Valentine’s Day and the Naked Sauna

Valentine’s Day and the Naked Sauna

Sometimes February gets a bad rap. I remember my Seminary teacher telling us one gloomy February that more Seminary teachers commit suicide in February than any other month. I still wonder if actual studies have been done on suicide rates among Mormon Seminary teachers, although I realize now that she was probably just making a point about how much she was not enjoying getting up at 5:30 every weekday morning to teach grumpy, sleepy, inattentive teenagers.

Still, February isn’t the most advantageously positioned month. It’s cold, dark, and dreary. All the nice things about winter, like endless cups of tea or curling up by the fire or wearing cute hats and scarves, are getting old, and all the nasty things, like lack of sunshine, excessive precipitation of whatever sort, and being sick, are feeling interminable. In fact, since the beginning of the year almost everyone I know here, whether at work, home, my kids’ school, or just random acquaintances, has been sick at least once. I had a cold that lasted two weeks, and left me hoarse and coughing for another two.

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Amsterdam SAIL

Amsterdam SAIL

Considering its geography and topography, it’s no surprise that the Netherlands is a country of mariners. During the 17th century, it had the largest navy in the world, as well as an economy built around the commerce of its major port cities. And although a series of Anglo-French alliances eventually put an end to Dutch military dominance of the sea, Rotterdam is still the biggest port in Europe. Today Amsterdam has a beautiful (and very much used) network of historic canals. There’s one that runs right near our house, in fact, and it’s a lovely place for picnics. And I never go out there without this charming quote from The Wind in the Willows running through my head:

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The Canal Parade

The Canal Parade

Ever since we moved to Amsterdam, people have been telling us about the famous canal parade that happens every August in celebration of Pride week. This place loves an excuse for a party, and as city renowned for its tolerance and open-mindedness, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam celebrates Gay Pride with panache and gusto. There are all-night street parties and other events for days before and after, but the main attraction is the canal parade on Saturday afternoon.

Accordingly, we arrived a good hour and a half or so before the parade was to begin. The crowds were already packed along the parade route, but we managed to find a spot on a bridge (we’d been informed that bridges offered the best view), almost in the front. We settled the kids with their legs dangling off the bridge under one of the giant hanging flower baskets. Yes, I did give more than a passing thought to the idea that they might fall in the canal, but no, it didn’t prevent me from allowing it.

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David Tennant – Elsewhere

The last time I had a celebrity crush this bad was when we lived in Ireland. I got really sick, and spent a week in bed watching Darren Hayes music videos. I still love me some Savage Garden, but I’m (mostly) over Darren Hayes, although I can never get tired of listening to “The Animal Song.”

Things are much worse this time. Even re-watching the three David Tennant seasons of Doctor Who with Tony (and then again with Axa) is not enough to give me my David Tennant fix these days. So I’ve had to branch out. I was initially worried that seeing him play anything other than a 945-year-old Time Lord would be somehow disillusioning. Fortunately, David Tennant is versatile enough to be brilliant no matter what he’s doing (or what he’s wearing). Here’s what I’ve been watching him in lately:

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Deep Breath (Spoilers, of Course)

When I found out that Deep Breath, the premier episode of Doctor Who, Season 8 would be showing in theaters, I was over the moon. The only bad thing was that for whatever reason (long-delayed British revenge for the Boston Tea Party?) it wasn’t screened until a full 48 hours after it had been shown in Britain. So I did my best to stay off social media in the meantime to avoid being hit by spoilers in one of the six different Doctor Who Facebook groups to which I belong.

However, the long-awaited day did dawn at last. I picked up our babysitter on my way home from work, and felt a little guilty that she was babysitting for our kids while we went to Doctor Who when I found out that she’s a fan too. Such are the vicissitudes of being a teenage babysitter, I guess. I remember thinking that most of the things the parents I babysat for as a teenager were doing sounded more fun than staying home with their kids too.

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My Imaginary Well-Dressed Dog

If you can’t wait to meet My Imaginary Well-Dressed Dog, I just gave you the link, so go ahead. But if you’d like the explanation, here it is:

I think most of us have had at least some exposure to that reservoir of superlative fantasy, home of improbable D.I.Y. projects, and well of inexhaustible mommy-guilt that is Pinterest. Usually, it’s not really my thing. As you know, my style for birthday parties fits better under the “lazy parent” category than the “Pinterest perfect” one. And I’m not one to seek out unsolicited reminders of how awesome I could be if I only dedicated myself to the full-time creation and beautification of cupcakes, party invitations, and other crafty delights.

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A Word From Our Readers, Episode 3

What with the death of Hugo Chavez, the Syrian refugee count reaching 1 million, the coming drone apocalypse, and everything else depressing in the world, we all really need something to cheer us up. So here are my top picks from the last six months of search engine queries that have landed people at Casteluzzo. I notice that among other things, I seem to have become quite a versatile authority on some esoteric facets of pet ownership.

“coffee table repurposed to hold rabbit cage”
“homemade dog cage out of cardboard boxes”
“goat gyms”
“epic rat cages”

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Goodbye to February

It should not be possible to get the February doldrums in Florida. But I am ready to say goodbye to last month, and feeling like I’m falling apart. I suppose part of it was having a house full of guests the week of Axa’s baptism, not to mention a trip to Disneyworld the day before. Somehow, I ended up on Saturday morning making several dozen mini-muffins whilst simultaneously ironing Axa’s baptism dress, practicing our special musical number, putting the finishing touches on my talk, and loading the car up with a million and one different things for the baptism. I’m surprised I forgot to do as few things as I did.

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A Word from Our Readers, Episode 2

Yes, it’s time again to let our readers weigh in on which topics are most important to them. Here are highlights of the last several months of internet searches landing people on this blog, along with my best attempts at response.

“danger of hubbly bubbly”

Sadly, yes, it’s at least as bad for you as cigarettes. And no, not kosher for Mormons.

“are fake plant cheesy in my livimvg room”

Yes, yes, and thrice yes.

“book called climbing purmesscus”

I’ve never climbed purmesscus, but it sounds kind of putrid, miasmic and viscous.

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