Obligatory Halloween Post

Posted on 10/31/2010 08:55:00 PM

You might think with the level of stress in my house lately, the sore back that still isn't really better, the ridiculous amount of work that I have been doing and have yet to finish in the next six weeks, etc., we'd have canceled Halloween altogether. It would have been the smart thing to do, really. But I always find that when the going gets tough, the tough run away and hide from what they absolutely have to do, thereby leaving a bigger to do pile for when they come back. It's the American way.

So this week has been filled with multiple school and church Halloween parties, pumpkin carving, and
experiments in insanity. And it all culminated in trick-or-treating through the neighborhood tonight.


The Caterpillar went a little more traditional Halloween theme with the classic, Skeleton. Except when she says it, it sounds half Yiddish/half speech impediment, something more like "sschkel-o-tun." Clearly, speaking as her mother, I want her speech to develop so that she doesn't have a lisp for everyone to make fun of when she goes to grade school, grows up and makes a good impression on job interviews. But also as her mother, I hope she never stops saying it like this. Sschkel-o-tun, sschkel-o-tun, sschkel-o-tun. It's completely delicious.

If my bones were this cute, I'd gladly die tomorrow and walk around like this.

The Dormouse's costume was something that kind of grew from a germ of an idea. First she wanted to be "an angel." I suggested that she was more of a devil most of the time. And then we found a costume that fits her personality better than any other costume in the history of time. The Half Angel/Half Devil.


Kinda gives
her pumpkin a little context, now doesn't it?

She made me take this photo from both sides, but I think you get the idea.

The Dormouse wore her costume to school on Friday, where they had their traditional NotHalloween party where everyone dresses up in costume and has a costume parade like the Harvest Festivals you knew and loved as a kid. Parents were invited, though not required to come, but she desperately wanted me to be there. It was a day I'm normally in the office, and even if I wasn't, I should have been home trying to get my back into some form so I can one day stand upright again. So it was hella inconvenient for me and I wasn't going to go. But then a little voice in my head said, how many more years will it be that she ASKS you to come to school for one of these things? and I realized that I was going to have to suck it up and make it there. When she saw me and starting yelling to her friends, "Look, that's my Mom! MY MOM IS HERE!" I decided to put this into the bag of moments to relish because it won't last long, I know.

Their costume parade, which at this school is a tradition, was all kinds of cute and all kinds of disorganized at the same time. Which is what makes it awesome. The school band played the chorus of and ostinato of Thriller approximately eleventy-thousand-and-seven times as they all wandered around the playground looking like a drunken ant trail from where I was standing.

The other tradition this school has, which I think is kind of awesome, is....


The Phantom!


Apparently, every year someone gets up on the roof of the school building and makes appearances while the kids are parading around the school grounds in their costumes. He only sticks his head up for a few brief seconds and not all the kids even get a glimpse of him. I managed to get a couple decent shots though.


No one seems to know who it is who does this. He's like the Poe Toaster of the elementary school. Someone once suggested to me that it might be the Principal of the school, but he retired last year and the tradition goes on. So maybe, like the Poe Toaster, someone has taken over for him.

Oh and for those of you who wondered about my jack-o-lantern plans? I finally did get a minute to carve my own.


Happy Halloween to all, and to all a good night.

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4 Sanity

Posted on 10/31/2010 03:25:00 PM

I think anyone reading this blog will find it obvious that I'm kind of a Jon Stewart fan. I don't know how else I could make that clear short of pulling my skirt up over my head when he walks by on the street and.. well, that's just silly. We don't live in the same neighborhood.

I also love going downtown for the craziness of major events so it was pretty much a given that I'd try and be there for the
Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Here's the thing about stuff like this. If you're going to an large, crazy event on the National Mall, you have to know that a) it's going to be a miserable physical experience and b) chances are you are NOT going to see some or all of the event. You are just going for the people watching and to say "I was there." So as long as you go with low expectations, you're gonna have a great time.

