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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.


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?


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."


"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."


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


"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.  

4 kittens

Punched by the sun.

Posted on 2016.11.06 at 20:48

The biggest weenie is this one:

who never did put his costume on. Here's Ace, being a good sport:

Mahna-mahna. E. Messily's skills were widely, rightly applauded on Facebook.

Ace did not want to trick-or-treat. She just wanted to sit in the wagon. We told her she wouldn't get any candy, and she said that she didn't care. So she did and she didn't.

If you'll recall, she decided not to hunt for Easter eggs, last spring. We warned her then that she wouldn't get any candy.  She didn't care. There was never a tantrum when she saw everyone else eating candy. So we weren't concerned about Halloween. There's something sort of spunky and admirable about how steadily she knows herself.

Rascal loved trick-or-treating. He went to every house, at his moseying pace. I fed him a steady stream of candy the whole time.


Jammies got picked for jury duty on Monday. All week long he has been at the court room. This is a big year for the Geebies being impanelled. They're not done yet, either - he has to report for his sixth day of duty, tomorrow.


I was goading Hawaii with the soccer ball, trying to trap her in a losing situation. She was indecisive. Then she grabbed her eye and said, "OW OW OW!!"
I said (maybe a touch skeptically), "What happened? Are you ok?"
Hawaii said, "The sun got in my eye. It was really hard."
Oh Hawaii. Nothing like being punched by the sun in the eye.


We went camping at a deserted campground.

It is (apparently) the last remaining confederate campground. So you get some gross stuff like this:

That's a tiny rebel flag, on the right.  My friend said, "This is where you should go if you're running from the law, because once you're in, you'll never see anyone who works there. They just leave you alone." That seemed accurate. It's that Don't Tread on Me libertarian bent of Texans.

For some reason it had this mini-prison-industrial complex, right in the middle:

Anyone up for lunch at the picnic tables on the cement basketball court behind barbed wire?

A bug flew into Jammies' ear while we were sitting around the campfire. "Hon," he said, incredibly calmly, "would you mind shining a flashlight in my ear and seeing if you can see anything in there?" I couldn't.

He could feel it buzzing around.  It was surreal. We googled "getting a bug out of your ear" and got advice of varied helpfulness.

This is his quiet alert face, mid-bug-eared. He was amazingly composed and calm.

Just when we were fixing to flood the bug out with saline solution, Jammies managed to coax it out by tugging on the ear. Something fleeting and moth-like zipped away into the darkness. I'd been worried it was going to get stuck in his earwax. I was picturing the La Brea tar pits.


"Mom! Mom! Take a photo of when I look teepy."

I look so teepy!

Pokey, tuckered out:

Post-rave.  I guess you can have your egg back.


I missed the kids' last soccer game (and their trophies) on Saturday; I went to UT for a one day symposium. Being at your graduate school is sort of like being back at your parents' house - you're flooded with nostalgia and old grievances, in equal measure.

Afterwards I had stilted conversation with my advisor and his wife. You'd think after fifteen years we could figure out how to maintain a conversation.


Ace said, "Daddy's a jerk. I wish he lived with a different family."
I said, "Actually, I'm quite fond of daddy and would like him to stay here."
Ace rolled her eyes and scoffed. "I mean when he's old enough to leave, Mom." Gawd.

(I've gotten a different understanding of what "scoff" means after reading subtitles and captions for the past year. I used to think that 'scoff' specifically meant a limited kind of huff-laugh, but the caption-providers use it for a much wider variety of sarcastic sounds than I realized.)

Ace said something similar to E. Messily: "I wish I lived with you!"
E. Messily said, "You do live with me!"
Ace said, "I mean at your house." I think E. Messily batted that one around for a while longer.


The neighbors are gone pretty much every weekend. The dynamic has settled down dramatically differently than it seemed like it would.

The election is drawing to a close. Will Trump supporters kill and eat us all when they lose? Will the local mayoral race end in a run-off? Only time will tell!

I do not own a pantsuit, but I did go by Goodwill just to buy a blazer that will do in a pinch. Tuesday is National Pantsuit Day, and I love a good reason to put together an outfit.

Gobble-gobble. I really love Pokey's disco turkey.

4 kittens

Dremelling and labelling.

Posted on 2016.10.30 at 22:50
"I keep some of my toys in the minivan, in case our house burns down," says Pokey.

We've had several discussions about fires and natural disasters.  I tell him that our house absolutely, 100% will not burn down, because I feel like natural disasters and crimes and illnesses are a thing parents should sometimes just lie to their kids about.

I just want him to have the illusion of safety as a baseline, so that later when he discovers it's all a lie, a corner of his brain that feels safe. He generally doesn't believe me.

"Can an animal have fangs on both the top and bottom jaws?"  I don't know!
"Is a moose faster or an elk?" I don't know!
(E. Messily helpfully interjected that moose are called "elk" in Europe.)

Pokey and I went on an adventure, in which we found this patch of flowers swarming with monarch butterflies and bees. It was very pretty.


When I was twelve, my grandmother, my mom's cousin, and my second-cousin took a trip to Mexico together. We stayed with some distant relative, a relatively wealthy expat in a fancy sort of compound - several disjoint buildings on a big lot. I have no idea where we were - a little village that seemed interior to the country. Mid-southish.

I remember the finicky plumbing, the bottle of water in the bathroom for brushing teeth, getting orange soda poured into a plastic bag with a straw, so that the glass bottle could be re-used.

The distant Mexican cousin's daughter attended a local girl's school, who happened to have a girl's expo soccer game - sort of a novelty powderpuff game - while we were in town. I was invited or allowed to play. I was so excited - I was great out there! I could dribble and score! But I got winded within ten seconds, and could only sort of participate. We all agreed to blame the altitude (but versions of this - where I'm ostensibly in shape but pathetically winded - have dogged me my whole life.)

 I vividly remember the photos I took - I thought I was taking beautiful portraits, like one of a giant lot of succulents - but they all turned out pretty shitty and my mom asked me if the camera had been taking photos accidentally.

I wrote all that out above, preparing to talk about the mimosa pudica plant I saw there, the sensitive plant that closes in response to touch.

 Except I just now realized that I didn't see the touchy plants in Mexico when I was twelve, I saw them in Costa Rica when I was sixteen. OH WELL.  A different time, I'll tell you about Costa Rica. My brother got me super drunk playing Asshole and I puked all over his shoes.

The point is that I was in Latin America, young, and smitten with those touchy plants. So exotic and amazing! Just touch them!  Then I got back to Gainesville and spotted them at the high school field, all over the place, and realized we had them at home, too. Rampant, and I'd just never known.

On Tuesday, I was walking across the field behind the Catholic church, to my P&Z meeting, and I looked down, and:

they're here too! hooray.


Hawaii asked Jammies, "When do I go that school where you live someplace else?"
Jammies said, "Boarding school?"
Hawaii said, "Yes!"
Jammies said, "You don't. Eventually you get to go to college." Hawaii really wants to go to boarding school, it turns out.

I am pretty sure that this is because she wants unlimited access to candy.

Here is how well I know Hawaii:
Hawaii was brushing her teeth, and said, "Oh! I picked out the wrong shirt for tomorrow! I wanted to wear something with pockets. Can I go change?"
I said, "Did you want to wear pockets so that you can smuggle candy into art class?"
and her jaw dropped. I swear I just guessed, based on the fact that she needed pockets on a Friday.

That said, she really doesn't gorge when given the chance. I was equally obsessive about candy as a kid, but tended to gorge myself silly if possible.


A girl and her label-maker.  She also printed out each kid's name, and labelled the sides of the bathroom according to who was allowed to be on her side, and who ought to stay far, far away. However, she affixed those directly to the mirror and Jammies removed them before I took a photo.

"Lost-minded Kids
Yesterday, me and my brothers and sisters played lost-minded kids. Rascal was Gashen, Ace was Aleesha, Pokey was I-yi-yi, and I was nobody. Because we were lost-minded, we all had crazy talents. Rascal was running away, Ace's was screaming, Pokey's was pulling down people by their arm, and mine was hanging on to people and never letting go. It was great fun!"
Those are pretty good talents.


I was giving Pokey and Hawaii little math problems, to pass the time. Hawaii's were of the form: "You start with a mystery number. Then you subtract seven, double it, and you have ten. What mystery number did you start with?"

