Friday, February 29, 2008

Walking away....now.


Wave Goodbye
Originally uploaded by pattycakemelting
I just made the decision to end a relationship with a working-moms social-networking group on meetup.com. It was bittersweet because I actually fought pretty hard to get into the group. They advertised themselves as being pretty exclusive, so I had to write a bio, send several emails, and pay a small fee to join.

After having been to a handful of their gatherings, I found that I really didn't connect with them; maybe they already had well-established relationships between each other, I don't know. Honestly, it's hard to connect when you have to keep wrenching your kids out from underneath stacks of teetering chairs where they're playing hide&go-seek. And the dog-thing, too. Everybody had dogs in their houses or wanted to bring dogs along; I'm allergic and Rosie is phobic, so that just was a bad match. (I do heart Hank & Tina though!! Or, actually, what I heart the most is that the Os are very considerate of my/Rosie's quirks and don't insist that we just need to get over it because their dog is "friendly.")

The other thing that killed it was the distances. DC is sprawling, and Fairfax County is the sprawling-est. All the locations were within FxCo, but many took over an hour to get to, and I'm just not doing that on a weekend, unless it's GUARANTEED fun. With peeps that I love.

That makes a big difference; I do love my friends and adore hanging out with them. I will focus on my pals that are nearer and dearer to my heart. While extending my network is not a terrible idea in theory, it was disappointing. They came around with a request to renew the fee, and it was just not worth it.

Goodbye to you, meetup.com ladies, have fun.

Happy 12th!

When you're talking about love, you can never have too many disembodied hands. Or flowers. Or serenading. Or little birdies carrying yr love-notes.

Wishing you lovebirds a happy anniversary, and cheers to many more! We hope to be hanging out wit'yall for all of 'em.

Yr pals, the Strings
:-*

Thursday, February 28, 2008

St. Patrick's Day? Already?

That is my response every year, usually on the Sunday after Alexandria's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. They typically have the parade two weeks before the holiday, and usually on the chilliest day of the season. This year, it's Saturday March 1st, two days from today. It's too dang cold and gray to be thinking of shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef, wearing green, and Guinness, don't you think?

My family is Irish-American (making me 75% Irish), so we do celebrate the holiday a few weeks from now on March 17th or thereabouts. We gather at my parents' house, have the annual viewing of The Quiet Man, then there's plenty of corned beef with mashed taters and white wine (sometimes there's Guinness, but that's not our drink of choice). Even so, Alexandria's celebratory parade typically passes unnoticed by me. Today for some reason, AJS mentioned St. Pat's Day on our drive in, so, when I arrived at work, I checked for details. Here they are:

"The City of Alexandria and Ballyshaners will host the 27th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday, March 1, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in celebration of Irish-American heritage. The parade begins at King and West Streets and follows a route down King Street, past the reviewing stand at North Royal Street, and ends at the corner of King and Fairfax Streets. The parade is expected to conclude by 2:30 p.m. The Grand Marshal for the 2008 Parade will be His Excellency, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, MD."

For more specifics visit the Ballyshaners' site. There is also a car show and a dog show; my mom reminded me that Old Town is a doggy town, and there will likely be many leashed friends in attendance.

My favorite part of these parades, or the part that I pine most about missing, is watching the Irish dancing schools! There are some really good ones in the area. Rosie loves to see their dresses (I not-so-secretly plan to enroll her in an Irish dance school someday).

So, St. Patrick's Day parade. This Saturday. Anyone interested?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Visit with Bookhart

Hey everyone! This afternoon, I hung out with a lovely blogging mom, Bookhart, from Austin who happened to be in DC for a conference today. We spent a fun hour+ in Dupont circle, made a driving tour through Adams Morgan, then did a little shopping at Secondi, Teaism, and Ginza. It really felt like playing hooky, despite that I had gone in early and already put my 8 hrs in by the time we met.

The pic above is my souvenir from our outing, as I was too wowed by Bookhart's darling personality and charm to get out my cameraphone. These little origami sheets want to be made into earrings! They are calling me. Look for them in my etsy shop soon, like within the next two weeks.

