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i had a nice long post here about what's going on in my life, zoe, keeping house, adjusting to life outside the paid workforce, etc. then LJ ate it because i had a broken html tag in it. the restore from draft thing is no better, more than half the post is simply not there.

so, to sum up: i get here about once a month to check in on you lot. i don't write because i don't really have it in me, and what few thoughts i have to share i post to facebook via my phone. i can't keep my house as clean as i'd like, and though i know it's futile, i still try and i feel bad for missing my mark. child care is mentally exhausting, but rewarding. zoe is officially rose's daughter now, and we'll be adding me as a legal parent sometime in the coming months.

i hope you're all well.
right. i have not posted in 1000 years and i suck. i have not read in 950 years, either. work was insane toward the end of the year, and now, well, now i'm a mom. :) it keeps me busier than i ever imagined. i'm exhausted and the baby is stirring toward wanting to eat again, so i'm going to make this quick. with my apologies to vastlymore because i promised i'd do this a week ago so she could stop keeping it secret. :) if you want a long, emotive version, it wrote it up here. if you want the quick and dirty, this is it:
on Friday, dec 10, our social worker called us and asked if we'd like to be presented again. this time, unlike on any of the previous calls, she said that she thought this would be ideal for us and that our odds were really great. the situation she was calling about was an african american baby girl born that very morning. she was 6 lbs. 8 oz. and 19.29 in long, well and healthy with an uncomplicated delivery.
half a day later, saturday the 11th, we got another call to let us know we'd been chosen. the baby was discharged from the hopsital into foster care, to a wonderful foster mom named jeanette.
a day later, sunday the 12th, we got photos (we squee'd!) of the baby at discharge from the hospital and notice that the birthmother, andrea, had signed her waiver that morning. the birthfather still could not be found, and it was beginning to look as if he'd have his rights terminated by the lawyer publishing an ad in the paper and waiting for him to not respond.
the next day, monday the 13th, we got to meet our daughter for the first time. jeanette brought her up to the agency and we sat with her for an hour, holding her, feeding her, burping her, and totally falling helmet over motorcycle boots in love. after we met her, we were able to give her a name: Zoe.
the next day, tuesday the 14th, we did finally get to meet andrea in what's called a "match meeting". the match had already been made and she'd already signed the termination, but i suppose she could've left the meeting and told her case worker that she hated us and wanted anyone else on the planet besides us. but she didn't. we tried to make her laugh and feel comfortable, but she was very quiet and only answered direct questions with short direct answers. open-ended questions got nowhere and she didn't volunteer much. at the end of the match meeting, we had another visit with our daughter with andrea there, which wasn't as hard as i expected. she just wanted to hold her one more time and say goodbye. she even placed Zoe in rose's arms at the end of the visit, it was very sweet, and i admire her strength tremendously. we had to leave her with jeanette one more time, and that was hard as hell. the lawyer had to give the sign-off to all the attempts that had been made to find the birth father. if the lawyer said it was all diligent enough, then the ad could be placed in a legal journal somewhere and zoe could come home with us.
that darn lawyer had the nerve to be in court all day. like he had a full-time gig, or something.
still, an agonizing 4 hours later, we got word that he had pronounced the search proceedings suitably diligent and thus thought it safe to let us take zoe home.
the next day at 10, we went to our agency one more time... jeanette brought our daughter to us, and we took pictures with all the people who had helped make it happen. and then we went home. the three of us.
my life is pretty much on its head. this is only the third time i've sat at my computer in the almost two weeks we've had her. and now, because i know you're all slavering for them, pictures.
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hey, gang...

i have been intensely busy for the past few weeks. there was vacation in austin (we visited every swimming hole in town and a few that were out of town!) and work in covina, ca (hi, lvmybehrs!) and then regaining traction here after being away.

so, lemme just dash off these few lines, because i feel like running AWAY and hiding for a while longer. just until i catch my breath.

kristenred and one of rose's lifelong friends threw us a baby shower this weekend. it was totally fabulous, with all these (gender neutral) pastel kitschy baby shower decorations. my gay ex-boyfriend from high school and the, like, one queer from the high school band that i never did date and his current boyfriend all came over and helped decorate. i really love that i've got friends who know me from that far back. it's hard work to keep in touch sometimes as we get busy, but it's been worth it. our house was liberally festooned with paper ducks and helium balloons and crepe paper streamers and ribbons and banners and all manner of hoohah. it was fun, and funny. :) mostly, we felt cherished and fawned over and truly loved by all the folks in attendance.

also, having this shower taught me something... one of my favorite things about gifts is the surprise. when you have a gift registry, precious little is a surprise. i didn't know that until this party, as i've never had a registry before. don't get me wrong, i'm eternally grateful for all the very necessary baby things that we were showered with. ohberon and kristenred really outdid themselves and got us our car seat. that's actually the only thing one MUST have in possession before adopting. as rose is fond of saying, you can pick up the baby and make a midnight grocery store run to get a bottle and a package of diapers and a onesie to get you through the first couple days. but if you don't have a car seat, you can't pick up the baby to get the whole process started... i just miss the element of surprise.

for reasons not apparent, our air conditioner croaked right before the party. :( it made for sweaty fun, and not in the naughty way. i appreciate everyone for smiling and fanning themselves with paper plates and getting by as well as they did. it also gave me a thoroughly renewed appreciation for the impact of air conditioning on civilization (such as it is) in dallas.
After some utterly uninteresting paper-wrangling related to a staffing change at our agency, I am pleased to report that we are now On The List! We can be presented to folks who want to make adoption plans, and they can request a meeting or more information. So, holy crap! I'm excited, and nervous. Also, this part is hard because we just have to sit around in a state of readiness, with no idea when we're going to be called in to action.

I don't really have anything else to say. From this point on, it's going to be angsty with the waiting 'round these parts. If I show up wailing and tearing my hair, just pat my hair and tell me "there, there" and I'll calm down.
can't sleep.

I spent the last week at a convention in Philly. I slept, like, 4 hours a night. I ate badly, drank too much, stood around on concrete floors until my knees begged me to cut them out of my legs, and utterly failed to do any exercise whatsoever. Also, I had a fabulous time. :) Weird, huh? I only get to see these co-workers at this conference. And they didn't hold this conference last year due to the economy. So, I had a lot of catching up to do, and I enjoyed it. I even got to practice my very bad French with a very patient colleague. He was trying to sell me on the virtues of Quebec, which I think is too cold for belief. He pointed at the guy next to him, Nicolas, and told this story... "Nicolas moved from Paris to Quebec a few years ago. At the beginning of his first winter, we were leaving the office to go for lunch, and it was -15. He shivered, he bundled up, he said it was so damn cold he was going to pack up and move back to Paris as soon as possible. And then, the end of the winter rolled around. We were stepping out for lunch again, and it was -15 again. And he walked out with his coat unzipped, and said how lovely and warm the weather felt."

I think he was trying to convince me I'd get used to it. Either that, or he was trying to convince me that the cold causes dementia.

I had a wonderful visit with kristenred and ohberon, and veetor, and illian, and 2manynotes, and edabagel, and archanglrobriel this weekend. kristenred organized it all, she and the boys executed it beautifully. i just showed up and stuffed my face and told stories all night. we decided at the end of the evening that we were all too old, too full of good food, and too tired to go out clubbing in the gayborhood. maybe if we'd had a hot tub time machine and could've gone out as our '80s selves we could've pulled it off. :) every once in a while i get to bitching about how much i hate dallas because i don't have a real community here the way i have in austin. i think the little gathering this weekend kinda kicked the wind outta that particular rant. i'll go bury it in a box in the back yard and come up with some other reason to hate this plastic-molded monstrosity of a metroplex.

also, i have to get up at obscene o'clock in the morning to do a swim workout for the triathlon class. sleep is eluding me, that wicked witch. send her my way if you see her, willya?

i had a heinous workout this weekend for the triathlon thing. i was at my friend's house to pick her up so we could carpool at 6:45 AM. so you already know the day was off to a bad start. we worked out for 4 hours and i got home at 1:30 PM. it was LONG. in spite of all the struggles i had with my breathing on the swim, i think it gave me the confidence that i'll be able to actually finish the "My First Tri" race in june. keep your fingers crossed for me, ok? the last one ended ignominously with a kayak towing my asthmatic ass out of the lake. the on-staff paramedics graciously came to check me out and went off looking for some albuterol, but by the time they got their shit together, i'd been sitting on the dock long enough to get it back under control. i hadn't really thought about it until just now, but i'm pissed off about that. i could've died on that boat dock. i don't wanna think about that. i'm gonna count my blessings and go to bed now.

i'm off to try sleeping again.
hey, gang...

i've had a whirlwind of work for the past two weeks. i've been away from LJ for so long i'd forgotten what some of my own usericons were, let alone anyone else's. so, if i missed anything key, drop me a link to the entry in the comments and i'll go read up. otherwise, i'm just going to step back into the stream here and carry on like i was never away.

