thothmes: Jack O'Neill is sitting at a table surrounded by desserts and is chowing.  Legend: Eat dessert first, Life's too short. (Eat Dessert First - LTS)
Well, now that Thanksgiving dinner has been made and consumed (I'm soooo looking forward to the lentil soup made from the lamb bone, and having leftover sweet potatoes at lunch tomorrow) it's time to wish all of you living here in the States a happy Thanksgiving, and some of you out there a happy Hanukkah. I hope that your day was rich with blessings.

As always, I am thankful to live here in Vermont where other people vacation. I am thankful for the families that raised me, and the family that raised my husband. Mine were intelligent, gentle, kind, and perceptive with a love of music, books, languages, literature, and travel. His are a passionate and welcoming group with a wide range of interests, a zest for games of all sorts, and a wonderful sense of inquiry and a persistent desire to reach a consensus on a win-win arrangement for every problem. I am thankful to have been granted a life where just when I'm trying to figure out how to turn my lemons into lemonade, somehow I find they've become lemon meringue pie while I wasn't paying attention. I seem to be lucky that way. This afternoon I was enormously thankful for the warmth of the woodstove after a very bracingly chilly five miles of exercise!

This year I have been especially glad for all the old friends I have rediscovered through social media, the acquaintances that I've made connections with that we never would have made back when we were young, and trapped behind the defensive walls of our teenage and young adult insecurities, and for the new people who have set up home in my heart. You bring your interests, your passions, and your experiences into my day, and I am much the richer for it. And finally, here or there, some of you have said from time to time that some words or ideas that I have shared have brightened your day or eased a trouble for a time. That means a great deal to me, because with the karma I've had in my life so far, I'd better be building some great store of karma for the future, so I don't spend it all in one place! Seriously, one and all, I invite you all to share metaphorically in my bounty, and to receive my thanks. You are part of what makes it such a glorious journey.
thothmes: Jack in Ba'al's holding cell is yelling at Ascended Daniel.  Legend: Aaaaaaarrrrrgh! (Aaaarrrrgh!)
Peeve the First

I mentioned back on May 13th that in lieu of going out to dinner on that night in May to celebrate our anniversary, Beloved Husband and I were holding out for September 13th, when we could say that we had been married for 33 1/3 years and 1/3 day, a full third of a century. Back in May, we talked to a restauranteur in our community, and made sure he could make modifications to handle my dietary needs (very low cholesterol, plenty of veggies, no pecans or walnuts, carbs better if whole grain, and served in portions amounting to 30 to 40 g carbohydrate max). He looked up for me whether the date was actually one when they were going to be open, and said he was sure he could do something lovely. So far so good.

A week ago Tuesday, we called and officially got our reservation, and I sent the restauranteur my dietary needs and prohibitions as an email, so he could have them to consult when and as needed. I began to search around our small town for babysitters. This is complicated by the fact that when your town is small enough that 21 is the Biggest Elementary School Class EVAR, and this year we will graduate 3 - yes, 3! In some years the pool of available sitters is small. I teach swimming and taught French as a volunteer in the school. I know these kids, and out of the limited pool there are some I would nevereverever trust to watch the high-spirited Whirlwind. By that Saturday I had someone lined up. Whew!

On Tuesday of this week she canceled. Okay. Back to the list. No luck that day. The next day, I succeeded in getting a "I'd love to do it if I don't have to work that night. I can let you know tomorrow afternoon." Never did hear back from her, so I hit the phones Thursday night, and managed to get a classmate of Middle Daughter's who was willing to do it. Whew again!

On the day, I was busy much of the day, getting some cleaning done, getting a meal ready for The Whirlwind, and getting showered and ready in a nice outfit. We only go out every two to three years, so this was an Occasion. Once I was ready, with 10 minutes to go before the babysitter was due, and 40 minutes until our reservation, I sat down to check my email. Maybe one of my kids had written. There was a notification of a Facebook message sent two hours previously. Our sitter had canceled.

Grumps. Despair. A futile attempt to find a substitute close enough to fill in at the last second (as if I hadn't already called almost everyone already).

Finally Beloved Husband called up to the Inn, explained our problem, and asked to have them pack up our meal as takeout.

The ambiance left a little to be desired, ("If it's just you two, why can't I come down? Can I come down and get my light-up stuffie? How is your dinner? Is it sooo good? Daddy, can you save me some of your cheesecake?") but there we were, elegantly dressed, and the company was the best there is. The food was pretty good too.

So - Pet Peeve Number One - Baby Sitters Who Cancel Without Warning Or Consideration

Middle Daughter says it was a case of she decided that she didn't want to do it, and bailed. She told us that she was feeling indisposed. She's all about all the fun of the Fair today. Hmmm... I thought I knew her better than that.

Pet Peeve the Second

Our landline (the only phone that works where we are) has a HORRIBLE BUZZ. Yeah, I was shouting just then. So does it. I called the phone company to troubleshoot it. They had me unplug all the phones and the modem for at least 5 minutes, and then go to the outside box, disconnect the house, and plug an old-fashioned totally wired phone in. Yeah, being middle aged, we have one of those. The disconnecting fixed nothing, the buzz was still there, so the agent said they would send someone out the next day, and that the problem was definitely in their lines, and not within our house. So we expected it to be fixed the next day (Friday). Nope.