I was downtown for The Million Man March, the opening of the Korean War Memorial, the AIDS quilt on the Mall, the FDR Memorial's opening day, Clinton's inauguration, and a host of street festivals and events, not to mention several 4th of Julys. I love this city like it's my hometown. There isn't much I would be my life on, but one sure suckers' bet is that whatever the event is, it's not going to be crowded, full of pushy, entitled tourists, and though you might be standing right next to it, you may not see or hear the thing you came down to see. But you are in D.C. and people in D.C. are hilarious. So half the fun is watching them.

From the buildup, I know the Rally was going to be as our Vice President would say, a big $%^&ing deal, but even I underestimated how many would be there.


We'd originally planned to get a babysitter and go unencumbered by shortlings that you could lose in a crowd, but, sadly, our plans for said babysitter fell through. I am seldom willing to admit defeat though, so we took them along. The rally didn't begin until noon, and The Dormouse had a piano lesson at 9:00, so we thought we'd just leave immediately afterward. I wanted to take the Metro down and not park, but The KoH wanted to drive like we did on the 4th of July so when we were ready to go back, we might be stuck in traffic, but at least the kids would be off their feet and strapped into carseats making them somewhat immobile and muchwhat less whiny about walking.

At 8:30, a friend of the KoH's from work called asking for directions to get to the Metro station nearest to us and then he called back at 9:00 to say he'd arrived there but there was a line of cars at least a mile long waiting to get into the parking lot of that station. It was then that I aborted my mass transportation plans and decided to go along with The KoH's idea to drive. Later, when we headed up an overpass to the Beltway and saw that the line of traffic waiting to get into the Metro parking lot now extended out and onto the right lane of the Beltway, I knew we'd made the right decision about driving. At very least we could abandon all plans at any point and just turn around.


So we headed downtown, taking back roads and surprisingly we managed to get there in record time, despite a sudden detour wherein the guy driving in the lane next to us (we learned later) went into diabetic shock and drove his car up the curb and into a tree. Even after stopping to call 9-1-1 and turning back to make sure he was okay, we were still downtown and on the Mall before most of my friends waiting at Metro stations even got on a train.

We parked on a street about four blocks from the Capitol at one of those new-fangled parking meters where you can call in and pay over the phone. (What will they think of next? Time traveling people to put quarters in right before the parking police come? Wait, THAT would be AWESOME!) They would only let me pay for two hours at a time, but I asked the guy, "Can I just call you when my time is up and add money to the meter?" and he assured me that, yes that's the way it works. People of D.C., a warning: this man is lying to you. More on that later.

The Mall itself was totally and irrefutably packed when we got there and the show hadn't even started. This is where I began the first of my sacrifices of the day. We could have gotten into the gated off area where you could see the stage but they told us once you were in, you couldn't leave, and three hours before the show started, they were already closing gates for peoples' safety due to high occupancy. We could have run down the road to get into some of the further-away gates and if it had just been me, I would have, but this is how you know you're a parent: you immediately give up on something you really, really want to do because it doesn't make sense for your kid. It just didn't seem to be the safest and/or smartest place to have two kids/one in a stroller, so we didn't even try to go where we could see one of the screens. We were where we could hear and walk around and see crazy people and that was enough.


At one point, we were walking down the road and a group of D.C. Right to Vote-ers came by me. If you're not living near D.C., you may not be aware that residents of the District have no representation in Congress. There is no elected Senator or Representative that pleads the case of the constituency in D.C. and votes with the body of government that is responsible for making federal laws. While you and I can vote out or in our elected federal representatives, the residents of D.C. cannot. And THAT, children, is what we call "taxation without representation." They tell you in grade school that the Revolutionary War ended what was protested at the Boston Tea Party, but that's not the whole truth. It's just too bad district residents didn't get the idea to create a Tea Party Movement before some others took it and used it for their own purposes.

