Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Down under again

We arrived in Melbourne again, with the same eight bags and three backpacks we've been hauling around the world since the end of July. This time there were no flight delays or baggage issues, which meant we had to haul all eight of them from the airport.

A wall of luggage belonging to us.

We didn't really have many problems with the hauling until we took the taxi from the train station. The driver got creative on how to fit them all into the small car along with the three of us.

The weather was gorgeous, sunny and a pleasant 25 degrees celsius. I once confided to an English Sunday school class that I was sure that in heaven, the temperature would hover around 25 degrees celsius. That's 77 degrees fahrenheit, by the way.

We checked into our house. We will be living here for the next two months, until we find more permanent rental. It is located just on the edge of the university, and is university owned. That kind of explains the decor. But it seems nice. Actually, Jonathan was a little upset with us for choosing the cheaper university option instead of the AirB&B house we stayed in during August. He was whining right up until he started exploring the place. As I let him out to explore the back garden, he said, "Wow! This place is like a mansion!"

"Like a mansion?" asked Tim, in his skeptical voice.

"Well, at least compared to our last place," Jonathan replied.

Like a mansion, friends. Because it has three large bedrooms, living room, laundry, and a huge back yard.

House tour photos:
Front entrance.
Living room.
Bathroom. Toilet is in its own separate room.
Oh, the shower in the bathroom is awesome, by the way. After many months of low flow, dribbly shower taps, the shower head in this apartment is heaven. It's like a mansion.
Laundry. Separate from the bathroom.
Kind of weird that the dryer is hanging upside-down from the ceiling, with nothing under it. But hey, it has a dryer! That will be nice for cleaning the towels. Also, this isn't really relevant to the current photo, but included in our rental cost is a bi-weekly cleaning service. Super awesome, right? Carrying on:
Kitchen. With dishwasher, but buy your own detergent. (Put that on the list.)
The three bedrooms are on one end of the house, the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and laundry are on the other end.
Bedroom 2. This one won't be used much unless we have guests, then Jonathan gets it.
Bedroom 3. Jonathan chose the one with two beds for everyday living.
Bedroom 1, for Tim and me.
Another view of bedroom 1, with the largest workspace.
Because the largest desk area is in Bedroom 1, Tim will probably work there during the day. And then sleep there at night. Luckily it's just for a couple of months at the most, or Tim would probably get very tired of that room....
Spacious back garden and separate garage.
There you go. Like a mansion.

There is no air conditioning in our mansion. That is not a problem when the temperature is a heavenly 25 degrees. We left all the windows open overnight (there are screens). Fresh summer air drifted in and out and around our jet-lagged mostly-sleeping forms all night long. And then early in the morning, we were serenaded by a pair of Australian magpies, which warble and trill and whistle several notes at once. (They do not squawk like North American magpies. Ask google about it.) What a lovely way to begin our first full day in Australia!

The high today is supposed to be 27 degrees celsius. Tomorrow, however, it is predicted to be 36, and then Thursday it will be 39. Those convert to 80, 97, and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. By Friday it should be back in the 80s again, but with no air conditioning, we'd better be away on Thursday. Thursday is New Year's Eve. I think we'll go hang out at the beach. And then fireworks in the park! So happy to be here.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A few updates

I'm behind on writing Life Events. And the other random things I think about writing make less sense without the Life Events in the background, so I guess we'd better get caught up.

First, we moved away from New Jersey, possibly forever. The state gave us a very lovely send-off, though. The weather was truly lovely up until the day we departed, with highs in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit. That's quite warm, and very unusual for that part of the world.

I took these pictures the day before we departed, after dropping Jonathan off at the bus stop for the last time. The leaves were all gone from the woods, but the fog made it pretty.

Will Jonathan miss school in New Jersey? Maybe. But he wasn't too disappointed to leave school a week before everyone else, missing several tests scheduled for Friday. Now he's heading into the summer holidays for a month.

From New Jersey, we headed to Utah, for Fabulous Family Time! (And a weekend work conference for me.)

Our first day in Utah, we ran errands, like dentist and haircuts. Jonathan lost 2 inches of hair. I chopped off 4. And Tim chopped off 12 inches! Here is the before picture:

And I haven't yet taken an after picture. But it looks different. Trust me.

