Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Coming apart a bit

Last week, I seemed to have a vendetta against my hands. I slammed my thumb in a dresser drawer. I touched a wood-burning tool and gave myself a nasty burn. I broke just about every nail on both hands by consistently and repeatedly ramming my hands into things dropping things and generally being clumsy.

At the same time, I've been accident prone and forgetful. There's the drawer and burn incidents cited above. I dropped Pukka's laptop and broke it. We drove to another state for a concert and I left the tickets at home.

For the record, I do not believe in some Greater Being who does bad things to me (or allows them to be done) so that I might learn some kind of lesson. However, I do believe that a pattern of accidents or illness in my life generally indicates some kind of underlying imbalance. If I can spot that problem and fix it, I can save myself some pain, and what's not to like about that?

So what's my problem now? Exactly what I'd like to know. Generally, when I've had a string of these things, I can sit down and think about them for awhile and evenutally an answer comes to me. Usually, there's a kind of "ah-ha" recognition to the right answer, but this time such recognition is just not coming.

First we have my hands. To me, hands mean work. Ok, so something's out of whack at work. The problem with this answer is that it's akin to noting that the sky is blue. I don't want to go into the details here, but I am so well aware that my job is fucked up right now that it's not even funny. I don't need to lose a digit to clue me in. Not to mention that the situation has actually been looking up since this little rash of injuries started.

Ok, fine, so let's try the accident/CRS angle. I have this come up a lot. Pat answer here is that I'm not being present. It's pretty easy to hurt yourslef when you're not inhabiting your space. But again, this answer just doesn't feel right.

So I'm left without much of a clue as to what's going on. I'd hoped that if I let this sit in the back of my mind for a day or two that I might come up with something, but so far, no dice. The good news is that, at least for the last couple of days, I've seemed to achieve a minimal/normal level of injury. So maybe whatever it is has worked itself out, at least until it comes up again.

Wintery inspiration?

I'm in charge of finding readings for my covenant group's Thursday meeting this week. I've got some candidates so far, but nothing I'm incredibly taken with. We're trying to come up with some ways to celebrate winter, and not just surviving it until spring. If anyone has ideas on something I could use, I'd be more than happy to hear about it, either in comments or email.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Why I need an email editor

Was writing to PJ today about our recent trip to IKEA and some pictures we'd picked up for the baby's room:

”They don't really fit in the theme of her room at all, but they totally crack me up. If you don't want them, we'll just save them for our theoretical kids. (Tried finding them on the website, but they don't appear to have them there, so you'll just have to wait to see them until we bring them home.)”

She replied, "……I thought you were talking about looking for kids on the website! Too funny."

I guess we'll all have to wait until we bring them home!!

The sad part? All this silliness just served to remind me of a site where it feels like you can "shop" for kids.

Friday, February 18, 2005


My mother has five cats in her house, as well as a varying number of feral strays she feeds in the backyard. When my father passes away, I'm sure she'll become one of those "cat ladies."

Awhile back one of the friendlier outdoor cats gave birth to her first litter of kittens no less than two feet from my mom's back door. Mom made a house for her and the new babies on the deck out of a cardboard box, some old towels and some packing tape. I was home for a visit before their eyes were even open, and my inner brat
had a field day, latching onto any available opportunity to handle the little fuzz-budgets.

"You leave those kittens alone! She's going to move them to the garage if you keep it up."
"But mo-om, I'm just checking to see whether they're boys or girls."
ad infinitum . . .

Momma cat did not move the kittens, in spite of my pestering. She and my mother proceeded to raise all four kittens until they were old enough to give away to real homes. And then momma moved from her box on the deck into mom's house.

One of the kittens ended up going home with Pukka. He said he didn't know if he could have a cat. He said he wasn't sure he wanted one. He kept reminding me he was allergic. But I took him outside and deposited the little furballs in his arms, one by one, until I saw the look that told me we were going to become a three cat family.

Two years and a little more later, and we still refer to him as "the kitten." (Sometimes I go as far as "momma's little baby," but he'd prefer we not speak of that.) Frequently, his name is expanded to "the gorram kitten. Occasionally, he's actually called by his name, which is Twiglet.

Despite our best efforts, the kitten is a biter. He doesn't listen and he's got a bit of an attitude. We think he may be part of the kitten mafia. We plan to try again with a dog, but people, if we don't do any better with the canine, we will never be having children.

On weeknights, Pukka goes to bed first, and the kitten follows shortly thereafter. By the time I make my way to our bed, I usually find not only a snoring husband but the kitten lounging on my pillow. It's aggravating, and not really all that conducive to me getting to sleep in any sort of reasonable time period since I always feel guilty clearing my spot by virtue of my greater mass and use of opposable thumbs.

