Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tintin.com is a favorite site. According to the bio there, Tintin and Milou will be 80 years old next year, as the renowned reporter and his sidekick dog, Milou set out on their first adventure to Russia on January 10, 1929. Their adventures have been translated into more than 80 languages.
Here's a secret: Tall Husband looks like Tintin, especially in the morning when he first gets out of bed with his hair sticking up into that Tintin point in the middle of his head. So adorable!
See also: store.tintin.com
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Polymer Photogravuer on Reves BFK, hand colored in the plate; Artist: Dan Mitchell Allison
Acrylic on board by Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz
Acrylic on Canvas by Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz
Acrylic on board by Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz
Above are some works that we have collected, photographed in situ at The Bunny Bungalow. They are by Texas artists Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz and Dan Mitchell Allison. I have been collecting Dan Mitchell Allison's pieces since college. As a wedding gift, I gave Tall Husband a piece by Dan. Linda's work is a more recent discovery. We both are blown away by her medieval take on modern themes.
My advice on collecting is to train your eye: go to museums; study all styles of art in art books; visit museums and galleries on line; get on the mailing lists of local galleries and attend the shows. Oh, and be careful about that free wine at gallery openings. Mixing booze and art can be like going to a pick-up bar: the more you drink, the better it looks.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A Battery-Powered Candle from Walgreens
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Photo by NVO, from Wikipedia. Permission granted to copy, distribute and/or modify under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.
Photos of this weird, wonderful Moscow house, designed by architect Sergei Tkachenko, have been in my clipping collection since late last year and I can't stop dreaming of it. Tkachenko was reportedly and obviously inspired by Faberge eggs. According to the International Herald Tribune, the house was on the market for around $10 million. That price tag seems staggering until you hear that a Russian by the name of Alexander Ivanov paid $17.7 million for a much smaller egg, a gold and pink enamel Faberge egg, once owned by the Rothchilds. Alexander, you can't even eat the egg you bought, much less live in it. You should have bought the house!
There's still hope: my daughter and her family live in Moscow. Son-in-law, could you ask your lawfirm for a raise so you could buy this house and invite me to visit? I know eggzactly how we could design the interior.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Last month my highschool graduating class had it's umpteenth reunion. Though I didn't muster the courage to go to this one, I couldn't help reminiscing about the tenth-year reunion. Though I had not kept up with any classmates, I drove from Nebraska to Texas with two small children to attend. Who knows why?
Early in the evening a man with a pretty young woman in tow, made a dramatic entrance and headed straight for me. The eyes of everyone in the room were on us. "You don't know who I am do you?" he demanded loudly. He was right. I had no idea who he was or why he was so angry. He blurted out his name and began to inform the entire gathering of my transgression. "I invited you to the prom our senior year. Can you even imagine the courage that took for a shy, fat boy? I had talked it over with my dad and he said that if you were as sweet and kind as I said you were, you would see past my weight and see the inner me. But no, you were rude. You just looked insulted and blurted out no. I was so crushed but I decided right then that I would show you. I lost weight and went to school to be a hairdresser. I own a string of salons across the country now. I'm filthy rich!"
"Billie," I said, "I didn't turn you down because of your weight. I couldn't go to the prom with you because I couldn't dance and I was ashamed of it. I still can't dance."
According to the class website, Billie is deceased. I would like to think there is a heaven so that Billie can be there dancing with all the girls.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I began collecting linens as though I were a mad woman. "But they have to be laundered and ironed," you whine. "Duh!" I answer. This is where the therapy comes in.
There is an insightful scene in a Cheech and Chong movie. Cheech is waiting for a date to arrive at his house, however, she stands him up. He handles the disappointment by grabbing his iron and ironing baskets of laundered things.
