Monday, September 27, 2004

This is the Week That Was

Remember that old television show? It always started with an announcer broadcasting in a booming voice: "This is the week that was." I never knew what part of that announcement actually represented the title of the show. I can't even remember the show very well. Michael tells me it was a satirical take-off on the news imported from (or ripped off from) the BBC in the late 60s or early 70s. Hard to believe I even recognize it, then, because I didn't have a television set for most of 1968 to 1972, which were my undergraduate years.

I think of it tonight because I have had quite a busy week. Busy and fun. Would it be too boring to run down the highlights? Probably. Is this my blog and I can do anything I want? Definitely. So, just to let you know I was not goofing off and thus neglecting my blog, I will share a little of a week in my life.

Last Monday didn't amount to much. I worked on restoring the house to normalcy, something I always have to do after the weekend. It is getting a little harder to discern normal from abnormal, though, because having Michael here throws me off in small, but noticeable, ways. I feel "observed" and awkward about what would otherwise be routine. Not his fault by any means. He pretty much keeps his head down and works on the job hunt, but I feel I should include him or acknowledge him about things, whereas before I would just do what I wanted or needed to as my day developed.

Monday night, after dinner, we had to go to IKEA because we had previously purchased the incorrect frame for our new desks and they had to be exchanged. Going to IKEA when you're in the right mood can be a kind of cheap date - fun without much expense if you're just window shopping. This wasn't actually expensive because we were doing an even exchange, but it turned out to be seriously annoying. There were very many IKEA employees and very few IKEA customers, yet getting service proved difficult. Their apple crumb cake (found in the snack bar in the Houston store) is very yummy and cheap at $1.25 a slice. We did enjoy that.

Tuesday, the cable guy came by to move our cable modem to the new location. (We are flipping the office and the cozy corner - a big project that has been underway for a while and included building shelves, etc. in the old cozy corner. See my archives for more.) We expected him to install the outlet and when we were ready, we would move the actual cable modem. Hah!! When you install the outlet, the cable modem has to be moved immediately. He explained why and I understood it, but it's not worth repeating. Bottom line, we had no cable in the office where our computer's were. Quickly assembling the desks and using my laptop computer proved to be a short term solution, which is good because Victoria had a dentist appointment that afternoon and I had a WIVLA meeting to attend early evening.

Check out to find out about this unique organization I belong to. WIVLA stands for Women in the Visual and Literary Arts.

Victoria had no cavities and the meeting went well, too. My friend Joanna presented a program on designing and building your own website that was fabulously instructive. You can find Joanna at . As always, we had wonderful conversations and high energy around art and literary topics. My friend Bertie attended with me and I took a new friend, Jane, along, so we had lively conversation to and fro as well.

Wednesday, I spent hours at the dentist myself on my second round of abscessed tooth relief. The aftermath hurt like the dickens, though, and I felt thoroughly miserable Wednesday night, Thursday and into Friday. But let's concentrate on Thursday. Michael isn't home for dinner on Thursday nights because he dines with a group of men friends every week, so Victoria and I have kind of girls' night out, although I don't think we were very festive that night. We made quesadillas at home and I worked on some writing I needed to have ready for my writers' group meeting on Friday morning.

I belong to the Friday Morning Writers' Group. We've been meeting for 7 or 8 years, it escapes me now, and the group is composed of excellent writers who give very good critiques. I love them dearly. I think they are my most devoted fans. They have certainly helped me polish a lot of writing. On the way home from that meeting, I stopped at Sam's and bought a few groceries. (That's a joke. Get it? No one can buy a few groceries at Sam's!) The point of the groceries is that we have to adjust our cooking now that Michael is not working.

For the past several months, we have been preparing meals at the Village Table, a place with a smart idea for making feeding yourself easy and delicious. You go there once a month and in two hours prepare (if you're a small family like us) 22-24 meals for the month to put in the freezer and cook later. We have been eating so well and enjoying such hassle-free lives in regard to groceries and food preparation, but there is a cost and we felt we couldn't spend the money any longer. But we wanted to continue the idea, so we are preparing 4 identical main dishes every time we cook and freezing 3 of them. So far, we've made meat loaf and baked ziti (of course, it's not baked yet, just frozen). And we've pre-packaged meal-sized portions of pork and chicken for the grill. It's working so far.

