Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Go Team Go!


I was so excited when Jenny started working at CC.  Finally, I had someone to talk football with!  And not just any football, real NFC North football.  You see Jenny’s a Bears fan, and out here in Cali, a Bear’s fan is the next-best-thing to a Packers fan. 

Jenny ought to be a Packers fan, really.  She’s from the UP, but at 4 years old, she felt sorry for the getting-their-bums-whooped underdogs and started rooting for the Bears.  And she stayed loyal.  But her husband and most of the rest of her family.  They’re Packers fans.

When Jenny found out she was expecting, she knew her family was going to smother her daughter in Packers gear.  An idea for the perfect present popped into my head.  I love knitting blankets; I could make a baby blanket for her new daughter.  And I could make it so both parents would approve.

It was my first foray into color-work.  I knitted as usual, just switching yarns when I wanted to switch colors.  The colors didn’t go together the way I expected; there were lacy holes along the diagonal lines.  After trying a few other techniques, I decided I liked the style this method created best.  For the middle joint, where the colors changed on the same stitch every row instead of on a diagonal, I alternated the color-switching between two stitches.

Originally, I tried doing orange and yellow yarn together in the middle so that one team didn’t seem to be preferred.  But it looked awful.  I removed the orange yarn and decided I’d even things out by choosing an orange blanket binding for the edges.  Baby blankets aren’t the same without a silky edge.

Since I knew the baby was going to be a girl, I put a little bunny rabbit appliqué on one side.  On the other, a football.  I was very excited with the blanket.  Jenny loved it, and I hope little Stacy is loving it, too.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Pirate’s Life for Me

The waves crashed into the side of the boat with tremendous force.  A storm was brewing for sure, and it was only a matter of time before the pirate ships headed on a collision course would meet.  The larger ship had recently been captured and still held its precious cargo.  Unfortunately for the pirate captain, the ship hadn’t been transporting gold or even something useful like cannons.  No, this ship belonged to a zoo and was transporting a large menagerie across the wide ocean.

pirates (4)The smaller ship had no cargo, only a lone, fierce and brave pirate and her monkey.  The monkey had a small treasure chest of its own, but the pirate had nothing other than her wits and trusty combination-rapier-and-telescope to guide her through the menacing ocean.  She buckled down and prepared for battle as her tiny boat neared the massive zoo ship.

The pirate captain couldn’t maneuver the massive zoo ship, and the spunky little pirate drew close enough to attack.  A raging battle commenced, and as the pirate captain’s sword was chopped to pieces, she began off-loading her cargo, flinging tigers and raccoons and chipmunks at the little pirate.  The little pirate began filling her boat with the valuable animals-turned-ammunition, but she didn’t let up.  She continued her attack and seized the large ship pirate’s captain hat.  “Ha ha! Now I am the captain,” she cackled, launching animals back at the zoo.

pirates (7) The battle raged on and on until both pirates’ combination-rapier-and-telescopes were broken into tiny unusable pieces, the ocean was littered with swimming, floating and sinking animals, the pirates were too exhausted to keep fighting, and and the pirates had to summon their daddy to put the smoke detector back on the ceiling.

Ok, ok, so the ocean waves were only Mommy’s green carpeting, the small boat a Dell computer box and all the zoo animals stuffed, but for me and Munchkinhead, it was a real pirate adventure.  And one of our favorite games to play at Christmas time when wrapping paper tubes combination-rapier-and-telescopes are common.

pirates (1)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Short Fabulous!!

It’s my friend Short Fabulous’s birthday today.  It’s also World Intellectual Property Day, which is rather appropriate for Short Fabulous since she deals with intellectual property a lot in her cyberlaw practice.

“I thought you’d be bigger.”  Those were my first words upon meeting Short Fabulous in person for the first time.  We were standing near the baggage claim in the Seattle airport about spend the week together sharing a hotel room for the INTA Annual Meeting four years ago.  “Vertically or horizontally?” With a quip like that, I should have known we’d be friends.

