Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Childhood Goodies

So we were planning our Harvest Blessing party.

So we were concocting a menu.

So TGF started salivating over the memory of this thing called “Popcorn Cake” that her Aunt Kay used to make on occasion.

So then there was the hunt for a recipe.

So then it was the day of the party and she was thinking about not doing it after all even though she ran out for the marshmallows required for this bizarre thing that morning because of course she hadn’t consulted the recipe when we made our list and shopped Friday night – the night before said party.

So TGF asked me, if I would make it. Nevermind that I had already made two loaves of Moroccan Pumpkin Tea loaf and Jello Brain the night before, or was making the casserole thingamabob that day, segmenting the pomegranate, had to make the dip, would be cutting up the veggies and slicing the cheese. Sure I could also make the Popcorn Cake. Why the hell not? I mean it’s not like I still needed to shower and had NO idea what I was wearing and we all know that can take some time. I mean have you seen my closet? While I suspect it will always lack half of what I think it should have it is far from empty.

There I am, “cooking” ingredients I never thought would be in my house, let alone used in combination by ME – Shedd’s Spread margarine, J*ff Peanut Butter, and mini marshmallows in a saucepan on MY stove. While stirring this concoction, I muttered something about, “How the mighty had fallen” but continued stirring resigned, at least a little, to my fate.

Later, after “unmolding it,” she poked at it, saying it did not seem firm enough. Many folks pointed to it laughing and the story of its history was told. Much discussion ensued on whether this sort of thing was in the same league of jello dishes with things like M*racle Whip and grated carrots were a Midwest thing, gentile thing or not. I vote for yes and I would be happy to keep those sorts of things in the Midwest for the most part. I love that our friends were brave and adventurous enough that more than one volunteered to try this thing.

TGF pronounced “okay but not what she remembered” and lamented it really is hard to recreate childhood memories like this one. Aside from not being as stiff a thing as she remembered she was clear that her Aunt Kay’s did NOT have a peanut butter flavor. !!! How could one not realize from the ingredient list that there was peanut butter in it and thus would taste like peanut butter? I ask you! The recipe (if you can call it that) says melt margarine, add peanut butter, blend, then add 5 CUPS worth of marshmallows and stir until smooth, pour over popcorn and added treats (in our case m&ms and peanuts) to coat. Wouldn’t you deduce it would taste a bit like peanut butter before you tasted it?

Of course being the wonderfully indulgent girlfriend that I am, I helped her deduce that her childhood Popcorn Cake must have used corn syrup and/or other things but clearly not peanut butter to bind the 11 cups of popcorn together. In fact I will hunt down a recipe that seems more appropriate and will probably even make it. Because I’m that good of a girlfriend. Or because my mightiness has really, really fallen. You decide.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Time for Goodbye

It did not go as I hoped or expected, but things like this rarely do. The cost of having someone come to the house was exorbinate. Really - $280! Of course the truth is had I the money even close to lying about as it were, I would have spent that amount. I really would have for my Elliott.

In the end it was a crazy afternoon, picking up Purple Beast (our car) from the auto shop where they could not determine what was wrong, so it's still wrong, going to the dog park, me doing a planned quick excursion to have my barely regular beauty indulgence (my brows), and then off the vet's office. All in a period of about 2 hours. Oh, I did I mention we were readying for a party as well? No? Well we were.

At the park we told Ruth what was happening, where upon she kindly and maternally suggested we delay the party a week. But I really did not want to do that, for so many reasons. From a practical standpoint it was 24 hours notice! Craziness. Granted we had yet to go food shopping for the event but still. Also, there would be a high percentage of folks attending who would know what was happening and honestly, I knew we would be supported if the need arose and that we would be implicitly even if it were not spoken of at all. The party would be a good diversion. As the party was billed as a Harvest Blessing event, the truth is the harvest time is also when we put things to rest so it seemed right, to me and TGF, to continue.

Poor Elliot had actually gained weight but it was all fluid because the rest of him was skin and bones. TGF had to find
him and he was outside for the first time in at least two weeks, as if he knew it was time for his last hurrah. He fought her hard, the most energetic he had been in over a month, getting into the carrier. When we were in the exam room and took him out, he talked up a storm, again for the first time in forever. He looked so frail, his eyes runny and a bit dull, his fur lacking it's fullness - there is no way he looked under two years of age, he looked like an old man. After a bit his voice failed and though he mouthed his stories to us, no sound was heard, his energy spent.

The first shot is a sedative and I swear he fought the sleep. I saw him saying no, wait. But he and I looked at each other and I told h
im it really was time as much as we all wanted to deny it. Elliott sighed loudly, just like his brother Atticus does, but which Elliott has never been heard to do, and sleep began to settle upon him starting from his head, drifting down his body. I stroked him the entire time, spoke aloud and then silently. TGF thanked him for choosing us. The vet came back in the room and gave him the second shot in his heart, which totally broke mine. He felt around Elliott's emaciated body for the correct spot, I tried to find my logical brain and wonder how they know the spot, how it feels - physically - to give that shot, but mostly my eyes just watered over and I felt that life was once again proving itself unfair that it would take this cat with the most gentle spirit I have ever met.

