Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Score, And Very Nearly Two Years Ago...

I've been going back and forth on whether or not I should post this one.  It feels mean, in a way, and I don't want to be mean, because I really like this guy.  I flirted wildly with him when I was 15 and in Norway for the first time.  I never kissed him, but I probably should have, even though it turned out for the best that I didn't, because he just happens to be the cousin of my current, and most favored Mister.

Anyway.  I went to his wedding in Brussels last month.  Not Mister's.  Obviously.  The cousin's.  The guy's.  I'm on my second glass of port.  Whatever.  It was a nice little wedding--rich in champagne, and retro 80's pop for the dance portion of the evening. 

Imagine my surprise, though, when I get his tasteful and, I might add, very prompt Thank You in the mail today, only to discover that I attended the wedding of none other than Abraham fucking Lincoln:



Minus the fetching goatie, of course.  Prettier wife too.  But, seriously.  Have you ever?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Clever, Clever Farfar

I'm sure I've already mentioned what an incredibly handy family I married into. Indeed, my house would be a far, far humbler affair if it hadn't been for the generous time and talent of my father-in-law. So I knew he'd be able to handle a Christmas order for some sort of storage device for the 12,892 LEGO pieces that have accumulated upstairs.

This was the first present of Christmas, delivered early Christmas Eve.





How perfect is that? I love it. No boxes to open. No lids to be shoved under the sofa. Everything just right there in orderly, color coded compartments where they need it.

Already near full, though. And this was before Boy opened the five--count 'em--FIVE giant LEGO sets he got for Christmas.

Undaunted, Farfar* is already planning a way to rig a second story to the thing. The bottom level will have wheels and roll out for convenience and easy storage.

Again I say--clever, clever Farfar.

**************************************

So Christmas has come and gone already. We've had a mostly quiet and stress-free couple of days. I made the kids get out of their pajamas before they came to dinner last night. Today I was slightly more strict with them; around 4 p.m. I started nagging them about getting dressed. That's the level of quiet we're talking. Pretty much what Christmas should be. Right?

For those who are keeping score: I was right about the shiney new computer. Yey me!

I hope everyone had a very Merry, equally Chilled, and soggily Unsober Christmas.

Much love,
The JEDA's



*Farfar--for those of you who didn't already know--means father's father. Paternal grandfather, to get all technical about it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Careful What You Wish For

I always find myself bitching this time of year about the decided lack of white in the Bergen Christmas. Nor do I bitch alone. The entire city takes note, and grumbles accordingly.

Gray, rain, drizzle, gloam, gloam, gloam.

Two white Christmases in fifteen years. Two. And one of those was more a hoary dusting than a legitimate blanket.  The other one, I was in the States.  Hardly counts.

Apparently, though, the Gods have been listening. "Snow?" they said, "You want snow for Christmas? Fine. We'll give you your precious snow! Take THAT whiney mortals! And THAT! And THAT! And some gale force winds to go with it! You'll take it, and you'll take it all in one day. You'll like it too, because it is our benevolent gift to you. Merry fucking Christmas."







We went from the mildest November and early December in decades, to the coldest day in December like ever, to half a meter of snow.  And all this delightful change occurred in less than a week.

It took me four hours to clear the stairs, a narrow path on the drive up to the road, and a small patch just large enough to park the car. Four hours.

Did I have a snow shovel? No.

We rarely get more than six, seven, eight centimeters of snow fall at the most. So, for the most part, I make do with a broom to clear the stairs. A snow shovel has just never been very high on my list of priority purchases. 

Consider it priority number one this cold, white, winter's morn.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Interrupt Our Sob Story To Bring You This Bit Of Christmas Cheer

I didn't get Christmas cards made this year, so you're going to have to consider this your substitute. 

I had a brilliant plan for a card: it involved Santa hats, and a globe, and a caption about axial tilt being the reason for the season.  But my sullen, ornery children would. not. cooperate.  I became angry.  Boy became miserable.  There were tears.  And in the end, a glass ornament was shattered.  I felt it best to cut my losses and run from the project.

A couple weeks later we visited the hastily resurrected Pepperkakeby (Gingerbread City).  Spirits were considerably higher that day.  The resulting pictures, more flattering.  Even Boy--still feeling somewhat guilty, no doubt, from the drama he had created the last time I tried to take a picture of him--sat still, and sort of smiled.








I have no idea why, but it is incredibly difficult to get these kids to smile for a picture.  Especially when they're together like this.  I mean, look at that!  Emma gets all mock, solemn introspection.  Amanda gives off this silent-plea-for-help vibe.  And Boy just smirks.  Smug little snot.  He's not really all that better than me...

So you'll recall the sad fate of the first Pepperkakeby.  They did catch the guy who did it.  Some drunk, possilby high (they never said which) 20 year old went in alone, and sort of lost his mind a little bit.  He ended up pretty much turning himself in after a couple of his friends ratted him out for the 100,000 kroner reward money.  But get this--apparently, this kid showed so much remorse, was so literally sick with guilt, and beside himself with the pressure of being hated and vilified by the entire country, that the authorities decided not to punish him any further.  Nothing.  As far as I understood it, they just let the kid go.  (If anyone out there knows otherwise, please let me know.  It is possible that I missed the news of any futher fines levied against him.  But the news of the day right after they caught him was that he had more or less punished himself enough.)

As I also mentioned, Bergen businesses and residents pulled together and had a new gingerbread city ready to open the following week.  We had to be in town the first Sunday it was open for a play which Emma's art class had made the stage scenery for, so we decided to go in early enough to stop by the Pepperkakeby first.

Good thing we got there in plenty of time.  Check out this line.  There were articles in the paper about how long that line was.  Big news here, apparently....

The line moved relatively fast, we were at the entrance in 35 minutes.  Just enough time to take all the above pictures you've just been enjoying.

Here are a few shots to give you an idea of the scale of the thing.  It really is rather impressive.

All the local landmarks are represented.  This is the harbor restaurant where Mister proposed to me.  Awwwwww.

Mister was rather proud to find this one.  That's one of his boats.  Not his, obviously.  He doesn't own it.  But he did design it.  It's a coast guard vessle that the navy docks here in Bergen.


I had other pictures uploaded. I must have exceeded my limit. Blogger won't let me post the rest. No matter. They were just more pictures of gingerbread landmarks. Probably it would have been tedious and boring to include anymore anyway.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of JEDA's heartwarming, coming-of-age story. Yes. There's more. Though something tells me it might be tedious and boring to include anymore of it, it's a saga that has been brewing in me all year. I'm telling it as much for my own sake, as anyone else's. Skip it if you're weary. But I have a feeling that this blog is going to be a whole lot of Edumacatin' Norwegian-wise from here on out. Consider yourselves alerted to the programming change.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sine, Cosine, But Mostly Tangent

Part Two:

During the process of investigating how to study geology in Norway, I figured out early on that I was probably going to need more science classes in order to qualify for admission into the program.  As I said yesterday, I avoided them in high school;  pretended they didn't even exist in college. 

