Friday, February 9, 2018

Chase That Happy, II

What little things make YOU happy?

Neighborhoods where the houses look different from one another.
Bright juicy oranges on cold grey winter days.
When Theo prays that we will be able to avoid "dastardly sins".
Naps with cats.

Mae calling me "Mama Pig," with a sparkle in her eye.
Chocolate cake.
Hearing kids in another room, playing and laughing with each other.
Ant spray.

When Keeley says, "you know what? I like you."
When something makes me laugh out loud.
Spring time
Going to the movies

Board games
Chocolate. Good Chocolate.
When I impersonate Elvis.

Mae singing me skidamarink-a-dink
Underdogs winning
Old men wearing hats
Waking up to surprise snow
Drinking beverages out of goblets

warm water on cold days
my older kids
my younger kids (in a totally different way)
slow motion humans put to cool music
clever scriptures you never noticed before
sydneys art

Monday, January 29, 2018

Peekaboo, ICU

Jerry’s surgery at UCLA was a big, scary event that had surprisingly happy moments mixed in as well. In no particular order, here are some memories from the week:

-          The Safe House. Vivian somehow managed to find an apartment 2 blocks away from the hospital. By the second day we had worked out an elaborate short cut where if you went across the hospital gardens, through the parking garage, around the corner, through a maze of identical hallways and entered a code on an unmarked door you would find yourself in a perfectly staged apartment of brown suede couches and tasteful window coverings. The safe house felt…safe.
-          We played Trivia Crack in the pre-op area to pass the time and keep everyone from thinking too much about what was to come. The pre-op area did not feel safe.
-          Initially Jerry’s surgery was scheduled for 5am, but it got pushed back and back. He didn’t go into the OR until almost 3pm, which meant that we didn’t see him again until 930 pm and we didn’t get back to the safe house that night until almost 2am. That was a long day.
-          BUT, seeing Jerry in the ICU that night was delightful. Everyone was a little bit giddy with relief to see him awake and OK and so very Jerry. He told knock knock jokes. He expressed his love for each Ashby sister individually. He sassed the nurse. At one point, after a particularly dry joke the nurse looked at him quizzically, trying to figure out if he was kidding. Eventually she tilted her head to one side, narrowed her eyes and said, “I’m going to write down ‘humor- intact.’”
-          There was a moment when Jerry stood up in his hospital gown and I averted my eyes to avoid any impropriety. A few minutes later he said, “Carrie, I have a song for you,” and he serenaded me with Chicago’s ‘Look Away’. (If you see me walkin by, and the tears are in my eyes, look away, baby, look away…)

-          While playing trivia, Jerry knew an answer about the Michal Jackson song ‘Smooth Criminal’. We were so impressed that we decided we would ask him the same question after the surgery to see if he still had it. He did.

-          One of his nurses was named Natalia and she had a thick Ukranian accent. At one point after Claire had arrived, Jerry asked for another pillow. The nurse nodded and then said, “You haf all dees women here,” (gesturing at all of us). We weren’t sure what she meant by that exactly.

-          The Magic Helmet. After his surgery, Jerry had a truly impressively gauze-wrapped head. The bandage came to just below his eyebrows and made it look like he was wearing an igloo on his head. It was somehow really adorable.

-          While waiting for Jerry to get out of surgery, we decided to get some dinner. Vivian suggested Korean BBQ. I was concerned that having a BBQ while Jerry was in the OR was a little too close to singing karaoke while your husband is getting a spinal tap (I’ve made that mistake before). But there was no actual BBQ at the Korean BBQ, so that seemed OK after all.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Art Reincarnated

In preparation for their trip to the Netherlands over Christmas, Carrie asked our friend Elliott if he would give the Gregory family an art history lesson via Google Video so they could learn a bit about the art they’d see. One of the pieces he covered was The Feast of St Nicholas by Jan Steen, a piece that exemplifies a popular trend from that time period in which the scenes depicted serve as warning against vice. In this piece, we see a greedy child who won’t share, her sobbing brother who has been naughty, a drunk father, a creepy grandma, food and debris strewn around, etc. etc.

Carrie made a joke about how “our family could serve as a warning against vice” and thus the idea to recreate the painting was conceived. It’s amazing how willing everyone was to participate and how quickly it all came together - Carrie decided who was going to play which part, everyone helped find their own costume and rearrange the dining room, Beth and Sydney directed us, Sarah outperformed everyone, and I did minimal photoshop edits. And thus the masterpiece was reborn:

Presenting our “living tableau” to Elliott for Christmas was so satisfying. He loved it so much he was at first speechless, then he couldn't stop talking about it. His only critique: "You know what's missing? The vice. Everyone in your family is just filled with too much goodness." He says he's going to share this in all his art history classes.

