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”
“epic rat cages”
You overestimate my inventiveness, as well as my menagerie.
“brut cologne out of date”
No way! It’s still very much da mode. See also: “infatuated with his smell”
“$150,000 worth of jelly beans”
Thanks. You shouldn’t have.
“christmas turkey wrapped in bacon”
Yes, I did. It tasted like 14 pounds of bacon.
“bacon wrapped dove”
I think this might be taking the concept a little too far . . .
“how to draw a sugar glider”
Good luck! I can’t even get a non-blurry photo of one.
“what is the best way to create a roller coaster with at least three hills and one loop that can transport a marble at least 2 meters from start to finish”
Why do people keep asking me this question?
“artificial spanish fir x-mas tree with raindrops”
Raindrops? Really? That’s a whole new dimension of flocked.
“motorbike sidecar” or “motorcycle sidecar” erotic film italy dead mother”
Um. I’m not sure if this film is really my style. Anyone else?
“can sugar glider eat ice cream”
“can sugar glider eat pepperoni”
“can sugar gliders eat popcorn”
No, no, and no! Please feed your sugar glider responsibly.
“people steal my trash in deltona”
“hot american kissing”
Well, we’re American. And we’re hot. And we kiss. So yes. I guess.
“baby rabbit mask glasses diapers”
“creating a government for a marooned island people”
Is this some kind of political reality show?
“is it possible to take my sugar glider to school in secret?”
Looks like yes: “kid has sugar glider in pocket at school”
“dining room is not” buddha
Neither is my dining room. I’m sure the feng shui is off too.
“mushroom growing in bathroom natural conditions”
I don’t even want to know.
“i sometimes cook i always clean the bathroom i almost never clean the kitchen”
Look, I think we’ve had enough housekeeping confessions.
“praying mantis for sale in philippines”
Any takers? I hear they make great pets, and keep the bug population down too.
“green banana fitted with a stand and decorated” and “i capricorn i dream of papaya what it means”
I think it might mean that you should lay off on the exotic fruit snacking before bed.
graphic courtesy of wordle
March 7, 2013 1 Comment
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.
It was all great fun and a smashing success, but I ended the week feeling as if I’d been run over by a train. And that was two and a half weeks ago. Have I yet recovered? Probably not, judging by the fact that I have read the entire Twilight saga one and a half times during the past two weeks (not to mention catching up on all the corresponding films), and not even opened a single other book. On my informal personal scale of mental stability (measured in descending order by whether I’m reading cerebral nonfiction, classic literature, or fantasy novels), that gives me a score of something approaching survival mode.
So, I am very late to the Twilight party. But why do people hate these books? I mean, do they seriously not remember being seventeen? The incredible angst? The romance? The social awkwardness? The awakening sexual tension? The deep, cosmically charged relationships?
I originally avoided reading Twilight mostly because I read Interview With a Vampire as a teenager, and ended up pretty traumatized. I found it creepy, violent, twisted and nightmare inducing (maybe I would give it a kinder review now?). The genius of Twilight is that the whole down and dirty of being a vampire (and you know, actually sucking people’s blood) stays mostly in the background, lending a dark, exotic ambiance to a light but passionately felt teenage romantic fantasy. I am reading it on my Kindle, and the most hilarious thing is that the very cheesiest and most syrupy sentimental lines are the ones that people have highlighted five hundred times.
Anyway, tomorrow Tony and I are going to watch Breaking Dawn: Part 2. It was supposed to be shown at an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by woods, which I thought was a pretty perfect setting for a vampire movie. But this being Florida, when the weather forecast came in at “extremely cold” (i.e. less than 60 degrees for the evening), they moved the showing indoors. Oh, well. It’s still a great way to say goodbye to the month of February.
March 1, 2013 1 Comment
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.
“can two people teach each other a new language”
Well . . . I guess maybe if you put them alone in a room together with no T.V.
“is donkey milk tasty”
Never tried it. Let me know when you find out.
Well you know, I don’t think my blog makes it sound as bad as all that.
No, it wasn’t an atheist, just a mad dictator.
