Our invisible friend

The little guy has developed an invisible/imaginary pet — a cat named Oliver. Last week, he watched the movie “Oliver and Company” several times. It’s a Disney cartoon, loosely based on “Oliver Twist,” with a cat in the lead role, and dogs as the rest of the gang. Billy Joel voices the Artful Dodger. Could be better, could be worse. Anyway, this morning when we woke up, the little guy announced that this was another movie, about what happened after the other one.
Apparently, in the sequel, Oliver goes to Target and enjoys fountains, as well as climbing around Yucca trees. We had a close brush when the little guy thought the imaginary kitty had been locked in the car; fortunately the quick-thinking tabby jumped into Mommy’s purse at the last minute.

summer evening

I walked down to the video store to return some movies after the little people were asleep, around 9:00. The marine layer came in early, so the air was damp and misty, and bright with the reflection of the streetlights. Neighborhood kids were out and about, and as I walked back I could hear the fireworks at Disneyland (it’s about 5 miles up the road). It’s midnight now, and I can hear my upstairs neighbors through the open door. The woman in apartment C has a guest or guests — one in particular is rather loud and overbearing, and seems to consider himself quite the expert on many subjects. It’s cooled down enough that the cat is sleeping curled up instead of stretched out.
Time to imitate the cat….

roadside botany

So, the little guy is a botany enthusiast –well, really, an arborist. He demands to be told the name of every tree he sees, and I give him what information I can. If we don’t know the name of a tree, we break off a leaf and bring it home so we can look it up. Walking anywhere takes some time, because we have to stop, admire, and discuss each tree. The other day he explained a lone eucalyptus to his Daddy: “So there wasn’t a bunch of trees next to it.” Once he knows a tree’s name, he wants facts about it — is it decidious or coniferous, which he can usually deduce, and what it is used for. So I told him how, back when there were large orange groves in Orange County, they planted rows of eucalyptus along the edges for a windbreak. Every now and then one comes across a long row of hoary eucalyptus, especially in south county. The little guy is so pleased with this bit of information that, if he sees two or three eucalyptus in a line, he will talk about the long-lost groves like an Orange County oldtimer. One of these days we will have to go to Riverside and see the mother tree (http://thegoldengecko.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_archive.html) from which all the other orange trees in Southern California are descended (they are navel oranges).

“Personal: Robert Benchley, please come home. A joke’s a joke.”

I find that my life is entirely un-blog-worthy, and so I return to the inimitable Dorothy Parker:

“Misfortune, and recited misfortune in especial, may be prolonged to that point where it ceases to excite pity and arouses only irritation. One more week’s crabbing out of me, and I fear that you will take to throwing eggs. Yet I am forced again to tell a tale of woe, for I have no other. And I can’t, you will admit, just stand up here in front of you and make faces, to earn my princely salary.”

your local fire hazard

Costa Mesa is unique in Orange County — for four days out of the year, one may actually buy fireworks. They may be discharged between 4:00 and 10:00 on the fourth of July, and that’s it. I realize that, to Tennesseans, this seems like an incredible infringement upon one’s civil liberties, but in our highly flammable state, it is a startling extravagance. There are, of course, many block parties, and people come in from out of town, buy fireworks, drive into the neighborhoods and set them off.
So we lit our fireworks, and then the baby needed some sleep, so I walked around the neighborhood with the little guy, who was vibrating with excitement. We don’t just get the fountains and the whistling petes; folks were shooting off rockets all over town, which was pretty exciting. Some are homemade, and some are surreptitiously imported. At one point we encountered some children with sparklers, which aren’t legal here, and the little guy stopped dead in his tracks, simultaneously delighted and terrified. We couldn’t walk past them until the sparklers burned out.
Maybe the little people will sleep in tomorrow….

culinary experimentation

Well, in the spirit of John’s blog, I tried something new in the kitchen today. I used to cook a lot, actually; in grad school I even occasionally was paid for catering. Back then, the only way to get decent Mexican food in State College, PA was to cook it oneself. Today I decided to try pulled pork barbecue. It wasn’t really barbecued; I browned the meat in a pan and then put it in the crockpot with the sauce. The little guy helped me mix up the sauce — he loves cooking. It turned out pretty well,, actually, but we’re going to be eating leftovers for a week.

