Friday, December 21, 2007

4 more days...

V v stressed right now. Terrified whole life about to be upturned and disrpted by another. Fun times but hard to focus on Christmas and now. Little gathering at my house to decorate cookies yesterday, pictures below. And a picture of our huge huge tree in all it's glory. No posting until January sometime.


Kids at kitchen table decorating cookies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dull.

Today is The Cult potluck, and then she is out of school. She is actually really happy to be out of school, and I think so much, that she needs the break. Tomorrow she gets to go to the zoo with Grampy and Smokey. Our zoo here in NC is relatively guilt-free, and she loves it. I am glad she is doing something pretty unrelated to Christmas too. A little mental break. A boring post today, perhaps better tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

'Tis the season

Short post with pictures. Week-end OK, great rain Friday night and all day Saturday, which we so desparately need. Got tree Friday afternoon, massive 9 foot tall monster. How I love big tall trees. Put it in the house Saturday morning, went to the hottest, loudest party I have been to in awhile, then came home at suppertime and spent the following 2 hours decorating it. It is somewhat coordinated, very vintagey ornaments, no shaped or picture ornaments of THINGS on it at all. All of those ornaments live on Flipper's little tree. Thank god. Then...Sunday. She was a total nightmare, from her hysterical fit at Wellspring because I wouldn't buy a 6 dollar sandwich while we were finishing breakfast, (the sheer irrationality of children is what I find most maddening), then OK for awhile, then upset about what to wear to a birthday party, then OK at the party (until I caught her licking the powdered sugar off the wedding cookies and carefully placing them back on the plate), then OK for about an hour, then a nightmarishly picky rude eater at our neighbor's house, then a nightmare again about leaving the table (she refused, I tipped her out) then tears tears tears until she finally, blessedly, fell asleep. I was so worn out by her, and so annoyed and frustrated...but I bounced back this morning, am now filled with the spirit of the season, tree is up, house smells great, made final batch of cookies (see below) and am ready to tackle the peanut brittle and make a pumpkin pie for Flipper's end-of-term potluck at The Cult tomorrow. Office dead. No calls, no action. Off tomorrow and Thursday then all next week. Cannot wait.


O Tannenbaum!!



Flipper in her "Christmas Area": note her decorated chair that she spent about 90 minutes working on while I decorated the tree.


The very very last cookies I make FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.

And, totally unrelated, I finished the Ocean Sweater. Added mermaid and octopus. Flipper told me, "You did a really good job on that." Thanks, Flipper. Now put it on and stop whining!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

All I want for Christmas...

It really shouldn't-or actually, maybe it SHOULD-but I wasn't really planning on trying to navigate my way through some sort of tricky values system for the holiday buying season. But I have. When I was young and attending my first college, the beloved St. Andrews (student body pop. 720) I took a class called Biomedical Ethics. It was, of course, fantastic: ethical dilemmas about medical care, abortion, end-of-life issues, infertility...and we would debate them with all the black-and-white, lack-of-gray that most young people have. I look back at those times and shudder. How easy everything was!! Can't conceive? Adopt! Terminal cancer? Please put my mom to sleep like they do in Finmark or Denland or another of those cold progressive countries that have special landfills just for their batteries. But, of course, I got older, let a bit more gray seep in, and realized that our "solutions" to those problems were impossibly naiive and simplistic and lacking in any kind of empathy. Where in god's name am I going with this??? Oh yes. Christmas toy shopping. Flipper's gentle crunchy organic Waldorf Christmas is pretty much sewed up (with a real needle and undyed thread). Until two nights ago. We were curled up in our Big Bed together, reading some Christmas book,(I think it was The Polar Express) and she said, (how pathetic is this), "I want to tell you what I want for Christmas even though I know you won't get it for me." This made me sad/glad at the same time. Sad that she sees me as so rigid and unyielding, glad that she already has a handle on my boundaries, personal values, whatever you want to call it. I coaxed the forbidden out of her: "I want a Barbie doll." I actually didn't say anything, no lecture on how I find Barbie-and about 99% of all palstic toys-to be "aesthetically displeasing", which is my term for "ugly", no body-image lecture, which not only is she simply too young for but that I don't really buy that much, no comment at all. She just went to sleep. But then I started thinking. Because I WANT Christmas to be pretty magical for her in these few brief years before all she wants is money and expensive clothes, this fleeting time in which Santa is very very real to her...I want her to, at a certain level, get what she wants, hopes for, dreams of. Even if it is a damn Barbie doll. So. What to do? Blessedly I have a friend that loves to verbally dissect things even more than me, something that I am STILL in awe of, and appreciate beyond measure. Talk something to death? How about talk it right into the afterlife...and then BACK AGAIN so we can kill it for a second time!! No problem!! At any rate, I spilled my dilemma out at the park yesterday, and she and another friend were both pretty much like, Just give it to her. It won't make her anorexic, it won't make her into a tramp...just let her have it. The truth is that I do not want a Barbie to overshadow my nice, hippie, organic Waldorf Christmas. So my fertile little brain began churning: how can I make this happen in a way that makes us BOTH happy? And by the way, this is excellent parenting advice, if I do say so myself. The solutions to many things can be found in ways that keep both parties satisfied, if you look hard enough, or talk it out over and over and over. So here is my solution, which I am sure all of you are just dying to read about: Jessica, the bestest best friend in the world, is going to give Flipper one of HER Barbie dolls that she has saved from her own childhood. And, being the quintessential Virgo, her dolls are in mint condition. She is going to give it to her next week, when we get together for out little "pre-Christmas" Christmas, which we do every year, so that tacky doll won't pre-empt MY Christmas morning magic. And just for me...it is the Doctor Barbie. With a lab coat and pants. There WILL be pictures of this in the future. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Harrowing!

