Sunday, January 27, 2008

another update

The floor is down!!! It needs to sit for 10 days before they stain and finish it. We also still need to have the ourside door painted (same off-white as the walls) and the interior doors will be stained to match the rest of the trim. I think it's mostly odds and ends that are left now.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Happy happy joy joy!

It looks like I'm going to get to see my bb boyfriend AT HOME this year. Boston, here we come...

I won't go into the absolute pain in the ASS it was to finally get the tickets. But thanks to DH who kept up staring at the multiple browsers in the virtual waiting room after I finished my 6 HOUR session with it, and thanks to awesome friends up in Boston doing the same thing, I think we've ended up with enough tics for three families being able to go and sit semi-near each other. It'll be way way way out in the outfield, but then again, so will he be (hopefully):

It was a nice thing to come home to tonight after 6 hours of talking to Girl Scouts about clouds and weather and using inclinometers to measure the height of something. Me feet were screaming and I was tired of pulling cotton balls into tiny pieces (we were making clouds and they didn't leave us NEARLY enough supplies for the hoards of girl scouts that descended upon us!!!) But I did it for my daughter, and also, I digress. We're talking about my boys.

We also got some tickets for a Friday night game in Baltimore this May. We'll have to pull the kids out of school for that but it's IMPORTANT. Besides, I really really love Camden Yards. What a nice stadium!

Plus, I'm hearing noises about watching the Boys with a generator on the beach up New England-way. (We're up for that, J!!!!) Now THAT would be awesome.

I'm ready for summer. How long??

Sunday, January 20, 2008

what other choice do they have?

How could they NOT make a point of sitting by each other?

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Finally, I get the sense that it is winter here.

We've got a fresh delivery of a cord of good firewood in the shed, a fire in the fireplace, and I'm downing cup after cup of hot vanilla tea. It's all good (about time).

E had a HORRIBLE day yesterday. When moms think of ear infections, they think of little babies and crying and long arduous nights of tylenol and hotpads. Who knew it could get even more heartbreaking as they age? I had a nine year old in tears all night, wailing that she couldn't take the pain any more. Yesterday we made it to the doc but ended up waiting and waiting...and w.a.i.t.i.n.g. at the pharmacy. I think they tried to speed it up because I had a sobbing 9 year old clinging to me and I was obviously in near tears myself, but it still took over an hour. We finally got her on meds, and more tylenol, and after an afternoon and night of sleeping, she's bouncing around and playing in the snow today. Thank goodness, but good lord. I didn't think I was going to survive yesterday without a mommy meltdown. I really hate it when I can't "fix it." It's exhausting being a diety in the eyes of your children, you know?

Note that these pictures were taken from inside the house (it's cold outside!) so if you look too closely you'll see the crosshatch of the screen. That holly tree is my inspiration. A Y-shaped oak tree fell during Hurricane Isabelle and stripped the holly's branches on either side (took out our deck stairs, too). The tree guys didn't think it would survive, but look at it now! We begged our contractor not to cut it down for the addition. It's growing on the side of a fairly steep slope so I live in fear of it toppling over. It's such a nice tree.

I just watched "In the Bedroom," on our plasma (!!). Wow. Excellent, excellent movie. I was surprised at what happened in it - I had no idea what the "tragedy" was that was advertised on the DVD, and probably wouldn't have watched it if I'd known. It ripped me up, but I thought the movie was so good and honest that I forgave it its heartwrenching storyline. I'm wiped out now.

Not much to say - just catching up. I've got a long weekend due to MLK day on Monday, and since my office is clean now, I'll try to write something more inspiring later.

Happy winter.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

sunroom update... (primed and ready to go)

We are almost there!!!! I am so happy with our contractor and with the speed and efficiency with which this is taking place...

Here's a view of the room from the door leading to the deck. The gray (unprimed) part will be a single door (9-panel glass) leading to the playroom. Notice one of the skylights on the ceiling. Thank you Dave for encouraging the skylights. Heaven. I think we are going to stain the wood around the windows (oak stain) rather than paint. We'll do the same with the interior doors. The paint color is a creamy, off-white. (E is very disappointed I didn't go with the fluorescent yellow she picked out.) I need to hold off on color. I can't "feel" the room yet. Gotta live in it a little bit before I know what color it is.

Here is a view looking toward the deck and the kitchen. The ugly red exterior door will become an oak-stain double French door later this week.

And here's the deck. Did I say I love this Oasis composite decking? Our friend was fooled - he thought it was redwood. No maintenance. Oooh.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

back to find myself tagged

I'm home again from Maryland, finally full of some Cabernet, just finished with a rowdy game of Apples to Apples with my sweet E and her friend, and very glad be to finished with my science team meeting up in DC this week. I'm really wanting to write about my feelings about my first science team meeting (as a true PI) but for various reasons am hesitant. Maybe I will write more later. In any case, here I am, fresh out of a 3 day meeting with an intense focus on climate change in the arctic, and the various issues related to pulling off a very huge, multi-agency aircraft field campaign. I'll be in Fairbanks, Alaska for 2 weeks in April, but I think I can get away with not going to Cold Lake, Alberta Canada in July. It's going to be a very VERY busy year for me at work.

