KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shameless Grandmotherly Photo-Mongering

Becky and Ana at homeIf you just can't get enough of looking at photos of my adorable new granddaughter, Ana, go here for more.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Cutie

My granddaughter, Anastasia Kathleen SanchezMy granddaughter, Ana, two weeks old yesterday, did me the honor of chewing my index finger. That tiny little mouth has major suction power! The best part was that after her mother breastfed her, she slept on Grandma's chest, upright like a little kangaroo baby, for about an hour. She was so warm and snuggly that I almost fell asleep too. Those huge eyes! That full head of hair! Must ... hold ... baby ... indefinitely!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Honoring the Fallen

It is Memorial Day, when we honor the fallen. These are some of the fallen 70,000 or so whom I honor, Iraqi civilians wounded and shot and killed by soldiers in the illegal Iraq war, leaving behind widows and widowers and orphans and childless parents. (Photos courtesy of Gorilla's Guides.)

Iraqi woman mourning her killed son
Iraqi woman mourning her killed son

Two Iraqi children killed when an American soldier opened fire on the car they were in
Two Iraqi children killed when an American soldier opened fire on the car they were in

Iraqi boy at a morgue, holding the feet of his dead father
Iraqi boy at a morgue, holding the feet of his dead father

Wounded Iraqi child
Wounded Iraqi child

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Mother Has Died

I was having trouble sleeping, so I got out of bed and turned on the computer to read news and e-mails. Just now, a little before 1 a.m., I got an e-mail from my youngest ex-brother-in-law, addressed to a slew of family and ex-family members. Kate, my first husband's mother and the woman who felt much more like a real mother to me than my biological mother ever did, died last night. He wrote:

I'm writing to let you know that my mom passed away tonight at 8:20 p.m. surrounded by family. While we were all saddened by our personal loss, we also share a profound sense of joy for the life she lived and draw comfort from knowing she can finally rest. As I contemplate the last month I spent by her side, I am moved to share two things with you about my mom.

Going through her meticulous records, I found that every detail of the end of her life was accounted for. She communicated both in person and in writing her living will, settlement of her belongings, and funeral arrangements and even included a poem tucked in an envelope with her records that was intended to bring us comfort as we faced the reality of life without her. At the time she was preparing us practically and emotionally for her death, it might have felt morbid, but now I can see it for the incredibly loving act that it was. A mother to the end—she never stopped taking care of us.

I was also struck by the conversations I had with people who called to express their concern and relay their love for my mom. I won’t presume to say the experience gave me insight into the grand meaning of life, but I feel I developed a keen insight into the meaning of my mom’s life. She had a tremendous capacity to love and be loved. When she loved you, she always loved you, and apparently once you loved Kate, you never stopped loving her. Even as she challenged people and held them to task for their actions, she gave her heart unconditionally. Friends from everywhere she lived called and wrote. Her friends from first grade are still her friends, her gang of girlfriends from grade school are still her gang, people she considered family were always family to my mom, and 59 years later, the boy she fell in love with when she was 14 was still holding her hand after 55 years of marriage and the greatest love story I have ever known.

Kate, I know you're happy wherever you are now. You didn't know how to be unhappy. I'm sure you know that all of us here will miss you terribly, but I can't help picturing you laughing. And I can feel your soft hug and your kiss on my cheek. I love you so much. Thank you for being the mother of my heart.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Traitorous Democrats

Hey, you jellyfish Dems, grow a spine! (design copyright 2007 by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf)Damn spineless Dems aren't doing what we voters told them to—end the war in Iraq. I can at least take comfort that my representative, Tim Bishop (D–NY), and one of my senators, Hilary Clinton (D–NY), voted against the supplemental bill that gives Bush $95 billion more for the war and cravenly sets no timetable for getting the troops out of Iraq. Senate records note Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–NY) as "not voting." I don't know if that means he abstained or wasn't there to vote. I'd faxed all three about voting no yesterday. How did your representative—or nonrepresentative, as the case may be—vote? How did your senators—or obscenators—vote?

Updated at 10:18 p.m.

Hey, Cheney Family: Parenting Is Always Political

Lynne and Dick Cheney with their newest grandchild (White House photo)Poor little Samuel David Cheney. His famous grandfather doesn't really love him. And even his own mother won't fight for his best interests.

