Monday, October 31, 2005


Happy Halloween! Last night was Trick or Treat in my town. I went with my girl, my nephew and my sister and brother in law. It was the first time I'd been out to trick or treat in many, many years.
Some random observations:
1) People give out lots more candy per kid than they used to. They don't give out one fun-size Snickers or a couple rolls of Smarties. They give out a handful of the little Snickers bars or little bags with about half a dozen types of candy in them.
2) It's more fun when the people answering the door are dressed up too.
3) Sometimes scary is too scary. There was one house in the neighborhood that scared the kids and my sister so much that they refused to go in. They had a big pickup truck with yellow flashing lights on top parked in such a way that it looked like it was pinning a man to a tree. He writhed a little bit sometimes just so you could know he was real and not a pretend person. The same yard was full of scary looking things and there were a few zombie-type people silently roaming the yard. I thought it was brilliant, like performance art. The only one who agreed it was awesome was my brother in law.
4) When you're on a dark deserted street and hear the music from Halloween playing faintly a few streets away, it's pretty creepy even if you're a grownup.
5) Older people seem to give the best and most copious quantities of candy.
6) Trick or treating at condo complexes is very efficient. So many homes in such a concentrated space.
7) Trick or treating is a good excuse for checking out people's homes. I love seeing how they decorate and what their houses look like.
8) Carved pumpkins with real candles are still the best Halloween decorations.
9) I saw a shooting star while we were out. That was pretty cool.
10) People can still give out homemade treats (popcorn balls) around here and you know it's okay and not evil and poisoned.
11) Even though the officially designated time for trick or treating was from 5 to 8 in our town, two hours was plenty. The kids were beat and when we weighed my girl's bag o' treats, already minus some treats, it weighed 5.5 pounds!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fall Back

Today is the first morning after the end of daylight savings time. It was weird to wake up at 6:30, which my body still thinks is 7:30, and see the sun up and shining. The dog, who I put to bed at 8:30 last night, was still sound asleep. So much though that I wondered if something was wrong with him and went in and bugged and babytalked him enough to wake him up. He's back curled up napping now. I guess that's what happens to dogs as they get older and winter creeps up. They sleep. A lot. Lucky dog.
So there I was, up at 6:30 on Sunday morning. I made a pot of coffee and sat down at the computer to log into my online class to make my kind of late-ish contribution to this week's discussion only to find out the assignment closed on the 29th. Oh, that was yesterday. Guess the whole thing ended yesterday. Oh well. That was the only time I missed contributing so I think it will be okay.
Taking an online class has been a weird experience. I like the convenience of it but it seems so part time. Which is a dumb thing to say because it is part time. Maybe what feels odd is being a part time student. Any other time I've been in school, school has been my life. One of these days I'm going to adjust and not be obsessive about everything, I hope.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This morning when I dropped my girl off at her middle school I noticed again that none of the kids wear raincoats. Not even when we're in the middle of a Nor'easter like today. They wear sweatshirts and some of them pull the hood over their heads, but that's about it. I saw two girls with umbrellas, but they were walking into school with their mom who works there and was also carrying an umbrella.
When I got to campus I saw lots of rain gear and umbrellas, but I get here around 7:30 which means most of the people I saw were other adults who work here. Us grownups use rain gear, I guess. I reached the door of my building at the same time a student did. She had a raincoat on and was carrying an umbrella. The umbrella was folded up at her side and the hood was down. She had the rain gear but she was still walking through the rain letting her head get wet. What is it with that?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Blue Bunny

I'm pretty quiet these days. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I've been trying to trade computer time for actually doing things in the world time. Not all that time is spent doing important adult-type things, like my new bookkeeping job. Sometimes I'm making things like this, with patterns from here. The patterns are only going to be free until the end of the month, so if you're interested in making little stuffed animals and are too cheap to pay a few bucks for some really good directions, get them now while you can.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Speaking of Tigers

The little red exclamation mark in my Forecastfox Accuweather extension tells me that a killing frost can be expected tonight. I guess it's late October already and the leaves on the tree right outside my kitchen table are all yellow, so this isn't really anything that should come as shocking news. The changes in October are just so dramatic. They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb around here it usually comes and goes like a lion. I nominate October for the comes in like a kitten and goes out like a tiger award.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shameful Confession

I google the answers to riddles if I can't figure them out in about ten seconds.

