I was joking about starting a grammar blog, but enough of you responded positively that I thought I'd vent a little. This sentence was contained in an email I got today from one of the gift stores here:
" Have your kid's bring in their wishlist and parent's bring in your camera's for a visit with the big guy! "
First of all, I'm sure that whoever wrote that is sweet and possibly plenty smart too. What's strange about this whole apostrophe misuse thing is that it's recent and it seems to be contagious. It's some sort of plague that's sweeping what's left of the ravaged English language. (Or should that be "Its some sort of plague thats sweeping whats left of the..."?) People are actually catching it from each other. I knew that was possible with common word misspellings, but I guess it applies to this too. In case you've gotten this far and am wondering what I'm talking about, please know that "kids", "parents", and "cameras" are all plural and do not require apostrophes. Plural words never require apostrophes unless they're also possessive. Go on, spread the good news :-)
Mom, thank you for teaching me to ask "why?" before I shove an apostrophe into anything.
I have a wave of angst every time I get mad over grammar or spelling. Why am I such a snob? I usually try to overlook it. I shrug at "it's" and "its" mistakes--that is truly a little confusing. I'm never sure whether to put punctuation inside or outside of quotations. I try to cut editors of online articles (do they exist?) some slack because they're rushing to get it out ahead of the next guy. I know that my own writing is far, far from perfect. But this is getting--may I borrow a misspelled word and some unnecessary quotations here?--"rediculous!"
Let's take comfort in the fact that technical errors aren't the only way to destroy a language. We generally at least get the right idea across. Last night I saw an advertisement off base that brought tears of joy to my eyes:
Encounter the wedding bands of fate.
I'm ready to run for shelter, should these fateful bands ever set me in their sights. A technically perfect sentence getting a completely wrong idea across. Please comment & share other Japan Joy you've spotted. Or brutally call me out on any mistakes, since I've asked for it.
It's a cool, gray, breezy day. Evangeline and Max are napping. I'm sipping coffee and eating a bagel, so you fellow Charlottesvillains can guess which haunt I'm pretending to be at. (My coffee's better but my bagel, of course, isn't.) I'm listening to my favorite contemporary Christmas album, Sara Groves' "O Holy Night".
kingdoms and crowns
a God who came down
to find you
My friend V introduced me to Sara Groves by saying many times that my sister sounds like her. (She's not a new artist, I'm just shockingly ignorant of contemporary Christian music. There is so much drivel out there that I'm usually too lazy to wade through it for the good stuff.) It's true, although with their respective bands they go in different directions. They both have a tendency to put lyrics and a melody to something I've held in my heart but couldn't for the life of me spit out.
heard it told,
you think it's odd
the whole thing fraught with complications
What a strange tale we proclaim in our carols this time of year. Some know for sure that they don't believe it; others know it as the bedrock of truth.
the play begins with
a baby God
and all His blessed implications
Something is implied by this Birth. It's just the beginning. I almost want to say that God has something up His sleeve, but the middle part of the story is something so painful and wretched--it's no trick. He's not playing.
For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given,
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
there will be no end.
This is no game and no joke, but at this point in the story angels are rejoicing. The next song on the album, a singable retuning of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", imagines what they might have said.
O ye beneath life's crushing load
whose forms are bending low
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow,
That last phrase gave me pause today. I've always thought of it as an emotional metaphor, but this morning, as I was struggling to get creaky, swollen joints moving and straining to carry Eva up the stairs, it gave me comfort.
I might say some gross things in here. Consider yourselves duly warned. But my goal is to make this more than Martha droning on about her minor health problems. At least look at the pictures, although you might not get them unless you've been reading along.
Eleven days ago I had surgery to remove part of my right big toenail, which has been a problem for the last 5 years. I've decided to spare you the details, so we're saying that it's "been a problem" kind of like a girl goes to "powder her nose". Many of you have seen it, anyway, and for that I am sorry. 5 years is a long time to wear a bandaid for cosmetic purposes.
