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"I left the flat depressed but, as I walked down Espedair Street, back into town under a glorious sunset of red and gold, slowly a feeling of contentment, intensifying almost to elation, filled me. I couldn’t say why; it felt like more than having gone through a period of mourning and come out the other side, and more than just having reassessed my own woes and decided they were slight compared to what some people had to bear; it felt like faith, like revelation: that things went on, that life ground on regardless, and mindless, and produced pain and pleasure and hope and fear and joy and despair, and you dodged some of it and you sought some of it and sometimes you were lucky and sometimes you weren’t, and sometimes you could plan your way ahead and that was the right thing to have done, but other times all you could do was forget about plans and just be ready to react, and sometimes the obvious was true and sometimes it wasn’t, and sometimes experience helped but not always, and it was all luck, fate, in the end; you lived, and you waited to see what happened, and you would rarely ever be sure that what you had done was really the right thing or the wrong thing, because things can always be better, and things can always be worse.

Then, being me, I felt guilty about starting to feel better, and thought, So, you’ve heard a little bit of home-crocheted philosophy, and seen somebody worse off than yourself; is this all it takes? Your revelations come cheap, Daniel Weir; and your soul is shallow… but even that was part of the experience, and so explained, and expiated, by it, and under that startlingly gaudy sky – like something from one of my ma’s Woolworth paintings – I walked, and felt I could be happy again."

-- Espedair Street by the great Iain Banks, p. 224

Every couple of years I come back to this one and every couple of years I get it just a little bit more.

holding pattern

Still trying to get back up to speed around here. Tomorrow should be closer to normal. And, hopefully, the kids' day care will be open again tomorrow and I can get some work done. Not that we haven't been having a fine time -- just that my perpetual state of behind-ness gets even more, um, behind.

And so -- two links:

First, Rob Centorani's very funny column about his drive to work yesterday. Now I want to meet his wife.

Second, the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor. Matthew -- do you know anything about these?

oh what a night

Sadly, this video doesn't quite convey the mind-bogglingliness of this event. For those who don't know the Oneonta area, this raging river is generally a meandering creek through Wilber Park, which is about a block and half from our house. What the video doesn't capture is the sound -- usually this creek has a nice little burble that you can't hear until you're almost on top of it. Right now, you can hear a train-like roaring from a block away.

The last three days of rain culminated with a deluge last night. Reports of flooding are trickling (no pun intended) in. And judging by those reports, we won't be going to Binghamton soon, simply because the interstate has washed away just outside of Sidney.

Right now the sun is out and it is more humid than a Knoxville July day. The kids are slowly working up to a decent level of near-psychotic boredom because they've been trapped inside for so long. Woo.

when choice isn't

"[Hirshman's argument] doesn't mean that America's children are going to go without mothers. As Hirshman points out, the real debate isn't a choice between two extremes: a life where neither parent sees the child, or a life where the child has a loving mother. Rather, Hirshman's hard-boiled approach to the whole concept of choice cuts through the self-important—and often self-sabotaging—idealism that women employ to justify their decisions."

Meghan O'Rourke in Slate today revists the idea that mothers need to keep working to change the status quo about mothers and working. Hirshman's argument is smart, if brusquely stated. What kills me is that this whole thing will get spun once again into whether or not mom "chooses" to stay how and how that will effect the kids v. the long-term consequences of our current system of choices. I'll bet you $5 that it will eventually be stay at homers v. work outside of the homers and who is the "better" parent.

Ah, me.

In other news, it is still frickin' raining and my hair is enormous. I fear for small children who get near it.

the birthday bomb + shameless self promotion

The Diva turns 4 today. 4! And me not a day over 21. Who would have thunk it?

Yesterday we did up the birthday big time. Today my only goal is to make the house less pink and sticky. Given that the party was forced indoors due to rain, there is generally more debris than anticipated. Still -- a good time was had by all far as I can tell, despite the less than helpful weather.

While I impose some order, some shameless boosterism:

First, a primer on traveling with kids and a glimpse into publishing The Book and my angst about same.

quote of the day

"A good heavy book holds you down. It’s an anchor that keeps you from getting up and having another gin and tonic."

-- Roy Blount Jr, from “Reading and Nothingness, Of Proust in the Summer Sun”

It is now officially summer here, which means it's hot and humid. I'm not really complaining about this turn of events. Having lived in places -- Austin, Knoxville -- where summer is a force to be respected, an Upstate New York summer is not to be grumbled about. Unlike other places I've kicked around, this current weather pattern will pass quickly and we will all fondly remember it in February, when we are shoveling the walk again. And again.

The hot and humid, however, has sucked all pretense of motivation out of my languid little head. Since good AC is hard to come by, I just want to lie on the porch with a cold bevvie and a book. Save last summer, I tend to tackle something I've been meaning to read. This season belongs to Suttree. I suspect watermelon will be off the menu until fall.

Can't seem to get anything else done -- but have lots to do. It's probably for the best that I don't own a hammock, otherwise I'd not write another word or cook another dinner until the leaves turn.

knitting content, part 5, summer of lace

Before I give you any details, let me assure the person I'm knitting this for that it will most definitely be done by October. Really. No reason to panic. None.

In fact, SnarkaP, you might want to look away.


The above picture represents the sum total of two hours of work on the Icarus shawl. I may have met my Waterloo. When I get it done, which I will, no worries, it will be lovely and oh-so-soft. And I know that lace looks like dog vomit until you block it. But, seriously, unless I can learn how to count with any accuracy, it is going to take a very, very long time. Worth it, certainly, but a long time.

My hope is that the first 15 stitiches are the trickiest and the remaining umpteen thousand will be a breeze.

Don't tell me if you know otherwise. Really.

edited to add -- one of the reasons it took me so long to get that far is that I ripped out the first five or six rows a dozen times. Or maybe two dozen. I lost track after a bit.

like a cat on a screen door

I have a musician friend whose wife describes him as "a cat on screen door" shortly before he has a new album hit the stores. I now know what she means.

By all accounts, The Book is now finding its way to the hands of readers. This is good.

Because it is what I do, I am starting to get anxious and a wee bit obsessive about the whole thing. I don't like it when I have to release control to the universe. What if the universe simply shrugs? What if the unvierse notices? What if I acheive success beyond my wildest dreams? What if someone leaves a metaphoric bag of poo on my doorstep? What if no one cares and I never sell another thing again and have to find a normal job, one where I have to wear nylons?

The is another shoe out there and I am simply waiting for it to drop.

Rather than focus on the voices (O! the voices), I've decided to be, like, proactive and stuff. I'm sticking to my knitting, both literally and figuratively. And I'm going to drink heavily, eat boxes of Teddy Grahams and bags of Hershey's Miniatures. So if you see me wandering about 100 pounds heavier, smelling of gin and talking to yarn, don't panic. This is how I cope.

Speaking of public nervous breakdowns, I'm worried about Britney Spears. For a few years I had myself convinced that she was an idiot savant. Now I think she's just one big cry for help who needs pity rather than scorn. She also needs a good swift kick in the ass and people around her who care about her as a human being rather than a meal ticket. Or, you know, some yarn and some gin. Couldn't hurt.

Thanks for all of the comments. Keep the reports coming in, if you feel so inclined.