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Hi there!
Hank Green came to town with many musicians, all of whom were wonderful. La Jeune Hatbox is a huge fan of Hank and his brother John, so as soon as the tour was announced she asked that we buy tickets. So we did. We had a wonderful time, and enjoyed the music, and bought albums and posters and whatnot.

We had been listening to the latest album for about a month (LJH's much-begged for birthday present back in May) so their excellence was no surprise. But...the opening bands were amazing, and of a level that--let's be honest here--you don't always get from opening bands.

I had never heard of Rob Scallon, Andrew Huang, or Driftless Pony Club before. Scallon and Huang each provided moments that left me open-mouthed with amazement.

Driftless Pony Club... well, the sound mix made the lyrics hard to hear, and did not do them any favors so I was left cold. But LJH played the album ("Buckminster") for me the next day (which is much, much better than I would have guessed from what I heard in the club) and started explaining all these facts about Buckminster Fuller and everything she'd been reading about his life and work and why it makes sense that all the songs sound about the same and what the lyrics mean. I really can't fault a band that is inspired by (and gets my kid excited about) genius mathematicians.

And in other news regarding culture... LJH is into horror right now. We are bringing her up right, and she agrees: Vampires Do Not Sparkle. She is working her way through Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and we have been enjoying some rather non-standard family movie nights, involving such fare as Evil Dead 2, Cabin In The Woods, and Doc of the Dead (a terrific documentary about zombie movies).

Oh, and Mirth and I saw the restored version of Hard Day's Night last night. That was fun! And I hear that Stop Making Sense is being restored, and is coming to Seattle in a few weeks. I now get to be one of those people who say, "I remember seeing that in theaters the first time around." (La Jeune Hatbox had an obsession with Stop Making Sense when she was a preschooler. I need to find the construction-paper "book" she made of the opening sequence to the movie. I think I absolutely must take her to this...)

Jul. 4th, 2014

Hi there!
Hi everyone...

So, it's been kind of eventful --the short form of what happened is that people persist in being themselves. Right now everything is pretty good. We have lots of people in our community who are good and supportive. There was drama, but not right now, and we're back to good-and-supportive and people being themselves in sometimes annoying but mostly good ways.

I don't know whether I'm going to start keeping this up again. I might.

Here's what I've been up to:
  • Family!
    • La Jeune Hatbox is going into 9th grade. 9th grade, people! High school! Teen stuff! She's reasonably sensible, which is a relief. And we share similar tastes in media, which is also a relief. I'm so glad we don't have one of those contentious "everything you listen to is noise!" relationships.
    • Mirth is okay as long as he doesn't accidentally eat something that makes him sick. Sometimes he makes the choice to eat the wrong thing and pays the price, but as that cause/effect thing gets more apparent, he's making better choices and generally doing well.
    • And the dog... she's a dog. She is cheerful and smart and wacky. She steals socks from the laundry room and buries them in the backyard. Clean or dirty, it doesn't matter. Our socks are just that wonderful that they must be buried.
    • Mom is doing OK. We've been helping her go through Pop's stuff. She's throwing herself into social activities, and seems to be holding up pretty well, all things considered. And we all miss Pop. We've gotten past the first Father's Day without him and the first of his birthdays since he's been gone... The blooms on my hardy fuchsia bush are about to open and now I will have to go through the first season of that without him too. I didn't have the heart to plant a garden this year. Gardening without him... I'm not ready for that yet. And so it goes.

  • Music! I have been getting more into conducting the temple choir (the previous conductor left. Did I mention that drama happened and people were themselves? There ya go.) I have been learning more modern Jewish music and I'm excited about sharing it and teaching it to the choir. I went to a conference in Wisconsin and it was wonderful.
  • Other Jewish stuff! The previous rabbi left and the new rabbi is in. I am now the VP of the board of our congregation. I really like the new rabbi and I really like the way the new president thinks and I think we'll have some great synergy once we all get up to speed. I am still studying Torah with LJH's former bat mitzvah tutor and that has been a really great experience too. I really like Ruz and really enjoy her friendship and learning with her.
  • Business... okay, not much is going on there. All these other things are taking up a lot of my focus. I am not sure if I should care much. Right now I'm happy just puttering along very part-time for now.
  • And of course, my own health. I'm making sure to eat right and take my meds (which continue to work well for me) and get some exercise--not enough to lose weight right now, but enough to keep me in reasonably good shape for the shape I'm in.

