My sweet niece, Little Diamond (Professor Little Diamond :-) ) has given birth to two of the most perfectly beautiful little babies, ever. These are the quilts I made for them, and lastly is one of the sweet babies on his quilt. Congratulations, Umm Al Tawaman, God is good and full of mercy and compassion.
They didn’t even answer the phone. When I called Customer Service to tell them that of the 12 drinking glasses they had sent me, 11 arrived perfectly, one arrived in smithereens, smashed, crushed. I can’t imagine how 11 could be flawless and one could be so badly damaged.
They told me to leave a message, so I did. As I was holding the paperwork in my hand, I was able to give them my order number and what had happened. I told them I didn’t want to return the glasses I received – I totally love them – but would they send me a replacement for the one that arrived in smithereens?
They didn’t call me back. I barely noticed, I was having a busy day, only around six did I think of it and had second thoughts about dealing with them again.
Then early yesterday morning I found their e-mail, sent shortly after I had called, telling me they had no replacements, but they would credit my account for the entire amount and I could give them to charity or use them as I wished.
I was blown away. Who does that?
It’s not like I need more e-mail, but every e-mail they send me has something lovely. These are the glasses I bought:
No, no, they are not glamorous, but they are perfect for everyday use. They are made of recycled glass, they have wide bottoms and they have little raised fleur-de-lis on them.
Why is this important? I have a cousin; when he was a boy he would talk enthusiastically and knock over his drinking glass. It got to be a family joke. But you can prevent these things. If you have children and want them to learn how to dine with adults, you choose items that will help them succeed – wide bottom glasses, for example, that are not easily tipped over, with details on the outside that will help little hands grasp the slippery outsides without slipping. It’s not that hard, you just have to give it a little thought.
It isn’t that hard to give children tools they need to grow strong and capable, and confident. You give them concepts, you give them knowledge, you give them practice. You also give them a sport, something that will teach them how their body moves and how to bring it under their own control, so that when they reach their teen-aged years, they will move with grace and have learned self-restraint. :-)
One King’s Lane is also where I found the fabulous bathtub I showed you. I still yearn for this tub!
And today, oh my sweet heaven, I found a pair of bookshelves I can barely restrain myself from ordering. They are beautiful, and unlike anything I would find in Pensacola, and oh! They hold books!
“Are you catching colds?” our friend asked as the funeral ended.
“No, no, I said, funerals just find us very vulnerable, and we have to deal with losses, past, present . . . and future. We have an ongoing fight over who is going to bury whom.”
We did not know the man well who had died, but we knew him as a stalwart. He was a greeter and usher at our service, and he was only rarely ever not there. He served the church. He was always there. I had asked his wife to help me with tickets, and she had laughed and said “of course, I’ll be there because my husband will be there, and if you need me just holler.”
They weren’t there. It made me uneasy, it nagged at me. I didn’t need her, but I missed her, and as I said – they are ALWAYS there. Sometimes it’s what is missing that catches your attention. It caught mine.
When I learned her husband had died, suddenly and unexpectedly, just as the Antique Fair was starting, it came almost as a physical blow. It’s not that I knew him that well. It’s that his presence at the church was something we took for granted, he was stalwart. You could count on him. We attended out of respect, respect for him, support for his wife.
And I know that the two of them spend (spent) as much time together as AdventureMan and I do. I don’t like to think that it could happen to me, that I could be suddenly left. AdventureMan was a military man, he would often leave, all these years, and he might tell me where he was going but I never knew for sure where he was going. We had a code to use if he was lying, but although he never used the code, I know there are times he lied, all for that bitch, national security. Yes, yes, I know, strong language from Intlxpatr, but strong times call for strong language. We both knew that there were times when there was a risk he wouldn’t come back.
We didn’t have to deal with death a lot in our life abroad. Of course, in the military, everyone is young. In all the countries where we worked in the Gulf, there were upper age limits – people retired and people left; you can’t live out your years in Qatar or Kuwait, there are laws against it. You can’t even be buried there without special permission. We learned to deal with the losses of people coming into our lives and leaving, but we didn’t have to deal with the great finality of death. We’re learning.
AdventureMan insists he is going to go first. I am tough in a lot of ways, but I don’t know that I am tough enough to go through his funeral. The very thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.
He tells me not to worry. He wants a Viking funeral; he wants to be sent out in a kerosene soaked ship and for archers to set it on fire as it sails off, disintegrating in flames. Isn’t going to happen, AdventureMan, but if it did, I might give some thought to pitching myself on the ship as it departs . . . otherwise, I’m afraid I might live the rest of my life as the one of the walking wounded.
“What do you mean?” I asked the elegant grinning lady who was asking me the question. Three former military wives, one Army, one Air Force and one Navy, and we had been talking about our world-wide lives and adventures.
