Monday, March 31, 2008

Children of the revolution

Our Mr Four is a coloring book aficionado. We buy the Dover coloring books because both boys love the detail and the exciting subjects - dragons, knights, pirates, and, in this case, the American Revolution.

It took him two days to get this page done to his satisfaction. The little yellow things on the green grass are candy, "to get the bad guys to come close so the good guys can shoot them."

He colored each button on the soldiers' boots individually, and their hair is blue because he didn't have a grey marker. When he was done, and he presented it to me, he realized he hadn't signed it. The book was oriented with the bottom of the page toward me, so he wrote his name on it UPSIDE DOWN, getting only one letter reversed. (I smeared it out in the scan, to preserve his anonymity).

May I reiterate? He's FOUR.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Couldn't escape if I wanted to

new bracelet, originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.

I am usually resistant to the kawaii in this world. The Sanrio holds only glancing appeal; cute hair barrettes haven't tempted me since I was in junior high and my best friend Vivien and I painted our own with tiny miniature scenes and preppy stripes. Hrm: I wish I had some pictures of those - Vivien was really talented. Is, that is, except now she uses her talent by finding oil wells and making her kids' Halloween costumes instead of painting barrettes and making her own wedding dress.

Fast forward more years that you know how to count... and... the other day we stopped in at this terrific rug gallery in Culpeper, VA, looking for maybe a wall hanging for The Talented Cousin Rachel's changing room at her massage therapy office, which is now this awesome inside-the-heart shade of red with an oatmeal-colored carpet... and ok, the rugs were great, but crazy expensive... and there was this whole table full of beaded jewelry and sculptures. Man, there was a 6" long iridescent alligator that called to me (it sounded like "Aaruugghh" but really really quiet), but it was too expensive and besides we have WELL ENOUGH things that just sit there and look neat.

And you want to hear about the bracelet. I don't blame you. It has about seven of these beaded charms, all just as clever and intricate and adorable as can be. It closes with rare earth magnets, which - my god, how long has it taken humanity to come up with THAT!? Lobster clasps? Fuck you! Where's the Nobel prize for the magnetic bracelet-clasp person?

There are matching earrings, mismatched. There is a sweet necklace that reminded me of the LEGO necklaces Big Man's friend Faith the Boy makes for his mom. (Kirsten, man, that kid is going to be a GOLD MINE.)

It has everything that a charm bracelet should have, including moving parts:

(the dolphin's tail wiggles!)

and an Easter egg:

It comes in a box that is orange, tied with a silk repp tie,

and lined with FAKE GRASS!

And to cap it all off... there is NO perceivable online presence for this craftsperson! Not even on Etsy! Unless you can go to Culpeper, VA, you cannot have these cute cute cute cute cute cute so cute even I love them charms.

Or unless I'm spelling it wrong and my googling is flawed from the get-go.

Oh ok. I found an online presence - but you still have to find a local retailer.

Stop snivelin'!

In our social circle, Spring Break no longer means filthy road trips to littered Atlantic beaches (although we're in Virginia Beach right now). It no longer involves rugby tours to foreign nations, nor does it even mean a long week of sleeping in. It means coordinating our co-op child care for the week. Good thing we all have marvelous children.

It was my turn on Wednesday. I had Enchanted as a backup, but the weather was nice enough, and all four played in the back yard with nary a harsh word nor a bonk on the head. Paradise.

Now, I'm not the most entertaining or educational parent that watches these children - I tend to fold laundry while keeping an ear out for screams, instead of making forts or pound cake or taking them on hikes - but I do have one claim to fame that sooner or later some kid will call upon me to demonstrate. I draw on children. I don't draw well - fully half of the parents of these kids have art jobs or went to art school - but I give it a shot, and I admit my shortcomings. No kitties, no food, no horses. Puts me in a league with many real tattoo artists, I would say.

On this day we did two rounds of tattoos, and here's a picture of the first round: Mr Four has a face of his own design (which I would totally get tattooed on myself!), Nature Girl the classic skull and crossbones, Goldilocks wanted a butterfly, and Big Man a smaller skull - with an X.

Sharpie tattoos!

Later, in the second round, Four added a snowflake, Nature Girl a snake around the wrist, Goldilocks wanted a heart with an arrow, which turned out very well, and Big Man got a snake around the wrist too, "with the head coming all the way down my hand".

During the course of getting his snake, Big Man learned that "Boomslang" had been high on our list as a middle name for him, and he was absolutely enraged that we didn't pick it. (A boomslang is a poisonous southern African snake.) I tried to explain that we could not have known that he'd turn out to be so interesting and broad-minded, and so we picked something (marginally) less unusual. Then I caved and told him he could change it when he got older if he wanted.

