Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quick (but long) trip

Tomorrow morning Tom and I will drive to Virginia to get Joan and David. It's a 750 mile drive, so I'm hopeful that I'll get some serious knitting done (while Tom is driving) and maybe some reading. I'm bringing Mom's cardigan and a pair of socks for her, too. I've finished one sock and am turning the heel for the second one. (The yarn is Sockotta.) I've finished the back of her cardigan and am knitting both the left and right fronts at the same time. (Very mindless knitting so I can keep one eye on the road in case Tom needs an extra pair of eyes when we're in city traffic.)

I'll get to say "hi" to Triny and Sarah, get some Utz pretzels from Food Lion for Steve, then head over to Meg's to spend the night. Hopefully, Meg and I will have time to look through the Knitters', Crocheters', Weavers', and Spinners' Travel Guide 2006 to plot the route she, Penny and I will take through Pennsylvania on our way to Rhinebeck, NY in October.

On Friday morning we'll go to Sue's and get Joan and David and drive 750 miles back to Alabama. The girls will go to Beth's birthday party when we get back, so we'll pray that we don't get slowed much by construction or weekend traffic.

Yesterday at the library I picked up Bud, not Buddy on CD for us to listen to for part of the drive. Maybe at some point we'll pick up a radio station that carries Dick Estell reading aloud - that'll be a treat.

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Reader's remorse

I seem to be experiencing "reader's remorse" a lot lately. The books I choose to read seem so inviting and hold so much promise before I open them. The book jackets are attractive. The blurbs and excerpts are interesting. All together in a fat stack my selected reading material beckons me to drop everything mundane and experience the pleasures of vicarious living in their imaginary settings.

Then I read one and it is flat, with dull characters, uninteresting action, and nothing that compels me to recommend it to anyone else. So I read another one, and it also fails to delight or motivate me. Alternating fiction with non-fiction fails to get me going. Either my choices are lousy this year, or I'm at a different place in life. (It's probably a combination of both.)

The most recent fiction book I read was Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson. I've read other mysteries in this series and found them to be at least mildly enjoyable. This one was disappointing. It wasn't a mind puzzle, like most good mysteries, and the author didn't put out many clues or hints for her readers (or her sleuth, for that matter).
The recipes included, for the most part, weren't ones I would make for my family. The best thing about this book was that I could read it while sitting on the beach at the lake and do the "mommy scan" counting children's heads in the water frequently and not lose my place. I could also knit and watch Chicken Little while reading this mystery. That's not really very high praise for a book...

Now I'm reading Joe Kane's Running the Amazon. It's not as gripping as I'd hoped it would be. Accounts of polar expeditions, mountain climbing treks, and continental exploration are almost always a part of my summer reading, and I can't think of many I've read that I haven't wanted to reread. This one will be a one-time read. I'm one-third of the way through this book and I'm still waiting for my magical carpet ride to get me there. I'm not on the expedition. I'm able to knit while I read this book. Mr. Kane dutifully chronicles his team's trip from (what they presume to be) the source of the Amazon to the Atlantic, commenting on the various team members and how they relate to one another and the South Americans they meet, but I'm not there. He hasn't brought me along, and I really want to be there as I read this book.

I think I'll ask my library if they can get this book for me to try next.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Honduras debrief

Tom and I got the girls and we all arrived home at 3:30 a.m. Both girls were exhausted, but happy and eager to talk about their week at Orphanage Emmanuel.

While there, they painted fences and worked in the medical and dental clinics. More than anything else they played with the children. Jacy said that she and Sarah both used their Spanish, along with lots of hand motions, to communicate with them. They were hugged by the children constantly.

At 6:00 a.m. they got up and had "circle time." That was the worship and Bible teaching time for the orphans. At 7:00 a.m. they had breakfast, then went on to do the day's work: construction, painting, clinics, etc. Lunch was at noon. After lunch they played on the playgrounds with the orphans or took them to the store. The children had to be back in their dorms by 3:30 p.m. so Jacy, Sarah, and the other team members would go back to the "team house" and play Uno, Foursquare, or a ball game they made up. Dinner was at 6:00 p.m. followed by devotions, then bed.

Sarah said she learned to be grateful for what she has, because those children have nothing. They have a communal closet and she saw five different girls wear the same dress on consecutive days. Two special-needs girls who were sisters were there because their mother sniffed glue so she wouldn't feel hungry while she was pregnant with them. One young man had lived in the woods for two years before he came to the orphanage last year and was just now learning to talk and sing. When the team was leaving they passed girls lined up waiting to go to school and the children called each of the team-members by name and said, "I love you! I love you!" Both Sarah and Jacy said the children were starved for affection and wanted to draw out the time they had with the team members. The toddlers all had head lice and scabies so the team began treating them. God answered their prayers for enough medication to successfully treat all the babies.

