Monday, February 28, 2011


I wish I could muster up a true abhorrence of dirt and dust, but right now a sickness has rendered me apathetic to my surroundings. In other words, things are bad here. This probably life-threatening illness has strangled my vocal chords, making singing Disney princess songs while sweeping impossible, so of course I don’t want to clean. Plus, I have this headache that seems to be aggravated by motion.

The kids are not all that pleased with me. Caleb and Ben came home from school to find me lying on the couch.

“Mom! Hey mom! Can we have a snack?”

“There is no mom, there is only Zuul,” I replied.

Honest, when I talk I sound like Kathleen Turner if Kathleen Turner had smoked three packs a day.

Plus I have a toothache. An ache within the cavernous depths of my tooth. This is my first-ever toothache, and I must say, it too is aggravating the ache higher up in my head. It’s this horrible throbbing that emanates through the nerve and into my jaw. I’m kind of hoping it just stops, but I have a feeling I’m going to have to succumb to some dental work.

I saw my dentist last week. I had lost a filling about six months ago and finally made an appointment to get it replaced. For the past six months, the tooth has been a horrible food trap, forcing me to floss after every meal and snack. Usually, I figured if I was already flossing in that area, I might as well do the whole mouth. The decay in my tooth got deeper, but my gums have never been in better shape.

So I went to get the tooth fixed last week. My dentist, whom I adore, announced he had joined the army. Immediately, I was concerned about how this was going to affect me.

“How is this going to affect me?” I whined.

He assured me it wouldn’t affect me, as he was just joining the army reserves and would still be maintaining his practice. I may have commented that he seemed a bit old to join the army, and he admitted this was the case, especially since he was “falling apart.”

“You’re falling apart?” I asked. “How is this going to affect ME?”

He told me he had recently suffered from gallstones and was scheduled to have his gallbladder out. I informed him that I had already been through that arduous process. We commiserated over the incredible pain of having a gallbladder attack.

“Isn’t it just the most horrible pain ever?” he asked.

“Worst pain of my life,” I insisted. “Worse than childbirth. And I gave birth to twins.” He reached for the phone.

“I’d like you to please tell that to my wife.” (I didn’t.) “How long did you last before you went to the hospital?” he asked.

“Oh, I was up all night and my husband made me go to the ER in the morning.” His eyes got wide. “Why? How long were you in pain?”

“Ten minutes. I was in pain for ten minutes before I insisted on going to the hospital.”


He filled in my tooth and warned me that the decay had been very deep and that he had drilled frighteningly close to the nerve. He warned that the pulp within the tooth could swell and a root canal might be necessary. If this should occur, I would experience pain, and I should call him right away.

He stated that now that he knew my high tolerance for pain, if I called he would know it was serious and he would get me right in.

That’s a lot of pressure on a girl.

I’m in pain, but not, y’know, horrible, awful pain. This might be because I swiped some of my husband’s codeine. Which, by the way, is another reason perhaps we should be sending more women and fewer men off to war.

My husband has a sinus infection and his male PA gives him cold medicine laced with codeine. I give birth to twins, and I get extra-strength motrin. What the heck?

Still, I think a visit to the dentist and possibly the doctor is in my imminent future. I don’t know if I mentioned that my throat hurts, too. Not a horrible hurt, mind you, but I can’t really eat. I would say I hurt from my shoulders to the tippy top of my head. Gotta get that all fixed up so I can get back to singing… and sweeping.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prelude to Insomnia

So, last week, I set my turkey baster on fire while cooking my homemade tomato sauce. The reason my turkey baster was lounging there next to the burner isn’t really relevant. I may have panicked a bit and blown at the fire, which only fanned the flames. My next course of action was to throw a washcloth on it and sort of half-yell, “Um- fire situation here! Small fire!” The husband came in on his white steed, took over, and then gave me his “intense” look.

This is why I don’t cook.

The family eventually made it to the table, and John attempted polite dinner conversation.

“Did you hear about what’s going on in Wisconsin?”

“Yes, they won the stupid Super Bowl. I was present at the game, if you recall. The women were sitting on the floor while the men were sitting on the couches? Remember?”

