As H.o.p. runs screaming from the room

On one of the homeschool groups I’m on, an almost-war popped up over home science. One person had written in something about homeschool and science needs and how they were amazed at the materials some people had at home or had easy access to. The person ended the comment with a smiley, which indicates good will and that they weren’t snarking about it. And the post didn’t read like someone snarking.

Someone responded with a smackdown saying they were stunned by the person’s attitude and progressed to give a list of everything they had stockpiled at home for a good homeschool science program base, including glass metric beakers and different scales and test tubes and syringes and a butane torch from Williams-Sonoma that is for melting sugar on creme brulee (I checked the price, $40.00) and more scales and all kinds of copper wire and clippers and drapery pulleys and all kinds of tapes and jars of different things and magnets (magnets are damn expensive, by the way) and switches and tubings and just about anything you can imagine plus more and a tool chest full of stuff and scrap wood and all kinds of chemicals and a neighbor with a motorized microscope and boxes in the garage filled with boxes and cans and jars and plasticware and anything you’d like to get to dissect ordered special online.

Thus began the discussion on dissections, with others writing in about dissecting foetal pigs and rats and frogs and all kinds of other crap at home, so you begin to get a picture of all these people with dead rats and frogs and foetal pigs in the refrigerator waiting to be taken apart, sitting along side the cheese and carrots and lunch meat.

Then began to trickle in the posts from homeschoolers who live in minuscule apartments (some with less space than ours and more people in them) and people living in minuscule apartments on army bases etc., or in way out of the way places at the edge of the world, going, “Whoa! We hardly have room for ourselves! We can’t stockpile!”

And some of us aren’t crazy about dissecting, either.

We’ve got enough with what H.o.p. stockpiles for his movies (and prospective movies). Our shelves overflow with books and clay, clay, clay and books and boxes filled with clay sculptures from movies past and more books and more books and mountains of stacks of drawings and more books and ten other boxes of sculptures and bins full of legos and nuts and bolts and a bookcase alone devoted to housing scenes and creations for movies on which he’s currently working so we can get a little bit of table room now and then (and most of these movies he doesn’t even finish or save these days, because he gets half-way through them and decides he hasn’t done as well with it as he wants and he scraps the project and starts another). Plus the different musical instruments H.o.p. has begun to accumulate, including the piano (lessons) and a number of different flutes and drums and now he’s always on the look out for percussion instruments to add to his collection which he uses for making sounds in the puppet shows he puts on and which he plans on using for his little “radio” recordings, and yes then there are all the puppets we have, including the puppets H.o.p. buys now with his own money. While he was hunting for another dragon puppet at Ebay we came across some wonderful Chinese dragon puppets I’m considering getting for him as a surprise.

But that’s not the point of the post. What I was thinking about was my dad is a scientist and it’s likely the only vaguely scientific thing his mom had at home was a thermometer, and I doubt he had much in the way of this kind of science in public school, just like I didn’t and I know that my brother who is a highly specialized pediatrics physician, who has the depressing work of trying to save a child here and there from illness that usually means certain death, had nothing in public school in the way of this kind of science, and again in our home the only vaguely scientific thing we had when I was a kid was the thermometer that would occasionally reward us with a day off from school.

Some kids just aren’t built for certain kinds of science. Like dissecting.

Me: H.o.p., what would you think about dissecting a frog?

H.o.p.: Dissecting a frog?

Me: Y’know, where they cut into something and take it apart to see its mechanics…

H.o.p.: Oh, gross! Don’t even say that to me! No! I’m not going to dissect anything!

Me: Ok.

And off I go to the computer to write this post, feeling a bit of relief, as I was the kid in school who got out of the one day science experiment we had in tenth grade of dissecting a frog, because the smell of the formaldehyde was so strong I became ill and literally couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to pass out.

I read about all these kids dissecting things…like foetal pigs… and I kind of wonder why when there are virtual dissections online…and I’m a bad science mom because, like H.o.p., I think, “Oh, gross!” to any of it. Plus…

Several hours later

So I was at the hospital visiting my sister and telling her about the foetal pigs and rats and frogs. “Oh, you can get those vacuum packed,” she said, being a homeschooler herself and her eldest daughter having enjoyed dissecting when about 15.

