Friday, December 29, 2006

Lessons I learned on the last Friday in December

It's easy to get five fruits and vegetables per day, if you start with two fruits at breakfast. Satya: banana, cranberries, chicken vegetable soup, french fried sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fresh orange juice...I think there is a growth spurt in her immediate future.

It's easy to love yourself, if you spend some quality time at a mirror. Kuruna: yesterday, ten minutes at the science museum two-way mirror, giving his three best sides lots of flirty loving kisses, smiles, and making the best possible effort to hold hands.

You can skate on a frozen "vernal pool" even if it cracks under your skates. Satya and I skated for an hour on two inches of ice cube in our "back yard." Perfect. No one else to worry about, no fees, no risk of falling in!

The second time getting glasses is no sweat. Kuruna: breezes in to the optometrist, tries on the glasses, (flirts a little with himself in the mirror), decides, "I like new glasses," and we're off.

Turning lights on and off (and on and off and on) really is amazingly funny, if you look at it from three feet off the floor.

More on Star Mints

I know them as Star Mints. Apparently this is an error. They are Star Brites Mints. However, since the manufacturer feels it necessary to spell its middle name phonetically instead of in English, I feel under no obligation to include it here. In fact, I guess the brand name doesn't matter except that Star - Mints are ubiquitous. To my knowledge, every after dinner mint I have had has been a Star Mint. And, to their credit, the experience has been consistently satisfying.

Need I describe them? Sweet, tasty, small, ever so piquant, and never sticky. After bar-b-que, or smoked salmon, Pad Thai, or garlic chicken, it's just the thing to finish off a meal when every one else is going for the chocolate sin cake.

When I have been virtuous, turning down the abundant opportunities for gluttony-bordering-on-obscenity so prevalent at American restaurants, I console myself that there will be a friendly Star Mint at the door bidding me farewell. As I watch cake, ice cream, mousse, flan, whiskey, and dessert wine arrive at the table for my compatriots while I sip tea or coffee, I am lighthearted, knowing my sweet lifeline will be there. When we have donned our coats, when we head to the car, when most of us are stuffed to the gills. . . I will dip my hand into the courtesy bowl for a mint. And, it will be there. It must be there.

I can't go on a this particular moment about how I feel when there are no mints, no bowl. There might as well, at such a moment, be no restaurant, no meal. . . I'll come back to this when I have the strength.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Explaining the list...starmints

Every restaurant should have after-dinner mints for their guests. These should be peppermint flavored (not spearmint, not cinnamon, not orange!). This is not complicated, though you'd think so by the state of things. I have even offered to set up a foundation in my will to help restaurants overcome the daunting logistics of complying with this most basic of dining needs.

Oak Leaf Daisies

Channelling my New Orleans past. That's what surely explains why Satya burst out with the above name for her "girl band" today. She will be the fiddle-playing lead singer of the Oak Leaf Daisies someday, building on her Louisiana heritage of zydeco, Mardi Gras Indian, jazz, blues, Maple Leaf music. She doesn't know this yet.

She's still learning "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" on the violin and belting out Indigo Girls angry chick tunes.

She's still fixated on princesses and Barbie. She's five. Give her some time.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Second day back...

...and already a new look.

I promised myself I would get some sleep. I also promised myself I would read ahead in my case books. Alas, adding new features and new color schemes to my blog seemed too important to pass up tonight.

In case the above comment paints me as a total airhead, I will add that my other activities today included reading the New York Times and discussing global climate change survival strategies with one of the few space architects on this planet and the world's best photo curator and photo historian.

O.K., but the real takeaway from today was that Satya loves Daddy more than me (at least she felt it important to let me know that). It was not the first time I had heard it, and I took pleasure in assuring her that her feelings were perfectly fine with me and that it did not change how much I love and am connected to her (though I find it amazing that it doesn't).

As we spoke, I remembered when I felt exactly the same way -- loving my father more than my mom and feeling so badly about it-- when I was exactly her age.

Over the years, the strong and certain bonds I had with my parents are so much changed and attenuated like spider webs stretched thin by perpetual breezes. But in the last few days conversations I have had with each of them have reassured me that my connections to them remain as lifelines. Attenuated as they may be, they are well-travelled, strong and reliable.

A week ago, as I prepared for and sat for exams, my parents did the proverbial circling of the waggons. Mom came to "help out" for two weeks. (Help out means, "take over care of the kids, cooking, shopping, cleaning and still have time and energy to listen to your whiny law school student-daughter cry about how hard life is"). Papa, the lawyer, called every day, sometimes several times, to tutor me on civil procedure and contract law or to ask how study for torts and con-law was going. As dark and lonely as those two weeks got, I knew I had the strongest web of support around me.

Satya won't know about webs and unconditional love for some years. I hope she will feel it, though, well before she can describe it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

a christmas story

When I was younger, Santa used to leave me the most fantastic notes about adventures in the North Pole and the mischievous dark elves. How delighted I was to see, upon reading his letter to my daughter this morning, that the tradition continues!

