Monday, June 29, 2009


So the weather didn't screw us too badly, the food and the booze were good and plentiful, there was occasional dancing, and my husband conspired with my sister to produce sinfully gorgeous deserts from our favorite place in the general area, including a cake decorated with a nod to his and mine ancient history together. We even had an unexpected, wasn't-on-the-guest-list guest drop by.

I am officially a year older. 35. The age that gets one that coveted designation at the OB's, the kind all the cool girls are after. Advanced maternal age. Yeah, baby.

I am actually mostly joshing there. I sort of expected that I would feel the birthday as a threshold, that it would inspire some kind of contemplation from me, a reflection. That I would feel it deeper than I seem to be feeling it, I guess. So far, though, not so much. I think I like it this way.

Of course, the fact that my grandmother had a minor heart attack in the early hours of Saturday probably contributed to the lack of idle contemplation, brain cells being busy with actual things to worry about and all. She was airlifted to a big hospital, where they got the stent in. She's occasionally cognitively better, recognizing people and inquiring after others (like me), and occasionally worse, as the last of the anesthesia leaves the system and as they are trying to get her new medications right. Overall, not a bad way to have a heart attack, and a definite proof that it's a good thing she's not at home anymore-- we collectively shudder to think of what the same scenario would've looked like had her home health care aids not recognized the signs and hadn't acted quickly enough.

As for the celebration itself, it was just right in tone. The big deal meter hovered comfortably in my safe zone-- well short of either pompous or overly sentimental, but unmistakably in the we're here because of you range. Like I said, just right.

Tell you what, though. I may be older now, but I also have better toys. You know, as a direct result of telling husband exactly what I wanted getting older. Waaay nice toys. My precious.

Sadly, operating my precious seems to require actual skillz, or, at the very least, time invested into reading the crammed little multi-lingual booklet that came with. But since I wasn't bloody likely to read it at the party, I just went ahead and played with it a bit. Here's what I managed to get, in the presentable category:

I'd say that while the subject needs improvement, I really like the resolution and the detail. And this is just fooling around. I can't wait to figure out how to actually drive this here fancy sports car.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Free Your Goat Fridays: Hectic

  It's been that kind of week. It's not over yet. But I did attempt bling, using the image that came with this quaint little British tidbit. Whatdayathink? And be honest, I can take it.

So I will be back with my own tales of goats gotten and freed, later. My goats:

Goat-getter the First, or You would cry too...

My birthday party is tomorrow. Because, you know, it's my birthday tomorrow. One of those big deal ones, divisible by five. I didn't get a birthday party last year (because of all the fun with PTL). Two years ago I cleverly attached JD's and another friend's birthdays to mine, thereby escaping being the subject of celebration/center of attention five short months after my baby died. So this year I wanted a fun party, something easy for us to do, with adult company and dancing (don't ask why, I have no idea. It's not like I look or feel hot. Perhaps I just don't care). We have a nice new wrap around deck that my dad built us last fall (separate story I must tell one day). So the plan was to have a party on the deck, with catered food and dancing by DJ IPod. So did I mention it's been raining here for weeks now? And did I mention the forecast had the rains clearing the hell out of here by Thursday? And did I mention forecast changing gradually to include scattered showers? And then full on rainy forecast? Pretend like I did. And say it with me: ARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goat-getter the Second, or Oh, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

I am generally a fan of Air America Radio, if for no other reason than that Rachel Maddow was a host there before she scored what is now my absolutely favorite news/commentary hour on TV. This is why it upset me so much to see it highlighted in their daily email that one of their hosts had a leading proponent of Intelligent Design (ID) as a guest. It upset me even more to listen to the clip and hear the guest essentially riding roughshod over the genial host, name- and title-dropping, driving home the essential message of the water's fine over here, even people who are not religious fanatics are with us.

