Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yeah, I'm thankful for you, too

This month, the Bug's school had a spotlight on the Thanksgiving holiday, with a variety of extremely P.C. arts and crafts (I was partial to the Indian face with googly eyes, myself) and seasonal lessons.  Among other things, the kids have a big bulletin board in the front of the school, with each kid's face on a fall leaf.  The leaf says the thing that they're most thankful for.  About 75% of them say "mommy" or "daddy," with most of the rest being a sibling or a pet. 

The Bug's says "necklaces and bracelets."  No Mommy, no Daddy, not even her beloved Mima.  She's thankful for shiny things.

Last night when I tucked her in, I told her that today we'd all get to celebrate the things in our lives that we're most thankful for.  I told her that I'm thankful for her, for her baby sister and for her sweet Daddy.  She told me she's thankful for jewelery.  I prompted her, asked if she's thankful for me or Daddy.  She said "no," though she did add "...and the Bunny!" 

Yeah, I guess that's sweet.  But honestly, it's no consolation. 

All the best and happiest to you and yours!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Uncle Shane's passport stamping endeavors have continued at a ferocious pace, most recently taking him to Bali.  After a few days of work, he spent a little time relaxing in a tropical paradise.  While the absence of his lovely wife made him feel a bit like the ultimate third wheel in this honeymoon destination extraordinaire, I frankly don't feel too bad for him.

P.S. I feel like somewhere in the monkey card, there is a joke to be made.  Something along the lines of, "Looks like he found someone to spoon with after all!"  Right?...  Am I right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Easter Island

Easter Island, the debut novel by Jennifer Vanderbes, is a well written and impeccably researched book that tells the parallel stories of two women who came to the island in question 60 years apart.  Elsa Beazley, a young bride and the primary caregiver for her younger sister Alice, arrives in 1913 with her sister and her much older husband.  Beazley is an anthropologist sent to study the island's giant moai statues, and Elsa herself becomes engrossed by the island and its mysteries.  In 1973, biologist Greer Farraday goes on her own to understand the island's history through the study of centuries of pollen.  The two women come to terms with personal betrayals, study the island's people, culture and history, and try to solve the mystery of whatever happened there. 

Greer's story is particularly compelling.  This is her first solo research project, something conceived when she was working as a member of her better-known scientist/late husband's lab team.  Her work on Easter Island is largely conducted alone, giving her ample time to reflect on her disastrous marriage.  This provides great insight into gender inequities of the '60s and '70s, and helps to make Greer both the most complete and the most sympathetic character in the book.

Elsa, Alice and Beazley arrive on Easter Island with the knowledge that they will be there for years, perhaps longer.  They set up a camp and a research station. Elsa proves adept with languages and quickly becomes their primary translator and emissary to the native people.  Before long, she discovers the mysterious rongorongo, wooden tablets covered in a sort of heiroglyphic picture-language.  The language has long since been forgotten by all but the oldest natives, and she sets out to translate the tablets. 

A third story is interwoven with these, that of the German WWI Admiral Graf von Spee, whose connection to Elsa seemed just a little too neat and tidy.  The only other note I'd make is that this book is cram packed with scientific and historical data and explanation, which I found fascinating, but I suppose could drag a bit.

All in all, this is an extremely solid first novel, and I'm happy to have read it.  I will definitely be reading Vanderbes's second novel, Strangers at the Feast, before long.  It's worth mentioning again that Vanderbes is a college friend of mine, so... "Kudos to you, Jen - I'm totally impressed!"

Next up: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Bunny is one!

It's already been a year since our beautiful little Bunny joined us!  As the saying goes, time flies. 

We had an absolutely delightful birthday party on Saturday.  The weather was stunning, and we picnicked in Greenwich Point Park with Pop-pop, Aunt Katy and the cousins, Uncle Nick, Uncle Shane and Aunt Ali (poor Aunt Jessie was delayed by travel woes).  The Bunny loved being outside and walking all around the grass, and the other kids played tag and threw rocks into the Sound.  When cupcake time finally arrived, the Bunny did blow out her lone candle.  Then she sunk her hands deep into the cake and frosting and squish, squish, squished. 

