Monday, July 30, 2007

Grandma, Tesla, and Scraping

Today is a recover from the weekend day, and Arthur is helping me by taking a nap.

Saturday, Arthur and went to Corvallis to visit with my Grandmother. Unfortunately, she fell off of a couch and broke her femur. They've fixed it, but she'll be stuck in a wheelchair for a while. The nursing home she's at is a nice one, but I think they're a little understaffed. Arthur and I will have to go and visit again over the next few weeks.

After Corvallis, we went to a birthday party for Tesla. Although there weren't any telsa coils, our host, Eric, did have a Really Extensive Train set. I think Arthur was in heaven (at least while the trains ran). A Goodyear Blimp also flew close to Eric's house, and that was exciting, too. Arthur and I played croquet -- well, OK, Arthur wanted to eat the mallets and trip over the wickets.

If I had written a 1000 story involving tesla coils for the party, I would have read it; but I didn't (although I did come up with bits and pieces of a tesla coil story on the drive to Eric's house).

Sunday Arthur and I went to church while Mark scraped the house. When we came home, Mark took Arthur to the deep mosquito filled woods and I scraped the house.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Scrape, Art Boy

Remember last year, when all I seemed to type about was scraping paint?  It looks like that's going to happen again this Summer.  Man, my hands are sore -- I can't imagine what my Dad's must feel like.  

Mark's already purchased some stronger, more chemically enhansed (and toxic) stripper.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Beyond Antares

In the spirit of giving Arthur a kind of liberal arts education before he's three, I've checked out a bunch of childrens' books on astronomy.

OK. It's true / I'm filled with dread / Dr. Suess / is in my head.
Fox in Socks / Green Eggs and Ham / They really make me want to scram.

Our library allows one to search for books electronically and then request them for pick-up (thank you Goddess and Library Volunteers), and I did a subject search on astronomy and limited the search results to children's picture books. The great thing is that a few days after electronically requesting the books from my home I've got a stack of astonomy books that are mildly intersesting to Arthur. The down side is that -- ugh! -- many of them are filled with preachy doggerel.

It's too bad Dr Suess didn't write a children's book on astronomy.

The poems range in preachiness from 'Isn't Science Neato' to 'I've Got So Much Self Esteem the Solar System is my Personal Trinket.' Probably the most sententious is "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer," an illustrated book of the Walt Witman poem. It's the sort of book you give a child for Christmas to suppliment the all-natural, unbleached, hemp fiber socks and underwear you sent the previous year. The point that the book is trying to make is 'imagination is more important than knowledge,' but it really comes off as 'don't drag young boys to astronomy lecture halls.'

The best children's astronomy books simply have pictures of planets and constellations along with short descriptions. I read edited parts out of "G is for Galaxy" to Arthur. He obsessed on a picture of a birthday cake that had a Sun candle in the center with the nine planets' candles orbiting around it; the length of the candle corrosponded to the length of the planet's year. There was another picture of the solar system in the book that he liked.

So Thursday night, Arthur convinced Mark to drag out all the glass star lanterns we have and light tea lights in them once it got dark enough. We hung them a little before sunset and then Mark went on a walk. The sun had just set when I lit the tea lights; Arthur was trying to light a fondue stick he'd managed to find, so I was showing him the almost full moon and I caught site of Jupiter. "Look," I said to Arthur, "see that bright star; that's Jupiter."

"See Saturn," he said.

I wasn't sure where it was, so we did a quick visit to the Hubble Telescope's website and learned that Saturn and Venus were visible for a short period after sunset. I rushed Arthur to the top of the hill in the pram, and we made the summit just as a bright object was setting. Between hedges and a streetlight, it wasn't the best viewing site, and Arthur really couldn't figure out what I was pointing at.

"Missed Saturn," he said. "Really hard to see. Sad."

