Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Laughing Dog

I just got this hysterical link from a friend and I feel like this dog. Read it here, be sure to click the little double arrows on the right. Copy and paste your favorite parts into a comment! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Good times, good times.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Do you ever hear a little voice in your head? Mine talks to me all the time. One of my little voice's favorite things to do, is to recite the last few lines of The Road Not Taken, these lines:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This then, in turn, reminds me of a beautiful song by Eric Clapton called Let it Grow.
Standing at the crossroads
trying to read the signs
To tell me which way I should
go to find the answer
And all the time I know

Plant your love and let it grow.

Let it grow
let it grow

Let it blossom
let it flow

In the sun
the rain
the snow

Love is lovely
let it grow.

Looking for a reason
to check out of my mind

Playing hard to get a
friend that I can count on

When there's nothing left to show
Plant yout love and let it grow.

The train signal picture brought memories of crossroads in my life flooding forward. I hope the picture coupled with the verse and song will remind you of times when you have stood at a crossroads and tried to figure out which way you should go. Eventually, you just pick one and go. Slowly at first, maybe, or zealous. The speed with which you travel is not as important as the fact that you chose and started. Choices can be debilitating for some. Immobility can seem like the only neutral choice. To sit and think and ponder is seductive. Read the signs. Make a choice. Walk a road. You can always double back and try something new. There is time for mistakes. If you always picture a crossroads as a train crossing, it will be a good reminder to keep moving. If you don't, you'll get hit by a train.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Feet Under the Stall

I hate public restrooms. I don't use them, as a rule. I have no problem with home and work, but that's where I draw the line. This picture reminded me of that uncomfortable feeling I get when I walk into a public restroom and have to almost squat on the floor to see if there are feet under the stall.

Fast approaching is the time when Elena will no longer be in diapers. I was a nanny for years, and I remember, in a not at all fond way, the mad dashes to the bathroom. I used to encourage the use of nature, as opposed to a restroom any day of the week. I mean, what's better than being all alone, under a big sky, doing your business? I'll tell you this - that is definitely how humans were made to relieve themselves.

Walking into a public restroom is practically a clausterphobic experience for me. Here, come along with me as we enter a bathroom at the mall...The cold steel handle of the door feels greasy, too many hands have eaten at the food court and then made their germy way to the bathroom. If I am wearing long sleeves, I will most definitely cover my hand with my sleeve to enter the chamber. Upon opening the door, strangely humid, hot air wafts toward me, carrying the mixed fragrance of minty lime disinfectant, urine, chlorine, and feces. It's a wretched smell. I have to bend down to see if there are feet under the stalls and sometimes even queue up to wait for the priveledge of getting some communicable disease from a public commode. I am attempting to pee as fast as I can while hovering above the toliet seat (as my germ-conscious mother taught me). I am surrounded by a syphony of sounds: elevator music, a mother talking to her child about wiping, a diaper being changed, water rushing, toliets flushing, and worst of all, other peoples' bodily functions.

I hate public restrooms. It makes me so much happier when I can remember to do my business before I leave home. However, if I am going to go to a public restroom, I am always hoping, being ever the optimist, that I will see no feet under the stall.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Danger Danger

My mother and father had friends when I was little and they had a baby named Casey. Instead of saying the word "no" repeatedly to Casey, they tried to teach her the concept of danger. My parents said they were reminded of Lost in Space. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Now, the question I have is this: which is more scarring to a child? The repeated use of "no" to establish boundaries or the depiction of the world as dangerous?

I chose this topic to go with this picture because of the inherent danger of a tractor. Recently, on our baby board, it has been a source of debate. Would you let your toddler ride a tractor with their dad or grandpa (or mother, for that matter!)? I say, let 'em ride. I fondly remember riding on my grandfather's lap. The smell of leaded gasoline and fresh cut lawn piercing my nostrils. The heat off the engine made me all sweaty and then dust and bits of grass would stick to me and make me gritty. It was dirty business, but I felt like a queen. It was a highlight of grandparent trips. Sure, it was dangerous, but well worth it for the memory.

I hope Elena will ride the tractor with my father, her grandfather, and form similar memories. I hope she will ride atop his lap proudly. I hope she doesn't fear danger of any sort, but is able to be brave. I won't be surprised, however, if my openness to let her try new things, backfires and she is less apt to. Life is funny that way.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ode to Sunny Bunny - A Good Dog

Oh, Miss Sunny Bunny, you are so dear
To your family and all who come near.

You're the kind of dog to crack a big smile,
When you haven't seen us for a little awhile.

You're the kind of dog to never peep
While your owners are fast asleep.

But, if trouble starts to brew,
You, sweet Sunny, will come through.

You'll sound the alarm and wake us all up
You'll play the role of strong, guarding pup.

You're a sweet old girl and good, good friend
To your family who'll love you til the end.

God bless you Sunny!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Quiet Dreams

"Many people get caught up in day-to-day living and put their dreams on hold."
—John King, Media Planner, Fallon Worldwide
I received this quote in my email from Fast Company today. It stopped me in my tracks. I am a dreamer from way back. I like to accomplish my dreams. However, I frequently plant them like seeds, only to be returned to later. I check back in on them to see if they have taken root. I nurture them.

Sometimes, I do get caught up in the day-to-day. Sadly, it demands my attention louder than my dreams. Dreams are quiet and soft like clouds. They are unassuming. They are patient. They feather in the winds of my life. They change and morph over time. They are there if I remember to look up. However, that's the tough part. To remember to look up.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Streaming Thoughts

Lately my thoughts are racing. I posted on my other blog about being unsure if I might be suffering from bipolar mood disorder. If I am, it's giving me new energy. Today, I was in a board room with my boss and three others. Our assignment was to learn a new product, come up with some talking points about it and develop a voice mail script for generating interest for this product with executives at large corporations. I walked into the room having taken ten or so minutes to prepare earlier in the day. I started reading my script. Inside my head, the thoughts were streaming. I was talking...A lot. I was "adding value" as they say in the biz, but I just couldn't help but wonder, where are the brakes? What if I need to stop?

