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Category: Family

Sushi with a 3-year-old boy

Shiki

Bernie and I went out for sushi tonight at Shiki on Clinton Avenue in Rochester, and we had a wonderful time. He was in a great mood, and we really enjoyed every minute of the evening. To see him eat, you’d think he hadn’t been fed in about a week. He had four pieces of tamago sushi (egg sushi), four pieces of tatsuta age (a sort of Japanese fried chicken dish), two pieces of tekka maki (tuna sushi roll), and some miso shiru (miso soup.) Here are a few shots of the boy in action:

Bernie sushi 1

Bernie sushi 1

Shiki is Rochester’s best Japanese restaurant. There is no competition. Seriously. There are other Japanese restaurants, but none of them can hold even a tiny candle to Tanaka-san’s little masterpiece of an eatery. It’s probably the best Japanese food I’ve had outside of Japan, and believe me when I tell you that I’ve eaten sushi in big cities and small from coast to coast. Yesterday was Shiki’s second anniversary, so go over there and stuff yourself with some of the best food around.

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Bernie Crane, age 3

It’s been a while since I’ve put any pictures of my son Bernie up on the site. Here he is preparing to make a daring leap on the sofa:

Bernie jumpingAnd here he is playing his favorite drum:

Bernie drumming

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The Valentine’s Day scam

My son Bernie is 3 years old. Two days a week, he goes to a preschool class at the Monroe Avenue YMCA. Today, his class had a Valentine’s Day party, for which Bernie was required to bring in a Valentine card for every kid in the class. So last night, Dear Old Dad is out in the car after the proverbial hard day’s work, looking in vain for the last two packs of Valentine’s cards that aren’t shilling some brain-melting TV show or toy. I finally found just enough cards, although I had to trip an elderly woman to stop her from grabbing them first.

To add insult to injury, it was then up to Dear Old Dad to go home, get out the list of Bernie’s classmates, and sign all the cards and envelopes on his behalf. All while he’s sound asleep, I might add.

Can anyone explain to me what the point of that is?? We’ve already been scammed into a holiday created by the greeting card companies and probably subsidized by government largesse sucked from our pockets by the powerful Heart-Shaped-Box Lobby. Now I have to fill out greeting cards for kids who can’t read, so they can be the imaginary love interests of other kids who can’t read?

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Norm!

The other day, a friend said this to me: “I’ve always run away from putting down roots, I think partly because I’m so desperate to have some.”

Exactly. I’ve moved more than 20 times so far, and I’ve always felt cut off from any particular “hometown,” except for Lenox, Massachusetts, where I lived until I was five. I still feel like I’m home whenever I’m there, even though most of my life has been lived elsewhere. The first person I dated had lived in the same house her entire life (about 15 years at that point). My sister lived in the same house from the age of 5 until she was 24. My parents have lived in the same house for the past 20 years.

All of that seems very odd to me. Or maybe it’s better to say that I can’t really relate to it. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to adapt to new surroundings. I find that I get the itch to move after I’ve lived somewhere for about a year.

I’ve now lived in Rochester for five and a half years. It’s almost impossible for me to leave the house without running into people I know. Every restaurant, every store, every concert, every bike ride. A few of those folks even like me, and more than 1,500 of them voted for me for city council. That’s just weird.

I started thinking of this today when I was at Palermo’s Meat & Food Market on Culver and Norton. Guy, the owner of the store, knows my family and me by name, as do several of the employees. While Bernie and I were in there today, we ran into my good friend Otto (don’t forget to check out his new site) and his son Frankie. A few minutes later, Otto’s brother came in. Everybody was chatting, laughing, telling jokes, ordering food from the deli counter, and just generally behaving in the way I always imagined adult life would be.

So what does that all mean? Does it need to mean anything? For one thing, it means that I have roots here in Rochester. I never expected that to happen. It also means that it’s still possible — if I make the effort — to live life meaningfully in a circle of people who care about me. That’s a great feeling. When we had our near-baby-event yesterday, we had friends and family close at hand who were willing to drop everything to help out.

I didn’t expect our life here to be like this, and I’m still trying to figure it all out. In the meantime, it’s cool to have friends.

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We almost had a baby tonight

As Mark Twain didn’t actually say: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” What began as a routine check-up at the midwife’s office turned into a 6-hour saga complete with hospital visit, much like our 2002 experience with Bernie.

Bernie was born three weeks early because Jen had to be induced due to complications from preeclampsia — a pregnancy-only disorder that results in dangerously high blood pressure.

This time around, Jen’s blood pressure had been normal for the first eight months of her pregnancy. Recently, though, her blood pressure has begun to creep up, and today it really spiked. Our midwife called a doctor, who sent us to Highland Hospital. The doctor said that a reading as high as Jen’s was almost a guarantee that they’d induce labor — tonight.

I scrambled to get someone to watch Bernie — first our friends Pamela and Dan, who took him for a couple hours, then my sister Gretchen, who took over from there. I had met Jen at the midwife’s office, so we were driving two cars. Jen and Bernie headed over to Pamela and Dan’s, and I followed close behind. About a half-mile from their house, I was stopped at a red light … and I got rear-ended by a minivan! It was unreal. Luckily, the guy didn’t do enough damage to my car to make it impossible to drive, so we exchanged information and he left. I called the insurance company to file a quick claim, and then met Jen at home so we could head to the hospital.

Off we went to Highland Hospital, where we waited for about three hours while Jen had blood work done and had her blood pressure routinely checked. Her blood pressure was high, though not as high as the initial reading by the midwife. When her blood work finally came back, it was perfect, and the doctor diagnosed gestational hypertension — high blood pressure caused by pregnancy, but not as serious as preeclampsia. We have to keep monitoring it, and Jen has to reduce her workload (read: Bernie) around the house.

The weird part of it all is that I was psychologically prepared to have the baby tonight. The initial opinion of two different doctors was that we’d be giving birth to Crane Baby #2 before we left the hospital. At first, that was a shock. We quickly calmed down, though, and prepared ourselves for the process. Then, three hours later, we were sitting at the kitchen table as if nothing had happened.

That’s all for the best, of course. It’s better for mother and baby to get closer to the due date (March 17), and it’s still our plan to do a home birth with our midwife if that’s possible. One nice element of the hospital stay was that Jen was hooked up to a baby monitor for about 90 minutes, and the baby’s heartbeat was rock solid at 140 beats per minute, or as I like to call it, Techno Tempo.

So now we’re home. Jen is fine, the baby is fine, and we’re proceeding toward our expected delivery date. I’ll keep you posted.

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Nursery rhymes from my Great-Uncle Jack

My grandmother’s brother, Jack Coughlin (1912-2000), was quite the character. He served in the Marines during WWII as a cook in Hawaii. When he came home, he and his first wife, Evelyn, lived in the apartment above my grandparents on Main Street in Lenox, Massachusetts. He worked at the post office, and he knew everyone in town. Before police scanners were readily available, he’d wake the entire family at the sound of the fire bell and race off to watch the firemen at work. Later in life, he bought a police scanner and listened to it constantly.

He was the first vegetarian I ever heard of. If memory serves, he became a vegetarian after a visit to a chicken farm.

He also had quite a sense of humor. What I remember best are his twisted takes on classic nursery rhymes. Here are a few for your enjoyment:

Hickory dickory dock,
Two mice ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
And the other escaped with minor injuries.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And one stinkin’ petunia.

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her,
And said, “Is this seat taken?”

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