Tuesday, June 30, 2009


And now we have two boys walking...

Monday, June 29, 2009

it's all fun and games...

Until somebody gets hurt!

No, seriously, no one was hurt. Since the boys are made of India rubber and puppy dog tails, they were just fine. I, on the other hand, peed my pants laughing.

Hope you do too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

As Ready As It's Going To Be

We never did find the lighthouse, though it should have been easy enough. We did find the roastery, and the farmer's market, and the old school pharmacy, the kind with toys and yarn and everything under the sun, and the book store and more. I filled two rolls of 120 with photos of Kate and green views, and patches of flowers next to old buildings with flaking yellow paint. Kate bought two sourdough starter jugs, two pie pans, and a side dish server for $5, and I bought 3/4 length gloves and a giant old dictionary and a nice hardcover copy of Simone de Beauvoir's "America Day By Day".

I could have stopped twenty-seven more times on our meander around the island. I kept seeing things I wanted to photograph, an old sign, or the way the road curved, more flowers, weathered wood. I do tend to be drawn to the same things over and over again. Photos of feet, people walking away. But I especially had a million more ideas for portraits I wanted to take, so that's what I'll start with, on the new blog, which you can visit here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fathers Day in the Big City

Look Mommy! It's the place where the food takes FOREVER!

Well, I won't win any prizes for being the most prepared mother (or daughter) for this Father's Day. I didn't get a package out to Dad and Eugene had to order his own gift off of the internets.

I did manage to get together cards from the boys for Euge, but since there are drugstores on every corner of this city, that isn't exactly a major accomplishment.

Even so, we had a lovely Father's Day. I let Euge sleep in until the crack of ten (the boys think 6:30 AM is a VERY appropriate hour to get up on a Sunday), we loitered around the house for the morning and then went out to brunch.

Actually, it was more like a late lunch... and we fed the boys on the subway on our way downtown. The one convenient part of the trains running local on weekends is that it allows us a leisurely amount of time to stuff food into the little boogers, so that we can enjoy our food once we get to wherever we are going.

We went to The Park and got a lovely seat in the atrium, under the trees. We ordered our food and a drink for each of us and just sat back, ready to relax and just enjoy the boys, a delicious meal (not prepared by my hands) and a gorgeous setting.

An hour later, the boys were still being their own adorable selves... and Euge and I were still waiting for our food.


I think it is a well known fact that I am not someone who handles hunger particularly well. Compounded by the fact that I noticed at least four tables that were seated after us had FINISHED their meals before ours even arrived... and you can imagine just how charming I was when the bill came.

Actually, I think I was relatively charming. There was no crying, or yelling, or expletives. The manager took some items off of our bill and we rescinded the vow to never go back there again.

Then came the actually honest-to-god really good part. We went to go visit the new High Line Park. It is just unbelievably cool.

It's designed to make use of the elevated train tracks over by Chelsea Piers and they did an amazing job of integrating cast concrete, native plantings and the original train rails.

There is a whole section with chaise lounge style benches and a covered section with a neon installation and another with a stained glass installation. There are elevators for breeders like us who need to bring the stroller for the kidlets.

There is also the section where the boys are in the picture above, which is recessed stadium style seating looking out of a giant glass wall overlooking 10th Avenue.

We had so much fun walking around and checking out all of the park's features that the long wait for food was almost totally forgotten.

Now if only I could have remembered where the charger was for our camera BEFORE we went, so that I could have gotten some decent pictures! Like I said, I won't be getting any prizes...

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Tornado Loves You*

The guys at the camera store have almost got my name right. Today the one who took my two rolls of film looked at me, pen poised above the order envelope, and said "Michelle? No..." knowing already that he wasn't quite getting it right. When I said "Close!" and told him my last name, he said, "Ah! That's where I was getting the M." The other dark-haired guy hovered near where we were talking, grinned and said "Still playing with that Diana?" and then called me the Diana Princess after I said yes.

I've said before that I've been thinking about photos, and writing. I've also been thinking about the blog. For a while now, my posts have been trickling off, and while I still like being here and am even still inspired by the format from time to time, I'm thinking it might be time to make some changes to how I do things here. I think those twins are excellent candidates to take over this space and be Shameless Self-Promoters, The Next Generation, with weekly updates from Auntie.

For myself, I'm thinking about starting a photo blog, a place to update more regularly without the pressure to write. I could write there or not. I realize that, technically, I could do that here, but I don't think it would feel right to me. I'd like to keep this a place where I can write once a week, more update-type posts, like it was originally meant to be when this blog was started so long ago as a place for us to keep in touch from coast to coast.

Still thinking about it all, and of course when I get it settled for myself, this will be the first place I come to report.

