Pause, rewind, replay

I don’t know who had the initial idea, H or M:

Let’s hold a Harrathon, and play all 8 Harry Potter movies back to back over the course of a weekend.

So we did.

H invited her HP-loving friends, M and I moved the furniture, H and I went grocery shopping, we mixed up a batch of butterbeer for the freezer, and then we waited for everyone to arrive.

It was grand.

Some friends arrived in time to kick off the first movie at 12.30 on Saturday afternoon, while others, running late or confused about the start time were met with a stern note on the front door: “Too Late, Fools.”

Only it wasn’t too late; it was just beginning.

We went into some sort of strange state of suspension. The movies played, the teens traded seats, took breaks for food and drink. At one point, everyone had a stretch and went outside for a ride on the porch swing. The Harry Potter theme music played on. DVD to DVD, it kept coming.

At later than my usual bedtime, I went to bed. All night long I heard the booming of the sub woofer, as the movies turned to darkness and war between the Hogwarts students and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I woke every couple of hours to hear the thundering soundtrack, the conversation and laughter.

By the time I came downstairs the next morning, the last movie was in its final 30 minutes. Two of the group were semi upright, but perhaps not with eyes fully open.

I sat by the kitchen counter and watched the end, where the little children who had become teenagers vanquished Voldemort, then morphed into adults, ushering their own children onto platform 9 3/4. I admit I got teary.

There was a time when H was so little (a kid raised in the age of the internet and the remote control) that, if we were playing a game or reading a book and she needed a break, she’d ask us to “pause” whatever we were doing for a minute.

Wouldn’t that be a nifty trick? To pause and then restart, or maybe to pause and then rewind to the beginning and watch all the moments over again, even the hard ones?

I wiped my eyes and got to making pancakes. Soon M joined me and we were making bacon and eggs and serving up orange juice to the tired and hungry Harrathoners.

And then I wrote this down. We can come back to it later.

The scene


Too Late Fools



Harrathon candle

Platform 9 3/4

Last scene

Harrathon aftermath



You know what today is, right?

This afternoon, Hyla and I are driving down to Western, MA to join some friends for the midnight showing of the final installment of the Harry Potter movies.

In honor of the event, we made t-shirts to wear to the show.

Hyla is a witty Ravenclaw.

Wit Beyond Measure

(“Wit Beyond Measure is Man’s Greatest Treasure. Which Makes you Pretty Skint, Witless.”)

She long ago informed me that I’m a Hufflepuff, and, after doing some research, I agree. Suits me to a “T”.

We're Hufflepuff and We're Proud

That sound you hear? That’s the sound of an almost 12-year-old girl literally vibrating with excitement. Seeing the last of 8 movies made from her favorite books, in 3D, with one of her best friends, and then staying overnight at a hotel that has a pool — can she get closer to kid heaven than that? Well, only if the cats could come along. (And her father, who really ought to be the accompanying parent, but for work and other practical reasons is staying home tonight.)

She’s got her robes, wand, and invisibility cloak packed. Books, bathing suit, change of clothes. Italy was grand and all, but for H, this trip is pure magic.

A few minutes in my brain

I feel a bit directionless today, bouncing from thought to thought. Restless. Easily distracted.

So, I thought I’d share a few of the things that are ricocheting around in my head.

Last lunch

As I packed H’s lunch today for the last day of “school camp” (one of her teachers has run a three-week camp at the school), it hit me like a heavy jar of grape jelly that this may well be the last school lunch I ever pack for our girl.

All those school mornings, since the first days of daycare when she was three months old, we have packed a lunch in one form or another (from bottles of milk to jam sandwiches). Next year, her school has a cafeteria where she can buy her lunch if she chooses, and I’m pretty sure that’s what she’ll choose. So this morning found me tearing up over her open lunch box. Clearly, I need to develop a thicker skin; this is only the start of the Lasts.

Call me “The Mouse Whisperer”

A few weeks ago, I lazily left the back hatch of my car open as a reminder to fetch the bags of grain and sunflower seed I had picked up at the feed store that day. Then it got late. And it started to rain, so I ran outside, closed the hatch, and figured I’d move the grain and seed into the basement the next morning. Apparently, I trapped a mouse (or two, or three?) in my car that night because the next morning I found a lot of sunflower seed shells, and some other telltale evidence, including a 1″-diameter hole chewed through a plastic interior wall of the car, which led to a gap near the tailpipe, and another 1″-diameter hole chewed through another piece of plastic. I felt sorry for the poor mouse that had to frantically chew its way out of my car, but now I feel like the mice have decided that I asked them to visit.

The other day, I rescued a mouse from the tub. Soon after that, I made the mistake of leaving some seeds in the car overnight again (no, I didn’t learn my lesson). This time there was no damage to the car; the clever mice just used the entrance/exit they had made last time. Last night, I found another mouse in the tub, inside an (open) plastic bag. What?! Since it was already contained, I just lifted the plastic bag up and carried it and the mouse outside, tipped the bag, and let the mouse roll out onto a bench on the deck, where it shivered and shook and curled into a ball. We built a shelter around it with rocks, shoes, and bits of kindling, and left it alone. It was gone this morning.

What do you think? Are we feeding the cats too much?

Potter mania

Like a lot of bookish households, we are in geeky heaven, anticipating the upcoming final installment of the Harry Potter movie series. So much so that we’ve already got tickets (thanks to a friend who was wise enough to check the theater web site a week before tickets were due to go on sale) to the first midnight showing! Eeek. And we gather around the computer as a family to watch the latest released movie previews. And we’re watching this web site and wondering what the heck ol’ JK is up to. How will we make it until the 15th of July without bursting?

What do you make with goat milk when you don’t have time to make cheese?

Cajeta, of course! Wonderful, rich, deep, smooth caramel sauce made from goat milk, sugar, and vanilla. It’s in the refrigerator right now. So far far away from my mouth. But not for much longer. I have a spoon, and I know how to use it.

Jars of cajeta


I’m hooked on Slate’s weekly roundtable podcast, “Culture Gabfest“. I love that they talk about anything and everything even remotely related to “culture”, from movies to pie to politics to kids to books to pop songs to video games to art exhibits and everything else under the sun. I love that the panel gets silly and goes off on tangents, but mostly I love that they spend time really talking about something, giving their opinions, changing their minds, and asking each other questions.

My very favorite part is the end of the show, where each panel member (typically there are three Slate writers on the show) gives an “endorsement”. They tell us about something interesting in the world that they want to share. It could be a book, or a song, or a restaurant, or a web site, or anything at all really.

Isn’t that a cool idea?

So I thought maybe from time to time I’d endorse something here that I think you might find interesting.

Today, I give you a web site that M pointed me to, called “Dear Photograph“. It’s a very simple idea: superimpose a photo from the past over the same setting today. The result is a blend of past and present, memory and the current moment. The results are nostalgic, a bit sad, and sometimes very moving.

The song playing in my head today

Wow. That helped. My brain feels emptier. Time for lunch. And a weekend.

What are you thinking about today?