December 24, 2006...I could have used a smart girl like you at the North Pole this year! We had quite a lick of trouble! Have I told you about the dark elves? Well, they are super mischievous and always trying to ruin Christmas. And to add to the difficulty, they give Polar Bear such a hard time, I wind up having to take care of him, too, on top of saving Christmas. Well, I am getting ahead of myself. LetÂ’s see, where to begin?

After last year's’ catastrophe, Mrs. Claus and I thought we would take Polar Bear down to Antarctica for some respite. You know it'’s summer down there when we are having winter? Not that you would know it from the cold, but hey, it's not the North Pole and there are no dark elves there!! So, we thought it would be a good trip. And, it was.

While we were down there, though, the dark elves got into Polar Bear's home and wrecked his lego set. They also painted the walls with finger-paints. The worst was that they used his favorite collection of herbal tea in an all-night game of mushy cushy! We were gone for a month. When we returned home in February ready to begin preparing for this year'’s Christmas, we found a huge mess, instead. Polar Bear, besides being devastated, was also quite mad, as you can imagine. He began to plot revenge.

Well, this was quite a mess for us at the North Pole because, as you probably know, we depend on Polar Bear to do all of the heavy lifting in the Workshop. He is also useful in getting things off of the high shelves. Without Polar Bear, much of the elves'’ work comes to a stop.

Of course the other job of great importance is that Polar Bear stands guard at the Workshop to keep the dark elves from stealing everyone'’s toys! With Polar Bear indisposed, putting his house back in order, the dark elves could raid Santa'’s workshop as often as the wanted. Each night when the last elf left his toy work, the dark elves would sneak in. They would steal toys or paint them off colors or mix up parts. Each morning when my Santa elves returned, they would have to start all over again. We were getting nowhere!

I decided to pay Polar Bear a call at his house. I asked as politely as I could for Polar Bear to come back and do his duty as guard of the workshop. But he refused. He wanted all of his time to plan his attack on the dark elves. I begged and pleaded with him to come. Finally I demanded he stop his nonsense and SHOW UP! A few hours later a very pouty Polar Bear was back at the door of the workshop, and the visits from the dark elves stopped for a while.

Things were calm for all of us at the North Pole until one day in June when one of our elves, the chief elf, in fact, came to me to tell me that the Northern lights were missing! If you know that the Northern Lights are, you know that it is no small matter for them to be missing. Sure enough that night when I went to inspect, there was nothing but darkness where they used to be. The Northern Lights serve a particularly important function for us at the North Pole. For, they are the outlet of children'’s energy from all over the world. Children'’s laughter, their restlessness and even their frustration and anger all filter through the earth'’s crust to the vast ice fields of the North Pole where we all see them as beautiful rays of green purple and blue shimmering over the top of the world. The workshop is fed by this energy. So, too are the elves and even my sleigh fueled by the energy from the Northern Lights. Without the Lights, we can make it for a few days, but not much longer. We looked every where for them. Soon we were sure that we were doomed!

In the meantime, Polar Bear also came to me with problems of his own. I had little patience for his personal complaints, but listened anyway as Polar Bear read to me a list of all the items missing from his house since the dark elves'’ raid last January. Among the stolen items were 1200 barrels of finger paint (Polar bear likes to finger paint a lot) The interesting thing about this was the color. That is, the finger paint the dark elves had absconded with was all black and blue.

Polar bear was very sulky without his paint. One night, feeling especially sulky, he went out for a walk on the ice cap. He looked into the sky and there noticed what seemed to be a crack in the sky. It was an unusual thing, but it did seem to be a crack and growing wider and wider. Polar Bear had nothing better to do, so he walked to the horizon to check it out. There on the edge of the world, he reached out to the sky and scratched at it with his paw. At first his scratch removed only a chip, but second and third scratches revealed the truth of the matter. The Northern Lights weren'’t missing; they had been covered with tons of blue and black finger paint. Oh, those dastardly dark elves!

Polar Bear came trotting home with his good news. I congratulated him and sent him right back out, of course, with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge! It must have taken him a few days of scrubbing--made more tedious because he often had to return home to thaw out frozen buckets--to finally clean up the dark elves’ mess. By this time it was early August and we had only a few short months before we would have to start packing the sleigh!

Thanks to Polar Bear, though, we got the Workshop up and running and free from dark elf mischief. Once again this year, we have toys and clothes and food for boys and girlsrls everywhere. I'’ll have to think of somewhere nice to take Polar Bear this year. Quechee seems like a nice place. Perhaps we could stay at the Woodstock Inn. Do you think they take Polar Bears?

Gift from Finland

Go to YouTube to see the Helsinki Complaints choir. I found out about it from Marko Ahtisaari's blog (where else)?