Saturday, March 03, 2012

March Madness is FIRST Regional Competition and 2102 Team Paradox

The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation, Maria and Suki want everyone to know that we are going on a journey through time and space, to a place where you too can know the satisfaction of meeting the S.T.E.A.M.M. future, today!

Where: Valley View Casino Center (formerly San Diego Sports Arena)
When: Saturday/Sunday, 9:00 to 6:00
What: ROBOTS + Basketball
Why: "Because you want your mind blown away." Well put, Andy C.!

Spirited, Inspiring FIRST 2102 Team Paradox will be there, in the stands, in the pits, and on the court of Rebound Rumble!
This is for Robotics!
For Science!
For Technology!
For Engineering!
For Art! For Music!
For Math!
For high school students who have a passion for learning!
We are yellow on top, red on the bottom and Paradox all over for S.T.E.A.M.M.

Thank you, teachers, mentors, parents, volunteers, sponsors, and dedicated students, who through their passion, time, creativity, brilliant minds, and robo-hearts, have given to this team. Today, we cheer for everyone!

Go Robotics! Go Team San Diego! GO FIRST! GO FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!!!


Lady Betty O.

Friday, March 02, 2012

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Birthday Battle

This day marks the anniversary of your birth.
In your honor, I will do battle with you on the field of glory!

Actually, what I heard Maria say is, "Happy birthday, William. Wanna have a battle?" And even though William had just finished a round of sword and cudgel clashing with Max, he accepted Maria's earnest and heartfelt offer.

Calling with full volume, I could hear Maria repeating her battle cry: "Happy... birthday... William!" And then as she charged toward him, "Fus ro dah!"

A three-way battle of unrelenting force, yes.
I will refrain from tearfully, joyfully, extremely emotionally recalling William's birth and every precious milestone since. Just know that I am happy, proud, and grateful to see this day, and I look forward to many celebrations to come.

Happy Birthday, William, and may any obstacles that arise be conquered by your wit, intelligence, kindness, dedication, and true heart.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Alex's walls, scraps and pages... his thoughts in ink and graphite.

::Wall Paper::

Five years ago, I brought home a book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, because it looked like the kind of book that simply belonged in our home. Illustration, words, invention, automatons... these are like the air we breath... we live on this. And between the covers, we found even more to embrace: dedication, faith, perseverance, the exquisite beauty of our ability to imagine and create, to invent.

Dear Mr. Selznick, thank you for sharing your art, the words and images you brought to life before our eyes and imagination. Your book is a delight.

::Pirate Chat::

Do you know that almost possessive feeling that can seep into your heart when you love something, when you connect to art, invention, creativity? When the connection stirs your core, and you want to shelter what you have found, and ensure it's sacred uniqueness... keep it from being poorly represented, overexposed? Those feelings and thoughts certainly crept into our consciousnesses when we realized someone was bound to make this dear book into a movie.

::Telephone Operator::

We did not want The Invention of Hugo Cabret misrepresented in a movie. We dreaded an uncanny valley treatment of the characters, like what The Polar Express suffered: "In reviewing The Polar Express in 2004, reviewer Paul Clinton references his uncanny valley response directly: "Those human characters in the film come across as downright... well, creepy. So The Polar Express is at best disconcerting, and at worst, a wee bit horrifying."" <--- true, that.

We didn't want the emotions trivialized, diminished. We didn't want the invention and reverence lost to the kind of flashy and empty celebrity... all effects, that are superficial and insincere. No glitter, please. No moon-eyed-over-hyped romance, no gas jokes, and spare us a movie "made" for children, where adults assume childhood lacks patience or intellect.

Yes, we had high hopes, great expectations, and the anticipation was tense.

::Page torn from physics notebook::

We went as a family to see the movie, Hugo. We do a lot, everything? as a family. It's occurring to me that this is almost a paradoxical concept, because it is obvious that we should do things "as a family" and yet at times, in our culture, it seems necessary to distinguish, acknowledge, those distinct things that we do together, with each other... pardon me, I digress. I believe I meant to emphasize that we do not often make a significant difference between the interests of our children and our own, and very many times it is the interests of our children that motivate our activities and choices... hence Love and Rockets, and 2102 Team Paradox, and The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation. We saw Hugo, together, and we loved it, together.

Our family has many interests. We feel passionately about how things are made, the origins and process of art and invention. William spends as much time watching how a movie was developed as the final production itself. We make movies, and build robots, we paint at the dining table, we melt, burn, stitch, wire, build, and play, we would go out of state to support a high school robotics competition... new roofs can wait. I get very excited about facilitating and supporting the passions and interests of children who want to know more, who are curious, who have an idea that maybe something new can be made.