There’s this idea that gets tossed around a lot in discussions about applying for jobs.  It’s the idea of the “on paper” version verses the “real life” version.  On paper, Short Fabulous and I should not be friends.  Sure, we both do IP law, but beyond that, we appear to be as different as you can get. 

We’re from very culturally different parts of the country; we’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum; she loves comfy clothes, flat shoes and as little primping as possible; the list goes on and on, we even come up on different sides of IP law issues.  In fact, our opinions on most matters are so far apart we keep a list of things about which we agree.  I think that list has like 5 items on it now.

But despite all our differences, she’s still one of my favorite friends out here.  She’s fabulous, and that’s all you need.  We both have this underlying silliness that sneaks out – ok, hers sneaks out, mine sort of rampages – and it’s super fun to have a cohort in that.  She’s always up for an adventure, whether it’s a boat ride, a new restaurant, a shopping trip or sharing a hotel room with a complete stranger.  When I get stumped on a legal issue or need to brainstorm out loud, she’s on my short-list of attorneys to call.  Plus, I know I can always rely on her when I just need to vent or cry or chat.

Cheers to a great friend!  And very happy birthday wishes!

avatar suggestion for cathy.1

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deeper in the Blood Rose Trilogy

Man, Kaki Warner makes me want to move to New Mexico.   Her second book in the Blood Rose Trilogy, Open Country, is just as beautiful and engaging as Pieces of Sky.  

The Blood Rose Trilogy is about the Wilkins brothers, owners of a large cattle ranch in New Mexico in the second-half of the 19th century.  Open Country takes place a few years after Pieces of Sky ends and revolves around one of the younger brothers, Hank.  (The first novel is about the oldest brother, Brady.)  It’s really neat to have characters you love and know well appear again as secondary characters.  It adds depth to the novel and makes it even more enveloping.

I didn’t have the same connection to this book as I did to the first one, but I still couldn’t put it down, despite the fact that I accidentally ordered the large print version and so had a pretty heavy weight to hold up.  I devoured this novel in just three days.  Warner’s descriptions are enchanting and the dialogue quick paced. It’s hard not to fall in love with the characters as they fall in love with each other.

The book is a great love story and a decent adventure story - thankfully, with quite a bit less blood and gore than the first novel.  The only downside of Warner’s books is they make me so wistful.  It must be wonderful to be loved the way her main characters are. 

I am definitely looking forward to the last book in the trilogy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Livin’ on the Edge

We like to, perhaps we even need to, distance ourselves from others sometimes.  When we see someone in a situation in which we do not want to find ourselves, our initial reaction is to find out how they got there.  What did they do?  More importantly, what did they do that we would never do?  As long as they did something that is different from what we do, we’re safe.  Or so we think.  But it’s a fallacy and a dangerous one.  We are all closer than we think to things we don’t want to think about.

Every second Tuesday, Marin County has a special court proceeding called Community Court.  There are lawyers and there’s a judge, a court commissioner in her black robes with her clerk and her bailiff.  There’s an American flag standing next to the table where the judge presides.  There’s lawyers and clients, too.  But, it doesn’t take place in a court room; it takes place in the dining hall at St. Vincent dePaul’s.  The clients aren’t given a court date here by a police officer issuing a ticket.  They’re referred and must complete a process with Legal Aid of Marin before being allowed to use this special court.

This court is for people for whom a single citation can get them sucked into the system, trapped in a web of ever-growing fines they will never be able to pay.  A spiral that often leads to lost drivers’ licenses and then lost jobs because they can not get to work followed by lost housing because they have no job.  Eventually, it involves rotations in and out of jail as serving time is the only way to handle the tickets they cannot pay. 

“Life-style infractions,” they’re called, tickets for sleeping in the park, for having an open alcohol container on the street, for sleeping in your car, for sitting on the sidewalk, for being homeless and not being allowed to be anywhere.  The court also handles minor traffic violations for people who cannot afford the tickets.  Often, violations involving a vehicle that is also the person’s only shelter.