And since then, we have filled the days mostly with dear people. On Thursday, we went to lunch with my dear friend Norma, and dinner with my dear aunt Janice and her two granddaughters. On Friday we visited Tim's grandfather, and went to lunch with his mother and dinner with his papa Don. Saturday was my conference, followed by dinner with my in-laws and cousin, and then a family party with aunts and uncles. And Sunday we saw Tim's cousin and family, and my sister and her family.

Kind of becoming a blur of people, isn't it?

Monday we went sledding and built a snowman in the school yard just behind my parents' house.

That evening, I scored a free ticket to Star Wars from my brother-in-law, who had extras from his work party. My sisters and sisters-in-law all ditched their children and saw the movie together.

Tuesday morning we went ice skating with cousins, at a nearly empty rink (aside from the gazillion-of-us cousins). After another full day of cousins, we drove to eat dinner and play games with dear friends further south. And then Wednesday we visited my high school friend Alison, who was also our friend in grad school, followed by basketball at the neighborhood church, and then a family photo with 36 people! For Jonathan, Tim, and I, it was our first family photo for years. I will post a copy as soon as I own one legally. And then dinner and games with my cousins further south, visiting my aunt near the house we just sold.

Are we done yet?


Thursday at Tim's parents' house, seeing his cousin and grandfather and aunt and uncle one more time, sharing dinner, opening presents. Friday at my parents' house, seeing my brothers and sisters and their children one more time, opening presents.

White Christmas! My dad had to shovel the walk. I don't have to shovel snow anymore. Maybe ever.

Ok. Now I think we are caught up. Tomorrow we fly to Australia to start life all over again.

I guess there is one more question that has to be asked.

Will we miss it? Will we miss all this?

Well, this type of crazy week only happens every few years after careful planning. We will make sure that we don't miss it the next time all our family and friends conspire to be in the same place over Christmas.

Will we miss the snow?

No. Summertime for New Year's Eve! We're looking forward to it!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Less than a week until we move from New Jersey.

Jonathan has been carrying around a form for each of his teachers to sign, and to report his current grades so far. Those grades won't matter. They won't transfer. He won't transfer. He gets six weeks of summer holidays followed by beginning a completely new school year in February.

I have a checklist in my office of things I need to do. In addition to updating addresses, and checking out of the apartment, I need to write a final report, describing the work I have done while here. I need to give copies of papers I have written to the staff. I have worked on several papers, but none have been written, start to finish. Two are very close. Maybe I'll send them along at the beginning of January.

And Tim is spending some of his last days on the east coast visiting his company's office in Boston. With less than a week before we move, he is away for business. Of course, last weekend I was also away. I went back to G.O.D. University for my student's dissertation defense. He passed, by the way. I feel so proud. My very first student. *Sniff*

It will be a while before we are settled again. We'll spend ten hectic days with family in winter, followed by a flight to Australia. We then need to go house hunting as soon as possible -- our temporary housing has no air conditioning, in the middle of the summer, and it is expected to be a hot summer.

A big change leads to many big questions. Where will we live? Will we need a car? How long will it take to commute to school and work? And, what will Jonathan do the entire month of January?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Post-Holiday Blues

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- one of the best ever. My brother Nathan and his wife Michele came, along with their little guy.

We ate food,
read books,
went on long walks,
and threw frisbees and footballs and basketballs in the warmer weather.

We built a fire in the fireplace in our apartment.
We played games, stayed up late, woke up early (baby in the house), and had a very truly lovely holiday.

This morning, Nathan and Michele packed up. They took leftover food. They took the picture books. They took the board games. And they took the little guy.

And now we are sitting around feeling sad about going back to work tomorrow, and leaving here soon. And moving and changing.

No fair. I want to start the holiday over again.

Monday, November 23, 2015


We are approaching the end of the month of November, and I realize I haven't written much recently. That isn't because there isn't anything to write about. It's partly because I've chosen not to write until my life and my head have been calmer.

The last time I posted, I had just bruised my arm badly. That bruise has been taking its time to heal. It isn't healed. But it's been so colorful that I've been taking regular pictures of its progress, though. Unfortunately, the phone camera by the mirror trick doesn't work so well at capturing all the rainbow shades of bruises. But here is what the evolution of a bruise looks like, anyway.
Nov 7
Nov 9
Nov 12
Nov 15
Nov 18
Nov 19
It isn't quite as puffy anymore, although the colors are still spectacular. It didn't really hurt at first, but as the weeks have passed, I've noticed it more when I lean on the arm the wrong way. A couple of times it has ached at night. It was a worse injury than I initially expected.

