Monday, June 30, 2008

is it terrible

that now that my maple floors are in I wish I'd put in walnut? The maple is yellower than I expected. I much prefer the brown cork we put in the kitchen, which is about walnut color. I said something to J about it last night and he said, "I was waiting for you to say that. I didn't think it would take long." Wasn't that mean?

Of course I realize that if I'd put the walnut in, I would have thought, "Gee, should have gone with the maple." I know that about myself but it doesn't make it go away.

I'll get some photos up once we have the baseboards. My in-laws are visiting and my fil is doing the baseboards. Plus I don't see the camera anywhere. J must have taken it with him to Morocco. He gets back Thursday.

Which reminds me, has anyone seen "The Man Who Knew Too Much?" Can someone tell me what Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart were doing in that movie? I like those two, but not together and definitely not in that movie. It could have been so cool with different actors. Ok, now that I look it up, seems that Hitchcock did a remake of his own movie. The original 1934 version starred Leslie Banks and Edna Best.

Can you tell I'm tired? Well, I am.

Friday, June 27, 2008

the boy is eight




Eight years ago today we were blessed with the birth of a beautiful (well, maybe not for a few weeks...) little boy. Though he was the heaviest of my newborns at 8 lbs 6 oz, and had a substantial head circumference, it was actually my easiest birth.

Georgie and Lidia were both baptized on their eighth birthday. Marcus will be baptized this summer in Maine. Sebec Lake, in fact!

He made this "invention" this morning at 6 am. It is, according to the sign, a "2 pepole tv couch." (You have to cut my boy some slack in the spelling department. He doesn't start spelling in English until next year.) The sign further informs: "Marcus olways has the controls. Made by Marcus. Mostaly made for birthday pepole."

A fellow Irish dance mom and I were talking last night about heart-stopping things young children will do to your house. It reminded me of this journal entry I wrote from Marcus's perspective when he had just turned two. Bernie was about 6 weeks old and I was trying to get myself and everyone else ready for church.

Sunday June 30, 2002. 8:05 am—Mama is in the shower. I find the sugar bowl. I dump sugar on the table, chairs, and under the table. I sprinkle sugar on every downstairs surface I can, including sofas, chairs, carpet, books, toys, pillows… 8:25 am—Mama is putting on make up. I get hold of the baby lotion and squirt it on the carpet in the upstairs hall and then in my room. I enjoy rubbing it in to the carpet. I open my closet door and squirt the lotion all over the books and blankets stored there. 8:30—Mama notices the nice job I did with the baby lotion and when she goes downstairs to get something to clean it up with, she sees my sugar land. 8:32--Mama runs upstairs and calls Papi at his church meeting. She is saying, “Help! Help!” Her pretty mascara is streaming down her face. Maybe she needs help with her make up. I go into the bathroom and get her mascara. I try it on my eyes, nose, mouth, arms, and legs. Maybe I will rub it into the carpet in the hall like the baby lotion. Yes, that’s a good idea. I do it. 8:50—Papi is home. It takes Mama and Papi forty-five minutes to clean up. Then we go to church.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

a quiet sabbath





It's been so quiet here today. The children spent all afternoon reading the scriptures, writing letters to invalids, and speaking in hushed tones about their Sunday school lessons.

As you can see.

A certain "friend" suggested that we have a carpet-ruining party before the big tear-out. (Make sure a toddler isn't looking over your shoulder at this!)

The big flooring works start tomorrow morning. We'll be out and about this week since we can't be at our home during the day. We'll only come home to sleep. I probably should have planned a trip somewhere, but it didn't happen.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

play ball




He got a great hit today past second.

the secret fall of constance wilde


Saw this last night at the Guthrie. The set was a grimy Victorian way station and four black-clad "puppeteers" put Oscar Wilde, his wife Constance, and his lover, Alfred Lord Douglas, through the scenes of their tragic story. The costumes and set were perfect and the performances were very impressive. Marcela Lorca directed, and I wonder if this is her first time as a director at the Guthrie. In the past, she's been the movement director. Anyway, I think she did a fabulous job. Impeccable, save a couple dance numbers by the puppeteers that I could have done without. The production was mesmerizing. I loved the brooding, otherworldly music sung by the puppeteers and played on piano and cello.

