Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear Ant

... and following colony. I apologize for the behavior of my youngest daughter, recently moved to the table at meal time to a little chair that allows her to drop a significant portion of her food to the floor. And I apologize for not always getting it swept up in time. I apologize that the food is placed so close to the back door.

But you have been mislead, I'm afraid, by our actions. This house is not an ant paradise, nor is it a safe haven. In fact, it is just the opposite. IT IS A DEADLY TRAP!!! DO NOT ENTER, FOR IF YOU DO, YOU WILL DIE!!!! Or at the very least you will find yourself making new tunnels inside my vacuum cleaner bag. One that will find it's way to the garbage can and then to the landfill very shortly.

Please, please understand, I try to hold all creatures large and small in, if not high regard, then at least something akin to it. But when you insist on venturing past the walls of our home and into the kitchen, bringing hundreds of your friends and family along, multiple times...well, it's time for me to put a foot down. Or more appropriately, the vacuum.

Don't make me get out the bug spray. Consider this an adequate warning.


It's the week for guesting, I guess! I'm still over at Design Mom and I have another guest at Just an Orange today!

My friend, Lindsey from Cafe Johnsonia, knows how to tell a good story. She writes well. Also. She's brilliant in the kitchen. Last year she made my birthday cake. It was a lovely golden layer cake with lots of chocolate frosting in, on, and all around the cake. Yum.

You will completely enjoy reading her delicious words about her own creative discovery. Thanks, Lindsey.

picture via Cafe Johnsonia...

Motherhood Magnified

There are days when you Know you are a Mother. You know what I mean. Some days your children sort of swirl around you, asking for a few things while you carry on the Duties of the House and whatnot. You float down the river of life, uneventfully, with everyone seeming to be happy, healthy and good. Mishaps happen, and everyone gets over them. But then there are Those Days.

You know what I mean. The days where your children all want to sit on your lap simultaneously and cry about unmet needs. They cling to you, crying broken heartedly, because you had the nerve to try and dress them in something other than pajamas.

This morning it's my two youngest, a mere fourteen months apart; both whom have hit a cling-to-mom stage at the same time. I finally untangle myself gently to go and fill up my two year-old's sippy cup leaving two crying children in my wake.

I walk into the kitchen just in time to see one of those spiders, the born sprinters, tearing it's way across the floor. Fortunately for me, the biological response that has evolved over thousands of years has taught this kind of spider to stop! and stay... very... still... when danger appears to have approached. Not so fortunate for him.

I grabbed the broom and came down with a whack. Sorry, spider. But today I am a Mother. And I don't let spiders in the house to play with my children, especially when they all want to sit on my lap crying in the middle of the floor which you seem intent on traversing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

boggle: a metaphor for my life

I come from a family of gamers, in the original sense. Yahtzee, Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Uno, Rook. And many others. People come to family reunions with their own set of cards in their pocket, ready for a game of Nerts (spelling?) or whatever happens to be in vogue. I have a notebook with the Scrabble scores of almost every game Ben and I have played in our entire married life. Good fun.

My kids are fascinated by games as well. My oldest has really taken to Yahtzee. But a lot of times, my children simply like to pull out all of our games, regardless of age-level, and spread them out all over the house. I have come to harbor a sincere dislike of the game Cranium because it's such a pain to clean-up the aftermath (colored cards e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e).

So the other day I walked into one of the bedrooms to find three children jumping on a bed. The only reason all four of them weren't there is that the baby isn't walking yet, so jumping is out of the question for the time being. But I digress. They weren't just jumping on the bed, they were jumping with all of the letter dice from our Boggle game. Letters were flying up and around everywhere. It was at that moment I made a mistake. I did not stop them.

Now, from a parenting point of view, I have to give myself points for a) not over-reacting, b) not placing dice above my children, and c) not ruining their fun, as I am wont to do from time to time.

But I am paying for it. My Boggle game has been incomplete for awhile now. And I haven't been able to play. Slowly the dice are showing up and I have almost a full tray. As I deposited three more lettered cubes on my desk this morning it occurred to me that little tray filled with letters could be my brain.

Here's the trick -- Even when I do have ALL the letters at my disposal, at any given day, I just come up with consonants and vowels that refuse to connect together.

The upside? Every day I get a new a shake.