Samuel was born to Dick and Lynne Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe yesterday. The senior Cheneys happily posed with Samuel, but Grandpa, who's in a great position to champion gay rights, won't do it.

That will leave Samuel with only one legal parent. Virginia, where Mary and Heather live, doesn't allow the same-sex partner of a parent to adopt that parent's child. It also doesn't allow same-sex marriages or even civil unions.

Will Samuel's grandfather at least say publicly how unfair this is? I doubt it.

Will Mary speak up? Last winter, she said, "This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate by people on either side of an issue. It is my child." Okay, Mary, I understand not wanting to use your baby as a prop. But don't your instincts as a mother urge you to do everything possible to protect your child, such as ensuring that he has two parents? What if something happens to you? Would you want Samuel to be taken away from his other mother? Wouldn't you want Heather to have the legal right to raise him?

C'mon, Dick and Mary. Parenting is always political, whether you like it or not. Do the right thing. Advocate for same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Help Iraqi Children, Victims of a Senseless War

Displaced Iraqi children (UNICEF photo)UNICEF is calling for emergency financial aid for Iraqi children. Just thinking of all of the orphaned, displaced, hungry, lonely, wounded, and ill children there makes me sad.

UNICEF's report on the issue says, in part:
Since 2003, nearly 15 per cent of Iraq's total population have fled their homes—50 per cent of them children. Out of an estimated 4 million displaced Iraqis, approximately 1.9 million have sought refuge inside Iraq (around 700,000 in 2006 alone) and 2.2 million have crossed the border into neighbouring countries according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Amongst those fleeing are doctors, nurses and teachers—a devastating brain-drain leaving many Iraqi schoolchildren without access to quality education and basic health care. More than 750,000 Iraqis have sought safety in Jordan and over 1.25 million in Syria where, despite support from government and local communities, they now face an uncertain future. Iraq's children, already casualties of a quarter of a century of conflict and deprivation, are being caught up in a rapidly worsening humanitarian tragedy.

Despite a strong response from the international community, the needs of Iraq's vulnerable young citizens are quickly outstripping available help. Regional resources to cope with the influx are being stretched to the limit. Inside Iraq and abroad, families are spending the last of their life savings to rent homes and to purchase basic supplies for survival. Many people are now reaching the very limit of their coping strategies. The need to act is urgent.

UNICEF is therefore requesting US$ 41,750,000 to step up its humanitarian relief effort for vulnerable Iraqi children and women in Iraq, Jordan and Syria over the next six months. ...
To make a donation specifically to help Iraqi children, go here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Educating Dr. Joyce Brothers

Psychologist and famous advice columnist Dr. Joyce BrothersMost mental-health professionals know better than to shoot off their mouth on disabilities with which they're unfamiliar without doing a little research first. But psychologist and syndicated columnist Dr. Joyce Brothers apparently doesn't. This unprofessional material appeared in the April 17 edition of her syndicated advice column, run by such newspapers as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Dear Dr. Brothers: I heard an author talking on the radio about so-called adult ADD [actually called AD/HD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder]. He gave a list of symptoms that includes such stuff as being unable to concentrate, forgetting things, having moments of clarity mixed with fogginess, etc. I listened to all the symptoms, but they confused me more than ever. It could describe me—but on the other hand, I think it could describe just about anyone who has a busy life, not enough time and a fair amount of stress. Are we making everything into a disorder or condition, or should I go for testing and see if I have a problem? —D.D.

Dear D.D.: Adult attention-deficit disorder is one of those phenomena that are made for people who consider themselves to be a bit of a hypochondriac. It's not going to kill you, but the symptoms are so vague and widespread that just about anyone could decide that he or she is suffering from its effects. And since there is no real definitive test to tell you whether you have it or not, it can provide hours of speculation and worry.

