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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
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posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 4:50 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Horse races
I have a list of things to do before I die. My mother-in-law, Marilyn, sweetly arranged for one of them last summer. We all went to the Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico to see horse races. She even arranged to get us into the Jockey Club, which is a posh way of seeing the exact same races. Catered food, no lines to place a bet, lots of close-up cameras on the horses, and a lovely atmosphere. The women's restroom was posh beyond belief--at least, it was for a commoner like me.

My youngest son, Kevin, is eighteen. He started out very blase, and wondering what all the fuss was about. I guess when your spare time is absorbed by video games, mere horses seem pretty tame. By the end of the third race, was bouncing off the chairs, waving his betting ticket like the rest of us. It was a whale of a lot of fun. (Once, we went to a stock car race, as it was also on my life list. It was interesting to have done, but nothing compared to the horse race.)

Marilyn's friend Pat, who had gotten us into the Jockey Club, told us a story about her daughter who had worked at the race downs one summer, doing cleanup. She gathered up all the losing tickets that people left scattered everywhere, and had them run through the betting machine, just to see if anyone had accidentally discarded a winning ticket. She was stunned to find out that it happened all the time. She made several hundred dollars that summer just from tickets that had been thrown away. Pat explained that many people who go to the races do a lot of drinking. They either don't read the results right, or enthuse about winning and get another drink, forgetting to actually claim the prize. It was amazing, and perfectly legal.

I think, all told, I bet about $10, and lost $6. That's the same as the cost of a movie ticket, and a lot more exciting than most movies I've attended.
posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 7:55 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Trips are Fun!
We went to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They have wonderful performances and are only five hours away, so we go every year for a couple of days. This year we took both "boys" and their girlfriends, and rented a house. It's cheaper than three hotel rooms, and is more fun to share. At least, --it's more fun for me!

The first morning, when we all got up, I was on a bouncy sort of high, and kept springing around to hug people and say chirpy things. My family is inured to this, and Melissa's traveled with us before, but it occurred to me that Lara hadn't.

So I said, "Really, Lara, I'm not always like this when we travel."

And my eldest son piped up, "That's true. Sometimes she's asleep."
posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 8:21 PM   0 comments
Saturday, May 13, 2006
What would YOU do with a caricature?
I've had a great time lately entering a contest on a website for a trio of caricature artists. They ask "Why do you want to win a caricature?" The "most witty answer" will win a free caricature.

I haven't won, of course, but it's been a lot of fun dreaming up answers. Mine are too far out, and a lot are just plain silly, but they were fun to write. A few of my contest entries (remember, they've already seen these):

**So I can finally honor my fans by having a decent picture on my pro baseball cards

**I've heard that Egypt is giving their Sphinx a face-lift. As a helpful gesture, I thought I'd give them a model of me to go by.

**I need a caricature as a replacement for my mirror. Every one I've had cracks when I walk by.

**Because it's the only possible way for me to experience life as a flying monkey!

**Because getting a caricature is the fastest weight loss program around. You're almost two-dimensional in no time!
posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 10:29 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Snoop Management 101
My father had a wonderful secretary. He was quite pleased with Sally except for one thing. He suspected--couldn't prove it, mind you--but he suspected that she snooped. It wasn't so much that he was trying to keep secrets from her, but it's awkward to discover that your cache of candy bars has been alphabetized, especially as you'd hidden them so your wife wouldn't know you were eating them, and of course your wife is a very good friend of Sally's.

One day, my dad had a great idea. He didn't want to confront Sally, but he did want to know if the disarrangements were due to his carelessness or her interest in his private life. So he wrote a list in his beautiful long-hand, headed "Ten Reasons I Admire Sally" 1) She is always cheerful. 2) She genuinely cares about other people. 3)--well, you get my drift. Every statement was true, and even my mother wouldn't have objected to any of them. He hid the list in his desk drawer.

For several days, nothing happened out of the usual. But on day four, Sally came into his office positively glowing. "Oh Bob, would you like some more coffee? What about a newspaper? There are some very nice doughnuts down the hall. Would you...?"

Her lovely, bouncy mood lasted for days. My dad just smiled to himself and hid his candy bars somewhere else. All he'd wanted was the answer to a simple question, and he'd gotten it.
posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 5:59 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
When our son Daniel was a year old, we went on a cruise. Daniel loved fruit of any kind. If our Portugese waiter served any kind of fruit, chances were I wouldn't get any of it. One evening, Angelo gave me a small dish of papaya slicess. I promptly gave it to Daniel so I could eat my own dinner. I'd only managed a few bites before he was done with his papaya and wanted more. I asked Angelo for another dish of it, as my son had eaten mine. Angelo looked surprised, but brought me a second. Naturally, Daniel ate that too.

When I asked for a third, Angelo looked a little shocked, but without protest, he brought a third dish. It was only then that I took my first bite of papaya, and discovered that it had been dipped in RUM!! And my one-year old son had delightedly chowed down on two dishes of it. No wonder Angelo was surprised!

Daniel slept very, very well that night. Naturally, we taste-tested everything else before giving it to him. Despite his early cravings (whether for papaya or for rum) he grew up just fine, and is actually graduating from college next month. So at least my moment of heedlessness didn't scar him for life.
posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 4:26 PM   0 comments
Sunday, April 09, 2006

Speaking of tradition—my oldest son, Daniel, has one that he and his friends have observed every Christmas for years. He and his friends pile into Ryan's basement for a 24 hour period to play computer games. Ryan's sister, they declared, was a nuisance, so blocking her from the basement became part of the tradition.

Mind you, all of these young men are in their twenties, and Ryan's sister moved out of the house a long time ago. But it wouldn't be a tradition if it didn't persist.

As years went by the plans for blocking her, but not her mother (who had the cookies, after all), became more and more elaborate. This year, in addition to the required draperies of blankets, and secret knocks, Daniel designed a drawbridge. This involved an old screen door, pulleys, and counterweights of two-liter pop bottles filled with water. The 'secret' way to open the drawbridge was to tap gently on a particular spot, helpfully labelled 'tap here'. How this deters the sister, I don't know, as she's been able to read for over fifteen years.

Daniel, being Daniel, developed official blueprints for the design before he came from college. He demonstrated it to his father and me in academic-Daniel fashion. He'd discovered a design flaw which irritated him considerably.

"Well, you see, I guessed that coefficient of friction between metal and string was 0.2." He shook his head in disgust. "It's probably closer to .25."

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I'm a mother, I tried. Comfortingly, I told him that I would've made the same mistake. After all, wouldn't you?

posted by Jeanette Cottrell @ 1:17 PM   0 comments
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Name: Jeanette Cottrell
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