Sunday, September 30, 2007

Maybe since it's almost Halloween some of us are starting to think about the holidays and maybe you should know about One Laptop Per Child . It's been on NPR, and in the current issue of Newsweek that highlights ways you can help the world. They originally hoped they could produce them for $100 each, but they came in at about $188. The launch date is November 12th. The website allows you to donate one for $200 and for a very brief period of time you will be allowed to buy one for your own child for the same price. So basically you get a laptop for $400.
These laptops have been designed with the needs of the developing world in mind. They are wireless, durable, and more power efficient than any computer on the market today. They can use alternate power-charging sources such as a car battery or hand powered by a crank, a pedal or a pull cord. The screen can be turned to be used as an e-book to replace the major cost of shipping textbooks, and can be read in full sunlight because outdoor classes are common in the developing world.
It's such an amazing project, please have a look.
Friendly Friday
Michael came to visit me at work. Here he is surrounded by an army of kachinas. It was a very full day already because just a few minutes before he arrived I was finishing up an interview with a reporter from the Times who is doing a story on feather conservation, and trying to get a part number to replace the thing on the vacuum cleaner that started smoking when Jackie tried to use it. For lunch we went to Phillipe's and ordered one of everything

These are so delicious.

Friday evening, after soccer practice, Theron and I went to Edendale to meet everyone for a going-away party for Susan, which was really just a see-you-later party because there's no way I won't see and talk to her, hopefully, as regularly. Theron was very curious about the photobooth, so Scott lent us some money to take a picture. In the 3rd one down I have my fingers in his armpits.

Saturday night I had to work our Gala and though I was close enough to touch Joe Pesci and Glen Campbell I didn't because I really only wanted to touch Willie Nelson, but I never got that close.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Touring the Southwest
We had some objects laid out for a tour last week and one of the things I set aside was this newspaper that was stuffed inside a fur parka from the Arctic. The paper is dated October 1948. The cover story is about a Japanese POW sentenced to death.

The paper was 7 cents.

A Nancy comic.

A L'il Abner comic.
There were lots of other classics like Orphan Annie. It's fun to see what it cost to rent an apartment in Bel Air, or that secretaries could make a dollar a day. What's so interesting is that things like furniture cost about what they do today. Newspapers from the 50's we've found show basic televisions costing about $150. It seems incredible, really.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

First, the car is okay now. Actually better than okay, she feels brand new and there is no lasting damage. Ashley and I went by the gas station Saturday with the bill and the guy told us it usually takes 7-10 days to get a check from the distributor. I thought, I'll believe it when I see it, and also usually? Does this happen a lot? The pump I used was not roped off and it wasn't roped off Friday either. True, I pumped it on Wednesday. Someone could have complained earlier and the problem could have been fixed. I still felt like I had to tell everyone so they can make their own decisions about whether or not to go there.

Sunday evening we went to the park behind the library in Glendale for a little barbeque Rebecca threw to celebrate her birthday and her departure from California. The food was good and it was fun, but Theron skinned both his knees and Ashley injured his so badly he had to take two days off of work. Rebecca made a pinata that she painted to look like a giant seed pod so that it would blend in with the trees and it could be "discovered". She wanted Theron to have the first shot so she asked a trivia question - Who is Spongebob's best friend? And only Theron knew the answer. We beat and beat that pinata, the string was severed twice, and we finally ended up kicking it like a soccer ball and the candy was flying all around in the dark. I said, did you use wheat paste? And she said, no, she's allergic to wheat so there was no flour in the house. Instead she used up the adhesives she had around, like wood glue.
Theron and Ashley hobbled back to the car and then our 15 minute trip home took over an hour because there was a 6 car accident on the 5 and we sat there with the engine off, eating candy and ibuprofen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I was right - unfortunately

