Saturday, October 23, 2010

Glass in the grass

Yesterday, Meredith, Morgan and I went to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens to see the amazing Glass sculpture work of Dale Chihuly. I have been trying to convince Morgan that he is a pirate, but to no avail. The exhibit was mostly outdoors, in the beautiful, rambling gardens and ponds, with spritely, colorful pieces of glass such as this:

placed amongst trees, shrubs and flowers like this:
Making for a very nice composition like this:

Even the Sphinx at the gate was enthralled with the display, and so we were able to sneak in without answering the customary riddle.

As Meredith is pointing out, these "Bamboo Reeds" have rings like the real bamboo.

We saw The Sun and The Moon~

And what looked to be many different planets,

Being used as marbles.

There was literally a boatload of glass there.

And there was really only one thing that could make it look prettier.

OK, well maybe two....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Of snakes and scams

OK, I'm going to try to make an actual post here, with pictures and everything.

The cats like to hunt and show off their catches. Usually they consist of chipmunks, voles, birds, or portions thereof. The other day, the orange cat proudly brought me a garter snake, which was still alive and mostly unharmed, so I snatched it away and released it somewhere I thought he wouldn't notice. But about an hour later, he came strutting back with the same snake, obviously enjoying this new game. So I brought it to show Meredith and Morgan for a while before re-releasing it even further away.

The other pictures I have here are of Morgan's latest costume creation, inspired by one of her favorite cartoons, "Ed, Edd and Eddy," which is kind of like the three stooges meets the little rascals. This is "Professor Scam:"

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Ahoy there scurvy dogs!
Bein' in honor of jaw like a pirate day, I, Cap'n Woodbeard, be commandeerin' this blasted vessel.
So, raise the Jolly Roger, haul the drunkards off the poop deck, and no friggin' in the riggin'!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

what I've been doing

Here's a quilt I've been working on, for someone who likes "facets". Good clean fun.
While I'm working on a big piece, I like to keep myself entertained with little bitty projects. Here's a little sample piece for a miniature quilt, something quaint and traditional, with pieced baskets and appliqued vine and leaf stuff, except the vines and leaves transform into these little guys:
Funny how you can't tell size from a photo. The quilt at the top is 90x102" while the other is only two inches wide.

Friday, September 04, 2009

travelling with a conservative eater

While visiting family recently in New England, I came across fresh figs at the grocery store. I’ve never had a fig that wasn’t dried, or turned into paste. I was surprised at the color and intrigued by the shape and so bought a couple to try. Mo was intrigued too. She’s become more loquacious, lately, for her I mean. She’s still not in danger of talking anyone’s ear off but she liked the look of the figs and was happy to talk about them, ask some questions, and watch me eat one. Naturally, she didn’t want to try one, herself.

I say naturally because Morgan is a naturally conservative eater. I spent a good deal of time explaining that on our travels, since she doesn’t eat things most people associate with kids her age – not pizza or sandwiches or homemade mac-n-cheese. Most kids go through a conservative stage, but by 8 they’re usually coming out of it.

Mo’s a bit more sensitive to looks and textures than average, and that has a lot to do with her conservatism. She still has a fairly narrow range of foods and the tend to be light and fine: cereals and pale pastas (no whole wheat, please), tortillas and pancakes, cheese and tofu, chicken nuggets, bananas. There are a few other things, but you get the idea. Milk and juice form a big part of her diet, so we don’t cheap-out on juice, we get 100% and try new flavors whenever we can. She’s most open to experimenting where juice is concerned, but she rarely samples new fruit. Like I said, texture is an issue.

It was nice to talk with other people on my travels who have been down similar roads, either as parents or as conservative eaters, themselves. It was refreshing to hear tales from George’s mom of her passionate, strong minded children, of Liz liking things just so and George coming apart at the seams if his hotdog was cut in the wrong number of pieces. Good to know Morgan doesn’t just get it from me!

