Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's bag of grab

Charming course name I came across today: Illumination Engineering I. I think I'd like to engineer some illumination.Oh and that reminds me, I found a recommendation for this book explaining electricity (written for ages 6 to 9). I've reserved it at the library. I still have hope that I will learn to understand electricity before I die.

Ahead of me at the dept. store checkout line on Christmas Eve morning was a woman buying among other things a fondue set and a "golf courses of the world" calendar. I'm still wondering, is she just not that into xmas? Or was she buying gifts for people she doesn't like?

For Christmas I gave myself a haircut from the really good cutter I used to go to. I've been going to the old lady beauty shop (cheap!) for a while now. But for a treat, I was ready for a better cut. And my hair is now even and the layers are really good. But what I want to know is, why can't my hair cutter make me look hotter? I just want a little more oomph and I keep thinking the hair will help. I guess when I see her at the end of January I won't beat around the bush: Sexy! Make with the sexy hair! Yup, that'll work.

My mother in law is taking the girls to see the Princess and the Frog right now. The 1:30p showing sold out so they had to go to the next one. I think it's sweet that so many people want to go to a G rated movie. I wish there were more of them. I wish Ponyo had come to our town's movie theaters.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cat on Lap

I was watching Zing yesterday when we opened the door and the snow started sticking. She stuck her head out but would not step foot on the white stuff. I resisted the urge to toss her out in it to enjoy her consternation. Today she was more adventurous and leaped lightly out to see what was what. But aside from that short venture, she has been mostly a sleepy cat. She seems to have dialed down for the cold dark days.

We've had a warm cosy little Christmas day. The prezzies were nice and the girls played with their new loot all day long. No squabbling with each other (I'll overlook that one brief upset after dinner), which was a gift in itself. The turkey didn't thaw in time so it was pork chops for dinner. Before that, Nod got stuck looking for an open grocery store to buy a replacement slab of meat. He's from Texas and he still doesn't understand some of the local parochialisms (Christmas late afternoon = grocery stores closed). He found a good samaritan with a tow rope and got his car going again. Earlier in the day he took the kids out to sled. But they only took one slide each before deciding it was too windy and bitter. I was happy with my decision to stay home. Perhaps I'll take a snowy walk tomorrow morning. I think I'll be ready to stick my nose outside the house by then. Right now I'm happy to have Zing snoozing on my lap.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This may be my favorite holiday. Not Christmas Day but Christmas Eve. I took the day off work to be with the kids and to enjoy the quiet. It wasn't very quiet but I've been smiling all day. Our rain turned to sleet and then finally to fluffy snowflakes when we left church. This blizzard is a special delivery. Snow falling when I don't have to drive anywhere -- perfect!

Peace and the flicker of joy to all of us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


If you have trouble getting out of the warm bed on a chilly dark morning, I have a solution. First have two children. Next have the children wake up at the same time. Have the first one wake up with a wet bed and the second one with a bloody nose. Much mopping and soothing later you will be fully awake and ready to start your day!

Lexi started a fever and sore throat yesterday so we called in to get her antibiotics. I brought her into the office yesterday afternoon after the rec center program was done. My cringe of shame is better after apologizing to my coworkers for exposing them.

Lexi has had two doses so far and was quite chipper this morning even after the bloody nose. At the breakfast table she sneezed and then was wiping up, "I got snot on my sleeve," she announced. "Better than blood!" was her conclusion.

Right now my throat is prickly and my head is starting to feel weird so I figure I'm the next to fall. What a germy season we've had so far. But the pressure is off and I'm looking forward to holidaying whether germy or no.

May you feel a sweet glow this Christmas and not have to clean up very many body fluids at all. Twinkling lights in the darkness, cookies and presents for all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yule and Covet

Various clever and greedy bloggers have listed their ultimate fantasy I-don't-actually-expect-to-get-it-but-I-want! Christmas wish lists. And I will join them by wishing for:

Theatre tickets (often) and time to go.

A standing haircut appointment with a fabulous cutter, every 6 weeks.

One more hot slutty affair before having kids. My current bod is functional and I do love it. But I find the wrinkly belly offputting when plotting seduction. And time marches on. So just a jump back nine years and one (or three!) breathless pounces.

My own small apartment or cottage. In a well kept older apartment bldg or near a stand of trees. Very small, very easy to clean. Mine.

A horse and buggy. A groom and stable to keep him in of course. I’ll go driving on spring afternoons. And currycomb Dobbin when I’m feeling pensive.

Housewife status so I could walk the kids to school and pick them up every day. And volunteer there.


The last reference to school brings me back to reality with a thump. My state's budget was $6 Billion. They had to cut a billion from it. They did and class sizes are larger this year at our elementary school. The state government expects to have to cut more than $350 million more. And more than half of Kansas state spending is for education. I'm appalled and frightened that my kids aren't going to get the fabulous retro public school education that is one of the central reasons that we are in this American bellybutton state.


Since you asked, here is my approach to getting things done at the very end of the day. Tuck in time for the kids and I am rubbing my eyes and staggering with fatigue. If Katy calls me back to soothe away night fears or get her a drink of water, I have to make a concerted effort not to be brusque. It’s hard to be called back just after I’ve hung up my responsible adult hat for the night. Luckily she is almost always quickly settled. Lexi is even quicker to go to sleep. I know I am lucky that my children go to sleep quickly and sleep soundly. There are periods when I have to get up in the nights with them but it could be so much worse. And I would be so much more resentful and groggy.

But I am just averagely resentful and groggy and I go downstairs and get to do something I actually want to do, rather than *have* to do. Usually it’s eat a treat and read some novel or watch something. And then it’s time to do some chores (dishwashing, making lunches, laundry) or if I'm utterly done in, I decide to bag it and do my ablutions before turning in. If there are no desperate repercussions that will result from not doing chores then I say to myself, I just won’t do any tonight. It’ll have to wait until tomorrow. But then I might see one thing that would make my morning easier (wash one pot so I can cook oatmeal in the morning, for example) and if I do that then suddenly it’s easier to do a few more things. Hm, that pot was quick and I already have a soapy scrubber, I could just do two more bowls and clear this half of the sink.

So that’s my strategy for getting things done when I’m tired. 1) State that I will *not* do anything. 2) Compromise on doing *just one* thing. 3) Feel a sense of accomplishment and energy and realize that it won’t hurt to do some more. Then it’s important to remember to stop. If I keep going and get a full-on energy burst happening then it gets too late and I get too awake and suffering follows the next day. Ambition is to be kept tightly reined in.


I've just had to stop reading a mystery novel that is all series package, with not much good writing inside. Murder in the Marais by Cara Black. She's written a series of novels each set in a different Parisian neighborhood. But one quarter through the first one I think it will be my last. Her handling of the French setting and characters written about in English isn't very deft. Then our protagonist dressed up in black leather and spiky hair and drew nazi "tattoos" on herself with marker in order to crash a neo-Nazi meeting. Unconvincing! I was almost rooting for the neo-Nazi's to beat her up. Last night I realized that a certain passage of dialogue between the private detective and her police contact reminded me of the voice actors for low budget Japanese anime. Too much exposition! Delivered in a gruff but personality-less American accent! Such a good attractive idea, a series of mysteries set in the districts of Paris. But I will steer you to Fred Vargas for the Parisian mystery vibe with plenty of urban village atmo, great characters with distinct voices, and a satisfying melancholic tang.


Looking at rental listings has started to put the fear in me about moving. The uncertainty and impermanence of residence is haunting me a little.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For the record

The small picture is of our idyllic xmas tree cutting trip two years ago. It was so full of wintry delight that I could hardly believe it. We have had some picture perfect family moments here in the midwest.

The header picture is our cat Zing, acquired in August. She is resting up for another round of house galloping.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Small and one eared

Surprising things our family doctor told me this morning: 1) Katy may not be any taller than 4' 11" as an adult.2) It could take three months before I have 'normal' hearing in my right ear.

I wonder about the first assertion. I thought our genetic hash would have given her a very  middle sized kit. We've got some tall folks on both our mothers' sides and shorter/middlesized folks on both our dads' sides. And surely growth spurts are unpredictable? Not according to Dr. M's charts. Well, Katy's always been our Petite Firecracker with buckets of personality and drive. I'm sure she'll make an impact even if she's the opposite of towering.

The ear news disappoints me only a bit. The good part is that it is fixing itself. Very slowly and carefully; stopping for tea breaks and periodic audits. I found that attending church service with one ear is somewhat unsatisfying. I could hear the sermon and was glad to take communion. But singing was dodgy and the sound of the organ and choir was too much and too muddy.

The kids enjoyed Christmas pageant practice. Katy will reprise her Donkey role and Lexi is moving over to Angel this year. They have been extremely charming, practicing their carols. I wish they wouldn't squabble over the lyrics sheet we brought home. But I suppose siblings must always compete for scarce resources. Speaking of resources, I volunteered to bring snacks for the next rehearsal. I'll try to figure out something easy and neither too sugary nor too healthy.

Turkey carcase goes in the trash tonight. It was tasty and I took most of the meat off. I will this moment refuse any guilt for not making stock of the bones. We may do it again for xmas and I can soupify at that time if I am so moved. Unrelated to turkey leftovers, tonight I am thinking about this recipe. And maybe some roast sweet potatoes and reg'lar potatoes. I am also planning to go grocery shopping and exchange something at WalMart tonight. I wonder how much of that will actually get done...

We tried and failed to get a holiday family picture taken. It got put off because I was stricken. Then I had an idea about propping the children up and taking a picture on the couch. But to remind myself -- outside is always better than inside for these things. Yesterday's pix on the couch were funny but not anything I can agree to share. We'll have to send out some bare cards. Maybe we can get a snap of us by new year's.

