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May 2005

Huh?

There is a Simpsons episode in which an electronic Smokey the Bear asks, "Only who can prevent forest fires?" and goes on to say: "You pressed 'you' meaning 'me'. That is incorrect. The correct answer is 'me' meaning 'you."

And that pretty much sums up conversations with Patrick these days. Patrick has the habit of phrasing almost everything the way he would like us to say it. Thus he will sidle up with an endearing expression and say, "Do you want an alphabet cookie?" when, of course, he has no intention of offering me anything at all. It is baffling. It is also a hard thing to correct because I find myself saying, "No, baby, you, YOU, Patrick, you, say, may I, I meaning you, have a cookie please?" So he dutifully repeats, "May I have a cookie please?" only to have me say no. Then he gets all mad like I tricked him. And really, you can see his point.

He only has one more sound left to master before he can tell his speech therapist that he must sell seashells by the seashore, so see ya. O accursed 'W' sound that my language development reference sheet swears most children master early! Sometimes Patrick says 'm' as in "go for a malk" and sometimes he says 'v' as in "do you vant some vatermelon?" Personally, I prefer the latter pronunciation because it adds a touch of Count Chocula to an otherwise humdrum day. But he is starting to get the "w" more consistently and I expect that we will wrap up therapy by the end of the summer.

Not that Patrick is ready to start voice work for the BBC or anything, he still talks like a little kid, but he is finally within the range of normal for his age. So.. yay! I am proud of him. He was always so good-natured about going and I know he worked really hard. He would walk around saying "The A says ah and the A says ay. The B says buh. The C says suh and the C says kuh..."

I have no idea why I was so resistant to the idea that he might have a speech delay. I mean, big deal. So what? He had a speech delay, he went to therapy for six months and now he is all better. A big thank you, by the way, to Jamie who emailed me a long time ago when I wrote about Patrick's speech patterns in a blog entry. She said that she was a speech pathologist and that what I described sounded "atypical."  And it startled me enough to actually overcome my reluctance and get him evaluated. And he did have issues. Wasn't that nice of her to write to me? Community in action, right there.

Speaking of community, I loved reading your comments on the last post. I always love reading your comments. This time I was particularly fascinated by Geeky's assessment of the state of my union. Geeky decided that both Steve and I must be volatile types given to wild outbursts and passionate reunions. I laughed outloud and read her comment to Steve, then watched Steve's eyelid twitch in acknowledgement. Actually Steve is the most conflict-avoiding person on the planet. Make that two planets. Since I am tempestuous like tropical weather I find his silent acceptance of all things weird and unnerving, so for his own well-being I goad Steve into anger in order to get him to express himself. It's healthier for him that way. Well, at least that's my story. If Steve wrote this blog (I assume he would still call it julia at juliajulia dot com dot julia, since he is as obsessed with me as I am- we dream of me and compare our dreams) his version of our fights would be very different and would most likely rest heavily upon words like "unreasonable" "scary" "erratic" and.... I just went in to his office and asked him to describe me when we are fighting. He came up with: "ass-chihuahua." What the hell is that about? Remind me not to have him guest blog...

Anyway, I was amused by how perspective shades the narrative, right? I mean, I like a good fight with the shouting and the biting, so no one laughed more heartily than I did as I described it. It sounded like a rollicking ol' time to me but poor Steve probably hated it.

I just went in and consulted him again (isn't this fun? it's like you're all here with me!) He was typing something work-related and he did not look up this time.

"Do you hate it when we fight?" I asked.

"Ummm-hmmmm," he said. I waited.

"And?"

"I hate it."

"Do you have anything you would like to add to that?" I asked.

"Ass-chihuahua" he said. "Now get out."

And you wonder why I (meaning me) spend so much time online. My family never makes any sense and I am obviously dying for conversation.


Battle Royale

DISAGREEMENTS? Steve and I don't have disagreements. Occasionally, yes, one or the other of us might say something like, darling, I am afraid I must have expressed myself badly for you seem to be laboring under a misapprehension and I hate to see you like this. Come here, cuddlebunny, let me hold you. Then we link fingers and look through our wedding album while I snuggle on his lap. We don't even need to discuss it any further, we are so AT ONE that we just know. We speak each other's unspoken language- fluently.

