Sunday, December 31, 2006

Julie Yvonne
December 31, 1965

My second experience of childbirth was distinctly different from my first. Instead of starting single and ending married, I started married and ended single. Instead of losing weight, I gained in anticipation of morning sickness that never happened. Instead of being delivered by an intern, Julie was delivered by an experienced doctor; and yet, he was unprepared for my behavior in the delivery room.

Julie was conceived when I thought I was already several weeks pregnant, resulting in my thinking she was overdue when she was actually premature. Instead of leading up to the event with false labor, because my water had broken and the placenta was parting, labor had to be induced. However, this was still a fast and easy birth, with a labor of just under an hour.

I got my interlocutory divorce and enrolled in college the day before Julie was born. Her birth completed the change in my life from working wife to single mother college student.

Because my mother was still recovering from a broken hip, my Aunt Flo came to stay with me for the birth. She was out with Richard at the laundromat when my water broke, and as soon as they returned we delivered Richard to the baby sitter and she drove me to meet the doctor at the hospital. This time I had health insurance and went to Alta Bates, a private hospital. At first, the doctor had me wait to see if labor would begin naturally. Aunt Flo and I told jokes and chatted.

My roommate in the labor room was pretty deeply into intense labor. She also had been born in China, and had only been in the U.S. for a couple of years, and was married to a Chinese American who spoke no Chinese. As her labor built, she forgot her flawless English. Being unable to make herself understood or to understand what people around her were saying frightened her. Luckily there was an elderly Chinese gentleman on the maintenance staff who they called in to translate. As soon as he arrived, my roommate calmed down and Aunt Flo and I could return to guilt free joke telling and family story swapping.

Towards morning the doctor decided to induce labor, which was done at that time with an IV in the back of the hand. (And as I remember Julie having Maya, it still is.) That was before I worked with the dentist to overcome my fear of needles, and when the nurse came to insert the IV, I tried to climb off the table and escape.

In much less than an hour, I was in the delivery room. The doctor, who had witnessed my humiliating performance with the needle, had assumed that he was going to have a problem with me, particularly since I was having natural childbirth. He was a little hesitant about allowing my aunt into the delivery room, but since she had trained to be a nurse he did. However, I was having an easy birth, I’m really pretty stoic about pain, and the needle part was over. Although Aunt Flo remembers me saying, “It hurts. It hurts. And it won’t stop,” for the most part I was a model patient, swapping jokes with her the whole time.

In just under an hour from the first pain, I had a baby. This experience was so far from the impersonal treatment I had received with Richard that when, instead of asking if it was a girl or a boy, I asked, “Who is it?” my doctor knew and answered, “Julie Yvonne.”

Breakfast had just been served when I got out of delivery, and I assumed I was going to have to wait for lunch. I couldn’t, after all, ask Aunt Flo to tear a hole in the lining of her coat and smuggle in food. But, they do things differently in private hospitals. When I was taken to my room, an aide was just bringing in my breakfast.

I was asleep when the doctor came to tell me that they wouldn’t be bringing Julie in to feed because she had to be in an isolet due to her size (five pounds, three ounces) and no one came in to do it again. They brought her baby to my roommate, who was now speaking very good English, but not to me. When a nurse came to pick up her baby, I asked where mine was and that was when they told me. The entire time I was in the hospital (three or four days, as I remember), I could only go and stand by the window and look at her, in an isolet that was bolted to the floor at the far end of the room. It was so far away I couldn’t see her features. I could, however, see the needles stuck into her scalp for IV feeding and that her little arms were tied down so she wouldn’t hit the tubes. It was heartbreaking. I’m not so stoic about my children, and I cried about it a lot.

It was, I discovered months later, much easier for me than for my Aunt, who had overheard two nurses who didn’t know who she was talking about how they had almost lost Julie and how she was having trouble swallowing without getting fluid in her lungs. How fortunate that Aunt Flo, who was after all in a town that was strange to her, knew my friends Tom and Cheryl and could go over to their house and have someone she could confide in.

Julie, like all newborns, lost weight at first. Normally, preemies weren’t allowed to go home until they were above five pounds; Julie went down to four seven, but then started gaining an ounce a day, and so they let her come home several ounces early. Finally I got to hold her. Finally I got to kiss her little belly and drown in her lovely eyes. Finally Richard got to meet his sister.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Because It's There

As Merry gets a little older,
Merry gets a whole lot bolder.
And now he really wants to know
Just how high that he can go.
From stove to frig to cupboard top
Up and up, he'll never stop.
Suddenly, a worried frown —
He's ten feet up. Can he get down?
Piteous mews to call for Granny,
To save him crashing on his fanny.
Granny's only five foot two —
What does he think she can do?
Although the path is very steep
That silly kitten has to leap.
Carefully, now brace and look,
Retrace the path that up he took.
Granny coached him through the muddle,
And afterwards they had a cuddle

This was written when the Hooligans were about six months old.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Be Careful What You Say

Daddy was excellent with little kids. Here are two examples from the Christmas that Richard was four and Julie two. First we see how interested he was in whatever they were interested in, as he examines Richard's new toy rifle.

The second picture is one of Ted's favorites of Julie. We see her here weeping in despair as her Grandpa looked on in consternation. She knew that whatever treat he was having, he would always share with her. So, when she took a spoon over for her share of the Pepto Bismol, she couldn't understand why he said no. I don't believe that he had ever said no to her before. It wasn't that she didn't get the treat; it was that Grandpa had said no, and she couldn't understand it. As you can see, it was rather traumatic for him, as well. He had no idea, at first, of how to console her. If I remember correctly, he found a treat for both of the kids that would help her manage things.

But, when we hit the teens, when it became possible for us to get in trouble big time, he got scared. He could picture all the things we might do, and he clamped down. I got draconian groundings for minor infractions (once I was not allowed to go to the New Mexico State Chorus competition because I had not emptied a waste basket that he had sneaked into the house and hidden between his dresser and the wall so that I hadn't known about it) which I later learned was to keep me home so I wouldn't get pregnant. So, I moved in with my Great Aunt Julie when I was 16 and lived a virtuous life until I was in college.

When I was 21, and had dropped out of college and was being a hippy, I discovered I was pregnant. Because the father was involved with the young men who would later become the Grateful Dead and using drugs, I decided I would raise my baby by myself. I had a relative who hadn't told her parents she was pregnant until very late and her parents had a hard time accepting the baby. I didn't want to put my family or my baby through that, so I determined that I would tell my folks right away, and two days after I got confirmation of the pregnancy I was on a Greyhound from Berkeley to Stockton. Mama picked me up at the bus station. (Daddy had long ago refused to go because I always came into town in my knee high gladiator sandals and other hippy regalia and he was on the City Council and didn't want to be seen with me. Particularly when I pulled out my pipe and began to smoke [although it was only cherry tobacco].)

