Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Year and Our Children

I learned about this book on Myrrh's family blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter. I first borrowed it from the library (always my first step with a book I want to read, but am not sure I'll love), then bought my own copy so that I can underline to my heart's content. It really is a reference book, meant to come back to, as well as (at least for me) something that inspires me to look for ways to create our own traditions for celebrating feasts and observing fasts with my family. (It certainly isn't the sort of thing that I'd just follow to the letter--I can't imagine myself baking cookies as often as she recommends, for instance, and my family probably wouldn't be into cookie cutter cookies--or at least I'm not.) And Baby Leopard is too young for almost all of it, although we've lately tried to begin a short family evening prayer.

The book brings up something I've been thinking a lot about lately I think about constantly: mothers working and/or staying at home. Newland states frankly that women should stay at home with their kids, if there's any option to do so. (And she is lucky to have found a vocation as an author that was compatible with staying home with six or seven kids [I forget how many now].) The task of raising children in the faith and with a robust family life is certainly complicated when both parents seek to balance their home and work pursuits. But hopefully it isn't impossible.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More Movies

After the Thin Man

Must watch this with a cocktail in hand. Speaking of which, I made a cocktail last night for the first time that I recommend: campari, bourbon, and vermouth (for me, light on the vermouth; for Francisco, heavy). Next up: demanovka, bourbon, and vermouth.

Coffee in Berlin

Light on the coffee, heavy on the vodka and cigarettes and public transportation. We wander with an aimless guy for a day, as things happen to him. The filming is beautiful (and black and white).

Far from the Madding Crowd

Wow. This has decent reviews, and it was not unenjoyable. But it was as much of a bodice-ripper as I have ever watched. Francisco thought that the filming was good, if a little instagram-y (is that a designation? or just one that F and I use?). I thought that the film editing was terrible, oversaturating everything.

Strangers on a Train

So much suspense! And so many great shots. And so much creepiness.

La Sapienza

I think it's a French film that's half in Italian. This one was interesting--gorgeous architecture in slow-moving shots; stiff, almost robotic, play-like acting. A very talky, sort of philosophical movie that chooses mysticism over rationality.

From Ebert's review:

Rather than apologizing for or “deconstructing” Western tradition, “La Sapienza” celebrates the West’s spiritual sources to the point that it might be called an apotheosis of European culture. Surprisingly or not, it comes from an American expatriate.
Like Henry James, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound before him, native New Yorker Eugène Green moved abroad as a young man and became, it would seem, more European than the Europeans.

(Let's just say--high critic's numbers on Rotten Tomatoes and low audience ones.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Holy goodness: According to Voice of the Peacock, Flannery O'Connor read Alexis de Tocqueville, Mircea Eliade, and Eric Voegelin.

A Random Assortment

~ "He, also, had a mother."

~ Oh, Philadelphia:

The customer, a girl who was having a late lunch, found a roach in her dish of Thai noodles and complained, said Lt. Andy Block. The waiter brought her another dish of noodles but that also contained a roach, Block said.
I ate there this summer; might be a while till I return. (Via Francisco)

~ Stephen Colbert, profound: "I love the thing that I most wish had not happened."

~ Francisco and I have discussed opening up a tiny restaurant called, "Trend," which switched its food regularly depending on the trend of the moment. Well, this week our imaginary restaurant switched (following cupcakes, gelato and whoopie pies) to toast.

~ These pictures of a farm are my favorite in a while from a typically more urban STL photographer.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Acknowledgements, An Occasional Series

"This book would not have been possible without the help of so many people. We Catholics are fond of elaborate litanies. Here is mine:"

--American Gargoyles

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cape May, The Town

Sorry: there are a plethora of pictures.

We chose Cape May for the architecture, which is wonderful. Although it's a little hard to convince yourself to get off the beach to enjoy it.

This house is great--can you see the cupola-esque (I think that's slightly the wrong word) drawing on the roof of the porch?

This one (above) is, in my opinion, overdone: those are fake flowers hanging from the balconies.

Okay, the barrage of Cape May photos is finished.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cape May, The Harbor

We stopped at the charming harbor on our way out of town for some brunch and antiquing.

Baby Leopard was perhaps not as accommodating as one would have hoped with the antiquing, alas.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cape May, WWII Bunker

On the walk to the lighthouse you pass this old WWII bunker.

That is the extent of the information that I have about it, but I thought that the brutalism was fantastically unexpected architecture against the soft sand and clouds.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cape May Lighthouse

We marked the end of summer with a week at Cape May with my family, which was wonderful.

The apartment we rented was quite close to the lighthouse, so we walked there one morning.

(Non-lighthouse picture, but it didn't fit anywhere else in our Cape May adventures.)

The lighthouse made for some incredible sunsets. Well, I never actually saw the sunset, due to Baby Leopard's bedtime, but the afterglow was incredible.

