Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reality Check

What?  What day is this?  What city am I in?  Where am I? 

Right, I have been a.w.o.l. for a while, but with really good cause!  I've been in Sacramento waiting to welcome a new grandson, and here he is! 

Delivered just days ago (but way better late than never!) here is little Sam, ready to go home from the hospital.  His big brother Zach is bursting with pride, and can't wait to have Sam and Mommy at home.

So as Grandma-in-residence (a temporary position), I'm in charge of groceries, cooking and cuddling!  Well, his mom and dad have cuddling priorities, I guess, but I'm claiming all the time I can before I have to head home to St. Louis.

It's really interesting to see the second-born come into a family.  With the first, you get the joy of the fresh, pure, innocent newborn combined with seeing your own child evolve into a parent.

With the second-born, you get all of the above plus the amazing pleasure of seeing the first-born becoming a big brother.  Watching the 3 1/2 year-old coo at his little brother, and pat his head and tell us how soft it is--well, it's a real thrill.

Thanks, kids, for another awesome experience on this journey.  Gulp.  And pass the Kleenex.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Me Boss, You Jane

My husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) has been blessed to work with some wonderful people over the course of his career.  This is a little story about a secretary who worked for him several years ago.  Her name was Jane.  No, more accurately, this is a story about CoTU, and, shall we say, his 'management style'.

CoTU was running international marketing at the company he worked for many years.  Jane moved to town when her husband's military career brought him and his family here.  Jane was a real find-- she was smart, had great job skills, was bilingual, and to top it all off, she was good looking, with a great sense of humor.

CoTU and Jane got along really well.  He wanted something done, Jane did it.  He bounced an idea off Jane, she batted it back, and they solved problems together.  He called her Jane, she called him by his first name, too.

Except.  When.  They disagreed. 

CoTU might say, "Let's get that memo out before the widget and the gizmo coincide at the 93d parallel."  (I have no clue what marketing people say.  Obviously.)

If Jane didn't think that was the way to go, she would suggest something else.  Like, "Maybe we should do it after the widget and before the gizmo, because of the offstand on the 42."

If CoTU didn't agree, they'd kick it around till they either came to a different decision, or till CoTU finally insisted that it was to be done his way. 

At this point, Jane would say, "Yes, sir.  If that's your decision, sir."

That's when CoTU would pause, processing her comment.  "Jane?  When you say 'sir', are you using that as a substitute for a**hole?"

"Yes, sir."

Ya gotta love that Jane!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Man, His God, and His Dog

Well, it's Father's Day, and I'm spending it with my daughter, grandson, and my son-in-law whose fatherhood will double any day now! Yes, another boy is due here, even as we speak, so we tried to give this particular Daddy the royal treatment.

As it happens, the stars aligned to make this Father's Day very special for Eric.

He had two wishes for the day. One, to make an early outing to the local Farmers' Market and adjacent park. Goal: to score a bounty of fresh, local fruit so we could create a massive fruit salad as part of dinner, and corn on the cob alongside. After the shopping, we'd play in the very creative and cool public park nearby.

Two, to have the ultimate Chicago hot dog dinner! Yeah, I know. We (my daughter and I) offered to make steak, sushi, stir-fry, barbecue, you name it! We thought we should do something special for him, and offered him carte blanche. We couldn't have been more surprised to find that he wanted the humble hot dog!

Well, it may have been humble in the past, but this dinner was anything but humble! I will show you how elaborate a hot dog dinner can be!

So, step one: go to the Farmers' Market. Yes! It's a great place and the array and assortment of fresh produce was fantastic. We bought tomatoes, corn, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and coffee. We saw lots of fresh fish, swimming in giant tubs, lots more displayed on beds of chopped ice, and so much foliage it made my head spin. But here's the best part: We walked straight into the path of the Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson.

Now this isn't just any ordinary mayor. For the very, very few of you who don't already know this, Kevin Johnson is a former NBA star, and a hero of the Phoenix Suns. Roughly translated, in Sacramento Kevin Johnson is the mayor. In Phoenix, Kevin Johnson is a god. My son-in-law grew up in Phoenix. You do the math.

As a trained journalist, Eric has interviewed all kinds of people, including very famous people. Not to namedrop, but Eric has interviewed former Vice President Al Gore, and the Governator himself: Ah-nold Schwartzenegger. He doesn't impress all that easy.

