Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Coming back from lunch yesterday, I drove past one of those big corporate lawns outside an office building. I saw two small clusters of people on the grass. A man was trying to walk from one group to the other carrying a spoon full of water. Oh Lord, I thought. Is that a team-building exercise?
I feel magical today. I am bespeckled with purple fairy dust. It’s in my fingernails and under my skin. I sprinkled purple glitter onto Lilah’s fairy wings, and sprayed her hair purple, to get her ready for her play. I was practically gassing her. Colored hair spray is toxic and nasty. Lilah made a graceful entrance, spinning onstage in her purple dress and silver slippers. She waved her wand and tantalized Pinocchio with the prospect of being a real boy. But first he had to meet her stringent requirements: be honest, respect and obey his father, and go to school. That’s a school play for you, always slipping in a plug for THE MACHINE.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
One thing Lilah likes to do these days is to brush Annabelle’s teeth. Annabelle will actually sit still and let her do it.
Yesterday Lilah said, “I wrote “apple” . I looked to see that she had drawn an absolutely perfect capital “A”.
Lilah’s getting better at drawing faces. At first, when she added hair, she drew hair all over the face. Now she keeps the hair on top of the head. Her heads look more like small boulders than heads, and the eyes are big, gaping holes, but each person she draws bears a crooked smile, and looks quite amiable indeed.
Lilah calls McDonald’s “Old McDonald’s.” She’ll say, “We got french fries at Old McDonald’s.”
Lilah said she wanted to eat some “mouse cheese.” What kind of cheese was that? I asked. She said it was the kind “with the holes in it.”
Lilah’s been drawing people with long bodies. She calls them “carrot people.”
Lilah still mangles a few words. She says “grave” for “gave” and “grive” for “give”. She says “bemenber” for “remember” and “beleven” for “eleven.”
When she has something to tell you, she says, “Did you mamber” (Do you remember) and then launches breathlessly into a monologue about something you might remember or something you have no prior knowledge of.
Lilah asked where she would be if I wasn’t here. I said I guess she’d be with God in heaven. Lilah said, “I don’t know how to go there! That’s too far for me to walk…I’ll get tired. It’s hard to get there, you know.”
(One night when we were babysitting another toddler, named Adrienne.) :
Lilah found some shoes that she considered tap shoes, and she wanted to put them on and dance in them. That made Annabelle want some dress shoes too. So I went to hunt some up, and then Lilah decided that all three of them should have tap dance shoes. While I was trying to find shoes to fit and put them on, Lilah got more and more excited. “This is gonna be GREAT! We’re all gonna have tap dance shoes!!” she said. When I expressed some doubt about the shoes fitting Adrienne, Lilah said confidently, “I know they’re fitting. This is gonna be GREAT!” In reality, Annabelle quickly grew tired of wearing the shoes, and Adrienne didn’t want to dance, but Lilah wore the shoes and danced for us.
Lilah is excited about Valentine’s Day, because she knows it involves chocolate! When she woke up this morning she asked what day it was. Then a little later she asked when we could start eating the candy. She told me several times last night that Daddy had bought me chocolate, and then told me that it was supposed to be a secret.
Lilah talks about what it would be like if she ate too much. “Then my stomach would get REALLY big and you’d have to lift me up with a crane!!!”
Lilah again on eating too much, on a separate occasion: “When your tummy gets big you have to be lifted up by a crane! You gotta hold on!!”
I made a comment to Lilah that throwing up is no fun. Lilah agreed. “It’s not a game,” she said. “It’s boring.”
Lilah was talking about how her lips were too dry. “I want my lips to be slimy like a slimy snake.”
Lilah was watching a show where the toys come to life. “When will they get into real?”
Lilah and I were making microwave popcorn. Lilah was anxious to turn the microwave off and make it ding, but I told her it wasn’t time yet. The popcorn was still popping too fast. As the popping finally slowed down, Lilah said, “It’s getting tired.”
It’s been fun to watch Lilah’s drawings of people evolve. Now the eyes are no longer big gaping holes, but are a circle within a circle. And now the nose has sprouted two little growths on the side that look kind of like warts. Lilah says that is the “breathing part” of the nose.
Lilah’s drawings continue to get more detailed all the time. Now she is drawing circles inside her people’s ears, calling them “the wax that keeps the sand, dust and dirt from coming in your ears.” Yeah, she’s drawing earwax. Hopefully not mine. She also draws eyelashes on the eyes, and hanging out of the mouths are long stringy lines that look like noodles, that she says are teeth.
