Friday, January 29, 2016

Doodle Therapy

Trying to maintain some equanimity this week, I have been doodling more, both repeating previous designs and experimenting with new ones.  I found a couple of magazines, with some designs and ideas I hadn't seen.  It's been quite the release.

And today, out of nowhere, my Zentangle Kit for my workshop in April arrived today; I didn't even know they were sending it, much less now.  So I have some new supplies and materials to work with, which is exciting.


We took a break from our kitty hospice here (we had someone feed the patient, though) and went into the city last night to see Allegiance, the musical about Japanese-American internment camps during WWII inspired by the life story of actor and cultural icon George Takei.  We had been on the fence about going anytime soon, but the closing of the show was announced and I realized how much I wanted to see it, especially after a few friends really recommended it.  So, Mama found this great opportunity through her audience rewards membership (for frequent Broadway attendees, and we're not all that frequent) to attend a Q&A with the tree main cast members, George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung.

Musically and structurally, it is not the strongest of shows--I've seen worse (Whistle Down the Wind, anyone?)--but emotionally it was extremely powerful, especially in light of current world events with Syrian refugees and the vitriol spewed against them (and Mexicans and Muslims and women and people with disabilities) by Trump.  The musical follows one Japanese-American family's experiences and reactions to its experiences when they are incarcerated in miserable circumstances after Pearl Harbor; the son is very patriotic and joins the Army but the daughter comes to resist the internment, pulling their family apart and separating them for the rest of their lives.  Gaman, a Japanese word from Zen Buddhism meaning "to face the unbearable with dignity and patience"--a kind of mindfulness in the face of crisis--is a key tenet (and song.)  The show also addresses the worth and dignity of all human life, the importance of social justice, the scourge of racism, difficult decisions in times of war, standing up for one's beliefs, the nature of loyalty and allegiance; you could say it's a very Unitarian Universalist musical.  But it doesn't give easy answers--both the patriotic son, the resistant daughter, and ancillary characters are often sympathetic--and, even though there is a technically happy ending (when the now aged son is reunited with his niece), as Bud put it, "it wasn't a very happy show."

The performances were marvelous, though.  Takei, of course, is best known for Star Trek and his work as a gay rights advocate and now leading cultural figure.  He was in turn funny as the old grandfather and touchingly tragic as the aged Army soldier son.  Salonga, whom Mama saw in Miss Saigon some 22 years ago, has an amazing voice and sings many of the show's most touching songs.  And Leung was an exuberant and then devastated young man.

Best yet, we got to hear from all three of them after the show!   It was fascinating to hear them talk about the different iterations of the show. Apparently at some point there were two brothers and no sister, a mama, the nurse was actually just the daughter of the warden, Sammy was a minor character with asthma who only had one song. Leung talked about all the changes in the six years he's been with the workshop and the show. Salonga talked about how her Chinese-Japanese husband has relatives who managed not to be sent to camps because they moved to Colorado where the governor refused to lock anyone up. And of course Takei talked about the seat he is leaving open for Trump  to come learn about the very real effects of discrimination and racism in our world today (Trump even recently said he would have supported the camps during WWII.)  I saw the seat--it was down the row from us during the talk-back--and it had remained empty.  It wasn't very long, but it added an extra-dimension to the narrative and to our understanding of the process of the creation of musical.  

On another note, beyond my beliefs in social justice and anti-racism and my appreciation for Takei's work (I've donated to Takei's legacy project), I was just so glad to see a musical about, created by, and performed by a mostly Asian team.  No other show has that.  And with my two half-Asian children, it's very important to me that they see beyond stereotypes (of Asian doctors, science geeks, straight A+ students, prodigy violinists, and wimpy conformists who always follow the rules) and also that they see strong role models standing up for what's right in the world.  

And so, while I can't hum any of the songs this morning, the story and images will stick with me for a long time.


I'm going to try, later, to fold the origami flower that played such a role in the show.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Little Kitty Mystery

I'll start by saying that Mr. P is doing very well, considering his terminal diagnosis of congestive heart failure.  He's having good days and nights and we're enjoying them together.

But yesterday, there was a moment . . . .

I had gone upstairs to feed him because he still needs to be encouraged to eat.  I opened the door--and no cat.  Not on the bed, in the litter box, or at the food.  I even checked the closet.  Then my foot brushed a warm, soft mass under the bed, the same place our dear Morgan would hide when he was dying.  Oh, no, I thought.  What happened?

But as I knelt to check Mr. P, I noticed he was very alert, not lethargic and indifferent . . . .and then something out the window caught my eye.

A gray and white cat.

At the second floor window.

The gray and white cat, standing on the little roof of our porch to get to the window must have scared Mr. P.  And now he was "waving" and "knocking" to get my attention.  I closed the curtains.

See, the same cat had been at Bud's window, also above the porch, the evening before.  We had called his owner, as we pulled him off the roof, to make sure he wasn't lost, but apparently he's a regular outsider and even more regularly gets into other people's houses!  So, we put him back outside.

I guess he was coming back for a second visit.  Well, Mr. P won't be inviting him in.  Mr. P was so scared, he curled up in my arms for a few hours, head tucked.  Poor thing.

I still don't get how the visitor got to the second floor.  The little tree in front doesn't overhang the porch roof and is too slight to hold a cat's weight anyway.   I guess he could have gone from my minivan to the garage, across to the small roof at the back of the house, under Sis's window, and then up and over the rabbit run to the front of the house and the porch roof.

