Category Archives: Family


I was devastated to learn yesterday that I was outbid in an ebay auction on an original piece of art titled “Inorganic,” drawn by my daughter-in-law.   Matt and Robbi have introduced a periodic auction  on their blog Idiots’ Books where they feature one of Robbi’s creations for sale most weeks.  I love her stuff, and am convinced that when she becomes famous they will be worth enough to make up for what happened to my 401-K last year.

But this round of bidding wasn’t about making an investment.  I had wanted to buy the picture for my grandson Orin’s birthday second birthday, coming in May.  As the bidding intensified, I queried both of my daughters to make sure that I wasn’t bidding against one of them.  The competition was fierce, and ultimately I was done in by ebay’s automatic bid feature. I set my top bid pretty high, thinking that if I needed to spend more than that to get the picture, Lindsay would probably rather that I just make a contribution to Ori’s college fund.   It is always difficult to go down in defeat.  What rubbed salt in the wound was ebay’s artificially intelligent attempts to make me feel better by offering to let me buy, by way of consolation,  many other items, mostly textbooks, with the word ‘inorganic’ in the title.  The silver lining is that in bidding up the price of “Inorganic” I helped Robbi come a little bit closer to what her art is actually worth.


A day of reading

I had a lot to do today.  I am the kind of person who makes lists, and my list was formidable.  But it was snowing, and lovely.  My daughter Andy is still here post-holiday, but will return to Nashville soon.  Dean had to work at 3, so there was no possibility for a full-day outing.  And I am still a little emotionally exhausted from my father’s death two weeks ago.  So, uncharacteristically, I allowed myself to be derailed by two inveterate readers, and I spent several hours reading Kate Atkinson’s When will there be good news? The title was compelling, and the story was absolutely engrossing.  Thanks, Dean and Andy, for helping me slow down.

A sweet year, with luck

Today is the first day of 2010.  None of us was sorry to see it come, since 2009 ended with the passing of my father.  My dad was iconic, and, when I am able, I’ll write a little about his life and accomplishments.  For now, it is too raw.

Yesterday, in anticipation of this day, I mixed up a batch of my famous cinnamon rolls, and a pot of Hoppin’ John (Black Eyed Peas.)  The cinnamon rolls are a family tradition, usually enjoyed on Christmas morning.  No one minded the departure from tradition when I pulled the fragrant rolls from the oven this morning.

The Hoppin’ John received a less enthusiastic reception.  I admit, it isn’t as aesthetically appealing as cinnamon rolls.  But this family needs LUCK.  And everyone knows that if you want a lucky year, you have to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s day.   So 80% of family members in attendance had at least a taste of the Hoppin’ John.  I thought that it was delicious.  Let’s hope that it works.  Happy 2010, everyone!

A weekend with Grandchildren

There is a reason that they are called “grand” children.  These babies are so much more perfect in every way than I remember their parents being at this age.  Or at least, in those rare instances that they are being difficult, there is someone available to hand them off to.  This weekend we had the rare pleasure of having the babies visit (from Oregon and Maryland) at the same time.  The last time they were together, they were really too young to appreciate each other.  That has all changed.

Alden (who is two months older, and two pounds lighter) is much more sophisticated.  She is capable of carrying on conversations on the telephone.


And is training for the 2026 Olympics.

P8150079Ori prefers to remain on dry land, but, spurred on by cousinly competition, has agreed to train for the luge.

P8150097There was some sharing and some not sharing.

P8150069There were tasty treats, like cinnamon rolls.

P8150068And popsicles.

IMG_1856-thumbThe adults had some odd ideas about what might be fun for the babies.

P8150096But generally the babies were good sports.

And, as grandparents, Dean and I just got to enjoy them.  P8160106I could get used to this.


Loving diesel

Three weeks ago, Dean and I bought a new car.  Ostensibly, it is my car.  In fact, of the 367 miles that we have put on it to date, the vast majority have been “his” miles.  The car is a Volkswagen Jetta Wagen, TDI.  That TDI stands for, I think, turbo-diesel injected.  Translation:  This car is going to get really good mileage. It is also beautiful.