Sarah says she's very thankful for the family God has given her, too. Jacy's thankful that she doesn't have to live with flies everywhere. Jacy said the verse about God being a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) really struck home as she saw how the orphans love God and live close to Him and believe that He is their father.

The children asked them to come back next year. That's exactly what Jacy and Sarah want to do.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Home from Honduras in a few hours

Jacy and Sarah will get home early tomorrow morning. We were hopeful that we'd have them around midnight tonight, but they just called and said that they're in Texas and their flight has been delayed by about 90 minutes.

Tom and I will go get them from Sherri's house, and have time for a quick debrief on the ride home. They've only been gone for a week, but we've all missed them so much. I'm looking forward to seeing how this mission trip has changed them (if at all). Do they love God more now? Do they trust Him more? Are their hearts full of a need to tell everyone that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Are their eyes opened to the needs of those around them, and if so, what will they do about it? Have they seen prayers answered in amazing ways?

Hurry home, girls.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Who Loves the Rain"

We just had a quick summer storm - a real downpour. Sam and I were so excited to see rain again that we sat in front of the window and watched the rain come down for about twenty minutes.

I picked up a little book of poems we have called Silver Pennies by Blanche Jennings Thompson and started looking for a rain poem. This one is perfect for a rainy afternoon spent at home.

Who Loves the Rain

Who loves the rain
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes,
Him will I follow through the storm;
And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
Who loves the rain,
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes.

~Frances Shaw


Saturday, June 24, 2006


It has hardly rained here for the past month or so. Right now we have rain - glorious rain! Marley asked if she could stand in it. what could I say? Stand in it, run in it, dance in it - I would!

I thought of a poem that fit the moment:

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

~Langston Hughes

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Sandwich day

Dennis, Sue, and their children went back to Virginia yesterday, taking Joan and David with them. Gary, Jill, and their children will come home with us after church tomorrow and have dinner here.

Today we have no guests so this has a been a work day sandwiched between fun days. I changed bed linens, finished up the laundry, swept, vacuumed, mopped, and scrubbed bathrooms. Steve and Tom worked on what was once the old servants' quarters (sounds really la-ti-da, but it's actually a lean-to built onto the old garage). Isn't it homely?

They went to the hardware store and got lots of plumbing supplies to change out the old toilet and sink in there, and capped the water heater that's in the corner. Steve wanted to get some groundwork done so that on Monday they can pull up the old rotten floor and put in a new subfloor. Someday this will be a yarn studio for me (which really does sound rather fancy, but actually means that my bins of yarn and fiber and my spinning wheel will be housed there, and I can dye fiber and felt fiber without worrying about damaging the floor, etc.).

Because Steve had to turn off the water for a few hours, I took Marley and Sam out to the lake after I finished my chores. We spent three hours enjoying the grandparents and the lovely day. First we had salad and sandwiches out on the patio. Then we went in the water for a bit.

The children continued to swim and play in the water, but I got out and read a mystery while knitting an Everyday Cardigan for Mom.

The breeze was pleasant and the shade kept me cool enough to enjoy knitting on a woolen sweater in June.

The blue yarn is from Carodan Farms - very reasonably priced, and I've used their yarn for that pattern before so I know it works well.

Sam and Marley built a sandy "beehive" (not a sandcastle!) before we left.

Tonight we'll prep the food for tomorrow's lunch (pot roast cooked with potatoes, onions, and carrots; lettuce salad; fruit salad of pineapple, red grapes, blueberries, and strawberries; rolls; homemade pound cake with ice cream). And we're looking forward again to enjoying the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ both at church and in our home.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

A game of tag!

Jeannine tagged me - what fun!

1. Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 18 and find line 4. Shakespeare's Flowers "... have been observed by Shakespeare on an afternoon walk..."

2. Stretch out your left arm as far as you can. What can you touch? The bookcase containing the children's current schoolbooks.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? The news (about a week ago).

4. Without looking, guess what time it is. 11:00 a.m.

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time? 11:12 a.m.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? Marley and Sam playing with Playmobil; the air conditioner humming; the dryer.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? Fifteen minutes ago I took the trash out.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? Jeannine's blog. I've had company all week (it was wonderful) and I didn't get on the computer at all while they were here, so now it's time to check all the blogs I enjoy.

