Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Sunday, I helped a friend build a patio in his back yard. Since the Monkey Mama and I are planning to do a minor-to-major project in the backyard this summer, I thought it would be a good idea to help him in expectation of his help later. Plus, it's always nice to help out a friend...especially if the weather is fine.

It's kind of like a backyard home improvement cooperative. Back in the 1970s, my parents entered into a mutual roofing society. I don't know if they called it a cooperative, but that was the idea.

The cooperative spirit is in the air. The Petworth Parents list-serv will be debating a babysitting cooperative soon. Parents will alternate babysitting with going out for an evening. (And since the kids in plagroup are fun, both options are pretty appealing.) And I was talking with a neighbor today about a potential nanny-share situation.

The rigors of child-rearing force parents to be creative and down-to-earth. It's no wonder that "Co-Op-Er-Ation" is one of the first lessons they teach in Sesame Street.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Today in WTF...

By my calculations, it takes 200 cubic feet of water to cover my basement 3 inches deep:

20 ft wide X 40 feet long X .25 feet deep == 200 cubic feet

At 7.48 gallons/cubic foot, this is approximately equal to 1500 gallons of water.

But where did it come from? My water heater holds 50 gallons, and I drained my boiler in April. When I turned off the main, there was no noticeable change in sound: no cessation of rushing water in particular. The DC Water and Sewer Authority has reported no problems in my area.

Is it possible that water is coming up through cracks in the basement slab?

It's a real puzzler.


Update: The water main next door has been leaking since Thursday. Their front yard is a sodden sponge that soaked at least three basements on the block. The claims adjuster comes tomorrow. And I was right about the slab.

2d Update: Now the two insurance companies (mine and my neighbors') are battling to see which one will get the opportunity to screw me. I feel a profanity coming on...

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The boy said "duck." He even matched the word by pointing out a picture of a duck in a book.

In other news, I took him to the petting zoo at the National Zoo. He no longer needs to take my word for it that cows go "moo," that chickens go "bawk bawk ba-bawk," and goats go "bahn-hanh-hanh."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Remembering a friend

A friend of the family passed away Monday, too young.

We are remembering him, and his family is in our thoughts.

Painter Guy

I took the Monkey out around to the front of the house, where the painters are working on our exterior. The painter says "I almost didn't recognize the boy. Usually when I see him he's got food all over his face."

Yeah, whatever. Everytime I see the painter, he's got paint on his clothes. What's his point.

Anyway, we go back inside: it's time for lunch.

(Kidding aside, if anyone in DC needs a recommendation for a house painter, leave a comment by clicking on the timestamp. They're good and cheap -- albeit not overly fast.)

Monday, May 15, 2006


Last week, the Monkey fell asleep in my arms at 9:30am for his morning nap with no milk and a soiled cloth diaper.

Today, he was tired at 9:30am but didn't take a nap until after noon, despite the advantages of a full, milky belly and a dry disposable diaper. And it's not like I'm new at this, either.

Ultimately, I guess that's one reason why people have a tough time listening to economists: no matter how hard they try to identify relationships among significant factors surrounding human behavior, the real world doesn't always agree.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day out there to all you mothers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Monkey Business

This is serious Monkey business.

The Monkey was playing in the front room, kind of rolling around all wrapped up in the squirrel monkey stuffed toy that my friend Tobey bought him at the zoo.

I asked him, "where's the monkey?"

And he grabbed the toy, shook it all around, and then went back to playing (with a big smile on his face).

Clearly this has profound implications.

Friday Random 10

All the cool bloggers post 10 random songs from their iPod on Fridays. I don't have an iPod, but these came off my computer:

1. Old Country Fairytale, Edgar Meyer/Mark O'Connor/Yo-Yo Ma
2. Three hours, Nick Drake
3. Lowlands, Gillian Welch
4. Budo, Miles Davis
5. Otto Arrow, 24fps
6. Fillipino Box Spring Hog, Tom Waits
7. Chocolate Jesus, Tom Waits
8. Zambra Granadina, Andres Segovia
9. Rouge, Miles Davis
10. If I Needed Someone, The Beatles

Thursday, May 11, 2006


The birthday dinner was at Komi (follow link for a minimally informative website). A post at Chowhounds forum from "2 Foodies visiting from NYC for One Night!" suggested that the one must-eat restaurant in DC was Komi. And our roommate recommended it. 2 Amys would have been good, too: all casual, olive oily and good. But the Monkey Mama was dressed to the nines, so to Komi we went.

Anyhoo, it's on 17th Street just south of the Fox & Hounds. We had a drink of Turkish wine at an outdoor bistro to celebrate the weather -- most places seem to put their best foot forward in the month of May, do they not? And then we went into Komi. It being Wednesday, a reservation was unnecessary.

