Last week I got to attend a nonprofit technology conference in New Orleans. The sessions were excellent and got my "inner geek" all revved up. During the breaks, I roamed around the French Quarter taking pictures like a tourist.
Like a tourist? Yes, I used to live in New Orleans in the 80s. My mom used to live there before I was born. The third photo is Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (now a bar), where she and my Dad had their first date. I figured you'd want to know.
Carrie has had pneumonia (again!) all week, and she refuses to take her antibiotics. She is improving, according to Dr. Alex, but it's been a long week. We've watched too much television in Grrrlville.
Nevertheless I've been exciting to hear and read these great news stories about the power of creative play.
One of the fine moments of my trip to NYC was meeting Annie at the MoMa. It was great to catch up with our friend. And then (cherry on top) the museum was free that day. Now that was cool.
Today we saw dinosaurs at a museum here in San Diego.
Greetings from the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, CA.
Photos by Sean Claudio Mancillas and Scripps Oceanography via flickr
I got this meme from Smiler. You can do it too!
This past weekend we went to the annual Lights in the Heights celebration in our neighborhood. They close off three streets so that only pedestrians, red wagons, roller bladers, and baby strollers have the right of way. The neighborhood is festooned with the light of candles and electric facsimiles all along the route. Singers, string quartets, bell choirs, and balalaika societies play from the front porches of the houses. Houstonians bake 10,000 cookies that are distributed freely. Lights in the Heights has an old-fashioned spin on fun that I always enjoy.
This year the NIA Moves group had a dance space and welcomed participants to join them. Pearl knows the co-founder Christie from playgroup and yoga, and she had a wonderful time dancing. At first she ran back and forth in front of the group, but eventually she started to pick a a few of those moves. Her happiness was luminous.
I stayed home today because I seem to have a sinus infection. It's the first one I've had since I converted to this nearly-vegan eating plan in July. Usually I get these infections every 4-6 weeks so this 4 month span is an improvement, I guess.
Today I spent many hours lying in bed thinking or was I dreaming or hallucinating? Do you know that feeling? It's like you're traveling in the unmapped caves of your own brain. I wish I'd brought a flashlight.
My favorites restaurants are Van Loc and Kim Son, and they serve up authentic dishes. For a funky twist on Vietnamese cooking, Jenny's Noodle House is always fun.
Here's one of my habits. I wonder if it's weird or if others share it. When I'm traveling, I always like to read books set in or about the places I visit.
Nearly a dozen years ago I spent a month traveling around Italy with my friend Amy. We both read the book Italian Days by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, passing it back and forth as we burned holes in our rail passes. Because Amy and I are both writers, we are pretty clear, usually, about the craft of writing, i.e. the difference between the narrator of the book and the person who wrote it. Nevertheless, by the end of the trip, it felt a bit like three of us were touring. We'd say things like, I agree with Barbara's comments about Venetian architecture, but I think your description of the squid cooked in its own ink captures what I experienced.
For me, reading literature is an experience that deepens my sense of the place.
On the trip to Los Angeles this past week, I read Ask the Dusk by John Fante. It's a novel that had a big impact on the beat generation. As far as I know, it doesn't have a big following in literary circles. I didn't realize it until I starting searching for an image for this post, but apparently it was made into a movie last year. The stars are Salma Hayek, Colin Farrel, and Donald Sutherland. Did you happen to see it? It seems to have received only so-so ratings. The book leaves you ragged. I'm not totally sure why I liked it even. The racism of the characters is disturbing. But something about it was good. Maybe it's that I have a weakness for books about writers.
I also read some nonfiction: City of Quartz by Mike Davis and Washed Up by Skye Moody. Both books have a curious tone to them, but I think once I started reading fiction, I really wanted more, more, more of the same.
Your turn, dear reader.
We loved the week we spent in Los Angeles. We have so many relatives and friends there that our social plans took precedence over any tourist aspirations we may have been hiding.
Pearl said the highlight of the trip was playing with her cousins. We spent much of our time with Sharon, Jess, Maya, and Jack. They moved to Santa Monica in February. We also got to hang out with Mieke and the gang from Kid Squared, as well as Shannon, Stuart and Herb, Charlie, Ethan, Ruth, and Jane. There were a lot of folks on our list so we skipped the museums and theme parks and had some fun.
While in California, we made a valiant effort to test-play a myriad of parks in the area. We built sand castles on the beach. We ate meals and sang songs. We went to lots of farmer's markets. There was a parade and a party, a cafe and a kosher deli.
As you may have noticed in the photo album, Carrie got into mischief resulting in numerous bangs and bruises. Cousin Jack is nearly certified as a baby "stunt man," and I guess Carrie felt compelled to keep up with him. And she did.
