21 March 2010

Summer Rain

Early last evening we stepped outside to drive to the movies and smelled a scent we rarely smell here in Washington - light new rain hitting hot cement. That's a Utah smell, a Queen's Creek smell, a Leavenworth smell. It's not a Seattle smell, at least not very often, and definitely not a Seattle in March smell.

After three weeks trapped inside I was vulnerable. The smell, that lovely wet cement smell, drifted to me and caught me unawares almost buckling my knees with its potency. Instantly I was in other places, different seasons; my children babes, marriage brand spanking new.
Sweet stolen kisses under blueberry bushes; watching my first child crawl, keeping her from eating leaves in the hot summer park. First son standing under the zoo sprinklers reveling in the spontaneity, the freedom from rules, hardly able to contain his happiness, his joy. Second son gathering all the bats, all the balls, all the neighborhood for a game - if he can beat the rain. Last son knighting his friends, cape and crown askew, king for his birthday. A West Mountain day, all of us trying to bring the hay in as lightning flashes in the distance and black clouds blow the threat of rain our way.

How can one small scent contain so much; multitudes?
"Dandelion Wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered...Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in."
                                                                                                           Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
One small whiff and my heart pounds thru the memories...

...a brand new box of crayolas, the one with a million colours
...freshly mown grass mixed with gasoline
...sweet babies; toddler arms
...bread in the oven
...my sons' necks, my daughter's hair, the oil of my husband's skin and his warm breath in the early hours of morning
...the mingling of kettle corn, funnel cakes, cows steaming and cotton candy roastingspinning at the County Fair
...soft kitten paws
...hot off the press newsprint
...the first strawberries of the year
...the oil seeped into cement smell of a mechanic's garage
...clean hay in a lovely old barn
...after all these years, still, my mom's perfume, my dad's Old Spice
...a freshly cut real Christmas tree
...plowed fields, moist dark earth overturned
...thin pancakes crisping their edges in sizzling popping bacon remains
...the chlorine of the college swimming pool
.. my best friend's Lysol clean home
...clothes warm out of the dryer
...a crisp new book, still stiff in the bind
...popcorn and butter in a movie theater
...peaches, peaches, peaches, never enough peaches
...snow in the air

Image1  Lucem , Image2 josefa fritz barham

20 March 2010

You Look Fabulous, Darling, Fabulous.

Lately it seems every time I see an interesting image, its link leads me to the site "If It's Hip, It's Here!"(Lending credence to their name claim)

So.o.o.o.o,  I'm recommending you go over there and look at their 3/19/10 post on Iris Strubeggar's Harper's Bazaar shoot in which she portrays seven famous designers.  Of course she had a slew of professionals attending to her hair, costume, and make-up, but even if I hadn't recently become an internet certified expert on modelling from my hours dedicated to watching America's Next Top Model and Project Runway, this spread would make me realise that it takes more than a pretty face to be a supermodel. Not everyone can do what she's doing there. She just embodies each character.  The way she holds her body - her perfect  Rei Kawakubo slouch, the way she captures Vivienne Westwood's exuberance, that Lagerfeld pomp.  And look at the way she holds her mouth.  Somehow she distills each designer's essence down to the way she poses her lips.What a tour de force.

The site doesn't show photos of the real designers for comparison sake, so I've included a cheat sheet right after the montage of Iris' performance..  I've shown each designer, plus included sample looks of theirs that I like. Enjoy:

Iris as Designers

17 March 2010

Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

This is a belated birthday shout out to our Arizona J. 
Couldn't help but think of you when we saw this - we would so get this for 
you if we had a million dollars (or $7k to be more precise ).

Then again, I guess if we really had a million dollars we could skip 
the accessories and get you this and this
Oh, and maybe these, too, just to add a dash of that retro 60's cool.
  So anyway, your real (and way under $7,000) gift is in the mail and we hope you had a happy day!

