Yes, I know that Bella requested it more than a week ago.
That is how the move is going.
::frenzied rictus in place of a grin::
The movers are here. The house is like a hurricane has hit us. Almost everything is packed, and we have four nights left. No standard foods—though the refrigerator is full of scrids and scrads. No plates. No cutlery.
The beds are still here, but it sounds like they’re departing tomorrow. Ah, well, we have inflatable mattresses.
I’ve been hauling the poor dawg off to doggie day care every day, so the movers (and I) don’t get literally “hounded” by the constant territorial barking.
I’ve been shutting the poor cats into the master bedroom, where there are heaps and piles of Things We Want To Ship Directly Or Take With Us scattered about.
The furniture in the living room has been carefully covered with wraps. The moving guys assured me we could still sit on them. Oh, goodie.
I’m frantically pulling together documents for our mortgage application for whatever house we decide on in Big City, NM. (Actually, outside Big City, NM. Preferably in more mountainous, tree-ish areas.)
OmegaDad and I are sniping at each other. We are both sniping at OmegaDotter. She is sniping back. It is great fun. Not. I have taken to reminding myself “just a few more days, and we will be done with the omigod we are taking an airplane with three cats a dog three turtles a man a woman an almost-10-year-old and associated luggage I can’t breathe help me God whole affair.”
(The chickens and bunny rabbit have gone off to A Good Home. Story to come.)
Then, of course, we get to settle in to a few days at a casita in a bed and breakfast in Big City, then find a local month-to-month rental, while we’re looking for a house to buy.
BUT. Here? It is gray. The wind is howling off the glaciers. The sun is rising at about 9:30 and going down at about 5:45. It is currently in the 20s and there is snow on the ground that is being whipped into crusty small drifts by the 60 mph gusts. In Big City, NM? Sunny (or just clear at night). In the 50s and 60s during the day. It will be windy later in the week, but…the sun is rising at 7:30 and setting at 6:15.
I will be so glad when this is all over with!
(Oh, yeah, and I’m attempting [bahahaha!] NaBloPoMo, yet again.)
Meet Seward. Seward is two months old. He’s a mix of Husky and gawd-knows-what. OmegaDotter’s gymnastics coach, upon seeing his huge paws, suggested he was part Saint Bernard. Um, I don’t think so. I also sincerely hope not. My suspicion is part German Shepherd.
Anyway, he’s a puppy. He does what puppies do: He piddles on the floor (though he’s rapidly learning that going outside is for peeing, and we are rapidly learning his peeing cues), he chases the cats (only one of which has decided to emerge from hiding after two days), he chews things. We are trying to teach him “Sit” and “No” and “Down” and “Leave it” right now, with more advanced stuff—such as “Heel” and oh-my-gawd-it’s-never-going-to-happen “Come”—for later.
(Chewing. Sigh. I just intercepted him and OmegaDotter’s hairbrush and her fancy-pants swimming goggles.)
Seward was a bribe. Specifically, he was a bribe for the dotter. This is because she had fulfilled the requirements for her previous bribe—no minuses for behavior in gymnastics—which resulted in horse riding lessons. It also, alas, resulted in an immediate drop in her behavior. OmegaDad, a firm believer in bribery, immediately put “puppy” into play as a bribe for doing well at the state meet in gymnastics.
Now. I’m not a great believer in bribery, myself. I feel like it sets the bribee up for exactly what’s happening: once the bribe is earned, there’s no motivation for x behavior anymore, and y behavior sets in, instead. However, OmegaDad had come down the heavy about the state meet, and was insisting she get first place and second place and I don’t know what all, and, naturally, it was Extreme Pressure for the girl. So, while she was participating in the state meet, and doing fairly well though not as well as her best meet, I was giving OmegaDad the Hairy Eyeball about how he was being a hardass. The dotter started out fairly good on the beam, but didn’t do so well on her second event, and worse on her third, and she was, at that point, stressed and unhappy. (Besides, it being about a year and a half since Kai died, I was sort of wanting a puppy, too.) The dotter produced a second place and two third places in her age group, plus a fourth place overall, and I declared that it was okay, and we would get a puppy.
I had forgotten just how time-consuming a baby animal can be. Cleaning up the piddle and chasing after him every time I hear him sound like he’s chewing is very distracting. But! I have been taking him out for walks in the morning and the evening, and am now looking forward to going for hikes with him and the dotter when the snow and ice is completely gone.
In the meantime, I have a slew of blog posts brewing in my brain, so hopefully it won’t be as long before the next post as it was before this one. We’ve been off to a Chinese New Year celebration, the dotter has been drawing cartoons, we have baby chicks we incubated and hatched, I finally saw the Northern Lights (but did not get any pictures, wah!), we all got sick for a week apiece, one after the other—it’s been busy.
(OMG. The puppy found a large piece of foam rubber hidden away somewhere and totally tore it apart in about five minutes. And I just diverted him from chewing some computer cords. OMG. Johnny was right, damn him: On Facebook, when I announced the puppy’s arrival, he said, “Let the chewing begin!”)
We had our family meeting with the therapist. When we got home, OmegaDotter was to do her homework before heading to the gym. OmegaDad headed off to the bathroom. OmegaDotter finished a couple of problems, then looked at one and started whining about how she couldn’t do it. I got snarky. She got whinier. I got snarkier. She got hysterical. OmegaDad emerged from the bathroom. It escalated.
I ended up shouting loudly at OmegaDad for quite a bit, then storming out of the house.
I found myself at a local bookstore-cum-coffeehouse. I bought a book. I got myself a hazelnut mocha. I got a slice of key lime pie.
While I was eating it, I began to cry.
Because, you see, key lime pie was Mom’s favorite type of pie. And today is her birthday. And she’s not here. And it just sucks in general.
This year, OmegaDad made sure to have some little gingerbread houses for OmegaDotter to do all by herself, because she gets tired of having to follow daddy’s directions. She wants to let her creativity reign; he wants to rein in her creativity (in this case only!), because he always has A Vision for his holiday gingerbread creation. Anyway, he made four tiny little gingerbread cottages for the dotter to decorate, while he immersed himself in his pagoda-on-the-hills creation.
I helped the dotter, but only as directed. What she said, went. So here’s the overall view from above:
You have four gingerbread cottages with green and red tiling; a car on the road, two pine trees (one decorated), a little pond, and Santa and an elf making snow angels. You can’t see them, but each of the cottages has a wreath made of chewing gum. Chewed chewing gum.
This is a close-up from the side of the front scene, in which you can see the decorated tree much better, plus the candy-cane fencing:
Santa, being so eager to run out and make snow angels, had dropped his bag off at the entry to the village:
While all this was going on, OmegaDad was sculpting his Santa of fondant:
Santa was going to be skiing down one of the hills, so he had to be on skis.
The finished product has ski poles, and the hands are wrapped around the ski poles, which is why Santa is handless in these pics.
So here is the grand product, the pagoda on the hill. Note there are no ninjas. I do not know what happened to the planned-upon ninjas, they just sort of vanished. Maybe they are so sneaky that they are invisible, but they’re really there?! Note the lovely, smooth, glass-like lake. See Santa skiing downhill? He was originally up higher, but…he skied further down the hill, and OmegaDad decided that this was the spot Santa needed to be at.
The night scene:
In the back of the pagoda hill, there is another tree and another panda:
A close-up of the pagoda and its Christmas tree:
The pagoda, alas, started tilting early on. At this point, it is the Leaning Pagoda of Alaska, and OmegaDad and I figure that sometime soon, when the dotter is bouncing around, it will fall and go boom.
You might think this is a very sparse, little decorated gingerbread scene, and thus not very much work. I assure you, it was a lot of work. Three huge batches of rice krispie treats. Many, many, many batches of fondant and royal icing. The pagoda itself is made of stacked circles of rice krispie treats with gingerbread roofs made by coating the outside of pot-pie tins with carefully draped gingerbread. The trees are made of fondant, rolled out, cut into graduated circles, then carefully given points by pressing with the pointy part of a heart-shaped cookie cutter. And on and on. OmegaDad’s creations are always fun, and always a lot of work, and always (though it may not seem like it) a lot of work. Please applaud his project!
(I note that, even after lo these many gingerbread projects being featured on the blog, I did not have a “Gingerbread” category. That has been rectified.)
