Friday, October 22, 2010

Dragon Gobbling

Dragon moon
Last night the full moon was hidden behind the clouds when I went out to take some library books back. I kept glancing up to see if it would emerge but I could only see the glow. We are supposed to get rain today and last night was a bit warm and the air felt gentle. No wind on the ground but clouds were slowly moving eastward. When I drove home the moon came out. Now there were breaks in the clouds. They were thinner lacier strips. Watching the bright white disc among the swirls I kept thinking of Chinese dragons playing with their giant pearl. In Chinese folklore dragons are associated with water: rain, rivers, oceans. (The wiki article mentions a Nike ad which showed LeBron James 'slaying a dragon' which was banned in China. Interesting culture clash. No St. George for them.)

I called Nod out to watch the sky with me. I told him that I felt like walking and looking at the sky all night, and singing and crying. It wasn't in the cards. We chatted and I soaked up the moonlight for a while longer. I feel like I'm thrilling to everything, I'm ready to take off emotionally. Then I set aside my wanderlust and went in and made lunches and was fairly responsible. I realized that I don't know many songs with moon related lyrics. I'll have to remedy that.

While driving to work this morning I sang along with the Fleet Foxes. At the crest of a hill, I saw a flock of black birds flying toward me, passing above the gold leafed trees, against the pink clouds. My heart rose and tears started to come to my eyes. I blinked them back and avoided the pedestrian and went on. I am on the brink, receiving everything with my psychic ears spread like fans. (It would be interesting dancing with fans sticking out from my head. The air resistance would be new and different.) It makes me wonder what my hormone levels are. And how I could get them to be here again.

I remember feeling like this in my teens out in our yard in White Rock, NM. I think it was late summer, the winds were blowing and my white cat was excited too, frisking about. I felt like we could almost mount up into the sky. My hair was blown about and the cat and I were running here and there. It felt like the energy of the earth was moving through me.

I'm reading lots of books at once and trying to watch movies. I miss TV too. I have a great lust to consume entertainment right now. First book is about the Pueblo Revolt, the uprising of farming Indians who lived in settlements called Pueblos (by the Spaniards and now everyone else) in and around present day New Mexico. In 1680, after more than a hundred years of Spanish occupation several of the Pueblos attacked in unison. The Spanish were taken completely by surprise and driven out for twelve years until the reconquest. Right now the author is describing a religious shift towards kachina (or katsina) ceremonies that happened at about the time of the revolt. (Katsinas are intercessors between the people and the gods. There are many and they bring different gifts and stories.) The author is describing petroglyph images from that time that may depict katsina figures. I hadn't heard anything that specific about the images before so I am soaking it in.

I've started Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's taking me a while to get going on this one. I loved the Yiddish Policemen's Union so I'm hoping I'll cleave to K&C as well.

I have a stack of mystery novels that may turn out to be disposable. The one I've started with is South Beach Shakedown by Bruns. I had to abandon a cosy (Green Grow the Victims, by Dams) that was set in turn of the century Indiana among Swedish and Irish immigrants. It played too fast and loose with the autonomy and authority of a respectable immigrant female. Disbelief could no longer be suspended.

[Edited to add: South Beach Shakedown was stinky. Not recommended. Fantasy rock n roll writer narrator and his ditsy ex who resolutely ignored large blatant clues for 3/4 of the time. And no humor. Onward.] 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dial it down

I was delighted to be told I was completely wrong about my toothache. Last week I leapt self pityingly to conclusions as the ache got worse and worse. On Friday morning I was told that the ache was due to the temporary crown being too high. Even though I didn't have pain when I bit down, just later up in my jaw. The technician spent a long time grinding the crown down. And it worked: I didn't have any pain over the weekend. Even better, no root canal or anything like that is in my future. They had to take impressions of all my teeth on Friday because my bite is so wack. I have a very open bite in the front (this means that if I take a bite of a sub sandwich straight on, my front teeth don't meet and I drag a bunch of stuff out of the sandwich rather than bite through it). I can compensate because my side teeth meet, so I just bite with the corner of my mouth and all's well. Apparently my back teeth also come together in a weird way.

So glad to be thoroughly wrong about the cause of the ache. What a relief to have that fixed.

On Schmutzie's blog:  "Mid-life crises should be sexier events. ...  We should glow like we're giving birth to giant, self-aware manifestations of our true selves. I should have lustrous hair and the chub of fruition." Damn right. Where's my glow?!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The -kin diminutive
Last night en famille we were talking about words and I mentioned that -kin indicated a dimunitive. Nod was surprised to hear it. I was convinced of it but could not come up with good examples. (I was sure 'pumpkin' was not an example of this usage. Squashes do not remind me of little pumps.) But think of nursery rhyme language: thumbkin, your little thumb. I joked with the girls that I could call them Katykin and Lexikin. "Because we're tiny!" shouted Katy. I shouted back, "I didn't mean to make you tiny!" They really are the petite kiddos but full of energy, resilience and smarts. Katy is at least showing some growth since last fall. She's still wearing some of her 6x pants but I am glad to see that they are highwaters on her now. Size 7 fits best for most pants. She turns nine next month.