14 March 2010

People Eat Blood Sausage

I often find myself throwing up my hands in despair and claiming, "The world is stupid!" M for Mazing says nice things like "You're just not meant for this world" to comfort me but the fact of the matter is Here Is Where I Am.  

The world is stupid. I can't believe how often we choose to make life harder for ourselves. Instead of applying all our determination to finding a way to get dads home with their families, we push for equal rights so now we can all never see each other. We plan obsolescence - cell phones that get 'old' and must be traded for new ones (not to mention the whole concept of cell phones rather than something like a portable ham radio!); cars that run ten years and require a computer engineering degree to repair (why don't we install a manual back-up for every 'automatic' item, ie roll down windows?); computers that are 'old school' two minutes out the door; proprietary ink cartridges (need I say more?)   And the one that galls me the most?  Spending thirty years of our life to pay for a home to live in. Everything else in the world finds theirs for free, but no, we, the intelligent species, have found a better way.

I've been dabbling in  genealogy during my sofa-confinement, and my Ukrainian ancestors built these types of homes for temporary shelters on the Canadian prairies   

and then eventually "moved up" to these larger homes when able - both very light and lovely and reasonable.

 I google searched "homes under $5,000" and discovered the Simon Dale family.  Now that's what I'm talking about!  Check out his link to similar homes, it will make you happy.  So lovely to find kindred spirits, isn't the internet wonderful?  So, I guess not the whole world is stupid.

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

Images thanks to campaugusta, blueskies, town of rossburntravel webshots, tiny house design; and boston.com

12 March 2010

Playscape It Again, Sam

Just discovered an awesome blog devoted exclusively to the concept of creative, natural play areas. Check it out - she says everything I wanted to say. I wish every child in the world - especially those living in "the projects" - could have thoughtful, lovely playgrounds like these.
I believe children grow up more peaceful, happy, self-aware, and emotionally sound by interacting with a beautiful piece of the world.

09 March 2010

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

“…children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom.”
Ecologist, Gill (2005)

 I have been quite sick the last bit, but the silver lining of this is I have been able to read and study things that have been gathering dust on a shelf in the back of my brain for years. I have felt free to contemplate everything from how to build clear geodesic earthquake pedestrian shelters in Seattle to what is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe? My most recent scrutiny: Outdoor Play Structures.

I have never liked the rigid, static, limited use of most school playgrounds. My early childhood experiences tainted me. My first grade school had - honestly - not one blade of grass.  They had paved the entire grounds.  We skinned our knees, played marbles, skipped rope, and got in a lot of fights.  When the weather was bad they'd bring us in the gymn and have us sit on our coats around the perimeter so as not to damage the newly finished wood floors. (!) No talking was allowed. I got in trouble once because I rolled up my coat and pretended it was a baby and encouraged the girl next to me to do the same. The teacher blew the whistle and made me come stand by her.  Playing was much too radical a concept for recess.

Last year everyday on my way to work I watched them build a new elementary school where a dense forest had been. I couldn't help thinking about how much fun the children could have exploring the pine cones, caterpillars, rocks, branches and sounds of the woods. I secretly hoped they were forward thinking enough that they would fence a part of the woods off for the play ground, but of course they didn't.

When our kids were toddlers we had an old woodshed on our property that was simply a covered shanty with a dirt floor and a pile of wood scraps in one corner.  They spent hours in there.  I could watch them from the kitchen window and that place became whatever they wanted it to be. They made mud pies, forts, pirate ships, cannons, cars, castles.... the list was limitless - which is the whole point, isn't it?! One day they were so into it their play that I literally had to pry their freezing little hands off the wood and get them to come in.  Now that's the creative flow all artist's hope to achieve!
So... my advice?  Don't spend  a small fortune on cookie-cutter swing-sets-cum-forts that hold childrens' attention for forty five minutes max. Read some of the studies by child development scientists like Moore and Wong and find out what my husband's parents knew all along:  A couple of big cardboard boxes and some cold cereal for a snack  will entertain a child far longer than any set of metal monkey bars.