Thursday, April 19, 2007

H2O Gone Mad

They make protein water? Is this because of the low-carb diets out there? Well, even in those plans, regular consumption of plain water is considered important.

But protein water? Somehow all I can do is mentally picture meat floating around in water. However, it comes in fruit flavors. Is it just me or is there something very wrong with this concept?

I think just standard water is just fine, thanks.

Turning a Blind Eye

I refuse to watch the video or hear the audio of the manifesto of the Virginia Tech shooter. My 15 year-old was talking about how they released his stuff in the media this morning after NBC, the only network to directly receive the video ran it on the news last night. I told her she was simply not allowed to see it. She was annoyed at me for taking this choice away from her, even though she didn't want to see it. I just need to lay out my reasons for her and rant a bit.

One: It's wrong to air his video in the first place. The networks are playing a game with the public for ratings. I don't agree in suppression of the media, in general, but I also believe NBC should have truly examined the value in their offering. There was no value in releasing this and, in retrospect, it should be clear there was nothing to lose by NOT showing it. The outlets that follow on their heels release this junk are just looking for numbers. We should hear about why this sort of sad thing happened but to hear the self-righteous rantings of this young man is going too far.

Two: The shooter was clearly mentally ill and his rantings are the creation of a mind that sees conspiracy everywhere and the world like a riding bull trying to buck him no matter what he did. There will be those disenfranchised individuals who will consider his manifesto as some kind of valid statement about the status of their own lives.

Three: No matter what you say about his mental health, it's what he wanted and you just can't give that to him or people like him. He took time between shootings to mail off this package, it was clearly as important that his video be aired as it was that he take down as many people as possible in the process.

Four: I'm your mother and I said so. Yeah, I'm pulling out that old trick.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sketchy Details

For Easter, my kids got an assortment of candy (including the obligatory chocolate bunnies), silly toys, slipper socks, sketch books, and a large supply of ordinary mechanical pencils each. Sketch books fill-up fast around here. At 6:30 a.m., my 15 year old decided to depict her Easter morning in her new sketch book. With some modifications, it could be considered a reasonably accurate depiction of last Christmas morning too.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Recycling Easter

My 10 year-old daughter made these little lava lamps for her blog so I decided to "borrow" them for mine. I like how the little blobs of wax bubble up and then break off to float to the top. Very clever, kiddo!
Easter is tomorrow. We are going against tradition and having a BBQ dinner instead of the standard ham, etc.. My husband usually threatens to order pizza on major holidays because he doesn't believe the time and hassle is necessarily worth the effect of an enormous meal. However, just ask him what he thinks of me buying the dozens of cookies and sweet treats I traditionally make during the various holidays.

One of the traditions of Easter I remember as a child is getting a new basket every year--the kind with the long, flimsy handle. These were the kind that usually fall apart and have very little use outside holding the holiday haul. Every few years when my parents would have a yard sale, the baskets would come out and sell for something like a dime.

When I had kids, the bunny brought them holiday standards. When they were tiny they got those plastic toy wagons, beach pails and the like. One year, however, the bunny brought my kids some really nice sturdy wooden baskets. They were pink and purple and not necessarily baskets that would find everyday use. However, they were sturdy and very
So, the following year, we shredded some recyclable papers, put this filling in the baskets and set them out for the bunny to fill. They have been reusing these for years, much like a Christmas stocking. The fact that we aren't contributing to landfills is a bonus.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Primrose Path

I'll admit it. I've never seen American Idol. I don't watch reality TV either. I did watch the first season of survivor because I erroneously believed that it would be educational. People learning to survive and live in harmony with nature -- what could be wrong with that? Yikes.

I logged on today and my Yahoo homepage had articles about American Idol, asking me if I was shocked. Nothing shocks me anymore. Yesterday it was an article about how Brittany Spears left rehab and wants privacy. I don't care about Brittany, ok? I don't care about celebrities in general. I don't care who is making a fool of themselves in public. I don't care what overpaid star does in his/her private time. But you just can't dodge this junk.

