Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reasons Why Not

So, if I want kids so badly, why don't I have them? Well, as they say, it takes two to tango.

When my husband and I got married, we were very young. So young that people have told me (quite ouside of anything that's any of their business) that we were too young. We were told all the reasons our marriage couldn't work. I was 21 while he was 23. I'm outgoing while he's shy and reclusive. He's a C programmer, I liked Fortran. He used emacs, I used vi. But I digress. However, we're both stubborn, and though we've had some really rough patches along the way (years five through eight were nearly unbearable), we've managed to stay together. We'd been dating two weeks when we first talked about kids, and found we were much on the same page. We both wanted kids and felt like 3 was a good number (we are both the oldest of 3 kids), but that we didn't want to rush into these things. We would wait until he finished grad school, so he'd have time to devote to them, too, and that all seemed reasonable to me. And then grad school took two years longer than expected. And then he wasn't sure whether he wanted to stay at UT after graduation. Then it was maybe we should look for a different house because ours clearly wasn't big enough. Based on his increasing spiral into depression, I pushed him to take this job out here in California. And then he didn't like his job and thought he'd quit and we could just move somewhere we (read "he") wanted to live. But then he realized he hasn't been feeling depressed at all since we moved out here, due to the sunshine and the exercise he gets every day biking to and from work. So, then he wanted to stay, but we couldn't have kids while we're living somewhere where we're on a month-to-month lease. But we just can't buy a house out here. Okay, we can, but we're not sure we want to.

All this avoidance says that clearly he's afraid of becoming a parent. He's voiced this once or twice, but that was a long time ago. I'm sure this fear is rooted in something from his childhood, but he won't talk about it with anyone, me included. I was excited when he started seeing a therapist earlier this year, because I thought he might open up to someone neutral who wouldn't judge him or share his secrets with anyone else or run into him in social settings. But it didn't work. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to see if he was smart enough to trick the therapist into believing whatever he could. It was a joke to him. I've never been able to get him to go to any kind of couple's therapy to try and work this one out, either, and that's mostly because he has decided that psychiatry/psychology are invalid fields of medicine. It's part of why he made a joke out of his one-on-one time this past spring.

So, it's back to just us trying to work this one out. And since he won't talk about about the root of the fear, we talk around other things. We've talked about so much of the theory of childrearing that I think we've got it all mapped out (notice I didn't say figured out) through the college years. We've talked about the houses we've been looking at and whether they are conducive to raising a family in them (the one we're in now is perfect, we both agree). We've talked about overscheduling and vacations and living in other countries and public school vs. private school and religious education (he quit going to church 3 years ago as his depression -- my diagnosis -- started to really get the best of him) and a gazillion other things that I'm not thinking of right now. He still says he wants children, but when it comes right down to it, he's just not ready. And I respect him too much to get pregnant accidentally on purpose. That's just a given. I think that's something girls did in highschool or college to keep some guy around (hint, hint, that never works out the way you want it to), but not now. We have to do this together. I'm just anxious that waiting for him to be ready means my decade will evaporate away.

But I'm ready. And whenever he's ready then we'll be ready.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wants that Hurt

I've been having trouble posting lately because what I want to write about I'm not sure I want to write about. All through my time in this little blog adventure, I've written about whatever I'm thinking about. Lately, all I think about is the fact that I desperately want to be a parent. That feeling has around a hundred reasons to be there, but it's a bit unfortunate that it's become an obsession of my mind. It means I have trouble coming up with other topics to type about, so many times I just don't. And why don't I want to go down this path? It's easy. I'm afraid of being too open and inviting ridicule into my little world. I like the approval of other people, and I feel like this is such a raw self-misunderstood set of emotions for me that I will likely say things wrong and cause precisely the kinds of comments that I don't want to get.

But I have to figure this out. And with my best friends in the wrong timezones for long discussions of this sort (excepting my husband, but I suppose he tolerates as much of this blabbering as he can handle), I guess that means I have to do it here. Most of the people that read this are childless -- some by choice, some not, and some are just too young (baby sister, that means you!). Regardless, I am not childless by choice, and I have to do some soul-searching to figure out some of what goes with that. So this risk of being attacked is finally low enough compared to the risk of self-implosion that is going to happen without some place to vent. And then I'm guaranteed to never have kids.