We make our own fun

Part of the nightly ritual is the little guy’s 20-minute visit to the bathroom. He likes to sit and “read” Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Tonight I went in to check on him, and found him standing up in the middle of the bathroom, arms up. “What’s going on?” I asked. “I was pretending something,” he said. “What?” “I was pretending this was a rollercoaster.”
We have the most exciting bathroom in Costa Mesa.

The difficulty of being interesting

Well, this whole blogging business does cause one to feel the obligation to have an interesting life, or at least to make one’s life seem interesting. I’ve never really thought of my life as all that interesting; I am the sort of person who spends half an hour to an hour every night trying to negotiate a five year old into bed. Not entirely the sort of thing the whole world needs to hear about.
At any rate, today we actually did do something rather interesting. We — the DH and I — went to LA to see an art exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (http://www.moca.org/wack/). It’s a rather large exhibit of feminist art, pretty much all of it from the 70′s. Now, I must explain: I teach Women’s Studies, I consider myself pretty much a Second Wave Feminist, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (http://www.nmwa.org/) is one of my favorite museums in the world. I’m exactly the kind of person who goes to this kind of exhibit, and I wasn’t thrilled. As was noted on the exhibit’s webpage, it contained a gret deal of, shall we say, yonic imagery.
And the thing is, I’m not even really bothered by the bare skin. For example, I think of Alice Neel (http://www.aliceneel.com/) as an example of really good feminist bare bodies in art — it is provocative and confronts issues of beauty and gender identity construction, but also is emotionally moving. They had two of her paintings, including a lovely one of her pregnant daughter-in-law. A lot of the bare skin in this exhibit seemed to be heavy on the provocation, without much follow-through. I suppose that’s OK; we’re talking about the 70′s. A lot of these women were serious groundbreakers, and the exhibit was interesting as an example of the extravagant gestures women artists have had to make in order to be noticed.
Also: it seems to me that part of the whole point of performance art is its transience. Taking still photos of it — or even filming it — diminishes its power rather than extends its audience.
OK, I’ll let go of the exhibit. In front of the museum, right there at the corner of First and Central in downtown LA, we found two enormous, old trees. They had to have been there since before Little Tokyo (where we were) (http://www.visitlittletokyo.com/) was founded, and maybe even before the Pueblo itself. For a moment, standing under those two beautiful, healthy trees, I couldn’t help but imagine the surroundings when the trees were young: an open field, some cattle perhaps, with a tiny village — just a few houses — about a mile north (http://www.olvera-street.com/). All these years, all this construction — ranches, homes, Buddhist temples, factories, museums, parking lots — and no one has ever cut down the trees.
I guess I just find the uninteresting interesting.

(A note: I’ve made some changes in my word choice, having been warned that my previous vocabulary might attract untoward attention from spammers.)

really, it won’t turn into a knitting blog…

… but I am a knitter, and I am blogging, so it is going to come up. To be honest, sometimes it seems like I am really more of a re-knitter than a knitter. Last week I decided I wanted to make a scarf for my Aunt’s birthday. Her birthday was Monday, but I knew I would see her Sunday for the baby’s birthday. I would have had the scarf ready, but the baby pulled it off the sticks and I had to start over. I kept at it, despite the frustrations of ribbon yarn (any suggestions on working with ribbon yarn, btw?), and messed up as I was casting off. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I unraveled it again. So, last night, I started over. Same scarf, different yarn: I finished it this afternoon while the little guy splashed in the inflatable pool in the backyard. Third time’s the charm. So maybe I can blame my struggles on the yarn and not my knitting.

food issues 3

Here is a 3×5 file box of recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting. The box is cardboard – remember the old steel ones, in green or grey, like tiny file cabinets? My grandmother was careful to cite her sources, which earns my respect. Most of the cards have someone else’s name at the bottom. Pearl Leach seemed to be a favorite source, and her chicken recipe seems to be the kind one would use often. I do know that my grandmother’s first husband was Frank Leach, so it would seem that she lost the husband but kept his family recipes.

There’s also a shopping list: sugar, cigarettes, get a ribbon for Judy’s horse. My Aunt Judy is nearly 70 now; I wonder what lists my children and grandchildren will find among my papers. My guess? Diet Coke, bread, grading.