Thoughts while packing for a move

July 7, 2017 @ 8:26 am | Filed under: Family Adventures

That blanket I started while pregnant
Those cloth dolls I started while pregnant
That quilt I started while pregnant
That needlepoint project I started while pregnant
That round robin quilt block group I started while pregnant
That needle felting
That beading
That spinning
That scarf
So many lives
I started while pregnant

****

This is just to say

I have discovered
the thank-you note
I wrote you
in 1998

and which
I never mailed
but I did stamp
and seal

Forgive me
we loved those books
so Boynton
and so dear

****

Does this spark chagrin
Does this spark regret
Does this spark your life flashing before your eyes
Does this spark a memory of that time we

wednesday

July 5, 2017 @ 9:08 am | Filed under: Family

Eek, it’s all happening so fast. Today the kids have their last piano classes. This will be a hard goodbye. They’ve been students at Wagner’s Music School since shortly after we arrived here. It was Jane and Rose then, each in their own class—small Wednesday-morning group classes with our homeschooling friends. A few years later, it was Beanie’s turn. Jane and Rose grew up. Their classes graduated. New crops of beginners rotated in: Rilla’s class, and this year, Huck’s. Miss Cyndi—calm, cheerful, inspiring—taught them all.

Oh, this one is really a hard goodbye.

And it isn’t just piano—these are my lit-class kids. For three years, while Rilla was upstairs in piano, I’ve taught English lit to Beanie and her friends. At first we met in the coffee shop right below the music school; then, when it closed, we moved to the outdoor tables of the neighboring taco shop, swapping muffins and tea for quesadillas and salsa.

This year I added a second class during Huck’s piano lesson—the younger sisters of my first group. And then we added another class after lunch, this one full of the boys I’ve taught poetry and writing to over the years. Oh, I’m going to miss these kids. The lively discussions, the belly laughs, the sudden insights.

Piano is also when I got to squeeze in some mom time. Mostly in the interstices—a dropoff here, a pickup there—but often we found time for a nice little gabfest during Beanie’s lesson, between my two morning lit classes. As your kids get older and activities ramp up, your leisurely playdates diminish. You learn to make the most of the scattered minutes at the front and back of things.

Afterward, there’s lunch at the park with our homeschooling friends. If I start to write about THOSE hard goodbyes I’ll never get out the door this morning.

Northward, ho!

July 3, 2017 @ 10:45 am | Filed under: Family

Some news now, some news later.

The now news: A week from tomorrow, we are moving to Portland, Oregon.

I just totally freaked myself out with the words “a week from tomorrow.” Jiminy crickets, this is happening fast.

Of course there is lots more to the story, and that’s the news to come later. I don’t mean to be a tease. 🙂

the art of persuasion

June 14, 2017 @ 7:32 am | Filed under: Books

Me: Here is this stack of seventeen gorgeous books for us to choose from for our next readaloud

Huck and Rilla: No, we want the next Moomins

Me: Twist my arm why don’t you

That’s my girl

June 9, 2017 @ 4:43 pm | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

Me: “Our family uses a lot of hyperbole.”
Rilla: “Mom, I would NEVER do that.”

“…strange archaic sympathies with the world”

June 3, 2017 @ 9:12 am | Filed under: Books, Commonplace Book, Connections, Fun Learning Stuff

The black curagh working slowly through this world of grey, and the soft hissing of the rain gave me one of the moods in which we realise with immense distress the short moment we have left us to experience all the wonder and beauty of the world.

The Aran Islands, J.M. Synge

This week Beanie and I reached the J. M. Synge episode of The Irish Identity. The quote above found me at the perfect time, as I neared the end of Emily St. John Mandel’s lovely Station Eleven, and on the day the President announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Even after the people of the south island, these men of Inishmaan seemed to be moved by strange archaic sympathies with the world. Their mood accorded itself with wonderful fineness to the suggestions of the day, and their ancient Gaelic seemed so full of divine simplicity that I would have liked to turn the prow to the west and row with them for ever.

“Consider the snow globe.”

June 2, 2017 @ 7:24 am | Filed under: Books

What happens when you read Station Eleven in bed before opening your laptop to Paris Agreement discussion: profound discombobulation. What are these fossil fuels you speak of? Here in Year Fifteen, electricity is a distant memory and the children have never seen a lit screen. Uh, like the one on which I’m reading this book, these posts. I’m addled. Somebody fix me a plate of wild boar.

