Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mmmm, bread.

Funny how the most joyous, prettiest time of year sort of rubs my nose in the fact that I have a lot of work to do on savoring the truly important.

Sometimes I just stuff myself with bread instead.

So, I'm heading off to enjoy my people.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow week

I can be totally smug and annoying about having grown up in Fairbanks.

You have to give me some credit for living up there through high school though, right? At the time we kids jumped at the chance to possibly sacrifice our extremities in order to wear penny loafers sockless at -60, just as God intended. Nobody complained much. Even the adults carried on as though we were living someplace habitable, allowing the formation of a football team for about 2 games before the field was flooded for its real purpose as an outdoor hockey rink. It was them, not us, who announced an Aloha Day each year in January. Don't tell me they couldn't see that prank fire alarm pull coming. Must be they secretly enjoyed seeing the cheerleaders lined up outside at -40 with nothing but their coolness to keep their flip-flopping hula-beskirted butts warm.

As I was saying, I can be insufferable about the winter weakness of Portlanders. Who can blame me when they close school for an entire week for four inches of snow received on Sunday? And the news weather men? Well, I myself have never actually seen the producer stuffing their pockets with promotion dough whenever they declare a "snow EVENT", but I'm pretty sure I can see the dollar signs reflected in their petulant eyes.

This week, though. This week those ninnies were right.

It snowed a bunch and it stuck. Both snow events (I'm picking up the lingo as best I can) are rare here. Then it sat still and developed an ice crust and then this stuff fell from the sky that called itself rain, but it was 24 degrees out so it just mated with the ice crust and multiplied. That was fun, big crunchy steps made instant jagged daggers Toby kept calling strawberry pizza as he shoveled it into his mouth. Whattaya know, weirdo genes do make more weirdos.

So up to this point I was traipsing around town, making up reasons to drive around and ridicule others. The malls were practically empty, which is my favorite flavor. But then it snowed again. And again. And now we have, like, over a foot of snow with a hard layer in the middle and I am going to have to call Uncle! and say, yes, Portland, this has indeed been the Winter Snow Event 2009.

And then he actually ASKED to wash his hands...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toby's Year-end Round-up

It's very odd, this sensation of being totally smitten and completely frustrated with somebody at the exact same moment.

He's so amazing, and funny. He'll repeat anything you say and we do like to use that for all it's worth, a la this (slight language warning).

He's also contrary right down to his marrow. Yesterday I told him out of the blue, "Sorry buddy, no more hugs today," and you and guess who got a big fat awesome running toddler cuddle pronto.

Today we had an eye appointment. Turns out they upped the scrip again, and if that doesn't fix the problem then it's surgery time. And you know what really bothered me most about this whole morning? The two tantrums and unmeasurable decibels of whining that went on in front of two opthamologists, one tech and two nurses. Is it wrong to be embarrassed by a toddler? Does it matter whether it's right or not? Can I send him to military school only on select days?

I think parenting makes you let go. Of ideas of yourself, of images of yourself as a parent, of your selfishness and self-centeredness and of your time and money. Maybe the difficulty with Toby lately lies in me.

Or maybe he's just incredibly clever and wants to find every last one of my buttons. He likes buttons. I hope I don't show him my frustration too often, and I'm pretty sure it's because he's generally mellow that his less-fine moments undo me so quickly. Man, am I happy to know about the concept of grace because I need a buttload right now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Budget Plan for 2009

Here's a quote I put on the back of a photo in our Christmas cards, and I am sticking an extra one in my wallet to remind me not to spend all my money on junk because then when I pull it out for some cute turtle I'll be sad to realize I've only got lint*.

"The very nature of Joy makes
nonsense of our common distinction
between having and wanting."
~C. S. Lewis

Toby is eating snow and Isaac is wishing he could. I am just thinking, Man, I wish we could figure out a way to get J in this picture without digging out the tripod.

*Anybody else old enough to remember that educational cartoon, yo?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Isaac's Year-end Round-up

Isaac has been teething. He's had two big teeth on the bottom, perfect for all his lucrative exploited child modeling contracts. Now, he appears to be adding on in the upper story. Poor dude attempted to eat our entire couch the other day.

I think he's more adventurous than Toby was. He gets himself into the strangest trouble. A few months back we broke a wine glass and even with both of us cleaning it up I almost lost my mind the next day when I looked up to see him start to gum a largish shard. Somehow no blood was shed.

Tonight he made his distress sound (kind of like a dust-buster's whine) when he got himself stuck under the train table. As he ramped up into the "no, really, I'm in pain" octave, I sprinted over and pulled out the drawer to extract him. Turns out he was sort of half stuck in that drawer, so when I pulled it forward his head smacked right into the table's edge. Some rescue, sigh. Parent of the year moment, right there.

Lucky for me he's an easy boss. Lucky for him he figured out how to sleep twelve (12!) hours just after Thanksgiving and has not backslid at all. We were this close to shipping him off to a nunnery.

Actually, at my last recital I played this incredible piece written for voice by Samuel Barber and the text was all based on a vision of St. Ita about Mary's nursing Jesus. Talking about breastfeeding the creator of the universe seems kinda creepy or maybe kinda Hindu, but the text is pretty cool. I know the words don't exactly come through the viola so much, but I do look at it and I usually read a bit of it when I'm performing.

My fav line: Infant Jesus at my breast, Nothing in this world is true.
There's a version on Youtube of everything these days, ain't there?

I am feeling very sentimental at night when Isaac's getting settled for bed. I guess I will miss this season... he makes little hummy sounds until I sing him something. He also giggles if I lift his feet & drop them, and bats away my hand if I play with his ears. They're hard to leave alone, who could blame me?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Almost ChristMishmash

Okay, the holidays are screaming through our calendars and I haven't had a second to think. It's just the way it is for musicians, or at least for musicians who want to buy stuff. Here are some things I've seen in the last few months that I'd like to either remember or forget.

A very bad Messiah bass singing with the face of a perpetually stunned fish.

A wind player who laughs with no sound except rushing air. And it's oddly loud and usually pretty long. Maybe it's some kind of fancy diaphramatic exercise? Everyone looks at their feet kinda when she does it, because she's a nice person with a strange laugh.

Toby declaring "I think maybe Isaac needs a nap" when he was only crying because Toby pushed him.

Toby spontaneously patting Isaac's head and saying, "I love eeyooou." He always uses his really high-pitched voice to say that.

Isaac growling & clicking his tongue at my Mom. They have their own special language, those animals.

A conductor who turned completely away from half the orchestra and then couldn't figure out why we didn't follow his strange tempo adjustments. Somehow I did not find his shoulderblades musically inspiring.

A very sweet slightly challenged man trying to give me and my pianist a copy of his paper after a recital so we could read the article about animals he had found interesting. This man (white, mid-40's, glasses & plaid shirt) had salt & pepper hair with a trim beard and a few long fat dreadlocks hanging down his back. They looked like afterthoughts, and I'm pretty sure they just kind of happened to this guy. Otherwise until he spoke you would have thought from his look that he was a professor of geology or an engineer.

An empty spot on my calendar... this Saturday! We are going off the grid to mangle us up a tree.