But there are instances when we are less whole than others. Why, just the other day we had one of those little situations that arise like a cobra in even the happiest of divinely happy homes.

It all started when I was trying to schedule the SHS with the uber-local RE. The more difficult and asinine they became the less appealing the idea of doing an injectibles IUI cycle with them grew. So while, yes, Steve and I had jointly decided that we would try an IUI next, by the end of (um) fifteen minutes with the scheduler I hated them and I hated their stupid injectibles cycle. Besides, after deciding on an IUI we did get the call from the DC clinic offering us a cheaper IVF + PGD so... well it just suddenly appealed to me more.

But, of course, we are a TEAM here, a two-hearts-beating-as-one UNIT so I needed Steve to be behind another IVF cycle 115%. Am I right or am I right? So I sat him down one night after Patrick went to bed and I withheld beer and I took him through the reproductive history file and all the IVF spreadsheets and one or two Quicken reports and the cost basis for those stocks we sold back in 1999 and the statistical probabilities of unicorns infesting the attic until he finally curled up like a potatobug and whimpered no mas. I considered the matter settled and called SG to let them know I will be free to cycle when they are. Naturally.

The next morning I was so excited about doing another round of Gonal-F and Repronex I kept girlishly bursting into Steve's office to ask whether he thought I should wear this skirt or maybe THIS one when I went for the Day 3 baseline screening. But eventually I noticed that he was a little... sullen. A touch... non-verbal. So I asked, tactfully, if there was anything he wanted to talk about in a loving and fully-supported environment. As I recall I said something open-ended like, "What the fuck is your problem?"

And he, as a parched flower responds to gentle rain, said, "You keep changing the plan and you are driving me fucking crazy."

And I rapidly told him that as far as I was concerned he was merely being kept abreast of the reproductive plans as a goddamned courtesy because, show of hands, who is really carrying the burden of all this trying and failing? Me! That's who. Then I stormed out and went and had my Day of Horror at the salon.

That night Steve went to bed early to read and I sat down with the Devil to share a bottle of wine, as I do every now and again. Just as the Devil and I started playing Quarters with the cabernet, the Prince of Darkness pointed out that he thought I was getting a pretty raw deal.

"Oh yeah?" I said, neatly bouncing the quarter into a stemless Riedel and watching the devil mouth "No, no YOU drink it." I did.

"The way I see it," Satan said, "Steve owes you big time. Who is he to get all grouchy? Who is he to think that another IVF cycle would be a hassle? What has HE ever done for YOU?"

"You're right!" I exclaimed and hastily downed another glass of the blushful Hippocrene before I marched purposefully into the bedroom.

"I don't want to fight with you, sweetheart," I said, snatching the book from Steve's hands and throwing it across the room, "but I think you are being a complete dick and if I do not have another child I will hold it against you for the rest of your life."

The conversation sort of disintegrated from there. Steve kept trying to just go to sleep and I kept saying "Oh NO you DON'T!" and repeating my grievances, only a little louder.

When I mentioned for the fifth time his abandoning me to travel right after a D&C last year he finally said, "You admitted that you planned it that way. You set me up by scheduling a D&C when you knew I had to go away."

At which point my jaw dropped open because I might have been drunk but he was clearly INSANE. I never did any such thing. The idea! And I got SO ANGRY. SO VERY VERY ANGRY that I wanted to punch him right in his stupid, handsome face. In fact I balled my fist up and began to swing it but he ducked and then headed towards the guest bedroom. Which is when I half-tackled him and tried to bite him on the leg (I am a classy, a very classy, lady.) That is how I got the rug burn on my shoulder blade, in case you were wondering.

Then the fight just sort of fizzled and he went to sleep and I read for awhile.

The next day I was horribly embarrassed about it and I said, "Uh, sorry about attacking you like a ferret and everything."

And he said, "That's ok, honey."

