Cinderella Movie Night

Cinderella (1950)
Cinderella (1950)

This evening we had our second family movie night. Shannon set out a delicious finger-food dinner and popped popcorn to eat while we watched the classic Disney version of Cinderella from 1950. The movie was fabulous. Some of the shots, especially early on, exhibited wonderful draftsmanship, and of course the animation was marvelous, too: I was amazed by the liquid motion of shadows against the floors or walls.

Even more than watching the movie, though, I liked watching the girls watch the movie. They know the plot (or rather, the plots) from the several versions of the fairy tale that we have, so they knew what was going on. Vivi is still a little mystified by some of the action in movies and teevee shows, especially when there’s lots of quick dialogue, but Cinderella is broad enough that she could follow along and enjoy the crazy stuff. She especially liked any scene with Lucifer the nasty cat in it. “He’s even mow gwumpy dan our cat is!”

Julia, on the other hand, knew exactly what to expect and what was going on at all times. For most of the movie, she sat raptly, pinching her lip like she does when she’s concentrating on a book. When Cinderalla went out to weep in the garden after her stepsisters ruined the ballgown made by the mice and birds, Julia exclaimed, “FAIRY GODMOTHER!” and bounced on the floor. It must have been amazing to finally see the fairy godmother, after reading about her (and her ilk) for years.

I can’t wait to see the next Disney flick with them.

Twins Win!

I went to my first game at the Twins’ new Target Field on Wednesday – a noon game against Cleveland.
Game at Target Field - 1

The Twins won, 6-0, on some good pitching (especially by the closer, Anthony Slama, who made his major-league debut in the ninth) and good hitting.

Game at Target Field - 5

That was good, but the stadium was great: excellent views (and not only because I lucked into great seats), very good food, and great companionship. I’ll go again as soon as possible.

Game at Target Field - 7

My Job Here Is Done, or, Reading Is the New Parenting

I try, you know, but I just can’t make the girls stop reading in order to do some mundane task like brushing their teeth. Thus, this view from the steps this evening: they’d finished dinner, cleaned up their spots, and headed straight for the bookshelves, where they read for a good half hour. There’s no need to parent two readers, right?

The Girls, Reading
The Girls, Reading

Coffee Daddy

The girls love to do mad-lib style stories that I start by writing a few incomplete sentences and they finish by filling in my blank spots. Julia’s tend to be almost reportorially matter of fact, but Vivi’s are often pretty Dada. A case in point:

Coffee Daddy Story

Translation (with her additions in quotes):

One ‘morning,’ I went to ‘school,’ where I ‘played.’ I saw ‘Coffee Daddy’ there. They were very ‘gummy.’ I ‘just played’ them. After a while, I ‘got cold.’ It was ‘hot.’ The end.


Without really realizing it, I’ve created a habit of going for long rides on Friday afternoons. It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours, especially if work has been squared away, and it’s sure a good way to kick off the weekend.

This Friday, I ventured south and west of town, toward Shieldsville, a little town on one of the several lakes down that way. It was a great ride. I saw quite a few things that I didn’t or couldn’t photograph:

  • three motorcycles carrying burly dudes up front and women in bikini tops in back (is this a thing now?),
  • hundreds of cows and scores of horses,
  • the highest heart rate I’ve seen in years, at the top of a nasty climb near the end of the route,
  • hypnotically linear fields of corn and soybeans,
  • a rather stout farmer who, when I encountered him a second time on the road a few hundred yards from where I’d met him earlier (but after an hour and many miles of riding), yelled, “You didn’t get very far!”
  • a huge auto junkyard hidden out in the middle of nowhere,
  • glimpses of four or five sizable lakes, all just about a half-mile from the roads,
  • birds, butterflies, and dragonflies that (stupidly?) flew directly down the road away from me, so that I caught up to them over and over, forcing them to flee and flee,
  • the immense deliciousness of a strawberry-flavored slush drink at a convenience store near my turnaround point.

I also saw some things that I could and did photograph:

Turkeys both domestic and wild (just at the edge of the brush, to the left of the evergreen):
July 16 Ride - 1

A stately old red-brick silo:
July 16 Ride - 3

A familiar street name, but no #8 bus:
July 16 Ride - 2

Many odd little triangular patches of grass at various T intersections.
July 16 Ride - 4

Quite a few sections of Rice County pavé: rumble strips along on quiet rural roads (note the strip on the white line: that’ll wake you up if your front tire wanders!).
July 16 Ride - 5

A lof of gravel beneath me (and increasingly on me) and skies like this above me:
July 16 Ride - 6

A Few Moments with My Sleepy Daughters

10:30 p.m.

Vivi moans in her bed. “Woofy! I need Woofy!” She’s dropped the tiny plastic toy dog that she keeps clenched in her left hand (almost) all night. This happened just a few minutes ago, so I run upstairs and go into the nursery, hoping to get to her before the moaning wakes up Julia.

“Did you drop Woofy Woofy, honey?” I whisper. She immediately shrieks back, “NO! I DI’N’T DWOP WOOFY WOOFY!” I roll my eyes (it’s dark, so she can’t see me and get annoyed at this) and ask, “What’s wrong, then?” “I NEED MY BWANKETS TIGHTER!” I crouch down to tuck her more tightly into the heavy winter quilt that she insists on sleeping under every night.