Then one night I stepped into the darkness of our bedroom and was feeling around for my pajamas when the kitten opened his eyes sleepily from the nest of my pillow and reached out one paw as if to touch my face. I melted. Since that night, the kitten on my pillow was there waiting for me, not stealing my spot.

Pukka still snores though.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Can you believe I'm the smart one in my family?

Last week I was explaining to an acquaintance that a friend of ours is currently working at a medical clinic in Guatemala.

"Nicaragua," Pukka corrected.

"Whatever," I responded flippantly. "How am I supposed to keep all of those four syllable South American ending in 'uh' countries straight?"

From the look on Marsha's face, I knew I was in trouble. "Central America," she corrected.

And before I had the good sense to quit while I was ahead, I pulled out the final nail for my coffin: "Yeah, but they're both south of here!"

So yeah, not only am I ignorant, but I'm way more American than I normally like to admit. Good to know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Couple of quick things

Oh my! Poor unfortunate souls have been finding their way here for awhile now by doing 'net searches regarding someone's unfortunate counting mistake. I feel bad for them, but really, what can be done? But now someone's come here by searching on "how do you know you are ready for children." I wish I could help with that one; I honestly do. If anyone's got the answer, be sure to let me know, because I certainly could use the info as well.

In other news, if you've been concerned about the FMLA thing, but just haven't felt up to composing something, the National Partnership for Women and Families has done it for you. All you have to do is fill in your contact info and it's on its way. (via Half Changed World)

Today I found myself exploring a new (at least to me) blog. I noticed that the first thing I did was not read any posts, but check the blogroll to see if it mentioned anyone I knew. How strange is that? I'd like to think I generally make my judgements based on merit, but at least this morning it seemed to be more about who a person's friends are. Nice. It also reminded me I really need to get my own list updated.

And last, but certainly not least, my niece is beautiful and wonderful and loves her mommy best. Friday we were at the fabric store trying to find something for curtains for her room when she began to fuss. I was carrying her at the time and she eventually worked her way into full-fledged wailing, making sure that everyone in the store was aware of her displeasure. Finally PJ said, "I can take her back if you want." I handed her ooer, there was a whimper, then blessed silence. I guess I know where I rank now.

The good news is that we got several things accomplished, including sewing a sling, so now PJ will hopefully be able to get more two-handed jobs done. I'm always 1000% more efficient when it comes to getting PJ's projects done than I am my own. Not sure what's up with that, although it should be noted that I'm getting really close to finishing my second afghan for Xmas 2005. Who knew I could actually be that stubborn? (Don't anyone feel compelled to actually answer that.)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Some business for a Friday

Yeah, I know, it's Friday and we're all ready to start the weekend. But there's a little business around here to take care of.

First off, my job: Did you know that when I wrote my piece on abortion just a couple of weeks ago, the first Google hit for Roe v. Wade was to an anti-abortion site? I noticed it, but was too distracted to get sufficiently riled up to do anything. Fortunately, someone else did notice, and did get riled up, and then proceeded to get a bunch of other people riled up. One google bomb later, and things look a little more normal. Good news, as far as I'm concerned, for anyone looking for factual information on Roe v. Wade. I'm a little late to the party, so I figure why not start on that #2 spot?

Your jobs, should you choose to accept them:

  • Bush's budget calls for a 25% increase in funding for abstinence-only education. Now, abstinence is a darned good way to not get pregnant or contract STDs; I'm not going to deny that. The problem is that our kids seem unwillling or unable to practice it, and in light of that, they need additional information and education. Click here to tell your elected representatives what a bad idea this is.

  • Also, the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) is in danger. This is near and dear to my wanna-be-having-kids heart, since I was turned down for short-term disability for having been on anti-depressants in the past. Joy. Details on why this is a problem and what you can do about it are over at Half Changed World.

    Alright, that concludes the work portion of this blogging Friday. Now that we've done our part to make the world a slightly better place, we can all go enjoy our weekend just a little bit more.

    As for me, I'm off to bask in the cuteness that is my itty-bitty niece. Later!

  • Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Abigail's buttons

    On winter solstice my sister P.J. gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, the first child of my family's next generation, a princess from birth. We'll call her Abigail.

    Friday I will be heading back home to see both of them for the first time since Abigail's birth. In the car with me will be several presents for the wee one. Pukka and I have big plans to be the "cool" aunt and uncle in both families, and we're starting early with Abigail, despite her current apparent lack of awareness.