Friday night, Victoria had a Girl Scout meeting and Michael and I had to watch the season premiere of "Joan of Arcadia" which is our favorite television show. And we had to watch the "Andromeda" premiere, too, but we missed the early show and consequently had to stay up until midnight to see it.

Saturday, we went to Sam and Howard's 20th wedding anniversary. Sam throws a terrific party. The food tasted fabulous: Thai pumpkin soup, egg drop soup, curried chicken salad, spring rolls, crab quiche, poppy seed cake, brownies and another cake I didn't taste. Sam prepared everything except the spring rolls. The Thai pumpkin soup tasted especially terrific.

On our way home from there, we stopped in for a nightcap at Faye and Bill's. What a lively conversation! We touched on everything from "The Raj Quartet" to book publishing and ate Hagen Daz ice cream to boot. Saturday turned out great. And I wore the DRESS. Boy did I get compliments on it. Made me feel so proud of myself. Michael took a photo and when it's printed I'll post it. (Don't hold your breath, it's not a digital photo.)

Sunday I went to church and later I finished reading "The Raj Quartet." I love those books. Paul Scott (the author) has really written about 2000 pages of poetry. I marked several passages to write down later, but one of them just sticks with me: " ... and drops of rain strung from trees to dry." I can see those raindrops, I can see the clothesline, I can see the sun beating down to dry them out. The whole book is so well-written, as you've heard me say in previous posts. The ending is sad because the end of the British raj in India had so much violence and bloodshed attached to it. But the way Scott told the stories is just beautiful and I am so glad Teri gave me this book to read.

Also on Sunday, I had to interview someone for the monthly member profile I write for the WIVLA newsletter and get that into shape and submitted. I interviewed an artist who intrigued me so much that after we talked I checked out her art on the internet. So gorgeous. She paints the indigenous peoples of Mexico with astonishing authenticity and respect. You can see her art by looking at and then searching the artists galleries for Kay Sarver.

Now it's Monday. I slept in until 11 AM out of sheer exhaustion from last week. I do have lupus, you know, and I just don't hold up well. Then I had more organizational stuff to do for WIVLA. I went grocery shopping in the afternoon. And here I am. I am caught up. And you can see the kind of life I lead. It's busy and invigorating, even if only in small ways, and it makes me happy.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Sewing Machine Woman Strikes Again

It is a dress! I am so pleased by the outcome of my fabric dyeing project: an actual dress I can wear that, although quirky, looks good on me.

I picked up the pattern last Tuesday at Joanns on a kamikaze run in and out of the store while going to meet Roberta to talk about our collaboration for the upcoming WIVLA show. (See for more info.) I knew what I wanted - something with a scooped neck that I could wear the macrame necklace with (see my August archives for more on that) -and I didn't even have to open a pattern book to find it because it was on their revolving rack of cheap patterns. (That is a blessing in itself, as patterns have become VERY expensive these days.) I grabbed a matching zipper and thread on my way out.

I dread putting in zippers. I do know how, but have this sense they will be difficult and I will mess them up. In fact, in a very real sense, I dread sewing altogether. My mother is an exquisite seamstress. She is 82 and doesn't sew as much now, but one of the most lasting memories I will have of my mother is her bent over her machine. She loves to sew. And she is just so good at it. When I was a little girl, she made me a red plaid, wool overcoat with a lining that had every line of plaid matching at every seam. If you sew, you know that is extraordinary. If you don't sew, I probably can't convey the difficulty to you. You have to be able to envision the finished product when selecting the placement of pattern pieces on the uncut cloth. It's amazing and I know couldn't do it.

She made both my prom dresses. One year, we had a half day holiday and when I got home at lunch time, she had cut the fabric, sewed the formal, and was ready to mark the hem. We never worried too much about fitting, because Mother always got it right, even mailing me clothes that fit perfectly after I was long grown and gone. Now, when your mother can make a formal from start to finish between 8 AM and 12 noon while attending to younger children and the home duties of a mother of seven, it is a little daunting to learn to sew. Eventually, I did learn enough to be competent, but not confident.

