Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the spiral of life

I've been thinking lately about the changes I have gone through in my daughter's first five years of life. Some have been expected, and some not.

When she was first born I was thrilled to meet her, relieved that everything went well, and simultaneously excited and horrified at the reality that this little human's life was in my hands. The first few months were a getting-to-know-you period where I met this person who had been living inside my body for the past nine months. My new roommate was demanding, and I had to learn to love her amidst all the chaos, but I fell in love with her all over again pretty quickly. When I think about the rest of that first year, I mostly think of us face-to-face, with goofy grins.

The second year, which most dub the terrible twos, now seems a breeze - at least toddler behavior-wise. Milestones were met, walking and talking began in earnest. A real little person was in my life. Probably the greatest challenge for me was having to watch her get sick, or fall down and get hurt, and deal with all the worry, while trying to care for her and let her know that everything would be O.K. The rest of the year blurs with the third year and was a real struggle for me, as chilhood illness really took over, and it seemed that the two of us were sick all the time. I also started to lose who I was, my identity, and I think started to resent the whole motherhood gig. With added pressure from work from folks who aren't parents and just didn't get what it's like to be torn in two, to be wholly responsible for another's existence - well, it didn't help and tended to make a person cranky...

But we both started to get healthier, thanks to some lifestyle changes, staying out if range of some things and simply growing up and out of other things, so during the fourth year I started to find my own voice again. She became a bit more independent, and I could take some time to express myself, through my blog, or just be able to have a conversation with another adult and have her not be the only focus in the room, as four-year-olds are not as endlessly fascinating to folks as babies are.

Richard Long

This year we are circling back to where we were in year one. She's old enough to get her own breakfast on the weekends, so I can sleep in and get some me time. She is so smart and funny that we can get giddy and laugh or share a family joke. Or I can just sit and watch her in amazement as she tells a story or in delight as she dances, It's not quite the same stare at each other with goofy grins as before, but our worlds have changed, we are both older. But as I've observed before, life is not so much a circle, but a spiral, and we are in similar positions to the ones we were in five years ago, but now we are on a loop farther out on the spiral. And it's a good place to be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

henry 1993-2009

I remember when he was a kitten and he saw his first snowfall. He leapt into the window and tried to catch the big flakes as they drifted by.

He loved looking outside, watching the birds, so I got the brilliant idea of getting a cat leash and trying to take him for a walk to Prospect Park. He was terrified. I had to carry him (it was only a block from my apartment) and he cowered under the park bench the whole time we were there. Pigeons could have been covering me and he wouldn't have budged from under the bench. That was the end of the leash.

He could open cabinet doors and dresser drawers and loved to leap up to the top of my dresser, open the drawer and make a cozy nest in my underwear. Needless to say, my underwear had to find a new home, not hairy Harry.

His original name was Henri le chat, named after Matisse. But being a Brooklyn street cat, I thought he should sound a little tougher, so it became Henry. Other nicknames he acquired along the way: Hinky, HenHen.

A well-traveled feline, he had been on a plane at least twice to Florida, moved from Brooklyn to Virginia to DC to New York City, back to DC, and ultimately Virginia. When I was moving from New York he was crying in the car the whole first hour, and as I was crying myself and flipping radio stations to drown us both out, a song came on that had the tune of "Hernando's Hideaway" in the chorus. He magically became quiet. If he started to get agitated on that trip (or other ones), I would start singing "Hernando's Hideaway" to calm him. Worked like a charm. Add Hernando to the list of nicknames.

While I was pregnant he sat on my lap every night, and adjusted his cuddling position to my ever-changing belly. When the baby finally came, his nose was only briefly out of joint, and he soon grew to love her and was quite patient with her baby-grabbing of his tail or hair. I never once saw him hiss at her and certainly never swat at her. If she was too much, he would just remove himself from the situation. I wish I could always exhibit that sort of patience and understanding with a small child!

He was truly the best companion ever.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

lightening bugs

My daughter caught her first fireflies, or lightening bugs, as I used to call them...

In Virginia, the Fourth of July comes early...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

off the wall

I was never a huge fan of Michael Jackson, but I did love this song. I remember how cute he was when the record came out, and dancing to it.

I guess everyone has tried to "moonwalk" since the 80s, but no one did it like him.

He truly was a phenomenon, in every sense - unique, creative, and highly unusual. But I probably liked him best as the exuberant lead voice of the Jackson 5. I can even picture his cartoon version.

Sadly, as we all know, his adult life sometimes took on bizarre, cartoon-like dimensions. No matter whether he did what some accused him of or not, there was no denying that he was odd, taking his persona and his lifestyle to Howard Hughes-like strangeness.

