Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

The Empire State in Red, White and Blue

We ran down to New York City on a bit of a whim for the long holiday weekend to hang out with our NYC peeps. Cousin Ana and her parents decided to come up on the train from DC, too, so we had all the ladies together!

They went right to sleep without any nonsense. Yeah, sure.

Hanging out at EGB's place

Fancy Ladies Who Brunch on the Upper West Side

Being Good at the Restaurant

Grilled Cheese and Wiki-sticks

Saturday was drizzly and chilly, but we braved the elements.

Headed up to the Hayden Planetarium and the Natural History Museum.

Urban Monkey

Headed back Downtown

Experts at Riding the Subway

Maggie's First Bubble!

Times Square

Mom and Kate

Life-sized X-wing Fighter made out of Legos!

We made a lot of wishes in a lot of fountains!

More Adventures on the Subway on Sunday

Kate's Big Feet

Maggie's Big Feet

Elizabeth's Big Feet! So Fun!
(Please stop putting your hands and faces all over the gross tile walls on the subway platform, Argh!)

We stopped by Amy's office for a potty break and a quick conference.

Pink and Purple Extravaganza in Columbus Circle

Central Park

Rock Climbing in the heart of New York City!

Another Sighting of the Urban Monkey

The Carousel in Central Park

Candy Land

Walking through Nolita looking for Gelato and Coffee

Gotta buy a Lucky Cat in Chinatown!

We had so much fun with all the cousins in New York! Life seems so quiet now.

**Because I always rely on the kindness of others, most of these photos were taken by my awesome Sister-in-law, Amy. Thanks for hosting and documenting our fantastic Fowler Family FunFest weekend!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Maggie Sez...

... Do you think this is the funny one or the adventurous one?

She said this to Mike when she was showing him a caterpillar that she found in the yard the other day. She and Kate actually found two caterpillars and put them in a little tub with leaves and sticks, as you do. Kate accidentally knocked the tub over and one of the caterpillars went rolling across the deck and disappeared down a crack between two boards. We decided that he must have been the funny one.

Maggie named the adventurous one Buddy. I like to think that the funny one who got away was named Lucky.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain

In the March 28, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone magazine's cover article on Mumford and Sons, bassist Ted Dwane was quoted saying, "We kind of are Okies at heart. I don't really know what an Okie is, but I feel like one."

Well Ted, I can tell you what it means to be an Okie. It means that you come into this world knowing that you're going to take a beating, so when life knocks you down, you just get right back up again.

Timothy Egan described the kind of people who settled the Oklahoma plains in his book on the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time. He wrote about people who had failed everywhere else, who couldn't be content or get along anywhere else, who were looking for their "last best chance" on the last American frontier at that time. They were a people who had nothing left to lose, who nonetheless were forced to stand by and watch as their last best chance dried up into dust and blew away. And yet they endured, watching the horizon for rain, full of hope.

Bob Dylan, acolyte of that good old Oklahoman, Woody Guthrie, got it just right when he wrote these words in his epic poem, "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie":

You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

As an Okie, Woody was the perfect person to bring that message of hope and endurance to a weary nation of people beaten down by depression, drought, and war. For all their faults, and they have many, Oklahomans may be best equipped to speak this truth to the world. Hard times are their strong suit.

This morning, Kate's teachers asked about my family in the wake of the enormous tornadoes that have ravaged Oklahoma in the last couple of days and dominated the news cycle all over the country. They asked me how anyone ever gets used to living under such a threat of this kind of deadly weather. How do people live in a place where total disaster strikes so rapidly and mercilessly? And how do they endure it when it happens again and again and again?

It's obvious that Okies are crazy, that's why.

They are crazy with determination. They are the Last Best Chancers. They have pioneer spirit. They are people who've seen the worst of it, who have taken a lickin' but still manage to get back up into fighting stance. They know there's always a wild possibility for rain or sun tomorrow, so don't pack it in just yet. Never let the world get you down for good. Never give up.

More tragedy. More hard times. Oklahomans took it on the chin, but they were back up on their feet before the sun even went down yesterday. They've already been hard at work all through the night, rescuing the living, mourning the dead, patching up the wounded, and cleaning up the mess. They won't stay down. They'll keep putting one foot in front of the other. That's what Okies do.

