The dark backing

On taco night, Pokey was furious that I put whole beans in the ground turkey instead of making separate refried beans. He wanted me to go make refried beans. Our rule is that the kid can eat what’s served or go make a sandwich. Pokey was furious. It was clearly because he was so hungry, though.

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I pointed out that instead of making a taco, he might just eat the meat and bean mix, which is generally a thing he might like. (It’s very similar to a dish my mom makes called Jellybeans, which they all like, but I didn’t say that.)

Pokey said, “Don’t say Jellybeans. I know. I want tacos because it’s TACO night.”

I paused and let the silence drag out. I wanted it to be his choice whether or not he ate, but I also thought that if he didn’t eat, he’d be so fragile that the rest of the evening would be a disaster.

Pokey said, “I know. You’re worried that if I don’t eat, I’ll get hangry and make bad choices and get in trouble.”

He’s a very self-aware kid. I was genuinely impressed by his understanding of the dynamics here.

(He didn’t eat, and was hungry and fragile, but kept it half under control, and we all survived and eventually it was bedtime.)

This photo came home from Pokey’s old teacher:

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That expression says, “I loathe you but I know I’m also smiling for my parents and I do like them.”

I’m in Milwaukee now.

I am not good at recording things I find profound and emotionally intense, because I come back and feel detached and it all seems too silly. But I’m in the moment, and I’d like to note it.

My uncle Rick is managing this dying process in a manner so weird and unlike any other death I’ve ever heard of.

Elements of a good death:
– Time, but not too much time.
– Mental clarity
– absence of pain
– Basic extrovertedness
– Willingness to be present to the sadness of losing the future, but also aware of the need to compartmentalize and stay in the present, so that you’re not drowning in sadness.
– Expression of vulnerability and love, and having your loved ones show up and say it back to you.
– Having lived long enough that the life doesn’t seem cut short.
– Comfort with how your life unfolded and how you’ve spent it.

Uncle Rick has all of these. Number 4 – extroversion – isn’t probably necessary, but Rick has it. The doctors asked him what his goals were for his last few weeks, and he said energy and mental clarity. So he’s on steroids and Ritalin, and frankly doing better than he was during my last visit. (The doctors implied that the 3-4 week horizon might be extended, as well.)

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(Player piano in O’Hare, on the way up.)

Here’s how Uncle Rick’s last month is going: 5-10 people come visit each day. There’s profound love between each of them and Rick. The conversation bounces around between things which are interesting, memories which are entertaining, and mortality and loss. Everyone cries some, but not so much that the visit is unbearable. My brothers both flew in to attend for parts of Friday and Saturday. (Everyone brings fancy cheeses and baguettes, eclairs and muffins, exotic kinds of nuts and oranges.  Cauliflower-flavored pretzels and French chocolates. I grazed all weekend long.)

Rick is dictating his memoir as a letter to his grandchildren, and my cousin is typing it up. So he frequently is holding court – telling long winding stories from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s about political activism, family, meeting people who later went on to be obscurely famous, having adventures – and we all sit around and let the lovely scene wash over us and ask occasional questions.

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(Mental Health Complex at Froedert Hospital, Milwaukee.  Is Mental Health Complex? Yes! Anyway: What great mid-century cupcake architecture, right?)

Later in the evening on Saturday, when everyone had left, Uncle Rick and my cousins and I were sitting together and they pulled me into the nuclear family space in a way that made me overflow with love and sadness.

I keep thinking of this quote, “Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.”

I never used to understand duality, and why people felt it was a deep special topic, but now it resonates with me. It’s because the complexity of some things is irreducible, and it forms a knot of interdependence of opposite forces, and you’d be betraying its essence if you tried to pick out just one key part to hold on to. The black backing of the mirror enables the beauty and contrast and colors. If I didn’t have this damn perpetual death anxiety, I wouldn’t always be scared of it all slipping away.

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(Free scarves for the taking at a bus stop. Or we’re busy freeing house elves here.)

The quote about the dark backing of the mirror is by Saul Bellows, who I don’t really like, from the book Humboldt’s Gift, which I didn’t really like. I read it twenty years ago and all I remember is Renata, the love interest whose Brazilian beauty and exoticness were far more salient than any aspect of her interior life, and why was she with this shmuck of a narrator anyway? Screw him. I do not remember this quote from that book, but saw it quotated in an entirely different book more recently.

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(What’s in that tree?)

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(Oh, a duck. Ducks like trees.)

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Ace: Isn’t it weird that Grandma Collies’ sewing room is in a bathroom?

[There’s a little dressing room with a partial door sectioned off inside the bathroom, which is my mother’s sewing room.]

Me: It was always normal to me, growing up, because I never knew anything different.
Ace: But what if there’s a sewing competition, and you couldn’t get in because someone was using the bathroom? And they were like ‘On your marks, get set, GO!!’?
Me: I don’t know!
Ace: I guess you played soccer, so you could kick a ball against the door and knock it open.

Still there is make-up:

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Kitty-cat:

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And Snailee:

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…the snail which is also a hamburger. On the way home from the restaurant, Ace sobbed and sobbed that Snailee would meet a disastrous end – either thrown out or eaten. I didn’t help, because I was exasperated. It’s a hamburger.

A week later, and we’ve now still got Snailee in the fridge, uneaten and undiscarded. Every day or two, Ace checks to make sure her pet snail is still intact, and so our plan of attrition, trusting her to forget all about it, seems to be failing miserably.

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Happy anthill.

Anthill and anti-hill. There should be some joke there.

Jammies single-parented all weekend. We are out of balance as parents. In the fall, I was over-committed at work, and he was substitute teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays – of course he would do more parenting than me. (And even at our most balanced, he does more than me.) But he’s doing too much of the hardest parts, and it’s out of whack.

Version 2

Rascal woke up this morning (apparently, I wasn’t there) with a fever of 102. It responded slightly to Tylenol but returned up to 103, and Jammies ended up hauling all four of them to a walk-in clinic.   Rascal has the ‘flu, and now has Tamiflu.

It must have been a very long day – I’m not even getting into Hawaii’s science fair project at this point.

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Next week, posting will be on Monday, by the way. We’ll be at the cabins in the woods.

The Mishap With the Horns

I acquired a replacement cable to get photos off my phone.

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So now I can show you the mountain of presents that was distributed back on xmas Eve, in Denver.

Hawaii spent her own money on incredibly thoughtful gifts for her siblings:

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This was the label on Pokey’s gift, from Hawaii. It was a gross-out magic tricks kit.

Hawaii’s present to Jammies:

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It was rolled up and tied with a piece of string, Constitution-style, and the edges were distressed to show its age. < 3 < 3 < 3

We got Rascal these dinosaur claws:

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They didn’t have two-clawed gloves, which Rascal will tell you is a true T. Rex claw.

