Saturday, July 28, 2007

What's in My Garden?

Hey! Look what's in my garden!
Our neighbors alerted us to the nest about a week ago - it's deep in the rose bush. This is the papa:
He shouts at us when we're outside, especially when we let Kaya out with us.

Does anyone know what this is?
close up:
I moved a bunch of stuff today - we have this thin area between the fence and the walk in the back yard, which is generally over-run with weeds, but I'm trying to get bee balm and mint and lemon balm going in there. I moved some stuff from the front which I *think* is a plant and not a weed, but, the truth is I really don't know what it is. *shrug*

Monday, July 23, 2007

Birthday Weekend

I had a really awesome birthday weekend! On Friday night, M and I went to our old hood, Andersonville, and saw Waiting for Harry at the Neo-Futurarium. It was great. A bunch of Chicago writers talking about their reaction to Harry Potter in profound, silly, angry, or just peripherally related ways. My favorites were Megan Stielstra, Sharon Greene (who had some funny predictions for the future, but ended on an oddly sad note when she predicted that Hermionie would become first a performance artist divorced from an alcoholic Ron Weasley and then a sort of right-to-die horcrux that took on the souls of dying people) and everyone cracked up over Ian Belknaps's scathing screed against all things Harry Potter and how fans are lowering standards for literature everywhere by accepting mediocrity (or, as he put it, letting JK Rowling crap in our brain pans.) Sounds lame, but it was hilarious, in a Lewis Black kind of way. Then we had dinner at a new restaurant - Anteprimo, which is really, really good. Then we walked around Andersonville and ogled all the HP fans. Practically EVERYONE was wearing a cape. It was so fun.

On Sat. night we had a little party in the back yard. I suppose the only flaw was that we put some mulch down in our garden and had no idea it would make our yard smell like a barn. Well, our friends are so lovely, they didn't even complain that it smelled like shit. (: C&D made the most awesome pinata of all time - airplane bottles of booze, firecrackers, candy and bubbles - what could be more fun? Oh! I know! A late-night bout of karaoke!!!!

It turns out bubbles photograph well in the dark!
Then yesterday on the big day we had a lovely brunch with friends G&G, then I actually talked M into going to the beach with me AND getting in the water. Brrrr! Lake Michigan takes a while to heat up!

I'm still celebrating my Birthday Week and my Birthday Month, so, for now, I'm off to the beach again!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My order is being prepared for dispatch!

You know what that means! At the R_ house, we're full of speculation re: the final HP book, M. and I furiously re-reading and nagging each other when we don't read fast enough. M. suggests re-reading the first chapter of Harry 1 for more insight if it's been awhile. Constant debate re: whether or not Harry's scar is a horcrux and what is a horcrux anyway? And so on.

Have been very pleased by the discussion around the Princess Issue from my previous post. Thanks, everyone, for contributing and sharing your (often hilarious) comments!

Been really bummed out because some personal strife has put a real kink in my Birthday-Week celebrations (and life in general), which were planned to be a slightly ramped up version of the Birthday-Month Celebrations. Until I remembered that my birthday is actually Sunday and I can celebrate my Birthday-Week NEXT week. Whew.

Check it out: I got my hair cut!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some day my self-esteem will come

This picture sparked a conversation between me and my pal, D., and we agreed it might be fun to talk it out on our respective blogs, so keep your eye on DeBordian Perruque for his take on the issue. My response to this pic is, “It's cute, but...” I've got a problem with this Disney Princesses Craze.

It seems that not a trip to the grocery store passes that I don't see a young girl regally riding in her shopping cart carriage, or throwing a fit in the middle of the aisle, made up in full princess regalia. Now, there's no way of getting around this – it must be said: I am getting old. A couple of monumental events have recently taken place in my brain to alert me to this fact. The first is a growing outrage to the ubiquitous exposed midriffs and short, short skirts of my fellow female clothed persons, and the second occurred about a week ago when I saw a couple of kids playing on a slip-n-slide. A slip-n-slide, you may recall, is that ingenious piece of plastic you spread out on the grass, wet down with a hose and then run and throw your body on, in an attempt to slip and yes, slide, to the other end. “Jesus Christ!” I thought. “Those kids are going to ruin their knees!” And then I knew it. I'm old. So, please keep in mind that when I say BACK IN MY DAY I don't like it any more than you do. But back in my day, we didn't wear costumes to the grocery store. We wore them on Halloween.

