September 26, 2003

Preparations for Kansas

My goodness, so much to do and I've barely even started! Washing is still getting done, dinner dishes not put away, bills not yet paid, books to put in the book journal, etc. Plus we had a little emergency tonight--Jonathan threw up at dinner. First time! Not exactly what I needed when I was eating too. He threw up again about 15 minutes later, but that time we made it to the toilet. Ugh. The things one must do as a mummy. Hopefully it's just a little bug that is now out of his system.

I also had to troll through our friends since both my cousins who live in town and had said they would take me & Jonathan to the airport ended up ditching me--Jfer for Seaworld Tri (I would have ditched me too) and Matthew to make a trip to Katy to get some soccer equipment for a game on Sunday afternoon. I tried many of our other friends and our neighbor, but they were all busy. Then I checked out cabs & the SuperShuttle, but those require you to provide your own car seat. Finally a friend of Dale's whom I helped rescue from the rain when she & Dale were on a long bike ride two weeks ago said she could take me out--although we have to move Jonathan's car seat into her car since she can't drive a stick. No big deal, I'm just thankful we've got a ride!

Okay, guess I should get started so I can sleep at some point. I may not post much while in Kansas, but Jonathan & I return on 10th October.

Posted by elizabeth at 08:22 PM | Comments (4)

September 25, 2003

Quality of Life and Window Screens

Within the last month of so I've improved my quality of life greatly--I removed almost all the childproof cabinet locks (should have done that over a year ago--it's so wonderful to be able to just open a door), and I have taken off the window screens in the kitchen, breakfast area, lounge/den, guest room, and Jonathan's room. Now I can see colors! So much more light comes in, and the colors of all my flowers (snapdragons, dipladenia/mandevilla, miniature roses, alyssum, asters, geraniums, pentas) are true and beautiful. I had a crystal hanging in the guest room but it never made rainbows b/c of the filtering properties of the screens . . . now I have rainbows. On the Girls' Weekend I found a nice crystal for Jonathan's room (which had felt rather like a cave to me before, since it never seemed to be light in there even at 2 p.m.), and yesterday we put it up--rainbows everywhere. He was delighted.

I did have to leave up the window screen looking straight out into the back garden, as otherwise the room would become unbearably hot, but hopefully by the end of October I can take that one off for the winter. I didn't realize it would make such a difference having those off.

BTW, my manicure/pedicure was lovely yesterday. I think my favorite part of the pedicure is where you get the salts rubbed all over your feet and calves--everything tingles, it's incredible.

Posted by elizabeth at 09:14 AM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2003

Shopping and Just Rewards

While Jonathan was at lunch bunch today, I fulfilled a promise made this last weekend to my Auntie Rita and went down south to the Nordstrom's at Barton Creek Mall, where I acquired a free Danskin 2003 triathlon memory book for myself and one for Jennifer. I also looked around in at least three stores for something to wear to Grama Sprong's memorial service, but rather like Jfer's freakishly long femur, my arms appear to be freakishly short! I don't remember having that problem before. Maybe they've shrunk since I've become a mother. I found a couple of very nice outfits that fit perfectly except for the sleeves being just too long; I looked like a 5-yr-old playing dress-up. I did manage to get a whole bunch of stuff for Jonathan though, and nearly everything was on sale. He's grown so much this year that none of his things from last winter are going to fit him--the sweatpants come halfway up his calves, and the sleeves on the shirts are all way too short and tight in the chest.

So, as my reward for shopping and as a general relaxing technique and finally just because I deserve it, tomorrow morning I am indulging in a full manicure and pedicure at the Anne Kelso Salon & Day Spa. May I say that I am looking forward to it greatly.

Posted by elizabeth at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2003

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

September doesn't seem to have been a good month for most of our blogs--must be we're all weary from the end of summer. I for one hope to do better from now on, although it will be difficult since dealing with the Internet from the farm is challenging (my connection gets dropped constantly--must be why Mom's entries are always so succinct!). Jonathan and I leave for two weeks at Mom & Dad's this Saturday, and what glorious weather we should have! Lows are expected to be in the forties, and highs in the sixties. Heaven.

