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Honest School Notes #9

God there’s heaps on my to-do list this week. Photo source

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, February 2016


Dear Office,

I’m sorry the children were late for school this morning. I am as surprised as you are, to tell you the truth, because I made a chart for the children to help with the school-run, and I thought that would fix the problem. Shockingly, this Morning Chart did not work.

We’ve been away for five weeks, as you know, Office.  I’m transitioning from Road Life, where everything is managed on the fly and clean undies are just some kind of fancy dream, to Real Life, where every day I have to bang out lunchboxes and spare clothes and signed paperwork for three small children.

I know I’m no rocket scientist, Office. But I’m ashamed to admit that the school run feels just a hair beyond my skill set. Yesterday morning, our first day back at term, was a shambles.  I couldn’t find the hats, which is fairly standard, but I also struggled to find shirts, trousers, shoes, socks, underpants, bags, water bottles and my will to live.

I finally packed all the school stuff, but then four-year-old Pudding started to cry. She had lost Elsa, the dead caterpillar she had been keeping in a Tupperware container, and she had set her heart upon showing Elsa for news at day-care.  We ransacked the bedrooms looking for the poor creature and finally found her in the laundry basket, under the school hats. (Double win!)  I strapped the girls in the car, and then realised that seven year old T-Bone had taken his shoes off and gone back to bed to read Zombie Bums From Uranus.

I took action, Office. After the drop-off, I picked up a powerful wand of organisational magic (new texta) from the corner shop and created a Chart when I got home. I ignored the towering piles of road-trip unpacking and washing. The school run had so unsettled my holiday equilibrium that Chart took priority over all else. ‘The Happy, Chilled-Out, No-Stress Morning Checklist’ I titled it. My husband Keith raised one eyebrow at this. ‘The kids are already totally chilled out,’ he said. ‘You’re the only one that’s stressed.’

This is true. The kids are oblivious as the clock creeps ever forward to nine am, and so is Keith. He’s just as likely to try and squeeze in a quick piano lesson as check teeth-cleaning status.  I’m the one with mayonnaise in my hair and an eye-twitch.

I attacked Chart with zeal. Clean teeth! I wrote. Make Bed! Find Hat! Put Lunch in Bag! I added cheery exclamation points to all these tasks in order to add a sense of zany fun to the whole sordid exercise. And then I pinned all my hopes and dreams to the bloody thing. This morning: chaos as ever, with the added addition of my screeching ‘Check your chart! Check your chart!’ as the children wandered about, free as sparrows, happy and unencumbered by responsibility of any kind.

I have a creeping suspicion that a Chart has never, ever been shown to actually work in the history of modern parenting, Office. Surely it cannot be so? Hopeless optimism maintained through all contrary reality is my primary parenting tool, Office. If I lose that, who am I?

Apologies again, Office. I’ll keep trying.

Yours sincerely,

Rachael Mogan McIntosh.

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5

Honest School Notes #6

Honest School Notes #7

Honest School Notes #8

Tribal Instincts

Published this week in Sunday Life Magazine, a look at modern parent subcultures. Missing here: the Mad Religious, the Drug-Addled, the Silly-Voiced, the Odd Smelling and many other tribes I couldn’t fit into a tidy little box.


Originally a French term, Bobo is a conflation of the term “bourgeois bohemians” and it describes a rising demographic found mostly in our inner cities. Often combining the high-tech with the natural, Bobos love gadgetry and artisanal products. For instance, they might use a wireless wristband to bio-hack their metabolic health while riding their vintage bicycle. Fashion is “normcore”, or intentionally understated. Bobos are defined largely by food: veg is organic, grains are bad, nuts are activated, juice is green and coffee is cold-drip. Their diet may be raw vegan, paleo or 5:2. Don’t worry, you will find out which within the first few minutes of conversation.

Superpowers: Fermentation, free-boobing, beardiness, acro-yoga, ironic tattoos and superb gastro-intestinal health.

