Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Improbable Tasty Words

Improbable was Sunday's word of the day. It was a day of sun, bright blue sky, white and gray clouds that looked freshly washed. I got up and asked Nod how we could help each other exercise. He helped me get outside for a walk in the afternoon and then he got his bike ride in. The crisp air (low 70s) and sunshine felt so good. The northern european in me felt that this was the perfect temperature. I started jogging and did 15 or 20 minutes. I have never aspired to be a runner* so it felt very out of character. (*In fact on many occasions I have sworn I would never be a runner. Honestly this was probably an artefact of the cool air and need to kick up my heels. There's only a slight chance I might have to eat those words.) I may look up "Couch to 5K" just to get some stretch ideas and try not to hurt myself. Clarification: I have no desire to run a 5K. But damn, it's hard to beat stepping outside and running for accessible exercise. The paved rail trail near our house is the icing on the cake. Nod said it's mostly a drag having seasonal affective disorder. But on the other hand, we know that whenever he can take a bike ride in the sunshine he will be happy.

We've stopped poisoning the cat. Zing was throwing up everything for a week and after a vet visit didn't offer any clues or treatment besides a nausea suppressor, I decided it was the food we were feeding her. Rather, the cheap kibble that I had mixed with the more expensive kibble. Said cat is better now and it makes me feel good to think that at the least I eliminated it as a possibility. I'd like to keep my cute floofy cat, thank you.

Red nose blues
I've had to stop using my yeast derived face cream. My nose is red and sore and sprouting the occasional zit. I've been dabbing it with neosporin but after some reading this morning will stop. (Overuse of general antibacterial products tending to result in resistant bacteria. Oh right.) Next home remedy I plan to try: yogurt. I will apply it for ten minutes once a day. I may report results if they are exciting.


And whoa -- I am pretty excited. One application this morning and already things are looking better. Instead of red and shiny all over I just have a deep pink area on one side of the nose. Yogurt = my friend.

Word Juggling for no particular reason Lawyers, Guns and Money  ::  Ladders, Gums and Nubbin

Dean of Libraries, isn't that a great title? The plural makes it sound like a Tarot card. Five of Wands, Two of Cups, Dean of Libraries...


Books i've been reading: Tom Holt's humorous fantasy novels. He's a British writer and I read some of his first novels back in the early 80s (Who's Afraid of Beowulf and Expecting Someone Taller I remember as charming). I got an itch to read him again and couldn't find anything although I could see that he's written stacks of books that appear to be fairly popular in the UK. I visited the huge and extremely satisfying used book store Page One Too in Albuquerque and found some of his novels. After reading these two: Here Comes the Sun and Odds and Gods I am underwhelmed. In fact they made me want to read Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett who both write/wrote in the same genre and did it better (sorry Tom). Try some of his earlier stuff if you have a hankering.

My mother's been reading Diary of a Provincial Lady and enjoying it as I knew she would. She doesn't speak French so she's a little frustrated by those untranslated bits.


Something on Twitter for you: Ruth Bourdain, a mashup of Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain. Here's a quickie interview on Chow.com.

A pretty tree decorated with a labyrinth.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Just checked in online for my Southwest flight. I'll be meeting my brother when I get to the ABQ airport* tomorrow at 4:30. Mom's still moving slowly and letting her bruises heal. It's nice RB can drive me instead of a taxi. I need to find out how he's doing lately. Last I heard he'd thrown over HVAC grunt work for roofing estimates.

*This link about "terminal art" was the best I could find related to the International Sunport. I expected that they would have some sexy photos of the floor-to-ceiling two story observation lounge or some of the other areas. But nothing like that. They are missing a bet and being too modest. I know AM agrees with me that it's a very comfy airport.


The pilot took us around a towering anvil cloud out of Kansas City. At first a grey layer of cloud obscured the sun with just a chink showing sun bright clouds beyond. Then we  curved around and out into the sunshine. The clouds are such a provocation to my brain: they look like substantial sculptures. But they are just plumes and piles of water vapor. Snow, waves, mountains, curtains, clouds are nothing but similes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Elided previously

Things I've been mulling over before typing about them: my mother's heart health crisis and Katy's first piano recital that did not go so well.

Mom went to the dog shows over labor day as per usual. This year Token, the small standard poodle, has pretty much opted out of obedience training. She likes the training actually but is not happy in the ring and Mom has decided there's not much point in showing her. Some dogs love to perform and some would rather not, thank you. Risa the plenty big curly coated retriever is the other contender. She's headstrong and not reliable but young yet so Mom has had high hopes. They went unfulfilled over the holiday weekend because Risa didn't pass even one of her classes. It's Utility, the most complicated class with directed jumps and scent articles, so this isn't unprecedented. But it is disappointing. When Mom was telling me about this she mentioned that she'd had some weird chest pressure when she was walking the dog over the weekend too. She was trying to shrug it off. I asked her not to forget about it but ask her doctor. Then on the holiday Monday she had it again, worse.

