Monday, November 19, 2007

Message to [My Company]'s President

I decided I should probably delete this post, because of current things going on at work... don't want to add fuel to the fire. Though should the worst happen, I'll put it back and then some.

I'll write more soon, I promise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Julian's Poetry

This is a poem Julian wrote for school. I coached him only a little; all the words are his. Pretty darn amazing, this kid of mine. The assignment was to use five of his spelling words. We used change, plants, year, still, animal.

Fall and Autumn: the Season Changes

Sunny, windy, puffy clouds
Colorful plants and trees
New books, a new school year
Spicy, crunching leaves and apple season--
I run in the fall air.

Rainy, dark, muddy; everything still.
Damp, dead, animals hiding
Moldy, cloudy moon.
Chilled to the bone.
I run from the ghost of Halloween.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Small Houses

This is a speech I have written for my next Toastmasters meeting. It's supposed to be funny... I don't know if it is or not. Humor me. (Hmm, maybe that's what they mean about a "Humorous Speech"...)

I live in a small house. Two bedrooms, two children, two cats, two adults, and one bathroom. And the boys are only getting bigger, both in terms of size and the amount of stuff that they must have. I’m itching to expand—not personally! I’m big enough already—I mean add onto the house, or move somewhere else with just a little more room. Somewhere I can store my knitting yarn, and go to the bathroom without stepping on toys and someone hopping on one foot outside the door.

It’s amazing that no one needs to go until I need to go. Then, when I go into the bathroom, I’m followed by one boy, one cat, and a shout from my husband to hurry up because he has to go, too. That’s when I tell my son to go outside and make use of the quarter acre that our house is on.

But I’m not here to tell you about peeing in the woods. I’m going to tell you a story that my father told me, when I was complaining about living in this tiny house. This is a rabbinical tale. Those of you who might have grown up with a Jewish background might recognize it.

Once upon a time, there was a man with many children, a wife, and a very small house. They were living on top of one another—the children’s books got mixed up with the mother’s weaving that got mixed up with the man’s tools that got mixed up with the dinner that got mixed up with the kids’ toys… well, you get the idea. The fighting between everyone was intense. The man was miserable.

The man went to the local rabbi, and said, “Rabbi, rabbi, I am going crazy. My house is too small, and our family is a mess. What should I do?”

The rabbi looked at him, thoughtfully, and said, “You have chickens, right? And perhaps a duck?”

The man looked puzzled and said, “Well, yes. In fact we have some newly hatched chicks, too… would you like some as payment?”

“No, no indeed. What you are to do is to invite the chickens—and the duck—into your house. Come back to me in a week.”

The man stammered, and said, “Oh…oh… okay… but it won’t be pretty…”

He went home, gathered up the fowl (foul?) and brought them into the house.

Well. Feathers floating everywhere. Droppings everywhere. The rooster took up residence on the headboard of the man’s bed, and didn’t seem to get the idea that he was only supposed to crow in the morning. The chickens roosted on the kitchen table. The chicks all but disappeared. The ducks took up residence in the kitchen and wouldn’t let the mother wash the dishes. You’ve heard about duck nibbles? This was literal. The family bickered and fought, well-peppered by squawking and quacking.

The week was through, and the man went to the rabbi again.

“Rabbi, things at home are terrible! I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week! We are all more miserable than before!”

The rabbi looked at the man over his glasses and said, “You have a goat, right? And a couple sheep?”

The man was afraid. “…yes…

“Go home and invite your sheep and goat into your house. Come back to me in a week.”

As the man walked home, it began to rain.

Have you ever smelled wet goat? And while I love wool, have you ever played with a wet sheep? They don’t mind the rain, but you really don’t want to be too close to one when it’s soaked to the skin. With trepidation, the man opened the front door and invited the goat and two sheep into the house.

