Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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Children's Hosptial---Day two
(see post of June 6 for Jon's trip to the Zoo)

We caught up with Jon after his surgery late Monday afternoon to see what he'd have to say about the experience. At 22-months-old, Jon is a boy of few words; those words are "fwuck," fuh-fwuck," "nunununu," "topmuhma" {translation: truck, fire truck, no, no no no, and stop mama}. But if you try real hard you can read his mind in his facial expressions. And this is what he has to say....

I should've known something was up when daddy came in to get me before the birds started singing in the morning. Usually, they are happy when I let the sun come up before I call them to get me out of bed. But this morning, there was dad, waking me up and getting my shoes on. Where were we going so early? I wondered.

When the big glass doors magically opened and I heard the choo choo's whistle, I thought: I've been here before. More magic doors and a ride up on ewhawaiter, i think they call it, to a big open hall with lots of chairs. These friendly people in white coats asked how I was.

What are they thinkin'? I wondered. It's early, where's my juice, and somebody get me some cereal. But all they offered was this stiff piece of cloth with funny pictures of kids on it. Off came my clothes and on went the funny, stiff, cloth. Then, they let me push this big cart through more magic doors that opened in front of us. The cart was heavy, and cold, but I pushed it right through the doors. I looked back to see if mommy and daddy thought I did a good job and they were gone. What the......?

Then some nice lady picked me up and told me they'd be back but I had to lie down on a bed. Yeah, right, I thought. No way. So I screamed as loud as I could and this hood came down over my face with funny air.

The next thing I know, there's mommy. And boy, does my back hurt. My throat hurts , too. I couldn't even keep my eyes open. But mommy and daddy and grammy and pops and nana were all there when I opened them again. We were floating down the bright hall way in and out of magic doors. When they lifted me up and put me in the big bed I could not even believe how much it hurt. I made a big sad face. The saddest I could manage. And someone asked if I wanted some juice. What good is juice? What have you people done? I got the impression everyone knew something I didn't.

I heard them talking, though. The doctor came in and said everything was fine. (And he's a doctor? How does he know? Ask me...i can tell you things are not fine!). They believed him, of course. I couldn't move, and things are fine. I was stuck face down at the wrong end of the bed and my arms wouldn't work and I couldn't move because it hurt. The doctor, brilliant guy, suggested I might need to be morphed. Or maybe he'd give me morph. Whatever it is, I felt better right away.

The big wad of bandaid across my back is pretty uncomfortable and my throat hurts like crazy and they are pretty determined to make me drink an ocean of juice, but I'm ok otherwise. My thumb is glowing red and this screen next to my bed blinks and beeps when I tap my fingers against the glowing red light on my thumb. My dad jumps up and looks when I do it, so it's fun to do every now again. The other tubes taped to my feet and arms aren't any fun. And they don't seem to do anything unless the nurse comes and pushes buttons and squishes something into the machine.

I bet today will be better. I've got train movies and truck books to look at. I think there are dogs on the roof and lots of kids to play with. Maybe I'll get morphed again.

[note: Jon had surgery for a double aortic arch]

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Favorite Things

Jon's favorite steam engine video--view online.

This video appears to have been taken by a father accompanied by his small sons. It is 6 m. 20s. long, and absolutely nothing much happens. However, in the eyes of a two-year-old this video ROCKS!

More trains for kids:
Alphabet train video

The Railwayshop.com features many dvd's of trains that promise to not to bore you to death with talking about trains, but show you only the train. Children are bored by the droning of the documentary voice explaining every iota of train detail. They merely want to hear the steam whistle and engine--choo choo.

I had been comtemplating buying a dvd camera and sitting near the RR tracks in town in order to make my own video. In St. Louis, in the heat of the summer, this idea was not only expensive but uncomfortable. I was glad to have found some streaming online video spots for Jon to watch. And other RR men (hip hip hurray for UP railroads) have generously searched for more video footage that Jon might enjoy.

ALL this to entertain a two-year-old post-surgery! Three weeks of mild activity is a mighty tall order for a boy with one activity level--HIGH.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chris Rehor
1963 - 2006

Speaking of people who make a difference [see post 6/26 Monday--below], Chris has not stopped changing lives just because he's gone from our sight.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another Monday - but you CAN make it through the week!

