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I’m writing like crazy—everywhere but here. Not to mention spamming my Facebook friends with wedding photos today because Scott & I are celebrating our 19th anniversary.
He wrote a post about his proposal. Spoiler alert: I said yes.
Here’s my Mother’s Day present from Rilla: a quetzal, a spider monkey, and a kinkajou. (Tried to upload it here but WordPress is being persnickety.)
Happy mid-May already! Sheesh!
All right, now that the homeschooling-teens blog is up and running, Bonny Glen can get back into its groove. I’m in another minor reading slump—brought on not by lack of interesting choices (heavens no) but quite the opposite: my usual combination of option paralysis and a busy life.
What I’m reading right now, when I’m able to read:
Too Much Happiness, a collection of short stories by Alice Munro—a gift from one of my favorite people, who loves Munro’s work and was surprised I’d missed her along the way. I’ve been savoring the stories slowly these past many weeks, not wanting to get to the end—though I know there is much more Munro waiting for me when I do.
“When Dickens Met Dostoevsky”: I mentioned on Facebook that I’ve been chipping away at this long TLS article for two weeks, but don’t let my slow pace suggest the material is plodding. Quite the opposite: this is one of the most fascinating things I’ve read all year. It recounts the gradual untangling of a mystery surrounding a letter, quoted in several recent publications, purportedly written by Dostoevsky and describing in great detail a conversation he had with Dickens in 1862. The letter, it turns out, is a hoax. Who concocted it, and how it came to be accepted as authentic by respected scholars, is as gripping as any detective novel I’ve ever read.
If you missed my April bookletter, you can view it on the web here and subscribe to the May edition at this link.
In case you’ve missed the discussion in yesterday’s comments: I’m reviving my old learning-notes blog and taking it to invitation-only so we can chat about homeschooling/unschooling teens (among other topics) in a more private setting. If you’d like an invitation, drop me a line or leave your email addy in the comments.
I think I’ve sent invitations to all who’ve requested them. If you asked for one and didn’t get it, check your spam filter. Or drop me a note and I’ll try again.
Turns out there’s a reader-limit to invitation-only blogs at Blogger! We’ve reached the cap, so I’m looking at other options. I’ll find a way to include you all, so if you’ve requested an invitation and haven’t received one yet, stay tuned.
All righty, I’ve moved things over to a password-protected blog at Typepad to get around Blogger’s invited-reader limit. I’ve tried to sort through the previous comment threads and send login info to those of you who didn’t make it into Blogger, but if I’ve missed you, feel free to leave a comment on this post and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
(If you DID make it into the Blogger site, the new info is posted over there too.)
spotted on our morning walk
(which was very short, because neither of us can walk half a block without coughing)
So maybe this was the actual flu. Whatever it was, Scott and I are both still climbing slowly back to normal. Huck is right as rain already—much to his disappointment, since he loves the taste of Tylenol. “No more medicine?” he asked tearfully. Sorry, pal.
Jane’s up to her eyeballs (and mine) in scholarship applications. Rose made me some Redwall scones. Beanie embarked on a personal mission to study the history of Japan (beginning with poring over any relevant chapter she can find in the Genevieve Foster books, because they were readiest to hand…library trip to follow soon). Wonderboy is writing lots of letters. Rilla nearly always has a crayon in her hand.
Huck spends half his time as a…koalasheep, I think it is? And the other half jumping on things.
music has charms to sooth a savage koalasheep breast
I have completely dropped the ball with Winter Holiday! I should’ve just bought the audiobook when I first got sick. At this rate we’ll still be reading it in July.
• If you’re making fallacy-packed statements like “I can ask them to open their mouths, turn on their brains, and share their ideas with the rest of the class” and “A student who is unwilling to stand up for herself and tell me that she does not understand the difference between an adverb and a verb is also less likely to stand up for herself if she is being harassed or pressured in other areas of her life,” then no, I don’t care how many books you’ve read about introverts, you really don’t understand them AT ALL.