OmegaDotter is off spending the night at a friend’s house, so OmegaDad and I took the opportunity to Get Things Done.
What this consisted of this evening is me wielding a hair dryer to warm up wax paper stuck to slabs of chocolate Rice Krispie treats, and OmegaDad carefully cutting and gluing them together with buttercream frosting.
It is time for OmegaDad’s Christmas gingerbread house. This time, he is doing a pagoda on top of a Guilin-esque hill, beside a stream. The great secret behind many a creation here is the structural use of Rice Krispie treats; in this case, the hill is made of layers of them. He had made three cookie sheets full, then covered them with wax paper while they “cured”; the problem is that the wax paper had adhered completely. The first slab, we picked the wax paper off veeeerrrry carefully. Then OmegaDad had his flash of brilliance, scurried off to the bathroom, returned with my hair dryer, and voila, the deed was done quickly and handily.
Now, I realize that many adult adoptees will cringe at the decor ideas for this year’s gingerbread fantasy, but keep in mind that these particular ideas come straight from OmegaDotter:
There will be pandas made of fondant. Here’s one of the pandas, already made:
Isn’t he squee-fully cute?!
Then, OmegaDotter insisted that there be ninjas. She likes ninjas, so ninjas there will be. She and OmegaDad spent a happy evening researching how to make fondant ninjas on Google images.
There will be a stream of vivid blue rock sugar.
There may be a Chinese-style bridge over the stream. It is in the plans, but OmegaDad sounds kind of dubious about it.
OmegaDad told me this afternoon, while surrounded by heaps of dirty dishes and carrying the last slab off to the dining table, that The Food Network was letting everyone down, because their Cake Challenge show never showed the immense work that had to be done in the background to allow the stars to do their stylin’ cakes—the people who made the fondant, the royal icing, the buttercream, the layers of cake. All you see is the finished pieces being carved and put together, but behind all that is the unsung work of many others.
And while we were doing that, the Senate was voting to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s about time! And both of Alaska’s senators voted for the repeal—yay!
OmegaDad had the tools to make the turkey because…he went out and bought them. Well, not the Dremel, that has been his man-toy for quite a while now. But the dried wheat stalks and the Indian corn and the turban squash and the (om nom nom!) dried apricots were all purchased Sunday afternoon to pursue the pumpkin turkey dream.
School was out today, due to the ice. School is going to be out tomorrow, because of the ice. (Except at this point I think there may not be any “ice” left, because we’re basking in 39F temperatures at ten minutes to midnight in late November in Alaska, and it was pouring down rain half an hour ago. All our cold weather has gone south, blasting down the West Coast and dumping snow and ice in Washington and Oregon. I mean, really, folks: Did you have to steal our –15F weather?
3cmum asked what I’m reading on the Kindle. Right now, I’m reading Blackout, by Connie Willis. Next up in my mental queue is Condoleeza Rice’s autobiography, because I read a review of it that sounded very interesting. And if Jeanne Marie Laskas’ Fifty Acres and a Poodle is available on Kindle, I recommend it—it’s a heartwarming chick-lit autobiography type book from a lady who writes (wrote?) an ongoing column for a major newspaper. She also happens to have adopted from China, too. (After writing a few columns about infertility that made my infertility email list buds back in 1990 gasp, groan, and feel inspired to write letters to the editor. Ah, me. Those were the days!)
Joe Miller has re-filed his lawsuit after being told—in no uncertain terms—by the federal judge that he had filed his lawsuit in the wrong court, that it needed to be heard on the state level as this was state law he was challenging, and that the federal court couldn’t do anything with it until it was settled (or not) in a state court.
North Korea and South Korea. WTF?! Anyone have any ideas why it suddenly blew up like that?
If you’re interested in a hilarious, touching, thought-provoking fantasy web-comic, go check out Digger. It may take a few pages to get into, but it’s well worth it. I am in the midst of re-reading the whole thing.
Today we had ice. Early in the morning, OmegaDad headed out to work, made it up to the mailboxes, decided to turn back home, and says he had a grand old time spinning around and around at the top of the hill. We got three calls from the school district—the first saying, “Use your discretion”, the second saying goodness-knows-what, since OmegaDotter got the phone that time, and the third saying “Core schools are closed”. We didn’t care: After OmegaDad returned home, we weren’t going to let the girl out onto the streets.
So while I was working (there are times when telecommuting is not good), OmegaDad and the dotter made cupcakes, and then we all finished up the pumpkin turkey.
…Whoa! Say what?!
Oh! Well, yes. Yesterday, OmegaDad was about to sacrifice the un-carved Halloween pumpkin to make pumpkin pie filling. The dotter was distraught that we were not going to have a jack-o-lantern at all at all. OmegaDad, being the creative crafty genius that he is, come up with the idea of—rather than carving a jack-o-lantern—making a pumpkin turkey.
The creative crafty genius contemplating his blank canvas:
The first step—drilling a hole for the neck using the all-important Dremel tool:
The neck was an Indian corn cob. OmegaDad and I were guffawing at each other (I’ll admit it: we can be quite juvenile), and the dotter had no idea why. I’m sure my readers do:
The first phase of the tail feathers was individual wheat stalks stuck into Dremel-drilled holes (there’s that damned turkey “neck” making me think juvenile thoughts again!):
Then we used the red husks from the Indian corn as a front layer for the tail feathers:
We did another layer of corn husk “feathers” behind the wheat stalks. (While I was editing these pics, OmegaDad walked in upon this one and said, “What’s my daughter doing to that turkey to give it an erection?!?!” Then he added, “You need to censor that picture so no-one gets any perverted thoughts!” I considered a little rectangular censor icon across the front of the turkey, then figured…naaah.):
Somewhere in there, we added little wings to the side, but I got no picture of that. Next: time to drill the hole for the head. The head was a turban squash:
Turkey head installed:
The final product…googley (googly?) eyes, dried apricot comb, and all:
Here’s a close-up of the head:
I think it’s way cool. I’m also very glad that we got that head on, and that it stayed on (we had to do some seriously glue-gun work to keep the stalk from…drooping…damn, I’m still feeling juvenile about the whole thing!). It will become a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving dinner, sitting at one end of the table so that we can all see each other instead of having it LOOM in front of us.
School is already closed for tomorrow. I’m hoping they close OmegaDad’s work…for two reasons: Firstly, for his safety, and secondly…well…much better to have him around for the dotter to pester, instead of her wanting to pester me while I’m working.
The moose have been tromping around our yard since twilight. When OmegaDad went out to the garden to gather some thyme, he found that we had had a visitor who had very carefully removed all the fall flower garden detritus and stomped footprints into the moist soil.
(Yes, “moist”. We have been frolicking in balmy weather; it has snowed, but the snow is wet and slushy, and the temperature has been regularly in the forties—FORTIES!!—here in mid-November. The past month, temperatures here have been far above normal, as evidenced here:
The dark gray band is the “normal” range of temps; the red marks are what our temps have been for the past few weeks. Let us not mention the dread words Gl0bal Warm1ng! So, rather than slowly freezing solid, as should be happening now, our ground has become slurgy and saturated.)
Then OmegaDad heard thumps and bumps in the front of the house. Peering out the living room windows, he saw Moose by the front porch. So he went to investigate…
…and discovered that our flower boxes, normally perched upon the porch railings, had been knocked off, and that Moose had actually been upon the porch landing, and dragged a flower box down the stairs and over by my parked car.
That is one tenacious Moose! No doubt, he found the remnants of our petunias to be particularly tasty.
Heh. Every year, I try it, and every year something happens to keep me from posting one day. Usually it’s much later in the month, but this year’s NaBloPoMo-interruptus came barely a third of the way into the month.
Nonetheless, I think I will try posting all the remaining days of the month.
What happened? Well, there was an Epic Scene with the dotter. OmegaDad threatened her with being taken off the gymnastics team. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And shouting. And OmegaDad—that gentle, kind, thoughtful man—lost it to the point where he stormed out of the house.