Some Monday's are tougher than others, you have to admit. But for some people everyday is more difficult than even the worst of my Mondays. The Energizer Hall of Fame is paying tribute to people who JUST KEEP GOING despite all the odds that are against them. You can read about such people at the Energizer website and vote for person who inspires you the must. I don't mind telling you that I voted for John O'Leary who lives in Webster Groves, Missouri.

Maybe you know someone like John who wasn't supposed to survive, but did it anyway, and makes a huge difference in the lives of those he meets. Maybe you know someone who won't make it through this week due to cancer, a tragic accident, or aging related illness. In that case, you are the one who survives to tell their story, to make a difference for them. Why not tell someone this week that because of who they are your life is better and they made a difference.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Debordante Baratin --ce ne'est pas correct
maintenant: Baratin Debordant
Une personne francais me dit que "debordante baratin" ce n'est pas correct. Les adjectifs en francais suivent les substantifs. Et baratin est masulin, pas feminin. Voila! J'ai changé le nom de ce blog à français correct.
Je regrette l'erreur. Merci, E.V., pour votre aide.

Salton Recovers --Pink Sisters' Prayer at Work

The other day I posted an account of the unhappiest day of this week: my espresso machine fell out of the cabinet and hit me in the face, landed on the floor and no longer frothed milk. In the comments to that post, my cousin offered her sympathy at the loss of the Salton and quipped that she would have my aunt ask the Pink Sisters to pray. Today, the Salton frothed the milk. Just like that! Must have been the Sisters in Pink.

It is possible, of course, that it was the threat my husband made to take the machine apart and check the gasket. But I prefer to think some heavenly agent is at work on my kitchen appliances. Lord knows, they need it. My toaster is a 1948 original Sunbeam, rescued from the bowels of my parents' basement. The Oaster blender is of the same era, saved from a rusty grave and resurrected to a modern counter. It sounds a bit like a 747 taking off in the kitchen, but it blends up ice and Tequila really well. And last but not least is the 1930's Sunbeam mix-master, with two of the three original, classic white bowls. I don't mix much of anything, actually, but if I wanted to blend a cake mix or whip up icing, it would do the job.

I don't particularly like appliances. My husband wants a new toaster; a toaster oven to be precise. He's been asking for one fifteen years. Why? The old Sunbeam works almost every time. Why not? Because my mother has every appliance ever invented by George Forman, and I stand to inherit enough gadgets to fill the Smithsonian. I think George should give it a rest.
Maybe the Pink Sisters were not praying for my Salton yesterday. But it's gotten a second wind nonetheless. June 24 could be the happiest day of the year for me. I don't have to spend it on eBay bidding for espresso machines. Time to go, my well frothed espresso is getting cold.

What were you doing on June 23?

Quick, last night how did you feel? Happy? Try to remember because it could have been the happiest day of the year. I am no longer amazed at what passes for serious scholarly work these days, so I will just accept the fact that Cliff Arnall, at a British Univ. has devised an equation to identify the happiest day of the year. And according to his rather "simple" reasoning, it is June 23. The unhappiest day of the year was January 23.

The equation [O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He] factors in outdoor activities, nature, social interaction, and pints of beer. Nah, I made that last one up. But I've been to the U.K. and there are some very happy people in the pubs. Arnall should have surveyed a few pubs on his way home from university to double check the happiness quotient of the chaps stumbling out the door of the Kings Arms or the Her Lady's Petticoat.

{article from Yahoo News, care of D. Cuddihee}

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Off to a Bad Start

I have an addiction. As addictions go, I guess it ain't such a bad one. I cannot begin any day unless I have a Kaldi's Espresso Malta in hand first thing in the morning. My espresso machine was a bargain several years ago. Only $7.95 on eBay, and that might include the shipping. We're talking cheap! It's a Salton, probably with an original price of $29.99 from Target. I had a Salton that was a reject from my parents' house. It began to fail, entered hospice, and expired.

The frothing of the milk is nearly ideal, but in order for the pressure to be “just so” one has to use finely ground espresso.The little Salton is a marvel, as long as the espresso is ground to a fine, fine, granular size as in Turkish.