As I remember the conversation in the car, it went:
Mama, "Joy, you've lost weight. What have you been doing?"
Me, "Morning sickness -- Mama, don't hit that tree!"

Mama told me we would talk about this after Daddy went to bed. Which we did. I wouldn't tell her the father's name nor would I agree to marry him. She didn't know what to do, but was clearly afraid to tell Daddy. As was I. We even called my recently widowed Aunt Flossie in the middle of the night and she promised to come over as soon as Daddy had gone to work.

So, come morning, Daddy got up, could see that Mama hadn't been in bed all night, came out to the kitchen where Mama and I looked pretty bad, and said, "Are you pregnant?"
"Well Sweetheart, a baby is always a blessing."

Which is just like him -- great in the big things, lousy in the small. If he had been able to handle the fear that I would get pregnant as well as he handled the fact of it, all of our lives would have been easier.

One of the things he used to say to us as we were growing up was "I'll make a Christian of you yet!" Meaning, he would teach us to obey. So, after a few years as a Buddhist, Colleen married a Palestinian and became a Muslim, Forrest is an agnostic, and I'm an atheist.

I don't know what all of this proves, but it seems to me that you have to be careful what you say. My own father used to say that my hair would be cut and the pine tree in his mother's front yard chopped down over his dead body. And by the time he had been gone for two years, I had short hair and Grandma Hunt had a stump.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Am From

I encountered this at Julie's blog. The template is here. Scroll down a little less than half the page to find it.

I am from a rope swing in a tall pine, from running free in orchards and fields, and pomegranate stains on my little white dress.

I am from the small, hand-built, silver trailer filled with love and laughter that traveled the highways of California in the 40s; from a stucco house with a tall cyprus tree and grape arbor on School Street in Stockton; from a boarding school with date palms lining the drive, a home farm where the food was grown and raised, and an infirmary where they gave dark beer to 7 year olds with anemia; from a house in the country with a cherry tree and a dog named Bows and a neighbor who raised fighting cocks outside of Stockton; from a tropical house surrounded by hibiscus hedges, with a maid's house and a banana tree in the back yard in Puerto Rico; from a new project house with a twig of a tree in the front yard and open fields and train tracks to explore outside of Denver; from a standard house-house almost next door to my best friend in El Paso; from a quiet house set back in a large lot with loquat trees and an overgrown yard for children and a dog named Heathcliff and a cat named Miss Pettibone to play in; from a new project house with the standard twiggy tree and a dog named Kal and a bedroom with my own built-by-my-Daddy desk large enough for my typewriter and sewing machine and still lots of room to do home work; from my Great-aunt Julia's peaceful, safe house with the wisteria arbor and the Meyer lemon and orange trees, where I could smell jasmine and hear the song of the resident mocking bird on summer nights and the cedar waxwings feasted on the pyrocantha bushes in the fall; from a variety of dorm rooms and apartments in Berkeley; from an apartment near the Haight Ashbury adorned by the graceful products of the Scots tile manufacturer who had built the house for his daughter in 1903; from small apartments in Berkeley that were graced by Richard and Julie and college texts; from a homestead in Alaska where washing the dishes in the winter involved shooting a hole in the ice and then lowering the bucket for water and once included looking at a moose who was looking in the kitchen window at me; from a log house with moose antlers above the door next to a church and half a block from the library in Fairbanks; from a house in Campbell with a fig tree in the back yard that attracted birds and a cat who loved to lay in the windows and do bird calls; from a few others, and now from a two story apartment on a hillside in Alaska, with bookcases in every room, high ceilings on the bottom story and low, cozy ones on the top, where I can see mountains and forest and eagles from my windows -- shared with two cats.

I am from the sequoia, reaching for the stars; the raven, raucous and sly. From back country roads named, by my great-grandfather Herndon, after members of my family, where my great-grandparents lived on the corner of Herndon and Joyce. From my grandfather's house at the corner of Herndon and Nadine with the mixed orchard that included every tree that we knew would grow in California at the time and a vegetable garden and melon patch I harvested with my basket for my meals. From the closet with the kaleidoscope and stereopticon viewer with slides and my Aunt Nadine's outgrown coloring books and crayons.

I am from sharing family stories and laughing easily at ourselves, from Virginia and Roland and Julia. From Hunts and Herndons and Uptons and Adamses. From slave holders and a Union soldier. From soldiers in most of the wars fought in this country since the French and Indian, including the brother of an ancestor who died at Bunker Hill.

From strong women -- two widows, a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who raised their orphaned grandchild/great grandchild; one who refused to promise to obey when she got married in the 1890s; and another who ran away from home in the early 1900s and worked her way from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific to avoid being married to "a rich old man" her father had picked out.

I am from casual Christians with connections to Dunkards, Puritan ancestors, and free thinkers. A nominally protestant child who attended a Catholic boarding school for two years.

I am from bookworms and wanderers, who started in England and moved, step by step, generation by generation, westward to California and Alaska, by way of England, Massachusetts, Virginia, and roads west; watermelon that tasted like heaven grown from generations of seeds saved by my grandfather; and San Francisco sourdough French bread with salami and cheese picnics.

From Sarah Warren Osborne, who died waiting to be hung for witchcraft in Salem and the Putnams, who accused her; Etta Mace, who learned to read upside down by reading the Bible to her blind great-grandmother; Percy Herndon, who fought in World War I; my mother, who was a widow at 25 and who had newspaper covering the holes in the soles of her shoes when she remarried.

I am from a box of photos and several albums in my mother's closet filled with pictures of both identified and unidentified ancestors and relatives. From suddenly realizing that my sister looked like my grandmother's picture when grandma was 16. From looking at pictures of myself and my parents and seeing how loved I was.

I am also from my own generation -- an atheist with a sister who married a Palestinian from Kuwait and became Muslim and another sister who was once a B'hai missionary in Kotzebue, Alaska. A family that has, after an incredible number of generations of marrying only Colonial descendants from England, finally broken free and discovered diversity with a hey-nonny nonny! Which now includes a grand daughter whose other grands were originally from India, a great nephew who is black, a niece with a wife.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Go Visit Sandy Szwarc Again

Over at Junkfood Science, Sandy Szwarc debunks the AP coverage of
Links Between Weight & Prostrate Cancer. In the process, she also offers invaluable information on how to recognize "Trojan numbers" in reported studies.
it's one of the strategies used by researchers to inflate the size of a study so it sounds more impressive when the actual number of people with the condition being studied is significantly less.
When you find a Trojan Number, cautions Dr. Brignell, "these studies are often part of a large data dredge, in which many combinations of condition and potential cause are covered, so that the inevitable coincidental excesses can be identified and claimed as significant."
The researchers found no association between the men's body mass index (BMI), or the men's change in weight, and their overall risk for prostate cancer.

