April 14, 2005 Header

Married,moved,and getting it together.

April 2005 Thirty-one posts

Children’s Drawings of Darfur

Something a bit different for a Saturday:

On mission along the border of Chad and Darfur, Human Rights Watch researchers gave children notebooks and crayons to keep them occupied while they spoke with the children’s parents. Without any instruction or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur: the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad.

via robotwisdom

“You look just like your dad!”

So Wednesday night, while Leah, Dev and Tony were at music lessons, I was here with Ali and Ty. My idea was to go explore the stuff around here that the kids had not seen. The pond, the fields, the basketball court.

The kids, eagerly accepted this idea. This could even be fun!

Al and Ty are close in age — 12 and 14. The dynamic changes without their older and younger brothers. Kind of fun. They’re both playful and teenagery in a way that T (10) and D (16) are not.

Anyway, we had a blast exploring the catch-and-release fishing pond. Not that we fished or went in, but we walked along the bank. Both of them walked over a narrow set of rocks at the edge. This is a set of rocks that I would think it would take a Cirque du Soleil acrobat to walk across. Ty was the first across and went for it before even asking me if it would be okay. Water on both sides — algae-filled cold water — I know that *I* would not go across the darn thing. Ali started to go across, then was being goaded into it by Ty, so she didn’t go for it.

Then we went further in, in search of the loudly croaking frogs we heard. The frogs, intimidated by the sound of exploring teens (technically Ty is not a teenager, but he’s close), shut up and we did not see any frogs. I kicked myself a little for not bringing a flashlight, as it was getting duskier by the second.

Ty calls out to me “hey can I go get this softball I see” — when Ty asks permission that must mean it’s hard to do or possibly dangerous. My stepfatherly reply was “If you can get it without getting wet and not hurting yourself you can do it” — so he went for it. Meanwhile Ali retreated back to the rock line. I noticed this as I was trying to get further into the thick brush. So I retreated a bit as well, and what did I see but Al going across the rocks. Seems like she needed the _lack_ of an audience to go for it. Fascinating.

I’m reminded of the scene in _The Killing Fields_ where the Malkovich character is trying to develop a fake passport photo for Dith Pran so he won’t have to go into the now Khmer Rouge-controlled Cambodia. He knows a life is at stake and he’s trying to develop this film with some jury-rigged chemicals and another guy. After two mistakes where the image blows out he asks the other guy to just get out and to let him do it himself.

With three brothers, Alejandra I think feels that way sometimes.

Anyway, eventually Ty found the old softball, which Al wanted no part of whatsoever because “who knows what was on it — so GROSS.” We continued to walk. Both of them wanting to walk on whatever high, narrow ledge they could find – walls, fences, rocks, whatever. It’s really inspiring to see them want to use these amazing tools — their physicality — that they have. Makes me think, hey, I need to get in better shape to keep up with them!

Fast forward pass the slides, swings, basketball-with-a-found-softball, watching some grown men play their softball game quite well. Al, who plays softball, remarked that these paunchy guys were pretty good. Indeed they were, 30 and 40-something guys playing slow pitch softball. I’m gonna have to look into that. Though I don’t really care for baseball or softball. I’m definitely jonesing for some racquetball.

Any readers out there in Simi Valley and wh0 play Racquetball? Give me a note.

So eventually we’re rushing to get some drinks, as we’re tired and flushed from all this activity. We went up to the local Ralph’s — maybe a mile away total. Anyway, Al gets a Diet Dr. Pepper, Ty get a Sobe, and I got a Mountain Dew. We’re waiting in line and the guy ahead of us in line — a thin 40_50-something thin fellow with a well-trimmed beard — he turns around and sees us, breathing hard (yes, all of us were breathing hard, not just me, the paunchy 30-something guy!) and says to Ty “You look just like your dad!” — and Alex, Tyler and I all look at each other and give out the biggest giggle ever. We can’t stop giggling and looking at each other and the dude says “you guys are a group, right?” — and I do eventually correct him, gently offering that “Well, I’m a stepdad” — and the guy winces minutely and says “Well that’s cool isn’t it that you look like each other yeah?” — I admit that yes it is.

The fellow in front of us tried to enlist the woman in front of _him_ in line to corroborate that Ty and I favor each other. She was a bit hesitant, and makes off with her groceries before really committing to the idea.

It was a good night on Wednesday.

The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood, originally uploaded by artlung.

No photos of the new house yet. Here’s one, courtesty Google Maps. It’s annotated with some of the neighborhood spots.


Mourning Root Teen

What a peculiar pun that is.

Today was the early morning for Leah and I. She starts early, and leaves early, and we have the kids in the evenings. Since I am working from home I pick them up, and by the time I’ve wrangled (which makes me sound like a shepherd) all four, she’s home and we have our evening.

My hair feels great right now! Much shorter, off my ears. I woke up with a “Faux-hawk” and felt silly about it.

I have a full beard. It’s just at the stage where Leah says it feels nice. Sadly, on my “to-do” list is shaving the darn thing off.

I was pretty pleased with the idea of having really short hair and a big bushy beard, but it’s overrated.

Besides, oatmeal gets stuck in the beard.

This morning I only made one piece of toast to go with the oatmeal and the darn thing burned! I think the toaster wants two pieces of bread to toast. Possibly the sensor/element is tuned to the side there was no bread on. Anyway, Leah digs overdone toast, so I scraped off the black with a knife and she was good to go.

I want to remember to show Dev the “Schnappi Schnappi” song this afternoon. He’s loving the German language, and that bit of culture is pretty cool.

Okay, time to work kiddies.

Take care o’ yourselves!


