Friday, July 31, 2009

freedom of choice

As I was standing in line waiting to order my ice grande soy chai I was reminded again of the genius of Starbucks. Freedom of choice. 'Cause it sure ain't the coffee.

A person can order their own unique snowflake-like beverage, add syrups or not, ice or not, etc. ad nauseum. In this crazy hustle and bustle adult world, where our increasingly drone-like jobs can get us down, at least we can go out and express ourselves. Through coffee. Or smoothies. Or tea, in my case.

Of course what really keeps me coming back for that expressive lift is the sugar in the mix, but I am working on curbing that addiction. One step, one free choice, at a time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

perseus the lightning thief

My niece sent me the book The Lightning Thief to read because she knows I love Greek mythology. It was quite entertaining, and I can see how kids would love it, as the characters were well drawn. What got a bit much for me was the labored wise-cracking and attempts to sound "contemporary" with the kidslang, which I suspect will sound dated very fast.

Apart from its obvious capitalizing on the whole HP franchise and the market's desire for young-teen lit, it was a pretty good effort. I don't feel compelled to read any further adventures, except maybe to my daughter in a few years, but I have heard that there is now a movie in the works and I think that will be actually very fun. The "updating" of the Gods will work better in a movie than it did in the book, where sometimes a mythical character felt a bit forced or a tad obvious.

But for a simply excellent children's book about the Greek Gods, my money is still on D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. And for when the kid gets a little older, The King Must Die by Mary Renault is an excellent portrayal of the Theseus myth, told in real, human terms.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

miss pettigrew

I just caught Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day again on cable and am once again amazed at what a real gem his film is. It's not exactly news that Frances McDormand, Amy Adams and Ciarán Hinds are all great actors, but they all blend beautifully together and successfully bring London pre-WWII to life.

As we all tighten our belts in the current economy - some harder hit than others - it really resonated to watch Miss Pettigrew, who was literally starving, navigate her way through a series of parties, all the while trying to protect the interests of her flibbertigibbet and new charge, Delysia Lafosse. It's easy to forget how people struggled, and what owning just one pair of shoes, one coat, one dress, meant. It was also very satisfying to see that Hinds's character didn't react differently to Miss Pettigrew after her "transformation." Cinderella was just as interesting and attractive to the prince when she was covered in ashes.

If you get a chance, watch (or rewatch) this film. It's a true delight.

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


No, I'm not a pirate.

But I am extremely frustrated these days and sounding like one is my only defense/recourse.

At least I am trying to go for the "aarrgghh," as opposed to the obscenity.

But I make no promises.

Monday, July 27, 2009

all the words are gonna bleed from me...

...and I will sing no more.

Nuff said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

christmas in july

Yesterday was Christmas in July. It also was my grandmother, Gertrude "Gaetana" Marta D'Ippolito's birthday. She used to love to celebrate Christmas in July (except she was the one who usually whipped up something special! She was famed for her coffee cake (a walnut pecan ring). She also made a mean artichoke pie and of course, sfincioni. Happy belated Christmas in July, Grandma. xoxoxo e

Saturday, July 25, 2009

kids in a blanket

Just one of many ways to enjoy the Friday music at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden.

Friday, July 24, 2009

si me voy va a haber peligro

Si me quedo es doble...

Esta indecision me molesta...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the past is prologue

I've been immersed in my family's past recently, going through and digitizing old family photos, doing some ancestor research in preparation for our summer vacation/genealogy tour of New England, so this phrase carved outside the National Archives seemed especially apt...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

vanity case

Is my iPhone vain?

Then why does it keep taking photos of itself?

I mean, I'll hand it to her, she looks good...

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

truly the most amazing flowers

I have had to adjust my morning route somewhat, at least the last leg, in order to cruise by these amazing plants by the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. They are fragrant and just out-of-this-world beautiful. I think they are white mallow flowers...

Monday, July 20, 2009

lost parrot

I've never seen a sign exactly like this before, and didn't realize there was a parrot living so near the Smithsonian. Anyone see Pickles? No questions asked.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

market fair

We spent yesterday afternoon at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm market fair. it was interesting, with lots of local folks who spend their weekends stepping back in time to provide some fun for themselves and for visitors. Not on the grand scale of a Renaissance fair, but the same idea. My daughter's favorite things were the animals, of course, and the stall with the handmade soaps - she probably smelled every single one...

The sheep go home with him to his farm in the evening.

Pigs love peanuts.

They were still grilling tons of chickens as we were leaving.

Great music.

"I like this one!" (said after smelling each bar.)

La Signora Bella on the slack rope.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

kinda reminds me of...

In the past I have been told that I have reminded (different) folks of Emma Thompson, Glenne Headly, and even Drew Barrymore.