In fact, looking at the data, the obese men had about 10% lower overall incidence of prostate cancers and the risk steadily dropped as BMIs increased
Do go over and check out Sandy's complete article, especially if you have any interest at all in prostrate cancer; men should be aware of conditions that affect their own health and women should be aware of the things that affect their husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers. If you are a woman with no men in your life at all, this post is excellent education on how studies get distorted and findings "tweaked" to suit hidden agendas.

How They Come

A while back I decided to get a site meter. I wish I'd known before how much fun they are and I would have installed one a long time ago. Every night I can check it and find out all sorts of things. I love the world map which shows the last visitors.

I was astonished that there are people who visit from Australia and Korea and Egypt, as well as more places in Europe and Canada and the US than I would have guessed. How amazing. I sit on my mountain side in Alaska, and people from anywhere in the world not only can read what I've written, some of them do!

I can check to see who's on now -- my sister in Kotzebue and someone in Dayton and me, at the moment.

The next thing I discovered was the "by referrals" record, which is how some of you were finding out what people were looking for when they came via Google or Yahoo to your blogs. And it is amazing! The number of people who are looking for spanking blows my mind. Some of them are interested in discipline, and some of them cause me to blush! And then I think, someone who is interested in erotic spanking must be disappointed when they read my post on the few disciplinary spankings I received in my life. And I have to admit to being a touch shocked at the number of people looking for erotic grandmother spankings. What a sheltered life I've led, and I always thought I was pretty adventurous.

A number have come looking for directions on how to fix a garbage disposal that someone has run potato peels down. That reassures me, somehow, that my mother isn't the only person to do that. People have also been hopeful they could learn to remove pomegranate juice stains and fix a broken door knob. And all I have to offer is the information that other people have these problems, too.

For some reason, there seem to be people looking for Hooligan poems--I do hope they aren't disappointed that mine are about cats. Also about Granny poems. A number of people have come looking for help with restless legs syndrome. Sorry that I only reported that I have it -- should anyone find this post with that need, I use two coral calcium tablets and a quarter of a 5/325 mg Percocet tablet at bedtime and another quarter Percocet tablet at 4 a.m. if needed.

People have come looking for Santa and "Barbie head Christmas tree." I got a number of people interested in knee high gladiator sandals, white coats for men (I think they may have wanted to buy one, instead they got a couple of horror stories about dentists), decorating the tree, chipped incisor, cherry pits, drowning peacefully (I'm not sure which post got caught in that Google search), "why did grandma add a wheel to her rocking chair" got them the Lakota Grandmother's Cat. Olive tree and baby giraffe and mood rings and the Haight Ashbury, as well as the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia have drawn in their share of visitors.

Apparently my great-grandmother's great-grandmother wasn't the only person who read books "civer to civer" because people have come looking for that. And someone besides Richard suffered some kind of "pizza hurt".

The search engine in Japanese looking for doll and the ones in Arabic, Hebrew, German, and French gave a nice international flare to the whole thing.

Anyway, my site meter is a very fun toy.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ginny & Flo Go Out Catching Birds

When Maya's Great-grandmother, who is Granny's Little Mama, was a little girl called Ginny, and Maya's Great-great-aunt Flo was a little girl called Flo, they lived in the country right outside of Ceres, California with their Mama and Papa, who later became Granny's Grandmother Lillian and Grandfather Percy. Now, this story happened when Ginny and Flo were old enough to play outdoors while their Mama cleaned and cooked and their Papa was at work. But they were still little girls.

So, it happened that one day Ginny and Flo had been playing and playing. They played hide and seek, although it is a little boring to seek only one other person after a while. They played dollies. They played jump rope. They didn't climb any trees, although Ginny wanted to, because Flo was a little lady, and ladies don't climb trees (which makes it pretty boring to be a lady, and explains why Granny never wanted to be one). But after a while they couldn't think of anything else to play, so they went into the house. "Mama, we don't have anything to do. We're bored," they said. Their Mama was mopping the kitchen floor, and she didn't have time to play with them. But, because she was a resourceful person, she did have time to think about keeping them busy. She thought about it and she thought about it and then she had an idea.

"Well," said Lillian, "would you like to catch a bird?"

"Yes, yes, yes," answered Ginny and Flo, who thought it would be wonderful to have a bird.

"Well," said Lillian, "here is a salt shaker for each of you. Now, the way to catch birds is to creep up behind them. When you get real close, pour salt on the bird's tail and then it will let you catch it."

Oh, how exciting! Ginny and Flo took their salt shakers and they stalked birds. When they would see a bird on the ground they would creep up, ever so slowly and ever so quietly, to put salt on its tail. When the bird saw them coming, it would fly away and they would run ever so fast to try to catch it. Oh, how they crept! Oh, how they ran! Oh, how they plotted! "We will name it Brownie," said Flo. "We will keep it in a cage," said Ginny. "We will catch a mate for it and build it a nest in the cage," said Flo. "Then it will have babies right in our bedroom," said Ginny.

All day Ginny and Flo chased birds with the salt shakers. All day they plotted. All day they planned. All day Lillian was able to clean house and cook uninterrupted. Of course, no bird would let a little girl (or even a big one) get close enough to pour salt on its tail, but Ginny and Flo didn't know that. They had a wonderful time in the sunshine and fresh air, and when it was time to go to bed they slept as sound as a couple of bells. It was a wonderful time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mama's Puerto Rican Driver's License

For a few weeks before my father died, he had been teaching Mama to drive. She had to sell the car they had been buying early in her widowhood, so when she remarried, she had not driven in three years. Daddy, who was as madly in love with her as my father had been, bought her a brand new little jeep not long after they were married.

At that time, he was driving a lovely new Cadillac. Such was his besottedness on my mother, that before long she was driving the Cadillac and he was driving the Jeep. Years later he used to joke about how she turned her big brown eyes on him, and he just handed her his car keys. I can well believe that. If she had wanted to she could have had anything from him by turning those big brown eyes on him -- luckily for him it never occurred to her to work it.

Mama had been driving the Cadillac for about a year before we moved to Puerto Rico. When we got settled in there, Daddy brought home a driver's manual and announced that, just as they had studied Spanish together before we moved, they could study together for their Puerto Rican driver's licenses. Which was the first my mother had known that she was supposed to have a driver's license. She hadn't gotten far enough along with my father to get one yet, and Daddy had just assumed she had one.

Every time Daddy told this story he got pale in thinking about what could have happened had she been caught driving that expensive Cadillac without a license! But, you know I doubt that anything would have happened at all. I was in the car with her once, about a decade after that, when a California Highway Patrol officer pulled her over for speeding (Mama had a lead foot) and she just batted those big brown eyes at him and he never asked to see her license, just told her in his best "ah, shucks" manner that it would be a good idea to drive a little slower.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging V

Clues in Sound

Merry and Pippin and I live in a two story apartment. The kitchen and living room are on the lower floor (the second floor of the building) and the bedroom, bath, and book room on the upper.

