Saturday, October 23, 2010
We have spent five glorious months together, exploring and traveling the Europe and Holy Land of 1867. We had the most wonderful time! Twain had me laughing out loud quite frequently. I sure am going to miss his humor.
I have just finished reading THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, apparently his first book, whereby he shares the stories of a "pleasure excursion " he took on the ship, The Quaker City. He is hilarious and sometimes mildly offensive, though he always wins you back. And I do not mean mildly offensive in the modern way....but in a way that says things you know people think, but really shouldn't say. :)
Here is an example:
"It was breezy and pleasant, but the sea was still very rough. One could not promenade without risking his neck; at one moment the bowsprit was taking a deadly aim at the sun in midheaven, and at the next it was trying to harpoon a shark in the bottom of the ocean. What a weird sensation it is to feel the stem of a ship sinking swiftly from under you and see the bow climbing high away among the clouds! One's safest course that day was to clasp a railing and hang on; walking was too precarious a pastime.
By some happy fortune I was not seasick. --That was a thing to be proud of. I had not always escaped before. If there is one thing in the world that will make a man peculiarly and insufferably self-conceited, it is to have his stomach behave itself, the first day it sea, when nearly all his comrades are seasick. Soon a venerable fossil, shawled to the chin and bandaged like a mummy, appeared at the door of the after deck-house, and the next lurch of the ship shot him into my arms. I said:
"Good-morning, Sir. It is a fine day."
He put his hand on his stomach and said, "Oh, my!" and then staggered away and fell over the coop of a skylight.
Presently another old gentleman was projected from the same door with great violence. I said:
"Calm yourself, Sir--There is no hurry. It is a fine day, Sir."
He, also, put his hand on his stomach and said "Oh, my!" and reeled away.
In a little while another veteran was discharged abruptly from the same door, clawing at the air for a saving support. I said:
"Good morning, Sir. It is a fine day for pleasuring. You were about to say--"
I thought so. I anticipated him, anyhow. I stayed there and was bombarded with old gentlemen for an hour, perhaps; and all I got out of any of them was "Oh, my!"
I went away then in a thoughtful mood. I said, this is a good pleasure excursion. I like it. The passengers are not garrulous, but still they are sociable. I like those old people, but somehow they all seem to have the "Oh, my" rather bad.
I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves. Playing whist by the cabin lamps when it is storming outside is pleasant; walking the quarterdeck in the moonlight is pleasant; smoking in the breezy foretop is pleasant when one is not afraid to go up there; but these are all feeble and commonplace compared with the joy of seeing people suffering the miseries of seasickness."
I got to thinking about this book because my son Matthew was in Switzerland for a year.....and one day while we chatted on Skype.......he had me surfing websites to see the "big church" in Milan...and I found a quote from Mark Twain on the webpage.....and Matthew says:
"That Mark Twain has been following me all over Europe......wherever I go....I find he is there, too."
So, I immediately order the volume from my library, the library we were still praying would not close. I was not sorry. In fact, the time I spent with Twain on this journey will be counted among some of the happiest memories of my life.
I had SO MANY quotes to share from our trip........but before I can remember one.....another comes and takes its place!
Here is an excerpt I shared with my ballroom-dance-loving kids:
"On several starlight nights we danced on the upper deck, under the awnings, and made something of a ball-room display of brilliancy by hanging a number of ship's lanterns to the stanchions. Our music consisted of the well-mixed strains of a melodeon which was a little asthmatic and apt to catch its breath where it ought to come out strong, a clarinet which was a little unreliable on the high keys and rather melancholy on the low ones, and a disreputable accordion that had a leak somewhere and breathed louder than it squawked--a more elegant term does not occur to me just now. However, the dancing was infinitely worse than the music. When the ship rolled to starboard the whole platoon of dancers came charging down to starboard with it, and brought up in mass at the rail; and when it rolled to port they went floundering down to port with the same unanimity of sentiment. Waltzers spun around precariously for a matter of fifteen seconds and then went scurrying down to the rail as if they meant to go overboard. The Virginia reel, as performed on board the Quaker City, had more genuine reel about it than any reel I ever saw before, and was as full of interest to the spectator as it was full of desperate chances and hairbreadth escapes to the participant. We gave up dancing, finally."
My kids began to roll their eyes every time I called all of them into a room and they spotted the big blue book in my hands. I think it made them a bit crazy......but I am pretty sure they loved the slices of humor I shared with them. At least I will keep telling myself that.
Near the end of our travels, he shared a story about some time that he spent in the "worst" hotel in America.......comparing it to the worst hotel he stayed in on his European travels (that one was in Egypt). I read this aloud to my hotel manager husband and he was quite amused. So were my literature-loving girls.
"Alexandria was too much like a European city to be novel, and we soon tired of it. We took the cars and came up here to ancient Cairo, which is an Oriental city and of the completest pattern. There is little about it to disabuse one's mind of the error if he should take it into his head that he was in the heart of Arabia. Stately camels and dromedaries, swarthy Egyptians, and likewise Turks and black Ethiopians, turbaned, sashed, and blazing in a rich variety of Oriental costumes of all shades of flashy colors, are what one sees on every hand crowding the narrow streets and the honeycombed bazaars. We are stopping at Shepherd's Hotel, which is the worst on earth except the one I stopped at once in a small town in the United States. It is pleasant to read this sketch in my note-book, now, and know that I can stand Shepherd's Hotel, sure, because I have been in one just like it in America and survived:
I stopped at the Benton House. It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing--I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of us have lost character of late years. The Benton is not a good hotel. The Benton lacks a very great deal of being a good hotel. Perdition is full of better hotels than the Benton.
