Tag Archives: other people’s kids


I did some physical therapy the last few months and my referral was on the east side of town. I would take the bus from the office to get over there. One day giant group of high school students was at the bus stop. When the bus door opened, one of them asked, “Can my whole class fit on the bus?”

The bus driver waved them on.

They piled on in their teenaged squirrely glory. They were doing a project of some kind. At least half of them carried a bucket or box. The bus was loud with their talking and laughter.

Once I got over my instinct to be annoyed, it was delightful being in the middle of that energy. A few stops later a teacher yelled it was time to get off and they departed with the same energy, off to save the world with their beautiful youth.

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The Crud Crisis

The crud finally got us. We’ve both been coughing our faces off for several days now. I went to pick up an extra stockpile of Fisherman’s Friend and–disaster!–they were out. I still have one unopened bag plus a half bag.

As a back up we have three tins of what we are calling Tante Hilla cough drops. Those are sorta low rent Ricola that Tante Hilla sent us from her Apotheke in Germany.

We’re remaining calm for now.

Before I went down with this cold, I had planned to write something about flu shots (Since this is the Internet, I will clarify that I know colds and flu are not the same thing but both fall under the general heading of crud and are being combined in this post.) But now that I have the crud, I don’t have the energy for the whole manifesto.

I have become a huge fan of Health News Review which is a website where medical professionals discuss how health news is portrayed in the media. I think it should be required reading. This article from 2015 talks about flu shots and I will just pull this quote:

“…under ideal conditions (when the vaccine matches the main viruses circulating that season) you need to vaccinate 33 healthy adults to avoid one set of influenza symptoms.”

I’m actually in favor of flu shots. What I hate is when you get sick and someone says, “Oh, didn’t you get a flu shot?”

Moving on.

For one calendar year I saved all the mail sent to our work suite that was addressed to the previous tenant, the people who moved out in September of 2008. That cruise company sends stacks of huge catalogs. I tried to notify them that “No one here cares. Your fancy catalog goes directly into recycling.” I guess no one there cares either.

Finally, I was at the bookstore last week and there were a bunch of kids there doing some sort of program. A little girl approached me to give me a card she’d made.

She wanted me to know it was Martin Luther King’s Birthday on Monday. Here’s the quote on the front of the card:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

She wanted to remind me to remember his message and pass it along. I wasn’t sure if she wanted me to pass the card along but it was so cute I kept it but I’m sharing it with all of you. Peace.

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The Mystery of the Missing Cats

I thought I wrote about when our next door neighbors’ cat disappeared during the summer but I guess not. Noah vanished. They even put out fliers.

At the time, the rental next door was empty and there was someone over there cleaning and had a couple of kids there. I was convinced the cat must have gotten stuck in the house or maybe, since he’s such a sweetie, the kids took him.

Guess who we found in our basement days after this all started?

I felt terrible. When I water, the garage and back doors are open and the cats have gone into our garage before and always run away when I come back in.  I actually checked when the cat was lost but the basement door is usually shut and it never occurred to me to take a look downstairs.

In our defense, the cat was hiding. Bob just saw him for a second before it ran away to hide. Of course all this happened at 6am. I told Bob it was too early to call but he texted and the neighbor was at work and woke up his wife, who came over immediately and coaxed him out.

They were convinced that he wasn’t at our house the entire time. He escaped one bad situation and ran in our garage door in a panic an ended up freaked out in the basement.

And this is probably exactly what happened because last night Bob was visiting with a different neighbor whose cat disappeared at the same time. She was worried and walking back and forth on our street and she spotted her cat in the window of the rental. Remember? Empty.

The cat started jumping around when it saw her. She walked around the house until she found the cat door and stuck her hand through and ZOOM! her cat came out.

Poor Noah must have gotten stuck over there as well.

Not so luckily, people live there now. Update to come.

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The Day After

This is Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. What’s the difference between a cemetery and a burial ground? This was a lovely stop during a long hot day of walking around the city. Some of the grave markers had been modernized so we could read the poetic sentiments. For example, Col. Benjamin Flower was “Punctual and unwearied in Business / Sprightly and successful / Firm in his attachments.”

We always joke about the rain coming with Halloween and yesterday was no joke. Almost 2 inches. And did we have trick-or-treaters? We did. Just as many as we have when the weather isn’t terrible. About one jumbo bag of candy worth. I bought one jumbo and one small so we have some peanut butter cups for us, too. Actually, they’re scary peanut butter ghosts. And they are delicious.