I had to cheer him up by showing him the moon, Jupiter, and (now that it was darker) the star Antares (which was just below Jupiter). I'd left the tea lights burning, so our cherry tree had blue, green, and red stars in it (along with a few other lanterns). It turned out that the walkway along the side of the house to the backyard lined up on Jupiter and Antares, so I pointed them out again.

Mark had come home from his walk and had pillows and books layed out in the backyard. He'd heard me in the walkway. When Arthur walked over to him Mark asked, "Hey Arthur, what's that red thing by Jupiter?"

"Antares," said Arthur.

"Wow," Mark said to me, "he understood the question in context."

I can see I'm going to have to get a little red miniskirt and brush up on my Nichelle Nichols routine.... Thank Goodness for iTunes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Notes from Mom

My sister was recently amused by how much one of my Mom's (long) e-mails was about Arthur. Here's bits:

Arthur is really becoming active. He wants to know what everything is. His favorite question is, "What's this?" (And he remembers) I guess he got into trouble last week because he said "Damn," which he told Mark that John had said. (Probably when he was plumbing in the new kitchen sink!) Anyway, he likes me to wear earrings. I told them they were at home in my jewelry box. He told me I should go home and get my earrings from the jewelry box. He likes the sapphire. At first he said, "Light the fire." John and I talked about that (when he was listening, after which he said sapphire).

Arthur has decided that he won't sleep in his crib anymore, and that he won't use the high chair anymore. He may be going back to the high chair because last night when we were eating he managed to rock his chair with a booster seat in it and went crashing to the ground. I thought maybe he had broken a leg because it was twisted underneath, but Mark had caught the back of the chair so it didn't come down on it. There were tears, but 10 minutes later he was jumping across the living room.

Anyway, Arthur and I have made ice cream that last few days. I found an article in the Bend Bulletin when we were over there last weekend that was put in by the Children's Museum on how to do it, complete with scientific explanation. It is done by putting the ingredients in a quart baggy and the salt and ice in a gallon baggy and shaking it for 10 minutes or until it gets hard. I cheat and after 10 minutes put it in the freezer until it is time for dessert. (Anyway if you are interested, they have stuff at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Corn Gods & Caterpillars

Scene: Mark and John are trying to get Arthur to go to sleep. Somehow, he's gotten a hold of his plastic corn cob and plastic knife. Mark and John have convinced Arthur that he's not allowed to summersault with pretend knives in his hands, but now that the acrobatics are done, the knife is back out.

Arthur (climbing onto Mark's stomach): "Climbing." (Jumps up and down on as if Mark's abdomen were a bronco.)

Mark: "Ooof! Are you (ooof!) some sort of (ooof!) Aztec harvest god with your (oooof) corn and knife?"

In other news, Arthur was recently gifted with two kids' books (by the author) which feature same-sex parents. She lives on the route to the market and noticed that Arthur had two dads. Actually, she probably noticed Arthur first, because he told her about the caterpillar infestation in one of her (since removed) trees. I think "scary caterpillars" was a discussion topic this time around, too.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Soooo Busted

Scene:  John is carting Arthur away in the car for a day of "Don't Drink the Paint Stripper" while Mark takes his turn at scraping old peeling paint off of the side of the house.

Arthur (in John's arms):  "I like doughnuts."

John (stopping at the car's hood):  "What?"

Arthur:  "I like doughnuts."

John (disbieving his ears):  "You like doughnuts?"

Mark (on a ladder at the side of the house, applying citrus paint stripper):  "Shhhhh!"  

John (still holding Arthur, or he would be standing arms akimbo):  "What have you been feeding the baby?"

Mark:  "It was only one."

Arthur:   "I like doughnuts."

John:  "Doughnuts is plural."

Sheesh, and they didn't bring me one.

PS:  After several days of blissful drizzle, the weather here is horrifically hot.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pain t  Job

The scraping has begun.  Like the interior paint job, the last coat of paint was slapped over two (or three) well done coats.  Luckily, we only have scrape the ends of the house and can power clean the rest of the house.  