I was the proverbial picky eater. I recall there were foods I did like as a child, but most of my actual memories of dinnertime revolve around a sense of disgust as I would steal myself, over and over, to lift the fork to my mouth. I sometimes wonder how much of my vegetarianism comes down to being finally able to avoid all the foods I despise in one fell swoop. Certainly when I go to vegetarian homes and potlucks and feel a sense of nervousness at an unfamiliar dish, I can dispel most of that with a simple reminder to myself: its okay, its vegetarian. Its amazing how much that relaxes me. I don’t recall ever being disgusted by a mouthful of vegetarian food, even if the flavor didn’t appeal to me. I’m sure there must be some, but they don’t stand out in my memories.

Food is such a personal issue. Some people seem to be able to eat anything. Ray has always been able to eat foods he dislikes. He may complain about them, but he doesn’t struggle to eat them. I’ve watched Mo struggle to try a food she thought she’d like only to have the actual experience prove different than she’d hoped. I’ve seen her on the verge of tears when a food at a restaurant wasn’t what she expected. We ate out a bunch on our travels, something we rarely do at home, and I did a good bit of explaining and negotiating with wait-staff as a result. They were all very helpful, even found ways to charge me less for, say, a plate of “nachos” with none of the meat, salsa or guacamole listed in the menu. One waitress brought Mo all the popcorn she could eat at no charge at all. That was sweet.

It was wonderful to overnight at another unschooling house on the way home. I’m always nervous meeting people I only “know” via the internet, and we hadn’t really talked about food with this family. But Faith was perfectly happy to walk Morgan through their cereal collection even though we’d arrived at dinnertime, that was great. And despite eight hours in the car I was ready to do a happy-dance at the sight of real home-style vegetarian food on the stove (its okay! Its vegetarian). And its good to get back home to where Mo doesn’t have to ask if she isn’t in the mood to talk, where she knows where everything is and the microwave is conveniently located for little people. Good to get back to George’s home-style vegetarian cooking every night. Even if I can’t get fresh figs around here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

forget it

I'd forgotten how loud airplanes are. On friday, Mo and I flew from Nashville to Philly to Providence, RI - two ups and two downs, next to no turbulence, just enough clouds. Great flights, especially for Morgan, who had never been on a plane before. She had a grand time, but spent the flights with her fingers stuffed in her ears. I remember that was my first impression of flying, years ago on an army plane flying to Alaska. There were no windows and it was soooooo loud. I'm glad Mo's first plane ride was more fun than that.

We were met at the airport by a sweet old lady who couldn't remember we weren't related to her - I have no idea who she was, but her daughter apologized and I reassured her it was fine. She was friendly and a decent conversationalist for someone who wasn't sure where she was or why or who I was or why we were talking. Mo and I rode the elevator with her and met up with Jane, also not related to this lady. Jane is my Fabulous Aunty, who forgets words. There's a word for that, but, well, you know... Its cute. She sticks her tongue out and taps the tip, or makes this funny gesture, like writing on her arm while I (or whoever) try to guess what she wants to say. If you're clever, this can be great fun, as Jane quickly gets distracted from what she's trying to say. I'm not clever enough, most of the time, and simply find the word, if I can remember it. Nothing like someone else being tongue tied to make me self conscious about my own lack of facility with the spoken word.

I'm terribly forgetful when I speak, not so much when I write. I think its because I think in images - even when I'm thinking words, I'm thinking of them printed, or typed. Now and then I get bogged down wondering what font my brain is using and can't remember what I'm talking about. When I write, too, I can cheat and look things up, check a thesaurus, dig up a website so I seem to know what I'm talking about. I do know what I'm talking about, I swear! I have a huge amount of information stuffed into my head, but don't always remember the sources. Lately people have been asking me about child development, and I know a ton about it, but then someone wants a source...geez. I don't know how I know this stuff.

