Friday, September 30, 2005

♲ Rogue Recyclers ♲

I try to be good about recycling, just about every Friday a fairly full bin of plastic, glass, and various metal containers, as well as another bin full of paper. The problem is that our recycling pickup seems to have shifted to Thursday.

A few weeks ago, as Celeste and I were hanging out on the porch waiting for Evelin to come home, the recycling truck came barreling up our hill. This didn't surprise me because the road at the bottom of the hill, I think, is the dividing point between the Thursday pickup and the Friday pickup. Heading up our hill made sense as a way for the truck to get out of the neighborhood even if we weren't on the day's route.

But then the truck stopped and grabbed a recycling bin that'd been set out early. I thought it was odd, but it didn't really register.

Earlier this year, our city stopped its curbside recycling program in favor of the county taking over. When the city did things, the trucks were marked as H--- Public Works vehicles. I'd thought the county ones were similarly identified as government vehicles. The one that picked up the bottles and cans that day was emblazoned with the name of a private company.

That's when I started thinking ... maybe that pickup I saw was some unauthorized rogue recycler, looking for bins that'd been set out early and then snagging the recyclables for their own profit/nefarious purpose. (Sometimes my mind runs sets out on odd tangents like this — is it paranoia or just a weird sense of humor?)

Anyway, the idea of rogue recyclers was kind of funny to me ... at least until last week. We had our recycling out Thursday evening, but Friday evening it was still there, untouched. There had been times before when we didn't get a Friday pickup, and we'd just leave it out and it'd get picked up on Saturday. I just figured something had slowed the collectors down and they had to knock off before the route was done. But no pickup came on Saturday, nor on Sunday or Monday (our recycling was back with the trash bins, but some neighbors kept theirs out).

On Monday, Evelin was talking to a neighbor who said the recyclers had come through earlier on Thursday. Hurm, maybe the Thursday crew wasn't a bunch of rouge rogue recyclers.

Yesterday, we set the recycling out early on Thursday. Sure enough, here came the recyclers, who took it all.

This morning, I tried calling the city to see if our pickup day had changed: They said I needed to check with the county. I was on hold with the county for a while, but I had to hang up when a call came in for me. Digging around the county Department of Environmental Resources website, I couldn't find an answer, so I dropped them an e-mail asking if the pickup day had changed or something ... no answer yet, but for the meantime, I think we'll be setting the bottles out early each week.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Two Food Items

First, I need to remember that even if it seems I'm cutting up a lot of okra, it does cook down a bit. I ended up with too much corn and tomato in the okra creole tonight. It was tasty, but could have used more okra in proportion to everything else in it.

Second, Celeste tasted (and loved) a new food today — pawpaw, the fruit of the pawpaw (Asimina triloba) tree. She was a bit grumpy after waking up from her nap so we took a long walk with the goal of ending up at the Riverdale Park farmers market; the walk itself was uneventful, but one of the first things I saw at the market was sign about pawpaws.

I've been interested in pawpaws for a few years now, ever since encountering an article about them in the Post and then ending up making an early-morning run to the Dupont Circle farmers market one Saturday to get a taste of pawpaw before they were all gone. I've flirted with the idea of getting a seedling or three to plant (I really like the idea of edible landscaping), but Evelin's never been too keen on the idea or the fruit for that matter.

Pawpaws, the largest indigenous fruit in North America, are basically a type of custard apple, which is generally a tropical fruit, but pawpaws thrive in temperate zones throughout the U.S. East and Midwest. The few times I've had them, my favorite way to eat one is to just cut it in half and scoop out the ripe flesh — the taste is faintly reminiscent of bananas and guava with a hint of citrus and an almost yoghurt-like texture. It's creamy, a little floral, and tasty.

The stand selling them apparently has a few wild trees on the farm's property and they've entered an agreement with some kids who find and harvest the fruit and the farm sells them, splitting the take with the children. I got a quart box with about six smallish pawpaws for $3.00, which I'd consider a pretty good deal, although I think even the greenest of them will be overripe by the weekend.

