Category Archives: Love

Reprieve

Ron got a reprieve today, courtesy of the Split Ends Fairy.

We have been arguing for days about whether I should donate 10 inches of my hair to Locks of Love, which is a nonprofit group that makes wigs for little kids who lost their hair because of chemo treatments or whatever.

It’s just hair. It will grow back. But Ron yelps like a kicked puppy every time I mention the word “haircut.” (This seems to be a common sentiment among most of the men I know. I don’t get it, but I don’t have a Y chromosome, either.)

Anyway, this afternoon, over his vociferous protests, we went to Ulta, where a stylist took one look at me and decreed the bottom three or four inches of my hair too damaged to use.

I came home and made Ron trim it. Now I just have to Aussie it into submission while I wait for the rest of the damage to grow out.

I’m not really into the whole high-maintenance-hair thing, but if it will help a little kid somewhere, I guess I can spend three extra minutes a day conditioning this mess.

In retrospect, a box of henna probably would have fixed the whole problem. Maybe I should get some on my next Wild Oats run. Nothing mends split ends like henna. And I make a cute redhead. Plus it’ll make my hair grow faster, because Murphy’s First Law of Dye Jobs states that dyed hair will grow at a rate directly proportional to the inconvenience created by doing one’s roots. This is why my hair grows an inch a month with a dye job, and faster than that with henna, which is a monumental pain in the butt to apply.

Emily

P.S.: This morning during church, I noticed that the trees right outside the windows were completely covered with dark red buds. I hope the cold doesn’t ruin them. It’s supposed to get down into the low 20s tonight. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but you can see them in the photo on this page.

Blankie, part 3 (and a flight)

Suzanne and I went out for lunch (vegetarian tikka masala with paneer at Desi Wok … mmmmm) and then headed to the women’s show to hear FlyLady speak today.

If your house does not look like Martha lives there, then you probably need FlyLady. She’s like a subversive home ec teacher for busy people who hate housework. She tells you stuff like, “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family,” and “Just vacuum the middle of the carpet.” She’s all about setting timers and never spending more than 15 minutes doing anything.

When I got home, I worked on the quilt some more. I now have a total of six strips like the one I made last night. I have to press them, pin them, and sew them together. I laid them out on the floor just to see how they would look. Here they are:

Quilt block strips

If I were more experienced and more patient at this, I would do something fancier, but this is the best I can do right now. I think it looks pretty good, even if it is kind of simple. My favorite quilt is one that looks sort of like this, except Mom made it out of upholstery samples. I loved it when I was little because it had a lot of soft, fuzzy patches.

I love it now because it’s really heavy and warm and keeps my gas bill down. 🙂

Maybe someday the little kid who gets this quilt will be a 30-year-old blogger, talking about how this was her favorite blankie when she was little because it had sparkly patches in it.

That would be cool.

Emily

Blankie, part 2

After a phone consultation with my mom and my sister, I ran the cloth through the washer and dryer to remove the excess dye, then pressed each piece before cutting the squares.

It takes a long time to press 30 fat quarters.

I was going to make four-inch squares, like Mom and Grace suggested, but I didn’t have any plastic for making a pattern, so I wound up using the glass from a 5×7 picture frame as a pattern instead.

I stitched together the first row.

First strip

It doesn’t look like a lot, but it took a while. I am going to make five more of these and then sew them all together to make the top of the quilt.

I like the colors. I think a little girl will like them, too. Especially the sparkly patches.

Emily

Another project

OK … I found another a good cause. Project Linus is doing a blanket drive on Feb. 18. Project Linus is the group that collects blankets to give to little kids in scary situations.

If you make a blanket to donate, you get entered in a contest to win a fancy-schmancy sewing machine that’s smarter than I am and probably worth more money than my first car.

I’m still largely incompetent with the venerable old Kenmore my mom’s friend gave me. But I might be able to make a baby quilt. We’ll see. If I win the fancy sewing machine, I will probably attempt to barter it for sewing lessons and perhaps a belt for my great-grandmother’s treadle Singer, which is currently serving as an entertainment center.

In any case, this is a primo excuse to go to Material Girls and waste money on pretty fabric I don’t need. I like Material Girls. I like pretty fabric. I like to waste money. This will be a good project.

If I get into this and discover I have exactly zero aptitude for quilting — which, frankly, I consider likely — Project Linus also offers this handy pattern for the inept, which requires opposable digits but no actual skills, patience or competence. If you can tie your shoes, you can make this thing, so you don’t have any excuse for blowing off this project.