Here in Juneau we have a local access channel called CHCH (the channel channel) which plays classical music without any commercials or other speech and trains the camera out over the Gatineau Channel. In the evening, if I'm reading, I have CHCH on and when I turn it off, the Hooligans know that I am going to be going upstairs soon.

One thing I learned from Richard is that if you feed a cat the minute you get up, that cat will start waking you up to be fed and that will get earlier and earlier. So, I feed them downstairs.

Since we live in Alaska, the sun is up at night in the summer and not until long after I've left for work in the winter. No clue for Hooligans from the daylight.

The trick, for them, is to know when I've gotten out of bed to go to the bathroom or to clear my sinuses so that my CPAP won't make me feel like I'm being smothered and when I've gotten up to go downstairs. Doesn't do any good to meow at me if I'm going back to bed.

They have learned that if they can hear the CPAP, I'm going back to bed even if I'm currently sitting at the computer while my sinuses clear. If they hear the electric toothbrush, I'm going to get dressed and go downstairs next.

So, when I woke up in the middle of the night with a nasty taste in my mouth and brushed my teeth, but the CPAP was still on, it confused them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Go, Children, Go

For a chuckle, do go visit Godwacker The (Intergalactic)War on Christmas.

A Bundle of Switches*

One Christmas when I was three or four, we spent at my Grandmother Hunt's. She of the pomegranate trees and rules about playing with children in her trailer park that got me my pretend spanking. She who made the best popcorn balls in the world. As usual when the entire family gathered, my parents and I stayed in the spare bedroom and my Uncle Leland and Aunt Lena stayed in the tank house.

As usual, since I was the only child in the family, most of the presents under the tree were for me. Dolls. Tea sets. Children's books. Dresses. Balloon glue (where you blow up a clump of plastic gel and have a longer lasting bubble). And, from my Uncle Leland (who did not understand about children and humor), marked as from Santa Claus, a bundle of switches. When it came time to pack up the loot to leave, my parents told me to go get my presents, and all I brought to the car was the switches. Uncle Leland was so upset that he broke the switches right there and then. I understand he never forgot what he had done. And neither did I.

*Things have changed so much since I was a child that when I did a Google Image search for a bundle of switches, this is what turned up. Page after page of variations of this. No matter how I worded it, even including variations of spank or Santa or naughty. To get the other image, I had to ask for a bundle of twigs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gaslighting the Cat

When I was in college, my mother had a part Siamese cat named Tamarama. Forrest used to pick Tamarama up, hold her in his arms on her back like a baby, look deeply into her eyes and intone, "Kaiser Foil is quilted, Kaiser Foil is quilted," and she would become hypnotised. She would lie quietly on her back until he put her down -- for however long he wanted to hold her.

Years later, when Julie and Richard were in high school, we had a dog, Samantha, a Siamese cat, Sheba, another cat, Evenrude, various hamsters, and about 45 tropical fish. Julie discovered that she could sit and make a peculiar caterwauling sound with her mouth not moving but open and Sheba would stand on her chest and look into her mouth (putting her little face right inside) to see what on earth was making that noise. Because this was so funny, Julie did it a lot. Until the day that Sheba decided she had amused Julie as much as she was going to and, instead of looking in Julie's mouth, marched over and scratched Samantha's nose.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New Fangled Idears

The common thread in these three stories is that each of us, my Great Uncle Van, Daddy, and I thought we knew what we were doing. And we didn't understand the technology.
My Great Aunt Julie was born in 1900, and married for a short while in the 20s to a man named Van. Now Auntie was always the most modern of women, having worked for a doctor when she was 18 and eventually owning her own business in San Francisco. She was, as the saying goes, not the last to try the new. Which is why she bought Alka Seltzer when it first came out. It hadn't been in the medicine cabinet for long when Uncle Van got a hangover and Auntie offered it to him. As he took the tablet out of the box, she told him that she thought he needed to read the instructions because you didn't take it like a regular pill. And he declared, "I'm a grown man and damn well know how to take a pill!"

Which is why he threw it back in his mouth, drank a glass of water, and proceeded to almost choke to death on the foam that was being created in his throat. It was all Auntie could do to hold off laughing until she had saved his life.

My step-father was born in 1903, so there were many things that we take for granted today that didn't come into the world until he was an adult. He was in his 20s when he went to visit his sister, Thelma, who was the one in his family who tried all the new things. He got in to Palo Alto late and tired and went right to bed. In the middle of the night, he woke up very hungry. Rather than waking his sister, he decided he could just raid the refrigerator. The next morning he told her that he had really enjoyed the left over meatloaf. When she was confused, because there was no left over meatloaf, he showed her the plate (washed, I'm sure, if I know my Daddy, and I do) that it had been on. Which is when she told him he had eaten that brand new product, canned dog food.

The item I fell afoul of was invented before I was born. Whatever excuse there was for Uncle Van and Daddy, did not exist for me.

When I was first married, Dick's Grandmother Smith gave us a carpet sweeper. I really liked it. It got our carpet very clean and was so easy to use. However, before long it broke. It made the carpet dirtier. I called the appliance repair shop (they actually had places like that in the early 60s, when they built things to be repaired instead of replaced) and they told me there really isn't much you can do to repair a carpet sweeper, and so I threw it away.

Twelve years later, I was sitting in a restaurant and the waitress took a carpet sweeper to clean the rug where a baby had spilled Saltines. And then she took it over, opened it up, and emptied it. Oh.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Auntie Kathy's Birthday Bear

Now it happened in June of 2000 that Granny started to work one day and by the time she got part way down the hill she saw a little black bear. And Maya will remember that Granny wrote and told her about it and about how she (Granny, not the bear) decided that the bear could have that street and she (Granny, not the bear) would walk down a different street. And so she did.

Well, the very next week, Granny was sweeping her kitchen floor, and she looked out the window and there were people in the street and a little blond bear crossing the street and heading down the hill towards Cope Park. So, Granny went outside to talk to her neighbors about the bear, and she got there just in time to see the little black bear come out from between her building and the house next door. It (the bear, not Granny) walked across the street and through the parking lot and down the hill towards Cope Park. It didn't bother the people at all. Indeed, Granny said later that the bear looked at them and said "People," in just the casual sort of voice Maya might say "Roly Polies." And Granny was very glad that she had been able to see both of the bears.

The next week, Granny was taking her trash out and when she came down her exterior stairs a woman in the street looked very startled. The lady told Granny that the little black bear had come down Granny's stairs just a minute before she (Granny, not the bear) did.

And later that week, Granny was sitting at her computer working and she looked up and the little black bear was walking across her roof/patio. "My goodness," said Granny, "this little black bear is getting very familiar." And so Granny decided to name the bear, and since it sometimes hung out with the blond bear she named them Blondie and Dagwood. And that was not the last she heard of Dagwood.

