Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pretty Shells for My Snail Mail

I didn't make the business cards I was hoping to carry to BlogHer, but I did walk away from a Letterpress party at the Evanston Print and Paper Shop with some so very lovely stationery. And I made it! I am not the crafty type, nor a design whiz, but Eileen Madden gently guided us through the process of two-color letterpress printing on a Vandercook proofing press. "Smart Frocks" is the name of the font used for my name. Isn't that sweet?

"It's so Zen!" we kept repeating as we hand-cranked our papers on a cylinder over the inked, raised letters. Zen as in requiring a full concentration but also full of pleasure and satisfaction as each paper emerged, infinitesimally different than the one before, but each in its own way, perfect.

New Posts on Chicago Moms Blog

Memorial Day weekend with sweet and indulgent Grandpa Bob and my not-so epic battle against an army of home invaders.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Just Cuz

The Jayhawks, "Blue." Beautiful, beautiful.

Question of the Day

"Don't we all walk forward, gazing backward over our shoulders at the future coming at us from the past like a hit-and-run driver?

from "My Brother's Mirror," Donald Platt

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring Pleasures

1. Nora attempting a handstand. She carefully positions her body, arms overhead, one foot out, then flops to the ground.

2. Mia shows a trick she learned from Madagascar 2. Make a sad expression, then move your hand slowly past your face to reveal a happy grin. Repeat in reverse order. Do it faster.

3. Lilacs.

4. Kris "Under the Radar" Allen takes the second place spot with Adam Glambert on the American Idol finale! I've never been a fan of Allen, but I've got new respect after his Wow! acoustic version of Kanye's "Heartless." Add that confident and cool surprise to his versions of "Falling Softly" and "The Way You Look Tonight," and he has earned the votes. Not the win, mind you, but he and Adam should make a great show. But my favorite show that week won't be their faceoff, even with the zingy suspense Allen's underdog status adds - the real fun is the results show. All your voted-off favorites come back and they're rested and well-rehearsed, with songs that suit them perfectly. An hour (two this year?) of awesome filler before Seacrest reads the name.

5. Let's say, hypothetically, that you were a huge musical theater fan and that you placed the winning bid for going out for a show and drinks with the Tribune theater critic whose reviews you faithfully read and whose opinion you trust. Which of these upcoming plays would you choose?

-"The Piano Lesson" at Court Theater
-"La Cage Aux Folles" at the Bohemian
-"Arabian Nights" at the Lookingglass, directed by Mary Zimmerman (of course you would jump at this choice, but you are hosting a brunch the next morning and anticipate a lot of pre-event cooking and freaking)
-Rebecca Gilman's "The Crowd You're In" at the Goodman
-"The Minister's Wife," a new musical at the Writer's Theater
-Topol in "Fiddler
-"A Tribute to the Black Crooners" at Black Ensemble Theater (think Nat King Cole)
-"Up" at Steppenwolf
-"Blackbird" with William Peterson at Victory Gardens
-"The Light in the Piazza" in the round, directed by Joe Leonardo at the Marriot
Is your mouth watering? What riches.

6. And this.

7. Ice Cream Truck! I wish I could describe the lightness in the way Mia jumped in the air, waving her arms and screaming with joy as the truck came near. She wasn't wearing any shoes but the grass is so soft in the neighbor's yard where she leapt, as close to the end of our block as I would allow. "Wave him down, but don't go in the street," I had warned and she complies, all her energy and excitement bound by this border, a curb that extends around the block and holds her close to me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Brilliancyness From Stephen Colbert

What he said. And let me tell you, when you get the thank you notes and photos from the kids in the classroom you helped, you are gonna be crying.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Treasure Hunt

I start at the front door, armed with Mia's map. The dotted path leads to picture of a horse - I know what that is. Big ol' robot Butterscotch, who whinnies companionably as we enter the playroom. Sitting on her plaid saddle blanket is a tiny rubber ducky - my first clue!