I put the cut pawpaw within Celeste's view while she finished up some chunks of sweet potato, and she was definitely wondering what it was. When I gave her a spoonful, she started doing her full-body thump, which we understand to be a sign of approval. I'd cut open the largest of the pawpaws for her thinking she'd only eat half at best. She ate the whole thing (except the bits of pulp I got to nibble from the seeds — pawpaws have big, kidney-shaped seeds).

The real test, however, will be tomorrow. Celeste has been known to be crazy for a food one day (for example, papayas on Tuesday) and then to zero interest the next day or sometimes even the next meal.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

She Can Bark Too ...

Here's the WAV file ... and it's better than her bite. (Those puppy teeth of hers can hurt ...)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Outings With Celeste

Since Celeste has been so good at telling us the noise a lion makes [WAV] (and because the weather was fantastic this afternoon), I decided today was a good day to go to the zoo.

We started off with the Kids' Farm, where she was really into the burros — they were pretty small and close to the fence; she couldn't quite reach them, but she tried. I tried to get her to walk away from the burros a few times, but she kept leading me back to them ... until one of the cows in the field on the opposite side of the path started mooing. Then she wanted to go see what was up. We then headed toward the chicken coop, which held her attention until a few bigger kids walked up.

Next up was Amazonia. I'm not sure Celeste really "got" the big river/aquarium parts of the exhibit, but she did do a lot of staring, particularly at the giant South American river turtles (Podocnemis expansa) and the shovelnose catfish (Sorubin lima). Most interesting, however, were the 9-month-old and her mother that were next to us and the older kids who were running around. When we got up to the rainforest part of the exhibit, she was pretty interested in the dusky titi monkeys (Callicebus moloch) who were perched at just above eye level (when I was holding her) and less than a half meter away.

After Amazonia we took a quick trip past the sloth bears (too far back in the enclosure for Celeste to really see them well) and the sea lion before heading to the lions and tigers. The lions (Panthera leo) — despite Celeste's roaring when prompted — were pretty boring, just laying there asleep. The tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae), however, were much more active: Celeste really took notice when one of them jumped on the other in a bout of play. She also liked the caracal (Caracal caracal).

After a little more wandering around, we headed home ... and, unlike her trip with Evelin and G--- and K--- on Monday to feed ducks at Lake Artemesia, she didn't get stung by a yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons). About that trip, Celeste'd been eating a peach and apparently that attracted the wasp, which ended up stinging her on her lip and hand. Evelin said Celeste cried for about two minutes, and both sting sites were a bit swollen last night, but looked a lot better today. The other funny bit was that Celeste didn't want to share any of the bread with the ducks; most every piece Evelin gave her to throw to the birds, Celeste tried to eat first.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

She Understands More Than She Lets On ...

Celeste is working on a number of sounds, but her vocabulary still seems limited to (da[d]), mʊmʊmɐ (mumma), and dɑɑ (dog). There are some "words" that seem connected with bird and book and a few other things, but dɑɑ remains her signature word. See a dog on the street: "dɑɑ!"; see a picture of a dog: "dɑɑ!"; hear a dog barking: sometimes "dɑɑ!"; other times a sort of squeaky little chirp. Turns out, that little squeak is her barking.

Evelin discovered the other day that if you ask Celeste what a dog says she makes that little squeak-bark. Today, I asked her what a lion says and she gave a big growl, the same as she does on the "too fierce" page of Dear Zoo.

She can point to other people's nose or ears (she's less certain about her own), but she can point to both her own bellybutton and to mine. Also, she is following some directions, including fairly complicated things like "go over to the couch and pull yourself up."