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But he thrashed around in these pretty well anyway.

At some point, Rascal turned to me and asked, “Do the kids do a present for the grownups?”

“Some of them did!” I answered.

“Did I?” Rascal asked.

I thought that was so sweet of him, to even notice that presents could go the other direction, from kids to parents. (I suggested he give me a hug, and he did.)

Pokey put on the Cubs jersey and kept it on for the rest of the week:

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Ace put on all the make-up she got and kept it on for the rest of the week:

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One night at bedtime, I took a wet-wipe and wiped off her make-up. The next morning Hawaii told me that Ace had waited until lights out, and then re-applied her make-up.

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Rascal leveled up in autonomous lego construction ability:

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Hawaii and Ace spent hours and hours, every day, in intricate play with their new dolls.

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There were worlds going on in there.

My Uncle Rick wrote this week in his blog that he’s been given three or four weeks left to live. Basically just January.

I’m having trouble grappling with the agony and despair of knowing one of your favorite people is dying.  How do you treasure the last few moments and find some pleasure in them with the axe hanging over your head?

I guess I’ll find out next weekend – I did end up booking a second trip after I got home from the last one.

The last visit was mostly me, my aunt and my uncle. This visit is shaping up to have many people, now that it’s January or never. I don’t know that I’ll have the chance for the same kind of closeness that I got to have on the last visit. I’m really grateful that I went to go visit before the last-chance-panic-alarm was sounded.

Doesn’t this cabinet pull look like a cat’s face, frowning?

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That’s in Mimi’s bathroom in Denver.

Doesn’t this doofus look like a cat, as well?

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What a good kitty.

This is the week of aimless post-holiday puttering. I made a bunch of my favorite soups – chicken and rice, lentil and split pea, chicken verde.  I made a mango-black bean-quinoa thing that was okay.

On Friday  I was really unnecessarily crabby at the kids, while making bee-bim bop, which was supposed to be a cute kid thing based on this book, Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park.  I felt sort of bad that I didn’t recognize that I was very hungry and hadn’t had any time to myself all week.

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The bee-bim bop was well received, though.

More delayed Xmas bonanza photos.  Rascal decorates a plate:

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Mimi had bought special plates and paint-markers to paint them with.

Ace paints a snowman plate:

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and also a Christmas tree and candy cane plate:

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I love you, Christmas, to Santa.

Pokey makes a design:

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The big circles are thumbprints. Since these were paint-markers and not just paint, this was a pretty messy endeavor.

Hawaii makes a Christmas tree and candy cane plate:

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and also she makes a designated cookie plate for Santa:

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Heebie makes a plate for Jammies:

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Merry platemas.

Jammies and I have conducted a single-blind experiment this past week, to determine if we can tell if Pokey’s ADHD meds are helping. For each of the past five days, I flipped a coin to determine whether to give Pokey his meds, and concealed it from Jammies. Meanwhile Jammies took notes on Pokey’s behavior.

The pattern was: Y, Y, N, Y, N.

At the end of five days, we compared notes. Jammies guessed N, Y, N, Y, Y. So, 60%.  Pretty good, but not the black-and-white stark difference we were given to expect.

We stopped at an atrocious Mexican restaurant in Arlington, TX. This entry is all out of order. This was on the drive home from Denver.

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Pokey ended up taking that glued mass of tortilla chips home. (It’s now on the counter in our kitchen in a plastic bag, looking a little sad.)

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The restaurant was a bonkers spectacle of ribbons and lights and Christmas decorations. Every inch looked like that hallway above. The hallways were tight and narrow, with old Christmas trees wedged all over, and then dining rooms opened up on either side, all with dated shabby restaurant furniture looking mostly hidden beneath the mountains of chintzy ribbons, glitter and lights. It was something else.

(We saw my cousins and their kids, and my aunt and other sick uncle while we were there. I have thoughts but I’m punting.)

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Look at these little red not-quite-cones on this brushy-tree in Denver!

At dinner one night, Pokey asked, “why do they say ‘human’ at the end of a prayer?”

(So that you know when it’s safe to make eye contact with the other people in the room?)

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Also Pokey:

Jammies’ got his eyes checked and came home with dark wrap-around glasses and dilated pupils. Pokey, in particular, was deeply rattled by the dilated pupils. He shrieked and more or less spazzed out whenever the topic came up in conversation. It was an unexpectedly intense reaction.

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Fifth Season carpet, in Amarillo, on the way home, ten days ago:

We threw everything in the minivan and left Denver in a hurry, a half-day before we’d planned, as snowstorms threatened Raton, NM.  We had about an hour of truly awful icy road conditions in northern Texas.

The carpet is mostly unremarkable.  We were in the ramshackle half of the Fifth Season, the peeling-wallpaper and stained-sinks and cracked-window half.  In the morning, we left as a raging snowstorm set in. (The kids were all hypnotized by the luscious big flakes whirling about, and it felt a bit unfair to whisk ourselves away from the only snow we’ll see this year. But we had to whisk.)

Back in Heebieville.  Ace gave us her gift to us.

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It was full of ornaments and cute things which I need to photograph.

Hawaii stayed up for her first midnight on New Year’s Eve ever. The rest of the kids slumbered in sleeping bags in the pit. It was quiet and special-feeling.

I’ve saved the best for last: Pokey’s xmas present for Jammies. He created a graphic novel for him:

(This is going to be hard to transcribe. Here we go!)

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The One With the A’s

Row 1:
1. Curly haired person: There was an old lady…
2. Cowboy hat person: Come on.
Curly haired person: What?
3. Cowboy hat: Everybody knows it.
Curly: Knows what?
4. Cowboy hat: The rhyme.
Curly: Oh.
5. Cowboy hat [upside down]: That’s my dad.

Row 2:
1. Narrator: Now this is called the one with A’s.
Cowboy hat [now sideways]: Let’s start.
2. Cowboy hat [upright, maybe pointing a gun?] There’s a good one.
Person with Xs for eyes, sitting at a table with a big bowl: AAAAAAA
3. Cowboy hat: Look! There’s As
[A bunch of letter As are resting on the ground.]
4. Cowboy hat: It’s a tower!
[Many more As are stacked into a giant pyramid.]
5. Cowboy hat: MMMmmm.

Row 3:
1. Cowboy hat: [*?$#+X*] it’s HUGE

Row 4:
1. Cowboy hat [upside down]: get ready to cuss.

Row 5:
1. Cowboy hat [sideways]: Ready

Large Inset to the right of Rows 3,4,5:
1. Cowboy hat [now proportionally tiny next to a giant tree]: Did you make the As?
Giant tree: No.