To start this introspective journey for all to see, I have to start with my own fears and the reasons for the current desperation. I did recently have a birthday which reminded me that I have less than a decade left of acceptable fertility. Now, my mother got pregnant at 41 without trying (hi, again, baby sister!) and her mom accidentally got pregnant at 44. So, I could probably get pregnant into my forties, but since that is generally considered irresponsible, I've just capped that at 40 in my head. Yes, I know it starts getting harder after about 35, but let's not discuss that I might have even less time than I think, because I believe that would just push me over the edge. I have always imagined myself with lots of kids. Not quite the Duggars, but maybe 3 or 4 of my own and as many of their friends as want to hang out at our place. I am slowly coming to grips that this is probably a pipe dream, but I can't seem to let it go, and that leaves me in a bit of a tumultuous place.

It doesn't help that everyone around me seems to be having babies. Coworkers, friends, etc. I think there have been 6 or 7 in the last 6 months. When this first started, years ago, I was happy for them. Then I was jealous. Now, I'm afraid, I've become a bit unfeeling towards these happy little (or big) families. If you're one of my blog-reading friends with kids, please don't take this the wrong way. I still love you and your gorgeous children. But the pain is becoming almost too much to bear, and out of my most common defense mechanism to employ, I have had to wall off a little piece of my heart so I don't spend every day crying my eyes out. Sometimes, I know that makes me seem callous. Don't think I don't worry whether this little wall is permanent. As often as I can stomach it, I let it down and cry for hours.

Why do I want to have kids? This is such a hard question for me to answer, because there are just so many answers. It has nothing to do with passing on genes or being pregnant or liking babies, and everything to do with being undeniably maternal. I've always been this way, ever since I can remember. My earliest memory is from when I was five and my two-year-old sister was scared about moving to the Philippines and cried herself to sleep most nights. I would crawl over into her bed and just lay there rubbing her back and talking to her about all the wonderful adventures we were going to have and how she wouldn't be alone because we'd be doing this all together. It continued with the birth of my baby sister, who could have been my daughter if I'd been an earlier bloomer. I remember so clearly a weekend when she was six months old and mom was gone for the weekend. She'd gotten some round of shots and was feverish and miserable, and all I could do was rock her and sing to her all night long and I just wanted to take that pain away from her. Course, I felt like an idiot the next morning when dad pointed out that I should have just given her more Tylenol, but I was thirteen and not at all qualified to be her mother and to think of these things. It's not a little kid thing either. When my sister had a bad dose of life and was close to rock bottom, she came to live with me. Those were the most miserable 7 months of my life, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was teen angst and pain and discipline and the uncomfortable growing into responsibility. And regardless of whether she'll ever thank me for the lessons we forced her to learn in those months, I know she's a better adult today because of them. And I know it's not a blood thing. In eighth grade, I joined a program where I was assigned a student from the special education class. My "buddy" was a girl named Cathy who absolutely melted my heart. She functioned on about a 5-year-old level, but I so relished those times we spent working on writing her name and I posted the treasured pictures she colored for me in my locker. I cried when the school was set on fire the next year and destroyed a stuffed dog she'd given me at the end of the previous year. I think I still have that dog in a box in the basement. Maybe it was because I had so little social capital in those years, but I yelled at some kid who made fun of her in the hall and don't even know what they called me, because I just didn't care. I worked day cares and summer camps and babysat excessively and always grew so attached to one or two kids in each class. I remember a little boy named Ian who had colic. He cried all the time, and the day care workers I worked with gave up on him, saying he was just always crying when I started that summer. He became my project. What will soothe him? I tried so many things and finally succeeded with a sort of a hammock I created with his blanket and I swung him in it rather hard, and after about 20 minutes of that, he would settle down and go to sleep. And with sleep, he was much happier in the awake times, and eventually the colic worked itself out and he was a very happy baby. When I came back the next summer, Ian didn't remember me, but he was the favorite of his new teacher.

I just want to love and nurture a child. I want to experience life through their eyes as they learn new things. I want to do some things right and royally screw up some other things and learn more and more to be humble and loving. I want to struggle with being too protective and too distant. I want the pain and joy that can only come from loving another person so completely that you rejoice with their triumphs and ache with their disappointments. I want to expose a child to things that will mold their futures in ways I may never know and I want to enable them to be the best adult member of this world they can be when they get there.

