Thursday, July 31, 2008

Egg heads

Just popping in to post a link to a Crooked Timber post. The writer has asked for suggestions for naming two chicks. The comments include Bleak House references. Now that's a bunch of overeducated commenters. I love it.

Yesterday was a dim day, I felt very pressed down by circumstance. Today is better even though circumstances haven't changed much. I am making progress on my work and home to do lists so maybe that's the improvement. Glad I'll be traveling soon. And glad that the rain, and thus our roof leak, has stopped.

Outlander was checked out, alas. I have picked up one of her secondary series - a Lord Jim mystery, and a few other things that jumped out at me. We'll see if I have time to read after all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Very busy at work this week. Our fall semester will include hosting a big (for us) conference. It has made this month much busier than I expected. But I think it's doable. Next I get to call the car rental places to confirm van prices. Have I told you before how I don't like event planning work? Still don't. Guess I'll focus on how much I like my health insurance.

Wow, boring complaining just shot to the fore there. What I'm really posting about is that I'll be in ABQ, the home of felicidad, for a week starting this Friday evening. We're going to frolic with the cousins, celebrate the end of Georgia's herceptin treatments (last one is tomorrow 7/30), pick raspberries in Rio Rancho and visit Miguel and his famous dog Ruby. I'm aiming for fun this visit. Picture me as a cartoon arrow, speeding toward the FUN target.

I'm reading nothing at the moment and it's bumming me out. Ooh, I'm remembering the Danish's Diana Gabaldon (sp?) recommendation. I may have to trot over to the library for that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Different Plan

Yesterday when I got in my car the hot air crisped my nose hairs. It was around 100F and the car had been sitting out in the sun all afternoon. I felt a little high from the heat. It just seemed to bake the thoughts out of my head, pleasantly. After shaking that off and while heading out of campus I spotted a safety officer. He was on his Segue, wearing both a helmet and a black uniform. I smiled, because I just don’t get to see enough people gliding along on Segues. But then I thought about how hot this poor individual must have been. It’ll be comfortable for them to cruise campus and make contact with the community this way in October. But in late July?! I would think the safety officers would know better than to court heat prostration like that.

Be sure and read about the GIANT FAIRY .

Lexi this morning played on the bath mat while I took a shower. Kind of nice that she wants to be close to me. Kind of annoying when she wants me to look at everything she’s doing and comment. I said no, I’m busy right now -- with the shower and the water and so on. When I got out I suggested that she go pick out her clothes and get dressed. She countered that she wanted to eat breakfast in her pjs. I parried with the idea that she could pick the day clothes out and take them downstairs, to put on after breakfast. She cocked her head and said, “Well, that’s a different plan!” And then she went and got dressed. Funny noodle.

I was thinking this weekend that Lexi’s experience of tv and movies is much different than Katy’s was. L wants to watch everything that everybody else is watching. Of course we noticed when she was a baby that she would watch anything, just liked that tv. We were playing some of our Walking with Dinosaurs video on Sunday. There is plenty of predator/prey interaction in there (all very dramatically narrated by the booming Kenneth Branaugh) so I was warning her about upcoming baby dinosaur deaths. She didn’t seem upset when we got to the end. Katy has always been so intent about whatever she watched. It would go right to her heart. So there were plenty of things that were too sad or too scary for her at 4. I think Lexi doesn’t take things in quite so directly. Or maybe it’s that she’s an old hand from all the tv she saw as a toddler at Dianna’s daycare. Mom guilt moment #678.