(Smart, thoughtful commentary on the frustrating Atlantic post here and here.)
• The Dragon Box app turns algebra into a seriously absorbing game! Big thanks to Karen Edmisten for calling it to my attention. Everyone from the 6-year-old to the 44-year-old here is hooked.
“Everywhere I turn these days the message is to be anything but ordinary. Be Epic! Be badass. Be daring and wild. If it isn’t hurting, you aren’t living. Platitudes and the anti-platitudes. Add a filter to make the picture hipper and cooler because the way it really is isn’t hip or cool enough. Make it larger than life and maybe then we can be friends. Go big or go home.
“In last night’s late hour, I felt the value of ordinary. I didn’t want my sister back so she could do amazing, inspiring things with her life. I didn’t want her back so I could join her on epic, wild adventures. I wanted her back so she could love me. So I could love her.”
• Adding to the TBR pile:
“Susan Hill, Howards End Is on the Landing (1/22) — Susan Hill may be a dark, cutting novelist, telling stories full of nasty doings and the horrors that mankind can get up to — I’ve never read her novels, so it may be so. But, on the basis of this book, I highly doubt it. Hill spent a year reading only books that she already had in her (apparently large and wonderful, thoroughly English country) home, and wrote this book about the experience. There’s quite a bit about the books she loves, about writers now forgotten, about the Great Books, about the joys of re-reading, and various other booky topics. There’s also a few bits of autobiography, mostly concerned with Hill’s very early days in the literary world — her first novel was published in the early ’60s, when she was a 19-year-old college student, and I’m afraid she does talk about how nice all of those older literary gentlemen were to poor young her without seeming to realize why they were so nice — but she does stick to her topic most of the time. And she’s entertaining about it, if quite English in an old-fashioned sense: country, Anglican, serious, pull-up-your-socks kind of English. This is exactly the kind of book you’d expect from a sixtyish British female novelist writing about the books she likes to read, and, as long as that’s something you’re likely to enjoy, Howards End Is on the Landing is delightful.”
More links that caught my attention here.
Tomorrow (Feb. 14), the winners of this year’s CYBIL Awards will be announced. I had a wonderful time serving on the Book Apps round 2 panel and am honored to have been a part of the selection process once again. If you haven’t checked out the Cybils shortlists from this year and years past, you’re missing out on some truly excellent booklists.
This afternoon, Huck and I were playing an alphabet game. What starts with P, what starts with F, etc.
Me; What starts with D?
I am also informed that he would like a puppy named Jellycar Jellycar Three.
So I was getting over the flu and then I got sick again, just a cold, I think? But wiping. Me. Out. Three weeks post-flu and I was still feeling draggy, and now I’m useless.
Or mostly useless. I just submitted my Downton recap (watched it earlier via DVD), which will go live at GeekMom tonight or tomorrow. I’d love it if you’d drop by tomorrow and join the conversation there. (Trying to keep Downton comments off this blog because Jane isn’t caught up yet.)
Yesterday, Rilla came to me (lolling in my bed, trying to read, mostly coughing) wanting to play a game. She had two small foam circles, each about the size of a silver dollar. It was a guessing game: what are they now? The child’s inventiveness was spectacular. She started me off easy: boy (one circle) with rainhat (the other circle folded into a tiny triangle). I mustered a ladybug. She countered with an eclipse. My efforts: a taco, some earrings. Child’s play compared to my six-year-old’s contributions.
Once, she rolled both circles into little tubes and held them side by side, bending them a bit with her fingers. I was stumped.
“They’re wavy smell lines!” she explained. “You know, like in comics? How they show you something’s giving off a smell?”
Safe to say I would not have guessed that, not it a million years.
At another point, she held both circles up to her face, pressing them haphazardly against her chin and a cheek.
