Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I can't remember if I posted this or not. Several weeks ago someone asked Bernie what she was going to be for Halloween. "A witch," she replied. And then, "I would like to fly around on Halloween night but my mom won't let me use the broom." We all laughed of course, but Bernie was dead serious. She narrowed her eyes and said, "I don't think that's very funny."
The kids designed those jack-o-lanterns themselves. It's very cold here tonight. Bernie got tired after an hour of trudging around all bundled up. Georgie, Lidia, Marcus, and the neighbor girl all lasted another hour and brought home loads of candy. We only got a few little trick-o-treaters tonight, but lots of middle schoolers and up. I'm fine with that as long as they're wearing costumes.
More Halloween photos here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

this is no angel

Sometimes I honestly don't know how I'm going to get through the day with this child. She's wearing a witch's hat, which is very apropos this morning.

Thank heavens she has older siblings, so I can say things like, "Is Georgie sitting on the table? Is Lidia sitting on the table? Is Marcus sitting on the table? No. Then Bernie doesn't need to sit on the table." I find myself saying such so frequently it's almost a refrain. I probably bore her with it and I know I bore myself.

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


While preparing to teach gospel doctrine class I ran across this statement by Elder Merrill J. Bateman:

For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” “(bore) our griefs, … carried our sorrows … (and) was bruised for our iniquities” ... He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

comment moderation

Sorry I had to turn on comment moderation, everyone. Some jerk (no one I know) made a weird comment on my blog a couple days ago.

does this girl look happy?

Both my poor mother and J have heard me complain ad nauseum about the tortuous linguistics class I'm taking right now. And I've kvetched loads about how I despise independent study. Frankly, I have felt very discouraged about finishing college for the past couple months. I know it is completely ridiculous, because after these two classes I only had one left to go. One measly class.

But no. But no! It turns out that I will GRADUATE this [EDIT: expletive deleted] DECEMBER! I talked with a BYU advisor today and she informed me that I do not have one more class to take. After I finish these two, baby, I'm done! Done!
Whooooooooooop! Whooooooooooooop! Whoop! Whoop!

a triumph

Speaking of turning weaknesses into strengths, Lidia has triumphed. Last year she very frequently came in dead last in her gym class races. She felt badly about it. She said to me once, "I don't know why, Mum. I run as fast as I possibly can! Other kids don't seem to be trying that hard, and they even beat me!"
Last week in gym class they did scooter races. You know those little platforms with four wheels? You sit on the platform, hold onto the handles, and power the scooter with your feet. Or you can be on your belly. Lidia announced as we walked out of school to the car, "Mom! We did scooter races and I came in first, then second, then third, then second again out of all twenty-seven kids! Can you believe it?!" I almost couldn't.
I think we can attribute Lidia's increased strength to Irish dance. When she first started dance, she was exhausted during class. Sometimes she would just lay down, right in the middle of class! She had a terrible time during skills class, which lasts an hour and fifteen minutes (normal class is an hour). I reminded her of that after last Saturday's skills class, and she laughed. Now her legs are very strong. She doesn't get to practice every day, but when she does she will sometimes put in an hour. The other day I went out on some errand that took over an hour. I left her doing a slip jig, and when I came back she met me at the door, soaking in sweat and face bright red. "I've been practicing all this time," she said proudly.
Felicidades nina de los pies rapidos!

Monday, October 23, 2006

gift envy--you've been tagged!

I really liked what Auntie Lee said in her last comment about enabling our children to find what makes them unique. I take this to mean helping our children discover and celebrate their gifts.

Not all gifts are necessarily natural aptitudes. There are many inspiring examples of people who have turned their weaknesses into strengths. Every Mormon primary child learns of Heber J. Grant, a prophet of our church. In his youth, "sissy" was said about his baseball throwing, "lightening struck an ink bottle" was said of his handwriting, and "I would like to be at least forty miles away while you do it" was said of his singing. Eventually he played on a championship baseball team, won a territorial award for his handwriting, and as an adult learned to sing solos.