P.S. Wanna play? Get out your timer. I'll list my words below...

I'm sure Ben would kick my trash. Nothing really spectacular, but here we go:

gel (s)
delish (...I know, but it's fun anyway)

Busy, busy

For the year of 2000 I had a Winnie-the-Pooh calendar, replete with E.H. Shepherd's classic illustrations. It came with stickers that had little notes on them, and you could put them on specific dates to indicate Important Things and such. One of my favorites was Piglet rushing somewhere (to Eyeore's birthday party, actually) with a large (for Piglet) balloon in his hands. It was officially labeled as A Busy Day.

I am officially labeling this week A Busy Week. Never mind that Piglet falls on the balloon and pops it in the story. Because it all works out in the end, and that's what I'm hoping for.

So far on the list are a major grocery shopping stint on the horizon, a new dance class, a doctor's appointment, and replacing a beloved lost bouncy ball. Ben is starting his Spring term this week, and while I can't confirm it yet, I suspect that the only people who are busier than the students during this intense time of study, are the teachers. Fortunately there isn't much laundry at the moment.

The exciting part of the busy for me is that I a guest mom at Design Mom this week! Which should be really fun. Not only that, but at Just an Orange, I'm posting an essay on Tuesday that Lindsey of Cafe Johnsonia wrote about the culinary arts, so you'll be sure to check that out.

I think I have some good stuff to tell here, hopefully my brain with not burn out with all the blogging I've decided to attempt. More likely the kids will notice I'm attached to the computer even more than usually, but I think we'll all survive that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

still life on a friday afternoon

Almost 12:15 p.m. on a Friday.

Dried yellow roses...

and an Unfinished Painting w/Easel on the counter -

crayons a plenty...

and a basketball hoop available,

as well as an Eiffel Tower collection, none of them the real thing.

And a trumpet on the desk, leaning against the wall.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Attention, all you who live at, in, on or near NYC

My sis (one of them) is getting married in July and moving to the Big Apple, so she and her fiance are looking for an apartment. I am jealous.

They are interested in Manhattan and Brooklyn, of course. He'll work on the island so the closer the better depending on the price. They'll check out southern Westchester, preferably in the Eastchester area as well, but I think they're trying to avoid bringing a car.

If you know of anything available, have any advice or have anyone they could contact that would be wonderful. You can send the info to me through bellsblog [at] yahoo.com.

Would you like to help, internets! Thanks!

wherefore hast thou gone, dear creativity?

In truth, I have stuff to write about. I was going to say that in truth, I have plenty of stuff to write about, but I'm not sure about the "plenty". In truth, I have a sty in my eye and it hurts and I'll be glad when it goes away.

I really do have thought provoking wisdoms somewhere in the brain, but I am also guest posting elsewhere next week, so that is taking a little bit of this week's blogging energy. That and the darn POLLEN.

I hate pollen. And I'm not sure if my allergy medication has kicked in, if it's effectiveness is zilch, and if I should switch to another little allergy pill. Hay fever. It makes you get all weepy over the advent of Spring.

But, hey. Today's title was a little fun, wasn't it?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

clever title about the nutcracker ballet

(My brain is a tad bit slow, can you tell by the quality of titles I have produced lately? Oh well, what can I say? I am tired. So there. And now, on to our featured program).

We're watching our DVD of the New York City Ballet Company's Nutcracker. I admit, it's a little out of season, but apparently there is snow in the forecast this week in some areas of Utah so, why not? I like the version for the most part, except for Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker Prince. Yeah.

He is (or was, I guess) a cute kid. But I like my Nutcracker Prince to be a tad older with some dancing capacity. I plan to purchase another Nutcracker version, may be next year, for some variety. But I digress. Though perhaps pooh-poohed by the elite at times, I have always enjoyed the score for the ballet; the lovely strains of dancing sweets, flowers and the like.

Now the children gather around the Christmas Tree. Heir Drosselmeyer distributes some gifts. "There is a soundtrack to this you know," my one daughter says the other. "And we have it."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

a snappy title that will make you WANT to read this

Our karaoke machine (yes we have a karaoke machine, not often used for such purpose, but someday, someday my friends) has a little button you can push that causes the music to step up or down a key. My kids recently discovered this, and they are fascinated. I have been listening to an Enchanted soundtrack either populated by chipmunks or trolls. My oldest thinks the lower voices are the funniest. I'm actually fond of the music the way it is, so when I can get away with it, I sneak in and press the button that makes everything sound normal again.

