of bonsai and roller derby

August 20, 2013

082013gingko

0813RollerDerby-1

0813RollerDerby-12

0813RollerDerby-5

0813RollerDerby-4

082013whiteskaates

photos:
1) my neglected bonsai gingko
2) roller derby sign of support
3) vicious and jax check out the competition
4) shutting out the jammer, kamikaze
5) low fives all around, rochella de ville
6) my, formerly pristine, roller skates from middle school. (yes i had my own. be jealous.)

When I told my mother that my daughter and I had attended a roller derby event last Saturday she was bemused. “Tell me again why you were interested in seeing roller derby?”

This is a woman who had called me to encourage me to enter the bonsai gingko tree that she gave me several years ago in a bonsai show taking place in Ann Arbor this weekend. I laughed, but could have easily replied, “Tell me again why you are interested in bonsai, Mom?”

I’m kidding. I do appreciate bonsai and I admire her interest in it. I love the little gingko tree she gave me, thriving despite my neglect. But the practice of bonsai is not my thing; it’s hers.

All of the reasons I don’t share her interest in bonsai are probably the reasons I enjoyed watching roller derby for the first time— bonsai requires patience, roller derby doesn’t; bonsai is elegant, roller derby is scrappy; bonsai is individual, roller derby is team-based, bonsai is serious, roller derby is full of good humor.

I’m not sure roller derby is “my thing.” I’m not much of a spectator of anything. I did find it fascinating. The names/personas are my favorite part: Vicious, Upzette, Justice Fast, Missy May Knock You Out, Czarcasm, Kimikaze. The faux tough names are as much a part of the show as the ripped tights and tattoos. I have never seen a burlesque show (which, by the way, like roller derby, seems to be moving toward mainstream around here), but I imagine roller derby and burlesque share much of the same campy showmanship.

The big surprise of the night: my 19-year-old daughter loved it and wants to learn to play. She does have skills. She had to learn to roller skate for a play a few years ago, using my nearly pristine white roller skates from middle school. She decided her derby name would be: Princess Slay-ya (a name used in Drew Barrymore’s roller derby movie, Whip it!, filmed right here in Ann Arbor and Detroit).

Why not yoga? Running? Soccer? All of the things I am interested in? I know the answer is…bonsai.

080413billjackpool

080413cathzings

080413tobycake

photos:
1) my brother and his son
2) my dear friend cath
3) my son who does not like me to post photos of him, ever, and who agreed to let me post this because he said i guilt tripped him…i don’t think i did

I looked forward to July with happy anticipation, and enjoyed it so much while it was here…here so briefly…and now it is gone. I feel the same way about my trip to see my brother’s family in Virginia, my son’s 16th birthday, and my visit with my dear friend Cath.

All lovely, and brief and gone.

It sometimes scares me how quickly time passes. It is worse as I age.

Sitting here alone at my dining room table, I am feeling a little down. Two more years with my son. Just two. It makes my heart hurt.

Thank goodness for comic relief from my melancholy thoughts…my neighbor just passed by dragging down the sidewalk her ugliest, creepiest dog ever. It’s such a sorry sight. It always makes me laugh…and SHIVER. Someday I will take a photo of it on the sly and will post it here for you to judge for yourself.

Goodbye sweet July.

080313tomatoes

080313screensaver

080313finnyshoes

080313jensrecipe

080313cookies

08.03.13 whats making me happy this week

080313battlecreeklibrary

080313.policeboxcake

photos:
1. first tomatoes
2. photo my daughter used for a screen saver…on my unsuspecting husband’s laptop.
3. finnegan cuddling up with our smelly shoes
4. my sister’s handwritten (love) recipe and the last of her bean and rice salad
5. cornflake marshmallow cookies
6. hibiscus
7. mid century library staircase
8. dr. who phonebox cake

What a week! Home from a trip to visit my brother’s family in Virginia, my son’s 16th birthday and too short visit from my dear friend Cathy. In addition to all of that BIG happiness, here are some little things that are making me happy thing week:

1. Our first tomatoes from our garden make me happy!

2. My daughter, who makes me laugh a lot, makes me happy. (Also we fight a lot.) You can see (above) the kind of desktop photos she puts on any unattended laptops when she has the chance. She was recently sitting across from me as we both “worked” on our laptops. She laughed aloud and said ‘This meme reminds me of you.‘I tried to login to my iPad, turns out it was an etch a sketch and I don’t even own an iPad, also, I’m out of wine.’”
Do you think I’m a good role model?