Everyday Granny would read the animal encounters section of the paper, and everyday some bears would be mentioned. Often they were Dagwood and Blondie. The paper always said they were non-aggressive bears, but still they were around town much too much. They were seen coming down staircases and eating bird seed and walking into people's yards.

Then, on Auntie Kathy's birthday, Granny went to Uncle Richard and Auntie Kathy's house. She was crossing the street right in front of their house and she heard a noise and looked over, and Dagwood was crossing the street right beside her -- maybe six feet away. Dagwood looked cool with it, so Granny just walked slowly on her way. They got across the street and Dagwood went up one staircase and Granny went up the other. Auntie Kathy was just coming out to retrieve a birthday card that had fallen between the retaining wall and the banister. She and Uncle Richard decided that they would go together -- Auntie Kathie to fish for the card, and Uncle Richard to watch her back and warn her if the bear came. They could hear it in the neighbor's yard and then Uncle Richard saw it. He agreed with Granny, Dagwood was a small bear. When Auntie Kathy and Uncle Richard and Granny were leaving the house to go to the restaurant for Auntie Kathy's birthday dinner, the bear was in their yard. Auntie Kathy got her camera and took a picture of Dagwood standing and eating bird seed out of the bird feeder. Uncle Richard stood inside the kitchen and looked out the window right into Dagwood's face. Then they (Uncle Richard and Auntie Kathy and Granny, not the bear) left. They went to El Sombrero and had a wonderful dinner and when they got home, Dagwood had left.

The next day Granny went to work and she told all her friends about the bear at Auntie Kathy's birthday party. Her friend Betty told her about a friend of theirs who drove to work just that very morning and there was Dagwood, and the friend was afraid to get out of her car. But Dagwood didn't leave, and finally the friend decided he wasn't acting aggressive, so she got out of her car and Dagwood never even looked at her. Betty and Granny agreed that Dagwood is one very non-aggressive bear.

Late in the afternoon, Granny and Betty and Cynthia were sitting outside getting a breath of air and they saw two policemen walking up the hill just a block away -- about a third of the way to Auntie Kathy's and Uncle Richard's house, and they (Granny and Betty and Cynthia, not Uncle Richard or Auntie Kathy or the policemen or the bear) knew that the policemen were there because of Dagwood.

The policemen (Kevin and Jim, friends of Betty's son John) crossed the street and disappeared in someone's yard. A few minutes later, Dagwood came out of that very yard and crossed the street and went back down the hill on just exactly the path that Kevin and Jim had taken up the hill. Then Kevin and Jim followed. They (Kevin and Jim, not Granny or Betty or Cynthia) went down to the Eastern Orthodox Church behind the bear. A lady in car drove by and told Granny and Betty and Cynthia that the bear had been down on Calhoun Street just a while ago, and she (the lady in the car, not the bear) had given a ride up the hill to two pedestrians who were a little shy of it. Then, said the lady in the car, Dagwood had just tried to go to a child's birthday party. Granny mentioned that the day before it had gone to Auntie Kathy's birthday party. Betty said that Dagwood sounded like a party animal.

Then Granny and Betty and Cynthia had to go back into their office and get to work. But the next morning, Granny heard that Dagwood was being herded by two police officers away from a dumpster behind the Baranof Hotel. Granny wondered if it was still Kevin and Jim herding Dagwood and if the "bear guy" (as everybody referred to the man from Fish and Game who traps and relocates bears) was out of town and they had to herd Dagwood until he got back.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

People Hands

One of the interesting things I read about 15 years ago is that the genetic instructions for how the mind works are carried on the X chromosome. What that means is that, since boys have only one X chromosome, which they get from their mother (Dad giving them his Y to make them boys), sons think more like their mothers and daughters, who get an X from each parent, think more like fathers. (I have no idea of why Dad's X overrides Mom's X in this matter, but it does seem to.) In my little family, this meant that Richard and I tend to understand each other and even anticipate each other very rapidly, while Julie is odd girl out. She thinks like her Dad, who has never lived with us and who she didn't meet until she was 21. (Anyone interested in this story can go to the three part story on Julie's blog here and here and here and read it.) So, her experience growing up was of being with two people who understood each other rapidly while she was still trying to figure it out, and who didn't understand her nearly as quickly as they understood each other. Although she got better grades than Richard, and is at least as smart as we are, she told me later that she always felt stupid.

Part of having her father's mental map is that her sense of humor is like his -- dry and subtle. Where Richard and I will use sometimes wild hyperbole and vocal inflections as well as lots of body language, hand gestures and humorous facial expressions (just in case you don't get that it's a joke by the words?), Julie and Michael say outrageous things in understated vocabulary and deliver them deadpan.

They began as serious statements that were unintentionally funny. When Julie was three she took a bundle of about four twigs that she had broken in half to show her nursery school teacher. When the teacher asked if she had done that with her bare hands, Julie looked at her hands with a puzzled expression and then answered, "No. With my people hands."

About two weeks after that, Smokey Bear came to visit the Montessori school where I was doing my student teaching and I brought Julie and Richard for the day, since Smokey was Julie's favorite person in the world. My master teacher heard Julie tell Richard in all seriousness, "He's too big to live in our little apartment."

It was that literal and serious turn of mind that often caused Richard and me (as well as almost everyone older than she was at the time) to break out laughing, which she hated. So, her brother and I learned not to laugh when she said these things. Which backfired for a little while, since when she was about 12 she figured out that they were funny and started saying them for the laugh. Understated. Absolutely deadpan. Being well trained, we didn't laugh and she would indignantly tell us it was a joke. (She told me years later that when we didn't laugh she thought she must not have a sense of humor.) Once we knew that she knew, things went better.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Different View

There is talk of impeachment in the air. Pelosi and Reid have said it is off the table. Cindy Sheehan says that it can't be off the table. A number of people will tell you that Bush and Cheney have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" and must be impeached. Some of us just want them gone, particularly now that we have a Democrat as Speaker of the House and in line for the Oval Office after the Vice President.

The most thought provoking thing I have read on this is in the December 15th post Refocusing The Impeachment Movement . . . by John Dean

Dean discusses why impeachment of Bush and Cheney, although a just idea and one that is certainly deserved, would not work politically and then suggests that there are other officials that could/should be impeached and why.

