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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.


Hi there!
Did you hear that whooshing sound? That was the sound of Saturday going by in a microflash.

So, Saturday morning I took Tree to my friend Kathy's for the morning so she wouldn't have to be crated for hours and hours and hours (which turned into "for the day" because we realized that the same problem existed during the evening party. And she offered to keep Tree overnight too in case our party ran late. Kathy her husband are very nice and love Tree dearly.)

Then off to the synagogue! Got there in time to meet the photographer. Family arrived separately. Group photos. Then people started arriving.

LJH did OH SO WELL in the service. All the times that she mumbled or stumbled during dress rehearsal? Gone. (okay, she had a little trouble with the blessing after the Haftorah but when you consider how long that puppy is... who cares?) (and PS, I did well with my reading too. I can read the more common tropes! yay trope! There are some I still don't know but I'll get them eventually.) Everyone complimented her reading, and how personable she was during her d'var torah speech...

One of my favorite moments of the day was when LJH held the Torah and paraded it around the room with the Rabbi, Mirth and me. Mirth and I were seated in the front row so we hadn't gotten to see who all was there, until the moment that we wended through the room while the choir sang. and there were all these faces of people who we love and who love us, with big smiles on their faces.

The lunch was great, and so was the evening, which I will discuss in a separate post because this one is getting long. The one appalling detail is that some of the kids started a cupcake fight--how many cupcakes? I have no idea. Couldn't have been many because the mess wasn't that bad, but still there was a mess! And icing was found in a number of places it shouldn't have been (the elevator, the deck, and the sidewalk below the deck), and I didn't know about it until after it was over and the caterer came up and suggested that the kids who were involved should be the ones who clean up the mess. And when I tried to round up the kids, the ones who were most defensive about it (read: probably heavily involved) were outside walking around with tame chickens in their arms. I can't compete with a tame chicken without getting all stern and angry and I really didn't feel like being stern and angry at my nice party. Sigh.

Then it was over! The party broke up earlier than expected, and the hall was cleaned up early, and it was all over except waiting for parents to pick up their kids (from the playground where they were still hanging out with tame chickens).

Home again, to open presents and make lists for thank-yous and collapse on the couch with a cup of tea.

At 11:30 I got a call: Tree became ill at Kathy's. She is overnight in the animal hospital for observation. The X-ray looks like she ate a sewing needle. Based on where the needle looked like it was, chances were 50/50 whether she would need exploratory surgery or whether it was just, um, passing through uneventfully. (Cross your fingers please.) Of course we don't know where she found the thing (my place? Kathy's? On a walk in the park?). Good thing she was at someone's house! Imagine if the poor baby had been alone at home in her crate!

So now I have to get the house ready for the out-of-towners' brunch, and call the hospital, et cetera. More later.

Aug. 29th, 2013

Hi there!
Here we are. Aug 29. LJH's bat mitzvah is in two days. Two days, people. My little baby, who is now taller than I am, will get up in front of assembled friends and relatives and congregation on Saturday morning and chant from the end of Deuteronomy.

It's down to last minute details. She's had two dry runthoughs with the Rabbi, reading from the actual scroll. She's written her speech. She's had her last meeting with her tutor. Relatives are showing up in town. We're putting together centerpieces.

I'm exhilarated and exhausted. And very pleased.

I learned to read cantillation marks along with LJH, which was very cool. I always wanted to learn it but I thought it would be too hard. but she made it so easily available for LJH that all I had to do was hang out during her lesson and practice along with her and I learned it too.

And! we gave an aliyah to a friend of ours (which is to say, we asked her to come up and recite the blessing for one of the Torah readings). She's just learning to read Hebrew, and I figured if she would do it from the transliteration it would be okay, but we ran into her at the tutor's house and she has been practicing so she can read it from the actual Hebrew! I'm so proud of her too, and deeply touched that she has taken this opportunity as a learning goal.

So that's two situations where people are learning more Torah because of LJH's learning... Which proves that if you do mitzvot in the world, the good of it spreads out like ripples.