I don't sew very often and it's mostly stuff for the house like curtains and pillow covers. Sometimes clothes for a child, but not even that for years. I like to do embroidery, both floss and silk ribbon, and I crochet, but I'm not too regular with those skills either, tending to feast or famine in terms of my interest and production. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I sewed myself an article of clothing. Many, many years. I have embellished a lot of sweatshirts, tee-shirts, etc, but actual sewing from start to finish, probably 10 or 12 years.

My fabulously hand-dyed fabric has changed all that for the moment. (Thanks again, Peggy, for your surface design lessons and your time.) On Saturday I cut the pattern out and on Sunday I constructed it. Today I finished it. These things are not as straightforward as they sound, though. I hated to cut the fabric in case I should make a mistake and ruin it forever. The dress I wanted was cut too long and I had to adjust the pattern. What if I screwed that up? The pattern cautioned about measuring the bust and waist carefully because the dress fits snugly and I worried about that a lot. Experience tells me that patterns are "big" and that you should take their measurements with a grain of salt, but I hadn't sewn in so long that I didn't trust my own judgment. Finally, I decided to cut the larger size (that matched my exact measurements).

Sewing it challenged me, too, not because I don't know how, but because I don't do this often enough to remember the little glitches on my machine or which foot is the zipper foot - little things that add up to big time losses if you have to keep starting and stopping. I had to take out a seam because I forgot to change the stitch setting from basting to sewing. My zipper actually went in almost perfectly, but somehow, the top of the dress is off by 1/8th of an inch. The topstitching on the neck facing didn't catch the fabric all the way around and I had to do two rows. Glitches like that which wouldn't even come up (probably) if I sewed regularly because I would be in practice.

The biggest mistake I made was cutting the larger size. The bosom turned out too big and the straps kept slipping off my shoulders; the snug fit just wasn't as form-fittingly flattering as it should have been. So I dug into my mental sewing kit and figured out how to fix it. Michael marked the fabric for me (had to take a dart under the arm and down the side seam, a hard place to put pins into by yourself!) and I fixed it. Really, it looks great. You wouldn't know I had had to fix it. The hem is just slightly diagonal, hanging a hair longer on the left side, but it fits nicely with the flirty hem-lines currently en vogue,so I'm not counting that as a mistake.

To get the final fitting right, I got dressed in the proper foundation garments and shoes for the dress and put it on with the macrame necklace. It looked very pretty. The fabric is soft and the colors look like the prettiest sunset you ever saw, but I felt surprisingly exposed with my shoulders bare, my waist hugged by fabric, my collarbone and sternum on display, and my knees peeking out. I feel like I am too old to be flaunting myself like this. I might be slim, but I am not a taut young girl anymore and I don't want to be one of those middle aged women who looks ridiculous because she's dressing too young. That said, I found a lovely off-white, fringed silk shawl that is big enough to go over my shoulders and tie behind my back - so that it makes kind of a tiny jacket in the front - and put that on. Perfectamente! It is exquisite.

My friend Sam is having a big party Friday for her 20th wedding anniversary, so I shall wear it there. I'll post a photo if I can get my husband to take one, but not today, I have already peeled off my stockings and foundation garments ...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Gamers Should Like This

Your Superhero Persona
by couplandesque
Your Name
Superhero NameSleep Apnea Woman
Super PowerAbility To Fly
EnemyThe Disgruntled Mailman
Mode Of TransportationMotorcycle
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Teeth, Computers and Baseball

It's a mixed bag tonight. Let's start here: What do teeth and computers have in common? They're both so ubiquitous that you don't think about them until they start hurting, and then it's probably too late! This comes to mind because I developed a toothache Wednesday evening. Thursday morning, I knew I had something seriously wrong and called the dentist, who ordered me up an antibiotic and scheduled me to come in Friday morning. By Thursday night it hurt so bad I just felt like banging my face against the furniture. The affected tooth is one of my lower front teeth, apparently perfectly good, never had a cavity or anything; however, even though I am a good brusher, my flossing isn't up to par and I immediately began castigating myself for poor oral hygiene as the root of my problem. ( And yes, I did just commit a terrible pun ... )