* If you haven't heard this song by Neko Case, you should! Gorgeous.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Love My New Camera And She Loves Me

A scan of these photos just doesn't capture their charm. A big part of it is in the printing, little 4x squares, matte with a white border. If only there was an option to get the date printed on tiny letters on the side, just like the real vintage photos. Really though, everything about the Diana F+ makes me happy. I love the silly plastic lightness of it, the shutter that you pull down, the way you can hang it around your neck by it's plastic strap, the little rolls of 120 film that come wrapped in plastic like big candies. I like going to the little camera store in Kenmore to drop the rolls off, and the way all the guys there are completely intimidating in their knowledge of photography. They show me pretty $600 cameras that have the viewfinders you look down into, and talk about what might have caused most of one roll to come up totally blank. "It's really hard to underexpose with a Diana," they told me. Later, I realized it wasn't hard at all if you accidentally had the camera set to pinhole. Yeah.

Lately, I've been thinking that some of the excitement I felt about writing has been redirected to my little photo experiments. At night, I dream about taking photos, and driving to work I think of whole photo stories I want to play with. In the writing arena, it's been quiet. Trying to let that be okay for now.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

White jeans? Check!

You can't see them, but there are gold sandals under there...

So I feel like perhaps you are owed a report on our weekend in Florida... our marvelous, fun-filled, rain-soaked, too-short weekend in Florida.

It was weird leaving the boys, that goes without saying. Thomas woke up to bid us goodbye, but Max slept right through.

We had a 6 AM flight (a horrible, horrible plan) and planned to get in early enough to have a whole day to ourselves before the wedding. Unfortunately, thunderstorms kept us in the air, or on the ground in lovely Fort Meyers, Florida for most of the day.

We arrived in time to grab a late lunch, a quick nap and get ready for the wedding. Not exactly the leisurely day I was looking forward to, but seeing as how there were no babies crying, no babies asking for bottles, no babies needing to be chased down or entertained and no dirty diapers to contend with, it was actually kind of heavenly.

I hope that doesn't sound like I don't absolutely adore the boys, but the break was nice!

The wedding was charming, on a bluff overlooking the ocean with dinner and dancing and lots of champagne. I also had my first martini in 5 million years and that was tasty.

We were seated at the 'NYC Friends' table - though we only knew one other person. As it turned out, there was a couple who lives across the street from us in Washington Heights! They were delightful and I have already had them over to dinner once.

It was a late night - though I demurred from attending the wedding afterparty in the newlyweds' suite. I really really really wanted sleep. So that was what I did.

Sunday morning we lounged around until we had brunch with the newlyweds. Our room was really comfortable, with a gorgeous view of the ocean and a balcony. Café Au Lait and croissants, please!

Then we went on to the only 'cultural' activity in Jupiter, Florida - touring the lighthouse! It was a very nice lighthouse. With lots of stairs. And a giant mangrove tree out in front.

After, we went back to the resort and the beach and just lounged, drinking wine, reading and playing in the ocean. We went out to dinner - you'll be happy to know that I wore Lilly Pulitzer - and back for more sleep.

We had a very early return flight, which was - again - brutal. But we made it back. Perhaps a bit too soon... Obviously, it wasn't a super eventful trip - there was no rock climbing, kayaking or snow boarding... and the only epic part of it was dealing with the early morning flights. But it was nice to have some time alone, it was nice to see someplace new, and it was nice to have some relief from the constant percolating that goes on in my brain when I am caring for the boys.

And it was nice to get to wear my white jeans.

Monday, June 08, 2009

There Was More Than Just Fidgeting

The drive on Friday night took longer than four hours. It was a warm night, and I drove mostly with windows rolled down, resorting only to air conditioning when I couldn't bear the sound of the windows any more. I stopped when I felt like it, for a burger, some bad pink lemonade, the kind that comes out of those square machines with the self-filling fountains inside. Sometimes I just stopped at an exit, to take a photo of the landscape, because the clouds had turned a nice color, or because I had come upon that bit by the gorge where the horse sculptures sit up high and invite you to take their photo. I was happy to be on the road.
When I got to the dorms at Gonzaga, Christopher and the others were all out. The girl at the desk was doing needlepoint, gave me a key, told me where I could park my car. She looked so young. I liked it, the dorm room. Not that it was a nice room, it was just the twin beds, with thin mattresses covered in plastic, armoires and other furniture in that blonde wood that looks like plastic. It was just nice to be there, felt silly and momentous at the same time, waiting for my roommate, just like those first hours at St. John's.

When Jessica and the others came in, we realized that it had been nearly twenty years since I had seen her last, maybe during her time away from St. John's, my freshman year, maybe? We talked late into the night to make up for it. Frances and I know each other three ways, have met through three different friends who have nothing to do with each other whatsoever, and though I doubt I had ever met her husband John, it felt as though I had.

