Monday, June 27, 2011

the mikado

I've known that this play was coming up.  I'd been listening to Mr. Tailor rehearse his lines and sing his songs from his bedroom for about a month now.  The grueling schedule of tech was finally over and opening night had arrived.  And although I have seen Mr. Tailor perform in a dozen plays over the last three years, I was unprepared for the young man I saw onstage this night.

The Mikado is a story of a young man named Nanki-Poo, who is the son of the emperor of Japan.  Nanki-Poo runs away from home when he discovers that he is betrothed to an elderly woman- Katisha.  Rather than live in a loveless and utterly repulsive marriage, he abandons his royal birth and masquerades as a traveling musician, whereupon he meets and falls in love with the girl of his dreams- Yum-Yum.  The plot deepens when Nanki-Poo discovers that Yum-Yum is also betrothed to another man whom she does not love.  Oh... what to do? What to do?

Well, suicide.  That's what.  After all, this is a story that involves the Japanese emperor- and the Japanese love their tragedies. Nanki-Poo, being the young, passionate man that he is, considers this his only option until he is given another alternative- which carries out  the remainder of the play.

The play was beautiful. The choreography was absolutely lovely.  And the dialogue was full of humor which the actors expertly carried out.  I found myself being swept away by a myriad of emotions.
For one, I was completely torn by Nanki-Poo's dilemma.  So young and trapped, his future is bleak.  Where was the ray of hope?  I kept trying to think of how he was going to get out of his predicament so that he could have his "happy ever after", but I couldn't see it coming.  I really couldn't.
Then my motherly instinct kicked in when I saw Mr. Tailor hold up his knife and threaten to kill himself.  I just couldn't bear it.  Silly, I know.  But you can bet that I felt compelled to let Mr. Tailor know after the play was over, when he asked for my opinion, that I was so happy to see that things worked out in the end.  I further had to explain to him that I felt that the moral of this story was that in life, no matter how hopeless our situation might appear at the moment, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  I had to really make that very clear to him. Looking at me like I must be crazy, he let me know that he understood.

Then there was that kissing part.  I know it was only on the cheek, but it looked so real.  Mr. Tailor said that after the show was over, some of the cast members asked about the "gasp" they had heard from the audience when Mr. Tailor, acting as Nanki-Poo, kissed Yum-Yum.  I'm sure it wasn't me.  Really- it was probably the other mother in the audience watching her daughter being kissed by my son.
Although I couldn't convince Mr. Tailor otherwise.

And finally, that voice.  Where did it come from?  When did Mr. Tailor learn how to sing?  It had to have been only within the last couple of days, right?  Nevertheless, I was completely blown away.  You know that pride that a mom experiences when she sees her child do something that everyone knows is great?  Well, I saw my son do something great this night and I knew that I couldn't take an ounce of credit.  I won't even try.  But I'll tell you one thing- I felt honored to get his hug afterwards.
photo taken by Craft Queen

My oh my... how the time does fly.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

caught in the act

She's gone.
Finally, after a month or two of watching this diligent song sparrow feed her babies in the window above our backdoor, the babies and mama have flown away.
Mr. Hero and I really got a kick out of watching her.  In the beginning, she'd watch and wait until we left the porch, before daring to feed her hungry hatchlings.  It was quite humorous to see this little mama push us around as she did.  She'd sit on the garden fence or the nearby butterfly bush, with a worm in her mouth and impatiently yell at us with her distinctive chimp calls until we removed ourselves from her territory. 

As the days went by, she became a bit more courageous and would hop from the same butterfly bush to the house and then scurry quickly- ever watching us- up to the nest.  
This time I caught her in the act.

Here is her nest.  One of the babies didn't make it.  But the egg coloring allowed me to identify her.  It was a toss up between the chipping sparrow and the song sparrow. 

Happy summer.
* update: 3/2/2013
The little mystery bird is clearly a Carolina Wren.  The brown feathers, white streak across the eye, curved beak and the raised tail are clear markers. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

working it out

We bought a fireplace insert a couple of years ago in order to keep our 80-year-old home toasty warm during the frosty PA winters.  What I didn't realize at the time was the amount of work and discipline this decision would bring-for the boys, that is.

Sure, Mr. Hero and I give them a hand with the stacking, but for the most part, the winter job of bringing the wood inside the house and getting all those fires started is left to Mr. Tailor and Mr. Reporter- which I'm sure they loathe.

Yet, there is some good bonding that takes place as we all work together to get the job done.  Today, for instance, Wes, our firewood delivery guy, brought over 2 cords of wood.  You should have seen the truckload- all 850 pieces of it (he told me that he decided to count it as he loaded the truck- just out of curiosity).

So, we are all out back working and loading the wheel barrow up with wood from the gargantuan pile in the middle of the alley, when I hear this question from Mr. Tailor:

Mr. T: Mom, is (Mr. Reporter) going to be staying at a brothel for his NYC trip?
Me: What?
Mr. T: Will (Mr. Reporter) be staying at a brothel for his NYC trip?
Me: No, honey.  He'll be staying at a hostel- a YOUTH HOSTEL. A brothel is a whorehouse.
Mr. T: Oh. Turning several shades of red.

And it didn't help when Mr. Hero had to pipe in and say with a twinkle in his eye...
"Well, at least the bed would be warm."


Saturday, June 11, 2011


Right about the time school is ready to let out, these gifts of summer are offered to little frazzled children walking along the well-worn foot path from school.   Found above their heads, in a tree no less, the berries are sweet and only last for a few weeks before they are gone.

