Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"Many credentes would also eventually receive the consolamentum as death drew near — performing the ritual of liberation at a moment when the heavy obligations of purity required of Perfecti would be temporally short. Some of those who received the sacrament of the consolamentum upon their death-beds may thereafter have shunned further food or drink in order to speed death. This has been termed the endura. It was claimed by Catharism's opponents that by such self-imposed starvation, the Cathars were committing suicide in order to escape this world." Wikipedia entry for Catharism

Nina is not eating. Well, not eating much. She runs into the kitchen after me, purring and meowing but can't seem to eat. Last night we tried chicken liver but she could'nt do it. She was obviously hungry, so I went thru the whole kitchen trying to find something she would eat. She turned down smoked salmon, half and half, creme cheese, and chicken gravy from left over pot pie.

The time is coming and its far too soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heinz 57

A brief aside: During my Aunt Carolyn and Aunt Rose's visit yesterday I found out some things about my Mom's side of the family. The equation I had been given had been:

Hungarian (Grandmother) + Transylvanian (Grandfather) = Mom's family.

Turns out that the equation is a bit too simplistic. The recipe reads more like this:

Hungarian (Grandmother)
Transylvanian (Grandfather)
Greek (Great Grandfather)
Turkish (Great Grandmother)
German (Other Great Grandmother)

That means (German + Greek + Turkish + Hungarian + Transylvanian + More German + Deported English Convicts) + (Irish x 3 + Croation) = Donovan.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Whew, But In a Good Way

The past few days have been an absolute social whirlwind for all of us here in my little family. I took off last Thursday to clean the house and prepare for our guest and old buddy, Mee O, to stay with us while she was in town for my sisters in laws party. Claire and Heather have been together 10 years and decided to throw a big party so all of their friends could meet each other. On Friday, my Aunt Carolyn called to ask if she, my Aunt Rose and their friends from Germany could visit. Please understand that, in the 18 years I've lived in Pittsburgh, my Aunts have come here three times to visit me. One of those was for my wedding. We could'nt say no but the weekend was out, so Monday became Aunt Day.

Everything about Claire and Heather's party was lovely, including the people and the food and drinks and the tablesettings. They made such a good looking couple that I almost felt guilty bringing Donovan. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury; Exhibits A and B:

He really was a very good baby the whole time we were there. He ended up charming Mee O who declared herself his new Aunt and left his general vicinity on a couple of occasions to stop herself from putting his feet in her mouth.

There is no Shanley event without some sort of Post Shanley Event Event so we went over to the in laws place to hang out with the out of town folks--again, a clean sweep for Donovan in the popularity division. On his second night up past his bedtime he remained just as happy and sociable as could be.

Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of my Aunts' visit. You have to understand that our house, tho better for the day I took to clean, is still very much a work in progress. You also have to understand that my Mom's family has always been very dedicated to their cleaning schedule ("God Forbid" my Mom, the lone dissenter of the system would say, "that anyone die on laundry day"). They are in their 80s and they still clean their house themselves and it is, indeed, spotless.


Mike and I got up, had breakfast, fed the boy, rocked him in his stroller intoning "Pleaseohpleaseohpleeeeeasefallasleeepwehavesomuchtodo!" It worked and, as soon as Donovan was down, Mike and I managed to squeeze the huge new/used couch into the front room. So Mike was then dispatched to the store to buy lunch for everyone and I cleaned like a fiend.

Mike got home, spelled me off, I showered and we waited. Not like the Aunts to be late. When they showed up carrying cups from Wendy's, we knew the lunch we had put off having was going to be a little late in coming.

The Hirsches are a family with whom my Aunt Carolyn has been corresponding since 1954. I thought they had met over care packages my Mom's family sent to post WWII Berlin but 1954 sounds more like its connected to the Hungarian Revolution--must check on that. When I was in highschool and college the two Hirsch boys were a minor bane to my existance as my Aunts would always talk about what wonderful jobs they had, and sooo much education! This usually would come up when I'd mention being a telemarketer. Joking aside, they are a lovely family and they brought Donovan a fantastic handmade teddybear--photos will follow. We had a nice visit and I'm sure everyone else thought he was fine, but Donny had obviously had enough with the socializing. He was never bad, he just was'nt the Uber Baby Zen Well of Patience and Smiles that he usually is. Nevertheless, everyone got to play pass the baby. Tonight, I am going to meltdown some old silverware and make a medal For Jack Hirsch for bravely and boldly driving a rental car full of old people thru Pittsburgh and into the heart of Polish Hill. Its the least I can do.

