Friday, August 17, 2007

Subversive toile

After sitting through an incredibly dull Medieval Lit class on the Pastoral in grad school, I'm finding my latest craft project mighty satisfying.

Brian asked me to sew a dust cover for our keyboard and I couldn't think of anything that wasn't deadly dull, or too flashy, or something I'd get sick of after a week or two of living with it. But then I saw the toile creations on the blog Historically Inaccurate and knew there was the answer. At first glance this looks totally normal, if a bit twee for my taste:
but then you get a little closer...
and see that the piper is blowing bubbles
and the little dog is smoking a pipe.

It has been a while since I've done embroidery and I've had to pull out a few tangles, but it is coming back to me. I'm loving contemplating these pastoral scenes and figuring out how to corrupt them. My favorite so far is the viper lady (click on her for an up close view of her yellow eyes and forked tongue!):

I can't embroider while watching a movie on TV or reading, like I can with knitting, and the keyboard cover is pretty big so it'll be a work in progress for a while. But I'm getting pretty hooked on this craft and might have to make myself some matching pillows for the couch.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why did it take me so long....?

I've been kind of pissy in a half hearted way at my local NPR station for dropping the show Selected Shorts from their line up. Not pissy enough to stop supporting them--especially since a friend of mine is a reporter there and I like to think of my $100 going into her paycheck--but I feel a recurring grumpiness on the weekends when they play Car Talk for the 3rd time.

Selected Shorts is an hour long show where actors read short stories--some brand new, some classics--live before an audience at Symphony Space in NYC. The story selection and the actors who read them are all top notch and before WUOM dropped it, I discovered a number of new authors through this medium.

I'm a little slow here, but it just occurred to me this week that I could see if the show is podcast and it is! Now I can listen to Selected Shorts whenever I get a little break from the small people. Tuesday was a frustrating day of parenting by the end of which I decided that the kids would be better off with a three headed dog as their mother; in fact I think I resembled a three headed dog what with all the barking I'd been doing, but if I really was a three headed dog maybe they wouldn't have ignored all my barking all the damn day long. So I ditched the kids with Brian, put on my MP3 player and went for a long walk while listening to this line up:

James Thurber, “The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery,” read by Isaiah Sheffer
Collected in: James Thurber: Writings and Drawings (Library of America, Volume 90)
Fairy tale, “Tritill, Litill and the Birds,” read by Daniel Gerroll
Collected in: The Crimson Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang (Dover)
Edith Nesbit, “Melisande,” read by Christina Pickles
Published as: Melisande (Candlewick Press)

By the time "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery" was over I was in a different mood entirely--I'd like to see anyone listen to this story and not crack a smile. Once I started smiling I started feeling human again and after an hour of walking and listening, I was able to head back home and actually look on my kids with affection rather than frustration. Isn't that transformative power what good fiction is all about?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Summer tea and toxins

I crave iced tea in the summer far more often than I actually consume it.

Iced tea requires a little forethought--time to brew the tea and then let it cool and an appropriate container in which to store the cooled tea. I'm not so good at that planning ahead stuff but I could probably get my act together if I had the appropriate container available. My big teapot is a gorgeous Wedgewood Blue Willow wedding gift that would get smashed to pieces by the small people if I left it in the fridge.

After much searching for a sturdy yet not hideous container, I found this:
The Frigoverre 1 L glass pitcher containing concentrated iced jasmine tea.

I love this thing. And I love that it was made in Italy and yet only costs $7.50. I'm making the tea super strong so it lasts a while. When I want some, I pour about half a glass, add some ice cubes and then fill the rest of the glass up with water.

What with all the recalls of Chinese products out there, I'm a little paranoid about what I'm buying these days, especially if it will store food. I also bought the 2 L pitcher which I use for the kids orange or grape juice so I won't have to worry about crazy chemicals or lead leaching into their beverages. My kids are weird enough (charming! charmingly weird!); god only knows what a little industrial poisoning would do to them.

We also got rid of all our Nalgene bottles after discovering that they are made with a plastic that leaches Bisphenol A into the water. Don't you love it? Containers that are specifically made as water bottles with nice endocrine disruptors! My kids have been drinking from these for the past few years which probably explains a lot...but now we have replaced all the Nalgene with a combination of stainless steel Klean Kanteen and coated aluminum Sigg water bottles (which, if you aren't picky about the design on the outside of the bottle, you can often get on sale at the REI Outlet.)

I know this is just one step and we'll still be getting Bispheol A from other sources, but at least this is one relatively easy way to reduce our intake.