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What I Do Here

If you are here for genealogy, try this: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/tag/genealogy

I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.

Someone Called the Cops on My Kid

For regular readers: I'm a little behind on blogging; I'll do catch-up posts in the next day or so. I wasn't out of town, but there was a bunch going on. Unrelated to this event.

This morning, T. came in to wake me up (a second time -- he'd been in once already to make sure it was okay for him to go around the loop) and say there was someone in the garage to see me. I grabbed a robe and crocs and muttered, "It'd better not be Witnesses," and headed downstairs. I could hear the door to the kitchen from the garage was being held open and a man speaking in my kitchen before I was even down the stairs. A police officer had followed T. home.

He was extremely courteous and entirely supportive. A neighbor had called the police because my son was walking around the neighborhood -- he'll do the loop, and also walk down Spencer to a friend's house. Two marked cars stopped near him (slow day, I guess!), offered him a ride home, which he declined. He had a conversation with them and they grasped they he knew where he was and he knew where he lived so everyone came over to the house, where one (thank goodness only one) officer came in to chat with a parent to establish that yup, we know he's out and about.

This isn't precisely like walking to school. That's a timed, point A to point B, with an expected arrival time. T. walking around the neighborhood is not directed and can be repetitive. (Heck, it's pretty repetitive when I do loops around the neighborhood walking.) On the other hand, he is 11, careful around cars, polite to people and pets and generally well known. The police had no issue at all with what he was doing and the officer said, please get exercise every day, this is a great thing he is doing, kids need to get some independence, etc., everything you could possibly want.

We're not sure who called this in, or why. It's possible it is someone who has known T. and I for years, saw he was alone, wasn't used to that, wondered if perhaps I was lying unconscious somewhere and called it in on that basis. It's possible it was someone who saw T. the first time, thought nothing of it, saw him three more times and concluded he was lost and needed help finding his way home. Lots of kids with autism get lost or wander off, so it's a Good Thing to make sure an unattended kid who is wandering around has a safe point of contact to ensure that everything is okay, and calling a community helper like the police is better in many ways than approaching the child yourself.

But it was still pretty weird that someone called the cops on my kid. T. is excited and sort of hopes it happens again. He's going to accept a ride home in the police vehicle next time. "I'll get my own private police ride!", he said.
Today was A.'s birthday party. Her birthday is not for a couple more days, but this is the closest Saturday. We had her party at Altitude Trampoline park in Billerica. Everyone we were expecting came, altho a couple people were a little late. It was a nice group: people we know through R.'s job, people we know through the kids' school, people we know through therapeutic riding, my walking partner D.'s family. Everyone was very friendly with each other, nice conversations, a very good atmosphere. More adults got in on the action this time, too.

After the party, we went home and met my cousin J., who is visiting for one night. We were supposed to go apple picking, but it was canceled because some of the other participants were not feeling great (this cold/virus/wtf is really just bringing us all down). Instead, J. suggested that we go see a friend's studio in ArtSpace in Maynard, which is in the old Fowler Junior High school building (okay, it was probably something else before that, but honestly, I saw a plaque inside and that's as much history I have on that building). S. was really nice. Her art is very cool: multi media sculptural stuff using gloves and shoes and things with critters in them/made with them. Awesome stuff! Many, many, many artists in that space. I'm looking forward to going back sometime and I'm going to see if D. will go with me because I think she might enjoy looking at the art as well.

T., J. and I all went to the Pub on the Common, which was loud and unusually crowded. But we had a nice time.

R. got the dying disk fixed on his computer, so next week or very shortly after that I really should wrap up the taxes for 2015.

I ran roomba in the upstairs bathrooms and used the canister on some area rugs.

ETA: T. reminds me that I forgot to mention that we went to Ericsson's in Maynard, an ice cream stand about to celebrate its 80th year in business. They were closing up and only had two choices left: mocha chip ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Since R. wasn't there, I felt obliged to tell his crappy dad joke about raspberry beret. J., my cousin, claims that his dad humor was all of very high quality. Hmmmm. I asked J. if he knew about hoodsie cups. Even tho he lived for many years in Springfield, MA, he never encountered them (unsurprising -- no small children in his life at the time).
Since R. went hiking on Cannon earlier in the week, he worked this Friday. But he took a nap first because his sleep was disrupted. I went for a walk in the morning and he was gone when I came back. He had advanced the laundry that I had deferred because he was asleep so I folded and put away. I also ran roomba in the kids' bedrooms.

