Thursday, October 19, 2017


I brought a professor from another institution to campus today. It was a ton of work, but ended up being really beneficial for my students and for me. Moreover, the professor was really a great human being and made the whole thing a delight. I'm tired as heck, and it was a great day.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


We were in a super cool bookstore in Ann Arbor this weekend and so I checked out some new children's books. (I'm excited to read The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine--all I could do in the bookstore was flip through. It looks innovative and charming and indulgent--there are spreads with just a small picture on a page or two.)

The kid loves his Puff, the Magic Dragon book, which I generally sing rather than read. And I love the song Imagine, so I thought I'd try this book, which I sang to him (quietly) in the bookstore. I guess it didn't go well because he demanded, "Read the words, not sing them."

The funny part is that the song and book advocate moving past nationality and religion with pictures of birds. This, of course, reminds us that animals don't have silly things like nationality and religion. I guess that gives us hope that humans can get past them too? It just sort of reminds me that I'm nothing like a bird. And the idea of birds sharing things (except in the cases of mothers and baby birds) just doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm not a biologist; I don't know: Maybe birds share stuff all the time. The illustrations just didn't convince me.

Moreover, the illustrations are all about this pigeon and his olive branch of peace. But don't they know--this is an image rooted in religion. (And there's a whole lot of wiping out of the world before we get to the olive branch.) I guess we could go into immanentizing the eschaton here.

But really, I love the song. And not the book.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Spirit of the Beehive

Warning--don't read this because it gives plot details away.

The Spirit of the Beehive is about a little girl in a small town in Spain in the 40s. She watches Frankenstein and discovers a wounded Republican soldier, who is subsequently killed. These events blur into one traumatic experience. It's a slow-paced (and beautiful) psychological film about childhood, family, and Franco. It's troubling at times. And there are bees, although I'm still trying to figure out how they fit in. It's the sort of movie that you have to watch a couple of times; plus, it's informed by the political situation of Spain in the 40s, which at least for me takes some catching up on.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Miss Rumphius

Sorry to give the ending away, but that's acceptable with children's books, isn't it? I mean, you read them thousands of times, anyway, so it isn't like there are surprises, at least not after a while.

The eponymous Miss Rumphius travels around the world, lives by the sea, and does something (plants lupines) to make the world more beautiful.

It's the sweetest, most inspiring story--Miss Rumphius's grandfather teaches her this three-fold human duty; Miss Rumphius passes the lesson on to our narrator, her great niece. And isn't this a common human goal--to travel the world, live by the sea, and most importantly to make the world more beautiful?

But there's something that drives me nuts about this book. (Ok, ok, I'm also charmed by this and every Barbara Cooney book.)

Before Miss Rumphius travels the world, lives by the sea, and then makes the world more beautiful, she is a librarian, which in Cooney's telling doesn't do any of these things. Why are Miss Rumphius' adventures in living so separate from making the world more beautiful? Why couldn't she make the world more beautiful where she was? (In the words of that horrible cliche, bloom where you're planted.) Why couldn't her service as a librarian be a contribution to the world, a work of citizenship that improves her place? But no, as a librarian she's just dreaming of the tropical islands she'll visit.

Also, why does making the world more beautiful have to be such a grand gesture--planting lupine everywhere, so that they took over? (In fact, lupines are classified as an invasive species in Maine. They seem to take over, replacing the natural growth.) Wouldn't it be better highlight the good in small interpersonal actions?

In fact, this is the redeeming part of the book--Miss Rumphius teaching her great-niece, just as her grandfather taught her, to care for the world; this inter-generational lesson is what really makes the world a more beautiful place.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Most of these pictures are from Hyde Park. We had a great afternoon--Francisco and Chester went to a museum; I went to an incredible bookstore and a coffee shop. And took pictures.

Monday, October 9, 2017


It was fun to show the kid the dinosaurs at the Field Museum. It was just like the book, Time Flies.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


We went to the Field Museum of Natural History. I could take it or leave it. On one hand, the taxidermied animals made it sort of like going to a zoo where you could really get up close. On the other hand, I don't know, it's just not really my cup of tea.

What I was really impressed with amidst all of the taxidermy were the antlers. So big, so beautiful.

Oh--p.s. the museum is expensive. After cutting my teeth on free DC museums, the $36 price tag ($25 for kids) is staggering. But we're really lucky--if you join a small (cheap) museum in our county, you can get into tons of other museums around the country for free. So I would be loath to go to the Field at full price.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


We had a great weekend in Chicago. First, a train ride to the city (you can walk from our house to the train).

Then I could do what I like--take pictures of the city, while taking the kid to things he likes--museums and parks and we even rode on a water taxi on the spur of the moment.

I think that the library (below) is just gorgeous. The ornament on the pediment is modern and lovely, two words I don't often attach.

Friday, October 6, 2017


Guys: Sublimity (aka a bookstore and a coffee shop) can be reclaimed post-kid. That is, if your ever-obliging partner takes said child to a museum, while you get the afternoon alone with scones and books.

That makes it sound like I don't like my kid, which isn't true, I hope you know. I just also occasionally like doing things that my kid doesn't like. In addition, I have to go out of town for good coffee and books.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I am administering a small grant this year and am inviting a speaker to campus and this is the totally worst work I've ever done in my life,and I hope I never have to do anything like this again.

Also: my husband gave my son "vanilla milk" which is milk with sugar and vanilla added. I am so mad. Also, he protests that it is all organic and so ok. I say we're dumping the rest.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Wonder Woman

I watched this because one of my colleagues pointed out that it has a connection to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland. There were parts that were good, but I thought it was pretty uneven. Overall, I guess I'm just not a big superhero movie person. As my colleague mentioned--the parts when the superheros fight each other is just not that inspiring.