Somewhere along the line I had managed to convince myself that, while I was a good student, I wasn't necessarily a smart student, so math and science weren't for the likes of me.  Somewhere considerably further along the line, I finally came to the conclusion that this isn't exactly true.

Geology has always interested me.  Ask my mother.  How annoying was I in the 9th grade when I was first learning about U-shaped valleys vs. V-shaped valleys?  Igneous vs. sedimentary?  Oh, and the names of all the different kinds of clouds?  Remember how I used to quiz you on the damn clouds?  I loved that shit.  But everytime it started to get a little technical: formulas for carbon dating, chemical reactions that desolve certain rocks, the physics of storm formation....my mind sort of shut down.  Refused to even consider the notion that I might be able to sort those kinds of details out.

It's what kept me from changing my major in college.  The first thing I would have to have done to major in Geology in college was take Inorganic Chemistry.  I had heard tell that Chemistry is hard, yo'.  At the time, I didn't believe I could do it.

(See?  I was stupid.  Just stupid in a different way than I thought.)

I could go on and on: Biology, Calculus, and ever more Chemistry.  All would have been necessary, and all of it intimidated me enough that I ultimately decided to stick with what I knew I could bullshit my way through.  Color, light, line, shape, texture, and the intentions of a bunch of dead, neurotic artists.  That shit's subjective man.  As long as it sounded good, no one could tell me I was wrong about it.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I grew up.  But I'm no longer quite so intimidated by science.  Obviously.  In fact, I crave the knowledge.  I crave the challenge of acquiring that knowledge.  I know that, while I'm no genius--these subjects will be difficult for me--they're not impossible.  And I get now, that I don't have to have mastered all of them in order to apply their principles to whatever field of Geology I ultimately settle into.  For the most part, I'll just need the basics.

Once I had safely passed the Norwegian test I needed to pass, I turned my attention to math.  Math is the foundation of pretty much all the sciences, right?  So I figured it was a logical first step.  I took Trigonometry my junior year of high school.  I struggled with math, and I had done everything I needed to graduate, so I stopped there.  I should have done more.  I wish I had done more.  But I didn't, so there's no sense in belaboring the point.  And besides, even if I had taken AP Calculus my senior year, it doesn't necessarily follow that now, 18 years later, I'd remember any part of it.  I wouldn't.  I don't. 

I knew that if had a prayer of passing myself off as competent in a college level math class, I needed a full-scale review of everything I'd already studied--including the very basics of algebra.  To this end, I had my mom send me the material she gives her inmates (Mom teaches high school at the federal prison in Utah--me and the felons, doin' our homework....) 

It starts with easy-peasy order of operations stuff, and ends with the Quadradic Formula.  I'm very nearly finished with it.  In fact, I spent yesterday evening using the Quadradic Formula and the Pythagorean Theorem to find the lengths of the sides of right triangles.  And felt right brilliant doing it.

It's taken me the better part of two months to get through the 10 units she sent me.  The kids have been watching over my shoulder the whole time.  They're clearly intrigued.  All those x's and y's and parenthesis--you have to admit, algebra does make for a rather elegant page of work.  Poor Emma is still struggling to get her 7 times tables down, so the fact that I can make sense of anything more advanced is like witchcraft to her.

Not long ago she was babbling along in her Emma-like way.  I don't remember what led her to the subject, but for whatever reason she started listing the primary talents and assets of everyone in the family: 

"Cindy is the cuddly one.  I'm cuddly too, but mostly I'm the one who's good at drawing.  Daniel's not really good at anything yet (according to her), but he's getting better at Lego everyday, and he really likes it, so he's probably going to be a builder.  Amanda's good at making people laugh.  Daddy knows all about birds and nature.  And you, mom, you're the one who's good at math.  So you can help us with our homework."

Ha!  Hear that Mister?  I'm the one who's good at math!  Me!

I sort of love that.  I love that she thinks I'm some sort of savant because I don't even have to think about what 7x7 is, and I can make sense of "the math with the letters instead of numbers".  Mister was right there when she said it.  Mister, who really is a bit of a math wiz, let it slide.  He went ahead and let my daughter believe that her mom is the one who's good at math.  I sort of love that too.

My mother went back to school when I was around Missy's age.  I've been thinking a lot about that lately.  The precedent she set.  The role her example must have played in making me, not even for a single second, ever question the fact that I would go to college some day too.  I want to do that for my girls.  I want them to be proud of me, as I am of my mom.  I don't ever want them to look at my life and think, as I've been doing for the past 16 years now, what a fucking waste!

So, thank you, mom.  Thank you for the example.  Thank you for being brave enough to take the leap.  I still remember you got an A in that Algebra class.  I told Emma you were pretty damn good at math too.

And, thank you, Mister.  For letting our daughter believe a lie.  This was one of the good lies, though....like Santa Claus.......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rådgiver

It means advisor.  Or counselor.

A hint for the English speakers--it's not pronounced rad giver.  That's a silent 'd', followed by a soft 'g'.  Something more like 'raw-yeever'.  You can say it that way.  You'll sound like a total hick American when you do, but that's okay.  Norwegians are kind.  They'll indulge your awkward, unschooled tongue.

Rådgiver. 

Long story short:  I met with a high school guidance counselor today.  She said, and I'm translating loosely here, "Too bad you were such a pussy about making that phone call, 'cuz now all the classes you need are full, and there's a waiting list to get in."

***************************************

And now for the long story:  Part One. 

(Fair warning--This is epic. I'll forgive you if you don't make it all the way through.)

Clear back last January, I had a rather devastating emotional break-down.  A ruinous crisis of the soul which left me shattered, raw, and finally (at great, long last) ready to grow the fuck up already.

You'll remember that the world economy had just tanked a few months prior.  Everyone was still talking about how bad it might yet get.  Mister was worried about the fate of his relatively small engineering firm.  Worried enough that he told me there was no way he was draining our savings account in order to buy plane tickets home for the summer. His arguments were reasonable, logical.  His attitude was impeccably kind throughout our discussion.  I know he felt really bad about what happened to me over the course of the next few days.  What with the slow, agonizing unzipping of my sanity, and all.  But I couldn't seem to stop it from happening.  I couldn't get a grip.

After a couple of days*, I finally managed to stop crying, and we sat down to talk again.  The summer trip was back on.  Resources had been pooled, certain coffers plundered, five seats to Salt Lake City, Utah safely booked and ready to go.  So that part of my mind had been greatly eased.**  But I was still reeling from the suddenly violent rush of guilt I felt over not being able to help ease Torbjørn's burden--the worry of keeping our family afloat, even in the face of complete financial meltdown.