9. What are you wearing? A green t-shirt from the most recent Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, hand-me-down greenish shorts from Penny, and my green Birkenstocks.

10. Did you dream last night? Yes, but I can't remember what I dreamed now.

11. When did you last laugh? This morning, as we visited with our friends before they left.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? Books on shelves, three paintings by Joan, two prints of places in California, two clocks, three matted and framed sheets of stamps, a cross-stitched sampler of "The Nine Parts of Speech," a picture of a porch with a swing and Matthew 6:33 written out beneath it, a print of a bouquet of flowers, and a print of a landscape that's faintly reminiscent of Constable's paintings.

13. Seen anything weird lately? A series of articles in the Birmingham News chronicling the exploits of the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) General Assembly this past week.

14. What do you think of this quiz? It's my first time to do one - Thanks, Jeannine, for including me!

15. What is the last film you saw? Nacho Libre last night with our family and friends.

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? Concrete for a parking area beside our garage, materials to finish out the garage apartment, and the rest for the building expansion of our church in Virginia.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know. When I pump gas, the dollar/cents amount always has to end in a 0 or a 5 (e.g., $34.15 or $21.80). I will squeeze drops of gasoline into the tank, if necessary, in order to get the amount due to be a multiple of 5.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt and politics, what would you do? Make DDT available in all countries that are still plagued with malaria (or other deadly pest-borne diseases).

19. Do you like to dance? Only in my livingroom with my babies.

20. George Bush: Daddy Bush--; Baby Bush-- I don't get this. It looks kind of like an SAT comparison.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl. What do you call her? We named our first daughter Jane, but call her Jacy.

22. Imagine your first child is a boy. What do you call him? We named our first son Thomas, and we call him Tom.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad? Yes, but I'm a real stick-in-the-mud and avoid change as much as possible and would have to pray a lot to get ready for it.

24. What would you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate? I have to echo Jeannine, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant..."

25. 3 people who must also do this quiz in their blog: Well, must is a pretty strong word, so I'll just say I'd enjoy seeing these people answer the quiz - Donna , Jennie , and Carmon .


Thursday, June 15, 2006

A lesson for Laura

Yesterday I disagreed with someone. I wanted to forcefully state the rightness of my view. As the conversation progressed, my anger started to grow. I wanted to exclaim my irritation. Demonstrating my bitter feelings would have felt so good at that moment.

But I didn't. I held my tongue. I kept repeating to myself, "A soft answer turneth away wrath," as I listened to my opponent. It was a proud moment for me. I was so good! I was pretty angry inside, though, and last night I replayed the conversation in my head. I had done nothing wrong. I had behaved well - and pretty righteously, too. I prayed and told God that I had been wronged. I was mad about it. I was vexed! Was He going to do anything to make it right? I decided that instead of my regularly-scheduled Bible reading for the night, I would read through Proverbs, paying special attention to all those lovely verses about how the wise hold their tongues, and how fools blabber on. I'd get a little scriptural pat on the back for being such a good girl.

I began reading and was hugely enjoying myself when this little gem popped out at me:

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)

Well, it was nice, I guess, but it didn't really apply to me - or did it? I got a piece of paper and wrote it out over and over again until I'd completely filled the paper. I kept thinking of the character of Mrs. Bennett in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice and how she seemed to constantly squawk and shriek that she was "vexed." Eww! Could that be me? And the second part of the verse... ignoring insults couldn't be very healthy, now really! But the more I pondered it, the more I agreed and saw the wisdom there. It reminded me of one of my favorite proverbs - one I constantly say to my children: Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11) I shouldn't even be angry privately about the matter, and if I felt wronged or insulted, I would be prudent to ignore it - to overlook any offense.

I dreamed about those two proverbs all night long, and when I got up this morning, I spent a lot of time praying for forgiveness and for the words to go and apologize properly and seek forgiveness of the one with whom I'd disagreed (who, when I called and apologized, was extremely gracious). And for the rest of today I've been thinking of those verses and praying that I'll remember and incorporate them all day, every day, in every situation and especially with my brothers and sisters in Christ. (As Steve often says, the only problem with Christianity is the Christians - and we can begin with me!)


Soleil for summer

On Monday I finished knitting up Soleil from the website.

Knitting this pattern was an enjoyable experience. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow - so much so that even though I put the knitting down for a couple of weeks, I was still able to pick it up and start knitting again with no confusion. Had I cast on and knit steadily a few hours each day, I would have finished it in less than a week.