That first year I met Chris, I also met his friends Evan and Jason, who I love all out of proportion, as though they had been my high school friends, and not just Chris'. Evan was there, and I got to meet his wife Megan, finally. This delighted me since I had been told that she was a knitter, and indeed she is, even more than I am, a sock in her hands from the moment I first met her. I loved her instantly too. It is easy to love the people who Chris loves. This is the way it has always been with him, as though it's an atmosphere he lives in, a weather system that surrounds him.
The fact that Megan liked me back so easily, and let me know she did, made it even nicer when we stood in church together, and she took my hand at a moment when I was uncertain, and smiled without reserve, and kept me from worrying about a thing. For me, it's easy to be worried in church. When to sit, when to stand. Not only that, but there's the eucharist to worry about, and why all the priests are men. There were, by Jim's count, 120 of them there in church on Saturday. One after one, they filed up to bless the six priests who were being ordained, each of the older priests a little different from the next, someone with box pleats in the back of his robe, someone with a stole embellished with green leaves and vines, one with two long thin braids. Some leaned in close and moved their lips softly, some stood a bit more distant, eyes closed for a moment. One elderly priest rested a hand gently on Chris' shoulder and smiled before moving on.
It was all gentle, the mass. Both that day, and the next. I don't know how to tell you about it, those things that happen when you sit there in a church that long, watching someone you love become something much bigger than himself, and thinking about your own little part in all of it. It's complicated and simple. I thought about things, and also, I let go of thinking. I watched Christopher and saw his sweet happy face tighten a bit around the eyes, with emotion, and was glad I had gone back for a bit of tissue before we left the dorms.

When it was time to take communion, those of us who would not, or could not, were invited to come up, arms folded across our chests, for a blessing from our new priests. I stayed back at first, but then Megan went, encouraging me as she did, and then I just thought, it's Chris, Christopher, how could I not go? Whatever else I believed or did not believe in that moment, I believed in his blessing, and wanted it, so I followed Megan up the aisle, sheltered behind Evan, still nervous, but glad to be there. The moment when I stepped forward, and Christopher looked into my eyes and said his blessing wasn't the only moment when I found myself with tears in my eyes, but for me, it might have been the sweetest.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Good Weekend

We had a lovely, lovely weekend.

Friday night we stayed in and had sushi. A rare occasion in my life right now. It wasn't the best, but it was good enough to make me happy.

Then Saturday morning we left super early and headed up for Vermont. We were early enough that we got to stop at the Cracker Barrel in Massachusetts, so that the boys could have their first taste of blueberry pancakes and biscuits.

They were super cute and even the dire environment and tired flare of a Cracker Barrel could not keep the boys from being their very most adorable selves.

CrackerBarrel Thomas

My name is Thomas and I can fit this WHOLE biscuit in my face.

CrackerBarrel Max

My name is Max and I can fit this whole biscuit ON my face!

Then we went to the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro, where the boys showed off their own strolling abilities...

Round and round we go!

Then we FINALLY made it to the house. Where we watched several episodes of the 'classic' Sesame Street.

It immediately became apparent why they have disclaimers on it, labeling it as 'for entertainment purposes only' and 'not appropriate to educate today's pre-schoolers'.

Hello? The kids are crawling through construction sites! Which led to this video...

You'll be happy to know that we all made it home in one piece.

Friday, June 05, 2009

It Was So Clear It Was Almost Invisible

I often know whose live show will be good. That was a gift from Elvis. And that's why Sunday night was Jenny Lewis at the Showbox, and tonight was Neko Case at the Paramount. Jenny wore those high-waisted jeans again and used every inch of herself to seduce us. Neko brought a giant owl, a flickering moon, irreverence and white vinyl records to sell. I bought one of course, and one of the guys who asked about it turned out to be a local guy, class of '89 like me, friends with my friends. He told me that Elvis was the kind of guy you could drop in on a mountaintop in a loin cloth, and he'd survive. And love it. He wasn't completely wrong about that.

Tomorrow, Spokane.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Right Distance

After Amy's canoe tipped, she hung her Versace in a tree to dry and pulled on one of Lee's sweaters as pants. The Prada hat was beyond repair, and when I suggested that perhaps the thigh-high boots could be taken to a cobbler, the seam up the back re-fitted, she smiled serenely and said "They're just different boots now."

Things went neither against plan or with plan, since there wasn't one in the first place. We did think the bed in the office at Abe's was ours, but someone decided to fall in love back there instead. We went to Grayson's and stayed up until it was nearly sunrise, talking about what it was like to be in love with a wild animal trainer. In the morning, Grayson served coffee in mason jars, just like he promised, and I stood on the piano bench in my white pajamas and said "I rule your house!!" But I was a benevolent ruler, and short-lived.
Kristin put on all white and carried a parasol to the picnic, and I wore the flowered dress all day and into the night and the next day Lee described it as Oklahoma chic. I don't know what the madras bikini was, but I wore it and all my jewelry and sunglasses in his little pool next to the basketball court, and when he bent down to fasten the ankle strap on my heels, he said "I do love a well-turned ankle."
I didn't know how I could get any more satisfied than I was. I filled up the memory card again, and bought Its-Its for everyone and then some, and had two coffees at Ritual and an egg sandwich for breakfast, which is, without a doubt, my favorite vacation breakfast food.