Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I can never figure out how Butterfly got so big when I could swear she was just born 6 months ago. And it is utterly impossible - but very true - that my little brother is having his 20th high school reunion this year.
In the last 20 days, though, Time has made my head spin in ways I didn't think were possible.
Twenty days ago I learned our friend was in the hospital with pneumonia. It made total sense because in May she worked for weeks on her friends' house that had been destroyed in the flood. I thought she maybe got sick from all the mold.
Seventeen days ago, we were told it could be cancer instead and they were doing tests.
Fourteen or fifteen days ago they confirmed inoperable cancer.
Twelve days ago she went home from the hospital and also left me an inspiring comment on my FB status about praying for her (which is so her).
Today she is in heaven. Just like that.
Most of those days, I was sure this would not happen. She is not someone I thought the world could do without. She loved too many people and was beloved by countless. She served and laughed. She attracted people like a magnet and made all of us feel welcomed. She inspired the kind of devotion that made our hearts melt for her. She was too bright and surely if she left, the world would get darker.
But today, the sun did not appear to know she was gone. The birds were singing and the flowers were blooming. People were driving places in their cars. I drove places in my car.
I thought it was so odd, and it reminded me of Skeeter Davis singing on my mother's old record: "Why does the sun go on shining, why does the sea rush to shore? Don't they know it's the end of the world....." and "I wake up in the morning and I wonder why everything's the same as it was. I can't understand, no I can't understand, how life goes on the way it does."
Life goes on. For us and also for Nancy because she is in Eternity.
She is free of Time with all its strangeness and constraints. She is free of sickness and pain and sorrow. She is free to run and dance and probably even fly. And she is free to throw parties for Jesus and hang out with her friends and little dogs who got there first. Don't you know they are SO glad to see her?
I know we will see her again in a while. But we have to go through Time first, and right now it seems to be a dark tunnel where things don't make much sense and weird things happen. But the days will turn into weeks and the years will start turning into hours and then minutes.
Rob heard me say her name aloud in my sleep this morning. I would give anything to remember that dream because maybe my spirit knew she was gone even if my mind didn't yet. Did I see her smiling and flying, dancing and laughing?
I love you, sweet Nancy. I am thankful to have known you. I wanted more Time with you, but I know Eternity is the best. Until then, I'll see you in my dreams.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
So when my mother-in-law gave us a book on raising creative children a couple of Christmases ago, I thought it would be full of great tips. I found it the other day and started reading about this interesting activity called "The Pretend Game".
In this game, you ask your child to close her eyes and imagine a bird cage. You ask questions about the birdcage (is it large, small, etc.) Then you ask her to imagine the bird and ask similar questions about the bird. Eventually, you get them to imagine the bird growing large enough for them to take a ride on it and you ask them questions about what they are seeing and where they are going, etc.
I decided to try this with Bella thinking I would get some great answers since she is always pretending anyway. Here's how the game started:
Me: Butterfly, let's play a pretend game. Close your eyes and imagine a bird cage. Do you see it?
Me: Is it little or big?
B: It's big!
Me: Do you see a bird inside there?
B: No. The BIRD is in the doghouse. There is a DOG inside the birdcage.
Not in the book.
Not in the box.
Not in the birdcage.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
"Butterfly, could you please put on some pants or a skirt? Tyler is coming over for a guitar lesson and you need to get dressed. It's not very polite to show strangers your panties. They are private."
She leaned over, cupped her mouth with one hand like she was telling me a secret and whispered conspiratorially.
"But he's a Facebook Friend."
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
B: Mommy, the baby Bunny always obeys the Mama Bunny. It's called obeyment.
Me: Wow, that's a great made-up word, ButterflyB.
B: I didn't make it up.
Me: Where did you learn it?
B: I learned it from myself. It's not like a mint that you eat. It's like agreement or _____.
(It was some other word ending in 'ment' -- like agreement -- that perfectly fit, but since I apparently gave all my cognitive abilities to her, I forgot it.)*
Me: Oh, I understand.
Daddy (upon hearing the story): Maybe she won't need school.
*UPDATE: I asked Rob what the other 'ment' word was, and it was compliment. (He didn't have to give his brain away to make hers....)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
On our quick trip to Rob's grandmother's house last weekend, we had a chance to go through his late grandfather's extensive and dusty library and take home whatever books we wanted. It was magnificently fun.
A little background: Mr. H -- actually Lt. Colonel (retired) H -- was an officer in Army intelligence during the Cold War and learned Chinese and Russian. He also served in India, Burma and Algiers in World War II, as well as Korea (after that war). The family lived in many exotic places during his career, including Okinawa, Thailand and Germany. Needless to say, his library was fascinating and diverse.
Here are the books we brought back with us. The majority of them are very, very old. (I included some very fun chapter titles for a couple of them.)
