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Monthly Archives: December 2007
Christmastime with my in-laws is nonstop parties. The day after we arrived, we went to Aunt Margie’s party. A huge crowd, and by huge I mean really, really a lot of people. A sea of distinguished noses, black black hair and olive skin. And oh, the food! Tables a-spread with every Middle Eastern treat you could want, plus such lovely goodies as sausage-stuffed mushrooms and chicken poppers with ranch dressing . . . mmm! Yes, I know – you can call me a “meat eating vegetarian”, like Rukan does.
Christmas Eve, tonight, another party, at Cousin Jerry and Alyson’s. Same sea of familiar people, the names of whom, after nine years, I still can not recall. Same gorgeous food, plus portabella pate and traditional kubie, a spiced raw meat dish which is hardly ever served at parties any more, at least not the parties I’m at. It’s a rare treat which the other Ammikans apparently avoid; I’m sort of proud of myself for that. Proud, and guilty, considering that I’m a vegetarian. What kind of a vegetarian eats raw meat? I’m just full of cute little contradictions.
Tomorrow, Christmas. The Big Whopper of Parties. It’s here at Ettie and Rakin’s, my parents-in-law, or out-law, whatever. Ettie’s expecting 67 people, at last count, for a sit-down dinner. All family, of course – just a fraction of the vast empire that is Rukan’s relations. Oh, and Ettie expects a few more to show up for appetizers – so, by the end of the day she will have entertained a hundred people, give or take a couple dozen. You might be thinking, those people are freaking rich! You imagine a spacious mansion with vaulted ceilings and four floors, at least, a hot tub and game room, clear crystal cases filled with precious artifacts from their many excursions back to the homeland and far beyond. Rakin is an insurance salesman. Ettie is a clerk at a car wash. The home in which a hundred people will tomorrow trod is a modest two-story brick box with a basement. So where will the legions all fit? This is the question on my mind every year, and all I can tell you is, somehow, they just do.
Today, in preparation for the Christmas Party, I picked parsley for tabouli. She’s making so much tabouli, it took me two back-to-back viewings of “The Polar Express” to de-stem all that parsley. At least it wasn’t “Strawberry Shortcake: Get Well Adventure” again.
Rukan is at this moment upstairs trying to coax a wildly excited Rocky into sleepiness. Driving didn’t work. Nursing didn’t work. A huge mug of warm milk didn’t work. Soft singing didn’t work. Telling her “you have to go to sleep or Santa won’t come” didn’t work. Now we’re on to her tape, Wee Sing, which is really my last hope. Doesn’t sound like that’s working, either. I hear crying and cajoling. Oh, there’s Rukan’s stern, frustrated voice. Rocky, LIE DOWN. And now, quiet. I wonder what trick Rukan’s using now . . . sleeping pills?
There’s a guy in every big family, the guy who all the kids adore, who can think like a kid and delights in delighting them. In Rukan’s family, his name is Cousin Jerry. He and his wonderful wife have raised three gorgeous kids to college age. Talking with grown-up kids, you can often see what kind of parents they had. You can tell these three had Jimmy and Alice.
At Aunt Margie’s party, Cousin Jerry suddenly burst in from outside, yelling “Kids! Kids! Come quick! Santa’s flying over!” Little eyes all got big and mouths gaped open – then there was a stampede out the door. Rukan scooped up Rocky and ran out through the carport; I hobbled along behind, and when I emerged I saw a gaggle of little faces staring up at the sky in wonder and awe. Excited myself, I looked up too. There was the big full moon, sailing up from the fast-moving clouds on the horizon, and just under it, a small red light, chasing the moon through the night sky. “Look at that!” boomed Jerry. “That, my friends, is the light from Rudolph’s nose! Santa’s doing a practice run!”
Rocky stared up at the sight a moment longer, then went into the house and hurtled into the living room, into the middle of the throng of relatives, and started yelling “Santa! Santa! Santa! We saw Rudolph’s nose in the sky, and Santa was doing a practice run with Rudolph, and I saw his nose, and he was chasing the moon in the sky, and Santa! Santa! Santa!” She was jumping up and down almost convulsively, her voice shrieking with joy and excitement! I had never before seen my daughter so excited.
It was one of Those Moments. I’ll have to remember to thank Cousin Jerry.