Elliot Butler
Honouring us with his presence
May 29, 2005
October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Time is approaching

Elliott, my beloved long haired tuxedo cat, is starting to really fail. He does nothing but sleep, his walking is labored, and today he had trouble jumping up to the table where the food is served. TGF said she went to lift him up and he objected to the touch, which has become more common. He is very swollen and no doubt quite uncomfortable. I have been finding little puddles of very concentrated urine, which I am sure are his.

I have posted to a local resource list asking for contact information for a v
et who would come to the house to put him down. I simply cannot imagine taking him in somewhere and bringing his body home. I just can't. Not that doing it here will be easier really, but it just feel more "right" to me. Having him die at home fits with my idea that birth happens at home, unless it really needs to be elsewhere. It is about respecting life for me. I have no idea how I managed to live this long without having this experience.

Right now I am remembering when we lost a foster kitten, one the first ones - Larissa, she and Atticus (nee Lycus) came to us together on a Saturday in late May. We called her "calendar kitty", she was sure to be an absolute stunner. Atticus was far from a beauty, though he turned into an absolutely striking adult cat. She was vivacious and lively, but then suddenly she became sick and in about 3 or 4 days we woke up to her limp, tiny, and soft body. Actually I dealt with it really well, lifting her small, almost weightless body and cuddling her against my cheek. TGF solemnly took her body and buried her in our front yard. The spot is marked and next to her is planted lemon balm and strawberries. Now we will have another special spot to mark and honor. Soon, all too soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Today marks one year since my first entry. I am truly shocked, shocked I tell you, that I have keep this thing going. This will be my 213th entry. That means that more days than not I wrote something. Not by much I grant you but still more than not. Okay, sure there were more entries that were quiz results than I care to admit but still for me this level of commitment is frankly staggering.

I have learned a lot through this experience so far.

1. I enjoy developing my voice.
2. I like pushing my boundaries of comfort and writing personal things. Sometimes.
3. Blogs are addicting, reading them that is. Writing them, almost as addicting.
4. Receiving comments are fun, moving, and a little like love.
5. Blog entries can be turned into graduate school assignments. With some editing of course.
6. Blogs are an obligation of your own making.
7. Writing for a mostly imaginary audience can inhibit for some reason, but writing something you know your mother reads....{shivers}. But I do it anyway.
8. Animal stories are not a cop out, quite, but make for fun entries.
9. A great by product is doing more photography and enjoying it. A lot.

I'm sure there are other things I have gotten out of doing this but I think you get the idea. So this means I am going to keeping writing. Hope you keep reading.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What I don't want to face

Is my age. Not because I am so old, but because my age makes itself apparent in knowledge and limitations. There are things I know about myself, that I can accept even if I still struggle with them. I know that I am not good at hierarchies, which made working at Smith College School of Social Work a challenge (well that along with the incredible racism and classism that permeated the halls and stacks of paper with a stench that turned my stomach daily). I know that I do not like routine, though I need it; finding a balance between having some routine and not feeling hemmed in is a fine art that takes decades of effort and I am only one decade into that practice.

My age, shows in my body, it doesn't recover as quickly, I cannot ignore the aches the same way I did when I took 3-5 dances a week, an occasional yoga or self defense class added in and very erratic sleeping schedules. It also shows my age in a comfort I have in this body that is larger and looser than it was in my twenties. There is a thrill in my sexuality that is deeper and more fulfilling than what I thought was evolved when 23. I suppose it was rather evolved (or at least rather extensive in experience and wilingness to explore) at that time but still nothing compares with the truth that one can inhabit with age and time to assimilate those experiences.

Last week marked thirty years of getting my menstrual cycles. Three decades. Years upon years of a remarkably unremarkable cycle. Quickly my cycle was regular and the only time I was seriously late, I was pregnant. Yes, I have been pregnant, more than once. Yes, I was using birth control every time. Looking back I realize that I was pregnant three times, but only really knew about the time times that I had it "taken care of", the other time I had a very early miscarriage. How do I know? Because as I have said the only other times I missed a cycle I was pregnant.

The other night I had a what I think was a hot flash, as best as I can determine what a hot flash actually is when I have one. I had one a few weeks ago. This after a long absence of any middle of the night heat waves. When I say long, I mean about 3 years, maybe longer. These flashes are a sore subject at Casa de Cedar, for both of us. They represent the end of a road, a road that leads to pregnancy. It could eventually be the end of ambivalence. That would be nice, but so so sad.

When I was a child I longed for a baby, I ached for that future time when I would have a child, maybe even two. A high school senior, 17 years old, I was pregnant. There was no way I could continue a pregnancy. While at my after school job at a market research company whose name I no longer remember I called into the very nice clinic where I had left my urine sample at so that could tell me I was not pregnant. Only when I called they told me the thing I feared, the one thing I did not want to face, the unfortunate evidence of my wild abandon (but not so wild that I ignored birth control). With barely a two second pause, I made my appointment.

