I found this in Nina’s homework folder last night.

If there was ever any doubt about thoroughly explaining the debeaking process to a seven-year old, well, we underestimate these little people far too often.

Oof, I love her so.

Nina's amendment

If I could write my own law or rule for the constitution, it would be…

to not torture animals and cut off their beaks and tails.

I would write this law because…

it hurts and can kill the animals just with pain.


How a piece of toast led to a Phoebe Buffay song, in 10 steps

Oh the cow in the meadow goes “moo”
Oh the cow in the meadow goes “moo”

Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up
And that’s how we get hamburgers.

Nowwwww chickens!

1. I made some toast this morning, which reminded me of the JD Salinger story For Esmé – with Love and Squalor.

2. Because, you know, Sergeant X offers some of his toast to Esmé.

3. Also, probably because I recently read a New Yorker piece comparing and contrasting two particular Russian translations (Nemtsov vs. Rait-Kovaleva) of Catcher in the Rye.

4. I re-read the article, which prompted me to think about my favorite novels that have been (successfully, I think) translated into English. They are: The Little Girl and the Cigarette, by Benoît Duteurtre; Blindness, by José Saramago; The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende; The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery; and 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.

5. 1Q84 and The Elegance of the Hedgehog make me crave simple Japanese food, especially stir fries and ramen.

6. At my house, anything resembling ramen is referred to as Ponyo noodles.

7. Speaking of Ponyo, in the American version Sosuke’s mother is voiced by Tina Fey.

8. Who used to work with Molly Shannon.

9. Which reminded me that I finally got around to watching Year of the Dog last weekend, and of how the protagonist Peggy (Molly Shannon’s character) sponsored a rescue chicken on behalf of her her six-year old niece, drove her to visit said chicken, and then attempted to take this little girl into a chicken slaughterhouse. (Gotta love Mike White’s humor.)

10. This all reminded me of how Phoebe Buffay – a character on a show I loathed but had one saving grace, Phoebe’s daffy songs – had a much better approach.

And that is how I arrived at her rendition of Barnyard Animals.

Nina randomness + film notes

Pic-08222013-002Someone just found out her kindergarten boyfriend is going to be in her first grade classroom.
9164385124_bc8ce93f71_b 9162162705_43a4cd0e9d_b 9162162747_62f3dce48b_bShe loves chia pudding so much that she made a series of video tutorials for her cousins this summer while we were camping.

  • When something looks/sounds/appears scary and she wants to avoid it, she labels it as being “too Voldemorty.”
  • When she pretends something looks/sounds/appears scary and she’s really just trying to put off going to bed, she labels it “inappropriate for children.” It is her Malkovitch-oreo-cookie tell.

Film notes:

This summer our movie viewing has been hijacked by re-watching every episode of Breaking Bad, but we’ve managed to also watch a few movies here and there. (When we’re not sucked into episodic television, we average five films a week.) I track most of them online but I’m horrible at reviewing them in a timely manner; and when someone asks me what I thought about a film I’d like to be able to say more than “meh” or “avoid it like the plague” or “watch it or I’ll never talk to you again!” So, a few film notes.

The standouts:
Martha Marcy May Marlene // Mary Last Seen Haunting; made me feel emotionally claustrophobic. Sarah Paulson was every bit as amazing as Elizabeth Olsen. The short film Mary Last Seen (made before the full length feature, and exploring the same themes) affected me even more.
Haywire Hard to describe because I don’t want to pigeonhole it, but you’ll know within 15 minutes if this is for you or not. One of my favorites by Soderbergh.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Carell : this movie as Carrey : Man on the Moon. Kiera Knightley, you’re off my shit list. The words “bucket list” used to make me twitchy; thank you, Rob Corddry, for changing that.
Upstream Color No, it’s not like Primer. Yes, it’s disorienting. And beautiful and confusing and moving and if you don’t pay 100% attention to this it will make your brain hurt. If you do pay full attention it will still make your brain hurt, but in a good way.
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga Who am I kidding – I cannot give an objective review of anything Herzog, because my husband took me to a Herzog film on our first date.