He stood by the case and found himself moved by every object he saw there, by the human enterprise each object had required. Consider the snow globe. Consider the mind that invented those miniature storms, the factory worker who turned sheets of plastic into white flakes of snow, the hand that drew the plan for the miniature Severn City with its church steeple and city hall, the assembly-line worker who watched the globe glide past on a conveyer belt somewhere in China. Consider the white gloves on the hands of the woman who inserted the snow globes into boxes, to be packed into larger boxes, crates, shipping containers. Consider the card games played belowdecks in the evenings on the ship carrying the containers across the ocean, a hand stubbing out a cigarette in an overflowing ashtray, a haze of blue smoke in dim light, the cadences of a half dozen languages united by common profanities, the sailors’ dreams of land and women, these men for whom the ocean was a gray-line horizon to be traversed in ships the size of overturned skyscrapers. Consider the signature on the shipping manifest when the ship reached port, a signature unlike any other on earth, the coffee cup in the hand of the driver delivering boxes to the distribution center, the secret hopes of the UPS man carrying boxes of snow globes from there to the Severn City Airport. Clark shook the globe and held it up to the light. When he looked through it, the planes were warped and caught in whirling snow.

Related: How the United States Looked Before the EPA

Thoughts Upon Reaching the Raspberry Cordial Scene in Episode Five of Netflix’s Anne With an E

May 28, 2017 @ 5:09 pm | Filed under: Books, Television

WARNING: THIS POST IS NOTHING BUT SPOILERS. 

Okay, I tried. Give it a chance, I told myself. There’s merit in the idea of putting Anne’s brutal backstory onstage and taking an honest look at the grim reality of the late 19th-century orphan’s plight. And some minor plot adjustments are to be expected with any book-to-screen adaptation.
 
So I hung in there when Marilla sends her back to the orphanage over the lost brooch (!!) and when Matthew gallops off to retrieve Anne, incurring a head injury along the way. I hung in when Anne rejects him in the train station, until he refers to her as his daughter. (!!!) I hung in there when Matthew and Marilla decide to show Anne they really do want to keep her by changing her name to Cuthbert. (!!!!)
 
Major plot alteration after major plot alteration, I hung in there. Ruby Gillis’s house catches fire and Anne rushes in to shut doors and windows, retarding the blaze but nearly dying of smoke inhalation–what?? Marilla gets invited and subsequently disinvited to join an organization of Avonlea mothers interested in progressive education for girls…okayyyy. Montgomery addressed that topic quite deftly with Miss Stacy (who hasn’t appeared in Anne With an E yet), but I can roll with it, even if it’s significantly ahistorical for these Avonlea mums. Anne is outright snotty to Jerry the hired boy (who has an interestingly large role in this adapation). Anne and Diana see Mr. Phillips touching Prissy Andrews’s hand and Anne informs the girls this means they are making a baby. Um what?
 
I even rolled with Anne smashing the slate in Gilbert’s face—a seemingly minor change but one that indicates a major shift in the direction the series has gone with her character. Amybeth McNulty has gotten high marks for her portrayal of Anne, and I agree she’s spot on in some respects—the delight she takes in delivering her grandiloquent speeches; the raw emotion on her face when she’s feeling rejected, which is about 80% of the time—but she tends to take Anne’s passionate outbursts into vicious, tantrumy territory. And the show keeps a tight focus on the drama, failing to present the small, funny moments that show us why the Cuthberts fall in love with Anne so quickly–even Marilla.
 
And here I am halfway through episode five and I’ve had just about all I can take. Anne has spent most of this episode snarling and sniping at Marilla like she’s channeling Nellie Oleson. She’s been prone to a sassy tone throughout the series, but the ramping up to eleven in this episode is due to Anne getting her period. Which: le sigh. Marilla, appeasing her, says Anne may invite Diana to tea. Anne displays about five seconds of almost-Anneish joy before diving into a shrewish harangue, insisting that she MUST have puffed sleeves for this occasion. She’s pretty nasty about it. “Matthew, tell her!” she demands, throwing in an exasperated “ARRRRGH” for good measure.
 
And now we’re at the raspberry cordial episode, and Anne. is. drinking. it. too. They’re both getting wasted. I heaved my own Anne-Cuthbert-Nellie-Oleson ARRRGH at the screen and closed the tab. 
 
Through the first three episodes I kept asking myself how I’d evaluate this show if it weren’t an adaptation of my lifelong favorite book–if, say, this was an entirely new work of fiction. I think I’d be interested–the scenery is gorgeous, and Matthew and Marilla are terrific–but by now I’d be ready for someone to give Anne the old Plum Creek leech treatment. Or maybe we could call in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for the Puffed Sleeve Tantrum Cure.

Snufkin gets it

May 19, 2017 @ 9:54 am | Filed under: Books

The Hemulen, moaning piteously, thrust his nose into the sand. “This has gone too far!” he said. “Why can’t a poor innocent botanist live his life in peace and quiet?”

“Life is not peaceful,” said Snufkin, contentedly.

—Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll