Friday, February 25, 2011


So, we finally got some snow and have been busy making the most of it.  It snowed a little Wednesday night, then all morning Thursday, and on and off the rest of the day.  About 5 or 6 inches altogether.  Today dawned really, really sunny and cold, with schools (and therefore daycare) canceled again. 

Liam's first thought on getting outside yesterday was, apparently, "Snow Angel!"  Mine was some version of, "Oh my God, you couldn't pay me enough to lie down in that snow."  So, our first and last snow of the winter and I think we got it all done: snow angels, check; pulling the sled up hill to the elementary school where the sledding is, check; sledding, check; snow person making, check; snow ice cream making, also check (Liam: "Mommy, can I just have regular ice cream?"); catching snowflakes on face and tongue, check; snow shoveling, check; dog going crazy in snow, check; Liam pretending to be the dog going crazy in snow, also check; stare at the garden and say a prayer for the peas, kale and fava beans planted less than a week ago, check; wet snow stuff all over the kitchen, check, check, check.

As of tonight we're grateful to be tucked up safely warm and dry (well, as warm as a drafty 110-year old house with original windows gets, which is to say: wearing sweaters but not sleeping in hats), preparing for tomorrow's forecast: big thaw.  To apparently be followed by big rain.  And then, doubtless, big mud.

Liam doesn't care for hot chocolate (this is so strange I don't even know what else to say about it), but I promise I have consumed enough for both of us.  I miss Will all the time, but acutely when we have days like this: when I get to experience a little peak of what snow is like to someone who still wants to lie down in it and make snow angels.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So it goes

Today the NYT published an article about phase 3 clinical trial results for VX-770, a Vertex drug in development for treatment of the underlying genetic defect that causes cystic fibrosis.  The results are very promising -- both in the specific improvements in lung function and other measures, but, perhaps more importantly, in demonstrating that the drug is acting on the sodium transport defect that is at the root of CF.  One of the main ways CF is diagnosed is through sweat tests.  Will used to repeat the story of an old Swiss/German folk saying, something like: "Sad the child who tastes salty when kissed, for he is cursed and soon must die." People taking the the Vertex drug had less salt in their sweat.  Much less. 

This particular medication is desinged to help one of the less common CF gene mutations; but Vertex has a similar medication in development, based in part on this research, that would treat the most common mutation; the one Will had.  It's a hopeful day for the CF community.  Hopeful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The pea brush is in

Pea brush -- waiting for peas.  It's still very wet and we've had ten days of on and off frosts (but nothing too deep) with more expected this week.  Even though I chipped ice off the hummingbird feeder this morning the seeds could probably go in now, but I'll wait just a little while longer.   Shallots went in today; that was enough.   Peas will go in next week, and favas too this year.  Followed quickly by carrots, the studier lettuces, kale, chard, nasturtiums.  So much goes in in the early spring here that it seems there will be nothing left to plant in summer; but of course there will be.  In the meantime, we have one more overwintered collard plant to eat, and a few measly shoots from the purple broccoli, which may be too wet and bug-y to bother with.   The normal routines of the garden are a comfort; happens pretty much the same, pretty much every year.  It tithes to the past even as it looks fundamentally to the future. 

Liam and I went to the "flower store" (garden center) and got him kid-sized gardening gloves.  He is so proud to pull weeds, use the big loppers to cut the pea brush (with help and close watching, of course), and put the brush in the ground.  He is very excited about his new gloves "just like mommy's," except mine don't have race cars or some kind of creature from the Toy Story franchise on them, thank God.  What is it with kids stuff, why is it (almost) all the way it is?   We also got some primrose and pansies for the pots, and a small shamrock plant for inside.  Liam carefully supervised the placement of each one, and then watered them within an inch of their lives. 

Somehow I have begun to sort through books.  This is not something I planned to do, it just started.  I think Will must have had 500 books, maybe more.  I'm not great at these kinds of estimates.  Four or five tall, wide bookcases full, at least.  This on top of my books.  Even thought I managed to weed through the duplicates  (there were many) when we combined households, there are still lots of books in every room.  This isn't a bad thing, of course, but they're not particularly organized in any way.  And except for the obvious stuff there's a lot I don't even really know what's there.

It's a hard thing and sad.  Will resisted sending any book out of the house, under any circumstance.  But, there is just so much that I'm not sure I want.  The entire canon of what I think of as grim, despondent, somewhat disturbing fiction. . .everything by Delillo, everything by Chuck Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, those really sad Danish authors who's names I can't spell.  Everything by that guy who wrote Trainspotting.  And more and more I've never heard of but suspect by looking that it would be grim.  Or worse.  And it goes one from there.  A giant, stack of Murakami.  A giant stack of Pynchon.  A shelf and more of Augustes Burroughs.  David Foster Wallace.  Massive amounts of Kafka.   Everything by John Irving.  David Eggers.  And so, so much more.  Half undone now and spread over tables and boxes all over the house.  Dusty.

