Thursday, December 15, 2011

Before you know it...

ME:  (Singing) He knows when you are sleeping!  He knows when you're awake! He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake! (speaking) I have that song stuck in my head, isn't that silly?

CADENCE:  Yes, it sure is.  Mom, can you sing it again, the whole thing?

ME: Sure!  (singing) You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why.  Santa claus is coming to town.  He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake! He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness' sake! Oh, claus is comin' to town...(speaking) pretty neat, huh?  kinda.  Hm.  What do you think about all that, Cadence?

CADENCE:  Oh, a lot.

ME:  A lot?!  Wow, that's what?

CADENCE:  Like, how I don't really think Santa is real, but everyone else does.

ME:  Oh really?  What makes you think that?

CADENCE:  I just think that Santa isn't really just one person, I think everyone is santa.  Everyone is really santa, because we all give each other gifts, even if we know. Everyone we know.

ME:  ...I really like your theory, Cadence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tea Party Shoot!

So, remember the teaser I posted back in September, with the girls having a tea party in a meadow?  Well, the album board is finally up on Lelia's Photography Blog!

Click the link below to see the photos in all their scrumptious glory!

Lelia Marie Photography - Fantasy Tea Party!


Monday, November 14, 2011

sleeping dragons

Whenever I'm alone then there it is, this burning need to create, the art pulling, tugging and tearing at my soul, the agony of its absence a sacrifice I ensure to be there for my children, but I fear that I harm them more by not than I would by doing, I need to be there fully for them but a part of me is dead without my creation,

And as I contemplate there is Sankai Juku, their deathly hallows striking back at me from the highly effective advertisement for bam ( I want to hug and hire whoever made those damn things ) and I know it is as much a calling as it ever was, I am an artist, stunted, who needs desperately to create, and so I pine and think so hard I fall asleep

Only to wake to the rush of everyday life, when I can't find the time to brush my hair, let alone find safety for my charges while I enter that zone where raw creation can take place.

I need a better partnership in order to live this dream in my hands. I need to allow myself to need unapologetically.

It will come.  I know it will come.

It's just that sometimes, when those creatures writhe and stretch their claws within me, it's very hard to be patient.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fruit Flies in Paradise

There is no whispered discontent
When the fruit flies overtake
For shouts and swats of savage rage
At the soaring teeny dots
Become the common language used
By the giants in the room

But here where would the anger be
If not for little flies?
Our human nature damns us to
An ever present stage
Of tiny gripes that grip us strong
And dont free our attention

And so the bitsy buzzers fill
A void so very needed

By keeping all our grumpy bits
From tearing our selves down.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween Happenings

On our way to school this morning, Cadence broke from a deep reverie with great excitement to tell me:
"mama! Fourteenth and Fulton are alliterative! Because they both start with a 'ffff-ffff' 'F'!"
What a great start to this all hallows eve!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Twilight zone.

I feel like I'm in some alternate reality today.

It's been a surprisingly mild fall season so far.  We haven't even busted out the heavy coats yet, the highs have been mostly in the 50's and 60's, so we haven't had any reason to complain.  This has made us complacent about the time change that is quickly approaching (is that next week already?!) and we've gotten TOTALLY off of our normal sleep schedule.  This is probably the main contributing factor to the fact that, for the past several days, getting Hazel to go to sleep has been like attempting to put the freakin' Energizer Bunny to bed.  She just keeps going and going and think she's out and she hops back up, does a dance, flops down, demands Moonshadow for the bazillionth time, tries to wake her sister, and beats a new rhythm with her hands while trying to make me give her Elmo baby milk.  sigh.

The result of the fact that it has been taking at least two hours to get her to sleep is that I often fall asleep (first?) too, and have gotten NOTHING done that I need to do, which leads me to wake up stressed in the middle of the night /wee hours of the morning, unwilling to get up to do anything, but not really that is what I assumed was happening when Cadence and Hazel woke me up this morning, demanding oatmeal. (Yes, Hazel can say things like "oatmeal" now.) It was still dark outside, and I immediately began to think about how much I could get done on Hazel's Halloween costumes before the sun rose...but when I finally hurled myself off the bed, I realized the dark was cloud cover, and we'd actually slept in.

So here we are, a couple days before halloween, I am in a sleep-deprived other-world, worrying about halloween costumes in this weather that doesn't seem particularly un-summer-y yet, and...wait, is that...SNOW???

Yep.  That cloud cover was a snowstorm brewin'.  The flakes are coming down thick and fast, and Hazel is totally awed, and has been standing in the window (wearing nothing but a diaper, mind you, the kid doesn't believe in 'cold') shouting about the "snow fall down!!" for the past half an hour.

I don't remember snow this early in the year since I was really little, and in fact I remember being disappointed in years where the first snow came later, and later- but always before my December birthday...and then it started coming even later than this is exciting and slightly baffling and in my slightly dazed state the only thing I can think about is whether this will effect our brunch plans today.

Anyway, I've gotta run, Cadence says "the show is about to begin!" and Hazel is beginning the attention is needed elsewhere.

Happy first snow of the season, folks!  Stay warm!
Gawking at the snow, which you can't really see in this pic!)

iphone cam doesn't really capture the falling me, it's there.
They were "staying dry"!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogging from the blue school

I have a rare moment of downtime on my hands, with Cadence in class and Hazel asleep on my chest, so I figured I could do something adult-y and get something done, or at least do something for myself...but times like this are so rare that I actually have no idea what to do, and find myself totally unprepared! I thought maybe I could get some backed up blogging done, but none of the drafts currently languishing in unfinished limbo are stored on my phone, and I figured I should probably reacquaint myself with this culture of mobile blogging apps before I try to do anything too serious.

That and I'm kind of obsessed with last Thursday's photoshoot, and one image in particular...

