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August 2015


"Of course I give you things, Edward! I give you reasonable orders."

Whereupon I am pretty sure he gave her a shove off the couch.


While Steve has spent the past three months diligently - one might be tempted to say obsessively - researching the world's smallest tube of toothpaste (that used by first class passengers on international flights and available on amazon) and other items of ultra interest to ultralight backpackers; Patrick's expressed purpose for joining his father  on the Great Backpacking Trip Part II involved fish. Namely, he wanted to catch a specific type of trout, cook it over an open fire and eat it for breakfast. Daily.


You'll have to take my word for it, but this is Patrick at his happiest.

PS And I am just going to pass over the fact that Steve somehow managed to find - albeit briefly - better cell service in the absolutely freaking middle of total utter mountain nowhere than we have at home.    

Career Counseling

The day before Steve and Patrick left I went through our netflix queue and moved up the movies I might actually want to see by shoving down everything with 'space' or 'star' in the title. 

This resulted in my sitting down last night to watch what I can only hope is the worst soccer movie ever made. The Miracle Match combined a terrible script with execrable acting and poised both upon the pinhead of the lamest "quote" "underdog" "endquote" story of all time: America sends team to 1950 World Cup and they win a game, 1-0.

Not, you know, the final game or the almost semi-final or anything but still. A game. Against... but I don't want to ruin it for you.


Slow. Hand. Clap. That. Increases. In. Volume. And. Pace. Until! The! WHOLE! WORLD! IS! ON! THEIR... no. Not really.

It was just as uninspiring as it sounds although, actually, I do think you should read the wikipedia article on the 1950 World Cup because - in addition to being about a million times better written than that terrible movie - it is both interesting and strangely moving.

Picture it: the world has been devastated by war. Millions are dead. Germany and her allies are still in disgrace. The Soviet Union is retreating behind its iron curtain, taking large chunks of Europe with it. The US is in pretty good shape structurally and financially, but only about 39 people in the whole country give a flying football about soccer and most of them only can manage it on Saturday mornings because the rest of the time they're busy being mailmen or druggists' assistants. And in the middle of all of this you have poor FIFA hopping around, pleading with countries to send a team - any team - to the first World Cup to have been held in twelve years and wondering who the frog they have to bribe to get some men on the field.

[Thank god they eventually got that sorted.]

I digress.

So I watched this terrible movie and Caroline and Edward watched it with me in the sense that they would float in and sit down for a few minutes when they weren't doing anything else.

At the end, when England loses to the US (oh damn it! sorry) Edward turned to me and asked, "So America had the worst team in the world?"

"Well, maybe not the absolute worst in the world but, yeah, I expect the other teams at the World Cup were better. It's taken a loooooooong time for the United States to put the time and money into even trying to develop good teams."

"And England had the best?" he asked.

"One of them. At that time," I guessed and it might even be true.

"Well, then, that's why they lost."

"Sorry," I said, "I'm not following your logic."

"England started the game thinking they were absolutely going to win and were maybe thinking about the other games they had to play and America won because they were paying more attention."

"Edward," I said, "with insight like that you could be a football manager when you grow up. You'd keep your team focused on the game at hand."

"I could be a what?"

"Coach. Manager. The guy in charge."

"Like Jose Mourinho?"

"Yes. I mean, no. Not like Mourinho, he's a complete jerk but yes, a manager."

I watched Edward ponder this.

"Travel the world," I added. "Lots of seafood."

"I'll do it!" he announced.

Five minutes later he came back into the living room.

"Question," he said.

"Answer," I responded, because I am annoying like that.

"If I become a manager would I actually have to watch football? I mean, actually watch it like, every single week?"

"Yes," I said.

"Then forget it."


PS Jan, hi! Sorry, I meant to write this the other day but yes Caroline is taking Mandarin again this year because you asked me, which reminded me to ask her and she said absolutely. So I emailed the school about their Saturday class and they can take her back again. So thank you.

