Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lawmommy reaches the end of her rope and winds up in the principle's office

To be completely honest, this has been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad 8 days. Gabriel's surgery has been much more stressful than I anticipated. He has had a much harder time recovering from the surgery than we anticipated. Sunday night I was bawling on the phone to my grandma (because my mother was at a convention in Nashville and she had no cell service, so, when, you can't have your mom's ear, at least it's good to have your grandma's ear.) Grandma was so worried about Gabe and I that she threatened to drive down from Detroit. By herself. I pulled myself together in order to keep grandma from killing herself by attempting to navigate 65 miles of interstate in the dark.

Gabe is normally a nice child. A sweet child. Not perfect, but, I don't generally want to strangle him on a regular basis. Since the surgery, he has been alternately, an atrocious monster brat and a pathetic and scared mouse, which alternately makes me want to scream or cry. He still has a lot of pain. We saw the surgeon yesterday, and adjusted his pain medication dose and switched to a different antibiotic.

We finally thought he would be able to return to school today. I dropped him off, along with his presciptions. (He needs doses every 4 hours. School is 8 hours. Obviously, he needs to receive his meds.)

His teacher tells me I have to take the meds to the office. (Okay, that is totally reasonable.) The office staff tells me that they won't administer medication without a note from the doctor.

I point to the prescription label on the bottles. "I'm not asking you to administer over the counter meds. These are prescription medication that he needs at 11:30 today."

"We need a note from the doctor," replies the secretary.

"This IS from the doctor. SEE, see here, where it says, "1 tsp every 4 hours?" that's from the doctor's instructions."

"We need THIS FORM from the doctor," I am handed a form, with a place for my signature. releasing the school from liability, and a place for the doctor to sign with instructions on dosing the meds. (So, the doctor's instructions to the pharmacy meet the legal requirement for me to obtain a controlled substance for my child, but, that's not enough for the school board?)

The secretary says, "Why don't you call the doctor and ask him to sign this and fax it back to us before 11:30?"

"Because the doctor is a surgeon and he is performing SURGERIES in the morning. That's his job. His office hours are in the afternoon."

"Maybe your family doctor would sign it?" she says.

I call my family doctor and get the response I expected - they won't sign the form since they didn't prescribe the medication.

"Why don't you come back at 11:00?" the secretary asks me.

"BECAUSE I AM A LAWYER AND I HAVE TO BE IN COURT AT 11:00 DOWNTOWN, which is fully 30 minutes from here."

Suddenly, and without warning, I burst into tears. I am ushered into the principle's officer, where the situation is explained. I continue to cry.

The principle, Mr. W~, keeps telling me this is board policy. I explain what a hard experience this has been for Gabe and us, how I thought we had finally gotten him feeling more normal, and now he is telling me that the meds my child needs to stay healthy cannot be given to him.

Mr. W~ asks me to call the surgeon's office, where I am promptly put on hold for 20 minutes.

Mr. W~ asks me if there is anyone I trust to administer the medication to Gabriel.

Mr. W~ holds my cell phone and listens to the hold music at the surgeon's office while I call my neighbor, S~, to see if she would be around at 11:30 to drop by the school and give Gabe his medication.

Hallelujah, S~ (who is a pharmaceutical sales rep and works odd hours) agrees to go to the school at 11:30.

I write a note, stating that S~ can remove Gabriel from class (where she will give him his medication.)

That accomplished, I burst into tears AGAIN in the principle's office, and I say, "I'm sorry. I'm not usually like this. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in 8 days - this has been very stressful, and I thought we might finally get back to normal, and this just feels like the last straw, and it's absurd. If the prescription is sufficient for the pharmacy to release the drug, it should be sufficient for the school."

Once more I am told it is board policy, and I silently curse the lawyers who drafted it.

In the parking lot, I sit in my car and cry for 5 minutes. I drive the hospital and I take the form to the office of the surgeon who performed the operation. I explain the situation, and they tell me they will try to have it worked out and get the form signed by the end of today.

I have no idea what I will do tomorrow, if they don't get the damn form signed and faxed back to the school.

Feeling frustrated and weepy,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

No Joy in MoTown

Husband and Gabriel's beloved Tigers lost the World Series last night. We are actually in Detroit visiting Husband's family. There was much grieving and rending of clothes and throwing of hats in the general direction of the television last evening in the household of Lawmommy's-In-Laws.

