Tuesday, March 25, 2008

B is for Belated

My cousin, B, had a birthday last week. I didn't forget. In fact, I even used my top-secret high-tech back-channel resources (i.e. I asked my sister, who asked another sister) to verify the exact date. So on the appropriate day (the 24th), I sat down to record some thoughts and memories of B. Of course, as soon as I was situated, Grace demanded to air her thoughts also. I tried deflecting her chubby fists as she batted at the keyboard, but she's surprisingly adept with electronics.

"Anyone who knows B admires her wfjlkkkkkkkkkk, " we wrote. "B's afawwwwwww is pppppp."

It didn't take me long to realize my heartfelt message had become garbled. Perhaps even obscene. (It's hard to know with Grace.) And so the rest of the tribute had to wait.

I hadn't planned to make it wait so long, of course, but finding quiet time with the computer has been tricky. To tell the truth, though, I'm glad I had a little extra time to ruminate. Over the last several days, I've enjoyed bouncing around thoughts of B. BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB (Grace has too.) But as fun as it's been, it's time to let those crazy bees out of my head. So here goes!

B is for balanced. B has this quality about her that's a little hard to describe, but if you know her, you'll know what I mean. She's steady. She's solid. However chaotic things get, B stays calm and stable. She's not easily swayed by whim or trend or gossip or drama, and she doesn't get all worked up about things that don't matter. I love that about her.

Don't misunderstand. B isn't a drama queen, but she's definitely not boring. In this case, B is for NOT boring. As I flipped through photos, I couldn't find many featuring B with a serious expression. Why bother, when there are so many silly faces to be made?

In fact, I think it's safe to say that B is for blast. As in having one. My senior year of college, I lived with my sister, Peanut and B lived with her sister, Taffy a few blocks away. The four of us spent a lot of time together. We went to football games, planned parties and orchestrated dates. We watched movies. We hung out. We ate brownies from the sidewalk (when necessary).Here we are trying to decide what to wear to an upcoming dance. That's B there in the flip flops. And here's B and me with our friend Uri about to leave on a top secret spy mission, by way of a local dance club. And, yes, of course we caught 'em. The bad guys, that is.

I did actually graduate from college, but thinking back on it now it's hard to see how. I don't remember much studying. But I do remember having a lot of fun. B is central to most of my favorite memories.

B is for brainy. You know that one book? With the guy and the thing at the place? B's read it. And she's read that other one too. She's always in the middle of a book, she'll be on to a new one the next time you see her. Watch out, though, cause this B's in to more than just book learnin'. Just before B got married, I was in her room helping her get ready to move. During that process, I made the mistake of taking the lid off a shallow white box she had stacked in a corner with several others just like it. Much to my alarm, the box was full of neatly pinned and labeled moths. I might have jumped (and screamed) just a little bit as I dropped the box (don't worry, they were already dead). Those specimen have probably crumbled to dust by now, but I bet B has something new packed away in those innocent looking boxes. So be careful snooping around closets, cause B is for (dead) bugs!

Bug collector or not, B is for brave. If you haven't heard the story of her evacuation from Albania, you really need to. Even before that narrow escape, though, I knew B was a toughie. When we'd get together growing up, we'd usually end up at a playground a few blocks from B's family's house. Occasionally there were run-ins with other kids who (stupidly) didn't want to do things our way. And sometimes bullies made the mistake of picking on the little kids. But not with B around. She was the first to stand up to thugs. Usually, push didn't come to shove and the conflict was resolved peacefully (if not quietly) with the rival bands of children heading off in opposite directions. But we always knew, B had our backs. The most lasting marks of these conflicts, I think, was that confidence--knowing that someone who loves you is looking out for you.

An equally vivid image from those years shows B's more tender side. Growing up, our families were lucky to be involved in the Hill Cumorah Pageant. One year all of us cousins prepared a musical number called "Because He Loves Us." B translated the song into American Sign Language to make it easier for her brother N, who did most of his communication by sign, to participate. She taught the whole group the signs for the chorus, and signed the verses herself (with another brother, Paul). The effect was quite powerful. The recollection still brings tears to my eyes. We still sing it as a family on occasion, and every time I think of B signing the verses. In my mind, B is for "Because He Loves Us."

