Saturday, August 30, 2008


Alternate post title:

How I spent my labor day vacation

Exhibit A

Which is what greeted me on Friday evening as Child 2 and I were heading out to buy birthday presents for a party this weekend.

Which I responded to with dignity and calm and NO WHINING. Nope, was not angry at all at having to buy a set of new tires and spend Saturday morning waiting around while they're installed. No, I thought, no there is a silver lining to this GREAT HUGE NASTY BLACK CLOUD.

I can get a blog post out of it. With the kind assistance of the Male Child who insisted on changing the tire all on its own I present the fully illustrated guide to roadside maintenance: Changing A Tire.

Locate the spare. If you're very, very lucky this will be the second flat you have in as many weeks so your memory will be quite sharp and this step will be extremely easy.

Locate and remove the jack and using logistic genius place it carefully beneath the frame of the car.

Before elevating the car with the jack, remove the hub-cap and loosen the lug nuts. Before attempting this ensure you are well equipped with a wide selection of choice words.

The frog squat is essential.

So are the paint stained shorts.

Jack up the car until enough weight is off the wheel and it can be removed.

Examine flat tire for possible problems. Make rude comments about the unfairness of life.

Return flat to trunk of car so the new one can be installed after a mere two hours wandering around Costco. Realize that a pair of strong hands can lift an awful lot of things.

If they don't mind getting diry.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Somewhere way... way WAY back in this blog I mentioned that music was important to us - to Kirk and me. We did have a constant sound track and there is in my mind a long and fabulously tasteful series of pieces (hey! cope with my pretentiousness 'cause it's my blog and I'll re-write history the way I want to remember it, thanks) that recall the major moments in our lives. There's the Pachelbel Canon in D era and the Rachmaninoff Vespers year for example.

However if I'm strictly honest it isn't all Sibelius and Elgar 'round these parts. My Pandora* stations at work are (and I view this as MASSIVE disclosure here, full geekness on display for all to wonder at) classical (influenced at the moment by Rachmaninoff and a horribly mis-understood request that gave me 1/8th of the time Sebastian Bach the rock band rather than Johann Seb B. thanks so much although I think that is now sorted), rock based on Tool and Perfect Circle which is unbelievably fabulous for eliminating ear worms (but not terribly work friendly so limited to that magical time between when I arrive and when I'm actually supposed to be there) and (oh dear), honestly? sort of softish poppish kind of rockish sort of stuff that I can play without offending half the hallway when I just don't want to hear one more piano concerto.

So, we're a little eclectic in this household. We do tend to draw the line quite firmly on the country-western vs. rock threshold and refuse passage to any questionable invaders. (I believe Kirk quoted someone by saying that he liked country music, it just depended on WHICH country) I will confess a shameful weakness for Matchbox 20 - but plead clemency because it was the mind-numbing noise I put on for weeks and weeks when Kirk first went missing and I couldn't stand the sound of the phone not ringing. I suppose the point is that generally, with a few firm exceptions, as a family we're pretty ready to embrace a wide variety of things musically.

So I felt fairly confident when, having acquired an itunes card at a recent work gee-aren't-we-all-fabulously-happy-to-be-employed-in-this-economy event, I suggested that the Children all choose a set number of highly desirably songs. We, generally speaking, agree on the finer points of musical taste after all. Which is why I was a leetle surprised by Child 3's straight out of the box, first choice of all.

No, Child 3, we will NOT be purchasing The Ride of the Valkyries. I do have my standards.

Wagner indeed.

*for anyone not aware of Pandora, I can't recommend it enough. Very clever interface, really responsive and the only negative I can state is that when you try for classical you sometimes get Ratt or something because it's "vocal" which, frankly, is a little weird. Still, give it a go!

Monday, August 25, 2008


(Just realized that the past two titles have sounded like motivational posters. Only the ones I like are from and as I believe in sharing I present to you: Achievement. However they don't have "success" so instead try Bitterness, Dysfunction and Government.)