Anyway, at any event on the mall, there's always a group of people reminding you of the taxation without representation that still occurs in our government. This time it was a small group chanting and holding signs and a black woman with short hair leading them. She looks familiar, I thought. Where do I know her from? Work? Church? Danggit, I hate when I see people from church somewhere like the grocery store because my brain can never come up with their names when they're not in the element I know them from. She's gonna say hello to me and I'm gonna have to come up with a good cover for not knowing her name... make sure to say 'Seems like I haven't seen you in awhile' and not 'I haven't seen you in awhile' in case you just saw her last week... maybe I can get The KoH to pull the old "Hi, my name is..." so she'll say her name and then I don't have to look like an idiot who forgot her name, I'll just look like I'm lacking in the social graces of introductions... here she comes... ready... and... (and that, friends, is a peek inside the madness inside Alice's head. Be afraid, be very afraid.)

Just then she bumped into my shoulder, knocking me aside and kept walking like she hadn't even seen me or noticed my existence in this big, wide world. And, as it turns out, she hadn't, because she didn't know me at all. As soon as she passed by me, I realized who it was:



Eleanor Holmes Norton.

The Roots were playing by now and I was in heaven - what a great band. But it was getting more and more crowded. We decided to head further down a bit,


and see more people with awesome posters.


Even the policemen were in support of "the cause."


Then suddenly, and I still don't really understand why, the crowd thickened and we were pretty much stuck in the middle of a mob. People were shoulder to shoulder, barely moving any direction. We were just trying to get a block away from the action, but there were so many people packed in, we couldn't take a step in any direction. The KoH and I each had one girl, but got seperated form each other. I tried to call or text him to set a meeting place, but there was absolutely no mobile service on the Mall because of the amount of people doing what I assume was exactly the same thing. As we stood there, stuck in the throng, a woman next to us had an anxiety attack and started sweating and shaking. Her friends lifted her up and pushed through the craziness, trying to get out, but they didn't have much more luck than I. A woman behind me started pushing me and saying loudly, "Excuse me, exCUSE ME!" as if anyone could do anything about letting her by. I finally said, "Look, I can't GO ANYWHERE, lady, we're all just as stuck as YOU ARE." To which my fellow hostages applauded in agreement. I managed to hold my camera up above peoples' heads and snap this sign that was beginning to seem less and less plausible.


Here's the thing. Aside from that one woman, everyone was SO NICE. There we all were, literally standing shoulder-to-shoulder, having lovely conversations with absolute strangers who had invaded our personal space and people were mostly funny and good humored about it all. Earlier as we stood in line for the port-a-johns with the girls, just to make them go before we wouldn't have a chance to later, three people asked me if I wanted to go in line in front of them because they were concerned that the kids wouldn't be able to wait. But however nice people are, the girls are little and not everyone could see them in the crowd. One guy trying to push his girlfriend on through the crowd inadvertently tripped her and she fell on top of The Caterpillar. I eventually had to put my arm out in front of The Dormouse to give her some breathing room because without it, her face would have been pushed right into the jackets of the people in front of her. As the woman having the anxiety attack finally moved on past us, I realized that it would only take a small event - one crazy to pull out a fake gun, or one person to lose his temper - to turn all the good-natured-ness of the crowd into panic and my kids would be trampled. If it had been just me, I'd have just let the crowd carry me along, but when someone else is in your care, you make totally different decisions. So as reasonable as people were, in that moment, I decided it was time to get my spawn out of there.


Finally, the crowd broke free into the next street up and we were able to escape the jam. I managed to find my husband, who had weirdly run into the guy from work who'd called about the Metro station earlier that morning, and we all moved up a block where the air was clear and you could breathe again without touching the people around before you exhaled.


We eventually found a nice place that wasn't too crowded between the art museums to sit and try to hear Jon as he came on.


The girls found others their age and made immediate friends. I love that kids do that.


