Friday, October 30, 2009

There and Back Again

I am going through Kate Nepveu's re-read of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. She writes a summary of each chapter and includes her reactions and then there are chatty comments on each post too. (I am reading some but not all of the comments, there is a limit to my interest in what an enthusiast thinks those hobbits were up to.) This annotated re-reading is such a social thing, so meta, everyone discussing their impressions, what they don't understand or misunderstood. What they love about a passage. Whether a balrog has wings. What words resonate with them or seem de trop. And discussion of the movies is woven in there too. It's quite a contrast to my memories of reading LOTR as an intensely solitary activity. These are beloved fantasy adventure books of my first most voracious era of reading (age 9 to 18). It was an exciting effort of imagination for me to get through them in 4th grade. Of course I let much of it wash over me as a kid. The always present, lengthy landscape descriptions can be exhausting. And the history of Middle Earth is so convoluted that my husband still uses The Silmarillion as bedtime reading. He loves it but it still puts him to sleep. (I never read that one, I couldn't get past its first deadly section.)

When I first encountered the 1969 National Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings in college, I devoured it but I also felt like I was betraying old JRR by laughing. (According to Wikipedia Bored has never gone out of print. And it is well worth reading if you are not too reverent a Tolkien fanboy.) As a young person I missed female characters (the rare appearance of one would grab my attention) but not enough to put down the story. I love some of the moments in the books, the quest, the heroic gestures, the love for home and for companions that is expressed. The author's chosen archaic language sometimes seems hacky to me but sometimes works poetically. From Ms. Nepveu's re-reading, she points out the following high elf quote as being particularly clunky: “That is the doom that we must deem.” Indeed. But perhaps we deem it at our peril, eh?

One of the wise commenters mentions a passage that acts as "a corrective to the solemnity that in LOTR often threatens to topple into pomposity." Yes.


Speaking of peril, I'm going to spend the night in a cabin, camping with the brownies. Patchy frost, low of 36 says the forecast. You may now admire my fortitude. We'll see what I have to say tomorrow.


A little DIY Goldsworthy for you:

I noticed that the red fallen leaves had blown almost equally onto each step. I wished for my camera and thought that it might all be gone in the morning. But I got another chance and snapped the picture just as it started to rain.

Via Kottke, here's a page of the best 100 music videos of the decade. Drool. I need a laptop and room to dance, stat! Oh and a weekend I could afford to squander, that'd be good too.


From 10/28's Nothing But Bonfires comments which is chock full of everyone's favorite sign misspellings and malapropisms.
'In tones of disdain, she said "What's the hold up? It's not rocket surgery."' I'm going to try and use that one very soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Report

My lovingly hand crafted fairy wings are progressing and looking pretty good. Lexi was unable to imagine how 2 hangers and a pair of tights would be at all useful to a fairy. But she was convinced once I got it all together. Decorating continues...

I also sewed a sailor suit for Katy's monkey -- a prop for her Pippi Longstocking costume. I got pretty tired of dressing the monkey but I figure it's probably the only time she'll ask me to do that particular job. I am trying to remember to soak it up.

Finished Nigel Slater's Eating for England which I soldiered through even though it's really only for those who were raised on English biscuits. I enjoyed bits and it's written in tiny little (less than a page mostly!) squibs perfect for before-sleep reading. Nigel did teach me the word "anorak" which I take it now is a synonym for "crackpot" as well as a puffy winter coat.

Also finished Jean Webster's Daddy Long-Legs (1912) this weekend. I'd seen the film with Fred Astaire and the dreamy Leslie Caron. I remember liking the movie even as I felt some distaste when the benefactor commences to romance his ward. The book is a little less ooky but not ook-free as the power politics remain the same. But it's a jolly little epistolary novel. The orphanage (asylum) is fascinating and the thinly disguised Vassar college descriptions are wonderful. A good use of my Saturday morning. Then I got off my hams and raked four bags of leaves.

