Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor, Nor Does One Simply Make a Hobbit Costume

Part I.

Walking into Mordor.  It sounds easy enough, lovely even.  Hey, maybe you'll even find a cute cafe along the way!  If you have read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy however, then you know the difficult trek that lies ahead.  As Boromir famously says, "One does not simply walk into Mordor".  Turns out, one does not simply make a hobbit costume either.  Oh, and there are no cute cafes along the way.

Every year I have made our Halloween costumes (poorly).  As with many things, my vision of what I am capable of and what I am actually capable of are... well, disproportionate.  Nevertheless, I have always been committed to creating costumes at home.  In the past*  we have gone as mummies, Daphne and Scooby Doo, a family of aliens, angry celery, a rainbow, swiss army knife and a ninja.  At the height of my thematic creativity, the boys went as mailboxes, I went as a postcard from Alaska,  and dad was the mailman.

This year, Ben and I hope to go as Hobbits.  Ben will be Frodo and I will be one of the sad looking extras from The Shire.  Leo, originally interested in going as Legolas, revealed at the last minute that he really, really wants to be a Star Wars character.  After researching "How to Make a Storm Trooper Costume" online, I came to the uncharacteristically wise conclusion that making two hobbit costumes between now and Halloween is really all I can hope to manage.  I relented and, with a mildly broken heart, bought Leo this.   The good news: It fits!

The dawning of a new day for the Ramirez family,  
as evidenced by an exceptionally thrilled Leo.  

With renewed confidence after my successful purchase, Ben and I began working on our costumes in earnest. What does one really need to look like a hobbit besides the leathery feet and pointy ears?  With luck we found these things called "Funny Feet", drew veins on them, and then went at them with spray paint.

Please don't spray mom in the face.  

Who needs help from Gandalf?  We're doing pretty well on our own.  

Stay tuned for thrilling Part II, where we add hair to the feet and figure out what to wear! 

*Can't resist adding the Angry Celery.

*Or the mummy.

Is it my imagination, or does Scooby have a wedgie?  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why I Love Nancy and Junot Diaz

Those of you who know me know that I frequently develop what I call "writer crushes".  (I also develop strong musician crushes, but lately my obsession with the the extraordinary kd lang has left me little room or time to expand in that arena).  

Some of my crushes are fleeting (Mark Helprin comes to mind, sorry bookies), some enduring (Alice Munro, William Styron, David Foster Wallace, Naguib Mafouz).  But lately, and far above all others, I have developed a long,  kd lang-esque level of fascination with Junto Diaz.  Yes -  2012 MacArthur Fellow,  Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winning,  2012 National Book Award finalist, fellow Rutgers University graduate,  MIT Professor (MIT Professor!) of creative writing, raised in New Jersey (my sort of home-state) - that Junot Diaz

So you can imagine my excitement when yesterday, after listening to Kathryn Harrison read from her latest book, Enchantments, at the  Brattleboro Literary Festival with a few women from my book group, my friend Nancy said with a sly smile,  "Rita, I have a picture I want to send you."  My first thought was that it was some god-awful picture of me for I am incredibly, verifiably, unphotogenic.  

 I was floored when she presented me with this: 

Nancy and Junot talking it up and obviously having a great time in NYC.*  

And this:
The Inscription:  

Para Rita
Con Mucho Carino
Mi Amor
Junot Diaz

The Translation:

To Rita
With Much Love
My Darling
Junot Diaz

(I have not felt this close to a writer since that time in Alaska when I slept in the same bed as Barbara Kingsolver).  

As thrilled as I am  - and please believe me,  I am thrilled -  to have a book signed to me by Junot (I feel he and I are on a first name basis now, given the intimacy of his personal note and the Rutgers connection) I am more astounded by Nancy.  I have a friend who would selflessly take time out of a NYC trip without her daughters to stand in line to have JD sign a book for ME,  in Spanish - not even getting one for herself.  I repeat, she did this for ME... How do I say thank-you for that?  

My love for Junot may eventually fade.  Another writer will stun me and make his or her way into my heart for a while, leading me to buy a bunch of books and spend many early morning hours drinking too much coffee while I internet-stalk his or her career, reviews, and public speaking schedule.  No matter how powerful those crushes may become however,  I can guarantee that every time I think of Junot now,  or recommend his books, or see his name in some article, or pass his books on my bookshelf, or read that he has been honored with yet another literary award, I will think of Nancy and feel a twang of the crush I feel for her today.  

*There was some debate with the photographer as to whether or not Junot actually kissed Nancy's cheek.   Nancy was sure of it and that is good enough for me.  Therefore - although I know it is probably too much to ask -  in the vein of Marcia Brady and Davey Jones, I am hoping that she never washes her cheek again.  Just the one side.  

Friday, October 12, 2012


Welcome to
Days In Vermont

For months now, we have been thinking about creating a blog.  Our idea started when Ben (shown below - now much older and bigger) decided to create a library in his room.  His library is called Trunk Full-O-Books - more on this later (Trunk Full-O-Books).   From there, we realized that we actually have a lot to share.  We want to talk about books, but also we want to talk about the many things we find interesting, and funny and concerning and exciting and... highly annoying, and scary, and hopeful.  I don't think that adequately sums up the point of this blog, but it does lead us in a direction we are willing to wander for now.  

No blog of ours would be complete without a picture of another significant member of our family, Leo.   For your viewing pleasure we present Leo*,  reading a book, of course:

*He too, has grown a bit.

I am a mom living in Southern Vermont with my husband and two boys.  I am a lot of things besides a mom, but that is how I identify myself above all else.  There will be more about me later, I think... this blog is admittedly a loose endeavor.  I am a notoriously poor correspondent, which belies the fact that I  am often overwhelmed with love for my family and friends.  Like all people, my day to day life is full of responsibility and commitment - but I am a dreamer, a reader, a cancer "survivor" and a thinker.  As a mom,  I have great hope for my boys and for myself.   In my small way, I want to help them understand (while constantly reminding myself)  that greatness is fleeting and so joy must be found in the day-to-day.  In an odd way, this following video captures just that. I hope my boy and I feel this way at least once a day - even if for a moment.   Enjoy.

The Joy I Seek