October 2, 2010

I saw a link on Facebook Thursday to a woman's photo album. She admonishes mommies to take kids' winter coats off before buckling them into their car seats.

Being of the generation which slid around on the front bench seat of their parents' cars, and also having protected my daughter sufficiently that she is currently very much not dead, I couldn't leave it alone. Ever the soul of diplomacy, I commented.

I think this woman has too much time on her hands :-) "CPST"? Child protective services tech? She doesn't say that this info comes from her job; it seems to be her idea, and I'm not buying the premise. Yes, down jackets compress. They compress under the strap when you tighten the strap. Is there more room after you unbuckle, take off the coat and rebuckle? Of course, because you've taken the coat away! (Compressed down still has measurable volume.)

Surprise! I got a response:

I never ever buckle my kids into carseats with heavy winter coats on. There is no way I would take that chance. If possible I warm the car first, then they wear the coats to the car, remove them, get buckled in correctly and then I put the coat over them. We also keep smaller lap blankets in the car for added warmth.

The OP is right. If you spend any amount of time online reading the research and studies you can find that its simply unsafe to do that. I don't think she has too much time on her hands, I think she is protecting her children and quite possibly someone elses who didn't know :)

BTW- CPST means certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, which means she is trained to know her stuff ;)

I would love to know whether she takes off her coat every time she gets in a car. I didn't pursue the thread, though, anticipating Godwin's Law for Mommies ("I love my kid more than you love your kid").

As evidence of the extreme security measures practiced chez Yez, I submit to you the following images.

No soft comfy liner for you.

This is exactly the type of weather I imagine our CPST has never experienced. On the morning in question, we needed to drive 2 towns over for a birthday party. I was lucky to get the car door open! I still had to chip all the ice off, and we were running late because just as we were ready to leave the apartment, Alex barfed all over the car seat. Its quilted cotton liner was therefore out of commission.

Like, leave it to the cosmos, man

Alex's booster seat, vacationing in San Francisco (I lugged it all the way from Boston). No slippage possible here! You could fit another whole kid in there, but at the time, that seat complied with all regulations.

The infant seat liner, in better days:

Nah, I've got the wiper threaded through it. The fresh air'll be good for you!

Below, the new big-kid model. Later I installed it in the middle of the back seat, but at this point I wanted to keep an eye on her. (It was statistically more likely that she would aspirate barf than be involved in a car crash.) While the car seat's harness was lame, its drop-down front bar was substantial.

I'd like our CPST to come to New England and try doing a few errands in February.

One day should do it: kiddo screams all the way to the car, in direct proportion to the necessity of the outing. Mom places her in a 0°F car, strips her down to indoor clothes, and futzes with straps pressing her into the ice-cold car seat. Mom puts the jacket on her backwards; the collar covers her mouth and pushes up on her nose. Snuggly! After 3 or 4 similar errands, the CPST can get back to me.

The commenter who replied to me heats up her car ahead of time. What a concept! Why didn't I think of that? Maybe because I have a life-sized picture of how this works for apartment dwellers. Step 1: Leave toddler alone in apartment. Step 2: Go out and start car, clear the ice and shovel out. Step 3: Go upstairs and find toddler with hot, tear-stained face, busily emptying dresser drawer with fingers sticky from bodily substances. Step 4: Clean toddler, change toddler, put snowsuit on toddler. Step 5: Go outside with toddler. Step 6: Grow third hand to fish cell phone from the depths of diaper bag. Call police; car is gone.

I think these helicopter mommies assume that we negligent parents put our kids in puffy Michelin Man outfits and then gently drape the car seat straps over the quilted terrain. I get that they're afraid that loose straps allow for rapid movement, where the damage is increased by the square of the distance or something. But really? With the jacket already compressed, how much distance are we talking, an eighth of an inch?

Seriously, HoverMom, build a bubble in your living room and be done with it!


My molecule
August 21, 2010

All your base are belong to us

Alert friends pointed me to "Webpages as Graphs", a free site which will "chart" any website. What's so cool is that you see it being generated - mine took about three minutes, and the process is captivating.

I'm calling mine "Yezbot". He (I think we can agree that it's a boy) appeals to my taste for '50s abstracts, and I love that he's lurching happily toward the viewer. I plugged in a different site and observed, smugly, that it looked like a field of gray and blue dandelions. Not bad, possibly, for a bed linens graphic - but I have retro art!


Down the res
June 11, 2010

When I'm given a photographic challenge, I may not meet the goal right away, but in pursuit of it I get some completely irrelevant fun snaps.

My most recent "assignment" was more of a suggestion - a moody shot for a book cover. Local conditions probably won't be right until the fall, but I threw myself into the project anyway, to the extent that I rose before dawn and hit the road. I'd had only one cup of coffee, which explains why I missed a perfectly visible turnoff, but I got to the local reservoir in time to crash a 6 a.m. meeting. Click for a wider shot:

The res was brimming with optimism at the break of this gorgeous day - so not the mood I was going for - but it held a wonderful "found abstract".

