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4 kittens

Languishing for 40 years.

Posted on 2017.03.26 at 23:54
I didn't get accepted into Gerrymander Math Camp. I'm feeling kind of sad. I really wanted to do attend. The reason that I didn't get in is that my CV is pretty shitty, and there were many applicants more qualified than I am. Isn't that tragic?



(Octopus Topiary)

In fact, there were 1200 applicants. I don't know how many spots there were - maybe 50? maybe 80?  - but probably I missed the cut-off by several hundred applicants.



(Lazing kangaroos)

I feel very qualified. I feel like I'd do a very good job. But I really don't deserve it.  I made big life choices and now I have a shitty CV and now I have consequences. Now I have sad feelings.



(do you know why flamingos stand on one leg?)

I still stand by my life choices - I like teaching, I was very isolated in graduate school and never figured out how to be not-isolated, and so I didn't like research, and I am not very ambitious and also wanted to have a big family with Jammies.



(if they lifted it up, they'd fall down.)

I like having a big family and I like being not very ambitious. Sometimes the consequence of that is that you really want to attend Gerrymander Math Camp, but they want someone who is more generally ambitious and not just one-time ambitious about this isolated thing.



(Flying foxes)

Ugh, they'll be sorry when they see how reasonable I am.

.....

When we were in Florida - off having a shitty CV on vacation - we went to Busch Gardens. I toyed with the idea of Disney World, but the crowds, the expense, the woe. Busch Gardens was perfect for us. There were no crowds or lines.

All the kids were pleasantly adventurous about going on rides. Jammies took the big kids on one of those straight-up-and-plummet rides, albeit a tame version:



The woman at the entrance turnstile did not check Ace's height.  So she rode.




I love this photo so much. Courtesy of my mom, who also snagged this photo:



I'm pretty sure I'm mugging for Rascal.

We rode the log flume, and the guy asked if we wanted to just stay in our seats and ride it a second time. There were plenty animals and elaborate climbing structures, and enough kid rides to fill a day.

.....

Hawaii dislikes onions, both real and imaginary. I finally challenged her to a taste test. I am to cook two identical dinners, differing only on the presence of onions. She will taste three pairs of spoonfuls and each time identify which has the onions. If she can go 3 and 0, I won't feed her onions any more.

Obviously I can tilt the scales in my favor - use barely any onion, chop it super finely, etc - so I have to decide what is fair. For example, Hawaii's gripe seems to be with the physical flakes of onion. So should I:
1. Cook the onion-free dinner with large chunks of onions which I remove by hand later, so that the flavor is identical and they only differ on the presence of actual onions?
2. Or am I testing her on whether she can detect how onions affect the flavor of the dish, without being distracted by the onion-objects, in which case I should cook one dish with large chunks of onion, which I then remove, and cook the other without any onion whatsoever?
3. Or am I testing her on which dinner she thinks actually tastes better, in which case they should clearly differ, and I'm betting that she prefers the onion version?

I'll probably consult her on these variations.

......

I switched out winter clothes for summer clothes this weekend. All our clothes are either stored in big tubs in the attic, or on loan to another family that we swap back and forth with. I took five tubs down from the attic to stock the closets, and then to re-fill with clothes that will be saved for future use.

About halfway through the fourth tub, I pulled out...





...green blankey. Oh excuse me, are you not rapt with this story? Because I shrieked and clutched it and nearly cried. This is Ace's missing baby-swaddle-turned-blankey. We noticed it was missing in January, and I've been feeling rather sick about it. Apparently I just packed it up last November. Two corners were still tied in a knot, from Ace wearing it as a cape.

I feel whole and complete again.

.......

"The ants are so cute!" says Rascal.




Were they cute? You decide:



......

Hawaii and Pokey made a museum for us.

How do you know if the museum is even open?



Oh, well, sure.

I really wish I'd taken a panorama of the entire museum, instead of just the exhibits. Oh well.

First up are Hawaii's exhibits:



What am I looking at?



(G) "is for... the Great Green sculpture."

Should we touch?



Next exhibit! Also by Hawaii:



The three signs, from left to right:
1. By: Hawaii
2. Don't touch!
3. The wall of stuffies.

Excellent survey of a typical American youth stuffed animal posessions.

Next we turn to the Pokey wing:



Still don't touch! The placard reads "Pirate Ship Wreck! (2009)".  The blue is the waves of the ocean, wrecking the boat. The boat looks a little like hot dogs, but it is not.

The last exhibit! and also by Pokey:



A rocks exhibit! (Don't touch.) May we take a closer look?



Clockwise, from upper left: Clear Crystal, Snow Rock, Normal Crystal, Fire Rock, and Ice Crystal.



We begin again with the Normal Crystal, but then visit the Polished Rock, Easter Egg (fake), Painted Rock, Fossilized Wood, Blood Stars, and again with the fire rock.

I like that the only fake one is the Easter Egg (fake). That's not an actual, scientific Easter Egg. It's a replica.

I like the whole thing enormously, obviously.

......

A painting my mom did, back in the early 70s:




That is my eldest brother pushing the cart. It's part of a children's book where each cat speaks a different language from around the world, and they have to learn how to play together. No publisher fell in love with the book, and so it has languished for 40+ years.

Jammies, looking a bit like my brother in the painting:



Also having languished for about 40 years.

4 kittens

Goober Sliders

Posted on 2017.03.19 at 23:08
I'm tired. It certainly works better when I have a rough draft developing over the whole weekend, instead of saving the whole thing for Sunday night. But here we are.



Maybe 5% of the houses in my parents' neighborhood have flat roofs. These are the flat roofed, hidden houses of central Gainesville.  I'm very fond of this style.



Two stories, flat-roofed.

I love seeing my parents. I love visiting them. I don't love having the kids at my parents' house for a week. It really drives home how boring my childhood was - how many endless days there were. No kids in the neighborhood, just an expectation that I should entertain myself. Long hours stretching out. Waiting, killing time, until dinner. (I read a lot of books, but didn't we all. I was bored a lot.)

Pokey and I went shark tooth hunting with my dad. Here was my haul:



Not bad for an old lady. That big one is a Hemipristis tooth. It's about the size of a quarter.



....

I showed my mom my tattoo plans. At first she did not like any of them, but couldn't articulate what she didn't like. We tried lots of combinations.

I used to read a lot of Archie comic books. In one completely unremarkable episode, Archie is discovered by a talent agent who wants to turn Archie into the next pop sensation. "Whatsya name, kid?" asks the agent.
"Archie Andrews," says Archie.
"That's terrible!" exclaims the agent. "We have to find a better name for you!" The agent and his cronies start riffing on Archie's name - Archie the Amazing? Astounding Andrews? etc.
Finally the agent shouts, "I've got it!" - and everyone snaps to attention - "We'll call him...Archie Andrews!"  Archie shrugs and goes with it, and the episode continuies on.

Somehow that dumb scene became a giant metaphor for life that I see all over the place.  At the very least, that was my mom with the tattoo plans. After trying out a half dozen combinations, she suggested the original combination and I agreed that it just might work.

(There is a bit of photo-shopping to do, but I think it is feasible. The first appointment is June 2nd.)

.

(It looks like this roof isn't flat, but you're actually seeing a partial half-story in the back of the house. This roof is F-L-A-T.)

It is possible that Pokey and Hawaii do not fight quite as much as they did one year ago. They still fight a lot.

Last year:
1. We did not take Pokey to the ballet dress rehearsal, solely in order to separate him and Hawaii. I wanted to take him to see Carmina Burana, but it was more important to just get those two apart from each other. This year, my mom was photographing dress rehearsal of another ballet. It was no big deal to take all three big kids to the dress rehearsal of the ballet Firebird. We never thought to leave Pokey at home.

2. On the drive home last year, we got so mad at Pokey and Hawaii that we separated them in the car, for the last day.  We  switched Ace to the third row. This year we got angry, but we never got quite that angry.

Another possible explanation is that Jammies and I are becoming deadened to the interminable fighting.



(This is one of my favorites.)

We saw a birthday party where everyone had matching Batman shirts. Ace said that she'd like everyone to wear costumes to her birthday party.
"What shall we wear?" I asked her, "What kind of costumes?"
"I'll wear my ballet outfit," she said, "and Pokey and Hawaii will wear their dance recital costumes."
"What about me and Daddy and Rascal?" I asked.
"You guys don't have dance recital costumes. You'll have to wear some kind of suit."
I pictured us wearing business suits.
Ace continued: "Like the Firebird."



The Firebird had a couple red feathers here and there in his costume, in addition. This is going to be the best birthday party.



(I see you hiding in there. With your flat roof.)

Pokey tagged along to a salvage yard style junk store. He came to a wall of old trophies and could not believe it. "WHO WOULD GIVE AWAY A TROPHY?!" he kept exclaiming. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME."



Pokey clasped his hands to his headm and could not get over his shock.

Also Pokey made up this joke:
Q: How do you cock a soda gun?
A: You drop it on the floor!!!

(Because sodas are carbonated, so it will get shaken and explode, see? No?)



On the drive home, we stopped at the secret relative's house again, in Mobile, Alabama. (Mobile is a funny place to read signs as you drive through, now that "mobile" has become such a common e-word. Mobile Dentistry? Oh, Mobile Dentristry. Right.)

(The very abbreviated version: my grandfather - who died in 1981 - told my grandmother and his kids that he was a rural hick who was estranged from his antisemitic family. That he wanted to protect us from their antisemitism. In 2014 we discovered that he was a New York Jewish kid, not a rural goy, and was not estranged from his family whatsoever. He'd made secret trips to visit them from 1940 until his death, a few times each year.)

My grandfather had one sister, Rose, who had one son. The son is about 70 years old, and lives with his wife in Mobile, Alabama.  So when we drive home from Florida, we stop and visit with Elliot and Rachel. This is our third visit. They're super nice and warm and welcoming.



(This is NOT a flat roof, but I like the tri-color paint choice.)

This time, Rachel and I got to talking. Her perspective, as an outsider, was that my grandfather was kind of a jerk. Rose had to do quite a lot of work to take care of her parents as they aged, and she could have really used my grandfather's help. But instead my grandfather showed up a few times a year, got doted on and fawned over like the prodigal son, and left Rose holding the bag entirely on the eldercare.

My grandfather's parents, Rose, Elliot and Rachel were all given the impression that they were too shameful to be shared with his nuclear family. They knew about us, they saw photos, but they were not told any identifying information, like my mother's married last name, for example.  For some reason he had to protect us from them.

Rachel feels that my grandfather abdicated his responsibility towards his parents, dumping all the work on Rose, in order to keep his new, shiny family from meeting his shameful, Jewish family.  There's probably some truth to this.



(This is my favorite house, on my favorite street. Under the walkway on the right, a ravine drops down.)

On our side, we had no idea that they existed. We were the favored side, but we didn't know.  We put my grandfather on a pedestal. I think he loved being on this pedestal of being wise and gentle. The wisest, the gentlest. Maybe, maybe not.

We think that he changed his identity to drop the Jewishness, then met my grandmother under false pretenses (during his first marriage, to boot) and got caught up in the lie. That he trapped himself in the lie and never had the courage to come clean. That it didn't have anything to do with finding his parents and sister shameful. But who knows.



Rascal got a bag of cheese puffs. Each time he pulled one out, he exclaimed, "A RAINBOW!" Every one. Then he sang, "Rainbow, go away. Come again another day." He's very cute.

We ate a lot of Goober sandwiches. To use up some hamburger buns, I made Jammies some Goober Sliders. It's a funny phrase to me: Goober Sliders indeed.



Ace, getting an Elsa-from-Frozen bandaid: "Please make me happy, band-aid! Please make me happy!"
I looked at her with raised eyebrows.
She said sheepishly, "I mean, please make me healthy, band-aid!"

Ace, making some questionable feng-shui choices with my old dollhouse:




Beds across doorways? Impractical.

New art in my parents' house:



I kind of admire it.  It's both abstract and straightforward: flying hairy penises.

When I was growing up, school let out early on Wednesdays. "Short Wednesdays", they were appropriately called.



I guess they are still a thing, at least at the elementary school level. As an adult, short Wednesdays seems mind-bogglingly dumb. In middle school, we went to all seven classes, but they only met for 20 minutes each, on Wednesdays. I think the justification was to save money?

Any more flat roofs, Heebie?



This one.

We also took the kids to Busch Gardens, down in Tampa. I'm awaiting a couple photos from my mom, though, before recounting it.  We had a good time.



This is not a true flat roof, but I admired the general griminess of the roof, which is at least partially flat. There is a full-blown mossy cover to this house.




Not a flat-roofed house, but I'm always game for consecutive arches. I know that consecutive arches are called an arcade, but without context that sounds too much like a room of video games.

4 kittens

Gruesomely platonic

Posted on 2017.03.12 at 23:02
I was not particularly looking forward to spring break. School is tiring, driving to Florida seemed like work.

We packed on Friday night. We left on Saturday morning. Like last year, we crawled through Louisiana.

For a moment they stopped fighting:





I should really make an animated gif of those doofuses.

It took us 8 hours to cross Louisiana, which should only take five hours.  I guess Spring Break traffic plus rain?

We Atchafalaya-Bridged ourselves:



Louisiana always seems to have more hard liquor available than the average state:



I didn't frame that photo properly - you need the context that the liquor is next to the cash register. And on the other, the ice-trough of beer. All states have the open ice-trough of beer, but I can't recall seeing bottled mixed drinks in there too, except in Louisiana.

Oh Louisiana, don't make a spectacle of yourself:



Oh come on now. Eventually we exited Louisiana and crossed the dinky states and made it to Florida.

Like last year, we got to my parents' house at 3 am, Texas time.  Like last year, we got hit with Daylight Savings Time and the time change, so it was actually 5 am on Sunday when we arrived.



Lantana sprig in a tiny vase, a collaboration by Hawaii and Dama Tollie. The vase looks like a lightbulb to me.

Basically the whole thing still feels like work. I think I need a good night's sleep. I like being here with my parents, though.

.....

Apparently my Aunt M has taken to telling the following story: when Hawaii and I were in Wisconsin, Hawaii played a lot with baby S, who was about eighteen months old. Aunt M asked her, "Is baby S like Rascal?" and Hawaii replied seriously, "No, Rascal is a lot more violent."

It's true though: he's a loud, aggressive two year old. He just loves tackling people and pulling them over and hitting a lot. There's a lot of joy to his violence.

....

Finally, this. My mom's long-lost bridesmaid realized that my parents got married fifty years ago. To celebrate, she tracked down my uncle, and sent him this letter. In other words, my mother wrote this letter to her friend in 1966:




Dear Sue,

It is so good to be back at school. In one sense I don't really feel like a senior, since this is only my second year at Stanford. But on the other hand, the Freshmen I meet seem all very fresh, and I have a decided feeling of standing on a pinnacle and serenely regarding the plebians who swarm over the campus for the first time.

