Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pictures of Animals in Canada

Took a trip to Montreal with Dan and his family and returned to discover that I didn't take very many photos at all, and the ones I do have largely feature animals or insects. No dogs or cats, because for the entire time we were there, we saw about 4 dogs in total which of course was a bummer for me.

We left on a Thursday morning and stopped in for breakfast at the Airport Diner. The menu had everything you could ever want on it, and, as a consequence, the food all tasted the same. Please note that Dan is embarrassing all of us by wearing a New Jersey t-shirt.

And then we stopped for lunch at some place called the Cricket Restaurant. Name was apropos as no one was there and it was so silent that you could hear...

Bruno traveled with us and here is being abused in the parking lot of the Hyatt Hotel where we stayed for four luxurious nights.

Luckily, we were also able to enjoy the comforts of corporate America as there was a French-ish Starbucks directly across from the hotel.

And many lovely fountains in the nearby square.

A French seagull. You can see he has an attitude.

This is handsome picture of Dan on the subway. This is on Friday, when we went to La Ronde, which is like the Montreal version of Six Flags.

The best part was while we were waiting for the shuttle, we saw this groundhog just hanging out and being fed carrots by one of the drivers.

The driver claimed that there was once an explosion of groundhogs to the area, so then they brought in foxes to control the groundhog population, but then the foxes got out of control and so they had to bring in brown bears and then...Dan said he winked when he said this, so maybe it was all a ruse.

Dan guiltily eating a delicious crepe. These crepes made me want to buy a crepe machine on the spot, though I knew my chances of ever actually using one were less than .5%.

For some reason, I neglected to take enough pictures of the other children--Emilia and Juliette. Here is Juliette amusing herself with a water bottle.

Tuning her fine motor skills.

Jodi and Luke on one of the rides. I also went on a solo ride with Luke in this thing that was called the Lurchere or something which translates to The Vominator. I kept my crepe in by focusing on a single point in the distance.

A church?

Punk horses available for carriage rides in the Old City.

Luke about to eat a croissant bigger than his head. He looks drugged here, but he did really well the whole trip. Had no coughing or need for an epi pen despite the overall carpeting of the city.

I forget where this is.

Father and son.
A French spider.
These are wrecked-looking, artistic condominiums.

I don't remember it being this overcast while we were there. I think it must have just been this way in the mornings, or maybe on that one Sunday.

And here we are, returning home on Monday. This is our only moose sighting. Please note Luke's shirt, which his grandma bought him at the mall beneath the hotel. You can write in chalk on the robot part of it.

We petted it.

And Bruno again, excited to be home soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Lamb Video for Your Day

We saw some sheep this weekend at the Howell Living Farm and I was reminded that sheep aren't the smartest farm animals you could ever hope to have.

But here is a video of a cute lamb who hops:

Overheard on the R7

The guy sitting behind me on the train back from Princeton yesterday had an entirely personal cell phone conversation that lasted about ten minutes. Summary: "Why you gotta throw me out my house into the snow, huh? Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Oh, I am, am I? Okay, if you say so. My dad did not say that. I decided to leave, not him. Okay. Oh, right. Yes, here we go again. You did too! I never said that. But you're the one who threw me out in the snow, not me. That's right, act like that. You don't listen. Why'd you got to keep all of my stuff then, like my sofa? Okay. Okay. Oh, okay. Well, I'm not stopping by then." I couldn't see his face, but I pictured him as a 17 year old kid. When he got off at the Bridesburg stop, imagine my surprise to find that he was a fully grown adult man with tattoos. I just hope they don't have kids together.

Here is your next selection of photos to choose from. This is Tilly, who belongs to Lex. Tilly does not like the hat any more than the rest of them, but she seems at least a little dignified about it.

And here, she is just about to burst into "O Sole Mio."

It is very difficult to get the hat square on their round little heads.

Oh, and one last shot. This is scary Halloween cat in a hat.