“I don’t recall that, but that’s actually not what I’m talking about.”

“Well then please proceed and tell me what’s going on in Wisconsin.”

“The new conservative governor is pushing new legislation, trying to make it illegal for government workers to unionize, and people are totally freaking out. 25,000 protested.”

“That’s quite a few people for Wisconsin.”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“Guess the Super Bowl afterglow is over.”


“They make cheese in Wisconsin.”

“That’s true.” Pause. “You don’t really care about what’s going on in Wisconsin, do you?”

“Not at this particular moment. I’m still mourning the loss of the turkey baster.”

“Yes, with all the basting you do, I understand your grief. So. What did you do today?”

“I’ve been working on the ultimate workout playlist. Speaking of which, I have a question for you. Is there an easier way to scroll up and down on the iPod? I put my thumb across the circle, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

“Let me see this- this is how you work it.”

“Oh! You scroll up and down by going AROUND the circle! The middle of the circle doesn’t do anything!” Pause. “You know who would really enjoy my kickass workout playlist? Those people in Wisconsin. It was would totally pump them up. Great protesting songs. Like, for instance…” I scrolled through the songs like I’d been doing it for years, “"Right Now" by Van Halen.”

“Van- Van Halen?”

“Yes. 'Right Now' by Van Halen.” More “intense looks” commence. “Are we not a fan of Van Halen?”

Apparently we are not.

Later that evening, I curl into bed with my tattered copy of Great Expectations. (You think it is tattered because I have read it over and over again. Not the case. It is a used Penguin copy I “borrowed” a very long time ago when I was a substitute teacher. Imagine what the Wisconsin protestors would do with that piece of information.)

John yawns and gets ready to turn off his light.

“Y’know?” I say, “Reading Dickens is a definite aphrodisiac.”

John perks right up.



“You just said reading Dickens is an aphrodisiac.”

“I said no such thing. Why on earth would I say that? Stop looking at me that way.”

“Here are your words, verbatim, ‘Reading Dickens is a definite aphrodisiac.’”

“I said reading Dickens is a great soporific device.” (Pointed yawn.) “See? I’m sooo sleepy.”

(Sometimes I confuse words with others. Aphrodisiac might be one of those words.)

“Just admit that you said aphrodisiac.”

I consider this.

“It’s been a long day, what with the compiling of great eighties hair band songs, nearly burning the house down, and now I’m trying hard to work my way through this enchanting but sleep-inducing tale of redemption. We’ve had a trifle misunderstanding! I’m not even sure why you married me, anyway. I obviously have the IQ of a gnat.”

John mumbles something about the reason he married me into his pillow, and it sounds like it had nothing to do with my brains.  I read to him in a British accent, because reading Dickens in a cockney accent is just so fun, and he's asleep in five.  I’m left alone to ponder what the heck Pip sees in Estella when he could have the perfectly lovely, warm, and hardworking Biddy. The house still smells faintly of burnt rubber, and I can’t get Van Halen out of my head. I'm so sleepy, but won't drift off for another three hours.

Van Halen and Dickens, by the way, don’t mesh very well. 

Sometimes, that’s just the way things are.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

111 Miles

This past Monday marked fifteen Valentine's Days come and gone with the husband, and for the first time ever, we were apart. Not only that, but I was not wearing my wedding ring. Took it right off. Because my fingers were swollen like sausages.

We spent the weekend up in the Adirondacks with friends who had invited us to go snowmobiling. Amazingly, my parents were each able to take a set of children on short notice, my friend (God bless her) took the dog, and we were good to go. John and I left Friday late afternoon for Old Forge, which is the snowmobiling mecca of the east. I’m not even joking. Instead of cars, the small town is jam-packed with snowmobiles and people strolling about in full winter regalia, looking like rather colorful astronauts.

