Friday, September 30, 2005


My lactose-related braggadocio is coming back to kick my ass.

Last night, Erin made two large pans of Paw-paw bread, one with chocolate chips, one without. I had a huge corner piece, with lots of chocolate, and rinsed it down with 1.5 glasses of the most delicious milk on the planet - Calder Dairy Unhomogenized Whole Milk (the top third tastes like the most perfect cream you've ever had). It's almost impossible to resist.

As I fell asleep, I knew something wasn't right, and when I awoke this morning, nothing had been resolved. My tummy is still full of the wonderment of it, as if my duodenum is saying: "You must be kidding...that is *not* getting past me. It's gotta go UP and OUT!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oh, the badness.

Alexis has taken to a particular late night snack of Sun-Pat peanut butter (Sarah imports it from England and graciously shared a jar with us) and Ghirardelli chocolate chips. The snack goes like this:

First, she dips a teaspoon in the peanut butter, then, smooshes it into a pile of chocolate chips, which are conveniently cradled in her left palm. Then she eats. Then, repeats.

At the end of it, she licks her palm, licks the spoon, opens the silverware drawer and neatly puts the spoon back in its proper place. Suddenly, she looks up and realizes I am standing by the fridge, eyebrows raised and at least one fist on my hip. Her eyes widen in terror and she squeaks: "Did I do something wrong?"

"What you did wrong was let me see that."

"It's perfectly clean, you can't tell the difference!"

And to prove it, she grabs all the spoons in the drawer, shuffles them together and displays them in a fan, looking extraordinarily smug and pleased with herself.

When, in my fury, I threatened to blog it, she dared me to - insisting that were my comments not off, they would be filled with protestations of her innocence. This, I doubt.

(Note: After looking at this picture, she said: "Is that what you see? That *does* look infuriating.")

September's willing tool

This time of year always tricks me. Chilly, wet mornings followed by the stunning, enveloping warmth of the most perfect days. I am a willing participant, certainly, and buy the cool morning package as a good reason to pull out the new lambswool sweater I've been saving all summer and to slip on the schoolgirl Mary Janes with the authoritative heel and the pinchy toe.

The morning seems autumnal...I'm waiting for the bus with my apple-red schoolbag and my apple-green iPod, it's chilly and the dew catches my ankles as I walk to work. By ten, the moisture has steamed away. By noon, I'm flushed and irritated.

It's worth it, though. The light...the light is amazing and so solid this time of year. I watch it settle through through the trees and become a presence on the sidewalk, and I turn my face to the impossible sky and absorb as much as I can through my face and my hands and my bare knees.

"Trick me," I say.
"Tell me morning-after lies. I don't care."

If only for feel this day on my body.
This one day repays all.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gay squid.

VIGO, Spain (25 Sep 2005) -- RESEARCH by marine scientists has shed startling new light on the secret sex life of the giant squid, one of the most mysterious monsters of the world's deepest oceans.

The breakthrough came after a recent spate of strandings on the Atlantic coast of Spain when five of the huge invertebrates - one of them 12 metres long - were washed ashore in a single week on beaches on the Bay of Biscay.

One of the two males washed ashore was found to have been accidentally inseminated - backing the findings of research in previous strandings.

And scientists now believe the males had either accidentally inseminated themselves during "violent" lovemaking sessions with females or been inseminated by other males after "bumping" into them in the dark depths of the ocean.

"However, the sperm packages ended up in the squid - it is just another part of the mysterious lives of these creatures of the deep sea."


It's a mystery all right...

Mind the beak!

My job totally rocks

The major part of my job consists of meeting with graduate students and determining their ability to converse with and impress the donors who are funding their research. Basically, I've been flipping through the book of pre-doc fellowships and choosing research areas that interest me. Then, I get to e-mail them under the auspices of the department (which procures and grants their funding), treat them (and me) to coffee, and make them explain their research and their field to me. As you might guess - this is a blast.

