Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Last year, when my whole family went to Mexico, we befriended the giant iguana who hung out by the playground.  We named him/her, of course, in true Democratic fashion: by each refusing to accept the other suggested names, and instead tacking them all together.  Which is how Guanie (the Bug's suggestion) Otis (Boppie.  duh.) Mary Poppins (that's me) got his/her name.

Apparently Guanie Otis Mary Poppins is still alive and well, and sending good cheer to the girls by way of Mima & Boppie's postcard from their trip to the Riviera Maya last week.  Lovely to see you again, my dear sir/madam.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter sports

Before Joker and I had kids, we were pretty enthusiastic participants in some of the most expensive and least kid-friendly sports out there: scuba diving, snowboarding and golf.  Suffice it to say, we've done far less of all three since the Bug was born.  Our last ski trip was four years ago this spring, and it was our only one of that season.

Since the Bug has always been timid about new things, we weren't yet holding our breath about getting her into skiing.  We had talked with her about trying to ice skate this year - the Evergreen Lake is just way too awesome not to use it! - and we'd hoped that getting her up on skis would follow.  So imagine our surprise last weekend when we had not one but two incredible successes!  She tried skating at the Lake, and loved it, on Saturday.  And on Monday she skied with Joker and one of her best buddies from school! 

First "run" down the bunny slope
So, it is looking like we will, in fact, be back on the slopes before too long.  The Bunny isn't exactly ready to try it herself, but after watching the post-lesson Bug swoosh her way down solo, I am sure she'll want to join in the fun, too.  Now if we can just get them interested in golf...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It took about three sittings to finish Ann Moray's charming novella Gervase, but before the review I'd like to share a little about the author.  She was a very close friend of Joker's grandmother's (and his parents), and she was my brother-in-law's godmother.  She lived what I think of as the glamorous life of a New York socialite: born in Wales, studied music in Vienna, married a Venezuelan diplomat.  But the lovely stories of her that I've been told include the afternoon when Joker was a boy, and Ann Moray taught him about the fairies who lived in the lawn, and how to step carefully around and over them to keep them safe. 

Ann Moray, jacket photo (c Marcus Blechman)

So I was more than a little interested to read one of her four books, which Joker had recently completed as well.

Gervase tells the story of a girl in rural Maine who suffered a brain injury in an accident at age 13.  It left her unable to grasp much academically, but she gained the ability to read other people's thoughts.  Enter Gervase, the baby deer, who she can also understand. Maeve and Gervase become inseparable, and their adventure together is very charming.  Gervase helps Maeve to navigate - and to help bring together - both her world and that of the animals around them. 

I could have lived without the C.S. Lewis/Aslan-ian parallel to Christianity (which I am not particularly fond of in the Chronicals of Narnia, either), and the prologue is completely unnecessary, but both of those can probably be chalked up to the book's being written in 1970. Moray might not go down into the annals of the great 20th Century authors, but I would absolutely recommend this book to younger readers (or to people who knew the author personally, of course).  It's not easy to get your hands on, being rather out of print, but if you've got 10-year-old girls around and can track it down, I think you'll be glad you did.  And I most certainly look forward to the Bug and the Bunny enjoying this in a few years.

Next up:  The Magicians by Lev Grossman.  I'm also working my way through the graphic novel The Walking Dead (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn).  The intensely scary AMC series is based on this - and somehow, the comics are both scarier and more intense. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New gig, special twist

So as I mentioned before, I've started a new job.  I'm running business development for a start-up called Collector's Quest - they've built a platform to connect buyers and sellers of collectibles and antiques.  To boil it down, imagine a marketplace for small retailers in this space (a la Etsy, but not for handmade goodies) that employs algorithms to identify a user's specific interests (think Match.com).  Collectibles and antiques represent a huge market, it's very fragmented and offline today, and we've got some smart media people behind us to help drive usage.  So, feeling good.

One of the best things shouldn't be omitted: I am working from home.  This is a new thing for me and I'm psyched.  First and foremost, I'm very excited about CQ and what I can do to help grow the business.  No work-from-home situation would be worth it if I didn't believe the company itself was a winner.  But now I have a level of flexibility that I've never had before.  I can work full time and still pick my kids up from school/daycare every day, go to all their performances, be the class mom. 

Spending the past six months at home solidified two things in my mind.  First, I need to work.  It makes me a better mom and a better wife, and it makes me happy.  I feel important, satisfied that I matter to the world.  And second, I like spending time with my kids, just doing our daily whatevers, more than I ever thought I would.  I thought I'd hate the full-time mommy role, and there were things that drove me nuts, but I really enjoyed the extra cuddle time at nap or taking the kids to the zoo mid-week.  The Bunny and the Bug are (generally) super fun to hang out with!

So I feel like this is a huge coup for me.  An exciting new company that I believe has an opportunity to really make it, and that I truly believe I'll help to succeed.  Plus an uber-flexible schedule that will allow me to spend more time with the kids.  I'm ironing out the balancing act, but that'll come.  And when it does, everyone will win - my boss, my kids, my husband and me.  Yay.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out Stealing Horses

Happy 2012!  May your year be filled with adventure, laughter and love.  If you're lucky, you'll get some good books in there, too.

Out Stealing Horses was an unexpected treat - I chanced upon it, decided to read it based on nothing but the review excerpts on the back and very much enjoyed it.  It's written by Per Petterson, who is something of a star Norwegian author, if such a thing is even possible, and was translated into English by Anne Born in 2007 to rave reviews.  I expect we'll see even greater future successes from this author/translator team.

The book tells of Trond Sander, a man approaching 70 who decides to move to a rustic cabin in remote eastern Norway.  He views the place as something of a fixer-upper, and plans to spend his days methodically preparing for the coming winter and the years beyond.  A chance encounter with a neighbor sets Trond into reminiscing about his summer of 1948, the last he spent with his beloved father.

Trond's friend Jon appeared on the doorstep most mornings with the day's plan of action in his head.  He was a couple of years older than Trond, and a local in the small town that Trond and his father were staying in this particular summer.  The two friends shared moments of adventure, but rarely spoke of anything consequential.  The days in this river town were spent in physical work and the enjoyment of nature.  As the summer progressed, Trond found himself discovering more of his father's life and secrets than he perhaps ever wished to do.

The parallel struggles of Trond and his neighbor preparing for winter, intertwined with Trond's recollection of that summer, tell twin stories of loss and yearning.  Petterson's prose is sparse, pointed and captivating.  Out Stealing Horses is a lovely book, one where the enjoyment lies as much in the language itself as it does in the plot.

Next up: Gervase, a very short novel written by Ann Moray, one of Joker's grandmother's dear friends.  I understand that it's about a stag, which seems particularly fun to read living among Evergreen's elk!