In addition to the new computer I was presented with this summer (see angst, blogging of and annoyance, excessive description of for more details) I also managed to snag a new wheely chair. When I started work here I was given an office that contained 1 wooden chair weighing about 40 pounds, equipped with large arms at just the right height and width to make using a computer utterly and completely impossible (without whacking your elbow every time you reached for the "b") and sporting a grand total of no wheels. Which meant that whenever I tried to get up from my desk I would slam violently into the back of the chair, lifting the front legs up about an inch but not budging it backward in the least. The person who held my job before me had spent a happy six months "telecommuting" which meant that every page on the web site had a "last updated" date of slightly more than six months earlier. It's possible that the choice of chair was deliberate on the part of my new boss who seemed eager to keep me at my desk doing actual work.

Eventually I talked my way into a chair with exotic accessories like padding, a swivel seat and wheels. It was a fine chair, a useful chair, a chair which (and this is the important bit) let me actually get up at the end of the day and leave.

It's impossible to overestimate the importance of this. When I was a child my goal in life was to grow up and have a wheely chair. Well, there was also the short-lived goal to be a janitor so I could have a very important looking massive ring of keys on an extending chain. I had, naturally, had many wheely chairs in my career but the symbolism of the wheely chair remains and I still get a ridiculous but undeniable thrill from the fact that I WORK IN A WHEELY CHAIR.

Now it wasn't that I needed another chair really, but there was a new one going spare (meaning it had been right in plain sight in the corner of a friend's office at the end of a hall and yet no one had claimed it for some reason) and I have learned here not to look a gift chair in the mouth (give me a moment while I try to work out the logistics of that...) so I kindly donated my own slightly used chair to the greater good (meaning there is now at least one chair in the computer lab that will not shed casters like a political activist sheds pamphlets) and adopted the new one.

It is a fine chair with many excellent features like arm rests that actually let you rest your arms (and don't slam into the desk drawer). However I am having to learn a certain amount of caution because the first time I pushed back from my desk I sailed gracefully across the office floor and nearly bumped up against the book case on the opposite wall.

These childhood dreams are always more complicated than they seem.

Of course, you should totally check out my key ring...

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Nothing like confirmation that now and then you've done something right as a parent.

This week's moments:

Watching Hogsfather, Child 1 and 3: That prop is incredible! The pace of the movie is kinda slow, but the set design is really good. (mumblings of agreement)

A bit later, Me: So, what did you think of Golden Compass?

Child 1: Well... it was okay. But! The art design was fantastic!

Next day, Child 3 looking over the newly purchased copy of Princess Bride: Hey! Check out this cool font! This cover design is great - look at what they did!

Of course Child 2 was muttering something about nerds and possibly geeks sub voca all week long, but we will corrupt it to our evil ways, oh yes we will...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ear Worm

I was raised with some slightly unusual practices, a few of which I might have touched on here and there, like the bread or the ziploc bags . There was the books vs. television issue that left deep and lasting scars what with being the only person, the only one, who didn't see that 1980's television movie about how we were all going to die in a nuclear war and the teenagers were going to save the day. But perhaps the most lasting peculiarity was the inundation with obscure but frighteningly memorable pieces of culture.

Start with the folk songs. Oh, the folk songs. I can swing mindlessly from poor, POOR Clementine and her herring-box sandals right into the Gypsy Rover who (natch) ends up being a lord who just happens to hang out in forests whistling and then move on without a pause to announce that Today I will not only eat your strawberries (apparently without invitation) but also swig your sweet wine.

It gets worse though because I also have a bottomless store of truly horrible children's songs so the Peanut on the Railroad Track will probably evolve into one that is Found and causes Appendicitis. Lurking in the darker corners of my mind are also all the Smothers Brothers albums my parents owned and the full set of Tom Lehrer so I could take a sudden mental right turn and discover My Love has black as the color of her True Hair though her Tresses Are Red as a Rose (but only her hairdresser knows) and the next thing I know there's a slightly nasal voice warning me not to Drink the Water or Breath the Air. It's all most disturbing.

