Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

In the old, pre-children and wife days, it was my unintentional tradition to wake up late on New Year's Day with a debilitating hangover. Times change. This year we got some Chinese takeout, watched a little TV, tuned in to see the ball drop in Times Square, then went to bed early. So with no exciting drunken exploits  to report I’ve decided to deconstruct the pile of ‘fortunes’ from the pile of fortune cookies we consumed (I brought Zoe into the restaurant and used her to collect the extras).

Someone is speaking well of you at this very moment: This was from the cookie Zoe opened at the restaurant while we waited for our food. My guess is that it was Grandma.

You will be surrounded by things of luxury: I’d like to take this opportunity to give thanks for everything we already have; although it would be cool to have an iPhone.

Something on four wheels will soon be a fun investment for you: Unless it operates by remote control and can be driven around my back yard, I really can’t imagine what it could be referring to. Unless it has something to do with the next fortune.

A pleasant surprise is in store for you soon: I’m going to defer to the previous two fortunes.

Success will come to your plans: Um, I don’t have any plans.

Tomorrow is good day for trying something new: Maybe I should make a plan.

You will be showered with good luck tomorrow: I definitely need to make a plan.

You will inherit an unexpected sum of money within the year: This is not a very clear fortune. What exactly is an unexpected sum? A buck? The bad news is someone has to die for me to get that buck.

Nothing can keep you from reaching your goals. Do it!: Very apropos for a New Year fortune. I think my resolution was to lower my cholesterol level, a definite sign of my age. I could reminisce on New Years resolutions years past, but given my age I’ve forgotten most of them (and suspect some of them may have contributed to my cholesterol level).

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Christmas Vacation

Sung to the tune ofWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps

We’re heading to Big Sur as soon as she wakes up
While Ma-in-law soundly sleeps
I walk on the floor and I step on a Cheerio
Still Ma-in-law soundly sleeps
It’s Christmas day morning the presents are piled high
We’re waiting to open them
But we’ll have to wait more.

It’s just 6:00 AM Cal’s been up since 4:30
While Ma-in-law soundly sleeps
Now Zoe’s awake and we’re all getting grumpy
Still Ma-in-law soundly sleeps
I drive Cal down the coast it’s amazing
Too bad it’s completely pitch black
I return after one hour
But now he’s sleeping in back.

Two days in a row now that no one is sleeping
While Ma-in-law soundly sleeps
I need coffee...
Still Ma-in-law soundly sleeps.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Birdfeeder

I picked up a hummingbird feeder recently thinking Zoe might enjoy watching the tiny birds float in the air. I hung it by our back door and filled it with sugar water. Rather than bringing up the ladder I used Zoe's plastic slide, which wasn't quite high enough. Although I was balanced precariously on the slide, which flexed ominously, while sugar water poured out of the feeder down on me, I didn’t fall, and there was still some feed in the feeder. Now all we had to do was wait for the birds.

Success! Hummingbirds started showing up. “Zoe, look! A hummingbird!” “What’s that?” “It’s a hummingbird.” “Why?” “Why what?” “Read me a book, Daddy.” Zoe was unimpressed. I tried explaining that hummingbirds can flap their wings as fast as 90 times per second. Still she was unimpressed. No matter, Alison and I and the cats enjoy watching the birds. However, suddenly the cats seem to be showing up with more hummingbirds than usual, and having floor-to-ceiling windows seem to confuse to tiny birds, since they seem to be bouncing off them at an alarming rate.

Flying into a window is usually lethal to a bird, but sometimes it just knocks them silly.
It is my job to protect them from our cats until they have recovered enough to fly. Yesterday, after a hummingbird flew into a window (and failed to die), I picked him (her?) up just as both cats made their appearance in the yard. The bird had recovered enough to perch on my finger, and seemed to tighten its grip when the cats started meowing. What to do? I had a bird in hand, in shock and possibly injured, and two cats licking their chops in anticipation. I could try throwing it as hard as I could and hope it recovered before the cats found where it landed (assuming throwing a tiny, delicate bird isn’t lethal). Finally I got tired of standing in the back yard holding the bird, so I placed him on top of the shed and hoped for the best. Harry, our cat, circled around to the back of the shed, and a moment later I saw him appear behind the bird. Harry pounced just as the bird took flight, and poor Harry stood there and watched as he flew away.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve put together Zoe’s Skuut, laid out the stockings, and shoved the last two peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies down my throat before anyone else could claim them. Now I can sit back and relax and reflect. This December marks the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death and amidst all the holiday cheer–the lights, eggnog, gifts, and endless variations of the Twelve Days of Christmas, making the rounds of friends and family with the kids dressed in their cutest outfits–I find myself now more than ever feeling her loss and regretting that my mother will never meet Zoe and Calder, and that they will never know her. However, I can take some joy knowing that, thanks in part to her, my children have a really cool and handsome father. But there is joy this season as well, and that is the Hanukkah miracle of the cat. A couple of weeks ago I opened the living room door for our cat Tucker at 10:00 in the morning, and nine days later he returned. Despite a cold snap and heavy rain during the period he was gone, he returned healthy and clean, and only slightly hungrier than usual. We can only guess where he might have been, but it certainly would have been a darker holiday without him. So, welcome home Tucker. And to my mom, if you're looking down on us, know that we're thinking of you (but please don't 'look down on us' when I'm in the shower).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dude Looks Like a Lady

Zoe, upon seeing a picture of the Pope on New York Times online.

"Who's that lady?"