She said, "Hang on, I need to write this down." She got a pencil and paper, and wrote it down as an equation, using ? for the mystery number. I was so proud of her for doing so. My heart swelled.


Rascal sings, a lot. Mostly Twinkle Twinkle/ABCs.

Rascal likes to point out every car and truck that we drive by. Each one is super exciting. "A cah! A cah! Anough cah! A white cah! A boo tuck!" (a car, a car, another car, a white car, a blue truck, etc.)

He's fairly verbal now, but still loves labelling things. (Not like Hawaii.) "A pumpkin! Anough pumpkin! Anough pumpkin!" Round and round the table, labelling the same four pumpkins. "Mah pumpkin! Wiiyys pumpkin! Mahl pumpkin! Ray pumpkin!" Round and round.


E. Messily conceived and executed the most amazing costumes for Rascal, Jammies, and I, but Rascal won't put his on:

Doo-doo, do do doo! Mahna mahna. This is the best we could do:

We'll try again tomorrow, on Actual Halloween.


Exactly one year ago, it flooded. This year, we waited until the last second to carve the pumpkins, to cut down on the instant rotting.



Every time Jammies drilled a hole, Rascal yelped, "OW!"
After a few holes, Hawaii and joined in, yelping "OW!" This is not the kind of joke Jammies likes, but he tolerated us.

Sticker-affixing. (Her choice.)

More de-gooping.

I wouldn't fuss if it were ten degrees colder. I'm ready to wear a sweater.

Here's the final glory:

(Cat by Pokey, angry face by Hawaii.)


I didn't carve a pumpkin, but I did purchase this:

It is from the 1930s, and it is exquisite, and I am enamored. Look at the twiggy detail:

Side view twiggy harlequins:



Right now we are in a plague of flies. The plague of moths has receded, as has the plague of cockroaches. But we all know this is cyclical.

happy Halloweekend.

4 kittens

A metronome for a fucking heart

Posted on 2016.10.23 at 21:36
I did it, I fasted for four days! so I get a Fasting Badge embroidered on my sash, and I'm really excited about that, plus the Fasting ceremony (with the empty refreshments table). Everyone loves hearing details about your fast; it's like a diet but extra smug and virtuous.

Mostly time passed super slowly. (Shoulda been called a SLOW! amirite) Fasting was boring and interminable. Eventually, though, it was Wednesday and I found myself getting hooked up to the IV drip and getting wheeled into surgery.

I was very sore the next day, at the liposuction sites. "We'll take the fat out of your flanks," Dr. C said, to describe the location. "First we remove the fat. Then we spin it and separate it out. While it's spinning, we do the scar revision. Then at the end, we inject the fat into the dents and bony areas."

I asked if it would take the full 3.5 hours.
"It depends on how fibrous your fat is," said Dr. C. "If you've got very fibrous fat, we have to remove more, and it takes longer to separate." I went online and looked up fibrous fat, but there is no known predictors for whose got what fat.

It turns out I do have very fibrous fat. So now I know. I doubt anyone else can see the difference, but my pants fit a touch more comfortably, so that's nice.

I don't have any bruising whatsoever, though. Or: faint little purplish outlines, of the boundary of the suction, but basically nothing. Must be because of the fasting. Who cares, Heebie, shut up about your willpower.

They glued two foam bricks to my chest:

I was appalled. First because it looked like two foam bricks, under my clothes. E. Messily helped me hack them into some semblance of brick-shaped sports-bra-constrained breasts.

But then each day they grew increasingly itchy until I was scratching my eyeballs out. "Two weeks," they said. "The foam is glued on with magic glue, and if you try to remove them, you'll tear the skin. We'll remove it with special solvent at your two week appointment."

I did not want to tear my skin, I did not want to wait two weeks, I did not know what to do. I took a shower and worked on the edges, and gradually pealed the damn things off and threw them away.


Now I look like this:

ie, I put on a binder thing in case the foam was actually providing some pressure or something.


I wanted to intersperse photos of the California house - Susie's, not Sharon's - from the 1961 parent trap.

but all the photos I found were from a few, very thorough, blog posts on the house, which made my impulse feel derivative.

I'm still going to do it, but with a more downcast acknowledgment of debt and solemn gratitude than I expected. I mean, I'm just repurposing their photos.


Post-surgery, Hawaii was also home with me, due to a fever. We made a special lunch together. She had a very specific recipe for fruit salad in mind, requiring a dedicated trip to HEB. Unsurprisingly, Hawaii is a methodical and fastidious chef.

She was very concerned about proportions of fruit, and showed great restraint with the blueberries and strawberries.

Lunch of champions.

Here is Hawaii's current favorite joke:
Once there was a lady who named her dog 'Latest Fashion'. One day, the dog ran away. The woman was in the shower. She was so upset when she realized he was gone that she ran outside that very moment, completely naked, and yelled, "Latest Fashion! Latest Fashion!"  Everyone looked outside and saw her, completely naked, and they were like, "Oh! Being naked is the latest fashion!!" So they all took off all their clothes, too! Then everyone was naked and everyone thought it was the latest fashion.

At the Railyard on Friday night, Ace ran up to our picnic table, sobbing. I opened my arms and swept her into my foamy, matronly embrace. She couldn't speak, she was sobbing so hard.

Finally she gasped and said, "They wouldn't let me be the BOSS of them!!" We adults were all delighted, of course, with such a relatable source of frustration. We tried to get more details - "Did they want to be the boss?" - but she was sobbing too hard to answer.

Finally Ace said, "They don't even HAVE a boss!" Complete anarchy.  She added, "I wanted to be the only boss, and have them come to my office."

Just behold that open courtyard.

When we got home, Ace said, "When it was Christmas, we had rainbow lights on the porch. But now we have yellow lights." She is correct, and I'm impressed that she remembers that.

Jammies posted to Facebook:

I'm going to start grooming Hawaii and Pokey to start a Piano/Drums duo. Yesterday I got after both of them after soccer practice for fucking around too much and basically ruining the entire practice for constantly requiring either of the coaches (one of them being me) to calm them down and try and focus them. A couple minutes later Hawaii started asking me if there were any rooms in our house that she could lock herself into without any mirrors. When asked why, she was mumbling about not wanting to look at her self in mirrors any more. She was very pouty and self-pitty-ish about the whole thing. It was quite a site. This morning, while listing to Google Music's "Pop-Punk Anthems" radio station (cause that's how I do) I contemplated that maybe it was time to feed these angsty teenage feeling of my SEVEN year old. Then I thought how much fun it would be to start a band with her as the lead singer and play drums. But that sounded ridiculous. So like any good parent I said to myself I'll teach Pokey to play drums so I can push them to live out my dreams. Fuck their dreams the little ungrateful shits. It will be great. Their music will be moderately commercially successful but panned by critics everywhere for being crap. But what they'll really be known for: the fights. The epic fights. They will put the fucking Oasis brothers to shame. To shame. I can just see it now. In the middle of a concert Hawaii will look back at Pokey with that look she gives him when he's misses a beat or is off tempo, cause Hawaii was born with a metronome for a fucking heart and can always tell. Pokey will see that look, become enraged with anger, and spout some nonsensical swear words at her with his squeal before throwing his sticks at her. She'll duck and yell back at him and pretty soon he will be attempting to decapitate her with a cymbal. I, their dad-manager, will be sitting off stage finishing my 13th Coors Light of the day yelling at them to stop ruining my life!

That'll teach 'em not to fuck off at soccer practice.

Oh, and if you have any good ideas for band names let me know. The winner will get a 1/2 point on their first CD sales whenever it comes out.

He did not really call them Hawaii and Pokey, of course.

I read Jammies' rant like four different times on Tuesday, it made me laugh so hard. A metronome for a fucking heart, that's right. It's true.

4 kittens

Cut on a lathe

Posted on 2016.10.16 at 22:08
Hawaii and Pokey

The elementary school was closed on Monday for Columbus Day. They've never taken Columbus Day off before. It seems like the wrong direction for a school to move. C'mon, admin, here we are trying to delegitimize Columbus's accomplishments. Throw us a bone.

The big kids decorated tiny wooden peg dolls with E. Messily on their day off. I think Pokey colored those two?