I've done marketing research on various products and services and I know that people make financial choices that mirror that of the stars. These people don't want to think their own thoughts or make choices based on principle. They want to believe in a fantasy lifestyle because that is what helps them sleep at night. Is some star adopting a baby from a foreign country? Then they want that too. These are life-altering decisions and they are based on emulating people who aren't public figures because of their contribution to the betterment of mankind but because of how they look in tight jeans.

I can see that I have ranted. Even the primrose path is looking battered.

Now I'm looking for a new homepage. I liked Yahoo because it allowed me to see big news stories and do a comprehensive search from their main page. But most of those stories aren't news. They are fluff or trash. What I want in a home page is categorized news, a major search engine on that page, and a customizable weather section. Maybe I should start exploring RSS feeds from my favorite places. I'd like real news though. I don't mean just the hard stuff. I like public interest stories but not the garbage that tells us what to think and newsflashes that equate to using basic common sense.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Pis Have It

Today is Pi Day. I am one of those crazy math people who will embrace just about anything mathematical. I just can't help it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Stephen Hawking is going on a Zero Gravity flight to experience weightlessness. I want to go too! Sure, sure, it would be great to step on the scales during that flight. ("I've experienced 100% weight loss!") But, truly, I'm thinking it would be an absolute blast to try out the experience shared only by astronauts, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon. The Zero Gravity company who does these little jaunts is letting the other seats on Hawking's flight be occupied by the winners of charity auctions. So, I'm doomed.

I don't like charity auctions. I do like charities and I like them helping people, sure. But I prefer charity raffles. Most people can manage to afford a chance at something really spectacular but not everyone can afford to one-up someone with both the desire and the means to get it. When I do non-profit works, I always give a preference toward raffles for the really good stuff. It gives people the chance to dream instead of scoff at their position in life. If someone has the means, I suppose they could pull a Veruca Salt and likely get their way. In such cases, the winner is still always the charity.

So I guess I won't be making that flight with Hawking. This is quite alright, of course, because I couldn't find one of his books that I had checked out from the library for quite some time once. I'll consider this a penance for keeping it long past the due date.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sick Day

Lolly is home sick watching the Scorpion episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. I forgot John Rhys-Davies was playing Leonardo Da Vinci in those episodes. When I pointed out that the actor playing Da Vinci also plays Gimli in The Lord of the Rings movies, she was delighted. What a geek! A chip off the old blockheads!

We're eating ramen noodles for lunch. When you're sick, the stuff can taste like a gourmet feast.

When I first heard about the recent peanut butter recall of a brand-name product, I was smug. "Ha! See, brand names don't mean something is better or safer!" I worked in a grocery store at one time and knew that the brand-name manufacturers also packaged under other labels. I knew this and I still smirked.

Yesterday I made a batch of peanut butter cookies and reminded myself of this smug attitude. I didn't bake them all so I had the dough stashed in my fridge. Today when I got out the dough to finish baking, I heard more news about the recall. Great Value brand was also recalled. Darn it, that's the brand they sell at Wal-Mart! I looked on my jar and, sure enough, it was the very same. It had the product code indicated in the recall.

I texted Sid to let me know how she was doing. When I took out the supposedly unopened jar of peanut butter from the cupboard, I noticed it had been opened. She probably opened it herself in the last day or two (ignoring the TWO already opened ones in the cupboard). I know this because I recognize her finger swipe in the otherwise untouched surface inside. Leave it to her, she who rejects peanut butter as a sandwich filling, to eat a raw finger full from a jar of the recalled stuff. I'm just glad that her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis isn't being treated like her dad's RA, with immuno-suppressants. She's ok though. Apparently, there wasn't anything actually wrong with it though. Lucky her.

Eww...the dead borg are disgusting. Sorry. I just forgot this episode was kind of gross. Yay! The Voyager crew are safely escaping despite the premonitions of a frighteningly psychic crew member (this is her swan song episode anyway).