I told Lilah that when she was inside me she hiccuped a lot. Lilah said, “How did I get inside? Did I jump in?”
Lilah called the bow-tie pasta, “humpy feet” pasta. While we were eating, she started talking about predators. (she’d been watching animal shows on TV.) She was talking about hyenas killing spring hares. She said “mean guys are predators” and “dogs are predators who people take care of.”
(On another night) Lilah was telling us how fisher cats eat porcupines, or at least try to. Lilah was also busy planning her upcoming birthday party. She told me we had to have a pinata at her party. And balloons. She wanted me to assure her there would be balloons. But she was especially concerned about sprinkles; we’ve discussed this before. Lilah was somehow convinced there wouldn’t be any sprinkles on her birthday cake. I told her that of course we can have sprinkles. We can go to the grocery store and buy sprinkles. Lilah took that to mean that we would go to the store during her party to buy the sprinkles, and she grew very concerned that we would be leaving the people at her party while we went to get sprinkles!
Lilah and I caught some very acrobatic figure skating on TV. I asked Lilah how she would like it if I spun her around and threw her up in the air and caught her. She said, “I think that would be dangerous!”
Friday, May 15, 2009
I like this ad for bicycles. I'm fascinated by the woman (man?) riding the bike and the expression on the clown's face. I especially like the black hat, and the shadows cast by the bike.
Drove all over town trying to find Lilah a suitable dress for her purple fairy costume. First stop was Dottie Mae's on Wornall. They have a basement full of period and character costumes. On your way downstairs, pause to check out the Wall of Hoky Record Albums. They have album covers from cheesy recordings of the 60's and 70's that are not to be believed.
Left Dottie Mae's in a developing thunderstorm and headed to U.S. Toy. A cavernous shed with miles of aisles that seems to have every educational, recreational, and party-related kid item known to man. They have a small costume department in the back. To get to it you pass through the magic shop, which is a little world unto itself. The clerk at the magic counter was watching a magic trick DVD with the security guard.
U.S. Toy has a great wig selection, but their costumes are so-so. They only have the packaged costumes, and packaged fairy outfits are always very risque. We did find a cloak suitable for the part of the play where Lilah turns into an old hag. We drove home in a torrential downpour.
The next morning we went downtown to Retro Inferno, which is across from the Sprint Center. I had read online that they had tons of vintage clothing and costumes. When we got there, we were told that they had stopped selling clothing a long time ago. The guy referred us to Reruns, down in the West Bottoms. I wanted to stay and look at the furniture, which was avante-garde and retro-inspired. But we were on a mission.
So we drove over the 12th street bridge to an old, warehousey area. Reruns was located in what looked like a turn of the century building. I wasn't sure where the entrance was, until I saw a piece of notebook paper taped to the window that said, "Reruns is Open. Upstairs" We climbed a long flight of dusty stairs to reach the shop. Passed a small pile of hat boxes on the landing. Stepping through the open doorway, we entered a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Racks and racks of vintage clothes, old movie posters, and a nice, smiling proprietor who was playing Bebop records. One room gave way to the next --I could hardly keep track of which rooms we'd already been through.
I want to go back there sometime just to browse for myself. But on this trip I had to stay focused. We finally found a small purplish nightgowny garment that mostly fit Lilah and could be adapted for a fairy outfit. We already have wings, from the time she played an angel in a Christmas play.
Annabelle's school play was last week. She was a prisoner in a pirate play, so all she had to do was rip up an old shirt and jeans and muddy herself. That is by far the easiest costume we've ever had to make.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
One thing the girls and I always look forward to when we go out to grandma's is her cable TV. The trouble is, the movie channels wait until the wee hours to show the hippie movies. I always notice some off-beat movie coming on right before I should be heading for bed. Of course I have to stay up to watch it, and I end up going to bed at some ridiculous hour. And even at my age, I'm still nervous about mom suddenly emerging from her room and scolding me for being up.
When I was out there last December, I watched "Alice's Restaurant," with Arlo Guthrie, which came on around 2:00 in the morning. This time, I watched "The Trip" with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Peter's character drops acid and has an extended psychedelic experience that goes on and on and on. It grows tedious at times. Director Roger Corman uses lots of the same camera shots over and over, but splices them together and speeds them up, in an attempt to make the film wild and trippy.
The film was fun to watch though, as a campy trip back to the 60's. Fonda enters a groovy club where a girl with body paint dances feverishly. The interiors in the movie were far out, as were a lot of the scenes flashing by while Fonda was tripping.
