Monday, March 31, 2008

This Year's Mobile

This year's mobile for the PICU.

Meanwhile, I have first day jitters.

Deep breaths.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sugar Overload

The mother of one of M's friends opened a bakery a few months ago. S and I went over there this morning to order cupcakes for her birthday party.

While making our decisions (which were decidedly indecisive - mini and regular cupcakes in red velvet, vanilla and chocolate cake and regular and cream cheese frosting dyed pink and purple), I spied some filled cupcakes.

One was a cannoli cupcake. It was yellow cake with the top scooped out , filled with marscapone cannoli filling, top put back on, frosted and mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top. Oh my.

Yes, one came home with me.

It was really, really tasty.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It Shouldn't Suprise Me At This Point

So, while I was out picking up my kids from their various things, the neighbor kids (including the one who peed on the other neighbor's house) decided to create a scene in the wooded area between their house and the fourth neighbor's house. The little scene was lined with rocks and moss and was really quite quaint.

The thing is, the rocks they used were from my rock walls that line the driveway and the steps to the front of the house. Yup, that's right. Took them right out of our rock walls.

When asked where the found the rocks, the girl (9) lied to my face about this (she pointed to the back of her house and said, "Woods!"), but the evidence was quite clear. Prior to my arrival home, the girl told the neighbor of the peed-upon house that they had taken the rocks from my yard. That neighbor called as soon as she saw me arrive home; she was rather stunned.

I went to the mother, explained the situation, and said that her kids could not take things from my yard without asking first. I really didn't know what else to say. She did not apologize in any way for her children's actions. Neither have the children apologized. In fact, when C went over to start retrieving rocks and try to return them to their right places in and on the walls, the girl came out, upset that C was taking apart her little scene. Then the mother came out and called the girl in to do homework.

What. The. Fuck.

Been Meaning to Say

The boys rock. So what if they split the Tokyo series. Just happy to have them back in action.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Adventures and Anniversaries

I start my new job on Monday. I am looking forward to it in so many ways.

I am looking forward to being back in our regular weekday routine, to an office, to using that part of my brain. I am looking forward to learning about a new technology, to creating something new. I'm looking forward to a paycheck and no more weekly calls to the department of unemployment assistance.

I am nervous, too. I am nervous about meeting the people with whom I will be working, making a good impression, making the right choices for tools and approaches, and so on.

I'm making a lot of lists!

I am also nervous about the timing of this new adventure. The anniversary of C's illness is upon us and although I thought I was doing mostly fine about it, I'm not 100% sure about that anymore.

The writing I did last year was incredibly helpful for processing some of the more difficult emotions around that time, but I'm by no means "over" that event. I don't think I ever will be. It shook me to the core, and I think there will always be little cracks and fissures deep inside. I'm trying to learn to live with them, to make peace.

C is doing great, for the most part. I suspect that some of his recent grumpiness is anniversary-related. And hormones, too.

I noticed recently that I have a hard time disciplining C in the springtime. I feel guilty when I do so, even if the discipline is appropriate and necessary. It's like there's a little voice saying, "Forget it! Just be thankful he's alive!" And yes, I am thankful he's alive, but if I give in to that voice, I'm afraid I will be giving over to the hardest, scariest of the emotions and just collapse into a blubbering, non-functional heap. Not parenting him would be the wrong thing to do, for both of us. I'm not going to "get over" what happened to C, but we both have to go on and continue living our lives.

Between the anniversary and the job stress of the last few months, part of me does feel a bit wobbly. Not dangerously so, but wobbly. No one at this new office knows a thing about that time in my life. It may or may not be appropriate to tell them about it in those first days and weeks, even if those first days and weeks are when it's most likely to manifest itself in some way.

As with everything, I'll have to take it step by step.

Announcing Visitors

On the local news Web site this morning is an article on workplace etiquette titled, "Announcing Visitors." When I read the title, I had an instant flashback to college and our quaint traditions in announcing visitors to dorm residents.

The dorms - single-sex, of course, as it was a single-sex institution - had a desk downstairs, called the "bell desk," at which visitors to the dorm would ask for a specific resident. The student sitting at the desk (on "bell duty") would look up the resident's room number and get a code from the list. She would turn to an antiquated intercom system, find the switch with the corresponding code and flip it. She would then press a "speak" button and announce the resident's name into the microphone in the switch panel.

Up in halls of the dorm, the speaker closest to the resident's room would transmit the call from the front desk. When you heard your name, you would open the door to your room and respond, "Yes, bells."

How the person at the desk spoke next would tell the resident the gender and relative quantity of persons downstairs waiting for the resident.

