Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Fate of Humanity...

...sometimes seems bleak.

I'm working on a book of essays about genocide studies. Many of them are classic scholarly dissections of who said what and when, and whether the author agrees or respectfully thinks they're morons.

But then there are the other chapters:
Nazis vs. Poland
English vs. Aborigines
Germans vs. Herero and San
Spanish vs. Inca
Turks vs. Armenians
Cambodians vs. Vietnamese vs.
Canadians vs. Blackfoot

and the list goes on and on and on...

It's a pretty depressing assignment. To think that there's enough genocide in human history that there are legions of scholars dissecting it, and journals and books devoted to it -- well, it's just sad.

I'd like to end on a happy note, something about rubbing noses with my darling daughter or giant little-boy hugs. But I've got a headache and this book's taking forever to finish. I think I'm going to play computer games now...mindless entertainment sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two Things

Another night, more fried brain cells. The rest of the week will probably have to be a non-work-related-Internet-free zone. Most of my 7 loyal readers have seen and/or done this one already, so no tags today.

Two Names You Go By:

  1. Mama
  2. Pookie (my mother only, thank you!)

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:

  1. blue tie-dye t-shirt
  2. abalone shell hair clip (no, I'm not actually a hippie, but I play one occasionally)

Two Things You Would Want (or have) in a Relationship:

  1. trust
  2. laughter

Two of Your Favorite Things to Do:

  1. waste time on Facebook/blogging
  2. knitting and crocheting

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:

  1. someone to wash the dishes and do the laundry
  2. five more days added to this week before my latest project is due

Two Longest Car Rides:

  1. from Los Angeles to Corvallis, Oregon (900 miles, when I was a baby and again at 7 years old)
  2. from New York City to Augusta, Georgia (800 miles, coming up at the beginning of next month!)

Two Favorite Holidays:

  1. Christmas/Hannukah
  2. Halloween

Two Favorite Beverages:

  1. coffee
  2. homemade kefir

Two Things About Me You May Not Have Known:

  1. I can read Italian fairly well.
  2. I can't swim and have no desire to.

Two Jobs I Have Had in My Life:

  1. library page
  2. running a bag-sealing machine in an electronics parts factory

Two Movies I Would Watch Over and Over:

  1. Amadeus
  2. White (Trois Couleurs)

Two Places I Have lived:

  1. Pollock Pines, CA
  2. Newport Beach, CA

Two of My Favorite Foods:

  1. sushi
  2. bacon

Two Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:

  1. Vienna
  2. a cruise ship with Waldorf-style child care!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Big Boy!

Today SillyBilly is 5 years old. I'm having a hard time digesting did he get so big? And I mean big: he's been wearing 6X shirts for a while and has size 12 1/2 feet!

On this day 5 years ago, he was being rushed to the NICU via ambulance while Anthropapa dazedly called people to let them know (He completely forgot to tell my mother what hospital we were in, so she ended up calling my work number and talking to my lead who was fielding my calls, who then told her the names of all the local hospitals. Mom had to call all of them until she figured out where we were!), and I groggily tried to recover from the emergency c-section and essentially could not really comprehend what had happened.

It's hard to believe that those things didn't just happen a few days ago. But, it's true -- SillyBilly is growing up. He's potty trained now (mostly). He has progressed from bassinet to crib to toddler bed, and if we had room for it he would fit into a twin bed nicely now. He will someday soon learn to read and write, and learn to ride his bike sans training wheels.

Let me tell you a bit more about my big boy. He is:

  • a tough cookie. He has hidden reserves of strength that showed from the start. Despite the trauma and illness at his birth, he found a way to survive and flourish. Here's the first day I got to hold him, 21 days after his birth. He had made it over the hump and was only 10 days away from coming home:
  • full of love. If you want the best hug ever, he's your man. He has mastered the art of the "Dr. Crackit," defined by my dad as a big, big, hug that borders on a chiropractic adjustment.
  • full of joy:
  • a social butterfly. He will run right up to strangers to share his recent discoveries, and goes into transports whenever he sees someone he knows walking down the street.
  • a lover of tools.
  • a ready helper. He can put out the compost into the big bin, dry dishes, feed the cats, set the table, cut vegetables (with a sharp knife!), and even stir sauces.
  • a good brother. Though he has his share of spats and selfishness, he does look after his sister and will sometimes even share his toys. He just needs a little practice, that's all.
  • a champion eater. He's always been on the skinny side, but lately he seems to be making up for lost time. Can you say third helpings?
  • an eagle eye. I have the world's most amazing feather collection, and he can find any kind of rock you would like, any time. And just try to make a tiny change in decor without him noticing.
  • an awesome artist. He has made some amazing cardboard creations, makes about 40 gazillion drawings per week, and is also and accomplished sculptor. Check out this playdough birthday cake, complete with flaming candles:
  • gorgeous. You could fall right into those dark brown eyes.
My dear sweetie boy, you have embarked on your sixth year on this Earth. I wish you health, happiness, and all good things. Big smooches and hugs from your Mama.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brain Fried...