BOOKS FROM THE GRANDFATHER'S LIBRARY
The Song Of Hiawatha (two copies - an extremely old one and an even older leather bound one)
American Poetry (1671-1928)
The Year Out Of Doors
The Boat United And Other Poems, a translation of Tang poems in wood with original poems in Chinese Calligraphy (this book has some incredible artwork in it. I'll have to scan some.)
Joseph Wood Krutch Herbal
Driving To Biloxi (poems by Edgar Simmons)
Scribner Magazine, Winter 1996
Ducks At A Distance, a waterfowl identification guide (small booklet)
Guide To Spirits and Liqueurs
Riley Songs Of Home (by James Whitcomb Riley)
Ginseng And Other Medicinal Plants
Translations From The ChineseT(by Arthur Waley)
Heidi (children's picture book version)
The S.D.N Theory Of Music Rudiments
Webster's New World Vest Pocket Dictionary (so tiny & cute)
The Grapes of Wrath (by John Steinbeck)
Nicholas And Alexandra (by Robert K Massie)
Marie Antoinette, The Journey (by Antonia Fraser)
In Dubious Battle (by John Steinbeck)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (by Alison Weir)
An Introduction To Bird Life For Bird Watchers (by Aretas A Saunders)
Volumes II, III and IV of The Harbrace History Of England
Pigeon Flight (by Mary Stolz) - a juvenile fiction book
The Boy's Book Of New Inventions (Harry E Maule) -- check out the chapter titles
Artificial Lighting Made And Harnessed To Man's Use
The Motion Picture Machine
The Tesla Turbine
The Romance of Concrete
The Wireless Telegraph Up To The Minute (What would they think of Twitter??)
Steel Boiled Like Water And Cut Like Paper
New Engines Of War (aeroplanes, balloons, submarines)
Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo)
American Boy Adventure Stories
Foxfire 4 (includes fiddle making, springhouses, sassafras tea, etc.)
Basic Russian Book 2 (we got book one last time)
A Practical Guide For The Beginning Farmer
Haji Of The Elephants
The American Boys Handy Book (chapters below)
Novel Modes of FishingTracks And Tracking (by Josef Brunner)
How To Camp Out Without A Tent
Knots, Bends, and Hitches
Practical Taxidermy For Boys
How To Make Various And Divers Whirligigs
Count Of Monte Cristo, Illustrated (by Alexander Dumas)
World Enough And Time (by Robert Penn Warren)
A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (by Mark Twain)
The Tale Of Mr. Tod (by Beatrix Potter)
The Pilgrim's Progress (by John Bunyan)
A Wrinkle In Time & A Swiftly Tilting Planet (by Madeleine L'Engle)
Hamlet (very small & cute book)
Modern American Poetry (copyright 1921)
Poetry Of The People: Ballads, Lays of Heroism, And National Songs
How To Live On Nothing (by Joan Ranson Shortney)
The Stranger (by Albert Camus)
Flowers, a Guide To Familiar American Wildflowers
Clocks And Watches
Unfortunately, we had to leave hundreds and hundreds more behind. He had so very many about World War II, including official Army booklets analyzing the battle strategies on the different fronts during the war. It was amazing.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Butterfly hates getting her hair washed.
In retrospect, I regret being so careful with water when she was a baby, never letting it get in her face and eyes. I thought I was being kind because I don't particularly like water in my own face, but I realize now that I missed my opportunity to desensitize her to it. Now she hates the thought of a single drop getting near her face, which will be a huge problem when she takes swim lessons.
Sometimes when her hair gets dirty, I will just put it up in braided buns (aka Bear Ears) and put off the drama another day. She has started using this as a negotiating technique.
This conversation occurred a few weeks ago, and I just came across my written record of it.
Mommy: We are going to wash your hair today.
Butterfly: I just want to have bear ears.
Mommy: No, your hair is very very dirty and we have to wash it.
Butterfly: I am going to be very unhappy if you wash my hair.
Mommy: You shouldn't say that. You should say, "I am going to be so happy because we are washing my hair, and my hair will be silky and clean."
Butterfly: I'm just going to leave because you are saying those crazy words to me.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
Monday, August 18, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Her smile was kind, not so much her smile as the lips themselves. They were vital seperate lips, which seemed about to flutter from her face like a lark into the sky. They were made, as all lips are, for kissing, yet they had other more important work to do: to sing of brightness and beauty.Everyone should read that book and really anything else by Solzhenitsyn. As you can see from the paragraph above, he has a lovely way with words. I am trying to read more of his work, but he wrote so accurately about the oppression in the Soviet Union that much of his work is very, very sad and disturbing (though Cancer Ward is, surprisingly, not so sad and kind of funny at times).
For his trouble and talents, he was arrested many times, tossed into the gulag (prison camp) and was eventually exiled to Kazakhstan. He also won an Nobel prize for literature, which may have saved his life. It brought him and his work so much attention from the outside world that the Soviets couldn't really kill him without a big uproar. He eventually left (escaped?) the USSR, and he now lives in Vermont. For a brief biography of this remarkable author and man, go here.
