is it too soon for history?

We are back from a spring break trip to Washington DC.  lady in washington hatIt was great except it snowed the first day, the last day and rained the others.  Wait, there was ONE day we had clear skies. So much for “Spring”.

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing.  Is it Spring yet?

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing. Is it Spring yet?

Fortunately it was the day we walked on the Mall.  From Arlington Cemetery to the Spy Museum.

map of the dc mallThe trip was meaty.  Lots going on.  Sights of historical significance, Ford’s theatre, great food.  Red Hen was the best dinner of the trip.  Great architecture, show me the brick!.   Kafe Bohem, sigh,  I miss the great breakfasts.   Seeing old friends.

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

Loved not driving most of the time.  Metro, I loves ya.

But, more than once I thought, are my kids ready for this?  Moments where I thought, “I DID THE RIGHT THING”.  When Vivien was transfixed by the Lincoln Memorial and read his speeches carved into the wall. children and lincolnchildren get lincoln When I said, “this is where Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream speech’ and she didn’t run and scowl, but stopped and took a picture there.  children and I have a dreamTouching how many parents are doing the same thing.  After the memorial Vivien was begging for a hot chocolate, “we must keep going.” cried crazy mom.  My sister Cecily, who traveled with us knew better.  ”I’ll get you one” as she helped my limping 8 year old to a warm coco.  I walked along the Vietnam memorial overhearing parents say to their kids, “you see it was a time of great unrest…”

What is the right age to take this in?  Or is it in dribs and drabs?  Certainly when I lost Rex in the spy museum ( an over rated for profit venture) I thought, I was wrong to come.  When he ran up the down escalator in the Metro I thought “too young”.  But, if I wait till he is ready for knowledge and travel Vivien will be a jaded teen lost to me.

Certainly a highlight was visiting the White House.  Had to pull some strings to get in their and even so there was a long, cold wait to get in. visiting the white house Not like the ’90′s where I had a friend who work in the White House and I was waved in more than once with a only a look at my license.  At one point Rex started to go under the velvet rope, but a secret service man scolded him and he shrank back.  One of the many times I was fine with a stranger reprimanding my son.  ”Go for it, I need the help.”

DC , like many American cities of late, has improved.  We we rented  a home in an area some friends were worried about.  A mixed neighborhood that had seen riots/uprisings in the ’60′s, crack in the 80′s. But, now the historical structures of Ledroit Park can shine and it’s lovely.  It’s near Howard University and we had occasion to visit their ER for a minor problem and they were great.  It was far nicer than any ER around LA. I like feeling like I live in a place when I visit.  I walked thru the snow to a grocery store.  I would stay there again for sure.

One day we rented a car and went to Mt. Vernon.

Cecily is fun to travel with

Cecily is fun to travel with

A place I remembered from visiting with my dad when I was 9.  Since then they have added a memorial to the slaves that toiled there.  They have also added a video presentation with of all people Pat Sajak telling visitors what to see at George Washington’s home. Was Vanna not avail?pat sajak mt vernon ”Don’t forget to see the slave quarters and where they stored the tropical plants.”  My sister leaned in, “because there is a real moral equivalency.”   When the five minute Wheel of Washington was done Rex said,

“He was nice.  But, he seems like a reporter.”  Close Rex.  Yes, hundreds of years of slavery is not Pat Sajak’s fault.  But, I was getting irate at the founding fathers.  Um, what was that about independence, rights of man?

It was raining so I didn’t make it to the slave quarters.  Rex’s shoes and pants were soaked in rain and mud.  He was gleefull.  We stood before George Washington’s old tomb and he said, “mommy, I got to go pee.”

soaked

soaked

“Rex, wait.”

“I can’t”. Pause.   Then he ran off splashing more in the mud. Well, maybe it was fitting.

Fortunately, Walmart is close and I ran in and got him a whole new outfit as we were headed to meet friends for a nice dinner.

One key note about air travel with kids, if they don’t have individual screens on the plane, forget it.  We didn’t have them going, but did coming back and it made a huge difference. I wish we could make our reservations based on this.  I can handle the crap food, but kid climbing on me is tougher.  Course one consequence was I watched “12 years a slave” on the plane.  Woof.  Brutal.  When we got home I had insomnia and stayed up reading slave memoirs online.  The sexual exploitation alone makes me marvel that black people didn’t rise up and kill all white people.  Jefferson, sneer.  He allowed his own children to be enslaved.  They got to be freed when he died, that’s the bone he threw them.

When I went to Europe I ruminated about the holocaust.  I know, I could walk any area near me and think of the Native Americans killed and run off their land.  Sadly, man’s humanity to man is too clear.

So, in the end it is dribs and drabs for my kids and for me.  You know history, but at different moments facts and sensory collide to make it more real.