The original post with the original bruise picture was actually a post about religion, and about going back even when it hurts. I have decided that this bruise analogy was really a very very good one. As a few weeks have passed since the religious event that bruised me badly, my feelings about that event have evolved. Some days it didn't hurt as much. Some days it hurt a lot. In all, I think the damage done to my religious observance was actually worse than I expected, like the bruise. It hurts. A couple of nights I have awakened aching. It's still shades of purple. But I can see that I am healing. Still, I cannot see things the same as before the bruising.

For the eight years I was working at G.O.D. University, I felt afraid to speak up about anything related to my religion. It would be so easy for Them to take away my job if they knew how I felt. I am still affiliated with G.O.D. University, at least until my PhD student defends his thesis and I drain some more money out of my US grant. But now that I don't work there anymore, I have more flexibility to say something when I am hurt, although I have many of the same fears.

At the encouragement of a brave friend, I finally wrote a message to my local bishop stating how I felt about the new policy. How it broke my heart. How it strained my mental capacity to believe. And how it hurt real friends of mine, people directly affected. My bishop met with me today and wept, and told me how my letter articulated some of the things he had been feeling himself. He had shared it, without my name, with the stake presidency, the local leaders one step above him, and he says they read it carefully, and it touched them. And they referred to it at least three times in a leadership meeting he attended this week.

In a church with lay clergy, you play leadership roulette. You never know what your local bishop will say or do in a difficult situation like this one (which is one of the main reasons I left G.O.D. University, by the way). But this man told me, with tears, of how he spent hours on the phone after the policy broke, speaking to his friends directly affected, and how he could see that so many people were hurting.

And yet apparently mine was the only letter. He thanked me for it, because he was able to share it, and use it explain. And he said it did make a difference, in spite of my fears. When I wrote the letter, I expected it to be received with outward kindness, because good people are kind. I expected maybe to feel some closure.

I did not expect the bishop to weep.

In the last three weeks, as I've thought about religion and my relationship with my church, and whether or not I wanted to stay, to continue to participate, I've been thinking mostly about people. I don't believe my church has a monopoly on goodness, and I no longer believe their exclusivity claims. But I do know that there are many amazing people in this religion, people I aspire to be like. These include several people who think deeply and laugh deeply in Melbourne, where we are moving, who are already good friends and with whom I expect to become even better friends. I don't want to give those people up. And apparently these good people also include my local bishop in New Jersey.

So what do we do now? When a policy is wrong, but the religion is good, and the people within it are great? We wait, and we hope, and we pray that it doesn't take long for the policy to change. And, apparently, we act when our conscience tells us to act, and speak when the heart and mind tell us to speak. And we wait upon the Lord.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

This post is actually about religion

Today I have a big bruise on my elbow. Really big. Bright turquoise blue and puffy. And yeah, it hurts.

I got this bruise while ice skating. I was trying to skate backwards on one foot, and somehow that foot slipped out from under me. As I was falling, I thought, "Oh no, not again!" I was pretty sure this fall would be bad, and would really screw up my back. But luckily, possibly because of some sort of latent feline abilities I didn't realize I had, I landed on my hip, not my back, and apparently, the elbow. It hurts, and the bruise is huge and purple, but the fall didn't screw up my back.

The fall from a little while ago was much worse. I was trying to spin from forward to backward on one foot, on the inside edge of the skate, and I fell badly. I slipped, and I landed hard on the base of my spine. The night afterwards, I had shooting tingling in my toes, and since then, a mild return of the sciatica I suffered from ten years ago. The back pain has been healing; there are no more shooting tinglings in the toes, but I still haven't completely recovered. I can't sit for more than an hour. I can't lunge. Back pain is in my genes. I will probably need to manage it most of my life. The bad fall while ice skating made it worse, at least temporarily.

Why am I still skating after that bad fall, you ask? Well, there were a few days where I thought I couldn't go back to it. I wouldn't go back to it. Falling like that could really mess up my life. But when I thought harder, I decided that I wanted to go back. I really enjoy the exercise. It is a challenge, for my body and my mind. It is building muscles and brains that I wouldn't build otherwise, even though there is the falling. The falling is an infrequent part, although it definitely lasts the longest, and dominates the experience off the ice. On the ice, there is mostly just flying.