After meeting our friends at the inn, we headed to a restaurant at the bottom of a steep hill. Inside, the walls by the door were lined with heavy jackets and helmets. Men and women wandered around in snow bibs (which I haven’t worn since I was twelve), their cheeks rosy from the brisk night air. I felt conspicuous with my corduroy coat; everyone else donned a brand-name snowmobiling jacket: Yamaha, Ski-doo, Polaris…

A fire kept things cozy, and a live band played an Indigo Girls song in the corner. We found a booth and our friends, Chris and Kim, gave us the snowmobiling lowdown.  When they were done, I asked them a series of questions mainly concerning the chances of me crashing into a tree. I then went over my very particular care plan should I suffer a spinal injury, insisting that no one resuscitate and that they donate all my organs to those in need, but not to “science.” I’m not sure if this ever happens, but I’m not comfortable with my heart being in a jar in some professor’s lab.

Chris is a doctor, a medical kind, mind you, and I didn’t want him to take any life-saving measures. You can’t raise twins if you’re paralyzed. You just can’t. Better to leave that to my husband and his new, hideously unattractive nanny.

Saturday morning, I put on my snow gear, which included under armour, jeans, a shirt and a sweater, snow bibs, a jacket, boots, gloves, and an unwieldy helmet with a radio attached to it. I took my first spin on the snowmobile around the parking lot, where I did a lot of embarrassing and girlish shrieking. This is where I learned that arm flapping when freaked out doesn’t work well when on a snowmobile. You tend to lose your balance, and become susceptible to tumbling over.

We headed off to the trails, which meant crossing an asphalt road. You can’t steer a snowmobile if there’s no snow. You have to position yourself just right and step on it, waiting until you reach snow again to maneuver your machine. I found this slightly disconcerting.

We made it to the trail! I was doing well! And then I drove into a ditch.  We were only 5 minutes into our venture. The ditch, I soon found out, happened to also be a small creek. Absolutely mortified and somewhat stunned, I crawled out of the ditch and waited for help. Chris carries rope in his sled, and within moments, five guys had stopped to help.

“It’s my first time!” I kept insisting. A guy patted me on the arm.

“You’re doing great!” That was so nice of him to say since clearly I wasn’t doing great at all. Driving your sled into a ditch is the exact opposite of doing great.

It only took ten minutes for the men to haul the sled out of the ditch. Both the sled and I were unharmed, so I got back on and gave it another whirl. Slowly, I gained back my confidence. John, directly ahead of me, radioed me every couple of minutes:

“You okay?”

“Yes. And you don’t have to go so slow,” I called back, irritated. And as soon as I said that, I went into my second ditch.

“It’s not as bad, this time!” I insisted. It wasn’t. It only took three men to haul me out. Fairly certain our hosts would insist I go back to the hotel room and stay a safe distance from their snowmobiles, I was surprised by their good humor and their encouragement. I got back on.

Chris gave me rather simple but invaluable advice. “Look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go.” After that- no more ditches. I think that statement may be bigger than even snowmobiling. I’m hoping Caleb will use it as a quote in his valedictorian speech.

We rode through wide trails, skinny trails, over bridges, along steep ravines. We rode on nearly deserted roads to a diner in a small town, where we hung out jackets and snow bibs to dry. After falling in the snow and (ahem) water, my butt was a trifle cold and damp, so I stuck it up against the heater until it got good and toasty. Again, the only people in the diner were snowmobilers.

The next leg of the trip took us across the frozen Stillwater Reservoir, a six mile jaunt of smooth, fast riding. I was told not to be concerned about the slush, that it was from cracks in the surface where water had seeped through. I wasn’t concerned about it until I got to it, and then I became fairly certain I was going to perish within the icy waters, an ironic death, since I am a fairly good swimmer.  (Not to get braggy.)

There was a good amount of mist over the lake, and soon John’s taillights disappeared, and though I knew Kim was right behind me, I felt pretty isolated. We followed a line of scraggly trees to the lights at the edge of the lake, where a secluded hamlet awaited us. Beaver River is only accessible by boat or snowmobile and has a total population of 8. I assume these 8 people run the three businesses within the hamlet. We stopped at the Norridgewock III Resort, where a restaurant was full of more chapped faces, helmets, and people huddled over cups of coffee and hot cocoa. I drank hot cocoa with ample whipped cream.