I had a pretty quiet day. I've been feeling low energy from coughing and/or cough medicine. One of the sitters is in upstate NY with her extremely aged father (centenarian) who is probably experiencing his last illness, so I took T. to Via Lago and then we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up the cake for A.'s birthday party on Saturday. It was labeled vanilla, which induced momentary panic, however, someone took the box apart far enough to eyeball the cardboard which was marked c/c, which is chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake. That should be the definitive answer. It had better be!

I made peanut sauce and cooked brown rice, since we had cooked chicken thighs (thank you, R.) and there are always vegetables to saute. I experimented with removing the garlic and onion; it tastes fine without them, and I didn't even add ginger back in to try to spice it up more.

ETA: T. points out that I forgot to mention we went to Rancatore's, an ice cream shop in Lexington near Via Lago. We did! Their decaf coffee/espresso machine was broken, so I didn't have anything. T. got ginger ice cream, size "micro". The "micro" size is the first reasonable sized serving ice cream I have seen in New England, and I've been out here for over a decade.
T.'s sitter is out of town visiting her aging father. We went to Solomon Pond mall, while A.'s sitter took her to play therapy. T. rode on the carousel, and then we went to the Horseshoe pub.

One of the bummer side effects of having a cold is it is That Much Harder to alternate reading pages with A., and thus That Much Harder to get her through her 15 minutes of reading M-Th.

Sad News

NOTE: I use initials for nearly all names in my blog. The T. in this article was our house cleaner NOT my son. My son is fine.

A neighbor came up my driveway today, clearly determined to talk to me. This always makes me slightly nervous, particularly when I don't recall ever having talked to this particular neighbor before (not a next-door neighbor -- a slightly familiar face from down one of the local streets). She wanted to know if T. was our cleaner. I said she had been. She wanted to know if I had any news of T. I said only that she had been in the hospital recently but I had heard nothing beyond that.

T. had been our cleaner for a while when she got sick and then didn't get better. I called the agency to say she was too ill to be cleaning my (or anyone's) house; shortly after that, she went into the hospital with pleurisy followed by a long recuperation. We had a different cleaner from the agency for a while, then that cleaner was no longer with the agency, then T. was working for us again. So when T.'s health began to decline again after a series of family crises, I had a strong sense of deja vu. As with last time, I also was terrified of the idea that T. might die while cleaning our home, because while I would have preferred she call in sick, she never did, and I didn't generally have the heart to send her away at the door. And whatever was going on didn't seem to be contagious.

I was sufficiently frustrated (with the deja vu and the uncertainty about what kind of cleaning my house might ever actually get) that I started doing the cleaning myself, and giving T. special projects that I tailored to how she seemed to be doing when I saw her. Her last work for us was while we were out of town, when she took up the foam tiles in the playroom, washed them, vacuumed and put the tiles back. I was initially happy (clean tiles!), then less happy (put back very haphazardly) and then outright pissed (ants under the tiles, presumably the tiles were put back wet). I texted her canceling a Monday morning cleaning and attempting a reschedule, because I had no sitters, both kids were home as school hadn't started yet, and we had other kids over for a playdate (with their mum, my friend). I didn't receive a reply, which surprised me.

That Thursday, I got a phone call from the agency saying T. was in the hospital but no further details and offering me an alternative cleaner, which I declined, then ended the contract. I expected that some weeks in the future, I would see T. drive by the house in her truck on her way to clean someone else's house and that's how we would know she had recovered. While I had repeatedly expressed the concern that she might die, and I really, really, really didn't want that to happen and especially not in my house, I was nevertheless not expecting to be told that T. had passed away. She was only a few years older than me, the same age as my husband.

T. was completely honest, probably the most indispensable trait in someone working in one's home, all of one's home. She worked hard. She was careful, and on those extremely rare occasions when something broke, she was always forthright and honest that it had happened, never trying to conceal it. She was unfailingly kind to my children, and to my friend who was often in or around the house before or after our walks together. She took a strong interest in the daily events of our lives and remembered stories we told; she shared parts of her life with us as well. I trusted her completely, and when I sometimes had to run an errand, she was kind enough to watch one of my children while I was gone and I knew my child would be safe with her. She left us a card at the holidays. She was always grateful for tips or other minor generosities.