For some reason, I thought Nicki's family (http://sixmonkeyjungle.blogspot.com) was leaving for Vietnam from Detroit's airport last night, so, I was looking around for them in order to say Bon Voyage, as we were picking up Husband's brother at the airport (he flew in from Seattle for a few days.) I didn't see them, and now I know why - they didn't leave until today! So,

BON VOYAGE Nicki's family! Have fun bringing home that beautiful baby girl!

Gabe woke up hysterical with ear pain again this morning. That is no fun. I'm not sure why the pain seems to center in his ears and not in his throat, but, it's all a mystery to me.

Nothing else to report,


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Of race and dolls

For those of you worried about the goats...I entered into a settlement agreement with the evictee. He has three weeks to vacate and take his goats with him. I am relieved about this.

Here is my question for the day:

When purchasing dolls for Lana, how careful should I be to purchase dolls that are Asian in appearance?

I have so far purchased two dolls for her - both appear to be Asian. One is clearly Asian, as her name is "Sonya Lee" and there are adorable Asian girls playing with her all over the box. (But, I worry that it is culturally insenstive of me to purchase a Chinese doll for a Vietnamese child. GEE! GAH!! My head might explode with this....)

The other doll has light skin and dark black hair and brownish-black eyes. I suppose if pressed one might think she was Italian or Spanish, but, she looks Asian to me. Her name is Cerise (which means Cherry in French). Here is a picture of her: (isn't she adorable??)


Anyway, I've been thinking some about toys for Lana, and my aunt suggested getting some "Kelly and Friends" dolls to take to Vietnam with us, because they are small and easily packable. (Kelly being Barbie's little sister, of course.) My aunt thought that she had seen an Asian Kelly and friends doll.

So, today I went looking (on-line, at lunch time) for some Kelly and Friends dolls, and I found THIS collection:


It's five dolls. The picture is not very close up, but, it appears to me that there is an Asian doll, a black doll, a Hispanic doll, a red-head, and a blonde.

It looks like quite a diverse little ballet class. And small enough to pack in Lana's suitcase. AND LOOK HOW THEY ARE ALL DRESSED UP FOR BALLET CLASS? TOO CUTE FOR WORDS. And yet are too young looking to be physically distorted by the same folks who make Barbie, right?

Bottom line - can I feel good about purchasing this product? Certainly, I am not going to find a collection of 5 Asian baby ballerinas. (Not in the US, anyway?) And Lana is coming to a neighborhood populated by our neighbors who are white, black, Hispanic, Indian (as in from India), a mixed race couple, and I am pretty sure that the woman three doors down is Cherokee or Sioux. But I'm not 100% certain about that.

The point is, Lana will be moving into a diverse neighborhood, which I understand will be a shock to her. Should I endeavor to ensure that her playings are diverse as well? Or should I purchase only Asian dolls? (Which is a tall order in this neck of the woods, where white, black and Hispanic dolls are plentiful, but, Asian dolls are few and far between.)

I ask myself what I would have done, had Gabe been a girl. What would Veronica's (Veronica being the name that Gabe would have had, had Gabe been a girl) doll collection look like?

I want to believe that Veronica would have owned dolls of many different colors. Although I don't know that I can honestly answer that question about a daughter I didn't have...

Food for thought. Moms of other transracially adopted girls, what did YOU do? (WWMOTAGD? What would moms of transracially adopted girls do?) :-)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Random Tonsil, Adoption and Goat related news

Gabriel is doing somewhat better. I called the doctor’s office in full-on “freaked out mother” mode. I believe the moment they started paying attention to me was when I said, “this child is not speaking.”

Doctor’s office: “What do you mean he’s not speaking? How old is he?” (Am I asking too much to think that the doctor’s office MIGHT have a CLUE how old their patients are???????????)

LM: “I mean he is a six year old child who has not said a word in 6 hours because he won’t open his mouth to talk. He is using sign language he learned in preschool.”

Doctor’s office: “Perhaps he needs some different pain medication. It is very important for him to drink and get liquids into his body.” (No shit Sherlock. I may have gone to law school instead of med school, but, I AM aware of the fact that a dehyrdrated post-operative child is BAD NEWS.)

The doctor’s office then called me back 5 minutes later to tell me that they had called in something called Lortab Elixir. Which is, not, in fact, from a Harry Potter Potions lesson (as its name suggests), but, curiously, an actual medication, which seems to be very effective for pain management.