Only enough neurons available for a meme....

The Name Game, via Helen and Charlotte.

1. My rock star name (first pet and current car)

Chaucer Chrysler

(I think I'll be working the county fair circuit with that one.)

2. My gangsta name (ice cream flavour plus cookie, or biscuit)

Chocolate Ginger-O

3. My fly girl name (first letter of first name, first three letters of last name)


(Sounds like some ancient Aramaic curse. With my maiden name it would be K-Joh. Now I'm a Korean fly girl.)

4. My detective name (favourite colour, favourite animal)

Tangerine Fox

(Or, my porn star name.)

5. My soap opera name (middle name, city of birth)

Elaina Santa Monica

6. My Star Wars name (first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name)


(She-Ra's ugly stepsister.)

7. My superhero name (second favourite colour, favourite drink, add “the”)

The Green Mocha

(Or, time to clean out the coffee machine.)

8. My Nascar name (first two names of my two grandfathers)

Nils Walter

(Clearly, the Swedish NASCAR.)

9. My stripper name (favourite perfume, favourite sweet)

Rosewater Scharffenberger

(Clearly, a Teutonic stripper.)

10. My witness protection name (mother’s and father’s middle names)

Esther Vernon

(Petunia Dursley's best friend.)

11. My weather anchor name (fifth grade teacher’s name, a major city beginning with the same letter)

Grossman Geneva

(Perhaps I should try his first name: how about Alan Glasgow?)

12. My spy name (favourite season/flower)

Autumn Tulip

13. Cartoon name (favourite fruit plus garment you’re wearing, with an “ie” or “y” added)

Pear Jeansie

14 Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast plus favourite tree)

Ricepancake Whiteoak

15. Your rockstar tour name (favourite hobby plus weather element, with “the”)

The Crocheting Fog

(Or perhaps this would be my "two days before Christmas presents must be done" name.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh, My Lord...Who Has the Time?

I just came across this in my daily Craftzine blog email:

The E-Bento daily lunch diary! I want someone to make me lunches like that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yesterday it was my birthday,
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed,
My life's a mess,
But I'm having a good time
-Paul Simon

OK, that's a slight exaggeration. I wouldn't say my life is a mess, though there is a steady level of chaos. But overall, I am having a good time.

Yesterday we had the traditional Anthrofamily birthday bagels with lox and cream cheese for breakfast, and a sushi dinner with chocolate cake for dessert (the disfigured cake was redeemed with some chocolate sauce drizzled on top). I got some sweet presents, including random "precious" items from the toy shelf lovingly wrapped up by the kids. Napoleona kept throwing her arms around me, smothering me with kisses, and saying Happy Birthday Mama four gazillion times.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of my stepbrother Jonathan's death at the World Trade Center. I never knew him, but I have become close to my stepfather over the intervening years and have seen the toll this tragedy has taken on him. Now that I live near NYC I think about Jonathan often. I think about his children, 11 months and 3 years old at the time of his death.

My birthday was not "ruined" by the events of 9/11/01 as many people comment. Changed forever, yes -- the reality of our mortality and life's transitory nature has been brought close to mind.

I've known mothers who will not let their family members out of sight without saying "I love you," out of fear that one of them might die without hearing those words one last time. I cannot live in fear like that. I resolve to make sure in every way possible that my family knows how much I care for them, but from a foundation of love, not fear.

Everything that I read and hear of Jonathan tells me that he lived with exuberance and joy, and that friends and family rejoiced in his passions and affection. That's a better role model, I think.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Mishmash

I'm serving up myself a nice hot dish of humble pie* for dessert tonight....

Yesterday I made the following comment on someone's blog :

"I don't think TV is appropriate for young children at all, and only in small doses for older children."

I followed that up by entertaining my children for a half an hour looking at pictures and YouTube videos of animals from the site.

I loathe the overly cutesy captions and comments, but we were all cracking up at kittens attacking empty boxes, overfed hamsters, and the world's tiniest snail.

I know, I know.

It's just that when the kidlets wake up from their nap and I'm already on the computer, they immediately beg for pictures of dinosaurs or puppies or whatever. And I'm weak, I'M WEAK, I TELL YOU!

*I just love Wikipedia: where else can you find the following things all related to each other: Offal | Savoury pies | English idioms?