Apparently, they decided that since I had a soprano voice, I'd done something wrong. They decided to wait to see if we continued to complain, or if the name on the account (a masculine name) was able to fix what some poor woman could not. Their line test had shown a zero (no problem) so I must be lying.

Beloved Husband called back after our dinner, and got immediate, prompt, courteous agreement that there was indeed a problem, that it indeed needed to be fixed, and that they would send someone as soon as possible (Monday), and oh, by the way, Mr. Posessed-of-a-Bass-Voice, we re-did the line test, and there is indeed a short, and the problem is clearly not in your home.

So - Pet Peeve the Second - Sexism from My Fellow Females, Because Both Agents Were Female

This is not the first time. One of Eldest Daughter's teachers gave her a B for her quarter grade when she had received no grade below an A. He admitted to her that he had erred and told her he would fix it (three separate times!, no action), he told me the same thing (twice!, no action), and when Beloved Husband called, it was fixed the very next day. With a single phone call. The funny thing is that Beloved Husband sounds gentle and polite on the phone, even with people he doesn't care for, because he was raised to be polite. He is not out there Teal'c-ifying them into submission at all!


For you out there who are not Peeves, but f-list instead, thank you for listening. I feel so much better now.
thothmes: Carter and O'Neill in wedding dress and tux gazing fondly at each other from the episode 200 (Wedding in 200 - Private Moment)
In May of 1979 my father, the veteran of 3 failed marriages, then living happily with his girlfriend, sat my boyfriend and I down in the living room, and explained that he'd married three times for the wrong reason. He'd married because he'd seen the beauty and the potential in 3 women, and then these women had failed to change in the ways he'd expected them to do. He explained that marriage put certain societal expectations on a woman, and living together without marriage put a different set of expectations on her. As an unmarried woman people would be more accepting of my putting my priority on my needs and my career, whereas as part of a married couple, they'd expect me to subsume a certain amount of who I was and who I wanted to be into the needs of my husband's career. We were free to choose our path, but couldn't we consider living together, just for a little while?

I'd made a promise to my father that I wouldn't get engaged until he'd had a chance to have his say, and that I'd listen to him with an open heart and mind. I kept my word. I took in all he had to say. We both said that his points were very valid, and we'd consider them. My dad, who is early to bed and early to rise (the night owl biology is all from the other side of the family) said his goodnights and went up to bed.

My boyfriend looked at me, and I looked at him, drowning, as I always do, in his black-lashed blue eyes with the best eye-crinkles of happiness when he smiles.

"Will you marry me?" he said quietly.

I didn't hesitate for a moment. I knew this one was the one: honest and honorable, loyal, loving, and true, intelligent, with a quick, clever sense of humor and the ability to laugh at himself and the conviction that people are good and compromise and finding the win-win solution is the way to live, committed to leaving the world better than he found it, and stubborn enough to ensure that I couldn't just out-stubborn him and win, and yet flexible enough to know when to stand up for his point of view and when to give way, and very, very, very patient. We'll skip over the incidental facts that he's lean (still!) and tall, with unrepentant dark hair that is now shading into "distinguished", and very good in bed, because you don't want to know that. [font="unrepentant"]Oh. Oops.[/font="unrepentant"]

"Yes," I whispered. Much huggage ensued.

The next morning my father took it well.

"I wanted you to make an informed decision," he said. "One that's right for you."

"I did, Dad" I said.


Which means that on this day in May, thirty-three years ago, we married. Like all couples, we've had our hard times and our easy times, our good days and our bad (and for some reason we have a positive talent for scheduling our bad days on the same day- it's a gift) but I can honestly say that our decision to marry is one we have never regretted, even for an instant. Dad was right to warn me, because when society tried to put its pressures and expectations on me, I could see them as such, and act accordingly.

A year later, seeing how little our marriage had spoiled our relationship, my dad and his girlfriend snuck down to city hall, and found a justice of the peace to marry them. They have been very happy together. She was the right one, the one he loved for who she was, no alterations needed.

Are we doing anything special today? Well, small gifties, but nothing much else. We're waiting for September 13th, when we will hire a sitter and go out for a Very Fancy Dinner to celebrate 33 1/3 years (a third of a century!) together.
thothmes: (AsgardPuppyEyes)
The Whirlwind was (finally) abed. Peace and contentment abounded. Beloved Husband has Tuesdays off, so we were enjoying a few moments of grown-up conversation, with me telling him the most interesting bits of new science/medical/archaeology abstracts that I was finding on-line, him playing a fairly old-style computer game [Empire] while the two of us were keeping half an eye on the NHL playoffs. The Siamese cat came strolling up to get some love and attention.

Something was wrong. Seal Point Siamese come in dark brown and cream, one shading into the other, with white on the tummy. They do not usually have goopy dark pink splotches. Something was wrong.

I gave the cat to Beloved Husband to wipe down with paper towel, and see what could be removed. I went upstairs to The Whirlwind's room, where the light was on.

"I told you if I found your light on after hours, the bulb would be confiscated, so that's gone," I said, "And where is the lipstick you stole from your sister and used on the cat?"

I saw the thing and picked it up, and waited for her answer. Ever seen Jack O'Neill caught red handed deny it absolutely?