Nature Girl doesn't have a middle name, so we tried out various snake names for her: Burmese python; Common garter; Horned asp. I think she settled on Anaconda. Copperhead would have fit better, but I thought it wise to avoid the code names of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fug the READ poster - Julia Stiles

It's March! I'm mad!

No, wait, that's not how it goes exactly I don't think. I don't know. I have never understood the whole brackets thing in the college basketball, and I'm not a gambler, although I do understand "Win or Go Home" - although it had to be explained to me more than once that not all sporting contests work that way.

But now. Now I get it. I have filled out my brackets, I have considered the potential matchups that might result from each victory or defeat, and I have hedged my bets. Because GoFugYourself is holding their own March Madness tourney, complete with AW-THENTICK sportswriter verbage. I LOVE IT. Not only that, but I GET IT.

And so, in the spirit of the fuggy madness, I give you... Miss Julia Stiles.

Not a seeded competitor in the tournament due to her excessive studiousness and unwillingness to wear shoes strapped to the outside of her pants, she still has made intermittent showings in the fug pages. A bad cover, a bad dress, a sheerness incident.

Enough embarrassment, apparently, to show up to her READ poster photo shoot dressed like... well... let's just say my colleague Dances With Chickens wore exactly this outfit to work today, prompting me to say, "Hey! Way to look like a librarian!" prompting her to complain that boyfriend had slacked on the laundry and that's why she was dressed like that. Me and my girls in the museum library in NYC used to dress like this Every Day in 1998. Long black skirts or knit pants, long black sweaters, black Dansko clogs... we looked like a murder of crows.

Listen, Stiles: when the librarians wear your outfit and think it's frumpy... it's frumpy.

Dances With Chickens? You looked perfectly fine today.

And me? I tried to compensate for my unshoweredness with a hairclip and a scarf and a cashmere sweater from Old Navely Maternity (I am not pregnant).

Sevigny FTW!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Were you looking to buy a house? RETRACTION

How about this one? It sure is nice, believe you me. We've lived in it for just about five years, and we love it.

We were thinking, though, that we needed more space. So we got some plans drawn up to Do Work on it. The plans, they were expensive, I will not lie. But our street is such a perfect place to live that moving was out of the question. So, when our lovely neighbor across the street had to sell her lovely (bigger) house because she has moved to Boston, we bought it. Just like that. Pretty much just like that.

So now we're selling our super-nice bungalow style house. Here are some photos, captioned with detailed information.

If you are interested in moving to Northeast Baltimore, where property values are low and community involvement is high, please email me. We can talk.

NOT selling the house. Gonna live in the house. Love the house. Is it going to be too small for us in the future? Probably. Does it have one and a quarter bathrooms, which is at least three-quarters of a bathroom too few? Definitely. I am NOT looking forward to using the same shower as my two preteen boys in 5 years. But I guess we'll figure that out sometime in the next 5 years.

We could have moved to the house across the street, and it would have been great. But the evidence supporting a move got weaker and weaker, and as we showed our place to prospective buyers, the catalog of its defects got shorter and shorter.

I still feel like a doofus though. Bob and I have declared a moratorium on making decisions for a while - we are obviously not as good at it as the people who pay us for our judgement think we are.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Were you looking to buy a house?

How about this one? It sure is nice, believe you me. We've lived in it for just about five years, and we love it.

We were thinking, though, that we needed more space. So we got some plans drawn up to Do Work on it. The plans, they were expensive, I will not lie. But our street is such a perfect place to live that moving was out of the question. So, when our lovely neighbor across the street had to sell her lovely (bigger) house because she has moved to Boston, we bought it. Just like that. Pretty much just like that.

So now we're selling our super-nice bungalow style house. Here are some photos, captioned with detailed information.

If you are interested in moving to Northeast Baltimore, where property values are low and community involvement is high, please email me. We can talk.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Abkadeffgee jekyll mnop querstu wycksizz

Every now and then when I'm working the children's desk I don't have the freedom to walk a patron to the book he/she is seeking.

Tonight I was on the phone when she came up looking for Moon Runner.

"That's by Marsden. The children's fiction is in alphabetical order by author along that wall. MARSDEN will be about three feet to the left of the corner, just there." And I point.

I kept helping the woman on the phone, who, weirdly, wanted to know which horse won the first and 6th races at Laurel Park. But I watched her walk over to exactly where I pointed.

