Thursday, April 21, 2011


Passover always bring interesting events and discussions in our house. The first year that the kids went to the Jewish preschool involved Jonathan putting on a loin cloth looking thing, harnessing himself to the coffee table, and dragging it around proclaiming he was a Hebrew Slave. He had barely made the growth chart and still had the scrawny preemie look so the effect was dramatic. That spring both kids spent a lot of time explaining to anyone who would listen that “our people were slaves.” This seemed politically problematic in central Virgina. The following year they dressed up regularly as Pharaoh and Cleopatra. Rebecca one year embraced Mirium, which as a feminist I have to support. But I have to admit I could live without the tumbrel accompanying every gesture and we don’t need a douser in our house—at least not the time that imports spewing waters at every possible moment. The combo of a fetish for Roman fountains and Miriam turned our house into a flood zone. This year things are a little more complicated. We got off to a bad start when Jonathan refused to put his book away during the Seder and screamed that this was a holiday of freedom. At this point every household rule is met from one or the other of them with something like “our people marched in the desert for 40 years for freedom.” Yesterday I decided to start explaining the difference between anarchy and freedom and suggested De Toquiville as bedtime reading. And somehow this all led to a discourse from the twins to their cousin Hannah on Hitler, Hitler’s potential suicide, why he hated Jews, and who other tyrants in History were. Jonathan jumped directly to Ramses the second (of course) and Rebecca kindly explained to her cousin that there was genocide in Burundi.

We’ve had a week of musical family, making me wish tha my sister lived closer and that the Charlottesville schools would just once in a while have a day off around a Jewish holiday…. We had the seder at my parents house with my sister and her three kids and then traded our little one for her big one. Jacob, Eli, and Ethan are 3,4 and 5 and come off as tweedle dumb, tweedle dumber, and tweedle dumbest. We took Hannah back with us which left us with two eight year olds and a 6.5 year old.

Meanwhile the countdown to China continues—twenty one days til blast off.. Today’s project involved a massive toy organization and house clean because we will get home about a week before classes start. My sister who got every single organizational gene in from our pool leaving me with none led the charge and was amazing. I’ve started gathering food to mail with Manuel’s lab equipment. I’m a little worried about what Jonathan will eat—he mostly eats bread, cheese and milk. And after years of feeding therapy, failure to thrive etc.. I’ve basically stopped worrying about it but his will present new challenges. I’ve got a nice collection of travel games and madlibs put together. We’re living in what looks to be a pretty modern three-bedroom house. The pictures look kind of pagoda meets cheezy hotel. However it does not have potable water. There is a town that we can bike to which has tons of people in it but is very rural—it’s a shop in a market kind of place not go to the grocery store. I’m also trying to organize my work just in case I get to do some.

Between Passover and China prep it’s been pretty much a no work week other than the continued saga of the Vatican slow—as—molasses--permission office. I’m trying to do something related to the book every day even if it’s nothing more than a translation or reading a related book. This weeks came with a little bonus. I discovered in the bowels of my computer that while waiting for books at the Vatican the last time I was there I seem to have translated the whole of Michael Todini’s Dichiaratione delta Galeria Armonica. I don’t remember doing this one in particular but I do remember sitting in the library fuming over waiting for books, being told I couldn’t have a book etc.. and f violently translating things I thought might be useful. I did it very sloppily and failed to transcribe any of it, which makes it relatively useless for publication. But I found some great little snippets where he explains just how dangerous building a musette can be, the ways that Kircher was completely wrong, and the problems of moving instruments up and down stairs.

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