I arrived at Stanford a few days before classes started. Ken met me at the airport. Oh was it good to see him. I was quite sick the week before, so we were gruesomely platonic, but even so, wheeeee! In the short interlude before classes started, we went exploring. San Francisco and the northern coast were our agenda.

When I was little, I can remember asking my mother about marriage. She told me that when you find a man whom you enjoy doing things with more than doing them with a "friend" or by yourself, when every time you see him it's harder to say goodbye, and when you can look at him and see him as the father of your children, then you've found the right man.

Ken asked me to marry him on Sunday night. I was so scared and excited when I said yes. I'm so much in love wih him, I can't believe it! We celebrated by buying the most beautiful bottle of sparkling burgundy in the world (it's now on my book shelf, filled with flowers), and drove high in the hills in back of Stanford. At first, as we climbed, we could see the delicate glimmer of the lights from San Francisco. Later, the view was hidden by an enveloping cloud of heavy mist, and there was just Ken and me in a red Volkswagon.

Hey birds! Beward of flying objects. I've gone into orbit!

It is unreal. Every so often I become overwhelmed: the life cycle of birth, marriage, and death is awesome. What kind of wife will I be? Will I be able to be the best person possible for Ken? What IS a parent? But, most of the time I am just too elated to really concentrate on anything but Ken-clouds. Happiness is having Ken for ever and ever! WHEEEEEEEE!

Sue, do you remember that it was because of you that I went to the medical exchange this time last year? Sigh. Now you can point to the event that will make your name hallowed in my heaven! No date is set yet, but I'll let you know. WHEEEEEE!

Much love,
Tollie



And here they are, fifty years later. I am happy to report that they have been continuously devoted to each other. My mom is effusive in her devotion.

The part of the letter that rings strangest to me is hearing my mom exclaim over her own happiness. She is much more comfortable being happy for other people - as in, when she justifies feeling happy, it's usually framed as a credit to someone else in some way. Even though this involves my dad, she's really owning her happiness here. It's got me all weepy.

It occurs to me that I am not all that effusive about Jammies here. It somehow seems like bad manners or in poor taste, like I'm dangling my riches in front of others, if I were to ramble on about how lucky am I. The truth is that Jammies is amazing and being married to him never feels like work. Have kids seems like work. But not the marriage.

Jammies: his is the mind that I always want to get to know better. His is the opinion that I want to know most on a subject. Jammies' perspective on everything is the perspective I want to find out, in order to feel like my understanding on the topic is whole and complete. Like dumb shit: everyone and their brother posted the BBC video of the toddler and baby crashing the BBC interview of the Korean analyst. It was discussed everywhere. But I still want to discuss it with Jammies before I'm done with it, and we need to crack up over the merry elbow-throwing way the toddler strides into the room, together.

It's not that we always agree. It's just that his worldview plus mine adds up to a whole.

(Although seriously: Jammies' judgment is the soundest on the planet. You should trust him if he weighs in on a topic.)(Also I'm too much of a prude to lick my chops and waggle my eyebrows licentiously, publicly, on the topic of Jammies, so you will just have to infer that I have absolutely no complaints on salacious matters.)

4 kittens

Make a Prediction - That's Your Hypothesis.

Posted on 2017.03.05 at 21:36
Pokey currently is the earliest riser. He usually wakes up by 5:30 am and crawls in bed with us. Ace is still the night owl - we hear her singing songs and talking to herself until 9 or 10 pm. Sometimes she tries on all her dresses and we find them in a big pile in the morning. Sometimes she takes out all the stuffed animals.

......

My week was dominated by preparing for our annual high school B/ulldog C/alculus S/howdown, which was yesterday. "That sounds both terrible and awesome," said my friend last night, which is accurate.

This was my favorite year ever. In fact, I didn't even loathe it. It was thoroughly not terrible. Here are the major differences:
1. I'm only teaching three courses right now. I got a course release for teaching an overload last semester. Usually they just pay you an extra couple hundred bucks for the extra credits you've taught, but this is much better. It's amazing. So I had time to properly prepare without becoming overwhelmed.

2. Our new administrative assistant. I love her. She kept track of all the details and generally made me feel like someone was double-checking my work. She'd say things like, "I looked up the invoice for the catering last year, in case you wanted to know what you ordered and which budget it came out of" and "I think this summer, I'll make a three ring binder with a detailed step-by-step plan of every thing we did, when we did it, and what forms or extras we needed."

In contrast, my strategy for the past seven years has always been to have ten partially overlapping lists, scattered in different locations, each which are only partially up-to-date, and then to rederive the whole thing from scratch each year from these notes. Her methods are superior.

3. Our undergrads this year were very competent. Some years they are, some years they aren't.

It poured during the scavenger hunt. We gave the high school students plastic grocery bags to protect their calculators from the rain, and told them that we'd bring them in if there was lightning. Their maps fell apart. All part of the fun.



The podium had this kitschy 50s logo on it. I am the emcee of the event.

Afterwards, when I went to drive home, my foot cramped up severely. I think it was from standing in one spot, in converse sneakers, on carpeted cement, for five hours.  Standing still is weird and awful, and not something I ever do for hours on end. That night my legs were extra twitchy.

I let Pokey take some photos:










I let Hawaii take some photos:









Sort of a slow week. Jammies is out sick today. Or in sick.

I've been compulsively singing The Scientific Method chant from Ready Jet Go this past week:
  One: ask a question, based on observations!
  Two: make a prediction - that's your hypothesis!
  Three: Experiment and gather information!
  Four: Draw conclusions - what did you discover?
  Five: Share your findings! Get the word to others!


I've sang it enough that if I chant "One!" at the right pace, Pokey rolls his eyes. I think it's funny to invoke it when they're squabbling or being darling pains in the ass and moving at the speed of mud. Oh, is there a problem? I know how to solve it, in chant-song!

(I just looked up the actual lyrics, and there's a lot more going on than I remembered:

One - ask a question, based on observations!
Observe! Ask! Look around! Accept no imitations!

Two - make a prediction, an idea you can test!
That's your hypothesis, it's a kind of careful guess.

Three - experiment! Never let it rest!
See if your hypothesis can pass the test!

Four - observe what happens, and gather information.
Look for any data that could give an explanation.
Accurately measure with the tools you have around.
Get a pencil! Make a list! Don't forget to write it down!

Five - draw conclusions about the things you saw.
See if a solution makes you say a-ha!

Six - you got results! What did you discover?
Share your findings, and get the word to others!


That's much too long and boring and rhymey. I like my clunky version. It's snappy.)

........

Spring Break is next week. I was shocked to realize this. Good thing we our Spring Break vacation is an science, complete with spreadsheets for packing lists and preferable rest stops with parks - Lake Charles, I'm looking at you - and recently discovered relatives to house us along the way.

4 kittens

Takes Head and Goes Home.

Posted on 2017.02.26 at 22:12
Hawaii's unfinished story:



Off to a good start!  Hawaii wrote this over winter break.



Once upon a time, there were two happy reindeer. And every year, they would help Santa fly the sleigh around the world, and deliver all the presents to the good girls and boys. One was a girl, her name was Riley. There was also a boy, his name was Ken. They were a happy couple.




One day, Riley found out that she wa pregnant. A couple weeks later, the baby was born. They named her Ella. Ella grew very fast. Finally the time came for Ella to fly.  And man, she was good at it!



One night on Christmas Eve, Santa was delivering gifts. Ella was leading all the other reindeer. And then suddenly, when Ella was sticking out her tongue to catch the wind, she felt something cold. It was a snowflake and [they] had just entered a blizzard!



Snowflakes flew towards them in every direction! The sleigh crashed. All the reindeer went in different directions. But Ella, the first one to split up, got stuck in a tree. When she finally got unstuck, she saw that part of her antler had broken off.



The next morning when Ella was walking down the street, she smelt something yummy. It was coming from a grocery store. When she got inside, she followed the smell all the way to the vegetable aisle. She followed it to the carrots. Then she started eating.

IT'S OVER!  I've been after Hawaii not to leave this story unfinished, but I think I lost. I can't imagine her picking it up after two months.

Pokey's unfinished story:



The Magic Treehouse. A touch derivative, but it's his first book. Don't judge.



Jack and Annie were in their treehouse and they were looking in a book, and it was The Cat in the Hat Book, and they went into the book. It was funny there. They saw Cat in the Hat. He showed them the way and around the silly town. It was fun there, and then there was a loud BAM. There was a ship in the ocean. The ship was going to destroy the town!



The ship was going to win. It got its guns out and started shooting at the town. Everybody ran away. After they ran away, they got their guns out. A big war, it took 20 years until the war ended. When the war ended, there was a lot of damage. They had to do a lot of fixing up.

IT'S OVER!

Just to be super explicit, there is a children's book series called The Magic Treehouse, in which the main characters, Jack and Annie, jump into books. But the rest of the details are Pokey's own.

Ace's properly finished story:



Ace.



He finds a head.



Takes head and goes home.



He goes to bed.



IT'S OVER!

Rascal did not write a book, but this photo still makes me laugh:



Rascal has learned how to climb out of his crib. We could still contain him - the crib pushes under Hawaii's upper bunk, like a drawer - but that seems cruel. So we're taking it as a milestone.

Oddball assorted moments:



It's still my favorite thing: dark cloudy skies in the east, sunny to the west, lighting everything up like it is glowing.

There's even a worlds-within-worlds thing going on in the lower left corner:



It's eighteen-wheelers all the way down.

On a different thing I love:



God-fucking-damnit, I love my kids' principal's dedication to being technologically moronic.

Here's how it goes:
1. Parents get a text message from the automated system.
2. Text message contains a link to a website.
3. At the link, there is a photograph - like the one above - of the principal's computer screen.

That is how he forwards out emails to us all.  So you'll get a link in an email that you can't click on, because it's a photograph of a link, that he sent through a text message link system. The layers are amazing.

This particular photograph is probably the best-worst one I've ever seen, even without an unclickable link.  Bless him, and I don't know who Bianca is.




Remember how upset you were not to know the 5th Commitment to Commitments? I've got your back:
5. I commit to Gratitude which Reinforces Humility: What I appreciate, appreciates. We rise when we rest on the foundation of Humility.

Don't overthink it, lest ye descend into word mush.





A goofy selfie.  A goofie.




Mirages in the corners of institutional sinks. You see that too, right?


Today I took Hawaii to HEB with me.

I gave her her own shopping list. She had her own basket. She had to come find me whenever her basket got too heavy, and I'd verify that she got the right items.

Do I need to state how much she loved this? How she puffed up and carried herself like a tiny, important adult, just out doing some grocery shopping in preparation for a busy week?

Here is the secret for Hawaii: whenever she is becoming unpleasant, she needs to be given more responsibility. If she could actually get hired as a BusinessLady, with a rolodex and briefcase, she'd be the most agreeable kid on the planet. Grocery shopping was kind of a dream.

Since January, Hawaii has officially become a reader. She's devouring the Magic Treehouse Series (c/f Pokey's book above) and now disappears to read, for fun. I'm so glad.



Basking in the soft, warming, glow of the iPad.

These fuckers:



The past six weeks have been a plague of Asian Beetles, aka They're Not Orange Ladybugs. They were cute, and then they were overwhelming, and now they are dead, everywhere. This is in a classroom that I teach in.

Pokey announced that he had created a recipe:



Chopped lettuce
Rice, 1 cup
Two Tbl of chopped pepper
9 pieces of apple
Mushed Radish

We tasked Mimi with making the recipe with him. They made two versions - with and without the rice - and he decided he liked the texture better without rice.

Also I adore Pokey spelling "of" as "uv" because it reminds me of integration by parts.

And this:



Also by Pokey. That red monster in the corner is something else.



Ace was singing her ABCs yesterday, and she wrapped it up like so:
"...TUV, W, X, P & Z."  It rolled off so naturally. So great.

Each kid has two swaddles from when they were a newborn. Hawaii's are black and gray. Pokey's are pine green and blue. Ace's are turquoise and lime green. Rascal's are mustard yellow and brown. It mostly depends on what was in stock at JoAnn's that season.

Ace's lime green blanket has been missing since January. We've never lost a blanket before. It's bothering me a lot, although Ace hasn't really noticed yet.

I've been having wonderful conversations with the big kids, such as:

1. Suppose it is Opposite Day. (This was not hypothetical. We spent a good twenty minutes uttering opposites.) Can you ever truthfully utter the phrase, "Today is Opposite Day"?

2. Which letters match themselves in the mirror? What if you change the location of the mirror - hold it below the letter, say? What's going on with letters like N, and Z, and S? They seem to have symmetry, but how do you get them to line up with themselves?

3. I taught them Pig Latin. It's definitely a challenge, especially for Pokey.

4. We've started reading the second Harry Potter book. Goddamn it's fun to read these with them.

While I'm bragging on them, let me record two nice moments from Teacher-Parent conferences this past week:
Hawaii's teacher mistakenly knighted her twice in one year. Ms. D told me that it had been a mistake - no kid is supposed to get doubly knighted - but said, "When I heard tolerance, I just thought Hawaii! She is always willing to work with anyone in the class, whether she likes them or not."

Pokey's teacher said, "Pokey always goes the extra mile on an assignment. Most kids will just write a single sentence, and he'll write a paragraph." She told a story where an aide corrected Pokey and said, "Pokey! Remember, a sentence has to make sense!" and Pokey said, indignantly, "This does make sense! It's a conversation!" and once the aide was clear on the implied grammar, everyone agreed that it did indeed make sense.

Those are gendered complimentary stories - look how nurturing Hawaii is, look how creative Pokey is! Their school is a pretty gendered place. All you can do is discuss with them as you go. So we do.

4 kittens

Longstanding Lack of Ambition

Posted on 2017.02.19 at 21:39
Jammies wants to sign the big kids up for soccer camp. I think it's fine, but I also remember hating soccer camp, so I have that in the back of my mind.

It's funny - I loved sports, I love xfit currently. But I'm a pretty shitty athlete. I'm the slowest, the weakest, and so on. Sports camps were relentless in reminding me that I was the slowest and weakest, much worse than regular practices. I just like running and trying, okay? I'm a regular inspiration. (The worst was one summer when my mom signed me up for a swim team. We'd all start swimming a lap. Everyone would finish when I was about a quarter done. They'd wait for me. The moment I finished, the coach would start everyone again. I never got a break, and I hated everything about it, and eventually the coach would let the kids start without me, which was embarrassing, but also a relief. At that point I could piss away the rest of the practice.)

