Tuesday, September 25, 2007

she doesn't call, she doesn't write

More than two weeks since I've stopped in here to say so much as hello! That's a new record. Even my usual sporadic pace of blog-reading has been stretched to extremes, as those of you who received a comment from me some three weeks after the post in question know. It kind of cancels out the whole instant-gratification aspect of the internet... I mean, at this rate, I might as well go back to letter-writing. I have really been out of it (where "it"=the internet, that is).

We have been in the midst of some transition here in the ao neko household, nothing earth-shattering, but requiring some adjustments on everyone's part. J has been working more (a big job on the fast track through the fall – wait, I'm in denial that it's now fall, so let's call it late-late summer). Meanwhile, I am supposed to be working less, only this week I have actually been working more. Office work, that is. I also have a big job to do this late-late summer of the work-at-home variety, but my mother, who cares for Iris on my work-at-home days in exchange for meals, kisses, and the opportunity to hone her tantrum-defusing skills, is down for the count with pneumonia.

And wouldn't you know it, Iris has chosen now, this moment, this late-late summer, to give up her nap. Oh, I saw it coming. And I closed my eyes. But it came just the same. We are now, officially, sleepless in Pittsburgh, at least during daylight hours. Since the demise of the nap, Iris does admit that she's tired and ready to go to bed about an hour and a half earlier than before, but her parents are usually too beat by that time to do anything more ambitious than drink wine and watch another Sopranos episode on DVD.

So no, I've got nothing to show for myself in terms of creative pursuits. I don't even have a photo for this post. I've got a to-do list as long as my arm, but it's on hold, listening to endless repetitions of "Someday, Someway."

One thing I can cross off for now, albeit somewhat abashedly, is a bed cover for Iris' big-girl room. I was, of course, intending to make something, but still contemplating exactly what when I saw this. The price was right and so were the colors, which is to say it's pink but not so pink it denies that other colors exist, and I think it will play nicely with the dresser. So I took the plunge. I may still make something eventually, especially if I get her a duvet, which was the original sort-of plan. But the magic of online retail brings me effortlessly one step closer to having her room complete. I think that's called a quick fix.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Iris loves to bake pies and cakes in her kitchen – out of play-dough, of course.

The problem with play-dough is that, unlike her other toys, which only cause tripping hazards and fits of parental exasperation when not put away, left-out play-dough dries into lumps of Kool-Aid-colored hardtack and must be thrown out when it is discovered in, for example, the toy toaster or teapot weeks after the creative cooking spree which caused it to be toasted or brewed in the first place.

So this morning, in the real kitchen, we replenished her dwindling supply by making four bright new batches: blue, green, purple, and pink. We used this recipe which was quite successful.

The girl who was so excited about adding the food coloring and watching the formation of each brightly-colored lump then wasted no time in layering and combining them to make her properietary pastry.

By this afternoon, the "wedding cake" had been kneaded into a massive loaf the drab color of a thundercloud.

So much for the bright, beautiful colors and, it must be said, for my own ideas of how to play with play-dough. The part of me that was invested in this little project could not help thinking that it would have been much less time and effort to have made up one big batch since she was just going to moosh it all together anyway. But then she would not have had the pleasure, a la The Color Kittens, of mixing the colors together herself, which I strongly suspect was half the fun.

Anyway, we've got enough play-dough now to keep Iris' bakery in business for some time, even allowing for a little bit of hardtack every day. Next time we replenish her play-dough, it should be winter, when kneading hot-from-the-pot balls of dough will be a welcome hand-warming treat.

And as for the little bits of squishy dough that are constantly underfoot, at least we don't have carpet.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

suburban ramble

Not sure what it says about me that I can't seem to update this here blog-thing more than once a week. Not sure it matters.

Here in Nouveau Jersey, life is good. There is a breeze. There is a hammock. Much as I heart New York, I have bailed on the idea of going into the city today. This suburban life sure is nice to visit, even though I wouldn't want to live here. (Wait, isn't that what people say about NYC?) I think the thing I love most about my father-in-law's house is that here it seems perfectly OK, even normal, that Iris' bathing suit is lying crumpled on the cutting board in the kitchen. Not that I am such a neatnik by any means, but that just would not fly at home, you know?

On the way here we stopped for lunch in Brookville, PA, and I had to describe the concept of "torn" to Iris, as in, "I am torn between getting back in the car and driving to visit Grandpa as planned and staying here for the rest of my life." Not only is Brookville's main street a Rockwellian slice of Americana, for which I am a total sucker, it is chock-a-block with consignment stores. If I did not have to set a good example for Iris, I would have allowed myself to be dragged away kicking and screaming.

So J and I started talking about buying a country property near Brookville. The country property has been a fantasy of ours for years: some wooded acres, preferably with a pond or a stream, within easy driving distance of Pittsburgh, where we will build and design a modest, modern dream house for weekends and short-haul vacations. It's a fantasy that indulges the other half of our collective split personality: we love living in the city, but we love being in the country. We love living in our quirky old house, but we are both really Modernists at heart. (Funny, I remember saying almost that very phrase – in the first person, of course – to J in our first ever conversation.) We also love the idea of our country place being within bicycling distance of a small town where we could go for necessities and the occasional social outing. If Brookville could be that town, how happy we'd be!

In sadder news, this makes me feel like a bright light has gone out. Her books, especially A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, meant so much to me growing up, and still do. They're in that category of books I look forward to introducing Iris to one day.

Also in that category: the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I just scored a full set of them at an otherwise junky flea market. Not all of them are the same editions I had when I was young, which is always important to me in used book purchases, but for 50 cents apiece, it's all right. Re-reading them is like reliving my own kid life, the very best parts.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


on Jasper and the fresh peach pie:

Alas, one of them is no more. Tragically devoured by the other. I'll leave you to guess the predator/prey relationship.

This photo has nothing to do with that, of course. it just reminds me that it may be September, but summer's not over yet.