Take it from me, this is an effective way to face life's heartbreaks. For example, husband number two, whom I now refer to as S.H. (you go figure), was late arriving home one night. I grabbed my iron and a basket of linen napkins and began ironing. Through all that steam and dozens of napkins later, life became clear. It was obvious that husband number two was cheating, not working late as he claimed and as I wanted to believe, but cheating. My course of action was also clear. So when S.H. waltzed in at 2:00 A.M., saw the stacks of napkins and asked, "How's it going, Cheech?" he was out on the street pronto, doors locked behind him, papers from my lawyer in the morning.
So you see, if it weren't for linen napkins, I may never have met Tall Husband.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This image or file is a work of a U.S. Airforce, Airman or employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. Federal Government, the image or file is in the public domain.
We were stationed on the U S Army post in Grafenwoehr, Germany. I was pregnant with my son and my daughter, Cindy, was a precocious three-year-old. That morning, I was doing dishes at the kitchen sink, watching her from the window. I turned to put a dish away and when I looked back toward the playground, I realized I had been watching the wrong little red jacket. I was outside in a flash and saw Cindy running toward me from the nearby woods.
"Annie*," she said in her dramatic little voice, "come help me dig my bomb out of the ground."
"Is this another pretend story?," I asked. After all, she was known around post by the nickname Sarah Heartburn for all her dramatic monologues which were only loosely based on truth.
In the woods she led me to a heavily shaded area and sure enough, there was a half buried WW II bomb, of a US variety. It looked to be about a hundred pounder with a distinctive fin protruding from the dirt. Cindy's excavation tools were close by; a stick and a large rock. I gulped as I noted the fresh scratches on the bomb. I convinced her that Daddy would be the better person to dig out her bomb and we returned to our quarters (military talk for apartment.)
Out of her earshot, I telephoned her father. He sounded very disinterested and said he would have a look when he came home for lunch. When he arrived home, he insisted on eating lunch before having a look at the bomb. He ate so slowly that I wanted to shovel food into him myself. Then he insisted on second servings; more tea; dessert; brushing his teeth; on and on. Finally he agreed to go.
When we arrived in the woods, the bomb had disappeared. The earth had been smoothed over and Cindy's tools were gone. "There's no bomb here," he said in a tone of voice one uses with a pathetic person given to hallucinations.
"Where is my bomb?, Cindy demanded of him. "I want my bomb back."
After her father returned to work, Cindy and I paid a call on Pat, the wife of the ordnance officer. Pat was fuming. It seems that her husband, Jack, never came home for lunch and didn't bother to call. I didn't mention the bomb, but I realized that Jack and his team had secretly gone into the woods by the back road and removed the bomb. "So let the boys have their little secrets," I thought to myself.
The next afternoon while Cindy and I were visiting with neighbors, there was a distant explosion. The building shook, our coffee cups rattled and we were all wide eyed. But not Cindy, "They blew up my bomb," she shouted angrily and began to tell all who were present about the theft of her bomb. The Army would have few secrets with Sarah Heartburn around.
*Cindy refused to call me Mom, "because that's not your name."
Monday, May 19, 2008
Room, written and directed by Kyle Henry
Warning, don't watch this movie. It may rearrange your neural pathways.
Saturday night at the Bunny Bungalow, Tall Husband and I viewed the video of the movie, Room, starring Cyndi Williams. I can't believe we watched the whole thing. I guess it was kind of like road kill. It's the worst movie we have ever seen. It was filmed right here in Houston. Now everyone knows Houston isn't Paris but the director and cinematographer (here I use these two words out of kindness) fixated on our warts. If I wanted to see ugly neighborhoods I know where to go. Speaking of ugly, if I wanted to see real people, I could just hop in my old bemer and drive to Lufkin, Texas to visit my cousin Edna and her crew in their double wide. What's wrong with a little Hollywood glamour? Speaking of glamour, if I wanted to see a fat girl make out, I could like just look over at the mirror on my closet door any night. And did I mention the cheesy special effects? Well, every time Fat Girl (Leading Lady) had a spell, we had to watch five minutes of what looked like snow on an old analog television. And the movie had no climax, well except for Fat Girl in that grungy motel room. She never found the room she kept seeing in all that T.V. snow and we never learned what was causing her spells. So don't make room for Room in your viewing schedule.