Mike took a few photos but the ones with both of my Aunts did'nt turn out well. This one of my Aunt Carolyn, tho, is pretty sweet.

Aunt Carolyn was born on Leap Year so she is 22.

After they left, all 5 of us (I'm including the cats) collapsed on various pieces of furniture in the front room and slept. I was the first one up and I should go down and check on everyone. An odd postscript to all of this is we have fancy catered food and huge opened bottles of booze left over from Claire and Heather's party plus we have the lunch stuff we bought that was not used today. If we wanted to, we could have roasted asparagus, croissants and Dewars for dinner tonight. Not bad!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Call Me Mrs. Gerber

Seems like time for a new photo. Too much Talk; Not Enough Baby.

All three of us got home late tonight and I have only myself to blame. I could have brought the boy home on a bus right after daycare but I just could'nt. Instead, we took a nice, leisurely walk to Mike's store--so leisurely, in fact, that Donovan was sound asleep by the time we got there. Mike still had an hour and a half to work so I looked around the store, gave Donny a bottle and then we took another walk to the Borders down the way. Nice as it was, it means dinner did'nt get on the table until about 10pm. After that there were dishes to do and all sorts of housekeeping to be done but the one thing I decided had to happen was I had to make babyfood.

I may not be able to nurse but I am going to try and be the ubermutter and make Donovan's babyfood--at least until I can't anymore due to work schedules or whatever. You would think that I had learned my lesson and not purchased the props before the experiment but I have already stocked up on cookbooks (2), "baby cubes" food storage containers (1 each of two different sizes), and a baby food mill. Both of my cookbooks say you can use a food processor, which we have, but its such a bitch to clean. Plus, its loud and sort of obnoxious. The babyfood mill did'nt really come with instructions but I was able to figure it out alright. I poaches a couple of gala apples, put them and the accompanying water in the grinder, turned the handle, pushed down and Voila! Baby Food! I'm kind of excited to give him his first real food food tomorrow. I'm hoping to see some sort of Eureka! look on his face when he tastes it.

We took him in for his developmental check up a couple of days ago, but thats a whole other story. A good story but a whole other one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It Means Nothing To Me, OhhhhhhhhhVienna!...

Amid all the current tunics and 80s ripoff clothes lurk strange and pretty direct references to clothes of which I've seen photos in books about the Symbolist movement in both Belgium and Vienna. There is also some (I think) Viennese Art Nouveau stuff--is that called "Jeungenstile"? Someone who took German instead of French help me out here... ANYhow, I bring this up as Donovan and I went downtown today to shop for a variety of things. For him we needed something, anything, for him to wear to his Aunts' anniversary party next week and a nice wedding in October. Me, I needed somthing, anything, to wear to his Aunts' anniversary party next week and a nice wedding in October. I also need a Fall coat with out holes and with buttons.

Walking around in the heartbreakingly beautiful first cool weather of Fall, I was reminded of why I love downtown Pittsburgh--its like shopping at Goodwill in that there are eras and eras and eras of style to choose from. Feeling a bit Art Deco? How about the huge "300" on the office building across the street from The Duquesne Club? Gothic and overwrought? The Union Trust Building, my friend, is for you. That being said, for all the insane architecture, there are really only two places to shop (three if you count Saks, but their unstated No Riff Raff policy has always kept me away). I started at KAUFMANNS (ahem) where, low and behold, I found a dress that looked like, if it was floor length and had long sleeves, Fernand Khnopff's sister might have worn it. It fit, I bought it, case closed.

For Donovan, I found...well, I really want to give it away but I shouldn't. Suffice it to say, I'm still laughing. I apologize for my caginess and will make up for it with photos from the party.