It was late at night when I got there, and I told the clerk I would like plenty of lights, because I wanted to read an hour or two. When I reached No. 15 with the porter (we came along a dim hall that was clad in ancient carpeting, faded, worn out in many places, and patched with old scraps of oil cloth--a hall that sank under one's feet, and creaked dismally to every footstep,) he struck a light-- two inches of sallow, sorrowful, consumptive tallow candle, that burned blue, and sputtered, and got discouraged and went out. The porter lit it again, and I asked if that was all the light the clerk sent. He said, "Oh no, I've got another one here," and he produced another couple of inches of tallow candle. I said, "Light them both --I'll have to have one to see the other by." He did it, but the result was drearier than darkness itself. He was a cheery, accommodating rascal. He said he would go "somewheres" and steal a lamp. I abetted and encouraged him in his criminal design. I heard the landlord get after him in the hall ten minutes afterward.
"Where are you going with that lamp?"
"Fifteen wants it, sir."
"Fifteen! why he's got a double lot of candles--does the man want to illuminate the house?--does he want to get up a torch-light procession?--what is he up to, any how?"
"He don't like them candles--says he wants a lamp."
"Why what in the nation does----why I never heard of such a thing? What on earth can he want with that lamp?"
"Well, he only wants to read--that's what he says."
"Wants to read, does he?--ain't satisfied with a thousand candles, but has to have a lamp!--I do wonder what the devil that fellow wants that lamp for? Take him another candle, and then if----"
"But he wants the lamp--says he'll burn the d--d old house down if he don't get a lamp!" (a remark which I never made.)
"I'd like to see him at it once. Well, you take it along--but I swear it beats my time, though--and see if you can't find out what in the very nation he wants with that lamp."
And he went off growling to himself and still wondering and wondering over the unaccountable conduct of No. 15. The lamp was a good one, but it revealed some disagreeable things--a bed in the suburbs of a desert of room--a bed that had hills and valleys in it, and you'd have to accommodate your body to the impression left in it by the man that slept there last, before you could lie comfortably; a carpet that had seen better days; a melancholy washstand in a remote corner, and a dejected pitcher on it sorrowing over a broken nose; a looking-glass split across the centre, which chopped your head off at the chin and made you look like some dreadful unfinished monster or other; the paper peeling in shreds from the walls.
I sighed and said: "This is charming; and now don't you think you could get me something to read?"
The porter said, "Oh, certainly; the old man's got dead loads of books;" and he was gone before I could tell him what sort of literature I would rather have. And yet his countenance expressed the utmost confidence in his ability to execute the commission with credit to himself. The old man made a descent on him.
"What are you going to do with that pile of books?"
"Fifteen wants 'em, sir."
"Fifteen, is it? He'll want a warming-pan, next--he'll want a nurse! Take him every thing there is in the house--take him the bar-keeper--take him the baggage-wagon--take him a chamber-maid! Confound me, I never saw any thing like it. What did he say he wants with those books?"
"Wants to read 'em, like enough; it ain't likely he wants to eat 'em, I don't reckon."
"Wants to read 'em--wants to read 'em this time of night, the infernal lunatic! Well, he can't have them."
"But he says he's mor'ly bound to have 'em; he says he'll just go a-rairin' and a-chargin' through this house and raise more--well, there's no tellin' what he won't do if he don't get 'em; because he's drunk and crazy and desperate, and nothing'll soothe him down but them cussed books." [I had not made any threats, and was not in the condition ascribed to me by the porter.]
"Well, go on; but I will be around when he goes to rairing and charging, and the first rair he makes I'll make him rair out of the window." And then the old gentleman went off, growling as before.
The genius of that porter was something wonderful. He put an armful of books on the bed and said "Good night" as confidently as if he knew perfectly well that those books were exactly my style of reading matter. And well he might. His selection covered the whole range of legitimate literature. It comprised "The Great Consummation," by Rev. Dr. Cummings--theology; "Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri"--law; "The Complete Horse-Doctor"--medicine; "The Toilers of the Sea," by Victor Hugo--romance; "The works of William Shakspeare"--poetry. I shall never cease to admire the tact and the intelligence of that gifted porter."
One of the things that amused me the most was when Twain, while on a trip out of the good ol' US of A, would go offf on tangets about how wonderful and amazing Lake Tahoe was in his opinion.
This happened at least three times and once went on for three pages!
Well, at least we definitely have a love of Lake Tahoe in common. He spent much time there, as did I, as a resident there during my last two years of high school.
He felt some strong pull to compare every lake he saw with Tahoe. And, the other lake always lost out in the comparison. Even the Sea of Galilee was not left untouched!
"The celebrated Sea of Galilee is not so large a sea as Lake Tahoe --[I measure all lakes by Tahoe, partly because I am far more familiar with it than with any other, and partly because I have such a high admiration for it and such a world of pleasant recollections of it, that it is very nearly impossible for me to speak of lakes and not mention it.]--by a good deal--it is just about two-thirds as large. And when we come to speak of beauty, this sea is no more to be compared to Tahoe than a meridian of longitude is to a rainbow. The dim waters of this pool can not suggest the limpid brilliancy of Tahoe; these low, shaven, yellow hillocks of rocks and sand, so devoid of perspective, can not suggest the grand peaks that compass Tahoe like a wall, and whose ribbed and chasmed fronts are clad with stately pines that seem to grow small and smaller as they climb, till one might fancy them reduced to weeds and shrubs far upward, where they join the everlasting snows. Silence and solitude brood over Tahoe; and silence and solitude brood also over this lake of Genessaret. But the solitude of the one is as cheerful and fascinating as the solitude of the other is dismal and repellant.