Intelligent Design is not science. It's the worst kind of pseudoscience. I say the worst kind because by actively mascaraing as science, it confuses and misleads the public (and children/students in particular-- making my job that much harder) about what science actually is and how science is properly done. The clip of that conversation is 14+ minutes long. Somewhere at minute 12.5, the host finally gets around to offering substantial criticism to the ID proponent, and then not nearly assertively enough. Personally, I would prefer that we not legitimize ID movement by giving its proponents a media stage. At the very least, though, let's not give them an unchallenged stage. Let's not let them pretend that their collection of logical fallacies is a scientifically legitimate viewpoint. I understand that radio hosts may not be knowledgeable enough for a debate like this, but there are scientists (an overwhelming majority of whom accept the multidisciplinary and consistent evidence for evolution and do not begin to see ID as even approaching scientific legitimacy), and there are even journalists experienced and skilled in this debate. So if you find yourself giving in to an irresistible urge to talk to an ID proponent on the air, no matter how charming the proponent, please-please-please call for backup, will ya?

In the mean time, And the floor is yours. What all had your goats this week?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Devil's Dozen

In the Old Country, baker's dozen, 13, is known as devil's dozen, in keeping with the number's status as bad luck of course. I have to say I was never on board with castigating 13. In fact, I am rather a fan.

A devil's dozen years ago, the party was still going pretty good. The ceremony was supposed to be at 3 (invitations said 2:30, to account for Jewish Standard Time), but ended up being slightly later. With the pictures and the cocktail hour, the party didn't get started until close to 6, but six hours later there was our band, playing way past the hour of contractual obligation. The band leader is my aunt and uncle's friend, but still it was way nice of them to stick with us. Particularly considering the discount we got courtesy of the friendship. I've never known time so packed to move so quickly.

A dozen years ago, on our first anniversary, I was supposed to be in another city, at a conference, by myself. In fact giving my talk the very day of the anniversary, so not so much with the skipping possibilities. The first is the paper anniversary. So I left JD a paper gift, in a dresser drawer-- a plane ticket to the Conference City. Before I bought it, I talked to his employer to make sure he could have the day (he worked in a small office, and they were swamped). I told him where to find his gift that morning. We were broke then, so I got the cheapest ticket I could find. It had JD flying in very small planes, very very slowly. It turns out that he ordered flowers for me, to be delivered to the hotel. He ended up delivering them himself. We went downtown to a nice restaurant I remember only vaguely now. The food was good, I remember that. I think it was French.

Five years ago late afternoon-ish I was coming back from a workshop in yet another city. JD picked me up at the airport in a car the lease for which he signed that very day. I was told that Monkey had taken a test drive in it, and that she approved. We had dinner that night in a restaurant we keep meaning to go back to. (Damn, this means we haven't made it back to a place in FIVE years. Exciting lives we lead. On the plus side, though, since I saw the place out the car window not two months ago, it also means the restaurant, which was a new business at the time, has survived for over five years. Good on them.) The next morning I had to be at a hospital by 6am. My friend Natalie was having a C-section, and her husband, a big, tough guy, wasn't sure he could do the delivery room thing without moral support. He did fine, though he forgot his camera in the before-and-after room. Hence, I was the one to take the first pictures of the little guy.

Four years ago it was JD's turn to start the day elsewhere. He was in the City Where I Hate to Drive. I was driving up to meet him after his conference session for dinner and a play. I had a nice dress with me, and I was driving my shiny new five week old car. With a stick shift. Which feature was half the point of getting that car-- I've had it with the tyranny of the automatic transmission, aka my otherwise exceptionally beloved previous car. I left home in what was supposed to be plenty of time, and for a while it looked like I was even going to be early. But then there was traffic, and I was getting nervous and pissy. And trying to change lanes at the traffic light, I scratched another car, one that, it seems, was sitting much farther to the left than I estimated. Yup, with my own, barely five week old car. When I finally made it to the hotel, I got ready faster than I remember ever getting ready for a fancy evening out. Record time, I tell you. We still made it to dinner (cab), though I think we skipped appetizers. That was so we could make the show. Which we liked. Though not as much as the show we saw the next day, having bought the tickets based on nothing more than "this sounds interesting" and the fact that they still had tickets the day of. We sat in the first row for that one.