I thought that was the end of it, but then I decided to jump on a current fad where you use the Google Arts and Culture app to take a selfie and have your face analyzed to see what piece of artwork you look like. Guess what result I got?

A self-portrait of Jan Steen, painter of the Feast of St Nicholas! I like to think Google face analytics stared into my soul and saw that since I helped recreate his painting, a little bit of Jan is reborn in me.

But also, I do kind of look like him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Christmas Card that Wasn't

I didn't get a Christmas Card sent this year, but if I had it would have been something like this:

A quote to sum up the year, for each Gregory family member...
Chris: "Pun, pun, joke, unhelpful advice." -Lucy, summarizing Chris's parenting style
Carrie: "Mom, your answer for most things is to throw money at it and then take a nap." -Theo
Lucy: "I would like to be a housecat because they're a lot like me- they just want to lie on the couch and judge you."
Theo: (Carrie, exasperated) "THEO! Do you just get everything you want?!" (Theo, genuinely puzzled) "Well yes, but that's because I have reasonable goals."

We wish the best for all of you and your reasonable goals in 2018.


I had this question in one of my classes. I keep changing my mind "oh, this is a good song." "oh, this is a good one too." " I know I'm not thinking of some classics." Imagine that you are about to be shipwrecked on a deserted island for the next thirty years. You are given an iPod-it has unlimited solar powered batteries, but only enough space for five pieces of music. What will you load on this iPod?
“ Wake Up” by The Vamps
“Come go with Me” by The Del-Vikings.
"Alligator Stroll" by Josh Turner
“Act my age” by One Direction.
"House Party" by Sam Hunt

Phew, this is a hard question. 

Fantasie Improptu, by Chopin. Made me cry re-listening to it just now.
Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, by Bob Dylan
Where The Streets Have No Name, by U2. Best intro to any song, ever, in my opinion.
Crazy, by Patsy Cline. Because it's a fantastic song and I love her voice, and that's what I'd be after listening to only 5 songs for 30 years. 

-The Star Wars theme song, because I think jumping around on the beach in time with it might keep me busy for a really long time.
-Rhapsody in Blue
-The Anglerfish by Hank Green, because it would keep me from curling up into a ball and dying.
-Ride by 21 Pilots because I could think about the lyrics for a long time and I could sing it real loud so passing ships could hear me.
-Feel it Still, by Portugal the Man. Because have you listened/danced to that song?

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
Imitosis- Andrew Bird
Trouble- Ray LaMontagne
Birdhouse in Your Soul- They Might Be Giants
Galileo- Indigo Girls

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fancy Dinner?

Last Saturday I went to dinner with Dad and Kathy to their friends Alan and Nancy. We get there and the table is set with nice plates with chargers, napkins, fancy glasses ect. They ask who wants wine even. I think "oh, this is a nice dinner, napkin in your lap and wait for everyone to sit down kinda dinner." So out comes the salad: asian pears with pomegranate seeds and poppy seed dressing. Then comes dinner: cooked spinach with mashed potatoes on top and then that topped with grilled salmon. We make conversation and I was proud of my self because I could contribute with an NPR story I heard just that morning about Czech christmas tradition of  having carp and Nancy had heard the same thing and it turned out that her mother was czech she even had some of the blue dishes that they talked about. Go me. So we all ate and then Nancy said I thought we could watch a movie and then during intermission we can have dessert. Oh man what is dessert going to be? I said that I had to go,  sorry I was going to miss this fancy thing, and she said, "oh, take it with you then." She pulled out a box of drum sticks and handed me one. I laughed and said, "I see you worked really hard on dessert." She laughed as well and said, "yeah, it was a whole drive to the store"  So I guess you can be fancy and not at the same time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snail Mail

Hal's been enjoying sending mail, lately. Except he doesn't address it correctly, and he rarely puts stamps on it. He draws them on, instead. But he loves the idea. It's led to a funny conversation with our mailman, when I don't pull them back out of the mailbox in time. ("Should I .... answer them?" He's so nice.)

Anyway, last Sunday we'd taken two cars to church, and I ended up leaving with the kids about 15 minutes early, so we got home before Gordon by just a bit. Hal was concerned Gordon might wonder where we were, so he got to work right away, without any help from me. :)

Addressed to "Gordon- Church of God". Notice the stamp.

And inside was the note that said "Dad we god home", as in "We went home."

I tried telling him that Gordon was already on his way home, but he didn't want to hear it. 

I love this kid. Hopefully the mailman doesn't hate him.