This one seems more like it would have been by E. Messily, what with the tiny velvet vest. I don't actually know, though.

Lovely Ladies cut from a Lathe.


I was scrolling through Facebook and a (liberal) friend* shared a Trump meme, of the sort "this is circulating in alt-right Trump circles, be horrified."  It was a picture of a little blond girl, with a conical pile of ashes in her hand, and she was blowing the pile into the wind.  It read "Goodbye, Jews".

Hawaii and Pokey popped up on the couch next to me. "What's that?" they asked, "Goodbye, Jews? Why does it say that? What's that mean?" I was caught off guard, and it took some stammering before I committed to giving them the real answer.

The stammering and hemming and hawing was uncharacteristic enough for me that their eyes got wide and they took me very seriously.  That was nice - it meant that I could get across the gravity without scaring the pants off them with the details.

So now they know about genocide. Good times.

*now that I think about it, maybe it was Delagar! No harm, no foul, D. Just some conversations.


Jammies found Hawaii in the hallway, trembling. She said, "I read the whole thing. I know clowns are real," and showed him this:

which she'd torn out of my magazine. So Jammies had a conversation about clowns and mass hysteria and historical context.

So now they know about clowns, too. Good times.

The whole town gathered around a quarter, for scale:


has elaborate games of school:

"Mom, can I pull the trash can over here? This label maker makes so much trash, and I have a lot to get done here."

Sure sweetie, whatcha making?

"Oh, I've got about twenty of these report cards to get through."

That's student name/teacher name on the first row, and then places to record their behavior grade, academic grade, and any additional comments Ms. Hawaii needs to record.

In addition, Hawaii

makes quilts with E. Messily:

"Mom, it's not a QUILT. I know what a quilt is. This is a BLANKET."

That cellophane, from the depths of E. Messily's bag of crafts, is some fancy sewing stuff to allow you to hold layers together while you sew it in place. You just sew right through the cellophane. Then you soak it:

and the cellophane dissolves, voila.

The final not-quilt-gawd-mom:

I would love to frame this and hang it on the wall, but I probably have to wait a few years while it gets played with and loved.

Pokey and Rascal

Pokey and Hawaii's piano books have occasional duet lines for the instructor. Pokey currently loves playing duets with me. I started to fantasize about acquiring a book of duets and learning them together with Pokey.  That would be so much fun.

I have to play this very carefully to stoke his enthusiasm for playing duets with me. Careful, Heebie. Young pianists are skittish and cranky. Don't scare him off.

I had Fall Break this past Thursday and Friday. It was lovely. On Friday, I went to the elementary school and had lunch with Pokey, in the cafeteria, with about two hundred kindergartners and third graders:

Of course the trays are styrofoam and disposable. Why? Is that something that other parts of the country do differently? This isn't something people have an opinion on, is it?

The pizza was weirdly yeasty, but fine. There were lots of fruit and vegetable options. Pokey's choices:

Pokey is totally wild for that perennial institutional jello with peeled fruit innards glop.

Hawaii wants me to wait to join her for lunch until I can attend on a cheese sticks day.


Ace and I made up a good song about Ace's tongue, and how it keeps trying to escape her mouth to have adventures. She has to close her teeth to trap it, because there are streets.

Streets are not safe for tongues.

Ace, love your cape. How can we get it to fly behind you if there's no wind?

"MOM! Did you get the photo? Lemme see."

E. Messily, not Ace, is the one who made this dress, but Ace is the one who loves it most:


Rascal loves trains maybe more than any other of our kids. He hears them in the background and says, "cookie! cookie!" which is somehow how he remembers "choo choo!" It's pretty cute.

I hope the neighbor doesn't hypothetically mind me secretly posting a picture of her kid, because I love this photo and think he's very sweet with Rascal.

I wonder if Rascal loves trains more than the rest because the trains don't blow their horns anymore. The horn blast sort of terrorized each kid as a baby. Years ago our neighborhood was designated a quiet zone, but it took a long time for them to update the safety features at every train crossing.

Finally last year, at some point, the trains stopped blowing their horns. I didn't notice, I haven't heard the train horn for years and years.

Rascal loves this terrible book. I am just observing here that some of the animals are animals, and some of the animals are proto-humans.  That's not unusual for a kid's book.

I just think it's funny that the animal-mouse is in such close proximity to the human-mouse:

 Is the animal-mouse embarrassed of his nakedness? Is the person-mouse prone to anthropomorphizing the animal-mouse?


Our neighbors, with the 8 kids, have significantly changed the dynamic of our household. Sometimes there is just a continous stream of kids in and out of the houses. Sometimes our kids disappear for hours. It's so wholesome. (Other times, they're gone for the weekend. It's on and off.)

When I poke my head in their house to retrieve the kids, the house is super dark. The kids are all lounging on blankets on the floor, and blankets are hanging up over the window, and the dad is stretched out on the couch, with more blankets and a kid or two. Usually they're watching a movie. (One time Hawaii watched part of The Walking Dead with them and it scared her silly. But seriously, who watches Walking Dead with little kids?!) All the floors are white tile, and the decorating scheme is tile and dark blankets. (It's sort of depressing. I feel bad saying that, though.)

One time I went to fetch them, and Pokey and Hawaii were each clutching a few dollars, which they'd allegedly won playing Mexican Bingo. I tried to give the money back, and the mom intervened that Pokey and Hawaii had won fair and square, and I didn't really know how to handle the situation. (We have however hypothesized that they are not quite a poor as you'd infer from having eight kids in a tiny house with no visible income. They seem to have a support structure and connections, and regularly return to Houston.)

The mother is usually puttering around in the background, although she's more likely to come outside and play with them, and chat with us.

Here's how the neighbors have changed me: I needed a demonstration of what a household might be like with eight kids to understand how it works. I still sort of don't get it, but at least I've seen it now. It recalibrates my opinion of our family - we're now the calm, empty household with excess space and resources.

Here's what the cats made:

From their love of running vertically up walls, door frames, and poles, they've done a real number on this support beam.

Here's what Texas made:

I don't know, that's just so Texas.

I'm fasting for three days, in advance of my surgery on Wednesday. It's an actual thing with legitimate science backing it up, but it just sounds so damn hocus-pocus that I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm doing it. Supposedly it improves your response to surgery and shortens your healing time. I swear, real scientists are studying this stuff. They have a lot of problems with compliance, which makes it hard to study.

I got the idea from my uncle, who fasted for much of his chemo rounds, and encouraged me to fast before my surgeries last year, but I didn't bother to do so for the hysterectomy, and then I  was too stressed out by the mastectomy itself to undertake anything additional. But this time I thought I'd give it a go.

These two posts showed up consecutively in my Facebook feed, and I laughed for a while about the similarity of the diagrams.

The uncle said that he doesn't get exactly hungry, but he kind of gets bored and misses eating.   That is how I've felt today. I had about 80 calories of Lipton soup for dinner, and that was it for the day. I'm not exactly hungry, but I miss how eating structures your day and tastes good.

4 kittens

Pleasant and crisp, not so gross

Posted on 2016.10.09 at 23:00
This week has been calm-ish, quiet-ish, which means that I have to blame myself for my lukewarm zest for life and general sourness. The weather has been pleasant and crisp. Still warm, but not so gross.


Hawaii learned how to ride a bike! Just think, six months ago our kids were unable to ride bikes, swim, or tie their shoes. Now half of them can do 2/3 of those tasks. Here we come, world, with our velcro.

She and Pokey rode around for hours. They both fell and ate it, several times, and got back up and did it again. Take that, velcro!  I was not there, I stayed at home with Rascal and we played in the pit, in pretty natural light, and I felt a momentarily calmer and more relaxed than I had otherwise been feeling.


What is the first item I should buy at HEB?

If you said Green Grapes, you're a Jammies-whisperer. If you said apron serapes, you're more like me.

Rascal sat in an ant pile, while hypnotized by a train:

and from the back:

He does not seem to care, though.


