Oh my heart.
Oh my heart.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that this is a recreation of the Jamestown fort. As my friend Lori said on Instagram, “the Ikea stepstools are a dead giveaway.”
The settlers are getting along all right so far, despite a stagnant water supply and a rather heated dispute about whether the fort should, or should not, have an anachronistic radio tower. I mean, why let a perfectly good tomato cage go unused?
One young settler expressed consternation over the gap in the walls of the brick storehouse (due to the discovery of a brown widow at the bottom of the old brick pile), but his older compatriot pointed out the storehouse needed a doorway, after all. Crisis averted.
It’s 9pm, I’ve just sent off an assignment that was due, and we’re about to celebrate Beanie’s birthday with a viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring. (Well, half of it. It’s long. It’s late.)
This morning I taught my three local literature classes, wrapping up with a close reading of Billy Collin’s “Marginalia” with the four 7th-8th grade boys in my last class. They loved the egg-salad stains. I love them—all these kids in my little seminar-classes. Beanie’s class is developing outlines for King Lear essays, so that was a lively discussion. We sit at the outdoor tables at a taco shop (ever since our cafe closed down) near a culinary school. Today, a few minutes into our session, the lovely server at the taco shop came out with a plate full of gorgeous little tarts and pastries, beglazed, beswirled, bedrizzled. The culinary students are doing desserts this week and their instructor shares the overflow with the taco shop staff, who in turned shared the bounty with us. And ten minutes later, the chef walked past our table with a platter held high—a few dozen more confections. Into the taco shop he went, and out came our server friend with another plate to share. 🙂 Now that’s how to fuel teenage writers.
Sixteen. The child below is sixteen now, many inches taller than her mother. May her days be filled with lemon-cream surprises forevermore.
We interrupt this reading journal for a brief burst of mommyblogging. (But I promise you some Poetry Friday at the end.) The child whose blog name was decided before his real name was firmly settled upon…turns eight years old today.
Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
The poem’s final stanza paints a somewhat grim vision of the boy’s likely future—”Made to tread the mills of toil,/Up and down in ceaseless moil”—but we’ll acknowledge that the weary adult may from time to time experience a pang of envy, looking at the carefree child with his life before him, “living and laughing as boyhood can.” Eat, drink, and be merry, the poet seems to be urging the child, for tomorrow you must get a job.
This bleak perspective sent me seeking to find out more about Whittier. I learned that he worked as editor of several weekly papers, including the New England Weekly Review, and was a passionate and active abolitionist. His anti-slavery publications and lobbying efforts earned him much enmity, including being stoned by angry mobs. He was politically active, pushing for legislation to end slavery, and was a founder of the Liberty Party which eventually morphed into the Free Soil Party. In addition to numerous abolitionist pamphlets, he published two volumes of antislavery poetry. In the late 1840s and ’50s, he served as editor of an influential abolitionist paper called The National Era. He was one of the founding contributors of the Atlantic Monthly. He was supportive of women writers, and in fact Sarah Orne Jewett, with whom he worked closely, dedicated one of her books to him. In short: Whittier was one of the good guys. And the wistfulness with which he urges the Barefoot Boy to celebrate his current joy and freedom makes sense in the context of Whittier’s grim awareness of the work that awaits him in the adult world. The more I learned about him, the more I saw that my initial take on the poem was a bit reductive.
I came to realize this was a particularly apt poem for me to ponder on my son’s birthday, here at the dawn of 2017. I understand why Whittier can’t extol the delights of a magical childhood—rooted in the small delights of the natural world, “rich in flowers and trees,/ Humming-birds and honey-bees…”—without his mind running to the toil that awaits the boy when he’s grown. We’re not finished yet. In the world of man, there remains a great deal to be done.
This week’s Poetry Friday roundup can be found at Keri Recommends.
In a couple of weeks, this blog will be twelve years old. (So will The Wine-Dark Sea. Melanie and I, who were to meet in the comment box, happened to begin our blogs on the same day.) Even with the occasional dry spells I’ve had, twelve years means a lot of posts. 3,324 of them, in fact. Plus another 496 in drafts.
Them’s a lot of words.
Every couple of years, when the anniversary rolls around, I decide to wander through the archives and revisit old entries. Usually this results in my noticing broken links, wonky formatting, and missing photos (due to my Typepad-to-Wordpress migration in 2007), and I get first sidetracked and then overwhelmed by the attempt to clean things up, and within a week or two I’ve forgotten all about the whole Memory Lane idea. I don’t expect this time to be any different. 🙂
In that first month, January 2005, I published ten posts, some family-focused, and some diving right into gushing about books and things we loved. In that, I’ve been pretty consistent over the years. In personality tests, I always fall right on the introvert/extrovert line, and I realized a few years back that my extrovert tendencies manifest largely in the impulse to show-and-tell. If I’m loving a book, I need to talk about it. If a resource or game has sparked enthusiasm for someone in my family, I need to spread that information. It’s in my wiring. I’m sure that’s why blogging has been such a satsifying vehicle for me. This whole site is my turn to get up in front of the class and talk about my favorite stuffed animal.
And so Signing Time is prominently featured in Bonny Glen’s first month, because in Jan 2005 we were in the thick of our ASL immersion. Wonderboy’s hearing loss had been firmly diagnosed a few months earlier (after a stint with tubes to rule out conductive loss due to fluid), and he got his first pair of hearing aids in November 2004, at eleven months old. The Signing Time DVDs were daily viewing in our home for a good five years or more, and they still get pulled out from time to time even though everyone knows them by heart. They pop up over and over again in my posts from 2005-2010 or thereabouts. We even got to Skype with Rachel at one point.