Any of these might work their way into my brain when its at its most vulnerable - in those early moments of the morning before I'm awake enough to really focus and drive them out. Unfortunately it often means I'm stuck with this nightmare sound track for hours at a time unless I can find something even more powerful to replace it.

It doesn't always happen like that of course, because there's the flip side to my bottomless store of useless memorized items. The poetry.

Not the stuff that might impress anyone. I do know some of that, of course, not that anyone has actually asked me to reel off Tiger-tiger-burning-bright-in-the-forest-of-the-night... at top speed or quizzed me on the songs and sonnets of John Donne. No, the majority of my mind appears to be taken up with endless couplets from A Child's Garden of Verse (a horribly patronizing title I always thought) or All the Silver Pennies.

So just this morning as I rode down to work I managed to recite the entirety of Ogden Nash's Custard the Dragon AND his Owl and the Pussycat all before I was halfway there, leaving plenty of time to get curious about how many other pieces of rhyming fluff were kicking around in the bottom drawers of my subconscious.

New Shoes, New Shoes (Red and Pink and Blue Shoes) wasn't really a surprise as it comes up every single time I buy footwear for the long suffering children, but I hadn't thought of Wynken, Blynken and Nod since I was old enough to find it offensive (about seven) so why can I still remember every word? How much really important information, like, say all those formulas the Children require for their math homework, has been tossed out as worthless while the complete Mr. Nobody is still there for the finding and I can tell you all about the Little Shadow That Goes In and Out with Me? Honestly, I think the poetry is starting to take over.

So I'm afraid that while I wanted to write a blog post, I really did, instead I've spent the day trying to remember the last verse to The Land of Counterpane.

Blame it on the ear worms.

Monday, August 18, 2008


So who's tired of hearing about the twins? I know! You just never, ever get tired of it, do you? However for the very, very small minority who really couldn't give a rat's I do promise that this will be the last scoootah post... at least for a while.

Several friends are now considering buying one (possibly because I keep going, you must! Is so cool! And fun! And did I mention Audrey Hepburn?) and for those who are I present:


1. Cute guys will tend to check you out a lot when you walk across campus carrying a full-face helmet. You will possibly feel a bit guilty about this and want to explain, no I'm not cool actually, it's just a scooter. But you won't.

2. This same helmet when worn while going 35 mph provides 1/2 an effective but remarkably unattractive blow-dry.

3. It is wise to purchase a number of excellent sports bras. This advice is valid regardless of measurements of female scooter rider. It has not, however been tested on males mostly because we don't have one in the family who has moobs.

4. Pencil skirts and high heels do not work well with scooters. It is best to discover this within a block or two of one's residence. It is not wise to assume one can just go ahead to the nearby gas station because it's awfully close and it's very early in the morning anyway - you just might make the day of several truck drivers.

5. The small, under-seat trunk of a scooter is just large enough for one small purse, one pencil skirt and one pair of high heeled shoes.

6. You might discover you have no shame when it comes to wearing a nice blouse and a pair of track pants to get to work. Consider it the lesser of two evils.

7. Filling up the tank (at about 1/3 remaining) will cost a grand total of $2.95.

8. This will make you smug and unbearable for the rest of the day.

Friday, August 15, 2008


At the risk of exposing my great age... let's call that extensive experience... I have a question. Does anyone else remember the Olympics in the cold war? Dang folks, that's what I call sport! It was nothing to do with individual skill or... what do they call it... sportsmanship - it was all My Political Paradigm Wipes the Wrestling Mat With Your Political Paradigm (eat that Lenin!).