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Future's So Bright I've Gotta Wear Shades

The sun is out for the first time in about ten days. New Hampshire is not known for any particularly intense solar activitiy and people from brighter, hotter climes probably find it pretty easy on the eyes. However, I had become so accustomed to the dim, dreary gray skies dropping down rain in buckets that I've spent all my outdoor time today squinting at the partly sunny, partly cloudy, very breezy sky.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Food for a Rainy Night

All this cool rainy weather has inspired me to get busy in the kitchen. Earlier in the week I made Crumbly Apple Squares from a recipe in The Clueless Baker. Last night it was finally the right kind of weather to try out the Guiness Braised Chuck Steak with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes recipes from the latest edition of Cooking Light. It was pretty easy to make and a very tasty combination of flavors. For desert I made a red pear and apple crisp (cortlands are the way to go) with a shot of brandy in the topping as suggested in the old, tattered Loaf and Ladle Cookbook I've had forever.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mama is Fighting Everyday

I was looking around on the Japanese McDonald's site for "authentic teaching materials" and came across this page in the "Mama Station" section. You can even download an image file to print out your own t-shirt with the slogan "Mama is Fighting Everyday." The ad copy also refers to children as "little monsters". I mean they are sometimes, but does the concept of McDonald's referring to children as monsters really make Japanese mothers feel like the corporation feels their pain? Sometimes I wonder if raising kids in Japan is really that difficult or if a lot of mothers are just way too uptight about everything.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Change of Seasons

A couple of weeks ago it was in the 80s and didn't really feel like fall all that much. This week it has been rain, rain, rain, damp and chill. In a weird way, I kind of like it. I crocheted a pink and white beanie cap with a lovely pink and white flower for my girl the other night. I also taught her (once again) how to crochet and this time she seems to be taking to it. She wants to make a blanket for the dog. Sounds like a good first project to me.
I've also continued working on the sweater I'm knitting out of merino wool and have re-started (for the third time) a shawl I'm knitting from a lovely alpaca wool I've had sitting in my stash for the past two years.
When I'm not playing with yarn, I seem to be baking. Yesterday I got home from teaching with an hour and a half free before I had to pick up the girl from school. There was a half peck bag of cortland apples on the counter, so I looked through my baking books and decided on the Crumbly Apple Square recipe from The Clueless Baker. Very crumbly and very yummy. I'd like to see if I can come up with something that travels a little better next though.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rainy Weekend

This weekend has been okay. I guess the best part of it is that I don't have to teach tomorrow since it's Columbus Day, which is one of those politically incorrect holidays I would have expected the university to ignore or something. It's been a pretty okay weekend. I had plenty of time to relax and knit (and frog and knit again) and even played bass and jammed with my sister and brother in law. I guess I should be feeling pretty good, but I'm still worrying about the same old crap I always worry about and that includes my friggin neighbor. See, the thing is that her bedroom is directly under my daughter's room and although she has both her daughter and her boyfriend's kids staying there sometimes, the nights the kids aren't staying there and she has noisy sex with her boyfriend is always a night my girl is with me and it always happens right around the time I'm putting my girl to bed. That's not something she needs or wants to be hearing and it makes me feel crappy about living here even though it's a nice enough place and I pay plenty in rent. So tonight, while my daughter was in the bathroom brushing her teeth and I was in her room petting the dog and listening to the neighbor and her moaning, I didn't know what else to do but bang on the floor a few times to see if that would get the point across. It seemed to work. I've got nothing against the neighbor having sex but I don't think my kid should have to listen to it. Funny thing is when there were two young guys in their twenties living down there, both with girlfriends who stayed over regularly, I never had this problem. They'd stay up late drinking and playing loud video games on the weekends once in a while, but at least it didn't sound like the chick from that Duran Duran song down there.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bearish on Tiger

