Oh, the Joy

Oh, the joy...

Of bubble-wrap...

Freshly popped!


Thinking of M.

Poor beautiful M. has a terrible cold (or flu...) She is feeling very yucky (that's the technical term for feeling "bleah.") Sending her best thoughts & wishes for clear breathing and restorative sleep tonight. Meanwhile, I was planning to drive up & join her at a doctor's appointment tomorrow, but am feeling not so great myself...

Our New Vegetable Garden

For the past few years I have very much wanted to have a vegetable garden but did not want to change any of the plantings in our back-garden. I started eyeing this spot tucked away on the side of our house early last winter. Here is a photo of our future vegetable garden. It's looked like this for several weeks now (maybe a month.)

I desperately want to plant my vegetables but don't want to lose my garden to the local deer and rampaging raccoons. I am waiting until my Mr. Bloom has time to frame a little door and tack up all that chicken wire... sigh... Maybe we'll be able to get it done Monday. A friend gave me an article from Sunset Magazine which says it's still not too late to plant our tomatoes!

I'm dreaming of a summer of round, red tomatoes and endless zucchini omelets... sigh...


Mission La Purisima

We took this little detour to Mission La Purisima thanks to Samantha over at Pipodoll. In her blog Samantha has (among other things) been chronicling & singing praises of the missions she visited with her family on a road trip in April. When I realized we were going to be driving past one of Samantha's favorite missions on our way home from Oxnard yesterday, I decided we should pay it a visit, too.

What was fascinating about this mission (besides the beautiful and dramatic landscape surrounding it) was the number of furnished rooms.

Looking at the old beds, chests, books, paintings, clay & stone cooking-ovens, etc... it was not difficult to imagine what it must have been like to live here 200 years ago.

The art work was exquisite and so were the gardens.

There were also horses, sheep, pigs & turkeys on the site. Samantha (over at Pipodoll) e-mailed to tell me that, if we had had apples, we could have made friends with the sociable horses. As it was, we had no apples but spent a fair amount of time socializing with this very un-sociable fellow. We were fascinated by his pendulous wattles and ostentatious feather display -- and we had a good laugh when our turkey-friend "gobbled" loudly at little Mr. My little one nearly jumped out of his shoes in fright!

Thank you, Samantha, for inspiring a wonderful adventure!

Weekend Adventure

My mother is celebrating her 70th birthday this week. To honor my mother we road-tripped down to Oxnard (Ventura County) for an extended weekend rendez-vous with my mother, father & brother at a friend's beach house.

Here is our sleepy boy on the drive down. We stopped for lunch and he woke up in time for tacos & quesadillas...

At the beach house, Little Mr. B. went for walks with his uncle and grandfather...

And created art in the sand.

The wind also created art in the sand...

And made a mess of my car!

We all found quiet time to read...

And picked up yet more reading material at Bart's Books in Ojai (I'm not the only one in my family who loves books...)

Bart's Books is an adventure. It's an outdoor labyrinth of used books, plus more books spread through the rooms of a lovely old house. Here you can see the selection of cookbooks displayed where else but in the kitchen. Ah, my perfect kitchen... books in the sink, spread across the cutting boards and tucked into every cupboard, drawer & shelf... (my only problem, if this were my house, would be... where would I keep my collection of fluted tart pans?)

A wonderful weekend with my wonderful mother... Happy Birthday!

(Tomorrow: Our "on-the-way-home-adventure" at Mission La Purisima.)


What I Read Last Week

Last week I read the most remarkable book... Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, a historical fiction about a woman named Mary Anning & her friendship with Elizabeth Philpot.

Born to a very poor family, Mary Anning supplemented her family income by finding & selling small fossils found along the cliffs of Lyme Regis (a small town on the coast of England.) She and her brother found the skeleton of an icthyosaurus and later the skeleton of a plesiosaurus. Discovery of the skeletons of creatures which had never been seen before brought up questions of evolution, extinction and God's intentions regarding all of creation. Very controversial topics in the early 1800's and still (shockingly) relevant even now. Also, prominent in the book is the discussion of women's roles in the early 19th century and the fact that these women had to fight for any bit of recognition for their discoveries and contributions to the field of paleontology. The book is a sort of cross between a Jane Austen novel & "adventures-in-paleontology-with-Mary" (and, in fact, it's possible Austen and Mary Anning may have met in real life when Austen visited Lyme Regis in the early 1800's.)

A very good read if you're looking for one...



To me, naming a child feels like a huge responsibility. This name must carry him from babyhood, through the indignities of childhood (i.e. possibly carrying a name which rhymes with a funny or offensive word) and from there into adulthood.

Parceled with that, in the Jewish tradition one is expected to name a child after a deceased relative, usually a grandparent. Sometimes the actual name is used, but it's more common to commemorate a grandparent by taking the first letter of their name and then choosing the child's name starting with that same letter.