Tonight, now that my sister and BIL, themselves married a year and a day and gracefully sharing their anniversary cake (gotten from whence their actual wedding cake came from-- sneaky, I know, and a hell of a lot smarter than keeping a cake in the freezer for a year, no?), have left for their own humble abode, I am the only adult in the house. The first time in thirteen years we are for real not together on our anniversary. JD is coming back tomorrow, and a make-up celebration is in the works. I thought I was going to be fine. I told him I was going to be fine. And I am completely and totally fine. But I have to admit that it feels weird not to have JD here today. What do you think-- a force of habit? ;)

It's past midnight now, as I finish writing. So happy day-after-anniversary to us! (And I am off to catch some Zzzzzs.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Free Your Goat Fridays: Still Blingless

Yes, it's that day of the week again, the day, I know, you've all been waiting for. We'll let the uninitiated think that the excitement is all about the weekend ahead, the laundry piling up in anticipation of all the copious free time you think you will have during said weekend, or all of your planned outside activities, that, if you live in my city, are sure to be rained out. Unlike the uninitiated, though, we know the truth-- the excitement is all about the impending arrival of the second installment of Free Your Goat Fridays. And what do you know-- it's not impending anymore-- it has arrived. Feel free to cheer now.

Yes, we are still blingless, but let not that deter you from setting your goats free. Tell us what got your individual goats this week, and let them roam free!

Here are mine.

Goat-getter the First, or No shit, are you syndicated?

This one's short and sour. I purchased some toys over these here interwebs. Bath toys, to be exact. The kind Monkey loved to pieces all those many years ago. It seems they are not as popular now, and I could only find a couple of online retailers that carry them, no physical store in my area. So what was I rewarded with for my trouble? As is customary, retailer sent me a confirmation email. As is less customary (I hope), this particular retailer distinguished its email with this gem:

Thank You for your purchase and enjoy. Please visit us again as we will be adding new products. Cherish your children as Life's Greatest Gift.

No, really, faceless online retailer? You think I don't? Cherish my children? Or maybe I do, but not enough to fit the Life's Greatest Gift (note capitalization-- all that's missing is the TM symbol) criterion? Or do you think that all that stands between me and cherishing my children as prescribed is your aptly placed advice in imperative mood? Grrrrrr.....

Oh, and ETA: And, is it, dear retailer, mandatory for one to have living children, to, you know, cherish as prescribed, in order to buy bath toys? What if, and stop me if you've never considered this, the one making the purchase is a battle-weary infertile or a bereaved parent, buying yet another gift for yet another baby shower? You think maybe, if you feel entitled to dispense this particular flavor of unsolicited advice, you might also be so kind as to ship, by way of a free gift with purchase, a child or three, to, you know, cherish?

Goat-getter the Second, or Oh, we find it cozy

My office, the one we moved into. The furniture is still not there. The shelves are there, but not secured, and we can't unpack our boxes because we can't be sure at what height to place the shelves without seeing them in relation to our desks. Which, we heard today, are not going to be arriving until Tuesday. Which will make it just over two weeks since we moved. So we are working on some tables that we dragged in, barricaded among the many boxes the three of us own. Yiiiihaa! Yes, that was one of the reasons why I decided to go visit my parents this week.

So? Your goats? Will you share? Mine are free, but oh, so lonely.

P.S. The lack of bling is the situation I hope to remedy by next Friday. Provided, of course, I am not just talking to myself here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Bodies in Motion

This was Sunday-- Monkey's end of year gymnastics show. Her last year as a "civilian."

It's Level 4 in the fall, complete with team leotards, matching warm-up suits, and, and this is the key, actual trophy-awarding competitions. It also comes with nine hours of practice a week, starting in September, and twelve a week July and August.

She couldn't be more thrilled. JD couldn't be more ambivalent-- it's a lifestyle, admittedly, and he's not looking forward to being sucked into it. I am deeply philosophical. She's been waiting for this, working for this, for years now. She's having a ball, and she is learning all kinds of things any kid, and more so a risk-averse by nature kid, could really use in life. And did I mention that she's loving it? If she ever stops loving it, if it becomes a chore, we'll walk away, grateful for all she's learned and all she's become. In the meantime, my feeling is you go, girl!

Right now, though, we have half a week of no school, no camp, and JD out of the country again. So tonight we are leaving on the jet plane too. Destination: half (ok, more like a third) way across the country, my parents' house. I was promised some alone time, by which I mean time with my computer. I hope to put it to productive use, both work- and reader-wise.

P.S. The Cub began making his acquaintance with gym equipment this weekend, and so far he seems to like. Since he might find himself spending a good bit of time there, I am declaring it a good thing.

