#mightyifitkillsme, misc, The Tiniest Capen

Today I…
  • Worked for 6 hours, then left to run errands which I aborted when I got home in the middle of a rainstorm, opting to be useful at home instead. 
  • Did 80% of the needed toy cleanup in G’s room, including all Mystery Piles and Under The Bed. 
  • Played Horse Ride with G with her castle toys, which I expanded to Moose Ride and Bear Ride because I could. 
  • When G asked, I set up painting for her. 
  • Cleaned paint off G and washed brushes with her. 
  • Sorted the pile of mail on the table. 
  • Made dinner for G. (And by “made” I mean “microwaved some chicken, corn, and tater tots. But she’s two. She was thrilled. She ate it all.)
  • Made myself a sandwich. 
  • Washed the few dishes we’d dirtied.
  • Started a load of towels and folded a small load of laundry. 
  • Folded a big load of G laundry, integrated it with the big load Maggie had folded, and put 75% of it away. Because i was interrupted and then I …
  • Diapered and jammied a sleeping kid, because Captain I Don’t Need A Nap passed out at 7, dead to the world, on the couch. 
  • Put a pork roast in the crock pot so it will be pulled pork before morning, for taking to Camp. 
  • Started packing food for camp, and clothes for the family. 

So now I should go work out, but I’m super tempted to just play CivV. I mean, that was a lot of functional adult behavior, right there… I might be done. 

Or maybe I’ll do both. 

misc, working mother

Sunday list

Things I want to do today:

  • Work on a consulting project
  • Take a shower
  • Enjoy my kiddo
  • Make breakfast burritos for the freezer
  • Knit
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Do 3-5 loads of laundry
  • Untangle my jewelry
  • Design a new leather bag
  • Or two
  • Spend some time with Justin

I’m confident I’ll get to the first three… All bets are off as to how far past that we go. 

gratitudejournal, insert emoticon here, misc

Kyle​ and Maggie​ kept my animals alive and happy, cleaned my house, and were super-awesomely-silly when we got home, and problem-solved with me through rolling power outages during the thunderstorm. Best housemates ever. We are going to MISS Maggie.

Then after I sent her to bed with her daddy, I cleaned the evening snack peanut butter art off the Pook’s kitchen tower and counters, sorted my laundry and G’s from our suitcases, found the checkbook and wrote out the two checks that Justin​ and I need to deliver tomorrow, started a load of diapers to wash, put away G’s clean laundry, hung some fly strips because fuck that noise, rearranged my calendar tomorrow to accommodate our ever-evolving schedule, and am tending to my email so tomorrow sucks a little less.

Also, the power came back on so I’m sitting in the cross breeze of two oscillating fans, which has improved my mood considerably.

That was a hell of a travel day today — Justin’s injured, and the Pook is a toddler, and O’Hare is O’Hare, and we aborted our landing and tried again from a second approach because of thunderstorms and then it was a 3 hour drive home — but honestly, I feel capable. I feel like I can handle this. Like my life is controllable and functional. It may be a fleeting feeling when the realities of my everyday existence hammer into me, but for now, I’ll take it. I’m grateful.


I grew up in northern Illinois in the 80s and 90s, and while it wasn’t too unusual that we didn’t go to church, it never occurred to me to say to anyone that I didn’t believe in God. Daughter to a lapsed Catholic and an Episcopalian who’d rejected the whole notion of the church, there was no religion in my world. There was only reverence for nature and compassion, an awareness of the power of people to change the world, and a sense that there’s *something* out there. And so, as a product of my two parents and their two lapsed formal religious upbringings and their lived values… I believe in people. I believe what we do on this earth matters. I believe that we have to value the life we have because it’s the only life we’re guaranteed. I believe we are in control of our choices and our actions. I believe in acting in ways that will lead to a better life, a better world, and a better society. And I do not believe in a monotheistic god, nor do I believe in any supernatural otherness. I am an atheist. Period.

I’ve spent most of my life nervous about saying that out loud, and the place I grew up in didn’t help.  When I was about 19, my cousin got married, and I was a bridesmaid in her Catholic wedding. At the rehearsal, they told us that we’d be offered communion and if we chose to refuse it, to just shake our head and they would pass us by. So I did. The server offered three times before finally leaving me alone, feeling incredibly self-conscious as I stood there, the source of the hold up in the smooth flowing process, saying no in the approved manner and being pestered to do it anyway (while standing in front of a zillion people at the front of a church!). I felt awkward and embarrassed and ashamed, and then I felt mad for feeling those things.

