Thursday, April 30, 2009

Open Letter to a Flower Thief

To the woman who plucked my tulips as she and a friend walked by my house,

I am sure that you are now telling your friend how wildly I overreacted when I came out to yell at you for picking my tulips. I am sure you have turned this whole thing into something about how crazy I am, how some people just can't chill out.

But you stole from me. You leaned over in my garden and plucked two tulips. Your apology? "Sorry. I wanted to put it in my hair. I love flowers."  You love flowers? Hey, so do I, that's why I PLANTED THEM.

Yes, I yelled and yes I didn't, as you suggested I should, "chill out" once you'd (pathetically) explained yourself. But I'm hugely pregnant, and at this point any annoyance causes me to lose it a bit.  And in any case, you stole from me.

I am so annoyed. I can't even express rationally why you taking two measly flowers from my garden pisses me off so much. Except that I have had flowers stolen before, and I am a little sensitive about it now. I planted those flowers because I think they are beautiful, and what you did was selfish and feels like the opposite of my intent for my garden.


Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Magical Mitzvah Park

Well, the night is for vampires
Vampires and failures

Grandpa Boy
Vampires and Failures

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hats (minus the good title idea)

Again this week I set up the camera early, this time because (after a good yoga class on Sunday) my back is killing me. I basically can't get up from the couch unassisted, and knew that if I waited to long to get things set up, there would be no photos this week.  It worked out well; Ada really got into trying on different hats. Earlier in the day I pulled out a box of hats that I packed up in Rhode Island and have not looked at since. Most of the hats were ones I wore in college or just after, but a couple are vintage numbers that have been neglected for too long. I chose one of the vintage hats, and Ada started with a hat of her own before raiding a bunch of the other "new" hats.

Week 33 - take 1
This picture should put to rest any confusion about why the most common question strangers are asking me these days is "when are you due?"

When Ada insisted that Chris join us, he tried on a few hats (including this one that his mother knit and then felted for me years ago).
Week 33 - take 3

I have no information to offer about this hat, as it has no tags and I can't run my usual lazy-woman's internet search. I have a suspicion that this one (and maybe on other in my box) came from Ann (the friend who gave me this hat).
Silk and Velvet Hat
Tag-less hat

In order to best show my belly, I tend to stand sideways in these photos. I realized part way through taking this week's pictures that as far as the hat's best side, I needed to turn around. This silk and velvet (or at least velvety) hat has a great little ribbon that sits off to the right side of my face. So here is an attempt to show the ribbon while not completely turning my back on Ada.
Week 33 - take 7
Ada wanted Baby in the picture; I insisted she join us in hat-modeling.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Belly's Lament

Categories of clothes now in my possession:

  • Regular (non-maternity) clothes, which except for underwear, socks and one sweater, are unwearable.  
  • Maternity clothes, type 1: clothes that never fit me, despite being labeled "maternity" by devious retailers or loaned by friends with significantly shorter torsos and/or smaller pregnancy bellies. This includes any tops sold by Gap Maternity, which by the time I needed a maternity shirt to cover the belly, were already too short to perform this duty. This category also includes several pairs of maternity pants that are too big in the hips and fall down the moment I move around at all. I look like a teen-aged boy, circa 2000. This slippage is exacerbated by the prevalence of under-the-belly waistbands. I was fooled by this style during my first pregnancy, but realized (after walking all around Madrid with at least one hand in my pocket in order to keep my jeans up) that the less fashion-forward over-the-belly waistbands work a lot better for me.  Also, though my belly is size large, my hips remain medium.
  • Maternity clothes, type 2: clothes that fit me for a while, and are now too small. A couple pairs of pants I borrowed from friends have been set aside as the waistband no longer stretches over my lower belly enough to simultaneously keep the pants up and not make me feel I am being hugged by a vice grip. (see: complaints about under-the-belly waistbands above) Other pants that worked well for a while are now pinching my lower belly, making sitting uncomfortable. Also, at least one shirt that I'd happily worn the past couple of months was put away, after a recent mid-day walk to the grocery store ended with my neighbor glancing at my lower belly (a region I can feel but not see these days) and asking if I minded the breeze. 
  • Maternity clothes, type 3: seasonally inappropriate clothes. Just because they don't really fit the weather, I am still wearing them. Because they sort of fit. 
  • Maternity clothes, type 4: perfect. I have a few pieces of clothes that fit and look decent, and I wear them all the time. This includes the black and white polka dot dress I wore all through my first pregnancy, a gray cashmere wrap sweater from my mom, and some maternity yoga pants I am too vain to wear outside except to yoga. Strangely, I am not too vain to wear droopy jeans, so go figure. By the time I can fit back in normal clothes, I will be ready to burn these precious pieces.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Way of Blessing

I am almost afraid to open the envelope. I am afraid I have remembered it wrong, that it was not that thing I am determined to keep in my heart through the three a.m. feedings and the end-of-my-rope moments. 

