Girl Scout Camp Again

I have dropped Elizabeth off for a week of Girl Scout camp, and I am feeling anxious and bereft. But, happily, not even HALF as anxious and bereft as last year, when it was the first time she’d ever gone to sleep-away camp and also the drop-off went so terribly I ended up feeling like I’d left her with people who wouldn’t even remember to feed her or make sure she didn’t wander off into the woods (and afterward learned of even more issues).

SO much better this year, though. For one thing, even though the drop-off was still poorly organized and non-intuitive, I’d DONE it before so I knew what to expect and didn’t have to figure it all out this time. My first time doing new things, I’m at a stress-level of 11, defined as “Assuming I will die on the trip and so before I leave should make sure everyone has enough clean clothes for the funeral”; the second time, I drop down to about a 4-5.

And because this year we didn’t sign up for the very first week of camp, there were far fewer mishaps and confusions on the camp’s end, too. The only one that annoyed me is that they said I needed a prescription for the Benadryl she’s supposed to take if she has an allergic reaction to tree nuts. Since I had to fill out all those health/medication forms with a deadline back in May, I think “at the moment of drop-off” is unreasonably late for the “You need a prescription for an over-the-counter medication used for emergencies” information. Anyway, I was annoyed but it’s not a huge deal, especially because I was JUST complaining about not finding online doctor sites useful yet, and then last night was able to use the site to request the doctor fax the camp the prescription, so that was happy (assuming it WORKS).

Also, it helps HUGELY that THIS year I know that LAST year she was happy and everything went fine as far as she was concerned. The things I was MOST anxious about (that all her stuff might have gotten soaking wet; that she would be sad and scared and hate it and have a terrible time) didn’t happen: when I picked her up, she didn’t entirely want to come with me. So I’m still doing things like monitoring the weather in her zip code and feeling sad when I realize she’s not sleeping in her room, but I’m not feeling like I made a terrible mistake to let her go and that I need to drink and cry every night. Progress!

Also, on the way home, the person in front of me paid the toll for me. I think that person would be enormously gratified if they could have seen me choking up about it intermittently all the way home. I mean, that’s like the FANTASY for pay-it-forwardy randomy-acts-of kindness: that it will be done for someone who is having kind of a rough day, who will then be Deeply Affected by that small kindness.

Things I Have to Keep, Even Though I Don’t Want Them, Because Otherwise I Will Keep Buying Them

I wanted to make a whole multi-exampled post about this topic, but I can only think of one example. I know I’ve thought of OTHER examples while thinking about this topic before, but right NOW is when I want to write about it and I can only think of one. The topic is: Things I Have to Keep, Even Though I Don’t Want Them, Because Otherwise I Will Keep Buying Them.

And my example is headbands. I think of myself as liking headbands. Whenever I have a new hairstyle and I’m looking for ways to wear it, I think of headbands. But I don’t look good in headbands. It is some combination of my glasses and my face shape and perhaps my type of hair and my personality. All I have to do is put a headband on to remember this VIVIDLY.

I am not the only one to think so, either. When I worked at the pharmacy, I had a day I couldn’t get my hair to do anything so I put a headband in it. A co-worker (not a mean one) blurted out a laughing “Oh my god, you look like a politician’s wife!” So you see.

Several times I have, in a fit of “Don’t waste space storing things you don’t even want,” thrown out all my headbands. Which means that I can absolutely throw some money right out with them, because I WILL buy more headbands later, forgetting I don’t like the way I look in them. I’ll REMEMBER throwing out the headbands, but I’ll think, “Well, perhaps THAT haircut didn’t work with them, but I’ll bet THIS one would be adorable!” or “Well, perhaps I was just a bit down on myself that day and didn’t realize I actually looked cute in them.” I will buy more headbands, and lower the first one onto my hair, and oh dear.

So, even though it is silly to keep something I don’t like and never use, it is WELL WORTH IT to do so in the case of headbands: I need a headband (in fact, TWO headbands) to keep me from buying headbands. (Also, very rarely they come in handy if I want to do a face mask or something.)

I wish I could think of more examples of this, because I KNOW I have more items that I keep only so I won’t keep buying them. Perhaps after I post this, more will occur to me—or perhaps you will have similar things to report and those will jog my memory.

