Saturday, March 17, 2018


Last week, Duchess went to do her daily chore of sweeping up all the poop in the guinea pig cage (this needs to be done twice a day, because guinea pigs are prodigious poopers) and was very alarmed to find it smeared copiously with blood. Turned out Snufkin had injured his back - the fur on his back was matted with blood. Cook spent most of Tuesday driving Snufkin to the vet (all the way across town), watching the vet pull away the matted fur and then be sprayed with arterial blood, leaving Snufkin and $300 there for surgery, driving home again, and then driving back later to retrieve Snufkin after surgery. The vet declared Snufkin's problem to be "weird - really weird" ; the bleeding was because he had somehow ruptured a growth that he had had on his back (which we were ignoring because it was small, not changing, and didn't seem to hurt or bother him in any way) which was somehow involved with blood vessels, AND was somehow associated with an old injury (childhood trauma probably incurred in the garage where he spent his youth with a LOT of other pigs) that had left a huge scar down his whole spine. Snufkin seems fine, indifferent to his comical shaved patch and stitches, though he really hates the probiotic and antibiotic he has to ingest twice a day. His whole "fuck you, don't touch me, just give me food" attitude somehow seems more nuanced now that we know his previous life literally left him scarred. Like he's a tough, damaged loner who's secretly tender-hearted and vulnerable under all the tattoos and intimidating glares. (Also, because the money we spent on repairing a rodent who literally spends all his time eating, pooping, and running away from us in terror is now spent, and I have to emotionally justify it by making a connection with the rodent.)

Also, this week we have sounded the alarm on Duchess's health. She's generally fine, but she's missed quite a bit of school and activities lately because she intermittently feels tired and dizzy and vaguely sick. I have been annoyed by this; she's a responsible person (except at home) and doesn't really like missing school, but she's also kind of whiny and inclined to laziness (she gets this from me!), and it I have been feeling like she should Just Toughen Up And Stop Malingering.  However, it's starting to feel like an actual thing, so we finally called the Kaiser advice line, which suggested that it could be anemia, a potential diagnosis strongly supported by our subsequent googling. She is not enthusiastic about eating liver, so we'll have to find another way to iron her up. She'll need her strength for all the rowing.

On Friday, I had to go (along with all my coworkers) to a 5-hour training on how to interrupt microaggressions, which put me even further behind on all my work tasks that keep piling up. So I would say it's been a First World Problems kind of week.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Parenting; or Fumbling Around in the Dark Trying Not to Break Things

Hello, my wee piece of the internet. We're all fine. It's sunny and warm here today. We took the guinea pigs outside, and they cowered in terror, too afraid to do more than nibble tentatively at some of the delicious fresh grass (which they will savagely devour if we tear it off and bring it inside and feed it to them in their cage). I'm afraid the guinea pigs are too perfect a metaphor for our family. We should have gotten a less fear-based sort of pet.

Things go on. Skipper is currently doing occasional rollerskating lessons, because she "likes the gliding part." She is finding third grade very stressful. She has a teacher who is fairly harsh and sarcastic, and Skipper lives in terror (see above) of the teacher yelling at her. It doesn't actually ever happen, but she's afraid ALL THE TIME (see above).

Duchess and I got in anunpleasant argument on Friday night. I told her she was signed up for a beginner rowing class in the morning and she freaked out. (Back story: this is a sport I have long thought would be perfect for Duchess. It's intensely team-oriented, it has a lot of rules, you don't have to be super-humanly athletic to succeed, and it takes place on the water. She has expressed interest in the past, but when I mentioned it recently, she was tepid on the idea. I decided to just barge ahead and sign her up and not mention it till the last minute, because she's usually pretty pliant.) She was really mad, and made some excellent points about autonomy and her right to make her own choices. Her excellent points, however, were embedded in a petulant and bratty tantrum, and I responded like a jerk.

We got over it, because Duchess is a forgiving person and I apologized for railroading her autonomy. She's right that she should be able to make her own choices. To a point. And I need to cede that, to a point. But I said that she should go row unless she had a really good reason not to - she was interested in it, and a sunny spring morning is a good way to try rowing out.

