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Introducing Cornelia Roxane Fisher!

Born Wednesday morning, 10 lbs., 1 oz., 22 inches long, nice and pink:

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She is exquisite.

baby blanket

Here she meets Benny:

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Here she is joining some of the rest of the sisterhood (note how Benny is the first to discover her charming little toes):

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And here is a little video where nothing much happens except a little, little girl does her elegant, anemone ballet. She is about twelve hours old here, and this is her basic daytime personality, calm and alert:

She is very responsive, but placid, and she is our heart’s delight. I’ll have more pictures up later. We came home Thursday morning and are having a good day with nothing on the schedule but taking turns holding her, admiring her hairy ears, her silky cheeks, her sweet smell

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and of course her no-neck. She is called Corrie, Coco, Nellie, Rocky and sometimes Benny (oops). We are so grateful for everyone’s prayers and good wishes! More later . .

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What we’re up to, besides not having babies

Just a personal update on things around here. I’m a few days shy of my due date. Don’t usually make it this far. I’ve been in early labor/false labor/stop-and-start labor/end stages emotional purgatory since Friday or Saturday, and have no idea what to expect for the next hour or week.  Yay!

This is the first day of a week of school vacation, so it would be great to give birth ASAP, while our schedule is as simple as it gets. The kids are keeping themselves busy, mostly with this kind of thing:

benny marker
On the plus side, with some judicious marketing and the phrase “for only 76 cents, less than the price of a cup of coffee per day …” this image and a toll free number could turn our fortunes around forever.

It’s too cold to even consider playing outside in the rib-deep mounds of snow in the yard, but we may possibly try this frozen soap bubble thing I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years. If I’m still here with no baby by Wednesday, we may go so far as to try this hideously messy and doomed craft involving glass, glue, and food coloring.

What else? We have a name picked out, the kids are excited, no one has strep throat or pinkeye or measles or fleas, I filed my final freelance work, I went to confession, we got a new car seat (THAT ADJUSTS IN FRONT, WITHOUT THE NEED TO DISASSEMBLE THE WHOLE FRICKIN THING EVERY TIME THE BABY GAINS A POUND) and a new hamster (look, sometimes you just have to cross stuff off the list and not worry about why).

benny hamster

BENNY FEELS THAT THE HAMSTER IS CUTE.

 

Oh, and a new fleece-lined car seat cover! These things are wonderful. You dress the baby in normal clothes, strap her in, and then stretch this cover over the whole thing. The car seat straps are nice and snug, but baby is nice and warm, without even the need to find a blanket.  As a bonus, taking the cover off when you get home is just as satisfying as opening up a baked potato, when you get whooshed in the nose with that delicious hot whiff of . . . well, baby potato.

And I sorted the boots and the mittens, and I put away all the jackets that we won’t be using in the next month or so, because every child I own owns at least fourteen jackets, and they were all always on the floor, and we have a dog who spends most of his life looking for a nest in which to park his hairy butt, so instead of a dining room, we had a hairy dog nest food trap muddy jacket and important papers pit to slosh through.

And I ordered the birthday presents for the (so far) only March birthday we have. And here is the view from my bedroom window right now:

 

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And, my husband. His whole mission, these last months and more, has been to make sure that, when I do have the baby, I will be as calm and rested as possible. At a time when he has been going through a long, drawn-out struggle at work (think “Better make sure the ACLU has my back on this one”) and ridiculous trials with ice dams and the trapped water’s constant search for new ceilings through which to leak (think “Someone talk me out of buying a chainsaw to take up on the roof with me, because this tub of calcium chloride tablets and these pantyhose full of salt and this hammer aren’t doing the trick anymore”), he has been . . . a rock. An anchor. A tireless worker, a tireless comforter. He follows me around picking up my messes (household, financial, and emotional), charging my phone and my camera, gathering up the cups of water I strew around the house, doing all the getting up and driving so I can lounge away the morning, making dinner when he’s home, shopping when I buy a few things and then crap out, staying up until the teenagers come home, calling around to locate the kids that I flaked out about and left stranded, doing all the laundry (DOING ALL THE LAUNDRY), taking my boots off for me, making the bed and putting me in it.Not making me feel bad for any of it. Making me feel like I’m doing a good job just by being here. And these are just the things I’m aware of in my foggy, self-absorbed state.

So, I love him. When we were first dating, my mother remarked that he always looks like he’s inclining toward me to protect me, but that it was sort of a visual trick, because he is so much taller than I am. It’s true that he’s almost a foot taller, but that’s not why he looks like he’s sheltering me.

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college graduation, 1997. Didn’t yet know how much reason I had to smile. (photo by Ileana Garcia-Spitz)

Well, that’s what we’re up to! And how are you?

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Plumeria, pomegranate, sandalwood rose . . .

My dear friend Robin, owner of Robin’s Soap Shoppe, has put several of her beautiful, lush, spirit-lifting soaps on sale for five days.