Oh… the smell. The greasy goats and waterlogged sheep. The … leavings. (Have you seen the Simpsons movie yet? You know the silo that Homer filled with pig “leavings”? There’s some truth to that.) The goat butted everything in sight, climbed on the furniture, and ate the man’s best hat. The chickens took unexpected trips into the air, thanks to the goat. The sheep… well, the sheep rubbed up against everything in the house, spreading their smell and fleas. Baaaa. Baaaa. It never ended. And then the goat and the duck fought. And it was raining. The house was covered with a layer of feathers, fur, and feces.

So the week worked itself out, and the man dragged himself back to the rabbi.

“Oh, rabbi. Things can’t get any worse. Really. How can this be helping things? My wife is ready to leave me!”

The rabbi said, “You have a cow, right?”

“No. Oh no. I mean yes I do, but no, oh no I can’t, please, no…”

“Bring the cow into the house.”

The man went home. Via the local bar.

He heard and smelled his house before he saw it. He tiptoed to the back door (not that it was necessary), opened the door, and shoved the cow into the kitchen where his wife had given up on making dinner.

Now. Imagine. Chickens, duck, goat, sheep, and now a cow. In a small house with children. The lowing of the cow at least drowned out the clucking of the chickens. At least they didn’t have to go outside to milk her. But the cow and the goat didn’t get along. The chickens had taken to leaving eggs in improper places. The duck befouled every dish in the house. One of the sheep had lain upon the man’s bed and did. Not. Look. Well. Flies were everywhere, alighting on anything that stayed still for more than three seconds. And the backside of the cow had become a danger zone. Not for the obvious reasons! They flick their tails, you know? Like the snapping of a wet towel—you don’t want to get in the way or you’ll get a stinging blow to your cheek.

The family got through the week, one day at a time. Mostly by hiding in the barn, themselves.

The man went back to the rabbi, exhausted. He said nothing, he just looked at him, with fear and trembling. What would the rabbi make him do this time…

“Ah, yes. How was your week?”

The man didn’t answer, just looked at him.

“Yes. Well. Today, I want you to go home and put the livestock back in their proper places. Come back to me in a week.”

The man sighed in relief. “Thank you, rabbi! Thank you, thank you!” and he hurried home to give his wife the good news.

Together, they took the sheep, goat, and cow back to the barn and to the pastures, the chickens back to the chicken run, and the duck back to the pond. The house was still a mess, but with the family working together, they cleaned the droppings. They washed the dishes; they boiled the linens and set them to dry in the fresh, clean sunshine. Together they scoured the house from top to bottom. Together, they recovered from the last three weeks’ trials.

A week passed, and the man went back to the rabbi.

“Oh, Rabbi,” he said, “Things are wonderful in our house! We sleep soundly… in the morning all we hear are the birds, in the evenings all we hear are crickets! The house is clean, and organized, and my goodness! The space! I never realized how much space we have! I can breathe again! And everyone is working together to keep the house in order! Thank you, thank you!”

Now, I know I live in a small house. I still want more space. But I will not invite a goat into my house, no matter how much good it might eventually do.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Time Flies

Time, elapsed time. It’s 1:47 in the afternoon, what time will it be in 35 minutes. It took you three-and-a-half hours to get home; what time was it when you left. If you do one task that takes 30 minutes and one task that takes 90 minutes, how much time do you need to complete both tasks. How long does it take to get from here to there. How much time do you need to get everything done.

Time. Flies.

I am in third grade. I think I’m about as brilliant as a third-grader could be. School never takes much effort, and I’m always reading. I know I don’t like math, but I’m okay. I’m sometimes nervous that other kids can do the timed math tests faster than I can, but I’m accurate, and don’t have to work. I know how to tell time, no problem. Miss Moody likes me. She wears pink and has short black, curly hair. A curvy figure in tight fuzzy cardigans and snug skirts. Sweet, milkwhite skin. She lives across the street from us, in the condos that were built last summer. I sold her Girl Scout cookies. She got two boxes of the caramel ones with the coconut.

I love writing vocabulary words in sentences, making them as long and descriptive as possible. She likes this.

But the standardized test for third grade doesn’t have essay questions.

When the results of the spring standardized tests come back, I fully expect to see high marks, as usual. They weren’t hard, they never are.