I was thinking about this phenomenon of the new work-a-day costumed child and it occurred to me that back in my day, if one had a special outfit for Halloween, it was because one's mother slaved over the sewing machine in her free time to make it. And she wasn't thrilled about you wearing it to school and then traipsing all over the neighborhood in the dark, potentially ruining her hard work. Plus, your little sister would need to wear it next year. These days, you can buy a princess outfit for $14.99 any day of the year. I have to admit, when this merchandising started coming out a few years ago, I thought, “If I had a daughter, I'd dress her in that so fast her head would spin!” But as my friends started procreating and I forayed into the children's sections to buy presents, and noticed the gender divide between “girls” things and “boys” things (I'm talking about the INFANT section) I starting questioning my attraction to these little pink outfits.

The Princess Craze bothers me for a couple of reasons – the first is that it's so consumer-based, and worse, it's Disney consumer-based. What people are literally buying into is a pretty insidious brand of femininity. Cinderella “gentle and soft-spoken” (according to the Disney Princesses website) had a small shoe size and won that ultimate prize: marriage to a prince. Snow White had a “pure, lovable nature”, was put into a deep sleep and kissed awake by a prince. Ditto for Sleeping Beauty. Finally late-20th century princesses like Belle and Ariel get descriptive markers like “headstrong” and even remain conscious throughout most of their movies, but the narrative remains the same. The sweet, trusting, beautiful, beyond thin, young woman suffers the injustices of an evil (generally ugly, fat) so-and-so and then gets saved and marries the handsome prince. Reinforcing the white (with very few exceptions), hetero-normative stereotype is a $3 billion dollar a year business, and presents a fairly ridiculous set of role models for children. In a consumer-based society like ours, do we really need one more piece of crap with a dubious message? (for sale: a pink Disney tv: “Perfect for your little princess' royal television viewing.” )

Perhaps you're wondering why I think thin, gorgeous, nice, trusting, pure, gentle, soft-spoken role models are ridiculous role models? Sure, those are nice qualities, but they're not really useful, and they can be harmful goals for girls. Peggy Orenstein writes in a 2006 article for the New York Times:

There are no studies proving that playing princess directly damages girls’ self-esteem or dampens other aspirations. On the other hand, there is evidence that young women who hold the most conventionally feminine beliefs — who avoid conflict and think they should be perpetually nice and pretty — are more likely to be depressed than others and less likely to use contraception. What’s more, the 23 percent decline in girls’ participation in sports and other vigorous activity between middle and high school has been linked to their sense that athletics is unfeminine. And in a survey released last October by Girls Inc., school-age girls overwhelmingly reported a paralyzing pressure to be “perfect”: not only to get straight A’s and be the student-body president, editor of the newspaper and captain of the swim team but also to be “kind and caring,” “please everyone, be very thin and dress right.”

The Image is so powerful. I grew up playing with Barbies, and I can tell you, daily admiration of something that thin and long-legged can really skew a person's vision of reality. Girls today are faced with a media onslaught that's got to be at least 10 times worse than when I was a kid, and I just find it hard to believe that they're going to have the tools or the maturity to deal with these issues (I know I didn't) And I truly don't understand why parents are perpetuating this craze (I mean, they are, after all, the complicit consumers.)

Regarding the young feminist in question, please don't misunderstand me – I know that a Feminist “looks like” just about anything, and I love playing dress-up as much as anybody (see my post about the Harry Potter opening). I'm just quite concerned about the future. I wish that my little sisters of the world had better role models than I did, but I don't think they do. And, no, I don't like those Bratz dolls either.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter Movie!

When to the opening of Harry Potter last night with DeBordian Perruque and Sweetkealoha. We had a good time - the theatre was packed with Harry Potter fans. Even though, objectively, I think the movie kind of sucked, as like, a movie, I really enjoyed it. I just reread the book and I think they did about as well as they could to translate the approx. 900 page story to film. I'm sure it would be unbearable for anyone who is not a fan of the books. But, it's worth going early to enjoy the crowd experience, check out costumes, clap and yell at the screen and admire some of the cool effects and set designs.

We made wands for the occasion and everyone agreed that they're a handy accessory. Not just for casting spells but general pointing needs. You can buy an "official" plastic one, but for less than a buck, you can buy a wooden dowel, whittle down the end, paint or stain it, and make up a story about what's inside (mine: the hair of a Ken doll). I made our t-shirts too, with those iron-on things you can buy at any office store. Just create an image and don't forget to flip it horizontally before you print it out. Here's me and M., showing our school spirit:

And here are two Death Eaters, with the DARK MARK! (Watch out! They'll Cruxio you!)

