Category Archives: Technology

On Keeping the Sabbath

I just heard a fascinating interview on Fresh Air with Judith Shulevitz as the guest.

She has written a book about the history of the Jewish sabbath and also included a memoir about her own journey into keeping Sabbath customs. I found her lyrical and articulate, and her views impressed me. What I especially appreciate is the concept of resting as a community, and of stepping back from our attempt to manipulate and control the world for one day.

For one day each week, the Sabbath encourages us to enter into a moment outside of ordinary time and all the cares associated with it. I can’t do her ideas justice; it’s worth a listen.

Even for an agnostic such as me, it was worth a listen. And now I want to read the book. It resonates the way the Unplug campaign did. I found that the weekend I unplugged for one day, I felt more centered. Last weekend I did not unplug, and I felt I hadn’t even had a weekend!

Go here for more information and to listen to the interview.

Technology Ain’t All That

Since Facebook has decided yet again to reorganize its home page, I find myself disenchanted with it. This latest incarnation provides inconsistent updates and leaves me feeling disconnected from all the folks I call friends. I’ve come to realize that I rely too much on that social network for my feeling of connection with friends.

Facebook, when it works, does allow me to see snippets of friends’ days, and to see the articles and other links they share that are interesting. (I’m on Twitter too, but I dislike the format and hardly use it except to gather or share information. Facebook’s ability to comment on an individual post makes it more relevant.)

However, now that I feel I’m missing updates, and I know others are not seeing mine consistently, I’m left with two questions:

How much to do I really need to be on the Internet, anyway?

Whatever happened to blogging as a means of connection?

Facebook is centralized; whereas I’m not going to be able to get my friends to come read my blog, I can let them see updates at FB.

But I could also email friends directly, blog, call. When they aren’t working correctly, I realize how much of a time suck all these networks are.

New Year, New Hopes

I feel jazzed at the moment. Out of the blue, yesterday I received a lovely, gracious email from a blog reader — someone who has lurked around here for three years — and it made my day. I haven’t been feeling inspired much to write lately. Hearing from someone that she has appreciated this little world I’ve created nudges me to make an effort. So here is a post.

I recently cleared out the office, which has been the art room and the overflow room. It was cluttered and hardly usable. I’ve now reorganized all the art and craft supplies and labeled the drawers. I know where stuff is and can get to it. The vacuum cleaner fits in the closet. Now it’s ready for me to mess it up again!!

For Christmas I was given a gift card to a sewing store to sign up for lessons. I was given a sewing machine last June for my birthday, but it hasn’t been used yet! Now that the desk is clear, there is room to set it up and try a project. Soon.

We were recently referred to a new realtor by a friend. If you’ve read this blog awhile, you know we’ve been searching for a decent, affordable house to buy in the Bay Area since last January. Husband has been researching online for much longer. We were using a do-it-yourself discount realtor company, and we saw dozens and dozens of houses. We nearly made offers on three. But they didn’t work out, and I was discouraged. I’d lost hope and interest by mid-year.

So we met with this new realtor, and we like her. She has knowledge and expertise and connections with other realtors. Once she is certain about what we’re looking for, she’ll preview properties for us. She’s sending us listings we would not have considered before, because her sense of how soft prices might be means we might be able to buy a house that’s priced higher and negotiate down to our comfort level. She has even made a video of one house she viewed as a way of trying new technology this year. I’m enthused again.

Last year was a year of learning about friendship — how fluid they are. One close friendship from 2008, with a mom I saw almost daily and spoke with on the phone at least as often, ended. There was a misunderstanding, then repair, then a transition on her part to another friend. I felt abandoned and replaced, and it hurt me deeply. It left me reeling, actually, for several months. I realized during this process that I had concentrated my well-being in one relationship to the exclusion of other mother friendships. Since then, I’ve made more effort and thus more friends for me and Claire. I feel connected to a wider community. When I see this person at play group events and parties, we always chat and I enjoy it; but the part of me that broke and let go has changed. Paths diverge. It’s all right.

In November, I had hoped a long-time friend from Austin would arrange to visit with me so I could introduce her to Claire during our visit. (We’d met in 1999.) I’d been close to her when her son was born; I was designated an “auntie.” After I moved, we drifted some and had less contact. She got more passionately involved in other pursuits in 2007 and stopped following through on the small gestures and actions that nurture a friendship. I was a little hurt by this, especially because there was no response to my baby shower or Claire’s birth — and months after her birth, the friend sent a small package of hand-me-down stuff.