I spent last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday working like a dog in my garden, and then it all paid off this weekend when both Kathleen and Ann Gavin (here for the Girls' Weekend) gave unsolicited praise to how nice it looked. Today, however, I think it's all caught up with me. I took Jonathan to his "school" and was back here just before 9:30 a.m.; by 10 o'clock I was asleep in bed, and I did not get up until 1 p.m. And I was still tired! I had to pick up Jonathan at 2 p.m., and we went to a toy store to play a bit, until I had to go home to . . . sleep some more. Grabbed another hour or so while he watched a TV program and played with his trains. And now, at 11:30 p.m., I'm tired again and on my way to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be more alert.

Posted by elizabeth at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

A Special Experience

I spent most of today gardening--spent far too much time (and money!) in a nursery on account of a coupon in the mail for a free 4" pot of mums, normally $1.99 (boy they got me good!). My friend Jessica tells me to regard it as an investment in the house. Hopefully the deer won't eat too much of my "investment" tonight (I have to leave things I want to plant in the front out in their pots for a few days to see what's going to get eaten--right now I have some portulaca and pentas recuperating in the back from the ravages of the deer).

Anyway, much time was spent pulling dead leaves off geraniums, weeding the vegetable garden, sweeping up sunflower shells from the birdfeeder, etc. I also mowed the front lawn, but before I did the back I did yet more work--more weed-pulling, cutting back the Texas sage, and cutting off suckers from the yaupon holly and the abelia to clear space around the birdbath and the wind chimes Mom gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago.

To do the area around the wind chimes, I had to bend over to get underneath some branches, and when I was done I backed up a couple of steps and then started to stand up. I should have taken one more step before I backed up as when I straightened I nearly hit a branch of the holly above me. As I stood up and had to duck again suddenly, I said, "Whoa!", and then jumped back as I could see there was something on the holly branch--and given some of the things I've seen in my back yard (opossum, skunk, raccoon, etc.), I moved quickly.

Once I'd straighened up and taken a closer look, I could see it was a house finch (female). It was a beautiful bird, all her feathers in lovely condition. My face was not more than 12 inches from her body, and yet she did not even twitch. I stood and talked to her for close to five minutes, and Jonathan even came from the deck and had a look at her--still she stayed there. I put my finger up to her feet (was tempted to try to scratch her head as I used to do with the cockatiels at Brian & Joy's, but I didn't) and she didn't move a muscle. I was rather awed that this beautiful wild bird stayed so close to me for so long. Even when I started up the lawnmower she didn't fly away but remained on the branch for as long as I could see her.

Finally I had to go to the other end of the back garden to mow, and when I came back she was gone. But that experience made my exhaustion this evening (I haven't even opened up my family history software tonight) well worth it.

Posted by elizabeth at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

Moral Test, Flawed

I read about a research project at Harvard that claims to be exploring the basis for ethical judgments across different cultures in today's Houston Chronicle. I went to the site and took the test, and I have the following observations:

--rather than taking about 10 minutes to take, I spent maybe five on the four questions offered, although I guess I might have spent another couple of minutes filling out the introductory data gathering
--if you go further into the site and visit the page that discusses their research in a little more detail, you will find that they have already arrived at a conclusion and are simply seeking data to support it. How unscientific is that? Particularly when they offer this only in English at the moment? For a "study" that purports to be cross-cultural, that's a pretty big omission. And when I went to school, drawing a conclusion (they specifically state, "We believe this hyper rational, culturally-specific view is no longer tenable. The MST has been designed to show why and offer an alternative" before gathering one's evidence was considered a no-no. Hard to believe this comes from such a reknowned institution as Harvard.
--finally, I thought the questions/situations were pretty obvious, whereas the Houston Chronicle said "there are some difficult decisions to make"--if anyone finds themselves in a dilemma as to any of the scenarios and which ones, I'm interested to hear about it

Posted by elizabeth at 11:41 PM | Comments (2)


I read a fascinating article in the 1 Sep 2003 issue of The New Yorker last night. It's titled "City of Water", written by David Grann, and is all about New York City's water supply, and the "sandhogs" who build the tunnels. There are two pictures, one current and one from 1910, that are pretty neat to see. If the issue is still on newstands, it's worth picking to read this article. I think this country (as well as most other industrialized countries, probably) will have some serious reckoning to do in the next 50 years or so to update its infrastructure, not just with water but with electricity and other services that we tend to never think about but that are all aging day by day.

