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While he was still in Montreal Mungo wrote
I've read all the books I brought with me & half of my neighbors. When I come back to Colorado can I borrow some to take with me? (What I'm really asking is if you'll make me a pile that you think I might like)
I know it's a pain because you don't know what type of books I like & i apologize, I just don't really know what things I like in a book either as silly as it sounds

I do wonder where he is finding all this time to read, but let's not talk about that. In the twelve days he's been home he read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, all of Digger, Dodger, and now he's reading Swimming To Antarctica, which was one of his dad's suggestions.

When he was a little boy, I was very good at picking out books for him; the geeky little boy in me had excellent taste. It's been a lot harder since he started high school.

My suggestions so far:

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey
Fool on the Hill, by Matt Ruff
Moo, by Jane Smiley
All Over Creation, by Ruth Ozeki
The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Foreigner, by C. J. Cherryh
whatever I've got on the shelves by Kurt Vonnegut

I keep being tempted to put Oglaf on the stack, opening it, and realizing that no that would be weird.

ai yi yi

Jun. 15th, 2014 12:12 am
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I saw Mungo today and said, "Holy crap! What happened to you?" He has a red spot in one eye, and big livid bruises around it, and a dark shadow around the other.

He shrugged and made a deflecting gesture with one hand. "I got hit in the face."

"With what? By whom?"

"A fist."

"A fist? Somebody punched you in the face? Why?"

"I was talking to his girlfriend."

"One punch?" Nod. "Did you hit him back?" Headshake. "Is there anything you need to do to take care of it?" Shrug. "When did this happen?"


Monday! I haven't seen him, since he's been working or sleeping, but we have talked on the phone since then.

His nose is straight, but still swollen. It's probably broken, isn't it? A doctor wouldn't do anything with it, since the bone is in the right place, right?

How common is this, for boys? I don't think his dad ever punched anybody or got punched.

tax day

Apr. 15th, 2014 09:11 pm
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I filed our state and federal returns, nagged Mungo into filing his first tax returns (aw!), and filed an extension request for Nixie, because after I gave up on getting her to find time to do it with me, I discovered that one of her w-2s is missing. It's for the Indian restaurant that she worked at during her internship at UIUC. It's okay, I said, just ask them for a replacement. I have no way of getting in touch with them, she said. ARGH!

The most annoying thing is that it doesn't matter, it isn't going to raise her total to the point that she would owe any taxes, but I need it anyway!

She emailed the former roommates to see if they had it.

Mungo asked how much more of a hassle his were going to be next year, assuming he gets a job in Canada. I have no idea! I assume he still won't earn enough to owe anything, but that he'll have to file returns to that effect in both countries.
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I'm so pleased to tell you that Mungo will go to McGill next year. He applied to Nursing and Arts. Nursing accepted him. He hasn't heard from Arts yet. He doesn't know which he'll choose if he gets into both, but he is definitely headed for Montreal.


Nov. 2nd, 2013 07:37 pm
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Walking along Boulevard René-Lévesque from the train station to our hotel, I lagged behind Mungo. (short legs, old feet.) So I had a clear view of the guy in business casual, carrying a laptop, standing on the corner. Mungo stopped, put his foot up on a low wall, and bent over to retie his shoelace. Laptop Guy approached Mungo, looking him over. Then he noticed me giving him the Maternal Eyebrow of How Dare You. He sprang back just as Mungo stood up. Mungo noticed the guy jump back, and thought he might have been trying to pick his pocket. I suppose business casual would be good camouflage for picking pockets. Or maybe Laptop Guy was a reporter, waiting to meet some teenage street artist for an interview? But my first impression was cruising.

Laptop Guy, it's half your age plus seven, or you're a creep. And I don't mean the age you fondly imagine when you gaze into the mirror.

Oh Canada!

Oct. 1st, 2013 09:13 pm
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Mungo and I are going to Canada, to visit U of T and McGill, from October 16-22. We're going to fly to Toronto and take the train from Toronto to Montreal and back. I haven't booked hotels in either place yet. Do you have any advice? Price is the second most important consideration, after being able to get to and from the respective campuses. And the airports and train stations.

Would any of you like to see us while we're there?


Sep. 12th, 2013 09:48 pm
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This is what the creek at the bottom of the pasture at my husband's house looked like this afternoon:the creek
not the creek
and it has been raining steadily since then.

Mungo is at work now, planning to drive home to my husband's house tonight. I told him DO NOT DRIVE INTO A FLOOD. If you see water running across the road, turn around, stay in town tonight. I know he won't want to because he has no clean clothes here. He is a fastidious boy. Neal says the road between Fort Collins and his house is fine, and if that changes, the county will put up road blocks. They are on top of it.