Lots to do. Got to run. Janeway rules!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bamboo Blabbing

The house I grew up in had quite a large patch of bamboo. It surrounded the large covered deck. It was probably planted as a privacy screen at some point before my parents bought the house. But it grew so fast that we could practically watch it grow. It became a burden because it had to be cut often. I remember my parents trying unsuccessfully to destroy it.

Of course, today, that bamboo would be embraced. Its many uses outweigh it as a burden. I'm considering planting a small amount in my yard. People eat bamboo shoots, make it into paper, and use it in construction. I knew it was used as a new sustainable flooring product but only recently found out it's being made into sheets similar to plywood. It's called plyboo.

I know one of its uses is as firewood. I wonder how long it has to dry before being burned. How much would a family have to grew to use as firewood to heat a home during the winter? Can it be made into pellets for pellet stoves? So many questions.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


When I was a kid I hated spelling. Despite this, I managed to win an award for it. In first grade, the teacher offered an enticement to do well in the subject. Every year she awarded a trophy to the person with the best marks in spelling during the year. The winner, she told us, would have to have perfect marks in spelling all year. Then she showed us the trophy. It sparkled in the morning sun. I was taken in by the glint and glamor and studied my words every single week.

Since I am neither a naturally good speller nor particularly dedicated to scheduling myself, I often wonder who that six year-old was. I had learned that studying the words a few times during the week was all it took. The words didn’t really stay in my brain longer than the test though. After my first grade year, I slacked off a bit, allowing myself to miss words now and again.

Then came the fourth grade. Our teacher, instead of selecting her best spellers for the all-school bee, as had been tradition, had a mock spelling bee right there in class. I stood there as round after round of students were asked to sit down. I seemed to get only simple words. Instead of being astonished by my good luck as I were asked to spell words that were easy (like, literally, easy), I was terrified. I had to put in my best effort. I mean, the teacher wasn’t going to believe I couldn’t spell flower. But the list of standing students dwindled down to two and I was one of them.

I could picture myself on stage in front of the school making a mockery of the whole spelling competition. “Who does this girl think she is, spelling with the best and the brightest?” I could hear the judges saying when they heard my pathetic attempts at successful (or was it sucessful or succesful?) I had to throw it. There was no other way out.

“Your word is fudge.”

(But I KNOW that one)



“Fudge, f…u… (should I or shouldn’t I)….d-g….e, fuge.”

“I’m so sorry.” She was, I could tell.

The last kid watched me bungle it. It was obvious he knew that I had messed it up on purpose. He was, of course, incredulous that anyone could do that. So he spelled fudge correctly, seeming to exude the sweet and comforting concept behind the word with every letter. Now THAT was a spelling champion. I don’t know who was more happy about his victory, him or me. From that day on, I vowed that public spelling was behind me.

My youngest daughter is in the gifted program at her school. As such she has the task of learning difficult spelling words. She brought her spelling home last week as homework.

“What’s prostrate mean?”

“Oh that, I use that word every day. You should know that.”

“Mom, I need to do this for school.” Bam, completely ignored, shut-out.

My husband, the man I married for his vocabulary ability alone, gave a hand. “You don’t mean prostate, do you.”

“No!!” She knew it was a slight.

She knew what prostate meant?

He gave her a working sentence to illustrate the meaning of prostrate and she made up her own sentence for her homework.

A few days later, I was at the school popping popcorn for the PTA and ran into one of the teachers. She had a little gem about my daughter. I braced myself to hear it. The kids were giving each other the spelling test, she told me. The girl with the word list had mispronounced the word prostrate, substituting the word prostate. The kids didn't react to this, they just wrote out the word. Lolly was the only one overtaken by a fit of the giggles.

“Nobody understands my humor.”

“I do.”


“I like your humor.”

“The kids at school all think its dumb.”

My husband says they just don’t get it yet. It’s like telling the tallest girl in the class that being tall is just temporary. Though she knows that the other kids will catch-up, the tallest girl still thinks that her height is the worst thing in the world. She imagines herself growing at break-neck speed, her only option in adult life being the circus.