But the foot prints in the snow seem to suggest he shimmied up the gutter . . . .

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the visiting kitty.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Life Everlasting

“Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” 

The mother-daughter book club met last night to discuss Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  I won't give away the big spoilers but will say that the book explores questions of the meaning of life and death and the meaning that death gives to life.

But the meeting wasn't all serious discussions--though, the majority of girls opted for the choice the protagonist Winnie Foster didn't make (except my Sis, and a couple, who agreed with Winnie)--we were treated to flapjacks, just like the ones Winnie enjoyed with the Tucks.

Even better, the hosts served them with buttermilk syrup!!  I had never heard of such a thing, but it is amazing, sweet deliciousness--all sweet creamy buttery-ness.  I bought buttermilk today to make some with pancakes later in the week.

Sis, during the discussion of life and death, said that if she could, she would grant Mr. P immortal life.  So sweet.  He is doing remarkably well, all things considered.  We put him on an appetite stimulant and he ate almost two small cans (which is what he needs to eat to avert liver failure.)  He is also moving more--he's been downstairs twice (he's here right now!)--and being more like himself. He has even made his usual "mac" sound that we haven't heard since before last Wednesday.  And he's been sitting on me and leaning up against me, even curling up in my arms.  It's good to see our Mr. P's little light shine brighter.

Of course, we recognize that he is at the end of his life.  Stats seem to say that cats with congestive heart failure--and 40% don't make it through their first episode--usually live just months (which makes sense--I think humans only live about 5 years?), so we know our time together is short.  But knowing this reminds us to appreciate every day.

Which, in many ways, was the lesson of Tuck Everlasting.

Buttermilk Syrup
via Six Sisters Stuff

¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup of sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, and buttermilk and bring to a boil. Once it's at a complete boil, let it boil for 1 minute. Take off heat and whisk in baking soda and vanilla. It will foam up during the boiling, and especially when other ingredients are added. Serve with your favorite pancakes or waffles. Best served warm.  Good on pancakes, fruit, with a spoon!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter Fun: We're Having a Blizzard

Yep, it's been snowing and blowing since 7 a.m., dropping upwards of 12" on us, though it's hard to tell with all of the drifting.

We skipped ice skating, kung fu, and haircuts (cancelled yesterday.)

Instead, Sis and Bud went sledding with the neighbor girl and then made a snowfort, which they stocked with snowballs for later.  Then, all cold and damp, they all came inside to share snow ice cream and hot chocolate.  Later, Bud built Legos.  Sis read a book and then read another book.  Mama played "Spit" with Sis and "Blink" with Bud.  I doodled and crocheted a new hat (with yarn that I ordered just yesterday and was amazingly delivered during the blizzard!  I would have specified, "No need to deliver during natural disasters.")  The kids played Minecraft.  Mama napped.  We all petted the various cats (Mr. P continues to recover.)  We had eggs and Irish bacon with toast and marmalade, then tortilla soup and quesadillas and finally mini Victoria spongecakes while we watched "The Great British Bake Off." We called Gommie, Ma and Gong, and wished Lambeth a happy birthday.  I took some pictures and looked at everybody else's on FB.

Tomorrow, it should be sunny and we'll get some great snow photos.  But, for now, here are some taken, mostly, from the safety and warmth of inside.  The last two, contrasting night and day, are my favorites.

Happy Birthday, Lambeth!!

Wishing you many happy returns from across the pond!  I hope you have a good day and a great year.  We love you.

Friday, January 22, 2016

First 24 Hours

Mr. P had a big day, his first full 24 hours home after his medical emergency.

We made an appointment with a cardiologist, talked to the vets at the ER place, consulted our regular vet.

We medicated him, supervised his visits with kids and other cats, and kept him comfortable, safe, fed and watered him.

The biggest responsibility was making sure he moved around safely, i.e. that he didn't face plant off the bed, with one gimp from leg.  Unfortunately, he was very anxious and easily startled today.  I moved the computer on the covers and he jumped out of his skin; Mama brushed a tray with her foot and he threw himself off the bed.  I caught him twice, but once he got right past us both.  He then bolted down the stairs and then down the basement stairs; I was practically frozen in place with worry that he'd break a leg or his neck in a fall, but he made it all the way down.  And then used the litter box and lay down exhausted on the treadmill.  Even though there is a litterbox not five feet from his spot on our bed.

But the part I thought might be the hardest was pretty easy:  the NYCats' first owner came for a visit today, the first time he's visited since depositing them in our care 13 months ago.  We had always agreed that we would tell him of health emergencies; Mama called him early yesterday when it looked so dire, but when things settled down, he decided to visit today instead.  Mr. P was pretty sedate but let Mr C pet him; I couldn't say if Mr P recognized him, but Mr C thought he did.  Same with Mojo, who was ensconced on his warm dryer and welcomed the attention.  Hermione even got some pets.

It was nice talking to Mr C, who calls Patron his "lion," albeit a kinda failed Alpha one.  He recognized P's casual indifference to some of the pets by the turn of an ear and he said he was always a big purr-er.  He also characterizes Mojo as a sneaky little cuddler.  He thought it was funny that Mo burrows in blankets, something new.  He still loves his cats, of course.  But he also has been keeping his distance to respect our relationship with them.  And he is so grateful and happy for our care.

And so the day has come to a close with Mr. P sound asleep in Mama's spot on the bed, breathing comfortably.  It was a long day for all of us, but better than the alternative we thought was in store.  And that's great.

