Less than 40 bits this time around

Photo by Refracted Moments

I like to read a blog by a girl named Amanda. She is a shamelessly sassy kind of girl. To give you an idea what being both shameless and sassy reads like, take a look at these small excerpts of a post she titled 82 things.

"I like for things to be symmetric. I’m glad my boobs are. My love for symmetricity (not a word but totally should be) would be slightly halted if my boobies were not."

"My husband has short legs, and I think they are so adorable."

"When I was 7, I hit a moving car with my bike. Yes, that is typed co
rrectly. I HIT the car with MY bike. It was either hit the car, or roll down the hill and get dirty. I had priorities. They obviously did not include dirt."

As things go, her 82 were very telling of her personality in a way that is similar to how the pointillist dots of an Impressionistic painting coalesce to show you a full image.

When I finished reading, I was so enchanted with the concept that I wrote her an e-mail asking whether I might steal her idea. She told me to go ahead and this is what I was born of that exercise. In a way, my Leaping Thought Wednesdays are the adopted child of Shamelessly Sassy's 82 things.

I felt like giving it another go today. Never say I don't try and show you the full picture.

Erin and Geoff, as you guys asked for another forty, I'm aiming to please...

1. I love to dance. When single, I used to get together with my girlfriends and we'd dress pretty, get in the car, put on the kind of music we liked at full blast, and psyche ourselves for a night out while we drove to our favorite club. To us, it didn't really matter much if we found partners to dance with. Going in a pack meant we could dance amongst ourselves. Guys were never lacking however. I think that men are innately drawn to the girls who don't give a fig about flirting through their dance moves. The less you seem to care and the more you look like you are enjoying yourself, the more they pay attention. We'd always walk out tired but happy. Our dancing shoes worn thin, our feet aching and yet, with the inner batteries charged to full. It was a wonderful high.

2. When my son is in school and I'm alone in the house, I put my ipod in the sound dock and let the dancing music rip. Now that I'm a mommy and haven't set foot in a club for more years than I care to remember, this is my only way of re-capturing the feelings I would get from going out to dance.

3. I know the rudiments of Egyptian Cabaret Dancing (more plainly known as belly dancing). Took classes for a couple of months with a professional belly dancer whose physique defied description. My teacher had a large, jiggly belly and not the Shakira-like flat tummy one might have expected her to possess. Nevertheless, she was a siren once she began to work that middle of hers. From her I learned that it is not really the body but what you can do with it, that matters most.

4. At age 6 I won a dance competition. Grand prize: One dollar. Signature move: Twirling round and round in circles with one hand at my waist and the other at my forehead in a military style salute. I thought I was über cool. Obviously so did the judges or I'd not have won. I'm sure it was this and not the tears of laughter I'd engendered with my dervish-like choreography that guaranteed me the prize.

5. As a child, I was a master at capturing the goodies from piñatas at birthday parties. I had the patented Milena candy-catching technique, and it made me unbeatable. Nobody but nobody walked away from the dismembered carcass of a piñata with as much candy as I did. Two things were essential to my success. My uncanny knack for sliding under at the exact moment it was disemboweled (notice all the gory imagery - I was such a little savage) and my special maxi skirt. It was like a tent that thing. Held at the proper angle, it gave me a candy-pickup circumference which no two little grabbing hands could hope to emulate. I reigned supreme. Other professional candy hoarders would groan when they saw me arrive at parties. I was a legend. You know, I never ate the candy myself. Always gave it away. All the sexiness lay in capturing the prize, not in consuming it.

Photo by jamesnichols81

6. I like original artwork. I don't have much and what I do have isn't valuable but, if it hangs on my walls it's because it speaks to me. A friend once explained that buying art should be a visceral experience, one in which the gut had to speak for you. In other words, no gut feeling, no purchase. I still find this a reliable ruler for most of my home buys, not just the artwork I own.