I just spent a harowing, HARROWING, I tell you!!--hour on many websites, frantically searching for a decent ticket price/itinerary for our upcoming trip to Maui next June. It was TOUGH. (I have friends that are not buying the "tough" part right now and are rolling their eyes/cursing/smacking their computer becasue, after all...THIS IS A TRIP TO MAUI). Worth any amount of stress and strife, right? But it is also the honeymoon month, and the plane will be filled with starry-eyed young couples, the men looking hung-over, the women looking impossibly fresh and hopeful, holding hands for the ENTIRE million-hour flight, discussing their hopes and dreams, the women smiling at Flipper, envisioning precious children in their future, the men looking slightly panicked, envisioning no more sex and mounting bills in THEIR future...but I digress. It is a hard flight to book because it is LONG, about 6000 miles,and involves multiple airlines and stops, since unlike most people, I do not, in fact, wish to get there as fast as possible and with the fewest stops. No, I actually, LIKE two layovers, love the chance to get off the goddamn plane and walk around and buy yet another trashy magazine and some sort of tawdry Hello Kitty toy for Flipper. The layover times/locations must be carefully considered, weighed against a long list of pros and cons...but it is finished. Leaving Monday, June 9 and returning Thursday, June 26. Flight home only one stop, in Los Angeles. Since I just spent more than an hour on that little project, I will leave you with a beautiful image of Flipper in all her glory...and I look at this picture and see the baby she was, and now I see the girl she has become. And it makes me happy-sad, a state of mind that has become, for me, synonymous with being a parent. I feel it every day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stumpy and stress and sweaters.

Lamely-and stressed right now beyond belief-I called in yesterday to get the day off, and stayed home by myself. I cleaned out every closet, reorganizing and folding and sorting for almost 4 straight hours. It felt incredible. I cannot fathom how people run their lives when they work full-time; I can barely manage it while working part-time! It is maddening. It makes me feel even worse about myself and my treading water approach to life, a trait I hope and pray that Flipper never inherits. But I was heartened by phone calls with friends, and by A STUMPY SIGHTING!!! I cannot impress upon any of you how precious he is; he tries so hard to avoid the other squirrels by scampering under the trampoline, and I saw him scale a tree yesterday, which made me much more hopeful about his survival. I promise to try to get a picture of him if at all possible. Squirrels communicate by not only chattering madly, but by waving their tails. Here Stumpy is at a distinct disadvantage; I worry that he is lonely. But, thank god, at least he can avoid the damn dogs and, literally, climb to safety. (If Jessica is reading, this she will catch the Panic reference). Or some random (very random) Jerry Joseph fan.

The sweater is coming along swimmingly. I went to the Woodland Shop and Alyson gave me a tiny bit of pale pale pink wool to use for the mermaid; I am most worried about rendering a human form on this project, and not make it look cartoonish, or, god forbid, like mute little Ariel. So far the seahorse has taken the longest because of the little yellow lines. Much more needs to be felted on him. The one thing I did learn was that the piece of foam I am using between the front and back of the sweaters is FANTASTIC. Have YET to break a needle!! (They break pretty easily). So.. Below...the seascape. And, for those of you that think Flipper is incredibly grateful and adores it? Why, not at all!! She wants a "land scene" next. With fairies. Over my dead body.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Concert

