Thursday, August 31, 2006

Return to Sender

Am I a total idiot, or what?

I received an email from someone whose name I recognized, someone I'd done freelance work for several times.

I hadn't heard from this person for several months, and thought the person now had some freelance work for me.

And so I opened the email, to find this lead-in:

Dear Pearl,

I hope you’re well and that your writing is coming along well, too!

It sounded like a warm opening, especially because I hadn't heard for quite some time from this person.

"This person cares about me, about my writing," I thought, and smiled to myself. And then I continued to read and saw the message was a general one, not specific, no doubt sent to hundreds of people in this person's address book. No longer was I special, I'd become just an automated receiver.

And damn, if that message didn't make me slightly angry. It was describing a business venture this person had undertaken. Duh!! Not news to me. Not. At. All. One of my freelance assignments had been to edit/copy edit a manuscript describing this very business venture, and I knew all details about it. What the heck did I have to hear about it for...from a robot sender?

It is no longer a new business venture...but perhaps one that is faltering somewhat, because I could have sworn that I received a similar message months ago, when the business venture was in fact new!

I sulked when I read the message, but did not delete it. I need it as a reminder to show me that: 1. "You can't always get what you want" 2. "Sometimes I feel like a nut...sometimes I don't".

We're taught not to look a gift horse in the mouth...especially one that sends a check. But who says we can't give him a good swift kick in the ---

I guess you're wondering why the heck an email message would anger me so. Perhaps it's because although the words behind this message delivered to me are meant to have some meaning...some words delivered previously from the same source were actually empty.

It's those empty words I'm remembering...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We Like Them...Old & Dirty

On Monday evening we were in our hotel room in Niagara Falls (see previous post), eating our dinner and watching TV before planning to go out on the town with the kids and hang out in a games arcade on the main strip.

Interestingly enough, pairs of two adults' and three children's eyes were glued to the TV set -- The Antiques Roadshow was on -- and each of us, from ages 6 1/2 to 46 1/2 were happily watching the small screen, watching the finds and the dollar amounts attached to their worth.

I was amazed when my oldest child suddenly felt the need to turn the channel and quickly see the sports scores and youngest child screeched, "Don't!! TURN BACK!!" Is my child entering grade one becoming a historian, a connoisseur of fine art or turn-of-the-century pottery and furniture? Will he start to appraise any object that crosses his path?

My daughter tried to figure out which of our household objects might be considered antiques -- "Is that chair in the living room an antique? How about the old radio we have?"

Hmmm...did they just think "OLD" makes something an antique? Are my husband and I beginning to their eyes?

Hmmm...I wonder how much The Antiques Road Show would appraise us at!?

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

What to do? Where to go? When to go?

These were the three most important questions we had to ask ourselves aside from How much do we want to spend?

First we talked briefly about Boston, where my brother lives.

Then we talked about Chicago, where my aunt lives. And if we're already driving all the way to Chicago, let's maybe go to Wisconsin Dells, famous for water parks galore. (Did I tell you I'm not a fan of water parks? Did I tell you I don't get to vote in this case?) And if we're going to Chicago and Wisconsin Dells, let's plan the trip around meeting PsychoToddler. Even better, let's plan the trip around meeting PsychoToddler and attending his band's free concert in the park. And in Chicago I hoped to meet the blogger behind Ten Li Koach.

And we talked, and we planned, and hubby researched, and we confirmed dates.


We received two Toronto-area bar mitzvah invitations for the same week we thought we might be away. And we wanted to attend these bar mitzvahs. Maybe just a wee bit more than PsychoToddler's concert!

AND SO...we began to make other travel plans.

We would be attending the Thursday morning and Thursday evening bar mitzvah affair in Toronto, and the weekend and Shabbat bar mitzvah would be taking place in Hamilton, Ontario, about a 45 minute drive west of Toronto.

Should we make Hamilton alone our "summer vacation"? Then I suggested going from Hamilton on to Niagara Falls and maybe Buffalo, NY, for a bit of shopping for school and Yom Tov wear. And there was a consensus!

UNTIL...the main planner decided that we would spend a couple of days at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, supposedly the largest, enclosed waterpark in North America. Still relatively new, several hotels offered one and two night packages that included the waterpark, so official family planner made a reservation with one of them.