Well, the visit didn’t work out, and she was very blasé about it, and I wrote her about how I felt. She conceded she’d dropped the ball and mentioned wanting to connect again, and she pointed out that I had seemed distant as well. I was encouraged and looked forward to responding and trying to reconcile. However, I didn’t reply to her email quickly enough. It gave her time to reassess that she really didn’t feel it was worth it. She decided to “un-friend” me officially from her life: off of Facebook and Flickr, off my blog, everything. She removed my blog link from her blog. I imagine she has purged my contact information. I hate to think what she might have done to the artwork I’ve made and given to her in the past. It was thorough and unilateral, and it first it stunned me. But then, I decided to let it go. If that’s what she needed to do, it’s her loss. Considering the way things were, it isn’t much of one.

Lastly, someone who found my blog a couple years ago became a reader and felt inspired to start his own blog. He is a wonderful photographer and has interesting insights on the politics of our day. As my offline life got busier, I have stopped commenting on most blogs that I read. For some reason, this person felt it important to send me an email with a subject line of “Farewell” and to inform me that he was removing me from his list of blogs on his blog, because I don’t comment enough for it to feel like an exchange. He wasn’t going to read my blog anymore. He assured me that he knows I’m busy with a wonderful child, and this wasn’t meant as a slap to me. Yet somehow, it did feel like a slap. I didn’t dwell on it long, but I was reminded how tenuous our online connections can be.

So my hope for this year is that I manage to nurture the community I have offline, maintain connections with far-flung friends, and revive my online presence a bit. Somewhere in there I want to read books, make art, knit, learn to sew, buy a house, and do fun things with my family. Well, sleep is overrated, anyway.

Happy new year everyone!

The Joy of Discovery

Today we took Claire to the Children’s Discovery Museum, and she had a grand time. She played with water, climbed ramps, painted, crawled, turned things over, looked in mirrors, climbed inside boxes, danced, painted her face, and generally filled her brain through all her senses. We bought a family membership, and we’ll be going frequently from now on, especially with rainy season coming.

Claire likes to play the beep-beep nose game (sometimes Mommy just needs to have her nose beeped). She’s getting more vocal about things she doesn’t want; “Mommy won’t make that noise!” She named her stuffed doggie animals (previously known as black doggy and brown doggy) “Pepper” and “Puff” respectively. Everything is mommy, daddy, and baby: buses, pieces of food, stuffed animal toys, cutlery. She needs everything to be in threes like that. She sings many songs, some of which she hasn’t heard in months (the persistence of memory!) and often is nearly on-key.

Claire is two weeks away from turning two, and it’s been an amazing journey so far. I’ll be posting more in the future about the fun projects we do and the resources and ideas I discover on the way.

at 23 months (in 4 days)

Do The Right Thing

It’s Earth Day. One of our kitchen fluorescent tube lights burned out and we have to dispose of it. After some Googling, I found this information for California:

A fluorescent light tube in your dumpster is a violation of the hazardous waste laws. Violation of these laws can result in large fines and criminal prosecution.

Fluorescent tubes contain mercury and become hazardous wastes when they no longer work. Mercury poses especially serious hazards to pregnant women and small children. Non-working tubes must be recycled by an authorized recycling firm and cannot be discarded in the trash.

Fluorescent tubes and bulbs may be managed as universal wastes under Title 22, Chapter 23 of the California Code of Regulations. This allows those who wish to discard their fluorescent tubes and lamps to do so more easily than if they were managed as hazardous wastes.

Although spent fluorescent lights can not go into the trash, there are several options for getting them to an environmentally safe and responsible recycler.

For residential disposal, you can do the following:

Find a partner in the Take-It-Back Program and drop it off (such as Orchard Supply Hardware).

Find the local Household Hazardous Waste Facility to take fluorescent tubes
and bulbs along with other universal wastes — search Earth911 or the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

This and more information for California is in this PDF.

Finally

Husband and I are about to watch the very last episode of Battlestar Galactica. I saw a headline that said it was immersion therapy for the post 9/11 world. It’s a dark series, but it has richly developed characters and is intensely interesting. I’m eager to know how they resolve all this. I’ve never been much of a sci-fi fan, but this series encompasses so much more than what people might think when they consider the genre.

Aftermath

The surgery was fine. I had no issue with anesthesia. Yay me!

Turned out that I had two tears in my medial meniscus. One of them had actually bent in on itself, so the cartilage was folded under. The surgeon also smoothed a little of the cartilage under my kneecap, though since it doesn’t grow back he didn’t want to do too much. Removal of cartilage such as the meniscus sets the stage for arthritis. Oh, I also have some arthritis in the area already from walking on this untreated for nearly two years. Ah well. On the upside, having the removal done instead of a repair means I’m off crutches within two weeks instead of on them for four.