On Wednesday I met with the plastic surgeon’s assistant. My surgery is in two weeks. It sounds unpleasant. It is three and a half hours long, which is longer than I realized. The surgeon is an artiste, and must sculpt the fat exactly so. Afterwards it shouldn't hurt very much, but I have to sleep on my back for six weeks. I'm very worried about that part. (Want to hear about my stupid neck pain? It's so much better than last spring, but it still flares up every single night. About six hours of sleep, and I start waking up. There is no good position. It loosens up during the day, which is why it's better than it used to be - it didn't used to improve during the day. But sleeping is a mess, and I'm worried.)

I'm not supposed to lift more than ten pounds for a few weeks, and I'm worried and anxious about feeling disconnected from Rascal.

This surgeon hyperventilates about lots of stupid shit, too. On the front page of my instructions, "Please decrease caffeine intake and stop alcohol for one week before and after surgery." Oh fuck you.

Here is the full list of prohibited items:

No fish oil for you! No chamomile tea for a week, you craven monster.  (So different than the hysterectomy surgeon, who failed to even mention that I should take stool softeners or wash with soap from the neck down.)(The mastectomy surgeon was in between the two.)

Anyway, the nurse told me to stop taking my hormone replacements for the week ahead, and I said, "But it's not extra estrogen. It's getting me to a normal amount of estrogen." She said not to. I said, "I really do not want acute menopausal symptoms right before surgery!"  She said, "better safe than sorry!" I have zero intention of stopping my beloved hormone replacement therapy, so whatever.

Then I wear a girdle for three weeks. They said Spanx is okay. This is for the fat donor site, which is my luuuuv handles, which will not be noticeably different. Also I'm supposed to avoid the sun and the heat, which can make the fat swell.

After being under general anesthesia for 3.5 hours, I get sent home. That seems weird and abrupt, but fine.  They said I'll have full range of motion in my arms, unlike the mastectomy, and that it really shouldn't hurt much. The donor site will be bruised and sore. It's all about not jostling the little fat bits while they nestle in their new home.


The big kids made neat things. E. Messily guided Hawaii through making this doll dress:

Pokey and I made this spider web gun thing:

Go to sleep, Heebie, and hopefully you will feel less tense and pissed in the morning. Morning is wiser than night,  my grandfather supposedly used to say.

4 kittens

El en of ex.

Posted on 2016.10.03 at 20:48
September is dead! Long live October! September can die a fiery death.  I hate that stupid month.

Jammies extended his trip by one day, in order to stop in Denver and meet his sister's new baby. The baby is now two weeks old.  When the baby was only three or four days old, his bilirubin count went up, and he began having seizures. They went back to the hospital.

It turned out to be a virus - parechovirus - that got in his little baby brain. By the time Jammies got there, he was mostly off oxygen and generally doing better, so it can get filed away as a very scary incident. But: very scary. (It is possible there could be longterm damage, but they won't know for a while.)

How was the extra day that Jammies was out of town?  Not great!

Sunday night, around 3 am, E. Messily woke me up to go to the ER. She was having unusually severe back spasms - when laying flat on her back, her legs would fling vertically up - and some weird bladder symptoms.  (She's okay.) The next day it quasi-flooded, but did not get up to our house.

(Taking photos every 15 minutes to determine the pace of the water rising.)  (Our neighbor's house took on some water, just from street run-off. I worry about them, a bit.) Later my AC stopped working in the car.

Nobody had lice, nobody puked, nobody broke their arm.   One glass got shattered into a zillion pieces:

which seemed briefly devastating.

Jammies got home. The house returned to some semblance of order.


I took Rascal and Ace block-walking for a local election on Saturday. Not the councilmember for whom I'm treasuring; a newbie who is on P&Z with me but running for council. Block-walking is the worst!

Ace is holding Mr. Cheeserock, her new buddy, from someone's landscaping.  Some of the people wouldn't open their door more than a few inches for me.

One month of block-walking and then an election. (How is the election going? Future readers: I have not mentioned the terrifying undercurrent due all of us who dare to merely exist during this election season, but for posterity's sake, this captures my perspective:

This election is like if your friends pick dinner and 3 vote pizza and 2 vote "kill and eat you". Even if pizza wins, there's a big problem.

Constantly, this is how I feel. It is stressful. This country is susceptible to fascist conmen, in a way I didn't quite believe this until this cycle.)

I don't know why this tickled me. They're right, that is in fact how you read ln x outloud. It just looks so spanish. El en, el señor de logoritmos naturales.


Here is a joke from Ace:
"Do you know what chewed up tortilla is?"
"No, what?"
"CHICKEN!" with mouth wide open, to show the chewed up tortilla. I guess this is see-food for post-millenials.


At xfit, we had a day recently where the last thing we did was just to bust out your best time time for a mile. I felt crisp and nimble as I paddled out there. My gait is long, my stride has pace! But my time was 10:30. How terribly slow.


Mum season, finally.


We watched some terrible TV show that Hawaii knew from school. ("Hawaii, how exactly do you know this show?"
"Watching it on the ipads at school during ipad time," she answered. It was unclear if the teacher failed to realize the kids were watching TV shows on the school ipads, or if the teacher just didn't care.)

Anyway: in the show, the main character can talk to unicorns. The main character meets some new friends. The new friends ask, "What's your unicorn's name?"
The main character answers, "Her name is Lydia."
The supporting characters gasp and ask "How did you know that???" and the main character reveals that, ayup, she can talk with unicorns.

I'm mortally offended by this dialogue. People ask one another what the name of their pets are, all the time! Knowing your pet's name doesn't mean you're pet-lingual. It means you named them.


Hawaii reminded Pokey how much he liked wearing dresses when he was little. She did it in a mischievious, leading way, and I lit into her not to make fun of him. Then Pokey decided he'd like to wear dresses again. He and Hawaii went into her closet and fetched him a dress, and a separate silver sparkly tiered skirt to wear under it. He was pretty excited to put it on.

I was more nervous today than I was when he was in preschool - what if one of the adults was an ass? But he seemed content at the end of the day. Good.

For Rosh Hashana last night, we joined up with another family to throw some bread in the water and eat some apples and honey.  A new year sounds good to me; I'm pretty done with this one.

4 kittens
Posted on 2016.10.02 at 21:34
Livejournal is having all kinds of problems. Entry is written! I'll try again tomorrow.

4 kittens


Posted on 2016.09.25 at 22:13
Jammies has been out of town this week. He gets back tomorrow.

This week has been the type of week where you look up and see that there are nine children in your house, under your care. We've been playing with the neighbors a lot. I took seven children to a Mexican cultural heritage festival yesterday. There were traditional ballet folklorico performances, arts and crafts for the kids - pinatas to paper mache and fill with Mexican candy, some sort of foil medallion creation that probably has a technical name, volcanoes.  There was free tamales, tacquitos, nachos, hot dogs, watermelon juice, and pineapple juice. I think my crew of seven ate most of the food.

When we arrived, the opening ceremony was wrapping up. I got a photo with Lloyd Doggett, which was pretty cool. Also our mayor and two councilmembers, one of whom is the one I'm the treasurer for, for her reelection campaign. Lloyd Doggett is a big reason that they gerrymandered Texas about 15 years ago, before it was the cool thing for all the shithead states to do.  He used to represent Austin. Now his district is this:

I thought about Mexican heritage and how it's generally considered a good thing when a young kid decides that they want to learn more about their roots. About how, if you had a generation or two which no longer spoke Spanish, and one of the kids decided to learn, and learn some dancing and how to cook tamales and so on, we'd celebrate it. (Who is 'we' in that sentence? Soccer moms? I don't know.)  This was all a thinly veiled attempt to look at myself through the wrong end of the telescope. Wouldn't it be a shame to let thousands of years of tradition lapse, because the anti-semitism wore away at one or two generations in a row?

Those watermelon lollipops - Rebanaditas - are my favorite. They're covered in chili powder, and they're salty and sour and sweet. They don't taste anything like watermelon, though

Anyway, having eight kids next door changes the dynamic of the household rhythm dramatically. I like that Pokey and Hawaii constantly want to bolt outside and run around. I like the neighbor kids - they're sweet and kind, generally. Usually the oldest five of them come over to play. Sometimes it's calm and you think, "Isn't it amazing that this many kids is basically calm?!" but even when it's calm, it's a pretty big mess.