I invite all of the "fellow bloggers" on my list to answer the following questions on your blogs(Auntie Lee, Ave, Mum, and others who comment but don't have a blog, answer in a comment please):

1. What is a talent you seem to have been born with that you have discovered, grown, and celebrated?

I have a natural ability to learn languages, especially the sounds of other languages. For a Spanish linguistics class in college I took an oral exam that tested my ability to speak Spanish sounds, or "sound native" in other words. The prof said, after I'd read my paragraph, that he could not tell I wasn't a native Spanish speaker.

I would like to do more with this. I am dying to learn French and some other languages.

2. What is the gift you think you don't have, that you most envy in others?

I am envious of people who have a natural, spontaneous, fun-loving personality. I have two friends like that. Everyone feels loved and at ease around them. They are the kind that have beautiful smiles, frequent laughter, and big hugs for everyone. They both also happen to be tall and slender, but I don't hold that against them as much as their happy-go-lucky personalities, darn them.

3. What is a talent that did not originally come easily to you, that nonetheless you've developed through practice and hard work?

I mentioned in a previous post that I am not great at social interaction. However, I feel that I have made some improvement in the past fifteen years of trying and trying. I've come to realize that it's silly for me to try to be bubbly or easy-going. It's just not who I am. But I can take risks. I can introduce myself to someone I don't know at church and ask questions that are interesting but not invasive. You might laugh, but that's a big deal for me! It's taken some doing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

homework II

The second part of Orson Scott Card's homework article appeared today. I am laughing because the the first reason given that those "who admit that homework is probably academically worthless in the elementary grades and not very helpful in high school still think kids should have it" is "It gets parents involved in kids' education." Athena mentioned this as a reason she likes her children to get homework. I understand Card's point that those who are unlikely to be involved in their child's schooling would be unlikely to be helping them with homework anyway. However, there are probably many parents like Athena who enjoy sitting down with their children to do homework, or at least appreciate it as a means of knowing what their children are learning and how well. Athena had posted on her dislike of how much influence American parents have in schools, and I'm laughing again because Card's article promotes just such activism. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what I think about parents having lots of power to make change in schools. Athena brings up some valid points. My thought is, either you agree with the changes made and everything's good or you don't and it makes you hopping mad.

I had to smile this morning too at a homework situation at our breakfast table. That's where a lot of last-minute homework gets done, especially for Marcus. I got his homework, a little math page, out of his backpack and told him to eat his breakfast first and then he could do his homework. He said, "No! No!" But get this: He was complaining because he had to eat breakfast before he could do that measly worksheet! He was excited about it. Actually, it wasn't too bad. There were just five greater than, less than, or equal to problems and then he had to make up one of his own. For some reason he thought it was hilarious and he was giggling the whole time he was doing it. I have ceased to try to understand that boy's sense of humor regarding math. He just thinks it's so funny.

I was going to post today on what I considered acceptable homework assignments. However, I love Card's suggestions so I'll list those instead.

It's the biology project where you collect the leaves of forty different
species of tree or bush in your neighborhood and identify them by scientific
name and leaf type. That's not an empty project — it means something, you
learn something, it can't be done in school, and it can be done by high school
students without any help from parents.

It's the major paper for English class where you read three different
novels that tell the story of King Arthur — let's say T.H. White's, Mary
Stewart's, and Jack Whyte's — and compare the authors' different approaches to
the same tale.

It's the poetry project where you are assigned to write twenty poems
using at least five different established forms, at least two poems in each

It's the history project in which you create a map of a major
expedition by Cook or Columbus or Darwin or Magellan, marking all the stopping
points and discoveries.

For drama class, it's a series of monologues; for music class, a
recital; for art class, a portfolio.
These are projects that would take hours
— but because the child would be involved in choosing the topic, and would be
showing progress to the teacher each step of the way, it would be a true
educational experience.

Parental help would be almost meaningless — the child would have to do
all the important work alone.