One of the cool things about the display in the car is the DTE (distance to empty) indicator.  When we got the car, it registered 400.  As we drove it, the DTE number increased!  Our official odometer reading is now 367, and the DTE is reading (drumroll) 200!  I drive it very little, and I do a lot of coasting.  I am mezmerized by the display.  I know that eventually I will have to fill the tank, but getting “free miles” until then is pretty satisfying.

Mixed Marriage

Dean and I don’t always agree.

For instance, he is a night owl, while I am definitely a morning person.

Recently we had a disagreement about bicycles.  We both love to ride, and for a couple of years we have been researching  travel bikes.  These are bikes that are able to be packed in a standard suitcase.   (My desire for such a bike was recently reinforced when my beloved Trek was badly damaged by FedEx when I shipped it home from Florida.)   My investigations led me to Bike Friday, a company based in Eugene, Oregon, which is generally acknowledged to be the leader in packable performance bicycles.

I fell in love with the Pocket Rocket Pro Petite, and ordered one  custom built to my measurements.

This is what it looks like, except that mine is British Racing Green.

It is small and light, and I can take it apart and pack it in under 10 minutes.  It has excellent components, and it rides as well as my Trek.  If you have never seen a Friday before, you will probably be struck by the fact that it has small wheels. Honestly, you don’t notice it when you are on the bike, but Dean couldn’t get past it.

Instead, he decided to order a Bilenky. Bilenky is a real person.  This guy.

Dean went to his workshop, in a pretty sketchy part of Philadelphia, to order his bike.  It is  a custom-made steel bike with an S&S coupler connection.  The connection makes it possible to disassemble the bike and it just barely fits in a square (but still airline-compliant) suitcase.  However, it is MUCH more complicated to assemble and disassemble the bike.  More than I wanted to take on.  But Dean is delighted with it.

Given our experience in failing to agree on travel bicycles, I dreaded the negotiation that would be required to purchase our new car.  For a decade I have wanted to get a hybrid, and the last time (6 years ago) that Dean and I bought a car I got out-voted and we ended up with an Acura.  I began this round favoring the 2010 Prius and the new Honda Insight.  But then my son Alex suggested that I look at the Volkswagen TDI Jetta Sportwagen.

We began looking in December.  (Looking was complicated by the fact that all three of these cars are very popular, and hard to find.)  Eventually, (miraculously) Dean completed his “due dilligence”  and we agreed that the VW was  the car for us.

We took delivery last Thursday, and we are really pleased with our purchase.    We have driven the car 300 miles, and have barely made a dent in our first tank of diesel fuel.  Thanks, Volkswagen, for promoting  harmony in this mixed marriage.

1,000 hours

Counted cross-stitch embroidery is a very slow pastime.  To do it you have to pay  attention to sometimes-complicated graphs which indicate where to place the x’s, and what colors they should be, but it is basically mindless.  Since my work requires me to engage my brain for long hours at a time,   I have long been attracted to cross-stitch for its ability to induce a zen-like trance.

Hence, when I found a really cool cross-stitch project involving primary-colored dinosaurs, I enthusiastically began to work on what was to become my grandson’s first birthday present.  That was during college basketball season.  By March, when I left for my cross-country bike ride, I had finished about half of the embroidery.  My roommates on the trip were treated to updates each night as we settled into our quiet evening routines after an energetic day of riding.  I finished the bike ride before I finished the dinosaurs, and so I took it on our river cruise vacation in May.  Then I took it when I went to visit my family in Atlanta.  Ori’s birthday came and went, and I was almost done.

With the embroider finally finished, I set out to make it into a rainbow-bordered quilted wall hanging.  This is how it looks.


If you look closely, you can see that T-Rex is holding a sign that proclaims “Orin Rules!”

He definitely does.