After cinching it down to the near-suffocating levels that she prefers, I whisper, “There: is that okay now?” She exhales angrily and yells, “YETH, BUT I NEED WOOFY WOOFY!” I laugh a little bit and whisper, “I thought you had him in your hand, honey.” “NO! I DON HAVE HIM! HE’S ON DA FWOOR!”

On my hands and knees, I hurriedly pat all around her bed, trying to find the the elusive toy, which falls out of her hand two or three times a night – on a good night. “I can’t find him, honey. Are you sure you don’t he’s not in your blankets?” I ask, just as I finally find him stuck between two rails of her headboard, not on the floor. I hand him back to Vivi, who clutches him in a hot, sweaty little hand. “WHY DID YOU YOU COULND’T FIND HIM, DADDY!” she yells. I can hear the sneering in her voice.

I chuckle a little more and whisper, “Let’s try to be really quiet so we don’t wake up Julia, okay?” She raises her head and shouts even louder, “SHE NOT SLEEPING, DADDY. SHE AWAKE!!” Hitting her cue, Julia groans from across the room. “Too loud!” she says.

“Okay, honey,” I tell Vivi, “now you are tucked in and you have Woofy. Time to go back to sleep, okay?” She yells again, “OKAY, I WILL!” and recites the little mantra that must must must be said every time you leave a room in which she’s sleeping: “NIGHT-NIGHT LOVE YOU SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!” I whisper it back, kiss her and Julia, and sneak out. As I reach the door, she shouts one more time, “I SAID, ‘NIGHT-NIGHT LOVE YOU SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!'” I whisper it again, a bit louder so she can hear me, and shut the door. She’s immediately quiet.

Julia, Lector

Julia Reading
Julia Reading

A partial list of activities which Julia has forgotten about, put off, or skipped because she was caught up in reading a book – any book:

  • Come down for breakfast
  • Get dressed after breakfast
  • Go outside to play
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Watch a video
  • Put her shoes on
  • Go out to the car
  • Get out of the car
  • Come listen to a story I’m reading to Genevieve
  • Find another book she wants me to read
  • Find a passage in the book she’s already reading that she wants me to read
  • Come to the dinner table
  • Clean up after dinner
  • Go upstairs for bath and bed
  • Get undressed for a bath
  • Get in the tub
  • Get dressed after a bath
  • Find a book for me to read to her at bedtime

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of this.

Black River Harbor

Maybe the recent trip to Iowa has activated my travel jones, but I’m dying to get up to the U.P., even though such a trip is pretty much impossible this summer. I particularly want to see the great New Deal-era suspension bridge over the Black River, north of Ironwood at the far western tip of the Yoop.

If I’m recalling things correctly, the bridge connects a small campground to a beach along Lake Superior – one of the few sand beaches on the lake. I distinctly remember the thrill of walking over this bridge: the gaps between the planks, the shudder as everyone stepped on it, the view of the water below…
Bridge At Black River Harbor
“Bridge At Black River Harbor,” by Siskokid via Flickr

A Great Day

Today, for the first time in 15 years – since the day after we graduated from Macalester – I saw our good friend Donna, who was passing through town (well, through the Twin Cities) on her way to a conference. We couldn’t cover every bit of the past 15 years in our day together, but it was still a pretty great time, and we’re glad she came down to see us, to see the town, and to meet the girls.

For me, the highlight of the day was Donna’s Skype call to her kids back in Hawaii, during which our kids traded knock-knock jokes. It was hilarious – even if Hawaii and Minnesota share the exact same repertoires of knock-knock jokes. Before that, Julia took what she described as “perfect” picture of the three of us. If nothing else, it proves we all look just as good as we did the last time we were together:
Group Portraits - 1

Andy Goldsworthy, “Prairie Cairn”

Goldsworthy, "Prairie Cairn" (top)
Goldsworthy, "Prairie Cairn" (top)
Goldsworthy, "Prairie Cairn"
Goldsworthy, "Prairie Cairn"

I was really, really taken by “Prairie Cairn” sculpture at Grinnell’s natural reserve. It’s a gorgeous piece of art, for one thing, but it’s also perfectly suited to its setting – even though there’s nothing shaped quite like it in the reserve itself. Grinnell’s art gallery has a nice page on the sculpture, and Goldsworthy has a big write-up in Wikipedia. A couple more of my pictures of the cairn:

Grinnell Scenery

I saw lots of great stuff in or near Grinnell today, both during an excellent tour of the Conard Environmental Research Area, Grinnell’s natural preserve, and afterwards, around campus.

Oak savannah on the south side of Conard.
Conard Oak Savannah

Ants on the underside of an oak leaf, harvesting sugar-rich fluids secreted by the tiny aphids which the ants “farm” and which gorge on the leaf veins.
Ants Farming Aphids

The Environmental Education Center building in the middle of Grinnell’s Conard Environmental Research Area, with the “Prairie Cairn” by Andy Goldsworthy in the foreground.
Conard Lab and Prairie Cairn

The summer-evening sky above the Rathje dorm, at the northeast corner of campus.
Dorm Sky

The sunset the trees around MacEachron Field on the north side of campus.
Grinnell Sunset