adoption news: we dropped off our application packet. rose cracks me up. i wrote the entirety of the 8-page adoption application in an afternoon. we had one paragraph for her that was unfinished, and she was supposed to write it up after i left town and drop the packet off. a week later... she and i sat down and i wrote the thing for her over the phone. she had two sentences describing her experiences with children and what she thought she had learned of parenting from them: "i used to babysit in college. my friends have kids and i like it when they bring them over, i usually sit at 'the kids' table.'" so we elaborated on that a bit and she finally got the thing dropped off. she had to dig around in the file cabinet to find my last three w-2 forms and my last three tax returns. they were all there, but she seemed confused by my first instruction on the topic: go to the file cabinet and pull out the folder labeled "Taxes". i will gladly admit that once inside the folder, there is no apparent organization structure. i don't have so much paperwork that i need a separate folder for each years' tax info, so i just drop it in there, usually newest in front, but sometimes the new stuff goes in the back. still, it's all in a folder, inside the file cabinet. i do not even want to know where my wife had to look to find her own w-2 and 1040 forms.

so, we're on the first step, financial review. the second step is homestudy, and that is where they will interview us, individually and as a couple, including a visit to our home. they'll check our references and run our background checks, and then we should be "on the list" and ready for someone to pick us. i am, for obvious reasons, in charge of writing the "dear birthmother" letter. rose is, also for obvious reasons, in charge of the photo montage/bio book.
hey, gang...

so for those of you who've been following the lesbian babymaking adventure, you know that the babymaking process has been outsourced. we are now lesbian babyshopping. err... adopting. i'm not allowed to say we're buying a baby, because we're not - technically, but it feels like we are. anyway, that said, i'm planning to re-open my posts on the topic because we're out of the business of possibly-squicky medical information and nothing is left but angsty waiting and squeeing with glee at the end. i'll put all the adoption stuff under a cut, so you can jump in and read if you wish, or ignore if you wish.
adoption stuff below the cutCollapse )
for those of you who are mutual friends, you know that kristenred had surgery this week. she got home tonight, but is still not up to anything other than watching her tivo. in a wicked twist of fate, her painkillers make her nauseous when she tries to focus on reading or writing. i almost accused her of laying herself out like this so she could get ahead on the writing project/competition she and guiser1 had going, but then i remembered that that was only for february. or i think it was.

anyway, kristenred had surgery and so her son, aka: the doofus, is staying with us tonight. she's doing all she can do to stay warm, stay medicated, and make like a zombie in front of her tv. i made lasagna, mushroom free, on behalf of said doofus. (total foodie aside: i had never realized how much i rely on the umami taste in mushrooms to make my sauce stand on its own two. gonna have to retool the recipe for my next attempt.) we stopped by to check on her before dinner, and she is as well as one can be after major joint surgery.

my wife made a HUGE batch of banana pudding (serves 60!) for the rugby team this weekend. part of the game is the social after the game, where we invite the visiting team to our home bar and buy a keg and cook food and sing songs together and toast each other. this is such an integral part of the culture of the sport that it's sometimes referred to as "the third half" of the game. well, rose had never made banana pudding for 60 people before, and she accidentally bought too many bananas. like 40 too many.


well, i'll tell you. they eat peanut butter/honey/banana sandwiches for lunch for two days until they're tired of that. down to only 38 bananas! then they make banana bread. and they freeze some bananas for making into banana cake later. down to only 25 bananas!

it turns out the doofus is a HUGE fan of banana pudding. so he and rose just walked over to the grocery by our house to get the ingredients, since she used up everything other than the actual bananas making for the rugby thing. and now? my sweet wife and kristenred's sweet son are puttering around in my kitchen, baking together.

his mother thinks we're spoiling him. i think he's spoiling us. :)
so... i'm trying to delay going to a lab for a blood test right now. i'm a very, very skilled professional procrastinator. accordingly, i dug up a youtube video that i've been trying to find for a very long time. this is specifically for madknits whom i adore, and whenever he talks about knitting, this song comes to mind. a little backstory... this is excerpted from Fraggle Rock, a Jim Henson tv show from my childhood. these dudes are construction workers, Doozers, who turn radishes into awesome crystalline tower complexes that are in turn eaten by Fraggles. it's more than a job for them, it's instinctive, like dwarves and mining. unfortunately, in this episode there is a radish famine, and the Doozers have to find something else to do. knit 1, purl 2, what's a doozer gonna do...

also, no offense intended to those of you who love to knit. it's just not the Doozers' thing. :)
i'm teaching again this week and it's a completely different world from last week. i have two smart, tech-savvy students who are familiar with other software of this type and have been using it hands-on in recent times. they both have good headsets for the online communication, proper computer mouse/monitor setups for the type of work, and are comfortable with using windows software in general. so this week, i'm consoling rose, who is having a miserable time mothering all her coworkers and dealing with clients who have caught a bad case of the stupids.

i found out what was causing at least part of my student's trouble last week. she was working on a pretty small laptop screen, and she didn't have a real mouse. just the touchpad. now, if you've ever done any drafting work, you'll immediately grok that this is a bad situation. if not, well... try to imagine that you've been tasked with chopping all the vegetables for my gumbo-cooking, and all you have is a butter knife. it's nominally a knife, yes. but it really was intended for a much more casual knife task than the dicing of crisp vegetables and there is a tool much better suited to the task that you should be using. this was part of why my student seemed so stupid last week. she was using the wrong tool for the job, and wasn't at all familiar with the job in the first place. by the end of the week, though, she had "gotten it". in part because there was no more drafting, and in part because she really was bright enough to figure out the analysis parts of the software.

this week i am reveling in the quality and quantity of good friendship with which i am surrounded. i've had awesome company this week and great conversations and i'm glowing with the blessing of a rich social network. life is good! i am blessed!

oh, and in other news, my iris... the one i dug up and carted with me when i had to sell and move out of my grandparents' house in austin. the one that symbolically carries all of my memories of my grandmother in the pot with it, the one that i nearly killed by over-watering it and nearly killed by under-watering it, and nearly froze by forgetting to bring it in during an ice storm last year... it is BLOOMING. for the first time in six years. for the first time since i put it into a pot, it is blooming. one gorgeous, glorious, paper-fine white bloom. rose is in charge of taking pictures. i'll post them if she ever passes them along. seriously, my life is good.
*subject line shamelessly stolen from the fabulous madknits

so, i've got a bunch o' crap rolling around in my head. and it's the middle of the night and i can't sleep. so i'm writing it all down, hopefully exhausting myself, and trying the sleep thing again soon as i'm done with this.

cold sucks. don't believe me? i'll 'splain it. cold, as an objective thing, does not exist. neither does darkness or evil, for that matter. all of these things that we talk about as though they are real things are merely shortcuts to describe the absence of some other thing that does exist. cold is the absence of heat, dark the absence of light, evil the absence of good, etc. nature abhors a vacuum, tries to fill it. so "cold" is a heat vacuum. cold tries to resolve its lack by pulling heat from nearby sources, ergo sucking. cold seems to most enjoy sucking the heat from my feet. the only times my feet have been warm in the past two weeks are when i'm standing in the shower. yes, i'm familiar with socks and shoes. no, they don't help. cold sucks right through them. it even sucks through two pairs of socks and thick-soled, stompy, biker-dyke boots.

therefore, this impending fucking blizzard? the, like, THIRD ONE THIS YEAR in dallas? it can suck my left toe. if our next winter involves this much snow, i'm learning motherfucking spanish and moving to cozumel. swear.

my niece has been officially and clinically diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. that pretty much sucks, but it's not a huge surprise at this point since it's been the presumed diagnosis for most of the past year. the doc is officially going to start seeing my other two nieces, as well. this doctor has some great success stories, but i don't know whether those are a result of the care and treatment from the doc or whether those are just dumb mitosis luck. i'm hoping to get to ask my sister a bunch of questions about it this weekend at a family wedding.

my youngest godson, age 5, was walking through the grocery store with his mom today talking about groceries and dinner and domestic crap like that. he looked around and said, "godmommy thesilia** is married to a girl!" and then carried on with the rest of the conversation. no idea what sparked that particular realization at that particular moment, and his mom said she couldn't see his face because he was looking off at something, so she doesn't even really know if he looked surprised or shocked or what. this makes me laugh, A LOT. little tyke was at my freakin' wedding reception. though, i guess four-year-olds probably don't take much notice of such things. still, it reminds me of one of those realizations of the stunningly obvious i had, somewhere along the way, that my parents HAD SEX. WITH EACH OTHER. THREE TIMES AT LEAST.