First Snow 2016

Storm Jonas, or Snowmageddon 2016, or whatever you want to call it, is bearing down on the Eastern  Seaboard and Mid-Atlantic states as I type.  It's been snowing in DC for hours now and apparently it has started in NYC.  I don't think it'll get here til after midnight--I won't really be watching for it.

There have been some fun memes floating around--the maps with forecasts of how many wine bottles/books/skeins of yarn you'll need to get through the storm, the "Be Like Bob" bits ("Bob won't post about the snow.  He knows people have windows.  Bob is smart.  Be Like Bob."), the open letter from the Bangor, ME police department, and various funny articles like cliches weather forecasters swear never to use again.  Plus tons of serious articles about forecasts and preparedness and such.

I've written my own posts in years past about snow--things to do with the kids (and here) and how to prep if you're unfamiliar with snow.  The kids are older now so we're not exactly making obstacle courses with painters tape; they have puzzles (a 1000-piece Pixar ones), games (the dominoes and checkers Gommie and Pop played), books, movies, Lego kits (two Star Wars), and of course videogames (always Minecraft, sometimes Dimensions)--longer more sophisticated ones than they did when they were 3-years old.  I have yarn and Zentangle supplies; Mama is finishing a puzzle.  And of course, there is the snow.  The kids will have snowball fights and build snowpeople; they've already put out the bowls for snow ice cream.   Maybe they can go sledding on Sunday (because we've cleared the whole weekend, due to snow and cat.)  I have makings for hot chocolate and popcorn, as tradition requires.  I imagine we'll have some soup, maybe some biscuits.  There will be a lot of cat petting.

All of which is to say, we're looking forward to this storm, our first for the year.  We don't need 2' for it to be special; 6" is just enough.  In fact, recent reports of 12-15" aren't ideal, but our snow blower is working and we have all the necessary supplies should we lose power or the ability to leave the house.

Stay tuned for snow photos!

A Good Night

It was a good night.

Though, it reminded us a lot of having newborns in the house, when we were anxious first-time parents:  very little sleep, fitful sleep, tracking input and output, no verbal communication, difficulties and worries about feeding (and meds!), fear of falling/rolling off the bed, just general anxiety . . . . and so much love!

He slept on our bed all night and purred and purred.  Purr on, Mr. P!  It's one of our favorite sounds.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Purr On

No news is good news....

Up from Down

A little bit of good news:  Mr P is breathing a little better.  Still not out of the woods by a long shot--more clots, the underlying heart disease, breathing on his own, more fluid, a quick downturn after this upturn--but we're glad for a little hope.  As long as he's comfortable....

In the Fading Light

The light of hope grew dimmer overnight, our beloved cat Mr. P not improving and in fact worsening despite treatment.

We will get an update around 10:30, after rounds.  Barring any change, we expect to make that last decision then.  In truth, it is already made, but we hold out a shred of hope that we won't have to implement it today.  Still, we will not subject him to treatment indefinitely and do not want him to suffer.

We have called his first owner so he can come say goodbye.

The kids are home today so we can all go say goodbye together.

We are all so sad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thoughts and Prayers

Our dear sweet cat Mr. P has congestive heart failure and a blood clot.  It is touch and go now, with some hopes that the emergency vet can relieve the symptoms and stabilize him enough to come home and be with us awhile longer.  We've consented to palliative care and signed a DNR in the event that he deteriorates.  We don't want him to suffer and won't go to extreme measures to keep him with us.

Today was just normal.  He slept on our bed, between our pillows, all night, then was his normal self today, until Sis noticed him limping around 7 p.m.  I picked him up (which he didn't fight) and his whole right paw was cold and limp.  I knew it wasn't a sprain or break when he didn't object to my touching it.  I thought stroke so we went straight to the ER vet; Mama and Bud were at kung fu and joined us later.   We learned pretty quickly that it was congestive heart failure and a blood clot in his foot.

They have him on diuretics, in an oxygen tent for comfort.  Later, if possible, they'll tap his abdomen in a fairly non-invasive procedure to release the fluid.  If all goes well--and he doesn't develop another clot--we'll bring him home in 24-48 hours (probably the latter) and keep him comfy on meds; he might even stabilize for who knows how long.  Apparently, cats can live like this, happily but on meds, for awhile and through several episodes (though, apparently, they get harder to detect.)

But let's get through the night first.

Understandably, the kids are extremely upset.  So are Mama and I.  We love our boy.  We've given him a good home for the last 13 months.  We'd just like to have him as long as possible.

Purr on, Mr. P!


Whether it's a blizzard or just a coating, we're ready for the weekend.  I have enough groceries for several meals--more chicken tortellini soup, ham and cheese quiche, sausage and pepper pasta, chicken stir fry, Welsh rarebit. Dutch baby pancakes, even sweet crepes.  Of course, if we don't have power (which I doubt will happen), we can have sandwiches and cook on the fire pit or propane stove (on the porch, with good ventilation.)  Really, though, I don't think it will come to that.

And I have makings for snow ice cream, of course.

If it does snow and blow as much as they're saying, we'll probably skip ice skating, kung fu, and church, as well as their haircut appointments.  But we have books, movies, Legos, arts and crafts supplies . . . and sleds and snow pants and boots, for sure.

I've been to hospice, the shipping store, Goodwill, and other errands.  I went to the beach yesterday looking for the owl and I hope to go again tomorrow.