And that's where I'll leave this for now -- the raw reasons I want desperately to be on to the next phase of my life, one that involves children in my house. Oh, and I'm going to stop crying for the evening.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Here is what I was given today by the little iTunes program:

"The Cowboy Rides Away" by George Strait on Greatest Hits Volume II
"Colors of the Wind" from the Pocahontas soundtrack
"Sweet Little Jesus Boy" by Wayne Watson on One Christmas Eve
"What If I Stumble" by dc Talk on Jesus Freak
"Forever Yellow Skies" by The Cranberries on To The Faithful Departed
"Take It To The Limit" by The Eagles on Their Greatest Hits
"You've Really Got A Hold on Me" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
"Like a Child" by Jars of Clay* as a recording for iTunes
"I'm Losing You" by John Lennon on The John Lennon Collection
"Sleepytime Cartoon" by Trout Fishing in America* on Truth is Stranger Than Fishin'

And I've got nothing to say to try and wrap it together. It's just a weird list. Maybe you can come up with a clever tie to put it all in a neat package.

* Acts I've seen live.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Trying to Concentrate

I'm having a hard time concentrating on working today. See, there's this wildfire at the top of the mountain I live at the base of, and it's distracting me. You haven't heard about the Santa Barbara County Fire (aka the Zaca Fire)? Well, please allow me to provide you with a few tidbits, courtesy of the local fire deparment.

  • Mostly it's burning in the Los Padres National Forest. Forests have lots of trees and underbrush suitable for wildfires to thrive on.

  • The fire is currently 67% contained. That means 33% of it is still completely out of control.

  • The fire is 127,244 acres large. That's big.

  • It has cost (so far) $73.4 million to fight. That's even more money than it costs to buy a house in Santa Barbara (which is another post of its own).

  • It has been burning since the beginning of July, but it's been really close to the top of the mountain since the end of July. Variously we have beautiful clear blue skies that look like there is no trouble brewing over the ridge, and then we have days like today. Today there is this smokey overtone that looks like someone took a sepia-colored paintbrush to the entire visible world. The houses look paler, the trees are grayer, and the sky is brown. You can smell the smoke in the air. It's heavy and gross and potentially really dangerous.

    The big concern is regarding the possibility of a sun-downer. These are great windstorms that could blow the fire up over the mountain and right down to the ocean. Apparently, this is what happened with the last big fire to hit this area in the 90s. There was a fire burning on the mountain, and within a day it had burned its way down the mountain destroying all the houses in its path and burned itself out at the ocean. Let's hope history isn't planning to repeat itself quite so soon.

    I wouldn't say I'm afraid, but I am trying to get prepared, in case something bad does happen -- even if the "bad" is just that we have no power or water pressure drops to practically zilch. I've seen several disaster preparation checklists, and it just doesn't look like much fun, but these things seldom are. The big thing, right now, is to make sure we have gas in the car and our phones charged up and ready to go. Tonight we'll be doing some assessing of what we'd need to have with us if we needed to evacuate quickly. For now, there is no alert or evacuation order for our area, but you never know until the winds change (quite literally).

    With way too many things running through my mind, I'm having trouble actually getting work done. I'm distracted easily and can't concentrate on anything difficult. I've been trying to investigate the same thing for the last two hours, and it should only be a 30-minute thing. You should see how long it's taken me to type this up.

    Meanwhile, I had to call the customer that I've been trying to do the investigating for this morning, and they are in Houston with no power because of Tropical Storm Erin. Ah the irony. I love the irony.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Heather is a Heathen?