But that is silly. What I remember is true, and what I remember is this: a room full of women from many corners of my life sitting on the floor in a circle, talking to me about the challenges and joys of parenting. Ellen organized a blessing way* for me on Saturday. This is the second one she has held for me. Though some of the same women were there for both, this felt very different from the one we held before Ada's arrival. Last time it was a ceremony marking a transition - from pregnancy into labor and delivery, from being childless to becoming a parent. This time almost everyone there was a mother (whether of young children or children long grown) and all the women knew about parenting through experience with their own and other children. This time was less "welcome to the club" than "we understand and are there with you." Each woman spoke honestly about her own challenges and about those she knew I would face in the coming months and years. Each brought me their joy as well, reminding me how amazing it is to be a parent and how important it is to pay attention to that, even as we all struggle with fatigue, boredom, loss of self, and did I mention fatigue?

One woman spoke of having moments in which she could see her children for who they are, and in which she could most clearly know their happiness as she responded to them fully, or see their fear when she showed anger.

Another talked about the touch of her child, and others could not help but agree that their love for their children was so strong and visceral that it caused them to need that child's touch. The women described repeatedly falling in love with their children as they grew and changed every day.

One woman offered her belief that I will be able to manage my new life, even or especially on the days I feel most overwhelmed. Another brought me a painted print of Ada's once tiny hand, one that I can't look at without crying. A writer friend gave me a cherished photograph of her crying child, while another friend made three linked paper hearts. And each woman gave me a bead, which symbolized something she wanted for me, or was something she loved, or was what she could lay her hands on at 10 p.m. last night. All will go on my little shrine, and will join the beads I received before Ada's birth and still keep close.

As each woman spoke, I found myself wishing for a way to change their words into something I could put in a bottle or wrap like a scarf around me. I was so touched by what these women said, and the honesty and emotion with which they said it. Several of the women who cried expressed a surprise that they were so touched by what everyone said. I was not surprised, but I was so happy that this moment meant something to the other participants too. I also knew that as much as the blessingway meant to me in the moment, that I will need the memory of these women's words when I get to the hard places ahead. I have been so afraid of what is next that I have not been very open to the fact that what is coming is assuredly both joy and pain. My heart opened up a bit more this weekend, and I want the cushion of these women's words to protect that openness. I will fill my pockets with their words and remind myself that I can pull them out whenever I need them.

*From my limited experience, each blessingway is unique. For some of the things a blessingway can be, look here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Family that Wears Hats Together...

Instead of following my usual pregnant-with-hat photo process (get Ada to bed, collapse on couch, eat dinner, then drag out the tripod), this week I got started on the hat pictures early. I asked Ada if she wanted to join in, which of course she did. She also wanted Chris to get involved, giving you a glimpse back at last week's hat and a contender for next week's:

Week 32 - Two Hats
Chris, Ada, Hats and a Carrot

And once I stopped fiddling with the camera, the three of us squeezed in for a picture or two:
Week 32 - Take 2
Week 32 of Pregnancy, Week 5 of Hat Pictures

Thanks to my pal Stephanie for the shirt. Stephanie is a tall woman, which means that her long maternity clothes actually still (mostly) manage to cover my belly. Plus, this shirt matches the hat pretty well. Speaking of the hat, does it look like a bathing cap to anyone else? Especially when worn, it reminds me of those flowered caps popular with ladies of a certain age and synchronized swimmers. This hat would certainly not survive a dunking, but the green mesh covered with gaudy flowers...

floating hat
Hat . . . in space!

This hat was "made to order" by Mr. Arnold. The whole made to order thing confirms one thing for me: my grandmother had a smaller head that I do. Wearing this hat was a little uncomfortable due to its size, and mine (for once I mean my head, not my belly).

Mr Arnold - Made to Order

In searching the web I found a couple of other hats made by Mr. Arnold, including this mink number for sale on ebay. Randomly, when I was looking for information on Mr. Arnold, I ran across a web site for a hat exhibit at the James A. Michener Museum. Who knew Michener (king of the one word title) had a museum named for him?