So, that's my life. All in all, things are very good. What's up with you?

better now

Hi there!
After the bad week, things got better. Easier to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and putter inside the house and out in the yard, and make hopeful plans.

We had snow on Saturday night! I know, I know, everyone's got snow these days. But we had a marvelous Saturday night snow that actually stuck! We got about 2 inches here. At first the puppy was scared--what is this white stuff? Where did the deck go? Where is my dirt? But then she figured it out, and was happy to chase snowballs and galumph about. I wish I had video of her, but I was the one throwing snowballs so I couldn't stop and photograph anything. You'll just have to take my word for it. By Monday morning the roads were clear again, and it's just gotten milder and milder.

Today the air smells like spring, all sweet and hopeful.

Jan. 30th, 2014

Hi there!
We have now reached the part of grieving where I tend to sit around a lot and not get much done and burst into tears unexpectedly for no reason.

As near as I can tell, the main difference between having this reaction with crappy brain chemistry and having it with corrected brain chemistry is that I don't feel that I suck at life for having this reaction. It's a fine distinction but I'll take it.

State of the Hatbox

Hi there!
Happy slightly-belated New Year!

We had one of the nastiest Decembers in recent history. We had barely recovered from Pop's funeral when other close friends experienced horrible events. Deaths and missing persons and bad diagnoses and more hospice and... oh, December.

Three funerals in one month is too many. It is also TOO MUCH. (The missing person was found after a week. She is fine.)

So here we are, in January. Christmas and New Years were just... kinda bleah. But we are getting back to a routine, and that's always a good feeling, even if the New Normal is conspicuously missing some people.

Thank goodness for the puppy. There have been times in the past month when our family consisted of exhausted grownups and an easily-nettled teenager. What we needed most in the world was a puppy to lick our faces and make us go for walks and play catch with a squeaky toy.

Do five things still make a post?

Hi there!
  1. Now that the bat mitzvah is done, I have 7 hours more time in my schedule (including lessons, commuting to lessons, and reminding LJH to practice her Hebrew and listening to her practice). Plus... I don't have to lead a scout troop this year, so that's another hour every week (make that at least two, counting prep time). Eight more hours a week, for both LJH and me! That's an extra workday, right there.

    So.... less stress on LJH. Less stress on me. And more puppy cuteness.

  2. My brother was unable to come out for the event, because his evil ex was being excessively rigid. Fortunately he and his girlfriend were able to change their tickets to the weekend by my birthday. UNfortunately that was the weekend when I came down with a very nasty crud, so they couldn't stay with me (but they were able to stay at Mom & Pop's, so that was OK) and I couldn't see them at all for the first few days (except by Skyping with them). Fortunately I was able to see them eventually and Mom got more time with them so that was good. Unfortunately Pop's been sick lately with some mystery illness (tests later this week) so they perhaps weren't exactly prepared for guests. But it all worked out.

  3. This weekend we started taking the pup for hikes. I can see this becoming a habit.

  4. We also went to a pumpkin patch (without the puppy) and got pumpkins for pie and carving. It's decorative gourd season, yo.

  5. Edited: Oven update! We'd been trying to figure out what to do about the oven's Dreaded F7 Error, which we had pretty much written off as "broken" and were trying to decide whether to ignore, repair, or replace.* The repair sounded expensive (and we could be looking at a repeat somewhere down the line) but then I found a page explaining an underlying design problem that is often the cause... and a fix involving a piece of paper between two things that short out. Insulation--it's a good thing! (So far it's been good for a couple days now. Fingers crossed!)

*the appliance version of the "bed, marry, kill" game.

In which Tree Smells Something Good

Hi there!
Tree: Yum! What is that delicious smell? (jumps up, trying to see what is on the kitchen counter)

Miz Hatbox: Hi, puppy. Do you smell the lox? (Goes to cupboard full of plasticware, to get something to put the smoked salmon in)

Tree: It is most delicious smell ever! And I am a Good and Helpful Puppy! (Closes cupboard doors--almost too fast for a person to get a container--and then sits nicely with a very hopeful expression)

Miz Hatbox: What a Good Puppy! Sure, you get a treat! (Gives kibble, puts salmon away in fridge)

Tree: (crunches kibble disappointedly)

Tree stories

Hi there!
In Which Tree Finds A Thing
Tree: Look! I haz a thing! It is wonderful! It has corners to chew on. It is small and I can toss it in the air. It is flat and I can roll on it to scratch my back. What a fine thing!