"The bathroom!" I call and the girls cheer. Up the stairs we go. "Don't look in there!" the girls instruct, an echo of the "Don't look under my bed!" instructions they've been doling out all week. On the bathroom counter is a plastic loaf of bread. "The kitchen!"

We tromp back down to find the cutest clue of all, a foam letter "Z." Do you get it? Where do you make zzz? To the bedroom! Where I find sweet cards, a Nora decorated picture frame, a Mia handprint with poem - suitable for hanging, a locket for tiny pics of my munchkins and L'Occitane lotion and bubble bath. Lovely. Hugs all around.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can You Identify This Flower?

The creamy white blossom on the right. When Randy sent these anniversary flowers on May 1, the flower was a tighter cluster, like a large frilled tulip or a yellow peony. Now it has opened to reveal a center of brilliant gold pistils and four velvety pods in the center. Gorgeous and strange.

New Toys

Unicorn Versus Narwhal! Comes with horn alternates!

Commie Unicorn Vs. Freedom Unicorn!

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Down So Low"

Tracy Nelson shakes the earth. Greil Marcus said Tracy Nelson goes to places in this song that Janis Joplin only dreamed of. Hard to believe this song only came into my life today. Feels as elemental as water. Feels like coming home.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

All the Posts I'm Not Writing

Craig Arnold, a poet and professor from the University of Wyoming, is missing in Japan. Here is his webpage chronicling his first days in the country and his plans to visit a small volcanic island. There's a Facebook page supporting the rescue efforts.

My back is jacked again. Last night Randy was home at a decent hour for once this week and since May 1 is a special anniversary for us, it felt so sweet to talk and laugh over 30 Rock together that it got way too late too quick. The girls wanted donuts at 7:00 this morning. It's a beautiful morning but getting up and taking the girls to Dominicks took a huge effort of will. Mia found one of those grocery carts shaped out like a firetruck but when both the girls were inside and I tried to push the creaking wreck, my back said, "that was a mistake" and I had to get the girls out and ask Shaggy the Bagboy to haul the tank out of the entranceway.

The great Kim Moldofsky and I are hosting a brunch for the Chicago Moms Blog contributors at the end of May. Just got news my in-laws will be visiting the week before. I'll have one day in between to recover and rally. Raise your hand if you understand this.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's film Holy Mountain is showing tonight at Facets as part of their Midnight Movie lecture series. The trailer has some really great visuals that work so hard at blowing your mind, you nearly have to laugh. I did laugh, then recognized a cash-burning scene that I didn't initially know was an homage in the MGMT video, "Time To Pretend" the song that I obsessed over all last summer. The Jodorowsky trailer sent me back to Youtube to watch "Time to Pretend" again and once again get swept away with suffocating waves of ineffable longing and nostalgia that seems the leavings of a larger grief.

Spring can really hang you up the most. Another Saturday morning in Wilmette, the neighbor playing bongos and Mommy sobbing over the girl she was.

The two haunting and strange films Natasha Redgrave made in 1987 and 1988, The Kindness of Strangers and The Handmaid's Tale. The awful sadness on Vanessa Redgrave's face as she departed the hospital where her daughter lay dying. The raw but entirely artful grief she had showed us in Camelot ("So often in the past, Arthur, I would look in your eyes and I would find there forgiveness. Perhaps one day in the future it shall be there again. But now I won't be with you. I won't see it.") And Julia. And If These Walls Could Talk. The wish that life could have treated her more kindly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

You Think You're So Cute

You're such a flirt, Illinois. After weeks of surly, you get all girly. You put on your magnolia party dress and you think we'll forget about you not calling all March. Well, I've got one word for you. Narcissus.

I know you. You do this every spring. You give us months of cold indifference, weeks of harsh, then you go all soft and sweet and think we'll fall for you all over again. You think we'll ooo and ahh at your brilliant tulips and breathe in the smell of your hyacinths and fall in love with you all over again. And you know what? You're right.