won’t go into effect today because it takes a few business days to process the paper work. But just so you know, for the next time.

The next time? Yes, the next time I plan to have car troubles requiring me to need towing assistance I will make sure I call AAA and upgrade the $80 plan I don’t use all year to the $100 plan that gives me free towing. Sounds good.

The tow truck driver pulls up and you sign his papers. For all you know you’re signing that you’ll pay $25 a mile plus a case of beer and pack of cigarettes on arrival. And you don’t really care. It’s not like you’re going to say, “You know what, I think your towing prices are too high. I’m gonna call around while my children’s eyes roll back in their head from heat exhaustion, because darnit, I’m an American and I have choices.” And let’s face it, an eleven, nine, and two-year old can only push a minivan so far. You grab the credit card, pay the bill, and move on.

I know this is all part of life and I make up for the extra money I spend on emergency items by utilizing the double coupon events at my local supermarket. And there have been many times when Ben and Jerry's ice cream fell into the above categories because at the time I really needed Chunky Money NOW, and I was happy to pay $7 for three spoonfulls of ice cream. But I loaded my cart with Tylenol. We're all set for awhile. My AAA plan on the other hand is currently up for renewal.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting For Signs

One of my fondest memories of being a teenager was when I had finished loading all the dishes into the dishwasher, had wiped down all the counters, and was just about ready to announce myself finished, when in walked my father, arms and hands laden with glasses and cups of water from around the house. At the time, my teenage perspective was quite certain that he did this to spite me, piss me off, and otherwise prolong my chores just because he could. Being the perfect teen that I was, I did not huff, sigh, or shoot him dirty looks. I did not roll my eyes and silently wish I was adopted. No, I said, “Thank you Father. I appreciate your thorough collection of water glasses and I’m glad that we’ll be able to load these dishes to capacity so as not to waste these three precious tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap.”

Well, maybe I didn’t say all that. But I remember that this little dance happened more than once, me just about ready to finish up the dishes, and him, walking into the kitchen with more.

Now that I’m adult, I can see that not only was the chocolate sniffing gene passed down to me and my children, but so was the water collecting gene. To fully illustrate what I mean, I put together a little photo gallery for you. This is what I found in one afternoon:

These are in the downstairs bedroom. No one has slept down here in about thee weeks.

I'll admit, these are mine. They are in the windowsill because my daughter's don't have nightstands. Yes, I sleep in my daughter's room. It's another blog.

My son's sports collection.

These belong to my husband.

These colorful glasses belong to my middle girl. I appreciate that she coordinated them to her room.

Yes, even our youngest is a collector. Thank goodness these are (mostly) leak proof.

Walking into my own kitchen it’s pretty obvious that my family has more glasses of water strewn about the house and in various bedrooms than are currently resting on my urban kitchen shelving. I admit that many of these water glasses are mine, since I need a new glass of water each evening. Water in open containers from the previous day taste stale, for one. How water can taste stale I can’t quite explain, except to say old water on my nightstand tastes, well… old, and water fresh from the fridge, tastes fresh. It’s not really any more scientific than that.

Secondly, water in open glasses from the night before always contains bits of filament and dust. You might not be able to see this upon first glance at the water glass, but if you tilt the glass slightly allowing the light to shine on the water’s surface, you’ll see it. Bits of linty whatnot floating there on top. Maybe it’s the dust from my lampshade. Maybe it’s crud from the humidifier or room heater. Perhaps they’re even dust mites and single cell amoebas, all I know is I’m not going to drink it.

My children feel the same way. Even my son—who keeps his water in a sports bottle since he sleeps in a loft—gets a new water bottle pretty frequently. I have a sneaking suspicion that his motivation is less a desire for fresh water than a means to stay awake 10 more minutes while he fills a fresh bottle, but the result is the same. His bed is littered with plastic squeeze containers.

