Thursday, July 30, 2009


...also known as Cementland. Remember how awhile back I was swooning over City Museum in St. Louis? My friend is just freshly back from there and she reports that Bob Cassily, the (make no mistake) GENIUS behind City Museum, has been working for years on another project transforming an old cement factory on the outskirts of St. Louis. What's so fab about that, you ask? Well, read the snippet below from the St. Louis News and then see if you can restrain yourself from booking a ticket to St. Louis this instant and throwing yourself at Bob Cassily's feet. I really think I'm going to go in the fall... (I want to sublet my house for ACL fest, know anyone who might be interested?)... maybe I could manage to interview him or at least get a behind the scenes peek at the as-yet unveiled Cementland for Mungo....

Anyway, without further ado, an excerpt from the article There He Goes Again by D.J. Wilson, from the St. Louis News:

Already he's had hundreds of dump trucks drop dirt at the plant, filling up holes and leveling the terrain. He's personally using a bulldozer to build up a wall-like berm around the perimeter. He wants to transform the plant into a "fantasy world" that includes a water slide, underground tunnels, a spiral staircase to the top of the smokestack where visitors can heave stones back down to earth and ... well, he's just getting warmed up with ideas.
With a smirk on his face that would make George W. Bush look like an altar boy, Cassilly compares his ambition for the plant to what he might have done as a kid: "You'll be able to do all the things that were normally illegal, I suppose, do all the things kids used to sneak into a plant to do,
looking for adventure."
Climbing up to the tops of towers, sliding down, throwing things from on high, walking across catwalks, getting inside a smokestack, crawling underground, swimming, that sort of thing. He's reluctant to put a label on what the place will be. "Everyone keeps saying 'Bob's World,'" Cassilly admits, but he's not thinking theme park. "If you say Six Flags, it'd make me vomit." How about calling it an art park? "I wouldn't want to call it that. Nobody would come."

It's more of a museum featuring landscape and outdoor sculpture than an amusement park. "It's a giant art installation you can play in. It's anti-elitist. Arts have alienated everyone in the world. This is a place to bring together different disciplines. Other people may want to start helping -- they'll want to do something here, maybe have a little piece of it."
Cassilly is anxious to show off his new playground as he drives across Riverview Drive and into the cement plant, past the dirt walls built along the boundary. As he pulls up in front of the largest building in the complex, he starts to play tour guide as he enters a gigantic barnlike structure that looks to be more than eight stories tall, with metal siding that's partially torn away.
"There's three great horned owls in this building. They're pretty cool. They're huge," Cassilly says. He gestures to a low, flat area in front of the building partially encircled by high dirt walls, explaining that the area, and the inside of the building, would be the "water park."
The top of the building can be reached by a series of metal steps and catwalks, and that's where the slides would start. There's a huge drop inside the building where the trains used to unload materials. He wants to keep the roof on but peel off much of the siding to reveal the metal frame of the building, letting in more sunlight. Around the building he describes the dirt walls being built up as "parapet walls all along the property, like walled cities had a first line of defense, a second line of defense."
"Then there's going to be all these sculpted kind of caterpillarlike forms that will come up from the pool below. Then the pool will go all the way into the building here. This will all be dug deeper." He points up, to a series of huge metal bins that start at the top of the building. "You go in here, and there's all these giant bins in here, so there'll be giant waterfalls from bin to bin, with water slides that will slide down from pool to pool to pool, and then it will come out here," he says, pointing to the large, flat area in front of the building that will serve as the giant pool. "Then this wet water area will meander down through the property."


I've been trying to remember this week what I ever used to blog about. I'll have to go back and look... I honestly can't remember. With all my little ones home and up my nose every single second it's a bit hard to follow any thought through to it's conclusion... but I'm finally out of my li'l funk and feeling funkified and inspired again.... I got this great book at the library, it's the sequel to another that I used to have which is so great... highly reccomended.