There are people whom we admire, because they have pursued their art and invention with inspiring passion and devotion... Nikola Tesla, Temple Grandin, George Méliès, Leonardo da Vinci, Gever Tulley, Tasha Tudor, Alberto Santos-Dumont... to name but a few. And I don't think any of these people had the least notion of seeking fame or riches... they are, were, simply following their own curiosity and interests. Some become famous or popular, but my favorite celebrities are the people who work to make changes for the world, who teach and inspire for the sheer joy of making a beautiful sound, or supporting opportunities for everyone, young and experienced.

::Charcoal Life Drawing::

Dear Mr. Scorsese,
Thank you for respecting the writing and art of Brian Sleznick. Thank you for making a movie worthy of our time and interest, and respectful of craftsmanship, history, and art. You have distinguished yourself as an intelligent, visionary man who can bring together creative and talented people, to work together for a purpose that goes beyond being merely entertaining and into a realm of reverent invention, art, and humanity. Thank you for treating children as intelligent beings who can endure pain, overcome strife, and excel. Thank you for letting this movie reflect life, where age and circumstance do not have to dictate what is possible. You have upheld the truth that, our abilities and choices are greater, when we support and believe in one another. Our family is admiring and appreciative of what you and your peers have accomplished. Thank you.

::Ink, Mother and Child, exterior view::

William and I are bringing home the movie Hugo, today. Later, this week we'll be sharing a screening, when we celebrate William's twenty-first birthday.

Alex's art is here, because I've been photographing his art for his portfolio, and so my camera is full of his drawings from recently, and years ago. All of these images make me happy, for what they are, and for what they make me recall, and feel. Ask Alex who his influences are, and he'll name several people and things, including the one he considers his first teacher... his brother, William. I am so thankful for the resources and opportunities we have, and especially for the wonderful family I have to share them with.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Biergarten Joy Spills Over


We have great friends, who host a great party, in their biergarten. Everyone is invited. Everyone. These Biergarten Parties have never failed to be less than amazing. This one, the first of the new year, was no exception.

The first time we made it to one of Michal and Michael's garden parties,
Maria danced. Well, Maria almost always dances, but this time she danced in front of dozens of strangers and new acquaintances. It was a birthday dance, in honor of Michael's birthday, and it inspired the planning, and the construction of an outdoor dance floor-stage.

::Michael, Michal, Jack::

When Michael and Michal announced the date for this party, Maria immediately began planning her return to the stage, this time with a ballet. She chose her dress, from her well-stocked costume box. She found a silky scarf, pink gloves, and flowers on combs, for her hair. And she rehearsed. A lot. She illustrated every step of the ballet she would do for the party. Sometimes, I can see where she gets her interests, abilities, and times like this she just amazes me with her own sensibilities and dedication.

We brought her change of outfit to the party, and after awhile Michal started asking for "the dance," so I was getting ready to help Maria change, but all of her friends gathered in, and at once we could see that we had a pink-tulle-twirly-floral shortage. Four ballerinas, and only one outfit. I dashed home, and rummaged through our thrifted treasure... tutus, scarves, veils, a yard of tulle, a floral wreath, a lei... anything that could be made into fairy-tale magic. And it was magical. In no time we had four girls in their finest, and ready to perform.

Can you see Eli, keeping his hands warm by the fire? He and Maria arranged the music for her dance. How many ballets have you seen, choreographed to original banjo music? Eli and Maria are quite the cutting edge talents.

Just like she illustrated, and practiced + three impromptu dancers. They were adorable. Each dancer in her signature ensemble. Behind me: family and friends taking pictures and loving the show.

Did you see him? Alex, peering 'round the corner of the barn?
They've been busy planning another party; a massive, multi-birthday celebration, with details and touches that defy description. I am sworn to secrecy, so I will stop now.

Besides dress-up, dancing, music, and great food, we also find engaging conversations, games, new friends to meet, and a relaxing time to catch-up.

::Filippo, Geoff, Paul::

Speaking of new friends... we met Filippo, Karen, Luca and Cecilia at Maria's school, and I felt pretty sure they would appreciate being at this gathering. And do you remember Paul? Do you know he lives here, now? That's right he is the scout, moved south, and preparing the way for Janece and Amira to come soon, too. It was providential, his timing, arriving as we were on our way to the party. I cannot think of a better way to make yourself at home, in a new town, than to be at a Biergarten Party, meeting all of these amazing people.

And not only amazing people, there were also the amazing hens, to meet.

And foods to eat.

Is there any better way to get lots of delicious food, than a potluck? Everyone brings something special, favored, good. We brought pasta, minestrone, and shaved ice.

Max made shaved ice for anyone in the mood for an icy treat with homemade syrup. I made a mixed berry syrup, but my favored flavor was the lemon-mint-chile... it was not hot-spicy, but it did have more pep than your typical lemonade.

Here is Michael, making a good point.