It reminds me of when I was an eight-year-old child and we lived at 36 Flax Hill Road in Brookfield, CT. The house is on a monstrous hill. It's so big, I even went back and saw it as an adult and it was still steep and huge. That hill was responsible for stealing my first adult tooth. I sledded into a big boulder and knocked out my left front tooth. Anyhow, the speeding thoughts and energy remind of the way it felt to sit on a skateboard and ride down that driveway. The vibrating pavement jarred my teeth. My hands clutched, white knuckled at the board. My feet stuck straight out. I often had no shoes on, no gloves, no way to stop. I am sure there were many scraped heels and palms, but I don't remember any of that. I only remember that feeling of flying down the hill and the accompanying elation. It was an amazing high, but similar to today, I found myself thinking, where are the brakes and what if I need to stop?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Oars Up

Inside my husband's wedding ring is the inscription Oars Up. It was my way of saying to him, go with the flow. Don't fight it. Let it be...a message of release to him. It might seem like the opposite message for a marriage Instead of raising our oars in the air and coasting downstream, shouldn't we be a rowing team? Shouldn't we be setting our sights on a shared goal and heading towards it? Not for us. For us, marriage is about acceptance. Acceptance of where we are heading. Acceptance of each other as we are.

The knowledge that our lives are akin to riding the rapids of a river is a helpful image for us. We know that sometimes we are racing with a fast and strong current and other times we are practically resting in a gentle pooling eddy. For us, it's the only way. This is not to say that we don't sometimes put the oars down and attempt to row. Sometimes this is even in the opposite direction of each other or of the river. We are fighting the current and swimming upstream. Eventually, we look at each other and laugh. We aren't resting in the arms of the river...of life or God. All of our effort is in vain and we never make any progress while we are backtracking. Eventually, we realize our fruitless efforts are impeding us. We look at each other and embrace. We clasp hands and head down the rapids. It may be scary, but we have each other, so we'll be alright.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Is It I? Or Me?

Look at that baby in the window! How cute he is. Our babies are working on developing a sense of self. They are embarking on the great sorting project of self and others. The seperation of me and them. I and they.

Elena is not quite there yet. I combed the Web to find some information on a dim memory from college. I remembered that the development of the words me and I somehow reveals the internal development of this concept. From my experience, it seems that the child parrots their name, then talks about themselves in the third person, then uses me and then gradual acquires the adult understanding of I.

I am enjoying watching Elena discover these things. I remember the first time she bit her own finger and cried. She was the biter and the bitee...this might have been an epiphany. She knows her name, calls herself Nanana. If you try to get her to answer, "Where is Elena?" or "Where is Nanana?" even, she won't answer. She turns away hurriedly. She is even reluctant to point to Elena's nose or Elena's belly. It's odd. She used to do these things willingly. I think it may be a way of asserting herself.

And come to think of it, doesn't NOT responding (intentionally as she does) require the knowledge of self? Is she already rebelling? I doubt it. I bet it's just really confusing to figure this whole thing out. After all, a mere fifteen months ago there was no me or you, Elena, there was just us. I'm kind of glad she isn't racing away from the us!

Swimming in the Womb

Many times it is impossible to remember where our babies came from. Just last week, I held Elena on my lap and she stretched from my chin to thighs. I am hard pressed to remember a time when I could lay her on my forearm. This picture, however, reminds me that our babies are born amphibious creatures. Before their first breath, they have gills and receive oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord. They are comfortable in an underwater environment - our little water babies.

I heard once that the womb is noisy. Water conducts sound better than air and our bodies that provide the shell for their home, are full of loud gurgles and pops. Our voice must sound like bass tones spoken through a broken speaker. Farty and undiscernable - a piece of discordant music. In this aspect, this swimming baby is not at home underwater. In a pool, it is all but silent underwater. From a sound standpoint, it is like being suspended in a glass cube.

The womb is drastically warmer too - a balmy 99 degrees. This water is cold and tangy comparatively. But still, there is an amphibious quality to a small baby. They remember what it is like to swim the day away. If we keep them swimming, perhaps they'll never forget it either.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Intelligent Design

This is the kind of picture that makes you believe in God. No painter painted this. No company manufactured the colors. This is just the design of nature. On days like today, I am so happy to see evidence of intelligent design in my dumb disorganized life.

If there were no God, would such beauty exist? It's just seems when the idiomatic "man" is left to his own devices, ugliness and dirtiness prevail. If the world were merely an accident, would it all "go" together so well? From the perfect, heart-shaped petals of the phlox, to the deep grape of the dianthus and the barely-there, light orange dot on the butterflies back, it's all just so perfectly created. Who would spend the time in such aesthetically pleasing details? God would, that's who. Amen to that.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ordinal Position - The Birth Order Blog

Today's picture made me think of birth order. There are four kids in the family depicted above. One first born, one middle, one later born and one youngest. One for each category. See if you agree with what the following article says about these various ordinal positions.
The only child/first born tends to be an organized, researched thinker. They are subject to high expectations and, as a result, are pleasers. The parents are more anxious, but also give their first born more responsibility. They are most likely to succeed, to be conscientious, get high grades at school, and achieve a higher salary and more conservative job in adulthood. Reliable, serious, rule keeping, self-critical, anxious and perfectionist, the first born enjoys being around adults and provides the link between parents and the younger family members. They’re problem solvers, strong-willed, determined, good listeners, worry about new experiences, controlling, jealous and moralistic. There have been more first born US Presidents and Nobel Prize Winners than any other birth ranking. Famous first borns include Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Ted Turner, Winston Churchill, Jimmy Carter, Geoffrey Boycott, Edward Heath, Cecil Parkinson, Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Mussolini, Che Guevara and Carlos the Jackal. In the entertainment profession, firstborns tend to play macho leading roles. Famous firstborn actors include Humphrey Bogart, Sylvester Stallone, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Bruce Willis. First born actresses tend to become leading ladies. They prefer the strong roles and shy away from the damsels in distress. Bette Davis, Joan Collins and Vivien Leigh are all first borns.

Middle children are said to be diplomatic. They mediate between siblings and are flexible and giving. They have lots of friends, but they can also be manipulative. They can feel elbowed out of a position of significance, or be forced to become the keeper of the peace between their siblings. Many feel forced to assume roles that their older siblings for one reason or another are unable to fulfill and this may leave them with a chip on their shoulder. Famous middle children include: George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Jack Kennedy, George Bush, Damon Hill, Cindy Crawford, Robert Graves, Tony Blair and Edward Elgar.