In the early morning one watches the silent battle of dawn and darkness upon the waters of Tahoe with a placid interest; but when the shadows sulk away and one by one the hidden beauties of the shore unfold themselves in the full splendor of noon; when the still surface is belted like a rainbow with broad bars of blue and green and white, half the distance from circumference to centre; when, in the lazy summer afternoon, he lies in a boat, far out to where the dead blue of the deep water begins, and smokes the pipe of peace and idly winks at the distant crags and patches of snow from under his cap-brim; when the boat drifts shoreward to the white water, and he lolls over the gunwale and gazes by the hour down through the crystal depths and notes the colors of the pebbles and reviews the finny armies gliding in procession a hundred feet below; when at night he sees moon and stars, mountain ridges feathered with pines, jutting white capes, bold promontories, grand sweeps of rugged scenery topped with bald, glimmering peaks, all magnificently pictured in the polished mirror of the lake, in richest, softest detail, the tranquil interest that was born with the morning deepens and deepens, by sure degrees, till it culminates at last in resistless fascination!
It is solitude, for birds and squirrels on the shore and fishes in the water are all the creatures that are near to make it otherwise, but it is not the sort of solitude to make one dreary. Come to Galilee for that. If these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum; this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal plumes of palms; yonder desolate declivity where the swine of the miracle ran down into the sea, and doubtless thought it was better to swallow a devil or two and get drowned into the bargain than have to live longer in such a place; this cloudless, blistering sky; this solemn, sailless, tintless lake, reposing within its rim of yellow hills and low, steep banks, and looking just as expressionless and unpoetical (when we leave its sublime history out of the question,) as any metropolitan reservoir in Christendom--if these things are not food for rock me to sleep, mother, none exist, I think."
I have not read anything else, really since I started this tome. Life has just been so busy, and while I LOVED reading this book, it was not exactly gripping material.....so, I just plugged away till I got to the end. A most worthwhile task on my part, and one that I am sure will be entertaining me long after the exact words have faded.
Blessings to all.
With love and prayers,
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I just finished reading Mr. Brian Kelly's remarks to the graduates at the President's dinner. It is worth a read, if just to see what it is TAC is doing and what good it will do the students and the world at large.
Also, it is worth a read if you want to know what Matthew will be up to for the next four years, God willing.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Sometimes that need to write is just so overwhelming, you might as well just write a blog post.
Like I even have time for this......but, maybe it will clear my mind and I can get back to quieter thinking.....
RANDOM THOUGHTS AHEAD:
I love watching my older kids look at their struggles...and then turn to God for help.....with prayers, novenas, lighting candles after mass.......even a novena of Masses......all on their own initiative. I beg God to help them to keep their prayer life always active.....and to help them to be a light to others.
We have a somewhat busy day today:
There are three things that need ot be accomplished outside of our home and they are in blocks of time.
First, the girls need to get to Patty's for their math tutoring. Patty is finally finished with all of her cancer treaments....with the exception of a few follow-up appointments. Now, she can focus on the complete recovery and see what it feels like to have an empty nest, having just just sent her youngest off to college. How did that happen??!!
Second, our sweet friend Louise is sponsoring a birthday party for Sheila's latest foreign exchange student. The kids met the girl on monday and say she is quite sweet. Her American name is Sara and she hails from Germany. She will only be here through December. We love to include Sheila's students in our doings......so we have plans for ballroom dancing and hiking. But first, there must be this tea party for her birthday! Louise found out on Monday that Sara's birthday had passed in the last week and she did not have a party.........of course, Miss Gifts-for-a-love-language (Louise) must make sure everyone gets their party. :)
The girls have picked out a gorgeous skirt for Sara's gift.......one that matches theirs and a few of their friends. Malachy is busy painting a paint-by-number wolf for a gift. I may see if I can find a sweet souvenir of our town.
And, thirdly, Garrett plays in his first soccer game of the season. He was blessed to get his "first" favorite coach. Alex was the best coach we had ever had for one of our kids....and we are so excited to be back with him. Since then, the two younger boys have had some great coaches. But, this coach started it all. Unfortunately, he cannot be here today. He has been called away on a fire. And, his assistant is also unavailable...so, he called Marty. Today, Marty will coach Garrett's team. Should be fun.....Marty knows most sports well...but soccer is more on the surface. I know he will do fine. I better go charge up the camera batteries. ;)
I also need to get to the charter school today to make a bunch of copies so the girls can get started on some of their school work.
Speaking of school.........I never had time to plan in June with all of that painting and decluttering........and then Matthew arrived home from Switzerland.....and he kept us pretty busy till we took him off to TAC and then we traveled another week.......so, I am desperately trying to get it all put together. I have Maddelyn's and Sarah's all planned out........I just need to make a couple of more syllabi for things to work better and to make their check-off lists. Then there are the boys.......I have a rough idea of what they are doing........I got Malachy started on his math.......and I will get Garrett started today. I decided to just assume school for us would officially start with the second learning period on September 20th. We will just limp by till that day.
Aha.......I will go put on a book-on-tape to get them started for the year: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is up on queue! That's school and not very mom-intensive! ;)
Our Mondays will be crazy, as usual...in fact, maybe more so!
-the girls clean for two hours at Shawna's house
-all four of the kids have piano lessons
-I will lead a Junior IEW Writing Workshop
-and then I will lead a Senior Writing Workshop
-Malachy has a soccer game for the next two months
-eventually Garrett will have basketball practice
-and of course, we may also have Shakespeare Club....though we may move that to Wednesdays
No wonder I always answer no when they ask me to work on a Monday!
I am SOOOO grateful to be abusing Anne till she starts school! She has been doing a lot of my driving for me so I can keep planning school. It is such a relief to get to stay home. Thanks, my dear!