"Don't throw your food," however, seems to be a sentence she cannot understand no matter how often we repeat it ...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Maryland Mantid

Maryland Mantid

After cleaning the gutters, I was going to install some screening over them in hopes of making this autumn a little less gutter-clogging when I realized I needed some clips. After discovering that Home Depot didn't have the clips (even though they sold the screens), I came home to find this praying mantid (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) on the porch handrail. I can't say for sure, but I'd guess it's one of the ones from the egg sacs I set out back in May.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Home Sweet Home

After a few days in Philly, I'm back home. Evelin and Celeste made it back yesterday. We're all glad to be back here. (There was some miscommunication about this trip, however; until the day before we headed up to New England, I thought Evelin and Celeste were going to time their return so that they could pick me up in Philadelphia this morning once I was done with my work. Evelin thought I was taking the train back. Instead, I was able to catch a ride with L---, who'd also driven me up there. It worked out, but I'm glad we discovered the problem before I found myself hitching my way south on I-95 ...)

Celeste was napping when L--- dropped me off at home, so Evelin and I had a little while to chat and for me to finish unloading the T.R.U.C.K. for her. When Celeste did wake, I went up to see her and the first thing she said was "!" She knows just the right strings to yank.

She is doing some pretty cool stuff. She's figured out how to pull herself from a sitting position to a standing one using first the rails on her crib and then the sofa. She will try to do it if we ask her to, but quickly dissolves into tears if she slips or has any difficulty. Turn your back, however, and she manages it without a peep. The cruising is getting more adventurous, using walls and other flat surfaces to walk along instead of just things she can grab. She can also point to her bellybutton and to my nose. She also started trying to bite my nose as part of saying where it is.

This afternoon the three of us went to the neighborhood playground and, after the first trip on the swings, while Celeste was walking around and a 5-year-old, F---, was talking our ears off, Evelin and I noticed a large plane climbing from a different-than-the-usual-flight-paths angle. It was big and I was pretty sure it was a Boeing 747, and consider that the direction it was coming from was likely Andrews Air Force Base and what I could make out of the livery, I'm pretty sure it was Air Force One (or maybe Two). The timing works with Bush's travel schedule for the weekend.

Back to Philadelphia

The Philly trip, despite my a bit overblown reaction to the convention's keynote address, was pretty good. None of the computer problems of two years ago, and I was in a nicer hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn Center City) that had free broadband that worked even with the old Gateway I was travelling with.

And, once the Friday issue was to bed and we'd made our run to the printer for the soft proof, I got to have a nice dinner at Portofino the night it reopened after being closed for a while for renovations. I had a fantastic ribbon pasta with wild mushrooms and vegetables tossed with white truffle oil and I can't remember what else. It was very tasty, and it really made up for having grabbed dinner at Wawa the previous two nights.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Seth Godin is a Git ...

Veering a little too close to work territory, but I'm doing that tradeshow contract publishing thing at the moment and was a bit startled to hear my name said from the podium during the Keynote Address. A while back, while working on the first day's newspaper (we preprint that issue ahead of the show), I sent an e-mail to marketer Seth Godin asking about his planned topic for the address would be, seeking some insight for a short preview article.

Since I was doing this at 4:00 a.m. and couldn't just place a phone call, I was reading through his official bio, some book excerpts, and I spent a little time drilling through his blogs to see what he'd said about radio (the theme for the convention). There were a few complimentary things about the medium, but there were some harsh words, too. I e-mailed him asking about some of his past books and how his proposals in them and in the blog entries might apply to what he would tell broadcasters. I figured this could be a starting point for a conversation/interview, but the only reply I received was: "Wow, that's some good research. I agree with everything I said!" I tried to follow-up with him, but no further response was forthcoming. The preview article turned out to be a short little thing that a tip-on advert was placed pretty much right on top of.

So it was a bit of a surprise to hear Godin say at the start of his keynote:
Now, I was a little hesitant about coming here today, because I got an e-mail from Carter Ross [organizational affiliation removed] that said: "I've been looking at all the stuff you've been writing for the past five years" (which always makes me nervous) and he says "this is what you said about radio ..."
and at this point he puts up some of the quotes from his blog that I'd dug up, followed by a line attributed to me: "What can you possibly say that won't get you booed out of the hall." After I got over the initial mortification, I got a bit irked because, first, I didn't approach him in such a hostile manner at all; second, I didn't say/write any of the things he said I did; and, third, how was it going to seem for my byline to be on the coverage of his address.