I wonder if Ralph Waldo Emerson drew upon his own childhood recollections when he wrote this beloved poem, over a century ago.  


"May be true what I had heard,
Earth's a howling wilderness
Truculent with fraud and force,"
Said I, strolling through the pastures,
And along the riverside.
Caught among the blackberry vines,
Feeding on the Ethiops sweet,
Pleasant fancies overtook me:
I said, "What influence me preferred
Elect to dreams thus beautiful?"
The vines replied, "And didst thou deem
no wisdom to our berries went?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

woman's work

This morning I spent a good chunk of my time cleaning up our house - picking up clothes, shoes, toys, dishes, trash, and other odds and ends- all before breakfast and my morning tea.  As I'd go from room to room, finding mess after mess, I began to wonder, why am I the only one who seems to care about whether or not we live in a pig sty or not?   The most frustrating thing about all of this was that the house had been cleaned  just yesterday.  This mess was an accumulation of only 1 day's worth of laziness- all because the members of my family weren't vigilant about putting "ever thing in it's place" (we never really have been).  Consequently, the delegating began as I told all the boys to clean their rooms.  In desperation, I let them know that if they didn't clean their room, that I would refuse to buy any groceries until they did.  Mr. Hero just laughed and said that that was the way to scare them- use the old "hunger pain" tactic to get the job done.  What Mr. Hero didn't know was that secretly I was dead serious about this threat.  (Well, at least a little bit).

small mountain of laundry needing to be folded before I go to bed

Why is it that I seem to have this "clean freak" gene hard-wired into my brain?  Is it because I'm a woman?  I've talked to my sisters about this as well as a lot of my female friends and they seem to go through the same thing.  All experience frustrations that their homes aren't clean enough and that they can't seem to keep up with the never ending workload.

And it's not just about the housework.  It's the child rearing, too.  Even though the US Dept. of Labor shows that 59.2 percent of U.S. women ages 16 and over are currently working, it appears that the primary responsibility of rearing children still lies squarely on the woman's shoulders.  It has to do with the whole primitive nurturing concept which states that because men's primary hormone is testosterone- which makes men more aggressive and more inclined to pursue sex, that women make for better caretakers of their children.  This philosophy has actually been debunked as studies have shown that as a man marries and goes through the process of pregnancy with his wife, his testosterone levels actually decrease! Men experiencing nausea and weight gain throughout his wife's pregnancy is actually quite common.  You can learn more about this phenomenon from this fascinating article here.

I am reminded of a discussion I had the other day with a friend of mine who is seriously thinking about moving to a shared living community.  Her husband is opposed to the idea (not enthusiastic about losing his autonomy) and I wanted to know what would draw her to this type of lifestyle.  Her response was that she wanted to be able to pursue her interests but in order to do that, she needed help with the child care and housework.  So then I asked her if the dynamics were different, if her husband was more involved with the tedium of raising the children as well as doing the housework-ie laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc, would  her draw to a shared living community be just as intense?  Her response was surprisingly, an emphatic no.


The bottom line is that child rearing and maintaining a household is a lot of work and with the likelihood that both spouses will be in the workforce nowadays, it really doesn't make sense anymore for the woman to shoulder the majority of this workload on her own.  How much happier both spouses would be if the work was shared together.  If the couple was in tune to each others needs and strove to meet them.  I bet that female depression among married women would shrink considerably (which by the way, Utah, in 2007, was ranked highest for female depression- a state where there is a high Mormon population and the Mormon women are expected to hold the traditional role of primary nurturer and caretaker in the home).

What do you think?  I'd especially like to receive feedback from my male readers out there.

* as a side note: I'd just like to make it clear that Mr. Hero definitely does his fair share of work with the home as well as child rearing- especially since I started going back to school a year ago.  But this hasn't alleviated any of my guilt for some reason.  Maybe it's because I'm a stay at home mom?  Which leads me to my other point that even stay at home moms or dads really need to have their work taken seriously as well.  I remember a couple of years ago, a study was done to see what the salary of a stay at home parent would be if their "service" were to come with a price tag attached to it.   The "salary" was over $100,000 a year.  So I guess I'm just saying that I really shouldn't be feeling guilty if I take that extra "me" time to regroup.  However, trying to convince my psyche, is another matter altogether.

Friday, June 3, 2011

sunflower house

I needed help with my garden this year.  I was kind of at a loss for what to grow. So I headed over to our local Davis garden center and spoke with Gary who gave me some ideas.  He has grandchildren of his own now and shared with me that when he and his wife had young children at home, they would take one of their garden plots and turn it into a sunflower house for their children.  He explained that all you need is a few packets of sunflower seeds- 1 packet of 10-12 ft sunflowers and 1 packet of 4-5 ft sunflowers.  Plant the 10-12 footers on 2 sides opposite from each other, then wait until they are tall enough to tie together in the center to form a roof. The 4-5 foot sunflowers will form a nice wall for the other two sides.

Here is a picture of the sunflowers beginning to grow.  I"ll keep you updated with the progress...

The space between the bricks marks the entrance to the house.  

Along with sunflowers, we have cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, a watermelon, cilantro, and one volunteer green pea growing in our garden.  Not very large this year, but with the addition of our Joshua Farm, CSA, we should have lots of organic produce coming our way. 

This fall, I think I'll be freezing the tomatoes and bells, and be making a bunch of pickles with the cucumbers.  How about you?  What veggies will get your hands dirty this summer?