Well, it's Saturday night, and I've done nothing much today, really.
I had intended to get up early and go into work for a few hours to make up some time I'd missed this past week, but I didn't wake up in time. Actually, it's very rare that I get to sleep in, but Mrs. Muzzy and the girls are off at a family gathering in Wisconsin. I am not into travelling much these days, and I kind of wanted some down time after the holiday hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year's, so they went, and I stayed here.
So, anyway, I'm home alone this weekend, just me and the kitty, and it's too quiet, and even a bit lonely. It's strange, you know, how I find myself craving such alone time, and when it happens, all I can think of is how much I miss having the family around, and will be relieved when they get home. I guess Joni Mitchell was right: 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone.'
Bizarre: This evening I called up to to wish AE and LK a good night. Mrs. Muzzy took the call on her cell phone, and let each of the girls chat with me for a couple of minutes. When AE got on the line, we spoke for a minute, and I told her I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, when they return, to which she responded by bursting into tears. I was touched that she might miss me that much, but she set me straight by pointing out that the reason she was crying was that she was having a great time there, and didn't want to come home so soon. I reminded her that Dear Old Dad was missing her terribly, and she told me she missed me too, but that she would like just one more day there. Hrrmmph.
Speaking of my girls, lovely Daughter Number Two LK will be turning 4 years of age this coming Wednesday. It's hard to believe she's that old already. I know, that's just the sort of thing that parents say, but it's true: kids really *do* grow up fast. Soon enough she'll be off to college, and I'm already starting to anticipate how I'll be missing her, but fortunately that's another future post. This year we're going to have a little family-only party for her, but with six cousins ranging from 3 to 14 years of age, it will be a full house.
Like her older sister AE, LK was diagnosed as being on the Austistic Spectrum, which probably means she has Asperger Syndrome, but that level of distinction isn't made on kids as young as she is. The conventional wisdom is to give such kids intensive speech and play therapy as early as possible to try to mitigate the effects of the condition. The ones so treated are never cured, but they can have their lives transformed in ways big and small by getting help early, something that is much more difficult without such intervention.
What's fascinating to me is that LK scored almost exactly the same as AE did on the scale that measures Autism in kids - it's determined by observation of a specialist - but the kinds of issues she has are different than her sister's. LK has always been more outgoing and social on a one-on-one basis, but she seems less likely to engage other kids in play than her sister did at that age. She's also more strong-willed, and engages in long drawn-out periods of crying, as a way of coping with stresses. Of course, all kids cry. But AE could be more easily coaxed out of those moods. LK will sob for up to a half hour, until she finally announces that she's done, and then she's fine. LK is much less likely to accept instruction that her sister was at this age, as well, unless she requeste it.
Of course, along with impairments come talent. LK taught herself to read early - though not as early as did AE - but she also taught herself sign language, and writing at the same time, as well. At not-quite-four, Lk loves to sit down and write little stories, with illustations and a penmanship unmatched by most first-graders. She has also taught herself how to pick out simple kid's songs on the piano, which she plays with one finger, but with the correct phrasing intact.
Anyway, like her sister, she's an lovely and amazing child, and I feel honored that I get to be her daddy.
I got together today for lunch with a couple of buddies (and one of the friend's twenty year-old son) at Famous Dave's Barbecue. It's a chain of southern-style barbecue joints that serve up authentic greasy ribs, potato salad, beans, corn bread, and the like. It's not the kind of place that Jenny Craig would approve, but I probably don't eat there more than a couple or three times per year, so I suppose I can be forgiven the lapse in culinary judgement. Actually, it's quite good fare, and the company was pleasant. I'm glad we went.
After lunch all four of us drove across town to The Museum Of Russian Art. I'd heard good things about the place, but hadn't gotten around to checking it out since it opened several years ago. The collection isn't huge, but it's tastefully displayed in a very attractive space. Since their exhibits change regularly, I hope to go back again soon.