* * *

This afternoon SillyBilly reminded me of his greatest superpower: eagle-eye vision. (The boy can spot the tiniest things, as well as the one thing that you didn't want him to notice, or the one tiny thing that you changed in the room.) He noticed a visitor in my bedroom window:

Though I hate tormenting creatures, I just had to go outside and bring this amazing mantis in for the kids to see. (It was raining, and the thought of getting the kids ready to go outside in rain gear before the mantis left was beyond me at that moment.) It was mostly reddish brown, with bright green wings peeking out. And about 6 inches long!

I had caught it in a large glass water pitcher, and the mantis showed us his amazing superpower by crawling all the way up the sheer, slippery side of the pitcher and almost escaping!

* * *

Tomorrow is my birthday (yes, it's a nice birthday to have. I just get a little extra pondering of mortality every year now). I decided to make my own birthday cake. Mostly to give the kids a project, but also because the last store-bought cake we ate just wasn't that good, and this way I at least know what the ingredients are and can pronounce them!

I also decided to try out my spiffy cake pan that I bought a long time ago:

Of course, I don't have a recipe for this pan's shape or volume, but with my trusty Joy of Cooking I was feeling no fear. I used the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe.

Now, I seem to have a constitutional inability to follow recipes exactly as written. Though this time it wasn't all my fault: Anthropapa had bought some almond extract so I just had to add some, and we didn't have enough sour cream so I improvise a half cup of whole milk and lemon juice.

The kids had a great time sifting and stirring, though mostly they liked licking the spoons. Coming out of the oven, all seemed well:

I hadn't expected the batter to completely fill the pan, and in any case I could live without a little train around the bottom of my cake.

The problem occurred when I tried to get the cake to come out:

I don't know if the batter just wasn't quite right for the pan, or I didn't grease the pan enough, or didn't let it cool enough before attempting it.

Whatever. It will still taste good, especially after I melt some more chocolate to drizzle on top.

Shove a few candles in it, and pass me a fork!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Little Help for a Friend

I normally don't advertise here, but I just discovered that a friend has a website for her amazing artwork.

Judit makes beautiful pictures from wool, in the manner described in Magic Wool. She plant-dyes much of the wool herself, and I can say from seeing these works in person that they are masterfully done.

Check them out!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Literary Heroine Has Died

Madeleine L'Engle was a favorite author during my youth. I read and re-read her books obsessively. The Wrinkle in Time books were some of the first science fiction/fantasy I had ever encountered. In later years I even came to have crushes on some of her characters, like Adam and Joshua from The Arm of the Starfish.

As a child of suburban Southern California, I was always fascinated by her depictions of life on the East Coast and exotic locations around the world, as well as by the dynamics of large families. I could not fathom how it would be to have so many siblings! And how it was to live in Manhattan or Connecticut in brownstones and farm houses...I could hardly grasp it, but it was intriguing.

The thing that fascinated me most was how characters crossed over from her two main story groups: Chronos (the Austins) and Kairos (the Murry-O'Keefes). It was the first time I had experienced a writer essentially creating an entire world that spanned multiple books.

I will miss her.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mad mildew marauders

Spent an hour yesterday morning madly cleaning out the bathtub and the shower curtain, which despite being "mildew resistant" was not, in fact, mildew-proof. I thought it might help to remove one source of mildew in the house, because the boy is having another asthma episode.

He spent a lovely morning over the weekend, puttering around with his Papa in the basement. The basement that is rather mildewy and is in the process of being organized and cleaned out in anticipation of a possible move this winter.

The puttering was lovely, the mildew was not. He's been having (as we all have had -- thank you, goldenrod and wild molds) lots of gunk in his throat, but over the weekend he developed asthma.

Seems like these episodes come on so suddenly. It would be one thing if he was one of those kids who has to take his meds every day, but overall was functional. That at least would have some rhythm. SillyBilly is functional for a few months and then WHAM! something sets it off. Usually a virus -- this time I think the mold.

So we saw the pediatrician today after loading the boy up with far too much albuterol, sometimes even double doses twice as often. Bad sign, that. We resigned ourselves to giving him the evil pink stuff. As our wonderful doctor put it, giving the boy a bit of it every few months and heading off these attacks before they really go full bore is a sight better than giving him lots of steroids all the time.

We're still working with the homeopathic anthroposophical remedies, but they're kind of supplementary when the wheezing gets too bad. This time it was bad enough that he had a hard time talking and vomited a few times. Almost a trip to the ER, but we worked through it.


Update: The boy is much better. We gave him two doses of evil pink stuff, and that seemed to put the brakes on things. Still lots of congestion, but he's not fighting for air any more. And he got to go to the first day of daycare after all. Now I just need to figure out how to get him to take naps when he's sick....