February 24, 2008

Get Outside

We finally broke free of the Lego spell today and headed over to the neighborhood sledding hill. The snow was melting quickly; we were thrilled to discover that a little snow goes a long way. And nobody went swimming! (Yesterday, we heard, this happened to a few folks.)

(Special thanks to friend Doug,
who was there to capture a few minutes of our fun,
and to Teo, who kept Mr. D from sledding into the lake!)

February 23, 2008

The Dude Drawer

We have been Lego-ing up a storm around here all weekend... many thanks to the student-teachers of PEEK, who helped us take our game to a whole new level, to the generous friends who passed their Legos along to us, and to my mom, who held onto my vast collection for YEARS until I finally bought a house and became a parent and made some room in my life for thousands of pieces of brightly colored plastic again.

And, while we're at it, a big shout out to my partner Super-T, who bought us these amazing organizing chests this year...

And then spent hours sitting next to me sorting...

So that now, when planning our next adventure, everyone knows just where to go when we need someone to pilot the ship... the dude drawer, of course!

(Not sure what the deal is with Mr. Googley-eyes, there.
He doesn't get out of the drawer much.)

February 22, 2008

Reading Haiku

Once a month, the folks at haikuworld.org put together a kukai, in which writers of English-language haiku write and submit haiku in response to specific prompts. Then, if you've submitted a haiku to either prompt (there are usually two), you are permitted to vote on the haiku other folks have written.

I submit my own haiku so that I may have the privilege of voting for other folks'. The voting deadline this month is tomorrow, and
there were over 250 haiku to read and think about. I have now made my selections.

Some of my current thinking about haiku has been shaped by the
editors at Simply Haiku, this post by David Giacalone, and the writings of Robert Hass on the subject. I hope to be trying to write haiku for many years to come. It's harder than it looks.


roads glisten black
as the traffic melts
this morning's snow

February 21, 2008

Broken Heart Song Snippet

Hey, look, we have audio!

This is a clip of Mr. D and me singing a section of the fabulous Kim Richey's song, "The Way It Never Was," from her Glimmer album.

You remember the way it never was
You've forgotten the things we didn't say
If you miss me the reason is because
You remember the way it never was...

Mr. D's favorite category of song these days is what he calls "broken heart songs," and this one is right up there with Joan Osborne's "Who Divided" from Pretty Little Stranger.

(Sometime if I have time (can you say snow day?),
I'll post a little "how to"... all you need for this is a phone
and some minor behind-the-scenes code-slinging!
In the meantime, though... any requests?)

His Idea, I Swear

From the time we arrived home from school today until the time we went upstairs to read books, with one grudging break for dinner, Mr. D worked on this amazing project.

The 10 times tables from one to 102. (He wanted to get to 1000 and then wowed himself by going past it.)

I provided the notebook paper and occasional coaching with regards to the orientation of the "bump" of a nine. (Eventually he figured this out himself, repeating my reminder, not like a P, not like a P," under his breath.)

He's looking forward to showing his teacher Ms. Fabulous, tomorrow. I'm tempted to attach a Post-It that says, "His idea, I swear!"

February 20, 2008

Knew I Liked This Guy

I've always been interested in the process of politics, in addition to the personalities. Here's 10 minutes of the lucid and engaging Lawrence Lessig on his plans to change Congress.

February 19, 2008

Imported Fun

Here's a snapshot of bedtime reading with Mr. D and the fabulous Miss C, who we imported from her home in MD for the weekend. They love each other. And also? They both know how to read now! These things combined to put a big ol' grin on my face this weekend.

Which was an especially good thing during all those moments during which I was fighting back the nausea associated with the food poisoning I got from a certain diner in Delaware. Elkton, Delaware. In the Big Elk strip mall. Yeah, that one. On the day of the biggest beef recall in US history, I ordered a hamburger. Not my finest moment.

February 15, 2008


My relationship with sleep has been a good one, for the most part. Or at least that's how I think of it. But upon further reflection I think that I have been something of a jerk in the relationship.

I enjoy sleeping, and periodically bemoan the fact that I wasn't fortunate enough to be born into a culture more supportive of napping. When I used to do a lot of babysitting, I was constantly pleading with the sleep-resisting five year olds: "Trust me, you think you don't want to take a nap, but in twenty years or so you're going to really want one and not be able to get it, so just take it today, will you?" It didn't work, but it made me feel better.

Now that I'm a parent, and especially because we're into the thick of college application review season in my household, sleep has taken a bit of a hit. The lovely T often doesn't get home until what used to be our bedtime, and then of course there's all that catching up to do.

Poor sleep, taken for granted and always getting pushed further down on the list of priorities. I have made my peace with the crazier hours, and it was the early days of parenting that made it possible... once you let go of the idea that sleep should happen at a particular time during the day, it's less frustrating to find yourself still awake at 12:23am.