3. My puppy. He likes to sleep among shoes. I think because they smell like us. Lucky for him, my family provides ample opportunity for him to sleep among smelly shoes!

4. Summer salads. I love them for their use of produce, freshness and mix of flavors. Three of our staples include my sister’s bean and rice salad pictured above, Giada De Laurentiis’ Mediterranean Farro Salad and this panzenlla salad.

I also tried this tomato and watermelon salad from shutterbean.com and it was like eating a big bowl of summer!

5. Speaking of shutterban recipes…tracy’s Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies are pretty amazing. In fact they are too amazing. It will be awhile before I can make these again because they are so darn good, both baked and raw! I made one batch one night and then immediately had to make another the next day and then I had to make myself stop. So, so yummy.

6.The hibiscus are finally blooming in this part of the world.

7. Libraries make me happy, particularly this mid-century modern one pictured above, where I spend my time when my son volunteers at a zoo about an hour away from our house.

8. Comedian Jim Gaffigan. We just saw him at Meadowbrook Theater, near my mother’s house. He has two stand up specials on Nextflix and just published a book called, “Dad is Fat.”

9. The Dr. Who phone box cake above that my daughter made for her friend who loves Dr. Who.

When my daughter delivered it, her friend’s 11 year old brother, who loves my daughter, asked her, “Wanna look at baby animal pictures with me?” Yep. That’s how we grow our men in Ann Arbor. Love.

10. And speaking of growing men. I am excited by this new project by Jennifer Siebel The Mask You Live In, about the very restrictive and destructive models of manhood that our society presents to our sons. If you haven’t seen Jen Siebel’s Miss Representation, about girls in the media, please see it. It’s not just for women, or parents of daughters. We showed this on our campus last year to a large crowd of male and female students and there was clapping and cheering at the end by all genders. See it. Please. It has a hopeful ending!

11. These capri yoga/active wear pants my sister sent to me. At first I thought they were Lulu Lemon, because my sis is all about Lulu Lemon and because they were so quality…but no, they are from Old Navy! = affordable! I love them. She says they are her favs.

12. Something about the song Royales by Lordes makes me happy…it’s a great workout jam. Turn it up…even louder. I know I will be sick of it in a month…

13. Also this song, We Are Flowers sung by Eef Barzelay from the band Clem Snide).

14. It makes me happy when a story stops me in my tracks, transports me, and then haunts me for days after, as happened when I heard Ron Rush read his short story, “Something Rich and Strange,” from his collection of short stories Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Happy week to you! Watch Jim Gaffigan on Netflix, he will make you laugh!

discordant and antsy

July 21, 2013

071913kayakshoes

071913lookingin

071913breakfastporch

071913doggydoorstop

071913sonspy

071913temp

072013

photos:
1) size 11 watershoes left on the patio
2) the cottage, looking in from the front porch
3) the cottage, inside looking out onto the porch where the men are playing a game over breakfast
4) the cottage, doggy doorstop
5) a stealth photo of my son cuddling finny as we watch television in the basement
6) too many days of this weather
7) finnegan finally gets a properly-sized pool

This summer has felt…discordant…just off in some ways. Parenting teenagers has been tricky. Schedules are feeling like tectonic plates grinding against each other. My expectations for everything I will get done in the summer are always too high and unrealistic. In fact, it feels like I am able to get less done during the summer because schedules and needs are unpredictable. And I am antsy for a new direction, one that involves creativity.

Today I am home alone. My husband and daughter are up north at my husband’s family cottage. My son is working all day. So I will try to make progress on a long list of tasks.

Hope your summer is feeling more settled than mine and that you are not, like me, feeling a little panicky about August lurking around the corner…

071113bodenspringsweater

071113autumndress

I credit the British ready-to-wear brand Boden, with luring me out of the dark. Truly. I spent most of my adult life wearing mostly black, every day.