To quote Dean:
Getting the necessary two-thirds supermajority in support of impeachment in today's Senate, which is virtually evenly-divided politically, is simply not possible. With forty-nine senators of the 110th Congress members in good standing with the Republican Party, . . .there are more than thirty-three GOP Senators who still would not vote to convict.
Pelosi and Reid have long understood this reality, and rather than do to Bush and/or Cheney what Republicans did to Clinton - impeach him in the House merely because they had the power to do so and they wanted to tarnish him, only to lose their battle decisively in the Senate - they are simply not going to play the same game.
The drive to impeach Bush and Cheney should, however, refocus its effort and energy into another undertaking - one that not only might succeed, but if it did, it would greatly benefit the nation and the well-being of all Americans.
Dean suggests that instead of a futile attempt on Bush and Cheney, we should impeach those of their subordinates whom the Constitution also allows. It would not take the effort of the entire House or Senate, using committees until time for the final vote; it would send a message to other administration subordinates that aiding and abetting unconstitutional behavior on the part of the elected officials carried a penalty; it would put a major crimp in the ability of the Disgraceful Duo to continue their current behavior; and it could prevent the individuals impeached ever being eligible for an "Office of honor" again in their lives. Since many of these people are young enough to, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, come back to haunt us in a future Republican administration, that might be the most important outcome of all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Cat's Doing What?

You just have to read Chacun a son Gout at One Good Thing. I laughed till my sides ached. Flea is a very funny writer. Read the comments as well.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Taking Care of Mama

.Joared, at Along the Way, Menial Tasks And Warm Feelings and Joy at Joy of Six, Ho- Ho... Humbug recently wrote about having to do the tasks their husbands used to do after their deaths, and it made me think of my Dad. He was 20 years older than my mother, and in the natural course of things he knew that he would die before she would. He also knew that my brother Forrest would be doing many of the tasks my Dad had done.

One of the things Daddy did was keep track of where things were. My mother can never remember where she puts things, although she often puts them in the same place. She thinks she's out, buys more, and when she goes to put the new can of beans away, there are three or fout others. For years after he died, Mama would open a cupboard and find a note that said something like, "Now, Virginia, the olives are in the cupboard in the den. You always look for them here and you always put them there."

Forrest would go to do some task he hadn't done before, and at the repair site he would find a note from our Dad telling him where the fuses were kept or the fastest way to unclog the garbage disposal after Mama put potato peels down it one more time.

Forrest tells me he probably hasn't found the last of them; he expects that even after 23 years, one day he will go to repair something that hasn't needed it in all this time, and there will be another note. Daddy, still taking care of Mama.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Julie's Mood Ring

My friend Harold sent me this e-mail joke:
My husband gave me a mood ring the other day so he would be able to monitor my moods...
We've discovered that when I'm in a good mood, it
turns green. When I'm in a bad mood, it leaves a big red mark on his forehead.
Maybe next time he'll think and buy me a diamond!

It reminded me of the time when Julie was nine or ten years old and bought a mood ring. Every half hour or so she would look at it and declare, "It's blue, I must be happy" or whatever color and mood it was. One day my friend David was over changing the oil in my car and Julie was doing this and we started to giggle. Julie was incensed, but her ring wouldn't turn black to prove that she was angry. Which made us giggle all the more and her get more incensed and still the ring said that she was feeling some other emotion. That's when she decided that the ring didn't know as much about her feelings as she did.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Year We Had Two Christmas Trees

I've mentioned before that I dropped out of college in the middle of my sophomore year, having the intention of starving in a garret and writing the great American novel, and that I did neither. Instead I hippied around and got pregnant and then got married and then got pregnant again while in the process of getting divorced.

I was readmitted to college the same day I went to court for my divorce and gave birth to Julie the next day. Busy week, that. So, there I was with two little children and very little money, going to college for two years. We were usually pretty broke all year long, which wasn't a great hardship because the kids didn't know any different and I was happy with life.

Christmas trees were purchased Christmas eve -- except that when you turn up with two kids in a stroller late Christmas eve, they let you choose your tree and then don't let you pay. Or, at least, that was my experience. I would decorate the tree after the kids were in bed, and they would wake up to it. Decorations were popcorn and cranberry strings and origami cranes and frogs. Pretty basic and pretty cheap. Fun.

The Christmas after I graduated I could finally afford to get a tree ahead of time and to buy ornaments. I planned it all carefully, making sure that the ornaments went with each other, that the tree was lovely. I added the tinsel one strand at a time, rearranged ornaments until they were balanced. It was, to me, a work of art.

And then Richard started bringing home decorations for the tree that he was making in nursery school. Ugly decorations that he was making in nursery school. And we had to hang them on my tree -- the tree I had been so proud of, so pleased with, so satisfied.

This had gone on for a few days when the kids and I were over at my parents house and while the kids were playing in the back yard, I told Mama and Daddy about this situation. About how disappointed I was but how unable to disappoint Richard I also was.

The next day, Daddy came over with a small Christmas tree. He told Richard that I had told him about all of the lovely decorations he was making at school and Grandpa had decided that it would be wonderful to have a tree just for those decorations.

The old man did have grace.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cherry Pits and Watermelon Seeds

I love fresh produce. Most of all, I love bing cherries and watermelon.

When we lived in Stockton, our house was only about half a mile from a cherry orchard, and I would go weekly every spring and buy a 21 pound box of doubles and spurs for $7, and by the next week the three of us would have eaten it all and be ready for the next. Bings are a gorgeous deep purple and the very best ones are still firm, so that when my teeth pierced the skin I sometimes felt like a vegetarian vampire. Soo good.

Watermelon lasts longer, but since markets no longer plug them for you to taste, it can be a toss up whether you get a good one or not. Now, when I was growing up my grandparents lived out in the country and my grandfather grew, among other things, watermelons for the family table. Every year he saved the seeds from the very best melons in a saucer on the top of the refrigerator and used them for the next year. By the time I was born, Grandpa grew incredibly wonderful watermelon. When we lived in California, I would spend a week or two with my grandparents every summer and they would allow me to choose whatever I wanted to eat from Grandpa's garden. One summer I almost lived on tomatoes, green peppers, and watermelon. I would get up in the night to go to the bathroom and hear my grandparents whisper to each other -- Grandma would comment that I was paying the price for all that watermelon and Grandpa would answer that if I loved it that much they should just let me eat it.

When I was little, my mother tried to get me to spit out cherry pits and watermelon seeds by telling me that if I ate them, a tree/vine would grow out of my ears. The thought of having cherries and watermelon where I only needed to reach up and pick them was so inviting that I swallow them to this day.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science has a very powerful post concerning childhood weight and food issues, discussing anorexia being found in children as young as five, the ways that the literal mind of young children can misunderstand well meant nutrition education, and the tendency of our culture to believe that low fat equals healthy. Among her concerns is the malnutrition that can occur when children become vegetarians.
Junkfood Science Weekend Special: Why are we surprised?

Weather Update

So, by Monday we had received some 60 inches of snow, much of which was still piled high on the sides of the roads. The plows and dump trucks had been busy 24 hours a day for days and days. Because the snow kept coming back, they had been unable to plow to the gutters on either of the streets leading up the hill to my apartment and we had no heating fuel on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday they finally got that taken care of, and warmth returned to my place.

At which point, it started raining. It has rained ever since, practically non-stop. Hardly any snow left anywhere in town. Just little patches here and there. The temperatures have been in the high 40s.

