My son recently introduced me to lolcats via .  Lolcats humor is like the first time you walk in on people reciting a Monty Python routine.  Some of the jokes are immediately funny, but sometimes it feels like “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition,”—uh,  I don’t get it.  It’s only after repeated exposure that you begin to understand the rhythms and references.  You have to learn the rules—the fonts, the spellings, the subgenres within lolcats—before you can see what’s so funny–or not.  It’s another example of how much we humans love form.   A sort of visual limerick.  A game. 

Swimsuit Season

Swimsuit season is upon us and as a mother I am constantly working to refine my explanation of modesty, without having to resort to the cover-every-situation rules of the school dress code.  Here’s this year’s version:  modesty is like sitting at a table with a bunch of people and having a pack of gum.  Don’t be bringing that stuff out if you don’t intend to share.

Juicy Fruit Gum



Today was a beautiful day, so when I went to the nearby grocery store to pick up a sandwich on my lunch hour, I decided to just eat in my car with the windows open.  The sidewalk outside the store was covered with pots of brightly colored flowers for sale and there was lovely music playing.  It was very peaceful.

As I sat there I thought—how curious that they should be piping this beautiful music outside.  It certainly went with the sunshine and the flowers, but it just didn’t seem like the sort of thing a supermarket would do.  How nice.  How surprising. 

It was only when I was began driving away that I saw the young woman playing harp outside the store.  A harp at the grocery store!  Too bad I had to go back to work.  I wished I could listen more.  And then I thought about Joshua Bell in the subway.  And I thought about time.  And I parked the car and got out to tell her how much I’d enjoyed listening. 

It was good to stop.  Good to make myself stop.  It really didn’t take very long, and we all need to say thank you when we can.


An ugly mug is a missed opportunity.

I can drink my morning coffee from a paper to-go cup if necessity dictates, but to really get the day off to a good start, I need a satisfying aesthetic experience.  That’s why I’m very careful about my morning mug.

A good morning mug is such a complete pleasure.  The colors are interesting and attractive.  The mug has just enough heft to give you comfort as you move from sleep to waking.  It fits into your hand, whether you wrap you fingers around the handle or slide your fingers through the opening and around the cup.  The mug and the handle convey warmth, but are not hot.  The lip of the cup is smooth and substantial and pleasing when you bring it to your mouth.

But look in the thrift stores, or in the cabinets of the breakroom at work:  So much ugliness.  So much waste.  So many stupid cartoons and bad flower paintings; so many souvenirs people want to forget; so many annoying promotional mugs—slapped with a logo like a china T-shirt.  Mugs that lack wit or creativity or even the tiniest bit of thought in their making.  Too many mugs that will never really be mugs but only pencil holders at best.

Why bring something into the world to be ignored and discarded—barely even useful?  Better to stick with a paper cup than betray a medium that holds such promise.


There are some questions in life that you can’t answer to everyone’s satisfaction, but you should answer to your own.  It took me well into adulthood to find my answer to “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”   Here it is:  “If I go into the bathroom and turn on the fan, has the baby stopped crying?”

 Sometimes, despite my worst fears or greatest desires, it’s just not about me.

Look out! Here comes the Spiderman.

Spidey, Spidey, Spidey! These days I can’t walk into my friendly neighborhood discount store for fear of being webbed. You know what I mean. You’ve felt it too. The snack foods, the bed sheets–how many tie-ins can there be in one capitalist society?!? Ahhhh. Let’s think about it for a minute.

Ok, that’s enough. Actually, there are only a couple of items that seem worthy of comment:

First-the Spider Spud. It wasn’t enough for Mr. Potato Head to be packing a pair of angry eyes in his seat pajamas–now he’s got a superhero costume too. (And if you look a little further on the web or in the toy department you’ll find out that he’s got Darth Tater, Spud Trooper and Artoo Potatoo costumes tucked in there too!) What turns a tater to spandex?

Spider Spud

But if Spider Spud made me do a double-take, the one that really made me go “Whoa” was the Spi-Dog MP3 companion.


Talk about your angry eyes! This is one fierce-looking pup dancing on your desk. More importantly, it raises the larger issue: Is it morally wrong to dress your dog in a costume?

I ask you, is this a happy dog?