So our planned vacation was to have three parts to it: Hamilton from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning; Niagara Falls from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning; Buffalo from Tuesday morning through the late afternoon.

Okay, okay, I agreed to grin and bear the waterpark leg of the trip...

And we also had to do the unavoidable: we had to put Max in a kennel for a few days. It was his/our first time, and we were worried and torn about having to do so, but we knew he'd be in good hands.

So all went well. My kids had a blast over Shabbat in Hamilton, making new friends very quickly and having play dates on Shabbat afternoon with these new playmates, even exchanging e-mail addresses after Shabbat was over.

Just a note about Hamilton: Hamilton has a lovely Jewish community -- yes, small, but people are close -- both geographically and emotionally, and helpful. The Orthodox shul draws quite the variety of people because there is only one Orthodox shul in the community, so you see black hatters davening with knit kippot. You see women with wigs chatting with women who don't even cover their hair. But they are all accepting of one a Jewish community should be.

The current rabbi is the son of the longtime Orthodox rabbi in the community. Father sits alongside his son, as Rabbi Emeritus. I can only imagine how the father kvells each and every time his son speaks or davens. One son stayed in Hamilton to follow in his father's footsteps; the other sons live and work in Toronto.

A sad footnote about Hamilton is their Yeshiva high school. People from Toronto would send their sons to Hamilton Yeshiva because of its reputation and quality of learning. We stayed in a private residence beside the yeshiva high school -- the school is empty, like a ghost town. Now a couple nights a week there are classes held in the building, but it is not the vibrant learning center it once was -- a sign of the dwindling community...

Anyhow, we had a lovely few days in Hamilton, then drove on to the wondrous city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Yes, the falls are magnificent, and we watched late-night fireworks over them on Sunday night. Yes, I know that many people come from all over the world to view the falls. Yes, I know that many people have come from all over the world to honeymoon in Niagara Falls. But please tell me: WHEN DID IT BECOME SUCH A FAMILY-ORIENTED CITY? WHEN DID IT BECOME SUCH A BRIGHT AND CHEAP-LOOKING (but certainly not cheap prices) CENTER? WHEN DID IT BECOME KITSCHY, WITH A CARNIVAL MIDWAY FEEL TO IT, OR EVEN A VEGAS FEEL TO IT?

It is certainly a city of sights and sounds, with lots of games, lots of eateries (even a Kosher pizzeria, a sister branch to one that's down the street where I live, finally opened up there; Ezzie, while we were there, I kept my eyes open for you. The likelihood of you walking in while we were there was strong indeed), and lots of opportunities to drop money along the way!

As for the kids were THRILLED with it. My youngest was fearless, going down as many of the water slides and tubes as the height allowance alloted. I'd barely see my daughter as she ran past with a wave and a smile, on to another tube. Oldest son was nary in sight, either, off with his rubber raft or ring and cascading down a tube called "the bowl" -- similar to flushing something down a toilet.

Dear old mom was plain CHICKEN, and I went down one raft, on the least adventurous tube of all. (read: the least dangerous tube of all!)

But I did enjoy the wave pool, sitting atop a rubber raft as the ever-frequent, time-controlled waves rocked and rolled me...oftentimes back to the "beach".

And when I wasn't out there in the wave pool, I was actually reading...something that has eluded me for too long. I'd toted along a book that my former employer had produced for their NEXT line, for the older reader. Yikes, I'm in that class already!? I'd given my mother a copy of this book, had given my sister-in-law a copy of the book, and each had thoroughly enjoyed it. And I hoped that I might allow myself the pleasure to read. And read I did -- no, I didn't finish the book yet, but it drew me in enough to drown out the sounds in the waterpark.

And so, may I suggest Riggs Park by Ellyn Bache, a very interesting, well-written book...

And today we went to Buffalo to check any and all deals we could find. But time was of the essence, and although we did get to a couple of places and picked up a few things (I think my daughter is following in my footsteps, excuse the pun, 'cause I bought her 4 pairs of shoes today!), including several groceries that we can't get back home, we had to head back at a reasonable hour in order to allow for lineups at the border, slowdowns due to traffic, and to pick up our beloved Max at the kennel.

And now it's already the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and we've been home for about 5 hours already, two loads of laundry already being done. Our official summer vacation is over, the prepare-for-school mode has begun, and it's back to my regularly scheduled blogging...!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Take Me Out To The Ballgame..."