When we were young, this was a condition that hadn't been defined. Instead, kids like this were called derogatory names in school—lazy, unfocused, distractible, hyper, forgetful, immature and so forth. But a parent with the same faults? Usually the parents "grew up," and whether they were problem kids in school or not, most everyone managed to further their education and get some kind of a job and settle down. They were functioning OK until today, when the medical profession told them otherwise and gave them a label. What if you do have adult ADD? Will you take medication? Or will you just decide to muddle through? You can consult your doctor, or just say the heck with it and keep muddling through. It's your choice.
I don't think that the good doctor has yet joined the twenty-first century; she is apparently still in the age when trepanation was done to release the evil spirits that mental disorders were thought to be. My husband and I have just fired off a letter to her expressing our dismay and disbelief at her mischaracterization of AD/HD and the harm that she may have done:

As members of a family with three generations with diagnosed AD/HD treated with medication and therapy, we are appalled at the unprofessional advice about adult AD/HD in your column of April 17, 2007, which we found online. (We are members of CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. We were alerted only recently to that particular column by E. Clarke Ross, CHADD’s CEO.)

We expected much better from you, a long-respected psychologist. You wrote that adult AD/HD is "one of those phenomena that are made for people who consider themselves to be a bit of a hypochondriac" and that adults should just "muddle through."

Hypochondriac? We wish that you could have spent a week with our family and observed our 12-year-old son’s struggles in school and socially; 45-year-old Edward’s struggles on the job, in our marriage, and as a parent; and the interpersonal struggles experienced in many life arenas by Edward’s father A.K., 71, all caused by their AD/HD before they began treatment for it. We ask that you read our story, written by Katharine and posted on her blog here. Then tell us, face-to-face, that we are all hypochondriacs. Tell us that we imagined the chaos, the hurt feelings and misunderstandings, the communication difficulties that we experienced daily before the guys began treatment. Even with treatment, there are still difficulties in these areas. Tell us that Edward and A.K. should just have “grown up” and “settled down,” that AD/HD is not a lifelong disability. Not that there haven’t been good days in our home over the years, but we didn’t imagine the bad ones. Therapy and medications have made huge changes for the better in all three guys’ lives, and thus in our family life.

Please, before you do more damage to the psyches of countless people with AD/HD, learn the facts. Read the latest research; CHADD can help you get started with that. Even Katharine, not a physician or mental health professional but a medical copyeditor, can provide you with plenty of online reading material on the subject. Out of self-defense from living in the "House of AD/HD," she’s amassed a great many links.
Want to help educate Dr. Brothers? Please write her:

MMMMMDr. Jocelyn Brothers
MMMMMKing Features Syndicate
MMMMM888 Seventh Ave.
MMMMMNew York, NY 10019

Read this related post.


Your Health: For Sale to Big Pharma by the AMA

The American Medical Association (AMA) is selling you out by manipulating your physicians—with the docs' permission.

Yeah, yeah, the AMA has the high-and-mighty mission of promoting the "art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health," which it strives to accomplish through one of its core values of "integrity and ethical behavior." But it's still selling you out.

According to a story in today's Washington Post, the AMA makes "millions of dollars each year by helping data-mining companies link prescribing data to individual physicians. It does so by licensing access to the AMA Physician Masterfile, a database containing names, birth dates, educational background, specialties and addresses for more than 800,000 doctors."

The AMA says that info is entered into the masterfile when a doc enters any medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education: the doc's name, name of medical school attended, year of graduation, sex, birthplace, and birthdate, and details on residency training, state licensure, board certification(s), geographic location and address, type of practice, present employment, and practice specialty. "Physician records are never removed from the AMA Physician Masterfile, even in the case of a physician's death. The AMA maintains information on more than 130,000 deceased physicians. These data are shared with other organizations and agencies who credential physicians and are used to identify individuals who attempt to fraudulently assume the credentials of deceased physicians."

Sounds fine and dandy; the AMA is protecting us consumers against fake physicians. But the AMA turns around and does this: After any giant pharmaceutical pays enough bucks to the AMA, it can search the masterfile to find which docs it wants to target.

Some AMA members complained about this practice, says the Post story, so last year the AMA began allowing physicians to opt out and "shield their individual prescribing information from salespeople, although drug companies can still get it. So far, 7,476 doctors have opted out, AMA officials said.

" 'That gives the physician the choice,' said Jeremy A. Lazarus, a Denver psychiatrist and high-ranking AMA official.

"Some critics, however, contend that the AMA's opt-out is not well publicized or tough enough, noting that doctors must renew it every three years."