The later born child always has someone ahead of them to compete against. Their parents are more relaxed and less strict with the later born child. They try to establish a place for themselves separate from their older siblings, and so tend to be more creative. The later born child can be rebellious, but also are pleasant, agreeable and easy going. Unlike the first born, they generally don’t excel at school and aren’t concerned with achievement. They’re rebellious, creative, unconventional and always feel like the baby, even in when they are adults. But they can also be practical and competitive, though they can constantly feel like the underdog. They’re likely to be good at sports and art. Famous later borns, and rebels, include Joan of Arc, Charles Darwin, Gandhi, Leon Trotsky, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, George Michael and Sir Laurence Olivier..

Having to compete for their parents attention, the youngest has good coping mechanisms in place. They get special privileges and more relaxed parents, but because of this they tend to have less self-control. The youngest child can be a risk-taker, a joker and an exhibitionist. They are humorous and charming but also fresh and somewhat over the top. Youngest children are entertaining and know how to get noticed, Jerry Springer is a perfect example. Ted Kennedy is the youngest of the Kennedy clan and did not learn to accept the responsibility of being a member of that clan until he was well into adulthood. In the entertainment world they tend to play more dramatic roles. Sydney Poitier is the youngest of seven children.

What is your feeling on birth order?
Do you think it affected you growing up?
Which position are you?

I will write more about my ordinal position on Kiki and the Lou.

Great chart of Birth Order Personality Traits.

Does Birth Order Affect Intelligence?

A Rog or a Dabbit?

I received this picture and laughed out loud. This is obviously a gifted child. Notice, if you will, the child in the back who rides neatly on her bike (in a dress, I might add). She has the helmet on and chooses the serene activity of bike riding. Not that she is not gifted, but she has chosen fairly "standard fair" from the menu of childhood games.

Look at the other child. What is she doing? It appears she has found some fluffy weeds and dandified herself with a tail. She must be a dog or a rabbit, or maybe even a r-og or a d-abbit. This is a creative child. This is an above-average intelligence child. I used to be one of those.

God bless her. God bless her parents.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fall Forward

I have no idea when it will be daylight savings time, but I am already dreading it. Every night, I am warring against time. I used to have hours upon hours to get dinner made and get my walk in. If I wanted to cook something special or play with Elena for a long time before walking, I could. It was relaxing. These days, it's a race against the sun.

I am having trouble getting up in the morning. I am getting to work later. I have to stay at work for eight hours. So, get in late, get out late. When I come in the door, there is one needy fifteen month old and one whiney dog. Both need food. One of them is usually in her crib with a poopy diaper. I nervously glance at the clock in the kitchen, "Will I make it?" I have to. I have to. I love fall for the weather. I love fall for the foliage. I hate fall for the shortening of the day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Peace, Man

This picture reminded me of a story my old boss told us all one time at one of our Sales Rallies. The entire company was there, dressed in semi-formal attire, and we all sat riveted as this man spoke. He had a gift for public speaking and motivating people. Here is what he told us.

One morning you wake up and you are grouchy. You stayed up too late the night before. You spill coffee on your suit and have to change. You are going to be late to a big meeting. Your husband ticks you off as you are heading out the door. You get into your car and start your long commute. At one point, you are peeved. You are following a van with a bumper sticker that says "Expect Whirled Peas" or some other peace seeking advice that is driving ten miles below the speed limit. As you pull up to a stop light, you finally to get a chance to pass on the left. As you pull up beside the driver's side of the van, you see the driver is a hippie fellow. He turns to look at you, and for some reason, it irks you. You scowl and he flips you the bird.

Now imagine an alternate scenario. You are well rested and, the planets must be in alignment, because your husband was an angel and got up early to take out the trash and make the coffee so you wouldn't have to get up until a half hour later. You have a big meeting this morning, but you are ready. You spent the evening preparing and you went to bed early. As you are relaxing in the shower, you look forward to donning your new suit. You are going to be a power player today. You kiss your husband and head out the door. There isn't much traffic and you have plenty of time. At one point, you are following a van with a bumper sticker that says "Expect Whirled Peas" or some other peace seeking advice that is driving ten miles below the speed limit. You smile and think about how nice the concept of peace is. You want to hug the driver of the van for advertising such a worthy cause. As you pull up to a stop light, you finally to get a chance to pass on the left. As you pull up beside the driver's side of the van, you see the driver is a hippie fellow. He turns to look at you, you smile and wave. He flips you the bird. You chuckle and think about how ironic it is that a man spreading peace, just got peeved with you for no reason. He must have had a bad morning.

The moral of this story is that attitude is everything. Your attitude colors how you see the world. It changes your ability to succeed. It changes how you interact with others at work.

He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.
~Samuel Johnson

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Babies start out their lives scrutinizing the world around them. What starts as a blurry mass of soft blankets, warm caresses and pastel colors, sharpens by eight months, to the equivalent vision of an adult. My latest discovery with my daughter is in how much she has learned during this quiet time of scrutiny.

She is just now starting to show us all she knows. It started with following simple commands. "Can you bring Mommy that bottle of water?" "Can you go into the other room and get your blankey?" "Come upstairs." Today, she started singing, speaking in two-word strings and reciting certain words from her favorite book. Conveniently, tomorrow is her 15-month pediatrician visit. Now we will have something to talk about. And so will Elena.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I have a question for you, my imaginary friends, do you think that if all people were born in fraternal pairs we would be more empathetic, better at sharing, more well-adjusted and more content? I think we might. Here's why.

When my baby sister, Ashley, was born, my mother used to say she should have been twins. She was the youngest of three girls by five years and she was often bored and lonely. My mother contested that if she had been a set of twins, she would have had a built-in playmate. She wouldn't have constantly whined to my mother:
"Can I have a friend over?"
"I'm booooooooored...What can I play?"
"Will you play a game with me?"

She is lucky that when she was four, we moved into a neighborhood that had a family of three little girls. These were her "sisters" and Alison their oldest, her twin. The two fought like, loved each other like and appreciated each other like sisters. They learned how to state their needs to each other clearly. They were there for each other. They are actually now twenty-five year old adults living together in Charlestown, MA.

Ashley is probably the most well-adjusted of us three girls. Is this because of her twin? Would I have been better adjusted if I had gone through life with a best friend who was always there for me and who loved me just as I was? Maybe, but being the bossy oldest girl, I wonder if I would have wanted to share those first five years, when I had my parents all to myself, with anyone. Maybe not.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ten Fingers and Ten Toes

In the car today, on my way to work with my husband, we had a serious discussion about being a parent and what that means. It started when I told him that I cannot get these friends of ours off my mind. They just had their second miscarriage of the year in July, this time they lost twins, and they also found out two weeks ago that their two and a half year old is moderately autistic. Gone are the days of waiting for their baby to be born healthy with ten fingers and ten toes. The promise of a healthy childhood, adulthood, marriage, etc...was snatched from them with this diagnosis.