And one of these in each school semester from seventh grade on — not
one per subject, just one, period — would be memorable, exciting, productive,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Monday, October 16, 2006

rapunzel's revenge

In my excited rambling last night I forgot to mention another of Shannon's books that comes out next year. It's a graphic novel co-written with her husband, entitled Rapunzel's Revenge. It's being illustrated now. The illustrator is Nathan Hale from Provo, Utah, no relation to Shannon or Dean. Shannon has decided that rather than constantly answer the "are you related" question about Nathan with a "no," she is going to say that both Dean and Nathan are her polygamous husbands.

I think that is absolutely hilarious and I hope she says it. At least once.

Seriously, it seems that Shannon gets a lot of oddball comments about Mormons when people find out that she is one.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

be jealous! be very jealous!

Yesterday Lidia and I went to the Twin Cities Book Festival to hear Shannon Hale speak. Shannon is the author of Goose Girl, Princess Academy, Enna Burning, and River Secrets. We love her books! In this post I wrote about Princess Academy. I'm also a big fan of her web site, squeetus, where she has lots of great advice for would-be writers.

One thing I love about Shannon's books is the element of humor. She writes some really funny scenes. I expected her, therefore, to have a good sense of humor in person and she certainly does. We had some good laughs during her presentation, but it was also quite inspiring. Shannon was not exactly an overnight success. Once her first book, Goose Girl, was finally published, it was widely acclaimed. However, she unrolled this long collection of rejection letters all the way to the back of the room. (That's what she's holding in the bottom photo.) She had some short stories that were rejected many times, and Goose Girl was rejected nine times. It was a good lesson in perseverence! I'm really glad she did persevere because I think the world of Young Adult fiction is a better place for having her books in it.

It turns out that Shannon Hale and I have a mutual friend! These pictures were taken today at her home. We read Princess Academy a few months ago in a mother/daughter book group organized through church. This friend who knows Shannon invited her over and we all got to hang out with her for a while! Shannon is down-to-earth and unpretentious, much like her character Miri from Princess Academy.

I don't like the top photo. How come one of you hasn't pointed out to me that when I stand that way in photos it adds about ten pounds? Really, I think a true friend would have mentioned it. Also, I don't know who got my camera lens dirty, but that person better sleep with a weapon. Well, Shannon looks great in that one, even at seven months pregnant. In the bottom photo our friend and Lidia are enjoying a book Shannon wrote in fifth grade. She read it yesterday at the book festival and it's hilarious! I wish I'd had Shannon unroll her rejection collection so I could take a picture, but of course I didn't think of it at the time. Those good ideas always come a few hours too late. I also wish I'd taken more than one book for her to sign. I only took Princess Academy. The others I'd got from the library but I should have bought them anyway and took them for her to sign! Oh well.

I was very happy that Lidia had a chance to meet Shannon and hear her story about becoming a writer. Lidia has announced that she would like to be a writer. I tell her she already is a writer. Good heavens, she's written and illustrated several series. She just hasn't published yet, but that will come.

Shannon talked for a while about a passion of hers. It's something she feels compelled to talk about when she can. She believes that many children lose their love of reading in high school because they are forced to read dull books and it turns them off to reading. She doesn't believe that classics should be erased from high school lit classes, but she would like to see more of a variety of books taught. Children shouldn't get the impression that only old, tragic book are worth reading. If they don't like those old, tragic books, they will not want to continue reading as adults. When Shannon goes into schools she asks who likes to read, and about half the hands go up. Then she asks who doesn't like to read, and the other half of the hands go up. She thinks that if these children were encouraged to read different kinds of books, they may enjoy it more.

Of course Shannon expresses her own views much better than I do, so go here to read it straight from the horse's mouth. Or the pig's mouth, in her case. ('pig' is her nickname) She posts several times on this topic. On that first link scroll down to July 26, "the older the better?" and then July 31, "two cases studies." Then go here and scroll down to "the slippery upward slope" and then "Laurie's take."

Shannon also talked about Austenland, her first adult fiction book, which comes out in May. I am really excited about this one. It's about a young woman who is obsessed with Jane Austen books, and specifically Mr. Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth. Hmm. I can't identify with that. No, no, not at all. Doesn't ring a bell here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

homework: the worst job in the world

is an article by Orson Scott Card in Meridian Magazine. Those of you who've read it, what did you think?

