My man and I went on our first solo trip since before Lee was born (11 years!!!) to New York City for the weekend. (It was a wonderful and much-needed get away!) While we were there we checked out Occupy Wall Street. On the way home I read this article in Vanity Fair. It was about the bankruptcy of local governments but the last section seemed so pertinent to the issues that the Occupy protesters are trying to address.
...The richest society the world has ever seen has grown rich by devising better and better ways to give people what they want. The effect on the brain of lots of instant gratification is something like the effect on the right hand of cutting off the left: the more the lizard core is used the more dominant it becomes. “What we’re doing is minimizing the use of the part of the brain that lizards don’t have,” says Whybrow. “We’ve created physiological dysfunction. We have lost the ability to self-regulate, at all levels of the society. The $5 million you get paid at Goldman Sachs if you do whatever they ask you to do—that is the chocolate cake upgraded.”
Food for thought.
I've included the rest of the section after the break if you want to check it out.
let's pretend i posted this in mid- August, okay? that's what i meant to do...
the love part: my man and I met 20 years ago this summer at the Bread and Puppet Theatre festival. (we've been together half our lives!)
(image via Bread and Puppet website)
(crappy image via me 20 years ago!! the rest are various photos i found elsewhere- all kosher i believe!)
Bread and Puppet are a theatre group/community in Vermont known for their giant puppets and their political message.
(image via this blog- a nice post describing what shows are like now)
I grew up going to Bread and Puppet every summer of the 1970s and 80s with my family. New York transplants from way back, Peter and Elke Schumann and their family have a year round farm/art/theatre community and museum in the very rural Northeast Kingdom in Vermont.
you may have seen their puppets at marches, or recognize their influence in the work of JulieTaymor- a B&P protege.
one of their philosophies is Cheap Art:
here's some nice cheap art.
for many years on one weekend in August, the Schumanns, their people, and the town of Glover, VT would host a free 2 day festival. (in 1998 they stopped the weekend event- it had gotten too large and unruly) The day started with the Domestic Resurrection Circus.
image via Bread and Puppet website
The audience sits around on the grass in a natural amphitheatre, and the B&P bus pulls in with most of the company sitting on top- dressed in white, waving large flags with prints of every day objects and and words underneath- "Brother Frying Pan," "Sister Toothbrush." A band accompanied the performers- and always Uncle Sam on sky high stilts and silly 'animal' (people in animal costumes) routines. (here's a good video of a recent Circus performance)
image via flickr
At dusk, there was the Pageant. Silent and serious- the audience would wait as performers would appear from over the hills with bird puppets. The theme was always serious and something always got burned at the end. (our Island Fire Parade organizers are Bread and Puppet alums- small world!- and we always burn something at the end of the Fire Parade.)
image via Bread and Puppet website
image via Chazz
i haven't gone back since they stopped doing the weekend festival- but i think we must next year.
and the garlic? it's puppets- and BREAD. a delicious part of the Bread and Puppet experience is the FREE hearty fresh baked bread with a raw garlic spread. my man and i met in the queue for bread-- love and bliss ever since!! :)
i've been growing garlic in my little garden.
i love to eat it spread on bread with oil, salt and pepper. I don't know what exactly they put in it at Bread and Puppet, but i find that my version reminds me of those days.
so- Love and Garlic- two of the best things I have going for me. i raise my garlic bread to you my man.
our two week trip to Vermont is coming to a close. we spent a week at a lake house with the whole extended family (mom, stepmom, dad, stepdad, sister, me, the kids, and 4 dogs) Then a few 'city' days with my dad and a few 'country' days with my mom.
:: canoeing and paddleboating on the lake
:: lots of delicious food including fresh corn almost every night!
:: dogs, dogs, and more dogs
:: grandparents x 4, auntie x 1
:: lakeside deck for relaxing, eating and watching sunsets
:: popsicles, ice cream, freezies, frozen yogurt tubes
:: the best lake beach i've ever seen
:: the Shelburne Museum, especially an amazing miniatures collection
:: starting to train for another 1/2 marathon!
:: The Smurfs and Winnie The Pooh, The Help
:: back-to-school and not-back-to-school shopping
:: going through all my boxes of old momentos and photos from the first 21 years of my life
:: throwing out most of it, bringing home one meaningful box
:: an amazing Thai massage (thanks Mom! and Carrie!!)
