Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mattress, going out for dinner.

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Maxi is claiming our old, discarded mattress.  It's a hand-me-down IKEA mattress from Seth and Christine.  I think they slept on it for 10 years before they gave it to us.  We slept on it for another eight years?  It was time to let it go.  Jeremy had been asking for a new mattress for a least a year now, but I couldn't decide which mattress to get until I visited Lael in NYC.  She had bought a Nest mattress after going to Manhattan and trying out all the mattress-in-a-box companies that had showrooms there and she even planned a route for me to retrace her mattress pilgrimage.  I tried out her mattress in her apartment and declared it good enough.  My early birthday gift arrived yesterday, compressed and vacuum sealed in a box.  We used the chair lift to get it up the stairs.  Ahhh, sleeping is my most favorite hobby.

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Jeremy took us ladies out for Chinese food tonight.  We haven't taken Edda to A & J's in a while...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Request for love & good thoughts.

Please send all your love and good thoughts to Molly, Edda's Rett sister.  She's back in the hospital fighting a systemic infection following her spinal fusion.   xoxo.

Monday, August 14, 2017

US Citizen, corn dog, leader!

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Guess who just joined this f*ed-up country of ours?  Eliana!  We are lucky, lucky to have you.  <3

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I indulged in my one fair-food item today - a corn dog.  I could tell from the first bite it was not very good, I watched them take the corn dog from the pile and pierce toothpick holes into the corn crust and refry it in an attempt to bring it back to first-time fried goodness.  I probably should have thrown it away and gone to another vendor (or waited until it was super busy to get a true, first fried corn dog) since I get only one fair-food item a year, but I had walked all the way out of the fair proper and to the boy scout seating area and only had 10 minutes before my next traffic flagging shift, so I ate it. And the mustard was a little runny.  Strange.  I hope it doesn't make me sick tonight.


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I worked 6 hours at the fair this afternoon, 30 minutes at a flagging station, 30 minutes chilling out on our folding lawn chairs in the shade.  I am not accustomed to being bossed around by my son.  "Mom, could you please work the exit lane in 10 minutes?  Don't worry, I can explain it to you."  Huh?  And then 10 minutes later, there is a group yell - "All adults who have been given assignments, leave now to go to your spot."

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Vince, though reluctant to run for any formal position of power, is apparently showing some leadership talent in this boy-led parking endeavor.   Who knows where he got it from.  I think neither Jeremy nor I have this particular thing that Vince has.  He's even tempered, outgoing, helpful and doesn't seem to be nervous about making a decision.  He can keep everyone in good spirits when communication breaks down or when there is a crisis of some sort.  Parking cars does not sound like a complicated, logistical, and contentious operation, but there is a lot going that I as an adult volunteer don't even understand.  There are 5-6 kid stations and 4-5 adult stations that have to constantly be staffed in 30 minute shifts.  The kid positions are ranked by experience, the little kids get the easier & safer jobs, the older kids get the more dangerous job of directing cars into spaces.  Kids working directly with drivers end up getting yelled at a bunch.  Vince & company estimate it 1/70th of cars will yell at you. As the lot fills, and it can do that quickly at certain hours of the day, the kids have to decide how to backfill in empty spots to keep the line going quickly enough so that it doesn't back onto the main roads just outside the fair.  They have to decide how many parking teams need to be deployed and keep track of who is in what position (using the whiteboard and magnetized names) and how long they've been working.  There is also a regular water delivery to each station that happens mid-every-shift (hence the driving of the golf cart) and equipment (lights, walkie-talkies) to maintain.

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I hear of Vince's leader-ing only second hand from other parties who are closer to the action, so I made some effort today to spy on my son in action.  Honestly, I saw him mainly laughing at youtube videos, making faces on Snapchat and throwing trash at other scouts.  Though certainly, he did confidently tell me what to do and when.  I'll try to spy some more tomorrow - my last shift!  Woo hoo.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tony & Tash, hipster steak, sexy light up safety vest.

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Tony and Natasha came over for dinner on Saturday night.  We were there at their wedding many moons ago (the kids were in the wedding party) and they are about to have a baby!  Very exciting.  By chance, Jeremy ran into Tony downtown and then we arranged for a dinner together before the baby is due.  We talked a lot about doctoring (Natasha) and lawyering (Tony) and lots of non-work stuff as well.

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They brought some pastries with lots of cream.

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Meanwhile on the left coast, Donald went to visit Mom & Dad on the outskirts of Portland.

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Donald took Mom and Dad to hipster sandwich shops:

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And hipster steak shops:

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And fixed all the Wifi dead spots in their house.

