Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On the Natal Anniversary of the Additional Embassy Engineer

Today is the Boy's Birthday.

He is made up of Binary and Art and Electrons.

Poppets and Brains and Legos

Dead Languages, Dead Poets and Light.

Not surprisingly he is exactly where he is supposed to be but not where others think he is.

It's OK, as long as one or two of us can find him.

You have to be careful when you look right at him if he's not working at being there.

I know that in the annals of parenting I am supposed to be distressed at the passage of time but I find quite the opposite - it is a pleasure to get to know each other as we each grow older year by year.

Here's to the new year of Poppets and sawdust and variable physics and so the counting continues . . . .

He can't see this - mostly- he probably won't unless someone tells him, but Happy Birthday Co-Conspirator.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where Both Sides can Agree

A pious fool is he who sees a child struggling in the water

and says,

"I'll take off my tefilin and then save the child."

- Talmud Jerushalmi: Sota

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My friend is selling Snow Glass Apples

The person who introduced me to Poppets knew Poppets through Neil Gaiman. I know Neil Gaiman through Poppets ( or at least I know Neil Gaiman better because of Poppets)

It's a bit like a tail eating dragon. All the Poppets and Lisa and writing are in my life because of him/ But my friend who loves his Gaiman feels the need to part with prized posessions and one of those items is this:

This is description as provided:

This incredible looking book contains the text of the radio play version of Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow Glass Apples". Comes complete with slip case.

From the colophon:

"Snow Glass Apples, A play for voices; was printed in a limited edition of 250 signed and numbered copies of which this is number 189. Additional proof and author copies were made and are lettered from A-Z. This book is printed on archival paper using wood engravings, letterpress and lithographic techniques. The engravings were impressed directly onto handmade Japanese paper by the artist from the original end grain maple wood blocks... The binding is hand sewn and cased into cloth covered boards. 2002 Biting Dog Press."

Wood engravings by George Walker, and introduction by Professor Jack Zipes.

This is my friend and something that mattered to him, and he matters a great deal to me so I hope that his Apples find a place that will love them as much as he does.

You can find the sale here.

Tell anyone who might want some apples.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Ambassador Interviews Alastair

Prentice and the Embarrassed Ambassador were very pleased that Winter was able to arrange for Alastair Lupin to agree to be interviewed. He had an excellent reputation. The Ambassador however was concerned about other things. He wondered, for instance if he was going native. There were indeed more and more Poppets arriving in Poppetropolis everyday and some chose to settle elsewhere but all of them stopped by to at least check in. And that was unifying, and indeed it was Poppety, but as he expressed to Prentice, he was beginning to wonder if the area around the Embassy was a bit too much like the Silly Humans he was being an Ambassador to and for. Was it really natural for Poppets to have things like houses and cafes that were Poppet sized? Shouldn't Poppets be observers rather than participants?

Prentice did think about it for a bit. After all one couldn't really "Have a Poppet Day" if one were not "keeping it real" as it were, and being true to Poppet Culture. Upon asking the construction folk if they thought that the local Poppets were assimilating, they were reassured that as much as the Poppets might be doing things that Humans do they were still doing things in ways that Humans wouldn't quite do them. Aside from which, the construction workers pointed out, the Embassy is on Sesame Street, there are all sorts of beings here and size is very fluid.

Prentice thanked them but the Ambassador was still not reassured.

Meanwhile across town Alastair prepared for his interview with his children helping. The oldest helped him get his best cravat and the middle child wanted to know why the Poppets were interested in working with him. " I thought they only worked with each other and the Brains?". Alastair patiently explained that an Embassy meant that the people who made one specifically wanted to work with the people who were already where the Embassy was going to be. So that meant that the Poppets wanted to work with muppets, and mice, and brains, and birds, and grouches, and monsters and even with crazy humans who ran the historical society. But to do that sometimes they needed help from locals.

The children agreed that their father was very good at helping so it would be an excellent choice.

Alastair was a bit nervous before the interview. He was a quiet and introverted rabbit and the nature of things had changed greatly even before the Poppets had arrived. He wondered if his brand of traditionalism would fit in with the culture that was growing up around him. Instinctively he knew, there was a way that bunny rabbits and Poppets fit together. The differences would make the combination interesting.

Prentice greeted him at the door. They were very pleased to see him. Alastair complemented the furniture and the dedication to keeping the local architecture.
The Ambassador was working on the renovations needed to make the space bigger on the inside than the out, and once that was done, they would have more time to personalize things. It took a great deal of energy to accomplish that and a large team of people, poppets and brains.

As a Matter of Fact, Prentice pointed out, that was one of the reasons they were hoping he would come work with them. There was a great deal of entertaining, and interviewing and paperwork to be done and it was more than one Poppet or even two could do alone.

Upstairs in the office, the Ambassador was reviewing the plans from the Bilaterians for the expandable park.

And getting reports about new residents.

And trying to figure out if he should sponsor a party.

And seeing about getting permits for the Skeleton to get a Flower Shop.