Lolly is like the tall girl but without the growth spurt. She’s the kid who, when adults make a comment that's some kind of disguised insult--sarcasm, understands what they meant and knows to feel insulted. While she may seem a bit socially awkward, somewhere in her head, she really knows what's going on. We tell her that the kids in her class will "get" her humor eventually. But, to Lolly, it’s the circus for her.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Me, Waving Outloud

Hi Mom and Dad (who, I'm sure, is or will be reading this outloud). Yes, I have a blog on the web. It's been here for about two years now.

What's that? You would have liked to know that you could read my stuff at some time before now? Yeah, I know but I wouldn't have wanted to disappoint you by not posting for months at a time. For, example, count the number of posts in 2006. It wasn't pretty.

I decided that, before releasing knowledge of a web presence to you, my only fans, I would want to make certain I would post regularly. Since you know my phone number, I knew you'd bother me about it and then I'd feel guilty about not posting. But don't you feel good now? I mean, now you've got all of this to read through and it will keep you modestly entertained for a while.

Also, I need to apologize. Dad, I know you didn't eat cardboard as a kid. You may be confused by this apology now but you won't be if you read my blog. And, Mom, I know you wouldn't be shocked by my fictional phone call from the Almighty. I remember you talking to God a lot when I was a kid. Usually the conversation started with "God, please...." and ended with " straighten out that rotten son/daughter of mine, but certainly not the oldest twin. She's THE BEST."

The kids are good (despite mild illness), the dog is shedding and, no, I don't know what I'm fixing for dinner but we'll probably throw something together that's not phlegm-inducing.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


And, lo, the four horsement were sighted, the seventh seal was broken and David Lee Roth rejoined Van Halen.

Friday, February 2, 2007

What Would Dumbledore Do?

We'll miss Harry Potter when the series ends.

Proprietary Technology: The New Barbie Doll

I had several Barbie dolls as a child. I fondly remember receiving Malibu Barbie, a "remote control" Barbie car, and a Barbie pool as gifts. There was the shaving Ken doll too – a heat activated color changing plastic coating allowed his beard to appear or disappear depending on the temperature of the water used on his foam razor. However, no matter how many clothes she had, my Barbie's wardrobe seemed too limited. The cost of a nice Barbie outfit was nearly as much as a new doll. And every doll came with a new outfit. Essentially, it seemed, the doll was free.

You could try to sort of make other doll clothes fit your Barbie but they never worked. It was also insane to try an sew Barbie clothes yourself. The fabric would fray itself into oblivion. So you were forced into paying ridiculous prices for outfits to make playing with your Barbie fun.

This was my first lesson in proprietary technology—the concept that technology and components aren’t necessarily compatible across the board, forcing consumers to spend more money for brand new, specially designed components. While tiny Barbie outfits and molded plastic dolls could hardly be considered technology, the consumer appeal of accessorizing the latest gadget or gizmo is equivalent to expanding the wardrobe of a Barbie.

My 15 year-old daughter received a new cell phone for Christmas. We have various reasons for allowing her to carry a phone. She began with a prepaid phone — no great loss if it went missing. Then we stepped her up to an extension of our own phone plan. Since she had been so responsible with that phone and since her 6 month old MP3 player was malfunctioning, we decided to get her a new phone. We were renewing our contract anyway and got it for a very nice price. The new phone functions as a phone and MP3 player. It’s sleek and beautiful.

Lucky me, I got her old phone. It was actually better than mine. Until the kids are grown up and moved away, I’m going to be getting their technology hand-me-downs.

This new phone came with little earbuds that she didn’t like. We figured she’d use the really nice headphones she bought with her own money a few weeks beforehand. However, the funny little flat plug on the earbuds looked strangely alien to us. We soon discovered that the headphone jack will only fit headphones that are Bluetooth compatible. It was like we had mistakenly bought her a transvestite Ken to go with an existing Barbie wardrobe. There's no way Ken would fit into Barbie's size 2s.

The fantastic phone now only really acts as a secondary MP3 player to her. Instead, she uses her computer to play music, tethered to it with her beloved headphones. At least the phone is sleek and beautiful. It is so beautiful that she has to be extra cautious and keep it safely stashed just in case someone’s admiration of her phone extends into criminal aspirations.

