Saturday, November 25, 2006

12 dogs of christmas

I got this last year for my kids and it's one of their favorites. It was filmed in Bethel and Portland, Maine. It's pretty good. It's hard to go wrong with that many dogs.
I also really like the new Lassie. They did a wonderful job on this remake. I cried buckets the last fifteen minutes of it. We were in the theater and it was embarrassing! I don't know what it is with me and animal books/movies. I cried and cried at the end of the audiobook The Incredible Journey. I was driving and I nearly had to pull over. I cried when I read aloud Ginger Pye to the kids. I guess I'm just a sucker for dogs.

Friday, November 24, 2006

friends and babies

Karen, if you are not finding that babies frequent your family gatherings, you may consider adopting some Mormon friends. Babies will ever abound. Warning: Mormons of the western variety may be prone to eating large quantities of jello in all forms.

I am abundantly blessed, but yesterday I found myself feeling thankful for good friends.

We shared our Thanksgiving meal with the A family, some friends we've known for about ten years. They were a young couple without kids when we met, and now they have five gorgeous little blondes. Three girls and two boys. Their youngest is that adorable five-month-old peanut in the photo. I was taking lots of pictures of him, so of course we got some teasing about it being our turn to have a fifth.

Then in the evening the G family came. We've also known them at least ten years, and like the As, they have five children. In fact, they are also all blondes--and platinum blondes at that! They have a wee little newborn boy who was born on Halloween. I got to hold him for awhile, and it was a good baby fix. :-)

For more baby fix, check out Montse at Beehive Academy. They are homeschooling alfalfa farmers in Nevada. She is the beautiful mother of seven! (And I think she is younger than I am.) She had six girls and then a few weeks ago gave birth to, lo and behold, a little man!

I found myself thinking now and then of my blogger friends and family, and I darted upstairs for a few minutes to shares those photos. You mean more to me than you know. Thank you for dropping by. Thank you for chatting. Thank you for your interest in my dull life!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

happy thanksgiving

happy thanksgiving

from marcus

Marcus loves to recite this little poem to us, and it sounds so cute in Spanish! Here it is, more or less, in English:

It is not just a turkey,
as you can plainly see.
I did it with my hand,
a little part of me.
I give it to you with love
and with it wish to say
Have a beautiful, glorious,
happy Thansgiving Day!

Monday, November 20, 2006

sr. sudoku take two

J was not impressed with the photo I posted of him playing with his sudoku game. He said, "My head looks enormous and my body looks tiny." I thought he was crazy until I looked at the photo again. He was right! Weird perspective strikes again! I laughed so hard when I realized that his head did look really big and his body really small, that my knees buckled and I had to sit down. J said drily, "You're going to give yourself wrinkles."
I'll have to get another, better shot of him playing his favorite game.
Yesterday a little old lady at church told me that she liked to look at my husband because his eyes never stopped sparkling. "They always, always have that little sparkle," she said.
I told J and he said, "Yeah, I seem to be popular with old ladies. Maybe you'll like me when you're old."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

roby lakatos

Last night J and I went to a Roby Lakatos concert. I am still trying to recover. I dreamt all night of gypsy violin. I stumbled through teaching my gospel doctrine lesson today as I tried to push Lakatos and his incredible ensemble out of my mind.

It was a Minnesota Orchestra Pops concert. Lakatos and his ensemble, including a 2nd violin, double bass, pianist, and cimbalom player, play an interesting fusion of gypsy music, classical, and jazz. It was phenomenal. It was vigorous and powerful, tender and sweet. We were only three rows back, directly in front of them. We could smell their cologne they were so close. We could tell Lakatos' 2nd violin, Lászlo Bóni, had a bad cold we were so close. I felt exhausted after the concert from trying to absorb everthing. The flying hands, the sound. I wanted to watch everyone at the same time. I wanted to dance or cry or both!

Here at the bottom of the page you can hear a couple recordings of Lakatos. There is no way I can say what my favorite piece was. I was sure that "Fiddler on the Roof Suite" would be my favorite, but all of them were outstanding. The only complaint I have about the concert is that it was too short.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

more limberlost

I really hope it doesn't bother Bookworm that I do this, but she just made this comment on my post about A Girl of the Limberlost, and I didn't want anyone to miss it. Several of us have read this book and maybe others, too would like to discuss it more:

