Tuesday - May 24, 2005
Sunshower Window Box
Today is a writer's block sort of day. So I'll share the photograph of yesterday's sun-shower and the window box on the front porch (click thumbnail for full photo):
I wish the photograph could convey even half of the movie atmosphere the rain, the sunshine, and the mist evaporating off of the pavement gave the afternoon. The colors of the trees and the flowers were more vivid than usual. The dog, out for his evening constitutional, blinked up at the bright sunlight while shaking the rain off of his coat. Even he seemed confused and delighted by the odd weather.
Monday - May 23, 2005
"...So why should I feel sorry
If they just couldn’t understand
The idiomatic logic
That went on in my head..."
-- Joni Mitchell, "Twisted"
Knuckles, knees, ankles... They're all the same, aren't they? They have a certain percussive resonance, to be sure, but despite all being joints they would make for a very easy Sesame Street game of "which of these is not like the other." However, you wouldn't know it from the nonsense that sometimes falls out of my face-hole when I am teaching. It is one thing to tell people to straighten their knees. How you straighten an ankle I am still puzzling out.
Other times I unwisely and inadvertently attempt minor tongue-twisters like, "the fingertips and the knuckles where the fingers meet the hands." This can come out as, "the fingle uncle handle foogle." The problem is, I know what I am trying to say. My brain is going one way, my mouth has an agenda of its own, and my ears are not paying any attention at all until the class looks at me with wrinkled foreheads scrunched into puzzled frowns. The uneasy laughter is also unsettling (Don't worry - she only sounds crazy).
Saturday I made my crowning goof, though. I usually say, "Press all four corners of your feet into the floor." On Saturday, I said, "Press all four feet into the floor." Instantly, I got the quizzical expressions and confused laughter. For once, I didn't skip a beat. "Yes, folks - this is Orwellian Yoga. Four legs good, two legs bad."
Friday - May 20, 2005
Apologies for the no-post yesterday. My schedule went a wee bit crazy on me.
It is raining today - soft, drumming, soporific rain. And yet, my horoscope says to cut back on the caffeine. Obviously the astrologers and the meteorologists need to get it together, as there is no way I can cut back on caffeine when the trees outside are going shhhwwwooshhhh, and the rain is going thrumthrumthrumthrum.
It seems that a great deal of them Internets is buzzing with reviews and mini-reviews of Revenge of the Sith, so it seems like an appropriate time for me to make a confession: I have not seen "Star Wars" I and II. We even own "Episode I" (Thomson Financial sent it out as part of a series of ridiculously expensive promotions a few years ago -- that was about six months before they started laying people off. Hmm...). I watched about 20 minutes of it, got horrifically bored, and went to bed. From what I have heard of the movie, it appears I got bored just before the point where most people segué from bored to annoyed, so I suppose I got off lightly.
But this weekend is unlikely to contain movie-viewing (most weekends are unlikely to contain movie-viewing in our household -- we've even fallen behind on our usual "one movie per quarter" quota). Aside from the normal round of Yoga, I am going to be attending a fly-fishing course this weekend. Yes, you heard me correctly. John asked if I wanted to try it, I gave it some thought and said, "Why not?"
You can stop laughing now.
Wednesday - May 18, 2005
Take Me out of the Ball Game
Do you know anyone who brags about having been picked first for sports in school? Neither do I. To go even further, I don't think I know anyone who even admits to it.
When I was a youngster (insert cackling crone-voice and the ominous squeak of a rocker), sports were insanely important. They were important to the schools I went to (why? I do not know - it's not like we got funding for being good at field hockey), they were important to my classmates, and because they were a key source of daily shame and embarrassment, they were also important to me. Most team sports are founded on one thing: running. This is a thing I am particularly, spectacularly bad at. I am slow. After just a few yards, my legs begin to feel like tree trunks, and using them to propel me into the air and across a few feet only to do it again on the other side, repeat ad infinitum, seems ludicrous. The spectacle of me lumbering slowly after a small white ball, stick in hand, while my teammates on the sidelines turned several shades of purple screaming at me to "GO!" was an unlovely one to say the least. And on the individual scale of my own ability, field hockey was the sport I was good at (I had good stick skills - if I could just get there in time, the ball wouldn't get past me. It was the small matter of me getting there that was the problem).