“saturn mormon theology”
You’ve got me there. We haven’t gotten to Saturn yet in our Sunday School class.
“a world revolving around sex and food”
Ha. Don’t I wish.
“what should i learn from the ticktockman”
Well, all I really need to know I learned from Ticktockman. (gentle sentimental sigh)
“cockroach farm photo”
I don’t even want to know.
“does breast feeding ruin your breasts”
“homemade goat jungle gym”
Tutorial here. Just kidding. You’re on your own.
“information mural painted with glow in the dark paints”
Because information is just as important in the dark.
lyrics “i was sitting in the park” “watching the children”
Ooh, catchy catchy. I think you’ve got something there.
“healthy cinnamon scroll, snail, roll”
Even better. We are totally rockin’ it out here.
Now, that’s just a little confrontational, don’t you think?
“florida bugs what is making those messy webs in my screened porch” and “lately i have many palmetto bugs inside my air conditioned home in south fl”
I feel your pain. Florida is, well, Florida.
“want to beat spider phobia?”
“pics of fungi that live in the sahara desert”
I don’t think it’s the most fertile mushroom hunting ground.
“how many people have been sucked out of their home through a skylight”
“what if darth vader’s injuries healed”
Then maybe he and Luke could have another go at ruling the galaxy together as father and son.
“i dream that i go to a house where i’ve never lived”
Hey, I have that dream too! It recurrently comes true.
September 18, 2012 2 Comments
According to Wikipedia, “the role of pheromones in human behavior remains speculative and controversial.”
However, years ago I read this interesting article on a blog about the role our noses play in physical attraction. The author talks about a guy she dated in high school, who was a perfect match, except that he smelled wrong. It wasn’t that he had stinky socks, or had forgotten to take a shower. His personal smell just repelled her. It didn’t matter what cologne or deodorant he used. She couldn’t stand his smell, and eventually broke up with him.
My ears totally pricked up when I read that, because I’d had a similar experience as a teenager with a young man who will remain nameless. I never confessed to my male friend that I couldn’t abide the way he smelled. But it was true. I liked everything else about him, but I found his smell completely repellent. I always thought I was a little crazy, until I read the article above.
Conversely, I adore the way my husband smells. He thinks it’s weird, and would rather that I gushed over his hot physique, high power sales skills, or rapier wit, but sometimes when I’m sitting next to him I can’t help just leaning over, resting my nose on the back of his neck, and inhaling. I can smell his smell on his shirts, even after he washes them. And when he’s not here I like to sleep with his pillow, just because it smells so nice.
The author of the article went on to extrapolate that perhaps our olfactory cells are attracted to the smell of someone whose genes are compatible with ours. As far as that goes, here’s the proof that our genes are eminently compatible:
But Tony has a different explanation for my infatuation with his scent. On an international flight when he was in junior high, his airplane “care package” included a trial-size bottle of Brut cologne. From then on, he wore it on every first date. Fortunately, when he first asked me out ten years later, he hadn’t made it through the bottle yet. So he was wearing Brut cologne on our first date, and credits it (as well as his hot physique, high power sales skills, and rapier wit, of course) with the fact that we were married just six months later.
As we were leaving on our honeymoon, he gifted the little bottle of Brut to his best man. Sure enough, he too was engaged within six months, also to a woman named Sarah. No doubt the Brut has been passed on again, and has probably resulted in multiple other instances of marital bliss.
In any case, whether it’s due to his natural scent, or his bottle of Brut, the way to this woman’s heart is definitely through her nose. I’m curious to know about you, my readers. Are you attracted to the smell of your significant other? Or am I just weird?
photo credit: Brut
September 16, 2012 7 Comments
Yes, I’m in love. It’s hard to imagine a time when Merry and Pippin didn’t belong to our family. I carry them nearly everywhere with me, snuggled and sleeping in what looks to the uninitiated like an innocent little purse. In the evenings, Tony and I (and sometimes Axa) go out on the back porch and watch them climbing up and down the screens.