Now, I've been resisting posting too many shots because I don't want to spoil the wow factor of the professional shots when they come in, but my goodness, i can hardly stand it, it is my new favorite image, it's the background of my comp, I can't stop looking at it (and then going to squeeze these girls in big mama bear hugs, because they are so unbelievably awesome, and that picture just reminds me of all the awesome, and makes me feel like my heart and head are about to explode.) And since I put the darn thing on my phone I've been struggling to resist the urge to show it to EVERYONE I encounter here at the school, so I figured a safe compromise would be to stick it on here, lest I become THAT ya wanna see? Here ya go!

I mean, seriously? I snapped that on my broken point-and-shoot...just imagine what Lelia's artistry and technical skill with a camera will bring to the table...I cannot wait to see her finished spread with details and environmental shots and...

I am one very proud Mama.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sums it up.

If I were into making mastheads, this would be the picture I would use:

Pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


10 years ago today, I did not live in New York City.

I was getting myself ready for my WKU classes that day, which meant getting into my swimming suit and gathering my books.  Mom came home from dropping off Kelly, who was so small then, at school, and said she'd just heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  She turned on the news just in time to for us to see the second plane hit the second tower.  I don't think either of us could process it - I retreated into the bathroom to change, contemplating what could possibly have gone wrong to cause such an egregious accident, with two pilots in two planes on the same day...

I opened the door to the bathroom and walked down the hall towards the living room where the tv was blaring and my mom sat with her hand over her mouth, her eyes watery, and my heart sank.  In retrospect, it was like my childhood disappeared with that realization that there was no accident.  

I went to class, and I don't remember if we swam that day, but I remember our swimming instructor talking to us about the choice we faced to continue as normal or not, and what each choice meant on a deeper level.  And I remember all the TVs in the complex being tuned into the coverage, live images of the towers, smoke, and the stomach-churning images of poor souls jumping from impossible heights to certain death.

I don't remember where I was, but I remember seeing the towers fall...first one, the smoke, the running, the fear I felt for the people who were not yet my neighbors, and then the gut wrenching realization that the building was just gone ...I must have gone home.  I was in my living room again to see the second tower fall - and from that moment on I don't remember that autumn very well.

10 years ago today, I wrote two blog entries, the first a desperate plea to my New England friends to be careful and stay away from major targets.  The other was my 16 year old self's honest reaction to what was happening all around me:

One more bloody history in the making
2001-09-11 - 6:04 p.m.

So they've proved what any good fighter would tell you in the first place: you don't use the big showy kicks to win the fight. you bash their heads in with your elbows, and go for the groin with your knees. you use what you know of course, and you never let your guard down. For all the fuss about multi-million-dollar big shot weaponry, we are tipped over by intelligence. if you always follow the expected-even if you only deviate from that a little-is to play into your enemies hands. Unless you are increadibly well prepared-to an unfathomable degree. Why would they sink fortunes into weapons? you get a better surprise factor if you use their own objects, whose potential to be out of the ordinary has been all but forgotten.

So what now? Does this young generation suddenly lose its prize of being the first in history to grow up and old without a major war going on? or is our media eating their own shit once more, like the hundreds of times it has before? People say "its the second pearl harbor" but where is the war to be dragged into? all around us, for sure; but it is much less honorable to give things an official beggining than it is to join a war thats already begun.

perhaps I'm a lunatic, perhaps we weren't actually supposed to believe those lessons that love is the way to live life, and that violence leads no where. That the best way to get rid of a bully is to ignore them. I can't help but to see this not as a grand adult gesture of intellectual or physical superiority, but as a pair of two-year-old boys on a playground, shoving eachother to the ground.

The great eagle has woken from its slumber, its eyes glowing red as it reaches out and crushes something in its great sharp talons.

that image is my dad's, but I can't get it out of my head. I can't help but to let my imagination wander into places that make my waking self shed tears.
Somehow, I can't think of a single phrase to say.

10 years, and look where we are today.

We are mourning so much.


While I was not here for the event itself, I did visit ground zero myself a few weeks later.  I was pursuing my dream of attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and studying theater, and my dad and I flew to the Big Apple for my Big Audition.  It went splendidly, I was prepared in every way, I was confident, I loved what I was doing, I had the support I needed...and then Dad and I walked (with me auditioning my Self as we went - Can I really live here?  Can I truly survive? Will I make it on my own?) from what would become my home-away-from-home at 721 Broadway down to where the towers no longer stood to pay our respects.

Or at least, as close as one could get.  The air felt thick and impure, I was shocked at how tangible the particles in the air felt against my lungs, even so long after the attacks. I remember seeing pieces of buildings resting on other buildings, lampposts at wrong angles, a layer of dust still covering much of what we could see - which, in reality, wasn't much.  But what struck me most of all was the smell.  That acrid, terrible odor that went straight from the nose to the lizard-brain, screaming in that primal non-language:  "Danger! Death! Something-is-not-right."

But it wasn't, quite.  It was masked, albeit insufficiently, but the sickeningly sweet smell of roasted nuts.  I don't know why, but it seemed as if the roasted-nut vendors were taking it upon themselves to ease the burden of that constant olfactory reminder of neighborhood tragedy; I remember them being lined up around the safety-zone perimeter - no hot dogs, no pretzels, just nuts - roasting endlessly...I was struck by their presence, beyond the smell, to see them selling to tourists and grieving locals - I couldn't decide if it was a shameful act, or one to be commended; an odd f-u to the terrorists themselves, profiting from their cruel acts in a simple, honest way, going about their business as best they could, and hiding the smell of death from the living wanting to continue on.

To this day, I cannot walk past a roasted-nut vendor without remembering that day, and that smell.

2001-11-16 - 10:46 a.m.