I have early memories of terrifying East German swim team women who could not only bend my wispy young body into a pretzel but weave a tasteful and decorative basket from their excess facial hair. My neighbor's kid kept a frighteningly detailed chart of one winter Olympics not because it showed how a particular sport was evolving but because Our Bi-athletes Can Out Shoot/Ski Your Commie Bi-athletes goddammit! (only probably those terrifying Danes would show up and make mince meat out of both of them...) [also I'm not sure how Eddie the Eagle fitted into those charts. If that was the right Olympics] No matter what the spin imposed by the cheery commenters each night, we all knew the truth. If we didn't come out tops in the medal charts then some way, some how, democracy (okay, let's be honest, capitalism) was inferior to those baby eating, apple pie shunning communist bastards from the USSR (heck, they even insisted on wearing CCCP on their track suits just out of spite). I knew boys who wanted to sleep with Mary Lou Retton simply because she had showed those Romanian nationalization-of-property-is-viable bastards just what was what. (okay. That and she was really cute and had a great smile)

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Olympics lately. I assume it went on while my family was in Alaska (yes, I am aware the world goes on turning even though my children are engaged in epic battles with salmon). I think there might have been one... or two... since then, but sadly I haven't had the time or energy to pay much attention. Until this year.

Where I find myself a little bemused. It seems that no one's political knickers will get in a twist if the one remaining significant (apologies for the egregious over simplification here) communist nation racks up a substantial medal count. I don't see anyone fretting over whether China's fantastic coup of gold medals means that really, truly we should all overthrow the oppression of Wall Street and comrade Bill Gates and join the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. In the vast number of Americans I've polled (my Children plus at LEAST two other friends... I tell a lie, four) no one has expressed any nationalistic pride in the achievements of our beach volleyball teams, our swimmers, our gymnasts etc. In other words, I can't find one single person who gives a damn about the political ramifications of our athletic efforts AT ALL.

Isn't that marvelous?

I mean, I recognize the effort of the Chinese. I've seen news blurbs about armies of workers scouring off the chewing gum from the public square. I've read with interest, and a little disbelief, the new stories about the decision to replace the seven year old (amazing voice, sweet face) visually with the nine year old (cute as a button, pony tails) and simply thought, wow - two little girls got to be part of a really amazing opening ceremonies (don't send me the emails, honestly, don't because I totally agree it was silly and pointless and that singer child was gorgeous). But at the end of the day? I think it's amazing that I can be thrilled at the achievements of Michael Phelps and just as thrilled about those unbelievable Chinese divers.

They totally rock my world.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The Male Child wanted to be taken to the swimming pool this evening. The rest of the family feel that it's entirely possible the Male Child could be a superb swimmer. This is mostly because it is beautifully stream-lined (owing to its frame which is as of this writing about 5'11" and 130 lbs). Unfortunately it also has no body fat at all so if it doesn't keep itself in constant motion it sinks like a very lanky stone. Of course it always is in constant motion so that's really only a theoretical problem.


The Female Children opted out (one because it had beautified its hair and didn't want to undo all that effort, the other out of simple unadulterated laziness) but I am a Good Parent and was willing to drop the athletic child off AND pick it up so it gathered suit and towel and headed for the door only to stop dramatically and announce, "we can't go!"

Yup, back right tire, totally flat some time since I parked in the driveway after work. Sigh.

However (Good Parent, remember) this was clearly a Learning Opportunity (as well as a Spend Lots Of Money opportunity) so all three Children were gathered around as we went over the finer points of changing a tire.

My father taught me how to do it once I was old enough to drive and although I have forgotten many good and useful things (in order to better fill my head with really vital stuff like the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's Folk Song Army or the entirety of Margaret Mahy's Bubble Trouble) that lesson has somehow stuck with me and now was the perfect time to pass it along to the Children. So we pulled out the minuscule spare (For Temporary Use Only), fished out the jack and set to work. A mere ten minutes later, io triumphe, we done changed it AND all had a lovely set of black grubby hands to show off. Child One even demonstrated its collegiate brains by successfully diagnosing the problem: large screw clearly and completely embedded in the rubber. So, not necessarily the best ending to the day, but not so shabby either.