And looking into the catering contracts for the Poppet Cafe.

And being asked if he would like to go Syracuse to speak about "How to rip up a city block and make lots of glorious noise while altering time and space." and also be a guest on a panel about "How to fit a three ring circus and elephant parade into a single dumpster." by one O.T.G. for an annual convention.

And seeing if there was a problem with the Poufle Pub's liquor license and inspection.

And scheduling in the theater season.

And reviewing the Petition from the Associated Organization of Perfectly Content Scientists.

And many, many, many other bits and pieces of things. And this didn't even count the bits and pieces of things that he had already handed off to his Cousin Prentice.

So the Ambassador could be forgiven for looking a bit worried when Alastair was introduced.

They got along very well for they both liked books, and they both believed in education, and they both thought that using the proper silverware should not be that much of a mystery as long as the host wasn't being mean. It should, of course, always be working from the outside in with dessert on top of the plate.

Alastair for his part was able to help fill in the Ambassador and Prentice on the local traditions such as impromptu musical numbers and sudden story telling. Things changed size depending on the angles, and settings had been known to go from urban to suddenly pastoral or magical for a three block radius. It was a bit like building on a fault line populated by the faerie.

It did explain some of the unforeseen plumbing problems they were having with the building.

Alastair was offered the position of Embarrassed Attache and taught the official motto "We Apologize for the Inconvenience." Upon acceptance the Ambassador sat him right down at the desk and gave him access to all of the required files.

"If you wouldn't mind sorting this all out into some kind of schedule? I'm terribly afraid I'm already late for some meetings and a prophesy or two."

Prentice offered to stay and help. The Ambassador hurried downstairs, after telling his new attache how pleased he was to have one, especially one with such a lovely cravat, and promising to bring him back a coffee and danish from the Cafe.

However upon opening the door to make it to his next place to be, he very nearly tripped over something he had never encountered before.

"We are here." they announced.

Why yes. Yes, they were indeed here.

"We are small."


"We shall look at things!"

Well of course, that's only natural.

"That is all."

Then they brushed past him into the Embassy and began looking quite energetically.


"Yes Sir, I'll be right on it Sir, Mini Poppets at teatime, I've already got it in the schedule. You should be on your way Sir."

"How . . . . .? Oh Dear. I'm really rather late. "

Alastair came down the stairs with a selection of mini sandwiches and a small pot of tea putting it down infront of the fireplace for the new arrivals and shooed the Ambassador out the door. "Here Sir, take my grandfather's pocket watch with you. It should protect you against randomly punctual royalty."

And the Ambassador found himself walking down the street suddenly feeling much better about things. Perhaps this was what Attaches were for, when reality suddenly changed radically right underneath you? It really did make it better to have one. He did wonder where the Mini Poppets came from though. He hoped they would like it here. Despite the risks of assimilation he most certainly did.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This Will Fix it

"Hmmn, she's sick again, how tiresome that must be for her. Some strawberries should help."

"Don't be silly, she should have Whipped Cream, it fixes everything."

"Strawberries have anti-oxidants and Vitamin C, what good will Whipped Cream do her?"

"It's pretty and it tastes good. See. And she's just sick again,  she doesn't have cancer. Just bad luck with bacteria this month."

"It does look prettier this way."

"Told you so."

"Something's missing though. I don't really think this will do it."

"You may be right, but what's missing?" 

"We Know."

"It is Mandatory. We shall get started immediately. This will fix it."

"Well, if they're going to do that, we should certainly do this."

"Hey! That's not healthy!"

"No but it's chocolate and it goes with coffee. It's the rule of 4."

"There's a rule of 4? I don't know that rule."

"Well then you just weren't paying attention. Coffee, chocolate, strawberries, whipped cream. You see how it works?"

"Not really."

"Trust me. The chocolate will make sure that this will fix it"

"Trust you?"

"OK! Everyone ready? Let's call her down - she'll be good as new in no time, or at least happier."

"Shouldn't she be writing for the Embarrassed Embassy tonight?  She might not get to it if we interrupt her." 

"It's OK. We'll make an announcement. Announcements solve everything that Whipped Cream and chocolate don't cover."

"And Coffee"

"Coffee is Mandatory."



This Blog will be temporarily distracted by Dessert. Normal Blog Functions will resume when Dessert has fixed things.

Thank you.

The Poppets

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Ambassador Celebrates the Fourth with Me

Yesterday I was happy. It was a very good day and it was uncomplicated.  Light and water and music and fire danced together at the end of it. Conversation was pleasant, food was sublime, pace was unhurried, the world was Outside. My Very Dearest Friend said that was a side effect of spending the afternoon walking around enjoying Pierre Dupont's back yard.  He is an eminently wise man.

We had planned to spend the day at Longwood Gardens which has a wonderful music program and world renown lighted fountains that have fireworks during the summer synched with their musical program. It is a perfect solution - there are only three thousand people permitted on the grounds, you get to spend the full day in the gardens and conservatory and there is excellent food on the premises with many of the ingredients grown on the grounds. This was our second trip for the event and for the gardens and like all things seconded, you learn from the firsts. 