The service was great, with three or four servers making an appearance at some point or another. The detailed descriptions went by a little fast, especially since half the words were foreign, but the emphasis was on communication of all the yummy stuff and enjoying our experience. ("Would you like that with the entree, or as sort of a midcourse?" "As a midcourse, please.")

  • Amuse Buche: Salted dates stuffed with mascarpone (salt + sweet = great, but the cheese kind of vanished)
  • Appetizers: Mixed plate. Great, great. Weird bruschettas with fish roe. Fried unidentifiable good things. Roasted olives to cleanse the palate. Other good news. Great.
  • Midcourse: Ravioli with soft cheese and something else. What I really remember is the texture of the ravioli: weepingly perfect. Any joker with a toque can put interesting flavors together. But to compose the ravioli and cook it perfectly, supple and oily and al dente at the same time? You can't fake that. Perhaps the best pasta (qua pasta) I've ever had.
  • Main: Salt-crusted roast fish (Sea bass? It was in Italian, so I don't remember) for two. Presented to the table in its crust with the head on, and then filleted (elsewhere) and served with spicy spring greens and fingerling potatoes on the side. The fish was great...I'll have to leave it at that.
  • Dessert: Doughnuts with a chocolate mousse dipping sauce. Seriously, the doughnut was good like the ravioli. It had a range of doneness at various parts of the doughnut, from darker to lighter to a hint of doughiness. It's ridiculous to rhapsodize about a doughnut, but there you have it.
  • Sparkling white wine from Campania. It tasted kind of sun-roasted, almost like a Cotes Roti Cotes du Rhone, but sparkling white wine instead of plain red wine. Far out. Campania contains the Naples/Amalfi region, where the Monkey Mama and I spent part of our honeymoon.
  • Sardinian white wine. Excellent. Kind of like red apple -- not the tart green kind, but caramel and sweet instead.
  • The Monkey Mama had a Greek santo vinsanto, which was surpisingly red. It reminded me of the the vinsanto we had in the Tuscan portion of our honeymoon.
In short, the meal at Komi cracks my Best Lifetime Meals list somewhere in the Top 5. It might have wrecked our household finances for a paycheck or two, but it reminded us of our honeymoon, and --hey, it was my birthday.

Fairweather Sailor

I was going to head over to Annapolis this afternoon to crew on my friend's racing sailboat.

But there was rain, lightning, and a tornado watch.

Maybe next time!


On Tuesday, I took the Monkey to Turtle Park. It's over in Tenleytown/Friendship Heights, a world away from our neighborhood. It had fantastic equipment, fresh wood chips, and new sand. It's hard to believe we pay the same property tax (rates).

The Monkey and I circled the Park in the car, and then walked around it. I was wary, trying to figure out the new anthropoligical scene. The Monkey was wide-eyed, not wary but trying to figure out something else. Lots of polyglot nannies. Lots of well-heeled moms. Some talking into their cell phone hands-free sets whilst their charges played. It was hard to see how the Monkey and I were going to fit in.

I took him to the swingset first. He'd been on a swing before, but this time, he really opened up. He was laughing like crazy with each pendulum arc. As he got closest to me, his wrinkled-nose smile and jubilant laughter reached a peak. Then he swung back...and closer to me again! Back...and close again! Man, this thing is great! (I was maybe a little more jaded about swingset operation, but I enjoyed the novelty vicariously through him.) Sometimes I would bring my face up close to his on his closest approach (perismile? perimonkey? perimonkeydaddy?). Other times I would tickle his feet. Oh, how he laughed.

Sometimes I had to quiet the swing and mellow him out: it was pretty intense. But he was glad to get going again, so we swung away.

I struck up a conversation with the mother of the 1-year-old in the next swing. She was very friendly -- not stuck up, like I was kind of expecting from the neighborhood. She asked if the Monkey had ever been in the sandbox. I said no. She reassured me that he would be alright, so we went over. (But first I went back to the car to get a sippy cup of water, anticipating the virtual certainty of sand in the Monkey's mouth.)

The sandbox was huge: 40 feet square, and filled with white sand. And there were tons of buckets, shovels, dumptrucks, and the like. So many that sharing should not have been an issue -- although it was (of course). There were permanent toys, and concrete turtles, and other fun stuff.

The sand felt weird beneath the Monkey's feet: I told him it would, and I was right. But he adjusted. He sat right down, made himself at home, and played nicely with the other 1-year-old. I chatted with his mother, and she told me what to expect from the park. We also talked about stay-at-home parenting. At one point she was discussing her son's transition to one nap per day, but broke off and said "I won't bore you with the details." And I said "Not at all! That's my life!"

Eventually the two of them left. And who should take their place, but that rara avis...a stay-at-home dad! I chatted with him for a while, and appreciated the difference in the interaction. Less talkin', more slidin', I guess. (Maybe it was because he was a Texan.) It was reassuring to know there was at least one more stay-at-home dad out there.