I don't like the excessive amounts of junk food. On Wednesday, E. Messily cooked us a lovely jambalaya and homemade cornbread. The kids all nibbled and grumped and finally said they were full. Then they went and ate corndogs at the neighbor's house. (The insult was particularly poetic since they had literally been served sausage and cornbread, just not on a stick.) There is just constant free-flowing Starbursts and spoonfuls of Nutella and HotPockets and frozen pizza and on and on and on. I mean, we have all that stuff too, but, but, but.  It seems beyond my control.

Anyway. I'm behind in patience, grading, sleep, and the entire house is sticky and disheveled.

4 kittens

Hamburger Jaw Action

Posted on 2016.09.18 at 23:07
The Mermaid Society Ball was magical.  Here is what we wore:

Jammies had bubble juice for his pipe, but he kept accidentally tipping the soap back into his mouth. I had swanky tentacle earrings and borrowed E. Messily's octopus bracelet. (I wore the exact same bracelet at my wedding, but can't find it.)

The ball sold out, 450 tickets in all. Attendees donned formal gowns with seaside accessories. Some menfolk wore tuxedo tops with swimming trunks, others dressed in all white linen.  Somehow there was widespread understanding that you ought to dress fancy and silly, both. It was heavenly.

The mermaid tank:

(See if you can spot the violence inherent in the system.) Mermaids, lacking feet, must be carried over by a few men from whatever backstage dressing area exists. It was awkward and clumpy. For most of the night, there were multiple maids in the tank.

There were also six or seven elderly aquamaids, originals from back in the day, who were proclaimed to be the first Royal Mermaid Court and given sashes and tiaras.

The aerial ballet dancer:

The band played honky tonk two-step music, which is the way you get people on the dance floor, and Jammies and I did cut a small rug. Honestly, honky tonk music clashes a bit with the Shangri La Twas Xanadu vibe of the rest of it, but it sure does reflect the contradictions of this town.

(This was when we first arrived, as the sun set, before it filled up.) I told Jammies that, in 30 years, we'll be able say we've attended all 30 single mermaid society balls.


I walked in Rascal's classroom at the end of the day. He ran over and I picked him up. We chatted about the farm animals he was holding, and then I said, "Okay, go put these back in the barn!" and set him down on the floor, and he complied.

The TA said, "How do you get him to do that?"
I said, "Do what?"
She said, "Pick up his toys. Not hit other kids. Taking toys from other kids. Taking turns. Group time."
I stared at her. "Oh," I said, "We're working on that, too. No idea!"  but what I was thinking was, They're one and a half year olds, you dingbat. Wait for them to turn five?


It's aphid season.  Everything is sticky. Like my car:

It's so thick with stickyness that it forms stationary droplets of sap-like goo. September is the worst month.  Here is a window in our house, facing the tree with the worst aphids:

Here is an opposite window, not facing any aphids, for contrast:


"Are bad guys real?" asked Pokey, on the way to school. We'd been talking about superheroes.
"Oh yeah," answered Hawaii, "They're real. They have weapons. Like lasers, cameras, guns..."
"Cameras aren't weapons!" exclaimed Pokey.
"Security cameras," Hawaii explained (witheringly).  Duh.



Jammies said (over IM), "I just got a phone call from Hawaii at school where she let me know that I accidentally gave her Ace's lunch box again."
E. Messily said, "does that mean Ace has Hawaii's?"
Jammies said, "I mean, it had HER lunch in it, which I informed her of."
E. Messily said, "oh. Got it. I'm very glad the school called you though."

Ace doesn't even get a lunch box at school. How the hell did Hawaii sweet-talk her teacher and the school staff into letting her use the phone over this? She is a smooth talker.

"I'm like freaked out," continued Jammies,  "Has Hawaii taken over the school? Are the adults all dead."  It's a good question.

On a different day, Hawaii had a metal hook fall off her closet door onto the bridge of her nose:

She looks a little like one of the blue creatures from Avatar to me. Poor thing; I think it hurt a lot.



Jammies is out of town this coming week. Ugh argh I can't complain, I have a whole extra adult in the way of E. Messily here.

(But of course I complain because that's my MO. Who would I be if I didn't?)

The weekdays will be totally fine. It's just the weekend days that drag out. Then I lose my temper, my footing, and turn into this mean parent that I can't stand.

A thing Pokey made at the river. The two flowers slide up and down on the stick for a sort of hamburger jaw action.

4 kittens

She is hiding stolen food in her baby carriage!

Posted on 2016.09.11 at 22:43
I told my abstract algebra class, "There's a famous math joke with the punchline 'abelian grape' but I can't remember the set-up." We were learning about abelian groups. No one pulled out their phone and googled it. No one seemed to care very much.

Midway through the next class, I casually asked, "What's purple and commutes?" They all looked up and got quiet, and looked at me expectantly. No one put it together. "AN ABELIAN GRAPE!" I semi-shouted. They all laughed really hard, much harder than the joke warrants.

This must be an ideal way to tell a joke: slip someone the punchline, offhandedly. Then a few days later, when you give them the set-up, they'll doubly appreciate it. Trebly so. Try it out and report back, okay?


There's a butterfly invasion in Heebieville! It started on Tuesday and is still going strong.

They don't photograph well, but if you're patient, you can find 11 in the zoomed in shot below. Are you Gallant or Goofus?


Our friends have two daughters, 11 year old R and 8 year old B.  The elder gets very anxious about the minutia of daily life - will I be able to remember my locker combination in middle school? Will I forget my gym shoes? R narc'ed on her friend to me, a friend who was pretending not to have the remote control, after about ten seconds on Saturday night. "It's her! She has it!" R blurted out. The tension had been nonexistent, the perpetrator gave me a bright smile.  (The perpetrator had turned the volume on the movie up to 50, and I was asking them to turn it down.) (Speaking of losing your shit over minutia, Hawaii did so mid-week, after we got a message from the principal about a change in the lunch menu. She'd been really counting on corn dogs on Thursday, and this was a real punch to the gut. We are maybe not raising resilient kids.)

The other daughter, B, is extremely blase about life's minutia. Could not be less worried about what anyone will think when small things go wrong. Instead, B has massive existential crises, like the one driving home from the beach last weekend, sobbing for three hours about how she'll never be four years old again. Grappling in a deep way about that. Sobbing, sobbing. "I'll never be a little ba-aa-by like Rascal agaaain".

That's some deep stuff, B! I also get despair over that exact issue! If that were my kid, I'd probably grab the tissue box and join in.


Hawaii and Pokey are on the same soccer team this season. We requested, per Hawaii, that they be on separate teams, but they got put on the same team anyway. (Thank you, scheduling gods.) They played great this weekend!

Jammies made me peel 24 oranges and put 20 grapes in each of 12 bags, for their halftime snack.  It's embarrassing and terribly absurd that they have a halftime snack. The little dears can't possibly get by with Gatorade and water after playing two 8-minute quarters.  It puts me in the irritating position of siding with the straw Baby Boomer asshole who complains about participation trophies.

After peeling all those oranges, my thumbs were very sore. (I blew it, and didn't pay attention to see if they stuck out, though.) Now my thumbnail has that pried-apart feeling.

Mother Crocodile was furious! "Just when I finally get my darling little babies to sleep, you have to come along and awaken them!" she said.

Sometimes I identify with Mother Crocodile:

I pushed the stroller around on the grass for 30 minutes until I accomplished this, and I was very hot and tired. "Dudley! Dudley! I could have told you she wasn't the robber," said Sam Potatoes.

Soccer games in September are so unpleasantly hot.


Pokey likes to squish my belly and coo, "Chubby mommy. Chubby mommy." I like it, too.

Our current narrative is that he's doing better! We are telling ourselves that these past two weeks, Pokey only punched kids who were hassling him, (and in fact one kid in particular). That it was a normal five year old scuffle, as opposed to Pokey coping with frustration by punching out an innocent bystander. We're getting there.


E. Messily packed sack dinners for Ace and I, for Ace's dance class. Ace unzipped her lunchbox as soon as she was buckled in her carseat.

"Mom!" said Ace, "I'm really proud of E. Messily for giving me the purple bowl." I texted E. Messily to inform her of Ace's comment. "I knew she would be," E. replied.


Hawaii, whatcha learning in 2nd grade? How's it going?

Aww, they grow up so fast.

(But for real, I laughed and laughed when I saw her homework. Snack Attack is a children's book where the cat wants a snack, and traps the rat, and does in fact eat the rat. The last page shows the burping, satiated cat with distended belly. It's an unexpected turn.)