My sister was in the same rut. She realized it was a problem when she and her 2 year old daughter were lounging in their pajamas one morning until my sister finally said, “Time to get dressed!” and her daughter replied, “Yes, time to put on your black clothes, Mommy!”

Haha. Yes, my niece is brilliant. She doesn’t miss a thing.

Somehow I stumbled across Boden a few years ago and I’m hooked. Color, pattern, style, quality and detail. Sometimes items don’t work, no matter how badly I want them to, but return shipping is completely free, and there is great feedback from buyers to help you decide on a purchase and a fit before purchasing (something that, annoyingly, J. Crew does not provide on its web site).

I receive compliments on most every item of Boden clothing I wear. I am not exaggerating. I was once getting out of my car and a woman walking her dog yelled across the street to me, “I love your skirt!” Even something as simple as an emerald green cardigan gets compliments.

I always thank those giving the compliments and tell them about Boden. Few have heard of it. This is a fairly small town, but not THAT small…David Byrne was just in town performing for heaven’s sake. But it is not the most fashion conscious town, which I actually like. It gives a girl a lot of flexibility.

I shop for Boden online because I hate shopping in person, but I know Nordstrom’s carries Boden. I don’t know about any other US stores.

They also have the great kids clothes under the brand of mini boden.

Boden is pricey for my income…I’m putting a child through college and another one is soon to follow. But I do try to get a few items each season, which I wear over and over again. If you join their email list, you can get promotional pricing. I just bought two tops at 25% plus free shipping.

This is one of the tops. I love the color and pattern and neckline, but the fit was odd. And I’m not crazy about the fabric. Stiff, thin cotton. I’m returning it (for free) and trying it in a smaller size to see if it remedies the fit issue. I wish it was a knit fabric, but I just love the color so I’m willing to try again.

This top I am keeping. I love it for it’s cut and comfort and funky colors. I may get another in a different color.

I am now lusting over the Boden autumn collection and thinking perhaps college for my children is unnecessary…KIDDING!…mostly.

(Boden is NOT compensating me in any way for my praise—though I so wish they would…in clothing!)

Do you have brand that you love for style, quality, uniqueness? Please enlighten this small town girl!

summer

July 10, 2013

070813kitty

070813troopers

070813teapartydude

070813notpeoplesummer

070813rollergirls

070813superheroes

070813julien

photos
1) walking to the parade we passed this kitty on 5th street. she is often there, ruling the street.
2 – 6) parade photos. i love the mom carrying her child, and her homemade sign of protest against corporations and i love the dads carrying the sweetest homemade sign, on a sheet.
i love homemade, and people who care, and people who get involved…even the beer-bellied tea party guy wearing cammo. my political antithesis. but he’s there. he’s involved. gotta have at least the tiniest amount of respect for that.
7) my new friend julien, the lost and found and returned dog

It has been many weeks since I have last blogged. I run summer programs through my job and during those weeks I often work 13 hour days, say hello to my family, go to bed and start again.

The more intense programs have finally ended and my summer has finally begun. Hooray!

I did not get enough evenings at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which takes place for 3 weeks every summer, beginning the night schools gets out. The Summer Festival includes hours and hours of outdoor live music and entertainment followed by either a DJ with people dancing in the street until midnight, or a movie on an inflatable screen. There are food stalls and beer and wine. Everyone is there.

I did manage to meet friends there a couple of times for drinks after work and my husband and I went to one of the ticked shows at the Power Center—Snap Judgement. Which is an amazing storytelling show on National Public Radio. (I make dinner while listening to the podcast.) The live performance was fantastic. Afterward we mulled around the Summer Festival and saw this attraction from Spain:

It was SO COOL. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have stood in line to “fly” on our beautiful Burton bell tower.

We also attended the Ann Arbor July 4th parade. If you ever want to learn about a community’s values, attend their 4th of July parade. In Ann Arbor, this is not a fancy parade. In our town this is a very homey event—there is a place for everyone. This year was particularly entertaining.

There were the usual group: politicians, nursery schools, parents of multiples (a group for parents with twins, triplets etc. they are in the parade every year), the Ring of Steel stunt group (9 adults enacting scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Every. Year.)

