My So Charmed Life

A Photographic Essay on Jersey Shore Cheese Fries. In Reverse. Or, How to Feed Five Hungry Children a Nutritional (Remember, Potatoes ARE a Vegetable and Are You Questioning My Parenting??) Lunch (Breakfast & Dinner Too!) for Under $5!



7 minutes and 45 seconds into today’s cheese fry experience (yes, this is daily, sometimes twice daily) we have evidence of total decimation. Now let’s back up shall we, and see what happened. Who is responsible? How did they do it?!

For Ethan, it’s all about quantity, dude.


Bess, a bona fide cheese fry connoisseur, takes a serious approach to savoring the cheese. And the fry.

Alex, youngest but possibly boldest cheese fryer of the bunch, mixes a little sand in (see chin for details) for that truly optimal beach cuisine experience.

The olfactory angle must not be ignored, as shown by Molly. Remember, sniff your fries!


Jake, a Jersey Shore cheese fry expert, knows that licking the grease and salt from one’s fingers is mandatory.


With 5 hungry kids on deck (you’d be hungry too if you were digging giant holes in the sand all day), you can’t grab those fries fast enough.


Ahhhh, the goods. A gooey box ‘o fries (the CHEESIEST ), piping hot and fresh from the Snack Shack, Ocean City, NJ. Yum yum!

Rosebud G. Kowalski, RIP


Our beloved cat, Rosebud, died yesterday at our home, after several months of a serious, gradually debilitating, but undiagnosed illness. She is lovingly survived by her mom (me), her sister, Molly Bess, Molly’s dad Glenn K., and many friends who loved her. The painting above, by the incredibly brilliant and talented Carrie Mitchell of San Francisco, CA, serves as a deliciously ironic and cherished memory of Rosie in the bloom of her health and plumpy devilishness.

Burial was held on the grounds at Darwin Avenue in Takoma Park, behind Rosebud’s favorite pink azalea bush… beneath which she spent many beautiful sunny days, and quite a few summer nights in peaceful contentment (but with one eye open). A bouquet of roses was provided by our neighbor and a proper gravemarker is in the making. Rosebud was buried with her favorite feather toy, and a small bag of Meow Mix, in case her next incarnation is again feline. If you ask me though, Rosebud’s spirit will return to this world as a dangerously beautiful super model.

Rosebud (nickname: Rosebud Scissorpaws) was a very special kitty. She was born on a farm in Pennsylvania and came into our lives 16 years ago during a Sunday trip to the Takoma Farmer’s Market. We went for tomatoes, and came home with a kitten. Never fully a domesticated housecat per se, Rosebud remained fiercely independent throughout her life, a quality that could be frustrating, but which we ultimately admired greatly. She came to love and trust but a few humans, and those of us she allowed into her circle were treated to many hours of playfulness and snuggling, along with the occasional bite or scratch out of sheer orneriness. Rosebud was in charge and she never let us forget that.

Some of Rosie’s most awesome accomplishments were: Protecting our house from other cats, viciously fighting them off with pride and valour, shredding a valuable antique 1940’s cut-velvet sofa to smithereens, hunting prey–mice and moles, primarily–and depositing these gifts on the walkway to our home, as well as occasionally on the floor by our beds, and maintaining her undeniable beauty well into old age without the assistance of expensive products or surgeries! For these things, and so many others, Rosebud will be fondly remembered in our thoughts and hearts.

Rest in peace, dearest Rosebud… and see you on the catwalk!


The Lord Has Chossen (sic) You as a Vessel


When I stumbled to my computer this morning, pre-coffee, can you imagine just how very excited I was to find the above-referenced email from one Agnes Samuel there in my inbox? If you can’t, let me tell you, I was soooo happy.

I know this will come as a surprise to some of you out there who don’t know any people of the Jewish faith… but we are not a “Messianic” group. Yes, this means we really do not accept Jesus as The Savior, or the son of God, or anything, and really, please stop wasting your valuable prayers on us; it’s not going to change our minds. We are a stubborn people!

Some would say we are a patient people. See, while most of you are awaiting your second helping of Messianic pie, we await our first. Some of us are more bogged down by this whole waiting-for-the-Messiah-thing than others, and I admit to not being one (of the bogged).