And I said, "We can do an IUI if you really think that is best."

And he said, "No. I am fine with IVF. I want another child, too, and I agree it is probably our best bet. But I hate it when you manipulate me."

I said sorry. And he said sorry. And then we carved our initials in a tree with a heart around it.

So that is what we disagree about, pretty much exclusively but fairly repetitively. We disagree about the fact that I think he should kiss my ass more over the reproductive stuff and he thinks he should not.

What do you fight with your spouse, significant other, life partner, pet or roommate about? Sex, money, hobbies, housework? The fact that they should be sorrier about my miscarriages than they are? (I get that a lot.) Do you have the same fight over and over, too, or are Steve and I just in a rut?   


Do Over

Oh DAMN IT!

The power just blipped out here long enough to crash my computer and obliterate the post I had almost finished {IF STEVE DOES NOT AGREE TO BUY A BACKUP GENERATOR BEFORE THE END OF THE SUMMER I WILL HOLD MY BREATH UNTIL I TURN BLUE. It's not even the internet, although I miss you dearly when you are gone, but the well does not provide water when we have no power, comprends?} It was a boring post, I'll admit it, and the loss to American Letters will be slight, but I no longer have time to even offer anything equally boring in its place. I did want to let you know that I am feeling much better, though, and thank you.

I will be seeing my OBGyn for an annual tomorrow (apparently 500000 useless prenatal visit do not accumulate towards a yearly exam so I am WAY overdue for one.) I will ask her about all the HSG grossness when I see her. You know, I felt exactly like I did after the IVF egg retrieval. The HSG itself did not hurt at all but, ick, afterwards, ye gods. I am guessing that I get unsettled by fluids seeping into my delicate flowerlike pelvis.

Right now I have to go help Steve paint the basement. They are installing the carpet on Tuesday and Steve's little foray into adding windows all over the damn place has set back the schedule. By, like, over a month, but that's ok. All that natural light and fresh air are rather nice, if you are into that sort of thing.

Back tomorrow.

+

Oh, um, here's a picture of Patrick taken last week when I asked him to smile for the camera. Smile_1I uploaded it for the other post, the Lost Post, but I might as well link to it anyway. Nice face, huh?  Note that he is eating "cheese with holes." Steve and I actually had to CALL MY MOTHER and ask her what she thought Patrick meant when he kept asking for it. "Uh, Swiss cheese?" my mother said. Ohhhhhhh, we said.


Ugh

The HSG was no problem, a little pinchy, a lot embarrassing (will describe later) but physically quite easy.

Seven hours later, however, and I suddenly feel awful. Horrible cramps, nauseous... really really gross. 

Does this sound normal? Has it happened to you?


Points

After torturing our youngest cat with hugs and kisses this morning (adding a running patter of "That's nice! What a great kitty! I gave him a hug and a kiss! That's nice! I'm a nice boy!" while I lay groggily in bed thinking, "Kitty? Since when do we call them kitties?") Patrick climbed into bed with me.

"Can we read a story in bed?"

A hypothetical question because, look at that, he just happened to have a book already picked out, but I muttered yes anyway. We try to maintain the niceties. So Patrick pushed up the book and then he hoisted up Bear and then he scrambled in and we all snuggled under the covers and read... something, I don't know, it is always too early when Steve gets his first business call and Patrick comes in to wake me up.

Halfway though Patrick turned to me and said with ghoulish satisfaction, "A really big caterpillar is going to come in here and eat us all up." (No, no we weren't reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, that would've made sense.) I looked down and saw that he was crossing his eyes and smacking his lips at me.

And I thought, if you sat next to me on a  bus I would change seats, you little weirdo, but I said, "Oh my! That's terrible! What will we do?"

"We'll call Daddy," Patrick said with confidence, uncrossing his eyes.

"And what will he do?" I asked, skeptical that Steve (in all his spider-fearing glory) would be capable of much when faced with man-eating insects of any kind.

"He'll eat up all the caterpillars and we'll say, 'Yay Daddy! Great job.'"

Of course.   

I just love love love little boys.

