Tool for development

Nepalese woman and her child, drinking from my sister's water bottle. Source: Grace Farson Photography

It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race. As study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.

— Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, 2006, quoted in Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

My crazy family with animals

One of my favorite things about e-mail is starting family-wide e-mail chains. My family cracks me up and our e-mail chains are often quite colorful and hilarious. Dad started this week’s chain with an e-mail titled “Gumbo.”

Back story: My father spends most of his waking life, when not working, in the unfinished basement, which he calls the Man Cave. It’s largely creepy, but it is now highly customized to his interesting way of life. He plays a game called “crate” down there with Sam and Dave. Crate is like hockey, but you play on rollerblades and with a ball that you try to shoot into tipped crates on either end of the basement. The element that makes crate so exciting is that you have to duck often so you don’t run into the low-hanging beams or the concrete columns that are tenuously holding our house up. He built a ping pong table. He’s jerry-rigged a working television and ancient desktop computer down there, too. He says the only thing he needs now is a toilet in the back corner and he’ll never have to come upstairs to the main house.

One of the main reasons my father loves the Man Cave is because of the company he keeps down there. A few months ago, he discovered a huge bullfrog who was taking residence in the dark recesses of the Man Cave. He was delighted to have the company and promptly named her (I think he calls it a “her”) Gumbo. We’ve never actually seen the elusive Gumbo and tease him that she doesn’t exist.

Then we get this e-mail with the following photograph and note attached:

Dad's true love
Dad and his true love, Gumbo the bullfrog.

Never have I felt this way about any of my children. My love for Gumbo is staggering.

Um, OK. Thanks, Dad. Way to make us feel loved.

Not to be outdone, Grace then sends us a follow-up message. It runs something along the lines of, “Hey family, I miss you, but your lives are kind of slow, because THIS is what I’ve been doing…”

Grace bathes with elephant in Nepal
Grace, bathing with an elephant in a river in Nepal. No big deal.

BATHING WITH AN ELEPHANT.

Top that. I certainly can’t.

Monday Snax

Chillin' on the couch with Windy!
Happy birthday, Granddad! He looks very much at home in his chair, which is now taking residence in our house.

We had a lovely weekend with Guion’s parents and his grandfather, aka Granddad; they came up to celebrate my confirmation at Christ Church and Granddad’s birthday! We had such a great time squiring them around town, eating tons of amazing food, and exchanging stories and memories. Brother Win was greatly missed, of course. Wish they could only have stuck around longer!

Snax with roasted kale and butternut squash, because, believe me, this week’s Snax are super-delicious and good for your heart:

With Love from Chitwan. To my heart’s relief, Grace is alive and finally well in Chitwan, Nepal! Read about her adventures and go see how totally adorable she looks on a bicycle by a rice paddy. (Como Say What?)

In Which There’s a Girl in New York City Who Calls Herself a the Human Trampoline. A thoughtful reflection on and celebration of the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s magnum opus, “Graceland.” Who doesn’t love that album? (This Recording)

Proust Questionnaire: Tina Fey. One of my all-time favorite women answers the classic questions from one of my all-time favorite authors. What do I have to do to become BFFs with this woman? (Vanity Fair)

A Guide to Crying in Public. As you know, I cry in public often, so I found this especially helpful. Retreat! (The Hairpin)

Big Laughs, Cheap Grace. Thank you, Rob Hays, for finding the words for my dislike of “Modern Family.” Thanks for finding the words when I could not. It is entertaining, but perhaps that is all one can say. (The Curator)

How Dancers Prepare Their Pointe Shoes.  I had no idea this process was so involved! (Behind Ballet)

Iceland Part 1: Roadside Horses and Geysir. Here is a Law of the Universe: If anyone on the Interwebs posts photos of Icelandic ponies, I shall immediately repost photos of said ponies. This law is immutable and shall remain unbroken for the duration of time. (Kris Atomic)

Here’s Another Thing Julianne Moore Will Ruin. FOR REAL. (Best Week Ever)