Otherwise, there isn't much left to do but wait and watch the forecast change several times . . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Areas of Gray

People rarely believe the comments we get out in public sometimes, specifically when people don't recognize Mama for who she is, namely, my wife.  But here are three, from the last month:

1.  Mama went shopping on her lunch hour with a co-worker who is not much older than she is.  The clerk intimated that Mama was her son. (Okay, this was a co-worker and not me, but it's the same principle.)

2.  We were being seated at a restaurant and were asked if we wanted THREE kids' menus, including one for my son.

3.  We met the family of our GP at the movie theater and apparently later that night the teenagers in the group asked about my teenage son!

 . . . so not only does Mama look like a boy (which, admittedly, I can see) and my child (harder to see, since I'm only 4 years older), but she must be cute enough to be cruised by some teenage girls.

As I told the restaurant server, I can only hope she goes gray before me so that people realize I'm not her mom.

Monday, January 18, 2016


It was a nice, quiet weekend.  Just what we needed as Mama and I get over our secondary infections.

That's not to say we did nothing, only that we did very little.

There was kung fu and ice skating as our major outings.

And we went car shopping.  We're in the market for a replacement for my 10-year-old minivan, probably getting a Subaru Forrester--it's good for tall people, will be great in the snow with four-wheel drive, and even has heated seats!!  Plus it's got partial emissions.  I drove it a bit and it's a lot like my minivan, only a bit smaller.  We're considering our options but hope to decide this month.  Of course, I'll have all the memories of our van--bringing the babies home. long drives after church with the kids asleep (or not) in their seats, and all the rest--but I'll mostly miss my bumper stickers, especially my rainbow "MOM" which it seems I can't replace.

We spent a lot of time relaxing downstairs--crocheting, Zentangling, reading, doing SW Legos, doing a Pixar movie puzzle, napping, petting the cats.  And we watched Mockingjay, Part 1, which continues our journey through the dystopic trilogy.   We love following Katniss and her struggles, rooting for her and the rebels.  We have awhile to wait to see Part 2, since it was just in theaters--I'm in no rush because many of our favorite characters will die.   Then today we did some chores, namely laundry and putting away the last of Christmas, to get ready for the coming week.   At least it's a light week--no night meetings for me and no other real appointments.

We did manage some great meals, though.  We went for Chinese on Saturday at Bud's favorite place--we had fried rice, chicken pan fried noodles, spicy chile chicken, stir-fried bean leaves in garlic, and a ton of steamed buns.  Plus tea.   Last night, I made our favorite orange poundcake, adding cranberries.  Yum!  (Though, it would've been better as two smaller cakes--the cranberries made it so big that it didn't quite cook through.)  And then today we had a delicious breakfast out at one of our favorite places.  Gingerbread latte (with a cookie), mint hot chocolate with candy and marshmallows, crabmeat quesadillas, African spiced lentil hash, sweet potato corned beef hash, peach-stuffed French toast, and a very delicious chocolate babka French toast with toasted almonds.  So good.  And tonight, we had a great homemade chicken tortellini soup.

The best part, perhaps, was the snow.  Just enough, falling gently last night, to cover the grass, road, and cars.  Pretty.  Our first significant dusting this year, still no accumulation though.  But reports say this weekend.   Maybe.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Some sadness this week, but things keep going.

I'm working on a lovely, bright afghan, with tiny (for me) DK yarn, so it takes a long time.  But the colors make me smile.

I'm playing withe my WT starter kit and the samples, also looking up recipes.  I love to cook and even more, I love to read recipes.  Sure, I like cookbooks with stories better, but these are fun, too.  The kids have even liked two of them this week--a Honey Balsamic Chicken and an Apple Balsamic Pork (each one is vinegar + sweetness + flavorings + protein in slow cooker for 6-8 hours on LOW.)

I'm also bingeing on "X-Files" episodes, getting ready for the new show in a few weeks.  I forget how much I like it--and it's aged pretty well.  Love Scully.

All of which is to say, I'm taking it easy, just like the doctor said.  And with an early dismissal today and a holiday Monday, it's a nice, slow weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


First, David Bowie.  No, I wasn't particularly a fan but knew that he was important to and influential for so many of my friends.

Then, today, Alan Rickman.

Snape, oh Snape.

But also Colonel Brandon and Truly, Madly, Deeply and the Sheriff of Nottingham and, of course, Harry in Love Actually.

What a voice, what a face, what a talent.

I am sad that we won't get to see what he could have done in the next decade or two, like Maggie Smith or Derek Jacobi or Ian McKlellen or Patrick Stewart or Judi Dench or Helen Mirren.

I am sad for his family and friends.

We will remember him, we will love him.


And then, on a personal level, the husband of my friend and hospice chaplaincy mentor died suddenly this week.  Completely out of the blue.  And I am so sorry for her.  Tonight, I went to sit shiva with the family and to participate in the saying of prayers, particularly the mourner's kaddish.  I hadn't been to shiva before (and was sorry to miss the actual funeral--we had the kids' winter concert yesterday) and read about it on, which was probably more observant than I needed for this Reform family.  It was a lovely gathering of family, friends, and co-workers in a house that so reminded me of my Aunt Sis's.  The widow was still very much in shock, running the vicissitudes of telling stories and sobbing and being unable to speak; even though she is a hospice chaplain, she noted that it still took her unprepared.  I'm not sure you can ever be totally prepared, even if it is your job and calling.

