In general, I wish old gf/lovers well, but prefer to do it only in the abstract/at a distance. I know ppl, male and female, who regard any exes (from marriage or not) with loathing and sneers. Can't agree with that. I made the choice to date them, be with them, have some sort of relationship with them (be it 1-night or 10-years). If they're evil creatures, that doesn't say much about my judgement. Usually there was a good reason we were together. We might have grown apart, or circumstances have changed, but that doesn't mean it was wrong or bad initially. In general, I'd like know know they are doing well, but only in the vague sense, such as it would be mildly pleasant to accidentally run into a mutual acquaintance who'd kept up with them. There are a few rare ones who fall into the other category, in that I do hope they're miserable. At one point, that was an active wish, now it's more a general, and not very virulent thought; lots of water under that bridge, makes no never mind now. There are also a very few I actively do wish well, and would actually be very glad to know they're doing well. Not actively in the sense of researching to find out, just a general background, really-hope-they're-really-happy. (What brought up these thoughts is thinking about books that one of them had introduced me to. Post about books another time.)
My feelings, in the active sense, really divides women into 2 categories: Nom, and the rest of youse. In the vague, passive sense of thoughts in the back of my mind: see above.
Modern life being what it is, everyone we know works, so we held it Saturday midday. Having small children, midday is much better for socializing than evenings, or even late afternoons, so we made it for 10-2. We also actually invited people by sending around formal, engraved invitations. Well, its modern variant, known as email and text. The basic concept of 'drop by to chat, and have a bit to eat and drink, but not a formally organized party,' was maintained. I must say it worked very well. We're not very sociable people, but we actually had fun, as apparently did all our invitees. We're going to do it again weekly. Well, monthly. Well, sometimes. Who knows, at this rate, we might even end up having a social life.
We've never been very sociable, and generally loathed parties. As I've gotten older, I realize that I disliked most parties for the same reason I dislike the bar scene: there are a large number of people I'm not in the least interested in talking to, because they are not interesting. (So Gentle Reader, you know you've made the cut into a select group.) On the other hand, I'm more and more enjoying the company of a smallish group of people that are actually interesting to talk to. We are gradually building up a circle of friends, and will be having regular, if never frequent, social events.
Between everyone there, we had a total of perhaps 1.25 Scotsmen, but still great fun. Some food (limited what can be eaten on a keto diet; but a small amount of haggis won't ruin the diet). Some chat. Some scotch (just a wee dram… or four). Some poetry - actually my favorite part last night (even if I cheated and recited Dave Van Ronk). There was something fascinating about sitting in a cozy living room, reading poetry from 2-1/2 centuries ago, with people of 3 (4?) generations. The dark, warm, comfy feeling of being immersed in a warm, slow river of history.
He was with me in the car, taking him home, and I had visions of getting stopped by the police. Not that I seriously expected to get stopped, just a random paranoid fantasy about having to explain to the nice police officer man about why I had him in my car. I mean why I had it in the car.
I think I need to back up a bit.
Have always wanted a skull - well, actually, would like entire skeleton or three, but that would be too costly. Father of a friend (someone I was a Resident with) is a retired Anatomy Professor, downsized his home, including selling off some of his collection, and I’d thought I’d buy a skull. The Professor, quite prominent in his day (I googled his name and research, and got over 2-million hits, which puts him up there with the better porn sites), acquired it from India in the 1960's when "developing" nations such as India and China were quite happy to sell excess bones. He had two for sale, one a nicely bleached white, the other a mellow aged yellowish.
Discussed with friends and family, and the consensus was to go with the more aged-looking one. If I lived in Nevada (as some family and Gentle Readers do), the bleached white might have gone well with the desert theme, but the yellow goes more with the theme of "I live in the cold dark North and have delusions of being a wizard." Equally important, the yellowish color also makes it look like someone who had an interesting life... interesting death also. (Line from Dresden Files - TV show, not books.)
As to the name, was thinking of either Bob (again from Dresden Files) or Yorick (Hamlet - stage play, not TV show). For now going with Bob, since if I'm going with the "I think I'm a wizard" theme, then that goes better. Really, being a Dermatologist is just like being a wizard, except for the white coat instead of black robes, and, uh, yeah, I actually don't do any magic. (Although I confess that when patients insist on "natural" treatment, I sometimes claim I only do supernatural treatments. They don't seem to believe me.)