The smell of something rank, vaguely reminiscient of sour milk, that I know must be the scent of rotting flesh and ever settling dust, smoldering in the air.

What they keep from our eyes can't escape our noses.

Or our hearts.


My life carried on, haltingly for reasons of its own, and despite the fact that my transcript was quarantined in a New Jersey post office that had been contaminated with anthrax, I was accepted to Tisch and moved to Manhattan in August of the following year.  

9 years ago today, I did live in New York City. I was here for the first anniversary of Black Tuesday, and I was so glad I was. I wasn't here when disaster struck; but I was here to hold up those who were.  I maintained safe rooms for students and faculty that needed a place to go.  I held friends I hadn't met as they let their grief pour out.  I held hands of those who couldn't speak.  I listened to personal stories of the year before, things you'd never here on the news; friends who lived in the dorm down the street, friends who were excitedly going to their very first day of training, friends who watched it all from the park where it felt like the world was turning upside down...

I chose to come here at a time when many people were choosing to get out, and I have never regretted that decision for a moment.

This city is vibrant, and alive as any creature.  She has her good days, and days when her being feels just vile, but there is always a pulse, a drumbeat in the background of movement, of life, of happening.  But on the 11th of September, every year since, that frantic living stops; we hear silence, the city becomes still, as if all of New York is holding its breath, waiting for the pain to subside, before disappearing back into the rush of the blessed 12th.

Today was no exception.  Kelly, grown now, and pursuing dreams of her own, is here today, visiting me and my wonderful family in our home in Harlem.  We watched the reading of the names on the local news, but we ultimately chose to honor the dead by living, by not lingering on the fear and anger such a vile act drums up.  We played with the kids, we cooked, and cleaned, and worked, and ate.  And we went to the grocery store.  I felt it as soon as we walked out the door, that old familiar, otherworldly urban stillness, that feeling of existing in a ghost town.  As we walked home, Kelly turned to me, Cadence chatting at her side, Hazel toddling noisily by mine, and said "it's so silent!" And I knew just what she meant.  New York can't breathe today.  The ghosts are about, it is a day of mourning.

2002-09-11 - 2:44 p.m.

The wind blew hard, whipping sand in the faces on the few people left on the street. Somewhere in the distance a churchbell began to toll. The sun was in the middle of the sky, and the clouds rolled mournfully above the dusty landscape.

silence reigned. The sound of the wind carried no voices, no heavy footsteps. I stood waiting for the signal, my nerves on end. There was a complacent tension in the air, everyone had a tacit understanding of the situation. The signal came, Ilooked both ways, and walked across the street. Today, there were no taxis to nearly run me over.

I began to feel that the wind was made up of all the souls who were lost, and that the sand it was forcing under my skin was recreating their wounds in my body. Perhaps this is a way to keep us from forgetting, if the living bear the scars of the dead. The bustle of this famous road is muffled, crowded with people who feel that their lives could be in danger, and those whose memories are plagued. They are all just looking for each others hearts.

As I read that now, I have disturbing inklings of what that 'sand' may have been; there should not have been such particles about - there has been less foreign substance to the air in subsequent years - and with the destruction yet so new and near, I shudder to think how literal my musings could have been.

But today there was no wind, no sand.  The only significant sounds were the newly independent footsteps of Hazel, and the increasingly aware conversation of Cadence as they, these two beautiful, vibrant girls walked down the streets of this city they call home, the city they were born in, the city they don't see as broken because they've never seen it any other way...and it really does all make sense.  Terribly cheesy as it may be; they hold the future in their tiny hands, and to them it is beautiful, full, and open.  

Mayhap it is simply that their inheritance of the reigns has removed the need for sandy scars, and offered the ghosts some peace.


Hazel has arrived at the stage where she prefers to walk instead of being toted in the wrap. I snapped this pic the other day, the first time she walked all the way from our apartment to the train, down all the steps, and sat on the seat with her jie jie all by herself. (holding hands, of course.) This lady's growin' up!

Yep, I loves them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tomatoes, anyone?

This is what happens when you're spending down your credit at your CSA and your sister starts working for another, and diverts her 'pay' into feeding your family fresh veggies. This is way more locally grown, farm fresh tomatoes than any manhattanite without their own restaurant has any business having in their kitchen at one time. And this is only what we're freezing, and doesn't include all the ones we've already eaten, or the ones that (sadly) went bad before we got to them. We are certainly not complaining!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The big wet apple-still going strongish, sorta

Somehow the winds have been slowly picking up as the day has gone on, and now they are pretty sustained and strong. Evidently a separate tropical storm warning was issued this afternoon because it is so strong. I've tried several times to get a good picture of the trees blowing and bending in the wind, but it's remarkably difficult to capture (on an iPhone). Here are a couple shots to show you what a rainless tropical storm looks like:

Can you see how much it's leaning? (no? sorry, my photography sucks.)

Can you tell it's blustery in this one? (Still no? Gah. How 'bout dramatic clouds?)

I got a text from Kelly a bit ago saying they'd just lost power at the farm from all the wind, so it seems we aren't the only ones feeling the post-storm winds. She'd reported earlier in the day that they'd weathered the storm with just a few downed trees and minimal flooding...then she sent me lots of pics of her covered in kittens. I don't think she's suffering too much.

The big wet apple makes lemonade (and tea!)

So what do you do when you've got gallons and gallons of water leftover after a non-storm? Well, the same thing you do when life hands you make lemonade! (and tea.)

Step one: take a bunch of lemons (and one citrus fruit that can't decide if it's a lemon or a lime, added to the mix by our lovingly open minded 16 month old), wash 'em and cut them in half.

Step two: squeeze the lemon halves into the pitcher of water, then drop the rinds in.

Note: if you can have your 4 year old do it, it adds a spark of magic.

