Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day

We went camping at the beach over the Memorial Day weekend. Our campsite was just beside this bridge.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to take some pictures: I love bridges, but never know where to pull over and photograph them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ This breaks my heart: "Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers"

~ I'm part of this problem:
Contemporary data indicate that, on average across a wide range of schools, A’s represent 43% of all letter grades, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988. D’s and F’s total typically less than 10% of all letter grades.
~ A man tries to be someone else in St. Louis. It's the American project, right? And Don Draper's project. Speaking of Don Draper, here's PAL on the ending. I have to say: I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either.

~ Must visit this grocery store, which seems to be doing good in a food desert. (Via Myrrh.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New York--High Line

Thanks to the world's best babysitters, Stearns and Ilana, Francisco and I got to sneak away to New York for an afternoon and evening (it was the longest I've been away from the baby since he was born).

The purpose of our trip was Edge's wedding, which was wonderful. She wore a floor-length magenta gown and just did things her own way, which I admire.

Especially since doing things her own way involved one of the best meals of my life.

Her father quoted from Tocqueville in his speech, which was a highlight of the evening. (I've been to a wedding that involved Plato's Symposium; Wendell Berry made it into our reception; now Tocqueville: I love it.)

But before we went to the wedding, Francisco and I got to take a walk on the High Line (all these pictures are from that) and enjoy coffee in a garden.

(We first visited the High Line together when it was being built almost exactly four years ago. That was also the first of, it turns out, many New York trips together.)

What a wonderful afternoon, with lots of interesting views.

So here's to Edge and her new husband! Wishing you both happiness and adventure!

(Oh, and one last picture--not from the High Line.)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

After Birth

I've been itching to read this for months, but since it's new and since I prefer to buy my books used (or borrow them from the library), I had to wait quite a while. It's the first novel I've read since Baby Leopard was born, and it is everything I hoped for. Although I can't think of one person I know to whom I'd recommend it, it is my ideal book. It is raw and honest, irreverent and probing. (Let's just say, it's no holds barred when it comes to vocabulary and physical descriptions.) It's about female friendship and giving birth; it yearns for what has, at least for many women, been lost--communities into which babies are born, knowledge of childbearing passed down from women with experience, and a natural approach to every aspect of birth. It is attentive to the ways in which our bodies are integral to who we are. And it calls for women to be who they are, rather than conforming themselves to someone else's gaze.

A couple of quotes:

"What is it with women and chocolate? 
I don't know that it's a woman thing, per se, she says.
O-ho, the second-wave police are out. Heaven forbid it might be true that female bodies are different. Heaven forbid we admit that living in these female bodies is different. More terrible and more wonderful. Because what? We might lose the vote? Because we might get veiled, imprisoned? Best deny it, deny it, make it to the Oval Office, win, win, win."

"Baby's gettin' pretty big. Looks pretty well cooked. Don't want him getting much bigger. Lots can start to go wrong. We need to take this show on the road. You ready to meet your baby? 
I mean, listen. Historically I got that you had to own your body, that they'd take it from you and tell you not to trouble your pretty little head about it..."


Baby Leopard is not a huge fan of the sun, as you can see from his scrunched up little faces.

He can twist his tongue!

Reflections from seven months in:

I'm feeling better and happier and more well-adjusted all the time. My aunt said that the first six months are the worst, and it seems that maybe she's right. (As an aside, people kept telling me when he was just born that this is nothing and the teenage years are much harder. Despite having never raised a teenager, I can tell you authoritatively that that is false. It is impossible for anything to be harder than this.)

Breastfeeding was harder than I ever imagined. It took 2-3 months to feel like Baby Leopard and I were getting the hang of it. It's much, much easier now, but pumping is still loads of work (minimum an hour out of my workday). My fb breastfeeding support group was immensely helpful, as was Jack Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment (known affectionately in breastfeeding circles as APNO).