Nobody said it was easy to have the latest thing. It’s just that nobody ever said it was this hard.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Random Thoughts

I'm still plotting my story between working on bits of other projects. However, last night as I was fitfully trying to drift off to sleep I had a brilliant idea pop into my head. I do keep paper and pen next to my bed in case I wake up with inspiration or a really interesting dream I don't want to forget. However, my idea was so amazingly brilliant that there was simply no way it could slip from my mind's grasp.

Yeah, right.

It's all a bit of a foggy blur. The only part of my stroke of genius I can now remember is how great I thought it was. I'm trying not to be too upset though. It may have been one of those ideas that only seemed good because I was drowsy and my mind hadn't reflected on how it would sound outside of my head.

It's Thursday and that means it's almost Friday which means Saturday will come soon. I've slated myself a deadline of Saturday for all major plot points to be completed (at least as much as they will be before I decide I need to tidy up the story a bit and scrap half of it).

I dreamed about a wonderful movie last week. Unlike last night's inspiration, I actually have notes about the movie. It starred Catherine Zeta Jones and Julianne Moore. It was brilliant casting, if I don't mind bragging. I never really considered writing movie scripts before. No! I've got to finish something I've started -- or at least the plotting. I need to finish the book I'm working on first.


Our dog, who never gets on furniture except Cassidy's bed when she's been invited, was found asleep on the couch this morning. I have no idea what inspired her migration from the floor.


It's the first of February. J.K. Rowling announced the release date of the final book in the Harry Potter series as July 21. That will be the 10th anniversary of the first book's publication. It's like the end of an era. I kind of wish it were pushed off a bit further into the year. I like the idea of kids hanging onto their imaginings of Harry's fate just a bit longer. She's a great writer, don't get me wrong, and her story has made kids around the world into readers. I guess I just like the idea of Harry's world being an imaginary place that kids visit. I hate the idea of seeing the loose ends tied up. Half of the fun in the Potter books was the debate and discussion over what was really going on and what would happen next.

Maybe I should have more faith in her. If anyone knows what kids' imaginations need, it's the author of the most compelling book series ever.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Itching to Stitch

I worked on some sewing projects over the weekend. Among them was sewing a new wallet for my husband. I'm so proud of the new wallet! I made this wallet tutorial detailing the correct procedure for reproducing this wallet. It took me longer to put the tutorial together than it did for me to sew the thing, even though I ripped out most of my stitches after noticing a vital mistake. Now I'll be able to follow my own directions for a new one when he needs it. I was thinking of making some wallets, purses, totes, etc. to sell at the farmer's market in the spring. We'll see if I manage.

Learning to sew has been interesting and fun. Its been really nice to see that this is a skill for which I seem to have a knack. I like trying to figure out how to make things according to my mental picture of them. Sometimes I can find the patterns that are very close to the end product I'm imagining. Usually though, I have to either alter a regular pattern or create my own.

Last winter my kids picked out purple leopard skin fabric to make into a dog coat. This was important because our dog is the color of dirty snow and blends in a bit too well.

This year for Christmas, I made my niece and nephew on my husband's side each a custom stocking. Both were inspired by stockings I've seen on the web. However, I forgot to take pictures of them. Luckily, my sister-in-law snapped some photos for me. Here they are, Ballerina Stocking and Monster Stocking:

Now Lolly wants a monster stocking. I should have known. She can use the sewing machine but it's usually put away so it doesn't occur to her that she could use it if she asked. (Out of site, out of mind, I guess.) But get out the machine and her eyes light up, a maniacal grin spreads across her face and the fabric scraps pull themselves deeper into their storage bins. She has 50million little projects milling around in her head. I'm almost afraid of setting her loose on the world with the capacity to sew.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Lolly was upset this morning. She was doing a good job at covering it up but I can see she's nearing her upsetment quota -- that mental state at which she can no longer ignore a lingering social problem. Yesterday, a "gang" of 4th grade girls decided they were both the fashion police and the naming authority. The head gang member approached Lolly with some things to discuss.

