Monday, September 12, 2016

Annals of Serendipitous Parenting

Monday morning. Sleepy.

Driving out, a few blocks from home. Quiet rural roads.

Hungry. Where did I put that toast-and-jam? I look at the passenger seat.

The car swerves to the right.

I catch the goof, swerve left, I am back to driving straight.

I explain to the kid in the back seat what happened. "I guess it's dangerous to drive hungry," I quip.

She does not laugh.

I glance back, notice her scared wide eyes.


I believe I've motivated her to catch the school bus from now on.

Friday, June 24, 2016

24-June-2016 dream before alarm went off

In my dream the Ku Klux Klan had a rally in my town's center.

There was a counter-protest worship service nearby, outside a synagogue I'd never seen before.
(I wondered why we were members of a synagogue the next town over instead of this one, and concluded that this one must be Reform instead of Conservative.)

The rabbi had wheelie sneakers; she glided around the front of the congregation. There were empty chairs, but no extra prayer books. I tried to find a chair with a prayer-book so I could join in, but the service ended before I found one.

The synagogue was packed up into a tent to be driven away

So that's why I'd never seen it before: it was temporary and mobile.

Later, inside some building in town, I was with people I didn't know, but chatting in a friendly way. I quoted lines from a country music song--Miranda Lambert's one about being ready to shoot her abusive man when he got home. The old guy I quoted it to smiled. But there was something in his eyes that made me wonder if I shouldn't have quoted something so feminist.

A little boy from the hate group came in and spouted words meant to provoke one of us into fighting him. He gave me the impression he was used to beatings from his own group. I said, "Even murderers raise their children to be good and kind to everybody until they turn 14 or so & then they say it's time to kill people." I put my arms around him and gave him a hug.

Later, I walked over to another group of children at a table. They were reading comic books left by the hate group. I asked one of the children about it. He explained why Jews were bad. I attempted Socratic method to convince him otherwise, asking questions. He brought up circumcision. I defended how I had seen it practiced. "The baby gets a sip of wine before and then goes to his mother after. He is OK." The discussion escalated, I don't remember most of the words. I just remember my last words were a declaration that ended in "...Jews like me."

At those words, everyone in the room--children and adults--stood up and looked at me with hard hostile stares that told me to leave.

The clock radio went off.

It was 6am.
National Public Radio announced that Britain had voted to leave the European Union.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Pure Wow's 15-piece capsule wardrobe - no

According to a website called Pure Wow! Here listed are

The Only 15 Items You Need to Build the Perfect Wardrobe

with my comments:
  1. The perfect white tee
    • No, nothing white, I always get it stained.
    • A few neutral colored tee shirts that don't have anything written on them would work.
    • Gray, Charcoal Gray, Tan, Heather Blue
  2. A navy blazer that's not part of a Pantsuit
    • OK, but preferably a loose cotton machine-washable one
    • Linen is nice in the summer too
  3. An A-Line Midi Skirt that highlights your shape
    • Hah! No. No skirts. My shape is the problem
    • Skirts are very sensitive to expansion and contraction of waistline
    • A plain dress of some sort is acceptable.
    • Although I avoid dresses because they create complications with shoes and socks
  4. Dark wash flared jeans that elongate your legs
    • OK, a pair of jeans. Two pairs. Black and blue. 
    • Lightweight blue for summer.
  5.  A white button-down that's not your boyfriends
    • White again. Danger. Only if you need it for a job interview
    • Otherwise, fine, some kind of blouse.
  6. A classic trench coat that makes you feel elegant.
    • Yes.
  7.  Tailored black pants you can dress up or down
    • OK
  8. A silky black camisole you can layer or not.
    • Not. Not with my fat arms. Substitute one of the neutral-colored t-shirt
  9. A good ole denim jacket
    • Maybe. But other cloth jackets are often better-looking
    • Denim jackets can be styled rather weird and look outdated soon
  10. A not-stuffy pencil skirt
    • No skirts.
  11. A striped shirt that makes you look French.
    • Horizontal stripes. Hahaha. I learned that was a no-no in 9th grade. Only for the thin & fit.
  12. White pants you can wear any time of the year.
    • White. On pants. Just never sit down anywhere. Yeah, forget it.
  13. A little black dress you'll wear forever.
    • Sure. My eternal quest.
    • There was once this perfect looking dress in a Victoria's Secret catalog. 
      • Decades ago, perhaps. 
      • I wish I'd bought it. 
      • No. I wish I'd saved the photo.
  14. A Showstopping dress for special occasions
    • Wait for the occasion before buying the dress
  15. A basic sweater to throw over anything
    • I have a nice black cotton sweater from the long-defunct Tweeds Catalog.
    • I miss getting clothes from the Tweeds Catalog
    • I wish J.Crew would revive it, with decent clothes.
    • I have that nice black cotton sweater, and a very nice embroidered? jackard? greyish button-down shirt that I wear over plain t-shirts in the summer. 
    • Something happened to textiles between the 1980's and now. 
      • Clothes purchased in the past 10 years or so will develop holes much sooner than they ought to. 
      • Something is very wrong.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Crochet Hat May 1-8, Lion Homespun Lagoon