And here is Miguel Angel, making a very good point, about conservation, our health, and the health of our planet. This young man is an author, and a passionate activist. I hope you will follow this link, to find his book, and buy one for yourself or your public library. His organization is planting ten trees for every book sold, and this year he hopes to have planted ten thousand trees! We were all beyond impressed listening to him give his speech about how he is making a difference to change the world. I am inspired to help him fulfill his vision. More trees!

He inspired us with his eloquence and dedication, and then we had the pleasure of singing Happy Birthday to this bright twelve year old visionary.

It was cold. It's cold today, too. Gosh, I wonder if it's finally winter? The fire ring is always a nice place to gather, but when the sun slipped away, we slipped into the house... for dinner, and more music.

Seems we have quite a few musicians in our midst. And Jessica came by with a guitar from her organization, Guitars In The Classroom, so we enjoyed several mini-concerts. Wood-burning stove, hot soup, live music, children playing, and friends keeping company... a very nice way to enjoy the evening.

Jessica sang, too. She has a strong, lovely voice. And the little children danced. The evening was simply pleasant, easy.

::Michal and Kelly::

::Theresa and Christina Diable Canard... a FIRST 1266 Devil Ducky::

Michal: Where is Geoff?

Natalie: He's back at the metal shop.

Michal: But... that was like three hours ago. He said he was coming back here.

Natalie: That's robotics...

Theresa: FIRST?!

Natalie: FIRST!

Natalie and Theresa, brand new friends, smile knowingly, and high five!

There's more. I met some very special people. I feel as though my family has grown. It's wonderful. In fact, the fun continued throughout the weekend, with backyard yoga, and more visits, barnyard plans, planting seedlings, and an unrehearsed Academy Awards-dinner party. Honestly, I don't think of myself as a wildly social being, but you wouldn't believe me after reading this post!

Sorting All the Goodness

I am just beginning to edit photographs from one day, this past weekend.
What a day.
What fun.
Good news, and happy endings.
Music, laughter, reunions.
And sharing.
Isn't it wonderful how some good things are even better shared?

Now, I am just trying to figure out how to share all of these images, and the memories that go with them. Honestly, I am still savoring the moments, lingering over the stories, the warmth. So, before I even attempt to post about Michal and Michael's first Biergarten Party of the new year, I am going to do a little more processing.

But I will leave you with a small sampling of the loveliness we have enjoyed.

Some moments that leave me feeling blessed, and thankful.

It was the kind of day that made the world smaller, circles bigger, and everything a bit brighter.

Zoltar's Daughter

She is Zoltar's daughter. Her mama is a little Silky, and her papa was a little bantam we called Zoltar. She flies, just like Zoltar did. She is nimble, quick, and when she wants out... she gets out.

We read all the name suggestions from Snowball to Quazithorp the Omnipotent. We loved the snack-cake names, like Dolley Madison, and Twinkie. I had to veto Geoff's suggestion of Ho-Ho. The children and I debated. Geoff stood by his choice, and we even called out names, waiting for a sign. Max and I were going over the names, and discussing our little hen's nature, how much she reminded us of Zoltar, when suddenly the name became obvious, and right.

Other Little Debbie is Zoe. It means life. It's Greek. When Zoltar was a chick, and we hoped a hen, we named her/him Zoe, then made the name more masculine when we saw which way his tail feathers were growing.

In honor and memory of our brave and cocky-little-dude, his daughter will take his first name. She is a lively and dear little Zoe, with a big spirit.

I think Betty agrees, lively is an apt description, and Zoe is the right name.

Thank you for playing along. Next year, when Geoff gets the big-fat hens he wants, we can have more fun thinking up names.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Chicken By Any Other Name

Today is the day we give Other Little Debbie a name all her own. Since friends noticed some distinguishing features between Little Debbie and her sister, Other Little Debbie, we are going to choose a name for the chica with the big lipstick. We are calling the comb that comes around her beak "lipstick."

Here is the dash that I see every morning, when I open the shark cage. All the chicas come sprinting out. All, except Zelda, who sits in her nest, pining for eggs that can hatch.

Already out of the frame is Puff, racing for second are Little Debbie, Lady Betty Oprington, She-bot Mini-Bot, and Penny. Other Little Debbie is climbing out of the shark cage, and Kamen Mini-Bot has just hit the dirt. They are all hoping I will share some cracked corn with them, then release them out into the big yard.

"Well?" Betty asks, "Have you decided what to name her?"

Betty seems caught in a game of ring-around-the grand dame. Little Debbie follows Puff, and "____________" is right on her tail. If I don't let them out, to explore abroad, they will retreat to the sunniest patch of the yard, and commence with their dust baths, then mosey over to the compost pile and see what's cookin'. All, except Zelda, who sits in her nest, pining for eggs that can hatch, and "__________" who is a daring explorer and will find yet another way of giving me the slip, and escape into the big yard. What we have is a brave escape artist with wanderlust, and she needs a name.

Stay tuned.