Lolly doesn't care what she wears. I let her wear whatever she wants as long as it is sufficiently modest, isn't completely full of holes and it's clean. She even ENJOYS thrift store clothes. Except for the time she tried to get me to buy her a wetsuit, it's been fantastic finding her unique things at secondhand stores. She's an unconventional kid and she doesn't follow the laws of fashion because it's just silly to look like everyone else.

I enjoy modest veto authority throughout the year but I try not to push my opinion unless there's a need. If it's simply not my taste, that's not an issue. I do, however, require her to wear a reasonably matching modern-ish outfit whenever it's the first week or school or she's visiting a doctor for the first time. I want her to look presentable for teachers and doctors. Before she or I open our mouths, I want the first impression to be that this is a child who conforms to expectations. A good first impression is always important, even if it’s completely inaccurate. After that, Lolly's quirkiness is more acceptable.

As a girl who isn't into the current definition of "fashion," it didn't bother Lolly when the head of this clique of girls was chatting her up about her enormous blue boots. But when the girl asked Lolly's name, she wanted to know why her mother would name her Lolly. That annoyed her. (I secretly giggled when she told me the story--this has got to be one of the 40 girls in the school named Emily or Ashley.) She said she was ignoring the girl but I could feel it. She could ignore her, but not for much longer. Then she would say something. Let's just say that some of Lolly's comebacks take a while for kids to understand.

Actually, her mother didn't name her Lolly. Her parents named her Lauren. Lauren's mother, who was under the influence of various pain management medications after having Lauren agreed when her husband suggested "Lolly" as a nickname for their newborn. It really stuck.

She'll get over this conversation about her name. She'll continue to ignore this little girl's comments and we'll continue to campaign on the part of greater ignorance. But one day, probably when she's about 14, she'll dramatically declare that her name is Lauren,not Lolly. "Oh, so you want to be a walking cliche?" we'll, say, "That's fine."

And we'll endure several years of attempting to correct ourselves when we address her.

This is somewhat similar to Cassidy's naming dilema. Being our first, we had lots of time to read through baby name books. We selected her name because it was Irish and meant "clever." We knew it was traditionally a boy's name but didn't care because we’d never heard it used before. We thought that she would probably never meet another Cassidy in her life. Then Kathy Lee Gifford had a daughter and, let me say, that ended the whole unique name revolution for our eldest.

There were Kassidys and Cassidies around every corner. We've never called her "Cass." She was nearly out of grade school before her permanent nickname took hold. CaSIDidy became Sid. Most people don't call her Sid though, which is just fine. She was annoyed at her new nickname, initially. But it fit a need that was there. Now she accepts and even likes it. Maybe it's because you can't shout out the name Sid with the same dramatic flare as when you emphasize the different syllables in Cassidy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Easiest Listening

I can't carry a tune. This has been a real dilemma for me in life. Everyone needs a method of expressing themselves artistically. Music can make people feel a range of emotions from inspired and introspective to despondent and depressed. My music is a different story. It doesn't create emotions, per se, but something vaguely similar to mortal pain.

I play no instrument except the one or two songs I've memorized from my electric keyboard's lesson files. I cannot sing, having such a limited range that it's in negative figures. I have, however, learned the fine art that is lip synching. As a kid being short meant that I was always in the front row in choir and nobody was directly in front of me to hear the lack of sound actually emerging from my body.

I can hear unique tunes in my head and imagine them played outloud but I can't get them outside of my head, for the world to hear. It's like those artistic things I envision but have no artistic skill to accomplish. Sometimes I feel frustrated by my complete inability to express myself artistically. I can see or hear things in my head but I can't get them out. It's likely that they only retain their intriguing qualities in my mind and that, once out, I would be disappointed at the physical representations of my introspection. Maybe there's a loose wire in there and perhaps my lack of skill is saving me from myself.

