Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In which we discover Meg is not a lefty

This morning during breakfast, we had Meg on the kitchen floor in her Bumbo seat. She started stretching and squeaking, in that "I can't reach. Want! Want!" sort of way. So I asked Jonathan if she'd dropped her pink monkey and froggie.

"She has," he said, "but what she really wants is this." He pulled over the giant green paper towel bag into her reach - and sure enough, that was it! She started grabbing at it and playing with it - right-handed.

So after a minute or two, he turned her Bumbo around so she'd have to use her left hand instead. That didn't work so well, and what she initially tried to do was figure out how to get her right hand over there. Her parents were mysteriously uncooperative about turning her back, but she did finally get it with the left. We also mysteriously wouldn't let her eat it once she had it.

So: Meggie is not a lefty, and she's starting to notice things in her environment (and want them). Cool!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A cheesy post

Not speaking of mythical creatures, the other day we bought a Magna-size tub of ricotta cheese. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite foods. It's somewhere between cottage cheese and whipped cream, and I've had a lovely time experimenting. We put it on crepes, with strawberry jam and without; we piled it on a (disintegrating) omelette; and I've been eating it by the bowlful with blueberries and maybe a little honey or agave, like yogurt or ice cream.

I also have spinach in the freezer and pasta shells in the pantry, and mean to make stuffed shells out of it this week. Yummy!

Haggis is a real critter

...according to 18% of Britons in this poll. Either that, or a Harry Potter character.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Training dragons

Jonathan's parents were kind enough to come babysit Meg last night, so Jonathan and I went on a date! We saw How to Train Your Own Dragon (in 3D, so for an extra $3.50 each. Surprise!). It was, if not actually a fun movie, at least a movie with fun parts.

The 3D was great. It added a lot. You'd look over a hill, and a dragon would really jump out at you. Ack! The animation was very nice - beautiful, in places, and quite detailed, right down to the limpets on the ship. And that meeting hall, with lovely carvings - ahh. I'd live in Burk happily.

The story editor failed, though. And the guy in charge of characters. The plot hit a whole rainbow of cliches: villains are misunderstood rather than actually evil, the (also misunderstood) teenager will keep secrets from his parents but that's okay, teenagers know best and will save the world for the grown-ups, Dad will apologize in the climax, etc. The characters were also pretty cliche'd and shallow, with a couple exceptions. We had a fat fanboy, two really annoying bickering siblings, a warrior chica, and a fawning rival for the chica's hand.

Said chica... sigh. There is, in fact, a place for lady warriors. Eowyn from Lord of the Rings has a rather good one. But I don't see why every movie needs a girl wearing (ferret?) skulls on her belt who needs to prove she's Just As Good As Any Stupid Boy At Boys' Activities. I want to see a heroine who has feminine qualities, somewhere, somehow. If women aren't allowed to be women, but have to be men, isn't that kind of denigrating to women? Just asking...

The most interesting character was the dad's friend, the blacksmith and dragon-fighting-trainer. He was a sensible person, fun to be around, and gave good advice (except for his unenlightened prejudice against dragons who after all had only been trying to kill him his entire life, but oh well). There was one really good scene where the blacksmith and the dad have an actual conversation about what to do with Hiccup (main character). The blacksmith advised they let accident-prone Hiccup learn to fight dragons like he'd been begging to, on the grounds that he would get into trouble one day and really should be equipped to handle it. The dad actually took this advice. I only wish the plot hadn't then invalidated this sensible decision by making the training totally unnecessary.

The dad and the blacksmith had a great relationship. They're obviously both brave and great guys. There's a lot of medieval instances of such friendships, from Roland and Oliver on down, so I thought that really fit in this movie. In the last scene we get to see them working together (oh yeah!). It would have been much more fun to have lots of scenes with those two, rather than so many with the selfish and puerile teenagers. Also, possibly then the dad could have spent most of the movie showing his virtue rather than apparently being dumb.

The biggest gaping plot hole was the ending. Spoiler! We all come together, men, teens, and dragons, by fighting the ginormous other dragon. I'm really not clear why we should make friends with normal dragons but it's great to kill the big one. Er? Surely the giant dragon was only wicked because someone had kicked him as a dragonling? But except for being wildly inconsistent, that was a good scene, in which nearly everyone got to be heroic.

