Saturday, February 27, 2010

I love the way children think.

" . . . and the princess was delighted," I read to Gillian when she was three. I paused.

"Do you know what delighted means?" I asked.

She nodded confidently. "It means dark."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Asleep in the Snow

This looks cruel, but really, it isn't. The vet explained Wolfy's reluctance to come indoors: "He's a Husky." Yes, Huskies like the cold. But I also think the snow cools his inflamed hips better than his pricey medications. I managed to get him inside after I took this picture because his coat was starting to ice up.

Suffice it to say Wolfy doesn't appreciate the woodstove nearly as much as I do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Art of Memorization

I wrote this 14 years ago. The memory is still vivid......

The Art of Memorization

He is your last baby, I told myself,
Put this where you can find it again.
He was four months old. The hour was midnight.
The dogs were asleep. The baby nursed.

I held him in my left arm, cradling his head
with my right hand. Snow fell outside.
New milk trickled across my stomach.
He is my last baby, my last baby.

My son is seventeen now, and shaves.
He bench presses two hundred pounds and above.
His language flies from high-tech to hard-core.
His car roars, his guitar screams.

But I took that moment to impress forever
an hour of infancy into my brain.
Seventeen-year-old senses come alive,
smelling my nursling, hearing him swallow.

I feel the silk of his baby neck,
and my palm against his diapered back.
My kiss on his head is as real as the grin
I’ll be lucky to get in passing tonight.

To prepare for my quiet retirement, for the longing
for amplifiers turned up high and rumbling
dual exhausts in the drive, I practice
now the art of recording time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

To Pay or Not to Pay?

Blame my frugal nature (which is a blessing, I tell you, a blessing!), but I have an aversion to websites that charge a fee. For me, the sole exception is Flickr, which I enjoy and don't mind paying for. Oh, and I paid for GardenWeb for several years before it was free.

Several times a week, notifies me that another of my classmates from William Cullen Bryant High School has visited my profile and signed my guestbook. According to Classmates, 72 people have signed that book. In order to find out who they are, I'd have to pay a monthly fee. At best, I'm only mildly curious, mostly because I remember only two names (and one additional face) from my graduating class. Most of my friends went to Catholic school.

A few years ago, one of my brilliant cousins set us up with our family tree on Geni. Since then, I've added many names, dates, and photos. It's a neat site. And it's free. At least I thought it was free. This week I learned that one can upgrade to a Pro account for $5/month. Why would one want to? Well, one (like me) might like to access another family tree if it happens that a relative is sitting on a branch of it.

That's what Geni emailed to tell me this week. They said my grandfather, George Campbell, had shown up on someone else's family tree. I was rather excited to hear this. All I know about George Campbell is that he was born in Scotland, lived in Hartford, CT, was married to Margaret, fathered Alice, Maggie, and Anna, as well as a slew of sons, and was a servant. With Campbell being such a common name, and my genealogy skills being on the skimpy side, I thought that was all I'd ever know about George. That is, until I got the email from Geni.

If I wanted to see George's other relatives, Geni said, all I had to do was sign up for a Pro account. They offered me a free 14-day trial if I'd fork over my credit card number. Oh, and by the way, my great-great-uncle Samuel Gluckstein was also on someone else's family tree. Samuel didn't tempt me all that much. Thanks to the Glucksteins' founding of the Lyons Tea Co. in England, I knew quite a bit about that branch of the family. But George...... father of Alice, the opera singer whom I so strongly resemble (if not in looks, in many other ways)......I got out my credit card.

As soon as I signed up for the Pro account, I clicked on George. Turns out the other guy's George was born in 1942. He has a bunch of kids, none of whom are named Anna, Maggie, or Alice. He's still living.

I canceled my 14-day free trial immediately. I hope Geni agrees that it's canceled. I hope they'll burn my credit card number. I hope they'll slink off and leave me to enjoy Geni the way I always have: without the hype, and for free.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Can See (the Olympics)!!

I haven't been able to get NBC on my TV since the changeover to digital. I missed being able to watch Jeopardy, but since I work evenings and wouldn't be able to see it most of the time anyway, I wasn't too distressed by this. But I wanted to see some of the Olympics, so I emailed the Chief Engineer of our NBC affiliate and asked for his advice.

He sent back a lengthy email, of which I understood almost nothing. It was all highly technical, and included a long list of what he called "extra information." He wanted to know precisely where I lived, in case a cable line or radio station might be interfering with my reception.

Before responding, I forwarded the email to my son. Within minutes, I received an email back. Joey said, "They moved their operating frequency from Channel 28 to 11, or down about 350MHz, which tripled the wavelength of the signal being transmitted."

The part I understood was ".....from Channel 28 to 11." I picked up the remote, pressed the number 1 button twice, and was delighted to see NBC come in perfectly clear. As they probably say at the U.N., there's nothing like a good translation.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How I'm Doing (with my goals)

In December, 2008, I wrote about my vision board. In choosing pictures to add to it, my intention was to spur action on my part. In brief, I wanted to:

Keep a neater house. Invite friends over more. Write more. Get paid more for writing. Make more progress processing my dad's old photographs. Hook rugs. Sing.

The vision board didn't last long. Well, it's still semi-intact, actually, but last summer I temporarily leaned a very large art pad against it, and it's still there, covering the vision board completely. I guess I should call it an envision board. But perhaps the act of creating it had an effect. Because when I look at those goals I realize I'm doing pretty well.

My house isn't perfect, and will never be perfect. But I've achieved a consistent level of relative neatness and cleanliness that surpasses all previous efforts.

I had guests here after Christmas, so I suppose I can say that's a start. I have plans to invite more soon. Really.

I'm definitely writing more. And I'm writing the sorts of things that have the potential to bring in more money. Time will tell, but I'm doing my part. Now the editors and publishers will have to do theirs.

I've made more progress with my dad's photos, and was on a roll when I got a new computer and then a new operating system, both of which screwed up my ability to use my scanner. But that will get straightened out eventually.

I got back to rug hooking! I say that with enthusiasm because I really love hooking and am surprised I stayed away from it so long. I finished the table mat I wrote about in March 2008, and am now working on a chair seat I designed in Mickey's memory. I'm so happy to be doing this. (One of the first chair seats I made is pictured above.)

And yes, I've been singing again. Determined to push myself out of my comfort zone, I volunteered to sing the 1955 pop song, "Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby" for a friend's 80th birthday party. It didn't happen (long story), but it will, a little belatedly, when I sing it for him here, at my piano, soon. To prepare, I sang every day. For a while, with my determination at a fever pitch, that was the only song I sang. But I've branched out, turning to many of my old jazz and standards song books and even buying myself a new (and pricey) one for Christmas: a 1200-song fake book.

My vision board also contained a picture of a new Mercedes and a 1996 Chevy Caprice. (What can I say? I'm a car person.) Oh, and a wheelbarrow full of money. (A shallow car person.) I'm no closer to acquiring these things. But all things considered I still say I'm doing pretty well.