I tested the hat out on Ernesto and Emma Carol. Video to follow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Books and Things

Just got my copy of Philadelphia Noir in the mail on Wednesday. That's the series of short fiction put out by Akashic Books--they focus on a particular city and ask writers in that area to write a noir piece about their neighborhood. I covered South Philly. Two other writers from one of the Philadelphia Stories classes were also asked to write stories--Halimah and Laura. I am so proud of us! I don't think my story is the greatest--the character is pretty unlikable and the situation isn't very plausible either, but it was fun to write.

Why don't you buy an advanced copy?

I'll also be starting another Master's program this fall at Penn and my first class is called Research for Fiction. Here's the course description:

Images and the figures of speech called imagery bring language to life and abstract ideas to light in the mind. They are what create the physical world of fiction and convey the subjective realities of poems and the arguments of essays. In this workshop we will explore the intersection between writing and the visual arts suggested by Simonides de Keos in the 5th century B.C.E. (Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetry) and echoed above in Horace's famous dictum. We will look at some of the theory behind the "sister arts" and the two forms of description which unite them: literal and figurative. Mostly we will examine and play with the language of images and the transfer of categories of meaning which metaphor and it's attendant likenesses govern, along with the image's great project: animation--the ultimate sense of the real. We will read poems, stories, portions of plays, and essays by writers as diverse as Seamus Heaney, Kate Chopin, Milan Kundeers, Annie Dillard, Yusef Komunyakka, Shakespeare, Susan Sontag, and Susan Minot. Students will write weekly and participate in weekly peer review. Revision is expected. This is a workshop that will teach writers of all genres to write persuasively and evocatively.

I'm not quite sure I fully understand the course description, but as long as it gets me writing more, that's fine. I suppose I should consider what topics I'd like to research. Also, what is Horace's famous dictum? Is it:"He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses." Or: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him cross it."

I've been reading more literary crime fiction lately (I'm being snotty about it--only reading books nominated for the Edgar Awards in mystery writing). I just finished Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters, and loved it and am now into In the Shadow of Gotham, but someone whose last name escapes me. Here first name is Stephanie. Both of those books are set in very particular time periods (London in the late 1800s, New York in the early 1900s), so maybe for my research fiction writing class, I should consider doing a(n) historical piece that takes place in Philadelphia. Except I kind of don't feel like writing something where I have to describe aprons and butter churns. Maybe a book set in current day Philadelphia and it could be a crime novel and I'd have to look up police procedure. Except I think in Philadelphia, the police procedure is basically, Don't get involved unless there's blood shed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not Really the End of the Contest

There was some panic from the last blog entry when I claimed there was a winner of the Cat-in-Hat competition, but I was just kidding. We still have my cats to go, plus Padhraig's cats, plus a few assorted dogs I know who would like to be entered in the contest, and Jenn Bing's cat, Bella.

In the meantime, please take a look at our next beauty, Tucker, who belongs to my friend Emily. Tucker is a sweet little thing, but watch out. Here, he seems to be lounging quite easily.

And perhaps interested in eating the feather.

On the move. I like this--he looks like he's about to attach something/someone. And he is.

When Emily finally took the hat off and left the room for just a brief blink of a moment, Tucker had his revenge. The hat had to be re-glued together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And The Winner Is...

I have to say that Wayles' photos of her cat, Ashes are the best I've seen so far. Very poetic with a hint of tragedy. Here is the bio that she sent about Ashes/Genevieve (name changes when she's wearing the hat): Genevieve is a Virgo and from the Brandywine Valley.She would love to frolic outdoors, but being the lady that she is, she takes elegant baths and keeps her silky hair clean and pressed high above the city in her penthouse suite.

And then the truth comes out about Ashes: Ashes is almost 7 years old and was born in a McDonald's parking lot in Wilmington, DE. She thinks she is a lesbian dog. She likes the rain. She likes rolling around in dirt.