To make a short story longer by a mile, I’ll admit that I’d run out of Kaldi’s espresso and had traded the Salton on the kitchen counter for the Brun coffee maker in the cabinet—the high cabinet above the oven. Yesterday (as in any day this week before today), I bought a pound of my beloved grind out at the flatland Kaldi’s. Perhaps they call it Chesterfield Flat or Chesterfield Mall; out there by Annie Gunn’s where the land used to flood, but now they hope it doesn’t. This morning I reached up to grab the Salton from the high cabinet with one hand, when two hands clearly would have been better, but the other hand was holding the Brun, and I lost my grip. I saw the very heavy cap that screws down on the water tank sliding forward. Wham. This small cap must weigh five pounds. It fell and hit me right in the mouth, nearly breaking a tooth. Fortunately, the very heavy cap only gave me a fat lip and marred the new kitchen floor. And the Salton, too, fell slowly to the floor.

Alas, when I filled it up with water and espresso, finely ground, NO steam was emitted from the frothing spout. C’est une catastrophe!! Je peux vivre avec une grosse lèvre mais pas sans expresso.

What to do, what to do? I searched eBay. No Salton to be had. Ruh roh!! This is a very bad day.


This just in.....

On the other hand, just checking around the internet, I found that the River Front Times has listed my blog as Blog O’ the Day.

Guess I'll offer this update on the little fella who went to the zoo after his big day at the hospital. He's scheduled for surgery on July 10 and will have three weeks of quiet activity. This child has never had a day of quiet activity since he was maybe three days old.

June 21,2006

Things to know

When a two year old is eating greasy pork ribs covered in barbeque sauce, his hands and mouth and nearby surface areas are a mess. You will want to wipe off his hands, at least, before letting him leave the table, even if you are picnicing outside.

Do not approach the child with wet cloth in hand saying, “Here, let me wi….” because before it’s out of your mouth he will be off and running. The table, chair, floor, walls, doors between you and far away from you will be covered with rib grease and sauce.

Honestly, the only thing you could do that would be worse would be to make a sinister face and in a creepy voice say, “I’m going to get you.” It would elicit the same reaction. Simply, approach the child, preferably from behind, with the cloth hidden until just at the last moment you swiftly, in one motion, grab one of his hands and scrub. Hold on tight, grab the other hand, and then go for the mouth until the messy child is clean once again.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

After two grueling days at Children's Hospital, fighting the nurses, doctors, and aids, one grandmother and a mom, this little boy enjoyed a couple of hours at the St. Louis Zoo.

"So, Jon, what was your favorite part of the zoo?"

"Mmmmmm, I like elephants."

"They are really big. Do they scare you?"

"Not these elephants. They were hot and wanted to squirt water all over themselves. And two of them are going to have baby elephants soon."

"What other animals impressed you at the zoo?"

"I thought the penquins were pretty cool. They stink though. I had to hold my breath inside the cave. And the fish are fun to watch, too. FISH!!"

"You were very brave at the hospital. What did they have you do?"

"I had to hold really still while this big machine was lowered over my chest. I did not hold still and they made me do it again later."

"That was an xray machine. Did they take blood, too?"

"They waited til the end of the first day. I screamed a lot. They could not find blood vessels in my arms. Before that they did a sweat test and wrapped plastic around my arm."

"You knew you were allergic to peanuts before you went to the hospital. Did they confirm this allergy?"

"Yes, I can't have peanuts like the elephants can, but I hope I can play with the elephants anyway. And I am allergic to peas, which are disgusting anyway--so who cares-- and I can't eat wheat."

"I am sure you will find many other things to eat. What else did the doctors learn?"

"I have an unusually formed aortic path that they call an arch. It is serious, but they are going to help me and I won't get resptr--restripo--repsti-- colds and stuff so much. That will be a good thing."

"I'm glad to hear that. What test did you have to find this out?"