Turning to other-life, fellow blogger Coffee tagged me to tell about 7 interesting facts about myself. (Thanks for the call-out, coffee!)

Here goes:

1) I once ended up with an email discussing issues with breastfeeding my daughter being sent to pop-star MeatLoaf. It's a long, convoluted story as to how that happened. (M? Are you cringing right now???) In summary: discussion of difficulties breastfeeding, some internet newbie confusion as to the difference in "bounce" and "return" email commands, BFF with hollywood connections who felt safe sharing emails with me, a big OOPS, MEATLOAF being highly confused, BFF being mortally embarrassed, and myself left wondering how in the HELL all this happened. (LOL!!!!)

2) I saw Newt Gringrich in the Pittsburgh airport once. I had laryngitis. My memory is hazy (due to being quite sick and on meds at the time) but I remember lurching forward with DH grabbing my arm while I (barely) croaked out "NO NO NO!!!" or some other choice words. (Recall that am quite liberal and while I aspire to be understanding and accepting of all, Newt Gingrich is, um... N.O.T. one of my favorite people so I am surprised that I did not implode.) Hmmm. Not sure this is really all that interesting a fact. It's very amusing in my memory, though. The amusing part was the synchronicity of the siting with the laryngitis.

3) When I was in 6th grade, I wrote a story about global warming. (This was - good gosh - 32 years ago???) I'd happened to read or hear some news piece about it. I wrote a story about people fleeing to the mountains as the sea level rose catastrophically. I think I may still have it in a box up in my attic. I think it's absolutely amazing and somewhat magical that after 32 subsequent years of life with all its twists and turns (and not all that much conscious forward planning), that I have ended up in a career studying this exact phenomenon. I think I have ended up where I was meant to be. This is simultaneously THE most comforting and discomforting things ever in my life. Maybe it actually defines my life.

4) I dearly love documentaries. My son shares this passion with me. In just the last two weeks, we have watched documentaries on Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, and the Galapagos Islands together. We love Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. We love the Discovery channel and PBS. The Blockbuster movie rental mail program is one of the best things that ever happened to us. I foresee myself old and in a wheelchair watching documentaries with my grown-up son one day. Geeks rule. But that's because you cannot BEAT learning new things. Really.

5) I had TMJ surgery when I was in college (undergrad). Dentists love to call in their trainees to look at my x-rays with all the brackets and screws. My facial structure after the surgery changed. I remember going back to college a few weeks afterwards. I saw one of my friends as I walked up to my apartment. "Hey, J!!!" he called, then he looked panicked. "I'm sorry," he told me. "I thought you were someone else." I laughed through my teeth (which were locked together at the time). "It's ME!!!!" I said. Or was it? Weird thing, to have your face change.

6) I really only love beaches in the wintertime. I like solitude. Ultimately, I am a very solitary person. I have worked to change this about myself, with moderate success in my everyday persona. But in my heart, I remain in love with being alone. I'm not sure if I'm better described as narcissistic or shy. Does it matter?

7) I did not date during high school. Ever. And despite my feelings at the time that I was doomed to be a complete loser forever, I was not. Yet, I do not know the secret of telling kids/preteens of today that the things they think define them today will not rule them for the rest of their lives. In fact, very little of the rest of their lives are defined by today. In FACT, it doesn't matter a WHIT. Yet, I fear, I will never be able to convince even my own children of this when the time comes. And, I think, THAT is the point. They won't know it until they discover it for themselves. All I can do is offer a non-judgemental smile and open arms when they need them. Kind of like my mommy and daddy did. :-)

8) I've had a very happy life. No complaints. (and I take this as the right to add a number 8 to a list of 7)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

livin' in a material world and I am a material girl

Oh my.

I am really REALLY enjoying our new flat-screen 42" plasma TV. In fact, I went out and rented 4 movies tonight to go along with our pizza and brie and crackers. We don't have full digital cable yet but we are enjoying the high-definition network channels until the full service is hooked up. I have sunk to a new low/high of the "consumer." I feel guilty that I enjoy it so much. But the fact is that I do.

Stardust was a nice, feel-good movie. Just sayin'.

Friday, January 04, 2008

OK, I don't feel so bad anymore...

I've had this conversation with several people, including my email list of moms and several friends. I have always been pessimistic that the emphasis on individual action as a "help" to global warming was in error. Seems like Al Gore agrees with me. :-)

We can do our little parts.

But the real difference comes when governments of people take collective action. Yes.

(I'm feeling justified for my perceived negative comments of the past)

We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer.
They can and do help.
But they will not take us far enough without collective action.