So. Overall, it was a perfectly adequate movie. Technically it was great, but it could have used a lot of refining.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The secret past of Berryville

"Close by was the hamlet of Battletown. The name did not refer to any clash of arms, but to the fact that this town's one street was lined with saloons where the Scotch-Irish settlers got drunk every Saturday night and, roaring with alcoholic rage, revived their ancient feuds with shelalaghs and broken bottles till their blood spattered the wooden sidewalks and muddy roadway. In more peaceful and decadent times, Battletown was innocuously rechristened Berryville just in time to become a real battleground, as Yankees and Confederates took and retook it, over and over, during the Civil War."

The Byrds of Virginia, Alden Hatch, pp 226-227.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Life in pink and chocolate

Good news! Great news, actually - I have a job again! I'm going to work for a Christian nonprofit researching actors and essentially be doing background checks on them. I'm really excited. That should start in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I've been able to do a few fun projects around the house. The other day I made this mobile for Meggie and hung it over her crib. It turned out pretty cute. I think she's even noticed it once or twice.


Jonathan is researching alcohol regulation for his big project this week. It turns out there are three exceptions to the "must have warning on it" rule. These are:

-Alcohol for export
-Alcohol for ships' supply on international trips
-Alcohol for the armed forces.

So apparently the three groups of people who don't need to hear about the dangers of drinking are foreigners, sailors, and soldiers. Um, okay...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Aww! Modcloth named one of their shoes after Color Me Katie! Here's the post about it.

Modcloth is awesome because they have cute clothes and shoes. Also, they advertise on Lolcats. And Color Me Katie is delightful because she's always doing bright papery things that even an impoverished law-school wife can imitate. :-)

Ogden Nash strikes again

This is one of the more outlandish (and funny) parodies of Marlowe's Passionate Shepherd that I've come across. It was posted here.

Come live with me and be my love

And we will all the pleasures prove

Of a marriage conducted with economy

In the Twentieth Century Anno Donomy.

We’ll live in a dear little walk-up flat

With practically room to swing a cat

And a potted cactus to give it hauteur

And a bathtub equipped with dark brown water.

We’ll eat, without undue discouragement,

Foods low in cost but high in nouragement

And quaff with pleasure, while chatting wittily,

The peculiar wine of Little Italy.

We’ll remind each other it’s smart to be thrifty

And buy our clothes for something-fifty.

We’ll bus for miles on holidays

For seas at depressing matinees,

And every Sunday we’ll have a lark

And take a walk in Central Park.

And one of these days not too remote

You’ll probably up and cut my throat.

Hat tip to Semicolon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

At the Saturday night cookout

"Andi, do you have any squirt bottles of water, like to squirt a cat with?" David
"Sure, here." Andi hands it over. "Why?"
"The grill's on fire." David

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The life and adventures of Meg, Easter week

<-- Margaret's Easter bunny ears.

Meggie has had quite the eventful week. She's definitely growing: she now notices her toys, and will wave them around and get them close enough to chew on. (But the froggie is still her favorite.) I think she's developing a "snuggie" habit, and will pull a burp cloth or her skirt up to her mouth. She loves going outside for walks, too, though not in the heat so much, and unfortunately it's been quite warm here lately.

A few of the highlights: It started Maundy Thursday, when we were sitting out on the back steps in the sun. She wriggled a great wriggle and slipped right out of my arms, and bunged her lip on the step. It only bled a little bit, but naturally she started crying, and I started yelling for Jonathan, and he had to run off to class, and I phoned her nurse, and it was quite exciting. (Don't worry: she's completely healed now.)

On Good Friday we went to Maymont. It's one of the most beautiful places in Virginia, I think: a historic plantation house with a stream at the bottom of the garden and a museum and a children's zoo. We went just at sunset and hardly anyone was there. We got some nice pictures, too. And then we went and explored the Carillon and Dogwood Dell, which is a park area near Maymont consisting of a brick tower (the Carillon) and... (drumroll)... an amphitheater! It was deserted - well, until we got there, of course - so Meggie had her first experience on stage. Naturally we dragged out all the Macbeth and Henry V monologues we could remember. We determined that what we really need to do is start a Random Shakespeare group, and read through the fun plays together of an evening. Email me if you're interested. :-)

Saturday we went to Sam's and bought fifty pounds of rice and some lovely apple juice. I'm really enjoying that Sam's membership Mom got me.