But Kevin Johnson? We still haven't wiped the smile off Eric's face. He was practically singing as we walked away! He can't wait to let all his old friends see this photo of him and his family with the One and Only Kevin Johnson.

Step two: Played in the park, climbed on the climbers, swung on the swings, slid down the slides! It's a paradise for the 3-year old, and for those who love to watch him have fun, too.

We came home and made lunch, took naps, and did some general baby-readying of the soon-to-be-resurrected baby toys and paraphernalia. Then I took my grandson on a little walk to the neighborhood park where we did more climbing, swinging, sliding and hide-and-seeking.

Eventually, it was dinner time. I made the fruit salad and the corn on the cob, the baked beans and the hot dogs. Eric took on the condiments -- when he had told me last night what he had in mind, I negotiated this division of labor with him. I don't mind work, but this seemed a touch excessive. Let me put it this way: I'd rather be on the floor playing Candyland with my grandson that mincing raw onions, banana peppers, tomatoes, and yes-- cucumbers! (what the WHAT?) to be served on the hot dogs! Oh let's face it, I'd rather get beaten up in the parking lot than do that, too.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, dinner made it to the table. Here's what Eric's plate looked like. And he'd like you to know that the celery salt is an integral part of the Chicago-style hot dog experience. That, and the iridescent, glow-in-the-dark relish! 

From humble wishes, great things may come!  Happy Father's Day to all those celebrating!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Can't Take It Any More

I’ve been undercover too long to keep up this ruse any longer. Today I come clean, out of the shadows, to expose my real identity.

And you thought I was Leah Rubin, mild-mannered blogger, wife, mother and grandmother, keeper of the family archives and some-time tap dancer. Harumph, I say. That is my cover, not unlike the Clark Kent persona employed by Superman.

My superpower is not one widely known. I am, after sweeping into a coat closet (go find a phone booth these days!) transformed into Battle-Scarred Grammatica!

So because I cannot see a misspelled or misused word without cringing, biting my lip, or bursting out with some manner of stringed-together expletives, I have saved a few from recent days to share with you. Perhaps by venting my spleen herein, I can avoid an aneurysm.

Now people misuse words all the time, and in everyday speech I probably do, too. I have no more desire to sound like a stilted, repressed philosophy professor than I do to mud wrestle a kangaroo. But that’s not important right now.

So I’m mostly inclined to point out these errors of syntax or grammar when used by a professional in a setting that afforded him or her the opportunity to get it right.

For example, on the PBS Newshour Tuesday evening, the financial correspondent, Paul Solman mentioned “loaning the money”. See the problem? Loan is a noun, not a verb. Sure, lots of people do this, but Paul should be better than that. Paul, next time say “lending the money.” I’m just saying.

Then there’s the sign in front of a local church here, pimping the U.S. census. (This photo was on the front page of our daily newspaper a few months ago. I saved it because it stuck in my craw. Of course if I saved all of the items that stuck in my craw, I’d need to build an addition to the house. And I’d probably have to have my craw looked at.) The sign reads, “US CENSUS 2010/IT’S IN OUR HAND’S”. Yikes! Okay, they correctly used an apostrophe in the word ‘it’s’, but why did that make them think there was one needed in ‘hands’??? Just shoot me. It’s really not that difficult, friends.

Just a week ago the same paper ran a headline over the story of Helen Thomas’ retirement. If you missed it, Thomas was a White House correspondent who (according to this New York Times copyrighted story) created an uproar with some harsh remarks about a sensitive subject.

The (big!) headline read, “One too many blunt remark”. Um, ‘remarks’, guys. Really.

And finally (at least for this edition of ‘You’re Killing Me With This Crap’) there’s the subheadline (yes, I made that word up just for this occasion) under the “DARE officer leaves a lasting impression” headline. (FYI, DARE is a program our local police department runs in the schools. It’s an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.) It reads, “For 17 years, students have clinged to the words of Tom Forgue.”

Clinged? Come on, even now my spell-check is fighting me tooth and nail over that one. You people at the newspaper don’t have spell-check? Or editors? What the what?

All I’m asking is for a little respect, as Aretha would say. And yes, it should be “All I’m asking for is a little respect,” but you have to give poetic license when it comes to music and the arts. But the rest of the time, I say we should keep the language alive and well. Sometimes I think it’s on life support, and I’m worried about some overzealous nutcase pulling the plug.