But this year there were roller derby girls, star wars characters, the ukulele club, a group of pugs (it was so hot I felt sorry for them), the 5 guys from the Tea Party, followed by a giant group supporting the ACLU…There’s a place for everyone here!

My daughter and our neighbor worked at the Summer Festival on the 4th, and I picked them up to drive them home just after midnight. When I pulled into our neighbor’s driveway, we saw a dog running down the street. He heard our voices and ran to us and jumped in the back of my car and laid down, tail thumping on the seat in appreciation. Poor guy. He must have been frightened by all of the fireworks and ran away from home.

That turned out to be a longer rescue mission than I had anticipated, as the owner was out of town with a dead cell phone (the phone number on the tag). Her 19 year old son was “taking care” of the dog. The dog spent the night in my bedroom. He was very nervous and so was I. He seemed like a sweet dog, but who knows…Finally made a hand off to the owner’s older son at 11am the next morning.

And now for some time at the lake and for the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the Townie party that proceeds it. A visit to my brother and his family in Virginia and a family trip in August– destination yet unknown! (and work, and housekeeping and yard work…)

I hope your summer has been full of good weather, friends and relaxation. If it hasn’t been, then hugs to you. Truly.

061413mangos

eamescirclessmall1_print_2

4.0.1

What making me happy this week 06.14.13

061413chococake

photos:
1. mangos
2. blik eames decal
3. charles and ray eames © 2011 eames office, llc
charles and ray Eames “pinned” by chair bases, 1947, as seen in american masters charles & ray eames: the architect and the painter.
4. converse sneaker made with lucienne day textiles
5. nigella lawson’s old fashioned chocolate cake

My son finished his exams Thursday and christened the beginning of summer by having friends over for a fire in the backyard to burn homework, and to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. (Though earlier in the day he said, “I miss school already.”)

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival started last night. Three weeks of free outdoor concerts, food stalls, late night outdoor movies and many other amusements. I noticed they added some free outdoor yoga classes starting at 5pm on the lawn adjacent to my office. Maybe…

There are also free noontime concerts on Thursdays a few blocks away from my office, Sonic Lunches, sponsored by a local radio station. UM graduate Darren Criss was the star of the most recent one. I wanted to go, but didn’t want to wait hours to get in the door of the Michigan Theater. Most concerts are outdoors and not so well attended. But Darren Criss is now a superstar, having conquered Broadway and now starring in Glee. He also wrote and starred in “A Very Potter Musical” which he created while a student here. Such a talented guy. He has quite a fan base here in AA.

In addition to a free-for-summer child who loves school, the start of summer and the anticipation of the AA Summer Festival, also making me happy this week include:

1. Mangos. I didn’t like mangos for a long time due to my experience with some with stringy texture years ago. My brother had me try one a few months ago and it was amazing. Love them. But still need to learn how to properly cut one…as it is now, my hand turns into a sticky, slimy mess and much of the fruit is left on the stone.

2. I have some Blik decals on my office walls, but I may have to replace them with these decals based on Ray Eames textiles. I’ve been thinking about the Eames lately as they are featured in a current exhibit on modern design at the Cranbrook Institute where they met. I plan to attend at the end of the month.

3. Converse sneakers made with Lucienne Day textiles make me happy. But it makes me unhappy that I discovered these years after they were produced.

4. Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake that may daughter I made this week. I was in the mood for cake. She was in the mood for chocolate. It was better the next day after having been refrigerated.

5. Have you seen these Openculture videos on the Bauhaus, Modernism and American Design?

6. Six Words You Should Say Today, from the Hands Free Momma blog. I love simple suggestions for better parenting. As my sister said, filing this one away with the other important scripts! (One of the best scripts was given to me by my friend, Suzanne, who told me to practice saying over and over again, “I’m sorry, but that would be just impossible.” The period at the end was the most important part.)

7. Libby Callaway’s home featured in the Selby. I probably couldn’t live here, too much going on. But I love looking at it. I love that she’s taken a pretty modest house and really turned it into a spectacular and unexpected space. So much to love here, the chevron rug, the closet, the clothes…though, I’m no fan of antlers, bones or dental casts…

8. Convos with My 2 year Old: Episode 3
Not as good as the first one, but it did make me laugh

Happy weekend to you!