Nov 30, 2011

Four Things

I've lost all hope in ever getting any sort of customer service from a store with more than 2,000 square feet. I'm shopping, hence forth at small stores, literally.


A first grade boy told me a story in the car the other day, it started with alien robots and wrapped up on Mars with farting and dinosaurs.  I encouraged him to make it into a comic book.


That all said about small stores, this presumably big store makes a wonderful commercial :


Jack needs these pants


Another Cherry Vale Mall Response

Jenny - I am not clear what your intended use is. Many uses can be acceptable if cleared thru the mall management office. Feel free to contact me as the need arises.

 Mark Peterson
 General Manager
 CherryVale Mall
 815-332-2451 x.228


Mark, I was at the mall on Thursday, November 25th with my mother, a friend, and my two small children. I was using my iphone to record people singing an impromptu version of "This Land is Your Land" when mall security approached me and said policy was "No filming" and I must stop or leave. It was confusing because several other people were recording this event, but I was the only one with several shopping bags, strollers, coffee, phone, and children in hand. The rest of the people recording were men with nothing in hand but a camera. The video of the incident is here    I was unable to find any mention of this strict policy on your website in the Cherry Vale Code of Conduct, so I was looking for a clarification of your use of cameras.

Awaiting your reply,
Houston, Texas


Jenny - mall security is correct in speaking to you regarding filming as prior authorization thru the mall management office would need to have been granted.

Thank you for shopping CherryVale.


First post here
Initial response here

Nov 29, 2011

Occupy Cherry Vale Mall Response

Original Comments:
To Whom It May Concern;
What exactly is the policy on using my camera in your facility? Thank you.


from CherryVale Mall
Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Hi Jenny, the mall's policy is that if you are taking a picture of your family, there is not an issue, multiple pictures or trying to "sneak" a picture at Santa's set are when there are issues, either store proprietary information or the fact that the pictures are sold with Santa visits. Thanks very much for asking and have a wonderful holiday season.


On Friday November 25th I was singled out and asked to stop using my camera by two security guards. I was told it was "Mall Policy" and if I didn't stop I would be asked to leave, while the security guard had her hand on my iphone. I'm confused because several other people were also using their cameras, but I, having my mother, a friend and two small children in tow, one in a stroller, seemed to be an easier target for enforcing the imaginary policy. I was not trying to take a photo of Santa, nor was I stealing any proprietary information. The link to the video of the security guard claiming it is policy and putting her hand on my phone is here Awaiting your response.

Houston, Texas

Nov 25, 2011

Occupy Cherryvale Mall, Rockford, IL on Black Friday

Shortly after eating lunch and taking the children to see Santa, we heard people yelling in the town square of Cherryvale Mall.  We stopped just past the elevator and looked around.  A few years back someone lit themselves on fire in protest at the very same mall so of course like a true American I got my camera out.  I was face to face with the Occupy Rockford movement.  People strolled in calling and responding "Occupy Rockford!" They hung a banner from the second floor mezzanine and read a short paragraph just feet from us.  We were unable to discern much over the din of the holiday shoppers, other than "...We are your friends and neighbors!..." Next the police rushed up and confiscated the banner and stood very close to our neighbors who started to sing "This Land is Your Land."  Then I raised a camera to capture what felt sort of patriotic and sweet and this is what happened.

Other full video here.

Way to welcome out of town visitors Cherryvale Mall!

UPDATE: There is nothing in Cherryvale Mall's Code of Conduct that says anything about taking a video.

Nov 23, 2011

Camping for the Future

I got a new phone.  I love it.  Dan gave it to me right before I left on the long drive to Illinois for turkey, with two kids, a decrepit old dog and a bum knee in the car. I like to think he gave it to me so that if the car broke down I could tell Siri "I need a tow truck" and she would order one up for me, like a small computerized body guard or an obedient domesticated pocket robot assistant.  The idea of domestic robots is exciting to me.  Ten years ago, I named my first robot; Algernon will never know how to do more than vacuum a room, much less tell me what a Wappy Dog is or where to locate one but he is still monumental to me.

I want to keep my new pocket assistant safe, so I decided to find a case, or as I like to think of it a tiny little toddler proof vest.  I went to Best Buy.  To my surprise, there were people in tents on the side walk.  I got excited about talking to some Occupiers; maybe they would ask me not to patronize the corporate box store, maybe they would tell me about all the things in there not made in America, or about how none of the people working inside have the leverage to negotiate decent health insurance.  As I saw the camper's smiling faces, the realization they were camping in preparation for black Friday descended.  It was the exact opposite of what I was anticipating.