    I've been a Lutheran all my life. My dad's a Lutheran pastor, and he graduated from the seminary when I was 5. His first call was to be a missionary in the Philippines, and so my earliest memories are of church on our front porch and Sunday School songs in the garden. I still know some of them, though there aren't a lot of occasions to start singing songs like this one:
    Basit saka, basit emah, basit na ping-ping, nasamit na esem.
    Matah, lapayag, ken toy pusok, ku kwah ahmen nee Jesus.
    Dai dai ahwen dai ti Dios, dai dai ahwen dai ti Dios!
    Basit saka, basit emah, basit na ping-ping, nasamit na esem.

    which is a little song about all of the parts of the body being there to praise God. Being able to pray in Ilocano isn't very useful either, but I still periodically have this one jump into my head:
    Niambag ti Dios, niandaklan ti Dios
    Agyaman tai-ee kaduhgatee kahnen tayoh.

    which is the common "God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food." (Please pardon my spelling if you actually know Ilocano -- I never learned to write it, so my spelling is a bit rudimentary and is completely phonetic). I can count, too, but that's out of the scope of this entry.

    Suffice it to say, that when we got back to the US, church life continued to be important to me. I've played piano for VBS, led Youth Bible studies, sang with choirs, played with brass groups and handbell groups, sat on parochial school boards, and, most recently, directed a praise band. There were times in high school that if I hadn't had church activities to be involved with, I would have had a lot more time to contemplate the myriad reasons I had no friends and the subsequent invitations to do things with them. Besides the social aspect to it (which cannot be discounted in this day and age where no one seems to live near family or the friends they grew up with), I found wonderfully encouraging people and groups that constantly blessed me and encouraged me to study more deeply and grow more in my relationship with my Lord and Savior.

    And then we moved to Santa Barbara, and I tried to find a new church home out here.

    One Sunday I went to a Catholic church where they waved incense around and chanted everything and prayed for nearly 20 minutes for the Pope. And that's after half the sermon was about how great he is. Now, I'm Lutheran, so Catholics all over the world hate me anyway, but I hope I don't make them madder: I don't really like Pope Benedict. When he issued a statement reminding us how the Catholic church is sure they're the only group getting to heaven, and while I know not all Catholics feel that way, I really dislike a church leader that's more interested in dividing the believers up and discarding them rather than seeking out non-believers. I only tolerated him before, so this was an easy straw to break my back. I think I would just need a less Catholic Catholic church.

    Another Sunday I tried a Lutheran church where the pastor was mad at his congregation. They had, apparently, decided to spend $500K on redoing their parking lot, much to his dismay. Now I don't know what parking lot resurfacings normally cost, but their's was in significant need of a revitalization of some sort. I wasn't actually sure I was still going to have all the pieces of the underside of my vehicle after I'd driven through it. Their sound system was having trouble, too, so that just added to the atmosphere of the fire-and-brimstone sermon the pastor was preaching about how many poor people half a million dollars could have fed and what business did they have pouring (ha!) that into asphalt? Now, I don't know how decisions are made at that church, but in most of the decisions I've ever seen made at a church, there is usually a vote, and the pastor is invited to said voting meeting. Couldn't he have said his piece there, rather than on a Sunday morning with visitors and kids and stuff?

    Then I tried an Episcopal church. The first time I went they had a guest pastor. She wasn't a very good speaker, but it was, apparently, her first-ever sermon. It sounded like the kind of sermon *I* could have given -- with no ministerial training whatsoever. I also sat in a pew where two ladies came in half-way through the service and climbed over me to sit in the pew and then proceeded to climb out and back in 3 times over the next 20 minutes. Oh, and one of them sat on me when we came back from communion. I know I'm skinny, but that's a bit much to be quite that ignored. I was willing to chalk it up to just being a bad service, so I went back when the regular guy was preaching. He preached an entire sermon without a single Biblical reference, and I just don't understand how you do that. He was preaching on the social responsibility we have to the environment. I've heard several of these in my life, and they've always been tied to the creation story in that God created our world perfect and humans messed it up or to Jesus' parable of the talents and how God has entrusted us with this planet and it's our job to take care of it in a God-pleasing way. It's not hard, people. I don't think I can go to a church where the Bible doesn't even have a seat and has to stand in a corner in the back.

    Then I tried another Lutheran church. This one had one of those pastors that puts 4 or 5 syllables in the name "Jesus". I felt like I was back in a rural Southern Baptist church, and I giggled a lot throughout the service. He also felt the need to emphasize the word-of-the-day. It was Ascension Sunday, which I remember because everytime he said "ascension" he accented it and stretched it out. He also told the congregation to do so when that word, or a variant, showed up in the text we were speaking aloud. I remember nothing else about the service because the accenting was so annoying. Not very faith-challenging if you can't even notice the rest of the service for the distractions. I decided that one wasn't going to work, either.