Neal thinks Mungo's greatest danger is getting stuck in the driveway, which would be really quite inconvenient since Neal is flying to California tomorrow for his nephew's wedding. We'll see if Mungo has learned anything since April.
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My son, who has one more year of high school, is rethinking his decision to go to CU-Boulder, where he'd get in-state tuition, a perfectly good undergraduate education, and to go skiing every weekend.

I don't know where he got this idea, but he's considering McGill and University of Toronto. Canada is cool, he says. And Canadian universities are very reasonably priced for their quality. Did you know that? I did not know that. His father suggested the University of Minnesota, which is also excellent and has very reasonable out-of-state tuition, but Minnesota is not cool. (I do not understand how Canada is cool but Minnesota is not. Apparently it is an If you have to ask, you'll never know.)

So, what's it like, being an American undergraduate in Canada? Especially in Montreal? Will he be miserable and lonely if he doesn't speak French?
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There are some black and red currant bushes along the bike path near my house. The fruit is almost over. They are so tedious to top and tail, but so good! Flavors intense and varied. The first time I walked past with my husband I picked one and ate it then picked one and tried to give it to him.
He winced. "Pesticides!"
"They don't even water these poor bushes, why would they be out here spraying pesticides on the fruit?"
He hesitated, maybe thinking of the other things that could be on roadside bushes, then ate it and pronounced it delicious. He is willing to eat purslane from my garden, but probably not from the side of a bike path. We will not mention the fact that feral cats hang out in my garden.
There are some other bushes near the bike path, less than waist-high, with fruit that looks and tastes like a marble-sized plum. Any guesses?

I approve of edible landscaping. Very much. But there are places it is not appropriate. To make a large parking lot less hellish, what you want is shade. In the Foothills Mall parking lot, someone once planted dwarf apple trees. No shade to speak of, but the spaces around them are filled with apple smush in autumn.

I never eat the pickled ginger that comes with takeout sushi. I like pickled ginger, I just can't understand wanting to remove the taste of sushi. If Neal is around I give it to him; otherwise, I've been putting it in the freezer. For Neal's birthday, I decided to try candying it. One cup frozen pickled ginger, one cup sugar, one cup water, simmer until the water is mostly gone. It's good. I made him some more to take on his hiking trip with Mungo, but he wanted to leave it at home. He didn't want it to spoil in his backpack. "How do we preserve food without refrigeration?" I said. "We dry it, smoke it, salt it, pickle it, candy it. Candied pickled ginger is not going to go bad in ten days!" It didn't last ten days because he and Mungo ate it all in three.

I am really really pleased that my picky eater turned into an adventurous eater even though I never coerced him to eat anything he didn't want.

Oddly, Aiko is Sir Not-appearing-in-this-post.
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I'm planning a trip to Portland to see Nixie next semester. Would any of you like to hang out with me?

Nixie was here for Thanksgiving week. She had a tilt-table test, because she fainted again at school, so now we know she doesn't have postural hypotension. Not sure what the next step is.

Mungo turned sixteen, and got a set of wheels: a second-hand bike.

There's a movie I love, called Wilby Wonderful, that you can watch streaming, with commercials, on Hulu:

[personal profile] sasha_feather mentioned that it's also streaming on Netflix.

It is written and directed by Daniel MacIvor, who goes very light on the existential despair, for a Canadian filmmaker.

It has Paul Gross looking nearly as unattractive as is possible when you are Paul Gross, who gets to say the best line in the movie: )

It has Callum Keith Rennie, which is why I watched it, but not why I'm recommending it. Callum Keith Rennie has been in lots of bad movies and you don't see me recommending them, do you? All right then.

It's sad and sweet and funny, and morally complex, and humane:spoiler )

And if you watch it, then you can read there's a warm town in the shadow of you.
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Mungo won the Patrick Gilmore award, which his high school gives to its outstanding freshman music student. It's kind of a big deal.

I can't decide whether to tell my mother. Naches are a gift, you know? And people who look gifts in the mouth shouldn't necessarily be expecting to receive more. And in my last phone call I mentioned that Nixie has planned out her entire three remaining years at Reed, because she wants to take all fifteen Psych classes Reed offers and enough other things to fill an extra major or two, so she had to get permission from a prof to take a senior-level class next semester, but that was easy because it was the same prof who wants her to TA for the class she just finished.

And my mother said in this oh-dear voice, "Do you think she'll go on to grad school?"

And I said that although I thought it was silly to expect a college freshman to have chosen a career, Nixie was planning to be a neurobiologist, as she has since tenth grade, so there were necessarily going to be lots more years of school after Reed.