There was an additional consensus that it will be kept at my office, not my house. “Consensus” here being defined as what was decreed by higher headquarters (my wonderful and sensible wife). I must say, he looks quite fine sitting here on my desk in the back room of my office smiling benignly as I type this.
( Wednesday )
( Thursday )
( Friday )
( Saturday )
( Sunday/Monday )
( Random Thoughts/Comments )
All that having been said, we have been promising ourselves we would start socializing when things were more settled. That probably won't really be until the kids are off to university/the Army, but as far as moving and renovating, we're as "there" as we're going to get. There are a few couples we had mentally marked down as prospects. They have young children, and we want our kids to have friends (unlike ourselves at that age). Mostly they are mixed race couples like us. Mostly they are professionals and/or academics. Oh my, I think we have a "type;" I'm turning into the people I always didn't want to be. An odd part of that is since we became parents at a later age, if our "type" becomes a "set," we will be the (hopefully wise) older couple in it.
Anyhow, we finally bit the bullet and invited another family over for brunch. The daughter is a little younger than Normandie and met in science class. Both parents are in medical research. We invited them over, and had lox-and-bagels and imperial-rolls and croissants. Yup, both ethnicities, as well as franco-cultural milieu. Actually had a good time. They were just getting over colds, and initially everyone planned on "an hour-ish," but ended up a few hours. I suppose easier when much of that is riding herd on the kids and making sure they don't kill themselves (or each other). It took a little while for the two little girls to get into being together, but at some point they were actually playing together as much as 4-year-olds play with each other, rather than parallel play. Something I found interesting and comforting, was that all 4 parents automatically watched out for all 3 children. At one point I had to put something away (in the car or garage). Wallstreet decided to walk on top of a retaining wall, and the other father automatically went over to make sure he didn't fall. It's a little thing, but not really part of my experience.
We have a few more couples in mind to get together with. First just each couple in turn, then if things work out, might even invite 2-3 families at once. We might actually be sociable beings!
The US Gov't celebrates to varying degrees of actually-caring-about-it (mostly not) various ethnicities and other identities. Of course once you have an XXX day, week, or month, then XXX1 wants one, as does XXX2, as does, well everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame (or as it might be day, week, or month). These "observances" get posted in gov't offices and institutions, including military ones.
In my 2nd-to-last Commnand, my CSM (Command Sergeant Major), who became a close friend, was part Scottish, and did play the bagpipes. (He has been mentionned in my blog initially as CSM, then when he retired, as Pipes-Major.) One day, several months before his retirement, we were at our HHQ (Higher Headquarters) for something, and noticed signs up about Israeli Day and Scottish Week (or maybe Israeli Week and Scottish Day, I forget). I laughed and said as a joke, "Hey, that could be for us, we can show up dressed in kilts and yalmulkes." He looked at me and said, serious, "I have an Army kilt. All the services have their tartans. They can be worn with the dress uniform in the Commander allows it."
That started the ball rolling. My fantastical side couldn't resist, especially looking towards his retirement ceremony. Another friend, recently retired from the Army, who is also part Scottish, got involved. (He doesn't play the bagpipes. He plays the bugle. His neighbors love that on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. At my retirement, the two of them played their respective instruments (or is that "instruments") which was a hoot and very satisfying.) The three of us basically egged each other on to get kilts (well, the 2 of us who didn't yet have one) and show up at CSM's retirement party so clad. (The icon is from that party.) Other than initially freaking out my general (who thought I'd taken up cross-dressing), it was a rousing success.
Since then, have worn the kilt only rarely, but do like to when occasion presents.
Unfortunately, went solo, as Nom was feeling under the weather, and we weren't sure about bringing the kids. Next year though, we're going en famille.
It was a chance to socialize, which I don't do often, a chance to drink Scotch, which I don't do often enough, and a chance to wear my kilt, which I don't more than about once/year. Met some nice people. Also met a nice Scotch last night, called Edradour. Supposedly the smallest distillery in Scotland. Nice, slightly smokey taste.