Got a haircut today. Did some work. Made scrambled eggs for Leah and I.

I fear I don’t have the energy to really post right now.

Crashing into bed now.

Life is pretty good right now.

Bas: A User’s Manual

Slightly improved from the version I emailed my Mom, who will now be taking care of Bas:

Bas is *very friendly* – he will jump in your lap and purr if you let him. Bas loves everyone, but he will leave some hair on you in the process.

Bas is declawed in the front; he still has claws in the back. He’s about three years old.

He has no regular food time, we keep his dish semi-full. If we leave for few days he is *so* talkative when we get home, meowing and meowing. Then he munches.

Toys: His absolute favorite toy is the transparent cap from a water bottle. He *loves* batting them around, carrying them around. One pitfall of this hard-to-see toy is that they hurt when stepped on. So be alert!

Sleep: His typical pattern for a while was to sleep with Leah and I. When we are waking up, he wants to know there’s food. If he’s out of food or water, he’ll let you know. If he’s out of fresh water, he will go search for it. We try to keep him out of the toilet πŸ™‚ Generally refilling his water dish at the beginning and end of the day takes care of his hydration.

Food: Bas likes to paw at his food – he sort of pushes it out of his dish before chowing. Kind of a peciliar habit, really. He eats IAMS Original Adult 3+ — we just give him the dry stuff and he does fine. For a while we were trying the Fancy Feast ones for a taste treat sometimes. He seemed to enjoy the ones with gravy. He was not crazy about seafood. He does come running whenever have tuna though. He doesn’t *require* wet food though.

He is sometimes a moocher. Even if he doesn’t really *want* what you have, he wants to check it out. The key is to be firm with him and say “no” when you don’t want him doing this, you also may have to push him away. He will sulk a little when rebuffed like this, but he gets over it. He has eaten little bits of food from us — I think he once had some asparagus! He will mooch butter and cheese. He also likes turkey, chicken, beef. Bas is definitely a carnivore. πŸ™‚

Litter: he keeps himself pretty clean, really. He doesn’t have a favorite kitty litter that we can tell. We try and find an inexpensive one and that has worked fine so far. His boxes to this point have all been covered style, like a little doghouse. I don’t know if he would do well with an open one. I suppose he could, but we’ve not tried it. We’ve been moving him around so much he adjusted really fast to this house. I hope he can adjust as fast to your place. πŸ™‚ The key thing is just to make sure he knows where his food and water are, where the box is, and make sure he can get there. Given these, he does fine.

Snuggling: When it’s chilly he will snuggle! He loves that and purrs like mad. Like I said, very friendly. He’s I guess a medium-length haired cat, but beware, he does shed. I think the cold climate there (and the temperature the house is usually kept at) will mitigate this pretty well.

Coming when called: Even when there’s no reward or food involved, he will more or less come when called. “Bas” is short for Basilone (we say “bass -ill – OH – nee”, named after the exit off the 5 Freeway in San Onofre/SanClemente where we actually got him. We got him from a guy who was moving into an apartment which could not take pets. Basilone Road is named for John Basilone, a Medal of Honor winning Marine from WWII (we learned this after we named him, we just thought the name was nice). When we got him he had a dumb name, something like tigger or tiger or something. πŸ™‚

He is spayed, and in good health. He got current shots last week, and that reciept came with him. Given that he has the no front claws, we strongly suggest he stay an indoor cat. The vet said that as a decalwed declawed cat, he has no defenses. He has gone outside, on accident (pushing out screens, sometimes in the middle of the night!) — but these were old weak screens. He survived, and even had fun, but he did get dusty and dirty. He has not encountered many other cats, and the one time we had a “friendly” kitten stray come in (during our last party at the 21st Street house) he was MOST hostile to the mere idea of having another cat in the house. Interloper! When he sees cats outside the home he basically is fascinated and reticent. I think he would not do so hot up against a mean cat.

Night time crazies: Occasionally, Bas will get “the crazies” in the middle of the night. He runs around the house loudly. If the noise of a cat running around would bother you, or if he’s jumping on you, putting him out of the room should do it. I know you guys sleep with a fan so maybe the noise would not be a factor. But if it did — well, holing him up in a room would work. When we were staying in Burbank the solution we came up with was to put him in his carrier with the bed in it. We did this when we went to sleep. Then we put the carrier in the bathroom (the tub, actually). When we got up, we’d let him out. He was just as happy and snuggly as ever, and did not punish us for putting him in his carrier overnight. This put him on a pretty good schedule, and kept him from being too much of a late night cat.

Simi Valley Blog Search


simi-valley-blog-search, originally uploaded by artlung.

If you google for “Simi Valley Blog” you get me. I’ve been here less than a month.

I, as the kids type these days, pwn!!!!!111


Bas, originally uploaded by ellison.

I forget if I posted this Photo Meg took back when she and Joe T took care of Bas. Either way, I don’t care. πŸ™‚

Bas Has A Home

Message from my Mom this morning:

Joe, we are here. I saw him get off the plane. They put him on the cart with all the luggage. I picked him up and he was quiet the entire ride home. He immediately hid behind the sofa downstairs. Then I started talking to him and gave him some food, which he refused and now he is investigating every nook and cranny downstairs in the utility room. He looks great! He is going to have a wonderful Life in Roanoke. LOVE YOU SO MUCH, Mom πŸ™‚


Bas & Homeland Security

Tonight, right this moment in fact, Leah’s and my cat Bas is on his way to Virginia.

He was frisked, twice! by employees of the Transportation Security Agency, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

I hope he will have a good trip.

There’s much more to write, but I need to sleep now.