Archive for November, 2012

Speaking of photos…

November 30, 2012 @ 6:29 pm | Filed under: ,

The parrots rushed up out of the schoolyard tree and I tried to capture them—the vivid emerald wings against the blue, such a sight!—but my camera couldn’t manage their color and their speed, not at the same time.

I love the story, quite probably true, that these birds are descendants of some long-ago escapees. You run into them all over town; you’ll be riding along with your windows down and realize, suddenly, that you’re shouting to be heard above the din, and one of the children will cry out, “Oh, the parrots!” and everyone cranes necks to find the raucous green sky-ballet troupe. This time of year, they seem to favor our neighborhood, especially the giant Moreton bay fig tree just the other side of our backyard fence. They annoy our crows, who nest there. The crows flap up in a huff and scowl down from the power lines. The parrots just laugh.


November 30, 2012 @ 2:50 pm | Filed under:

My work is consuming everything else just now, and I’m aching for a return to our usual routine. Soon, soon. But the very best things we do seem to be pegged firmly in place after all these years, even when we’re beset with upheavals of one kind or another—chief among the ‘best things’ being good books, long walks, and time spent watching plants grow. Our German studies are pretty well pegged to a specific time of day now, too. Earworms for Rose and Bean (with the two youngest kids listening in and absorbing a great deal), and Memrise for me. I’ll start the girls on a German course at Memrise soon. (Beanie is doing state capitals there, though, and having a fine time. And we’ve finished the Trees of England course!) As for Jane, she’s plugging away at Japanese with Earworms and Pimsleur.

The sourdough starter is coming along quite nicely. It’s about ready to bake with, as soon as I get a chance. Rilla has appointed herself Chief Assistant Starter-Feeder. She loves to peek inside the crock a few hours after feeding time to see how high and fluffy the starter has grown.

The word “crock” reminds me that I JUST DISCOVERED YOU CAN MAKE CHEESECAKE IN THE CROCKPOT!!!! Amusingly, I learned this at Pinterest mere minutes after declaring that I can’t bear to look at Pinterest right now because of all the Christmas cheer. I am so not there yet. If anybody uses the words “Advent” and “this weekend” in a sentence together, I shall scream, I’m warning you.

Great conversation about blogging going on over at Jenn’s. I chimed in to express my angst over photos, which you’ve heard from me plenty of times before. These days, I hardly ever use my camera (it’s never been the same since I dropped it on the street); I snap quick pics with my phone and am exactly the kind of Instagram-filter-applying hack that real photographers scoff at.

Snapped on our morning walk. I have a whole string of #morningwalk photos. I love Instagram because it means I’m finally keeping that photo-a-day journal I always meant to do. Of course this means nearly all my photos are: the trees of our neighborhood; the sky over our neighborhood; children with books on their faces; the living-room floor with children all over it; and the inside of my crock of starter.

Wonder Box Special

November 29, 2012 @ 1:45 pm | Filed under:

I wrote about Wonder Box in my GeekMom review of subscription boxes for kids:

I discovered Wonder Box when I was looking for a birthday gift for my three-year-old godchild, the brilliant daughter of my fellow GeekMom, Kristen Rutherford. When it comes to presents, I’m usually sort of a one-note giver — books, books, and more books — but this time, I wanted to give something different, something Kristen and Vivi could do together. Something hands-on, creative, and fun. The second I saw Wonder Box, an assortment of crafts and activities aimed at kids ages 3-6, I knew I’d hit a bullseye. You can order Wonder Box as a one-time gift, or sign up for a monthly subscription.

More details in the post. They’re now offering a $5 discount on orders through Jan. 13—use code HOLIDAY5-03 at checkout.


Late November

November 28, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | Filed under: ,

Our roses are blooming, and a big clump of daffodils is coming up right under one of the rosebushes. Tricksy plants, growing all the time. The freesia and rain lilies we planted are well up now (but weeks from blooming), and the nasturtium and cosmos seeds are coming in nicely. One plump grapefruit ripening on the tree. Just the one.

The neighborhood parrots visited the other day. They travel in a raucous swirl of green and chaos. I tried to get pictures, but they hid in the trees and then swirled up and away faster than I could focus. Which is a pretty apt metaphor for my life, these days. Bright, noisy, swirling past in a blur.

There’s a parrot there somewhere; can you see it? Blink and it’s gone.

All Dem Leaves

November 26, 2012 @ 4:29 pm | Filed under: , , ,

Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins.

This is Huck’s current favorite read-aloud. I grabbed it from the library on impulse a couple of weeks ago—we’re short on fall color here, and the cover appealed to me, but I didn’t expect it to grab the three-year-old’s attention. Shows what I know. The kid is smitten. He thinks it’s called “All Dem Leaves.”

The bold images on the cover are a good foretaste of what’s inside. We’ve spent many happy moments poring over these bright leaves, matching their shapes to their names. Turns out we have a lot of sweet gum trees on our street—almost the only sparks of autumnal foliage we see here. (Mind: we’re not complaining. 70-degree weather and soaring blue skies. I’m content to satisfy my fall-color longings with children’s books.)

Rilla’s a fan of the book too—it ties in quite serendipitously to the fun we’ve been having with the Trees of England course over at Memrise. (By golly, I know my horse chestnut from my blackthorn now.)

Most of you probably live in places where the gold and scarlet has been stripped from the branches by now, in late November. (Jiminy crickets, it’s late November. I’m quaking.) This recommendation may come a bit late; we’ll all be in Holly and Ivy mode soon. But if you’re not ready to let go of autumn, you might enjoy a ramble through these colorful woods.

More Kindle Deals (not that I intend to make a habit of this)

November 26, 2012 @ 7:27 am | Filed under: ,

Lot of Kindle deals worth pointing out today: The James Herriot books for $2 each or $3.72 for the first three together—All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful.

Mr Popper’s Penguins & Strawberry Girl for $1.32 each

Boxcar Children books for .99

Julie of the Wolves for $1.32

Bunch of other stuff, including Michael Chabon, William Styron, Alice Walker, Pearl S. Buck. I’m super happy because The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is $2 & I’ve had my eye on that for ages. What other Muriel Spark should I read? I enjoyed Memento Mori so very much.