Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hanging over my head

1040, FAFSA, CSS, Oh my!

I am a whopping 2 weeks late on filling out the FAFSA to submit to my son’s college choices.  I was fooled into complacency by the deadline for Oldest Daughter’s college – the deadline is much later for an enrolled student than for a first-time applicant.  My other excuse is that we had a few things going on in February, like, a memorial service, a women’s retreat, a cold, Lent, perimenopause, and dinner to prepare. 

Somehow there is always dinner to prepare.  My husband, having seen one article in the newspaper, has suddenly decided that I should cook according to the “Mediterranean diet.”  This idea makes me peevish.  My ancestors were Scottish and German.  Therefore, tonight we are having tofu with chick pea curry.  I don’t know no Mediterranean cooking, unless frozen cheese ravioli with Ragu sauce counts.  

Plus in my line of business February is acreage prediction season, which I hate, as it is an impossibility, using my traditional statistical methods, to predict crop plantings with much accuracy.  The USDA does it by taking a survey, so maybe I should do the same.  How about if all of my readers who are farmers just report to me how much stuff you are going to plant this spring?  We’ll all sing “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow” while you make your calculations.

My one crowning achievement in February was getting my aunt’s tax information off to her accountant.  Too bad I am my own accountant for our taxes.

My inclination is to stick random numbers into the college aid forms, press SUBMIT and just see what happens.  Other than that, I plan to spend the rest of the day waiting for February to be over. 

How about you?  What are you waiting for today?  Are you making any calculations?  What’s going to grow in your plot of land this spring?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I am the very model of

I am the very model of a perimenopausal gal
My body goes in fits and starts with matters that are menstrual,
My moods swing back and forth in ways that really seem unnatural,
And suddenly I’m lacking in some vitamins and mineral.
I'm very well acquainted, too, with problems that are cerebral,
Like trying to remember what I needed at the shopping mall.
About the use of estrogen I’m teeming with a lot of news,
With many cheerful facts about the HRT that I will choose.

As if that’s not enough, I have experienced the flashes hot –
I wonder if that qualifies me for some therapeutic pot.
In short, in matters estrogenal, hormonal and mineral,
I am the very model of a perimenopausal gal.

(with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

* * * * * * *

Ladies, in our 40s we are sold a bill of goods.  We are given the impression that the way perimenopause occurs is that our menstruation happens further and further apart, until eventually it stops.  Menopause is magically achieved, and we can skip happily down the garden lane without a care in the world, and without buying any more tampons.

Not so in my case.  My monthly visit has been of biblical proportions (see Genesis 7:17 “For forty days the flood kept coming…”).  I can really sympathize with the Sick Woman of Luke 8:43.  Firmly believing that God heals through doctors and modern medicine, I am soon to undergo a D & C, which my doctor fondly calls a “dusting and cleansing”, plus a uterine ablation. 

When Doc first mentioned this, I thought she was saying “oblation” – like my uterus would be offered in some kind of medical worship service.  I’m sure my uterus feels that it has already offered itself up in service by providing me with three fantastic children. In fact, what Doc meant was that she would be scorching the insides of it to stop the bleeding.  Although using a blow-torch in there is an unusual idea, it is a good thing, as it will most likely prevent the need for a hysterectomy.  I like keeping all my parts if I can, even if they are like the inside of our toaster oven (more on that another time). 

Medical procedure or cooking accident?
So in a few weeks I’ll have this procedure done.  I’m not worried about it.  I expect to be up and about the next day, probably even skipping down the garden lane.  It’s all just part of being a perimenopausal gal.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lo and Behold at the Library

On Thursday I went to the library.  I was on a mission.

The library is a remarkable place inside, but, lo and behold, this time there was something amazing outside – a pierogi truck.  The people next to me in the parking lot got out of their car and marched right past the library entrance to the pierogi truck, where a line was forming. 