Community Court provides a way out, a way to stop the downward spiral before it begins.  Social workers talk to the clients about options for obtaining shelter and work, attorneys meet with clients and propose alternative sentences to the judge.  And the judge talks to the attorneys and the clients and the social workers and she makes agreements with the people, not fines, not punishments, agreements.  Agreements to help better their lives.  Community service, housing logs, job search logs, one step at a time, get the car insured then come back, etc., and always “no new tickets.” 

People come back month after month having completed their side of the agreements and the judge takes care of the tickets.  Another chance, the ability to move on, with housing, with a job.

Seeing them, reading this, it’s easy to think of the Community Court clients as “other,” but they’re more us, more you and more me, than we’d like to think.  Sure, there are people who come in who just like living in their cars.  There are high school drop outs with old drug addictions.  But there are also engineers, consultants who used to travel monthly to Asia, people with college degrees and masters degrees.  People who were getting by until a divorce, or a car accident or a loss in the family.  People who had a “normal” life on that edge we all forget we’re on.

Community Court’s a great program.  I hope we all have such opportunities when we need them.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mousies for the Whole Year

“The mouse isn’t moving,” Munchkinhead said to me over the phone as I was walking down the street a few weeks ago.  It was March and I just couldn’t figure out what she was doing with the mouse at that time of year.  I mean, the mouse only comes out for Christmas.  

Mommy unpacks him on the day after Thanksgiving and he sits in the “1” pocket until December starts, his little bow tie peeking over the edge of the pocket.  Every day he hops over a pocket, “2,” “3,” “4,” all the way to “24,” slowly counting down to Christmas.

Mousie is my favorite Advent countdown calendar.  Even better than the ones with the little doors and the chocolates inside.  Growing up, we would clamor for it to be our turn, “I wanna move the mousie!  I wanna move the mousie!”  When I come home for Christmas, Mommy and Munchkinhead save the mousie for me so I can move him.  He’s just adorable with his big round ears and cute little poofy nose.  What a great little mouse.

But as much as I love that mouse, I still couldn’t understand why Munchkinhead was playing with it in March.  Then I realized she was on her computer.


nexus 7 136

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sports and Politics, Book Review of Game Over

41hAKt30pLL._AA160_[1]The lesson I learned from this read is that a good book can be ruined by too much soap-box.  Game Over by Dave Zirin is mostly a well-written, engaging book.  It looks at the sports-world, both in America and abroad, and it’s relationship with politics.  These are connections that need to be better recognized and Zirin does a good job of drawing the lines to make the connections.

The first chapter begins with the Green Bay Packers – so of course, how could I not love that – and the connections between the Packers, the NFL Lockout, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Occupy Movement.  Other chapters cover soccer and the Arab Spring, the Olympics and a global movement towards police states, and the NCAA and labor. 

The most powerful chapter is the one on Joe Paterno and the sports world’s willingness to turn its eyes from very terrible wrongs.  As Zirin points out, “this is what happens when a football program becomes the economic, social, and spiritual heartbeat of an entire region.”  I have no doubt that had this book been written a few months later, that chapter would have included conversation about Stubenville as well.

The chapter on “Sexuality and Sports” highlights far more than just your average “woman aren’t treated equally” view.  Zirin gets into everything from the ultra-sexualization of some women athletes to the full gender spectrum that includes more than those on the outer edges of masculine and feminine.   If you were to pick up this book and only read 2 chapters, I’d definitely suggest this one and the one on Paterno.

As I said, Game Over is mostly well-written.  It’s sprinkled throughout with a little too much of Zirin’s own politics.  These things can be glossed over for the most part, until you get to the last chapter.  Zirin attempts to write about racism in sports, but it comes off as if he’s grasping at straws.  I’m not saying there is no racism in sports, but Zirin doesn’t do a good job of putting together a compelling narrative.  He also strays way off topic going into the Trayvon Martin shooting (racism but not sports) and Tim Tebow’s faith (sports but not racism).  Other than that one chapter, I’d highly recommend the book.

