Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's the best cookie I ever read....

I'm stuck at home with something like the flu, so I've spent too much time on Craftster, just a-lookin' around. I have to pass this cool, cool project on: "Greats of Russian Literature Rendered in Gingerbread." My favorite comment on this project is this: "I fully approve of history-related baking." ME TOO!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Using the Museum

Yesterday the kids and I went to the Field Museum, Chicago's gigantic natural history and conservation resource. We'd had a *long* long weekend, in part because Astrid had half-days at school on both Thursday and Friday, so I was frayed and a bit daunted by the prospect of schlepping out to the Field. But we did it--drove to the parking garage by the CTA, got on the train and waited in the cold wind for a bus--and we were all glad we did.

Elliot had been to the Field most recently and was eager to take us through the Aztec and Evolving Worlds exhibits. I love seeing just how much he retains about topics that excite him, and how clearly he explains difficult concepts to Astrid--who, in turn, is hungry to catch up with her brother in all things scientific.

About midway through our visit, Astrid decided that she was ready to do some drawing--which was Elliot's and my cue to step away from her (without taking our eyes off her). She made some lovely quick ink sketches of animals in the very old taxidermy exhibits. (It took her a while to really understand the status of the specimens she was studying--they looked very alive to her, though they weren't moving, and she was understandably disturbed when she put two and two together--these animals had been killed by or for scientists long before she was even born. When we discussed older ideas about how people might study the creatures around them, she seemed to forgive them...an interesting moment to share with her.)

I hope we can get back to the Field soon (I got a membership to increase the chances that we will). I learned from my mother, who earned her BFA at the Museum School in Boston, that museums are places for people to study and work--not places for people to stand in awe of discoveries made by other folks. I'm happy to pass this idea on to our next generation of scientists and artists.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The tablecloth campaign--first encounter

The nice Martha Stewart cotton tablecloths I bought several years ago are finally so oily and disreputable that they make me think of the greatcoat worn by Turkey, the choleric scrivener in Melville's story about Bartleby. The last straw--and I confess that I did little to prevent the cloth's demise--was that Astrid and I made our gloriously glitter-gluey Valentines on it last week, so now the tablecloth is oily, glittery, and stiff.

Today, having gotten frustrated with the writing I was supposed to do, I switched gears by making a new tablecloth. I used a big chunk of the extra-wide light-blue linen blend that I've been eager to get out of my stash, and rather than hemming it, I used narrow, double-fold bias tape in forest green. It's nothing special--but I like having several cotton tablecloths ready for use at any given time, so style ain't all that important. I'll probably make a couple others, perhaps one out of an ill-conceived quilt top (backed by an old bedsheet, to improve the drape of the cloth, and maybe one from some unbleached muslin. Given what slobs we are in my family, they won't be stainfree for long, so I don't want to put a lot of work in them. (For example, I'm tempted to stamp them with fabric paint, but I'd probably rather use the time I'd spend embellishing one tablecloth by making a couple more.)

I haven't seen a lot of tablecloths I want to buy lately, and the ones I like are usually at least $25, so I think homemade ones are probably a decent deal.

Lay down the drawbridge!

I never get picture order right when I upload photos, so the chronology is out of wack here....but the bottom picture shows Astrid's tooth in the hours before it fell out, and the top one shows her minutes after the tooth fell. Two interesting facts: her grown-up tooth had been sitting there, all ready to go, for at least a month, before the obstinate little baby tooth finally decided to go.

The other interesting fact, which says much more about Astrid's odd imagination than about anything else, is that she started referring to the baby tooth as "her drawbridge" in the last week or so. She liked pushing it down so that it touched her bottom lip, and then she'd imagine all the tiny horses and knights that could get into her "castle"--*if* she let them.

The last thing I should point out is that the mess on her face is chocolate, not blood. I just couldn't wait to get her post fall-out picture taken. It was just an excellent moment for the whole family.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Puddles and tears

We're having one of those unseasonably warm winter days--which we totally deserve--and the dirty, gray snow is finally melting. Astrid enjoyed splashing in the huge puddles on our sidewalk. This was certainly the high point of a day that has been full of Astrid's emotional ups and downs....actually, brief ups followed by deep, long downs. A trying day.

On days like this, I like to think of one of my favorite King Pleasure songs, "Tomorrow's Another Day." To be honest, it's been such a tough day that I can't even remember the words to the song, and the Internet's not helping! I'm sure I'll remember the words tomorrow....

Sigh. I can't even get our puddle pictures to load. Maybe tomorrow?