Usually, that part of the scenes is mine. Or at least, I try for it, but am not allowed to by the dotter. In this case, it was more important for her to be screaming at me and trying to wrench the phone out of my hands as I called the gymnastics facility…
Anyway, she and I ended up snuggled up in the big chair in the living room while I talked with Ling and MeiMei (her Chinese dolls) about what OmegaDotter had done and why Big Scenes are happening more and more frequently and blah de blah de blah. The end result: she fell asleep in my lap. And then we woke up later, and I moved us into our bedroom, and we fell back asleep. Somewhere in there, OmegaDad returned. I slept until 8:30 a.m. The scene was at 4 p.m.
This morning we had a Come To Jesus meeting with the dotter.
She spent the entire morning cleaning—not at our behest, mind you; this is one of her ways of dealing with stress and (silently) apologizing. So we got rid of all the garbage in the living and dining rooms, and in the garage, and we swept and reorganized and she vacuumed the downstairs and the stairs and cleaned the catbox and and and…
Note to all who do not have children yet: Raising children can be extremely hard.
And then this evening I had word that a loved one is in the ICU and probably going to die in the next few days.
Did I mention that this has been a shitty year? Oh, yeah.
While I sit here alternately reading election returns and berating myself for reading election returns (“Why are you hitting your head against the wall?” “Because it feels so good when it stops!”), I thought I would put together a post on our Halloween shenanigans.
Mostly, our annual Halloween haunted gingerbread house. This was last year’s version. This year, OmegaDad decided that we needed a haunted movie theater. It would have a movie screen, and various ghouls and ghosties and witches and whatnot sitting in the audience, and you would only be able to see it through holes in the decorated walls…
First, he and OmegaDotter decided on a movie to be playing (Monsters Versus Aliens), and then the dotter produced a sketch of what should be showing on screen (I like the “Dude!”):
While OmegaDad was putting together the walls, the dotter worked on translating her sketch to the royal icing movie screen:
With this as the end result:
Note that working with edible ink pens on royal icing is, frankly, a pain in the butt. She’s great with pencil on paper, and good with markers on paper, but the edible ink pens/royal icing combo was killer for her.
Then she and OmegaDad spent a while creating theater seats and various monsters to inhabit the seats. At the front, you will see three ghosts, a Frankenstein, and a witch off to the side; behind them are tombstones and the beginnings of two Candy Corn Creatures. OmegaDad is working on the movie house framework and, I believe, beginning to populate the theater:
The inside was completed, and before they put the roof on and finished the outside, I took a photo:
I love the candy corn wall sconces!
And then they really got to working. I present to you—The Boojou Theatre!
This is the front. Note the movie poster for Monsters Versus Aliens, the skeletal booth attendant, and the Candy Corn Creature. (OmegaDad downloaded a variety of monster movie posters, shrunk them, printed them out, and then plastered them onto slabs of royal icing.) A close-up of the front:
The left side, with "The Creature From The Black Lagoon”, “The Giant Gila Monster”, ghosts, tombstones, Candy Corn Critter, and a view inside, and the back, with a monstrous spider, glowy-eyeball black cats, and another movie poster:
A view of the right side. The movie poster is “Beach Girls and the Monster”. You can see the movie “playing” inside:
So, it was grand and grand fun. On the whole, however, both OmegaDad and I preferred last year’s creation. He is already planning next year’s, which currently is slated to be a haunted disco, and titled “BOOgie Nights”. Har!
OmegaDotter was a sorceress for Halloween, with a grand black-and-white wig which she very carefully styled into a sixties-style hairdo. There was purple eye shadow and purple lips, and a splendid staff made of black painted PVC with a purple/pink painted wiffle ball and glowsticks inserted inside.
She insisted that I dress up a bit, so we scampered around Sunday afternoon and pulled together a Mama Bunny look:
We both discovered that the face paint itched like crazy after a while.
To reassure all my readers that my life is not totally Doom And Gloom And Misery these days, I haste to mention that it has been time for the State Fair, and all the wonders that it encompasses, for the past few weeks. What with OmegaDad being laid up by his elbow and me being busy packing the wound with gauze (ew yuck) (it’s all healing nicely now and hasn’t needed the gauze packing for a week, thank heavens!) and neither of us feeling particularly like exposing The Elbow to the exigencies of fairdom, we put everything off until this weekend.
One reason we couldn’t put it off any longer is that the dotter’s gymnastics facility was Putting On A Show, and the dotter was in it. Three times in one day. Seven hours of hanging around the fair. In the drizzle. Waiting for a break in the weather. They cancelled the first show, and didn’t make up their minds about doing the second show until five minutes before show time. But! Then it went on, and the third show as well.
Alas, being in the show meant that all the kids had various restrictions, the most important of which was “NO RIDES”. It seems that in the past, gymnasts went gallivanting off to enjoy the carnival rides between the shows, and often showed up for second and third shows green in the face and about to vomit and had to sit the show out.
In between various attempts to get the show going, I managed to catch this quartet of musicians who had gotten Fair Hair and face paint:
So we had the dotter hanging around with us in the drizzly grayness and not being allowed to do anything fun, except hanging out with buddies under the umbrella we brought along:
And a quick break for hula-hooping:
I got some pics of the performance, and a video (I may try some screen grabs later), and then ran out of memory in my camera. Bah! But here is a pic of the dotter waiting between portions of the performance:
The remedy for the lack of fun was for us to go to the fair again today.
Today was beautiful. Sunny. Clear. Blue skies. Warm. Crowded.
The only clouds around were a few fluffy white clumps in the sky, and the drifts of lifting fog around the mountains.
Our first stop was the dotter and I joining forces to steer the little race cars around the track:
In previous years, she has provided the foot on the gas; this year she provided the steering and I powered the vehicle. We roared past all the other cars, weaving in and out (at very low speeds) and had a great time.
We ate, we wandered, we purchased stuff—at good prices, amazingly enough, because today was the last day of the fair. We all went through the Dungeon of Doom and shrieked at all the sudden noises, bangs, and ghosties. Then the dotter and I indulged ourselves in carnival rides, which OmegaDad doesn’t like—we slid down the SuperSlide, we rode the super swings, we got in the spacecraft with the virtual roller coaster ride inside, we did the centrifugal tilt-a-whirl ride where you’re all standing up and the force is holding you against the outer wall…?
A sad side note: as we passed one of the pony rides, I asked the dotter if she wanted to do it, and she said, “No. That’s for little kids. I don’t do that anymore.” Wah! OmegaDad whispered to me that she still liked to ride horses, it was just that she doesn’t like the going-around-in-circles pony rides anymore. Still, it’s evidence that she’s growing more and more.
Then, of course, it was time for Fair Hair. This year, rather than the spray-in paint that gets sculpted into wondrous structures, she voted for colored hair extensions.
Getting the first one put in:
And this is the final result:
The extensions supposedly last two to three months. Luckily, the hair place also hands out a note on how to remove the extensions—for people who decide that their extensions are really just not what they wanted after all. Or who get tired of them…
The finale to our time at the fair was the annual face painting. This time, she got something called “SuperBling Princess”. Yes, that’s really the name of the look.
It was amazing. Apparently the face painter was so pleased with it that she took a picture of it to put on her wall; she said it was the best she had done at the fair. It made the dotter look like either a Hindu goddess, a Bollywood star, or a Chinese Opera star.
After leaving the fair, we went off to a nice restaurant for dinner, and had multitudes of people compliment her on her look, including a nice old grandfatherly type who asked if he could take her picture to show the folks back in Indiana what real Alaskans looked like!
So. Not all doom and gloom here. I have located a therapist who sounds like she’s my type of people, and am about to organize some serious therapy work to deal with the ongoing grief.
In The Book of the Dun Cow, there is a dog, Mundo Cani, who joins forces with the hero, Chaunticleer the rooster and helps him defeat The Evil. At times, Mundo Cani erupts into a miserable, lonesome howling of “Marooooooooooned!” I read the book years and years ago, once, but that image always stuck with me, a sort of archetypal outpouring of grief and mourning and lonesomeness.
I find myself, at times, tempted to just throw my head back and howl to the world, “Maroooooooooned!”
Most of the time this summer, however, I have been merely frozen.
Like a rolypoly bug, I have curled in upon myself, not bothering to write the blog until nagged to by BlogHer’s automatic “We Miss You!” email that explains, sadly, that the ads are being withdrawn until the blog is updated. Not bothering to look at my email. Not bothering to respond to emails, or calls. Not reaching out to local acquaintances. Just sort of surviving, with a feeling of “One must go through the motions.” Reading a lot. Dealing with family things, but mostly with half a mind, or a pane of glass or frozen ice between me and everything else.