It is working. My child is speaking and drinking liquids, and last night, around 10PM, he ate dish of very soft mac’n’cheese. And a cherry snow cone. (At the suggestion of one of my real life girlfriends (thank you CB, you are much much loved), I bought a snow cone maker. Which was on CLEARANCE. (Because, really, who wants to make snow cones in October?)

(I have big big plans for the snow cone maker next summer that involve pineapple juice and Barcadi Coconut Rum and long floats in the pool...I digress…)

As we were getting ready for bed, Husband forgot that Gabriel had eaten a red snow cone and thought his incision was bleeding. That was a frightening moment. But, it passed.

So, I am feeling somewhat better about things on that front.

In other news, I am evicting GOATS. And chickens. And no, I am not kidding. I mean, I suppose, technically I am evicting the OWNER of the goats and the chickens.

Oy vey es mir.

In still other news, we have no news from our agency regarding Lana’s documents. We wait and wait and wait some more.

In interesting adoption type news, Mrs. Broccoli Guy at http://mrsbroccoliguy.blogspot.com and Nicki at http://sixmonkeyjungle.blogspot.com/
are leaving this week for Vietnam to go pick up their newest family members. Ladies, have a safe trip and I will want all the low-down details regarding where to stay and WHAT TO EAT in Hanoi.

In other adoption-ish news, I ran across an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of adoption at http://alittlepregnant.typepad.com, and I would be curious to know what others think about Julie’s take on the issue. I may discuss this at length in another post.

Must go now and try to figure out what the heck I am supposed to do with two dozen goats and chickens….


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tonsils are Out

Gabriel had his tonsils and adenoids removed yesterday. He had a hard time coming out of the anesthesia and gave us a scare. My mother-in-law is with him today and he is not wanting to swallow anything. He needs to be eating popsicles or slushes all day and he has only eaten one so far.

I'm worried and not really doing so great.

Sorry I've been so quiet. My computer is still dead.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fox in the Parkinglot

Yesterday evening, I went over to my friend M~'s house to watch Gilmore Girls*. (As I have previously mentioned, I do not have the CW on my satellite tv. It blows. Because I cannot watch Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars. However, before Kate's head explodes at this news, I am NETFLIXING Veronica Mars, so, consider your internet VM prostelityzing (sp?) to have been effective. :-))

Anyhoo, M~ and I watch Gilmore Girl's together on Tuesday nights, while her husband R~ humors us by pretending to watch GG as well, but, he actually is mostly reading Rolling Stone or doing Sudoku. Husband usually uses this time to play Nintendo or build Legos with Gabriel. (I cannot stay at M~'s to watch Veronica Mars because I need to be home by 9:15 to read to Gabriel and sing the Big Blue Frog Song before he goes to sleep.)

But, last night, Husband had asked me to stop at the grocery to get coffee and fruit on my way home from M~'s house.

As I was putting my groceries in the back of the car, around 9:25**, I heard a small noise in the nearly empty parking lot, and I turned around and THERE WAS A FOX staring at me.

A FOX. I'm talking a tally-ho and blow the horn and put on your ridiculous English hunting cap FOX. A red one. With a white spot on it's tail. It was smaller than a beagle. But, larger than a cat.

It looked at me. I looked at it. And before I could start quoting "A Little Prince"*** at it, I made a small motion of surprise and the fox took off like a...well, like a fox in the parking lot of a Giant Eagle. Evidently, as far as foxes go, I am MENACING.

I got in my car and then I called Husband. (Husband being an eagle scout and nature expert type.) "Husband!" I said. "Is it possible that I just saw a fox in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle? Are there foxes in Ohio? Or have I lost my marbles?"

Husband told me it was possible. Foxes, evidently, do live here. What the fox was doing in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle - that's anybody's guess.


WARNING. GG Spoiler Below.

*Um...hello!!!!!!!! Earth to Lorelei Gilmore. Hasn't this man broken your heart AT LEAST twice in your life?? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING LORELEI??????????!!!!??? And does anybody else think that Gigi's mommy is going to show up at any minute and make Christopher act like a total A** all over again? OH, and didn't Sherilyn Fenn already appear on this show two or three seasons ago as Jess's step-mother, so, how is it possible that she is now Luke's daughter's mom???

**Yes, you are correct. My child did not go to bed until almost 10 last night. We are horrible parents, you are absolutely right.

