Monday, April 27, 2009

oh, to be a cat

I was home today, since I am working next Saturday. I spent the day cleaning, cooking and catching up on all those stupid errands that pile up and make me feel overwhelmed. It was a productive day, and I felt even more productive compared to the cats.

This is what they did ALL day, except for an ear twitch whenever a bird passed.



Sunday, April 26, 2009

you've come a long way, baby

This used to be Niko:

He's now one day old and he's already done so much growing:

Well, technically he's probably been doing more un-squishing than growing. But he's like a little man! In every picture he looks so peaceful and sweet, but my mom said she has heard him use his lungs. I think he looks a lot like Kim. She says he also looks like Dean's grandfather, who he's named for (Niko's middle name is Kzen, which was his last name, I believe).

A beautiful pic of mom and baby:

He's got a little bit of dark wavy hair:

He looks super cozy - I just want to pick him up and squeeze him!! Dean and Kim, you made one beautiful baby!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Welcome to the world....

little nephew Niko!!!! You are finally here and we are all immediately in love with you. Your mom waited a long time for you and it sounds like it took you a while to arrive during labor. I'm sure she forgives you for all this with one look at your cutie pie face.

Seriously, how cute is this little guy? Or not so little - 8 lbs. 14 oz. is a big baby! We're glad you are here and healthy, and I can't wait to meet you in a month!!

See you soon little one!!

Auntie Alysa

p.s. (Your Uncle Gabe and I hope to provide you with a cousin playmate in the not-to-distant future - I'll keep you posted on that one!)

An eventful Saturday

(1) I taught my first Reiki Level One class today. It was for work employees or volunteers and we had such a great group - 9 people. Two are older men who are veterans and marveled at their transformation from 'tough guys' to 'touch-feely' types, as they put it. It was such an honor to teach that class and I'm so excited about the work they are going to do! Part two is in one week, with more hands-on practice.

(2) Gabe and I plan to make burritos, play Mexican music, drink mojitos and get our Save the Dates out tonight!

(3) It's like 90 something degrees out!

(3) KIM'S IN LABOR!!!!! (Finally.) I'm so happy she's having a natural birth, since she really wanted that. I hear it's going as well as can be expected.... more news soon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well, I now never have to worry that I'm going to want to be a Zumba instructor. That is one potential ambition off the list. I'm 5'1" and I've never felt so gangly. BUT I have to say by the end of the class I found my hips, and did a mean cha-cha step around the floor. I also got very inspired by the Latin music, and I have an idea for a welcome event in Mexico :)

I came home and put on the food channel and there was Alton Brown, one of my new favorite people ever. How can a show be so clever, funny and knowledgeable at the same time?!! He knows everything about everything (who else knows to store carrots in bubble wrap to increase their shelf life to a month?)...and at this very moment he's fighting with a hand puppet about crepes and it's hilarious. Earlier he was trying to figure out how to fill crepes and he stalked around the kitchen to the theme music of 2001: A Space Odyssey. So clever! He's just amazing - I was an instant devotee.

Ok, enough blogging today. Niko, we expect to see you tomorrow - no excuses!!


Both my mom and stepmom have told me they love Zumba dance (see, you guys have something in common ;-) so I'm attempting it in about an hour. Hopefully no puking or fainting. I'm fed and hydrated and have more energy than usual for a Wednesday evening, so I don't anticipate any problems.

My supervisor at work suddenly left in the middle of the day last Friday. He technically resigned, but it's a very ODD departure to work there for many years, give no notice and not have another job. I am not getting the whole story, obviously, and that is okay. But I've met with him weekly since I started my job and the lack of closure is disturbing. Hopefully I'll catch up with him soon.

Gabe and I are getting save the dates out soon, even though I said that two weeks ago. We've had to revise our room contract a few times and I want to get that settled first. Gabe also decided he didn't like the site's save the dates so he came up with a good one on his own, but it's not quite done.

No Niko sightings's 42 weeks tomorrow. Kim is still holding out for a natural birth, so people please send some good birthing energy her way. And Niko, we promise you'll be greeted with lots of love!

Oh - I went to a patient's house today and they got a brand new puppy named "Millie".

And I'll leave you with another poem by another old favorite, e.e. cummings. I swear that this man is at least 60% responsible for my early love affair with the English language. A combination of parents and Emily Dickinson make up the rest.


i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
--i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
--i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)


Ok, time to Zumba!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

say hello

Try to comment just to test. Say hi!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Neruda restoreth my soul

I realized that the past few (six?) burnout months at work have coincided with a disturbing lack of reading on my part. I think I've always had a book close by since I could read. One of my go-to pleasures is curling up with a book. The fact that I cannot honestly remember the last book I read is so ODD, it's like saying I can't remember the last time I ate, or peed.