Quick! Cover your children's eyes. Don't let them read what I'm about to tell you!


I attended my first professional baseball game at the Rogers Centre (formerly referred to as the Dome Stadium. You can see it in the photo above, situated alongside the CN Tower, the world's tallest free-standing structure...or so it was advertised as such 30 years ago when it opened). It was the Toronto Blue Jays playing against the Oakland Athletics. And wouldn't you know it -- darn, at my "coming out" game, the Blue Jays lost.

It was interesting for me to note on the Jumbotron that many of the Toronto Blue Jays were originally from California. And one of them used to actually play for the Oakland Athletics.

All summer, my husband had been taking a different child to a few games. It was the first time that my husband had opted to buy into a group of season's tickets with several other men. Most of the games we got tickets for (based on the lottery system) were on Sunday afternoons, which were great. Off would trot Dad and one out of three children for the exciting afternoon.

My children became seasoned fans, while I, THE MOTHER, wondered at all the hoopla surrounding the game. My husband decided to let me see for myself, and along with our two regular seats, he bought three others way, way up high, and priced down, down low. He told me to sit with our number one baseball fan, my 11 year old, in "the good seats" and he'd sit with the other two in the nosebleed section, and sometime in the evening we'd switch off.

So here sat the Virgin Mother alongside number one fan. He was my guiding light, explaining the moves, telling me stats he recalled for players and their plays, and just keeping me from embarrassing him too much with questions about the game.

I sat there, looking at the stadium all around me -- from the stands to the playing field -- and explaining to him something too. I told him, "A, it's not just about playing the game of baseball, and watching the game, it's about a baseball culture." People have been number-one fans much longer than this 11-year-old boy of mine, and it shows: in their manner of dress, in their attitude, in their knowledge, in their lingo.

And yes, there was certainly lots to learn last night about the game...and how it ties in to life in general:

1. Whether you view the game from the cheap seats or from great seats, always keep your eye on the ball.

2. It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game.

3. Always give it your best shot.

4. Chewing gum, spitting and scratching your crotch in public is very unsightly.

5. A home run always means so much more when you've got someone special in the stands to watch you make it!

A Woman We Are To Remember/A Woman Who Used Her Memories To Teach

ETTY ZIGLER was born and raised in Bukovina, Romania. In 1941, Etty and her family were deported in cattle cars to Transnistria, a territory in western Ukraine given to the Romanians by Hitler as a reward for their alliance. Etty's grandmother died of dysenteric disease, her father of typhoid fever and her younger sister of tuberculosis. Etty emerged ravaged by a skin disease called lupus tuberculosis, which engulfed her nose, most of her face and left her horribly disfigured. In 1944, when the Soviets liberated camps, Etty learned that 90 per cent of her family had perished. In desperate need of medical help, Etty traveled to Czernowitz, where she received some help that halted the disease, but did not cure it. In 1945, she was reunited with her mother and received proper treatment in Bucharest. Her face critically deformed, she was encouraged to seek help in the U.S. In 1951, she had reconstructive surgery in New York, rejoined her family in Cuba and in 1961, immigrated to Canada with her husband and three children. It took more than 20 surgical procedures to reconstruct her face. Etty volunteered for ORT, helping and educating underprivileged children all over the world. She joined the Toronto Board of Education to educate students about the Holocaust and became a resource person by speaking about her personal ordeal. Later, she mentored children with behavioural problems. In 1986, Etty became a member of the Holocaust Education and Memorial Centre's Speakers' Bureau. Etty is currently the president of the Transnistria Survivors Association.

Unfortunately, I had to attend a funeral on Monday -- that of Etty Zigler.

I was not a close friend of this 84-year-old woman, but I'd known her from the time I got married and davened with my husband in a shtiebel, we lovingly referred to as "the old man's minyan". She was welcoming and warm to me, the new bride, even though I was 40 years her junior.

And when we moved to our current home just about three years ago, and began to attend one of two shuls, my husband and I were happy to reunite with the Ziglers, who'd given up their home a few years earlier and moved into a condominium not too far from us.

Every Shabbat, every Yom Tov, whether we were davening in their shul, or passing the Ziglers while we were walking to our other congregation, we always stopped to chat with the older but very able-bodied and able-minded couple.