Armour: Kefir water, chemical-free sunscreen, gluten-free DSLR camera, chia seed mini-muffins in bento box.

Sample statement: ”Bugger, CrossFit ran so late I forgot to feed my kombucha mother. Can anybody give me a dink back to Tamarama?”


Breathtakingly capable, these parents sign readers, attend committees, and return school forms on time and free of mystery stains. Even the car of the No-Nonsense Parent is clean, which goes beyond the capability of 85 per cent of parents with small children. They separate their whites and darks. Both the women and the men are impressively groomed, hairless as Sphinx cats, and often highly sporty.

Handbags and satchels contain items for every occasion (wet wipes, tweezers, night-vision goggles, etc.) Spag bol is cooked in large batches to keep the busy work week humming smoothly. They are actual, proper grown-ups – and the P&C Federation would crumble without them.

Superpowers: Fundraising skill, death stares, ability to raise a single (beautifully arched) eyebrow,excellent information retention, household-management systems.

Armour: Premium-grade iPhone scheduling app, clothes iron, insomnia, low-level anxiety disorder, complete inability to say no, buttocks like two puppies fighting under a blanket, the pale eyeballs of the terrifyingly healthy.

Your best opening line: ”I am not worthy.”


Hot-Mess Parents often sport a fashion look best described as “shagged through a hedge backwards”. They arrive late, dishevelled and confused. School bags contain unsigned forms and rogue “crunch and sip” elements. Children and/or parents may have head lice.

Tears and coffee mingle on yesterday’s trousers as Hot-Mess Parents race to soccer training, only to realise they have packed the Irish dancing bag.

They are, frankly, all over the place like a madwoman’s poo-poo. By week eight of the school term, the percentage of parents who have shifted tribes from All-Business to Hot-Mess is high.

Superpowers: Pulling it together at the last minute, lightness of spirit, excellent blood pressure and incredible scrispering (scream-whispering) talent.

Armour: Three pens (none work).

Sample statement: ”Hat parade? What hat parade?”

Read the whole thing, if you’re interested , at Daily Life. 

In today’s news, Keith and I are off to a wedding up the coast. Sans kids, even (thank you, Mum and Dad.x)

Road trip! Road trip!! Road trip!!!!!!!

Happy weekend to you all.


The Heartbreak Of Being Human

This week I have been listening to the BBC World Service Daily Commute podcasts in my safe and comfortable house, as I wonder whether I have enough bread for sandwiches and where I put the hairbrush. I’ve cried as I have listened to the stories of the many tens of thousands of refugees streaming into Germany and Austria, and the efficient Germanic machine that swung into place to feed and process and transport them all.

photo source)

Hundreds of  Germans waited to greet refugees at the train station, eager to show them a rousing welcome, and to volunteer to help with the incredible logistical task of managing this great tide of people.  It was so incredible moving to read and hear about.

The shared  anguish felt by so many  when that photo of drowned toddler Aylan was everywhere, inescapable, somehow set off this groundswell of compassion. It was a choir that drowned out the fearful and racist shouting that sometimes claims all the air, a choir so large that it  forced the political machinery to act. There was an incredible sense of shift, of the essential goodness of humanity taking centre stage for once. For once, the best of us, rather than the worst.

I felt wretched as Tony Abbott finally conceded that he would increase the Australian intake of Syrian refugees, but only by tinkering with the numbers, and not by opening our doors to more.

Today, I am so pleased to hear that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has announced that we will take an extra 12, 000 Syrian refugees on top of our normal asylum-seeker intake. Hooray, government! In this moment, we are part of a compassionate response. Thank god.

I feel compelled to record the happiness I  feel in this moment, because it will be fleeting. Our home-land response to aylum-seekers remains despicable, and the deeper problems of wealth disparity and the great shifting movements of displaced people are  defining the 21st century. It’s hard to know where this will lead next. There seems little hope of an effective political solution. We’re extending our military commitment in Syria, along with many other countries. So the wars continue , and the refugees will keep coming.