Game Over is a short read and fodder for a good number of long night’s thinking.  The toughest part for me now that I’m done reading it is who to lend it to first.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Flowered Empress

Back to those fun Christmas presents.  Here’s a shirt I made for Mommy.   I’d had the fabric around for awhile, holding onto it because I thought it would look great on Mommy.  I’d even found the perfect pattern for it.   I decided Christmas would be the perfect excuse to finally turn that fabric into a beautiful shirt.

The pattern is an empire waist that ties in the back.  It’s one of the super easy Simplicity patterns, so it didn’t take long to make.  The flowered fabric is sort of silky, but heavy enough to hold it’s shape nicely, and it’s quite soft.  I added some lace edging to the neckline and sleeves.  Hopefully the lace on the back of the neck doesn’t itch too much.



Front of Shirt


 Back of Shirt


Pattern: Simplicity 2322

Monday, April 15, 2013

Next to Normal, Far from Ordinary

Capture 59This past Friday, I attended the opening night of Next to Normal at Contra Costa Civic Theater, or CCCT as it is affectionately and tongue-twisterly known as.   Next to Normal was absolutely phenomenal!

I was very excited about this show and I was not disappointed.  I first saw Next to Normal on Broadway in 2009 while visiting my friend in NYC over Christmas break, and I absolutely loved it.  It won 3 Tony’s that year.  CCCT’s version is just as good as the Broadway production; perhaps even better because of the far more intimate theater. 

The show tells the story of a manic-depressive woman and the effects her illness has on her life and her family.  The entire cast is only six people: mother, father, son, daughter, daughter’s boyfriend and mother’s psychiatrist.  It’s a very moving story with fabulous music and poignant lyrics.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the end.  I was full-on sobbing.

The cast and live band were excellent.  Everyone carried their part well and the voices worked beautifully together.  In fact, listening to the original cast recording, I’d prefer a soundtrack by the CCCT cast.   I was very pleased to see Nikita Burshteyn back at CCCT in the role of the daughter’s boyfriend.  He was the best singer in the theater’s last production, Children of Eden, and he has a very unique, attractive look.  The costuming and scenery were also well done.

The only thing that could be criticized was the sound.  There were a few glitches during some of the songs and some early balancing issues.  However, as it was opening night, these are things that will likely be fixed for the remainder of the production.

Next to Normal runs at CCCT in El Cerrito through May 5th.  I highly recommend it.  (I’ll probably be going back myself.)  Tickets are $28.50 and available here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Rabbit for a Bunny

A guest post by Daddy Bunny

P4081753She is absolutely adorable, and she’s my new friend.  She has very long floppy ears, much longer than mine.  She has a round patch on her tummy, but you almost can’t see it because her fur is so thick.  And she has a scarf around her neck.  Her name is Ms. Rabbit.

My aunt from Belgium sent her to us in a box.  There was a note inside from my cousin, Mr. Moose.  He said they found her hopping around in the street.  She was cold and lost.  Poor Ms. Rabbit.  Mr. Moose took her home, but my aunt said they couldn’t keep her.  So, they sent her here to be my friend. 

My mom says she thinks my aunt made Ms. Rabbit, but that’s silly because rabbits are born, not made.

She is very nice, so far. Everyone’s nice when they’re new somewhere.  She brought me a scarf, too.  It’s yellow and green, like my clothes.  We’re about the same size, except for her really long ears, so we sit nicely together on the bed. 

I’ve been showing her around our home.  We snuck into the kitchen to get some jelly beans and we played hide and seek in my mom’s office.  There’s lots of places to hide in there because it’s not very neat.  I also showed Ms. Rabbit how much fun it is to jump on the big bed.  And we shared the magic carrot that Uncle Nathan gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  It’s magic because you can eat and eat and eat it and it never gets smaller or goes away.

