Sunday, April 26, 2009

Baby Beans

The baptisia (a.k.a. blue false indigo, left) in our yard is growing inches daily. The peas (right) are slowly reaching for the second string.
The double tulip and strawberry flower are not legumes in any sense, but are depicted here to demonstrate that I finally figured out the macro lens on my camera.

Good Luck Aries Babies

Three of my friends gave birth within the last three weeks. Welcome to the world little Aries babies!
Here's a blankie (yes, intentionally hexagonal) that I knit for my new little second cousin. I'm found of the "citrus and sea" color combination for a baby of either gender (like me, my cousin did not want to know in advance), but no, mother, I am not painting the "nursery" orange and lime green.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hope, Spring, Gardens and Baseball

I missed my chance 2 weeks ago when, for a brief moment in time, the Rockies, the Royals and the Cubs were all alone at the top of their respective divisions (at 2-1, I believe). At the time the tulips were just about to open, the peas were two inches out of the ground and the indoor seedlings were like to outgrow their little pots before the last chance of frost was past.

It was looking to be the "next year" with better luck that there will always be in October.

Lots can happen in two weeks in baseball and gardens.

Not all of it good.

It will suffice to say that come November, I will likely still have plenty to hope for in 2010.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Girls Like Nerf Blasters, Too

The Mister and I were at Target yesterday, determining whether or not we were going to register there for our baby* (well, really, we were there to buy a new coffee pot, but I made him swing by baby stuff so we could gasp at the cost of convertible car seats). "Selected Boy's Toys" were on sale and the Mister asked, "What makes legos boys' toys?" and added, "Our daughter will get a nerf blaster." I love him pretty much all the time, but I so loved him at that moment.

The alien monkey's gender, you see, is becoming an issue. It's not an issue for the Mister and me. We have long lists of horrible names for Mervivan or Alloicious, Garbonzetta or Phaseolus and much much shorter lists of things we might actually call the kid. The Mister will teach him or her calculus as a six year old (not the algebraic part, just the concepts of instantaneous rates and areas under a curve), and our expectations of hiking, reading, attempting an instrument, learning to cook, hammer, screw, kick, throw and do laundry are generally gender neutral. The alien monkey's gender is somehow an issue for other people. Not our parents, not any of my close friends, but random people: my students, my OB nurse, the custodian . . . Apparently, for many people, it is just too weird not to want to know sex in advance, others worry that they cannot properly prepare, and others are somehow concerned that the Mister and I cannot properly prepare.

Initially I thought I would likely find out the alien monkey's sex at the big ultrasound. I just started telling people earlier that I didn't know it's gender and didn't have a preference because that was true. It was when they started asking, "When are you going to find out what it is?" or "What is it?" that my latent feminist ire started rising. I thought, "We're pretty sure it's a human, but alien monkey is a real possibility" was a fine answer, but when questioners persisted, I realized that for many, our baby is not human until it has a gender. I also read (in a book for expectant fathers) about gender desires for children that, if true, offers some frightening statistics (i.e. among married couples with children in the U.S., the divorce rate is the highest among those with only daughters and lowest among those with only sons; families with only daughters are more likely to keep reproducing . . .) and various assumptions about "what" the Mister and I were hoping for disturbed me. So we opted just not to find out until it pops** out.

One of my colleagues thought I was taking this gender thing a bit too seriously until our students and other colleagues started pestering her about how problematic it is for them that I don't know if it is a Mervivian or an Alloicious. She was really and truly baffled as to why it is any of their business but suddenly is very supportive of my not knowing or telling anyone. "It's coming in August. It will wear onesies for the early part of its life. It's not like they were going to come over and help you put up pink ruffles anyway."

If anyone out there would have started a hand embroidered dress with lots of smocking had I only told you the gender, I'm sorry. For the rest of you, well, the "nursery" will be either white with primary colors or sunny yellow (depending when I clean out our boxes of other stuff). The alien monkey will like animals, plants, space, graphic patterns, mud, different colors depending on mood once old enough to distinguish them, music some days, books some days, nobody but mom some days, everybody but mom some days, calculus some days, blocks some days and balls on some others. The alien monkey will like legos and nerf blasters. Just like a human.

*We are going to someday, which makes me feel horribly materialistic and practical at the same time.
**It's still over 3 months until the baby should emerge; let me believe it will "pop out" a while longer.

Good Bean Soup

The Mister and I received a packet of ten bean soup, made my someone at the Women's Bean Project for Christmas. I like beans and I like bean soup, but I'll admit I was dubious about the ten bean soup because 1) different beans don't all cook the same length of time 2) it didn't seem to have anything to give it much flavor beyond the beans (i.e. no ham bone or carmelized onions added) 3) soup packets usually leave me wanting for everything but sodium. Much to our surprise, the soup, prepared following the packet instructions, was excellent.
The Mister has since attempted to imitate the soup, and his was also very good, but for both great soup and for supporting employment for underemployed women in Denver, I think the $5.50 for Toni's Ten Bean Soup is well worth it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Foster Dragonparents

I have all sorts of issues with Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley's 2007 young adult tale of a kid who lives on a dragon refuge. The narrator, who is an18 year-old boy, writes like a believable 18 year-old and the italics, caps and "duhs" become annoying; the climax drags on and and there are almost 100 pages (out of 338) beyond it; and the romance was awkward and forced. My biggest issue was though, was that Dragonhaven is no The Blue Sword and I had purchased it largely to recapture the magic of my favorite* book. Despite the issues, I found Dragonhaven absorbing. At one point the narrator mentions that we (the readers) know about an incident because it was all over the news and I thought, "I missed that one, must have been during the dissertation," before I thought, "Oh yeah, this is a novel about dragons. That incident was not actually in the news in this world," so McKinley must be doing something right forcing the suspension of disbelief. The narrator's storytelling quirks made me upset with him rather than with McKinley, and I fully bought that he understood having parenthood thrust upon him, even if it were a dragon he was raising. Altogether, I'd recommend The Blue Sword and McKinley's re-written fairy tales (Beauty and Spindle's End, both of which I recently re-read and still love) before Dragonhaven, but Sunflower Spinner, Beth, Abby, Irene and all would find Dragonhaven enjoyable. Of course, many of them would read it just for the science geekiness: the full phylogeny of dragons is discussed, and I believe the word phylogeny is used in the conversation

*One of several favorites, but I think that The Blue Sword always makes the list.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sticklers for the truth

For those of you who have ended up here from my annual first of April letter, well, I think most of you should know me well enough by now not to believe ALL of those things.
Of course, most of it was true.
I am pregnant.
Many of the other Self Fellows are pregnant or wanting to be so.
I did fall and hurt my knee pretty badly, but that was two weeks ago and I am fine now.
There was a storm.
My friends did throw me a surprise shower in Kansas.
I am undecided about the proper diapering system for our future child.
We do refer to the child as Mervivian Phogg or Alloicious Nukular.
My student did win the WVAS presentation competition and my Mister's talk was well attended.

Most goofy stuff refers to past April Fool's letters (including my parents' convincing my grandmother that my brother was twins). Ask some time if you didn't receive or don't recall them.

Oh, I totally forgot to tell you about the leek in the toilet or the handsome guy with leopard print underwear I'm now engaged to, but you should take that as a given.