I'm pretty coordinated. Eventually I learned to sprint pretty fast, too. One thing that annoys me about xfit is that we're training in that dumb eternal way that grown ups do, but nothing requires any coordination.

....

Mimi is here, Jammies is not. Jammies is off golfing for a weekend with some love-bros.

Mimi mused, "By the time I had four kids, Jammies was a huge help. He watched and played with them, later he drove them all over town..."
I said, "Me too! I also couldn't do it without Jammies."

....

The last I shared here, the police had found a chihuahua in the neighbor's house. N, who lives across the street, was keeping the chihuahua and the chow.

The neighbor showed up the next day - we figured the landlord had posed some ultimatum to him about getting his stuff out. He didn't ask about his dogs. He left.

But then! Another week or so later, the neighbor came back one last time, and happened to see the chow in the front yard across the street.  He went over and demanded his dog. N said no. They called the cops. The cops said that since N had not called the Humane Society or the cops in the first place, the dog was not his property and he had to give it back.

So N gave the dog back. The neighbor posted a snarky Facebook status ("When you find out your neighbor stole your dog smh. People have no authority coming and taking baby. Now cops are here.")  Keep in mind that it had been about four weeks since the neighbor had inquired about or acknowledged this dog's existence.

The neighbor took the chow back to their home town. The neighbor did not ask about the chihuahua. I feel a little sick for the chow, knowing that it is probably always chained up and alone. We've made up some comforting lies about why they might be kinder to the dog now that they're back home, but mostly who knows.

.....

I think that the fat from my fat injection has all been absorbed. I think it happened in the past month. After my surgery in October, wearing prosthetics got noticeably more comfortable. But in the past few weeks, it's reverted to being uncomfortable. That kind of sucks.

....

I spent Friday updating my CV. Just for a summer application, nothing career-changing. It was demoralizing to see how short and lame it is. To view my productivity through the lens of someone outside Heebie U - I have not been very productive over the past ten years. There's no line in a CV for you to say, "But I filled my free time with great hobbies and blogging and was pregnant a bunch, and you'd probably like me, if you met me in person!"  There's no category for, "I kind of find research boring, and I like teaching, and even better I like not being at work a whole lot!"

Also, I have not gotten a single award or recognition in my eieven years at Heebie U. (Actually, I got one for Civic Engagement.) Mostly they require you to apply - submit your name, CV, small blurb about yourself - and if I were the kind of person who applied for awards, wouldn't I have a more ambitious career track in the first place?

When I was a kid, I never asked for chores to earn extra money. I didn't feel like doing anything extra. I could never think of anything I wanted to save up money for, anyway.  I liked the idea of baby-sitting, but not the reality of it. But before I realized that I didn't enjoy it, I told my mom that I didn't know how to get any baby-sitting jobs.

From then on she pestered me about putting myself out there, letting people know I was interested in babysitting. My mom doesn't understand why putting yourself out there is the worst. If you try to explain, she'll out-rational you. There are plenty of rational reasons why you should put yourself out there.

One day, my mom happened to use the phrase, "Baby-sitting jobs aren't going to just come knocking at the door," in the course of one of these lectures. Shortly after, there was a knock at the door.  A mother had seen me walking home from the bus stop, and asked if I'd like to babysit her two year old daughter during Gator football games. The timing was so great.

The little two year old's name was Victoria, and babysitting her was the dullest thing - I just didn't get how to have fun with a two-year old. I'd never been around a two year old; I'd never seen an adult have fun with a two year old.  The house in which I babysat Victoria did not belong to her family. A big group of friends all tailgated there, and then walked to the game, and I was left with a two year old, a lot of potato chips, and some Disney movies. It sucked. There were no toys, or not any toys Victoria found interesting, and I didn't know that when you're bored, you should take a kid outside and just go for a walk. It sucked.

Also - I definitely never changed her diaper. I hope she was potty trained, but it's also possible it just never occurred to me.

I think I'm going to go hang out with my mother-in-law, instead of blogging. It's been kind of a quiet week, anyway. 

4 kittens

Slam Duncans

Posted on 2017.02.12 at 22:45
Sprung is springing.



I wore shorts and sandals today.



QOQOQOQOQOOQO

The math students have trouble with negating if-then statements. For example, "If it rains, than the sidewalk will get wet," is probably the canonical if-then statement. The negation is, "It is raining, and yet the sidewalk is not wet!" (It's exclamatory for earnestness.)  The negation of "If P, then Q" is "P and not Q". The asymmetry drives students crazy - they want the negation to be another if-then statement. They want to negate P as well as Q.

I finally came up with a good example of the negation structure in the wild. I told my students, "My two year old stood up in his chair at dinner time. The chair tipped over and he bonked his head. He's okay, he cried, he's two. So the next night, he went to stand up in his chair, and we said..." (I slowed up for emphasis) "... 'Rascal! If you stand up in your chair, then you'll fall and bonk your head!' " (I used hand motions and made it totally clear that this was the key if-then statement.)

"So! What did my seven-and-a-half year old do? Well, she loves to prove mom wrong, right?" Students love this kind of personal anecdote. "So Hawaii stands up in her chair, and she says...so: what did she say?"

Several all answered, right on cue, "I'm standing in my chair, and I'm not falling and bonking my head!" It was so nice! The perfect negation. It's not an if-then statement. Keep the hypothesis true, and negate the conclusion.

Hawaii did not actually stand up in her chair and say this. That part is fiction. It is true that Rascal stood up in his chair, fall down, bonk his head, and got the if-then warning statement the next night.

What actually happened is this: when we said, "Rascal! If you stand up in your chair, then you'll bonk your head!" Rascal kept going slowly standing up, gauging our response.

So then we said, "Rascal!! If you don't want to bonk your head..." and we looked at him questioningly. Rascal answered, "don't stand in my chair," and lowered himself back down again.

What really occurred, of course, is exemplary use of the contrapositive - If not Q, then not P - instinctively by us and by Rascal. That's what got me thinking about the context as being ripe for logic examples.

I already have a great example for contrapositives, though. I say to the students, "Suppose you're on the border between an A and a B at the end of the semester, and I tell you, 'If you get an A on the final exam, I'll give you an A for the semester.' So you study and take the exam, and then the semester ends. The next week, you're sitting around at home, and you go to check your grades, and...you got a B!" I say, "So what can you infer?"
"Must have gotten a B on the final exam," they all say wearily. It illustrates the point very well. "If P, then Q" is equivalent to "If not Q, then not P."



QOQOQOQOQOOQO

At the beginning of each PT session, I have to spend ten minutes on a dumb recumbent bike. "All our patients start this way!" they told me in a chipper voice, when I politely asked to skip this part. During this ten minutes, I stare at this poster:




I used to just read my phone for the ten minutes, but a few weeks ago, the doc pointed out that whenever I'm standing around bored, I reach for my phone, and perhaps that bent-neck posture was contributing to my neck cramps. I sheepishly acknowledged this. So now I stare at that poster.

The more I stare at it, the more amazing it seems.  It was really hard to get a legible photo. Let me help you out with the main bullet points.

First, "Commitment to commitments"? Who says that with a straight face?

1. I commit to Rabid Responsibility. I own my commitments.
2. I commit to Confidentiality and Alignment. I keep confidences.
3. I commit to Empathy. I picture myself in the other person's shoes.
4. I commit to Authenticity. I acknowledge I am an individually valuable person.
5. [I can't make this one out. Something about humility.]
6. I commit to Life Long Learning. The learning never stops.
7. I commit to Perspective. Playfulness and fun makes people better.
8, I commit to Do What's Right. Very simple: Would mom approve?
9. I commit to Serve with Passion. My passion drives me to make meaningful differences in lives and business.
10. I commit to Sisu. I will face challenges head-on.

What a mouthful. Do they pledge allegiance to this poster every morning? It's not exactly bad, but personal valor ambition is so intense that it sort of gives me hives. Rabid responsibility, come on now.

(Also, before you bother to google, let me help: "Sisu is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered to not have a literal translation into English." The English translation is generally considered to occur in the intersection of youth, earnestness, and adorable hopefulness.)

I think the dry needling completely cured me. I don't feel like I'm fighting my own traps to hold good posture any more.

QOQOQOQOQOOQO

Hawaii bowls!



Pokey bowls!





Ace doesn't bowl!





Rascal bowls!





Heebie admires the font:



Let's all take a moment to do the obligatory feel-old sigh:



QOQOQOQOQOOQO

Things I say:
1. "Comparisons are the thief of joy!", quoting old TR there. I trot this one out constantly, to try to short-circuit the endless bickering. It doesn't work, but I'm vaguely hoping it will sink in and stick with them when they're young adults setting out, trying to find themselves.

2. "An idiot is someone who learned today what you learned yesterday." I just learned this saying this week, so I'm someone else's idiot. But the kids are jerks about lording knowledge over each other, and I'm glad to be armed with a pretentious blowhard saying that I can trot out automatically.

Things Pokey says:
1. "It's a good thing camping chairs don't have smoke alarms on them!"
I laughed, appreciatively. He went ahead and explained it in great detail anyway.

2.


"I want to go to Deep Sea to see the anglerfish, and the whales, and dragonfishies, and never-seen creatures that're still out there."  (Not me. Deep Sea terrifies me.)

Things Ace says:
1. "Hip hop is when you're walking and you're on a turtle, which is also walking. So you're moving on it and it is moving. Also it's stretched out so you don't walk off the end."
What? I think she just derived the elliptical orbits of the planets around the sun, or something. It's moving sidewalks all the way down.

2. "Oh yeah, oh yeah, I'm taking a bath with my butt crack open!" (Singing.)
Sorry, future Ace. I felt compelled to record that.

Things Pokey says:
1. "THE MOON! THERE'S THE MOON!  IT'S RIGHT THERE!"



I mean, it was a pretty moonrise.

2. We got called in for a parent-teacher conference for this little bugger. Basically he's several months older and twice as big as everyone else in his class, and so he's kind of bored and can really push the other kids around. I dunno, move him up to the next classroom? No?



Things Hawaii says:
1. "Mom, can we please go over March so I can put everything on my calendar? Please? It's already February."

2. "Can I get started on my Valentines? And Pokey's? And Ace's? Can I do everyone's?"

3. "A merengue is something that's hard and soft at the same time. Like a graham cracker."
I thought that was apt.

Things HEB says:
1.  When I was in high school, our cat got super constipated. The vet put him on a laxative called Propulsid. That always struck me as hilarious.



So I see this and just assume it gives you the shits.

2. Who loves Tim Duncan?



We love Tim Duncan.



QOQOQOQOQOOQO

On Thursday, mid-night, the cat was sloshed against me in full cuddle-bear hug mode. I spooned the cat, arms wrapped around him. He purred and wriggled and purred, head against my face. I ruffled his belly, mostly asleep. It's a thing we do.

I guess his claws, outstretched, kneading, tickled Jammies arm in a bug-like manner. Jammies gasped and started and smacked wildly with his hands.

The cat sprinted the fuck out of there, lodging his claws in my cheek to better launch himself.



I thought it was crazy-looking, but actually no one noticed except Ace.

Let's play "Let's Document My Birthday!"



This milk will expire on my birthday.



My birthday present to myself was supposedly going to arrive on my birthday.



All the kindergartners were given a heart on red construction paper. They were supposed to make a collage of 100 items, glue it on the heart, and turn it in, on my birthday.




Don't even try to go down this street on my birthday.



If you want to propose a book, you should have done it by this past Friday.



This wind ensemble toured on my birthday.



My phone knew it was coming up.



Pokey's teacher reminded us again about the Heart Collage with 100 items being due. DON'T FORGET!!



This recommendation for my student was due on my birthday. You get a lot of deadlines on a Friday birthday.



Good morning! Our alarm clock knows what's up.



My calendar knows what day it is.



My phone got the memo.



Someone sent me this dippy thing on my birthday.




This bathroom was due for a clean on my birthday.

THAT'S A WRAP! We'll play again next year!

**************!!!!!!!!!!!***********

So, did Pokey complete his Heart Collage with 100 items, to celebrate the 100th day of school? I'll tell you.

On Thursday morning, Pokey ran to me and urgently said, "Hawaii is throwing up!!"

I dashed to the back of the house. On the carpet, no less!




They totally got me - it's torn up pieces of paper. They made a barf bag to go along with it.



What about Pokey's heart collage? With the 100 pieces?



Awwwww.



100 pieces of paper barf.
**************!!!!!!!!!!!***********
Remember how I've been complaining about my neck/shoulder for the past 1 1/2 years? Or did you tune me out? I finally went to a doctor and got prescribed PT. I've been doing my stretches and strengthening moves - Ys and Ts, Door Angels, Punches and Rows - and it's been sort of helpful.

This week, I complained to the therapist that while everything is slightly better, I just can't get my trap muscles to relax. He asked if I'd like to try Dry Needling. I was like, "SURE! What is it?"

It's basically acupuncture, where you can feel it. My memory is that I couldn't really feel the acupuncture I got once, years ago. Here, apparently, the goal is to get the muscle to quiver. It felt like hundreds of little electric zings spreading throughout the muscle, so I suppose I quivered.

Afterwards, my trap muscles were super fucking sore. BUT - I think it worked. My muscles are still soft and relaxed. It's amazing.

  **************!!!!!!!!!!!***********


On my birthday:
1. the coach didn't show up at my exercise class, and we made up a lame parking lot exercise class.
2. the colleague who always brings a cake for department birthdays forgot to bring one.
3. I left my purse at work, at the end of the day.
4. my present to myself didn't arrive in the mail.

I didn't actually care about any of that stuff besides my purse, which a generous colleague brought home to me. The rest just made an entertaining litany of woe.

Hawaii made me a card:



with a little pop-out square. On the back:



This is not the first time Hawaii has given me money for my birthday. It's so freaking sweet of her - she is genuinely trying to give me something I'd like to have - and she absolutely will not take the money back.

Ace made me a card:



Ace also asked me, "Do you know how to make montanas?"
I said no.
She said, "You hold up your number one finger like this," and pointed her index fingers, "and then hold them up to your head like this," up from her temples. "Now you have montanas!" (She means antennas, the cutie.)

Pokey did not me anything but I bet he'd give me the barf heart if I asked.

Rascal also didn't make me anything, but here's an adorable picture of him with dinosaur hair.



Jammies suprised me with a stand up paddleboard! I was seriously not expecting that. I'm sort of worried I'll never use it and be a bad recipient, but I hope not.  When I used one in Montana, I found it meditative and wonderful.


**************!!!!!!!!!!!***********


And then! My birthday ritual. We started at a grimy local flea market.