Thanks for meeting up with me, Bookhart! I will totally look you and your beautiful family up next time I'm in the Austin vicinity. And please, check in with us if you head back this way.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

French fries @ the bowling alley

More Strings multimedia today than in months!

Thea O, Rosie, & Dash all enjoy bowling-alley french fries (oh so deliciously crunchy) while AJS & Todd O bowl in the background. Kelly O was minding Liam while the staff took forever to pour our pitcher. We got lots of bowling in! The kids really did most of it while I had some practice aiming at their dead balls in the middle of the lanes. Fun Times!

We all hearted the little-red-haired girl who gave the toy she won in the claw game to Liam. When Thea got upset, little-red-haired girl actually went to her car to get another toy to give Thea. What a peach!

Here's a video AJS took of me helping Dash bowl. You can see my slightly disappointed look when Dash didn't follow my over-enthusiastic directions, then watch Dash nonchalantly head straight back to the fries:

video

More pics below:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dash is 32 months old today

"Can you share that [insert dangerous implement name here] with me? Pleeeeze? I be very, very, very gentle." Dash is very much into make-believe that paper tubes are swords, guns, lightsabers, bats, or bow-and-arrows. When he doesn't get his way and we tell him no, he can't have that knife, hammer, or pointy corkscrew, he persistently and politely repeats his request ad infinitum, which usually results in tears, but it's important that he learns he can't always get his way.

We just bought him a booster seat for my car, just like Rosie's! And he adores it, just like he adores Rosie. She still holds her spot as number one with him. He'd rather play with her than anyone and is always trying to join in whatever she's doing. When she directs the play, he is her willing minion.

With his make-believe play, he is becoming much more independent, but still comes back to mommy & daddy when he needs help or consoling. He woke up from his nap yesterday to tell me, "Mommy, I was crying for you with my tears." Oh, he just melts my heart!

I love you, little man.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

3-martini-fight-club-playdate book club

I lurve my book club. Adore it! We had the *best* book meeting/party this past saturday, IMHO. It completely lived up to its name: drinks flowed, children were (slightly) maimed during play, books were discussed (I'm almost positive somebody mentioned a book) and we showed a movie, inaugurating our new projector + screen.

AJS and I hosted, five families of four attended (I'm lumping four otherwise unattached friends together for ease), and we just had a blast! AJS cooked, of course, making an abundance of ribs, chicken wings, pizzas, and a new item: braised bone marrow on freshly baked (& toasted) bread with parsley salad. I brought an apple pie from a local bakery for dessert. All terribly delicious.

I had a few glasses of wine, so when the main feature, West Side Story, began, and the kids were asking what the wacky Saul Bass illustrations in the titling were all about, I was yelling things like, "OK! Those lines? They are the shadows on sides of buildings in Manhattan! In New York! Wait, wait, and NOW! Buildings! See?" then there's a great helicopter shot where you fly over the tops of buildings, and dear little Emma said, "my grandparents live in New York!" So I yelled back, "OMG, look, I think I saw them!" heh.

Even better, AJS was quite loopy as well. When the Jets gang started singing, "When You're a Jet" he SANG. ALONG. EVERY WORD. I should have brought out the camera, that was so priceless.

Otherwise, oddly, all the boys were downstairs watching the musical. With dancing. And singing. The girls weren't interested, go figure. All the boys were so fired up with the athleticism of the dancing, they were leaping and rolling, running and shouting. Kelly was pretty impressed that her Liam and the rest of the boys played together (the girls seem to have a lock on that). Dash was doing his best Darth Maul impersonation, brandishing a stick/lightsaber while darting around. Shortly after, said stick poked Graham in the eye. It was the proverbial gun on the wall that, eventually, went off before the end of the story.

The party fell apart pretty well after this. Ice was applied, belongings were packed up, we said our goodbyes. Overall, though, it went very well!

I can hardly wait till next month.

Working the hand-made!

The Capitol Region Etsy Street Team (CREST) is an Etsy community that I recently joined to support my re-entry into the hand-made world. I'm feeling them out, seeing how I might fit in. They just entered a large group of members into the Savage Snowdrop Craft Fair this past weekend and had a wildly successful time! I had other plans that day (I hosted a wild book club party/movie night). This photo of the craft fair above was taken by Goddess Findings, a CREST member. I also added an Etsy mini from the CREST shop displayed below my shop's mini, go look!