It's quite a rant. What Card describes in the first few paragraphs as being the "worst job in the world" is not necessarily homework, but school in general. I'm not sure I'm with him on every detail, but I find the article interesting because I've been thinking a lot about this lately.

I agree with Card that homework for elementary children is ridiculous. It is supposed to teach them "good study habits." Someone needs to explain to me how completeing a stupid little worksheet is imbuing my child with these habits. Another reason for sending it home is to provide "extra practice." For the child who already understands the concept, why does he need extra practice? For the child who doesn't understand, why doesn't the teacher contact his parents separately and work out a plan for success?

The mom of some twins in my son's first grade class told me that she and some other parents were concerned because their teacher never sent work to be completed at home. They voiced their concerns, and the teacher started sending homework. Why would you be concerned that your first grader is not bringing home homework? Shouldn't we be concerned, rather, if he does?

When my children get home from a long day at school, I want them to play together. Often a neighbor girl comes over and they all go down to the basement and have a grand old time. They engage in imaginary play, which is so valuable. I wouldn't take it away from them for all the world, say nothing about cutting it short to get some homework done. My children practice instruments and they do chores. Lidia practices Irish dance. Marcus plays soccer. We eat dinner together and try to have civilized conversation while we do so (perhaps a losing battle but we fight the fight). My children read for pleasure. They goof around. All of the above is so much higher on my priority list than homework. So, you know what? Sometimes it gets done and sometimes it doesn't.

From Card, about parents who make their children do homework right after school:

And their parents don't let them have those precious late afternoon hours to run
around and be free. Why? So they can get into a better
college? What good will it do them to get into a better college if they
hated their entire childhood?
So they go to a local college instead of an Ivy
League school because of that four percent difference — but they have a
childhood. An adolescence. What do you think will make more of a
difference in their lives? What will make them happier human beings?
That's the goal, isn't it? Not the job that makes the most money, but the
life that has the most happiness — right?
About this "four percent difference" he mentions. I don't understand exactly what he means there. According to Card, homework only makes a "four percent difference at most." A difference in what? Card does not explain.

Anyway, what strikes me about this is the mention of academic goals vs. happiness. Recently my neighbor said something about saving to pay for college and then, "that is, if they go to college. I don't care if they go or not. That will be up to them. I want them to be happy, and if that includes college, then great, but if not, that is fine too." At first this seemed to me a shocking thing to say. Not go to college? How could she wish that upon her children? Now I'm starting to wonder if maybe she isn't on to something. College is not for everyone. There are many career paths that don't require a four-year degree.

Many of us in the Latter-Day Saint community feel pressure to prepare our children to attend Brigham Young University. I know I do. That's where both J and I went to school and where we met. BYU has become very difficult to get in to. For some children, it may be easier to get in to an Ivy League school than BYU, depending on certain factors. You basically have no hope of getting in if you don't graduate from seminary, which requires four years of daily, early-morning classes for most LDS children in the United States. Many LDS parents, especially professionals, push their children to take difficult courses that will look good on their BYU application. I understand this. To tell you the truth, I don't care so much if my children attend BYU or not. However, I want them to have the option. I figure some measure of happiness comes from having many choices available. However, at what cost are some of us procuring these options? Card's article made me think.

Another article that takes a different, though not exactly opposite, view was in the Wall Street Journal last Friday. Naomi Shaefer Riley often writes on education for the Journal, and her article is The Education Grind
Test Question: Why is high school the new college? I have more to say about this but will do so in a future post.

Friday, October 13, 2006

developing a forgiving nature II

More from a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago:

A few years ago I received a calling that was very challenging for me. Now that I look back, I can see that my performance in that calling showed some inexperience and occasional tactlessness. I was asked by the bishop to make some big changes in the auxiliary I was to serve in. There were some of my friends in the ward who, though it’s very possible they didn’t like what I was doing or could at least have seen a better way of doing it, were constantly positive and supportive. I knew that I could count on them to not speak ill of me behind my back or murmur about my clumsy efforts. Probably any of them could have done a much better job in that calling than I did, yet they had the patience to overlook my shortcomings and nurture my strengths. Their support gave me the feeling of security I needed to persevere, learn from my mistakes, and grow. After that experience, I resolved to always be supportive of my fellow ward members in their callings. I decided that I didn’t even want to think murmurous thoughts. (Not that I have arrived at perfection in this area.) Sometimes it is very tempting, but then I remind myself that I want to be a particular kind of sister: a nurturing and uplifting one.