In the end, space was so tight that the printed version of the story glossed over his setup to just get to the meat of his comments to broadcasters (which, to tell the truth, sounded like they could have applied to most any industry — the quotes of his that I dug up for him were some of the only bits tailored specifically toward radio), but still ... grrrrrrrrrrr.

My bosses thought it was pretty funny, as did my contact with the client, but I haven't heard whether or not higher ups at the client organziation were irked (or if I'm the only one obsessed about it).

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sinse It Be Tawk Like Aye Pyrite Deh ...

My pirate name is:

Iron Harry Rackham

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Every September 19th, Arrrgh

A Bunch of Change

It's been suggested that I should change the title of this blog as while there may be a few changes yet to be made at least one major change has occurred (and a second on its way). I'm not 100% there on a name change yet, but it's under consideration.

But that's not the change I'm thinking of right now. When Celeste was born, one of her first presents was a cute piggybank. I dutifully dropped each day's spare change into it and it soon filled to the point where I had trouble getting the change out. So, I emptied the pig into a sandwich bag, which later became two sandwich bags, which later became a freezer bag.

Today, I brought the big bag of change with me to work to see if one of the Chevy Chase Bank branches near my office had a Change Express machine up and running. (The branch closest to our house doesn't have one yet.)

After waiting for two little girls to run through the change their mother brought in, I started dropping in my coins. The older of the girls quickly ran over to start offering tips and pointers. (Her mom asked if I minded; I didn't, it was pretty funny.)

All in all, I had $374.62 in coins, as well as a few parking-lot pennies that were too damaged for the machine to read and a 20p coin that it wouldn't take. There also were $41.00 in bills in the bag, giving Celeste a grand total of $415.00 for her 529 account. (I'm tossing the 62¢ back into the bag for the next coin run, which could be soon if I take in all those pennies I rolled years ago but did nothing with ...)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Riding the Rails

We got an early start on the morning, leaving Evelin's parent's house around 7:00 a.m. (Celeste had been up since a little before 6:00 a.m. anyway) to get me to the Springfield train station for 9:05 a.m.

When we were figuring out this trip, I wanted to come up to help make the drive easier for Evelin and Celeste and so I could get to a game at Fenway, but I couldn't take the week off like Evelin was. So the first option was looking for flights. There were some options but they would all have meant either spending a chunk or having someone run me in to Logan (BOS) or Manchester (MHT) pretty early on Sunday. Then I remembered the train.

[ASIDE: As I was typing this, we passed alongside the Windsor Locks canal, following it down to the Connecticut River. It was pretty cool ...]

It's sort of sad that Amtrak, even along the East Coast where some of its best (at least in terms of profitability) routes are, was an afterthought, but the only time I've done a Massachusetts-to-D.C. train trip, it just dinna seem to have been a good time:cost ratio. That was while Evelin as getting her Master's and I was telecommuting from Northampton; I needed to get back to the office for a week and I thought I'd give the train a go. It worked in part because The Vermonter ran from where we were in the Pioneer Valley straight to D.C., but it was a long day on the train and the price wasn't better than driving (although it may have beaten flying; I don't remember what it was costing to go from Bradley (BDL) to National (DCA) at the time).

Anyway, looking to cause the least disruption for anyone, I found a rail itinerary that took me from Worchester to Springfield to D.C. It would have meant getting in to D.C. fairly late (around 11:00 p.m.), but I didn't think that would be too bad.

Evelin then suggested I look at departures from Springfield. She figured she and Celeste could drop me off at the train and then continue on to visit K--- and T--- in Easthampton. It would mean a different route to Easthampton than she would normally take (the Mass Pike, instead of Route 2), but it wouldn't really be too much out of the way and the higher speed roads would make up any difference in travel distance vs. travel time.