I asked my husband how he thought they were doing. He answered, "How do you think they are doing?" Thank you very much, Socrates. I think it is probably very hard and upsetting, I told him. He retorted, "I bet once you are over the shock of it, it's not any different then it was. He's still the same kid. The same boy you loved with all your heart and that you have been raising for the last two and a half years."

I wanted to scream at him. I managed to say in a firm, but serious voice, "YES, BUT NOW HIS WHOLE FUTURE HAS CHANGED!" He said, "That's the danger in developing expectations." He maintains that a parent will never, ever be able to predict the life direction their child will take, so why bother thinking about it? I maintain, as I always have, that he and I are very different. This isn't about wanting my child to have a high IQ or to have blue eyes or to have ten toes, this is about being broadsided by a disability. My mind is flooded with images of this boy's vacant eyes, catatonic rocking, the short bus. I can't help but see a bleak life for their boy. And for that, I will say many, many prayers.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Little Women

I don't know why this picture reminds me of Little Women. Remember when the girls published The Pickwick Papers and then they would pretend that they were all men sitting in a gentlemen's club reading them aloud and giggling profusely. "Ahem...Gentlemen!" I can hear Winona Ryder's voice, the voice of Jo clearly. Does anyone read that book (which I have never read, GASP!) and not want to be Jo?

I can't imagine wanting to be anyone but Jo. My mother once called me her little Jo and squeezed my hand while we were watching that movie. I have never been more secretly pleased. She couldn't have made me happier if she had said I was her favorite of us three girls.

Why is she my favorite? Is that because she is the closest to my natural personality? Is it because she is confident and bold? Strong and smart? Pretty and natural? I just can't fathom anyone wanting to be prissy Meg or sickly Beth or petulant Amy. Maybe it's because she is the one who writes it all down...Jo, the writer...just like me.

Alice, Where are you Going? Upstairs to Take a Bath!

There was a little song my mother used to sing to me at bath time. The first two lines are the title for this post. Bath time was always a bonding time for mother and daughter. I do not remember a single time my father gave us our bath. I guess in those days, a women's place was in the kitchen AND bathroom. Alas, the point of this post is not to analyze the role of mothers in 1970's America. I want instead to transport you to bath time.

Imagine if you will, warm water flowing into a big, clean tub. A tablespoon or two of bubble bath make for an out and out party in the tub. We always wanted bubble baths, but due to recurrent bladder infections as a child and a bum urethra, I was not allowed. I got over it though. As soon as I would put my foot into that caressing water, I would forget about the lack of bubbles. The steaming water, itself, was a treat. I am not sure how long our baths really lasted as kids, but it felt like forever. This was back in the day when you would happily leave your eight-year-old and your three-year-old to paddle around in the tub by themselves. You would then go relax and have a glass of wine with your husband.

We played games and made up stories. We didn't need much in the way of toys, we could imagine anything that was missing. "Swimming" on my tummy, I could imagine I was in the oceans of the world. Exploring...floating...calm. Sure there were nights where the focus was not calm and relaxed. These were the nights of splash fights or boisterous bathtub songs (the acoustics in the bathroom lend themselves to LOUD singing). Needless to say, bathtime was prized in our lives.

Bath time with Elena has the same feeling. As an infant, she bathed with me every night. I would get in the tub and lay her on the floor beside it then pull her into the warm water. She loved it and would coo and look up at me with thankful looks. This week, however, she passed a milestone. She finally flipped over and started "swimming" in the tub. No longer afraid of getting her face wet, she has discovered the wide open sea that is her bath tub.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Murder of Crows

My daughter is confused. She woofs when she sees a bird. She also woofs at horses, pigs, lambs, chickens, and any other mammal. For awhile she woofed whenever she was asked ANY question. We must have said, "Elena, what does the dog say?" so frequently that she thought a questioning inflection meant we wanted her to bark.

Just this week on our walk, we saw birds. Not a friendly, gently flapping mockingbird, or dove. Although, we often see these too. No. Instead, we saw a literal flock and a half of birds flying in the air and perched all over a bunch of trees. It felt like Alfred Hitchcock's movie. It was loud and scary. Of course they were crows and it was dusk, which made it that much more foreboding. Do you know what a group of crows is called? It's called a murder. A murder of crows...Isn't that so cheery? I, for one, have always preferred an exaltation of larks or a parliament of owls.

Original Artwork by Kristen Gill (that's Kiki to you)
Postscript: These group terms, called venery, are those imaginative collective nouns that evolved in the Middle's a more complete list, if you are interested:
A bevy of quail
A bouquet of pheasants [when flushed]
A brood of hens
A building of rooks
A cast of hawks [or falcons]
A charm of finches
A colony of penguins
A company of parrots
A congregation of plovers
A cover of coots
A covey of partridges [or grouse or ptarmigans]
A deceit of lapwings
A descent of woodpeckers
A dissimulation of birds
A dole of doves
An exaltation of larks
A fall of woodcocks
A flight of swallows [or doves, goshawks, or cormorants]
A gaggle of geese [wild or domesticated]
A host of sparrows
A kettle of hawks [riding a thermal]
A murmuration of starlings
A murder of crows
A muster of storks
A nye of pheasants [on the ground]
An ostentation of peacocks
A paddling of ducks [on the water]
A parliament of owls
A party of jays
A peep of chickens
A pitying of turtledoves
A raft of ducks
A rafter of turkeys
A siege of herons
A skein of geese [in flight]
A sord of mallards
A spring of teal
A tidings of magpies
A trip of dotterel
An unkindness of ravens
A watch of nightingales
A wedge of swans [or geese, flying in a "V"]
A wisp of snipe

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Finders Keepers

As a child, I kept my eyes trained on the ground. I was looking for things of interest to collect and save. Over the years I found: a 1976 silver dollar, several wads of money, nails, toys, sticks that doubled as firearms, and a large collection of construction site detritus.