Go make a blanket. Send me a picture of it (you can e-mail it to me at sundayjohn66 at mac dot com) and I’ll post it here so everybody can see how cool you are. Maybe you’ll win a sewing machine.

Emily

P.S.: Only one more week to pitchers and catchers camp!

Walking the dog

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will make you more conscious of nature than taking a walk with a natural-born hunter.

I ran with Suzanne on the river trail this morning. Songdog joined us this time.

When we got to Suzanne’s, Song directed my attention to a trio of squirrels that were playing in the front yard. Fortunately, I saw them before we got out of the car, so he didn’t have a chance to chase them.

I got kind of annoyed with him when he got sidetracked and drifted in front of me, tripping me, a couple of times on our walk, but he was really very well-behaved … especially considering the amount of information that constantly bombards his senses and distracts him.

In the wild, canids’ survival depends on their ability to find and capture prey … so Song is hard-wired to be infinitely more sensitive to nature, in all its madcap glory, than I am. He notices the birds. He notices the squirrels. He perks up his ears at the slightest noise. He detects the most subtle odor and inhales deeply to try and figure out what it is.

If he could talk, he could tell me the species and probably the identity of every creature that ever left its scent on the trees in front of Suzanne’s house. He could tell me exactly how many different types of animals and edible plants can be found along the trail. He could identify every creature living in the river. And that’s just what his nose tells him.

This morning, he overcame a host of distractions — Strange people, seagulls, other dogs, a mockingbird, a leaf blowing across our path, and a vast array of sounds and smells I can’t even begin to imagine, let alone detect — and trotted along at heel for three miles, with only a couple of momentary lapses.

Sometimes dogs amaze me.

Emily

Fence, etc.

The guys finally came by today to install the new fence in our back yard. I think it looks absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to start laying out the garden that will go behind it.

In the picture below, Scout was just finishing up her initial inspection of the workmanship.

Scout fence

While I was outside, I decided it was time for portraits of the kids. Here they are:

This is Scout. She is a rat terrier. Emphasis on the “rat” part. In addition to being a home security specialist, Scout is an experienced exterminator, demolition expert, and all-around holy terror. I wouldn’t wish her on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything, either.

Evil One

This is Jason, our retired racing greyhound. Greyhounds are gentle, stately creatures, beautiful and sensitive and loving. They are capable of reaching speeds of 45 mph, but most of the time, they move at the same pace as your average three-toed sloth.

Jason

Songdog is our crazy collie mix. We wanted another dog. We were looking for a lap dog we could take along on road trips. Song wandered into the driveway and adopted us. So now we have a 50-pound lap dog. We think he’s mostly smooth-coated collie, but he appears to have a bit of heeler and maybe a dash of Belgian Malinois mixed in.

Song spent part of this evening doing his very best impression of those anti-drug commercials from the ’80s. You know:

This is your collie.

Song

This is your collie on drugs.

Song on acid

Any questions?

Counting my blessings

I have lots of blessings to count this evening. Here are some of them:

1. Birds. On the way out of the office today, I saw a half-dozen starlings sitting on a wire in the parking lot. They were calling to each other in strange little voices. Then, about a quarter-mile from home, I pulled up to a stop sign and heard about a zillion birds singing their hearts out. I don’t know where they were. I looked all around but couldn’t see them; I guess they were all hiding in the trees nearby, chattering madly. Their little peeping and chirping was so cute, I had to roll down the window and shut off the stereo just so I could hear it better.

2. Spring. As I pulled into the driveway, I saw a robin on my neighbor’s fence. It made me think of my grandma. When I was little — and I mean REALLY little, like maybe three years old — Grandma and I sat on the front stoop of her apartment building and watched my dad and my grandpa doing something or other — moving furniture or something — while a robin supervised the goings-on from its perch in the maple tree high above us. Grandma kept saying, “Hello, Mr. Robin!” and Mr. Robin would reply, “Pert!” I laughed and laughed. Grandma told my mom about it, and I laughed even harder when she said, “Pert!” like the robin. I don’t know why I thought that was so funny, but I did … and my laughter made Grandma laugh, too.

3. Ron. And mushrooms. When I got home from work, Ron made me dinner — a big plate of sauteed mushrooms and a baked potato. Yummy. He makes the best mushrooms.