Instead, next to the 97 and 98% scores for each skill, there was a big 64% under “elapsed time”. And a 76% for “basic computation”.

64%? How can that be? 76%? Computation? What kind of moron am I? Who am I, if not the whiz in the class?

In the report, in Miss Moody’s perfect script, were the words, “Meera needs extra work on figuring elapsed time. Her speed at figuring multiplication tables could use some work, as well. Please take some time at home working on these skills.”

I read and re-read them. Who am I, if not the one my parents were proud of? Who am I, who never needs extra help in anything? My parents have enough to worry about, do they really need this on top of everything? Do I?

The cold pit spreads through my shoulders, the sweaty palms, the rising meniscus of tears. Can’t speak. Emotion. Blink. Blink. Blink. Look at the fluorescent lights.

The bell rings, and I don’t go home. Home is a quick walk through some woods along a path lined with honeysuckle vines. Instead, I go to the playground. I head for the swings.

Most recesses, I swing. Give myself over to gravity, and defy it.

I wrap my sweaty hands around the chain, and kick off. Pump. Back. Pump. Back. Time. Back. Pump. Back. 1. 2. Time. Back. Pump. Watch the shadows of me swinging. Pump. Back. Pump. Lean waaaay back so my feet are vertical. Back. Pump high. Feel the power in my kicks, the tummy lurch as I drop, the centrifuge catch, and swing back. The shadows are longer. Pump. Back. Time.

The sun is in my eyes now, so they can run freely, but I don’t let them. Pump. Back. Time. No one is in the playground now. I’m alone. Pump. Back.

My hands smell metallic. The shadows of the trees along the playground stretch to my feet. My mother appears at the path, looking worried.

What, oh what will I say.

Time. Flies.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I have been having the following conversation with another blogger, and while most of it has been taking place in the "comments" part of my Mother's Day entry, I would like to bring it to the front. Go back and read the original entry, and then read the comments. And here is my response to his final comment.

You. Did. NOT. Just. Suggest. Nuclear. Power. Ozarkyn, are you NUTS?? Really, how can you POSSIBLY think that this is a good idea? Oh yeah, it has no impact on the environment, except for the wastes and danger that it inherently brings to everyone, from the uranium mining to the waste at the end of the cycle. Not to MENTION the accidents that DO happen. Yeah, it's really safe, except for the parts that aren't. You can't explain these problems away. My sources aren't from some left-wing nutjobs. Look at the references at the end of these articles. They're well-respected journals.

I do agree that a change in infrastructure is in order. But as I said before, more research is needed. Research to prove to people who believe otherwise that there is a problem (like you!). Lots of them. Research to give viable options. Research to learn how to even approach the problem.

Nuclear power is not the answer. At least, not to the question we're asking. (If the question is, how does Springfield get its power? Then the answer is nuclear power.)

From I,Puzzled's photo on Flickr: The Conundrum of Nuclear Waste Disposal

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Next Generation

I am officially part of the next generation. I remember the first time this kind of realization happened---I was seven years old, the youngest in my generation, and my younger sister was born. I was no longer the baby.

I was in this place for a long time---the second-oldest of the youngest generation. My older sister Shelley and I were almost like the almost-aunts of our generation. My younger brother and sister and cousins were all much younger than us. But still, we were at the bottom of the totem pole, generation-wise.

The next time it happened was when Shelley had her son, more than ten years ago. My nephew began the next family level. In some ways, it was almost as shocking, generation-wise, as becoming a mother, myself, three years later. Shelley and I are truly aunties. We are the Aunt Janets and Aunt Julies and Aunt Janes of our generation. But I have gotten used to this position. We're young mothers, we have our kids, the cousins play, and things are good.

This weekend, however, I realize that I am graduating to the next generation. My niece---Nicholas' brother's daughter---is pregnant with twins. She's young, just 20. (She was a flower girl at our wedding!) I will be a great-aunt before the summer is over.