"I need to get a job," I said.

"That would help," he admitted.

"What can I do?  Should I ask around at grocery stores?  I know the barnehages are always short of assistants.  What else is there?"

"Look," he said, "It's not as bad as all that.  We're not destitute, and you're not cut out for just any old job.  You need to go back to school."

"But to study what?  I have no idea what I want to do."

"You said you wanted to be a mid-wife."

"But I have to be a nurse for two years first.  I don't want to be a nurse.  I'd make a truly shitty nurse."  He must have agreed with me, because he didn't try to argue the point any further. 

We sat in sullen silence for a good 10 minutes.  Then I said, "Goddammit! I wish I had just changed my major when I had the chance, and studied geology like I wanted to!  Art history!  The fuck was I thinking!"  This is something I've said before...too many times to count really.  But this was the first time Mister chose to respond to it. 

"Why don't you study it now?" was his terse, but brilliant rejoinder.

Honest to God, it had never occurred to me until that very moment that such a thing was possible.  But Mister must have been mulling this over for some time, just waiting for the right moment to plant the seed, "You could get a job with one of the oil companies, and be making more than I am now within 6 or 7 years."

I had myself enrolled in a Norwegian class, the last one I needed before I could be admitted into the university, the very next day. 

Direction.  At long last, direction.

I spent the next several months not only rounding off the rougher edges of my Norwegian, but also combing the internet for information and admission requirements into the geology program at the University of Bergen.  I'd return to the same sites over and over again hoping, I guess, that they'd eventually recognize my IP address and let me in out of sheer exasperation.  Christ, if you're that interested then.....go ahead and sign up..... 

I was full of questions.  I have a Bachelor of Arts from a college in the States--a good college in the States. How far would that get me?  Art history doesn't afford a lot of opportunities to delve deep into the natural sciences.  I avoided them in high school.  Surely I'd need to fill in some gaps there?  Which ones?  What the hell does matematikk R1+R2 cover exactly?  I took trig.  Is calculus really all that important?  And will 16 years of loafing and making babies count against me in the long run?  Did I mention Smith College?

Sometimes in the evenings I'd ponder these questions, and many more, over beers with Mister.  I'd work myself up into a frenzy uncertainty.  Can it be done?  I don't think it can even be done.  But I'm a good student.  Can't we just tell them what a good little student I am?

Mister would cross his arms and sigh for the umpteenth time, "I don't know Jamie.  You really need to call the University, and ask them."

Ah.  The call.  The dreaded call.  How to explain the why's and the wherefore's of the dread with which I met the prospect of that one phone call?  I put it off for a full 10 months.  That ought to tell you a little bit about what a genuine phobia I had managed to turn it into.  We're talking palm sweating, stomach churning...we'll get to all that later...

I hate phone calls.  I always have.  I'm not much for phone chit-chatting even with my friends and family.  And official business type calls?  Forget about it.  I get tongue-tied and confused.  I forget what I'm calling for.  If the other person starts asking questions, requiring dates or numbers or whatever of me, I get even more jittery.  And that's calls I might get to make in English.  Add Norwegian to the mix?  You never know which dialect you're going to get on the other end of the line.  Even if it's a dialect you understand resonably well, sometimes they'll speak it so fast it's impossible to catch every word over the phone.  Then you sound like an idiot anyway because you're constantly saying, "Huh?  Wuh?  That last bit?  Eh?"

So yes, I hate phones.  But I had 10 months to practice the dialogue in my head.  I had my opening line nailed.  And I had exhaustively practiced over four dozen possible versions of the ensuing conversation during every shower and long run around the lake since summer.  Plus I really have been speaking a lot more Norwegian this past year.  It's been a long time in coming, but I'm far more comfortable with the foreignness of it on my tongue than I ever have been before.  So the phone itself and the fear of sounding stupid in Norwegian was only a part of the hang-up.

The rest of it, I guess, had to do with what I was actually attempting to do.  Not the school part of it.  School doesn't scare me.  As I said before, I'm a good little student, and at this point, even school in Norwegian, even school with a bunch of teeny-bopper children, even school in the natural sciences doesn't scare me.  In fact, the challenge of it all thrills me a little bit. 

But what happens after school?  In four or five years, when the schooling's all done, I will be expected to go out into the real world and get a job.  I've never done that.  Ever.  The thought of starting a career post 40 years old?  Ever so slightly paralyzing.

*************************

End of Part One.  Sorry folks.  Remember, this story took over a year to unfold.  It's going to take some time to get it all out.  Plus Missy just came to me complaining of chills and a sore throat.  She needs tending to.  The consideration of moments like this, and all of Mister's god damn business trips, were part of the paralysis too.....


*You think I'm exaggerating.  But I'm not.  It seriously took two days to pull myself back together enough to talk about it.

**As I try to describe that whole episode, I realize how much of my reaction must seem simply like drama queen antics in order to get my way.  But, honestly, it was all much more visceral than that.  I didn't just want to go home in that moment.  I genuinely NEEDED it.  I have never felt so strongly the need to simply run away forever as I did that first night.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

In Which He Implies He's Come To Know And Understand Me

Me: What do you want for Christmas?

Him: Me? I don't know. Don't you know?

Me: How should I know? You're impossible to shop for.

Him: No I'm not.

Me: Yes you are.

Him: Am not.

Me: You're picky about your clothes. You don't have time for toys. You're inhumanly greedless. Are. too.

Him: (pout)

Me: Unlike meeee. I'm easy to shop for. Admit it, you already know half a dozen things I'd be thrilled to find under the tree with my name on it.

Him: Humph. That's true. You're easy. It'll cost me a bloody fortune, is all....

_____________________________________

For the record, this is not entirely true. Yes, some of the items on my wish list (a new computer with more that 40 lame GBs of storage space, for example) are pricey. But I don't think he fully understands how absurdly satisfied I'd be with just season five of Grey's Anatomy, and say, a new bread knife.

Of course, all this is very easy to say, because I already know that I'm getting season five of Lost (which is all I ever really wanted for Christmas) from another considerate party. So I'm totally set.

....and also....of course.....I can go ahead and say all of that because I'm 99% certain that, come Christmas morning, there's going to be a new computer with more than 40 lame GBs of storage space somewhere under that tree....

Greed works. Mister has yet to learn this valuable lesson.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Locals have long been wont to brag that Bergen hosts the largest gingerbread city in the world.  The whole world people!  I have no idea if this claim is true or not, but they do throw together a pretty big ass gingerbread city every year.  And it is a cherished tradition of just about every family in the area (mine included) to open the holiday season with a visit to this spicey, winter wonderland. 