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Digging Machine

Look at this cute bunny that lives next door. I almost said cute little bunny but Charlotte is gigantic.

But so sweet and innocent. Actually, I think you can spot a little attitude in this one. Charlotte’s superpower is escaping from her cage. She escaped last summer and there were four of us running around the yard trying to catch her. She ran into the hedge and we all gave up. The next morning she was sitting at the door to her cage.

I don’t think we give rabbits enough credit.

This morning I noticed the dirt was disturbed in the pumpkin planting area. (No pumpkins planted yet). It looked like something had been digging.

What could it be?

Of course since I watch too many movies and read too many scary books, I thought it was something that could jump out of the hole and bite my head off so I approached with great caution.

These look like chewed up carrots. Hm. I think I figured out where Charlotte hangs out when she’s not at home.

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Green Machine

Today the Portland Timbers did a Make-A-Wish event where they played a game against the Green Machine, a team of 8 year olds. The event was in honor of Atticus who found out he had cancer when he had pain while playing with his team last year. He missed their final match because of his treatments.

He wanted his wish to include his teammates.

3000 fans attended the match which was during lunch hour. The supporters group made special banners and signs and revised the chants in favor of the Green Machine. There is no way to convey how amazing it was to be a part of this event.

There’s a great video recap here.

The Oregonian has a terrific photo essay here. There’s also a Facebook photostream here.

Even Deadspin couldn’t come up with anything bad to say about it.

A few highlights:

The Green Machine won 10-9 with Atticus scoring 4 goals including the game winner.

The post game remarks note: “It was the first loss for the Timbers since March 9.”

When the Timbers came onto the field they were booed and serenaded with around of “Go home you bums.” They also got booed every time they scored. The Timbers team captain Will Johnson was busted with a couple of fouls and was booted out of the game with a red card while his teammates protested.

In the first half the Timbers fielded 4 players and I don’t remember how many the Green Machine had, maybe 8. In the second half the Green Machine’s entire bench was on the field and it was hilarious watching the Timbers try to do anything when surrounded by Green Machine players.

At the end of the match, the team captain traded jerseys with Atticus and then put the tiny jersey on.

Updated to add: Here’s a better video clip. The whole thing is great but the bit when the Green Machine see their locker room is priceless.

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Today Sinéad graduates from high school.

This is a me holding her when she was one day old. Wow.

I have a million notes here for stuff I want to write about but the EuroCup started today! Team Germany!

For some reason I thought the tournament started tomorrow so today was to be my day of amazing productivity. I was only productive until I realized that the Poland v Greece game was on. First impression: Poland has the cutest goal keepers. Other revelation: Michael Ballack is doing commentary for ESPN!

Already I love this tournament.

I’ve got thirty soccer games to watch this month on top of my usual Timbers duties plus the US Mens National Team has its first World Cup qualifier game tonight. I’m going to be busy.

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And Then They Went Shopping

School bus stop on Red Cap Road, Orleans CA

I read something today about someone who worked at a clothing store and it made me remember this story.

When I was a teenager but before I could drive I made money by babysitting. Somehow I met this great family who ran a vending machine business. They would leave a giant box of candy on the counter for me to pick snacks from. They had two daughters. The younger one was sort of a pill but overall they were good kids. I babysat plenty worse.
When I was old enough to drive and wanted to get a job, the Mom wanted to help me out. She knew this lady who ran a clothing store and decided that this would be a great job for me. Me, being a self-involved teenager with no clue how the world worked, thought that I was going to get a really cool job.
I went to the store to talk to the lady and the first thing she said was: what kind of experience do you have?
Me: None.
What the hell? I was sixteen. I went to high school. I did babysitting. Where in the world would I be getting all this experience?
She told me she had nothing for me and that was that.

Prospect Trail on Ishi Pishi Road, Orleans CA (not recommended)
At the time I was hurt and confused. Why set me up for this big thing if you weren’t even interested in giving me a chance?

Now that I’m a grown-up and have a better understanding of how the world works, I suspect that babysitting Mom shopped there regularly and probably chit-chatted with the lady and that was the basis for their relationship. She probably told the store owner, oh this girl babysits for me and she’s a good kid. She never burns down the house and our kids are always still alive when we get home. She never takes more than 3 candy bars even though we leave out about 60. I’m sure she would be great at selling clothes.
And then this lady has to be polite, “Oh wonderful. Sounds swell. Send her over.”
And then I show up and she can’t wait to get rid of me. Although as I recall she was pretty snotty about it.