I thought about it the whole time I was shopping.  Protesting campers are maced and removed from public space under the guise of safety, but these voracious consuming campers preparing days in advance to storm the gates and trample people, possibly to death, in hopes of consuming more plastic electronics assembled by impoverished children in other countries, the very same items that will later be obsolete and occupy landfills also in other countries, leaching mercury and poisons out into the dirt, washing into the ocean and riding out on the winds young developing lungs breath... these campers are welcomed. (Ok, maybe I didn't think all of that at the time, maybe I was just trying to keep a one year old from falling out of the cart and the brilliant consumerism commentary was discussed and read later on Facebook) but, while I was shopping there was the echoing question of why these campers, but not those and as a result I couldn't buy anything.  I just didn't want to.

Nov 14, 2011


Jack bounces out of bed and climbs upstairs to wake Ella who is already sitting on the side of her bed rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I hobble up the steps as fast as I can to keep anyone from going back to sleep or eating any leggos. After we pick clothes, we all rumble back down to the dining room and eat cereal in various dampnesses while I sip instant coffee. Everyone is officially UP and I lament running on five hours of sleep.  I am a notorious insomniac. While we wait by the window for the neighbor to pick Ella up for school, I peel the tape off my knee and we all peer at the scar underneath. Ella asks me if I am all right and I say the truth, "No it hurts, and it's going to hurt for a while, while it heals." Then her ride is here and she is off to school.  She is bursting about her first Girl Scout meeting and I can hear her already telling everyone in the carpool it is tonight.

Jack sits down in the living room ready to watch his favorite show while working at peeling the tabs on his diaper. I finally help him and upon feeling the open air on his hind side, he takes off running through the kitchen. He makes six or seven giggling laps around the island before he comes back to the living room dancing to the music from the television.  I turn towards the computer to see if I have any e-mail and turn the volume up on NPR. I tune in WNIJ, because I like to hear the news and the voices from Illinois, the same people that have told me things every morning of my adult life, it makes me feel stable.  I hear water hitting the floor behind me and remember Jack isn't wearing anything on his bottom half. I grab a paper towel, wipe up the little puddle and explain to my son again, that if he has to pee he should go to the potty in the bathroom. He seems to be telling me something, perhaps explaining his reluctance, but I don't speak seventeen month old as fluidly as I'd like so I just nod and say, "I see."

He runs to the kitchen and pulls on the refrigerator handles telling me he's ready for something more exciting than dry cereal. I open the door for him and he peruses the eye level shelf where I keep all the Jack friendly foods. He hands me a small crate of blueberries and an avocado. "Good choice" I say and cut a slice of avocado into little squares and put them next to the berries on a plate. While he munches, I get my bagel out of the toaster and spread butter on it. I think; butter in Texas spreads so easily, you don't have to fight with it like you do in Illinois. Up north the butter is never warm enough to spread and you are trying to shave a millimeter from the top so you can put a thin curl of it on you toast to melt and you have to do it while the toast is still warm, so there's a time factor.  If you say, screw it and get a solid square from the end you end up with big divots in your toast as you try to drag the chunk across your breakfast.  This must be why that southern lady, on television, likes butter so much; she never had to fight with it in the morning.

I wonder how long it will take before I stop comparing here and there when a quiet knock at the door drags me from my thoughts.  The neighbor lady I like so much is standing there with a Starbucks in her hand. I say "Come on in" and she says she doesn't have time, but she was having a tough morning and stopped for coffee for herself and thought I should get a fancy coffee too. She hands me a mocha and smiles. I tell myself again, I must do something amazing for their family on Christmas. I'm not sure what, as she out housewives me on a regular basis, so I consider doing a small painting of their house. She compliments my pajamas and I become hyper aware of the fact that I only seem to see people around here when I have no bra on.  I thank her and say we should go to lunch sometimes soon, again vowing in my head to buy lunch for her and she agrees we should go sometime soon.

Next, I'll get dressed and drive to my physical therapy appointment.  I'm hoping there will be a nap after, in which Jack and I snuggle up into a tight knot of chubby limbs and soft curls. I'll lie perfectly still trying to will Jack to sleep while he squirms and kicks and fights off missing a minute of the waking world. When his blinks get longer and longer, I'll know it's alright to drift off.  But first I'll set my alarm for 2:30 to ensure I don't miss picking the children up from school, knowing Jack always wakes me far before the alarm does.

