Monday, May 24, 2010

Rocket Men

So the tall boy and a couple of his pals worked last Friday on the big end-of-year physics project. See, they took the AP exam at the beginning of the month -- hoping to earn those swell college credits. And they really did work their butts off studying for it; they met every Sunday afternoon and called themselves "the Brain Trust." Vain, much?

This studying and taking practice tests and so forth is all very well and good, except that now that the AP exams are over, these boys -- who are seniors in high school, three weeks away from graduation -- are so flipping done with school. "Flipping" is not the word they would use, by the way.

So their physics teacher, who is nobody's fool, doesn't give them a final exam -- he gives them a final project. And because he knows high school kids very well, the project is pretty fun. This year they're building rockets which can be launched with compressed air. If you need more technical information than this, you have so stumbled upon the wrong blog! They did try to explain it to me, and here's what I heard: "It's easy if you keep in mind that blah blah tedious fact . . . zzzzzzzzz . . . Bernoulli effect."

I also feel I must report that some people in the group -- who are not the tall boy -- are taking this project more seriously than others in the group -- by which I mean the tall boy.

This one was quite the contributor, as well.

Basically he and the tall boy stood around gossiping and drinking my sodas, while idly commenting from time to time on the progress being made by the rest of the group . . .

. . . where group = this obsessed kid. I mean, really. The epoxy! The debate as to whether Krazee-Glu or Super Glue is a better product! The requirement that I scrounge up scissors and duct tape -- STAT! He was pretty into it for a Friday afternoon. I'm just saying.

But of course he also got all the glory when it came time to test the . . . something. Fins, maybe?

They weren't really launching the rocket -- that will happen at school with the teacher's nifty compressed air thingie. So the obsessed boy just flung it into the air over and over again -- and then fiddled with it some more, and then flung it one more time, and then called for Scotch tape.

The tall's boy's sole contribution to this project was to say (and I quote), "Dude. I think Scotch tape is a mistake." Over-ruled!

Check it out! [iPhone, baby!] --

The hi-jinks and capers around here on a Friday afternoon are just trend-setting, people . . .

. . . as you can tell by the fact that after the trial run, the three hipsters came inside for a rip-roaring game of Risk.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Books, books, books!

As we head into the weekend, I've got way too much to to -- and I would really just rather be reading.

So I thought I would show you what I'm reading right now instead of doing laundry. Check out the double meaning in the previous sentence!

The tall boy bought this book as a thank-you gift for one of his teachers -- and got one for me too! I'm enjoying it very much, in bits and pieces. Check out how much George V of Great Britain and Nicholas II of Russia looked alike! Here in the States we like to call this in-breeding.

This hilarious book is part of my family's collection of novels in the zombie/vampire/romantic comedy genre. [The teenaged urchins are preparing for the zombie apocalypse; apparently the best way to defeat them (the zombies, not the urchins) is with witty sarcasm.] A sample of this author's style: "Miss Tarabotti was a proper English young lady, aside from not having a soul and being half Italian." Now that's funny!

I love the way Kathleen Norris writes about her faith; she always makes me think. The Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace are among my favorites of her spiritual memoirs. This book is wonderful if somewhat convicting; she writes movingly about acedia, which might be described as spiritual laziness, except that the notion of laziness doesn't really capture how insidious acedia can be. Acedia, also called accidie and translated most compellingly as the Deadly Sin of Sloth, can eat into one's connection to God, as well as into one's emotional and physical relationships -- and is way more dangerous than zombies!

I am one of the few people on the planet who actually liked the movie version of this book, starring Kevin Costner -- but the movie did not do the book justice. Isn't that pretty much a universal truth? The book is always better than the movie. I would wear that on a t-shirt!

The Postman takes place in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and this genre of books pleases me.

What does this say about me, that I like to read about lonely wanderers in a devastated land? Troubling . . . . But I do love Stephen King's The Stand, Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, and oh have mercy, but the gorgeous and bleak The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

The title character of The Postman roams throughout the Pacific northwest, hoping to find a pocket of humanity that will take him in. When he happens upon an abandoned Postal Service truck, he acquires the uniform of a postman -- glad to have a warm coat. But when he is mistaken for a "real" postman, he inspires hope for a broken world.

Hope you and I both get a chance to curl up and read this weekend!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mazel Tov!

So the sunny girl and I went to a Bat Mitzvah this past weekend -- which was just about the coolest thing I've done this year. And I've done some pretty cool stuff!