***"Tame me." The little prince asked "What is it to tame?" The fox replied, "It is to establish ties. ..to me, you are nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys and I have no need of you. ....But if you tame me , than we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world." From A Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Which you should read. Over and over and over again.

This is unbelievable


A school in Massachusetts is BANNING TAG and all other unsupervised games during recess.

They have banned TAG, people. TAG.

You know what? Kids are supposed to run around and sometimes they RUN INTO EACHOTHER. And sometimes somebody gets a skinned knee and sometimes a bloody nose (although I myself went out to recess on a completely paved parking lot with not a patch of grass or spongy padding covering it, and we played all kinds of running around games, and hanging upside down from the monkey bars games, and swing as high as you can games, and I have to say, the skinned knees were plentiful, but, the bloody noses were pretty few and far between.)

Skinned knees are not the end of the world. (Unless your child has some kind of bleeding disorder.)

What are these children supposed to do at recess? Play chess? I like to think that my child might be engaging in spontaneous, child-directed frolicking during recess, but, evidently that's just a little too dangerous.

When did we start micro-managing our children's lives to the point where they cannot chase eachother around on the playground??

I have a modest proposal.

This afternoon. After school. Open the door. Shove your children outside (assuming you do not live in a neighborhood populated with submachine gun toting felons or sidewalks covered with broken glass and used condoms - probably in such neighborhoods, shoving your child outside is not a great idea). Tell them not to set one foot in the in the road for fear of whatever your most dreadful punishment is. And let them PLAY. With other kids. Alone. Like kids are supposed to do.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Computer is Dead

My computer has kicked the bucket. Thrown off this mortal coil. Rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. Bought the disk farm. Playing harp duets with Hoffa. Bought a ticket to the boneyard. D-E-A-D, is what I am saying.

Obviously, not the computer I am using, which is in my office. But, the computer in my home, it is gone, baby, gone.

I am deeply disturbed about this on a few levels.

A. Quicken is holding all the info about my checking and savings and mortgage accounts for the PAST THREE YEARS. And of course I have not backed it up in about 6 months. (WHY???????)

B. All of our family pictures for the last three years.

C. Our Christmas card mailing list with everyone's updated addresses and such.

D. Something like a Virgin Mega Store worth of music

Gone. All gone.

I'm going to see if a computer fix-it type guy can save any of the data, but, honestly, I. AM. NOT. HOPEFUL.

It started singing (the computer. Not with words. Perhaps humming would be a better description). And then it froze up. And then it stopped talking to the monitor. And now it won't even turn on.



Friday, October 13, 2006

Ohio Politics, Making My Head Hurt

I'm sure we are all sick of the political ads we are bombarded with daily, hourly. I'm ready to vote already! And I don't want to set off a sh*tstorm of controversy, but, one issue is really really bothering me. So, I'm going to talk about.

There is a man running for Ohio Attorney General, named Mark Dann, against an incumbent attorney general, Betty Montgomery. And the ads being run against this man, Mark Dann, have my blood boiling.

Let me say, straight out, I don't know Mark Dann, I don't know anything about Mark Dann - I am neither a supporter nor a detractor of Mark Dann.

But the reason I am mad as hell about these ads, is that the ads say that because Mark Dann is a defense attorney who has defended criminals and child molesters (the ad specifically states that he is a child molester defender, which, I think, is misleading as hell) that he is not fit to be the Attorney General of the State.

Now, he may not be fit to be the Attorney General for other reasons, but it is absolutely UNFORGIVEABLE in my mind to suggest that he is UNFIT because he is a DEFENSE ATTORNEY.

The truth is that any judge can, at any time, assign any attorney practicing in his or her court of jurisdiction to defend an accused criminal. And guess what? THAT ATTORNEY WOULD BE OBLIGATED TO DEFEND THAT PERSON UNLESS HE OR SHE HAD A REALLY GOOD REASON. And that reason would have to be something bigger than "accused criminals give me the skeevy heeby jeebies."

Now, in practice, that almost never happens - judges know which attorneys are accepting court appointments for criminal defense work, and they appoint those lawyers.* But, if the fact remains that if the judge wanted to, the judge could appoint ANY LAWYER.

And the reason for that is, we are SUPPOSED TO BE committed to our SYSTEM OF JUSTICE. And our system of justice demands that every person charged with a serious crime have access to a lawyer - access to one person who is going to be on that person's side. Access to one person who is going to advocate for the accused.