The Animal School: A parable
Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something decisive to meet the increasing complexity of their society. They held a meeting and finally decided to organize a school.
The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. Since these were the basic behaviors of most animals, they decided that all the students should take all the subjects.
The duck proved to be excellent at swimming, better in fact, than his teacher. He also did well in flying. But he proved to be very poor in running. Since he was poor in this subject, he was made to stay after school to practice it and even had to drop swimming in order to get more time in which to practice swimming. He was kept at this poorrest subject until his webbed feet were so badly damaged that he became only average at swimming. But average was acceptable in the school, so nobody worried about that--- except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of her class in running, but finally had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up time in swimming--- a subject she hated.
The squirrel was excellent at climibing until he developed a psychological block in flying class, when the teacher insisted he start from the ground instead of from the tops of trees. He was kept at attempting to fly until he became muscle-bound... and received a C in climbing and a D in running.
The eagle was the school's worst discipline problem; in climbing class, she beat all of the others to the top of the tree used for examination purposes in this subject, but she insisted on using her own method of getting there.
The gophers, of course, stayed out of school and fought the tax levied for education because digging was not included in the curricullum. They apprenticed their children to the badger and later joined the groundhogs and eventually started a private school offering alternative education.
-----Alas, the author is unknown (a student at the University of Toronto)

Friday, July 24, 2009


I just checked out my niece's blog and I feel so darn proud I could bust. She's eighteen and working as an intern on an organic farm in Pennsylvania... her dream. It's a great read and the pictures are amazing... check it out!


I had heard this place mentioned by this person on this listserv as a place well-loved by her kids, but had oft-wondered what the h-e-double hockeysticks could a fishing/camping/hunting store like this have to offer the young 'uns? Well, we were passing by on our way to Aquarena Springs so I thought we'd pop in.
AND, as it happened, forget Aquarena Springs! We were in here for about two hours. You can add it to your list of excursions in a wonderfully air conditioned atmosphere for when it's ten billion degrees outside here in Texas. There was a huge walk-through aquarium, and several 'lands' well-populated with the (stuffed) creatures of the land... I feel a little gauche speaking so highly of this place that leans so heavily on taxidermy for its decor but y'know, I'm not supporting taxidermy... I'm just trying to stay alive and keep my children alive and reasonably happy for the next few years until everyone learns to read and doesn't have to rely on me so heavily for entertainment.
So anyway... here's where I rave a little bit more about Cabela's. Aside from the aquarium and all that, there was also a thirty foot tall 'mountain' heavily populated with creatures of all sorts with a real live watery waterfall coursing down it's slopes, into a pool stocked with (real) fish, and flowing under a bridge into a second pool in the center of which stood a gigantic moose.
Upstairs we found a cafeteria and a general store, which we didn't even check out because we were so drawn to the camping section of Cabela's... the kids played for ages in and about two fully set up and decked out tents. I was extremely impressed because despite all our frolicking and mussing and messing and touching of absolutely every single last little thing, the staff never once looked at us askance. That feels really good... to be in a store and not feel like you should rush out because your kids are being kid-like.
There was also a shooting gallery... like a real for-fun one, where you drop a coin in and get to fire away at a little landscape and if you hit the target the tin can pops up or the light turns on in the house or the praire dog pops out of it's hole... well, if that's not fun I don't know what is.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moon Sand!

I saw this moon sand recently at Lakeshore (which is, by the way, a really cool store) and felt tempted by buy some... but then I thought maybe I'd quick check on the ol' internet if there was a homemade recipe out there and by gum there was:
1 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
2 c. sand
food coloring or packet of koolaid mix
Mix together the cornstarch and water and the coloring. Add the sand and spend some time kneading it all together with your hands. I added two packets of koolaid mix to make it a nice neon red, but you could use whatever you have on hand or no coloring at all. Also, you might want to add a smidge more water... just feel it out.
When you're done, you should have this wonderful mold-able sand that operates kind of like playdough. It's very fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New classes for fall!