On a weekday, during spring break of my senior year I took the subway to the elegant neighborhood, next to the infamous Copacabana Club (the original location), met up with JL, the boyfriend - the shell shocked almost father-like creature. We parted ways in the waiting room while they took me into a room where several us heard what to expect, told a brief explanation of why we chose this path. I don't remember much of that piece, just that something like that happened, I believe they referred to it as "counseling". I remember slipping away under the general (there was no WAY I was staying awake for this, I was already being more brave than I ever wanted to be); I remember thinking about the stuffed animal, a cat that Abby had given me since she couldn't be there was still in my bag, but I was no longer sure where my bag was and I felt desperate about getting the cat back. The next clear thing I remember is waking up in a narrow bed with stiff but clean sheets (like I said this was a very nice place), a lovely nurse like person hovering near me, feeling the absolute terror and horror of what I had just done, something so irrevocable, so permanent. I remember the hot instant chicken soup and throwing it up moments later. Escorted by JL, we took the subway back to my mother's apartment, where I was staying during my break from school, where it was safe to be healing from this. I stayed on the pull out couch from my childhood that was new when I was 7 but was now stiff, the arms with stuffing falling out and an Indian print bedspread covering it's age and leaks. To avoid the reality of what I had just lived through, while asleep courtesy of anesthesia, I convinced JL to attempt anal sex because escape was what I craved more than anything. I needed to know that I was still sexual despite the invasion that was not sex but abused my sex organs with my consent and my distinct fear. The attempt, both the physical and mental were far from successful that evening.

Here it is decades later and my sex life has long since recovered from the naivete and lack of appropriate, um, accessories of that evening. My journey of parenthood has been a push-pull relationship ever since. I have debated whether, when, if, many times over. I have taken quizzes, polled friends, read books, even done therapy. Seven years ago I was trying, on purpose with very expensive, previously frozen crawlers, in my own bedroom with my then partner. Three times I got pregnant while trying not to; three times trying very hard, making offerings, having rituals, I did not even go one day late in my cycle. Afterwards I sank into a five year silence on the topic. It was awful, I was stuck. Back in therapy I made progress. If you call acknowledging that either decision involves a deep and gruesome grieving progress. I came as close to a decision as I had in five long lonely painful years to not have children.

Then, bang. Enter The Girl Friend. In our early days she spoke passionately about wanting to have children and a terror landed in my belly that I would lose this person that I was growing convinced was a once in a lifetime kind of love because I had made a decision that was in direct conflict with her heart's desire. Our relationship quickly turned into a whirlwind of change for both of us since that time, two and a half years ago. In involved, among many other things, her moving 2000 miles from home and family, and me ending a 12 year relationship. We are both torn because we are selfish about our time together - it's still earlier in the scheme of things, less than three years long. There is a deep relish in having an intensely passionate relationship, something that we have more completely with each other than ever before and given the damper our animals can put on the mojo, the idea of a toddler's cry at 11pm when just on the verge of a powerful orgasm, well is less than thrilling.

On the flip side there is a joy and love we will not experience in this lifetime and that feels earth shatteringly empty. Aside from the selfishness about our time, our lack of constraints, there is our age. We are far from spring chickens, and each 3am sweat reminds how I am about to be past my prime for bearing children. Yes there is adoption, I know that quite well. That would still be having a child, which is an elemental decision that has to be made first. Not to mention whether I can resolve to have a child and never experience pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, experiences that I have longed for since before my body could physically do that.

Lately, time feels like it marching in a such a dogged way. Deadlines loom, over hang, pass over me. Anniversaries of beginnings, endings, diagnoses seem constant. This deadline, which has no real date, casts a shadow over everything in these days of clear sunny autumn days in the Bay Area. I have no answers about what happens next. There is no one closing conversation that TGF and I will, or can have. It is an ongoing internal and external dialogue. There are days when I can push it aside, like my age and neither exists in any real way, but today, like the last few days it seems a shawl covering my thoughts with a overlay of sadness and fear that it will became a wedge in my relationship that can only be removed by ending. TGF would push this off as not true, not possible but fears are not about what is real but about the what ifs that keep us awake.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I really live here!

It's true after almost exactly 18 months, it's official. Yesterday morning there was a knock at the door, TGF and I looked at each other quizzically because let's face it no one just randomly stops by in this neck of the woods. I mean, it's Saturday morning, Jennie and Graham are at his soccer game, Sue (private blog, sorry) and Sarah (sadly blogless though I don't know how she would find the time) are barely awake, Andrea and Liz are cooing over baby Val at McD or somewhere like that, and so on. Too early for a package delivery and we are not expecting anything. Well we are from this bizarre auction like thing TGF spent at least 12 hours glued to her mactop to "win". So yes, we are expecting three bags of crap. Literally. Well sort of, I certainly hope we do not receive the remnants of some creature's meal, although eight dollars for three "bags" I don't know what we will get and neither does she. I mean literally in that that is what this online event names it's "prize". It has made her happy, like Dick Dastardly thinking he had finally outsmarted Penelope Pitstop. For about another twelve hours she went around the house maniacally saying in a sing song way "I won three bags o' crap!".

Of course I had to see who was at the door because, well it could have been something fun, like Ed McMahon with a super gigantic check, which would be absolutely helpful for things like rent and food, though the chance of that would be like one in ten million since I haven't played along with that stupidity in over a decade (hey, hope springs eternal and all that). Our front door is one of those old glass doors (G141) with lots of panes that has a curtain over it (courtesy of our gracious landlady), I pull it back at bit to ascertain the knocker. Lo and behold! It is the beatific face of a Jehovah Witness with the latest copy of "Awake!" in prominent placement in his arms. Thank goodness for the magazine's presence or I never would have guessed. Yeah right. A good looking, dressed in a suit man knocks on my door on a Saturday - never would have guessed. Hey I didn't grow up down the road from a major headquarters of Watchtower without learning a thing or two!