Also, ice skating is important for my child. He loves skating. He wants someone to share that with. And if he keeps loving it, and keeps working at it, I'm more than happy to take the role of the crazy side-kick in on the ice with him. He falls, too. But he is willing to take the falls, also for the flying.

So yeah, still skating. I am taking more care. I warm up slowly, do the spins on two feet first. I can protect myself a little from further pain by using that brain and those muscles. And apparently it's working, because yesterday's fall, while it hurt a lot, didn't completely wipe me out again. I'm ready to go back today, to do a little more flying. 


In June 2014 I took a pretty terrible "fall" because of my religion. My religion did something that seemed (seems) inexcusable. And I landed where it really hurt, and did serious damage. Rather than a night of shooting pain in my toes, I experienced several sleepless nights, shooting pains in the brain, leading to serious life changes that I do not regret. I cannot regret.

I didn't resolve to leave the religion at that time, but I considered it. I became aware of how very fallible religious leaders could be.

But I went back to church. Why? Because I think religion in the abstract is good for my body and my mind. Because it is good for my family. Because I want my son to grapple with hard questions about morality and right and wrong. And I want to be there when he grapples and to let him know my opinions when he asks. I want him to know that I have opinions. And my opinions don't look like those of his teachers or friends, or like your opinions, whoever you are, reading. And my opinions don't look like my son's opinions, either. But I'll continue to encourage him to find his own opinions, as long as he keeps working at it. And I'm happy to play the role of side-kick, for now. And do my own flying as well.

Last night, I fell again. My religion has put me through another painful "fall". This one seems to have battered others who are close to me more than it has battered me. I guess I only landed on my elbow this time. The bruise is big, but it hasn't screwed up my back as badly as I thought it might. I was aware when I chose to go back two Junes ago of what the consequences would be. That there would be more pain, and more bad falls. But until my back won't let me go, I'll be on the ice again. I already decided to return, even after the spinal injury. If I can stick out the spinal injury, I can withstand the bruised hip and elbow.

That being said, I have put in place safeguards. My heart is more guarded. I will not let others tell me again that they alone hold the keys to my eternity, or your eternity, while they coerce me into actions that I know are wrong. That is abuse, and I don't tolerate abuse, and I don't serve a god who tolerates abuse. And I will tell that to those who abuse and those being abused. And actually, the leaders have already lost my trust. Perhaps that's why it was only a bruise on the elbow this time. I do inside-turns more carefully. I go back, and I learn, and I serve. But trust, once lost, is not easily given again.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A thinky post

I taught Jonathan how to play War with playing cards today. We were trying rummy first, but that apparently had too many rules for a holiday in celebration of sugar, and there was a little too much excitement running around the house and attacking the family members.

"Can't we just play the rules?" begged dad. So when the round ended, and dad gave up and started making dinner, I taught Jonathan the classic two player card game. I taught him to play War.

Flip two cards. Highest card takes both. 

He wins.

He wins.

I win.

He wins. 

It's such an inane game that it needs a soundtrack, so I began singing lines from remembered Halloween songs of my childhood.

"If you're all alone in the country, and you're hiding in a ditch / just be bold, 'cause you've been told / there's no such thing as a witch..."

"Said one little ghost to another little ghost / a-haunting we will go..."

"How can that be a song?" asked dad. "That sounds like a fake song that someone made up. Where did you learn a song like that?"

Probably from my mother. My mother was once an elementary school teacher. She has a portfolio of corny songs for every holiday, including pseudo-holidays like George Washington's birthday and St Patrick's day.

And as we played War, the rhythm of the game made Jonathan sing.

"I win."

"I win."

"You win."

"I win."

So dad turned on his own music in the kitchen, Halloween noises. Screaming and creaking and noise.

"I win."

"I win."

"You win."


"Said two little ghosts to another little ghost / oh come and join the fun..."

I win.

You win.

I win.

I win.

Jonathan won.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Aging out of Halloween

In late October, I'm supposed to do a Halloween post, where I show you all our awesome decorations and my child's cute costume. Thanks to a care package from Grandma, we do have a few decorations. There are three paper bats in various places around the living room, and some Halloween stickers on the window. It is Festive! (Thank you, Grandma!)

