Sunday, November 23, 2014


I love the way he smiles when I kiss him a thousand times. I love when he is watching me across the room and smiles when I look at him.

Turning over: he turned over for the first time when he was 7 weeks. It was on a mattress while doing tummy time. He just throws his big, heavy head to the side and his body follows. At ten weeks, he did it for the first time on the hard floor. That's a long way for his big head to fall, and it resulted in his frowny face with the lower lip popped out and maybe a few cries. (By the way, his frowny face and protruding lower lip are adorable, too.)

He did really good with his vaccines--I think they hurt me more than they hurt him (as my mother used to say of spankings). He didn't even cry till his second shot, and letting him nurse right afterward made everything better. It still is ridiculous to me that he gets vaccinated for things like polio at two months--couldn't it wait till he is a little older and stronger? It's also ridiculous to me that the vaccination recommendations are universal--they don't vary whether your kid is in daycare or whether he's at home and encounters only family members. 

He has his first cold right now--it's only a stuffy nose so far, but it breaks my heart to see my tiny little innocent boy sick. I'm really hoping I won't have to use that scary suction thing to blow his nose.

Also--at 10 weeks he looked at himself in the mirror for the first time. He stared and stared. Francisco and I are absolutely intrigued by each new thing he can do--we could just sit and watch for ages. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


"Pity us, yes, but we are brave, she thought, and wild, more life in us than we can bear, the fire infolding itself in us."

I wasn't looking forward too much to Lila, even though I like Marilynne Robinson. But I knew it was another take on the Gilead people and my favorite of her books is Housekeeping. It turns out, though, that Lila is Housekeeping meets Gilead--the old preacher in Gilead marries the Sylvie character (not really, but sort of). I never would have believed that Robinson could have pulled it off. The old preacher in Gilead is so old and kind and good and Sylvie (Lila) is crazy--a lonely, wandering woman who talks to herself and who wonders often if she is crazy, and who is almost certainly perceived as crazy by people around her (crazy is her word, not mine).

While Housekeeping is an interpretation of the Book of Ruth, Lila is Hosea (even though Lila meditates on Ezekiel throughout the novel, with bits of Job and the Psalms thrown in): the old preacher is like the prophet who God tells to marry the prostitute. It is a picture of God's grace and love.

I feel similarly about Lila as I did about Gilead: I don't like Calvinism much at all, but these works are such winsome, Christian portrayals of Calvinism that I almost see how someone could buy it.

Also: it's obvious that there has to be a Lila, Part 2--because Lila, Part 1, doesn't get into the story of her ending up with Jack.

Oh, and of course, I love the parts of her being pregnant and a mother.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last week, Ilana and Baby Leopard and I went to hear Evangelical artist Makoto Fujimura speak. He's interesting because he's theologically reflective (although unfortunately, given that he's an artist, he spoke surprisingly little about his technical artistic process).

He criticized the culture wars, arguing instead for the role of beauty in drawing Christians and non-Christians alike together and giving them common ground.

He showed this picture:

which he painted to illuminate Matthew, and particularly the line, "consider the lilies." He drew attention to Jesus's command to consider the lilies, situated between His command to be anxious for nothing, and His command to seek first the kingdom of God. He intimated that considering the lilies can help us move away from anxiety and toward seeking first the kingdom of God. Fujimura argued that considering the lilies is a reflection on beauty (again, one that anyone can engage in).

Evidently he's obsessed with Emily Dickinson (between that and his paintings based on the Four Quartets, it's obvious that he has good taste). He quoted her letter that says that considering the lilies was the only commandment that she ever obeyed.

He gave a reading of one of her poems. I was wondering what he could offer in terms of interpretation, and I certainly wouldn't say that his interpretation was thorough--it was a bit scattered and didn't illuminate the poem's meaning, but it was artful. He captured aptly her use of hyphens as an aesthetic choice (he called them stitches that move through her poems).