Five years or so later, I went to church with my friend Tim because we were all going to go do some family-type thing afterwards. Tim’s dad was an altarboy with my father years prior at Emmanual Episcopal in Rockford, so he looked at me askance when I slid to the side of the pew to get out of the way during communion. He smiled at me.

“You can go take communion.”
“No, thank you.” I always just said “no thank you”, because I believe in being polite, and really, who wants to stand in a church and say “I’m an atheist, so, no.” Not me. He didn’t give up.
“Everyone’s welcome.” He gestured for me to exit the pew.
“No, thank you. It wouldn’t be appropriate.”
“What? Why not?” Now he’s just confused. But, beliefs aside, I’d read the welcome pamphlet we’d all been handed, which invited all guests who’d been baptized or christened to take communion in this church.
“Because I haven’t been baptized or christened, and so it’s not right for me to take communion.”
“Well. We could fix THAT, too, you know.”

So that was the last time I discussed religion with Don. I didn’t want to get into it — not then and there, and not anywhere, really — that I believe that people’s traditions and rituals have meaning for them, and I respect that, and I wouldn’t want to disrespect them by taking part when I don’t believe. I feel like it belittles  my respect for what others believe and it makes me into a liar.

Also, I’ve never been christened nor baptized, and feel no need to be. So there’s that.

Around the same time another librarian asked me, with absolute seriousness and pure puzzlement, how I could know right from wrong and have a moral code if I didn’t believe in Jesus and didn’t have the bible to tell me what was right. I was so taken aback that my spluttering rage at the absurdity of that question fizzled away, and I answered her question as earnestly as she asked it. We know right from wrong because we’re taught right and wrong, regardless of the framework in which we’re taught those values. “Because that’s what my parents showed me is right” is no less powerful than “Because the bible tells me so.” She struggled to hold onto those ideas. They were so counter to her beliefs… and her beliefs were what I grew up surrounded by.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Maybe I’m writing it down because I finally feel like I can. In his first inaugural address President Obama explicitly acknowledged that there are American citizens who are non-believers, and I cried. And at nearly 40, I don’t feel wary about saying I’m an atheist. Or, not as wary. I still live in a distinctly homogeneous community… but times are changing, attitudes and expectations are changing, and my own self identity is pretty damn solid at this point.

We are all starstuff, I believe in kindness, and your life is now.


insert emoticon here, misc

Flags mean things. Eddie Izzard is funny as shit when he does that bit, but it’s not just funny: It’s true. Flags mean things in our world. They’re symbols and rallying points.

I don’t even know how to frame this, and it feels silly to even write it, because, like, isn’t this obvious? And who am I to decide to write a screed on this? I’m a white woman with a library degree and a lot of anger, that’s who. There’s too much for me to say about racism in America right now, about white complicity via silence, about the feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it, about all the things we have to change and the lack of clarity about how to do that, about the horror that it is to live in this world at this time… and as a white woman I’m not even a victim.

Jon Stewart did a nice job, though.

And then I started researching the current usage of the Confederate flag (because if you’re going to be upset about something, at least know why you’re upset, with some accuracy) and confirmed my belief that it is nothing but an emblem of yearning for a racist past and a desire to recreate a kind of “normal” that I despise. Just as I reject the romanticized 50’s gender roles for women, I reject the idea that the ethics, morals, and culture of the Antebellum South made up a world we should emulate. The argument that the Confederate flag is anything other than a racist emblem holds no water with me. Here’s why.

Per Wikipedia, the swastika “is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism,” but we don’t use it anymore because of the Nazis. We don’t use it in the western world because it calls up memories, images, and emotions related to horrific crimes perpetrated on marginalized people out of intolerance and hate.

Also per Wikipedia, “…a now popular variant of the Confederate flag was rejected as the national flag in 1861. It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee. Despite never having historically represented the CSA as a country nor officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol of the American south.”

And “In Georgia, the Confederate battle flag was reintroduced in 1956, just two years after the Supreme Court decision Brown v Board of Education. It was considered by many to be a protest against school desegregation. It was also raised at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) during protests against integration of schools.”

The entry also quotes a historian who writes, “The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans’ groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.”