Just read a post by Eileen in Chile about the personality change that learning a new language and culture imposes. So nicely put. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Harness the Team

Tuning in. Static. Static. Faint voices. And here we are again. I am trying to decide where I’m at so maybe posting in the ether will help to orient me. I miss everyone but not in a bad way, just in a few days away way. Here I am!

First the pitiful part including ooky details of my viral woes. Not one but two antibiotics are coursing through my system and trying to eradicate the arginfargin sinus/ear infection that I finally developed last week. I can’t hear anything at all through my right ear. Which is an improvement from when it was very swollen and I spent most of the night listening to my pulse. The next day the eardrum ruptured which is not as drastic as it sounds (I hope) and I heard random squeaks and bubbles as the pressure equalized. I believe that my eardrum is healing and that I will be able to hear through it again. Still waiting though. I have enough energy to go to work and be productive despite my doubts on Saturday. Come on Zithromax and Levaquin! I imagine them as draft horses yoked together, pulling my wagon out of a sticky viral swamp. Heeyup! Let’s go!

And that made me look up horse drawn things. The annual horse drawn wagon parade is this Saturday in town. But if you find yourself in Anchorage I think you should see if you can arrange for a sleigh ride with this outfit

Having only one good ear is different. I am learning to point my left ear at whatever I need to hear. The children aren’t tired of repeating themselves yet. (After all they’re very good at that.) Hoping for more hearing in a couple of weeks.

Since I was dizzy and puny on Thursday Nod made the executive decision that we wouldn’t try to make our feast that day. I was proud that I finished the cranberries and the pie but it was true that I didn’t really look forward to wrassling the bird. We went out for Mongolian barbecue instead which seemed pleasingly unpredictable. The food was delish and we were by no means the only patrons. As I looked at the other folks I wished I had a clipboard and could go around to each table and ask, “So what brought you here on Thanksgiving?”

Actually cooking everything the next day was not much fun. I was dizzy and tired again by the time I got to the finish line. But it was delicious. In fact I am coveting my turkey leftovers right now.  Many thanks to Bee for sharing Nigella Lawson’s pie crust recipe. After resisting Bee’s superior baking experience for far too long, this recipe has finally convinced me that half butter, half Crisco is a good thing. Nigella adds the juice of one orange which struck me as quite a variable amount depending on your orange's size and juiciness. (I was happy to be confirmed right as I needed to add some ice water as well to get my dough wet enough) When I tasted the dough I thought it needed more salt. But the finished product was perfect. My advice is to put your Crisco in the freezer in the morning. It never gets all the way hard like butter so you can still cut it into chunks. I have one more crust that I’ll use to make some apple pie one of these days. Which reminds me: I once had an idyllic apple orchard experience picking Rome apples in northern New Mexico. They were perfect, crisp and fragrant. But grocery store Rome apples tend toward the mealy. So I will remember from now on: don’t buy Rome apples except pick-your-own.

The children did pretty well with five or six (Lexi was home sick Tues.) unstructured days and a very puny mother. There was lots of drawing and cutting out. Yesterday Lexi created a cutout castle with herself as princess, a royal cat and three servants with fans. There was a certain amount of poking at each other and screeching but not much. Nod took both girls out to sell girl scout cookies on the last warm day. Orders are due tomorrow and I never was well enough to walk around with them. I should have remembered that Nod with all his sales knowledge would be excited to help. Lexi went around one block and then she was done, but Katy and her dad stayed out for two hours. He was exhausted at that point. K was hungry but insisted that she could sell some more. We admired her youthful ambition.

And that’s enough to start. Glad to be back. Hope to feel more completely here as time goes on.

Wait! One more link:  artist Peter Funch's simultaneous photos. I saw some of these a while back but didn't really get it. He took lots of photos of the same pedestrian intersection and then edited them together. Scroll through to see the themes in each photo. Everyone is wearing white or has a yellow envelope or is in midair or is a child. The shifty eyed one is a hoot. What good art.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reclining for Good or Ill

Update:  Lexi's breathing sounded much better Wednesday evening. So I didn't add any extra meds. But boy I'm gonna if I hear any of that crackling again! (Since empty threats apparently work.)
My cold may have retreated a bit. Not feeling quite so put upon by every single thing that needs to be done. But I'm still indulging in invalid fantasies. Soothing views out windows that are opened twice a day for some bracing fresh air. A weekly visit with an approving director who tells me I'm making excellent progress but not to push myself. Reclining on the terrace, taking the sun but well wrapped in case of a chill breeze...

So those breast cancer screening recommendations certainly are grist for all our mills. Here is a good enunciation of the merits of the recommendation. Then a follow up by the same writer covering the more cartoony reactions in the blogosphere. I like that Respectful Insolence, I'll be checking in with them regularly. As to how this pertains to my own personal chest luggage, I think I'll do that thing they always tell you to do, 'talk with your doctor'. Just finished with this year's squeezin so when I get the letter next fall telling me to make an appointment I'll give my doc a call. I don't think I want to wait until I'm 50 for my next one, but maybe halfway there.

Recommending not teaching breast self exam seems perverse, no? But at the same time let's be open to research results. It may let me off the hook for feeling (ha) that breast self examination doesn't make much sense for me personally. As I fall on the lumpy end of the spectrum, it's never made me feel very secure. Lumps? yup there are lumps. I know the idea is to get a feel for the regular lumpy landscape in hopes that an irregularity will be noticed. But it's always seemed like a morbid waste of time. I do hope that I'm tuned in enough to notice if something's wrong.
Here's a new word that I don't know if I'll retain: hecatomb (pronounced heckatoom). OED tells us it's originally Greek for 100 oxen set aside for sacrifice, now meaning a great public sacrifice, implies a heap. See that last example quotation, "What altars hecatomb'd with Christian gore!" J. Barlow. Shudder. Wonder what he was getting at.
And here's your haw for the day, CATS FOR GOLD via John Scalzi who is giving good rant today too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Stream of Something

Things to know about coffee. I didn't know about the neuro chemical function of caffeine. Cool beans man. I donated a dollar after enjoying this web comic. Surely in the future this sort of off-the-cuff cyber paying will be easier to do. It's pretty clunky right now.
Katy has invented her own abbreviation origin story and tells me that pajamas are to be referred to now as Potato Jaguars. I don't get it -- but I like it.
I can hear crackles when Lexi breathes. I'm going to go give her a dose of albuterol this afternoon. And maybe up her other maintenance med as well. I am steering in the dark here but I want her to breathe easier. Her follow up appt with the asthma doc is Dec. 1. I am hoping she'll pull out of this cold/asthma flare up and not need to be seen before then.
I am also working on my own chest cold and deeply resent having to interact with other humans while I've got it. I was planning to feel better after having a puny weekend. But the virus has its own plans. I am coughing and phlegmy and things are out of balance. I want a week at a sanitarium, slurping chicken broth and laying by a sunny window to get my strength back. I would promise to come back as soon as I was bored.

The trouble is that I'm not *that* sick so I try to do everything that normally needs to be done. And then feel martyred. When I remember to have the slightest bit of perspective, I do feel grateful that I am not terribly sick. And yet the daily do be grinding.
Finished the police procedural novel Bangkok 8 by Burdett and it was so good. Page turning and enticing. The plot and crime details are a little wonky but the setting and characters, especially the narrator Sonchai Jitpleecheep are wonderful. The book even made me want to go to Bangkok... for a little while. But that passed and now I'm happy perusing blogs about Thailand and reading about the travels of others instead. Here's one with lots of good writing by western visitors to the country. And here's a description of Thai soap operas which sound pretty much like telenovelas but with most of the sex removed and the presence of ghosts added. Oh and I find that there are at least two other novels in Burdett's Bangkok series. I have the warm feeling of novels waiting for me.

I have Wodehouse on the bedside table because it almost seems as healing as chicken broth. And I want to try all the home remedies. Maybe I'll put Vick's on my chest tonight. I thought about making garlic soup but it just made my stomach twist to contemplate. So I'll have to go with lower doses of the stinking rose.
Oh my Lord -- I have got to start jumping up and down according to this NYT article. I think they are hilariously trying to generalize human exercise tips from a mouse study. And I think that mice have significantly different body mechanics. But still. I like the idea of jumping up and down 40 times a week. That is an exercise routine that I can squeeze in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assorted nuts

I'm happy that it's assorted nut season and we have our nutcracker and picks out.(What?)

Things that are working. My husband fixed the dripping kitchen faucet this weekend. And he figured out how to make the DVD/VCR work. We’d been reduced to just a DVD player after our DVD/VCR fell off the top of the TV and landed on the VCR side a few months ago. The VCR hasn’t worked since. Our tape of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the old Gene Wilder one) is still in there, trapped. Now we can pry it out at our leisure as we are using the new device for entertainment. That is, the new region free DVD/VCR player. My Stephen Fry America DVDs await me!

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett is a wonderful book. Police procedural with lots of Thai Buddhism.

Misery of the moment. Our upstairs bathroom needs new everything, no exaggeration. The old tub is nice and long and the plumbing works okay. But between window, floor, ceiling, tiled wall and fixtures -- it’s a tear down. We got a proper estimate for renovation two years ago. But it was clear that we had no way to act on the $16K estimate we received. So I caulked and prayed. And it held. Until now. Last Saturday my daughter and I noticed a thin stream of water coming down the wall below the bathroom, while my husband took a shower. After looking at the spot where the caulk and the grout are giving way I don't think that caulk will be enough to stop the water. Yesterday I duct taped a piece of shower curtain over the leaky area. It is working. This is sad.

The snow came down in a hurry this noon. We're supposed to get more tonight but the temps should stay above freezing and keep the roads okay.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep out!