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Then back in MD, while I spent the weekend working, the boys went back to the fair to drive the golf cart:

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Deliver water:

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I can only think of one word when I look at this photo of Jeremy.  Sexy.  Rawr.

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Vince took all our Christmas lights and hung them up at central command, Baker.  I hope we get them back sometime.

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And I got to play with a kitten.  Violet.  Meow.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Molly, Soojung, Fair/carpools.

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I spent over 4 hours driving on Thursday to get a subset of the usual suspects together.  I first drove to DC to see Molly who had her spinal fusion two Fridays ago (she looks really great!) and to pick up her brother and sister and bring them to Woodbine to see Soojung's family.  Kevin played the ukulele for me.

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At Soojung's house, Kichul showed me his MacGyver-ed artificial pancreas which can automatically work with his glucose sensor and insulin pump to (almost) effortlessly control his sugar levels.  He even got a pal to three-D print the purple case so he didn't have to use a Tic Tac box.

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We spent the day just hanging out.  Playing Wii.  Eating snacks.  Teaching Argo how to recognize seizures in Alice.



Soojung played the ukelele for me (2nd time in a day!  not bad).

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There was some frisbee playing.

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And goofing around.



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Then I drove Sophie & Rory and Vince back to Gaithersburg to drop Vince off at the MoCo fair, then to DC to drop off S & R, then back to the fair to pick up a carpool's worth of kids.

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At noon today, I loaded up an entire vanful of boys to take them to the first shift at the fair.  This is the first summer these boys are in charge of the whole operation.  They are the "older boys" now.

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I saw a two-week old lamb.

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I got to drive a golf cart.  If you noticed, I have not done much work this week.  I'm doing other things like driving a golf cart around.  Work awaits me this weekend.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Budget, rice patty hat, Cornell!

Tony texted me today and asked, "The Met charges admission now???!?!?!"  Well, OK, no it does not charge admission, it is still pay as you please.  But I paid the suggested donation, because it's worth $25 to me to see a Picasso three inches from my face.  I could have brought the total expenditures down in the following way - I could have taken Lael up on her offer of her couch all three nights.  I could have booked only the two nights at the youth hostel because I ended up sleeping in Brooklyn, but I didn't know at the time I made the reservation and paid that I would sleep on Lael's couch on Sat night.  I could have paid for the subway for each trip I made, I think the unlimited pass pays for itself in 12 trips and I made 10 trips.  But I know myself and if I paid for each trip, I would walk many more blocks or try to do things all in a one mile radius to "save a trip" thereby wasting a lot of time walking or limiting myself to a particular area instead of just taking the damn subway.  I could have paid a dollar at the Met.  I could have not bought the needed umbrella (it rained all day Monday) at the NY public library for $25 dollars and paid $5 on the street, but, again, I like supporting the library.  And finally, I could have packed just a bit better if I had realized earlier I needed to be slightly dressed up for two fancier meals, but the Charlotte in Chelsea meal wasn't arranged for until I was already in NYC. And I needed more underwear too.  So I think I could have done it for $100 cheaper, but I think it was worth $100 to me to do it the way I did.

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Vince is getting ready for the county fair.  We have many pairs of walkie-talkies in the house.  Banks and banks of charging batteries.  He wants to wear the triangle rice patty hat to stand in the grassy field all day to park the cars.  I immediately looked at the hat and asked Adriana who was standing in the kitchen if the triangle hat was cultural appropriation and therefore, ahem, a little racist.  Vince defended himself against the cultural appropriation accusation with the following:  1) He bought it in China.  2) He saw people in China wearing it.  3) He is Chinese.  4) It's damn good protection from the sun.  Adriana (who is blond and blue-eyed) said that she thought, as a non-person of color, that she was in no position to determine if it was cultural appropriation, but she knew it was not at all appropriate for her to wear the hat.

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Sophie & Vince testing out the range of the walkie-talkies.

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Edda's time at Camp JCC is almost over (it ends on Friday and we STILL have three more weeks of summer) and it's been a great summer because of Aurora's companionship.  We invited Aurora's family (Jeremy and Aurora's dad, John, were coworkers at UCS, so we've known them for a while) over for dinner last night to celebrate a successful summer and to wish Aurora good luck as a freshman at Cornell!  We talked a lot about decathalons which is what John does in his spare time.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NYC, Lael, youth hostel.


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Vince left for Bard last Thursday - we'd been planning this trip for a while and Jeremy suggested that I tag along and go to NYC and maybe spend some time with Vince and Bob/Katherine in NYC and then some time on my own.  Jeremy & Bob even had some suggestions of who I should see to anchor the trip and so I did end up going for a long weekend.   I took Friday & Monday off of work, made a few social engagements and bought myself a bus ticket.  We booked Vince on the train on Thursday.  Vince is so self-sufficient, he managed a tight connection at Penn Station and made it to Rhinebeck right on time. I couldn't leave Thursday, I left on Friday.

