As much as she loves the nativity story, Julia doesn’t like every part of the canonical narrative, which (at least in its YouTube variant) culminates with the “mischievous” Herod trying to “steal” the baby Jesus. This doesn’t jibe with Julia’s sense of how the world ought to work, so she has altered the story in various ways. Below, read an amalgam of some of the best bits of her revisionism. If she has to be a Christian – and on Saturday, she said that she was a Christian, like Nonna and Boppa and Grandma – at least she can be a heretical one.
After Herod tells his guards to go find the holy infant, he calls them back and says that they should leave Jesus alone. Then he goes to his own house and talks to “the lady Herod lives with” and they decide to have their own baby, “because all he really wants is his own baby.” After a few minutes, “the lady Herod lives with” has a baby which they name Mary. Herod loves the baby and takes good care of her and doesn’t feel like stealing other babies anymore. Then Herod moves his castle to Bethlehem, right next to Jesus’s stable, and lives there. Sometimes, when Mary and Joseph are tired or have had “a rough day, “Herod comes by to babysit Jesus. When this happens, Jesus squeals in delight and shouts, “Hewwod! Hewwod!” Herod entertains Jesus by “falling down in a funny way” over and over. When Jesus gets hungry, Herod makes toasted pita bread with frosting and myrrh on it.
My recent post about running in the Arb was free of actual visual evidence that the Arb is gorgeous right now, so here’s some belated proof from a run this afternoon. (The grasshoppers were too fast for me.)
One of the perks of having highly educated, highly skilled friends is that they can offer interesting insights that, like the TV says, you just can’t get anywhere else. Here, a friend who was a linguistics major at Mac and is now a professional wordsmith explains, more or less scientifically, how Vivi gets ma out of spoon:
Drop the final n first: spoo
Mess up the vowel: spa
The sp is a consonant blend – big time tough. Many languages don’t even have them. Look at Hawai’ian, just single consonants with lots of a‘s and o‘s in between. So she drops the s and gets puh
Finally, p and m are both bilabials, made with the lips together. The m allows air to flow through the nose while the p stops the airflow entirely, which means the m is easier. This is why “Mama” is a common first word, and why puh becomes ma.
The girls enjoy nothing so much for breakfast as the same thing, day in and day out. For months now, weekends have been given over to “banana split breakfast,” which is a few slices of banana topped with peanut butter (Julia) or yogurt (Genevieve), a handful of berries, and a handful of dry cereal.
Weekdays have recently been dominated by toast with peanut butter and honey (J) or cereal and yogurt (Vv), but for the past week both girls have asked for waffles, topped for one (guess who) with peanut butter and honey or butter (ditto), and, on the side, a banana and, for Vivi, a dollop of yogurt.
Adorably, Vivi loves to eat all these things only about half as much as she likes to name them, using her spoon (“ma,” mysteriously) to point to each in turn and announcing: “Orgut! Num, num. Nana! Num, num. Bawffle! Num, num!”
My eye ordeal knocked me off my running schedule, but back at it now, I’ve discovered that it’s high summer in the prairie. There are two main signs of this state.
First and best are fields full of yellow-and-black flowers. The black-eyed susans lean gently in one direction or the other, trying to find open space to soak up the sunlight. The sunflowers, on the other hand, just grow straight up on their thick, prickly stalks. They seem to get taller in the twenty minutes between my outbound northerly passage and my southbound return trip. I hardly noticed them two weeks ago, when they were poking their heads up over the other prairie grasses, but now they’re as tall as I am, and soon will tower over me.
The second, and much less appealing, emblems of high summer are the grasshoppers. Everywhere. Brown, green, black. Hopping, leaping, flying. Buzzing, clicking, making no sound. They look like rocks or twigs lining the path until I get too close and they launch themselves away from me, around me, toward me, into me. I haven’t had one actually fly into my ear or mouth or nose yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time. I can see why Yahweh used them to punish evildoers.
Spurred by my scratched-cornea ordeal, I just ordered some prescription sunglasses online through a sunglasses website. I used a Wikipedia entry to understand my prescription card, a ruler to measure my pupillary distance according to instructions on another store’s website, Paypal to handle the transaction, and our office copier to make and email a scan of my Rx to the vendor. All very casual; I hardly noticed even doing any of this until it was all done.