Rhiannon's baby shower was this weekend. The gathering was an interesting cross-section of grandmothers and great- (soon to be great-great!) aunts, and young girls, Rhiannon's friends. One of her friends brought her six-month-old son. And I so wanted to identify with the younger generation. It's how I see myself, after all. I'm not in the generation of children who had children who are having children. I'm in the generation having children now! I have a four-year-old and a seven-year-old, don't I?

But now. Rhiannon introduced me to her friends as her aunt, and I tried to chat with those girls (listen to me---"those girls"?! It's not just them recognizing the generational change) about parenthood and Harry Potter versus Star Wars and good vacations for kids. And I realized that I'm the aunt. Not the cousin.

Time, she passes.

I watched Rhiannon opening the baby gifts, and held and coddled the six-month-old, and came to accept that I am all right with not having any more babies, even though I love them and can't keep my hands off them. I watched Rhiannon's belly move with her two babies, and was reminded strongly of what it felt like to have a slippery baby slide his foot over and kick my liver. She held up some of the baby onesies on her belly, and I remember doing the exact same thing, trying to imagine that baby in there. I won't do that again, and I am okay with that.

But graduating to the third generation from the bottom? Weird.

I guess that's what I get for marrying a man 15 years my senior. Still, it's quite a pill to swallow.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Things have gotten busy at work, which is why there hasn't been a post in a little while. But now it's 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, and I haven't gotten "permission" to leave work early (for good reasons, but only bureaucratic ones, not work-related ones), and I have finished the work I needed to finish before the end of the week.

So what should I write about? I am so impressed with the writing that I see in so many of my friends' blogs--namely, the ones somehow associated with TableTalk. I need to stop the "they're better than me" bandwagon. Just write. The time will come when "just writing" will become "just writing well". I'm not quite there yet.

So I'll make a list of things that need to be done, in the order in which they need to be done:

  1. Write a blog post (hey! I can check this one off!)
  2. Make a list of things to be done. (This one, too!)
  3. Water the office plants.
  4. Go to the chiropractor.
  5. No, call and get a reminder of where the office is, and then go to the chiropractor.
  6. Drive home.
  7. No, stop at the library to pick up a recorded book to keep me company when Gabriel falls asleep in the car, then drive home.
  8. Pack for the weekend, both my stuff and Gabriel's stuff.
  9. Don't forget:
    -- New WAYDRN CD: What are you singing right now, Vol. 1 & 2 (an excellent compilation)
    -- Bring the peer review I want to do over the weekend.
    -- Sheet music for joining the choir at my father's retirement service
    -- The fabric sample of the jacket that my mother is making for my sister's wedding, to give to her
    -- The standard going-away-for-the-weekend stuff
    -- CPAP machine
    -- Drinks for the car
    -- I know I'm forgetting a bunch of other things, but I'll get back to it.
  10. Drive to my in-laws' house, to pick up Gaby and say goodbye to Julian
  11. (be sad about leaving Julian)
  12. Drive drive drive drive drive to Santa Barbara. Get there at about midnight?
  13. Wait, I need to have dinner at some point. It will be a treat to have dinner with Gabriel somewhere on the road, maybe in San Luis Obispo?
  14. Then drive drive drive some more.
  15. Arrive in Santa Babs. After my dad is in bed.
  16. Quietly tuck Gaby into bed.
  17. Collapse.

I am sure I'm forgetting something...

Friday, May 11, 2007


Many of you have probably seen this little animated clip, entitled "Kiwi!". I showed the clip to Julian last night. And my sweet, sensitive little boy got very quiet near the end, as the kiwi stuck out his little winglets. Then he said out loud, "But he's going to DIE!" and then, of course, the final thump at the end. He needed some hugs and distraction to move on from this little heartstring puller.

(I have to admit that his heartfelt reaction made me cry a little bit, too. I felt bad for having shown it to him. I should have known. There is a book that always makes him cry, or at least feel sad, called "Picnic"---we have the animated version, courtesy of the Scholastic Video Collection---about a family of mice that go out for a picnic and the littlest one gets lost. She gets found again, but the scene of the littlest mouse crying and waiting to be found is too much for my little guy.)