Hope and Endurance.

Woody Guthrie's "Dust Can't Kill Me"

The Pioneer Woman has a good list of places you can go to give assistance.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bag Lady

I got a new purse.

If this seems like non-news to you, then you probably don't know me in real life. I got a new purse. It's epic. This is it:

By Kipling USA via Zappos

OK, OK, Martha, it's really a bag and not a purse. Fine. I'm fine with that. And I definitely got rid of that stupid gorilla immediately (Maggie loves it). I get that the monkey is probably an indication that this purse bag is being marketed to preteens and not 40-year-old women, and I'm fine with that, too. It's a little smaller than what I'm used to, but it works. And, most importantly, it is an actual, legit purse bag. Aww, I'm growing up. (Sort of. There was a monkey on my purse bag.)

I see you scratching your head about this. Why am I writing an entire post about this perfectly normal, not particularly amazing purse bag? Well, because I haven't actually carried anything that so closely resembled a purse in more than a decade! Can you believe that?! Weird. I'm weird, I know. I'm fine with that, too.

I have carried a City Lights Bookstore book bag as a purse for the last fourteen years. Fourteen years.

Just like this one.

Back in the summer of 1999 (2000? Memory does not serve, that's how long it's been), I was (still, again) in college and my parents took me and my brother to San Francisco on a family vacation. We OF COURSE went to the City Lights Bookstore, and I bought what would become the first in a string of black canvas book bags.

City Lights was opened in 1953 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a beat poet and small publisher. He and the store gained huge fame in 1957 after the City Lights Publishers Pocket Poets Series published Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems and became embroiled in an obscenity case. The case was precedent-setting as Ferlinghetti was exonerated and the court decreed that any work with "the slightest redeeming social importance" should be protected under the First Amendment's free speech clause.

In the 50s, the Beats hung out at City Lights, and later, many of the primary characters of San Francisco's counterculture used the bookstore as a gathering place.

Bob Donlin, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lavigne, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1955.
Photo by Peter Orlovsky, c/o Allen Ginsberg's estate.

Beats and other artists at City Lights in 1965, jimmarshallphotographyllc.com

Robbie Roberston, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg at City Lights, 1965

When my purse was stolen from the university library and recovered in a nearby ditch, it was that City Lights bag (I was more glad to get the bag back than my wallet. The money and bank card were gone anyway). When I was a school teacher in Oklahoma, I carried that bag. When we moved to Boston - well maybe by then I was on the second, replacement bag after the first one faded and got holes in the bottom corners. When the girls were babies, I carried extra wipes and diapers and then extra pairs of underpants in the third replacement bag. When the straps broke from the abuse, I just used a safety pin to hold them together - so punk rock!

But the third bag has finally reached the point of looking like it belongs to a homeless person. It's been safety pinned twice and the holes are getting too big to hold in all the gum, loose change, and random hair barrettes in the bottom of my bag. It is, truly, beat.

Perhaps it's time to move on. I have grey hairs and children and a mortgage. I probably should at least have a bag with a zipper instead of a Velcro strip to close it. Maybe I'm fooling myself and my safety pin is more pitiful than punk. Can you be too old to be punk? I don't know, let's ask Iggy Pop. He, too, is looking pretty gnarly lately.

So, I got online and bought myself a purse bag. I have mixed feelings about it. But you know what? I'm not the only one. For Mothers' Day, Mike ordered me another City Lights book bag online. He says it's part of me and it just doesn't feel right for me to not have one, even if I don't carry it all the time. I think he's just glad I'm not the kind of woman who needs a closet full of pricey Coach bags. He says I can have all the Converse and book bags I want!

It's heaven to be married to someone who gets you.

Can I be anti-consumer culture and still want to buy this shirt?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I know I've already posted about this new Steve Martin/Edie Brickell album, but I've been listening and listening to it lately, and it's so good. Don't miss out.

PS - When we saw this performance on Dave Letterman, Dave came out like he does at the end to shake everyone's hand and he told the guy playing the wood block, "You are so much better than this!" It's too bad they cut that part off of this video. It was so funny!