While the big girl is doing the grunt work, cover the Giant stock pot full of water and turn on the burner it's already sitting on.

Try to ignore the awful reflection on your awesome shiny stock pot, and return to lemon squeezing.

Once the lemons are all in, squeeze in some agave nectar under the theory that since its liquid it'll mix better.

Once your stock pot boils, add a whole bunch of teabags, and turn off the heat.

It'll turn into tea pretty quickly after that! Let it steep to your desired strength. Let it cool for iced tea!

Back to the lemonade: now its time to shake shake shake! You can enlist the little one to help with this job.

Of course, teamwork never hurts, either. But that's it, then serve & enjoy, with an emphasis on enjoy!

The big wet apple-maybe not so wet?

Good morning!
Hm, wasn't there supposed to be some kinda storm or something?

In case you can't tell through the wet window, that's...nothing. A few kids meandering down the sidewalk in shorts and t-shirts. Sigh. Guess we did all that prep for nuthin. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

I woke up around 7 and it seemed too quiet for a storm, and i was suspicious because the cats with all their good animal instincts were not at all worried and were doing their usual FEED US NOW routine, but I tried to imagine raging winds of nature earning some respect from these urbanites...and my phone kept chiming with warning texts from the city about flooding and road closures...alas, when I got up and peered out the window, I just saw a pretty standard wet morning, people milling about, no weather events at all. We stayed up for a couple hours after my last post, and evidently that one gust was kinda it, the worst it got. I don't even see leaves down from the trees.

So much for "the height of the storm" occurring between "8am and noon" as they said last night...our bathroom didn't even leak any more. (maybe it IS the neighbors, after all?)

In other cute news, Hazel helped me feed the cats this morning, and managed to get wet cat food ON the cats...all in all, far more destructive than our experience of Irene.

So anyway, now to fried CSA eggs and rolls for breakfast, then the commencement of operation cool- the-freakin'-house-down!

The Big Wet Apple - let the games begin!

....AAAAAnd thar she blows! Hello Irene!

Not the worst thing ever at this point, but equaling the worst weather we've seen here for long enough for us to declare defeat and remove the last AC. Operation overheat-the-house step 7, complete.

Also, good Kentucky Bourbon as a nightcap, and we're out. See ya in the AM, hopefully!!
Stay safe, all!

The Big Wet Apple - sweet dreams

The girls are (finally) asleep, and the rain is occasionally looking more scary and going at a sort of an angle, but only in spurts and gusts, and then it dies right back down.

Operation overheat-the-house continues with step 6, close up all the windows before bedtime. Given the calm-ish demeanor of the current weather we haven't taken the bedroom AC out yet, so we'll still need to move to step 7 before long...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Big Wet Apple - Hurricane Holiday

So, I'm staring at a tree across the street from our kitchen window, and it's standing completely still. NY1 is reporting power outages in queens and staten island, possibly some in brooklyn, too, and they say some places are already beginning to flood, but here there are still folks hanging out in the street, the rain steady, but not even as heavy as it was a couple weeks ago when we returned to the city after several months away and had to move back in in a thunderstorm...the leak in the bathroom has reduced to a few beads that drip occasionally, and according to the radar, we're being pommeled right now...but evidently we're in a weather bubble where not much is happening. So, what have we been up to instead?

Why, baking cookies with the girls, of course! Operation overheat-the-house step 5, complete.

Anyway, here's a look out our window. not much to see, yet:

The big wet apple-the anticipatory boredom

We just had a five minute debate over whether or not it is even raining.
(it is, but not very hard.) (The leak in the bathroom confirms this.)

This after Cadence and Hazel put on he LOUDEST show they've ever put on, from the pedestal of the kitchen stool. Hope the neighbors enjoyed the music! These kids have great lungs!

On the Shape of Cookies

At the end of an unsuccessful search for her star-shaped cookie cutter:

Cadence: "But, Baba, are we ever going to find it? If we never find it, then I'll be stuck with oval cookies forever!"

(I then reminded her we had some other cookie cutters she could use... she is now physically unable to contain her joy.)

The big wet apple- the heat rises

Dinner time!
Made some sautéed greens (fresh from Channery Hill Farm where Kelly is interning) and paired it with some fresh mini penne that Hazel picked out...Operation overheat-the-house step 4 complete!

In other news, the rain picked up a tad, and now mr. WeatherDude is saying there is a tornado watch...and that the eye of Irene is tracking directly towards us...

Oo, look! Now the 'on location' reporter is berating some genius who's at the (closed) beach, surfing. Genius says "c'mon, it's a category 1, Come on out and surf!"
"are you for real??"
"yeah, its nothin'!"

Personal opinion; if you are told "DANGER GET OUT" and you CHOOSE not to, the first responders should not have an obligation to risk their lives to save your butt.

The big wet apple-disaster begins!

Oh look, it finally started to rain!

Wait, what's that?

Aha. So, that really sporadic leak the maintenance guy thought was from the upstairs neighbor's failure to use a shower curtain seems, in reality, to be A LEAK IN THE ROOF, trickling down several stories to drip from our bathroom doorframe. (we're on the second floor here, folks, how is this possible?!)

Well, wanting to minimize damage from a possible torrent when the storm actually hits (it's still a solid drizzle at the moment...), we've taken extreme leak collection measures:

Good thing we have two bathrooms, huh?

The Big Wet Apple - the calm before the storm

This morning, when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed after one of those cozy wonderful lazy mornings with the kids playing on and around us while we 'slept', the sky was a whitish grey, and the world seemed deadly calm. No leaves rustled in the trees on the street below, no birds, no vermin, no bugs...hardly any cars, and the few people who were on the street were all hurriedly carrying bags of groceries and exhibiting an excited calm. Looking out our living room window, we could see the ominous darkness approaching from beyond the empire state building like the nothing from the neverending story.