We also spent a long time yesterday—Wonderboy, Rilla, and I—playing with Google Maps, visiting our favorite local park…Grandma’s house…the Eiffel Tower…Australia. The kids’ favorite part was “walking” up our street in street view, trying to figure out how long ago the Google car drove by. Daffodils in the neighbor’s yard and oranges on the tree across the street, which means it was about this time of year. Last year, because the new owner of the house over the way hadn’t taken down the little pomegranate tree yet. (Why’d she do it? We don’t know.) Sometime after Scott and I switched sides of the driveway, because the minivan’s on the right. There’s a smallish window of time there, and it’s a bit creepy to think of all this quiet surveillance. And yet fun to wonder what we were doing right then, just beyond the camera’s reach — reading a book? eating scones? messing around on Google Maps?
This reminded Scott of the day a few years back when he was on his way home from work and found himself driving behind the Google car for several blocks. We looked up the street, and sure enough, there he is—signing “I love you” to me.
Man, that guy knows how to play the long game.
* The year’s first poppy. Stunning as they are when fully open, this is how I love them best: just peeking out from under their green elf caps.
* Rilla’s first serious horse. She worked for ages, following the instructions in the Usborne Book of Drawing. What I love most here is seeing her several erased attempts to get the legs and tail just so.
* The tulips Krissy brought me back from Amsterdam, that time I couldn’t go. I adore tulips. Growing them this way, all mystery, three mute brown bulbs with no hint of the vivid hues encoded in their DNA, is the best possible fun. Now I want to grow mystery tulips always.
A doozy! You guys! The Betsy-Tacy Treasury (that’s the first four books in the series) is $2.99 on Kindle right now!
Here’s an older post of mine about the books.
Sorry so brief today. Busy busy day! We took the kids to the mountains to see snow. Was Huck and Rilla’s first encounter with it. Oh my little Southern California children.
But I finished re-reading Ballet Shoes for the Streatfeild read-along and I should be able to get a post up about it tomorrow afternoon. Are you reading? Are you ready?
I’m all Hooray, my blog is visible again I can write stuff yippeeeee! And then crickets. That kind of week. In a good way, I mean. I mowed the lawn the other day and it mousecookied into a massive backyard/frontyard/sideyard cleanup, and now I’m itching to overhaul the indoors. But! I’ll be posting the Ballet Shoes post this afternoon.
And for now, here’s this week’s Thicklebit—I’ll save you the clickthrough. (But if you’re new to Thicklebit, do click through and enjoy the other strips. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Chris Gugliotti is an artistic genius.)
This morning we’re all in stitches over this post at Flavorwire: 20 Embarrassingly Bad Book Covers for Classic Novels. The horrific Anne of Green Gables is there, along with some genuine howlers. Did you know there were fighter jets in Oz? The Huck Finn is priceless, and that Cranford cover! I’m crying laughing.
By: Melissa Wiley
Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen
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Assorted and Sundry
, Fun Learning Stuff
, Beverly Cleary
, Delphine Perret
, Mystery Math Town
, Ramona the Pest
, The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation
, Add a tag
I’m reviewing some new apps for GeekMom, including one I think is going to be quite popular: Mystery Math Town from Artgig. You may recall that I gave high marks to Artgig’s Marble Math & Marble Math Jr. over at Wired a while back. I’ll link to my Mystery Math Town review when it goes live, but I thought I’d give you a heads-up. Fun, absorbing, and is proving an engaging way to slip in some math-fact practice for my Beanie-and-under crew. Including Huck. You can customize for addition, subtraction, multiplication, single digits, double digits, etc.
Yesterday Rilla and I needed to choose our next read-aloud. We decided to spread all the contenders out on my bed. Turned out there were a lot of contenders. I see a couple of repeat-requests snuck in there. (Odd Duck, for example—a graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci, art by Sara Varon. Rilla adores it.)
(I rotated the photo so the titles would be easy to read, and Facebook friends thought I was displaying a giant wall display. I wish!)