Monday, December 14, 2009

News Flash – Child Breaks World “What” Record

This just in. A young child of approximately two and a half years of age has unintentionally surpassed the previous world record of beginning every sentence with the word ‘what’. The world record in this age group does allow for repetition, and this child used that clause to a great extent. For example:
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
  Child: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
  Father: “I’m eating an apple.”
The exhausted father of this extraordinary child could not get a word in edgewise to comment.

News Flash - Child Eats Breakfast!

This just in. A young child of approximately two and a half years of age has eaten all of her breakfast! The child’s father had prepared a slice of toast with cream cheese and two flavors of jelly (strawberry on one half, raspberry on the other), with the crusts removed as per the child’s instructions (Zoe no like!) and when he returned from the kitchen the entire slice had been consumed. The child then asked for some of mommy’s breakfast and was given an additional one-quarter bagel with raspberry jelly. This additional breakfast was fondled and slobbered on past the point of parental grazing, but was not consumed. The child’s father was near tears with pride and amazement with his daughter’s eating ability and noted that while she would often eat at least three quarters of toast with cream cheese and jelly, at least one piece would normally end up jelly side down on the floor.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Celebrating Hanumas: Religion and the Holidays

In our home we celebrate Hanumas, our own mishmash of Hanukkah and Christmas. We light the menorah candles and say the prayers (if mispronouncing and mumbling a phonetic translation counts as saying the prayers), but we also buy and decorate a Christmas tree, hang stockings by the fireplace, and open presents on Christmas morning. This contradiction is simple to explain. We are Jewish and therefore want to honor our history and traditions, but Christmas is more fun (besides, we figure Jesus was Jewish). However, we want our children to understand what these holidays represent and that it’s not just about presents (it’s not?), so recently I sat down with Zoe and tried to explain Christmas and Hanukkah to her. If you are new to this blog, Zoe is two and a half (which is why my descriptions sound like I am talking to a two year old).

Me explaining Hanukkah: A long time ago the Syrians and the Maccabees had a big fight. At the end of the fight a large celebration was planned. For the celebration, the Maccabees (the Jews) wanted to light the menorah. They looked everywhere for oil, and found only enough to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to go to the store and buy more oil. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night.
Zoe: Daddy, did you hear me fart?

Me explaining Christmas (the blasphemous version): A long time ago a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary were traveling at night and hadn’t booked a room ahead, so they had to sleep in a barn. The woman had a baby that night, even though Joseph hadn’t even kissed her. But the baby was very special and people showed up with cool presents so Joseph said what the heck. Christmas is the holiday that celebrates that little baby’s birthday.
Zoe: Daddy, I have a question.
Me: What’s your question?
Zoe: La la la la la!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Welcome to The Muzzy; DIY

Muzzy: Unable to think clearly; confused.

Welcome to the first post of The Muzzy, a blog devoted to my kids Zoe (formally and Calder (formally, and to the random and esoteric detritus that passes through my head. It’s no longer just about the children. So to start...

Above our kitchen door is a small window that, when open, provides a comforting breeze on warm days, and is the source of every yellow jacket that makes it into our house. At night, if I leave it open, the kitchen lights attract no less than one hundred thousand insects. After living with this for about five years, I found, on a recent trip to the hardware store, a DIY screen kit for only ten bucks (plus the cost of the screen and the special ‘screen and spline installation tool’, know in the biz as a ‘screen and spline installation tool’ or SSpIT) so decided to finally tackle this project. The instructions listed 4 simple steps:
1. Measure the window.
2. Cut the frame to size.
3. Assemble the frame with the included plastic corner pieces, making sure the frame is square.
4. Attach the screen using the SSpIT to press the spline’s into place.
Here are the 10 simple steps I followed.
1. Measure the window no less than five times.
2. Cut the frame to size using the wrong hacksaw blade to insure that the cheap aluminum frame is ragged at the edges. Be sure to cut on an uneven surface to insure an uneven cut.
3. Build frame, being sure to slip at least once to remove some skin from one knuckle. Do not verify that the frame is square. Do not check its fit into the window frame before the next step.
4. Attach screen. This step should be done on the cluttered living room floor next to the seven-month-old child. All parts should be closer to the child than you think. Remove various parts from child’s mouth. Be sure to press the SSpIT too hard so that it slips at least once, creating a one-inch slit in the screen. Use a dull kitchen knife instead of a box cutter to trim extra screen (because you’re too lazy to make a trip to the tool box). Stand back in amazement when the screen does not look like a pair of ill-fitting stockings.
5. Attempt to place completed screen in window frame. Discover that the screen is 1/8th to big in one direction. Swear.
6. Remove spline’s and screen.
7. Gently attempt to dismember frame, trying not to damage the cheap plastic corner pieces. Do not use a rubber mallet to gently tap the pieces apart, since this requires a trip to the toolbox. Simply brace the frame against the porch and whack with your palm. Break one corner piece in the process. Decide to proceed anyhow.
8. Re-cut frame, being sure not to measure, because 1/8th of an inch is easy to estimate. In the process of reassembling, discover that another corner piece is broken. Decide to proceed anyhow. Using Superglue, reattach frame, being sure to hold the pieces for at least forty of the recommended sixty seconds. Ignore the visible unsquareness of the frame. Do not verify that the frame now fits into the window frame.
9. Move the project to a flat surface, preferably the porch so that random pieces can fall through the cracks.
10. Reattach the screen. Stand back in amazement when the screen still does not look like a pair of ill-fitting stockings. Shake your head in awe and pride when the screen fits perfectly into its designated space.