Dramatic Improvement

Things have improved pretty dramatically around here since yesterday. First, I got my dentist appointment done. It turns out that just about everything looks better AFTER a dentist appointment, even if that dentist appointment includes “Listen, we really need to think about getting those crowns put in.”

Second, Paul was taking a day off this week anyway, so he switched that day with the day I had to take all five kids with me to the city, so now I only have to take one kid with me to the city.

Third, Paul and I started going over the inch-thick stack of will/trust drafts from the lawyer. I forgot to mention that yesterday, but it’s been another thing causing me stress: we’ve GOT to go through those papers, but for many reasons (the emotional impact of reading paragraphs about what happens if any of our children predecease us; the pure difficulty of understanding the language of any of it) it’s hard to do so. Paul printed everything out and stapled it by sections, and then cut up the lawyer’s explanatory email and put each piece of email with its appropriate section, so we could easily tackle it in smaller chunks. This made an enormous difference, and we took care of the first section last night.

Fourth, I did some laundry at my parents’ house. It’s funny how even doing two loads can bring things from THIS IS A CRISIS OF UNIMAGINABLE RESOLUTION down to Perhaps This Is Just a Regular Inconvenience Soon To Be Resolved.

Fifth, William and Elizabeth made chocolate-chip cookies, so there were cookies.

Sixth, I had a gin-and-orange-juice while making dinner. I think I will have a drink before dinner EVERY night this week.

Charting the Crummy Mood

I am having a crummy couple of days, and because it is a very specific and familiar type of crummy, characterized by very specific and familiar crummy feelings, I’ve started making little marks on my desk calendar whenever this mood appears, to see if I can find anything shall we say CYCLICAL about it. Characteristic feelings of this type of mood include:

1. Everything Is Terrible.

2. Yes, I remember feeling at one point that NOT everything was terrible, but that was because I was deluded/distracted/overcomfortable. “Everything Is Terrible” is really the only TRUE way to view the world.

3. I am a bad person in both of two conflicting ways. For example, I am too hard on the kids AND too easy on them. Also, I think too much and not enough about other people. Also, I am an over-spender and a tightwad.

4. Everything I think of as a good part of my character is actually the mask over a bad part: i.e., I donate money to charity because I like to think of myself as a generous person when actually I’m a selfish one. I return stray carts to the corral because I like to feel superior to other people, not because I’m trying to be considerate and helpful.

5. Every Decision I Make Is Wrong.


But so far, the calendar isn’t showing any hormonal patterns. What I see instead is stress patterns: this week I have a dentist appointment and they always make alarming remarks about my gums, and William has an orthodontist appointment and they always speak firmly to me about how he should be improving, and I have to get Elizabeth ready for a week of sleep-away Girl Scout camp, and Rob is having his first lesson on a new instrument with a teacher who is coming to our house, and I have to take all five kids with me on the already-stressful trip to the nearby big city for Edward to get his Crohn’s check-up. Also included are several stressful scheduling issues: we’ll get back from one thing and have about fifteen minutes for lunch and leaving for the next thing; or I’ll be at my appointment when a child needs to be delivered somewhere, so I’ll have to drop him off there half an hour early; or, in the case of the city trip, I have NO IDEA if we’ll get back in time for a scheduled afternoon activity.

Also, our washing machine broke, and it was supposed to take two weeks for the replacement to arrive, but now it’s going to be three. So we’re very very very lucky to live in a time and place where washing machines are readily available, and very very very lucky that when ours broke we could pay for a new one—but laundry was already backed up a week when the machine broke (it had been acting wonky so I was doing only the most crucial things), and now instead of being one week into a two-week wait, I’m one week into a THREE-week wait. Other people get along without washing machines ALL THE TIME and ALL OVER THE WORLD—but they have established systems for doing so. Establishing a system is one of my least favorite things.

Somewherrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre Ouuuuuut There; Selfies Taken by Other People

I realized tonight that many of the people who are going to grow up to be significant in my kids’ adult lives (romantic partners, the other parents of their children, etc.) may already be born! And living their lives! Out there, totally unknown to us, and us totally unknown to them! NONE OF US HAVE ANY IDEA!