Now and then, I pull myself together and do something related to mom’s death. At which point the ice shatters, and a piece stabs into my belly and I find myself gritting my teeth, pulling my hair, pacing, finally crying. Afterwards, I carefully retreat back behind the ice, back where it’s safe and it doesn’t hurt.
It was a cold and rainy summer here. It was sunny and warm here while I was in Arizona, dealing with mom’s hospitalization and death. But shortly after I returned home, the gray horizon-to-horizon clouds moved in and the temperature dropped and it stayed chilly and drizzly and shadowy. We broke a weather record for most consecutive days with rain, and the lovely little current-temperatures-versus-average-temperatures graph on Big City’s NOAA weather page showed consistently below average temperatures. The sun didn’t come out until the first day of OmegaDotter’s new school year…
OmegaDad had his surgery early in the summer, and recuperated slowly. Then, a week and a half ago, he awoke with a bump on his elbow—which I assumed was some kind of bug or spider bite—which, by the end of the day, had morphed into a horrible angry red baseball-sized swelling. To give you an idea of how ugly it seemed, I was the one who insisted we go to the emergency room for it, since we had missed closing time at the local urgent care doc-in-a-boxes. (Normally, I’m the one who wants to wait; OmegaDad accuses me of generally wanting to wait until he’s passed out on the floor before I grudgingly admit that he needs to see a doc.) Anyway, the thing turned out to be a staph infection (not MRSA, thank heavens for small favors!), and we spent the week traipsing off to the osteopathic surgeon’s office on an almost daily basis to have it drained and bandaged and tut-tutted over. The prognosis on Friday was if things hadn’t settled down by this Monday, he would have to go to the hospital to have elbow surgery; but, in the meantime, the doc upped his antibiotics. This, thankfully, turned the tide, and by Monday the doc was most pleased and allowed us to stop packing the wound with gauze and let it start closing naturally.
So this week I finally wrote up an invitation to family and friends to our scattering of mom’s ashes, which we’ll be doing in mid-October. This, of course, cracked the ice and led to a torrent of tears. Then I retreated back again. Tonight, I pulled together email addresses and sent it out. There are more names and email addresses I need to get, but this is the majority of them, I think. The ice cracked again. Since OmegaDad and OmegaDotter are asleep, my outlet is here, at the blog.
OmegaDad wants me to find a grief counselor. I haven’t the vaguest idea how to start. As I am not religious in the least, I don’t have—or want—a priest or pastor handy to turn to. And, as I am not religious in the least, I do not want counseling based in belief of heaven or hell or the afterlife.
I am at a loss.
In the meantime, the season is rapidly turning towards autumn; trees are yellowing, leaves are falling, blossoms are fading. Winter is on the way.
I’ve been busy, because two and a half weeks ago OmegaDad suddenly discovered he had a (very typical) middle-aged man’s problem that needed “routine” surgery. My last blogpost was written while we were waiting for the “routine” surgery. Need I say that the phrase “routine surgery” has become somewhat…um…tainted for me after the past year? After all, my mom had “routine” pacemaker surgery, and my dog had “routine” abdominal surgery, and both died.
So it was amazing how the tension went out of my shoulders as soon as I got OmegaDad back home from the outpatient surgery and things went swimmingly well.
Okay, they went swimmingly well from my point of view, not his. He is still not happy, because the healing is taking longer than a day or two, and thus he can’t do all his normal activities, nor can he sit for very long and veg out at the computer, wandering the twisty, turny passages of the Intartubes.
The nice thing about the whole affair for me is that it has kept me busy. I’ve been cooking, schlepping out to the chicken coops, mowing the lawn, reminding about pain meds, washing dishes, in addition to handling the dotter’s affairs—all of which is normally split between the two of us (mostly on his end; OmegaDotter’s schedule keeps me plenty busy normally). The busy-ness has made it so that mom’s death has been pushed into the background of my mind. Oh, it’s still there, and easily ramps back up when anyone wants to talk about it, but it’s been pleasant not to be constantly feeling like there’s that black hole in the pit of my stomach.
In the meantime, there are two stories I want to mention here that have caught my attention in the past week.
First off, there’s the press-and-blogger viewing of “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy”, a documentary that follows an 8-year-old from China who is adopted by a family from the U.S. The film will be premiering on PBS in August; this is the trailer:
When I first watched that trailer, many months ago, it broke my heart. I imagined OmegaDotter—also 8 years old—in that situation, being taken from her family of four years in the U.S. (Faith was living with a foster family for 4 years) to be adopted by a family from China. I thought about how she would feel, what it would be like for her, and watching Faith cry that she wants to go home to China just…well…words can’t say how much that hurt.
Two bloggers—Malinda and Peach—were invited to the preview. While I think that the original plan of the documentary was to be a feel-good happy-happy adoption story, they got a different feel from it. Read their reviews (linked on their names) and see what you think.
The second story is that of the hoo-rah at ScienceBlogs. The gist: ScienceBlogs is a collective blog about (surprise!) science, with a stable of about 70 bloggers from all walks of science, including science journalists, medicos, physiologists, professors, physicists, biologists, archeologists, mathematicians, etc. It started in 2004 2006 and has gained quite a reputation as the go-to place for science on the web. This week, however, a blog was introduced called “Food Frontiers”, which was an “outreach” of PepsiCo. It was given the same prominence as all the other blogs (all invited to join), but was obviously a corporate thing bought and paid for, though not explicitly labeled as such. And, interestingly enough, while previous semi-corporate-linked blogs had been introduced beforehand, this one hit the SB front page with no warning whatsoever.
Well. The shit hit the fan. The question of the firewall between editorial and advertising was debated far and wide. A subset of the bloggers left the site in response, with pretty candid “farewell” posts explaining why. A number of other bloggers said they were dubious, at best, and were considering leaving. One blogger sniffed that it was all a bunch of hysteria over nothing in a very disparaging way. The management (and, probably, PepsiCo) decided that this was a Bad Scene All Around, and removed the corporate blog in question. All that’s left is the post mortems.
I watched this with great interest. My immediate response upon reading the original “hi, there!” post on Food Frontiers was, WTF?! This is an advertorial, damn it! What’s it doing not being marked as such?!?! Ewwwwwww!!!!
For those who don’t know, an "advertorial” is what publishing calls advertising posing as editorial. In the journalism world, such things are (alas) often necessary to pay the bills, but definitely clearly marked as advertising, usually done in a totally different design than the remainder of the magazine. Including an advertorial in the midst of the magazine, using the same design, giving it the same editorial weight as writing by the staff, and not marking it (clearly, plainly, obviously) as advertising is a big no-no. I mean, it’s taboo. Really, truly. As someone who spent 10 years writing and editing in business journalism, I can tell you (and those bloggers and commenters who think the whole uproar is a tempest in a teapot) that no matter how you feel about journalists and the ethics of mainstream media, when I say “taboo”, I mean totally, utterly, absolutely, no doubt about it, this is a line in the sand, TABOO. You do not do this. And if you do this, and someone finds out, and you are called out about it, you lose serious credibility as a journalistic source.
It’s like, say, having sex with your sister, that’s how taboo it’s considered.
I was appalled, myself. I guess I have that verboten written upon my subconscious in letters of fire or some such thing; it was such a visceral response.
(Interestingly enough, I think mom’s response would not have been that emotional. She was very pragmatic and less likely to imbue the journalism biz with idealism. However, she would definitely have thought it was a sincerely bad idea, and rolled her eyes at how stupid it was for the management at ScienceBlogs to take that approach.)
Anyway, here’s a round-up of all the ScienceBlogger’s takes on the subject, and various commenting from other sources, courtesy of BoraZ (one of the bloggers at SB). Alas, it’s not in chronological order; every search I’ve done on various search sites hasn’t produced one, so…start at anything dated July 7 and work your way forward.
OmegaDotter bounced in the garage door, letting it slam shut behind her, kicked off her shoes, pulled off her jacket, tossed her book bag on the futon and was talking a mile a minute.
“Mom! Mom, Joey’s family next door is moving out, and they want to sell the goat, can we buy the goat, please, please, I promise I’ll take care of it and it needs a home, puh-leeeeeze!”