Image of Television "snow" is from Wikipedia and is used by permission of common license. Photographer is Mysid.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
I wondered how I could ever forget such wonderful bits of my life. As a therapist, I often worked with patients/clients on memory improvement. After all, I had a memory like the man in A.R. Luria's book, The Mind of A Mnemonist. Much to the chagrin of my former husband, whom I now refer to as S.H., I never forgot anything. Tell me a story and your story will trigger two dozen stories related to your topic. Mention a conversation and I can recall what everyone said and what they were wearing. For some odd reason, even the emotionality connected with each memory is not diminished. When I recall an episode, the joy or anger engendered by the original episode comes rushing back full strength. I remember the newborn faces of each of my children, as though there are digital images in my head. With those memories, I am flooded with the same emotions as when I first held them. I can smell them; that wonderful mixture of aromas with which your own babies fill your nostrils. I remember the entire scene at the cafe where Tall Husband first touched me. How did he know to gently touch the nape of my neck? I never forget.
So, you can imagine my dismay when I found a small piece of crumpled paper in my desk drawer at home. It was my handwriting alright. When did I write the words, One piece of time? And why? Slowly, I recalled the entire scene surrounding that piece of paper. I had been on the telephone talking with my daughter who lived in Paris with her husband and my small grandson, Alexander. She was telling me that Alexander had begun telling her bedtime stories. His stories were based on the ones she had told him, except he began his with, One piece of time..., instead of the customary, Once upon a time. I recalled how profound his twist of the phrase seemed to me; how he got it that a story or life can turn on a dime; that it's the small moments that change the world. I had written it down so that I could tease my friend about following her advice. And then I had forgotten Alexander's profound phrase. It would have been lost forever if I had not written it down. I shuddered to think what other pieces of my history I had lost.
So write it down, even if you have the pathological memory of Dr. Luria's Mr. S. in The Mind of A Mnemonist.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
In every country I have traveled to, the first question I am asked is, "Where are you from?" When I answer, "Texas," the next question is often, "Does every Texan have a gun?" The truth is, this Texan does.
Years ago in another life, before Tall Husband, I was the wife of a U.S. Army officer and was often alone with two small children. This story began one night when we were living in Columbus, Georgia near Fort Benning. I was awakened by the smell of cigarette smoke in the house. I was terrified as I quietly checked on my sleeping children. I realized the smoke must be coming from the basement. The next morning, police found cigarette butts in the basement. They informed me that there were no signs of forced entry and that the intruder had ripped out the exterior light at the basement door. The police could never catch the smoker. Changing locks, replacing lights, later getting a dog, nothing deterred this guy.
After sleepless nights of laying awake smelling cigarettes, I relented to friends' insistence that I have a gun. It was agreed that my best friend's husband, Major G would select a gun and train me. He was responsible for training army personnel to handle weapons and headed a team of men who traveled the world giving exhibitions. I had seen Major G, at an exhibition, fire a pistol at an ax that had a playing card affixed on either side. The bullet split in two and hit the center of each card.
Not only did Major G train me to fire the gun, he taught me to speed load so that I did not have a loaded gun in the house with my children. The gun and bullets were kept in different locations. (The children were never told about the gun.) We rearranged my bedroom so that I had a vantage point where I was not immediately visible to an intruder walking into the bedroom. From that vantage point, I was to squat with the weapon pointed downward, identify the person as a stranger, then aim for the middle of the chest and shoot to kill. No holding at gunpoint, no conversation, no warnings. Other preparations: leave the hall light on so that the intruder's eyes would have to adjust to the darkness of the next room he entered. Never yell out, "who's there?" You give your location away by doing so. Never go through the house looking for an intruder, let him come to you. Watch shadows, be very quiet, smell the air and listen.