Soft acrylic nubby yarn. You have to be a Ravelry member to access project on Ravelry, so transposing description here:

homespun was $6/skein, but used 40% coupon.
Started with 8 or 9 mm largest crochet hook I had, since I got confused by hook number on skein package, but switched to 6mm once realized it was actually requesting number 9, which is 6.5mm. 
My set of hooks has 6 & 7, not 6.5.
Started with magic loop, otherwise I started by trying to follow I didn’t understand the set of stitches, parentheses with no numbers to indicate repeated pattern and how it was all supposed to add up to the specified number of stitches for that row. 
So I just made circular rows with uneven occurrences of fpdc and dc, incrementing, then decrementing as it got ruffly. 
When near maximum width, did a circular row of simple dc, then all fdpc. 
Continued decrementing with fdpc until at head width. 
Then made some rows of regular hdc’s until nice margin to fold over. 
There’s a bit of yarn left--perhaps enough for fingerless mitt or 2.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Inside looking out

My quiet self is different from the self who talks to people.
And sometimes after the people have gone,
my quiet self ruminates on what the talkative self said,
and wonders 
Where did that come from?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You can see pretty stuff in the Spring, especially in the Lake District

I was walking along, detached and daydreaming--
When all of a sudden, bamm--the scenery hit me:
Sunlight, flowers--bright yellow flowers
Under trees. They were next to the lake: a big lake with choppy waves.

That all brought me down to earth,
And connected me with the infinite.
I wallowed in an infinity of joy.

It's worth going places and seeing stuff like that
Because sometimes, you know, I can get depressed,
Or there's times when I'm not thinking of anything good,
Then suddenly, that scenery--it all crashes back at me:
Then I'm happy.
Just happy by myself remembering.


Monday, March 28, 2016


Love? Me.
Never! Wait! Always.
Dark Spirit. Love. Tamed.
Yes, No. No, Yes. Yes.
He came, he saw, I conquered.
C'mon, we all know how this ends.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thos Moser

The annual Thomas Moser, or Thos Moser, catalog arrived today. I've been paging through and admiring its wood furniture. Long ago, and several mailing addresses away, I remember wanting the Dr White's Chest, oh, so much! but it cost more than my first new car. Still, it has only gone up in price. We could have seen it as an investment.

A few years back I finally bought a big dresser from Big Lots. It's covered with dark cherry veneering that has scratched in a few places. It stores my clothes. And I don't have to worry about it being a legacy or anything. No kid's going to fight about it twenty years from now.

The item that caught my breath in this year's catalog is the Portland Chair. I'm not sure it would be comfortable to sit on. I do admire its design. Having just found the web photo to insert the link, I will say that it does look much better in the printed catalog. And on the designer's blog. I wonder what it's like in real life.

I searched through to see what the lowest priced item was--for amusement, and, OK, wondering if there was anything that we could afford. I found a 9 x 15 x 8 inch Crescent Stool, for only $210. "The size of a shoe-box," my husband says. "You could pay $500 and take a woodworking class and make lots of them."

Actually, they do teach woodworking at Thomas Moser, though they probably charge more than we'd be willing to pay these days. And your time is worth something. Just paying the $200 can save you a lot of trouble.

But my house is chaos. Thos Moser furniture is not the type that improves with scratches.

And I know I'll be sending in that $200 for this month's car payment.

I'm pretty sure Thos Moser got my mailing address from the New Yorker. Ironically, I cancelled the subscription last fall because we needed to save money. One of our cars was dying.

Maybe I'll just save the catalog as a design book, to look at now and then.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Did the wicked angel win?

It was in All of a Kind Family that I first heard the story of the good and wicked Sabbath Angels, though I have heard the story since then, so it is a verified part of the culture.

On Friday evenings, every Jewish home is visited by a pair of angels: one good and one wicked. If the candles are lit and everyone gathered and celebrating the Sabbath, the good angel is happy and prays "May it always be thus." Then the wicked angel has to swallow its snarls and say "Amen."

But if Sabbath is not being observed, then the wicked angel gets to gloat and curse "May it always be thus." And the poor weeping good angel must also say "Amen."

Well, usually in my home, the wicked angel has been winning. There were times, when the kids were in Jewish preschool, and brought home little baked challahs on Friday, and before I started working an hour's drive south (sans traffic) when we would do the entire Sabbath, more or less as done in my childhood. OK, without my Dad's no-bluejeans rule, and I admit, always skipping Grace After Meals (because it is so long.)

But one week ago Thursday, I was shopping in Trader Joe's, and saw, bought and brought home a bag of challah rolls. Friday, after dark, I came home, and the candles were lit, the challah under a napkin, the kosher grape juice & glasses at the ready.

We sang Shalom Aleichem. I sang Aishes Chayal. I blessed the children. We all sang the kiddush, with my dad's version of the tune. We washed our hands, said the blessing. We said the blessing over the challah. As I lifted the cloth napkin off of the challah, a paper napkin that had been on top of the cloth one for who knows what reason floated off--right into the path of the lit Shabbos candles.