That led us to the 145 Regional train, which worked out pretty well for getting me home (mid-afternoon, instead of late night). The only problem seems to be that when Evelin and Celeste got to K--- and T---'s house ... no-one was there. Hopefully, they were just out to breakfast and were late getting home/Evelin got there earlier than expected. The other possibility is that K--- went into labor and they're at the hospital or something, which in a way would be funny as they were down visiting us the weekend Celeste was born. [After typing this, we pulled into Hartford and I called Evelin; K--- and T--- were home and the baby is still prepartum ...]

A While Later, in Bridgeport, Connecticut ...

One realization about train vs. plane, you have more room in general in coach on a train, but the seatbacks ahead of the jerk ahead of you still tilts way too far back. I guess it's a limit of engineering, or the transit companies don't want to change the tilt of seats, but it's so annoying for someone to just slam their seat back as far as possible without any regard for the space of the person behind them.

And Still Later, After a Layover in New York ...

I doubt the train I took this way back in the mid/late 1990s ran on a different route, but I don't remember the approach to New York being so interesting. The rails gave a good view of LaGuardia (LGA) with planes coming in and out, as well as some interesting industrial and residential places from Stamford into the Five Boroughs. The actual dip underground to head to Penn Station and the rest of the tunnel journey to New Jersey was nothing special, or at least it was mostly dark, but up to that point had some nice views.

One limit I've found to working on the train is that, since I'm using the old Gateway (Evelin's university-surplus computer) that has a bum battery, when the power on the train fluctuates the computer kicks off. At Newport, Connecticut, the locomotive was switched from a diesel one to an electric one and the train was depowered for that changeover, and at least once on the journey we had a point where the train switched power grids or something and there was a flicker of the lights and the computer shut off. Still, with frequent saves, I guess blogging the trip remains possible, but it hasn't been too conducive to getting much real work done ...

And Still Later, Between Wilmington and Baltimore ...

I just looked up from blogging to see that we were running along next to a nice body of water. I guess it was a finger of the Chesapeake, which means I wasn't looking out the window when we crossed the Susquehanna, unfortunately. Wait ... I blogged too soon, there was the crossing of the mouth of the Susquehanna where it feeds into the Chesapeake. I don't particularly know why, but I like that view ...

And Finally Home ...

It worked out pretty good overall. I was at BWI a little past 3:30 p.m. We'd dropped a car at the parking garage there — it was $1 more per day than satellite parking, but it kept me from having to catch the shuttle bus to the terminal followed by catching a shuttle bus to satellite parking; plus it was easier for me to drop the car there and to walk out to where Evelin and Celeste were waiting — so I able to get home pretty quickly.

I'm not sure the train would be the best way to, for example, travel to Louisiana to visit my folks (it's a two-day trip via Chicago or 25 hours or so via Atlanta), especially with a little one or two, but maybe these sorts of three-drive-up-two-drive-back trips it seems to work pretty well ...

Among the Faithful

That rocked. Not only was it my first game ever at Fenway, but I got to see Bronson Arroyo pitch his good stuff and I got to hear them play " Dirty Water" after a 2–1 win that was more exciting than it should have been at moments.

At one point in the 6th inning, after a double play helped get Bronson out of the jam he'd created, I turned to R--- to say that it's even more anxiety inducing in person than on TV.

Rewind a bit. Earlier in the Summer, my father-in-law, R---, and I were talking Sawx and he discovered that I'd never seen a game at Fenway. So he said I should find a date that I could come up and he'd score some tickets. Evelin and I compared schedules, consulted Celeste, and the 17th proved to be the weekend that best coincided with her being able to take some time to visit friends and family while the Sox were playing at home.

Adding to the fun: The game that night was against the A's and was certain to have some meaning in terms of wild card and/or division races. Well, with the Sox being just 112 up on the Hated Yankees (and they won earlier that afternoon) and with the A's threatening against the Angels, well, it was a game that both sides would have liked to have one.

Evelin and I had an uneventful drive up that started earlier than desired: Celeste woke at 4:30 a.m. or so and was ready to be up for the day, so were on the road before 6:00 a.m. Celeste did really well on the trip, only having two fussy spats, and she even took a decent (albeit too short) nap.