I ended up getting a job at Jack-in-the-Box where they did take teenagers with zero experience and paid us $3.10 an hour.

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Stinker Cat

We have a swinging chair in the backyard with a cushion on it.

During the summer Toes napped on it almost every day. Every time I wanted to sit there I had to take the cushion inside and vacuum it off.

The second I opened the backdoor, Toes would launch himself at me with a bleating whine and he would not leave me alone until he was thoroughly scratched and petted. I had to be seated for this and let him crawl in my lap. I couldn’t get away with just a lean down and pat.

If I attempted to ignore him he would trip me or try to crawl up my leg. This was especially fun when I was wearing shorts.

It was sort-of annoying but also sort-of nice. A pet that I didn’t have to feed or take to the vet. One afternoon I was trying to get a bunch of stuff done and didn’t really want to sit down for Toes time. He insisted so there I was, forced to sit still on my porch. The sun was going down and there was a breeze so all my flowers were waving back and forth and birds swooped around the sunflowers. One of my great summer memories.

Last month when the weather turned cool and damp I brought the cushion in for winter. I looked out the kitchen window and saw Toes sitting on a plastic chair glaring at me. The next time I went outside, he wandered by and ignored me when I said hello. Then he squatted down and peed right in front of me and didn’t even flinch when I yelled.

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I Was The Only Person There Without A Nametag

The Star Wars exhibit was half completely awesome and half, to paraphrase Douglas Coupland, very Krusty the clown. From the geek perspective it went to 11. Personal highlights included R2D2, C3PO, Darth Vader costume, lightsabers and of course, Luke’s landspeeder which had a giant sign that said “do not touch” and I desperately wanted to touch it but didn’t want to set a bad example in front of the children. The many, many, many children. More on that in a second.

I also liked the wampa and wished I had my wampa with me so I could show it what it would look like when it grew up.

One thing I thought was hilarious was the little video features they had which in a completely straight-faced Discovery channel manner discussed topics such as what drives the economy of Tattooine, how living things can survive the rugged ecosystem of Hoth or the culture and customs on Kashyyyk and the communication limitations of the Wookie.

I also thought they did a pretty good job of creating an actual exhibit from what is essentially a bunch of props. They had interactive stuff for the kids to do: make robots and play with some sort of magnetic thing like pod racing and ride on a hover chair thing. They also padded it out with some actual real life science, for example a section on prostheses. (Remember both Anakin and Luke lost a limb(s). A lightsaber is not a toy.) Also some stuff on transportation and the maglev train, living in harsh weather conditions and current technology and deep space travel. (They say: not happening anytime soon.)

I was there on a weekday morning shortly after opening so I had zero lines but I got a feel for what a ginormous money making machine this must be ($15 adult, $13 child/elder). There was a tent out front with switchbacks for entrance into the museum. More switchbacks inside. You buy a ticket for a certain time and then wait to be let in. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a crowded day.

I know the exhibit is aimed at kids. I knew kids would be there. I underestimated how many there would be and that they would be at the age too big to be cute and too young to have their shit together when they’re out in public. I’m exaggerating a little for story-telling purposes but they were pretty hopped up and bouncing off each other, roving around the exhibit in loud packs and generally oblivious to anyone else that might be trying to look at/listen to something. More than once I’d be standing there watching a video when a kid would come up and hit all the buttons, stopping and restarting the presentation and then wander off again.

Maybe I should clarify that I entered the exhibit shortly after several classes totaling about 100 kids arrived. When I bought my ticket the cashier warned me so I killed some time in a nearby exhibit that happened to be about aging. That got old quick. (ha ha)

Two good moments. During my first attempt (it took 3 tries) to examine the lightsabers a kid, hunched over the display so no one else could see, said “This is stupid. They don’t even have Yoda’s.” Later I was looking at some sort of model for Luke’s fake hand that we see at the end of episode V and two girls walked up and said, “Ew! That is disgusting.”

On the way out I cruised the gift shop (part 2 of the money making machine) but resisted the urge. I barely have a place for all the Star Wars stuff I already have.

Final review: totally worth it.

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