Last year, Etty was one of several Holocaust survivors in Ontario,who were honored by our premier for their contribution to the community. Etty, with her tireless efforts to educate a younger generation of both Jews and Gentiles about the Holocaust and asserting that it should never happen again, had been chosen.

As a synagogue community we were honored to have Etty in our midst, this modest woman, who didn't know what to do with the recognition bestowed on her by the Canadian government. She was embarrassed by the attention drawn to her, but she did know that she was performing a much-needed task of educating people.

Unfortunately, Etty was hit by a car about three weeks ago, crossing the street just ahead of her husband. Her pelvis had been greatly damaged, but she was managing and underwent surgery, which was a success. But after some time, recovery from the surgery did take its toll her body, and she did not survive.

The funeral chapel was overflowing with men, women and young people on Monday afternoon -- a testament to the woman who used her memories to teach, and to the people whose lives she touched.

The world was made much richer by Etty's presence, and her absence will be greatly felt by many.

Etty Zigler, may you rest in peace.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Broken Engagement

I know someone who just broke off an engagement. I think the wedding was to have been next weekend.

That someone is very young -- she was introduced to the boy in February, I believe, and after a few dates they knew they were getting married. When I was eighteen, I surely still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, much less with whom to do it.

The girl's mother told me before Passover that the hall was already booked for August -- and that her daughter and the young man were going to get engaged sometime after Passover.

They did get engaged...and they had an engagement party...and also a henna, which is the boy's family tradition. All the happiness of these parties, and of the young couple and their respective families was captured on

Sometimes it looks to me as if people just can't wait to appear on the pages of this website, whether because of an engagement or a wedding or a henna or making aliyah. Of course, we want to share our happiness with others, and this website is the megaphone for doing so, and allows friends and family to comment on the simcha and accompanying photos, if there are any.

On Friday night, I said to my husband, "I guess ____+_____ are getting married next week....I wonder if this marriage will last." I didn't intend to put an ayin hara (evil eye) on matters, but I'd seen the young couple together over the past few months, and they were just like strangers with one another in terms of how they behaved together. It was all too formal-looking.

Yesterday after shul, my husband says, "Remember what you said last night about ___+____ marrying...? Well, there are no longer any mazel=tovs coming their way. It's kaput...apparently she broke it off."

Did I see something there that didn't ring true? Is that why I wondered why this young bride-to-be, who already had her sheitel, and a condo bought by the fiance, and a first-year free shul membership and whatever accoutrements a new bride has, was really ready for marriage? Her mother was eighteen when she married, and that was 4 kids ago, and several countries ago, so it's not a bad example her daughter has been seeing.

Anyhow, after Shabbat, when I was on the computer, I wandered over to, and sure enough, everything related to this bride-to-be and groom-to-be had been wiped off the system. Gone were a birthday pic, gone were the engagement pics, gone were the henna pics, gone were the happy smiles, gone was the entree to a marriage.

We can only hope that this breakup was beshert, that happiness will reign once more for these two young people, and that pictures and announcements will be made at some point in the future, showing a happy couple...who were meant to be together!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nu? So What's with the Goyishe Kop?

Remember a couple years ago a funny book came out entitled "Yiddish with Dick and Jane"?

Well, now, we've got Yiddish with George and Laura Bush!Or maybe we'll just refer to him as Georgenu and her as Lauranu...

The authors of the bestselling Yiddish with Dick and Jane are back--with a new vocabulary list, a new story, and a whole new cast of characters.

If you thought Dick, Jane, and Sally were fun, just watch what happens when the President of the United States takes his lovely wife and their beautiful twin daughters to a birthday party at Kennebunkport.

You'll not only learn useful new words like shpotzir, hekdish, and umglick, you'll discover that, no matter how old you get, a visit with the parents can turn you right back into the child you used to be.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It Takes Time

When I was in my teens, for some reason I always pictured myself marrying not so young, but "older", perhaps at age 27. But there was nothing and nobody on the horizon for me at age 27.

My father kept gently reminding me, "You need mazel [luck]. We all need mazel."

Well, I got married a few months after I turned 32. I was no longer "older," as I thought I'd be when I married... I was -- plain and simple -- old!

But thank G-d children came soon enough and I was an older mom with young children...presumably to keep me young!