4. My new jacket. I ran the Oklahoma Marathon a couple of months ago. Everybody who finished got a commemorative Tyvek jacket with the marathon logo on the front and the names of all the finishers printed on the back. Here are a couple of pictures of the jacket:

Jacket1

jacket2

I like it. I like that it has my name on it, and I like that I earned it. I’ll like it even more when I’m out running in it early next Saturday morning with Suzanne. Those runs are OK once we get going, but they’re awfully cold at the beginning, and an ultralight jacket is just what I need to keep warm.

What blessings are you counting today?

Emily

I’m a slacker.

My friend Peter from the UK sent me an e-mail a couple of weeks ago, telling me he would be away from his computer for a couple of weeks, because he was going to Kenya. I asked him what he was doing in Kenya. This was his reply:

I am accompanying friends … in their mission to assist a local minister … with his 6 churches, school and 100 orphans (most of these through AIDS). Some time ago, [my friend] was contacted by a parishioner whose son … has spent a lot of time organising the delivery of much-needed items for the large congregations. As this is the year of “Make Poverty History”, [my friend] has been given time off (he is a United Reformed Church minister) to visit Kenya and see how his parishioners can assist. As he knows that I am interested in construction (before retirement I was a construction site manager), I may be able to help with the rather primitive buildings used for school, orphanage and church. I can also help with some teaching. Janice is scheduled to advise the womenfolk on the causes of HIV/AIDS. Maybe we will also do some singing as Janice and I are part of a S.A.T.B. quartet and she is a pianist. We will be taking several children’s text books, Bibles, writing equipment as allowed excess baggage and later, after we return, will be organising the shipment of large items via BA Freight. We will be in Nairobi for 2 weeks and hopefully will be able to see something of the Great Rift Valley, the National Parks and archaeological sites.

Now, here is the question his e-mail raised in my mind — and I want you to think about it, too:

What have I done today to help somebody else?

Granted, the answer is probably not going to be, “Flew to Nairobi to build schools and churches and teach the local citizens about AIDS prevention.” But what have you done? If your answer is “nothing,” write a check and stick it in an envelope to send that nonprofit group that’s been flooding your mailbox with requests for donations, or go click the “feed the hungry” button on The Hunger Site, or grab a quarter and go feed a stranger’s parking meter while you’re thinking about where you can find an hour or two in your schedule to do some volunteer work.

Peter arrived in Nairobi on the 15th. Here are his impressions, sent Friday:

We arrived in Nairobi last Sunday and are staying in the Anglican Church Guest House. Quite comfortable and the food is good. Our mission is to help the Reverend … with his churches, orphans and school. They are situated in the most appalling slums that you can imagine. But all that we have met are so happy and undemanding. We have been very moved by their resilience. Today we are going to see the 120 pupils in what serves as a school ( actually a tin shack) and listen to their lessons. When we saw the children last Monday they sang welcoming songs to us – it was very moving. We will have time to see something of the other Kenya and in fact did go to the giraffe park last evening.

Now, here’s another assignment I have for you today: Stop and think up three reasons to be thankful.

If you can’t think of anything, here’s some more inspiration, courtesy of the update Peter sent me this morning:

We had a pretty busy day yesterday and despite being in the school “building” (I say building advisedly!), for over 4 hours while all the Rev. Philip’s various pastors and parishioners came to see us and partake in their form of services, time did not drag. We were able to entertain them with a few songs/hymns and their 2 choirs were extraordinarily good, despite only having some pretty basic drums to accompany them. Later that evening we went into the Anglican Cathedral of All Saints to attend Evensong (such a change after all the dancing and singing in the slum areas) and later yet we went for some nice cool beers in a nearby hotel.

I found the railway museum fascinating. Kenya owes much to the railroad built by the Colonial British between 1896 and 1902 from Mombasa to Lake Victoria via what became Nairobi. It was a very difficult route and used mainly imported Indian labour, many of whom died in the process. In its heyday it must have been a wonderful way to travel, but now, as with so much of the country, it is in a general state of decay. You only have to see the roads and slums to know how little is being done at government level to help maintain this land. And yet generally the people are so friendly and happy.

I saw the slum school’s headmaster yesterday and the 10 new desks that I commisioned will be ready tomorrow. I’ll be seeing them on Friday when I give the children a talk on the Principles of Flight and present them with a new drum. If I can arrange it I will be going to a very ancient place this week where the earliest known remains of Human life have been found, dating back 19 million years. In this area are thousands of stone axes and other tools dating from about 50,000 BC. It appears to be a “factory” site for the manufacture of stone implements.

As a mark of our visit a tree is to be planted on Wednesday.

