Category Archives: Family Life

She’s Come Undone

Doll 10 2013

This is my old doll, Mary. I was quite young when my mother bought me and my sister matching dolls with real human hair. She made us girls matching velvet dresses and made little matching dresses for our dolls, too. The dress is long gone, but I still remember it clearly — an early-sixties style in reddish-salmon velvet with a little crocheted lace at the neck.

One of my early life traumas was discovering that our badly behaved dog, Shep, had sneaked up the stairs where he was forbidden to go and chewed on Mary’s foot and the back of her head. Her injuries were quite severe. You can see a tooth mark on her foot in the photo. I never felt the same about dolls after that.

Fast foward to this year. Mary has resurfaced. I decided that she deserved better than to lie around in a cloth tote bag in pieces. So it was off to the doll hospital to get her put back together.

Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea I did, because it takes several months for the doll surgeon to get the job done. I’m currently waiting to see how Mary looks with all her limbs and her hair restyled. I’ll post photos when she comes back from the hospital. I think I’ll spring for a new outfit, too, so she can face the future fully clothed.

Turkey Sighting

We have a lot of turkeys around the place at this time of year, especially this year since my husband just put in a new lawn, which they love to peck around in. We often see a flock of turkeys walking around in our yard, feasting on whatever it is turkeys feast on. But I’ve never seen this before: a turkey sitting in a pyrocanthus bush, eating the berries and purring to itself.  Turkeys are big birds. This one was big enough to bend down the whole bush. To give you a sense of scale, the line near the bottom of the photo is the chain link fence around our property.

Turkey in tree 10 2013


The Arranged Marriage

Our beautiful rabbit Doof is no longer a bachelor. He never complained about his solitary state, but we worried that he was lonely. We always worry that our pets might be lonely, but we especially worried about Doof because he lived in aloof  splendor in our back yard.

After being rejected by the local animal shelters because Doof lives outdoors instead of inside, we turned to Craigslist and quickly found a perky female rabbit whose owners were moving to Oregon. Meet Pumpkin:

Pumpkin 1

Pumpkin is a feisty rabbit who was found in a box in her former owners’ back yard. She knows what she wants and flicks her white tail or gives a little grunt when she doesn’t get it.

The courtship itself consisted of a meeting in the living room of Pumpkin’s former family, where the two rabbits each tried to show the other one who was boss by climbing on top of each other. The one who manages to get on top is the boss. (Life is simple in the rabbit world.) The results of this first meeting were inconclusive, but we thought since they didn’t actually try to kill each other, the outlook was good. So Pumpkin and all of her rabbit paraphernalia came home with us and moved into the back yard.

It took a few days of chaperoned visits and chasing and mounting each other before they came to an understanding. When they started to groom each other, nibbling on each other’s ears and (in Pumpkin’s case) pulling out little tufts of Doof’s fur, we knew the corner had been turned. They were ready to share the same food trough.

Now they act like an old couple that has been together a long time. They sleep nestled together. They dig holes together and hide in the bushes together. Once I came into the back yard and found them both sitting together on our folding camp chair. The only time they fight is when treats appear. Then they scramble on top of each other and try to grab the food out of each other’s mouths. When it comes to food, it’s every rabbit for him or herself.

Doof Pumpkin together




The Bunny Conundrum

Doof 4 2013

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single rabbit in possession of  a large back yard must be in want of a rabbit lady friend.”

Meet Sunny’s rabbit, Doof. I hope the photo gives you a hint of what a very eligible rabbit he is: beautiful, elegantly marked with silver, velvety to the touch, curious, athletic, a great lover of apple leaves and wilted vegetables. Not long ago he moved into our back yard from Sunny’s college dorm room. He lived in rather cramped quarters in his cage for a few months until we installed what we hope is a predator-proof fence, and now he has a huge outdoor yard at his disposal. He likes roaming around and eating whatever he can find and looking for escape routes.