I know that every single one of us has had or will have the opportunity to be deeply hurt or offended at least once by someone at church, at home, or in our community. When that does happen, we could decide to nurse and cultivate that grievance as if it were an exotic, delicate, hothouse flower. Or, we could recognize it for the rank weed that it is and pull it out by the roots.

Family life provides daily and sometimes hourly opportunities for us to work on our forgiving natures. In a play I saw recently, a young married couple is the toast of England. They are rich, elegant, and politically powerful. They see no faults in each other. We envy this couple, but we also pity them. We pity them because we know that such a love cannot last. It is idealized love. Soon enough a blackmailer comes forward with damaging evidence showing that before he was married the husband had committed an unscrupulous act. The husband dreads the moment when his wife will find out about his past sin. They have this exchange before she finds out:

I don't think you realise sufficiently, Robert, that
you have brought into the political life of our time a nobler atmosphere, a
finer attitude towards life, a freer air of purer aims and higher ideals - I
know it, and for that I love you, Robert.

Oh, love me always, Gertrude, love me always!
I will love you always, because you will always be worthy of love. We
needs must love the highest when we see it!

Lady Chiltern eventually learns of her husband’s sinful act, and she is of course shocked and horrified. She believes she can no longer love him. However, she soon realizes, much to her surprise, that she is also capable of sin, and is therefore also in need of forgiveness. In a marriage there must be forgiveness, or there will not be love. Sometimes one spouse has to do a lot more forgiving than the other. In fact, maybe this is usually the case! It is not fair when one spouse has to forgive more than another, but the Lord has something much better for his children than the Plan of Fairness. He has the Plan of Happiness.

with brown-eyed great-grandchildren

I've been looking this morning for that picture of Grammie, but I couldn't find it. However, it's probably one you all have. It's a studio photo of Grammie and Grampy Jim. Come to think of it, it was taken over 15 yrs ago because Grammie gave it to me with a little album to put family photos in to take to Ecuador. I'm so annoyed that I can't find it.

Here is one of her with Marcus and Georgie. My grandmother has lovely brown eyes. When I was a child she always complained that she didn't have any brown-eyed grandchildren. Where is my brown-eyed grandchild? she'd always ask after yet another blue-eyed babe arrived. My eyes turned green and so did my cousin Seth's, but aside from that I think everyone had blue eyes. (Are Paris' eyes hazel like yours, Auntie? Megan has blue, right?) Grammie finally got a brown-eyed grandchild when Moses was born 11 yrs ago.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Somewhere I have a very nice more recent photo of my maternal grandmother, "Gram," who lives in Maine. It was taken about 12 years ago. However, it's in my mass of photos and this one was handy. I've posted it before. It was taken at the time of her high school graduation.
This morning I had a dream about Gram. I dreamt that we were at my parents' farmhouse in Maine. I looked out the front window, and Gram was with my children and some other great-grandchildren on the lawn. She was smiling down at a little toddler and walking slowly (rather painfully, it appeared) among the playing chidlren. My grandmother loves children and they love her. That's the impression I had from the scene.
I then turned and saw my grandmother again, this time inside the house. She was telling my mother that she was going to town to get some groceries for her because some people were coming over for dinner ("suppah" of course, in Maine) on short notice and my mother wasn't prepared. My grandmother was asking my mother what she needed and they were planning the meal.
Then I went into what was my old bedroom and saw my grandmother there, sitting up in my bed, reading a book to Bernie. They looked very happy.
Then I woke up. All morning I have been thinking of my grandmother and missing her.


