Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This is our new parakeet, Stella.  When we first placed her in her cage, Stella flapped around desperately searching for a place to hide where the scary leering people couldn't see her anymore.

Nailed it

That was a little over a week ago.  Stella eventually crawled out from under her seed dish but spent most of her first week lying low and evaluating her new situation.

 If I walked too close to the cage, she panicked and became a pretty blur. 

When I walked away, she simmered down but remained on high alert.

After one week, we've reached the point where she no longer suffers a hysterical flapping panic attack when I reach in to change her water.  We're getting somewhere.

A couple days ago, Stella thought she might possibly be comfortable enough in her new home to chirp.

Which made all of us very excited and caused a family stampede into the kitchen --

Stella did not like the sudden overwhelming attention --

And since then has made herself very small.

I put a mirror in her cage so now Stella thinks she has company.

 Parakeets aren't the brightest bulbs in the animal world

I come from a parakeet family.  There was always a parakeet flapping around somewhere in my childhood home.  My favorite, named Magoo, loved to eat cereal.  He dive-bombed my dad's cereal bowl every morning, usually skimming the surface and stealing a flake in the process but occasionally missing and landing right in the middle of the bowl.  He had a need, and the need was Wheaties.

Magoo was trained to sit on our fingers and could talk.  He was eventually killed by our dog but that's not a memory I care to relive.

My mom had parakeets before she had children.  She had a parakeet back when she and my dad were dating.  Dad poked at that parakeet so many times, it became a very angry parakeet and began attacking any hand that entered the cage, including my mom's.  It's still a point of contention in their relationship.

Years later, when she was pregnant with my sister, my mom's parakeet got profoundly sick.  The bird lost all its feathers during the course of its illness and became a naked, shivering, blinking, miserable presence in Mom's everyday life.  Mom, pregnant and hormonally challenged, couldn't take it anymore.

She took the bird to the vet but was unable to say she wanted it put down.  She hemmed and hawed and beat around the parakeet-killing bush until the lady behind the desk said, loud enough for the entire waiting room to hear, "OH, SO YOU WANT US TO KILL YOUR BIRD?"

Heads swiveled.  Mom whispered "yes" and ran.  The lady behind the counter called after her, "YOU WANNA KEEP THE CAGE AFTERWARDS OR WHAT?" but Mom said "KEEP IT" as she pushed out the office door with her belly. 

All this to say parakeets are in my DNA.  And by saying that, maybe I can convince myself it's OK to add yet another pet to our burgeoning galley of pets which now includes a praying mantis, an ant farm, about fifty aquatic snails, a schnauzer, the mouse living under our refrigerator, and a bunch of crickets which really shouldn't count since they're only here to be Mantisy's dinner.  But still, I gotta feed those little f*ckers. 

It takes some time to train a bird to love you but we'll get there.  I look forward to the day she does this --

Wheatie bomb!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oh the wonderful things we'll make you do

Lucien flipped someone the bird in math class last week.  He pried his middle finger up out of his clenched fist and said, "I'm going to show you my middle finger now."

He got in trouble and I got a call from the teacher.  She said he didn't seem to know exactly what it meant to flip the bird but he knew it wasn't nice.  I explained the subtle yet loaded sociological meaning of the middle finger to him later that evening and he said, "OK, I'll only use it when I get real mad."

I went out with a friend, Seattle Twin Mom, Saturday night and mentioned the middle finger story.  She told me when she was about Lucien's age, her brother (who is six years older) told her showing your middle finger meant "Have a nice day."  So there sweet little Seattle Twin Mom went, flipping the bird all over her small hometown.  Her mom got a few phone calls from concerned citizens wondering why that cute little girl down the street suddenly turned into a real a**hole.

Alex and I try hard to do fun things with the kids on the weekends.  The kids don't always enjoy our "fun" ideas but they are still dependent and small and semi-portable so don't have much choice in the matter. 

Alex took the kids to a Japanese restaurant for lunch recently, one of those places where food circles the room on a conveyor belt and you have to grab your lunch as it passes by your table.  Lucien and Coco initially thought food whizzing by on a conveyor belt was awesome.  Their enthusiasm fizzled when they realized those containers of mackerel bits and octopus were lunch.

At first she was merely suspicious

 But then the sushi made her sad

So much for Japanese.  Let's try Vietnamese.  We've got a great Vietnamese place down the street from our house so we attempted more food horizon broadening.

We knew it was a failed experiment when Coco started eating plain lettuce

There's one food the kids will never turn down -- crappy U.S. macarons.

I'm not a food snob in general (raised on wiener bean casserole, after all) but there's something about the French macaron that's sacred and holds a very special place in my heart.  I have yet to find a macaron in the U.S. that truly captures what's happening over there in Paris.  Whenever a new French bakery-type place is recommended to me -- seriously, their macarons are the real deal! -- I take a bite and realize it is merely another pale ghostly imitation of the real deal. 


The highlight of our most recent macaron attempt was when Lucien pointed to the counter and said, "Look, they have Macklemores!"  It couldn't have been a better fusion of our son's Paris and Seattle lives.

(For those wondering what the hell that meant, Macklemore is a rapper from Seattle)

There's just something off with the texture

There was a Life Sciences exposition at the Pacific Science Center over the weekend.  Lucien is a science-loving kid so we knew he would love it.

Except he didn't.  The brain table, which had real human brains cut in half and reeking of formaldehyde, made him knead his hands nervously and ask to go home. Guess we should stick to bugs and leave people out of it.

The kids are going to start refusing to leave the house with us

It was the most glorious Fall day on Sunday so we pulled out the scooters and went on a nice long walk through our fine city.   We didn't fully take into account Seattle's topography when planning our route.  There are lots of hills up in here.