Skipping the justification of past parenting decisions, I’m going to get right to the good stuff: complaining about summer road work at my workplace. My closest parking lot is being resurfaced and some of my other potentially shady options are also blocked off for roadwork. And my philosophical acceptance ran out this morning. Rassafrackadee with this musical-chairs-like desperation! Give me back my quiver of parking options already. Grumble mumble mumble, shifty glances. Oh all right, I admit it – I do have a seven minute commute. And I could choose to arrive a little earlier to get one of the remaining desirable (partially shaded) spots. But I could also just keep grumbling for ten days and by that time the resurfacing will be done. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sing Along Now

Oh my blabbity blab! Skeedly wah wah wah! Reduced to Patton Oswalt heavy metal guitar gibberish by Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. Just watched episode one at work. Thank goodness for summer. Episode two is available tomorrow and then 3 on Saturday and they're all available for free until midnight on 7/20. Oh the goodness of Neil P. Harris as nerdly nearly super villain. And the musical format. Happy sigh.

Lexi woke me up several times last night around 3am. She has got the night nerves this summer. They're not night terrors, she just wakes up, gets a little scared and then can't go back to sleep without help. And because it was in the environs of 3am and I wasn't at my sharpest I didn't realize what would help. Finally she mentioned the nightlight lamp. Thank you my child, at least you can tell me now.

We had Katy and Lexi in the same room this winter and that worked pretty well. But during the early spring disease nastiness we moved Lexi back to the other bedroom to minimize the breathing on each other. Since then Katy has taken over her room with her customary fierceness. Sometimes she says that we should move Lexi's bed back into her room. But then she talks about creating a long list of her room rules. So I don't think so. After our NM trip we are hoping to get the parents moved into Lexi's current room and both girls into the biggest bedroom. There will be room for a dividing line on the floor if need be. And it will be a new territory they can share, not Katy's domain into which Lexi is flung.

On our drive back from Missouri this weekend Katy was watching traffic on the highway. She told me, "When I grow up I want to have an RV." Makes me laugh to think of our blonde sprite at the wheel of a big RV. Who knows, maybe that class of vehicle will be considered an appropriate starter home by the time she's of age.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Word Cloud, Yakking

All the other things I've been thinking about lately...

Here's a word cloud based on this blog. Whee!

Wordle takes any text you give it (or an url in this case) and makes a word cloud. Words used frequently appear larger than words used infrequently.

Found via Nag on the Lake, a lovely Canadian blogger with eclectic magpie tastes.


Yesterday I was looking for Rivers and Tides, a movie about Andy Goldsworthy’s art. But I couldn’t remember the title. So I tried to remember his name and put “goldsmith” into Netflix’s search box. And it was the sixth item on the list! I call that good search. Bravo to Netflix and their programmers for reading my scattershot mind.


Sister Wolf of describes an article entitled “Are Men Boring?”:

…it was the usual anecdotal findings of irritated wives and girlfriends whose male companions had nothing to talk about. Not “nothing” exactly, just nothing that they cared to share in conversation with a woman. I did like this quote from neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine:

Connecting through talking”, she wrote in her book The Female Brain (2006), “activates the pleasure centres in a girl’s brain. We’re not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It’s a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm.”

Yes, Louann, DUH, we love to talk. We are starved for conversation if we live with men. We will make conversation with practically anyone after being home all week with kids who only know how to yell, “BUT WHY? JUST TELL ME WHY!” when you don’t cave in to some demand. We crave conversation so much that we’ll talk to anybody who’s wiling to venture an opinion or relate some experience, however mundane.

Are Men Boring? Is the Pope a former Nazi? Of course men are boring, because they talk only to achieve a goal.

This sounds entirely true to me. I picked a husband who likes to talk (usually). But I am totally in withdrawal from that talking with women pleasure. And that is an accurate description of children's conversation with their mother which often consists of demands and then demands for explanation of why their demands have been denied.


There should be a word or a phrase to describe moving a computer window over so you don’t have to look at the still or moving pictures on the sidebar of whatever text you are trying to read. I do this every day so I can read without a brightly colored animated ad driving me out of my mind.


I keep thinking I need to have the human predator talk with our six year old. Four is too young but six is old enough to try I think. I feel like I need to get across that some adults are dangerous. But I’m having a hard time starting the conversation. So here’s a space to extemporize and see if I like what I say.