It was quite fun being part of Matthew's entourage as he moved into his dorm room. Probably a good experience for him too, in discovering that one can't always pick the members of one's entourage! It certainly brings back the memories and it's rather astonishing to me that it was 15 years ago that I was doing the same thing. I'm glad that I realized even at the time what a wonderful and special time it was, being at college. What a blast! I am resisting the urge to say hello every time I see Matthew or Courtney come online on IM; I figure another week or so and Matthew will be happy to come for food cooked on a small scale. Particularly since Jonathan thinks he's spectacular. It's hard to resist unconditional adoration.

Speaking of cousins, if you haven't checked your e-mail, Karl women, the first Girls' Weekend in Austin is scheduled for 19-21 Sep. No matter who else comes, at least Courtney & Kathleen will be here. I am so tickled to have achieved a relationship with Courtney & Matthew all by myself, rather than as one of the Karl herd. I remember hearing one time upon a proposed trip to Austin that one of them wanted to know if the "cool cousin" was going to be there--and it wasn't me, I can tell you that, but someone whose name begins with "J". Since I've had Jonathan and have visited John & Kathleen's house with him, I've learned to be friends with them, and I love it.

I learned a revolting roach fact today from our pest control service: once a female roach has mated once, she can lay eggs the rest of her life without having to mate again. That's just horrible.

I am looking forward greatly to having Daddy here--he arrives on Friday, and Jonathan and I get to pick him up from the airport. On Saturday we head to Houston for the Cinco Ranch triathlon, and then we'll be back on Sunday evening so that Jonathan will make his "school" on Monday. I have all sorts of plans--coupon at Borders (my dad's always good for a bookstore), getting the calamari at P.F. Chang's (Stepan introduced me to it and it's far and away the best I've had, and it's one of Dad's favorites), see Jonathan order him around , etc. Unfortunately I also have a million things I'd like to do before his arrival, but I think I'll be able to accomplish maybe 30% of them. We'll see. Last time he came by himself he drove, and when he arrived at the house and we took his stuff back to the guest room, he looked at the candle I'd lit in there for his arrival and said, with a worried expression on his face, "You know Mother's not coming with me, don't you?" I told him he was deserving of candles too. But I guess that probably means he doesn't care if I don't wipe down my refrigerator shelves before he comes either.

I am very disappointed (to put it lightly) with the state of things in Iraq. Before we went to war, I did not believe George Bush's case, but I thought that if Tony Blair was going for it then he must have access to compelling information that I didn't, and I thought he was much more trustworthy than Bush, so I was cautiously optimistic that there was a possibility that attack was justified (NOT indicating support of it, just saying I allowed the possibility that it might have been right). But always I felt that there was not enough evidence that Bush's team that there was much contingency planning going on, nor that the people doing what little planning there was had any real experience with the region, nor that the assumptions made by the planning folks had much basis in reality. I am so sorry that my misgivings appear to have been well-founded. I recall having it brought home to me on a near-daily basis at Dell when I was there as a project manager how no assumptions are sacred, and you should always have at least two layers of back-up plans ready to go at a moment's notice. How could that possibly have been escaped by the entire US government, or at least those in charge? At the very least, it was Bush's responsibility to point out to his team that they were making a lot of assumptions and to ask what the backup plan was. Even if he lacked whatever was necessary to recognize that and ask the questions, Cheney certainly had the experience to do so and failed.

Jonathan is turning into quite the little guy. Tonight he insisted on brushing his teeth by himself, so he stood on his stepstool and solemnly scrubbed at his teeth for quite a while. Yes, Dale videoed it. What chroniclers we are! He's very giving with his affection these days and often looks at me and says, "I love you, Mummy". His imagination is also running rampant, and he is acting out stories that he's seen or read nearly all day long. Sometimes I think he's a little overwhelmed by it all himself! Mostly I'm "Spud" from the Bob the Builder show, and he's either "Roley" when he's rolling around Dale's big exercise ball, or "Travis" the tractor when he's playing with his car toys. Tonight I read him a new Thomas the Tank Engine book that he'd not seen before as his bedtime story, and he was so thrilled about it that as soon as we were done, he insisted to Dale that he was going to read a story from it to him as his (Dale's) bedtime story. I got many "thank you, Mummy"s from him too for his new book. It's a thrill to see him be so excited about new stories.

Posted by elizabeth at 11:20 PM | Comments (2)