Watching hurricane Irene (a storm which, incidentally, shares its name with my maternal grandmother), we thought it might be fun to blog through this adventure as it happens! As long as we have power, we'll try to check in whenever we notice something noteworthy. To play catchup:


Still dead calm outside, we begin to hear a far-off voice, seemingly amplified, drawing ever nearer...turns out it was a prostlytizer, preaching about the dark times and the guidance christ would give us through the quite literal storm. Wandering around on foot with some sort of microphone under his giant black umbrella, spreading his word to the empty streets. It somehow managed to be simultaneously eerie, pitiful, and cute.

We turned on NY1 to check in on the latest...the reporter standing at the south ferry began getting pelted with rain, so it was off to throw everyone in the shower one last time before the storm hit. Everyone clean and dry, the rain came...and then left.

Watching the news, the con ed rep made the rather amusing statement that it snows all year round in NYC. Huh, I didn't know that!

Cadence is concerned by the language they use to describe the storm, and keeps asking us why we're gonna "get hit."

Found some more containers fit for holding potable water, and decided to take advantage...we've been boiling & bottling/jarring water for just-in-case storage instead of buying jugs of it. Operation overheat-the-house step one complete.

Speaking of water, time to fill up the tub with water - not to drink, but to have on hand for such things as toilet flushing or washing things, should such a need arise. Uh oh, our bathroom drain doesn't work...DIY bathroom plug to the rescue! James sealed the drain with duct tape, and then I found an old silicone shoe insert, covered the drain with that, placed a washcloth over that and topped it all off with a mug. Seems to work pretty well!


It doesn't feel very hurricane-y around here. Only the lightest of breezes, the pigeons came out again, no rain, still cloudy, but the streets are full of foot traffic. No buses, though, which is odd...the MTA officially shut down all public transit at noon.

Oh! the MTA did do one thing I was actually proud of, though...they suspended fares for the last trains in evacuation areas (meaning people could ride for free) and allowed passengers to take pets with them (this is usually heavily restricted). Go MTA! Showing a human side!

James roasted the chicken we got from our CSA earlier this week. Smells AMAZING in here. Operation overheat-the-house step 2 complete.

Fresh baked bread? mmm, awesome! Operation overheat-the-house step 3 complete.

Really decadent hot-from-the-oven roast-chicken sandwiches with farm-fresh greens & tomatoes on bread fresh out of the oven for lunch? Not very hunker-down-adventure-like, but awesome. And tasty.

Cadence is now worried that we're not gonna get hit after all.

We'll check back in soon! Love to you all!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A glimpse into my head

We were finally departing. We dragged our many pieces of oversized luggage out of the posh, if oddly laid out, hotel rooms with their long winding rooms and the low marble steps to the sink,
the black wallpaper polishing the strange space to a level of acceptable fancy; through puddles in the dark, wettish night, the bags fighting back as we traversed over curbs and grass. I watched as my bag, then two, were thumped upon the pile to be loaded by the boatmen, it rocked, I waited a moment to be assured of its retrieval, then boarded the ancient vessel that so longed to be rusty, its lack of shine the only clue to the betrayal of its upkeep.

it begins to snow, in the dark, on the water.

we drift off to sleep, at long last, on our journey home.

Slowly, we are waking up. It is sudden. We are arousing to consciousness fully clothed in tweed suited skirts, matching jackets and quaintly matching hats. We are riding our bikes, unease striking us as we become aware; we can't be waking naturally, riding fully clothed through the falling petals of the blooming trees around us, in front of our housing, vacated yesterday, all modern, now here reality is all old. The petals are white, hints of green among the blooms, it is sunny and peaceful, no sign of aging vessels linger at the docks, visible through the structure of the bridge before us.

What is going on?

The official stance is that we never left.

Our things, they tell us, are back inside, we never packed them, we were not leaving.

Are they?
we cannot tell.

confusion tops a layer of absolute certainty; we know. We left, our lives were real, now erased, now...this.

a coverup.

for what?

She looks at me, and I at her, our hearts racing, something is amiss. It's dangerous, they want to hide us, they deny they let us go, deny they are holding us; we must be silent, covert, escape.

Memories return as we contact our loved ones back home. We've been away, months, maybe, working secretly under a thin pretense. We learn our pretense was a decoy, our real purpose deeper than our work. Tests, lies, experiments...

They discover our covert contacts, bring our families closer to us, dump them into this camp, this false world that seems lovely but keeps us silent. We are not threatened, never reprimanded, suddenly a home appears with family inside; they say it has always been so; we know better.

The network of women and few men recruited, willingly working, promised release, and amnesiated find each other like spiders, linking up invisible threads we hope will lead to the rescue of our families. Why is this?

My husband and I duck under a long wooden-topped table, our daughters small enough to help us be inconspicuous, the room crowded beyond us, the table's metal legs secured to the wall and floor, support beams filling the space around us. Greys, greens, yellows, it reminds me of that ship, the one they say never existed, with its desire to be old and hollow, and how they clean it anyway, forced march of utility, this is the military, you don't get to stop, you are used, you are used when and how they use you, you have no say, you are not you, but a drone projected from your skin, to be counted as one of a mass, not an individual. Just as that ship, you are kept in running order, and controlled.

