Tanta Claus Give Me a Baby Doll

December 21, 2007 at 10:57 am (Family)

Married To The Sea

One Christmas, many, many years ago, our relatives in Trinidad sent us an audiocassette of their Boxing Day celebrations.  I was a small child at the time, La Belle Helene did not exist, SuperFudge was a newborn,  and her older sister, SuSu, was probably around 2 years old.

After proudly declaring “Tanta Claus give me a baby doll,” SuSu rocked out her rendition of the traditional Spanish Christmas Carol:

“Police never glad, Police never glad, Police never glad.  I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from my bottom and my heart.”

Merry Christmas from my bottom and my heart, everyone.


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Oldie but Goodie

December 21, 2007 at 10:43 am (Uncategorized)

I know I posted this last year, but the classics never go out of style.

Married To The Sea

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It Just Occurred to Me

December 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm (Family)

La Belle Helene has stolen my house!  How’d that happen?  And my mother stole La Belle Helene’s house and is fleeing the state with the proceeds.

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Good Times, Great Times

December 18, 2007 at 4:00 pm (Uncategorized)


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Balthazar Primero, Melchior, Caspar

December 18, 2007 at 2:38 pm (Family)

Today is my father’s birthday.  It was a tradition in my family, since my father was born a week before Christmas (hence his childhood nickname of Joy), to put up the tree on his birthday.  My mother would spend the time making pastelles while we hung ornaments and listened to parang records. As kids, we would bounce back and forth between the living room and the dining room, offering help to each team until we got bored. (Pastelles require a sweatshop, really. And the sad thing is that we never got to eat them the day we made them. We always had half the batch on Christmas and froze the other half for New Year’s).

Since my dad died, the tradition has changed somewhat. For the past two years, we’ve had a real tree thanks to the influence of Basie. Technically, I don’t even live there anymore; so I doubt I’ll be making a contribution to the Christmas preparations. (Bonus, I will be treated as a guest when I visit, which means I can sit on the furniture!) My mother’s been in Florida for the past 2 weeks and I don’t think she’ll be up for Pastelles Sweatshop after her flight this evening.

Today is also Basie’s birthday. So, he and La Belle Helene can start implementing a new Christmas tradition. I suspect it will involve many cookies.

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Clicking Fun for Logophiles

December 13, 2007 at 12:23 pm (Uncategorized)


Show off your great big vocabulary (yes, there are words there that even I don’t know) and donate some rice.

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Emergency Call

December 12, 2007 at 12:05 pm (Fauna Files)

TragicCrusade: Hello, what’s up?

Quiconque: Well, I was, uh, about to take a nap before I did some writing so I uh went to the bathroom and then I locked the door and I got into bed and then and then I looked over the edge of the bed to see if I had the books I needed to work on and and and I looked down and then I saw, I saw, I saw a MOUSE crawling around the books and and and and….

TragicCrusade: Breathe, Quiconque.  Breathe.

Quiconque: And then I and then I screamed and then I called you and I wish you were here because this is terrible!!

TragicCrusade: Okay, breathe.  Is the mouse still there?

Quiconque: What?!  You want me to LOOK over the edge of the bed?  I can’t.  I can’t look.

TragicCrusade: All right.  You were getting ready to go to sleep right?  Okay, important question–did you get to go to the bathroom?

Quiconque: Yes, I went to the bathroom.  I even locked the front door.

TragicCrusade: So, you’re in bed now, and there’s really no reason for you to leave it for a while.  Turn on the lights.

Quiconque: I never turned off the lights.  All the lights are on!

TragicCrusade: All right.  Breathe.  Turn on the TV so that the sound will scare the mouse away.

Quiconque: The TV is on full blast!

TragicCrusade: When you’ve calmed down some, I want you to think about drafting a letter to your super, because you’re probably not the only tenant dealing with a mouse problem.  Tomorrow, go to a grocery or a drugstore and get those D-Con traps, the round ones, where you don’t have to see or touch the mouse.   This will all help you get some agency in this process, so you won’t just be a victim in your own home.  Also, think about getting one of those sonic repellent things.

Quiconque: {on the verge of tears} Do they work?

TragicCrusade: Sure they do.  Imagine hearing a siren.  That’s the sound it makes for the mouse.  You can’t hear it, because it’s too high for humans to hear.  But it will drive the mice away.  And you don’t have any pets to worry about. 

Quiconque: Okay, I’ll get the traps and look into the sonic thing.  Waaaaah!

TragicCrusade: What?  Did you see the mouse?

Quiconque: No, I’m NOT looking anywhere but the ceiling.  This is so terrible!!

TragicCrusade: So, what’s on TV?

Quiconque: Monk.

TragicCrusade: Yes, there’s been a marathon this weekend.  That Monk is an amusing fellow.  What’s Monk up to?