*Snort* Ha. Hahahaha. I can say no more...

Friday, September 14, 2007

"The One Eyed Dog Walks Alone"

Getting dressed today, I decided that I am not frumpy and middle aged—I am actually a secret agent. While the acute lack of good clothes is an effective part of my disguise, having a baby is probably the most fiendishly convincing component of my ruse. Luckily Donovan, or Operative 7 as I like to call him, is fully comprised of the situation. I began his secret education early, ensuring that he can spend all day in daycare listening to the worst ever Christian children’s music and no one will ever know that, really, he and his Mom listen to Swans together before bedtime.

I must protect this fragile secret life of ours and if that means none of my socks can match any of my other clothes, so be it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Standing at the bus stop 1/2 a block from home and, suddenly, I get that wave of nausea. You know the one: the one you get in that first snap of chilly autumn weather as your body readjusts itself to temperature and stuff like that. Also, could it be that, since my pregnancy, I cannot wear Pink Sugar cologne? I think my nose recalibrated itself. Anyhow, the nausea--it must be dealt with meaning that I missed the bus meaning that I'm late for work. Again.


Donovan had another doctor's appointment yesterday (speaking of being late) and I think he has 2 more before the month is over. May I say, with all sincerity: THANK YOU SWEET JESUS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE. The doctor (a "specialist") looked at him for all of 3 minutes and the entire time I could hear an old time gas pump in my head: ka-CHING! ka-CHING! When I told Mike's Dad (who drove us there) the doctor talked to Donny in a Donald Duck voice, he said, "That'll probably cost you extra." Ha.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Three Parter

Part 1: Donovan had his first solid food yesterday and, as an experiment it went very well:

The bib is a total prop--my Mom gave it to us and I thought it was great but its more of an antique than anything. Still, great moments call for great fashion.

It was fun feeding him Saturday morning. I wonder how much fun it will be every morning after that for the rest of my life. I should have prefaced that with an aside about how I'm not really a morning person...

Part 2: This is almost a professional story so I'm going to be coy about the names. There is a lady who comes into Mike's store just about every other day. She is an older lady and is related to a family that is a big deal at the University where I work. In fact, there is both a building and a school with her family name. Mike saw her at church today and decided to take Donovan over to meet her. She was quite charmed--and then the projectile vomiting started. It missed her but did manage to get on the photo album from her husband's memorial service. Luckily, that had a vinyl cover on it. I'll need to teach Donovan the profitable vaugaries of University VIP Politics.

Part 3: After church we wanted to take a gift card we got out to a Babies R Us. As the Parkway is under reconstruction, we drove out to Bethel Park. There are some lovely homes in Bethel Park--not Victorian but more that whimiscal take on cottages and castles from the 1920s and 1930s. Maybe that's why people think they can live out there. We got into the strip mall section of the city and--friends, I cannot lie and say I have moral and aesthetic problems with Malls. They're not my favorite thing but whatever. After today tho--whew. I think what made it worse was watching some beefy, 50-60 year old guy with a cigarette in his mouth yelling "SHUT THE HELL UP! YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY!" He was shouting at a crying baby in a carseat. And by baby I mean "baby." If this kid was more than a month old, I would be surprised. I still feel sick and dirty that I did'nt say anything to his stupid bully ass. Doing so probably would have made matters worse but still. I'm starting to realize that having a kid, I have forfeited my comfortable ironic distance.

Babies R Us had a baby food mill but no freezer pack sets. I also got all up in arms about the lack of good boy clothes. I would feel creepy dressing my 5 month old in camo, I hate sports and that leaves puppies and trucks. Sigh.

Oh--did I mention the bully yelling at the baby was doing so in the parking lot of Babies R Us? I think I need some Peptol Bismol...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Gimme A Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer

It occur ed to me today, as I sat in the breakroom eating Oreos and drinking a bottle of diet Coke, that its been awhile since anyone has told me how good I look for someone who has just given birth. The first couple of months after I had Donovan I ended up weighing less than I did before my pregnancy. People would say, "You look really good!" with the same inflection of a gossipy friend saying "Oh my God, are you serious?" Since then, the return of bad habits and the end of that superdooper breastfeeding metabolism seem to have caught up to me. Why am I posting this now when I should be getting ready to catch the bus to get my kid? I'm hoping that by "going public" I can help discipline myself to be more circumspect about what I eat, where I spend my money and just how much activity I need and get.