At least, this week, the voice of compassion shouted louder than the voice of fear.

A Bookshelf post on trying to understand terrorism.  (I feel like I need to go back and read The Looming Towers again.)

This short film, so moving:

And this poem, ’Home’, by Warsan Shire 

 ”no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here”

We are warm and safe in our beds by accident of birth. Sheer,  dumb, incredible luck. May we never forget that.

Moody Bitches

An emotional moment, maybe regretted in the morning.
Woodstock, 1969, photo via Buzzfeed

You know, I have realised that whenever I have a PMT meltdown it is housework-related. I’ve written about it before.

Last week I had a terrible bout of ladymadness. Two long days of anxiety and quiet rage culminated in two long nights of insomnia, nightmares and a bout of midnight weeping – over the housework. The housework. Specifically, the way it stretched out before me like a lifetime curse.

Last week, we had two kid birthdays with all the parties, special dinners and present-managing that comes with them.  Also, one child home sick. So one of those intense family weeks. All went fine. Parties and presents and dinners: all excellent. Sick child: recovered.

Of course, a week like that means other balls get dropped a little. But last week I was also full of hormones, and the chaos seemed impossible, unmanageable. I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t walk properly because I hiked up a cliff on the weekend, trying to emfitten myself, so there I was, limping around, tripping over the washing, swallowing the tears, baking the cakes.  All I could see were fails, everywhere.

Today I found this book called Moody Bitches at the library. It celebrates the tide of our moods thus:

Women’s hormones are constantly in flux. They ebb and flow over a month-long cycle and they wax and wane throughout decades of fertility, vacillating with particular volatility during adolescence and perimenopause, the spring and autumn of the reproductive years.

Our hormonal variations allow us to be empathetic and intuitive – to our environment, to our children’s needs, and to our partners intentions. Women’s emotionality is normal. It is a sign of health, not disease, and it is our single biggest asset.

Granted, it may have been hard for Keith to see my 2am  tears about the laundry as an asset, as I finally whimpered myself to sleep (a tale that is humiliating to recount.) ‘You know,’ he said very carefully at one point, ‘I know this feels very real, but it’s just your hormones.’


And no.

The problem with that argument  is that when the eostrogen courses through your veins, you are irrationally emotional, but the issue is actually real. The catastrophe of it is manufactured, but the essence of it is real.

I do feel like fucking Cinderella.

I do spend all day getting the house in order only to have all my work trashed in five minutes.

I do see mundane chores filling the rest of my days.

I do find it incredibly hard to prioritise and manage my  back pain well when the everyday physicality of running a homestead leaves me sore and exhausted.

In the cold light of morning, that’s not such a big deal, of course, and every life is full of hard graft or one kind or another.

Saturday morning, eyeballs dry,  head aching, humiliation levels high; I slunk out of the house wearing a big hat. I avoided eye contact with humans and I went and saw Mission Impossible. Robotic Tom suited my mood. I ate chocolate bullets and slouched grumpily, and by Sunday night, I was recalibrated into my normal state. Thank Christ.

I am so grateful that the PMT beast only descends on me every few months. It would be so miserable if that happened every cycle. It’s goddamn exhausting feeling all those feelings. Dear readers, if you’re about to surf the crimson tide and your hormones are holding you hostage,  you have my sympathy. I know how you feel. (Half depressed, half-murderous.) Hang in there, moody bitches.

It’s an ASSET!

Wonderful Things To Watch With The Kids

We really are entering the electric blanket, couch-potato, glad-I-had-three-children-to-use-as-hot-water-bottles season. At the minute, the kids and I are all deeply in love with Horrible Histories. So goddamn funny. Here’s a sample of Historical Masterchef:

Or a soft-rock Viking track:

Honestly, it is so good. Here are a few more great clips to enjoy with the kids. Get under a blanket, cuddle up! Get the kids to work the controls! They are better at it anyway.

Easton LaChapelle is an inspiring seventeen year old robotic engineer. I love this kid.

