Yikes!

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Isn’t this a pretty tree?

I don’t know what it is — it was growing in a sort of neglected parking lot near the convention center. Since I was so rarely outside, it seemed all the more interesting.

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Here’s another shot of librarians trekking in the first morning, looking for the registration booth.

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Here’s an example of an interesting thing. If you live on the east coast, “Washington” means Washington, D.C. If you live on the west coast, “Washington” means Washington State. It just does.

Anyway. Now that I’m back, here’s what I’m worrying about:

  • Work issues I really should be worrying about — ways things could be done better, and ought to be done better. I need to pick a few issues and focus on them. Soon.
  • Laundry
  • We leave in a week and a half for vacation, and from there, N for Russia. Yikes.
  • The house is a bit of a mess. Just slightly.
  • Desire to finish the West Wing before N leaves. Impossible.
  • Haircuts? More shots? Adaptors and transformers? New shoes and jeans? You know — that sort of stuff.
  • Eeek.
  • My desk is so full of crap that I can’t move my elbows.
  • It’s summer.

Ice cream

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These are, if you can believe it, Rutherford B Hayes’s dessert plates. I’m sorry they’re not really in focus. The one on the top is supposed to look like a snowshoe on a scroll of birch bark, and it is, in particular, an ice cream plate.

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It seems to me possible that American presidents did not use to take themselves so seriously, and liked to pretend they were at camp.

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Who can blame them?

(I know it’s out of focus, but can you tell that the bears have knocked over a garbage can and are eating the garbage?)

Below is something more sedate, for MrsM.

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It was George Washington’s.

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Finally, something by one of the Peale’s — I think it was Rafael. His father apparently wanted him to paint portraits because they were more prestigious. But he preferred fruit.

Anyway — these were all from the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery. I spent the whole day there — it was amazing. The building itself is beautiful — it used to be the old Patent Building.

There was also an amazing . . . thing . . . by David Beck — sort of a model of the museum full of all sorts of amazing minature things. Oh — you can see it here.

I have to come back with the kids.

Also, an amazing portrait of Lincoln Kirstein by Jamie Wyeth, painted when Wyeth was 19. Incredible.

Okay — got to run.

Rereading Harry P

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If you look really closely, you can see the bee. It’s black.

After seeing the movie, which I liked, I realized that I did not really remember the book in detail. (I was sitting next to M at the move, an M who kept saying, “But, wait!”) Having reread the book, I still like the movie. I think what they did makes sense — they simplified it, they ripped out huge plotlines, but they made a coherent movie — maybe more so than the previous movies. M said, “Without the Fenrear Graybark plot, how will they explain Bill?” There was no Tonks and Remus. But, as N said, “The movie was funny. The books are funny, and the movie got that.” As my friend A said, “I liked it for the tone, but they ruined the pacing.”

I think these are all right.

But now I’m on to the 7th book, and I now remember one thing I noticed the first time through — it’s frustrating! Ron barges in when Harry and Ginny are kissing. Harry promises Ron he won’t talk to Ginny again, so he doesn’t. But he should. It’s a wedding. He should dance with her. It would make Ginny a more solid character. It would be great if Harry spoke to Krum, who is there, but of course, he’s disguised as Barry. That’s frustrating. Now Harry’s at 12 Grimauld Place, and soon they’re going to go off. They will never eat the steak and kidney pie that Kreacher’s made for them. I suppose one could argue that that actually makes sense — we feel regret about that. But, I don’t like it. (Maybe they do see Kreacher again — I can’t remember. It makes me sad,though.)

Okay. I’ve got stuff to do. I’m leaving for DC this morning.

Bees

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Our yard is suddenly full of bees, and even butterflies. It makes me very happy. I am always getting flowers that are supposed to be good for bees and butterflies and hummingbirds, and then they never seem to come and it makes me sad. But now they are — maybe it just took them a while to find us. The big mulleins (verbascum) seem to be particularly attractive to them. My favorite are the big black carpenter bees. Also, yesterday morning I looked out and saw a hummingbird flying around a red salvia.