After much deliberation, Rilla chose a new arrival, The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation (which I’ve now read aloud three times in two days—once each to the 9yo, 6yo, and 4yo), and then settled in for Ramona the Pest. Her first acquaintance with Ramona. That perfect first sentence—”‘I am not a pest,’ Ramona Quimby told her big sister Beezus.”—had her at hello.
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.
Books we read today:
The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola
Freight Train by Donald Crews
The dearest sight today was Rilla leading Huck to her room, each carrying a book (Huck balancing his on his head), for her to read to him. From the next room, I could hear her high, piping voice going up and down, just the melody of it, not the words. They were my books, which makes it extra dear, but it would have been a sweet sight no matter what the books. Huck is not of an age to sit still for much of anything, but he lay there beside Rilla on her little low bed, listening intently.
Read this on Writer’s Almanac this evening:
Rilke wrote: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue [...] Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”
It reminds me of something my friend Sarah might say.
An app to share:
Marble Math Multiplication—the lite version is free. I wrote about the other Marble Math apps a while back; all are quite good.
We forgot to read a book today! Rilla was busy drawing all through the early part of the morning, and then we worked in the garage for a while, digging out the Christmas things and filling some boxes for a garage sale our circle of friends is having this weekend—a fundraiser for a family who is adopting the dearest little newborn girl.
The big laugh of the morning came when we found, shoved behind other boxes, an unopened box from our move here six years ago—all taped up, marked in my friend Lisa’s handwriting “Ugly Bat Thing.” A skeletal metal bat someone gave Scott as a gift to celebrate his days editing, and then writing, Batman comics. Then proceeded a spirited debate over whether it is, in fact, ugly. (The six-year-old votes no, emphatically.)
Earlier, and I shared this on Facebook at the time but I have to archive the moment here, I was sitting in my rocking chair when Rilla came sprinting into the room to ask what color hair I would like if I didn’t have brown. Easy one: red. She darted away. Back again a moment later with this question: “If you were a mermaid, would you want to wear a shirt? Or be like a real mermaid. You know, bare.”
I asked if a seashell bikini were an option, but nope. Six-year-olds can be very strict. You want to be a real mermaid, you gotta go for broke. I, however, made the mom choice and requested a t-shirt.
She roadrunnered away. Back again a bit later: “What’s your favorite underwater animal?” Easy one. I didn’t read Ring of Endless Light eighteen times for nothing.
Off again, zip-tang. A little later, I got to see (at last) what she was up to.
This portrait, I learned, was part of a set: here are the four girls. Rose hates swimming, so Rilla made her an elf.
The jellyfish kill me.
I’m hoping tomorrow brings a set of mermen portraits to complete the family collection.
Rose caught this rather wonderful shot yesterday, just down the street from our house. I missed it—I’d been out there gawping at the hawk (ID, anyone? its coloring is throwing me off—could it possibly be a white-tailed kite?)* and had snapped a few wobbly pix, using Beanie’s head as a tripod, but then I ran back to the house to take over stirring the marshmallows Jane was melting for Rice Krispie treats, so she could have a turn. The mobbing crow came along just after I left. Well done, Rose.
*UPDATE: yes, we think so!
The marshmallow treats were this year’s double-birthday feast, in lieu of a cake. My guys had a great day. At Scott’s request, we had a family reading of The Tempest (Act 1; we’ll continue on future Sundays). Rilla did us proud; she gave a splendid cold reading of the role of Ariel (with some vocab coaching from Rose, who prefers to stage manage). Scott was Prospero, Beanie read Miranda, and Jane and I split the other parts between us. I got to ham it up as the old boatswain, so I was happy.
Books read over the weekend:
Tippy-Tippy-Tippy Hide by Candace Ransom, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Mr Pusskins: A Love Story by Sam Lloyd
Hist Whist by ee cummings (a Halloween book, yes, but a year-round Rilla favorite)
Cranford (happy sigh)
In the garden:
Roses in bloom, cosmos & poppy seedlings thriving, cape honeysuckle glorious, freesia and daffodil bulbs coming up. And the rain lilies, too, I think.
