Voices in the dark

Our house is more than a century old, and sometimes that shows in weird little design quirks. And I'm not talking about the ghost.

Sure, we have electricity, central heat and air (pretty much - holy Hera it's been cold). But most of that stuff was added on much later, and not always in the most logical fashion. For example: There are no overhead lights in the foyer or living room. There's a switch in the foyer, but it turns on the porch light. There is no switch in the living room at all; we use a floor lamp in the corner behind Jim's chair to light the living room.

That means when you enter the house after dark, you stand a good chance of walking through darkness for a minute.

See, in a normal house you walk in to a foyer, you hit the light switch, the foyer light comes on, and you can proceed from there. In our house, you walk in and fall into a black hole. There's not much in the way of streetlights on our block - which makes me much happier than living under th…

Snippets: New Year edition

PHOTOG: I have the Spice Girls running through my head. Help.
ME: You can always play "It's a Small World." That'll erase it.
PHOTOG: Noooo. Never mind. Change of topic.
ME: I got stuck in that ride for 47 minutes. In the refrain. It caused psychological damage.
PHOTOG: I bet.
ME: I could sing it for -


ME: Would you pull some pork chops out of the freezer before you go to work?
MAN: Ohhh.
ME: ? Why does this merit an oh?
ME: What's with the ohs?
MAN: I'm in an oh mood. Oh oh oh.
ME: Make sense.
MAN: never. don't wanna. oh.
ME: *confused emoji*
MAN: *detective emoji*
ME: Goofball.


ME: Great. That bank robbery is two blocks from my house. I should tell Jim to lock the doors.
EDITOR: Tell him to pop out there and take a picture.
ME: He's home with the stomach flu. He could vomit on the robbers.
EDITOR: He can bring a bucket.
REPORTER: That is the most editor-like response ever.


ME: Good news. A boneless pork chop is only…

Teddy bears and rainbows

I was doing all right until I dropped the sugar.

We'd gotten the bad news at church Sunday morning: Candace had taken a turn for the worse. Candace Sauermann, our dear friend and long-time church family member, who had been battling her third round with cancer when she caught pneumonia. But we thought she'd been doing better.

Candace, who a mutual friend once described as the sweetest, kindest woman in Edwardsville and who my son once described as "teddy bears and rainbows." He knew her better than most of my friends in our grownup-y world, because Candace was his Sunday school teacher from the time he could walk. Her unfailing patience and dedication to the kids of St. Andrew's is reflected in every child who passed through our red doors for the last two generations.

Candace, the engineer who dedicated many years of her life to designing the roads and bridges that carry us through this metro-east, working for the state department of transportation before moving …

Snippets: Holiday Sappiness Edition

*music swells*

MAN: *sniffle*
ME: ... seriously?
MAN: Oh shush.
ME: Hon.
MAN: *wipes eyes*
ME: You are such a marshmallow.
MAN: I am not. I'm *sniffle* mean.
ME: Love, you are not going to make it through It's a Wonderful Life if you cry at the end of Grinch.


And A Charlie Brown Christmas.


And during Scrooge (1935).


FLICK: Stuck! Stuuuuck stuuuck stuuuuuuuuuck!
MAN: I've done that.
ME: *look*
MAN: They said I was a scaredycat. I said, "I'm not a scaredycat!"
ME: Thus the problems of the world are caused by male dick-measuring contests.
MAN: ... it hurt.


And while walking down St. Charles Main Street with me.


And at "Everything I've Always Wanted" in Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July.* Along with "I See Rainbows When I Look at You."

ME: I see why you like this one.
MAN: I didn't remember these.
ME: Uh huh.


And on seeing the Christmas Eve snowfall.


And during "Silent Night"…

The Richest Man in Town

It's hard to admit it, but I cry like a child every time.

Admit it: so do you.

Of course, I'm talking about the end of It's a Wonderful Life. We've all seen it so many times that it's a movie-length cliche. It's the hokey ending that solves all the problems in one beautiful bow, the sort of thing that never happens in real life. From his barstool on Cheers, Norm even grouses that during the many times in his life that he's been in trouble, no one ever came to his door with a sackful of cash to bail him out.

It's a Wonderful Life is certainly dated, if that is a crime. It has its flaws of logic and characterization - for all of Mary's strength and self-assuredness in the original timeline, where is it in the alternate timeline? Are we to assume that her strength came only from her relationship with her husband, when she certainly showed it long before she became Mrs. George Bailey? Is it entirely logical that all the good people of Bedford Falls would…

Snippets: Holiday stress edition

MAN: Ooh, the tree light timer. I need to set it - what time is it?
BOY: Hold on.
MAN: You got your phone?
BOY: Yes, just a second.... *fiddles with phone*
MAN: *waits*
BOY: It's... hmm.
ME: Boys. There is a clock on the wall.
BOY: But... we've got our phones.

ME: Taking orders for cookies.
BOY: What are our options?
ME: Chocolate chip, death by chocolate cookies, gingersnaps, sugar cookies or snickerdoodles. I don't think I have the stuff for turtle cookies.
MAN: Chocolate chip or death by chocolate.
BOY: Sugar cookies or gingersnaps.
ME: ...
ME: I don't suppose I can get you two to agree on a cookie, can I?

Jim is cramming for a final on ancient Greek philosophy. Because hurriedly zooming through material the morning of the exam is the best way to insure retention, as we all know.

ME: *nibbles on neck*
MAN: Hey! Stop that, now! Aristotle!
ME: Ooooh, I love it when you say Aristotle. It makes me sooo hot. Say it again!
MAN: Aristotle.
ME: Oooh! Now say.... Plato!

A man with no statue: Rudy Wilson

He called me his daughter. It was half-affection, half-running joke, because we couldn't have looked more different. But there was no doubt that Rudy Wilson was everyone's dad, complete with dad jokes, and his death this week is a blow to the entire community.

He was a quiet groundbreaker, a man dedicated to education throughout his life. He was one of the first black faculty members at SIUE when it was a fledgling campus in 1970. He had already broken ground as the first black teacher at a California college, and when he came here, he taught in the school of education and became the assistant provost for cultural and social diversity.

Part of his job was to mentor student teachers, including visiting them as they worked in area high schools. This became a problem at a local high school and its all-white faculty, according to multiple sources. It was indicated that he was not wanted, and therefore, the university informed them that they would get no more student teachers until…

Thanksgiving Feast

I had multiple requests for recipes to my Thanksgiving menu, so here they are, attributed when I can remember where I got them...

Eggs Benedict
from Patrice Stribling Nelson (with modifications)

This is a heart attack on a plate, but it's so worth it. We usually double the recipe, because we usually want it two days in a row. You can also make the sauce alone to drizzle over steamed vegetables like asparagus or broccoli.

1/2 c. butter
4 egg yolks
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
dash white pepper
English muffins
all the eggs in the world
Canadian bacon etc. (opt.)

Begin by toasting the English muffins: two halves for each person if you are serving anything else, four if this is all you plan to serve or your family are gluttons like mine. Meanwhile, start frying eggs - one egg for each muffin half. Traditionally the egg is supposed to be over easy or poached, but I cannot stand runny eggs, so I make them over hard. Your mileage may vary.

If you're doing something fancy, you can…