I am having an HSG this afternoon. A tune-up, really, to check for scar tissue. I couldn't decide whether my first period after the D&C was dangerously light or not, so I opted to freak and call my OB-Gyn just to be on the safe side of hysteria. It is merely coincidental that the local RE has refused to: a) see me for a follow-up appointment without an SHS, which is the HSG's little sister; b) schedule the SHS on Day 11 without being on the pill; c) check to see whether I had actually ovulated or not by Day 11 instead of putting it off until next month; d) have another RE at the practice do the SHS, at all, ever, without being on the pill; e) have my own doctor do either an HSG or an SHS this month and send them a report. Does that cover it? I think so. I know I did not write that very clearly but I believe the situation can be summed up with the phrase: the local RE's office is filled with partially educated, obscenely rigid, frighteningly unimaginative, difficult-as-hell fuckwits.   

Did I mention that we will just be doing another IVF cycle in DC in, um, four, five... six weeks?

Sure they have a habit of transferring abnormal embryos instead of normal ones but hey, we all have our quirks. And with rock-bottom pricing we would be fools NOT to go back. Ahem.

I don't know. I didn't have any other plans for July. Steve will kill me if it doesn't work, though, just so you know. He is, as the Americans say, not fully committed to this course of action yet. He is treating it as if I have decided to buy a Jaguar. I can do it, he supposes, but don't expect him to wash and wax it for me.


Notebook 1

From The Housewife's Notebook:

Hint #1 Never give your small child bath crayons to play with in the bathtub.

Hint #2 Tired of the look of your current bathroom? Want to jazz it up without the trouble and expense of a complete remodel? Try bath crayons! In just seconds these little wonders will make that boring white tub grout unrecognizable! And unlike house paints that need to be touched up every few decades, these colors are INDELIBLE. They are guaranteed not to rinse, wash, scrub or sandblast off. Select from your choice of Algae Green, Mildew Blue or Bacterial-Swamp Red, or mix-and-match for a fun Fiesta Slime effect!

Bleh. Lemme know if you want in on my Class Action suit. "Bathtub safe" my round white moon...


Piñata Girl

Feh.

I look like one of those enormous Barbie heads, only with frizzy red hair instead of frizzy blonde.

The dyed black eyelashes, the red red hair, the strangely abbreviated eyebrows... I could live with these legacies of today's ill-fated salon visit. Ski caps and jumbo sunglasses, while odd, will go far to mitigate the weirdness until everything either falls out and or grows back. What is breaking my heart, however, what makes me want to fling myself down on the floor and cry and cry until there is nothing left but memories and bitterness, is the fact that I agreed to let a total stranger cut two inches off my hair and it wound up being more like four. It's, like, shoulder-length. It also triangulates. Dip me in gold and you'd have King Tut.

And I know, you ghouls. You want a picture. You wanted pictures when the white-blond streaks made me look like a poor man's Bonnie Raitt and now you are dying to know what the late, lamented Roseanne Rosannadanna would look like in hideous technicolor.

Humph. I'll consider it.

But first I have to humiliate myself even further by telling you about the simply awful thing I did tonight.

On Sunday we went over to the new neighbors for a barbecue. One thing led to another and I suggested that they should come over here on Thursday (yes, today is Thursday) to help me perfect my Margarita Master Recipe. If the weather is nice, I said. If you feel like it, I added. (I am trying to be all casual as I would dearly love to have neighbors who were always dropping in for a cocktail but I do not want to scare them away with my desperation, you know?)

So we left it at that.

And then Steve and I got in a WHOMPING fight this morning (about whether to do IVF in DC in July- I'll fill you in) and that lasted up until I went and got all multi-colored. When I came home Steve pointed and laughed and sang Shirley Temple songs at me (I was rather... diffused.) In the heat of the moment I snapped and announced that we would be driving to the closest possible restaurant for dinner. Which just happens to be a little Mexican joint. One that sells margaritas, coincidentally enough.

And do you want to know who we ran into at the door?