We let Rocky decide what to put out for Santa to eat. She chose mini carrots, ranch dressing, milk and a glass of water.
Have I mentioned how hard it is to be a highly sensitive-to-sugar sugar addict, at the in-laws’ for Christmas? I have eaten so many cheap fake-sugar vanilla creme cookies I feel them dancing the Hornpipe in my gullet. They feel terrible to eat, have an aftertaste and make me sick, but the alternative is to stuff my face with the chocolate truffles and homemade fudge and baklawa and little almondy-farina Middle Eastern delights that stare at me from every corner, and then I would turn into the Dragon Woman for the next week. Must . . . resist . . . almondy . . . goodness . . .
On the 26th, Mom and Jeff will be arriving. That will be a first, and I’m very excited about the meeting of the families. Several members of this clan have met those from the other side, at our wedding and at the hospital during Rocky’s surgery, but this will be the first time “my” family comes to Louisville to experience the . . . experience . . . of Rukan’s family of origin. Then on the 27th we’ll add Rukan’s son Aza and his other mom Jill to the mix, and there’ll be another party, to welcome, for the second time, the long lost grandson back into the fold. [click for back story on Rukan and Aza]
Rocky’s in a horse phase. Rukan came home the other day with a giant pink unicorn they were selling at the grocery store. Rocky dressed her in a pink Razorbacks tee and a pink tutu, and named her Lemon Juice. Lemon Juice goes everywhere Rocky goes. Lemon Juice is big enough for her own car seat. She’s getting a handful of other horse toys on the Big Day; I can’t wait to hear what she names them. She’ll also find myriad books under the tree, the dreaded First Barbie from and Uncle, a plethora of outfits and sundry toys, and a book called “Rocky Gets the Hiccups”, written by my mother and illustrated by me.
Sunny’s getting a rawhide candy cane.
I suppose I’m getting coal.
Holy. F@!$&ing. MOTHER. Of all RATS.
To read more about this l’il feller, a “newly discovered” species found in the wilds of Indonesia, follow this link: GIANT RATS WILL SOON RULE THE WORLD . Or, don’t.
Thanks, Body Mascot, for the lead!
Read on – I’ve written two today.
Whiskers and Tails,
For the life of me, I can’t find any conclusive Google evidence to prove to you the size of the rat that sprung out at me off a toilet today.
I thought Texas rats were small. Four years ago, when I found a rat in my underwear drawer, chewing on a sex toy (there have been little tooth marks in Pinky ever since), I thought, sheesh, this things’ not so scary. I mean, up NORTH, in Long Island from whence I sprouted forth, now THOSE are rats. This cute l’il bugger couldn’t possibly be responsible for spreading bubonic plague. We had been trying to live-trap “mice” (Osama and George, respectively) for a month by that point, until that morning I opened my sundries drawer, shut it with a muffled yelp and leapt back. I stopped myself, because Rukan was staring at me with that look on her face. The look of dread and horror and hope, hope, hope that it was just a mouse and knowledge that I don’t yelp and leap back if it’s just a mouse. I am not afraid of rats (I’m really only afraid of large animals that can tear off my leg), but you know, I’d been expecting a little furry Osama or George. I managed a smile at my paling wife. “Well, Honey, it’s Osama Bin George.” I wrapped the entire dresser in a sheet and about a mile of duct tape, and Harry the Landlord and I carried the entire thing down the stairs and propped it in the back of the truck. Ru wouldn’t come near it with full body armor and a flame thrower. I unloaded and unwrapped the dresser down by a nearby creek, and took the drawers out one by one, top to bottom. As I slid each one out, the rat would jump down the back one level, until it was trapped on the bottom floor of its 5-story condo. There it huddled, tiny and bedraggled, its sad little nose quivering, sizing up the hairless monster that would surely soon make it a meal. Having already decided not to eat the rat, I released it to the wilds of the Austin greenbelt, telling it firmly to not return to my house. It eschewed the creek and ran straight for the neighbor’s.
A few months later, in my house, I suddenly heard Rukan SCREEEEEEAAAAAM from the doorway. “What the -” “There was a f@!*ing rat WALKING UP THE STEPS!!”
We were fairly sure that it was our rat, come home to finish its latex phallus-sculpture. If I were a rat, I think Rukan’s shriek would have sent me packing. (heh heh.)
So. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a wild rat. I kissed a pet one once, just to freak out Rukan. But the wild ones stayed away after the butch-scream. Today, we went into the downstairs efficiency to clean it out. The little apartment is rented by a woman who lives in San Fransisco, who comes into town one or two times a year. Her friends are coming in this weekend. It had been mostly vacant since we stayed down there during the upstairs construction early in the year. There was rat poo everywhere. On the floor, on the bed, on the kitchen counters, in the silverware drawer. “Huh,” I said. “Looks like rat shit.” I said this quietly, carefully, knowing full well that Rukan would be in denial. “I think it’s already moved on,” she said. “Rukan, why would the rat have ‘moved on’? Seriously? Honey, we have got to take care of this.” Well, we quickly dropped the “we” right out of that. There would be no “we”, in dealing with rats. It took everything in Ru just to stay in the house and clean it, much less consider a rat-trapping project.
I was cleaning the stove when I saw it. I was noticing that the eau de rat piss seemed to emanate from just under the range hood, and yes, there inside were tiny rat-poo loaves marinating in noxious little puddles of rodent urine.Rukan was reaching her hand over to help finish cleaning up that delightful little mess when the little fucker popped its whiskered head right up from the back. “OHMYGODDON’T” I said with a start and she jumped away, holding her hand as if burned. I said “Okaaaay, the rat is, indeed, living in the oven.” “[Various choice curse words], I am NOT going near there.” And so she didn’t.
While Rukan busied herself vacuuming as far from the kitchen as you can get in a 10 foot square apartment, I set to upon the bath. We had both remarked on how disgusting the toilet seemed, considering that nobody had been down there. There was something unrecognizable all over the seat and inside the bowl. I sat down on the edge of the tub and leaned down to inspect the toilet seat. Oh! Well! Little tiny footprints! And oh my, what’s that? “This gray stuff, Rukan?” I yelled to her. “Rat hair. It’s been drinking toilet water.” Then I lowered the lid.
And there, sitting right there just behind the bowl, previously concealed by the upright lid, was another one, an enormous, plushy ball of brown fur, hunkered down and staring at me in terror with its shiny black eyes.
“FUCK!” I yelled and it leapt from its hiding place and hurtled through the air and I yelled “RAT RAT RAT!” trying to warn Rukan because it raced right toward her like Rat-Cujo and they seemed to almost collide like in the cartoons, and she SCREAMED OH MY GOD OH MY GOD and bolted out the door so fast she was just a blur of motion, and I heard the clink of things in the kitchen as the rat buried itself in a cupboard.
I told Harry. I’m sorry rats, but I have no dresser this time. I advise you to squeeze back out through whatever tiny hole you came in through, because tonight, Harry’s putting out traps. And they’re not happy traps. Though to catch that big one, he might need a bear trap.
Remember what I said about only being afraid of animals big enough to tear off a leg? I’m revising. I admit that Cujo down there in the efficiency makes me nervous. Very nervous.
Rocky and I have a new game. She calls it Color Me Jesus.
She has this little Jesus Action Figure one of the church priests gave her, because the little Jesus appeared to have no owner, and she begged mightily for it. The Jesus Action Figure has bendable shoulders AND elbows, and he’s on wheels, so he can glide.
So Rocky gets out her pad of paper and some very cool twistable crayon-pen-things (new from Crayola tm!), and she draws suns (her current favorite thing to draw), and then I make the Jesus Action Figure draw his suns next to her suns. Then there’s this little blue plastic pony with its tiny legs all broken off, and I have to pretend it’s Jesus’ pony. Jesus is very worried about his pony. Then Rocky is the rising moon, the Great Mother Moon in fact, and Action Figure Jesus flies up into the sky to ask the Great Mother Moon to help him heal his pony. Great Mother Moon, eyelids half closed, face fixed in serenity and ancient wisdom, and bearing regal, reaches down slowly toward the stricken plastic pony. “Here’s a bandaid,” she says. Then she floats away. And the pony is healed, and Jesus rides her. Then we draw more suns.
There’s a song that goes with Color Me Jesus. It goes, “Jesus looooves meeee . . . Jesus loooooves meeee . . . agaaaainst the rules”.
I just saw The Golden Compass, and I know now what I want to be when I grow up.
A FLYING FUCKING WITCH.