Today, I met with a shifty-eyed theoretical physics student in a truly bad shirt. I adored him at first sight. He did not, however, seem that happy to see me (note to self: avoid interviewing physics grad students while wearing cute brown suit), and it took him a while to relax and make eye contact. In the meantime, however, I was given a 45-minute lecture on string theory, models and toy models, and big stuff and small stuff (which I love - Powers of Ten, you know). He's working on String Theory within a toy model, a two dimensional dynamic universe. (The two dimensions? Distance and time. Who knew you could just choose time as a dimension?)

As he was explaining what we currently believe about the Big Bang, I interrupted: "I've always heard that the universe was very small before the Big Bang. How small was it? Galaxy small, planet small, football-field small?"

He took a second and rolled his eyes away from mine, and started whispering to himself. "I'm getting it out of physics units," he explained.

Finally, he looked back at me and said, "Ten to the negative forty-second meters."

Now, I'm pretty sure that a negative power means that this would mean the universe started way smaller than a meter...way, way smaller - and that can't be right. I gave him a blank stare.

"That's like a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a meter," he explained.

"That's small," I said.

"Yeah, it is."

The next day...

I washed her back in the shower this morning - too sensitive for a washcloth, too raw for soap. Just a clean hand and a non-reactive cleanser. Gentle circles and tepid water, and when I pulled my hand away, strings of ink and flesh and foam.

This is transformative in every sense.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Two of Four

We went back to Spiral today for the first of three fill-in sessions. Alexis said it didn't hurt as much as the outline, which felt like being cut with a hot knife. The fill-in work is done with a different type of needle, and felt mostly like pointed deep pressure. Mostly. The painful part comes now, with the burning and the tearing and the itching.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

To market, to market...

It's here - prime farmer's market season!

It was jammed today, and I waded through gawkers and strollers and strollers to get my Concord Grapes. I saw these amazing flowers (with cockscomb, zinnea, and basil - now on Alexis's nightstand as she recovers from a call night), and this crazy, wonderful pumpkin. My right arm is all jelly from carrying it the five blocks to my car, but I love it so much I haven't yet been able to take my eyes off its magical undulating ridges.


this is an audio post - click to play

(And anyway, I learned it from playing Boggle, so bleah.)

Update on THE FINGER

Sarah says:

I am good. My Picc line was taken out on tuesday. It was the Greatest
Day of MY LIFE!! I was very very happy. The finger is healing really
well. It is still somewhat swollen but that is normal (so they tell
me). My range of motion is good and should still improve. I have a
splint to wear at night to help it straighten out enough. I looks
pretty good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lactards and Emetophobia

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm not your friend

I'm a well wisher.

In that I don't wish you any specific harm.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Previously Deleted Scenes from a Nap

In the spring, we finally did it - we purchased the family bed. In our case, the bed is an inner-spring futon, and the family is, well, hairy. Very, very hairy. And let me tell you...there's a lot you want to do in a bed that doesn't involve hairy sensory input. Not dog or cat hair anyway.

Now and then, they're good for a cuddle. And as the days turn darker and the nights get colder, all the cats (usually out patrolling the grounds) and the dogs (usually seeking cooler climes) gravitate once again to our crisp white sheets and our mountain of pillows (all mine, you know).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Always been there

Dianne, Leo's partner, told us that tattooing is different on every body and on every skin, especially. She said that sometimes, it's like tattooing on leather, that every dot of color is full of effort and difficulty. On others, she said, tattooing is like uncovering a design that's always been just need to scratch gently at the surface and it blooms.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

So different at the end of the day

We spent most of the day at Spiral Tattoo with Leo Zulueta, the funky father of tribal tattooing. We talked for about an hour, and then he drew the design directly on Alexis' back. It's just the outline so far, it will take 6-8 more hours of tattooing to fill it in.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A developmental milestone

Alexis was on call last night (again).
I begged off the social engagement I had planned (again).

And meandered down to South Campus with a change purse heavy in my hand.