Pandas on a slippery dip. Because pandas on a slippery dip.

Cool stuff – a tour of the International Space Station:

For specifics, a little tutorial on how to wash your hair in space:

And just because it’s glorious: astronaut Chris Hadfield sings Space oddity. In space.

Finally if,  like me, you have a Harry Potter fan in your house, they might like this clip of Daniel Radcliffe rapping. It is SO impressive!

Happy wintering. Stay warm out there.

The Quality Of Mercy.

(image via

Like so many of you, I am incredibly saddened today by the deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

I’ve felt very torn about it in recent weeks.

Luckily, I’ve not seen the memes and comments that I know have been circulating – people angry, baying for blood, supporting the execution.I am lucky not to have such commentary pop up in my orbit, although I know those voices are noisy.

Rather, I’ve been initially confused and latterly moved by the outpouring of sympathy I saw for Myuran and Andrew.

These two men willingly organised and participated in illegal activity in a country that clearly warned of the death penalty. The drugs they smuggled had the potential to ruin many lives, even to kill. Stories of the boys as younger men painted pictures of them that set off all my red flags: Andrew was a ‘bully’ at school. Myuran studied mixed martial arts and was said to have an ‘explosive’ temper.

I couldn’t understand the sympathy. I couldn’t get on board. Even though I would  never have publicly voiced support for their execution – anybody’s execution – I also didn’t publicly support my many, many friends who voiced their sympathy either. I just stayed out of the debate.

I talked to my mum, who is so compassionate, and who stood for mercy. I tried to understand her position but I could not get past the fact that they went willingly. They were the architects of their own destiny.  They chose the behavior that ended in the predicted result. They were…bad boys. I felt uncomfortable with how we all seemed to be enforcing our values, our laws upon another sovereign nation. I quietly wrestled with my feelings.

Today, I am so sad.

I see things differently.

They were clearly such lost boys, Andrew and Myuran. Stories of both their early lives are similar in tales of aimlessness,  drugs and oblivion-seeking,  an inability to fit easily into the world around them. They were unformed and troubled.  They were, in fact, like many of us at that age. In neurological terms, the frontal cortex is not fully developed until about age 25, and the last of the higher functions to develop are critical – a sense of maturity in judgement; insight; a sense of consequences.

Who among us didn’t so stupid stuff at twenty three? Make awful decisions? Just get away with stuff by the skin of our teeth?

The behavior of Andrew and Myuran in jail demonstrates a maturity and responsibility that were there, latent, yet to show themselves at the time of their arrest. Yes, they did huge social damage in their early lives. But in the ten years since, they showed themselves capable of good judgement, of remorse, and of responsibility and insight. In fact, as their adult personalities emerged, Andrew was a empathetic and kind spiritual leader to others in the jail, and Myuran was an astonishingly accomplished artist.

‘Success is cumulative,’ said Myurna to his cousin Dharminie Mani (via ‘No one wakes up successful. It takes hard work behind the scenes where no one else can see. It starts when you set yourself goals, you make sure you do something small everyday.’

Their deaths achieve nothing (other than some diplomatic difficulty yet to play out.) But their lives were, over the last ten years, achieving much, even in jail. How much more could they have offered as mentors, pastors, artists and cautionary tales, had they not been killed yesterday?

I feel heartsick for their families, and I am glad to be Australian today, where the overwhelming voices of our politicians and public speakers confirms that we are not cruel. We believe in redemption. We have compassion for the fact that people can make mistakes, and we believe that they can change. We are willing to operate within the grey area. We do not kill.

With all respect for the sovereignty of Indonesa, and the irrefutable fact that these two boys broke its laws and should be subject to their legal system, the death penalty is barbaric and utterly pointless. Joko Widodo had the opportunity to demonstrate compassion and vision this week, and he chose, instead, to kill.

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Vale, Andrew and Myuran. May your deaths be a catalyst for change to this brutal system.

A Letter To The Pregnants: Don’t Panic!