One night, after hearing my dog's aborted bark from the basement, I sat for three hours in my vantage spot, smelling cigarette smoke wafting up from the basement and wondering why Coco wasn't making a sound. At daybreak, I ventured into the basement and found my dog unresponsive. After examining Coco, my veterinarian said the dog had been shot with a tranquilizer.
The following night a neighbor called to tell me someone was parked on the corner, watching my house and smoking. After I telephoned the police, I went to a dark window with army binoculars. He was alone, looked to be thirty something and continued to smoke his cigarette. When the search light of the police car illuminated the interior of his car I could see he was not a person known to me. He showed the two police officers something, as they approached. They cut their lights and continued to speak with him. He remained in the car and then for some unexplained reason their conversation turned casual. While I could not hear their words, I could hear the casual tone and their laughter. Then the smoker drove away. After the police officers rang my doorbell, they assured me that I was safe and that the disturbance was caused by two teenagers who were "necking." One officer went so far as to say that he knew the boy's dad and would have a talk with him.
I looked the officer in the eye and said, "Tell him I have gun and I am trained to use it."
The smoker never returned after that night. I heard some years later that Major G was recruited by Interpol. The children are grown. I still watch shadows, listen and smell the air.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
From Annie of The Bunny Bungalow
Makes about 36 Madeleines
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
17 tablespoons butter* (two sticks of butter plus a tablespoon)
Grated rind of one lemon
Several drops of fresh lemon juice
Two teaspoons vanilla (If you can find colorless, pure Mexican vanilla, your Madeleines just might channel Proust.)
Powdered sugar for sprinkling after baking
A natural, no-stick cooking spray for the Madeleine pans
Lightly whisk three eggs (save the other for a later step). Then slowly stir sugar and flour and salt into eggs. While the batter rests, melt the butter, bringing to a gentle boil and letting it brown ever so lightly. Let butter cool, whisk remaining egg then slowly add the egg and cooled butter to the batter. Now add the grated lemon rind, lemon juice and vanilla with a large spoon.
Place the batter into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator (or if you are more patient than I, you can stir over ice until batter is cold and thickened.) When the batter is cold and very thick, drop by generous tablespoons into the Madeleine pans that have been sprayed with the cooking spray. Do not spread the dough out, as the batter should look like little balls in each cup of the pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 to 15 minutes until Madeleines are lightly browned around the edges and slightly pulling away from the pan.
Tap to unmold Madeleines onto a rack and let cool with shell pattern side up. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.
*Never use a butter substitute or I will personally force you to read all seven volumes of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Tall Husband proposed to me in Paris but we were later married in Texas on one of those stormy Houston days with all the streets flooding. I was in the ladies' room at the office when there was frantic pounding at the door.
"Just a moment!" I said tersely.
Then came a male voice, "Hurry, don't you want to get married?"
I shot back, "Yes, who is it?"
Tall Husband, I really did know it was you.
Monday, May 12, 2008
There is so much to running a home and I think managing media in the home is one of the most difficult responsibilities, especially if you have children at home. The above photo is of our media center at Bunny Bungalow. The little flat screen is usually in a closet, as we have chosen to have no cable at the Bungalow and view only a couple of videos on the weekend. As a speech therapist, I recommend no screen time for children under three who have developmental delays and media in moderation for all others. The following sites offer excellent, research-based advice on in-home media for your family.
The British Medical Journal
Center for Screen-time Awareness
American Academy of Pediatrics
National Institutes of Health
Sunday, May 11, 2008
When I arrived home that morning, twenty years ago, I put my car in park, left the engine running and stepped in front of the car to open the garage door. I heard the car's engine rev and turned to check out the cause. The car crushed me against the garage door and continued to shove me through the wood and glass. No maneuvering could free me. I was hopelessly trapped between the moving vehicle and the garage door. I instantly knew that this was how I would die. I felt a pang of sorrow with the sudden realization that Tall Husband would be the one to find me. With that realization, I found my scream. I screamed with all my strength until I saw Mr. C running down the drive toward me, still clutching his mailbag. He dropped the bag, jumped into the car and backed it away from me. He steadied me on my feet as I clung to him, thanking him repeatedly.