I'm far crunchier than I ever anticipated I would be. I just bought a $20 infant probiotic powder that I dissolve in water and feed to Baby Leopard every afternoon. It nearly killed me to give him antibiotics for an ear infection (the only thing that convinced me was the fact that eardrums often pop without antibiotics). I don't believe in baby Tylenol unless there is zero way for the baby to sleep without it. I love babywearing (as long as my back can take it). And I am fiercely attached to breastfeeding (possibly because I worked pretty hard for it, and pretty hard to keep it up while at work). We do baby-led weaning. Etc. I became this hippy attachment-parent somehow, while Francisco got really attracted to scheduling. So, Ferber is on our coffee table.

When I first went back to work, I was blissfully happy because it was wonderful to see that who I was pre-Baby Leopard still existed. As time has passed, I am realizing that I don't feel most myself when I'm at  work--I feel myself at work, and myself at home. I am a more selfless, patient, sacrificing person than I ever could have imagined. I don't mean to toot my own horn (and Francisco can tell you I'm infinitely far away from sainthood). I mean to say, Tocqueville is right: family pulls you outside of yourself and connects you with other people in ways that I never could have anticipated. I am a different person than I was before Baby Leopard was born (the same is true of marrying Francisco, although it's easier to pretend that you're two independent individuals in a marriage; it simply isn't a farce you can keep up with regard to a baby: Baby Leopard couldn't survive without me, and I certainly couldn't survive without Francisco).

We get sick All. The. Time. Baby Leopard brings things home from daycare and shares them with the whole family: I don't remember what it feels like not to have a cold; we've had the stomach bug; the other week I had a week-long unidentified, super serious sickness. But I have to be careful about complaining too much, because if I do Francisco may gently point out that getting more sleep might be helpful, and maybe we should night-wean. And then I'll get defensive, because night-weaning means scheduling...

My notes on Baby Leopard:

7 months: He nods his head vigorously to the music now, a nascent form of dancing. He also has begun ever so slight forward motion--not to be confused with crawling. It's more of a swimming: he reaches one arm out as far as it can go, while rolling to the side, then he reaches the other arm out as far as it can go, while rolling to the other side. Somehow, he inches forward and can move a foot or more using this ridiculous looking method. 

He still has zero interest in sitting up. My mom says he's too fat, like his uncle #1tomatolover was when he was a baby; I say he can totally do it, he just doesn't feel like it. 

Watching him play is wonderful: he loves to play by himself--he can get to his basket full of toys and pull them out and explore them. This amount of independence was unimaginable just a couple of months ago. He has a favorite toy--one that plays music--and likes holding and chewing on books and even looks at the pages when you read to him. 

8 months: He just started sitting one day last week. He finally got the hang of it. 

Food has really clicked, too--he's way more interested in eating and actually swallows more food. In fact, he wants everything I eat and wants it right now. He gives his excited little, "ha-ha," when he sees food. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Thank heavens for some lovely weather. We've recently implemented the family walk after dinner (although poor Baby Leopard has to stay up quite late sometimes, as a result).

This tree (above) was a throwback to The Orchard.

We found a little park that was brimming with flowers, although it was dusk by the time we got there.

I loved the variety of daffodil-ish flowers. (I never realized how gorgeous the range of daffodils could be until these gorgeous posts.)

And from the way home:

Sunday, May 3, 2015


The perfect spring day: we walked to the duck pond near our house so the baby could see the ducks (and we saw lots of carp and catfish, too).

In the evening, we had a picnic at a tiny little idyllic park a couple of blocks away (where everyone says hello to you and there's a little free library in an old newspaper box and where kids meet up to jump rope). All my favorite foods and the first rose (with an accent mark) of the season.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ Rest in peace, Gilbert Blythe. Avonlea is a

a gorgeous agrarian world allowing for both puff sleeves and female ambition. 

The author repeats her friend's claim that "the best kind of romantic movie involves impassioned gazing," which I sort of buy--the obvious example of this is Pride and Prejudice.

