Monday, November 29, 2010

more audio: When a Teacher Goes to Jail

Okay, so here's my first attempt at a produced piece using the Audacity editing program. My friend, writer and teacher Paul Karrer, had a story to tell and so we recorded it and I put it here. You might want to give it a listen. And, hey, times are such that you might was to "share it" around. (It is also on my sidebar under Cool Stuff/Me Stuff.) Thanks.

And if anyone is an expert on Audacity, for godssake write me and give me all your tips.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Danielle Evans - Book Review

Weary of waiting for my buddy to get this up on his podcast, so...Here's my book review of Danielle Evans' killer collection of short stories, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. I've also put the link on my sidebar under "What We're Reading." Anybody prefer the text over the audio? Can create a link upon request.

(Beware, adult language in some excerpts I read...Just in case you feel like blasting it in surround sound and prissy Aunt Felicity is visiting.)

shadow shot - PG Museum

These pictures were taken about a month ago, when the sun was favoring us a bit more than it is now. Isaac and a friend were searching for plastic glow-in-the-dark bugs hidden in the rocks at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum - an activity connected to an exhibit on bioluminescence. The spinning sculpture watched over them as they studied the ground.

I often think that children should be considered bioluminescent, as clearly they make their own light.

Hey Harriet has all the shadows to beat. Check it out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

These Days

Isaac: These days I've seen people with shopping carts. I mean, not at stores, just people have them, like they must have bought them. Have you seen that man that sits on the ground and he has like hundreds of blankets in a shopping cart?

Me: Yes. That man has those blankets because he doesn't have a home. He uses them when it's cold if he had to sleep outside. 

Doesn't have a home?

He's homeless. Some people choose that life, but other people are homeless because they are having a hard time. Maybe they don't have family to go to or the money to get somewhere to stay. 

He must have friends, though!

Let's hope so.

Because you don't need money to have friends!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. With much gratitude for all we have, for you and for my son whose wit, innocence, and intuitive intelligence knock me off my feet by the hour. And who has inspired from me so much writing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


let's just see how much longer the kid can enjoy treats such as this popsicle...

So far we have failed to convince Isaac to vigorously wiggle his two front teeth (both loose) so as to aid and abet the departure of the little bones from his gum line prior to a certain upcoming holiday, antagonism which we would follow by then inciting him to sing the song apropos of the event while dressed in some elf-like costume that will embarrass him heartily in only a few short years, completing our parenting manipulation duty by posting the performance on numerous social networking sites.

But it could be worse. I could make him watch this video. (if you make it to the end, watch for the green Christmas pig.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shadow Shot - Fuchsia

A simple shadow shot this weekend from my garden.

Check out all the camera creatives this week at the blog Hey Harriet


Friday, November 19, 2010

jeans circa 2010

It had been a VERY long time that I had been in a retail store looking for clothes. I buy a lot of my stuff second hand, and lately I don't buy very much stuff period. But after one more basic of my wardrobe was scarred with an irreversible flaw, I decided to take the plunge.

I can remember being in Hungary in the mid-nineties and thinking I needed to get home before this email “craze” got too out of hand. I didn't want to be too far behind in learning what was what. I was twenty-something with a lot more energy and no clue of just how fast technology was about to fly along the spectrum of new.

Apparently, technology wasn't the only thing to speed ahead. So, I let a bit too much time pass since I've pawed the racks. Now, there is a whole code to finding pants and I didn't get the decoder ring in my cornflakes. Jeans all have coordinates that refer to how long, how stretchy, and how fitted they are. Perhaps you are normal and know this already, but if you are a fashion outcast like me never fear – because it's all made simple by assigning each of these formulas a woman's name.

Let's just called them “Clarissa,” “Lexie,” and “Madeleine” - to protect the innocent. It's a little like being back in high school – and who wouldn't welcome something that fun! “Clarissa” is relaxed through the hips, boot cut. “Lexie” is slim in the waist and hips, fitted down the leg. (Bitch. We hate Lexie.) “Madeleine” sits just below the hips, regular cut.