Today is "parent's visiting day" at my daughter's dance class. We get to come and watch the kids as they practice for their little performance on Saturday, for which we will have the privilege of paying $3 per person in order to attend said performance. Also, I must provide some sort of costume. And sew...(he, he)

...I went to the fabric store and bought some tulle, elastic, sequins, and ribbon and was almost completely overcome by the desire to purchase loads of fabric and begin sewing them into some fabulous creation right there! Never mind that I don't have a sewing machine. But someday, my friends, someday. Also, never mind that I am not really a seamstress. But one can learn, right?

But now I must go strap my baby into the swing that she is getting too big for, so that I can get ready for the parental-visit-to-the-dance-class in peace. I just think letting an 11 month old wander around the house while I am in the shower is a bad idea. The 2 and 4 year-olds? Well, they can do whatever. It sounds like they're experimenting with the different sounds one CD can make on the karaoke machine.

Monday, April 21, 2008

playing games at my house

"This time around let's make a new rule:
all the odd numbers are wild."

Friday, April 18, 2008

I knew it was there somewhere

I found the photograph I was looking for.
This is a little of what I have to say about it.


Once upon a time, Fridays were absolutely beautiful things to be celebrated unabashedly, by hanging out with friends or spending money on going out, or just curling up with a good book and the knowledge that the weekend was upon us. This is because, once upon a time, the weekend was a break from the daily grind and humdrum of life.

But no more. My kids don't sleep in, just because it's Saturday. They don't go and hide in their rooms just because it's Friday evening, nary making a peep. The house does not miraculously refrain from attracting clutter or dirty dishes. Dinner arrives at the table without preparation only if Ben or I have picked up a pizza or chinese take-out.

When I was on my mission in France, Fridays dissolved into the missionary work I was doing. The one thing that resembled a Friday night was the night before our Preparation Day, a day set aside for laundry and shopping and cleaning and site-seeing. In our mission we referred to it as Pagan's Eve. Not really appropriate in a pragmatic or semantic sense, but even missionaries need to add a little spice to their existence, and this was our mild way of doing that (snicker, snicker, we were so clever).

For 18 months I gave up those weekends for a higher purpose. I gave up those weekends and as well as numerous other things I enjoyed so that I could devote myself to sharing the Gospel of Christ with others. Was it always fun? No way. Was it worth it? Oh, yes.

Once again, my weekends are a bit more ambiguous. They are different to some extent, but the work doesn't end. Welcome to the life of a grown up. And in my case, welcome to motherhood, and the responsibilities of family life. Worth it? Yes. Always fun? Heee, hee, hee, heee, haa, ha, ha, ha, hee! No. Sometimes it's a bummer.

Still, it is Friday.

And still, Friday seems to hold, at least in theory, the idea of a reprieve from the norm. With that in mind, I wish you all a very happy Friday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

blah, blah, blah...

I'm looking for a picture. I know it's around here somewhere. I saw it not too long ago. At least I think it hasn't been too long. Sometimes last week was really last year, but what can you do about it?

Looking for this picture is what set off my cleaning escapade yesterday, alas, I got caught up in the cleaning and never did find the picture. I'd like to find it because I want to blog about it. It's a good picture.

The pollen count is high today. I don't like pollen. Unless it could somehow lead me to that photograph for which I have been searching far and wide. And it won't.

And so, now it's time for me to finish this random, babbling blog post. Do you think Thumper's mom might have said "if you can't blog something nice or interesting, don't blog anything at all"? This post probably wouldn't pass that criteria, would it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

allysha cleans house ~ a semi-live blogging event

Ah, yes.

The time: 8:43 a.m.

The task: Pretty much to clean the entire house and then some.

The expectation: At this point, I'm not sure. Waffling between high and low.

Things to take into consideration: All children are home and currently awake.

Starting with: Front Room

Ready? Yes. Clipboard in hand with monster list of tasks.

Wish me luck...To Be Continued

UPDATE: (8:55 a.m.) Baby bottle break. Front room picked up with help of oldest child who is avoiding cleaning her own room by helping me out. Whatever works. Dusting and vacuuming of front room next.