What can you do in the face of grief?   I'm so sorry.  I don't know what to say.  I'm sorry I never met him.  I'm thinking of you.  Or, as one mourner said, "This sucks."   I held her.  I stood by.  I listened.  I shared my tissues.  What else can you do in the face of such grief?  And I cried all the way home, listening to my Les Miz soundtrack.

"And remember the truth that once was spoken:  to love another person is to see the face of God."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Questions, for Fun

I LOVE questions.  This has been making the FB rounds recently.

Twenty-six things about me...

A- Age: Not as old as I sometimes feel.
B- Biggest fear: Losing a child. 
C- Current time: 9:06 pm
D- Drink you last had: Orange Julius, in celebration of CPR recertification
E- Every day starts: feeling the cats moving around before the alarm
F- Favorite song: right now, "Keys" from Fun Home
G- Ghosts, are they real?: I tend to think not.
H- Hometown: Houston
I- In love with: Mama
J- Jealous of:  skinny people
K- Killed someone?: No
L- Last time you cried?: two days ago?
M- Most recent movie:  watching Jurassic World right now
N- Number of pets:  4 cats
O- One wish:  health and safety for all (and to see a Snowy Owl!)
P- Person you last spoke with on the phone:  Mama Teacher
Q- Question you're always asked: How's your back?
R- Reason to smile:  my family and my cats
S- Song you last listened to: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
T- Time you woke up: alarm at 6:45 a.m. but awake before then
U- Umbrella or raincoat?  raincoat
V- Vacation destination: upcoming--DC and Colonial Williamsburg; Providence; probably Philly; Kripalu retreat (and wouldn't NOLA be fun in April??)
W- Worst habit:  yelling before I think
Y- Your favorite food:  honestly, chicken fingers, pizza, and chocolate cake
X- X-Rays you've had: hand, back, arm,
Z- Zodiac sign:  Sagitaurus

Feeling Better

Ah, finally, 10 days on, I am feeling more like myself.  Still a bit drippy, but nothing like last week.

And Mama has gone back to work!   The kids are both in school . . . .

Which means this is the first "normal" day since before Dec. 23 or so.

I have lots of laundry, a swirling mental list of things to do/check in on.  In fact, I've made my daily list to remind me:

·      Stretches
·      Exercise
·      Household chores (litterboxes, laundry, shopping, straightening)
·      Piano

·      Meal planning
·      Hospice
·      Girl Scouts
·      Perry House
·      RE
·      Lay Ministry
·      Wildtree
·      Budget and Bills

As often as possible
·      Crochet
·      Doodle/Zentangle
·      Read
·      Blog
·      Cookbook
·      Photobooks

·      Birdwatching (mainly Snowy Owls)

Did you catch the new one?  See, I've taken on a new venture--I'm going to be a Wildtree rep.  Truth be told, I mainly want the recipes and product discount but think it will continue to spur me to more and better homecooking.  We've liked several of the meals and it does make cooking easier; the parties are fun.  At least it's also mostly organic, GMO-free, preservative free, frequently gluten-free, etc etc etc.  But don't worry, this won't become a WT blog. Well, except for some recipes.  I also doubt I'll be much of a salesperson, not liking to pressure people; in fact, I'm a bit nervous even to announce it.  I have some mild concerns about direct marketing like Mary Kay, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Thirty-One Gifts, etc, but, barring the first and other cosmetics (like Avon, Arbonne, etc), have supported my friends when they've started home businesses (all but two--out of a dozen or more--that I know of having folded in the first year or so.)  Many of the schemes require monthly minimums or yearly fees so that women--and it is almost always women (SAHMs, at that, of course)--spend more of their own money than they ever make; I'm not, however, doing it to supplement our income, my goal being breaking even (there is no minimum fee.)  We'll see how it goes.

Which isn't much of a sales pitch, is it?

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Mercy, it's raining a lot today, for Connecticut.

Heading to church this morning, there were white caps on the river, which was 2 feet above normal, if not more.  It was obviously quite high, especially considering the rain only came in overnight.

And the wind!  We didn't see any trees down, though we heard some did go down, but we saw lots of little branches and leaves strewn about.  And one branch actually blew horizontally across the highway in front of us!

There wasn't too much puddling on the roads, though, and we never hydroplaned.  But it was threatening nonetheless.

So, after church, we went for a pancake breakfast!  It's a new-to-us place not far from church, quite crowded today--I guess everyone else had the same lazy-morning feeling.  We enjoyed delicious lemon ricotta pancakes, a kielbasa burrito, a "cowboy" omelet, corned beef hash, smoked bacon.  Yum, yum, yum.  And while we ate, the rain slowed.

It continued off and on, and is raining again now.

If it had been snow, it would have been a blizzard, with considerable accumulation, I'm sure.

Not yet.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Well, we're doing mostly better over here.  Resting, hydrating, watching Jurassic World.  All six or so of Mama's meds are kicking in (yep, she was sicker than she thought.)  And all the Neti pot-ing, saline, liquids, gargling with salt water, and such are improving my symptoms.  But we're still taking it easy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Still Sick and Tired

Bud was home Tuesday; Sis is home today.  Mama has been home all week and has seen two doctors.  Nasty cold and now vertigo.

I'm starting to get over my cold, after catching it last Saturday, but I'm tired and cranky (wanna add to it?  TMI--I was 11 days late and just started, which makes me extra fun.  Just loving the reappearance of perimenopause.)  And this was my recharge week before the craziness of next week, when I'm out every night and have several things during the day.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My SW7 Review--With SPOILERS


That's right.  Quit reading now if you don't want to know a lot about the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Seriously, spoilers.