I moved my tripod a bit to put it in context.

Meanwhile, a different family of Canada geese taunted their counterparts, who were still conferring in the middle of the road. As the sunlight grew stronger, I followed the shoreline trail for the mirror shot.

These three random images have been campaigning for a spot on the blog. First, here's an update on the grapes, taken June 1. I neglected to include an everyday object to show scale, but the leaves were about the diameter of a big maple leaf; when they're salad-plate size, I'll gather some for dolmathes. By that time, the leaves won't be as hairy as they look here!

Rosebuds, served 4 ways:

Finally, Jef argued in favor of including this shot. I'm a sucker for dragonflies and haven't seen that abdomen color before, so I can live with the pebble background. (It's at full resolution, so there's no click-through.)


Rode a den drum
May 26, 2010

I've been tempted to throw in some Lorem Ipsum here, just to create some psychic space from the FB rant. A few days ago, though, I downloaded the day's images and found I'd been operating on a theme.

A good friend confessed that, while sometimes a random word will escape him momentarily, he'd been trying for two weeks to remember one. He could see it, almost formed, but the brain cells just weren't giving it up. "What's that shrub? Really common - its flowers look like great big azaleas."

I said, "Rhododendron!" He said, "That's it! Rhododendrum!" Close enough, my friend. I took the shot just for you.

I have no compunction about commando-crawling up on a dandelion, and I wear the grass stains proudly. (Why is it, then, that I revert to a mortified teen when asked to take a simple portrait?)

Jef suggested this crop, and I love it. Click for the commando view.

That evening, I balanced out the macro shot. A 12x zoom only goes so far; this is a 1:1 detail, so there's no click-through to the original!

I like the notion that white orbs represent perfect completion, achieved with pure intentions. On the other hand, does it mean that my thinking is as hollow, circular and colorless as a ping-pong ball?


I slept on it and I'm still ticked
May 2, 2010

I interrupt this largely pastoral blog (more on calling it a blog later) to indulge my latest tantrum, precipitated yesterday by a pop-up box on Facebook. While by all rights I should expend this energy on the grapevines, it looks like I'll still have a considerable reserve of indignation at hand when I pick up the clippers tomorrow.

I came late to FB, lured by the ease of displaying photos and, yes, connecting with friends and family. While it's a time sink, it's useful; I think it's generally benign if you cinch up the privacy settings.

I noticed a blurb or two from FB recently, gushing about some new "community" they're building. Since I run like the wind from apps and FB's constant friend and page suggestions, I ignored it.

Well! Yesterday I felt like checking out activity on one of the few pages claiming me as a fan, because there were no entries from it on my "Most recent" view. (Thanks to a pointless FB "upgrade", I need to go to my Profile [wall] and then to my Info view to see such pages.)

I couldn't get to my profile. FB blocked the way with a pop-up demanding immediate authorization to convert virtually all of my Info page to links leading to "community pages" which FB has, in its infinite wisdom, decided we all need and want. Hell no. FB is creating pages for my previous employers? For my elementary school? I know all about those institutions - why would I want to go to a "community" FB slapped together on the subject, and worse, why would I ever permit others to go through my membership to get there?

It gets better. After I declined, all of my education, employment and "likes" (books, movies, TV shows) listings were unceremoniously erased. To be fair, the pop-up box did threaten state this consequence. While I can live without displaying the tedious minutiae of my life, would it have killed FB to give us a plain text option? Here's my nastygram to the powers that be:

I REFUSE to allow Facebook to set up indiscriminate links to people or organizations I mentioned on my profile. I can set up my own "communities", TYVM, and if you want access to those entities, you can jolly well contact them yourselves. Hijacking my access to my own profile yesterday, the popup box was a complete surprise. It had no "cancel" option, so I was forced to uncheck all the boxes in order to see my own profile. Facebook automatically erased all the input related to those entities before the screen repainted. Facebook ignores what we want (rich text, a COMPLETE news feed, control over whether [and how many, and which] photos are published just because they're added to an album, etc., etc.) and implements stealth revisions with no user input or warning. You've achieved an unprecedented nadir.

Phew! Yes, thank you, I feel better now.

Allowing for the high probability that I'm not in possession of all the facts, please educate me. You can reply by e-mail; choose "private" if you'd rather not have it appear in Letters to the Editor.

And now that I've brought it up, would it be easier for (both of) my readers if I figure out how to implement comments--and admit that "Milkweed and the Moon" wants to be a blog? I'd been planning to do Something Else Entirely, but clearly this is not a webzine. It's dawning on me that blogging culture wasn't the prime irritant prompting me to stomp out of DSiH; I just wanted complete control of the site. We don' need no steenkin' templates :>


Conquered grapes
April 27, 2010

We have grapevines. They live-- no, thrive on our roadside stone wall. They're picturesque, in three seasons, and I harvest the leaves; I take pride that they're Concord grapes, only 4 towns away from their origin. I respect their tenacity and the evil genius which is their growth pattern. However, I must MAIM them. They insist on strangling our lilacs.