Are you with me on this, people? Let’s save the language AND the whales!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Names and Jobs, Part Two

Here’s a post script to the “Names You Just Can’t Make Up” offering of June 4th.

Because so many wonderful readers sent in their own suggestions that fit this category, I felt they deserved to be published. Here’s what we can add to our list:

An astute reader who goes by ‘Anonymous’ mentioned that she knew a family named Doctor, and that there was a Dr. Doctor and a nurse Doctor in that family. This reminded me that I knew a Ronald Docter (sic)* who became an optometrist, so he was Dr. Docter, too.

A reader named Rachel shared that she works for a Dr. Wisdom, and noted that he should have been an oral surgeon!

Bonnie wrote in to say that her physician is Dr. L’Ecuyer, which is pronounced “Le Cure”! You gotta love that!

Straight Guy commented that one of his past physicians was named Dr. Healed. Even better, he went to school with two girls with the last name Crotchfelt. I still can’t read that and not cringe on their behalf.

Lizzie Borden (I swear I am not making this up) wrote in just to express her solidarity with the whole project. I’m grateful! Can’t imagine what HER parents were thinking…

Another ‘Anonymous’ shared that she knew a podiatrist named Dr. Payne, and that there was an alarm company in her town called “Falls Security”. Yeah, but say it out loud. See?

Let’s just wrap this up with a note about a dentist’s office we saw on our last road trip. The guy’s name is Spatz. If your dentist still uses a spit sink, you can twist this one into the pluperfect subjunctive, and apply as needed.

So keep those cards and letters coming in, friends! We can always do a phase three if we get enough material. (Uh-oh—that reminds me of the old joke about the graffiti on the bathroom wall in the bus station. It read, “My mother made me a homosexual.” Beneath it, in another hand was written, “If I buy her the yarn, will she make me one, too?” So now the voice of Groucho is in my head saying, “I’ve got enough material to make a three-piece suit.” Say ‘goodnight’, Groucho…”

*Sure, I see the irony here, but thanks for playing.

And P.S. --it's my birthday, and I'm officially older than dirt.  Old dirt.  Ancient, even.  Have a piece of cake!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Golly, I Miss Molly (Ivins)

File this under “Superficial”.

Now don’t forget, I’m a huge nerd, and I watch the news a lot. No—more than that. I’m a news junkie. So anyhoo…

Here’s my observation for the day. If I were Meg Whitman—no, if I were ANYONE who had SO much $$$$$$ that I could spend $70 million OUT OF MY OWN POCKET for a political campaign, I’d damn well find somebody to fix my hair.

I mean, clearly, money is no object, so what’s up with that look? Doesn’t she have a mirror? Then Carly Fiorina goes on tv and mocks Barbara Boxer’s hair. She says it’s dated. What the what???? Like Carly has room to talk. She’s not exactly setting any trends with that do.

                                                             (Carly)                 (Barbara)
I’m just saying Meg Whitman has a forehead the size of Australia, and a different hairstyle might flatter her more. Or might flatter her. At all.

Now my hair’s not anything to brag about, but I’m not running for office, either. And I’m not on tv. And you may feel free to mock my hair all you want. I’m okay with that. I complain about it all the time, so don’t hesitate to join me. We can start a Facebook page of “People Who Hate Leah’s Hair.” Well, maybe not. I could turn out to be sensitive about it.

This reminds me, though, of someone who has good hair. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, used to be called “Rick ‘Good Hair’ Perry” by the late columnist Molly Ivins. I miss Molly. She was a shrewd observer of the political scene. And an excellent judge of hair.

(Rick)                       (Molly)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Disabled with Ailing Puppy

Time out from our regularly-scheduled hilarity to tell you what I saw this morning. Not that this isn’t hilarious in its own right…

I was driving east on Clayton Road, heading to an appointment. It was drizzling. Well, it was actually more of a light rain. Okay, who am I kidding, it was coming down in sheets.

There are sidewalks on this part of the road, as it’s primarily a residential area.

An old man in one of those mobility power chairs, or “Scooters” was rolling along the sidewalk. He had a little white dog on a leash trotting alongside. The dog, and I swear I am not making this up, was wearing one of those lampshade affairs that vets dole out to keep the dog from interfering with stitches, licking off the needed medicine, or just simply to tamp the dog’s ego down. The lampshade was actually pink. This dog is in for years of therapy.

Here’s what I want to know. Where the hell did they need to go? Were they just out for a walk? In the rain?