2. Cowboy hat: Sorry.

Row 6:
1. Cowboy hat: A portal! I’ll go in.
2. Cowboy hat: AAAAAA
[upon seeing Giant horned creature.]
3. [Cowboy hat laying on the ground.]
Giant horned creature: He fainted.

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Row 1:
1. Giant horned creature: I’ll take him
[picking up Cowboy]
2. [Two more horned creatures appear]
First horned creature: Look what I found.
3. Other two horned creatures: Ooooooh.
4. Other horned creature: What is it?

Row 2:
1. First horned creature: I really don’t know.
2. One of them: He’s waking up.
Cowboy: Yikes
Horned creature: Ha.
3. Cowboy: Did you make the As?
First horned creature: No
4. Cowboy and horned creature, together: Bye.

Row 3:
1. Off-frame: AAOOOUUUEEIAAOOOUUEIAOUEAAAAAAA
Cowboy: What the.
2. Cowboy: There’s it’s tail
[Cowboy holding a tail that leads off frame]
3. Cowboy: More As. Wow.
[More As on the ground.]

Row 4:
1. Cowboy: Oh, it’s a cat.
Cat: Meow.
2. Cowboy: What made that noise?
3. Cowboy: [darkened circle in speech bubble]

Row 5:
1. Cowboy: [darkened circle in speech bubble]
2. Narrator: 5 hours later…
3. Cowboy: [darkened circle in speech bubble]

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Row 1:
1. Cowboy: I got it. I’ll ask a tortoise.
2. Cowboy: Where’s a tortoise?
3. Cowboy: A tortoise in a tree.
Row 2 (large)
1. Cowboy [tiny]: Is that a tortoise in your branches?
Tree [huge]: No. Ask my sister, she will know what to do, I’m not kidding.
2. Cowboy [to the sister tree]: Is there a tortoise in your branches?
Sister Tree: Yes.
Cowboy: Can I have it?
Sister Tree: Yes.

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Row 1:
1. Cowboy [to tortoise]: Hi Tortoise.
2. Cowboy: What made the crazy noise?
Tortoise: What the hell gave you the idea to ask me that? So BYE.
3. Cowboy [thinking]: Me and my crazy brain.

Row 2:
1. Cowboy: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
2. Cowboy: It’s a mountain of A’s
[As stacked in a pyramid again]
3. Cowboy: When someone says A’s, they form. Yes.

Chapter two: The Mishap with horns

Row 3:
1. Cowboy: How do I get back?
2. Cowboy [with portal]: A portal. I’ll go in.
3. [Two bears appear]
Cowboy: Oh.

Row 4:
1. [Bears replaced by a giant snowflake shape]
Cowboy: AA.
2. [Snowflake replaced by a hatrack thing]
Cowboy: Yikes
3. [Hatrack replaced by the tortoise]
Cowboy: Phew
Tortoise: Ha

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Row 1:
1. Tortoise: I used my horns to trick you.
2. Cowboy: You have horns?
Tortoise: Look.
Cowboy: Oh.

Chapter 3: Really.

Row 2:
1. New person 1: I’m 200.
Cowboy: Really?
2. New person 2: I’m a dog.
Cowboy: Really?

Row 3:
1. New Person 3: You’re weird.
Cowboy: really
2. New Person 4: You’re nice.
Cowboy: really.

Row 4:
1. New Person 5: I’m a calico.
Cowboy: really.
2. New Person 6: We’re cool.
Cowboy: really.

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Row 1:
1. New person 7: I’m shit
Cowboy: really.
2. New Person 8: Your fuck.
Cowboy: really.
3. Cowboy: Were those true?
Eight people off-frame, in unison: NO!

Chapter 4: How to Cuss

Row 2:
1. Cowboy: How you cuss is you say Fuck, bitch, shit, and more bad words.
2. Cowboy: How you spell them is either weird stuff like &^%$%^?! or I just spelled them.

Chapter 5: Back Home Real Slow

Row 3:
1. Cowboy: (slowly) I’ll gooooooo.
[Bounces into portal]
2. [Cowboy in the center of portal, descending]

Row 4:
3. [Cowboy in center of portal, emerging]
4. Cowboy: (slowly) Yes.

THE END!!

I especially like those frames where he arranged multiple speech bubbles to reflect the course of conversation, like they do in regular comic strips.

Mechanical sliced ham

Somehow in the haze of vacation, I forgot all about writing a post. Usually I have a working draft before 10 pm, Sunday night.  Let’s see what comes of this.

Before we left for vacation, I saw a facebook plea for this dog to be rescued from a shelter:

December 30, 2018

and for possibly the first time in my life, I thought it looked like a nice dog. Doesn’t he have kind eyes?

Then I had a surge of conflicted emotions: if everyone else in this house wants a dog, do I have an obligation to check out this dog for which I felt a passing fancy? I showed the dog to Jammies.

Fortunately, the next day, the FB friend updated the post and had decided herself to adopt the dog. I felt mostly relief. (But what if that was the only dog I’d ever be capable of liking?)

A week later, I stroked my cousin’s dog and idly wondered if I should have stepped up for the dog. Of course not – we’d been about to leave vacation the next day.

That night, I had a dream. The local animal shelter was offering trial pets – take it home for a night or two, see how you like it. I stopped by secretly and picked out a mutt. It was kind of a smelly thing with curly hair, large.

When I got home, I realized it wasn’t a dog at all, but a mechanical animal. I looked closer, and somehow it was a sliced ham. A sliced ham, with mechanical inner gears and workings that were visible between the slices, like organs seen through slotted ribs. I was horrified. I went to the website to see how I was supposed to return the trial-dog-turned-mechanical-ham.

However, true to the real life nature of our shitty small town, the website was impenetrable and unhelpful. Jamaal and the kids were going to arrive home and I’d have to explain that I was stuck with this mechanical ham, and they’d take it to mean that we should get a dog, and I really wanted to get out of this mess immediately.  I woke up.

When we got home in real life, our cats were cuddlier than usual. No one has chewed up my grandmother’s furniture or my shoes, and no one has to be walked in the rain, or has escaped from the fence, or has pulled an entire turkey off the counter and scarfed it down. It is a relief. I really am not a dog person.

Jammies’ parents and his sister live a mile apart from each other. The plan was for Jammies’ brothers and girlfriends to stay with his parents, and we would stay at his sister’s house.  It seemed like a tiring arrangement, parenting-wise: each morning, we’d have to wake up early with the kids, do the morning routine and then pack the kids up for a day trip to Mimi’s instead of staying put. Each evening, we’d have to pack up their belongings and gather the tired and cranky kids back to the other house.  Not the end of the world, but not ideal.