I think I am going to have lots of fun with Ms. Rabbit around here.  She may even be able to teach me some Flemish!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is my absolute favorite book.  I’ve read it at least a dozen times, seen the A&E/BBC film version well over twice that, turn my nose up at the Keira Knightly version – removing Mrs. Hurst really changes the dynamics between Elizabeth and Caroline Bingley – and try every few years to make (or have Mommy make) my own turn of the 19th century gown;  first one, third one.

41AsSINdSlL._AA160_[1]Alfred’s wonderful husband, Nathy-Boo, knowing how much I love all most things Pride-and-Prejudice got me a most excellent Christmas present in The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, revised and expanded edition, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard.  I’ve read versions of the novels with some footnotes or endnote annotations before, but nothing quite like this.  Every single page of the novel is heavily annotated, all left-hand pages are novel text, all right-hand pages are annotations.  The resulting book is as fat as Gone with the Wind!

Some of the annotations are the fairly standard ones, describing a word that’s not common in English any longer or geographical descriptions of places mentioned in the book.  There’s also detailed explanations of small nuances in Austen’s text, subtleties that would go over the heads of anyone not intimately acquainted with social life of the gentry in early 19th century England.  My favorite annotations are the vocabulary definitions for English words that have since changed meaning.

There’s pictures of various carriages, houses and landscapes similar to those described, garments, shoes and activities.  There’s maps of England to describe the characters’ travels and a chronological listing of events in the book with dates as exact as Shapard could get them. – This proves extremely useful in showing how destroyed the story would have been had Facebook existed at the time.  Elizabeth would have known of Lydia’s elopement before having a chance to run into Darcy and he may never of won her love.

Shapard is pretty good at keeping the reference numbers at the ends of sentences, but if there’s several things to comment on in one sentence, the numbers, and thus the annotations, can interrupt Austen’s descriptions or characters’ dialogue.  I certainly learned a lot reading this version and now find myself looking for extra details when watching the film version.

A note of caution, I would only recommend this book to someone who is already very familiar with the book, but not for say a high school student reading it for the first time for class.  The sheer amount of annotations makes it difficult for the reader to follow the novel’s flow.  I often found myself turning back to the left page trying to remember where in the story I was. If you love Pride and Prejudice and want to understand its world better, I highly recommend this version.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Decade of Craziness

Wow, ten years, can you believe it?  Today is the 10th anniversary of my first blog post.  Back then, the blog was called “Why You Think I’m Weird, Stories from My Childhood” and was hosted on LiveJournal.  Remember LiveJournal? 

My very first post was called “Wormhole,” and like many of my early posts, it was quite short.  When I began the blog, I was really just transferring mediums.  My posts were things I used to leave in my AIM status update box; fun little stories about when I was a kid.  (Apparently both AIM and LiveJournal are still out there.)

As I explored this new medium, my posts slowly grew in length, but the topics mostly stayed the same: fun stories from when I was kid.   More current fun stories started to get mixed in – though honestly, for many of my adventures, if I don’t tell you how old we were, we could have been 10 or 30.  And then I went to Zambia.

For two years, my posts were sparse as I dealt with infrequent access to shaky internet connections.  I remember sitting in the small internet café in Monze, typing for an hour only to have my post lost when the internet connection went down; Monze, and Kitwe and Choma, it happened everywhere.  I’d give up and wind up posting just a short note, like this.

I wrote for a bit when I returned from Zambia.  Then, there was a long break.  Life gets in the way like that sometimes.  When I picked up blogging again in law school, there was a definite shift to the present.  After a few months, I moved the blog to Blogger and switched the title to better reflect the content.  Since then, it’s been a mix of all sorts of things.  I think the stories from growing up are still my favorites, though.

Blogging’s changed a lot over the past decade.  The original LiveJournal  community was all people I knew, either my family members or friends from from college.  The nature of my posts really reflected that.

In 2008 and 2009, blogging felt to me like it was in it’s heyday.  I had readers from all over the place and the community around my blog was made up of both people I knew well from life and people I only knew from their own blogs and our comments with each other.  In many ways, I think Twitter played a big role in the demise of that part of my blogging community.  Twitter also had a big effect on my own blogging.  It gave me a different outlet; one that required far less thinking than a full blog post needs.