7. I'm incredibly gullible. I take most everything at face value. One time, while distributing the television show produced by the organization I used to work for, I fielded a telephone call from a heavily-accented Indian gentleman. He told me that his company, which he identified as the BBC, wanted to air our program. All excited at the big fish I had inadvertently landed, because I of course took this to mean that he was representing the British Broadcasting Corporation, I consequently felt utterly deflated when he corrected me and said that no, no, he was calling from the Bombay Broadcasting Company. I had all of two seconds of feeling sorry for myself at the downgrade in my BBC's when next I heard a burst of laughter from the other end of the line. My Indian fellow had been one of my own work mates pulling my leg. I mean, really? WHO believes there is a Bombay Broadcasting Company? Apparently only me.

8. When driving at night, I love being able to look into other people's lit homes. I call this my little Match Stick Girl Complex. There is something bittersweet about being outside and catching a glimpse of the warmth within.

9. I absolute adore fairy tales. I had read A Thousand and One Nights before the age of twelve (only as an adult did I realize there was a more explicit version of the stories). Washington Irving's Tales from the Alhambra and Andrew Lang's color coded compilation of fairy, folk, myth and just about any kind of tale from all over the world. Even now, whenever I reread some of my favorite stories, I still continue to get pleasure out of them. Everyone should have a little bit of belief in fairy tales as far as I'm concerned.

10. I used to be terrified of going to the dentist. I guess it all started with a traumatic experience I had as a child. I won't recount at length how I had to be held down while several of my molars were extracted but suffice it to say that ever afterwards, I always trembled when scheduling an appointment. Nevertheless, since coming to Houston, I've put that phobia to rest. I've found a dentist who can do the most invasive procedures without causing undue hurt. Poor guy, he worries more about my pain than I do, and that makes me try to be brave for him. He always tells me I'm his most stellar patient. As palliatives go it beats novocaine, Dr. Mike's praise does.

11. I talk to characters in movies. I forget they can't hear me.

12. I talk to myself. I wish I would listen to what I say...


The Gorgon - A diplomatic tale with a vein of truth

Since my son was quite ill over the weekend and not feeling entirely well until yesterday, I've been hard pressed to find the time to post this last week. Now, that we are back on track health-wise, at least for my little boy, my accumulated tiredness has caught up with me. I had intended to post a Leaping Thought Wednesday Post for you like always but the ideas flitted by and never stayed long enough to interest my fingers into typing them. Instead, I offer you this anecdote.


My parents once attended a party in their honor at the residence of the Italian Ambassador. The morning after, in telling me all about it, my mother said that to her surprise she and my father had walked into the entry hallway of the Embassy to find that full-length portraits of themselves (previously taken at another function) had been hung up for all the guests to see.

In greeting, the Ambassador kissed my mother's hand in the old world style and explained to her that it was especially as a tribute to her beauty and charm (and I can only just fantasize how deliciously accented this whole explanation must have been) that the enlarged photographs had been commissioned for the occasion.

, very soon after that party took place, at my geography class, all the children were assigned a country to make a presentation about. Mine was Italy. Upon learning of my task, my father asked me whether I should like some help with the project and when I said that I would, he wasted no time going directly to the top of the mountain so to speak. The next day he telephoned the aforementioned Ambassador and asked for literature or pamphlets that the Italian Embassy might keep on hand. The idea was that I would have something interesting and official-looking to hand out to my classmates during my presentation. The Ambassador delivered on this and offered something more. He extended me a private invitation to tour his home and meet him. He said to bring a list of questions I might wish to ask him about his country in order to flesh out further what I was planning to say in front of the class.

On the afternoon of my interview, my mother rushed me out of my school uniform and dressed me up in one of my formal outfits. While she made me presentable she drilled me on a long list of no-nos with regards to how I should behave:

1. Answer in full sentences and only when spoken to Milena.
2. Don't be too familiar (i.e. cheeky or ask questions not related to the project).
3. Remember to behave like the señorita that you are.
4. Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Do not fidget and do not slouch.
5. Remember to say thank you for everything that is offered to you and above all, remember that the Ambassador is your father's colleague. Do not do anything that might embarrass your father.