I am wearing army fatigues, kind of, like posh clothing modeled after a soldier's plight, I have just gotten notice from a friend; someone in the medical department, a sympathetic soul, risking life and limb to orchestrate an accident of paperwork that lets me see my file. It's because of my allergies; if I was whole and healthy this mistake would be impossible. Now, under this table, dusty, winded, hiding from normalcy, heart pounding with deception, I have access to the dimly glowing yellow window that shows me my contact, prints out a single page document, my picture in the corner, in a real uniform, a soldier's flattop haircut, and detailed lists of the work of done, the tampering they've done with my brain. My breakdown as a soldier, the tests, the reasons, the beatings, no fluff just the core, my number among many. It is proof. It is deadly. Have they all been subjected to this? "take a look at this, love," I tell my husband, "This is what I've been doing. It's the only time you'll ever get to see me like that, as a soldier, they'll never let me look like that again." I only mean the picture. I am proud of my work, I am sad at its forced end. I hand him the paper. He takes it in.

25 more copies, I am told by a robotic existence, 25 more copies will be available for printing or 25 e-copies for distribution, after that, no more, access will be permanently lost. So, I know, this is precious. I immediately want to opt for e-copies. But I don't know how to hide them, I resist. I fold the paper, and hide it in my boot.

And so. And so we can work to freedom. I am focused on my family. My friend on hers, our peers on theirs, and this faith binds us together, those invisible threads keeping us linked though we pay each other no mind.

Now it is the dead of night. Now it is the time for the attempt. To get away, minds intact, to show that file, if not me then someone must show that someone beyond the reach of the forces holding us dumb. It is dead of night.

We are silent. Sneaking families, all, sliding through shadows and bringing precious little. Over the sidewalks, down to the water; our ship is there, but not at shore. Do they know? it hasn't docked. We have no choice, we must try. Silent, slow, families slipping into the water, a sea of bobbing heads praying for shelter.


My husband cannot.


I try, it is so hard with my babies, how do I keep their heads above the waves? We are ok.

A commotion; they know, we are all in danger, the water becomes choppy, in the dark there is now a searchlight, blinding yellow, passing over, disorienting desperate eyes among the white foam peaks of the churning deep brown waters, then it settles elsewhere. There is just enough light for us to see, we see each other, there are so many, and then we know, through our invisible web, this boat is ours.

Friends aboard have cast a net, people cling to it and make it aboard, a storm is brewing. it becomes clear; this boat is rusted and older than the last, is it the same boat? happily disheveled, this boat will fight for us, crewed by an overburdened few, they are friends, but they speak harsh and sharp. our captors know, they have that light, they have been betrayed. They are coming.

Through the waves, I must get my babies on the vessel. I have one shot, I send my body as hard and fast as I can, the small child on my left, the big child and their father on the right, helping as they can, but the crowded waters pose a stark reality, we make it to the net in a straight line, a narrow v of ripples spreading out behind me as I power through to the massive olive green metal wall that is this ship, the white ropes popping against it's dullness, I almost sink, but I make it, we make it, and I climb to the top, onto the wet floor of the deck, the baby clinging to my chest as we go, my left arm clamped around her. I set foot, there is no time for breath, I am in the middle, there are so many still to be rescued, and we have so little time, we may be sunk, and the storm threatens to topple this ship, the wind whipping, the clouds rolling so much they are visible in the dark as simple, pure, sluggish motion, they yell at me to go go go, I am to take a seat among the rest, in the middle, fill as you go leave none empty there are so many to pack in...

there are dozens of rows on the exposed deck, rows of simple metal stools with basket-like curved backs, each one touching the next, laid out in a semi circle stretching as far as I can see. The first half is full, people are piling around me, I am to take a seat as well, they are slippery and rickety, but as I start towards them, the workers hand me my older child, no longer with her father, she clings to my back, my right arms grasps her, too, and my fear stifled only by sheer determination; how can I do this alone? I do not know where my husband is, I know only that those ropes will guide him, I am not worried.

I find a place to be, I try to take two, I am reprimanded, I must hold both children in my one seat, there is not room for more, and as I move to sit there is a large swell, the boat rears violently upwards, wind, rain and now waves try to tear us all away, and I am terrified, how to keep my children safe from drowning? My big girl's arms wrapped around my neck, the little one pulling my clothes, I grab the rusted out, once-blue-green back of the chair in front of me and try my best to squeeze the girls with my arms, wedge the three of us onto this bolted metal circle and pipes that calls itself a seat.

The wave passes, more people board, I buckle down for a long night of danger, and as the wind whips and the waves threaten to overcome this old boat and the noise overwhelms, as our wardens bare down upon us, the rust giving my eyes focus through the rain while my muscles strain to hold and not crush, in the growing chaos and weakening odds I feel the love that threatens to burst my heart, my will demands, I know only that I can do my best.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On the DOJ

Hazel: (signing) Where's Baba?
Me: Baba's in DC. He's probably getting ready for work right now (looks at clock) Oh, actually, it's 8:00 already, which means in DC it's 9:00 and he's probably already at his office.
Cadence: But Baba doesn't work at an office, he works helping police-es to change the way they work.

[two hours later, as I'm writing this post, I couldn't remember how she phrased it so I asked her what baba did for work, and this time she elaborated:]

Cadence: He works with police-es to change the way they work, because sometimes people do things that they aren't supposed to, and sometimes when that happens, the police-es have to grab them, and sometimes when they do that, they do it a little too rough. And Baba works to make sure that doesn't happen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farewell, Cinnaminimonmon

Goodbye, Cinni-mini-mon, our Cinni-not-so-mini, tigger tiger sneezy cat.

You have no idea how profound a hole the loss of your unassuming companionship has made in all of our lives. Your friendly, meowing conversations, the strange attachment you had to that pair of pink barbie underwear-short things, the way you would get yourself locked in the pantry closet and we'd find you hours later, perfectly happy, having chewed your way into the food bag.

The snakes you'd drag in to the dining room, the comfortable way you'd plop down and snuggle with (or on top of) us on the couch or in the bed. Your chattering, happy self, your adept moth-chasing skills, your inexplicable speed given your size. How easy it was to make you purr happily. Your amazingly tolerant disposition, and even the way you'd suddenly spring once your limit had been reached.

