Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Danny's Doppelganger

Danny, Champion of the World looks like

Daniel Robert Jennings...

A Little Shakespeare Humor

Tonight, my dad and I sat watching a King Lear Shakespeare in the Park video starring James Earl Jones. Caleb sat on a chair beside us, drawing on a magnadoodle while paying minimal attention to the drama unfolding on the screen. Then came the last scene in Act 1, which contains witty banter between Lear and his fool. Actually, Lear was being his usual curmudgeounly self; the Fool, however, was witty. 

Backstory- thought it’s not terribly important for the context of this post- King Lear banishes youngest daughter Cordelia because she refuses to suck up to him. His two older daughters, who are adept at sucking up, are revealed as selfish you-know-what’s after receiving their inheritances, and coldly turn their backs on their aging father.

King Lear’s fool, aka “Fool,” tells the king “I told ya so” by lauding the wisdom of slimy creatures like oysters and snails:

Fool: Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?


Fool: Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.


Fool: Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case.

KING LEAR: I will forget my nature. So kind a father! Be my horses ready?

Fool: Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.

KING LEAR: Because they are not eight?

Fool: Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.

KING LEAR: To take 't again perforce!

CALEB JENNINGS: (Without looking up.) The fooorce…

(ACT I Ends shortly thereafter.)

HOLLY: If you can’t trust your daughters, who can you trust?

DAD: Your fool.

HOLLY: I should get me a fool. Oh wait… (Certain individuals can fill in the blank there.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Neti Pot: Friend or Foe?

Neti pot-using looney bird. 

There is a self-torture device sold in drugstores made popular by masochists and people who support masochism- namely Oprah- called the “neti pot.” The neti pot looks charming, like a tiny tea kettle, but don’t let its unassuming appearance fool you. The neti pot is actually a very convenient and socially-accepted way to waterboard a person. Unlike traditional waterboarding methods, however, the victim will come out of the experience with remarkably clear sinuses.

I have a sinus infection that seems determined to linger on until the end of time. A friend recommended relief through the neti pot. She offered to let me borrow hers, and although her nose is lovely, and I’m sure her pot is clean and sanitized, I felt fiscally confident enough to run off to Rite Aid and buy their plastic version. It was on sale for 8.99 and came with 50 saline packets.

The kids were immediately taken with it. Ella wanted to use it to serve tea to her dolls. I told them it was actually the lamp of a “less fortunate” genie. I went on to explain that while 1% of genies get to live in gorgeous, golden lamps, the rest live in plastic lamps mortgaged out the ying-yang, or government-subsidized ones that get stuck up people’s noses. I then explained the positive and negative aspects of capitalism. It was a “teachable” moment.

But I digress.

Using the neti pot is akin to giving your nasal passages an enema, and is probably an equally enjoyable process. To administer: first, fill the pot to the brim with lukewarm water. The instructions emphasize the importance of lukewarm. Too hot, and you’ll lose all sense of smell forever; too cold, and you will experience immeasurable amounts of pain. After you’ve filled the pot, you dissolve the saline solution into the water. Then, you stick the nozzle into one side of your nose, lean your head over the sink, turn it slowly so that gravity pulls the water into your nose, and wait.

The water is supposed to flush out mucus and then drain out of the other nostril into the sink. However, everything in that region of the head is interconnected: the throat, the nose, the ears, etc. The instructions say to “continue breathing through your mouth as you administer the solution.” It is hard to breathe when you are drowning.

I experimented by tilting my head in various ways and finally succeeded in flushing out the right side of my nose. Encouraged, I repeated on the left.

Though the left side of my nose looks exactly the same as my right side, apparently it’s a whole different ballgame inside. Within five seconds of administering the procedure, my nose started burning, water spilled into my throat and out my mouth, my eye started watering, and I swear I heard dolphins singing. There was a lot of choking and sputtering. I ceased and desisted immediately, regrouped, and tried again. I forced the remainder of the solution through my nasal passageways, bravely enduring the burning sensation. Masochist.

Afterwards, you’re supposed to gently blow your nose. Gently is stressed. I ignored that completely, and as I blew my nose, my ears basically imploded into my brain. This morning, I am fairly certain I am developing a double ear infection. Also, there is a chirping sound- like a little parakeet- when I breathe through my nose. I do not think this is normal. The instructions say some people’s ear passageways are wider than others, and if discomfort persists, to discontinue use of the neti pot. Now, of course, I am concerned about the ramifications of having shockingly wide ear passageways that invite the sloshing of random fluids and provide a spot for hamsters to do agility training.

The good news: I slept through the night for the first time in over a month, though I can’t be sure whether that was the work of the neti pot or the hydrocordone I’ve been saving for a rainy day. And yesterday, it rained salt water in my nose. So there you go.

In conclusion, here is what I’ve decided about the neti pot: While the instructions insist you should continue breathing through your mouth during the process, I submit this is horse crap. Hold your breath and block the passageway to your throat. This could save your life. Second, unless you enjoy the sensation of breathing in water taken straight from the Dead Sea, use half a saline packet at first. Your nose will thank you. Third, blow your nose gently afterward unless you want to block off ambient sound. (I suppose this could be a benefit for some.) Finally, for getting a good night sleep while suffering from a sinus infection, narcotics always trump homeopathic remedies. Always.

The jury’s still out on whether to continue use of the neti pot, donate it to Ella’s tea party play, or ship it off to Guantanamo Bay. We’ll see if my hearing returns before I make any final decisions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It’s been, for the most part, a good week.