I wasn't sure what statement the film was trying to make about acid. The film opens with a disclaimer saying: LSD IS EVIL. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. But some speculate that the film was really made as sort of a manual for LSD users. There are a lot of places where Fonda's trip turns bad, but some say the filmmaker was making sure he couldn't be accused of making a pro-drug film.
What was even weirder was the movie I watched the next morning, a 1955 film called "Lovers and Lollipops". It seemed like an art film, because though it was black and white, the lighting was incredible and it had a rich aesthetic quality. And it had very little plot. A beautiful widowed woman with a 7 year-old daughter named Peggy starts dating an engineer. The camera quietly follows their unfolding relationships---the growing romance between the couple, Peggy's resistance to mommy's new boyfriend, the boyfriend's effort to bond with Peggy, the ensuing conflict between the couple when Peggy comes between them..and the resolution. This all takes place in New York City at landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Central Park. The cinematography was superb, and the film was nuanced in its portrayal of the emotions that occur in three-way relationships. The antics of Peggy were so natural and true to life, I recognized my own kids time and time again. She may be the closest thing to a real little girl l've seen on-screen. It was unlike any film from the 50's I've seen. I highly recommend it.
But the weirdest thing we saw last weekend was a show on the History Channel, "How William Shatner Changed the World." The title was tongue in cheek, but the premise of the show was how Star Trek had inspired many of our advances in science and technology. William Shatner was the narrator, naturally, which kept things in the quirky, comical vein. The factual segments were interwoven with clips from Star Trek and sight gags involving Shatner. The most surreal moment was when they showed Shatner sitting in a port-a-potty. I don't even want to try to explain why.
When Lilah became hooked on Star Trek earlier this year, we didn’t know a new movie was on the way. Now that the movie is out, Star Trek stuff is everywhere. When we rolled into Hays, the sign at the Burger King said, "Star Trek Cups Are Here." The front page of the Hutch News displayed the top edge of Spock's face.
Although Lilah only likes the original TV series and has no interest in the new movie, or the Next Generation, or Deep Space Nine, it’s a good time to be an old-school Trekkie. Because the movie is inspiring new batches of merchandise related to the old TV show. On one of our stops on the way to Ness, we found a Pez Collection with the entire crew from the original series: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov. The Pez company had tried to make the faces realistic. Lilah likes the fact that the Pez version of Dr. McCoy has bags under his eyes.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The drug store has moved, but it still smells the same as it did when I went there to buy Archie comics as a kid. Inside the entrance there is a fortune-telling machine that gives your "wate and fate" for a penny. I gave it a try last weekend. I dropped my penny through the top middle slot and I got this message:
"More church and fewer nightclubs would do you some good."
Say what? I have spent several lifetimes in church, thank you. Languished through hours of sermons during the prime years of my nubile youth. My church-goin' dues are paid IN FULL. I decided to try the machine again. There were five different coin slots, so I put my penny in a different slot the second time around. Ka-chung! (Mechanical noises). I looked down and read my message. Accckk! It was the same as before.
Well some how or other, I did wind up in a church before the weekend was out. But I only went there to eat. Mom talked me into going to some interfaith ladies potluck thing. I agreed to go because it was a gathering of women from competing churches, and because they were meeting in the Methodist church, which seemed safe and neutral to me, kind of like Switzerland.
Most of the women at the potluck were elderly. They were neatly dressed, and came bearing churchy salads containing Cool Whip and marshmallows, Jello and marshmallows, Cool Whip and Jello and marshmallows. The colors of their salads were bright and unworldy: Vulcan Lime, Interplanetary Pink, Alien Orange.
The women ate serenely and chatted quietly about how good the salads were. Then came the surprise of the evening. They turned their chairs towards the wall to watch a slide show about troubled youths growing up in desperate circumstances, who are removed from crack houses and abusive environments and turned over to the state. Turns out the Methodists run the Thrift Shop downtown, and part of the proceeds support the programs at Youthville, a child welfare agency which helps children all over the state of Kansas. The docile setting of that church basement with those white-haired ladies seemed a world away from the social ills being described to us.
On Mother's Day we went to the potato bar in the cafeteria of Sacred Heart Elementary, an appendage of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. We ate more fluffy salads in bright colors, containing Cool Whip, Jello and marshmallows. We also ate veggie salads containing varying ratios of bacon bits, mayonnaise and peas.
There is some ingredient in these salads that makes me eat more than I should. Maybe it's the spaced out colors. Maybe it's the shapelessness, that makes me lose all sense of proportion. I need sober food with defined edges, lest I become a blimp. It's a good thing I don't live out there.