The baby is beautiful. I stayed several hours and we tried not to laugh too much as she has something like 15 staples in her abdomen. Her doctor dropped by while I was there and, true to everything she’s told me about him, he’s got to be one of the more remarkable doctors I’ve ever met.

Then my sister’s oldest daughter arrived to spend the night and rather than leave right away I was munching on tomato chips with her, when the phone rang.

And speaking of dissection…

It was Marty. “You have to leave now,” he said. “I just sliced my hand open.”

Just what you want to hear from a keyboardist.

He’d cut his hand on a glass while he was washing dishes. He didn’t know it was there in the sink, broken. (Neither did I. I had been looking at that sink of dishes before going to visit my sister in the hospital and thinking I should get them washed but decided I’d wait until I got home.) So there he was washing those dishes while I was visiting my sister and the broken glass found him and sliced open the area between his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. Luckily it didn’t slice a tendon. Or a nerve. But man was it nasty. I mean really really very very nasty. The kind of nasty where you get a nice picture of the inner workings of the muscles of the hand as the flesh has been clean sliced away.

He spent from 9:30 until after 1:00 am in the emergency room. It took them 20 minutes to stitch his hand. He has 11 stitches.

They tell him if his hand is unbandaged, it stands a good chance of ripping open. But if it’s bandaged, that part of the body collects water easily, won’t dry out, and he has a good chance of the tissue becoming soft and the stitches ripping open. The nurses didn’t come right out and say it but gave him the feeling that those stitches are going to rip open and he’s going to be back in sooner than he’s supposed to be.

Thus ends today’s science/physiology lesson (an expensive one) which left H.o.p. grossed out and me reading him for a long time tonight a very soothing, funny book before he fell asleep. Sometimes I incorporate him into the plots and it was one of those nights where H.o.p. was an improvised character.

No, H.o.p. didn’t run screaming from the room. I’d titled this post hours before The Big Event, just a kind of humorous remark on H.o.p.’s reaction to dissection.

All our Ikea glasses are now in the trash. We’ve had a major problem with one after another breaking in that sink (an old steel one with a very thin wash of almost vanished porcelain). “I don’t want to see another Ikea glass,” Marty said. So I dumped them. Our next glasses will be plastic.

Insanely crowded day at the zoo

World of Reptiles
World of Reptiles
Light box enlargement

Atlanta Zoo Tiger Exhibit
Atlanta Zoo, Tiger Exhibit, April 2007

I don’t know who these people were in front of me but I love the expression on the woman to the far right. I wasn’t aware of her but she was aware of me and the camera and granted a bemused grin. Glad I caught it. Most people try to avoid the camera out of politeness. “Oh, I’m sorry!” they say, attempting to duck by.

A weekday is usually a great day to go to the zoo during the spring and autumn as you’re fairly assured a low crowd factor and a lazy, easy day of animal watching. But we realized, on the approach, this wasn’t going to be one of those days. Three counties must have decided this was the day to take their school kids on a field trip. There was school bus after school bus after school bus after school bus. Seemed like dozens of them. We arrived at noon and my sister was told that a good many of the school groups were leaving–and in fact I stood to the side at the gates, unable to cross to where H.o.p. and Marty were standing, as kids flooded out. But the zoo was still packed. And all the school kids had on matching red or blue t-shirts proclaiming what great readers they were. I’m hoping the field trip didn’t leave out the poor readers…
Encounter with a Tiger at the Atlanta Zoo
Encounter with a Tiger at the Atlanta Zoo, April 2007

The above niece’s encounter with the cartoon foot massager cat was more fulfilling for her than the outing in the tiger house.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous day and we all had fun. I wrestle for good shots of the kids but it’s difficult for me. I have a few more up at Flickr. There was H.o.p. and 6 of his cousins all of whom are continually in motion and I just take shot after shot hoping to get at least one decent one but the majority of time I have missed the “cute” shot by a split second and faces are already hidden behind surrounding arms and legs and trees and playground equipment.

