Sunday, March 25, 2012

Creative Joy

This weekend, out of the blue, one of our neighbors gave the kids two huge buckets of legos pieces--left over from her own kids' childhoods.  The pieces are from various sets, all mixed together.  The kids are having more fun with them that way than if they were given the sets in an orderly manner.  Their creativity is sparked, their imaginations are running wild.  And, mostly, they are sharing nicely (mostly).  What a wonderful turn of events. 

What outrageously wonderful gifts have come your way lately?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Warming up

Summer weather came to Massachusetts this week.  It met spring flowers.  I am not a fan of hot weather, but I find myself longing for the slower pace of the summer, for fresh fruits, for grilled foods. 

How are you adapting to changing seasons?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quotes of Note

This afternoon, I finished a novel, and in it I found a line that I quite like:

"Life is not, as we are taught, a matter of seeking answers, but rather learning the questions which we should ask."
Kate Mosse, The Winter Ghosts

That got me thinking about some of my other favorite lines (a few of which might be slightly off due to the sieve that is my mind these days):

"We all owe death a life."
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

"Historical Events are something more than events, because they are colored by humanity, which is always problematical."
Octavio Paz, Labyrinth of Solitude

"Alas, poor Mexico: so far from God, and so close to the United States."
Porfirio Diaz

"It rained four years, eleven months, and two days." (Granted, this one is most effective in context--so read the book.)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Year of Solitude

"To be less powerful does not mean to be powerless, or even to lose all the time."
Linda Gordon (forget which's been so many years...)

Then there are the lines that have come to me through reading with my kids:

"Of course.  The Big Bad Wolf does yoga."
Michael Buckley, The Sisters Grimm (book 2?)

"Sure as Sure."
Sarah Prineas, The Magic Thief (all three books)

"We're Space Guys.  We know what we're doing."
Daniel Pinkwater, Guys from Space

And of course, there's Howard's favorite line from Harry Potter VI (the movie, not sure if it's in the book or not):
"Ah, to be young, and to feel love's keen sting."

What are your favorite phrases?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back to the Zoo

It's a postcard that Nancy sent to me years ago--it's dated 8/7/00.  I have it framed on the wall in my home office.

Break's over and life is crazy again already.  There are too many things to do, even if I keep a firm resolve to say "no" to some things.  I just dont' seem to have a chance to catch up.  If there's anything that captures how I feel these days, the above comic is it!

How do you find humor when things get crazy?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

That Girl


(I love the juxtaposition of the angelic face and the AC/DC tee)


(Yes, that's the same Yoda costume, over six years later)

Anya recently turned seven.  Sometimes I miss the days when she was an entertaining toddler...good heavens, she was adorable and funny.  But, in truth, I wouldn't give up the great stuff going on with her now in order to go back to those toddler days.  Anya is still full of life, still hilarious, still infectious in her enthusiasm.  There is still no one on earth who can bring ease to my soul at the end of a long day like Anya can when she hugs me.  She just gets better all the time. 

Lately, she has been:
1) Taking off with her reading skills.  Suddenly, she is literate!

2) Loving the Ivy and Bean book series (shown above where she is reading while sipping milk out of a cereal bowl).

3) Loving poetry.  One of the photos above is her reading me poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends.  She did so with strong affect (in emulation of her brother, whom she adores even though she squabbles with him all the time), and without being able to stop giggling at some passages. 

4) Constantly looking to see if the labrador that lives up the street from us is out and waiting for her to pet it.  She's trying to talk us into getting a dog now, after years of telling me "no" when I asked if we could have one.  (Apparently, however, we're not allowed until I travel less, because someone I know doesn't want to walk a dog if I'm out of town--and no, I'm not talking about the kids).

5) Sending mail to people...with the expectation that they will send mail back! 

6) Putting herself into some of the most...interesting...outfits that I've ever seen. 

I love you, Sniffles!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


After resisting, feeling uncertain of how to start, I let myself fall, head over heels, into Nela Martinez's "spoken autobiography" today.  I gave myself over to this amazing woman whose life spanned most of the twentieth century (and a little beyond), about whom I am giving a talk on campus next week.

I'd forgotten how absorbing it is when this happens.  During the academic year, with a 4/4 course load, I get precious little time for real research.  This year, my thousands of photographed images from Ecuadorian archives have sat, unexamined, with the excitement and urgency of the archives fading--not exactly from my memory, because I do still remember--but from my being

But here I was, taken over in mind and spirit, completely seduced by both the story and its analytical possibilities.  It's not like reading a bestselling novel, this experience.  Reading a fun novel pushes me on rapidly to find out what happens next.  Reading into history is a slow process, in which my mind sings with possibilities.  I mark passages, put post-it notes on pages, and imagine how I can put it all into context and theory in order to say something meaningful of my own. 

The work may be slow, but it's intoxicating, and it leaves me wishing I had more time and energy to pursue it.

And Nela?  Born to the landowning class, she fell in love with and married a paralytic who shared her commitment to social justice, and she entered the world of radical politics with him.  The marriage did not last, and after her divorce she had an affair (and son) with one of the leading members of the Ecuadorian Communist Party.  Eventually, she found a true partner with whom she had three more children and spent decades.  As to her accomplishments, Nela Martinez was one of the leading members of the Ecuadorian Communist Party, an ardent supporter of indigenous activism, and one of the founders of the Ecuadorian Feminine Alliance.  She refused to get caught in the web of categories that separate us from alliances in search of true justice.  She insisted that Communism address women, she set up a women's movement that accepted members from a wide variety of political ideologies, and she instinctively saw class as intertwined with race. 

It was an inspired and inspiring journey today, and I look forward to continuing it, even as March break flies by me far too quickly.  My own analysis of her life will form in different ways according to specific projects.  For today, I got to just enjoy Nela.

What's got hold of your mind and imagination these days?