I used a size 7 circular needle (my Denise needles were perfect for this job) with Classic Elite's Premiere in the color Camellia .

Even though the yarn's ballband specified handwashing in cold water, I machine washed my completed Soleil in cold water, then lay it flat to dry and it did fine. The yarn is so soft - probably because of the tencel - and I wore the tank on Tuesday. I wouldn't mind knitting several more of these!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Surprise mail!

This afternoon I went out to get the mail and found this on the front porch:

It was a package from Carmon . She sent me a copy of Louis L'Amour's memoir, Education of a Wandering Man and Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian by Herrick Kimball.

Best of all, there was a newsy letter from her, written on this card (which might be the handiwork of Samantha ) :

I'm looking forward to enjoying my new reading material tonight!

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Monday, June 12, 2006

It rained... somewhere

Today was a real scorcher. The children asked if we could go to the lake, so I ran out to Steve's office, told him our plans, and we took off. When we got there the outdoor temperature was in the mid-90's. The children began tossing towels on the beach and diving into the water when we heard thunder. Everybody came out and headed for the house. We decided to wait on the screened porch for a bit to see what the weather would do. The wind gusted and churned the water to whitecaps. The lightning flashed and thunder rumbled, but we had no rain. We decided to work on the 500-piece puzzle we'd started a week ago. For the next hour, until the wind died down and the thunder ceased, we all snapped pieces into the puzzle of Noah and the ark. When it was safe to go out on the lake we'd finished the puzzle.

Then the children jumped back into the water and I sat on the beach and read The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson. The sun was still covered by clouds, and even though it didn't rain here, it rained somewhere and cooled the air so much (by about 12 or 13 degrees) that it was quite nice outside.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Walking tour

This morning Tom and I went on the "Walking Tour" of our little town. We and several other people met the tour guide on the courthouse steps. He told us that the walking tour is a state-wide endeavor by the state historical society this spring and early summer.

This house was built in the 1830's. Jefferson Davis used the balcony to give a speech urging secession from the Union. The huge tree in front of it is a ginkgo tree - the largest I've ever seen.

Steve has admired this house for decades. He used to dream of buying it, but I think the family that bought it a few years ago have done a magnificent job restoring it and I'm glad they have it.

They have this lovely iron fence around the yard. (There's even a beautiful gate set at an angle in the corner of the front yard, but I didn't get a picture of it.)

I walk by this house when I go to City Hall to pay my bills. I never see anyone outside, but the grounds are always well-kept.

The house next-door has an iron fence that was imported from France.

I learned a little history I didn't know about our new home-town. I also met two very kind ladies who promised to call and come to my house to knit sometime.

It was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning.


Friday, June 09, 2006

A bit of baby knitting

Yesterday I ran, well, walked errands all over town. We live in a small town and there are sidewalks, so whenever possible I walk to wherever I have business.

I walked to city hall and paid our water bill and our gas bill. I walked to the library with Marley and Sam and we checked out books. I walked to the grocery store and bought a gallon of milk and some fruit. I walked to the post office to mail a package to Glenn and Amy and the girls.

The package was filled with knitting for Madyson who is now five weeks old.

I knitted her these cute duck feet booties from Zoe Mellor's book, 50 baby bootees to knit.

I also sent along these herringbone booties that I knitted (pattern from the same book):

Joan knitted the striped baby blanket for Madyson, and the baby bib for Abbey. (The bib pattern came from Mason-Dixon Knitting). Jacy knitted the purple blanket as a carseat blanket for Madyson.

(I bought the embroidered burp cloth at a little store in town.)

They should get the package by Monday. I hope they enjoy the items as much as we enjoy knitting for them!

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Comfort reading

Our next group of guests from Virginia arrives in ten days. I'm busy decluttering and deep-cleaning before they get here. Today Joan and I emptied the two linen closets in the hallway downstairs. (We moved into this house in six months ago. As we unloaded the moving truck, we shoved lots of stuff into available space thinking we'd deal with it all later. Later is now.)

Our house was built in 1875 - well, at least the first floor was. The second floor was added in 1906. This house does not have lots of storage space. Think about furniture of the 19th century - wardrobes, chifforobes, blanket chests, linen presses, chests of drawers, etc. People didn't have closets in their homes then, or if they did the closets were tiny. That's what we have - a few tiny closets in a large home. The family who owned this house extensively remodeled the downstairs eight years ago and very thoughtfully made two linen closets in the space under the staircase. Those two linen closets we stuffed with towels, sheets, blankets, quilts, winter gear (which we may never need here in AL), tents, sleeping bags, pictures that needed wallspace to grace, and a few other odd things.