The cooking going on at Hearts' Haven is Mmmmmmmm!!!
We have a had few new Italian dishes.......the girls made three cheese sauce & mushrooms with tortellinis and I made Asparagus & Lemon Risotto....both served with salads......delish!
Tonight, we are having a petite Lebanese feast........the girls have already made the tabouli, humus and cucumbers with laban. We have pulled the perviously-made grape leaf rolls and kibbee from the freezer so we are good to go! Oh, and we must throw in a little bit of khubs!...Olives......wonder if we have olives somewhere? We must, with all of this Middle-Eastern blood around here!
Tomorrow night, the girls are cooking Indian food. Looking forward to the new dishes!
For the tea party, Anne made some tea cookies.....all I know is they have fresh rosemary and pinenuts; they smell and look good! They also made a special chicken salad for sandwiches.
Special prayer requests on our mind:
My friend Lucia's sister Angela has had a relapse of cancer & the news is grim. We are all praying through the intercession of Sister Lucia of Fatima for a miracle. One more miracle is needed for canonization.
Marc Berquist, one of the founder sof TAC and one of the tutors, has been diagnosed with lymphoma. the kids and I are asking Giancarlo Rastelli for his intercession....for a miracle cure...and then it can out Rastelli closer to canonization.
We are also begging Rastelli for a cure for Baby Tristen, who was born with a serious heart defect. Since he was a pediatric heart doctor, it seems most befitting. Babies with congenital heart defects are always close to our hearts. Oh, and let's not forget St. John of God, the patron of heart patients!
We do not know any of these people personally.....but we know they covet prayers on their behalf.
Lastly, could you please pray for my mom? She has some serious health problems right now....and a happy resolution would be appreciated!
Anne noted on Facebook that there was an "exquisite dusting of snow" on the mountain. I had to read FB to find that out.......I headed outside, and there it was, with the first snow of the season. And, today is a definite reminder that November is coming. Ah, well....I saw some 78*s in the forcast for next week....so we still have some time, yet!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Below, you will find the definitions that I have found regarding World Lit......and then countries listed with some of the famous literature from that country.
I am looking for help in several ways:
Could you please tell me if they should NOT read any of these books, for whatever reason, for their age?
Could you please tell me what books I am missing?
Could you please help me fill in the missing countries?
You will find ancient literature missing because we cover it when we study ancient history.
Thanks so much! And then, with your help, this will be sitting here waiting for anyone else who needs it. :)
Definition of WORLD LITERATURE: Literature originally written in a language other than English or a book written in English about another culture outside of America or Britain.
While it would be generally assumed that America and Britain were part of the world, per se, there are already courses specifically geared to cover American and British literature.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Father and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness D ‘Orczy
The Song of Roland by ?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Paternak
Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
Night by Elie Weisel
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
BRITIAN & IRELAND
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Black Arrow Robert Louis Stevenson
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Tolkien
The Fairie Queen by Spenser
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(These are added because they have not read these British Literature choices yet.)
El Cid by Racine
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
Works of Saint John of the Cross
Works of Saint Teresa of Avila
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Thousand and One Nights by (young version?)
I need to choose a version.
Poetry of Africa
My House by Nikki Giovanni
Rashomon by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
(Hoping a cousin might chime in on this book or any other recommendation?)
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Exodus by Leon Uris
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Doctor Giancarlo Rastelli
It turns out that the doctor who invented the procedure used by Sarah's pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon to rebuild her heart is up for beatification for sainthood. What a fun connection!
I am looking forward to learning more about his life. He died so young, at age 36 years. He must have been a pious man at such a young age to be considered.
His story reminds me of Dr. Moscati's story. Have you read this? His story is a great one for our modern times........especially for the boys.
Sarah's surgeon, Dr. Frank Hanley, may not be a saint, but he is one of the best surgeons on the world. We found this out a few months after her first surgery. In the last decade, he has invented a procedure for Tetralogy of Fallot. It is pretty exciting. He will be known for this procedure forever.
Just wanted to share........and find a place to store the link so I could find it later.
St. John of God, patron saint of heart patients, pray for us!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Harvard Validictorian chooses the religious life
I read this aloud to my girls. This young woman has wise advice. Looks like she is a good thinker. :) DO read this article if you have kids......it will give you food for thought, as you and your children pray for their vocation.
Also, earlier this year, there was another story, of a young man "giving up" a potentially successful baseball career to answer God's call to him to become a priest. His story is here.
I am proud of these young Catholics........one should always seek the higher calling from God first...and then see what he has in store if the religious life is not for him. I appreciate these two excellent examples to hold up for our children.
Blessings to you and yours, and especially on our children's vocations!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Here is my original blog post about this topic in January 2008. I thought that I had written about this topic since, but I cannot find any such posts.
Here are the rules I gave myself at that time:
Recently, I read about research showing that folks who use journaling to write what they are thankful for...instead of just a place to vent, find their lives are more happy, more satisfying. It got me thinking......yeah, I know, scary thought.......well, it got me thinking, it might be kind of nice to just find ten things I am thankful for, in the moment. I have no rules...I may go over ten, if I cannot help myself......I may repeat myself.....and, I will write in no particular order of importance. If you feel inspired to do the same....do link yourself here in the comment section.
I am thankful for........
1. That we got our once-in-a-lifetime chance to see those amazing works at the art museum in San Francisco.....actual paintings of The Impressionists from THE Louvre! A dream come true! And, that there is one more exhibit coming to San Fran, to double the delight......and that we have the G Family to live with whenever we are in San Fran. Two families couldn't be more compatible.