“How are you doing? You haven’t been here long. Are you managing to settle in?” asked with enormous sympathy.
She caught me off guard.
Yes, I am happy. I’ve settled in. I have friends. I’m connected.
But her question caught me off guard, and all of a sudden I couldn’t answer.
“I’m doing OK” I managed to start. “But it’s like this church. I love this church, and at the same time, there are times I walk in and oh, how I miss our churches in the Middle East, where I would walk in and think ‘this is what heaven must look like’ especially at Christmas, with all the Indian families in their saris and finery, and the Africans in their brocades and elaborate head-dresses, and the people from all over the world. The music was simpler, and at the Christmas Eve service, we sang ‘Silent Night’ in every language in the church . . . I miss that.”
There are times the memories catch me unaware, and leave me breathless.
AdventueMan and I went grocery shopping today and when the cashier told me the total, AdventureMan almost gasped. I just laughed and told him that’s why I never took him grocery shopping with me in Kuwait – the sticker shock would have killed him.
Life here is definitely easier.
On the other hand, we have had to revise our ideas about Kuwait drivers. At first, we just thought there were a lot of Kuwaitis living in Pensacola; now we have realized that there are people who just drive as they please. Some of them are stoned out of their minds. I witnessed an accident last week where when I checked the driver of the car that was hit, she grinned at me loopily – and then disappeared. It was bizarre, and I wonder how many people are on the roads as impaired as she was. She went right through a stop sign as if it weren’t even there, and if the car had hit 6 inches more forward, she would have been dead. She didn’t have a scratch. And she was not at all concerned, just that loopy grin. “Elegantly wasted” said the driver of the car who hit her.
We both have a lot going on. With connection comes commitment and obligation. We try to coordinate our schedules at the beginning of the week so we can help one another out. The highlight is that each afternoon I am taking care of our new little granddaughter. AdventureMan/Baba often comes by and naps in the peaceful environment just to be with us. She is a sweet, laughing little baby, never very fussy. He offers me a day off, which occasionally I take, or he takes a time when I have a meeting or an appointment. We have both discovered how very much we like the ‘work’ of grandparenting. :-)
We’re managing. :-)
Don’t you love technology? It’s like working on a complex puzzle, and all of a sudden seeing how disparate pieces relate :-) This is a fascinating discovery from AOL/Huffpost:
Ancient DNA Linked To Living Descendants In Genetic Study
The Huffington Post | By Macrina Cooper-White Posted: 07/09/2013 2:24 pm EDT | Updated: 07/09/2013 9:12 pm EDT
What if you could trace your ancestry back to around 5,000 years ago? Researchers were able to do just that in a fascinating new DNA study, which found adirect genetic link between the ancient remains of Native Americans and their living relatives.
“It’s very exciting to be able to have scientific proof that corroborates what our ancestors have been telling us for generations,” study co-author and participant Joycelynn Mitchell said in a written statement. “It’s very amazing how fast technology is moving to be able to prove this kind of link with our past.”
In the study, U.S. and Canadian researchers used mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) sequencing to analyze DNA inherited exclusively through mothers. Looking at the mitogenome is cheap, easier to sequence than nuclear DNA, and skirts around the problem that European men mixed with Native American women.
The researchers collected DNA from 60 living indigenous people belonging to the Tsimshian, Haida and Nisga’a tribes in the northern coast of British Columbia. The tribes’ oral histories and archaeological sites indicate they have lived in the region for generations, which made them good candidates for tracing their lineage back so many years.
Complete mitogenomes were extracted from the remains of four Mid-Holocene individuals found in British Columbia’s Lucy Islands and Dodge Island, and then that information was compared to the DNA of the study participants.
What was found? The research team discovered one of the living individuals carried this same “mitogenomic signature” as a young adult female who lived on Dodge Island 2,500 years ago — which also matched the mitogenome of the remains of a woman who lived in the Lucy Islands 5,500 years ago. Wow.
Three other living participants had mitogenomes that linked back to the remains of another individual found on Dodge Island, who may have lived around 5,000 years ago.
“This is the beginning of the golden era for ancient DNA research because we can do so much now that we couldn’t do a few years ago because of advances in sequencing technologies,” study co-author Dr. Ripan Malhi, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois and Institute for Genomic Biology professor, said in a written statement. “We’re just starting to get an idea of the mitogenomic diversity in the Americas, in the living individuals as well as the ancient individuals.”
The new study was published online on June 3, 2013 in the journal PLoSONE.
“We’ve started the count-down calendar,” said my beautiful and very pregnant daughter-in-law, “We have so many things we want to get done before the baby comes.”
We were gathered at one of our favorite casual lunch places, a place where we could eat well and our 3 year old could be both free to roam a little, and safe to roam, while the grown-ups talked.