There were just so many wonderful things about this day: I mean, really -- this collection of 13-year-old girls is so fabulous that I know you wish they were your god-daughters, babysitters, Girl Scouts, nieces . . . . There is not a dud in the bunch! This particular gaggle of girls are Girl Scout sisters, but there were also street sisters and B'nai Mitzvah sisters -- which I found out are girls who share the journey toward becoming a Bat Mitzvah -- a daughter of the commandments.

Basically there were just sisters everywhere -- which is weird because the Bat Mitzvah Girl is an only child. Just goes to show you . . . .

I have to tell you I almost passed out with joy when the rabbi asked anyone present at the Bat Mitzvah who had not encountered a Torah up close to come up onto the bima. People! Their gorgeous Torah was a work of art -- and the rabbi was so wonderful as she educated all the non-Jews about how a Torah is written (by hand; it takes a year); how it is constructed (sheaves of Kosher vellum are sewn together); and most moving of all -- the special significance of the Holocaust Torah that the Bat Mitzvah Girl would read her Torah Portion from. [This image is courtesy of, and is not a Holocaust Torah.]

I beg you -- please read here about Holocaust Torahs.

Well -- even though it would be too inappropriate to take pictures during the actual Shabbat services, please believe me when I report that the Bat Mitzvah Girl was brilliant, and that her parents are so proud of her, and her friends are so impressed with her . . . .

. . . and oh have mercy! but this family knows how to throw a party! Check it out!

As we arrived at the reception we didn't know that we had washed ashore on Candy Beach! I sat at the Starburst table -- which was fabulous because I have been known to make myself sick on orange Starbursts. [Each table started out with a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine, but ask me how fast I swiped an extra bottle of red wine from a boring soda-drinking table!]

The rabbi told us that the Bat Mitzvah Girl should receive "one hundred blessings" on her special day, and this huge eagle? falcon? hawk? blessed her with his presence for the duration of the reception.

The flustered feathers at the left of this photo belong to a very cranky bluejay, who kept dive-bombing the raptor -- who really could not have cared less about the jay.

The Bat Mitzvah Girl lit thirteen candles which represented thirteen blessings in her life; she honored family, friends, teachers, mentors -- her blessings -- by asking them to help her light each candle.

And then we danced . . .

. . . and danced . . .

. . . and danced. Here's the sunny girl and her street sister.

tangent: When you see this girl, just say, "Hey, munchkin! Pull my finger!"

And I am just so lucky, because I got to hang with one of my favorite families -- in from out of town for the Big Day . . .

. . . and I got to hang with these beauty queens. You have not had real fun until you have camped with these swingin' Girl Scout moms. Sometimes we even take our girls along.

It was just a wonderful day! And here's what I learned to say:

Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai
E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-o-lam,
she-cha-lak mei-chach-ma-to

Blessed are You, HaShem,
our G-d, King of the Universe,
who has apportioned from His knowledge
to those who revere Him.

-- a blessing to be said upon hearing an outstanding Torah scholar.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Tomato Follies: Here we go again!

So you remember my pathetic tomatoes from last year, right? This sad, sad picture was taken in August 2009, when my plant should have been groaning under the weight of all those warm, ripe, glowing red tomatoes.

People, I despaired.

But this weekend we planted a new crop of tomatoes and basil -- and I am ready to begin anew.

I may be delusional but I think I can already taste the perfect B.L.T. -- made with tomatoes from my own garden. Don't be a hater; it could happen!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Snapshot: a prized possession

The oldest girl gave this to me for Mother's Day when she was in fifth grade; she was five years old when the picture was taken -- and the star of the dance recital! She wrote the sweetest, funniest note on the back of the frame -- full of eloquent X's and O's. It's one of my treasures.

I do hope you all had a great Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Look how lovely!

So the tall boy and the lovely one went to the prom on Friday night, and the glamour of it all was overwhelming, as you can see.

People, look at the lovely one! Look at that dress! Gorgeous, I'm telling you.

She was literally glamorous right down to the tips of her toes.

Of course, so was the tall boy.

The photo shoot was scheduled over the protestations of the tall boy . . .

. . . who didn't realize that he would be photographed by parents, grandparents, neighbors --

-- and I think Annie Liebowitz was there briefly. It was quite the paparazzi extravaganza.

He rallied nicely . . .

. . . which was not difficult whenever he looked at the lovely one. I mean, gosh!

photo courtesy of Jolie Blonde

And just so you know, the prom night glamour is contagious around here -- check out Coleen's tall boy and his dark-haired beauty. And dig her rockin' shoes!