Such is life in Juneau, Alaska.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Adventures of a Deparment Store Santa

The man in this photo is my ex-husband, Dick. That's Richard in his lap. The year Richard was born was the third that Dick had worked as Santa for the White House Department Store in Oakland, California. Dick was a gifted actor and he loved the part.

The first year that he held the position, one day early in the season, when there were no children to visit, he was circulating among the shoppers and adding his ho-ho-hoes* to the cheerful hub-bub, when he approached a woman with "Ho, ho, ho, and what can Santa bring you?" And she responded, "Santa, all I want is a sales clerk!" So, he took her by the hand and led her to the closest counter. Since he was Santa Claus, of course the crowd parted, as the Red Sea for Moses, and the clerk immediately turned to him. "Be a good Santa's Helper and assist this lovely woman," he requested. So it was spoken, and so it was done. A few minutes later the woman sought him out, thanked him and said, "When do you get off Santa? I'll buy you a drink." "Ho, ho, ho. Santa's only 19. Thank you anyway."

The year Richard was born, someone decapitated the Barbie belonging to Dick's niece. He decided to replace the head, and so one day when there was no one about he decapitated one of the store Barbies, stuck her head in his pocket, and her body on the very back of the shelf where no child would be traumatized by it. When he got home he realized he had forgotten to bring the doll head home, but there were still a couple of weeks until Christmas, so he wasn't worried about it. The next day when he went in to work he discovered that the office staff had held their Christmas breakfast that morning and the store manager had worn the Santa suit. And, to the amazement of all, while he was giving a speech of good cheer and general merriment, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out Barbie's head. When he asked Dick how the head had gotten into his pocket, Dick told him he had seen it on the floor in the toy department and picked it up to prevent a small child from being frightened by it. For which quick thinking and responsible behavior, he was praised.

And I'll bet you had never suspected that Maya's Granny was the woman who divorced Santa Claus.

* Hos? Hoes? What is the plural of ho?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Call For Sanity

Once again, I am both impressed and moved by an incredibly sensible and well considered article by Sandy Szwarc, RN, BSN, CCP , at Junkfood Science. One the media ignored: Please don't weigh the children
The panic surrounding childhood obesity has led public schools administrators, politicians and consumer groups to get behind "prevention" approaches which encourage weighing and screening children for "obesity."
Without regard to the evidence.
Based on the findings throughout this Project, the researchers advise that public health interventions should avoid messages focused on weight.

Sadly, this is not the first such study to suggest harm. It concurs with the body of evidence showing the unsupportable nature of all "childhood obesity" initiatives.
. . . recommendations did caution that the potential harm of screening and weighing young people included: "labeling, induced self-managed dieting with its negative sequelae, poorer self-concept, poorer health habits, disordered eating or negative impacts from parental concerns."

Musings:Beliefs, not evidence, continue to come first. Don't our children deserve better?
Drop over and read the entire post.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What I Was Doing
December 6, 1963

In early 1963 I was living in Berkeley and dating a young man who lived in Menlo Park with Jerry Garcia and a couple of other future members of the Grateful Dead. It was a fun existence, with hitch-hiking and exploring altered states of consciousness and generally being a hippy. Until I discovered I was pregnant. At which point, I decided that was not the milieu I wanted to raise a child in and left the young man and left the life style and left my chance at fortune since the young man later became famous in his own right. Never regretted it. Nice young man, but I was right about it not being any way to raise a child.

Not long after this, I ran into an old friend, Dick, who had just returned from New York. My apartment didn't allow children and Dick's did, so he invited me to move in with him.

I had a lot of morning sickness with Richard. Actually, I had so much morning sickness that I weighed slightly less when I checked in for his birth than I had before I was pregnant. At one point an elderly doctor I was seeing before I signed up for the clinic gave me the straight scoop: I would score some pot, take exactly one toke before each meal, or he would have to put me in the hospital on IVs. That, he explained, was what they had done before marijuana was illegal.

Later, I signed up for the clinic at the county hospital, since I was unmarried and broke. We all had appointments for 8:00 a.m. and sat to wait on backless wooden benches. By noon my back would be killing me; if I hadn’t been one of the earliest to sign in when they opened at 8, I would have to come back after lunch (they were closed from 12 to 1) and wait longer. Lots of us were waiting by 7 for an 8 o’clock sign-in, in the hopes of only wasting half a day. Because I had a bicornate uterus (sort of conjoined uteri, capable of being pregnant in both at once, with weeks or months between due dates!), they insisted that I come back once a week for a check-up. Supposedly this was so that whichever doctor was on duty when my child was born would have examined me. I found out when I went to a private physician for my second pregnancy, that wasn’t it. I was going to a teaching hospital and I had an extremely rare condition; they were bringing in every medical student in the San Francisco bay area to examine me for experience and education. Twenty-one years old, convent educated, and every week another group of four or five young men were examining me!

In addition to throwing up every bite I ate, I also fainted a lot. One week while they were taking blood at the clinic I fainted and the blood re-entered my arm, leaving a huge, painless bruise. Two days later I fainted in the middle of an intersection, and as I went down I heard a man say, “not even 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning, and drunk already!” That one left me with skinned knees and elbows. Actually, I looked like nothing less than a battered wife, now that I think about it. I sincerely hope no one thought Dick was mistreating me!

The first time I went into false labor, they had me stay in the hospital for a couple of hours and then sent me home. The second time, because it happened after 10 p.m., they had me stay overnight. In the morning, as I was sitting, episode over and waiting for a doctor to come in and release me, a young intern stopped by and asked if I was doing alright. When I told him I was, he seemed puzzled but then realized that I didn’t know that JFK had been shot.

When Dick came to check me out, I was wearing my blue dress with the sailor collar and belt and had my hair braided to keep it from tangling while I was in bed. We were waiting at the nurse’s station, and the nurse came up and said, rather sternly, “Children under 14 are not allowed on this floor.” As I stood there, trying to figure out how I was supposed to be there without the baby, Dick explained that I was 21 and checking out after false labor.

Although I had mistaken the false labor for the real thing, when I did go into labor, there was no mistaking it. It was a completely different level of sensation. The doctor came to check on me, and turned out to be the only medical professional on the west coast who had never examined me. I told him that we had records going back for five generations in my direct female line and no one had gone over four hours of labor. He explained to me that my mother meant intense labor, that my family had lied to me to keep my calm and not frighten me, and that since this was my first child, I would have a good 36 hours of labor. And that’s why, less than two hours from my first twinge, Dick (who by this time was my husband) stuck his head out the door of the labor room and called to the doctor, “I can see the head” and the doctor had to drop his cup of coffee and catch Richard.

Richard was born just after midnight on December 6, 1963. The hospital, being county, wouldn’t let me eat until breakfast, and I was starving. Dick snuck out and smuggled a cheeseburger and milkshake to me by ripping a hole in the lining of his pea coat and slipping them in.