At one point this morning, Pokey, Ace, and Rascal were marching up and down the house, parade-style, singing, "This is the dumbest song everrrrrrr.  This is the dumbest song everrrrrr!"  Or at least Pokey and Ace were singing, and Rascal marched enthusiastically.

It's got a nice wink to it, a cross between The Song that Never Ends and The Stupid Question game. Do you know how to play the stupid question game? Do you want to play it? Are you having fun?

4 kittens

Same medium brown sand, same medium waves

Posted on 2016.09.05 at 21:50
Dear Jammies,

Remember the time we got home from the beach after a long weekend, and I was watching Rascal in the bath while you took a shower and Rascal took an epically large crap, and I couldn't handle it so I fetched you out of the shower and gave you the shitsplosion of a tub full of bath toys, while I transferred Rascal to the other bathroom, which was now vacant, and splashed around with the clean baby for awhile? Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Love, Heebie

How was the beach? Mostly great!  Noticeably easier than last year! Parts felt like an actual vacation, with R&R and midday naps. We rented a big house with three other families.  We cooked communal meals and lazed around on the big deck into the night.

Who loved the beach the most? Probably Rascal, who screamed continuously, sustaining one very high note happily for about the first hour that he was in the waves. He was beside himself with joy. The mud, the sand, the waves, and more waves, and even more waves. He liked being knocked down by the waves. He liked lying down so that the tiniest waves would still break over him. That seems awful to me, but he liked it. He liked having saltwater in his face and mouth.

Who liked the beach the least? Probably Ace, although she played happily in the sand, and hung out cheerfully with the grown-ups under the EZ-up.  What did people do at the beach before EZ-ups? My memory from Crescent Beach, FL, growing up, is of regular umbrellas resting on the ground, casting a shadow over low-slung beach chairs. Or that's what we did, plus sitting on the tailgate of the Suburban.  Maybe that's why beach chairs are only two or three inches off the ground, so that they fit under regular umbrellas.

Which beach do we go to? Port Aransas, on Mustang Island, next to Corpus Christi. It's a good beach for childhood, because you have plenty of room to be impressed by more glamorous beaches later on. It's the kind of beach where the sand is medium brown and you can drive on the beach.  So, just like Crescent Beach. It's like drinking wine: maybe you don't want to get used to the good stuff because then you can't enjoy the shitty kind.

It got very choppy on Sunday when a storm blew in.  Everyone hurried to take down their EZ-ups and pack up their stuff, and those who dallied or who had weaker EZ-ups saw them destroyed.  Boogie boards wrested away and cartwheeled violenty down the beach.  Pokey, Hawaii and I were in the water, enjoying the bigger waves until, abruptly, it was time to go. All the adults moved about urgently, sand flew everywhere, and Pokey worked himself up into a full blown panic attack. He was crying and hysterically scared, and I ushered him and Hawaii and Rascal towards the rental house, leaving Jammies behind to get all the stuff.  I think it was the urgency that freaked him out. He was sobbing and scared to death the whole walk home. At home, he was panicking about getting everything inside, when I pointed across the street at another family, on their balcony, and said, "Look. They're sitting in chairs, reading. Look how calm they are." He loosened a little, but didn't fully calm down until he was in the bath tub with Rascal.

(E. Messily and Ace were already at home, because Ace had asked to leave a few hours earlier, "so I can lay down in a bed." She was asleep on E., on the couch.)


Heebieville is hosting a weeklong Mermaid Festival, later this month. It is a very apt choice for the town. Historically, our claim to fame was this kitschy roadside attraction. The Aquamaids put on underwater shows. There was an underwater ampitheater and the Aquamaids would perform behind glass: this is how we eat a sandwich underwater! This is how we swing on swings, underwater! There were little tubes for them to breathe air, and they had to stay underwater for an entire show.

(via)  That is the same place that Jammies and I got married, in case you were reading here in 2009. (Although the kitchsy roadside attraction closed in the 1990s and was replaced by a nature center with a mini-shrine to the heyday.)

This is a weeklong Mermaid Festival, not an Aquamaid Festival, but we can overlook the historical inaccuracy. Here are the other reasons it's an apt choice: this town loves the river fanatically, this town is sort of silly and artsy, and this town does not take itself too seriously. Festivities include a parade and a Mermaid Society Ball and a daytime festival.

All of this is a longwinded way to announce that I bought a beautiful green and gold caftan for the Mermaid Society Ball. I am planning on dressing as Tennille to Jammies' Captain. The dress code is "River chic and other creatively inspired evening attire" so I'm pretty sure my new dress is just what the Captain ordered. I'm very excited.


This is a weird name for a church:

It seems a little dystopian. You were explicitly told not to worship Eikons.

Games, petting zoo, inflatables - a brave new church. (But still, no thanks.)


So, how's kindergarten?

We're still doing the Legos 4 Pokey charity fund, but to diminishing returns. Which was predictable - the novelty worked until it didn't - but still exasperating.  Why u b so violent, kid?

4 kittens

No sense in being house-poor.

Posted on 2016.08.28 at 22:09
We called a real estate agent that we know, and took a walk-through of that big stone house that I posted last time. Mostly to satisfy my curiousity. We will never, ever move there in a hundred years, because of this: the lower roof comes about 2 feet off the ground, and from the lower roof, it is easy to climb up on the two story roof, and the whole roof looked like a playground of death.

I didn't like the kitchen, because it was completely interior to the house. There'd be no way to add a window. We'd all have bigger bedrooms, and more of them, but the communal living area wouldn't feel much that much bigger. I loved all the quirks - the original light fixtures, the oddball rooms and doors to nowhere, the cedar closet. The old stone, the eccentric windows, the curved architecture. But this is all pretend and moot, because we really could not afford it. There's no sense in being house-poor.

Afterwards, I fell back in love with our current house. It's just right! It's also quirky, and we've made all the decisions exactly to our liking. So what if we have tiny bedrooms. It's cozy and lovely.  Afterwards, Jammies began to feel the creep of uncertainty about our current house, and began to feel lust for this other, equally charming house, but so much bigger. So much more closet space.


We have new neighbors on both sides. Both sides have been empty since the flood last October. On one side is a pair of college students, and the other side is a family. We've never had a family this close before! Our kids actually want to go outside and play. It's very exciting.

The family has eight kids, ages 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. All their birthdays are in April. Their names are J/ace, J/oel, J/ordan, J/essica, J/eremiah, H/onesty, L/evi, and H/eavenly.  You have to admire that the parents changed their horse, midstream, in naming those kids. "Fuck it, I don't want to dance with the cowboy that brang me."  The eldest is in Hawaii's class at school. (Hawaii told us several times that they had eight kids and the oldest kid was eight, and we frankly didn't believe her. But she was right.)

The parents are generous to a fault and ply our kids with treats and toys.  I'm a little concerned about their financial stability - I'm pretty sure they're living on fumes. The mother told me that her husband sells firewood, which...nobody uses firewood. We live in a hot infernal oven. (We believe the husband also does some landscaping.) Eight young kids. I asked the mother how unpacking was going, and she said it was easy, because they'd lost all their stuff in the floods in their old town, a few hours away. She keeps saying how glad they are to be here. I told the mother about the floods here, and she nodded and said she knew. Above all, they are disconcertingly upbeat and cheery, as they present in the direst of straits. I hope they really are okay. I think it is a two bedroom house.

They also have a friend who hangs out there a lot, named Nick. One of the college students, on the other side, is also named Nick. The guy across the street is also named Nick. We all agreed that regrettably, E. Messily must now be known as Nick. She pointed out that Fluffy Kitty's real name is actually Nick Jr, and thus we already have a Nick. Nice try,  E. Nickelbacky.

Hawaii has twins in her classroom, named G/eronimo and K/evin. I love these inconsistent parents. (There's actually two sets of twins in her class, but the other is unremarkably named.)


This is the white-flight school outside of SadTown, that I pass on my way to work. This was their first day of school:

All assholes ahoy!  Keep out anyone diff'rent!  (I know in other parts of the country, "no shots" may be a legitimate screen for anti-vaxxers. That is not what they're getting at here.)


