Saturday, January 31, 2009

Connect the Dots

1. I feel compelled to MAKE things, these days. Knitting is what I have space and time for, so that is what I am doing every spare moment I have.

2. I feel compelled to BURROW IN and stay home and do my own bizarre form of nesting.

3. I PLAN dinners that are really too much effort for the time and energy I have for them.

4. I look around the house and DESPAIR of ever getting this place into presentable shape.

5. We are probably MOVING this summer. But we don't know for sure yet.

January fashions

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Over waffles this morning

Cora, who has been staring at my face says, "Mama, what's that?" and reaches out to poke the side of my face with a sticky finger.

"That's a mole."

"What's a mole?"

"It's a kind of spot you get sometimes when you get older."

"Hooray! I love spots!" She's bouncing up and down in her chair, clapping.

Well, isn't that easy to say when you're still under three and don't even freckle?

Friday, January 23, 2009


I made this capelet mostly during the post-blizzard drive home in December. I like it, but I wish I'd made it about three inches longer.

The beginning of a new dishcloth, the Ballband Dishcloth pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting - since finished, love it. Of course, before using it I had to figure out where Cora had put it.

The dishcloth thief herself in a new-to-her dress that she wore three days in a row after receiving.

The infamous fishing-in-the-couch episode. What is she wearing on her head? A cowl I made her, and then bound off too tightly for it to go over her head. So now it is a weird hat. I should recast on the top and close it up for a real hat. I know.

Cora in all her sartorial splendor (hat? check. bib? check. doggy backpack? check. scary tomato-smeared face? double check!), having a post-spaghetti chat with a gnome.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sick again! No fair!

After finally beating the mammoth illness of post-Thanksgiving through days before Christmas, I thought I was free and clear. Surely teaching without a voice for a week brought me some good health karma? (Incidentally, several students mentioned that the two things they would remember most from my class was when I got sick and lost my voice, and when my daughter was sick and came to class with me. Uh huh. Totally what I was hoping for.) But, alas, no. Here I am sick again, completely exhausted by standing up for 45 minutes while Cora ran circles around me lost in a free-association miasma of Wonder Pets, fairy tales, and ballet. Or, I was lost, she knew exactly what she was talking about.

I'm not as good at being sick as I used to be. I can't really read much. I'm not up for knitting. Don't even think about writing. I watched the Golden Globes last night, mesmerized by sparkly dresses and edgy hair-dos, but I really can't tell you much about the winners.

But, just before I got sick, I'd started reading Sara Paretsky's book Writing in an Age of Silence. It's been a while since I read one of her mysteries, but on one of my nomadic searches for inspiration at the library, this book caught my eye. It is part memoir, part historic look at Chicago in the 60s and now, and part meditation on writing. Early on, in the introduction, she says:

"[This] book deals with the dominant question of my own life, the effort to find a voice, the effort to help others on the margins find a voice, the effort to understand and come to terms with questions of power and powerlessness."

This sentence just snapped her other books into an entirely new light for me and made me eager to go back and reread some of them. It also led me to ponder (something I have time for when I am sick, but not much ability to hold onto a chain of thought) what I would say is the dominant question of *my* own life, and how is it (if it is) reflected in my writing. I haven't a lot of insights on this right now, but I am finding it interesting to think about. Once I have a better idea, I'll come back to this topic.

I know - it has been awhile for pictures. I will download and post some soon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just for looking, baby

Cora is fishing in the couch with a plastic coat hanger, which involves wedging the coat hanger between the cushions and then pulling it out again.

Cora: Look what I caught, baby!
Me: What is it?
Cora: An octopus!
Me: Oh! Can we eat him?
Cora: No, baby! Sea creatures are not for eating!
Me: They're not?
Cora: No. Just for looking, baby.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More stuffing

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, by William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
I've actually stopped teaching this poem, because I can't stand to read another paper about how this is *just like* grandpa's cabin up north. I mean, on the one hand I do appreciate that students love this poem and that they feel such a strong connection to it and it brings them pleasant associations. But, for me, one of the most poignant parts of this poem is that this place does not yet exist for the speaker. It is a place he plans and goes to in his imagination, in his "deep heart's core" while surrounded by grey pavement.

