I was skeptical when Ms. J suggested that I start a blog a few months ago. I had never even read a blog when she suggested it. Her plan being that my morale would improve if I started to write about what it’s like being a stay at home dad. Prior to starting this blog, I was a somewhat miserable unemployed former advertising-sales-marketing guy, who also happened to be taking care of his 2 year old son. Most days, the only other adult I was able to speak to was Ms. J. She had started calling me Mr. Glum. After writing a few miserable posts, (since deleted!) I slowly transformed into a much happier Stay at Home Dad, of a now 3 year old son. I’ve been able to ‘meet’ a lot of people through blogging, read their stories, see their photos, and gotten to know some people who I would not normally meet. I have especially enjoyed reading the blogs of people in foreign countries, if only to get a glimpse of the everyday life around the world.
Since I had started the blog simply for myself, it came as a welcome surprise to be nominated for the Sunshine Award by Perfecting Motherhood. It’s certainly nice to find out that another blogger has enjoyed my meandering writing enough to think of me for this award. For more coherent writing than my own on the subject of parenting, I would suggest checking out her blog as well!
Part 1 of the award process is a few questions about myself. Always a bit unusual for me since the majority of what I write about concerns my 3 year old!
1 – What is your favorite Christmas movie?
I’ll start by saying that one of my favorite subjects is movies, so I might end up going on and on a bit to answer this question.
My taste in movies tends to favor foreign language films, classics from before 1975, and sometimes more recent independent movies. I’m not a snob though, I certainly will watch the latest blockbuster and will enjoy them while they are on, but they don’t usually convey much emotion so I don’t tend to remember them for too long. Ask me about Italian neo-realism of the 1950′s though and I’ll bore you to tears! So I’ll start first with one of my favorite movies of all time, not a Christmas themed movie at all, just one I happened to have seen on Christmas, and one I’ll never forget.
I spent a memorable Christmas Day a few years ago, sick with the flu, lying on my sofa watching an Italian movie, “Umberto D”. Released in 1952, directed by Vittorio De Sica, and starring Carlo Battisti as the title character. This is the story of an elderly man and his love for his dog. I don’t know if it was because I had the flu at the time, or if it just reminded me either of dogs I have had in the past or of my Italian grandfather, but I found this to be a very bleak and sad film but one that is also full of life. If you have ever loved a dog you should see this movie, you might not want to see it on Christmas though! The one good thing about having that awful flu that Christmas was seeing that movie.
I have much happier non-flu related Christmas memories spent with family. My in-laws have a number of movies that they watch just about every Christmas. ‘The Thin Man’ series of movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy, with their elegant and sophisticated humor. These are movies that I hope are never remade. ‘The Sound of Music’ is a favorite of everyone in the family. Though I have never seen the whole movie, and my sister in law will chase me from the room if I try to start watching it when it has already started. She strongly feels that it has to be seen from the beginning, or not at all! My father-in-law likes any Humphrey Bogart movie. We spent one memorable Christmas afternoon 2 years ago watching a Bogart marathon on Turner Classic Movies. I believe his favorite is ‘Key Largo’, mine is ‘Beat The Devil’ or maybe ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’.
To actually answer the question though, for Christmas themed films, I do love the usual classics like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, but as my favorite I would have to choose not a film but two animated shows originally made for television; ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, and ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’.
For ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, I love the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi, the scenes of the children skating and dancing, and the reading by Linus of the Nativity story. I try to watch this one every year. I own the soundtrack and will sometimes play it ‘out of season’!
There’s a scene towards the end of the Grinch where the title character is watching the Whos in Whoville as they are gathered in the town square singing their ‘Welcome Christmas’ song. He rides down on his overloaded sleigh and they welcome him into the town. That scene always makes me tear up. I was in a children’s clothing store last year with Mr. C when that scene came on the TV. ‘What’s wrong Dada?’ little Mr. C said. ‘Dada is happy’ I said.
2 – What’s Your Favorite Flower?