We have this system of justice and we believe it to be the best system of justice on the planet. We do. But, if no attorneys took criminal defense cases, the very foundation of our system would FALL APART.

Maybe I am waving the flag too much here, but, DEFENSE ATTORNEYS are of VITAL IMPORTANCE to OUR DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT.

I am absolutely not kidding about this.

We believe in innocence until guilt is proven. We believe in an adversarial system where the State must prove the bad acts of the accused.

The fact that one is a defense attorney does not imply that one thinks that criminals are good people. It implies that one believes in our system of justice. And that is an honorable thing.

It also implies that the lawyer knows a heck of a lot about criminal law. Guess who needs to know a heck of a lot about criminal law? The Attorney General, that's who. So, while there may be other good and viable reasons why Mark Dann may not be fit to be Attorney General, the fact that he has defended criminals in his career is not one of them.

I'll get off my soapbox now.


* And many young lawyers do this because, um, you have to EAT, and, it's a way to get some actual legal experience at a time when most people won't hire you because you have no actual experience. And being a public defender won't make your rich, but, it probably will keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Sometimes, I feel like there is not enough soap on the planet to make me feel clean again after an afternoon in housing court.

I represent landlords, and most of the time, I feel okay about this. Property rights are extremely important, and one should not be forced to put up with tenants who do not pay or who purposefully destroy your property (like leaving hunks of meat on the floor to grow maggots and locking the house up in 100 degree heat which is what one of my landlord client's tenants did (after they took a sledgehammer to the bathroom and several walls)). Generally speaking, in this town, most tenants will have gone three months without paying before they are actually physically removed from the property. Most people can usually come up with other arrangements in that three month period of time.

In one case I had today, I was representing a mortgage company that had foreclosed on the property, so, in this unusual circumstance, which is complex and I won't bore you, the mortgage had not been paid since November of 2003. So, the former owner, the person who I was evicting, had not paid any money for almost three years. Normally, I feel absolutely no guilt about such a situation. If I could not pay MY mortgage for three years...well, let's just say that I would have a lot of money, and I expect that most people would at least be able to come up with a first and last month's rent on a new place. (I like to think that most of the people I am foreclosing on will use their 9 to 18 month respite from paying their mortgage (because in Ohio you can continue to live in the house while the foreclosure is pending, and in most counties it takes 9 to 18 months to complete a foreclosure) to try to save some money to "start over" in a new place. Perhaps this is a PollyAnna-ish way of looking at things.)

HOWEVER, in this particular case, the former owner (the person I was asking to leave the premises) was 90 years old. NINETY.

This case is right up there with the woman who had the six year old with cancer in terms of my personal feelings of filthiness.

I suspect that the man was being taken advantage of by a neighbor, because he insisted that his neighbor had his checkbook and had been paying the mortgage for years. (NOT.) (I'm pretty sure the only person the neighbor was paying was...the neighbor.)

He also believed that he would be receiving some money from his cousin's estate in NIGERIA. Hello, can you say Internet SCAM?

Last month, I directed this man to legal aid. Legal aid has connected him to the VA and to some other social programs. The problem is, the man is refusing help from the VA and social service agencies.

I entered into an agreement to give him a few more weeks to secure alternate housing. I still feel dirty, and I feel like the systems that are in place to help this man are not working because he is refusing their help, and buying into some crazy internet scam about his dead cousin. I wish I could make this outcome different, but, I don't honestly know what else to do. I made sure he got a lawyer. I've entered into agreements with him. But, my client owns the house now. Sigh.

Additionally, this week, I have had a case blow up in such a way that it could possibly cost my client $50,000, and the thought of this is making me not able to breathe.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Well, I'm not dying