Mary Oliver says 'the world offers itself to your imagination'... and I've been consistently refusing the offer. So even if my stress and attention span temporarily does not allow me to read a novel, at least I can read poetry. Neruda, do your stuff:

Love for this Book
Pablo Neruda (which, I just found out today, is not his real name)

In these lonely regions I have been powerful
in the same way as a cheerful tool
or like untrammeled grass which lets loose its seed
or like a dog rolling around in the dew.
Matilde, time will pass wearing out and burning
another skin, other fingernails, other eyes, and then
the algae that lashed our wild rocks,
the waves that unceasingly construct their own whiteness,
all will be firm without us,
all will be ready for the new days,
which will not know our destiny.

What do we leave here but the lost cry
of the seabird, in the sand of winter, in the gusts of wind
that cut our faces and kept us
erect in the light of purity,
as in the heart of an illustrious star?

What do we leave, living like a nest
of surly birds, alive, among the thickets
or static, perched on the frigid cliffs?
So then, if living was nothing more than anticipating
the earth, this soil and its harshness,
deliver me, my love, from not doing my duty, and help me
return to my place beneath the hungry earth.

We asked the ocean for its rose,
its open star, its bitter contact,
and to the overburdened, to the fellow human being, to the wounded
we gave the freedom gathered in the wind.
It's late now. Perhaps
it was only a long day the color of honey and blue,
perhaps only a night, like the eyelid
of a grave look that encompassed
the measure of the sea that surrounded us,
and in this territory we found only a kiss,
only ungraspable love that will remain here
wandering among the sea foam and roots.

just a monday..

Today I went into work determined not to let it get me down. That lasted about 20 minutes. Oh well. To my credit, I didn't spiral into disgruntled rage. Seriously, how big of a deal was this incident? Not very. But then I started talking to a co-worker who was as burnt out as me and wanted to quit. That fanned the flames a bit.

But I did have a very nice visit with a 5 year old. (I mentioned her before - she lost her dad a few months ago and gives me big hugs when I visit.) There is a great book for kids - 'Tell Me How to Grieve' - that has kids draw out their feelings and has a few sentences to normalize the grief response. Her mom had gotten it for her but forgot about it. Then last night she finds it filled out - the little girl has stayed up at night working on it. There was a heartbreaking picture of a tear-filled stick figure under 'my feelings', and under happy memories, a picture of her on her dad's shoulders as he helped her across the monkey bars. I asked her to fill out the 'angry' page when I was there, and she drew a stick figure with a red mouth. She kept going over the mouth, saying lots of make-up can hide her mouth, and people won't know she's angry, then. When I asked what she does when she's angry she said 'I try to breathe a lot' - smart little girl! Then we played with the dollhouse and she had the mom give birth to a baby boy (I'm taking that as a good omen for Kim!). She repeatedly had the dad die, then the mom, and we had to go find them in heaven (we fly up there with superpowers, of course). It was very sad to see her asking over and over to hear their voices - she couldn't hear them as hard as she tried.

After work I went to the gym. I hadn't been there in 2 weeks since I was in NJ... and I have to go 12 times a month for reimbursement. So that leaves 8 more visits the rest of April! I had quite a terrible time at the gym. I went on the elliptical. Today is the Boston Marathon, and I ruminated about how out of shape I was. I forewent (nice! hardly ever get to use that word) the earphones, because I thought it might be a good time to do a sanskrit mantra to help my mental state. I feel like I've just been too stressed about work and other things, and I'm trying to help myself KNOW that I choose my reaction to potential stressors - I really don't need to end every day curled up in a ball exhausted and frustrated and near tears. So, I thought a nice mantra would help my energy. Good thought, but not especially practical at the gym. Even though I had no earphones they had background music. I tried to match the mantra syllables to the rhythm of the machine but it conflicted with the music and all the other sounds around me. I tried saying it under my breath, which helped. I wanted to focus my eyes on something but since I was on the elliptical I started getting a bit seasick. I then closed my eyes, and realized I was on some gym machine with my eyes closed and muttering under my breath. I also felt disoriented (I really believe I have some sort of undiagnosed sensory integration disorder - I find it impossible to use a treadmill, for example, and numerous other weird things Gabe will attest to). So in any case I made it 12 minutes and stepped off, feeling like a wimp compared to all the marathoners. Ugh. Then I took a few steps and thought I was going to faint and puke, or puke and faint. I really don't know what the problem was today, but I was just not feeling the gym, AT ALL.

