The Red Dragon avenged…or the Great Peep Massacre of 2017

My daughter usually receives some sort of toy in her Easter basket. This year, given her interest in dragons, particularly red dragons, my husband and I decided to do something slightly different. Forget eggs from a rabbit (something that doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense anyway): we were going with dragon eggs.

But I wasn’t quite sure how to play it out. The hiding of eggs is my husband’s ritual with her (the eggs they hard boil and dye) and so I rarely get involved in that part of it. I wanted to do something, though!

Subterfuge was required, because my daughter is 1) nosy, 2) suspicious, and 3) my kid. I deployed techniques gleaned from the Alaska State Troopers, such as “Put your hands where I can see them” and “On your knees. Cross your ankles. Do not look at me. Look away from me.”

(It worked!)

Back to Easter: usually I just set something up on the ottoman downstairs. There’s a gift or two and she devours most of the candy, and that’s that.

This year, I had this to work with:

What to do? I had the dragons already, but how to use them? This is what I left on the ottoman:

The Saesneg dragon has stolen my eggs; And my treasure? I’m left with the dregs. If you can find it, we may both profit; The next clue is found in your _______.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I am not much of a poet at 2200, or anytime, really.

(The answer, of course, is “closet.”)

This is what’s being left in her closet once she finally goes to sleep.

My army in blue was sadly beaten;
My treasure still is kept by the heathen.
He left a clue where food is eaten.
When you find this, you might relax;
The very next clue is your last!

Mike and Ike candy is pretty brutal when fired from a Playmobil cannon. Look at the carnage!

And here’s the last (because I figured it would be cruel to draw it out much longer).

You found the enemy! Glory is yours–but wait…it seems he snores?
Once you name him, he *might* just wake. But until then, all that candy you may take.
(Red dragons are sadly allergic to chocolate. Who knew?)

Hopefully it meets with approval. If not, I stashed enough Cadbury eggs to bury my feelings in (while I finish my taxes).

In any case, I am so exhausted and hoping she doesn’t wake me up at 0530!

Is your ferret ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?

While Windageddon 2017 continues to rage, our power was only out for about an hour this morning. I’d been awake for hours, but I wasn’t really awake. I’ve been operating on little sleep, because pH has been so. very. sick.  (That was why I was midnight-Googling “is it normal to for pus to come out of child’s eyes when sick?” and apparently the answer is yes, that is a thing. It is also a thing that no sleeping child wants a warm washcloth on her eyes and will fight like a bear if you try it, then yell that she can’t see anything.) I keep reminding myself how lucky I am that she rarely gets this sick. It’s not helping.

Anyway. I’m tired. The power was out. My brain said, “Look at those trees bent sideways! This is a GREAT time to talk about emergency preparedness!” I explained the concept of a bag you grab on your way out the door in emergencies. I handed pH a canvas bag the size of a grocery bag (please note: this was just a drill and she does have packs). I was curious to see what pH would come up with, because she was whirling around her room.

Verdict: plush snow leopard, clouded leopard, amur leopard, arctic fox, and honey badger, along with a first aid kit, her Mora knife, and two mis-matched outfits. (But since she doesn’t care about mixing patterns, they weren’t mismatched to her.) We then talked about other stuff she might need, you know, like underwear or socks.

But she started to worry about the ferret. He has a little travel crate, but pH thought it would be a great idea for us to get a bag for him. And we did.

The ferret’s go bag. We have his crate, his favorite type of receiving blanket, his harness and leash, litter, and a stainless container with a plastic baggie with food. 

You guys, I was SO impressed with myself to think of putting the food in a bag in another container that was watertight! I wouldn’t have to bring a separate water dish. You would have thought I’d invented the wheel.

Here it is packed up:

Voila. (Meanwhile, I’ve decided that my emergency neutral will be navy.)

Family Ties

The neatest thing happened to me in the last 36 hours.

Years ago, kH purchased a 23AndMe kit for genetic analysis. It was pretty cool, especially since my “GOOD GOD YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY BE ANYTHING BUT SCOTTISH” hair and complexion turned out to be “OMG YOU ARE ALSO CRAZY AMOUNTS OF FRENCH, GERMAN, AND IBERIAN” with some Native, Ashkenazi, and African thrown in.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten skin cancer yet.

But while the health reports were interesting, I already knew my genealogy, and I am so constantly deluged with questions about it from various sites that I almost never answer email. I’ve made the data available and it just remains to be found.

I noticed an email Sunday night from a woman (roughly my mother’s age) asking for help locating her (now long-deceased father). She’d discovered a woman the 23AndMe people estimate to be her grandmother with my grandmother’s maiden name.

I wrote her back, got some more information, hit my family tree, and took screenshots of the trees where I think she fit in, and also analyzed her DNA vs. mine, my brother’s, and the putative grandmother.