My Mom and Dad have come down to help.  Mom's been watching Arthur.  He was very interested in her sapphire ring, we're not sure if he was saying "light the fire" and pointing to her ring as a joke or if he misheard her.  

My Dad's been applying a cirtrus peal on his side of the house, and I've been scraping my side.  In order to get to the eaves above the garage, I've had to sort of do the limbo with the electrical power line leading to the house.  I think I'll switch to belly crawling over the structurally questionable tin roof shading our concrete patio.

Mark is taking Arthur on a road trip so we have a little less "monkey-see-monkey-do" to worry about.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quick News

Last Tuesday was a really good writing day -- although my protagonist isn't protaging enough.  And the antagonist is being sort of stupid.  I'm almost to the point where I want to treat what I've written as back story and sit down with a blank screen and start over.

We're getting ready to paint the outside of our house.  So of course it's been raining.  Not that I don't mind the lower temperatures.  

The other night Mark, Arthur and I were walking home from the store and there was thunder and lightning.  Well, mostly thunder.  As we were looking at the sky, Arthur said, "Lightning hiding in the clouds."  

There's a story idea if I've ever heard one.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The John Look ?

Right Now...
... I've got a problem. The Writers of the Future workshop is in about a month and my hair looks like something Peter Brady wore in the late seventies. So do I A) Cut my hair; B) Trim back my beard; C) Let my beard get fuller; or D) Something else? [EDITOR'S Note:  There was a poll where folks could vote, but that was seven years ago...]
The Deiter Look
I could shave everything back to 1/8th of an inch and give myself a "King Phillip of France II" / Timothy Dalton beard. PROS: very low maintenance. CONS: Mark says it's too bristly.
Stay the Course
Unfortunately, I probably won't look like this in a month. Depending on where my hair is on its wave, I'll have another set of "hair wings" or else it will hang down in a mostly behaved fashion. PROS: No drastic encounters with shears. CONS: Mark will complain about long John hairs on the floor.
Patriot & Brewer
Um... No.
Ride the Savage Wave
Well, OK; I won't look like this in a month, either; more like a year. But this is what the beard looks like when it's fuller. PROS: Fabio hair when the wind blows the right direction. CONS: Mark makes "horse hair" comments.
Hippie Dentist
If I start now, I'll have the beard in time for the workshop. I'm guessing my hair's about an inch long in this photo. PROS: Venerable, yet approachable. CONS: Mark will complain the beard pokes him too much.
Winter Frosting
As you can see, I am a winter. I think this is Lesbian Haircut #2. As an honorary lesbian, it's OK for me to wear. PROS: Good for fundraising events. CONS: Mark will be more likely to sing "Kumbaya" at the drop of a hat.
Mystic Sage
I might be able to pull this off in a month, but I'll only have a two inch ponytail in the back. When I pull my hair back now, the white streak is still mostly there; although in a year or two it will be a brown streak. PROS: With the full beard (and the right robe) I could probably pass as Obi-Wan Kenobi. CONS: Mark will complain about finding hair scrunchies all over the place. OK, and ponytails give me headaches.
This is me, moments before I buzzed my hair back to almost nothing (Arthur was pulling it and it kept falling into... well... I won't go into that). It will probably take me two years to get it this length again, but it gives you an idea of what really long hair and a really short beard look like together. PROS: I am the envy of everyone who wants long hair. CONS: Mark points out that stray strands of hair become Velcroed to my beard .

Sunday, July 15, 2007



We got some Gorilla Glue, read all the warnings, and the new counter top is stuck on top of the cabinet.

The new sink is secured to the counter top after a round with a rasp and a hack saw and (probably not quite enough) caulk.

The new faucet works wonderfully, as does the water filter and the new drain. But most importantly nothing leaks.

Phew. I got some potato chips to celebrate and now I have to finish cleaning everything.