On a Friday night, at Pinball Pete's, it is even more obvious that girls don't really play pinball. Oh, there are girls around...leaning over their date's table, saying "Wow," and "That's a really high score!" But none of them play, and none of them do the victory spin while on the Path of the Dead, and none of them are wont to scream out "Bitch" when a ball dumps, and none of them make lewd sexual gestures toward the table when they feel they've done something particularly snazzy, and none of them flip their shoes and straighten their skirts while waiting for the ball to roll around the orbit.

Scored my highest game ever (my average is also steadily creeping up) on LOTR - and this after the first three balls dumped weakly after a few moments of play. Had an excellent fellowship multiball attack of the Balrog. " This foe is greater than any of you," hah! In my game, all balls are equally valuable...we all got a good smack in at his knees.

Somewhere into my second game - which wasn't anything spectacular - a guy appeared to my right...murmering encouragement like I usually do. His friends called for him to go and he replied: "Hold on a minute, I'm watching this game. Damn she's good."

That's right - it's been independently verified.
(But, don't be fooled - I'm not really that good...just speedy and passionate.)

Late Summer in the driveway

Our new temporary housemate, Erin, caught her a mess of Lake Huron Salmon, and we had a lovely night of it...Fennel-pollen-encrusted Salmon, sparklers, a fire, and some sticky, sticky shmallows.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Ballad of Pine Resin

I've been meaning to write this for some time. It happened weeks ago, now, but I have felt unequal to the task - especially since it's someone else's story.

It needs to be told, however, told far and wide. It is a cautionary tale -- one filled with


It is, "The Ballad of Pine Resin."

We paid Chicago a visit a few weekends ago - well, not Chicago, per se, but the two Chicagoans we actually care about (the rest of them can basically go to hell) - Alexis' sister Sarah, and her live-in cabana boy, Mark. We brought the pups, mostly because we can't find anyone besides Kate who can lure Oryx out of her den to pee (Kate is like the "dog whisperer," and has since moved to Chicago. Wait...make that three. Three Chicagoans! Wah-hah-hah.) Generally, it's not a big deal, and the dogs stay quite happily on the third story looking at the busy road through the living room windows.

You see, Sarah and Mark's house, being family digs, is one of the few places we can bring the very bad dogs (VBDs). And so we do. Since the last time we'd visited, however, they'd acquired two new cats...extremely expensive cats. No, not fancy, but unbelievably expensive nonetheless. Zabar and Easement. Zabar is a rolly, fluffy, cuddler of a cat, and it seemed like a good idea to introduce him to the dogs first.

Zabar stood in the middle of his hallway, looking extra fluffy and angry. Crisfield bounded up to him in her dopus fashion, running like a cross between a hobby-horse and a sea cucumber, and made to give him a deep, thorough snuffling (that's my story, anyway). Zabar was having none of it, and before you knew it...

Hiss, slash, scurry.

Crisfield did her trick of unlocking her jaw and fitting it around the kitty, like some sort of Amazonian Python/Dog (A dython?) and Zabar did his best to attack from "within."

This was all happening too fast for me. I was standing in the room, eating some toast, I think, as Alexis dragged the dog away from the cat, and the first STARTLING EVENT occurred:

Sarah threw herself on the cat.

I mean, this cat was in a left in the time-out corner for several minutes. But Sarah, loving Zabar as she does, covered his fluffiness with her torso and crooned gentle reassurances in his quivering ears. When she arose, his white chest was covered with blood, and a collective gasp filled the room. We then realized the HORRIFYING TRUTH of it:

It was all Sarah's blood.

Zabar had bitten multiple times directly into Sarah's right index finger, and had raked parallel furrows in her left palm. It was not a good scene. We got her washed up, examined, and we all spent a while calming down. Then we did what any group of sound-minded individuals would do: we went out for French food and chestnut gelato.

When we got home, Alexis, having had an evening to think on it, decided to do some medical research regarding possible infection and tendon damage. How, you may ask, does a doctor do medical research in a house full of nothing more than law texts and expensive liquor? She begged me not to reveal it, but here's the HORRIFYING TRUTH:

She used Google.