I am nearing my 45th birthday. And as I look back on the dating -- relatively little -- I did before I snagged the right one for me -- I realize that marrying at 32 wasn't really old. Okay, so my two closest friends already had one or two children and had been married for several years, but I always say that G-d saved the best for last and I also loved to spout, "Good things come to those who wait."

I waited...and I was blessed -- with a wonderful spouse, who is also a magnificent father to our children...and just a really nice person.

Some people I hung out with in my later single years have not even yet married...and they're now in their late 40's and early 50's. And some of those people who married 5 and 7 years before me, or even 2 and 3 years after me are now undergoing divorces or already have received a "get".

It may have taken me time to find the right person for me; it took them time to find out that the person they thought was the "right person," was indeed the "wrong person."

I think I ought to amend my post title from It Takes Time to It Takes Time...and MAZEL!

(This post was inspired by a beautiful story I just finished reading on

Monday, August 14, 2006

Old Posts Revisited

It's nice to get comments on posts, as I've said many times before. It's almost even nicer to get comments well after the posts have "aired" and been commented on. It shows that someone is still reading your words well after you've written them.

Back in June, I wrote a post about rainbows...of the garden variety kind. I found a stunning picture that just captured the message and I posted it too. People commented then, and I got a new comment this morning.

I am the photographer who took this photo and it is of course in my backyard or garden as we say here in Switzerland.

I just wanted to thank you for posting this on the 12th of June as coincidentally it happens to be my birthday.The photo is in the gallery on my old site but if ever you are interested you can see my latest posts at

Have a nice day! Graham.

It was so nice for me to receive that comment. Someone's thanking ME for using it, and #2, there's that personal Swiss connection again!

I did also feel somewhat guilty because the photo hadn't been attributed to anything when I posted it. But you should know, that unless I specify where a photo is from, all of them are always from GOOGLE that's like my blanket copyright statement!

So, thank YOU, Graham, for taking such a lovely picture that gave me and many other people a taste of simple pleasure.

And last week, I found this comment on an old July post, "Sweet Home, Alabama":

I am from Hatchechubbe, Alabama. It's not that hard to say. Try this one on for size if you think Hatchechubbee is hard to pronounce... Chunnenuggee or Tchefuncte.

One really has to be careful with what one says in their blog; it becomes part of the Internet files -- anyone can have access to them at any time...even months after, and years later. We type our posts, we forget about them...and then there are readers like Graham and "Anonymous" who remind us about them!

Classical Past

While driving to a friend's this evening, I had my car windows down and was enjoying the light and refreshing breeze. One hand on the wheel, the other on the radio dial, I tuned in to my favorite all-classical music station...the one I used to play 24 hours a day in the nursery when my children were babies and toddlers. And while listening to a piece of music, I was carried back to my childhood...

We went quite regularly down to Ontario Place, a beautiful entertainment venue at the lakefront, and sat to watch open-air concerts that took place, the Toronto Symphony playing with many talented and world-renowned soloists accompanying the orchestra.

To sit on the benches under the covered roof, or on a blanket on the grassy hillside, if we were too late for the concert, was a beautiful setting. The breezy air, the stars overhead, airplanes flying overhead and momentarily drowning out thunderous applause or magnificent music, the cawing of seagulls overhead... All lent themselves to the beautiful ambience of listening to classical music.

I can almost guarantee that if any of you readers -- even those who normally wouldn't be listening to classical music, favoring rock music, alternative, heavy metal, even R & B or country -- tune in to a classical music station, while under a canopy of stars and dark sky, or driving at night with a warm breeze on your cheeks and slightly mussing your hair, you will be caught up in the music, in the magic of the moment.

Get musical with Mendelssohn; slumber with Stravinsky; vacation with Vivaldi; repose with Rimsky-Korsakov.

Classical music...what a gas!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Parental Wisdom

I always love to read blogger Quinn Cummings' THE QC REPORT. Formerly a child actor, Quinn has definitely grown up. She is a wonderful writer who throws curve balls constantly in her posts and keeps you on your toes. If she weren't busy being a business woman these days, I'd say she has a good chance at being a professional writer, an essayist for well-read publications!

Anyhow, Quinn's latest post has to do with parental wisdom, advice from our elders. She shares some wit from her mom and asks her readers to share advice they received from their parents. Overall, very entertaining. Do check it out.

Quick Change Artist

Please go to this YouTube link and enjoy. You will be mystified.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Music To My Ears

Okay, everyone, let's get back to that famous (filler) blog topic M U S I C.