    Last night I (finally) finished the crocheting of the sweater I've been making for her. My mother has knitted this child an entire wardrobe by this point in her life, but my sweater is a little different than anything Abigail has from her grandmother. No soft pastels from me. No sir. My baby sweater is fuschia and purple and periwinkle and fuschia some more. If I have things my way, my niece will not only be recognizable as a girl, but as the bold feisty girl I'm hoping she'll become.

    Tonight I finished weaving the ends in and then set about finding the buttons to finish Abigail's sweater. One of the things I inherited from my grandmother's sewing room was a plastic shoebox full of buttons. I pulled this box out and began sifting through it, looking for something suitable. Fairly early on, I found a card with enough plain-Jane white buttons for what I needed. They definitely would do. But I wasn't satisfied with them. I set them aside for my fallback and kept looking.

    I thought of P.J. Every time we visit a store with loose buttons, she's not happy until she's seen them with her hands. I'm usually distracted by fabric, but she always calls me over to share: "Put your hands in here. Doesn't that feel great?"

    Using grandma's buttons had started as an exercise in practicality. Planning ahead is not my strong suit, and there aren't many fabric stores open at 10 pm on a Wednesday night. As I sorted with my right hand, I put the potentials in the palm of my left. Many of grandma's buttons were cut from worn out clothing. I know this because I know her, and she was not one for waste. I also know it because some buttons still have thread or a little scrap of cloth attached. Whenever I look through the loose buttons, I like to try and imagine where they came from. I make up little stories about them and the people that wore them.

    Grandma died about six months before Pukka and I married. She met him, she cooked for him, and she beat him at cards. I think she approved. Some days it catches me fresh that our daughters will never meet her, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

    I looked into my left hand and found a motley assortment of buttons of varying sizes, shapes and colors. You never know how many matching buttons there are of any type in grandma's box. There may be twenty; there may be just the one. Who can say? In my hand there were only two matching buttons. They were white, slightly domed, the shank for sewing them hidden beneath. They were a little opalescent and rimmed with a narrow rough chunky gold border. My inner magpie had latched onto the first one I saw with a cry of "Pretty!"

    There were two in my hand, but I needed three for the sweater. I sorted through the box with more intention this time. Three. Four. Five. That seemed to be all. I picked out the three that looked best to me, the three that seemed strongest, and I sewed them onto the front of Abigail's sweater, imagining the blouse of my grandma's that was their original home.

    Friday I will take the sweater to Abigail. And I will tell her: "These buttons came from your great-grandmother. She was an amazing woman. And someday you will be one too."


    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Kitty Love

    Tigger is obsessed with our friend Marsha.
    Marsha is, of course, allergic.

    Still, they get along as well as might be expected for an interspecies relationship. That's not to say they don't occasionally have their little spats though. Once when Marsha came to visit, Tigger couldn't be bothered to spend time with her. Immediately after she left though, he went to the door and looked out plaintively. When I told her about it the next day, she asked me to relay a message to him: "You snooze, you lose, kitty."

    Apparently Tigger's taken this to heart. Last night I was sitting in the living room with Tigger velcroed to my lap when we heard a car pull up and park in the lot outside. Tigger's ears perked up and he dashed over to the sliding glass door, peering intently out into the darkness. Sure enough, a minute later, Marsha appeared at the doorstep. Ah, kitty love!

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    You should be glad I don't audblog

    Last night

    Me: College taught me to be able to write three to five pages on any subject in the universe. Grad school taught me to be able to write no more than one page on everything I know anything about.

    Pukka: You still talk five pages worth though.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Turn of phrase

    So apparently a group of vultures is called a venue:

    A venue of vultures circled overhead.

    Who knew?

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005


    When I first came to Iowa, I met my first vultures. A flock of turkey vultures lived in the woods between our camp and Lake Ahquabi, and on any given day you could see them circling high overhead, riding the thermals. I loved watching them up there, so big and lazy, watching me back. I learned that they lived in a "town" in the forest as one huge extended family group.

    Once, for lack of anything better to do, I convinced a group of kids to help me ambush them. We lay on our backs on the top of the burial mound in the warm sun and waited to see if they would notice us.

    I never imagined that the vultures would actually come. I never imagined that the kids would be able to lay still for that long.

    They came, circling lower and lower, wings wider than my arm span, growing immense as they descended from the sky.

    I knew I had to do something, but I was entranced. They came closer and closer until finally one of the girls couldn't stand it any more and sat up. The vultures panicked, flapping frantically to regain the sky.

    See, all that lazy circling comes at a price. The vulture is far-seeing, but it takes them tremendous effort to reach the height that makes the vision possible. But once they do, they can soar for hours without flapping their wings. I guess life's always a trade-off, even for the scavengers.