Too bad the play itself was unworthy of such a high-caliber production. Playwright Thomas Kilroy claims that he was attracted to the story of Wilde's love triangle by the unknowns. Why did Constance continue to give money to Wilde until her death after he had treated her so horribly? After being accused of gross indecency, why did Oscar stay in England instead of fleeing?

After I spent half the night thinking about this play, I've come to the conclusion that it suffers from two major problems: clashing themes that give it an uneven, out-of-proportion feel, and what I can only describe as "falseness."

Falseness first. This play would have us believe that Oscar Wilde loves his wife. I see no evidence of that in the play beyond the very beginning when they first meet. The play does a very good job showing how completely and utterly consumed by self Oscar is. As such, he is incapable of love. At one point in the play I almost gasped in disbelief. Constance finally asks Oscar for a divorce. He pleads with her that she not divorce him. He says words to the effect that "if you divorce me I will be obliterated," thinking only of himself, of course. She continues to insist. Then he says something else, but I'm not going to paraphrase because I just don't remember. It was a strong expression of love. Constance replies something like, "Just when I think I know what I'm doing, you go and say something like that" and they embrace. I'm sorry, but that's not love. Those are pretty words. Though Oscar sees how miserable he makes his family, in the play he never makes the slightest effort to change his vile behavior.

The playwright's answer to why Oscar Wilde faces his charges instead of fleeing is that he feels he must stand up to the forces in the country who "hate love." I assume this refers to the uptight Victorians who do not accept flagrant homosexuality. So Wilde is supposed to be some sort of savior figure for gays. (Like he needs additional self-importance.) This is all conveyed in a perplexing scene between Constance and Lord Douglas, where Lord Douglas persuades Constance to write a note to Oscar expressing her support for his staying to face the charges rather than fleeing. But then it seems that Lord Douglas never delivers the note. We don't know why. And it completely baffles me why Constance would write this note of support in the first place when she has just learned that Oscar's behavior included the corruption of young boys and other depravities.

Which brings me to the conflicting themes. *spoiler alert* The climax of the play is an immensely disturbing scene revealing that Constance suffered sexual abuse by her father. However, it is strangely anti-climactic after all of the horrors her husband has put her through. See what I mean by a proportion problem?

Speaking of proportion problems, I saw this morning that several reviewers warn that there is nudity in the play. Nudity? That was very far from being the most disturbing scene in the play. It's brief and not frontal. The Guthrie website discloses that there is "smoking." Uh-huh. No one mentions the shocking depiction of child abuse, nor the fairly explicit homosexual make-out and groping scenes. I suppose it is considered gauche now to notice such a thing as being any different from a heterosexual make-out, grope scene.

Oscar Wilde is very disappointing as a character. He is not sympathetic in any way, shape, or form. We keep hearing about how complex and interesting Oscar is, but all I could see was a big baby. Constance, on the other hand, seems formidably intelligent, strong, and free of pretensions. It is unclear what she sees in Oscar as time goes by. Lord Douglas is a cretin. Most of the time he is the stereotypical gay man: mincing, preening, and supremely shallow. So when occasionally he's given some lines of insight or supposed wisdom, you're not sure if it's meant in earnest or in irony.

I wonder how the gay community reacts to "The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde." I wonder if they are uncomfortable with the stereotypes. To some extent they obviously want to be portrayed as monogamous upholders of family values who want nothing more than marriage and adoption rights and the opportunity to help those less fortunate--the stylistically-challenged. This play does not depict that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

gaudy night

I read most (possibly all?) of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels back in high school and loved them. I just finished rereading Gaudy Night.