Sunday was Easter! Meggie had just the normal for breakfast, but Jonathan and I had hot cross buns and boiled eggs. We dressed up Meggie in her blue embroidered dress from Aunt Emily's wedding, and after church, we posed her in bunny ears with a big pink pinwheel and took pictures out back. She is absolutely the cutest bunny-rabbit-fairy child I've ever seen. Pictures will be up on Facebook soon.

On Tuesday we had some amazing spit-up. It got me, Meg, the sheets, the mattress pad, the Boppy, and the pillow I was leaning against. So I washed Meg, changed the sheets, and put the pillows in the washer. Only I think it was a bit more than the washer was really up for, because it flooded the kitchen floor. Jonathan discovered this when he came home for lunch. Meanwhile, Meg started wailing. So we took turns holding the baby, sopping up the floor, and transferring the 47 dry pounds of that 50-pound bag of rice into clean bowls on the table. Then I got to shower. We dropped off Jonathan at the clinic (and Margaret finally fell asleep in her car seat) and went to Wal-Mart for Very Large Bins for the Permanent Storage of Rice. Success! I came home, mopped the floor properly, and went to pick up Jonathan. The rice now resides on the back left corner of the dryer. It felt like an "if you give a mouse a cookie" day - glad to get it all settled. Whew!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The happy vegetarian

G. K. Chesterton cracks me up.

The Logical Vegetarian
G. K. Chesterton

“Why shouldn’t I have a purely vegetarian drink? Why shouldn’t I take vegetables in their highest form, so to speak? The modest vegetarians ought obviously to stick to wine or beer, plain vegetarian drinks, instead of filling their goblets with the blood of bulls and elephants, as all conventional meat-eaters do, I suppose.” — DALROY.

YOU will find me drinking rum,
Like a sailor in a slum,
You will find me drinking beer like a Bavarian.
You will find me drinking gin
In the lowest kind of inn,
Because I am a rigid Vegetarian.

So I cleared the inn of wine,
And I tried to climb the sign,
And I tried to hail the constable as “Marion.”
But he said I couldn’t speak,
And he bowled me to the Beak
Because I was a Happy Vegetarian.

Oh, I knew a Doctor Gluck,
And his nose it had a hook,
And his attitudes were anything but Aryan;
So I gave him all the pork
That I had, upon a fork;
Because I am myself a Vegetarian.

I am silent in the Club,
I am silent in the pub,
I am silent on a bally peak in Darien;
For I stuff away for life
Shoving peas in with a knife,
Because I am at heart a Vegetarian.

No more the milk of cows
Shall pollute my private house
Than the milk of the wild mares of the Barbarian;
I will stick to port and sherry,
For they are so very, very
So very, very, very Vegetarian.

And, just for fun, this is where he (presumably) got that nonsense about a bally peak in Darien:

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
John Keats

MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Friday, April 02, 2010


It's still kind of hard to believe, but my sister is actually married! The trip was a lot of fun, and Meggie traveled very well. She really liked having someone available to play with her at all times, though occasionally we overwhelmed her again. But she's such a sweetie.

Some of the highlights:

Friday (3/19): Somehow neither Jonathan's alarm nor mine woke us up (did we set them wrong? Did they not go off? Did we both just sleep through them both??), but God kindly woke us up eleven minutes before we were supposed to leave. So we scrambled and scooted. The HOV lane, incidentally, requires you to exit to stay on the Beltway. We weren't quite tracking and so drove through DC to get to BWI. Oh well; we got there in plenty of time. The flights were pretty awful, and it was lovely to get to NM. My parents were so excited to see Meg. We ran a couple errands and had dinner at El Pinto (yay!), and then drove home in a blizzard.

Saturday: Snow on the ground! Later in the morning Tami came over and did a test run of Emily's hair for the wedding. She looked lovely, of course, and naturally tried on her wedding dress for some pictures. Nefret the Bad Cat used the dress as a tent, and got black cat hairs and a dirty pawprint on it. She escaped with her life.

Sunday: We all went to church. This was my first time at Crossroads since they've been meeting at the school building; I wasn't home for a Sunday when I visited last fall. My dad was so proud of Meggie and showed her off to everybody. Afterwards we went to La Cocina with the Gacs and Christensens, and had a lovely time. We ran by Santa Fe while we were out.