It suddenly occurs to me that it’s just about time to thing about planting for fall. It makes sense to do that around here, because whatever you plant in the fall will actually be large and blooming next summer. Stuff planted in spring will kind of limp along until next summer, when it will take off. I have lived here 30 years and I am finally beginning to figure out how to garden here.

Suddenly, everyone (by which I mean The Lass, Freshhell, Harriet, and now Jeanne) is posting journal entries from the past, or at least thinking about their past. I kept a journal all through high school, but it’s hidden away in my mother’s attic. I’m sort of frightened to go find them, although I’m betting that I’ll just sound like myself, and am probably worrying about the same sorts of things I worry about now. But regarding memory, the fact of the matter is that I have an absolutely terrible memory about many things. Particularly embarrassing things, to tell the truth. But other things — generally just particular moments — I remember really well. The aluminum cups my grandmother had at the lake cottage, which we took raspberry picking because they couldn’t break. What it felt like to run up my driveway (which was a steep hill), every morning, when I was late for the bus. The sound of the crows in married student housing, when N was a baby. They frightened her, and she called them Aw Aw birds. The view from a different stairwell there, where I finally found her when she ran off when she was about two.

Anyway, maybe I will look for my old journals next month at my mom’s house.

Or maybe I won’t. I’m sort of frightened to see them.

Tote that barge

Sorry — no picture.

This is what I’ve been working on. Really — go look at it. I am especially proud of the title.

Every year this thing has to have some kind of catchy title which always manages to sound absurd.

Anyway, every one is scurrying around like mad getting ready, plus there’s regular work going on, with the result that there is barely room for me at my desk I’ve got so many problematic books piled up all over the place.

But what I really wanted to tell you was that I had book group last night, and I made them meet out in my backyard by the fire pit. There were a few minor mishaps. Ann was downwind and kept getting blasted with smoke and covered with ash, but on the whole it was quite fun. We drank champagne left over from our party and ate cherries, almonds, cookies and cheese and crackers. Very nice.

I saw some of M’s drawings last night — they were really good. It’s too bad there’s only one more week of this program, but I think it got her kind of excited about going to college. Now we have to find a college with an art program she likes. It does make me see why people go to art school, though —

Okay — I am going to make an attempt to move some of this crap.

Later —

(Oh, what did we read? Huh. Choke, by Chuck Palaniuk. We were glad to have read it, since it’s unlikely we would have otherwise. I don’t think any of us was deeply touched by it, but we kind of liked that it was such a jumbled heap of glittery objects — I don’t think I have any more to say than that — next up, Strange as this Weather Has Been, about which I know little except that we liked the author’s name — Ann Pancake; it had a blurb from Jayne Anne Phillips on the back, and it wasn’t something we would normally have picked. Also, Alice had two copies of it.

Good lord

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I’ve been ridiculously busy — all day long.

Part of it is normal life. Part of it is getting ready for the usual conference. It’s every July. It’s actually fun, once you get there, but a hideous pain to get ready for. It’s the middle of summer, for crying out loud!

Anyway.

I’ve been reading Colombine, by Dave Cullen. It’s very good. The conclusion, eventually, is that one shooter was essentially depressed and suicidal, and the other a psychopath, and that no one caught the signs which were there, but not exactly obvious.

It’s an interesting study of teenagers, actually. One of the shot kids, Patrick Ireland, just had a drive to do well — from his freshman year through his recovery. Contrast that with Dylan Klebold, who was just somehow twisted and angry inside. He might have been a suicide if he hadn’t met Eric Harris. He might have grown out of it. It’s really just a matter of personality when you get down to it — what makes one kid determined to do well, and another sad, depressed and prone to explosive outbursts?

It’s actually frightening — there’s really no defense again a psychopath.

Anyway — I need to go home now and get ready for book group —

This is the morning

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We all woke up late. I took a shower and made coffee, which no one had time to drink. M wore her new dress — everyone is dressed for summer today, but of course the fog has come in. M was late for her bus, so I drove her to the next stop while N filled out her visa form, not believing that she needed to find the name and address of her old summer job — but it’s a visa for Russia — don’t you think you should be thorough?

We got it in the mail — using an address N had scribbled on a napkin.

Here I am. I still have not had breakfast. I hope I brushed my teeth.

Hurry.

Picture from February

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It won’t rain like that until November although, strangely, it did rain this Saturday, briefly. Apparently it brought luck to the wedding. I believe it — there was a double rainbow, too.

We finally kicked off our film festival with Kitchen Stories, which the girls and I saw years ago when it came out, but K had never seen. It’s a very good movie.

Next up is Magnolia, which none of us has ever seen. I think we might have to see Dr. Zhivago, although my vote was originally for Amarcord, which I have not seen for 30 years.

Anyway. I’ve got stuff to do — books to count, etc. etc. etc.

see ya —

Fire king

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Yikes.

My cousin and her family appeared, and stayed for two days.

My friend from New York flew in for the weekend.

Two friends we have not seen for 10 years got married in October and had a party (a quinceiniera, since they’d been together for 15 years).

It was great, and I’m exhausted.

I really like my cousin, and we never have time to hang out, and it took until Saturday night, after the quinceiniera, before we could really hang out and talk. We stayed up until 2, and then got up at 6:30 to make them breakfast and hang out with them some more before they left. (K offered to get up and make eggs for them, which was unprecedented and wonderful.)

It was amazing to see my friends B and F, the friends who got married, again. We used to see them, first Bob, actually, before the kids were born, and then when the kids were born, and then when the kids were small, but over time we’d really lost touch. K stayed at B’s house after the earthquake, when he couldn’t get home, just before N was born. The most amazing thing was to see all their friends, who used to be young and attractive and are now still attractive, but older and grayer. You’d look at someone and say, Is that K M? It was really fun.

It’s always fun to see N, who flew in for the party, actually. She came over yesterday and hung out.

So now I am totally exhausted. I need to sleep, and to water the garden, and to do the laundry, and to fix the couch back into a couch. I feel like I’ve been hit on the head with a hammer.

But, it was really fun.

Yawn.

plans

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  • We’re having this family reunion this summer at a lake in Minnesota very near the lake we used to have a cottage on. It’s a big deal, because we don’t go back there much any more. My sister and my oldest brother arranged it, which I think really put a crimp in the shorts of another brother — I will take a page from The Lass and give him a name. Let’s call him Middle Brother. He is, actually, about in the middle. Anyway, Middle Brother had to organize something, so he decided to organize a party. It’s conveniently scheduled for a day before I get there. Oh well. But now I just got an email from my best friend from kindergarten (she lived two doors down from us, and I suppose she heard about this party from an older sibling) and she’s coming, and I had to write her back and tell her, sorry — I won’t be there. Maybe we can meet up later, but don’t you think this might have been avoided had the party actually been scheduled for a day we were all there? I do. Let’s just say that if Middle Brother ever had been on my Christmas list, which he has not, he would be off it now.
  • Why is he such a jackass? I guess I could speculate, but frankly, I don’t really think there’s any reason good enough.
  • Sorry, I am quite sure this is right up there on the list of things you really shouldn’t write about in public.
  • My cousin is coming, as I believe I’ve mentioned. I’m about to run home and quickly vacuum. Maybe.
  • Time is running out. N and I have been reading the St Petersburg guidebook which recommends a rather alarming set of vaccinations to be current on . . . Which makes me realize we need to worry about adapters and shoes and shots and sweaters. She has enough underwear for Dr Livingston sort of expedition — she ostensibly needed them because of hockey; I really think it was so she could avoid doing laundry for months at a time — so I think she’s all right on that front. But she lost her nice gloves, and does she actually have any shoes that aren’t sneakers or Sorels? Anyway, I think it’s actually time to start worrying about this, given all the stuff coming up to worry about.
  • She has started a Russian class, which seems like a good idea. She will at least know the alphabet before going, and that will be good.
  • M. — College.
  • Good heavens. Okay. List made. I feel better.
  • Bye.