This is one of the last Wimsey novels, so there are already five years of history between Harriet Vane, a writer of mystery novels once accused of murdering her lover, and Lord Peter Wimsey, the "perfect British gentleman" and sleuth who saved her from the gallows. Harriet returns to Oxford for a reunion, or "gaudy night," to find that all is not well there.

There is, of course, mystery, and a little romance, but what grabs me the most about this book are the ideas. Sayers had lots of ideas about women and their choices. She looks very closely at women who choose academic careers in pre-WWII England, what their thought processes are, what makes them tick.

My hand was itching for the red pen. Here's what I would have crossed out without a second thought: yards and yards of obscure classical references. How do I know they are "obscure?" I don't have a classical education. I know because the entire bulk of classical poetry does not contain as many lines as there are quoted in this book.

What I would have given a second thought to crossing out, and in many cases the red pen would win: conversations that in no way further the plot. The thing is, some of them contain the interesting ideas I referred to above. So I'd have to keep some in just because I enjoyed them. It wouldn't be for the good of the book.

There are some paragraphs or pieces of paragraph that stand out like gleaming, outrageously-tinted beetles on the murky floor of a rain forest. (That wasn't so great, right? I haven't Sayers's gift for appropriate metaphor.) Turns out Sayers worked for years in advertising, likely where she learned to come up with these attention-grabbing turns of phrase.

Peter Wimsey is delightful. Harriet Vane? Didn't thrill me. A little ho-hum for a protagonist if you ask me. Also, though the mystery was interesting, the solution as well as the confrontation with the perpetrator at the end are a bit silly.

It's an interesting look at Oxford and the British upper classes between the wars.

I don't know if I should give it 4 stars out of 5. Maybe 3.5. I did like it, but I would probably only recommend it to a few people, and even then not without qualifiers.

he's back




J made it back from the Boundary Waters in one piece. They had some canoeing adventures in high winds, but it seems they enjoyed themselves overall. Looks a lot like Maine, right?
In response to some comments:

The answer to "Who's awesome?" is, of course, "the Celtics, baby!" Game four was sweet, though I definitely could have stood for a few more close ups after the game of disappointed Lakers fans. Is that wrong? It's just that the movie stars all looked so smug at half time. Gabriela, I forgive your husband for being a Lakers lover, because he's from California, right? So it's an illness he probably contracted in childhood.

Ave, I would love to post some before and after pics of my new floors. Oh, how I would love that, because it would mean they'd be finished already! Sadly, they haven't even been started. The wood floors go in the week of June 23 and the carpets the following week. So maybe we'll have some photos up around July 4th.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

who's awesome?


misc.

It took 24 hrs to do all that painting. I should have mentioned that I didn't need to be careful of my floors since they're all coming out. So I didn't have to mess with a drop cloth.

My walk route includes a trail near a lake. This morning I saw three snapping turtles laying eggs right on an unpaved part of the trail! Last year I saw the leathery shells left behind after the baby turtles had hatched. The nests are not as close to the lake as I would have expected.

I would have loved to go back and take pictures, but J took the camera to the boundary waters. He left yesterday to go camping with some friends--the first time he's ever taken a fun trip by himself. He went through agonies about leaving work and family behind, but I strongly encouraged him to go. Not, I must admit, for purely unselfish reasons. Now I get to take a little personal vacation sometime. ;-) I hope he's o.k. There's no cel coverage, and we've never gone this long without talking. Since we met.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

done

So the painting is not completely done, but I am. I think I'll get J to help me with the last little bit--the top of our vaulted entry. Read: I'm going to get J to do it.

Guess how many hours it took me to paint two bedrooms, upstairs hall, entry, living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, and downstairs family room.

giant georgie



For the past few days, Georgie has been tired and aching all over. She's been sleeping a lot. I assumed she was coming down with something.

About five days ago we measured her height and she was still holding at 5 ft 3/4 in. She weighed 82 lbs (she takes after the willowy Elizondo women.)