"What lipstick?" said The Whirlwind. "Didn't do anything with lipstick!"

This was especially unconvincing since she had pink all over what she was wearing, her stomach, her neck, and in the general time zone of her lips. And I was holding the container that used to hold the lipstick, and its lid, and the pink-smeared tissues she'd tried to clean up a bit with. She's ten. The only way this could be less convincing was if she was a 6'2" fifty-ish male.

My expression registered Highly Dubious on the upper end of the scale.

"Well, maybe a little," she said.

"Go down and report to Daddy," I said, and took the lipstick to Middle Daughter.

"Is this the only one missing?" I said.

She checked.

"Whirlwind!" I called down "Where is the other one you took?"

"In the bottom drawer!" She answered.

At least there was some left of that one.

She and Beloved Husband spent half an hour sliming her with canola oil and wiping lipstick diluted with canola oil off her body. Eventually, she was deemed sufficiently unlikely to ruin clothing enough to don a different outfit and head off to bed, still rather pink, but no longer contagiously so.

The poor patient 16 year old cat has finally, finally grown her whiskers back from the trim The Whirlwind gave her some 6 months ago. The fur under her neck has finally almost grown back from the shave the vet gave her to be able to draw blood for testing back in December, when she went down to less than 4 lbs. and almost died. Now she's going to be splotches of pink for a while. The vet's gonna love that one when we see her at the end of the month.

Have I mentioned that we have forbidden The Whirlwind any makeup, no matter how innocuous and easy to remove, and told Middle Daughter that she needs to keep hers locked up, so that this sort of incident can't happen? That we have provided Middle Daughter with a lock box, which she occasionally uses?

Space aliens. I tell ya', I live with space aliens.
thothmes: Jack with goggles screwing his face up, TMI! (That's Just TMI!)
I ran across this meme, thanks to [ profile] spiletta42, and am doing it here. It lists a number of things, and asks the participant to cross out those things he/she has done. Because the real fun is not in the crossing out but in the explaining, I have put it all under a cut for length, here )

See. I can procrastinate with the best of them, especially when it comes to bedtimes!
thothmes: Jack O'Neill is sitting at a table surrounded by desserts and is chowing.  Legend: Eat dessert first, Life's too short. (Eat Dessert First - LTS)
So yesterday was the deadline for applications, and here's the score:

Colleges she had chosen to apply for: 5
Colleges she succeeded in applying for: 4
Merit scholarship auditions she could apply for: 1
Merit scholarship auditions she did apply for: 1
Number of missed notes: 2
Number of people in the immediate household: 4
Number of highly relieved people in the immediate household: 4

Somehow, some way, whether by dint of nagging, by a number of very late nights, by parental out-stubborning, or by finally (dawn over Marblehead!) understanding where her self-interest lay, we got to the win-win.


Thanks to all of you for hearing my whine. Sometimes blowing off steam in an ancillary way prevents the full boiler explosion, and that would not have been pretty, and there's only so much looking at each other, shaking our heads, and saying "It's not just us, is it? It isn't just a hopelessly old fashioned outlook right? It's her attitude not ours, right? Right? RIGHT???!!!" that Beloved Husband and I can do.

I can report that there were no stranglings, no smacking around, no high-blood pressure mediated stroke events, and no words said on the parental side that we regret saying. Woot!

For those of you chancing upon this who don't know me and may be considering the necessity of contacting the authorities on an issue of child safety, please know that in the above paragraph only the last thing mentioned was in actual danger of happening. Child abuse is just as wrong as voluntary cannibalism, and we don't allow it here.
thothmes: Jack in Ba'al's holding cell is yelling at Ascended Daniel.  Legend: Aaaaaaarrrrrgh! (Aaaarrrrgh!)
So done I probably look like one of Jack O'Neill's blackened shards of meat.

Alternate Title For Post: You Can Lead A Teen To Water, But You Can't Make Her Drink

Middle Daughter believes that communicating with parents and teachers is for wimps. She believes that she must DO ALL THE THINGS herself without any grown-up type help. This gets her in trouble time and again BUT SHE DOES NOT LEARN.

We have been over and over what she needs to do to get her college applications done, and I have repeatedly asked for a list of what is due when. "It's okay, Mom. Stop freaking out. They all require the common app, I'm on it, and financial aid stuff is due Feb. 1st." I believed her. She is after all, a truthful kid. Oooops!

She informed me Friday that one of her schools requires the [major, major, major pain-in-the-ass] CSS Profile financial aid application by Jan. 15th. We don't even have W-2 forms back yet. No other forms either. I have to reconstruct everything from stubs, research, etc. I spent all weekend getting the PAIN IN THE ASS FORM done.

On the way I discovered that one of her schools has a merit scholarship for musicians (she is a gifted pianist, with a good voice) she can apply to, but she needs a CD of 2 classical pieces, unedited, from two different eras, and it has to be postmarked by Jan. 15th. She has great difficulty figuring out why her parents think a shot at $14,000 each of 4 years should be prioritized over seeing the boyfriend. To her credit she did practice before and after a shortened visit to the boyfriend yesterday, and spent hours practicing today, but only one of the pieces was mistake free and ready to be put on disk this evening. She'll try again on the second piece, a very difficult Debussy nocturne, tomorrow.