In looking up one my favorite landmarks (one could see this building when driving over the Brooklyn Bridge (one the most beautiful bridges in the world, IMNSHO) I see it has been sold! It will be turned into loft condo thingys, of course. This strikes me a bit akin to churches being turned into clubs. I went to the Limelight in the 80's once, for a GLBT event, very trippy in effect but horrible music much of the night, though I do remember some good flirting and having a great deal of fun people watching. It only stands to reason that the Watchtower and other places have been sold to make way for "progress" or in the case of New York City, lack of overpriced places to live. The church on the corner of my old house on Strong Place, which I recently visited albeit most briefly, is being converted into condos. This Baptist Church has been around for a very long time, though wouldn't you know in this neighborhood teeming with Italian Catholics it is only now, it writing this post that I see it was a Baptist church. I had NO idea. Never occurred to me to look that hard. I assumed {gasp} it was Catholic, because well, if you had been in that neighborhood when Cammerari Bros. Bakery (as in the movie it was a real place {this link also mentions Caputo's another place I remember} that had great bread) woke you up at predawn with the arousing aroma of Italian bread baking, there was no other logical conclusion. Okay now I'm missing Brooklyn, big time.

Back to Berkeley. I smiled politely through the glass panes, shook my head, and mouthed, "No thank you". Returning to face TGF, I said, "Now I know I'm really home, this is really where I live because that was Jehovah Witness." Since I moved to Brooklyn, when I was almost nine, this is something I expect to have happen where I live. I continued to live in Brooklyn for a long time and always had that knock at the door. Even in my tiny little house (I do mean tiny, it was 720 sq. ft) in the Baystate Village section of Northampton on a street only one block long they found me. It was totally expected that they would when I moved to 40th Street in West Oakland, but here? In the Westbrae neighborhood of Berkeley. Ah. Settling into my spot on the couch that place feels that much more like home.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm sure some of you would have guessed this

I saw this over at Breena's blog. I just couldn't resist it.

Pure Nerd

69 % Nerd, 21% Geek, 17% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New York Adventure

I never wrote about our trip to NY. Well it was a whirlwind and once we got back and started to recover we had to face Elliott’s ill health. Since then there’s been a myriad of things to write about, but really it does deserve some attention.

We were fortunate in that Ruth, Piccolo’s mom, offered to drive us for our redeye flight out of SFO on Sunday night. Unfortunately much to TGF’s dismay and annoyance this was not a direct flight so there was a stopover at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Predawn at an airport is a bit surreal. The lack of sleep (neither of us dozed well on the first leg) and her “inner gay man” came out in full force dissing people’s clothing right and left. If I wasn’t so grumpy I might have found the insightful if highly biting commentary amusing. All went well with the rest of the trip including renting the car.

I had never driven to or from Newark Airport but TGF was an excellent copilot though I relaxed greatly once we were in Westchester County and was breathing easier once we were on Route 9. TGF however was getting, well, a tad panicky. She and Sunny met, briefly during our last trip east. It was badly planned as we had we had flown in the evening before (the details posted here), I wasn’t able to get caffeine into TGF before the meet up. The normally chatty, witty, and intelligent Southern Babe I know was nowhere in evidence for fully the first 30 minutes. Thus her anxiety.

We arrived to joyous welcomes and hugs. Sunny proceeded to give the house tour and Karen was her witty self and doled out an appropriate number of compliments and leading questions. Whew. Later we went out to dinner at Umami with Sunny’s neighbor Barbara with her lovely but shy daughter Emma. The duck quesadilla appetizer was lovely as was grilled portabella and mozzarella. I had the pad thai – which was quite good. TGF had the truffled macaroni and cheese, which was magnificent!

Tuesday we did a small shopping expedition in order to pick up some make-up for TGF, because well she simply could not go to Broadway without the appropriate outfit (which we took care of earlier) and looking wonderful. The three of us headed to Bloomingdales in White Plains in such of Clinique – the only make up that can touch her delicate skin. I picked out a great lip colour, Pink Toffee for her. I picked up some Stila, lipstick (Piaf) mand eyeliner (Amethyst). With the exception of our first meeting, this might the only other time I have seen her with make-up on. Sunny thought she looked hot and compared her to Jeri Ryan. How much more of a compliment could she give her!

Lindsay, Sunny’s husband, was supposed to go with us to Broadway that night but his work compelled him and left him with deadlines that suddenly needed his attention. Luckily I suggested that we call Deborah to join us and she was able to make it. TGF and Deborah really hit it off at camp so this was a great bonus. TGF and I were starving so we all went for a really quick bite at Juniors which had just opened about 3 doors up from the theatre. Finally it was time to go to the performance of A Chorus Line. There was something incredibly thrilling about sitting so close watching my cousin, Jeff Schecter, on stage. It turned out that he has the first solo performance where he sings “I Can Do That”. There were a lot of great performers in this company: Yuka Takara is adorable, even more so in her own make up and clothing (yes we waited by the stage door after the show); Jason Tam gave a very moving performance (though in truth I found the writing itself a bit disjointed and lacking); Michael Paternostro, who is Jeff’s best friend was wonderful. Natalie Cortez has a great voice, emotions just pour forth. A significant amount of the show revolves around the character, Cassie, but I was far from impressed by Charlotte D’Ambroise’s performance. But Jessica Lee Goldyn gave an awesome performance of “Dance 10" (aka Tits and Ass). Oh and Deidre Goodwin - just Fabulous! Love her!