I've now seen SW7 three times, each time quite different from the others.  We saw it the first time the night before it opened, during previews, on Thursday, December 17.  We didn't take the kids out of school--in honor of when my mom took me out of school to see Return of the Jedi on its first day--as I always said I would do, because the first previews were at 7:45 p.m.  But they decided seeing it the night before was better than being taken out of school.  They promised no spoilers, just mild gloating, the next day.

The best part of waiting for the movie to start was that the theater was empty three hours beforehand and we didn't have to wait in line!  We arrived around 4:30, tickets in hand, and only stood in line a little bit before being ushered into our theater.  We waited for almost 3 hours, with the kids doing homework and reading books, eating popcorn and running down to the food court, in turns, to eat dinner.

And then the previews started.  I ignored The 5th Wave and Allegiant.  The new Rowling-penned movie, Fantastic Beasts, didn't look great; they need a stronger trailer.  The Star Trek trailer didn't attract any attention, these being SW fans after all.  But we all laughed heartily at Zootopia, with its slow-pokey sloth.  In fact, waiting for the sloth to talk was a lot like waiting for the previews to end so the movie would start.

Then it did.  More quickly than I thought, too, because there was not 20th-Century Fox prelude since SW is now owned by Disney.  Just "Lucasfilm" and then the iconic scrolling text and THAT SCORE.

Yep, I teared up.  Then, and many times more.

Where do I start?  I won't summarize the plot, mainly because I'm trusting you've seen it (and if you haven't, you probably don't care much.)  So, just some bullet points:

Remember, SPOILERS.
  • I loved the use of desert/forest/snow--three iconic SW settings--which immediately took us back to the original films, not those awful prequels (as Mama said, "Those are dead to us.")
  • Rey.  How can I say enough about Rey?  (Do you hear that, Hasbro?  #WheresRey?)  As Leia was the perfect female hero for my generation in the newly-feminist 70s, Rey is perfect female hero for today--for boys and girls, because I agree with whatever writer (ah, here it is.) noted that Rey is as important, if not more, for boys who aren't used to seeing girl heroes, than for girls who have always inserted themselves where girls don't exist (Yep.)  The best scene?  The marketplace, with Rey insisting that she didn't need Finn to hold her hand (I laughed when he was knocked out but kept asking if she were ok.)  Who is she?  Well, everyone's talking about that (I even have my own secret FB spoiler discussion group.)  Kenobi's daughter, with that British accent? Luke's daughter, with his theme song, his flying skills, lightsaber, clothing style (even desert-planet origins), mental connection to him (the ocean with the island where she finds him which Ren sees in her mind), her memories of the destruction of his Jedi school?  Han and Leia's daughter and Kylo's sister, maybe even twin?  A vergence of the Force with no family connection to any of the above?  With Abrams at the helm, I can't imagine we'll so easily guess who she is.   But I'm glad we'll be seeing her again.  
  • Diversity.  Yay for diversity in casting!  A black Stormtrooper.  A Latino pilot.  Women Stormtroopers and rebel pilots and generals.  This is fantastic.  Fan-tastic.  Fantasy worlds don't need to be all white males, folks.  The first one broke boundaries with Leia and Lando; this one went even further.
  • BTW, these stormtroopers are much better shots than their forebears.
  • Who is that character Max von Sydow was playing?  I love that we can't even guess at all the answers.
  • BB8.  Is it a boy or a girl?  Can droids even have gender?  I liked the little roly thing with its beeps, but no more so than when it gave Finn the thumbs up.  Mama and Sis liked how it went down the stairs at Maz's, too.
  • Real sets, human scale.  Just like the trailer shown at Comic Con intuited, I was thrilled to see that this was a human-scale real world, not some giant CGI fantasy (Coruscant, anyone?  Naboo?)  The original films were all about people and their own struggles with good and evil.  We're back to that.  Perhaps that makes me un-original, in the sense that this movie was very much a continuation, if not a re-hashing of the first film, um, Episode IV.  But I'm the kind of fan this was made for--the one who loves the original three films, who saw the original films dozens of time, who bought the toys, who wore the Halloween costumes, who traded the cards, who dislikes Lucas's edits of those same (Han.  Shot.  First.)  and really detested the prequels, someone who is older now and not the demographic for most movies anymore, someone who has nostalgia for childhood and children of his or her own to initiate into the fandom.  
  • Oh, I got teary seeing Han and Chewie, and then Leia and C-3PO and R2-D2 and finally Luke. Yes, they've aged.  None of us are the same age we were in 1977.  Duh.  Perhaps because we've seen Harrison Ford often on film since the last film in 1983 that we weren't surprised by his age; more likely, we're more accustomed to men aging somewhat more naturally in Hollywood (like Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, etc.)  I'm disgusted by the trolls going after Carrie Fisher and so inspired by the way she's handled them (hence, my meme.)
  • Leia.  I LOVE Leia.  In charge.  Making the quick, tough, smart decisions. Witty.  Sensitive.  Hopeful.  Fearless.   Always my favorite.  I've missed her.   I'm so glad she's back.  I hope her part is even bigger next time.  And even though it shouldn't matter, I thought she looked majestic.