It appears that music always gets people going, so that fact, along with being inspired by a recent post of Elie's, inspired this post.

Everyone has a song that is associated with a particular person or event in their life. Some people remember the first song they danced to with their sweetheart, others remember the most popular song at the time their child was born.

And (no) thanks to Elie, I can't get "American Pie" out of my head. That is the song that was a hit when I was still in my early days of learning to ice skate. It came out in late 1971 when I was 10 years old.

My mother and I, hand in hand, would circle the public rink on Motzei Shabbos. It was the thing to do: parents and children, boyfriends and girlfriends...gracing the ice with smooth glides, sleek turns and unsightly falls.

Music blared overhead from speakers -- some uptempo songs, others slower waltzes and the haunting lyrics and melody of "American Pie."


Do you have a particular song associated with a particular person, event or a time in your life?

Lessons for Living...As Taught By Max

I'm "pawsitively" sure that dogs are smarter than you think. After all, think about the word DOGMA

Max, our shih-poo, is a wise young puppy. He is full of canine "sechel" (wisdom; bright ideas), and without his knowing I'm doing this, I will share some of his lessons for living.

1. Always keep your nose to the ground. It's a fine way to sniff out good opportunities, and let people know you're serious about your business.

2. Be friendly to men, women, children and other animals. It doesn't matter if they're big or little, black or white. [Max is black, and he's most attracted to other white dogs.]

3. Know when to listen and when to speak up. Oftentimes, sitting patiently works better than hounding others for attention.

4. Life is like a water bowl. Sometimes it's half full, other times it's half empty. It's all a matter of how you look at things.

5. Brush your teeth, or else your breath will stink!

6. Sometimes it's okay to just lounge around and watch the world go by.

7. It's not very appealing to "kiss a**". Doing so usually comes right back to bite you in yours.

8. Being up to "your usual tricks" is only good for a short while. After a while, it tires you out -- and your audience.

9. Sometimes life throws you a bone...and you gotta take it.

10. Biting the hand that feeds you will get you nowhere.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Samuel L. Jackson Called When You Were Out

My husband pointed me in the direction of a link to a new movie: Snakes on a Plane, coming out in a little over a week. Not only does it feature information about the movie, it offers a treat: a phone call from Samuel L. Jackson -- or an email, if you're not willing to disclose a phone number.

Hubby told me to play a trick on someone I know who could very well have Samuel L. Jackson call him about business. The only difference is that Mr. Jackson would probably not be saying these things to my friend. But I could control what Mr. Jackson chooses to say.

But modern technology is so damn modern, that the system wouldn't recognize the name Pearl as the sender; I tried so many different sender names and the computer didn't recognize any of them, ie. didn't think they bore repeating, so I had to plagiarize a name that doesn't belong to me, in order to get Mr. Jackson to contact a friend. A different friend.

I could not play a trick on my husband's suggestion. Firstly, it might not be appreciated; secondly, it might not be appreciated.

But there is someone out there who will (hopefully) laugh because ___ sent Samuel L. Jackson her way. Remember, it's Samuel L. Jackson, NOT Laurence Fishburne, who's often mistaken for him. And as Mr. Jackson has been known to say: "May the force be with you!"

What's Black & White...

...and bled all over?

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) -- Twenty-one penguins were rescued on a hot east Texas highway Tuesday after a truck carrying the wildlife to a temporary home south of Houston overturned, said a state trooper.

Four penguins and some exotic fish were killed in the accident, including three penguins that were hit by passing motorists, said Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Richard Buchanan.

"The rest of the penguins kind of stayed together in the ditch," he said.

The truck, also carrying an octopus that was uninjured, was bound for Moody Gardens, a tourist destination in Galveston, an hour south of Houston, a resort spokeswoman said.

The wildlife was being transported to Texas from the Indianapolis Zoo while that zoo's ocean exhibit is being remodeled, said Jerri Hamacheck of Moody Gardens.

The trooper said it was the oddest traffic accident he had ever handled.

"We've worked several wrecks involving cows, horses, pigs, even fish, but this is the first where the live animals were penguins."

Buchanan said he was glad the accident was not worse.

"There was another truck full of snakes and alligators that was an hour ahead of them, so luckily we didn't have to deal with the alligators," Buchanan said.