**not her real name

presently, i'm teaching a class for work. there are engineers... of a certain age, shall we say... who never did take any computer drafting classes. they never did any drawing on their computers. they've probably had AutoCAD or MicroStation on their computers for 25 years now, their IT staff faithfully upgrading them to the latest version every couple of years. but these engineers have never actually put mouse pointer to pixel to draw anything. they can sketch it on that green paper with the grid lines printed on the back. they send these to the CAD department, where some hard-working CAD monkey turns that sketch into a proper drawing, prints it, sends it upstairs, lets the engineer mark it up with a red pencil, waits for it to come back, revises it, and repeats that cycle until the project is due and it gets shipped out, flaws and all. my student in this class is one of those engineers. the first two exercises, damn my eyes, require the students to actually draw some stuff on the screen. it's about like drawing a tic-tac-toe board. this is not complicated. however, when you have stubbornly refused for 25 years to learn how to do any computer-based drawing AT ALL? when you are unfamiliar with the concept of click-and-drag? when you can't move dialog boxes around your screen because you can't figure out that you have to click on the little blue bar at the top to get them to move? these two simple exercises become torture. not for the student, who is oblivious to her inability, or who at least seems to have the good grace to be somewhat embarrassed by it and is trying to learn, but for ME. because i have spent the better part of the last two days, not discussing what you should do if you find that the net inflow to your wet well is positive when the pump is running (get a bigger pump), but that you should "click on that black blob there and hold your mouse button down. no, don't double-click on it. just click one time and keep the button held down. yes, now while holding the button down, move your mouse away to the west. no, that's north, move it to your left. yes, that's fine, now move it a little further and release the button. okay. great. now we can see that you have 8 extra points and 7 connecting lines here. they all need to be deleted. click on that first one. yes, now delete it. no, you used the undo button there. you need to press delete. so, first you need to find the redo button. yes, okay, now redo that action. yes, now go back and select that line. ok, you need to left-click on it, not right-click. good. now delete it. no, you undid it again. are you using the delete key? you should be using the delete key to delete things. Ctrl-Z is the undo command. ok. so, click on that line. yes, now press delete to delete it. right. now do that again for the remaining seven lines..."

rose had to sit me down in front of a DVD and pour scotch down my throat last night to turn me human. tonight, it was Freebird's. if it's actually a blizzard tomorrow, as predicted, i may go outside and go snowblind. when you find me, take me to the hospital, i authorize them to amputate my feet as i'm sure they'll be frostbitten beyond repair and gangrene will be setting in. if i'm clutching a wireless mouse in my hand and have the gnawed cord from my headset still in my teeth, try as gently as possible to save the mouse (it has a very nifty laser pointer you can play with!) but you can demolish the headset.
In news that is entirely not new and probably doesn't even merit the name "news" at this point, I'm still being a hermit. I have no words. I don't know why, I just don't. As this has been ongoing for a year or so, I don't know when to expect it to end. I've considered trying to make myself sit down and do a post a day sort of thing, even if it's just a grocery list. As I don't have the discipline to make myself take lifesaving asthma medicines or pregnancy-preventing birth control pills (back when that was a concern) every day, the likelihood of my sticking to a writing regimen is smaller than a nasty allergen-pooping dust-mite and quite possibly smaller than a sperm. Being a perfectionist, if I won't stick with it, I won't start it. Conundrum, you see?

Last week we took our first formal step toward the adoption process. We attended an orientation and picked up our paperwork. There is much latitude for the agencies in how they arrange the fees and what services they offer in return. I mean broader than Dallas and Fort Worth put together latitude. The research on which agency to pick has been as overwhelming as figuring out whether we wanted to adopt in the first place.

The agency we've chosen was recommended by friends, but research backs it up and my feeling about it is positive. More importantly, since I'm one of those stereotypical engineers who traded in what little intuition i had for the diploma, Rose has a positive feeling about them, too. There are a number of agencies, so i hear, that treat prospective adoptive parents like so many red-shirts on a starship. This agency is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, but they seem to try to protect the financial and emotional interests of the adoptive parents as much as can be done given the great uncertainty under which they work.

Aside from their financial policies, the staff at the office did a thorough job making us all comfortable about the sometimes-sticky topic of expressing our preferences. How hard can it be to express your preferences? It's just some ticky boxes on a form, right? Nearly anonymous? Well, it IS hard. Most of the people who find themselves in the offices of an adoption agency have been through an infertility struggle already by the time they get there. Once you've spent the year or two or three that most people spend working through infertility, the mindset that you can't be too choosy and you're running out of time starts to really take hold. On the one hand, you want a "good" child, whatever that means to you, and on the other, you've spent so many nights in the dark making deals with your god and yourself and your hormonal clock that you're willing to take on any child, just to fill the hole in your arms. Traffic engineers have a word for this phenomenon: gap acceptance. It means that the longer you sit trying to merge into busy traffic passing you by, the smaller an open window in that traffic you think you need. Your insistence on margins of safety drops as your impatience rises.

The same thing happens with adoption. The longer you've been trying to make it happen, the less picky about HOW and WHEN and AT WHAT COST you become. One thing agencies make abundantly clear to you when you're asking them how long this might take is that the choosier you are, the longer it will be. The agency orientation lady had amusing stories to tell about couples waiting two years for a baby with blonde-haired, blue-eyed birth parents, and ending up with a dark-haired child even so.

We have no criteria for sex or race, our families are open and accepting and so are we. But then, what about maternal drug use? What if the mother fails a drug test? What if she admits to drinking? Smoking? turns up HIV+? Has Herpes? You have to quantify just how okay you are with all of these things and various handicaps and birth defects, too.

This shit is hard. And we haven't even gotten to the "how do I get them to sleep through the night" stage, let alone potty training or being a teenager.
GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO!  because that is pretty much all i'm obsessed with.  i'm too mellow to freak out or obsess over anything less crucial to life than gumbo, really.  accordingly, i'm a complete and total waste of weed.  the only difference between a baked thesilia and a non-baked thesilia is that the baked thesilia keeps her eyelids closed.

so, i was excited and happy to run across a gumbo article on one of my favorite reading spots on the web, the Interesting Thing Of The Day.  <a href="http://itotd.com/articles/452/gumbo/">Here is the article in question.</a> and for those of you unaware of ITOTD, you really oughta think about adding it to your iGoogle home page.  they have a marvelous ticker that offers you fresh links to articles about interesting things on a daily basis.  always short, never commercial, interesting whether you're into the topic or not.  really perfect for the jill-of-all-trades.  or even the jack, if you're into that sort of thing.  :)

and, in case you skip all the link-clicking and avoid ITOTD henceforth, it makes the point (which should probably be the 12th commandment) that okra without gumbo is like oatmeal without oats.  you can call it "thick cajun-style soup over rice" but you can't call it gumbo without the okra.  srsly.  in case you're new around here, the 11th commandment is: First, make a roux.  by which we mean that you must FIRST make a roux, before you add anything to it, you have to finish the roux.  also, you must MAKE a roux, you cannot buy one in a jar and act like you have just cooked gumbo with it.  you've assembled something, but you didn't cook gumbo.  and then, you have to make A ROUX.  it consists of oil and flour, not any other ingredients.  variations on type of oil and type of flour are infinite, but those are the only ingredients allowed.  thank you, this has been your Catechism a la Thibodeaux for the day.

so, one of the things that they recently added to World of Warcraft is the ability to make your character a jack-of-all-trades.  or, really, a jack-of-two-trades.  but whatever, it's more than you could do before.  before, you were either a tank (big brick who kept the bad guy's attention), or a DPS (skinny little guy who killed the bad guy while his attention was on the brick), or a healer (hander-outer of bandaids to the bricks and any slow-moving little guys who drew too much attention to themselves).  you could, in some limited situations, force yourself into a role that was not your primary.  but not well, not for long, and certainly not in any kind of really challenging situation.

and now, you can.  so i have traditionally been a ranged DPS (skinny guy killing bad guys from a distance).  this is lots of fun and i'm pretty good at it.  recently, i added hander-outer of bandaids to my list of tricks.  and i healed naxx. (translation: handed out bandaids under difficult conditions)  9-man. (i mean REALLY difficult)  it was extremely awesome and it made me frolic mirthsomely.  (i was so happy i chair-danced.)
hey, i have a sizeable number of friends around here who are some orientation other than straight.  if you would be so kind, there's a friend-of-a-friend of mine doing graduate research on the workplace climate for GLBTQI folk.  it's a short survey, so just hop on over to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=uqmzZRKmxilxsGv_2bEOdKiw_3d_3d  and click through.


ETA:  feel free to pass this along!

not feeling internetty much.  i'm a hermit and i'm staying a hermit.  nothing's wrong, i just don't have words.

my niece is doing really well.  she had day surgery today to repair a little problem with her gastric tube, and it all went well.  we were worried about her response to the anesthesia, but it all went fine.  she got really put out when they tried to take her out of her hospital gown, started crying and clutching "my dress!" "my dress!"  so the staff just let her wear it home.  sweet of them. 

riding the motorcycle a lot in this lovely weather, spending lots of time with rose.  it's been good.

hope all's well with all y'all.
hey, all... i'm still being a hermit.  i wish i knew why, i wish i had the motivation to do something different about it, but i don't.  and when you don't have words inside you, blogging/journaling is about the last thing you need to be doing.  at least, in any public way...  i'm flashing back to some of the awful, overwrought, angsty garbage i wrote in my diary as a teenager.  wow, was i overwrought.

so, if you miss me, thanks.  if you wish i would update more, i assure you, you don't want to see what i've had to say lately.  not even my own mama wants to see the stuff i've had to say lately.

niece-wise, good news: the baby niece is back home.  she was in the hospital in houston for a week and a half enduring round after round after round of tests.  she had a very difficult time recovering from the lumbar puncture (aka: This Is Spinal Tap!).  they ultimately had to do a minor surgery (i think it's called a blood patch) to stop her spinal fluid from leaking out after the procedure.  it was a very difficult hospital stay for her, and she's already had more morphine and valium in the last 10 days than i've ever had in my entire life.  nobody has any answers yet, and it'll be several more weeks before all these tests come back.  the thing is, some of it points very squarely at mitochondrial disease, and other parts point at other things, like metabolic disorders or Something Else Entirely.  if you pray, please keep praying: discernment for her medical team, grace and strength for her family, resilience and good cheer and good health for her.  these are the things we need most.