Reminder: if you are inexplicably missing some goats already this week, remember that Friday, and your opportunity to set your personal oppressed animals free, is just around the corner.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Introducing: Free Your Goat Fridays

Friends! Readers! Passers By!

I come today to offer freedom to your goats. Yes, goats. Those hard-working, self-sacrificing and nearly always under-appreciated guardians of your mental well-being. Think about it-- how often does someone or something get your goat? You are on the internet, so likely not infrequently. And the goat? It goes to be gotten, never even a bleat of complaint. Because that's the way they roll, these noble animals-- taking one for the team. Because you know, it's either "this really gets my goat" or "this really gets me," and the goats? They bear the brunt.

And I know what you'll say-- seemingly every time you get your goat back, or give up and purchase a new goat, someone new comes along to get it. I feel your pain, I do. But think of the poor animal!

So isn't it time we started treating our goats more humanely? A small start, perhaps, say giving them at least an hour or two off a week?

How? Glad you asked.

It is my contention that by sharing what it is that got your goat, you will set him free. Until, of course, the next round. But perhaps the goat can relax in the meantime, no?

So, c'mon, it's Friday, which must mean you have some excellent goat stories from the week just wrapping up. Big stories, little stories, doesn't much matter. Share them here, and set your goat free. Go into the weekend with less poundage on your chest and your bearded four-legged companion trudging peacefully by your side.

I'll start.

I have for you not one, but two goat-getting tales. One a small annoyance that got my professional and parenting goats in one strategically-aimed sentence, and the other-- a repeat auditory offender that has had my IF goat tied up in the corner for days now.

Goat-getter the First, or Ignorance Club Presents

We do not often go to fast food places. But last year Monkey discovered that ZOMG, they give out TOYS there. With, you know, kids meals. So now when we travel by car, she asks to stop at a fast food joint to get chicken nuggets and whatever plastic crap comes with. Last time we did this, she got an actually kinda-cute remote-controlled Wii character. Not bad, thought I, until, that is, I read the product insert.

My poor goat-- it didn't have a chance.

Do you see it? There, right above Boo's head, the part that talks about magically propelling him forward. Because, of course, magnets work by magic, don't you know?

All that observable phenomena thing, explained by physics and described by equations? That's all for N-E-R-D-S, nerds. And it won't do filling our children's heads with that kinda nonsense. Especially the girls, our precious princesses. Perish the thought!

Whew, I feel better already.

Goat-getter the Second, or From the We Didn't Even Get to Try Files

There's a commercial for a charitable event running on the progressive radio station in my area. Performance to benefit a good cause. So the commercial is read by the local semi-famous comedian, who will be MCing the thing. He tells us all the good reasons to go, and the good causes the thing will benefit. So far, so good. And then-- perhaps to fill the 30 second slot, I don't know,-- he goes on about how this is a great Father's Day gift, and how we should all bring notable fathers in our lives. Already thin ice for the fatherless and the infertile, sure, but the man's got a few more seconds, and, I hasten to add, not a clue. Because what does he say next but... drumroll.....

"Not a father? Conceive before Father's Day, and come to the show!"

Because, clearly, all the infertile couples you know, they are not conceiving for shits and giggles.

So there-- my goats are off to pasture. Please don't leave me here all alone with them. I mean, I like them and all, but they are not very chatty. So, your turn-- what has gotten your goats lately?

(P.S. If this works, I will make this a regular feature. And might even make a snazzy bling thing for it. No pressure, of course... :))

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A day

Around here, today was a day like any other day. Well, not exactly, as it wandered a bit into both the wow (Monkey's class project presentation fair-- damn, but those first graders are impressive; and major credit to the teachers-- DUH!) and the absurd (office move at work going not entirely smoothly). But what of it wasn't either good or usual was all manageable, and we managed. It was just a day.

My thoughts wandered today, more than a few times and clear across the continent, to where I knew the day was anything but ordinary. And from there to a year ago, and also to 28 months ago.

After A died, JD spent some time at Monkey's piano, learning to play Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel. He doesn't usually play the piano-- he's a guitar man. Plus, the left hand part on that is not at all easy. So he learned the right hand part, slowly and deliberately, repetitively, filling the house with melancholy sounds of the notes, one at a time, twisting together, falling in place to make the familiar melody.