Somehow my kids have managed to have their wiring intact--or at least the artistic expression portion of their wiring. The jury's still out on the rest of the circuitry. They seem to be sufficiently skilled at drawing, writing and playing music to accomplish the expression they desire. Both of them have somehow managed to become first chair in their preferred instruments (though I don't know about Sid this year). This is, of course, beyond my comprehension because it obviously doesn't reflect their devotion to practice. It would be nice if their chair status had been more reflective of their will to practice. That can be a very effective motivator.

Lolly took lessons from a percussion instructor last year. This was partially motivated by some suggestions made by the Davis program instructor who helped her with her mild dyspraxia. Since then she's started playing trumpet in her music class at school. Her percussion instructor had pegged Lolly pretty well, which is something I can't say about most of her life's instructors. She's kinda "unique" in her approach to life but he continued to get her on track undaunted. He taught her a little piano and we found out she could memorize songs very quickly.

Sid plays the trombone. This is her 5th year playing it. Her first instructor said that trombone was a good fit because she had long enough arms to have sufficient reach for all of the notes and she had full enough lips to work the aperature. Now she's in Jazz band at her high school. Last year, she pulled off a stint in the pit for marching band. This had her playing bells, the xylophone and keyboard. Since she can't march (juvenile arthritis) it was the only way she could participate in marching band.

Lolly's music teacher approved of her choice of trumpet which Lolly was desperate to play. I don't think Lolly would have played trombone even if it were the only choice available to her. Thank goodness. I'm not saying she's a clutz or is totally and blissfully unaware of the world around her but I could somehow imagine her accidentally launching the slide into the air and into the head of some kid in front of her.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Bucket and a Brush

I am determined to paint my dining room today. I'm in my painting clothes. I have the paint. We picked a deep red. The adjoining rooms are an herby green and a golden yellow. I may paint over that green but I'll decide once the red is up.

We use that low-odor paint so it's not a big deal to paint even though it's about 4 degrees outside and we can't open windows -- just run the ventilation fans. The only one who notices the smell is the dog. It must be tough to be a dog. She gets blamed for every odd smell but she's the only one who knows what's truly going on in the smell department. Since she can't talk, she's got to take all of the blame. On the occasion of my painting, however, she's the only one who is really bothered and she can't complain.

My father would have a cardiac event at the thought of having his house done up in these colors. In their house, my Apple-a-Day red would have to be called Nitroglycerin Red. I think my mother might like it but they've always picked safe colors. There was the time in the late 80's when they went with a really pale mauve which turned out to be pink. I don't remember actually pointing this out to them, wanting to see them live on the wild side for once. However, in their next house (their current one), they went with a white. I think it was either antique or off.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Irony

I'm procrastinating again.

Embrace Your Inner Geek!

I'm in the middle of beginning to write a book. I've been in the middle of beginning to write books before but I may just complete this one. It's YA sci-fi/fantasy. This is the genre that I tend to read since I find these kinds of books laying around the house, their pages being bookmarked with a spoon, throw pillow, or whatever was on-hand when the kids were done reading. I pick them up and peek through them. So I decided to write with my kids' taste in mind. This one has a feeling of possibility. I've been having fun with the details but I'm still also working on plotting. I'm one of those people who likes to plan everything out in advance. I find that, through planning, I build the sense that a story is realistically spontaneous. Yeah, Alanis, that actually is ironic.

On one of my tangents of wandering around the web for inspiration in building my story's background, I found this interesting book: A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science by Michael C. Schneider. I wonder if my library has it. I try to check there first. We have lots of books and I try to keep their population down (and a few trees intact) by buying only the ones I'm totally enamored by (unless they are yard sale bargains). It wasn't exactly what I needed for my story but the inner geek in me says this looks like a fantastic read.

My family often follows our inner geek now. It began after last year's Family Art Night at Lolly's school where we did a number of activities including family crests. Since I organized the event, I made an example using our family. It had books, art tools, computers, etc.. Once I was done and saw how truly geeky it seemed, I decided to add a motto: Embrace Your Inner Geek! At the end of the evening, it was the one thing I neglected to take down. It was on the wall of the school for a few months before I realized it and took it down, our geekiness laying naked before the world.