I mentioned this on Twitter the other day and it got a satisfying reaction, but I am still agitating about it so I’ll mention it here too. I do believe that language has to be allowed to change to fit the needs of those using it (since it’s going to do so whether we allow it or not), but here is something that CROSSES THE LINE: the term “selfie” used to describe a photo that one did not take of oneself. I AM SEEING IT USED. This is like referring to any biography as an autobiography. It’s like referring to any homicide as a suicide. It’s like saying someone is self-appointed, when it was someone else who appointed them. Most parallelly, it’s like having an artist paint your picture and then referring to the painting as a self-portrait. There is a SPECIFIC REASON the culture came up with a word as silly as “selfie” instead of sticking to the word “photo.”

Family Journal

Rbelle writes:

I’m wondering if you would be willing to do a post about your family journal and how it works – i.e., what types of things you put in it, how often you update it, how long do you spend? I’m feeling terrible that I have so little record of my oldest’s life so far (she’s almost four), but I gave up keeping a journal for myself when I realized it was all FEELINGS and no one but me would care about my FEELINGS years from now, but I didn’t want my FEELINGS ending up in a landfill for the hyper-evolved rats to read, either. On the flip side, my mom keeps a diary of every day that is literally just “we did x, went y, and ate z,” and that just seems tedious and time-consuming. I’m looking for a middle ground, and a “family journal” sounds very intriguing.


The journal system I use is one that happened after I tried a bunch of other ways (3-ring binder, small diaries with lined pages, regular notebooks, baby books) and didn’t like them and/or liked them for awhile but then didn’t want to do it that way anymore. I use Canson 9×12 recycled field sketch books: cardboard-bound spiral books of unlined paper, which I found in a stationery store back where I used to live; when I moved, I couldn’t find them ANYWHERE and my friend Surely went to the stationery store for me, placed a huge order for me, and then boxed them all up and shipped them to me. I’m still taking journals from that supply, well over a decade later. They were something like $10 each when I bought them; I see Amazon is selling them for $25 now. I can’t picture paying $25, so when I run out of my stash I’ll have to see what’s available. (Or I see I can get them here for $13.40 each if I buy in sets of six, so that’s probably what I’ll do; that seems like a reasonable price increase after fifteen years.)

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When I finish a journal, I write the date and age range on the front cover in black permanent marker; for example:

April 12, 2008 – July 16, 2009

Robert: 9 years 3 months – 10 years 6 months
William: 7 years 0 months – 8 years 4 months
Elizabeth and Edward: 2 years 10 months – 4 years 1 month
Henry: 10 months – 2 years 1 month


I’d say I needed three main concepts in order to make this system work for me. The first main concept: “Doing it the way I like doing it, even if that changes.” For a lonnnnng time, I glued photos on the left-hand side of the page, but I think it was after the twins were born that I lost the oomph for doing that (and mostly stopped getting photos printed), and it was CRUCIAL to be able to say, “Then I’m not going to do that anymore, even though it means the journals are not consistent.” Ditto for when I used to WRITE on the left-hand side: I didn’t like the way the spiral dug into my hand/wrist/arm, and so after awhile I stopped that and only wrote on the right-hand side. It was CRUCIAL to be able to say, “If I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it anymore, even though it means (1) the journals are not consistent and (2) I’m kind of wasting paper.”

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The second main concept is “not worrying about it too much.” If I scribble something out, if I forget to write something down, if I have to write, “Oh, I forgot to say that last week we…,” if my handwriting is messy, if I keep track of something for one kid that I didn’t think to keep track of for another kid—none of that really matters.

And the third crucial concept was the English-class one of “choosing the audience.” My guess is that my children are extremely unlikely to want to read detailed smooshy “Today you are twenty-seven months old and you are the heart outside Mommy’s body” stuff, either as children or later as adults; I came to that theory by imagining my own mother writing such things and asking myself if I’d be interested in it (“No”). The intended audience of my journal, then, is Later Me. I can picture myself paging through to remember these years, and so I write what I think I will be interested in, and I write it to myself: “William likes peas and oatmeal,” not “You like peas and oatmeal.”

However, I realize I’m only guessing about my children’s future interest, so I keep that in mind as well: I don’t write it down every time I wonder if I would have been happier not having children, for example. I DO, however, write about somewhat personal things like weaning hormones, or when I’m frustrated about discipline issues, or at what point my periods started up again after childbirth, or how unhappy I was when Paul and I disagreed about how many children to have, or how miserable I found pregnancy. And I write about various things I suppose could hurt their feelings but could also help them when they have children of their own, or could help them understand their own childhoods: I write about my temper, and I write about how frustrating the children can be, and I give examples. I don’t want them (or me) remembering that I yelled for no reason. I also deliberately write things now and then about how delightful and fun I find them, though I hope the very existence of these journals also communicates that.