As a result of all of this spectacular inability, I was almost always chosen last for those scrimmages or gym-class games where the two shiny, popular jock-types get to be the "captains," picking their friends (other shiny, popular jock-types) in descending order until it was just another girl and I. Always the same two. Once, recognizing the obvious, a gym teacher selected the other un-sporty girl and me to be the "captains." This was an abomination - a reversal of the usual order which had the inverse effect I am sure she intended. We did not feel better about ourselves. We knew we were still the last choices for the team. The only result of this bit of stunt casting was to make us feel even more conspicuous in our lack of athletic ability.
All of this maudlin remembrance is to this end: I know I was the last one picked, and there were mighty good reasons for it. Kids are Darwin's little darlings, competitive to the core, and I was picked last because while I may have been "fit" by objective standards (heart rate good, in shape, whatnot - these small, private school sports programs do not let you escape without doing your share of activity), I was unfit in competitive terms.
So why is it that now whenever there are reminiscences of school-sports-past, I never hear anyone say, "Oh - I was always the one who did the picking," or "I was always picked first," or even "I wasn't ever picked last or first, but always somewhere in the middle." Everybody insists that they were picked last. Even allowing for the self-selecting nature of my geeky circle of friends, this is not possible. I suspect that age and time have worked their miracles and what was once cool is now a source of mild embarrassment.
Do I have to finally admit that all of those people who told me it wouldn't matter one day were right? Dang - I hate it when that happens.
Tuesday - May 17, 2005
Diversity is Edible
Now for the actual essay portion of today's entry. Occasionally, John and I talk about where we might go next. "Next" is the misty future, by the way - usually spoken of in ten-year terms. It was ten years out there when we moved here, and it's ten years out now. Just so you know -- we have no immediate plans to pack up the critters and the geraniums and head for some distant outpost.
Obviously we have people that root us here. We like it here for a lot of other reasons as well: the area has cultural attractions coming out of every orifice, aside from the intensely hot, muggy summers the weather is reasonable, and there is a significant amount of diversity as well. "Diversity" is one of those words that sounds rather noble in the abstract and is sometimes hard to meaningfully define in daily life. Well, I've got your diversity right here - it's called the "Grand Mart" and it's our local multiethnic grocery store.
I had been to the Grand Mart once before, but our friends Alicia and Guillermo had never been, so the three of us went there last night. Alicia loaded up on Indian and Mexican goodies and Guillermo inquired after guanabana fruit (too early in the season, but I gave myself and the other two an earworm singing "Na- naaa, nananah -- guanabana -- Nah, nana-na..." If you don't know what I'm talking about, I can't help you.)
Unfortunately, the cameraphone does not have the resolution to show you the curry leaves and the two types of Mexican cheese and the fresh turmeric and all of the other lovely eatables. I was also afraid of taking the photograph of the insanely hostile checkout girl, who seemed to want to kill her cash register with every stabbing push of a button. However, this is the type of thing I would madly miss if we were to move to someplace more homogenous.
Monday - May 16, 2005
It is truly a beautiful spring around here. Too bad it seems to be making everybody completely miserable.
John is upstairs sneezing great, booming, colossal sneezes. Just about everyone I know has been affected this year, regardless of what their allergy profile has been in years past. The human population is suffering mightily. Yet I turn my reddened, bleary eyes to the back porch and see my migratory geraniums settling happily into their summer home, herbs variously stretching for the sun or tumbling out of their tub, and John's tomatoes and peppers which practically grow as you are looking at them. Turning to the front of the house, the pink azaleas are in full flower and the white ones are revving their engines. More geraniums are extending stiff, woody stems which will soon be tipped with colorful blooms, and the hostas dance happily in the breeze.
So why must the plants' happiness cause so much malaise in humans? I do not know - I just hope for rain to rinse some of the pollen from the air and assuage my irritation with the sight of happy plant life.
Friday - May 13, 2005
Driving down the Beltway yesterday, I heard a caller on the open phones session of the Kojo Nnamde Show refer to the flight of the misguided Cessna as "the attack." Attack? Not even the news media, howling for a juicy story, is calling it anything but a mistake. I could more credibly call his use of the word "attack" an "attack" on my moving automobile (Imagine the scene - smoking Beltway wreckage and me saying, "His use of the word 'attack' was the direct cause of my eyes rolling back in my head, officer, which caused twenty-seven car pileup.")