Then I left and went food shopping, which was mostly relaxing. I came home and made a nice dinner. I can't find the camera but here's a description. I stir fried chorizo with garlic and onions. Then I put it in a lidded pot with red pepper, cannelini white beans, parsley, and diced tomatoes. I let it warm in the oven til Gabe got home (at 9) and then broiled cut-up pita bread with olive oil, salt and parsley. On the plate I put baby spinach, the chorizo mixture on top with some cucumber, side of pita chips, kalamata olives and hummus. So good!

Oh yeah, and I stopped at the liquor store. We don't exactly have money for such expenditures, but I bought it with our winnings from the casino. But I guess when you buy your booze because of gambling, it really doesn't make it better :-0 That's really funny, now that I think of it! (Disclosure: this paragraph is not fully representative of who I am.)

In other typical Monday news, I am still not an aunt. I'm thinking good thoughts, and hoping Kim goes into labor naturally before Friday. Get out here, Niko!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Still not an aunt...

Niko is pretty overdue now. Here's Kim's 41 week picture, taken on Thursday. It's a bit blurry, but I liked her expression. I want to make a cartoon bubble that says, "Are you serious?"

Nature has until Friday to get the baby out into the world, or Kim will be induced - something she really doesn't want. So think good labor thoughts!! And Niko, get your stubborn butt out here!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To Grandmom

At grandmom's wake so many people knew her when she was young: childhood friends, cousins, co-workers... I just always thought of her as Grandmom, like she was born that way. It made me sad, to think I only knew this side of her, but it's also so special, the relationship she had with her grandchildren. So after the wake I wrote this, and read it (haltingly, with tears) at the funeral. It's not especially poetic, but I'm sure Grandmom forgives me that :)

I am jealous of an angel
You met
the day before you died.
Who could be there,
When I could not.

I imagine a patient angel,
Waiting for you to know it was time.
Wings at peace, a gentle smile.
I am comforted by her comforting of you.

You loved your family more than anything.
So I know your graceful letting go, of family, of home,
Of breath,
Had no fear.

I am jealous of your reunions, those
Heavenly embraces. And I’m awed by their strangeness:
Those perhaps calling YOU grand-daughter,
And reminiscing about stories I’ve never heard.

There are so many stories I will never hear.
So many black and white pictures out of context.
I cannot picture your face when you were my age.
Because you are my Grandmom.

One role of many, I now realize.
But to me you are eternally Grandmom,
Eternally kind, loving, forgiving,
Eternally cherished.

Overdue date

Here's Kim last Thursday, on her due date.

It's now five days later, and no baby. Kim believes that since Grandmom's funeral is over now, she'll have time to watch over her and Niko. What a wonderful guardian angel to have! Kim thinks she'll go in labor tonight and have the baby tomorrow. Cross your fingers - we can't wait to meet the little guy.

Natalie and I have booked flights for the last weekend in May so we'll get to spend some quality time with mom and baby. And in San Francisco! I've promised Gabe I'll come back.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Goodbye, Grandmom

On Tuesday evening I found out that my grandmother was not doing well. She'd been sick for a while and wasn't rallying again like others suspected she would. She shared with my aunt on Tuesday that an angel was watching her all day from the corner of the room. Anyone in hospice (and probably anyone in general) knows what that means. The veil was lifting for her, and I wanted to come down to NJ to say goodbye. My aunt said I didn't need to do that immediately, and so I planned a trip down on Friday.

However, Wednesday night the doctors said 24 hours or less...and two hours later she died. I spent a while upset that I didn't follow my instinct and drive right down. But now I realize that Grandmom probably didn't want to cause a scene, or didn't want everyone to see her like that. It happened the way it needed to happen. You can read a really beautiful description of her death on my aunt's blog (Unsolicited Rants, to the right).

My grandmom and pop were to celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary later this month. They are the rock of the family, always together, in the house my grandfather built. Here is their wedding picture:

And here is my Grandmom on her honeymoon - I think she's 23 here:

I miss her so much already, but she's left us with so much love and memories and for that I feel blessed.

And here is an uncovered memory, which was found amid old photos, written in Dec. 1984. It's charming since it is so innocently tactless.