Despite having another event on my calendar this past Saturday, I was otherwise reluctant to join in the fair because it's literally been ten years since I sold/displayed my work at an event. I'm really not prepared with any presentation ideas; my Etsy shop and Internet options are more my speed at the moment. I've got two kids 5&under and a full-time job already!

On the EtsyCREST blog (http://etsycrest.blogspot.com) I am scheduled to be profiled at the end of March; hopefully I'll be able to pull something together by then! I need to write a blurb about my work, take pics of my work space (does dragging my stack of beadboxes in front of the TV count?), and highlight a favorite item or two. March isn't that far off!

At the moment, I'm working on two pieces inspired by the minds behind Wrekehavoc.com and Greeblemonkey.com. Wreke has asked me to make a chunky purple necklace, which is stretching me a little bit, as I tend to prefer delicate items (I have planned it out and think it will be sexy!). Greeblemonkey sold me a beautiful nature photo, a detail of a gorgeous yellow and red flower. I am creating a bracelet based on this flower, again pushing me out of my normal range, because honestly, I didn't even really have many yellow and red beads in my collection! I have a handful of red (gift of Auntie M.), a few light yellow (gift of Stacy M.), and a stash of bright yellow seed beads that I acquired from a coworker's wife and had to dig out of a drawer in Dash's room. Time to go shopping; so far the bracelet is coming along nicely, but is very fussy to build.

Seems like when I'm picking out supplies without a specific project in mind I will choose silver, clear, green (I have soooo many green beads), and black, and am also attracted to semiprecious stones. It really takes external influence to get me to look beyond my usual territory. Inspiration really does get me working though!

Thanks, ladies, for throwing ideas my way and supporting my work. Kudos to PhilFree, Kelly O, and The Bughouse for being great pals and your regular support & inspiration of my crafting side!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Strings leftover list

AJS cooks so often that some great meals
get forgotten in the back of the fridge.
So I bought a magnetic dry-erase board
to help keep track of what can get packed
in lunches or be heated up quickly at
dinner time. A friend who was over
yesterday read our list:

Hummus & falafel
Beef short ribs
Venison steak
Green tomatillo posole
Fish cake w/udon & tofu
Cassoulet (white bean & sausage)
Pulled pork barbeque
Chili mac
Menudo

And she remarked, "This is about the
only place on earth where you'd find
these items together in one fridge!"

Yeah. Probably right!

What's in your fridge?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

R.I.P. kitteh


Dear Auntie M. lost one of her kittehs this past weekend. R. kitteh was closing in on 16, and we are very sad that such a constant furry presence is now missing from Auntie M.'s life.

The Strings express our sympathy.

Reverends and Rabbis in the house!!

I am gratified that there are religious groups like the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry out there that are celebrating marriage equality, rather than abhoring it. You'd think, from what's out there in the media, that all religions are anti-same-sex-marriage and it's just the heathen, liberal free-thinkers that are trying to turn everyone's heads. I found RCFM online and say hear, hear to their plea to Massassachusetts Bishops! I do hope those esteemed men (and women?) of the cloth are reading:


"Open Letter to Cardinal O’Malley and

the Roman Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts

As ministers, rabbis and religious leaders of many faith traditions, we urge you to stop your political campaign to take away civil marriage rights from gay and lesbian citizens. At a time when the Roman Catholic Church says it is trying to promote tolerance and diversity it is lobbying the legislature and campaigning publicly to ban same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth.


The Roman Catholic magisterium teaches that homosexuality and gay unions are gravely immoral. We disagree with that doctrine, and we rejoice and celebrate marriage equality in Massachusetts. However, we honor your right to believe as you wish. We respect your right to practice your faith according to your laws.


We ask that you respect our faith traditions in return. Taking away civil marriage rights from committed, loving gay and lesbian couples would deny us the right to practice our beliefs. We would no longer be able to marry same-sex couples legally. The state would be in the position of granting full rights and protections to everyone married according to your beliefs, while denying those rights and protections to couples married according to ours.