Another caller compared this incident to JFK Jr.'s nighttime crash and insisted that light planes not be allowed into the air without a battery of instruments. Right. These guys weren't in danger of crashing due to sudden darkness at noon - unless it was due to terror of having scrambled fighter jets appear around them to escort them to a nearby airport.
No, no - the really frightening thing is that the DC Police department were not alerted to the incident until it was almost over - and then it was only by accident. The Feds are evacuating Congress (Blackberries all atwitter) and the way the DC Police finds out about this is when a Capitol Police intelligence official called in to the DC Police headquarters for information. (I would love to hear the tapes of that call - "Err... A plane what? Where? Wait a minute -you're calling me for information? Sounds like you have more of it than I do!")
At least the breakdown in communication was caused by an innocent mistake - I'm very sure it will all be fixed from here...
ETA: I had meant to include a link to Doghouse Riley's description of the stellar media coverage during the "attack." So there it is.
Thursday - May 12, 2005
Okay, Now this Explains a Lot
I am capable of lots and lots of speech.
Okay - those of you who know me offline can stop laughing now. Yes, what is written above can be considered a bit of an understatement. I do not just love the written word - I love words. I love ideas. I love talking about them and listening to others talk about them. My loved ones know that extended silence means I am ill or very tired. It is rare that I do not have something to say.
Many have also noted that I tend to wave my hands around a lot when I talk. Don't stand too close to me when I am saying something - I might just inadvertently poke your eye out. All of this gesticulation looks especially silly when I am on the phone, as it happens whether someone can actually see me or not.
It appears there is a reason for all of this literal hand-waving. Apparently, wafting my digits to and fro allows me to access language more fluently. So, for those of you who laugh at me when I dabble my dactyls during a particularly fertile verbal riff, remember that they are simply playing the mental keyboard of my vocabulary. And for my father, who once insisted that if my hands were gone I wouldn't be able to speak - well, Dad, it seems you may have been right.
Wednesday - May 11, 2005
My husband, as we say in New England, is wicked smaht. He has passed his second semester in his masters program with straight A's. I am married to a man with a 4.0 GPA.
This is definitely a good thing on many levels: first of all, it makes all of those evenings where he came home, ate dinner and watched the "Daily Show" in 20 minutes ("Welcome to the Daily Show!"...ba-boop!...crunch..."I'm going to study.") worthwhile. Secondly, it increases the odds of scholarship funds. Lastly, it is fun and fantastic to see him excel at this.
When I graduated from law school, Mom was in the process of considering the phrase, "I'm proud of you." She disliked the way it seemed to co-opt the accomplishment of another person. By being "proud of" someone, it seemed like you had some share in their achievement. She especially found it odious when that other person had nothing whatsoever to do with the accomplishment or perhaps even had (either intentionally or ignorantly) impeded it. At that point, she started saying that she was "pleased for" anyone who had achieved something special.
So, I'm pleased for John. He's definitely done something here he can be proud of.
Tuesday - May 10, 2005
Beginnings, Endings, and Babies
I sometimes wonder how many compelling stories are left incomplete in our lives (no, I won't go into the question of "what is completion?" at this point). Yesterday, I had a serendipitous moment - I heard the follow-up to an NPR story I had listened to about a year ago, the story of a woman named Suzanne who was seeking to have a child. The first installment of her story was sad, but not uncommon - in vitro had not worked for her, and she was reconsidering her options.
In this segment, she was exploring adoption. I have had something of an adoption-convergence lately. Mimi Smartypants' story of how she and her husband adopted Nora can still bring tears to my eyes. One of my close friends has learned more about his birth-family recently. Professor Z wrote a lovely and heart-wrenching account of her own adoption and life on Sunday. And yesterday, the story of Suzanne came in through John's car-radio as I waited for him to run an errand.
We had a "driveway moment" when we returned to the house, sitting in the car to listen through to the end of the piece, and the beginning of another story.
Monday - May 09, 2005
It is a horrible paradox that the weather just now is so beautiful, the sun is shining so brightly, the leaves are so green, and yet the majority of the Smith household feels so rotten. John is barking like a two-pack-a-day seal, the dog has been showing signs of pink paws, and I spent far too much of last night in that semi-insomniac place where you slowly realize you are awake, you have been awake for quite a while, it is two in the morning, you can't get comfortable, and awake is really not where you want to be at the moment. I suspect that John was awake for a good part of the night as well.