T. was a good person, and the world is a worse place without her. My son immediately expressed concern for her children, and I share it. I hope she has finally found the rest that she was never able to allow herself in life.
I canceled out of book group last night when I realized that it wasn't just that I wasn't enjoying the book. It was the periodic, unstoppable coughing attacks that were exhausting me. I canceled out of Dutch lesson, because I am not going to be the person that gives the relatively fresh baby something awful just because I don't feel as bad as I did a week ago but am still coughing.

I made apple coffee cake yesterday and cooked A. some bacon. Then the bacon looked so good I made a BLT. Today, R. has gone up to Cannon to hike with a bunch of his/our ex-coworkers from DEC days. He left at around 6 a.m. and will return around 7 p.m. I got the kids out the door (heck, T. more or less does everything, right down to assembling the lunches. I came downstairs to find all the food components and boxes neatly arranged, waiting for me to cut up apples and made A.'s sandwich. This is a Helpful Young Man). T. dressed himself up nice for picture day; I suggested he bring a spare t-shirt and shorts in case the long sleeved button down plaid shirt and khakis he picked out turned out to be a little too warm. I found a new dress in A.'s closet for her to wear for picture day, and then put an apron on her while she ate breakfast so it would continue to look nice.

The old roomba left with D. after we had our walk and coffee and coffee cake. I've already watched last night's TRMS, and am debating the merits of a nap vs. reading about the grid. I'm betting the grid wins, altho I might get distracted by the new Kate Daniels book that I believe is awaiting me on the kindle.

New Fridge

While I was at the Cape, the fridge at my condo broke down. I thought that it should be simple: call Albert Lee with the dimensions, get a drop in Amana french door or other branded equivalent, have it installed and done!

Nope.

After a week of nothing happening (involving a site visit to determine that, yes, a drop in would work fine), I finally took matters into my own hands, switched to Metropolitan Appliance, switched to their installer. A second site visit established that YES, Priestess _can_ measure accurately and YES the drop in should be fine. There will still concerns about the location of the electrical outlet, because the old fridge had an outlet way up high and normal fridges have one lower down. I had this idea that Keith and I had future proofed by having both. Indeed, we had.

Keith did such a fantastic job on that kitchen. It was my Sports Kitchen. Other people get some money and buy a sports car. I got some money and bought a Sports Kitchen. I miss it still, but know that it is in good hands.

Thinking of Keith, I googled to see if I could find current contact information. Alas, no more.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?pid=174879904

Keith was a good man, who did careful, good work. He could get along with anyone at all, and make you feel happy and comfortable while he was ripping your kitchen apart and replacing it with something new and better. And both bathrooms, too. I'm sorry he's gone.
Chapter 1 sort of set me off, but until I hit this bit, I couldn't quite figure out why.

"And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men -- to feel whether this time the men would break...The children stood near by... and the children sent exploring senses out to see whether men and women would break. ...After a while [sic no comma] the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity [ed: basically, the author here just said "confused confusion". Yes, yes he did.] and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. ... Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole."

Yeah, okay. Whatever. Chapter 2 was a little full of itself, but was basically okay.

The first paragraph of Chapter 3 is a single sentence with over a hundred words, ending in this phrase:

"but each possessed of the anlage of movement."

Okay, that's bad. You're thinking, but the rest was probably okay, right? No. No it was not. "all passive but armed with appliances of activity, still, but each possessed of the anlage of movement."

This author is a pompous ass. I think I now understand both why I so carefully avoided ever reading this book before today (and I doubt I'll get through it now). I _also_ understand a lot more about why my ex-grandfather-in-law loved it so much. He, too, was a pompous ass, and he lived through the relevant time period and read the book when it was new, popular fiction.

I'm not going to mention the title or author; you shouldn't have any trouble working that out for yourself, but I'd just as soon people not randomly google their way into my blog or hate-tweet how feral and uncivilized I am for mocking what is widely considered classic American literature.

Also, why the infinitives in this sentence (assuming that is what they are)?