So. It is a flag that was never the national flag of the rebels, but instead the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (which fought at many of the major battles of the war, and whose surrender on April 9, 1865 effectively ended the Civil War, ensuring that historically speaking this flag is drenched in blood). It is the flag of a treasonous army that sought to break our country apart, which was resurrected 90 years later by the KKK and Southern Dixiecrats, “a splinter party that opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of possible federal intervention.” Reading that, knowing that, the flag should, like the swastika, call up memories, images, and emotions related to horrific crimes perpetrated on marginalized people out of intolerance and hate. And yet for the last 60 years it’s been publicly claimed that it’s not about racism, no, not at all. It’s a “symbol of Southern culture”. Bo and Luke Duke put it on their car! It celebrates Southern-ness!

People tell me that my dislike of the American South is unfair, that there are lovely, wonderful people there, living in rich, nuanced cultures. I’m sure the people who tell me that are right. Those cultures and people are, I’m certain, living across our country, in all regions, just as there are racists, bigots, and intolerance in all of our communities across our country.

But the Confederate flag originated as a battle flag in a war in which the flags were explicitly designed to empower those “fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race.” It is a flag championed in modern times by the KKK and proponents of segregation, and it now flies with government oversight over the State House in South Carolina.

And it’s not charming. It’s not cute. It’s not a representation, in America, of “Southern values” as meant in a folksy and reminiscent way. Like the swastika is now indelibly linked with the Holocaust despite its origins in eastern faiths, the Confederate flag is indelibly linked to racism. So regardless of whether or not Southern proponents of the Confederate battle flag believe it to be a symbol of a past they cherish… it is a symbol of racism. Of oppression. Of hate. Of violence. Like the swastika. And we must stop letting it be used, holding it up as a symbol of pride. We must not be proud of hatred and oppression.


On the drive home from Burlington today, I was looking for something free to listen to, knowing that Justin would probably fall asleep after his pain management appointment. The Apple Podcast app suggested Lore. I noted that the first one was less than 20 minutes long, and decided to give it a try.

I binge-listened to seven more episodes on the way home. If you have any affection for storytelling, myth, legend, or weird history, I recommend you give this a listen — he covered vampires, werewolves, Things That Live In The Woods, insane asylums, hauntings… and more. He’s got a great voice (figurative and literal), and the bite-size nature of the episodes is a really good fit.

Check it out.


insert emoticon here, misc, The animals, The Tiniest Capen, working mother

Some bullet points for those who wonder.

  • Currently, the specialist ortho says no surgery for Justin — OT and PT instead, with his “best hand therapist”. That starts later this month. We’re hopeful. Fewer knives are better.
  • However, all Agincourt crafting is off for a while, because Justin can’t hold any small tools until this is healed. Which sucks, for him and for the people who would like things made.
  • Last night Gwyn very clearly said “hot” in response to Justin telling her she needed to let her french toast cool a bit before she tried it. I’m also 80% sure she said something very close to “bottle” when I asked if she wanted one.
  • Pets are pets: Miles is super fat but in love with Gwyn in oddly sweet ways, trying to sleep with her whenever possible. Jack wants nothing to do with her, and also hates the new litter, and is peeing on all the things that are not the new litter. Malcolm is our beloved doofus, and we are trying to figure out how to handle his anxiety at being separated from Justin.
  • I am working a lot a lot a lot, probably too much, but I have two major deadlines on May 1, and I need to handle those no matter how much I wish I had more home and down time in my life.
  • My current schedule is doing no favors for my physical issues, but I’m not falling apart, and I’m coping. Today I’m coping with an ergonomic office chair, a large iced coffee, and some excedrin.

Life is good, if a wee crazy.

insert emoticon here, misc

“[I]n order to improve your game you must study the endgame before anything else; for, whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middlegame and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame.” (Emphasis in original.) (Capablanca 1966:19)

I ask my friends this a lot, when they relate stories of kookiness from exes, and bosses, and crazy relatives… because when you hear a story of someone threatening to sue their child’s other parent, or stonewalling a colleague, or generally behaving in on-the-edge and over-the-top ways, I just wonder: What’s their endgame? If their opening is THAT, where, precisely, do they plan to go from there?

Wikipedia surfing led me to chess, today, and that led me to the above quote. And I think it’s relevant to more than chess. Study your endgame before anything else. Know where you’re going, and what you plan to do when you get there, and what you plan to do to affect those traveling with you. Because without knowing those things, your opening and middlegame are just shots in the dark.


