Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dancing with Cinderella

For ten seconds of the wedding I attended this weekend, I was jealous of the wedding photographer. It was late, the dance floor was emptying out, and the bride and groom were beginning to say their goodbyes.

On one corner of the floor, in perfect tableau, were three dads dancing with their little girls.

One was just a baby, swaying and rocking in her father's arms as her eyelids began to droop. One, maybe three years old, was doing a quiet two-step, holding her father's hands and bouncing a little when the mood hit her, content to keep her feet on the ground. The other, maybe five or six, was leaping into the air on the strength of her father's arms, twirling and spinning with pure abandon.

This took place just a few hours after a beautiful father-daughter dance to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella." The whole thing was like a time-lapse photography sequence of dads and their little girls.

It was exquisite.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Broken Glass and Knobby Cloth

"My shop burned down this week. But..."

This from an elderly man who had just shown me a black-and-white photograph in a frame with cracked glass, displaying an old-fashioned weaver's loom that had belonged to his mother, and on which he had learned to weave as a boy.

I was at a local farmer's market and had stopped to run a finger over the assortment of brightly colored woven rugs which, he told me, were made from rejected drapery/other material ("seconds").

Unless I can afford to buy, I tend not to linger for long at any one booth. Mainly because I get the uncomfortable feeling that I'm raising the seller's expectations of a sale. But this time I was curious.

He showed me the little knobs on some of the rugs from the sewn toes of woolen socks. He pulled out a few rugs to show how a flaw in the colors of the original fabric had turned into a beautiful pattern in his rugs. He told me about the woodworking he did on the side, and showed me the woven-wood seat of the chair he'd been sitting on.

He told me that he'd been weaving for 30 years, since his retirement. That he'd first learned from his mother. That there were so many unhappy people, and this was what he wanted to do. He took a craftsman's pride in the array of colors and patterns he had designed.

And then he said, "My shop burned down this week. But..."

But he was still there. Still expressing a love for what he did. A joy in what he had created and what he could share with passersby, like me, who took a moment to stop and listen.

His rugs were lovely, and I'm hoping to get one eventually, but even more than that, listening to his story reminded me how many times fear of what people will think or assume causes me to miss out on something precious or fail to honor something beautiful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's the Little Things

Sometimes all it takes is the successful prevention of a ginormous black snake from eating an adorable tiny bunny.

Allow me to illustrate.

(bunny) [BUSH] (snake)




(bunny) <------- [B0USH] ->(snake)

(Also known as the expansion and transformation of an isosceles triangle into a scalene triangle.)

(Better known as) Not on my watch, Mr. Racer. Not on my watch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Use Your Words, New England

Although the precise moment at which one leaves "the south" and enters "the north" is far from definitive, one thing is certain: it's a long drive getting there.

Road trips are always an adventure, and spending more than 10 hours in the car in a single day is bound to add humor to otherwise mundane elements of life. For example, road signs in New England are a fascinating study.

As I road-tripped (not to be confused with the act of stumbling over uneven pavement, a verb which I have never personally enacted) to Boston last weekend, we stopped for gas somewhere in western New York. The Food/Gas/Lodging signs did not indicate, until you had merged onto a concrete-bordered, no-turns-for-three miles side road, that the gas station indicated on the sign was, in fact, three miles off the interstate.

In the meantime, we wound through a wooded, quaint community with a church and a hodge podge of businesses. Standard fare. What was not so typical were the back-to-back yellow warning signs proclaiming, "Falling Rocks Zone" and "Deaf Children Area."

First thought: the community did an incredibly poor job surveying the road-crossing area before building a school for the deaf.

Lest this be seen as an anomaly, Boston took the signage to a whole new level with:



Deaf Children

And we say grammar, punctuation, and enunciation don't matter...

But Boston was quick to redeem itself for its grammatical ambiguities via another set of signs found at the Haymarket farmers' market: strawberries, 2 quarts/$1; peaches, 8/$1. Just around the corner at a small festival, the plethora of signs reading Free Samples didn't hurt either.

Good job, Boston.

If all signage fails, like the long stretches of roads in Pennsylvania that detail excessive speeding penalties without ever telling the speed limit, the clouds can always be counted on to provide distraction, interpretive material, and the laughter which, when combined with coffee, makes road trips so much fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The Book Thief (Zusak): beautiful, brilliant book. Read it.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Be a Woman

Ever since I watched Nine a few weeks ago (and aided and abetted by the fact that I've been periodically listening to the soundtrack since then), several of the songs have taken turns getting stuck in my head: Fergie's 'Be Italian' and Nicole Kidman's 'A Very Unusual Way' are vying for top pick.

And in a very unusual way, thoughts of this movie, with its complex commentary on the roles defined for women, keep intersecting with thoughts of Ultimate Frisbee.

I told you, it's unusual.

Being a woman who enjoys playing sports and is competitive comes with a few complications. I enjoy being a respected part of a co-rec team and treated as an equal when my performance merits. I also appreciate recognition that I am a woman (*news flash!*).

This is where it gets tricky. To play sports well does not make one masculine, and, no matter how socially accepted the phrase has become, it is not a compliment to say, "You don't play like a girl," or "We don't think of you as a girl."

Here's the thing: "You play well" or "you're more aggressive than most girls who play recreational sports" delivers a similar message, but leaves out the association that feminine = 'not good at sports' and masculine = 'good at sports.' The same statement could apply to any number of other designations limited in popular imagination to either men or women.

Drat. Now I'm sounding like a feminist, aren't I? Well, maybe I am. With qualification.

"Feminist" is a word that has taken on epic and negative connotations, some deserved, some not. I like to think that it is possible to be a respecter of persons--seeking equality, not a flip-flop that places women on top, and encouraging mindfulness with the words and phrases that reinforce stereotypes and create unnecessary contradictions like,
  • I am a woman.
  • I am competitive/brainy/independent.
  • Women are not competitive/brainy/independent;
  • therefore, I must choose one part of my identity and discard the other.
To be honest, I think more people would acknowledge this syllogism to be false than take the effort to avoid language that reinforces it. It's a challenge for women as well as men.

To be fair, it is also a challenge to cultivate both an independent, tough, competitive (fine, aggressive) side and a relational, gentle, refined side, and I have a tendency to neglect one or the other; however, it's a challenge, not an impossibility, and I hope one day the most natural words of commendation on a sports field, or in other settings now dubbed "masculine" or "feminine", will reflect this fact.

Go team!