This is the full report on my first girl scouts campout. Although the forecast was for a low of 36 and overcast we had about fifteen kids or more for the weenie roast portion of the evening. I was a bit floored by the turnout. It was cold but not terrible and I thought it was a unique way to spend the night before Halloween.

After eating the girls ran around in the dark playing flashlight tag. Approximately every two minutes one would stagger back to the adults complaining of a bump or scrape. Running full tilt into your friends in the dark hurts. They were also at the stirred up and tired stage by this time.

I went out in the dark and made a circuit looking for trash while girls staked out their sleeping bag spots.  I was lucky enough to see the clouds being blown away. The glowing edge of cloud cover was pulling back off to the northwest. It was moving fast like a banner rolled up by the off-stage techies. The nearly full moon shone and it was a very beautiful open sky after the low grey we had had. I called everyone to come see the stars. The thirteen year old leader-in-training immediately organized a moonlight hike, most of the girls were excited to go.There was one girl who went to sleep at about this time (9:30p?) and was the last to wake up. Champion sleeper.

The other adults were busy blowing up air mattresses. (Why? An 8 year old can sleep on a hard floor in a sleeping bag in my opinion). We slept in a big cabin that had propane heat and solar lights – not nearly the cold yurt I had expected. So I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the co-leader who got a headache from the propane smell (granted it was stinky) and then was cold and wanted the heaters back on and couldn’t sleep. She said she had hippie parents and did enough camping for one lifetime in her childhood.

We had four kids who didn’t want to sleep over. Three were picked up by parents and the fourth’s mom said nope so she had to be cajoled into staying. I’m glad that wasn’t my job. At any rate she did fine and went to sleep without much bleating. I was surprised at how many kids got homesick. I wondered whether Katy would feel like that if I wasn’t there. But she didn’t cling at all or hardly interact with me except to ask for the flashlight thirty times.

They all slept better than I expected. I was awake for a bit trying to locate a whimpering kid. Finally realized it was the leader’s kid and she was shushing her. Katy reported later that I snored, I wonder if the other adults were cursing me under their breath. I come from two fine resonant snorers and am certain that my destiny is to become louder and louder.

To one mom I confessed to a girl scout cookie anxiety dream and also said that it bugs me to watch girls do chores – that I just want to do it for them. In retrospect I think I came off as control freaky. This goes right against my own impression of myself. But maybe my need for control is growing. Mwahahahaha! Watch out.

Packing up and cleaning up the next morning took an age. I finally asked whether the leader needed me to stay for another thirty minutes and she understood that this was my request to go away and released me. It was an awful lot of work for one overnight.  The leader, bless her, talked about wanting to do more camping with the girls. She does think it would be good to try for two nights out to improve the fun vs. work ratio. I am glad to have experienced this. But I might go ahead skip the next one. I don’t think Katy would miss me much. She had a great time. She ran around with various friends, loved being outside and out in the dark, never got homesick or worried about anything and slept like a rock. Yay.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hot Cha

I have been trying to get my girl scout camping reflections in order. I'll post that next week even though good behavior reigned and no one was frightened by a bear.

Today took the cat and her goopy ear to the vet. Glad to get her seen and treated. Sorry to get the bill. Feeling small and in the red today. Zing is exhausted and quite a limp little nine pound bundle. She's gained two pounds since August. I limit her food and I don't think she's too fat right now.

After Nod was done with work we went for a walk up the river on a trail I hadn't seen before. We all had a good time on the winding path. Lexi liked running up and down the small rises while flapping her arms. Saw the river, trees, birds and plenty of other walkers and bikers. Also a fine assortment of dead animals. Not sure what kind of karma that was but we were interested to see the carcasses of a mole, oppossum and snake. Also Nod and Katy pointed out the remains of a wagon wheel partially visible on the side of the riverbank. And then we saw a second one further on. I wished I had a pioneer/wagon wheel specialist in my pocket to tell us about them.

Katy's been listening to my TMBG Flood CD. I've had to limit her playing it already because tho I love it there's only so many times I can listen to "Whistling in the Dark" in a row. But I'm glad she likes it. Tonight she told me she liked the "Hot Cha" lyric about him leaving while the bathtub overflowed, "stereo on and cooking bacon". That one tickles my brain that too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

There and Back Again

I am going through Kate Nepveu's re-read of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. She writes a summary of each chapter and includes her reactions and then there are chatty comments on each post too. (I am reading some but not all of the comments, there is a limit to my interest in what an enthusiast thinks those hobbits were up to.) This annotated re-reading is such a social thing, so meta, everyone discussing their impressions, what they don't understand or misunderstood. What they love about a passage. Whether a balrog has wings. What words resonate with them or seem de trop. And discussion of the movies is woven in there too. It's quite a contrast to my memories of reading LOTR as an intensely solitary activity. These are beloved fantasy adventure books of my first most voracious era of reading (age 9 to 18). It was an exciting effort of imagination for me to get through them in 4th grade. Of course I let much of it wash over me as a kid. The always present, lengthy landscape descriptions can be exhausting. And the history of Middle Earth is so convoluted that my husband still uses The Silmarillion as bedtime reading. He loves it but it still puts him to sleep. (I never read that one, I couldn't get past its first deadly section.)

When I first encountered the 1969 National Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings in college, I devoured it but I also felt like I was betraying old JRR by laughing. (According to Wikipedia Bored has never gone out of print. And it is well worth reading if you are not too reverent a Tolkien fanboy.) As a young person I missed female characters (the rare appearance of one would grab my attention) but not enough to put down the story. I love some of the moments in the books, the quest, the heroic gestures, the love for home and for companions that is expressed. The author's chosen archaic language sometimes seems hacky to me but sometimes works poetically. From Ms. Nepveu's re-reading, she points out the following high elf quote as being particularly clunky: “That is the doom that we must deem.” Indeed. But perhaps we deem it at our peril, eh?

One of the wise commenters mentions a passage that acts as "a corrective to the solemnity that in LOTR often threatens to topple into pomposity." Yes.


Speaking of peril, I'm going to spend the night in a cabin, camping with the brownies. Patchy frost, low of 36 says the forecast. You may now admire my fortitude. We'll see what I have to say tomorrow.


A little DIY Goldsworthy for you:

I noticed that the red fallen leaves had blown almost equally onto each step. I wished for my camera and thought that it might all be gone in the morning. But I got another chance and snapped the picture just as it started to rain.

Via Kottke, here's a page of the best 100 music videos of the decade. Drool. I need a laptop and room to dance, stat! Oh and a weekend I could afford to squander, that'd be good too.


From 10/28's Nothing But Bonfires comments which is chock full of everyone's favorite sign misspellings and malapropisms.
'In tones of disdain, she said "What's the hold up? It's not rocket surgery."' I'm going to try and use that one very soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Report

My lovingly hand crafted fairy wings are progressing and looking pretty good. Lexi was unable to imagine how 2 hangers and a pair of tights would be at all useful to a fairy. But she was convinced once I got it all together. Decorating continues...

I also sewed a sailor suit for Katy's monkey -- a prop for her Pippi Longstocking costume. I got pretty tired of dressing the monkey but I figure it's probably the only time she'll ask me to do that particular job. I am trying to remember to soak it up.

Finished Nigel Slater's Eating for England which I soldiered through even though it's really only for those who were raised on English biscuits. I enjoyed bits and it's written in tiny little (less than a page mostly!) squibs perfect for before-sleep reading. Nigel did teach me the word "anorak" which I take it now is a synonym for "crackpot" as well as a puffy winter coat.

Also finished Jean Webster's Daddy Long-Legs (1912) this weekend. I'd seen the film with Fred Astaire and the dreamy Leslie Caron. I remember liking the movie even as I felt some distaste when the benefactor commences to romance his ward. The book is a little less ooky but not ook-free as the power politics remain the same. But it's a jolly little epistolary novel. The orphanage (asylum) is fascinating and the thinly disguised Vassar college descriptions are wonderful. A good use of my Saturday morning. Then I got off my hams and raked four bags of leaves.

Nod came to church on Sunday, he couldn't face it last week because it was [ominous music here] Consecration Sunday. That's when they try and pin you down and get you to make a financial pledge to support the church. This church doesn't like to ask for money. Well, they have an offering plate every Sunday. Other than that, to my surprise, we were never before asked about money. Even when we officially joined the church. They can't bear to do it more than once a year I guess. Very interesting. I told Nod that I was quite intrigued to see how it was done. But he wouldn't come be a participant-observer with me. Didn't like the impression of being rounded up like cattle for the branding iron. I think it made him mad that he couldn't afford to give much too. As far as that goes, I just figured that they can't get blood from a turnip. I'm not embarrassed about that. Maybe we'll be less turnip-y in the years to come who knows. They sweetened the pot by providing a catered lunch. It was fine but mostly featured me haranguing the girls to eat something nutritious before they attacked the dessert table. I am resolved to speak to three people every time I go to church. It's too easy to sit with the kids and be an island. Une ile flottante no doubt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain for Gazing

Spent part of my lunch hour looking out at the rain. It was very soothing and eye-rest-ful. I love to look at weather from inside. I can watch rain or snow through the window for quite a while. And then I might take a little nap, says my reptile brain. Because I am smart enough to come in out of the rain and wait out bad weather. And why not enjoy it if I don’t have to be wet and cold.