When I walk every evening, I have to fight the urge to slow way down and stare longingly at the ground for would-be treasures. I don't need to be hauling rocks and pinecones home with me...what the heck would I do with them? And yet, every acorn I pass begs to be picked up and studied. I want to hold a dozen of them in my hands and run my fingers over their smooth skin. I want to unscrew each little beret. I want to line them up like little men on my windowsill. But, I am the adult now.

Within the next year or two, Elena will be bringing me her finds. I will welcome them with open arms. We will sit down with our little acorn people and play. We will start a penny collection with our found coins. We will dip pinecones into wax to hang on our Christmas tree. We will do rubbings of leaves. We will pick especially smooth stones for a rock collection. Until then, I will keep my eyes turned up to the sky on my walks. I will stare past the clouds and on to heaven. I will thank God over and over again for making me a mommy.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day

I chose to save this patriotic picture for Labor Day. Our day to celebrate the toil we pursue during our weekdays. It is supposed to be a day of rest, a congregate Sabbath. Sabbath comes from the Hebrew verb shabbath, meaning "to rest from labor." Today, we rest from our labor...The paid labor at least...

The joke is really on parents. We never have rest. My only rest comes at seven o'clock in the evening. Once Elena goes to bed, I will have my mini-rest. Until then, I chase, feed, change, play, wash, walk...And, despite it's lack of rest, it's wonderful and fulfilling.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Freedom to Cry

At work, everything is business as usual. At home, Elena is unaware that there is a national disaster on her mother's mind all day long. Groceries still have to be bought, breakfast made, dishes done, the house kept...All that must continue, but underneath all the routine:

I wish I were a caterpillar and I could just spin myself into a gossamer cocoon.

I wish I were a bird and I could fly away.

I wish I were a goldfish, swimming underwater in a bowl with a glorious memory span of three seconds.

Or, at the very least, I wish I were a child who could cry whenever I felt like it. Nobody would look at me and judge me for turning on the waterworks. Nobody would worry that I was losing it. Nobody would chastise me for letting a storm of emotions pass through my body. If only I were a child and had the freedom to cry, I would be swept away in a flood of tears by now.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere...

The theme for today is water.

All of the problems in New Orleans right now boil down to water. Water that whipped into the city on the heels of the hurricane and inundated everything. This caused drowning in city streets...flooding of first stories, second stories then, third stories, washing out of bridges and homes. Too much water is a problem.

On the flip side, there is now the problem of too little water. As I sit at work sipping water from my Crystal Rock dispenser here, I am just heartbroken. Down South, people are shooting each other over a bottle of Evian. Completely surrounded by water, trapped on rooftops, people are parched in the sunlight. Children are the first to dehydrate. Forget about pets, they are the last to receive any relief. I am forced to grapple with the question, what if MY FAMILY were dying of thirst? To what lengths would I go? And, I am frequently frightened by my own answers.

I post this picture today to show water in its friendliest form. Behind a foot of tempered glass a school of sharks plays. Mother and baby look on. Safe and sound. They will go home to a table full of dinner with water. Thank God for that.

Thank God not everyone is in danger right now.

Thank God, there are those people who can afford to send their hard earned pennies, time, and care packages to New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Now, if only we could deliver these necessities to the rooftops ourselves. Where's Santa's sleigh when you need it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Scream

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

The Scream. It is a painting by Eduard Munch. A person stands in the forefront of the picture posed in "Home Alone" posture. I received this picture entry to blog about and it instantly transported me to that painting. Now, both have even more significance as I think about about the newly orphaned children, the ruined families and the folks made homeless. In my mind, I hear their scream. I put my hands over my ears like in the painting to silence them, but realize they will not abate. Turns out, they are my own wails I hear and I cannot seem to stop them.

"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody eles's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." - Frederick Buechner


Glenn's roundup post

If you read this and feel moved to make a donation, I have chosen The American Red Cross as my charity. Please click here to log a donation.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Trickster

Do kids know they are silly? I question their sense of right and wrong, perhaps because it seems completely non-existent most days. I look at a picture like this and I think, if you look deep enough into the child's eyes, you can see a tiny glint of silliness. In other words, I think he knows that putting the duckie IN the mouth is just plain ridiculous. What if, however, we were talking about something slightly more harmful or dangerous then a rubber duckie...

This morning when I got out of the shower. Picture morning music, birds chirping, steam swirling about me like eddies. I step out all relaxed and warmed through to the bones and there is my daughter. She is playing with a box or two of Dove soap and a dried sponge. I grab my towel and look back down. She has a flap on the box open and, thank goodness, it is the empty of the two boxes. I flop my head upside down to rub my scalp dry. I swing back up to become Mommy-towel-head and I hear cartoon horns of alarm...ARRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOGAHHHHHHH ARROOOOOOOOOOGAHHHH! My daughter is chewing on the toliet sponge. Careful not to scare the bejesus out of her I quietly say, "Oh Elena, Silly Girl, that's a dirty sponge" and whisk it away in an instant. Jeepers creepers, will my skin ever stop crawling? Bleck, bleck, bleck! Ahhhh, were it only possible to watch her every second of her life.....sigh.

When Do They Change?

Looking at this picture, it is easy to see how "out there" little girls can be. Some are hams. They are so comfortable in their own skin. Whether outgoing or shy, if they are raised with love and acceptance, they will be rooted in the belief that they are a gift to their parents and society. Their childhood is carefree and spirited. Until somewhere between the ages of ten and fifteen when it all changes.

She becomes aware of herself as a female among other females. She becomes now aware of societal role models. She becomes aware of men and what they idealize. She becomes aware of how perfectly she fits the mold or doesn't fit the mold. And, for the rest of her teens, she will measure herself to ideals. Hopefully, after her teens, when college comes with its "decade of the brain," she will realize that personality and intelligence carry a lot of weight. Hopefully, she will become comfortable in her own skin and reach her arms across her chest and hug herself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Babies Are Beautiful

I often wonder how a being with a bald head, out-of-proportion eyes, drooling mouth, pot belly and short little limbs can be breathtakingly beautiful. They aren't yet capable of loving, but everyone's response to them is pure, unconditional love. A new mother looks down into the face of her newborn: red in the face, shriveled like a raisin, matted hair, eyes shut, and curled in a ball. She loves him immediately. It is the end of their journey together and the start of their era of separateness.