Ah, the toddler years

We just got back from a fun camping trip with families from Rex’s pre school. Rex is part of the “cool Senior set”  4 and 5 year olds who are all about to chuck the sand box for long hours of structured learning.  Oh, they have no idea what a buzz kill that will be.IMG_0670

I have bagged the trip before because it always falls on my birthday ( thanks, thanks), but because it’s our swan song we went.  So glad we did.  Great time, great people and being sung to by a campfire as I look up at stars ( non existent in LA) is a nice way to bring a new year in.  Though why I  had to hear so many times “29 again?” Chortle, chortle.  Hey, why is it SO funny that I would be 29?  Do I look THAT bad?

One bummer was that oddly NOT ONE family had an older sibling Viv’s age.  There was on 7 year old boy, but different universe.  Not one older sister.  Note, to self, if we go again kidnap a third grade girl for the weekend, “don’t worry, we will take care of her and bring back on Sunday.”

family and llamasLOTS of people with little kids.   I loved holding the occasional baby.  That sweet new human smell they have is like NOTHING else.  It’s a primal connection.  Nature knows what it is doing.  I whiff that and I would take that child in and make them my own if needed.  HOWEVER, all the toddlers, 3 year olds only made me pat myself on that back for demanding my husband get a vasectomy. Seeing so many people trying to reason, cajole their 2 and 3 year olds gave a tiny bit of glee.  I don’t have to deal with this ( much) anymore.

The irrational, no reason, OCD, crazy people that rule you.  No thanks.  My fiver old is no walk in the walk.  I don’t want to go through that again.  So, I looked for a snap shot of when I was in that mode.  When all you can do is crack up, or find the comedy.

But, Gosh, look at those curls!  Sniff, sniff.

Who says I don’t cook?

mark peel and daphne brogdon cook

we had fun and worked off each other well

A few weeks back Mark and I were guest on Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”.  It’s a great domestic oriented morning show.  No trash stories, helpful and fun.  Wish it was on my cable carrier.  Anyway,  We did a Chicken Thigh Throwdown. Everyone thinks Mark is nightly making me great meals. My standard line was, “sure, if I went into his restaurant.” But, at home I do most of the cooking and since we don’t have any restaurants anymore and my work has been…meek.. the last couple of years I’ve been cooking more than ever.

Mark getting his mic...I hope

Mark getting his mic…I hope

IMG_0165

 The idea was Mark would do the “restaurant” or fancy version of chicken thighs and I would do the easy, your family will eat version.

mark peel and daphne brogdon cookAs someone who made her living for years as a TV host I really appreciate a good host.  Christina Ferrare and Mark Steines are great and improvising and brought out the best in us.  It was the first time Mark and I have cooked together out of our home and it was a lot of fun.  In case you want to try either dish, here are the recipes.  Enjoy. http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/recipe/markpeeldaphnebrogdonchickenthighthrowdown

parent teacher conference

We just had our meeting and in general Vivien is doing very well in school.

As the hardworking teacher showed us the work and what they are learning I kept thinking, “I didn’t do any work like this in 3rd grade… or ever.”  Granted I had kind of a Bo-Ho education.  Not all kids get to opt to watch a Bette Davis double feature instead of learning long division.  But, 1) the work does seem harder now and 2) it’s just different.  The terms are different, the nomenclature of their work is so unknown to me so that if they didn’t include “notes to parents” in some of her work books I’d be unable to help her.

I think of the kids in her class whose parents don’t speak English and I wonder , “How can those kids succeed?”  So much homework, new terms, plop on  a different language you are sunk.

My only question at the conference?  When will they get more free play?  Answer:  they won’t.

Here is another burst of educational insight I had when Rex was younger and I still had my fab camera man Chung Ming shooting my vids  ( I just recently got to work with him.  Love that guy)

My other insight is bring your kid’s teacher a sandwich.  I did and she was happy.

imovie is cramping my style

So, my computer went on the fritz.  I sprang for a new mac.  All of this meant I couldn’t blog for a while.  Then when the new machine arrived I thought, “ah, finally, I can edit my videos.”  But, I’m stalled.  The new and improved imovie is not my friend.  I’ve watched  a you tube video and it doesn’t help.

So, why does mac put out products without explantation?  My texting wasn’t working on my iphone.  My sister Cecily, who is tech savvy, picked it up and figured out how to fix it.  I feel like you have to learn how to handle mac products on the street, no one tells you.  Like sex.

new imovie no good

 

I got this far, but stalled.  Sigh.  I’m sure there is genius there, if I could only unlock it.

Oscar ’14

As much as I wish the rainstorm had fallen right on red carpet Sunday, I watched the show with wide eyes.  I can’t help it.  I was born in the Heart of Screenland (Culver City), I’ve commented on the fashion as part of my job in the past and I even knew a couple of people in the big show.  (I’m so 3 degrees from famous)  I’ve eaten the pizza Ellen ordered!  I was on the list for an after party, not Elton’s.  But, after I put on my make up I got a text that the party was a turkey and not to bother.  When a film hasn’t won their party can go like half and  half left out.

At home Mark and I made dinner for our family who had come over and I got Red Carpet (wearing) Ready!

red carpet watching ready

 

Thanks for asking, I’m wearing vintage cashmere sweater and yoga pants.  Oh, no, I don’t buy it.  They send it to me.  Yes, picked the first thing I put on. The real red carpet was a snooze.  Not sure what happened, but I saw 4 celebs and lots of commercials, canned bits, and those weird talking heads on E!  Liked this clip of fashion from Vanity Fair party they sent me.  Miss Jane Fonda looks fab.