As I mentioned we waited by the stage door and gave kudos to a number of the actors while we waited for Jeff. Finally he came out. It was marvelous to see him, I think the last time I saw him was at our grandmother’s funeral over five years ago. Later TGF noted that his face absolutely lit up when he saw I was there – which is kind of how it felt. We don’t have a lot of shared history but a great amount of mutual affection. The director came out and complimented him on his number. It turns his number had been limited in dance moves because he severely twisted his ankle before they opened in San Francisco a month earlier. He had just been given the new choreography that afternoon – we would have never guessed! We all retreated back to Juniors so we could catch up a bit. By the way if any of my dear readers are interested in backing an independent comedy written by my cuz, contact me! I haven’t read it, cannot vouch for but he’s family, so I have to ask. After he left we wandered a few blocks out of our way (which my feet objected to though they looked fabulous in Aerosole shoes TGF bought me a year ago and hadn’t a chance to wear. I mean these shoes are killer!) to see the huge billboard (his is the third butt from the right) which has my cousin’s ass about three tall, at least.

The next day (Wednesday) we packed up and drove into the city proper, as in the five boroughs. I realize non-New Yorkers think “the city” only equals Manhattan but in fact “the city” is made up of all five boroughs. We drove through parts of the Bronx, Queens and finally our destination – Brooklyn. Even with a delayed start and some traffic snags we were only about 10 minutes late for meeting Jerry, my father, and Maddy, his girlfriend. We had a lovely lunch at an Italian place on Smith Street, which has in recent years become restaurant row – very different from when I lived there, many moons ago. Though TGF used codes so to give us an out (something we had discussed before) I decided that we should spend a bit longer with Jerry, especially since he really wanted to show me an apartment he is hoping to move into.

First we did stop briefly at the brownstone on Strong Place that is the closet thing I have to a family homestead. We didn't get to go inside but at least TGF now has a visual when I refer to the house.

The building Jerry is interested in relocating to is in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, right on the water.

It is right by this Waterfront Museum.

Let me tell you the place he planning to move to is a fabulous remodel of a nineteenth century brick factory building (his building is mentioned here, it's connected to the Fairway Market). TGF demanded that I take all sort of photos outside to capture the views and inside.

This is one of the views from the roof. Even I would consider such a place, and there is just about nothing that would convince me to move back to NYC, as much as I love it.

Once we had done the rounds and ohh’ed and ahh’ed over the place we took off to Greg and Janet’s. Once we arrived in their place we both took our first really deep breath since we arrived and were probably more relaxed than we had been since before we left the west coast. After lolling about for a bit, we headed to Bogota – a great restaurant about two blocks from their place. Really good food, excellent margaritas, fabulous company. So nice. Essentially we came back to the apartment and one by one we drifted off to sleep. After a light breakfast of New York bagels and some good coffee we took off back to Newark.

It seems that we have made peace with the transportation gods since everything went smoothly. We are grateful for that. It was a successful visit regarding TGF meeting the family. Lindsay officially welcomed her. Jerry was assured of his adoration of her. Maddy seemed to approve as well. And Sunny, well I am sure she was charmed though TGF is feeling shaky. Do they adore each other madly? No. But I do think that Sunny is feeling good about things and that’s a very good thing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Not so finished

Well I finally decided to look at Niya's cat bed without the support of tupperware and towels to form it. Sigh. The sides flop sadly, so I suspect another go in the washer is in order. I'm thinking at least a 6 minute cycle this time, since I think I did 6 and then 2 last time. It is still quite large so I am not too concerned about that part. I am sad that it did not stiffen as I had hoped. Here's to hot water and friction.

On a happier note, I did switch needles on the surprise project and it is flying! I actually now have something that would be to big for B*rbie. The downside is it is so frigging boring. All knit stitch and I just am doing it until it's the right size, which even with better needles is going to be awhile. Soon I will pick up T'Mane's outfit again, especially since I finally ordered more yarn so I can make the pants. Jeez, it's good things she's a peanut, it should still fit. My new deadline is Thanksgiving.

The lure of the shawl sirens has hit me which leaves me pondering if the Dale of Norway Svale in Mist (9 skeins) that I have would work for either Swallowtail or Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style. Conveniently I own the copy of Interweave that has Swallowtail, and my best bud Jennie, owns the book Wrap Style. Easy enough to see if the yardage is there in my stash. This all leaves 3 skeins in lavender to use somewhere as well. Any thoughts?

Finding a rhythm

Apparently the dark hours before dawn are very productive for me. On Friday I woke up at 5:00a.m. thanks to the kittens and could not go back to sleep. That is when I finished the edit of the research paper, wrote in my online classes a bit, emailed a different professor (who has not written back yet!) and so forth. Friday night is when I finished the cat bed and the mittens. Saturday I did not wake unusually early but evidently propelled by the productivity of the day before had me posting away on my online classes. Then nothing. No seriously.