Monday: I got in a few hours of work and we all did as much wedding prep as possible. Mom and Christi made several pans of enchiladas for post-wedding consumption.

Tuesday: Mom went to the store, Emily went for a mani and pedi, and Meg and I went uptown to socialize. We picked up a cake plate, dropped by the dentist's to say hi, had two really wonderful tacos from El Parasol, and hit the library used bookstore. Those are the tacos I'd been craving the whole time I was expecting, and never was able to get, since there is no El Parasol on the east coast and they don't ship well. I don't know what they put in them, but the flavor - and the grease - mm!

Wednesday: Emily packed her worldly goods into the truck. She drove that and Meg and I drove the Saturn to Portales. I was able to loan her my i-pod for the road, as Ryan had hers and it's a long, radio-signal-free drive. We were going to pick up Grandma and Grandad and bring them home with us, but Grandad wasn't doing well and had to go to the emergency room that night. They did let him come home rather than admitting him to the hospital. They got to meet Meggie for the first time. It was really sweet.

Thursday: Ryan and most of his groomsmen had road-tripped out to Portales, picking up a U-Haul on the way. They packed up some furniture Grandma and Grandad had been keeping for Emily and also transferred her stuff from the truck. Our friend Leah, who's living in Portales now, went and retrieved the pizzas for us and visited. Then everybody tumbled back into their vehicles and we caravanned back to Los Alamos: Emily and Ryan in the lead in the truck, the guys in the van pulling the U-Haul, and then Meggie and I bringing up the rear. They stopped in Santa Fe to grab their tuxes, and I stopped at Borders to get A Conspiracy of Kings since it was coming out this week - and they didn't have it! I couldn't believe it. At home, the groom's family and bridesmaids had arrived, so both families and most of the wedding party feasted on Mom's good brisket and salad.

Friday: We got up bright and early for a bridesmaids' breakfast. Mom used her pretty dishes and everything was really good (of course)! Then the whirlwind began. Groomsmen and friends and well-wishers turned up and packed up the wedding decorations, and the cake-decorators and pie-bakers arrived at our house and got to work, and there were trips back and forth the the church (the same one where I got married), and I stayed behind to feed Meg. My phone rang. It was my employers calling to say the project was over and they no longer were employing me as of that day. Boggle. So I told my parents and Jonathan, and we went to the church to carry on decorating. We ran home about 2:30 to get dressed, then back to church for the rehearsal. At 5:00 we went to the Finnegans' church for the rehearsal dinner, and after that the ladies went up to Joyce's house for an, ahem, lingerie shower for the bride.

Saturday: The wedding day dawned bright and clear, and cold. The bridesmaids dressed at the church. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, because I had to get Meggie ready and me as well, and that basically wasn't going to happen. Tami finished up Emily and caught me and fixed my hair while I did my nails, which was really sweet of her. The girls all looked lovely. Heather handed our our bouquets, I handed over Meg to Liz, and we all piled into cars and headed out to the Overlook. This, just so you know, is where Ryan proposed to Emily! If you've never been, it's one of the most stunning views in North America, and Emily really wanted her wedding pictures taken there. We were so excited that Jennifer and Amanda took her wedding pictures, because they're both really good. A few are up already - and as you might suspect, there were lots of other photographers on duty, too.

The wedding itself was lovely. And the reception. We danced and ate and talked to friends we hadn't seen in years. Lots of people stayed to help clean up, and afterwards Megan, Meggie, and I went uptown to visit Josh and his new lady with the other debaters who were in town. Everybody came, I think, except Ben and Elsa (who couldn't fly out this time) and Emily and Ryan (who were elsewhere).

Sunday: Dad went to church, but the rest of us were too exhausted. We packed, did laundry, watched Eureka, and let Mom play with Meg all morning, like she'd been wanting to all week. In the afternoon Mom and I went to Santa Fe and went shopping, like I'd been wanting to all week. Much fun. Although Hastings also didn't have A Conspiracy of Kings.

Monday: Home. Mom drove Amanda to the airport at the same time as Jonathan and Meg and me, and then she went on to Portales to take care of Grandma and Grandad and visit Aunt Joann.