As I said to the check-out clerk, "...and nobody had to get nailed to anything."

Sink, Part 2

The glue between the cabinet top and the counter top didn't hold.

And we still have to remove about a fingerwidth of wood from the old cabinet before the sink will rest properly.

But I hooked up the hot water feed on the sink so that the new faucet would act as a hot water shutoff valve and we turned on the house's water.

Little did I know that someone had turned the cold water on under the sink.

Luckily Mark heard what he describes as a geyser under the sink and turned it off all the way.

At least I got a shower.

This Old House


First the hot water shut off under the old kitchen sink wouldn't turn off all the way. Then we couldn't find anything that looked like a shut off valve for the hot water heater. Then when we did find it, it wouldn't turn off all the way, either. We would have turned off the hot water heater and let it drain while we worked on the sink, but the only thing that looked like a hot water heater off switch were two antiquated rheostats left over from a Frankenstein movie. I looked at our breaker switches and none of them was conveniently labled "Hot Water Tank," and I concluded that to turn off the hot water tank I would have had to cut power to the house. Mark found the main shut off for the house, but he couldn't budge it. So then we called the Water Company.

In between all of this, we give ourselves a crash course in home plumbing by reading three library books and the manuals that came with the new sink, the new faucet, and the new water filter.

The nice man from the Water Company took off the metal cover to our house's water meter, took off the concrete jacket the metal cover sat on, reached in, and turned off our water. "So you've just got to believe you can do it," I said. "Yep," he replied, then rode off in his Water Company Truck to do more hydrological good deeds.

So. Meanwhile, we have no water. Period. Arthur has discovered the various plumbing tools we have and got busy asking "What's this?" (translation: "Gee this shiney sharp metal object looks like it would be fun to stick into my eye.") and grabbing the heaviest tool most likely to slip through his tiny fingers and smash onto his toes.

Mark took Arthur away, and I started to take apart the sink. And do some counter top demolation prep. I probably should have taken a photo or to of the original plumbing because I'm pretty sure that we're missing some piping and I'm only vaugly sure how the pipes connect. Anyway, after taking out the old sink and undoing some of the plumbing (which really isn't that much harder than, say, uninstalling the Eudora Email client), I have to go to the hardware store to get a spud wrench, plumber's putty, kitchen sink calk, some more piping, a sink net and drain, a contact adhesive, and a plastic spatula.

The sink is more or less assembled and ready to be put into our new kitchen countertop when Mark and Arthur return (after about about six hours of Mark trying to run Arthur ragged at the playground). We go out for pizza (and so that I can wash my hands), and when we return home, Arthur refuses to fall asleep. This might have something to do with the fact that he said "Damn it," in front of Mark too many times and lost video privileges for the night. Two hours later, I wake up Mark (who has fallen asleep next to Arthur after moving from Arthur's room to the couch and finally our bed) and we get ready to put on the new counter.

So. The new counter is a lovely particle board and formica construction. It is a lovely color that goes incredibly well with our cabinetry and, in fact, the rest of the house. The cabinet it rests on is 1950's tongue and groove construction of a quality that is very expensive now adays and out of wood that you simply can't get any more. If we had a larger budget, we'd be preserving the cabinetry a little better. Now that Arthur's asleep, we can glue the new top to the old cabinets, with the theory that if we want to restore things, we can remove the new top. Mark applies some contact cement, we wait, and...

...the hole for the sink in the new counter top doesn't exactly match the hole in the old countertop. Mark pulls out a rasp and starts to work on the exposed wood on the old cabinet that is preventing the sink from resting properly on the new counter top.

We still don't have any running water. It's a good think that I did a load of Arthur's dirty laundry before this all started.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cheesy Friezes

Arthur has discovered "Fox in Sox." For some reason, "Luke Luck Licks Lakes" is his favorite section of the book -- although he also likes the "Tweedle Beatles." I think the reason Arthur like Luke Luck is that it gives him an excuse to lick things. Like windows. Or the floor.