In my head, as she externally burdened me with all the stalwarts of decorum do nots, I simultaneously ran my abbreviated list of her admonishments:

1. Don't speak - check. But how am I supposed to ask questions then?
2. No impertinences -
I'll try, but in my defense, I don't deliberately set out to be impertinent.
3. Be a señorita -
Isn't that what you constantly tell me I am?
4. ... at ankles -
and my back straight. I know, I know. So tiresome but I'll do it anyway.
5. Thank yous - plenty of them.
I'll say grazie - should I say grazie? Would it sound too offish to show him I knew what grazie meant or, should I just stick with a plain English thank you?
6. Colleague
of papi's - (here I descended into my mental valley girl voice - like yeah, as if I did not know that already, excuuuuse me....)

Satisfied that she had at least done everything motherly possible to make me look neat and proper, she gave me her most fraught with dire consequences look of you behave and then sent me off to the Italian Embassy in my father's official car with Mr. Leonel, our Colombian driver. Handing me formally into the backseat, which was a place I hardly ever sat in, as I usually drove by his side to school in the mornings, Mr. Leonel winked at me in reassurance.

When we drove up, I remember that the Ambassador came out to the door of his home to meet me. I noticed that there was an intricate looking floor pattern in the entry hall. I knew nothing of architectural styles then and what my brain supplies for me now is probably incorrect, so I won't even attempt to describe the place to you except to tell you this much, it was fancy. There was a lot of marble and lots of golden, shiny looking things. While I was guided to a sitting room/library of sorts, he asked if I should care for something to drink and eat. I said that I would and I remembered to tag on the thank you my mother had exhorted me to since, I had forgotten in my awe to use my practiced grazie.

What would you like to drink
, he asked. Some water please I said. While a maid was waved off to get it, I self-consciously looked about the room as I felt him studying me. After a bit of prolonged silence, he cleared his throat as if meaning to get to business and asked me if I had any questions for him. Yes, I said. Where is my mother's photograph? The beginnings of a smile played on his lips. My mother told me it was as tall as she is and that you kissed her hand and called her pretty. I told him I thought my mother was pretty too. He laughed outright. I did too. It was infectious his laughter. It broke the ice.

So your mother told you about the photograph did she?
Yes, I said.

And now you want to know where it is, no?

Yes, I said again.

I've hidden it
, he answered.

I've got a Gorgon for a wife, and she doesn't like your mother's pretty photo hanging in our hall
What's a Gorgon? And why did you hang it in the first place then? I asked.

I'm Italian
, he replied and shrugged as if that explained everything. I like pretty things.
I see, I said (but I really didn't). Why can't you hang your wife then? Isn't she pretty too?

The answer to that question I never got. But he was swiping away at tears of laughter as my water came followed by some cookies on a platter and a teacup with a teapot on a silver tray. I felt gypped.

Have you read any Greek mythology? he asked.
Ever the calculating little thing I was, I answered that not yet but that I was sure I would someday. Even that young, I knew enough to always present myself as the budding possibility rather than a dead ending street.

Well, a Gorgon is... and he paused - a Gorgon is a female who turns your head to stone if you look at her directly in the eyes.

Out loud I said, wow! what a nifty trick!

Still smiling at me he curiously replied: Yes, and I do believe that you too will learn to master it.


No sunlight today

Almost on a daily basis, I check out a blog by an English lady who lives in the Piemonte region of Italy. How precisely I found Louise is a memory lost to the split second of a mouse click much like so many other fleeting introductions I've made in this screen-linked life. However, unlike many other forgettable pleased to meet yous, her words and descriptions of Italian living made an impression on me and that, is why I regularly visit her in the virtual manifestation of the home she calls an 'ancient pile of granite overlooking Lago Maggiore'.

