Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

During the week that Doug was gone, Kate and I went to Trader Joe's one day. It was promising to be beastly hot, so I wanted to get it done early, but Kate was fractious and I, feeling harried and apparently more scatterbrained than usual, left the house without my debit card. I did not realize this until later, of course. We got to Trader Joe's and did our shopping--ran into Jessica from church and her kids, and said hi--then we got up to the checkout line and as the cashier was ringing up my stuff it suddenly hit me. That awful realization: Oh no! My card is in my other pants! Aaaaargh!

I reluctantly pictured dragging Kate all the way home and back again (nap time was fast approaching) and then I remembered Jessica. After a quick consultation with the cashier I ran and found Jessica (fortunately they were not very busy and there wasn't anyone waiting behind me at that point) and asked her if she would be able to cover me and I'd pay her back later that day. Jessica was agreeable, so we went back up to the register together, only to discover that the cashier on the next lane had paid for me. Seventeen dollars, minus some change. I was astounded. My cashier said, "Isn't Dagmar awesome? I think I owe her about two grand by now." As I stood there gaping and stammering, Dagmar waved it aside and said, "No no, it's good. Seriously. I'm a mom." I asked about her schedule for the day, so I could bring her the money, and she said, "You can pay me back, or just do something nice for somebody else." She told me she was going to Oregon for the weekend but would be back after that.

I drove home feeling rather stunned. I've had experiences, at times, of having someone there to help me right when I needed something, and I've felt blessed and grateful. Little things, usually. Never a complete stranger to the tune of seventeen dollars. I decided to make Dagmar a card to give her along with the money. She struck me as something of an artistic, free-spirit type (she had long dreadlocks adorned with big ceramic beads) so I thought she might appreciate something like that.

It took me a few days before I got the card done, what with one thing and another (Kate wanted to help, which was not helpful). I put the money inside and wrote her a little note, and wrapped it up pretty. I called to see if Dagmar was working, and we went down to give it to her. She loved the card (said I really didn't have to pay her back), got a hug, and then as I was trying to tell her how much I appreciated it I got all teary-eyed and she said, "Aww! Give me another hug!" When we left she said, "You made me happy! Thank you!"

The funny thing is that when I handed Dagmar the card she had no idea what it was for, and when I reminded her about what she'd done she said, "Oh! That was you?" I honestly think that if I hadn't paid her back she wouldn't have thought of it again. How many people would do something like that for someone they'd never met? I'll think of Dagmar next time I'm able to help out someone who needs a hand. In the economics of kindness, it's a gain to be able to pay it back and pay it forward.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Point and Click

Kate has learned to use the computer mouse! Our baby is growing up so fast. *sniff*

We had a week without Doug, while he was away at scout camp (not this last week but the week before). That was an interesting experience. It was also about the hottest week ever. Boy, we're glad that's over. (On both counts--Kate and I were kind of getting on each other's nerves.) When Doug left Monday morning, Kate was just barely starting to figure out how to use the mouse, and by the time he got home on Saturday she was clicking away like a pro. There's a lot of fun stuff on noggin.com and on starfall that she enjoys playing with.

There are several "Scribblevision" games on Noggin where you color in pictures and then it animates your coloring within a larger scene. That's some pretty cool programing. It's also fun because you don't have to stay in the lines, but can make the picture look like something else. (One page has a bird flying by, flapping its wings--Doug turned it into a flying boy who flaps his arms.) There's also the Upside Down Show's Schmancy Schmashup Game where you create your own drawing and it inserts it into a video. We've had some fun with that one.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Seasons of Discovery

I have a couple of circle journals that have been in my possession for waaaay too long. I got this one done today. The theme is seasons. Instead of doing a page about my favorite season, I decided to take a different approach.

I used some of Anita Stergiou's papers from her Floriade Collection, and decorated it with my Potato Prints and other stuff.

Killer Bunnies and Cooking Rats

Friday we we over to the Tracys' house to play Killer Bunnies. They discovered this game recently and had been telling us what crazy fun it was, so they invited us over to play. It certainly is a complicated, wacky game. I didn't really get a good sense of it, just playing it the one time (and we had to cut our game short because it was past Kate's bedtime), but I was intrigued enough to want to give it another go.

We found the font on the cards kind of annoying, which was one drawback, and we also spotted an "effect" that should have been "affect." Oops. It's one of those games that has multiple expansion packs, and some of the cards refer to other cards that haven't been created yet. Now that's planning ahead.

Saturday we went to see Ratatouille. We don't get to the theater very often--the last movie we went to see was Serenity, almost two years ago. But we are fans of Pixar in general and of Brad Bird in particular, and we'd been looking forward to Ratatouille since we first saw the teasers. We decide to take Kate along, figuring that two-and-a-half might be old enough for her first "big movie," and that a cute little rat might capture her attention. Well, the movie experience turned out much like the wading pool experience--she didn't want to be there. I eventually got her to go to sleep (which messed up her nap schedule for the rest of the day), but at least Doug and I had a good time.

This movie may not be particularly engaging for young kids, but we enjoyed it and will probably buy it when it comes out on DVD. In fact, while I was watching I found myself wishing we had it on DVD already so I could listen to the commentary. The story was solid and the execution masterful, as expected. We particularly enjoyed the stylized animation in the end credits. As my own art tends to lean heavily on the representational (essentially just copying what I see, most of the time), I am impressed by the pure artistry in this sort of thing. It's like a really good dish that you want to savor and study to figure out if you can reproduce it yourself.