That's right. Doctors, when faced with a medical quandary, do what you or I do when researching the origins of "The Shocker," they Google it. She was then able to give her $150,000 medical opinion: "It's only bad if the red starts moving elsewhere." Then she demanded expensive chocolate. And got it.


The next day, Sarah and Mark did whatever they profess to do with their days, and we went suit shopping downtown. By the time we met up in the evening, Sarah's bandaged hand was hot and red, so we did what we had to: STARTLINGLY...

that meant going out for Indian food.

We got home late, mouths burning from some damn spicy Sag Paneer, and checked back in with the Google imagery. Sarah held her hand up next to the screen for comparison, and we read the small print: "infection can move into the joint within 24 hours." Oh. Like, yesterday before we went to dinner. Nice.

At about 9:30pm, Sarah was calling a doctor for an emergency room referral, and in a few minutes, Sarah, Mark, and Alexis had piled into the car to head to the hospital. I stayed behind to ensure inter-species conviviality and to watch the X-Files fourth season, was too scared to watch alone, and promptly fell asleep.

By the time Alexis crawled into bed at 5:00am, Sarah and Mark had been begging for emergency surgery for several hours. Not because of the pain, you see, the HORRIFYING TRUTH is that:

they didn't want to miss the next day's classes.

So, Sarah spent the night lying gurney, shooting up IV antibiotics, with the embarrassing fact of her one true allergy scrawled hastily on her hospital bracelet. And this allergy, known only as a result of the countless hours spent wrapping twinkle lights on countless Christmas Trees.

Oh, Tenenbaum.

At the end of it, Sarah had 24+ hours of mainlined antibiotic, emergency hand surgery (three incisions - with two left open to drain. The infection, had, indeed gone straight to the joint and tendon, and could have shot up her arm within a few days). As a final, terrible, STARTLING EVENT:

Sarah has to take in IV antibiotics four times daily for three weeks. For this, she has a temporary PIC line (a port) in her upper arm.

I can see it now, Sarah and Mark in class - Socratic fury in full effect - and Mark holding the IV bag high to get the last few drops in.

"Mr. Spottswood, do you have something to add?"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Great Minds

Val came over late last night, looking for a place to crash. I'd been waiting to see her in order to brag about my supa skillz on this week's Sunday puzzle (which I got about 85% of - all by my lonesome, thank you). I ran out to the car to grab the magazine, and proffered it proudly. Val responded by pulling out *last* week's puzzle - about 90% done by her lonesome self.


I rifled around the house for two working pencils and we crouched over the kitchen counter, way too late at night, and finished them up. Val: Ilex (Holly plant), Me: Zapatista (Mexican rebel). Val: It is I (Formal response to "Who's There?"), Me: Sentry (One whose speech is halting). All in all, a very good way to round out a day, and lovely to wake up this morning and see the fruits of our labor - wrinkled and worried, but complete (well, almost - Muralist Jose Maria ______).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Dabor

Just sittin' on my cooler. With the stick.

The incredible Miriam and her charming consort, Lisa, invited us out to the beach house for a few days this weekend. I can't even begin to explain what a lovely place this is and what lovely companionship is drawn to it (including Nancy and Yarrow and two boisterous Labs). It almost makes up for the five times Miriam hit me with a tennis ball. Damn, that girl can aim.

Alexis was working all weekend, so I dragged John along (who turns out too be a thunderously successful traveling companion - especially after he was introduced to the wonder of the Starbuck's Doubleshot). He's also startlingly photogenic:

John and I stayed up late, late, late poking the fire and watching for shooting stars. The bonfire is on a bluff overlooking the beach and Lake Michigan beyond, and the waves roll choppily in from Chicago all night. John was nice enough to tuck me in (I am a princess, and I do say things like: "Tuck me in, would you?") under a down layer and under a Milky Way layer, and I slept through the dawn.

Labor Day, itself, was incredibly beautiful: clear September skies, cool, soft breezes, and the promise of a school year not quite started. I laid my little blanket in the sand, pretended to be able to work some of the games Miriam had brought, and promptly fell asleep. I had that feeling on my know, the one where you feel the sun and the air and the world loving you, and warming you, and making you one with everything. It's a beautiful thing, but comes at great price. By the time we'd driven back to Ann Arbor, my ass was so painful I couldn't sit still, and Alexis had to coat me in Noxema and, yet again, someone tucked me into bed.