I would be mortified if our guests opened our Fibber-Magee-like linen closets, so I decide that we'd organize them today. They look great now, and I can allow anyone to open them. Even better, they're so organized, I can now send an 8-year-old to get sheets and she can easily find the right size!

When I'm busy (like I will be for the next 2 1/2 weeks) I find myself eschewing new reads for "comfort reading." I turn to old favorites that are mellow and relaxing after a day busily spent. Last night I picked a book by Miss Read that I've read at least a dozen times: Winter in Thrush Green. It did not disappoint. Within minutes I was in Thrush Green, waiting, along with Winnie Bailey, Dimity Dean, and Ella Bembridge, to find out who has taken the corner house. I know the ending, but the journey there is enjoyed as much for its familiarity as for anything else.

Other favorite comfort reads for me include:
books by Barbara Pym
The Complete Uncle Abner by Melville Davisson Post
Virginia Rich's mysteries
books by Jane Austen
books by Louisa May Alcott
books by Christopher Morley
Agatha Christie's mysteries
my mom's old Childcraft books from the 1940's

This library in Indiana lists books for comfort reading. What are your "comfort reads"?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Summer plans

I always have big plans for summer. The children are done with schoolwork until fall so we drastically relax our schedules and I have more time to do whatever I'd like to do. The trouble is that I am too ambitious and believe that I can do more than I can. So I plan many sewing and knitting projects, make a long list of books to read, get out stationery to write all those letters I need to write, and make a list of museums and parks to visit with the children. I don't think I ever do even one-tenth of the plans I dream up, but it's fun to look at it all at the start of summer and think, "This year we'll do it all!"

So I have yarn and patterns for two cardigans - one for my mom and one for my dad. I have squares cut out for four quilts - one each for Jacy, Sarah, Joan, and Marley. I have fabric and thread for curtains - for Sarah, Joan, and David.

I have an embryonic reading list of books I've not read (any other book suggestions or input on these will be welcome!):
Running the Amazon by Joe Kane
The Lambs of God by Marele Day
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
The Minority Report & Other Stories by Philip K. Dick
The Curse of Treasure Island by Francis Bryan
Looking for Alaska by Peter Jenkins

Now I find out that we'll be having guests coming to stay with us for a week. My summer plans won't see any action yet. I'll be planning menus and activities and making preparations in order that our guests will be comfortable while they're here. We'll have seven guests to add to our family of nine, so there will be lots to do! But it's fun to have company, especially friends we haven't seen in awhile and love as though they were our own family. They've never been to Alabama before, so we'll enjoy introducing them to our new home.

Summer plans can wait indefinitely, but time with people I love must be enjoyed as the opportunity presents itself.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

What's in a name?

Tom: Mom, what does the name of your blog mean?

Me: What do you mean? You can see from the verse, right? I'm echoing the psalmist. What did you think it meant?

Tom: The verse - Oh! I thought it had something to do with yarn.

Me: YARN?!

Tom: Yeah, yarn.... Or maybe some esoteric reference to sheep and wool.

Jacy: I thought it had to do with the lines and wrinkles on your face. You know, You've got all these lines and wrinkles on your face from raising your children, but you really enjoyed the experience of motherhood, so the lines on your face are in pleasant places....

Me [in a thoroughly bewildered tone] : It just referred to the verse.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Summer reading list for David

David asked me to make him a reading list for this summer. I suggested that I give him a list of 15 or 20 books and he choose about 10 of them to read.

I remember the first time I got a summer reading list. It was the summer I was 10 and my parents had taken me to stay with my cousins for a week. Aunt Nancy took us to the Birmingham Public Library. At the circulation desk were stacks of bookmarks printed with reading lists according to grade level. I took one for the 4th grade, one for the 5th grade, and one for the 6th grade. I wish I had them now or could remember the titles printed on them. I do remember that I enjoyed hunting down those books and reading them. On one list was These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In a wonderful moment of serendipity, I mistakenly picked up The Golden Name Day by Jennie Lindquist instead of the other book, and found a story that I hugely enjoyed - more than the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, which I finally read a year or so later.

