Friday, March 31, 2006

Driven to Drink Poetry

Nothing is safe.

The other day I found Arthur. He was hanging by his fingertips from the table. He had pulled himself up using a chair and from there it was just a short stretch to the table. The only trouble was, he couldn't figure out how to get down. So there he hung until I helped him.

The table incident gave me a new understanding. I understand why your parents want you to push chairs in when you're finished with them. I understand why parents pick up things off of the floor and vacuum a lot. And I think I understand how it is that the parents who achieve satori are able to make a sandwich and end the motion with a sponge swipe across the counter.

If they don't, they'll have some interesting explanations to make to the doctor (or at least some large bills).

Cat safety.

Something has happened to Muriel. First some background. Several years ago, Muriel developed a lump. We called her "Lumpina." Before we took her to the vet, Mark was examining the lump, which was on her back leg. He did something she didn't like because she reared up on her hind legs, batted at his hands with her claws, bit him, made eye contact, and bit him again.

When we took Lumpina to the vet, we heard strange noises in the back examining room, after which Dr. Ron rushed back into the waiting room and said, "Um, Muriel is giving us a little attitude about her lump, so we're going to sedate her."

So, some sort of miracle of personality has happened. Last night, Arthur decided it would be great fun to measure the mass of Muriel's tail by squeezing it in his little viselike fist and shaking it back and forth. Muriel turned to shred him to ribbons, saw who it was, and stopped. Anyone else would have been left with a bloody stump. I'm not making this up; there were witnesses.

She still insists on sleeping on our heads and using her powers of gravity control for Evil, though.

Where's Dad?

Arthur has a new game (OK, he's been playing this one for a couple of weeks). If you give him a blanket, point at him and say, "There's Arthur!" three out of five times he'll pull the blanket over his head and wait (sort of) for you to ask, "Where's Arthur?" If you put the blanket over your head and ask, "Where's Dad?" he'll pull the blanket off your face.

The down side of Arthur's object permanence is that he gets mad if you take something away from him (like a stick or dead leaf that someone tracked in on the newly vacuumed floor). He also gets made at the baby gate. Mark says he scowls (I'm waiting for the comparison).

But is it art?

OK. Although it goes against my resolutions of what kind of person I would become when I became a parent... apparently an earlier poem I wrote and shared was intensely popular. It wasn't a poem when I wrote it, exactly; it was more like a cry for help. Thankfully, Mark recognized it for what it was and came home after a visit to the liquor store. I give it to you here, with a new title.

Tribute to a Young Judith Viorst (Bring Tequila)

Clever fingers.
Undone diaper.
Loose fecal matter.
New rival for Mother of God on our rug.
Unwholesome snack.
Baby prison.
Call FEMA.
Bring tequila.

One critic even went so far as to suggest that my poetry was improving. Oh well; you take complements where ever you can.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Notes from the Revolution

We're ready for the revolution. We've just come back from a weekend staying with my folks in central Oregon and they had some toilet paper they didn't need. A lot. The collection of rolls is larger than a child. Of course it's in a plastic bag Arthur wants to play with.

While we were staying with them, I drank too much English Breakfast tea. As I lay quivering in my bed, I dreamt I time-travelled back to 1920 London where I found an old abandoned chapel that had been used by Black Magicians. It was surrounded by a marshy fen. The Magicians had thrown a lot of rings into the fen, and the folks I was with kept finding the rings in the swamp. Then there was the dream the next night later where Mark and I transformed ourselves into owls and were flying over the skies of Eugene. Thank goodness for home, where I returned to the usual dream of finding a secret star base in the Star Trek universe.

Arthur is still on the cusp of crawling. He does a lot of the zombie-crawl, but occasionally he'll go up on his hands and knees. Usually when he wants something, like a deadly wisteria pod, to put into his mouth.

My folks have a cable feed, so I got to watch more of the Discovery Channel. There, I learned you can start a fire with
  • ice carved into a lens
  • a highly polished soda can bottom
  • a battery and steel wool
I also learned that you can make weapons out of a surprising range of everyday household items, and that if you're famous enough you can be filmed trying to capture your own farts underwater (if only I had been famous back in 1974). I suppose it's a good thing for Arthur that we don't have a TV at home.

Arthur visited his first wading pool. He really likes water. He can sort of swim, but he doesn't realize he needs to kick while he paddles his arms. I'm also not quite sure he knows all the differences between breathing water and air.