  • Loved all the insider references.  The lightsaber practice ball that Finn tosses aside.  The space chess game.  The smuggler compartments.  Trash compacters.  "I have a bad feeling about this." The woman with the little Leia-like buns (who was played by Fisher's real daughter, Billie Lourd.) I can't think of them all right now.
  • I liked Maz, even if her hangout wasn't as cool as the original SW Cantina.  Though, I swear three times on that I can see an E.T.-like creature being roasted on the spit.  Seriously.  Looks like E.T. to me.  But Maz was a wonderful Yoda stand-in, kinda reminded me of Guinan in "Star Trek: The Next Generation."   I hope we see more of her.
  • Oh, Han.  What can I say?  I saw it coming as soon as he was reviewing his relationship with and then hugging Leia.  I knew that Harrison Ford had asked for the character to be killed off all the way back in Empire Strikes Back.  And here it was.  I got teary as soon as he started down that catwalk. And the whole theater was still and silent the whole time, each time we saw it. Why are all the fights and deaths in such huge, cavernous spaces?  (Kenobi in the hangar bay; Luke's hand in that Cloud City vacuum; Darth Vader on that catwalk and then in the hangar bay.)  But it was beautifully done, with his touching his son's face.  I'm not sure I can buy the theory that Han had agreed to be killed to help get Ren in with the Sith and that it was all planned.  Who knows.  But I was so sad.  In fact, watching the movie the second time was even harder because it all seemed like a long goodbye to Solo, with his being featured so heavily and getting so many quips; it was almost too much (good thing I could hide behind those 3D glasses.)  The third time was easier.  Though, my dad got teary that time and that made me teary, too.  Mama didn't understand why Chewie didn't give Leia a hug as soon as he got back to the Resistance base; I know it was a moment with Rey, but still, that rang false.
  • I was not one of those fans obsessed with Luke's role in the film when he was absent from the trailers.  I did like seeing him at the end, but it wasn't the most important part for me.  I loved that setting, though, even if it almost gave me vertigo to watch Rey climb those stairs.  It's an ancient site in Ireland, Skellig Michael.
I loved how engaged the first audience was.  We clapped at the beginning.  And when the "garbage" Millennium Falcon appeared.  And for each "legacy" character.  And when the lightsaber went to Rey  instead of Ren.  And when she beat him.  And when the StarKiller Base blew up.  And when Luke appeared.  And of course as the end credits rolled.  The second audience, when we saw it two days later with Goo, who finally got a day off from the hospital, in IMAX 3D, wasn't quite as jazzed.  But the third audience, with my folks about ten days later, was also clap-happy.

Of course, we all loved it.  We've talked about it non-stop--and practically all of our Christmas presents were SW.  Mama, who wasn't really a fan the first time, being only three years old, loved it more than I could ever have expected.  It makes it all so much more wonderful to have this experience altogether.  And we have photos of ourselves in front of the big SW sign each time!

And then, there is my funny SW story.  As we were leaving the theater the first night, ripe with the need to discuss it, Bud loudly said, as we passed the long line of people waiting for the first midnight showing, "I can't believe that--"  and I quickly clamped my hand over his mouth.  I could just hear him say, "they killed off Han Solo."  Can you imagine the upset and disappointment of those people? "Ten-year-old thrashed by SW mob at premier."  I've laughed about it (and retold it) ever since, because of course it's the first thing we all want to say.  Han.  That's why I started my spoiler discussion group, so we could talk about it.  It's been so odd not to see it written about.  We need the official RIP Han Solo obit!  I had actually considered warning my friends who have had recent losses about it, as a trigger event, but of course I didn't.  We haven't lost many icons from my childhood, at least none of this fictional character's stature, and it was tough.  

But I think the series is in good hands.  Really good hands.  And I love that they are black, white, brown, male, AND female, along with droid and Wookie!

Bud said, "How can I wait two more years to find out what happens next??"  I said, "Try waiting 33."

The Force is with us.  Again.

A Chilly Walk

Snowy owls have been seen on our coastline. And so today, despite head colds (we figured it would either not affect our colds or make it worse--we're the same as we were, but we did dress for the 20F weather), Mama and I made our way down to the beach where a photographer snapped some great photos on Monday (the first publicly-documented sighting this year.)  We walked the rocky shoreline but didn't see any owls.  We spoke to a local photographer who hadn't seen any today either.  He said it's more about luck than anything else, especially with all the various spots the owls could go in our town and others nearby.  But we enjoyed the walk, having never been on this stretch of shore before, and even got a nice view of the lighthouse.   I made a donation, at the office, because no doubt I'll be back looking for those lovely owls.  Not for a photo--I just have my phone--but just to see a live one in the wild.

By the way, Pop, it is the place you and Gommie walked, just as you said it was.  It's open on weekdays during office hours but is otherwise off-limits.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Settling Back In

School has started; winter has come, too.  And we're slowly adjusting to the non-vacation schedule . . . except we have nasty colds.  I think it's a gift from Aunt Banana, who has been sick along with her kiddos--though I heard they have fevers, which stinks.  I hope y'all are feeling better!  Gommie and Pop sorta had it--or was it allergies to New England?--so much so that Gommie went to the doctor her last day here.  I hear lots of different things are going around, so ours might not be the Texas strain.  Maybe it's just a new year's reminder to take it easy and not rush headlong into 2016.  Because we're definitely not doing anything right now . . . .

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Weekend

Happy 2016!