I have been guilty in the past, like many, of scornfully referring to him as Wacko Jacko. Did he make it too easy? Did he really never have any experience of a "normal" life? It's all too sad. 50 is too young.

Johnny Depp is destined to play him in the Tim Burton biopic (Willie Wonka was just a rehearsal.) I just keep thinking about the kids. No normal life for them, either, I'm afraid. Maybe Michael's "ex," Lisa Marie, can step in and give them some perspective, as she has been in an eerily similar position.

I can't help it, I keep thinking of Elvis dead at Graceland, Michael in his Neverland. Why does anyone want to be a "star?"

Friday, June 26, 2009


Her poster was part of my childhood. I don't think it was on my brother's bedroom wall, but I do remember distinctly when we were alerted to "crack the code" and spell out S-E-X in the curls of her amazing hair.

I of course grew up on Charlie's Angels and realized immediately how simultaneously silly and empowering for females the show really was. Completely absurd - the Angels always seemed to solve every mystery by rifling through file cabinets to find that one bit of evidence - it also depicted women as beautiful and kick-ass. Not a common thing on T.V. at that time. So Aaron Spelling wasn't all bad (Love Boat). It's hard to believe she was just on one season.

I remember going to see Logan's Run at the movies and being excited that she was in it - and disappointed that it was such a teeny part. But then Michael York caught my attention...I also remember some crazy mini-series with Sam Elliot (who I LOVE) where he is her murderous spouse that was pretty good.

But mostly Farrah was an icon for me via her relationship with Ryan O'Neal, which seemed solid for most of my dating years - a relationship lived out in the public sphere that showed there was life and love beyond, beside marriage. During my parents' divorce and my own ambivalent feelings about that institution, this was invaluable.

It sounds like she had a tough go of it at the end, and I'm very sorry for that, and for her family. One article I read said that as an infant she actually had to have a tumor removed from her intestine. Is it possible that such an event could be a blueprint for her later-in-life illness? A sobering thought. But she appears to have lived quite a full life, loved by many. That's something to be proud of, as it's really all that matters in the end. R.I.P. Angel.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

separated at birth

Watching the first Harry Potter movie with the kid and I am always struck by how the Goblin at the bank looks uncannily like...Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.


I think not.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

all the young dudes

The man in the upper left corner is headmaster, Edwin H. Cassels, and my great-grandfather. Here he is with the Class of 1895 football team, turn-of-the-century dudes, in every sense of the word.

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

peacock poop

"Did you know that peacocks poop?"

"Well, yes, I guess..."

"Well, I know, and they DEFINITELY poop,believe me."

"Really, how can you be sure?"

"Did you know that caterpillars poop, too? I wonder if I'll see a caterpillar again..."

And that's all you need to know.

Or maybe not...

Monday, June 22, 2009

anything you can do...

At work someone suggested that I get one of the new little notebooks (PC of course) that only weigh under 3 pounds and can get me wireless connection everywhere, etc. We're going on a road trip at the end of the summer, and for about $350 (or less and less, it seems, every day) it is tempting to pick up a new gadget, justifying that I could go on the internet in my hotel room at night, etc.

But I'll have the iPhone too, and I keep coming up against that - what can any of these new gadgets (PCs, Kindles, etc.) do that my iPhone can't? I rarely use my digital camera anymore, although I'm sure I'll take it along on this trip. Email, iPod, Internet, facebook, twitter, etc., etc. - it's a one-stop shop.

Why do I need another electronic device in my world?

I have a computer at home, so for real typing and web-surfing I use that. A Mac, of course. At work I have a PC with a mega flat screen and it works great for the graphics and other things that I do there. If the MacBook Air were cheaper, I would probably justify an "extra" computer in my house without blinking an eye, but somehow bringing a PC into the house is not what I want to do.

I guess I'm a left brain (PC at work), right brain (Mac at home) sorta gal.

p.s. check out the insanely cool knit iPhone, courtesy of daddytypes.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

look out for that...too late!

This "exhibit" is on display on the way to the staff parking lot at the National Air & Space Museum.

It never ceases to crack me up.

Yes, I'm a dork.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

30% off!!!

I saw this sign in a window on Columbia Road, Adams Morgan, a few months ago and just last night uploaded the photo, so decided to share.

I liked that "ALL" in the first line in a bigger font size, to further communicate that not just some, but all...

On a more serious note, so many small businesses in this neighborhood have been closing, disappearing. I didn't notice the other day if this business was still in business. I'll have to check...

Friday, June 19, 2009

more attention to detail

A few more from Archives, too good to miss...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

she's a little bit country

We don't watch Hannah Montana or the Disney channel, if I can help it. Too many commercials. But it's impossible for my five-year-old girl, in the society we live in, to not know who Miley Cyrus is, or her alter ego, and to even know that they can be distinguished by a (pretty tacky-looking) wig. But this song has been playing on the radio recently and I have to say that I, like my daughter, think it's pretty good. It's age-appropriate and country-fied, just a tad inspirational, which of course all young girls love. Rock on, Miley.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...