Johnsons Baby Oil Powder ad, 1947

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, January 2015

Dear Mums,

This letter is for those of you contemplating life at home with babies and wondering how in the name of holy guacamole you are going to handle it. Maybe you are at work reading this, resting a cup of tea on your handy belly-shelf while you wrap up reports and handover documents, preparing for maternity leave. Maybe you are reading this in hospital, a little shell-shocked and hormonal after labour, sewn up from bum-crack to breakfast-time, and not quite able to believe that the tiny person in your arms is really truly here, and not just one of those wild third-trimester dreams.

I hear you. That transition from being a capable lady-person, busy with work and life and friends, to housebound-mama-on-duty  is nuts. It’s like one day, you’re eating rock oysters and dancing to Macklemore on a bar-top at 4am and the next, you’re hiding in the laundry eating cooking chocolate and crying. The speed of the life –shift is enough to give you emotional whiplash. But I’m writing this letter to tell you that leaky nipples and sleepless nights are only part of the story. They are the high-drama parts. That’s why mothers like me talk about them more.

But there’s another truth too – that life at home with kids can be a deeply grounding experience. Creative, peaceful and full of small joys. Mums, you might be feeling panicky about the massive lifestyle change that lies ahead. You might feel that your full and complex  life will shrink to nappies and onesies and breastfeeding apps, and it will, for a while, but then it will expand again, and you’ll be a richer woman for it.

You will be connected to other mothers everywhere, which taps you into your compassionate self, and you will find new worlds open to you, socially and emotionally. You will find time for your old interests again, and you will appreciate them more. (For instance, people at Life Drawing speak in full sentences and only very occasionally vomit on you.)  Plus, you will never look back from your discovery of the elasticated waist.

As a Mum, you’ll create an entirely unique and idiosyncratic family life that will look like no other home on earth.  That ‘soft place to fall’ that you build will have a culture, language, diet and energy unlike anywhere else in the world, and it will be the first place that your children imprint onto their hearts. Perhaps you will work full-time, or part time, or not outside the home at all. Perhaps you will have a strong partner.  Maybe you will go it alone.

In every case, the work that you do as a Mum – - all the cooking, the cleaning, the listening, the planning – will at times feel transient , repetitive and frustrating, but all those small, everyday actions will add up to a larger, indescribably beautiful  picture of love and support. It is hard work, it is a long game, but it is rewarding, in the deepest, most important parts of you. (Not the spleen.)

It seems crazy now, but one day that tiny person in your arms will tell you their worries, refuse to eat your lasagne and make fun of your dancing, maybe all in one conversation. Mums, you are entering a beautiful new world. Don’t panic.

Love Rachael

Ps – Buy wet wipes. You can never have too many.

Three Small Children Walk Into A Restaurant

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, December 2014

Teenage delinquents, 1930

We’ve got this saying in our family that we call ‘Pulling a Mamma Mia’. It dates from the year my mum thought that the flamboyant ABBA themed chick flick by the same name would be fun for the extended family to watch after Christmas lunch. The male side of the family gang included (with all respect) a rev-head, a scientist, a footy tragic and a grumpy septuagenarian. It did not go well. One by one, the men left in disgust, and ever since, a ‘Mamma Mia’ is the name we call any situation where your hopes and dreams are unlikely to be borne out in reality.

Road trips with small children, for instance? Mamma Mia. Fancy all-white outfit on a two- year-old?  Mamma Mia. Any event that keeps the kids up after bedtime? Mamma Mia. Classically, a Mamma Mia ends in tears (definitely the children’s, and likely the parents too.)

Sadly, taking my three kids under eight to a restaurant is a total Mama Mia for me. I love the idea of this so much. Unfortunately, there is a large gulf between how I imagine a family restaurant outing, and the noisy, weepy, shameful reality of the thing.

Recently we stopped at a little Japanese joint for dinner on the way home from a party in the city. It had already been a long day, we had an hour’s drive ahead, and the best idea would have been some sort of takeaway in the car.