"I had to go back the next day and have, I think it is called, an upper GI. I couldn't eat anything for breakfast and I was hungry. All they had was barium to drink in lemon-lime. Talk about disgusting. I refused to drink it. But they have ways of making little, defenseless, boys, like me, drink barium, so in the end they shot it into my mouth through a tiny tube. I had to be still while the big machine watched me swallow and my insides showed up on a tv screen."

"You really were brave. I hear that you liked the train in the entrance of the hospital."

"They have two trains that go up and down part of the hallway on tracks way up by the ceiling. They whistle and everything. It was my favorite thing at the hospital. And there is a train at the zoo that I like, too.

"I am happy that you got to visit the zoo animals after your brave days at the hospital."

"Me, too!! I love the zoo."

jon --22 months old

Thursday, May 25, 2006

AMHERST WRITERS WORKSHOP - last spring session

Writing suggestion: From the past, write down a color, place, time, person, that has something to do with your character’s past. Ditto for the present.

PAST: red - art museum - Saturday - father

PRESENT: yellow - riverbank - morning - dog

The result---

Woman Who Runs With Away From Wolves

I woke up with an urge to run. Wasn’t that the purpose of a weekend getaway? Leave the city and responsibility behind, follow the inner voice, and “Run away, run away.” The sun was out, which was quite a change from the days before which had been rainy, and the temperature in the cabin was tolerable.

I stuck out my foot from beneath the comforter and tested the air. This would be easy. Shorts and a T-shirt, socks—the ones I wore yesterday would have to do, and trail shoes. Quiety, I gathered the clothes and shoes trying not to wake my husband, whose inner voice had not yet spoken.

I drank quickly from a bottle of water waiting for me on the table. All laced up and ready to go, I headed out the door into the cool, fresh, early morning air.

The trees were quiet, no breeze, no clouds, no sign of rain. I stretched my arms over my head, leaned forward over one knee and then the other, took a deep breath and off I went more peace-filled than I’d been in weeks.

Only the sound of birds twittering and chatting amongst themselves told me I was not dreaming, that a new day had begun. The road was deserted and I broke into a gentle jog. I ran past wild flowers, May Apples, and fallen trees, all by-products of a month of spring rain. I drew energy from the rush of air chilling the sweat on my face. I slowed down only long enough to make a quick decision to turn down a new gravel road that had just been laid since I’d last been to the cabin.

Construction for a vacation home was evident about half a mile down the new road, and I peered through the trees to get a good look. Then, I stopped abruptly and stared straight in front of me. A large gray wolf stood about fifty feet ahead of me and looked back over his shoulder in my direction. Maybe he hadn’t seen me. Or heard me? It’s a wolf, I told myself, he listens and watches the woods for a living. Wolf? Are there wolves in Missouri? Cayote, maybe. My brain raced to figure it out. Will he chase me? Is he hungry? My heart had stopped beating, and I told myself to breath.

I took a step back , remembering somewhere in the back of my head not to turn my back on him. Or is that bears? Doesn’t matter. I kept looking at him, two steps, three, for about ten paces backward. And he never changed his pose. Overwhelmed by fear, I tried to stay calm. The inner voice shouted, “Run away, run away.”

I turned and ran as fast as I could looking up and down the rows of trees for one I could climb. Climb a tree? What would Clarissa Pinkola Estes do? I would keep running.

Glancing back over my shoulder, I couldn’t see around the bend to where the wolf had been standing, but clearly he wasn’t chasing me. My right fore-foot rolled over the loose gravel, and I felt the tendon in my ankle give way. I imagined the pain of sharp wolf teeth tearing into the muscle in my calf, and I ignored the ankle sprain and kept running. All the way back to the cabin, knowing that I’m a woman who runs with away from wolves.

[oops, html problem with paragraph indents--dstls]

Let your inner voice speak--bidden or unbidden your inner voice is there, so let it out and listen to your own voice. Amherst Workshops resume in the fall.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


My daughter recently gave me It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty and other tragedies of married life by Judith Viorst, published in 1968. Viorst is better known as the author of Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

The Hard to be Hip book was a surprise. I wondered what my daughter had in mind when she chose this book for me, a choice made three years ago when she was attending an art school in Georgia--near the Garden of Good and Evil. I still don't know what she was thinking, maybe of aging people in general or maybe the content of the book spoke to her about me. Viorst describes in a series of poems the progression of unHIPness after marriage in the 60's. I understand these poems in ways I wish I did not understand.