I hope you enjoyed your life with us here, because we sure as hell adored every second that we had with you. I could go on forever about you, your sweet, loving, feisty at times but laid back manner, your amber eyes that matched your awesome orange fur so well, and all the wonderful things you'd do, all the memories you gave us, all the joy and wonderful gifts you gave us over the years.

You left us all too soon, Cinnicat. We weren't done nuzzling you and begging you for company, watching your delight at every meal, greeting you in video chats from afar...

Rest in peace, babycat.
We love you.
And we always will.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monstrous Mortality

They say that young children are more in tune with matters of the spirit; today I am convinced that it's true.

Cadence, Hazel and I arrived in Kentucky about a week ago. Cadence has taken to recreating the circus she put on with her class at the end of the year, and one evening shortly after our arrival she stopped mid-performance to ask me: "Mama, why did they put Puppalina in fire at the vet, after she was dead?" I was shocked; there was absolutely no context for this sudden inquiry into our beloved pup's cremation more than two years ago. She went through a prolonged phase of timid fascination with death about a year ago, but we haven't really discussed the subject at all in months - and she was literally mid-circus. "ladies and gentlemen! Let's hear it for the...Mama, why did they put Puppalina in fire at the vet, after she was dead?" I answered her, of course, and we had a decently long conversation, and then she went on with the show. Literally.

Cinnamon didn't eat anything that night.

A day or two later, we were all hanging out in the living room when Cadence suddenly got extremely sad, seemingly for no reason at all. When I asked what was wrong, she burst into tears and clung to me tightly and said "I'm really going to miss you when you're dead!"

I was again bowled over by this out-of-the-blue awareness. We talked for a while, about death and love, about life and mortality, and she even volunteered that when she grows up she's going to go off on her own but will come visit, and then, when I pass, it won't be the same and she'll be really sad, but she'll still have Hazel and hopefully her own family. She's not even 4 yet. She breaks my heart.

Our conversation concluded and tears dried, she bounded off once more to play. About 3 hours later, she was off playing with Gjon while I worked in the kitchen with Hazel when suddenly Cadence came running into the room with a devastatingly reserved look of pain on her face and threw herself silently into my arms. At that moment Hazel was very loudly screaming about some perceived injustice or other, so I hugged her and set her down to attend the screaming. My mom picked her up and she clung there, crying silently, until I got Hazel settled and could hear her answers when I asked what was wrong.

As I brushed the tear-soaked hair out of her eyes, she described seeing what it would look like when I am dead, and that it made her really really sad. What had inspired such vivid images? "I was playing with Gjon but now he laid down and isn't doing anything." (To be fair, Gjon told me later that she evidently 'stabbed' him with a light saber just before that happened.)
We talked again, and she admitted that she'd been thinking about death a lot lately, but she didn't know why.

It became clear shortly after this that our kitty Cinnamon was suffering from more than just a passing stomach bug.

Before heading out on Monday morning, we each gave her a kiss and some gentle pets, and told her how much we loved her. I can't express how insanely grateful I am for that seemingly simple interaction now.

Kelly took her to the vet before we got back that day. She was immediately admitted to the hospital.

Playing 'art school' with Cadence that afternoon, (I was dubbed 'teacher' and told "now you teach us to do art," which, if you now me, you know I find hilarious since, if anything, adults need to re-learn how to create from kids, but I digress) I gave her the assignment to draw or paint something that scared her. We talked about it as she worked; her creation was an intricate and very unique 'monster' which was sort of amorphously ball shaped, covered in long fur in several shades of green, and it had several big claws, each of with had a mouth filled with teeth, but otherwise this monster had no face or appendages. I was impressed. And slightly surprised that her awesome little mind came up with that; I'd been expecting either something more obviously related to a specific fear, or something or totally generic.

But then she took the assignment in a direction I did not expect. The news interrupted the art lesson. Cinnamon was in complete renal failure; her kidneys had shut down. If she made it through the night, there was some hope that she could come home later in the week on a very complicated care setup including regular subcutaneous fluids, and even then she would probably only have another 6 months or so.

Cadence, who still had her green marker in her hand, slowly reached up and began streaking her cheeks, deliberately, in a downward motion. "what are you doing?" I asked. "drawing tears" she said, "because Cinnamon isn't coming home."

Cinnamon did make it through the night, and mom and kelly were able to visit her. Some hard decisions were on the table; they decided to do another round of blood work to see how things were going. She was better, but not better enough.

She made it through another night, but she wouldn't take her medicine in the morning. Her condition was so poor I can't bear to think of how much pain she must have been in...This afternoon Cadence told me she wanted the doctor to give her the special medicine to help her die quickly and stop hurting, because she wouldn't ever get better enough to not feel miserable. The sound that came from her after that can really only be described as Keening.

Kelly and Mom came to the same conclusion. They were with her at the end. They brought her body back home to the only house she ever lived in, where the girls and I were waiting with heavy hearts. Cadence reverently rested her head on my shoulder, and Hazel declared jdeh-jdeh! (her word for kitty) and waved goodbye, then looked at me knowingly and bowed her head. We buried our beloved Cinnamon beside Ragamuffin under the rose bushes in the yard. We mixed Puppalina's ashes into the soil, so the earthbound forms of the three of them are now returning, together, to the next phase in the ever-present cycle of life.

We don't know exactly what happened to our poor cinni-kitty, but the most likely scenario is that she ingested some fragments of the tiger lilies that volunteered in the yard. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats, and even if we had taken her to the vet sooner, they mostly likely wouldn't have been able to do anything to prevent the fatal outcome. We are all devastated by her early departure; she wasn't even 10 years old, and was a mostly healthy and contented cat. We have always loved her dearly. And we always will.