Schools, barnehages, businesses, and individual households are welcome to donate a gingerbread creation to the city.  Over a thousand are collected every year, and set up in an elaborate layout complete with snow capped mountains and trains that run throughout.  It smells wonderful inside, and it really is pretty neat to walk through.

Over the weekend, a couple of as yet unknown jackasses broke into the place where it was being built (finishing touches were just being put on everything, as it was supposed to open this coming Friday) and wantonly destroyed the entire city.


The citizenry is up in arms.  Completely beside themselves with rage.  Indeed, I find myself rather furious about it too.  Such a shame!  Especially for the kids.  As you can see, these are not professionally made, delicately constructed works of art.  Though there are always a handful of larger perfessional looking pieces, by and large you'll find a motley collection of rough, crooked, wildly over-embellished houses pasted together with pure whimsy.  They're the obvious masterpieces of some very eager, very imaginative children.  How heartbreaking that someone felt the need to stomp all over them.

Not to worry though.  Time, resources, and raw determination are being donated from all corners, and they're hoping to have a new gingerbread city (complete with night guards this time around!) constructed by the middle of next week.  Indeed, by Thursday, which is when they've asked to have all the new donations delivered, I'm guessing they'll have twice as many gingerbread houses as they've ever had before.

Hear the Grinch! Christmas is still coming to Bergen, so there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh For God's Sake

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no master speller; I make my own fair share of stupid mistakes. But this is a bit much. From Emma's class schedule for the week, practice words in English will be:



Unless, of course, they meant the verb 'to wolve' meaning: to behave like a wolf.  Or (and this one was new to me) "of a pipe organ : to produce a sound like the howl of a wolf (as from failure of air supply)", as in:
He had returned to his schoolboy's script, to distant Evensongs, to the wolving of the ancient chapel organ as the last light is extinguished and the door latched for the long night.

2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 784
Retrieved from "http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wolve"
All in all, a rather brilliant sentence, but unlikely to be what her teachers had in mind. I fear I shall have to make a nuisance of myself come Monday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A-ha Just Released A New Album Too

So, you know how at a certain moment--usually a little too early on in November--by seemingly subliminal accord, an army of janitors are sent to their respective basements to retrieve their dusty garlands and fairy lights, junior sales clerks in malls everywhere are tasked with arranging gaudy displays of tinsel and beglittered glass ornaments, and suddenly pepperkake and juleøl are back in your life? Well, maybe that last example only happens here in Norway, but that's just too bad for the rest of ya'll, isn't it?

My point is, the arrival of Christmas is cyclical. Predictable. If you live anywhere in the western world, it's inescapable.

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that the fashion world runs on pretty much the same uninspired principle.

I swear, last summer a light in a basement somewhere started flashing neon, and a message went out to retailers the world over: FASHION REBOOT, 1985, STIRRUPS OPTIONAL. With great haste all those eager junior sales clerks were sent into the darkest corners of their storage rooms to retrieve boxes and boxes of unsold chunky belts, plastic shoes, and leg warmers that had been languishing...muldering...waiting for this very moment. Maybe--just maybe--they'll get lucky enough to unload all this garbage this time around!

Perhaps I over-simplify. I guess the advent of this season has been coming for a year or more. It started with the return of jeans to the waist where they belong. And continued with sightings of high-top Reeboks, and sassy black ankle boots. But this, ladies and gentlemen, this then--right now--must surely be the high season.

I'm seeing mohair, for crying out loud! Chunky, loose knit sweaters in pastel colored mohair.

Last week I was in Oasis looking for something to wear to a wedding, and I saw a glossy sign on the wall that read Does this jacket make my shoulders look big? And sure enough, there below the sign, was a rack of dress blazers, all with thickly padded, oddly pointy shoulders. All hail the great Joan Collins!

But the blast from the past that has most caught my attention, the iconic relic that makes me most certain that H & M wants me to believe that I'm back in 1985, is the blue. The deeply saturated, highly synthetic, so royal it all but commands your attention blue that is everywhere at the moment. It was the color of my very first pair of stirrups. I had a wool coat with huge plastic buttons in that color. When I was home for the summer, I cleared out a drawer of old clothes and threw away a faded pair of socks that were once that color.

I'm not sure--I haven't quite decided--but I think I rather like it. Not just the color, but the whole current fashion reboot. All those loose fitting, blousy, off-the-shoulder shirts and sweaters are certainly a lot easier on a frumpy frame than the low-riser, skin tight cuts of two seasons ago. I'll tell you that much.

And it's got me missing my Swatch watches too. The ones with the pastel straps. Mine were pink and blue. Some of the girls preferred the white and yellow. But we all agreed that there was no point in wearing them if you didn't wear them two at a time. Man, you were nothin' at my jr. high school if you didn't have at least two Swatch watches!


So--what do you miss about 1985?

Monday, November 09, 2009


I'm thinking of starting a new blog, or at least a new sub-section of this blog, entitled:

Stupid Shit My Cat Does That Makes Me Wonder If Dogs Aren't The Way To Go Afterall

#1--Deftly impales tail with own expertly honed claw.

Seriously.

She may look all growed up an' all, but she's still got plenty of kitten in her, right? So every morning while I'm getting dressed, she bounces all over my bed chasing lint, shadows, and, mostly notably, her own tail. It's cute. A light-hearted little romp to start off both our mornings.

This morning, however, when I sat down at the foot of the bed to pull on my socks, I hear a plaintive, squeaky little mrrrrrroooouuuuuuu coming from behind me. I jump up quick thinking for sure I must have sat on a paw or her tail maybe, but instead I see her lying on her side curled into a fetal position with her tail over one shoulder and both paws buried somewhere between her back legs.

"The hell, cat?" I ask, thinking maybe she's got something reasonable to say for herself and her ridiculous position.

"Mrrrrrrrroooooouuuuuuuuuu," she pleads, sounding a little indignant that I would take the time to discuss the matter when she's obviously experiencing some considerable amount of discomfort here.

I reach over to unwind her, and discover that she's got not one, but two claws so deeply imbedded in her tail that she can't retract them to free herself.

Idiot.

Obviously, I didn't say it out loud, or anything like that, but you can be sure I was thinking it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Funk Of Forty Thousand Years


I'm going to go right ahead and give myself a big ol' pat on the back for my efforts in throwing this Halloween party together.  I did it up right this year. 

Jack o' lanterns 'n all!.......though we didn't ever put them outside, because, without any trick or treaters to impress, what would have been the point?

And how cute are my tombstone cupcakes?  Those are meant to be undead gummy zombies clawing their way out of their curséd graves.  The kids were dead impressed, but wondered why none of them had legs...

Not to mention my perfectly awesome mummy dogs.  I think, by the way, that these would double at a Christmas party as infant babes wrapped in swaddling clothes.....must resist the sacrament jokes......