At the moment of childbirth, every woman has the same aura of isolation, as though she were abandoned, alone.
Boris Pasternak

My Treefort and Dutchess the Horse

This picture instantly brought back memories of my tree fort. It was not a pre-fabricated playhouse or a parent-supervised construction project. It was me and a hammer and found wood pieces in the crotch of a large stand of trees in my backyard. To me, it looked like this picture here. It was my fantasy fort. Resplendent, but durable. What it lacked in structure, I made up for in imagination and embellishment.

I was probably age eight when I started building my fort. We were having an addition built on our home in Brookfield, CT and I pilfered nails and wood that were cast off from the big project. I built the first two floors first. The tree fort never got higher then two stories, but I always described it as a five-story fort. There was a "basement" which was created when the first floor went in and served as the dog kennel. There was a three foot by three foot first floor and a tiny second floor, which you accessed through the traditional "hatch-in-the-floor." On which one person could sit Indian-style (can I be politically correct and say that?). If two people were on the "third floor," they really could only stand hugging each other.

These were the original three floors. Then came a side house that was impressive with a window and a roof - this was known as story number four. Then its roof, story number five, served as a roof deck. Attached to the tree and to a big old stump, was a one by five piece of trim. It was probably five feet long or so. When resting on two ledges as it was, it served as a bouncy horse. I would pretend to be chased and mount my "horse," Dutchess as fast as I could and gallop off. Dutchess was a good friend. I made her a saddle and reins. Sure, I pinched my finger a few times, but some horses are peevish.

I still remember how my imagination made that treefort look. In my mind's eye, it is a culmination of childhood dreams and visions. If I looked at a picture of it today, it would no doubt look like the "eyesore" my father always saw when he looked at it. I am glad I never saw it through adult eyes. And so, it remains a palace!

Monday, August 29, 2005

I Learn Something New Everyday

Alternate title for this blog was: The Differences Between Porcupines and Hedgehogs, Besides Hedgehogs Being Dumb as Rocks's official. I DO learn something new everyday. You CAN teach this old dog new tricks. I found this great picture of some porcupine babies out on the Web. I really LOVE the photo and was marvelling at how dang cute they are. Of course, my next-cube neighbor had to rain on my parade by telling me that those are actually baby hedgehogs. So, the something new I learned today, is the difference between porcupines and hedgehogs. You'll find a very interesting educational rant on the subject here.

In Your Shoes...

"The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that fits all cases" ~Carl Gustav Jung
Or in this case, the shoe that fits the mommy, swims on the baby. Our babies want to be just like us at this age. They look up to us. We are their heroines. We hold the starring role in their lives for the first three or four years. Then, their peers take over. They stop wanting to wear our shoes and copy our lead.

At first, the shift is subtle. They will meet a little friend at nursery school or a revere an older cousin and all you will hear is, "Miranda does this." Or, "Jessie has that shirt, I want it, too." By the time they are eight or so, "Ew, Mom, those are gross! Those SO aren't my style!"

I guess I am writing this post to myself to remind myself to treasure these moments. I don't want to lose patience with Elena's copying of me and carrying my stuff all around the house. I need to remember that this starring role I have is not forever. At some points, I might even feel like a washed-up actress playing merely a bit part in my child's life.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Allegory of the Cave

This picture reminds me of the caves we saw when we went to Bermuda. I am not sure if the woman in the photo is actually standing in front of a cave, but it got me to thinking about Plato. In Plato's Repulic, he uses the "cave" as a teaching tool. It is meant to teach the nature and cost of choosing to remain unenlightened. Thinking and questing means suffering, but isn't suffering with knowledge better than living a completely sheltered life? Here is an excerpt from Plato’s Republic, Book 7: "Allegory of the Cave" to get you thinking:

"And now, I said (Plato), let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

- I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

- You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
This excerpt from Plato’s Republic, Book 7: "Allegory of the Cave" conveys his wise observations and philosophy on the human condition. This allegory has inspired my own research since it discloses a most exciting and mystical process that prepares and awakens man to his true destiny.

Plato's Allegory of the cave

" And now, I said (Plato), let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

- I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

- You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

So. What do you think? Is it better to see only representations and shadows, but be content in that? Or, do you think it would be better to be aware? If all of us are born prisoners who could awaken to a path of enlightenment, despite the inevitable pain and suffering, would you choose that route? I have chosen this path in my life and would make that same choice over and over again. However, don't ask me about it on a bad day.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Crying Hiccups

Is there anything that pulls more at your heartstrings then a crying baby? Tonight, Elena was sleeping in the car, in my mother's driveway. We were all inside eating dinner. My husband checked on her and she was awake and crying. She calmed down to a "simmer" once we brought her into the house. I was feeding her some bites of Chinese food and she was enjoying it...enjoying it so much, in fact, she felt the need to grab a handful of greasy food from the center of my plate. "NO...ELENA...NO!" Well, that was it. She was right back to sobbing hysterically and incosolably. She was even having those little sobbing hiccups.

And then it happened...She wanted Da(hicc)da(up). I had to turn her over to him, in her greatest moment of need. She didn't want me and I wanted more then anything to fold her like dough back into me. I miss the days when all I had to do to keep her happy is just hold her. Those days are gone. Her needs are more complex. She actually knows what she wants and doesn't want. And, sometimes, she just doesn't want me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Joe vs. the Margarita

I don't have many memories of my father drunk. In fact, I can really only conjure up two of them at this point. The reason my father "catching a buzz" is so rare is due in part to his being the self-appointed designated driver more often than not, in part because he grew up in a family where alcohol was incidental (instead of like mother's family, where it was basically another family member), and in part because he is 6' 5" and pushing 300 pounds.

Anyhow, one of these times was after a trip to Baxter's, a Southern California haunt (akin to Friday's). They had a concoction called a Mucho Margarita. You can see, of course, why this picture reminded me of that night. It was like my father finally found "his" world - a place where drinks were the size of his bear-sized hands and the cup and a half of tequilla actually affected his sobriety. He came home and lay on the floor. His two younger girls crawled all over him and played "floor Daddy" like we did every night after dinner. I looked on. I listened to the adults. I noticed the glazed look on my father's face. I think it was the first time I noticed how alcohol influences people.

Emblematic Exegesis

BABY, it says, in case I can't remember that this is, in fact, made for a baby. I don't understand why so many items these days have to have emblems and themes. Whatever happened to a simple embroidered teddy at the chest? What happened to "feetie" pajamas without pigs or dogs or fire hydrants stuck on out of patch material? How comfortable is all that "stuff" hanging off your clothes? Probably, not very.