Seems it's been a long time since I posted about our reading. Last week we finished The Witch of Blackbird Pond on audiobook. (We listen to a lot of books in the car when I take the girls to and from school.) I had forgotten how much I love that book. I read it the first time in fifth grade. I got it from a Scholastic book order, probably accompanied by a horse poster. Weren't Scholastic book orders the very, very best thing about elementary school? Anyway, The Witch of Blackbird Pond is my favorite Elizabeth George Speare book, but I also love the others: Calico Captive, Bronze Bow, and Sign of the Beaver. Except for Bronze Bow, all of her books take place in New England.

At first Georgie and Lidia were not thrilled about The Witch. It does have a bit of a slow start. But soon they were really in to it, asking all kinds of questions. They were surprised by the attitudes of Kit's Uncle Matthew, the Puritan. They were puzzled by why he didn't let Kit wear her fancy clothes. This generated a discussion about Puritans and their beliefs. The girls' interest in Puritans was peaked when I told them about their Puritan ancestors. We looked up information about the Puritans on the internet, and also researched the Society of Friends. We even talked about how influencial early members of our faith, like Brigham Young, were of Puritan stock, and how this influenced their beliefs and attitudes.

The book we are listening to now is The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer. You may remember that I read The Beekeeper's Apprentice this past summer, which is about Sherlock Holmes' meeting a fifteen-year old girl and taking her on as his 'partner in crime,' so to speak. Well, in this one Enola is Sherlock's kid sister. We have listened to two other Nancy Springer books, Rowan Hood and Outlaw Princess of Sherwood. It seems that Springer really has a thing about inventing family members of famous fictious Brits. I see that she's written some Arthurian stuff too. We like her books somewhat. We do not like them nearly as much as others, but since we go through them so quickly, sometimes I need to grab something at the library and that's what's available. It's not always easy to find an audiobook that will appeal to both Lidia and Georgie. I have put a few on reserve at the library, including Stuart Little by E.B. White. Any other suggestions? Last year we heard the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

As far as what the girls are reading on their own, Lidia just finished El Leon, La Bruja, y el Ropero (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Spanish) and Georgie has started reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques again. I'm reading True North by Jill Kerr Conway. It is a continuation of her memoirs. This summer I read the first, The Road From Coorain.

new profile pic

When I first started my own blog in January '05, I started reading other blogs. I noticed that many people used partial images of their faces for profile pics. Just the eyes, just the lips, etc. For some reason I found those pictures disturbing. The images themselves reminded me of, well... dismembered body parts. Also, I wondered what these bloggers had to hide?

Now, almost two years later, I find myself choosing a profile pic showing just my eyes. Why? I don't know. For some reason I feel less comfortable now having my whole head pop up on the screen every time I make a comment on someone's blog. I'd prefer that just my dismembered eyes appear. (Happy Halloween, btw.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

bleak house

Oh my gosh, have you seen it? It aired on Masterpiece Theatre last winter but we don't get PBS even if we stand right beside the antenna. So I've been getting the discs from Netflix.

We've seen episodes one to four. The third disc will arrive Wednesday and then we'll finish it. I can't wait! It's really well done. The actors are excellent, and it is so suspenseful. J likes it too.


Everything's fine now with blogger in beta. It turned out to be a problem with our firewall. So, all the bad things I said I take back. If you do switch to blogger in beta (you will receive an invitation to do so--everyone will have to switch eventually) and start having problems, check your firewall. Of course, just about anyone reading this is probably more computer-savvy than yours truly so I don't know why I'm handing out advice.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

fall party

Still unable to upload photos on blogger. We went to a fall party today for church. I've uploaded some photos from the party on my flikr account, and you can check them out there if you like.

Friends, I would not switch to blogger beta until they force you to.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


O.k., nestle, here it is:

What do you like most about where you live?

There is not one thing that stands out as the very best about living here. That would not be in the bland midwestern tradition. There are, however, many things that I have come to appreciate about life in the Twin Cities. It is green and there are abundant acres of parkland. The Cities are clean. I love the Spanish immersion schools my children go to. I love it that there are so many cultural offerings. On Tuesday J and I saw "Lost In Yonkers" at the Guthrie. It was sensational!

What's one of your all time favorite music albums and why?