Any movie stars or public figures that you can call your doppelgänger?

I love these ladies most of the time, too - Emma in anything, Drew was fun in Music and Lyrics and Grey Gardens, and Glenne was in one of my all-time favorites, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Friday, July 17, 2009

get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now

I try to resist, but the insistent pop and sheer smart-ass-ed-ness of Katy Perry keeps winning me over...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

it's a small world, after all

It's all over the local news today that a high school softball coach was fired after holding a celebratory barbecue for his team and their families where beers were served - to parents and drunk by - only parents. Some idiot parent attending the event complained to the school board and the idiot school board reacted by not only firing the coach but banning him from coaching for three years!

What the...? What exactly is wrong with people today? Apart from the fact that ABSOLUTELY NO alcohol was consumed by any of the kids at the party, why did someone freak out? And why did this cowardly person not just ask the coach to not serve the beers, but instead go behind his back and complain? If they were uncomfortable why didn't they just remove themselves and their kid from the situation? Why did they self-appoint themselves to be the arbiter of decency for all the other families? And what the heck is so bad about grown-ups consuming beer in front of their kids?

This was a party, a barbecue, for adults and children. Does this particular parent lack such control over their progeny that they were afraid of them being anywhere near even the whiff of alcohol? In the adult world I live in, folks over 21 can actually legally purchase and consume liquor. They can also responsibly prevent their children, when they are with them, from doing the same.

It wasn't an unsupervised teenage party with a bunch of kids and lots of booze at the guy's house. But this person is also kidding themselves if they think their child will never be in that sort of situation. And before they turned fink, did they think of the ramifications their self-righteous attitude might have on their child? It won't take much for the whole school to figure out which parent ratted, and the person most likely to suffer the consequences, besides the coach, will be the child of this parent.

It drives me nuts that the school board also responded so strongly to this crap complaint instead of just defusing the situation. What is everyone so afraid of? Last I heard this was a free country. And I do not look forward to having to deal with this sort of person and their attitudes about what is "right" for "the children" in my future, with my child. Your beliefs may not be my beliefs. I love my daughter and cater to her whims probably more than I should at times, but in no way do I believe that we should live in a kid's world, where kids rule and everything is overbalanced, overprotected. She has to grow up and live in the real world, an adult world, and she needs to learn that there are certain things that grown-ups are allowed to do (drink, drive, vote - not all at the same time!) that when she is old enough, she will be able to do, too.

I hope the coach's appeal to the superintendent of schools is heard in a responsible, open-minded way, and it is realized that the concern should not be on the coach's beverage offerings at the barbecue, but the creation of bad feeling, suspicion, and finger-pointing that resulted from one bad apple.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

hot child in the city

It feels like an oven here in D.C. When you step outside, the heat surrounds you from every direction. This is exactly how Florida felt to me when I first visited my grandmother there many years ago at age fourteen. My first time on a plane all by myself, but I digress. Is this global waming (what's that?) or is typical D.C. humidity right around the corner?

Ice cream vendors everywhere

Hot summer sun on Archives relief sculpture

Crape Myrtle, which seems to have been blooming forever already by my favorite Starbucks

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It's been a year since I started this blog. Hard to believe, it seems longer. Especially since I've gotten in the daily posting habit/discipline.

It's been great for me to have somewhere to post thoughts - serious or silly, share links - ditto. I'm also experimenting with the format of a blog to put together other sorts of sites - genealogical, creative, etc. Stay tuned.

Not every post is a masterpiece. Sometimes they are just pretty pictures posted. Other times, rants. But there have been some personal highlights - happy, sad, interesting and exciting. Some trips down memory lane have included music, family, food, and movies. Other posts were about technology, art, life and love (my first post).

Hope you'll continue to check out this blog, as I progress into year two. And post a comment, when you can. Or just say hi.

xoxoxo e

Monday, July 13, 2009

hey there Barbie girl

D.C. hosted a Barbie convention this past weekend, which also coincided with the famous doll's 50th anniversary. On Saturday the sales floor and a few exhibits were open to the public. I took my daughter and we had a blast. I'm sure that some eyes will be rolling simultaneously with others' pangs of jealousy. I've always loved dolls.

When I was a kid my first dolls were a baby doll and two bride dolls. I loved the baby doll, but not so much the bride dolls - they were a little big in size, and I wasn't really sure how to play with them. But they could wear earrings, which was pretty cool. I wasn't a stuffed animal kind of girl and I don't think ever played with the Raggedy Ann I received as a gift.

My cousins passed down to me their fashion doll, a rival to Barbie, which I think was called Tammy, complete with clothes and carrying case. Her proportions were fuller - she was the same height as a Barbie but a little plumper, still had her baby fat.