Bobbing for apples is sort of a classic Halloween game, right?  We opted for the cleanier, fuss free version where you hang one off the end of a broomstick.  Giggles galore.  The older girls loved it.

I hinted in my last post about the costumes that Alpha Grandma made for Boy and Missy this year.  She went all out with some tapestry remnants she's had laying around for awhile now.  They turned out fantastic,  even though my kids were totally lame in the eleventh hour, and wouldn't let me add some finishing touches to their get-ups with make-up, and up-dos, and such.  That baby pirate face is screaming for a rum-red nose and a handle-bar mustache!

The camera seemed to hate Princess Amanda all night, so I never did get a decent picture of her dress.  She insisted on the red shirt under it.  Not me.  When I suggested that the party was going to be inside, and, this being a special occasion and all, maybe she might consider going without the under clothes...she pouted and whined until I said, "What.ever."  She's all Norwegian, that one.  And no way, no how was she going to let me fix her hair all pretty like.  "Step off and let me at those skeletons," she said, "This here's what it's all about!"

I found a couple of cheapy, plastic skeletons that I could pull apart.  Then we had races to see who could put them back together the fastest.  Some were better at this than others, but they all seemed to enjoy it.

There were 10 of them altogether.  A manageable number.  The older girls thought it was hysterical to run around screaming in terror at the top of their ever-loving, squealy-ass lungs.  The boys were not even a little bit amused. 

They did end up getting to do a bit of trick-or-treating.  Earlier that afternoon, Mister went around to all of our nearest neighbors with a bag of candy, saying, "Look.  In a couple of hours a bunch of becostumed kids are going to come knocking at your door.  Just give them this, and they'll leave you alone."  One lady--the older one in the blue house--was way into it.  She ended up getting out candles, and was wearing a witch hat when she came to the door.  She refused our candy saying she had plenty and wanted to put together her own goodies.  She served it up to them out of a plastic cauldron.  That's the spirit!  I liked that lady immediately.

All in all, it was a pretty painless and (dare I say) fun four hours.  I won't even terribly much mind having to do it all over again next year.  In fact, I'm already cooking up ideas in my head to find a way to cover the ceiling with spiders and bats.  And we definitely need a  ghost hanging from the loft upstairs.....

Mister needs to work on his costum a bit though:

The stubble's alright, but the hair will never do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ten Things I've Managed Poorly

1--My blog. Obviously. An effective blogger wouldn't let two weeks go by without a new post now, would she? And this directly on the heels of a three week hiatus? Pathetic!

2--My career. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to have one by now.

3--My health. On account of how I hate making phone calls, and appointments, and such.

4--My waste? No. My waist? Meh, it could be 3 or 4 inches smaller I guess, but given the five--count 'em FIVE--hill repeats I ran Monday night, I'm going to go ahead and eat my pasta carbonara and say, no, not really to the waist bit. Frankly, I just couldn't to go any further with this theme until I'd dealt with the fact that the phrase "waste management systems" keeps running through my head.

5--My household, with the laundry being a specific sticking point. I've got a pretty good system down for the washing and drying, but the folding and putting away bit? Mired in inefficiency.

6--My humility. My mother tells me this blog doesn't necessarily have to be all about me, all of the time. I see her point, but have thus far failed to proceed accordingly.

7--My SAD. I'm working on a scheme by which I convince Mister to pack it all in and move to Libya for the pool parties and the wonderous Roman ruins, but so far? no dice.

8--The invitations to Saturday's Halloween party. Here's the thing, see. There weren't any.

I told the kids that I'd do the party. I told them we had to keep it small--manageable, if you will. I told them there wouldn't be any trick-or-treating because this particular neighborhood in this particular corner of Norway hasn't caught on to that particular tradition yet. Some have, but ours has not. So no trick-or-treating. But there will be games. And candy. And, most importantly, an opportunity to wear the costumes that Alpha Grandma stayed up all night one night making for you. Not you Emma, but you other two...you can wear the hand-sewn get-ups in luxurious brocades and heavy tapestries*. Emma's got that flimsy devil/fairy thing she seems to be so enchanted with. Everyone's happy.

I told them all this, then told them that they could choose three friends each. They all knew immediately who they wanted to invite. There was no fuss, no whining for more. Three seemed to be an acceptible number to them. Except Amanda--who only deigns to associate with two of the other babies at barnehage. But that was fine. Two friends for Amanda then. Whatever.

Then before I knew it, they were on the phone calling and arranging. The one friend couldn't come, so Emma quickly chose and dialed another. Then another. Of course, I realize now, that this was a mistake to allow the word to get out this way. I simply wasn't thinking at the time. I should have made invitations. I should have explicitly told them to keep this affair on the down low.

This all happened over the weekend.

Yesterday--Tuesday--one of Emma's friends who wasn't on her top three list, called and asked if she could pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseprettyplease come. It doesn't surprise me that this particular girl called, and asked so directly. She's that kind of girl. Of course I said yes. And I'll continue to say yes to anyone else who calls.

My concern is all those other girls and boys out there, and the mothers of said girls and boys who aren't quite so direct, quite so brazen as to call and say, "Hey, that sounds like fun. Can I/my kid come?" All those bitches? They hate me right now. And they're right. I really did fuck this one up royally.

9--My brevity, in the case of the last item.

10--My caffeine intake. Three cups of tea later, I'm finally done with this post. My first post in two weeks. Huzzah!



*There will be pictures. You seriously won't believe how lovely these costumes are. Well done mom!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy--From The Latin Meaning, Free iPod

Yeah, yeah. I'm late. I don't even have anything terribly amusing to report from my weekend away with which to make up for my lateness. Oops.

I mean, I do. I could. Our visit was exactly as chaotic and 'undone' as I expected it to be. But it's becoming increasingly clear to me that I'm the only one much bothered by the chaos, so chewing over it here only makes me sound like an irritable bitch. I figured I'd skip it and try focusing on The Happy for a change.

Turns out The Happy was mostly to be had in trees last weekend.







I tried my damndest get them all in the same tree at the same time for a picture, but they were having none of it. In fact, they were all oddly hostile towards one another all weekend. If I were thinking less happy thoughts I might be inclined to chalk it up to The Chaos seeping into their bones while they slept. Something in the Cherrios perhaps......

Ooo ooo ooo! And now for a piece sarcasm free Happy!

Emma just got home from school. She's aglow, I tell you. Bedazzled. Apparently, just before høstferie, her class was involved in some sort of drawing contest sponsored by one of the local newspapers (BergensAvis) in connection with the upcoming United Nations Day. Dudes! She won an iPod! A freaking iPod! Just a Shuffle, mind you. But still! An iPod! For something she drew! Wait, how many exclamation points was that? I don't think it was enough. !!! ! !!!