Fast forward to this morning. Again the kittens decided playing on sleeping mama heads was a good idea. Again I could not fall back to sleep because I started obsessing on school work - a common thread over here at The Cedar Street Zoo. So at just after 4:00a.m. I quietly found warm clothes, grabbed my glasses, headed to the laundry room to throw a load in, and settled on the couch with Lotus (my laptop) and my Crisis Intervention book. Read chapter eight, reviewed the assignment based on the chart in chapter six on Erikson's stages of development.

"Using Kanel's chart from page 93, map your own life using Erikson's stages but put in a "Possible Problematic Social Role Change" from your own personal life history. From your current vantage point suggest the Intervention(s) you would recommend now. Use only one "Possible" for each stage. "

There is something especially surreal about doing this type of assignment before daybreak. I realize that one in a graduate program in psychology gets to examine their life and all the minutiae of crazy that has happened but trying to choose the one problematic crisis? How is it possible to determine which messed up episode captures the representation of development for each life stage? Saana and Atticus served as silent supporters of my careful consideration of what details about myself I was willing to reveal and still truly fulfill the assignment. It was very interesting writing the interventions as I have wondered about this sort of thing, without the language and background, in earlier musings. Also as this part of the course is focused on crisis and not particularly doing therapy, it was really challenging because deep therapeutic work was what was needed frequently in the episodes I choose.

Sometimes doing this work reminds me of when I did the certificate program in Maternal and Child Health at Boston University's School of Public Health. You read about all about the multitude of things that can go wrong and scare yourself. During that one year program I did about, hm, 6 births? It was hard as hell not to worry, to pick over symptoms, to pray furiously to deities you're not even sure you believe in. When I read about the dysfunctions of families, there are times I feel like my life is being used without permission in vignettes. Looking at couple dynamics I feel like I am scoring my relationship against the examples in the texts and trying to justify where we are not perfect. No couple is perfect, and no one really knows what happens when no one is there to listen in. In theory we all know this, but still we posit the dynamics we only have hints at. There are times I feel like I am a living, breathing example of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Who am I to provide therapy? I realize I have some skills, and will gain more before, before what exactly? In truth I have been already providing therapy but somehow it doesn't feel real right now. When my next client is assigned, will it start feeling real again? Probably and it will leave me with a fear that leaves me hollow on the days when I feel it is hopeless and I am ineffective. Those days will be countered by the moments of deep connection with a client. It's then that regular math doesn't work. Minutes will quell days of dread. It's magic formula.

Remind me of that will you?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finished, almost finished, trying to finish, and hopefully finished

After great delay and putting aside I have finished Adrienne's gift of a hat and mittens. These mitts are my first try at the critters, which took a number of attempts to truly finish. First there was trying this pattern, which while quick, just looked formless and too short. So searched and decided on this pattern. There was simply no comparison - more elegant shaping, better length and fit, tighter stitch thus the first mitt got frogged unmercifully. Inspired by the speed with which even the second mitt was done I started gleefully on the second but when done it was seriously smaller. Sigh.

Frogging and more yarn usage occurred. Wonderful you say, well I would have too except now the second mitt's thumb was too small. Finally last night I snipped and frogged, but done! The hat was my own creation, I added a barely noticeable eyelet pattern to keep from getting bored while knitting. Also started that twice as I did not account for the yarn girth, frogged, reduced my cast on by 20 stitches less and now I love it. Given that it is a fantastic colour I am sure Adrienne will enjoy it.
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, colour grape.
Hat: circular size 9
Mittens: size 6, Crystal Place, size 7 Susan Bates Quick Silver (borrowed from Jennie)

Niya's cat bed has finally been casted off, thrown in the washer for felting - one 6 minute cycle,one 2 minute cycle, hot wash, cold rinse. I love love this yarn for bulky projects and of course it's been discontinued. The pattern is simple but I wasn't sure about adding the eyelash.

I searched my stash and found this great colour, no label so I have no idea of it's origins. I finished it last night which included trying very haphazardly to circle a tupperware thingy with towels to reach something like the circumference I want. It is currently drying and I am hoping getting a little stiff.

Given it's my first felting attempt I won't worry too much about how sturd
y the sides will be long term. Yarn: Debbie Bliss - Soho (disc) colour 37505 I think.
Some unknown but fantastic eyelash yarn.
Needles: Size 9 dpn, Clover I think? and Size 11 Clover circulars.

Next up is the secret project which is taking a long time for a few reasons. I don't love the Daisy circulars (size 13) for the ladder/railroad yarn at all! The points are way too dull for the material. Then all the yarn started coming off the cardboard it's packaged on. Don't let this happen to you.

This is how it looks after spending 4+ hours detangling! I am thinking of changing over to my Clover circulars (size 15). Since there isn't much done yet and gauge is not critical I think it might be okay. If it makes the project go faster then it's worth the shift in scale.

As to the hopefully finished, I sent off my revised research proposal paper to my professor this morning. Now mind you this is not research I will actually conduct, it was merely practice for writing such a thing. Since I do not plan on doing research it is a tad annoying but on the other hand it give me greater insight on how much work it takes to justify research that does happen. It also gives me pause for the future of this nation given how much is researched that is obvious. Like this tidbit:

Given the high incidence of childhood sleep problem and diagnosed postnatal depression, it is likely significant numbers of mothers being diagnosed as having postnatal depression are suffering the effects of chronic sleep deprivation.