Some people at our synagogue have suggested having a pierogi truck at the synagogue as a fundraiser.  My husband thinks it would be more suitable for the synagogue to have a falafel truck. I am not so sure.  I know how to spell falafel and what it is, but I think I’m the only non-Jew who knows this.  (On the other hand, I had to look up how to spell pierogi.)

Although other people were at the library just to buy pierogies, I was not.  I am not fond of pierogies; they are not my preferred form of carbohydrate.  For a Western Pennsylvanian, that’s almost as bad as saying that I am not a Steelers fan (which I am not saying here).  Falafel, on the other hand… mmm!  But really, who associates the library with food?

Last week I was helping my Mom tidy her apartment. She asked me to clean out the magazines that were under an end table.  When I crouched down to do this, lo and behold, I found a library book, from the Young Adult section of the Common Household’s local library!  It was titled The Magic Thief.

There was no telling how long The Magic Thief had been languishing away from its proper home.  For the Common Household Husband, there is hardly a greater sin than an overdue library book.  Even though I am more lax on this than he is, this book had to be super-overdue.  On Thursday I approached the library in a somber, confessional mood, knowing that the Common Household deserved chastisement from the librarian.

At the Library Confessional (the circulation desk) I was pleased to see my friend from the synagogue.  She would be sympathetic.  She looked up the book on the computer to see how much Youngest Daughter owed, and found, lo and behold, the book no longer existed in the catalog.  The Magic Thief was The Invisible Man of books, not recognized by society in general.  We had paid for it long ago, but I did not want to keep it, since this would seem to be rewarding irresponsible behavior.  But how could I return a book that no longer exists?

My friend said she would have to call a higher authority – the children’s librarian.  The higher authority appeared, and lo and behold, and it was my friend from church.  Whew!  She took a look at the book, declared it to be in good condition and said she would re-enter it into the library system.  And she has the power to do that.

The Magic Thief was redeemed.  God’s in the library and all’s right with the world.

Have you ever found something unexpected, like pierogies or redemption, at your local library?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Units of Energy

My husband was opening the electric bill.  He said to Youngest Daughter, “Do you want to know how much energy we sucked out of the environment this month!?” We try not to be wasteful, but we’re not frugal either, with electric use.

Youngest Daughter was not interested in knowing about our electric bill, but Son wanted to know why, if it was about energy use, it was not rendered in joules.  There was much back and forth between Husband and Son about kilowatt hours, joules, and what units the average electricity consumer can understand.  (We understand dollars and cents, but not so much the kilowatt hours or the joules.)

Finally, Youngest Daughter yelled, “WILL you stop being SCIENTISTS!”  Quite vehement for someone who herself has the ambition to be a microbiologist.

Son replied, “I’m not being a scientist. I’m being reasonable.”

YD shouted, “It’s the same thing!”

Here at the Common Household, we are getting our energy back and, I hope, some reason, too.  I spent the past five days preparing for and attending the memorial service.  I spent five nights recovering from my cold alone in a blissfully quiet and clean hotel room.  That hotel room was grace – an undeserved gift.  The memorial service was satisfying.

The weekend was harder on my husband.  Attending my father’s memorial service required my husband to gather two college students (Oldest Daughter and Nephew) plus our other two teenagers and drive in dead of night and sky of rain, and then get up Saturday morning to get to the church early.  Interment of ashes…. putting up with an objectionable relative’s harangue against his Jewish faith… memorial worship service…. lunch …carting teenagers around more….  dinner with relatives… remembrances and speeches.  And then he had to drive off with the same four teenagers to get them back in time for classes on Monday morning.

Now we’re all back home, rested up and diving back in where we left off.  And that means it’s time to clean off my desk and do the taxes.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Through all the tumult

My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?  I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?

- Words and Music by Robert Lowry, 1869.

This is the hymn that my niece and my daughter will be singing for the memorial service for my Dad.  I am accompanying them on the piano.  I'm hoping for 'inmost calm' while I play.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The best gift?

