Baby, baby, please let me hold him

16 10 2019

Yet another absurd (-adjacent) baby: James Mark!

Like his big brother (my habibi Henry) and cousin (the angry spud Lyana), Sweet Baby James decided to pop in on the world a bit early. This necessitated tubes and lines and monitors, and after a week he’s still in the NICU, but as he’s now merely a “lazy eater” (per his mum), he should be heading home sooner rather than later.

Henry is apparently anxious to meet SBJ, and told his pop he wanted to get a toy for him. (According to my sister, the last thing that household needs is another toy, but whatchagonnado?) Let’s see how long before he wants to send the baby back.

~~~

Two things:

One, I am deeply grateful that my nieces were able to avail themselves of the best that medicine has to offer. There’s more to these birth stories; suffice it to say that what was merely momentarily dramatic could have been tragic had they not been at the hospital.

I get why people are leery of medicalizing birth—goddess knows I’ve voiced my own critiques—but it’s not 1968, women aren’t being knocked out before delivery, and birthing rooms, midwives, and doulas are now an ordinary part of the hospital birthing experience. And good medicine saves the lives of mothers and babies alike.

Two, I’m thinking of going to the Twin Cities in January to meet these new babies and reacquaint myself with Henry (and see some old friends).

I know: the Twin Cities in January?! But the flights have gotta be dirt cheap—most folks aren’t scrambling to travel to the below-zero—and I’m not teaching then, so why not? Plus, I want to see if I can still handle the forsaken cold.

Y’all know I dig New York (most of the time), but winters here are often merely dreary. I look forward to the bracing.





Coolsville

22 09 2014

Did you miss them?

The posts of me bitching about the hot and the mugg and the sun and the smell, capped off by the August I-hate-everything rant?

Yeah, didn’t happen this summer. Because this summer was. . . not bad.

Not bad at all; in fact, it was the best summer since I moved to New York.

There were occasional hot days, and a fair amount of humid days, but in June-July-August, there were damned few hot-and-humid days. The worst week of the summer was the first week of September, with temps in the eighties and dew points in the seventies—uncomfortable, but which discomfort was easily abated with a fan.

Okay, during one or two of those early-Sept days I could have turned on the a/c, but since I hadn’t bothered to put it in the window, I made do with the fan.

That’s right, it was so not-awful that I never needed to heave that box into position; instead, it remained hunkered down on an upside-down milk-crate beside my bed, an ersatz bed-stand for my (30+-year-old) clock radio and a couple of plants.

The only downside to the many cloudy days was the sadness of my windowbox-basil. It enjoyed the sun and rain thru most of June, but there was a big windy storm at the end of June, and it never fully recovered. I got enough leaves throughout the rest of the summer for salads and sandwich toppers, but not enough for pesto.

Still, that’s a trade-off I will make every time. And hell, isn’t that what greenmarkets are for, anyway? I bought a coupla’ bunches for a few bucks and whipped up another year’s worth o’ basily and garlicky goodness.

Of course, me being me, I’ve already had moments of dread about next summer—which is a decent argument for trying to get away from oneself from time to time.

And hey, it’s supposed to be a cold winter! That I can look forward to!





It’s raining again

15 02 2014

Snowing, actually.

Which pleases me: snowing and winter go together.

(Unlike rain. Thursday it snowed—big, puffy, beautiful swirling flakes—and then it rained, melting those beautiful puffs into slush. February rain sucks.)

Anyway, I used to mock folks in southern climes who freaked out when they got an inch or two of snow–ha ha! Look at those fools spin out!—but I’ve mostly gotten over my weather superiority complex. I mean, I decompensate when the temp climbs hellward of 85 or 90, so who am I to lord it over those who shiver below 40 degrees?

And laughing at the Georgians or Carolinians who slide into barely-snowy ditches requires one to forget that everyone is an idiot during the first snowfall.

I didn’t truly appreciate this until after I moved to Minneapolis and got my first car (Plymouth Horizon hatchback, RIP: gave its life after a long road trip west). Yes, I drove when I lived in Wisconsin and of course learned to do doughnuts (easier on a rear- than front-wheeled car), and helped push more than one car out of snowbank. (I don’t remember if I ever drove into a snowbank; if not, that had more to do with luck than skill.)