For the past three nights, I’ve dreamed that I am either starring in or auditioning for The Sound of Music. I’m not actually having the same dream over and over- there are different “plots” with different people and different settings each night. However, in every dream, I burst out of somewhere singing “Climb Every Mountain,” which is not even a Maria song, but is still pretty great. As you can imagine, it’s been difficult to get out of bed each morning, especially since the kids generally discourage me from singing to them as they’re getting ready for school. To quote Ella, “TOO LOUD.” Holly’s response: “Ella is four years, going on five years- she can be really mean…” Seriously. The other day, she sang the theme to the Smurfs 16 times in a row, and I didn’t say a word.

On September 29th, my baby brother had a little boy. Or rather, his wife did, but he was there. Then, this past Sunday, another nephew was born to John’s brother and his lovely wife. If baby Zavier was born to my brother Joshua, and baby Joshua was born to John’s brother Richie, then according to the laws of syllogism, Zavier was born to Richie. And this is why math is stupid.

When Zavier was born, I asked myself this hard question:  Do I love my baby nephew enough to spend $300 on a plane ticket to Norfolk?  The answer:  Yes.  Yes I do.  But I have stuff to give him, so I think I'll drive instead.

Now that I've pretty much raised my own children, I can devote myself to being a doting aunt, which is why I’ve gone and purchased myself the following t-shirt:

Zavier Paul (Picture brazenly stolen from his maternal grandmother's Facebook page.)

Joshua Thomas happily sleeping in his aunt Holly's arms.
Some sad news too.  My sister and her family said goodbye to their dog, Jefferson, adopted a year ago.  A tumor in his throat was restricting his breathing and he was slowly suffocating to death, so they made the difficult decision to let him go. 

I will miss Jefferson stories.  Jeff was part pointer, and would stand and, well, point when he spotted a squirrel or some other creature while walking.  Then, he would refuse to budge, making walks difficult.

Jefferson had a tough beginning and initially hated other dogs.  To this day, John holds a grudge against Jeff for trying to eat Kiah.  My husband is the kind of person who holds a grudge even in death.  (He has many other good qualities.)

Personally, I don't blame Jeff.  There are days when I want to not eat Kiah, but send her to darkest Peru or Siberia or somewhere.  However, Jeff excelled in his anger management classes, changed his ways, and ended up getting along nicely with his beagle housemate, Maizie. 

And, of course, my nephew and niece adored him.  And he adored them. 

Nate wrote this lovely poem commemorating the life of Jefferson the dog:

We loved you so much, we adopted you twice.

You hated other dogs, but to us you were nice.

At your anger management classes, you introduced us to Maizie;

Sometimes you managed to drive us all crazy.

Your boisterous, unconditional love we'll remember the most.

... And all the other things we'll miss can't fit in this post.

You were alone when you were born, but not when you died.

I hope we gave you the best year of your life.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

Jefferson the Dog: c. 2007 - 10/5/11

I never said he was Keats.  Still, it teared me up. 

Jeff is in a better place now- a place where the hills are alive with the sound of music, where silver white winters melt into springs, where he can follow every rainbow until he finds his dream. 

(Fact: you can always write a compelling eulogy based solely on songs from musicals.  Tomorrow, I will commemorate the life of Steve Jobs by using song lyrics from "Showboat.")

At this moment, my own 45 lb Aussie is curled up at my feet beneath my desk.  She makes my life so hard, but I think maybe I love her, because it's hard not to love someone who truly adores you. 

And how blessed my new nephews are, because they are already so very loved by so many people. 

A good week.

(This is my 301st post.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Married Female Seeks Male Friend for Regular Lunch Dates

This cartoon is in no way relevant to this post.  I just thought it was funny.

“Holly, why aren’t you blogging much lately? I really miss it.”

Not one of you has said the above, so here I sit, in a pool of narcissistic self-pity.

Okay, I’m over it and am ready to move on.

So, the husband is a social butterfly, and any given day of the week, he’s bopping off to some fancy restaurant to have lunch with a client or friend while I sit at home and eat the twins leftover PB &Js. (Now might also be a good time to mention that he drives a luxury vehicle and I drive a rusty Grand Caravan that leaks.)

So, yesterday evening, John’s cell phone rang. He answered it and said, “Veronica! Hello.” And then he walked out of the front door and into the driveway to speak to her. Alone. In private. Away from me.

Naturally, I went and opened the front window to eavesdrop. I couldn’t hear anything because Caleb kept asking me what I was doing, and when I shushed him he asked, “Are you trying to spy on dad?” When I said yes, he wanted to know why and, quite frankly, I was at a loss for words. Then I bumped my head and the whole thing was completely foiled. So I went outside and stood next to John and glared at his phone until he got off.

“You have too many female friends,” I announced.

He protested. Veronica, of course, was not calling to be social; it was work related.

“You’re always going out to lunch with other women.”

“I never go out with another woman. Sometimes in a group, but not one on one.”

I listed at least four women I knew he’d gone to lunch with. Alone. And the jerk just stood there with this dopey grin on his face.

“Are you jealous?”

For the record, no. I am obviously a catch. Veronica is probably ugly and stupid.

Still, it isn’t fair. Which is why I decided to launch my own personal search for a male friend. I thought up the following advertisement:

Greetings men! Do you like friendship? Do you like lunch? Me too! Let’s get together and have interesting conversation, snack on appetizers, and maybe play some raquetball afterwards. My 4-year old twins will accompany us on most occasions. Try not to hit them with the racquetball. Or your racquet. Good news on that front- they generally don’t finish their PB&Js, so, free dessert! By the way, if you want to call to chat during dinner, please feel free to do so. That’s what friends of opposite genders do! Also- if you are friends with Veronica, please don’t bother responding to this advertisement.

I scratched the above in favor of a better idea, one that I felt was more beneficial to my marriage: I called the husband to plan a lunch date for tomorrow afternoon. But I couldn’t get through to him because I had forgotten to pay his AT&T bill, and they had cut off his service.

And I wonder why he sees other women…