lest i leave you with a very "debbie downer" impression, i was over at her house delivering homemade cookies the night she got in from the hospital, and she babbled and chattered, played with her folks and with me, smiled and danced around the kitchen, and generally behaved like a ray of sunshine.  she's got resilience in spades and is a very sweet kid.

and that's all the news from lake wobegon.  :)
i still have no desire to post.  i have nothing to say.  sometimes i get almost wound up enough to make a post, but by the time i get half of it written, i'm over whatever i was writing about.

furthermore, with my niece in the hospital this week, i'm struggling to find the relevance of my little whines/rants/jokes/mental meanderings. 

niece news:  they're in the hospital this week in houston, at the behest of the mitochondrial specialist they saw there recently.  when joy asked to delay this visit by a week, the doctor said she didn't think they have that much time to waste.  so they're in the hospital in houston.  they've run a battery of neuro tests (EEG, MRI, lumbar puncture - aka: spinal tap) and they're waiting for results.

because nothing with this baby can ever go in a routine, normal fashion, her lumbar puncture is not healing.  it continues to drain cerebrospinal fluid, leaving her with a whopping headache.  i don't know how much time you've spent around babies experiencing headaches, but the only thing she really needs to do in order to heal up that spinal puncture is to lie still and flat on her back.  babies with headaches don't do that.

so in order to get her to lie still and flat (and to relieve her headache) they're putting her on morphine.  *sigh* 

so i don't want to write about what i did today, or my daffodils that are blooming, or my tulips that are new, or my irises that are resolutely refusing to flower.  i don't want to write about how rose is in austin this week and i got so spooked by the windstorm last night rattling the doors and windows that i picked up a club and played WoW until 3 am with a club in my lap.  And I really don't want to talk about getting my poor feelings hurt by silly shit in the road trip cancellation department.

keep my sister in your prayers, please.  the baby is already in god's hands, but her parents are having a fucking difficult time right now, and they need all the support and love they can get.
played rugby this weekend.  i've got a swollen knee to show for it, but we had very good times.  we hosted the visiting team and they were sweet kids and it was fun to have them around for the weekend.  i am officially old and decrepit, as i gave them directions to the bar but didn't even bother myself to shower.  i just hobbled off to bed with my walker and my geritol.  not that there's anything wrong with that...

spent sunday distracting my nieces while my sister and her husband had a little alone time.  that was also fun, and i am totally Eve-ah! from WALL-E.  at least, if you ask the little redheaded one, i am.  and we are Taking It To The Axiom!!!  find a discarded flag used to mark buried cable? take it to the axiom!  find a cigarette butt on the playground?  take it to the axiom!  find a piece of the plastic liner to your sandbox?  take it to the axiom!  and also, hide it from the Auto Pilot.  occasionally, the redhead morphs from being WALL-E into being the Auto Pilot, in which case i must then hide myself from her.  it passes the time.

you would not believe how ridiculously happy 3 year olds get when confronted by animatronic gorillas and cheetahs and crocodiles.  we took them to Rainforest Cafe for supper and they squee-ed themselves silly.  plus?  they got to take home balloon animals, which was just about the perfect day for them.  if i don't start insisting on some better dietary habits when i visit them, they're going to start calling me aunt pizza, i'm sure of it.

health update on the baby niece: they give her valium every night at 6 to forestall the seizures that would run from 6 to 10 without such intervention, in spite of the anti-seizure medication she's on.  she sleeps wearing a pulse oximeter and an oxygen mask.  they keep the oxygen on overnight, but sometimes have to turn up the feed rate when the meter goes off.  this prevents her from turning blue in her sleep.  she does not have a staph infection in her gastric tube site, although it is developing some funky scarring.  they're able to keep it clean.  her favorite toy is a baby doll the family has named (Calamity) Jane.  the doll turns red with fever and coughs when you "check her pulse" by squeezing her hand.  she only stops this if you stick a syringe to her butt or a stethoscope to her chest.  my sister sowed a spare g-tube on the baby and put a pulse-oximeter lead on her toe, so now they show what's going to happen using Jane before they do nursing care on my niece.  it alleviates some of the weirdness and anxiety.  and my niece LOVES that baby.  i'm sad that it's necessary, but happy that there's a way to communicate all this complicated medical shit to a child who only just gets the alphabet song.
i'm not posting much right now.  every time i feel like coming in here to rant about some silly thing i usually come here to rant about, i think about what's going on in my sister's life and with my niece's health.  and, honestly, my little pile of crap just evaporates.  it just goes away.

the latest news on my niece is that she's not in critical condition, and nobody knows if she's in a terminal condition or not.  she has a gastric tube and almost all of her food and all of her medicine is going through it.  she eats brisket sometimes, and drinks juice gleefully.  that's about it for oral introduction of anything.

at night, when she's falling asleep, she tends to slip into seizures on that border of waking-sleeping.  if they're going to have to give her valium to stop the seizures, that's when it happens.  my sister now recognizes the difference between turning-over-and-rustling-the-sheets and having-a-seizure-and-rustling-the-sheets when she hears it on the baby monitor.

when she gets into a deep sleep, her body tries gamely to repair itself.  her mitochondria are the malfunctioning bits of her body and because they are also the body's equivalent of electric plants, she goes into the biological equivalent of a brownout at night.  that's what has been causing her to turn so very blue, as far as the doctors can tell.  so they have a pulse oximeter at home, and an oxygen tank.  the baby sleeps with an oxygen mask on and one parent sleeps on a twin bed across the room in case the monitor goes off and the oxygen feed needs to be increased.

nobody knows if this is permanent, or temporary, or how long it can be sustained.  there is more testing on the horizon, but it needs to be done when she's in the depths of a "floppy" episode where she's lost her muscle tone because her mitochondria can't keep up with her muscles' need for energy.  nobody wants her to have one, but without the episode there are no tests and thus no results.  what the hell do you pray for in a case like that?  what do you visualize as a beneficial outcome?

i feel guilty as sin because i don't want to go over there and see it.  i don't want to be forcibly reminded of it and have to think of it and feel it and deal with it.  i have never been the kid who organized or volunteered for hospital visitation, or nursing home visits, or anything of the sort.  it hurts the hell out of my heart to see the mortality of strangers, it breaks my heart to see it in my niece.  but i go.  sometimes i wait until they call and ask for help, but i always go.  because as hard as it is for me, it's harder for my sister.  she lives with it all day every day, and i don't know how the hell she does it.  i think i would crumble.
hey, gang...  i wish i were posting good news about my niece.  not so much, really.

she had a doctor's visit yesterday in Cleveland, OH with a guru up there who specializes in mitochondrial disease.  he had some good news on the general medical front, in that there have been some major research breakthroughs in the last 6 months alone that have really helped in our ability to identify specific genes in the mitochondrial DNA.  also, he's quite familiar with my sister's autoimmune disease, CIDP, and he says he has seen strong correlation between it and mitochondrial DNA problems.

the grim news is that my niece started having seizures on the plane on the way home from Cleveland, and she's in the hospital again, heavily sedated.  they're trying to stop the seizures.

please keep the family in your thoughts/prayers/meditations/good vibe sendings or whatever you've got to offer in the way of positive, healing energy.  we're worried, we're sad, we can use all the uplift we can get.  thank you.
as you may surmise from the subject line, i'm going to write about poorly designed and illogical items today. or rant.

i have this coffee maker. it's got a superb thermal carafe that i like because the coffee stays warm into the afternoon. if i get distracted and don't finish it off in the morning, the coffee is warm, but not scorched or condensed to pitch when i get around to finishing it.

that is the sole redeeming quality of the infernal monster.

it has a reasonably simple timer on it that i'm competent to set, as long as it's night time and i'm awake. that's reasonable, i only ever want to set the pot to brew on a timer at night when i'm planning to get up early the next day. however, EVERY SINGLE TIME i have attempted to use the timer feature on it, something has gone wrong. and i don't mean "wrong" in the mild sense that i had to wake up and push the brew button because i'm not competent to set the timer, i mean WRONG in the sense that a zombified, decaffeinated me has to wipe the counter and wring coffee out into a cup to drink it. this abysmal, cantankerous beast of a coffee maker pees all over the kitchen if i dare to leave it unattended. so after i've had my towel-infused coffee, i still have to clean the kitchen counters, floors, cabinets, drawers, etc. then i have to make another pot so i'll have a second cup.

sometimes, it will pee all over the counter even when i stay and hold its hand while it perks. this is definitely its most aggravating feature. second-most-aggravating is the very particular way you have to pour from the carafe to make the coffee go where the spout is pointed. if you don't have all the iron filings in your body aligned just so, the coffee just runs down the front of the carafe and goes all over the counter. either way, coffee on the counter... it's enough to make me chew coffee beans.

rose has been managing the coffee pot for most of the last two years. i think it's the only animal in the house that likes her better than me, because it never pees on the counter on her watch, but she can't work the timer.

today was the last straw. i set the pot up to brew, did all the stupid little checks to ensure it wouldn't go off the rails and spew coffee all over the room, and waited while it started brewing to make sure it was going smoothly. and when i came back a few minutes later to get a cuppa? you guessed it. coffee and grounds all over the countertop. i think in this analogy, that counts as peeing and pooping on my counter.