Last fall, Joey’s family moved into the house next door. We were delighted; the people who had lived there before had Mean Dogs that would chase me and the dotter as we walked back from the bus stop, that had invaded our other next door neighbor’s yard and chewed up one of their dogs, and would regularly raid our garbage can. They also didn’t clean their yard at all, so it was totally overgrown and weedy—they didn’t even pick up the deck fencing that had fallen down onto the former lawn. We were so glad to see that family go! But Joey was a classmate of the dotter’s, he had brothers, they were a quiet(ish) family, and they cleaned up the property right away so it looked…decent…again.
And they bought a goat, Dottie. The idea, I suppose, was that in time, as she grew, they could milk her. The dotter was charmed.
At odd times during the winter, I’d be sitting in the dotter’s bedroom reading after we had done our bedtime routine, and hear her going “Maa-aah-aaah! Maa-aah-aaaah!” It would startle me until I remembered: There’s a goat next door. I’d worry vaguely about how she was doing in the cold, but other than that she didn’t impinge upon my life.
“No. No goat!” I said.
“NO GOAT.” I said.
“Because I said so.” Oh, what a great comeback!
She kept tossing various reasons why we should buy the goat, then reverted to calling me a meanyhead, and then her flighty attention got caught by something else and the subject was dropped.
We bought the first chickens after a bout of OmegaDad and OmegaDotter trying to wheedle me into a goat. This came after years of OmegaDad trying to wheedle me into a llama. No llamas, I said for years. No goats! I reiterated when that particular flight of fancy caught their mutual attention. But when they finally scaled back to something more reasonable—to wit, chickens—I finally said yes.
A goat, I know, would end up being Yet Another Responsibility. Yet Another Animal to care for during those long, dark, icy cold winter days and nights. Yet Another Reason to emerge from the warm house and go trudging across the snowpacked back yard. Yet Another Expense in terms of food and shelter. And, oh Kozmik All above use, Yet Another Reason for Vet Bills!
Amazingly enough, OmegaDotter did not mention the goat to her father. But I knew it would come soon, so at bedtime, when I had crawled into bed and snuggled up against OmegaDad in the dark, I muttered, “Are you awake?”
“Mmm-hmmm,” he mumbled sleepily.
“Joey’s family is moving out and they want to sell their goat. NO.” I said.
There was a silence for a moment, then he turned to face me in the darkness. “Wait a minute. I’m confused. If it’s ‘NO’, then why are you telling me about it?!”
“Because I know that the dotter will try the classic end run where she asks you because she knows you’ll say ‘Yes’. And I’m saying ‘No’.”
“I thought you were telling me because you wanted the goat.”
“NO! I don’t want the goat!” O panic. No, no, NO, that’s not what I meant!
“Oh. Okay.” He turned back over and snuggled up against me again.
Then, in the dark, he sharply turned his head back towards me, in a silent version of a comic, “Are you sure?!”
He did it again, as if to say, “Now, y’know, a goat would be cool!” I snickered again and poked him in the back. He did it one final time, and I whapped him gently on the head. “Enough! No goat!”
Hail thee, festival day! Bless’d day that art hallowed forever– Day whereon Christ arose, Breaking the kingdom of death!
I am not religious, in any manner whatsoever. But I have lovely memories of Easter Sundays as a child, going with my grandparents to Easter service at a high Episcopalian church with The. Most. Awesome. Pipe organ. And singing that particular hymn, which is indelibly engraved on my memory. The pipe organ would play the deepest notes possible, making the flagstone pavement vibrate, and then…then, when the Joyous! Triumphant! part of the hymns was hit, the trumpets making a blaring fanfare to celebrate. (Much to my dismay, a long, detailed article about that organ is no longer available.)
So today was Easter. Of course, we had an Easter basket for the dotter…but we had no dotter for the Easter basket! She spent the night at her friend A.’s house, and blew eggs and dyed them and hunted them there. So our Easter basket sat on the table, alone and forlorn:
(Note the mini basket up front, for her doll Ling. Credit for this entire creation goes to OmegaDad.)
While we hung around (in blissful quietude!), OmegaDad was making pita bread, tortillas, and lavosh. Yum! The pita bread/lavosh dough produced a lot of gas, so much so that it looked like the rising bowl was going to…well, rise itself!
Eventually the dotter decided she wanted to come home, at which point she dove into the basket:
Inside the basket was a bounty of crinkle-cut paper confetti in many spring colors, in place of the green plastic grass that ends up being eaten by pets the world around on Easter day. OmegaDad and the dotter decided to pile it on top of my head, topped off with a whirling yellow pinwheel:
Then she and I had to dye eggs, which is always fun. We had a polka-dotted affair:
We had a starburst:
And we had one that really, truly looked like a planet. It wasn’t just me who thought so; I was staring at it pensively thinking how much like Jupiter it looked, when OmegaDotter saw it and gasped, “OMG! It looks just like a planet, Mom! Let’s make it Saturn! Let’s paint a ring around it!” So I did; in fact, I painted two rings:
From this angle, alas, it looks either like the X chromosome or like an elongated infinity sign (the dotter’s notion, again) or an analemma. (Windows LiveWriter, by the way, does not recognize the word “analemma”, harrumph.)
Our array of eggs:
I hope your day was as fun and filled with confetti as ours!
This past fall and winter, we had two hens die, so now that it is springtime, the husband’s thoughts lightly turned to—of course—new baby chicks. So, this fine Easter weekend morning, OmegaDad and OmegaDotter trekked off to the local hatchery and brought back a Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Bantam (mille fleurs variety) and a Frizzle, both about two weeks old. We now have Miss Frizzle:
They are happily ensconced in a heated plastic tub in the garage, and I am, of course, falling in love with them because they are so cute.
Yes, spring is rapidly springing here. The snow has melted off the north side of our front yard. Now, you’d expect it to melt off the south side first, but the south side of our yard is shaded by trees, so the north side gets freed up first. In the back yard, the back two vegetable beds are now snow-free, and we have purchased black plastic to wrap the beds to heat them up and thaw the soil in preparation for planting.
In our rock garden at the foot of the kitchen stairs, one happy Leopard’s Bane is leafing out luxuriantly. In the garden behind the house, the lilacs are budding their leaves.
A mama moose and her calf have been wandering the neighborhood eating everything they can find that has sap running through it, so I am planning to cut up strips of Bounce to tie onto the lilac bushes (this is rumored to keep moose away).
The trees have pussy willows bursting out at the tops.
Today it unofficially hit 50F here in Suburban Alaska.
Science fairs will be in late March, so OmegaDad decided to get started with some experiments with the dotter. Unfortunately, the experiments are daddy’s ideas, but, hey, get the kid used to doing it, right?
Firstly, she was very possessive about “MY lab!” In other words, I had to explain to her that real scientists these days were very open about their research (see PLOS) and, if they’re excited about their experiments, they’re very happy to have people in, show them around, tell them what the experiment is about, etc.
Anyway. Since OmegaDad has been Doing Bread this past year (and very nicely, too!), and trying out sourdough starters with wild yeast, he thought it might be fun to see if you could get a sourdough starter from varying fruits. He selected grapes and blueberries because both fruits have a blush on them; apples, because they don’t have a blush; and then we had a control of just plain ol’ flour and water. Herewith the ingredients:
Then there’s the scientist herself:
Note that she is wearing “goggles”. She was very concerned that everyone in her lab wear goggles, because, as she explained, “You never know when you’re going to get an explosion!” Then she demonstrated how things would blow up:
Please note the “lab coat”. Folks! Let me tell you about this amazing new costume for your kids! It’s a chef’s coat! It’s a lab coat! It’s two—two!—two coats in one! OmegaDotter received a chef outfit for herself plus a matching chef outfit for her Karito Kids Ling doll, and has since taken to wearing the pink striped black pants as pajama pants or loungewear ever since, and when time came to do the experiment set-up, she decided it would make a fine lab coat.