While gazing out today at the pattering random raindrop splashes I also took in the autumn foliage, the roof opposite and the passing students. The building opposite is a limestone faced rectangular solid. It hasn't got much to recommend it except for that mellow outer husk. But I was mostly admiring the roof’s crowd of HVAC tubes, huts and towers. There’s a weather spinner (anemometer) up there too. Despite some stiff web searching I can't find a website for on-campus weather info gathering. I must be missing something. Surely those atmospheric researchers want to share with us? The students going by didn’t look too upset by the rain. But all those flip flops and sodden unhemmed pants cuffs made my feet feel cold in sympathy. Inside the building where I sat, I listened to the stomp and squeak of undergraduate feet going up and down stairs. (There was at least one pair of graduate feet in there too. Hi Rich!)

I will be home with the kids tomorrow as the season of frequent school closings is upon us. I have squared it with work so I am looking forward to it now. I might even get some cleaning done. (I guess I make statements like that in the hopes that optimism will carry me all the way to accomplishment.) I wonder if Katy will be unbearable. It seems like unstructured time at home leaves her feeling at a loss and she takes it out on us. And it'll probably be raining -- my unease grows apace. I think I will make a list of things for us to do. It will include "make fairy wings" for Lexi's costume. After some vigorous dithering about Halloween costumes, she wants to be a flower fairy. I was throwing up my hands about wings but have since googled the DIY offerings to be had. Coat hangers and tights seem to be the way to go. Secure the wire ends with duct tape, use ribbons to tie on to the kid, and glue and glitter to decorate. I'm kind of excited about trying this now. (The yen to craft cute unnecessary things is upon me. Stand back!) I wonder how efficient I was about throwing out my old tights...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Just a few thoughts today before I flounce off to my weekend of joyful celebration. Or housecleaning, whichever seems more urgent at the time. By the way I love the mary jane wingtips I ordered! In other updates, my husband is still not declared bankrupt but I think next week is the week.Maybe.I'm going on very little information which is usually how I prefer to experience financial transactions.But perhaps I'll try and squeeze some more info out of Nod tonight.

In imitation of Belgian Waffling's analysis, this was the composition of my Thursday:
35% The sky has been grey for six days.
25% Messing around at work

10% Girl Scout cookie email composition
5% Pleased at my haul from a library visit
5% Why do I have to make dinner, see that the kids eat it, *and* clean up the kitchen?
5% Moment of family unanimity: gingerbread is good
5% The cat wants us to know that she’s Hungry hungry very hungry
1% Enjoying the book I’m reading to oldest for bedtime

5% Packing lunches, for some reason wrapping pickles took an inordinate amount of time
1% Finding the source of the infrequent leak between the upstairs bath and the downstairs bathroom. Boy I wish we’d had the funds to have that all redone.
1% Crap, I forgot to send snack for L’s kindergarten class
2% Nitrogen

My favorite grotesquely stupid webad of the day:
Your Belly is Full of Junk!
Learn the trick to removing the undigested food inside of you... 
Learn more

I can tell you that trick: wait 36 hours until it is disgested or passed. There, now you know.

The grey is making it hard for me to appreciate nature. The foliage has been brilliant colors but lots of it was knocked off by rain. I have made a point to notice the migrating seagulls this week. They circle over campus in a great gang before setting off to the northeast. Must be some good dumpsters to eat from or some parking lots to hang out in thataway. Even though I regard them as bullying scavengers it's still a thrill to see them in the sky at this time of year in great pale flocks.

I recommend What Were You Thinking's latest post about a little green God and justice and the assigning of parts for a production of A Christmas Carol.

Have a value packed weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

March to the Disco Beat

Went to the 9 am Homecoming parade on campus last Saturday. It is a short parade: Marching band, greek floats featuring triumphant jayhawks rendered in paper/plastic, some international students toting flags, a few alum celebs and abashed scholarship kids riding in convertibles. Even toddlers can enjoy a parade that short and as a result I don't think we've missed one yet. They throw candy for the kids so my two were in greedy heaven. I love to see the marching band. I was surprised when I started leaking tears at the sight of the Alumni Band, marching just a little way behind the uniformed flock. They're so geeky and have such a good time. I scolded myself that I should celebrate them and their big smiles, not weep at them. There's even an alumni baton twirler!

I don't think I've shared the extent to which Disco has invaded our home. Katy got a "Discomania" cassette tape at a garage sale this summer and she's on track to wear it out by spring. I'm sure your heart would swell with pride if you heard her singing along with I Will Survive. Or YMCA. She likes the beat to do handstands to. She's been practicing those almost every day. And she invented a no-hands forward roll that's pretty eye catching. Are there any disco-themed cirque du soleil shows? Maybe she'll create one.

And with perfect timing I have been introduced to Mitchell and Webb. Here is a little posh dancing for the Pemberly/disco overlap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


'Sweating like a whore in church' is my new favorite saying. Thank you Go Fug Yourself for that little nugget of culture. And plenty of thanks to those Fug Girls for hours of hooting. I think my San Franciscan friend Lash would enjoy the whore saying. He's the one who enjoys particularly bloody catholic illustrations. He also told me about the tradition of buying a figurine of St. Whoever and entreating him/her to help you out. Then to provide more leverage, you threaten to hang their figurine upside down in a dark closet if help is not promptly forthcoming.

NM Report
The hot air balloons were great one day, we missed the second day and got rained out a third. Lots of good vacay stuff happened in New Mexico. Unfortunately my husband spent the entire time with a cold that varied from slight to miserable. Good thing he had a few days upright and mobile. Got to visit with a lovely h.s. friend who has a two year old. We had a nice chat while my girls played with her adorable smiley toddler. Nice to know someone who had their kid even later than I did! She's as gentle and genuine as I remembered.

We drove up the Jemez road and Nod fell in love with Jemez Springs. It was a beautiful afternoon looking at the cottonwoods turning golden in the valley below the red canyon walls. Had just a few minutes at the totally cool Jemez Pueblo Culture center. I hope we can go back for a tour and hike some time.

Beware the Belt Loop
Jonniker startles her baby in a new way...
Incidentally, I neglected to mention the other day that before I started using a belt to keep my pants up, I was rushing to get Sam from a nap, and the woefully unused belt loop of my pants got caught on our stupid door handles, and I hit the floor face-down, RIPPING MY PANTS OFF IN THE PROCESS. My pants, they just WHOOSH! Right down around the ankles and my face! RIGHT DOWN onto the floor. And the kid, she just SCREAMED! OMFG! AND SCREAMED! Because one second I was there to rescue her! And the next second I just VANISHED! VANISHED, like some sort of PANTSLESS APPARITION.
Love her.

Uncomfy Update
Yesterday Katy had a playdate and went home after school with a neighbor kid. When I picked her up I found that she had announced that we are moving. I was pretty speechless. Our neighbor, a very nice woman I met in my moms' group four years ago, asked whether we had an offer on the house. I just shook my head and goldfished (mouth silently opening and closing) for a moment. Then I said, "It's still up in the air." I've considered calling her back or emailing with an explanation. But I don't know if that's kind or just oversharing when things are so murky. It's awkward. More awkward than meeting your partner's fling's partner, that's for sure. I thought that was tricky but I was so naive.

When we went to the co-housing potluck we told the kids that we were thinking about moving and that this place was a possibility. I trusted to child vagueness about timelines and future events and forgot that Katy might take that info and run with it. Well, brave new world, here we go. We'll make it up as we go along as usual.

Today I used the $50 gift certificate I got for having my cholesterol tested (the state wants me to leverage my health or something) on Zappos. So in the end I'm paying $20 for these in cognac. If you hate them don't tell me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Siris' Comments on a clip from The Onion in which the essential meaninglessness of life is confronted during an NFL coin toss.

"What the Jags need to do, of course, is to recognize, perhaps by reading Simone de Beauvoir, that a distinction can be made between absurdity and ambiguity, and that what they are interpreting as the absurdity of human life is really the ambiguity of human existence, which allows for the creation of meaning through projects of freedom."

I hadn't heard about this absurdity/ambiguity divide before. I like the distinction as expressed above. Even though trying to concentrate on philosophic writing makes me want to smash things, I took a look at a passage of the de Beauvoir article "The Ethics of Ambiguity". (Thanks, Marxists.) I did not succeed in deriving anything more satisfying than the boiled down statement Siris gives above. So I have resolved to enjoy that and not smash anything.

We're off to watch colorful hot air balloons float around in the Albuquerque skies. If the winds calm down and the crick don't rise. We're guaranteed good chile, beautiful skies and a cousinpalooza (4 kids ages 5, 7 and 9).

Whether I neglect my blog this week or not, you should plan to visit the Domestic Sensualist, Bee's collaborative food project. Come sit in the kitchen and chat with the cooks. Both Bee and Julochka are nimble writers. I'm still trying to forgive Julochka for her refusal to capitalize, but I loved her mushroom gathering post.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Mini post to say that I'm stuck on that word today. The phrase 'vault of the sky' popped into my head this morning as I was looking up at the cloud pattern against blue. Vault is a deep protected place for precious things, vault is a leap, vault is a high ceiling. The OED tells me that it means a curved ceiling supported by pillars. Or the space it covers. Or an underground space with a curved ceiling. Which all seem very different to me.

Tangentially, Wikipedia tells me that the word 'firmament' in the King James Bible was translated from the Hebrew word raqiya. And that word comes from a word that means “beaten out” in metalworking. The explanation says that the ancient Hebrews were extolling the handiwork of God who had somehow created the huge dome of the sky, as a humongous bowl of worked metal, infinitely beyond the capabilities of humans.

