Monday, January 24, 2011

Cardiology and the Winter Dark

I shall update tomorrow night.

Life in Seattle
Christmas has passed and only the odd spattering of holiday decorations remain up in the short dark days.   Its supposed to be an El Nina year but we haven't seen much snow, just the days of half-light and rain interspersed with blinding cold days of sun where the falling temperatures are marked by our cars being frozen in with ice.   On those days the doors to my minivan don't open and I have to pop Wren in through the front door and then clamber over the front chair to buckle him in on the way to preschool.  The shadowed side of my car is always worse off and requires extra work with the ice-scraper.

These days, my mailbox is full of credit card offers as the major banks leap in to scoop up the debts of those overextended over Christmas (7 in the past 3 days). 
The boys have settled back at school and I have finally become used to typing 2011 as the date.   The mycology email lists are quiet.  The mushrooms are sleeping but in their place the parent-lists are in a flurry of Sale and GIveaways as families reorganize and declutter after Christmas.

Mid-Winter Break in late Feb
Coming up is Mid-winter Break where the schools are off for a week from Presidents Day (Feb 21st-27th) and then there's Tax Season.  For the first time in many years we have an appointment with a Tax Accountant.  Now that I am working part-time our taxation is a bit more complex and we are going to see if someone else can do it better.   Like cleaning your house before a house-cleaner arrives, handing the tax over requires organization and I am starting to make piles and lists of things I need to fill in the Tax Worksheet the accountant provided.

We are lucky to be going to Hawaii this spring.  None of us has been before and we are going to Kau'ai.  Mum is going to be joining us for a week away.  I am terribly excited.  So often, I have been on fabulous visits to family but the places are familiar.  It is such a treat to be planning for a visit somewhere WARM and Tropical and new. 

The Boys
With winter and the new games acquired at Christmas, the boys are in a screen-time pit from which I am going to have to extricate them.  Frost is loving playing a Skate Game on XBox and Wren begs to be allowed to play iPad (Zombie Smash or PVZ or Sword Poker) or Kinectimals.  We have an Xbox with a sensor which 'sees' his movements so he controls his saber toothed tiger cup with various gestures and makes loud thuds as he runs around the living room to simulate the cubs running around his favorite obstacle course.

However,  they are not doing so well with alternative forms of entertainment.

Wren loves Magic the Gathering.  He has a deck of creatures, spells, instants and mana which he carries around the house most of the time.  He puts it in a little plastic sandwich bag when we go out and shows significant cards to strangers, failing to read the utter mystification on their faces when he explains that his Duskdale Worm is a 6/6 with Annihilator 3 (Frost told him that, although it is not strictly true).  Whenever I am working, cleaning, cooking or reading Wren comes up to me and asks me to "Play Magic with Me?"   He is remarkably good at it, playing about 50% of the rules most of the time.  However,  his emotional investment in his creatures makes it hard for him to let them die in blocking attacks so he sometimes lets damage through or fails to attack when it would be tactically wise.

My Entertainment
I have recently joined a book group which meets a bit over monthly.  Right now we are reading Cleopatra:  A Life.  Those of you who know my alarming lack of historical backbone will be pleased to know that I am filling in my gaps of a particular era in history while reading a book with the cover showing a pretty girl.  Win-Win in my book :)

I am also doing well with my running training.  The first half-marathon I have registered for is the Whidbey which is on April 9th.  I have reached the point of being able to run 6 miles easily at 10 minute mile or less and will do that a few more times before moving to a few 7 or 8 mile runs.  I have a running buddy (Courtney) and friends in a running group (Lauren and her peeps) who are all more experienced than I and able to answer some of my basic questions. 

For now, my main concern is that I will get injured as I increase distance. 

Each longer run or run I go faster on, I get slight twinges in my calves / achilles that makes me feel they are not quite up to the task yet.  I am not sure whether I have to keep building distance before adding speed or just do dedicated stretches and exercises for the calves.  Research needed!  This weaknesses a bit unfortunate as I love running faster.  We shall see whether I can keep the tension between exertion over distance and pace within a healthy balance.

Wren and Math
Wren is interested in numbers.  He spends a lot of time counting things.  He counts to twenty with occasional omissions and can add numbers with some thought.  Once, we were driving down the interstate and he said "If you have 2 and you have 2 then you have FOUR!"  I asked him what you had if you "had 3 and you had 3?" and he said "SIX!"   However, the next day he said "I can't remember" when I asked him the same thing.

He is very puzzled by the decimal system.  He often says "O-one" for ten and "O-O-1" for one hundred.  Today, he asked me  "What is 1 - 1 - O - O  dollars?"   I explained that it was $1,100.

Wren said:  "Well, that is a lot of money.  If there was a toy or a costume that was very very big we would spend ALL our money on it and I would ask you for it and you would say YES.  It might be a Robot Monster Costume."

I am interested that he thinks I would say "yes."

Wren and God
Wren is also puzzled by God.

Frost saw a comic of a man, naked, holding a fig leaf in front of his pelvic area.  I asked if he knew what it was in reference to.  He had no clue so I told Frost and Wren the story of the garden of Eden and Eve and the Serpent.  I also told them about the story of Noah and the Ark (and Dylan's song, Man Gave Names to All the Animals." 

Later that day I told Wren to stop bouncing on the couch.  I said "I have told you not to!"


We had a talk about God and how many people think God made life and the world.  I explained that some people think that there is no god, some people think that God is everywhere, some people think she or he is in the sky or somewhere far away, others think he lives in your heart or is like a holy ghost.

Wren said "I believe in God.  He is a guy.  He does not live in your heart because if he lived in your heart he could not make life."

He added:  "God is an invisible Giant Ghost that Lives in the SKy.  God is Called Fertility."

"Fertility?" I asked.   "What does that mean?"

Wren said:  "It is what God is Called."

"Uh huh."  I said, quite confused.

"BUT!  Wren continued.  "Some people think God is in a Statue and not in the Sky!"

I was quick to grasp this one since we took Frost and Wren to a Hindu temple in South Africa and saw Shiva and Kali and Ganesha.  I explained that the statues were like pictures of the Gods but that they were not really in the statue only.   Still, perhaps my explanation of a Murti as an image which expresses a Divine Spirit but is not in fact its embodiment was too subtle for Wren.  

Later, at the Aquarium, Wren told me "I think that God has Magic ways.  If he touches glass in pointy ways he doesn't bleed.  And in this Quarium, God did a good thing.  He picked up each animal very very gently and put it in the Aquarium so we can see them."

The Quarium
We had an excellent visit to the Aquarium last week. We were lucky enough to come at Octopus feeding time and saw both octopi in paroxysms of excitement chasing a squid on a stick.  It was quite amazing to see them in motion - they are extremely quick and dextrous.  The one keeper poked a squid on a stick and kept it out of reach for a while until Homer, the one octopus, caught it with his tentacles.  Wren also enjoyed seeing the river otters.  One, in particular, was careful to pick up his tail and suck it whenever he went to sleep.  Wren and I decided it was his "soft shirt" for bedtime.

The octopus chases the stick with a squid on the end
He holds onto the stick to eat the snack

Wren, posing as an octopus

The Eye of Homer's friend

Josh and Hiking
Josh is also thinking of greater things.  He has often mentioned a desire to hike The Pacific Crest Trail.  Recently, he has started planning to do some of the first sections on his own and has thoughts of doing the first section this Summer.  I would drop him off and meet up with him 3 nights later down the trail.  It is very high altitude and only open for a few months each year.

Its late and I am going to fold laundry.  More on Frost and our wild winter life (not) with our cardiology update tomorrow.  

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