I was working on a parody that went along the line of "When John sees cheesy friezes he is pleased." But then Mark started going off about the friezes in a church we saw in Ithaca and I stopped.

In related news, we got a baby night off and went to see Arthur Honegger's King David. It was like going to a church play with really good musicians. The music itself was "Stravinski Lite" and the costumes -- well, it looked like someone found a bunch of flower pots, faux skins, and old draperies (at least the tassles on everything were fun, even if it did appear that the actors were wearing black sneakers) -- Oh, yes, and a stash of fake beards.

In some ways the text and the costuming were depressing in the same way the Assyrian friezes I've seen in museums is depressing -- very clannish and all about who smote who and how many people were killed. There were some fun parts: Goliath was a cool looking puppet, and the Witch of Endor was high drama. Musically, the best parts were in the second act: the "Song of the Daughters of Isreal" and "The Dance Before the Ark."

Oh! And we made a discovery. The old Savore Tea Salon has become a Bar and Hair Salon. Perhaps I'll get coifed and a margareta.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Teeth and Lightning

Yesterday I got some more writing done. It was sort of productive, in that I realized I needed to get my characters down on the planet much sooner -- which means a scene re-write.

Yesterday we had a little bit of thunder and lightning. It seems much cooler today, and less humid.

Arthur's teeth continue to bother him with the result that his sleep cycles are going all over the place.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Good Writing Day

Yesterday was a good writing day. I managed to get three stories into the mail; between the PHP script I wrote to suggest markets and some on-line resources I spent my time actually sending stories instead of puzzling over where to send them.

I got a little bit further on a short story I'm working on; the set-up is there, and I have a good idea for the ending. Typically, I need to make sure I have more of the characters' emotions on the page -- this is challenging because they're really alien and I'm noticing how much I rely on snorts, sighs, grins and shrugs; none of which my aliens can do.

The weather here is supposed to be hot (in the 90's) but last night a lightning storm rolled in and cooled things off. If we're really good with open windows and a box fan, we can get the house cooled down in the morning and it will stay about ten to fifteen degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

Arthur has been sleeping long hours lately. I imagine there's another tooth looming in our future.

Monday, July 09, 2007

News Bites

I got a bio returned to me the other day. I'm assuming that someone thought I had made a typo of some sort, but they changed "lives with husband and son" to "lives with wife and son."

As Mark would say, little reminders like this are always instructive.

In other news...

Arthur's getting new teeth. The poor thing is very cranky. He's even learned the phrase, "cranky baby," which he says when he hasn't passed out from the effort of pushing molars through his gums.

The flea-death we put on Muriell has made Muriell a kind of walking "Graveyard of the Fleas." This is all very well and good as far as it goes, except that Muriell likes to shed tiny little convulsing members of Ctenocephalides felis on our sofas, lounges and beds.

It doesn't improve our home decor, but at least we can tell where she's been by the trail of insect carnage.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Independence Weddings

July 4th means one thing. Relatives and friends who live far away come to visit after attending someone else's wedding.

My mother's sister's daughter, Laura, and her family visited. So we had a four generations picture taken at my folk's house. The youngest person, Sona, was nine months old. The oldest, my grandmother, was ninety-eight. Sona and Arthur got along well. Mark and I traded baby stories with Laura and Sameer.

After everyone left, I read "The Atlantic Magazine" to my grandmother. I think we both would have been happier with a "Better Homes and Gardens."

Mark's oldest sister (and Arthur's biological grandmother) Melora, arrived at our house the third. We'd seen her when we visited Suffern last May, but she was able to get only one day of vacation. This was a longer visit and we showed her around town.

When Arthur was born, Melora (and Veronica) spent time with Jenn and Mark W's family. We know a lot of people named Mark. Mark H lives in Seattle. Another Mark H lives in Northfield. Mark even once went on a double-date with three other Marks. It can get confusing, and Mark W has graciously allowed himself to be named "Bubba."