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Bus from Bethesda:

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I promised myself not to get too hung up on how much money I was going to spend and just do the things I wanted to do.  Here I am at the top of the Empire State Building.  It was a gorgeous Friday afternoon.  I thought the tourist lines would be short and they were if the stanchions were any indication, but it still took me an hour to get to the top.

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I traveled around via subway, which I haven't done in a long time.  Usually, we are in NYC with Edda and it's just impossible to manage all the stairs with her so we end up taking cabs or walking.  For an able bodied person, the subway is a dream.  In DC on the weekends, you'll need to wait 20 min for a train.  Here, even on a Sunday, the trains ran every 5 minutes.

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Traveled to see the defiant girl down in the financial district:

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Saturday, I went to see Lael in Brooklyn.

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I asked her to plan the day and we took a ferry:

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To see goats:

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And play minigolf on Governor's Island.

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I crashed on her couch that night and said goodbye to her in the early morning on Sunday.

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I went to the Met on Sunday.  I had downloaded the Met app and spent a nice couple of hours walking around the 2nd floor of the museum while some guy with a British accent (in my phone) talked about a bunch of exhibits including this painting of Venus with her son Cupid peeing on her.  (I thought they should record the tour with a guy with a New York accent.  I would have found that very amusing, but Jeremy said that the Met would not find it amusing at all.)

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Sunday afternoon/evening, I went to the High Line with Charlotte and had a lovely Italian dinner with her and her family Augie & Jane down in Chelsea.  We talked a lot about ballet.  These people are ballet fans.

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Monday morning - the NY public library reading room.

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Monday at lunch, I met up with Cl*ire who is a nurse by training, and also ended up being the first woman president of an Ivy League college in the mid-1990s.  At 90, she is still an ambitious and impressive person.  Her immediate advice for me - "work for a year, and then get your PhD".  How old are you? she asked.  Almost 45, I replied.  Well, you have no time to waste then!  All the jobs that you'll want to do will require a PhD. (Like running a university?)    All my excuses for not being ambitious started to sound a bit lame as they left my mouth.  Why not get a job at Hopkins? Or Georgetown?  Well, because (I have (already) thought of this), I would have to get up at 4:30 am and not be back at the house until 8:30 pm at least three random days a week.  Cl*ire asks,  how much are you needed at home?  (I had told her about Edda and my various other things that I do.)  Well, do I count my desire to be at home asleep in my bed most days at 4:30 am a "need to be at home thing" or a "want to be at home thing"?  Anyways, it was a fun, lively lunch and it reminded me of what it takes to be super accomplished (a lot) and what the hell, maybe I will get my PhD.  (Probably not.)

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I ran all the days I was in town:  Sat morning along the Hudson mostly by myself.

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Sunday morning (the whole loop) in Central Park with all the 10,000 other runners.

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Monday morning: Van Cortland park in the Bronx.

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In order to indulge my frugal tendencies, I did book three nights at the youth hostel at 103 and Amsterdam for less than $200.  So much value!  Just blocks from Central Park!  There are some people I enjoy admitting this sleeping arrangement to and there are other people who I'm embarrassed to admit this to.  Anyways, it was fine, I've done this many, many times before but this is the first time I've felt too old.  I texted Jeremy on Friday night that I was too old to be doing this and he laughed at me because he said he felt too young for his biking vacation which was full of retired people.  Here's the room, I slept on a top bunk.  I got into a silent fight with a person who insisted on keeping the window open even though the (weak) air conditioning was on.  But I know from a decade of au pairs, the window open/closed, HVAC high/low is a serious cultural issue.  I've seen windows wide open on the bitterest winter days, heat on to 85 degrees, A/C set low to 55 degrees, etc.

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Finally, indulge me on my side art project where I take pictures of tourists taking pictures.


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Expenditures:

$200 - youth hostel
$30 - subway pass (unlimited 7 day)
$80 - Vamoose trip
$33 - Empire State Building
$8 - Falafel wrap (the Halal guys, Amsterdam / 95th)
$20 - granola bars / nuts
$10 - flowers
$10 - minigolf
$25 - dinner (arepas, Willimsburg)
$12 - brunch (Eli's Essentials Lexington / 86th)
$25 - Met admission
$42 - H & M (needed dressier outfits for socializing)
$25 - umbrella @ NY public library
$30 - Uniqlo - sweatshirt + gift
$44 - lunch w/ Cl*ire (Pain Quotidien, 58th/7th)

$594, let's say an even $600 with a few donuts/muffins at Dunkin' Donuts.