2. That we get to go to the beautiful ocean at least twice. We loooove the ocean.
3. The fun of staying up too late chatting weddings with a future bride....and following it up with more fun and chatty conversation with my three girls. Lots of giggling, of course.
4. Arriving in time to San Diego to attend the first annual Twain Fest in Old Town San Diego. It was delightful to spend the day in a literary-based fashion! I love that my kids loved this day, too!
5. Eight-year olds who love to climb in bed with their mama for serious cuddling, kissing her, and saying "I love you"
6. A too-short, but charming visit with my Great-Uncle Howard and my second cousin Lynn. Lynn's breakfast was yummy and quite a treat. I am grateful that Unc could have enough imagination to let my crowd come to stay with him. I found it amusing to see Garrett following Unc around helping him with his electrical problem. I also am thankful for Unc sending a candy treat along for our ride.....Aunt Jo would have been proud. :) Looking forward to future visits.
7. Matthew's opportunity to attend Thomas Aquinas College. I am incredibly jealous.......I will need to read along with his reading list......well, maybe one book a semester.....or perhaps a year? Did I already mention I was jealous?
8. Friends who are understanding when we cannot come visit when we thought we would. :(((
9. A chance to spend quality time with our San Diego relatives, including the displaced one living in Las Vegas. I think it has been three years since we have been down here.
10. The Internet which provides an incredibly easy and efficient way of communicating with the family and friends......it makes it easy to keep up with relationships like those uncles, aunts and cousins that you grew up with , but hardly ever see........and with little sisters, too! And, of course, those friends that live across town that we do not bump into enough......and nieces and nephews....
Have a beautiful day, counting your blessings!!
With love and prayers,
Monday, August 16, 2010
We got a very late start today and did not leave Our Hearts' Haven until 4pm. With only one big stop, we got to San Francisco at 10pm. The last hour was hard. I was feeling quite sleepy, but with Kristin Chenowith singing old-fashioned jazzy love songs and the bickering between the younger boys, I was able to stay awake for my usual bout of "road rage" when it was time to pass the toll on the Bay Bridge. Drivers at that bridge are the most disrespectful drivers I have ever experienced! My goodness! And so consistent. Grrrrr.
It was wonderful to have Gloria answer the door and appear so healthy. Last time she opened the door for us, she was quite pale and without energy.
Of course the little girls could not fall asleep and were quite thrilled to have us here. Lots of giddiness ensued. The teens gathered to see a slide show of Matthew's Switzerland pictures.
It looks to be a late night......but that is okay......we are with cherished friends and there is never enough time to chat.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I am thinking........that I am so very tired. Being at the hospital at 5:30am was not conducive to much sleep last night......and neither was sitting around the hospital all day.
I am thankful for.......Sarah having responded well to her recovery today and this nice place to stay right next to the hospital. I am most especially grateful to my friend Shawna...who has my boys......and to Louise who has Maddelyn....while we are gone....freeing Marty to be available to his boss this week. Thanks, ladies...and Jacob, too! I am grateful for good medical care.
From the kitchen.........Sarah and I each just had a cup of hot tea...she enjoyed chai spice and I sipped Stash's Christmas Morning Tea........mmmmmm! Otherwise, it was hospital food all day.....not much to get excited about......
I am wearing......a pretty cotton skirt, red with white flowers and a long-sleeved red shirt...barefoot and sans leggings....which means...I must not be at home! :)
I am creating........at this moment: this daybook....it has been a very long time...November 20th to be precise!
I am going.....to get a good night's sleep tonight! How is that for positive thinkin'? Got to drive home from Sac tomorrow, in a rain storm....I need the rest!
I am reading.........Tom Playfair aloud to the boys.....and to the girls when they get a chance to listen. I just started a book called Sandy, I think...written by a man who raised a sandhill crane from an egg. I am loving it! I so enjoy books written by naturalists! I have also just read three Nicholas Sparks' books...for some easy, mindless reading: The Wedding, which I enjoyed a bit...not great writing, but distracting enough. I think iy has a great reminder about what is important in a long marriage. Worth a read for the marrieds, if just to remind a couple to keep those things in mind. It would be good if MEN would read it. :) Another: True Believer.......distracting....
I am hoping.......to call Willa soon....we have some visiting plans to discuss.
I am hearing......music: Swing.....Tangoes......
And, that's all I had got...before I went to bed!
I just wanted to make sure that I kept these memories some place retrievable and I did not want to waster the work I did........
Chari......visiting the Sierra Nevadas
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
It has been recommended to our county board of supervisors, to close all of our county libraries, as of June 30th.........half the branches as of June 23rd.
I cannot believe I was lying awake at 5:30 this morning, writing, in my mind, a letter to the Board of Supervisors regarding the closure of our libraries.
“I must make haste then in order to be emotional, and be emotional in order to be very truthful indeed.”~~~~~Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I arose from bed, and set to putting the words to the keyboard. Not much different from Bradbury, sitting in the basement of the UCLA library in the 1950's, writing his novel about firemen whose job it is not to put out fires, but to burn those books forbidden by the totalitarian regime.
Brave New World, The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451. Three pieces of literature in which the common citizen certainly has no control over what they are allowed to read, if they are allowed to read at all. It is ironic that I find inspiration to write this letter in a book I have borrowed from the County Library. Book burning? A thing of the past, belonging to Hitler or the dystopias of futuristic books? Or, to a Communist country? I had thought so. Sadly, perhaps not.
In 1966, Ray Bradbury wrote in his introduction to Fahrenheit 451 regarding his childhood experiences with libraries: “It followed then that when Hitler burned a book I felt it as keenly, please forgive me, as his killing a human, for in the long sum of history they are one and the same flesh. Mind or body, put to the oven, is a sinful practice.”