Bubba and Jenn are great; not only have they rescued Arthur from two flu-ridden dads, they let us blow things up in their driveway. Mark W used to say, "It's not a real fire until someone gets singed."

July 4 Report

The afternoon of the Fourth, we went to our friend's house. A few years back, we drew a picture of Godzilla and had rolling tanks shoot firecrackers into it. Two years ago we made a kind of vampire baby with firecrackers in its really huge diaper -- you can imagine what happened when the tanks attacked that.

This year we made an Abba Train. It was a left-over from Arthur's birthday party. Well. OK. We added Abba that morning because one of Arthur's favorite new songs is "Voulez Vou."

Mark didn't buy any tanks (or chickens) this year. He bought smoke bombs and killer bees.

First we put in a smoke bomb. It made yellow smoke. We fixed it so that half of Abba was smoking on the train.

Afte the smoke cleared, we put in the killer bees. Mark swears that he lined up the fireworks with the train's smoke stack.

Arthur was mostly OK with the train catching fire, but we did have to assure him that we'd make a new train later. He reminds us several times a day. "Train. Smoke coming out."

Hmmm. I can hear the dreams now: "I drempt I built this train for my date, but then my Dads set it on fire." Better put $5 into the therapy fund.


Mark's sister, Melora, has been visiting from New York for the last few days; so I haven't had much time for e-mail or blogging or anything. I did get a good writing session in the first evening she arrived.

Scene: Arthur, Mark, John and Melora are walking back from the store.

Melora (looking concerned): "Where's the groceries?"

John (turning sideways to display shoulder bag): "They're in my bag."

Mark (holding Arthur): "John's like a kangaroo."

John: "Kangaroo?"

Arthur enjoyed seeing her and was sad when we pulled away from the airport. Very likely he will ask for her when he wakes up tomorrow.

In other news
  • Muriel snuck out of the house and as a result has fleas
  • I got a short story rejection from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Arthur is warming up to the water slide at the local pool
  • Arthur had his first underwater --um-- adventure at the same pool
  • My Sister is visiting my folks (and cleaning out their garage
  • It's July, which means the weather is going to be in the 90's (ugg)
  • I've just discovered Connie Willis, and so far she's great

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Smokers on the Bus...

Obligatory Springfield post:

Mark (to man on the bus going to Springfield): "Pardon me, sir, but I don't think you realize that cigarette behind your ear isn't out."

Arthur: "Smoke."


... to The Goddess as Janis Joplin

(faces East and lights green candle)

Oh Goddess, won't you send me
a whole lot of cash
the money I've got is a-going too fast
prove that you love me with funds that will last
so Goddess, won't you send me
a whole lot of cash

(faces South and lights red candle)

Oh Goddess, won't you bring me
a really hot night
my honey and me, well, we just had a fight
send me a new one, a lover who's right
Oh Goddess, won't you bring me
a really hot night.

(faces West and lights light blue candle)

Oh Goddess, won't you send me
some true inner peace
my life is a mess and I'm needing surcease
I know I can't fix it, no, not in the least
So Oh Goddess, won't you send me
some true inner peace.

(faces North and lights purple candle)

Oh Goddess, won't you save me
from psychic attack.
Bad people are out there, they're giving me flak.
Give me protection, and give them a smack.
Oh Goddess, won't you save me
from psychic attack.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Child of the 70's

Scene: Late afternoon at the house. Mark has been home for a quarter of an hour.

John: "Honey, have you been playing a lot of ABBA lately?"

Mark: "No. Why do you ask?"

John: "Well, Arthur started singing 'Voulez Vous.'"

Arthur: "Aha! Aha!"

Mark: "John, you sing 'Voulez Vous' all the time."

John (incredulous): "I do?"

Arthur: "Shake your booty, shake your booty."

John: "At least I didn't teach him that.