I didn't know any of these people, just took their picture as they walked on the beach, taking their own pictures.

(These poor kids' mother was behind them filming them on her phone as they walked.)

These girls were taking an epic number of selfies.

I think these two might have been just enjoying the view.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


It's hard to catch a close-up of the back of a baby's head, but can you see the chunk that was cut out of his hair by some mysterious person? (My money is on the 4-year-old who has been hanging out with him a bit this summer.)

We love this crib--it's small and folds up easily so we can move it from his room to our room when we have guests. But because it folds up, I guess, there are no chew guards on the end. So baby teethes on his crib.

Best toy ever, made by Uncle #1tomatolover. Baby Leopard loves hardware and this makes him very happy.

10.5 months 

The baby loves wheels. He is a bit scared of big balls--he plays with them, but then comes crawling quickly over to me. But since he was very little, he would hightail it over to any wheels he saw, and turn them as fast as he could. Stroller wheels are probably his favorite. I remember the look on his face when a car drove slowly past us and he realized that there was a GIANT wheel. He likes wheels on little cars, too. Suitcase wheels are good. Walker and wheelchair wheels. It turns out that wheels are everywhere and Baby Leopard wants to spin them all. 

nearly 11 months 

He's saying, "Hi!" enthusiastically to everyone, including my parents' cat and the people behind us at mass. His waving is more sporadic.

11 months 

Today he started balancing on his own for a few seconds at a time. He loves to do this and probably did it 75 times today. He especially loves to do it while getting ready for bed. (I think the mattress is nicer to fall on.) I can't make it all the way through a book without him excitedly standing up, balancing, falling over. And you know what they say, a new skill means no sleep...

The beach. He loves his family, especially my dad. In fact, he bypassed me repeatedly to crawl past me to my dad, all the while saying, "Ma-ma-ma." 

It's the end of the summer and I'm nostalgic--not wanting the school year to start, not wanting Baby Leopard's baby days to end. Both school and toddlerhood are imminent.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Informed Air

My favorite essay is called "Eyes and Noses" and argues that noses are better to write about than eyes. She writes,
"The transcendent function of the nose is to proclaim humankind. That the nose is our tether between spirit and substance, Heaven and Earth, is evident from Genesis, 'the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul'. The first thing that happened to Adam happened to his nose. Therefore the nose is an emblem at once of our dusty origin and our divine.
Why else do infants reach our for our noses, except that they doubt whether we have got souls, like themselves? Remember that the newly born are, all unawares, deeply versed in the Book of Genesis. Thus counselled, our children clutch our emblematic noses, generously to give us the benefit of the doubt."

So much to love in these essays.

"In fact, I would not want to have written anything by anyone else, because they are 'them', and I am, 'me'. And I do not want to be anybody else but myself with all the ideas I want to convey, the stories I want to tell, maybe lesser works, but my own."
          --"The Book I Would Like to Have Written, and Why"

"Thinking back, it is surprising how many--almost all, in fact--of my once-rejected pieces were subsequently published, as I began to make my name. ... [T]he majority of those one-time rejects have become a part of my oeuvre, studied in universities."
(That's a cockiness I'm doing my best to take to heart.)
"I remember visiting Auden at his house in Austria some years  before he died. He was re-writing some of his poems. He said to me, I'm not changing my first intentions, but getting closer to what I really meant.'"
         --"The Writing Life"

On Job refusing to "attribute to God any blame for his agonies":
"Is this because he is being overheard by God? One wonders what Job might have said had he been assured of complete privacy. With God we have none of us any privacy, in itself an almost intolerable burden." 
--"An Unknown Author"

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ Sex/gender stuff is fascinating, including when applied to sports.

~ Best Modern Love in a while:

“If you are Nikolina from Mostar then I have been your boyfriend since 5th grade. Please get back to me, so we can figure out what to do.”
~ I hate food trends (most trends, really), so I liked this article. Although I agree with the author--it was missing cheese. That and red meat, a must for women, I think.

~ Not a fan of this trend, which seems motivated by social media. The time after you have a baby is for resting and recovering and nursing. All of which are tricky and take a lot of time. I feel so fortunate that I had people to take care of me and no one to bother me in the week after Baby Leopard arrived. Because childbirth is physically and emotionally taxing and it's nothing that a blowout and a makeup job are going to fix. (There are pictures of me and the baby in the birth center, but no one will ever see them: I'm white as a sheet and utterly wiped out--I'm not sure I even managed a smile.)

~ The sanest thing (shock! it's from Simcha) I've read on parental leave in a while:
Women can't have it all, and neither can men. Working and raising a family means making sacrifices -- but, if employers are willing to be more flexible and imaginative, those sacrifices don't need to be intolerable. The goal of making life easier for working moms is a very pro-life goal.  
~ Also love this from Simcha on a community fridge.

~This is great; he sounds insane.