Why my family (and I include myself in the group) can’t return their water glasses to the sink each morning I don’t know. In fact, collection of said glasses doesn’t usually happen until I notice we only have one left on the shelf and the dishwasher is empty. Perhaps we are unconsciously waiting for strange circles to appear in the front yard grass and those water glasses will come in handy when aliens try to abduct one of my children, inspiring my son and husband to take their baseball bats out and “swing high,” freeing us from the grips of the evil alien life forms. If they come, we’ll be ready.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Develop Me Useful

Photo Art by Aaron Weintrob

Dear Allergan Higher-ups and Research and Development Team:

Greetings from the po-dunk town of Easton, Massachusetts. I know your corporation and offices operate in buildings large enough to house the population of my town in the lobby, and that I, Rachel Vidoni, am but a veritable grain of sand in the corporate workings of your white sand beach. Nonetheless, I have a few things I’d like to discuss with you.

It has come to my attention (after doing some deep research on eyelashes) that your company is responsible for manufacturing the following products:
• Latisse
• Botox
• Juviderm
• Gastrointestinal Lap-bands

Sure, sure, you make and develop other products not intended to make women feel bad about themselves, but chipping away at women with low self-image—or at least making women question their beauty—seems to be your largest target market and purpose. I find it detestable that you (from hereon Allergan will be referred to as the collective “you”) can take small issues like eyebrows, forehead wrinkles, laugh lines (so much nicer than crow’s feet) and the like, and develop products designed to make women feel these issues are something to worry about.

In understand that living in California where your R&D facility is located, gives one the impression that looks and image are everything, especially being so close to the Housewives of Orange County and the zip code 90210. Your location can skew reality, not unlike people who live in Death Valley thinking the ozone layer has disappeared entirely, or people in Boston thinking everyone’s life in the U.S. revolves around sporting events. I am here to tell you that the majority of your products have set the feminist movement back so far it’s like starting all over again.

I’m curious if all the people in your R&D sector are male? I find it interesting that none of the products mentioned above are targeted towards men. Where’s the product that makes men more sensitive to birthdays and anniversaries? What can men use to make them more appealing in a Speedo? Why aren’t any men used in your advertisements for Botox and Latisse? Are you implying it’s okay for men to have wrinkles and puny eyelashes, but us women must be frozen faced and doe-eyed? Are all of your female employees and the wives of the men Barbie knock-off’s with firm, tanned skin, and air brushed faces? Are employees required to use your products and act as “testimonials” like when you work in Ann Taylor and have to wear their clothes? Do you not hire “ugly” women because they would make your brand look bad?

While you may live in the land of Stepford Wives, I (and millions like me) do not. I prefer to stave off wrinkles and fat the old-fashioned way, by eating less and moving more. I know it’s not a particularly exciting marketing concept but it seems to work for me. I also think that garden grown veggies, a good beer, and unpolluted air (though in California you may not know what this is) goes a long way towards making me appear relaxed and youthful. Call me a backwoods, earth-loving, tree hugger if you will.

I do have some suggestions for you however, to reap your share of the untapped markets of women like myself—normal women who struggle with (not wrinkles and sparse eyelashes) but kids, schedules, work, family, sports, appointments, and errands. I’d really like for you to consider developing some way for me to grow more arms. I know this idea is a little rogue, but your company motto is "Our Pursuit. Life's Potential." It’s also the out of the box thinking that R&D departments thrive on. It may take awhile for the concept to take off, but your Allergan for heaven’s sake. You hired Brook Shields. She can’t be cheap.