We headed out about fifteen minutes before dusk, thereby again traversing Stillwater Reservoir during the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen. We drove toward the brilliant orange light, the mist dissipating into the air, the stars just beginning to emerge. It was absolutely surreal and beautiful. As we approached land, Kim called over the radio,

“I’m having so much fun hitting all of these moguls!” Kim is kind of a daredevil. Her husband responded,

“DON’T HIT THE MOGULS! We don’t know what they are!”

I’m concerned about slush and Kim is flying over rocky islands.

The remainder of the ride was in the dark, and the sky was absolutely clear. The stars put on a brilliant winter show.

The day would have been without further incident except that while trying to get the snowmobile over a small but rather steep incline, it kept going and I stayed behind. Lying on my back, molded rather comfortably in a drift, I felt relatively peaceful.

“So that happened,” I thought. I looked up at the stars. Kim ran toward me, fearing the worst, so I got up, tried again, and was on my way before the men even knew what happened.

By the end of the day we had driven 111 miles.

We went back to the inn, changed, and ate Italian food at the fanciest restaurant in town, where the dress code remained snow bibs and boots. I slept hard, excited to hit the trails the next day.

And then I woke up, and I ached in areas I did not know could ache. My head ached, my shoulders ached, my back ached, but the worst was my hands. My hands had tightly gripped the handles of that snowmobile for 111 miles, and my joints had swelled up.  My thumb ached from holding down the throttle. 
We spent Sunday morning at the Old Forge hardware store after eating pancakes.  It has taken three days for the swelling in my hands to go down, though the wedding ring doesn’t quite fit yet.  That being said,

I’d totally do it again.

John on a sled.

Scenic vista

Miles to go before we sleep...

Stillwater Reservoir

Hamlet of Beaver River


Monday, February 14, 2011

A Notorious Kiss

Today, Holly Goes Lightly wishes it was a classic film blog. Bear with it, and watch the uber-romantical clip that features the ever-so-kissable Cary Grant.

There's a show called Notorious on television, and everytime I see it on the tv guide, I get so excited because I think it's Alfred Hitchcock's classic film noir of the same title.  I have been disappointed on numerous occasions. You'd think I'd learn.

Hitchcock, of course, is the director famous for his innovative directorial techniques, his groundbreaking camera shots, for being THE master of suspense, and for his obsession with beautiful, blond actresses like Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, and Tippi Hedren. 

My favorite Hitchcock leading lady, however, is the stunning brunette Ingrid Bergman, most famous for her role in Casablanca.  Bergman starred in three Hitchcock films:  Spellbound, Under Capricorn, and the post-World War II classic Notorious, the movie that solidified her reputation as a versatile and excessively talented leading actress.

Bergman plays Alicia, a notorious party girl plagued with anger and guilt after her father is tried and convicted for being a Nazi spy.  Cary Grant plays a federal agent T.R. Devlin, who has been employed to recruit Alicia so that the U.S. government can use her ties to the Nazi party to infiltrate a group of Nazi expatriates who reside in Brazil.  Despite being critical of Alicia's heavy drinking, Devlin falls in love with his complicated recruit.  She, of course, returns his affections, and they begin a brief but passionate affair in picturescue Rio de Janeiro... 

Which brings us to the most romantic and notorious kiss in the history of Hollywood, the scene where Hitchcock ingeniously gets around strict production codes that forbade a kiss longer than three seconds long.  Hitchcock breaks what might have been a sloppy three-minute smooch into a series of sexy, shorter kisses.  Lauded at the time as "the longest kiss in movie history," here is the famous love scene between a dashing, stoic Cary Grant and the passionate, reckless Ingrid Bergman:

This is my favorite Hitchcock film. Moments after this interlude, Devlin is called in by his superiors to discuss Alicia's next move.  He is crushed to find out that she is to woo and get "cozy" with Nazi spy Alex Sebastian, played by her Casablanca co-star, Claude Raines.  Devlin has too much pride to admit his feelings for Alicia, and when she asks him if she should proceed, he tells her she should, leading to an abrupt ending to their affair.  Of course, in true Hitchcock fashion, intrigue and suspense commence leading to a climactic scene that left movie-goers breathless.

A brilliant film, a beautiful love story... perfect Valentine's Day film fare!