The youthful idealism not only present in the 60's generation is an idealism shared by Henry David Thoreau groupies, modern art lovers, and minimalists past and present. If you majored in business, hard science, ENGINEERING, or anything really "useful" in life, and hated your English, philosophy, and music/art appreciation courses [--if you took any at all], Viorst may sound to you like some pot smoking, bleeding heart liberal, socialist from the 60's who recovered just in time to join the suburban crush of SUV driver's who live in your neighborhood. And mine.

Here's one of my favorites:

Once I aspired to

Humble black turtleneck sweaters

And spare unheated rooms

With the Kama Sutra, a few madrigals, and

Great literature and philosophy.

Once I considered money

Something to be against

On the grounds that

Credit cards,

Installment-plan buying,

And joint checking account

Could never coexist with

Great literature and philosophy.

Once I believed

That the only kind of marriage I could respect

Was a spiritual relationship

Between two wonderfully spiritual human beings

Who would never argue about money

Because they would be too busy arguing about

Great literature and philosophy.

I changed my mind

Having discovered that

Spiritual is hard without the cash

To pay the plumber to unstop the sink

And pay a lady to come clean and iron

So every other Friday I can think about

Great literature and philosophy.

No one ever offers us a choice

Between the Kama Sutra and a yacht.

We're always selling out for diaper service

And other drab necessisities that got ignored in

Great literature and philosophy.

A jug of wine,a loaf of bread, and thou

No longer will suffice. I must confess

My consciousness is frequently expanded

By Diners' Club, American Express, and things

undreamed of in

Great literature and philosophy.

I saw us walking hand-in-hand through life,

But now it's clear we really need two cars.

I looked with such contempt at power mowers,

And now, alas, that power mower's ours.

It seems I'm always reaching for my charge plates,

When all I'd planned to reach for were the stars,

Great literature and philosophy.

If you want to know what HIP really is, read the book. New editions are available at Amazon.com for $22.00. The original price of this 94 page paperback in 1968 was $1.25. And you think the price of gasoline has gone up. Think of it this way, today's paperback is less than the cost of a tank of gas in your SUV or almost any other car you might drive these days--not mine, I drive a Prius because I'm HIP :-) And I majored in literature.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Virtual youth is only a website away. Myspace.com makes it possible, according to the Los Angeles Times, to act like an adolescent no matter how old you are. I don't know about you, but adolescence was soooo much fun! It's kinda scary that there's a cyber-world for such behavior.

Caution, not for the faint of heart or anyone whose memories of middle-school angst still cause serious depression: "LET'S begin with an exercise. First, name the eight most important people in your life Â? friends, family, rock stars. These are your Top 8. Now rank those people in order of importance. Finally, send a copy of this list to everybody you know, including people who didn't make the cut. Be careful not to hurt the wrong feelings, or you may end up getting bumped from other people's Top 8s."

OUCH! Not on the list? Not picked for the team? Why do I want to think about this?

I've always thought adolescent human beings should inhabit another planet. Isn't that why we are exploring Mars? One planet may not be big enough. "There are more than 76 million people on MySpace (about 270,000 join daily), and Anderson [president of MySpace] wants to expand the MySpace experience until the entire Net rests within it." Anderson claims, "That's the goal and ambition. Almost all the things you can do online can be enhanced by the social structure of MySpace."

Key word=ALMOST. And almost all the things you can do in real life you can do virtually online. There are just some things we do not want to do or know other people are doing. "Social structure"? There's a dissertation in some sociology Ph.D. student's future.
Warning--Segue ahead

Speaking of sociologists, if you made it through adolescence with only slight scaring, you grew up to believe money can't buy happiness. And now studies prove this to be solidly true. Neither, it seems, can government help you to be happy. "Those who areskepticall about the capacity of a government to make us happy are sometimes advised to look at Bhutan, the absolute monarchy that has adopted the politics of happiness. This is the Buddhist kingdom that has forced more than 100,000 Hindus of Nepalese origin to leave the country. It may not be very democratic, but its track record on promoting happiness is second to none. In pursuit of this cause it has boldly banned wrestling and MTV." The point of life, according to experts who are happily studying our happiness quotas, is to accept what life offers, not necessarily searching for what makes us happy.