Here is the front of the letter, saying I MIGHT give her a trip to the circus for Christmas:

It is strange for us, here, because Grandmom's death comes right at the time of Niko's birth (he's not here yet, but it's his due date). Usually that circle of life and death is not so literal, and you can pretend day to day that you not getting older, not heading towards your own death. But this is a stark reminder, and not-so-subtle stepping into the next generation. For me that starkness is blended in with a grace that is so hard to describe I just am not going to attempt it right now.

On a side note, Kim has accepted Grandmom's rule that we are not to name our children after her, so Niko will not be dubbed Mildred.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


lately i've been feeling like a rubber band stretched to its limits. (bet you didn't know i was so good at similes.) so -snap!- there i went yesterday. many tears, a sleepless night, and a feeling of general helplessness.

apparently i can't handle job exhaustion, impending poverty, a messy house, delayed spring, overdue newsletter deadlines, a reiki class i'm teaching, wedding planning, etc. and a very ill grandmother all at once. i did an inventory of our finances last night with some shocking results...when gabe offhandedly commented we could have a yard sale I.JUST.LOST.IT.

i won't get into details, but our expense/income ratio is sustainable for maybe one or two more months. so we need big changes, quick.

i'll admit there is something relieving about this. we've been at or near, or moving towards this point, for a while now. somehow we always hang on by a thread - which uses up a lot of energy. to just let go, and say this isn't working anymore... well there's some peacefulness in evaluating the fallout instead of using all your energy holding it together.

also, say a prayer or good thought or whatever you may do for my grandmother in new jersey who has been on a rough road of late.

i can tell i'm overtired from all my overtired metaphors.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

waiting for introductions

Here is Kim's 39-week belly picture. Niko's due date is just 5 days away now! Kim says she is doing well and definitely feeling ready. I know we all can't wait to meet him.

three soups

Saturday was a day of major procrastination. And seeing how I'm starting out Sunday blogging, I'm not so sure this day will be different.

I made three different soups. The first was a creamy potato-rosemary soup. This was mostly based on a recipe. The second was an improvised sausage, tomato, white bean soup that came out very yummy. The third was my big experiment. I made Orange Soup. First I roasted a bunch of orange things: yam, carrot, onion, and butternut squash.

Then I put it in a pot with vegetable stock (Better than Bullion, highly recommend), and added cumin, cayenne, Indian spices I forget now, and lentils. I was going to add some pureed canteloupe but it was already sweet enough. My plan was to serve it with yogurt and raisins. But I got caught up in wedding planning, we had a minor fire in the basement, and I was up way past midnight, and somehow my wonderful soup spent the night on the stove. Boo :( Gabe thought it was probably okay to eat but I saved him from himself.

I also made a lemon-ginger tea bread that I would alter if I made again. More ginger, more lemon, less fluffiness.

Today I will not spend the day in the kitchen. I will do all my work. I will do all my work.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Here is my Haymarket rosemary. I put Ookie in the picture to show scale, but keep in mind she is a huge cat. I just finished a creamy potato-rosemary soup which came out great. Now I have on the counter cannelini beans, sausage, diced tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and onion. I figure I can't go wrong making a soup with that. (I also have spinach, but worry about the swampiness.)

I made a mango, strawberry, banana smoothie earlier - yum! - and am now also on a dessert venture.

In case you don't know, cooking is one of my best tools for de-stressing... but also is my top choice for procrastination.


Today we swung by Haymarket, which is a huge, crowded, in-the-city produce market. I mistakenly thought it'd be 60 and sunny today. It was cloudy, 50 with intermittent rain and massive winds. Oh well. We got lots of fruit and vegetables (i.e. 8 limes/ dollar; 2 cartons of strawberries for $1.50 - awesome!). This is in addition to my food shopping from yesterday, so now I'm in cooking mode.

I got this huge beautiful spring of rosemary and am going to try making two different soups with it. I had already planned to make steak fajitas tonight so I picked up jalapenos (1.00/ pound and they're perfect!). Every time I cook with jalapenos I nearly end up in the hospital but I'm determined to be careful this time. So anyway, the whole point of this blog entry was to say that I looked up jalapeno soup to see if there was such a thing. Apparently there is, and I clicked on 'cream of jalapeno soup' - thinking it would be a good side for fajitas. Here it is:

OH MY GOD! Is that correct?? EIGHT cups of heavy cream? Reduced by a third? Ugh. That might send me to the hospital too, for bowel masochism. Needless to say, I'm not going to be making it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

mandatory vacation?

I had my biweekly meeting with my boss and she suggested I leave early today. In fact, she strongly suggests I take a few days off. She basically said I looked awful, and was not my energetic self.


Anyway, enough work posts for a while...............


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