She sulked all morning, sulked and whined all the way to the class, and told me that she hates me (semi-joking) when I left her at the class. When I picked her up, I was resigned to a wave of righteous petulance, and resigned to the fact that I would deserve it. As we walked away from the "boathouse"(actually warehouse) where they keep the gear, she turned to me and said with a faux-angry expression "I HATE that you were right," and then she beamed her full-on, all-in Duchess grin. She loved it, for all the reasons I had listed off to her. I thanked her for being generous enough to allow herself to enjoy it, in spite of her determination to punish me. I would like to think that I have learned a lesson and will be more respectful of her autonomy in the future, but I'm not sure that I have.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Side note

Guinea pigs drink from the standard small pet bottle. It has a spout with a ball valve - they can push the ball in with their tongue to get water out. The rats I had as a pet (MUCH better pets than guinea pigs, should you be in the market for a pet) would just lick at the valve and get water very efficiently. The guinea pigs put their WHOLE MOUTH over the spout and bumble around for water. Every time I see them doing this, especially Snufkin, who is large and generally inept, I think of Parks and Recreation.

Kids these days

I've been reading a book about how screwed millennials are, and what I'm gleaning from it* seems like it will dismally apply to Duchess and Skipper.

Also, Duchess and her phone. Ugh. She's constantly holding it and staring at it. Last night I made her turn it off earlier than usual, and she was such delightful company - she played a stupid card game with Skipper, manically and amusingly did a dance and voice interpretation of my uterus, and worked on a crossword with Cook.** I've missed her.

*Kids are having to work increasingly hard on training themselves and making themselves more valuable resources in order to compete with each other for increasingly unstable and poorly paid jobs. This is bad.
**I have fond memories of doing crossword puzzles with my friend in middle school, in the Eugene Maleska era. That's how I learned the word "ort."

Thursday, December 28, 2017


We had a lovely Christmas. It even snowed!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Limping into the end of 2017

(Hello! Everything is fine. I'm fine, Cook's fine. The girls are fine.)

This fall I tried something different. I've been watching Duchess enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, reminding me of what a fun game it is, and I've also been reflecting on the fact that the kids have lots of activities (well, not Skipper anymore) and I have none. So I signed up for exercise classes (I found a company that allows you to visit lots of different exercisey places, meeting my need for variety) and have been doing all sorts of novel barre and yoga and pilates and strength training things that are fun and hard. That's been great, though expensive.

I also signed up to play "goalty," a spin-off of ultimate. It turns out that it's a more compact, much quicker game than ultimate, and there are only 4 players per team on the field at a time (2 men and 2 women in this league). This means that even if you don't really understand the game, aren't very good at throwing and catching, and aren't particularly fit,* you can't dawdle confusedly in the background while other people make things happen - you have to actually participate. This would be okay if not for the fact that everybody in the league is much better than me AND have all been playing together for years (I was afraid they would all be young and obnoxious, but they're mostly my age-ish) AND are pretty intense and competitive. They were all nice to me, but I was very clearly deadweight. And that felt terrible. The first time I took the field, I literally fell down three times in a row (I think that was about playing on turf - I never fell down again after that) and I could almost feel all my teammates' horror radiating at me from the sidelines.

This experience made me think about Skipper a lot. I didn't want to go back after the first day. I knew I should, but I was dreading it. I went, but only to three out of the five sessions (three games to a session; ugh) and hated most of it. But I did it. I even caught a few scores and made some good catches and throws. I also dropped a lot of catches, threw away a lot of throws, and failed terribly and repeatedly at defense. I even knocked over the goal once. But I did it, which is something. I think the next new thing I try will be easier, though.

This experience also made me think about my dad, who played in a baseball league when he was in his forties - he complained a lot about how his "eyeballs jiggled" when he was running for the ball in the outfield. I thought that was hilarious, and I gave him a lot of shit. Jiggling eyeballs! Ridiculous! But when I was running around, trying to track changes in play direction and locate a flying frisbee, I really felt like my eyeballs were ... jiggling. A lot. Definitely more than they used to. Dad, sorry about that.

*Barre and yoga and pilates and strength training don't do much for one's cardiovascular fitness. And I wasn't ever very quick or dynamic even when I was in better shape. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Duchess turned thirteen. THIRTEEN!

Skipper lost another tooth.

The guinea pigs remain very strange. But they feel more comfortable with us. A little bit.

We went to Astoria! It's been nine years since we last visited, but we revisited some of our favorite sites.

The Maritime Museum, whre Skipper purchased herself a hat.:

A different hotel with a view of the bridge. Skipper, who has very little hotel experience, was thrilled with things like the elevator, the pool (a POOL!), the vending machine, and the room key card. "This is a life of luxury!" she said.

And Fort Stevens, where the camera ran out of batteries. It was very beautiful, I swear.

We also went to the Lewis and Clark Historical Site, and we ate dinner at a restaurant that had sea lions sleeping under the floor, visible through a viewing window. This was all very exciting.