Plus I got to say lug nuts.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Last of the First

It was Child 2's last first day of school today. Well, that's hopefully not entirely true. Child 2 still has all the fun of undergraduate study ahead of it and could possibly be lured into post graduate work (which is a tried and true method of pushing off the real world). However, it is its last first day of public, k-12, state mandated and supported school. Child 2 is a senior and totally cognizant of the rights and privileges thereof.

It has been suffering this summer from my draconian policies of Eating Of Vegetables and Cleaning Of Room but its dramatic and highly amusing whining and complaining has faded away a bit which, as I tell it is NOT FAIR and totally missing the whole point of parental oppression. There's no fun at all in a Child going all mature and responsible and, worst of all, avoiding the nag by doing the chores first.

I'm starting to wonder about Child 2 because it came home today full of enthusiasm for its classes (the calculus! So fun! The German! So fabulous! The Economics and Government - superb!! I mean, honestly, ECONOMICS??), sat itself down to research a couple of unfamiliar terms from class that day and then, THEN chose to fish out its calculus book and do 14 problems, you know, just to try it out.

Disturbing, I know.

But there's more. It has also volunteered for a team that will involve running, sit ups, push ups and quite possibly pull ups - energetic exercise. And it did it with full knowledge, full consent. Child 2 committed grievous fitness sin.

Just now it voluntarily peeled itself out of its book as well.

When it walks by next I think I'll check its scalp over. I hear these alien implants are pretty darn good these days but you can still catch them if you look close enough.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On Nothing

Child 2 said today that it cannot blog properly because - and this is the good part - unlike me it does not have a day that produces blog fodder. Unlike me.

So, for Child 2 I present my super-fantastic, blogolistic day.

5:00 reluctantly awake. At least I didn't wake up at 3 and then 3:30 and then 4 and then 4:30 as I usually do. On the other hand I didn't wake up before the alarm and have the satisfaction of going back to sleep again. Not sure if I resent that or not; it's too early to make these vital decisions. If I don't get up now though I won't be awake enough to be any use by the time work actually starts. Out of bed.

6:00 out the door. Morning commute is better than afternoon - less sun, less heat, the coarser edges on the streets less visible in the half-light. I'm still half asleep and the stream of consciousness in my head is just at the point where it seems utterly brilliant but I'm aware enough to be grateful I probably won't remember any of it. I snag the shady parking spot and walk the mile or so into the office, purposefully speeding up the pace this morning what with the Olympics and all that. We all have to do what we can.

7:00 in the office. I hate waking up early but it's worth it for the start-of-day putter I can do with no one else around. Someone brought in dried lavender and the smell is just under my awareness unless I think about it and then I enjoy the crispness. My computer is still not talking to the email program but everything else seems to be working - even the mouse is accepting its proper mouse pad now. I check the news (BBC) and think about setting up my Pandora account for this computer but I've forgotten the password by now so I'll have to start from scratch and it's still early enough that this feels like an enormous amount of work. I potter down the hall instead to fill my water bottle.

to work. Someone needs an ad (2.5" X 2"), deadline today and they only told me about it last Wednesday. Also they want it to include two totally different programs... right. Talk them down to one program, simple, one pre-existing graphic and a couple of words. Still have to do three versions since the text they submitted would have to be set at 4.5 pt to fit in which is, frankly, ridiculous. Spend far too much time fiddling with the existing icon - live trace only does so much - and then doing the same for the organization mandated logo. Think viciously that the guidelines only say I have to include the logo somewhere, not what size it has to be. Yes, it does look a little like a deranged lady bug at the only size that really fits but lady bugs are beautiful creatures and probably bring great advertising luck.

interrupted for the daily coffee run. We swoop up everyone who wants to head out and toddle over to the SUB. French Roast for one, Pinon for another (confusing the coffee ladies who are used to a half decaf, half pinon order but hey, sometimes you've got to mix it up like that). I carefully wipe down the cream cart because if you leave those dairy dribbles they get crusty on the edges and that's just gross. They used to give me a hard time about this but I've noticed they're all nicely trained now and I hardly ever have to grab a napkin myself. Why can I train co-workers but not Children? Discouraging. Back to the ad.