My doctor's nurse left a message on my home answering machine. (Note, if your doctor's nurse calls, instead of the doctor himself, the news is probably not dire. If the doctor's nurse calls you at home and just leaves a message, the news is actually probably good. If the doctor's nurse calls you at work...the news is probably not great, but, if the doctor himself calls you at work, in my experience, the news is BAD. My most recent experience with this, indirectly, was when the doctor of one of my firm's partners called and told him that he needed to come to the ER IMMEDIATELY. Myself and two other lawyers were in his office having a meeting when that call got beeped through. We (all three of us who hadn't just been ordered to the ER by an oncologist) drove the sick lawyer to the ER at breakneck speed. When the hospital staff asked what our relationship to him was, they pointed at me and said, "She's his niece. We're his partners." Long quizzical look from nurse as if my uncle was involved in a bizarre menage a trois relationship, with his niece along for the ride. "Law partners," the partners clarified. "You're both lawyers and she's his niece?" the nurse asked. "No, all of us are lawyers. But, she's ALSO his niece. If you need a blood relative." "All THREE of you are lawyers? And the patient is a lawyer?" "Yes," we said in unison. We got really amazingly fast service at the ER that day. I like to think that they treat everyone that well, even if they don't show up with three attorneys...)

Anyway, I digress.

The point of this is...my doctor's nurse called and left a message at home for me to call at my convenience. When I called, they said, "all your tests came back clear - there's not a sign of cancer or pre-cancerous cells." So, bottom line is that my troublesome uterus is mine to keep for the time being at least. Until it drives me so freaking nuts with it's bothersome antics that I decide to banish it for good.


I had the pleasure of taking my son to the hospital this afternoon for his pre-operative testing for his tonsilectomy/adenoidectomy which is scheduled to happen two weeks from today. This involved taking his weight and height and medical history, and then the dreaded blood draw.

My boy was so very brave, and I held him on my lap and sang "I'm in love with a big blue frog", which is the song I have always sung to him at night to calm him down. And he didn't even cry or anything. He whimpered, for a second, when they had to jostle the needle around because no blood was coming out, but, then he was quiet and just held tight onto my hand. And when it was done, he said, "I was scared, mom, but, my brave was bigger than my scared was."

Yes little man, yes, it was.


World Gone Completely Mad (Again)

Well, it's official. My daughter is living in the shadow of a maniac. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that Kim Jong-Il is madder than a whole bag full of mad-hatters? A whole bag full of mad-hatters smoking crack? Scary-crazier than a dozen lunatics on lunatic-parade?


I swear between natural disasters such as last week's typhoon and this morning's revelation about a nuclear weapons test, I may be flattened by high blood pressure and anxiety before I can even get on a plane to bring our girl home.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Long Day

It feels like it has been a long couple of days. I had some incredibly unpleasant testing done at the doctor's office, and the doctor again used the words "consider a hysterectomy." On the other hand, he uses this phrase and follows up with the fact that he doesn't feel it is fair to discuss this until the adoption is finalized - um, unless, of course, the test results from this week come back next week showing something dire. Let's hope that's not the case - I'm not really prepared to think about major abdominal surgery.

I had to sit through 3 hours of continuing legal education this morning on a topic that was not terribly interesting. I was supposed to have a three hour course this afternoon on police procedure, which, although outside my practice area, was supposed to be taught by a very interesting and dynamic speaker - a former defense attorney now professor/author. He had to cancel his course this afternoon, and it got substituted with this (much less interesting and also out of my practice area) course, and it was moved from afternoon to early morning. I really NEEDED the three hours, since I need 12.5 more hours before December 31 (well, 9.5 after this morning), so, I went to the morning lecture. This meant I had to wake Gabriel up early, and take him to Extended Time at his elementary school, which I hate doing...sigh.

On the bright side, Husband and I have tickets to the traveling version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar, and Gabe is going to spend the night at his cousin's house - so, Husband and I have an actual DATE to look forward to. :-)


Thursday, October 05, 2006

To Veg or Not To Veg, That is the Question

For a few years now, Husband and I have contemplated becoming vegetarians. Not vegan types, because we are both completely addicted to cheese and yogurt, and also love eggs very much.

We eat vegetarian meals 2 or 3 times a week. We have vegetarian friends who recently introduced us to a company called Quorn. This company, Quorn, is producing a soy-free meat substitute, that, I kid you not, would fool most people into believing that they are not eating a vegetarian meal. We eat a lot of MorningStar and Boca products, and while they are tasty and full of protein and fiber, and I enjoy eating them, they never really fool me into believing that I am eating meat. But, the Quorn products have a taste and texture that is very very much like chicken.

On the other hand, if I am eating something that tastes LIKE chicken, why not just eat some chicken?

Well, I guess there are several viable reasons: some people don’t eat meat because they object to eating food with a face.

Some people don’t eat meat because they object to the mass marketing of meat products in the United States which raises issues of cruelty to animals and questionable safety of the meat product (i.e. mad cow disease.)