Here are some of the other things I put into the journals:

1. Milestones such as first steps, first teeth, first foods, lost teeth, getting glasses.

2. What they got for their birthdays or Christmas.

3. Funny things they say.

4. Their hobbies and interests (“Elizabeth started karate”; “William has been very interested in codes”).

5. Stuff we do, if it’s not what we typically do (“Today we went on a hike to _____”).

6. Stuff we do, if it’s what we typically do and I am in the mood to write down a snapshot of it to give me an idea later on of what life was like at the time (“Usually we get up at ____ o’clock; this is what they eat for breakfast; this is who has to be nagged to get ready for school; after school, we ___; while they’re gone, I _____,” etc.

7. Examples of their bad behavior.

8. Our baby-name-choosing lists, with the rejected ones crossed out so that they can still be read.


When they were younger, I wrote a LOT more. Little kids generate a lot more milestones and cute anecdotes than teenagers do. And there is so much more to SAY about little kids, though time has shown that I am not very much interested later on in lists of all the foods they ate, every word they could say, or what sizes they were wearing. (I did find those lists useful when siblings were at those ages: for example, it was useful to be able to find out when I started the baby on what foods the last time, or to reassure myself that no, this baby is NOT way behind his siblings in language development.)

What I MOST value later on are the anecdotes about funny things they said, the reports of their bad behavior, and the periodic descriptions of what life was like at that time. When they were younger I tried very hard to be REGULAR about the life-descriptions, doing one every month. That got overwhelming, so I stopped—and I’m glad I did, because the regimented/detailed (I had categories such as Eating, Sleeping, Playing, Talking) monthly reports are…quite dull. And monthly is wayyyyyyy too often. But if I do one every year or two, and I just write whatever comes to mind instead of following set categories, I find I really enjoy those later. It’s interesting how quickly I forget what used to be completely routine (“Then one of us sits with Elizabeth until she falls asleep…”).

I also do like the milestone stuff: many times I’ve been glad to be able to say when someone did/got/started this or that: I’d think I’d remember, but I really don’t. But I don’t worry about it if I forget to mention every lost tooth and every new extracurricular activity.

I’ve used the gift reports as a way to remember what the kids liked at certain ages. So if for example I need to buy a gift for a 2-year-old, I’ve LONG forgotten what 2-year-olds like—but I can look back at what I bought my own kids at that age and get some good ideas.


The basic idea is that it’s a jumble, and I don’t try too hard to be consistent. If I think I have to write every day, or record every single funny anecdote, or write a 2-page report every month, I get overwhelmed and stop wanting to do it. Instead I keep the journal very handy (next to my favorite chair), and I write on no particular schedule, and I try to avoid getting regimented/obsessive/weird about it. I’d rather have one anecdote out of a hundred than ZERO anecdotes out of a hundred—and if I end up with THREE anecdotes out of a hundred, how VERY NICE.

I think that when the system is all written out like this it can look overwhelming, too. I remember when for English class we had to write detailed instructions about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and WOW that looks like a lot of time and fussy work! And yet it isn’t: you just make the sandwich and it only takes a couple minutes. Also, I think it can look overwhelming to read someone else’s system, because what’s natural/comfortable for me might not be natural/comfortable for you: perhaps what will work for you is typing your journal in a wordprocessing document and getting in the habit of working on it for 5 minutes per day before bed. Or perhaps what will work for you is buying a different pretty journal for each child and jotting down mostly milestones and the occasional anecdote. Or perhaps you’ll want to use a 3-ring binder so it’s easier to remove/rearrange pages. Whatever works best for you is what you’re most likely to find easy and non-overwhelming.

Update: Traveling with a Child; Also: Activities for a Plane Ride

Elizabeth and I are back from our trip, and let me tell you, I am a little punchy today: there was a red-eye flight, and there was a significant time change, and anyway everything feels weird. Yesterday at this time we were one place! And now we are in a completely different place, feeling like it’s a different time than it is! Without sufficient sleep to process that situation!

Also, I am trying to catch up to usual life while also trying to undo the vacationy things, so I’m doing laundry and dealing with the mail pile and making a grocery list, and ALSO unpacking suitcases and processing photos and eating up the snacks we didn’t finish. I am doing this with the sheer willpower of coffee.