ad done, on to the next. I notice that the website that was not going to need any more updates, no really, promise, this is it, now needs several more updates. At least the poster (featuring the Male Child in silhouette) is pretty much finished and no one is asking me to make the figure "more androgynous" which was considered for a while leaving me extremely confused about how to androgynize my own very male Child.

meetings about meetings. Natter on a bit with co workers about vital things such as: when to meet to discuss the massive ginormous unbelievably complex database project we were just landed with; how best to confront HR with the need to give us the staff support we need in order to do the THREE jobs I'm now trying to do (seriously contemplated asking extra people to come in and bustle around looking frantic and chaotic. We could offer them bagels - that almost always works); how people, in general, often suck.

emails and general housekeeping. blerg. There's nothing remotely interesting to say about this particularly as several emails are to restate the same thing I said last time that apparently didn't sink in.

commute home. Could be worse, could be hotter, could be... erg. I hate this commute home! I could turn on the radio but every time I do it's Red Hot Chili Peppers and I really can't stand those guys. Besides their songs last forever. Worse it might be System of a Down and I loathe them.

walk in the door to a phone message from Child 3's friend saying Child 3 is in need of a ride and is waiting at a bus stop. I suppose I like Child 3 enough to pick it up but I do wonder where its phone is and why its friend is calling instead. Quick drive down to the school and back and no sign of Child 3 until I turn down our street and see a familiar back heading towards the house after running home. Let Child 3 in and don't wince much as it sits and sweats on the furniture - thank goodness for the blanket folded over the back of the chair.

spend several hours doing tedious but essential work on a file. Listen to Child 2 whine and complain about being forced to eat vegetables (part of Let's Try Healthy For A Change campaign. Child 2 is suffering terribly). Listen to Child 3 virtuously claim that it LOVES vegetables which is hardly fair as Child 3 loves food. Period. I finally get Child 2 to choke down its veggies with a combination of threats (me) and bribes (Child 1 and its copy of Breaking Dawn).

settle down to the Olympics. Beach volleyball still looks way too glamourous to be an Olympic event but is, at least in my tiny little mind, a leetle more sport-like than synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics. Child 2 sits directly in front of the television and loses itself totally in its book, looking up ten seconds after every cheer or comment to say, "eh? What? What happened." We all refuse to fill it in because we are wickedly cruel.

trying to decide if I can stand watching Michael Phelps try for his third gold because it would just be so dang cool if he got it. It can't be worse than gymnastics where I spend the whole time hiding my face so I don't see anyone fall off anything. I decide to blog with most of my brain and half-watch with the rest.

and just to round off the excitement I think I'll brush my teeth and head to bed. Maybe, just maybe, with a truly exciting book about WWI.

And there you are, Child 2. It's not about having an exciting day, its about waffling on about it relentlessly.


Sunday, August 10, 2008


When I was a kid I put people in boxes. Not literally natch, just neatly labeled pigeon holes that let me sort out the world. It was rather like the exercise I did in first year biology where one categorized various imaginary creatures by their distinctive features until you ended up with a beautiful list from Kingdom down to unique species. The only problem was that I ended up in a species all by my lonesome with the rest of the world all happy together in their more populated slots.

It went something like this:

Catholic or protestant? [eliminated 90% of my peers]

Mormon or other? [zing - down to 5% remaining]

Folk dance or Flash Dance [aaaaand it's now my sister and I]

Ballet or violin [yup, just me]

And this is without pulling out the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, home-baked (round) whole wheat bread, no television allowed, Smothers Brothers and Tom Lehrer (as the modern music choice in the house) and so forth. When I left home I bought some squishy white bread, signed up for cable tv, opted out of religion and resolutely stopped playing the pigeon hole game.