And Gilbert Blythe, because he was the romantic ideal and a feminist, in his way—always respecting Anne’s intellect and ambitions, competing with her and admiring her academically—was an encouraging example of what teenagerdom and a loving gaze might have in store.

I love the movie: it's about home, friendship, family, and this piece is right: impassioned gazing. It praises intelligence, creativity, and independence. Just rewatched it and cried during all the Matthew scenes.

~ Quite a picture; quite a description

~ "We Have Always Been Talking about Headscarves," on the good and bad of civil associations.

~ We're watching The Wire at the moment; very fitting for what's in the news. Here's David Simon on Baltimore. (Side note: last time through I only made it to season 4. Now that we're back to season 4, I realize why I had to stop watching--the kids in the school break my heart. )

~ I didn't like this slideshow on architects' and interior designers' favorite rooms, so I thought I'd give you three of my own:

Marianne Moore's living room. Complete with a footstool from T.S. Eliot and a drawing by e.e. cummings, it's a literary dream.

The living room at Fallingwater, even though, in general, I hate open floor plans. Frank Lloyd Wright was a genius, even though his stuff has to be propped up. The stones in the floor were glazed to remind one of the stones in the creek below, and there are steps from the middle of the living room to the creek, in case you're seized by the urge to do some wading (or want a breeze from the water).

The Peacock Room, now housed at the Freer, is just wonderful. A Whistler masterpiece. From the ceiling to the walls, everything is detailed and delightful. It just needs some furniture.

Please, add to this list. What are your favorite rooms?

Monday, April 27, 2015


"I am scattered in times whose order I do not understand."

--Augustine, Confessions

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Neighborhood Sculpture

There are many things that I love about our neighborhood. The art, though, is nothing to write home about.

This series of three sculptures is particularly offensive. They are lined up along the road, the kitchiest set I could ever imagine. It took me months to get used to that policeman and to realize that he is not real and that he is not pulling me over.

This photographer: how dated; that sweatshirt!

And this lady on a bench is the worst.

I don't know if you can see it in the close-up, but her face has accumulated a lot of dirt over the years, making her prematurely old.

(Apologies for the photos--as many times as I've thought of photographing these sculptures, I've never remembered to do it with my actual camera, so I had to do it with my phone camera.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ I'm not sure if I agree with this take, but I do love Barbara Pym.

~ I don't quite agree with this take, but I do think internet shaming is a really bad thing. Mostly I'm not sure I'm against social mores in the way that this author seems to be, but I think when you apply social mores in a detached, de-personalized, technological realm (like the internet) they become more insidious.

~ I love Bill Cunningham. This barely has anything to do with fashion; mostly it's just about spring and expresses his sense of wonder (could he possibly use "wonderful" any more often?). I have a suspicion that the man's a saint.

~ I like this blog, which I discovered through Myrrh's pinterest. (Do you read it, Myrrh?) It's all about color in the form of quilts, flowers, and stained glass. Also, she's British. From her latest post on giving blood:

Giving blood is easy, making an appointment to give blood is easy, and drinking tea and eating biscuits afterwards is easy.

Of course British people drink tea and eat biscuits after giving blood! As far as I remember from back in the day, in America, we have cookies and soda. (I'm not knocking America here, though--some immediate sugar can be really good post-blood giving.)

~ On a personal note, I just met a big work deadline (although next week will be even crazier), and now have an enormous pile of back-grading to catch up on this weekend. So hard to motivate myself when the weather is fine.

Also, yesterday I bought our summer pool pass! So excited!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


At a talk yesterday, the speaker was discussing suffering and referred to a recent academic book that characterizes suffering as something evil that we should work to eliminate. The speaker qualified that the academic book said that some things that we consider to be suffering, such as a woman giving birth, aren't really suffering. In the back of the room, I was seized with uncontrollable laughter; I couldn't restrain it. Everyone turned to look, and then the other mothers in the room also shook their heads and one agreed with me out loud, "Childbirth is suffering."

I don't think I've ever before had such a physical response to an academic argument.