When we got home the landlord showed up and looked at the kitchen and promised to fix and paint it in the next couple of weeks. He had a box full of books for the library book sale and he had me come out and dig through to see if I could find anything for H.o.p.

Something bit the c#@*! out of my back while I was sleeping the other night. A nice row of bites. An application of Benadryl helped a lot and it looked a lot better yesterday but it still hurts like crazy.

The "official photographer" didn’t do so hot

For the blog: Birthday Party
The Birthday Niece
Light box enlargement

Scads of nieces and nephews at yesterday’s birthday part. From the right, there’s a nephew, there’s a nephew held by a sister, there’s a niece right below reaching for something amongst the paper plates and the birthday girl niece beside her. Well, not scads, I guess. One more nephew was running around in cowboy boots somewhere in the background.

I was official photographer. I slap my picture-taking hands after viewing the pics. Lots of wonderful kids running about but it’s difficult getting a really good picture with an army of kids racing here and there. Some would-be great pics always had stray adults in the background distracting. There was one woman in particular who managed to be in the background of about 200 of what could have been cute kid shots.

Continue reading The "official photographer" didn’t do so hot

Still standing

Let me put it this way, the holiday pitched a few punches. Mother-in-law in from out of town since last Thursday and co-adult’s two brothers arriving a little after that, co-adult got hit with the flu last Friday and has been in bed since then, completely since then, steeped in misery. I have been gobbling vitamin C.

I tried to make things nice. We’d picked things up for co-adult’s red beans and rice, and I went ahead and made it myself though I’ve never done it before, and it didn’t go toooooooooooo badly (kind of). And I really did endeavor to festive things up with holiday treats and juices from the Farmer’s Market (the boxes are at least nice if what’s inside is lacking) and some decorations and bought some holiday movies I hoped everyone would enjoy. Eventually I managed to find time and space on the second floor landing of the apartment building to wrap H.o.p.’s presents, which was fun. Wrapping presents is such a secret, back room activity…and here I was wrapping presents in public, on the stairs, a couple neighbors passing by from upstairs, climbing past the gold paper and ribbon, and it was still just as secret, H.o.p. a floor below not having a clue.

After opening gifts this morning, H.o.p. complained of feeling tired, I pulled back out his futon in his room and remade it for him and he zonked out. I juggled things around the 16 by 12 inch food preparation center and sink and dish drainer and made a fairly edible Christmas dinner though I’m not much of a cook. Apricot and garlic stuffed rolled pork roast (that I’d marinated all night but wasn’t as flavorful as one would hope), wild rice, buttered yams, squash and onions, green beans. Not great but was OK. Then dinner was done and dessert was done and dishes were done and leftovers were jammed into the smallish refrigerator and I thought now I would sit down but first went in to check on H.o.p. for the umpteenth time. He had been sleeping deep but not fitfully, no fever. This time he woke up and said he needed to go spit. But his grandmother was in the bathroom. So I took him to the kitchen. His feet rooted to the floor and he proceeded to vomit all over his feet and everything else for ten minutes–and in our kitchen that means pretty much everything. I got him clean, settled him down (he’s asleep again), Marty’s family left to go see a movie, I swabbed down the kitchen several times.

Marty’s briefly up and wandering by saying he never wants to experience anything like this again. Now he’s back in bed and sleeping.

I’m still standing. Hopefully I will be tomorrow and no one else will get ill either and hopefully H.o.p. and co-adult will be feeling better.

Am gonna go try and read a book a brother-in-law gave me but I imagine I’ll end up staring at the wall instead.

In which I do a good job of not spreading Christmas cheer

We hit the Imperial Rome Exhibit at Fernbank a second time. The exhibit is leaving early January so not too long left to see it if you haven’t and are in the area.