Nov 10, 2011

The Prefect Car Seat

I'm going to buy a new car seat today.  A front facing one so Jack can sit up high on longer drives and see the world.  I went and looked yesterday for one that reclines so when he falls asleep his little head isn't lolling about with every bump and the one I liked was the most expensive one in the store - damn.  So today I'm going over to Once Upon a Child to see if they have that model or one similar, for less.  It needs to be side impact tested, have a five point harness, and recline slightly.  It would be awesome if it also had a cup holder and easy clips so getting Jack in and out isn't always a yoga experiment.  While I'm at it, it'd be stellar if the thing could;
-have a heated and cooled seat depending
-clean itself of crumbled gold fish and raisins
-be antibacterial
-have a vibrate to sleep setting
-only use up the space of one seat
-fold into something portable on wheels so I could take it to the airport
-have quiet little speakers on each side so Jack can listen to Justin Roberts while I listen to NPR
-be less than $100.00

Nov 8, 2011

Stupid Yesterday

Yesterday was stupid.  After closing out the day with three beers, I just don't have the energy to write the narrative, so let me just give you this list of things that yesterday brought to my house in no particular order; dog pee, a broken glass, tiny shards of glass in every corner of the entire kitchen and dining room, poo on the floor (not the dog's,)  dog food scattered across the dining room floor, robot head making instead of homework, three different dinners nobody liked, flying macaroni and cheese, almost non-stop nursing, dog pee, small leggos under my feet, 4 baths (not for me,) a soaking wet bathroom floor, an astonishingly refreshing five minute nap at bedtime (again, not for me,) two bedtime snacks, late night beat-boxing from bed, clean laundry on the floor, broken dishwasher, and dog pee (yes, again!)  All I have to say now is good riddance and Yesterday better run and hide, because if I ever see it around here again I'm going to slap the crap out of it and sick my dog on it and my dog will totally pee all over Yesterday's feet.

Nov 6, 2011

We Like the Biz

Ella: "You know Biz's Beat of the Day on Yo Gabba Gabba?"

Me: "yeah, what about it?"

Ella: "I was thinking his mom must be very proud of him."

Me: "Why is that?"

Ella: "Because he's such a great beat boxer."

Me: "I'm sure she is, Sweetheart."


Nov 5, 2011

Steppin' Out Art Gala

November 3rd 2011 at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, the Steppin' Out Art Gala and Silent Auction.  

Sixteen out of two hundred and fifty artists showed and auctioned their work, proceeds went back to the museum.  Two pieces were chosen to represent Houston at Art Basil in Miami.  Al Saulso was the photographer selected and the artist selected was Rachel Stephens. The party was sponsored by Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Bombay Sapphire Vodka who entertained us with masterful drinks all night.  There were lovely horderves too, though I never made it close enough to pick up anything other than a grape off the table, instead I just stole all the snacks Kiki had on her plate. Also, thank you Fred or Tiffany for taking the first picture (above,) I really adore it. 

I showed two pieces (below) and chose not to sell them, mostly because I like them and I want to keep them.  I think I also gave the worst interview in the history of ever, stuttering something about "liking the exposure because I liked it" or some such awfulness, oh wait... I should know I give bad interview and subsequently only offer them in writing (see "Certain Searches for Certain Subjects")  Later after a few drinks seeing all the art, I got quite obsessed with people's shoes.  I took about a dozen pictures of shoes, (maybe fancy shoe post coming.) I wish I'd taken more photos that made sense, but you add vodka into the night and suddenly I'm all magpied up and wandering around blathering about shoes. 

The dress I wore with the iron maiden on my leg
Hi Mom!
"Kiss" & "Prime Rib" by me
Sam, Kiki, Christine, & Erin
Tiffany & Fred
More beautiful people
My eyes are open!
Clapping for the winners
There's my name on the glass!
Gratis drinks
The band who's name I don't know
more pretty people

"Supertheory of Supereverything" - by Rachel Stephens
"The FBI is Hiring Con Men and Sell Outs" & "Ilham" - by Michael Carter

Nov 3, 2011


Out of the blue, the neighbor kid turned to me and said "Sometimes I get wedgies."

Jack whacked me in the cheek bone with a ukulele, I'm putting it in the baby book under first shiner given.

Ella is working on her beat boxing skillz, she's pretty good.

I spent the equivalent of a grocery bill at the book fair, (you're welcome grade school.)

Me and the kid joined Brownies, I refuse to wear a sash but I will sew patches.

One of my favorite artists was inspired by a Vachel Lindsay poem and I want to show it to you (below)

Nov 1, 2011

Halloween on My Street

Spring Heeled Jack 2011
 The neighbors have been getting together for a street party for fifteen years here on Halloween.  Everyone brings their best crock pot of chili and we all turn our house lights off and put all our candy at the candy table at the end of the cul de sac.  The kids run wild in the street and the adults taste everyone chili and potato salad and eyeball shaped cupcakes and drink beer.  At some point we gathered up kids and walked a few blocks trick or treating.

On the next block over the neighbors turned their garage into a haunted house and it reminded me of the many times my dad and uncles turned a basement into a haunted house.  Usually there would be a scarecrow at the end who was holding perfectly still but then jump at you once you got close to see if it was real.  I think we may still be a few years away from doing that in our garage, but it is now on the list.

The kids had a blast.  Even after Jack fell on the sidewalk and fattened his lip, he didn't want to go home.  It was lovely to meet all the people on our block and only have to walk two houses home and even better that I didn't have to answer the door forty times with the dog barking each time.