Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

daily existence away from chicago

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

On the Passing of Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs, Social Critic Who Redefined and Championed Cities, Is Dead at 89 - New York Times

Jane Jacobs, one of my heroes, died Tuesday. Her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, captured so much of what is wrong with late 20th Century urban planning. But besides her ideas, I admired her because she was an amateur. Never attended college, certainly no architect, she threw a molotov cocktail at urban planners that is still burning today. The times obit captures much more than I'm prepared to write.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ABC meme

Because I can't resist, here's my take on the ABC meme as seen at jo(e)'s page

Accent: Slight Southern one that means I pronounce "crayon" as "crown," use "y'all" and "all y'all" to great effect, and I know how to pronounce "Louisville" correctly.

Booze: If we are talking hard liquor, it has to be bourbon (see above), but mostly it's beer and wine: stouts, porters, ales, pinot grigio and shiraz.

Chore I Hate: Cleaning Ciela's high-chair try three times a day, every day.

Dog or Cat: Cat. Cat's don't suck up. I only like that in students.

Essential Electronics: Oh, the laptop. I love it like it was my other offspring.

Favorite Cologne: Good lord, this is a stretch. I have no favorite colognes.

Gold or Silver: Silver--but only because I have to choose.

Hometown: Louisville, KY.

Insomnia: On the occasion. I can't understand why it happens, and it has only happened as of late. I seem to sleep better with more stress.

Job Title: Faculty Associate--a high falutin term for adjunct.

Kids: One and only.

Living arrangements: Me and Judy and Ciela and a snake namned Hamilton all in our cozy townhouse overlooking the Indian Bend Wash.

Most admirable traits: Honest, smart and funny.

Number of sexual partners: Get a life!

Overnight hospital stays: Only one that I remember. Our dearly departed feline put me in overnight for antibiotics when she bit me. I was stopping her from mauling the little kitten next door. I also stayed all night when Ciela was born--but I had that pretty easy.

Phobias: Getting into a fight, even when I can clearly win. I'm pretty much an irrational coward.

Quote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Religion: Grew up Roman Catholic but am now militantly anti-religion. The beliefs in mythic stories and poorly edited books continue to wreak havoc on the world. That said, I hope there is a god and my understanding of the world does not stop at the empirical or the material.

Siblings: One sister (hey, TD)

Time I wake up: 6:30 or 7:00am. Ciela would have it no other way.

Unusual talent or skill: I can imitate my dad preparing to wash the car with a precision that is eerie.

Vegetable I love: corn.

Worst habit: Eating in the middle of the night.

X-rays: two or three of my hand when I kept getting injured playing goalkeeper.

Yummy foods I make: Sweet potatoe quesadillas.

Zodiac sign: Gemini--but still lacking my twin self.

Ciela's latest joke

Take small, red plastic spoon.
Place spoon on head.
Say, "hat."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Having moved

Having moved
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Ciela laughing

Ciela laughing
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Ciela coy

Ciela coy
Originally uploaded by shermans.

I couldn't decide which of these pictures to post. Ciela is all dressed up to go to dinner at her friend's house, and we were allowed to tag along. We had a very nice dinner of salad, dahl, a sort of potato pancake thingy, rice and wine. A very good Indian meal. Ciela's friend also invited another family, half of whom, it turns out, are professors in English at ASU. Renaissance, but whadda ya gonna do. And he was a doctor, so Judy got to talk medicine, and I got to talk books. Our hosts genially watched and we occasionally remembered that they were not doctors or professors. Computer and science types--but nice anyway.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Academic Moves

Coincidently, Michael Berube posted a longish essay about his move from Illinois to Pennsylvania. A bit of insight into what I might say if I bothered to write a 2000 word essay on moving--just for the hell of it. Among lots of other things, he is prolific.