Fortunately, since I have a serious chronic illness, I also have pain meds on hand, so I downed a couple of whatevers and went to bed until Friday morning arrived. (There's a paradox in the last statement. Can you find it?) The dentist, a rather large, imposing man who has the demeanor of a drill sergeant (I am SO sorry, this stuff keeps coming out ... it must be the drugs), leaned over me ominously with his drill in hand and said, "You won't need any novocaine for this one, it's already dead." Apparently I blanched at the mere prospect, because he quickly added, "If it hurts at all, I'll stop." That is the nicest thing Dr. Sanders has ever said to me in five years as my dentist.

When the drill started its torturous, whirring, baby-buzzsaw noise, my skin got goosebumps all over and I could just feel the pain waiting around the bend for me. But he told the truth; it didn't hurt a bit. I had a preliminary root canal - preliminary because with a raging infection there seem to be limits to how safe it is to poke around inside a person - and I have to go back for more work next week. I felt so much better after he finished that first part, though, because the awful pressure of the bottled up infection was relieved. I will not bore or disgust you with dental details, but I do wonder why people say "root canal" with such dread? It didn't hurt and, in fact, made me feel very much better.

Now, how does this get us to computers? On Thursday, when I felt really awful and didn't want to cope with anything, I discovered that the 13 year-old's computer was running really slowly and seemed gummed up. The giant grinning boy-band lead singer pasted on her screen as wallpaper probably didn't help, but even after I removed him, the computer plugged along like something from the Dark Ages. A few questions led to answers I didn't like, such as "chat rooms" and "porn that keeps popping up," so I pulled the plug on the machine and decided to tackle it after the dentist on Friday, while Tori was away at school.

I accept the blame for this state of affairs with her computer. I ran a "protection" program when she got the computer for her birthday in July, but forgot to renew it when the trial period ended in August. And I guess she didn't want to tell me it had expired, because I had installed a lot of limits on how much time she could use it, etc., and life had become immeasurably more interesting after the blocks came off. But, as you can imagine, she managed to acquire not only some questionable websites, but a lot of spyware and other malicious junk. It took me hours to fix her computer.

First, I ran Ad-Aware and Spy-bot, and, yes, I did give the Spy-bot man a donation. (Thank you for your wonderful program.) Between the two of them, they removed 357 bad things from her computer and inoculated her against another 2238. Then I purged her temporary files and cookies and ran both programs again just to be sure. Next, I installed CyberSitter. I had tried CyberPatrol, but CyberSitter is much easier to use and more functional in my opinion. If I change my mind on that, I'll let you know. So now her computer is running like a charm. It's quick and loads up in a flash. If you Google on one of the "bad" words I blocked, the web page just comes up blank. And best of all, it SNOOPS and REPORTS. Perhaps this is an invasion of privacy, but, as a mature woman, I claim my right to invade the privacy of all children I am responsible for in order to preserve their welfare. After seeing what she managed to look at with her privacy intact, I have no qualms at all.

I remember reading an article about kids and porn that said something like "Most parents don't think their kid will look at it. And they are wrong." Well, that was Michael and me. We had the "safety talk" and thought she would follow our guidance. Hah! So, if you have a teen with an unprotected computer, I guarantee you that the kid has or will find a porn site or two and look at them. Even if they don't set out to do it, the porn perpetrators are so malicious that they sneak their crap into places where kids can't miss it. Examples: if you spell wrong, you will get a porn site. If you type in White House and forget to use .gov, you will get a porn site. Tori found her first porn site when she misspelled Yahoo. I happened to be in the room for that one. She was 11 at the time and she literally got up and ran away from the computer. Two years and one puberty later, she's not running away anymore.

Well, we've covered toothaches and computers. How about baseball? Tonight, Tori's choir sang the national anthem at the Houston Astro's baseball game. (She sings in the Houston city-wide Girl Scout choir, TakeNote.) It was really neat seeing her face tower over me on the Jumbotron! Of course, we couldn't see the real her because the choir was on the field right by home plate and our seats were at the farthest possible distance away above center field. (Actually, we couldn't see the Jumbotron, either, because we were sitting under it, but I got up and found a good spot to watch from before they sang.) I took pictures of the Jumbotron and, if anything turns out, I'll put it up for all to see. There was one really good shot of her that almost filled the screen and I hope I got that one. Don't hold your breath waiting, though, because it's real film, not digital, and a new roll at that, so I have to shoot a bunch more pics and get them developed before you have a shot at seeing it. (See, there's that pun thing again. I really think it's the drugs I'm taking for this toothache.)