Sorry you didn't like it! I never felt Elnora was perfect mostly because of her fixation on clothes and what others thought of her. I guess I really sympathize with her because of her tough childhood. Anyway, GSP doesn't always make her men out to be idiots. Freckles is about a man. So is Keeper of the Bees, and The Harvester, and in some of them it is the woman who is slow on the uptake. :-) Also, I don't necessarily think Philip is stupid for having thougth he loved Edith. She really represents "society" and "worldliness" and the affair is a commentary on how many people raised in "society" take some time to realize the "real" when they see it. I just got the movie recently and am partway through it. It is low-budget and doesn't stick to the storyline, which is why I don't like it. I like the book and can't see messing with the story. And I guess the rapid character changes don't seem weird to me, since that's what my family and history have been like. Once something we were missing was really brought home to us, change came rapidly. So I guess it seems realistic to me because I've lived it. :-)

I'm so glad that you commented, Bookworm. I was hoping you would! Maybe I'm not subtle enough to get Porter. Maybe I'm missing her tone. I'm not always good at reading for tone. I thought that she was putting forth Elnora's fixation on clothes and others' opinions as good qualities, and I felt a little confused by that. To me it seemed like the author was saying there was no chance that she ever would have made friends or become popular if she hadn't found stylish clothes, like she was entitled to it or something. The mother is painted as an ogre because she wouldn't cut down trees and put oil wells on her property so that Elnora could afford expensive clothing, and I'm like, "What?!" because it seemed to contrast with an important theme of the book, the conservation of wild places.

I see what you are saying about Porter's portrayal of people raised in a worldy way having a hard time seeing things as they are. That helps.

As far as what I said about the dramatic character changes, maybe they would not have bothered me as as much (after all, they made for interesting reading) if it weren't for the highly fantastic circumstances of Elnora's birth, her father's death, and mother's consequent hatred toward Elnora. When that finally came to light, it annoyed me to the extent that I was then prejudiced toward the rest of the book, and sensitive about any other possible melodrama. :-)

Also, I don't think I can say I disliked this book. There is too much in it that I like. And I do want to read other titles by this author.

i am not anorexic

It seems that some people (hello, Father) were a little alarmed at the audrey photos I put up on flikr and think I could stand some fattening up. Let me assure you, it is just the angle of the photo. In the third photo the perspective is weird, so it makes my eyes and nose look huge and my body look tiny. My body is not tiny. What I weigh right now is what I weighed when I was 6 months pregnant with my fourth child. The measurement of my thigh is probably the same as what Audrey Hepburn's waist size was. Yup. This girl is well-padded. She eats her almonds and avocados and Triscuits with cheddar.

Now that I look at these pictures, I see that my neck looks thin, too. My neck is thin. That's how God made me. I'm afraid that no amount of almonds, avocados, or cheddar is going to change that, nor my bra size, either. :-)


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was inspired by Athena to do some glamorous self-portraits. Grace Kelly was her inspiration, and I was going for Audrey Hepburn here.
Heaven help me, but this was a lot of work! I was surprised at how scanty my make-up looked in the photos, because I really slathered it on. The hardest part was putting on the fake eyelashes. But oh, how I loved them once they were on! I've always wanted to try on fake lashes. Audrey Hepburn was almost never photographed without them once she was famous. I also put on black liquid liner. I'm not good at it. In a lot of the photos you could tell that I'm not good at it. I thought I had managed a big, thick, black line, but now I see that I would have needed it even thicker to get a real Audrey look. I am tempted to try it again another day. Next time I want to try the camera timer so that I can get shots from further away.
These photos are not the greatest but it's a start.
When I think of glamorous photos, I think of Auntie Lee. When I was about ten or eleven, Auntie had graduated from high school and lived across the street from us in a trailer for a little while. I always walked into Auntie's trailer reverently, practically holding my breath. Not only was she the epitome of glamour, but everything she touched seemed to turn beautiful. She and her friends dressed up and did their make up to look like movie stars and then they took pictures! It was SO cool! Now, that woman was gifted with hair and make up. I had a picture of her in a fur coat standing in front of a Christmas tree. I used to take it to school, show it to my friends, and brag that she was my aunt. I would normally get very satisfying responses, like "No way! She's gorgeous!"
Auntie, whatever happened to those photos?
Check out this short film from Dove's campaign for real beauty.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

pick me ups

The big one groans and beats it to her room
But the little ones giggle,
Dive under table
Covered ears and squeezed shut eyes
As if the very sight of Mum with her
Mean violin
makes the din
more squeaky screech creaky.

For her part (curved pinkie
Bent thumb)
This is how it’s done.
This is how she keeps it in,
Or rather

Another one is when she puts on
“Get Along
Home Little Cindy”
And she hoes down.
But this time the big one stamps
And the little ones
Because it’s fun
Jump and spin and tramp.

a girl of the limberlost

This is was a LDSMomED selection. I thought I had read it before but it turns out I hadn't.

I finished it about a week ago, and since then have been pondering what it is about this book that made it not quite work for me. After all, I absolutely love many similar books, like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Anne of Green Gables, etc. I did enjoy reading A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, but I sometimes felt frustrated with it.

The first problem is that there are a couple of characters with the intriguing names of "Freckles" and the "Swamp Angel" that are frequently mentioned in the book as if we should know all about them. But I didn't. Doing a quick internet search turned up Freckles as another book by Porter. Well, that must be where we find out about these characters, but I have not read it! I would have appreciated a little more information about these two. I kept flipping back through the book to see if I'd missed something.

The main difficulty I had with the book is the characterization. The main character, Elnora, is perfect. She is the epitome of graciousness, beauty, and intelligence. As if that were not enough to make us hate her, she becomes a concert violinist a few short years after taking up the instrument. We can see why Ammon falls head over heals in love with her, but do we have to watch? Ammon comes perilously close to being perfect, too. The only thing that saves him from it is that he is a man, and therefore stupid. Wait a second! That wasn't me talking, it was Gene Stratton Porter. One gets the sense that Porter thinks all men (or young men at least) are hormone-driven, drooling idiots when it comes to women. So, save Ammon's infatuation with a spoiled, selfish, capricious, stunningly beautiful girl, he is perfect also.

Most changes of heart take place a little at a time, but I know that there are occasionally these drastic night-to-day transformations in people. In A Girl of the Limberlost, dramatic changes are the rule rather than the exception. One such change in a book adds interest and drama, but more than that makes melodrama.

The end was unsatisfying. Ammon and Elnora are out of the picture for a big chunk at the end, and we are left with the boring Edith Carr. I liked her better when she was nasty.

I did finish it, and certainly there is a great deal to love about the book. The descriptions of nature are fascinating and reverent. It is really brought home in the book how much our souls thirst for the beauty that is found in nature. I had to return the book to the library before I could jot down some good nature appreciation quotes out of it. It made me miss my Maine woods!

I am not a good artist, but I liked how the above sketch turned out back when the girls and I were keeping nature journals a la Charlotte Mason.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

all slander all the time

John Ellis, you are so on the nose with your article on the opinion page in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal!

I don't watch much t.v. so I didn't have to see the negative campaign ads this year. But John Ellis says this: "The net effect of this constant and unrelenting assault on politicians and the political process is voter resignation and ultimately a kind of doomed acceptance. It must be true. They must all be hypocrites, fools, thieves and scoundrels. They're talking about themselves, after all. It's $1 billion of self-portraiture."

Yes, I can feel this net effect. It influences me. I did vote on Tuesday, but I couldn't help but feel a bit of slimeyness as I did so. I felt like washing my hands after handling that ballot. And it should not be this way! There is not reason for it. It is having a terrible effect on our country. Precious few good, qualified people are insane enough to want to run for office, as Ellis notes in the article.

"One would think that the major parties would grasp the concept that they are destroying the very profession they purport to love, and act accordingly. ... But in America, the major parties don't ever think in broad, national terms. They're all tactics and no strategy. They don't advertise themselves at all. Instead, they spend the hundreds of millions of dollars they raise microtargeting supposedly single-issue voters and bombarding them with negative messages about the opposite party's alleged disdain for those concerns."

Yes! Yes! Who else is so fed up with this? Who else hates to admit being a member of either of these parties? I fantasize about walking into the Senate or House of Representatives one fine morning and clapping my hands for everyone's attention. "O.k., everyone. I know we've said some unkind words about each other, but here's what we're going to do right now. We're going to step across that aisle and give hugs."

But you can't completely blame the politicians. Maybe this is total naivete, but I like to think that many of them are good, honest people who want to serve their country. Somehow we have made them think that this is what you need to do to win. Somehow we have let this happen, and we need to take responsibility for what falls to us. It isn't George Bush who is dividing this nation. It's us, because we are letting it happen. We have forgotten what civility is. We are attacking each other and demonizing each other. We are being narrow minded and vindictive. We have thrown thoughtful debate and respect for others' viewpoints out the window.

It's got to stop.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

two causes for celebration

It got up to 74 F today.

And I just finished my last college paper.


Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment night is a meeting held on a quarterly basis for Mormon women. We call it "Enrichment," and the purpose is to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ, learn parenting and homemaking skills, and provide opportunities to socialize.

We had a super fun Enrichment meeting last night. Five of us spoke on traditions from other countries that help strengthen families. I talked about Mexico, and other sisters described traditions from Brazil, China, Holland, and Peru. My Brazilian friend got us off to a rollicking start and set a fun tone for the rest of the evening. I learned how to samba! It was a lot of fun and I can see why those Brazilians enjoy it so much. There can not be a more partying people than the Brazilians.