This being spring, and Doof being newly neutered, our thoughts naturally turned to finding him a rabbit companion. No problem! we thought, and took him down to the local shelter to meet some lady rabbits.

A “rabbit date,” as they call it at the shelter, consists of putting two rabbits in a small enclosure together for a few minutes. If they don’t try to kill each other, they are pronounced compatible. If they actually pay a bit of attention to each other, such as nibbling on each other’s backs, so much the better. Doof found a  lady rabbit named Pom Pom, a calm rabbit with white fur and red eyes, who seemed unconcerned by having Doof try to mate with her fifteen or twenty times during their date.

That’s when the trouble started. Keep in mind that all the rabbits we met at the shelter were sitting OUTSIDE  in bare little outdoor enclosures. (Enclosures, I might add, that are dwarfed by the magnificence of Doof’s back yard, which is, if I may allow myself a little bragging room, a veritable Pemberley of a yard for a rabbit, complete with old plastic pots and cardboard boxes to chew on, an ancient apple tree for shade, an assortment of delicious weeds, and lots of space for digging and tearing around.) Nevertheless, the shelter told us that they only allow their rabbits to go to homes where they will live INDOORS. Indoor rabbits live longer than outdoor rabbits, they said.

This puzzled us. Don’t rabbits live outdoors in nature? If you were a rabbit, wouldn’t you rather live outdoors (with a warm rabbit house to go in when it’s cold or wet, of course) than in someone’s bedroom, where the only things to chew are shoes, power cords for electronic devices, and drywall?

I don’t get it, I said. Isn’t there a large group of rabbits at your shelter right now, waiting to be adopted? Aren’t these rabbits actually KILLED if they don’t get adopted? Isn’t it preferable for Pom Pom to live in our rabbit yard with Doof than to sit alone in a hot little concrete yard at the shelter, waiting to be KILLED?

The shelter people were firm. No outdoor rabbits. Indoor rabbits only. Unfortunately, we can’t have an indoor rabbit because my husband is allergic to pretty much the whole animal kingdom.

Therein lies the conundrum. Is it nobler in the mind to tell one or two judicious lies on the extremely long and detailed rabbit-adopter-supplicant form, knowing that by doing so you will be saving a rabbit from the shelter and the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short life there? Or is it better to be honest and destroy, perhaps forever, the best chance of happiness for a most beloved rabbit?*

Full disclosure: I don’t like telling lies. I always pay all my taxes. If someone in front of me drops a twenty dollar bill on the street, I pick it up and give it back to them. With that in mind, I’d like to know your opinions.

*Two points for anyone who can name which scene from Pride and Prejudice I’m quoting.

A Dog’s Life

Marcus doesn’t consider a day complete unless he can…

  1. Bark  loudly into your face a hundred times or so to show you how glad he is to see you.
  2. Run by you at top speed and lick you on any available piece of bare skin.
  3. Sneeze on you, focusing on your face or any patches of bare skin that he didn’t get to lick.
  4. Jump up on the couch as soon as you leave the room and drink your coffee, spilling most of it onto the upholstery.
  5. Help you put on his leash by jumping up and down, barking, and twisting in all directions while you try to fasten the leash snap to his collar.
  6. Sneak into the bedrooms, where he is forbidden to go, eat a pack of gum still in its wrappers, then vomit up the whole thing onto the wool carpet.
  7. Bark in his “stranger danger” voice at the man of the house, who has lived with Marcus for 11 years, as he comes up to the kitchen door.
  8. Bark at the turkeys who hang around in the yard, or the deer who come up from the canyon, or cats passing by, or (his favorite) at nothing at all.

Goodbye, Kitty Cat Hat

Years ago, I found a baseball cap covered with insanely bright kitty cat fabric at the thrift store. I bought it over my daughters’ strenuous protests and wore for hiking or around town — anywhere I needed to make a fashion statement, really. It was one of my favorite thrift shop finds. I wore it for years.

Basketball Girl recently  bought me a new Oakland Raiders hat but insisted that I must promise to get rid of the kitty cat cap. I consigned it sadly to the giveaway pile.

