What's up in my neck of the 'hood.
Rambles, rants, recipes, raves, runons...
Thursday, September 11
Ok, I have the new site pretty much how I want it. There is still some tweaking to be done, but it's more or less finished.
You can visit me in my new home at www.fullbleed.net/redheaddread. If things don't look okay there, please let me know.
Oh, and I'm having a hard time moving the posts from this site to that one. If anyone can give me clearer instructions than the ones MT provides, I would really appreciate it.
RHD 1:24 PM | [link]
Thanks to Dru Blood, this blog will be moving to Full Bleed soon. No more Blogger drama for me. Yippee! Obviously, I won't be posting much as I'll be busy getting my new digs all comfy. Stay tuned for the new address.
RHD 10:29 AM | [link]
Saturday, September 6
Toddler mystery solved.
For weeks K-zilla's been walking around saying something that sounded remarkably like "disco." I couldn't figure it out. I mean I like Donna Summer as much as the next person, and if you wanna see me shake my groove thing just put on some "Funkytown," but it's not like I walk around talking about disco every day. If that was what she was saying, where did she pick it up?
Today the mystery has been solved. On ABC at 9 eastern (8 central), my current favorite Saturday morning cartoon comes on. Fillmore is basically a cop show set in X Middle School (I like to think it's X for Malcolm) where the officers are members of the school Safety Patrol instead of cops on the beat. Cornelius Fillmore is the star. His (goth) partner's name is Ingrid Third. His goldfish's name is Thelonius. I love this show. It is so witty and snarky and spoofs adult cop shows so prefectly, I can't help it. I watch nearly every week, rerun or no. My favorite thing about it? There is no white man in any real authority postion. They're all women, or kids of color, or both. I know it's up against Jackie Chan Adventures. I'm a big fan of that as well, but I flip to JCA on the commercials, I watch Fillmore.
This place is on grounds that all schools should have. The facilities are amazing. Yes, I know it's not real, but still. And the clubs they have! You name it, X Middle School has a club for it. I've told V. more than once, "I want to go to X Middle School."
So does this have to do with my kid's mystery pronouncement? It's Fillmore's catchphrase for when things go well. They find that piece of evidence they need to figure out who's kidnapped the school mascot? "Disco," says Fillmore. Ingrid's catchphrase is for when things don't go so well? Like when they had a little trouble catching the person who'd stolen all the books out of the (enormous) school library? "Crackers." Hmmmm.
K-zilla said it again just now, so clearly I couldn't be mistaken.
"What did you say?"
That's my girl.
Oh, and there hasn't been a better crime show themesong/opening montage combo since "Ironsides," and that's the truth. Saturday mornings at 9 (8 central), people. Don't sleep on my boy Cornelius. Or Ingrid, "the smartest kid in school."
RHD 7:32 PM | [link]
We sent in our application last week for the Amalgamated Housing. Please send us some "get a new apartment/home ownership" vibes.
It's not that I don't love it where we are. I really do, despite the old ladies who yell at us for not chasing K-zilla off the grass fast enough and for letting her draw with chalk on the walkways of the complex. It's a real community, which is sometimes hard to find in the big city. The rent is more than reasonable, it's convenient to public transportation and the highway, other than the lack of a korean deli, this neighborhood has great amenities. Which is probably why we're being priced out of it due to gentrification. This is the second time this has happened to us, and it's a common problem here in Manhattan. The complex we live in is owned by the same folks who own Stuyvesant Town, the apartment floor plans are identical and so on. Why? Well, because this was "the black Stuyvesant Town" back in the day when no black folks were allowed to live in Stuyvesant Town or Peter Cooper Village. This is true, despite the disbelief of certain privileged members of the younger generation when they hear it. My mom tells stories of getting chased off the grounds by the security guards when she would cut through there on her way home from school in the 50's. Of course it's integrated now, but for how long? In the last few years, Stuyvesant Town, long considered a key pillar in affordable middle class rental housing in Manhattan, closed their famous years-long waiting list, kicked everyone off it despite the protests, renovated the buildings and the grounds from top to bottom, and went to market rent. They now advertise as luxury apartments, and the rent on this exact same apartment only renovated and in a more desirable part of the city is about 3 times what we pay. If you go by now you'll see that there is a gated community in the heart of Manhattan. As a life-long New Yorker this really makes me angry. All the signs are pointing towards that as the future of this place as well, I think, though a good long way down the road.