Several doctors have recommended I get it removed permanently. So I waited 6 weeks for an appointment with the podiatrist, had a babysitter and the house more or less in order, and when I showed up it turns out that I was booked for the wrong kind of appointment. My podiatrist was a young-looking captain with a laid-back accent faded after years of absence from--and don't let me wow you with my worldly knowledge here--somewhere in Africa, or maybe the Caribbean. After a lengthy and educational spiel covering the history of podiatry and its development, due to diabetic amputations, from an apprenticeship-educated field to a surgical profession, he explained that the short procedure where they remove most of the nail and douse it with phenol to stop it regrowing is barbaric and from the '60s. We needed an operating room (and, by the way, I could have gotten this sort of appointment weeks ago). And the next available operating day was December 17th, the day before we fly to the States for Christmas. I gulped back tears. This was the second time I'd thought I was getting my toenail removed for good and the second time it wasn't happening. I know, I know, it's a lame problem. There's just something about the buildup and letdown that gets to me. I'm just writing this so that if you're ever thinking that you're crying about something lame, you can know that you're not as lame as me crying about not having toenail surgery. And that's me not pregnant.
And this was me not-not pregnant.
Dr. Noel instead squeezed me into the OR schedule for Friday (this was Wednesday). Nathan came home Thursday night, so actually it worked out perfectly--I couldn't drive and needed him to take me to and from the hospital. Since I waited so long to write this, I've forgotten all of the funny little details. Or maybe all the painkillers have fogged my memory. The pre-op waiting room had 6 beds in it, not separated by anything, and was open to the hallway/nurses' station/recovery room next door. It felt very communal and Italian. At first it bugged me having to sit basically in public in a hospital gown, but as the hours of waiting--yes, hours--dragged on, I was grateful for the company and the people-watching. My baby-faced orderly wasn't very sure of himself, but another one (also looking to be about 19) came in venting angrily to everyone about that horrible book that Amazon was selling. The older lady next to me had spent a total of 7 years in Europe (by assignment) and 15 in Okinawa (by choice). Her oldest son stayed in Okinawa when they left the first time, because it felt like home to him, so now she and her husband have moved back to be near their granddaughter. The things you do for love!
The anesthesiologist totally hooked me up, which was nice of him (especially since I'd been roundly scolded for having some water the morning before surgery), but afterward I had to learn that sniffing alcohol pads can stave off nausea. For a little bit.
3 days of percocet and 10 in a velcro-slip-on-shoe thing later, I'm down to just a bandage and I'll soon be able to drive. I somehow managed to pop out all 4 of my stitches, so instead of healing nicely my toe will look gnarly...but people probably will be distracted by my large missing chunk of toenail! Poor little Eva had a very rough 12 days of congestion, fever, ear infection, ER (complete with catheter) & doctor visits, being constantly cooped up in the house, and antibiotics, was all better on Sunday, then got a stomach bug Monday and couldn't keep anything down all afternoon yesterday. She seems to be better now, and is such a good sport about all of it. I am grateful that God gave me such a sunny baby. Nathan (oh yeah, and my mamasan too!--I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go back to life without one) has done every last bit of work around here and all the shopping, all while holding Evangeline every minute that he's home because he's her fav.
Sunday we did have some fun. "Bweee!"
One unfortunate side effect of her illness yesterday is that she now thinks the sign for "food" is the sign for "TV", because every time she'd ask for food we'd try to distract her with cartoons. TV is the opposite of food, Eva. It's like brain poison.
In other news, I'm mourning the demise of the possessive apostrophe. Has anyone else noticed this? It's been butchered most gruesomely in every venue of late. Do you think that if I started a grammar blog for beginners (like Click It Up a Notch but not fun) people would read it?
Yeah, that was a joke.
In other other news, don't google "prosthetic toenail". Just don't do it.
1) People who think that dogs don't feel guilt or anger are like those plastic blow-up dolls who say that breastfeeding should never hurt. I've never met a single woman in real life who didn't think that breastfeeding hurt like the dickens at first. And I have seen guilt and anger written all over Mad Max. The other night after I put Eva to bed I came downstairs to find him slinking around for no apparent reason--he wasn't in trouble. But he had "Uhoh" written all over his face. Sure enough, I found it later. And he poops or pees--whichever is more available, I guess--every single time I shut him in the bathroom for punishment (which is rare, but he gets nippy and growly sometimes, which is obviously not OK).
2) My new neighbor is awesome. She collapsed all of her boxes and put her recycling out at the proper time. (The recycling spot is on my lawn, which is why I care.)
3) All of my family was at my cousin's wedding this weekend, and though I'm happy for Mary and Jeff, I was pretty sad when I saw the pictures. This life of ours makes us miss out on so much.