Nod came to church on Sunday, he couldn't face it last week because it was [ominous music here] Consecration Sunday. That's when they try and pin you down and get you to make a financial pledge to support the church. This church doesn't like to ask for money. Well, they have an offering plate every Sunday. Other than that, to my surprise, we were never before asked about money. Even when we officially joined the church. They can't bear to do it more than once a year I guess. Very interesting. I told Nod that I was quite intrigued to see how it was done. But he wouldn't come be a participant-observer with me. Didn't like the impression of being rounded up like cattle for the branding iron. I think it made him mad that he couldn't afford to give much too. As far as that goes, I just figured that they can't get blood from a turnip. I'm not embarrassed about that. Maybe we'll be less turnip-y in the years to come who knows. They sweetened the pot by providing a catered lunch. It was fine but mostly featured me haranguing the girls to eat something nutritious before they attacked the dessert table. I am resolved to speak to three people every time I go to church. It's too easy to sit with the kids and be an island. Une ile flottante no doubt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain for Gazing

Spent part of my lunch hour looking out at the rain. It was very soothing and eye-rest-ful. I love to look at weather from inside. I can watch rain or snow through the window for quite a while. And then I might take a little nap, says my reptile brain. Because I am smart enough to come in out of the rain and wait out bad weather. And why not enjoy it if I don’t have to be wet and cold.

While gazing out today at the pattering random raindrop splashes I also took in the autumn foliage, the roof opposite and the passing students. The building opposite is a limestone faced rectangular solid. It hasn't got much to recommend it except for that mellow outer husk. But I was mostly admiring the roof’s crowd of HVAC tubes, huts and towers. There’s a weather spinner (anemometer) up there too. Despite some stiff web searching I can't find a website for on-campus weather info gathering. I must be missing something. Surely those atmospheric researchers want to share with us? The students going by didn’t look too upset by the rain. But all those flip flops and sodden unhemmed pants cuffs made my feet feel cold in sympathy. Inside the building where I sat, I listened to the stomp and squeak of undergraduate feet going up and down stairs. (There was at least one pair of graduate feet in there too. Hi Rich!)

I will be home with the kids tomorrow as the season of frequent school closings is upon us. I have squared it with work so I am looking forward to it now. I might even get some cleaning done. (I guess I make statements like that in the hopes that optimism will carry me all the way to accomplishment.) I wonder if Katy will be unbearable. It seems like unstructured time at home leaves her feeling at a loss and she takes it out on us. And it'll probably be raining -- my unease grows apace. I think I will make a list of things for us to do. It will include "make fairy wings" for Lexi's costume. After some vigorous dithering about Halloween costumes, she wants to be a flower fairy. I was throwing up my hands about wings but have since googled the DIY offerings to be had. Coat hangers and tights seem to be the way to go. Secure the wire ends with duct tape, use ribbons to tie on to the kid, and glue and glitter to decorate. I'm kind of excited about trying this now. (The yen to craft cute unnecessary things is upon me. Stand back!) I wonder how efficient I was about throwing out my old tights...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Just a few thoughts today before I flounce off to my weekend of joyful celebration. Or housecleaning, whichever seems more urgent at the time. By the way I love the mary jane wingtips I ordered! In other updates, my husband is still not declared bankrupt but I think next week is the week.Maybe.I'm going on very little information which is usually how I prefer to experience financial transactions.But perhaps I'll try and squeeze some more info out of Nod tonight.

In imitation of Belgian Waffling's analysis, this was the composition of my Thursday:
35% The sky has been grey for six days.
25% Messing around at work

10% Girl Scout cookie email composition
5% Pleased at my haul from a library visit
5% Why do I have to make dinner, see that the kids eat it, *and* clean up the kitchen?
5% Moment of family unanimity: gingerbread is good
5% The cat wants us to know that she’s Hungry hungry very hungry
1% Enjoying the book I’m reading to oldest for bedtime

5% Packing lunches, for some reason wrapping pickles took an inordinate amount of time
1% Finding the source of the infrequent leak between the upstairs bath and the downstairs bathroom. Boy I wish we’d had the funds to have that all redone.
1% Crap, I forgot to send snack for L’s kindergarten class
2% Nitrogen

My favorite grotesquely stupid webad of the day:
Your Belly is Full of Junk!
Learn the trick to removing the undigested food inside of you... 
Learn more

I can tell you that trick: wait 36 hours until it is disgested or passed. There, now you know.

The grey is making it hard for me to appreciate nature. The foliage has been brilliant colors but lots of it was knocked off by rain. I have made a point to notice the migrating seagulls this week. They circle over campus in a great gang before setting off to the northeast. Must be some good dumpsters to eat from or some parking lots to hang out in thataway. Even though I regard them as bullying scavengers it's still a thrill to see them in the sky at this time of year in great pale flocks.

