Thursday, May 31, 2012


We are all home safe in Virginia and thus concludes one of the most stressful periods of my entire life.  Regular blogging will resume soon, although I don't know if I'll be able to pull together a Friday reading assignment for tomorrow.  I do have a Jane Eyre movie marathon/review that's been sitting in my drafts folder for a week.

There's still the washing machine to figure out.  I had a terrible experience with the customer service line at LG, including but not limited to a person hanging up on me when I put the phone down for a moment to pull the washer away from the wall so I could read the serial number.  I had told him what I was doing, so I was pretty pissed about getting hung up on.  The second rep talked to me like I was an idiot:  "So your washer won't turn on?"  Yes, it TURNS ON, it just stops mid-cycle when it is FULL OF WATER and makes a humming noise and does not display a helpful code on the LED screen.  Fuckers.  There is no "authorized" repair person within forty miles of us, so we left it that someone would call me in three business days, which is today.  Will my washer ever be fixed?  Tune in tomorrow or next week or whenever.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Catalog of woe

Am home in Virginia to take care of kids and work and bills and stuff while Jon stays in Buffalo with sick child who is still in the hospital.  Speaking of bills, got a letter from our insurance company saying that after reviewing our child's case, they have decided to cover the hospital admission.  That's a huge relief, but something really needs to be done about insurance companies that punish you for "out of network" expenses.  If you're sick when you're traveling, what the fuck are you supposed to do?  A few years ago, Jon broke two ribs when we were in Buffalo.  We had to pay 100% of the cost of his x-rays.  Whatever, I'm just grateful no one is saying, "Pay $10 million now, please."  I'm grateful that we have insurance.  We need to stop fucking around with health care and just cover everybody.  NOBODY should have to choose between paying their bills and getting health care. 

My new washing machine died.  Isn't that lovely?  Isn't that the most fantastic thing you've ever heard?  Six months old and it dies mid-cycle the night before we leave for a trip and I'm recovering from an all-day puking extravaganza and bailing the machine out by hand with a plastic mixing bowl.

Hey business owners, listen to this.  Laundromat A is open six days a week and closes at 6:00pm. Laundromat B is open seven days a week and closes at 10:00pm.  Which one do you think I graced with my custom?  Want customers?  Make your business accessible to people who have stuff to do during the day.

I hurt my knee playing frisbee.  WHO DOES THAT?  It's not especially painful, but my knee now has a worrisome tendency to buckle with no warning and I have to walk like an old person.  It's my right knee, and my right leg is kind of important for controlling the car, but I foolishly drove all they way home from Buffalo. Don't worry, I was fine. Running is out of the question right now as is walking to work, which is what I usually do.

In the midst of all the crisis when we were in Buffalo, our neighbor, who'd been looking out for our dogs, called and said that Luna, our old dog, had run away.  She is nearly 13 years old and I thought she had dragged herself off to die somewhere.  Turns out, she had squeezed her fat self underneath the deck in the back yard and was trapped.  Our neighbor had to dig out a tunnel under the deck so she could get out.  Our neighbor is a saint.

What else could go wrong?  Maybe I'll break an arm, or we'll all come down with head lice.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Update and Thank you

My healthy children have been dispatched by airplane to their schools while Jon and I wait in Buffalo for the sick child to be well enough to be discharged.  I realized just this minute that each of my four children is in a different school this year.  Grace and Seamus had a harrowing air experience yesterday.  Ordinarily, I am careful to allow a two hour layover when flying my children unsupervised.  This time, in my distraught state, I didn't check the layover, which turned out to be very brief.  So brief that when their initial flight was delayed by just ten minutes, they were at risk of missing their connecting flight to Charlottesville.  As it was, they landed just as their connecting flight was boarding and had to sprint to their gate.  The flight to C'ville was on a teeny prop plane and Seamus tells me they had bad turbulence, but they are now home safe. 

I am overwhelmed by the kindness we have received from friends and family and even complete strangers:  The US Airways employee who not only let me go to the gate, even though I did not have a ticket, but wrote down for Grace which gate they'd be arriving at and which gate they'd need to get to for their connecting flight.  It was this that enabled them to plan and not waste time hunting for their connecting flight.  It was this that prevented them from being stranded overnight, alone, in North Carolina.  The TSA agent who spoke kindly to Seamus and wondered if he was young enough to keep his shoes on during the screening.  The triage nurses at the Buffalo General ER who were so nice to us, who still say hello when we use the ER entrance to get up to the floor to visit.  You may think that these little, seemingly insignificant nice things that you do are not a big deal, but they ARE a big deal.