Definitely a cousin.

On the phone today, we talked a bit about what she knew (and I told her some family stories). Irony being what it is, her work took her to the very small area of the South our family came from–she is most likely surrounded by our cousins.

After I got off the phone, I pulled down the photo albums (you know those horrid things with gummy surfaces from the 70s and 80s) but I managed to pry a 1973 photo out with a knife, enough to read a name: her father’s name.

I’ve heard people moan about the morality or the vanity of genetic tests (as far as I was concerned, being able to blame both of my parents for lactose intolerance was worth the price in one), but this is the sort of neat connection that made all those hours of inputting data worthwhile.


In other news, I decided that I was going to learn a new thing every day. Not Welsh or German vocabulary (I mean, I do that anyway). I meant a practical thing. Namely: knots. (Get your mind out of the gutter; I am still traumatized by some really freaky Amazon ads.)

Poor kH now has to deal with me learning knots, because I figure at my advanced age, I ought to know. (kH is a kind of eagle scout rock star; watching him tie down a load in the back of a truck is performance art.) I, however, have dreadful three-dimensional skills. BUT I have so far learned a new knot every day: so far I can do fishermen’s knots, bowline, a couple of hitches, one lash, and square knots. And then I have been busy attaching them to random things, like carabiners and knitting needles and then finally, when doing another hitch, kH’s arm, which as supposed to be doubling as a yardarm. He didn’t get into the role very quickly–he was fidgety. “YOU ARE A YARDARM. YOU HAVE DEAD BODIES HANGING FROM YOU. BE. THE. YARDARM.”

Poster posting

If I were to write about the last couple of months, it would be an endless complaint about viruses, dragging myself to take my kid places because it’s not her fault I’m sick, and coming home to recover before having to do another outing. Boring. It’s super boring to me and I’ve lived it. My journal entries have gone from “OMG I’m middle-aged” to “OMG I will never have the use of both nostrils at the same time again.” I’ve been so dizzy that I’ve tripped down steps at the zoo (see earlier post) and have developed a fear of walking down stairs, big and small, which is pretty inconvenient given we have one bathroom and it’s upstairs.

Instead, I’ll just tell you that instead of some really bad thing happening on my birthday (historic, with only a few exceptions) only a small bad thing happened other than daylight savings time, which is always an issue (kH was sick). pH and I went out for a Fluevog/Powells/Little Big Burger afternoon. I returned something for kH and used that store credit+birthday money to get those awesome dinosaur heels. Can’t wait to wear them to the opera, provided I’m not still sick, in which case I’ll take a nap and go anyway, wear them, and probably break my neck at the Keller. With any luck “middle-aged woman without use of both nostrils trips at Keller wearing awesome dinosaur shoes, breaks her neck, and misses second act” is the Oregonian headline. (If I die wearing great shoes, I want that in my obit.)

So, then.

Months ago, Pop Chart Lab came out with a neat space exploration poster and I pre-ordered one for kH’s birthday. I did something crazy and ordered with a frame (I had a coupon code!) because it takes me years to get anything framed. (Witness: three unframed David Lance Goines posters in a tube in my office.)

And it came really early! Huzzah! The box was huge and heavy and it came via FedEx. I opened it excitedly.

But. There was a ton of dust under the not-glass. Like this:

I was sad, but stuff happens. I thought maybe there was a way to get into the frame (not that I can tell) and so I emailed support. It bounced. Then I tweeted and the social media person was super helpful (after I sent pictures) and said a replacement was on its way.

It arrived two days ago, first thing in the morning. It had a little bit of dust, but I was kind of tired of dealing with the situation, the social media person had been great, and I wasn’t going to make a fuss. Then, the same day in the afternoon, another FedEx box arrived in the same shape as the first two. Could they have accidentally sent me two replacements? Yes. Yes, they had. Now I had three posters and they were taking up a lot of room downstairs, leaning against a door. Well, that was nice; maybe this one would be perfect? No, the third one had almost as much dust as the first. That was okay. The second would do, but I thought I should let PopChartLab know that I either had crappy luck (I do) or there was a QA issue. I did, they were great, and now I have a fourth poster on its way and gave me a partial refund (which is really nice given the surplus of posters). They also have figured out what was making the dust (it happens during shipping) and have taken remedial measures, which are not admissible if I remember Evidence properly.

I promised one poster to my brother and one to my husband (if he can find a way around “only Teamsters are allowed to hang pictures at work” and “Teamsters are usually too busy to hang pictures”) but that leaves the last one. I’m tempted to do a contest for my lovely framed slightly-dusty poster. Is that weird? It kind of is, but heck, if you’ve got impaired vision and it’s up high, you’ll never know. I just need to think of a contest.

