The first year I lived in Seattle was my "gap year" between college and graduate school. I was a full-time volunteer at a daycare center for homeless children, and I lived in a group house in which I was the only one who didn't have a Significant Other. When Valentine's Day came, I decided not to let the smoochiness bother me. However, I exclaimed to a long-distance friend of mine, "Can you believe that Housemate Charlie made
It was then that I realized I needed to get over my sneering contempt for Valentine's Day smoochiness and reinvent it for myself. The week of Valentine's Day became a time to write letters of appreciation to people and to do something thoughtful and materialistically indulgent for myself. One year, I bought myself an Italian fountain pen. Another year, I bought myself a little red flashlight. I benefited from my good taste in gifts.
When Bede and I got together, we decided we wanted the Valentine's Day Experience. I remember the restaurant where we had dinner, but I don't recall what we ate-- except that when the waiter told us about the
, Bede and I said, "Yes, THAT." After dinner, Bede paid the bill and led me out through the large open window.
February 14 must have been warm that year.
As this Valentine's Day rolls around, I've started writing my letters again. I've got presents for Bede and Lucia, because I like to give and make presents. Since Lucia doesn't read my blog, you can peek
to see what I got her by special request. I'm pleased that some of the dolls in my shop are going to be gifts for other people, too.
I've even become resigned to the sugar-overload that's going to happen on Tuesday in my daughter's class. Before every class party, I caution her, "Don't drink the juice-boxes,"* and fill her lunch with fresh vegetables. Which reminds me-- how factual do you think it is that she is the only one to go to school with a healthful lunch every day? She says all the other kids get candy and chips in their lunches. Is she pulling my leg?** Bede and I work to balance Lucia's need to eat food that's good for her with the desirability to be part of social events.
We have no plans for heart-shaped tortes or anything sugary that night. Valentine's Day is a choir day, and Business As Usual. However, I might make heart-shaped tofu. Or steak.
**Remind me to tell you someday of Lucia's tall tale about how all the other children brought Barbie Dolls to a
. I had a hard time keeping a straight face.
This past weekend, the House of Glee attended Steamcon III, an annual steampunk convention. This year's theme was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We were all dressed nicely, though Lucia was the only one who had a proper alt-Victorian ensemble. Then again, as Steampunk empress Diana Vick says, "Steampunk needs historical accuracy like a dirigible needs a goldfish."
Alisa's Totally Random Blog has a nice overview of Steamcon III, plus many great photos. Favorite costumes of mine included a friend's deep-sea diver costume for the bathing suit competition, the lady with the ship on her head, and the humorous deep-voiced fish. Lucia made a couple of friends, one of whom you can see here. She was enchanted with a lady who went by the name of Princess Eugenie, and they had a spirited talk about which of Princess Eugenie's castles would be the best place for the next ball.
One of the highlights of Steamcon III was the Amphitrite Society Afternoon Tea, during which the bathing suit competition took place, followed by the gorgeous cello playing and singing of Unwoman, a.k.a. Erica Mulkey. Visit her site, listen to her music, feel the chills.
One of my few purchases of Steamcon (and don't think I wasn't tempted by many beautiful, wonderful creations!) was Unwoman's album Casualties. The House of Glee also assented for Lucia to have a silhouette done when the artist, Kerry Cook, overheard us talking and said that she offered half price for children's silhouettes.
Here is the result:
Silhouette by Kerry Cook
We have plans to attend Steamcon IV, which will take place closer to Halloween. Its theme is Victorian Monsters. I joked that I planned to go as a Morlock, but in actuality, I'm drawn more toward aviator chic. It would be fun to dress as Deryn Sharp from Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy, and make a badge ribbon that says, "Barking Spiders!" (There's even a Leviathan contest going on to win Deryn's flying cap and goggles, which you can enter here.) Then again, sometimes I just want to wear silk bustled skirts. In lieu of fabulous dressmaking skills, I am keeping my eyes open for inspiration in thrift shops.
From a conversation I had with Lucia yesterday evening:Me: Nancy Stewart is coming to the Madrona Library on July 1. Do you want to go, or are you too old for Nancy concerts?Lucia: I'm still young enough. [Pause.] I will never be too old for Nancy concerts. I will be one hundred and two.