Won't that make for fascinating reading? I apologize in advance.

Balloons with Slow Leaks

Nina got her sutures out today, thanks in large part to my good buddy, Kirsten, taking the time to drive us out to our vet. Nina was the super-good patient, actually purring and kneading while the nice lady wielded her staple remover. The nice lady in question became the second person in so many days to build up my hopes and then, innocently, deflate them:

NICE LADY: What a good kitty! What was her operation for?
ME: They removed a tumor from her intestine
NICE LADY: She's better now, right?
ME: Well, she's happier. She does have lymphoma, tho.
NICE LADY: [with dismissive wave of staple remover] Oh, there's a cat who comes here who's had lymphoma for four years!
ME: [perking up] Really?!? They told me she had 2 months!
NICE LADY: Its different for all cats. The one I'm talking about responded really well to the treatments.
ME: Oh. We can't afford the treatments
NICE LADY: Well, just love her as much as you can...


Yesterday at Whole Foods a very nice guy who I remember from various LUPEC events was chatting with me and fussing over Donovan. He looked at me very thoughtfully and said, "You look like an actress...You look like an actress..." Folks, you should never follow up that proclamation with a statement that begins "Have you ever seen the John Waters film..." I was really tempted to interrupt him and say, "Uh, that was an actor..."

Donny had a fever last night due to the shots he got at his doctor's visit. I had plans with his Aunt Shirley that included drinks at Kelly's. Even tho he seemed to be feeling better, I had to give her a raincheck as I didn't feel right sending the husband home alone with a potentially fussy baby. Luckily he saved his fussiness till right before bed. Unluckily, that meant I missed out on drinks at Kellys.

Sigh again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It Is A Sad and Beautiful World

I've been holding off on broadcasting the bad news that Nina has lymphoma. The bad news in its entirety is that her biopsy revealed a very aggressive form of lymphoma and she will probably only be with us for 2 or 3 more months.

The good news is that its very easy, for the most part, not to dwell on that fact as she is feeling so much better since her surgery. She's back to her old affectionate, laphog self. She, obviously, is feeling fine. So right now the plan is to love her as much as we can and enjoy the time we have. If we think any harder about it--well, we currently are opting not to think any harder about it.

Speaking of sad news, Mike's Aunt Margie died this weekend. She had been very ill for a long time so it was not unexpected but it was still sad in that end-of-an-era way. Mike and I couldn't make the funeral, but we packed up the boy and went to the viewing. Donovan was his perfect charming self, smiling at everyone, laughing and cooing. This was his debut for the older set in Mike's family and he helped cheer alot of folks up. Cheered up alot of folks. Not sure the grammar on that one...

Today, Donny had to go for his "well baby" check up. He now clocks in at 13 lbs. 5 oz--one of the nurses actually called him a "bruiser"! When I begged to differ--he's not a bruiser, he's a delicate china doll!--Mike clarified that he is not a bruiser; he's a gentleman.

Right on.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

An Open Letter to Chicago

Dear Chicago,

You are a lovely city. I know we've just met but I can see that you're special. Your lake horizon is beautiful, your architecture is gorgeous, and your citizens are all fashionably dressed. There were times during my visit that I got a whiff of flowers, just a late summer breeze with flowers drifting on it, but it was heady and lush.

But the bottom line, Chicago, is that you are too expensive. Maybe you aren't really but your hotels are. $13.75 for a 2 second phone hook up? I am appalled; APPALLED! All the flowers in the world, wafting or no, cannot make up for the phone bill portion of my hotel bill.

I thought we had something special, Chicago, but you only wanted me for my money. I'm going home to my kid who, luckily, is too young to notice that, for the next three months, his Enfamil is really only going to be Ramen Noodle Water.