When we got there, Mimi exclaimed, “What? No! Just Heebie and Jammies’ will be at the other house. The kids will sleep here with us!”  I had a whiplash-record-screech moment, as my vacation transformed before my very eyes, and became quite magical.  Mimi really did take on having all seven grandkids at her house, and sent all four parents away.  I slept so well!

(On the second night, the three youngest cousins all climbed in bed with Mimi and Papa J.  I think this is very funny. Papa J was not amused, and even less amused when the four older cousins were awake by 5:15.)  Jammies did not find it as relaxing as I did, knowing that Papa J might not be amused and Jammies might not be there to defuse the situation.

The big kids went skiing. I stayed home with the little kids.

The mountain of presents came and went.

We planned on leaving Thursday evening, but then saw that Raton was going to get hit by a snowstorm, and so we scrambled Thursday morning and made a mad dash to pack everything up and get on the road by noon.   We were harried but successful.

We stopped to see my Dallas cousins, with the other ailing uncle. This uncle was diagnosed with multiple myeloma back in 2006, and has been significantly ill since 2013ish.  The thing is: his memory is so holey and his energy for conversation is so diminished, that it is really hard to feel like you’ve connected with the old Uncle W in conversation.  It’s easy to connect with him – he’s loving and happy to have conversation go on around him – but the spark of Uncle W has a hard time revealing itself anymore. This is in stark contrast to the Wisconsin uncle who has only been sick for a few months.

It’s just a big contrast, and nothing more.  (Furthermore, my cousin’s wife has lost both her parents in the past two years. Both died unexpectedly. Even more contrasting ways to pass.)

There is no poetic point about how death arrives. They’re all hard.

The visit wasn’t hard – the visit was lovely.  I’m just preoccupied by illness and death lately. Sorry for all the macabre dithering.

Oh hmm. It appears I’ve lost the little connector cord that I use to get photos off my phone and onto my computer.

We’re back in our yellow house in Heebieville again.  It’s good to be home.

Maybe this post should just abruptly stop here, with the disoriented laziness of late-stage vacation.  I will plan on acquiring a new connector cord for next week, and resume with photos and proper post writing.

 

 

Pulled out of the bottom of the stack

On Wednesday I took the kids to the Nutcracker.  (Not Rascal.)

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Playing in front of the Austin skyline.

We got there 1 1/2 hours early because I’m neurotic.

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Fortunately there were some kid activities in the lobby, like this “spin virtually with the ballerinas” thing.  (Also notice my plaid pants please.)

I bought cheap seats:

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They were vertiginously steep.  It made my stomach tumble to see the kids against a sheer drop backdrop. Even though that’s plainly silly.

See how close we were to the top:

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Ace’s shoe did go over the edge of our row, behind the chair of the person in front of us. I had to get down on my belly and fish it out.

The last half-hour of the Nutcracker is extremely boring, and I was losing my shit along with Ace and Pokey’s loss of their own shit.  Eventually it was over.

……

We left for Denver on Friday.

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We stopped in Sweetwater, TX for lunch:

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which is actually the same park that we stopped in back in July, on our way up to Montana. If you recall, here’s what it looks like in the peak of summer:

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Not very different; just swap some mesquite leaves for jackets.

The biggest difference is that you can touch the playground equipment without scalding yourself, and so we did.

Upside-down Pokey:

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Upside-down Hawaii:

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Jammies swinging cinematically:

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Aw, it’s the Geebie family coat of arms:

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Immemorialized.

Our hotel in Raton, NM was a posh dive:

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The really drug-addled hotels never manage to set such clear expectations.

Our room lacked the anxiety-lock:

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but it was really fine.

Doing the game where the kid whose hand is on the bottom pulls it out of the stack and puts it on top:

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Hawaii’s part in her hair is intentional, to resemble Harry Potter’s lightning bolt.

Doing the game where you eat breakfast in the hotel the next morning:

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Passing for regular kids, innocuously eating breakfast.

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Oreos and coffees sounds perfectly delicious to me, but I dispute that it’s classic.

Pokey got written up two weeks ago, when I was in Milwaukee. There was no single incident that got him in trouble. Instead, in was the accumulation of small slights over the course of a very rough week.

That sounds reasonable, except: his teacher Ms. P had sent home smiley faces for the previous two days, and so we’d rewarded Pokey with baseball cards accordingly, and congratulated him on having good days, and now she was turning around and giving him a referral for behavior on those same days.

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Pokey was deeply upset and had a long talk with Jammies.

For Jammies and me, this was the final straw to say a hearty fuck you to this teacher. I met with the principal this past Monday to get him switched to a different teacher.

As soon we made that decision,  I became ragingly angry at Ms. P.  I suppose I’d been suppressing it in order to make the relationship work. Things such as: She just doesn’t update her thinking, ever. You have a conversation with her and she just vents at you for 75 minutes about the same old shit she complained about the previous month.

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Pokey and Ace had posadas this week. I don’t exactly know what it is in real life, but they just sing some Christmas songs in spanish for the parents, eat a lot of cookies, and hit some piñatas.

I watched Ms. P during the posadas. At the piñata, Pokey drifted away from the line,  to lurk near the edge of the piñata strike zone, to get ready to pounce when the piñata burst open. Once he was stationed there, kids slowly congregated around him.

Version 2

At one point, the piñata released a few premature pieces of candy.  Several kids scurried to get them. The grown-ups (predictably) freaked out about the swinging bat and the kids’ heads.

Pokey did not lunge for the few pieces. Instead, he took the moment to separate himself from the amassed kids and locate a new isolated spot, to angle himself for the candy floodgate.

Ms. P singled out by name, as though he’d scrambled for candy, and told him to get back. Pokey (rightly) said “But I didn’t get any candy!” and she said, “I’m sick of having to tell you to get back with the group!”  I saw Pokey flare up with the injustice of it all – how he’d demonstrated restraint, had a big plan to get candy, and how she hadn’t previously told him before to get back with the group, but was pretending she had.

To me, she was escalating the situation, and it was all a display of dominance. Of course she can ask him to re-join the bigger group of kids – but not by cracking down on him as though he’d been misbehaving. If she’d said, “Hey Pokey, I need to keep all the kids in one spot – please go back to the rest of the group” he would have complied without feeling targeted.

The whole afternoon was like this: just escalating conflict needlessly with him. My dislike of her intensified.

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The other thing she wasn’t aware of is: Pokey had been having basically an anxiety meltdown over this piñata for the past few hours, even before he performed on stage. His fear was that they’d start without him and he wouldn’t get his candy. (Feel free to roll your eyes. The anxiety is real but the reason is ridiculous.)