Here are a couple of the soaps I have my eye on — each discounted to only $5 for a generous-sized bar which lasts about four to five times as long as a typical store-bought bar (I’m not making that up. The delicate, moisturizing goat milk soap bar that we opened around Christmas is still chugging along!):

 

PLUMERIA

soap plumeria

Is this not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen? Here is Robin’s description:

This is a tropical flower scent that bring a little bit of spring into your home on those cold winter days. The smell makes you want to wander onto the nearest plane and go island hopping. It’s a sweet ambrosial nectar that is sure to please the most discerning nose.

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POMEGRANATE AND BLACK CURRANT

soap pomegranate black currant

The only issue I have with Robin’s soaps is that they all look and smell so delicious,but we’re not allowed to eat them. Not fair! Check this one out:

Pomegranate and Black Currant. This idea for this soap is based on a delicious juice that is found at many health food stores. This blend has tart Pomegranate notes, enlivened by citrus zest and intertwined with juicy Black Currant notes with just some light hints of soft florals and leafy greens to give the fragrance depth. It is a surprisingly sweet blend, almost as if the Pomegranates and Black Currants were sugared prior to blending.

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Here’s one I haven’t tried yet, but just the name makes me weep for summer:

SANDALWOOD ROSE

soap sandalwood rose

Sandalwood Rose. Relax and unwind. Sandalwood Essential Oil relaxes and soothes the mind. Rose Essential Oil calms to bring balance and harmony. Beautifully adorned with Lavender Flowers, Rosemary, Red Rose Petals, and Yarrow Flowers

Robin has a wide selection —  over forty items — of soaps and salves, all handmade with great care from the best ingredients – and, as I mentioned, many on sale for five days only. Many are molded into decorate shapes, all are lovely. Every purchase you make will be tremendously helpful and uplifting to Robin, who is a single mom and an Army vet, who struggles mightily to support herself against odds that most of us only face in nightmares.

If you need a small present for someone, or if you’re just in the market for something to help you through winter’s dreary slog, do check out this shop! I’m not a partner or anything; I just love Robin and her soaps, and I think you will, too.

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Even dems fed up with creepy, handsy Uncle Joe Biden

Joe Biden wants the presidency so bad, he can taste it. He makes little suckling sounds in his sleep, just thinking about the seal of office. There’s a well-polished statue of Justice on his desk, and Justice’s face is permanently molded into that frozen mask of polite endurance as she waits for another intimate encounter with handsy, handsy Uncle Joe, the creepiest VP that ever veeped.

It’s so hard to know what to do with Joe Biden. It’s not possible that we’ll actually elect him in 2016, is it? Is it? We did intentionally put this sub-competent, thin-skinned, narcissistic, death-dealing clown in office, twice, on purpose, so anything could happen.  But I feel like a weary country doesn’t need to deal with a commander in chief who got elected mainly for the free pass for a four-year game of grabass.

Again.

1024px-Bill_Clinton_closeup_at_dedication_of_WWII_memorial,_May_2004

At least I was more of a boob man. The “ear, hair, and upper arms” thing is just weird, Joe.

It is encouraging that left-leaning sites like TIME and Gawker are beginning to notice that it really, truly isn’t cool for Biden the perv to get away with macking on captive women — and old women, and young women, and very young women — like a portion of meat up for his inspection, to sniff and to snuzzle, stroke and tenderize.  As Gawker says,

[A]sk yourself this: if this were any other male politician, would we be so quick to add it to the meme pile? Try this: look at all of those photos and imagine, say, Paul Ryan’s face instead of Biden’s.

Yeah, he’s a gold mine for comedy, but how the HELL are we supposed to say with a straight face that women have choices, women aren’t property, women shouldn’t have to put up with being manhandled without their permission just because the manhandler is in a position of power — and then do nothing but smile and tee-hee over Biden? Because ladies, we all know this face, right?

stephanie carter joe biden

This is the “Ugh, ugh, ugh, my nerves are going to jump right out of my skin if he doesn’t move his hands soon, but I don’t want to make a scene, so I guess I’ll just deal until he decides he’s had enough.” What was Stephanie Carter supposed to do, jab him with her hatpin? The focus was meant to be on her husband, the cameras were rolling, and so she just. had. to deal.

We women know this look because we’ve all employed it while enduring unwanted touching from a boss, a teacher, our best friend’s dad, a priest, an interviewer, a social worker, a football star — anyone who assumes we will be flattered by his attention, and who knows that everyone will blame us, not him, if we turn it into a scene.

I have teenage daughters — three of them. They need to know this kind of thing is bullshit.

As  Karol Markowicz says in TIME:

The phrase “boys will be boys” has been used historically to excuse bad behavior by men with a shrug instead of with punishment. But in 2015, things should be different. We don’t allow bosses to rub their secretaries’ shoulders, smell their hair, or look them up and down and exclaim “holy mackerel!” all things Biden has done to daughters and wives of people with much less power than he has.

And here’s the really astonishing subhead to her essay:

The only reason Joe Biden gets away with getting handsy with women is because he has a (D) after his name.

Yuh think? People are still mocking cloddish old Mitt Romney for his infelicitous“binders full of women” line, but left wing feminists on the prowl for misogynist microagressions everywhere somehow just can’t muster anything more than a weak giggle when it comes to Biden.

