January 30: Scarves

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yes, indeed, I skipped a day of the blog. The flu got me. But now I am better and was able to do a low-stress, low-effort craft: making imperfect, crooked, matching felt scarves for the kids. J. helped me decorate them with pompoms, using one of our favorite tools, the glue gun.


J’s scarf (note the toothless grin — his first lost tooth)


O’s, simpler, scarf, with pompoms where she can’t reach them. And the funny face made by J. of course (though he initially complained about helping with the project — who can resist a glue gun, right?)



January 28: Angry birds map

January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Well, the little kid is healthy again, but he didn’t want to leave the house at all today, so we had to entertain him. I convinced him to make a map of space angry birds (his latest obsession). After all, what’s better than butcher paper, markers, and tempera paint? I participated in the coloring part, and had some good laughs with him. I hope to encourage him to keep making maps. It’s great for the imagination. (Have you read You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination?)


January 27: Flu, monsters, and hummus

January 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

J. was sick today and spent the day in bed. To prevent him from playing Angry Birds the entire time, I convinced him we should make a few paper monsters. As these monsters are proliferating around the house,


I also decided that I have been eating too many processed foods lately. I notice this as O. is eating solid food now, and is especially interested in eating what I am eating, which makes me more aware of choices which are not appropriate for her. So this morning, not realizing that J. was going to be sick all day, I embarked on making cottage cheese and hummus. Cheese I have written about before here, but the hummus turned out much better than usual.


(note that I have already been dipping into it — with falafels, no less)

I believe the secret of my hummus success is that I cooked the chickpeas yesterday and put them in the fridge overnight. I used the water the chickpeas cooked in, which was also cold and viscous. This made the hummus smooth and yummy!

I have also  been playing with some poetry. Of course I would get  my creative juices flowing ten days before returning to work.

(Tom Waits is still keeping me company as the kids are finally asleep and D. away. What an exhausting day!)

January 26: Papertoy monsters

January 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Have you ever seen this book


and wondered if you should buy it for your 4.5-year old? My advice is don’t do it! We bought it last year and J. got into tearing out all the templates and losing pieces. As I am very particular about things not getting destroyed (I fix J’s Lego sets at least once a week), I just couldn’t take it, so I put the book in the basement, where it disappeared into the mysterious chaos of D’s basement kingdom, and was never seen again.

Now that J. is almost six, I was buying a birthday gift for a 1-year-old today and came across this book again. I couldn’t resist it as I love to waste money I don’t have, and also because I found this book tremendously fun last year.

The kids fell asleep in the car on the way home from a dinner with family, and D. is in his basement kingdom watching movies and I, I am listening to Tom Waits and building little monsters.


What can I say? There are worse ways to spend one’s time than listening to Blue Valentines and building Octopup.

January 25: card for my honey

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s D’s birthday tomorrow. My modest offering to him is a little card I made, including an origami star with a secret message inside.


I am a sucker for star and heart stickers, so I went a little overboard with stars tonight. They take me back to my preteen years, which for me is always a good thing. I am also a sucker for secret compartments and hidden messages, which is why the star was so fun to make.

Since we were already making origami, J. and I made a fortune teller too. D’s fortune was to stay at home, which he did.




January 24: eco building

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Do you know those corn building toys? You dip them in a little water and they connect to each other. Our version is called Enviro Blox and tonight I found them in the back of a drawer and pulled out for some relaxing fun.

J. built:


an angry bird and angry pig,

and I made


what I would like to think is a cherry tree in bloom. J. added a baby bird on top.

Okay, so we won’t win any awards, but it sure beats playing Angry Birds (J.) and Sudoku (me) on separate computers. Plus, it’s biodegradable.

January 23: a chicken poem

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

I insist that this is a hopeful poem, though the one person who has read it before thinks otherwise.

It’s nice to revive and revise these old poems, but I think that I am cheating, in that I am not creating anything new. Too much running around pretending to be doing important things makes one tired  at the end of the day, too tired to think up something new and lovely to create.

THIS is a today’s chicken
hatched at dawn
It is the cross between worry dolls and hot water bottles:
place on cold feet to remove unease
but no more than five at a time.
The only difference from dolls:
if you tread on it
if you catch it between your nightmares and legs
if you

– its tiny drops of blood –

Dolls don’t bleed.

In the Voodoo tradition and elsewhere
poultry is sacrificed, never revived
we cannot bring it back to life
for you
if you don’t love it.

But if you do
what it could do for you
if you (contrary to instructions) place it on your heart
a warm cuddly chick
imagine the possibilities
what it could melt

I present it to you for protection
an uneasy gift.


January 22: postcards

January 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Better late than never, no? I need to write some postcards from our trip  tonight. I believe in the lost art of writing postcards and letters. No photos though, as I am just about to start: I will take the postcards to my warm bed, with a cup of tea, and write the night away… or fall asleep before I begin. Which will it be?