I got my first Barbie at about the age of five. Apart from the ability to role-play and spin fantasies, of course the main appeal for the doll was the ability to change clothes. My baby doll could drink water and then in a few minutes pee and wet her clothes, which was always exciting - until Barbie. I got another Barbie years later, who had hair you could curl and style, but in the brief time from when I really wanted her and to when I actually got her I actually outgrew her. I barely played with her at all. But she was there at the convention too, complete with her pink granny dress.

My grandmother was a seamstress. She specialized in bridal gowns, but she also made clothes for herself, for her family, and to fit my baby dolls, and my cousins' dolls, and eventually my Barbie. She inspired me to make clothes for Barbie, too. I think my first creation was a tube dress made from one of my old socks which had lost its mate. It was bright red and she looked fabulous. As I got older, my designs became a bit more sophisticated.

I never really liked how Ken looked, but Barbie didn't lack for male friends, as we used empty Batman and Robin bubble bath containers. They were way cooler than Ken and also got my brother to play dolls with me. Of course Barbie in these instances was usually Batgirl.

Once my daughter was born she soon showed an affinity for dolls, too, especially baby dolls. When Walmart stocked Barbie as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I had to get it for her and my pseudo-collecting began. I say pseudo-, because I took them out of the box and let her play with them, but I definitely crossed over into buying specialty Barbies.

Yesterday we mainly just had a good time looking at all the amazing dolls (Sid and Nancy!) and their paraphernalia and marveling at the cost of some of the vintage models. I was really surprised when I saw that my original Barbie, a twist and turn model, had quite a high price and seemed in demand. I asked at one booth why so much for that doll, when much older models were less, and the proprietor couldn't answer, but another young woman who was checking out the displays explained that this particular doll had a "forward stare" which is rare in Barbie-land, at least for the time she came out, as most dolls were looking demurely to the side, which makes her more rare. Hmmm. For me it was always the neon plaid bathing suit which made her stand out.

Anyway, we walked from booth to booth and occasionally would see her, but always out of price range. But I took a photo. As we hit the second-to-last aisle I saw her again, but this time at a much lower price and the vendor was also marking everything down 20% as there was only a half hour left for the public viewing.

I don't have to tell you that I went for it. The question is, will she ever come out of the box? Or maybe this Barbie, apart from bringing back some fond memories, might help in fifteen years, to send the kid to college. Or at least finance some part of it. Thanks, Barbie.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

life on the fringe

Caught some dance at the D.C. Capital Fringe Festival today. We laughed, we enjoyed, we even heard some of the other performances through the wall behind us! The kid got huge props for remaining pretty fidget-free - she actually got caught up in the performances, especially our favorite, Chris Dohse in Rudder. A little bit Francis Bacon, a little bit Alice in Wonderland, 100% Chris.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

a new take on the Chili Peppers

"He sounds like a baby!"


"It doesn't sound like a real voice"

I've always really liked this song, but I have to admit, my five-year-old music student kind of has a point...

Friday, July 10, 2009

morning constitutional

I have a rather elaborate commute, which brings me through or near four Smithsonian museums or sites: the National Zoo, the Museum of American History, the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. To get to my last stop, I cross the National Mall, in all weather, fair or foul. It can sometimes be more than a little bit of a hassle, but there are all sorts of interesting sites to be seen.

fun fuzzy tree near Natural History

Does Lowes know you guys are ripping off their logo for your yucky van?

The Castle and Folklife Festival tents still up

Roses near the Arts and Industries building

Thursday, July 09, 2009

the best flower of summer

Black-eyed Susans somehow always bring me back to my childhood at the Jersey Shore and just speak of sunshine and long, hot days. I love summer.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

flickr is a many splendored thing

The internet never ceases to amaze me. There is so much helpful information out there, if you do a little digging. And sometimes you don't have to dig at all - the information comes to you.


I have been uploading old family photos to flickr and tagging them or labeling them with what little I know or can remember being told by my grandmother, who died over fifteen years ago. One of our family stories is about a young man from Wisconsin, who was a drummer boy in the Civil War. I posted photos from a Civil War-era photo album to the site and one of the unlabeled photos was immediately selected for a flickr group, where two members, Civil War buffs for sure, were able in a few days to help confirm the suspicion that this photo was indeed of my great-great grandfather, William Beverige Cassels, as the stick he is holding was identified as a special baton used in the music corps. Matched with genealogical information via ancestry, and I had his discharge information and confirmation that he was in the fife and drum corps. Cool.

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

temperance charity hope faith

A seedy (unfortunately) square only a few blocks from the National Gallery has this pretty neat statue with a crane (I think?) on top and (really unfortunately) loads of trash below...