The Iron Law of Blog Productivity

Blog output is inversely proportional to blog input.

In other words, the more you read the less you write.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monkey Daddy Birthday

Wednesday I transition from being Larry Bird (33) to Walter Payton (34).

I'll take it.


This weekend was a picnic hosted by the childbirth educators that helped the Monkey Mama and me prepare for birth. We got to see 3 of the other 6 parents from our class, and 2 of the babies (a year old now!) that were in utero during the class. It was a nice reunion.

But WiseBirthWays is celebrating their 5th anniversary, so there were other parents and children of different classes. Most of the children are older than our Monkey, although there were a few little ones around. There was a great vibe to the picnic: lots of cools moms and dads, and lots of happy babies. And children! (They grow up so fast.)

Bad Metro Riders

Arriving home by Metro, I usually try to ride in the car that stops closest to the Metro exit I plan to use. At my home Metro stop there is only one exit, so I ride near the back of the train so I don't have to walk along the platform more than necessary.

About half the metro riders got out where I did: near the exit. The other half were scattered up and down the platform. Perhaps they just caught the train, and so were unable to position themselves appropriately in the train? Or perhaps they are relaxed and don't care? Or perhaps all the riders like me made the desirable cars too crowded?

Or perhaps they are Bad Metro Riders, ignorant of the possibilities.

Fort Totten

Weekends, I get kicked out of bed at 6am to take care of the Monkey. This way, the Monkey Mama can sleep in until 9am or so, to make up for night nursings and early risings during the week. I do not begrudge the Monkey Mama these early morning hours. But 6am is no joke.

These days, dawn is right around 6am, and the birds were chirping. There are clouds of migratory birds passing through the region. So I made a pot of coffee, saddled up the Monkey, and drove him (and the dog) to Fort Totten Park.

The park itself isn't much: a 1/4 mile horseshoe road that goes by two green fields, 3 picnic tables, and a trash can. But at the apex of the horseshoe, the road dips into a surprisingly dense forest. Mature oaks set the upper limit of the canopy 100 feet in the air, and the understory is dense and unkempt. In fact, it is one of the wildest looking places I know of in DC. (Even the forested sections of Rock Creek Park seem manicured by comparison.)

That forest was alive with birds. We couldn't see them, but they were loud. And the dawn light was very pretty through the spring green forest.

It felt good to move the body at such an unaccustomed hour.

The fort was part of a network of "Circle Forts" that ringed the perimeter of Washington, DC during the Civil War. (Some of them even saw fighting!) Off the short road in the park, the earthworks of the old fort are visible. Either that, or someone took pains to build a gnarly BMX course.

We came back, I fed the Monkey, and we played for a while. Then I strapped him on my back again and he rode along while I pushed our reel mower over the front and back lawns. When the Monkey Mama woke up, I vacuumed the house.

Since we've had the Boy, I get more done before 9am than most people do all day...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Watch the Birdie

The Monkey has a mobile of painted carboard birds that hovers over his crib. Occasionally, when the Monkey Mama or I takes him out of the crib, we hold him there and blow on the birds to spin them around. Now the Monkey is imitating us.

Only he is still working on the finer points. For one, he doesn't purse his lips to blow so much as make an opening in the corner of his mouth. (It looks kind of like where Popeye would put his pipe.) And for another, he inhales sharply rather than blowing out.

He gives it everything he's got, though. Cute li'l Monkey.

In a previous post I've already mentioned the bamboo-and-coconut wind chime out the back door. File that in the same "Things That Hang Down that I Love to Play With" category. Today he gave that thing the biggest rattling it's ever received.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Developmental Signs

Here are some signs the Monkey is developing:
  • He points to things that he wants to visit. (Like the bamboo/coconut windchime on the back porch, which he likes to bang around and make marimba-like sounds with.)
  • I say "Let's go play with the train," and he crawls across the room and picks the train out of a jumble of other toys.
  • He vocalizes protest -- say, when I take a toy away long enough to fit him into the car seat -- instead of mutely accepting everything.
  • He knows where things are when I mention them by name, even if they're not in sight.

Visit from Friends

Wow, what a great visit from friends.

Their main intent on visiting us in DC was to acquaint themselves with the Monkey. And with few specifics on the agenda, we were free to accomplish that in whatever way we liked. For instance, the Monkey got his groove on at the 18th Street Lounge on Friday night (until the Monkey Mama took him home early). And we went for a picnic at the Zoo on yet another beautiful day.

The weekend was unstructured, so we could bounce from activity to activity as slowly or quickly as we liked. And these visiting friends prompted visits from other local friends whom we see too seldom anyway.

I guess that's what friends are for: to share great times like that.

Thin posting

I apologize for the thin posting of late. I keep starting to write a post about how I'm ready to hang up the stay-at-home dad role and go back to work full-time.

It's a hard post to finish.