While I was on vacation, we met this girl, Bonner Black, and her friend, Annalise Morelli. We started talking to them and found out they were both home-schooled girls who had moved to Nashville to work on launching their music careers. They were very nice and interesting to talk to. They gave us a "sample" of their talents while we took a tram up to an ice cream parlor. Quite impressive. Check out their sites. They are very talented!
Sometime this summer, Maura wrote about a lone piano sitting on the curb. The image of that piano and her thoughts stuck with me, so much so that my attention was immediately caught by a small little blurb in a recent Reader's Digest I was flipping through. A small picture of a piano on the sidewalk near the curb- abandoned.
It seems Maura was not the only one to see such a sight. Filmaker, Anthony Sherin saw this lonely piano from his apartment window. He photographed it for a 24 hour period. After looking at the pictures he realized there was a story to tell.
The New York Times Opinion Pages
Making this film was pure serendipity. After a January snowstorm in New York City, I decided to do some work on another film, in my home in Washington Heights. But as I approached my desk, I thought I heard a piano plinking. I looked out the window and saw a piano on the curb below. I was mesmerized by the pattern that emerged. Passers-by would slow, stop and play. Some played well. All day long they collected and dispersed, and into the night they measured, shoved and deliberated the piano’s fate. (If it stayed on the sidewalk, the city could have issued a fine.) I was riveted. Pianos have histories. No one who stopped seemed eager to leave it behind. Their thoughts were obvious: Can we take it? Who abandons a piano? Is it worth anything?
I eventually started snapping stills and thought I would end up with just that — a lot of stills. To my surprise, I discovered after 24 hours that I had captured a story with a beginning, middle and end. My friend Art Labriola created an original piano score, and I had a film. It has screened at several festivals, and I’m pleased to share it with the world on Op-Docs.
Anthony Sherin is a New York-based filmmaker and editor. His documentary “Original Intent: The Battle for America” was broadcast on PBS in 2009.
Check it out here:
Okay, here is one of those stories that begin with, "When I was...". Yes, one of those stories that compares life today with life way back when; except there is a difference. The story about today demonstrates a greater level of social emotional intelligence, a greater confidence in self-worth, and a greater empathy for each other.
When I was in middle school, or rather junior high, which doesn't really seem that long ago to me but to you it was decades ago, I spent more time worrying about what I was wearing, how my hair and make-up looked, and how my peers would evaluate my appearance. I would have died if someone suggested I cut my hair, let alone shave it off. Even my peers, as judgmental as it may sound, would never have made such a sacrifice in the name of others. For one brief moment, they may have decided to take a noble stance, shave their head, and donate their hair; however, a few days down the road, sad to say, their empathetic gesture would be forgotten and all self doubts and necessity for peer acceptance would resume center stage.
For me, and my peers, it was the age of MTV, conformity, and awkward gawkiness. I look at middle school kids today, especially the girls, they are beautiful, put together, grown-up in so many ways, and even with the need to be "in", they have a greater level of acceptance for themselves and others. They have a better understanding of others and appreciation for individual differences.
People often talk about "kids today" and what they don't understand, appreciate or know how to do, but it is a very different world. Today's teens are more involved in school activities, athletics, and outside interests. Society is far more fast-paced. They have greater access to drugs, they are aware of more "adult" topics, they are expected to engage in and manage a rapidly growing and changing social media. There is also more pressure to grow-up faster, to prepare for college earlier (beginning even in elementary school), and to be aware that they might make a decision today that will unchangeably alter their future and forever leave a digital footprint. Combine that with the things I had to deal with, some of which still exist- peer pressure, bullying, the awkward teen years, 80s fashion (what was the fashion world thinking?), relationships, friendships, and all the general challenges that face us as we grow up and hopefully mature. I wouldn't go back and do any of it again- there are so few of us who would.
After watching more than 200 middle schoolers cut their hair and shave their heads at our school's St. Baldrick's fundraising event (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-15/news/ct-tl-d64-head-shaving-20130315_1_cancer-research-heads-long-hair), for some of them this is the second time doing so, I think we should give kudos to today's youth- especially these young women. Your noble deeds, your sacrifice for others, and the confidence in who you are and how you look truly is impressive. Bravo!
Emily's list was a great one. There were many things she listed that I would say makes me happy too. It's good to take time out and think about some of those things, especially on these grey wintery days.
Some of The Gazillion Things That Make Me Happy
the way crayons smell
when I find a hidden note my mom left me during one of her visits
the way Luci looks when he's sleeping
looking at pictures
walking in the woods
a clean kitchen counter and sink
freshly laundered sheets
blue skies with puffy white clouds
being in love
sitting and reading with Frankie
a good book
when I've written something really well
the color orange
reading your funny blogs
The DLP family loves a good literary work, and Dr. Seuss has definitely produced a number of them. The Sneetches- a classic story demanding equality for all, The Lorax- an ominous warning about the way we treat our natural environment, and The Cat in the Hat- a story about the necessity of a babysitter who can clean up. But, without Green Eggs and Ham where would we find breakfast inspiration?
This week alone, I have made green eggs and hash, orange eggs, red eggs (which truly aren't for the culinary-faint-of-heart), blue eggs and Christmas confetti eggs (this highly complicated dish requires both green and red eggs with opposing colored peppers diced in them).