The NEIGHBORS! The ones that I had invited over for margaritas tonight and then forgot about. Gak, talk about embarrassing. I could have been totally cool about it and saved the situation but instead I was mortified and tongue-tied. I mean, on the scale of Rudeness inviting people over for     and then merrily going out for    without them ranks as, what, an eleven?

And just in case you are hoping that maybe they forgot, too, she explained at the door that her husband had called and asked if she had heard from us and when she said no, he asked if she was still in the mood for margaritas....

Gak. And you wonder why I don't have any friends here (other than Elisabeth. who I am calling tomorrow. really.)

Can you think of anything I can do to rectify my incredible asininity or do we have to move?


Plan Z

I adore IVF clinics. They always know how to make things so... effortless.

I have just wasted fifteen minutes here trying to describe my attempt to schedule a sonohystereoscopy today and finally deleted the whole thing. It was tedious to endure but it was going to be REALLY tedious to read. And I love you too much to put you through that.

Long story short: my brand-new cycle (Dear Experience, How long will it take to start my period after a D&C? Love Julia; Dear Julia, Five to eight weeks. Yes, eight. Stop bitching. Love, Experience) is failing to mesh with the uber-local RE's vacation schedule. The RE's office feels I should either start birth control pills in order to safely shoot dye into the nether workings on an otherwise incredibly risky DAY ELEVEN when she returns or I should wait until next month. Actually, they said, "Either you have to take the pill or you have to wait until next month." I hate that. I hate being told that I have to do anything by people who are merely providing a service. Tell me what you are willing to do for me, but do not tell me what I can do with that information.

Anyway, being the fucking creative genius I am, I suggested as an alternative to non-option A and crappy option B that a different RE from their office might perform the three minute test next week. After the clinic stopped reeling the doofus said she would call me back. It is now eight thirty pip emma and I just don't know if the scheduler is going to call tonight. Maybe our phone isn't working? Would you guys call me just to make sure the line is working?

I will deal with her tomorrow. Yes, I said that grimly.

The sonohystereoscopy is just to check for any scar tissue following the D&C. It is the last box I have to cross off before I can go back to the uber-close local RE and plan something else. If you must know (and I think you must) the plan I am pushing is to try an aggressive injectibles IUI cycle as soon as we can. The new RE was less enthused with this suggestion but I think I can mesmerize her with my pretty hair and indomitable pluck in the face of five hundred million miscarriages. 

"Whaaaa....???" The cognoscenti are asking themselves. Why on earth would we do that when we obviously have no problem conceiving? Well, because, that's why. Because it is completely free (insurance will cover it and the Family Von Hippogriff has already almost managed to meet our annual out-of-pocket limit so, yes, free free free) and we might as well see if we can get a couple of eggs to fertilize that way. It will be like trying again on our own (Steve's vote) but on speed (my vote.)

As for the Clinic of the Druids, if nothing good happens between now and then I will probably take them up on their mulligan offer in the Fall. Nothing like Washington in the autumn! Crisp leaves beneath my feet, the warmth of Indian summer still lingering, Gonal-F coursing through my veins.... ah! Splendid.

So that is the reproductive plan: 1) Have sex and perfect the grapefruit margarita recipe I have been working on; 2) Bully next-door-neighbor-IVF clinic into superovulatory cycle; 3) Repeat IVF with PGD if #s 1 and 2 prove as successful as my reproductive plans usually do.    

Hey, speaking of recipes, I worked my fingers to little bloody stubs and got the choco-cheesecakey wheel of goodness up. Also, this chicken soup recipe you really have to try. I mean it. You'll read it and think, eh, but it is DEE-lightful. And fast. And you can have all of the ingredients on hand in the freezer or pantry. That is my goal with the side recipes, by the way. I am trying to post things that you can make ahead of time or at the last minute with a minimum of fuss and, let's be honest, a minimum of typing. Seriously. Try. The. Soup. Don't make me bring out my hair.    


Balanced Translocations: 101

This is still bothering me, so excuse me while I declare a few moments of silent scientific concentration here at the Hippo. Now this Normal_4is what chromosomes one and four look like in a genetically normal person, provided they are made of playdough. The red ones are an exquisite squishy rendering of the first chromosomes, while the more diminutive fourth chromosomes are in blue.