In writing news; I just got word that I made Quarter Finalist in Writers of the Future for a story about a werewolf and a nun. It means that the story made the top 10-15% of all the stories submitted, so I'm guessing that it was somewhere in the top 500 stories. My next Writers of the Future submission (due in four days) is about virginal alien bugs. I waiting to hear from Polyphony about the Colossus of Rhodes, a fantasy story set in an alternate history earth. If that gets rejected, then I'll need to evaluate how I'm going about my writing career -- I keep getting all these near misses, which means my writing isn't good enough or else my marketing isn't. Or both.

Ah well. Back to editing.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Safety is White

This morning, Mark saw Arthur crawl into the bathroom and pull himself up on the side of the bathtub.

So Mark went to Jerry's and now I am looking at a Safety 1st Cover Clamp Toilet Lock. It's sitting in its packaging on my desk. The picture shows a white man's hand locking down a white toilet set on a white toilet with a white plastic lock. We own a piece of plastic that will show up every speck of dirt and we're supposed to lock it on our toilet. Couldn't they have at least made the lock black?

The warning on the box says, "Never leave a child unattended in the bathroom. This product is only a deterrent. It is not a substitute for proper adult supervision. Discontinue use when child becomes old enough to defeat it." This warning sounds like something that should come with internet connections. Luckily, the toilet lock *doesn't* come with an internet connection.

Supposedly our new toilet lock is easy for adults to use. I'll bet the same people who designed childproof caps for medicine are the same people who designed the Toilet Lock. When I was a child, I used to open my folk's childproof medicine containers for them. Arthur sleeps through the night, and I don't want to have to wake him up at 4 in the morning just so I can pee. Maybe that internet connection wouldn't be such a bad thing after all. As long as it doesn't come with a web cam.

If I were designing a lock, I'd simply embed electromagnets into the bowl and lid. That way you could switch the lock on or off and nothing white would have to be cleaned. Hmmm. Electricity in the toilet bowl; probably a bad idea. Oh well. ("Oh, they make those," says Mark. "But they're more expensive.")

Mark also got a bunch of locks for the kitchen cabinets. And the 'fridge. We're supposed to leave one cabinet unlocked as the "fun cabinet." I guess we'll put all our plastic storage bins there so Arthur can have a tupperware party. All of our cabinets connect, so I'm not sure how we're supposed to have only one be the fun cabinet. Also, I'm pretty sure the cabinets contain secret passages to the insides of the kitchen walls. I know Jerry's makes stud finders, but I don't think there's such a thing as a baby finder. Maybe we can get a web cam for the insides of the walls.

On a completely different subject, when we went for a walk on the Willamette River this morning, we're pretty sure that we saw a juvenile bald eagle. It sat in a tree for a very long time. Mark thought it looked a little mechanical, and hypothesized that it was actually a spying device so the government could keep an eye on the antiwar protest happening in Eugene.

That's it; we can get a mechanical bald eagle to train a web cam on Arthur's every move. There must be a metaphor in there, somewhere.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Raising The Bar

Arthur wanted something this morning at scary reading hour. So he crawled. At first it didn't register that he had done it and I had to ask the other mothers present, "Did he just crawl?"

Later today we were sitting on the couch and Muriel jumped up on it and over to the table where we've put her food. Supposedly moving her food and water dishes up on the table behind the couch will keep Arthur from choking on cat food. As soon as he saw the cat, he entwined his fingers in the goatskin throw on the back of the couch and pulled himself to a stand. If he could have gotten a purchase with his feet, he would have been over the couch in an instant. I'm not sure which impulse would have won out -- to try to twist the cat's ear off or eat her food.

Still later, I was sitting on the step to our kitchen with Arthur. The permanent ladder up to the writing loft is there. Arthur's clever little hands grasped the lowest most rung and I could hear the wheels in his brain whirling. If he gets up into the loft, we'll have to find a new place for the sharp and pointy fish table which used to live next to the couch. Oh, yeah; and install a parachute Automatic Activation Device in all his clothes so when he falls out of the loft an emergency crash balloon inflates. It's either that or Mark will want to do something like take a chainsaw to the house and remove all the lofts...