My husband lost his father three years ago and so it was natural to think of naming our baby after him. Sweet Husband and I came up with a name we both liked. It starts with the letter "L" -- the same letter which started my father-in-laws name. Even the second letter of both names is the same, and both names have only 3 letters! About 6 weeks ago, we told my mother-in-law about our plans for this name and she sounded very pleased. Then, over the weekend, surprise! She spent 45 minutes haranguing my Sweet Husband because we are not going to use the exact name my father-in-law carried. I called the next day to try to soothe her. I suggested that we might, instead, use my father-in-law's name, intact, as a middle name. My mother-in-law yelled, made absurd threats and hung up on me. Then she called MY mother to try to bad-mouth me... Outrageous, I know...

My husband respected his father but is ambivalent about his father's parenting style and the relationship he had with him. My husband does not want to call our son by his father's name.

Ugh. What are we going to name this little guy? I entertain myself by coming up with the most ridiculous options... Buford? Humphrey? Eustace? Dudley? Irving?

Do you have any favorite boys names? I'm open to suggestions! (I'm also open to suggestions for how to deal with a deranged mother-in-law.) Sigh...


Sparrows and Stories

Do you know," Peter asked "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories... (J.M. Barrie)

Today I took my Little Mr. to the library to hear a storyteller (who also happens to be a puppeteer-colleague of mine...) For this presentation he told stories written by Hans Christian Andersen while dressed as the author (and he performed with a charming Danish accent to boot!) Outside the library window I saw 2 or 3 little heads bobbing up and down -- sparrows on the window sill listening in on the stories. James M. Barrie was right -- little birds do love listening to stories!


Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, while Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by it's parents... J.M. Barrie -- Peter Pan

Oh! Ever since seeing the show Peter Pan on Saturday, I have had "Peter-Pan-on-the-Brain." I've been thumbing through my old copy of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (the prequel to Peter Pan), gazinging at Arthur Rackham's illustrations and searching favorite quotes like this one:

...Though he was born so long ago he has never had a birthday, nor is there the slightest chance of his ever having one. The reason is that he escaped from being a human when he was seven days old; he escaped by the window and flew back to the Kensington Gardens. If you think he was the only baby who ever wanted to escape, it shows how completely you have forgotten your own young days. ...All children could have such recollections if they would press their hands hard to their temples, for, having been birds before they were human, they are naturally a little wild during the first few weeks, and very itchy at the shoulders, where their wings used to be.

This ability of babies to fly away leads to a touching (and disturbing) part of the story of Peter Pan -- the part where Peter recounts trying to return to his mother after being away for many years only to find the window closed. I think about this part of the story often, especially after discussing it with Little Mr. B. a few months ago...

I cannot help but look at my little boy and see a bit of the wild Peter Pan in him... The confident creature who, one minute crows, "How clever I am! Oh, the cleverness of me!" and flies away -- the next minute racing back in need of care & mothering. There is a bitter-sweetness, wanting him to stay young and sweet forever... And knowing, in reality, that it would be sad and strange if he remained this way... if he did not follow a normal course of maturation and ultimately grow up.

Do you have a favorite Peter Pan quote? Maybe mine is

On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.

Hmmm... if you're looking for me any time soon, you'll find me hiding inside a book...


From Blog-life to Real-life

When I started this blog the first week of March, I didn't begin the project with many expectations. I wasn't sure how often I'd post, what I'd post about or who might read and comment. It's been a lovely surprise, this unfolding& evolving experience of blogging. I've enjoyed posting, enjoyed feedback and enjoyed the connections I've made so far. I've also realized that I am very much a face-to-face person. So it delighted me to discover that 2 bloggers with whom I've been communicating are local to me. And when Kathy of Everyday Bliss suggested we have a real-life adventure together, I jumped at the opportunity to meet the exuberant, ever-questing, curious, creative person behind the blog. As a bonus, I got to meet J., her exuberant, ever-questing, curious & creative 3-year old daughter. We met at a local Children's Museum, Kathy, her little J., my Little Mr. B. & I... and it was such a lovely afternoon.

It would take me all night to describe the endlessly amazing hands-on exhibits at this museum... the post-office play-area, the fire truck, the Wells Fargo stage coach, the bubble exhibit, the water-ways exhibit, "Secret-of-Circles" exhibit, the art-loft... But, oh! The Cabinet of Wonders... just the name of this exhibit makes me quiver all over with excitement...

It was glorious... the vintage marionettes which danced at the turn of a knob, the giant butterfly which fluttered at the push of a button, the sand-laboratory, the magic forest... and then I heard the tinkling, twinkling music. Kathy pointed me up a short flight of stairs and inside a moving, swirling, carousel kaleidoscope. That was when the little wheels in my heads started to spin and shoot off rainbow flashes of sparkles & light (Kathy will attest to this -- she witnessed it herself...)

Thank you Kathy (& little J., too) for the lovely afternoon -- for the good conversation about blogging, parenting and... life... For the chasing around in circles, the splashing, the nibble-y snacks, the curiosity and the questions, the 2 children who somehow escaped our gaze, disappeared together for 5 minutes, caused frantic mamas to nearly have heart attacks & inform the museum staff who sent out an all-alerts bulletin via walkie-talkie to help search for a 6 year old boy and 3 year old girl (well, that part I could have done without...)