Of course when you do things the second time you get new firsts too. Like fresh blueberry lemonade. It's a wonderful first. 

We decided to start our day there at noon more or less and asked which Poppets would like to join us. The Most Adventerous Red of course was all for it but the Ambassodor felt he didn't really understand the holiday enough to know what to do at the Embassy so he'd really rather be a guest if we didn't mind. Of course we did not. Winter thought it would be lovely to look at all the flowers, maybe there would be something they could use in Poppetropolis or the garden for the House. When we got to the grounds we stopped at the cafeteria which amazed us with the food and sat down at the outdoor cafe with the map to plot our course and stake out the best spots as soon as we were allowed to put down our blankets for the fireworks.

The Most Adventurous Red was slightly distracted by the fresh berry parfait and the most amazing creme fraise I've ever had including in Paris.

The Poppets were thrilled with the idea that there was an Idea Garden, so My Very Dearest Friend, my Perfectly Normal Husband and I all set off with the Poppets to see what the Idea Garden meant. 

The Idea Garden was actually 14 kinds of wonderful, it was put together by the professionals at Longwood but was meant to be able to give you usable ideas for your gardens at home.  Some of the ideas were fun, like interactive water features in your backyard. You can make them yourself with some effort and some help. 


Some of the ideas were BIG! Like sculpture and intricate hedge grooming but with minimal elements to keep it reasonable to maintain.


Some of the ideas were small. Like potted gardens for places with concrete, balconies and patios.

Then we wandered past ground covers and perennials, annuals and sustainment gardens. We discussed in depth the issues of entropy and irises and appreciated the immensity of the Idea Garden while moving on to the the Chime Tower, the Topiary Garden, the Flowered Walks. We stumbled on a Garden full of angles and built around Time. 

We climbed cathedral treehouses overlooked meadows, studied trees as per our invitation to do so. We turned a corner thinking we knew what type of thing we were going to see and saw this instead:

We decided that there are somethings that wouldn't make being ridiculously rich seem like such a bad thing. The Italian Water Garden at Longwood it one of them. Lest you think that it is a rich man paying for copies of things he aspires to you should know that Mr. Dupont was a chemical engineer and graduate of MIT and he designed and engineered all of the waterworks himself. When you go there you are participating in his version of kinetic art. He most likely inspired Disney since his waterworks predate the parks. 

We dined at the Terrace Gardens and fell in love with the Mushroom and Leek soup. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a tasting menu with wine pairings after several hours of perusing the achievement of years of passion, planning and effort, I strongly recommend you put yourself in the chef's hands and say "yes".

It's odd, how last week I got a tiny bit of myself back in the city, surrounded with the peices of myself that get softened for people outside the city, and this week it was the gardens, not really nature but the collaboration between man and nature that Longwood represents. I wished for it to be slightly less populated so the garden could be walked through peacefully, but I loved all the languages and accents and clothing passing us in the gardens, women in saris and the new maxi dresses looked so lovely and real.

I am terribly patriotic, although I know how unfashionable it is to express it through joy instead of anger. I loved that people from all over the areas my son had studied were in these gardens in Pennsylvania waiting for sound and light and celebration for this country where me and my children are welcome, when there are many other places where we are not. Even now.

For hours the numb didn't even threaten, the peaceful joy you don't have to stretch for was there. Even the battery of the camera running out did not deter the Poppets from having their adventures. They have them even when no one records it, they find them in the least expected places living only in the memories and stories of those of us who travel with them. They found this in the conservatory . . . . 

And then with the realization of the absence of pain, we joined our 3000 fellow celebrants. One of whom sitting near us recorded the performance of explosions and ingenuity. The music was beautiful, the sentiment was unifying and I had a day I can hold on to when the grey threatens again. 

The video is a bit long and the camera shows the smoke a bit more than we saw it live but you will get the idea of the piece, so Thank You to our neighbor on the benches.

I smiled like a 10 year old through the whole program. I felt connected, having met one of the Fireworks designers earlier in the day when we bonded over mushroom soup.

And then it was time to return home. However Winter and the Ambassador had found the very thing that had been plaguing us at Poppetroplis. We have finally found the perfect conservatory for the Skeleton for his flower shop. An epic effort was made to reclaim it from the gift shop with the press of 3000 people all trying to exit through the same area the shop was in. Our six month quest now over, it has met with Skeletal approval and is being examined for modification. He is almost as happy as the Tiny Alien was with his exosuit. It's Independence Day for him!

I have no faith in my ability to hold one wonderful day, so I fought all my practical instincts down and composted them.  Plants need a mix of things in their soil to thrive - my PH balance may come from cities, but some of my roots need beauty and sunshine as well. I joined the Gardens, they are an hour away, but they will be worth it for more days like yesterday. 

Sometimes I really do love civilization, for all it's faults it has great good as well. And Mushroom Soup too. And Poppets on the 4th of July.

Life's not bad at all.