Charmingly, she always begins her posts with an update of the day's weather and more than anything else with which she regales her readers of her day to day, this meteorological knowing of her particular geography, places me instantaneously within the same space that affords her a View from Carmine Superiore.

So today, when the weather here in Houston is of the kind that induces a dismal sort of melancholy, I wonder if my telling you that at 7:45 am we are at 58 degrees, that if my saying that it is raining, and that the formerly sunlit dappled leaves of my garden now look miserably soggy in this drizzly rain I wonder, whether this description works for you the kind of location Shazzam that Louise's forecasts do for me. No? I sorta guessed this would be the case. After all, rainy days in Texas cannot possibly hold the imagery-laden romance that a deluge in Carmine would. This is an inevitable truth.

Anyway, moving on, I had a simply miserable night. My little boy is not feeling well and stuffed up noses do not make for his restful sleep. The state of my early morning zombie-ness has everything to do with lack of sleep. The day feels burdensome already for that very reason.

Ever since I was a child, the color of the sky and the ability to experience sunlight has influenced my moods. I've always understood how people living in the sun deprived winters of northern countries could become depressed from having to chip away at their memory stash of a patch of blue sky or the warmth of a golden sun.

I remember reading a story in National Geographic once that showed a group of little Russian children who looked as white as sheet. They were sitting in some sort of yurt, naked but for their underwear in front a large blue lit lamp. This was their sun, their vitamin D happiness, their doomed-to-fail attempt at a tan, their heat and their health all rolled into one. I felt so sad for them just looking at those pictures. I wondered what would have happened to me had I been born to a mother in some light-forsaken country, having to dig up my daily dose of cheer from within the spectral blue of an electric lamp. I'd surely be miserable. As miserable as, for all the obvious and some not so obvious reasons, I feel this morning.

Do me a favor and wish me a nap and some rest. Wish my son's stuffy nose to clear up and his crankiness to morph into his more usually sunny disposition. I cannot muster much enthusiasm to do this for myself this gray morning, and I can only hope that tomorrow will not dawn like my today.

4:30 pm
Update: I'm having a little glass of port and I'm on my second Newman's Own chocolate cream cookie. The sun has rallied forth in full blown glory and now my son and I are out in the yard enjoying a lazy afternoon. Things are looking up. I never doubted they would.


These habits of mine

I was just thinking about how my daily quirks rule me. I am mostly a creature of habit too. I am repetitive in the things I do because I find comfort in the repetition. I suspect everyone does the same to their own varying degrees. This Leaping Thought Wednesday is built out of my laundry list of quirks and habits.

1. I'm a food mixer. On my plate everything touches and I do not put a spoonful of anything into my mouth that does not at least contain a little bit of everything that I've served myself. This comes from my Latin American rice and beans mentality. Beans do not taste the same unless the rice is mixed in there. The taste of one enhances the other.

2. I cannot go a month without buying a new one of these small moleskin reporter notebooks to write in because I love how sturdy they are as well as the rubber band that helps me to keep loose notes and cards trapped inside. Over the years since I discovered them, I've unwittingly chronicled so much of what goes on with me on a daily basis into their pages that they almost read like a shorthand of my day to days.

3. If in the nut section of any grocery store, I always steal one whole almond without any feeling of guilt. Taking two however, is a different matter. Pilfering a second one makes me feel like a thief. Go figure the twisted mentality behind that particular rationale.

4. In the old days, I would never leave my house unless I was dressed to the nines. Since having my son, that attitude towards impeccability has changed considerably. I'm more relaxed about what I put on now. Jeans, an item of clothing which I hardly ever wore before (I know, it's bizarre), have become the survival staple of my closet. I own dozens of pairs whereas before, I had but two. One thing I still continue doing though is never to step out my door without some lipstick on. Somehow, a glossy color on my lips has become my condensed version of dressing to the nines. If I've got my lipstick on then I'm good to go.