A young, ignorant friend, not a fellow bibliophile, told me: "It’s not as if they (Board of Supervisors) are making it illegal to read literature or are burning books." Well, yes, figuratively, and perhaps practically as well, it is. I would even go so far as to call it censorship. If we cannot have access to the books at the library, and if they are only going to save the books some random person deems necessary, we are being forbidden to read these books at this time. How is it that one county administrator and five supervisors, are emboldened with the capacity to actually close our county libraries? Wait, make that three supervisors. Two, Grace B. and Ed V., have up to this moment not supported the closing of the libraries. The saving of a small amount of money now, is an enormous waste of all the money the county has chosen to spend in the past decades, to fill our libraries with the resources its communities need or desire.
By closing the library system in our county, our citizens will no longer have available to them, the resources others in this world will have. This is a certain disadvantage, the dumbing down of our populace.
I am sure they do not take this lightly, this step backwards. But, it is taken selfishly. It is not taken for those people who voted them into office, but for themselves, to make a temporary budget work a bit better, barely. We are all aware that we live in a poor county, monetarily. But, do we want to live in an intellectually poor county, as well?
Is it possible that our elected officials could not even begin on their own to look for alternatives? Did they bother to ask their constituents what they would desire? Could the Board have created a committee of volunteers to create ideas to make the library system work, instead of giving one month’s death sentence for our libraries?
According to a recent article in the local paper, several libraries receive monies from their respective cities for utilities and building upkeep. Could we not continue to do something like this, keep our libraries open for less hours, use volunteers to man the libraries? Has anyone asked each community what they would be willing to do to keep their library open, before they consider the decision to close? There are solutions.
A friend mentioned to me that we the people do not have access to the whole budget. How are we 3.7 million dollars short? Where are we short? What are the salaries of the people in our county government? Where else do the people think we can cut? Why are the people told, not requested, to make the immense sacrifice of giving up our libraries (as well as money to the fire districts)?
Our family is one of many in Siskiyou County who educates through an Independent Study program at a local school. The library is an absolutely vital resource for these families to educate. Absolutely vital. There will be no way to function adequately without access to the resources provided, paid for through decades of public monies. Our money. Our parents’ and grandparents’ money. It is tragic that my youngest children would not receive the same high quality literature-based education that their older siblings enjoyed.
An older lady, with whom I am acquainted, lives in a very rural area of our county. She says the elderly there are devastated by the possibility of the closure of their small library. It is horrid to think these folks have paid their dues, their taxes, through all of these years, only to find one of their most important avenues of enjoying their later years, taken from them.
I realize many people think there is a small, vocal group of citizens making a lot of noise to “Save Our Libraries,” but they are representatives of the many too shy, busy or unsure of themselves to speak up. I am grateful for those willing to stand up for the rest of us. Please hear them. Please heed them.
Bradbury says books are “flesh and blood ideas.” Having been a very active patron our local branch for over twenty years, I can tell you it is a living, breathing being…..so busy the librarians could barely keep up the work required to keep it alive. Grief is what follows death and loss. This we shall have, with the closures of our libraries. I could not live with that decision. To be known forever in history as "the Board who closed the library."
In his introduction, Ray Bradbury further wrote, “For while Senator McCarthy is dead, the Red Guard in China comes alive and idols are smashed and books all over again, are thrown into the furnace. So it will go, one generation printing, another generation burning, yet another remembering what is good to remember so as to print again.”
Have we really come to this again?
Heartbroken bibliophile from Hearts' Haven,
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Have a blessed week!
PS: any questions? you know where to find me.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Ruth, as promised,
all of my rosaries have also included your special intentions....
....and always will.
Thank you so very much for your generosity. God will SO reward your sweetness!
Love and blessings,
PS: to find Ruth's handmade Rosaries.....see this website: Loreto Rosaries. Simply divine!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Petruchio~ Matthew McW
Sir Christopher Sly~Bethany
We will meet this Monday, and two weeks later, as Sarah will be out of town on the 12th. We were thinking of having a "movie night" on the 12th...if anyone is interested. We may even try to get the play read before the 11th......if it works out. As it is......who knows if the snow will mess us up for tomorrow night.
The line-up for the next plays:
Romeo & Juliet
As You Like It
A Comedy of Errors
Once school is out at the college.....I may be interested in just reading each play through to the end......if everyone else wants to do that....instead of splitting up the play in two nights.
I have Sierra bringing snacks for April 5th.......Bethany, can you do April 19th?
That's it, for now!
PS: There will be NO Shakespeare on April 26th....we will be out of town for a couple of days.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The cast list for Macbeth is as follows............
AN OLD MAN~Gavin
WITCH 2~Sierra S
APPARITION 3~Sierra S
A SCOTTISH DOCTOR~ Matthew McW
YOUNG SEYWARD~Matthew McW
SON OF MACDUFF~Chari
A GENTLE WOMAN~Sierra B
WIFE OF MACDUFF~Sierra B
MURDERER 1~Sierra B
AN ENGLISH DOCTOR~Sierra B
Various other players......ToBeDecidedOnTheSpot
See you tomorrow!
PS Taming of the Shrew will follow MacBeth...........and NO Shakespeare Club on April 12th....and possibly on April 26th.......though we may be able to meet on the 27th.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
This is the first poem to be found in a new find:
If you loooove books, you will adore these poems about books and reading!
Another great poem, describing my life with books....well, only till the beard part!
Happy reading, my friends!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I thought I would get started in January.
March is almost Januaury, right? ;)
And, when the snow melts AND it warms up......I will walk outside with the girls.