Total smooch-fest.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fun at the Carnival

Actually, I don't think fairs/carnivals are that much fun. Maybe I used to, but they seem depressing to me as an adult. We took Luke to the New Jersey County Fair and he had a good time, but all I could think about was how much it must suck to have to work on the rides. Like, over and over and over you let kids on the ride, you watch it go around for awhile, you hope no one throws up, and then you get those bunch off and another group on. For ten hours a day, for ten days in one town, and then you move on to the next crappy town and do the same thing. We talked to the guy who ran the shooting game and he said there next stop was Schenectady, NY, then Erie, PA, a couple more small towns in PA, then Delaware, then Pensacola, FL. He also had to tell the other guy working with him to stop talking about asking a lady if he could sit on her face because kids were around.

The thing about the carnival that most stuck with Luke was the attraction for the smallest woman in the world. So small you can fit her in your hand! I am ashamed to admit that I gave them a dollar to look after Luke went up and said, That was creepy! She was basically a disabled person sitting in a chair. A dwarf maybe? She waved hello and said something I couldn't understand. She was from Haiti. I found myself trying to make small talk like, Where you off to next? Luke couldn't stop talking about how disturbing it was.

Here is the bus ride that he went on. It basically just went back and forth.

And this is the ride that almost made Dan get sick. It's a boat that goes up and back and side to side in such a way that it causes your stomach to turn upside down.

And then the finale for the day was the Ferris Wheel. I didn't go on it with them because we ran out of tickets. You can see from the skyline that it was a gray and rainy day, which added to the overall dismal-ness. Dan and Luke were in lucky car #12. They sat with a kid who told them that he had been on every single ride and only got sick once.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet Si

This is Kristina's cat, Si, as in Siam the Siamese. I imagine that the children named her/him. Siamese cats often get a bad rap because they are inherently snobbish looking and acting. And they are usually very vocal--will meow until the other cats come home. My friend Wallis Payne had a Siamese named Diabla when we were growing up. She wasn't the nicest cat, but I still loved her. She would claw you in a second, but she was pretty on the outside. Here is Si, pretty on all sides.

And again. S/he seems to be taking the hat in stride, like royalty.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vacation Photos

I've been meaning to post photos from our trip to Newport, Rhode Island. These are all in opposite order of the actual vacation. Here is the interior of a restaurant where we at on the last night. We had almost uniformly good meals, most of which consisted of sea food of some kind.

The bed and breakfast where we stayed. I liked it okay--though it kind of did have a more hotel-y feel than a homey one. We had a giant hot tub in our bathroom though. I enjoyed it more than Dan, who suffered from heat stroke in it.

Here he is looking handsome in the $4 shirt I bought him from Circle Thrift.

Lemon sorbet for him, chocolate martini for me.

These are the grounds of the Vanderbilt mansion. We took a guided audio tour (everyone got his or her own headset). The funniest part was when you got to hear about the life of a Vanderbilt vs. the life of a Vanderbilt maid. The Vanderbilt girl was like, "And the bath was drawn for me every morning and tea brought up on little golden trays..." whereas the maid said, "We lived in a tiny room with no windows or air."

Breakfast at the Hungry Monkey.

Sock monkey picture taken for Jodie.

There's this thing called the 40 Steps that you can go down. We thought we had done it, but realized the steps we'd taken didn't count. Then we discovered them. Here is a photo of a lady who yelled to her son, "Watch out! You're going to kill yourself!"

The only photo I will allow of me.

Dan contemplating death.
Another mansion. We only did the one tour. It wasn't even until half-way through that I realized these were the rich people's summer homes. Like, they're cottages. Places that were largely unused for 9 months out of the year while the wealthy families were in their real mansions in upstate New York.

Summer home.
On the cliffs.
Watch out for that guy.

Oh, and this was dinner our first night at the Barking Crab. Dan ordered a lobster and I had crab legs. Both of us were starving after we ate because we got the smallest possible choice on the menu.

And Dan warned me we couldn't eat this part of the lobster b/c he said it was the intestines. I didn't quite believe him, but it grossed me out anyway.

This is not from the vacation--it's dinner at Friendly's with Dan and Luke on the way out to his mom's house. The great thing about Dan having a kid is that it gives me an excuse to eat at places where I'd never normally be caught dead, but secretly like.

And the giant spider in Dan's basement.