    About this time, I started to get discouraged. I just didn't go to church the next Sunday. I don't have many Sundays in my life where I just didn't go. I've missed for illness or travel or visting relatives or friends that do not go to church. Very seldom, however, do I just not go. The next week I was vacationing with my parents in Wisconsin, and my dad has a habit of not going to church when he's on vacation. That meant I didn't go for either Sunday on the two sides of that week. Then I got back and identified a new church to try out, but I must've gotten the address or time wrong, because when I got there they were just finishing the service. I found myself depressed. Some of you coming from the backgrounds you do may think that was guilt, but that would be less than 10% of the overall feeling. Mostly I was just feeling depleted from not having been fed spiritually for several months. No Christian friends out here to talk to, people constantly bringing me down about being a Christian -- it starts to be really draining. And, as the experiences I'd found were significantly less than stellar, I was starting to wonder how hard it really was going to be to be a Christian in California.

    But, I'm nothing, if not persistent. So, I went back to the one that I'd tried -- and failed -- to go to before, except this time I got the address right. The music was great, the sermon was great, and it was one of those churches that feels more like 50 or 75 people are in the service instead of 150 -- so friendly and relaxed and completely unpretentious. I was so impressed with the sermon (it was basically a challenge to spend time in God's word every day as the top priority), but I wasn't ready to make any decisions, since there were two pastors, and I'd only heard one. So, I went back the next week to hear the other pastor. Wait -- his sermon was good, too (on why it's important and God-pleasing to be persistent in your prayer life). I hardly knew what to do with myself. But, I think what sealed it for me was an illustration he used from when he lived in the Philippines. It turns out he and his family lived there from '65 to '77. It's a bit before we were there, but that was enough to help make me feel like I'd picked the right place. Visit number 3 was another success, and I'm headed back this morning. Maybe I'll actually be able to settle in and have a Christian community again. Good thing, too, because I don't think I'm cut out to be a heathen.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    Saturday Morning Random Ten

    My Friday sort of got away from me yesterday. But I got up early this morning to do the random ten! Okay, I get up early every morning, but let me pretend it was just for this.

    "Unforgetful You" by Jars of Clay* on If I Left The Zoo
    "I Will Not Go Quietly" by Don Henley on The End Of The Innocence
    "Sometimes By Step" by Rich Mullins* on The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 2
    "After You've Gone" by Trout Fishing In America* on Closer To The Truth
    "Another Time, Another Place" by Sandi Patty and Wayne Watson on Another Time, Another Place
    "Miss Otis Regrets" by Bette Midler on Experience The Divine
    "It's All Too Much" by Joe Jackson on Laughter & Lust
    "Trouble Among the Yearlings" on Country Cooking
    "Four Rows of Jacks" by Mannheim Steamroller on Fresh Aire IV
    "The Way That I Miss You" by Wayne Watson on A Beautiful Place

    In looking at this list, I am reminded of the day I won the A Beautiful Place album from the radio station I listened to at the time. I was in high school, and I had no money to buy much of anything. They were running a contest where you had to identify a sound and what Bible story that sound went with. I called in, got through, and got the right answer (it was the sound of the curtain to the Holy of Holies in the temple ripping from top to bottom when Jesus died), and they mailed me the tape. I only ever won two tapes off radio contests, and they were both Wayne Watson tapes. I've since purchased this one on CD to have it be in iTunes, but I've never replaced the other one, which is weird, because it's one of my favorite albums with a song on it that always makes me cry. I think it's because I loved that tape. It was my first, and was during the phase where my dad hated my music choices and didn't even want to be reminded what I listened to, much less to allow me to purchase my own music. It was a good thing I won this one. At some point I had a tape player that tried to eat this tape, and to get it out of the player I ended up breaking the tape, and most of it spooled out of the case. I spent hours winding one side of the tape back into the case and more hours with a toothpick with some tape on the end trying to fish the other end back out of the depths of the case. Once I had it all unkinked and threaded correctly, I taped the tear together on the back side, and hoped against all hope that it would still play. Success! It does still play, even though there's a little irregularity in the middle of the song on either side when it has to play over that repair. And now I wonder if I'll consider those two songs "damaged" if I were to get a crisp new CD that played them perfectly.