5. Once I wake up, I rarely linger longer than five minutes in bed. My bed is a place for catching up with my zzzsss. Not a place for laying about. For that same reason, I am not a napping kind of person either. Every once in a while, if terribly tired, I might fall asleep during the day but otherwise, I only sleep at nighttime.

6. I'm fanatical about having clean hands. It is my Lady Macbeth complex. I wash and clean my hands so much that to prevent drying them out, I keep tubes of my favorite hand cream stashed all over the house. That way, I never have to go very far to moisturize. Otherwise, my hands might feel like sandpaper.

7. I take forever to return books to the library. That's because I cannot bear to let them go so, in order to delay the eventual parting, I renew and renew on-line until my renew button goes gray. That's a sign that the library troll has had his fill of letting me keep my newfound friends. I would like you to know that I do feel some measure of guilt for depriving others of what I am enjoying for longer than I should but, to be truthful, giving back books that do not belong to me, is something I do simply out of fear of getting into trouble. Were there no repercussions, I'd guess I'd be a book thief, a cookie monster of books.

8. Every morning, before my husband gets into his car and leaves for work, we repeat a daily mantra. It has no great length really, just a phrase I say and something M repeats back to me. I'm utterly convinced it keeps him safe and worry when for some reason we go without it. M plays along but he doesn't believe in it at all.

9. I dislike air turbulence. When in flight and the plane motion gets bad, I close my eyes and play a little word game my husband taught me to help take my mind off of the movements. In my head I juxtapose the letters in the names of states to deliberately mess them up. It goes something like this:

Massachusetts becomes Tamassuchetts
Vermont becomes Termonv
North Carolina becomes Corth Narolina

Most of the times I become so frightened that the names never end up the same but it doesn't matter, just having to concentrate on playing the mix up game gets me through the rough spots.

10. I read through several on-line newspapers every single morning. I always start with the BBC, then move on to the Telegraph and from there I progress to the LATimes and finally, to the Washington Post. The only paper newspaper that I peruse on a daily basis is my Wall Street Journal issue but usually, I read it sometime towards the end of my day. The journal is my closure paper not my starter one.

11. Speaking of closings, I will leave you now with an image of the green leaves and blue skies of Houston. It is lovely here today. A true springtime is what we are having. I'm aiming to enjoy every bit of it before the heat slams in and the humidity creeps back. From this Leaping Thought Wednesday to the next and in whatever little corner of the world you find yourself living in, may this same loveliness reign gracefully over your heads.


What do you think?

My son has a passion for string, for thread, for dental floss and for just about anything that can be stretched out and wound around in a trip-me-up fashion. One time, I came into my formal living room to discover that he had taken a carousel of thread and painstakingly gone around every single leg chair, sofa and table appendage in sight. He'd not stopped at one single circuit mind you, but done the whole carousel length's worth of the thread. It was a masterpiece of a web. How he managed to get it so intricate considering that he had to find his own way around in order to continue building, I do not know. Afterwards, he was thoughtful enough to bring me over and show me proudly what he'd accomplished.

That night, I waited until he'd fallen asleep to snip, snip and snip it all away. Though I couldn't bear to expose him to my destruction of his creation, that little episode taught me a valuable lesson: No more thread within his grubby-handed reach. Nevertheless he's quite a resourceful, not to mention observant, little boy. For instance, he noticed I would tie up the legs of whole chickens with cooking twine before putting them into the oven. When next I went to look for the twine, it was gone. At that time, I didn't put two and two together and just assumed I'd misplaced it in my drawers. But a few days after the spool went missing, R struck. On this occasion, I discovered a complicated construct around the toys in his bedroom. It was another spidery beauty with the unfortunate side effect of ruining my cooking twine. As I write, I'm mentally groaning at the nuisance his threading fascination poses for me, since I'm the one who ends up with the unenviable job of unraveling it all. I can imagine how you'll take this as a confirmation of how deficient I must be at child-like play.