My favorite part about this week's pictures was Ada's excitement. In the above photos you can see Ada showing solidarity by baring her belly. After Chris got tired of holding Ada (and of standing in front of the camera) Ada started dancing around before the camera. In the first photo below she was bopping so enthusiastically that she jumped out of the way right before the timer went off. I got her back in the next one, but given the overall attempt to get hat and belly in the photo, she barely appears in the frame.

Ada, missing the pictureWeek 32 - Take 3

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

No Hunting (Hippos)

Practically the only thing that doesn't rock these days is music itself. And, if music did in fact rock, to actually say that it did would have very little meaning. Because you'd have to ask, "This music rocks compared to what? Beer? Hawaii? Grandpa?"

Carrie Brownstein
I Rock! You Rock! We All Rock!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Death in the Family

Last week my cousin called to say that his father had just passed away. He called me because my parents were out of the country and pretty hard to reach. My uncle had pancreatic cancer, an agressive cancer with very low survival rates. As a measure of the relationship between my family and my uncle, my mother did not know her brother had cancer. So while I feel sad that he died young, I feel not so much sad for myself as for my cousins and my uncle's partner.

According to Jewish custom, burial follows death in quick succession. I am sure that this was very useful at a time when rotting bodies were a real health risk to the living. In our present world - one in which families live thousands of miles apart and are often not in close touch with one another - hearing about a death three days before the funeral can make it hard for people to gather for the event. As my parents are away, before we could even consider attendance I had to work on getting the news to my mother.  I felt weird about interrupting her vacation with the news, given that (even if I had been able to reach her immediately, which was not the case) she was unlikely to be able to get back in time for the memorial service. Then again, I thought it would be wrong to just not mention it until she got back. This felt like the kind of news she should know about, unpleasant though it may be.

This past weekend my sister and I were talking about the fact that we do not know our uncle's children and in fact have only met them a handful of times. I told Karen that I would hate for this to be the case for our children, and once again expressed my hope that she and her husband would eventually settle in Portland. Karen agreed that it would be nice, but then added that there was one difference between our limited relationship with our cousins and our own future children's likely connection: "we like each other."

We do, and I can not really imagine having a sibling who was not my close friend. My uncle has not been close to his family for decades. I don't really understand all the details, but the core issues seemed to be more about my uncle and grandfather than about sibling issues. My grandfather died twenty years ago. My mom had hopes that after my grandmother passed away several years ago that she and my uncle might reconcile a bit. Or maybe not reconcile, but gain some closeness. That had not happened, but when someone is alive there is always that hope. My mother's response to the news of her brother's death was sadness and shock, tinged by the additional disappointment that she would not be able to work things out with him. I feel terrible for her for this loss that I can not quite fathom, and feel even worse that she did not enjoy even a measure of the relationship I have with my sister.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I can't even look at these

...without giggling to myself.

Chris with baby
Pitcher's Helper
Chris, baby teach Ada to swing
close up peekaboo

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twins! (But Not Mine)

For the better part of a year I have been reading about Rebecca's life; her efforts to get pregnant and her experience with a twin pregnancy. I have really connected with Rebecca's posts, both because we have been on what turned out to be parallel paths, and because she writes with honesty and humor about her experiences.

I stopped by Facebook this evening, and to my surprise saw that Rebecca had posted photos of some "new additions" - turns out that her twins arrived on Saturday, a bit early but from the look of things healthy.

Congratulations Rebecca! I wish you and your family much happiness!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Derby Hat, A Bit Small

As promised, a return to flowery hats. This hat would have been appropriate to wear to the Kentucky Derby. I might have if I'd owned it the year I went to the derby with Chris and friends. As my grandmother was still alive at the time and thus in possession of her hats, I wore a much less fancy but still serviceable straw hat of my own. After that one Derby trip I decided that unless I get Derby tickets that include actual seats, I will not go back. It was fun enough as a one-time thing, but cheap seats without seats gets old quick. I did win money on the Derby, which helped make the day more worthwhile.

But back to the topic at hand - it is weird that depending on the angle at which I stand, my belly looks monstrous or actually kind of reasonable. It certainly does not feel reasonable these days. I am feeling very sluggy. In addition to being tired much of the time, moving is a big annoyance. This means I try to minimize movement, which in turn makes me feel like a soggy potato. Yes, a soggy potato. If you don't like the metaphor, get your own blog. Ditto if you think I should have ironed the ribbon. It was 9 pm, you are lucky I am smiling at all.