The House of Glee has returned from a trip back East in which we celebrated the wedding of my cousin to a lovely woman my brother and I refer to as our "cousin-in-law". The wedding took place outside on my aunt and uncle's Pennsylvania farm. Although it was chilly at times, the sun shone on the wedding day, and afterward, we had the reception in a tent. The day after, we enjoyed a picnic with the
Have you heard of the Halloween Fairy? I first heard of her through my daughter's school. On Halloween night, after the fun of trick-or-treating is over, the child places all but a few desired pieces of candy in a basket or bowl for the Halloween Fairy to collect. In gratitude, the Halloween Fairy leaves a wonderful present (i.e. no socks or underwear unless they're on the child's wishlist).
In school last Wednesday, one of Lucia's friends was steering a "truck" full of things and stopped when he saw Lucia in his way. The friend said, "Beep, beep!" Lucia didn't move. "Beep, beep!" he said again. She still didn't move. The friend said, "Excuse me!"Lucia reached over and gently began to smooth down her friend's hair. Lucia's teacher asked, "Lucia, did you hear him say 'Excuse me?'"
I have been reading aloud to Lucia the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved them as a child, and reread them many times. While I recoiled at the racist depictions of Native American Indians and African-Americans (the minstrel show in Little Town on the Prairie) and was able to filter them out, it never occurred to me until I was an adult how these books might affect American Indian and African-American children. Why not? I certainly was affected by reading a lot of classics and contemporary books that were demeaning to women and girls.
Lucia first learned about the Little House books when one of her classmates dressed up as Mary, Laura's older sister. When my father sent out my dolls that had been stored in his attic for over 20 years, I gave Lucia the dolls that I had named Laura and Mary (Fisher Price My Friend dolls from the 1970's). She asked again about the books. I told her that the stories were good, but that there were certain things I objected to. I decided to read them aloud to her with some editing involved plus age-appropriate discussion about those sections.
"Laura" and "Mary" in their little bed
A couple of years ago, I brought up the issue of the Little House books with an online community, and my qualms about reading aloud a beloved series that I nonetheless had problems with. No one came out and directly accused me of censorship, but the term was bandied about. I didn't think that was fair. I didn't say others shouldn't read the books or that they should be removed from the shelves. I talked about my misgivings about giving the books to my own daughter, for whom I am supposed to be a responsible, conscientious parent. When I decided to read the books to Lucia, it was with the idea that this would be her introduction to the stories. Later, when she was older and had more critical thinking skills in place, she could read the books in their entirety.
It's almost two months since Lucia and I started reading the Little House books together. We're on These Happy Golden Years with no plans to continue on to the dreary The First Four Years, published after the deaths of both Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. We've talked about the issues mentioned above, plus the settlers' sense of entitlement to the land, and I think Lucia understands them as much as a 6 1/2 year old can understand.
While she enjoys the stories, Lucia is most fascinated with the clothes described. Last night, she interrupted my reading aloud to ask "What's a polonaise?"
"I think it's a bodice like a basque," I replied.
Please feel welcome to share in the comments or your own blog posts your experiences of being alienated by books beloved to others or your struggles with "problem books" you enjoyed as children.
"My name is Georgia. I want to walk alone."
--Lucia, rebuffing a hand-shake the day after we read Through Georgia's Eyes, a picture-book biography of Georgia O'Keeffe.
One-third of Lucia's class was out Friday because of the stomach flu. This morning, Lucia succumbed. Despite being sick to her stomach, Lucia is in a relatively cheerful mood. She just told me, "When I grow up, my daughter's name is going to be Trixie and my husband's name is going to be Mo Willems." Then, as an afterthought, she asked, "What's Trixie's mommy's name?"
02/18/08 update: Lucia's
Until recently, Lucia was a good sport about eating food. There were certain foods she couldn’t have, like citrus fruits and apple-juice, but for the most part, she’d eat what we gave her and enjoy it. When she entered kindergarten, that all changed. She came home with a whine in her voice and the phrase, “I don’t liiiiiiiike it.”
Once, I asked her not to be a pill. “What’s a pill?” she asked.