After spending some time visiting with Celeste's grandparents and her Uncle G---, Celeste and I took a little nap and it was time to head out to the Fens.

R---'s plan was to park at the Riverside T station and to ride in to Kenmore Square from them. It would have worked perfectly, except there was a Boston College football game starting at about the same time as the Red Sox game, so the T station was wickid crowded. We managed to squeeze on to a two-car trolley and made it to Kenmore with an hour or so to spare, so we grabbed a beer and a bite at the Pizzeria Uno just outside the park before heading in in time for the first pitch.

The game itself was fantastic. Harren had trouble in the 1st, leading to the Sox's first run of the night. Bronson made it though the 3rd — 1–2–3 — retiring the side in order.

There were some heart-stopping moments, and it would have been fantastic if Tek had gotten his second career grand slam when he came up with the bases loaded in the first (instead he struck out to end the inning), but there were some fantastic plays including Cora starting two 4–6–3 double plays and a fantastic diving catch, roll to his feet and throw while falling back by Cora for the force out at first.

Plus, I got to watch Papelbon do his magic; Timlin had a fantastic eight-pitch 9th inning for the save; Youklis made an appearance at the plate in an effort to bluff the A's into not intentionally walking Manny. Oh, and Manny sent one up over the Green Monsta for what proved to be the winning run. Jay Payton got himself booed lustily every time he came to bat, and when Big Papi came up the crowd was chanting "M–P–V."

What a night. After Timlin got the last strike, R--- and I just stood around soaking up the atmosphere. We walked down to the field so I could touch the dugout roof, and R--- told me about when he was in Little League and got to go into the Red Sox dugout to meet Ted Williams and the rest of the team.

Once we finally made it home, I know I fell asleep with a huge grin ... and it was still there when Celeste started crying in the morning ...

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's A...

...bout 10 weeks along. After a bad three-week period of 過労死, I left things at work 95% finished and the rest in capable hands for today so that I could go with Evelin to the midwifes' and to get a haircut.

I mentioned how I feel a bit disconnected from this pregnancy right now, in large part because it's been such a "normal" experience as opposed to the "medicalized" experience of the fertility clinic followed by the combination of a traditional OB/GYN practice and a perinatologist before shifting over to the midwifes. Part of that has been way fewer appointments; in fact, outside of Evelin's bloodwork a few weeks ago, this was the first real appointment.

I didn't get to spend much time in the exam room, Celeste needed some attention and getting her away from Evelin helped make the appointment go more smoothly. Also, because things were running late, instead of all three of us going for the sonogram, Celeste and I dropped Evelin off and ran to the grocery store to cobble together a snack/prelunch for her from the salad bar — garbanzos, kidney beans, peas, cucumber slices, mushroom slices, and a thing of mango chunks, along with some fresh water.

When we finally met back up with Evelin, she had two grainy pictures, a heartbeat of 172 bpm, and a date of about 10 weeks, which is about what she'd guessed, so we are on track for a due date in mid-April (my father suggested the name Iris if this one is a girl) or, if this one follows Celeste's lead, maybe mid-March ...

There's nothing exciting to say about the haircut; it was the typical affair — long, long overdue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sleepless in the Lobby

Urgh, finally I can get into my office. I was tossing and turning, so Evelin gently suggested I go read or something. Instead, even though it wasn't yet 2:00 a.m., I decided to head into the office. Delays with a contract publishing gig bollixed up my normal magazine's schedule by a week or so, and the hope is that putting in a superlong day today will get things back where they're supposed to be.

However, when I got in to the building, one elevator was stuck on 4; the other on G.

It's an old building with elevators that are probably well beyond their expected time of service. I haven't been stuck in one, although a colleague or two has, but I have had them misalign with the floor I'm getting off on by up to a foot before. But at this point, I dinna know if the elevators were broken or if S---, the overnight maintenance guy, had them stuck on certain floors for a reason (that sometimes happens).