(The three of us guys hadn't seen each other since before Christmas, so small gifts were exchanged. I received two separate gift cards to Half-Price Books, which will be spent in short order. Thanks, dudes.)
Hazzah! The new season of 24 starts tomorrow evening with a 2-hour blowout episode, and another 2 hours on Monday night. And the new season of American Idol tryouts air on Tuesday. Is either show worth watching this year? I dunno yet, but I'll let you know.
I stopped by my brother's house on the way home from the museum to wish my SIL a happy birthday, but they were out for the evening The door was answered by her sister SV, who was babysitting the kids tongight. I'd not seen her in a number of months, since she left to go work in Shanghai last summer, so we chatted for a while, and she told me what she was up to these days. I also made sure to greet my niece and nephew propertly, and I left to go home.
My SIL's birthday is always a sad one for her and for the family. Several years back her first pregnancy ended with induced labor on her birthday, as the baby she was carrying died in utero, at around 6 or 7 months. They named the baby and gave her a burial at a nearby cemetary, which I thought touching, and very healthy. Certainly it was hard, and they will feel that loss for the rest of their lives, but they did get the chance to say goodbye.
Unfortunately, not the medical establishment has always been so clear-headed.
My mother was carrying twins the year after I was born, but the umbilical cords became tangled, and the girls died just hours before they were to be born. The doctors whisked them away, and never even let my mother see them, let alone cradle them. My mother's lifelong grief over that loss was compounded by a lack of closure that could have come had she been allowed to hold them, and name them and bury them. It's almost unimaginable today that the conventional wisdom could have once been such.
Speaking of sad, I just found out yesterday that one of my co-workers - someone I've known for years - has terminal cancer. Apparently it came on suddenly, and is so pervasive that the doctor's have told her they could treat it but that it would do nothing but slow down the inevitable, with the added downside that it would make her extremely nauseated all the time, and worse. She's decided to opt for no treatment, and has apparently even told the doctor's she does not wish to know how long she has. She wants to go about her days as if things were normal, to be able to enjoy her last few days or weeks or months with her friends, family and co-workers. I've known this lady for many, many years, and have the utmost respect for her on a professional basis, and have always found her genuinely likeable and personable. Ever since I heard the news I can't stop thinking about her, and how sad this is. I feel like I miss her already.
This Monday is a holiday for me, the celebration of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Actually, it's not his birthday, really, and the day celebrates his life, not his birth. Oddly, it was a controversial thing when the holiday was first decreed. Each state has to ratify the creation of a new holiday, and most did so, but initially the state of Arizona did not, claiming it would create a burden on the taxpayer to give the day off with pay to so many city and municipal and state employees. This did not sit well with the African Americans of that state, and indeed, the rest of the country. The state was ostracized for its position, and eventually folded its objections and declared the third Monday of each January to be Martin Luther King Day.
Of course, what was initially set up as a day of remembrence to honor the Civil Rights Activism of Dr. King has become just another holiday for most people. Even many African Americans I know can't be bothered to attend any of the several rallies in town to commemorate his accomplishments. Most of them probably won't even take the time to re-listen to his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. But then again, I probably won't either.
When the holiday was first declared, I remarked to friends that I wondered how long it would be before the day became nothing much more than an excuse to have a sale at the local mall. It didn't take long. That very first year I was at a thrift shop called Savers, and heard the following announced over the Public Address system: "Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream of peace, equality and justice for all people. At Savers, we have a dream of low prices." Well, it's the American Way, no?
I have spoken with a number of African Americans in recent years who insist to me that racial matters in this country have deteriorated over the years since Dr. King's death. I have to wonder if it's not a disappointment rising from expectations that were too optimistic during those heady days of the mid-60's. Racism has not disappeared, and many Blacks do suffer indignities in this country that Whites do not, but it's not gotten worse, by any fair measure.