:: my mom's lovely country pond and acreage
:: 'camping' with Nana on said acreage
:: reading in the hammock for two blissful hours (thanks again Mom!)
:: roasting marshmallows
:: great splashes in clear blue cold water
all in all- a lovely time! i'm exhausted... :)
fishing with BuppaNa
did you miss me?
i had a flurry of activity in this space as I took advantage of the last day or two with no kids at home, then- nothing! school ended and we packed up and drove to Indiana to visit the grandparents.
we had a great visit! we did the usual (Children's Museum, swimming, Zoo, hanging at the grandparents very comfortable house, fireworks, fishing, extended family July 4th BBQ, yummy food and drink, USA shopping, and lots of nice social time- see last year's post for photos! I hardly took any this year. I guess i was out of 'real life' too much). it's a long drive both ways, but the kids are great little travelers and it's worth it for the visit.
we got back a few days ago- i'm unpacked, and mostly settled. the kids are settling in too. i noticed some real growing pains for the first few days after we got back. since we went straight to Indiana, the first real days of summer 'nothing' were this week. after a few days of squabbling and purposeful oppositionality (as in 'The other 2 want to do X? Well, I want to do Y!) i think we've hit our stride.
as I said before, we love Farmer Boy and the other Little House books! As we were reading Farmer Boy a few weeks ago, I realized we would be driving through the area the family lived in (upstate NY) on our way to Vermont. Happily for us, the Wilder Homestead was only a few miles out of our way!
the house is original- taken back to how it would have looked when Almanzo lived there- and furnished accurately for the period. the barns were rebuilt according to descriptions in the book and Laura Ingalls Wilder's notes.
we all walked around saying things like, "This is the actual stream where Pa, Almanzo, Royal, Lazy John and French Joe washed the sheep!" (here it is)
and somehow this is the only picture i took?
I brought these lilacs when the kids and i drove down to Vermont for the weekend to surprise my mom for her retirement party. congratulations Mom! my sister also came in from Seattle. my mom was very pleased as you can imagine! the kids didn't sleep much, lots of treats were eaten and much fun with the family was had. oh, and lots of driving (8+ hours each way). now i am preparing for Maxine's birthday party on Saturday. whew!
(we did stop somewhere fun on our way through upstate NY. I'll tell you about it soon... )
we had a fantastic 2 weeks in Vermont with my parents.
they both have houses that are too small to comfortably fit our family of 5 plus my sister so this year they came up with an ingenious solution: my mom and her partner and my dad and his partner each rented a 'camp' (Vermonter for cottage) on the lake for a week. (we had stayed at one of these cottages in the fall for my dad's wedding)
:: ate a lot of ice cream and delicious food
:: went blueberry picking
:: played croquet, board games, swam in the lake, canoed, sailed, kayaked, paddle-boated and floated in inner tubes, and read a lot of books
:: had some great family time
:: went hiking
:: i met up with a friend from high school i hadn't seen in 20 years
we were trying- in vain- to get the kids to take a photo of us...(don't our legs look EXACTLY THE SAME!?)-
:: went to the Shelburne Museum (one of my all-time-favourite museums- i wrote about it here last year), the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Rokeby House, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and watched a meteor shower from the dock
:: had a family reunion with two of my dad's sisters and lots of family i hadn't seen in way too long
and ... my mom and her partner got married! it was their 3rd 'ceremony'- (they had already had a commitment ceremony and civil union- but since Vermont recently legalized gay marriage they officially tied the knot)
it was very small and casual- the cutest part was that the bride and bride wore matching "Life is Good" t-shirts.
congratulations Nana and Nanny!
thanks Mom and Dad! and Nan and Bill and Auntie Mar! we had a great time.
now we are enjoying the last days of summer...
we just got back from a lovely 10 day visit to my in-law's in Indianapolis.
visiting the in-laws, pre-children, used to be a trip to 'the spa' (relaxation, great food, massages, movies lots of sleep)- now it's a trip to the all-inclusive family resort! the grandparents go out of their way to make the 10 hour drive (each way) worth it.
we had a great time- Lee said, at least twice, "my favourite place in the world is Gramaleta's and Buppa Na's!" I'm not surprised since he had ice cream every day, watched 5 Scooby Doo movies, and read 6 new (to him) Hardy Boys books.