Want to hear something ridiculous? The Post story says:

Data-mining companies and the pharmaceutical industry argue that the practice has value far beyond the corporate bottom line. The information helps companies, federal health agencies and others educate physicians about drugs, track whether prescribing habits change in response to continuing medical education programs, and promote higher-quality care, they say. They stress that patient names are encrypted early in the process and cannot be accessed, even by the data-mining companies.
Do you believe that part about the inaccessibility of patients' names? I sure don't, knowing, as I do, about the federal database that monitors who gets what prescription drugs that are considered controlled substances (such as meds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [AD/HD]).

Not all physicians like this sort of spying:

"We don't like the practice, and we want it to stop," said Jean Silver-Isenstadt, executive director of the National Physicians Alliance, a two-year-old group with 10,000 members, most of them young doctors in training. ... "We think it's a contaminant to the doctor–patient relationship, and it's driving up costs."
According to the NPA's web site, the organization is supporting anti–data-mining bills in various state legislatures. That's great, but this fight needs to get nationwide recognition. You need to get involved by writing your senators and representatives, at both the state level and the national level. Need more proof that this is a huge underground problem that leaves you with drugs you might not need, at a higher cost than they otherwise would be?

An editorial* in the May 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that Big Pharma spends more than $23 billion each year marketing to physicians and that the industry now has 1 sales rep for every 5 physicians working in offices. Think these docs are all pure and uninfluenced by all those sales reps with all that money? Bwahahaha! They're wined and dined and given gifts and drug samples.

So, once the pharmaceuticals have a batch of docs to look at more closely, where do they get info on what drugs the docs provide? Says the editorial:
Currently, retail pharmacies sell de-identified patient prescription records with limited physician identifiers to data intermediaries known as health information organizations (HIOs). [Using the AMA's masterfile], HIOs can link individual physicians to prescription records by using identifiers common to the pharmacy databases and the AMA database, such as a physician's U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and medical license numbers. They also can track a physician's demographic and practice characteristics. The HIOs build prescribing profiles on the basis of these linked databases and sell them to pharmaceutical companies, which use the profiles to identify sales targets and plan detailing visits.
All during the courting of physicians, pharmaceutical sales reps tell the docs that their patients really need the giant's meds instead of the meds they've been prescribing. They help change the docs' prescribing habits in the particular pharmaceutical's favor (favor here = $$$$), which may not necessarily be in your favor (favor here = health).

Madder than hell yet? Then start writing letters to your legislators and governor right now!

Updated at 1:10 p.m.: Think that your docs know when to listen to pharma sales reps and when to blow them off? Most don't, according to this Associated Press story:
Four out of five doctors surveyed said they let drug and device makers buy them food and drinks despite recent efforts to tighten ethics rules and avoid conflicts of interest.

The national survey also found that family doctors were more likely to meet with industry sales representatives, and that cardiologists were more likely to pocket fees than other specialists. ...

The survey, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, was done by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University and the University of Melbourne in Australia. ...

*Grande D: Prescriber profiling: time to call it quits. Annals of Internal Medicine 2007;146(10):751–752.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Courage to Tell the Truth

Bravo, Jimmy Carter! You were exactly right, sir, in saying that "as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, [the] administration [of George W. Bush] has been the worst in history." You said that under Bush, there has been an "overt reversal of America’s basic values" as expressed by previous administrations, including that of his own father, former President George H.W. Bush.

You were courageous in speaking the truth, something many Americans have become afraid to do under this administration. Why, then, once you had spoken it, did you back off? You agreed with NBC's Meredith Vieira that your statements were careless or reckless. And now the White House says you are "increasingly irrelevant."

Don't do this, Mr. Carter. I admire you for many reasons, not the least of which are your honesty, courage, and moral fiber. Please stand up for the truth, stand up for what you said about Bush. If you do not, not many others will.

The United States needs truth like a bitter medicine that will stop the cancer of lies. Please continue to speak it ... and to own it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Learning to Let Go

Our tiny little granddaughter, Ana, visited our home for the first time tonight, bringing along her mommy and daddy. What a little angel she is, all soft and quiet and content just to be held, mostly by Mommy.