I have taken my WALK TO RIVENDELL pedometer back down to ZERO.
Well, I took it back to zero and added this week's miles.
Anyone joining me? Willa?
Please pray for persistence...consistency.....cheerfulness......results. :)
What do you think?
Has he got it nailed?
Any other ideas that you can add?
Which one of your favorite?
I found myself chuckling in public while reading this....because I could see it being played out in my own family.
I would never trade my small large family for anything! :)
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tonight, finally, Malachy was able to put his own composition to paper.
He has been playing his own composition for months.......begging someone to help him write it down.
Tonight, Sarah was sitting at the piano, working on a piece, when Malachy (age 8 years) approached her. In his hand was the music composition book I had finally unearthed from Matthew's things.
After helping him for a bit, he says to her:
"Thank you SO much!! I have been needing to get this written down. You know, Sarah........I have to start sometime. I mean, Beethoven started when he was eight. Of course, I will not be completely like Beethoven ........or like August Rush." :)
Not quite sure where he got the "Beethoven was eight" info..........but he sure brings a smile to our faces with frequency! Gotta love that kid!
I guess I should create a video of him playing his piece, eh?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Wow….I have really just freaked myself out. I knew this would happen…....and yet I did it anyway.
I read the book.
What was I thinking?????
It was a wonderful book. The author is a most excellent storyteller, as she called herself. I was spellbound from the start. She painted pictures in my mind…...pictures I did not need…....knew existed....….did not want…......but could not walk away from….....
I actually read the Afterward first, with curiosity. Then, the book became my constant companion for the next few days…..interrupting my 50 pages into Don Quixote.
And, my heart rate climbed, my breathing increased (both already a problem with this mild asthma)….my imagination worked overtime. I felt slight panic symptoms. Yikes.
I even had to call a friend to get this off of my mind…….the poor thing…...she lives in cougar country, too.
The title of this fascinating and frightening book?
STALKED BY A MOUNTAIN LION:
I live in cougar country. My backyard butts up against mountain ranges, including the Trinity Alps, that extend almost all the way to the Pacific Coast. We have spent numerous hours in the woods, meadows and mountains behind my house…..hiked the local locales….walked trails in the Sierra Nevadas…….I even lived in the Sierra Nevadas as a teen and young adult.
I knew they were there, those mountain lions. I knew sighting them was rare. I knew attack by a mountain lion was rare. I still know it is rare. But…..I cannot get those images the author painted for me out of my psyche. Not yet. It is so fresh. I feel like I was a witness, her stories were so raw.
I leave my house….....and I think there is a mountain lion watching……I arrive home, I feel watched. I am nervous to send the kids out to the chicken coop now.
Then, I start thinking about all of our visits to the meadow and woods behind our house……I am sure we were watched then. I am sure.
Then, I remember those four hours…..Maddelyn, Garrett and I spent in the wild, exploring, while Marty, Matthew & Terry hiked a local mountain to the peak….I am sure we must have been watched then. Even though I know, six years later, we are all safe, I still feel a little sick to my stomach.
Once, when I was in town….Matthew must have been babysitting……he saw a mountain lion in our yard. He tried to video tape it for us…but, well, he had some issues with holding the camera still……still, it did look like a mountain lion…the only animal that could have fit his description.
And, a couple of weeks later, he thought he saw a mountain lion tail go behind a bush on our property…..the dogs started barking like crazy at the same time at the same spot, for a very long time. The G-Family was visiting then and there were about eight little people playing on our giant swingset. We put ourselves on high alert, but we let the children play.
And, all of those things we are told to do, to be safe…….be loud, be big…..just do not seem to work, after reading these stories. Mountain lions are unpredictable. The scientists have not totally figured them out yet.
One thing that helps my imagination to stabilize is the fact that seems (to me) most of the attacks and killings seem to be where cities meet the wilderness……like Southern California. That is not the case here……and I have not ever heard of any attacks in this part of California.
Something that really creeps me out in the book are the stories about cougar attacks (including a death) and sightings at Cuyamaca, in Southern California……especially severe in the 1990’s. I had no idea. My mother-in-law, before she became ill with ALS, worked in that area. In the 1990’s, her entire family of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and some great-nieces and nephews spent a day there, picnicking, in her memory. Once again, I wonder….were we watched? With all those kids? Creepy.
Mountain lions follow the deer….....the deer are plentiful here…....as the deer scat “burning” our lawn tells me. As my dented Honda tells me....the one that had been hit by a doe one dawn. Wonder if it was running from a cougar?? ;)
I must stay rational:
Millions of families go hiking every year without mishap.
~~~~To be honest, it is this statistic that has always given me comfort. But, now, it is not so much my worry about meeting a mountain lion…it is that if I DO come face to face with one…..I now know too much about the outcome of such a meeting. WAY TOO MUCH. I have never been brave like that…..only brave enough for childbirth and dentistry and traveling cross-country with six kids. That is where my courage reaches. I have no courage for cougars. None now, especially.
We will go into the woods as we always have…....we will. I think. I will just always be nervous from now on….and, I will carry a weapon. No, I won’t, not really…..I have no idea how to use one. I will update my pepper spray. I have been lax about carrying it and a whistle lately. No more.
A quote from the book: as one parent told the author,
This is what sums it up for me.
Just some links I found........
Commonly Asked Questions About Mountain Lions
If I live in mountain lion habitat, how concerned should I be for my safety?
Statistically speaking, a person is one thousand times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion. That said, mountain lions are wild animals and, like any wildlife, can be dangerous. People who live in mountain lion habitat can take precautions to reduce their risk of encountering a mountain lion. By deer-proofing the landscape, homeowners can avoid attracting a lion’s main food source. Removing dense vegetation from around the home and installing outdoor lighting will make it difficult for mountain lions to approach unseen.