But the award-winner was something called “the Boyfriend” - and I quote, “slouchy through the hips and waist, relaxed leg.”

One boyfriend to share around with all these women. Trouble.

So far I had survived mostly unscathed and under the radar with only a few “you doin' okays?” Next, I just had to battle the sales clerks at the registers. Mine was surprisingly tolerable, minus her distinctive overuse of the two-syllable descriptor “Sah-weeet!”

I hope I don't make a return trip any time soon, though I'm praying the information cache I've gathered won't devalue. I'm hoping this trip was education enough and that if I come back in another bazillion years it'll be kind of like a soap opera where nothing ever really changes except who's hanging next to the Boyfriend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

holiday greetings

 Every year since Isaac was born, Mike and I shun all those cool templates at Snapfish to make our own holiday cards. The wisdom of this tradition is under investigation and has some interesting predecessors – build your own wedding invitation anyone? Make it a size and shape that you are forced to also make your own envelopes? See bride and groom. See bride and groom fume. See bride leave in a huff. See groom finish envelopes alone. See this pattern repeat – For. The. Rest. Of. Their. Lives.

This year, I'm having more trouble than most working on the card. I had decided to do an original linoleum block print for the design after an old interest in the art form was recently rekindled for me. Months ago I snapped up some paper on clearance at the craft store. It was still spring and juices were flowing.

Oddly, my plan for a block print Christmas card was one of the few things I got to tell my mother the last morning before she died. I didn't tell her how beautiful she was or how I wished we'd stayed longer in April after our flight to Ireland was canceled. I didn't tell her about the miscarriage. But, as she lay bloated and laboring to breathe in a hospital bed in cardio-ICU: “Hey, mom, we're gonna do block prints for our Christmas cards!”

It was June. Did I think that might be the one thing to keep her hanging on? Maybe elect for surgery or heavy duty cardio meds so she could be around to get some winter wonderland scene in the mail pressed onto sale paper?

At the time, I think she nodded. With that, her job was done. Child number four had arrived at her bedside while she was still breathing. She'd beckoned the nurse, calling her into the room by name to show her the 11x14 print I'd brought of Isaac grinning out from a tangle of tree branches and subtitled “I love you, Grandmom! Feel Better!” What else was there to do?

I was starting to get the idea that our usual personalized greeting could become something of a tinder box this year when I tried to come up with a tag line...

“Hope maybe your mom is still alive this holiday season.”
“This year sucked, the new year should be better because at least my mom can't die again.”
“Wishing you joy – somebody might as well have it since it appears unavailable to me.”
“Keep family close this holiday season, unless of course your mom is dead, then, it'd be a little weird.”

I keep hearing from people how my mom “would have loved...(Fill in the Blank).” There's a block print in it for you if you can come up with a card slogan that she would have loved.

Monday, November 15, 2010

for the love of produce

“It's beautiful!” exclaims my son. “Look at it!”

He is referring to a carrot.

I am speechless. Overcome with joy and pride. It's worked. All that time other children spent at the park, or soccer practice, my boy was in training at the farmer's markets.

My work is done here. Thank you. Good night. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

shadow shot - Seattle

This past September our family found itself in Seattle because of a conference Mike was attending. The first two shots below are me over a plaque in the sidewalk at the famous Pike's Peak Market and then the detail of that plaque.

Later in the visit we met up with friends that live there and Isaac got to reunite with his buddies - their 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Wandering around with the kids on a rainy afternoon, we found ourselves at a (mostly) abandoned skate park where the kids had a blast racing around and sliding down the slanted sides.

For all kinds of shadows check out host Tracy's Shadow Shot Sunday at Hey Harriet.