It probably would have worked too, but that's about the time I realized I needed to call to put more money on my meter, and guess what? No cell service. We walked up a block to try and bounce off another tower and I managed to get a call out but the automated system told me I wasn't allowed to add money to the meter or park on the same block for another twenty-seven minutes. On any other day, I might have been willing to risk it, but at events like these, I've literally walked up to my car three minutes after the meter expired and had to beg the tow truck driver not to hitch my car up to his rig. The last thing I wanted to do was find a way to drag my family home with no car and then spend the afternoon at the tow yard, so we decided to walk back to the car before that happened. And by the time we got there, the girls were so tired, the only sane thing to do resembled just getting the heck out of there. It seemed only appropriate, so that's what we did.

We headed out of the city, paused for a brief interlude at a steak house, then went home and I watched the whole thing on CSPAN where I had a front row seat and could rewind it if I didn't hear something. I also managed to get this nice shot overlooking the city as we were driving away.

You'd never know what was going on down there from this vantage point.

Honestly, you'd think that I'd regret the whole experience, but I don't. I don't regret going and I don't regret leaving early. Half the fun at those events is watching the people around you and at many events -- not all of them, mind you -- but events like this one, or the Million Man March I attended years ago, what I'm struck with is what potential for awful-ness there is in a situation like that and how that Mostly. Just. Doesn't. Happen. And anything that adds to my people aren't always douchy and terrible bag of ammunition? That's, at the end of the day, a good experience.

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Bewildering Convesations with a 3 Year Old

Posted on 10/30/2010 05:44:00 AM In:
The Caterpillar had a special visitor at her preschool yesterday for the upcoming Halloween Harvest Festival holiday. Has anyone else noticed the disparity of calling this holiday the "Harvest Festival" or some other made-up-holiday-name so as to not to offend anyone who doesn't celebrate Halloween and then asking children to come to this NotHalloween Party dressed in costume with bags so they can trick-or-treat?

Just me?

OK then.

Anyway, The Caterpillar's school has had some.... let's call it difficulty... following through on some of the activities they've planned and made a big deal about to the parents over the past few months. Even for my normally easy-going self (I'll pause to let the hilarity of that statement sink in), it's been an issue - especially since they raised their tuition this fall and I'm still not really down with that as a reflection of the services they offer my kid. Since this particular event required a additional $10 fee, and when I found out that they would only take cash for this $10 fee, and after I had to rummage around in the bottom of my purse and then crawl under the seats of the car to put together $10 in nickels, pennies and one gum-and-hair-covered coin I'm hoping was a dime, I wanted to be sure I got my money's worth she got to experience what I'm sure was a lovely planned activity for the fall season.

So when she came home, I peppered her with questions basically designed to ascertain whether today was a ten-additional-dollars-a-kid-worthy kind of day.

Me: "What did you do?"

C: "Went to school."

Me: "Yes, but what did you do in school?"

C: "Played."

Me: "Did you do anything special?"

C: "Uh huh."

Me: "What was that?"

C: "Had fun."


Me: "Anything else?"

C: "Ate."

Me: "Yes, but did you have a special visitor from the pumpkin patch?"

C: "Yes."

Me: "What was he like?"

C: "He wore pants and a shirt."

Me: "Well, thank goodness for that. I know how often *I* forget to wear pants and a shirt. Did he bring pumpkins?" (I'll take a moment here to point out that she had not come home with a pumpkin, though we'd expected her to do so.)

C: "Yes."

Me: "Where's yours?"

C: "In my cubby."

Me: "Honey, I didn't see a pumpkin in your cubby. I didn't see pumpkins anywhere in your room."

C: "Ummm... I don't know."

Me: "Well, what else did he do?"

C: "Nothing."

Me: "You had a visitor come all the way to your school, WEARING PANTS AND A SHIRT AND EVERYTHING... and he didn't say ANYTHING to you? What'd he do, just stare at the wall?"

C: "He said something."

Me: "What did he say?"

C: "He said, 'Do you teachers have a marker?'"

Me: .....

KoH: "I got this. What did he do with the marker, baby?"

C: "He put it in his pocket."

Personally, I feel pleased and proud we got that much out of her.