Jammies tried to reassure him that no one was starting the piñata while the kids were performing. Pokey bolted outside immediately after the performance, skipping the cookies to be by the piñata as early as possible. During the long wait, he fretted about one thing after another – what was he going to put his candy in? what if he dropped his candy? etc.

So there is plenty of stuff for us to work on – I’m not trying to absolve Pokey here – but the teacher was pretty goddamned un-attuned to him as well.

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At the class Christmas party, Pokey won a round of Bingo and got to pick out a present, and he selected a pretty decorative bowl, to hold his baseball cards. Ms. P told him he couldn’t have it because she’d put it out there for the girls.  She made him pick out something else.

Ms. P can fuck right off.  I’m glad that was his last day with her.

Once he was on break, we told Pokey that he was changing classes. He was thrilled.

He started opening up about all sorts of other things Ms. P would do, like when he gets in trouble first thing in the morning, she sighs deeply and says, “It’s going to be one of those kinds of days” and that she routinely stage-whispers rude things about how ill-behaved and incapable the class is.

….

Now we are here in Denver! Both brothers have brought their pending spouses, so for the first time all four kids in Jammies’ family have brought significant others to the holidays.

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I quite like both the new prospective sister-in-laws! They lighten everyone up a bit and make it more fun.

The youngest brother otherwise has a tendency to be a bit of a cement brick, and the other brother has a tendency to squabble with the sister, and the new faces are both more mellow and easy-going than the brothers.

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Ace: Rascal, be a dear and get my water bottle for me? It’s upstairs.

Rascal: ok my darling!

[and then complies.]

I haven’t talked about the aunts as much as the uncles. That’s because they’re both healthy and let’s let them be stable presences for the time being.

This is a thing that’s occurred to me for the first time about grief: you’re allowed like some people much more than others.  You can grieve someone you’re fond of much harder than someone you’re lukewarm on, even if they’re otherwise comparable people.

I had this unexamined belief that you have to be fair about grief, and that grief should be based on objective criteria: proximity to the individual, the circumstances of their death, and the tragedy of the life cut short. But that’s silly. You’re allowed to straight-up prefer some people and love them deeply, and feel much sadder when they’re gone. Likewise, you’re allowed to politely not grieve much when other people are gone.

 

 

Such is stardust

I was reading “It’s Not the Stork” with Rascal and Ace, and pointing out all the girl parts and boy parts of the children’s bodies.

Rascal said, “Daddy! Daddy! Those are the balls I was telling you about!” very excitedly, pointing at the little boy’s illustrated testicles. “Those are the balls I pop at night, in bed!”

(Hawaii and Pokey practically hurt themselves laughing. I gamely reminded Pokey of the time – when he was probably shy of two years old – when he was in the bathtub and exclaimed, “DADDY! There’s a hole in my bottom!” and showed it off.)

“Yes, I remember!” Jammies answered Rascal kindly.  “I didn’t know that’s what you meant!”

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Wednesday thoughts:

I wish I had a baby to take on this trip, to visit Uncle Rick. Something to do, something that needs taking care of, something to look at when conversation isn’t flowing very well. Something to cuddle.

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Thursday thoughts:

I am so glad we’re required to wear surgical masks in Rick’s room, because it means that when I get stung with tears (constantly) I don’t have to worry about making other people uncomfortable, because they can’t see my nose turn bright red.

Rick is so small and thin, and his belly so distended, and his hands trembley. His color is very yellow.

He’s animated in conversation, but not compared to his earlier state of nearly cartoonlike animation. He comments frequently on the co-appearance of extreme happiness and sadness, how they don’t cancel each other out to leave a blah middle. Just separate axes: intense contentment and happiness alongside staggering sadness at leaving it all behind.

We had big conversations about the cosmos, and sociology, and voting districts, and how meta-cognition and the arision of consciousness is so breathtakingly profound that we can’t quite wrap our minds around it.

Rick enjoys having my aunt read aloud to him from The Clearing, by Alan Arkin of all people. They bought a cheap copy off some online book seller and were surprised to find it autographed.

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I didn’t take any actual photos of Rick. I don’t know how to make sense of the duality of health and sickness here, and what to document. It seems weird to document the unhealthy version, but I don’t want to deny his aliveness currently.

Friday Rick felt better, and then on Saturday Rick felt worse. I didn’t put my thoughts down in real time.

The last four days weren’t that hard, but then it all sank in today. While I was there, it was just my Uncle Rick. He was wasted away, and sallow, and his abdomen was actually basketball-level distended, but he connected just fine in conversation. He was simultaneously deeply happy and devastated.  He commented on that often. He was troubled that the dilaudid might be influencing his emotional landscape.

He was in a lot of pain, spleen pain specifically, as the AML has returned post bone marrow transplant and hunkered down there.

I found it very hard to be sufficiently germ-phobic. I felt very panicked that I wasn’t being sufficiently vigilant. He has basically no immune system. What if I shouldn’t have just touched the loose change in my backpack and then touched the side of his bed because someone sneezed on them once? I only tended to think of these things when it was too late. I was diligent about Purell and handwashing and face masks as instructed, though.

I was glad to wear the surgical face masks all the time, because I could tear up freely and since my nose-turned-bright-red was hidden from view, and I didn’t feel like I was inconveniencing anyone into comforting me unnecessarily. Also because the highly filtered air was so dry, and the face mask trapped a mini sauna to breath and keep me from being so parched.

My uncle and my aunt recounted a conversation where he asked her, “If I die, will you be okay?”  She said, “I’ll be okay. I’ll just never have any fun ever again.” It’s so poignant and sweet and feels so real.

So that’s a quip now of theirs, to shrug nonchalantly and say, “Oh well, I’ll just never have any fun ever again.”

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I just took photos of hospital art.

The presenting symptom, last March, was diabetes insipidus, which is a rare form of diabetes somehow connected to the AML. When he was briefly in remission, it went away. And then it came back, with the AML.

His sodium was low on Thursday, due perhaps to being overtreated for the diabetes insipidus, and so they were scaling back the treatment, and so he was peeing every 15-20 minutes on Saturday.  We kept these little pee jugs hanging by their handles on the side of the trash cans, and fetched them for him, and he’d wedge it in place – sometimes laying down, and sometimes sitting up.  He’d breathe heavily, which I came to recognize as meaning he was in acute pain. Little indignities that I don’t want to forget, because he’s cratering so fast and I want to preserve what there is left.

Sometimes he’d hang his head at a severe angle, down on his chest, like someone might if they passed out or was losing consciousness, because of the strain on your neck muscles at that angle.  He has a few centimeters of white peach fuzz regrowing on his head, from the baldness of earlier chemo rounds.