And this is what Playdough Steve looks like.Balanced Can you see how he has both copies of one and both copies of four but one part of one copy of each chromosome has switched places? Excellent! THAT is a balanced translocation.

All cells in the genetically normal human body have two copies of each chromosome except sperm (I originally wrote that both the egg and the sperm have only one copy but it turns out I was wrong- how embarrassing for me BUT please for the love of god always point it out when I make an error like that.) Those cells are created by randomly grabbing one of each of a person's twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, so Normal_sperm_1this what the first and fourth chromosomes look like in a normal sperm cell.

Only one of each.

While it is possible for a person with a balanced translocation to create normal sperm cells (exhibit A: Patrick) they frequently get this instead.Unbalanced_sperm Chromosome one is all there plus an extra, partial copy of the one. The extra is bad, by the way. Also, only half of the fourth chromosome is present. All of the genes located on that half of the fourth chromosome are gone. That absence is bad too, in case you were wondering.

When this unbalanced sperm cell hooks up with a lovely normal egg and creates the first cell in a new embryo it looks like this. Unbalanced_cell_1Two and a half copies of the first chromosome and only one and a half copies of the fourth. THIS is the starter cell. THIS is the only genetic information that this embryo will have to work with from these two chromosomes. So, again, I ask, how could a mosaic situation exist?

This last miscarriage was caused by an unbalanced translocation. It was inherited  [unless you want to imagine a new and yet identical de novo (spontaneous) situation of such mind-blowingly coincidental proportions even typing it makes me laugh out loud, Ho ho ho] so we know that the sperm that created it was unbalanced. Therefore that very first cell was unbalanced as well. If that embryo carried normal cells as my IVF clinic would have me believe, well, I ask you, WHERE DID THE MISSING PIECES OF THE FOURTH CHROMOSOME MATERIALIZE FROM? The Piggly-Wiggly? That half of the fourth chromosome was GONE. It DID NOT EXIST.

The Playdough doesn't lie, people.

Do you want to know what I think? I think they transferred the wrong embryo, that's what I think.

And do you know what else? It does not matter one iota. It just... happened. But I did feel a need to explain why I do not think an inherited unbalanced translocation can display patterns of mosaicism.

I expect you will be seeing me and my playdough in Sweden for my Nobel prize quite soon.....

(Aw damn it. This looked much prettier in my browser window. I keep trying to move the little images so it is all slick and informative but I do not know how. I DO know this is boring, however, and I am sorry. But it is also good for you, like spinach, so buck it up campers. I did just get permission from Steve to write about his adoption and finding his birthmother so if you like more human interest and less genetics stick around.)   

Edited for clarification (I hope): Whoa, the human egg carries 46 chromosomes?? Really? Is that true? So much for Sweden...

Mosaicism is when an embryo has both chromosomally normal and chromosomally abnormal cells. Patrick won't let me have the playdough back so we are just going to have to squinch our eyes and try some Imagination Time to visualize this. It is sort of easy to see how this can happen with trisomies (trisomies occur when there are three copies of the same chromosome; Down's Syndrome is an example of this.) You could start with a trisomy and during cell division the extra chromosome could be shed and voila you have a normal cell replicating itself right along with the abnormal ones. Or, conversely, you start with a normal cell and during cell division an extra chromosome gets tacked in and voila you have an abnormal cell replicating itself right along with the normal ones. That makes sense, doesn't it? The reason I do not think that mosaicism is a reasonable explanation in our case is that the embryo must have started with missing genetic information that could not be replaced (See Playdough, above.)

If this last miscarriage had carried any other abnormality than the one it did I would say ah, yes, well, such is the mystery of meiosis (or maybe mitosis; if I got the egg thing wrong I am clearly not to be trusted too much with the biology, although my logic is flawless, thank you) but it carried Steve's very very specific translocation. Not just the same chromosomes but the q break at 33.1. Like I said, specific. 