:: swam and sunned at the local JCC pool
:: spent a lot of time at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
saw some very cool Dale Chihuly glass sculptures
and, most exciting of all, saw a Beatles tribute band. they played 3 sets from three different eras, including costume and hair changes. Lee was mesmerized. (he LOVES the Beatles)
:: went to a very cool sculpture garden
:: shopped (music store, Target, Costco, fabric store, hobby store) our big US shop of the year
:: exhausted the grandparents and messed up their house :)
:: went fishing with BuppaNa and Unc Nunky
:: had lots of fun cousin and grandparent time
are we lucky or what?
we're back! we had a lovely time with my friend Julie and her family (her son is the same age as Maxine). Julie and I have been friends since we were 10 years old (okay, that's almost 30 years!) i feel so lucky to (still) have her in my life.
a few snaps from the trip:
:: Cali style
:: urban hiking
:: lots if playground time
:: and lots of ice cream!
on Mother's Day (by the way, Happy Mother's Day!!!) Julie took me to a fantastic yoga class and i found myself in a bizarre time warp: doing yoga with my childhood friend to an Indian techno version of Pink Floyd's 'Breathe' and remembering listening to the original version together 25 years ago in her dad's basement while up to no-good teenager activities (use your imagination).
we ate a lot of Mexican food (tamales and Mission burritos), went swimming a few times, and got turned on to Yo Gabba Gabba. Maxine was a champion traveler and it was nice to have 'just' one kid to take care of and shower with attention. BUT i am so glad to be back to my boys and my man and my house and my Island!
:: apple picking
:: fabulous weekend getaway on a long skinny point of land jutting out into the the lake
:: blue skies and beach walks and my family
:: a Sunday drive
:: my mom's tribute to Canadian Thanksgiving (which was Monday- Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canadians!) -- by way of a 1970s childhood memory- an all fondue dinner (cheese, meat -turkey, ahem- and chocolate)- the kids loved it!
weekends like this make me miss my home state and those in it, but it's good to be home.
one of my favourite things in the whole world is the cat man of key west. cat man is a street performer with trained housecats who jump through hoops etc. he is a crazy frenchman and so much more than that.
i first saw him in 1992, and then again in 2006. (i was pregnant with Maxine and in a baby name frenzy- i was thinking 2 of his cats' names would be good for a baby- Cosette or Oscar).
the kids and my sister and I went tonight to see him. the kids loved him.
he is not a minor celebrity here. he put his daughter through Cornell on his show earnings!
he has all these crazy gestures and catchphrases= "hurry up take your time!" that the kids said for weeks last time we saw him.
so much fun!
here's a youtube video to give you a taste:
the kids and my sister and I are visiting my dad and his partner (Buppy and Poppy) in Key West.
the first day, the boys went out and the baby was asleep, and i put my feet up with a book and a cup of tea. my dad and Bill have a lovely house that they renovated last year with an amazing outdoor living/dining room. little did i know, this quiet moment would be not only my first but my last!
beach (my children and I were the only ones fully clothed- i have a thing against sunscreen)
and roosters- poultry abounding on this island. we can hear them like crazy at my dad's house. every time, Maxine says "doodle-do!!"
we're back! the trip was great. the kids were such troopers on the way to DC and back (10+ hours each way!). we saw some old friends and made some new ones and our cousin from NY joined us. we went downtown for both the free concert on Sunday and the inauguration on Tuesday.
all you people who watched it at home probably got a better view of everything than we did, but there was such a great buzz in DC this weekend- i'm so glad we were there. there was a palpable sense of joy in the air. i've been sitting here for 1/2 an hour trying to synthesize my feelings for you, and it's too hard, and i don't know if i can do it before the baby wakes up, and there is a mountain of laundry and unpacking waiting for me.
watch the speech
or read it, and feel both the hope and the call for change. know that i feel so moved and hopeful that Barack Obama is now President, and that i have both no doubt and every doubt that anything in the US will change.
here is some of the weekend in picture and sound:
we watched the concert on a Jumbotron just under the Washington Monument (about 1 1/2 miles from the stage!) Amazing line-up including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, James Taylor, and Pete Seeger.