This is what my husband gave me for Valentine's Day:

Flowers and a box of... facial tissues.   The flowers are obviously loving, but I need to assure my readers that the tissues also represent a loving gesture on his part, because I have a wicked cold, and will need to take a box of tissues with me everywhere I go for the next two weeks.

I am going to give him chocolate, because if anything should be given on this Hallmark Holiday, it's chocolate (yes, my darling, that is a hint for next year).  Endangered Species dark chocolate with raspberries - it's his favorite kind.  And I will give him the further gift of not eating the chocolate that I give to him.  That right there is a very generous gift.

For myself, I have made a big pot of homemade chicken soup.  My friend says that shiksas make the best chicken soup.  This shiksa believes in the restorative powers of chicken soup.

What's your best remedy for a cold?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road?


I saw this question posted online, with answers from forty-some Great Thinkers such as…

Plato: For the greater good.

Karl Marx: It was a historical inevitability.

Kafka: Hardly the most urgent enquiry to make of a low-grade insurance clerk who woke up that morning as a hen.

Hamlet: That is not the question.

Donne: It crosseth for thee.

Douglas Adams: Forty-two.

I thought it was clever, and sent it to my children.  My son responded the next day with his own list of philosophers’ answers.  I was surprised that he knew anything about O.J. Simpson, Mr. T., and that episode in the life of Pres. Bill Clinton.  Did they teach him about that stuff in school?

Without further ado, his answers:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Melville:  To seek revenge on the great white farmer.

Romney:  To create jobs and help small businesses.

Hillel:  What is the significance of chickens in the book of Exodus?

Mao tse-Tung:  It crossed the road for the greater good of all China!

Calvin:  It was destined to cross the road.

Martin Luther King, Jr:  I have a dream that chickens may be judged by the quality of their meat, not by the color of their eggs.

Gandhi:  To nonviolently demonstrate against the unjust traffic.

Clinton:  That depends on the meaning of the word 'why'.

Neil Armstrong:  That's one small step for a chicken ... one great leap for birdkind.

Arnold Schwarzenegger:  The chicken must be terminated.

Kennedy:  Ask not why the chicken crossed the road, ask why the road was in the middle of a chicken coop.

Darth Sidious:  The chicken was following the path to the Dark Side.

Mad Libs:  The elephant crossed the desert in order to jump the slime.

Michael Faraday:  The chicken was following the lines of a chicken force field across the road.

Mr. T:  I pity the chicken!

Newton:  There was a net force being exerted on the chicken, which caused it to accelerate in the positive x direction, overcome the force of static friction, and crossing the road.

Osama bin Laden:  The chicken was leading a jihad against the infidels!

Jesus:  The chicken wished for his neighbor to cross the road.

OJ Simpson:  I don't know anything about any chicken, but if I did, this is why it would've crossed the road...

Lavoisier:  The chicken had the same mass before and after crossing the road.

Tolkien:  The chicken was embarking on a long journey through Middle Farm to destroy the Egg of Power by casting it into the Stove of Doom.

Mr. A (his 10th grade chemistry teacher):  There was a difference in the concentration of chickens from one side of the road to the other, so the chickens naturally sought to establish equilibrium.

* * * * *

Would you like to add one of your own?

Friday, February 1, 2013

To My Scientifically-Minded Son

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

1. I arose from an important female medical procedure to find a text from you saying, “Science Bowl practice today!  Come pick me up now” and I did, instead of going home to rest as was my original plan.

2. While driving you home from Science Bowl practice, I told you about my friend who has a cool job at the Science Center in which he demonstrates hydrogen explosions.

3. I listened as you enthusiastically reminded me about the Hindenburg, and tried to explain to me why sodium something-or-other explodes when put in water.

4.  I forbad you from bring sodium something-or-other into the house.

5.  This morning I arose from my bed at 6:20 AM to take you to an activity you call “chem club lab”.

6.  That’s enough ways right now.  I’m going back to bed.