But alas, Reader, there is no costume photo this year. Jonathan refuses to go trick-or-treating.

What? You say. But there is free candy!?

Yes, Reader. Yes, I know.

Jonathan has decided that now that he is in middle school, he is too old for free candy.


Reader, he is only 11. No one will be upset by an 11-year-old asking for candy. No one. And yet he will not go. And as a responsible parent, I must pick my battles. Do I fight this, or save my parental wrath for the bathroom cleaning?

I don't know, Reader. I honestly don't know. Because I can clean the bathroom for him. But the neighbors won't give me candy if I go trick-or-treating. And this would be our last year of it anyway, since Halloween is not a big deal in Australia. (My American friend told me that last year, she stopped costume-wearing people on the street and told them that she liked Halloween, too. And please come visit her house to take candy! And they did not come.)

Sighs and sadness. It is the end of an era. The era in which the parents tackle the returning trick-or-treater and take all the Butterfingers and Starbursts and hide them. From now on, we only get what we buy at the grocery store. Woe and sadness and woe.

Since there is not much candy in our future, I will show you instead some photos.
Reader, it is autumn.

They really do autumn really well in this part of the world. The leaves are spectacular! Magnificent! That first photo above was just the parking lot of an ice skating rink off the highway. And it is not in any way color-enhanced.

The woods are turning colors all at once. Orange and yellow and red. This was my walk home from church on Sunday.

And this.

And this.
Then Tuesday morning, Tim and I went for a long walk beside the canal. And everything was yellow and orange and it looked like this.

Only brighter and longer -- for over an hour of walking.

It is more than I expected, Reader. I had been told that autumn was beautiful, but all at once? For weeks at a time? Red and orange and yellow and green and gray? It is more than I hoped for. It is truly beautiful.

In the West, there are trees, and they are pretty, but they are spaced apart carefully by a gardener. Life is not cut into the woods like it is here.

Tim thinks it is lovely, too, but he says he is tired of all the leaf blowing outside his office every day. See? Every silver cloud has its dark lining.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Autumn, part II

A little over a week has made a big difference in the season. Many more leaves have begun changing colors, and the world is very lovely here now. Here are a few trees around my office.

The big yellow one just outside:

The bright red ones at the pond:

(You wouldn't know it, but these are the same trees and the same pond. Different lighting.)

The trees near the bus stop.

Last Saturday, Jonathan and I went to a local farm to pick pears and drink fresh apple cider.

And then Sunday, family came to visit and throw acorns into the pond!

I love family, and I will offer all the acorns nearby if you would like to come and throw them in the pond. There are lots of acorns.

I feel like autumn is now being adequately represented by the leaves around our house. Thank you. I am satisfied.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Becoming possible

I started ice skating lessons last January, with the goal of learning how to skate backwards and learning how to stop. My first attempts at both were frightening. But with practice, I was able to go from barely wiggling backwards to gliding backwards to gliding backwards on one foot to gliding backwards on one foot in a circle with my other leg straight behind me in the air. Oh, and I can stop on ice skates in three different ways. Every time I learned something new, I was afraid. This would be the time that I would fall. (And it was. I've fallen a lot.) (But mostly falling is harmless.) (The trick is to land on something fat and soft, like your massive derriere.) (My massive derriere has been bruised a lot.) And amazingly, with practice, the skills became not just possible, but even easy. I remember telling Tim that I didn't think there was any way I would ever be able to skate backwards on one foot twice the length of my body -- that's what I needed to do to pass the skill test. It wasn't fair, because of my height. Twice my body length was several feet farther than what the others in the class had to do. And now I skate backwards on one foot with no problems, several times longer than my body length. Thinking back, the change is purely amazing. How did I ever do that? How did something so very very hard become possible? And then almost easy?

About two weeks ago, at work, I found what seemed to be a fatal flaw in a research project. I had been working on the project for over a year with a collaborator, and we had a (long) draft of a paper already written, and my coauthor was set to speak on the work. And then it all fell apart. Over the weekend, my mind was spinning, sweeping out braids with surfaces (I'm a geometer), trying to understand what was really going on in this construction of ours. And then, by the end of the weekend, I knew how to fix the problem. And it was much easier! And our draft dropped from 40 pages to 20, and the coauthor gave his talk, and there seem to be very good consequences to our work that we had never seen before. How did that happen? How did something so very hard become possible? And then easy?