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Post where Holly Treats Inanimate Objects as Babies

Two summers ago, on a balmy evening, I went grocery shopping alone. When I returned home, I opened the door to retrieve the groceries and found I had buckled my watermelon into Daniel’s car seat. It sat there, snug and comfy and completely strapped in. If I had gotten into an accident, it’s safe to bet the watermelon would not have been harmed. I wasn’t used to going shopping without the twins, so I suppose when I pulled the watermelon out of the cart, it being the same size and having the same general proportions as Daniel at that time, I subconsciously treated it like one of my babies.

I only just remembered that occurrence this past Wednesday evening, when I went grocery shopping alone and found myself starting to buckle a large bag of Puppy Chow into Ella’s car seat.

I think I need to get out more. Alone.

Grocery shopping by myself is a wonderful treat. I can stop and examine prices and nutrition labels without the twins planning a mutiny within that car affixed to the front of the shopping cart. And I can drink a soda without having to share and therefore be subjected to three-year old backwash.

On Wednesday, I bought the kids’ Valentine’s Day treats and decided to go ahead and get the husband a Valentine’s Day card. Of course, choosing the right card takes time. One wants to get just the right sentiment without it seeming trite or cliché. I passed over the “Love is a Journey. I’m so glad I get to take every step with you,” card, which was tame as cheesy cards go, and only made me vomit in my mouth a little. There was one that went something like, “Every time I think of the day we met, I smile. When I think of our first kiss, I smile. In fact, every time I think of you, I smile. (Open card.) You make me smile. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Did someone get paid to write this?

I picked up one with two kids, a boy and a girl, glaring at each other. The front read “If we knew each other in kindergarten…” The inside read, “I love you.”

I didn’t get it. You probably got it right away. My head tends to get fuzzy after 7:00 in the evening. And I had just seen a 5 lb Hershey’s Chocolate bar in the bulk candy section of Wegmans. I mean, I'd heard such things existed, but I’d never actually seen one in person. Coming to terms with its existence was definitely messing with my smallish brain.

I stood there, stupidly, thinking that the sentence “If we knew each other in kindergarten… I love you,” just didn’t hold together very well as a coherent statement. I stared around, the bafflement surely showing upon my face, my frozen items melting in my cart. Perhaps someone would come along and explain the card to me. Surely, someone would notice my confusion. No one did. One mother and her teenage daughter ambled by and I overheard the following:

“You’ve only been dating a week. I don’t see that a card is necessary.”

It was the daughter speaking.

I got the joke as I realized I was attempting to buckle in puppy chow. And I thought it was stupid. “Hey- if we had known each other in kindergarten, we would’ve hated one another! Ha ha ha ha! I love you!”

I could totally create Valentine’s Day cards. I can do cheesy. Like the following:

There's even a baby drip. 

Someone out there would buy this. 

I've gotta go now.  Gotta finally get the puppy chow out of the van.  It's in Ella's car seat, still, albeit not buckled in. 

I'm such a drip.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Expectations

Sometimes I like to say things just to get a reaction out of the husband; this is a time-honored game played by all wives. For instance, I might say:

“If our next child is a girl, I want to name her Dakota.” And he’ll snort up the Dr. Pepper he was drinking and cough and carry on, and I will sit there, greatly amused. Who knows if he’s more surprised by the prospect of bringing another child into this recession-ridden world or by the idea of naming her after South Dakota (NOT North Dakota- are you kidding me?); it doesn’t really matter. It’s better entertainment than even Justified- season 2 of which premieres this week for your information.

So today, while we were talking on the phone, I caught him off guard with the following,

“I’ve already saved up $450.00 toward the new furniture.” There was an immediate chortle.

“Ha ha. That’s interesting.”

This comes with a sad background story. The couch we have in our playroom/ sun room/ the room that Kiah the Wonder Dog has ruined… is ruined. Once a cream colored couch, it is stained and sagging. The coils are broken and the cushions are ripped. If one actually dared to sit upon it, they might wonder if they were being sucked into quicksand or perhaps falling down into Alice’s Wonderland. Now, no one will ever sit on it again because the day before yesterday, Kiah peed on it, and I gave up. We agreed to throw the couch out.