As I prepare them, I spout Seussian wisdom to the children, "Try them, try them you will see, you will like _____________ (fill in with the appropriate color) eggs and _____________ (whatever side dish is joining them on the plate)!"
The children cry out in unison, "I will not, eat them with a fox! I will not eat them in a box."
Once again, I declare, "Try them, try them; you will see!"
"Oh Mom, just let us be! We do not like _______ eggs and ________!"
This is all part of the procedure of course. I set down their plate of steaming, colorful eggs and delightful side dish. They try a bite in reverential silence.
"Say, I like these green eggs and hash! I will eat them, Mom-I-am!"
Of course, we then recall all the places we would eat these eggs and with what sort of animal we would willingly dine with.
And just to think, if it weren't for a clever and talented man named Dr. Seuss, what literary fun could we have at breakfast?
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
When it comes to cake, everyone definitely has their preferences. Chocolate- milk or dark, yellow, angel food, devil's food, red velvet, the list goes on. The list for frosting preferences is equally as specific and lengthy.
For birthdays, I think a homemade cake is the best. At my house, the rule is that when it's your birthday, you can eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you wish. (Of course, if there's cake around and you choose to eat it for breakfast I would be the last person to say no; I might even join you in having a slice. After all, Bill Cosby even pointed out that it has eggs, butter, milk, and flour in it- all things someone might have in an authorized breakfast food.)
On my birthday, we make an exception. I do not want a homemade cake. I want a chocolate cake from Portillos. Ah the decadence, the milk-chocolately frosting, the chocolate cake (and even though I know they make it with mayonaise, I pretend I know nothing about it's creation when I eat it!).
Frankie likes yellow cake. Luci wants cake that is more frosting than cake, and my husband craves dark chocolate. As someone who loves to bake I set out to find the perfect dark chocolate cake with the perfect dark chocolate frosting. I have perfected the dark chocolate cake! If you are familiar with Molly B's cupcakes in Chicago you have experienced the creamy, sweet, thick yet fluffy frosting of the gods. Yes, I have that recipe. Pair that with a "from scratch" dark chocolate cake using "black cocoa powder" and you have a masterpiece for the dark-chocolate lover! I found "special dark" cocoa powder on the shelves at the store, but that was nothing compared to the black cocoa powder I discovered from a specialty store. This cocoa powder is so black and fine, blacker than the best dirt to dig in for worms to fish with; whatever it touches becomes black- the measuring cup, my knuckles, my apron- anything. A lot of scrubbing must go into the clean-up when using this. But the results are worth it. Or at least my husband, and whomever he deems lucky enough to share a piece with, thinks so.
The picture doesn't do justice to show just how black this cake is. I went to take another picture of it, in better lighting, but it had vanished- crumbs and all, and was nowhere to be seen.
Honestly, the last thing I expected on Tuesday morning was a phone call at 5:15. Dr. Bender's voice declaring a snow day in District 64 wove effortlessly into my still sleepy head. I put my head back on the pillow attempting sleep. I was sure I had dreamed the whole thing. At 5:20, I had climbed over two children of varying size, they will often stealthily crawl into my bed at some ridiculous morning hour; inched past Buddy, who had been snuggled up against me; out of bed, and gingerly stepped around the lump under the covers at the end of the bed, Billy growls when you wake him; and gracefully fell out of bed.
I turned the alarms off on my phone and double checked my school e-mail and triple-checked the district website. As I looked out the window into a sterile grey sky, absent of falling snow, I reiterated to myself the unbelievable wonderful fact that it was indeed a snow day!
I must say, I didn't do anything spectacular with my snow day, but that is exactly what a snow day is for- the bliss of doing nothing!
Before it got dark I did take Buddy out for a walk, a lengthy walk. He absolutely loves the snow. He bounced over drifts and through fluffy blankets of snowy ground. If it weren't for his sweater I would have lost sight of him. He bounded across the park, heading for another small dog who was apparently a good dog, as he was off his leash and seemed to know his name and have good social skills. Buddy was so excited. He would jump into the snow racing to play with this little dog wearing a smart red coat. Inevitably he would trip or get caught up and face plant. He looked more and more like Santa Claus as we walked closer to home. His face wore a beard of snow and his eyes sparkled. It was a new world for him; he stopped to mark every snowman he could reach. He did not want to back in, but sometimes that's just the way it goes.
Luciano and I shoveled the steps to the front and back doors while my husband manned the snowblower. With cleared steps, for the moment, Luci and I raced to the backyard and, using those ice-brick molds, commenced building a wall to hide behind to ambush Victor with snowballs when he finished with the walk. We built a great wall; it was three feet high. Tall enough for us to hide behind. Unfortunately, we hadn't prepared for the onslaught that awaited us. A snowblower throws out huge quantities of snow at pretty good speeds. After he hit us with the first wave, I grabbed my little guy, as any good mother would, and shielded him with my body. We emerged from our wintery cocoon waving a white flag- or at least begging for mercy.
It was so much fun. I promised Luciano we'd build the wall up again after school and before going sledding with friends. These snowy, really snowy, days are rare. Make the most of them.
Buddy is in the far corner, ignoring me, as I call him to come in!
The ruins of our fortification.
This is Buddy today, after school, waiting to go out into the snow again!