My biggest pet peeve when Elena was a baby was when I got clothing that was of this ilk. Just for her first birthday, we got pajamas with a giant Care Bear face on the front. Even if it is to sleep in! When I peek in at night on Elena, and she is curled around her blankey, I want to focus on her simple beauty. I want to imagine her as a baby outside of time. I don't want one of those perma-grin, creepy characters smiling up at me from the crib.

Can someone please make pajamas without the product name across the front? Or, like the sweet boy in the picture, not detract from his cuteness, by feeling the need to announce that he is a BABY or that he is CUTE. As if we can't figure out, from his dimpled face and wide, innocent eyes, that he is one. We don't need advertisements in every single arena of our lives.

It won't be long before this little guy is asking for emblems. Team emblems on baseball caps or brand name sneakers and clothes. Until then, let's not pollute the innocence of his babyhood with stuck on adornments. He is just precious as he is. In fact, he might be MOST precious completely "nudie butt" in his birthday suit!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Black-eyed Peanut

They say all babies are born with blue eyes, but I find that hard to believe. This little one is quite young and is already sporting the deep black eyes of his mother. It is really interesting how genes choose to display themselves. My rudimentary understanding of genetics and Punnett squares enables me to figure out if brown eyes should be expected, if blue eyes are possible, if brown eyes are impossible and so on. I am great with one or two gene combinations. However, throw a multi-gene trait, such as my daughter's red hair color, at me and I am completely flummoxed.

Perhaps the strangest story of eye color comes from one of my imaginary friends who swears, up and down, that her daughter is the only one in the family with brown eyes. I have to go back to my genetics book to see how this is possible. As far as I know, it is not. Any geneticists out there?

This little guy proudly wears his brown-black eyes. Someday, he will marry and carry those dominant browns into another relationship. Is it possible he will help to create a blue-eyed child? Depends on if he is packing a hidden little b (gene for blue eyes is recessive). I can only tell you that no matter what color eyes they wear, he will make beautiful children. Those genes are strong. Those genes for beauty in a baby carry matter what.

Painted Baby

Circuses scare me. Carnies scare me. Gypsies scare me. Why is it that these wandering, modern-day-nomads frighten me so? Is it that I moved many, many times in my life and these groups symbolize that uprooting to me? Is it that their tight-knit communities are exclusive and I feel shut out? Could it be that they have been the subject of too many a disturbing movie or TV show?

Now, I know circuses scare me because they have clowns. I guess I have coulrophobia (fear of clowns). Their painted faces obscure my ability to read what they are thinking. Masks affect me the same way. I didn't realize though, that the fear of clowns was so common. Why in the world are they so popular at kids parties?


Postscript: This is the cutest baby ever! Look for pictures of her in all her glory later. She's a beautiful girl, I am sorry she made me think of clowns.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Daryl the Dogigator

Gerry sent me this picture. He said, "Now, I KNOW you can do something with Daryl the Dogigator." Wha......? What the hell is a dogigator? Well, here you see Daryl. Here is the back of his Time-Life Wildlife Collector's Card:

Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Canine
Species: Domesticus
Favorite Food: crawfish or bunnies
Habitat: swampy and marshy areas in the Southeast United States. Also, seen domesticated in some circus acts and zoos.

Sorry, Gerry, I can't do better with the dogigator...


Postscript: Can anyone help me remember what those wildlife cards sold on TV in the 70's/80's were called? They came in a plastic caddy. They were wildlife themed, but I think they had others, autos and machines. I don't know. It's driving me insane!


I am going to break tradition here. I am going to write an essay on one of my own pictures. It's in the form of a letter to my daughter...

Dear Elena,

You are so special to me and your father. All children are special to their parents, but not every child is special like you are. You are different. You were born with red hair. This may seem like nothing too earth hair is common, right? No. It's not. It's especially not common in our family. You are unique. And it's made even more special by the sheer number of people who stop you on the street and comment on it.

"Oh, a redhead!"
"What a sweet coppertop!"
"Goodness, she's precious..."
"I can't BELIEVE that red hair!"

It's a real gift to have that red hair. I want you to always know that it is a symbol of how unique you are to us. It can be hard to be different sometimes. I hope you can always remember this and wear that beautiful red proudly!


Sneaking Up On You

There is a time, when you hold tight to your baby and they just lay there in your arms. They look at you with slightly muddy, baby vision and start to identify that you are someone who will protect them and love them. Your fears are simple: are they eating enough? drinking enough? dry in the diaper area? Slowly, as you change diapers and wipe noses, they learn to sit and then stand and then walk. They toddle for awhile and you hold your breath as they fall over and over again. They develop language. First one word, then two, then sentences, then they prattle on incessantly.

I am reminded of those TV commercials that compress a person's entire life into a 30-second spot. They show, for example, a young boy playing with a ball and bat, then climbing on the bus, then off to college, married, cradling his own baby, then biking with his own kids, then grandkids, and finally, sitting in a chair peacefully overlooking the many generations he has spawned. Those ads make me livid. HOW DARE YOU SELL A CREDIT CARD BY MAKING ME CRY LIKE THIS!!! I certainly don't want the impermanence of life used to persuade me into a new credit card or life insurance or Kleenex.

But, in some sense, those ads reveal a truth. Time sneaks up on you. You have a teeny baby and then, one day, you look up and they are running down the beach away from you. They have become a kid. They are not a baby. They are not a toddler. They are independent and capable. They have taken off and are running down the beach away from you. You want to drop the camera and chase after them. Swaddle them in a beach towel and hold them tight. But, you don't, you let them have some distance, you capture the moment on film instead. You are a good parent. You let them go, however hard it is for you, because you know that that is what is best for them.

Leading From Behind

In the consulting world there is a concept called leading from behind. The premise is that if I can make you aware of the problem and the proper solution, but you feel like you came up with it all on your own, then you will continue to want me around. A good consultant doesn't boss you, they encourage you and lead you from behind...without you realizing you are being led.

A good parent does the same thing. They lead their young child to make decisions in their best interest.

Maybe you would rather read this book, then play with that light socket.

Maybe I will just put this broccoli here on your tray and not put any other food down...if it's the only choice, maybe it will be chosen.