By the way (or BTW as I probably should be saying), we have a dental/vision/drug discount card that we continued to pay for even after we had Michael's work insurance because it reduced our dental costs a lot. I used it for my antibiotic purchase and here's the result: A 10-day supply of generic antibiotic cost $44 before discount card and $14 after. I am thankful for the saved $30, believe me, but what in the world is wrong with this picture???? Our American health care system is so messed up I fear for us all.

Ciao for now.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The World According to Alix

I am about to write another essay - really - but I'm in the middle of a gruesome job (cleaning crap off my teenager's computer) so in the meantime, here is my daughter Alix's blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Another link to journals and weblogs for the adventurous to investigate.

Hot Flashes - The Menopause 'Burb

This is a great location to find other fascinating blogs. The fact that it's (mostly) written by menopausal women says something about how interesting we are, don't you think?

Horses Doing Four Part Harmony Acappella

Click on each horse to see it perform; the more horses you click on, the more harmony you get. Thx to Sharman for sending me this site.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Exhibit B: The Cozy Corner after Michael installed the new storage units. See "Moby Dick: The Great White Wall" post. Posted by Hello

Exhibit A: The Cozy Corner before Michael built the new storage unit. Posted by Hello

Could it be prettier? I hate to cut it, but the dress will be wonderful. For details on how I dyed this luscious piece, see my August posts. The titles are fairly obvious. Posted by Hello

Mother's Day at the zoo, she is lost in her journal. The smitten photographer captures her straw hat and ruby lipstick before the moment perishes. Later, she is surprised. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Moby Dick: The Great White Wall

Okay, it's actually "Natural Linen" instead of white, but the wall got finished over Labor Day weekend and circumstances kept me from describing the process. To start with, Michael got the idea months ago to build in bookshelves, a window seat and a display shelf around the windows in our Cozy Corner (in other homes perhaps a dining room, but in ours a place to read or escape). That window is large and has four beautiful stained glass windows in it.

Window Aside: The windows were custom-made in 1990 for our previous home in Houston using matched windows imported from England as their centers. Each pane features a richly colored red tulip with green leaves in kind of an art deco effect. The panes hang two across and two down. We installed track lighting to make them more visible at night, but after doing that realized the lighting would have to be outdoors shining in for us to get the benefit! So we give our neighbors a lovely view whenever we turn on the track lights. And the cats sometimes get behind the panes, which is a problem if they are startled and jump off the window ledge - the windows swing back and forth alarmingly.

Back to the built-ins. Michael conceived this idea but, in all honesty, he is not a carpenter and most of his projects are things for the garage or backyard, not the interior of our house. Despite his doubts and limitations, he gamely undertook the project last winter, telling me that if it didn't turn out, we'd go shopping at IKEA. I promised to paint it if it ever got built. (I am in charge of all indoor painting and Michael is in charge of all outdoor painting.) There were many starts and stalls and bad language along the way. Sometimes he just ignored it for a couple of weeks. After a couple of months, the inside of the house started looking a little ratty because things were put in storage, but then slowly leaked back out as they were needed and turned into clutter. And it's possible I used the mess as an excuse to lower my cleaning standards ... I'm not admitting that, though.

There seemed to be a point of utter chaos around this project and then a sudden, miraculous convergence when it started looking like a built-in wall unit. Michael decided he would use some vacation days to finish it over Labor Day weekend. And that is what happened. His final effort was building a bridge between the two bookcases. Then we painted everything with the same lovely enamel paint I used for the woodwork the last time I did interior painting, assembled it against the wall and installed molding across the top and at the bottom to complete the "built-in" look. Oh, and I caulked a few joints and touched them up. Voila! It looks fabulous. Michael is amazed, but I'm not. I knew he would accomplish it because he is very determined and dogged when he makes a commitment.