And he can't even walk yet.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Arthur's First Nine Months

The weekend started with me making a request to a radio station. Friday night, there's a show called "Groove Cycles," they play disco and dance from the seventies and eighties. I asked for Donna Summer's cover of Knock on Wood. This song should have been Clue Number Three That I'm Gay, because I really liked it when it first came out and I wasn't sure why.

Anyway, so Arthur is happily crawling on floor, Mark comes home, the DJ's announce they're playing requested songs, and Knock on Wood starts playing.

"Ugh," says Mark. "I can't believe somebody requested this song."

I laugh. Mark then goes on to construct some imaginary dialog surrounding the type of person who might like the song. I finally inform him that it was me before he gets too far, and go back to grooving to Donna.

Saturday was Arthur's Nine Month Birthday.

Saturday was also Archeology Day. We (collectively) saw three movies on Archeology. Arthur mostly slept through "Voyages of the Vikings." The most interesting thing about that movie was the information that "Viking" boats flexed. Mark watched "Secrets of the Karakomb," which he said was well put together. I watched the tail end of a depressing film on forensic science, and a film on the Nabateans (the folks who carved the city of Petra (AKA the shrine where Indiana Jones found the Grail)). While I liked the cliff tomb carvings, I found the networked system of water trenches supplying the city cisterns really cool.

We decided that although the information was interesting, most archaeology movies are a bit dull.

Some time during the movies, I got a message on my cell phone. When I played it back, a high pitched, disembodied voice sang back to me. "A B C D E F G..."

I looked at the phone message log, found the number that had left the message, and hit the send button on the cell phone. After a few short rings, my Dad's voice answered. "Hello?

"Elmo knows where you live," I said.

My Dad simply giggled and said that he was going to leave a message for me every day.

I don't know why people don't understand my aversion to toys that speak. Have you ever been alone in a house at night and heard a disembodied child's voice, almost a ghost's voice, start to sing? It's creepy.

It's enough to make you ditch an electronic voice box underneath the cushions of your parents' sofa.

Sunday we went to the coast. We stopped at the Sea Lion Caves parking lot and watched (probably) gray whales spouting. I'm not sure what Arthur thought of the whales, as he was sort of watching the other people around us more.

Then we went to the Oregon Aquarium. I'm not sure if Arthur's favorite thing at the aquarium were the sea lions and harbor seals or the gift shop. He imitated some of the birds sharing the aviary with the puffins. He sort of couldn't see the otters, and he fell asleep in the Plexiglas shark tunnel.

Arthur visited the doctor today for his nine month checkup.
His head circumference is 18.5 inches
His height is 29.5 inches
His weight is 22 pounds (I could have sworn he was 25; he certainly feels that heavy).

The best thing about the doctor's visit is that Arthur's doing well. The coolest thing was that the doctor managed to pull out a long strand of ear wax out of Arthur's ear. Apparently, he has a minor ear infection, which you wouldn't know if you spent any time with him.

Probably the most scary thing is that we're cleared for "fork mashed" solid food. Sigh. I guess it's time to coat the house in plastic and get a dog.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Happy Belated Valentines

See. February wasn't all doom and gloom. We did have our annual Anti-Valentine's Day Party.

Here we go

OK. Here's one of the latest pictures of Arthur.

Arthur has four teeth. Judging by the amount of drool that sometimes comes out of his mouth, I'd say there's more on the way. If he starts to take very long naps I will become suspicious that a painful visit from the Tooth Fairy is around the corner.

He's developed object permanence, and the attendant squeal when we take something dangerous away from him. Like our shoes. Or electrical cords. Or the cat. For a while I thought Arthur might be able to say "cat" and sign it. Instead, he's figured out how to put his fingers to his lips and say B-b-b-b-b-b.

He might be able to say "Hi Dad," except that this seems to be a variation on his earlier avataristic utterances of Hebrew.

Mark has constructed a clever little screen to keep Arthur from crawling up to the baseboard heaters. It's a cardboard box with fabric glued to the front in a lovely little pastoral scene. It keeps the electrical cords for the computer and the baseboard out of site.

And the cat likes to hid behind it.

Houston? We have a signal...

Arthur isn't walking. Yet. He can pull himself up and sort of stand if he's next to the kitchen step. He is crawling, and he's fast. The cat is learning.

Has it really been Thanksgiving since the last post? A lot has happened since then. I've decided that between the WInter Holidays and the dreary months of January and February, I don't get much writing done. I guess I'll need to get a sun light or something for some light therapy.