A fetching pearl snap shirt.



Discard the chain, keep the stone.



A summer purse.



This little water color reminded me of these cats:



which I like.



Ugh, I want to do the pretentious reverse-snobbery thing where I tell you how little I paid for them. Actually, my friend bought them for me. But they were only $15.



This little brass Apatosaurus.



These very heavy bookends.




Not that little pig, although I thought he was very cute.




Speaking of cute.



These little camera bots just make me smile so hard.



I just love them.



A large green spoon for hanging on your wall, and keeping your smaller green spoons in. There was an even bigger green spoon - maybe two feet in length - which I did not buy.

After that, we left the flea market and headed to a rural antiques maze of connected trailers.



OH MY. That is a sign. I did not buy this.



Cuppa homoeroticism, anyone? I did not buy these, either.



I might go back for this poster. A remarkable bird, indeed.



This poor entrapped little holographic plush koala. Nope.



Goodness no.



This was a folded four panel room divider, and I would have bought it in a heartbeat if I had any use for such a beautiful thing.



These metal roosters are the only thing I did buy at the antiques maze. I've been lusting after them for years.  Old Apatosaurus just walked right up and smooched the senior of the two roosters.




He also wasn't sure if he could ride this train or not. Fraid not, son.

What a haul!  What a lovely birthday.

**************!!!!!!!!!!!***********


Lastly. Every year my Intro to Proof-writing students read Fermat's Enigma. It's a nice survey of Western mathematics. We're about 100 pages into it.

One of my students told me how much she liked the opening quote, and then said, "I got this on Saturday":



Ho-lee-shit.  I do think it is amazing. I'm not sure I've ever had that kind of impact on a student before.

4 kittens

January is almost over.

Posted on 2017.01.29 at 23:05
My secret LJ friend robertainnc passed away, unexpectedly, complications from pneumonia, this week. Primarily, she's Apostropher's wife, but he connected us here when I was pregnant with Hawaii. I am so sad. Her blog was "The Last Rambler" and she was a bigtime classic bloggy rambler, with long portraits of her relationships with friends and kids and loved ones. She was just there, I was just reading her on Monday. Her job was pretty shitty at the moment - her boss sucks - but she just had a job interview. Rascal at age 2 reminds her so much of Noah at age 2: so much shouting. She was so ALIVE and vibrant and nurtured these gigantic loving relationships with the people in her life. Her last entry was called "My emotional yo-yo ball of a day" - she was completely mid-life, in the sense of being abruptly interrupted and brutally torn out of her place in the fabric.

It's funny, I've been very upset this week over Roberta - Tuesday was a mess. I kept showing up places with puffy, red eyes, struggling to mentally compartmentalize so I could teach class or meet with students. But I never actually met her. I don't know what her voice sounded like, or how tall she was, or how she carried herself.  Secret blogs are a weird intimacy. From Unfogged, I know how Apostropher banters, how he talks, what he's like in a group of people. I have no idea how Roberta does any of that stuff. But from Roberta, I know the rhythm of her household and daily life, how much she loved being unemployed for a few months and how she spent her time, how ailing her father is, and the depth of her bonds with her family, extended family, her friends, kids, and Apo.  How she decorated their new, amazing house and sat with Noah in kindergarten at the lunch table when he was in extended punishment hell. I didn't even know her nickname was "Bert", but what a cute affectionate thing to call her. It's not actually my tragedy, but I can't wrap my head around the enormity of severing all those bonds. The idea of Apo trying to navigate this loss with his kids is enough to make your heart split open.

Also: maybe her blog should be archived? Eventually LiveJournal blogs go dark if not updated. Her journal is mostly friends-locked, and so I wonder if I should figure out a way that I can archive it as a friend, or something. I don't know. But maybe the kids would be glad to have it in ten years.

.......

Jammies is out of town, my parents are in town. I have lots of beautiful photos from the weekend.

The country is probably in the midst of an honest-to-god constitutional crisis, and maybe a solid majority of citizens aren't aware of this. It's getting harder and harder to imagine merely weathering four years of a Trump administration, and more and more likely that this will gather momentum and explode in a war, or impeachment, or fascism will be established without a war.

.........

In the local sense, it's been a really lovely weekend. This crumbling democracy has intensified my love for people in my life, and it was easier than usual to cherish my parents instead of nitpick their inadequacies.

I think all I've got the energy for is a photo dump. So here you go:

One day, at daycare, the secretary told us, "We found a bunch of stickers from last year. Here's some of your kids."  Hawaii quickly took ownership of the stickers, and affixed some of them to her school assigned ID tag on her backpack.



So Hawaii has those three goofballs with her all day long.




There are eleven deer in that front yard. I know everyone thinks they've got a lot of deer, but seriously, that is a lot of deer in one yard. That is near the kids' piano teacher's house.



Pokey's teacher sent us a bunch of photos of the kids in his class learning about a classroom-sized Texas.



Safety first.



January is almost over. Does your seven-year-old know their daily activitie two months out?



Elaborate school.  I gave her a hard time for erasing a complicated list in the upper right corner of the board, right as Grandma Collie and I tried to take a photo of it. She rolled her eyes and got pissy about it. But the next day she recreated all the details and sullenly let me know that it had been re-created, and I felt bad for coming down so hard on her.



Rascal creates messes in under five seconds.



I recorded some video from this scene. Ace is telling Papa Ken all about the princesses' swimming lesson. Papa Ken asks her, "Is that one twazy?" and Ace says, "Oh YEAH. This one is TWAAZY."  It's very, very cute.

Papa Ken and Ace were pretty tightly knit this visit. He loves that Ace says Dampa Ten and Damma Tollie.



Damma Tollie helping Pokey sew a tooth pillow, to put your tooth in for the tooth fairy.



Damma Tollie baking cookies with all the kids. I like Rascal's little cameo in the lower right corner.




We went to the park.



These guys seemed like babies. They were so fuzzy and willing to let our kids get close.



Climber.



Cuddlers.




The tooth pillow was finished, and just in the nick of time.




New gaping hole!

Damma Tollie and Dampa Ten leave tomorrow. Jammies gets home late tomorrow night from Los Alamos. I miss him. 

4 kittens

People are the best and worst.

Posted on 2017.01.22 at 22:14
Ugh, I have the worst story.

So, the neighbors moved out before school started, on January 3rd, or at least the mom and kids did. The dad was still stopping by occasionally.

When I was in Madison, they sent us a message, "Can you check on the dog in the backyard?" It was supposed to get very cold that night. We said sure. They said, "We'll be by to pick up the dog in a day or two."

The dad did come by that Monday, but he left on Tuesday without the dog. This would have been January 10th or so.

We got more and more concerned about the dog, and eventually our across-the-street neighbor, N, took the dog in. (N has a bunch of other dogs and is semi-famous around Heebieville for being the guy with long dreds who has his pure white pitbulls pulll him on his skateboard all over town.)

The dog is a pure bred Chou. She has heartworm and needs an eye operation. We paid some vet bills. We conceived of cover stories for when the dad showed up and asked about his dog.

More days went by. The dad hadn't showed up. N's parents offered to adopt the dog. We all agreed that was fine. Jammies and I fumed that the neighbors apparently just assumed that the dog would be our problem.

On Saturday - now January 21st - Hawaii and I were at the Women's March in Austin. Jammies was home with the other three. He saw the landlord and some cops, and N, all talking outside the neighbor's house. Jammies went over to see what was going on.

The owner of the house had brought the cops so that he could enter the house, not being sure if the tenants were still around or what. When they opened the door, they found...

...ANOTHER SECRET DOG THAT NONE OF US KNEW ABOUT.  There was a little chihuahua in there, just hanging out, starving to death. They had just left it there.

Jammies and I are so fucking furious. Jammies, more so than I, had really gone to bat for them on the notion that they basically cared about their pets, even if they were shitty neglectful owners.  It's dumb, but I feel almost betrayed. How could they be such shitheads?  Part of me wants to scream at them on Facebook, but what's the use? There is no point. (N currently has the chihuahua and the chou, as we find permanent homes.)

(Remember the pathetic kittens? The five year old informed me, over Christmas break, that the remaining kitten had been given away. That had seemed like evidence that they were responsible enough to re-home a pet that they no longer wanted to take care of.)

....

After that story, I think we all need a palate cleanser:



Ah, cute kids in pussyhats.




Goofballs goof-ballin'.




Feeling better now, thank you.

...

During the puppy drama, Hawaii and I were doing this:



Hawaii's sign has stink lines coming up that didn't photograph well.

I had really felt too lazy and demoralized to bother going to the march. Then I sort of hoped someone would peer pressure me into going. Finally on Friday I faced up to facts: no one was going to peer pressure me into going, so if I actually wanted to go, I should get off my ass.

I rounded up some friends with kids, and we formed a little group of eight.  I wanted to take Pokey originally, but he would have been the oddball sore thumb with the group that ended up going, and so I didn't push it. Pokey himself was torn on attending, as well.



Rounding the corner mid-march, toward the Texas Capitol building. That dude's sign says, "If you mess with my sisters, we'll kick your ass."  I feel like he's not quite there yet, as a feminist.

During the "Her body, her choice!" chant, my friend asked, "Are we saying 'Errbody, her choice?" which makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Afterwards on the south lawn of the capitol, the girls had fun rolling down a grassy hill, and Hawaii's legs broke out in hives:



so I guess she really is allergic to grass after all.

I saw a flat-chested post-mastectomy woman wearing a baggy tanktop that accentuated her scars, and read "Flat chested Nasty Woman." I shrieked and ran over to hug her, and she paused because I was a complete stranger, of course. And then she registered my chest - I skipped the fake boobs for the march - and did a little jig with me, and we took a photo.

Oh I guess I'll share:



(I trust she doesn't mind me posting this.)  My first sighting of another flattie in the wild. I posted the photo to the FB group, of which she is also a member. It was a weirdly intensely emotional kinship for me, for all of a two second meeting.

.....

Classes began. The Trump administration began. Jammies is going out of town this week. Our dryer and our oven and our living room light all finally truly, irreparably, bit the dust.

Now strike a pose.



Well done, you.

4 kittens

The Goobers Go Camping

Posted on 2017.01.16 at 21:52
I am pretty run down and tired. Let's do this!



This weekend we camped in our CCC cabins.



We brought Goobers camping.  Not those goobers above, the Goobers that is swirled PB and J, together in a single jar. I finally decided I was waging a war against our children for being unwilling to eat PB&J.

The Goobers worked! The goobers are now eating PB&J! Pyrrhic victories for all!



Nothing In Excess

We did not have to work to make the goobers like tortillas and ketchup. It's so gross but they all love it. Ace said, "I'm going to call it 'cheetah skin and blood'." That does not make it less gross.



Clever Men Are Good But Not The Best. Deep down, I think we all know that's true.

Pokey spent the weekend with his gang:



Their bond was the stuff of movies like Stand By Me. They are all the same height. They never fight. Two of them are identical twins. They stayed immersed in their foursome imaginary turf for 72 hours. At one point, I heard Pokey yell, "I've got the power of BACKSPACE!"  That's some next-level control-alt-delete power right there.



Cobwebs Are Always Found in Dirty Corners. Of one's character?

Our friend's 8 year old said, "Jammies reserved all the cabins because he's the oldest and he takes good care of us." Jammies does take good care of all of us, but he's not the oldest.



No Man Sees His Shadow Who Faces The Sun.

On Saturday, Jammies woke up with the kids at 6 and cooked everyone breakfast. On Sunday, Jammies woke up with the kids at 6 and tended to them.  Then he announced that he was planning on drinking bloody marys (maries?) until he passed out at 4:30. He didn't make it that long. He got super day-drunk and I put him to bed by early afternoon.

This is how you know that Jammies needs a break. He was all worn out, and doesn't know how to just take a nap, like the rest of us goobers. Poor guy. Also he got to get rowdy-drunk, which is always fun.



Mud Thrown is Ground Lost.



Hawaii found this cool thing. It's about the size of a soup spoon, but knotty gnarled wood.



It was drizzly, we ate communal chili, one friend tore a bunch of ligaments in her wrist tripping over a suitcase in the middle of the night.  There were a lot of banjos and guitars and singing of folk songs.



Happiness is the only good.

Those are the only mantels I photographed, although there were nine cabins of families total. (No one stayed in A Man is as Big as the Things That Annoy Him, our cabin from last year.)



The kids ran around in a big unsupervised pack. I remember that rare feeling as a kid: being somewhere special where for some reason, my parents are letting us roam wild and free. Complete independence. It's pretty intoxicating.



.....

Last Tuesday we had a five hour planning meeting. There was a very contentious alcohol permit. Ahead of time I prepared my thoughts on the matter, and presented them with gravitas. Basically I gave a pompous speech, on the dais.

Afterwards our councilmember texted me, "Nice work tonight on G-----'s! Good points on the plan the community adopted together is only as good as we as policy makers enforce it! You were inspiring!"  (That means she was watching our meeting on TV.)

AW SHUCKS! Me!  I felt like I got an A+ in civic duty.

My grad school advisor ran for Congress once back in 2004. Last summer, I asked his advice on how to talk folksy instead of mathematical, up on the dais with the planning committee.  He gave me very specific framings and phrases for several issues I tossed at him, and I wrote his advice down. The councilmember was specifically praising my advisor's language.  I still felt flattered. Knowing who to copy is most of life, right?

......

Here was my closet:



Hanging objects on the left, shelves on the right. This photo was taken after I'd removed most of the hanging items.



Ghost of hanging items on the left.



Muddled shelves on the right.

I asked Jammies to re-do my closet for xmas. While I was in Madison with Hawaii, and while Jammies was watching three kids, he also re-did my closet.

Now it looks like so:



Two rows of hangers in the middle.



Shelves along the far right.



Shelves along the far left.  I'm so excited, I'm not kidding.

Full of my clothes:



My, what nice clothes.



Shelves on the left.



Shelves on the right.

I have ordered a whole bunch of fancy clothes hangers, so if you're lucky, you might get another update. It's really very exciting. I don't know how to make that sound sincere, but it is.

4 kittens

Feathery ice on the window

Posted on 2017.01.09 at 15:44
"Two words," said a guy on the plane, in first class, "I'll tell you two words."
I paused to eavesdrop on the two words, as I walked down the aisle of the plane. Hawaii and I flew home on Sunday from Wisconsin. She and I had a special just-the-two-of-us trip.

Tell you what - I'll wait to tell you his two special words until the end of this blog post. It'll be a fun game we play! I'm withholding!



I'm trying to be artistic in this photo with the feathery ice on the window.