It is surprising to realize that I am not responsible for this little helpless bundle of need. When I hold her or look at her, I feel my mothering instincts kick in. After all, it was only about 5½ years ago when my youngest, Jared, was a baby, needing me every second. I must remember that Ana is Becky and Li's baby, that they will parent her just fine.

And they do. Tonight, she is just 6 days old, and already they are old hands at changing her diapers, burping her, knowing when she needs to breastfeed, knowing why she's fussing. I am not needed for anything but oohing and aahing, for holding Ana when Becky's ready to get all 6 feet of herself up from our deep, squishy, comfy couch. The sidecar crib they'd bought, so Ana could sleep right next to their bed, within reach? They don't use it; they've instinctively figured out that they and Ana get much more sleep when she sleeps with them in their bed.

It is time for me to let go of being a baby's mother. I am the mother of a grown woman, who is herself a mother. I am the mother of a elementary-school-age boy and a preteen boy who's just begun to notice girls. I am a grandmother. I can learn to step back a bit. I can learn to let go. My children will teach me how.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Good Night, Miss Snark

Ah, hell.

Miss Snark, the literary agent, is retiring from blogging. She's taught a lot of people how to write better and how to get their book manuscripts looked at by agents. She gave so much that it's likely she wore herself out.

publishing manuscript book author writing writer

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hospice Care for My Mother

You may recall that Kate, my ex-mother-in-law, whom I love very much, has been in the hospital. I woke up this morning to find an e-mail message from her youngest son:

After [Kate has spent] nearly a month in and out of the hospital (mostly in) fighting an infection related to her polycystic kidney disease, we were informed by the medical staff today that there is nothing more they can do for her. In accordance with my mom's wishes, and in consultation with my dad, my mom was removed from life-supporting measures today and will transition to hospice care tomorrow. She is sleeping quietly now and will be surrounded by her family over the next week.

Kate is my daughter Becky's favorite grandmother. Becky just gave birth on Monday, so it's too early for her to be traveling upstate to introduce Kate to her first great-grandchild, whose middle name is Kathleen in Kate's honor. But my ex-husband tells me that he printed out a photo of our grandchild to show Kate, who cried with joy, so Kate has had a chance to see her namesake before she dies.

Updated 5/25/07.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ana, My Granddaughter

Ana, just after birthMMMLi and Ana
Anastasia Kathleen Sanchez (left), all puffy from just having pushed her way out into the world (late at night on Monday, May 14). Proud and tired first-time father Lionel (right), holds his daughter. (Watch a short video of Daddy's Little Princess here.)

Ed and Ana
MMMNeil and Ana

Ana takes a peek at her Grandpa Ed O'Moore-Klopf (left), stepfather to her mother. Twelve-year-old Neil O'Moore-Klopf (right), thinks being an uncle is pretty cool. Watch a short video of Neil and Ana here (or here).

Becky and Anna
MMMUncles Jared and Neil

First-time mother Becky holds a sleeping Ana (left). Young uncles Jared, 5, and Neil, 12 (right), hug after a diner dinner.

I'll post more grandbaby pix here as they come in.

Breaking news at 2:30 p.m., 5/16/07: The obstetrician says that Becky and Ana can check out of the hospital tonight at 7.

Updated at 11:55 a.m., 5/17/07: Becky says she's too wiped out to attend tomorrow's graduation ceremony (for her master's degree in social work). "I'm having trouble even contemplating getting dressed today," she says, though she got three consecutive hours of sleep this morning, thanks to Li, who held and sang to Ana so Becky could rest. What a great dad!


You Can Call Me EditorGrandma

Just after 11 p.m. on May 14, I had crawled into bed, very tired but unable to sleep. The phone then demanded that I answer it; Ed was already deeply asleep and didn't hear it. It was Li calling to say that Anastasia "Ana" Kathleen* Sanchez, all 8 pounds 3 ounces (and 21.5 inches) of her, had arrived at about 10:45 and was happily breastfeeding in her mother's arms.

I woke Ed just long enough to tell him that he was a grandpa and that I was going to meet our new family member. I listened to triumphant late-night classical music on the car radio all the way over to the hospital (and later, all the way back home). By the time I arrived, it was just about midnight. The kind nurse, at Becky's request, had held off taking Anastasia to the nursery for the full measurement-and-cleanup routine so that I could hold my first grandchild.