And I tried to keep my irritation out of my voice, but I must have failed, because my mother said, "Well, I'm just concerned for her. I don't know what she can do with a bachelor's degree in psychology."[*]

And this is a common occurrence in my conversations with my mother. About this time last year, I remember, my mother asked how Nixie's graduation went. I said it was fine. She said, "Didn't she graduate?" as if that were a natural followup to what I said. Yes, she graduated, with honors, from her honors IB program, with a National Honor Society tassel on her graduation cap, which she wore to her graduation. Which you would know if the cognitive dissonance you experience at anything good being produced by me had not erased that information from your brain.

It turned out that what she wanted to talk about was my awesome nephew's graduation, which she got to attend because my sister invited her. Still. "Didn't she graduate?"

[*]Recognizing this as concern-trolling makes me grateful to you, and you, and everyone who has made up my online social life. Vocal conversations are too quick and too ephemeral for me to understand much about what just happened there. I've learned so much about human interaction from written conversation, which sticks around to be studied, and especially from other people's comments on written conversation, which names concepts like "concern-trolling" and pins them up for study.
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So Friday was "Neon Day" at Mungo's school. Here is a photo of Mungo in an orange t-shirt, lime-green overshirt, and bright blue skinny jeans. At lunch he decorated his jeans and sneakers with pink tape, but I do not have a photo of that.

"People said I was very brave to wear my sister's pants to school," he said.
"Did you feel very brave?" I asked.
"Walking into school I was kind of uncomfortable, but then I was surrounded with my friends and it was okay."
"You didn't have to tell people that you were wearing your sister's pants."
"No, I didn't have to. Do you remember Laurel [lastname]?"
Of course I remember Laurel. She was on the Odyssey of the Mind team I coached when she and Mungo were in fifth grade. You never forget your OM kids.
"Well, when Laurel came in to school, she said, 'Those are Nixie's pants!'"

Hee! It's been four years since Laurel saw Nixie in those pants. I had to pick Nixie up from high school and race back to the elementary school to supervise my OM kids. I knew that every girl on that team had a crush on Nixie, but to remember Nixie's pants? After four years? Hee!

The take-home of the day: "I can't fit anything into these pockets!"
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So, that dog I mentioned last time: it turned out that he does need me.

He's terribly skittish. Afraid of noises. Not just loud noises. Afraid of doors. Afraid of stern looks from Kitsu, which is a rational fear since she thinks he needs a deal of home training.

He's very beautiful, playful, affectionate, and submissive. Doesn't lift his leg to pee. Terribly thin. His first night here he was too anxious to eat, but since then he has been eating like a 14-year-old boy.[*] He paces a lot. He has ear mites, and testicles; I must take him to the vet.

He lived two years at a puppy mill, and then two months with a very kind woman who couldn't keep him. She thinks he spent way too much time in a kennel. He's happy with other dogs. I brought my dogs to meet him: his ears and tail came all the way up while he was romping with Tai.

We didn't like -- and he didn't know -- the name his puppy-mill breeder gave him, so we have named him Aiko.

The woman who gave him to me warned me that he escapes at any chance, and runs himself to exhaustion. This would be a problem if I still lived at the dacha, but here, I have a big more-or-less fenced backyard, where Aiko romps happily with Tai.

[*]Speaking of 14-year-old boys, Mungo played in Tuba Christmas today. He plays the euphonium.


Oct. 31st, 2009 07:30 pm
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We've lived here for 21 Halloweens without one trick-or-treater, even when there were two little girls next door. That's how it goes when when your driveway is a quarter-mile right-of-way cut out of someone else's pasture. My kids used to go trick-or-treating with friends who lived in town. This is the first year Mungo (almost 14) hasn't gone; he would have gone if his friends did, but they didn't. He did go to a Haunted Corn Maze with them.

I meant to hand out candy at my house, but when I got there I realized that my lack of gutters + the recent blizzard + the current balmy temperatures = melting snow dripping on the heads of those who mount my front steps. So the better part of neighborliness was to leave my lights off.

I did clear away several big branches the blizzard had broken off the catalpa, which were obstructing the sidewalk, and swept up all the wet slippery leaves. Which means my brush pile, which I had been stomping down and hemming in with cinder blocks, has grown out-of-bounds again. Neighborliness is hard.

Nixie is having a movie night/sleepover at a friend's house. Hugh, Mungo, and I are watching the first season of Battlestar Galactica.

I called my mom back yesterday. She told me she had had surgery for breast cancer the day before yesterday. They caught it early and got it all, so no chemo, no radiation.

It's amazing that I've figured out how to have communication and relationships even as well as I have. Amazing, I tell you. I am grateful for all the help I've had from Hugh, Nixie, and Mungo.

I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year.


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