Also: I believe I'm going to start employing this strategy of item acquisition. I'll just walk up to random people and say, "Do you have a pen/stapler/jack stand I can use to change a tire?" then put the item in my pocket and walk off. Genius.

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It's Pumpkin Time Again

Posted on 10/26/2010 08:31:00 PM In:
This weekend I had to work all day Saturday and then learn the news that it was a gorgeous pretty beauty day from everyone else who had the good sense to take a day off. So to make up for that, on Sunday after church, we took a drive out to southern Pennsylvania to look at fall leaves. Is this not the most idyllic image you've ever seen?


(Well, excluding the smudge on the lens in the center of the photograph from
someone's finger, that is...)

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

While we were up there, we stopped at a farmer's market to pick up a crook-necked pumpkin (our regular pumpkin place didn't have any this year and we really love this particular type of pumpkin). And while we were picking out pumpkins, we were chatting with a gentleman there who said he was from our area. He asked if we knew what we were going to do with the crook-necked pumpkin and we started talking about recipes that contained pumpkin.

"I just found a recipe for pumpkin pudding online somewhere. I think I'm going to try that," I said.

"Oooo that sounds good," he said, "What else do you make with it?"

"Last year, she made this really awesome pumpkin soup," the KingofHearts chimed in.

Him: "Really?"

KoH: "Yeah. It was SO GOOD. Best soup ever. You should try that with your pumpkin. You won't be sorry."

Him: "Where did you get the recipe?"

Me: "Oh, I just search online for stuff and try it out when I need a recipe for something. Just Google 'Pumpkin Soup' and you'll find a ton of them."

Him: "Well, I wouldn't know what was a good recipe to use."

KoH: "We'll send it to you! Give me your email address and we'll email it."

Him: "That would be great. Here it is."

They go through the process of finding some scrap of paper to write on, who's got a pen-ing other patrons until finally they find something to write with and he writes down his email address, which turns out to be something like thisisthelongestemailaddressintheworld@hotmail.com, and hands it to me. I'm a bit dumbfounded by this whole exchange and all I can do is take the card from him and stare blankly.

Him: "You won't forget now, will you?"

KoH: "No. We'll remember."

Him: "OK. Because I really want that recipe. Don't forget me."

KoH: "No problem. We'll send it. Promise."

They wave to each other and we all walk away and get in the car. He drives off in his car.

Me: "You know I don't have a pumpkin soup recipe, right?"

KoH: "What?!?"

Me: "There's no pumpkin soup recipe in the recipe box. Look, I don't really even remember making pumpkin soup, but if I did and somehow forgot about it entirely, I'm pretty positive that recipe is not in the recipe box at home anyway."

KoH: "Oh. Well, just send him something off the internet, I guess."

Which is not what I did, not even a little bit. I'd feel incredibly guilty about that. Like I copied the Nestle Toll-house Cookie recipe off the back of the chocolate chip bag and then tried to pass it off as a secret family recipe handed down for generations.

Instead, I found a recipe in my recipe box that was similar an
d every time the words "butternut squash" appeared in it, I replaced it with "pumpkin."

Hope he likes his Curried Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup. I also hope that when he makes it and realizes it tastes awful, he'll think it was his fault for not being a good cook.


blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

On Monday night I took a little time out from my little stress-filled universe to carve pumpkins with the girls. The only problem was that we haven't even gotten any of the Halloween decorations out from the attic yet this year. And the box where the Halloween decoration are? Is also where all the fancy-schmancy pumpkin carving tools and design templates are. We had to carve pumpkins the old-fashioned way:

with power tools.



Say what you will, but it makes the initial opening of the fruit so much faster.

Also: you'll notice The Dormouse rambling on about something through the entire clip. Do not bother to try and figure out what she is saying, I can't. She is not talking to you. She is not talking to us. She is not even talking to herself. This is just the default position of her mouth.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

You'll be pleased to know, however, that after the initial pumpkin opening, we kicked it old school as pumpkin carving was meant to be done, with dangerous knives and nearly cutting through of fingers. Wouldn't want my kids to be spoiled by having all ten digits or anything, they might get cocky.