Li, looking like a proud lion, his hair grown out into a long, springy 'fro, handed me the most beautiful little doll, who was sleeping contentedly because she'd just eaten and was snugly bundled. She's a soft dusky rose and, as Li and Becky agree, she looks at the moment like a miniature Li. She has a full head of wavy black hair, which is so much fun to see, as all my babies were blond and nearly bald at birth, not having much hair at all until they were at least 12 months old. Ana snuggled closely into my arms, humming away in her sleep. She recognized not only her mom's and dad's voices but also her grandma's.

Ed is taking today off work, as am I, and young Uncle Neil and Uncle Jared will miss seventh-grade classes and kindergarten classes, respectively, so that they can go with Ed to meet their niece and see their sister. Neil said before bed last night, "I miss my Becky. I want to hug her."

I'll post links to photos as soon as we can get a chance to download the images from Becky and Li's digital camera to my computer.

Now it's after 1:30 a.m. on May 15, and I really need sleep!

*Anastasia? "Because it sounds regal."
*Kathleen? To honor Becky's paternal grandmother, a sweet, kind,
*loving woman


Monday, May 14, 2007

Grandmotherhood Rapidly Approacheth

Ed's cell phone rang at about 2:30 this morning. (Mine was off; otherwise, it would've been the one ringing.) Our daughter's in the early stages of labor! I'm so excited!

Becky and her husband, Li (Lionel), timed her contractions at 8 to 10 minutes apart. Because this is her first pregnancy and it's high risk (she has rheumatoid arthritis, which, thankfully, has been in remission during her pregnancy), her doctor told her to go to the hospital to get checked out. She was told that her cervix is dilated 1 cm and that her contractions had sped up, being only 5 to 6 minutes apart. The doc told her to go home and rest (ha!) and to go back to the hospital when she wasn't smiling during contractions but when the contractions are painful enough that she can't talk. She was positively giddy on the phone. Yes, her contractions are painful, she says, but they remind her that she'll be meeting her child soon, so that makes her grin.

I know it could be 24 hours or even more before my first grandchild actually arrives, but I haven't been back to sleep yet, and I doubt I'll get much work done today or tomorrow.

Cross your fingers that everything goes so swiftly and so well that Becky gets to walk across the stage Friday afternoon, carrying her baby, to accept her master's degree diploma. As determined as the women in our family are, she just might manage it. ;-)

Updated at approximately 9 a.m.: Becky and Li are back at the hospital to stay. Her contractions are now Very Big Deals, but Li says she's still grinning between times.

Updated at approximately noon: Becky's laboring away in a labor room at the hospital; Li has his cell phone at the ready to keep both families updated. After I talked to Li, he passed the phone to Becky. She's been dozing between contractions, and she sounds tired. I could hear the baby's heartbeat, amplified by a fetal monitor, in the background. Becky says the baby's rolling all over the place. I've told Li and Becky that Ed and I won't show up until the baby's coming down the pike, so that they won't feel that we're hovering. But of course, I volunteered to drive on over (the hospital's about 40 minutes from here) the moment that Li calls and says they would like me there. I'm getting not a bit of work done today. I've already made arrangements for my in-laws to watch our sons after school today and have faxed driving directions to the hospital over to my husband at work, so we're free to head over there whenever it's time.

Updated at 2:25 p.m.: Li just called and said, "It's go time! Please come on over to the hospital. Becky wants you both here." And so off I go now, charging southwest across Long Island, while Ed charges off from Long Island's far east end, heading west.

Updated at 8:58 p.m.: Just got back home and am still not yet a grandmother. Though Becky has been laboring away, the baby's not any closer to making an appearance. The obstetrician has broken Becky's waters in an effort to speed things along, as she's been in labor for more than 18 hours now and is rather exhausted. Ed and I are back home with our boys (the 12-year-old and 5-year-old uncles-to-be) for the night. I did get in a good amount of massaging Becky's back and legs before we had to leave. We'll probably get a middle-of-the-night call pronouncing us grandparents.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Harmless Little Compulsions

I must always eat M&M's and other candies like it in groups of even-numbered amounts: 2, 4, 6, etc. I've done that as long as I can remember, and it appears I have passed this compulsion on to my daughter, who's 24. I must also kiss my children on both of their cheeks, never just on one, lest their stores of affection be lopsided.