Oh, where to start! I will refrain from giving a bulleted list of our week-end's activities, and focus instead on what was the shining star of our week-end, the music concert we attended Friday night. It was the 5th and 6th grade chorus, the 7th and 8th grade chorus, and the string ensemble (I think). Justine is the musical one that will know exactly who is who in the many many musical groups at The Cult. Music participation-chorus and intruments-is mandatory. I thought it would be just OK, but it was, in fact, incredible. No Christmas carols, but instead beautiful and more complex songs that have true meaning. Same with the ensemble's three selections, nary a squeaking string among them. It was so impressive, it showed the very best of what The Cult has to offer: incredible teachers, involved students, and a supportive community that showed it's pleasure with a standing ovation at the close. What was really impressive was the students that were waiting-either before or after performing-in the choir pews. They were so incredibly well-behaved. No giggling, nudging, showing off, talking-none. For a full hour they sat quietly, respectfully listening to their friends and classmates. The only time they got rowdy was when the music director introduced the other teachers that help with the music program. They cheered their teachers madly. It was precious beyond words. The younger of the two choirs started the program with a beautiful old song called, I think, Give Me Wings. It summed everything up perfectly, as sometimes only music can do.

Now, on to the sweater I am needle felting for Flipper. After considering and discarding many ideas, I settled on an underwater ocean scene, although I now have to talk Flipper OUT of a mermaid, which I really don't want to add. Progressive pictures with brief explanations below.


Here you can see the start of the seaweed; notice how it is fuzzy on the left. That is the wool roving that has not been felted yet.


This is what it looked like as of 5 a.m. this morning: seaweed on both sides completed. Now can move on to a starfish, seahorse, and regular fish. And no mermaid!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Short and Sweet

This is going to be short (I think) since I am at work, actually attempting to accomplish something, and have to leave by 11:50 to meet briefly with a teacher at The Cult before picking Flipper up at 12:30. I am preparing to embark upon a crafty project, and will try to remember to document it here with pictures. Step 1 of the craft is complete (almost). I am going to needle-felt on a sweater that has been transformed from a Men's XL to one that will fit Flipper by the virtue of hot water and a washing machine not my own, since the gentle lift-and-drop front-loader method is ineffective at transforming wool into something very different. This is what "boiled wool" is, at one time it was actually boiled, but now washing machines to the hard work for us. So now I have the little sweater, it has "felted" meaning it's looser Shetland knit has been tightened, and it is now ready for me to take pieces of loose wool "roving" and a painfully sharp, barbed felting needle and stab stab stab the roving onto the sweater, creating, hopefully, a small wearable work of art. Here are some exapmples, so you can get an idea of what I mean:



Precious, are they not? My only problem is that I am uncharacteristically unable to come up with any image ideas to use, the flower-thing seems a bit trite, animals, maybe? An ocean scene (she wants a tiger shark)...none of the things I have been contemplating feel right yet. I hate being uninspired. But the sweater, at least, is done. I have to cut the sleeves down a bit, but they are so tightly felted that they don't unravel. The sweater is below; what a great color! Beside it is a jar of my frighteningly sweet and tasty Russian tea. Flipper is already an addict. Sweater picture ideas welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Processing the process

Yesterday was, finally, a good one. Felt OK, Flipper only had one minor meltdown when I picked her up (freaking out that I pushed her best friend FIRST on the swings instead of her). This is the kind of thing that I simply am unable to respond to with any type of empathy/sympathy for more than about .07 seconds. Then I had to walk away. I sense the teachers are not applauding my lack or restraint in refraining from screaming at her, but are somewhat disappointed in my all-too-obvious annoyance. No game-face here, unfortunately.


Here she is, with one of the Damn Dogs lurking behind her, blowing a bubble. With full-on sugar-filled gum. Note the ADORABLE shirt she is wearing: designed and made by my Telluride best friend, Monique.

I find myself, at times, attempting to recreate certain vignettes from my own, largely happy, childhood. Sometimes this is hugely successful, other times less so. Yesterday fell on the "successful" side of things, thank god. After all the recent school craziness, I am trying to have a quieter life right now, relaxing at home in the afternoons, etc. What is hard is that I am an intensely social person and want to hang out with my friends and talk on a pretty regular basis. hence the appalling cell phone bills. But after school we went home and talked about making a wreath together. Then we headed out to the woods with the dogs and some big paper bags. One thing The Cult has taught me best is that it is the process, not the result, that is the valuable part of life, especially a creative life. We walked, we picked up pinecones, we scuffed through leaves, and then after about an hour, we headed home. Today we might try to make some glittery pine cones, cut down and soak some greenery. Like I said, the process.


