Monday, May 28, 2007

weekend update

Thanks for all the nice comments last week! While we're on the subject, I really appreciate every one, all the time, though I have yet to settle on a good system for responding to them. Blogger sends me my comments via email, but most of them do not come with a valid reply-to email address, so with a couple exceptions – people who've supplied their emails to Blogger, I suppose – I can't respond personally. At one time I said I would leave responses to comments in the comments, but I haven't, much, because I doubt people really go back to check. But maybe they would if I actually did it, so I'll try to be better about that.

Anyway, so much for being on a posting roll, since it's now been another week. I've been at a family wedding in Doylestown, PA, a place so cute it puts buttons to shame. It is also home to one of the best business signs ever:

And the Fonthill Museum, a 100-year-old concrete castle positively encrusted with handmade Arts and Crafts tiles, where my cousin got married.

It was a spectacular setting for a beautiful wedding and de facto family reunion, as these things go. My party girl danced the night away. The next morning, J made a reconnaissance mission to our hotel's breakfast bar and reported back to Iris:

"Would you like cereal, a bagel, a muffin, or a danish?"

"A danish."

"What kind of danish?"


"Umm... I don't think they have salt."

"OK, rainbow."

My child's eccentric tastes in pastry have also manifested themselves in a game she invented called "Tortilla," which, apparently, involves her Opa getting baked into bread a la Mickey in In the Night Kitchen. She'll have plenty of chance to play it over the next two weeks, when we'll be visiting him and Oma in Germany. I doubt I'll be posting while I'm away... maybe a picture or two (or twenty) to Flickr. Talk to you when we get back!

Monday, May 21, 2007

let the sunshine in, or not

So here's the rummage sale curtain in all its new glory as my bedroom window curtain. It took some surgery: I had to separate it into two panels and convert the rod tunnel into tabs so it would stay in the "bunched back" position without ties. But for $5 and the amount that I love it, which is so much I just want to sit in my bedroom all afternoon with the curtains drawn like some overaged Goth girl, that bit of sweat equity was well worth it. It is obviously hard to take a good photograph of a curtain, it being backlit and all, but you get the general idea.

Speaking of Goth tendencies, I won't go so far as to say I have been feeling unpopular, exactly, the past couple days, but I did think to myself, gee, it's funny the posts people comment on and the ones they don't. Was that yard sale post too boastful? Pictures and stories about my daughter too self-indulgent? What is a blog if not self-indulgence anyway? As an only child, I am very good at this kind of over-analysis. Not to mention as a person who is ambivalent about keeping a blog in the first place. (Although this here makes three posts in three days, so maybe I'm on some kind of a new roll – we'll see!)

Well, it turns out I had accidentally disabled comments. Whoops! Thanks to the loyal Kirsten for pointing that out. I've fixed it now, so comment away. Whoa, not all at once!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

fairy tale

This is Cinderella.

She arrived at our house at approximately the same time as a gift of princess dress-up clothes. What a coincidence!

This is Cinderella waiting at the bus stop to go to a baseball game.

Shortly after this photo was taken, the bus arrived. Cinderella bought some gum and walked out of the kitchen, then quickly backtracked, saying "Cinderella forgot to get on the bus!"

Alas, Cinderella soon returned with a sad face and the announcement that the ball game was closed. This made Cinderella weep. When she weeps, she draws pictures of ferocious animals with fiery pink breath in her sketchbook.

After she felt a little better, she tied a string around the handle of the refrigerator so the chickens in her backyard won't go peck, peck, peck.

The end.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

let the games begin!

Oh how I love the Regent Square neighborhood yard sale! It's like a whole season of sales in one glorious morning.

I scored the usual motherlode of kids' clothes and toys. This year I am thinking small since I am trying to assemble a portable bag of amusements for an upcoming long, long journey. I got plenty of new-to-Iris books, little toys and whatnot from the 25 cent jumble boxes, and this, which was just sitting there like it knew I was coming:

It even packs a kid-size backpack. I do realize I will end up pulling it half the time (or more), but Iris' pleasure at having her very own luggage makes it worth it. Oh, and the Yellow Submarine lunchbox? Free! (Michael the somewhat-larger-than-life-size stuffed cat featured for scale purposes only. )

I have a weakness for chickens – maybe because that is my Chinese zodiac year, maybe just because I have a weakness for chickens. Anyway, I was happy to find these little made-in-Japan beauties for $1 at a sale which was otherwise priced more like a savvy vintage shop. I passed up a $17.50 tablecloth and $45 – that's right, 4 tens and a five! – for a toy horse I had when I was a kid and for which I doubt my parents paid more than a Lincoln. Excuse me, ma'am, but I think you may be a little unclear on the concept of "yard sale."

On the vintage fabric front, I found this heavy cotton which I did not even unfold all the way before buying.

So it was not until I got it home that I realized it is actually a nicely handmade curtain (circa 1976, according to the selvedge) that not only happens to have the color of my bedroom walls in it, but will be a perfect fit for my bedroom window.

I also got some vintage towels. I am trying for a little collection of these but for some reason, as Iris would say, they are harder to find than it seems like they should be.

And if you had asked me, "Do you ever find jewelry you like at yard sales?" I would have said "No," but then I found this, which I truly love:

All in all, a satisfying start to the yard sale season.