But now and then I backslide just a bit so last night as we watched the Olympics I couldn't help but firmly mark two clear boxes. When watching superb athletes at the peak of performance does one

a) make plans to take up swimming in addition to one's already thoroughly active lifestyle or

b) sit comfortably on the couch and ignore the niggling voice that points out that walking a few miles a day (not always at top speed, let's be honest) is not exactly hard-core exercise.

The male child is definitely in one of those categories. The rest of us...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stretching the Strings

Chris at Notes From the Trenches has a poll up about what age children should be allowed to go to a park on their own. Many of the comments say what I feel: it all depends. It depends on the child, it depends on the park, it depends on the neighborhood. In Alaska I happily let Child 1 walk to its friend's house several blocks away without a care in the world (Child was well educated on moose safety after all). Our tiny town was idyllic - no crime, no disturbing strangers lurking on corners, just the occasional large mammal browsing on the tops of ornamental trees.

In Virginia all three Children took themselves to school - about half a mile away, again without my shedding a single parental tear. They were together, and the worst they encountered were the nasty school bullies whom Child 1 dealt with summarily (proving that the cutting clever remark is far better than the sword if one is in grade school and surrounded by ones judgmental peers). In California they went to the beach or played in the forest on the cliff alone or in feral packs with their friends and I didn't stop them each time they went out the door to remind them that the Helpful Stranger Who Has Lost A Dog is really a vile abductor looking to snatch them away.

Maybe it was moving back to a city with a high crime rate, a city that makes me uncomfortable sometimes in broad daylight on a well traveled road. Maybe something broke when Kirk went missing from that Iraqi road, something that said the world is usually safe and people are generally nice.

I don't smother the Children. They are allowed out now and then, blinking in the sunlight, to breath the slightly smog-filled air. They use the public bus to get to work or school, they walk (okay, the Male Child walks) several miles to go to parks for practices or meetings. Generally, mostly, I'm fine with that.

The Male Child got up before me the other day and was already out the door by the time I got dressed. I assumed it had gone on an early morning run but when it wasn't back in an hour I took notice. An hour and a half after that I had sent three text messages, left a voice message and had started to poll its friends to see if they knew where it was. Half an hour later its sibling volunteered to walk over (in the heat) to the nearest parks to see if the Male had decided it was tired out and fallen asleep under a tree or something.

I didn't want to be that parent. I didn't want to be like my poor mother who paced the halls at night waiting for her careless, thoughtless daughter (yes, me) to straggle in an hour later with no excuse. Most particularly I don't want to be the parent who projects those fears on Children who should be confident and independent.

Of course the Male Child was fine. It had a meeting that morning for a school job it has taken on and decided to go directly to its team practice in the afternoon. It had turned off its phone during the meeting and didn't get my messages until after noon. It was a little aggrieved even, assuring me it had left a message with one of its siblings saying exactly where it was*. Panic - or at least rising concern - all for nothing.

I'm the mean mother among my Children's friends. They have a specific curfew and if they break it (particularly without warning) there are consequences. They are not allowed to have friends at the house if I am not there (okay, that's partly because I prefer my walls standing and my windows whole). They have to do their homework before they head to a friend's house or go to a movie. Added to that now are specific directions for telling someone where they are going, when they left, when they will be back and how to contact them. There are rules for my Children but I hope they are there as structure and not as restriction because I also believe in freedom.

Even when it's hard.

*In the Child's defense it appears it did "tell" its sibling. It sent two text messages (it claims). The first one didn't come through and the second said, "Oh! And a staff meeting too!" We have now clarified what constitutes a reasonable message which will not result in an infuriated mother.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More on the Twins

Did I say the computer and I had resolved our differences? Did I toss out there that we were now mature and reasonable and TALKING TO EACH OTHER?? I lied. I didn't mean to, I didn't want to, but oh how I lied. Having snubbed the mouse, rejected the e-mail and database management software and turned up its nose at sundry other things, yesterday it decided to develop an allergy to Illustrator. Quoi?? Not Photoshop, no Photoshop is just fine, thanks. Dreamweaver? Get on like a house a'fire. But Illustrator makes it sick to its silicon stomach.