After I hung up, she came back. "I didn't see it on the shelf. I didn't see any Marsdens."

I check the holdings in the catalog. There are 5 copies of the book supposedly on the shelf. "Huh. Let's go look."

Marsden comes after Macguire and before McDonald. There are the 5 copies, right where they are supposed to be, and I hand one to her.


Fug the READ poster - Keira Knightley

JANE: Hello, Keira.


JANE: How nice to see you again, dear.

KEIRA: Mmm-hmm.

JANE: Dear, your thumb is over my title.


JANE: You look well.

KEIRA: Right. Napoleonic is such a great look for me. I look like something out of Kate Greenaway!

JANE: Well, an Empire waistline does favor a more... feminine figure, I would say.

KEIRA: [snort]

JANE: Poor thing. It's really too bad that you've been imposed upon in this way. When I can think of so many of our lovely young British women that have been associated with my work... other lovely young women, I should say. You're lovely too, of course - everyone says so.

KEIRA: Yes. I'm a bloody flower.

JANE: Let's see... they could have asked dear Emma, of course, or Rosamund Pike. Either Kate would have done: Beckinsale or Winslet...

KEIRA: Yes, well it's the two of us here so let's just take the picture.

JANE: ... Samantha Morton, I'm sure she's an avid reader... Embeth Davidtz...

KEIRA: RIGHT. Is someone out there? SNAP THE PHOTO, will you?

JANE: ... Gwyneth Paltrow...

KEIRA: Ok, look, I didn't say anything about Embeth because she's South African at least, but Paltrow isn't even remotely English.

JANE: Oh but she tries so hard. So well educated, and what breeding! You know she's actually read my books.


JANE: ...Aishwarya Rai...

KEIRA: That's it, I'm out of here.

JANE: And get your hair out of your eyes! Really, one meets the most appalling people...

As always, my hat is off to Buy their book!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Or maybe my middle name is "Whiplash"

I SAID, "If it looks like she's willing to sell to us, go ahead and buy the house," but I didn't expect to get an email at work that said, "Well, its ours." That was last night.

This is what I look like whenever I remember that, oh yeah, we have to sell our house and move in the next two months.

I'm off to Home Depot, unless anyone local can lend me a spline tool. Since there's so much to do, I'm going to start with the ripped window screen in the front. "Arbitrary" is my middle name.

Or, the entire kindergarten class


That's less than I would have thought, but in reality, a concerted effort by Kai and Jeremiah would probably take me out. Those kids are fierce.

Thanks to Tracey for the tip-off.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend

I was being attacked the other day by both children, who love me, and who love my blue cashmere sweater even more. The four-year-old was laying on top of me cooing to my sweater. "Sooo soft, I love you, sweater!" The six-year-old was scrambling for access, and in the process jabbed me in the tit.


"Sorry, Mom."

"It's ok, but please watch your elbows, ok?"

"I know, Mommy. With Daddy I have to be careful of my knees, and with you I have to be careful with my elbows."

And there you have it. Boys are different than girls.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I call that a radical interpretation of the text

LEVEL!, originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.

I have three words for you, if you live in an old(ish) frame house with sagging floors and not a ninety-degree angle to be found:


I bought a set of these leetle fellas at my local Depot of Home, flipped the IKEA TV stand over, and whipped out my cordless drill. I dominated that item of furniture, yo.

When I turned it back upright, I screwed out the stem glides until the bubble in the level showed up mostly in the middle. I believe this makes it the only level object in the whole house.

ALSO: I planted 60 square feet of peas and carrots in the vegetable bed, and prepared a new 6x3' bed to receive the tomato and pepper plants that should arrive in early May. I used my cultivator, a six-foot pike with three vicious claws on the end. I love that tool. I can twirl it like some demon majorette. I could fend off a horde of drunken vampire rednecks with that thing, and don't think that's not what's going through my mind as I am levering out colonies of sawgrass and breaking up wads of compost.

ALSO: I fixed the composter. OUT, baby mice!

I finally found a coatrack to replace the orange wooden giraffe that we've been using, and I got that put together; and I replaced the lamp by the stairs that was just never right. The new lamp by the stairs looks right. Although what I had to go through to unplug the old one and plug the new one in?

Well let's just say they're never gonna take me at the convent after that.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


img159, originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.

So there I was all excited about the nice new TV stand I bought at IKEA and put together with zero cursing and no blood, and then I put it in place, and I find out that because of the way the floor sags in that room, anything I put in there immediately looks like a listing barn on the Eastern Shore, perhaps with a rusted El Camino up on blocks out front.

God damn it.