Saturday, January 24, 2009

Next Saturday, we're going to try wine tasting

Need a way to fill a Saturday with the kids and still read your decorating magazines and catalogues? Here's what we did today:

My 6-year-old son and I each took a stack of magazines and had at it with scissors and glue. The result: Craft time accomplished. And Mommy read two Pottery Barn catalogues.

We had fun, sure, but we took this seriously, too, trying our best to create art. And now it's up to you, dear reader, to decide who did a better job. There's a poll over there, on the top of the column on the right, where you can vote whether you like my art (above, the collage on the left) the best or Jude's minimalist, and slightly derivative, piece.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Is it fair to pit a kindergartener against an adult? But, let me say, I've had no formal training. And I contributed several of my scraps to him at his request and he never used them, so that can only be interpreted as sabotage.

And even he admitted my piece was beautiful, which I think was a concession speech. But, in the end, it's up to you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

P.S. And your hand dryer scares me

Dear Mr. Dyson:

Your vacuum cleaner sucks. And not in the way a vacuum is supposed to.

Not long ago, I traded in my sturdy, but bulky and aging vacuum for your metrosexual model. I wanted to love not just your cyclone technology, but you as well. I envisioned my home transformed - orderly rooms, sleek furniture, rugs you can eat off of (and not just because granola bars have been ground into them).

But, my friend from across the pond, it was not to be. Within the first days of use, the vacuum met Moon Sand. Have you met Moon Sand, Sir James Dyson? I thought not.

It's an enticing product sold via TV commercials to young children, like mine, who watch too many cartoons. Moon Sand, it turns out, is made not of sand from the moon, which, note to NASA: you should sue over and get some money to pay down the federal deficit. Instead, it is a clay-sand-glue substance that clings to carpets, sock bottoms and to your ribs, I would suppose, if you were to eat it.

And if your vacuum can't handle Moon Sand, OK and some fireplace ashes, maybe a lot of fireplace ashes, too, then you should say so.

You should say (imagine this part with a British accent): Beautifully cleans up spilled cracker crumbs, should one of your well-dressed guests gets crazy with the pâté.

But, if you're thinking (still with accent) of vacuuming Moon Sand, fireplace ashes, and OK, some little pieces from the Operation game (no matter how satisfying that sound might be), then this isn't the vacuum for you.

Yes to eyelashes shed by baby kittens; no to Moon Sand, fireplace ashes, little pieces from the Operation game (no matter how satisfying that sound might be), and OK, pancake batter.

Cause no matter how many times you rinse out the patented-technology filter, your vacuum is just not the same after meeting Moon Sand, fireplace ashes, little pieces from the Operation game (no matter how satisfying that sound might be), pancake batter, and OK, bone marrow harvested during an at-home procedure.

And I thought you should know.


Mary Harrington

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Changing the diapers is time-consuming enough, thank you

My son turned six last weekend and I'm still nursing. Well, not nursing my son. Nursing my kitten. Well, not really nursing my kitten.

Let me start again. You see, our kitten Clare, now about 4 months old, has this incessant need to suckle on my clothes. Anytime I sit down, she climbs up near my neck and hunkers down with a soon-to-be-soggy bit of shirt in her mouth.

I really wouldn't mind, except the suckling is accompanied by kneading, and now my chest and neck are so scratched up it looks like I've been dating Mike Tyson. And my clothes are covered in spit. Like I've been dating, well, Mike Tyson.

So, I decided to Google "kitten suckling" to see how long this might all last. Here's what I found:

"This is embarrassing to disclose, but my 16 week-old Russian Blue has a very odd quirk, unique from my prior kittens. When I go to bed at night, Shale comes and lays on my chest, and usually will snuggle up, start kneading, and begin dry nursing on my nipple..."

Huh. I have to admit, it has never occurred to me to actually breastfeed my pets. But, let us explore the pros and cons.

Pro: The weight loss.

Con: Problem posting breastfeeding photo on Facebook.

Pro: Annoying people who can't abide by public breastfeeding.

Con: Sharp teeth.

Pro: Protecting kitten from peanut allergy later in life.

Con: Pumping before work. And finding tiny bottles.

Pro: Savings on kitten chow.

Con: Once it gets around, what would my neighbors say? What if they want me to breastfeed their pets, too?

Pro: Sleeping during night feedings.

Con: I bet those whiskers tickle. And I think that's going to have to be the deal-breaker.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2 women, 1 lady in a hot city

I'm back and refreshed for the new year. Just returned from a mini-vacation with my sisters in Miami.

Because my sisters begged me to join them. The sun won't shine as brightly without you there, they said. The soothing waterfall in the spa, not so soothing. The fruit smoothies by the pool, not that smoothy, they intoned.

I feigned modesty, but knowing that was all true, I decided to leave frigid Rhode Island and join them in their vacation-already-in-progress that they had accidentally forgotten to invite me along on when they made plans months ago.

(But, you are so important, we didn't think your family could survive without you. Your work so critical, and what with the economy already struggling, we didn't want to interfere with the global recovery. Your bank account so skinny given your propensity for charitable giving... So true, so true, I said, and forgave them for the inability to see what I can pull off to save my sisters from the dullness of a vacation without me.)

My sisters are both quite attractive, if you judge beauty in the conventional sense, of course. One has curly locks and is tone and muscular, clear to all thanks to her insistence on wearing a bathing suit in the pool. Truth be told, it's only the hours in the gym that make her that way. But is that natural beauty? I'm not sure...

The other is tall and thin with a mane of thick hair. You hear whispering about "Super Model" when she's around. True, it is she who is whispering, but still others get the point. But is beauty like that without work truly beautiful? I'm not sure...

From time to time, probably because I am generous enough to talk to people whatever their mental capabilities, people mistake me for their mother. I know what you are thinking: While you are the oldest of the three, aren't there only two and a half years between you and the youngest?

Yes, that is true. But I don't think people are judging physical attributes here. Take for instance, the massage therapist at the spa where we stayed in Miami. After appointments with my two sisters (who, as I mentioned, started the vacation earlier than me by mistake), it was my turn.

Another Harrington? he asked. Are you the mother? My initial reaction: I asked him to pinch himself - hard, on his upper arm, on the fleshy part where it really hurts. I was on vacation after all, and wasn't about to do that myself.

But, after that, I realized several things: One, he was clearly looking into my eyes and not at my body that has, after all, given birth. He could see the maturity, I am sure. He could see the way I have counseled my sisters throughout the years, guided them so well that one now owns a successful business and the other manages accounts worth millions. He could see that without me, they would stumble their way through life, accidentally taking dull vacations together.

And then there's the language barrier. "Mother" in his culture probably means "most kind of the three" or perhaps "willing to talk to the mentally deficient." In the end, we had a laugh. Well, actually, he may have been whimpering from the pain in his arm, but he saw the folly of it all.

We're home now, relaxed and ready for whatever '09 brings. I'm still keeping tabs on my sisters, with a maternal instinct of sorts. I have their travel agent on speed dial, for instance, checking in every few hours, keeping a close eye on their plans.