1. Did I post about how my mom flew up for Eliza’s tenth birthday and we went to New York together to do stuff Eliza likes and how we went to see the Lion King because one thing you must absolutely do with your life is take Eliza to see the Lion King because she loves that show and watching her watch it is genuinely better than puppies and rainbows?
Well, we did that and then some, and it was pretty awesome. We saw Manhattanhenge, we had Belgian waffles, we stood around Times Square because Eliza loves the visual overload of the place. I think the noise outside quiets her brain inside. We had dinner at Grand Central before we took the train home and she had some sort of classy cheeseburger and I will NEVER be too cool to be awed by the grandeur of that place.
2. Related: I saw this XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1053/ and it made a huge impression because I realized that this is exactly the way I feel about showing my kids stuff. It has inspired me to try to be less of a snobby asshole about people who are not my children who don’t know stuff I think everyone already knows. It’s a work in progress.
3. I made refrigerator pickles with the organic cucumber and garlic scapes we picked up at the farm. This was a much less fraught adventure than last year’s canned salsa fiesta because I know I will probably not give anyone botulism. Except now we have a giant vat of pickles getting in the way of everything in the fridge. It is, however, a very picturesque giant vat. Behold the giant vat and the two smaller vats we have already eaten, with artisanal floral arrangement:
4. State of the Weaponry at Elizasmanor
We went to a Renaissance fair and tried on armor and shot bows and arrows, and Eliza bought a crossbow. She is only allowed to shoot it outside, and she is only allowed to use mini-marshmallows as artillery.
Meanwhile, karate has been more Buster Keaton-esque than usual because the dojo leader issued an edict that we black belts were all going to check out different weapons and pick a new thing to get comfortable with. We are all expected to be competent with the bo (staff) and sai (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle short stabby sword/dagger thingies), and he wanted us to be at least minimally competent on something else as well. So we all took turns trying Nunchaku (nunchucks), kama (tiny scythes), and tonfa (like police clubs).
I have detailed my nunchaku foibles here in the past; last year, tired of head wounds and bruises, I said %^&* this for a game of soldiers and quit working with them. I tried the kama and they were cool but terrifying — one wrong move and oops, severed limbs! It did give me an unexpected insight into what it might be like to be a deinonychus, which was cool, but not ultimately a solid basis for further study/maiming.
I landed on tonfa because I love bo and sai and the movement philosophy bethind them seemed like it took elements of both. They seemed like something I could do with some competence and a minimum of maiming. I am excited to study them further.
My favorite aspect of this whole summer of new weaponry, though, is that while the final choices seem fairly evenly divided between the three new weapons, to a one, every black belt I talked to about their choice said they picked it “because I would be least likely to injure myself with it.”
5. We went to Texas and my sister and I went to see The Man From UNCLE.
The following positive comments should not be assumed to mean that I thought it was an actual *good* movie, just that I could care less. Here is a bulleted list of the good things about it:
- Henry Cavill in a suit, looking like Matt Bomer’s somewhat more buff cousin.
- Alicia Vikander, who basically played a ferociously angry, subversive kitten
- The outfits
- Elizabeth Debicki, who played the villainess
- Elizabeth Debicki’s eyeliner, which was definitely a character
- I’m pretty sure Armie Hammer played the uptight girl and Henry Cavill played the dashing wise-cracking gent in a meet-cute
- The soundtrack, which had an awesome jazz flute-y sort of hipster-60s sound. This one is my favorite:
6. The state of music at Elizasmanor
I fell down a Sinead O’Connor rabbit hole. Translation: I have spent a few days hollering along to Troy. Have you recently hollered along to Troy? I recommend it. That song is still pretty much balls-out crazy in all the right ways. It does not show its age, or should I say, it wears its age well.
I played it for Eliza. She looked at me and said. “I do not understand what’s going on here. I am on board with this.”
So then I bought her a bunch of 1980s and 1990s lady-music including Throwing Muses’ Bright Yellow Gun, on the suspicion that a fan of Metric would recognize them as antecedents. I was correct.
She is getting hip to the quiet verse/loud chorus thing, and the bolero song structure. I keep playing her stuff that starts soft and she’s all, Eh not interested, and then I tell her to wait a minute and then the screaming starts and she says, Ohhhhhh, OK, I need that one after all.
7. Eliza started school yesterday. She is a fifth grader, how does that happen? She is still pretty much composed of elbows. We have had a tussle about school lunch because she does not like it when the protein (yogurt, cold cuts, cheese) part of her lunch gets to room temperature, except for peanut butter but her school has a no nuts policy. Apparently we have compromised on jerky. My child is bringing beef jerky to school for lunch.
8. The short one is still failing thoroughly to sleep in her own bed. But she is REALLY good at labelling things with her name, such as the tiny toothpaste tube she got form the dentist.
9. When we went to Texas I got nice shoes
but Lucy’s were better, because they have Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle on them, with little ears:
To be worn ONLY with the Elsa socks. For God’s sake do not offer her the Anna socks, they don’t go, you goddamn rube.
10. This is a cute, silly little guy Eliza drew. I like how his eyeballs go off in two directions.
11. Both girls, but Eliza in particular, spent the summer trying new things. Lucy learned to swim with a life vest, while Eliza conquered body-surfing and body-boarding at the ocean, throwing herself at the waves with abandon. She took a photography camp, she went ziplining, she tried a bunch of roller coasters, she went ponding with such enthusiasm at her camp that she lost a shoe in the muck. (I think she thought I’d be mad, but I had kind of already written off that pair and couldn’t help but laugh.) Her hair is bleached and her skin is rosy. She looks like a kid who spent the balance of summer outdoors.
12. I ran a half-marathon. Poorly, but good enough for government work, considering I’d been laid up for 3 weeks with a bad back. Anyway, it was number 5 so I got another piercing. I am aiming to perforate my ears thoroughly, but I have to space it out so I make myself achieve a thing for each new hole. Then I also ran that race with the ridiculous hill, somewhat less poorly. The best part of running has been the time it affords me to think of new and outrageous ways to pay tribute to Mad Max. I worked out a whole Mad Max on Martha’s Vineyard cosplay in my head while running there.
13. We ended the summer on an ignominious note because Moe managed to pick up fleas on one of her breaks from freedom, and now I know that when dealing with fleas you must give no quarter. Jim admitted to me at one point, after we had bombed the house — with much angst about the pilot light — that he had a moment of hoping he had turned off the pilot light wrong and had blown up the house because it would be easier. We were on the same page, frankly. Nothing like tiny glistening crawly things scuttling about on your cats’ nethers to make you re-evaluate all you hold dear. But so, we bombed the house, and had the cats outside in their carriers so they wouldn’t get poisoned. They did not enjoy it and registered their displeasure with a fun combo of tipping over the waters we had given them, peeing on themselves, and pooping in the crates. Then I had to extricate them from said cesspool and bathe them in flea shampoo, after which I gave them pills and put flea collars on them. It was among the grosser evenings of my life, and amazingly, our cats still allow me near them; I figured I’d given them trust issues for life. I even gave them follow-up pills the other night. The fleas are all but gone, thank god, and the stragglers are executed with extreme prejudice. Moe has still not figured out why her plaintive meows to go outside are met with hollow laughter.