Cyberspace is great, but for me, it will never take the place of face-to-face...


Wash Wednesday

Behind the drying rack in our extra shower...

Is a favorite spot for hide-and-seek!

(This post courtesy of the Wash Wednesday Photo Challenge brought to us by Nicole at Gardenmama. If you want to see some truly beautiful photos and read inspirational words on the labor of love which is laundry click here & here!)


What We Did Today

Today we went here...

Little Mr.'s favorite part was the pirates playing musical instruments. Mr. Bloom liked the mermaids. I thought flying was the best part.

Then we went here...

Had a look at the Bay...

Had a cupcake here and cup of coffee here...

And had some noodles (& dumplings...)


But I thought the best part was flying...


A Monkey Among Us

Unfortunately, my favorite book by Dave Horowitz, A Monkey Among Us, is out of print. However, he has written a number of other books which are in print. You can read all about them on Dave's website here.

If you're looking for a little entertainment for you and your children, I recommend you visit the "movies" link on his website. You can hear Dave reading his books with quirky music (and the occasional salty comment) in the background.

Fun, fun, fun!


A Small Error Leads to Unintended Kindness

Today when I picked up our mail there was a small, cream colored envelope addressed to my Little Mr. There was no stamp, no return address and the penmanship of the address looked like the hand of an elderly person. Inside the envelope was a note thanking my son for a hand-decorated paper bag bearing Mother's Day wishes and containing a hand-made, flower shaped, ceramic votive holder.

"Aha," we said, this explains the mystery of the missing Mother's Day gift.

Last Friday the children in my son's class decorated paper bags to wrap their hand-made ceramic votive holders for Mother's Day gifts. Little Mr. left his wrapped gift behind in the classroom on Friday, so his teacher decided she would drop it off at our house. Mrs. M. lives around the corner and up the hill -- you can see the back of her house from our garden. She sent me a quick e-mail over the weekend asking whether we had found the gift on our doorstep. No... we had not found the gift on our doorstep... hmmm...

Today's note explains the mystery and I'm very glad this is where my Mother's Day gift has ended up. Offering a surprise to our elderly, reclusive neighbors is far better than receiving the ceramic votive holder myself...

The Cornucopia Institute

Thanks to a wonderful post last week on the blog Clean, I learned about The Cornucopia Institute. The chart above, compiled by Dr. Phil Howard & available on The Cornucopia Institute website, tracks which large corporations own certain organic/"health food" brands. For instance, Kellogg owns Morningstar Farms & Kashi, Dean owns Horizon Milk & White Wave/Silk (soy milk), General Mills owns Cascadian Farms & Muir Glen, Pepsi owns Naked Juice and Coca Cola owns Odwalla.

I try to buy local produce (except for the occasional mango or pineapple) and avoid products which are heavily processed or contain dubious additives. I've been eating like this most of my life and my habits were cemented after reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (plus seeing the film Food, Inc. and reading Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.) I was aware of some of the large-corporation connections shown in the chart above, but there were a number of eye-openers for me...

The rest of the Cornucopia Institute website is worth exploring, too. There's an "Organic Dairy Report and Scorecard", a "Soy Report & Scorecard", an article from the NY Times on Roundup-Resistant weeds and an article on the Supreme Court hearing of Monsanto v. Geertson (regarding Roundup-Ready/GMO contamination of standard alfalfa fields.)

I hope you might find the information available through The Cornucopia Institute as useful and as interesting as I do...


A Most Magical Website

A few weeks ago I discovered an amazing website. Maybe you've already seen it, but if you haven't, I highly recommend you hop on over and take a peek. The website is called The Toymaker and it's the online home of Marilyn Scott-Waters. She posts an enticing array of toys you can print out & easily assemble. There are also stories to read, greeting & holiday cards to print, etc... I love downloading free things from the internet (and Marilyn generously offers so much on her website for free) but I have also bought multiple copies of her book. It will be a perfect gift for all those summer birthdays coming up (or maybe for holiday gifts...)

This is our favorite toy so far...

These mice have large marbles inserted underneath which make them skitter and glide across the floor.

This toy is called a "Thaumatrope" or "turning wonder." On one side there is a drawing of a courtly gentleman, hand extended. On the other side, a lady offers a delicate curtsy. When the thaumatrope spins quickly it looks like the gentleman is holding the hand of the lady as she curtsies. There are 5 more thaumatropes in the book (& on the website,) each one more charming than the last!
We also had fun with this little wind-boat (note: our printer only prints black & white, but you can download it from the website in color.)

This afternoon, perhaps we'll build a Tooth Fairy Gazebo, a dream theater, a window to fairyland or Florimel the Magnificent's Puppet Theater. Thank you, Marilyn, for the magic and the fun!

Update from Marilyn: Her book The Toymaker is now out of print, however, she will have a book of holiday paper-toys available towards the end of the year and another book out in 2011 with *new* toys -- Hooray!!!