What followed: Placing one cup of blueberries into a Mason jar:
Mushing grapes before putting them into a Mason jar (an action shot!):
Explaining what comes next, and how you need to be careful (note the goggles again!):
Adding flour (we got a lot of flour all over everything, including the floor. There were also a grape or blueberry or two on the floor, sigh. Not that I really want you to look at our floor; please edit those shots mentally.):
Stirring (please note that we used different spoons for each jar, so that we had no intermixing):
She has the Evil Scientist pose down perfectly—“I have created LIFE!!! Bwahahaha!”
And then, the finale, a “Ta-da!” pose:
And then she signed off with, “Thanks for watching Weird Science!”
The real estate agent who helped us find our house (and is a dear, close, personal friend of our ex-governor’s) is a relentless saleswoman. We get letters in the mail with helpful tips and tricks! We get–at irregular intervals–a coupon to a local ice cream store or dollars off on purchases at a locally owned business. And, this Thanksgiving, we were given a pie, apple or pumpkin.
So, we now have a store-bought pumpkin pie for free, sitting in our fridge.
We have a turkey thawing out, alternately in the sink and in the fridge.
We have lemons and rosemary and garlic to stuff the turkey with.
We have taters, parsley, and cheese for OmegaDad’s trademarked Green Smashed Potatoes. (Om nom nom!)
Somewheres in there we have a vegetable.
All that’s left is for us to put together the feast. I will provide chopping and dicing; OmegaDad is le chef and I will do only his bidding in the kitchen.
It is time to list the things in life that make us thankful. Really, it would be a good idea to do this on a regular basis; maybe the world would be a better place for it. So long as it’s quiet and private and not trumpeted to the world. My tidbits of thankfulness wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the world; they’re all small and personal and, face it, pretty damned selfish. What I am thankful for, someone else may find picayune, and vice versa.
Number one on my list is OmegaDad. This guy is an endless font of incredible spoonerisms and malaprops that leave me laughing at the same time as I am left in gaping awe at his inventiveness. I have asked how he does it, and he shrugs: it just sort of “comes out–I don’t do it on purpose…” We have been together for almost 16 years, and I still find things to talk with him about, still find him gentle and sweet and thoughtful and intelligent. And, dayum, he cooks up a storm, dontcha know! This year’s focus has been bread, and we have been the recipients of yummy flatbreads, lavosh, pizza dough, challah, plain white bread, breadsticks, French bread, tortillas, and homemade hamburger buns. Wow.
Next is OmegaDotter. She’s just amazing. OmegaDad recently challenged her to finally pin down her back flip, offering a differing amount of money depending on how long it takes her to get it solid. In the course of a week, she has managed to reach the point of always flipping over and 75% of the time ending up on her feet again. (The practice is on our bed.) She is reading by herself, and we alternate nights when I read to her with nights when she reads to me. Every once in a while she will bestow a piece of artwork on us that makes my jaw drop. And she’s beginning to bring out more and more unasked-for flashes of empathy and moral grounding. Yee-haw!
Then there’s GrannyJ. She’s 82 and still going strong, walking her small town, taking photographs, blogging and nourishing a local blogging community, and challenging me with new and interesting science fiction authors all the time.
We have our health. We have our house. We have friends and family. We have a standard of living that would make 70% of the world gasp in awe.
We had Kai for eleven years–that’s good. We’ve discovered that chickens, though they may be pretty damned dumb, still have a lot of personality. Our garden overflowed with vegetables, even though we were moosed at times. We have long, lovely hours of sunshine in the summer to balance out the cold dark months of winter.
There’s a lot to be thankful for.
A very happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. friends and readers, and generally thankful warm fuzzies to my non-U.S. followers!
The dotter was “grounded” today from playing at other kids’ houses or having them over, due to yesterday’s misunderstanding. But we did send her off to “Parents’ Night Out”, mainly because I wanted a quiet evening with OmegaDad.
We rented a movie. He bought smoked salmon and an array of cheeses and crackers, we had grapes and home-grown carrots and sugar snap peas and dilly dip.
We watched the movie (”Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”–sweet and odd and funny). We ate. We joked with each other. It was relaxing and peaceful.
I have two or three post ideas rolling about in my head:
In extremis - I read Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. There was a scene in there that made me think of this last year’s Iditarod race, and how people who choose to go into an extreme situation, a possibly competitive situation, may view “moral situations” differently.
A slew of interesting adoption posts have hit my blog reader recently. There’s the question of “should you adopt internationally/interracially?” There’s the question of “should international adoptive parents try to ‘open’ the adoption/perform birthparent searches?” There’s the question of international adoptive parents who deliberately close the door on the culture-of-origin.
So, instead of relaxing and watching some nice dark science fiction (aka Stargate Universe), OmegaDad and I have spent the past 40 minutes dealing with OmegaDotter’s social life–or, currently, lack thereof.
Once again, she started making plans with A.–as in, “We’ll pick you up at…”–without sitting down and asking us first.
It’s not a lot to ask, I think. I’d like to have her request that a friend can spend the night, and actually talk about it with us, before she starts making plans with that friend.
Not to mention, she had already asked a different friend to come over tomorrow afternoon. (A friend whose phone number we do not have, by the way, so we can’t call his folks and say “It’s off, sorry!”.)
Not to mention, she had already asked me if she could do “Parents’ Night Out” at her gymnastics facility.
The result: No friends over at all tomorrow. No overnight. And “Parents’ Night Out” only if (a) they have space, and (b) she behaves supremely well tomorrow.
I wanted to talk about other things in my post today, but I’m grumpy and tired and about to head off to bed to wallow in being Mean Mommy.
OmegaDad has become quite proficient with building edifices out of gingerbread over the years. And his dexterity with piping royal icing has become quite deft. And, frankly, anyone who can figure out how to color icing dead black and bright orange deserves an A+ for ingenuity.
(Actually, it turns out that the way to do it is to buy the expensive food coloring at the local gourmet kitchen store. Alas for my shattered illusions!)
He found out how to make ghosts out of fondant on the internet. He came up with a way to make tombstones out of Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano cookies and white chocolate chips. He is a dab hand at outlining windows and creating spiderwebs out of icing.
The piece de resistance was the roof, a square slab of homemade sugar candy, colored orange.
We have ghosts. We have tombstones. We have little pumpkins on the steps. We have spiderwebs. We have gables. Also, notice the way the side looks like a face…
I am most satisfied. This one came out way cool.
A close-up of the path (made of rock candy) and front door (made of chocolate wafers):
Tombstones and a ghost:
The “ground” is Cocoa Crispies.
The “tree” is some twigs blown down by the incredible winds we have been having yesterday and today, anchored in a squished up caramel. (We’re supposed to have gusts up to 75 mph tonight; when I took the dotter off to school this afternoon for “Trick or Treat Town” the mountains across the inlet, over by Big City, were obscured by what could have been fog, except that it was coming down through the passes, rather than up from the inlet. The pseudo-fog was, in fact, dust being scoured from the various glaciers by the winds. Big City was under an air quality advisory as a result.)
We planted many carrots this year. Many many many carrots. And all our carrots grew. We have spent the summer happily pulling a few carrots here and there and snarfing them down.
But now it is mid-October, and more than past time to be clearing out the veggie garden before the soil freezes and it becomes impossible to remove the veggies. So OmegaDad spent the afternoon today pulling carrots.
Many many many carrots.
The picture above is one hod of carrots. We had more than that. (The moose did not get the carrots; the veggie beds are protected by PVC pipe-and-netting contraptions, covered with translucent plastic since things have started getting chilly. The moose ignored the veggie beds entirely. Alas, our brussels sprouts were not in the veggie beds.)
We also had a sink full of carrots:
We spent the afternoon trading off the task of cleaning carrots. This is the end result:
You will note, above the sprawl of carrots, a bowl. In the bowl is a loaf of bread. This may give you some context as to how many carrots there are in the picture. I might also add that the heap is about four inches deep, up to six inches deep at the center.
It’s a lot of carrots.
They’re very tasty–the frosts we have had in the past few weeks have sweetened them up amazingly. They are almost candy sweet.
But, still. It’s a lot of carrots.
(The song, of course, refers to bananas. Mashed bananas. “There were thirty…thousand…pounds…of mashed bananas…of bananas…of bananas…!”)
…because the dotter is sick with something flu-like. The test came back negative for strep, negative for flu, but then the ped chatted up some other ped friends to discuss the sensitivity of the flu test, and given the dotter’s tendency to segue into she-should-go-to-the-hospital type pneumonia, the ped decided to treat it as if it were the flu.