His reaction got me to wondering, pondering, musing, even... Why was the Kiwi clip so sad for him? Is it just that he can identify readily with those in pain? Or has he experienced sacrifice while in pursuit of a dream? Is it some kind of prescience that he instinctively knows that there will be the death of some things for him to fulfill his aspirations? What does he aspire to, anyway? Where is his bliss that he is supposed to follow?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day, or 700 Gallons

I was just reminded that it is Mother's Day this weekend. I had forgotten. It's the year birthday (anniversary?) of me purchasing my "new" car, the 2006 Honda Civic. I didn't get the Hybrid version, and I'm kicking myself for it.

I mean, the reality is that I'd have to drive this car for the next 20 years to make up for the gas savings with the hybrid technology, and this technology is new, which generally means that it's more prone to problems. The hybrid was much more expensive than the regular Civic. I don't know how many and how much toxins are released into the world in the production of the hybrid's battery, and who knows whether the Civic Hybrid will ultimately be better for the environment than the regular one. And I didn't want to wait the six weeks or whatever it was to get the thing, especially without being able to test drive it; evidently they were so much in demand that the dealership literally had none to show me.


We all know that the release of carbon and other greenhouse gases is spelling doom. We are starting to see the results of this. Isn't it amazing? Thirty years ago, it was a theory, but no one actually believed it. Those who did were far, far on the fringe. The Earth is such a huge and powerful force, there's nothing that we humans could do to change it. "The solution to pollution is dilution." But that only goes so far. How much salt can you add to fresh water before it becomes unpalatable?

It's just the right thing to do, to spend the extra money on the technology to save a little bit. A tiny bit. I drive about 500 miles a week. I get in the neighborhood of 37 miles/gallon. That's, what, almost 14 gallons of gas just released into the atmosphere. Weekly. That's about 700 gallons a year. (And let's not mention that the current cost of gas in my county is about $3.40, which is about $2400 a year.) Did I do the math right?

Okay, so 700 gallons of greenhouse gases are owned by me. I am responsible for that much. (And this is just for me driving my car---let's not forget how my environmental footprint increases when taking into account the electricity I use, the exhaust from any air travel, the transportation costs of the food I eat and the clothes I wear, the propane used to heat the water I use to shower every day, the pesticides sprayed on the strawberries I eat, the toxins released from the paper I use, the mercury released from the batteries I have thrown away, the petroleum that has been in my life from plastic bags to vasoline to ... I can get carried away.)

700 gallons a year. And according to this site, the United States uses about 700 million gallons of oil a day. Half of that is for transportation. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about my piddly 700 gallons.

The rape of the earth is humanity's biggest sin. And how did I celebrate Mother's Day, a year ago? I bought a car. (Well, I needed a new car, and just happened to do it on Mother's Day, but still.) The biggest instrument of the Mother Earth's destruction. What have we done, what have we done...

And my husband pointed out to me that he bought his car on the year anniversary of 9/11. Oh, the irony.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Girls

I'm trying to make five pairs of socks before May 19th. One pair done, one pair 3/4 done, one pair 1/4 done, two pairs not started yet. What is this deadline for, you might ask? Well, I want to give them as gifts at my sister's bachelorette party. Not very girl-ish (and what is more girl-ish than a bachelorette party?) but it's something I know how to do relatively well.

The girl who is organizing the thing has asked me to put together some "party games". Holy cow. Party games for a bunch of women? Now, I will likely be the oldest woman there. I think I might be the only non-bachelorette there, too. I'll probably be the most awkward, and might be viewed as a snob because I don't usually mix well with "the girls".

You know, maybe I am a snob, because I am usually not one of the girls. Maybe I'm jealous, because perhaps they are more feminine than I am? Because I will always view them as something I could never be? Because I feel like a big hulking slob compared to them? My sister is one of the girls. I adore my sister, and really love spending time with her. But a party filled with The Girls? I worry.

I will probably end up having a marvelous time.