We realized we weren't going to make it home easily when we saw Lucien, two blocks behind us and trying to scoot up a large San Francisco-style hill, yelling around about hating his scooter a whole, whole lot.  We eventually grabbed both of them by their jackets and began pushing/pulling them home. This would have been manageable except I wore slippery-soled boots.  I would slip while pulling on a kid, lose my grip on the kid, and the kid would start rolling backwards screaming before leaping off his scooter into some bushes.

It's family fun, kids.

Al and I left the kids with a sitter later that afternoon to go watch the Seahawks game at a rowdy Capitol Hill bar.  It was nice to get out together.  The kids were also thrilled because we were far away and no longer inflicting our ideas upon them.

I was reading a local news blog lately.  There was a story about some recent robberies in the C.D., one in particular in which a police helicopter located the burglary suspect hiding on someone's roof.   The following was written in the comments.

"...If it was a random 9pm burglary – then that is a freaky deal. We should all be up in arms and patroling the streets with pick handles.  We really need more detail on this kind of stuff. It makes a huge difference in the perception of risk. If it’s just thug on thug crime – I’m going to be leary of thugs. But if they be bustin into just anybody's house I’m gonna be all hillbilly."

What does it mean to get all hillbilly?  I'm picturing a lot of straw chewing and wearing of tank tops.  Is the idea to confuse burglars until they forget where they are, become disoriented and wander out of the C.D.?  I guess it's worth a try -- yee-haw, y'all.

Hillbilly is a decent idea but an even better way to fight crime is karate.  Lucien's pretty good at karate but Coco has a ferocity about her never before seen in a four-year-old karate novice.  Sure, sometimes she turns a somersault for no dang reason in the middle of the mat but other than that, she gets mean out there.

Hang in there, kids,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Worms, bloody brains, and singing bacon

I love throwing Halloween parties.  Halloween is a holiday that doesn't take itself seriously.  The menu planning, the decorating, the wardrobe consideration -- all are more fun for Halloween because they're based on what's weirder/funnier/grosser and deliberated while eating handfuls of mini Snickers.

Indeed, I love throwing Halloween parties right up until the hour before the party begins.  At that point I hate throwing Halloween parties.  No matter how seamless party preparations have been up until then, the hour before is when everything suddenly goes inexplicably wrong.

That's when the sound system crashes, annihilating the carefully constructed Halloween playlist, and the mixologist friend who was in charge of making the rosemary-infused Aperol punch cancels so I have to learn how to make it myself in five minutes-- and there's math involved because ounces and milliliters are different -- and I burn the last batch of my mummy wieners, and I realize we're hopelessly short on ice, and my "blood spattered popcorn" becomes "dirt spattered popcorn" when I drop half of it on the floor.

My Halloween costume was inspirational...

"We CAN throw a party," says Rosie

...but it didn't stop me from muttering "I'm never doing this again" while scooping handfuls of popcorn off the floor into my mouth and yelling at Alex to get up on a chair in the middle of the room.  Plan B for the missing music was him singing the playlist into a toy microphone.

A piece of bacon singing "Thriller."  Best party ever.

The sound system got its sh*t together and started working after the first people arrived.

As soon as our friends started showing up, all party-throwing angst disappeared. 

I could never regret you, Green Fairy.

Or you, Government Shutdown. 

You're worth it, Early-Onset Dementia

A sign of a successful Halloween menu is when guests not only won't eat the food, they won't stand within several feet of the table.

they don't want the worms

or the kitty litter

or the bloody brain

My sister -- I'll call her Raba -- recently moved to Seattle!  She moved here to be with her girlfriend, Zee.  They've since gotten engaged and we're all very excited.  I love those all-girl weddings.

 Yep, Raba and Zee are vampires. Get over it already!

Raba and I have always been told we look alike. One friend at the Halloween party talked at length to Raba not realizing she was my sister.  At one point he interrupted her to say, "It's so, so weird but you and MJ could honestly be twins." 

He eventually found out we were sisters.  I think he was relieved by the DNA explanation but also a little disappointed -- because for just a moment, the world was a mystical and wondrous place.

It ended up being a late night involving dancing by the drunker guests.  In a profound moment of reconciliation, Contractor God showed up (he's alive!) and danced solo to "Rump Shaker." I decided to forgive him for abandoning our house project.  It's hard to stay mad at a middle-aged man twerking in your living room under a blacklight.

All I wanna do is zooma zoom zoom zoom and a boom boom.

Have some pumpkin vomit 

Halloween isn't just for adults. We shared it with the kids, too.  On Halloween we joined our circle of C.D. friends at the neighborhood cinema to watch Halloween cartoons, eat some dinner and drink some beers.

That's Snow White and Zombie Doctor mesmerized by Frankenweenie.

Then we all descended upon the neighborhood.  Trick or treat chaos ensued.

Here in the C.D. we cross streets in groups of 50 

And take group photos in front of corner stores 

Hey, that's a pretty good deal on those packs of Newports...

Bummer Halloween is over.  But in happy holiday news, I've already found Alex's Christmas present --

or maybe I'll go with this --

Either way, I'm wrapping that guy in something.

And lastly, this just happened to Oscar the schnauzer --

He had surgery on his eye and is now the most despondent animal on the planet.  Not only is he pain-medicated to the hilt, he can't navigate doorways with his cone.  He often catches the side of the cone on the door frame.  He then stands there frozen, confused, groggily swaying, and makes quiet whining sounds until I come get him.  Oscar's Halloween costume was misery this year.

See you next time, goofy holiday,