Decade of the Chicken

May 13, 2010

Three chick babies have survived. They have just started fighting for pecking order, but for the camera yesterday, they looked innocent.

Part 5

When we got home, RG’s pre-K teacher had arrived. She whined about how menopause was ruining her memory for names, but she looks 20 years younger than menopause. Like RG’s kindergarten teacher, pre-K teacher is positive, upbeat, and full of enthusiasm. She puts her arm around RG and calls her “Girl Friend,” and treats her like a chummy pre-teen. Which I guess what RG is at six years of age.

Pre-K confirmed a new social trend I have noticed: parents adopting their children’s spouses and significant others. My favorite computer dealer’s daughter divorced her husband and moved to the East Coast. He now runs their store with them and they call him “our son.”

Pre-K teacher talked about her daughter in college. Apparently, there is no split, but I sensed a little coolness and distance. The teacher said, “She [daughter] broke up with her boyfriend of five years.”

Teacher then began telling us about how wonderful ex-boyfriend is and how much she likes him.

We are inventing a new culture.

RG Rummages

May 8, 2010

Part 4

After lunch Random Granddaughter and I went with Mommy back to RG’s house. RG’s favorite preschool teacher was invited for dinner and a post graduate reunion with the “pre-K” girl now in actual kindergarten and Mommy invited me to stay.

I had RG call Grandma to tell her Grandpa was staying for dinner. Grandma always thinks I am imposing myself on the family, when I only do so some of the time.

Mama made a brief appearance and returned to her enchantment by the calculus sorcerer. Mama prepared chicken shish kabob on the grill. The Lutheran private school behind the Mommies’ house was having a Rummage sale. The Mommies are very fond of rummage sales; many of the furnishings and much of the library come from such sales, so RG has become an active rummager at the age of 6.

Mommy: “I don’t think you have any money.”

RG: (rummaging in her bank): “I have thirteen cents and three dollars.”

Grandpa and RG walked to the Rummage sale. The Rummage Sale closed at 4 pm. It was 3:45. I said, “I don’t know how much stuff they have this late.”

Silly Grandpa. The Rummage sale was full of…well…to put it bluntly…full of junk.

Several adults were lined up at the check out tables with huge piles of junk, bargaining.

RG looked at the dolls. She grabbed two small dolls. She asked me to hold them. While I held them, she found a small china piano, about three inches high. [RG takes piano lessons.] RG said, “For Mama.” I didn’t understand, as my daughter has never touched a piano.

[Earlier, Mary from Peru had told us that she would like to take violin lessons. Mommy majored in violin. Mary said she had found violins very expensive to rent. Mommy sometimes gives violin lessons. She recently had her violin appraised. Its value came to many thousands of dollars. Mommy did not offer to give Mary violin lessons or to rent her a violin.]

RG did not find a bargain violin at the rummage sale. While a (I think Chinese) woman called her husband and gave him directions in perhaps Chinenglish of how to find the rummage sale location so he could meet his wife so he could pay for and to pick up her spectacular collection of jummage, the volunteer turned to RG and her booty. The total should have been $3 by the sales tags, but as it was five minutes to closing, RG got the entire stash for $2. I foresee great finances or perhaps a great collection of junk, and perhaps a Chinese spouse in RG’s future.

(Part 3 of International Relations and Relationships)

We invited Mary to visit Mommy and Mama at their house. We talked about how complicated family visits are. In RG’s case she has to fly to Virginia to see Grandma and Step-Grandfather and Grandpa and Step-Grandma. Let’s not even get into Dad’s Mom in Oregon, or co-Dad’s Mom and Step-Dad in Colorado.

Mary’s family is even more complicated. She flies to England to visit one sister, who is working on a doctorate (in statistics!) at the University of Salamanca, in Spain. (It’s a small world; my cousin Valerie also lives in Salamanca, Spain, where she is a chiropractor, when not taking care of her chiropractor dad in Australia.)

Mary is the youngest girl in her family, though she and her four sisters have a little brother, who works in Brazil. As he was growing up, their Mom said, “All your sisters have advanced degrees, so you have to at least get a Master’s Degree.”[ Brother is doing some kind of research in Brazil having to do with automobiles.]

“Do you speak Portuguese?” I asked Mary?

“No, I don’t, and now my brother speaks Spanish with such a Portuguese accent I can hardly understand him.”

Her sister, the child psychiatrist, is back in Peru (after working for a while in Mexico), where she is now studying Alzheiner’s Disease. “My sister watches everybody so carefully, everyone is afraid she is analyzing us all the time,” said Mary.

Her other sister is a nurse. “She has to work awful hours. She is often at the hospital all night.”

Mary has become an American citizen. She probably qualified because her heritage is all mixed up like Americans’ heritage. Her grandparents on one side were Italian, so she grew up eating spaghetti all the time and hearing her grandma babble in Italian. (Her grandfather came to Peru as an engineer to help build railroads and then stayed.)