The description of his little cottage is so idyllic, so evocative, so detailed and divine (that "bee-loud glade" and those "veils of morning" - everything sounds shimmering and opalescent), that it seems it must exist. But, it is all what he will and shall do, one day, when he can escape the grey. Like many of us city-dwellers who do yearn for a simple life (or what we believe would be a simple life), growing something tasty, living among natural beauty, the low sounds of waves our new soundtrack.

You can hear Yeats read it - in a high and incantatory way - over at It isn't the way I read it, or hear it in my head, but it's his way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stuffing my head with poems

Well, I suppose the universe isn't going to just dump beauty on me without me making room for it in this head that is so crowded right now with troubles and worries and sadness from a variety of sources from the personal to the global. So, I'm trying to make a little room, move things around, clear a little space. I thought I would start with a poem that not only will start this process for me, but reminds me why I need it.

Robert Hayden wrote this poem not so long ago (1966), but I imagine that as true as it is for me, it would be for people of any time and place.

Monet's Waterlilies

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy.

I have loved this poem for years - it was the poem that led me to discover the rest of Hayden's amazing poetry and its lines ran through my head repeatedly in the months following 9/11, and whenever I turn to the arts for solace and sustenance.

I love the way Hayden describes Monet's painting and how he tried to capture light, preserve a light that "was not, was, forever is" - though when I read this poem I usually think of the haystack series, Monet moving down a line of canvases as the light changed. How "the eye like the eye of faith" believes it is seeing waterlilies from a distance, that up close dissolve. And the description of that dissolution as being like seeing through tears, the way you do look at a world you have lost, even as you can still see "the shadow of its joy" - meaning perhaps that the world is not entirely lost, is within reach, if removed for a time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A quote for the new year

"The universe is vast, beautiful, and appalling." Aldous Huxley

I am sending out a request to the universe to please send more of that middle part my way. Preferably by the end of the week.

Friday, January 2, 2009

All Cheese New Year

For New Year's Day dinner, after Cora went to bed, totally exhausted after being awake all day after staying up all night, Chris and I enjoyed a fondue dinner. The closest I may ever get to an actual all cheese dinner.

I have mixed feelings about both 2008 and 2009. 2008 had a lot of good moments, but in many ways it kind of feels like the year that never quite got off the ground for me - so much that didn't get done, so much that didn't go right. I feel like the last three months especially were just sort of this grimy gray wash of time, interspersed with some great meals, fun outings, and lovely moments of friendship, beauty, and love. But I'd like the ratio to be reversed, for the grime to be less.

And 2009, well, what I can say about the prospects for this year? It is likely we will be moving away from the city and (more importantly) the friends we love. It's the official Year of Potty-Training. Ugh. That's about as much as I care to talk about the 2009 horizon right now, because I pretty quickly get a sinking feeling when I look at the horizon.

Thank goodness, then, that I have a nearly-three year old in the house, for whom that horizon simply does not exist. For whom the new year is simply an excuse to dance.

So, come on in, 2009. Who knows what really lurks within your days?

Christmas, random photos from

One day, when I begin a photo essay blog post, I will remember that Blogger puts the photos up in reverse order, and you can only upload so many at a time, and you will see a chronological array of photos and you will keel over from the shock of it and want me to foot the ambulance bill. Until that time...above, Cora decorates Christmas cupcakes.

I wanted to capture the look on Cora's face when she first saw the tree with presents under it, but as soon as I held up the camera she said "Cheese!" I have created a monster.

Yeah, she likes the sweater, but didn't want to wear it over pajamas.

The tutu dress, of course is an entirely different story.

Playing with the new dolls...

Someone really likes her pajamas.

And her first dollhouse. She immediately knelt down in front of it, clapped her hands and said, "My dollhouse! It's my dollhouse!"