7 Days

A week that starts with police pounding on the door because the neighbor’s two-year-old is missing (is okay despite being out all night, and mom has been ordered to drug treatment)…

And ends with me opening a door because I thought it was UPS pounding on the door, not a meth head with a fancy fixie asking for someone who clearly doesn’t live here and does he really think he’s fooling anyone? (is okay despite going on to case all the other condos)…

And contains in the middle a sullen tween and days of nausea and vertigo, including falling down, head first, concrete stairs at the Oregon Zoo (is okay despite requiring two Tegaderms to cover bleeding–but that’s why I carry Tegaderms)…


That week just bites. Better luck next week.

That rant I promised on Twitter (and bonus @Fluevog)!

Since it’s now de rigueur to skip sleep and then rant on the Internet, I might as well take advantage of barely two hours of sleep last night to go off on something–and so I shall.

But first, a word from our sponsor. Well, no. Not a sponsor, but still: I want to pause for a moment to share these. They are perfect.

Right? Badass and beautiful. The distilled essence of  all the time I spent playing dinosaur tag with pH. (Too bad my shoe budget for 2017 is already spent.)

To make an awkward segue so that I can again segue into the promised rant, I wore a pair of badass shoes to an asylum law training last week.  The first part was about US asylum law generally, and the bit at the end was about the Executive Order particularly. The organizers had anticipated 30 people, but then the EO dropped, and 120 of us ultimately registered for the training.  It was four hours in stuffy rooms, plus some pizza and Diet Dr. Pepper and the inevitable breakdown into small groups to discuss. (I hate small groups. I want to learn anonymously, preferably in a giant lecture hall.)

It was a great training, by the way. Materials–cases, guides, videos–are online.  Even if you aren’t planning on doing any pro bono work, it’s good information to have.

The rant has nothing to do with immigration law or the EO. (Too easy.)

No, I’m going to rant about a law firm shareholder who, when I said I was homeschooling pH, said she could  never do that, it was too hard, and she just didn’t have the patience/energy/whatever. She thought about it a couple of seconds then reiterated, “No. No. I couldn’t possibly.”

Here is the thing about “I couldn’t possibly.”  It hints at a choice. If the choice is a child attending a poorly performing school with very little enrichment or sucking it up and teaching her at home, I suppose I had a choice. In reality, though, I didn’t. I brought a little human into the world. There is no money for private school–not even if I swore off new shoes for the rest of my life. The public school is awful.

That’s how I ended up as headmistress of the Hat Academy for Strong-Willed Girls.

Did I ever want to teach? No. Do I particularly like children?  No, with exceptions for pH and a few others. Would I rather be wearing awesome shoes while defending a motion for summary judgment? Hell to the yes. These days I end up drafting a few of these a year, ghostwriting for others, but I still love it.

There’s no magic bean that gives someone the ability to homeschool or not; it’s just what had to be done. Also, I’ve found almost every controversial thing I’ve done is met with the “I couldn’t possibly” and “You’re so brave.” If you substitute “lunatic” for “brave,” you get what most people are actually telling me.

I have heard “I couldn’t possibly!” for: high risk pregnancy, downsizing to a loft for a couple of years (would do again in a heartbeat), solo law practice, representing victims of sex abuse, going into tech after university, minoring in chemistry (to my history student comrades) and majoring in history (to my chemistry lab partners). Actually, I’ve heard it a lot. It seems to be a go-to reaction to someone doing something unconventionally.

In many practical ways, homeschooling is easier:  I don’t have to worry about attendance, being late, packing lunches, or the crap shoot of teachers every year. (My experience with pH and teachers is that one in five get her and one in ten really get her and gush. The rest seem to find her a trial, and I get it. No, she doesn’t ever stop asking questions and yes, it is completely exhausting.)

In many ways it sucks. I’ve lost my time, a good deal of sanity, and my professional identity (although I was pretty sanguine last week about saying, “My background is civil litigation, but I’ve been homeschooling my daughter for about four years”). If I could find and afford a school that was a great fit for pH, I’d jump on it. I’d love being Mom, instead of Mom, Teacher, and Coach.

But, you know, I can’t possibly imagine it.

Deep breath.

Well, it wasn’t much of a rant, but I didn’t stop at 140 characters. The shoe picture was worth it, though, wasn’t it?

To be serious, though, look into the Center of Excellence and consider volunteering. At least read as much as you can–no harm, no foul, and it might help one of your clients in the future.

For someone who is isolated from adult conversation most of the day, it was an honor to sit in a room full of attorneys volunteering their otherwise billable hours, who want to help and know they won’t be paid much, if at all, for what they will do. It brought out the very best in our profession.

Imagine that!

This is before it really filled up.