UPDATE: (9:06 a.m.) Baby down for nap. Vacuuming done for fr. room. A load of laundry going in washer and dryer. On to dusting! Hooray!

UPDATE: (9:24 a.m.) Dusting done. Room done. Whiny child out of bath. Water break. Up next: laundry pile...

UPDATE: (9:55 a.m.) Laundry pile sorted, folded, and mostly put away. Hallway picked up and vacuumed. Next up: very scary kids' bathroom.

UPDATE: (10:31 a.m.) Kids' bath done, for the most part. I'm out of paper towels, drat! So the mirror will have to wait. Children currently vanquishing dragons. I'm all for it.

UPDATE: (10:45 a.m.) More laundry. Also, cheddar n' sour cream potato chips are pretty gross, yet strangely addicting. Debating on what should come next - the bedroom or the kitchen...

UPDATE: (11:50 a.m.) Bed made. Vacuuming done during radio breaks: Doug Fabrezio is interviewing Terry Gross. When radio hosts interview radio hosts it's interesting. Most stuff picked up, just working in the random pile.

UPDATE: (12:25) Just finished ironing some of Ben's shirts, because I was feeling domestic. The kids' bedrooms and the main living areas (family room, kitchen) are left, but I think we'll have to wait for the afternoon second wind, if it comes.

This concludes our semi-live blogging event. Thank You for participating, or not. It may not have been interesting for you, but I got some work done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

life as art, art as life

I can say, in all honesty, I envy Julie. She is smart and lovely and has a degree (well, two) in Humanities. She has a knack for combining art and life in a very accessible way and I read her blog, Mental Tesserae, religiously. And often find some religious enlightenment, to go along with it.

A few years ago I took up painting. I needed a creative outlet--one that didn't require words since my mind was basically boycotting words and any memory of words etc., etc. If you're a mother, you may recognize that kind of mental burn-out. So anyway, I took up painting; not completely out of the blue. I had done some painting all growing up. My family tree is hung occasionally with portraits done in watercolor or oil pastels or something. My foray into acrylic paints and canvas was accompanied by a desire to delve deeper into a knowledge of art, and so I bought an old humanities text book, and another book on art that I started to read.

A few months after that we moved and I had a baby, and another baby and moved again. That entire excursion sort of wiped out my ability to either study or paint, but in the meantime I found out about blogging, and discovered Julie's blog (from the beginning, I might add), and was thrilled! My own personal online course! I still plan on getting through those art books, and my easel makes it out of the closet from time to time. But for now, Julie's writing about art informs me much better, and more elegantly than I could inform myself.

Julie is this week's guest at Just an Orange. Of course you'll want to check it out. It's wonderful.

Monday, April 14, 2008

the spring plans of the very young

Spring break starts... right... now! The bus should have just pulled out of the neighborhood. Instead a lot of kids are home. The teenagers are in their bed. The elementary age kids haven't caught on to that brilliant plan yet.

My girls are in the middle of planning a trip to Disneyland; one that, unfortunately, we won't be taking. Part of the problem is that Ben doesn't have spring break.

"We could just go without Dad, " my daughter says, "He would understand that."
"Or," she says, "go to the airport. I'm sure there is a plane there we could take!"

My oldest daughter joins in. "Yeah, Dad could stay home with the babies and then we could go." She reconsiders, maybe remembering who is the funner parent. "Or Dad could take us and you could stay home!"

"We could just droove there!" says the other one. (I am pretty sure she said droove. At least I hope so, because it sounded really funny.)

Someday, Disneyland, someday. We will save our pennies, nickles and dimes and come to your glistening gates. Don't be too proud about your position, however. My daughters requested France first. But we have to save our dollars for that one.

Happy (Surviving) Spring Break!

Friday, April 11, 2008

a rant

Just finished reading this, hopped on the internet to check out some news and somehow landed here.

I think I lack the word to express the utter disbelief and outrage at the disconnect between the classes here in our society. It's awful. And embarrassing. And shameful. And we should be doing more, and spending less on kitchens that are overbearingly proud at the ridiculous price spent on the paint that covers the walls ("
and at $125 for two-thirds of a gallon, one of the most expensive paints out there, Mr. Brooks claimed with pride"- The New York Times).