As an aside, I was stunned to see language in the Deed Abstract of my own house that was written in the 1950's prohibiting the sale or rental of this property to any persons of, and I quote: "Semitic, Negro or Asiatic" descent. This kind of descrimination in housing was not the law in Minnesota, but it could be written into contracts between parties, that were then enforceable in court. The salient point is that the laws of the land did not *prohibit* such agreements, and they were altogether more common than many people realize. Of course, the Civil Rights legislation that came as a response to Dr. King's Civil Rights protests has prohibited such descrimination since the mid 1960's, but under the original terms of the development of the property where I reside, Dr. King could have not have lived in this house. Whatever else anyone says, *that* much has quite obviously changed.
But I think those who argue that things are worse today are simply not being realistic. When Dr. King was leading marches throughout the South, Blacks were supposed to have access to separate but equal education, public rest rooms, and housing, but that, of course, was kept from them. Today such indignities are ancient history. Certainly it's true that some Blacks are still denied equal justice, but the law of the land now prohibits such descrimination, and there is legal redress available when such offenses occur. Things really *have* changed in my own liftime, and the country thanks Dr. King for his efforts towards that end.
I have been walking alot in the past couple of weeks for exercize, trying to get in better shape, and to lose about 10 pounds. I've managed so far to lose a couple pounds, but I really didn't do any exercize of any consequence yesterday or today. What's more, I ate alot of stuff that simply isn't conducive to losing weight, both yesterday and today. Thing is, my hip seems to be acting up again, and it hurts something fierce. I had managed to complete 11,000 steps on Thursday, but it was so cold on Friday that I couldn't bring myself to even leave the building where I work to go to lunch. I just ate my desk. Anyway, I just heard on the news tonight that it's going to be colder still tomorrow, so I may have to make my way to the nearby mall and walk there. It's free, and alot safer than risking slipping on icy streets.
I got home to a phone message from a buddy who lives in North Carolina, asking me to call him back when I got in, which I did, but I didn't reach him. It turns out he had left for the evening when I called, so I ended up chatting with his smart and lovely almost-17 year-old daughter 'Lyss. The family had been up in Minnesota to visit this past December, and had stayed with us overnight. Obviously it hadn't been that long since we'd talked, but it was still nice to chat with her, and to find out what she's been up to since they went back home. She misses Minnesota, and told me how wrong it is that she was able to walk outdoors today in a tee shirt, and how much she'd like to be here, where it's been only about 10 degrees above zero all day. Of course I told her she was daft. I'm half-tempted to send her a baggie and tell her it was filled with frigid Minnesota air when it was sent.
Speaking of 'Lyss, she and her older brother are the ones I used to make the compilation CD's for, back in the day. It's been a while, but I made her up a CD while they were here, which she told me tonight she has enjoyed.
What was on it, you ask? Well, for your enjoyment and edification, here's the track list:
Anna Nalick - Breathe (2AM)
Coldplay - Fix You
Future Leaders of the World - Let Me Out
Jem - Finally Woken
Kasabian - Club Foot
The Killers - Mr. Brightside
John Fogerty/Blue Ridge Rangers- Working On A Building
Larry Norman - Jesus Freak
Lifehouse - You and Me
Rachael Yamagata - Letter Read
Relient K - Be My Escape
tobymac - Gone
The Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Sufjan Stevens - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever
Ringside - Struggle
Britney Spears - My Prerogative
Yellowcard - Rough Draft
Muzzy - Film Credits Roll Here
Yeah, I'm still an eclectic Musicologist, you know.
Lastly, I mentioned last week that I'd taken the girls to visit Cabela's in Rogers. Well, I shot some video on my still camera while we were there, which I spliced together tonight into a 6 minute travelogue. I didn't bother editing too much, and didn't add a voice-over, for lack of energy and time. In any case, if you've ever wanted to visit the largest outdoor outfitter's store I've ever seen, check out the YouTube video below. Enjoy.