Quiconque: He shot Santa Claus.  The whole city hates him….

By concentrating on the frivolities of television, I was finally able to calm down enough to sleep for a few hours.  TragicCrusade should really start a Mouse Hotline.


The next morning, in the hallway just outside my door, was a dead mouse.  Was it the mouse that had terrorized me all night?  Who can say?  The next day TragicCrusade came over and we bought a cartload of anti-mouse stuff at Target: no-see traps, poison packets, and sonic repellents.  We spent the evening setting them up around the apartment.  I hope I have made my home sufficiently hostile to mice now.

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Death in Tehran

December 6, 2007 at 12:57 pm (Uncategorized)

One morning, the Persian king’s servant is shopping in the marketplace, where he encounters Death browsing amongst the stalls.  Frightened out of his wits, the servant abandons his shopping and rushes back to the palace.  He recounts his meeting with Death, and begs the king for money and permission to flee to Tehran, which the king grants.  Later that day, the king himself meets Death and accosts Death for scaring his servant away.  To which Death replies that it was not Its intention to scare the servant; Death was merely surprised to see him in the marketplace, since Death knew It was going to meet the servant in Tehran that night. 

I feel as if I’ve written about this before.  This is quickly becoming the story of my life.   Those of you who know anything about my past living situation know that I was in an ongoing battle against two major foes: plumbing disasters and mice.  This, I consoled myself, was all just part of living in an old farmhouse.  (Yes, there are old farmhouses in the Bronx.  Alas, the farmhouse where I once lived was torn down last week.  There is now a huge gaping hole next to my mother’s home where my dwelling used to be).

I thought such problems were behind me once I moved into a modern, newly (and still being) renovated apartment building.  Foolish me.  My bathroom ceiling is leaking, the plaster is coming down, and every evening I hear the hiss and drip of escaping water.   Even so, I can live with this, because I have a Super who will take care of these things, and has already found the leak and is making plans to fix the plaster.

But two nights ago I heard some scrabbling that sent the cold knife of terror into my heart.  I was on the phone with TragicCrusade, who suggested that it was just the rustle of a plastic bag.  However, I had closed the windows: there was no wind to shake the plastic bags.  I knew what it was, much as I wanted to deny it.  To be safe, I bought some mouse poison and put it around the apartment. 

Last night I woke to the sounds of a tiny animal screaming.

Why, oh why, must the thing I fear the most be the thing that plagues me most often?  Why can’t I have an irrational fear of slugs, instead, like SuperFudge?  Chances are slugs would never invade my apartment.  I live in constant terror.   AND, now that I’ve moved away, I don’t even have SuperFudge around to rescue me! (Not only is she an amazing Navigatrix, she is an excellent trap-layer, mousecatcher,  and carcass disposer).

My home is no longer a comfort to me.

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Rock Star, Now with Groupies!

December 4, 2007 at 10:13 am (The Albatross)

DC was marvelous.  The drive down was easy-peasy, except for a not-quite-correct, but by no means wrong, turn onto New York Avenue (we were aiming for Pennsylvania).  We spent an hour in a confusing tunnel as our penance, and eventually ended up at the hotel.  It helps to have a Navigatrix.

For those of you who wondered, yes I finished my paper in time.  I was even able to sleep 2 hours the morning of the presentation.  The presentation took place in a small hospitality room way in the back of the convention hotel.  It was a strange hodge-podge of a panel, culled together from various individual papers that had nothing more in common than “Europe.”  The moderator served only as a human stop-watch, and offered no overarching commentary to link the papers together.

Most of the other presentations were forgettable.  In fact, two of the presenters are interchangeable in my memory of the event.  A lone man presented, and I cannot recall anything about his paper beyond the word “Galicia,” which is the only thing I could make out, even though I was sitting in the front row.

Other presentations (there were seven presentations to be given in and hour and 45 minutes.  Insane!) were very good.  I never, ever thought I could give a crap about land use in Latvia, but I learned a lot about the struggles organic farmers have with the local government now.  The presentation on the recognition of Irish as a legitimate minority language in the UK was illuminating as well.

But, let it be known that I rocked the house.  My paper was, in fact, too long, and I had to cut out what for me was the most interesting part: the methods the police use to profile suspected offenders on the subway.  Nevertheless, my paper was well-received.  At the close of the session, a French anthropologist came up to me and praised me for “taking the argument further than most discussions of this topic.”  That was especially gratifying.  (I would have lingered in conversation with him longer but j’ai du pisser comme un cheval de course.)

The next day, Superfudge and I were roaming through the Sackler Wing at the Smithsonian.  We entered the Whistler Room and three bright-eyed young people bounded up to me.  “We were at your presentation yesterday!  Yes, we heard your paper.  Yours was the best!”

I’ll be sure to wear my sunglasses at next year’s annual meeting.

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