Week 31 - take 1
Feeling a little silly about tipping my head in order to get more of the hat into the picture.

Here is a better view of the hat:
Week 31 - take 2

The flowers are actually pretty impressive, both for their exuberance and for the fact that I can identify several of them as real types of flowers.

flowers (4 of 5)

In addition to these flowers, there are a couple bunches of impatiens, a rose and several other types of flowers I'd have to think hard about but could probably identify. It impresses me that the haberdasher didn't just make up flowers, but recreated real ones for this spring beauty.

Adolfo - NY/Paris
Ok, I should have ironed the ribbon. Maybe I will later, but more likely I will just think about it for a while and then decide against it.

The hat bears two labels, one from Adolfo (probably this Adolfo) and the other from Chester Weinberg. I know Adolfo had a shop in New York (and according to the label, also one in Paris), so this could have been a hat sold at his NYC shop but made by Weinberg. On the other hand, I know Adolfo made hats, and I can't find much about Chester Weinberg as a milliner. Weinberg was apparently a Parsons graduate who was active in the '70s. (I found this post and photo about a cool dress he designed.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Ada and a Big Radio

To those of you in Quality Control: As indicated by the new sign in your rest room, employees must wash their hands before not returning to work.

Patricia Marx
Memo from the C.E.O.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What do people do all day?

Melissa's post on talking to her daughter about work and trying to help her understand what she does (and that she she has a job) reminded me of a conversation I had with Ada the other day. Out of nowhere she declared that she wants to be a mama when she grows up. I'm fine with that as a goal, but maybe not as her only goal. So I suggested: "Lots of people do more than one thing. You can be a mama and have another job too." I reminded her that I have a job, though explaining just exactly what "Senior Policy Analyst" means is not an easy task. Then again, it isn't so easy to explain to a 35 year old, much less to a 3.5 year old.

We talked about Chris, who is a papa and a math teacher. We talked about Ellen (mama and midwife), and Stephanie (mama and math teacher). Our neighbor Mark builds things and is a papa.

After considering what she must have seen as her options, Ada decided that she'd like to be a mama and a math teacher. "Like Stephanie," I said.

"Yes. But I would need my own office. Her office isn't big enough for both of us."

I guess it is good to plan ahead.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Hate Naps

As necessary as naps are these days, I am annoyed that I am losing so much time to sleep. The desire to be productive is strong, but the flesh is weak.

The process of getting ready to leave the house this morning knocked me out. Considering standing up to put on my shoes had me in tears, and Chris suggested I stay home to rest (instead of going to a young friend's first birthday party). I wanted to go but could not drag myself out the door. I knew that the problem would be keeping myself from "doing" while home resting. Chris sternly reminded me that resting and not getting things done was exactly what I should be doing.

Instead of getting things done, I engaged in my second favorite past-time: list-making. Even though making lists highlights all the things that remain undone, I find it soothing to organize the work. It helps me feel I am not forgetting anything, and that once ordered the tasks can be tackled somehow. Priorities can be assigned. List-making is practically action, or at least its necessary precursor.

As busy as a 3.5 year old can be, I think I can take a lesson from Ada and her friends. Ada loves to play pretend sleep. Yesterday she and Lila spent a long time making nest-like beds on the floor, arranging blankets, books and toys, and then pretending to go to sleep and wake up. I do not understand why this particular aspect of daily life is so fascinating to them, but maybe I can use it to remind myself that a little extra (real or pretend) sleep might be a good thing for me too.

pretend sleep

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

We Dispose

They were kind of serious about this, but they were kind of kidding. Or they were completely serious, but they knew it was funny. (They were radical but silly.)

Ariel Levy
American Chronicles: Lesbian Nation

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thankfully there is a hat in the picture

Week 3 of Pregnant with Hats (30 Weeks Gestation)

This week, I am sporting a disappointing haircut, but not an afro. You can't see the actual haircut due to the hat (thank goodness for small favors) but thanks to my tendency to take these pictures at night with a flash, the hat kind of looks like an extension of my hair.  The color is not totally off between the two.

After starting to shoot, I realized that pictures taken on a day that I have not showered and am wearing no make up might not look that great to me. And don't tell me that I look nice, it will just depress me that you think I look the same whether or not I am having what I consider to be a good face day.

Week 30 - take 3
Note to self: try not to take pictures wearing a shirt that makes you choose 
between revealing your bra and your belly.