Armstrong, K.L., Van Haeringern, A.R. (1998) Sleep deprivation or postnatal depression in later infancy: Separating the chicken from the egg. Journal of Paediatric Child Health, Volume 34 (3) pp??.

Brilliant! Brilliant I tell you, I would have never put postpartum depression and sleep deprivation together. Of course my proposal was so much more brilliant even than that. It had something to do with investigating if feelings of disempowerment during the birthing process lead to a crumbled self confidence which in turn would impact the marital dyad. Of course my greater intent would be to process data that would help support (eventually, after about 12 more studies) Stanton's* premise, which I concur with, that what we label postpartum depression is actually a realistic response to the pressures women feel when they become mothers in our society which makes it nearly impossible to be held in high esteem when one is a mother without turning around and smacking you down because that's all you do or smacking you for daring to have a life and possibly a career in addition to being a mother. This all results in a struggle for identity that leaves most women exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling like a failure.

Oh dear it appears I have found myself on a soapbox, how did I get here? Pardon me, as I step down.

I am off to accomplish more things. Ta ta!


Stanton, A., Lobel, M., Sears, S., & DeLuca R. (2002) Psychosocial aspects of selected issues in women'’s reproductive health: Current status and future directions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Volume 70(3), 751–770

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Girl Friend agrees.

Emphatically so.

What Your Underwear Says About You

When you're bad, you're very bad. And when you're good, you're still trouble!

You're sexy, in that pinup girl, tease sort of way.

If I am remembering correctly this

This matches my Myers-Briggs score from eons ago. Even if it didn't, the "score" makes sense to me.

Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Feeling

You are:

Tolerant, flexible, and open to new ideas.
A stickler for integrity and authenticity.
Passionate about causes, beliefs, or politics.
Likely to have many "best friends" from many walks of life

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Distractions Needed

Thanks be to Juno for this post which has me thinking about knitting rather than the ill cat lying next to me. Now I want to get my hands on the Spring 2004 Interweave because I found still more patterns to pine over.

I am not sure I have "True Yarn" yet, though I am loving the (of course) discontinued Debbie Bliss Soho (colour 9). I am just about finished Niya's cat bed using it, and should have just a few yards less than 5 balls left. If I like how the felting works I'm thinking about making a laptop cover for my Lotus Baby. Yes, I named the new laptop Lotus, stop groaning!

While Juno pined for the Salt Peanuts, I am interested at least in Polka Purl Dots, though I really need to see a better photo. Oh found one! Nice. Swell Sweater seems like something to hang out in but could be dresser when the occasion called for it. Caramel Cap-Sleeve Top, maybe, again need to see more.
Oh, maybe NOT on the Caramel! Ditto Side to Side Ribbon Pullover. Of course, that would require a lot of ribbon yarn, which well, isn't a "True Love" type of yarn for me. Hm, found a photo, perhaps not. Well thanks to surfing for the above photos I found this, which is tempting.

Distraction good.

Oh! My lovely friend Ruth, Piccolo's mom, gave me a birthday gift the other day.
Before giving it to me she said, "This is only for you. You'll understand when you open it." FOUR lovely hanks of Misti Alpaca Chunky in Marina Melange. This stuff is so soft. I am thinking I might be able to make a "set" of a scarf, hat and fingerless gloves. Maybe there would be enough yarn. Maybe this Reversible Cable scarf. Or something simple like this. I'm wondering if these would work. I long to be at Savannah Chick's level, so making something of hers would be moving in that direction. Or, since I'm making her cat bed design, maybe these. I love these but not for this yarn. Oh! But that pattern would be lovely, I think, for the Lorna's Lion & Lamb hank that Jennie (it's a different Jennie link than the last post because that girl is so busy she has TWO blogs!) gifted me with some time ago. But would I wear them enough, I mean this yarn is GORGEOUS!

Again I say, Distraction Good.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's not a good sign

When the vet tech looks briefly at your cat's test results, then ushers you to an exam room. I was expecting this, I really was but how prepared can one really be when a cat that holds your heart in his tiny paw is fatally ill.

My beloved Elliott has the effusive form of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). From the moment he came to our home as a foster, May 29th 2005 this little ragamuffin stole my heart. Elliott was a little sick as young one, briefly very ill and we needed to give him subcutaneous injections of fluids, he often ran hot appearing to have a fever. As an adolescent cat he was gangly, reminiscent of a young Henry Fonda.

He grew into a long and elegant cat, I adored every
phase. Elliott is the loner of the group, only bonding with Orion who was in his foursome (TGF brought home Elliott {nee Achilles}, Orion, Caliopee, and Atticus {nee Lycus} while I was attending a birth.).

Though it was my heart that was smitten he would have nothing to do with me. He regularly begs to sit on TGF's chest while she sits on the couch surfing the web, or stands on her chest when she is in bed. Of course I suppose it's only fair as Atticus stole her heart and soul but he pines for me when I go out of town.

(I just lost everything I wrote after this, so I will try to recreate it. Once was friggin hard enough!)

Tonight after telling TGF (which sucked, a LOT) I gathered up the skinny, pot-bellied cat my boy has become and we sat together while I surfed, thought, and whispered sweet things in his ear. He sat with me for an hour which is a clear sign that he is not well.

Over dinner, I glimpsed at Elliott and his belly looked smaller. I swear it did, so I thought, "Maybe he will be that one in a million that spontaneously goes into remission and will live for years more." Wishful thinking. Wishing very hard.