And then onto the Egyptian sky goddess Nut who is pictured as arched over the earth with the stars, moon and sun in her body. I can't find an image of her to link to that matches the one in my mind. And anyway she's not very vault like.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dry bones

Giant flowers
Georgia O'Keeffe's art I learned as part of the New Mexican arts identity. (By the way this is the first time I've ever noticed that her last name has two ffs. Huh.) It was presented as high art but also our (white people who love the southwest) art. And the more I've looked the more I've liked it. No matter that the giant flowers were supposed to be labial. No matter that the cow skull with flower became a 70s southwest cliche. No matter that she is a feminist icon. (I'm fine with having feminist icons but what I mean is that they are set apart and not just allowed to be artists.) I am always rewarded when I look at her works. When I first saw a bunch of the paintings I expected that I would find the flowers inspid. But there is a lot of movement and pow in them. (Those are technical art interpretation terms.) The Steiglitz photos of her are bonus fun. She lived outside of Abiquiu (and that is the back of beyond, beautiful and far from everything) for her last 2o-some-odd years. I loved reading this article about a show of her works at the Whitney in New York. I wish I could go.

Did your way-back namesake ancestors fight at the English battle of Agincourt? Here's a way to check. This database allows you to search the records of combatants by last name. Thank you, universities of Reading and Southampton. I was chuffed to see my family name in there. It's pretty uncommon in the states and I was surprised at how glad I felt to see it listed. I was just friended on Facebook by someone completely unknown to me but with the same last name. I wrote back to see if he wanted to try and figure out what degree of cousin we are.

Ever looked at cohousing? It's commune lite with modern real estate considerations included. There's a local group that owns townhouses not far from downtown, on the same side of the city as we are now. We went to their Sunday potluck last weekend. It was pretty jolly and our kids loved their treehouse. I felt like I recognized most of the people we met. Later I realized that it must be because they seemed so Bay Area-n to me. So we have found the epicenter of Bay Area living in Lawrence. And as they are finding it hard to sell their units, we may start renting there in January. Amazing.

On the pro side: recent buildings in excellent shape; good price rental; nice garden, landscaping and common areas to share; good location on a quiet street; kids for ours to play with. On the con side: count me scared of committee meetings; change of school district. Nod spoke with our principal yesterday and found out that the girls would finish the year where they are if we move in the middle. That's a relief. Then they'd be at a new school in the coming fall. We are trying to decide if we want to put down a deposit now. I'm making Nod make his own pro/con list and for us to go through all the items on both lists. Trying to make well founded decision. Tuesday I was just crushed down by all the uncertainty and change. But I've bobbed back up since then. Renting is less of a commitment than buying of course. But then I would hate to jerk the kids out of school *again* after next year. I am trying to be the beacon for continuity and stability in shifting seas. (I suppose if I'm the beacon I should try to stay on dry land.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Breathe and link

I am having to remind myself that I don’t like pralinĂ© chocolates. There are some in my line of sight as I sit at my desk. The snacky drive is strong today. Let’s see, what do I wish I was eating… rare roast beef slices with horseradish. Little radishes and salt. Pastel petits fours. Dried peaches. Pretzels. I had better stop now before I start gnawing my phone book.

Asthma diagnosis
Mulling this over after meeting with the pediatric asthma specialist Tuesday. I am having a hard time accepting that Lexi has asthma, full stop. I was okay thinking she had seasonal asthma symptoms. But simple, huge asthma is rough. I feel sad that she has asthma despite the breastfeeding, grubby house, early exposure to a pet, childcare from one year old and playing outside with dirt. I was hoping all those immune system building things would protect from that condition. But maybe inheritance trumps. Her dad has a sad tale of allergy shots for years when he was a small kid. The specialist said that the field was pretty voodoo-y at that time. So it probably didn’t do poor Nod much good (even worse).

I’m trying to be productively skeptical and not just resistant. But there is one piece of evidence that doesn’t fit with the asthma dealio. Lexi’s worst day was the morning after her fever broke. She had poor color, was listless and when we got her to the Dr.’s office we found she had a very low blood oxygen number. But no coughing. The doctor quizzed me about this. He said it would go against asthma as the diagnosis and he asked whether there could be some degree of coughing that I don’t remember because it seemed “normal”. I said that could be. But I can’t remember any coughing that morning, just ominous silence from our L. Nod agrees with me. What could give her such a reduced blood oxygen level that wasn’t pneumonia, flu or asthma? Criminy.

I am forging ahead with the inhaler and nose spray, despite this question. I’m glad to have a preventive strategy for this winter. I hope it helps a bunch. And I hope I don’t get any chance to observe any more episodes where Lexi is so sad and poorly.

Thanks to Kottke, I have now read about someone who infected himself (and continues to do so periodically) with parasitic hookworms in order to cure his asthma. (I’m guessing this person doesn’t get to share bodily fluids very often.) Here’s hoping the pharamaceutical researchers unlock that mechanism by which the hookworms suppress asthma symptoms with all speed. Shudder.

Via the polymathic Siris here’s an article about a possible technique used to create the illustrations on the Book of Kells and other illustrated manuscripts. The theory is that illustrators used stereoscopic focusing to create such precise tiny lines. (The URL reads "Kell’s Angels" Someone's having fun.)

Viking Heat. Really? Enough women buy dom/sub time travel romance novels to justify publishing this? Fascinating.

I have farmer's market okra in my crisper and just found this recipe on Homesick Texan. I'm off to make it soonest!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Catchall

Bookslut's brief review is making me want to read this new book: War Damage by Elizabeth Wilson. And I bet the Danish will want to read it too. Sounds too racy for the public library but maybe the university library will pick it up. I'll mark my calendar for March to check.

Horrid pun that I am very fond of: Nod tells me that he is home for lunch, being frugal. I reply that he's playing his frugal-horn. So. Godawful.

I have been collecting Lexi every day at lunch and bringing her home for a dose of nebulizer medicine. Then I get her to eat a quick lunch and return her to her kindergarten class. As a bonus I saw my second grader today getting an eye test in the hallway. They really are out of room at this school. They had a little set up on one side of the hall and it seemed to be working well. Katy was concentrating on the letters while I gave her a quick head kiss and kept moving.
Lexi has an appt to see the dr. tomorrow morning and we will (fingers crossed) get the okay to stop these noontime doses. All of us are tired of the rushing. I imagine doing this for much longer and totally losing my sense of humor. Part of having a trivial job is enjoying the bliss of a lunch hour To Myself.

A spells list for professors a la D&D. An impressive list from The Little Professor, I would have this posted by my desk if I was a university instructor.

The children helped me make gingerbread two nights ago. It was the Joy of Cooking recipe, made with a stick of butter. It is spicy and fragrant and rich and wonderful. But do we (meaning I) need to eat more butter? We (see above) do not. I noticed that JoC also has a version using applesauce instead of fat. I am going to try it and we'll see whether the spices can make up for the lack of beautiful unctuous butter. I make a banana cake (recipe from Blue's Clues. Thanks for this and so much else, Steve!) that has no added fat. But I ice it with butter frosting because that makes it goooood. Also in this category, my boss brought us some pear bread she made this week. It was a no added fat loaf and it was tasty. But gritty in that pear way. So I think I'll stick to apples or prunes (yum) for my fruit substitutes. I am not renouncing butter but just exploring my options here.

Enjoy your weekend. If it's not rainy where you are and the skies are clear, please enjoy it for me. Huff, harrumph.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Return of the Neen

After Labor Day Sale
Back from the long weekend and feeling like getting reconnected. I can't spend the same amount of time on Facebook as I did over the summer but maybe I can make a weekly commitment. Now that we have a plan (bankruptcy, moving to a rental probably in March) my ambient stress levels are better. I am surprised to find that this doesn't make me want to socialize much but instead I feel hollowed out. Guess I'll watch and see what happens with the moods but am going to make some maintenance efforts anyway. Time to put some energy in to connections. So hi - I think I'm back.

A visiting university instructor asked me to open her umbrella in our copier room so it could dry. It had a composed b&w photo animal image: wolves, polar bear, grizzly and an owl on top. They're all pasted together in a way that suggests the animals sat close together for this portrait. It has a roughly triangular shape and with the owl on top it looks like it should be called Big Pile of Predators. Which I wish was a product name so I could ask, "Can you help me? I'm looking for a Big Pile of Predators".

I got to practice my worm sacrifice with the kids yesterday. We visited the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park Kansas. As Nod said, it was pretty much Knott's Berry Farms with no rides. It contains a petting zoo (goats), extremely clean cows, a handful of playgrounds, an Indian earth lodge and teepees, and a fish pond. For $3 you get a cane pole with a bare hook and a little bucket of nightcrawlers. With these tools you find a spot to perch and try to get an itty bitty fish to eat your worm. I found a spot in the shade and was very happy. The girls loved it. Nod and I did too. So I guess they're old enough and we should get on with this fishing thing. Lexi even lifted a fish out of the water by herself. She didn't mind that it flipped itself off the hook before we could land it. The fish we saw were about 3 or 4 inches long. Nod suggested using a wounded one as bait but as far as I could tell there was nothing in that water that would have a big enough mouth to eat it. We all got a bunch of sun and walking and it was very good family fun even though it was in full holiday spate.

Lexi had an asthma flare up after her minor virus last week. Her fever went away and I figured she'd be headed back to school but the next day -- wham -- she was droopy and pale yellow and couldn't eat or do anything. Nod wanted to take her to the ER. I convinced him to go the Dr. office route so he called and communicated his worry in such a way that they told me to bring her right in. She was a sad customer. Her oxygen levels were very low. I didn't realize that asthma could attach so quickly. I hadn't heard her wheezing but I guess it was because she was taking such shallow breaths. We were sent for a chest xray to rule out pneumonia. No pneumonia and no flu (a relief since H1N1 is happening on campus here and there in the dorms) just irritated breathing passages. So we're nebulizing 3 or 4 times a day and giving her an oral steroid too. This round has scared me a bit. I am willing to do lots of nebulizer sessions as needed. But I may have to invest in some new DVDs.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Worms and Jane

Lots of rain for the start of classes here. Twice I walked through the pouring rain to work last week. The smell of rotting worms came up from the lawns afterwards. I have a soft spot for worms. I hate to see them drowning on sidewalks. Do they drown in the mud too? I feel like saving the ones that are stuck on the pavement. I did actually pick up and fling two worms to grassy safety. Maybe that's enough this semester. I don't like the smell on my fingers. This concern for our annelid friends seems odd to me because from a tiny child I was taught to cheerfully thread worms and pieces of worms on hooks to tempt the fish. I did have some crisis of empathy about it once I got to be eight or nine. But the possibility of fish always won out. So I guess I'm kind to worms unless I want to use them for bait. Those are my rules, worms,
you've been warned.