My grandmother once uttered a line that has become famous in our family. She was about ready to blow up in my two-year-old sister, Ashley's, face. She was about to break the cardinal rule and ORDER a two-year-old to, FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-PETE-SHUT-UP. So, she began..."Ashley...WOULD YOU..." and caught herself and sang in a timorous voice while wielding a spatula, "Ashley eat the toast, Grandmommy cook the egg. Ashley eat the toast, Grandmommy cook the egg. Ashley eat the..." You get the picture. Out frustration was born a moment in family history. The fmaily now says, if you are stressed and look like you are going to burst, "looks like you are 'cooking the egg' again!" OR "She looked like she 'cooked one too many eggs.'"

This picture debunks my theory. This child is not being led from behind, but she is doing the leading. At six months, she is in charge and extends one confident finger to prove it. Is it possible that our babies ALWAYS lead from behind? Have I had it wrong all these years? Who really is the one in control?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I Love Me...I Mean, You

My mom says people always look alike in their engagement photos. She and my dad enjoy looking at the Ridgefield Press, when it comes out every Thursday, and pointing this out to each other. It's a theory they have both held for years, so I argue that they only notice those couples that validate their theory. I also think it is the lighting in the photos. People's pictures taken with a professional lighting system will cast certain shadows on the face...blah blah blah...OK, it's not a very scientific theory. I just think lighting has something to do with it, OK? But stil, they insist that coupling is a narcissistic venture.

I think this picture I received proves my parents' viewpoint on this subject...what do you think?

Tiny Boy in a Big Boy Coat

This is the most beautiful picture. It's not only the adorable boy in it, but what the big coat conveys to me. It's as if, he is aware of the fact that he is small. He has stepped out of baby-reality, which isn't even aware that "I" am an "I" or that "You" are a "You." For a moment, it is as if he is contemplating his size. This coat is made for someone bigger. Maybe I will be that someone someday? Where is my hand? Why are my arms so short?

This reminds me of a story I heard once. I have no idea of its verity. There is no way to corroborate it, as it is based on hearsay. The story goes like this...A mother went out and bought her newborn son a very classy, very fancy, very expensive suit. On his actual day of birth and every subsequent birthday, she would fit the garment over him and take a picture. At the age of 18, he finally grew into the suit fully. It was at that moment she realized that if he now fit into a man's suit, he must be a man. He was no longer her baby. She had the pictures to prove it.

Two postscripts to this story.
1) I would never do this to myself. See my post on milestones to understand why.
2) What if that "suit" had been bought in the 70's...can you even imagine how torn you would be between crying at your handsome grown up son and laughing your head off at the styles that were acceptable in the 70's?

Uniforms and Time Clocks

I always lumped uniforms in with time clocks as facets of blue collar life. You put on a uniform and a hair net, you go to your job and you clock in, you finish your day you clock out. They are pratical for the blue collar worker and the employer. It's a win/win situation. School uniforms serve a similar purpose.

Time clocks and uniforms have something else in common I hadn't thought of until I saw this picture. See if you can follow my logic. For some time now, I have been ruminating about time clocks. When I started my new job, I feared that I would now have to clock in and out through a computer interface. I thought this would make me feel very constricted. I have always thought of uniforms as constricting too...But alas, the converse is true.

One person is not more popular than another due to the clothes they wear. You cannot make judge a child's wealth due to their name-brand school clothes versus their Wal-Mart specials. All students are equal in uniforms.

The same goes for my time clock system at work. I am required to work eight hours a day. I come in, log on, work eight hours and go home. There are no brownie points for staying late or coming in super early. I can work 7-3 or 10-6. It doesn't matter. I am not always looking over my shoulder to see who is "beating" me by staying later or coming in earlier. I know we are all on the same timer.

So, time clocks and uniforms though they may seem constricting, are great at enabling equality. There just might be some comfort in looking like everyone else and being just a number on time sheet.

Flip the Sibling

These two, made from the same genetic soup in the same womb, try to fuse themselves together. Like attracts like. What is the origin of this struggle? A silly wrestle? A game of "flip the sibling"? A fight for the mother's love?

This reminds of my sister in childhood. My sister Cate, who at this time in her life was known as Casey, always wanted to be with my mother. We were five years apart, she and I and this was a gulf the size of a canyon. For the first six years of her life or so, we were arch enemies. She took over my mother's attention from me with her ardent presence. She would cling to my mother, hug her legs, demand her lap and took all that doting, doting I had never needed nor acknowledged, and bathed in it. As an adult, Cate describes her attachment to my mother by saying she was shocked by being outside the womb and spent the first years of her life trying to find a way back into the belly.

Are all clingy children looking for that return to their mother's womb? Are these two depicting a physical representation of this wish to return to their genesis? Do they try to best each other subconsciously knowing, "There's not enough room for the both of us in there"?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Choose Your Own Ending

Upon first glance, this is a very sweet moment. Brother and sister fishing on the dock together. Mom and Dad sit in Adirodack chairs looking on, sipping Ceasars. If they were not so engrossed in their own conversation, they would notice that SHE is attempting to teach Brother how to fish PROPERLY. HE is not happy with it and the two are actually locked in a struggle. A game of chicken. A fishing pole, WITH a hook and surrounded by water. What do you suppose happened next?

A) A fight? There is a huge sibling outburst and the parents somehow get ensnared.

B) A splash? One or both of the siblings ends up in the water.

C) A trip to the Emergency Room? Hook through the tender skin of the under eye or lip.

Since I made the whole thing up, we shall never know. Unless you are deperate to know, then leave me a comment and vote and I will finish it.

Not a Dog Person

The great question nature vs. nurture is brought to light here. Are babies born dog-people or cat-people? We all know the population is divided in half on this subject. What we don't all know, but I do, is that little Emma (the baby scrunching her face in the photo) lives in a home with cats. So, would you think that perhaps, she was born a cat person? Born thinking dogs are slobbery and gross? Born enjoying a pet that is smaller than her? Born liking a pet who prefers walking gracefully BY you, as opposed to bounding headfirst AT you? A cat purrs and nudges. A dog barks and demands you give full! What if our prediliction towards one pet or another is an indicator of whether we will be introverted or extroverted?

I leave you with this Deep Thought, by Jack Handey. It doesn't quite apply, but it's one of my favorites nonetheless:

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Clutch - A Haiku

Clutching my sister
Slippery childhood drowns us
But I won't let it

(wow...not only was that cheating to write in the shortest literary form available, but it was also depressing).

Sorry...I will do better next time.
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