His mortality is openly discussed, but they also act like he’s going to check out of the hospital and go home any day now. He was actually supposed to check out on Thursday, the day I arrived, but his fever spiked and so they had to draw blood and let it stew for a few days to see if anything grew, to determine if there was an infection, or if it’s just a regular old leukemic fever.

If he had checked out that Thursday morning, there would have been a dozen reasons he would have had to turn around and come right back. He had a lousy day on Thursday, a better day on Friday, and then another lousy day on Saturday, including another spike of a fever.

I don’t see how he’s ever going to go home. They’re not going to let him check out with his neutrophil numbers this low – we joked that his immune system is basically miso soup. Good stuff, from the bone marrow transplant, but barely any of it.

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Flying home today, and all day since, I’ve been confronted, wrecked really, by the duality of Uncle Rick, the healthy robust energetic one with the zest for life and unstoppable energy, who I really hadn’t thought about at all during my visit, and the sick version of Rick, in physical pain, with barely any platelets, being so hard on himself because the walks around the ward tire him out so utterly.  How can the one, healthy version be gone forever? But Rick himself isn’t gone – it was very easy to feel deeply connected to the same old Rick as always.

It’s really tempting to reach for words about “fair” and “unfair”, but that’s stupid. The best, most accurate statement I can generate is that it runs supremely counter to what I want to be true in the world, and what I took for granted and expected to be true. I took his richness of health and mind and spirit as proof that it was reasonable to take him for granted. Not in a bad way where I failed to appreciate him, just in a trusting childlike way.  In stark contrast to my parents or my other uncle, whose mortality I’m always fretting over. They don’t seem anywhere as invincible as Rick did.

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My grandmother’s 101st birthday would have been today.

Exactly one year ago, we were all gathered in the party room at her assisted living home. There were 100 candles. Grandma was unusually lucid at her party, with all her kids and kid-in-laws, grandkids and grandkid-in-laws, and twelve great-grandkids and two great-grand-fetuses (who have since become proper babies.)  Both uncles and my mom were all at the relative peaks of their health.

Uncle Rick talked to me about how he missed her, his mom, in part because he hasn’t had a chance to grieve, because the AML has taken utter precedence. He got sick a few months before she died, but did not tell her, and feels ambivalent about that. There were no good choices.

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I was reminded that when my mom was sick, almost ten years ago, I had a rule that whenever a visit wrapped up, I scheduled the next visit. Rick is sicker than my mom was, although that wasn’t clear at the time.  It’s easy to see in hindsight.

I was a lot more terrified of losing my mom. For all this sadness, Rick is not my parent. But I’m much more attuned to the deep sadness here, since it’s not masked by abject terror.

I do sort of want to immediately book another trip, to keep the end at bay. But it’s also emotionally grueling. I know my uncle really feels deeply soothed and content when his loved ones visit. I also know he has a ton of loved ones who are going to great lengths to visit him. I don’t know.

My other uncle – equally beloved – has had such a different decline. He’s been so private about his cancer. He’s been sick for so long. It snuck up on us when the duality of Healthy Uncle and Sick Uncle really became apparent. For a long time, we thought Healthy Uncle would return, and then he sort of did.

The other uncle isn’t blogging or openly reflective the way Uncle Rick is. That definitely affects how devastated and up-close I feel throughout this.

One final note: neither of my brothers are reading our uncle’s blog, nor troubling themselves terribly about all this. I just don’t understand them.

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I like this fine, but I liked best the art around Rick’s ward, his walking path when he’s up for walking, but I didn’t think to snap photos on those walks.

The Milwaukee airport, right after you pass through security:

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I think someone was pretty cute when they made that sign. I could probably spend a few days in a Recombobulation Area after this visit.

..

Today we had the girls’ dance recitals.  The studio was split between two recitals, and our teacher split the girls, and so we had four hours of dance recitals, which is about two hours more than Rascal could handle, and one hour more than Pokey could handle. I was pretty ticked off that they weren’t in the same recital.

Ace, third from right:

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Ace, in the middle:

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Hawaii, front left:

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Hawaii, in the center:

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We lost various parts of costumes, left ballet shoes at home, and generally acted more disorganized than usual, but the girls were wonderful and both did great.

Do I want to discuss lice yet again? No, I do not. Let your imagination wander.

Rascal and his best friend:

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Being dreamy together.

Also while I was out, they had a piano recital. We phoned it in to that one, as well. Let your imagination wander there, too. (I will say that the girls each picked two short  pieces to play. Whereas Pokey picked four pieces, and one of them was The Twelve Days of Christmas, where he did indeed play all twelve days worth. I am told it took a long time.)

The Head of Swirls

Ok you guys, this entry is a bit of a doozy. I hope you like Kid Art.

Rascal creates art:

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A bag of groceries lying on the ground, after a meteor hit it.

I actually have no idea, but the bag of groceries is an educated guess, because of this progression:

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Ace’s well-defined bag of groceries in the middle: grapes, lettuce, carrots. On the right is Ace’s abstract painted version. Then on the left, Rascal clearly said “Me too!” and thus art deconstructed itself.

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Plums, strawberry, kiwi, black squares: all fleeing the existential shopping bag of the abyss in the center.

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This whole Rascal series is very abstract. Here we have the digestive tract of the abyss, after it eats you whole.

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Cherry tomato splats of the abyss. The larger faint circles represent the tomato cans of dread.

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Storm clouds trying to be dog bones.  A bit of golden sun peaks through the center.

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The ship deconstructs itself in the purple waves.

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Let’s let the artist caption this one:

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“The world of plants. That’s why I put green, there’s plants growing on there.”

Very nice!

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And that one? Have anything to say about it?

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“These swirls are called Rainbow swirls, because they have all the colors on them.”

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The commentary period abruptly ends, and the artist fell silent, leaving us to contemplate the brusque emotion of Charcoal Briquettes With Blue Motion.

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And the fainter series, which was mysteriously labelled Molly.

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Earth contemplation.

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Charcoal briquettes, revisited: a series.

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I quite like this one and seems passably like modern art. This is the one I might yoink and frame.

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That thing where you stick the paint-covered marbles in the cardboard box, I presume.

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Finger prints on transparency over mosaic squares.

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I have a feeling I’ve posted this one before, but I’m not sure.

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Eyes akimbo.

I have a belief  in my head that I should try to fast twice a year, for 5-7 days, because otherwise I’ll get cancer in my 60s and I won’t get to help raise my grandbabies and grow old. I have done a five day fast before, before one of my surgeries. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst, either.

It’s not worth it to discuss the science. Some scientists are convincing that this is a real phenomenon. I’m not a scientist. It sounds a bit nuts to write it out like this, but if this is the most nuts I get, is it really a big deal?