Most people are helpful. Most people make mistakes but they’re not trying to hurt others. But some people do want to hurt other people. Sometimes they try to hurt feelings, they use words to hurt. Sometimes they try to hurt bodies. They take advantage of people who are younger/smaller/weaker than they are.

I don’t want you to get hurt. I want you to get away from anyone you see acting like that. I want you to tell me (parents or teachers) about it. If a person is hurting other people, whether kids or adults, it’s important to tell someone about it.

I am not even sure if I’m opening the lines of communication here or creating the bogeyman. What do you think?

At this point I googled and found this really well written and well thought out blog post. I've never read this person before, but she was just what I needed.

List of 12

This is a list from Gavin de Becker’s Protecting the Gift. It is twelve things every child should know about protecting him/herself before they’re mature enough to be left alone. It made me cry, but in a good way, and I am going to print it out and talk to Katy about it.

I checked out Protecting the Gift from the library but then chickened out on reading it. I just don’t want to read a collection of assault stories, even in order to learn better techniques. Just the techniques, please. I could have read it pre-kids but I do not need to stir up my limbic system that much now.

Oh and the two items from the list of 12 that are sticking out at me the most are: if someone who scares you says Don’t yell – Do yell and if you’re told Don’t tell – Do tell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

From Barbie to Frida

Barbie movie. “You’re always free to begin again and you’re always free to believe!” If you recognize that lyric then I am sorry for you. I absorbed it while watching a Barbie animated DVD with my youngest daughter. I am not going to look up the exact title because I can’t be arsed to and it’s not as though I want you to go out and look for it. It was a weird and long and badly written computer-animated feature. I wonder if the people who worked on it view it as apprenticeship stuff. I would shudder to put that forward at the finished fruit of my labors. Swerving over now to give a nod to the better elements: the voice actors did a good job. And the song was catchy enough that I remember it. From a capitalism standpoint I’m sure there’s a market for Barbie animated things; it sounds like holiday impulse buying gifts for little girls to me. But don’t.

Watermelon watermelon watermelon. I don’t buy them out of season because a not-sweet melon is a pointless thing. But now it is time! We finished ours on the 4th and I’ve been pining for some ever since. Today is the day.

More Things in the Air: Petals and dead leaves.

I’m just going to throw these on to my list. First leaves. I remember walking in the mountains above Santa Fe watching showers of yellow aspen leaves come down among the skinny white trunks. I think aspen trunks look like they’re covered with eyes. As they get taller some of the lower skinny branches fall off. And in that spot where there used to be a branch there is a shape that looks like an eye. Check it out next time you’re in an aspen stand. Maybe someone on flickr has posted photos of aspen eyes. Don’t have time to look just now.

Petals in the air are even more evanescent, when the tree’s blossoms are done the petals come down in just a day or three. Throwing petals at weddings is a lovely recapitulation if you ask me, evoking the beauty and freshness of spring along with fertility and incipient fruit.

Yesterday I was walking under the trees on campus and thinking about petals and leaves falling. Then I remembered the gloriously terrible movie Legend. Circa 1986, Tom Cruise and Tim Curry in their only shared film. (I have been unable to definitively prove that from my imdb searching. But I have discovered that Tim Curry does a shitload of voice work, bless him. I hope he finds it a pleasant way to pay the mortgage.) Directed in part by Ridley Scott but there was some kerfuffle and at least one more director was brought in to finish and cut the wretched finished product. Beautiful unicorns -- horses with horns stuck on filmed in slo mo. The only problem being that they left in the moments when the horns wobbled. But I must pack all the delicious awfulness away for right now and concentrate on the one beautiful memorable image from that film that has to do with petal fall. I’m sure R. Scott is responsible for this, it was central to the movie and had some real emotional weight to it. Our heroine is a teenage girl, lovely and innocent. She is swooning under a tree from which petals fall in a blizzard. The evocation of petals in the air is wonderful and gorgeous. But then the blizzard of petals turns to ice. The evil forces are stealing her away. Her body is frozen in place while her spirit is stolen to the underworld. Time is stopped. I may have just talked myself into watching this horrible film again. I am warning you: Tom Cruise with shaggy hair and furrowed brow, talking earnestly with cackling dwarves. Hoo boy.