A couple of weeks ago I did something I may not have ever done before. I purchased a system upgrade for my Mac iBook. I had been running OS10.2.8 for a long while now and when my beta version of iChat got all wonky on me I decided to shell out $104 and see what all the Tiger fuss was about.
It looks cool. The widgets are kind of groovy and there is even a sudoku widget that pauses the stopwatch when you leave the widget interface and starts it back up when you resume. I suppose iPhoto and Garageband are better, but I haven't had much time to use them yet.
There are a few things that just out and out piss me off though. First is that I have to manually connect to my wireless connection everytime I startup the machine or wake it up from sleep. My preferences settings are such that it shoudl just find and join the network, but it doesn't. The other annoying thing is that mails sent from one of my non-primary email accounts in Mail automatically get a reply address to my primary account. I don't know why that's happening either. It didn't happen with OS10.2.8.
So, I'm not finding this new OS the most convenient thing to use, but I'll stick with it since I have it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I get the sense that there is some kind of neo-traditional thing going on with young women and their life goals. It makes me re-think the assumptions I grew up with and I like it. A few weeks ago the New York Times published an article about a study that has found that a large percentage of young women who are studying at some Ivy League universities plan to become stay-at-home moms once they have children. I'm sure this has a lot of "Feminists" up in arms but I think it's kind of cool. First of all, the fact that these young women have even thought about their futures to the point of getting married and having children puts them way ahead of where I was at their age. Coming of age in the 80s, I was mostly just thinking about where the next party was and what kind of dumbass thrilling adventure I could find next. Family and children weren't even on the map for me when I was in college. It wasn't cool to be thinking about that kind of thing and even less cool to admit it if you were. Raised with Free to Be You and Me and the whole women's lib movement, it seemed like some kind of betrayal to consider full time domestic committment an option when the Enjoli woman was singing "I can bring home the bacon. Fry it up in a pan. And never let you forget you're a man." We were supposed to go out and conquer the world like our mothers never could since they were supposedly stuck at home tied down by their apron strings.
I've seen this neo-retro attitude closer to home with my own students. Today in class, while practicing conversations about wanting to do things in the future, a student said she wanted to become a housewife. I started to talk with her about it a little because in light of the NYT article I found it interesting to see it might not be just an Ivy League phenomenon. The student told me both her parents work and her mom probably earns more than her dad, but both she and her sister want to stay home with their children when the time comes. I told her I thought that was cool and that it's hard work. I also mentioned that it must drive some of the female professors my age and older a little crazy to hear it. I've heard other students with working moms comment that they spent a lot of time in day care as kids and didn't like it and wished they had been able to spend more time with their moms around.
I realize not every family can afford to have a stay at home mom. Probably most can't. But for me it's nice to see younger people valuing that role. It also makes me feel less guilty for the choices I'm making about my career now and allowing me to realize that my students might actually understand and possibly even respect that I arrange my teaching schedule around my parenting schedule, and not just their convenience. They might find a 2pm class would suit their leisure, but it doesn't fit my life at the moment. Maybe they didn't even care that I dashed out at the end of afternoon classes last year to be able to make it in time to pick up my daughter from school. For so long I had this rule in my mind that said it wasn't professional to appear to have a life outside of my role at work while I was at work. And in my personal life I was encouraged to think that any yearning I had for traditional family roles was backwards and wrong. I still think that people should have a choice, as far as reality will permit it. It's just kind of funny to finally allow myself to consider all the choices as well.

Land Grab

Wednesday is switch-up day, the day my girl goes to stay with her father until the weekend. The routine is that I bring her bag of stuff (mostly stuffed animals) and the dog over to his house in the afternoon before she comes home from school. I haven't been back in the house for months, but even just looking around outside in the yard reminds me how little I understand about the way he judges what is important and what isn't.
The house is older and looks it. There used to be railings up the front stairs and stairs coming down off the small back deck. Now there are rusted off metal stumps where the handrails used to be set into the concrete stairs in front. Out back there is a two and a half foot drop off from the deck, which is missing not only stairs but also a couple of floor boards. The flower beds in the front and on the side of the house have been left to the weeds. In other words, it doesn't look so good.
If the rest of the property was also neglected, that might go along with the general tone of things, but what's odd is that the grass is always cut short and my ex has obviously spent a lot of time and effort clearing away a whole bank of blackberry bushes off one edge of the property and clearing out small trees and brush from the other edges of the yard. He has also moved the dog's house progressively further back in the yard so it is now about as far away from the house as it can be while still being on the property. I'm not really sure what the point is, but if he doesn't want to deal with the dog anymore I'd be more than happy to keep him (the dog) here. In an odd and politically incorrect (because the ex is Japanese) way, it reminds me of Japan in World War 2 when it got all land hungry and was more focused on capturing as much territory as possible than just about anything else. I guess I don't see how it's okay to sacrifice the wellbeing of the home(land) for the sake of claiming more land.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It Comes As No Surprise

You are a

Social Liberal
(65% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(28% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mellow Eclipse

The day is not yet done, but today has seemed pretty mellow for an eclipse day. The general consensus among the astrologers I read seems to be that I (and my fellow Pisceans) are going to be enjoying some good, unexpected financial news. I could really go for that.
Sometimes I feel wound up when eclipses come around. My theory to them, as far as it goes, is that they kick you in the ass to get you back on track if that's what you need, but if things are generally moving in the right direction then they don't cause quite so much chaos. I'm not really sure how much I believe in astrology anymore, but I still like to keep an eye on what the planets are doing, just in case...