I discovered that one of her schools (application deadline with better chance of admission Nov. 1st, 2012, ordinary deadline Jan. 20th) doesn't use the common application. Oh, and it requires 2 essays.

I discovered that the application deadline for her only reach school was Jan. 1st, 2013, so that one's gone, although I chased down and entered extra CSS Profile info for the place, and paid for sending copies of her standardized tests to them before I knew this.

I discovered that she probably will not be able to audition at her first choice college, because she's late signing up for auditions, so most of the slots are filled. She needed to audition at the school that doesn't use the common app by Nov. 1st, so that's right out. If she gets in maybe she can audition for next year?

Two of the schools require a supplement to the common app. She didn't know that, and wrote a crappy last minute essay for one, because her physics midterm is tomorrow, but at least both supplemental applications can be faxed from Beloved Husband's office tomorrow and meet the deadline. The essay is about how she'd like to start an LGBT support group (the question is about what club would she choose to start at the college if she was going to start one). I certainly hope they aren't Very Conservative. Of course if they are, that college and Middle Daughter would not be a good mix, so there's that...

Now I'm tired, and grumpy, and have had no time to relax for 3 days. I've been spending my weekends with,,, and the websites of 5 colleges. I will say, that the FAFSA site is refreshingly idiot proof, and so is their help site. [There was a question of how to handle something that "must match your Social Security Card exactly" when it would not allow enough characters to do that.] Beloved Husband has spent his weekend researching things at our online banking site, and the bennies office of both organizations that he works for, and wrangling The Whirlwind.

We've both spent time arguing with Middle Daughter, whose attitude is "Look, I'm too busy to deal with this now. I'm too stressed. I can't do it. I checked the websites carefully. I don't know why Mom could find it and I couldn't. I guess she's just better at that sort of thing. Sorry. Anyway, I'll get to it whenever. It's just going to have to go in late." As if colleges would care that my Special Snowflake was too busy to make the deadline, and give her extra consideration that others don't get.

Maybe we should press gang her into the Marines. It might be the only way to get her to understand that Rules are Rules. They apply to you too. Even if you don't like it. No exceptions for being you. Not that we haven't spent 17 years trying to teach that.

I thought that 17 year olds, who spend their entire lives plugged in to the internet, who have no clue how to research anything in paper books or periodicals, who don't know how to use an old fashioned library file card system, and think all human knowledge is found on the web, were actually better at finding out info on the web than 54 year old homemakers, who did all their graduate research in a brick and mortar library, and only got on the web some 10 years ago.

I was wrong.

Can I weep now?
thothmes: A clump of evergreens, seen dimly through snow (Trees through Snow)
It has been winter here lately. Not old fashioned, real Vermont winter, mind you, although we did have a few days of that at the very beginning of the year, but winter, with light fluffy snow. The ski places have been doing land office business, and the economy has been benefiting greatly from the influx of folks from away, spending money in local shops. After last year's almost total flop of a winter, things are good.

Now I don't alpine ski. My parents weren't of that socio-economic class when I was growing up, and besides, my husband sees too many knees of people who do alpine skiing to really encourage it in those he loves. I've been doing nordic skiing since I was 12 though, and that's the exercise I choose when snow is coming down, and if I chose to walk or run I would have to be arguing right-of-way with the plows. I have the right of way, but plows are big, and I don't want to be right, but dead. So I've been doing some nordic skiing around our back acres, and I've been having such fun with it that I've been doing it even on some bright sunny days. Cold, clear, fresh air, sunshine, and a pleasant feeling of being out and about. What's not to like?

Today I went out to ski (a little rushed and a little late due to having to deal with the issues of paying for the next session of figure skating and of The Whirlwind's lost ski poles before she goes to Ski Runners on Friday) so there I was, stepping into my bindings at 1:30, when I'd intended to be out there by 1:00 p.m. at the latest. I'm just slipping my hands into the straps on the poles and gripping them when an unearthly howl rises up behind me. It's loud, it's wild, and it's not very far off. Coyotes, and plenty of them, in the middle of the day, in broad daylight. It was eerie and beautiful, and totally unexpected at that time of day. It made my day.

Our neighbor's dog? Not so much. The poor fellow spent the next half hour sending out periodic "I'm here! My pack is here!" barks, before he finally gave up and quieted down. Generally speaking, he's not a very talkative fellow.

Our neighbors are freaked out by having coyotes in the area. I'm not. I love it. These are wild animals, and they are shy. I'm not silly enough to let my cats roam outside, not because of the coyotes, but because of the fisher cats, who think cats are yummy good eatin' when they can't get wild turkey. Dogs are required to be on a lead, although it's a law more honored in the breach. I am one of the very few in town who has actually seen a live coyote. He was traveling on his own, and was padding across a snowy field about two years ago as winter was fading into spring, and he was making for the road to cross it and get back to the woods on the other side. He got a look at me, and abruptly decided he wanted to head back to the woods he'd come from.

I love coyotes. Then again, I don't keep either sheep or chickens.
thothmes: O'Neill Salutes.  "Thanks to All Who Serve" (Thanks To All Who Serve)
This was the scariest election that I can remember. The nation is so polarized. Everybody was demonizing everybody else. People on both sides genuinely believed (and, I'm sure, still do believe) that the soul of the nation was in the balance. Huge proportions of the population woke up Tuesday convinced that they needed to speak up for the sake of the nation.