Every time I hear or sing Sidewalks of New York, I wish Seattle had its own song that was just as good. I've created my own lyrics for the Seattle version of Woody Guthrie's So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh, but satire isn't the same thing as homage. I only spent two and a half years in New York, but I still miss it.
Here are my chords for the song:
Click on the image to enlarge it
This day has come around again. Thanks to Elaine Magliaro for introducing me to Sherman Alexie's Grief Calls Us to the Things Of This World, for that is the poem that comes to mind today on this breezy sunny day in Seattle.
For the past three days, I have been reading aloud E. B. White's Charlotte's Web to Lucia. Thanks to both my husband and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for alerting
Once upon a time, the descriptive line of my blog read, "Songs, stories and puppet shows." I haven't done a puppet show in a long time. However, I am posting a 4:46 minute video of my 5 1/2 year old daughter's marionette puppet show she presented Sunday morning. It may be of interest only to close family members and early childhood educators (especially Waldorf-trained teachers) but who knows--
For the third year in a row, Lucia was set to be a fairy princess for Halloween. However, yesterday we went to have her bobbed hair trimmed, and then to a consignment shop, where I found a fringed top that was perfect for a little girl's dress-up wardrobe. I told Lucia, "With your bobbed hair and the fringed dress, you could be a flapper!" I told her only a little bit about the flapper
I recently started a satellite blog called A Storytelling of Crows. As of now, I plan for it to be primarily a site for me to share audio and video outside the scope of Saints and Spinners. Yesterday, I recorded Lucia's teacher singing "I Go Outside With My Candle," and "Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer," and so that the parents of my daughter's classmates could learn the tunes in time for Martinmas, a
A few days ago, Lucia drew a picture of St. Zita, finder of lost keys, St. Anthony, finder of lost objects, and God:
Bede said, "I wonder how God feels about being smaller than Zita and Anthony."
I replied, "God likes to keep a low profile."
Bede sent me an interesting blog post from Making Light about St. Barbara, whose feast day was December 4. Teresa, the author of the blog, writes,
Friday, May 1, was sunny and warm. Sunday, May 3, was fairly pleasant as well. On Saturday, May 2, the day of May Faire and the May Pole dances, it rained for almost the entire day. It takes a lot to rain out a Waldorf school event, so everything went on as planned. We made garlands in the morning: Then, each grade did their May dances. Here is a video screen capture of Lucia dancing:I presented
A few weeks ago, Lucia wanted me to tell her a sad story. I spun out a story of a couple who wanted a child, couldn't have a child, and then had the spirit of the child who was supposed to be theirs appear before them in the woods as the couple was cooking over a camp-fire. The child said, "Oh, how I wish I could have been your child," and disappeared. I filled it out with a lot of "and they
My aunt sent me a video of a news segment that highlights my cousin, Dr. Monica Dweck, an opthalmologist who could work anywhere in the country but chooses to practice at Downstate Medical University in Brooklyn, New York, where she did her residency. Years ago, when Bede and I found out that our nine-month old daughter had a condition called Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV), and
Blog: Cana Rensberger
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, dorian cirrone
, joyce sweeney
, edward bloor
, sharon draper
, laurie halse anderson
, alex flinn
, joan bauer
, laurie friedman
, gaby triana
, Add a tag
Posted on 7/16/2007
Jump on over to whimsybooks to read her post. Come on. Everybody play!
I hand wrote thank you notes to Sharon Draper and Joan Bauer. As they are enormously successful, I don't expect they needed the boost, but they are two authors who hooked me on YA literature. There were others, and I may write more letters. I've already commented on Laurie Halse Andersons page about her incredible books, and how my students devour them. I may send a note to Joyce Sweeney, except I see her twice a year, and it's much more fun to praise her work in person. Same with Alex Flinn, Dorian Cirrone, Edward Bloor, Gaby Triana, and Laurie Friedman. Amazing Florida writers, all of them. I probably shouldn't have started listing names, because I'm sure I left someone off. I should go browse my bookshelf. Oh my gosh, I could go on and on. But I can't write them all thank you notes. See? That's why you have to play, too! We have to spread the joy! Have fun.