It is easier for me to imagine a mis-labeled embryo than it is for me to imagine strange coincidences at the cellular level. I am simple like that. But but BUT I do not know. They do not know. Collectively we will never know, which absolutely kills the mystery reader in me, but other than that I can live with it.

Believe it or not, I think the clinic did a great job, over all. I am even impressed by the way they researched the cause of the miscarriage, down to bringing Steve's original karyotyping slide to DC via courier. And while I appreciate your righteous vehemence on my behalf, I still think it was decent of them to offer us anything at all towards another cycle. I know, I know, you guys believe they should cover the whole thing AND send me orchids every day but I am satisfied with less. I would certainly use them again if they were not so far away and if IVF had added one damn thing to my life. I still might, I suppose, who knows. IF the wrong embryo was transferred then I believe such an occurrence falls under the banner of easily understood human error. Frequently someone has to bear the burden of living with imperfect individuals in an imperfect world. When I was 17 I was a hostess in a nice DC restaurant. One night a couple came in to wait for a table and I completely forgot about them. Eventually I started seating people as they walked in the door and the guy who had been waiting for over an hour lost it and told me that I had ruined dinner for them, not just for that night but FOREVER. See, in that situation, he was the victim of my imperfection. Maybe it just was my turn with the PGD.

Personally, I like Ms Sisyphus' excellent theory that I was Caligula in a past life and I am paying for it now.             


Mailbag

Steve is going to Dallas tomorrow (ok, only for eight hours but I still feel obliged to spend time with him tonight) so I am just going to grab the easiest of the questions right now and start there.

*Everything you ever needed to know about the many magical uses of baking soda can be found right here my friends. I listed ten (scroll all the way down, I babble) and there are more in the comment section. My favorite tip that was new to me: use baking soda and white vinegar à la grade-school volcano to clean diamonds. I no longer have to live with dingy tiaras, saints be praised.

**Ahhhhh, the Great Mascara Quest. I was just about to post on this one again anyway, as it has taken me forever but I have finally narrowed down the field. I will just list these by price, since I do not have a clear favorite amongst them. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, can compare to Maybelline Waterproof UltraLash in sable brown and I damn them to hell for taking it off the market.

$ - Maybelline Waterproof Great Lash (not bad, best of the drugstore brands) 

$$ - Bourjois PumP uP the Volume Waterproof (goes on like a dream, but a little skimpy once applied- I found it at Ulta by the way)

$$$ - Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof (pretty good although I got home and discovered that the nice woman had given me the black when I had distinctly asked for the brown, curses, so I look a little 60s-esque with the top-heavy lids- still a decent enough mascara)

$$$$ - I am getting my eyelashes tinted next week. I'll let you know how it goes.

****Oh oh oh, two-for-one! Libby wants to know what happened with the chicken recipe in DC and Lisa wants to know how I liked her AMAZING Italian Gravy recipe. I answered the first here (sum: it was delicious and I was very grateful to you guys) and as for the second I have quarts of the Stolidoli pork gravy in my freezer right now because it is SO GOOD I make it all the time, thank you. We had a sitter on Saturday and I tried to think of something that Patrick would absolutely eat with her and I came up with rotini plus this amazing sauce. Truly something The Whole Family Can Enjoy. If you would like her recipe go here and scroll down. Actually, there are a lot of good recipes on that post.   

*** Finally, yeah, Steve was troubled because I did not rinse the grapes before I put them in that cute little grape colander displayed attractively on the counter. Generally Steve is not overly compulsive about cleanliness (well, other than the fact that he gets up in the middle of the night to brush his teeth, good god almighty) so I felt that there was an underlying meaning when he complained about the merest hint of grapey grit. Personally, I saw the Grape Skirmish more as an illustration of the eternal struggle between Bread Maker and Bread Winner. If one is so concerned about the cleanliness of what one is eating then one can damn well wash the grape oneself, capisce? If I start hand-washing each grape that passes his lips, can peeling them for him be far behind? No! NO! I say. We have nothing to lose but the butter that binds us, my fraus, so I told him to handle his own fucking grapes. A-hem!

More tomorrow.