Just over one week ago, I became aware of another flaw in another paper. But this was worse. Much worse. I had already submitted the article to a journal, and the journal referee was the one who pointed out the error. I got the message on Friday night. I was scheduled to speak on the result at a major conference on Wednesday, in front of all the famous people in the field. I almost panicked. I would have liked to panic, but I didn't feel I had the time. I had to figure out exactly what was going on before my talk on Wednesday. So instead of panicking, or even letting myself cry, I immersed myself in papers from the 1980s. My mind was spinning, waking me up at all hours drawing circles inside of spheres inside of circles. And then, by the end of the weekend, everything clicked back into place, and I knew how to fix the error. (Draw the green circles first silly! Not the red ones!) And it was even easier than the original argument. And I was saved from what seemed to me to be a huge professional embarrassment. It was truly amazing, to the point of being almost miraculous. (My coauthor didn't think so -- he seemed to have no worries at all. In fact, he thought the referee comment was a good sign -- it meant our paper wasn't rejected outright. But then again, he wasn't the one giving the major presentation in a few days.) To me, it was amazing. How did that happen? How did something so very big, and so very scary, become possible? And then easy?

Yesterday evening, back on the ice skating rink, a new coach showed me how to string together some of the basic moves I had been learning since January. Three-turn to backwards crossover, leg up, step forward, and start over with the three-turn. I watched her do the moves, smoothly and easily. And then as I stepped up to try it, on my left foot no less (I have always been strongly right-footed), for the first time ever the thought popped into my head that this might be a good place to stop. Really. I'm almost 40. I'm too old to be learning how to combine three-turns and backwards crossovers. And then I forced that thought out of my head, because the coach was standing there waiting for me, and I did the combo (kind of). And it was slow, and very weak, and my arms were going the wrong way with respect to my legs and my head and my core (a year ago, I had no idea how much there was to think about when skating). But I tried it at least. And after trying it a few times, I thought to myself that I really really needed to practice this again, on my own. No more head telling me to stop here, you are too old, but telling me instead to go -- go do it more! The craziest thing? The weekend has just started, but my mind is spinning again -- not with geometric constructions this time -- but with figure skating moves. I want to learn to do those combos the way the coach did them. She didn't even notice that it was hard, and scary. She just put her feet together where they were supposed to go, and held her arms just so, and it was easy -- for her. That could become possible -- for me?

I think there is a moral to this post, but I'm not sure what it is. It's probably related to the amazing ability of human beings to learn and to change. And not just human beings in the abstract. Me. I learn. I change. Even at my age. (I'm almost 40!) This body of mine is truly, truly amazing. It thinks. It skates. I have no idea how it does any of that. How is any of it even possible?

Monday, October 5, 2015


It is autumn now. A few people have asked if the leaves are beautiful. No. They're not really beautiful yet. A few trees are starting to turn colors, like these on the walk to the bus stop.

And there are some golds and oranges and browns mixed in with the trees when you go driving. We don't really go driving much, but we've been renting a car on weekends. We've driven to three ice skating lessons, for example. And there are places on the road to the ice skating rink that look like nice fall leaves. But there aren't many such places.

I feel like we are supposed to have a spectacular fall here, with so many trees and in so many different varieties. I will feel ripped off if we don't get a spectacular fall.

Just to be sure we aren't already missing that spectacular fall, Jonathan and I took a walk to the canal this afternoon. The walk was nice. The woods are still lovely. But no, not much autumn color. Here is the view of the canal.

You can see a little color behind the bridge, but not much. And there is a tree we can see from our window that has some color.
But not much more. Kind of hoping for all the trees to turn red and yellow and orange at the same time. Does that happen? Could it happen this year? Maybe in another week or two it will happen.

In other news, the weather here is very wet. We had a couple of days last week where a thick heavy, and somewhat warm cloud settled over the place. The air was sticky inside and out, and everything was gray. The air conditioner in our apartment was ineffective in blowing out the sticky gray cloud. We spent two days being hot and wet.

And it then the clouds moved up higher, and it was cloudy the night we were supposed to have the major lunar eclipse. I could log into Facebook and see pictures of the eclipse elsewhere in the country, but there was no view of the moon here. I guess that's a good thing. It means that the apocalypse was diverted.