When we first got them, I would spend a couple of hours every night in a tent with them. They are so inquisitive and hyperactive that in the enclosed space they couldn’t help running all over me, and taking little flying leaps into my hair. Once they seemed fairly comfortable, I took them out to the screened in porch. They love it, and act like they’re in a jungle gym. They can even walk upside down, hanging by their claws from the ceiling. Every few minutes, they either leap or scurry down to check in with me, running up my leg and then over my shoulder to my back, and then back over the other shoulder and down the other leg.
And I’m slowly learning how to take photos of them. For example, here’s sweet Pippin, sitting on my knee.
I tried a lot of different camera settings, including the close-up, dusk, and museum options. The only one I really got to work was the “sport continuous” setting. Although without a flash, it has to make do with the available light in the room, it leaves the shutter open only briefly, and so sometimes manages to catch my little energy bursts. Although I still get a lot of photos that turn out as sugar ghosts.
And yes, Photoshop
is still my friend.
But I’ve also gotten some photos that are in focus enough to actually recognize. That’s progress.
My babies obviously take after me in the appreciation of fine music
They still feel most comfortable on me or on their cage, both of which feel like safe places, as well as being convenient for climbing.
But they like exploring the rest of the house too, and especially hiding under the couch cushions, where they would happily curl up and sleep all day if I weren’t afraid someone would sit on them.
I can’t possibly get enough of them. Just call me the sugar mamma.
September 6, 2012 2 Comments
Because I’m such a successful fashion blogger (not!), it doesn’t surprise me a bit that my daughter likes fashion too. Actually, I admit that she’s already way more fashionable than I’ve ever been. At least I can take credit for her first full year of fashion, though. Here she is ready to party on her first birthday:
That was more or less my last hurrah, since at about 18 months, her favorite phrase suddenly became “do it myself!” As in, “do it myself put on panties” (even though she could never figure out which way was up, and the panties invariably ended up being worn with both legs through one side, resulting in a lot of very stretched-out panties). Other favored “do it myselfs” included “do it myself pick my clothes,” or “do it myself cut up that apple with the very sharp knife.” You get the picture.
A year or so later, she went through a hilarious stage where she would put on as many layers of clothing on top of each other as possible, and then walk into our bedroom in the morning laughing and barely able to move.
At four, she decided that layers were once again a la mode, but kept it to one short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved shirt (and sometimes shorts over pants too). Interestingly enough, Raj is now doing the same layering thing, although I sometimes have to send him in to take off a layer to avoid heatstroke in the Florida summer.
Now, at the age of seven, the thing that fascinates me about Axa’s fashion sense is her clever and sophisticated use of available materials. Case in point:
Dress: polarfleece blankie given to her as a baby, draped up her back lengthwise and then strategically knotted in the front.
Crown: aluminium foil over cardboard, present from Raj.
Belt: Out of a big box of clothes from the cousins.
And here’s that same outfit, dressed up with satin fabric out of my sewing box and a necklace from Tunisia.
Most of her outfits have utility as part of her games. For example, here she is with Raj, and she’s dressed them both as spies, ready for some alpine winter (ready minus the ubiquitous bare feet, that is):
Hats, scarves and gloves: courtesy of Grammy
Coat: The cousins’ box
Goggles: Swiped from the beach bag
Thing hanging down at the bottom of Axa’s coat: her beloved blanket, made for her as a baby by Grandma Betty
Here she is wearing just the baby blanket:
And look! It’s reversible, for a more casual hippie look.
Axa’s latest fashion success was precipitated by a really awesome hat she made at nature camp. Behold!
Hat: Recycled Newspaper
Pinwheel Flower: Recycled 1/2 liter bottle
Shirt: Gift from Grammy
Skirt: Made by Grandma Betty
Bandanna: from a recently attended pirate birthday party
Necklace and bracelets: hand-strung by Axa
My little girl is growing up!
August 6, 2012 2 Comments
Guess what came out of my mailbox today? My copy of Bridges, the alumni magazine for Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center for International Studies. And guess what I found on page 14? An article about the Tunisian Revolution. Written by me.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably already heard what I have to say about Tunisia. But if you think it’s as cool as I think it is to see my name in print, you can access the online version here.
March 20, 2012 4 Comments
One of the fun things about having a blog is seeing which search terms lead people to Casteluzzo.