If the desk monitor said, ""You have a visitor," there was a single female downstairs. If the desk monitor said, "You have visitors," it was more than one female.

If the desk monitor said, "You have a caller," there was a single male downstairs. If the desk monitor said, "You have callers," it was more than one male.

If the desk monitor said, "You have guests," it was a mixed (or sometimes unidentifiable) gender group. "Guest" or "guests" was also sometimes used to identify parental units, though more often the desk monitor would say "parents." Neither was official lingo, however.

On Friday and Saturday nights, a "caller" announced for a resident often elicited whoops and commentary as the announcement was made. The caller at the bell desk could hear this response through the speaker. Persons on bell duty with swift reflexes to turn off the speaker as soon as the announcement was made were appreciated.

As far as I know, the bell desk system is still in place.

Things Can Be Too Digital

In 1982, my father bought a wonderful medium-format camera in Hong Kong. He had long been something of a photography buff and for many years enjoyed the challenge of using this rather advanced camera. As my father’s Parkinson’s disease made it more and more difficult for him to use the camera, I started borrowing it for extended periods. When I managed an image I particularly liked, I’d send Dad a print. It was an interest we shared. He gave me my first “real” camera in elementary school and encouraged me later when I learned to enlarge and develop prints myself.

On that unforgettable Thanksgiving in 1994 when my sister bit me, before all the action started, I took some photos of my nephews. I took them each in turn onto the porch of the cabin and set them up in the autumn sunlight. The plan was to get one pretty good black and white image of each of her boys, enlarge them and put them in a large frame with three mat openings. It was meant to be a Christmas gift. I was using my father’s camera

Even though my sister bit me and we were not on speaking terms after that day, I put together those photographs for her and her husband for Christmas and sent them. They were never acknowledged, although I did see the pictures on the wall at their house after we reconciled.

About a year and a half ago, my sister’s husband called me in the middle of the day. He never calls. He asked if I still had the negatives to those photographs. It seems something had happened to the prints and they were oxidizing. (Perhaps hanging them in a humid bathroom on a wall that received several hours of direct sunlight a day wasn’t the best choice, but I didn’t mention that.) He wanted reprints of the photos. Fine and dandy, but at the time, the box where I suspected they were was under numerous other boxes in the loft as the extended renovations of our study dragged on and on.

My brother-in-law was insistent and persistent – and somewhat arrogant about the relative importance of his request (actually, he was a complete asshole about it). He pretty much asked me to find that box that night, thought it should be a high priority for me. After about a twenty minute conversation, I finally managed to put him off and convinced him that I’d look for the photos when I could.

Since then, I’ve looked for those negatives several times. They weren’t where I thought they were, so I looked in other boxes when I could. Finally, finally, I found them.

Yesterday morning I took the negatives to the local “professional” photo center to have a new contact sheet made to remember which were the images I chose for the enlargements. I was shocked to learn that the photo center no longer handles negatives. They are totally and completely digital. Less than a year ago, they still handled film.

The shop said they could scan the negatives – for $3.00 per image, and there are 15 images per negative set for this medium-format camera – and that they don’t do contacts sheets at all anymore, so I’d just have to get a print of each negative image. So to go through that process – just to figure out which three images I’d need to enlarge – would cost almost $60.00. No, thank you.

I called a bigger lab in the city, and they are all digital, too. No wet lab. Their scan fees were lower, but still expensive and no traditional contact sheets. I don’t quite know what to do, but figure I’ll have to suck it up and have the negative set scanned. I don’t have any choice.

Digital photography has been available to the general population for, what, 10 years? In that relatively short time (compared to the history of film photography prior to its advent) it’s slammed the door on film. Film manufacturers have stopped making certain films (think Polaroid), it’s harder and harder to find film, and even harder to have it processed competently. I keep thinking of the saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

I lament decline, and possibly the loss of traditional film photography.

I love my digital camera, but it is a different experience from my old film cameras. With a film camera, I think you have a deeper connection to the images. You have to think more about the picture you are about to take because you don’t have that instant gratification that you get with digital. While it’s wonderful to be able to shoot 20 or 50 or 100 images with a digital camera and delete 99% of them, the potential unknown of the film experience is exciting and can help you learn more. It’s the thinking before shooting that often is lost in the digital world.

There’s a more tactile connection to film images, too. It’s not just taking pictures that one learned with film, but a whole photographic process. It was the physical connection of loading the film (not the same as inserting a memory card), learning to use the equipment, the enlarger, and watching the image appear in the tray of developer. The red photo safe light in the darkroom. It’s not a connection that can be replicated in pointing and clicking in Photoshop.