The reddish sticks are part of the grapevine, fortifying its chokehold at warp speed. Its tendrils' myriad coils and knots look like the work of a deranged sailor, one who's survived several hurricanes strapped to the mast and believes there's no such thing as an adequate grip.

Every year I resolve to rid the lilacs of it, and some years I actually do: I turn an unrelated tantrum into an Edward Scissorhands attack on the grapes. Prime time for this is March; then, the bracing air keeps my skin cool (if not my rage). Mosquitoes aren't out yet, and neither is the foliage, so it's less frustrating to make sense of the maze.

This year, though, I'm a baby-killer.



Because I didn't take care of the bare vines in March, little pink blossoms have sprung up all along them.

FINE, I thought. At least the leaves aren't out; better late than never. I found the clippers and the Deep Woods Off, suited up and headed out there.





But see what's inside? A teeny-
tiny bunch of grapes!












Their charm almost won me over, but I muttered an apology and pressed on. I'm sure the joke will be on me; this pruning will probably only encourage next year's growth, and I don't dare try to make jam from this summer's crop. As I write, the vine is probably perfecting a flavor enhancement just for me, and my guess is that it'll be a concentrated approximation of... Nyquil.


After freeing one lilac, I stopped to capture the crazy shadows from one of its flower clusters.


To clear the palate of that bitter infanticide aftertaste, here are some bloom shots of the azaleas, across the yard and unaffected by the Grape War. I didn't anticipate such drama from them in midafternoon, but they revel in their filtered spotlights.


air gets equal time
April 23, 2010

Just to be contrary, I suppose, I turned the lens to the sky this week. I couldn't ignore the young red-tailed hawk showing off on Tuesday, hanging on a thermal over our neighbor's pasture like a snorkeler over a reef.














I'm thrilled when I get hawks on our turf, imperiously viewing human activity from ersatz roosts... this one's surveying a state highway.

But it turns out that I don't have many on the wing. On a dark and stormy day, I caught one minidrama: a hawk getting paybacks. He was low and slow, his sparrow pursuer defending its nest. Sparrows have the advantage of maneuverability, so they play fighter jet to the hawk's bomber. This or another sparrow has already dive-bombed through the hawk's left wing and tail feathers. Note its delta-wing dive posture and altitude in the shot. Going for the right wing this time?


The prettiest flight shot is of a crow, from a year ago Easter.





Every air show has a cheering section.












Here's the best shot from Tuesday's pasture-snorkel.


Oh, and... happy Earth Day!


From the vernal journal
April 15, 2010

I watched furry bees in the sunshine yesterday and thought, with relief, the winter's probably over. Here's a handful of spring images, just to convince us all that it's true.




In mid-March, before anything has more color than this concrete background, snowdrops punch through the remains of old drifts.

April 2: The second crocus of the year. I'd like to show the first one, but I killed it. It was involuntary flowerslaughter! First Crocus had grown through a dead oak leaf, and I tried to tear it away gently. The leaf prevailed.

Gray squirrels are with us year round, but three days ago I waited to get a shot of one running along the telephone lines. This young one came foolishly close and sat for a portrait.

Forsythia is old news, I know, but ours bloom 2 weeks later than all the others in town. I played with the macro here... ...and I like the blur of the background tree buds in this late afternoon shot.

Jef and I spent an intense half-hour that afternoon
exploring arcane effects filters in Paint Shop Pro.
The room was hushed, and we sat motionless,
our unwavering attention fixed on minute settings.

Finally we sat back. Dizzy with eye fatigue and
proud of our mutual accomplishment...

...we snickered like 8-year-olds.



Hell froze over
February 24, 2010

There's new content on the site! I finally wrote up my December trip to
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Sit back with a Painkiller and live vicariously!




Irony R Us
November 22, 2006

I was informed a few days ago that Worcester Magazine would publish an excerpt from my blog. I'm honored, of course, and excited to have been a blip on their radar screen. Forearmed with the knowledge that "WoMag" would hit the stands a day early, I grabbed a handful of copies this morning at the Big Y, tossed them in the wayback, and continued to the upper left hand corner of Massachusetts; I was running late for the rendezvous with my daughter at MCLA.

We've just returned from North Adams, and hubby Jef was the first to find "Blog Log" (page 12 - opposite the cover story!). To his great amusement and my personal mortification, he informed me that the blog URL given was this one -, wherein I rant about how much I hate blogs :-J

This site will eventually become the webzine it almost resembles at present, and "greatest hits" of the blog will be available in the archives. In the meantime, I'll continue to hold forth on Don't See in Here.

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