With all the technology out there—our ability to clone animals and grow body parts in petri dishes, you’d think you could plant a mole in some company with "Gen" or "Bio" in the name and get the secret recipe for arm growth. You know that I know that you know that this kind of corporate sabotage goes on every minute, so don’t act like you’re above scooping your competitor. I’m thinking it would be easiest for you to grow the arms in a laboratory somewhere and then hire Dr. 90210 (you know, the guy who fondles women for a living in front of  TV cameras and doesn’t go to jail) to sew them on. The benefits of this product are many:

• Would liberate women everywhere, instead of suppressing them via negative mirrors
• Could be marketed for women and men, unlike your current “beauty” products
• Would create a totally new market for the contestants on “Project Runway” as they design tops, outfits, and formal wear for people with four or more arms
• Would create a new definition for the word “multitasking”
• Could potentially eliminate the 40 hour work week, as people would be twice as productive
• Would eliminate the need for many trips out to the car to carry in groceries
• Would allow people like the Duggars and Octomom to have even more children because now they would have eight hands to hold bottles and wipe noses

I could keep going, but I think you understand the message. You’re focusing on the tree bark Allergan. I’m telling you to focus on the forest. I hope you’ll take my suggestion into consideration and run it by your R&D team at the next meeting-of-the-perfect-faces. Until then I won’t be using any of your products. I’ll take my chances with puny eyelashes and wrinkles, because dammit, I’m beautiful and people like me. Even if I could use more arms.

Most Sincerely,

Rachel Vidoni
A mom that has her original face

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everygirl's Solution to Hypotrichosis

 Don’t be alarmed by the photo above. No squirrels were harmed in the making of this photo (to my knowledge anyway). Honestly, I don’t know who this woman is and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is she’s clearly one of the many women who obsessed with having fuller, thicker, darker, eyelashes. Women who’ll do anything to get them. The Wall Street Journal published an article (“Eyelash Lovers Clamor For Strokes of Genius.") about women who separate them with safety pins. (I have done this.) Wear 20 to 30 coats of mascara each day. (I'm thinking this would be really heavy.) Or even have extentions put in every two weeks. (Can you get these with corn rows?)

Is hypotrichosis keeping you up at night? Do you have nightmares that you go to put on your mascara and your eyelashes simply aren’t there anymore? Do you secretly dream of looking like Tammy Faye Baker in her heyday, even if you think she was a bit off her rocker? Me neither. That’s why I didn’t realize I may be missing out on one of the best beauty products ever accidentally invented.

I’ve never heard of hypotrichosis before I saw a commercial for Latisse, being proffered by none other than Brooke Shields. For those of you who don’t run in well-groomed, high society style circles like myself and all my super rich extremely posh friends, hypotrichosis is the condition of having thin or not enough eyelashes. Latisse is a serum you apply to your upper eyelid that makes your eyelashes grow thicker, longer, and darker. The active ingredient is a drug called bimatoprost which was originally designed to treat patients with glaucoma. Turns out, this little bottle of Potter-esque potion has the added benefit of making your eye lashes grow.

Who knew that this was such a problem plaguing millions of women everywhere? I mean, premature hair thinning on your head, okay. I get that. But eye lashes? And Brooke Shields as their spokesperson? Doesn’t she have more eyebrow and eyelash follicles per millimeter than any other female actress in Hollywood? When you think “Brooke Shields” do you imagine a woman with not enough hair on her face? I didn’t think so. Is Brooke so desperate to pay her mortgage she has to take on beauty products like these? (If so I can give her some really helpful tips on how to cancel your newspaper subscriptions and cable to save a buck or two. Not that I’ve done it of course...) I understand the Colgate spokesperson thing. She does have big chicklet-like teeth.

Well, you may remember your mother telling you as a child, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Latisse is no different. While it does help make your eyelashes grow, and it does tend to make them longer, thicker, and darker, there are a few little side effects that you may experience. (Read Consmer Reports health blog.)

Latisse may darken your upper eyelid.
This side effect may go away when you quit using it. Well, that’s not so terrible you may think. It’ll save me money on brown eye shadow and give me that ‘smokey look’ that’s all the rage these days. No biggie. My question is, what’s in it that’s turning my eye lid brown—self-tanner? Toxic waste?

Latisse may turn your eye color brown.
This side effect will most likely be permanent. Sayonara light eyes. The good thing here is that if you don’t really like your eye color and you were contemplating getting brown contacts, using Latisse will kill two eyes with one application. That actually could save you money in the long run. Unfortunately, if you change your mind about it later, you’ll just have to drown your sorrows in your serum, because it ain’t changing.