...you and me, you and me, oh how happy we'll be...

My great grandmother, circa 1900, on a French beach...

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

up, up and away

We saw Up this weekend and was it ever good. It was touching, heart-breaking at times, beautiful, scary, hilarious at others. All the things that a movie is supposed to be. There were all sorts of references - The Wizard of Oz, Howl's Moving Castle, The Red Balloon, and of course, The Incredibles and other Pixar gems. All the grown-ups in the theater cried at scenes which silently, beautifully, encapsulated a life, much in the manner of a classic Chaplin film. The kids enjoyed it too, but I suspect will be surprised in later years when they see it again and truly "get" some of the film's deeper themes. One of my favorite references has to be the Monty Python/Terry Gilliam short, The Crimson Permanent Assurance. I don't have enough praise for this great film. Just see it. It rocks. We saw it in 3D, by the way...

Monday, June 15, 2009

it's all in the details

Lunchtime walks, if I'm paying attention can be a treasure trove of visuals, these from the National Archives building.

Maybe I can justify my trip for an ice venti soy chai with some potential artistic fodder?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish...

Tower of Pisa, whenever I see ya, so please be kind...

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Just watched the Roseanne pms episode - sheer brilliance. I've been on both sides, as oppressor and oppressed.

My favorite moment is when Dan warns his clueless family of the impending danger.

If only pms actually only lasted 24 hours, but television is escapist fantasy...

Friday, June 12, 2009

“Talk doesn't cook rice.”

Check out Free Rice, a website where you can improve your vocabulary and hopefully help fill some tummies...

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate peopleChinese Proverb

Luck is like having a rice dumpling fly into your mouthJapanese Proverb

Talk doesn't cook rice.Chinese Proverb

Help end world hunger

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the world on its side

I remember coming down for a visit to D.C., when I was still living in New York, and marveling, as I was cruising around the National Mall, that it looked like New York, except the buildings were all lying down.

Today it still seems that way to me. An abundance of sky on a hot D.C. day. And all the museums stretched out, lazily.

The world on its side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

scooby dooby doo..

My dad looks cooler than Dino, the Chairman of the Board, or any Rat Pack member in this photo.

It was taken on my parents' honeymoon, in Nassau, Bahamas.

I think he's holding a Brownie camera. I must say, my mom's compositional sense is first-rate.

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I'm just catching up with my on-line reading and favorite blogs and this post by Martin really resonated.

I truly hope that our current situation is

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists. (Obama's doing such a great job we forget about him, my current state, apart from the occasional motorcade traffic snarl)

rather than

Next best is a leader who is loved (Obama when he first took office, and still in effect for most, if you can tell by the amount of rockstar/god merchandise - for a President! - being sold)


Next, one who is feared. (What could have been if Cheney was in charge in name as well as deed, and luckily we dodged)


The worst is one who is despised (well, we all know how that one went. Howdy, W...)

p.s. George was always my favorite Beatle, too.

Monday, June 08, 2009

garden tour

A little bit of Giverny in Fairfax, VA.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

life 9 1/2, 9 3/4, 9 5/8...

Henry is on the way out, but apparently intends to go out in style. My cousin found him outside her house the other night and was wondering how he got there. He has access to the (second story) deck, but she found him hanging out in the front yard. He has been taking the air quite a bit this week, it seems.

This evening we saw him in action. He perched at the edge of the deck, and took his time, looking below. Then, one swift JUMP and he was down, making his way to the front stoop and a towel-lined box to cuddle up in. He may not have much time left, may just be practically skin and bones, but this Brooklyn street cat has definitely chosen to go out with a bang and not a whimper. Rock on, Henry.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

history lesson

I'm sorry, but I don't understand all the snobbishness about The Tudors and similar shows that take a twist on history. Yes, they get the dates and characters and events mixed up at times, usually for dramatic effect. Sometimes, inexplicably. But carping about that is missing the point. What the series does accomplish is to give the viewer a real glimpse into life at the Tudor court and how the political and sexual machinations of the sixteenth century are not so very different from current maneuvers.

I am still haunted by last week's finale and depiction of Thomas Cromwell's end, which was gruesome, and accurate, maybe not specifically for Cromwell's death, but certainly for public executions of the time. The trajectory of Cromwell's career was fascinating, too. Not the first "common man" loved, elevated and revered by a king only to take a steep nose dive when the winds changed. Wolsey met a similar fate, also with Henry VIII (and Cromwell himself had a hand in that), and of course Thomas Becket and Henry II are legendary friends turned enemies. Funny that what we consider a success story in America, the "American Dream," was almost a recipe for disaster with the Plantagenets.

