Beautiful eyes

There is nothing more beautiful on earth than my daughter. And I would like to say that is true objectively, and know that this is an immovable truth that I have found for all time.

But there is no such thing as objective beauty, is there? It is all in the eye of the beholder.

Other people tell me she is beautiful sometimes. She doesn’t seem concerned about it. But I am flattered to have a fellow admirer of her eyes, and her little hands and legs and skin and all-over body.

One of the side effects of having a daughter is that she looks like me. A little. I think she has my eyes. She definitely has my legs. Her little legs, perfect legs straight and strong, and they are kinda mine.

Stupid women’s magazines will make disparaging comments about thighs that rub together–presumably because they are too fat–and I have always felt like that was a flaw that I should find a way to correct. The inside seams of my jeans rub and wear out first. Obviously it’s something wrong with me.

But Veronica’s perfect body has strong thighs that meet all the way down to her knees.

Like mine.

Maybe those magazines are wrong. Because she is undeniably perfect and beautiful. Never a doubt.

I do enjoy the beautiful. I have an art print in my dressing area. La Toilette

Isn’t she pretty? It’s nice to have her there as I get ready for my day and try to make myself presentable.

Veronica noticed her one day. She pointed and said “It’s mommy.”

Well. Perhaps she is a mommy. That’s also nice to think about.

“No. It’s you mommy.”

“That’s not me. It’s somebody’s mommy, but that’s not me.”

She is too beautiful to be me. If I were to sit like that there would be so  many flaws, I would not…I just couldn’t..

“It’s you mommy!” Veronica wasn’t giving it up. SHe insisted that the beautiful woman in the drawing was me.

I guess to her, I am that beautiful. For her, the flaws are not even visible or possible.

Maybe the magazines are wrong. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And love makes everything beautiful.


sunday–the morning after

We’ve evolved the telling of ThreeBears…We have called out Goldilocks as a porridge thief. So, this means we have to  define thief more closely.
But really, we also have to define porridge better. I told Veronica last night I would make porridge for her this morning. She said “Weewwy?”I SO WISH I COULD RECORD THAT WORD (really) COMING OUT OF HER MOUTH.
it is so cute.
I woke up early. So, I am making porridge for her….Why did I have to start with steel cut oats…?

what are friends for?

Having coffee with a friend, she was telling me her trails and struggles with her son.

I had to ask questions to understand what was going on. And then I said “You know what you need to do?”

Well. I said it a few times. Then the third time I said it, I interrupted myself. “Like I know how to solve all your problems…”

I don’t want to seem like a know it all. But I am listening, and I have ideas and suggestions. Naturally, my first pass ideas have been tried already by the woman who lives daily with her problems. So, when I say “You should..” with such confidence, it would seem like I am calling her an idiot. Of course she’s tried all the easy stuff already.

But she said “Oh I can totally run your family. I know how to fix all your problems!”

I laughed. She knew I was only trying to help.

That’s what friends are for. And maybe it’s supposed to work that way.
I can go to my friend and say “This is driving me crazy!” and feel all hopeless.
My friend will say to me, “You know what you need to do?”
And I probably already tried that, but then I call explain some more, and she will suggest some more, and in the end she may not have any really useful suggestions.

Because it’s hard.
And I’ve been trying to solve it for a long time.

But what she can do is have a positive attitude, and let me feel like this thing is fixable. We don’t have to figure it out today, but we can talk about it, and keep up the faith.

So maybe it’s not always arrogance to tell each other “You should…” It could be the boost we need.

Veronica prays

Madhuri made a point of giving Veronica a toddler bible last weekend. I didn’t think it could compete with Cat in the Hat, but she loves it.

The Mean Giant (david and goliath) is a hit. and she seems to really get into the stories.

I haven’t entirely known how to talk about or share the Bible with her. I suppose I am a little conflicted about how to transfer my faith to her.

But after the reading, I thought, Hey, we should pray. They pray in sunday school, and she seemed uncomfortable with it. But I realized, I don’t ask her to pray at home, so of course it would be weird for her.