That said, imagine my surprise and delight to find this email (amongst all that Satanic porn spam), as titled above: The Lord Has Chossen You as a Vessel. I hadn’t had my jolt of java yet, so I had to do a bleary-eyed double take… but yes, it appeared that I had indeed been selected. To be. The Lord’s Vessel!!!!!!!! Holy, um, mother of GOD! SHUT UP!!!! Me? Really? Are you, like, yanking my Jewish chain or something?

While I was envisioning a night of hot hot sex with the Lord (you know, so I could be the Vessel and my people could finally be alleviated of all this Messiah stress), I clicked open the mail to get the deets. For example, what would the Lord prefer me to be wearing on this night of our passionate love, etc? Or (and I’m crossing my fingers, please Lord say it ain’t so) is it going to be one of those boring immaculate conceptions? BUMMER!

But wait, this had nothing to do with sex or the messiah at all! Turns out, Agnes (of God? With such spelling issues?) it seems, only wished for me (a God-fearing Christian or maybe even a Moslem [sic]) to accept a tidy sum of $27.6 million dollars which her late husband has somehow managed to get hopelessly tied-up with “the Security & Finance company.” She is indeed ready to deposit this sum into my bank account and only awaits hearing back from me with my account info.

Sex be damned, I’ll take the money! And with that, I bid you adieu, as I must hurry and write to Agnes before she makes this incredible offer available to some other Vessel.

Who knew getting rich could be so easy?!

BTW, as Vessel of the Lord, I shall be hiring a secretary who will answer all of your emails concerning the above Blessing.

Thank you.

And SHUT UP!!!

Why They Call Them Hermit Crabs



I am not, in general, a fan of caged pets of any kind… be they rabbits, gerbils, birds or whatever. It never seems right to me, and living with such a situation would keep me awake at night wracked with animal-rights guilt. So why on earth did I ever agree to become the landlord for a sad-sack bunch of crustaceans? Answer below.

Despite my own moral/ethical dilemmas, there are a few things I end up doing just because the look on my kid’s face will wrack me with worse guilt than having caged pets in my home. I suspect this is the reason most caged pets end up living out their sad-sack lives in suburban homes and backyards all across America. Which doesn’t really make it any better does it?

Such was the case last summer at Rehoboth Beach. Dear readers, I’ll spare you the whiny details, the begging, cajoling and PhD-level manipulation that lead to my purchasing not one, but three crustaceans, and not some dinky mini handbag-sized cage, but the full-on super deluxe Hermit Crab Condo, complete with Egyptian pyramid (a wise decision) and various hippie-dippie hand-painted shells the crabs could move into when they felt inspired to do so (hasn’t happened yet), plus peripherals: hella-bright dayglo stones (something tells me that whoever conceived of the idea of Hermit Crabs as pets was, you know, “on something”), 2 jars of specialized food, spray bottle, driftwood and a Hermie Hut which turned out to be a yet another handpainted hippie-affair, a half-coconut shell with door cleverly carved into it.

We have since cleared half this crap out of the Hermit condo because there was no room for them to walk an inch, but that doesn’t matter really. Because all these creatures do is sleep (see title of post). That is, unless you rudely awaken them (they spend 100% of their time hanging out in the freaking pyramid) which you must do daily in order to spray them or they’ll dry out, and that is just too hideous to imagine. After you bother the heck out of them they will “enjoy” a period of wakefulness for about 7-10 seconds before lumbering back into the pyramid for more of what they love best: Hermitting, Hermitage, Hermittance. I hate waking them up. But it’s the only way to make sure they haven’t kicked the bucket.


The death of a hermit crab is something you never want to experience. One of the three we brought home only lasted about 10 days. I hesitate to share this in any great detail. It was gross, slimy, stinky and sad. It depressed me for weeks. It depresses me just thinking about it and will haunt me for the rest of my life. I suppose an argument could be made that there is something dreadfully wrong with me. I’m TOO SENSITIVE to own pets. Even, or especially, crustaceans.

The fact is, they are extremely fascinating critters and despite everything, I sort of love them. They have this one freaky bigass claw in front, the cutest eyeballs, and you can actually have fun watching them haul butt across the floor or carpet. They move surprisingly lightening fast. They are comical and pretty sweet, unless they get become agitated and pinch you. This produces mad pain and will find you racing for the nearest sink to run your hand (or god forbid other body part) under cold water… the only way to make them raise the white flag and let go. After this happened once (early on, before I understood the limit of their desire for acrobatics) Molly decided she’d pretty much had plenty enough of caring for the crustaceans.

They now fall solely under my jurisdiction. They can die in 10 days or live for 20 years. Parents, be warned.

PS: The Chicken’s Name Is…



Isn’t that the BEST?! If you’ve been reading this blog, you know the very chicken I’m referring to. If not, see January, about mid-month. After sending a link to Terry, the director of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, she emailed and reminded me of my plump little friend’s name. I can’t wait to visit Sylvia next Fall. Join us there!

Nancy was So Minty Cool



Living here in DC means living at ground zero in so many ways and when I’m feeling superficial (which as you know is quite often), fashion tops the list. Fashion in DC pretty much sucks. Unless you like sensible pumps and Ann Taylor Loft. (Ok, so I actually did buy something there recently, guilty as charged! It was a very low shopping moment indeed so please, I beg you NEVER to mention it again).

For example, have you ever noticed the totally hideous colors worn by political women, be they elected officials or wives of same? At last night’s televised State ‘o Union soiree, it was just the usual dreadful sea of garishly over-saturated reds, blues and a spattering of other silly crayola hues that I’ve heard described as “jewel tones.” Is there a meaning to this? Is it like some patriotic thing? Does bright red from head to toe mean you’ll kick some ass if anyone messes with you (or your husband)? ICK!

Yet there, in the midst of all the scary bright predictable hues was Nancy Pelosi. Along with being a superhero, she’s super attractive (note I didn’t say “for a woman her age” b/c we women of a certain age are sticking together, right Nance?) with a smile that can light up the Hill, and that’s saying something; trust me on this one. Watching her up there on the old podium made me feel so proud and hopeful, politically, and fashionistically.

So, to get to my point… I think it was verrrrrrrry purposeful, savvy, and quite gorgeously hip that Nancy opted out of that whole Power Red thing, selecting instead a very pretty, minty cool, palest green suit.

Can you say: Breath of fresh air? Yeah, dudes. Nancy is so minty cool.



Subtitle: An Everyday Washington, DC Experience

Speaking of cake (see previous post), winter finally arrived here in the nation’s capital and with it came the annual hoards of right-to-lifers-I-mean-fruitcakes, having descended upon our sweet city in order to celebrate-I-mean-protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I happened to be on the subway on my way to a client meeting, having what can only be described as a pretty blue Monday, when what should I see but dozens and dozens of fresh (if incredibly blank) faced youth and their leaders… a couple of priests in fully bizarre regalia: Those black religious looking coats with the white nehru collars… what do you call those? AND… strung around their necks these horrific life-size fire-engine-red stop sign-shaped placquards, which read in big white lettering: STOP KILLING BABIES.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Feeling the heat rise up my neck and into my face, with a sick feeling sloshing around my stomach, a weird suffocating sort of claustrophobic and hard-to-breathe feeling, which I suspect is the way it naturally feels when one’s freedom(s) is/are threatened, I began to formulate many brilliant, if illegal, plans for counter-insurgency ranging from quiet argument (is this what you think Jesus REALLY wants you to be spending time doing?) to loud argument (F-YOU, YOU FREAKING IDIOTS) to vandalism (with magic marker, how about: YOU STOP MAKING BABIES?!) to outright violence (ugh, I am loathe to admit and will thus spare you the details, simply call it: Welcome to Jodi’s Abu Graib).

In the end, I just sat there, feeling sick and smothered and hot and itchy-scratchy in my wool coat. I tried to think about people in my life who I know feel the same way as the protestors, people who I love and to whom I want to express nothing short of complete tolerance, and upon whom I wish no harm (yet, can’t I still keep my freedom to choose? Please?).

So, I kept my big fat atheistic secular humanistic Jew mouth shut. Of course that didn’t make me feel so good either and only served to make my stomach REALLY hurt.

A lose-lose situation if ever there was.

Happy Happy Blog Blog


Birthday DetailHere’s a sweet piece of triple layer strawberry chocolate kiwi cake from one of my latest works of jewelry art to welcome you (and me) to My So Charmed Life, ahem, the blog. I don’t know about you, but cake just makes me feel better when I’m nervous and this whole blogging thing has me all twittery and jittery and excited. So… here goes… I’m bloggin’ on with my bad self. Cake and all.

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