Ha in Hebrew is the definite article, which makes the title be The Hope, meaning not exactly congruous with the melody. The melody is plaintive, sorrowful even, moving into something like defiant. Not exactly your standard issue triumphant or even assertive, it's really yearning mixed with determination, made manifest in notes. It takes a particular type of life experience, or a particular type of historical identity, to call that hope.

I didn't really understand why JD was so thoroughly stuck on Hatikva then. It seemed to me that the words (the meaning of which I learned many years before, and which are about the longing of a people for the land of its long-ago history) were not relevant. In fact, I rather thought they made it an odd choice of a song to be stuck on just then. I think I get it now. I think the common thread connecting the words of the song and our life in the immediate aftermath is the yearning for a way of life, geopolitical or personal, whatever the case may be.

A year ago it was T-12 days to my sister's wedding. I was happy to have the AC in the house working again, allowing me to institute the sub-polar temperatures regime that kept me just this side of human for the rest of the summer. I was also talking about how emotionally taxing the subsequent pregnancy gig had turned out to be.

Across the country, that same day saw the birth of a beautiful baby girl. Tikva, whose name, of course, means hope, entered the world already loved beyond measure, and was welcomed by her family, and by the doctors who were waiting to try to help her. Today Tikva would've been one. Sadly, she is not here today to smear cake and make faces. Instead, today her family marks her birthday, and begins to walk through the days and weeks of Tikva's life, one year on. They could likely use support along the way, so please stop by and listen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Some weeks fly by like a bullet train. Some drag on while simultaneously not leaving me any room to breathe, kinda like what I imagine quicksand might be like, in a slow version. And some weeks, insanely, are some fucked up superimposition of the two. Those are decidedly least fun of all.

How is it possible that this

was already a full week ago?

That was the day after the evening of Monkey working very hard to keep the secrets of the card she'd already made for JD and of the challah I had stashed in the garage for making french toast in the morning. She pulled that off, and hooray for her. But that was only the beginning-- there was still the matter of the cake we were planning to bake between her early dismissal (most conveniently coinciding Jewish holiday EVAH) and her gymnastics practice.

Cake that involved melting chocolate, separating eggs, beating them separately, and then folding.

Which technique not only makes for pretty pictures, but also works to impress the hell out of a seven year old.

And then... THEN she had to keep the secret of the cake between when JD picked her up after practice and when they got home. Which she did. Can I have some props for my girl?

It turned out incredibly yummy, by the by. We used Splenda baking mix instead of straight sugar, and for the glaze sugar-free (Splenda-sweetened) fake maple syrup, only because I couldn't talk myself into actually voluntarily using corn syrup.

The week before the actual day of the birthday was doing the sand thing. It wasn't just the prep, though that was headache enough, what with Birthday, Extended Edition looming seemingly without end-- family thing, featuring cake, day of; friends over for BBQ next day; hike the day after; and yet-to-happen coming-up-this-Saturday official party (during a camping trip, natch) together with the other Gemini in our close group of friends.

Anyway, the week since has also featured the train, for my favorite superimposed effect. Each day seems long, full of this, that, and a whole bunch of other things, half of which I don't even manage to get to. But the week seems to have sped by, leaving me now staring at yet another weekend.

We did go for a day hike last Saturday, though. Including this guy.

And we found this guy

right in the middle of the trail.

We didn't make it all the way to the top, but we did achieve about a 600ft change in elevation, and made it to where we could see this.

And on the way back down the mountain I tricked Monkey into talking about fractions. Yes, I am a nerd, but in my defense she started it with her talk about how many months have passed since her birthday and how old that makes her, exactly.

I haven't hiked in forever, but I kept up. Which, given my current weight (ridiculously high) and my current shape (round, duh!) is impressive, even if JD was carrying a whole lotta baby there. Oh, and my shoes don't exactly fit like a dream anymore. Though, ironically, I did much more damage to my feet the next day, going for a nice long walk in my flip flops. Trust me-- you don't want to know what they looked like after or what we had to do that evening or the next to improve the situation.

This concludes excuse to post pretty pictures the world's most boring post. I intended to talk about how and why I've been so unsettled the last couple of weeks, but I am thinking it will have to wait-- my pillow is telling me it's feeling lonely and neglected.

Oh, wait-- one last thing. My sister and I saw the man of Bon's dreams in concert last weekend. ZOMFG! That's all.