But I gave it a shot, praying for her after reading the bible stories. She was okay with it the first time, and the second time, she wiggled and yelled a nonsense song.


today, after we were getting in the car after grocery shopping, she grabbed my hand while I was buckling her in. “Thank you mommy for being here and grocery shopping and things.”

well. How nice. “thank you Veronica, for being a good girl, and doing such a good job of listening.”

“I want to pray.”



She grabbed my hand. “Dear God, You are a special God. Thank you for everybody. Amen”


Can you spare some bread?

At a birthday party, passing out the cake, I asked Madhuri, “How did you celebrate birthdays when you were little?”

Madhuri is from India, born in 1940, and she has spent most of her adult life helping take care of children. She took care of Veronica, and the girl whose birthday we were celebrating this day.

She told me “We would make rice pudding, and neighbors would come get some. We did not make a big deal about birthdays. We did not have cake. We did not have an oven.”

“So, everything was cooked on top of the stove, like in a frying pan? That must be how naan is made, so you had everything you needed without an oven.”

“No, naan is made in a special oven. There was a bakery where people would go for things that must be from an oven.”

And she began to describe with wonderful detail how the family would use the small stove they had to make the food. They would take cow patties and mix it with rice hulls and form balls using their hands, which dried out and could be used as fuel. That would be put in the base of the chimnea-type stove, with small chunks of coal—which they broke themselves. In order to conserve the fuel, all the cooking had to be done at once. So the whole day’s cooking would be done and then that was that.

Later, apparently, they began to use a propane-like gas to fuel the stove. But it was considered very expensive so they conserved it.

“Madhuri, you know that people right now complain that the neighborhood baker is going away because of the big corporate stores. But. We all have ovens in our homes now. We aren’t dependent on a bakery to get bread.”

Suddenly the history of the world (as I know it) flashed before my mind. I hadn’t realized that an oven was a precious commodity. And not just an oven. The butcher on the corner is supplanted by our sub-zero stainless-steel-finish refrigerator.

I think about places like France. Did they not have ovens in France, during the Revolution? When everyone went to pick up their baguettes and croissants everyday? I had a picture of it like it was Disneyland. They went there because they were friends with the baker, or he made better pies then they could. But no! They had no choice.

And an oven was a big investment. You bought an oven, or inherited it, and you were set for life. The whole neighborhood had to come to you if they wanted to eat bread. And a butcher would have set up a place to keep his meat cold enough not to go bad. A root cellar? A supply chain of ice? Either way, this kind of setup would be a very secure middle class business. Back before refrigerators and ovens.

But wait! Russia is famous for peasant houses having enormous stoves. Is that one of their advantages over the other world peasants? And oh yeah! Isn’t Russia obsessed with Bread? As I recall, they have a whole big fetish of bread. Maybe that is in part why. They had the ovens to make the bread.

I would have to spend a long time with Wikipedia to thread out the true history of the oven. But this technological advance of something I take so fully for granted is a huge leg up.

You know what is strange now? I don’t go to a bakery shop to buy my bread. I go to a big corporate store…Target or Vons. And I buy bread that was made a long time ago in a location far far away. But we have figured out how to preserve bread—as well as a thousand other necessary foods—and get them all over the place.

I have lived in this house for 7 years. I have not made bread. I have an oven. But I could probably—no assuredly, I could survive and thrive without using my oven.

America spent some time building infrastructure that Vons and Target takes advantage of. And I take advantage of Target and Vons, so I get the great benefit. AND for a hobby, if I wanted to DIY I could go bake bread.

India is still trying.  I know it is better than when Madhuri was a child. There are a lot of places that have a ways to go with building the systems that can get people what the truly need. But her story made me rethink the world I live in.

And it made me appreciate the cake I was finishing.


still haven’t found what I’m looking for

“Have you seen how many Disney channels there are?”

The Disney channel is now 6 Disney channels. And even so, we are rare among our peers, we have discovered, because Veronica actually has cable tv. Most of the kids her age are DVD-only households, with memberships to Netflix or some such.

There is no shortage of stuff to watch. So why can’t I find anything I like?