But back to wordynerdiness. The OED entry taught me this morning that adding -kin was popular to create a diminutive nickname especially for men's names around 1200 to 1400. It also explains the origin of the nickname "Jack" for the given name John. (Jan-kin is nickname that evolved toward Jack.) Oh and it explains another old weird English name to me as well: Dickon, which must be Dick-kin, and stow those wang jokes. The OED tells us that there are other words from the Dutch or of "obscure origin" for which the 'kin does not indicate a diminutive: bodkin, firkin, merkin (hee), jerkin, bumpkin, etc. Pumpkin turns out to be an easier-to-say-for-English-speakers variant on a French name for a large squash: pompion.

Yogurt zealot
After trying to treat my skin with topical yogurt I have decided that it's not a cure all. It did calm down my irritated skin with one application. And I will keep it in mind for that sort of use. But daily application didn't seem to improve anything. So I do *not* have to don a homespun robe and travel the land teaching all and sundry about the healing powers of yogurt. That's good, I really wasn't looking forward to doing it. In conclusion, here's a short short story by John Scalzi about yogurt taking over the Earth.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


In honor of the season of the year where we notice plants dying back and the chill in the air and contemplate our mortality, here's an article on doctors learning to recommend hospice care to patients. Whee! Well, I'm sorry it's not whee! but at least it is by Atul Gawande who writes like butter. He's touchingly honest about how awkward and painful this kind of communication with patients feels to him. He reports his off-putting attempt and then gets a hospice person to tell him better phrasing for these questions. The one that sticks with me is: "If time becomes short, what is most important to you?" Which is something we should be asking ourselves periodically anyway.

As for my own mortality, I have my teeth to remind me. After last week's root canal, I've been getting a toothache from time to time. The nurse told me that there should be no pain. Regular pain meds get rid of it but it keeps coming back. I suspect that things will unroll just like after the last root canal I had five years ago. There is bacteria in the root where there shouldn't be any and I will have to have the endodontist ream it out. I am not kicking up my heels at this prospect. Will see dentist tomorrow for crown fitting so will ask then.

It's been cooler (60s) and it rained Monday. Women on campus are wearing their new fall boots. In related news, I have come up with a new band name I like: Dumb Buckles.

Shauna, the Gluten-Free Girl, and her husband Danny are hosting a picnic at Dolores Park on Sunday, October 17. Here's her entry on their recent NYC picnic. "If you are anywhere near San Francisco this weekend, we are having another picnic on Sunday at noon. In Dolores Park. Bring some gluten-free food to share... We are asking everyone to show up with the words YES or IMAGINE on them somewhere." Could be fun! I'd bring ginger slaw if I was going. Hm, the forecast high for Sunday is only 57. Well, Dolores Pk is protected. And maybe it'll be a little warmer than that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


After a month of looking for it, I saw the first tree changing color on our street last week. I squealed and pointed it out for the children. This early maple is already spilling pink leaves on the sidewalk for us to crunch through.

The road refinishing on our street is finally done and it's time to get a celebratory car wash. Getting a little hard to see through the streaky dust on my windows. I am not about to wish for rain. This dry air is so delightful.

I read The Wolves of Wilhoughby Chase by Joan Aiken to my kids and they loved it as much as I hoped they would. Katy told me it was too exciting for bedtime reading. (And though I couldn't argue with that, I was sorry for the delay as I could hardly wait to get to the ending.) We got through it last weekend and now I know where my phantom egg eating orphan comes from. When I was starting to read Jane Eyre last Feb. I wasn't sure I wanted to read about her terrible time as a foster child and at the abusive school. I was sure I remembered an episode where a half starved student eats a raw egg from the henhouse to keep going. Then when I got through reading Jane I was puzzled because there wasn't any egg incident to be found. But it is Bonnie in WoWC who eats raw eggs, not Jane! Anyway, WoWC is good melodrama, everything is over the top and the descriptions are very sensual. At one point the girls have escaped from the orphanage/workhouse with the help of their friend the goose herder. Sylvia is tucked into a donkey-drawn wagon, under down filled quilts and then the live sleepy geese are settled around her. It sounds deliciously cosy and safe especially in contrast with the cold and deprivations they've been through. I wondered if it would all be too much for Lexi but she was interested in the story and just wanted reassurance from time to time that there would be a happy ending. There is and it's a good one.

Dull at work right now. I described the beginning of fall semester as a tidal wave. I think I'm sitting on a sand bar now, at calm low tide. But if I was really on a sand bar I could dig for shells or at least feel the sand between my toes.

Halloween costumes are in the works. I lobbied for Totoro over vampire for Katy. I decided I could live with her being a vamp if she insisted, but she didn't. Now how can we get a tiny red umbrella for her to hold? Lexi has known since August that she would be the Lollipop Princess from Candyland. I'm sewing a skirt that we'll put over a dress she already has and cover with paper lollipops. The crown will be the next piece.