so today, i'm going out to buy a new fscking coffee maker that i can operate without having to drink a pot of coffee first. and it'll have a thermal carafe.
i have a strict policy of never e-mailing something if the recipient could forward it on someday and wreck my life. thus, i delighted in this little snippet that i found tonight, knowing that it's the sort of thing i would love to write and would be too afraid to send, for fear it might make it around the world and back to someone i love. the fact that i love them does not mean i might never find occasion to say such a thorny thing about them. in fact, it probably makes the thorniness more likely.

so, for your snarky, love-but-don't-always-like amusement, i present someone else's words:
i think the doctor might be put off if i write "batshit crazy" down for all my aunts and uncles on both sides, but it's tempting, especially if i gave them each a tempering adjective (kindly batshit crazy, loveably batshit crazy, acidly batshit crazy, jealously batshit crazy, etc.). even more is singling out uncle xxxxxx for "particularly obstinately batshit crazy". if you ever bring this up at a family reunion, i will pretend you made it up. i do love them all, but sometimes they are fully insane. i suppose they all think we're loony too, so it's fair.
hey, gang. i've really enjoyed my time away from the grind, away from the internet, and away from clocks. alas, it couldn't last. i spent new year's eve reminding myself of the following lessons:
  1. thou shalt not drink champagne. much.
  2. even if it is made to taste like sour warheads candy.
  3. grrrrrl, you canNOT sing disco.
  4. do we even need to tell you what a bad combination karaoke and champagne cocktails are?
  5. ABBA counts as disco.
  6. if the champagne starts to taste good, refer to rule 1.

nothing ridiculous, but i had one champagne too many. flying to the coast the next day was a little unpleasant, but i was right as rain in time to eat my mom's King Ranch Chicken that night at the beach. the next day i performed my glittering duty as the gumbo fairy and made a great sausage/chicken/oyster gumbo that we noshed on for two days. rose and i were intrepid pioneer cooks in an under-equipped kitchen, though. i melted two spatulae (spatulas?) trying to make the roux in the microwave. she had to squeeze a dozen limes by hand for the pie, and we resorted to nuking them, too. who ever heard of dry limes? we had to do all our cooking with only two small mixing bowls, and we had to share those with my dad and his personal mission to boil off 10 lbs. of shrimp in three days. he kept hijacking our bowls to thaw shrimp in, or to ice them after he cooked them. one way or another, i kept having to rescue my bowls from icy shrimp.

my niece is ok and at home again. her presumptive diagnosis is mitochondrial disease. she has a gastric tube now, as it is expected that she will pass through periods of not-eating for the rest of her life. her geneticist suspects that my other nieces' odd health issues are likely caused by this condition, as well. mitochondrial DNA comes exclusively from the mother, so the transmission rate is 100% from a mother to all her offspring. so it's likely my sister has it, and that could be part of why she has had a lifetime of weird allergies and (most recently) CIDP. if that's the case, then my other sister's auto-immune condition is likely related. and that means i've probably got it, too. mitochondrial disease can be, and frequently is, caused by random mutations in the mitochondrial DNA. since you only get that type of DNA from your mom, it's not subject to the sorts of dominant/recessive checks and balances that limit transmission of most hereditary diseases.

nobody knows how long my niece has to live or how this will progress. of course, that's true for all of us, and even knowing or believing that death isn't the ultimate bad, or even the ultimate END, i still feel sad knowing this about such a young life. the only treatments for mitochondrial disease currently are to keep the symptoms as quiet as possible. you can sometimes limit the systemic damage that way and give the person a better quality/quantity of life.

this is where we get to the "and more" part. it raises questions about my ability to have healthy children. i haven't abandoned the plan yet, but step 0.5 is now a genetic consult. i'm going to put all further discussion of lesbian baby-making behind a filter, and it's strictly opt-in. if you want in the filter, leave a comment to that effect. i expect that there will be a lot more joy in the process once this cloud has been dealt with one way or another.

Happy New Year to one and all!
my niece got her gastric tube yesterday. it went fine, and she sailed through surgery ok.

they gave her an IV bag full of lactated ringers after the surgery. i know that's pretty common, i seem to recall it being in most every IV i've ever had and pretty nearly every one i've seen on another person. unfortunately, it can be toxic to people with mitochondrial disease, which is the presumptive diagnosis for my niece. luckily my sister noticed and shut off the IV and got a nurse to change it out. no word yet on what (if any) damage occurred or what the consequences will be.

just pray.
I had a blessèd Chanukristmas holiday with rose and my baby sister and my dad out at his lake house. I finally got everything together so that I could make him the shrimp/oyster gumbo that he's been after all along. I even managed to keep the hooligans from dipping into it too early, so I was able to simmer it on the stove all of Christmas day. And I had the materials and time needed to make homemade shrimp stock to put in it. It was my very best ever. I even got to learn a spot of Spanish when I went shopping. Turns out the deli counter employees at the El Rancho grocery next door don't speak much English. They called a lady over from the seafood counter and she translated. So now I can get chorizo para asar whenever Whole Foods runs out of Andouille.

Please keep my baby niece in your prayers. She got a Gastric tube put in today at 4 PM. We're still waiting to hear how surgery and recovery went, but it's good news that they were able to get her in so soon. It's saved them several days of waiting in the hospital, and it means that if she won't eat, they can still get her some nutrition without need of a tube up her nose. I can't imagine trying to convince an 18-month-old baby that they needed to leave a nasal tube in their face with anything short of a heavy sedative.

Keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
hey, gang... please continue to keep my niece in your thoughts and prayers. the test results we were hoping for to give us some answers got fouled up. there was human error somewhere along the way, so we still don't know exactly what's going on. the doctors are loath to diagnose with certainty until another specialist can be called in or the test can be repeated.

to complicate things, the little nugget stopped eating about a week ago. also, she's periodically been turning blue. they managed to check her oxygen saturation levels once when it happened while they were at a doctor's office and her O2 sat is getting down in the 80% range during these spells. they don't know why, but suspect it's related to the aortic valve problem that turned up during the last round of hospitalization and testing.

as of this morning, she's in the hospital. officially, that's just so they can have her near oxygen support if she needs it, but while she's there, she's going to have a nasogastric tube for feeding and an IV for ... hydration or whatever else she seems to need.

please keep the family in your prayers. this wasn't spurred by anything acute or critical, and she's not in critical care. she's not doing terrifically well, either. just pray or send your good energies or think positive thoughts our way, if you have some to spare.

ETA: i was just up at the hospital, visiting and dropping off some of rose's homemade cherry pie for my sister. the baby has started eating again, just in time to avoid getting the NG tube, but she probably will have to do a swallowing test, just to rule out some sort of obstruction or foreign object in her GI tract. yea!
first, a change of convention. when i started this little place on the internet, i was dating several people and i didn't have permission to write about all of them by name. so i called them by initials when i did need to write about them. i'm in a monogamous and committed relationship now with p, which you know if you've been here for more than 2 seconds. so it's time for the letter to give way to the name. p is for rose, and from now on i'll be calling her rose. :) if you're curious why "p" was the initial for rose, it's because i was dating another girl whose first initial was also "r". so i had to use their last names to distinguish them. don't be sad for the other "r" girl. she moved off to chicago and is in a committed and monogamous and happy relationship with a girl who is stunningly similar to rose. we would never have worked out because we weren't looking for each other, we were both looking for our version of rose.

last night was the first night of hanukkah, so we celebrated with rose's family. we were originally going to be in charge of the sufganiot (jelly doughnuts) since rose is a great baker and, although i know doughnuts are fried, they involve yeast dough which is definitely a baker's provenance. i am not a baker. that could be because my mom (who taught me most of my culinary skills) doesn't have the patience to spoon cookies out on a sheet, let alone wait for dough to rise. or it could be because i've made cookies that came out like muffins and biscuits that came out like cookies more times than i can count. i don't really know, but i have a long-standing preference for eating the cookie dough without ever putting it into the oven.

my job was to sit at the table in the breakfast nook and double the recipe for her while she and our friend brian did the baking. despite her claims to the contrary, rose is not terribly patient. she got frustrated with the dough a few times and was dismayed at how much flour (beyond what the recipe called for) had to be added to bring it to the right consistency. so i talked her down from the edge a couple times and kept adding flour while she tried to peel gooey dough from between her fingers. also, she was ready to fry the little boogers almost as soon as the dough was mixed. i'm not a good baker, but i'm religious about following baking recipes, so i enforced the 2-hour rise time. i kept her busy by taking over the kitchen and making her sit at the table to keep me company while i cooked lunch. brian served as my faithful sous chef while rose checked the dough every 20 minutes to see if it was ready already.

originally, it was just the sufganiot that we were in charge of. somehow we got roped into doing the latkes, too. this was more up my alley, though, so i didn't mind. latkes are potato cakes, kinda like hash browns, but spiced with onions and garlic and held together with eggs and matzo meal. we borrowed a food processor from her parents so we wouldn't have to grate potatoes by hand, and that was a good thing. apparently her family has a saying, "it's not latkes until someone loses a knuckle!" and her dad sent us off with the cuisinart with the parting shot, "remember, i'm giving you this so i don't end up with fingers in my potatoes!" i like to think my cooking always has an element of excitement to it, but this level of risk of bodily harm was new to me. i was ready to ask him if i could borrow his chainmail butcher's glove.