I guess what it all comes down to is B is for blessed, because that's what my life is with B in it.


I love you, B. Happy (belated) Birthday!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Buffalo winter

I just made a cake that reminds me of winter in Buffalo. Mmmm... I knew Buffalo winters weren't going to be that bad after all...
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Sunday, March 16, 2008


For whatever reason, the sight of our back patio from one week ago makes me hungry for coconut cake. Mmmm....

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Having your cake and eating it too

Last night I mentioned to Boss that I wanted to write a post articulating all my grumbles about people in this country wanting to have their cake and eat it too. After making bad decisions about home loans, people want to be bailed out and banks want to be bailed out. They chose the road to the high profit/cheap payment up front knowing full well that there was a risk involved, but when the risk comes into true play they cry foul and want the government to "save" them from themselves. Frankly, it makes me a little bit angry.

It reminds me, I told Boss, of the democratic delegate situation in Michigan and Florida. Those states violated party rules specifically calculating the increased impact having an early spotlight in the race would offer them. They decided rules couldn't hold them back from grubbing up all the weight they could in choosing the next president. That was their choice. But NOW, of course, it's all changed. There are daily sermons on how every voice needs to be heard, every vote counted, how it would be tragic NOT to count their votes that they freely gave up through their deliberate grab for early influence. Again, it makes me angry.

While I was supporting Romney during the primary I saw some clips from Glenn Beck that were pretty fair minded. I never knew anything about him before that. Today sealed the deal of my fanhood when I read his column that voices essentially my exact opinion here, including precisely these two examples. So, my post can be much shorter. Just read his.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm sick

And I'm miserable.

And like any self-respecting doctor's wife would, I've done a little research, and based on my symptoms, I've narrowed it down to the three* most likely causes: anthrax, malaria, or ebola. Or maybe a combination of all three.

So you probably shouldn't come over. I mean, they say anthrax isn't spread by person-to-person contact, but do you really want to risk it?

PS: It's only three because I already ruled out scurvy.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A trip to Agina

What's that? You've never heard of Agina?

Neither had I, until a few weeks ago. At first it was just a casually-mentioned locale in Sam's stories. ("And I'm the bus driver and Alli and Ella and Max and Ruby and MJ and Dora and Clifford the Big Red Dog and Uncle Michael get on the bus and we drive to Agina and eat ice cream.") But it gradually became an obsession. Everyone Sam knows lives in Agina! Every fun thing happens in Agina! And finally, every trip in the car should be a trip to Agina!

I'd love to take him to Agina! From his descriptions ("By the rivert! With the dragons! And the mermaids!") it sounds lovely. Unfortunately, my new Garmin GPS does not recognize "Agina" as a plotable destination. And I'm not about to ask for directions, as "Agina" rhymes conspicuously with, well, you know what it rhymes with. So that leaves Sam as my only source of information. I asked lots of probing questions, ("What is Agina's primary commercial export?") but "by the rivert," was the most specific geographic information Sam was willing to provide.

Unfortunately, he's eager to provide that information to everyone he meets. Yesterday, he went so far as to yell "Hey. Hey! HEY!" until he got the attention of the Wal-Mart customer service associate who was foolishly processing my return instead of listening to him. And then he rattled off a long list of planned activities: "And we will go swimming in Agina! In the rivert in Agina! And play with toys in Agina! And have candy in Agina!" The associate eyed me warily, but I didn't bother to explain. What could I say? "He's not so good with geography. Or anatomy." So we just headed to the back of the store to buy diapers.

Finally, we had a breakthrough. Turns out one of the DVDs we checked out from the library yesterday features Dora the Explorer traveling the world and stopping at famous landmarks, including the Great Wall of China. Sam was elated to see his favorite explorer at his favorite destination. That's right folks. "Agina" is just another way to say "China." "Of China," if you're going to be all formal about it. Or if you are three.

I don't have any idea who introduced Sam to the Great Wall in the first place. It could have been anyone--those pesky Little Einsteins, or their enemies, the Backyardigans. Or it might have been Dora's sneaky cousin, Diego. But whoever it was, I hope they never visit Venus.