David is 11 and he has already started his list for the summer:
The White Stag by Kate Seredy
The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy
The Poppy Seed Cakes by Margery Clark
The Deer on the Bicycle by Patrick F. McManus

Jacy, Tom and I decided on 20 more for David to choose from. (Actually, it was more Jacy and less Tom. As Jacy rightly pointed out, Tom's input was suspect as he really only had a tiny stint of reading buckets and buckets of books, and that was back when he was 12 or 13.)

The List:
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Stuart Little by E.B. White
Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda Van Stockum
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
Cheaper by the Dozen by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank Gilbreth
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
The Story of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
Little Britches by Ralph Moody
Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

I'm open to any suggestions of summertime must-reads for an 11 year-old boy. My list consists of books we already have, but I'm not averse to buying or borrowing from the library. Any ideas?

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Now I can say that I've read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Dillard's book reminded me of Lewis Thomas's books The Lives of a Cell and The Medusa and the Snail. I also thought of the book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey as I was reading. Maybe it was the subject matter, or perhaps it was the style. I read Thomas's books when I was 17 or so, and Brand's book when I was 29, so I can't claim to remember any of them very well and I've no plans to re-read them.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is chock-full of adjectives, adverbs, similes, and metaphors. I felt like I was inside Dillard's head and watching her thoughts run by as I read the book. I'm not sorry I spent time reading it, but it's definitely a one-time read for me. However, when a friend lists this book as a favorite, I'll have a bit of insight into that friend's personality.

Now I have to decide whether or not to keep the book for the children to read eventually, or give it away and count on being able to get it from the library for them.


Date night

Last night Steve and I had a "date night." For most of the 23 years of our marriage we have not had either the time or the money for dates. Besides, I think we both thought after we married that we shouldn't have to bother about that sort of thing, but could enjoy our relationship as married people in every situation.

Back in the '90's, lots of advice-givers in Christian circles touted "date nights" for keeping marriages running smoothly. Steve and I laughed at that, but were happy for our friends who zealously "dated." They enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed ourselves, and that was fine.

Perhaps all the talk about dates affected us in some way, though, because for the past two years we've started having the occasional "date night." About once a month or so, Steve will call me from work and say, "Let's have a date night tonight, okay?" Or I'll ask him, "Do you think we could have a date night this Friday?" Then for the rest of the day or week we both look forward to our "date night."

Our date night is probably pretty lame compared to most. We go into Steve's office (he has one here at home) grab a couple of bottles of water, some pretzels or chips or cheese nips, and watch an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Last night we watched Phantom Planet and it didn't disappoint. Jacy joined us (we often are alone, but we don't mind the when the children want to enjoy the movie, too) and Joan wandered in for the last 20 minutes of the picture. The movie was bad, the running commentary by Mike and the robots was funny, and we all enjoyed laughing together.

It was a delightful "date night."

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Friday, June 02, 2006

A new Marine

Tom just called from Richmond. He's signed all the papers and now is a Marine! He's excited and so happy. We'll see how he is after OCS. It will be physically demanding, and he'll be learning lots of new things. I hope he'll keep his enthusiasm and optimism.

I finished Sackett's Land and Ginger Pye yesterday. Sackett's Land is the first of the Sackett books by L'Amour. It begins in England, where Barnabas Sackett lives until he sails on a ship to America to begin fur-trading. There are some bad guys, some sword and dagger fights, some skirmishes with Indians, and a very slight love-interest. Basically the story appears to set the stage for the next Sackett book. I'd classify it as historical fiction - definitely not a western.

Ginger Pye is delightful as a children and pet story. I think I must have read it a decade ago, because it was very familiar, but that could be because it's set in Cranbury, the hometown of the Moffats, and Rachel Pye reminded me a lot of Jane Moffat. (Wow! Can I use any more commas in a sentence?!)

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lake day

Steve and Tom headed for Atlanta at 7:30 a.m. to take Tom to the airport. He has to be in Richmond, VA tomorrow to sign papers for the Marine Corps and run another PFT before OCS in July.

The rest of us went to the lake. I alternated my time between the beach and the screened porch, knitting and reading. The children all swam and played in the water and on the beach. David and Joan also read - David had The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy, and Joan had They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth.

I finished The War Against Boys. Sommers wrote the book in 2000, but I think the idea that boys need to be more like girls and less like boys is still prevalent in our culture. Sommers notes that much of the responsibility for the pervasiveness of this idea belongs to Carol Gilligan, professor of gender studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Unfortunately, Gilligan's "research" doesn't appear to be based on published data. It really is more a case of repeating a statement over and over again until many others pick up the chant.

Ginger Pye will be done tonight, and I should finish Pilgrim at Tinker Creek tomorrow.

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