Latisse may cause:
“…an itching sensation in the eyes and/or eye redness. This was reported in approximately 4% of patients. LATISSE® solution may cause other less common side effects which typically occur on the skin close to where LATISSE® is applied, or in the eyes. These include…eye irritation, dryness of the eyes, and redness of the eyelids.” (Taken from the Safety section of their website.)
Basically it may look like the result of a raging-fight-with-your-significant-other-where-you-spent-the-whole-night- crying-hysterically-and-now-your-eyes-are-so-red-puffy-and-swollen-you-may-as-well- call-into-work-because-no-amount-of-makeup-is-going-to-fix-it kind of problem. But it’s not really a problem if you hate your job. Or if you’re manic depressive and cry all the time anyway.

Latisse is expensive.
It’s estimated to cost around $120.00 a month for the prescription, which you’ll need to use everyday to keep the lashes growing. Stop using the product and your lashes will revert back to their original puny, wispy, thin, poor-excuse for eye lashes consistency. I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared to drop $120 dollars a month on medication that is not keeping my blood sugar under control or my arteries open or otherwise saving my life somehow. I fully understand that at some point in my future I will need to drop this much and more on pills, liquids, patches, and inhalants, along with all their delivery devices in order to keep my old-age ass alive and kicking. But I’m not even forty yet. I have better things to do with my money. Like get acrylic nails. Or a boob job. Or have my eyes lifted. Real beauty solutions to problems that matter.

Latisse may cause hair to grow in other places the liquid touches.Again from their website:
 “It is possible for hair growth to occur in other areas of your skin that LATISSE® frequently touches. Any excess solution outside the upper eyelid margin should be blotted with a tissue or other absorbent material to reduce the chance of this from happening. It is also possible for a difference in eyelash length, thickness, fullness, pigmentation, number of eyelash hairs, and/or direction of eyelash growth to occur between eyes. These differences, should they occur, will usually go away if you stop using LATISSE®.”
 Ummm, didn’t Brooke read the fine print, especially the line that reads, “eyelash growth to occur between the eyes?” That line alone wasn’t enough to dissuade her from using the product? If you look at her pictures over the years, it’s clear the woman has spent a mint on removing a good portion of the hair between her eyes. And they are eyelash hairs, not eyebrow hairs. I wonder if they blink when you frown or laugh?

I have a few questions for the makers of Allergan, the drug manufacturer of Latisse. I thoroughly searched their website and couldn’t find the answers. If you work for Allergan and have some answers for me, feel free to leave a comment after this blog. I really like reading those.

  1. Have you thought about marketing this to fraternities on college campuses nationwide? Those boys are always looking for ways to burn through Daddy’s money. Seems to me this product would add an exciting new element to the frat parties drunken pranks. Writing on the face with sharpie? Too old school. Shaving someone’s chest and nether regions? So yesterday! But dumping a bottle of Latisse on their nose or painting it on their ears? Now you’re talking! A fresh take on old classics. Hey, that would even be a great tag line. (If you use it though, I’ll need an advance.)
  2. If I started in September and took a bath in Latisse everyday, could I go to my favorite neighborhood Halloween party as Chewbacca? I think I would win the costume contest hands down. The prize money is like, $50 bucks.
  3. Could women use Latisse in other areas? Like to correct a botched Brazilian? An over plucked eyebrow?
  4. If a person were to use Nair and Latisse at the same time, would you implode?

 These questions keep me up at night, but not as much as worrying that my mascara doesn’t separate and elongate the sparse lashes that I have, giving me the much desired appearance of an waif-like runway model. Or Brooke Shields. I’ve always wanted to look just like Brooke.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Garden Plans 2010

(My garden at the beginning of last spring)

Another glorious day here in the East. Started the morning with three cups of coffee today, which was tasty but not as delicious as usual. I decided to switch to fat free half and half instead of light cream in my coffee. My question is this: if half and half is equal parts cream and milk, and you take out the fat from the cream and milk, aren’t you left with skim milk? I need to be sure on this point because I don’t want to be paying $2 bucks for one quart of fat free half and half when I could be using the skim milk I already have in my fridge. If any of you happen to work for Garelick Farms, could you let me know exactly what the difference is?