anyway, the latkes came out perfect and my fingers are still intact. her folks gave us big kudos on the latkes. her dad, while stuffing his face with sufganiot, admonished rose that she definitely should have given the dough a second proofing. since all the doughnuts disappeared, i don't think it was so bad.

oh, and patience? rose was trying to use ziploc bags fitted with metal tips to inject the jelly filling for the doughnuts. she got in a hurry, squeezed too hard, and squirted jelly across the kitchen and lodged the metal cake decorating tip deep inside the doughnut. we had a pile of laughs watching her try to dig the tip out of the doughnut and then get all the jelly back inside it.

ultimately, we gathered with the family in the kitchen, rose's dad lit the hanukkah candles, and we sat down to eat all the goodness. it's a long way from the traditions i grew up with, but i feel honored to be included. learning is fun. so are jelly doughnuts.

this is the recipe we used for the sufganiot.

and here are the latkes my favorite thing about the latke how-to is that it includes troubleshooting tips. it's likely the reason i never got anywhere with baking is the absence of a teacher or troubleshooting guide. how do you learn to bake right if you don't know what you did wrong to make your biscuits come out flat?
i was reading a friend's LJ yesterday. might've been madknits but i can't be dead certain and it's 4:30 AM, so i'm damn skippy not gonna go look it up. one of the commenters averred that he just hated christmas carols. to him, they embodied all the suck of his upbringing. i can see how such a thing could happen. the tunes are just about hammered into your head year by year if you have to spend any time whatsoever in public spaces, elevators, or within earshot of a radio through the holidays. these times tend to form lasting memories, and the association could be powerful.

for some reason, i'm immune to this. or, i'm lucky to have delightful memories, even if my childhood wasn't gumdrops by day and flying ponies by night. i'm not sure how best to describe it. when i was a wee kiddie, let's say 8 years of age, my mom bought a piano off a teacher at our school who was going through a rough divorce and needed the money. the teacher even came over and gave us all some basic piano lessons. between that and music classes in school i could pick out melodies on a keyboard from that point on. that's basically my ONLY piano skill, to this day, but it's not useless. the other thing my mom bought about that time was a christmas carol book. so, of course, i dedicated myself to "practicing" because, although i wasn't in formal lessons, i knew you had to practice to be able to play piano. that much, i had picked up from TV.

so i spent the next 7 or so christmas seasons plunking out melodies on the keyboard, and memorizing every last word to every last verse of all the songs in the book. except, for some reason, for "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day". i never could get into that song. the rest of them, however, i love. i'm not necessarily into the mythology, but i'm always moved by the melodies. and i'm impressed with the devotion that inspired the lyrics. the ones that most get me extol peace and the grandeur of creation. and, except for "santa baby" and few other such modern travesties, i just adore christmas music. particularly songs that would be deemed "carols". those are my favorites. and because i'm a nerd, i always prefer the latin versions of the lyrics, where available.

what about you? love 'em? hate 'em? when did you start feeling that way?

total aside for those following along at home: my niece is out of the hospital and feeling better. still no diagnosis, but she's well enough to be mad at her mother for restraining her during two days of poking and prodding in the hospital. keep the prayers/thoughts/good vibes coming her way. and sincerest thanks.
my little niece, Rebecca, is in deteriorating health. This is exactly in line with the previous episode she had, but the docs want her in the hospital for the more intensive monitoring available there. please keep her and her parents in your prayers/thoughts/meditations/etc.

I'm out of town this week in Mt. Laurel, NJ. It breaks my heart to be so far away, but I'm grateful that her father is in town and able to stay with her big sisters this week.

Friday night I had the distinct pleasure of babysitting for these precious girls, putting them to bed with a book and a kiss. (We read Llama, Llama Red Pajama.) Rebecca woke up crying in the middle of the night and I picked her up to soothe her. I carried her up and down the hall and through the living room, singing Christmas Carols and lullabyes and choking back tears. Finally, she calmed back down and I took the longest possible time carrying her back upstairs and laying her back into her bed.

I dread the diagnosis, because there is a very good chance that it will come back a death sentence. This sweet little bundle of life, who lay on my chest and worked out the last of her fear of waking alone in the dark, she who barely knows how to walk, could be gone from our lives in just a few months. If the worst diagnosis comes in, she'll have until her "tween" years at best. She just learned how to sing along to "Old McDonald"... she fills in the E-I-E-I-O, and the word "cow". And she may not have two more years left to her. I am so breathtakingly sad when I think of it, I can only imagine how her parents feel.

This sucks. I know death is not really "the end" but it still feels to me like we're being cheated of her company too soon. Nobody knows that for sure yet, so we hope and we pray. But still, all I can say is "it sucks" and all I can feel is hot tears.
so i did a long, thoughtful post in the usual place about a misdirected e-mail i got. there's this OTHER thesilia (not her actual name) who lives in houston and leads a bible study with her husband who has a name so redneckity that i am hard pressed not to mock it publicly right here. note that i'm not mocking this lady or her bible study, just her husband's name, which happens to be the same as one of my cousin's names. i'm afraid that we're related. anyway, this other me got one of those "rah!rah!we're the majority and we're right and everyone else can suck it!" sorts of e-mails about Christmas and how Christians should shout "MERRY CHRISTMAS" at everyone to show their faith and that they're not afraid of the PC Police.

it irritated the skin right off my eyelids just reading it. it was racist, and fundamentalist, and it deplored the fact that people don't have "Christmas" events in public schools because "it might hurt somebody's feelings".

i really wanted to reply in full liberal fury, spewing flaming latte from my fingertips and firing PC bolts out of my eyeballs. but i didn't. i went the route of "you don't have to be wrong for me to be right" and suggested politeness as an alternative to militancy.

but here's what i'm curious about, and this intersects with a book i read recently, Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. she talks in the book about how lonely it was to be muslim in southern california at christmas time in the years before much of her family immigrated to the US. i have no firsthand experience with such a feeling. p is jewish and so she's got some more experience of it, but as ms. dumas points out, her jewish friends always had hanukkah to celebrate around that time of year so they didn't feel quite so left out. they had temples to attend, while her family had no mosque, at least in the early years.

do you have any experience being the religious minority? as a child? as an adult? do you have any stories you'd share with me about it? if you feel alienated, does it mitigate the feeling of alienation when public entities use "happy holidays" in place of "merry christmas"? what if it's not a public entity, but your employer? your direct supervisor? your friends at the bar/water cooler/coffee shop?
everybody who reads this, please just say a prayer today for my niece. her name is Rebecca, if that helps you to know it. she is having a scary episode with her health right now, and it is overwhelmingly sad for me to think of this sweet baby going through such a difficult thing. while you're at it, her parents (Joy and Tom) could use a big pile of uplift, too. if you're not the praying sort, but you meditate or send positive vibes or good energy or any analogous thing, i would appreciate you shining your light her way today.

i am periodical, grumpy, and cramping. grrrrr!

i am also full of homecooked comfort food from Kel's Kitchen, because if i did not go out for lunch, i was going to eat cold ravioli out of a can. i wasn't even going to put it in a bowl first. and that would've made me grumpier than i am, but not as grumpy as cooking. harrumph.

furthermore, this cold weather was not authorized. it can go now, or i'll call the border patrol and have it detained until i have time to extradite it back to canuckistan. dammit.
...and the Lord lickèd the spoon and He spake and behold, it was good.

i went over to make gumbo for my aunt and her houseful of hungry persons today. my cousin-who-eats had casually remarked to his mom that she needed to learn how to make gumbo. shortly after that, she contacted me for a gumbo recipe, which i think she knew i had because her other child (we'll call her cousin-who-reads for a reason that's about to be obvious) reads my blogs on occasion. and... i have a wee obsession with blogging about gumbo. i can say that without giggling at the harshness of the understatement, but only if i bite my tongue. hard. it helps if i stuff a piece of andouille and a slice of okra in my mouth.

i started teaching my aunt a few weeks ago at my dad's place, but the roux was slow and the hour was late and she sacked out before i was done cooking. furthermore, it was a pretty bland gumbo because it didn't have any really OOMPHY ingredients in it. it was just barely gumbo, really. kinda like those tacos that you get in connecticut, y'know? nominally, it's a taco. tastewise, it's a hamburger with a crunchy bun. this was a little closer to gumbo than yankee tacos because it DID have a good whack of cajun spices, but it was a little bland.

so tonight i was finishing up the lesson, and i tried out the microwave roux technique that i had read about on the intartubez while searching up a vegetarian gumbo recipe. i made one critical mistake, but it merely slowed my progress. it did not wreck the roux, so there was gumbo by the end of the night. so, dear internet, you have steered me right on this one occasion. but don't think i've forgiven you for that goatse thing. still, microwave roux, whodathunkit? it speeds the process up so it takes about a tenth the time to make without violating my constitutional principles the way storebought roux does. and there were lots of OOMPHY ingredients, like smoky sausage and mushrooms and homemade turkey stock. yum!