How bad must it be at home?

Does he have a wife who was torturing the two of them, till they just had to get out? I’ll be wondering for a long time…

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Shouldn’t Eat My What???

A few nights ago the Center of the Universe (CoTU) and I were in our favorite bookstore, browsing around. It’s one of our favorite things to do, being the wild and crazy people that we are.

As usual, he gravitated to his favorite section, and I gravitated to mine. There’s some variation here occasionally, and we generally start out perusing the new books, the best sellers, and the special displays. But that’s essentially foreplay. When it comes down to business, we know where to find each other. CoTU? –photography. Me? –writing.

You may already know that there are a plethora of books out these days that deal with grammar and the misuse thereof. Many of them have humorous and amusing names. I’m not certain whether this began with the best-selling “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves”, but there’s definitely been a growth in this genre.

“Lapsing into a Comma”, “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies”, and “Mortal Syntax” are just a few of the recent titles added to the bookstore shelves. I was leafing through “The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier” when something on the shelf caught my eye.

Maybe I was tired, maybe there was a smudge on my glasses, but the spine read: “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Bloggers.” Okay… I admit I was a bit taken aback, but I reached out to pick it up. I’m a blogger, I thought. Why would—what are they—oh, hell, just pick it up and find out.

Oh. What it really said was, “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers, and Other Useless or Gross Information About Your Body.”   Not that the book sounded any more interesting, important or compelling with the correct title.

But I’d be more likely to read a book about bloggers than a book about boogers. And that’s the truth.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Names You Just Can't Make Up

This really deserves more attention, and it’s going to get it one day soon, but today’s going to be “Names You Just Can’t Make Up” Friday. Feel free to join me. I won’t do it every week, but today’s sub-specialty will be names that fit the occupation.

Now we’ve all heard of doctors whose names are too crazy to be real, but here are a few that –on my solemn honor—I have witnessed to be true.
An optometrist named Dr. Wink.
A urologist named Dr. Philpott.
An orthopedist named Dr. Bonebrake.
I kid you not.

On this last trip home from Pittsburgh we stopped to see “Historic Richmond, Indiana”. Cute town, and I spotted two signs of significance:
Dr. Jon Tinkle, Chiropractor, and “Craig, Kelley and Faultless – Personal Injury Attorneys”. Really, though, with a name like Faultless, what other business makes sense?

We recently had a local man running for office whose name was Luter. Don’t politicians have enough trouble?

One recent day a student returned a book to the school library where I volunteer. The title: Inline Skating. The author? Steve Glidewell. And as my close personal friend (as if) Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making this up.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One Last (I promise) Thing About the Wedding

All right, I’m trying to come down off my wedding high, but it’s not easy. Sue me. It was so lovely, seeing the sweet couple and all of their lovely, loving friends. (Did I fail to mention that the Daffodil assembled one of the all-time most impressive team of attendants ever? She did. They had it all, individually and as a body. Smart, sweet, great-looking, fun and accomplished enough to make me feel like the most under-achieving slug of all time. Here’s a shout-out to the ladies who looked after and cared for my new daughter-in-law (de facto no more!) in such grand style. Yo, Nicole, Emily, Jenni and Tanya! Y’all rock!)

So before we close out the wedding chapter, and because some of you were kind enough to ask for photos of the wedding canopy, here’s a 2-minute video that the Center of the Universe created.

If you’ve never been to a Jewish wedding, let me explain. Er—the canopy, not the video. Jewish weddings are traditionally held under a canopy called a chuppah. It symbolized the home that the new couple is creating by their marriage. It’s open on all sides to indicate that they are part of a community, and will welcome strangers into their lives.

Because I do custom machine embroidery, my son and his then-fiance asked me to make their chuppah, as I had made the one for my daughter and son-in-law six years ago. I was honored.

The chuppah is made of eleven and a half yards of ivory poly-silk. It is 7 ½ feet square, and contains nearly 275,000 stitches of embroidery. I believe the bride and groom hope to hang it in their home in the future.

As you will see in the video, there is a center medallion with their names and their wedding date, and the Hebrew words “Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li.” It’s from the Song of Songs, and means “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” The four edges of the chuppah include their names and their wedding date, both in Hebrew and in English, and repeat the Hebrew verse cited.

My ongoing thanks to CoTU for doing the photography, and magically turning it into a lovely little video complete with music. My thanks also to the bride and groom for asking me to make it for them.