Anyway, now that I was living in a city and driving my own car and paying my own insurance, I also paid more attention to those many other drivers as well as to my own driving. And I noticed that every November (or October: see Minneapolis) when the first snow fell, drivers acted as if they had never before had to deal with this outrageous phenomenon of icy dust billowing down from the clouds.

They drove too fast. They braked too late, and then stood on the brakes as their cars veered sideways down the street. They drove too closely to one another. And—my personal favorite—they’d only clear a portion of the front window and maybe, maybe, a bit in the back before hitting the road.

That’s some smart driving, right there.

After the first snowfall or two, however, most drivers would get the hang of it, as if some part of their brains awoke from their brief warm-weather comas to say “hey, dummy, watch out!”, and they remembered to clear off all of the window and the lights and drive as if snow and ice were, y’know, slippery.

Or just not drive at all. That was my preferred method for dealing with big snow: stay off the road until the plows came thru.

Of course, one could be cautious and still SOL. It might snow when you’re out, or you might have to drive, and in Minneapolis the side streets and sometimes even the main drags wouldn’t be plowed down to pavement, such that driving was sketchy long after a storm ended.

And sometimes you do everything right and it still goes wrong. I remember one night driving down a small hill on Franklin Avenue toward the intersection at Third Avenue, stepping on the brakes, and having the car completely ignore the instructions to stop. I pumped the brakes, steered the car straight, but no dice.

The light turned red, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

So I did the only thing I could do: I laid on the horn as a warning to drivers on Third and slid right on thru that intersection. Luckily no one was in front of me, so the drivers on Third simply watched my Plymouth ski on by before motoring forth.

No one got hurt, and nothing happened. Lucky.

Upshot: snow fucks everything up, and it takes experience (as well as snow plows and salt and sand trucks) to deal with that fucked-up-ness. Folks in the north get plenty of chances to learn, so it’s easy to feel smug about southerners who will get only one or two shots every couple of years to get it right.

We shouldn’t. Because everyone’s an idiot driving in the first snow, and even the experienced need luck sometimes.





A hazy shade of winter

5 01 2014

And lo! the heavens opened and offered upon us the blessings of winter:

022

023

And it was good.

025

And so I ventured forth into the wintry landscape, donning the footwear of the snowy deep, to deposit my earnings from searches far and wide, and to partake in the gifts of the wind and the cold.

028

And it was good.

Alas and alack, the heavens grew surly and the winds spat warmth and rain upon us, degrading the glorious banks of icy down into mean crystals and slush.

And so will this punishment continue for yet one more day, upon which ending will return the promised cold—unto which we shall rejoice! tho’ yet we mourn the loss of our snowy firmament.





That was the river, this is the sea

9 08 2012

Where else would I live, except for New York City?

I ask myself this with some regularity—whether to tamp down my restlessness or seek an escape or remind myself there is no escape or a mashup of all of these, I don’t know.

The question popped up again today, in the cauldron otherwise known as the Bleeker Street station. I was thinking of a thread at TNC’s place a week or so ago in which a couple of us rhapsodized over Montreal; another asked But it’s close enough to visit regularly, isn’t it? He had commented late and I didn’t see his reply until even later, and thus never responded.

But what I would have said was: It’s not the same. Montreal is a marvelous place to visit—you should go!—but it’s an even better place to live, so much so that visiting only makes me sad that I am no longer a habitant of that feline city. I could stroll the Main or hike up Mont Royal or point out a chausson au pomme to one of the ladies behind the counter at any patisserie in Mile End, but all that would do would remind me that this is all just a lark, a recess from my life rather than my life.

Besides, Montreal is beastly in August.

No, wouldn’t it be lovely to be in the Gaspé:

Le parc Forillon (M-EveCoulombe, Feb 2010)

The Gaspésie looms over the top of New Brunswick, the St Lawrence spilling out over the top of the peninsula into the Gulf of St Lawrence. It’s by no means the northernmost city in Quebec (that would be Ivujivk, stationed at the northeast entrance to the Hudson Bay), but its furthest region is called “Land’s End.”

My god, who wouldn’t want to escape from the city to Land’s End?