Normally, I wouldn’t go hauling her off to the doctor right away after she got sick. But given that there was a 10-year-old boy who died of H1N1 within a day after developing the fever up the road in Second Biggest City a few weeks ago, coupled with that aforementioned tendency to pneumonia, I figured it was time to be cautious.
The upshot is the doc prescribed Tamiflu.
(Don’t read the side effects for kids. Just don’t.) (I’m hoping we’re not any of the folks who get those side effects.) (I mean, really, “may be at an increased risk of self injury and confusion shortly after taking TAMIFLU and should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior” just sort of raises the hair on my neck. How creepy can you get?!?!)
The dotter has never done pills (really!), just liquid medicines and shots. So when the doc asked, I said we should make it liquid…at which point it turns out there is no liquid form readily available, and there is just one local pharmacy that prepares the liquid form.
That pharmacy is, according to OmegaDad, The World’s Least Competent Pharmacy. This is the result of him showing up at the pharmacy hours after we saw the doctor only to have them take half an hour to figure out that they didn’t have the faxed prescription, and more time thereafter to call up the doctor’s office. OmegaDad was fuming when he got home, and said, in dire tones, that any further interactions were up to me, because he didn’t think he could keep from blowing his stack.
I call the doc’s office. I offer to use pills, to introduce the dotter to the concept, so we can avoid dealing with this pharmacy.
The doc’s office calls back: All the pharmacies in town don’t have the pills in the right strength, so we’re back to The World’s Least Competent Pharmacy. But TWLCP can’t get the preparation done before they close.
It’s quite the distraction from the oh-OmegaDad-isn’t-going-to-step-on-Kai-on-his-way-to-bed feeling (Kai liked to sleep next to OD’s side of the bed). The we-don’t-need-to-close-the-downstairs-bathroom-door feeling (Kai would eat the cat food otherwise). The ongoing reminders. Sigh. Thank you all for your sympathetic comments; it has been quite helpful, actually.
For the past few years, OmegaDad has raved to me about “his” sandhill cranes showing up in the spring and fall, his special viewing place, ooh-ing and aahhh-ing about being able to go out during his (short) lunch hour, drive a few blocks, and eat his lunch while communing with nature, aka the cranes, and how pretty they were.
Today, he called me from work. “I’ve got a very flat tire.” Instantly, Super OmegaMom springs into action: faster than a speeding bullet, she whizzes through the garage, grabs the battery-powered air pump, leaps into the car, and–
…waits for OmegaDotter, who had no school today, to collect all her worldly goods and chattels in preparation for an overnight with A., her best bud.
At which point, Super OmegaMom grabs the Halloween artwork done by OmegaDotter for donation to A.’s Halloween decorations, flips the back seats down, rolls out the bicycle, manhandles the bicycle up into the car, schleps the dotter and all her worldly goods and chattels off to A.’s house…
…and then goes to rescue OmegaDad.
As I delivered the air pump, I suggested we go visit the dawg at the hospital…
Oh! Didn’t I mention this?! One night home, and the dawg was once again throwing up everything, we couldn’t get any meds to stay down, we were worried yesterday morning, we called the vet, we took the dawg back to the vet’s, we got a call from the vet mid-day, we drove back to the vet’s office under a low, black cloud of gloom, anticipating that we were going to be told that he needed to be put down…Only to find out, once we were there, that the vets had made a mistake during the first surgery, and they wanted to do a third surgery to correct it. The good news was that the dawg was not needing to be put down. The further good news was that they were going to do the surgery for free. The bad news was…well, three surgeries in a week is an awful lot, and the vet wasn’t sure that this would do the trick for our poor puppy.
But, anyway, the dawg is recuperating from his third surgery, and I suggested we go visit the dawg, which we did. And then OmegaDad was hungry for lunch, so we grabbed a burger for him from DQ. And while we were there, he said, “Let’s take a drive!”
“Turn right here. Turn left here. Drive straight here. Turn here. Slow down. Slow down. Just beyond those trees–can you see them?”
See them?! Holy moly, there were some of the prettiest birds I’ve seen in a long time, and they were right by the road. We could practically have reached out and touched them. They had red crests on top of their heads, perched on long, graceful necks. Their bodies were mottled brown and cream from one angle, an iridescent blue-ish from another angle. They were just…beautiful.
And I didn’t have my camera.
After taking the husband back to work, I drove home (12 miles), grabbed the camera, and drove back (another 12 miles) just so I could get pictures of these beauties.
Of course, by the time I got there, they had moved much farther back into the field, away from the edge of the road. This meant I had to zoom in with my point-and-shoot’s all-of-3x-optical-zoom. Which meant that all I was getting was lousy pictures. I got out of the car, moved into the greenery by the side of the road–
–and the birds very quietly and gracefully moved an equal distance further away from the road. It wasn’t like they were scared, or really noticing at all; it was almost as if it were a force of nature, like gravity or magnetism, except repelling rather than attracting. I move forward, they drift backward.
Bah. The pic at the top of the post is the very best I could manage. I ache to have better pictures of those birds.
Obviously, I need a new camera, one with more oompf. None of this twiddly, pixellated digital zoom, thankyewverramuch. I want some STUDLY OPTICAL ZOOM, dammit! So this is my new quest: cruising CraigsList for a nice used 10x digicam. The dawg has eaten up a lot of our PFD check, but I think I can swing a 2nd-hand good digicam…Just so that next year I can get better pictures of these guys.
So what is the family doing with our spare time now that the dotter is back in school, in the second grade? Are we doing Quality Time Things with her? Teaching her great moral truths? Helping her understand the principles behind basic mathematics? Discussing the political situations of the day?
We are teaching her to play poker.
At, I might add, her request. I have no idea where she came up with the idea, but while OmegaDad was out of town on the East Coast, I gave it a (lousy) whirl. When I concluded that I couldn’t remember it very well, and certainly couldn’t remember the ranking of the various hands, I copped out: I told her to wait until Daddy came home, and ask him to teach her to play.
Which she did. And he did. And we’ve been having a grand old time playing five-card poker, not Stud, for pennies from the zippy full of one hundred pennies that the dotter took to school last year for the 100th Day festivities. At the end of the game session, we check to see who has the most pennies to declare the winner, and then the pennies go back into the zippy.
Our first night, the dotter won just about everything, and wiped out OmegaDad’s funds. Beginner’s luck!
The second night, OmegaDad won. This will probably be the default, because he has been playing poker for many years. (”Weyall…the boys and I was playin’ poker in Nebraska City one night…”, said in one’s best Western drawl, is one of our favorite family lines, because he was playing poker with the boys in Nebraska City one night, whilst on a business trip…)
Hopefully, one of these days the dotter will learn what a “poker face” is.
After dinner, I was heading out to the kitchen porch for a smoke whilst the dotter cleared the table and chatted with OmegaDad. While I was lighting my ciggie, I heard a crunch-crash-crunch noise; I poked my head out to peer in the direction the noises were coming from. Lo and behold, we had a Mama Moose and Baby Moose chowing down on the cow parsnips in our front yard.
Of course, I had to alert the dotter and OmegaDad, and we spent much time “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing, and OmegaDad managed to dash down to the office, grab the battery charger, run upstairs with it, reload the batteries in the camera, and snap off a few pictures.
The colors are off because it is cloudy and dim right now; the second shot, I believe OmegaDad managed to get some flash into the ambient environment.
So we were delighted and amused (baby doesn’t look too very old to me).
THEN OmegaDad decided to check the veggie garden:
The moose had knocked off our veggie garden covering on one of the veggie beds (you can see the pipes and [just barely] some of the netting behind the bed), and they had mown our chard and beet greens down like machines. Sigh.
They were very luxurious, leafy plants only a few hours ago! The beets themselves are still okay; the moose and baby didn’t eat those. But boy howdy, they really liked the greens! And the big lettuce that we were letting go in the next-over veggie bed. They didn’t touch the celery and carrot greens, though–the devastation stopped where the chard stopped.
I guess it’s time to get out the firecrackers again…
This is Ling, from Karito Kids. Ling is very expensive, like the American Girls dolls.