Imperial Rome Exhibit, Education Alley, Fernbank, Atlanta, 2006
Imperial Rome Exhibit, Education Alley, Fernbank, Atlanta, 2006
View On White

Going through the Farmer’s Market afterwards I finally mustered up a bit of seasonal spirit. I announced we should buy, after all, a semblance of a tree…

Continue reading In which I do a good job of not spreading Christmas cheer

Yes, you can get attached to goldfish

For some reason this week our fish went sceptic. I don’t know why. The water in the tank is good. PH is good. Everything is good. This happened a couple of months ago but that time the water proved to be suddenly way too acidic, the water coming from our tap the culprit. We got things under control and the fish promptly recovered. Then, bam, a few days ago they went sceptic again. We could find no cause. We began treatment with the medicine that fixed them up last time and not only have they not gotten any better but Dylan suddenly bloated up Saturday with what seemed to be a major case of dropsy.

We’ve had Dylan since shortly after we moved in here. He’s a huge goldfish. “What do you feed him, hamburger?” we’ve been asked. Because he’s gigantic.

We’re kind of attached to him. Or were. The other two goldfish are nice, but we really liked Dylan. He had personality. As much personality as a goldfish is going to have. He spent a lot of time watching us. He liked to play. He loved thwapping the top of the water with his tail. When he wanted my attention he would thwap his tail on the side of the tank to attract it.

While Saturday evening (when all this went down) we scurried around then held our heads in our hands while trying to figure out any way to save our fish, H.o.p. made up his own peculiar sort of death vigil chart. He made a graph with a line for each fish showing how close to death it might be. When one seemed to get worse he would move the line to reflect that and when one seemed to improve he would move the line to indicate its improvement. He suggested we feed them peas and then decided each one had made dramatic improvement and adjusted the lines accordingly. “I saved the fish!”

We told him it was not likely the fish would live. (I tried to use a contraction there but WordPress suddenly will not let me use an apostrophe this morning. Crazy WordPress.)

“I want to see where you bury Dylan,” he replied.

Anyway, the other two fish are still alive at the moment, they may indeed make it, are looking better today, but Dylan is now in a bag and they are going out to bury him. H.o.p. seems to be all right with things. He just wants Dylan buried. He does not want Dylan put in the trash out back. (Darn, why is not WordPress letting me use the apostrophe!)

I have a rather cheerier post to make later about our new upstairs neighbor.

What we did

First off we got lost on the way to the town south of Atlanta where my elder younger brother lives. So we drove around back highways for a while and I wondered, as I always do when we’re on our way down to visit them, at all the little churches holding ground at the interesections of those back highways and this time, probably because it was July 4th, thought of the names, like Zion and Mount Olive, names which have nothing to do with the land upon which the churches sit, there’s not an olive tree in sight, worlds and a great big ocean away from the Middle East but here are those names imported by Anglo-European Christians. Zion and Mount Olive.

We listened to Mexican music on our satellite radio. H.o.p. likes Mexican music. Then we listened to some hiphop then finally settled on traditional jazz.

My brother grilled. I took lettuce from my sister-in-law’s garden for the meal. She went through the trouble of making home made vanilla ice cream that she served on cherry crisp. I stepped a lot on the conversation, making comments before a story was completed. We all do. When you’re kids and in a larger family you do it for sake of getting a word in. Then you end up doing it as an adult because the kids are going to come running through any second and you’re going to be distracted to doing something else, over and over, so you grab for a chance to comment before the next interruption collapses a conversation and train of thought. Plus the way we all tell stories is to digress wildly so if you don’t make your comment on a subject right then you may not have another chance as the speaker may have digressed to something completely different in two heartbeats and digressed again to another subject in a few more and then the kids come running through and the conversation collapses. Even with just two kids running around, which was the situation.

The sky was cloudy. Would it rain out the fireworks? As it darkened we set out for the place where my brother and sister-in-law knew there always to be fireworks. A nearby park. As we drove up we saw cars pulling into the parking lot, behaving in a confused manner, and pulling out and leaving. It was a steady stream of such cars pulling into the empty lot, turning around and leaving. Apparently there would be no fireworks there this year. My three year old niece waved at me out the back window of the car while we talked about what to do. My brother and sister-in-law knew of a place not too far away, down the road, past the town square, down the road some more to the interstate and up to the next exit, where there would be fireworks. We followed them. Followed them past the town square which is a nice town square. I said it was a nice town square.