Now having caught on to the dearth of string which afflicts our home, he is getting even more creative. The other day he knotted two bathrobe ties together and made a pull to shut his bedroom door. I found out about it after I heard the door close for what seemed like the fifteenth hundred time. There he was, opening and pulling it shut ceaselessly and without tiring. I wonder what he got out of that experiment. Hopefully more than just my earful of door closings. Here are some photos to show you what he did just last week with a metal tape measure he found in yet another kitchen drawer. I was somewhat worried that he'd made that particular discovery because tape measures of this kind can cut with their sharp edges. He was fine though. Happy to show me this latest inventive effort. You think he might go into an engineering or bridge-building career? Perhaps something architecturally oriented? I'll let you tell me what you make of it all. Also, do you have any ideas about what kinds of toys I might purchase for him that do not involve beading nor bracelet making? I'm all ears for your advice.

Oh! Before I go, here are some photos of the flowers I bought this morning and the arrangement I made out of them. As you can see, I'm into building too. I thought it was charming. Not too stiff and just haphazard enough to fit the spirit of this gorgeous spring weather we are enjoying in Houston today . To those of you still under the mantle of winter, may it remind you of what is to come. In all cheerfulness, have a happy Saturday and a fabulous weekend. That wish goes double for Cce and Louise. Thinking of you guys. Milena.


On the nature of friendships

I'm one of those people who makes friends easily. I meet, I like, I befriend. That's me. I can honestly say that this has not always been the case because I was an awkward child for much of my early youth, and I was also the kind of kid who found it easier to connect with adults rather than those her own age. Growing up, I knowingly craved a consistency in my friendships that depended on the kind of steadiness that had everything to do with remaining in one place. Moving, I soon learned, invariably meant a threadlike unraveling of my few attachments. This is the reason why for the longest time, I felt inhibited in the degree to which I shared what I considered worthy of knowing about the inner me.

It really wasn't until adulthood however that I grew sufficiently into the kind of awareness that is basic to differentiating the stuff of mere acquaintances from the hallmarks of true friendships; or that I was capable of making the kind of commitment necessary to maintaining a connection with someone over the spans of time, distance and personal growth.

So far in my life, I've been exceptionally lucky in meeting a variety of people who have evidenced for my benefit those traits we all associate with the most meaningful of friendships. As time has gone by however, I find myself holding my older friends closer to the proverbial heart and investing less and less time in seeking new ones to bring into the fold. Since my arrival in Houston nearly five years ago, I've met many wonderful people but I've let few come to mean more to me beyond the confines of a category I refer to as in mutual like.

Somewhere along the way, I began to assume incorrectly that this was how it would be for me from now on and into my old age. That I would live on the sustaining diet of my old guard friendships with a less often and more sporadic spending of myself into newer associations.

To my surprise then, since I began blogging six months ago, I've completely debunked this expectation. I've experienced an exponential growth of comrades-in-blogging-arms. A plethora of worthies who have been, thanks to their intriguing, honest, entertaining, intelligent, thought-provoking and sometimes painful sharing of their lives, fast-tracking their way into my discerning heart. On-line, I've discovered a wealth of people whose sincerity in extending their hand in friendship to me would take so much longer to confirm in the face to face world. I guess that is because you all trustingly expose what is the very best of your inner selves in your writings. Because you give so much without asking in return.

To those of you whom I've also shared of myself with, I hope you can feel how I truly appreciate knowing you. How I try to take you in like measure and with careful consistency, to those normally private places that make me who I am. I want you to know that I keep visiting your blogs as much for the I can't wait to read what you wrote today factor as I do to satisfy the need of wanting to know how you are doing in your lives.