“We’ve started, too,” I smiled at her, “I need to finish up her baby quilt, and two quilts for the homeless project I have due in September. And of course, we will be out of the loop the last two weeks before she is born, so I need to keep motivated now.” I know she will call on me once the new baby is here; I am the back-up, the “can you fix dinner / wash the dishes / hold the baby while I shower / clean up the baby spit / run to the grocery store/ feed the cats” person. I love it. It’s why we moved here, to be here when they need us, when they need the help. Being close to family, being there to help when they need the help – this is one of the great lessons we learned from our friends in Amman, in Kuwait, in Doha, in Tunis.
We also have an Alaska adventure in store, planned before any of us knew the new baby was en route. It’s not Africa, but we aren’t up for another of those 17 hour rides from Atlanta to Johannesburg this year. Alaska will be fun, a sentimental journey back to my origins for me, and a whole new environment for AdventureMan.
“We’ll also have the school break to cover,” beautiful D-I-L added, “but I know there is going to be a cousin’s camp; I just don’t know when it is going to be.”
Cousins camp – oh what fun. All the little like-aged cousins get together for a week of hell-bent-for-leather activities, from water parks to fire departments to scavenger hunts, they keep those little rascals so busy that they just fall into bed at night. It’s all good.
“I know it’s all going to fall into place,” she sighed, smiling at our son, “but we need that calendar to keep us on track.”
Yeh. Us too!
I don’t know that this has been studied closely, or that there is any evidence supporting the theory, but it is a hilarious theory – blame men for menopause!
By: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Published: 06/13/2013 05:04 PM EDT on LiveScience
Ladies, here’s one more thing you can blame on men: menopause. At least, that’s according to a new theory.
Women go through menopause because men have consistently preferred younger women in recent evolutionary history, according to a study published today (June 13) in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.Thus, menopause is not evolutionarily advantageous and may be the result of a series of random, harmful mutations that accumulated in women but weren’t acted on by evolution because the women had already reproduced by the time the mutations affected them.
“Our first assumption is that mating in humans is not random with respect to age, which means men of all ages prefer to mate with younger women,” said study co-author Rama Singh, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University in Canada. “If mating is with younger women, any deleterious mutations which affect women’s reproduction later in life will accumulate because they are not being acted on by natural selection.”
Menopause, in which women stop menstruating and become infertile, has been a long-standing puzzle for biologists: Why would evolution have led to a trait that essentially reduces the reproductive potential of an animal?
Most other animals don’t go through menopause (although killer whales do). Even chimpanzees, humans’ closest living relatives, seem to reproduce into old age in the wild, and males even prefer older females.
Biologists have proposed the grandmother hypothesis to explain the conundrum. The hypothesis holds that menopause allows a grandmother who is done rearing her own kids to help rear the young of her children, thereby increasing the survival odds of her grandkids, and therefore, her genes.
But grandchildren and grandparents share just a quarter of their genes, versus half for children and their parents, so menopause would have to dramatically boost survival of grandchildren to be evolutionarily advantageous. Past studies have shown that maternal grandmothers boost their grandkids’ survival rates, though exactly how much depends on the society.
For thousands of years (at least), men have, on average, mated with younger women, Singh said.
That’s because, if all else is equal, “those who reproduce earlier, their genes are passed on faster,” Singh told LiveScience.
So the researchers created a computer simulation to model that preference.
Early on, both men and women in the model reproduced until death. But over time, the model found, men’s preference for youth reduced older women’s odds of reproducing.
Simultaneously, people accumulated random mutations, some of which decreased later-life reproductive ability. But since older women were left out in the cold anyways, those mutations didn’t impact their reproductive success, whereas mutations in men that could reduce late-life reproduction were weeded out. (Men who stopped reproducing at some point in life would produce fewer offspring than those who didn’t, and the late reproducers would outcompete those who stopped breeding earlier.)
Over 50,000 to 100,000 years, the accumulation of all those mutations could have led to universal menopause, the researchers suggest. Menopause would then be another form of aging akin to graying hair or wrinkles.
If later childbearing becomes the norm, as current societal trends suggest, women who can reproduce at older ages might gain an evolutionary advantage, and menopause could, in theory be pushed later, Singh said.But it’s more plausible that technological changes such as fertility treatments will artificially extend women’s ability to reproduce, Singh said.
But the new model might have the causation reversed, wrote Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah, who was not involved in the study, in an email to LiveScience.
As human life spans increased, women might have had many healthy years after fertility. As a result, men grew to prefer younger women because older women couldn’t reproduce.
Supporting that hypothesis, female chimpanzees see their egg reserves decline around the same age as human females, Hawkes noted. But unlike humans, they die shortly after this age, whereas humans have decades of healthy life left.
“The preference men have for young partners is a striking contrast with other primates,” Hawkes said. “My guess about that has been it’s a consequence of our life history.”