Wednesday, November 30, 2011


To help you understand this one, I need to tell the story of some book buying. Last year I took Relia to B&N Har Mar and let her pick out two kids books from the used section. One of them was a book about Hanukkah, detailing the lighting of the various candles. Just one more sign from the universe that our family should really be Jewish.
Anyway, this conversation took place yesterday on the ride from daycare:

Relia: (pointing at the house next to the place, yard covered with various Christmas decorations) Look, she has her Hanukkah candle up!
Me: Yep. It's called a 'candelabra'.
Relia: 'Candle-agra'. I hope that Nana puts hers candle-agra up soon.
Me: Does she have one?
Relia: Oh yes. And soon she'll put it up. (pause) And then she'll make angel food cake like she always does. (pause) And then Grandpa will sit and watch the stupid old TV.
Me: Um, is that a Hanukkah tradition too?
Relia: Yes, he does that every year.

For the record, the FP Gal's family isn't Jewish and I don't know if they have a candelabra or not. And as far as I know Grandpa doesn't really 'watch the stupid old TV' that much.
Where does she get this stuff?

Update: And now I find out that she was talking about a 'menorah' and I have no clue what I'm telling her.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It's not even December yet (not quite) and I'm already having trouble dealing with the weather. We've only dipped into the 20s and it still feels . . . unfair somehow. I think Meigan said we deserve extra credit for living through Minnesota winters and that is certainly true. Unfortunately, I don't know what we're storing that credit up for. Maybe life on the upper plains makes it easier to get into heaven.
I feel this way especially in the morning. Our downstairs is very tricky in terms of gauging just how warm it is outside. As a result, I rarely feel confident that I got the kids dressed right. Once we get into true winter this won't matter as much because then you simply load on the clothes and go. During the transition periods it's harder.
I keep wishing we had a steam room in our house. Doesn't that sound nice? Not really a sauna as I want something wetter. Maybe like those big Russian baths. Today I actually ran the water in the shower for about twenty minutes while I sat in the bathroom and read.

Oh, this could be a long next few months.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back to Status Quo

Now that Thanksgiving is done, I'm hoping that things calm down here on Walton mountain. We're finally all healthy again. Probably. DF may still have some lingering thing. But he's no longer running a fever. (And yes, I knocked on wood after typing that out.)

I have a new computer up and running. Much to the FP Gal's consternation, I went with another HP. What can I say? I also bought another Kia after the last one dern near killed me. Guess having a product crash doesn't permanently chase me away as a customer.

Our house is becoming more and more Christmasy. Relia is incredibly aware of what's going on. She asked us today where Santa lives and wasn't satisfied with just 'at the north pole'. She wanted specifics. And then she tried to figure out where he puts all of his food. I suggested that he use the flying reindeer and she told me that 'he is magic and can go a week without food'. Then she got upset when I mentioned that Santa is pretty fat and would like to eat more often.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dragon Nest

DF's sleeping set up is kind of screwy. Instead of a pillow he has folded up blanket and for a blanket he uses a towel. Last night I told the FP Gal that we just need to get a pillow to dry him with post-bath and the cycle would be complete.
I'm sure every family has some kind of idiosyncrasy like this. I can even explain exactly how ours got this way. As an infant DF didn't use a pillow of course. At some point I thought he'd be more comfortable with one so I grabbed what was handy, a blanket, and improvised. When the weather turned colder this fall I needed something to put over him. The towel was handy.
The tricky part is that Relia has kind of a special pillow. The FP Gal has long had a sea turtle stuffed animal with a broad flat shell. At some point it went to Relia and has become her special thing. When she's crying it becomes her comfort talisman. And it puts some pressure on us to get something good for DF.
Which is maybe silly, but it's a nut we're trying to crack.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Have a Great Friday

I suppose this should be fall or winter looking but, honestly, look at that trail of blue. Isn't that cool?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffery, RIP

I just found out that Anne McCaffery, author of the Dragons of Pern books has died. I was first handed one of her books sometime around fifth or sixth grade. It was 'Dragonsong', a lovely story of a young girl who had serious musical talent that she wasn't allowed to explore. The girl, Menolly, was driven from her village and took refuge out in the wilds. While there she impressed (befriended but stronger) some small dragons. I read that book to shreds.
This led me to the other dragon books and I read them pretty heavily too. McCaffery was the first author that I read who built a serious and detailed imaginary world. (I'd count CS Lewis but Narnia loses focus as soon as you get away from the stories. Pern seemed substantial enough to go on its own.) I'll always treasure that.
A couple of years ago I gave them to the FP Gal to read. She devoured them, so they must still hold up. If you're looking for some good young adult reading, this is an excellent series.
All authors die. The most that they can ask for is for their works to live on beyond them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


If anyone is curious, here is where things stand now:

  • My computer is dead, dead, dead. Or at least the amount of money that I would need to spend on fixing it is close enough to the price of a new one that this is the route that I'll go. Hope to get that done this week.

