Milky Way, starry night, awe

Poem of the Week (month, season, year...): Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae

Non sum qualis eram -- I am not what I was.

I felt this so strongly last night, on a long-anticipated date. I'd been flirting with the man for years, but I am no longer flirtatious. Witty sayings do not come easily. A simple question unexpectedly brings tears. For the first time, I truly feel that I am over 50.

"Non sum qualis eram", I thought to myself, moving awkwardly and self-consciously in a strange kitchen, trying to make us coffee. The movie had been excellent; nevertheless, I could think of nothing to say about it. I made an effort to be funny and charming, knowing, as I did it, that flinging roses helps only momentarily.

I am not what I was when I was with Woof. The work now is to discover what I have left within me, and to make the most of it.

Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
-- by Ernest Dowson

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was grey:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind,
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
hat, smile, happy

State of the Becky

It's all a mix of ups and downs.

I started working last month for a local manufacturer as an IT Business Analyst. I like the people, I like the company. I've learned an enormous amount about Lean Manufacturing processes and analysis. I'm good at my job; I get to work a little with SQL again, yay!

I'm moving at the end of the month, going to be rooming with an old acquaintance who's not in town a lot. I'll have a lot more usable space than I do now and the price is right.

Physically, I started the summer in better shape than I've been in years. I've lost over 50 pounds. I've been taking care of neglected aspects of my health, like my chronic mild anemia -- it's seriously amazing how much of a difference prescription iron supplements make.

But... With the new job, there's been Too Much Sitting. Haven't gained any weight but my back and leg muscles are not happy. I need to take the time to exercise, which would help with the loose skin, too. I am still fat, would probably need to lose another 50 pounds to shake off that social stigma.

I've been trying to date. So far, I've found a handful of people who seem both interesting and attractive. Unfortunately, every one of them is either over 500 miles away or is just not interested in me! I've got a couple of old friends here in St Louis who I've gone out with. Fun times, but no spark. bbwoof suits me so well; it's very hard to find someone just like him, only better able to stick with a commitment over the rough patches. The more I see what other fish are in the sea, the more I want my old fish back.

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Financially, I have enough to live on. I'm able to save 10% of my income, and also start to pay down debts. Still need to buy a car, can't keep driving alataristarion's car forever. Not looking forward to the increased expenses, though.

I don't know how long this job is going to last. Although I think I'm beneficial for the company, I'm not sure my employer thinks so. The job I interviewed for is not exactly what they hired me to do and I feel like I'm getting mixed messages. They brought me in not an employee but as an independent contractor. This means higher taxes and absolutely no benefits and no job security. If I didn't like the work or the company, I'd shrug that off and spend my free time looking for the next thing... But I do like it there.

I've billed less than half the hours I've worked. That's partially because I don't think it's right as a consultant to bill for training, set-up, and administrative tasks; so I haven't charged for all that self-education on Lean Mfg, learning how to use their ERP, refreshing my memory on tricky formulas, etc. And I don't want to go over the budget for this project, which includes only 100 hours of my time.

Wise, or foolish? I don't know. I know that by taking more time to get to know the company and the problem they want me to solve, I'm producing much better results than if I'd slammed this out in two weeks with generic, superficial knowledge. I'm OK with the cash flow. Frankly, the little bit of SQL and VBA development I get to do is so much fun that I'd do it for free.

Biggest problem with work, really, is that I tend to avoid potential conflict and rejection by withdrawing. So I find myself using "I'm working from home today" as an excuse to avoid coming in and perhaps being told not to come back. Stupid, I know, because they could just email me and tell me that. Also stupid because they'd probably like my work better if they saw me diligently plugging away. But I have to convince my subconscious of that!

A Few Good Links

Usually, it's a good idea to avoid reading comments on any news story. But not this one! Be sure to read the comments on this science news story; they range from educational to charming:
Gravity’s strength still an open question

The comments following this article are worth reading, too, although many are frustrating to any American who cares about the future of healthcare in their country. Too many people in the US still believe that "we have the best healthcare in the world", and make unsubstantiated excuses for our failing system even when faced with clear and convincing evidence of its failure:
How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally

"Executive Function", EF, describes how well our brains handle attention, self-control, working memory, problem solving, etc -- essentially, how our brains cognitively manage themselves. People with weak executive functions tend to have poorer health, higher crime rates, lower incomes, and generally more miserable lives than those who exhibit strong, effective EF. It's only recently that I have learned, to my surprise, of how much evidence there is that physical exercise strengthens cognitive EF!
Don't be put off by the dry title of this article, it's fascinating. What programs encourage the development of EF in children? Aerobic exercise is good, but Tae Kwon Do is even better. Classrooms run on the Montessori model encourage better Executive Function. And good old imaginative play with good friends may help the best:
Interventions shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4–12 Years Old

Finally, some humor! First, an absolutely perfect send-up of postmodern literary theory:
A Review of 'Go, Dog, Go'

Next, a commercial that deserves to go viral. Anyone who was ever twelve years old and longing to grow up can relate to the girl in HelloFlo's new ad. Anyone who has ever been a parent (or teacher, or babysitter...) can cheer on her mother!

What's Cooking This Week?

I've had a limited diet for the last couple of days. Today I got an egg and a small amount of plain yogurt for brunch. Other than that, it's nothing but clear liquids all day. This is because another patient canceled, so I was able to get a scheduled colonoscopy moved up a few weeks: I'm getting it tomorrow, oh joy.

All complaining aside, I truly am grateful that I'm able to get this done. Last night I played Magic the Gathering, then went out for hamburgers and ice cream with friends. Even though I couldn't have pickles and lettuce on the burger, or nuts on the ice cream, it was delicious! Plus, friends! And the rest of the week should be full of tasty tasty foods.