Monday, November 08, 2010

having kids is a series of ups and downs

The End of the Dinosaurs: a Shakespearean-like Tragedy, by Isaac
(Scene: Earth. Post-apocalyptic asteroid hit)
(Cast of Characters: Dinosaurs; Baby Frog)

And then, all the ones with wings started picking up the smaller, defenseless dinosaurs and taking them to safety!

Wow! That's so nice!.

But the dust was too thick (Cough! Cough!). They were choking. Then, another rock the size of (drops voice to a dramatic whisper) the whole entire Universe falls (raises voice to top volume again) CRASHING FROM THE SKY!!! KA-GUSH- BA-FOOOM!!

That sounds bad, dude.

But there was one baby dinosaur... (attempts to cram small dino into a plastic egg, but seeing it doesn't fit abandons it for a stretchy frog)...No, no! A baby FROG is left.

A baby left! Yay!

And the ash is everywhere! And the asteroid sucked away all the gravity and turned it into lava, and, and...


The baby frog hatches in the air.

Go baby frog! Way to survive!

But then, when it leaves the egg it lands right on top of the volcano and it burns up!

I think our days have evolved from Christopher Robin and Pooh to Calvin and Hobbes.

I don't know what you're talking about, Mommy, but get out of the way – the volcano is still erupting!!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Shadow Shot - Emandal

I've been hoarding my shadow shots and have a back log. This week's goes back to September when we visited the fabulous Emandal: A Farm on a River in Mendicino County, California. The marigolds and zinnias. The children traipsing back from a harvest. The funky shadow of a little friend's tail. The bowed trees along the trail.

A beautiful diversity of shadows can be found at Tracy's blog Hey Harriet.

Friday, November 05, 2010

school search, part VII: our children as our best attributes

“Are you on any waiting lists?” my friend asks me when the topic of Isaac's school choices comes up.

“What waiting lists should I be on?”

“I don't know. It just seems like when people discuss schools, they're on waiting lists.”

This is how we talk about education these days.

Mike recently posted his class picture from kindergarten on Facebook to much acclaim. Mike is not one of these people who has a million Facebook friends, or, for that matter, who spends much time on Facebook. At all. So when 20 extensive comments showed up following that shot of a bunch of five- and six-year-olds in dorky plaids and collars to their elbows, it spoke of something significant.

People's comments read like a theater usher's directions: “Third from the left, bottom row, next to the pillar– is that Dawn Shields???!!”

There was discussion about the spellings of names, about the parents of the little fashionistas and which of them may or may not have served as den mothers and scout leaders. There was an ongoing volley about one of the classmates and her battle with cancer. The excitement in the banter (cancer aside) was palpable. There was a liberal use of punctuation – ellipses, dashes and question marks, perhaps followed by an entire row of exclamation points. In other words, it was a scene, man.

If Mike's little FB experience is any indication, who you hang with around the art table, the first bunch of people you wrestle with for your turn at the water fountain, create a lasting impression. No one talked about math lessons or reading circles. They talked about who they were in relation to each other. The social ins and outs. The personal hurts and triumphs.

We search for the right “academic” environment to set down our little people. We rank schools based on test scores. I suppose because it's measurable and this other stuff is messy. When did we decide we don't have the time for messy? Who's getting in the sandbox with me?

Look. We are fucked up as a people. But it wasn't always so. We used to be them – the kids – innocent, joyful. We have the power to help them. Furthermore, there is potential for them to help us.

A scruffy-faced man in slouchy, dirty jeans and a ballcap that reads “Go to the Edge” walks into the sports center pool area. He looks tired. Truth be told, he looks even a bit frightening. Except that he is flanked by two little girls, each grasping one of his rough hairy paws. They are probably around three and six. They are golden-haired with purple butterfly clips in their curls. Both wear pink bathing suits, the younger one's complete with tutu bouncing about on her tiny hips. He grins down at them and they bound away for the water. As context, these little girls change everything about the scene. They presumably share the genes of this hulking scrap heap of a man, or more to the point, he shares theirs. Somewhere inside him there is something this delicate. Something precious. There is a pink tutu. I just know it.

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