In this virtual world, I will construe such impulses as new hallmarks in this different path towards friendship forging; in this space which I normally reserve for my Leaping Thought Wednesdays, I take the opportunity to thank you for the pleasure I receive and the growth you instigate through the privilege of knowing you.

From this Leaping Thought Wednesday to the next, may all your days be made fuller by those you call your friends.


What toddler pleasures are made of

Photo by greenchangetrade

My bottom was couched by tree bark as I sat on the grounds of the play area in my son's school. Every Monday, as we take leave of his teachers, we walk by the children sliding and swinging away with the untamed enthusiasm of cannibals readying for a juicy feast. Invariably, R always asks the same question: Mami parque? Mami park?

I'll tell you that all his mirror practice has really paid off. The kid has mastered the I'll die if you don't let me look so well, that he'd get a standing ovation anywhere for his tour de force performance. I'd have to be rock dense in my ability to feel in order to withstand his silent pleading. Only if it's raining do I ever put my foot down and say no. So today, it being sunny and warm, he runs off once again to join his pack and, since there are no benches close by, I trudge on over to my usual patch of bark.

Depending on the day and my mood, watching over my kid as he plays can be highly entertaining or downright exasperating. On a good day, I'm the mother whose child gives way to the smaller children, who beams approvingly at him for minding my words, who is not forced to apologize to another mother because her own child took so much of his sweet time going down the slide that my kid thought he'd hurry him up by pushing him in headfirst. That's a good day.

On a bad day, I find myself resenting the sand that gets into my shoes and eyes when no voiced enticement serves to make my son leave the sand box area without an all out wrestling match taking place between him and I. Or when, coasting on the adrenaline of physical exertion he is limber and agile enough to evade my octopus-like grabbing arms as I try to get him down from the slides. On days like those, I swear to myself never again to stop at the playground after school. I tell R as much as I strap him red-faced and sun overheated into his car seat but he is already gone in that little head of his. I can tell he has tuned me out like one turns off a switch. He lost this skirmish and that's OK by him. Mami will do what mami always does and next week, the face, the look, the longing in his little piping voice will all work their magic on me again. I'm no rock. You'll probably find me sitting again in my normal spot while my son runs off to enjoy what his toddler pleasures are made of.


Peeves, loves, dislikes and goodbyes

Finally, I get back into the rhythm of things. Here is a Leaping Thought Wednesday on a Wednesday, which is as it should be. Can't tell you how good it feels to sort of hand in the homework on time with this one.

1. I think the smell of bread baking is one of the most wonderful smells in the world. Add to that the smell of newly cut grass, the smell of dew in the early morning and the smell of my son's sun-warmed hair and, were it possible to make a bread, grass, de
w and sun warm perfume, I'm sure it would annihilate all competition in the fragrance market.

2. Have you ever read Patrick Süskind's novel The Perfume? A movie was made in 2006 based on this work. Not a bad adaptation but it never quite captured the baroque richness of the smells which his words conjured with orgiastic skill. I did not read the Perfume in its original German. My knowledge of this, Süskind's most well-known work, came via a fantastic Spanish translation and yet, I have always wondered what I miss when I read good books in their translated, rather than original selves. Was my Perfume version as pale and watered down as the movie's seemed to be? Unless I someday learn German, I will always wonder at what I lost in translation.

3. Speaking of perfumes, I always steer clear of the perfume counters at department stores. Fragrances with citrus-y notes make my skin burn and redden. I have never bought a perfume that I haven't tested extensively before making a purchase, for that very same reason. Wouldn't do at all to smell nice and look like I've developed a poison ivy rash.

4. I completely dislike the perfume advertisements that come in magazines. You know the ones where you open a flap to find a perfumed strip? Like the subscription postcards inserted between the pages (another pet peeve), I find myself ripping
them out the moment after I've made my magazine purchase. Even so, they manage to impregnate the paper to the degree that the whole magazine smells. If it is a perfume I dislike, I can't even enjoy my read. Picky aren't I?