But I don’t get out much, and when I spied this little Japanese restaurant, it seemed perfect. My husband Keith was skeptical, but when he saw the Mamma Mia fervour burning in my eyes, he conceded. In we trotted, the five of us; kids aged seven, five and three, hopped up on party sugar and skating on the emotional edge of impending bedtime and big-city excitement.

It went downhill fast. The kids lolled and dangled over their chairs like chimpanzees. They moaned and whinged. They insisted on using the chopsticks but wailed when every mouthful fell off en route to their faces. Sadly, nobody was giving our table admiring glances.  In fact, other customers seemed to avoiding eye contact altogether.

The three year old, who is obsessed with new toilets, insisted we visit the loo and kept me in there, standing by her throne, insisting ‘I not finiched,’ for ten minutes, as she sang ‘Everything is Awesome’ to herself and swung her legs. Everything was not awesome.

Back at the table, the tired and sensitive seven year old was trying to force green vegetables in her mouth. She could see that Mum and Dad were stressed out, and I could see that she was going to choke. It wasn’t ideal. Five year old T-Bone was creating peak mess, surrounded by a circle of rice and seaweed and trying to drink through three straws threaded together. At least little Pudding looks cute perched up at her chair, I thought, and turned to see her with her hands down her pants. ‘I touching my gina!’ she informed the room, with delight and pride, at the top of her voice.

It cost us fifty bucks and ten minutes down the road the whinging began from the back seat. ‘I’m hungry Mama. What’s for dinner?’ Oh, man. Mamma Mia.

Shirley Temple gif from Buzzfeed.

honest school notes #6

Dear Office,

I know that school holidays have begun, and so this note may be a little bit late. Are you still there, Office?

The end of term was a little stressful again.

The children keep demanding food, and more food, and more food, until I feel like a short-order cook with a terrible Workplace Agreement.

The mornings start well (this is a lie) but very quickly it all goes wrong.

I just can’t quite reach where I need to be.

I get there in the end, but the method is strange and awkward.

My methods are degrading for the children too.

Not that they notice. They are often engaged in some kind of inventive sibling warfare anyway.

They frequently employ the phrase ‘penis-gina’. Also ‘Fly me to Poo-Poo Land.’

Last week, T-Bone even came in the room with a handful of undies, threw them in the air and shouted ‘It’s a Panty Festival!” Yes, he used that word. It was like he kicked me right in my soft underbelly.

Feeding, washing and wrestling these kids off to school in the last week of term feels like battling through jelly. I think I’ve got one all clean and packed up, and another paints their shirt with a  handful of Vegemite. At least I hope it is Vegemite. And through it all, I wail like a hopeless balladeer:  ’Where is your reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaader???’

Compounding the situation, my back hurts.

And then: menses.


Office, all I want to do is complain to my mother on the phone.

And maybe get out for the night with my friends.

Just an innocent night out.

Blow off a little steam.

Recharge for the term ahead.

A term in which, Office, I promise to be organised, efficient and punctual.

Until then, my apologies (again.)


Ms McIntosh

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5


Only Three Hotties Can Help Me Now

Oh dear.



These noises are brought to you from endoscopic sinus surgery. All is well, as planned, no problems, but eurrghghghgh. Plurghghgh. Orghghg.  I permanently have that burning sensation of having water up my nose; and it’s not a pain that medication helps. Tomorrow I’m having the plastic stents that are still in my sinuses removed, and I’m hoping that will be the turning point.

In the meantime I am turning to three hotties in the hope that they hold the power to distract and heal me.

First: Pa Ingalls. Suspenders, no shirt.

Second: a fiery glance from Christopher Plummer.

Finally, the last straw. The big guns:  if sax solos, red crotch-roses and Rod Stewart  loosening his oversized bow tie won’t help me, nothing will;  and ps- if this is not the best three minutes of your day, I don’t think we have anything in common any more.

(Christopher Plummer dedicated to my mother in law Liz, and Rod to my darling friend Sally.)