I recommend What Were You Thinking's latest post about a little green God and justice and the assigning of parts for a production of A Christmas Carol.

Have a value packed weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

March to the Disco Beat

Went to the 9 am Homecoming parade on campus last Saturday. It is a short parade: Marching band, greek floats featuring triumphant jayhawks rendered in paper/plastic, some international students toting flags, a few alum celebs and abashed scholarship kids riding in convertibles. Even toddlers can enjoy a parade that short and as a result I don't think we've missed one yet. They throw candy for the kids so my two were in greedy heaven. I love to see the marching band. I was surprised when I started leaking tears at the sight of the Alumni Band, marching just a little way behind the uniformed flock. They're so geeky and have such a good time. I scolded myself that I should celebrate them and their big smiles, not weep at them. There's even an alumni baton twirler!

I don't think I've shared the extent to which Disco has invaded our home. Katy got a "Discomania" cassette tape at a garage sale this summer and she's on track to wear it out by spring. I'm sure your heart would swell with pride if you heard her singing along with I Will Survive. Or YMCA. She likes the beat to do handstands to. She's been practicing those almost every day. And she invented a no-hands forward roll that's pretty eye catching. Are there any disco-themed cirque du soleil shows? Maybe she'll create one.

And with perfect timing I have been introduced to Mitchell and Webb. Here is a little posh dancing for the Pemberly/disco overlap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


'Sweating like a whore in church' is my new favorite saying. Thank you Go Fug Yourself for that little nugget of culture. And plenty of thanks to those Fug Girls for hours of hooting. I think my San Franciscan friend Lash would enjoy the whore saying. He's the one who enjoys particularly bloody catholic illustrations. He also told me about the tradition of buying a figurine of St. Whoever and entreating him/her to help you out. Then to provide more leverage, you threaten to hang their figurine upside down in a dark closet if help is not promptly forthcoming.

NM Report
The hot air balloons were great one day, we missed the second day and got rained out a third. Lots of good vacay stuff happened in New Mexico. Unfortunately my husband spent the entire time with a cold that varied from slight to miserable. Good thing he had a few days upright and mobile. Got to visit with a lovely h.s. friend who has a two year old. We had a nice chat while my girls played with her adorable smiley toddler. Nice to know someone who had their kid even later than I did! She's as gentle and genuine as I remembered.

We drove up the Jemez road and Nod fell in love with Jemez Springs. It was a beautiful afternoon looking at the cottonwoods turning golden in the valley below the red canyon walls. Had just a few minutes at the totally cool Jemez Pueblo Culture center. I hope we can go back for a tour and hike some time.

Beware the Belt Loop
Jonniker startles her baby in a new way...
Incidentally, I neglected to mention the other day that before I started using a belt to keep my pants up, I was rushing to get Sam from a nap, and the woefully unused belt loop of my pants got caught on our stupid door handles, and I hit the floor face-down, RIPPING MY PANTS OFF IN THE PROCESS. My pants, they just WHOOSH! Right down around the ankles and my face! RIGHT DOWN onto the floor. And the kid, she just SCREAMED! OMFG! AND SCREAMED! Because one second I was there to rescue her! And the next second I just VANISHED! VANISHED, like some sort of PANTSLESS APPARITION.
Love her.

Uncomfy Update
Yesterday Katy had a playdate and went home after school with a neighbor kid. When I picked her up I found that she had announced that we are moving. I was pretty speechless. Our neighbor, a very nice woman I met in my moms' group four years ago, asked whether we had an offer on the house. I just shook my head and goldfished (mouth silently opening and closing) for a moment. Then I said, "It's still up in the air." I've considered calling her back or emailing with an explanation. But I don't know if that's kind or just oversharing when things are so murky. It's awkward. More awkward than meeting your partner's fling's partner, that's for sure. I thought that was tricky but I was so naive.

When we went to the co-housing potluck we told the kids that we were thinking about moving and that this place was a possibility. I trusted to child vagueness about timelines and future events and forgot that Katy might take that info and run with it. Well, brave new world, here we go. We'll make it up as we go along as usual.

Today I used the $50 gift certificate I got for having my cholesterol tested (the state wants me to leverage my health or something) on Zappos. So in the end I'm paying $20 for these in cognac. If you hate them don't tell me.