Ten years ago, as I was getting packed up to move to my new house, my neighbor came by and gave me an Iris rhizome. She called it a ‘Ginger Ale Iris’, because she had seen one blooming in the front lot of an abandoned ginger ale bottling plant in my soon to be former town. Kind of has a ginger ale color too. Ten years later, it has spread to the point where we get about twenty or more blooms every spring. If and when we do move from here, I’m taking them with me.
Another one is Tradescantia. No, I’m not that organized a gardener that I immediately know the Latin names. The nursery where I bought sells all of their plants only by the Latin name and they were nice enough to tell me the name when I emailed them a photo. This is a perennial I’ve had for many years, it has yellow-green foliage and dark blue flowers. Very striking. I’ve never seen a flower with this combination of colors. It’s also known as ‘spiderwort’, and this species below is known as ‘Sweet Kate’.
So if you’re in the Boston area, and you’re looking for very high quality native plants, check out Blanchette Gardens in Carlisle! They don’t offer a mail order service, unfortunately, but it’s worth a trip if you’re at all nearby.
3 – Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage
Coffee. As described in a post a week or so ago.
4 – What is your passion ?
With about 3,000 or so books in the house, I’d have to say my passion is books. Reading is involved too, but I buy quite a few more books than I’ll ever read. I think that having had many publishers as clients when I was in Advertising, I developed an appreciation for well designed books. I can usually spot a book designed by Chip Kidd. I can also usually identify the cover artist of Sci-Fi and Mystery paperbacks from the 50′s and 60′s.
I admit that I do sometimes judge a book by it’s cover. If it’s an interesting old book, I can’t resist. J can’t either. If we’re at a used book store or a library book sale and I see something interesting from Penguin Classic , Soho Crime, or a university press such as Yale or U California, I’ll get it. New York Review Books has a great line of Classics now. Very nicely designed, with striking covers and quality paper. They’ve introduced me to a number of authors, such as Georges Simenon, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Oakley Hall. J and I do tend to encourage each other’s book buying habit, though we do try to limit the amount we spend, as I wrote about here. In the past, I was also able to get a number of titles for free since they were published by clients!
If you look closely, you’ll see that I’ve stacked the shelves here at least two deep!
5 – Favorite Time of Year?
Anytime of year when there is no snow.
6 – Favorite Time of Day ?
Don’t know if I have one. Though I suppose sunset would be it. I’ve always loved the movie ‘Days of Heaven’. I found out long after I had seen it that the director, Terrence Mallick, filmed the majority of the scenes in the film as close to sunset as possible to get the ‘magic hour’ look.
7 – Favorite Physical Activity ?
Hiking or Biking. We’ve done plenty of hiking with Mr. C, starting him off very young at about 6 months or so. We bought a baby backpack that I used to carry him up the White Mountains of Vermont, or the Monadnock area of New Hampshire. Haven’t been able to do a lot of biking recently though! I know that there are child trailers, but I’m too safety conscious to go ahead and get one. Maybe in a year of so we can all go biking again, and I can get my beloved Bianchi out of the garage!
8 – Favorite Vacation ?
We love going out West when we can, beautiful scenery, great hiking, and delicious food. I sometimes will post a photo taken on a number of different trips we’ve been able to take, such as this one, and this one. Here’s another one:
Now part 2 of the award is that I have to nominate some other blogs. I’m still fairly new at this so I don’t have a lot of other blogs to suggest, just two that have added some ‘Sunshine’ to my own blogging experience:
SueD51 - Sue has been blogging about the Boston area music scene, circa late 70′s early 80′s. This has brought back a lot of fond memories of old favorites and forgotten bands from my high school days. She has a better memory than I do, and I’ve enjoyed seeing what she writes about next.
AutumninBruges – I admire this blogger’s creativity in starting a ‘challenge’ involving asking readers to post a story inspired by a different song each week, especially since the blog is in English and Italian is her first language!
Whew, must be my longest post yet! Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far, and please do check out the nominated blogs and also the nominator of my blog - Perfecting Motherhood