So how was Pokey's first week? On Monday after school, he was bouncing with glee - exuberant like I've never seen him be. He literally only uttered the word "booya" for the first few hours, mostly yelling and singing the word. That is a word which generally annoys me, but I love my kid,  and my kid was so happy, and I started to feel fondness for the word.  Great!

Did the good feeling persist? Not really! By the end of the week, he'd gotten two folder marks out of five, which is pretty terrible. (Every six weeks there's a big schoolwide party, and you can only attend if you average 80% or better on folder marks. So he is already in the hole.) When I picked him up from after-care on Friday, he was aimlessly wandering in circles, wailing at the top of his lungs. He was drawing a lot of attention. His paper airplane had gotten stuck on a high windowsill. A different teacher - not the one dealing with the paper airplane - said that earlier he'd let loose with a string of expletives, after hitting Hawaii with a basketball, and gotten super rude and belligerent. They weren't sure how to control him.  (After-care is run by college students. They're not exactly board-certified in fragile five year olds.)

By Friday I was feeling a little panicky. I believe that Pokey knows what behavior is expected of him, and that he is capable of behaving, but that he is not motivated to behave, whatsoever. That it serves him in some way to cause a big scene and escalate the tantrum to heights exceeding anyone's expectations. He gets to dominate the situation, and say 'fuck you' to whoever is trying to control him. My friend who teaches four year olds recommended positive reinforcement, in very tiny intervals.

So we did. On Saturday, we bought a set of legos, the $10/box kind with 100 pieces. If he is well-behaved for one hour, he gets to put one lego in a jar.  Pre-Lego-jar on Saturday morning, Pokey was an angry, rude mess. Post-lego-jar, he was sweet and kind. I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but at least for this one weekend, we had sweet Pokey here. It has been wonderful. He has earned about 12 pieces. (During the week, he'll gets one piece if he doesn't get a folder mark, another piece for after-care, another piece for piano lessons, another piece for the morning and evening at home, and so on. Tiny intervals.)

At a birthday party last night, Hawaii smacked the pinata wide open. I was so proud of her.

My classes began. They're fine! Kids are always so nice at the beginning of the semester. (And in the middle and then end. Really, teaching math is the best, because they are so scared of the material and see me as their lifeline.) Anyway: we now can recycle cans in my building. This is a serious game changer. I've been waiting for this moment.

4 kittens

The newt play the flute

Posted on 2016.08.21 at 22:17
Everybody is tense in our house! Or at least the kids seem more squabbly than usual. Mostly Hokey Pokey, who has been on a hair trigger lately. I'm banking on kindergarten anxiety. The alternative is that our kid is just a trainwreck. School starts tomorrow!

Everyone loves Ms. M, who will be Pokey's kindergarten teacher. I was relieved to hear that. We met her on Back to School night and she seemed very nice.

Then Ms. M introduced us to her newborn baby, and to Ms. A, who would be her longterm sub. Mrs. M is on maternity leave until mid-October. The substitute seemed a little green around the ears. Behind the ears. The gills? wet near the lateral line? what am I going on about. We shall see how it goes.

Hokey Pokey dressed up as a Veni Yan Kari warrior for costume day, on the last day of preschool:

(from these books)

The carp plays the harp

It was maybe a dull week? I had a lot of dull meetings. People running the meetings mocked Trump a surprising amount, given an audience in the middle of Texas. Even the meeting that included all of the administration, support staff, custodial staff, marketing, admission, coaches, residential staff and student life staff, etc. All the non-academic people who are just holding a regular job, who are somewhat likely to be regular old conservative Texans. Haha, your team's candidate is the watercooler laughing-stock. Maybe you shouldn't vote for such terrible people.

(It actually wasn't a dull week, but it seems impolite to blog about the big fight I had with the chair of our department. It's mostly resolved, and I won't be teaching a fifth class, thank fucking god.)

The plaice play the bass, and they're sounding sharp

Hawaii was in a production of The Little Mermaid:

She did great. She got the biggest laugh, for a Cinderella-sisters-type moment when she is competing for the prince's affection by singing, and singing terribly. She hammed it up and everyone loved it. She delivered all her lines well and knew all her moves without having to watch the other kids. (Aside from Hawaii...is it wrong to pan a children's theater production?  It was pretty unintelligible and hard to follow, even with appropriately low expectations.)

Hawaii starts second grade. I start a regular old semester. Ace and Rascal start different rooms at daycare. Jammies and E. Messily don't start anything, or at least not anything institutional.

The bass play the brass

Ace: mouthing the words Can you hear me? to E. Messily.
E. Messily: No, I can't hear you.
Ace, vocalizing normally: Can you hear me now?
E. Messily: No, I still can't hear you.
Ace: When will you be able to hear me?
E. Messily: Never!
Ace: What about tomorrow?
E. Messily: No.

Ace and Rascal fought in the bath tub a lot, but I did not document those parts:

The chub play the tub

We had a lot of rain this past week, so it has been weirdly not hot. Because of the rain, because of the cabin fever, I took the kids to one of those jumpy castle warehouses today.  It was easy! All the kids had fun! It's a whole new stage of parenting: easy jumpy castles.

E. Messily's tiny rainbow circus became painted and more elaborate:

There are tiny wire fence lines running between the toothpick cage bars, so that the animals don't escape.

I wish I'd photographed it at the raw wood stage. I like documenting evolving art projects. (Although that is E. Messily's photo, which I boldly stole off facebook. No permission asked, like a renegade.)

The fluke is the duke of sole

After the flood last Halloween, this house didn't seem exactly safe anymore. It didn't seem invincible anymore. I've never lived in a house that felt vulnerable before, so maybe I'm naive, but I am used to thinking of houses - that I live in, not other people's houses - as being impenetrable. ('Naive' is one word, but maybe 'wealthy' is more accurate. And 'lucky'.)

I started looking at real estate listings. I really love looking at real estate listings. I love looking at the interior of houses and either picturing a life there, or criticizing the shitty ones. So I've been enjoying the hell out of that.

Some of the houses on our block are being elevated. Our house, of course, is already four feet off the ground, which is why only our insulation got wet while all the other houses were submerged. I started thinking that we should get a quote on elevating our house even further.  If climate change keeps accelerating, the flood lines will keep rising, right? What's the aerial topology map of this area?

So, moving or elevating. One or the other. Both have been on my mind. Having a bigger house seems great. We could move to a place that never floods, and has generous closets, and whole extra rooms, and I could buy abstract art to hang on the walls. There'd be more walls to fill!  There'd be more clutter to accumulate!

Temperamentally I have the opposite of PTSD - I'm unable to maintain the sense that something dangerous could happen.  Maybe that just makes me average.  But also sensible: there is no hurry. We should be wary when there's another El Nino year imminent.

Lately I've been lusting after this house in particular:

To the extent that I sort of want to tour it.  It's kind of a fantasy - 3000 square feet! All those different bedrooms! Beautiful windows and view! Look how much fun we'd have there.

But when I think about the particulars of living elsewhere - entering and exiting a different neighborhood, walking about a different floor plan, knowing our house is a mile away...it feels terrible. My stomach knots up and everything feels terrible. I love our house very much. (As Jammies says, "our house is like a puzzle. How can we figure out places to put things? It's a challenge," and he means that in a tone of admiration for this house. It is a challenge! I don't want to be like the proverbial goldfish who just grows to fit the new, bigger bowl.)(My parents, however, feel strongly that we should move.)

I'd still like to get a quote on elevating the house. And I still wish I had a luxurious walk-in closet. (who knows what will happen.)

4 kittens

The villain and her cat

Posted on 2016.08.14 at 21:46
In these parts, the hottest day of the year, historically, is August 11th (with an average high of 96°). The coldest day of the year, historically, is January 1st (with an average high of 62°).  The solstices are, of course, June 21 and December 21. That means that the hottest day lags behind the summer solstice by 51 days, whereas the coldest day lags behind the winter solstice by merely 10 days. Therefore, our fall is compressed by six weeks, and our spring is lengthened by six weeks. That doesn't seem fair. Spring is nice, but fall is the best. Winter is nice, too. Maybe we should pretend that fall lasts until February and leads directly into Spring.

E. Messily has been making some tiny circus vehicles to house tiny animals:

To give you a sense of scale, the bars on the giraffe's cage are made out of toothpicks.