When I asked for advice about this trip, some of you advised me NOT to try to carry everything on our backs but to instead go ahead and pay the baggage fee to check a suitcase. Ever since I traveled across the country with an infant on my lap (which goes down in my personal history as the WORST WAY TO SAVE MONEY I HAVE EVER TRIED), I have been listening carefully to people who give me advice about traveling with children, and I’m VERY GLAD I did. It was not TOO much trouble to check a bag, compared to how much trouble it would have been to manage four (or even two) carry-ons. And then I didn’t have to take out a bag of liquids at security, or even LIMIT my liquids! I could take a whole bottle of sunscreen! My entire bottle of moisturizer!

As for how the whole trip went, I wrote a haiku for Paul and put it on a postcard:

Lost bag, canceled flight
Middle seat for eight hours
Still having fun time

Those eight hours were not all in a row, though they happened on the same day. The reason it was eight hours is that at 11:30 the night before our early-morning flight, the airline texted me that the second leg of our flight was canceled. When we arrived at the airport for the first flight (not knowing what else they expected us to do with that text), they told us Great News! they’d been able to book us on a replacement flight! We’d have a layover of over ten hours and we’d arrive at midnight instead of 4:00 p.m., but that’s okay, right? My strategy was to stand at the counter politely and in pitiful silence, with tears on the verge of welling up in my wide anxious eyes, until they came up with another idea. The ultimate solution involved switching us to another airline on a flight that flew right past our destination, then doubling back on yet another flight, but it got us there six hours earlier than the other plan so we did it and we said thank you very much for thinking of that clever idea.

Evidently our luggage went ahead with the 10-hour-layover plan, however, so we got it the next morning near lunchtime. Happily, I’d tucked a pair of underpants into each of our carry-ons. (On the way home, I added to the carry-on the three things I’d wished for while we waited for the luggage: deodorant, a comb, and the phone-charging cable. Several people/sites recommended carrying on a change of clothes for each of us, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that much carry-on room—and still wasn’t, even after we DID lose our luggage.)

The night flight went totally fine; in fact, it went better than the day flight. It was uncomfortable, but I was asleep for a lot of it so the feelings of discomfort seemed shorter. And there was so much less rummaging in carry-ons for snacks and activities, and so much less “child talking to me at 15-second intervals while I tried to read.” I was very glad to have our neck pillows, even though they were quite awkward to carry. I was also very glad neither of us needed to pee, because the guy in our aisle seat fell asleep and slept the whole way. The whole airplane-seating thing is unrealistic and wrong and doesn’t work. Here is another example: the way putting the seat back gives one passenger more space only at the expense of another passenger—who can get back that space only by stealing from a THIRD passenger. That is WRONG and should not be that way. Fix it, I say! FIX it!

Also, I can tell that I would not be able to work for an airport/airline without coming to see humanity as a herd of gross, inconsiderate, slobby jerks. Since one of my primary career goals is to avoid thinking of my fellow humans as gross, inconsiderate, slobby jerks, it’s a career I plan to avoid. (This is why I never want to work retail again if I can help it: it makes me think of my fellow humans as mean, self-centered, unreasonable jerks.)

The day flight was okay, too, but again our aisle-seat neighbor fell asleep. And that time we DID need to pee.

The best activity I brought was the Melissa & Doug Sticker-by-Number kit: Elizabeth used that more than anything else.

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I also brought her a book (she’s been reading this cat-clan/warriors series and lovvvvvves it),

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a reusable-sticker kit (it was too big for the plane, but perfect for at my parents’ house; I am planning to order one for myself, because I was jealous),

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a guided coloring book (she liked it but I didn’t: I thought most of the prompts were too surreal and/or too hard to draw),

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and this extremely odd book I can’t figure out (it’s a finding/I-spy type thing, but…strawberry mermaid bunnies?) but she loves it.

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And my brother lent us his iPad, and Elizabeth played a Toca Boca game called Hair Salon 2 so happily and incessantly, my MOM downloaded a copy for HERSELF and the two of them played it side by side. At one point my mom, dad, and Elizabeth were ALL playing Hair Salon 2. It’s a fun game.

