Archive for August, 2008

Gocco Loco-motion.

And here they are. My contributions to the art of the note gocco swap that I joined a few weeks ago, barely sliding under the wire of the deadline, but admitted by the grace of Sarah, the organizer. Therefore, my contribution had better be good…

Many of you know Gocco, but for those of you that don’t, it’s a sweet little Japanese screen printer that’s achieved almost mythic status in the little sphere of DIY craftiness. Here’s more on it, if you’re curious. In other words, it allows one so inclined to make her/his own handprinted notecards. Contributing to the mythic proportions of the Gocco aura is the slight problem that the manufacturer has discontinued production of all things Gocco, making it something of a martyr. I had the good fortune of acquiring one myself a few years ago and was rather on the fence about whether or not I wanted to keep it, having used it only once. After hemming and hawing about whether to make my millions from selling it on ebay or selling the masterpieces I could create with it, I chose to keep it. For awhile, at least. Enter the Gocco swap – the perfect opportunity to give it another chance.

After working out a few bugs and having my Caped Crusader bail me out with his access to a proper copier, I whipped out my finished product in no time.

The design is a sneaky abstraction from a city plan of Paris, circa 1765.

I just love these beautiful images of city plans. It’s a theme I worked with a bit in college, and no doubt one I’ll revisit again soon. Perhaps for a quilt design? Stay tuned on that one.

All in all, the project was a success.  Edit: Check out the other designs here.

And, not to be left out, dear Isadora contributed to the project also: there’s now a reddish cloud of ink on the wall of my studio, commemorating the project forever. Or until it gets repainted. I will be speaking to Security about this matter; it seems there’s a chink in the armor.

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Is there an entomologist in the house?

We’re expecting. A butterfly, a moth? We’re not at all sure, but I think we’re about to find out soon. This chrysalis, which has been in a jar in our kitchen for weeks now, feels much lighter in weight than the last time I handled it. What magic! The metaphor of transformation is a powerful one, indeed, and right in our kitchen!

I had such grand intentions of hosting a monarch chrysalis to illustrate the process of metamorphosis for Isadora. Not having witnessed the experiment myself since first grade, I failed to realize that our milkweed plants weren’t going to be brimming with chrysalises that I could pluck and put in a jar. It seems I missed the window of opportunity when I chose to photograph the one monarch caterpillar I did see instead of inviting him to an all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat stay in our Mason jar suite. Oh well – we hope to have many years, many seasons here to fit in all of the magical projects flitting about my mind.

Resigned to exploring more next year, I was thrilled when Isadora came running to me with this cocoon in her hand. She’d found it on the underside of her water table (a raised plastic tub to fill with water and while away hours…) She’d recognized it as a cocoon, sure enough, and led me to the spot where she found it.

This abandoned overcoat was all that remained. It seems the caterpillar shed an extra layer before bundling up – the inside is hollow and looks more like an exoskeleton than an entire caterpillar.

So these are the clues. The caterpillar was apparently a very hairy one. The cocoon is also a bit hairy, as you can see. Does anyone have the slightest idea what kind of winged creature we can expect to pop out? Anyone? I’d hate to be fostering a villainous pest like a gypsy moth…

Also of concern – it was yanked from the sinuous threads that held it suspended vertically under the water table, so it’s without anything to keep it upright in the jar. I try to keep it propped up, to respect any equilibrium requirements there may be, but it inevitably ends up resting horizontally on the bottom of the jar. Should I try harder, or does it not matter so much?

In a lovely continuation of our theme, Isadora unearthed this spent cocoon just last week, while digging in her “sandbox” (read: a 2 ft. diameter patch of sand under our Grandma Maple tree) :

It’s very wood-like, so much so that it seemed unlikely a cocoon, but the shape and marks look like they could be nothing else. Any ideas on this one?

I mean to keep all you budding entomologists busy today with these questions…

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Get a load of these guineas.

It’s been a long while since I’ve given a guinea update, though one had been sorely needed. Just look at them now. Below the neck, they’re absolutely stunning, displaying the pearl patterning that define this breed. Above the neck, they’re quasi-pterodactyls. The red coloring of the wattles is a new characteristic of their development, as is the unsightly knobbin on top of the head. I took the liberty of cropping this pic a few times to highlight some of the cast, hairy neck and all.

Really. Are these guys crazy or what?

Surely you understand now the degree of my vendetta for ticks. Surely.

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And then there were 24.

It was my job to make the cake. A noble job, as no celebration of epic proportions is complete without the cake. And the best way to make a cake for 50 without buying out the aisle of Wilton cake pans? Cupcakes. Four batches of twelve cakes, each mixed with love, each batch bedecked in its very own festive color.