We could see the fireworks as we drove down the interstate, which was good as H.o.p. was worried about missing them, and being able to see they were already ongoing he was of course still worried about missing them. We pulled off the exit and within a short distance the place around where the fireworks display was being held was packed with cars upon cars upon cars parked here there and in small dirt parking lots and along the side of the road, and policemen out directing traffic. Ironicially, the fireworks display was being held by a church (at least I found it ironic and I thought about this some, a church doing the 4th of July fireworks). The exhibition was rivaling the one Decatur would put on when we lived in Decatur. We found a place to park and got out and strolled to where we could better view them but a stand of trees was still somewhat in our way. I filmed the ending and haven’t checked to see how it came out.

We worried about having a difficult time getting back to the interstate. Elsewhere, when the fireworks are done everyone promptly piles back in their cars and there’s a long traffic jam. Here, when the fireworks were done most of the people were still hanging out, the ones who were entrenched in the stadium area–I guess the church has an outdoor stadium or maybe it was just a stadium set up for the day, band performances etc., A band was line checking as we drove away. We had our windows rolled down, it had begun to sprinkle, I thought I heard another auto playing the same traditional Miles Davis and others jazz we’d been playing (I thought our radio was off) and thought wow someone in this place is listening to traditional jazz, but no it was just us and the sound had been turned down way way low.

The highlight of the trip was when we stopped for my brother to get gas on the way to the fireworks.

You gotta understand, we were uhm about 45 minutes south (with traffic cooperating) of where we live smack dab middle of Atlanta and thirty miles outside what used to be the southern environ of the city but is now quickly becoming the southern environ of the city. And it maintains a bit of “out yonder” distinctivenes.

There was this truck/SUV type vehicle parked parallel in front of the convenience store door. Same way as at another place we’d been at earlier. Inside there was one teen. We only saw his outline but it was obviously a teen, sitting in the passenger side up front. Doing a whiplash headbanger dance, head wildly going up and down, hair long enough and something enough that it formed and reformed thrashing mountainous points. (Martysuggests he must have been listening to Bohemian Rhapsody.) Twice he moved from this into a purposeful windmill followed by the drunk style then back to unrelenting and vigorous whiplash style.

As he was firmly, rigidly seated in his car seat it was fairly interesting.

We found this amusing.

Probaby the Man who was Dad emerged once from the store to open the driver’s door, a not very amused expression on his face, said a few words, the boy pausing, and then closed the door and went back inside. We heard no music. I guess Probaby the Man who was Dad’s Son was carrying an Ipod and earphones. Anyway, there seemed a decided “You’re going to break your neck making a fool of me and I’m tired of it” purposefulness to the dad, but as the dad entered the store again the boy went back into the whiplash headbanging dance like he was too far gone and couldn’t help himself. Then a woman emerged from the store who we absolutely believed was mom coming out to say her part, looking disapprovingly on, but instead it was someone else’s mom.

During the mid 70s (“Bohemian Rhapsody was released in 1975) I may have been a dedicated Sex Pistols, velvet Underground, Iggy Pop fan but I loved Queen. Was surrprised though to realize I liked Queen.

When something strikes me musically can stay with me. I remember I was taking photos of the cotton mill and I had just decided Bohemian Rhapsody was a great song and that Freddie Mercury was amazing. I liked how Bohemian Rhapsody dragged you from one theatrical stage to another bam bam bam. I’d been listening to it beforehand on the radio, driving over. Had previouisly ignored the song as I thought Queen all too pretty and smooth and overblown. But something happened that afternoon andclicked for me on the drive to the milll and suddenly I liked Bohemian Rhapsody.

And when Flash Gordon came out I loved it and Queen’s soundtrack.