Then there are our friends and family, here in Buffalo and in Virginia, who have showered us with love and support.  And my lovely friends in the blogging community who offered their prayers and support. This was a crisis we could not handle by ourselves and all that you do has helped us get through it.  Thank you.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Taking a brief interlude in a cafe in Buffalo.  I will probably not be posting for awhile.  We had a medical emergency with one of our children.  We will likely be staying here until our child is discharged from the hospital.  Peace, and if you're inclined send us a few prayers.  Thanks.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Reading Assignment: Sailing Adventures

The time has come to introduce you to the Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.  Some of you are probably familiar with these books--I know they've been mentioned in the comments. They're really superb.  Right now I'm reading Fortune of War, one of the later books in the series, and it is fantastic, but you don't get to enjoy it yet because this is one series you need to read in order.

Master and Commander is the first book in the series, and it's been so long since I read it, I can't remember too many details about the plot, but essentially, young Jack Aubrey of the British navy is promoted from lieutenant to commander and meets Stephen Maturin, a surgeon and naturalist who becomes ship's surgeon.  This is the beginning of a beautifully portrayed friendship and the best series of nautical fiction ever.  Better than Horatio Hornblower, in my opinion.

A snippet on the back cover from a review published in Time:

If Jane Austen had written rousing sea yarns, she would have produced something very close to the prose of Patrick O'Brian.

That pretty much sums it up.  These books have something for everyone and appeal equally to both sexes and to fans of adventurous, plot driven stories as well as those who like something a little more intellectual. I admire a writer who can produce natural sounding, clever dialogue, and Patrick O'Brian is a master of this.  You really need to read the whole series--I am still working on it--and see how the friendship and characters evolve.  In the second book, Jack and Stephen are both in love with the same woman and their friendship nearly ends.  It also turns out that Stephen is a spy--he's captured and tortured by the French in one book.  In Fortune of War, the book I'm reading now, the war of 1812 has broken out and Jack and Stephen are prisoners of war in Boston, where the French are determined to capture Stephen again and do unspeakable things to him.  Meanwhile, the woman they both loved has turned up as well.  And so it goes, each novel a development of the ones that came before it.

Master and Commander was made into a movie, with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany as Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.  I enjoyed it enough to see it twice.

Do you know these books? What do you think? If you've seen the movie I'd love to hear your opinion of that too.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Friday Saturday Sunday


Tucked up in bed Friday night watching a low-budget BBC miniseries and feeling sorry for myself because nobody was home when Jon called to say that he and a friend were at The Whiskey Jar and would I like to come out and meet them there.  It was a Scarlett O'Hara moment:  the scene at the charity ball when Rhett bids for her and some stern upright person says, "The lady will not dance," and Scarlett says, "Oh yes I will!"  My sensible side said "The lady cannot go out." I hadn't washed my hair after my run; I had taken my contact lenses out; I was in my pajamas.  My madcap side said, "Oh yes I will!" and bounced out of bed, threw on a dress and eyeglasses, and pulled my disgusting hair into a pony tail.  I had a gin & tonic at The Whiskey Jar and a martini at Positively 4th St.  We saw a pasty-white girl get carried out of the bar, too drunk to stand and a transvestite friend of a friend decorate his ass with little stickers that said "hot." It was lovely.


In Market St. market Saturday.  I bought a single small bottle of clorox bleach and nothing else.  I was tempted to ask for a bag, but I didn't and walked out of the store and over to the pharmacy to pick up a script and set my bottle of bleach down on the counter while I paid.  It discomfited the pharmacy clerk, like the evidence of a secret stain.  "Do you want a bag for that? " she asked.  I declined.


Sunday, at a sidewalk table at the Baja Bean in Richmond, a man pulled up at the stoplight adjacent to our table and yelled out his car window, "I ate a Baja Bean and I got diarrhea!"  He paused, then screamed, "THAT IS FUCKED UP!" and drove away, while we contemplated our tacos with a new and (hopefully not) jaundiced eye.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Reading Assignment: A Word Child

Two weeks ago, I said that I was in a happy place with the books I was reading.  One of those books was The Virginians, last week's assignment, and the other was A Word Child by Iris Murdoch.  I've featured Murdoch before, and for good reason.  She's one of the best English writers of the twentieth century.  While everything I've read by Iris Murdoch has been good, I liked some of her books better than others and A Word Child falls into this category.

The "child" of A Word Child is Hilary Burde, a man in his forties whose gift for languages enabled him to escape his unhappy childhood (illegitimate, poor, sent to an orphanage after his mother's death) and go to Oxford.  A tragic event ruins a potentially brilliant career, and when we are introduced to him, he's a low-level civil servant in a drab office which is brightened only by the glimpse of Big Ben he can see from the window.

The Amazon customer reviewers describe Hilary Burde as an unlikeable loser, but I think he's a sympathetic character and almost every female character in the book falls in love with him, so he must have something going on. I think I was a little bit in love with him myself.  Still, sometimes his actions are questionable.  The central conflict is that the man involved in Burde's life-ruining tragedy has been assigned as an upper level manager of their department.  What follows is at times suspenseful, but what I really loved about this book is Murdoch's ability in creating this character.