  • I've been using the FP Gal's laptop off and on this week. She has been very good to share it with me. But I'm soooooo ready to be back with my piece of hardware. My own bookmarks and music and so on and so forth. Yep.

  • Everyone in the house feels good right now (knocks on wood). We had a rolling bout of something but it seems to have rolled away.

  • One casualty of both sickness and dead computer is my Nanowrimo attempt this year. Between the two of them I found myself about 7000 words behind. And that's even before the busy stuff of birthdays and Thanksgiving. I don't feel bad about this. There were truly events that I just couldn't overcome.

  • The FP Gal is still posting so you can go to her blog for updates.

  • I'll try to blog up a storm once I'm back in business.

Happy Birthday!

To the FP Gal!

I hope that you have a wonderful next year with many blessings.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Computer Down

Yesterday morning when I went to wake up my computer it wouldn't wake up. It still hasn't. I'm looking into fixing it but nothing yet. Not sure if it's easy enough to fix on our own or if I'll need experts.
So I've been on internet withdrawl for the past couple of days and it's not pretty. Obviously, posting may be light to non-existent until I get this all fixed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Prarie - Opening Ceremonies Vancouver

Joni Mitchell popped up on my iTunes tonight (yes it did, don't judge) and brought to mind my on and off search for a part of the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony. For some reason the bit where they celebrate the prairie is simply hard to find. It featured an acrobat from Montreal doing big wire sailing movements above movies of fields of grain. All of this set to 'Both Sides Now'. Very beautiful stuff.
Anyway, here it is. They won't let me embed so you'll have to click through. Not the best, I'm afraid. I wish I could get the actual feed from NBC but that seems to be beyond my google-fu. This is the best I can do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Books They Gave Me

This is the most interesting thing I've read today.

I think early in our relationship I gave the FP Gal Rand's 'Anthem' to read. She gave me Lowry's 'The Giver'. Interesting that we exchanged small dystopian novels. Since then I've pushed some other books on her because, well, I'm a book pusher.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adventures of Knifey Boy

(Thought I posted this yesterday but I must not have. Ah well, there goes NaBloPoMo!)

On Sunday the FP Gal went out with her mom while I watched the kids and some football. At one point this exchange happened:

Relia: DF is poking me with a knife!
Me: Well, move away from him then.

After the play was over, I walked over to see what was happening. DF had gotten a steak knife from the counter and was now gently stabbing a door with it. I bravely wrestled it away from him and put it in the dishwasher.
Later that day he dragged one of the forty chairs we have in the downstairs area into the kitchen. He then opened up the silverware drawer and got out another knife, this one only for butter. We gave him the 'no no no no' treatment and got it away from him.
So we have an 18 month old who wants to search the drawers and seems to like knives. Nothing unheard of but a bit of a surprise for us since Relia never went through this. Live and learn, I guess. We've moved all of the dangerous knives to places he can't get to (yet). And if the problem continues we'll get child safe whatevers for the drawers.
I'm torn on how to deal with this. All of the great fencers started young and I don't want to stiffle his ambitions. On the other hand, we can't really accept a high casualty count while he learns his trade.
Is it too late to check into Jedi school?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Final 20

I've posted about this list before, the top 200 songs that reached #1 on the charts. Each week I'd have the FP Gal try and guess the song from the teaser lyric that they would provide. She is a) pretty good at this and b) sad that the list is finally done. Because it is and they've revealed the final selection. I thought I'd share the final 20.

20. Stayin' Alive - The Bee Gees
19. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics
18. Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
17. American Pie - Don Maclean
16. SexyBack - Justin Timberlake
15. Don't Be Cruel - Elvis
14. I Love Rock n Roll - Joan Jett & the Heartbreakers
13. Hey Ya! - Outkast
12. Sweet Child o Mine - Guns n Roses
11. Heard it Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye

Some solid songs and a few ridiculous ones. Both Timberlake and Outkast, well, ugh. I would have preferred a list that only went up to 2000. Would give us a chance to look back at least ten years to see how songs age. (Apparently they have such a list somewhere but I don't know where it is.) Anyway, continuing on:

10. Gold Digger - Kanye West
9. I Get Around - Beach Boys
8. Lose Yourself - Eminem
7. That'll Be the Day - The Crickets
6. Every Breath You Take - The Police
5. Hound Dog - Elvis
4. Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
3. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
2. Respect - Aretha Franklin
1. I Want to Hold Your Hand - Beatles

Kanye West one is interesting but not even kind of historic. The rest I can live with, even Eminem. The only one of the top five that I guessed ahead of time was 'Billie Jean'. Hard to argue with the Beatles though.

