Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Run or Walk, You Choose

January 27, 2015

In honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday today, I'm going to talk about things completely unrelated to Mozart.

For instance, why didn't Davis name his dog Houdini instead of Lyndon. . . probably more fitting.  Although Walter and I may have caught on that Davis was planning a middle-age fitness program for us by letting Lyndon stay at our house for the semester and didn't want to give away the surprise that we would frequently be running willy-nilly cross country, scaling fences, shoving our way through brush, and generally tracking down a jetting dog who has escaped.  We keep upping the ante on security and then looking at each other and saying "Again?"

I also had the moment on the phone this afternoon with KBTX morning show reporter and anchor, Kessler McLaughlin, who said, "Can we do the interview at your house a little before 8:00 tomorrow morning?"  and I thought, "Isn't that about the time when Lyndon stirs up Willie and Teddy into a baying/howling/barking furor over the passing through the yard of "Dog Friend" and the simultaneous invasion of the morning squirrel brigade?"  Then I thought, with modern technology, the television station can probably dub over any background noise, as long as they keep it below the 130 mark (which they usually do, unless the squirrels are particularly naughty and press their noses against the porch door and stick their little tongues out).

Mainly, I want to rejoice in the wide range of friends and supporters who are rallying to put on and participate in a Fun Run/Walk in Erin's memory, just in time to give all of her friends a great send off in their last semester of High school (which is why I have to deep clean my house AND work on maximizing my beauty potential between now and breakfast tomorrow, so I can be ready to love the camera).

Here are some key rules:
  1. You don't have to run.
  2. You don't even have to walk very fast.
  3. You have to give me a big hug when you pass me.
  4. Or an elbow bump if you are going too fast.
  5. If you have a pair of sneakers that don't work for you anymore, bring them to donate to Dunk Your Kicks.  Donated shoes will support low-income cancer families at Texas Children's in Erin's memory.
  6. If you are reading this, Erin probably considered you a friend.  And that means you are invited! 
Some of you might not have an outing to College Station in your travel plans.  You can still support the race, by registering as "Donation Only."  If you want to send a card or remembrance, I will take them to the race that day and share them in a display.  The race benefits the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, which, as Walter will tell you, is how I spend my non-paid work time these days.

So, what do you have to do?  


Monday, January 5, 2015

As Promised. . . The Family Gallery

January 5, 2015

Here I go, spoiling you again by posting so soon.

But I did promise to give you an update when all the Lego family portraits were finished.

Here is our foursome (at a distance, so you can tell who we are):

And here we are, a little closer and with a beagle bonus.

And here is the work in progress (Emma, building herself):

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Christmas Gift Is Better than Yours

January 3, 2015

Maybe you think this is going to be a spirit-filled post larded with warm feelings about being together with friends and family in the holiday season.   

Maybe you saw on Facebook that we deferred the celebration of Christmas by a week plus because our collective schedules didn't line up until the new year, and you think I am about to wax on about how the 25th is an arbitrary day to celebrate, and how we defied convention and harvested the blessings of a less-stressed day.

Maybe I have lulled you into the mindset that I am about to talk about perfect love or the wonder of thirty married Christmases or memories of Christmases with our complete family.

You certainly don't think I'm comparing what I got to what you got . . . but actually I am . . . and I haven't even got it yet.

For the last two months, Davis has been planning our family Christmas present.  He found individual photos of family members, pixilated them, and built algorithms to translate the pixilated photos into colors in the Lego color palette.  Here's an example:

Then, he ordered Lego pieces from all over the world (more than 6000 of them) that matched our various complexions, hair coloring, and shadowing and had them delivered to our house.  And today he and Emma got to work on this year's Christmas Project--A Family Photo Gallery Rendered in Lego Brick (1x1s):

Since they haven't completed the full gallery yet, you still have time to whip your children into shape so that you have a chance to get an even better gift than I am going to have.   Let me know when you are ready to concede.  

I will post the full six lego portraits when they are done.

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Stop Putting Hot Air on Me"

January 2, 2015

Years ago, when we commuted regularly between Nashville and Bryan with a pre-school-aged Davis, a Rottweiler, and a back up dog, Davis would sit strapped into his car seat booster, with Dolly, the Rott on the seat next to him on one side, and Sparky, the back up, on the other.  Inevitably, he would tire of Dolly panting in his ear and whine, "Mommm!  Dolly is putting hot air on me.  Make her stop!!"

And as annoying as that was, you haven't lived until you have spent twenty-three hours in a crowded, mid-sized sedan with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle and a grown man who would prefer to stick a fork in his eye than be trapped in a car with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle.  But that is the nature of parenting and grandparenting.

Davis has a very cool opportunity and honor to spend this spring at the MSRI (Math and Science Research Institute) at Berkeley where he will devote his time to "furthering the appreciation of mathematics."  Which provides Walter and me with the very cool opportunity and honor to spend the spring with Lyndon, where we will devote our time to "furthering our appreciation of beagles."  It also explains why we spent our Christmas vacation chauffeuring a dog through mid-America.

Little did we know that the normally charming and very affectionate Lyndon is not enamored of car travel.  Of course, once he was out of the car at the end of each leg of our journey from Ohio to home, he no longer resembled a satan-beagle mix and reverted to his old self:

Teddy and Willie were chuffed to see us when we rolled in on Monday and were tolerant enough of Lyndon.  We are each, in our own way, helping the young dog adapt to his new "normal."  Walter, for his part, has walked Lyndon (as Peter Townsend has been singing since 1967) "miles and miles and miles and miles."  

I have become the table top and counter police.  Lyndon has an NFL-worthy vertical leap and can get up on the dining room table without the assistance of a step stool (or anything else).  You may also recognize that a beagle's keen sense of smell allows it to recognize if so much as a crumb is left for sampling.  As I do not want a dog snuffling around where I eat (much less nicking a slice of my spinach pizza when I turn my back, which happened within an hour of our arrival home on Monday), I have had to up the frequency and vigilance of my kitchen patrol.

Willie is leading by example, shining as the "good" dog in a family role that has been a long time coming.  We were counting on Teddy to be the Mistress-in-Charge of Lyndon's education, but she wrenched her back in the first evening's rough housing session and has been prescribed bedrest and high quality meds for the next week.  She does not seem to mind the pampering.

For those of you who wondered where I had disappeared off to at the end of the summer, I was not kidnapped nor did I check myself into the Magic Mountain.  Mainly, I took a break to refresh my writing voice and perspective and tend to both my paid and unpaid work.  If it makes sense to retroactively piece together some of those activities over the next few weeks or months I will.  

Otherwise, thanks to my loyal readers who have continued to check in to see if I have any nonsense to report and Happy New Year to both of you!