The attempt to rival Rome, and the combination of Jonathan Rhys Meyer's pretty boy intensity with a fair amount of bodice ripping was the original recipe for success for The Tudors. What has kept it interesting has been some excellent acting this season, most touchingly, from Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, and the politics of fear and absolute power. Maybe the details are somewhat sketchy at times, but if you want to get all the facts there are plenty of great books on the subject to check out. If you want to get a taste of not-so-merry-Olde-England, a feast awaits.

Friday, June 05, 2009

invisibility cloak

I thought a bubble umbrella, by virtue of being clear, would give me more visibility, but somehow it seems to render me invisible.

A car nearly ran me over as I was crossing the street and some tourists continually were jostling into me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

take a cha-cha-cha-chance

A shout out to my bro...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

my fair lady

I've been immersed in family photos that my mom has brought me recently. It's amazing what my family managed to hold onto. And it's equally amazing to look at baby pictures from over 100 years ago and see my daughter's face or mine staring out at me.

But I am especially enchanted by my great grandmother, Mary Vaughan Bretherton, and how absolutely exquisite she was. Henry Higgins wouldn't have given Eliza Doolittle a second thought if he had ever caught a glimpse of this lovely lady...

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

cinema village

When I was going to art school in New York many years ago, one of the fun things to do was to catch a movie (or two) after an exhausting crit or studio session. And one of my favorite theaters to go to was the nearby Cinema Village. It had at the time, I think, two screens and would show a great variety of revival double-features, as well as the occasional first-run or art-house film-school hit. I'll never forget seeing Stanley Kubrick's amazing Clockwork Orange there and feeling like one of the "droogs," wanting to take out passersby on the way to the subway after the film. I also got to see classics like The Maltese Falcon or A Hard Day's Night or East of Eden on the big screen. A very different experience from watching them on T.V.
I was also introduced to the films of Val Lewton in one of the theater's themed revival weeks. They would show a different double-feature each day of the week, enabling a film buff to saturate themselves in a particular oeuvre. I had loved Cat People growing up, but was in for a treat when I got to see other films like I Walked with a Zombie, Curse of the Cat People and especially, The Seventh Victim. That film, about a young girl who comes to New York in search of her older sister who has mysteriously disappeared struck a chord with a girl recently transplanted from South Jersey. Her investigation into her sister's disappearance brings her into contact with downtown New York, a devil or witchcraft cult, and possibly true love. It was a low-budget film, definitely a second feature, but it had an atmosphere that I have never quite forgotten, and is one of those little gems that I would love to see again.

I actually worked briefly at the Cinema Village after college. I sold tickets at the front booth (once to Emo Philips - whatever happened to him?), made and sold the popcorn (where I learned that it's not butter, it's soybean oil and a lot of it), and on a Sunday night, even had to climb up on a ladder and change the letters on the marquee for the next week's show. Cool, huh? No, I actually hated working there. I definitely was better suited to watching movies.

New York's repertory and revival cinemas died off in the 80s and 90s, making way for the more suburban-style megaplexes. I was happy to learn that Cinema Village has managed to survive, altering its menu to current needs, but survived nonetheless.

I hardly go to the movies anymore. Taking a kid to a movie theater is no guarantee of actually ever seeing the film. And if there's a "grown-up" movie I want to see, most times on my day off, spending the afternoon in a movie theater is the last place I want to be. So most times I catch things on cable. There's a DC alternative to Cinema Village in nearby Silver Spring, The AFI Silver Theater. I'm going to have to check that out one of these days. Maybe they'll even play some Val Lewton.

Monday, June 01, 2009

night at the Smithsonian

We caught the new Night at the Museum flick recently at the Smithsonian in IMAX. What fun. I would have enjoyed it anyway, but working at the Smithsonian gave me some extra laughs and cringes and shrugs. The best Smithsonian moment was when the Air & Space museum came alive, although I had to look the other way at the "new" graphics on the front of the building. But no matter.

There was just enough Robin Williams as Theodore Rex, monkey slapping, and Easter Island "dum-dumming" to go around, as well as some new tricks. Ben Stiller was great, and I think the film is even better than the first one, although that may be because I've only probably seen that one about fifty times (or it just seems that way), so novelty is always refreshing...

Owen Wilson is still my favorite tiniest cowboy, Amy Adams as Amelia Earheart gives Stiller a run for his money, but Hank Azaria is absolutely brilliant as the "bad" Pharaoh, speaking for some reason in a pseudo-Boris Karloff voice and just having the best time ever. As did we. If you catch it at the Smithsonian, Madame Tussauds has leant a few wax figures as an extra treat.