Here in my small town, with no local races on the battle except a zoning matter (whether we would allow smaller lot sizes in the center of town when most people live outside the center and wouldn't be affected) 83% of us voted. We're a pretty solid blue state. No one here felt that our presidential ballot would change the election results, and yet 83% of us came out. This was a passionate election.

It is done. I wanted to say that it's all done but the shouting and the counting, but I am terribly, terribly afraid that that would be prophetic. Because that is the last thing we need. We need to count every vote and make sure every voice is heard, but after the counting is done, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start trying to build something together! We need to remember the old saying about hanging together lest we should hang separately. We're a country that has enormous will and energy, and a proud tradition of working together for common goals. Like siblings, we bicker, and grouse, and point fingers as we do it, but attack one of us, and the rest of us pile on the attacker. Lately we've been forgetting that. We've been forgetting that we're all in this TOGETHER. There's very little we can't do if we all work with a will for our common goals. If we concentrate on our commonalities, if we all concentrate on what we agree on, if we all agree to disagree with civility, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, nothing can stop us. Because that's who we are.
thothmes: O'Neill Salutes.  "Thanks to All Who Serve" (Thanks To All Who Serve)
Okay, so CNN has a page here (Campaign Explorer) where you can see how much each of the presidential campaigns have spent, nationally and state-by-state. My sympathies to those of you in the battleground states. Here in Vermont, Obama has spent 0 dollars. Romney has spent 0 dollars. Of course we share television coverage with New Hampshire (5.46 million dollars Obama, 1.27 million Romney) so we are not campaign ad virgins, but still, I love living in a state that doesn't actively attract all than nonsense, because really, you guys, are any of you guys a dim enough bulb to base your vote on what you saw in one of those ads? I know people do, that they say the Willie Horton ad [Wikipedia article here] was a watershed. But you guys are all smarter than that, I know. You look at all the issues, and make up your minds based on facts and clearly stated positions, not emotional flim-flam, right?

I'm only going to say this once, people.


or loose your right to complain for the next 4 years.
thothmes: Teal'c Sam & Jack face the gate staring (WTF?)
I do not live in California. I live in Vermont. We have a little (for those of you who are Californian, read "barely perceptible") tremblor once every few years. On the tenth there was a 3.9 quake in Quebec, which we could have felt if we were up at 4:19 that morning. We slept through that. now there was a 4.5 (possible 4.6) earthquake centered around Lake Arrowhead, Maine, which we definitely did feel, and it rumbled like the dryer having a rough start up (although that might have been part of the house moving around to cause the noise).

Now when I lived in Greece this would have been a big nothing. Ho-hum. *yawn* But this is New England.

[Eyes overfull and not tied or strapped bookcases speculatively]

I'll say it again, Mother Earth, slowly in case you didn't get it the first time. N--e--w E--n--g--l--a--n--d.

Oh, and for those of you with geology backgrounds. Yes. I know that earthquakes can happen here too. But I'm spoiled, I tell you, spoiled, and I expect this to stop right now!!!

ETA: The U.S.G.S. has, since I posted, revised their rating of the quake in Maine from 4.5 (where they had initially pegged it although they soon moved that up to 4.6) down to 4.0. I didn't want to leave that overinflated number out there, because on the Richter scale, that difference matters.
thothmes: Carter smiling by bookcases.  Mmmm!  Books. (Mmmm!  Books.)
First of all (and most closely related to the icon above) there's this:

The Whirlwind does not like to read or be read to, AT ALL. It is just hard for her to sit still that long, and she has resisted any book longer than a picture book like most kids resist a healthy serving of Spinach Liver Mushroom Surprise. That includes when we read them to her, and keep in mind that Beloved Husband and I are not the type to read haltingly in a monotone. We try to make it exciting, a dramatic production. We read with expression, and if it's me, I do the voices and accents. Beloved Husband, who knows what his strengths are and are not doesn't do accents, but does do voices. Neither of us are expecting an Academy Award or anything, but we do try to provide interest, and each one of my kids have been notable standouts among their classmates for reading with expression, because it never occurs to them that it would be otherwise. Be that as it may, I've carefully chosen chapter books that will speak to The Whirlwind's interests, and she has HATED having them read to her, even when she has loved the books when we get to the end of them. Reading, she hates it, she hates it, she does!

Well recently Beloved Husband went to a conference about treating a wide spectrum of childhood problems and disorders with in the context of the whole family. The man who was speaking was basically trying to transmit the message that what ever a kid's problem, whether it is ADHD, depression, teen drug use, etc., etc., etc., it cannot be divorced from genetics and the family setting. Okay. Well, duh! Little apples don't fall far from trees, but in our case, The Whirlwind is a graft, and although she is very much part of the whole, we can only take responsibility for the nurture part of the nature/nurture environment.

There was an interesting series of studies the man quoted, though, which showed some improvement in executive functioning following a program of daily reading to Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. We suspect that any reasonable baroque keyboard works would do, although The Well-Tempered Clavier is notably spare, with a great deal of structure and counterpoint. We had already decided that The Whirlwind would have to earn TV by reading, because we knew what the more time she put in, the more fluent she became (she already reads well above grace level, in spite of putting little time in, but every bit helps) the more she could get sucked in to what she read. Based on the study (which we view with healthy skepticism, remembering well all the Mozart Effect hysteria of a few years back, which has not resulted in a spate of super-intelligent babies) we decided that it wouldn't hurt her, and who knows, it might help, so we told her that she would need to sit and read for half an hour each day, no excuses, while listening to music of our choosing. Turns out she really likes the Well Tempered Clavier.