This trip was the companion trip to Pokey's and my special trip last summer.  Thursday night I was trying to figure out what to pack Hawaii for breakfast - what if nothing in the airport were open for our 6 am flight?  "Mom?" asked Hawaii, "Could you wake me up when you wake up, instead of waiting, so that I have time to eat breakfast?"  Sometimes it's weird how grown up she is. So I woke her up at 3:45 am on Friday morning.

She jabbered with excitement for roughly the next two hours, she was so giddy. My favorite chatter was when she was categorizing who was an old lady and who wasn't. She told me that I wasn't one, and then said, "Aunt C isn't old, but she is a lady."



I feel like I said my real goodbye to Grandma last year, and so this was more of a yearly pilgrimage. I still got choked up and emotional, but I don't feel the need to record here every last word she said. She's smaller, frailer, and 99 years old, and gives the impression of a music box that is slowing to a stop. She mostly dozes, but her greetings are estatic and thrilled - she'll tell you she loves you more than the moon and the stars, she'll marvel over how beautiful you are and how good the world is. That sort of thing. Then she recedes, and then a few minutes later she resumes.



My uncle made this light, which always hung over the dining room table in her house.

Well okay, I'll transcribe some dialogue after all. One week ago, the staff called my uncle because my grandmother was, uncharacteristically, sobbing and upset and inconsolable. He headed over. She sobbed for awhile, and then finally said this:
"Love is such a sweet sorrow," which is a misquote, of course, of Shakespeare's line about parting, but is still true in and of itself. Then she said, "Some sorrows are simple, like grief or bereavement." She speaks very slowly these days. "Other sorrows are complicated, like regret or cross words."

My uncle said that she stayed on this topic for a little while, and used the phrase "cross words" more than once. He did not probe to see if she was thinking of any occasion in particular. My grandmother, in the past, had an amazing knack for doling out unsolicited, hurtful, relentless advice. This may have been the first time she's ever possibly contemplated it. Even if it wasn't, it still feels like she's channeling something profound.



She is resting under that light that my uncle made.

On a different recent occasion, she asked him to explain gravity to her. So there are indications that she is pondering, thinking, turning things over, still.

Each year when I visit her, I find it excruciating to kiss her goodbye and walk out the door. It feels so final, because each year, it probably is.



It was about 5° F out when I took that photo of Hawaii on the bridge. We walked back from my Grandma's to my uncle's house. My toes were totally numb.

...

My cousin was in town with her little baby. They had this vaguely Indian youtube channel of children's songs, including:

Johnny, Johnny.
Yes, papa?
Eating sugar?
No, papa!
Telling lies?
No, papa!
Open your mouth -
ha ha ha!


The family gathers around when Johnny opens his mouth and it is, in fact, full of sugar, and that he was lying through his sugary teeth. Then they all laugh at him.

....

On January 5th, I got a TimeHop notification from Facebook of this photo of Hawaii:



from January 5th, exactly four years ago.  I'm very pregnant with Ace in that photo. Hawaii's velvet dress in that photo is now Ace's very favorite dress, which Ace calls her Cinderella dress. And in fact, Ace was wearing that dress on January 5th, exactly 4 years apart. I had myself a sniffly moment.



(Neither of those are from January 5th, but Ace wears this dress a lot.)

.....

Pokey lost his first tooth!



Then he lost one of the two quarters he got.



Jammies did not lose a tooth!

......

It sounds like the neighbors are moving away. Their stuff is still here, but the kids missed school all last week, so I assume they're moving back home, closer to family. (The five year old, Jessica, told me they gave their kitten away.)

Mostly I'll miss them. The kids were really sweet and nice, and I liked having kids next door to draw our kids outside. Sometimes it was a bit surreal to look up and realize that I was supervising nine children in my living room.
.....

On Saturday, I went to visit my Grandma, and Hawaii stayed behind at my uncle's house. When I came home, she showed me this book:



Food, a children's book by Hawaii Geebie



Pizza at a pizza party, with all of your friends.
Doughnuts at your birthday, the fun never ends.




Chocolate for when Grandma is in town, even though it isn't necessary.
Pickles are a sour treat, you should save them for a fairy.






Bananas for breakfast
Oranges for a snack
Noodles for lunchtime
Tacos for a dinner stack.  And...




Ice cream for dessert!
You ate so much food today, you're now a food expert.
THE END!


Noted:
1. I really like how she slowed the pacing in half, for the third stanza. How did she know to do that?
2. The picture of a taco: I'm not sure Hawaii has ever seen a hard shell taco like that in real life. All our tacos are soft tacos, wrapped up like teeny burritos. She's drawing the collective unconsciousness's taco there, not her own.



Lounging on the escalator.

....

Ok fine, you read to the end. Do you still want to know the two words from the plane?

"Grand Rapids!!" he said, "Isn't that perfect?"

4 kittens

Llama Sonatina

Posted on 2017.01.01 at 23:03
Happy new year. 2016 is SO yesterday. To celebrate we watched TV. Jammies was typing on his phone during the actual ten second countdown instead of sharing a moment. But then we kissed and it was 2017 either way.

Jammies took the kids to see this movie today:



Erm, that's "Rogue 1", Hawaii.  There is a new fancy theater nearby:



My song of 2016 is Bowie's Starman. It's very special to me right now.

My New Year's Resolutions are:
1. To get Fluffy cat to come cuddle in my lap.
2. To renew last year's resolution about keeping my clothes picked up off the floor 80% of the time. I successfully kept this up through roughly August or September, but the last few months really got out of hand.

A Boring Story

I never did finish telling you about my tooth. Two weeks ago, it was throbbing with increasing urgency. I speculated that my gum was infected, behind my last molar. I booked a Denver dentist appointment. Aggressively, I gargled and swished with saltwater. As a kid, gargling with saltwater was so repulsive that I'd gag and vomit. But now it doesn't seem so bad. It really goes to show you how bright and clunky and easily stimulated your taste buds are as a kid, and how dull (but discerning) they are as adults.

Anyway: I swished aggressively. My tooth felt incrementally better. The next day, the dentist couldn't find anything. Nothing was infected. There is a 6 mm pocket from a wisdom tooth, and flossing only reaches 3 mm, they told me, so I probably had some food stuck back there.  I vaguely remembered that the aggressive swishing had dislodged something, (a little speck of something white). They cleaned out the pocket thoroughly. The tooth went back to normal.

Ace and Rascal

1. "I'm Batgirl, you're Wonderwoman, and Rascal is Supergirl!" said Ace.
"I Baggirl, you Wonwhoa, an Moe-thy Soogir!" echoed Rascal. He's echoing really complicated things these days. He's also speaking in pretty complete sentences - "No I do it!" (the classic everytoddler), "where daddy go?", "No I wan THIS one", etc.



2. "If you're lost in the middle of a city, birds don't really take you home. They just take you to different islands." Another one from Ace. I stopped to write it down because I was so enchanted with the logic.

3. Here is a song I sing to Rascal, to the tune of Frere Jacques:
Chew and swallow,
chew and swallow

The food that's in your mouth,
the food that's in your mouth.

Don't put any more food in.
Don't put any more food in,

Until your mouth is empty.
Until your mouth is empty.


It doesn't scan whatsoever, but it serves an incredibly useful, self-explanatory function for Ol' Chipmonk Cheeks Rascal. The goal is to keep the entire mouthful of food from coming back out of his mouth and onto the table, which happens when Rascal decides he must bail on the situation.

I was reminded to sing the French version, and I got to the third line - morning bells are ringing - and it occurred to me that as an adult, I was still singing my childhood mumbo jumbo: soma loma tina. I went and looked up the French lyrics. It turns out that it is Sonnez les matines.  So my syllabic-word-mush was loosely tied to reality. (Conceptually, I always understood soma loma tina to mean llama sonatina even though I knew the English translation. Now I see that "Sonnez" is probably "sounds" and "les Matines" would be "morning bells". Something like that.)

4. Rascal has a crazy hard bowling ball head, and he lobs it around like a wrecking ball. We've all been headbutted in the mouth, nose, cheekbone, eye-socket, because of his careless disregard of his skull. His signature move is to sit in your lap, casually lean forward, and then wham back as hard as he can, wrecking-balling your face with his skull.

5. Pokey picked Return of the Jedi to watch on his turn, on the drive back from Dallas. Partway through, Ace asked, "Is this number 4?"
"No," we answered, "It's six."
"It looks like four," she said.
"Yeah," we said, "They do look alike. Same characters. But this is the one with the ewoks."
"NO!" she thundered, "MY LEGS! I'm making a four with my legs!"
I turned around, and lo, her legs were indeed bent into a numeral 4. But how on earth were we supposed to infer that from context, sweetie?

6. Rascal has some crazy static hair:







7. Ace is done with nighttime diapers!! We are down to ONE kid in diapers!

8. In the Dallas airport, mid-escalator maze, I ducked off to throw a tissue away. For some reason, Ace decided to try stepping on the escalator by herself, instead of waiting for me.

She stepped cleanly! Then the stair rose under her - the stair seam was right under her feet - and so she lost her balance and toppled backwards. But it's an escalator, so the stairs kept travelling up. She kept tumbling down the stairs, in place, in slow motion. I was heading back from the trash can - feeling motherly concern but also not immune to the slapstick humor, either.

Jammies abandoned Rascal at the base of the escalator, to go help Ace. He picked her up, and Ace and Jammies started travelling up the escalator. I pushed through the crowd to grab Pokey - there was now a bottleneck crowd of people amassed, waiting to go upstairs. I tried to get him to step on the escalator. He wouldn't, because he wanted Daddy to come back.

I forcibly picked him up and headed to the stairs. A nice grandmotherly lady offered to take his wheely suitcase, which he is obsessed with, and meet us at the top. He screamed and screamed at the idea of someone taking his suitcase. I thanked her, let the crowd surge die down, and we took the escalator up together.

At the top of the escalator, Jammies informed me that an entire flight crew had taken up with Pokey at the top of the escalator, concerned that he appeared to be abandoned because no adult had appeared for so long.

At a different point in our travels, Rascal decided to step on a moving sidewalk by himself. That same wheely suitcase did not come along, and he toppled backwards trying to hang on to it. There was no crowd and he didn't seem hurt or upset, and it was strictly funny.

9. Ace has a tendency to say things like, "I can't remember what our house is like," when we're on vacation, or "I can't remember what our minivan looks like," or "I can't remember what it was like when we got ice cream," a few hours after we ate ice cream.



I sort of know what she means. I used to freak myself out by trying to remember my mother's face, and not being able to retrieve it besides specific images from photographs.  (I know some people can't visualize anything, but that's not this.) Eventually I lived long enough that all the photographs and all of the repetition smeared together into a single coherent idea of my mother's face, but it takes brain development, I think. (And actually, it's not a single coherent idea anymore: there's my image of my mom in her 40s and 50s, long dark braided hair, in a bun.  And then my current idea of my 70 year old, white-haired, post-cancer, frail elderly mother.  She stopped dyeing her hair after cancer, which meant that along with the physical frailty, her hair went from dark brown directly to snow white.)

With Ace, I usually just ask her a few questions and she retrieves details just fine, and that seems to comfort her.

10. This is how Ace looks any time we go anywhere social, lately:



ie glued to my leg. She's gotten intensely shy recently.

Pokey and Hawaii

1. Pokey has his first loose tooth! He's very excited. Our babies teeth late, and our kids lose their teeth late. (Oh god, Rascal is drooling like a faucet, presumably due to his two year molars.)



Unintentional Still Life of Found Objects, by Pokey Geebie.

2. Hawaii told a long story called, "The Mum Zom Vam Man Story," and everyone in the car was rapt. It was a man who became a vampire, ("The Vam Man") and then a zombie, ("The Zom Vam Man") and then a mummy, hence the whole thing.

She is not clear on the details of her lore. He became a vampire by eating something gross off the ground. He became a zombie just by dying. He became a mummy by inadvertently letting a bit of toilet paper stick to his heel, so that the roll unrolled and trailed behind him as he went to the playground, and then he rode a merry-go-round and got all wrapped up. Then he injured his feet and walked stiff-legged, and then had a few minor adventures.

3. Because of the spacing of the kids, I am always coexisting with a shadow memory from exactly four years earlier, when Hawaii and Pokey were exactly the ages of Ace and Rascal.

Four years ago, when Pokey was two, was the height of his Mommy phase. I used to joke that no one has ever loved me like Pokey loved me. It was so sweet and dear and intimate, and I remember it so vividly right now. Currently Pokey is very independent.  He is still my Mama's boy, and still sweet and cuddly, but I'm having a bit of an ache that he isn't my two year old anymore.



Ugh, baby Pokey, you need a haircut, a napkin, and a hug.

That was in Madison. We were supposed to take a bus to a train to Montana, but there was a blizzard coming. So a night in advance, my uncle drove us to a hotel, two hours away, on the general premise that buses get cancelled but trains don't. The hotel was two miles from the train station.

We had no plan of how we would get from the hotel to the train in a blizzard. Pokey was two, Hawaii was three, and I was six months pregnant. It was something out of a Victorian diary. In the end, we befriended an old lady with a pick up truck, who was also going to the train station. She said she'd be happy to take us, but she wanted Jammies to drive her truck. Which he did.

Then we spent hours and hours in a tiny, wooden train station. We used up all our kiddie entertainment before we ever got on the train. Then we rode the train for two days to Montana. It's a fond memory.

One Last Boring Story

I swore off desserts until my birthday. Ugh, I'm sorry, what an insufferable thing to discuss.  I have a personal reason for going into detail here.

In Denver and Dallas, I was locked in the stupidest, most common sugar-wrestling-clinch-hold all vacation long. If there is a self-refilling platter of cake balls and toffee bark, brownies and cookies, cheesecake and coffee cake, do you nibble and graze all day everyday? or do you devote an outsized amount of effort into constructing and fortifying a barrier between you and the platter? Or do you magically self-regulate? Like almost everybody, I do not have one weird trick. I nibbled and grazed on uncut sugar for two weeks. As we pulled out of my cousin's driveway on Thursday, I declared a cease-fire of sorts - no desserts until my birthday, on February 3rd. So the sugar hiatus began on December 28th, not New Year's Day, if you must know.

(From July 2005 to July 2006, I did not eat desserts. I thought it would reset my sweettooth, but it didn't. I thought I wouldn't miss sugar after the first month, but I did. After six or seven months I wanted to quit, but by then I was closer to the end than the beginning. So I finished it and nothing happened.)(Jammies and I started dating on my birthday, February 3rd, in 2006. On Valentine's day, he stopped by my apartment on his way to work and brought me some muffins and coffee. It struck the perfect note - we'd only been dating two weeks, so this was cheap but thoughtful. I was smitten. As soon as he left, I threw both muffins away. Whenever I tell that story, Jammies says, "That's why I brought two different kinds of muffins. I figured one was a dessert, but the other one was a healthy muffin." Then I say, "I wasn't taking any chances. But I thought it was incredibly sweet of you to bring them by.")