    Well, I think I've talked myself into a purchase. Gotta go do that now!

    * Acts I've seen live

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Comparing Santa Barbara to Austin, From a Cyclist's Perspective

    Okay. I've gotten lazy again. It's hard when your days are spent at home, and then working at home, and then at home pretty much every day. I sort of seems like I don't have much to write about. I know that's never stopped me before, but there it is. Anyway, I promised you all just a few posts, and I should get back to them.

    While the Mini was out of commission for a week, we had no car at all. My husband has been riding to work most every day anyway, but while we had no car, all errands had to be run on the bicycle. During that week, I had to go to the bank, we went out to eat, and I had to go to the grocery store several times. Nothing earth-shattering, but all required taking to the bike.

    Santa Barbara is a heavily biked town. Certainly there is the professional cyclist crowd, but the vast majority of the folks on bikes are using those two wheels as their primary mode of transportation. I thought there were lots of cyclists in Austin, but I was wrong.

    I've seen cars stop and treat a bicycle as an actual vehicle, waiting for them to pass an intersection before making a turn. In Austin, the car would speed up and cut the bike off trying to make the turn before the bike and losing those 5 precious seconds while the cyclist crosses the street.

    Every business in town that I've been to has a post out front specifically for cyclists to lock their bikes up to. In Austin, you were always looking for some fence or signpost or something to rig up a place to lock up your bike.

    There are bike lanes everywhere here -- on major thouroughfares in town, and even on the highway. It's amazing. In Austin, I was petrified to ride on Lamar (a similar-sized street to State Street, the main drag here), since you really have to ride in the car lane, and people get annoyed with you. Here, I can just plug along in the bike lane on State with no issues.

    Because of the sheer numbers of cyclists, though, I have also seen more accidents than I ever saw in Austin. True, that's 1 in SB and 0 in Austin, but that's still an infinite number more than I saw before.

    All of this hasn't resulted in me biking everywhere, however. Partly, I just have days where I'm lazy or have too much to do. But also, grocery shopping is really hard when you have to fit everything you're buying into a backpack. The gallon of milk and the paper towels will pretty much take up the whole space, and then you can't really eat that for dinner, you know. Also, more delicate things like bread and eggs and strawberries require special packing in order not to get smushed in the ride home. While we were carless, though, it took me 3 hours to get $100 worth of groceries with the multiple trips, and that just seems like a massive waste of time to do regularly. It is interesting to see how you really only get what you *need* when the weight and space constraint is there.

    Biking, however, seems to make my husband want to bike more. He's currently trying to figure out how to manage a trip to Oregon on a bicycle. Hmmmm. We'll just have to wait and see if this is one of his wild hairs or something he really tries to make happen. If it does, though, I'll be sure to chronicle it from my easy-riding spot behind the wheel of the SAG wagon. For our purposes, that would likely look a heckuva lot like a blue Mini.

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Friday Random Ten

    This week, here's what I was given:

    "The Fly" by U2 on Achtung Baby
    "Something Going On" by When In Rome on When In Rome
    "Heartbreak Hotel" by Stan Freberg on Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection
    "Whatever Get You Thru The Night" by John Lennon on The John Lennon Collection
    "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks on The Hits
    "Rock Around with Ollie Vee" by Buddy Holly & The Crickets on From The Original Master Tapes
    "Keeping My Eyes On Him" by Geoff Moore & The Distance* on Pure and Simple
    "Private Investigations" by Dire Straits on Money for Nothing
    "Open Up the Sky" by FFH on Have I Ever Told You
    "Over My Head" by Fleetwood Mac on Greatest Hits

    Wow. A whole pile of lackluster songs. The only good one in the batch is the little FFH number. It's especially apropos today, while it rains ash from the nearby wildfire that was supposed to be contained and then wasn't. You'd think it was snow, but it's 22 degrees (Celsius -- that's about 71 Fahrenheit, folks) outside, so I'm pretty sure that's not it. Maybe I'll take a picture of one of the grayed-out grape leaves and post it so you can see how much is really falling. It's icky, and I don't think I'll be going for a run this afternoon.

    *Groups I've seen live