So there she was, doing her daily reading, with a book I'd picked out for her as being right up her alley, a novel-length retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and when she was done, she said "You know Mom, I never knew before that reading could be so much fun!"


I have no illusions that this will mean that she will suddenly morph into a bookworm. She is who she is, and she will always be a moving target. She will always prefer to do and actively experience, rather than read about it. But at least she now sees what all the fuss is about, and there is nothing more wonderful than transmitting a great joy and delight to a one's offspring.

And in other news, Only Son, who has been looking for a regular paid, salaried job in his field since he prepared to graduate in May of 2011 with a degree in computer science and a minor in philosophy, has finally landed one. As of tomorrow he will be a salaried employee. Mind you the salary is peanuts, but it comes with bennies and paid vacation and EVERYTHING. A real job.

thothmes: Jack in black T and vest in front of the gatepuddle (Favorite!GateJack)
1. Have you ever left the country you live in and where? if so, where did you go?

Canada, where my grandfather was born, both the Francophone part and Ontario.

I lived in Greece (mostly in Athens) for a year when I was in first grade, and I went to a Greek school. We were on a dig at Porto Kheli on the Peleponnesos that summer.

We spent a few months in Palestine when I was second grade age, and my mom went there and married my stepfather and met his family in the village in what was then Jordan, and now is the West Bank of the Occupied Territories. I visited East Jerusalem, to see my mom while she was in the hospital with the hepatitis A she caught in Greece.

On the way we made stops in Damascus and Beirut (we stood in the top floor of the portion of the U.S. embassy that was bombed, and found out that even there we couldn't get a marriage license for a cultural Moslem and a cultural Christian to marry). On the way home we went to visit my grandfather, his new wife, and their new daughter in Paris for a few days.

here is the rest )
thothmes: (DangerBabyFic)
In honor of Mother's Day here in the U.S., I bring you SG-1 as their mothers saw them.

Title: In A Mother's Eyes
Season: Pre-series
Spoilers: None
Warnings: .........Nope. Not a one.
Disclaimer: I'd adopt them all in a trice, but unfortunately, they're all the brainchildren of the producers, writers, etc., and parental rights have not been terminated. Nor am I receiving any foster care or adoption benefits.

In A Mother's Eyes )


A very happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, and a very happy Mother's Day to all the rest of you who have or had Mothers!

I'm celebrating something else today, my 32nd wedding anniversary. Here's a story I told recently (in a comment on LJ) about why I so love this man.

We live in rural Vermont, and if we drive a bit, there's a University town within reach. My husband loves his medical practice. He loves the hard working farmers, and the small town neighbors and co-workers. He loves caring for the patients over a long period of time, getting to know them, seeing the arc of their lives, helping them through their crises, and witnessing their triumphs. When one of his patients dies, as we all do in the end, he helps console the family, and helps them understand the medical whys, and he attends the funerals. He doesn't ever want to leave here, where government works because it is on a human scale, and civility, community spirit, and consideration are the rule rather than the exception.

One day, when our two eldest were young, a professor of mine came to give a symposium over at the University. I arranged for my Beloved Husband to take some time off to watch the kids so I could attend all three days, and invited my professor home one night to eat dinner with us, see our house, our kids, and meet the dog. After the dinner which was a big success (the dog being a major, major success - she adores dogs), I drove her home.

I was a little melancholy afterwards. My husband asked me what was wrong.

"I miss academia sometimes," I said. "Sometimes I wish I could go back and get that Phd."

Without missing a beat, he immediately offered, without a moment's hesitation, to pull up roots, find a position near my college, and move down there so I could take courses and go back to school, if I wanted to do that.

My heart nearly burst with love, and my eyes filled with grateful tears.

"No," I said. "I love it here, I love our life, I stand behind the choices we made, because they were the right choices, for our family, and for me too. It's just sometimes, having grown up as a professor's daughter, having always expected to be a professor, I miss it. There's a bit of a tidal pull. Thank you for loving me so much that you'd do that without hesitation!"

"I love you. I want you to be happy," was all he said.

He gives me roots, and wings, and all the love in the world. Damn, I'm lucky!
thothmes: Sam Carter in a Santa suit - no beard - Season's Greetings (Santa Carter)
I have finally finished wrapping and stuffing stockings, and fixing my lj from its disastrous unasked for, unheralded, sudden change from a three column style to a two column style, and now I have a moment to stop, gather my thoughts and speak to you all.

[ profile] not_a_zatarc and [ profile] rgcraeg, I wish you both a belated happy birthday. I hope that everything came in actual birthday wrapping, and not slightly anticipatory Christmas wrapping, and that you each had a whale of a day.

And to all and sundry I wish a very lovely holiday, whichever one you happen to celebrate. The solstice is past, and for those of us up here in the northern climes, the long slow climb back into the light has begun, and for those of you in the summer hemisphere, the days will draw down. This process is a source of continual fascination to my Whirlwind, who asks frequently about what people would be doing on the other side of the world, and what time of year it is for people in the Southern Hemisphere. So I'm reminded fairly regularly that for some of you the Christmas season is cheek-by-jowl with your Midsummer's Eve.