I’m not sure what the future of blogging will look like.  It often seems outdated to me know with the massive amounts of news sites and things like Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  But I’m glad my blog’s still here and I’m glad I have a place to keep writing.  Thanks for keeping reading.


Interesting Blog Stats

Most-visited post of all time, The Legend in his Rick Ross Halloween costume. with over 2300 views since it was posted in 2009.  (The second-most popular post only has just under 800 views, by comparison.): Hallo Weeeeee Een

Total posts to-date: 622

Most common tags: picture, Cali and Zambia

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Skulls for School: Sewing with Alfred

“When you come to visit, will you help me with a sewing project?” Alfred asked during one of our excited phone calls leading up to my visit.  “Of course.”  Alfred’s a pretty simple person, so I figured whatever she wanted couldn’t be too complicated.  I was sort of right.

Alfred explained that at her work – she works at a dental school – there’s a lot of old xrays that she’s helping to catalogue.  The school has a special scanner for digitizing these xrays, and dust was getting into the scanner. Dust in the scanner is not a good thing.  She heard of another group who had a cover for their xray machine and thought her school should have one, too. 

Mommy had just made a plethora of really cute sewing machine covers for her hoards of sewing machines.  “Ok,” I thought, “I can just modify Mommy’s sewing machine cover pattern a little bit.”  That general idea worked, but it turned out to be more than “just” and way more than “a little bit.”  The xray scanner is rather huge.


It’s deep; you can see here it’s as deep as the counter, which is deeper than the computer tall.  It’s tall, almost two-computer towers tall.  And it’s wide.  It’s also not as nicely rectangular as Mommy’s sewing machines.

Alfred and I went to her work and took measurements of the scanner, every dimension.  Then we headed off to her local JoAnn’s to find the perfect fabric.

And boy did we ever find the perfect fabric!  Luckily, JoAnn still had some old Halloween fabric on clearance.  It took us about a half hour and two sweeps of the whole store to find it, but once we did, Bingo!  Dancing skeletons for the main body and teethy skulls for the ruffle trim.  Perfect for the scanning dental xrays.

fabric sample 1fabric sample 2


The machine cover pattern Mommy had used had a few odd errors in it, which were compounded when I multiplied fabric-piece measurements to match the behemoth machine.  I found myself trimming off extra inches on the main piece after it was assembled.  And somehow, I didn’t multiply enough for the trim fabric, so the ruffle couldn’t go all the way around and still be a ruffle.  That turned out to actually be a good think as there wasn’t enough room behind the machine for a ruffle anyway.

Alfred’s machine was not a fan of stitching on the heavy batting and I repeatedly had to pull tangled masses of thread out of the bobbin feeder.   Alfred shrugged; she had no idea how to make it work better and neither did I.  In a final fit of frustration, I called Mommy.  She waved her magic Mommy wand and the machine started behaving.  I don’t know how she does it, but that always seems to work.

By the time I finished sewing the lining into our giant, quilted box, I wanted to hide inside of it and scare Nathy-Boo.  It seemed the perfect size.  I was wrong; I’m bigger than I think.

When it was all done, we took the new machine cover to Alfred’s work and put it on the machine.  It fit nicely, yay!  I hope they have been getting good use out of it.

Wendy and cover

Pattern: Moda's Half Moon Modern Sewing Room: Sewing Machine Cover

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my Daddy’s birthday.  He doesn’t like having his photographs on the internet, so I drew this picture of him.

Daddy’s very fun.  He taught me how to ride a bike.  Something I miss very much (only crazy bike fanatics ride in the Bay).  And he taught me how to make oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.  He used to make those for breakfast for us before school when we were little.  They’re still two of my favorite breakfast foods.

He also taught me how to walk away from a fight…. but that one wasn’t by example.