Giant Valentine's Day Half-Moon Cookies!


Saturday, September 03, 2005

My new hero.

Kanye West.

If you haven't seen his clip yet, please do it here.

With all the posturing and bullshit around Katrina...he went on a television fundraiser and showed his raw pain to the world. Not about the hurricane itself, but about the inequity of emergency response - shown more starkly against a backdrop of muddy water and bleacher seating.

Media said he "ripped into Bush," but listen to his voice...that's not ripping, people, he's holding back tears.

"I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

And "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Mike Myers was on stage with him, and every time I see the clip I say aloud: "Mike, HUG the man. God dammit, show some solidarity and support." Shit.

Also, if you haven't heard it yet listen to Jesus Walks. it rocks. You'll like it, mom, wait for it to load.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What happened on Devon

We found amazing products on Devon Street in Chicago:

Alexis handed this to me and said: "In case you run low someday." Ergh.

Little Stars of David - who knew the Indians loved us so?

Overheard in Ypsilanti

During a climactic scene in "War of the Worlds":

"Nobody likes a grenade up the cloaca."

Truer words were never spake.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

That backwards talking dream with the flaming blog

My pops visited last weekend. It was a lovely visit - short, as per usual, especially since we headed off to Chi-town on Sunday evening. Enough time, however, for me to remind myself that I am not in any sense a grown-up.

Alexis worked a St. Joe's shift on Saturday night (7pm to 7am), and I planned to head over after midnight. My dad was already in bed and reading when I demanded his keys. Well, you see, his car was the last in line in the driveway, and besides, he's driving this peppy little Ford with a sunroof and a great sound system.

What was he going to say? He looked up from his book and said: "on the desk."

Thanks dad.

I grabbed the keys and backed out of the room.

Instead of taking the car to the hospital like a good little daughter, I took it on a drive through the streets of South Campus, now lively with underclassmen . Here a boy smoking his first cigar, there a couple groping under a stop sign...and me, rocking out to acoustic music played way too loud. I got a spot near the arcade and started rummaging around the cup holders for change - it's time for a little LOTR, baby.

So, I pause, the sweet night air breezing past my face, and realize I am thirty-one years old, have taken my father's car joyriding at midnight, and am stealing his change to play pinball.

Somehow, I thought adulthood would be different.

Three Cat Day

It was vet morning at my house. We brought the dogs in last week, and had a three-cat appointment this morning.

We only have one large cat carrier, and put Grex and Stoat in together for some cuddle time. The Beast gets shotgun, and generally spends the car ride craning her tiny head to see out the front window. She was first up on the table - general exam, but no temperature (thank God, it's their least favorite part). Only a feline distemper shot, and as the vet was examining her belly, he commented: "full bladder." Well, we did grab her from her nap on the dirty clothes pile downstairs - she hadn't had time for her morning routine.

When the exam was done, I held Beast in my arms, while Alexis tipped up the large carrier so the door was on top, reached in, and plucked out Stoat...closing Grex inside. I stayed one more moment to make sure things were in hand before making my way back out to the car with our loose kitty. I hear, "Shana, Shana, SHANA," look down, and see that Beast has been peeing for some time...all over the floor, me, the carrier, and mostly, directly into door of the carrier, all over Grex, who is trapped inside.

Beast, little toes and tail curled, seems relatively unfazed about the whole thing. Grex on the other hand...

I start to laugh, and then cry, and then I can barely make my way out to the car to drop off the - now significantly lighter - cat.

By the time it's Grex's turn on the table, she's been sitting in Beast's urine for some minutes, and the vet and I take turns with the paper towels.

Sadly, especially after such a traumatic event, the cats need to get bathed. It's their horrible lot in life to have nothing bad happen for months, and then get put in a box, stuck with needles, and nearly drowned, all within about an hour and a half.