On my Sunday-morning walk with the girls (come to think of it, the next time Julia asks, “Why don’t we go to church on Sundays?” (as she did on Sunday), I’m going to reply, “Because it would interfere with our walks”), Vivi and Julia reenacted this little routine at a certain corner two blocks from home: I crouch down, clasp hands with one of them, and then lift as that kid climbs up me – her feet on my shins, knees, waist (if I’m lucky), stomach, chest, shoulders (and if you’re Vivi, my face). (The other kid stands nearby, shouting, “Me next! Me next!”)
It’s fun, one of those things that strike me as quintessentially dad-ly, and they’re both still diminutive enough that I can actually do it. But as I helped Julia scale my torso for the third or fourth time, I looked down at her legs and realized with a start that they were kid legs, not baby legs – gangly, not chubby; lightly tanned, not pink; lean, not thick; long, not stubby. I missed this transformation, which is all the more shameful because she has worn only skirts and dresses – no shorts or pants – since May. Before long, she’ll be as tall as me and hopefully using those legs to run ten miles or swim 1,000 meters or bike a century – or patrol the stacks at the library or help her sister through the first day of seventh grade.
The only way today could have been a more perfect summer day is if it had involved ice cream, and I’m about to take care of that omission. I think I spent about eight hours of quality time with the girls today, including a long walk this morning and an hour at the playground this afternoon. Everyone – even me! – was in a good mood, and both girls were in excellent form: being silly, trying new things, helping each other out, refusing to fuss… Here they are, attired in their finest, during the morning walk. I don’t recall, but I’ll bet Julia is telling me that she’s Mary and that Vivi is Jesus. With these killer outfits, who could argue?
1. I absent-mindedly used silicon spray, not saline solution, to clean my contacts.
2. Because I wanted to see how many different eye medications I could get. (Three and counting!)
3. I make the poor decision to act on my life-long desire to kiss a porcupine.
4. I recently led a secret Special Forces mission in western Afghanistan which included an ambush of al-Qaeda forces during a sandstorm.
5. The gods answered my prayer for the opportunity to hear the phrase “epithelial erosion” again.
6. I tried to perform LASIK on myself with a CD-player laser, a thimbleful of whiskey, and a paring knife.
7. Because after you get one scratch on your cornea, you’re forever susceptible to renewed scratches in that same spot.
Vivi, imitating her big sister, has lately been making a point of sitting, diapered or not, on the potty chair before her bath. Until tonight, it was just an exercise. Tonight, though, she actually went! She grinned up at me as I attended to any of another half-dozen pre-bath activities and shouted, “Potty! Potty!” I haven’t been happier to wipe a bottom since about this time last summer, when her sister was trying to get into the potty habit. At this rate, Vivi will be toilet trained by the time Julia heads back to preschool in September. That won’t happen, but a dad can dream. All that diaper money…
As promised the other day, I found a couple Playmobil nativity scene sets on eBay last week. They arrived earlier this week, and Julia’s been playing with them ever since. After setting everything up and playing with them for a while each evening – including a full recitation of the YouTube video, right down to the sound effects and the background music – she asks me move to the entire sacred diorama to a safe haven at the edge of the dining table, where (she thinks) Vivi can’t get at it. Tonight, all this play also entailed creating a backdrop for the stable: brown hills, green trees, a night-blue sky, and of course the Star of Bethlehem. (Click through for notes on Flickr.)
As I hurriedly made this backdrop and Julia excitedly played with the various figures this evening, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. I’ve spent almost exactly half my life – since taking Cal Roetzel’s “Intro to the New Testament” class at Macalester in 1992 – rejecting Christianity with more or less vehemence, and this is what it’s got me: a little girl who can recite big chunks of the Nativity story and a fun evening fabricating a diorama for her Bible toys.
Welcome to the new Blowing & Drifting. I’ve shifted the blog to WordPress, for lots of mundane but important reasons:
Sandvox, the Mac-only application which I had been using for B&D, was getting increasingly troublesome to use, so I decided that I wouldn’t.
I wanted to be able to post to my blog from any computer, not just my home Mac.
I got sick of handling the behind-the-scenes IT wankery I’d created for myself, partly because I’m not a terribly savvy sysadmin and partly because Sandvox wasn’t making things easy on me.
Finally, WordPress seems pretty cool, user-friendly, and attractive.
So here we are! You can still find links to the old Blowing & Drifting – and the older, now defunct) Xferen and After School Snack blogs – in the blogroll, down at right, and I’ll set up redirects in an effort to keep any older bookmarks pointing toward this new page. But you’re of course welcome to bookmark this page or add the new RSS feed to your reader, since this is where you’ll find the new stuff.