The first truck arrived safely in Galveston by late afternoon, Hamacheck said.

Forgive me for my bad entree to this post...but it's 1:30 a.m., this piece just caught my eye on online CNN, and although it's sad, there's something rather comical to this scenario.

Can you imagine a husband and wife riding down this stretch of Texas highway and a penguin is waddling across the median of this 2-lane highway as their minivan approaches.

"Honey, is that a penguin?" she says, pointing straight ahead.

"Nuh-uh. Nothin' like that on this piece of road. I think it's time to get those eyeglasses adjusted."

"Honey," she cajoles. "I really think it's a penguin I'm seeing down there."

"Now what in blazes hell would a penguin be doin' in this neck of the woods? We ain't got no penguins runnin' 'round loose in Texas, last I heard."

And they bicker back and forth about the fact that it might or might not be a formally dressed bird...when suddenly C! R! U! N! C! H!

"What was that?" asks the wife.

"I'll stop the car to check," says her husband.

He does just that, gets out, walks around the minivan, his wife watching in the rearview mirror all along. He gets back into the car.

"You know what, honey?"


"I owe you a mighty fine apology. What you were seeing was in fact a penguin. I mean, what you saw WAS a penguin!"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Melancholy Baby

I came home a short while ago from walking Max.

Could somebody please tell me how for the past several weeks, we were experiencing heat waves; even at 10, 11 and 12 at night, the air was so thick, you could (barely) cut it with a knife, yet tonight, I could've stood to wear a jacket, could have worn closed shoes.

I just know it -- fall is in the air. The fresh coolness of the evening tells me so...and in a couple more weeks, the coolness of the mornings will echo that message.

Don't get me wrong...I love this type of weather I just got a sense of while out on the walk. Give me fresh, give me a light breeze, give me slightly cool and I'll be a kept woman. But this weather makes me melancholy in thinking that summer is nearing its end, school is soon starting, and the cycle continues...

Where did those summer days go? Where were all the plans we had for family outings? Why did they not happen? Where is all the time I'd planned to spend to help review math with my daughter and speech with my son? Where did all our good intentions fly to?

So fall is just around the corner, people. I guess I'd better dig out the Welcome mat for when it formally arrives. I'd just much rather prefer to put out a sign saying, Gone Fishing. Closed for the Season.

Summer, and every season, signifies beginnings and endings...and that probably lends itself to my sense of melancholy.

As a child, to me summer seemed endless, but as an adult, it flies by. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Who prefers to keep autumn from showing its face and would rather keep making summer memories for a much longer period of time?

Sunday, August 06, 2006


It has often been said that there is a thin line between madness and genius.(most interestingly enough, when I first typed this, I typed "a think line")

It has also often been said that art means something different to everyone.

Andy Warhol exemplified both these statements. Whether he was indeed a madman or genius stands to be proven -- of course he had some of his freaky quirks and phobias, we all know that -- but he was CREATIVE. And he defined art in a very different and very special way.

I used to view Warhol's work as that of a nutjob. Couldn't I copy a Brillo box or soup can, depict it in several colors and stick it on a canvas? But he was so much more than I discovered not all so long ago on an evening at the Art Gallery of Toronto, together with some friends.

It wasn't that I was overly anxious to see this special exhibit, it wasn't that I would've done anything to garner tickets, but the opportunity came along, and I grabbed it. More than anything, it was an evening that was giving me back a bit of my youth.

I used to go fairly frequently to local, smaller galleries and to the larger Art Gallery of Ontario when I was younger, when I was single. There were always special shows to see, gifts to buy at the gift shops and friends to share the experience with. But in all the years I've been married, I don't recall going back to the gallery -- there was never the time, nobody thought of it, nobody relished trekking downtown by subway any longer when we were all married and living way out in the suburbs.

So getting together with three friends for this outing was special. And seeing Warhol's show was special.

He was a most interesting/unusual person, with a bizarre outlook on the world, which translated into his "masterpieces". The particular special exhibit now in Toronto is on loan from the Walker Center in Minneapolis and it was guest-curated by Canadian film director David Cronenberg.

This exhibition brings together more than 20 of the greatest paintings created by Andy Warhol, the icon of Pop Art.