Finished watching Emma last night and the experience turned out to be yet another gift with love from my worthless memory. I enjoyed it very much but I had indeed seen the whole thing. Although I have no memory of the event (a little scary?) I'm sure it must have been the Danish who sat me down and watched it with me. At any rate the movie captures the feeling of joy very well. A little too glib, but they can't just read the novel's dialog now can they? I like GP's acting, her neck is incredibly expressive in this film and her voice is pretty wonderful. I had forgotten that Frank Churchill is played by Ewan McGregor, another lovely voice. I was sorry they didn't include her making amends with Miss Bates and Miss Jane Fairfax. But plenty of good stuff including what must be an English Country Dance enthusiast's wet dream of a ball sequence. It shows significant amounts of at least two dances and advances the plot while doing so. Bravo!

Now I feel that I should include my book report on Pride and Prejudice. But I've missed the moment a bit. I finished it just before the beginning of semester tsunami hit. So I'm left trying to remember what in my brain then. When I got to the end of the novel I was smiling at Miss Elizabeth's triumph over Mr. Darcy. It made me want to study this in conjunction with Taming of the Shrew (high school english teachers everywhere are applauding my insight). It seems as one-sided as that is, in its way. Absolutely delightful. Elizabeth and her father are great characters. The plight of feeling ashamed of one's family must be universal and is very well rendered here. Elizabeth gets to be critical and
demanding while being loving and valuing goodness. Of course I enjoyed her spleen. Here's some when she has come to stay with her sister Jane, taken sick at the Bingley's home. The two ladies of the house make much of Jane when she's around but can't be bothered with her when she's not so, "their indifference towards Jane when not immediately before them restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her former dislike.” A girl after my own heart.

My Austen summer was a big success. I'm so glad to know these novels at last, as more than the script source for so many period costume dramas.

Friday, August 21, 2009


My boss told us a story yesterday that her husband had brought back from his weekend of camping in Oklahoma. He was in line behind an rv camper who was complaining to the campsite office that there were way too many trees around his site. All those dang trees were preventing his satellite tv from receiving a signal and he was really steamed about it. We laughed but I wondered how prevalent this was. Dr. Google to the rescue. Here's a page of campground reviews from the perspective of the rv'er who values wifi, cable TV and good clear satellite reception (i.e. not too many damn trees). Amazing world we live in. Philistines in my view, but sounds like there must be plenty who feel this way.

We camped last weekend. Just one night out on a sandbar in the middle of the Missouri River. Our wonderful relatives hosted and packed the boat full of supplied and wrangled the tents into submission etc. etc. They are saintly. It was tiring but fun. The kids were extremely excited about the whole camping concept and about being out in a giant sandbox.

Still lots of worky work here at work. But I had my really shitty day earlier in the week so I feel like it's downhill from here. (The good kind of downhill, where you don't have to keep climbing). I'm done having my nose out of joint after my boss sent me an email to tell me how she didn't like how I'd been doing my paper pushing. I have done what she asked even though I didn't like how she asked for it. And both my cramps and the rain have stopped. So it's a beautiful day today. Hello, you beautiful Friday afternoon, you!

Zing lived up to her name and after her spaying last week continued to run around and play and run and up and down the stairs. And after a week had pulled out all but one of her belly stitches. I had Nod get a collar to put on her head but then I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was worried about the vision of her thrashing into walls trying to get it off. Nod took her to the vet's office yesterday and they gave her antibiotics, recommended keeping her confined in a carrier and insisted on the collar. So we're doing that. And she mostly holds still while she has the collar on so her belly is looking better already. I r idiot re: spayed cat bellies. Live and learn.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kit Kat and Socking it Away

A cat adopted us a week ago. She showed up in the yard while Nod was working outside. And wouldn't leave, mewing at the door. He fed her, which I thought was not a good idea. She was hungry but she had a flea collar on and looked clean and healthy. No ribs poking out. It was the end of July/beginning of August moving weekend. In our town that's when most of the students do their move outs/ move ins. So I guess she got lost. She didn't seem to have claws and I relented on the feeding front. I decided she could stay while we looked for her owners.

We checked the listings for lost cats and posted signs on our corner. No dice. All the lost cat postings in our area were for gray cats. We let her in the house and that was that. She's little and gentle (no biting or scratching) and likes people. She comes running if you call to her. The girls are delighted and we grups are pleased too.

So far Zing is very easy to live with. Except for going into heat. But even that hasn't been too annoying as she's so small and quiet. Her spay appointment is tomorrow. The vet told us that she's somewhere between 8 and 12 months old and weighs just under 8 pounds. Her claws have grown back, so she wasn't declawed, just ground them down while sleeping rough I guess. She is a light orange cat with orange brown eyes, a buff belly and a floofy tail. I find her tail shape intriguing and wish I could think of more words to describe it. A bit like a plume, not la plume de ma tante, but an ostrich plume. Very flexible. The long hair is beginning to float around our house and a new vacuuming regime will need to begin. I'm handling the cat pan so I think Nod will be promoted to Captain Vacuum.

Bankruptcy learning continues. When you declare bankruptcy the court seizes your assets (except for the excepted ones, like cars, whew) to pay your bills. Which makes sense. And while it's a good thing that we're doing this now before we're so strapped we can't afford to move, that means we have more money in the bank than we want to give to the court. That sounds grasping and I am forced to admit that maybe that is the most economical description. We need to decide the timing of the bankruptcy and do something with the money that remains to us before declaring. I've learned that we'll be in the house for longer than I realized, six to nine months after declaring b/k. So that puts us to late winter, early spring before we would be out of lodging. Interesting.

Older notes, not revised:
Mother in law has been wonderful with children this week. I think they have not been crabby with her, but she might not tell me even if they were. She called this morning to ask if she would be stepping on any toes if she took them clothes shopping at Target. I assured her that no toes would be harmed and that she would probably get big interest from the kids. I suggested that she try to find a pair of shoes for Lexi. I didn't mean to play a trick on her with that. Lexi got very very picky about what shoes she would put on her feet this past spring. They can't be too big or too squeezy and I get frustrated very quickly when shopping with her. At least I know that I have to have her with me now when trying to shoe her. MIL will be with us until early Sunday morning. What a generous loving soul she is. And I'll be glad to say goodbye and have my space back. But I'm glad that I got over my snit last weekend and I have been sincerely grateful for her presence this week.

It feels like so much is shifting right now. Thank you forces of change; we're ready to ride. New cat, new commute strategy and parking lot; new job for Nod, new school for Lexi; new home to come.

Got a call from Nod at the b/k atty today saying something about a "spend down" and that maybe I should open an IRA. Ugh. More things I don't understand. So I guess we don't get to keep all our money in the bank if we're claiming that we can't meet our debts? Okay, sounds reasonable. But how do we live and pay for a new apt. in particular if we have to give up that money? More grilling of Nod to come tonight.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fair Time

County fair barrel racing was good free fun last Friday evening. Half a moon rising in a beautiful twilight while the horse folk groomed sleek beasts and rode. MIL took the girls this morning early to see the llama show. I'm jealous. We will probably all go out to the carnival later tonight.

Over the weekend we hit the zoo and playground and carousel in Topeka. (That zoo link is not very interesting and I'm surprised that no one has created a website for the whole park. I'm not even bothering to link the wikipedia entry as it's paltry and missing vital ingredients.) Much fresh air and sunshine was imbibed. The lions were reclining in the shade when we went by them in the late afternoon. There were two females lying up against the glass in the viewing corner. So we were only inches away from them. Amazing. The only unpleasant event was Nod's carousel injury. Men, learn from his mistake. Keep your jewels away from the carousel pole! It pinches. (He has made a full recovery.) Otherwise we were all smiles.

Avant moi, le deluge. The first day of fall classes is 8/20. Our pace in the office is picking up and will reach fever pitch in the next two weeks. Blogging will be scarce.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Flyday

I had a recent "health screening" appointment. I did it to get the $50 gift card which was the carrot for state employees. They took my ht and wt (I kicked off my shoes for this and exposed a hole in my sock. How old am I?) and stuck my finger to measure cholesterol. I had to fast but had a 7am appt. so it was relatively painless. The peanut butter and honey on whole wheat sandwich I ate in the parking lot afterwards tasted heavenly. My 'good' HDL cholesterol is low. My 'bad' LDL cholesterol is low. Cardio exercise is supposed to help raise HDL levels. And you can take omega 3 supplements (fish or flax). I have tried walking at my lunch hour but haven't made it more than twice a week so far. This week I haven't been out walking once. Walking fast sounds so good to me right now. It's not very hot (highs weirdly in the 80s again) and the illusion of flight is appealing as well as the idea of helping my physical being. I have to figure out how to make it happen.

Additional important news about me: I don't like hazelnut butter in chocolate. I like hazelnuts (or filberts as my mother calls them) just fine on their own but praliné filled things, the Belgian specialty, leave me cold no matter how good the chocolate is. I just ate one to make sure. Yup, still don't like it. It tastes unctuous (which ought to be good but not in this case) and almost spoiled to me. Which seems unfair -- why am I prevented from enjoying this variety of luxury chocs?! I like plain chocolate of all qualities and don't mind crispy rice (I typed 'krispy' first, packaging spelling is getting to me), coconut or almonds. Cookie (twix etc) tastes good every once in a while. I went off of peanuts for a while but am back to them now. Just no high falutin praliné, thanks very much.