The KingofHearts came up with a very cool one-eyed-jack-o-lantern idea.


The Dormouse went for a conceptual jack-o-lantern. Meet the "Half Angel/Half Devil Vampire Bat Pumpkin:"

Yeah, I'm at a loss to explain this one as well. Who knows what craziness dwells in the minds of seven-year-olds? Only The Shadow knows.

The Caterpillar isn't really big enough to participate fully yet, but wanted to SO BADLY. So I ended up just giving her a crayon and telling her to draw a face. Then I cut around her lines with a knife. I think hers turned out to quite possibly be the best jack-o-lantern EVER.

Here's that result:



It reminds me of those websites where kids draw a picture and send it in so they can make a stuffed animal that looks exactly like the picture.

Me? I did not carve a pumpkin, though I have one waiting for me outside. I have plans for it. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to actually see those plans come to fruition sometime before Halloween.

Until then, enjoy our pumpkins in the wild:



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Remember Me to Herald Square

Posted on 10/22/2010 04:20:00 PM In:

This, I believe, is the last of my New York pictures from our trip couple of weeks ago. (and there was much rejoicing) I dragged The Dormouse to see this statue in Times Square and gave her a lecture about the wonder that is George M. Cohan. These are clearly important things. Things that she's not going to learn in school, but must know if she is to survive in my family.

He's actually one of my personal heroes, George M. Some of the best music to come out of the 20th century was written by him.
Harrigan, Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, Mary's a Grand Old Name, Give My Regards to Broadway and scores of others. And then there's his patriotic music, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Over There, You're a Grand Old Flag, which earned him the Congressional Gold Medal for his contribution to the war effort and his ability to lift the spirits of the country and those serving in the military through his music. He was the first musician given this honor. Previously it had gone only to military and political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, inventors, and explorers. George M. is just one more example of how lives can be touched by music. And for that, I thank him... and his mother, and his sister, and his father.

I have to admit though, that I'm not sure I'd be such a George M. fan were it not for James Cagney, who played him twice in his career, in Yankee Doodle Dandy (he won an Academy Award for that one) and The Seven Little Foys. Most people know Cagney for his stereotypical gangster roles. Me? I know him as a hoofer. In fact, Cagney and Cohan are so intertwined in my brain because of these two movies that I often easily gloss over into talking about Cagney when I'm discussing Cohan and vice versa. If you haven't seen either of these films, you really owe it to yourself to catch them some time.

My favorite story about Cagney is one that I've heard all my life and is probably apocryphal - though I hope not. It's that early in his career, entirely on a whim, he decided to try out for the role of a chorus girl in an all male review. In the course of the audition, he was asked if he could dance. He'd never had a dance lesson in his life, but knowing that he wouldn't get the role otherwise said, "Uhhhh... sure I can dance," and figured he'd learn the steps later. In years after that, he never really had any formal dance training; he just moved well and could pick up steps easily.

Take a look at that guy who had no formal dance training:



Here's a nice treat for a Friday afternoon. James Cagney and Bob Hope. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.


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The Little Old Goat Woman

Posted on 10/21/2010 09:32:00 AM
Feed the Goats,


Tuppence a bag.


Tuppence,


Tuppence,


Tuppence a bag.


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To Gillian on Her 10th Birthday

Posted on 10/20/2010 10:37:00 PM
You know what's worse than obsessing over and perseverating about your dead child's birthday every year?

Missing it entirely.

I don't really know how it happened. I knew it was coming up. I knew what today's date was. I've just been doing so much and moving so fast that I never put two and two together until The KingofHearts pointed it out to me late this afternoon. I'm pissed that my work life has taken over so much lately that I can barely shower on a daily basis much less remember to pause and mark a date that was so important in my own personal history. The only things that get my attention these days are the ones that rise up to stare me headlong in the face and beg for it. All I can say is it's a good thing the cats and the kids can vocalize, otherwise they'd probably starve. So while I worked out elaborate celebrations for The Dormouse and The Caterpillar, quiet little Gillian, I'm sorry to say, only got an afterthought this year. She deserves a hell of a lot more than that.