Films I didn’t care for upon viewing but have grown on me since:
Midnight in Paris Rachel McAdams made me want to turn this off a thousand times; Michael Sheen made me want to replay all of his scenes over and over again. I try so hard to see Owen Wilson as anyone other than a person who wanted to off themselves over Kate Hudson. To Woody Allen’s credit, this movie almost accomplished that.
Zero Dark Thirty Glad I stuck it out to the end, although I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

Guilty pleasure films I enjoyed for reasons other than plot, good acting or directing:
The Cabin in the Woods This took me so far back to my 80s childhood movie collection that every time I saw Bradley Whitford on screen, his Too Cool license plate from Adventures in Babysitting flashed before my eyes. It also made me want to re-watch Friday the 13th Part VII.
Star Trek Into Darkness My experience while watching this film: Mickey Smith! RoboCop! And then BAM, I was Cumberbatched.
X2 Watched this with Nina, and she was quite taken with “the little blue fella.” I see a new comic book collection in her future.
Elysium As soon as I realized Diego Luna and Alice Braga were both in this, I just sat back and enjoyed it for the overblown popcorn flick that it was.

Films so awful my eyes bled:
The Lone Ranger No. Just, no.
Beautiful Creatures Mute your television and pretend you’re in the gothic South while doing anything but paying attention to this horrible, horrible movie.
Collateral Damage Thanks to this movie, my husband experienced his first Two Thumbs Up burn.

It’s my duty

As the mother of a kindergartener, I feel duty-bound to share certain things with you: a decent first day of school photo, perhaps a couple of fancy-looking-but-effortless-to-prepare homemade school lunch ideas, the obligatory account of how I had to choke back tears as I escorted my baby girl to her classroom on her first day of kindergarten.

But since I’m me – always running 30 seconds behind schedule, no camera at hand when I create anything in the kitchen worth sharing, nary a sentimental bone in my body — this is not that post.  I did shed tears – of joy! of freedom! —  but I like to keep that special moment to myself.  It was bliss.

Instead, I present to you a grainy, blurry, somewhat overexposed photograph of Nina twirling in front of our wisteria tree, taken with my mobile while I juggled a backpack, a purse, a gym bag and two lunches.

And another, taken with an actual camera, that’s so overexposed it looks like I took it during a nuclear explosion.

Technology is not my strongest suit.

What I can tell you about Nina’s first week, photo-less, is this:

• The one person she didn’t get along with in pre-school is not only in her classroom, not just at her table, but sits right next to her

• They are getting along splendidly

• Maybe too splendidly, as they were both put in time out on day one for playing “too enthusiastically”

• She loves riding the bus home

• She still has boundless energy (if anyone tells you that school wears kids out, I’m here to counter that it’s a big, fat urban myth).

• We have confirmed that she’s not a morning person.

This photo was taken during one of this summer’s camping trips, and I love every surly little hate-the-morning bone in her body.

Hooray, kindergarten!

Black magic.

It’s funny how the most obvious thing can take forever to reveal itself to you.  I live in this magical little hamlet, yet for the longest time it just wasn’t *home*.  And then one day, just like that, it was.

I’ve been a resident for 3 years, 7 months, and 16 days; and on one of those days not too long ago my mind and heart quietly, unceremoniously made the switch.

After innumerable hours spent with my fingers in the dirt, countless miles run along back country roads and around my pond, and raising a happy menagerie of one daughter, six cats and five hens on our little 15 acre corner of the world . . . in the end all it took was a really good cup of coffee.  Oh, that magical black elixir. 

It helps that the brewed-to-perfection coffee is served in a space where I’m equally comfortable working away from the office, catching up on my reading, staring aimlessly out the window, or watching Nina make good use of the immense collection of games, building blocks and Lincoln Logs while sipping *her* brewed-to-perfection Sunday treat: a not-too-hot, vegan cocoa. 

Yes, there is a lovely general store that carries everything from petrol and biodiesel to local/organic produce, good quality GF pasta, Sunshine burgers and Dandies, as well as an owner/chef whose food has developed a cult following.

A cult following so strong that it led to his opening, within walking distance, a spectacular gastropub that sparked Nina’s love affair with Brussels sprouts.

A fantastic – and free! – summer long weekly music festival/farmer’s market.

A music venue that has people coming in droves.

But for this dyed-in-the-wool Chicagoan, who still feels a bittersweet pang whenever she thinks of the concrete jungle she left behind three years and seven point five months ago to try her hand at subsistence farming on a 15-acre slice of solitude, the coffee house is what made this quiet, harmonious community feel like home.

If you read the NYT travel section then you may have already heard about my little corner of the world.

It feels good to be home.


*image #s 5, 6a, 6c and 7-10 courtesy of barnstarfarm via Flickr

random thoughts on atheism for absolutely no reason

I may not be a militant, in your face atheist, but I’m definitely a member.  The quote below sums up exactly how I feel on the subject.  The comic is just funny.  And probably true. 😉

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but…will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” — Marcus Aurelius

comic source


My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.