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Summer Notebook Update of Dubious General Interest

Summer continues to be manageable around here. I started out using a notebook to write down what we did each day, but then I realized I wouldn’t end up saving that notebook or wanting to look at it again. I ALREADY keep a family journal, in which I write down anecdotes, milestones, and descriptions of the children’s terrible behavior so we can get the story straight when they’re grown and remembering their childhood as unjust; I’m putting our summer days in there instead.

At first I was a little agitated about this because I had a couple of weeks’ worth written in my summer journal and with the new system none of that was in the regular journal and if I copied it in NOW it would be OUT OF ORDER, but if I DIDN’T copy it then there’d be NO RECORD OF MY EXCELLENT EFFORT—and then I just wrote a sentence in my regular journal saying what I was doing, and then I copied things over in a few minutes while the kids were in karate and I was bored anyway. Now I’ll have it the way I want it, and my future self is not going to care about things being a little messy in the journal for a page or two. My future self is going to say, “Oh, good, I’m glad you did that, because this way it’s all HERE for my argument with the Grown Children about whether it’s true we ‘never did anything fun in summer’.”

The summer notebook will still be useful: I’m going to tear out the few pages where I wrote daily activities, and use the rest of the notebook for a continuation of the Things We Might Want To Do This Summer list. I was already planning to save THAT, because that’ll be a good way to accumulate ideas we might otherwise forget about from year to year. Plus, it’ll show the kids how THEIR list corresponded to what we DID DO.

In the meantime, the kids have added several more summer requests of the kind I find fun to grant:

1. They want to try Lucky Charms
2. They want to have Pop-Tarts

Fly Like a Bird; Webkinz Again

It seems to me that the phrase “fly like a bird” has been fully, FULLY used and that there is no sense using it for any further purposes. It’s a little like saying “meow like a cat.” I suppose a person might write a song in which they wish to express their feelings of flying like a helicopter, or flying like a thrown baseball, but I think if they don’t clarify it we’ll all just ASSUME more of a bird-like flight and there’s no need to specify.

I do think the phrase could be revived if songwriters/poets/etc. started specifying the TYPE of bird, especially if it were a bird with a pretty-sounding name. “Fly like a sparrow.” “Fly like a nightingale.” (Perhaps not “Fly like a flamingo.”)


We are getting back into our Webkinz craze around here. It happened, I think, because after a year the Webkinz account shifts from Bought-a-Pet Mode to Free Mode: you still have some limited features of the account (and you don’t lose the online version of your pet), but it’s frustrating to keep encountering things you can’t do. Elizabeth and I each have several pets, and each pet adds a year to the account (I THINK/HOPE they run consecutively rather than overlapping, though I haven’t looked into it), but Edward and Henry only had one pet each so their accounts got bumped down to Free Mode. I like to buy some Fun Summer Stuff anyway, so I had each of them choose a new Webkinz, with the general guideline that it should be in the $6-or-less category. Edward chose the Lil’Kinz Persian cat and Henry chose the Silversoft cat.

Well, and then it seemed a little unfair that Elizabeth wouldn’t get a new one, considering the reason HER account hadn’t expired is that she’d asked for a Webkinz for Christmas and also saved up for one with her allowance. So I let her choose one too, and she chose a whale, and now she has TWO whales and is all happy and excited and dressing her online whales in virtual top hats and so forth, and having new pets has reignited ALL of us.

Friday Night Taste Test: Tyrconnell Whiskey

Awhile ago I read a book that made me want to try a liquor called Tyrconnell. The book is Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker, and the narrator’s girlfriend describes how each sip of the drink tastes. I should be doing a block quote for the description, but I jotted down the sip descriptions at the library without thinking of that, so none of this is my wording and yet it’s not an exact quote either. That is, the descriptions are exactly quoted (including punctuation), but there was material in between: it wasn’t just a list like I’ve done it. Let’s block-quote it anyway, to make it clear it’s not mine:

First sip: primeval forest
Second sip: slate patio
Third sip: patio furniture with slippery steps down to the garden
Fourth sip: meat, meat with heavy, dark green vegetable matter on an earthenware plate
Fifth sip: swallowing the platter
Sixth sip: recovery, bisque-colored envelopes

Well. You can see why I had to investigate further. This is like that Willy Wonka three-course-dinner gum. Except with things we don’t eat. (Except the meat and vegetable matter.)