The quality of the images is different. I don’t know how to put it in words, but there is just a different feeling about them. Sometimes digital images seem too crisp, too precise.

I’m not saying we should give up digital cameras – not at all. There are things I can do with my digital camera that I can’t do with my film camera. I recognize and respect the differences. They each have their place. We shouldn’t obsolete film cameras so quickly.

I still have my dad’s camera. Most of my favorite photos that I have ever taken were taken with that camera – even though it’s bulky and hard to focus.. I try to bring it out a couple of times a year to shoot a roll. It’s time to do that again, though I have no idea where I will find film or have it developed. I imagine it’s going to be more and more expensive to continue with this “obsolete” technology, but I think it’s worth it.

(Even more than the medium format camera I talk about here, the different qualities evoked by older cameras just cannot be replicated digitally. If anyone has an old medium format twin lens reflex Yashicamat, you know what I mean. I wish we had my dad’s old TLR; we have no idea what happened to it. That was one cool camera...though I’d still have the same finding and processing film issue.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Today would have been my father's 83rd birthday.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Houston, We Have Employment

I just signed an offer letter and faxed it in.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Learning the Hard Way

C is kind of into peppers, the super hot kind of peppers. Recently, when we placed our spring seed order, he begged to order seed for a type of pepper called "de Padrone." Apparently of the pepper fruits produced on this plant, four out of five are low heat peppers. But one out of five are extremely high heat peppers. You never know which one you are going to pick.

A few weeks ago, C asked to come with me to the grocery store. In the produce section he selected one serrano pepper to purchase himself. He's been letting it ripen to fire engine red ever since.

Today was the day he decided to grind it into a powder.

While working with the powder - and in spite of all the admonishments of Alton Brown he did not wear gloves, though it wouldn't have mattered with what comes next - he touched his nose.

The kid is in agony. The heat of that pepper is radiating through his sinuses. He's trying for relief with Q-Tips dipped in milk, but nothing is working. It's just going to take time.

But I do think that this is going to make for a really funny family story in the future. Especially the Q-Tips in milk part.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Forgot to Mention Yesterday

Happy Evacuation Day!


When a little boy is 2 1/2 to 3 years old and starting down the road of potty training, the occasional dropping of the pants to pee outdoors is understandable, a little funny, and sometimes even cute.

When that same boy is 6 1/2 and drops his pants mid-afternoon in front of a group of kids (mostly girls) and pees on the neighbor's house, it's not funny at all.

When the boy is returned to his mother by the owner of the now christened house and the mother responds to the incident with a grin and, "Oh, that Neville!" it's annoying and somewhat aggravating.

When the boy then returns to the group of kids and proceeds to pull down his pants repeatedly and wave his little member around at everyone, clearly having received no correction or discipline at all, it's angering.

When you know that it is just another in a series of incidents with a similar parental response, it's sad. For those kids, for your kids, for everyone.

When the parents of that kid refuse to return phone calls as other residents of the neighborhood try to resolve issues - and not just this one - you realize the sense of entitlement exhibited by the children (not just this boy) clearly is learned at home.

You like to think that those kids are in for a rude awakening some day. But then again, the parents have gotten this far without having to adjust their views, so all you can hope for is that they move away. Meanwhile, you smile falsely and steer clear.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Buzzword Bingo

I've had a jargon and catch-phrase filled day. Some highlights:


"How do we evidence that?"

"Healthy conflict"

And between multiple instances of each of those terms, "fantastic!" I stopped counting the number of instances of "fantasic!" at 14.

Then there were the comments about work/life balance, followed immediately by discussion about how "the VPs work just as many 10 hour days and call into just as many Sunday night conference calls as the rest of us."

All righty, then.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Who'da Thunk It?

I watched A Room with a View while I exercised this afternoon.

Who ever would have thought that Lucy Honeychurch would grow up to be Bellatrix Lestrange?

How Not to Start a Saturday

The kids have been bickering since 7:23AM.

C just spilled the container of flour all over the kitchen floor.

(Deep breaths. Deep breaths.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whole Lotta Nothing

M has strep again. Sigh.

I've been helping a friend with her campaign for reelection to school committee. My job is to organize coffees in people's houses. A person expresses an interest in helping, the person works with me to coordinate a date that suits them and the candidate, I help with invitations, get a list of invitees for our database, introduce the candidate at the event and generally facilitate conversation. It's been good for keeping me occupied and getting me out of the house some.

In the course of getting out, I've been in a fair number of people's houses. I may believe that we have a house that is just right for us, but, dang it, I also have some serious house envy. This one house in particular. It was put-together without being too formal. Pretty but not fussy. Tall ceilings, larger rooms. Just very well done. Though with the number of cabinets in the kitchen (few), I surmise the owner does a lot of takeout.

