07 July 2016

#TBT Child In Shopping Cart

Throwback Thursday to ... back when she was a toddler, or a month ago when we were at Target?

When she was little, she always wanted to ride in the truck shopping carts at the supermarket.

Now, she can't even get inside.

29 June 2016

How TV Can Lead To Education

So we dropped the kid off at camp the other day. And every time I tell someone where she is and what she's doing, I find myself explaining that it all has to do with the Gilmore Girls.

Back in the fall, the girl and I embarked on some mother/daughter TV watching: we set out to watch the entirety of the Gilmore Girls - all 153 episodes. This is not a show that I had ever watched, but enough smart women that I like told me I'd like it, and that she would too. If you have no idea what it is, it's a TV series which ran from 2000 to 2007, about a girl (Rory) and her single mother (Lorelai) who is only 16 years older than she is. Frankly, it's kind of adorable. And Rory is a pretty good role model for a tween, because Rory is a good girl who loves books and is educationally aspirational: at the beginning, she is dead set on going to Harvard.

A couple of weeks into what turned into a seven month marathon of kicking Daddy off the couch so we could watch another episode (or two), the girl came downstairs and told me "Mama, I want to go to summer school at Wellesley. I searched it up and I found this program. I really want to go there; can I?" I don't know about you, but when my kid seems hungry for something that isn't a new pair of shoes or lousy fried rice from the local pan-Asian restaurant, I pay attention. We looked into it, and found that it seemed like a really interesting summer camp - more geeky/academic and less sportsy/crafty although there are plenty of sports and lots of crafts. It's just that they take courses like Girls on Film and So, You Want To Be A Doctor? every morning - and they live on a college campus, in the dorms (and have to do their own laundry). And I swear, the reason that my daughter decided she wanted to go to summer school at Wellesley was because Rory Gilmore wanted to go to Harvard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

She needed to be there on Sunday. While we could have driven up and back in one day, it occurred to me that it would be nice to break the driving into two days, and stay overnight in Boston. So we found a hotel room, checked in on Saturday afternoon, and played tourist. We went to see the USS Constitution, which was in dry-dock - a phenomenal structure built of granite in 1833 when Andrew Jackson was President. From there, we took a ferry across Boston Harbor to the aquarium, where we consorted with rays and tortoises and sharks. We migrated back to our hotel by way of Quincy Market, which was depressing as hell - so crowded and tawdry. Sunday morning, after a nice breakfast, we continued our touristing, and rode to the top of the Prudential Building so we could look at the Hancock Tower,

and the boats on the Charles,

and even Fenway Park.

It was a nice mini-vacation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Because this started with the Gilmore Girls, I'm going to leave you with this sweet tweet video, in which Rory drops in on Michelle Obama to give her a pile of books to read on her flight to Africa for Let Girls Learn:

Because girls everywhere need to get the education they deserve.

24 June 2016

21 = Hair

Today, our marriage has reached the age of majority: twenty-one. Or it would be, if we lived in Mississippi. As we are in New York, we reached adulthood three years ago.

But never mind that, because the real question is "what is the appropriate gift?"

The thing is, the charts generally go year by year until year 15 or 20 - and then they start skipping. So 21? Who knows?

McSweeney's to the rescue. According to their list of TRADITIONAL WEDDING ANNIVERSARY GIFTS FROM MEMORY, the gift for the 21st anniversary is ... hair.

I could buy a hair mattress. A hair shirt. I went down a crazy rabbit hole looking for things made out of hair; there are surprisingly many very very strange items out there.

But the single oddest and most intriguing find was a leaf. A textile artist works with human hair to recreate leaf skeletons, ineffably lovely objects.

Happy anniversary, honey! I didn't make you a leaf out of my hair, but know that I was thinking of you!

02 June 2016

#TBT Dining With Danny

My mother loved to rip things out of the newspaper. She'd sit at the kitchen table, with a cup of coffee and a paper cutter, and go to town. If she was really exercised, she'd get out a red pen and underline egregious turns of phrase and typos. Then, she'd leave them on my bedside table for me to read the next time I visited. Eventually, after all of her children had read them, they'd get tossed - unless they were really special, in which case they got filed.

Dining With Danny was special. Dining With Danny was so special that my sister inherited a handful of clips of Dining With Danny. Well, not inherited as in bequeathed in the will, but laid claim to when we were cleaning out the house. Last summer, Pinky was moving and instead of moving Dining With Danny to a new house, she mailed the clips to me.

Here's the thing about Danny. Danny had a restaurant review column in the local newspaper, but Danny couldn't write. Danny says things like "the milky base tasted valid" (about a clam chowder).