Back to my day. Enjoyed my coffee while listening to the bird chirp this morning, a sound that has been missing for quite some months now. You don’t realize how quiet winter gets until the birds show up again, reveling you with their melodious tunes. Suddenly you are acutely aware that something was missing and you never noticed it’s disappearance. Until it’s back.

Put a pork roast in the crock pot, got dressed and was outside by 10 a.m. ready to work in the yard. Today’s focus continued to be the garden, as I try and get it ready for the early spring plantings. We have lived in this house for three years and this may be the first that I will be able to plant in the entire garden space. It’s taken me that long to reclaim the soil that was overtaken by one million weeds. Last year I came pretty close: with a new garden fence I utilized over half of it. The other half I left in squalor and eventually those weeds got so tall I quit trying to even cut them back and just let them do their thing. Today I spent most of my day clearing out the forsaken half of my garden which consisted of digging up about 300 blackberry, raspberry, and black raspberry bushes (I’ve affectionately named these “devil weeds.”)

 Before I went outside this morning, I made a map of the garden and where I’m going to plant all the veggies this year. You’re supposed to rotate your crops every three years, but this is when you plant equal amounts of root veggies, brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage and such), and “other” veggies, to include peas, tomatoes, beans, etc. I don’t plant equal parts of each, so rotating them consists of just making sure they are in a different location than last year.

 Here’s a list of what I’m planting this year:
  • Italian beans
  • Dragon carrots (purple/red)
  • Yellowstone carrots (yellow)
  • Romanescoe cauliflower
  • Sweet corn
  • Slicing cucumber
  • Pickling cucumber
  • Leeks (I am so in love with leeks)
  • Watermelon
  • Onions
  • Shelling peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Big Jim chile peppers
  • Red bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Gold currant tomato (cherry variety)
  • Genovese tomato (slicing, red)
  • Peron tomato (slicing, orange)
  • Ropreco tomato (drying)
  • Basil, chives, oregano, thyme
I’m thinking that I’ll either have a fabulous crop and plenty to eat and give away, or all these organic seeds won’t come up, the windy, rainy season will wash them away, and I’ll have donated $100 bucks to Seeds of Change so they can publish their colorful catalogs again in 2011. We’ll have to wait and see.

Hopefully my seeds will arrive this week so I can get the indoor seed started in my little peat pots (David gave me a set of 72 for Valentines Day. Now that’s true love..) and sow the peas directly outside. I can’t wait for the peas. If you think you hate peas, then you’ve obviously never tried them freshly shelled from the garden. Nothing in the world is like them. My kids suck them down like pixie sticks.

Rhubarb should be starting it’s upward climb soon too, although it won’t be large enough to harvest for a couple months. I inherited the rhubarb plants with the garden. While I never thought I’d use much of it, last year I made strawberry rhubarb jam that was fabulous. You also can’t kill those suckers. My father-in-law accidentally tilled over two of my plants, and you know what I ended up with? Six smaller plants. Thanks Dad.

I also cleared some rocks today—we’re disassembling some rock planting beds and moving the boulders to form a rock wall border between our yard and the neighbors. I think I moved a total of 9 or 10 boulders with the help of a dolly, although it seemed like I was doing plenty of work trying to pull that damned thing through 4 inches of fallen leaves. I’m hesitant to say that I’m more sore than when I do the P90X (seeing as how I’m supposed to start Phase II tomorrow) but right now all I need is three ibuprofen and a bed.

Monday's weather prediction is another sunny day in the 50’s. We’ll see how much gets done in the yard tomorrow, if I can move at all.