I had no idea I was an “authority” on so many bizarre topics. Whenever I need a good laugh, I just open up my google analytics. So here, for your reading pleasure and edification, is a somewhat annotated list of some of the latest queries.
“why can’t people eat non newtonian fluids”
Because they come from another dimension. Also, the mouth-feel is too chalky.
“how to pronounce grishnakh”
“weirdos outside buckingham palace”
It wasn’t me!
“tooth paste in fasting”
Yes, you are allowed to eat toothpaste. Not mouthwash, though.
“cartoon picture of sitting on overstuffed suitcase to close it”
That’s not funny.
“Assad big bird”
Yes, look for the year’s most notorious dictator on Sesame Street.
“why mormons love halloween”
Yeah, really. You tell me.
“bloopers in cultural”
“sarah familia” feminist
However did you guess?
“create a roller coaster with at least three hills and one loop that can transport a marble at least 2 meters from start to finish”
I’m hoping this is a trick question.
“children jumping in the air”
Yes, that pretty much describes my house.
“i just realized my soggiorno expired today what will happen”
Welcome to Italy. You will be vaporized. But if you really want to know . . .
“repent harlequin said the ticktockman jelly beans run on sentences”
Yes, I think that qualifies as a run-on sentence.
“ball of wax evil demon”
I think, therefore I am.
“from the mixed up files of mrs basil e frankweiler what color was their laundry after it came out of the machine”
The same color as your laundry would be if you washed it all together.
“chowking philippines cockroach”
“i thought i could organise freedom how scandalous of me”
Yes, scandalous. Just scandalous.
“if i am a passenger riding a jeepney,and an accident happen,because the taxi hit the jeepney and then the bus bump to the tax…to whom will i ran after?”
Actually, after all that, I can’t really see you running anywhere.
“luke skywalker’s house plans,” ”картинки для программы light saber maker,” and “стильный darth vader”
Yes, Darth Vader is pretty much the height of fashion.
how public bathrooms spread from rome
Probably the same way everything else spread.
“all the red fruit in the world” and “aliens with thorns in their head”
Your guess is as good as mine.
“love jihad baby machines”
Um, no comment.
March 19, 2012 4 Comments
Each place seems to have a particular style when it comes to bumper stickers. In Utah, I mostly remember the kind that show off how many kids (and pets) people had, and a lot of “my child was student of the week . . .” When we spent a year in Washington during the Bush era, I saw endless variations on “War is not Pro-Life” and “A Village in Texas is Missing its Idiot.” Despite Italy’s low birthrate, the favorites there seemed to be the little yellow pseudo road signs suction-cupped to the window and proclaiming, “bebe a bordo.” Bumper stickers in San Diego are mostly anathema, due to everyone’s cars being too nice.
We’ve never had that problem, but we’ve never really been into bumper stickers either. Until now. Here’s our new (to us) car here in Florida:
No, it doesn’t appear to cry out for a bumper sticker on first blush. But if you look more closely, you’ll see the following:
In case you can’t read it, this remnant is evidence that our car used to look like this:
OK, well if not the car, at least the bumper sticker.
Now, there’s nothing particularly offensive about this sticker (and evidently our car’s original owner read it with a certain subtle and self-deprecating irony), but it’s not quite our style. It was apparently also not the style of the Sikh graduate student from whom we bought the car a month ago, and whose efforts at removing said sticker left it in its current unfortunate state. Tony and I also spent an hour or so with soap, water, and razor blades, without appreciable results.
So we’re left with plan B: put another bumper sticker on top of it. Here’s where you come in. What bumper sticker should we choose? The following poll is just a place to start. If it’s not on the list, feel free to tell me the best (G-rated) bumper sticker you’ve ever seen.
March 7, 2012 10 Comments
I absolutely cannot stop listening to this song, so I thought I’d share it with you. It is the official version, so you have to actually go to YouTube to watch it. But it’s worth it.
Fashionable Italian hippies recreating Woodstock in Amsterdam, and Laura Pausini by firelight. What’s not to love?
February 22, 2012 No Comments