Claire is fine. The babysitter arrived while she ate an early lunch, so she knew Mommy and Daddy were leaving. I managed to put her down for a nap at 11:30 a.m.; then we left. She slept two hours! When I got home she wasn’t clingy or upset. She’d had a grand time with A and enjoyed the new toys I’d left for her. She was curious about my crutches — indeed, she wants to walk off with them. She also wanted to crawl on top of me as I laid on the couch, but we told her I have a big ouchie boo-boo. She seems to understand this a bit.

Husband took good care of all of us. Two friends brought over a little care package of yummy bath goodies, a knitting magazine, and magazine cookbood for slow cookers and casseroles. The pictures are fun to look at. I can’t quite focus my eyes. The surgeon called to see how I’m doing, so my work here is done! I’ve been dozing on the couch in a haze of hydrocodone. I’m too tired to resist its serenade, so I’ll sign off here.

Oh, and happy anniversary, Husband. We’ve been married four years!

This And That

My surgery is set for Friday, March 13. No, I’m not superstitious. That is also my wedding anniversary! My SIL is coming the next day, so she will help and Husband will also be home. My MIL is on stand-by, so to speak. We won’t know until after the surgery if it will be a removal or a repair. If it’s a repair, I will be on crutches four weeks, and we will need my MIL. A removal of the cartilage is more common and much easier to heal from.

Claire is not going to like this. First off, her babysitter will be with her all day on March 13 and will put her down for a nap. The only people whom Claire falls asleep for is me and Husband, so it remains to be seen if she’ll nap. She also won’t understand why I am not moving, and if I don’t rise to her imperious commands (Get up! Get up!) and play, we’ll see a lot of tantrums. It’s going to be interesting.

What else is new? Let’s see… I’m feeling some dislocation and sadness because I managed to alienate a close friend and while we are still friends, it is clear that a level of intimacy is gone. This friend has instead moved closer to another mutual friend. I am trying to let things be, and to remain open, and to remember love. There are consequences to my actions. I brought this on myself, so to speak.

Given that my free time is limited, I’ve been giving thought to paring down some of my online activities that suck time out from under me. I’m unsubscribing from certain newsletters, and I’ve deleted my account from Facebook. There are too few moments in each day, and I have the email addresses and phone numbers of people I want to keep in touch with. Simplicity is key.

I finally finished a scarf for my sister Ellen. It’s pretty, and I’ll post a photo of it later. Now I need to think of something else to knit.

The Plan

I am so so tired, so this will be a brief post.

I saw the surgeon today. All my questions were answered adequately. I can schedule the surgery any time, but the longer I wait (or the more it hurts) to greater the damage, and if my knee suddenly locks I’ll need immediate surgery.

It’s a three-hour procedure under general anesthesia. I’ll be on crutches for anywhere from 4-14 days, and will need to be careful with bending and stress up to six weeks after surgery. He said that it will take six months after the surgery for full recovery. I’ll need to have physical therapy once or twice a week for about six weeks.

So, we now need to figure out when to schedule this. I obviously will need help, as I can’t get up and down stairs on crutches while holding Claire, and I can’t really shepherd her well while using them either. My sister-in-law is coming soon, Husband’s mother is willing to come help, and Husband can take time off. So we’ll figure out a plan.

Why Did I Wait?

When I was pregnant in 2007, I remember a day when I came back from a walk (or maybe a trip to the grocery store) when my left knee ached. (There were several trips to Safeway when my foot stepped in something on the floor and I slipped. The management has improved maintenance since then.) I chalked up the pain to pregnancy hormones and hoped it would go away.

It didn’t. Then I assumed it was just my “advanced” age — you know, the fact that a mid-40s body has aches and pains that a mid-20s body doesn’t. I also figured that a visit to the doctor would result in my concern being dismissed with a recommendation to just put some ice on it.

When my sister E visited in December, she urged me to look into it. I did, and I had an MRI this morning. The result: I have a complex tear of the medial meniscus. I was referred to a surgeon and have an appointment for February 23 in the afternoon to review the problem and the options.

So, it is validating to know that my pain is real. I feel chagrined that I didn’t pursue this sooner. I could have been pain free at least a year ago! I also feel a little daunted at the thought of being laid up with a toddler and having to navigate our 27 steps in the townhome. Maybe the surgery will be less invasive and intense than my imagination manufactures.