For a long time, and I mean years here, a day didn't go by without a thought, a mention, some kind of fleeting reference to the short time we had together. Eventually, it got... well, it never got easier... it just got easier to live with.

Ten years seems simultaneously like too much time and not enough has passed. A decade. A tenth of a century. It's so big and so small at the same time.

What would she be doing now at ten? Driving us crazy with a ridiculous obsession for Justin Beiber or some other badly-coiffed TigerBeat star? Would she be practicing inappropriate cheer leading moves alongside The Dormouse in the living room? Or would she have moved on from there, trying to con us into buying her a cell phone? I'm sure whatever it would be, I'd find no shortage of words to use to complain about it. All I know is I'd really like to be able complain about whatever that might have been right now.

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Did Gyre and Gimble in the Wabe

Posted on 10/20/2010 10:13:00 AM In:
You had to know I'd eventually feature this here, right?

click to embiggen photos

The Margarita Delacorte Memorial in Central Park (featured here and here) is something I'd been to see before, but it was fun to take The Dormouse there on her birthday trip.

This impressive sculptural group, on the north side of Central Park's Conservatory Water, is the work of the Spanish-born, French-trained sculptor Jose de Creeft (1900-1982). Publisher and philanthropist George Delacorte (1893-1991) commissioned the sculpture as a tribute to his late wife Margarita, and as a gift to the children of New York City. Dedicated by Robert Moses on May 7, 1959, the bronze statuary depicts characters from Lewis Carroll's whimsical Alice in Wonderland, published in 1862.

I'd long known this statue was donated by a philanthropist in honor of his wife, Margarita "who loved all children," which is sweet. I figured there was a good story behind this and I thoroughly searched through at least three pages of Google search results (sooo tired now!) to find something more about Margarita Delacorte to share here; the best I could learn was that she also has a scholarship in her name and she wazzzzzzzzzzzzzz. There just wasn't much out there about poor Margarita.

What I did learn that I didn't know before is that George Delacorte founded the Dell Publishing Company (no, it's not that Dell) which eventually brought forth Dell Comics, which was in turn responsible for Blondie and Dagwood, Dick Tracy and later the TV shows Mission: Impossible and Ben Casey. For a big ol' historic pop culture geek like myself, that was kind of cool.

George Delacorte is also the one to thank for this other iconic Central Park fixture, the Delacorte Musical Clock outside the Central Park Zoo:


When we walked past this, The Dormouse shouted, "MOMMA! It's the clock from Madagascar!"

I didn't even remember this being in Madagascar and let's not overlook the fact that it's probably been four-plus years since she's seen the movie, but another ten minutes of Googling (Googleing? Google-ing? You'd think that a language that can add jiggy to the dictionary could tell me how to spell the past progressive of Google --- wait, I was right) proved she was indeed spot on with her recollections:


Now if I could only get her to remember to pick up her socks.

Anyway, back to Alice.


My favorite picture I took that day was, inexplicably, one of the back of her head.


But I'm also a little bit in love with the creepiness of the Cheshire Cat.


For a Saturday in Central Park, it was pretty impressive to be able to get a picture without at least a thousand kids hanging off any given part of the piece, but there was a woman there trying to do just that and yelling at all the kids and their parents to move while she took a photo. Everyone ignored her like she was so much furniture. This exercise in futility amused me to no end and I stood there watching her for what seemed like hours. Finally she was successful in getting everyone off the statue for a few blessed seconds and I sneaked in and usurped the opportunity for a shot. I'm pretty sure she called me a name as I was leaving.


Live with it lady, this is New York.

The Caterpillar was represented mostly as an afterthought, but was there nonetheless.


And The Dormouse, who isn't a permanent part of the statue but was willing to sit there for a minute with her namesake.