I got a reimbursement for travel expenses at the end of last week, and so when Justin casually suggested I should stop at the outlets in Lake George as we drove past them… I pulled a hard right and did.

An hour later…

  • Banana Republic to buy me a sweater, two work tshirts, and a satin-edged camisole.
  • Timberland to buy him a two wool sweaters and a hooded sweatshirt.
  • Gymboree to buy Gwyneth a pair of jammies, two tshirts, and two pairs of soft cotton shorts for summer.
  • Corningware for glass storage containers with lids, a baking dish, and a few mini bread loaf pans.
  • Coleman for gear for our propane stove.

Bye bye, reimbursement check! It was fun!

More than anything, though, it was a good reminder for me of how much we don’t need. Of how much we have. Of the fact that everything we bought was a luxury, because we desired it and could see some way it would improve our quality of life — but not in needful ways, just pleasurable ones.

I’m a lucky woman.

misc, The Tiniest Capen

I was going to write a thing. I was sitting on the couch with Gwyn and I was going to write a thing, about a thing, but the laptop was unreachable and I figured I’d wait until later. Now all I remember is the desire to write about a thing, but not the thing itself. Alas. So I’ll type stream of consciousness, instead.

The last week of work has been sort of torture; returning from leave meant confronting cuts to our permanent full-time staffing (13%), cuts to our student employee budget (5-10%ish), cuts to our operating budget (25%), a half dozen people clamoring that we have two dozen crises, and holy cats, people, give a woman some breathing room. Or don’t. Whatever works for you. So I’ve been assessing these purported crises (some are real), working out contingency budgets, and reorganizing staffing resources, trying to balance compassion, employee fulfillment, and strategic goals. All while getting nowhere near enough sleep, coparenting a 4 month old, and maintaining a home and a marriage. People who decide to have jobs and babies at the same time are fucking nutjobs, man.

Over the weekend we celebrated midsummer by going for a hike at Stone Valley with Malcolm and Gwyn. It was really great. We didn’t go out until late afternoon, 4ish, so the sun was bright but not intense, and it was just a lovely, perfect afternoon. We finished with ice cream for everyone.

I read the first book in a new series the other day (Hounded by Kevin Hearne), I’m 75% through Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, and the final book of the Walker Papers by C. E. Murphy just arrived in my mailbox. I’ve read some great urban fantasy this spring. And I type that, and think of the people who say that after they had babies they stopped reading novels. Either I’m lucky, I’m determined, or I love reading more than the average bear. Or all three. Who knows. But what I do know is that with Kindle, Stanza, and Audible loaded on my iPhone, plus my Amazon preorders, I have managed to read 26 books since Gwyn was born. I read while we’re nursing. I read while I eat breakfast. I read while I pump breastmilk. I read via audio while I do laundry and wash dishes. I read before I fall asleep, and I read when I wake up. Ebooks and audiobooks are my saviors, and make reading into a much more portable and flexible activity than it ever was on paper. I usually read about 100 books per year, so 26 in 4 months is a little behind my average, but hey, I had a baby. Cut me some slack. Anyway, it’s my favorite hobby and has been since I was a wee thing. I refuse to give it up.

Which is also why I spent some time lying on my back on the floor next to Gwyn tonight, holding picture books up over our heads for her to look at while I read. Tonight we read Pinkerton Behave, and A Rose for Pinkerton, two of my favorite Stephen Kellogg books. At least one of those was a gift from my Aunt Betsy, as it’s inscribed to me in her handwriting, from the early 80s. There’s a quiet thrill in being able to pass my own beloved things on to Gwyneth, and an easy joy in re-learning old favorites. And Kellogg is worth re-learning — we also have The Mysterious Tadpole and Liverwurst is Missing, and I need to acquire another copy of Barney Bipple’s Magic Dandelions. And, to my further joy, Gwyn was totally watching me turn the pages and studying the pictures. She’s pretty awesome.

She also has, in the last week, learned to roll over, both ways. She found her thumb tonight, and started sucking it. She can do a perfect upward dog/cobra pose. She’s working on consistently sitting up in a tripod position. She’s cooing and chattering up a storm. She’s super-fussy in the evening, is cluster feeding from 7-9, and she pooped in the bathtub yesterday. Tonight she giggled insanely at me when I played peekaboo with her, and every time I grinned and booped her on the nose. She’s the best.

I dunno. Life’s good. Lots of little waves of good stuff flit across my brain, washing in and out and out and in, and I still have no idea what the thing was that I was going to write about.