I decided that the end of the semester, finals week, would be the best time to fast. It happens twice a year, I don’t have to think on my feet in front of students, and I have to pass a lot of time in front of a computer and grading.  I also decided that I should start now at age 40, just to make it a habit and figure out the nuts and bolts of a longterm habit.

So: yesterday I started my fast. And today I quit!  The end.

It was just too hard due to the intense weekend parenting. I feared starting on a Saturday would go badly, but I was having trouble finding a suitable 5-7 day window. Now I know: don’t do this next time.

I originally took the photo to capture Orange Kitty investigating Rascal as he slept:

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but Hawaii’s side-eye is what really makes it.

There’s just so much kid art. Am I really going to walk through all four kids’ art dumps in this post? It’s either that or curating it, which is overwhelming in different ways.

Ace creates art:

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This could be a problem on my Discrete Math final: is the graph planar? Justify your answer. Remember, an affirmative answer is an existence proof, where as a negative answer needs to be fully general and rule out every possible representation of the graph. (It’s affirmative, don’t worry.)

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See, I’m having deja vu with this picture and the one below: I really think I’ve posted these.

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But I also thought this stuff just came home from art class, so.

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Reminds me of Keith Haring, an artist who I just googled to figure out who I was thinking of.  What does our artist say?

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“The Head of Swirls”.  On point.

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My guess is that a thickened worm is passing through a skinny hole in a wall, so the thickness of his skin is sloughing off and his skinny core is passing through.  (But I haven’t asked Ace yet.)

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I quite like the triangle on the lower right.

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Looks like fun.

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The marble thing, part deux. I debated grouping these pieces by methodology rather than kid: marble pieces adjacent to each other, chalk-on-black-paper pieces together, transparency-over-mosaic pieces together, etc.

But I had a bit of decision-making paralysis. Ultimately, the best way to organize art is the way that does not grind to a standstill.

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Same day as Rascal made the cellophane transparentcy over mosaic squares.

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Gold and black dipped potato cross-sections?

….

Ace has by far the most art of the kids, because she also brought home a big stack from school.   Let’s take a break so that we don’t get art-fatigue.

Pokey, in his Ballet Folklorico performance at the Smalltown Christmas Festival:

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It was drizzling. They were adorable.

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Tree lights making pretty reflections in the rain.

The girls performed their ballets on Saturday.

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Ace’s dance is a wind-up doll Nutcracker-type of thing.

By this point the cold front had moved in. See those spaghetti straps? It was like 40 degrees out.

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Hawaii in one of my old vintage coats that I no longer fit into, but kept, because I love it so much and hoped one of them would wear it.

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The show was so godawfully cold. I don’t have photos. We sat on bales of hay and shivered.

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Ace wore my heaviest coat over her costume.

More art from Ace!   Let’s power through this together!

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I’d frame these three, stacked.

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I also like this clown house a lot. I could see framing this. I don’t have the wall space to frame everything I want to frame.

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I don’t want to frame Angry Styrofoam Face, though.

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Mosaic skies.

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This one is artist-described:

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“The Swirls of Justice”.

It sure is, baby.

Cmon, Heebie! Keep it going now!

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Still life of fruit! go, go!

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This is our house! Yellow, up on stilts. Happy clouds.

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I think dancing on stage.

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Gourd-bird.

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Red cloud, net, robot.

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Birds, math.

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Yellow house on the river again?

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Yellow tree on the river?

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Red fish in the river?

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I like her eyes.

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I like her lipstick.  Very Cupid’s Bow. I’d fetch a photo of a 1920s starlet with a cupid’s bow for juxtaposition, but I really need to just crank this entry out without stopping.

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Two kids swinging.

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I bet this is our back door, by the river, but I like the idea that it’s an elevator door.

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Couldn’t this be fancy abstract art? With the spooky face at the bottom and the swami-head styling?

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Rainbow pigs. I’m pretty sure no one would believe this to be fancy abstract art, but maybe that’s where you really blow their minds.

On Thursday I fly to visit my uncle, the one that has leukemia. The one I started sending weekly presents to, back in June. (which reminds me, oh shit – I need to compose this week’s letter and grab two presents from the box.) (I’m now in the habit of stopping by garage sales to grab a half-dozen piece-of-shit tchotchkes, which I then mail to each uncle in hopes of forestalling their mortality.) (It’s not working.)

I’m slightly worried I’m going to cry the whole time and it’s going to be a really heavy visit. The therapist recommended that I sternly tell myself that I will schedule time to feel really sad, and then honor that and take sad-breaks. I’m still uneasy.

See that H+HR+RBI+PO+AS/G+AB in the middle of the page?

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Pokey made up a new baseball stat.  It started off really nice! That is the sum of hits, home runs, RBI, put-outs and assists, divided by games plus at-bats.

It makes sense! Roughly speaking, it’s the ratio of total good things over opportunities.

Then this happened:

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He took each digit of the result, translated it into binary, put it into columns, added things up in different directions, did some division and got upset because he didn’t know how to interpret his answer in terms of the original baseball game.

Later, Pokey asked me, “How do I get my stat on baseball cards?”
I don’t know, but I bet it’s hard.

But not as hard as Ace’s dream:

Ace: How do I have a concert?
Jammies: Well, you have a recital next week.
Ace: No, like a ROCK concert.
Jammies: you have to practice a lot.
Ace: Uggggghhhhh. I just want to HAVE one.

Pokey creates art:

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They made these chairs for Dia de los Muertos. Those are four little guys sitting on a big chair, with mysterious labels. I need to get the backstory here.

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Mask.

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Drawing emotions: Is there a square for “insincerity”? I can’t imagine taking this prompt seriously as an 8 year old.

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Pretty! We should use this!

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Sort of a running tree man?

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This is the block base, for print making. I am really fond of these prints. I like the hand in the middle with the finger down.

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Print, in red and blue.

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Print, in red and green. This is the one I’d like to frame.

Classes ended! Finals began! I am deeply content to be done with my precalculus class. Individually they’re nice kids, but they just would not stop jabbering amongst each other. That, plus I find the material kind of tedious, made for a long semester with them.

We finally had Pokey’s birthday party today:

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Pokey had a very clear vision of a doughnut pie. This is our best approximation.

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I’m told it tasted good; I was still fasting at that point.

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We have achieved an age where all the kids can make it up all the platforms of these things. And put their shoes on by themselves, afterwards.

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Pokey’s birthday was disappointing for reasons he couldn’t quite articulate.

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He didn’t get as many prize-tickets from the arcade games as he wanted to.  Several of his friends couldn’t attend, and instead the quasi-friends that we made him invite to be polite were all there.

