Mural Making

ATTENTION:This blog was made by Indigo M.

I have been painting a mural on my bedroom wall since we came to this house, but have not finished until now. This is what it looks like:


It’s a forest! Here are one of the birds:


And here are the ants that the birds eat and the grass that they hide in:


And here is the other bird:



P.S. I have told Mama not to call me Mookie any more.

P.P.S. I am very proud of my blog because it is my first. I wonder what the computer thinks of it.


Multicultural cooking

img_7422It’s Mookie’s cooking night, and she asked to make potato blintzes. Bubbe, take note! How many generations of blintz-makers is this? I hope no great-great-grandmothers will turn in their Old Country resting places due to our adding herbs to the mashed potatoes. Mookie served them with the green bean recipe she developed herself, and the meal was delicious.

While posing, she took care to display the band-aid on her left arm. Every cook has stories of injuries endured in the course of duty, and this one is a burn on her arm where she accidentally touched it to the edge of the frying pan when we were making the crepes. Ow. It will have stopped hurting by morning. This meal was also notable for her having faced her fear of the immersion blender. She’s never said a word about the one we have at home, but this one freaks her out. Maybe it is louder. She used it anyway.

img_7420It turns out that the comal, so common in Mexican homes and for that matter on the streets of Oaxaca, is the perfect device for the final stage of blintz-making. Here in the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Eastern European Jewish and Mexican cooking meet. Yum.


Mookie made this castle over the course of several days. It reminds me of Bongo’s Dream House (see: The Big Book of Hell, Matt Groening), especially when she explains what all the elements are. Crocodiles in the moat, gardens, tree houses, fountains, art rooms . . . I want to live there! I have my tower all picked out.


What is success?

Yeah, I posted this article on Facebook, with its irresistible headline, Want to Raise Successful Daughters? Science Says Nag the Heck Out of Them. And I made the requisite joke (“I’m on it”), because I have a daughter, and not surprisingly, she complains about my nagging. But can we get serious for a moment? The researchers’ definition of “success” is so far from mine I barely recognize it. (Fortunately, I’m not alone–all praise for Challenge Success!)

Sure I want our daughter to be able to stay employed, and I hope she doesn’t get pregnant until she wants to. But “attend college” and “have high-paying job” don’t even make it into my top ten wishes for her successful life. Here they are, in no particular order:

Be loving, my darling. You give your heart so readily. I hope you always do, even as you resist anybody’s attempt to take advantage of your openness.

Be happy, and be okay with not always being happy.

Take care of yourself, take care of others, let others take care of you when you need it.

Do something–lots of somethings–to make the world a better place for your having been in it.

Weep for the suffering in the world and rejoice in the beauty in the world.

Challenge yourself: learn things you didn’t know and try things that scare you. Don’t stop!

Be honest.

Don’t tolerate injustice, even when you aren’t the one getting the short end of the stick–do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Be courageous. Courage takes many forms, but often what will require the most bravery is questioning your own assumptions.

Wherever you glimpse meaning, pursue it wholeheartedly.

If along the way, you want to go to college, Mommy and I will help you do it, and if you want to get out of a job that others might call “dead-end,” we’ll be here to cheer you on. But I don’t give a rat’s patootie about job titles and diplomas. I will be happy and proud beyond words if you are successful in the ways I’ve just listed. If I ever nag you about lesser things, like making the honor roll or pursuing a promotion, do me a favor: just roll your eyes and show me this blog post.

Visual interpretation of music

In Oaxaca our only music players are our laptops. So I often pull something up on YouTube just to listen, paying no attention to the video, slide show, or whatever is on top of it. That was the case when I typed “beethoven quartet” into YouTube early this morning and picked the first one that popped up. I noticed it was some kind of animation, which I figured was gimmicky, but I didn’t care. I was making art, I was in a late-Beethoven, chamber-music kind of mood, and I wasn’t even going to look at the screen.

Until I did. And it was riveting. After a few minutes I called to Mookie and gave her one of the earbuds. She was so taken with it that I gave her the other one, too, and went back to my art, in silence, smiling. A few minutes later, this child who says she “isn’t that into music” except perhaps the Beatles said, “Look at this–you have to see how it does slurs.”

The animator is Stephen Malinowski, and he has a YouTube channel with many more animations of music he loves.

Disadvantages of Oaxaca (English version)

(I wrote this last week as a Spanish assignment. The Spanish version is here.)

Mookie loves Oaxaca, but she misses her friends. I would too. It’s easier for me and Mookie’s Mommy; we each brought our best friend along, and many of our other friends are people with whom we usually communicate by phone and internet even when we are in San Francisco, so we don’t miss them more than usual. It’s different in the case of a nine-year-old girl who is accustomed to seeing her friends daily in person, not on Facebook.

She was hoping that at least one of her friends would come for a visit, but the summer went by, and now they have returned to school. At first, when we suggested that she chat with a friend via Skype, she said no–clearly, Skype doesn’t come up to standard. She wants to play together and show them her current house. But we set up some Skype calls anyway, and now she really likes seeing her friends that way.

Mookie also misses Japanese food. For one dinner, I made miso soup (free advice: nori cannot substitute for wakame–it falls apart), and Mookie made sushi for another dinner, but they didn’t come out like they do in a restaurant. But yesterday, Joy found a Japanese restaurant here in Oaxaca! We are going there for lunch today.