Thursday, December 14, 2006

We meet our baber!

Oh my!
On tuesday, Dec 12, 2006, Katie and I went to our first pregnancy appointment! It was unbelievably fun. We actually got to meet the creature! You know how parents say things like "when you first hold that child in your arms, then you will know what love is like..."? Well, this was an early prototype of that powerful interaction. And what a rush.
Given that it was an abdominal ultrasound and that we were watching a small blurry black and white image that was constantly shifting and distorting, it's amazing that one could have any sort of emotional reaction at all. But wow. There's a person in there, and it's made out of us! The first thing we saw was the head. A nice little skull, with nice symmetrical brain patterns, lying in a big sac of dark fluid. Must be warm in there. You have to wonder, what sort of things is it experiencing, that new developing brain? What CAN it experience? What can it not? We know it can hear, but what about sight? We know that it's inhaling a mix of amniotic fluid and it's own urine (the gross little baber!) but are its tastebuds or olfactory cells active yet? If they are how developed is their connection to the brain? Mostly, of course, we want to know how it feels, what it thinks, what thinking is like for it.

The sweetest part of the whole experience was watching it move. First we saw the heart beating. It beat so quickly, like that of a humming bird! Then later we saw it jerk suddenly. We think that it didn't like all the new pressure that came from the ultrasound device. After that little jerk it continued to squirm around for a while which was amazing to behold. It sort of flipped on to its side while we were watching, and we saw its legs move around too. We were both surprised at how seemingly long and developed those little legs are! No leg-buds here, folks, these ones can kick! Of course, none of that motion is caught (what we would give to have a video that we could share and pour over instead of these paltry few shots!). But we are happy with what we've got. Perhaps the most endearing part that was captured as a picture was the hand and forearm up by the face. Perhaps sucking on the thumb? Rubbing the face? Waving hi to the parents? What ever it is, it's adorable.

Make sure to click on each picture for the larger view. There are a few more pictures here, also adorable. For the last one, on its side, you can see that it has it's hands up near it's head. The head is the lump on the right hand side. You can see the bones of the skull, and perhaps the jaw? The eye sockets might be in there too. The hands, though, are clear, one is visible as a row of four fingers near the forehead or eyes.

And a neat and clean picture of a healthy spine. Very nice to see, and very mature looking to my totally uneducated and untrained eye. Can you imagine this all in motion? Ah, it was fantastic. Unbeatable, utterly overwhelmingly thrilling. Katie and I are just beside ourselves with excitement - we just can't wait to meet this little character!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy holidays 2006!

Happy holidays 2006! Can you believe there are still two years left until Bush is out of office! At least some progress has been made. Still we have much to be thankful for.
We’ve had a great year here in Martinez. We’re still staying in our little above-the-garage apartment that we fondly refer to as our tree house. We’ve adopted a community garden plot, which has generously provided us with all sorts of wonderful food—tomatoes, chilies, lettuce, beans, summer squash, zucchini, kale, peppers, and a few strawberries in the summer; and now, believe it or not, more kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, the end of the tomatoes, and infinite arugula. Despite being the beneficiaries of all of this abundance, we also managed to skirt our way out of California this summer during the hottest months to visit our old home of Kodaikanal in India.
We visited India to celebrate our Tanzanian friend Modesta’s graduation from high school after four and a half years at the international school where we both previously taught. Reuniting with Modesta was such a treat—she is just as happy and energetic as usual. After a month with us in India, Modesta is now back in Tanzania, volunteering for a community education center in a rural village. She is teaching biology, computers, AIDS education, and sports, while getting ready to apply to a university in Kenya where she hopes to study community development. We’re very excited for her.
In India, we also had the great pleasure of visiting many old friends, who treated us royally, feeding us and welcoming us into their homes as if we had never been gone. In the later part of our visit, we gallivanted around the north by train (if one can be said to gallivant on Indian trains). Joined by some Davis friends who were doing research in Bhutan, we visited Varanasi, the Hindu holy city on the Ganges, and Darjeeling, the northeastern hill station famous for its tea. We then moved on to the verdant, cloud-strewn mountains of Sikkim in the Himalayas, where we hiked along clear, swollen streams and over village-made bridges to numerous Buddhist gompas (monasteries) and other holy sites. This bit of our trip was so nice we declared it our unofficial honeymoon!
Tim will soon be returning to India in February to meet with researchers studying fire ecology in the Western Ghats and to nail down plans for his upcoming research, which will allow both of us to return to Kodaikanal for the academic year of 2007/8. If Ganesh and Agni and all of the other gods will, Tim’s research will investigate the use of wildfire as a pastoral technique in the Kodai hills, combining his passions for both ecology and human culture. He also hopes to investigate the beautiful south Indian art of kolam design, in which women traditionally draw geometric designs with rice flour on their doorsteps in the early morning. All of this research is now possible since Tim passed his oral qualifying exams on December 1st, the culmination of two plus years of study. Now, as one professor told him, Tim is defined by what he has not accomplished—his dissertation.
Katie graduated from Mills with an MFA in creative writing just one day before we hopped on the plane to India this summer. She won a departmental award for the best graduate-level, young-adult fiction and has since continued to write a full draft of her first novel, which she started last January! The story is about a young girl living in post-independence Tanzania. The girl’s village chooses to relocate and over the course of the next year, she unravels a local mystery. In addition to writing, Katie has launched herself into teaching three composition classes at Berkeley City College. She has found her niche in community college teaching—enjoying the immense diversity of her students and the opportunity to serve people who, in many cases, have been given the short end of stick in previous education.
Finally, our biggest news is that we’ll be joined by a third Quirk-Waring —we’re pregnant! If all goes well, the baby will be born at the end of June, 2007. We’re thrilled and our only regret is that we will miss the much-awaited weddings of Katie’s cousin, Kristin, and Tim’s college friend, Eric.
We feel very blessed, in large part because of our wonderful friends and family. We look forward to seeing all of you soon and hope you have a splendid year.

Love to all of you,
Katie and Tim

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tahoe Weekend

A great time with Christine and Chris and various friends up near Tahoe.