"The sun lay on the grass and warmed it, and in the shade under the grass the insects moved, ants and ant lions to set traps for them, grasshoppers to jump into the air and flick their yellow wings for a second, sow bugs like little armadillos, plodding restlessly on many tender feet." I really did reproduce this faithfully. I would never write a sentence like that, and I'm not sure why anyone let that sentence be published with that odd grammar, never mind the ongoing randomness of some of the comma choices. I really don't _have_ this problem with other fiction from the late 1920s/early 1930s, so what is going on here, anyway?

Chapter 3 is very short, and appears to be a belabored metaphor for the contents of the rest of the book (turtle laboriously climbs up a highway embankment, rests, continues, is nearly hit by a woman who in turn nearly crashes and is more careful, continues, is hit and flipped by a truck driver who aims for him but survives this encounter. Something about an oat seed along for the ride). I suspect that this author really wanted to be a poet.

Oh, look! In chapter 4, J. (look, if I give the name you are totally gonna know the book right off) says that JWs stayed at his family's house one time. (It's right before the preacher tells J. about no virtue and no sin, just stuff people do, followed by a dollop of the preacher experiencing immanence).

In Chapter 5, this, this, ugh.

"Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades -- not plowing but surgery ... Behind the harrows, the long seeders -- twelve curved iron penes [sic seriously wait for it] erected [har de har har it gets worse!] in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. ... No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died".

I get the whole earth, fertility, blah blah blah thing. That's ancient. But this? People really think this is great literature? This is purple, overwrought, ridiculous, absurd prose and it is also actually kind of bad from a farm policy perspective, too. It's not like the more labor intensive system which preceded the tractors was in any way good for the land. The dust bowl which failed the croppers out was an artifact of the earlier system.

Also, this paragraph is preceded by an interaction between the croppers and the banker/owners which I _think_ is supposed to make me sympathetic with the croppers or perhaps their ancestors, but really doesn't have that effect for me at all. More of a, hey, you[r ancestors] stole the land, you lose the land. You[r ancestors] killed to get the land, if you're smart you'll move along before the bigger, badder dudes kill you.

The Penguin edition's only end note for Chapter 5 is to explain "Spam". Really? You need to have "Spam" explained? Even with spam used for bulk/crap online messages/email, if you google Spam, you get product pictures right at the top. I can't imagine what they were thinking, that they needed to end note "Spam".

There's a really awkward two paragraph tenant monologue about property owning the owner when he has too much of it and is too distant from it. It is inserted in the middle of an interaction with a neighbor who has taken a job driving a tractor (and is eating a spam sandwich), and is advocating for jobs vs. cropping.

After the tenant farmer gets done threatening to kill the president of the bank and the board of directors and a bunch of other people (yeah, that's sympathetic), "the phalli of the seeder slipping into the ground".

Oh, look, in Chapter 6. Muley has ODD. Well, sure, I mean, with a nickname like Muley, what would you expect? Here is TJ's summary of Muley, in response to Muley's question about whether TJ is trying to tell him what to do. "No, I ain't. If you wanta drive your head into a pile a broken glass, there ain't nobody can tell you different." A bit later, here is Muley talking about himself, after noting that he has been told to go somewhere else, a place he _would_ have gone if he hadn't been told to do so. But, having been told to do so: "But them sons-a-bitches says I got to get off -- an', Jesus Christ, a man can't, when he's tol' to!"

Chapter 7 is a monologue of a car dealer. It is every bit as awful as you could possibly imagine. Supposedly, one of the favorite parts of Homer's work Back In the Day was the Catalog of Ships, which of course to any of us is just a list of names. Not entirely unlike that, is this chapter. (Yes, dear, I do recognize most of the makes and marques, altho I did have to look up Rockne -- a Studebaker -- and Apperson. And Star by Durant, which as near as I can tell was a kit car. Can't figure out why Chevvies is spelled with two v's; that's the verb, not the car. Mysterious. I think he had pushovers for editors; nothing else explains the mysterious and inadequately end-noted "Hymie" that occurs in the chapter.)

In Chapter 8, we read a paean to Mother J. which shows that while all other families are run by the men, the J. family is run by Mother. *sigh* This inconsistency bothers the author not at all.