4) I am taking a break from Kumon, maybe until the beginning of February. That's a pretty long break. Will I go back?...We'll see... It was stressing me out, and by "it" I mean "my procrastination". And I want to devote more time to working on music for the chapel. And to making sure that my house does not become a biohazard.
5) There is a pretty tabby cat that's been hanging out behind my house and in the forest around here. It's a stray, scared of humans. It has the cardboard cylinder from inside a roll of packing tape around its neck, and that makes me really sad. I wonder if someone did that to it or if it was an accident.
6) It's been a rough week, and most of this post is a week old.
The Pater Familias gets to visit with his parents this weekend. Actually, in light of what I'm going to write today, I should say that his parents get a visit from him this weekend. Before this little revelation I had, I would have thought Oh, that's nice for all of them. And I'm jealous that he gets to do it and not me. For my whole first 26 years, I never thought about just how much my mom loved me. If you'd asked me, I would have said it was, "You know, like, alot! Like any good mom does. As much as I love her but maybe just a little more." I don't remember ever explicitly thinking it, but if it had occurred to me I would have said that my mom and I loved each other just about the same amount. Ha!
That is yet another one of those things that you are totally ignorant of until you have a kid. There is no way that I can explain how much more I love Evangeline than she could ever possibly love me back--from the little noises she makes when she's drinking, to her tolerant giggle when I kiss her belly, to the way she smiles in anticipation and throws her head back for me to tickle her neck, to the way she laughs when she farts--it's all amazing to me. It's a strange thing. Healthy relationships aren't usually like that lopsided, but from parents to children they have to be. Motherhood is something that can't be imagined from the outside. It's true that you could never understand how difficult it is, and also that you could never, ever understand the beauty of it.
So tonight I have a little warm glow knowing how happy Nathan's parents must be to see him.
And thanks, Mom, for loving me more than I could grasp until now.
(And thanks for being the only one in this picture who's not a fat-face!)
I had a little culinary triumph tonight--well, besides it being ready way too late for EE to eat it so I had to feed her green beans and beef ravioli--so I thought I'd share. It's a super flexible, throw in what you want recipe. NPR, despite its blatant liberalism, is a welcome bastion of civilization on our radio here, which otherwise only spews inane pop, repetitive country, and frightening talk shows. This chef was on NPR on Saturday morning; the real recipe is called Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good but I decided to put a military spin on mine. (You know, like fasteners [comma] hook-and-loop, meals [comma] ready-to-eat, et cetera.). I was already traipsing on down the road to check out the Japanese produce store, so I picked up this half-a-pumpkin in there. The original recipe calls for a whole pumpkin, but this way all the hard work was done for me!
I'm sure that anyone who knows about cooking will tell me from that picture that my pumpkin was horribly overcooked. I left it in for a really long time. Or maybe it wasn't overcooked, I wouldn't know. All I know is that it tasted great.
I'll let you read her recipe for the real deal, but what I put into mine was:
salt & pepper in the pumpkin
mixed together, then stuffed:
toasted sourdough bread, cut into small chunks
mozzarella cheese, cut into similar small chunks
~1/2 tsp garlic [comma] minced (from a jar)
a dash of thyme (dried,I mean plucked from my hydroponic herb garden)
poured into the pumpkin after it was stuffed until stuffing was moist:
heavy cream with nutmeg, salt, & pepper mixed in
I cooked it in that Corningware dish in the picture and covered the top of the pumpkin loosely with a piece of tin foil, since in her recipe you put the lid on the pumpkin for eating. I never took off the foil (like she did with the lid) because I thought it would dry out too much. After somewhere around 2 hours at 350 degrees, I dug in. Just scoop out some pumpkin along with some stuffing. It's pretty mushy, so beware if you have a thing about textures.
Hope you enjoy this somewhat more unique use for all those pumpkins in the stores right now!
This week I learned to make sure I actually took a picture on manual before I get all proud of myself. This one's the real deal (from the same day as last week's--I didn't take any pictures this week). A rare moment where EE & Dadu get to hang out together.
I saw some pictures once where clouds just like that were made to look really swirly and with much more variety in lighting...it's impossible to describe. More dramatic, I guess. Any thoughts on how to do that?
EE is happy on her own for the first time today, because she discovered the delicious T's cookie bar that I was about to eat as my after-swim snack. She decided that I was eating damp sand out of a sandwich bag and immediately started digging in and crumbling it with her chubby little fists, making her monster voice all the while. It was so cute, how could I stop it? This has been her worst bout of teething since the first two so she's extra pathetic today. (Read: extra spoiled, despite me implementing "time outs".)