The thing is, I don't want to read grim, disturbing fiction.  I can barely make it through a New Yorker every once in a while.  Any time soon, I'm unlikely to get to any more Delillo than I've already read, let along any more Pynchon.  (I know they are not all grim; and maybe some not grim at all.  Please don't argue, the point is I'm not going to read them.  Judge me if it makes you feel better.)  But, but I think, should I save them?  Organize them somehow so when Liam is trying to figure out who his father was, maybe they'll offer some clue, somehow unlock something I can't explain.  Something more than: he was smart, he read things---lots of things---and he thought about them.  Liked talk about them and make connections.  Fully half have little slips of paper, post-it notes, this or that marking where he was reading when he last set it down.  He read and re-read. (Aside from being overwhelmed with working full time, Liam, and helping Will, one of the reasons I pretty much have stopped reading is I could always count on him to have one or two things going at once, and to talk about them with me.)

As much as I had one, that was my plan: get the books undercontrol and put them somewhere.  But now, who knows.  They are lose in the house, I don't know where they'll land.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not the valentines I planned

We make valentines with Liam every year.  Well, this year, of course, it was just me and him.  Our little family.  I had an idea that he could use this fancy M. Stewart glitter in really pretty colors to embellish the hearts.  We mocked up one a week or so ago.  Looks great.  Liam created random sized patches of glue on a cut out heart, sprinkled on the glitter, and away we went.  Two or three colors of glitter, plus the heart color, looked great.

But, when it came to actually making his valentines for school he didn't want to use that glitter. He wanted to use his glitter glue pens.  How he loves glitter glue pens.  I am continuously covered in little bits of glitter and glue.  Always.  So, this is what we ended up with.  They're actually pretty cute.  We'll write the name of each child and "love Liam" on each one in marker.

He does like to participate in the making; last year's valentines are my favorite.  But even that first year when he was just 18 months old, he had ideas about which valentines should go to which kids and teachers.  Sweet.

No owl update yet; we've had pouring rain in the evening Saturday and again tonight.  Although I did hear him/her again this morning around 4AM.  I think it is either a Western Screech-Owl or a  Northern Saw-whet Owl, which would be cool.  Either would be cool.  I am obsessed with the idea of an owl nest box.  Of course, the trees are in my neighbor's yard. . .and owl nest-boxes are notoriously bad to clean. . .details.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stay tuned, I think we have an owl

During my not sleeping times at night, I've been hearing things.  Starts around 10:00, if I'm listening.  This has been going on over a month now.  It's something outside, I thought a squirrel, a. . .I have no idea. . .what could it be.   It says Oooo [space] Oooo [space] Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo [fast and descending].  It has sort of a high voice (not chirpy high, more like alto).

Umm, 3-years of field biology in college resulting in, wait for it, a degree that is more wildlife biology than anything else.  For a month I've been listen to this wondering, wondering until day before yesterday I realized, of course, it's an owl.  For the love of God.   So last night I tried to record it, but I got too cold, and it went off somewhere, or it decided to clam up when it saw a clearly crazy woman in her PJs out video taping in the pitch dark from the back patio.  (Also, it was after 10:00; Liam is going through a phase where he wants to review the major points of Will's death every night, I was tired and sad and didn't want to wait around.) 

I listened more closely last night though and I think I have a plan for tonight.  It starts out in the mash up of fir and hemlock across the alley right out the back door.  (Does it live there?  How exciting!)  Then, I'm pretty sure it moved to the 100 year old apple tree for at least a little while.   It must fly around! 

Full moon will be here end of next week. Stay calm owl, I am coming for you with my video camera and my link to the registry of bird songs at Cornell University (priceless), and we are going to get to know one another.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We are growing a little boy

He is sweet and funny, with a tendency towards anxiety and concern that I hope dissipates as he gains experience.  He built this all himself.  He very much enjoys building these days, with whatever is available: blocks, legos, couch cushions, whatever.

He has elaborate make believe events daily.  As I type this he is taking everything off the living room floor (including the blocks and books he put there in the first place) and moving it to the kitchen to "make the water better for salmon."  "See Mommy!  This dock [books] is not good for salmon, the workers are going to take it out.  Now, they have to put it in the stack. . .now they have to take this big thing [footstool] out.  They are making it much better for salmon.  Mommy, see, salmon like that."

He likes to sing, and makes up songs.  He has a sweet tooth, but also will reliably ask for seconds on broccoli.  He is increasingly independent.  Today while I was outside he tired of his TV show, turned off the TV, went into the kitchen and set up the watercolor paints all by himself.  Then he painted.  When I came in he was at the sink again washing paint brushes and his hands.   He would play in water in the sink all day, but he won't take a bath or wash his hair for love or money.

Today we visited a preschool.  In the fall he will be four and in preschool somewhere.  I hope in this wonderful place we visited today (more on that some other time).   If not, we have a back up choice.  If that doesn't work out, we have a another backup choice.  He will be settled in preschool in the fall, in the place where he'll stay through kindergarten and maybe longer, depending.   We move forward.