We're culturally Christian here, which means there will be stockings and presents (my Muslim stepfather learned to play along years ago) and the singing of Christmas carols. And because in my family Christmas is a matriarchal holiday, we are all down here at my mothers, and there are siblings and nieces and nephew to visit with and enjoy.

The Whirlwind is still a True Believer, but is worried because due to the damage in the wake of tropical storm Irene, Santa was not at his local venue this year, and she wasn't able to sit in the great man's lap and tell him personally of all her nine year old desires and hopes. She's a little concerned that he won't get her anything as a result. After the holiday is safely done for the year, and the chances of her contaminating her cousins with apostasy is over, I'm going to have to have a little word with her. Nine is old enough. I've only put off having this chat because I didn't want her disillusioning any of her True Believer classmates, but this is getting silly.

In the meantime I told her about the year I was six and living in Greece, and very concerned because a)our 5th floor apartment had no fireplace, and b)I wasn't at all sure that he had my forwarding address. He managed to find me anyway.

So whether you celebrate Christmas, the Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or any of a host of other festivals, whether you are coming into winter or summer, as this year draws to an end, I hope you are all with the people you love, that you have joy and hope, that the walls that surround you ring with laughter and delight, and that the year to come will be better still. You have all brightened my life and I carry the pieces of you that you have shared with me through every day. I think of you all more often than you would think, and wish only the best for each and every one of you.

And so to bed!
thothmes: Sam Carter head down and smiling in reaction to Jack O'Neill.  Legend: Snort! (Snort - Proving Ground)
So recently [ profile] a_loquita posted a lovely little (sam/jack) fiction involving ridiculous instructions, The World's Dumbest Instructions, to which I replied with a snippet of comment fic. In the replies to that the subject of warning labels came up, and that inspired this:

Title: Caution. Coffee Is Hot.
Season: While Jacob and Selmac are blended, Daniel is alive, and Jack's a Colonel
Spoilers: Uh...No!
Warnings: Nope. And Fig? It's Certified Shipfree. Maybe even FairTrade.
Synopsis: It's a universal constant, along with death and taxes.

Caution. Coffee Is Hot. )


I also have a humorous little vignette from my life to share with you all. It's a look into what makes parenting so rich, varied, and unpredictable.

In Which The Whirlwind Gets A Record )


Sorry if I may have ruined anyone's illusion that life in the country is placid and slow-paced, but come on up to Vermont and spend your tourist dollars anyway. After all, there are some 255 towns in Vermont, and only one of them contains the Whirlwind!
thothmes: Publicity Shot, Hammond, Fraiser, SG-1 (The Gang's All Here)
First off, I'm okay. We're okay. The pets are okay. Our stuff is okay.

The surroundings, well, not so much.

Until pretty recently, we lacked the capacity to say we were okay, because we lacked phone and power (and thus water, because the pressure tank cuts out), and we've been in our little quiet safe house, going about our business. Here's what we found when we ventured out of our little den:

Roads have been swept away. Bridges are gone. The propane storage tanks that resupply our gas stove went bobbing down river. Our kid's favorite seasonal hamburger and ice cream hut has been washed away. One of my middle daughter's friends had to evacuate her trailer park last night via swift-water rope rescue, and several of the homes were washed away. When I was finally able to see on TV some of the scenes of flooding and disaster from other areas of the state, they almost all were familiar places. Two nearby towns are among the eleven "island towns" in the state, so-named because the roads in and out have been so damaged, that for the time being, they are on their own.

I went to do my usual 5 mile loop, and there were two bridges out, one of which sent two sizable concrete pillars downstream to wreck the road were the next curve lay. This in a stream that usually can be crossed by getting one foot wet, if that. After 4 miles I faced the choice of doing a little wading to get back to the main road, or turning around, going back up hill, and making it an 8 mile trip. I chose to wade, since the water was receding and not very deep.

Our little mini (but registered!) covered bridge acted as a dam on the small stream that runs behind our house, causing a major portion of our back yard to become fast-moving but shallow stream, but it was still sound once the waters retreated, unlike most of the full-sized covered bridges around here. The ones that weren't carried off outright, are taped off pending eventual repair.

Our house has a small stream in back of us, and a medium size creek across the road from us, and down a steep 15 foot slope. The creek began to rise, and eventually got within about 3 feet of the roadway, although if it had gotten that high, it would have had to go 1 1/2 feet higher to cross the road and get to the house, given the camber of the road. When the flash flood warnings went out, we went across to take a look at the creek and make our decision about whether we needed to evacuate. There was a rumbling which sounded like distant thunder, and a series of clicking noises. It was more than a little disturbing when we realized that this sound was not thunder, but the sound of big boulders rolling downstream.

The sport of the day was going around to all the various neighbors, checking to see that everyone was okay, and rubbernecking at the various repair crews at work. Around our neighborhood, there was sizeable property damage, but no damage to family, pets, or livestock, so everyone was in an upbeat mood. My husband's clinic had power and telephone, but the town had no water, so he didn't have to work Monday. Tuesday is his day off anyway, and hopefully by the time Wednesday rolls around, water will be restored. They had plenty of new silt deposited on their front lawn, though.