also fun? my cousin-who-reads has been married for several years. i didn't get to meet her husband, despite numerous near-misses and planned encounters, until about two weeks ago at my wedding reception. he and i were snuffleupaguses to each other for almost 4 years. and tonight he was my sous chef! he chopped, deboned, sliced, strained, stirred and cleaned as i cooked. it was wonderful... and he was a joy to work with. i see why my cousin-who-reads loves him. he and i have made tentative plans to go on a food adventure sometime.

in completely unrelated news, i'm totally steamed that the vatican's emissary to the UN is opposing a resolution that the EU is about to propose which would ban using the death penalty. what?!?! yeah, the vatican is opposing a (non-binding, i think) resolution barring the use of the death penalty because it would specifically address imprisonment and execution of homosexuals in those countries where homosexuality is illegal. the vatican's UN emissary literally said that the holy see would oppose the resolution because it could be used in future to force the issue of relationship recognition for homosexuals. i'm firmly resisting the temptation to get really partisan here, but i assure you that i have a totally hyperbolic, bitingly cynical zinger to add to the end of this. and i'm not saying it because pissing off my catholic friends is not productive. but if you catch me in a private rant, i might let fly.
p and i had our reception a couple of weeks ago. we had my gay ex-boyfriend from high school staying over with us, along with our new roommate. so my family stayed in a hotel. i was happy and i feel not a whit of guilt. friday night we had raw oysters, shrimp etouffe, and copious quantities of wine and watched the Sex and the City movie. i realize that i'm the second-to-last person in the first world to see it, but i haven't watched TV in about 4 years, so i missed most of the show. the movie was fine. it's basically a buddy-movie for girls. there were lots of children and wedding and real estate moments, and very little sex. when did the show turn into "Real Life in the City" instead of Sex ITC?

that said, we had a great party on saturday night. my family was there, p's family was there, loads of friends were there. it was a really big deal that p's dad came. we were both a little surprised. he's been very kind to me in person and has grudgingly accepted p's use of the word "we" when describing her activities. but he's been strongly resistant to formally acknowledging that our relationship is ... i dunno ... real? valid? substantive? there was some kerfuffle at a family gathering in new york earlier this year wherein one of p's cousins asked him about our wedding in canada in front of some family who didn't know p was gay. or something. it apparently made him feel really weird, and he had to admit that he'd skipped his daughter's wedding. of course, depending on the strictness of the family, they should either berate him for skipping the wedding or berate him for acknowledging her existence at all. every time i run up against this sort of thing, i go back to that anna sewell quote that i had as my e-mail sig for a while: "There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham." if your religion tells you, on one hand, about the reconciliation of joseph and his family, and on the other to disown your children and treat them as the dead ... how do you reconcile that? how do you cling so tightly to a principle given to you by someone else that you will cast away your own child? i don't get it at all.

of course, p's dad is well past the casting away part, but he's not fully down with the embracing thing, either. so it was amazing to see him at the reception, and even moreso that he had a good time socializing.

that's all a lot heavier than i planned on it being. so i'm gonna go back and force myself to do this last half-day of work before holiday-itis takes over and i can't be arsed to do anything smarter than drink eggnog.
there is a woman i work with. she is not a good teacher. she just spent 10 minutes on the weekly conference call telling me all the ways in which i'm doing it wrong.

the one time i've gotten to observe her teaching, she literally read word for word everything on the slides she presented. she offered no interpretation, she made no explanation of why the material was there or how it was relevant to itself or anything else. she simply flipped through a skeletal slide show and read the bullet points. word for word. to engineers.

my complaint wasn't that the tool is incapable of being used to field student questions, which is what she kept telling me how to do. my complaint is that the tool stifles the sort of discussion that is the POINT of having an instructor-led training. the tool reduces me to a live recording with an online-chat-based tech support function. i like to teach because i like the energy exchange between myself and a room full of people. i like the feedback i get from the audience, and a blinking smiley face icon in 10x10 pixels is NOT a substitute for that. i felt like i poured my energy out all over the keyboard and microphone all week and i only got a return on that for about 3 minutes of the 4 hour session when a brave soul would venture to ask a conjectural question.

seriously, it's like trying to converse with deaf people when you don't know sign. yes, you can fingerspell and yes, you can write and yes, you can ultimately get the essential points across. but you can't call that HAVING CONVERSATION. when the medium stifles the exchange, it's time to get a new medium.

this is my GRRRRRRRRRRR face.
for madknits whom i love. a recipe for vegetarian gumbo. i am now going to weep piteously if he comments on this and tells me he's non-ovo vegetarian.

but, if he ever hauls his fabulous carcass down here, me and kristenred can cook him some gumbo that he can damn well eat. whoo!
I spent all of last week in Austin and I got to reconnect with some dearly beloved and sorely missed friends. Why is it, in the internet/information age, that I can still lose touch with people? I'm miserable at keeping in touch. I have this rotten sense of elapsed time; and so, like a dog, I'm always happy to see you arrive, but I don't think about you much when you're gone. Wherever I am, I'm single-tasking on whatever the task at hand is, whether that's having a life or a job or cooking dinner or whatever… I just don't notice how long it's been and think "Gee, I really oughta call that woman. I miss her lots." Or, if I do, I forget that thought by the time I've found my phone and resurrected it from zombie-hood. I swear I spend more time with my phone battery dead than alive. It's not so much "recharging" as it is "resurrecting" with me.

This week I'm in Vermont. It's been beautiful and sunny and I actually got some good exercise while I was here. Yea for good asthma medication! It seems to be working. So here's the view from Mt. Philo yesterday, looking over Lake Champlain and the farmland around...

scratch that. the photo sucked worse than usual. it looks like a grayish blob interspersed with muddy-colored tree-ish blobs. i assure you, the view of Lake Champlain from Mt. Philo is terrific, and what's left of the fall color is blazing and spectacular. I'm not writing 1000 words on it, so you're going to have to live with this description which is probably no better than a hasty charcoal sketch. on a paper towel. a used one.
so i spent my honeymoon in utah this year. p took all the pictures, she always does. i do not a photographer make, so i just write the words and she does the imagery and this is good. i wrote up our third day at the usual place. for those of you who just want the quickie... Here Be Photos...Collapse )
last night, i had dinner out at a neat little belgian restaurant in chicago called The Hopleaf with childthursday and her lovely partner. we had a fun time, good beer, great mussels, and awesome conversation. i really like sitting down with smart people and talking about IDEAS. i spend most of my damn day at these trade shows talking about things, or people, or (at best) current events. so, ladies, thanks!

i have very nearly shaken the cold that grabbed me right before the weekend. i offer all the thanks in my heart to the Halls corporation for their Cool Breezers cough drops, without which i would not be able to speak at all right now. i spent the weekend out at my dad's lakehouse a few hours east of Dallas and made a big pot of gumbo. i have to think that the gumbo went a long way toward helping me beat the cold, too. there's something magical about a muddy roux that will certainly fix what ails ya. that, and a little time spent in a boat flailing the water with monofilament line and something shiny. it's good for your soul. :)

also, i offer thanks to Wabash Avenue, in general for failing to drop any bodies on me as i waited for the convention shuttle bus the past two days. i'm still a little tense about that, not just on Wabash, but on any street with an El track, really.
lots of little things in my life are in the process of changing right now, and more changes may be on the way. some of them are even big changes, really... none of the changes themselves are important. it's just the way i always get to feeling when this sort of stuff happens. i like the be the most fluid thing in my existence. and right now, there are so many pieces up in the air, and i'm waiting for them all to settle into place. they will, and it'll be good when they do. i just don't like this feeling that at any moment, any of my friendly, brightly-colored bouncy balls might turn into a spork and come hurtling earthward under the irresistible seduction of gravity.

so, if you speak to me any time in the next few weeks and i seem a little white-knuckled, or borderline postal, or screechy... sit me down, pour me full of tea or scotch or something soothing, and say "there, there..." until i'm stable again. thanks!
hey, gang...

i don't know what happened, but i made a really good roundup post of the first part of my utah vacation and my most recent events, and it seems to have been swallowed up by LJ. i can see it, but it's not turning up on anyone's friends list. so, if you want to know what i've been up to, please click through to thesilia-the lost years muahahahahahaha....

hrmmm... my life at home is so busy that i only have time to post when i'm traveling because i have enforced sitting and waiting before my flight. clearly, it's time to slow down. now if i can just find a little chip in this schedule so i can jam a brake lever in there!

while i was in toronto i had a delightful dinner with acoupleloonies who fed me up on homecooked yumminess and treated me to some homemade wine. awesome! ordinarily road food is...well, road food. today for lunch, i ate at Manchu Wok and had a plateful of greasy-fried and sugar-glazed american faux-chinese food. and that's par. so homecooked lasagna and garlic bread and salad with a homemade dressing was well worth the hour drive. not to mention the fact that the company was stellar and witty. :)

i have plenty of other happenings, but i can't find anything witty to say about them. and i really don't want this to be a "i did this, then i did that, then i ate a bug, then i watched some tv" blog. that's the sort of stuff historians might want to read some day so they can reconstruct just WHAT it was we were all so hyper-stressed about, but it's really not entertaining reading.