January 21: bottle cap magnets

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

It is fortunate that one of our family members really likes beer, because tonight we used the bottle caps he has been saving for us, and made magnets. J. and I were quite prolific, while D. made only one, though certainly more impressive, piece. I hope Syracuse Cultural Workers will forgive me for using pictures from their catalog. I encourage everyone who reads this blog to buy from them the buttons and magnets whose pictures I used to make my magnets.


January 20: No relation to Charles

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yesterday someone asked me if I was related to the poet Charles Simic (we share countries of origin and last names). Alas, I said, we are not related. But I am always so happy when someone asks me that question, because it is a meeting of two poetry lovers in a world where reading poetry is becoming rare.

Today we returned from our trip and I am tired. Still, one ought to be creative in some way.

So I remembered a manuscript I wrote years ago, titled “No relation to Charles.” It really has nothing to do with him, but here are parts of it anyway. And if you haven’t already, do read some Charles Simic.


August 2004

In the notebook from my insomniac first year as a feminist in training, I found these words: “We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospect”. For a brief instant I hoped that the words were mine, that I was clever enough and wise enough to write them. But I am no quote-maker. In that moment, though, I was the queen of the postmodern world, in which the boundaries between “they said” and “I said” were obliterated. The notebook also contained the following, which I am certain is all mine, though I have no recollection of writing it. Ah, insomnia, how I miss the cracked mind it created…

Skinner & his duck(s)
(streamlined version, 2004)
He woke up shivering, before sunrise – it was not the glove-wearing deep-breath-taking weather – it was no ordinary frost. His goodwill froze when he awoke, that’s how cold it was. And the last duck in his flock refused to perform the tests. Morality comes in six easy steps. All you need to do is follow them, and you will be saved. Saved!, I tell you. As to what the steps are that I cannot tell. It is for you to discover.

– It may or may not have anything to do with burning fake animal fat in lamps, in northern lands, to keep (moderately) warm;
– It may or may not have anything to do with not performing tests on rats and kittens;
– rabbits hacking from snuff, choking on smoke induced, low-flying cumulonimbuses;
– chickens wearing lip-gloss, resembling humans as much as chickens can (frightening).

Skinner wakes up, puts on a bathrobe, and stumbles into the kitchen, his ducks on his trail. He is their proud mother. The littlest ducks call him mother in their primeval minds; his was the face they saw when they first hatched. He looks nothing like a concerned mother, but how would they know? Birth is such a shocking experience – it deletes the data intrinsic to the brain, a human child would fare no better, not recognizing the home she was preparing for. He writes in his study. Science points fingers at him: -He is the man- while he pats the ducklings’ heads, never confusing them with the tale, feeds them until they gag and lets them sleep in his shoe. At the same time, only much later, El Niño raids the Pacific, making men hysterical and women cold, and ducks too fat to fly. Too fat. El Niño throws fish at their feet and they eat until they gag. Unlike young girls, ducks can’t induce vomiting, instead, albeit blissful, they, ducks, are irreversibly tied to the ground. Somehow always shortchanged.


E.G. fanclub
Oftentimes, E.G and H.G.(Wells) would sit in his time machine, legs crossed, sipping coffee or moonshine, depending on the mood, and discussing free love (if you want to raise eyebrows in an otherwise open-minded, gregarious society, try this topic sometime). When they were particularly playful, they would smoke long, thin cigars. He would try to sell her on socialism, unsuccessfully, but in the end they would always heartily laugh. Once the time machine was set in motion, they would place bets regarding the following questions:
– Which would prevail: socialism or anarchism?
– Which would be the first anarchist society? Who would be the first to discard the vote?
– When would class warfare end?
– When would artists become respectable in their lifetime, no longer appropriated by the system only after they are dead?
We have heard that in many cases Emma won. But that is just a rumor, and in fact, oftentimes they both emerged from the contraption weeping. On one occasion only, she returned blushing exceedingly, saying “I never though the fringe would make me into a superstar in the 21st century…” Wearing her T-shirts and forming seemingly invisible liaisons across the world: the Emma Goldman fanclub.


A visualization exercise
We concede that leaving home is a many-tiered task and we will make no attempts to convince you that it is the only, or even the best way to go about solving your problems. No, we offer you many fine alternatives; but if you happen to opt for the pilgrim walk (our personal favorite) out of your current life after all, let us just say that a pilgrimage is capable of circumnavigating games, genes and family, all at once. Surely they have often treated you like a bowling pin, and by now you may feel like one. If so, it is comforting to think of outside influences on your pilgrimage (these will include, but will not be limited to rain, sharp stones in your shoes, heavy luggage, impure water, bottled water, family curses 80 years old) as heavy shiny balls with three holes for fingers that can break your every bone and then rebuild you in the likeness of deities of old.


What happened to women allergic to wheat and strawberries before food labels and warnings? How many died of walnut excess? Isn’t it strange? Just as anorexia, at least as old as fanaticism (and while we were savages nobody was fat) lurked unnamed for centuries, so too, the mysterious romantic deaths of heroines could have been caused by something as trite as lactose intolerance. Life can be lactose intolerance at times. As Saul Bellow didn’t say but wanted to, nobody dies of a broken heart any more.

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