Some people don’t eat meat because of health concerns, and it is true that the meat substitutes tend to have a lot of protein (like meat) but also contain fiber, which is an added health benefit.

I think that the reasons that my husband and I have considered becoming vegetarian has to do with our concerns about the safety of the meat industry, concerns about the circumstances that the animals are living in, and health concerns. On the other hand, I am concerned about feeding my son too many soy products (although, the above mentioned Quorn is a soy-free protein).

I often wonder (without asking, because it seems rude) if my vegetarian friends and acquaintances would eat meat if they could easily get free range chicken and free range beef. (D~, I’m pretty sure your answer would be no. :-) ) (I’m not sure if there is such a thing, technically, as “free range” beef. What I mean is, happy cows wandering around.)

I have a real love affair with beef – there is a beef, mushroom, and hummos dish at a restaurant near our house that I have downright irrestible cravings for. I love beef tenderloin, and I love beef stew, and especially Japanese style curried beef stew, and I’m not sure, at this point, that I feel like giving them up.

I have found a farm, about 25 minutes from our house, where we can buy a ¼ or 1/2 of a cow. A quarter or a half of a happy cow who spent his life wandering around on a farm, instead of cooped up in a barn, who has not been fed mountains of antibiotics or mashed up pieces of other cow. (And I find this very appealing, because Mad Cow Disease really scares the crap out of me.) (Also, buying a cow in this way, is actually not much more expensive than buying beef at the grocery store - some cuts are cheaper, actually. You just have to have room to store it all.)

So, I think for the moment, we are going to start there. Buying our meat in the form of happy cows. Or, rather, cows that had happy lives. And I think we might increase our meat free meals from 2 to 3 per week to 3 or 4 per week, now that we have found this soy free Quorn product.

Have I mentioned BACON in this post, because truly, BACON is a huge sticking point with me and the vegetarian question. Bacon...mmmm...bacon...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Breathing Easier and Congratulations

My agency has informed me that the children in its care in DaNang were evacuated last weekend (before the hurricane hit) and have since been returned to DaNang. So, we are breathing easier with the knowledge that Lana is okay.

Several "CONGRATULATIONS" need to go out to:

BringMeMia and
Lucy In the Sky and
Jenn and

a special hopeful note of congratulations and best wishes to:


With all the worry about the typhoon I forgot to mention our excitment over the weekend. Gabriel and I went to the see the circus (Wringling Bros.) with my friend J. and her daughter A. A fabulous time was had by all, until the second to last act, when, evidently, a burlap bag caught on fire, the circus ended rather abruptly, and we were all told to evacuate the building as quickly as possible. We watched four fire trucks drive up to the arena as we tried to leave. Much, much excitement. I cannot decide if Gabe was more impressed by the circus or the firetrucks...


Monday, October 02, 2006

Typhoons of My Past

I have just gotten off the phone with my agency. They don’t have any specific information to give to me, except to say that they had correspondence from their staff in Vietnam overnight (while it was Monday during business hours in Vietnam) and that none of that correspondence was “out of the ordinary”. I was told if they heard anything regarding the children in Danang they would let me know immediately.

In that I cannot think about anything OTHER than typhoons, I thought I would share my experience regarding TYPHOONS I HAVE PERSONALLY WEATHERED.

(This has you on the edge of your seats, doesn’t it? You’re thinking “Top of the NY Times Bestseller List” potential, aren’t you? :-P)

Since typhoons occur in Asia, the two typhoons I experienced were, of course, in Asia, during the time I lived in Japan.

In September of 1995, I boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit to Osaka. It was a direct flight and scheduled to take 13 hours. As you may recall from earlier posts, my husband had left for Tokyo a few weeks earlier, and had, by this point, completed his AEON Corporation training in Tokyo, and had moved into an AEON Corporation apartment in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he was awaiting my arrival. I was scheduled to spend a week in Okayama and then join him in Hitachi.

Unbeknownst to any passengers on the flight, a typhoon began pummeling Osaka overnight. My father and my husband were calling back and forth to each other and to Northwest Airlines. At one point, Northwest told my father that our flight could not land in Japan and was being re-routed to land in Seoul, South Korea because the weather was “better there” and still too bad for us to land in Osaka. My father called my husband and told him that I was being sent to Seoul. At that point, my husband walked across the street in what he described as a “torrential, pouring rain that felt like someone had turned a fire hose” on him, and walked into the liquor store across from our apartment building where he bought a some rum, which he proceeded to drink while watching the news coverage of the typhoon in Japanese, certain that my plane would crash and leave him widowed in a foreign country after only 3 months of marriage.