By the way, this is not the first time Peter has traveled far from home to do something positive. A few years ago, he and a friend flew their Fiat Panda to the United States and drove it down Route 66 as part of a fundraiser/awareness-raising project for charity.

If his efforts inspire you, please post a comment here and tell me what you did. Maybe it will give someone else an idea.

Emily

Resisting temptation

It’s a good thing I have Ron to keep my impulsiveness in check, or I’d get myself in a lot of trouble.

As we walked into Petco this afternoon to pick up some bedding for the worms, a wiggly, excited little Katrina survivor greeted us at the door.

It looked like a very small pit bull. I suspect it was a Staffordshire bull terrier. Staffies look like old-fashioned pit bulls (think Petey from Our Gang) — same small, wide-set eyes, square jaw, sturdy build, and lick-you-to-death personality, but instead of weighing in at 50 to 80 pounds, they’re about 30 pounds.

I was SO tempted to adopt it, but Ron won’t let me have a bully breed (even though he and the neighbor’s pit-Lab mix, Skittles, adore each other). He says Scout is just too much of a provocateur to cohabit peaceably with another fighting breed, and he is probably right.

Anyway, we bought some aspen shavings, and I added a layer to the top drawer of the worm bin and doused it down with water. I think the worms will be fine with it (I used to put used aspen shavings into my worm bin when I bred gerbils a few years ago), but just to be safe, I hedged my bets and only put it in one drawer. If the worms tolerate it well, I will add some to the other drawer in a few days.

That’s all for now. I wish you could have seen that Katrina dog. I know you would have fallen in love with it just like I did.

Emily

Madeleine

I am working on a children’s picture book about a little girl named Madeleine.

Madeleine, who is very precocious (and, IMHO, very cute), is going to have all sorts of adventures, mostly in her back yard. Her first one involves an unexpected visitor in the watering can.

Madeleine is a very special little girl … but I want you to meet her before I tell you any more about her. (BTW, things are going to get a little flaky under the picture, so if that’s likely to bug you, go ahead and click “back” to return to whatever it was you were reading before you wandered in here.)

Anyway, here’s Madeleine:

Madeleine

Madeleine was conceived about four and a half years ago. And she was almost born.

In August 2001, I was on vacation on Route 66 in Williams, Ariz., when I experienced symptoms consistent with an early-term miscarriage. I suspected I might be pregnant but hadn’t taken a test to confirm that. And I was so overwhelmed with all these weird emotions that I didn’t have presence of mind enough to take a test afterward, either … so for four and a half years, I’ve wondered if I’m just nuts, grieving for someone who never existed in the first place, or if I actually lost a child that day.

Whatever happened that day, it’s eaten at me ever since. I finally got tired of feeling rotten about it, so a couple of months ago, I called a Christian Science practitioner to help me sort it out. She was very kind and very helpful, and after working with her on the problem for a few days, I started to feel a little better about it and told her I thought I could take it from there.

In the meantime, three different people described me as “childlike.” One of them was my mom, who got an excited e-mail from me about finding a little tree frog perched on Songdog’s water bowl one evening. Her reply was something to the effect that there was a 5-year-old trapped inside me, and I needed to let her out to write books.

I sort of blew off the idea at the time, but a few weeks later, I was talking to a friend, and we had this very elaborate metaphysical conversation about some of Mary Baker Eddy’s ideas, including the notion that we are all spiritual ideas that God thought up, not material beings made of blood and bone.

A few days later, it hit me: It doesn’t matter whether there was once a physical being growing inside of me. It matters that an idea has been growing inside of me ever since. All of a sudden, my friend’s comments, my mom’s suggestion about writing children’s books, and four and a half years’ worth of mental images of my unborn child (whom I’ve always referred to as “Madeleine”) came together, and in that instant, as I waited for a red light to turn green, an entire book about Madeleine sprang into my thought, complete with illustrations.

I felt much better, but the healing still wasn’t quite complete … until tonight, when I finally sat down, put brush to paper, and saw Madeleine’s little face smiling up at me.

Madeleine is alive. She has a personality and a story and a face. She’s a busy, inquisitive, precocious little girl. And like most busy, inquisitive, precocious little girls, she is teaching me to see the world through her innocent eyes.

What a blessing.

Emily

P.S.: You will think I am a total cheeseball for this, but as I was writing just now, I was listening to Delilah on the radio, and she played that song “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You.” I nearly choked on the back of my tongue trying to keep back the tears.