She said she felt better when she didn't run and then when she didn't walk fast. By Wednesday she told me she was "gliding" - moving carefully and smoothly so as not to feel the pressure. On Thursday she saw her doctor, was sent directly to the heart center and admitted for the night. They told her it was classic coronary artery disease. The next day they did a cardiogram, injecting dye to see exactly which artery was blocked and they placed a stent to clear the block. She was in recovery that afternoon and called me. I was very glad to hear her voice and surprised that she didn't need someone else to call. They kept her one more night and then sent her home. A doctor told her the artery had been 98% blocked.

She's been tended by her friends and neighbors who live on her street. They are kind of a tight bunch of senior citizens. I'm so glad they're all taking care of each other. I asked Mom if she wanted me to move my trip up a week but she said she would be okay and would be happy to see me on the 18th as planned. My brother is going to come down that weekend from Denver too. "I guess he's worried about me" she says. Yes, I think so.

Mom says it felt very surreal to be in the hospital being told she had heart disease and was to have a surgical intervention. I've also had trouble believing all this. As RB said, she's the thin, active one with the low blood pressure. But menopause put an end to the low blood pressure and her activity level doesn't come with any aerobic exercise beyond walking faster than anyone else I've ever known. We're all susceptible to heart disease if we live long enough.

Mom is recovering slowly from the procedure (they go in through a groin artery and access the coronary arteries from there). I'll see her in two days. Whew.


Katy had her first piano recital and was totally unprepared for the experience. She had been taking piano lessons for all of 8 weeks and had never seen a music recital before. I didn't try to explain it much. She was bored with her piece (Over the Rainbow) by the time of the recital and had stopped practicing it. I didn't nag much because I have more important things to nag about.

On the evening of the recital I insisted that she wear shoes which was perceived as unfair. I had suggested she play through her piece earlier but that was rejected. When when it was her turn, she played the first line or so and then blanked. Even though she was looking at the music, she was very conscious of being in front of an audience and couldn't continue. Her teacher swooped in and joined her on the piano bench and they played the rest together. Katy went back to her seat (a row ahead of us, by herself) and sat stock still until the end of the recital when she came to me and melted down. She was very embarrassed. Several people came over to speak to her and tell her that she'd done just fine and tried to help her feel better. She had a hard time accepting comfort. I tried to get her thinking about the next time and how we could help her be better prepared. Her teacher and I talked to her about the next recital and what she could perform then. I left feeling stymied. Just like with her overreaction to criticism, I felt that I knew exactly the shame she was feeling. And my insight didn't help me to help her.

I looked up music teacher tips for recital preparation. A few days later I talked to Katy about what we'll do differently before the next one. (I think it's good to focus on the next time, getting back on the horse.) I also talked to her about how everyone feels uncomfortable when performing or just before.


Last night it rained buckets and Katy was out running around with her best friend. At one point she asked to borrow my umbrella. They weren't leaving the complex so after exacting a promise that she would bring it back unharmed, I let her take it. When she got back half an hour later I asked for the umbrella and she froze, then her face crumpled and the wails began. She ran out to look for it but couldn't find it. She came back crying and stammering about how she "didn't mean to lose it!" I was annoyed for a bit. After a few minutes I got over that. I told her that as her daddy says, no one was hurt or bleeding, it was just an ugly old umbrella.

I said she was acting like making a mistake made her a bad person. We had talked about the restaurant routine of announcing "I made a mistake!" to cheers. And I said that I remembered feeling like she does but that I had learned better and I wanted to be able to learn from mistakes without feeling like they were the end of the world. And I believe she got it. I said we'd have to figure out how to help her practice making mistakes so she could get really good at it. It felt as though we'd gotten over a hurdle. We'll probably need to go over it many more times but it's a relief to know we could get there.

Katy's friend Maria found the umbrella and brought it back to me shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Between the leaves

Notes from the end of August

New office mgr at work. After a day where we both were seldom off the phone I showed her one of my scratch sheets covered with names and numbers and things to do and said "I finished everything on here! ...I think!" And she said that was amazing and she didn't know how I did it. She said she was struggling even using lined paper and numbering each item. And a quiet bomb of realization went off in my head. I could enter each caller on a different line! And check them off when I'd finished with them! I still admire my scratch sheets for the random doodle paper coverage that I was able to achieve. But I feel so much more organized now that I'm using a lined pad. What a self limitation that was.