Now we are left with deciding how much is enough. It is a fine line between not allowing him to suffer and how much are we sparing ourselves. I have never had to do this with a member of my family. I know I'’ve been lucky. All my cats have done off to die. My family dog was put down after I left home and without my prior knowledge. I think I would before to have a vet come to our home to put my boy love down. Afterwards, I'm not sure. Jennie was a sweetheart and sent me the link to the place she used. They sprinkled the ashes at a pet garden. I don't know if the site wasn'’t clear or I just could not feel it, but I could not see using them. Maybe it's too soon to think clearly about this. I never understood keeping a box of ashes, but I am beginning to see the draw. The desire to hold on can be so intense.

Toy Story - The Adult Version

Keep them coming folks!

Official Announcement: Dharma will be accepting toy stories until January 1st 2007 for use in an article which will be published, er, hopefully somewhere but certainly if nowhere else here!

I've got a couple, Melissa B and Wen have sent me the bones of two more. Com'on folks! I see great things here.

Melissa - well our toy get "chewed" and generally used by the dog and cats!
Wen - I am hoping you eventually got a new version to give to T. I love the idea that the SW employee wouldn't know what to do with it, however I used to correspond with a SW employee that I'm pretty sure would think it was her lucky day to find it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

200 and nothing to say

This will be my 200th post! I cannot believe it, not just because of the sheer number but because I really and truly have nothing funny, poignant, or some other great adjective to say. Sure I could, and ought to, report on our trip to NY, and I have been stewing some ideas for posts in my brain but none seem done, or more precisely I am too cranky to work on them.

Random bits from my universe:

- Marcel still isn't have the best bowel movements so a sample was ceremoniously scrapped from the living room floor behind the television where he insists of doing his bidness. He has been nicknamed Mr. Prissy Pants as I think part of using my living room floor as his litter box is because he is VERY fussy about the state of his litter box and won't use it if it does not meet his standards.

- Elliott is at the vet's office for blood tests and such, after being taken in for an 8:30am appointment. Now you have to know that 8:30am is the devil's time for TGF as she hates being up and functioning early so I am totally stumped as to why she agreed to that time yesterday when she called. The vet was not encouraging in his assessment of Elliott's health, basically everything that could be causing his belly to swell is pretty serious and potentially we may have some hard choices to make. I am holding out hope that rumors of ill health have been greatly exaggerated.

- Wyatt is being a royal pain. I do think that he is acting out in part because we were away again so soon, though he had an housesitter/pet amuser extraordinaire, Brooklynne, who spoiled him with two walks a day. In addition he needs a dose of flea medication so in the meantime he is snuffylying something horrid with such fervor that he wakes us up during the night. The coup de grace was waking up this morning to find he had spent part of those wee hours destroying a new, er, toy* TGF had bought for me (really if you think about it, for us ;-)) for my birthday yesterday. Yes, we did get to use it last night but now it has become a one trick pony as it is irrevocably destroyed. The kittens keep finding bits of carcass that was a tool of joy and playing with it. Glad
someone can still get enjoyment out of it.

- My professor finally sent my paper back with revisions. I like how he says, "You have some work to do, but not a lot". Sure not a lot. Just have to dump two citations and find new ones that say the same thing but strictly in the field of psychology. Sheesh, psychology? I mean for cripes sakes just because I am pursuing a degree in psychology the references have to be from the field? Whoever heard of such a thing? I ask you. No really, I'm asking.

- Yesterday we had a lovely breakfast at La Note, which serves my all time favorite breakfast (Cote Nord), which in my opinion is a great way to start one's birthday. I haven't been in forever, and TGF had never been there. It did not disappoint. From there we wondered into Pendragon Books next door, but surprisingly not much inspired us, though I did pick up the October issue of Cook's Illustrated my all time favorite cooking magazine and it should be yours. I thought it would be fun to check out Crossroads Trading across the street. The selection there is quite fun and most things are quite reasonably priced. Well I thought so until I went to check out and was surprised to hear the total. However I thought a moment and realized that it averaged just under $10 for each item (which doesn't match the time where things average out to $4 a piece, but still decent), including a very fun pair of heels, some, er, play clothing much of which, because I am nothing if not frugal, I can wear as part of my regular wardrobe, which I hope to make TGF crazy with since it will have other connotations. Evil? According to recent testing I am not all that evil, right?

I suspect it really is time for me to start to work, like on the above mentioned paper from hell. Still need to find a cassette player (Jennie, it needs to play regular sized cassette, not mini. But thanks!), and someone to interview for the other class. Once all this stuff is done and evaluated I will have finished two classes that have been hanging over my head for almost 2 years and I can move on to the next 3 classes I hope to finish up while taking, um, 3 classes this semester, hopefully 4 if I can enroll in one class as a mentored class rather than online. Oh yeah, and I really need to go to the TBS office this week, do my paperwork to account for my practicum hours. Not that TBS has finished getting the paperwork over to my school so Saybrook can approve the site or anything. Nope nothing like that! I am trying to gear up to taking another client as I need to get cracking on hours for this semester. The raging butterflies hit my belly every time I think about taking a new client but it must be done. Wish me luck!

* You didn't really think I'd link you to the actual toy, did you? Where would the fun be in that. This way your imagination can go wild, as we did last night.