Flip Side

Edward checked out a five hundred page book on optical illusions from the library and I just started a most interesting work on the global and historical importance of the cod fish; so as far as he and I are concerned we could stay in bed forever while Steve and Patrick are gone. Yeah, ok, maybe bring the box of Cheerios in around ten and then some sandwiches in the afternoon but apart from that we're good. 

Meanwhile Caroline is about to murder us both and is spending an inordinate amount of time online researching whale pods. She is also emailing her various grandparents and calling my mother whenever possible.

I took them out for dinner tonight at our local local place and when the waitress asked if they were looking forward to school starting, Caroline blurted, "Oh god yes!"

And then seeing my look of disapproval amended it to, "Christ, yes. I mean, christ yes? I mean crivens! Gah! Whatever! Yes! I can't wait to be back with people!"

Edward and I, although we consider ourselves to be people, chose not to take it personally. As bizarre as it may seem, we understand that there are individuals who do not want to spend their free time reading books while curled up under a soft blanket. Weird but true.

Fortunately for Caroline, the entire world is geared her way and she only has another week until school starts.

Speaking of Caroline I just found these from the days after they were born. She was... mighty.

Picture 063_2

Picture 050

Picture 054_2
Picture 060

PS I put these up before, didn't I? I can't remember. Probably, so sorry for the repeat. I found them all in a folder together and slapped them up before it occurred to me that they were most likely in there because I had posted them recently. Oh well. It was late. Not 'it late here' just normal late.

PPS Speaking of late I realized last night that bedtime has slipped around here to the extent that Caroline came strolling into the living room last night at 11:30 looking for a book and didn't even pretend she was sleep-walking. Then she suggested we should watch TV. 

Faut Souffrir Pour Etre... BĂȘte

There is a pair of Cherokee jeans currently for sale in the girls' clothing section at Target. They are light blue denim with flowers embroidered across the front and down both legs and Caroline fell instantly in love with them. They are pretty. They are also something called Super Skinny and when Caroline (47 inches tall; 48 pounds; body mass index - I just looked it up - in the 33rd percentile) tried on her usual 6X (she has short legs so we roll the cuffs) the fabric gripped her calves like quicksand and she could only, just, pull them up over her thighs.

"I adore them!" she said. "But they hurt here. And here. And here."

I looked at her sympathetically.

"They don't fit," she acknowledged.

We moved on to the laundry detergent aisle but I am still shaking my head.

Target, you disappoint me.

Like Belly Buttons

If there was a conversational equivalent to stepping out of the shower and wrapping oneself in a nice, clean bathrobe this would be it. I feel like saying ahhhhhhh and wriggling my toes and letting bluebirds fluff my hair with a towel.

So. How have you been?

Steve and Patrick left yesterday for their second (annual) (apparently) Great Colorado Backpacking Adventure and although I miss them already - well I do. in theory - it has been very... restorative to have no one and nothing to worry about but myself and the twins.

It's so quiet.

Patrick is a great big brother; truly a Pied Piper genius in his ability to create and implement games but my god they always involve shrieking and whoever said something something about the joy of children's laughter had clearly never heard it. Our most recent round of house guests included two (absolutely delightful. love them dearly) small people and as much as I appreciated Patrick's boundless patience and inventiveness and willingness to entertain the younger kids... for four days it sounded like goats were being skinned alive in my basement. Honestly. I could hear them even when I put my head under the bathwater.

So I'm disappointed with myself for breaking my streak here but at the same time I am objectively interested in the fact that I could reach a point of, huh, what should I call it, extro-aversion? that talking to you (or calling my mom, or opening Twitter, or texting a friend, or emailing my brother) became, increasingly and cumulatively, difficult for me. I wouldn't have thought that there was a correlation between physical, actual demands for my attention and the more virtual ones.