We could stay and reap the rewards of "luxury apartment living," though even if they renovate up here I guarantee you it won't be as swanky as they made the apartments down there. Why don't we? Lots of reasons, but mainly because this is still just a rental, because of the herd of Young Urban Professional white men on cell phones I saw walking through the complex on their way to check out apartments while K-zilla was getting her play on earlier this summer (I guess it didn't suit them), because one of the signs of what's to come is that when I asked the office about transferring to a larger apartment the woman immediately answered, "We're not taking any internal transfers." Period. So we could stay, and raise our family in this apartment which is too small already, to say nothing of what happens whould we have another child. Or we could go and "realize the American Dream of home ownership" in a place where the community makes the decisions about what happens, where there is child care, where the community is really diverse, where my child isn't going to be woken up by rush hour traffic rolling down Fifth Avenue at 6:45 every morning (to say nothing of the particulate matter that collects on our window sills 8 stories up, from all those diesel engines. Yum). And did I mention that Van Cortlandt Park is right across the street from the Amalgamated? Oh yeah baby, don't say another word.
Light a candle or something for us, please. Okay?
RHD 2:27 PM | [link]
Friday, September 5
I love to bake. Whenever I find myself getting restless and anxious and wandering the house in antsy circles like I don't know what to do with myself, it's time to pick a recipe.
Cooking and baking are two different skill sets, though there is a fair amount of overlap. I know lots of people who are great cooks but can't bake, and a few who can bake but can't cook. Baking is about precision, usually, and a light touch. People who are good cooks, but don't bake are usually folks who cook by "vibration." They make it up as they go along, and most baked goods won't stand for that. It is rare to find someone who bakes by "vibration," who can just throw some ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, and have it be scrumptious. Me? I just know how to read and follow a recipe. I can make things up when I cook and I do enjoy doing that, but when that fuzzy restlessness comes on me, it's time to preheat the oven and start baking. There's something about following precise directions, in a particular order, and then licking the bowl that helps me zone out in a good way and regroup. And then of course, I get to eat whatever it was I made. Theraputic all around, no? I wonder what Atkins Diet people do when they have mental meltdowns? Make BLTs, hold the toast, maybe?
Today I made the carrot cake from Cooks' Illustrated, March & April 2003 issue for the first time. It's cooling now, and when I'm done writing this entry I'm going to make the cream cheese frosting (I usually don't bother frosting cakes) and then K-zilla and I will try it out. It smells very good. I suppose I ought to figure out what's for dinner as well, but if worse comes to worst, then we'll have cake.
RHD 5:31 PM | [link]
Thursday, September 4
National Do Not Call Registry
Oh yeah. Five years of peace, baby.
RHD 10:37 AM | [link]
I have been deep down in the bones exhausted ever since the weekend and my blogging, and more importantly my mothering, is suffering for it. Last night I realized that K-zilla and I are probably fighting off colds, and that's likely why we're exhausted, cranky, and one of us wants to nurse and cling every damn nanosecond she's not demanding to watch a video.
Of course we're out of echinacea (how did that happen? I thought I just bought some... a year ago. Ooops!), and there's no food to speak of in the house as the long holiday weekend has thrown off our usual routine. Time to regroup.
Oh, and does anyone know how long that Do Not Call registry for stopping telemarketers from calling the house just as your kid's about to fling her dinner across the room is supposed to last? Is it forever, or is there a time limit and you have to re-up after that? Because in the last two weeks all these spanish language telemarketers have started calling my house like I'm giving away free tickets to see their favorite sex symbol shimmy live on Sabado Gigante, and they're confused by the fact that my spanish ranges from piss poor to non-existent, and although my husband's last name is Latino (though he doesn't use the accent-- tsk tsk) he doesn't speak much all that much spanish either. Go figure. And while you're figuring, please stop calling me, dammit, I'm feeling whupped here.
RHD 10:24 AM | [link]
Tuesday, September 2
Hey, remember all my gushing and raving about Nalo Hopkinson? Of course you do. Well, who knew she had a blog? Well, now I do thanks to Uppity Negro. Yippee!
RHD 4:55 PM | [link]
Monday, September 1
Travelling with a two year old can really wipe a mama out. Later I will write about all our adventures this weekend, or maybe I won't, but mostly I just want to say two things, very quickly before I fall asleep.