Each post on the list included a link to the video. I watched them all, even the newer hip hop and rap ones. Found a few catchy tunes there that I otherwise wouldn't have missed so it was worth it. I had some disagreements but my personal list would have had about 100 songs from 1980 - 1987 and huge pushback from everyone else. I can step back and recognize that other songs are worthy or respect, even if I don't care for them.
One joy from this was hearing a whole slew of stuff from the 50's and 60's that the FP Gal loves. We'll probably make a disc of them for the car at some point. As I said before, it was a lot of fun and I'm sad to see it be over.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


We took Mom's advice and went swimming today at the Edinborough Park pool. The kids loved it and it wasn't bad for us either. We spent at least an hour in the pool and Relia only touched the side for a few minutes of that. The rest was spent floating and kicking or being dragged through the water by mom and dad. I asked her later if she enjoyed it and she said, "didn't you see me smiling?".
There were no family locker rooms so I took DF into the men's locker room. He did not care for the heavy plastic mat on the floor there. It was ouchy on the feet. He did like all of the locker doors (of course) and thought it was fun to shower with daddy.
After we were done we left for home and he took a very long nap. The pool tuckered him out! I wonder if they have a four bedroom apartment there for the cost of our mortgage?

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Yesterday I took Relia to a swim lesson. This will be the new routine on Friday mornings and it might be a bit hectic. The timing of the lesson and some other Friday things is very tight and we'll have to move a little fast to meet them. Which meant that for some period of time yesterday I had to act a bit like a mule driver ("Go, go! Put on your pants! Put on your shirt! We have to go!"). None of this had any effect on her.
As we were putting her into the car I said exasperatedly, "Someday I will teach you the meaning of urgency."
She simply said, "Not today!"

I was laughing too hard at her to be upset.

I only saw a bit of the lesson as I was chasing DF the whole time in an adjoining room. We watched briefly through the window though. Relia was happy as could be in the pool. She's really taking to these lessons and I wish I could figure out a pool our family could go to this weekend.
DF thought that the Y was wonderful. Mostly because he found the storage lockers and spent most of her lesson opening and closing doors. I hadn't realized this before but at the prime age of one year old he would make a great doorman.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Have a Great Friday

Actual photo taken from our bathroom this morning.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Red Shoes - Kate Bush

This is Relia's current favorite song. At first I thought it was the upbeat timing of it that she really liked but it's also the whistle. She says that she likes the 'aaah-aaaah' part too. Not sure what she means but I won't question it.
This all came about because only last week did I learn that Kate Bush put out a new album earlier this year. I knew that she has one coming out in a few weeks, but this one came as a surprise. It's called 'Director's Cut' and features reworks of several of her songs from 'The Sensual World' and 'The Red Shoes'.
I picked it up on iTunes and I'm digesting it (as we speak!). Any good? Some yes, some ok. The whole album is slower and more atmospheric, save for 'The Red Shoes' which sounds much like the original except for more speaking instead of singing. The only ones that really catch my ear so far are 'Deeper Understanding' which is improved and 'This Woman's Work' which becomes a different song. It sounds much sadder and remorseful. Reminds me of the sad low point of the hero in a thoughtful movie (if that makes sense). Here it is from YouTube if you're curious.
Part of me loves turning Relia on to Kate Bush. Not all of it will work for her, and so much of it can't be even kind of understood until she's older. But still, well, someday she'll thank me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

To Reread?

Interesting article from the New Yorker on the virtue of rereading a book.
Few would question looking at a great painting twice, or watching a favorite movie again and again. But, perhaps because rereading requires more of a commitment than giving something a second look, it is undertaken, as Spacks puts it, “in the face of guilt-inducing awareness of all the other books that you should have read at least once but haven’t.” It engages, she fears in her darker moments, a “sinful self-indulgence.” Never mind Nabokov, or Flaubert, who marvelled at “what a scholar one might be if one knew well only five or six books.”
I've wrestled with that exact issue. Should I reread something or tackle something new. In the last five years or so I've very consciously tried to keep grabbing new stuff. After a while I fall into a rut and go back to something that I already know. Maybe I need to drop the guilt.

Interestingly, I don't think that I have a feel for an album until I've listened to it a good half dozen times. Songs that were simply aural wallpaper turn out to be beautiful once they stand out. Upbeat songs that grab attention right away sometimes become annoying.
Hmmmm . . .

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Where Did the Harry Potter Readers Go?

Here is an interesting article. AbeBooks tracked Harry Potter readers to see what they read after the Potter books. Any guesses? Well, they went practically everywhere.
Top ten:
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Covey
  • Unbearable Lightness of Being - de Rossi
  • The Bluest Eye - Morrison
  • The Dukan Diet Recipe Book - Dukan
  • The Postmistress - Blake
  • Beloved - Morrison
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living - Carnegie
  • The Soloist - Lopez
  • Cather in the Rye - Salinger
  • Land of Painted Caves - Auel
What I'd be more interested in is some idea of whether they bought more or less books than the average reader.