The first picture book I recommended here is one I happen to have sought out just the other day, because I want to read it to Huck and Rilla soon: the beautiful Boxes for Katje. From my notes in 2005:
When I read this picture book to the girls, Jane had to take over for me near the end because I was so choked up. Candace Fleming’s beautiful story takes place in a small Dutch village, post World War II. Young Katje receives an unexpected package in the mail: a small box containing soap, socks, and—wonder of wonders!—chocolate, gifts from an American girl named Rosie. What follows is a heartwarming exchange of letters between the two girls, and a vivid illustration of the ripple-effect of generosity.
February 2005‘s posts could almost have been written this year, so full are they of the same books and resources I’ve just been pulling together for use this year. I guess that’s because Rilla and Huck are about the same ages Jane and Rose were in 2005. I’m cracking up right now to see I wrote about A Case for Red Herrings, because I found that on a bottom shelf just yesterday and shrieked with glee to Jane over it. Also discussed:
• It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma, another beloved picture book I grabbed last week for my read-soon shelf;
• The Scrambled States of America—that one was a library book and I think I checked it out again for my younger set a couple of years ago, but it might be time to put in another request;
• Jim Weiss’s storytelling CDs, in particular the Shakespeare one;
• By the Great Horn Spoon, one of our all-time great daddy-readalouds;
• Small Meadow Press paper goods—Lesley Austin’s lovely stationery and planner items which are still in daily use on my desk (I keep our homeschooling notes in her beautiful Wild Simplicity Daybook); and
That month was also the first appearance of my “These People Crack Me Up” tag, and I’m giggling afresh over some of those Rose and Beanie stories. The “woset in my closet” story!
(Amazon Affiliate links on this site help keep the lights on)
Scott is going to growl at me for this post. Old pictures of our children make his heart ache, the big softie.
Argh, Facebook, Facebook. You make it so darn easy for me to slap up a photo or funny kid quip, and then a year from now I’ll be sad I didn’t preserve those memories here. I was looking for a conversation today and found myself scrolling through dozens of moments I’d shared there…instead of here.
Clearly I need to cultivate (re-cultivate) the habit of—at the very least—reposting those moments here every couple of weeks. For me, for my own future enjoyment. But also for the family, and for my bloggity friends who eschew Facebook. After all, this intense life-sharing I do started here, didn’t it?
Okay so here’s a WHOLE BUNCH OF STUFF from July.
Official recap post on Brave Writer Blog (featuring video of Julie Bogart & me hamming it up in a lip-synch performance of “Home” from The Wiz—one of my favorite musical theater songs OF ALL TIME)
Found in my old room: this page from an issue of Young Miss magazine circa 1985 of the haircut I longed for in my post-Oliver (as in the musical, as in I’d Do Anything for this role including chop off all my hair) days. By the time that awful cut was grown out, this puffy ‘do was no longer in style. Didn’t stop me from sighing over the photo anyway.
Attention Scott Peterson: Your 10yo daughter is listening to Wildfire. WHAT HAVE YOU WROUGHT?
Last month we learned that Wonderboy’s cerebral palsy qualifies him for a lifetime family membership at the San Diego County YMCA through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. *Family* meaning every single one of us. When they handed me my membership card today with that little word “lifetime” at the bottom, I suddenly had something in my eye. A lot of happy somethings. Because “lifetime family membership” has many layers of meaning in this context.
SDCC recovery plan: Naruko sheet mask + @WestWingWeekly podcast.
Using my phone camera as a mirror just now & found myself attempting to expand my own face into close-up view. AS IN I SWIPED MY ACTUAL FACE
Comic-Con was great. I am wiped out.
(A very short story, The End.)
Here: a few thousand more words.
Tomorrow: a return to Regularly Scheduled Life.
…Rilla is ten years old today.
The posts from the week following her birth gave me a lot of smiles. And then I just sat here quietly freaking out for a while because that was TEN YEARS AGO.
Actually, I guess the first couple of photos here are from March. (1) We hadn’t been to Old Town San Diego in a while and made a quick pilgrimage there one day during Wonderboy’s spring break. (2) Rilla’s bunny chain—entirely her own design—is the best Easter decoration I’ve seen in a long time. Those ears!
(3) How Huck likes to rock his Math-U-See.
(4) Library day. I want that Eric Carle rug!
(5) Another library-day shot. What I love most about this photo is that the bed they’re on belongs to neither of them. It’s Beanie’s—the bottom bunk, which has long been the favorite place for my girls to sprawl. Beanie, meanwhile, does most of her own sprawling on Rilla’s bed. Go figure.
(6) Monarch caterpillar on our milkweed: always a sight that brings me joy.
(7) Wonderboy raised these sunflowers from a handful of old seeds spilled in the bottom of a bag of mostly-empty seed packets. The color surprised us!
(8) Also a surprise this year: the giant blooms on a neglected rosebush by our patio. Loads of them! It’s like Valancy went at the bush with her clippers.
(9) Playing with a Hobonichi Techo-style layout in my bullet journal. Mary Ann Scheuer and I had a fun Skype session last week to chat about my bujo system. What’s working these days: Separate books for my messy notes and my bullet lists. It’s sort of a left brain/right brain thing: I need a space for scribbly notes of all kinds, an unkempt, all-purpose thinking-on-paper space; but I also need nice, neat(ish) to-do lists with boxes I can fill in as I accomplish tasks. It took me a LOT of years—and the revelation of the multiple-insert traveler’s notebook—to figure this out: that I need the two separate spaces.
Yay, now I can fill in that ‘blog’ box!