School was supposed to start on Wednesday, but it is now postponed until September 6th.

We are all ridiculously happy now to be able to do simple things, like flush the toilets, take showers, and refrigerate food, but basically for our family, this has been the equivalent of a run-of-the-mill storm-cum-power-loss, without the added joy of having to huddle under blankets to keep from freezing, or having to worry about the state of our pipes.

Please spare a thought or a prayer for those families in Vermont that were not as lucky as we were. At last count there were 3 dead, and one missing, presumed dead, and there was the expectation that that number could well rise.
thothmes: Jack & Sam look up with apprehension.  Legend:  Oh Crap! (Oh Crap! - 1969)
Okay, so we had a lovely, lovely vacation, marred only by the fact that the Whirlwind of Destruction dove into the lake wearing her glasses, and I spent several hours diving in a grid pattern to try and locate them. Somewhere under the moldering leaves at the bottom of the lake are some lovely wirerim glasses which had only recently been totally replaced under warrantee. Otherwise, there were many relatives, much laughter, interesting tales, good food, swimming, loafing, and games of all sorts. All four of my kids were there (a rarity now that two of them are grown), a niece and a cousin announced engagements, and a cousin who married last October announced that he and his wife are expecting a baby in March. Good times.

And on the way home, things got complicated )

I love living in Vermont, where even the crooks aren't (by and large) too dishonest, and where life is lived on a human scale.
thothmes: Gleeful Baby on Bouncy Horse Riding Toy (Default)
Some of you may have noticed I was kind of... absent.

July is the only month I work outside the home. By the time I'd put in over three hours in teaching swimming in our sometimes less than roasty-toasty lake water, and then gone home and run, and took offspring to lessons and appointments, and then made dinner, I spent a great deal of time falling asleep on the keyboard. For the most part, I managed to read all your postings, but I usually read everything first, and then comment, and it was about then that I often fell asleep. I've been enjoying your offerings, though.

In retrospect, maybe signing up for the [ profile] sg1friendathon during July was foolhardy, but I got it written, spellchecked, and beta'd before the deadline. It was just a bit more reminiscent of my college experience than I would have wanted it to be...

I missed some birthdays, so happy [belated! :( ] birthday to [personal profile] beatrice_otter, [ profile] badkarma, and [ profile] misswelles. I thought of you all, I didn't manage to post. So sorry. [ profile] badkarma and [profile] misswelles, you share a birthday with my beloved youngest daughter, the Whirlwind of Destruction, who turned 9. Needless to say, that was a busy day at the Thothmes household!

Speaking of the Whirlwind, we had a bit of excitement when she got suspended from hockey camp for a half day, and finished out the last two days on probation, but we got through it all. I really expected that hockey camp, of all places, would be a place that could handle a child with a little too much energy and initiative, but I was wrong. Who knew?

Now I am on vacation in Maine, so I won't be so present for the first week of August, either. All four of my kids are here, and much other family is coming and going, as well as assorted friends of the family, guests, and hangers on. I will be more focused on swimming in the lake, watching the loons in the cove, and joining in the games and conversations than hanging out here. The best part of summer is here, and real life is in bloom!

Right now middle daughter is playing a Mozart sonata on the grand piano. Earlier my husband and his mother were playing Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze and God's time is the best in a two piano four hands version. I taught the Whirlwind how to dive a couple of hours ago. Life is good.

Enjoy your own vacations and keep cool, and I'll be back next week.
thothmes: Jack in Ba'al's holding cell is yelling at Ascended Daniel.  Legend: Aaaaaaarrrrrgh! (Aaaarrrrgh!)
I just wanted to post to let folks know why I have been rudely ignoring them.

I haven't really.

On June 8th we had a couple of sizeable thunderstorms come through here, and this caused us to lose both power and phone. When the phone came back on a few hours later, it was at best unreliable. On our end, sound kept dropping out. The folks we were talking to heard plenty of crackling and static.

This made connecting to our dial-up internet an impossibility. I got about an hour in while sitting with our laptop at one of my kids' weekly appointments, because the building has free wi-fi, and I mostly used that to answer my personal e-mails. We finally got connectivity back here a few hours ago, and then I had some business transactions I needed to take care of before I could get down to socializing.

So if you asked me a question or sent me a response, and you got no reply [*How rude!*] it wasn't because I was lazy or ignoring you. I just was "away".

Back now. Hopelessly behind. I'll be working hard to catch up about in time to go out of town for a week for the last week of June. At least then I'll be able to take the laptop with me, and I'll be heading into the land of wi-fi and fast internet!

So anyway, I'll be getting back to you all as soon as I can, provided I don't have to take too much time out building an empty padded room for the Whirlwind of Destruction to bounce from wall to wall in without wrecking anything. School ended today, and she's been in rare form lately.

Exciting Adventures of the Whirlwind, and Floral Enthusiasm behind the cut )


thothmes: Gleeful Baby on Bouncy Horse Riding Toy (Default)

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A Few Words From The Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.
-The Maxims of Ptahotep

In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.
- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.
-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
-Wendell Berry

Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
-Robert Burns

Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.
-Ch'ien Ch'i

Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.

Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.
-Nathalia Crane

I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.
-Samuel Coleridge