The cause for all of this misery? Pollen. The same green, lovely trees that look so wonderful are releasing huge amounts of pollen into the air. On our way to a christening party yesterday, John even fancied that he could see a yellow haze hovering over the horizon. I told him he was mentally extending the yellow haze off the hood of my car.
I know, others have it much worse in the world, and I must whine about pollen. What else can I do? The lack of sleep means I am too tired to think about anything else.
Friday - May 06, 2005
Occasionally, in my never-ending quest for the elusive full-time job, I get a variation on the question of "busy work." How do I feel about it, is it okay with me, etc?
It is almost as stupid a question as my least favorite interview question of all time. Here's why: unless you are fabulously wealthy and powerful beyond all conception, it's highly likely that busy work is just a part of your life. (Note that I am defining "busy work" as separate from "make work," which is that evil and unnecessary task that someone gives you just so you have "something to do." Busy work is just tedious stuff, often administrative, which is needed to keep the wheels of whatever machine you labor for rolling.) In my daily life at home, I have checkbook balancing, laundry, and general tidying-up which count as busy work. In my freelance job, there is keeping track of hours, billing, and monitoring payments. It is busy work, the lot of it, but entirely necessary.
So, if such administrivia is a necessary part of life, why ask about it? Granted, there are slightly fewer of these tasks around when you have administrative help, but woe to the person who doesn't know how to fill out a Fed Ex form if that help is sick or assisting a higher power and does not have time for you. You'd better wrap your head around the concept of coping yourself pretty darn sharpish if you want to get the job done.
In my last full-time job, I once even heard someone moan about doing their travel expense reports. He was a friend, so I looked at him funny (if he were not a friend I would have been more diplomatic - see what friendship gets you in my world?) and asked him why on Earth he should complain about this task. After all, the regular work of our jobs entailed "relationship management," which is work that is always open-ended. You are never finished in your quest to make sure the customer is happy, and they could get very unhappy tomorrow, next week, or five minutes from now, so you'd better have a good line of communication open. With such a never-ending task in front of you, I asked my friend, isn't it nice to do something which is not only completely finished when you hand it in, but you get money later? Busy work in that situation was a welcome change from the ever-shifting status quo.
Therefore, off I go this morning to have a strategy meeting at a client's. By the end of it, I am sure I will long for some soothing busy work.
Thursday - May 05, 2005
I woke up incredibly cranky this morning. I had been having a dream about being completely over-committed, so it is probably not such a shock that I wasn't sunshine and flowers at five-thirty, but it was really not fun.
John has been away for almost a week, attending a conference. He arrives home today and I am ecstatic, for both selfish and unselfish reasons. The unselfish reason is that I know he is tired of traveling and wants to be home. The selfish reasons are that a.) I miss him, and b.) I will be glad when I have his help with the household stuff. Since he has been gone, we have had one fishy burial at sea (why is it that we can keep "difficult" fish like neon tetras alive, while supposedly hardy guppies croak?), with only one human to cater to him the dog has gone from mildly tetchy to completely ballistic, and Dash has resumed his morning door-scratching, having figured out a way to pick at the door while not standing on the ScatMat.
That cat is lucky that he's cute - waking me with wailing and scratching is not a wise move, especially when I have had busy, crazy, cranky-making dreams.
Wednesday - May 04, 2005
If I were to teach a little kid about direction and elevation and the differences they make to climate, this would be the time of year to do it. We've had a cold spring, with frost mantling the higher ranges of the grassy "island" in the center of our cul-de-sac. The grass goes from wet and green at the edges to cold, brittle and white as the mound rises. And yet, plants which shelter close to the house are fine - even the herbs in the tub out back.
The front of our house faces North, and we are surrounded by trees, so we are partial-sun/shade gardeners. All down the street, azaleas are exploding in scarlet, white, and pink blooms. Our most advanced one is barely unfurling a few petals. Our neighbors directly across the street have peonies which I covet with envy as green as the new leaves of the trees on our street, but their south-facing house has the sun for growing peonies and ours does not.
As mobile animals, we have a poor conception of what the differences in shade, direction, and elevation can do to climate. We exclaim about how cold it is in the shade and move to the sun, rubbing our arms and shivering. Plants do not have the same luxury of rapid movement: they can slowly reach their faces toward the light, hoping to get there in time, their slow progress impeded by the lack of the thing they seek.