This baby turned four yesterday. How’s that for a shocker?
Our celebration included a trip to the farmer’s market, where we bought local honey, fiendishly hot salsa, and a gorgeous loaf of cinnamon-apple-walnut bread.
Rilla’s favorite sight: the sea urchins at the fishmonger’s booth.
My favorite sight: this guy’s suitcase drum.
For dinner (stop the presses) I actually cooked! As in, really really cooked, with chopping and browning and basting and everything. Came out yummy, too: Chicken in Prune Butter Sauce.
I have lots to say about things I’m reading, but for now it’s full steam ahead on my Downton Abbey recap, which will go up at GeekMom later this morning. (Here’s last week’s.) Join us for the open thread if you like!
My Christmas cactus is just about ready to bloom—yes, in January—timing its display to coincide with the violets. In another two or three days we’ll have quite a show. Lettuce in the garden, daffodils in the flowerbeds, freesia about to bud. At least, that’s what was happening out back a week ago. I feel a bit detached, this week, from the world outside; it’s been downright frigid here in San Diego, and I find I’ve lost the knack of handling weather. No insulation in these little houses. Brr.
Maybe that’s why we picked Winter Holiday for the new lunchtime read-aloud. We so seldom have a winter that feels remotely wintry. It had just the right flavor for today, but it’s quite a long book and I’m wondering how all that tramping about in the snow is going to read when we’re back to our 7o-degree sunshiny days, say around Friday.
I just wrote a long rambly dissertation on linksharing across various platforms, the pros and cons thereof, and then I decided it was too rambly even for me. So here’s a pretty picture instead. These gorgeous blooms dazzled us at the outdoor mall today, where I took Huck and Rilla to get new shoes. We stopped for a bun at Panera and it’s possibly the first time I’ve ever been in a cafe with just those two; it was delightful, all chatter and energy, Rilla proudly cutting the bun in half and then carving her half into tiny bites, a frown of concentration, a very straight back. Toward the end an older couple got up from the next table and stopped to speak to us. “I’m usually quick to complain,” said the woman, rather ominously, “but—” and then lots of nice things about my children. Whew. The man was her “baby brother,” she told us, and it seems they quite enjoyed seeing miniature versions of themselves sharing a treat together.
Then we went to the shoe store, and Rilla hit her head on a shelf and the whole outing ended in tears. Which is pretty much how these things go. (She’s fine.)
Before the fall
The older girls got a book of Zelda sheet music for Christmas and have been learning the songs from their favorite Zelda iteration, Twilight Princess. I gave them the Lord of the Rings score as well because I want to hear those songs resounding through the house. This strategy is paying off quite nicely.
Reading notes: I finished Girls of Slender Means and have moved on to A Far Cry from Kensington, and the thing about Muriel Spark is that now that I’ve read her, she’s in my thoughts so constantly (this is the case ever since Memento Mori a couple of years ago) that I can hardly remember not having her voice among the influencers in my head. How did I, a reader, a book junkie, a student of literature, make it this long without Spark? How did I know how to look at streets and sentences without her? This is how she makes me feel. Her sentences are like the blades of ice skates, sharp, swift, carrying you along at some risk to your personal comfort. Sometimes Jane and I say to each other, can you imagine life without knowing Monty Python? Can you imagine living in the world without Holy Grail in the back of your mind? That’s how I feel about Muriel Spark. And I felt the same way last year after reading Elizabeth Goudge’s The Scent of Water. And before that, A. S. Byatt’s unbelievably rich (and dark) The Children’s Book, which I’ve read three times in as many years. Which realization sends a thrill up my spine: who else is out there waiting for me, waiting to change my world? Oh, writers of books, I adore you.