I looked tentatively at our liquor store, but didn’t see the Tyrconnell. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure what section to look in or what the bottle looked like, and that made me unsure my search could be called thorough. I knew it was a whiskey, but whiskey is confusing to me (it was only recently I learned that scotch and bourbon and rye are also whiskey, and that whisky and whiskey can be different; plus there’s all this stuff about how many malts and what kind of cask), and there are several sections for it. And I couldn’t remember/pronounce the name, but I kept going to the liquor store without writing it down, and I was too embarrassed to ask if they had it. “It starts with a T and I think it ends in an -ell, and it tastes like slate patios?”

Finally I remembered to write it down, and then I did find it. It’s a single-malt Irish whiskey. It comes in a lovely, lovely cylinder-shaped box:

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The box made me REALLY WANT to love the liquor itself, so that I could make it my Signature Drink and always have one of those boxes around. Very successful packaging. I have to think of something to use the empty box for, when it’s empty.

This is not a CHEAP liquor, I will warn you. I found it on a good sale, but STILL. Definitely most of the cost had to be chalked up to a concept I learned from my mom, which is Experiment/Experience Cost. That is, if you want to try something, and it costs money, and the only reasonable way to find out if you like it is to buy it, and you pay the money and don’t like the thing, the money isn’t WASTED: it’s not so much the cost of the THING as the cost of INVESTIGATION. Generally my mom and I apply this concept as a comfort, after something has been purchased but has failed to please; however, it can also be applied ahead of time, for emboldening purposes. (I have also found it helpful to “split up” the cost by letting other people try it if possible, or to make a blog post out of it ahem.)

Here’s how Tyrconnell describes their own product:

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(screenshot from

No mention of patios, envelopes, or platters, but this sounds interesting too. Honey hanging from the nose! Oily sweetness!

So. Here I am; it is Friday night; I have a glass of Tyrconnell before me. The smell of it is….discouraging. The color is indeed golden yellow, as described. I am going to take a sip. Here we go.

First sip. Predicted to be: “primeval forest.” Actual taste: ACK WHAT DID I PUT INTO MY MOUTH, THIS IS NOT TO EAT. Oh, okay, that’s better now. Pleasant warmth in the throat. No taste of trees, fruit, citrus, honey, spice, or oily sweetness. Just whiskey.

Second sip. Predicted to be: “slate patio.” Actual taste: *shudder* That was even worse than the first sip. But I think I detected a little honey flavor that time. A repeat of the pleasant throat-warmth. No slate. No patio.

Third sip. Predicted to be: “patio furniture with slippery steps down to the garden.” Actual taste: Do I have to? Okay, fine. Boy, that is a WHISKEY taste, huh? There was a slight sweetness as I took the sip, and I guess now that someone mentions it I do think it was a little oily, though I think if I were the marketer I would have selected a different word. Throat now has a pleasant slight tingly sensation in addition to the warmth. Nose also feeling slightly tingly; perhaps that is the feeling of honey hanging from it? No furniture. No steps, though perhaps “slippery” can go with the “oily.” No garden.

Fourth sip. Predicted to be: “meat, meat with heavy, dark green vegetable matter on an earthenware plate.” Actual taste: Okay, I don’t much mind taking another! Same as before: some detectable sweetness, and I’d be willing to go with “honey” on that. No citrus or spices or fruit. No meat. No spinach. No earthenware plate.

Fifth sip. Predicted to be: “swallowing the platter.” (This makes me wonder if Sip Four was supposed to be food on an earthenware platter instead of plate. It’s possible I have inadvertently slightly misquoted.) Actual taste: Whiskey. Just basically whiskey. Warmth in throat; no sensation of platter-swallowing. Mouth is starting to feel a little numb in addition to feeling kind of icky and bitter. I would not want to breathe near anyone right now, nor would I want to breathe near an open flame.

Sixth sip. Predicted to be: “recovery, bisque-colored envelopes.” I assume this means it tastes like recovery AND bisque-colored envelopes. Actual taste: Oh, cool, I accidentally poured exactly six sips! Of whiskey. It tastes like whiskey. For me, recovery tastes less like whiskey and more like chicken caeser salad wraps and waffles and chocolate chip cookies, or else chicken noodle soup and saltines and tea, depending on what I’m recovering from. No flavor of bisque-colored envelopes, though my fingers are getting tingly if that’s the same thing. I looked up bisque to see what color it might be, and apparently it’s the color I’d call manilla.

Seventh sip. Oh, no thank you! I’m good! Let’s instead figure out what to use the pretty cylindrical box for.