With Easter coming up, and just two days before my dad's birthday, I realize that I have been missing him a lot lately. Easter was always a fun family day growing up, and we almost always had brunch out with whatever family was local. It was a real treat. I'd love to have that kind of family tradition for Easter (not necessarily going out, but at the least gathering), but as much as I have tried to foster it over the years, I don't get much cooperation. Then I miss my dad even more.

The anniversary of C's illness is coming up. I think I'm doing okay with it right now. I think.

I'm planning S's very first birthday party. We're keeping it fairly simple, though I think it will be lots of fun. It will be at a gymnastics place the next town over. She is SO excited.

Town meeting has been ongoing for a few days. We bought the fire chief a new car without dissent (his current car isn't all that old), agreed to arguably needed renovations for a town tennis court without debate, had vehement opposition to textbooks for the kids in the schools, had vocal opposition to desperately needed repairs for the town pool, and a host of other things that make no freakin' sense to me. The police and fire departments were appropriated a LARGE sum to have their new buildings designed, at least with discussion. But I still contend the fire station isn't needed right now and the money appropriated for that design could have more than covered text books.

I went to a meeting last night that discussed contracting and consulting. While I prefer a regular position, time to adjust my view I think. One of the suggestions was for getting a business license to set yourself up as a sole proprietorship DBA ("doing business as"). This can be very helpful for cleaner accounting around tax payments, deducting business expenses, etc. So this morning I acquired a business license from the town hall. Part of my business name is "in Print" - where print can mean words or images. If I ever get this printmaking thing back on track, I'll already have some business bits in place.

My neighbors have an accepted offer on their house. They will be out of here before summer.

An old friend of my husband's family called this afternoon. Out of the blue. She lives in Norway. She called a couple of times about a year and a half ago with a crazy story about her husband. It was the kind of series of events you just can't make up, and it was happening to her. We talked for about 15 minutes, about nothing much at all. It was nice. She said she might come visit. Huh.

Told you, whole lotta nothing.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Imagine That

I made banana pudding yesterday, from scratch. Homemade custard, real whipped cream and chopped macadamia nuts on top. Yum.

My husband complimented me on the pudding.

Husband: Excellent banana flavor. What did you use to get that?

Me (wondering if it was a trick question): Bananas.

Husband: Huh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Open Memos (You Know Who You Are)

After reading this, one might get the impression that I am not in the best of moods right now. One might be right.

To the school committee candidate:

Acting holier-than-thou and failing to acknowledge the presence (much less contributions) of current school committee members at public campaign events does not help your cause. Neither does revealing names of students involved in specific programs and incidents. Nor indicating what you think of current administration members. It was noted. Then talking about how you can bring open, trustworthy communication to the role? The thuds you heard were jaws dropping to the floor. You may be better than the alternative candidate, but not by much.

To a specific family member on one side of the family:

If I have to listen to you complain one more time about how broke you are, then hear all about your most recent ski vacation in Park City (fifth this winter) and how you just got the cutest shirt/sweater/shoes/whatever, I am going to reach my hand through the phone line and throttle you. And I won't feel the least bit guilty.

To the CTO:

Typically one decides before inviting candidates in for interviews and then calling references for a specific candidate to actually fill the role, instead of doing all that, then sitting on it for weeks, stringing the candidate along, and still not making a decision whether to actually fill the role, and not offering any time frame on when the decision will be made. I am just saying. I'm still interested. Please let me know soon.

To certain members of the other side of the family:

Do not be surprised if you are not invited to my daughter's birthday party, or to anything else in the foreseeable future. We're tired of offers of support, gifts, and contact in general being totally unacknowledged and unappreciated. We're tired of the non-acknowledgement and non-support when things happen with us. I give up.

To my husband:

I love you very much and I know you are really trying hard to support me emotionally right now, but please stop saying you "know" how hard it is to keep my chin up and look for a job. You don't. You had exactly one job search, you had exactly two interviews and two offers. You don't know. I appreciate your efforts, but please stop saying that.

To the boys of summer:

Sorry, not even my favorite rookie is cheering me right now (astonishing as that magazine photo spread was). I'll get back to you guys soon. Promise.

To C:

Can you please, please cool the pre-adolescent drama for a bit? It would just help a whole lot. Thanks. And that extravagant vacation you want this summer? Not gonna happen. Sorry.

To M:

Thanks for the hugs. You are so good at figuring out when I need them.

To S:

I could use some more hugs.