I have a collection of ewers from all over the US. Hunting for unique pottery is one of my favorite vacation pastimes. I only buy a pitcher if it is very unusual, complements my other pieces and has been a joy to acquire. I currently have eleven; I add one every year or two. They have been crowded on a long windowsill in my kitchen, but have now found a new home atop the bridge over the window in the Cozy Corner. And they look so pretty there - it's spacious and each one has room to stand out and show off it's special attributes. And, importantly, they are safe there. My friend Tom Perry threw one of my ewers. (It has a lovely sea-green and lavendar finish and a special little touch on the spout that would make me love it even if Tom hadn't made it.) And last year, Tori had an accident with the mini-blinds that broke the spout. I cobbled it back together, but I really felt badly about it and Tori did, too. So now they are all safe from mini-blinds, kids, cats and the ordinary vicissitudes of life.

Thank you, Michael, for having enough faith in yourself to undertake building Moby Dick: The Great White Wall. Maybe the pergola in the backyard is next ...

Oh, a note about Tom Perry. He is currently an artist in residence at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and you can see him at work or buy one of his pieces there. Their website is

Monday, September 13, 2004

Perking Up Is Not Just for Coffee

Can't keep dragging. Several friends have offered good suggestions for how to get out of the drug problem (that doesn't sound right, but see previous post to clarify) and I am going to look into them. The reality is that we will probably scrape the money together to buy the COBRA continuation insurance as long as we can afford to and hope that Michael finds work soon.

Here's a plug for Michael: He is a fine writer and editor with excellent experience and good references. He has worked in a variety of industries, so his outlook is broad. He has two degrees - a BS in Professional Writing and a BA in History. He edited a national bi-monthly magazine for a large corporation. HE CAN WRITE ANYTHING.

If you have any contacts for a job (preferably in Houston, buy, hey, we're flexible) let me know.

It is nice to have Michael across the desk from me for the time being. Before, he and Tori (the 13 year old) would leave at 7:00 AM for work and school, and I would spend most days alone except for incidental contacts. That is not so bad for a writer, of course. I need to be alone to do my work. But the company is nice. Nicer yet would be to find a way to spend time with him and make money ... that's worth thinking about. The down side of having him at home is that I can't be a slouch - he knows if I'm working or not!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Drugs, Depression and Dance

It's D-Day: drugs, depression and dance. In that order.

Drugs. My husband got laid off last week. His company is opening an office in Gatwick, England and hiring someone there to do his job. I don't know exactly where Gatwick is, and right now I don't think I want to find out. Losing your job means losing your insurance. It's the American way. Losing your insurance is bad for anyone, but really bad if, like me, you have a chronic illness that requires you to take a lot of medication. I have Lupus, and I take more drugs everyday than some people take in a year. (That's depressing in and of itself.) But without insurance, the costs are really high, so today I got on the net and looked up the new Medicare prescription program to see if I could get the costs pared down. Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is I can cut the cost of my drugs. The bad news is that after doing that, they will still run me over $900 per month. Yes, you heard me. Over $900 every month to take the medicine I need. That leads to ...

Depression. I have just felt like crap all day. What's the point, I keep thinking. Even if we scrape up the money to buy a COBRA package until Michael finds a new job (COBRA's only going to run $663 per month), the reality is that someday he will retire and we won't have insurance and I won't be able to afford my drugs. Does that mean you get to retirement and just have to die? Seems like it. We are 9 years away from his retirement, so I'm presuming the $900+ per month for me, plus whatever his medical needs will be, is going to be inflated, but even if it wasn't, let's just say the first $1000 every month of our retirement income is going to go to medication? I'm sorry folks, but we just aren't going to retire well enough off cover that and still maintain a decent lifestyle. I'm seeing a future I don't like. But, I have a subscription to the Houston Ballet that's already been paid for, so I went to that tonight with my lovely daughter, Alix, and that leads to ...