My favorite memories of Daddy come from two places: the breakfast table and family vacations.   Daddy didn’t just make sure we ate breakfast before going to school; he made sure we were fully entertained as well.  I don’t think he was actually trying to entertain us; he was just being Daddy.  Everything from songs to reading bits of the newspaper to explaining things from whatever book he’d been reading lately, usually something about physics or the Civil War.

Family vacations were awesome!  Daddy would start planning months in advance, ordering AAA books and visitor guides directly from cities and towns we would be visiting.  He’d read to us the descriptions of museums we might see and blurbs about the towns’ histories, building anticipation for everything we’d see.

Every detail of the trip would be planned out, what time we’d leave home, when we’d arrive at museum A, when we go to zoo B, when we’d check into a hotel, when we’d have dinner.  Every route would be mapped out in his mind, planned based on his studies of the AAA maps that would soon be piled in the glove compartment.  Daddy always seemed to love planning those trips as much as we enjoyed actually going on them.

When it was finally time for the big adventure, we’d pile in the car with our carefully packed suitcases, cooler of snacks and busy bags for the back seats.  We’d watch the scenery go by, play Cows in the Cemetery, Road Bingo, the Alphabet Game and all sorts of other silliness that Daddy so nicely put up with.  And we’d sing! 

We went so many interesting places.  Old battlefields – while walking on the grounds of the battle of Tippecanoe, Daddy said to rather young me, “you know, people died where you’re walking,” – children’s zoos – the one in Fort Wayne, Indiana is awesome, – parks, houses some distant relative lived in, a town with my name, and museum after museum after museum.  We learned so much on those vacations.  One of my favorites was the Ball Glass museum in Munsee, Indiana, simply because it’s so ridiculous.  It’s a room full of glass jars. 

I love meeting people and asking them where their from and watching the priceless expression on their face when I say, “Oh, I’ve been there on vacation!”  That’s thanks to Daddy.  He rocks.


More posts about how great Daddy is:
Daddy picking us up from daycare
General awesomeness about Daddy
Breakfast songs with Daddy

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: A Reliable Wife

Book CoverI couldn’t wait to finish this book.  Not because I wanted to know what happened but because I couldn’t stand it and I wanted to finish it and write and awful review.  But, I can’t.  By the time I got to the end, I liked it.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick is billed in the cover flap as “reminiscent of the classic novels of the Brontës and du Maurier.”  “Excellent,” I thought, “I loved Rebecca and Wuthering Heights.”  But A Reliable Wife differs starkly from those in that it begins – and practically ends – with no likeable characters.  Everybody’s awful.  Everybody’s mean and evil and such.  The only character I felt remotely fondly of was the main male character, Ralph Truitt.  And that’s solely because he has a good Wisconsin name.

The narrator tells the story through two different points of view, Ralph’s, and the main female, Catherine’s.  There really is only one other non-minor character and his is the only mind into which we do not see.  The story begins with Ralph and Catherine meeting.  He put out an advertisement for a wife; she answered.  And here she is, in the middle of rural Northern Wisconsin, to meet her future husband.

You can imagine I was excited about Wisconsin as a setting, but it’s whole purpose is to add gloom and darkness to the novel.  In fact, it’s Winter for the entire story.  Short days, long nights, bitter cold and lots and lots of snow.  Of course I was a tad offended, being so highly protective of my home state’s pure goodness, but I cannot blame Goolrick for his choice.  The inspiration for this novel was a book called Wisconsin Death Trip.

My biggest problem with the book, and the reason I disliked until very near the end, is that it is not a what’s-going-to-happen kind of story.  It’s a what-the-heck-is-going-on kind of story.  Every character seems to know exactly what is going on, but the reader is certainly on the outside looking in, trying to piece together the story as it happens.  Filling in the past to the point that by the middle of the book, the reader’s just starting to grasp what was going on in the first chapter.  I prefer to be as informed as at least one of the characters.  More time thinking about what might happen, less scratching my head about what is happening.