The best part was holding Richard. He was five pounds and seven ounces; and after a short labor, he wasn’t all red and his head wasn’t misshapen. He was a lovely baby. He was also the only white baby in the nursery, and his full head of white kid hair looked absolutely bald. Those were the days when nursing was discouraged, and I had no idea how to go about it. But, being in a dorm with seven women who had nursed all of their children was wonderful. They all gave hints and clues. They all thought I was so funny. When the nurse tried to tell me that I had no choice but to sign permission for a circumcision, “it’s against the law for you to take him home without it” I stated fiercely that no one was mutilating my child and that if the law said it had to be done they wouldn’t need my permission.

And yet, I had to be taught how to breast feed and to call him by name, rather than baby. I think that the consensus was that “white women are strange, aren’t they?” I didn’t care; they taught me how to nurse him. They all thought that for a bald little thing he was a lovely baby. They could laugh at me all they wanted. They, after all, did know much more about what they were doing than I did.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wonder & Delight

I just had a call from my landlady. The snow plows have finally managed to get the snow removed clear to the sidewalks from one of the two roads that lead up to our building and the fuel truck has been able to get up the hill! We have been out of fuel since Sunday morning, but the man is filling the tanks as I write and then my landlady will go in and start the pilot lights on my heaters (one upstairs, one down) and when I get home the apartment will be warm as toast. Ah, tonight I can sleep in one nightie and without my heavy bathrobe and socks!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Julie's Necklace

When the kids were little, they used to make me gifts at school. Actually, their teachers taught them how to do this, choosing "crafts" that a small child could make and then (oh, dare I admit what an unnatural mother I am?), inflict upon his/her poor, innocent mother. Once it was a Siamese cat made from a Michelob bottle circa 1977 with a light bulb as a head. Can you imagine a child coming home from school these days with the need for a beer bottle and a burned out light bulb? I seldom drink, so getting the bottle took an extra trip for me. I try to imagine what it would have been like for an alcoholic!

Once it was a necklace made from a chain of paper clips that were then covered in green paper. Julie remembers this as wrapping paper; I remember it as gum wrappers. Julie must be correct, because you would have to chew an awful lot of gum to have enough wrappers for an entire class.

At any rate, when it was jewelry, I would wear it out of the house in the morning, take it off and leave it in the car when I got to work, and put it back on when I got in the car to come home. Except for one day. One day when I had to address the board of the agency I was working for at the time. And wondered why they were all smiling at me the entire time I was talking. That is, until I went to the bathroom later and saw myself in the mirror. Wearing my paper clip necklace.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Snow Blowin'

Here is a story I wrote for Maya the last time we had a winter like this one, which was 1999. Richard wasn't able to come and fix my computer on Saturday, since a tree had come down on a power line and we were having blackouts, so he came today. I was reviewing for the class I am going to be teaching tomorrow, and so I have just come upstairs to the computer and am posting this and then to bed. I'm glad to have my computer back, and you can expect daily posts once again.

So, when I wrote this story, Missy was still alive and I was working as a parenting coach. I rented a car three days a week to do home visits, which was cheaper than owning one because I had worked a deal with the local Rent-A-Wreck. And, since parking is a problem on the hill where I live, it was helpful to only have to worry about that two nights a week.

Now, Maya remembers how on Wednesday night the snorts came up to Granny's hill on Basin Road and spent twelve hours removing snow and keeping everyone awake. And Maya remembers how on Thursday night the snorts came to Granny's hill and spent two hours clearing snow from the parking lot right across the street from Granny's apartment and that they did it in the middle of the night and it kept Granny and Missy and everybody else awake and scared Missy very much. And Maya also remembers how Granny noticed that the snow removal truck took the snow from the parking lot and made the corners straight and square, just like Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann.

Well, so that takes care of Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday afternoon Mary came and shoveled snow from Granny's stairs and shoveled a path to the street for Granny and a place to park the Rent-A-Wreck. So, at 2:00 in the morning of Friday, when the snow removal crew finished the parking lot, the road was clear and the parking lot was clear and Granny's stairs were clear and the path from Granny's stairs was clear and the parking space for Granny's Rent-A- Wreck was clear. And that night it did not snow one flake more. Oh, no it did not. Instead, the wind blew and blew and blew as hard as it could. It lifted the snow from the rooftops and it lifted the snow from the hillsides and it lifted whatever snow it could find and it blew that snow around. Yes, that wind just had a merry little time, indeed.

So, when Granny and Missy got up on Friday morning, what do you suppose? Granny looked out her window, and the corners of the parking lot were not straight and square any longer. No, indeed, there was drifted snow in all the corners. There was drifted snow in the center of the parking lot. When Granny went downstairs for breakfast, she looked out the window and she could see that the road wasn't clear any longer. No, indeed, there were snow drifts in the road. When Granny went down the outside stairs, the stairs weren't clear any longer. No, indeed. The top two steps only had a half an inch of snow, but by the time she got to the bottom of the stair case, she had crusted snow on her pants right up to the knees! It was way too deep for Granny to sweep clear. She would have to call Mary to come and shovel it for her again. And when Granny got to the Rent-A-Wreck, there was snow drifted from the bottom of the windshield out, out, out beyond the front bumper. It looked like Granny had driven into a snow dune. Luckily, there was no snow drifted behind the car, so Granny was able to just back out of her snow dune. "Goodness, gracious, me," said Granny as she brushed snow off the car, "this is a pretty pass! Yes, indeed, this is a mess. Here everything was neat and clean and straight and square at 2 a.m., and now it is all drifted up and messy again. It's amazing, the different ways that this winter is creating messes."

Friday, December 01, 2006


Meet Molly, the Chester Zoo's two week old Rothschild giraffe. I saw her picture and couldn't resist sharing it with you. Isn't she a wonderful combination of beauty and young gawkiness? Don't you just want to pet her and kiss her little forehead and love her up?

Isn't the world a wonderful place to have such an amazing creature in it? Wasn't it worth getting up this morning?

Particularly since we are being sent home from work three hours early because Juneau expects 14 inches more snow by nightfall, isn't a giraffe a wonderful concept? Ah, the Serengeti Plains -- no snow, no icy roads, no Care-A-Van calling to tell me that they can't get up my hill, so once more it is the one cab with studs and four-wheel drive!

I am going to go out to linner (late lunch, early dinner) and then take a cab home. A good, balanced meal without having to cook. Maybe some leftovers to take with me.

Richard is planning to come and fix my computer (the part is here!!!) on Saturday, so I should be posting by tomorrow evening and all will be right with my world. Assuming they ever manage to get the road to my place ploughed to the sides so that the fuel truck can get up there before we run out of heating oil!

Life on the new frontier is full of excitement.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

May your December be happy and prosperous.

May your life and your loved ones find warmth and love and cheer.

May all the wishes of the season come true.

Rabbit. Rabbit. Rabbit.