Since I'm the only one who seems to come in when he's there in the middle of the night, S--- and I have a system: I bang on an elevator door whenever I hear a vacuum pass nearby the shaft, and he tried to keep an eye out for my car.

Of course, this morning, I was in the T.R.U.C.K. because it needed an oil change. And S--- wasn't in control of the elevators. After about 35 minutes, I heard a banging on the outside lobby doors, it was S--- checking to see if it was me who was hitting the elevator doors. Turns out both lifts were stuck, and he didn't recognize the T.R.U.C.K., otherwise he would have been able to let me into the stairwell earlier ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Staying Up Late ...

... like until 8:30 p.m. Last night, I glanced at the clock and realized it was about 9:30 p.m. I'd been up since the alarm went off around 2:48 a.m., and Evelin — tired from being pregnant, sleep deprived because of teething demands, and generally needing more sleep than she's getting — had been in bed for at least an hour.

Earlier in the evening, I'd commented that being up at 8:00 p.m. nowadays was comparable to 10:30 p.m. or so in our pre-Celeste days. Evelin would be on her way to bed more often than not; I'd be finishing something up — the dishes, a TV show, something on the computer, a bottle of scotch, the newspaper, whatever — and then following her to sleep. Sometimes, however, I'd get distracted and find myself up for another hour or two, maybe even falling asleep on the couch for a while, before sheepishly heading up to bed.

Nowadays, shift everything ahead three to five hours and that's the routine. To find myself reading newspapers/blogs/whatever online at 9:15 p.m. elicits the same "oh shit I have to go to work in the morning" feeling that used to be reserved for finding myself awake at 1:30 a.m. ...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Mish-Mash of Things

First off, some more Celeste-related gerunds

Sleeping ... Celeste has managed three sleep-through-the-night nights thus far. That's the good news. The bad news is that each of those good nights was followed immediately by a terrible, wake-up-every-hour night. I don't know if there's a connection. (And Sunday night, it could well be that the cake had more to do with her frequent wakings than her sleeping through the night before.)

Cruising ... This afternoon, being quite brave, Celeste cruised off the couch on to my shoulder and around my back. I was reading to her from Babar's Museum of Art, and she was trying to get at the book some while also moving around. It was a pretty good bit of cruising.

Walking ... On the walking front, she's doing equally well while holding our fingers, but is starting to get a little more brave. She'll (reluctantly) walk short distances holding only one hand now, and last week, she let go of Evelin's hands to stop and clap for a moment before grabbing back on to walk again.

Eating ... New foods for Celeste include black-eyed peas (not a favorite, but not immediately tossed aside), and Pete's sesame-ginger tofu2go (again, not a fave, but not an immediate reject). Current favorites (may well change tomorrow): mango, grapes, and Land O Lakes American cheese slices. I feel bad about giving her the later, but she loves them and comes pretty close to signing CHEESE for it. I've also fed her some manchego cheese, and she seems to like that, but not as much as the plastic-wrapped stuff.

Weighing ... 20 pounds, 6 ounces — as of today's 12-month checkup. She was also measuring 29 14 inches long. Which brings me to ...

Facing ... forward, that is, and she has been since Montana, actually. The rule is 1-year-old and 20 pounds before the carseat turns, but we figured she was running near, if not over, the weight guideline and Montana was only a few weeks shy of 12 months. Thankfully, nothing bad happened, but we justified the early turning by feeling she might travel better facing forward in the rental car/strange place/etc. and then, when we got back to D.C., it just made sense to keep her facing forward instead of setting up the seat facing backwards only to turn it two weeks later.

Moving on from gerunds to random paragraphs of stuff ...

• The last of my kinfolk from New Orleans has been accounted for to the best of my knowledge, and it seems like everyone was lucky enough to make it out. (Blegging ... There's a link to donate to the Red Cross there at the top of my sidebar, as well as a link to offer housing for those displaced by the catastrophe.)