In the end though, I think I’ll reread the book.  Now that I know what was going on, I may catch things I missed before.  I probably wouldn’t feel that way, except I liked the ending.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We interrupt your regularly scheduled silliness for this Rant about Our Sexual Abuse Culture

I love dresses and makeup and heels and pink and dolls and sewing and knitting and cleaning and heels, oh I love heels!  But, quite frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of being a girl.

I’m tired of constantly having to be on the defensive.  I’m tired of constantly dealing with smiling through unwanted and often threatening encounters in order to protect your fragile egos.  I’m tired of having to demurely say “thank you” and blushing after you’ve followed me in your car through the parking lot to yell, “you’re stunning” or “you’re beautiful” or “you’re gorgeous” or something far worse at me out your window. 

I’m tired of your assumption about what I “must want” based on how I look, what I’m wearing or how I happened to be shaped.

And I’m sure as heck tired of our culture’s nonchalant attitude and acceptance of your doing whatever you want to us because we were somehow “asking for it.”

Capture 56George R. R. Martin, author of the series that includes Games of Thrones, responded to the attacks that his fantasy novels have been receiving for their frequent depictions of rape – as one author put it, so frequent it’s “rape as wallpaper” – His response,“I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it .”  That people complain there’s too much rape and he basically says, “it’s just sex” exemplifies the problem better than any of his critics could.

But, women, we’re just there for your sexual pleasure aren’t we.  After all, a woman travelling on vacation with condoms has to be a prostitute being paid for her sexual pleasures.  Clay Nikiforuk was simply trying to pass through the US for a connecting flight when she was detained for hours because custom officials were certain she would only carry condoms if she were selling herself.  How we dress, what we carry, has to mean we’re a certain type of person, doesn't it? And give you a license to do whatever you want.  They actually asked her if she wanted to be sexually assaulted!

And of course, if something should happen, it’s on us to figure out what we could should have done differently.  We shouldn’t have been carrying x; we shouldn’t have worn y; we shouldn’t have had that much to drink; we shouldn’t have told.  But that’s what we get for carrying that, for wearing that, for drinking that, for talking to you, for being there.  That’s what we get for being a girl.

So you see, I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of it all.  But, I’m going to keep wearing my dresses and my makeup and my heels, because I like them.  But watch out.  One of these days, instead of turning and smiling and politely saying “thank you,” I’m going to deck you.  Or better yet, kick you in the shin with my heels; you’ll be asking for it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pink Polka-Dots

It was my favorite nightgown, long, warm, cozy; it was like being wrapped in Mommy’s love..  White flannel with pink polka dots, delicate pink ribbon trim.  I have so many fond memories of wearing that nightgown; Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, curled up on the couch watching tv, snuggling into my bed, getting toothpaste on the sleeve…  I’m glad Mommy made it so long because that meant as  I grew it still fit.  I always considered that very “Little House” of her.  When I did finally grow out of that nightgown, when polka dots were almost gone and the sleeves came only to my elbows and my shoulders couldn’t squeeze inside, I was very sad.  I loved that nightgown.

mommy's nightgown neckSo, when Mommy put “nightgown” on her Christmas list, I totally called dibs and immediately headed to JoAnn’s to look for some white flannel with pink polka dots.  The store had exactly what I was looking for, and some matching pink ribbon.

Mommy’s nightgown isn’t as long as mine was – she’s already tripping on her slippers, don’t need her tripping on the nightgown, too – and it has short sleeves.  It’s still cozy, though, like mine was.  And it’s very cute.  Well, I might be biased.

The pattern, being Simplicity, was pretty easy.  The lined yoke didn’t present any problems, which was good because I’ve done plenty of yokes where that wasn’t the case.  The rest of the nightgown is unlined, allowing it to be, I hope, the right combination of snuggly-warm and breezy-cool.  The pink ribbon I chose for the edging had it’s own decorative edging, which made it fairly easy to hide my stitches when sewing it down.  I hope Mommy’s gotten good use of it this winter.

mommy's nightgown front

Pattern: Simplicity 4048