See how I cleverly added that play on words? That's funny huh?

HUH!?!

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In a Flurry of Eiderdown

Posted on 10/19/2010 04:17:00 PM In:
The Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, New York.


Only my kid would want and beg desperately to crawl up into the statue's lap for a photo op and then not allow you to get an actual photo of her because she's too busy reading the statue's book.


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Tiffany

Posted on 10/18/2010 03:59:00 PM In:
A couple of shots of Serendipity 3 when we were there for The Dormouse's birthday last week.


We decided to forgo cake in favor of their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. Yum. Apart from that, Serendipity 3 is famous for their Tiffany-style lampshades all over the place which, if you're not careful, you will stand up and hit your head on every single time you get up for any reason - even if it's only to adjust where you put your purse - because you are an idiot who can't seem to get it through her head that there's expensive hanging glass ten inches above your head IN ANY DIRECTION YOU MOVE. And each time you do it, the other patrons will look at you sympathetically while you're nursing the bump on your head that may or may not have just begun to bleed and will say to you in an understanding tone of voice, "Hey! Don't hurt THE LAMPSHADE!!"


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Late for School

Posted on 10/17/2010 03:05:00 PM
About a year ago I bought Steve Martin's album The Crow. I'm not a giant banjo music fan, but I played my share of bluegrass fiddle in a band in high school (can still play a pretty mean devil solo in The Devil Went Down to Georgia when pressed into doing so) and I respect Steve Martin's musicianship so I was intrigued when it came out. I immediately fell in love and have subsequently worn the CD damn near out. It's full of a different styles and moods, nostalgic, modern, sweet, impressive... I LOVE it.

The girls listen to it in the car with me as we drive around and they like it as well, but one song has reached the pinnacle mythic proportions for them. Here it is as performed on an episode of Saturday Night Live:



They both love this song and ask for it to be repeated over and over (and over) as we wait for the school bus in the morning. No offense, Steve Martin, but after the third "again! again!", in a row, I'm often a little sick of the obviousness of the situation - listening to Late for School over and over while we wonder if the school bus is actually going to show before school starts - and put my foot down. "No. We are moving on to a new song... NOW."

While shopping for The Dormouse's birthday last month, I realized that there is a now a children's book version of this song and I wasted so little time putting in in my shopping cart I'm surprised I didn't break The PayPal. The illustrations are as adorable as the song itself and I knew it'd make a great birthday present for The Dormouse. Needless to say, she was pretty excited when she opened it and - and I'm not taking dramatic license when I say this - she hugged the book.


Then she sat down with it and gave us a live performance.



So my favorite part about this is that she is so clearly hearing the music in her head as she reads the book that she is incapable of going on without putting in the musical interludes between verses. Even when she just reads it without trying to sing, she still has to pause and comp chords in her head at the appropriate place. I'm not certain whether this makes her cool or just plain weird, but either way she'll be able to identify with me and that can't be a bad thing, right?

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I Don't Think it Works Like That

Posted on 10/17/2010 08:40:00 AM
Scene: 8:00 am. Two girls approach me in the living room, wearing every stitch of dress-up clothing we have in the house layered over themselves like a homeless person in the dead of winter.

Dormouse: "DING DONG!"

Me: "What?"

Dormouse: "We're pretend trick-or-treating, Momma!"

Caterpillar: "Yeah! Pretend trick-or-treat!"

Me: "Oh, OK."

Dormouse: "DING DONG."

Caterpillar: "Yeah, DONG DONG."

Me: "Who is it?"

Both: "Trick-or-treat!"

Me: "Oh, OK. Here's some candy for you..." *miming putting candy in their bags* "and you."

Caterpillar: "HEY!!! We don't want PRETEND treats."

Me: "But you're PRETEND trick-or-treating. What kind of treats do you expect?"

Dormouse: "OK. Now we're for-real-trick-or-treating. DING DONG."

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Sometimes You Could Do with a Little Less Help in the Kitchen

Posted on 10/15/2010 01:07:00 PM


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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