Are mountain lion attacks on humans common?
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. There have been only 16 verified mountain lion attacks on humans in California since 1890, six of them fatal. The last documented attack occurred in January, 2007, in Humboldt County.
List of Attacks on people in California
Interesting how the first documented case of a mountain lion attack and killing is in my own county....in 1890.
Oh, not at Prairie Creek State Park, too.......we go there often. And, the attack may have been right where we hiked those 6 miles with the kids. Stay calm :)
Mountain Lion Attacks On People in the U.S. and Canada
List of Mountain Lion Encounters With People in California
Mountain lion sightings, summer/fall 2009, in Northern California
Nice. Two sightings in Arcata..........where we sometimes play.
Quote: "And mountain lions are NOT LIKE BEARS, either….with mountain lions, there’s no drama, no encounter, no time to react. You don’t just run into a mountain lion on a trail and then he attacks you; mountain lions don’t invade your campsite trying to get in your cooler; mama lions don’t let their cubs get in your way; the lion doesn’t growl at you like a bear and stand up and clack its teeth.
Mountain lions don’t have bad tempers, they aren’t twice as big as you, and they don’t think they are the freakin’ kings of the woods; so they don’t go around looking for people to beat up, partly beause humans look kind of like bears, and lions are generally afraid of bears…so…
.....unlike an encounter with a bear, if you see a mountain lion, you can be pretty sure you’re not his intended target.Sure, it’s good to stand tall and make noise, reinforce the impression that you’re a human, not a deer. But he’s probably already figured that out, and, if he ever did have any idea of eating you, he’s lost his advantage, his modus operandi for large prey, his “knock you on your face” tactic; his hard-wired hunting instincts have already already whispered “move on”… that lion’s not coming for you."
Mountain Lions and California State Parks
Verified Mountain Lion Attacks on Humans in California(1890 through 2007)
Mountain Lion Sightings Rarely Spell Trouble
From this site:
More than half of California is considered mountain lion habitat; as a general rule, mountain lions live wherever deer are present. People are observed by lions far more frequently than lions are observed by people. Studies of radio-collared mountain lions show that lions tend to avoid people. Given the fact that there are well over 30 million people and thousands of mountain lions in California, encounters between people and lions are infrequent and attacks are extremely rare.
The DFG has issued the following recommendations for avoiding encounters with a mountain lion, as well as what to do if attacked by a mountain lion:
WHAT IF YOU LIVE IN LION COUNTRY?
DON'T FEED WILDLIFE: By feeding deer, raccoons or other wildlife in your yard, you may inadvertently attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
DEER-PROOF LANDSCAPE: Avoid using plants that deer prefer to eat; if landscaping attracts deer, mountain lions may be close by. The California Department of Fish and Game has a brochure entitled “Gardening To Discourage Deer Damage” available at most DFG offices.
LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Remove dense and/or low-lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for mountain lions, especially around children's play areas; make it difficult for mountain lions to approach a yard unseen.
INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the house perimeter well lit at night – especially along walkways – to keep any approaching mountain lions visible.
KEEP PETS SECURE: Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions. Either bring pets inside or keep them in a kennel with a secure top. Don't feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other mountain lion prey.
KEEP LIVESTOCK SECURE: Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to secure all outbuildings.
KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
WHAT TO DO IF ENCOUNTERING A MOUNTAIN LION?
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If there are small children there, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat's prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. When in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
How to Survive a Mountain Lion Attack
Not sure if all of what they say holds up after reading the book above....but, here are some quotes:
Coss “found that people who stood still avoided injury only 26 percent of the time. Cougars may view your lack of fight as a sign of vulnerability. Of people who backed away, 39 percent survived unscathed. And of those who booked it, 50 percent escaped without a scratch. In cases where two or more individuals happened upon a mountain lion and booked it, the fastest runner among the two or more escaped without injury 100 percent of the time.”
“According to the California Department of Fish and Game, 14 mountain lion attacks on humans have occurred in California since 1890; nine since 1992. Six attacks have resulted in fatalities — two from rabies, which is common in the animals, especially during summer months. The last death before Reynolds’ (2004) was in 1994. Here’s what the CDFG suggests you do to survive the trails in a cougar habitat:
1. Don’t ride alone: Cougars are less likely to attack groups. Ride with a partner, and stay close togther. If attacked, you can help one another.
2. Stand tall. Cougars try to bite the head or neck, so try tor emain on your feet, don’t bend over or turn away. Make yourself look bigger. Raise your arms, move them slowly, and speak in a firm, loud voice. If you’re wearing a jacket, open it. maintain eye contact with the animal.
3. Raise hell. Yell, scream, act aggressive. Whatever you do, don’t be quiet. It unnerves the animal and is an audible call for help.
4. If attacked, jab the animal’s eyes. Use something sharp — sticks, rocks, a bike pump, or your bare hands.
5. Keep fighting. Kick and punch until you can’t anymore.. Mountain lions have poor endurance. He might think that this isn’t worth it, and decide to go back to deer and other weaklings that flee.
6. Don’t ride or jog after dusk: Sundown in the mountains is near feeding time for cougars.
7. If you do ride after dusk, affix two lights to the back of your helmet: : “They look like eyes to the lions,” says Dan Cain of Borrego Springs, CA, who rides up to 30 miles per week in the desert mountains south of Palm Springs and has run across the big cats on several occasions. Charged by a lion in 1998 on the Pacific Crest Trail, he stood his ground, screamed “like a rock star,” aimed his lights into the lion’s face, and sighed with relief as the cat backed off.”