We celebrated New Year's quietly.  Mama worked a half day and we did the grocery shopping after I went to PT.  Our menu was pretty simple:  cheesy bacon bites, chips and cheesy beef dip, ham, black-eyed peas, cornbread, Red Zinger punch, and Mama's special mozzarella and prosciutto with basil and balsamic on bread or breadsticks.  Gommie and Pop left early, but the kids were intent on staying up til midnight.  They played various videogames, but we turned on the tv to watch the ball drop and hear "Shut Up and Dance" and some other songs.  It was actually pretty fun, if quiet.

And then we all slept in.

New Year's Day was similarly quiet--all that food, some football, the Rose Bowl Parade, more dominoes and checkers, and crochet.  We also introduced Gommie and Pop to "The Great British Bake Off," which they enjoyed enough to watch several episodes over the weekend.  We also watched the first "How We Got to Now."

Saturday was a tiny bit more lively.  Bud had kung fu, which Gommie and Pop enjoyed watching.  Afterwards, we all went for a seafood lunch.  Then it was more games, tv, videogames, and crochet.

And today, we hung out for a bit before heading to the new outdoor store in the area.  It's huge!  And seemingly so out of place here in our part of Connecticut, which isn't exactly outdoorsy.  I mean, sure, Texas or rural Pennsylvania; I guess there are more hunters, fishers, campers--and what did the sign say? Liars?--who go through I-95 than I thought.  It was very decorated--dozens of taxidermied animals from marlins to beaver to bobcat to deer to mooses--and all manner of gear and gifts.  And lovely murals of the shore and woods.  We actually bought some freeze dried meals to try for fun--lasagna and teriyaki chicken--and the kids had them for dinner; not much better than a frozen dinner but probably pretty good if you're backpacking on the trail.   There were tents, boats, and even quads to crawl on. Eventually, they might open up the single-lane archery range for practice.  There's bowling and a restaurant, too, but we didn't stay.  We had hamburgers elsewhere.  And then, you guessed it--"The Great British Bake Off," dominoes, and checkers.  (Mama and I cleaned out a closet to get out the winter things--it's going to be 15F tomorrow night and we needed the mittens and scarves.  Finally.)

Gommie and Pop said goodbye to the kids tonight and they leave tomorrow.  That was hard.  Though I think I was the only one teary.  It's hard to have such great grandparents whom we only see a few times a year.  These times are nice and long and intensive and special.  And I know there are a lot of special memories for all of us.  But it was just hard to watch them say goodbye tonight.

I'm consoling myself with the beginning of the end of "Downton Abbey."  It's extra-fun to watch because I just keep thinking, we were there!

It's back to our regularly-scheduled life tomorrow, after I take Gommie and Pop to the train station.  But more on all that later.

Time for Lady Mary et al.

New Year's Questions

Our sometimes bi-annual answers to questions, just to keep track as they grow and we all change . . . . (the last ones are here.)

Sis (she did most of the typing):
Book:  Warriors,Hunger Games,Wings of Fire series, 
TV show: The Great British Bake Off,("Switched at Birth," "Robin Hood"), Doctor Who (BBC),
Movie:  The Hunger Games trilogy
Musical:  Les Miz, Wicked
Song:  Riptide, Blank Space Taylor Swift
Number: 77
Food: popeyes fried chicken
Animals: bunny, horse
Dessert: chocolate
Restaurant: popeyes
Toy/Thing:  Amy, Shirt, Minecraft, splatoon ,Zoo Tycoon,Minion Rush
Things to Do:  ice skating, baking, draw and color, read
Place to go: my room
Saying/Words: n/a
Job When I Grow Up:  vet
·      Bud:
Books: Magnus Chase , RedwallMenagerie series, Hunger Games Trilogy, Scratch 2.0 (Percy Jackson series)
TV show:  "Doctor Who," "Clone Wars," "Phineas and Ferb" "British Bake Off" "Super Girl"
Movies:  , Star Wars  The Force Awakens, Battle of Five Armies (Lego Movie, The Hobbit trilogy)
Musical:  Phantom of the Opera, Les Miz, Wicked
Color: blue
Number: 46
Food:  sushi
Animals: penguin
Dessert:  homemade ice cream
Restaurant:  Sushi Momo
Toy/Thing:  Wii, Mr. Big, Scratch programming, magic card tricks, Smash brothers, Legend of Zelda games, (Legos, Minecraft)
Things to do:  kung fu, Scratch, read, video gaming
Place to go:  London
Saying/Words:  n/a
Job When I Grow Up:  actor, coder
Book:  Outlander, Maisie Dobbs series, historical mysteries, cookbooks
TV show:  "Great British Bake Off," "Doctor Who," "Sherlock," "Downton Abbey," "Outlander," "Super Girl," "Midsomer Mysteries," "Last Tango in Halifax," "iZombie," "Jessica Jones"
Movie:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Musical:  Fun Home, Spring Awakening, Matilda
Song: "Ring of Keys" from Fun Home, "Revolting Children" from Matilda, "Uptown Funk," "Heartbeat Song," listening to my old Indigo Girls albums
Color:  purple
Number:  12
Food:  pizza, raspberry shrub, homemade soda,
Animals:  cats, panda, otter, hedgehog, koalas
Dessert:  Spritz cookies, Victoria Sandwich
Restaurant:  SmashBurger
Toy/Thing:  yarn, micro pens, my smartphone
To Do:  crochet, Zentangle, read, bake
Place to go:  looking forward to Colonial Williamsburg
Saying/Words:  metta meditation
Job When I Grow Up:  hospice chaplain