We got back home from vacation. Almost immediately I regretted my decision to swear off desserts.  That is my personal reason, the reason why I'm boring you to death: to keep track of the desserts that I can seek out in one month.

This is the first installment of the series, Desserts I May Eat In February:



these powdered chocolate things.



not the cake, but the cream cheese and jalapeno jelly spead.



these little fudge balls on that atrociously ugly granite. That is basically the same granite that I removed from our kitchen, feeling like a materialistic bitch, but what can you do. If the shoe fits.



these yogurt pretzels.



and these cupcakes with brown crystal sugar sprinkled on top.

And right now I really want some ice cream.

4 kittens

A Tour of Geebie Love for Material Things

Posted on 2016.12.25 at 22:20
Merry xmas! Ours was pretty merry. I picked out some great stuff to tell Jammies to tell his family to get for me. Like a new ski jacket:



Do ski jackets look odd as regular jackets? I can't remember. But I love this enough to wear it more often than I go skiing, which is twice: once on Friday, and once in 1996.

Skiing on Friday: it was fun? When it wasn't too scary? I'm notoriously chickenshit.  I want to ski well enough to function as a parent on the slopes. Otherwise I'll lose out on lots of good times. Or: I could learn to make a mean hot chocolate and read novels by a fireplace and fawn over everyone when they return with their aching shins and coo over their great adventures.  That sounds nice, too.

(Chair lifts: what the utter fuck. How is it that we sit dangling twenty yards in the air? We all resist the compulsion to hurtle our cell phones and ourselves into the air? Terrifying.)

The kids had a ski lesson and had fun, so I suppose they will be skiers. How weird that I'm raising kids who are comfortable boating and skiing.

I also got this sweater:



which is my kind of shlubby.

and Hawaii made me this bracelet-necklace:



which took longer to make than you'd think. The buttons are threaded in a careful pattern.

I got Jammies a bunch of shoes that I liked. He is keeping these:



and these:



but returning these:



because they rub his foot in a weird way. Which works out well, because those were thrice as expensive as the other two, combined.

Jammies already has great shoes - this was not some passive-aggressive move to improve his closet. I just got a wild hare.

Rascal:





Attack baby, with steamy safety goggles.

Rascal got Hungry Hungry Hippos. Also train tracks and trains, car tracks and cars. Spent hours playing with his cousin's new kitchen set. He plays a lot with ours at home, as well.



Ace:

was the most expressive with glee. First she got this Elsa doll, on Christmas Eve. (Jammies' family does most of the presents on Christmas Eve, and then a few things from Santa on Christmas morning.)  She yelped, she was so happy.



On Christmas morning, she didn't bother to run upstairs with the rest of the kids. I had to go down and get her. "I already got everything I asked for," she told me, contentedly. She's very like that. I picked her up and took her upstairs.

On the stairs she said, in her dead-teenage voice, "Mom. Do we have to do the sorting thing again?"  I laughed and told her no. She meant the excruciating five minutes on Christmas Eve, when she had to sit still, patiently, and salivate, while the presents were being distributed to the recipients.

But then she yelped again, Christmas morning, when she saw what Santa brought her:





Six barbie-sized Disney princess dolls.  She is snuggled right in the crook of Capitalism's elbow right now, sighing contentedly.

Pokey:

We would not let him open his giant Lego set, and so he obsessively studied every page of the instructions all day.



He also pored over this Giant Dictionary of All Star Wars Lego Sets Ever:



 Mostly I didn't see him much this week - he played with his cousins and kept to himself, and came over to give me the occasional hug.

Hawaii:

So excited about her Pokemon cards and organizational binder that she didn't get around to opening her other presents for a good ten minutes:



See her stocking and presents to the left on the couch? Cannot compete with the organizational passion due her new Pokemon binder.



She also got an EZ Bake Oven, and made us some salty brownies and some oreos. The pre-packaged stuff makes three cookies at a time.



This abandoned letter to Santa is killing me. What? What angle was she developing? Surely "Everybody thinks they try to be good all year, but..." But what? What?   There is also a half-written Christmas Book that I really hope she finishes writing.

The kids also got scooters, but those are still in their boxes. It was cold and icy out.



Thus concludes the Tour of Geebie Joy of Tangibles. Tomorrow we head to Dallas for a few days with my side of the family.

We Also Did a Hanukkah Thing:



There was Hanukkah gilt in each box.  There's another four drawers that we didn't bring to Denver, because we're leaving before those corresponding days.

We didn't do candles, because we weren't at home, and we didn't do Taco Cabanakah, because we weren't at home, and we didn't do Mow The Lawnakkah, because scripture dictates that you only do that when you have an E. Messily with whom to share your delight in the absurdity.

Before Xmas, there was ice skating

Hawaii ice skates:



Pokey ice skates:



They have distinctly different styles: Hawaii does not like to fall. She stayed close to the wall. Pokey falls hard, over and over and over again, and shakes it off.  Within their parameters, they both did very well.  (Hawaii is taking after me. Pokey is Jammies.)

Ace ice skates:



Just kidding. No she doesn't.



Not only does she not skate, she takes off her mittens, hat, and boots, and sits there stubbornly, freezing. Not whiny, but not enjoying herself.

Pokey skates:





He had a ball.

4 kittens

The keeper of the catalogues retired.

Posted on 2016.12.19 at 21:11
Yesterday was a shitshow! A total one. We woke up in a little room in North Austin, all six of us. (It's not a mystery; we didn't black out the night before and find ourselves mysteriously there. We spent the night at our friend's house after they had a cookie Christmas party.)

The kids woke up at 6 am, and we hushed them with increasingly urgency for the next 2.5 hours. Our friends never woke up, which means our hushing was sufficient, but also tiring. Also Jammies was puking his brains out with a hangover.

At 8:30 we headed to other friends' house for a traditional Venezuelan breakfast. (The arrepas taste sort of like baked patties of grits. I love grits.) It was lovely. At 10:30 we got on the road for Dallas. Our flight was at 7:45 pm, and Dallas was 3 hours away. (The cookie Christmas party was in north Austin, about an hour towards Dallas. That is why we spent the night at our friends' house.)

I'm boring myself to death with this story. It was cold. Tantrums were thrown. Pizza Piper Pizza was time wasted at. We got to Denver around midnight. The end. It was 2 degrees out. Now we're here with Jammies' family.

Here's a little water bottle family portrait from the Dallas airport:



On Friday,

I was honored for being employed at Heebie U for ten years. Five years ago, for that honor occasion, I was given a catalogue and told I could pick anything out from the 5 Years of Service page. I picked out a paperweight: a little globe encased in plexiglass.

For 10 Years of Service, there was no catalogue anymore. (The keeper of the catalogues retired.) Instead I got an embossed letter, informing me that there would be an additional $100 added on in my December paycheck.

I guess I'd rather have the $100, but both are unsatisfying. An actual crisp $100 bill would have been hugely satisfying! Still spends, though.



Also on Friday,

Hawaii was awarded a Virtue Reward for the virtue of Compassion. (Different knight from Keith the Knight last April; same ceremony.)  We were informed on Thursday that the knighting ceremony would be Friday.

Here's how the ceremony works: parents arrive and are sequestered off in a tiny room. Then all the K-2nd students are seated in the cafetorium. Then the parents are solemnly ushered in. When students see their parents, they realize they're getting the award, and they get all excited.

While we were sequestered, Jammies said to me, "Pokey is going to think we're here for him." My stomach knotted up. There was absolutely no way warn him.

We were led to our seats. Pokey saw us, and lit up. Hawaii did, too, but I was a wreck for Pokey. The kindergarten teachers went up to announce the student from their class.

When Pokey's teacher announced some other girl's name, Pokey looked momentarily like he'd been punched in the stomach. I felt every bit of it. He buried his face in his lap for a few minutes. When he was ready, he composed himself and carried on.

They got to 2nd grade and Hawaii's name was called:



Afterwards I gave Pokey a big hug, but I didn't directly address his acute set-up and disappointment. I mean, he handled it maturely. It just sort of broke my heart.

Then we hugged Hawaii and congratulated her:



.....

I bought

...a bunch of extravagant gifts for my friends this year. It's how I cope with existential terror, apparently. Delivering the gifts was great fun.

For one friend, I bought two pairs of gloves, one small and one medium. "Try them on!" I said, "Part of the gift is that I'll return which ever ones don't fit!"  She complied and kept one.

We stood around commiserating about chores. "All this laundry and packing," she gestured around the living room, which was full of stacks of folded clean laundry, "and I realized a moment ago that I forgot to get my teacher's aide a Christmas gift," she lamented.

"How about a pair of gloves?" I joked, holding the spare pair.
She looked at me. "That would be perfect. Are you serious?"
"Of course!" I said, delighted with the poetry of the situation.

Her husband chimed in, "I've got a giftcard to Target," he said, "that a student gave me. You could use that as a gift."
My friend said, "I could, but gloves are more personal. She's a really great aide."
"Totally," I said. "Help yourself."

The husband turned to me, "Want a gift card to Target?"
I laughed, "Yes I do!"
My friend said, "Oh yeah, take it! I'll never remember to pay you back for the gloves!"

I took the gift card. The whole triangle exchange was way more fun than just being reimbursed.



This coffee cup struck me as beautiful and rich, at lunch with Jammies. Wonders.

When I started

...at Heebie U, they told me that we'd be tearing down the building that my office was in, probably within a year.



That's Emma, for whom our building was named. For the past ten years, it's been a perennial threat: always in about six months, we'll have to move.



It was a dorm, so our offices had tiny closets and tiny built-in desks, which I found charming. (The desks were not authentic; my colleague built them into the walls the 80s. I still like them, and I like the colleague.)

Mold levels have finally exceeded legal limits, and we're being relocated this break. Here are the things I'll miss about my old building:

1. It's really quiet and out of the way.

2. My door has a peephole and a heart in the woodgrain.



Look closer:



3. This mosaic tile:



which we always kept hidden:



I guess it gets slippery.

4. Our very yellow bathrooms.



5. The arched doors.



I guess that's all!

......

On Friday,

my grandma turned 99 years old.  This will probably be her last birthday; she's got some fluid on her heart and is expected to wind down over the next few months. I spent the day feeling melancholy and twilight-ish.

Logistically it's somewhat difficult to get her on the phone, and I'd talked to her earlier in the week, and so I didn't actually wish her a happy birthday. But I kept the email from Facebook telling me that it was her birthday. (Actually she has two accounts, and I'm friends with the both, so the email says "Beatrice Geebie and Beatrice Geebie have birthdays today! Help them celebrate by wishing them a happy birthday!")

.....





I have a toothache.

I think it might be infected.

I'm going to a Denver dentist tomorrow morning.

1. E. Messily was very sick. I sat down to watch TV with her on her bed, a thing we do when she's too sick to talk and hang out, but would enjoy company. She said, "This show is great. I need to tell you the backstory, though."

So she began: "This guy is called in to solve a murder. Each clue keeps leading to the next in this really pat, convenient way. Finally he starts to suspect that one guy is behind it all, leaving a trail of clues deliberately for him to follow."
"Got it," I said. It sounded good.
E continued "Then the detective realizes that everybody is in on it.  All the people in this town are involved in the put-on. The dialogue is wooden and stilted because they're all acting out their parts."
It sounded great. I started to watch.

At one point, the detective found some asthma inhalers sitting by a bed. That lead to a conversation about whether the suspect smoked, which lead to his best friend who did smoke. I could see what E. Messily meant by each clue leading to the next.

That smoker fumbled with his cigarette during the conversation, and the detective reached out and flipped it around. "What was that?" I asked E.
"The detective was probably palming a cigarette, and they swapped cigarettes. To exchange a message," she explained. I was impressed.

Later on, in a quiet scene, she pointed out, "They can't talk - their shoes are bugged." And after that, a woman alone in her house, drinking wine while overlooking the downstairs: "She's drinking wine, in morse code." There was a lot going on. I didn't finish the episode - it was late, I had to go to bed. I told Jammies that we should watch it sometime, though.

The next day, E. Messily IM'd me: "Last night you watched part of a tv show with me and I said a bunch of backstory about them trying to figure out who was on their side or not and using subtext...did that make sense, with what you saw? Was I being crazy?"

I wrote back,  "It made sense, but they never tipped their hand in the portion that I saw."  All of a sudden, I had to pause and reinterpret the previous night. Wasn't it a very clever show? I continued,  "It didn't cross my mind to doubt you - it seemed plausible that it was an exceedingly clever show - but I didn't see anything that independently confirmed it."

E. Messily said, "I'm going to have to watch it all again, because nobody even hints at it in any reviews or summaries I can find."

I thought back to the cleverly obvious clues, to the intentionally wooden dialogue, and realized: I am incredibly gullible.  It was actually just obvious clues and wooden dialogue. The whole show came into focus - it's just a regular show! That makes so much more sense!

What a delightfully dumb bunny I am, nodding along and living in the world spun out by E. Messily's hallucinations! How did I not put that together?  Jammies and I know, very well, what it's like when E. is very sick, and how her mind slips down these fractals. She's still a very smart person while having hallucinations. (And I'm gullible as hell. You should invite me along whenever you need a gullible straightman to sell your lie.)

It would have been a really amazing TV show, though. I think E should write it.

2. Ace's dance recital was rescheduled for Thursday.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Ace kept saying that she was not going to dance. She had wanted to dance at the cancelled Christmas Festival, not this other elementary school bullshit make-up recital.  (Last spring she also swore she would not dance in the recital. Then she chose to do it, after all, when she was sitting with her classmates in her costume.)  We did not make a big deal out of it.

She refused all the way up to Thursday, backstage. She clutched at me when Ms. K invited her to check out the stage. I maintained the party line: she had to put on her costume and sit with her friends, and after that she could make up her own mind.

Putting her costume on was a disaster - she was crying and a mess. Other parents were unhelpfully trying to cajole her with promises of cookies and looking adorable. Finally I said I was going to go sit in the audience if she didn't put on her costume, and so she did. She calmed down in my lap, became hysterical as I tried to leave.

I did leave. I turned the corner beyond the door and waited, and listened to her sob and sob and sob. I thought about Hawaii's disastrous piano recital a few years ago. I decided that it was dumb to torture the three year old. I re-entered  the backstage room and Ace fell into my arms. We hugged.

We put Ace's street clothes clothes back on and joined the audience just as the show was about to start. (Jammies' jaw dropped. "WHY THE FUCK ARE WE HERE?!?" stage-whisper-bellowed Jammies.)