Right now I am sitting here in my (still clean!) house being very sad. Two days ago I was so proud of myself for finding time between physical therapy and Rebecca's party to actually put gas in my car before the light came on. As I drove away I thought, hmm, it feels like the brake is on! Then I had trouble starting it up. I would drive along and it felt like it would die. I told Ashley I got bad gas and he took me to the dealership the next day since Layla was due for her 25K checkup anyway. She is only 2, this month.
Of course I told the guy who checked me in and he nodded his head like, okay, lady, we'll call you. Then they told me they fixed the problem and charged me for cleaning the throttle body. I picked it up this morning and turned right back around. They called at lunch and said, oh, your fuel pump is faulty but it's under warranty. Five minutes later he calls again and says, guess what, the gas is bad, it looks like it has something like motor oil in it. So far the damage is estimated to be between $800-$1000. He actually sounded so surprised when he gave me the news - bad gas! can you believe it?
Yes, I went to the gas station and the manager said of course, it's not his fault, it's the distributor, but if I give him the invoice from the dealer saying it was bad gas they will pay for it. He also said no one else had complained. My feeling is that he was a little too agreeable and a little too un-surprised.
Right now I'm just thankful no one was hurt by the car stalling in traffic, or something. I'm thankful for the credit card. And I will be thankful if my two year old car doesn't have permanent damage from this. I will be even more thankful if the total doesn't go up any more and if the distributor makes good on this.
Oh, well.
We think Theron is sorted out in his afterschool program, but we'll give it a few more days. He's still doing okay in the new school. He likes eating breakfast in the cafeteria. He likes using a spork. He has some little friends. This is a very sweet post from Finslippy about the joys of five. Theron's six, but it fits.
The dealership just called. The cost did go up quite a little bit, but they say it's not permanent damage. Now I have to go have a headache and a glass of wine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A funny thing happened today. I signed Theron up for an after school program and we talked about starting it tomorrow or Monday. As soon as we got there and met the coach for his grade and saw that a kid from his class was there he decided to start today, so I left him and found myself with 2 hours of free time. I came home and the house was clean because Mike and Erik came over last night. I don't have any projects to work on because we had Rebecca's party yesterday and gave her the doll. It's not hot as hell anymore so I could actually move and think. But I didn't know what to do. I even tried to take a nap but I couldn't. With nothing to do and clean space to do it in I hardly knew who I was.

We had a lovely visit with Mike and Erik who came for pizza and the premier of Top Model. Theron, the perfect host, drew them each a picture of a Transformer and asked if they were here yet every five minutes for over an hour. Partly out of excitement and partly out of the desire to remain in nothing but his underwear for as long as possible. While they probably wouldn't have cared one way or the other Ash and I think it's important for Theron to start learning to recognize situations when pants are called for.

Rebecca's going away came off fabulously. We met at Senor Fish in Eagle Rock and the proprietor was super nice to us. Rebecca requested this location - I guess she's not expecting to find a good fish taco place in Omaha. Our most fabulous, multi-talented volunteer Dennis had told us at the last going away party, a week ago Thursday, that his son was dating Billy Idol's daughter. At this going away party they had broken up. People were trying to explain what Billy looked like because though Dennis had heard of him he didn't know if he'd ever seen him.

Rebecca LOVED the doll and I'm told she spent the afternoon trying on the clothes.

Blythe in her box. Coat by Naomi, dress by Nick. She is reading The Tao of Willie by Willie Nelson

Here's a cat suit I made out of the spandex we use for covering the mannequins. I found the chain at Michael's where I have spent every day for the last 2 weeks.

In the midst of planning this party another person quit (her last day is next Friday) and a second announced she's quitting during lunch. I just don't know what we're going to do. It's too hard to plan a nice farewell with only two weeks notice, and I'm sad because the one going first is a wonderful friend - a fellow mother and quilter. She counsels me about navigating the school system. She instructs me on how to keep doll clothes from being sucked into the sewing machine by the feed dogs. The second is moving to NY and frankly I don't think you get to move to NY and get a party. In fact I should paint ball her car. Oh, but I'm happy for her, of course. Now I am of the opinion that anyone else leaving should throw their own party and give us, who are staying, presents. And you know what, that is what Rebecca did. I don't know how she found the time but she made us all these magnets out of paint and paper, of different Nebraskan landscapes. She wrote her email address on the back. She also promised to take pictures of Blythe on the road.