I have had my eye on a new set of furniture for a while, and have been socking away money on the sly. The room it will go in is a big, beautiful room with skylights and walls of windows, and it is under-utilized. This is the very speech I gave to John after he said “that’s interesting.” He said “that’s interesting” like we weren’t going to spend my $450+ dollars on furniture- like we might spend it on something else. He is gravely mistaken. Plus, my $450 is hidden in a surreptitious location and he’ll never find it.

After my “sunbeams through the skylights warming our new furniture” speech, the conversation took a surprising turn, and John said something that caught me off guard.

“I’m going to burn our old couch.”

“Um- I think that would be frowned upon.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, by our neighbors. I think it would be frowned upon by our neighbors. And possibly the fire department. And maybe the town zoning board. And our insurance company.”

“I could take it somewhere else and burn it. Maybe I’ll take it to Billy’s yard. We were just talking about burning couches the other day!”

They were just talking about burning couches the other day. How fortuitous that a couch in need of burning should turn up.

They can burn it up and smoke it if they want, I don’t care, so long as I get my furniture. (My apologies to Billy’s wife.) I’m almost 1/3 of the way to the point-of-sale. I have great expectations for this set of furniture: lounging in the sun reading Great Expectations, drinking Dr. Pepper and snacking on chips while surfing the internet, taking a long snooze with my beautiful daughter, Dakota…

Great expectations.

2-year old Ben on the couch that may very well be torched. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Today is my actual shopping day

Yesterday, Ben woke up all shivery and Daniel was warm, so I did what any mom desperate to go to Wegmans would do. I gave them each a dose of Ibprofen, sent Ben off to school, and bundled up Daniel so we could venture to the land of donuts and bulk candy.

The place was mobbed with people stocking up on beer and bread (that was exactly what the guy in line in front of me was purchasing- copious amounts of beer and bread) so they could load up on carbohydrates for the storm. Every elderly woman I passed cooed over Daniel, who was looking especially cute with his Elmer Fudd hat and feverish pink cheeks, and Ella, newly revived from her bout of cold/ hand, foot, and mouth disease/ impetigo/ sinus infection. The elderly women then made mention of the impending snow apocalypse, and I retorted with,

“This is my regular shopping day.” Which wasn’t exactly true. But I felt compelled, probably because I was irritated with the crowd, to insist that was the case. My normal shopping day is Wednesday, but I went yesterday because of, well, you know why.

I don’t know why I am the way I am.

John called me as I was about to check out. The school nurse wanted one of us to get Ben. She was kind of wondering why I sent him to school with a 102 degree fever. To which I retorted,

“Well, today’s my regular shopping day. And we were all out of beer and bread.”

By the end of last night, all three boys were shivering on the couch watching episodes of “Little Bear.” John is insisting they all watch “Little Bear” more often because Little Bear is so well-mannered and Father Bear is “kind of a bad-ass.” I love “Little Bear.” He’s so much better than that whiner, Caillou.

Daniel was by far the most pathetic, and John, who of course feared he was on the brink of death, forced him to drink ¾ of a bottle of Pedialyte. Daniel got up, stumbled around, crying, four times last night. In his state of sleepy, sick delirium, he knew something was very, very wrong, but wasn’t quite sure what.

I’ve never seen a kid pee so much in my life.

Today is a snow day, though the boys wouldn’t have gone to school anyway. Caleb, who has a headache and fever, remains stoic, determined to make the most of the snow day. He is stubbornly willing himself to wellness. Ben, on the other hand, is content to languish on the couch and treat me like his slave.

We’ve never had a winter like this- with so much sickness. And I fear, this morning, that my throat is a little sore, my head a little achy, and my hair is a bit heavy on my head. That’s how I know I’ve got something- my hair begins to hurt my head. Suddenly, instead of regular old dead cells clinging to my scalp, it feels like I’m being jabbed with thousands of tiny needles.

I could either be stoic, like Caleb, or languish on the couch and demand that John bring me popsicles and toast with jam- all of which I have- because yesterday was my regular shopping day.