I haven't seen the picture. I'm not even all that sure what it depicted--one assumes something to do with world peace and harmony--President Obama and a chorus of angels perhaps? Em says no, but that's what peace is, right?

She was irritatingly vague on all the details. No, she doesn't remember what she drew. No, she wasn't the only one to win something. Yes, it was just her class who participated.....she thinks. No, she doesn't have any idea if the newspaper is going to print the winners. But LOOK at my iPod mom! An iPod!

There now. That oughta make up for the 3 week hiatus.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Every once in a little while I get it into my head that I'm going to give up on this whole blogging business.  It's trite.  It's silly.  No one really gives much of a damn anyway, so why not just spare myself the bother of it all?

Some might call this 'feeling sorry for one's self'.  Me, I prefer to call it 'insightful introspection', even if it is technically true that I only ever do it when I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Whatever.

I received a stern talking to from my mother via e-mail this morning regarding this issue.  She told me to knock it the fuck off already, and write something funny.  Like, NOW!

Sigh.

If she had been living my life in all this rain for the past month, she'd know what a Herculean task funny is for me at the moment.

Truth is, I got nothin'.  But, tell ya'll what, Mister bribed me into going with him up to my sister-in-law's farm for the weekend.  I'd share with you the terms of the bribe, but you wouldn't approve, so we'll skip it.  Suffice it to say, the Lord of Chaos himself runs his sloppy syndicate out of my sister-in-law's kitchen cupboards.  Simply (and lovingly--because I heart her and all, and I certainly wouldn't want anyone getting the wrong idea here) put, people tend to loose their collective shit when they go up there. Hilarity is sure to follow.

So, come Monday, I might, just might, have two or five funnyish acedotes to share.  Or--at the very least--a picture or two.

I'm here. 

I'm back.

I just needed a break is all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 9/11 Retrospective

I imagine the American TV market is flooded with far more of these every year than the Norwegian one.  We get our fair share though, mostly on the cable stations--Discovery, History Channel, BBC Knowledge, and the like.

My kids use these channels as bargaining tools.  When I start grousing about how much TV they're watching--"ENOUGH SPONGEBOB ALREADY!  TURN! IT! OFF!"--they'll come back with, "Okay, but if we turn it to Discovery, can we still watch TV?  Huh?  Can we?  Can we?"

Grumble, grumble, grumble.  "Fine!  But no bullshit ghost or U.F.O. documentaries!  Find something about something REAL!"

Can you see where I'm going with this?

They watched 5 minutes of "102 Minutes That Changed America" before I wondered upstairs and realized what they were looking at. 

I just watched some of it on Google videos through that link, and I must say, it's pretty good.  It's all primary source video and voice recordings.  No editorializing.  No overly dramatic music.  No kooky conspiratorial angling.  Just recordings of phone calls, tourist video cameras, cell phone cameras, and news feeds in real time as the events unfold.  Very powerful stuff.

I made them turn it off.  Of course, Emma, who always has to know whywhywhy everything why, asked, "But Mom, what is this?  Why can't we watch this?"

They hadn't seen the airplanes.  They saw a lot of very scared people milling about the streets and lots of smoke billowing out of the buildings, but they didn't see the airplanes.  I really didn't want to explain about the airplanes.  So I told them very basically that this show was about a terrible thing that happened in New York, and a lot of people died that day, and it was awful, and I just didn't think it was a good idea to get into the details of it right now because it's so scary and hard for kids to understand.

They seemed to be alright with this except Daniel, who has this thing for labels, and names, and everything in its place.  He wanted to know what the buildings were called and if they were still on fire.  So I had to add to my condensed history that the Twin Towers, in fact, fell down that day.

And that was it.  They cleaned up their Legos, and went to bed.

But Daniel must have spent the night chewing over these details, because the first thing he asked me when he crawled into bed with me this morning was, "But Mom, how did those Twin Towers fall down?"

So I'm wondering.  How much should they know?  How much of the details of 9/11 are kids in America taught?  Are they told about the airplanes?  The hijackings?  At 7 years old?  At 9 years old?  How much terror is too much at so young an age? 

Friday, September 11, 2009

More By Which To Be Disturbed

Once again this little piece of disturbia comes to us courtesy of EM.  Nothing to do with art this time.  Though, honestly people.  I don't think you all are appreciating the piercing insight of my interpretation!  You call me Freudian?  Me?  When clearly it is her who is struggling under the weight of Freud's leering, subliminal misogyny!  Pfft.  It's not like I'm the one who drew the giant squiggly sperm, and the sad brown uterus now, is it?  This is not Rorschach!  I assure you my psychology has nothing to do with it!

Anywho

Norway--in case you weren't aware--is gearing up for its national elections in just a few day's time.  I will not bore you with the particulars.  Most of you don't live here, don't care, and thus, don't particularly pertain.  And those of you who do...well, I'm sure you've already formed your own learned opinions.  Far more learned than mine, in fact, since, as a non-citizen, I'm ineligiable to vote, and therefore, incapable of processing enough of the political narrative to interpret and describe it here.  Also--I'm lazy, and the whole multi-party coalition/parlimentary thing baffles me a little. 

There.  I've said it.  For the most part, I just don't get it.  Plus, it turns out that the one party with whom I am most ideologically opposed (as all decent, rationally minded liberals should be) is the one party that speaks any sense at all when it comes to a plan for correcting the sorry state of education in this country.  It seems that FrP (the fuckers) know what it takes to actually educate a child, as opposed to merely socializing one.  Once I figured that out, frankly, I didn't have the stomach to investigate further.

Wait.  Why did I even start down this road?

Oh yeah, EM.

This afternoon we were at the kitchen table talking about this and that--dinner wishes, homework left to be done, plans for the weekend, that sort of thing. 

"So," said I, "We'll have time to finish up this spelling chapter next Monday since you'll be off school, and we'll have extra time for English that day."

"What?" says she, "What do you mean off school?"

"The schools are closed for the election.  You know that."

"Whaaaaa, what?"

"The election, EM.  Norway's nation elections."

"Does that mean Kong Harald won't be king anymore?"

Surely she jests.  And yet, she seems serious enough.  "No!  I mean...obviously...just....No!"

"Mmm.  What does it mean then?"

"You know what an election is.  Don't you?"  I'm not asking, so much as pleading.

"It's when you get new presidents and stuff."

"Right.  Or in Norway's case prime ministers.  Do you know who Norway's prime minister is?"

"Ummmm.  Kong.....no.  Ummmmm......no."

Wondering if she's been paying any attention to anybody for the past year especially, I ask tentatively, "Do you know who America's president is?"

"Barack Obama!"

"And what does congress do?"

"Make laws!"  Phew, that's my job done.

"So have you ever heard of a parliment?  Or the Storting?"

"No."