I look across the street at the bright blooms and savor my mammalian quickness as I dart around our local nursery, making shade-hardy selections from the vast array. I also watch my own azaleas' slow flowering and know that my neighbors will appreciate these blooms when theirs are gone.
Tuesday - May 03, 2005
We started TiVo-ing "Inside the Actors Studio" (you have no idea how much the absence of an apostrophe confuses and upsets me). It struck me that the Bernard Pivot questionnaire that James Lipton uses is an eminently bloggable thing (not only that, but I'm never going to sit on that stage and answer it, so why not here?). Feel free to answer the questions yourself in the comments.
01. What is your favorite word?
Are you kidding? There are too many - but for today, I'll just say "marvelous."
02. What is your least favorite word?
03. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Music - specifically vocal harmony
04. What turns you off?
05. What is your favorite curse word?
06. What sound or noise do you love?
07. What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of Dash clawing at the door in the predawn hours
08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
09. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Your grandparents are waiting for you
Monday - May 02, 2005
Whole, and Nothing But
You think you're so holy and truthful, but really it's only abominable conceit.
-- E.M. Forster, A Room With a View
A friend's LiveJournal reminded me of the quote above. My friend was recently on the receiving end of some cutting criticism, delivered under the label of "brutal honesty." How reassuring that is - to get smacked in the head in the name of friendship so pure it can withstand any blow! How delightful to know that my friend's Upholder of Truth believes that the bonds of their relationship are strong enough that he might spare himself any concern for the feelings of his fellow man!
The truth is a fine and honorable goal. I believe in truthfulness and honor. But I have also seen some who tell themselves that their reverence for the truth gives them license to kick others when they are down. Perhaps I am not being charitable when I say (quite truthfully) I believe that these people value petty sadism above honesty. Or perhaps they are just lazy. It may be easier to say, "You look like hell," rather than inquire if someone is feeling well. Notice that the statement, "You look like hell," might indicate that the person making the statement is concerned for the welfare of the hagridden recipient. It might also represent a cheap scoring-off of someone who's eyes have clearly packed for a long vacation. But if you care for the recipient of the comment, why put them in the position of guessing what your intention might be? If you care for them, you take the time to phrase the same sentiment a bit more gently.
If I have my suspicions about the hurtful/"Truthful" people, I have my reasons. I was once in a relationship with someone who clearly thought that communication was a game, played along similar lines to the rules of cross-examination in a court. If you were not clever enough to catch that your question had not been answered quite in the way it was phrased, he had by his own narrow definition not "lied." Did it matter that trust, caring, and decency went out the window? No, the one god was Truth, and Truth reigned supreme.
I would just like to go on record that I believe such people are infantile, petty, toxic jerks. What's the matter? I'm just being honest.
Friday - April 29, 2005
The Modern Family
It occurred to me recently that I know very few couples who come from the same religious or cultural background. Even couples who are nominally of the same religion often come from different parts of the globe. In a strange way, I feel more comfortable with this concept than I do with the idea of choosing your partner deliberately from the same pool you came out of.
Perhaps it isn't so strange that I feel comfortable with this: after all, John's family is mostly Italian and Catholic and mine is mostly Scandinavian and a mish-mash of Protestant faiths and apathetic agnosticism. We recently went to a party at Alicia and Guillermo's house - her family is from Gujarat, his from Mexico City. They got married in a three-day Hindu ceremony, where his family was baffled by colorful saris, mendhi-painted hands, and hundreds of coconuts. Talking to an Indian neighbor at their party, he admitted that he had no notion of what was going on in his own Hindu wedding - his wife was Hindu, and he was Christian.
When I first went to stay with my in-laws, I was baffled by the noise: it seemed that everyone shouted, even normally-quiet John raised his voice to be heard above the din. He must have been similarly confused by my family's quietness and the undercurrents of tension that rippled between various family members. His family was outwardly raucous, though universally loving, while mine was outwardly serene, yet inwardly seething. I had to accustom myself to the noise, while he must have felt like donning armor to fend off darts of sarcasm. While John and I may outwardly seem more similar than Guillermo and Alicia, our respective backgrounds had enough differences to create some initial friction. Alicia and Guillermo's stories about handling family differences often have more points in common with ours than contrast.