And sure enough, the major hurricane that could have potentially wiped out all our power lines has now moved off into the Atlantic Ocean.

That was the other weather news. I received messages from church and from the institute warning about the approaching hurricane. Apparently last year a storm cut off power to locals for a whole week. And the year before that there was flooding in the area. We were warned to be prepared with food, water, medicines, and to help others be prepared. But then clouds covered the blood moon, and the apocalypse moved off into the Atlantic. Thank goodness. I think today's walk in the woods was much more fun than it would have been to hunker down for a hurricane.

We did get a lot of rain, though. It rained most of the day Thursday, and heavily all day Friday. And it got cold enough to switch the ineffective air conditioner (attempting to blow the damp warm cloud out of the apartment) to an ineffective heater.

Mushrooms love this weather though. We've been watching these beauties across from the bus stop. 

Wet and orange. Autumn.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nathan and Michele and Simon

Now that we live in New Jersey, my brother Nathan is only a three and a half hour drive away! Ok, that sounds like a lot to me too. But not to him. Last weekend, Nathan drove up with his little guy Simon to say hello and spend a couple of nights, and Michele came to join them the next afternoon.

We had a nice time walking around the woods, running errands, and trying to get Simon to take naps when he was supposed to. Simon didn't want to miss any excitement, so he didn't sleep in the early afternoon in the quiet apartment. Instead, he fell asleep a couple of hours later while riding through the woods seated on his dad's shoulders. It didn't look comfortable.

Me, I fell right asleep during Simon's nap time, and had to catch up with the party in the woods later. I think Simon and I both had good ideas about sleeping. That is, sleeping is good. Do it.

Nathan spent two years at Princeton in a previous life. So he took us on a tour.

We also went to one meeting of church together on Sunday. We happen to be attending church in Nathan's old church building. But when we went on Sunday, there was only one person Nathan recognized from eight years before. After the meeting, he went to talk to the guy, and it was confirmed. Yup. Everybody else has moved away! Complete turn over in eight years.

Interesting. A colleague of mine from G.O.D. University told me that the Princeton ward was really great. But I don't think he'd been there for even a longer time than Nathan. So the building is great, but none of them know any of the people anymore.

Except, ironically, my sister Deborah, who has never lived here. 

In any case, we loved seeing Nathan and Michele and Simon. We liked it so much, that we hereby offer an open invitation to the internet. Come and visit us!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jersey Shore

A couple of weeks ago, just a couple of weeks after arriving in New Jersey, we spent a mostly-lovely Sunday afternoon driving to the beach, and enjoying the shore.

We found a parking spot near the boardwalk, paid for parking, almost paid for beach access, until the guy taking tickets told the guy taking money not to charge anymore -- the weather wasn't looking good enough.

So we walked down to the beach and put our toes in the water.

Within a half hour, the sky opened up and it started pouring rain. We took shelter under the side of a building.

When it kept raining, and raining, and raining, we gave up and walked through the wet to the other end of the boardwalk, where there was a restaurant with a patio, and we shared an order of chips and French fries for an excuse to sit on the patio and watch the rain.

We left a little while before our parking pass expired, with plenty of time to reach the car.

Coming back, through the rain, we gave up on staying dry. It was kind of fun to dance around on the wet boardwalk in the rain.

We all commented that it had been one of our most successful family outings yet. No whining, no yelling, no electronic devices, and no one upset with each other. A truly lovely successful afternoon!

Until we got back to the car and found we had a parking ticket.

Our receipt for parking said we had paid at 3:25 pm. The ticket was issued at 3:26 pm. Which means the parking guy just was hovering next to our car as we pulled up, and issued the ticket after we had appropriately paid. And the instructions on the ticket said we either had to pay the fine, or show up in person in court on a Thursday morning to dispute the fine, which of course was impossible. In spite of the fact that we had paid for parking.

So we drove home mad.

And then we spent the whole night mad.

And then Tim called in the city who issued the ticket in the morning, and a lady told him we could just mail or fax the ticket along with our receipt and the ticket would be voided. And then the rental car company made it even easier by taking the ticket and our parking receipt and saying they'd just take care of it, since it was their car. So, in theory, everything was fine.

Except we were mad.

Way to go, New Jersey. Way to ruin our nicest evening yet.