Some tempting new review copies arrived: The Water Castle, a middle-grade by Megan Frazer Blakemore, and Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle—gorgeous art on that one, reminiscent of the German illustrator Nicholas Heidelbach, whose name I was recently wracking my brain to recall.
Simple Pictures Are Best (illustrated by Tomie de Paola) is a book I remember giggling over with my little sisters long ago. Now I get to hear my kids giggle over it. And The Little House remains at the tippy-top of Huck’s best-loved books list.
This time last year I was heading into a garden-lit binge: that wonderful collection of letters between Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence, which led to more books (rereads and first-time reads) by each. This year, oh joy! Netgalley delivered to my Kindle a new collection of Eudora Welty’s gardening letters, Tell About Night Flowers, forthcoming from University of Mississippi Press. This is the sort of thing that makes me giddy. This publisher is also responsible for the fascinating (so far; I’m not finished) book Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature. I have many treasured books written and/or illustrated by these two, and until this book I had no idea they were a couple. I love literary couples.
Rose likes baking. I like cookies. We’re a good match.What are you reading right now?
By: Melissa Wiley
Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen
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Assorted and Sundry
, Fun Learning Stuff
, Grimms Tales
, Journey North Mystery Class
, Lucy Crane
, Walter Crane
, Add a tag
With Beanie: did our first week’s charting for Journey North. Mystery City #1 has very nearly the same latitude as ours, judging from its photoperiod, and Bean entertained me with a list of the countries around the globe at roughly our parallel. You see why I love this project so?
(FWIW, here’s how I described it to my local homeschooling list this morning, wanting to make it clear you don’t have to be some organizational goddess to pull this thing off: “If Mystery Class sounds daunting to you, let me just add that I forgot all about it until this morning and am sitting here in my pajamas, coughing my lungs out, hair not yet brushed, huddled on the couch calculating photoperiods with [Beanie]. A few simple math problems—she’s doing most of the work. [Huck] is climbing on the back of the couch. Scott’s got Elvis playing. I’m checking Facebook while [Bean] does the next calculation. In case you were picturing some super-organized activity requiring a ton of preparation and concentration—this isn’t that!)
With Jane and Rose: watched the first video lecture (very short) for a Coursera class we discovered yesterday, and which Jane has signed up for: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. (I loved the reading list. Some great stuff there, and a number of things I’d been meaning to read with the girls this year anyhow.)
The first text is the Lucy Crane translation of Grimms’ Tales, available for free download at Project Gutenberg. The instructor (Professor Eric Rabkin of the University of Michigan) mentioned the intriguing fact that the illustrations (beautiful, just my cup of tea, see below) in this edition are by Crane’s husband, Walter Crane, who wrote about book (explained Dr. Rabkin) about the role of illustration in books. Which! Got! Me! Very! Excited! And when you put ‘Walter Crane’ into Google it autosuggests ‘Walter Crane arts and crafts movement’ Which! More! Excited! Still! My cup of tea? More like my bathtub of tea, my swimming-pool of tea. And now (having spent a bit of happy, albeit sniffly, time on teh Wikipedia and other avenues) I have added Yet More Things to Read to my impossible list.
You see what I mean?
So we zapped the Lucy Crane text to the Kindle, and I read the first story aloud to Rilla—”The Rabbit’s Bride,” which I didn’t remember at all, though I thought I’d read Grimm backwards and forwards, including some of it in German. (Digression: true story: my friend Caryn and I got banned from the high-school library for a full semester in tenth grade due to uncontrollable outbursts of giggling over an assignment for our German class. Look, you spring the original version of Rapunzel on a couple of unsuspecting sophomore girls and what do you expect? Suddenly she had twins! Zwillinge! So that’s how the witch knew she was entertaining a visitor!)
(Thing is, I fervently believed I loved that library more than anybody in the whole school. Me. Banned from a library. I couldn’t believe it. My intemperate book-hoarding habits probably spring from this brief and interminable period of deprivation.)