waaaaaay back there you can see the Lincoln Memorial, where the stage was:
to give you a sense of the concert, here's a little video i shot of Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen's "This Land Is Your Land" (i had to put it on youtube to put it here- too big to directly upload)
some very enthusiastic Obama supporters:
leaving the concert:
On Inauguration Day we were even further away (down by the Lincoln Memorial, i think about 4 miles from the Inauguration site!) watching on the jumbotron with crowds stretching all the way to the Capitol Building.
and some fans:
the ceremony closed with a blessing from Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, the man who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and who led the march on Selma. here are a few of his words:
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.
here's a snap from our personal celebration, a lunch feast, where Maxine had her first taste of Ethiopian food and charmed everyone by standing on her chair, shouting, "Obama!"
Jesse, Maxine and I have just returned from a 4 day trip to Lake Louise in Banff National Park (in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta).
I won this trip in a fundraiser- the WWF CN Tower Climb (which, by the way, was so much fun). It was an all expenses paid trip- flights, rental car, a luxury hotel (the historic Chateau Lake Louise) with gourmet meals, spa credit, and activities (guided hike, canoeing, gondola ride).
Not the kind of traveling we usually do... (see Road Trip 2008!)
BUT! it was really fantastic- neither of us had ever been anywhere in Canada in between Vancouver and Toronto. The mountains were amazing. It was so great to not have to think about laundry, meals, etc and to have only one little baby to take care of for a few days! Jesse and I enjoyed lots of uninterrupted conversations and glasses of wine. The boys stayed with good friends and grandparents- and got totally spoiled I think. They were really happy the whole time and say they only missed Maxine. Maxine LOVED the trip- she soaked up all the attention from hotel staff, waitresses, and fellow tourists, charming everyone she met.
The first day we were there, it snowed! A lot! In July! The next few days, however, were gorgeous blue sky sunny days. It took me 2 days to get ready to go, and likely it will be another few before we're settled in here again, but man it was nice.
The view from our room (!!) of Lake Louise
The hotel from the far end of the lake:
On our 14 k hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers:
The Teahouse at the end of the trail:
One of my favourite meals - cheese, then meat, then chocolate fondue. (who else had 3 course fondue dinners growing up in the 1970s? Yum Yum!) Here's the cheese:
A grizzly mama and her cubs and a grizzly bear den:
Nearby Moraine Lake (that's the actual colour!):
We left Indianapolis on Friday with more stuff than we have ever had in the van (including boxes of Jesse's childhood possessions and random new purchases from Costco, like glass bowls and a bottle of vodka).
Here it is waiting to be packed (not including the water bottles or the mattress!):
Jesse is the world's best packer- and I don't say that lightly. I had every confidence that he would get it in the van no problem. I even told Lee that he should learn this skill from his Dad. He said, "You mean he doesn't waste an inch of space?" He then laughed at his little rhyme and suggested it as an epitaph.
Jesse got it all packed, with plenty of room for us, and we headed off to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to visit some more family.
We spent a really lovely weekend with Jesse's Uncle Richard ("Unk Nunkey") and Aunt Joyce and they took us around to visit the rest of the family, including Jesse's Grandma Viola, Aunt Ginger, Aunt Roweena and Uncle Kent. Maxine had never met Grandma Viola, who is 93 and going strong.
Everyone loves a good fire- especially Gramaleta, Lee and Asa. They spent the whole afternoon outside today burning winter tree fall sticks and making our "easter dinner"- potatoes and sausages on the fire. Yum! (Note the suburban paradise backyard! Large lot, lots of trees- as well as "1010" in the background in all its glory)
Yesterday we made some beautiful eggs:
Last night, the Easter Bunny hid them in the yard:
Today, the kids found them:
Easter is a funny holiday for me. I was raised as a Christian, so I grew up with traditions such as Easter. As a non-Christian with Jewish family connections, I still find myself with the holiday traditions of my childhood. As much as I'd like to focus on the pagan roots of this Spring celebration, I still call it Easter.
Here are the kids after the hunt:
Maxine looking so sweet in the Easter dress that her Gramaleta bought her:
I can't resist putting all these pictures of her as she is changing so fast! Gramaleta and BuppaNa think she has grown so much and looks so older since she has been here and we have to agree.