Hawaii is at theater camp this week and next. They're putting on The Little Mermaid. Three of her friends came over to our house after camp last week, and Hawaii flitted around like a perfect thirty-something nervous hostess, keeping an inane running monologue about features of the house, who sits where at the table, various hijinks and complexities that the guests should be aware of. I don't think she was nervous. Rather, I think that adults ramble like seven year olds when they're nervous, and Hawaii's inflections and mannerisms resemble a 35-year-old.

(I coordinated afternoon childcare with two other parents. My days to watch the kids were Tuesday and Friday. During lunch on Tuesday, I browsed facebook and saw "I guess H still has lice! From over a month ago!" from one of the other parents.  I texted her, "oh no! Did they call you from camp?" and she texted back, "No, I saw it this morning, and sent her in anyway. I'm terrible." YES YOU ARE!!  The kid had an appointment at the lice shop that Saturday, so from Tuesday to Saturday I was hovering and spritzing Hawaii with mint oil. "Hair in a braid or a bun?" I asked every morning. Psychological torture (for me, not Hawaii).)

I jogged for the first time, wearing prosthetics. Hawaii had forgotten her lunch, and I was loping casually back to camp to hand it off to her. Jogging with prosthetics is more pleasant than jogging with real breasts. But less preferable to jogging with no breasts at all.

I walked Hawaii to and from camp each morning, which felt very virtuous and old-fashioned, because it was literally walking down our street, across the park, crossing a river, and then you're there.  On the way home, we stopped at the library one day - even more wholesome. It was hot as balls, though. Around 100°. I sure do hate this time of year.

I like to tell Pokey that the plural of Pokemon is Pokemen. He gets annoyed and corrects me. Maybe the singular of specimen is specimon.

Pokey has been getting out of bed, late at night, and telling us (very seriously) that he has a new feeling. He hasn't been able to find the word for it. After a few times, he said seriously that it was like a new life. We realized that he's probably talking about starting kindergarten. At least I hope that's it, because Pokey has been a bit of a trainwreck for the past three weeks. He had his first wrecking ball tantrum in his summer teacher's classroom. Which is to say that June and July were pretty good.

I will also have a new life: workshops start this week, classes start next week. Life returns to being heavily regimented. I don't mind a heavily regimented schedule qua heavily regimented schedule, but I dislike not having any wiggle room to accommodate things that go mildly wrong.

Look at that tiny star and spokes on the wheels! Maybe an inch tall?

On Saturday I met two Flatties for the first time, that is, women who have skipped reconstruction after having a mastectomy.  We rendezvoused at a Goodwill in Austin to look for clothes that flattered and camoflauged. Both of them did actually have cancer, like a normal person. One of them had reconstruction, but it went badly, and so after eight years or so, decided to have her implants taken out and go flat.  The other one just opted out. Neither of them wear prosthetics, the latter because her doctor told her not to, yet.

They looked so normal, flat. I'd never give them a second look in the grocery store. They both had smaller frames and narrower torsos than I do, so it was only somewhat reassuring to me. Nevertheless, it was sort of emotional and wonderful to hang out with them and try on clothes and debate the finer points of what to wear when you're flat.

This is silly and obvious, but: having breast cancer is so much worse and harder than what I've been through. I'm not thrilled with my situation, but good lord am I glad to have dodged that bullet.

Our kitty OJ lets me pick him up with one arm lengthwise along his belly, like a villain carries his cat, for prolonged stretches. He's quite content to accompany me around the house, puttering about the kitchen or whatever, until my arm gets tired.

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Better a bald head.

Posted on 2016.08.08 at 21:28
We have fine-tuned the art of traveling by car during a heat.  We make the kids put on bathing suits in the morning. Mid-afternoon, we target a city big enough to have a splash pad. They run around for an hour, we pick up dinner at some fast food place that supplies toys with its kids meals, and drive the last couple hours to our hotel. We splashed in Billings:

and slept in Sheridan.

In Sheridan,

There was a skybridge over the main drag.

The view was pretty. The hallway was boiling hot and smelled like wax. The combination somehow triggered an intense reverie flashback in me, of summer camp. Of stairwells in dorms that lacked air conditioning, in July. in North Carolina.

The hotel sign loomed large:

Here was the carpet:

 I rather like the second one.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming,

We stopped for lunch. Usually we make sandwiches, but this time we decided to stop at diner that Jammies remembered from childhood. It was the oldest old man diner possible. Here are some of the old man quotes covering the wall:

"God must have loved the plain people, He created so many of them." - Abraham Lincoln
"Better a bald head than none at all" - Austin O'Malley
"My father taught me to work. He did not teach me to love it." - who cares
"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." - no they aren't
"The buck stops here." - whatever, Ike
"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds." - oh shut up.
"I am only an average man, but I work harder than the average man." - congratulations
"There aren't any great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet." - where are the women?
"Don't believe that the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing; it was here first." - yes but can't we cooperate?
"Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs." - Mark Twain

Oh my god, old man, shut up with your self-important grandiose old man quotes. Take your stupid dirty fingernails and protestant work ethic and just relax, okay Pops?

All the patrons were creaky elderly country types. The diner was deathly silent. Our kids were like a disco ball of chaos at our table. After Pokey was mildly disobedient, I hauled him outside just to keep up appearances of discipline. Once outside, he and I just walked around to the convenience store and used the bathrooms.

Jammies did in fact say that the country fried steak was every bit as good as he remembered, though. The french fries were excellent, too - lots of potato skins. My salad was shitty iceberg, shredded American cheese, and chopped grilled chicken. If only it had been made with dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.

In Denver

We frolicked in tony Denver suburbs for a few days. My mom was in Denver to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of my grandmother.  Here is the carpet at the convention center:

Amber fields of grains.

Through spacious modern underwater volcanoes,

Above purple-fruited pains.

This is the speech my mom gave, about Grandma:

My mom"s speech about GrandmaCollapse )

Another award acceptee quoted Woodrow Wilson: It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Another one translated from Yiddish, Your tuchus can only sit in one seat.

But the best was this line, from the bio of some awardee dude's who I never heard of: Grasping the impact of his work is best achieved by imagining the counterfactual condition that would exist had he not creatively pursuedhis agenda. I never heard of you, dude. I'm living your counterfactual dream!

Four years ago, we were in the same convention center in Denver, celebrating my uncle.  Hawaii and Pokey were the same ages as Ace and Rascal are now:

Argh I'm dying. How could they be so little?!

Grandma was also at that conference:

That was back when she had her memory. There's photos of my other uncle, (not the one that was being celebrated), being healthy, before he became very sick with multiple myeloma (although he'd had it for several years at that point.)(He is currently in remission, having recieved one of these experimental procedures like Jimmy Carter got. Quality of life is better but not great.)

Argh, I'm getting swamped with memories.

To Amarillo, to Wichita Falls

After Denver, we did the same splash pad and drive routine, stopping in Amarillo to splash:

and spending the night in Wichita Falls.

Jammies said, “Is that car full of five twelve-year-olds?!”

I took a photo:

“I think they’re puppy dogs,” I said. “Five little puppy dogs driving to Wichita Falls.”

The water in our hotel room tasted like a rusty sweatsock, with strong swampy notes and an algae bloom bouquet. It was so gross that I worried it was unsafe. It was so gross that at breakfast, the coffee tasted rotten and so did the orange juice.

And home again:

The last thing to happen was this:

Jammies bought this ghastly thing for me, because I am one, I suppose.

Now we're home! Today was the worst. We were all so sick of being in the car. We griped and fought, misbehaved and screamed, and got screamed at. It's nice to be home.

Remember my back and neck spasms? This is the anticlimactic resolution: Alleve. Naproxen sodium. It treated the symptoms and somehow cured the underlying thing.

If you’ll note, we did not stay in the Fifth Season Hotel this trip. My beloved Fifth Season.  It’s just that I realized that having a pool at the hotel is not helpful on a road trip, because it's the beginning or end of the day. It’s far more helpful to have a pool or playground in the middle of the day. That way you can drive with tired kids, which is ideal.

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Posted on 2016.08.07 at 21:29
I have a post all written and ready to go, but I'm getting error messages when I try to upload photos. I'll try again tomorrow.

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