Monday, June 30, 2008

Barn Owl

A little 6x6 painting for a swap--done! After fiddling with oils and glazing that wouldn't dry in the humidity, I switched to acrylics for this guy. And hey--I think he turned out pretty well. I'm saving the scan for some notecards for myself, but the painting is off to my swap partner tomorrow. It's hard to give it up--but I get left with the fun memory of doing it, and the energy to do a new painting next week, this time for me.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Be Kind, Rewind

Okay, we don't get out much lately. Our days of dining out and seeing movies in the theater are on hold for a few years, mostly because we like to put the kids to be ourselves, but, let's be serious--we run out of energy to stay awake most weeknights!
For the most part, we resort to waiting for DVD releases.
And once in a great while, we find one that's a great, fun movie--like tonight. Be Kind, Rewind, with Jack Black and Mos Def, Danny Glover, and Mia Farrow. What a little gem. Funny and sweet, it's about making community, making a purpose for yourself, and connecting with art (in this case film) while making it yours.
I watched this movie with a goofy grin, and Ada watched it with us. I think she appreciated some of it, but I really can't wait to show her it again when she's older and after she's seen a few of the "real" movies this one remakes. Check out the website to see a preview. It's worth a watch.

The other thing I can't help but see is the similarity of this movie to the notion of collage and reclaimed/repurposed art. I've got a few projects going involving these, and I'm eager to get them done and on the wall. I'll post photos when they're ready.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

A Recent Visit

We went to visit our friend Alex the other day. Look what she has in her yard! Lovely, lively! Rhode Island chickens--well, chicks, sort of. They are just at the stage where you can see their pretty feathers, but still small enough to pick up easily.
Esme was a bit timid at first, but she decided she wanted to hold one herself.

Ada--well, let's say Ada's not a fan of holding livestock. True to form, she kept us safe by lecturing us on the dangers of salmonella, and rightly so. We washed very well after this, I promise.

Alex has just finished a fairy cottage for her girls. Esme gave it rave reviews, saying, "Mommy, I LOVE this room!" Me, too!

When she's not raising kids or Rhode Island reds or the walls of a cottage, Alex is painting--take a peek at her website to see some of her beautiful work. I picked up a few of these things for myself.

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Fruits of his labor

From loving hands comes the fruits of labor--my husband's endless labor in our garden. This is the first big harvest--from only a few plants! Looks like we have berry pie on our menu soon!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More summer reading

It's almost officially summer, and already I've been working my way through this stack of books. Most of them I got from the annual summer recommendations of various media--New York Times, NPR shows, Wall St. Journal, Amazon, etc. Here's what I've read so far, and what I think of them:

City of Thieves, by David Benioff---WOW! Amazing. Set in Leningrad during the end of WWII, it's a story of friendship and coming of age in the bleakest of times. I think it might be a bit hyped in the media--and for this once, believe it. It's a great story, with all the cliches to make it so--I cried, I laughed, I didn't want to put it down.

The Ten-Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer--This one is a fictional view of the lives of several different women as they reconcile their roles at home to that of work, and in the process develop and sever friendships. Because I'm a mom at home for now, I found a lot of truisms in this book. The story was good, but what I enjoyed most about the book was relating to the characters and the domestic situations they were in. It's a mommy book, for sure.

Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan--Set in mid-twentieth century Mississippi, this story is told through the eyes of characters toughing it out through life on a small, impoverished farm. Their stories make up the bigger story of the time--the conflict of race--as well as the ever-present story of family conflict, disappointment, and failed expectations. It's powerfully written, and sometimes shocking.

Next up, as you can see from the stack: The Children's Hospital, by Chris Adrian, Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert, The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty, and Enslaved by Ducks, Bob Tarte.

Finally, I'm going to reread Ursula, Under, by Ingrid Hill. This is a sweeping epic that thrilled me a few years ago, and I've been missing all those characters, so I'm going back to it.

Now enough about me. What are you reading?

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Monday, June 16, 2008

A scene from our day: the Peaceable Kingdom

The weather has finally cooled off, and the girls are enjoying their rainy-day activities, like making pictures with rubber stamps and playing with their farm set, where the lions lie down with the lambs, or, rather, the cow takes care of the baby tiger. The latest additions to the small toy collection are Esme's constant companions lately.

Hello little cow.

Hi baby tiger.

Esme is smitten, can you tell?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Summer Reading List

It's that time again--the air is thick and sweet with the beach roses, salt, and oysters, and I've got a heap of books ready. I said it last year, and I'll say it again: there is nothing like the feeling of getting lost in a book, and quiet summer afternoons and evenings are some of the best times to do it. How I love naptime/resting time for the girls!

This entry merits two separate posts--one for the books I've already gotten into this summer, and one for those awaiting me.

First, the books I just finished:
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to reading Julia Child's My Life in France. It was well worth the wait--I was completely engrossed in her adventures in France, where she discovered cooking and her passion. Of course, she mentioned working with a young chef called Jacques Pepin, and I was off to find his autobiography, called, The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen. It did not disappoint. I made some lovely meals that week, among them a French-style sauteed chicken breast with garlic and herbs. Yum.

Anyway, I switched gears to more mystery the next week, with The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber. I was, I admit, a bit doubtful at the outset. I was looking for something to get lost in, and I was a bit worried that I wouldn't "get into it." Ha. This book was a real thriller, not just because of the intrigue of seemingly tame bookbinders, but really because the characters were so vivid and sympathetic. It was one of those books I didn't really want to end; I found myself lingering over the last 30 pages just so I could keep the characters with me for a bit longer. It's definitely worth checking out for a weekend read.

Finally, a book to put on the shelf next to Wallace Stegner's beautiful stories of families and moving West. This book is called Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger. It's been on the best seller's list, but it took me some convincing to pick it up. Why?! I kicked myself for waiting so long to read this! The writing is beautiful, and the narrator is loveable and convincing. When I finished it yesterday, it left me in tears.

Up next: The big list of books yet to be read...

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Monday, June 9, 2008

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