As the hat is a little hard to distinguish from my hair in the above picture, here is a picture of the hat itself. There is no tag in the hat, so I know neither what kind of fur it is nor who made it. I know nothing about fur, so I can't offer any information on that score from the (lovely, soft) feel of the hat.

What the hat looks like
It looks a bit like a jockey's cap, if jockey caps were covered in soft, dark brown fur. 
Next week will feature a return to floral hats. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Roll and Tumble

Now, I'm no Bliss, and not usually led to blog about the lovely stuff I see, but I am making an exception. The other day I ran across the Roll & Tumble etsy shop and was impressed enough by this fantastic poster that I bought one immediately. (Those who know my usual shopping habits know that this is a rare event. Usually I have to consider, go away, come back, consider some more...)

Photo credit: Roll & Tumble Press

I was happy with this purchase on its own, but a couple of hours later I checked my email and found a nice note from Roll & Tumble's Christie and Caleb. Turns out I was their 100th sale, and to celebrate, they let me choose another item for free. I knew exactly what I wanted - these fantastic bird prints. To tell the truth, I'd considered buying them anyway. 

Photo credit: Roll & Tumble Press

Yay for cool etsy sellers, yay for free, yay for Roll & Tumble's awesome hand illustrated, hand carved, hand set, hand fed letterpress prints!

If you'd like to see some photos documenting the process Roll & Tumble Press uses (from sketches to wood cuts to printing), check out the R&T flickr stream.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Ada, while drawing and watching basketball with Chris: "I know you don't like the ads. Why you don't like the ads? I like the ads."

and later: "I know, you can watch the game and I'll watch the ads."

* ** *
Ada's recent most-asked question is "Who are you?" She asks this at least a half-dozen times a day. Sometimes I just answer simply: "I'm mama." Other times I offer more: "I am a mama, a wife, a reader, a writer..." 
While any answer I give seems to satisfy Ada in the moment, nothing seems to quench her desire to ask again.

* ** *

While not a question, certainly inquisitive:

Driving home from picking up veggies from our CSA, Ada piped up from the back seat.

"I want to count all the books."

"All your books, or all the books in our house?"

"All the books in our whole house."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

This is not a work space

Reynolds loves obscure genre labels. He has coined at least one ("postrock") and in this book he embraces countless others with a straight face, among them "funk punk," "punk funk," "folk punk," anarcho-punk," "Hi-NRG," "psychobilly," "angst rock," "death disco," "mutant disco," "Teutonica," "Goth," "proto-Goth," "post-Goth," "Oi!" "New Romanticism," "New Rock," "New Americana," "New Pop," "electropop," "synthpop," "synthpop noir," "synthfunk," "avant-funk," and, deep breath, "neopostpunk." Will there be a quiz?

-Jim Windole
reviewing Rip It Up And Start Again by Simon Reynolds

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pregnant With Hats (Week 29)

As promised, more pictures of me, pregnant and wearing a hat.

This week's hat was my grandmother's. It strikes me as a classically "easter" hat, which is weird since my family isn't Christian. So then maybe I don't really know what an easter bonnet should look like.

Week 29 - take 2
29 weeks, with hat

In any case, this is the hat that I once wore to pick my sister up from the airport. The hat is so imposing that Karen walked right past me without recognizing me. Just to be clear, this is not the kind of thing she does normally. Until that day we had a 100% mutual recognition rate.

I realize that the angle of the picture does not show off the hat to its fullest. To rectify that, I took this:

The hat, on its stand, on the couch
The hat, on a stand, on the couch

One other note, about the stand: I have half a dozen of these vintage bent-metal stands. Most of them are in less than pristine shape, but I still love them. Even better, a dance teacher gave them to me for nothing. Chris and I got into swing dance when we lived in Chicago, and the studio was a big converted warehouse space. The owner had gotten a bunch of hat stands from a shop that was closing and clearing out all its stuff. I complimented the teacher on the hat stands she had on display in the studio, wishing aloud that I had something on which to display my collection. The teacher pulled out a huge trash bag filled with a jumble of stands and told me to grab some.

Hmm, that was unexpected. Just thinking about the stands and that dance studio made me really miss Chicago and the days when Chris and I braved the midwestern winters to do things like go out dancing. These days we mostly dance in our kitchen, trying out a quick lindy in between stirring sauce or browning meat. Even that is fun, however. I'm already looking forward to the day when we can pick that back up, to the accompaniment of 2 infants and a toddler yelling for our attention.