The Bunny is certainly a happy little baby!  She is walking quite well now, and while she babbles nearly non-stop she doesn't say words other than "ma-ma" and "da-da."  She and the Bug are the best little friends, and they constantly make each other laugh.  She has a great appetite, and has been observed consuming enormous quantities of pasta, grapes or zucchini.  She's tipping the scales at over 20 pounds, though she is not an overachiever in the hair growing department.  The Bunny is a blast - what a fun age!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Show me some leg, baby

While it shows up frequently on out-of-towners' lists of New York things to do, going to see the Rockettes perform doesn't generally come up that much among the locals.  Most people I know have never even considered going.  But last night, through the generosity of my employer, I was able to take Joker and the Bug to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

Approaching Radio City, it really looked like Christmas: the lights were beautiful and the crowd was bustling.  (Whether I think it's appropriate for anything to look like Christmas in early November is another subject altogether.)  The venue is absolutely stunning, and looks tremendous with the lights and the decorations!  The staff handed a candy cane to everyone who entered, and the Bug was enthralled by the downstairs lobby, which was essentially an intricate candy store. 

The show, however, I could take or leave.  The Rockettes... well, frankly, they don't do it for me.  They are extremely skilled and their dancing is very mechanical and very precise and I sure as hell couldn't do it.  But it bores me.  Their singing is completely on pitch, but leaves me flat - at a Broadway show or the opera, I feel it in my heart when they sing; the Rockettes might as well have been a recording.

As for the Bug, well, she loved Santa.  I think she liked the Rockettes alright, but she really loved Santa.  When he first came on stage she sat up high and squealed - that little action made the whole night worth it.  When we all put on our 3-D glasses and watched Santa's ride to New York City, she was mesmerized.  And after it was over, the sweet thing put her glasses on precious Yellow Baby so that she could see Santa, too.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Saul Bellow's Herzog appears on any number of great books lists.  It's regarded as something of a masterpiece, largely because the exploration of the main character, Moses Herzog, is done through his prolific writing of unsent letters to people living and dead, famous and familiar.  Instead of fascinating me, as I expected it would, the book left me flat.  I didn't hate it, nor did I particularly enjoy it.

When the novel opens, Herzog is in the throes of a midlife crisis that coincides with his second divorce.  His literary and professorial career is on the skids and his second wife has left him for his best friend.  While he has been involved with a lovely and charismatic woman, he is unsure whether he is fit to enter into another serious relationship.  He's sunk his personal savings into a dilapidated house in the Berkshires.  His friends seem to think he's on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  Basically, Herzog is not in a very good place.

Throughout the limited action of the book, which essentially consists of Herzog unsuccessfully running away from his problems (to Martha's Vineyard, to New York, to Chicago, back to the Berkshires), Herzog is writing.  He writes letters short and long, some to people he has met, others to people long dead.  Some are quick notes to his girlfriend or his brother.  Others are lengthy diatribes to renowned intellectuals.  Through these letters we are thrust into the intricacies of Herzog's mind.  Compelling proposition, but frankly, his mind didn't really interest me.

Next up: Easter Island by Jennifer Vanderbes, a friend of mine from college.  50 pages in and I'm both intrigued by the story and impressed with her skills as a first-time novelist. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Last weekend - or, perhaps more accurately for anyone with kids, last month - was Halloween. The Bug in all her infinite girliness was (stand back!) a princess.  The Bunny, who doesn't yet have a say in the matter, was a little black kitty cat.  Incidentally, this puzzled the hell out of Sirius and Buffy, and her whiskers were extremely entertaining to her sister.

The festivities kicked off with a trip to the costume shop in mid-October.  I thought this was way ahead of the game, but apparently all the pink princess costumes had sold out weeks earlier.  While the Bug was a bit disappointed to be a blue princess, she was quite pleased with her sparkles and her "jewels." 

The following Friday was the school trip to the pumpkin patch, and I "chaperoned."  I use quotation marks because despite the lengthy set of instructions Miss Diana provided to all the parents in attendance, I pretty much had the Bug latched to either my hand or my leg the entire time.  I did extremely little actual chaperoning.  And I can pretty much guarantee that those teachers do not get paid anywhere near enough. 

The Friday after that was the school Halloween carnival, so the Bug and her friends all wore costumes to school.  Totally adorable.  And that evening was her school program.  I'm pretty sure the brownies we took were supposed to have been delivered to the school in the morning.  By any measure of accounting, I think am scoring a C (at best) in this pre-school thing. 

Sunday was the big day.  We visited our zoo in the morning, and went trick-or-treating in Joker's former 'hood with some friends.  The Bug is definitely a little shy - she insisted on holding my hand all the way up to every porch - but these kids have some sort of innate gene or something.  They are programmed to walk right up to complete strangers, most of whom have pretty freaky looking houses and countenances, and ask for candy.  And somehow, we are all OK with that.