What I don't get about his art: it's abstract and evocative, all of which is fine and good, but he wants the viewer to get that this painting:

is about Jesus walking on water, better yet before you've even seen the title of the painting. I just don't know about that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Cucumber risotto: not as bad as it might sound.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Paul Strand

The Philadelphia Art Museum has an exhibit on the photographer Paul Strand at the moment. Cardigan was interested in going, so I agreed to join her, even though I'd never heard of Paul Strand. The exhibit was absolutely great. My favorites were the ones of windows and doors that I included here (not my photos). They remind me of paintings. (Cardigan said that they remind her of Wyeth, which is so true.)

He also did wonderful travel photos of buildings and people and of greenery from the woods and some great abstract photos, too.

I like the one of trees and bikes (below), too. It is a tiny, intricate photo. The quality of the prints is amazing. It made me a) want to pick up my camera again and b) wish I knew the first thing about taking pictures and even how to use my camera besides the shutter button.


Francisco and I are totally entranced watching Baby Leopard watch his mobile (and intermittently smile at it).


More from Mental Patients in Town Life:

"According to the Geel endoculture, a boarder is never totally disturbed. He is always, in some way or other, socially or mentally normal. He always knows something, however little. He always has some feelings or other like those that move normal people. Mental illness or feebleness never comprises the entire person in all his aspects." (172)

"The irrefutable fact that internment in the psychiatric hospital is felt by all patients as a severe punishment shows, apart from all subtle measurements, that boarders much prefer to stay with their host family and in the Geel community than in an institution, even if the latter provides a very human environment, good food, and optimal care. The patients' many different disturbances and handicaps apparently do not prevent them from being unanimously convinced that an institution is still an institution." (189)

"To bring normals in direct contact with mental patients in a 'natural' environment seems to be the best, and probably the only efficient means of eliminating prejudices and promoting the integration of the patients. To put it bluntly: Most people tend to see many 'crazy people' as crazier than they are, and by direct contact this tendency is corrected in favor of the mental patients." (189-190)

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Above: my favorite of Baby Leopard's outfits; it's a little romper.

Our new language: The baby swing = the mechanical grandmother. The pacifier = the stopper. The projector screen = the giant pacifier on the wall.

My newest and most frequently worn ring.

Baby Leopard reminds me of these little monkeys (which I've always loved): alert, intense, curious, with big beady eyes in a tiny little face. In retrospect, I should have dressed him up like this for Halloween, except I'm not that into costumes.

I sometimes call him Baby Miley, since he has a long tongue and likes to stick it out. (#1tomatolover: Have they said anything about his tongue? Me: Yes, they've said it's very long. #1tomatolover: Is it going to be a problem?)

Also, the pediatrician says I'm supposed to stop eating dairy to help with Baby Leopard's gas. This is awful. It's what I get for all the ice cream when I was pregnant, I guess. (Also--Francisco's reaction to this: "Does this mean he's lactose intolerant?" No! And pity me, please, not him!)

Also, he got his first shots and melted down a little bit that evening. Turns out, in other circumstances, he never, ever cries, which I didn't realize until he actually did. It made me rather upset to hear him cry and to barely be able to comfort him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Art Museum.2

The rest of the art museum was great. There was a section on decorative arts.

The vase on the left strikes me as incredibly modern. 

And of course, the stained glass.

I love the layers and texture.

There is a big architecture section.

And the fine arts: Sculptures by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

A drawing by Blake--this one is Faith, Hope and Charity. Charity cracks me up.


A really great Van Gogh.

Lots of good Pre-Raphaelite stuff. 

Klimt (!)

And a great Hopper (repainted over a previous painting to conserve canvases).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Art museum, modern art section

While Francisco was working, Baby Leopard and I headed to the art museum in Pittsburgh (that's Baby Leopard's fourth art museum in his first eight weeks of life).

We started out in the contemporary art part, and it was fitting that we visited on Halloween, because, goodness gracious, the contemporary art part was scary. There were loads of videos playing--there was one with cats playing the piano, another with atonal singing, another with screams (each audio clashing with the next). There were projections of a ghost-like head on a suited body. There was a neon sign flickering on and off with a buzz. Moreover, there were no seats anywhere in the contemporary galleries; then again, why would you want to sit down?

Monday, November 3, 2014


Sunday, November 2, 2014

East Liberty, Pittsburgh

Above: a Presbyterian church known as the Presbyterian cathedral. Holy goodness, it looks a lot like a Catholic church (and a bit like a skyscraper).