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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Legalese for Parents

When I had to give up my job as a litigation associate for Beadboy1, little did I know that the legal profession would not let me go. I'm not talking about the legal issues Mr. Beadgirl and I discussed with regard to estate planning or Beadboy1's city benefits, or even the unofficial legal advice I've given friends and family over the years. Instead, I've been keeping track of the legal terms that apply to parenting.

Adverse Possession
: "A method of acquisition of title to real property."* Statutory requirements vary by state, but in general it must be hostile (you claim the property as yours, not the owner's), exclusive (only you have access to the property), continuous (for the prescribed period of time), and open (you don't try to hide what you are doing) (BAR-BRI graduates will recognize the mnemonic ECHO).

Beadboy2 displayed a remarkable grasp (heh) of this concept when he once grabbed something of mine, clutched it to his chest, and said "That's not yours! It's mine!"

Attractive Nuisance: A condition or thing which is dangerous to children, but which is "attractive," causing the children to want to play in or with it.*

Almost everything in a house is an attractive nuisance to a toddler or pre-schooler -- electronics, outlets, knives, medications, needles, wine glasses (and their contents), appliances, and cats.

Forum Shopping: "Such occurs when a party attempts to have his action tried in a particular court or jurisdiction where he feels he will receive the most favorable judgment or verdict."*

While both have engaged in this, Beadboy1 is particularly adept when it comes to that extra cookie or glass of juice I've said "no" to; once he even ordered me to "ask Daddy." Mr. Beadgirl has fallen for it a shameful number of times.

*Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

More Flowers . . .

to add to my collection.

The poppy pattern from you-know-who:
I used red and black silk, with two yellow buttons on either side to hold the flower in place on the wire. (The picture is blurry; sadly, the best photo of the batch, and I'm too tired to keep trying.) (Perhaps that's why it was blurry.)

I found these instructions for rickrack flowers while browsing, a fortuitous discovery because I just happened to have a yard of jumbo purple rickrack and no particular idea of what to do with it:
I think I might have some lime green rickrack, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves

I absolutely loved Kostova's first novel, The Historian, a modern take on vampires (specifically Dracula) that tells a great mystery while retaining the horror and symbolism of the vampire myth (no dreamboat vamps here), so I was eager to get her second book, The Swan Thieves. It's funny that I read it after re-reading Possession, because they share many similarities. Both involve Victorian artists who are caught between their passion and social constraints, and modern day pairs who feel compelled to solve the mystery of their 19th century counterparts. Both address the tension women face between being creators and being muses (or mothers). And both are told through personal narratives, journals, letters, and so on (a structure Kostova also used in her first book).

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book as much as The Historian. Some of it, to be fair, is because I simply don't find the subject matter that carries the story -- painting -- as engaging as the Dracula myth, despite the effective way Kostova described the sensations of painting. But the real problem was that I could not get myself to care about the characters she created. The story centers around a painter, Robert, who tries to vandalize a work of art in a museum, and refuses to say why. He is the stereotypical tortured artist, self-centered and almost completely blind to the suffering and sacrifices of people around him, and yet everyone who meets him falls under his spell. Because this is a book we cannot see his art, which is supposed to be brilliant and moving, and because he refuses to tell his story we never get a chance to really understand him. As a result, I felt little interest in Robert, and I could not understand why the other characters were so drawn to him (surely someone, somewhere, would get as impatient with him as I would?). Robert does suffer from a mental disorder, but Kostova keeps that diagnosis a secret from us, and never makes clear how much of his personality is attributable to that, how much to his natural temperament, and how much to the fact that everyone lets him get away with bad behavior.

Moreover, the book relies heavily on the reminisces of the psychiatrist trying to help Robert, Robert's ex-wife, and Robert's ex-girlfriend. These passages are overwritten, almost precious, and far too perfect to be believable as memories. The result was a certain sameness despite the fact they they were supposed to be very different characters. (This occasionally happened in The Historian, too, but I enjoyed the story too much to care.) Add to that the fact that throughout the book I was two steps ahead of the protagonists in figuring out the central mystery, and you have a disappointing book. A sophomore slump, I guess. I'll be interested to see what Kostova writes next.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Boy, time passes when you get out of the habit of posting. It didn't help that I had no particular project to write about.

To celebrate spring, I made some crepe paper irises from a Martha Stewart kit I picked up a few years ago (it's shameful how often that name comes up here):
The technique was fairly simple -- use the templates to cut out leaf and petal shapes from the crepe paper, form the petals (the crepe paper stretches in neat ways, making it fun to play with), and use floral tape to attach the components to florists' wire. My results don't look as iris-y as those on the cover of the kit, and the purple crepe paper is very . . . bright, but it still makes a pretty bouquet for the mantle.

I still have three light purple irises to make when I can snatch a few more minutes. Also, the kit came with way more templates than advertised, so if anyone wants the extras, just let me know.

Jesus Christ, Superfrog

The title says it all. I would pay good money to see it.