In 1962, Warhol began using the silkscreen technique to make paintings - many of which presented serial images of stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. Also in the early 1960s, Warhol created paintings of disturbing disaster imagery, depicting graphic car crashes, suicides and the unremitting motif of an electric chair. The polarity within Warhol's imagination that pairs celebrity with tragedy forms the focus of this exhibition, which showcases several of the artist's rarely-seen early masterworks and films.

We are each individual -- in our behavior, in our thinking. Andy certainly was that, and it is depicted in his weird (to some, "wonderful") films; one of them was like a test screen but without talking. The subjects just stood before the camera doing what they'd normally be doing. It was like a 1960s version of a web cam. There was a film of Rock Hudson sleeping, and the camera was on him all the time -- this wasn't footage screened for a sleep disorders clinic, this was simply Rock Hudson in lullaby-land, and Andy thought it would be cool to film.

The voyeur in Andy comes through loud and clear in several of the very sexual films that were playing, and in essence, he makes all his viewers become voyeurs, as well.

It is worth Googling Warhol and his life. It is worth viewing an exhibit of his if it comes to your neck of the woods.

Maybe it was even worth it to paint a soup can or two...or three...or four...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It's A...Whatchamacallit

This a.m., my 6 1/2 y.o. son complained of an itchy foot -- inside his Crocs. We pulled off his shoes and socks, indeed saw a red foot and no doubt a bug bite, put a cold compress on it and forgot about it.

Later in the day, he was resting beside me, barefoot. I looked at his foot again, saw the raised skin and said, "Oh. So do you think it's a mosquito bite?"


"Do you think it's a rash?"


"Do you think it's a blister?"



"No. It's a...whatchamacallit? It's a...BOO-BOO!"

(cross-posted on Our Kids Speak)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Swiss Miss

I'm Swiss by osmosis -- and by paying many Swiss francs many years ago to earn that nationality alongside my name.

I'm not that patriotic, but I do recall that August 1st is a Swiss National Holiday.

Instead of shvitzing in this heat upstairs by the computer, I should be out there somewhere, on a hillside, lighting fireworks and marching around with Chinese lanterns.

When I was about 12 years old, I visited my great-uncle and great-aunt in Geneva, Switzerland. It was August 1st and off we traipsed somewhere in the city's outskirts, I believe, to stand on a hillside and watch the glorious colors as the sky lit up with fireworks.

Funny thing about that? I was not even Swiss then! And now, here I am Swiss, and not lighting fireworks. What's wrong with me!!!

The Right To Write

Many of us suffer from writer's block. We didn't truly know we were writers until we had the urge to write and nothing was happening. That has happened to the best of us and has given us a syndrome: writer's block. "I really wanted to put something on paper, but I've been suffering --- from writer's block." "I think I have what you have -- writer's block." "I have so much to say, it just doesn't want to come out." Sound familiar?

A stagnant time. A brain lull. A quiet...because the disquiet and the need to write about it isn't there.

I own several books that have writing exercises meant to open your mind. Have I used any of these books ever? Nah...they just sit on the shelf and wait. Once in a while, I open them and just read some of the writing prompts because: 1. they are ridiculous or 2. they are often funny.

A wonderful Web site, offers a section of writing prompts. Some of the ideas are so creative and would make wonderful assignments for school kids. Here's the latest prompt:

Hollywood producers are making a film based on your life and have put you in charge of casting. They want it as realistic as possible, so they ask that you pick actors and actresses who look the part. Who would you pick to play your family and friends, and, more importantly, who will play you?

Now, I want to tell you about my friend Randi. She wrote a wonderful post about her writer's block. What is the key word in that previous sentence: "wrote"! Someone with writer's block wrote a post, claiming that they were suffering from writer's block. Huh? Not only did she write a post, she wrote a funny post, which is often her style, and a wonderful and creative image accompanied that post.

Guess what, Randi? Your post about writer's block inspired this post... Now what do you have to say about that?!

If you think you suffer from writer's block, don't try too hard, and don't announce it to us; just step back for a while, go about your life and something no doubt will inspire you. Whether that's tracking the mundane activities in your daily life, whether it's writing about family and friends, pets, and professional people; whether it's skipping through your blogroll and peeking in at others' posts, something is sure to stir you. (my previous post was inspired by my looking through a Talbots catalog) And guess what? No doubt soon enough you'll have "something to write home about" and I'm guessing the ideas will just keep coming!

Today's post has been brought to you by the letters W R I T E and by the exclamation point!