I felt super conflicted. Back stage she had said, "I don't want to dance on the stage. I want to be on the video afterwards, though." She was conflicted. She would have been happy afterwards to have made it through. But also, there's good lessons about autonomy and being in charge of your own body and so on.  On the other hand, we also have general guidelines about finishing what you started. OTOH, she's three.

She did feel sad as she watched her classmates dance. Afterwards I asked her if she wished she had danced, and she said "NO!" so I felt okay about it.

Later, at home, I asked her if she would have danced at the Christmas festival. "YES!" she said enthusiastically.

"Then why not tonight?" I asked.

"The Christmas festival is FUN!" she exclaimed.

So who knows. There may not have been any deep emotionally coherent reason.

3. I wish I'd taken a photo of Jammies and I for our Christmas party last night. He wore a novelty suit that was more-or-less garish wrapping paper. I wore a very refined outfit, which I called Miss Colorado 1976. Drapey floral polyester country dress - slate blue with brown flowers. Suede boots, sherpa lined denim vest, feathered hair. Wooden jewelry. It was a look.

Jammies had a delirious moment of heaven with the hors d'oeuvres, a specific confection: frozen tater tots, rolled in brown sugar, wrapped in bacon and cheddar, and baked. I found them excessively greasy but I appreciate the decadence.

The person who brought them was not trying to be too cute by half. She just thought it would be popular. I like this person but we have trouble connecting. Later on, she was raving to me about a local store called Trends and Traditions, which I found to be a (pot-induced) hysterically funny name, because of its utter shlocky banality.  Which made her double-down on the earnest explanation. She kept trying to sell me on the fact that each item they have is carefully chosen to be one-of-a-kind. The owner curates the collection of jewelry and clothes with the greatest care and attention to uniqueness. "One of a kind!" I practically cried tears, laughing, "That's neither a trend nor a tradition!" I was probably being obnoxious.

4. On Thursday, I was down in the dumps, wondering if I should have had breast reconstruction. "I could have been totally done with reconstruction by now," I thought, "and never think about it again. Instead I've got this weird flat chest that will stay weird for the rest of my life."  I asked myself if I wanted reconstruction now, and glumly re-derived all the reasons that I did not want it, from scratch, and concluded yet again that I suppose I'd made the right choice for me.

Then I idly thought that it was strange that I was ruminating - I basically never think about it anymore. Why was this bugging me? (This is so YA fic-esque I can't stand it, but it's true) I realized it was the one year anniversary of my mastectomy. On the nose. Mastectoversary.

I am actually a big believer in anniversaries. That there are so many seasonal and calendar related cues - in this case the last day of classes and prepping for final exams, and having the weather turn cold, and anticipating the holidays - that your mind melds with all the other versions of yourself intersecting that spot on the calendar, and the most salient year rises to the top. So it did. I appreciated the milestone and no longer felt tugged by the phantom angst from last year.

5. E. Messily moved out. Her friend flew in on Friday, and they started driving up to Montana on Saturday morning. The house will now be less funny, less quirky, have fewer crazy constructions. Sure, a deer hospital. Sure, a tiny bed for the toy. How about a whole tiny party, where we serve tiny corn and use tiny doll silverware? How about a Mow the Lawnukkah party? Sure, some crazy shimmery fabric. Let's make a pangolin. Why not? I will miss having her friendship in my (local) life.

My grandmother is wearing down. She will turn 99 years old on Friday. She's got some fluid on her heart and is not expected to live more than another few months. She sleeps most of the day, and does not remember very much, but has coherent conversations still with her loved ones. She is happy and peaceful, almost to a ridiculous degree: my mom asked my grandma what she supposed the birds were saying when they chirped, and my grandmother said, "Peace. They're saying peace, peace."

My mom had to put her cat to sleep. I liked her cat, Darwin. He was a nut. He'd stretch out and fall off the counter. He was a total klutz. He'd chase his tail in dizzying circles, his whole adult life.

My carpoolmate is moving away. I haven't carpooled for years, but I still regarded him as a good friend and mentor. He officiated our wedding. I assumed we'd carpool again once my schedule opened up a bit. I feel glum that I didn't carpool for the last few years.

My great-aunt Tubby died. Sam Stayman was her husband, of the Stayman convention, which I guess means something if you play bridge. Tubby and her sisters - Mickey and Rita, my grandmother - were all catty Manhattan socialites, vaguely associated to famous things (I deleted the list of fame associations). Beautiful apartments and clothes. They were all sort of mean to me. (That's not fair - Mickey was always kind.) They stopped being mean to me when I slimmed down and became an attractive young woman. I was smart enough to still harbor a grudge, but also still envy their posessions and station.

6. Rascal is really into licking EVERYTHING. He has discovered that, predictably, it gets a rise out of adults if you drag your tongue along the table, the counter, the wall, their jeans, whatever texture is nearest your tongue. We are unable not to play into his hands - it's just so goddamn gross, I'm compelled to react, sputter, squawk at him to stop. It's so counterproductive. He's so gleeful.

7. I'll be sad when Ace stops calling Hawaii "DeWayne" and when she stops saying "otay". It's really cute.

4 kittens

We are Willing to Try

Posted on 2016.12.04 at 22:56
I spent about three hours today combing nits (and the occasional full grown louse) out of Pokey's hair. I don't know how much detail you want me to go into, here - if you want to hear about tiny nits all over my fingers that I can feel, like grains of sand, but just cannot get to drop off my finger into the water? about straining my eyes to see if I've gotten every little speck out of the nit comb?

Pokey has been itching his head for over a month, and I've checked him a hundred times for lice because it seemed so telling, but never found anything. Today I still didn't see anything, but decided to take the comb to his head anyway. It turns out that this case of lice was brown - way more brown than any lice I've seen before. Usually they're a grayish-white color. Evolving bastards! Pokey had a monstrous infestation.

Despite that, none of the other kids have lice. This is more evidence to support my theory: lice are actually pretty hard to contract. We panic and act like they're cooties and that you have to bleach the place down, but that's based on the faulty assumption that you discovered your kid's lice very shortly after the time of infection. I suspect that parents don't know their kid has lice for a month or more, and then it's a beast to get rid of it. But it doesn't actually spread very easily.

Art by Rascal



Turkey on a cupcake wrapper, art on plate, green string on pumpkin.



Blue paint in Ziploc, Chameleon (traditional)




Fire Truck on Fire



Rascal learns to play dead.
No that's not it. Rascal learns to Stop, Drop, and Roll.



Monster Looking Askance



Hatchet Victim With Eyes on Foot; Forensics Scene.

Should I tell you instead how

...we were supposed to go watch Ace dance Saturday night with her ballet class, at the Heebieville Christmas Festival? It started raining on Friday, and the organizers posted peppy updates, "Sights & Sounds is still on! See you Saturday morning for the Fun Run!" (Isn't Sights & Sounds a dippy name? The whole thing is anachronistic.)

Saturday was cold and raining. Think how cold and wet the bales of hay would be getting, the bales on which the audience sits. How many umbrellas would be blocking the view of the kids dancing. How unpleasant it is to be sitting still while you're in cold drizzle. How the dancers would be freezing and dancing on a damp stage, even if it technically stopped raining.

Finally they cancelled Sights & Sounds, and so we were spared. Ace was kind of bummed about missing her performance.

Art by Ace







Series of three works, "Phoning It In," by Ace Geebie.

I could tell you about Friday -

Senior seminars, math department dinner, too many cookies.

A bunch of our senior math majors are really into weight-lifting. I hold office hours from 2-3 this semester. It's been a thing where they'd come in for help on Abstract Algebra, and then say abruptly, "2:30. It's lifting time."  I've coopted this phrase and love to ask them if it's lifting time yet, and to assign lifting along with regular homework. Remember, guys, 2:30. Lifting time.

Art by Pokey



This turkey is on an index card. It would be nice to carry it in your wallet so that you could flash it at someone to put them on notice.



That frog hanging from a moon is really nice. So is that goat. I don't think Pokey drew this on his own.



Maze.

Next we explore a series: Colorful, Assisted by Pre-Drawn Outlines: Fall, 2016


That ram cracks me up: Forgiveness: Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and not holding a grudge. The essence of a ram.

We come to the partner series: Freehand on Manila Paper:



America With Purple Sky (subtitled: I do see color.)



Monkeys? Bugs? Thanksgiving Table? I should ask Pokey what's in this one.



Loves his Mama.



Still Life, Gourds, 2016.



I'm Not Sure of the Correct Orientation of This One.



A Gift, Aerial View



Millenium Pokey, Very Proud.

Probably nothing happened on Thursday.

All I take to work is my work bag, my purse, a lunch and a coffee cup. For lunch I just rummage through the fridge at the last minute.

I used to pack: my work bag, my purse, a lunch, shower stuff and towel, work clothes, toiletries, pumping machine, empty bottles, and a cooler to take milk home. I remember crying at the sheer number of different objects I had to remember to pack, just to go to work.

Earlier this semester, they told me to stop showering in our building. Our building is an old dorm. The mold levels have been hovering around uninhabitable levels, and so they got very strict in an attempt to keep it under control. That is why I no longer have to pack all that shower stuff - I have just been going home to shower. It's really pleasant.

Despite their draconian shower policy, they were unable to keep the mold from blossoming, and so we'll be moving out of our building at winter break. I liked our building, but it had it's drawbacks. The future is an open office.

Hawaii's Art



This is so wonderful, I can't stand it.  The most wholesome indoctrination.




This seemed a bit over-prescriptive. But Hawaii did quite a nice job within the constraints of the medium.



I really like these guys.



Now that one is just amazing:
Draw and color a picture on the other side of this paper of what you imagine it would be like to spend Christmas with a Cop (Police Officer). Dibuja y colorea una imagen al otro lado de este papel de lo que tu imaginas seria passar la Navidad con un policia.

I think both kids got this sent home. Should we submit this?



No?

Or Wednesday -

...family night at Sights & Sounds. Halfpriced rides. The temperature plummeted while we were there and we were all bricks of exhausted ice by the time we got home.

Ace was interested in rides for the first time:



We even rode a small roller coaster, which she enjoyed at first and then hated.

Rascal would not ride any rides, which was surprising.



The arts and crafts tent was shlocky and undesirable.



Those are lightbulbs.



Pokey is the blur partway down the purple slide.



Hawaii is the blur partway down the green slide.

It was really cold and we stayed too late.

Before Sights & Sounds

I got my haircut.  Diana, circa 1981:



Me, circa 2016.  I printed out the photo of Diana for the stylist to use; this isn't a post hoc comparison. It turned out pretty good. I'm still working on my pouty glower.

It's definitely more work than the bob I've been sporting. Cowlicks to tame, feathers to fly.

Art by E. Messily



Cuddly black cat for Pokey's birthday.



Note the teeny pads on the adorable feet.



Dorothy doll sporting new haircut and new clothes, for Ace:



Apparently this snap basically entailed the precision of sewing one thousand angels to the tip of a needle. Sewing all their tiny wings together.

Art by Jammies



December! We are willing to try!

4 kittens

Touching the ancient clams

Posted on 2016.11.27 at 22:20
Thanksgiving, Pokey's birthday, the leaves are falling and it no longer looks like summer.



By Hawaii.

My brother's family came to visit for Thanksgiving. Among other things, we went to Wonderworld Caverns. We've been here before.



The neighbors were gone for Thanksgiving, but the kittens were back, mewing on our front porch. Goddamn pathetic kittens. At least at first.  The orange kitten disappeared on Thursday.

On Friday, we debated whether or not to take the gray kitten to a shelter. It didn't appear that the neighbors had left food out for it. It no longer had a sibling to cuddle. It was whiny and lonely and hungry (and adorable but we have enough cats. Plus that'd be tough to explain to the neighbor's kids. "Yep, same cat. Yep, we judged you negatively and adopted your cat.")

On Saturday, the neighbors returned, which was unexpected - usually they pull in late Sunday night. We haven't seen Gray Kitten since. Hopefully she's being fed indoors and not strangled, but it's also possible she just disappeared, like her brother. At least we got to punt on the decision on the animal shelter.



Here is a series of lamentations I wrote on Unfogged, overnight on Friday night:

Lamentations Here.Collapse )


Let's put these predictions in an envelope and then despair at my presience again in five years.



I would like to frame this photo.

It was also Pokey's 6th birthday, yesterday. Here's the present I was most excited about:



Who's that Pokemon?



It's Pokey-mon!

The shoes were knock-offs, off Amazon. Look how perfect:



I think there's something deeply sweet about how Pokemon taps boys' desire to find things adorable. (Girls too, of course, but that's less novel.)

Here is Pokey's favorite gift:



 The X-wing fighter is 700 pieces and the Millenium Falcom is, I don't know, a jillion. Pokey worked on the X-wing fighter for six hours today:



He worked for five hours straight, and then took a break for a few hours, and then finished it up. Hawaii worked with him for the first hour. There were two small mistakes that Jammies helped him walk back.  Pretty good, kid!

Hawaii's favorite gift was the three ring binder that Pokey got for organizing his Pokemon cards.  She was deeply jealous, and immediately set about putting all his cards individually in their little plastic sleeves. She stayed up late to complete the task.  She would really like an organizational binder too, maybe for Christmas.



The cave is still cavernous. It is a dry cave, formed by tectonic plates shifting and wedge rocks falling in between them, as opposed to a cave eroded by water. No stalagtites or mites.

The tour guide boasted that they'd sent off some samples of ancient sea clams to the University of Texas. UT dated the clams to be 65 million years old, and asked the cave owners to donate them to the museum. "Put them under glass?" said the tour guide rhetorically, "Heck no! Sorry, this is a private cave! So we've got those clams right here - go on, touch them! Only ancient clams you'll be able to find and touch!" Jammies and I rolled our eyes. Probably if the poke-em-in-the-eye folks hadn't so recently destroyed the nation, we might have had more patience with the wanton destruction of the ancient clams.



Hawaii feeding the deer in 2016, Hawaii feeding the deer in 2014.



Pokey feeding the deer in 2016.  I don't have a companion photo from 2014, but here is Pokey at age 2, right when he was Rascal's age:



Sniff. There's something in my eye.

This was Ace's first time going to Wonderworld:



That is her most withering look. "MOM. Stop. You're the dumbest."



Also Pokey's first time.




Why are adult faces so much creepier than kid faces?




phew, there's a normal face.

A Profile of Rascal at Age 2:
We've never had a kid as loud and rambunctious.  He likes to just holler. On and on. Like one long, nonsensical, delighted holler. In the cave on the tour, at the restaurant, in the car, in the kitchen, wherever. Prolonged shout.