Anyone else disturbed by this?  I mean, here she is in the 4th grade.  The whole country is in the throes of a nationwide, political debate leading up to national elections next Monday, and she knows NOTHING about how her government works.  NOTHING.  It would seem her teachers have used ZERO class time to use this opportunity to discuss civic awareness.  ZERO.

Do I expect too much?  I swear I knew the basic structure of my government by the time I was in the 4th grade.  Executive, legislative, judiciary.  President, senator, congresscritter.  Surely I knew that much by then.  Didn't I?  At the very least I could tell you the name of the president.  I mentioned "Jens Stoltenberg" to her, and she looked at me like I was spinning sticky webs of misdirection and subterfuge....again.....

Democracy.  Republic.  Periodic popular elections.  Sounds like a pretty decent afternoon lesson to me, but apparently not.  Much too much like real learning.  Although, I can't help but think, that if Americans find the President speaking directly to their children so damn scary, they'd really be better off following the Norwegian model.  Presiwhat?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Art Appreciation: Reproduction Edition

Having decided which of EM's masterpieces we wanted to frame and hang (the faceless head), I was lovingly packing up and storing away the rejects when I was suddenly struck by something I just have to get off my chest.

Brace yourselves.  It's a bit disturbing.

But, seriously, isn't her shape and color assignment positively teeming with blatant sexual imagery?

No obvious phalluses (giant squiggly sperm notwithstanding), but go ahead, count the clams. 

Count 'em I tell ya'!

I get three obvious ones, a uterus--complete with ovaries, a possible fourth candidate in the upper left-hand corner, and a shapely tit in the lower left.  Oh, and let us not forget the large X and Y chromosomes smugly dominating the composition (in leu of the phallus, one supposes).

I mean, I know she didn't mean for any of that to appear the way it does, but isn't it just exactly like she meant for all that to appear just exactly the way it does?

I'm a little concerned that so many of the obvious lady bits are in the shadey corner, surrounded by the ugly colors she was "challenging herself" to use.  That and the menacing sperm make me wonder.  Perhaps it's time for a rather serious Come-to-Venus/Our Bodies, Ourselves kind of chat with her sometime in the very near future.

I know, I know.  I'm going to hell.  But now that I've shown you all (and I just know you all see it too), you're coming with me....

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Assimilation into The Collective complete.
Subjugation of native inhabitants can begin.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Aftermath

I know you all want me to say that the very gates of Hell opened up to swallow back its demon horde. Just 'cuz that would be the better story.

But it was...I don't know....they were kind of......sort of....civilized.....

They sat politely at the table--asked for help with the ketchup, apologized for needing more soda, and I even saw two or three of them using their napkins:
After eating, they ceremoniously--following the laws of some archaic, unspoken, tribal heirarchy--organized themselves into a tight circle, and played an only slightly jostling round of spin-the-bottle for the opening of the presents:
They listened reverently as Boy counted the money he was given...over and over again. They asked to hold it, but they never attempted to pocket the prize. This would have thrown the brotherhood into disarray.

Don't get me wrong. It was louder than bombs over bedlam.

There were moments of sheer, unglued crazy. And, I might add, not all of them have yet learned to flush a toilet.
But they didn't eat my husband alive when they had the chance.

And, at the end of a very intense three hours, my house remained mostly intact; my girls and their precious girly toys mostly unmolested. The apparently not-so-fearsome little darlings gathered up their things, said "Takk for meg", and tripped up the stairs holding their dad's hand rambling on about buried treasure and lucky Boy's delightfully adorable balloon chasing kitten. So much for the demon horde.

Easy Peasy. But next year they're SO doing this at the bowling alley!


P.S. The treasure hunt was a huge success. Three rum and cokes produce poetic genius from fumbling engineers! And you've never seen a prouder Mister than after watching kid after kid run out the door telling their dad's how freakin' COOL it was to get to dig that silly Lego box full of candy out of the ground.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's What Pain Is

As most of you know, my beautiful Boy turned 7 a few weeks ago.

For many reasons--the least of which being I'M A TERRIBLE MOTHER--he's NEVER had a proper birthday party with school pals and presents, intemperance and chaos, anarchy and fiery distruction.

Tomorrow I set that record straight.

My guilt led me to approve a guest list of 16 sticky, feral boys.

SIX.TEEN. 

Prey for us now, and in the hour of our death.

In an effort to focus the energies of the these sixteen wee lordlings of havoc, I have decreed that there shall be a treasure hunt. 

Yes.  After the hot dogs, but before the presents, the little darlings will be sent on an adventure. 

Maps shall be furnished.  Clues must needs be deciphered.  Much fun will be had by all.

The only catch being----my demon guests are Norwegians, and I'm completely norsk challenged.  I can't write any of the damn clues!  Gah! 

At this very moment, Mister is sitting at the kitchen table, nursing his third rum and coke, trying to churn out a series of 16 cutesy rhymes leading to a cache of candy bags buried out in the backyard.

You have no idea how much it pains me--THE WRITER--to have to hand this delicate task over to he--THE FUMBLING ENGINEER!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Trouble With Oddny

Earlier today, I glibbly asserted in the comment section of a fellow Norwegian ex-pat blogger's blog that half of Norway's problem was the absurdly short, barely 5 hour school day. I didn't say it exactly thus, but whatever. I meant it at the time. And sure, why not? I might as well stand by that statement. It makes about as much sense as anything else I might pull out of my ass at any given moment to account for and condone my ongoing discontent.

Sooooo, if short school days are one half of the problem, this woman, then, must be the other half:
Okay--maybe not her personally, but certainly what she represents.

The picture comes to us today from our local paper, BergensTidene. The article, which is featured on the front page, is actually a pretty interesting one discussing the upward trend of health fanatics in the mid- to upper classes. It's basically arguing that, these days, the status symbol of choice among the elite, rather than a flashy car or a big ass sailboat, is a toned and healthy body.

Fine. I think this trend was well established donkey's ages ago, but whatever. Oddny (uber-norsk name of above woman) is used as a prime example of this trend because she once tipped the scales at over 200 pounds. Then, one fine day, she decided to go for a walk. And hey presto! However many years later (I don't think it ever said how long it took) she's thin, fit, and climbing every mountain in sight.

Grand. I'm happy for Oddny. I really am. As a runner who started out barely being able to run 200 yards without inducing 'episode' worthy heart spasms, I applaud absolutely anyone who commits to their fitness hard enough and long enough to gain that level of endurance and drop significant poundage along the way. Good on her!

No. What really chaps my hide about Oddny here, is the very first thing the article says about her--in large, bold print no less--is that Oddny is 'uføretrygdede'. Forget the pronounciation on that one, it doesn't matter. What's important here is the meaning. Let me explain. We Americans don't really have a word for 'uføretrygdede', because we don't have a social system which would allow for such a creature to evolve. But what it means is this: Oddny has been declared medically incapable of work, indeed, she's so incapacitated that the welfare system has had to envelope her into the bountiful cushion of its loving embrace, and is fully....read me again...FULLY...covering all of her health and living expenses.....in perpetuity. The rest of her life people.....if she so wishes......and I'm pretty sure she so wishes.....