Ellen did a great job.  Also, kudos to all these thoughtful acceptance speeches.  Jared Leto, the lady from “12 years a slave”, the guy who wrote the movie.  I wasn’t wishing for a trap door to sink the narcissists till more than half way through the show.  Lame award goes to the director of “Gravity”.  Maybe he should have spoken in Spanish, cause he kind of rambled and didn’t have a point in English.  The director of “12 years” had a dud speech too.  Best picture award ususally does.  Best Short Action Animation in a Festival and Made on their Credit Card has more heart and vulnerability than the guy who will get ads taken out for him in the trades just to congratulate him.  I can’t get over his name being Steve McQueen either.  Do the kids even get that?  Is his wife named Ali McGraw?

Loved that they actually performed the nominated songs.  Didn’t like the years they didn’t. How about Travolta butchering Idina Menzel’s name?  He wasn’t even close.  Maybe he should do a PSA for dyslexia?  All great songs, except my old buds U2.  No “In the name of Love”.  Um, and why did Pink sing instead Liza Minneli?  Also, I like Bette Midler and she looked and sounded great, but do we need a reminder of “Beaches”?  Weren’t Kim Novak’s lips enough?

I found a great way to get through the slower bits of the show.  Oscar Bingo.  It’s a mix of fashion, celebs, and hack words and expressions.  Here is the winning card held by my niece Lily, and my card which did not.oscar bingo Lily’s, (on the right) has “Cuff”in the upper left box, as in worn on a lady’s wrist, metal.  Then anyone from “American Hustle”,  ”incredible”, anyone saying that word.  The word “Amazing” was on someone else’s card and was marked fast.  The center box is suppose to be “Bow Tie”, but I wrote “Box Tie”, clearly thinking of what the stars inject in their faces.  Next is “person with accent”

Vivien’s card had  one we didn’t hear, thankfully, last night, the winner telling their kids to “go to sleep.”

Rex was undone.  ”Why are you all watching this? It’s so boring!”  As he tumbled on the coach before donning my rain boots, a helmet, clutching a styrofoam “sword” sans pants.   “I know it is Rex.  But, I’m not budging till it’s over.”

 

Foreskins are our friends

Between the flu and my tummy bug I think I am going to need to apply for disability.  One more day of this and I can fit into my wedding dress.  So, I’m going to let someone else talk on video.   As some of you may know I’m an entrenched intactivist.  I’m a solidly against  routine circumcision.  It’s one of those things that America excels at that other countries do not partake in.  File under: no national health system, huge rates of incarceration and super size sodas.

I stumbled upon this video by one of those cute young gals on YouTube that talk straight to camera and use an earnestness and jump cuts.  This gal is RIGHT ON. It’s a video I watched and thought “I could not have said it better”.  So please watch Laci Green and bring the whole baby home.

…and I played the wife

Mark was asked to be on a chef competition show.  He was a bit wary as Top Chef Masters was NOT his favorite experience, but his manager ( me) said he should do it.  It’s “Knifefight” on Esquire channel. Use to be G4 channel and before that I am sure it was two other channels before that.  He had been a judge on an episode on the last season with Exec. Producer Drew Barrymore next to him and had a good time.  (“She took my card!” Um she is never going to call you dude.  She didn’t)

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

“Knife Fight” is more irreverent than Top Chef with it’s super serious, jib shots of chefs waiting to be judged with the dum, dum, dum music and the “Go pack your knifes” blow off.  It’s demoralizing.

this sucks

this sucks

The producer of “Knife Fight” asked who Mark wanted to compete against and we both said, “Sal Marino”.  He is our friend and a great chef, unsung really.  Owns Il Grano. They would have fun.  It’s shot at Gorbals where the chef/owner/ Ilan Hall is the host.  He is a nice guy.  Also, it’s a shorter shoot than Top Chef which drags on and on with them plying the chefs with cheap booze in the hopes of some “Big Brother” meltdown and for no pay.  All unscripted exploits the hell out of people in general.

So, I trucked down to watch the shoot and then ended up being part of it.  That is if they show my back shucking peas.  It was fun to see both Sal and Mark cook.  They had one hour to cook with the surprise ingredients.  Great to see them both in action.  I can’t say what they made ( or Drew Barrymore will come and beat me)  and I didn’t get it to eat it, but it looked fab.

Maja, Sal’s wife, was also there.  She is my friend so it was a fun outing.

...they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

…they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

The chefs had known each other before, but we all became good friends when our daughters were going to pre school and they became friends.

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

As the shooting went on they were placing Maja and I for reaction shots.  So when it finally airs, think May, you might see my “wife” visage.  In the meantime, it inspired Mark and Sal to finally cook together for real.  This weekend and next Mark is going to jam with him at Sal’s restaurant.  A special menu they collaborated on.  It’s going to be good.   I will play the wife and eater. MORE INFO HERE