Nod had the meeting with the bankruptcy attorney yesterday. He was dreading it but came back in a much better mood. The remedy is there and will help us. So far we are looking at chapter 7 b/k and giving up the house. I think that's best although there will be the chaos of moving and apt. hunting. It should buy us a few more months in the house at any rate so I can get methodical about how we will dispose of / contain our belongings. Nod is also finding jobs to apply for. He had two interviews this week and has two scheduled for next week. I'm so glad he's able to carry on.

I'm ready to leave for the week. It's very quiet here so lots of us are on vacation. Next week there will be more instructors in town prepping for the start of the semester. Turn turn turn. Happy weekend, all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


From the queen, Dooce.com, an excerpt from her post 7/28 about pregnancy with her second child:
...here's where we take a moment of silence to honor Jon and what he had to endure for the following nine months as he basically lived with two pregnant women. Double the complaining and bitching and neurotic pacing over the weight gain. Seriously, how do polygamists do it? I mean, at least Jon could drink. Polygamists not only do it willingly, THEY DO IT SOBER.
This reveals Heather's Utah roots of course. Just to be pedantic I will assert that in the history of the world there have been simultaneous pregnancies in a polygamist household that did indeed include husbandly drinking.

Reading update. Finished Inkheart last night, in case we talk about it at my next book group meeting. It was long. I would have liked it as a young person. And I liked it pretty well, esp. the ending. But long, people, all 528 some odd pages of it. Finished (to my own satisfaction) Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves. I started this when I chanced upon the following quote, which was whipped out in Language Hat's comments:
Professor Edgeworth, of All Souls', avoided conversational English, persistently using words and phrases that one expects to meet only in books. One evening, Lawrence returned from a visit to London, and Edgeworth met him at the gate. "Was it very caliginous in the Metropolis?" "Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated", Lawrence replied gravely.

—Robert Graves, Good-Bye to All That, p. 372.

I just couldn't resist. (Part of the appeal being that I didn't know either of those words. Instead of referring to heat as I guessed, they refer to darkness and obscurity.) (Oh and that's T.E. Lawrence replying there. Lots of lovely English letters name dropping.) I enjoyed the beginning and end of the book. But I found myself skipping over the meat of the book, which is Graves' WWI personal history. "Reminiscences" is what I wrote first but that word has a warm and comfy glow inappropriate to his stories of death and extremity. He was shell shocked after the war and found that he had waking dreams (flashbacks) of scenes from his first four months of combat. No intrusive memories of his service after those first four months. After that time he says, my imagination must have given up.

Still reading Persuasion. We're in Bath now and cousin Mr. Elliot's hard-hearted scheming has been revealed by Anne's invalid friend. Oh I see I'm almost at the end. It's lovely but I'm still wrassling with what the word persuasion means. The more I think about it, the more slippery it gets. This book has renewed my desire to visit Portsmouth and Lyme and the coasts there. Fossils and British naval history, what more could one want? Onward in my Austen revels! I have worked from least appealing to most appealing on purpose. Though MP was the only slog and even that provided much food for thought. Which #&# will I choose to go on with? Probably Pride and Prejudice as I've watched S&S recently and want to end up with that one.

My mother-in-law is en route from Austin. We expect her tomorrow night. She's here to help us out by enjoying her granddaughters during their last week of summer with no preschool or school substitutes. It will be good to see her. Not sure whether we'll talk about our latest money troubles or not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last weekend's play by play

Saturday, determined to enjoy cool non muggy weather this weekend. Up and at ‘em with the kids. Got package ready to mail. Got children and husband to contribute notes/pictures for package. Took youngest child with me to post office. Post office strangely quiet, only one person ahead of us. Mailed pkg, picked up husb’s registered letter from atty. The one that tells us that the mortgage holder actually wants all that money we haven’t paid since March. But I’ve already cried over that so I felt nothing but happy with little girl who is looking for metal things to stick her magnetic doll to. Inside mailbox handles, fail. Outside railings, success! We cruise over to the Catholic thrift shop. School desk out front tempts me. We go through the kid clothes and sewing stuff. Lexi decides she doesn’t need any of the toys (hurray). School desk still available, $3, twist my arm. It almost fits in the hatchback; I drive back quietly so as not to bang the back windshield against it. Friend calls, walk to park for free music? Yes. It was an all day fundraiser for the local American music school. (They need some volunteer web help too.) Music midday was painfully dull (“Where have all the flowers gone” played by the cheery folks just 10 or 15 years older than we are. Truly should have been a private, not a public performance.) But the actual flowers in the park were dazzling and it was a great day to play Frisbee with Katy.

Returned after early dinner. Oh but first Lexi threw a tantrum when I wouldn’t disconnect hose from outside tap. Then Katy burst into tears when it was revealed I had mailed the wrong drawing to our cousins. I had no idea what demons had crawled inside them. But it was just hunger. Feeding restored tempers and we boogied back to the park. Music much better at this point in the lineup and the crowd was filling out too. It sounded as though they had made some money already. Good. Cowgirl band and a great local group that played Keep on the Sunny Side, Dark as a Dungeon, and that old country classic Tequila! They also played one I’d never heard. Some research reveals that it’s ‘The Gold Rush Is Over and the Bum’s Rush is On' by Hank Snow. Highly recommended.

Sunday, felt like I was moving through water or maybe had invisible heavy boots on. I was slow but efficient. Grocery store quiet. This must be the week that everyone is on vacation, our town is really sleepy. (Note to add that my commute has gone from 8 and a half minutes to 3 minutes. Freaky.) Told Nod that I was waiting for this malaise to go ahead and be my period already. if I didn’t start bleeding then I would just have to cut my head off. Reconsidered, too much work. I enjoyed going to church. Both girls need haircuts. Lexi tells me she wants hers bobbed chin length again. I keep asking her about it and she’s sure. So I think I’ll take her to the kid haircut shop on the east side. With a photo.

Monday morning finally brought the shedding of the uterine lining. Whew. The thing about pms is that you worry that it’s the new normal. No doubt I will look back on this in ten years and laugh.

Reading Robert Graves’ memoir Goodbye to All That. He had ten brothers and sisters. The last two were born when his mother was 44 and 48 years old. Good gravy. Sure hope I don’t get to experience that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July Misc.


An article about writer Jack Vance in the NY Times. Found via the Crooked Timber post and discussion that I'm still reading through. Mmm, vicious fantasy adventure stories with elaborate and drily humorous language. I am not widely read in Vance, but I love what I've found. It's nice knowing that there's lots more out there left to find too. I loved reading that PGW is his literary hero. And what a great two syllable name he has: Jack Vance. You can practically see the testosterone shimmer coming off of it. Perhaps related: he never wrote a good female character. Someone in the CT discussion describes him as one of those "reactionary artists whose work I love anyway." Yup.


Because it made me laugh, here’s a link to a list of revered literary works the article writers say you can safely skip: http://thesecondpass.com/?p=1663 (via kottke.org)

I’ve read two on the list: 100 Yrs of Solitude which I loved; Absalom Absalom which was fun because I read it for book group and I enjoyed listening to people complain about it. I also enjoyed the texture of his prose which is like nothing else.

I wish it was real

Hello Kitty Vader from the recent Hello Kitty post at Cake Wrecks. Scroll down, the rest of the post is just mediocre for Cake Wrecks. But that photoshopped Vader costume is mind blowing.

Awww Dept.

Yesterday Lexi came home and asked for reindeer (Ranier) cherries. She's my dumpling. I got to watch her at the playground on Sunday evening, jumping to catch onto bars to swing from. She was happy and beautiful and I felt very lucky.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Far and Near

Tribute in NM

Went to ABQ and saw Mom and Bro. On my flight into ABQ I sat next to a friendly Canadian who was starting a week's vac in northern NM. Told him about Los Alamos and the Jemez and Bandelier. We discussed China and climate change and it was civilized fun. My mother seems well, and my brother is okay. I hope he and I can both feel more prosperity soon. It was a good visit and included plenty of spicy food.

We went up and did the memorial service for Aunt Betty on Sunday in Santa Fe. I enjoyed the drive up and seeing cousins and so on. But it was draining. Somehow I expected it to be more schmoozy (sorry Betty), but it was definitely about grieving. I had a very awkward conversation with a woman who grew up in Paris but has lived in the U.S. since the late 60s. My mother waved me over so I could speak French and talk Paris with her. That didn’t go so well and I just clammed up. I can think of all sorts of self deprecating ways to smooth it over charmingly now. But in the moment I had nothing. Sorry, Dominique. The next day when I flew out, I found one of my younger cousins on the same flight to Denver. It was nice to talk with her, it made a good ending for me. She is one of my adorable Iranian American cousins who is working on a law degree at Cornell. I think she is going to take over the world once she’s done because she is warm, smart and disarmingly beautiful and I can’t imagine who would dare to stand in her way. Mayors will be handing over keys to cities and so forth.