An hour past the time we were supposed to land, and we were still in the air, and starting to wonder what was going on. The pilot came on, and said that there were “weather related issues” and that “we now have a window to land” – and he put the seatbelt light on. It still didn’t occur to me to think much of anything except that we were late and that I hoped AEON’s representatives would be there to meet me at the airport. (As it turned out, there were three AEON teachers on that flight.) The plane began its descent and I was shocked at the amount of rain hitting the wing (I had a window seat just in front of the wing.) Then, I became increasingly worried as the rain seemed to hitting the plane harder, and I could see the ocean coming toward the plane, what seemed at the time like miles of angry whitecaps on the ocean, and NO LAND to speak of. I actually didn’t see ANY land until I felt the plane’s wheels smack down against the ground, in one of the bumpiest landings I have ever experienced. Evidently, the runway at Osaka juts out into the ocean…not a fun way to land in a typhoon, let me tell you.

It was not until we got off the flight that we learned about the typhoon. We were the last plane to land in Osaka that night, but, we were the last three teachers that AEON was scheduled to pick up at the airport that evening, anyway. We took a train from Osaka to Okayama that night, and could see nothing out the window during to the unrelenting rain. In retrospect, I think it is impressive that the trains were running at all.

Months later, my husband and I sat in our little apartment, watching the Japanese news, and the bright red warning scrolling across the bottom of the screen, with the kanji that we recognized meant “Hitachi” (our city).

There was a knock on our door, and Keiko, one of our neighbors, was standing on our stoop, soaking wet, holding a broken umbrella. (It had broken in the wind just walking down the block.) Keiko was endlessly upbeat and happy, so, we were surprised to see her looking worried. “Hello!” she said. “It’s very very dangerous weather right now. Do you see the television? It is saying, ‘typhoon is coming to Hitachi’. Please, do not try to leave the apartment. Most especially, do not try to go to watch the typhoon on the beach.” (What I find astonishing is that she was actually worried that we MIGHT get it into our heads to walk down to the beach. In the typhoon. Which would have involved climbing down a steep bluff on a narrow trail.) We assured Keiko that we would not leave the apartment, and certainly would not walk down to the ocean. We then had a long conversation that involved several checks of the dictionary in both languages, from which we finally agreed that in the unlikely event of an evacuation order (this is the phrase that confounded translation), Keiko would come get us in her husband’s car.

Keiko headed back out into the driving, sideways rain. Husband and I sat in our living room/dining room/kitchen with our feet warming under the kotatsu table, and watched more news. At some point, I got up and stood staring out the sliding glass doors that made up the back wall of our apartment, unable to see anything but the gray gray howling rain. At another point, I put in a tape of popular music from the US that had been sent to me by my aunt, I remember listening to the Macarena while I wondered if the roof would blow off. (We had no idea how popular the Macarena was in the US. My aunt had just taped an afternoon of random radio and sent it to us for the comforts of home. I liked the song a lot – I didn’t know that by that time it had become a joke.) At some point I wrote a letter to my mother, which I found years later in a drawer in my mom’s living room. “Dear Family, There’s a typhoon happening right now. That’s like a hurricane but only in the eastern hemisphere. Don’t worry though, if I manage to get this to the post office, everything turned out fine in the end.” I remember making miso soup and rice for us to eat, and being thankful that, despite everything, we hadn’t lost power. Night came and we dragged our futons out of the closet and stretched them out on the tatami mats in our bedroom and slept. The wind was loud and scary. In the morning, the rain had stopped, and our neighborhood was a mess of strewn garbage and debris. But, everything was still standing.

When we left Japan I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about earthquakes or typhoons ever again. How wrong I was – and how scary it is, now, to worry not for my own safety, but for the safety of a child I am waiting to bring home…

Completely Hysterical

Most of you know that Lana is in DaNang. To say that I am worried right now is the understatement of the universe. DaNang was hit by the eye of a typhoon yesterday. Right now, 11 are reported dead, hundreds injured. I cannot get a hold of my agency because they are on the west coast and it is only 7:15 AM there right now. I am so so so worried right now.


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