Or the dressings were "lopped on the center of the salad".

"Fruiti de Mare was a dainty presentation of chilled shrimp, crab, lobster enticed by grated onion." Of course, the onion was doing that enticing because Danny had just had some wine out of a very special, um, wine glass? It may be that Danny had never before seen a wine glass.

Then again, Danny pays attention to the glasses; a Margarita "could have been served in a more decorative glass". But at that august establishment, the host "stood up and 'attempted to' serenade us."

I'm not sure that Danny understands the difference between posh enclaves and "upscale", but the chicken cutlet was "a large hunk of flavor".

What does it mean when Danny says that soup is an "ongoing project"? It sounds a little too much like learning on the job!

Danny tries hard to find something nice to say. Even though the coffee was very bland, "the food and ambiance is not pretentious. This is a respectable, all-purpose eating place."

Except sometimes, there's really nothing to say.

On the one hand, I kind of feel for Danny. On the other hand? These gems are too good not to share, and that my mother so carefully cut them out and marked up her favorite bits makes me wistful and delighted all at the same time.

If you want to read the full reviews, I uploaded them all as a pdf. You're welcome.

30 May 2016

Remembering on Memorial Day

I think often of the street I grew up on. It was a lovely neighborhood with kids my age and older and younger, and interesting people up and down the street. As time went on, children grew up and moved away, adults got older and moved away, one house got knocked down and replaced with a ticky-tacky McMansion-y thing, one child moved back into the family home (after his parents went elsewhere) and one couple is still there. But I'm still in touch with so many of them, of all ages, many through the miracle of Facebook, others because we share Christmas cards and a certain history.

Before my husband and I got married, we scratched our heads about who was going to perform the ceremony. We're heathenpaganatheists and it didn't seem quite right to ask a cleric (though that is what we ultimately did). I had the whimsical idea that we could call in three of wise men from the neighborhood: the Methodist minister from across the street, the rabbi from next door, and the Joyce scholar from down the hill. It'd have been a gloriously high-minded cross-cultural mess with a certain je ne sais quoi about it:

The Methodist minister died in 2002; I was on my way home from his funeral when I learned that my second IVF had failed.

The Joyce scholar died in 2012; his widow is still living in their house, still throwing a holiday shindig, though recently she's made it a New Year's open house instead of a Boxing Day party.

And last winter, the rabbi died.

He was a mensch, tall and courtly, and a scholar. When I was a kid, he was just Gene Borowitz, neighbor. Later I learned that he had a big profile out in the world, a life of "working to advance race relations and civil rights" and helping to "shape Reform Jewish thinking and practice". I remember him today because it's the time of year when the azaleas and rhododendrons blaze away in hot pinks and soft lavenders and creamy whites; his yard was full of fancy azaleas and unusual rhododendrons.

My three wise men are now all gone, but azaleas will always remind me of Gene.

26 May 2016

#TBT Grandparents

My aunt came over for dinner recently, bringing with her a couple of photos of her with her three brothers (one of whom is my father), as well as a picture of her parents/my grandparents.

On the back, the photo is date-stamped 1970. She was born in 1903, he in 1900, so they are 67 and 70 in this photo. And to me, they look just like they always did, and they look old. She had long long white hair, white by the time I knew her, and always wore it piled on top of her head. When we cleaned out their house after she had died, I laid claim to a Victorian silver-plate hair receiver - a small vessel to sit on your dresser, next to your hair brush, to collect the hair you clean out of your brush. It still had a snarl of her white hair in it, which eventually disappeared, victim of a move or a cat.

1970 doesn't seem all that long ago...and yet, it was 46 years ago.

15 May 2016

Dipping One's Toe In The Internet

You know what? The internet is the best. The other day, my sister-in-law sent out a picture of a whale in San Francisco. I - for reasons one need not go into - figured that a poem was the appropriate response, so I googled "poems about whales" (or something like that). And I found this:

Whales Weep Not!

D. H. Lawrence, 1885 - 1930

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of
the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
on the depths of the seven seas,
and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
and in the tropics tremble they with love
and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
Then the great bull lies up against his bride
in the blue deep bed of the sea,
as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale-blood
the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and
comes to rest
in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale’s
fathomless body.

And over the bridge of the whale’s strong phallus, linking the
wonder of whales
the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and
keep passing, archangels of bliss
from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the
great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.

And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-
tender young
and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of
the beginning and the end.

And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring
when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood
and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat
encircling their huddled monsters of love.
And all this happens in the sea, in the salt
where God is also love, but without words:
and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
most happy, happy she!

and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males
and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.

Honestly, did you have any idea that DH Lawrence wrote an erotic poem about whales?