He likes pumpkin pie. "Pumkin pie? Pumkin pie?" he inquired, all weekend long.

He likes taking large piles of small toys and triumphantly dumping them out everywhere. He likes the big crash, the wounded expressions on our faces. This happens again and again, all day long.



He likes to hold Pokey's new Nerf gun like a guitar, and run all over the place banging into things.



I'd use a picture of us cuddling, but frankly these action shots capture him a little better.  So much shouting. We've never had a shouter before. Why so much shouting?

He likes to put my hair in my face, and then laughs again and I again as I ham it up, phbbbbbbbbt with my nose wrinkled, shaking my hair out of the way.  He's pretty fun.



Decadent kitty. Look at those ruffles. Soft fatso.

It's birthday week! Also ER week. Also cold, dirty kittens week, and going-away party week.

1. Ace woke us up on Thursday night, and climbed into bed us. She was wheezing and struggling to breathe. "Ace," I asked, "are you having trouble breathing?"
"YES!" she said, as though she knew something was wrong, but hadn't been able put her finger on it. She sat up.

So we packed up for the ER. As soon as she was upright and moving around, the intensity started to subside, so after the initial shock, I wasn't scared for her safety.

On the way to the ER, she had the most curious monologue:
"Princesses don't die when they get old."
"They don't?"
"No. They turn into fruit."

and

"I tricked you and didn't wear underwear to school," (that part is true), "and my bottom felt SO GOOD. My pants were so soft and comfy! Underwear hurts my bottom."

and

"Red, this, and green." (I had to clarify that a few times.)
"Tick tock, tick tock, it's forty pm!"

and

"We don't drink water in my family."
"We don't?"
"No, my other family. We don't drink water, we drink medicine."

and, while sitting on the potty:
"I don't know when I'm going to get my first purse, when I grow up."
Me: "Do you have to poop?"
"No, I'm just organizing my body. I think it's going to be a Frozen purse."

I had to turn on my phone to record the audio, her bon mots were coming so fast and furious. Otherwise I never could have retained all these.

They gave her some prednisone and said it was bronchiolitis, and sent us home by 6:45 am on Rascal's 2nd birthday.

2. Rascal is two! As previously noted, two is a tough birthday around these parts. On your second birthday:

  • you lose your pacifier. (We did this the night before, so that the worst screams would get out of the way.)

  • you have to wait until everyone is sitting at the table to start eating. (This one is easy, you just withhold his plate until everyone is sitting down.)

  • you have to eat your vegetables. (This was a doozy. He went to his crib several times. We showed him the cake and presents that were waiting. He chewed the green beans up and then spit them out. We watched Yo Gabba Gabba's Party in my Tummy. Somehow Brobee singing about the crying green beans did the trick. Rascal ate the pre-chewed green bean finally.)

  • you have to brush your teeth. (This one will mostly be fine, he generally likes brushing his teeth, except when he doesn't want to stop playing.)


It was a tough birthday. But after the green beans, we had delicious homemade cake and delicious homemade presents.

He was really proud of his HEB basket:



The labels are still amazing:



Can of corn included for scale.



Lactose free! Calorie counts! Ingredient lists! All so tiny.

E. Messily made him one hell of an adorable monster:



3. The next day, we had a going away party for E. Messily, who will be moving back to Montana next month.  It was not particularly sad and somber, because the move isn't that imminent. "See you tomorrow!" E. said cheerfully, hugging one of the guests goodbye. But our arrangement is coming to a close.

4. Pokey had his 6th birthday party:



"I'm six, and I earned 535 tickets. Well, I earned 185 and got 350 for being the birthday boy. This inflatable alien cost 500 tickets, and then I got these vampire teeth for 20 tickets, this tiny pirates' chest for ten tickets, and this ring."



"I ran around like a manic roomba for 90 minutes."



"I laid down on the picnic table bench and said, 'I'm going to take a nap before eating my pizza.' Then I threw up all over the place on the drive home."

Pokey's actual birthday is next Saturday.



Hawaii started puking in the morning, and continued all day, so did not attend the party. She felt pretty awful. She loved it when I pointed out how green her skin looked after throwing up, and repeated that to anybody who was nearby.

I was also sluggish all day, and my stomach hurt, but I didn't actually throw up.

5. I came home on Friday. The neighbor baby was out on the sidewalk, holding a dangling baby kitten by the neck, by his hands. I rushed over, "Hi Leelee! Let's put the kitty down! Put the kitty down! Where is your mama?" He released the kitten. We looked for mama, who was inside cooking, and who then discovered that baby Leelee can open doors and escape. I led him back inside.

All this is to say that they have two tiny, affectionate kittens who are often getting strangled, have gross weepy eyes, are pretty dirty and stinky, and who got kicked out of the house for peeing everywhere. Skinny and flea-riddled, but boy do they crave affection. They are too little to have been separated from their mom.



The neighbors left for the weekend. The kittens showed up on our porch. They were cold and hungry.  I took them back to their own house, fed them, and left them with a basket and a towel.

(I stopped to take a photo of this, in their front yard:



What is it with this town and machetes?!)

We messaged the neighbors to let them know that the kittens were loose. They said a sister was coming to stay there that night.

I went back at the end of the night to get our basket and towel, and the kittens were still out. "Who's there?" a woman asked, from inside the house.
"The neighbor," I answered meekly, "dropping off some cat food."
It was supposed to be around freezing temperatures overnight. We messaged the neighbor again, "It's supposed to freeze. Can you tell your sister to bring them in?"
She said she would. We went to bed.

I woke up around 3:30, thinking about the kittens. I figured I could just go peek from the street. I walked over. There were the two tiny, freezing, huddled kittens. GODDAMNIT. They're so skinny and sickly, gross eyes, fleas. Too young to be separated from their mother. I'm honestly not sure they could survive the night.

I packed them up, took them back to our house, and stuck them in the bathroom. The pooped on the towel. I'll be super annoyed if our cats get fleas from them.

They are so sweet and cuddly, and purr-y, though.

6. "There are two spyers," said Pokey.
"Spies," I corrected.
"Spy rolls," Pokey said.
"Spy rolls?" I repeated.
"SPY ROLLS," and he drew descending connected circles with his finger.
"Oh! Spirals! Go on."
"One is a mystery, and the other is a solution. The mystery one has only unwrapped a little bit, and the solution one is still wrapped up. In Harry Potter."
We started reading Harry Potter this month. We're having a good time with it.

Pokey has a Star Wars toothbrush that utters a Kylo Ren monologue for thirty seconds while you brush. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," the toothbrush says in his super-deep voice, as an opener. "You know why I've brought you here today."

I like to say in a low gravelly voice, "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," whenever the kids finally put their underwear on, or buckle their seat belts, or finally wrap up whatever excessively slow task they've been dragging their feet on. Say it with me: I think I'm hilarious.

7.  The kids won awards:



Hawaii won this for her poster on Yellowstone Park. (I failed to photograph the actual poster; I assume we'll see it again.) These days "poster" means "decorate the inside of a manila folder".  This is very convenient - it folds in half, fits in their back-pack, and is cheap.



Pokey won this for scariest pumpkin, except he hadn't entered the contest. We were confused, briefly thought about returning the award, and then lost all interest in the topic.

Hawaii also won a small glass milk bottle full of candy corn, for most closely guessing the number of candy corn inside it. So "candy corn" is its own plural, am I right? Or amirite.

8. Someone put this neo-Nazi poster up in our friend's bakery bathroom:



I told my parents about it. My mom was aghast, and said, "I hope they took it down, fast before anyone saw it! And didn't let anyone know!"
I said sternly, "Mom! No! They wrote a letter that went viral on Facebook and they're calling city council and protesting and making a big deal out of it!"
Mom quickly backpedalled and agreed that that was the courageous thing to do.

On Wednesday, I went to a big community meeting at Heebie U about the recent spike in racism. Mostly minority kids showed up, but the faculty and administration showed up in large numbers. The students were very fearful. One black administrator, Dr. B, gave them a stern, powerful lecture on finding their courage. "Know your history!" she admonished. "Why aren't you all signed up for Dr. M's Mexican-American History class? How are you going to find your strength if you don't know where you come from?" It was very powerful and could only have come from her. (Other solutions were proposed that rest on faculty and administration - it was not an empowerment-focused evening. But that was one of the highlights.)

Afterwards, I went up to tell Dr. B a race-related story about herself:
One day, Dr. B and I crossed paths and said hi, in passing. Just after that, a white man walked by her and said, "I like your hair!" She has very long braids. He wasn't being mean-spirited - probably? - but I tensed up, and my ears perked up to hear what she said back.
She said: "Thanks! I like your hair, too!"
I realized in that moment that she's pretty amazing and brilliant on this race stuff, and someone to admire.

So, I told her this story. And she told me some about her family - her parents were activists, she was raised to stand proud and face these issues head on.

Back to the neo-Nazi flier: It struck me that my mom's gut instinct - sweep it under the rug, downplay it, hide it - is an echo of how our family handled antisemitism throughout the last century. How very differently we handled antisemitism, compared to the Dr. B's family. We assimilated hard. We self-loathed hard.  We sold that family ancestry stuff down the river so fast that it skipped like a stone.

If only the past forty years hadn't been so relatively calm, I might have internalized more of the flinching, self-loathing reaction as well.  It's only in the absence of conflict, antisemitism mostly a theoretical point, that I've developed a sense of fight.

That's not quite right. I don't like to fight. But I think it's the courageous thing to do, whereas I think my grandparents felt that assimilating was a deeply right thing to do.

Of course, times have changed, and I am a white person in our society. The most serious immediate danger posed by that poster is not aimed at me. Maybe it's just easier to seize upon fighting over flighting when you don't feel like your hide is on the line. (But then again, Dr. B would probably have something to say about that.)

I finally settled on an answer for when my parents raise their eyebrows at our (extremely half-assed) gestures towards Passover and Rosh Hashanah and so on. "Regression to the mean" I now tell them, with a shrug. That makes them chuckle, but I basically mean it.

4 kittens

Must will be tired and weary.

Posted on 2016.11.13 at 22:26
Look what a normal week it's been:



Haha. Gentle posterity, I'm being ironic.

The shock can be blamed directly on the pollsters; the fear and anxiety can be blamed on Trump. These are two very different things. The pollsters' predictions were so abysmally wrong that I think they affected Clinton's campaign strategies into a self-propelling fake-out-prophecy. What I mean is: Clinton would have run a very different campaign if her team had thought it was a close race*. She ran a dismal campaign for a close race, but a reasonable campaign for a blowout - focus on increasing the landslide, not locking down the easy states.

*I know they seemed to realize in the last week that they were in danger of losing, so don't bust my chops over that.

What am I doing. I do not want to talk politics here.  Let me claw myself out of that spiral. (I am pretty obsessed with the clinically incompetent pollsters.)



'Tis the season of our apple-sized acorns. They pelt the house when the wind blows. They can really bean you, if you were to get hit.

The crazy and generous neighbors have taken in a mom and her four kids, ages 1, 2, and 4, 5. So now there are 12 kids  and 3 adults in the house next door. And two kittens and a bunny, but they're trying to get rid of the bunny. ("We think dad is allergic. Do you want the bunny? We don't want to just set it free, but if we can't find someone...") The house is three bedrooms, maybe 1300 square feet. They are seriously generous and kind, and also Trump supporters, according to their second eldest. (Who also said that they were friends with the Trumps, and that clowns killed a girl behind our house.) It's hard to wrap my head around it, but that's the theme of the week, so.

(We left Ace over there on Saturday evening by mistake. Friends came over, and our kids reappeared to play with their kids, and I hung out with the grown-ups. Some hours later, the second eldest neighbor kid rang the doorbell, Ace in tow. She'd been watching a movie, and when it ended, she discovered her brother and sister were gone. She was very upset. I was very upset. How could I forget my Ace? I'm still so upset that I debated not sharing the story, just to edit history. Obviously I edit history all the time here. I don't know why I am including this upsetting story. It's been a long, wearying week.)

Rascal will be two on Friday! Here is one thing we bought for him:



OMG SO CUTE.  Little groceries, little HEB brand indoctrination. Along with the little weiners and tortillas and milk, there's little nuggets, ice cream, pasta, canned beans, cereal, and little reusable shopping bag. It's really the HEB branding that I'm finding so adorable. It is all identical to the stuff cluttering up our pantry.

Pokey was born in 2010, and Rascal was born in 2014, both in late November. Thus Pokey will miss voting in the 2028 presidential election by just a few weeks, and Rascal will miss voting in the presidential election of 2032 by just a few weeks.  Sorry guys, that must be frustrating! (Must will be frustrating. Will must be frustrating. I guess there's no future tense of 'to must'. Will be must word soup.)

Unrelated to that, Hawaii spontaneously announced, "Mom, when I turn eighteen, I won't be like Bye, see ya! I'm outta here!"
"That's nice," I said.
"I'll wait a few days to pack up my things, and then I'll move out."
Okay then!



Jury duty is over for Jammies. They sentenced the guy on election day. It was a molestation case of an uncle on his mentally disabled 14 year old niece. The case was not as awful as it could have been - the girls did not appear to be traumatized from it, at least by the time of the trial? Terrible but not excruciating? Is that itself an awful thing to say about such a situation?

The other thing that eased things considerably is that the jury members were all more-or-less in agreement. No one went all vigilante on them. Still, it took seven workdays in all.

Isn't this a good approximation of normality? Way to go, Heebie!  Heebieville has been ground zero for some of the racist fallout - on Wednesday, the lede of a New York Times article was:

The fliers depicting men in camouflage, wielding guns and an American flag, appeared in men’s restrooms throughout Texas State University: “Now that our man Trump is elected,” they said. “Time to organize tar and feather vigilante squads and go arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off that diversity garbage.”
There was a big protest the next day - 13 hours long.

Heebie U is tense, too. A letter went out on Friday afternoon, sharply bringing the campus to task for the spike in hate speech, although no specific incident was singled out.



Doesn't it look like spooky ghosts are watching over Ace and Rascal? (I love Ace's expression.) Also, they're only pretending to play.  They're pretending to kill Jurassic Park dinosaurs:



Here is a thing I like to do: sing out grandly, "My liiiiiiiiiposuction ittttttches!" Because it does. And I think I'm funny.

At my follow-up appointment, I asked how much fat they'd sucked out. The nurse looked it up. "About 800 cc," she said. "We put in 40 cc on your left side, and 56 cc onto your right side."   She said that was a significant amount of liposuction - I was very fibrous, so they had to spin it way down to get the good stuff for the fat grafting.  How nice for me. (I don't think it shows, but my waistbands are a touch looser.)



Let's assume next week will be better.  

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