Dance. Three wonderful performances. The first an odd little piece about a misplaced bird titled "The Accidental." Evocative, poignant, quiet. The second an intense examination of board room politics called "The Host" that featured men in suits, something you don't see a lot of on stage at the ballet. Excellently done and very provocative. The final one, by Lila York, was "Celts." Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. I loved it. After the first minute, I started feeling bad because I knew it was going to end. This dance was set a year before Riverdance came out, think Riverdance en pointe and more complex. Frankly, I think someone at Riverdance saw Lila's work and copied, but I have no proof. It was riveting, enthralling, amazing and athletic. I really love the ballet.

Drugs, Depression and Dance. Three authentic issues for today. And sometime late this evening, I remembered that it was September 11 and maybe I felt bad just because it is the anniversary of a tragedy that remains unbelievable even though I saw it happen (on TV) and then saw it happen over and over and over again. I guess we've all seen it happen in replay so many times that we can never forget it, even when we think we have.

I'm usually an upbeat person. Tomorrow I'll probably be chipper again. A lot of good stuff has happened this week that I'd like to write about. Tomorrow would be a better day for that, though. Tonight, I'm just thankful for the dancers who gave me a blessing at the end of this sad day with their joyous work on stage.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Day of the Scorpion

An update on my reading. I finished the first book of the Raj Quartet and am devouring the second, "The Day of the Scorpion," as fast as I can. It is compelling. Scott's approach is masterful: he is essentially continuing the story from the first book using a new set of characters to interact with and talk about the previous set of characters (some of whom are now dead). In doing so, he presents entirely new viewpoints on the events of the first book and so deepens our appreciation of the complexities involved. As with the first book, the writing is lyric and formal, subtle and understated. It is difficult to identify a "main character" because the novel is full of important characters who carry the story forward, but one of the chief characters, Hari Kumar, is more fully developed in the second novel and his story is riveting. I wonder how I missed this author. I have a degree in English Literature and read extensively. I love "big" books - my favorites are "Middlemarch" and "Kristen Lavransdatter" - but I missed these four. They will certainly qualify as an epic by the time I've finished all four!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Old-Age Parenting Can Be Hard

I'm too old for this. Being the mother of a thirteen year old, that is. My other kids are 30 and 25, shouldn't I be sipping martinis and playing bridge in the evenings? Okay, I don't like martinis and I don't play bridge, but it's the principle of the thing. Right now it's pushing 9:00 PM and the icky teen is pushing my buttons. I know my complaints are not unique: her room is a mess, the phone is surgically attached to her ear, parent-deafness struck her suddenly, accompanied by a never-ending verbal tic that starts "I want ... ". But I have already done this twice and I'm not convinced I can do it a third time.

This past year we had simultaneous hormone riots, her going through puberty and me going through menopause. Maybe she siphoned off my estrogen and progesterone while I slept, a teen-aged hormone vamp(ire). Because she is cute, that fresh, sweet, unconscious beauty that my husband used to refer to as "cupcake" until he had a daughter of his own on the bakery shelf. Cute and demonic. Alternately running the house and unable to dress herself - at least in clothing that will get her past the vice-principal at the middle school's front door. Other people think she is angelic, mature, responsible, sweet, smart ... I could go on. And she is, but ... 'but' is the part I live with that drives me crazy and makes me ask just what I thought I was doing when I embarked on this venture.

Over-the-hill child raising is hard work, yet I can't deny the fact that she is probably responsible for the fact that I am walking around today and not flat on my back. Because when she came into our lives, I was so sick with lupus that I wasn't walking. I had given up work because I was so ill and I used a walker or scooter to get around on the occasions I went anywhere. I remember one winter afternoon, shortly after she joined our family at the age of three, that she came over to the sofa, where I had passed out from fatigue and illness, and poked my shoulder, saying quite matter of factly, "No one is watching me." When that penetrated the fog I was in, I sat up and watched her. And watched her. And played with her. And now it's 8 years later and I am no longer housebound or unable to walk. In fact, I took a mile walk with my husband tonight. So the icky teen-ager isn't SO icky after all. It's just a matter of perspective.

I feel compelled to admit that I wrote too many passive sentences in this entry and, if I really had literary gumption, I'd go back and rework them into better prose, but I'm tired and I'm just going to give myself a pass on good sentence construction tonight. (But I will check for spelling errors and omissions.)