OmegaDad spotted her first, at the local fancy toy store (very Waldorf-y place…lots of wooden toys, silky dress-up, fabric dolls, that kind of thing). So he showed her to the dotter, who swooned with delight: “She could be my little sister!” Then came the catch: No, we wouldn’t buy it for her. She had to buy it, with her very own money.
Then we hammered out the list of possible ways to make money: Sweep and Swiffer the living room and kitchen twice a week. Unload the laundry chute and sort clothes. Put clothes away after Mommy was done washing and folding them. Brush the dawg. Vacuum the downstairs. Clean the cat box every night.
Then she came up with her very own idea.
OmegaDad, you see, has this…problem…with using his turn signal. In other words, he often forgets. The dotter has noticed this, and is a regular little back-seat driver about it. (She also gives me approval, because I don’t forget the turn signal. Ah, little victories!)
So one or the other of them proposed a deal: If she caught him not using his turn signal while driving, he would give her…
…A DOLLAR!!!…PER WHACK!!!
Um. Now, if I had been consulted before this little dealio went down, I would have put my foot down, and proposed a quarter per offense. However, the first I heard of it was after the deal was pinkie sealed.
The girl is destined to be a wheeler-dealer scam artist, fer shur. Because she made sure that daddy would pick her up from summer camp almost every day–and this was a source of $2, $3, or more per drive! (I told you he had a problem with turn signals!)
Every night, she and OmegaDad would count up the dollars in her Mason jar. Finally, on Friday night, she came bouncing down to the office, where I was watching a YouTube of the Chinese Brittney Spears, Jolin Tsai, shouting out, “How can I make three dollars and fifty cents before tomorrow?!” See, that brass ring was in sight. She wanted Ling so much she ached. She had already created a bed for Ling in her bedroom. She had set up her pseudo-computer (gift from Grandma Jeannie) so that Ling could sit in front of it. She had pulled out her biggest horse, ready for Ling to ride. And all she needed now was $3.50.
So she spent Friday evening in a frenzy–she swept, she Swiffered, she vacuumed, she cleaned the cat box. She got her extra money.
Saturday morning, she grabbed her Mason jar of money:
…and we drove off to the swanky toy store, where she got this huge bag:
And mommy spent half-an-hour releasing Ling from durance vile (aka the packaging). Lemme tell you, this doll is pretty cool. Her head tilts and bends. Her arms and legs have ball-and-socket type joints, so you can move them in more natural style than other big dolls. And, like the American Girls dolls, she comes with a book:
At which point, poor OmegaDotter had to schlep off to her previously arranged sleep-over with A., her best bud from school. OmegaDad and I were instructed to make sure Ling got to bed–in OmegaDotter’s bed, since she wouldn’t be there–and get her up and put her in front of her computer.
I, in the meanwhile, am hoping that we can get more chore-work out of the dotter without major whining–it’s been nice to have her so motivated! There are plenty of accessories for Ling, so we’ll probably be able to get the dotter into the habit of doing chores for weekly allowance.
Today we thinned out the beets. We had two sizes–itty bitty embryonic beets, and almost-beet-sized beets. We ate the mess of embryonic beets, cooked with their greens, and it was yummy. Tomorrow or the next day, we will eat the almost-beet-sized beets.
Sunday, OmegaDad made homemade peach ice cream, brownies, and bread. Saturday, he brought home two pints of the best blueberries I’ve had in ages. It’s been a few days of eatin’ around here!
ETA: Oh! I forgot! Today was the anniversary of the first moon landing. I don’t remember it very well, but do remember watching it at my grandmother’s house down in Jacksonville. We were telling the dotter about it, and she kept asking, “He was the first man ever to walk on the moon?! EVER?!” Then she asked who was the first woman to walk on the moon. We said no woman has ever walked on the moon. Now she wants to be the first. Anyway, in honor of this occasion (warning: language, but quite appropriately inappropriate!):
Life has been busy here, Chez OmegaFamily. I have tales of the China Camp finale, the sad tale of how Ruby the duckling died, the rockin’ and rollin’ earthquake (5.4 magnitude) we had this morning that actually caused me to duck down beneath my desk, the bunny that OmegaDotter and her neighborhood girlfriends found, and further progress on the villa/greenhouse complex.
But right now, I just want to protest.
Remember how I gushed about Mr. L., the elementary school music teacher who is leaving for greener pastures, and how worried I am about who will replace him? Well, we have now encountered a music teacher who is diametrically opposed to him in personality.
I have been taking OmegaDotter in to summer camp around 9 a.m. The first day of the second week of camp, as I chivvied the dotter in to the facility, we were greeted by all the kiddos lined up, hands on their hearts, and a middle-aged battle-axe of a lady playing the national anthem on the piano. Now, I have little against the national anthem aside from the fact that it’s horrible to sing, and it actually makes me sad to hear it played so…so…mechanically is not quite the word I am looking for, but it comes close. Every note played perfectly, but no rhythm, no swing, no soul. Give me a musician who botches notes left and right, but does it with verve and joy any day!
I stood there with the dotter, feeling somewhat awkward, while the kids and counselors sang. Then this lady moved right into a lecture about how it’s our duty to remember all the sacrifices Our Men In The Service have made, and that they have fought for the Right To Sing This Song. And then she led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.
I am not what you would call a highly patriotic person in the normal sense of the word. I really love my country. I love the fact that we change governments every four to eight years with an overall smoothness (in general*), and regard countries such as Italy (which had something like 40 governments within the space of six years at one point) with pop-eyed sympathy and a genteel shudder about the instability of it all. I don’t like totalitarian governments, and cheered with everyone else when the Berlin Wall fell.
But bombastic “My country, right or wrong!”, “America! Love it or leave it!” patriotism just isn’t my schtick.
So Miss Liza has two strikes against her in my book from the get-go: she radiates rigid self-righteous belief in country, and she massacres music. She sets my teeth on edge.
In other words, I took an immediate and violent dislike to the woman.
The problem is, it turns out that she is the “music teacher” for half an hour every morning at camp.
I am hoping and praying that she doesn’t kill all the joy in music for these children while she has them in her oh-so-patriotic clutches.
Today was the dotter’s first day back at her regular summer camp. There was a handout next to the sign-in book. I grabbed one and glanced at it. It was a letter from Miss Liza. It ensured that I think not only is she an uptight bitch who slaughters music, she’s pompous to boot and can’t write well (though she probably thinks she can).
The subject of this letter was first off how “we are gaining an understanding of rhythm and melody, by taking notice of the various applications and integrations, of those two fundamentals”, and how important music is in our lives. So she asks that children bring in a CD each week to share with the class (just part of one song). BUT…Miss Liza will judge the appropriateness of the music, and expects parents to help out by making sure their children avoid music with “inappropriate language, or subject content”. This includes such things as (of course) drugs and alcohol, and also “mutilation” or “death”. THEN she adds that they are “exploring musically the area of service and the effect it has had in shaping our country”, so the kids are asked to bring in pictures of family members who have been in service in some way.
I’m sorry, folks. A lot of these are things that I think are just fine and dandy–that I agree with if presented thoughtfully and allowing questions–but this woman has set my back up and the entire tone of this letter set the hackles on my neck rising. So of course, I had to show it to OmegaDad.
Have I mentioned how much I love this guy?
Y’know why? The very first thing he did after reading it was to tell me we needed a good selection of protest songs to send in with the dotter. Then he googled “protest music for kids”. Then we spent an hour batting around songs that we thought we might be able to get in past the “inappropriate language” taboo (alas, they probably wouldn’t make it past the “mutilation or death” filter). We thought of some classic folk songs from the 30s, war protest songs from the 60s and 70s, I tossed in U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and Midnight Oil.
OmegaDad really wants to do this. I just feel like withdrawing the dotter from camp…
(*Yes, there’s a certain amount of irony in that “we change governments every four to eight years with an overall smoothness” statement coupled with a protest video portraying the Chicago riots in 1968. But–hey. Look. The riots died down, people voted, Nixon won, and America went on. And when Nixon was brought down by Watergate, the country didn’t dissolve into chaos–Jerry Ford moved into the White House, Chevy Chase made a fortune with his “bumbling Jerry” routine on SNL, and America went on. Part of what made it go on–perhaps–were these very protests.)
Name: OmegaMom Home:SouthwestAlaskaSouthwest About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 10-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.