I know, I know, you find it hard to believe me when I assure you that
autumn is actually on the horizon... but it is... not long now before
you'll be basking in luxurious under-100-degrees temps (and possibly
enjoying some of my new classes...)

*ART CLASS *ages 1-3 $135 Tuesdays 10-12 September 1st through October 6th

Inspired by the book Young at Art by Susan Stryker, this class is a
chance for toddlers to have early art experiences that are messy, fun,
and tactile. We explore one color per week through painting, drawing,
and salt dough sculpture, and throw in some water play, books, and
snacking to round it out. This is a low stress and truly fun environment
for toddlers to meet new friends and have a weekly art adventure!

*ART, SCIENCE,and COOKING *ages 2-4 $135 Wednesdays 10-12 September 9th through October 14th

For graduates from my other classes, this will be a fun smorgasbord of
activities for curious kids who love to bake, make, and create! All
new art projects, recipes, and truly wowing science experiments.....
sure to amuse even the most discerning of toddlers and preschoolers.

*WOODSHOP FOR CHILDREN , part 2 ages 3-7 $150 Thursday afternoons 4-6 September 3rd through October 8th (co-taught with Doerte Fimke of Austin Montessori Center)
More simple and satisfying woodworking projects for children who already
have some experience hammering and sawing. We'll be making a special
box, a knitting loom, and other handmade toys, games, and projects that
your child can really take pride in.

$150 Thursdays October 15th through November 19th
Learn to make a bristlebot, a burglar alarm, a rocket launcher and
more... take apart old electronics, learn, tinker, think, create!

*TINKERING CLASS ****for homeschoolers* ages 5-12 $150 10-12 Mondays
September 28th though November 9th (no class on Oct. 12th)

And a few classes for adults, too:
*THE ARTIST'S WAY: a spiritual path to higher creativity* $190 for 12 weeks Monday evenings 7-9 August 24th through November 9th
Join me for this 12 week course in discovering and recovering your creative self. Doing this course with a group is a surefire way to keep you on track as you work towards a more creative, fun, and fulfilling life! Share stories and experiences, work on writing projects and art projects together and separately, relax in a cozy environment with new friends.... and see where this wild ride takes you as you explode old limiting beliefs and puzzle your way out of patterns that have kept you stuck for years.
*BUILD YOUR OWN DOLLHOUSE* $150 5 weeks Thursdays September 10th through October 8th
Build the dollhouse of your dreams, for your kids or heck, just for yourself. Start with a basic design
and deck it out with all things tiny, or get your architect on and make a mini Dwell-magazine abode...install a real working light, doorbell, or even a ceiling fan...or just obsessively stock the refrigerator with every conceivable
kind of miniature food... whatever your fancy may be. This is your dream house, people, and this time Barbie's not invited.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Enchanted Forest

OK, humor me if you will... just a bit more about our recent northwesterly jaunt. I had my heart set on taking the kids to Enchanted Forest which is an attraction that was around when I was a kid (lo these many years gone by). It looms large in my memory of my childhood and I am so utterly pleased that it still exists and hasn't been 'dozed to make way for something shiny new and heartless without an ounce of the style (however strange it may be) and gusto and intrigue and spookiness and humor and earnestness of this place.

I think I visited this place once when I was about four with my friend Shari Murray and it must be one of my earliest memories. You can go inside Sleeping Beauty's castle, inside the mine where the seven dwarves are digging for jewels, inside Hansel and Gretel's cottage (and see these creepy mannequins behind glass, with Gretel poised to push the witch into the fire) and you can even go down Alice's rabbit hole... you creep down this tunnel and it's pitch black for about half a second before you turn the corner and crawl out through the 'keyhole'... as legend has it I had a freak out attempting to go through the rabbit hole as a child and, true to form, Bruno wasn't about to go down that tunnel, either.