The ariticle explains that early in her life Oddny was excused from ever working again because of "a back illness" (it doesn't explain which one), and yet....and yet!.....there's Oddny climbing mountains, lugging a heavy backpack across wet, slippery terrain, and bragging about all the summits she's seen. With a 'back illness'? Srsly? How fucking busted would Oddny be if this article appeared in the States, and there she was living high on the hog off some bogus insurance settlement?

Oddny. Dude. You're fooling no one with that sore back shit anymore. GET. A. JOB.

..........said the jobless blogger from the quiet comfort of her blogosphere.....

Oh. And Norway. Dude. You're digging your own grave with this uføretrygd shit. Dial it back a bit, 'kay?

P.S. Please do not take this rant as a denunciation of socialized medicine or welfare in general. It's not. But such glaring and obvious abuse of a decent and needful system of support hurts my eyes, galls my liver, and vexes my very soul. I just had to share. That's all.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Unfinished Elder Miss Business

This is another post I would have liked to have put up in June before we left, but was unable to get to.

Not my fault, this one.

EM's art teacher cancelled the last art class, so we couldn't pick up her portfolio before we left. I just got ahold of it yesterday at the first class of the new year. And well worth the wait it was. EM had epics to tell about how she did this, and why she chose that. She wondered where on earth we were going to find the room to hang it all up on the walls. If I were a better mother, I might have shared her concern. As it was, I told her we'd pick one piece--the best piece--to frame and display in some later to be determined place of honor on the walls.

Which piece is still a matter of some debate.

Which would ya'll choose?

This was the first time she'd ever worked with coal. She said she didn't much like it. Much too hard to control. For this assignment the teacher had brought in three stuffed animals. They were told to pick one, and draw it into some sort scene--sort of like a book illustration.

The story goes: this husky comes to school one day to take her on an adventure to the arctic. It's funny 'cuz I spent half of last winter writing half a book about a kid who leaves school one day, and heads out on an arctic adventure.
She didn't have much to say about these two. I don't think she liked them much. They're both paintings that she did after being read a story from which she was supposed to pick two scenes to illustrate. She couldn't remember much of the story, something about a woman who wanted three babies....and there was a bird.....or something.....
This one is her favorite, and I have to agree that I think it's rather wonderful. It's a simple still life--a vase of peonies, a water pitcher, and a pineapple. The thing I find most impressive about it is, when I looked at it and said, "Hey EM, I didn't know you guys had talked about prespective or anything like that. That pineapple has some depth!"

She was all like, "Eh? Per-wah-huh? I just thought the flowers turned out nice."

Which they did! But look at that pineapple! It has some depth!
This is the blind portrait of her friend that she was holding when her picture was taken for the newspaper last winter. I liked the little bit I could see from that grainy photo. I flat out love the finished product. If I have my way, I think this is the one I'll be framing. When I asked her why she chose those particular colors, she said, "Because the blue is like, electric! That's what I wanted."
This is one of the drawings she did in preparation for that free-form bird house thing that was selected for the art show. She was told to let her imagination run wild in composing a house. The only condition was that this house had to hang from a tree.

Messy and chaotic as it is, I still think this is far more interesting to look at than the finished product that ended up in the show.
This was from an assignment all about shape and color. She couldn't remember any more concrete instructions than that. Just shape and color. And she told me that she wanted to challenge herself to use some colors that she didn't think she liked. I don't know if that was her idea, or perhaps something the teacher suggested to her at some point during the process. Either way, the finished product works for me.
And finally--to round out the year's curriculum--some scuplture.

......get it?...with the rounding out?....and the scupture?....in the round?........anyway.....

Her teacher broke her leg--apparently, quite badly--'long about mid-January. So, for the entire second half of the year, she had a substitute filling in. The particular speciality of this substitute happened to be ceramics and sculpture. So the kids got to spend a lot of time working with clay that they wouldn't ordinarily have gotten to do otherwise.

EM loved it. The polar bear candleholder with the blue bow tie is kind of cute. But I can't help it, I like her drawings better. I was glad to hear her regular teacher say yesterday that while she might consider to do a bit with clay again this year, she can't do much because she doesn't know much about it, and she doesn't have access to the kiln for firing.

Yey! Sharpen those pencils baby! Make me proud!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Unfinished Boy Business

This is a post I meant to get up in June, but just never got around to posting....or even writing, come to think on it....

June was a busy month for me.  Remember the waterless well?  What a lark that was.  Incidently, sometime in July--about a month after we left, as happy chance would have it--the fish we kept in the well, and tasked with eating all the worms and moldy bug-a-boos that might muck up the water, died, rotted, and essentially poisoned the whole system.  It was apparently no small task to get it all cleaned up and rebooted, so to speak.  Shame I missed that.  On a happy note, there was plenty of water on hand to flush through the system once it was clean again....

Anyhoo--back to the unpleasantness of June.  In between hauling all those buckets of water up from the lake, I found myself frantically driving Boy to and from soccer practices and (finally) a handful of real games. 

How psyched was Boy to show up at that first game and be handed a real uniform?  Blue!  With sponsors and everything!  The awesome was palpable.

To be honest, Boy's athletic performance is haphazard and, shall we say, uneven at best.  I believe he has the raw material of a potentially superb athlete.  But at the moment, like many of his kind, he suffers from the short attention span and volatile grace of a Golden Retriever puppy.  The strongest, most solid kick I saw him make during the entire season clocked his own team's best player squarely in the face.  Boy was about to feel really bad about this until he got distracted by the goalie's sister turning cart-wheels on the sidelines.  He's never scored a goal.  He rarely manages more than to merely get in the way of the other team's attempt to hussle the ball.  He'd never dream of attempting to steal the thing from them.  He'd be uncertain what to do if they just handed it to him.  None of this bothers Boy in the least.  He has the time of his life everytime he goes out to play.  I hope some of that comes across in the pictures.

I love the orange shoes.  What flare!  No one else on the pitch has them.  No one else could carry them off.
I believe he believes his team scored a goal.  This may or may not have been true.  He often got confused and cheered for the other team's goals as well.
Huddle up!
 The kid on his right, the one whose face we can see, that's Ole-- Boy's bestest friend in the whole wide world.
The last weekend before we left, his team participated in a cup/tournament thingy (different, apparently, and separate from the other series of matches he'd been playing....fucking soccer....baffles me) at the end of which, all the players got a medal and a goofy headband.  He lost the medal, but that headband he wore to bed for three nights running.