"Jesus!" exclaimed the older kid. The napkin floated past the flame.

I scolded her: "You wrecked it! Now we've got to start all over again."

The children's Catholic dad was sitting out all the ceremony, at his computer. We ran to tell him what happened. His take: "Invoking the True Lord's name obviously saved our house from burning down."

Oh well. I bought another bag of challah rolls at Trader Joe's last night. Let's see what happens tonight.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

My highly-subjective review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

No Spoilers Part

It was OK.

Minimal Spoilers Part

The structure was confusing. I couldn't tell where I was in the movie. The beginning was, I suppose, the first so many minutes so I guess the rest was the middle. I couldn't tell where was the climax, and where they were nearing the end until the end happened. 
This problem could be due to the entire movie being just the beginning of a 3-part story. The ending was a very good scene.

Part with Spoilers

Was the climax when they blew up the new, super-Death Star? Blowing up a Death Star didn't seem interesting because they've already, you know, done that.
Was it grandson of Vader murdering Hans Solo on the bridge?
Were both things the climax?
Yes, the ending scene was very good. Best part of the movie. Second best was any scene with Harrison Ford.

Gamify my life?

In Getting Things Done, Dave Allen came up with the theory that you have to write down everything you need to do, because otherwise it's floating around in your head, reminders, because you're afraid you'll forget, so you can't get anything done because you can't concentrate on it. If you write everything down onto lists that you know you will check, then decide what you need to do now, then you can put your full concentration on it and get it done.

There are lots of ideas about gamifying different activities to encourage good behavior.

It could function like the Dave Allen thing, except what it is clearing up is your conscience.

Nothing succeeds like success or fails like failure. Have you noticed that once you get used to exercising, it's easier to continue? Once you start eating the candy, it's hard to stop. Some of it could be the guilt weighing you down, getting in your head. Suppose you had a point system to use, so, like, every piece of candy cost you 5 points, you subtract the points, it's written down, it's not in your head any more.

The trick is to come up with an adequate scale system. Then I can keep score in my Daytimers. (Aside: the reason I bought another Daytimers in spite of them costing a ridiculous amount of money is that I like how they show the day broken up from 8am to 8pm, with one side of the page where you write down what you're supposed to be doing during that time, and the other side of the line where you write down what you actually did.)

Draft of activities and points:

  • Washing a sinkful of dishes +5 points
  • Mopping the kitchen floor +20 points
  • Throwing out, or giving to Goodwill a shopping bag-full of stuff (my house is over-cluttered) +30 points
  • Writing a blog entry +15 points
  • Staying up past 10pm when I have to be somewhere in the morning:  -5 points, 
    • -5 points for each hour afterwards
  • Working on a chapter's worth of novel/screenplay/short story: +25 points
  • Organizing the writing so I know what to do next, or any writing +20 points / hour
  • Wasting time at work: Allow 5 minutes per hour, plus 1 15-minute break morning & mid afternoon as no-guilt, then -1 point per minute after.
  • Proper exercise session at the Y: 20-30 minutes aerobics plus all the weight machines on my card: 40 points
  • Swimming 20 laps: 37 points
  • 20 minutes aerobic activity: 20 points
  • 5 points per Let's Dance song on the Wii in the living room
  • Reading:
    • Classic, kind of hard book, that I ought to read to be educated: 25 points
    • Fun book: 10 points
    • Reading a fun sf book for an entire day without doing anything else?
      • Guilt-free if it's one day of a 2 or more days off and there wasn't something very important I was supposed to be doing?
      • Oh, all right, minus 10 points.
      • So I break even?
      • OK, minus 14 points? Leaving me -4 for the day?
      • Maybe there should just be a minus point system for not doing anything in certain categories for an entire day, like, cleaning, cooking, coaching a kid with homework, seeing daylight? Though once the book was finished, I did make spaghetti and talked to my kids. & maybe watched Dr Who with them?
      • Are there points for watching TV if it's with your kids?
      • -12 points for any day I don't go outside.
      • -5 points for no exercise in a day? 
    • Anyway, I should make a list of books that I ought to read and assign them point values.
  • Playing piano: 20 minutes = 10 points
  • Playing lute:
    • Tuning the damn thing after I haven't touched it in a while: 17 points
    • Practicing: 5 points for each 2 songs? 15 points per session? I miss playing lute. I used to do it every night. Now and then. It's why I haven't gotten any better at it in 20 years. Similar to piano...
    • When I'm doing it, it's so pretty, and relaxing.. 
  • Crochet: I can't decide. It's good because it makes me feel good. It is a healthy procrastination.
    • OK, 5 points for starting the project that someone said would actually be welcome.
  • Ice cream, chocolate cake, etc -5 points per serving
  • Other cleaning: I should open this up as a family game. Maybe the kids could redeem points earned by sweeping the hallway, other cleanup...  [or use]
A Google search reveals there are many resources already existing for this sort of thing.
Here's a LifeHacker review of several apps.
Dilemma: I don't want to pay for anything, but, as the saying goes, when you're using a free app, you're the product not the customer. The payment is a huge chunk of privacy.