p and i celebrated the third anniversary of our first hookup by camping out with the lesbians again. the dogs enjoyed the lake, as always, and i "made chili" again this year. i put the "made chili" part in quotes because i didn't so much cook the chili as stage-direct the cooking of the chili. i was wounded, you see. road-warriors like myself suffer all sorts of occupational hazards, and one of them is that if you work too many crosswords on long plane rides, you get this sharp pain between your shoulderblades and one or the other of your arms becomes so painful to use that you might as well not bother. so i had a useless left arm and a sharp pain every time i tipped my head forward, as though to look at a crossword puzzle or a pot of chili over a campfire. so i enlisted assistants to do all the chopping, mixing, stirring, spicing, and opening. basically, i emptied two cans of tomatoes into the pot and tasted it a few times along the way (when someone else had a spoon in it) to make sure that the spices were right. the rest of the time, i was barking orders at the other lesbians, making sure they didn't let the chili stick to the bottom of the pot and that they didn't spill it while they were stirring. it was the BEST. CHILI. EVAR. or at least, the best chili i've ever "made".

also... we went on vacation! in utah! so here be photos... CLICKYCollapse )
This was all brought up by a post to a community here on LJ where the OP (a traditional-age college student) said she was struggling to feel welcome in the gay community because she wasn't presenting a stereotypical appearance but where she didn't feel welcome in the straight community because she's... not straight. Personally, I think she's well on her way to politely inviting the queer community to fuck itself with a pineapple (thanks die7fox for the turn of phrase) but she still longs for a sense of community with SOMEBODY. Ultimately, I think she just needs some time and experience in the world during which to build a family of choice and a circle of friends who accept her, and that will give her the solid sense of self she needs to laugh off the ignorant comments about her deviation from stereotypes that she seems to take so personally right now. Stuff like, "You must be bi because you're not butchy enough to be gay." I also think it would be singularly unhelpful to tell her that she just needs some time and experience. So instead I told her to stick to her guns and remember that when people have trouble figuring out how to take her because she's not fitting the stereotype, she needs to remember that that's THEIR baggage, not hers.

So this was the only good thing i managed to get out, pre-coffee as it was, but I wanted to post it here so it's easy for me to find later:
All humans have to deal with being misunderstood sometimes, but the more confident you are in your identity in the moment, and the more compassionate you can be with your old self over the accommodations you used to make in order to fit in, the easier it'll be to deal with it.
love: petrus golden ale. and whatever that second beer was... der koninck somethingorother?
hate: the snotty bitches at the next table over who got the last of the mussels from the kitchen of "The Fat Belgian" restaurant.
love: the grilled scallops and tomato salad i had instead of mussels
hate: traffic in downtown toronto
love: weather that encourages walking to work. even in business attire. in september.
hate: being out of shape.
love: walking up the stairs, or any other practical way of working my workout into my workday.
hate: panting at the 4th flight, knowing i have to get to 9.
love: taking the stairs DOWN.
i managed to survive my vacation camping and motorcycling in utah. there were some adventures, i'll try to write about them later this week.

i came back from vacation somewhat delayed (adventures have that effect) but managed to make it out the door on time for my work gig in long beach, ca last week. i got to spend some fun time with lvmybehrs listening to comics at the Eagle in LA. ask me about salty pennies some time if you need a giggle. my hotel did not have any respectable internet connectivity and my class was too involved for me to read or post during work hours, so i basically didn't exist online until tonight.

i got back from long beach and spent about 36 hours at home with my beloved wife and then rolled back out the door for toronto. so here i am in toronto where my chief observation so far is that traffic is a bitch and people apparently use the right-most lane of city streets for parking whenever the hell they feel like it. sometimes the right-hand lane will be open for blocks, and then suddenly it will be full of cars. if you attempt to use the right-most driving lane of a street for DRIVING, you should expect to use your brakes a lot in emergency fashion, and you should also expect to be cursed or honked at by the drivers in the lane to your left. you will have to dodge into their path of travel rapidly, and they will not appreciate this. however, being canadian, they're too polite to shoot you. so they'll honk and maybe scream a little. in LA, they'd shoot you. regional differences, you see. this is the sort of stuff you pick up when you travel as much as i do. if i travelled more, i'd actually be in danger of forgetting which city i was in, and then i'd forget to account for these differences.

i'm off to iron my pants for tomorrow and then to bed. y'all be good.
TORONTO: is happening, week of Sep 22-26. i will be there and have a rental car. if you're within two hours of Toronto and want to meet up, get in touch.

ballistic week has wound down to a more sustainable pace... i'm on the early flight home, and i debated whether it'd be worth paying the $50 to guarantee my standby seat. then when i looked at the list just now, there were 24 people on standby. and maybe 3 seats. SO SO SO glad i paid that $50 and bought the ticket. i'll be home by 9 tonight. i guess i owe tasteless sexual favors to the demons of the airlines now. well, on second thought, i gave them my cold, hard cash. they can buy tasteless sexual favors with the filthy lucre.

... UPDATE ... i just got called up to the desk for a seat change that i'd requested. the lovely young woman got me an aisle seat. i DEFINITELY owe her sexual favors. she moved me halfway up the plane AND got me out of a middle seat. the giant amazon is grateful.

the demo we gave today meandered on its first 3 hours and 30 minutes way... and then the client looked at the clock and said "look, y'all, this is cool and i like it. but here is what i MUST HAVE in order to proceed." i loved it because i kinda wanted to stuff a cork in the salesdemon's mouth about 2 hours prior. i loved that the client reeled him in and pinned him to the mat, because it would be politically...ah...inadvisable for me to do the same.

it turns out we have what he wants, but it's in prototype state and waiting for an opportunity like this one to make it real. turns out they're the first guys who've ever asked for it and had the wherewithal to actually make it GO. so we'll probably be peddling our asses to make it GO for these guys sometime soon. free sample sucks you in, and then you're OURS FOREVAR!!!! or not. we're not as sexy as drug dealers, honestly. this is frickin' engineering. we're the opposite of sexy. unfortunately, as much as i love bleeding edge technology, it probably won't be me doing the execution because my time is spoken for from now until november.

and i just heard the jetway doors yawn like the portals of hell, but with more whining and less roaring. so i'm going to shut down and get my fancy ass pointed home. y'all have a good one.
hey, dear readers... i'm possibly going to be teaching a class in Toronto for a week in September (the 22-26). If you are in or around Toronto and want to meet up for a meal, a drink, an outing of any kind, do leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail and we'll plan it.

...back to the grind!

ed.: i posted this when my travel itinerary was finalized. about an hour after that, my boss called and said they were going to try to reschedule the class, but nobody's terribly optimistic that that will happen. i'll post more when i know more.
just a quick post, because my week went from 0 to 60 in about 30 minutes this morning. i had a delightful lunch yesterday with p and kristenred and her beau, Michael. we had a lovely chat, and good food, and a lot of laughs. we'll definitely do it again!

rugby went really well this weekend... we had "boot camp" which is less like basic training in the military sense and more like a recruiting visit for college. it's not quite as dishonest as collegiate sports recruiting, because we do actually have the rookies boot up and run drills to give them a basic feel for the game, including full body contact in the un-air-conditioned comfort of the great outdoors. but it's also crucial that we show them that they will not actually be required to eat anyone in order to join the team, and we make certain to display the friendly corporate culture and the similarities to sports they are more familiar with. yes, american football, i'm looking at yer ugly mug. and you there, "the beautiful game?" you could do with some tackling and a few more dust-ups.

i'm working my way toward being declared the unofficial choirmaster of the club, which has a well-established men's squad and a spankin' new women's squad. we sang a few songs on saturday at the drink-n-feed after boot camp, and a large time was had by all.

i'll be in phoenix for about 33 hours starting wednesday morning. that's part of the 0-to-60 bit of my work. i got my airline ticket today, so i don't even want to know what we had to tender in exchange for that last-minute deal. i'm sure somebody in our travel office had to do something tasteless to one of the demons who pulls the strings at the airlines these days. :) at least i don't have THAT job.
i'm feeling overwhelmed and run down this week. today is the first time i've been over here at LJ all week long and i'm probably not even going to get around to reading. but i'm procrastinating some stuff i don't want to do on my work computer, so here i am, bitchin'. it's been nasty weather, and i've spent every night napping instead of walking the dogs. they are pinging off the walls and ceiling for want of a good game of fetch right now, but are completely unwilling to risk being rained on. so i couldn't exactly get them out of the house, even if i were up for it. the yellow one literally stood in the doorway, sniffing the ground and trying to find a dry spot to set her precious feet upon yesterday. she was doing the peepee dance the whole time, but she was convinced that even though p and i were both standing out on the porch, some terrible doom was imminent and would befall her if she left the dry safety of the kitchen. only a very full bladder can drive that one out into the drizzle. if it's raining, she'll just hold it, thanks.

a hearty thanks for all the good advice and good wishes y'all sent me after my craptacular week in Alabama. i'm home and that is an infinite improvement over Alabama. at least nobody handed me a religious tract on my way out of town this time. i am not joking, the last time i was in alabama, the last thing anyone said to me was, "Please read this for the good of your soul."

the good news roundup? i think we found a sperm donor. we've had a couple of conversations with some folks recently who had expressed interest, some went lukewarm, but one went fantastically well. i swear i'm not going to turn this into the lesbian baby channel, i just wanted to share that milestone.

(the following is WoW-centric) also in the good news roundup? we had 4 people in our guild make 70 in the past week, p's character among them. that means we'll be running kara soon. wootzor!