Speaking of movies I finally got Frida watched. I’ve had it from Netflix for two months now and it was weighing heavily on my conscience. After all that, it was great -- I liked it and I would watch it again. Salma and Alfredo were grand. Art and bisexuality, communism and love of country. All very tasty. The film has a surprisingly light touch. I would watch Salma Hayek in almost anything, she is such an all-around performer in addition to her vavavoomity.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thumb, Le Pouce

Thumb update.

Better and ignorable. My doctor spoke with a neurologist at the beginning of June who said that there was probably “cutaneous pressure” on the nerve in my thumb. She said it might go away by itself and did not recommend doing anything about it. I think the numbness is a bit diminished from May. I would say it’s about half numb on that half of my thumb now. I can feel pressure and some surface sensation but not temperature. My grip is probably a little weaker then normal. The best thing is that the tingling and feeling of swelling has disappeared. So it doesn’t feel like an injury and I can do everything I need to do, thumbwise.

French news and culture tidbits in English

The author describes himself as a Dutchman living in France for more than ten years. Here’s his description of this very entertaining site:
It is my attempt to illustrate why France is such an endearing and infuriating country at the same time, and why the French are a people that you love one day and hate the next. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been a francophile for all my adult life, but there are moments when this country and its people are driving me absolutely mad.


I think I'd better figure out what we're eating on the 4th, I haven't made any prep for this holiday at all. Nod bought the bale of fireworks but I think we'll all go visit the fireworks stand on the edge of town so the girls can have camel rides if they want. Last summer Katy's camel ride was followed immediately by a tornado siren. I wonder if we'll be able to get a good spot at the lake on the 4th. Last year it was raining a bit and maybe it was less populous for that reason. Happy summer everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


When the air is full of things, a list.

Hot air balloons. I want to describe the feeling of peaceful elation I had while watching a mass ascension of hot air balloons in Albuquerque in 2003. I’ve tried writing about it before and I may try again in the future because the sensation is one I’d like to have again and again. It was a morning with just a slight movement to the air so the balloons were rising up, truly in a mass. If the wind is stronger, they just stream southwards or westwards over the city in a colorful procession, not a cloud. But that morning they formed a host and occupied the air with some above and some below. Seeing the balloons filling the sky above me was like seeing gorgeous apparent spirits. It was almost as good as rising up into the air myself would have been. It was a visual experience that brought great pleasure and a feeling of well-being. Now that I think about it, I have to add that I was three months pregnant. I should acknowledge the element of the hormonal cocktail in my moment of bliss.

Fluff. This past weekend we visited a riverside park where the cottonwood trees and the steady breeze resulted in air full off bits of white fluff. The bright sunshine clearly showed it all floating. When there is so much carried along, the suspension shows the invisible air to us. It is revealed as a true liquid element. It draws the eye instead of being ignored in favor of the objects on the earth. My exalted feeling has something to do with the awareness of being both in the air and on the ground. (I wondered whether we would all be hawking up fluff later but it did not come to pass.)

Snow falling, especially clumped feathers of snow spinning down without a wind. I wish I could regain my childish rapture watching this type of snowfall. But as an adult I find my joy is impaired by worries about the roads, the school and work schedules and so on.

The coordinated movement of schools of fish and flocks of birds is also eye catching and consoling.

Thunderheads building into towers in the sky. They are more threatening than floating motes. The power in them is thrilling and sinister especially here in this weather rich environment. But the height alone has me imagining flight. How brilliant the white billows at the top are. And the piles of ice cream fractals in the column are beautiful. The observable movement of clouds in a blue sky is like a trick. When you’re not looking at them they seem still. But when you watch them they are always moving, blown across the visual field and also building or diminishing.

This list of things I love to watch would make me worry about being so passive except that watching these things feels very active. It makes me happy to be alive