Dog-Friendly Paris: Doggy Etiquette in the City of Lights. Kelsey and Grace regaled me with stories of the impeccably well-behaved and countless pooches in Paris. I’m not one for big city living, but this account of Paris is tempting! (HIP Paris)

Origami Animals. Origanimals. My dad had a client who once made me an intricate Japanese beetle out of a $5 bill. He would have liked these paper animals. I like them, too; they look like they want to be friends. (Miss Moss)

The Desktop Wallpaper Project. I change my desktop image every Monday on my work computer, and my Mac desktop rotates every 15 minutes, so I guess you could say I’m a bit of a stickler for change. It makes me happy to have a new, pretty image on my computer. If you are like this, check out this site. A collection of beautiful, graphic designer-friendly desktop wallpapers! Artist Michael Cina’s work (around page 7) is my favorite. (The Fox Is Black)

Is Ulysses Overrated? Now I feel a little bit better about giving it only spot no. 7 in my top 10 books of 2010. This guy from Slate thinks it’s a crock and not worth all of the hype. He says there’s only one chapter worth reading. (Slate)

Happiest States According to Twitter. As far as useless and unreliable maps go, this one may rank quite high, but I like its findings. According to a mood map of Twitter, the top three happiest states are: 1) Tennessee, 2) Colorado, and 3) North Carolina. I like it! I can definitely attest to Colorado and NC making that cut. (Daily Intel)

I Am Only 6, But I Think I Can Do This Job. KIDS! Killing me again with cuteness! Application letter from 6-year-old Andrew Scott, who applied for the position of Director of the National Railway Museum. What is it with little boys and trains? It will never fail to make my heart melt. (Letters of Note)

Monday Snax

I am writing now, having recovered from something of a bummer weekend that was redeemed by girlfriends. It was a bummer because it SNOWED yesterday and because of the snow, my parents decided not to come visit us, as they had previously planned. I was really sad about this, but I was able to have a good weekend overall. I spent the whole of my Saturday with my friend Anna and then Guion and I ran errands together on Sunday and then Liz E. came over for tea. We all pretended like the disgusting and wrong snow wasn’t there and that certainly helped. It’s also supposed to snow on my birthday this week. SUPER. Really super, Virginia.

In other far more exciting news, Guion’s band Nettles is opening tonight for The Welcome Wagon at the Haven in downtown Charlottesville. We are so thrilled and it’s bound to be a really excellent show. If you’re remotely around town, please come! Doors are at 7 and tickets cost $10.

Snax with a cup of hearty black tea:

Behind the Scenes, Nepal Documentary. My little sister never fails to amaze me. I can’t believe she got to do this! The documentary sounds absolutely incredible, too. I can’t wait to see it! (Como Say What?)

Book Cover Archive. This is one of the main reasons why I find it hard to embrace Kindle or Nook or whatever e-reader people use these days. What is going to happen to all of these truly beautiful and amazing book covers when we don’t read paper anymore? This I ask you with furrowed brow, 21st Century. For the book- and design-minded among you, enjoy this excellent collection. (Book Cover Archive)

Sunscreen and Sunblock Are Not the Same Thing. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. (Broken Secrets)

Four Years After a Death, a Gift Continues to Inspire. A sweet and thoughtful reflection on the life of former UNC mascot Jason Ray, whose legacy endures in the minds and–literally–hearts of others. (New York Times)

Vintage Basketball. Awesome photographs of women’s basketball teams from the early 1900s. Love it. Love the Victorian coiffures mixed with the determined grin of these early female athletes. I feel proud of them and yet I don’t know a thing about them. (Wolf Eyebrows)

Rough Scans from My Recent Trip to Japan. Emily Shur is an incredible photographer and here she shares some recent photographs from Japan, prior to the earthquake and tsunami, I believe. Her photographs are so beautifully composed. To me, they speak carefully of the symmetry and silence that pervades so much of the Japanese landscape. (Emily Shur)