Forgetfulness is a family trademark, it seems, on both sides. This morning George and I had breakfast with his dad, who kept saying banjo when he meant guitar, and then went back to George's mom's house, where she was wondering where the other half of her grapefruit had gone, having eaten it yesterday. Our days and lives are full of forgetfulness. I forgot I was supposed to be compiling a blog carnival, but I have an excuse for that - the whole going-out-of-town thing. My friend Lora and I were discussing forgetfulness not too long ago, about how you can walk into the other room and realize you've forgotten why. I have a whole strategy worked out for remembering in those situations, and Lora wondered why I didn't simply have a strategy for not-forgetting. I don't recall what I told her, though. George and I joke that one day we'll be a pair of old codgers living together, not remembering who this other person is, clomping around the kitchen, drinking all the coffee.

A few months back I was chatting with another parent, a school teacher and mom, who wondered how I can possibly know what my kids have learned if I don't test them. I asked her how she knows what her kids have learned a week after the test, and she conceded that it was a good point. I'd rather watch my kids forget and remember and forget again than to have the illusion that they "know" something because they remembered it long enough to spew it out on a form. I've forgotten a great deal of what I learned in school, but I remember cramming for spelling tests in grade school and then turning around and misspelling the very words I'd spelled perfectly on the test when I'd write. I recall it being a source of hilarity for my friends and frustration for my teachers.

One of my favorite quotable authors, Jeanette Winterson, has a line about forgetting... some buddah like thing about there being nothing to remember... Naturally I don't recall the details, and since I'm not home, I can't look it up. I'm pretty sure its in Sexing the Cherry, though, if you have a copy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Recently I was at the local coffee shop and a friend showed me a picture she'd taken on vacation. It was a pretty bland shot of someone standing by a car, but in the foreground, captured in the flash, it seemed, was a wonderful glowing something - something with legs and wings. I asked if it was a mosquito. It kind of looked like one, and she'd just been to Alaska, so I was ready for a "the mosquitoes were soooooo big..." story. She kind of sighed and said "some people think so" and that was the end of that. Oops. It was one of those litmus test things. How cool is Mer? Will she say "OMG, is that a Fairy?" Nope. Sorry.

Its not that I have anything against the idea of fairies - or nature spirits or communicating with the unseen world or whatever floats yer boat. But I'm not into that these days. Its the evil little buddhist in me. I don't see any need to look for magic in the world because, frankly, I find the world pretty darned magical already.

It irks me when people do things like that, try to suss out if I'm "okay" based on some willingness on my part to Believe (or not). Maybe they're just looking for connection - probably so. And I can't connect in that way. If you want to talk about how lovely is a mosquito, caught in a flash, I'm right there. Beautiful in its articulated, chitinous majesty, possessed of the glorious power of flight. That's enough magic, right there. A normal, everyday miracle.

Those miracles are overlooked, disregarded, belittled. That's a sad thing. Dirt is miraculous, even without gnomes and trolls to populate it. Its rich with smell and texture. Rainbows are marvels of chance refraction without leprechauns. Snowflakes are a wonder without Santa Clause or the Nativity. Flowers are sexy without sprites living in them, and the ocean has no need of sirens and mermaids. Life is a miracle and a mystery. No-one knows why its here. There are theories - theories of chance combinations over millennia and theories of supernatural intervention, but nobody knows, really. Why is there life or why is any one thing, bacteria, plant, person, alive right now. Lots of good reasons why things die, but none why they don't. That kind of miracle. The quiet every day kind that get ignored because they're so commonplace.

There's a great bug movie, if you like bugs and other creepy crawlies, called "Microcosmos". Its got the sexiest snails ever to hit the big screen (no shit, you should see these two go at it!) and a great final shot of an "everyday miracle" a metamorphasis from a nymph, the new adult rising out of the water in a silver halo... and then you realize its a mosquito and sort of shiver all over as it flies away with that characteristic whine. Its beautifully creepy. For the record, I'll swat the little buggers in an instant, and squish fleas and ticks, and smush spiders... but they're still more beautiful than anything I could possibly imagine.