You are promoting prejudice through your political campaign, intentionally or not.


By proclaiming homosexuality and same-sex unions to be universally immoral and worthy of second-class status under state law, you are sending a message that our faith communities are immoral. You are harming us and our families and your own faithful as well. Thousands of Roman Catholics have signed our Roman Catholic Statement in support of marriage equality. They have signed out of their pain and their love and concern for the Church.


We all have a right to speak our minds and to vote according to our beliefs, but in the political realm, we also have a constitutional responsibility to protect minorities, including the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals and our minority religious communities. Our founding fathers understood the importance of protecting minorities and of preventing sectarian beliefs from becoming civil laws.


Worldwide, we can witness the unfortunate consequences when religious groups try to use government power to impose their will on multi-cultural societies. Respecting and protecting the dignity of every soul, regardless of sexual orientation or religious beliefs, is the American way -- and the only way to protect the religious freedom and the democratic society we all cherish.


We urge you to stop trying to make your religious definition of marriage and family the law of our Commonwealth. Please stop trying to put personal faith up for a popular vote in 2008. Let’s return our focus to our common mission of promoting a socially just and tolerant society.


Faithfully,


The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry Board:

The Rev’d. Anne C. Fowler, President

Rabbi Howard Berman

Rabbi Devon A. Lerner, Executive Director

Rev. Quinn Caldwell

The Rev’d. George C. Welles, Jr.

Rev. Tiffany Steinwert

Rev. David Pettee

Rabbi Daniel Judson

Charles Martel, Roman Catholic Liaison

Rev. Irving Cummings

Constance Cervone, Roman Catholic Liaison

Rev. Maureen Reddington-Wilde"

Go fight the good fight, RCFM!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Discrimination Hurts Everyone


Freedom to Marry Day 2003
Originally uploaded by MCCchurch

Commuting via DC public transit

Some of you have expressed envy that I'm able to use public transit to get to work in my area, and while I am glad it is an option, it's no walk in the park. With the rate hike on WMATA, metro fees have gone up $2 per day, so they have exceeded the cost of fuel for me to make the same trip. My company will only reimburse 12 days worth, at this cost, so I'll be alternating driving and taking transit.

A slice of Ms. Nylon's transit life: To get to my workplace, AJS drops me off superearly at a Metro Station where I first board a blue line train (20 mins), then I transfer to a orange train (20 mins). I exit the station, then board a bus to get to my office (15 mins), then walk 1/4 mile to my building. Reverse it for the afternoon, except because of afternoon traffic, I have to make one extra transfer to the Yellow line. So, it's all at least an hour, more if I miss a connection. Much of it is underground, so I can't really spend my time on the internet from my phone, unfortunately.

Why don't I just drive? Well, there's the awful traffic for one. While on some days, it's taken me 25 minutes (like on a federal holiday or a weekend) on other days, backups & slowdowns made it a 1.5 hour trip driving. Also, I have the eye trouble on sunny days, and g0d forbid, if I leave 15 minutes or more after 4:30, I won't get to daycare before it closes.

So, how am I doing on the telework proposal? I'll get back to you soon.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Freedom to Marry Week day 1: Plotting it.


Marriage Equality Plot
Originally uploaded by TreyIII
Kelly O of O for Obsessive and Heather of The Bughouse brought Freedom to Marry Week to my attention so, this week look forward to some posts about marriage equality.

On "Daddy, Poppa, and Me"'s blog, DP&M summarizes this chart more eloquently that I could, so I will quote from his entry:

"The upper line is civil unions, the lower line is full marriage equality. Nations are indicated when they passed either CU or marriage equality (nations in color eventually went from CU to full equality). U.S. states are indicated by italics.

Good News: The march of equality went from 8/100ths of 1 percent of the world having some sort of marriage equality in 1989 (coincidently the year communism fell) to over 8% today.

Bad News: 92% of the world isn't at full equality for their GLBT citizens yet and in more than 30% of the world just being gay is punishable by a severe penalty from years in jail to death.