And while I think government has its part to play, this goes beyond Democrat and Republican. It has to do with the feelings of entitlement and casual disregard for other human beings. It has to do with those who "have" really not understanding the realities of those who "have not." It comes from plain, ugly greed, couched in the terms of self-reliance, and the desire to get so far ahead of everyone else that the "poor among us" are simply left out of sight.

I am not suggesting we all go out and live in cardboard boxes. Nor am I suggesting legislation that demands that the rich buy houses for the poor. (Although there's a thought!)

Ultimately this has to do with where an individual's heart is. I think our nation has some heart placement problems.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mr. Smith: junior high band teacher

In Junior High I played the flute in the band. Students were required to participate in the band, orchestra, or choir for a year in 7th grade to fulfill the music credit. For some reason I chose the flute. I don't remember why. And for another unremembered reason, I played through my entire junior high career.

Junior High teachers have a thankless job. And, sadly, are often a thankless lot. The kids they teach and supervise are old enough to think for themselves, thank you very much, (not that they think very clearly) and are pushing the age when adults are the grand barriers on the horizon to what the kids are attempting to become: adults themselves.

My band teachers were interesting to put it politely. I was relieved to make it past the one who I'm sure was a nice man but, to a 12 year-old who though she knew a little bit, resembled one of the bumbling seven dwarves more than an accomplished musician. My other teacher was Mr. Smith. He taught the more advanced classes, including an after-school band I participated in.

Mr. Smith had a temper. It was legendary and whispered about in giddy and ecstatic tones by those of us who had grown up in a fairly mild-mannered community abounding with mild-mannered guardians. He once threw a tuba across the band room. And. He drank coffee.

I know, coffee hardly seems anything to get excited about, but this was in Orem, Utah, home of many Mormons, and Mormons don't drink coffee. Junior High is the age where the realization begins to bud oh-so-slowly: there are people who may be unlike you, and as scary as that is, they may be nice anyway. So we accepted the smell of fresh coffee brewing in his office in the mornings for what it was: proof that a philistine or a rebel was living among us and that he was our band teacher.

Looking back, I realize that Mr. Smith was probably, in part, a frustrated artist. A man stuck teaching unappreciative children and dealing with their unappreciative parents. But he loved music. Or why would he be there at all?

He could play all of the instruments. And not only that, he could arrange music. He brought his own arrangement of a song from a movie soundtrack with parts for everyone. It may have even been Star Wars. The Thrill! We loved it. And we completely failed to appreciate what kind of time and energy he would have spent in writing that out for us to play.

The after-school band he ran participated in a competition against other bands, most of them high school level. While we couldn't technically compete we could be judged, and we got the highest marks. It was an experience with this band that I wrote about this week for Just an Orange.

Mr. Smith did have a temper. Along with the tuba, he threw a clipboard across the room and probably other things I don't remember. He stormed through the doors when the kids in his class were being rude and insolent. He left us speechless at times. But he did more than that. He really gave of himself, and he gave us an experience with music that has stayed with me. He left my junior high music department not long after I went on to high school. I hope he found a job somewhere that let him accomplish what he wanted; that let him be more than a frustrated musician in an unfamiliar world. I hope somewhere he was able to settle in to being an un-frustrated musician in a world that appreciated him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

a tiny violin playing just for you

Have you ever wished for a soundtrack for your life? What pieces of music would be on it? I have to say, the desire for the more dramatic moments of my life to be accompanied by the appropriate music has lessened as I find myself further away from the drama of teenagerdom and young adulthood. Something about getting into life settles you down a bit, I guess. That said, I do have a soundtrack of sorts.

It wasn't consciously created and it has evolved over time. Some pieces of music have managed to transcend specific events of my existence. Others, however, are deeply and firmly rooted at a certain spot in my time line. Whenever I hear them played, I find myself back in a specific place, time, and emotion. Music, as you know, is a powerful thing.

~ Put on the soundtrack to Fried Green Tomatoes and I find myself driving up the canyon to USU to visit friends. It's my freshman year of college. I am feeling melancholy, which I think is a requisite emotion when you are eighteen.