I talked about the Mexican festival Dia de los Muertos, one of my favorites. On the evening of November 1, (J's birthday) Mexican people head to the cemetaries with food and candles. They party with their deceased. Some people think it's gruesome and creepy, but I think it is admirable that they remember their departed loved ones in this way. In the Mormon faith, we strengthen family ties by doing religious ordinances for the deceased in temples, so it seems perfectly natural to me to have such a celebration. I also talked about making tamales at Christmas time, and the big Christmas Eve celebration. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Christmas Eve is celebrated in large, extended family groups. They eat tamales, dance, sing, and visit. At midnight they give each and every person in the family a kiss and say Merry Christmas.

The woman who talked about Holland is married to a man who grew up in Holland. She said that in the Netherlands people say that Sinterklaas lives in Spain. Why not? I'd choose Spain over the North Pole any day. This Dutch Santa writes down children's good and bad behavior in a big book. On the 5th of December he sails on a boat to Holland accompanied by Zwarte Pieten, "Black Pete," a helper dressed in Spanish clothes, and a white horse. Dutch children leave hay in their shoes for the horse, and Sinterklaas leaves their shoes filled with candy. (Does that sound right, Auntie Lee?)

I thought it was a particularly fun Enrichment night. I am grateful that I can be part of such a fun-loving, faith-promoting community.

Monday, November 06, 2006

i knew a woman

I think every woman who loves this poem by Theodore Roethke would like a man to feel this way about her:

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)
Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

adios comment moderation

I turned it off. It seems that several of you have tried to post comments that haven't reached me, and you've been left wondering if I didn't publish your comments because I didn't like what you had to say. No! Never! I published every comment that appeared, honest.

Comment moderation wasn't working out and now it's gone.

If that jerk comes back and makes another obscene comment, I know you'll all go after him for me. In a very civil, dignified manner of course.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

election season etiquette

is the title of an excellent piece from the Taste page in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. I have been thinking a lot about this lately.

"What passes for political discussion these days is often sharp and nasty. People come to dinner parties not with debating points but with baseball bats. Bush is an idiot; Clinton is a liar--end of conversation. Unless, that is, someone dares to disagree, in which case he is a liar or idiot too. College reunions, family gatherings, even worship services--almost every occasion has become a danger zone."

Sound familiar? I don't think this election is nearly as bad as the presidential election of two years ago, but maybe that's because I have been avoiding the people and situations where I might be exposed to such. I am still amazed when I think of some of the bitter words hurled at me by some fellow Mormon moms on a homeschooling e-list two years ago when I stated that I didn't appreciate the rampant Kerry-bashing they were indulging in. I received several nasty emails, one even anonymous in ALL CAPS. Yikes. I was also present at a homeschooling co-op group a few days after Bush defeated Kerry when one woman insulted in very creative ways the people who had voted for Bush. I know I was the only one there who had voted for Bush and it's possible that she didn't know that since I hadn't advertised it or anything. However, she might have had an inkling. These were situations that effected me personally and were deeply unsettling. I don't think it's because I'm thin-skinned. I don't think it was the personal attack that bothered me as much as the hatred and complete lack of reason behind it. I was also unsettled by bitter exchanges I witnessed that did not involve me personally. What I found so unsettling was the apparent glee these people felt in hating others. I did not expect fellow Christians and mothers of young children to feel justified in their hatred, and to even wallow in it shamelessly.

"Ms. Martin notes that only good old-fashioned manners--e.g., no personal attacks, no obscenity--can make discussions of controversial topics possible. But Stephen Miller, author of 'Conversation: A History of a Declining Art,' is not sure that civility, once abandoned, can be restored. He told us that many Americans have retreated into 'anger communities,' including partisan 'Web sites that provide grist for their mill.'"

I think these "anger communities" are scary. I think that when the next presidential election starts in full swing, someone needs to start some sort of campaign for election season etiquette. We can join the movement and wear buttons of a certain color indicating that we are "safe," meaning that we will not engage in personal attacks or use obscene language when discussing our political views.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

missing comments?

It's come to my attention that at least one person has been making comments on my blog that don't get to me, and are therefore not published. Has that been happening to anyone else? If so, you may be under the incorrect impression that I have been choosing not to publish your comments. I have published every comment that comes to me.

I know this comment moderation thing is a pain in the neck. Hang in there. I'm going to keep it on for another week or so.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

felicidades, amor

Doesn't he look a lot like Marcus in these?
It's my Captain J. Wentworth's birthday today (remember those Jane Austen quizzes? Can't find them right now to do a link). Anyway, of all the Austen heroes J is supposedly most like Captain Wentworth of Persuasion. J read that book recently and really liked it. And yes, he admitted to identifying with the hero.
He is my lover hero and my well-made man.

But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face;

It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists;

It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees—dress does not hide him;

The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes through the cotton and flannel;

To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more;

You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.
-Walt Whitman