After one two many sleep and quiet (quiet. so good) I feel much better now and I had an epiphany. One that I wish I had had much earlier in life because I think it could have saved some relationships that I regret losing. The fact is that I need to be alone. I really need it. A LOT. Every day. And it has nothing to do with you and how much I like or love you or whether or not I will be there for you in a crisis. I will be.

But that wasn't it; I have known that for a while.

The epiphany was that in the future I need to be more honest about it. And I am not going to feel guilty; I am not going to feel like I am just not trying hard enough; and I am not for the love of all that is holy going to try to rally past my endurance because I have attempted that for over twenty years and even when I thought I succeeded, I failed. 

To paraphrase that thing about fools: It's better to be thought a reclusive oddity and spend a sufficient time on your own, than emerge too soon and confirm it.


The previous owner called the second house on the farm Toad Hall, which I thought was a whimsical allusion to The Wind in the Willows until we turned on a tap in the kitchen shortly after buying the place and water started gushing out the walls. At that point it occurred to us that perhaps she meant it much more literally. 

The short version is that the house had been constructed - badly - on a green treated wood foundation, which meant that thirty years into its lifespan it essentially had no foundation at all. As it settled and adjusted to the extremes of the Wisconsin climate it began to pull itself apart, all higgedly-piggedly with pipes and wires and floors and walls going in different directions.

It could not be repaired. The fire department refused to burn it down for training. The insurance company would not insure it as a residence. The professional salvage company said it was not worth their time to bid on any of it. The only people who seemed to think the house had any value at all were the tax assessors.

It was a dilemma without a clear solution until Steve (or maybe it was his friend) got talking to the guy who owns the local gas station/cheese shop/excavation company and the neighbor who is willing to salvage anything and among them and the fire department they determined that the best - or the least bad - course of action. 

And I am shocked that this elderly (well, older at the time, certainly) woman hired someone to build a separate house for her friend and that person did such a craptacular job of it. I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about construction but even I know that sinking a few wooden posts into the ground in the Upper Midwest and calling that a foundation is courting trouble. I also could not believe that they didn't need building permits and inspections and whatnot. Unbelievable.

Anyway. Long answer but no, no rebuild. The salvaged stuff went to the neighbor who will either use it or sell it as he sees fit and they'll plant over the ground eventually.   

In other news, today - having signed all three children up for Fall rec league soccer -  was my very first day as a soccer mom (we're a demographic) and, as if on cue, the temperature dropped twenty degrees complete with a cutting north wind and drizzle. I was both wet and cold and I was unable to sit down because I did not bring a chair but I did not relish wallowing in a puddle. Also, I was bored. There was one kid on Edward's team that shows some promise in the number 10 position but the rest of them looked like children out there. Bumbling children.

Finally, fellow soccer parents, may I suggest you chill? It's rec league soccer, they're seven, it's the first day of practice - PRACTICE -  and I know you don't want to sit down due to the puddles but don't you feel ridiculous pacing the field during drills, shouting encouragement and/or corrections in the direction of your particular snowflake? 

How long, do you think, before I can start dropping hints that maybe if we all leave and go somewhere for coffee or tea or wine - hey, wine - the coaches and the kids would be fine in our collective absence and we would be much, much happier? Right? Yes? Who's with me?

Ashes To

First they salvaged everything that could be used.

Then they dug a giant hole.

Next they knocked down the foundationless house at the farm that was about to topple over





Finally they set the debris on fire.


Definitely worth the spontaneous two day trip.

Excellent Series But I'm Still Not Happy

Finished listening to the Bartimaeus trilogy on the drive down to the farm today.










Edward said, "So Nathaniel is, essentially, totally, dead?"


"But... but... what about the rest of it? They left so many things open."

"Like what?"

"Well, what's to keep someone else from calling Bartimaeus in the future? Aren't demons still slaves to any magician? What was the point of it all if nothing changed in the end? It's like they fought for no reason."

Well, yeah.