Actually today she sent us a picture of the doll wearing or using an item that each of us made - it's the image at the head of this post. Dress by me, obi by Naomi (with the kimono at her feet), cuffs by Joanne, boots by Nick and whip by Jorge.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This is Theron before soccer practice:
I'm tired. I didn't have time to rest today. I can't find my socks. I'm thirsty. I have to pee. My armpits itch.

This is Theron at soccer practice:
Excuse me? I don't know what to do. What flags? That flag? To the grass or the dirt? Can I have a drink? Which foot? You used your left foot twice and then your right foot.

Theron at the game today: Scores the first goal and the only one his team gets all day.

Here's Theron, cool in Silverlake during lunch with Michael. Afterwards we went back to his apartment where they played hide and seek. We heard Theron run into the bedroom and slam the closet door. Mike says loudly to me, "OH NO, I hope he didn't go into the closet with the MONSTERS!"

Theron has decided that people who speak more than one language are cool and he wants to be cool. Obviously Spanish would be a good choice, or it would even be neat if he learned a little more Japanese since he started it already at Lumbini. But no, he wants to speak French. So I gave him some words to work on and if he stays interested we'll get a video. He can say, My name is Theron, thank you, stuff like that. When I ask him to do something he says, 'D'accord!' - Okay - a big improvement over what he normally says which is 'I know!'

Saturday, September 08, 2007

End of Summer
Theron started public school this week and it seems to be good. I told his teacher the first day that he talks a lot and she said he wouldn't soon. When I picked him up she said, "He does talk a lot but he's very bright. We need to work on the eye rolling, though". Theron loves many things about this new school that is soooo big. He loves that his classroom is up a flight of stairs. He loves that they have a school nurse. He loves eating in the cafeteria. He loves wearing a backpack. We were all worried but it looks like he'll be okay and so will we.

Labor Day weekend we of course had soccer practice that went MUCH better. He's having fun with it now and gaining confidence. More on that in a minute. Anyway, we also went to see Eden's Edge at the Hammer on its last day. We all really loved the work by Rebecca Morales - Ashley says he would like to own a piece of hers. Theron and I spent a long, long time examining every bit of this piece by Liz Craft. There is so much to look at - squirrels, mushrooms, bee hives - very interesting.
Theron was making me laugh because he'd have to ask "Is this art?" since we told him not to touch the art, and there were a few things that had to be confusing to a little kid. Finally he was told, No, that's not art, and he was happy because he got to sit on the bench. He was also really super interested in the video at the entrance that had all these people in pink hoods/masks with faces drawn on eating food, baking, etc. We watched it twice.

Monday we decided to go to the beach to get out of our hot house. Ash thinks we should get a special award for not having run an air conditioner all summer. Anyway, we packed up for the day and can you believe this, it only took 15 minutes to get to Santa Monica. Everyone else had the same idea, look at all the people in the water (Ashley is very tiny in this picture, on the right side wearing a cap):

After being there all day we all got a little pink in places, but not bad at all, even Ashley who usually gets the worst of it. Because what did we learn last time? That body hair is not as good a sunblock as you might have thought.

Theron got involved in not one but two fortress building projects. Here's one of them:

Okay, so soccer is going very well, too. They had their first game today and people kept complimenting him on his speed. He took a few tumbles, one pretty good face dive, but there were no tears. One thing Ash and I were hoping is that soccer will help him burn off some of that excess energy. We were high-fiving each other. Then it occured to us that maybe it's the opposite, maybe he'll actually increase his stamina.

I volunteered to make the banner, which means that I volunteered Ashley, too. By the time all the information needed to do it got to me I only had a week. It was brutal, and it was done at the last minute, but we did it. I still want to work on it some, so does Ash. He made the beautiful frame/stand. It was so much nicer than the others we saw out there that were stuck in the ground - ours is free standing.

The time constaints meant I had to make compromises I don't normally like to make, such as using fabric glue for some parts, but in the end it was fine.
Here are a few things I learned:
- That very shiny lining fabric looks great but pins fall out, use scotch tape or safety pins.
- Fraycheck for finishing the edges - a little goes a long way but it made the dark green fabric bleed.
- If Fraycheck is not completely dry it soaks up red wine instantly. Washing it off immediately does not work and it makes every other Fraychecked edge blanch.
- There are subtle differences between a green hawk and a parrot.