Then the frosting – a carefully-perfected cream cheese frosting tinted ever so gently with light green food coloring. Topping it off, a kiss of pink sugar crystals. Now, to transport them to the event, they must be packed carefully. In the one legitimate cupcake-holder tupperware that I did have, twenty-four snuggled together with just the right amount of get-to-know-your-neighbor intimacy to keep them from sloshing around. No small feat, mind you; all this commingling must not damage the delicate frosting tops. Lacking a second legitimate cupcake tupperware, I put on my Hat of Resourcefulness, made with love by my Mom, and with a flick of my wand, produced a roasting pan with a cargo hold for precisely 24 cupcakes. Ah, culinary magic. Snuggle in, little sweeties, we’ve a journey to make.

Around this time, the hushed enchantment of the afternoon’s undertaking was punctuated by the chipper greeting of a girl freshly awake from her nap. “Good MORNING Momma!” is how I’m greeted after every nap, bursting with so much sweetness that I’m obliged to forgo the lesson of morning time versus afternoon. Kisses and hugs were doled out with great gusto and then I showed her my work, before putting the lid on the roasting-pan-cum-cupcake-transporter and whisked the treasure to the front porch for safekeeping. It was the safest place I could think of, short of putting it in the car, as that car was still en route from work.

Because I’m no idiot. The magic of the cupcakes was so enchanting that I could barely resist devouring them, much less an-almost-three-year-old girl. Much less two dogs who are happy to eat paper towels and garbage, if given the chance. The porch was definitely the safest spot for them, with child and dogs safely indoors.

But you know how this turns out, don’t you? It’s a classic sitcom plot, if such shows could be said to actually have a plot. A half dozen distractions later, a chorus of not-so-melodic guineas overpowered the gentle chatter of the house and we all ran outside to see them enter the yard for the first time. (they’d not yet ventured so far from the coop) All eleven of them, in a sea of pearled feathers and high-pitched squawking were taking the yard by force. Then the phone rang, bringing me in the house, where I chatted rather boastfully about the culinary feats I’d accomplished over the past THREE HOURS. It was the crashing of the roasting pan lid which brought me to the inevitable part of this story, the part where twenty-four cupcakes met their demise at the hands of this guy:

In my fury and despair and recognition of the inevitable, I screamed, thrashed about, and may have, in anger, hurled a cupcake near the vicinity of the Sea of Guinea.

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Music all a-rou-ou-ound, Music all around.

Wild and crazy dancing fun, from The Sugar Maple Music Festival, a melange of Traditional music including folk, bluegrass, and jazz. It was our second year attending, and will no doubt be a must-do every year to come.

Our lives are set to a rather unique soundtrack. Music is the thread that winds throughout every day, every car trip, every bedtime routine. We take great pride in our own eclectic musical awareness, cultivating a wide array of musicians on our iPod, and instilling in Isadora this musical appreciation. Our star pupil, she already recognizes a small army of musicians within the first few notes of their songs: Tom Waits (of course), Dr. Hook, The Cure, Gordon Lightfoot (who’s also one of our roosters), The Be Good Tanyas, Feist, Modest Mouse, Nate Dogg (a little embarrassing, but only that ONE song), Tori Amos, Django Reinhardt, Pearl Jam, Tim Buckley, The Soggy Bottom Boys, Howlin’ Wolf, Led Zepplin, The Psychedelic Furs, and Rusted Root. If we can measure our success as parents by her repertoire of music, which we most definitely do, we’re doing a pretty stellar job. She’s not yet three years old. This is one of the tests to get into kindergarten, right – “Who’s singing?” She’ll be a shoe-in.

The Music is indeed a thread weaving throughout our day. Imaginary playtime is no exception, as a few of these musicians have joined the ranks of Isadora’s Imaginary Friends. The Cure joined us for a bike ride yesterday, and often rides with us on road trips. A typical exchange heard from the back seat: “The Cure – you’re a very nice friend. Hey, The Cure – do you know who’s singing?” Gordon Lightfoot often joins us for dinner, before preparing to join Tom Waits and Feist in singing her to sleep.

Sadly, though, we are best described as music enthusiasts, devouring music made by others, because we’ve not yet ventured into the realm of making our own, with these few exceptions.

1. The box of toy instruments gets more playing time than almost any other of Isadora’s toys.

2. Almost every meal features some kind of drumming performance by Isadora. She’s rather proficient in playing the Water Glass and the Plate.

3. We do own an electric guitar. It was the promotional item that came with Andrew’s Jetta, and plugs right into the car’s stereo system. The potential here for a neat party trick is almost completely canceled out by his inability to play it. Almost.

But we have grand visions. There’s a spot in the house reserved for a beautiful vintage piano. (in my mind, at least) I’ve always wanted to learn how to play. And sitting there at the music fest, feeling the waves of pure musical magic wash over us, we both felt some deeply-buried desires to play something being teased out of us by the succession of lively notes. Under the influence of this kind of magic, we believed that we could, that we should. And I hope that we do. Just look at how great these instruments look paired with the vintage dresses….that’s exactly the kind of musician I’d like to be.

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Summer is a celebration of dirt.

I can think of no greater indicator of childhood fun than the accumulated dirt and grime of a fun-filled summer afternoon. If this is true, and the degree of fun can be measured by the degree of dirt, then Isadora has never before had quite so much fun.

Ever.

That is one dirty girl.

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