Monday, May 14, 2007

on nature, or maybe if I posted more frequently this would not be this long

Hello! I trust all you mothers and people related to mothers had a happy day yesterday. It was truly lovely here. J and Iris made my favorite Mexican chocolate coffee cake for breakfast, then we went with my mom to the zoo, where Iris wished a happy mothers' day to all the mama animals, including two pregnant elephants. That's 44 cumulative months of gestation, people. I hope those elephants get a big bouquet next year, or will it be two years from now?

Anyway, thanks for all your nice comments on my last post. I've taken another impromptu internet break since then, during which I've done lots of, well, living, I guess you'd call it, when you do stuff instead of write about it on the computer. It's been good. Maybe I should just make it official and come out and say I'm only going to post once a week, but then as soon as I set a rule, I'll want to break it, so never mind. Let's just say I'll be here now and again. How's that for setting expectations?

One of the things I've been doing is reading this book about one of my favorite children's authors and illustrators, Virginia Lee Burton. There is so much to admire in her life and her art. And is it any surprise that a preservationist's favorite book would be The Little House? I could look at the pictures in that book all day, with their gorgeously detailed, rhythmic depiction of the cycle of the seasons* and the passage of time and "progress."

Both of these books make me think a lot about reconciling my love of nature and of the city. We are pretty committed city folk here in the ao neko family for lots of reasons: the conservation of land, the community of people, the convenience of having most everything from dry cleaning to Thai food within easy walking or busing distance. We even walked to the hospital when Iris was about to born (hoping the exercise might kick-start those contractions since I was two weeks overdue and scheduled for a dreaded induction. But that’s another story). Iris is a seasoned public transit rider, attends a downtown preschool with all colors and creeds of children, and plays on a roofdeck. Once we were driving down a suburban commercial strip (without sidewalks, of course) and she asked, truly puzzled, "Why there are no people walking?" That's my girl!

But J and I do have a fantasy about a buying a property in the country where we can design and build a little dream house and have some of the experiences Virginia Lee Burton and her family did living year-round in the country. Raising animals. Growing food. Really living the cycle of the seasons. Really living in nature. Full-time. Sometimes I think it would be worth trading city life for that. But then I realize I would have to drive for every gallon of milk, bank transaction, and library book, and I just don't think I could live without my city sidewalks.

So we are working on our little postage-stamp-size parcel of nature, otherwise known as our backyard (which is in quite an uncultivated natural state right now - if we tame it, will it still be nature?) and I am on the lookout for a pretty little table to put in our front hall to become our nature table. We will put a plate or a tray on it, I told Iris, for keeping all the special things we find out in nature: eggshells, acorns... "and dead flowers," she suggested. Then, "Is nature what we're sitting out in right now?"

This morning she found a bird’s feather on the ground and asked me, “Mama, did you find a table yet?” I'd say the nature table is an idea whose time has come.

* Iris delivered a bravura soliloquy on this topic the other night at dinner. "First it's winter," she said, "then sprin', then summer, then fall, then winter again. I never figured that out before!"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

saved by the bell

So it's been almost a year since I started keeping this-here blog-thing – and over a week since I've posted. My husband pointed out that I seemed to need the outlet of this particular space much more last year when my life was in a blender than I do now that things have settled down. Although I tried back then to keep the mewling and puking to a minimum, there may be some truth to that. My life outside the internet is just so much more satisfying now than it was a year ago when I started ao neko. What a difference a new job has made, that and my mom moving just a mile away, making us an extended family.

A year is longer than I've kept any form of journal since I was 23, but don't worry, I'm not going to mark the occasion with some big paean to blogging and how it has changed my life. Obviously, it has, best of all by helping me keep in touch with far-away family, but, somewhat unexpectedly, also by opening up friendships with people who amuse and inspire me daily, whom I feel like I know even though we have never met. But blogging has also brought its own set of weird little issues which, for now at least, I am not going to try to unpack here. I have thought of quitting, not because I don't enjoy this on the whole, but because who needs more issues? But I'm not announcing that I'm quitting today either. I'm just rambling.

So what have I been doing when I'm not doing what I'm doing now? Well, working of course, though a little less now that my teaching semester is over, which is nice. Playing outside with Iris. We've inaugurated a Pittsburgh Tour de Playground, trying to hit a new one every week. (Anyone local? I'll try to let you know where we'll be, if I'm that good about planning ahead, and you can meet up with us there.) And because there will be rainy days, I'm still working on the playroom, trying to make it a fun, functional yet flexible space. I'll show more pictures when it's farther along, but for now, look what I found over the weekend for $3 a piece:

Four old school molded fiberglass chairs with steel frames. I got them from Construction Junction, where $12 buys a lot of dirt, let me tell you. But they cleaned up real nice, and they'll be the perfect rough-and-tumble playroom furniture. I love that they can stack together to take up less space or link arm-to-arm to make a row.

I've also been rocking on my rectangles. New table linens are in the works – thank goodness, because I am sorely tired of my old ones, which I've been using since my last big bout of home ec crafting about 12 years ago – and curtains are being planned. With most of the work on these simple projects being the pressing and pinning, I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my new iron. I've been using J's mom's old iron, a trusty appliance if there ever was one, and so very 1970s in its lovely almond and orange color scheme. But the casing on the cord is shot and that makes me just a leetle nervous.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the project I started a year ago when I started this blog, I still have not finished. The problem is color paralysis, which does not happen to me very often so I am not sure how to overcome it. Since you all are so clever, maybe I'll post an updated picture soon and ask for your input.

! ! ! That was the doorbell. Hello Brown!