• The D²/F² is finally over. The new (undamaged) dishwasher arrived this afternoon soon after I got home and Evelin headed off to work. We haven't put it through a cycle yet to make sure there's not some hitch, but, in general, it's nice to have closure on that ...

• Oh, and Evelin's pregnant again. I just "un-drafted" the post about that because the proper familial folk have been notified (and at least one of them has started spreading it around).

A million-and-one caveats because things are early yet (9 weeks or so at the furthest, we guess) and, given our history, anything could happen. Plus, since our recent conception/pregnancy experiences have all been pretty medicalized affairs since day three, things feel a little out of sorts at the moment. With Celeste, we had a lot more information at this point in time; right now, we have a positive HPT and one rather high β-hCG. Due date: April? May?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Cake is Good!

Cake is Good!

Celeste enjoyed her party, I'd say. She had two cousins about six months older than her on hand, and a bunch of adults, as well as a lot of presents. But the best bit was the cupcake she had all to herself ...

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's One!

The First Year of Celeste

Saturday, September 03, 2005

My Folk's House (Post Katrina)

Hurricane Katrina fells oakHurricane Katrina fells oakThe oak

A friend of my folks who has power and connectivity forwarded these photos of the damage. It's worse than my mother made it sound, but it's nothing that can't be fixed (and my mom is already sketching plans for how she might arrange things differently — maybe french doors from that part of the house down to the patio/deck).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy

Nothing much to say right now. I'm trying to make a dent in some of the work that piled up this week when I wasn't able to focus on things too much. That's one of the busys. The other is the phone lines to Louisiana. Since Wednesday, I've been able to be in touch with my folks at least once or thrice a day; so far today all I've gotten is busy signals or "Due to the hurricane in the area you are calling, your call cannot be completed at this time; please try your call later" or "All circuits are busy; please try your call later" messages.

I did hear from my brother when he got to Meridian, Mississippi. He said gasoline is in short supply throughout the travel areas to/from Hammond and there are definite problems with panic buying in places. The big concern is that he would be able to find gas to make it all the way home to Atlanta, but, based on reports to sites like there are stations along I-20/I-59 that are selling fuel still.

A--- said that while things were bad in Hammond, the parishes to the east, Washington, St. Tammany, were still an unknown. Little communication is trickling out and with all eyes on the mess that New Orleans has become, even the few voices that are popping up aren't being heard. With all the infrastructure damage, it'll be weeks to months before some places will have electricity back — and probably twice that long before we really find out what recovery and rebuilding will entail.

My father, looking on the bright side of things, was telling me how bright the stars were on Tuesday night — and how, when the lights came back on in part of the west side of town, the light pollution really dimmed things.

My mom said that the portion of the tree that clipped the house was 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) in circumference. It was one of those oaks whose trunk twins and it was the larger of the trunks that fell. The base of the tree was something like 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) in circumference. The fallen bit stretched from the base of the oak in the backyard all the way to the lamppost in the front yard. They were able to get someone out to drop the tree off the house and to cut things up. I don't know if all the big bits have been carted away yet or not, and I think something still needs to be done with the part of the tree that's standing. And then there are all the trees that are down but not on the house ...

Right now, I wish there was more I could do. Part of it is survivor's guilt; part of it is rage at the looting and lawlessness; part of it is distress at the slow and ineffective response from the national government. And though it all, I feel hapless and helpless.

Celeste's birthday is Sunday. My folks were supposed to be up here last night. Evelin's parents are flying in today. When my mom called on Monday to say they weren't going to make it (Katrina had yet to really hit, but the tree had already damaged the house), I got a webcam to see if I could set up some sort of birthday party stream so they could still participate in the party — in light of what all's happened, that just feels a bit stupid now. Plus, I couldn't get the network to recognize the damn thing yesterday. Such a small problem, really.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Uhm ...

With all the excitement going on back in Louisiana, I guess there's really no good way to put this (and, to tell the truth, I'm not 100% sure what it means yet), but ... Evelin had a β-hCG draw yesterday and the results are 142,818. Zoiks!