Oh, man. And this book violates my long standing rule against books with awful birth stories in them. Jeez. Really, there is no limit to how much I dislike this book.
I took a few moments today after we were done with dinner (except A., who did not like the smell of brown rice cooking, and took her dinner out to the porch, where she has now asked me for three refills on her cup of water, wait, I think that is the fourth; she had fritos with her grilled cheese, berries and carrot sticks, so it is probably the head and the salt causing her to drink so much) to look at recent property sales in town. I have not done this in a while.

https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/ma/acton/113-central-street/pid_11508428/

Price history of the listing (which may have been listed, taken down and relisted -- I don't know) shows it originally put up in April for $375K. That suggests they hoped some nice young family would buy the house and live in it. One month later, it was at $325K. By the end of June it was at $299K. It sold earlier this month for $240K, which is almost _exactly_ what we calculated a buildable lot was worth in Acton some years ago (I believe we had it figured at $220K based on the purchases involved in our house and the neighbor's, which occurred during the tail end of the previous boom).

One of the adjoining lots seems to be apartments, so I would not be too surprised to see one go that way. Central Street is considerably busier than our street, but brilliantly located as a commuter location, either by car or to the train.

The listing does suggest a real conundrum for anyone owning a smallish (3 bedroom, 1 bath) post-WW2 (in this case 1954) house in Acton. You can _try_ to get what Zillow might think it is worth, as a single family home. But can you afford to wait long enough for that? And what are the alternatives? I feel like it ought to be possible for an enterprising homeowner to make a deal with a capitol poor developer, so that the developer does the work but does not have to purchase the land, and the homeowner gets to participate in gain, which they otherwise probably cannot realize through a sale.
Today, T. decided NOT to go to Honey Pot Hill Farms for apple picking, because it was raining and cloudy. Instead we went to the playground for a bit, and then off to Applebee's for lunch. After lunch, we drove around for a bit, because we were really early. Then we went to the horse.

There is no playdate this evening, because of illness. I vacuumed the drawers in the master bathroom after decluttering them. Nothing like having short hair for a while to make the long hairs that get everywhere really noticeable. They are not everywhere now! This was triggered in part because it turns out both kids really like to clean their feet, and I was looking for the pumice stones that I knew I owned (not for the kids, but if I'm going to be washing a bunch of feet I'm gonna do my own and as long as I'm there I might as well take the callous down a notch). But while I was in the drawers, I rationalized what went where, and moved some items out for disposal (mostly electric toothbrushes that I no longer use).

I finally decided it did make sense to have two cleaning kits, one for each floor. I don't like to do this, because the odds of one batch being ignored (or worse, both) becomes that much bigger). However, if I'm on one floor and the kit is on the other, and I just want to spend 5-10 minutes cleaning something, having to go up and down (or down and up) the stairs can be enough to stop me from doing it at all. So. 2 kits. Then I had to find a bucket for the kit, which we did not have a spare, until I realized that one of the waste baskets I was about to declutter from where it had been sitting unused on a closet shelf for ... years ... could act as a bucket and go right back onto that shelf in a more useful configuration. R. then suggested putting it on the floor in a different closet, which honestly, is a better idea simply from the perspective of What If Something Horrible Happens.

Yesterday T. and R. went ice skating for the first time in a while. T. is wearing size 8 sneakers and riding boots, however, the ice skating boot fitting guy thinks he belongs in a 6.5 wide. Which I don't doubt, but so many other shoes don't come in widths and also, we don't much care for lace ups, both of which tend to push one into larger sizes than one might otherwise be.

I've been reading about the roomba 980, and thinking about how it compares to our current model (780). I haven't actually decided yet to get a new one, but in the meantime, I'm going to pass along the one that had been sitting on a laundry shelf for ... years, to D.'s family if they want it, otherwise to someone else. Someone might as well be using it.

ETA: I vacuumed the basement stairs. This had not been done in a while, and I'm not sure it has ever been done quite so thoroughly because there is often something _on_ the stairs, waiting to move to some other location. It has been mostly clear lately (I think I got really mad a while back and threw a lot of things away. Everyone who says anger never accomplishes anyone clearly knows no one quite like me.); only one box to go further down. I had R. bring it the rest of the way down, find me a short-ish extension cord (I just need an extra 6 feet, really), and did it. I went slow. I was super careful. And you can now go up and down it in bare feet and not pick up anything. It is lovely. I'm sure it won't last.