Anyway, cheers to aged amusement parks everywhere, alive and thriving! Long may they live to amuse entertainment-seekers everywhere! Enchanted Forest is savvy though... they've added a few new attractions to keep up with the times, keep people coming back... you can now get your picture taken with Abe Lincoln, which is a thrilling new feature.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free to Be You and Me

...did you grow up with this like I did? I guess I had the book and the record. I don't think I've ever seen the accompanying movie... I just discovered yesterday you can watch the whole thing on Youtube! Gotta love that Youtube.

If you've never seen it, well, you're in for an utterly sassy, liberated, seventies (eighties?) treat... it's got such a good heart and it's not ham-handed as this stuff can be sometimes... and the messages are still really important... hey, it's alright to cry, dudes!

Really Rosie is there, too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Neskowin, OR

We spent about 18 glorious hours here and wished we could have spent many, many more. This place was like paradise for the young 'uns (and us big 'uns liked it pretty well ourselves) with a freshwater creek flowing shallowly over a big wide beach into the sea so there was SO much to play in without having to be en guarde for riptides and barnacles and whales and sharks (not to mention whale sharks). It was AMAZING. Crowning glory was Proposal Rock which was not just some li'l ol' puny rock but about 2-3 acres of rock thickly spread with loamy rich soil and thick coastal forest perched right where the sand meets the sea (at least during low tide it does) and this climb-y old family of mine just had to scamper straight to the top, of course. I went up with them the second time and had a heart attack moment when we were right at the top (about 60 feet up and RIGHT looking down at the open sea (and the tide coming in) and Bruno had a real three-year-old hissy fit not wanting to hold my hand when we crossed by this open spot... and was jerking away and acting all crazy... OK, that was the one moment when I wasn't so keen on Neskowin, OR, but other than that I basically think I could easily relocate to this sleepy, tiny town. There was this fantastic Hawk Creek Cafe which is pretty much my idea of the perfect place to eat... not only did they have a fine array of delicious Oregon microbrews on tap, but when we sat down to table each kid had a little Golden Book at their place, and the kid's menu was taped inside the front cover. Isn't that CLEVER?? I'm totally going to borrow that idea when I have my place someday.

Anyway, Neskowin, OR. I know it's far far far for my Texas friends but I'm giving it a big fat thumbs up. I'm feeling quite smart myself because Matt was craving to go to the Texas beach this spring and I begged him to save our money and just tack on an extra day or two to our Oregon adventure so we could visit the coast here instead.

More Oregon


Sunday, July 12, 2009


I forgot to hang up my 'gone fishin' ' sign but you may have surmised, faithful readers, that I've been indisposed these last few weeks. Off in the wilds of Oregon, revisiting my homeland, seeing the folks, my bros, a few other friends-and-relations, and having some just-us nuclear family adventures while we were at it... oh it's been a fine old time but I couldn't be happier to be home again home again jiggety jig, as they say, or do they say..? I know I'm supposed to say oh Austin ugh the heat I hate it but you know I actually like it very well even in the thick of the summer.

I'll share some of our escapades with you tomorrow but for now I'll just share a photo that was in my inbox when I arrived home, of me catching up with my friend Morgan from NYC. I wish I could share the other pics of his adorable son Harvey Valentine, but Harvey was frolicking around in his altogether so unfortunately they are better left unshared. This picture is actually so symbolic for me... there was a time in the not-so-distant past when I would have felt like such a failure meeting up with my friends from that era, especially ones who are working successfully in the arts. It's so nice to feel a lot more solid that we're all just happy, fulfilled people raising children and doing good work.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A wee giftie for my wee nephew

... I hope he digs it. It's a fort-making kit. Three thrifted sheets, a box of clothespins, and a flashlight. I want to add a little lunchbox for secret snack storage. Luckily we'll be visiting him in Oregon soon to help him play with it...