Anyhow, “The Rabbit’s Bride.” I did not see that ending coming. Nor the middle, for that matter.
At Huck’s naptime there was cuddling (cautious, on his part: “I don’t want to get sick, Mommy”) (sigh) and at his request, another round of the much-loved Open This Little Book, which gem I’ll be reviewing for GeekMom one of these days. (Talk about illustrations to swoon for. Delicious.)
Then lots of Japan Life with Rilla and Beanie—a game we like to play, which involves massive amounts of casual math and spatial reasoning, but of course they aren’t seeing it that way, it’s just fun.
I missed out on some of my favorite parts of the day—walking Wonderboy to school and back; my long morning ramble with Scott—but by mid-afternoon I was feeling better than I have all week, and I got outside to water my neglected garden. Was relieved to see my young lettuces are looking spruce. So are hordes of weeds.
A hummingbird, a funny solar-powered grasshopper, a cup of mint tea with honey. “I can’t believe how much I’m not sick of you,” says the mug, a gift from Scott.
Two very dirty children scrubbed clean after concocting Mud Soup or some such delicacy in the backyard.
Tonight I’m missing the much-anticipated reception for the San Diego Local Authors Exhibit at the downtown library, very sad not to be there but it wouldn’t be nice to carry this cough out in public. But I’m sure there will be something nice on TV with Scott later (he DVRs the best things) and I have two compelling books in progress on my Kindle at the moment: a gorgeous collection of Alice Munro stories given to me by one of my favorite people in the world, and a review copy of a book called Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America’s Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever—how’s that for a title that grabs you and won’t let go? So far, so gripping. The levee just broke in Dayton, Ohio. Entire houses are floating away with people on the rooves. (Roofs? What are we saying these days?) I’m chewing my nails off.
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Much better today, but still dragging. And the next domino to topple turned out to be Huck.
Still, it was a good day, dominated by much laughter over this Grimm collection we’re reading en masse for Jane’s Coursera class. I mean, “The Death of the Hen,” do you know that one? I know Grimm is grim, but this beats all. All the rest of the day, the girls were walking around going, “And so they were all dead together”—that’s the happy ending, you guys.
Other bits and pieces:
Read more of Hawthorne’s Wonder Book with Rilla, the Perseus story continued, and then coaxed her through a narration. No matter how unschoolish my tendencies, I am always and forever a believer in good old Charlotte Mason-style narration for building really quite remarkable powers of attention and memory. Rilla’s at the bouncy, fidgety, doubtful-of-her-narrative-abilities six-year-old stage, which—now that I know what I’m doing—is quite a fun place to be. She surprises herself, and then beams.
Beanie did a lot of German (I slacked on that today myself, but I’ve been driving pretty hard with it the past few weeks and am thrilled to be able to read, at long last, a little book I picked up ages and ages ago—found it in some German bookshop in Manhattan, I think—called Kleiner Pelz. Anyone heard of it? The author is Irina Korschunow. Quite sweet so far.
I read Ame Dyckman’s Boy + Bot to Huck; he’s gotten almost every one of us to read it to him so far, a tremendous hit this one, and rightly so. Delightful. But then we’re huge fans of Dan Yaccarino’s art around here. Here’s the book trailer if you want a peek.
We listened to more Wind in the Willows while Rilla drew pictures and Huck snoozed…I dozed off myself somewhere in there. Later, walking to pick Wonderboy up from school, I taught Rilla the first two stanzas of “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and there is nothing quite like the sight of a small girl skipping up a hill, hair swinging, reciting “And this was odd, because it was the middle—of—the—night!”
Jane wrote an essay for her class, Rose read all morning, Huck perked up a little, and Scott concocted a bacon-potato soup for dinner. A much happier ending than that which befell the poor hen.
“The Death of the Hen,”
from Lucy Crane’s Household Stories from the Collection of the Brothers Grimm,
illustrated by Walter Crane