After my injuries were looked after in the emergency room, Tall Husband drove me home. The next day I wondered how I could ever thank a person who had saved my life. Where do you even begin? For starters, I wrote a letter to the postmaster, relating how I would be dead (or worse) if Mr. C had not been there. Mr. C later told me how all postal carriers from his postal station were called in for an urgent meeting. He said they thought there was going to be a layoff but instead the postmaster was there and began to read a letter to them, my letter. It took Mr C a few seconds to realize the letter was about him. Later, Mr. C came by to show me the plaque that had been presented to him at a banquet. He had been awarded the Federal Employee of the Year, Heroic Act, 1988. As the weeks passed and I worked toward recovery from my injuries, I realized that a way to repay Mr. C would be to live a worthwhile life dedicated to him. I returned to being a speech therapist, working in honor of Mr. C. Because of him, hundreds of adults and children have received excellent therapy; because of him, my grandchildren know their grandmother; because of him Tall Husband didn't have to find me on the garage floor.
Thank you again Mr. C.
Strange note concerning the photo:
The above photo is a scan of one of the photos taken for the insurance company. All of the photos appeared normal when picked up a week after they were developed; however, this one photo, and none of the others, developed a red discoloration on the garage floor within hours of having been picked up from the photo shop.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The other day, Tall Husband was reading a blog draft of mine when he found that I had used a wrong word: were instead of wear. He immediately designated my grammatical blunder a typonym. There are other slang words he has sprung on me or concocted but, as I did not select adult content when I signed on for Blogger, I best not mention those.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Translated from the French by Jeremy Leggatt
By publishing standards, this is an old book. I bought the English version ten years ago after reading its review in Elle magazine. I've read this story numerous times, as have many of my friends who are also therapists. Jean-Dominique Bauby, the French Elle editor, wrote this after suffering from a rare brainstem stroke (rare because he survived for a time). The stroke left him immobile, without speech and only able to communicate by blinking his left eye. This is a poignant testament to his amazing mind. That Bauby wrote this magical book is of itself a wonder, as he composed his story by blinking his eye to utilize a communication system devised by his speech therapist. Who could guess that a person in Bauby's situation would make us all fall in love with life again?
Bauby died two days after the French publication of his book.
Bauby's story was made into a movie by director/painter Julian Schnabel. It is now on DVD.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Hey dude, have you had your folic acid today? Yes, you man! It's been generally known that folic acid may reduce a woman's chance of having a baby with a brain or spinal cord defect and that folic acid should be taken prior to conception and during pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health, new research suggests this nutrient also increases sperm health and may prevent birth defects. So make sure those little tads are healthy before you do the bunny hop.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Susan Plum's Paintings at Redbud Gallery (below)
Kelly Alison's Work at G Gallery (below)
Chris Hedrick at Nauhaus (below)
Gus Kopriva (red shirt) with art patrons at his Redbud Gallery (below)
There is a tradition in the Heights called First Saturday. This monthly event offers a festive way to go gallery hopping, shopping, etc. while sampling free drinks, food and live music in the historic downtown and along the East 11th Art Corridor. Tall Husband and I usually walk to everything but there are free trolley rides. Last Saturday night, Tall Husband and I hit the Galleries: First we popped into Gus Kopriva's Redbud Gallery to see Susan Plum's show, "Knots-Nudos," then next door to Wayne Gilbert's G Gallery to view Kelly Alison's "Blood Money" exhibit. Across the street, is Dan Mitchell Allison's Gallery Nauhaus with Chris Hedrick's show, "Objects." It's not unusual for a show to be almost sold out before the opening night for these galleries. Tall Husband knows to get to the galleries early the day they are hanging the exhibitions and "buy some red dots" before opening night.
If you miss out on an art piece that you wish you had bought, Nancy Smith is your go-to person for sourcing a particular artist's work. You can contact her through Gallery Nauhaus.