I wouldn’t mind watching Flash Gordon again. I think we might have it on tape somwhere around here.

The Show Must Go On (not, but seems to be)

“Pinocchio, you’ve returned!” And here am I, the first decent morning I’ve had in a while, the whale’s mouth opening a crack. H.o.p. is running in to yell, “The garbage truck is here! The garbage truck is here!” Bang, boom, crash. He sits back down at the computer to draw some more of the marvelous pictures of robots he’s been sketching. And guess what he’s listening to over and over again. I know everyone out there in Progressiveland hates Lileks (I’m not blogging for Progressiveland however, I’m just blogging), and Lileks weirds me out as well and his politics–in fact I’ve thought of, in a sense, the Hanford paintings as being rather anti-Lileks, not him personally but that nostalgia for the 50’s, when the atom bomb ruled the earth (he leaves out that part). Anyway, Alicublog had a link to a Lileks post the other day, one he deplored, and I visited and returned for some reason today. I was thinking of the posts that Lileks wrote on the death of his mother, just like I’d thought of them–his mention of his mother’s hospital bed in the living room–when my father-in-law apologized for the hospital bed in his family room our last visit before he died. Anyway, I read his Bleat and because he mentioned his knowledge of the use of the theramin in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and that it was in his podcast, I chose to listen to his podcast for a first time…

Which H.o.p. loved. He loved the theramin from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. He wanted me to play it over and over. The podcast, which was mostly sci-fi music and commentary on it, ended (almost) with the movie theme from the 1996 movie, “Star Trek: First Contact”, which I don’t think I’ve even seen. Lots of horns. Something I wouldn’t usually like, I don’t believe, except it has vague touches of Ennio Morricone touching down in those horns and I love Ennio Morricone. I’m crazy about Morricone’s music. I need to get a CD to replace the tape I used to have of Morricone.

H.o.p. liked the music. He wanted to know what it was about. I said it was from Star Trek. He wanted to know what Star Trek was.

Oh m’god. H.o.p. doesn’t know what Star Trek is. I’m not a television sci-fi fan because I’m not a television fan and I just don’t care that much for television faces and stories. But I was raised on the original Star Trek and watched reruns of it throughout my twenties. For all its flaws and though a western vehicle shot into space, it was an important show. And H.o.p. didn’t know what Star Trek was. Knows Star Wars but not Star Trek. Damn.

Marty and I were talking before he headed out the door with our old vacuum cleaner (which is one of H.o.p.’s puppet friends and he didn’t want to see it go but we convinced it would be fine at the Singing Store where it might even be fixed, and he liked the idea of it being fixed). H.o.p. was playing the Lileks podcast over and over and over again, going from the theramin to the Star Trek music to the theramin. Marty left and I introduced H.o.p. to Star Trek through Dr. Spock, he liking the idea of aliens. H.o.p. gave me back my computer so I could finish the Hanford pic I have been working on. He wanted me to bring up the podcast on his computer. Which I did.

I finished working on the Hanford pic while Lileks had a “word from our sponsor” moment which was a 1950s Edsel commercial, and I was thinking about those plutonium radiated people at Hanford who had great faith in plutonium and thought they were protected from it, who went home and looked at ads for cars with rocketship tail lights and envisioned a future that was Cadillac Fantasia.

But H.o.p., who knows nothing of the 50s and the 60s and the 70s and the 80s and the 90s, kept going to the theramin and then the Star Trek music, appreciating it with his Today ears, and somewhere between the 10th and 20th listen it drew me in, and H.o.p. too, having given me some big hugs. I sat and looked at his intent self, listening to the Star Trek music, which has all the starry-eyed hope of “Once Upon a Time in the West” and nothing of the heart-busting pathos, for which reason it’s not at all of the same caliber, and it was suddenly a good morning. The Star Trek music had sucked me in, its broad, sailing, warm french horns (a good friend of mine is a french horn player), and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel like the show ended gazillions of years ago when the universe splattered itself all over the cosmic kitchen floor, it’s all for naught, a Big Zero instead of a Magnificient Circle of Life, so what the fuck am I still doing here. Not a recent development, and something I plan on milking for all its worth with the new novel I’m working on, which has been incubating a while (old one up in the left hand corner there, one of the old ones at least). I felt happy. I was looking at H.o.p. and thinking this really is fine and I asked him for another hug.