Found out an interesting fact. Seems Robbie Burns was actually Jewish. Before revisionist historians anglicized (scotized?) the name, he was really Rabbi Bernstein, and later in life owned a deli, where the sandwiches were so generous, you could actually see the pastrami coming thru the rye.
Mar sin leat, Gentle Readers
*Last Call by Dave Van Ronk
The first is talking with someone I knew from the Army. He is a full-time Reservist (called an AGR), I first knew as a Captain when he was my Adjutant (= S1 = Personnel & Admin Officer) when I Commanded a CSH (Combat Support Hospital - like a MASH, but bigger). He's now a Colonel himself, in charge of major training site (I'd trained there more than once). It was not a very happy call, in that I'd heard 3rd hand that he'd recently lost his wife of 32 years (cancer, spread quickly) and was calling to offer my condolences. We chatted for a while, and he was mentioning getting ready for 3 CSHs moving into his training site for their summer training. I was thinking, "yeah, I understand what that involves (huge planning & paperwork for those personnel and logistics) and am so glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.
The second is a book I'm reading, Christie Blatchford's Fifteen Days about her time as a reporter embedded with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan a few years ago. I'm only so-so enjoying it. Basically war stories, I suppose good insight if you've never been there. Again, the feeling of "glad it's not me anymore." Not the getting shot at part (although not a big fan of people trying to kill me), but the moving into, and staying in, some godforsaken, dusty patch of barely habitable real estate and calling it home for the day/week/month. Nope, glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.
I did my time doing those things. Didn't mind them at the time, proud of it, very glad to have done it, but have done enough of it, and getting too long in the tooth to want to do more.
Had wanted to go down to NYC earlier, when ravensron was visiting, but as mentioned, the MIL was ill for months (all better now, thanks), and I was neither going to go alone (I've become a total homebody, in case that wasn't obvious by now), nor were Nom & I going to wrangle 2 tiny ones down to, and around, NYC w/o backup. In the end, 6 people across 3 generations went. With all the spending on renovations and such, had enough travel miles for almost everyone (Wallstreet is a lap child, so almost no cost, and I paid for my ticket but is tax-deductible.)
We've taken to getting to the airport well-early (like 2+ hours before), and with 6 people holding 5 seats on 3 different bookings, I don't even pretend to use their silly kiosks, I go straight to the "I need help" counter regardless of their regulations. Oddly enough, the kids, fussy as they are, are fine on airplanes. They're practically seasoned travelers at this point. In fact, we were essentially free of travel-kerfuffles as such. The only real negatives was the MIL was just recovering from a cold, and Hedgefund seemed to have caught it, and the kids were a little feeling "why am I not at home," so everyone was restless and didn't sleep well. Had fun, but a fair amount of illness and tiredness, with commensurate lack of energy.
Got into the hotel (stayed at the conference hotel in midtown) too late to do anything except bed down. Each morning I got up early, went to the conference while everyone else breakfasted and relaxed and strolled around, then I joined them for lunch.
It was Restaurant Week in NYC, and we'd booked some good lunches, but didn't always follow through in the end. For good restaurants, we ate at Capital Grill and Ruth's Chris. Both are chains (steakhouses as it happens), but high end chains, and their NY outlets are especially lovely and very good food. Although the in-laws don't always have the most elevated tastes, they do appreciate when we take them some place with standard food done very well, and with lovely decore. At their age, after all they've been thru in life, I'm glad they are getting some enjoyment.
Did a few "NY things" of course. However, for the kids, the highlight was WWC bringing two kittens up to the hotel room for them to play with. HF always liked cats (since WWC introduced her to same), but she especially loved kittens, what with their being tiny. She use to be afraid of animals, especially dogs, but after enough times of my telling her, "we eat dogs, yum, yum, yum," now she usually just gives me a knowing smile when she sees a dog. It unsettles people when they hear me tell her that, but it worked, she's not scared anymore. WS has gotten a bit afraid of animals, he's so tiny yet, and also not verbally-oriented enough yet to understand about eating dogs, but I'll work on him.
Was hoping to get together with more friends and family, but didn't work out, except for one of my Army buddies who joined us for dinner, and then he & I had some drinks afterwards. Everyone else either couldn't make it, or just didn't respond when I emailed.