~ You've Lost That Loving Feeling by the Righteous Brothers brings to mind a summer night on a friend's front lawn and an impromptu dance. I'm not sure if I danced with the guy I liked at the time or not. But it was a good time.

~ Sting's I Hung My Head from his album Mercury Falling. Summer again. Riding in a friend's jeep. He's in love with my best friend for the umpteenth time in our lives. I am happily the third-wheel.

~ David Gray's first album, White Ladders. I listen to it during my first trimester of my first pregnancy. I cannot, CANNOT, listen to any of those songs anymore. Every time I do, I feel nauseated with morning sickness. No joke.

Pieces of music that I love and transcend events, to name just a small few, are:

Mozart ~ Symphony No. 40 in G Minor

Sting ~ Fields of Gold and Ghost Story

Ralph Vaughn Williams ~ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

Vivaldi ~ The Four Seasons

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

navigating the language

One of the hilarious things about having children is how they perceive language. I've been getting a kick out of either the mis-pronunciation or alternate understanding of words floating around our house. Here are a few that make me chuckle:

waterpoof: waterproof (Mom, is this toy waterpoof? Can't you just see it. You put a toy in the water and poof! it does something. I'm envisioning feathers.)

bald: naked (The baby is bald, hee, hee!)

glow-up: glow-in-the-dark (but there may be explosions involved? Where is my glow-up cabbage patch doll? or can I get some glow-up shoes this time?)

What are some funny phrases your kids use?

Oh yes, I just remembered. Toad truck: you know, the kind of truck that toads cars.

head on over!

Lei, of My Many Colored Days, has kindly consented to write about her experience with music for Just an Orange. It's lovely, and you won't want to miss reading it!

Monday, April 7, 2008


I have a cheerful child with a slight temperature who will be staying home from school.
I have a whiny child who I wish had a slight temperature so I could send her to bed.
I have a baby with a cold.

My son seems to be the only one without a malady of some sort, though he just turned two and so his reactions throughout the day are not expected to be measured.

I, myself, and a little tired (par for the course of motherhood). I have a to-do list to focus on. I shall not be derailed! Do you hear me, forces of the universe! Yeah. Well. It's not a very long list. And at the moment I have no plans to add to it.

No. 1 on my list: administer the Children's Tylenol. And off I go.....!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

tax time is now a retail holiday

I've seen several adds lately from many different stores offering to take that burdensome tax refund off my hands. So sweet and considerate. Many of these proprietors of these businesses are willing to give me a discount on their services and products as well. So thoughtful. A Tax Time Special Offer! is how Disney put it. Just like them, isn't it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

an entertaining aside

I already posted this on Just an Orange, but it's so funny. Well, I think it's funny.

And so, dear readers, if you have ever wondered which punctuation mark you are most like, this quiz is for you...

no surprises here

I thought about calling Ben, who was working late last night, to pull some last minute April Fool's joke on him. But I couldn't think of anything that would really be funny. I had things I could have "fooled" with, but in the end it would have just been more annoying than hilarious. So I didn't. And there-in lies the wisdom of the day: if you know you can't hit the note, it may be best not to try. While this philosophy can be applied, and mis-applied, to a great many things, today's focus is humor ~ it's best not to over-reach.

Happy April. Also, it's National Poetry Month!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

meeting live & in person

Kathryn, her kids, and her niece were over for dinner last night. It was delightfully fun. The kids ran around screaming happily (most of the time) with, at and about each other. And the adults talked. Ben and Kathryn caught up and chatted about the good ol' days when they studied film together, and Kathryn and I talked about whatever could tumble out of our mouths fast enough to be part of the conversation.

When we were at school we saw each other on occasion when I was dating Ben and she was working on a project with him. We never hung out or anything though. But we are fast friends. We never suffered from that semi-awkward getting-to-know-you stage, which can happen when most of your communication is internet based.

Blogging will do that to you. As will having kids that are around the same age. Also, we were both English majors. And last, but certainly not least, The West Wing. We are both almost-fanatics. I say "almost" because we know there are people out there who are way more obsessed in interesting ways. People who write their own episodes and short stories and novels, and probably haiku poems about Josh and Donna, and we are not there. And, thank goodness, probably never will be. But we could bond about the idea of writing in a West Wing candidate on this November's ballot. We won't of course. We are much more sensible and responsible than that. But it's fun to joke about.