Also, here they are again on Jimmy Fallon:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Turtle and the Baby

Our female cat, Turtle, has recently developed a very weird habit. Every few days or so, we hear her upstairs crying and crying in the girls' playroom, which used to be Kate's nursery. Later, we find that she has dragged out some old baby clothes that I kept for the girls' dolls and left the little sleepers on the landing or on the stairs or on the floor of my bedroom.

It's always the same couple of outfits that belonged the Maggie when she was a baby. When Mags was born, she weighed slightly less than five pounds because of my pre-eclampsia. Our moms had to run out and buy us some preemie sized sleepers for her since nothing else fit. After Kate was born weighing a more respectable six pounds six ounces and wearing regular newborn clothes, I marveled at how truly tiny those preemie outfits were. I decided to keep them when we passed down the rest of the baby clothes because,

1. who else would ever be able to wear them? (Hopefully, no one else we know will ever need them!)
2. the girls could (and now do) put them on their dolls.
3. I'm sentimental about them and all they stand for in my mind and in my memories.

But why is Turtle suddenly so obsessed with them? They aren't any softer or more alluringly textured than any of the other dress up or doll clothes that fill the playroom. In fact, there are other items up there with feathers or fake fur on them that you would think would appeal more to a cat. Nope, it's always these baby outfits. And she cries and cries over them, drags them around in her mouth, and leaves them for us in conspicuous places.

Does she think we misplaced our baby? Does her feeble cat brain remember that there once was a real baby that filled these itty bitty clothes? Does she wonder where that baby went? There's certainly no baby here now. Just some giant girls who run around like terrors, hollering and tap dancing and playing the harmonica. Does she miss her, that little crying baby? Is she worried about our missing baby? Is she accusing me of being a careless mother?

I don't know anything about cat psychology. Perhaps Dr. Amy, our friendly family cousin-vet can shed some light on this behavior. Or maybe we just have a crazy cat and no one will ever know what goes on in that little pea brain of hers.

But I like to think that Turtle knows that there was once a little baby who used to wear those clothes, and that she misses her. I miss her too sometimes. We two old gals, Turtle and I, just like to get those sleepers out now and then and reminisce.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


If you don't mind me blowing my own horn a bit... (and why do you come here if not to participate in my narcissism carnival?)

On May 23, 2012 (nearly one entire year ago), I wrote this post on this blog entitled, "Great Gatsby, that Art Deco looks hot!" It was about the Baz Luhrmann film remake of The Great Gatsby (which was in production then and finally opens this week) and my prediction that Art Deco was going to be the next Hot New Thing.

I'm here today to take my bow for being a trend-setting genius. Thank you, thank you! It's a gift. You all really should pay more attention to me. I'm always right. Ask Mike.

I assume you saw Justin Timberlake on the Grammys or Saturday Night Live?

Yes, yes. I know, the music is really just old school R&B. And music from the '20s isn't "Art Deco" anyway. It's ragtime. However, several of the songs on the film soundtrack (at the top) include some ragtime elements even if they're mainly pop or by pop artists. I have doubts that ragtime is really going to take off in any significant way, but Art Deco is already everywhere.

Evidence? Here you go:

Art Deco Wedding Invitations from Zazzle

Art Deco Wedding Cake from Martha Stewart

Art Deco Purse from Real Simple

Art Deco d├ęcor from Architectural Digest

Halle Berry in Art Deco Versace at the 2013 Oscars via NY Times

Art Deco EVERYTHING on Etsy (Missing Pieces Studio)

Anywho, my favorite song off the Gatsby soundtrack is, of course, "Love is Blindness" by Jack White (originally by U2, on Achtung Baby - one of the best albums ever). The original is obviously amazing, but this cover is blistering, I have to say.

And if you're looking for some real musical revivalism with a 1920s inspiration, look here:

So, yeah. You thought I didn't know what I was talking about, didn't you? You thought, "What does that girl in the Converse sneakers and mom jeans know about style?" You thought I was out of the loop. I'm just ahead of the curve, baby.

OK, OK. I'm done being ridiculously smug and insufferable. I'm more comfortable being awkward and clueless with bad taste in shoes, as you know. I wouldn't want to waste all my time predicting the future of trends in housewares design for y'all anyway. I have better things to do, Martha Stewart.