So lets talk about the twins instead shall we?

I've been thinking about getting a scooter for months and months and months. My work commute is just long enough to make me feel terribly guilty for driving alone and of course as gas prices started rising sharply last year that just added incentive. I gave mass-transit a shot but between the under-funded bus system and a few other factors it was simply not practical. Bicycling would be another thought, but while the commute to work would be lovely for at least the bits with a reasonably safe bike path (down hill all the way) the trip back was not quite as appealing. Which led, naturally, to scooters.

You have to say it right. Scooooootah! Not a shout, mind, but a sort of mysterious hiss - sssssscoootah!

Honestly I've wanted one since I was twelve and saw an ad in Seventeen Magazine for a contest with the grand prize of a trip somewhere, a suitcase full of supermarket cosmetics AND a scooter. There was nothing cooler, I thought, than that cherry red little piece of motor driven freedom. I could picture myself on it too, clear as day tooling around town and parking with casual elegance in the school parking lot. I would be Audrey Hepburn in Rome for heavens sake if only I had a scooter.

I mentioned it once to Kirk when we were going to university. Imagine! I said, a scooter! It would be so... erm, impractical? He replied, what with the three very small children and the complete lack of income and everything. Sigh. So for years I muffled that scooter-yearning firmly and accepted the boring, four-doors-and-a-roof vehicles that got us and the kids and our various accessories wherever we needed to go. But I didn't love them, and over the last few years as I have thought more and more about the politics and ethics of gas usage the little scooter-yearning yawned and stretched and decided it was time to wake up again.

Which is why when Child 1 gradumagated and needed a way to get itself around to things like university and jobs it seemed the most obvious thing in the world to start shopping for a scooter for it. Well, sort of.

The most obvious thing in the world was to start shopping for TWO.

Twin 2 is mine.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


The problem is that I'm a computer person.

I didn't set out to be a computer person. I set out to be a history professor. I would wear pencil skirts, immaculate white blouses and fabulous shoes - possibly even a stylish scarf although I have yet to manage to tie a scarf any way but the one that says, "Look! I'm being throttled by a paisley constrictor!" I would lecture on cultural history to small halls of eager young students who would debate passionately on Louis XIV's use of interior decorating as political weaponry.

I wrote papers on the evolution of the illuminated manuscript. I discussed etiquette in Milton's Paradise Lost. I received honors for researching gardens in England and France during the crucial period between 1750 and 1820. I knew what palimpsest meant for heaven's sake.

Then reality hit a little what with Alaska (which is a lovely place but not known for its advanced programs on early modern history) and still needing a job and things and I found myself with a nice book on HTML and a handful of contracts from people who believed that if I didn't know everything about web design at least I knew more than they did.

Which is why I am now, willy-nilly, a computer person, a person who cannot do any work at all, none, without a computer, and why I spent a week and a half doing a hyper-speed version of raising a child. There was the stage of endless neediness, the teething pains, the terrible tantrums and the years and years of irrational behavior. Finally after an endless effort to educate my new computer, a painful process involving one monitor, one slow sulky old computer (sorry darling but I'm afraid it's over between us), well over 12 gig of essential files (yes, after a deep and ruthless purge) and 1 - ONE - flash drive that could hold a grand total of 1 gig, I believe we have reached a sort of maturity in our relationship. There are still scars, and I'm not yet over the hours spent muttering, "I am SO the boss of you," under my breath, but I think we're ready to approach each other with respect. But it was painful.

Which is why it was so good to come home at the end of the day to the much anticipated, long desired delivery. With the help of two Children I am happy to announce our family additions:

Twin 1

Twin 2

I had to do a little photoshop work to sort of artistically express how cool these little [slightly lawn-mowerish] 50cc darlings are but I think I can sum it up in just one small phrase:

80 mpg.