Bag-Lady
As it got darker, Flipper stirred the dry ingredients for my very favorite seasonal drink: "Russian" tea. Best, perhaps, not to focus on the recipe, since it starts with Tang. Which, I, a child of the 70's, adores. More on this later. Ending now as I attempt to become productive at work for first time in about 3 weeks. And drink hot Tang.

Yum.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Random. Very random.

There have been a few utterances in the past week or so that I hope I never hear again. Here they are, with brief explanations.

The raccoons have taken them away.
(missing birdfeeders, knocked down by squirrels.)

I wouldn't get too attached to Stumpy, if I were you.
(it's too late! I already am!)

She's OK, just covered in blood.
(phone call from school)

And then I was like...
(my 4 year-old, who has apparently become a teen-ager overnight)

Why are you taking my old coat away?
We're giving it to people that don't have one.
But Santa will bring things to all children!
(except poor ones)--don't worry, I didn't say that out loud, but there he is again, Santa, complicating my life.

In other news, Flipper (finally) completed this:



Adorable, no? This is the first of multiple handwork projects the kids work on at The Cult. In the nursery (preschool) they only paint, and very specifically: wet-on-wet watercolors, one color at a time, building to a few colors towards the end of the year. At that age, the painting supplies come out once a week or so, but the children do not have to paint. In kindergarten, it is a weekly occurance, and they all paint together. Precious, really. The pom pom above, and the subsequent pillow, shoe bag, etc., are a strange blend of optional and yet not, meaning they don't have to sit and do it, but they must finish it before moving onto something new. It is available to work on as they desire throughout the day. It is a beautiful pom pom, if I do say so myself,and I was quite proud of Flipper for finishing it, since she had to do it on her own. I made the mistake of asking her if it was "fun" and she said, "NO! It was boring!!" Regardless, she is quite enamored of it, and it took two days of persistant and subtle begging/bribing from me to procure it for my very own, and here is why. Flipper loves to cut anything, anything at all, with scissors. One of her favorite activities--and this is not a joke--is to go outside with her little orange Fisker's and cut the grass in the backyard. Really, who does need TV? She will do it for a solid 30-45 minutes. I try not to think about it too much. I saw that pom pom, representing months of toil, being reducedi n a few minutes to little yarn shreds on the floor. The Cult has a big thing about handwork, that it is crucial for the development of coordination, right brain-left brain communication, etc. There is a fair amount of time spent, in the later grades, on perfecting cursive handwriting, for example. At any rate, we'll see if she has the initiative to start/finish the shoebag.

Moving on...remember the cookie sale thing that obsessed me? Here is the cardboard house we built to sell them from. It is now, thank god, out of my living room and in the suddenly clean back room, that I attacked in a frenzy yesterday after my morning nap.



Impressive, isn't it? You should have seen poor Smokey's hands after cutting out all the shingles one at a time so they would have an authentically rustic quality about them. (And there is a sentence I hope never to type again.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grey, cold

Weather: grey, cold.
Me: grey, cold.
I want to leave work so badly I can barely stand it; go home, to a house full of general messiness due to the fact that I have been gone so much the past week or so, two slumbering dogs, and my bed. One of the dogs will be ON my bed. Just waiting for me to lie down and pull the covers up. Then I will read for 2 hours or so, doze off and on, then leap up, revitalized; race around the house picking up and cleaning frantically, then head outside in a burst of outdoorsy energy, take the dogs for a ling jaunt, then pick Flipper up and head home. It sounds so appealing...that I think I'll do it. Because I'm lame that way.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Success

The Holiday Faire at The Cult on Saturday was a raging success: great weather, great turn-out, happy, enthusiastic children running amok...the list goes on. The psycho cookie project that kept me up at night, actually, that woke me up in the early morning was a smash hit; all cookies (200+) gone by 2. Now I regret that we didn't make more!! I am hoping and praying that it jump-starts some real momentum, that it fires people's creativity and opens their hearts...and wallets. Smokey went stark raving mad and spent about 100 bucks. Flipper participated in a million things, from candle-dipping (my favorite) to the puppet show (Smokey's favorite) and finished up our long, long day with the last hayride of the afternoon. I hate that I only took pictures with my big camera (film SLR) and not my little digital, but I will find a way to get some images. I can't wait, however, to look at prints, becasue it happens so rarely nowadays. Next year, of course, I want to make it bigger and better, not just cookies but a whole bakeshop with homemade goodies that people can freeze for Christmas, or just have on hand. The scary thing, however, is that it is an event that is fully weather-dependant. And if the weather sucks, it is a failure. More later.