Whatever the case, Cadence seemed far more tuned in to the presence of a life or death situation than the rest of us did. Even now, despite all the crying I've done, part of me is solidly in denial, I can't believe that she really isn't waiting for dinner in one of her favorite hiding spots; I'm surprised when I don't see her on mom's bed...

Perhaps Cadence could sense Cinnamon's spirit loosening itself from its fleshy embrace. Perhaps she was being haunted by the knowledge of transition, and as she felt her go she looked to us adults to understand our lack of awareness. Perhaps she found only ignorance, or suppressed understanding. I hope we aren't teacher her to doubt her instincts.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Derrick & The Black Sea

James has been very busy these days, what with the normal classes and homework that come with being in law school along with a few freelance jobs, in addition to being on the board of a student group AND now the journal he's been working on for the past year, all while working on the ongoing litigation against our former landlords and being a present and active father and I am very happy to report that he has been able to find some time to focus on something that has always been a passion for him; his music!

James has been performing with our good friend Derrick Karg as part of his band Derrick & The Black Sea. Still a fledgling trio, James, Derrick and their musical partner Richard Ruggiero have a really awesome, unique style - the 'name' of which genre, I understand, is somewhat controversial; "hard folk" and "folk metal" have both been suggested, but Derrick insists that it is "dark country rock"...They perform mostly original work, so I guess the moral is that you'll have to go out and hear them, and then decide for yourself what to call it (and, I suppose, report your conclusions)!

I had the great fortune to actually attend one of their concerts recently (a rarity since they tend to play bars and clubs that are understandably inappropriate for the little ladies) and had a blast. I've posted one of their songs below, though it is one of the more traditional songs that they played early in the set...I totally recommend that you all come see them really rock out in person!

Happily, you'll have the opportunity to do just that TONIGHT!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
7pm at Spike Hill, located at 184 Bedford street in Brooklyn.

Go out, support some great musicians, and Enjoy!

Oh, and check out their facebook page, too! Just click here!

Below is a (terrible sound quality, sorry) video of Derrick & The Black Sea performing Colorado & Down at Sullivan Hall.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quite a Conversation

Cadence really doesn't like Dora the Explorer.

She's seen a few episodes, and developed a fairly pronounced distaste for the series - she found it condescending and uninteresting. It used to be mostly a non-issue, but lately a lot of people have, for whatever reason, started asking her if she likes it. I think she feels somewhat attacked by these inquiries, and has started vehemently correcting folks who mistakenly assume that she must like it because she is a girl of a certain age. (Go Cadence, really...) She's not rude, just quite blunt, and will refuse toys, stickers, or other small items people offer to gift her by saying "well, I really don't like Dora, so I won't really like that." or such to that effect.

A nuance to this is that a couple of years ago, before she'd been exposed to the show, my agent gave her a plush Dora doll which she treasured greatly. Her appreciation for this doll hasn't waned much over the years, but she did become somewhat disenchanted with it once she realized it's unwelcome associations. This all culminated the other day in what I think is kind of an awesome conversation.

Cadence: Mom, I really don't like the word (with a viscous, dripping disdain) 'Dora'
Me: You mean you don't like the name Dora?
Cadence: Yeah, I don't want her to be named Dora anymore.
Me: Well, you can always rename her if you want to.
Cadence: Yeah, I want to. I'm going to give her a new name. She has a new name now.
Me: Already? What is it?
Cadence: From now on, she's going to be called Zsa Zsa GaborPaper.

And you know what? It stuck. If you happen to see this lady walking around with her plush companion, remember; it's not ice-skating Dora, it's ice-skating Zsa Zsa GaborPaper.

That's my girl.

Monday, May 9, 2011



Cadence, age 9 months.

Hazel, age 8 months.

Yup, they're sisters alright!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Busy busy busy

We're still here, friends.

Life's just been so full, and we've been spending our time trying to keep up with the moment, and revel in every awesome little bit of it, and thus we lose track of silly things like time...what, I'm 6 months behind in updates here? um...

Oh look! Cute kids!

Hopefully we'll be back with more consistent updates in the near future. In the meantime, know that we're sending warm thoughts to you all. Much love!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A few moments ago:

Cadence: what are you eating?
Me: the last bit of sandwhich.
Cadence: my sandwhich?
Me: yes.
Cadence: why were you eating my sandwhich?
Me: It was just one last little bit, and it wasn't worth keeping but I didn't want it to go to waste.
Cadence: But I'm worth keeping...
Me: you sure are! You and your sister are the two best-est awesome-ist kids ever in the whole wide world, as far as I'm concerned!
Cadence: What are you concerned about, mom?!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Groundhog Was Right!

No one believed those groundhogs when, in the midst of a snowstorm, they predicted the coming of spring, but at least here in NYC things seem to be heading springward! (Or, y'know, things are just being actively tricked by a very belated January thaw...)

With the weather today in the 60's, I thought I'd share a few nuggets of cuteness to warm at least your hearts.

You know its spring when you have four cute kids sitting on an open air bench eating ice cream and causing passers-by to crash into parked cars on the street:

But you know its eeeearly spring yet, 'cause the baby's still bundled. But as least she got to venture out sans-hat for the first time in months.

One more, for good measure. L-R here are James, Luca, Cadence, and Maya:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Still here!

Things have been busy - good, wonderful, even, but busy - so I must apologize for the lapse in posting...

but I assure you, we are still here! And still busy. But, I wanted to at least share with you all a glimpse into the awesome progress these kids have been making at...well, life, and growing and all that. And so, as a tide-me-over and a promise that I will post more soon(ish), may I present to you Hazel Being Amazel and Cadence Performing a Tongue-Twister:

Hazel Amazel & Cadie Twists Tongues from Kat Stroot on Vimeo.