It’s not just TV, either. I have the impression that music, movies and books are all in a malaise. My favorite literary podcaster, Michael Silverblatt, expressed a dissatisfaction in current books coming out.

What is happening? There is an avalanche of new content vying for our attention every second. At the same time, there is everything from the past still available.

We need a butler, a curator, to sift through it all and give us what matches our personal taste exactly. Why doesn’t this exist?

But I don’t trust just anyone to advise me. The one who is to select for me, for me only, is probably not trustworthy. Probably he’d be in the pocket of the promoters. I know this racket.

Who could I trust? Some people seem to trust the movie theaters to serve up something close to what they are going to like. They do seem to have a certain sameness to what they provide. Music? The radio stations, with their formats give us a consist product.

So where can I go for something different? There is the catalog that has been around forever–the classics

But the something new. That is what I’m looking for.

I remember a friend, a beautiful Russian Westside girl I used to work with. She bemoaned the lack of smart men. She probably meant rich men. But she wanted them smart for sure: “Tell me something I don’t know!” she complained.

Right. Show me something I don’t know about yet.  The web is laid out like a map for everyone right? Except, it’s a long long way to get from here to there. How do I find the new?

I can. But it takes so much work. Which is why I would like a curator. I want someone to do it for me.

The one place I’ve seen that does curation is job sites. I encountered a site that—for a fee—will serve up exactly the high-paying job I am looking for.

Except I can go find those jobs on my own. It just takes time, and skill I suppose. . Since,I am going to make money if I go find a better job it makes sense to pay for a curator to help.

I need someone to help me find new music, books and stuff to watch. But I don’t think I’m really ready to pay for it. Probably because I’m especially not willing to pay for what it would actually cost to get a good one.

But then again, they say that with enough data, they can find the patterns that predict what I like. But I’d like to think that art is the unpredictable, the thing that doesn’t fit the pattern.

When everything is equally accessible, everything is equally inaccessible. I suppose I have to rely on the new bit of art to be so very different that it shines out of the crowd somehow. and I have to make sure to keep looking.


where did gravity go?

I just completed two days of regular work at my job.

…i never talk about my job here…but I can say this, I suppose.

I was out, recovering from surgery. And then I went back to work. And now it’s the weekend.

For two weeks of recovery, and now two days of regular work, I have not been worried. I feel like I have been fighting to get breaths of air for every day of my life as a mom. Four years she is now.

And every day the goal was to find air. Air had a lot of different meanings.

But for the last two days, regular days, I haven’t been fighting.

I don’t know what to do with myself

It’s just a game, but the game is everything

So I’ve been recovering from surgery, and lying around in bed watching a lot of TV. I’ve been watching this show: Friday Night Lights

It’s about high school football. I hate football, because it’s so complicated and slow.

Most of the episodes end in a football game. I don’t understand downs and kickers and the points system. But this show has really caught me.

What I get is that they are all working toward something they really want. The small Texas town all shows up to root for their team. But the team has been practicing and working hard to go actually do the thing, and make the plays to win the game.

The thing about sports, the thing that I have learned to respect, is that it’s a game. A game with very defined rules, win and lose. All the way along, you know where you stand.

All the team knows what they are supposed to be doing. And football especially, unlike gymnastics or track, requires that a bunch of people work together to get the thing done. And all the different moving parts have to encounter resistance and overcome.

In a million ways all of us have a kind of game we are trying to run. We have an ambition: I want this person to like me. I want this promotion at work. I want to be in charge of this project. I want to accomplish something I’ve been working on.

But it’s hard to explain all that to others. Sometimes I can say part of it, and sometimes someone might have the time and attention to listen to it. But a lot of the time I’ve only got a vague idea of what I’m aiming at.

But the game is clear. And everyone is cooperating. The team works hard, and the spectators come. The spectators watch, but they didn’t do the work. They are not the ones actually running the ball.

But they are all remembering the ambitions they are trying to further. Or maybe remembering the memory of the ambitions. Watching the team means that somehow the dream is still alive; the ambitious fires are still burning.

The team that runs out onto the field like a conquering army is our avatar. So I can see that football is not stupid and slow. It’s a game and it’s what life is about.