What foods?, you may ask. These foods!, I will answer:

Sunday: Clear liquids and nasty medicine. Let us speak no more about this.

Monday: Maybe leftover pasta? I'll see what I feel like eating. I'll be a little groggy. Might just go out to a soup-and-salad bar.

Tuesday: Dinner with my Mom. My brother Mark is in town, so he's coming to dinner too. Instead of our usual pizza and Downton Abbey, I think we're having steaks and conversation. I like pizza, and I like Downton Abbey, but steaks and conversation are A Very Good Thing. :-)

Wednesday: Sandwich and soup after Knit Night, I think.

Thursday: Thursday is usually the night I attend the Baronial meeting of the local Society for Creative Anachronism. But this week the meeting place has been reserved for a private party, and most of the group is meeting informally at a nearby restaurant. I'll eat out with them if I can afford it. Otherwise,it's a sandwich in the car on the way to the restaurant, then nurse a single beer all evening.

Friday: My daughter and her husband are going out for her birthday, and I'm babysitting. I'll either eat something at her house, or bring sandwiches.

Saturday: After work I'm going to Game Day at my son-in-law's company, Greater Than Games. That evening I'm babysitting again as my daughter and her husband go out with friends to celebrate a fabulous Game Day. So.... sandwiches again? I'll have to ask her.

Sometimes you cook all week. Sometimes you just eat sandwiches. IT STILL COUNTS AS TASTY FOOD.

What's cooking this week?

Sunday: Road food on the way back from the Dayton Mensa Regional Gathering, which was a very very good time and over too fast!

Stopped in Terre Haute again, and deliberately went to a Denny's there because bbwoof has an irrational dislike of Denny's. It's not because of corporate discrimination or because he dislikes the food. No, he explains that it's because the restaurant chain was bought out by Baskin-Robbins (or is it vice versa?), and so the chairs were made deliberately uncomfortable because of that.

Yeah. It's never made much sense. He hasn't changed his explanation, even when I've shown him the history of each company from their corporate websites, making it clear that there is no connection between the two companies, one has never owned the other, they have never been owned by the same corporate entity.

This bizarre "explanation" of why he didn't like Denny's had seemed like an odd but harmless eccentricity.

In retrospect, this was a red flag.

Woof decided he didn't like Denny's, gave reasons that sounded reasonable on the surface but were easily shown to be mistaken, and has stuck to his reasons for years even when shown that he is mistaken. He simply doesn't want to eat there; the reasons he gives are, ultimately, irrelevant. He will not change his mind or give Denny's another chance, because that is the way he is.

And this is exactly what he's doing with me. He has simply decided he doesn't want to be married to me. I've been driving myself crazy trying to understand. He's given reasons that are contrary to fact, reasons that I have shown him are mistaken, that even his own lawyer explains are not accurate. It doesn't matter. I need to stop driving myself crazy, beating myself up. Woof simply doesn't want to be with me anymore and the reasons are irrelevant. He will not change his mind or give our relationship another chance, because that is the way he is.

I probably should have known better. But I thought he was as committed to me as I was to him. :'(

Anyway! I had a nice cobb salad at Denny's! It's not ever going to be my favorite restaurant, but now I'm free to go there if I want.

Monday: Pasta with ricotta and peas.(Also, bake the remaining ricoota into a quiche for breakfasts and lunches this week.)
Tuesday: Dinner with Mom
Wednesday: Last class of the program today! Thaw the rest of the chili for late-night supper, after knitting group.
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: pancakes; eggs; broiled grapefruit.
Friday: TBD
Saturday: TBD

What's Cooking This Week?

Sunday: Chopped liver sandwich, pickles, beer, chocolate, hamantaschen. Happy Purim!

Monday: Cheese, fruit, hummus, olives, pita, spinach bourekas, large glass of wine -- no, not more Purim celebration, this was the bar food we got when several friends and relatives gathered after the St Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony to celebrate my daughter Johanna's second nomination. It was a fabulous night.

Tuesday: Pizza and beer with my mother, as we watched "Downton Abbey" together, then a chocolate martini at home. (Gah, so much drinking this week! I'm going to gain back all the weight I lost if I'm not careful.)

Wednesday: Thaw the leftover chili from last Saturday, serve with tortillas and chopped salad. Went out to dinner at Lulu's with my friend Barb.

Thursday: Starbucks sandwich and latte -- for free. (I've accumulated enough stars to get one free food item from Starbucks, plus I have a coupon for a free latte. This will be a great dinner on the go, after class and before my therapist appointment.) Had the leftover chili for lunch today.

Friday: Road food, probably somewhere in Indiana. I'm going to a Mensa convention in Dayton, Ohio this weekend. Stopped at a Starbucks in Terre Haute for a free sandwich and latte on the road.

Saturday: The excellent Saturday night buffet at the convention.
Eitan bubbles, play

Eitan's First Lost Tooth!


It came out in the middle of dinner a few days before it was ready, so there was blood, and pain, and tears.

But the new gap-toothed smile was broad just two minutes after this pictures was taken, when his bled-on dinner was replaced by a big bowl of ice-cream.

He excitedly told us that he knew all about the tooth fairy already. "She gets teeth from allll over the world to use to build her castle! And she gives you money! And she's invisible!"

The tooth fairy left him two dollars for his tooth. He's already eagerly wiggling the next one.

They grow up so fast.
thoughtful, serious


I'm looking for a notary in the St. Louis area whose services I could use ASAP to get two signatures notarized on a document.
My work and class schedule make it difficult to get to a bank or post office during business hours. But, even more, I'm probably going to get very emotional signing it, so I'd rather not just walk into a bank and ask a stranger to notarize this.... Anybody have any suggestions?