My parents left for Europe this week. At ages 77 and 83, they are getting older. My mom was extremely anxious about the trip. In fact, she cried during our last few phone conversations before she left. I don't remember her being so upset since her chemo and radiation days. She knew her fears were irrational, but she couldn't control them. It happens. When my mother gets upset, I get upset, and I've had one everlasting headache that's spanned the entire week.
It's been several days since they left the country. I'm assuming that no news is good news and that they are settling in to their travel rhythm. They are going on a cruise, but it's a small river boat with fewer than 200 passengers. This way they get to visit several cities and countries, but they only have to unpack once.
Tonight Marcia went to our friend Katherine's reading at Brazos. Her first book came out this week, and it's supposed to be a hoot. I'm looking forward to reading it. Marcia said she hasn't seen such a big crowd at the bookstore since Anne Rice came to Houston ten years ago. I'm glad she got such a huge turnout.
When I put the girls to bed, Carrie zonked out immediately, but Pearl decided that instead of listening to the lullabies, she would sing them with me, duet style. It was very sweet.
Pearl woke up last night at 3 a.m. with a high fever. She has strep throat, the doctor says. Since her appointment, Pearl has told anyone (and I mean ANYONE) who would listen about the injection she received which was not given in her thigh. That's the news of the day.
Thanks for all your vegetarian support messages, both in the comment section and via email. Seize the day.
Houston hosts the original and biggest (in TX bigger = better) art car parade in the world. I took Pearl and Carrie to see the crazy cars on Saturday afternoon. Pearl really enjoyed seeing the wacky cars. Carrie preferred the wonderful people-watching opportunities. The parade is sponsored each year by The Orange Show.
I posted some pictures from our Florida trip today; see the album in the sidebar to the right.
Do you have any big plans for the weekend?
We don't, but we just returned from a vacation so I'm not disappointed. The rodeo riders are on there way to Houston. Maybe I'll take the girls to see some horses tomorrow.
We had a lovely time in Florida. Nana and Papa are great with Pearl and Carrie and took them out for whole afternoons at a time! We ate brunch together and read and even discussed the Sunday New York Times. Marcia saw some movies. I read a whole book, a yummy, dark and stormy Swedish detective story!
However, for the record, I must reveal an observation that I have made these past few years. Vacationing has changed since we began having children. This is not a complaint or rant. I love parenting. These are simple observations about how vacationing has "evolved" if you will.
In the days of yore, Marcia and I liked exploring the urban metropolises on foot. We hiked and biked the Oregon coast. We sat down and drank coffee and talked and wrote in our journals.
We seek out never ending boardwalks with ramps where we can use a double stroller if we have an actual destination in mind.
We loved finding out about the neighborhoods we visited. We ate Mayan food in the Yucatan and bento in Portland. We watched people making cigars and polishing gemstones.
We look for the familiar. At mealtime, Pearl enjoys announcing loudly: I LIKE PLAIN FOOD, and so meals away from Houston are identical to the ones at home--macaroni and cheese, carrots, apples, broccoli, and grapes.
We used to love "day trips," little excursions to Victoria or Tulum or Bondi.
We stay close to the center of our little solar system so that we don't miss naps and disturb the holy routine.
Tell me your take on this. Is it just us?
I don't think of myself as a nature person. Camping, for me, means sleeping in a so-so motel. I never romanticized to the tune of Robinson Crusoe at any point in my life. But I do love the beach. It is my favorite nature-place. We've had four gorgeous days on Okaloosa Island. Today was the warmest one yet, with a high in the 60s. We even flew a kite, thanks to wonderful Nana, who brought it and somehow got it up into the sky. We'll drive home Tuesday and post photos soon.
Saturday is my mother's birthday. She will be 77. She is a strong woman, surviving cancer 3 times and here to tell about it. Happy Birthday to you, Mom!
Houston is home to a number of architectural/art spaces designed by James Turrell. The red and violet photos are taken in the tunnel that connects the two buildings that house the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH). The small blue photo shows the ceiling of the Live Oaks Quaker Meeting House. Turrell designed the retractable roof so that worshipers have two options; "Sky Space" is the open air version, and "Night Piece" is that light sculpture designed by the artist. You can see short video clips about each of these spaces on the PBS website.
Here's a poem by a WITS kid about the tunnel:
On the Other Side
I walked into a tunnel of blue
light and on the other side I
saw a world where mothers
hold babies, where muscle
men fall down, where ships
fly, where men take care of
men, where there is a castle,
where cats cry out loud, where
women have wings, where
birds sing, where there is a
Ali, age 10
Houston gets a bad rap, much of the time. It often deserves this harsh treatment. However, after you live here for a while you find places filled with beauty and wonder. Eventually you stop seeing the ugly things the way you did at first. Time passes. You realize, hey I've been here fifteen years!
So I decided I might show you a few of the places that I consider cool. These photos were taken at The Menil Collection, an amazing art museum a block from my office. I borrowed the pictures from flickr. Photographers are
credited in the label of each picture.