Have to see one show in NY. Ended up at an off-broadway piece called The Marvelous Wonderettes. Described to us as "campy fun." It was neither. It's basically a thin story of 4 girls who have formed a local singing group, woven around a review of 1950's and 1960's songs. The 1st act is their performing at their HS graduation, and the 2nd is their performing at the 10 year reunion. They were trying to be to 1950/60's pop music what Mama Mia was to Abba, but failed miserably.
For museums, went to NY Historical Society. They had several exhibits WWC & I wanted to see:
The first was about WWI. They had historical reenactors in WWI uniforms in the lobby. It was a good exhibit. A bit grim (hard to be otherwise about WWI) and a bit preachy/politically correct at times, but worth seeing.
There was a really nice exhibit of Tiffany lamps. They were from a private collection, someone who'd started collecting them when they first stopped being stylish (1920's) and amassed over 200. I love Tiffany's works, but I've seen so many of them by now that's it less striking to me.
Eloise at the Plaza was featured. I hadn't realized that it had started as a comic cabaret act, and the book came later. Brief but enjoyable.
The last exhibit was one WWC really wanted to see, called Saving Washington. It was supposed to be about the contributions of women to the US Revolutionary War and the early days of the Republic, but actually rather thin except for the parts about Dolly Madison. (Wife of 4th President James Madison, the first person to make "First Lady" a notable position, and the ultimate Hostess-who-advanced-and-agenda.)
Overall, NYHS was worth the visit, but not as fullfilling as hoped for.
Last touristy thing we did was the Circle Line Cruise. It's a cruise/tour boat that circles Manhattan Island, while giving a commentary on what you are seeing. I'd always wanted to do it, but never had. WWC had done that in 4th grade, which is a good age to do it, or if you're from out-of-town. It's ideal then, before you've seen all the sites 100's of times and know them better than the tour guides. The bambini were too young to enjoy it, and not sure how the in-laws reacted. I'm glad I finally got to do it, even if not OMG-exciting.
That last sentence seems to sum up this trip from a vacation point-of-view. (Great from a medical conference POV.) We're glad we did it. Everyone had a good time (except for the sick and tired parts) and saw/did some new things. Not awe-inspiriing, but worth doing.
They drove up Saturday, did some stuff during the day while I was at the conference, then met us for dinner at Gibby's, a steak house (well, lots of different foods) that's in an historical building. Great atmostphere, great food, great company.
The next morning we had brunch at Spanel, our fav crepe place that I've mentioned before. Nom and MIL took the kids to the park, while Bob & family & I went to the Chagall exhibit (see post a bit ago). Nom didn't have much interest in going, Bob and I really enjoyed it, and his family at least tolerated it After that, we went for a walk up Mt Royal. Despite Montrealers pride in it, it's really more of a large hill, formed by a (we hope extinct) volcano. First we went to the tamtamjam, then hiked up the mountain. Due to my poor land navigation skills, we spent more time going up than we should have, and due to my lack of exercise these days, my calves were sore for days afterwards. When we move, I swear I'm going to start exercising regularly again.
It was good seeing them. Would be nice to get together semi-regularly, but we live relatively far apart, and don't have any reasons to be in the same area anymore. We'll see what happens, but I suppose there's a lot of that in life. More in active duty military, but a fair amount in the reserves when you've gotten up to a higher level.
(It's been quite a while since I've posted. I hate when real life interferes with blogging. We resume with an adventure in cultural elitism.)
Last weekend while my friends were here*, we want to the Chagall exhibit at MBAM (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal). It was somewhat multimedia, with both his paintings and scupture and costumes (for ballet and theater), with a background of klezmer music playing. I loved it. Chagall had never really done much for me. He seemed to be a little weird for the sake of being weird. This time it really spoke to me. I appreciated the surreal, fantastical nature of his art and what it was saying. I think the fantastical work appealed to my fantastical side. I don't know if the fantastical is something in my (ethnically) Jewish side. As I've mentioned before, I'm not even slightly religious, and even much of the ethnic aspects tick me off, but there is some self-identity / cultural thread of it running through me. There's an odd, apparently contradictory mix of the highly logical and the fantastical. In me, it's not so much that they alternate; both are always present at all times. (BTW, both can tick people off. Am thinking of printing up a t-shirt: "Jews, pissing you off for 5777 years") I'm really glad I went. I got an new appreciation for Chagall, and for myself.