One hundred and ten of those boxes contained books. I know, I know: among academics, let alone academic couples, 110 boxes is a light load. Janet and I simply don’t own enough books, partly because (as we admit to ourselves only when we move) we simply haven’t read enough books. But in the world of professional movers, 110 book boxes is quite enough for any ten people; there wasn’t a single mover, on the Illinois or on the Pennsylvania end of the deal, who didn’t walk through our inventory and whistle or gasp or curse. [ ... ] And then we had to declare our valuables: crystal, china, jewelry, furs, guns. Checking “none,” “none,” “none,” “none,” and “none,” we thought that this was as useful an emblem as any other for the academic move: 110 book boxes, no valuables.

I don't think we'll hit 110 boxes. We eliminated a lot of books before hitting the road for Arizona, and then decided that lots more could go once we saw our shelf space diminishing. Hell, that's what libraries are for. A lot of the fiction went. Painful, but liberating as well. Anything that I figured I wouldn't teach, write about or likely even read to the second hand shop. This wasn't so bad. I'm certainly not going to forget about Wuthering Heights or Charlotte Bronte, and if need arises, I can certainly locate a copy.

The book reduction is part of a commodity-wide reduction in our lives. Berube writes about enjoying moving, enjoying the cataloging and redistributing of a life. Myself, I enjoy the opportunity to rid myself of excess weight. My friend, another academic who just finished moving, wrote me that "if your stuff doesn’t fit on a single horse and travois, you’ve got too much stuff." He's right of course. Even pared down, I still feel that my life is imprisoned in these objects. I feel a step closer to freedom each time someone hands me the cash and takes away the desk, the lawnmower, the carseat, the compost bin, the dresser, the old computer. It's as if the very real weight of these has been lifted, and I'm no longer carrying them--physically or mentally. There is much to be said about clearing space for a life to happen. Without it, one's life is little more than caretaking, and in the end can be summed much like the final images of Citizen Kane: endless stacks of crates, statues and furniture in a decaying Xanadu.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


We are in the process of the slow motion move. Because we are trying to paint a lot of the townhouse before it's loaded with furniture, we are staying in our apartment two weeks after the closing. This whole week has been a series of short trips back and forth, unloading smallish and mediumish boxes, loose shoes, plants and garden implements punctuated by long hours painting.

Tonight, for a break in the action, we hauled Ciela around IKEA looking for a new dresser. Our older furniture, a gift from friends of my parents, is just to mammoth for our tiny, tiny bedroom. Those pieces are better suited for an older home, say from the 19th century. IKEA has that sleek, I'm-living-in-a-reconditioned-wharehouse look that would fit nice in our reduced quarters.

Just chiming in. I'm actually pretty beat and ready to go to bed. My class tomorrow should be enjoyable as I scramble to catch up to the students.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Welcome Back

I haven't blogged because I haven't cared.

Nah, I've just been living a life and not particularly inspired to tell anyone about it. How often do you want to read about something Ciela did or what we managed to scrounge up for dinner, or what colors we plan to paint the townhouse?

How 'bout one more time?

We're looking at a remarkably similar color scheme from the house in Omaha--which very few of you ever saw, but I'll forgive you for not visiting. Yellow downstairs with perhaps one purple wall to match our furniture. Brown and cream in Ciela's room--to match her leopard skin rug. Blue and cream in our bedroom--to go with the curtains, shams, and duvet that Judy sewed. Everything else remains the same neutral color (unless we do something with the stairwell.

We've been eating a winter stew with carrots, potatoes, celery and onions from the Phoenix Public Market.

And Ciela fell asleep in her bike seat, head bouncing off her mother's back for the 40 minute bike ride over to our new townhouse and then across the canal and around the golf course. We had a nice little ride.

(Wait. Did he just write "we"?)

Yes, yes, yes. I'm back on two wheels.

My friend Bike Boy and I drove down to Tuscon for the big Bike Swap and I bought a mountain bike and a road bike. We took the latter out for a spin this afternoon. It's nice to be back in the saddle--literally.

I'll post pictures later, but we scored a pretty good deal with the mountain bike, and the road bike isn't perfect, but I was getting tired of looking and not buying. I don't want my life to be a continual shopping experience. This was the right price and close enough to what I want for now. It's my transition bike until I can justify spending more for something faster, stronger and sleeker.

So thanks Mom and Dad. It took until nearly Easter, but Christmas finally came.

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