It is these initial touch-points that seem to create the most friction: first meetings, weddings, other moments with great emotional and cultural significance get people wound up to a fever pitch. Compromises, though possible, are rarely even, 50/50 splits. I think that is why weddings can create such tension and such great beauty. Yes, the tradition often honors those who have gone before. But at the end of the day, when a couple is strong, they can leave behind the struggles and the angst that are almost inevitable during the run-up to "The Big Day" and create something that is their own. And when they move on from that day, they will have placed their stake in the ground, creating something new and unique. "This is ours," they say. "Our family."
Thursday - April 28, 2005
I think my dog is allergic to conference calls.
Let me rephrase that. My dog is most definitely allergic to lots of stuff. And even despite the allergy vaccine that the dogger is on, he still nibbles on his paws now that the pollen is thick enough to turn my blue car a sickly shade of green. Allergies don't cause him to bark, however, and bark he does whenever I have an important business call.
Yesterday he was calmer than he has been for a very long time. Mellow and restful, he hung out with me, hardly objecting at all to the occasional passersby outside our house that usually make him behave like a defender of a medieval castle wall (if we gave him boiling oil, he would pour it on bike-riding kids and unwary joggers). Later we went out to the field for a bit of frisbee. He subjected me to none of the hyperkinetic, noisy behavior that (in repeated doses) makes me absolutely crazy. I got a lot done yesterday, but it was preparatory work: organizing notes and impressions in order to do a big project more smoothly. I made no business calls yesterday.
Contrast that with today: he woofed at the neighbor's dog, went ballistic at the sight of the paper delivery man, and even spazzed out when I returned from teaching my private Yoga client early this morning. He has chased Dash a couple of times, ducked perversely when John and I have tried to pet him, and generally given the impression that today is going to be a challenging day. What is different? Well, today I have a conference call this afternoon. I am convinced he knows this.
It's just lucky that my client has a sense of humor and knows I work from home.
Wednesday - April 27, 2005
Well, I never really left - I just spent some quality time with Mom, attended to some clientary emergencies, and generally listened to the time go "whooosh" as it sped past. Seriously, what day is it?
We had a small gathering at our house on Sunday, as we often do when our parents are in town. Roxanne and John brought their not-quite-year-old Lana over, and we were privileged to witness first-order cuteness. Lana, having never played with a dog before, fell in love with Mac. She followed him with her eyes, no matter who was holding her, pointing and emitting a fairly steady stream of "Da!" (coupled with the pointing, it was clear she was saying "dog," but I have to admit the actual noise was more "da!" Russian for "yes," infant for "dog.") She finally came to roost on Rox's lap, where she merrily kicked her feet, said "da!" and laughed as Mac sniffed her cautiously. The final cuteness was committed when Lana offered a bit of her cereal snack to the dog. We're lucky that the house didn't implode from John and me inhaling rapidly as this happened. We have been working on Mac to get him to take treats gently from human fingers ever since we got him three years ago, but nothing was certain when he was presented an interesting morsel by a small child who was unclear on the concept that giving food to a dog means your chubby fingers must release their iron grip on the puffed wheat.
It was a proud moment.* Mac practically took the cereal with his lips. Lana, delighted with this, shrieked with laughter and kicked her feet. The adult humans melted into a happy puddle of goo. It is a good party when nobody has to go to the emergency room.
*And one I was an idiot not to even think of photographing.
Friday - April 22, 2005
Random Friday Bits
Random bit the first: Today is the day Mom arrives - the week's plan for tidying up actually went pretty well, and I am left with only the vacuuming/floors. John took care of the deck and the outdoor spaces the other day, and I have that sense of anticipation I get when we're throwing a party and waiting for the first guest to arrive.
Random bit the second: I have been trying to take a picture of Dash doing his daft dance of death outside the upstairs railing, but have not quite snapped him in the act. These, however, give a bit of an idea as to how the little bugger practically makes my poor acrophobic heart stop:
I stood a couple of steps up from the half-landing to take these photos. The tile floor of the foyer is one full flight below his merrily rolling body. Imagine now, if you will, that he doesn't have his hindquarters inside the railing, but rather is dancing on the scant few inches of carpet outside the railing. Put very simply, it gives me a hospital-grade case of the willies just to see him do it. John saw him leap from outside the railing to the landing the other day - even he found that unsettling.
Random bit the third: Anyone got any cookies? I'm craving cookies.