Tonight she weighed herself. And then weighed herself again. What? she shouted. How can I weigh 91.5 lbs? She made the other kids weigh themselves and there was nothing amiss, so it wasn't the scale. I asked her if she'd been hitting the Doritos a little harder than usual. She got out the tape measure and sure enough, she'd grown one and 1/4 inches. She's made it to 5'2''.

Poor thing! No wonder she felt so poorly. She grew more than one inch in less than five days, and gained 10 percent of her body weight.

The photo is from a breakfast the kids put on when my parents were visiting. Lidia cooked, Marcus waited table, Georgie cooked, served, and managed, and Bernie looked cute. There was even a very fancy menu. There were two sizes of pancakes, regular and grande. But then Grampie and J made them add "massive." I got a photo of that menu, but now I can't find it or any of the ones I took. Here are some Mom took.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

feis results

Weirdly enough, I didn't get ANY photos at the Madison feis. No photos are allowed at the stages, but I should have taken a few shots elsewhere. This one is from a St. Pat's performance.


I love watching Irish dance, especially when Lidia is the one dancing. Dance has been a positive influence in her life in many ways, but the fun part for Lidia is the opportunity to compete. She has been working especially hard the past few weeks in preparation for this competition, and it really paid off! She placed in all of her dances: first in treble jig, first in reel, second in hornpipe, third in slip jig, and fourth in light jig.

I should explain (or I will whether you care or not :-)) that there was an enormous difference in her competition in the two dances she placed first in. Irish dance competitions are organized by age and also level of ability. Lidia did not place first, second, or third last year in her reel or hornpipe, so she had to stay in a lower level for those. The other three dances are novice level, one of the most competitive levels in her age group. It was a major deal that she got that first place in treble jig--the other girls in her group were very good. However, she didn't have good competition in the lower level reel. In fact, this might sound weird, but I was almost embarrassed by how much better she was than the other girls in that group. It was awkward.

When Lidia was right in the middle of her light jig, her last dance of the day, the fire alarm went off. It turned out to be a prank, but it was still "alarming." By odd coincidence, at that same moment an announcement was made that we were under tornado warning. I was thinking, "Whatever. Just let my girl finish her jig." After a few minutes all the stages resumed their dances and Lidia finished the jig.

In the past few months Lidia's had a huge growth spurt. Not so much physically, although I guess she did just grow into a new clothing size. What I see in Lidia is that her ability to focus and work hard has suddenly grown by leaps and bounds. Last week one of her dance teachers made a positive comment on Lidia's focus during class. On Friday her violin teacher asked me, "Are all of your children like this? So focused and intense?" I mumbled some reply--I didn't know what to say. All of my children have the ability to focus on something that interests them for large amounts of time--but they don't always apply it consistently. Lidia didn't, but now she does. I think seeing some tangible results for her efforts has been a huge motivator.

Friday, June 06, 2008

i'm glad

I have the kind of kids who, when it's raining cats and dogs, realize it's the opportune time to crank up the music and dance on the deck. Sorry I don't have a photo. I didn't actually see it. That's what J came home to last night while I was out running an errand.

It think they'll be just fine in this life if they can make that much fun for themselves.

Lidia and I are on our way to Madison today. She has a feis (Irish dance competition) there tomorrow. Wish her well!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

cutie pies


Bernie's kindergarten class performed a Chilean dance this morning. It was so fun! Bernie put a lot of energy into the performance. She and her two friends here were pulled aside by the librarian for pictures because they're extra cute. :-) The librarian was nice enough to email these copies.
Why didn't I get pictures? Because I didn't get there early enough. The performance was scheduled for 10 am. Yesterday, it seems, some parents got an email saying it was switched to 9:45. Luckily I planned to get there a few minutes early so I could take some photos, so the performance was just beginning when I arrived. J missed it entirely. I am so annoyed by this. I really love this school for so many reasons, but the communication from the teachers and the administration has left much to be desired.
I've had that feeling lately that I'm doing absolutely nothing well. I can't get it right. There are not many aspects of my life I'm enjoying right now. Probably because I keep screwing up.
I feel like curling up with a stack of books for like two weeks.