I felt happy and didn’t know if I might have been still feeling miserable if H.o.p. and I hadn’t listened to the Lileks podcast and that felt odd.

I started making coffee and H.o.p. wanted a H.o.p. moment with me. He hugged and hugged me and had me sit with him on the bed so we could look at each other and talk. He was playing the Star Trek music again and talking about how much he loved it, that it made him think of robots and he told me all about the robot movie he’s going to make.

He suddenly said, “What’s the other world like?”

I said no one knows.

He said, “Is life like a field trip and death is home?”

I don’t talk about “It’s All For Naught, a Big Zero” around H.o.p. I talk about the Circle of Life. And this was a new one, the comparing death to “home” and life as an excursion. Where did he come up with that, I wondered, since, he has so struggled with the idea of death, doesn’t like it, doesn’t like to think about death. I thought how certainly many people think of life and death in that manner but I thought it best to expand it a little.

I said, well, I don’t know but that some people thought that. I said no matter what that he is life and that life of which he is made, that is everything he is, will live on, perhaps not as he understands it now, but it will live on.

This I know is so. Despite my own angst over the worthiness of personal ventures in the face of the great sea.

I heard my computer signing off after a Windows update and jumped up to try to catch it as I had unsaved material, but it was too late.

“Oh, it’s lost,” I said.

“Don’t worry. That’s the Circle of Life,” H.o.p. said brightly. “You haven’t lost it. Nothing’s lost.”

“Oh, really,” I said, pouring coffee.

Which was the wrap-up of “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World in Search of The Great Penguin” (up there in the left corner).

As he gazed up at me, smiling, reassuring, I tried to remember if I’d phrased this sentiment in that way for him in the past. I wasn’t sure that I had. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s funny what he picks up and keeps and what he tosses. Because he tosses a lot. He’s his own person. Which is what the nickname, H.o.p., stands for. “His Own Person.” Which I want him to be and he certainly is because we have profoundly different opinions and thoughts on things. He’s not a “yes” kid. He’s not an “Oh, you like that, then I like that too” kid.

“You know, that’s the Circle of Life,” he said, smiling. “You lose something and you find it again later!”

Death and the Holidays

This morning, my husband’s mother called to say she had just discovered my husband’s father had died. He has been declining the past 7 years with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). With the exception of several hospitalizations from illnesses caused by complications with the ALS, he remained home throughout. Hospice people began visiting during the summer. This morning my mother-in-law woke and her husband was dead. She had cared for him intensively during the past seven years.

She phoned at 7:18. I had just gone to bed, actually, had been unable to sleep. I looked at the clock when I heard the phone ring. No one calls us ever this early in the morning. I have been expecting this call for a couple of years. The few times we have gotten a phone call early in the morning I would think it must be her, but it would instead be a wrong number. This morning I looked at the clock and thought, “It is perhaps her,” and it was.

It felt odd that I’d been awake when he died, miles distant, amusing myself with Christmas entertainment. I go to bed late anyway but last night H.o.p. was unable to sleep for a long time and we ended up sitting and watching “Santa vs. Satan” together, and I’d done a little blog of it that I was going to put up later, and may yet. By the time the movie finished he was ready to sleep, was curled up in my lap. He had exhausted himself of thinking and talking about Santa. He went to bed. I tried but couldn’t sleep. I stayed up a couple of hours longer doing this and that. Then I decided it was time for me to go to bed too. I thought that now I’d be able ot get some sleep. I crawled into bed. I put the pillow under my head. The phone immediately rang. Looking at the clock, I was surprised to realize it was 7:18. Marty immediately awoke and was the one to answer the phone. I stared at the clock, listening as he realized it was mother and I thought all right, this is it. He said he would be down there immediately.

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