Where my nephew Peter saw it. “I’ll take that!” he said. “That hat is cool!”

I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. So now I’m the proud owner of a stylin’ Raiders hat, and Peter is the proud owner of a vintage Kitty Cat cap. I think it has warped him already.

Peter Kitty Hat 1Here’s the side view, which gives you a better view of the awesomeness of the hat. I guess even a cat hat may have nine lives.

Peter Kitty Hat 2


Happy Easter

Easter eggs 2013

And here’s the poem we heard at church this morning, which I think perfectly expresses the Easter spirit:

i thank You God for most this amazing day
By e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Season’s End

Cheering 3 2013

It’s goodbye to cheerleading for the year (at least to wearing the cute uniform and going to games. Tumbling torture practice goes on year round.) The high school boys basketball team lost in the semifinal round of the state championship, going down to a hated rival by three painful points in overtime. It broke my heart to watch it. The girls’ team made it to the state championship finals, but also lost to the southern district champions. Ouch!

This photo shows Basketball Girl just before the girls’ final game, when everything was still possible.

This year was our first encounter with the modern sport of cheerleading, and I have to say I liked it. I feel so much better about seeing my daughter sacked out on the couch in front of Netflix when I know she just did a hundred pushups and situps at tumbling practice. Basketball Girl has found something she excels at if she works hard. Now if only some of that strenuous exercise would rub off on me.


Crocuses 2 2013One of the things I like best about living in northern California is that spring really starts in early or mid February. These crocuses came up a few days ago, along with our first daffodils and grape hyacinths. I do miss winter, though.

And when spring arrives, our family’s fancy turns to… the family Christmas letter! We started our 2012 letter during the actual Christmas season, but left it unfinished in the press of other goings on. But eventually my husband’s patience gives out and he gets in a snit points out that 2012 is long over and nothing has been done. So we held an emergency Christmas letter workshop last weekend and got the thing finished. My husband has already sent his out by email, but I really prefer to send it out the old-fashioned way, which means that mine probably won’t get out for another couple of months. And what to call it then?


What I’ve Been Doing Lately

I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that Basketball Girl has joined the cheerleading team at her high school. And when I say “team,” I really mean it. Her team competes all over the West and usually wins the national championships in its division, so it is very serious business — nothing at all like the popular-girl style of cheerleading that prevailed in the prehistoric days when I was in high school.

She only went to the tryouts to provide moral support for one of her friends who wanted to try out, and ended up as one of just a few freshmen on the team. Having never taken dance or gymnastics before, she was really starting from zero. In just a few months, she has mastered the splits, roundoffs, back walkovers, (almost) back handsprings, and all the cheerleader jumps. It’s been a big challenge for her, and we have been proud of  how hard she’s worked to learn all the cheers and tumbling moves. Here she is (on the left) with some of the other girls from the team:

Cheerleading 1 2013

But this blog is really all about me (MMMEEEEEE!), and what this means for me is that I’ve been going to a lot of basketball games to watch Basketball Girl cheer.

Luckily for me, the basketball team at her high school is a top-ranked team and very exciting to watch. Sitting in the stands brings back memories of when I was in high school and my friends and I drove all over the Chicago suburbs in my friend Pat’s 1950s Chevy to watch our high school team play basketball. I’ve even been able to get Sunny to come to a couple of games with me. She brings her knitting needles and alternately knits and cheers. We also like to admire our team’s very handsome coaches.

This was the big game against the hated arch-rival high school:

Basketball Game 1 2013

The priest on the right is another knitter, watching the big game:

Priest Knitting 1 2013

And here’s the team warming up for a tournament at which they beat the even-more-hated arch-rival team from the rich suburbs (especially satisfying since we’re the poor school from the ‘hood):

Basketball Game 2 1 2013It’s bittersweet to see these kids just starting out, so disciplined and full of purpose, and realize that I’m never again going to be where they are. Of course, where I am is pretty good, too. But I won’t be young again.

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