Professor Furedi, the segue above, capsulizes the study in this formula: "concern with prosperity and economic growth diminishes the quality of our emotional life and makes us unhappy." Thus, if you want to be happier, don't set your sights, your dreams, your hopes too high; in fact, lower them considerably, and you will be far happier. ["They argue that if we were more modest in our aspirations and lowered our expectations, we would be far happier people."]

Today, I think I'll hope for a Happy Meal.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Oh, my. The ten worst album covers of all time. I went to see and forgot where I'd found the link, or I'd be giving credit here.

Just when you think they can't get worse, they do. Did anyone think these were cool covers?
No, really.


writing suggestion: Pat Corrigan --fearless leader-- brought pages from art books of various photographs and works of art. Pick one and write the story.

I chose a Rembrandt's

Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern

In the courtyard, surrounded by the Knights of Jubilation, Sir Runcstant Bragforwelth read the pronouncement held tightly by the King’s page. The village would celebrate tonight, to be sure, for battle had been won. The Knights of Jubilation threw their feathered hats into the air and paraded into the Spinning Wheelhouse for a night of festivity.

I’d watched them from the window and felt them before I actually saw their faces duck under the timbered doorway. Their heavy footsteps rattled the walls and shook the flames a top the candles. Before I could step back and hide near the darkness of the hearth, he grabbed me and sat me upon his knee.

“Ah, lassy, I’ve not seen the beauty of your eyes since the moon was last full.” He held up his glass stein and called, “Brothers, we cannot be defeated in battle and we will not be defeated by this sour mead that flows from our honorable host’s kegs tonight. Drink until the sun rises over the firmaments, I say.”

Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw the brothers stand and each one drank clean the goblets and steins in their hands. Lesnel hastened to the keg to refill the pitcher, and another, and another. The mead would not last long in this thirsty crowd, I wagered silently.

Nor would I, without a doubt, unless I found a way to distract my Dutch friend and extricate myself from his merry knee. The hen sat quietly beside me, but I knew her fear of flame and reached toward the candle on the table.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In celebration of THREE years for debordante baratin online!!
Another Anniversaire Heureux!!

Joy Blogging

How can sitting all day with your eyes on the screen
make you think of new things and say what you mean?
The keys are alive with the power of words
though the thought of it all is something absurd.
In Bloggsville they type and they type and they scroll.
They read and they search trying to make themselves whole.
But all that arrives on the screen are the bits,
the tids and the flotsom and whatever fits.
The blogging goes on, day in, and day out,
as they wonder out loud and shift with each doubt.
It's a Zeuslike land all the words that they blog.
Yet, the bloggers blog on, blog, blog, blog-blog, blog, blog.

originally published online May 17, 2003 FIRST POST - title has been updated

And now, let's celebrate with a trip to France and maybe uncork a flavorful Bordeaux --click your heels three times and your mouse once!

We can't go to France and not see La Tour Eiffel - so now with the wonders of time lapse video, we spend the day in Paris.

Have another glass of wine, to celebrate AND to prevent deafness....
(via Mirabilis)

Monday, May 15, 2006

 Posted by Picasa


ain't nothin' more alive than me

when you are here

thirty years alive with one

another despite life and

its ups and downs

but with you it's mostly

ups and the downs

when you are gone

travelin' to see

me back home again

alive with you

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Missouri Botanical Garden presents Chihuly! Worth a visit.


On May 16, 2003 I built this blog.
Doesn't seem like three years.
Though life is considerably different now, and changes don't happen overnight.
Huh, how about that.
When I begin to think about how life is the same, I reread the blog from 2003.
Oh, my.

Three years ago, NO ONE i knew personally, had a blog, and most of them were clueless as to blogging. Now, everyone knows what a blog is, --ok, not everyone, some people look at me and say, "Blog?"--but most have at least heard about it. And b-zillions of them exist around the globe. Now, lots of people I know personally have blogs.

Looking forward to celebrating in some blogging way on May 16~!

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