Oh, she discovered that it's not sand. Well it's all gross and babyhandled now, so I'm glad one of us is getting to enjoy it.
[In the time it took me to write about Eva being occupied and leaving me free to write, she finished being occupied and I had to stop writing for the day and get out the vacuum. >24 hours later...]
. The other day I realized just how cramped we are here on our little piazza. I think the fact that it took me 7 months to realize this speaks to the fact that I really don't mind. But we're in an end unit. We don't share a walkway with anybody, and our front door doesn't open 3 feet from somebody else's front door. I get cell phone service inside, because I'm not embedded deep in a concrete bunker. Thinking about this takes me back to the Army cribs of my childhood. At West Point we were in an end unit with a fenced side/back yard for our awesome German Shepherd, Chief. But that didn't work out so well for him, as he felt very defensive toward men in uniform. He went to live on a farm in California. (No, literally, that's not a euphemism. He found his real home as my Papa Joe's executive officer.) I vaguely remember my mom often mentioning how small our quarters always were, but that meant nothing to us. We were kids--everything was big! In Panama City we lived in an apartment squeezed between a coffee factory behind and some serious partiers above us. One of the windows in our building had a bullet hole, which my kid brain connected with Just Cause having gone down 2 years before. Of course the bullet hole was from the war. Once we got onto Fort Clayton we were in a duplex, and could actually talk to the kids in the room next door through the wall. (First, Alfredo and Eduardo, then a passel of rough-around-the-edges Mormon boys.) We would play knocking games too. When I moved into a college dorm years later, I got the same kind of feeling but with less camaraderie.
Nathan and I agree that there's a lot to be said for living cheek-by-jowl. It leaves room for the good stuff, like lots of playgrounds and fields where otherwise there could be just one-big-house/yard, one-big-house/yard, blah blah. Plus neither of us is a big fan of yard work. I'm not saying we like the small houses, just the close-togetherness.
There is a certain awkwardness that living close together removes from new friendships. The way you can casually knock on a neighbor's door to say hi or ask a question or say "Please take my child!" is very different from picking up the phone, especially in those uncertain, early days when you're wondering what path the relationship is headed down. Casual acquaintance? Buddy-buddy? Deployment wife? Pretend-you-didn't-see-her? Neighborship is a good start to any of these. (For the record, neighbors, I never pretend-I-didn't-see-you on purpose. Sometimes I'm zoning.)
There are drawbacks, too. The selfish part of me gets annoyed at the kids walking through our yard right alongside our house, as though it's theirs--but what harm are they doing? Someone's refrigerator or broken mirror might end up hanging out in your lawn. Someone's dog might poop in the next yard over even though he's tied up, because the yards are that small (guilty!). The parking is borderline cutthroat for the innermost houses. But overall, it's cozy. It would probably take only a couple of hours for someone to notice if I slip in dog pee and hurt myself and can't move and am calling desperately for help...
Tonight I took Mad Max out for his last chance of the day to go potty outside. A damp chill has settled on the neighborhood and there was a little mist in the air. EE was asleep, so that limited our radius. As I finished explaining out loud to Max that he needed to go poopoo and that we would stand in the side yard until he did, he started and looked behind me, so I did likewise. A large man dressed in a black t-shirt and black athletic shorts was striding up the sidewalk towards us with a folded up jogging stroller casually slung over his shoulder. Really, who does that? Who carries a stroller when you can push it? It is slightly creepy to push an empty stroller around, but not over-the-top creepy. The wheels looked intact. Then the answer occurred to me: he was manhandling it. You know, how a guy carries your purse: in his hand only, no looping around wrist or arm, and awkwardly away from his body (until the 3rd year of marriage, apparently--then he slings it over his shoulder like a natural). This was some sort of stroller delivery, and it probably wasn't his stroller. He probably doesn't have a kid. And he was manhandling it to prove all of this. Or perhaps because of all of this--men are mysterious, no?
I watched out of the corner of my eye as he shifted it uncomfortably from one shoulder to the other and continued past us over the crest of the hill. A few minutes later, having despaired of getting Max to poop on rough grass when he can poop on soft rugs, we turned to go inside. And the man was walking back whence he'd come, free of stroller encumbrance.
No, that's not really the definition of manhandle.