But I do pay a price. I can feel that my mind is not as sharp, that my balance is a little off, and that my temper runs shorter when I'm tired. I get a second wind, and I count on it, but I remember another trick from early parenting... the way to tell how tired you are is to remember how you felt when you first woke up that morning. Before coffee. Before your second wind. Like most people, I need more sleep than I get, but it seems that I am an unrepentant jerk... I've got another late night planned tonight. And no nap in sight.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.
I wrote about sleep in another vein at another time;
you can read that, too, if you like! It's over here.)

February 11, 2008

Love and Desire Haiku

The prompt at One Deep Breath this week encouraged us to "break the rules" and write about love. Here's where I found love today:

his face
when he sees me —
and mine, too

And in school, there was much talk about an immature red tailed hawk that had swooped further down into our campus than usual. I didn't see the hawk, only witnessed the feeling of everyone wanting to somehow connect to this spectacular bird...

red tailed hawk
we speak of you,
failing to claim you

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.
Update: friend Jaxter got a picture of the hawk.)

Point: Counterpoint

February 10, 2008

Getting Ready

My partner is a weaver. Our son has recently expressed interest. And he'll be wanting to give every kid in his kindergarten class a Valentine. So....

(Check out the one in front of the toaster with a "thread" sticking up... it's awe-inspiring to witness how NOT constrained by adult thinking he is.)

February 08, 2008

Cat's Cradle

Mr. D used his B&N gift certificate from Grammy and Grampy to buy these terrific strings and a photographically illustrated "how to" book for Christmas, and he has been DETERMINED to master some figures ever since. And not just the cinchy ones, either. For the first few rounds I had to help him by holding strings in place, but eventually he nailed it:

Then he became equally as excited by the prospect of inventing his OWN figures. I can't remember what this one was, but he could tell you all about it:

The simple games? They've got some staying power.

(My hands still remember
how to trade cat's cradles back and forth,
and I can do Jacob's Ladder, too...
as long as I don't think too much.)

It's A Book!

By Shelley Krause

At the end of last year, I realized that I had written enough haiku that I thought worth sharing that I could make a book of them. I don't have access to Photoshop, but was hoping for something a little more robust than Snapfish or Shutterfly. I was very happy to discover Blurb, and even though the creative process had its moments, I am quite pleased with the way the final product (a 46-page book of haiku and images entitled Each Stone) turned out. Blurb is set up so that you can sell your work for profit, but I've decided not to include a "mark up" on my haiku collection, so if you buy a copy, the only people who will be making money are the folks at Blurb. I waited to post this until my parents and T's parents had both received their copies... now I'm happy to let anyone and everyone know that the book is available via Blurb's on-demand printing. You can check out a low-res preview of the book by clicking on the preview link above. If you buy it, please let me know what you think! And if you're a friend of mine, feel free to ask for a copy for your birthday. :-)

(Most of the images in the book are mine, too,
although the few that aren't were a fun part of the process...
I solicited collaborators through the fabulousness that is the internet,
and came up with some terrific accompanying images.)

February 06, 2008

Following Instructions

By day I am an academic matchmaker, which is to say, college counselor. Tonight I helped give a presentation to my school's junior class and their parents. I tell them that one of the ways they can help themselves in the college search process is to focus on those elements of over which they have some control. This is a challenge. For many students, it's easier to think about the fact that there are more high school seniors this year than there were last year, or about that C they got in AP Biology last year. Making a commitment to boring stuff like starting early, visiting schools, and meeting deadlines is harder, somehow. If you can be one of the students who submits their material on time, works with a good proofreader, and writes thoughtfully and from experience about what they like in a particular college, you'll be WAAAY ahead of most people, I tell them. It should be easy, and for some students it is, but for many more... you can see it's just not going to work that way for them.

Then there are the parents, some of whom want instructions of a different kind. They want the recipe for admission to (insert impossibly selective nationally recognized school here). What they don't understand is that recipes for admission to these schools don't exist. The students who are achieving at that level are instinctive chefs, not cookbook readers. They'll poke around in the local market, bring home some fresh spinach without any particular plan, remember a citrus-based dressing they once had on a salad somewhere, poke around in the cupboard and the freezer, call a friend to ask about whether ginger thaws well, and come up with a amazing salad while still talking to their friend, in a conversation that by now has moved on to whether Obama will figure out a way to back out of his categorical resistance to mandates. No one can tell you the recipe to follow. What you need to follow is the thread of your life. (See William Stafford's The Way It Is.)

(Thanks to the good folks at Thing-A-Day
for their continuing inspiration.)

February 03, 2008

Warm Day Haiku

I'm submitting one haiku every week this year to Neil Muscott's Haiku Project. These are two from today that didn't quite make the cut, but which I think do a good job of encapsulating the feel of today.

warm spell —
we scramble to find
our bike helmets

our bamboo thicket
is now my son's space —
I may not enter

(Thanks to the good folks at Thing-A-Day
for their continuing inspiration.)