Well, actually it's Sleigh Ride! Classical Christmas Favorites. Always around this time of year I get excited about listening to it again. I love the three versions of Sleigh Ride on that CD. Another one I listen to over and over is Holiday Sounds of Manhattan Strings. More generally, I have a passion for some classical, Rennaissance dance, and folk music, especially fiddle.

Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now?

Reading. Even when tempted by other passions like riding horses and hiking, it was always tough for me to put away my book. I actually limited my extra-curricular activites in my last two years of high school so I could have more time to read. And still I can never get enough.

What do you like most about having a blog?

Geez, that's a hard one. Again, it's tough to pick one single thing I like best. I can't decide if it's keeping in touch with friends and family or being able to express myself writing about the things I love. As I have been going through my past posts to label them, it has filled me with joy to read what I've written about my children and family, and to read the supportive and loving comments, too.


Do you like my new layout? It was time for a change. I'm using bloggerBeta now with the new 'labels' feature. I've wanted labels for a long time and even considered switching to a different service, but turns out I didn't have to.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

fall feeling

Something's got into me. I feel saucy and mischievous and irrespressible. I feel triumphant. I feel as bold as the crimson of the amur maples lining the walking path. It is autumn. Autumn has gotten into me and I'm changed.

Gone are the prudent, serious back-to-school resolutions. Gone are the virtuous intentions. My house is a disgrace after several days of beautiful outdoor weather. The children have tracked dried leaves to the remotest corners of my house. Outside they provide a glorious, crackling carpet but in my house they look a mess. Normally that would drive me crazy. Normally I would be sternly declaring to the children, "This is unacceptable!" But instead I declare, "It's fall! And I don't give a rat's rump about this leafy mess!"

I thumb my nose at my virtuous diet. I'm done with summer crudites. I'm eating squash, apple crisp, squash, cranberries, delicious steamy soups, and squash. I think I'll make a pumpkin flan.

This morning I went to get a string replaced on my violin. It took the man a few minutes to do it. I heard rapturous sounds and looked up. Behind the repair desk is the string room where musicians try out stringed instruments for a possible purchase. The door was open and I could see a young man with black, slicked-back hair and dark eyes playing a cello. He was not as handsome as my husband, but the music he played was mesmerizing. His fingers moved quickly, expertly over the strings as he played, and then abruptly stopped when he bent to set down that cello and pick up another. He started playing again, first a few quick scales and then a slow, low, resonant, brooding piece. Then his bow moved to the higher strings and he played with very quick, short, bow strokes. It sounded flippant and I smiled. Again he played scales and then returned to the low, dark piece. Just then he looked up and our eyes met. Have you ever been caught with an embarrassing expression on your face? I was suddenly very aware of my open-mouthed stare, as well as my barely-combed morning hair, makeup-less face, and dreary, non-descript clothes. I looked away. When I looked back, the young man had picked up another cello but this time turned his chair to another wall so I couldn't see him as well!

A few mintues later, well into my morning walk, I started running. I have not been running as much lately, but the crisp air and gorgeous fall colors worked their spell on me. I couldn't get the cello music out of my head. It was the soundtrack for my run. I could see a tall, thin, elderly man walking ahead of me on the path. As I passed him, I could barely restrain myself from reaching out and giving him a pinch on his little old bum. I'm telling you, something's got into me!

after school

For the past couple of days the kids have been having a grand time with the leaves in the backyard. The neighbors' maples loose all of their leaves at once and they're able to make some really big leaf mountains.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

north and south

I've been taking pictures of myself again. I don't think I would have posted these ten years ago or even five. I would have worried what people thought. Isn't this a wonderful thing about getting older? We just don't care as much what people think.

I think next time I will take the screen off the window. Although the screen pattern on my face in sort of interesting. I like the different lights, north window v. south.

adios training wheels!

I wish I'd had time to snap a picture of Marcus jumping off his bike and pumping his fists in the air after his first successful training-wheel-free ride!

old family photos

Almon Clarence Hemenway outside the bycicle shop where he worked as a young man. Almon was my great-great grandfather.

To see more of Auntie Lee's photos, go to my flikr account.