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4 kittens

Longstanding Lack of Ambition

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 kittens

Slam Duncans

Posted on 2017.02.12 at 22:45
Sprung is springing.

I wore shorts and sandals today.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hawaii bowls!

Pokey bowls!

Ace doesn't bowl!

Rascal bowls!

Heebie admires the font:

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Things Pokey says:

I mean, it was a pretty moonrise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Who loves Tim Duncan?

We love Tim Duncan.


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

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

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

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

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

This milk will expire on my birthday.

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

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

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

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

This wind ensemble toured on my birthday.

My phone knew it was coming up.

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

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

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

My calendar knows what day it is.

My phone got the memo.

Someone sent me this dippy thing on my birthday.

This bathroom was due for a clean on my birthday.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Hawaii made me a card:

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

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

Ace made me a card:

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

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

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

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


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

A fetching pearl snap shirt.

Discard the chain, keep the stone.

A summer purse.

This little water color reminded me of these cats:

which I like.

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

This little brass Apatosaurus.

These very heavy bookends.

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

Speaking of cute.

These little camera bots just make me smile so hard.

I just love them.

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

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

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

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

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

This poor entrapped little holographic plush koala. Nope.

Goodness no.

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

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

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

What a haul!  What a lovely birthday.


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

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

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

4 kittens

January is almost over.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety first.

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

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

Rascal creates messes in under five seconds.

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

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

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

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

We went to the park.

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



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

New gaping hole!

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

4 kittens

People are the best and worst.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ah, cute kids in pussyhats.

Goofballs goof-ballin'.

Feeling better now, thank you.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh I guess I'll share:

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


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

Now strike a pose.

Well done, you.

4 kittens

The Goobers Go Camping

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

This weekend we camped in our CCC cabins.

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

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

Nothing In Excess

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

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

Pokey spent the weekend with his gang:

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

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

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

No Man Sees His Shadow Who Faces The Sun.

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

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

Mud Thrown is Ground Lost.

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

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

Happiness is the only good.

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

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


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

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

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

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


Here was my closet:

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

Ghost of hanging items on the left.

Muddled shelves on the right.

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

Now it looks like so:

Two rows of hangers in the middle.

Shelves along the far right.

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

Full of my clothes:

My, what nice clothes.

Shelves on the left.

Shelves on the right.

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

4 kittens

Feathery ice on the window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She is resting under that light that my uncle made.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Pokey lost his first tooth!

Then he lost one of the two quarters he got.

Jammies did not lose a tooth!


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

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

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

Food, a children's book by Hawaii Geebie

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

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

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

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

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

Lounging on the escalator.


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

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

4 kittens

Llama Sonatina

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

Jammies took the kids to see this movie today:

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

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

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

A Boring Story

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

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

Ace and Rascal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Rascal has some crazy static hair:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokey and Hawaii

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

Unintentional Still Life of Found Objects, by Pokey Geebie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Last Boring Story

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

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

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

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

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

these powdered chocolate things.

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

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

these yogurt pretzels.

and these cupcakes with brown crystal sugar sprinkled on top.

And right now I really want some ice cream.

4 kittens

A Tour of Geebie Love for Material Things

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

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

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

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

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

I also got this sweater:

which is my kind of shlubby.

and Hawaii made me this bracelet-necklace:

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

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

and these:

but returning these:

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

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


Attack baby, with steamy safety goggles.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

We Also Did a Hanukkah Thing:

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

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

Before Xmas, there was ice skating

Hawaii ice skates:

Pokey ice skates:

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

Ace ice skates:

Just kidding. No she doesn't.

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

Pokey skates:

He had a ball.

4 kittens

The keeper of the catalogues retired.

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

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

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

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

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

On Friday,

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

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

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

Also on Friday,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we hugged Hawaii and congratulated her:


I bought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I started

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look closer:

3. This mosaic tile:

which we always kept hidden:

I guess it gets slippery.

4. Our very yellow bathrooms.

5. The arched doors.

I guess that's all!


On Friday,

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

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


I have a toothache.

I think it might be infected.

I'm going to a Denver dentist tomorrow morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Then why not tonight?" I asked.

"The Christmas festival is FUN!" she exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 kittens

We are Willing to Try

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

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

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

Art by Rascal

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

Blue paint in Ziploc, Chameleon (traditional)

Fire Truck on Fire

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

Monster Looking Askance

Hatchet Victim With Eyes on Foot; Forensics Scene.

Should I tell you instead how

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

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

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

Art by Ace

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

I could tell you about Friday -

Senior seminars, math department dinner, too many cookies.

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

Art by Pokey

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

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


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.

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