February 02, 2008

Saturday Afternoon

We sat across from each other, each in our own world, but also undeniably together. He was working with colored pencils, me with rubber stamps, a white gel marker, and some glitter glue. We hummed while we worked, trading little snippets back and forth. We were not in a hurry. I found myself wondering, afterwards, which of these moments he may remember.

(Thanks to the folks at Thing-A-Day
for stoking the fires again this year.)

February 01, 2008

Wish I'd Been There!

This video of time stopping in Grand Central Station is just a little over two minutes long. Who would you rather have been, a participant, or a spectator?

This post is dedicated to the fabulous TBF (pictured above), who is now officially the 4th grade winner of this year's Barlow Award at the Glenelg Country School. In pursuit of this triumph, she enthusiastically recited Roald Dahl's poem Television from memory. I could NOT be prouder! She says that when the award was announced, it felt to her as if time was slowing to a stop, so I thought she'd enjoy this video. Woo hoo! I wish I'd been there!

But Enough About Me

The excellent Black Belt Mama has drawn the short straw and will be interviewing me as a part of Neil Kramer's Great Interview Experiment. So here we go...

1. You quote Alice Walker in your email signature. (Note: I have a lot of email .sigs, but the one BBM is referring to says, "Activism is my rent for living on this planet.") What is your favorite piece of literature from her and why?

I love The Color Purple. It's a story told through diary entries and letters that speaks to the experiences of a group of people who initially seem very different from me — African-American women in the rural south in the 1930's — and who end up feeling like my tribe. Plus I actually love the color purple.

2. What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting for you?

Other than actually giving birth? :-)

Probably patience. Trying not to rush our son through his young life on adult time, but instead taking the time to follow his curiosity with him. Even though I've worked pretty hard at being more patient, it's still a huge challenge.

3. I noticed from your posts that you are living in NJ and that you're a lesbian. What was your reaction to the Governor of NJ coming out the way he did?

I'm so glad you asked that question, because it's a fun story. Jim McGreevey came out during a live public press conference on a Thursday afternoon, and I was driving home from school, listening on the radio. As he began his speech, he talked about having grown up feeling somehow different, and I felt an empathetic wave of empathy. "He's gay!" I thought to myself. Then I shook my head and laughed at myself. "For heaven's sake," I thought, "I've got a serious case of out-of-whack gaydar... just because someone struggled with identity issues doesn't mean they're my identity issues. " I kept listening. Again he said something that made me think, "Oh my gosh, he's totally going to come out!" Once more I shushed my inner self with a mocking rebuke. Finally, he actually DID come out, and as he uttered the now-famous words, "I am a gay American," I almost drove into a ditch, I was listening so intently. I was simultaneously sad, disappointed, and excited. Sad because it was clear that his political career, which had meant so much to him, was probably over. Disappointed because it seemed that he'd betrayed the trust of his family and the people who voted for him. And excited because he'd had the courage to stand up and speak this scary piece of his truth... I think that every time someone comes out (especially in this kind of high profile way) it helps to pave the way for the folks who are still living lives of dishonesty and fear.

4. You have a George Bush ticker on your site. Why do you want him gone so badly and in your opinion, who would be the best candidate to replace him?

I want George Bush gone because he lacks the qualities I look for (and now long for) in a leader. I want a leader who is smart, articulate, compassionate, generous, slow to fight, honest, and respectful. George Bush is none of those things. I haven't decided who I'll be supporting in the upcoming election; I don't want to dedicate a full year of my life to thinking about it.

5. Why did you initially start your blog and what makes you continue writing it?

I started a blog because I was in the process of looking for a job (I found one!), and blogging gave me a way to both keep track of my efforts and share them with my parents (without having to talk about it all the time). I keep blogging because I am grateful for the connections it has brought me, and because my family and friends have come to expect that they'll be able to check in on me over here.

6. What is your favorite site on the internet?

This month, I'll be partial to Thing-A-Day, a veritable supernova of creativity. I'm also a big fan of Patti Digh and Ze Frank. And of course Haiku World.

7. If you could vacation anywhere in the world expense-free, where would you go and why?

I'd go on a longish sailing voyage, but I'm not sure where. The Mediterranean, maybe? Sailing is one of my favorite modes of transportation, in many ways a destination in and of itself, so that's what comes to mind when I imagine a "dream" trip. But since my funds in real life are limited, I haven't done the research I'd need to do to plan the ideal route.

(Thanks, Black Belt Mama! That was fun.
The Great Interview Experiment is still going on,
so anyone thinking about playing along should go check that out.
And I do plan to participate in Thing-A-Day again this year,
and so will be posting every day this month.)