P.S. Any suggestions about bachelorette party games? The "theme" of the party is "lingerie". Ohhh, goody. This is from someone who sleeps in T-shirts and shorts in the summer, and flannel nightgowns/pajamas in the winter...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Table Topics, or How to Tell a Great Story

Today was Toastmasters. This is an odd group of people. The organization is quite cult-ish---many kudos for getting more hapless souls members to join, weird applause after anyone stands up and says boo, weird, artificial hierarchical organization (I mean, really, "Sargent at Arms"???), stilted and often over-prepared presentations... but I do like it. Our club has about 40 members, and I am in quite the minority, having been born and raised in the United States. I love that. People's stories are incredible.

I am learning how to speak better in public, and do away with the "uh..." with which my speech is often well-peppered. I am working on mastering my nerves. It's just talking, for goodness' sake. It's not like you have to become a completely different person just because a few more people are watching.

The nice thing about the written word is that generally one can write slower than one thinks, so one can resolve the "uh" issues before they begin. When you're speaking aloud, how many times do you start a sentence without having any idea where it's going to lead, and all of a sudden find yourself at a dead end? So we say, "Uh..."

Um. So anyway.

I was the "Table Topics Master" for today. Roughly half of the meeting is made of prepared speeches, and the other half is speaking off the cuff, or responding to the Table Topics questions. I handled that part of it today. I wonder if these questions would be good diving boards from which I can plunge into some interesting blog posts. And would any of my esteemed readers like to tackle these questions, too?

This is the text that I brought and "presented" to the club.
One of the things I love about being in a community like this is the breadth of experiences and backgrounds of its members. The ways that we share these experiences is through stories—whether they be literally true or… metaphorically true. As a friend of mine once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

So we will be telling stories in today’s Table Topics session. Don’t worry about literal truth, but spin us a good yarn. You might even want to begin your answer with “Once upon a time…”

First question:

Because we’re all from many different backgrounds, we all have different stories or myths that are told to us as we grow up. Tell us a story that might be well-known where you grew up, but might not be well-known to someone from outside of your culture.

Second question:

Think of an object in your home that is special to you. A friend comes over to your house and asks about the object. Tell us what the object is, and tell us the story behind it.

Third question:

You’re tucking your four-year-old son or daughter into bed, and he or she looks up at you with big eyes and says, “Tell me a story!” You want the kid to go to sleep as soon as possible—in 90 seconds to two minutes!—so you begin… “Once upon a time…”

Fourth question:

Suppose you had to explain to a child a complicated thing or process, such as how gravity works, what is an atom, how is electricity made, why does it rain, the theory of relativity. How would you do it? Pick a topic, and explain it. It can be true, or… metaphorically true.

Fifth question:

We all know the painting, the Mona Lisa. Tell us a story that explains why she is smiling her mysterious smile.

Sixth question:

You are pulled over for speeding. Tell the police officer—and us—the story of the reason that you were speeding. Bonus points if you can explain your way out of getting a ticket!

Seventh question:

We’ve all had the experience that we just can’t explain, such as eerie experiences, seeing or hearing something go bump in the night, strange animal behavior, and that sort of thing. Tell us what happened.

Eighth question:

We tend to accumulate most of our interesting stories while traveling. Many of the speeches given here have been about trips we have taken. Tell us a story about the most amazing thing that happened to you on your trip to another country. (This can be a real experience, or be creative!)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Well, here we are...

First post. I have procrastinated long enough. I have been intimidated by the wit and wisdom of other bloggers I adore. I have made excuses, dragged my feet, and denied myself the privilege of commenting on other blogspot blogs. So here we are.

Me: (in no particular order....) Born in 1973. Tech writer. Commuter. Mother. Wife. Knitter. Homeowner. TTer. Friend. Sisterdaughterauntniece and other familiar connections. Occasional classical radio host. Sometimes instigator of getting some things done. Believer in the inherent good of people, which has sometimes gotten me in trouble. Unitarian Universalist. Sometimes musician. Dweller of a little town in the Santa Cruz mountains. Reader. Cat owner. Wine-lover. Too heavy and dieter. Uphill battler. Always on the lookout for inspiration.

You: Well, you tell me. Why are you here?