English Civil War
A squishy historical era for me. Knew of Cromwell, learned and then forgot and learned again about the king's execution. Hard to frame - much more complicated to try and digest Parliament, the armies and so on rather than one royal symbol. Am reading Lindsey Davis's Rebels & Traitors which I would recommend although it is giving me the best grasp of that time that I've ever had. Davis has written characters who are affected by the events of the time. That does a good job of drawing one into the action. But there is so much to discuss and such a long list of persons and battles and events she covers that it breaks down. Long swathes of perfectly agreeable narrative and then back to one or another set of her characters. "Meanwhile, back on the ranch..." The seams show and sometimes I wish she'd laid aside the characters and just gone hypothetical and tutorial. "This is how people in Oxford during the last part of the seige might have been faring". I'm cruising through the thousand pages so by the end I will feel that it's kept my reading muscles strong. [I finished it. Ludicrous ending tying all the characters' fates together. Still I don't regret reading it.]

Last week a Detroit area blogger wrote how tired she was of the heat. "I am ready to wear something that doesn’t need to be white and absorbent." I can only agree. I put on an acrylic blouse this morning and walked the kids to school. It was grey and in the 70s, more rain is forecast for this afternoon. By the time I got back home I was steamy and realized it just wasn't going to get any better in synthetic fibers. Off it went and I am much happier in cream cotton knit.

Path of blue
It's cooling off here but we're getting rain and muggy before we see cool clear skies. Oh which reminds me, yesterday I saw a reverse contrail, something I'd never seen before. I had to stare at it for a minute or so to be sure what it was, a narrow clear blue path through a thin layer of cloud. Once I found out that it's not "comtrail" it's "contrail", Wikipedia told me many things. The reverse path through the cloud is called a "distrail" (they have a nice photo) and is the effect of hot exhaust consuming the moisture in thin cloud level. The contrail in contrast, is the water vapor laden exhaust condensing at high altitude.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Elements, idyll and correction

This would be a supremely satisfying amalgam of new media and a lifelong favorite. Mmmm.

Boingboing had my number yesterday. In addition to the above, they also featured this very catchy song about, well, being a dickhead hipster doofus. By linking to boingboing I'm sidestepping the appropriate material question. Be advised that if you don't like the word dickhead you don't want to watch a video entitled "Being A Dickhead's Cool".

This evening after potluck I watched the kids playing over by the treehouse as the sun went down. It looked idyllic. Less than fifteen minutes later I was called out to tend to Lexi because she had rolled off the garden cart Katy was trying to give her a ride on. Lexi's outrage and physical discomfort was soothed by bandaids, ice packs and helping me make oatmeal cookies (with choc. chips except for the four for Katy who is our odd chocolate avoider). Katy's upset and moral discomfort (at having done wrong and contributed to her sister's injuries) was red hot and her father's lecture didn't help much. But baths and cookies eventually did their work and everyone got to bed peacefully. Idylls just aren't very long.

Katy reacts to well-grounded complaints about her behavior with outrage or angry/despairing tears. She reacts like I remember reacting. I was used to being the good kid and whenever I transgressed and was called out for it I found it unbearable. I would burst into loud sobs and retreat. So I can empathize but I don't know how to get through to Katy in the heat of the moment. We want to tell her "x is wrong so please remember not to do that again". But all she hears is "you're wrong and bad because you did x". Any suggestions? Now that I've written that out I see I can try to get across that I am addressing the behavior and not her as a person.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Getting back in the saddle without much of a place to go. So I'll give the horse her head and see where we end up. Much water is under the bridge. The academic year is well underway at work and things have calmed down.

The girls like their new classes at the new school. What a relief. Nod and I are poised to ding at the teachers and ask for enrichment activities for our little smarties. Lexi especially needs more math. She did math which mostly consisted of copying numbers out and grouping last year. It was dull and repetitive and there's so much more she can do. Katy is enjoying her piano and violin lessons that she started this summer. She had a recital which was painful in several ways but very educational. She is reading music and playing with both hands on the piano. Her violin noises are rudimentary but I love the concentration on her face when she is finding the notes. Lexi has caught the bug a little and just asked me for a piano lesson. She'll try one next week.

My face is broken out in new and unexpected ways. The acne around the nose and mouth I am used to, but above one eyebrow? Quite different and perplexing. I don't think I'm going to try for medical assistance this time. Menopause can't be that far off, can it? Surely that will be one good thing about it. The PMS that accompanied this latest awful breakout was pretty spectacular too. I am lucky that I didn't get us in a car accident when I u-turned on a two lane highway at rush hour last Friday. Not a good moment. My decision making is back to its usual level now and I haven't risked any lives lately.

Have gotten rid of the lice and the fleas. Hoping that a third insect plague is unnecessary.

The cat is cute. Even when she runs out the door while we cuss at her. A week or so ago she ran out when we were leaving the house so she just had to stay out for a couple hours. She doesn't stray far so I no longer worry about losing her. But when she came back that day she had gotten the worst end of a fight. She still has scabs under one side of her jaw and a little one up by her ear. Nod mentioned that our lovable coward cat Jimbo consistently had wounds on his hindquarters when he'd been in a fight. Zing uses a different technique. But it makes me that much more determined to keep her in as much as we can. It's a cat rich environment outside our door.

 Zits are bad, bugs are appalling, cats are cute. I'm done for now.