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(Although his very best friends, those guys above, were there.)

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It might have been the ennui of growing older. Why aren’t these arcade games as captivating as they used to be? Why do my tokens run out so much faster than they used to? Why does Peter Piper Pizza feel smaller and tinnier than it used to?

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Jammies, looking happy.

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He didn’t get that overwhelmed-with-happiness feeling from his presents this year, either.  (Partly because there were just four families there – he has the misfortune of being friends with two sets of twins.)  Growing older is unexpectedly a bummer at times.

Probably the best thing about the party:

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is Ace’s evil expression right there.  Can I use this as our Christmas card photo?

Hawaii creates art:

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She’s my best friend

You mess with me, you mess with her.
You mess with her, you mess with me.
You mess with us..
You better watch it
AND RUN!

Frankly, I wouldn’t mess with them.

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This is the one I want to frame, here.

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Might as well use this cryptic calendar!

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Again, I need the backstory on this display. It’s so detailed. Clearly there’s a story here to this woman in the wheelchair.

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I rather like this.

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Apple tree?

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That emotions assignment again. Fewer emotions; still looks like it maybe took all of two minutes.

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But this little guy is rather nice.

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As is this little koala bear-ish type mammal. Maybe a lemur?

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And this abstract number is the very last piece of art.

You made it through!!

As your prize, here’s our Egyptian Duck pals, for your viewing pleasure:

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G’BYE!

Crazy Dance

Pokey turned eight on Monday!

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Birthday bedhead and teeth brushing.

For his birthday, we got him a monster case of hives:

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Holy moly, Pokey! The doc did not know what caused it. It was everywhere.  I tried to distract him at the doctor’s office by showing him videos of how to breakdance, and Pokey can now do The Worm pretty successfully. (Allergy meds worked fine to calm the hives.)

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For his birthday dinner, Pokey wanted peel-and-eat shrimp and artichokes.  Yum! Easily my favorite birthday dinner of any of the kids.

Hawaii made him a birthday card:

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and bought him some legos.  (She just does these things of her own accord!)

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From Mimi, Pokey got a Nintendo. He wasn’t initially excited about, but now the kids are amped over it.

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It’s really funny to watch kids play Super Mario Brothers newly and authentically – they don’t know the automatic tap dance of keys needed to zip through the levels. They don’t know the where hidden multi-coin boxes and extra lives, and that plant that gives you fireball power are.

(I can’t play worth shit myself, but I remember well enough the rhythm of watching other people zip through.)

Rascal: What do you get when you cross a lemon and a banana?

Me: What?

Rascal: A lemonbanana!

Taken at work:

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I thought the streetlight made a neat pattern through the trees.

Ace: What do you get when you combine a lemon and a zero?

Me: What?

Ace: A lemon!

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Why were you at work so late, Heebie?  Once I have to sit through Senior Seminar presentations. You might think it’s the almost the shortest day of the year, but it’s actually the looooongest.

..

Me: What do you get when you cross and elephant and a grape?

No one: …

Me: Elephant grape sine theta.

(It’s a moldy oldy in the right circles.)

Fall has sprung here!

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Apparently this is only because we had a hard freeze very early.

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It’s being said that this is the best fall we’ve had in over twenty years.

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Which isn’t quite true for me, because 19 years ago I was still in Michigan where, of course, the fall colors are dependably much better.

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The carpet of leaves in the mucky, stagnant off-shoot of the river is pretty cool, though.

Ace discovered that she could take videos and photos with her kindle. While the other kids were watching TV shows on the airplane, Ace watched videos of herself over and over again.

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Also Ace:

During her indoor soccer game,  she mostly skipped everywhere she needed to go. Probably more than she either walked or ran. You know, just a pleasant way to get from point A to point B.

(Is skipping a vestigial gait? Was there ever a time when early hominids skipped because they needed a speed in between walking and running? Did early homikids skip to keep up with their homimoms and homidads?)

Time for half-price night at the annual Christmas Festival of Heebieville!

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That’s Jammies in the red sweater, on the left side of the YOYO swings ride, and Hawaii is just to the right of him.

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Halfprice night is always on Wednesday, which makes for a really shitty Thursday morning, to be sure.

But this was probably our best year yet – everyone was big enough and interested in lots of rides, no one melted down. We pre-fed them, so they weren’t starving, and then ushered them home with the lure of funnel cake.

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Hawaii and Pokey on the far left, in an outstandingly tacky airbrushed-ladies-of-desire themed ride. (Hawaii thought it was a Taylor Swift ride, which I like much better.)

The big kids got me to go on all the most neck-jerking rides there, like Taylor Swift above. I kind of enjoyed myself.

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Rascal had the whole train to himself, and made chugging piston arms in the engine car the whole time.

We’ll be back – next weekend both girls are dancing on stage on Saturday,  and Pokey has a Ballet Folklorico performance on Thursday. Plenty of time to wander the awful arts and crafts tent and buy fundraiser food from every organization in town.

The school district called Jammies and apologized to him, and confirmed that he had not gone around whacking desks with a meter stick until it broke and splintered off and hurt a kid who needed stitches. They are very sorry for the mistake. That had been some other teacher.

Hawaii is a planner:

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The items are fairly reasonable and can be farmed out to uncles and aunts, and so she will most likely be quite happy.

On the other hand, it wasn’t even December yet when she made this.

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The morning after a slumber party.

The mom texted me during the party and said: “There is about to be a wedding over here. Your daughter is marrying the TV.”  Hawaii confirmed later on – they all put on makeup and fancy dresses and she kissed the television set.  I would like to see photos.

I decided to try my hand at Hanukkah grub this year.

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I grated a lot of potatoes. I didn’t take a photo of the final product, but the latkes turned out well enough.

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I’ve never made challah before. It took forever.

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It turned out pretty enough, but honestly, it should have been squishier.

I also threw a brisket in the crockpot, but that is straight up easy.

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(We had our seven closest families over. There were nineteen kids and a lot of yelling in the back of the house. And one newborn baby.)

Hey Pokey: At age eight, you said that your earliest memory is “Buying a belt buckle and boots with Mimi, for a big dance with a stage.”

That would have been the belt and boots you wore as the ring bearer in Jammies’ cousin’s wedding, right before you turned four.

Specifically, this belt buckle and boots:

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Oh my gawd. Look at you. (And baby Ace in the background!)(And part of Jammies.)

Texas thinks itself so funny:

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Awww snap your seatbelt! Okay, fine, I think it’s funny, too.

In contrast, I don’t think this is funny at all:

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Switching from Jammies’ insurance to my insurance sux donkey balls. That cheapo plan has a 10K deductible.

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It looks like it could be cold!