Also, generally, the more democratic and free a society, the more equal and safe it's GLBT citizens (though there are exceptions). Europe and the Americas.. Asia... sub-Saharan Africa, N.Africa/MiddleEast/Indian subcontinent. That list is a rough (very rough) line from democratic and free to dictatorial and repressive (India being an exception, also S. Africa.. there are others.. I said it was rough)... it is also the line from GLBT equality to the death penalty for GLBT citizens.

But, as the plot shows, the march of equality is progressing."

If I was feeling lazy, I could just quote from his blog all week, but instead, I'll post his link here and you can go see what he's writing:

Daddy, Poppa & me

More tomorrow!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

6 of ms. nylon's quirky-quirknessess

Dear Kelly O tagged me with this meme, so I will take this opportunity to explore some perhaps unmentioned weirdnesses.

1. I carefully scutinize people's shapes all the time and believe that I can guess what primary childhood (to adult) activity shaped them that way. For example, a swimmer vs. a runner, etc. has a different build based on the muscles they've developed most.

2. I can wiggle my ears.

3. Stories like O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" where a great deal of effort amounts to nothing but emptiness/loss but are somehow ultimately supposed to be uplifting really piss me off.

4. (Changing this one, sorry) I'm exceptionally good at getting through crowds; I'm small, light on my feet, spot openings and don't hesitate. This upsets family & friends trying to follow me in airports, for example, so I really only exercise this skill well when alone.

5. I feel strange/self-conscious when I wear light-colored clothing, pastels, or gold; like I'm wearing a costume or am breaking rules.

6. If you have an accent, after a while of talking with you, I will begin to pick it up semi-consiously. I don't decide to mimic, but once I'm aware that I'm doing it I consider it an effort to help you understand my speech and don't stop.

I tag:
unfit mother
on the curb
up from sloth

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Buy lumber, Check!

The "build-a-projector-screen" is officially underway! AJS had asked me last week if I knew a carpenter, and when he explained why he wanted one, I answered, "Pshaw! We can build that ourselves." To that, he said, "No, you will do it. I'm hiring somebody, or it's all on you."

After checking a couple descriptions of DIY screen jobs online, I decided to go with a combination of two plans. I made a 108" by 58" frame from 1" by 4" pine, cut the corners at diagonals with a saw (by eye, I didn't have a miter), and while carefully applying my t-square (yay tools-of-the-trade!), drilled and screwed in squaring corners and brackets. It is as square as squared wood can be!

The next step is to trim out and stretch black felt over the wood in front, to make a nice contrasting surface for the frame. I'm using a staple gun to affix it, and am not done as of today. My wee hands aren't really staple-gun friendly and sadly, it's not an after-the-kids-go-to-bed activity; too noisy!

Once that's complete, I'll also be stretching and stapling black-out fabric over the frame as well. And the frame will be complete! All that is left after that is to mount it on the wall, which sounds potentially easy, but the space AJS picked for it includes a windowsill with a 2" lip. I'm going to need to go back to the hardware store to purchase longer nails to accomodate the spacers I'll be adding.

Wish me luck! I'll post pics soon.

Friday, February 01, 2008

OMG, that thing's HUGE!!!

AJS realized a dream this week.

His dream was to have a projector TV in our rec room.

I understood the concept, but really only had the vaguest visual impressions of what he was talking about. I think I was imagining that it would kind of send out a wide-screen image, like on a flat-screen TV, you know? The screens on those types are, oh, I don't know, 3 feet by 6 feet? Big, right?

Not like this, oh no. We are talking about building a screen for the projector that is...


wait for it...


ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR INCHES BY SIXTY INCHES!!!!

I'm only 62 inches tall!! This projector sends an image out that is as tall as me and almost twice as wide! We have a movie theatre in our basement.


WOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!


Here is a shot of Mulan II playing on the projector. I've marked-in the tape-corners on the wall showing the final dimensions that AJS wants for the screen.  And for scale, our ceiling is about 7.5 feet high. Yow.

What to do with our old television? The Sony Wega Trinitron? Maybe there's space in our bedroom... After 15-plus years of only having one TV in our household, we now have two.
 
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