Also, if you are an artistic person, you MUST read his Nobel prize acceptance speech located here. Wow.
Now read his books! You can start with A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich; it's really short and covers one day in the life of a gulag prisoner. Then be sure and read Cancer Ward. (By the way, the author also had a bout with cancer when he was in exile and spent time in a soviet cancer ward. And we think our lives are hard...) For some really sad but true non-fiction, you can read The Gulag Archipelago about life in the former Soviet Union.
Thank you, Mr. Solzhenitsyn, for believing in a better world than the one you saw around you and for persevering to show us that art really can change things. May the rest of your life be peaceful, and may you see as many days of joy as you did sorrow.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
I decided to look to a few experts for a solution. What would Sherlock Holmes, Guy Noir, Nancy Drew, Jupiter Jones, Trixie Belden and Encyclopedia Brown do in a case like this? Follow the clues, of course.
Like any good private eye, I set my trap and staked out the scene. Voila! I procured photographic evidence of a little-known creature rumored to be completely imaginary: The Breakfast Elf.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you irrefutable proof that she exists:
Don't be surprised if you hear about this ground-breaking discovery on NPR. If I don't return your calls in the next few days, it's probably because I am busy with interviews. Or because my phone reception at my house is non-existent. One of those.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Though rare, some things I've found improve with timeIsn't he awesome?
And though these can range from the finest wines
To a truly great pair of leather boots
To a Shakespearian sonnet, the truth
Found at their core, distilled by time's warring
Factions: a golden heart of Quality
Whose luster is only evidenced the
More through every passing year's abrading.
And as a poem can newly strike the heart
Each year it's read, or music find anew
Some hidden treasure, all our sacred art
Seeks that eternal, upward sloping view.
And now, my clearer eyes begin to see
The beauty our togetherness will be.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
It became even lovelier when we realized she was still asleep and was laughing in her dreams. So we smiled sleepy smiles at each other and dove back into our own dreams.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Read the whole speech here. Are you inspired yet?But I have asserted a firm conviction -- a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people -- that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances -- for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives -- by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny...
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds -- by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
Monday, March 17, 2008
For my birthday, my mother took me shopping for a present, and I chose to get the above pattern, some gorgeous fabric, and a few fun notions to make the fabulous vintage-looking wrap dress on the right. Here's the fabric:
I am really excited, and if I must confess, more than a little nervous. I had a really difficult time picking out the fabric, and that is the easy part. When I got home, opened the pattern, and looked at the instructions, my heart starting beating faster and I sort of lost my breath.
I just started sewing a couple of years ago, and up until now, I've pretty much only sewn straight lines. I've only used a pattern once in my life - to make an apron in 5th grade for 4-H. (And that went so well, it took me this long to try again.) Even then, my mother was there telling me exactly what to do. And not to do. And how to take out seams. A lot.
Since then I have mainly just cut squares and sewn them together. Then a few weeks ago, I made Butterfly a little skirt out of pants, and I thought, "Well, if I can do this I could really make some fun clothes if I used a pattern!"
But my mother, the expert seamstress, has gone back home now, leaving me here with a pattern, fabric, notions and a toddler. Hm.
I hope this turns out well.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Yesterday evening, we were walking to the car and were about to go home for dinner. She said, "I am so hungry. It's hard to think."
Then this morning, I came downstairs after my shower to find her eating with Daddy, and she said, "Your outfit. I like it mommy. You look very pretty. You look very great!" (Melt, melt, melt, says my heart.)
And a few minutes ago, she was running (and running and running and running). As she sailed by each time she yelled, "I'm running so fast you can't even see me!"
Who needs television when you have a toddler?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
He was able to bring corporations to the point of acquiescence without resorting to violence or bribery. He was able to pass legislation that changed the daily lives of not only blacks but also women, people of faith, and immigrants - without ever being elected to public office or attempting to buy political influence. He was able to garner and leverage the attention of the entire international community on behalf of America's poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised - without ever being appointed to an ambassadorship or other high-profile international post. He was able to remind U.S. citizens what a democracy was and to engender a sense of moral responsibility that, more than 40 years later, challenges us to be the good we want to see in the world. King was a political genius.
So in this politically charged season, when race and gender and ideology are, as we have seen already, apt to become weapons in a war for the hearts and minds and hopes and dreams of all U.S. citizens, all politics remain identity politics - but that doesn't mean we have to pit our identity against the identity of another. In the spirit of King - and Jesus before him - we can choose to identify with more than just ourselves. We too can be both privileged and unprivileged, black and white, Asian and Latino, Muslim and Jew, Christian and Pagan, rich and poor, citizen and immigrant, national and international, public and private, veterans and peacemakers, Republican and Democrat, homosexual and unborn, blue collar, white collar, and no collar.
We can know each other's suffering, be acquainted with each other's grief, and work on each other's behalf to heal the hurts that have for too long divided the human family and robbed us of the solidarity that is, perhaps, our only hope of a brighter tomorrow.