“Were some of your ancestors Indian?” I asked her. Mary looks like what I think an Inca woman would look like to me. “No, I don’t think so,” she replied.

Later, my wife said to me, “People in different countries have different terms for native peoples, so she probably thought you were asking if her ancestors were from (East) India.

I wrote a comment to a earlier post in reply to Kim that covers the some of the following. My wife and I are “cat” people as opposed to “dog” people. When I was young, I was allergic to cats, though I am less allergic to them now than I was. As my wife grew older, she became more allergic to cats.

As my wife and I both came from unhappy families, we did not intend to have children when we got married. Despite our taking precautions, my wife became pregnant on our honeymoon. How quaint that sounds today! Anyway, it is possible having a baby saved our young and shaky marriage. (Do not try this at home!)

Besides our allergies, we decided that we were selfish, self-centered people not well-suited to being parents. We decided we did not have enough generosity, kindness, and patience for two little creatures. “Pet or child, choose one,” we told ourselves. Our daughter turned out to be an excellent child, so we decided to keep her. We also realized that it is quite frequent to only get one or two good ones in a human litter; so we decided to quite while we were ahead. We only one had one child. Eventually I had a vasectomy. We never had a pet in 44 years of married life.

Finally, following the example of our fine and Friendly Neighbors, we decided to get chickens. We brought four baby chicks home. One was not thriving. Chickens are cute (especially Dominiques, the breed we chose, a breed that likes to be picked up and petted). They are useful, delivering a nutritious and tasty food, the egg. However, they do not have especially good family values, and sibling rivalry can get ugly indeed.

Whiny was not thriving. Her name became “Poopy Butt.” Her three sisters were pecking her. My wife said, “She is not going to make it. I do not want Eenie, and Minie, and Moe to get in the habit of pecking each other.”

My wife caught Poopy Butt. She put her in an paper cone. She handed me a knife, turned her head, and wept, while I did the deed. Speaking of cannibals. I hope David is not reading this post; he is kind of a softie.

(Part 2 of the visit to Mary from Peru.)

Random Granddaughter is beginning to integrate with adult society. Although RG was appalled and horrified by the delicious Peruvian food Mary prepared for us, she politely took a bite of the vegetables and rice Mary served in her lovely apartment and ate some of the cilantro’d chicken Mary served.

Although she was bored by the adult conversation, she sat politely, merely helping herself to use one of Mary’s combs to use to comb her doll’s hair as she ignored the adult conversation. As the doll is based on a Williamsburg little girl, RG’s distraction was a deft way to bring the conversation around to her recent trip to colonial Williamsburg (while visiting her “East Coast” grandparents). As a budding artist, our granddaughter was most interested in watching how they made red paint. RG found it charmingly gross that they crush 70,000 cochineal beetles (from South America!) to generate a useful quantity of red dye.


May 4, 2010

For several years, apparently because I am a nut, I have participated on a web site of evangelical Christians, hosted by World Magazine, and including bloggers and comment posters called

I describe myself as a radical “high” agnostic ethical nihilist. I regard myself as a mild, reasonable easy-going person, but I am always getting myself into trouble and conflict.

Anyway, I just received an email telling me to stop participating. I don’t know if people bearing flaming torches or telling me they “love” me will come here to visit me. A few nice people such as Karen, Mommy, Cameron (though busy with her fragile new baby at the moment) and Kyle do visit from time to time. WMB is where I met Pete, one of my faithful and valued constant readers. He gave up the wmb habit and probably is happy to see me going “cold turkey” as well.

Saturday, Mommy (Random Granddaughter’s birth mother), RG and I went to visit my Peruvian friend, Mary, so named (instead of Maria) because Mary’s father liked American movies, naming Mary’s sister, “Vivian,” after Vivian Leigh, and naming Mary after American movie stars in general.

Mrs. Random did not come because she was helping open the organic farmer’s market, for the season where she barristas and serves her own splendid organic whole grain baked goods that are not as heavy as bricks. They are not only wholesome; they taste good. Is that not indeed magic worthy of Harry Potter?

Our daughter, Mama, did not come because she had a graduate school midterm Monday. My daughter has a Bachelor’s degree in biology and a Master’s degree in horticulture but she is now pursuing a Master’s degree in medical statistics. My daughter has not attended any of her graduations. However, as she has been studying calculus and statistics with such incredible discipline and concentration, I regard my daughter as being under the spell of an evil sorcerer. I told her that when she graduates from her current program, I will attend the graduation, and as they hand her her diploma, I will stop the ceremony and perform a ceremony to free my daughter from her enchantment. “You are now free to stop studying incessantly and function like a normal human being,” I will gravely intone in front of the other enchanted students, just as the campus police arrive to drag me away.

To be continued with disturbing evidence that RG is growing up and merging with society.