5. Here is something I absolutely detest, despise and abhor: chewing gum stuck underneath restaurant tables. The annoyance factor on this one is in the brake the scale level for me. When we go out to eat, my kid manages to find each and ever
y chewed piece no matter what. He loves picking at them and I find this fascination of his so utterly disgusting that I can't even describe the magnitude of my "ick" factor. Why do people stick chewed gum to the underside of tables? Is it really THAT HARD to dispose of it in a more sanitary way?

6. Speaking of sanitary, I do not use public restrooms EVER unless I'm in extreme distress. In this, I'm like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz but with a slight
variation - no potty like home, no potty like home.

7. So my son has a new favorite book. It is called Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. I always feel such a relief when we find a fresh book to love. Even the pleasures of good children's books wear thin after much repetition. I'm so glad we've added another favorite to the roster

8. I return to Houston tomorrow. I've truly enjoyed my stay in DC but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to go back home. You heard it. Home is Houston for now and I want to get back there. Trips and holidays can be wonderful but eventually, the longing for the normalcy of living out of my regular closet and not a suitcase starts growing in me. I'm also one of those people who yearns for her regular bed. It takes me FOREVER to become accustomed to an unfamiliar mattress. I never sleep soundly when I'm not sleeping in my usual place.

9. I've promised sharing some of the blogs I also frequent but do not list on my blog roll. Last Leaping Thought Wednesday I told you about Heading East and today I'm going to tell you about another blog I love. It is called The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Her site epitomizes the kind of design layout and diversity of content (cooking, photography, personal journal even gardening!) that I wish my own blog had. As if she weren't already a Renaissance woman of the blog world, she is a really fantastic cook. I've tried a couple of her recipes and can personally vouch for them. You will find it hard to come upon a more visually detailed and step by step accounting of a recipe as those she features. Check it out and see what I mean.

10. The cutest thing has just happened. My son found a large conch shell in my mother-in-law's guest bathroom and bringing it to me he puts it up to my nose and says: mami, listen. So I try to bring it over to my ear in order to show him from which appendage one should be listening from, but he is so insistent that in order to humor him I listen through my nose. Peals of laughter were the rewards for my effort. Mami, no no! li
sten here and now he points to his ear. I've been had. The kid's a jokester.

11. I can't tell a joke to save my life. I ruin everything - The timing, the words, the tempo. It is simply mortifying when people start those great rounds of joke telling that make me so want to join in, but I know I musn't. The point is to tell the joke not be the joke right? I will forever be a joke-telling wall flower. I so wish I wasn't.

12. Here is a quote by Joanne Woodward I once read and kept, much like Jennifer Harvey from Thursday Drive keeps her own list of great quotation
s. I was reminded of her words because of my previous points on joking and laughter. Since we all know that she has been married to the actor Paul Newman for forever and a day, this knowledge helps to put the quote in better context.

"Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah... now that's a real treat."

Tell me her words aren't true?

13. I'm staring out the window at a beautiful cherry blossom tree in full bloom. In two or three days, all the petals will have fallen off and the branches left bereft of their spring splendor. I'm glad I'll be gone from here before I see that happening. While beautiful, the falling showers of pale pink petals have always made me sad.

14. I hate being scared. Fright is an awful sensation. That is the reason why I never watch terror, horror, slasher or creature movies. Even in mildly scary movies, I have to close my eyes and scrunch my legs up against my body. I truly cannot understand what people find so delightful about being scared out of their wits. If it were up to me, I would do away with the genre completely. Here's a short and fun game that can help you determine if you think like me in this respect. I'd love to know how you fared.

15. As this is my last post from DC before I return home, I bid you all a capital afternoon. So long for now and from this Leaping Thought Wednesday to the next, may all your days be cherry blossom perfect.

Photo by Kkinjo