Yes, I'm weird. ;-) What's your weirdness?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Under Nature's Spell

It's that delicious time of year—a time of waiting.

I'm waiting for all of the flowers in my flower beds to bloom and all of the leaves on my trees to finish unfurling their lush greenness.

I'm waiting for my boys to be out of school for the summer, so that they and I can wake up whenever we please instead of when the alarm clock insists, so that they'll be around most of the day and I can nuzzle and kiss their soft cheeks whenever I want to, and so that I can hear their laughter through the windows as they play in the yard.

I'm waiting for those long sunlit evenings so that there's time after dinner for my husband to lie in the backyard hammock with me under the shading leaves of our grand old maple.

I'm waiting for my daughter's graduation from her social work master's degree program on May 18.

I'm waiting for my first grandchild to be born. She, like her mother's graduation ceremony, is due on May 18. This is the hardest thing to wait for because nature will not be told what to do and when.

I'm waiting for our camping vacations—two this year, for the first time ever. We'll head to Rhode Island for a week in July, and then to Vermont for a week in August. I already feel all summery and thus not too motivated to work hard.

While I wait, I am pacified by the luxury of having all the windows in the house open to admit cool breezes, liquid birdsong, and the delicious scent of hyacinths. The forsythia shock my eyes and then warm my heart with their wild, outrageous yellow. My ferns unfurl like drowsy nappers stretching and yawning; my golden dandelions offer themselves up for my morning tea. My dwarf Japanese laceleaf maple pulses with a deep red as brilliant as a ruby's. Once again, nature has cast its languid spell.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yet Another Bush Boondoggle

Sign: Proud home of President George W. Bush
I'm embarrassed that Texas, my home state, would waste money twice this way. Whenever there's a Bush involved, money gets flushed down the toilet.

What Poetry Form Are You?

I am heroic couplets; most precise
And fond of order. Planned and structured. Nice.
I know, of course, just what I want; I know,
As well, what I will do to make it so.
This doesn't mean that I attempt to shun
Excitement, entertainment, pleasure, fun;
But they must keep their place, like all the rest;
They might be good, but ordered life is best.

Heroic verse—so stereotypical for an editor! From Nachfolge, via Set Free: Find out what form of poetry you are.

Inspired by my quiz results, I attempted a short poem. Don't boo too loudly!
Fun is much needed, so I say
When medical editing has come my way.
Spring has sprung so fair and so green
That if work I must, I'll need be o'erseen.
The flowers, so fragrant and so bright
Will soon daze you too, am I right?
I am not good at rhyming verse,
So please don't say my name and curse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Update: My Mother Is in the Hospital

I've been trying to talk to my ex-mother-in-law, Kate (who's in the hospital), for three days now, but whenever I've called, she's always just had a procedure that knocked her out or been given pain meds and has just fallen asleep. But today I got to talk to my ex-father-in-law, Don. He's doing well, and he's his usual sweet, joking self. But he didn't have any good news to tell about Kate. He didn't seem to want to go into specifics about her condition, but he said that all four of their "boys" (my ex-husband, their oldest son, is 49) have been in and out to visit, and not all of them live in Upstate New York where Kate and Don do.

My daughter, Becky, and son-in-law, Li, have decided that they'll name their daughter Anastasia Kathleen in Kate's honor, instead of the originally planned Anastasia Diane. Don says he and Kate are very touched by that gesture of love.

It's so hard not being able to head upstate and hug Kate in person. The best I could do was to ask Don to hug her for me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Socially Responsible Investing

The spouster and I are dismayed to learn that Fidelity, through which we have traditional IRAs, is helping to fund genocide in Darfur mainly by being the largest investor on the New York Stock Exchange in PetroChina, the number-one oil producer in China (2006 "social responsibility report" here—13.1 megabytes that make no mention of Sudan or Darfur). The Chinese company funds the Sudanese government's oil exploration, and that government's military is killing the residents of Darfur.

We want to move our IRAs as soon as humanly possible. We're looking at Pax World Funds. Here is how Pax World screens its funds. We've ordered prospectuses, but I'd also be interested in hearing from you if you've dealt with Pax World.

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