MBAM has gotten much better over the years. When I was first here, many of the exhibits almost seemed like they were just displaying posters and prints of exhibits from better museums. Now they are really first rate: good works of art, well presented. Also, I think I've gotten more true appreciation for art in the past several years. I always did go to museums, but part (only part) of that was "I'm the sort of person who is supposed to enjoy museums, so I'm going to go." The last several exhibits I've been to I really enjoyed.
*The cliché is that it's the wife wants to go to the cultural activities and drags the husband, especially someone as conservative as my friend: retired after 30 years Army Reserve, still State Trooper, thinks the John Birch Society is too liberal. As it turns out, he's the one who drags the family to the cultural events. Another cliché shot to hell.
The irony is palpable. The other morning had coffee with my friend who moved to Norway. (No, I didn't have coffee in Norway, she was back in town; doesn't entirely trust the doctors in Norway.) She had on a lovely watch, which I complemented her on, then mentionned that despite being raised in the 19th century, like many people today I used my cell phone as for timekeeping. It was also my highly flexible communications center, in that could phone, text, and email from it. (Highly relevant just then, as got a text from Evil Secretary saying the email was not working at the office (since fixed).) She admitted to the good functionality of it, but pointed out that the watch was on her wrist, whereas I risked leaving the phone somewhere.
Then went food shopping with the family, then went to teach. I put said phone on the podium so I could keep track of time. And left it there when I went back to my office. *Sigh.* (Addendum: emailed the admin at the Dean's office who went down and found it for me. Picked it up later that day, exclaiming, "my precious, my precious.")
BTW, part of why I no longer wear a wrist watch is that I find them uncomfortable, especially in summer when I'm sweaty. I also tend to always manage to snag it on things. You'd think I'd just wear a pocket watch (like we always used to in the 19th century). However, I don't wear a vest every day, and pants no longer have fob pockets. Well, most pants. The only pants that usually do have such a high-end elegant feature, are (one more minor bit of irony) jeans, the lowest-end, least elegant type of pants.
A conspiracy to taste scotch! Had the latest instalment of my twice yearly scotch tasting at the new house. Unfinished and unmovedinto rather than truly abandoned. Was putting it off from the usual moreorless solstice event because wanted to do it by firelight, but couldn't manage that one. (Going to be gas fireplaces, but still not connected. Gas utility blames the plumber, plumber blames the gas utility.)
People brought chairs (tables courtesy of its being a construction site), munchies, and of course scotch. The tradition for the winter solstice event is to bring partly empty bottles to kill off with the dying of the year. (You have your year-end symbolism, I have mine.) Not strict about this, fresh bottles are accepted too. Since missed the (approximate) solstice, went with (approximate) mid-winter day. (Most ppl take that to mean the same thing as solstice, but I use it more literally as being the middle of winter: half way between the solstice and equinox.) Also felt the menfolk needed something to help recover from the stress of Valentine's Day.
Regardless of the date and source of illumination, a good and inebriated time was had by all. Nice munchies, interesting environment, wonderful scotch, splendid company. The surprise star was Amrut, a single malt made in India.
do dheagh shlàinte
After that, got home just in time to go out again. It was Burns Night, and needed to go sip some scotch and listen to poetry. Nom was feeling a bit under the weather, and her parents were also so they couldn't babysit, so I went solo. After the silliness at the interviews, I got home too late to even change into my kilt, much to my (and other folks) disappointment. My friends don't have that much room, so the party has always been at his father's house. A sad note for the evening was that the old gentleman had died less than a month before. He was the one who always ordered the haggis and made the scotch broth. He had ordered the haggis just before he passed, but in his honor, we specifically did NOT have scotch broth. He was a retired Professor of Biochemistry, and I always enjoyed talking to him. Despite that, people enjoyed themselves, including me, who generally hates parties, although I didn't stay late, feeling guilty about leaving Nom alone with the kids all day.
( Intro )
( Conference itself )
Tomorrow: places to go, people to see, things to do.