Danielle and Julio: you are the very best. Thank you.
Sarah: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and many happy returns of the day! I've called and it's been busy so I'm assuming grand things are happening on your day. Mwah!
RHD 8:43 PM | [link]
Friday, August 29
If you're willing to suffer through the ad to get a day pass to Salon.com this article about books featuring black geeks is very good. I was drawn to the article as it refers to this book by E. L. Konisberg, which I read compulsively as a child.
RHD 2:46 PM | [link]
Mini Book Reviews for Small Fry! When she's not in full rampage, K-zilla loves to "read" and be read to, just like her mama and papa. You haven't lived until you've heard her version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Apparently it's a very looooong story of "circles," "new shoes," and various foods, some of which she's never seen in real life, but has memorized from hearing the story. Anyway, I know how hard it is to find quality kids books among the dreck, I hate paying $15 for a crappy book with crappy pictures as much as the next mama, and I feel certain of the "classics," both new and old, can really chafe a mindful parent's ass, so I thought I'd talk about some of K-zilla's favorites. Some are well-known, and some aren't (yet).
The first book K-zilla started "reading" along with was Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton. It's short, it's snappy, and it rhymes-- Bingo! Instant hit! She still shrieks out the animal noises as we read (this is not such a good bedtime book in this house, but you may find otherwise), and still refuses to say a word at the end when asked "What do you say?" Our version is a board book, which is good, because it's, um, well-loved. It comes in a spanish language version which I haven't actually seen, as well.
K-zilla learned all the noises that animals "say" long before she learned things like colors. She has priorities, after all. Books like Quick as a Cricket are always big hits as she loves to make all the animal noises, while we read text like, "I'm as quick as a cricket. I'm as slow as a snail. I'm as small as an ant. I'm as big as a whale." The pictures are nice, too. It's by the same folks that did The Napping House, but I prefer the Cricket book.
Owl Babies is an instant classic. It is much loved and the source of many dramatic readings around here (say it with me! "'I want my mommy,' said Bill"), because what could be more dramatic than the story of three young owls who wake up one night to find their mother gone, and while they're pretty sure she's out hunting for food, there's always that little kernel of doubt. Sarah is the brains of the operation, Percy's trying to follow Sara's lead, and Bill is just all about the mama love with no room for anything else. Bill Waddell, who wrote it, has teamed up with different illustrators to do other good ones like Farmer Duck with Helen Oxenbury, and The Pig in the Pond with Jill Barton. K-zilla has only read these books, we don't yet own them. The other Waddell book we own is Webster J. Duck. I'm sorry this link doesn't let you see any of the pictures because they're beautiful watercolors, and Webster is such a cutie as drawn by David Parkins. It's another tale of being separated from Mama, only this time Webster hatches while mama duck is out having a swim. He sets off to find her, and runs into other animals instead (yup, another one where K-zilla likes to make the noises). The recurring line in this book is "'You're not my mother,' Webster said. 'My mother would say,"Quack quack," like me.'"
People! Don't we read any books with people? Well, yes. Tar Beach is in heavy heavy rotation around here. I was surprised she was willing to sit still for the whole story given that she's just made two and we've been reading it for months, but there you go. Another long book meant for older kids she's really into is The Rainbabies, which she just got on Sunday, and has heard at least once every single day since. Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors is one everyone around here likes to read, and Pedrito's Day is another.
I'm running out of time, and I haven't even scratched the surface of her shelves. More later, including books I can't stand that are "children's classics," and the reasons why. But before I go, I have to mention the best kids' magazines. When I was a girl, there was only Cricket, and the cover said "Cricket: The Literary Magazine for Children." Now there's a whole family of magazines that take a kid from 6 months to the teen years, and I just saw they have videos and a book club too! The magazines are pricey but oh so worth it, so maybe if someone is looking for a gift for your kid you could mention these? Also, lots of libraries carry them so keep an eye out. We're talking quality stories from all over the world, long before diversity became a buzzword. I always read my issue cover to cover the day it came in the mail, and then went back and read it again more slowly over the course of the month. K-zilla's Babybugs are chewed on and taped up. I caught her standing and bouncing on one issue and finally realized she was trying to get inside the picture. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.
RHD 7:28 AM | [link]