- Al Gore, Nobel Lecture

My new year resolutions: (aka, I am proud to be pollianna)

Happy New Year!
Take my late wishes as evidence of my uniqueness.

I have always loved New Year's as a holiday best. My diaries from younger years are peppered with the "from this day on, I shall..." and "today is the beginning of a new era..." sort of optimistic drivel. New Year's Day is the perfect excuse to open a brand new date book with fresh pressed pages and clean lines and cut the chains of old baggage. It's a pass to throw out past mistakes. What's not to love?

(For whatever reason, this discussion is reminding me of my love of browsing through the Container Store to stock up on paraphernalia to keep me organized, which I also see as my chance for a "fresh start." While I was in San Francisco, I discovered that GC is also a Container Store freak. After our $65 bottle of wine while watching the sun set over the SF bay, we found the nearest Container Store and spent a while oohing and awing over baskets and shoe racks and storage systems. Plus, we picked up their catalogues. I don't know if I'm very comforted or very bothered that we discovered this shared obsession. What does this really SAY about us?)

In any case, as it's the New Year, I've been thinking about my wishes for myself for 2008. They are converging around the subject of judging. Or more accurately, NOT judging.

I really have never been much of a judgmental person, and that is one of my traits that I am actually proud of (I think). Part of the reason I am this way is because I live in total fear of others judging me. I suppose I think that by not looking at other people through judging eyes, I'm somehow increasing the probability that the same courtesy will be given to me, through some cosmic karma I guess (heh, right). Part of it is also because I've made more than a few dumb mistakes in my life, and I am acutely aware that you can be a well-meaning and caring person and still do some dumb things. Most people have some piece of themselves that is genuinely good. You deprive yourself of the opportunity to discover those pieces if you are judgmental. It's very blinding, and ultimately self-depriving.

I've become very aware of how judgmental most of humankind is lately, and it really bums me out. I'm talking everyday sorts of things.

For example, at work, I discovered that a telecon for an aspect of our upcoming mission was happening on Wednesday through co-worker X. X tells me that an email was sent out that did not include me. He was livid for me and told me that the HQ person setting up the list is a b*tch and that I should rake her over the coals for excluding me because "she thinks she knows everything and thinks she is in charge." My experience with HQ person did not give me that impression, but based on the passion spouted by co-worker X, I started to become a little irritated. I resolved, however, to retain my pollianna attitude that HQ person is well-meaning and I ended up having a nice, productive, very humorous correspondence with her about including me on the email list in the future. (Don't know why co-worker has judged her as a b*tch. There must have been some interaction between the two that I don't know about)

Dear neighbor M (whom it seems I've not seen in FOREVER because she is busy with her life, how dare she be) told me once that I was one of the "nicest" people she knows (I don't know if you remember saying that, M, but I do, quite clearly!!! You can't take it back now!). She meant it, of course, as a compliment to me, and she made my head swell to all kinds of sizes for the next several days because I *want* to be nice and see the good in people.

Somewhere on the fringes of "nice," though, there can be an implicit implication of naivete. [I'm speaking generally here. This is not what M least, I don't think so!!!] There's optimism, but then there's realism. While I like to think that I want to see the good in people, I also would like to think I'm not some vapid and shallow smiley-face seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. In the best of all worlds, we can find the real goodness in people and see it, not in a false and rosy world, but see it there shining like a diamond in the rough and tumble of the all the darks and grays of real life.

We are all complicated. Until I know the reasons WHY person A appears to be self-absorbed or WHY person B is irritable, I am premature to dismiss them or judge them. Discussion of other people (gossip) is the lowest form of communication. I just cannot remember where I read this, but I do remember reading somewhere an analysis of conversation that placed discussion of other people as the lowest level, of events/happenings as the second level, and of ideas as the third level. I am blessed to have some wonderful friends who I routinely communicate with on the third level (e.g., hello, Jamies!!! and Mare!!!) (I'm not being exclusive here - just writing off the cuff).

I think that during 2007, I've been tending to move down the scales of conversation. I've been slipping into the easy track of gossip and judging. And that makes me very uncomfortable. That's going to stop in 2008. The person that makes a fau paux in social interaction, may be incredibly shy (like my son) or be so harried and busy that they don't have the time to dissect possible social interpretations. The person that seems overly type-A and rigid may, in fact, lend a valid perception of how something is handled. We miss out on so much when we put on blinders and see the world in black and white. It takes effort to not to overinterpret conversations we have with people or to overinterpret actions of others. There has to be a willingness to apply a liberal dose of forgetting and a lot of stepping back from situations. Perhaps there is some measure of naivete that is necessary, but in this case, it's not true naivete but a carefully chosen one. Perhaps I'm wrong and I'm putting myself in a world of illusion. But it's a world that seems more beautiful to me than one where I end up making judgments about people.

My New Year's resolution is not to let this part of me be eroded away. I'm holding tight to this part of myself.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008