So obliged

Finishing Emma was just lovely. It provided plenty of charm and delight. Emma Woodhouse as a character is attractive and attractively flawed. She is well intentioned and fairly generous and yet a sinner. She shows determination to improve herself and then laughs at her own backsliding. She is bright and mischievous and admires cutting up in others. Such a contrast to Fanny Price, an almost entirely unattractive heroine. After finishing Emma I was able to read the last chapter of Jane Austen and Food which was devoted to this book because there are more explicit food refs in it than in any other of the novels. And I do recommend Maggie Lane’s book. She ends by describing her own interpretation of the author’s meanings as open to criticism as unproblematic and too cosy. She then discusses the inequities portrayed in the book in more stark terms. I like how she shows she can whip out the social/gender critiques, just in case you thought she couldn’t. And that she is comfortable with her decision to interpret JA as prizing balance and harmony within existing hierarchies. The world of Emma Woodhouse Knightley is a lovely world indeed. If only we could all be beautiful twenty-one year old heiresses with good hearts.

I remember actress Sophie Thompson in the role of Miss Bates in the 1996 film. (I saw the first half in a San Francisco movie theater that went dark in the middle due to a power outage. Don't think I ever saw the end.) It is a wonderful part and her performance stays with me.

I hear there is a Bollywood version of the story going to go into production next spring. Don’t know how long it will take to get to theaters or whether we will hear much about it in the US. But I will be watching out for it; the title so far is Ayesha. It stars the daughter of Anil Kapoor (who will produce it) who I looked up after seeing Slumdog. He's the actor who played the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host and I loved watching him.

Back to the real world/wreck

Got a letter yesterday from a law firm in our region. It states our mortgage holder’s rights and that they intend to collect the five months we’re overdue. It gave me a shake and I sobbed for a while. I’m going to have Nod call the HUD counseling number listed at the end. I had hoped we could be moving out of this by now. But we are stuck as fast as ever. We can’t pay them anything unless Nod generates some income. Our nest egg has dwindled. But we have enough to move if we need to. Lordy. I realize I need to do some reading on foreclosure and bankruptcy. There’s some unappetizing homework.

P.S. I'm making more chicken tikka masala this weekend.
P.P.S. to Bee: I've started Persuasion. I'm thoroughly enjoying catching up on my Austen for the summer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Pwnd -- this is a link to a Snopes.com article about the names with "dash" in the middle.

Turns out I have participated in repeating a racist urban myth. No "pronounced dash" trend after all. Sorry for spreading my gullible white sense of superiority there.

As you were, dashed or not.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Comments and Emma tidbits

Why blog commenting is hard. I have been thinking about this because I am a voracious blog reader but an infrequent commenter. Recently Schmutzie asked all readers to post a comment, tell where they were located and answer a question. (It was a great question: What crazy belief did you have as a child?) But instead of making me want to comment, most blog posts inspire me to the following reactions: 1. Whee! You're right and you stated that in a funny way -- I have nothing to add! 2. I think you're wrong but I like your writing. 3. Your life is summoning my pity. Or last but perhaps most frequent: 4. That reminds me of something in my life. Attaboy flattery comments get boring really quick. Goofy jokey responses can be fun or can fall flat, especially considering vastly different senses of humor. Self involved answers can seem selfish and be off topic. (Oh you and your husband both lost your jobs in the same week? That reminds me of my personal financial woes which don't resemble yours, but they're still woes!) If there's an established commenter group that can be intimidating too. Excuses all. Will make an effort and comment on something today.

Gems from Emma
"...and half an hour's uninterrupted communication of all those little matters on which the daily happiness of private life depends, was one of the first gratifications..." So well put, the comforts and joys of female relating. The satisfaction of telling a sympathetic friend all the tiny ups and downs of the day. Something I get from blogging often enough these days. But I'm still hoping to establish a few local friends who like to share these things.

"It was rather too late in the day to set about being simple-minded and ignorant" Ha.

"Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of." That phrase 'interesting situations' is wry but the meaning seems warm. A little arch but warm, it's an uncommon combination.

Yesterday's post today!

From Jonniker's comment section for the baby name discussion:

"... my best friend worked in a NICU for awhile, and the best name story she has is the name La-a. The doctor came in and said, “La … a?” And the mother said, “No, it’s pronounced LADASHA.” TRUE. STORY."

Wow. It took me a minute to even get that one. And then there are two more examples of the Pronounced Dash, so it's a whole trend I didn't know about.

Names are the most fun, aren't they? I had a wonderful time arguing with Nod about names while pregnant. We have a daughter Elizabeth in the parallel universe in which the two of us could agree on a nickname for that wonderful name. Damn, I still regret that just a little. There are so many! Betty, Bess, Eliza, Lizzie, Ellie, it just goes on and on. Someone else admitted in those comments that as a high schooler she had wanted to name a baby Skilre (to be pronounced Skyler). She was properly abashed. I have admitted before to having a teenage dalliance with the Elizabeth variant 'Elspeth' which at the time seemed all ancient and magic-y. But now seems just devolved and dorklike.

Cake alert!

Here's what I baked on Wednesday evening.

My variations: I made it with two peaches, peeled and diced instead of the berries. And I used plain yogurt instead of the buttermilk. It was scrumptious. We ate it up for dessert last night and breakfast this morning.

The smitten Deb is pregnant and I figure she went and did that because it's about the only thing that could make this cooking blog more attractive. She's stylish and casual and NY chic. With her fastidious nature she produces pretty pictures and well enunciated cooking instructions.

Off to ABQ this weekend, to visit the relations and say goodbye to my great aunt Betty. She was a lovely person. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I love this image. First of all it reminds me of packaging for anti itch cream. Second the graphic artist erred and picked a nonsequitur for the photo. This woman is scheming to win her gin rummy game, not contemplating the future as revealed by the tarot deck. And third I love giant psychic advertising. There's a billboard by the freeway in Albuquerque that I see every time I come in from the airport. "Ask Ava" is the copy with a big spooky face. There's just something about the urgency of big form advertising recommending psychic services that makes me laugh.

Hol Report

Our Missouri jaunt was great fun even though we got a bunch of rain and the 4th fireworks were almost entirely rained out. Robert’s grandson Jared is just a bit older than Katy and the three younger kids had a great time palling around together. Jared is always up for a swim in the pond or a boat ride so he was happy we were there to enjoy those with him. It was too chilly for me to get in the spring fed pond this trip. I have no regrets.

The kids loved it despite the cool temps. Katy specialized in the slide and paddling out on a body board. Lexi stayed at the sandy beach and, as usual, was happiest playing with sand/dirt. Katy enjoyed ordering Jared around (a change of pace from ordering Lexi around). She had him push her out on the board while she scooped up dead tadpoles in a bucket. She called them all “Swimmy” (she thought that was very funny). She pointed to the side and told Jared to steer her thataway toward a dead tadpole. “That one might be... That one’s still alive,” said Jared. “But it’s sick!” returned Katy cheerfully, scooping it up. In between the scooping, Katy made sure to shriek about how gross dead tadpoles were. After collecting the dead (or mostly) tadpoles in the bucket, she left it on the beach and got busy with something else. Soon after I heard Katy howling at her sister. Lexi had offended her by dumping out the Swimmies so she could use the bucket. Funny and yet tiresome all at once.

We’d been told that a neighbor had bought $2,000 worth of fireworks to set off at the boat dock on the 4th. This neighbor is some sort of an heiress who is a river rat. I don’t know if she is known for anything else. There had been lots of rain (and thunder and lightning) the night of the 3rd and through the morning but the forecast was that it would clear for the late afternoon and evening. Robert took us out on the boat around 7p and we enjoyed the view of the rising moon, some fluffy white clouds, swallows, and a pair of roosting bald eagles!! But the clouds were lowering and by the time we’d floated near the eagles, it had started to sprinkle. And then rain, luckily a warm summer rain. Back at the boat dock, the fireworks woman had decided that maybe it would just be a quick shower so she would go ahead with the fireworks that she’d spent a couple of hours setting out. We got out of the boat and it continued to be wet. We sat in the car while she started lighting fuses. And the rain got harder and harder.

When the windows in the car fogged up I rolled them down and told the kids, “Now we may hear some cussing.” Jared told us that he knew all the cuss words already from his teenage sister. He said something about calling people cuss words. He looked at me doubtfully and said, “Can I say one?” Oh yes, one is fine, I said, figuring we were going to have a discussion of ‘shit’ and its variations. Thus advancing my educational agenda. But Jared said “Stupid. It’s not allowed to call people ‘stupid’.” Aww, then he and his parents went up in my estimation.

Nod borrowed a blow torch and tried to help. But even when he got some fuses lit they would get put out by the rain. There was much yelling and laughing to be heard. Finally they got a nice sequence lit and we clapped and whooped (from inside the car). But the sluicing rain finally discouraged even the determined and we gave it up.

Our sweet hosts fed us fresh veggies from their beautiful garden and we lounged on the porch and had the resort experience. Their tomatoes are coming in early. The day we got there Robert discovered a huge tomato had been chewed while still hanging on the vine. It looked like a cartoon apple core, chewed all the way around. We couldn’t agree on which type of critter would do that. And speaking of critters we also saw cardinals, indigo buntings, deer, bunnies and a fox. The frogs and toads were profuse, despite the tadpole body count in the pond. I especially liked the itty bitty toad I saw by the front door one morning. It was the size of the first joint of my thumb.

Oh and speaking of thumbs, Nod received the sacrificial fireworks injury of the holiday. A disintegrating sparkler (of all things) burnt a spot on his thumb. It blistered but didn't require ER and looked much better the next day. I was mildly sympathetic but mostly grateful that none of the kids got hurt.

Tues: I am sleepy and bored this afternoon. This condition could explain my sudden fierce yen for a bowl of red licorice or something sweet to munch. But tasks are being accomplished so I suppose I will keep sipping my rooibos tea and getting things done.

I'm giving up on my Norwegian detective novel. Harry Hole is no Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg if you ask me. Alexandria on the other hand is just as delightful as I had hoped. I recently tried foisting the Aubrey / Maturin books on a coworker. He's working on the first one. It remains to be seen if he'll sign on for the full voyage.