Well, maybe that’s starting to change. It’s not supposed to matter what your politics are: Droit du seigneur isn’t supposed to be part of 21st-century America; and it’s nice to know that even if a good portion of America doesn’t recognize Obama/Biden policies as being anti-woman, at least they can tell when the joke’s over and it’s time for creepy Uncle Joe to keep his clammy hands to himself.

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Making ashes out of you and me

RELIGION_PLAYS_AN_IMPORTANT_PART_IN_THE_LIVES_OF_RESIDENTS._THE_LARGEST_GROUP_OF_CHURCHGOERS_ARE_ROMAN_CATHOLICS._A..._-_NARA_-_558387

What a shame that Ash Wednesday comes but once a year. For many of us, that’s the only opportunity we have to experience what many people consider the lyrical poet Thomas Conry’s masterwork. Let’s take a closer look.

The first lines are something of a ruse, are they not? Listen:

We rise again from ashes,
from the good we’ve failed to do.
We rise again from ashes,
to create ourselves anew.
If all our world is ashes,
then must our lives be true,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

We are lulled by the conventional rhyme scheme, ABABABB, into expecting that the theme will be conventional, as well.  The speaker cannily completes the rhyme by using the same word, “ashes,” three times, as if to signal, “Nothing new here, no  particular reason to pay attention.” Even the finial sounds of the words, “ashes,” “do,” “ashes,” “anew,” and once again “ashes,” followed by “true” and “you” — do you hear it?  the “sh” followed by “oo” . . . it almost sounds like the soft, untroubled breath of a sleeper. “Shh . . .ooo.”  Our narrator appears almost to be snoring, does he not? He is deliberately lulling us to sleep.

But a surprise awaits us in the second stanza.

We offer you our failures,
we offer you attempts,
the gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

Gone are the soft sibilants of the previous lines, and instead, we are confronted with deliberately jarring plosives (/b/ /p/ /t/ /d/) in  “Gifts not fully given, / … dreams not fully dreamt.” Not fully, indeed.  The very percussive violence of the sound is a statement:  the speaker has awoken, and he is in distress, perhaps stuttering and spluttering like a confused patient who was supposed to be etherised upon a table, but they ran out of ether. “Give our stumblings direction,” he haltingly pleads – but then subsides again into the inarticulate vagueness, perhaps experiencing a swollen tongue:  “give our visions wider view,” he mouths with a wagging jaw, in an achingly poignant parody of the semi-conscious man struggling to make sense of a world where significance seems always to be verging on the horizon.

Notice that in this second stanza, the rhyme scheme has sutbly shifted from the pedestrian ABABABB to the chaotic and freewheeling ABCBDEE. This indicates that the speaker is confused.

The third stanza seems to find the speaker in a contemplative mood, lapsing again into what appears, at first, to be conventional, even clichéd imagery:  rising from ashes, sunshine turning to rain, and so on:

Then rise again from ashes,
let healing come to pain,
though spring has turned to winter,
and sunshine turned to rain.
The rain we’ll use for growing,
and create the world anew
from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

But what are we to make of those troublesom conjunctions “then” and “though”? They can’t merely be metric placeholders, can they, with no intrinsic significance?  Don’t believe it. Every syllable in this concise little jewel of a work is freighted with meaning. Some of the meaning is so subtle, it would wither under the strong light of scrutiny, much like a seedling which is brought to light in the springtime which, in an unprecedented meteorological event possible only in poetry, turns to winter, and then is sunny, and then rainy, and then becomes ashes, or possibly used to be ashes. Delicate seedlings just can’t take that kind of abuse; and so it is with conjunctions in the hands of the poet Conry. Exquisite.

And now the tour de force:  the final stanza.  Here we discover at last the full blown expression of the hints and murmuring suggestions sprinkled like so many ashes throughout the rest of the poem.  The speaker proclaims in triumph:

Thanks be to the Father,
who made us like himself.
Thanks be to his Son,
who saved us by his death.
Thanks be to the Spirit
who creates the world anew
from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

Do you see?  Do you see?  It was the ashes all along. Ashes!
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Of Catholics and capybaras

Capybara_harness

 

Q. A bunch of my friends are trying to organize a blog carnival where people can show pictures of themselves eating salad while looking sadly at a snapshot they’ve taped to the balsamic vinegar cruet, showing their sponsored African child, who will be getting an extra $12 from saved grocery bills this month. They’re calling it The 100% Represent and Repent Lent Event 2015 Y’All, and I’m fairly sure they are turning a profit in some way. How can they live with themselves?

Read the rest at the Register. 

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Oh, the Lents you can Lent!

Bruegel_Lent

Not only do we set the parameters for what we give up (sugar in coffee? A second cup of coffee?  All the coffee?), but we decide what kind of thing we want to give up (or take on) — and why. Here are a few broad categories of ways to observe the penitential season. One or the other may be more spiritually fruitful for you, but none of them is really wrong . . .

 

Read the rest at the Register.

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