Cleaning the Cosmic House

Last year we failed at having a "new" year. We found ourselves in transition mode all year, and not feeling particularly cheery about it. This is not to say that I actually believe that there is such a thing as a "bad" year, bad day, or bad millennium. I discourage my kids from chalking-up a series of seemingly crummy events to a "bad day."

"A day, an hour, a minute -- they're what you make of them, not part of a cosmic conspiracy." I tell my kids as I grit my teeth because I know what they mean when they complain about a bad day.

Instead, I have to assume that bad and good things seem to hang out in groups and descend upon people in clusters because of the expectations of people, not the nature of time. I've read the classicThe Magic of Believing and its modern, scientific equivalent The Luck Factor. These both talk about the nature of luck and the power of the expectations of people. Though I'm convinced in the power of positive thinking, I still have trouble being one of those super-cheery-look-on-the-bright-side types but I'm working on it.

Our traditional way of dealing with the celebration of a New Year is to make everything seem fresh and new. While I still stand-by what I say about labeling time periods as "bad," I believe that when you start on a new road, its length seems to resemble its beginning. As such, for a new year to begin I like to make everything fresh and newish. I root through closets and cupboards and take out stuff that we don't need and try to sort-of organize things. The time between Christmas and New Years is perfect for this because 1) I have slave labor since the kids are out of school and 2) having just received new stuff for Christmas makes it the perfect time to get rid of old stuff.

Last year our house was set upon by a barrage of illnesses resulting in a lackluster holiday. My youngest stayed up well past midnight because she was ill. Nobody went and did anything. We TiVo'ed the ball drop in Times Square, the traditional New Years bread was not broken and we just let things stay as they were -- kind of messy. And we regretted it.

My husband, who was on various medications to maintain his health because of previously aggressive arthritis turned yellow early in the year. The general malaise and nausea accompanying it were a concern. A blood test and ultrasound later revealed that one of his medications was inhibiting his liver's full function giving a similar effect to gallstones. It all turned out okay but he was yellow for a while. Then there was the eye inflammation which was later attributed to his arthritis. However, his opthamologist (now affectionately remembered as the Eye Nazi) decided she needed to see him at least monthly. Then she prodded him about every aspect of his life, however unrelated. She was, in general, rude and didn't seem to think it was connected to his arthritis. After doing a phone referral with another opthamologist/rheumatologist, she had Jason on another medication which drastically lowered his white cell count and did nothing for the inflammation. When Jason was finally fed-up with all of this, he stopped taking the medication and ignored his appointments with the Eye Nazi and it all seemed to right itself on its own.

There was so much more than happened last year. But it needs to be put behind us. We did our traditional New Years celebration. We cleaned house, organized, and planned a proper celebration. We broke the New Years bread (and I am happy to report that I got the penny). We had champagne and sparkling cider.

Just so you know, new year bread is a round loaf of bread baked for this occasion. I don't have a traditional recipe. This year, I used the one on the yeast package.
1. Bread symbolizes sustenance for the new year.
2. It is round to represent eternity (because the circle has no beginning or end)
3. It contains herbs to represent the spice of life.
4. It contains garlic to ward off evil (corny, I know).
5. A shiny penny (I prefer old ones cleaned with vinegar) is placed inside the loaf prior to baking to symbolize abundance. The person receiving this penny in their slice will experience particular abundance.

The loaf is prepared and the penny is placed vertically near the bottom to make it easier to divide the bread without revealing its position. It's baked. Then we determine the number of guests and score the top like slicing a pie so its divided between everyone there -- no leftovers. We present the bread and explain what it contains and what each thing symbolizes. It's sent around the table and each person tears off a piece. Once everyone has a piece, it's time to dig. Nobody gets to eat it until we know the whereabouts of the penny. When the penny is found, that person gets to gloat in their penny victory. Then we eat the bread.

Ok, I've rambled a great deal. I just want to post and state that I plan to be better about not letting life get me down this year. I also plan to post more. Or, as my friend, Dot, has said, I'll resolve the opposite of my intention (since we all break New Year's resolutions anyway). I resolve to refrain from posting. Lets see how that works for me.