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Barber of Hogwarts

Arg! I had a little list of errands I wanted to run today, which I was going to end with a swim at the beach, which I've been dying for. I dream about floating in water and relieving pressure on my occasionally aching sacroiliac. So, I pop on my bike, run the errands, go to the beach, and the next thing I know, I'm surrounded by running and screaming children and soccer moms, and a wind and sand storm kind of like the one in The Mummy. So, back on my bike, pedal furiously home through the rain, and, needless to say, no swim.

Yesterday a certain husband asked me if I would cut his hair, and oddly full of confidence, I agreed. I always thought that cutting hair looked insanely easy and I would be a natural pro. M. looks ok because he's very handsome, but his hair IS really, really short now. My dear ol' Dad (as he likes to call himself) was a barber for the army. I think I inherited some of those genes.

We're going to the Harry Potter opening on Wed. - really excited. Working on some costumes. Suggested to M. that he go as Crabbe or Goyle (which didn't go over as I'd hoped). I might go as Hermionie myself.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I feel compelled to blog today just because it's 07/07/07 - good luck, or whatever! M. and I are having an awesome July 4th weekend - we hung out with friends on the 4th (it's all about the baked beans. Or possibly the potato salad...) and then we went camping in Wisconsin - we went to Peninsula State Park in Door County. Really nice park except the beach smelled like poo. Probably because of all that Cheesehead Sewage. We went on some amazing camping trips in California when we lived out there, and by comparison, camping in the midwest kind of sucks, but I do love Wisconsin. It's like a different country full of foreign-language speakers. Like, we were walking around the campsite trying to find a water fountain, and everyone seemed to be looking at us funny when we asked where it was, until finally someone told us there was a "bubbler" around the bend.

Here we are enjoying the natural splendor:

And this was our favorite pastime - sitting around the campsite reading (for me: Harry Potter book five, in preparation for the movie 07/11/07 - huh, that just doesn't have the ring of 07/07/07... too bad.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Design on a Dime

Put the finishing touches on the downstairs bath today. I love the color in there. It had this really awful stencil along the top of the wall, and appeared to be painted "primer white".

My mom taught me that if you nail a hole into the paint can, like so, the paint will drain back into the can instead of clogging up the rim. Good tip!


So, I sanded down the stencil, taped off the trim, and painted on my "mint tint". Now, instead of thinking, Why would anyone DO THAT?!?!, I think Ahhhh, spa-like.

Pretty, isn't it? Isn't it amazing what one can of paint can do? I love it!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy July! K's Birthmonth

Yea! It's my birthmonth! I'm going to celebrate the whole month long. Why not? Guess what? M. and I got Dance Dance Revolution and something called Sing Star, which has lead to a odd little turn of events in which *I* try to convince *M* to play Playstation games with me. They're both SUPER fun!!!

I painted the downstairs bath last Friday and it looks SO good. I'll post some pics soon. Other good news is that my back hardly hurts right now. Just a little bit in the morning. My chiropractor has ominously (gleefully?) warned me that it's very likely I'll be reinjured, but for now, I like to think: I'm CURED!


I've said it before that it's just no use talking about the incredible graphics created by Pixar - but each successive film just gets better and better. The latest, Ratatouille, takes place in Paris, where those geniuses of animation have a chance to really wow us. It's really almost distracting how beautiful the lighting is, how crisp the detail - but they also manage (with very few exceptions) to back all of that with solid characters and wonderful scripts as well.

Ratatouille is about a rat who has an advanced sense of smell. I have an advanced sense of smell too, and I can tell you, it's a curse. Most things in the world don't smell that good. The same is true for the rat, who is put to work smelling out rat poison in the trash for his colony. Eventually he finds himself in Paris, working in restaurant. I'll leave it for you to discover the rest. But what I found interesting was how this movie defied convention over and over again. I kept anticipating the "Disney" part of the production to lead to a more conventional script, but was continually surprised. It even addresses the little-known phenomenon of synesthesia (where one sense is experienced along with an another - ie, a person might experience the smell of something as a low note or squares as orange). There's a lovely bit at the end (I don't think I'm ruining it for you by mentioning) where (voiced by the inimitable Peter O'Toole) the virtues of trying new things and being open to change is voiced.