The most famous feature of the Gaspésie is found in the sea off the city of Percé:

Claude Boucher, 2001

You can kayak or paddle out to the massive rock:

Delphine Ménard, 2001

And yes, it really is massive:

archer 10 (Dennis)

Best of all, the average high temperature (according to Wikipedia) in the summer is 68 in June, 73 in July, and 72 in August.

A high of 72. How perfectly lovely!

Of course, to really take in the climate, I’d have to visit in the winter: the average low in January & February hovers around zero, and the snowiest months are December and January, each pulling in an average of 30 inches.

Ahh, trapped in a cabin with a roaring fire during a howling snowstorm at the end of the year at the end of the land: How perfectly lovely!

I suppose I should mention that I haven’t ever visited the Gaspé, so my longing is pure, untroubled. I can dream of Percé or le parc Forillon or the mountains of Chic-Choc and not wonder what I’m missing, only what’s ahead, only what is there.





Oh, the weather outside is frightful

1 07 2012

I don’t like air conditioning.

Silly, I know, given my antipathy to summer, and it must be admitted that this dislike does not get in the way of my using my own a.c. (purchased for me by T. and P. some summers ago) or my gratitude for it on the train or at work.

Yes, I’m a hypocrite—sue me.

My friend J., who grew up in Arizona and went to school in Minnesota, didn’t like central heat, something which I, the as-yet-had-never-lived-anywhere-outside-of-the-midwest, found unfathomable. Don’t like indoor heat? Why it’s the greatest: You come in from a snowy day and peel off your jacket and mittens and hat and scarf, kick off your boots, and you feel the warmth seep into you.

That made sense: You bundled up for outside, and when the bundle was no longer enough, you escaped back into cozy warmth.  How could that not be good?

But J., I think, looked at winter much as I look at summer: That was a season when you were supposed to be able to roam free, and not be trapped indoors. Arizona in July was like Minnesota in January—brutal—so when the opposite (winter for her, summer for me) doesn’t bring relief, you go after the proxy, that which makes the brutal bearable.

Hm, that wasn’t clear. J. doesn’t hate summer and I don’t hate winter. Neither of us likes our respective brutalities, but we’ve each found a way to deal with them; what we have not found a way to deal with are the seasons which are supposed to be “better”. (Yes, I still think winter is easier to deal with than summer, what with the possibilities of bundling-up versus the limits to stripping down, but that’s another argument.)  Summer for me and winter for her is supposed to be a time of weather-liberation, and when it is not, well, we hate the things that keep us penned up, trapped indoors by the sun or the snow. Thus: I hate a/c, she hates central heat.

J. is long back in Arizona, so I hope she’s got her winter mojo back; regardless, she’s likely as calm facing summer as I am facing winter.

I just wish Brooklyn summers were as mild as those Arizona winters.





Baby, it’s cold outside

13 10 2009

I may have mentioned once or twice my. . . displeasure with summer.

Displeasure, hah! Fear, loathing, hatred—you know, the normal responses to sun and heat.

But fall, ah, blissful fall: crisp air, brisk winds, long nights, prelude to winter and all its bluster.

Who could hate the impending onset of weather which chases you down the street and into your apartment? Which welcomes your boots and mittens, gives way to your willingness to test yourself against its cold?

Winter: time of laughter and ease.

Unlike summer, which teases you outside and seduces you into believing the sun is your friend. The sun is not. It tolerates you in June, turns contemptuous in July, and, along with its collaborator, humidity, tries to kill you in August. The only way to survive is to hunker down in a dark space in front of a fan or air conditioner.

Winter respects its denizens; summer mocks them.

What set off this (rather pedestrian) reverie? The heat in the apartment has kicked in.

I don’t even have radiators, but the steam knocks so horribly in the bathroom pipe that it’ll wake me up—and has already freaked out Jasper. (Bean, used to noisy heat, barely stirs in her sleep.) Still, the sound signals the onset of warmth, the invitation to cozy up with. . .all right, I don’t have a companion, but a book or a cat. With a whiskey.

Waiiiit a minute, you might ask: You spent how many words bitching about the heat of summer, how it traps you inside, and here you are rhapsodizing over. . . indoor heat?

You’re clearly missing the point. It’s about an attitude, a set of possibilities, of the ability to carry one’s warmth outside and thus the freedom to move about, unlike in summer’s tyranny, which makes no allowances for bringing the cool with you.

Oh, never mind. You’re a summer person, aren’t you?