(proceeds to chew it toss it, roll on it, et cetera)

Miz Hatbox: Tree, you look like you're having fun with... um... the packet that your Frontline flea stuff came in? Sweetie, you don't need that. (takes packet and throws it away)

Tree: (pauses and digs in her toy-box) Look! I haz another thing! It is wonderful! (lays on her back chewing a plastic clothing hanger) It has a curvy thing that I can chew on. I can put my head through it and rabbit-kick it at the same time. I can roll on it to scratch my back.

(looks significantly at Miz Hatbox) AND I've been chewing on it for a month and you haven't taken it away yet.

Miz Hatbox: Okay, fine. (goes back to computing)
In which Tree is a Master Negotiator
Tree: Hi! Shake my hand!

Miz Hatbox: (shakes paw)

Tree: Excuse me, ma'am. Do you have any spare kibble for a deserving but needy puppy? (gives puppy-version of a winning smile)

Miz Hatbox: Go play. I'm working.

Tree: But... but I shook your hand! (Sits. Offers paw again.)

Miz Hatbox: (sigh)(shakes paw, gives kibble)

In Which Miz Hatbox Wins
A sick Miz Hatbox who wants to take a nap: Hey Tree, Kennel up! Inside!

Tree: Don't wanna. (goes instead to back door, which is already open) I might have to go pee again! You should let me out, just in case.

Miz Hatbox: um, no. Inside! Kennel up! (is ignored by puppy) Here, Tree! (follows dog to offer treats)

Tree: (runs ahead of Miz Hatbox, down the deck stairs and onto the lawn. Looks triumphantly up at Miz H. Does not pee.) Let's play!

Miz Hatbox: (bursts out laughing) You got me this time, kiddo. Hey, look! a wet tennis ball! (throws it onto the deck)

Tree: Ooh! (chases ball)

Miz Hatbox: and a toy jaguar! (squeaks the jaguar, tosses it into the living room and over by the dog crate).

Tree: Ooh! my squeaky jaguar! (follows jaguar, and then follows directions to Kennel Up)

Miz Hatbox: Victory! (exeunt to take nap)


Hi there!
So sad to learn that cindygerb is no longer with us.

She was a really kind and compassionate person. A good listener with a dry wit and excellent taste in books.

Farewell, Cindy.


Happy New Year!

Hi there!
Shanah Tovah to everyone who's celebrating the new year. May 5774 bring you wonderful things.

Tree would like you to know that it is a bad idea to chew on the grill brush. At least we think that's what happened because the Mystery Item (which did involve surgery to extract from her insides) looks a lot like a bristle from a grill brush. It had migrated out of her digestive tract and was hanging out next to her pancreas. The idea of a pointy wire poking out of the digestive tract... just OW. serious OW.

Anyway, she has a big scar on her tummy and she is rocking the Cone Of Shame, which is substantially longer than the end of her nose.

A sidebar: Once upon a very long time ago, back when Mirth and I were barely getting to know each other, Nate needed some minor surgery to remove a lump (which turned out to be benign), which meant he needed a Cone on his head. He radiated disgust and irritation at having to wear it. And the surgical site took way too long to heal, so he needed the cone for an excessive amount of time, and spent that whole month or so in a bitter depressive funk.

Treesa, on the other hand, is not nearly so upset. Cones are useful, after all. They can be used to scoop your toys up. They can hold kibble while you're trying to walk around the kitchen. Cones are GREAT at pushing your food bowl around the room. Or tipping over your water dish. You can carry one squeaky ball in your mouth and two between the cone and your cheek. Unfortunately they do get in the way when you are trying to scratch your ear... but that's okay because then you can scratch the cone where your ear ought to be and make wonderful loud noises!

I have stopped giving her Benadryl to slow her down so she gets her rest. So she's back to her old tricks, which include creating a giant pile of all her chew toys and some washcloths and the odd magnolia leaf. I suspect she's hosting a tea party with them.