Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Card...Or Lack Thereof

What with one thing and another, I’m thinking I won’t have time to put out a holiday card this year.  Alas!  So here is the picture of Owen that I was planning on using for the card (taken by Sean):

And I even had some good holiday pictures of the pets this year, which I probably would have included:

Happy Holidays early!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dorothy's News

We have been suffering a series of small calamities these days, including one regarding Miss Dorothy.  On the Monday before Thanksgiving, I was awakened by Dorothy in bed next to me having what appeared to be a grande mal seizure.  It was horrible.  There were cries of pain, gallons of frothing from the mouth, and releasing of her bladder and bowels.  I truly thought she was dying and when she seemed to be quieting down a bit, I ran to get Sean so he could say goodbye to her before she died.

By that time she was coming out of her seizure, although she didn’t really seem to recognize Sean.  However, twenty minutes later she was back to normal and trotted down the stairs for some water and to go outside.  We had a vet appointment already set up for her for another issue for that coming Friday, so we brought her then and they did bloodwork and everything was fine.  They could only conclude then that she probably had epilepsy, since her age at almost 5 was right for a first episode, and apparently bulldogs in general are inclined to get it.

What we all were hoping though was that it would be a one-time thing, but two weeks later, this past Tuesday night, she had seizures at 7:00 pm, 12:30 am, 3:30 pm, and 8:30 am.  We brought her again to the vet, since it seemed the seizures were “clustering,” which apparently is Bad, and they monitored her for a day and gave her some valium for pain.

Now Dorothy, like humans with epilepsy, is on phenobarbital, which she will take twice a day for the rest of her life.  And hopefully the meds will work to keep most of the seizures at bay.  The vet said she will seem a little drunk for awhile until the meds work their way fully into her system.  And she does seem not quite herself yet.  She’s been getting some good sleep, finally, and she’ll get out some balls and bring them over to us, but there are strange things too – like she won’t go upstairs in general, or go upstairs for water in particular, which is something she used to do multiple times per day.  She also keeps seeming to hear things that we can’t hear.

Apparently the only side-effects of the meds are an increase in thirst and an increase in appetite.  This seems good to me, in a way, since Dorothy has always been our Skinny Santa, and we are always trying to fatten her up.

It’s always something with our beloved rice-paper pup!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November 2015 Book Reviews

The Blood Spilt by Asa Larsson.  This is the second in Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson mystery series and it is an excellent read!  Like the first, it again takes place up in Kiruna, Sweden, or close to it, and picks up a half year or so after the first one ended.  Rebecka the lawyer is traumatized from the events in the first book and her role in them and is not able to concentrate much on work.  She travels north with a partner in her law firm to help with a minor matter, and stumbles into an unfolding series of crimes in a nearby town.  Larsson switches back and forth between Rebecka, the detective Anna Maria Mella, some new characters, and even a yellow-legged wolf who has recently arrived in the area.  She does so with great skill and fast pacing – she’s very good at creating characters and letting you know about them without oversharing the obvious bits.  The new story and murders are shocking and sad and as they unfold and poor Rebecka unwittingly gets caught up in the goings on, it was very hard to put the book down.  And although I kept hearing my grandparents say something along the lines of – why are you reading Swedish mysteries when there are perfectly good Norwegian mysteries to be read? – I was very caught up in this one.  I shall pace myself a bit before beginning number three.  And here’s a bonus – although this book was set in the north of Sweden, most of it takes place in September, so there were barely any cold temperatures!  No parkas.  No snow.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  I am late to this bandwagon, I know.  I’ve been reading about the book for the last half a year, and couldn’t decide if I was intrigued or not, but then was able to borrow the book from a friend.  And I’m glad I did – a lot of what she says I had already heard or read about, but it seemed worthwhile to me to read about her KonMari system in detail.  She basically comes across as kind of an idiot savant of tidying.  She portrays herself as being obsessed with organizing and tidying since the age of five, and whether or not that is true, she certainly proves herself to have thought a lot about the topic.  It is rather fascinating in its simplicity.  With Kondo’s help, her clients tidy their homes and in doing so change their lives – and she claims none of them ever return to their untidy ways.  The main way she is able to get them to reach success seems to me to be that she recommends throwing away more than half of what you own.  She believes you need to go through all your possessions, hold each one (each book, each item of clothing, each memento), and only keep “what sparks joy.”  If you are having trouble getting rid of an item that doesn’t spark joy, then it is because you can’t let go of the past or are fearing the future.  Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to keep your house tidy because you have nothing left!  But also, everything you keep has a place and so it is simple to always put everything where it belongs.  Simple, no?  There are a few things I resisted, while reading.  For one, I don’t see why you HAVE to do it at once, in a period of a few days, as Kondo suggests.  She says if you do a room at a time, it won’t work, but that doesn’t seem to me to have to be the case.  (She does recommend organizing by category rather than room – and has a specific order you should use for the categories.  Clothes, books, etc.)  There are also a few extremes:  everyone mentions her proclamation of not balling socks, that socks want to relax in the drawer etc.  But another of her proscriptions also seemed a little extreme – and that is unpacking your purse at the end of every day.  If you are going to put the same things back in the purse in the morning, then what is the point?  Other than rigidity?  But she definitely got me thinking, and I plan to implement some of her ideas, if not all.  (Update:  I did try her method of folding clothes in drawers, and was very surprised at how well it works!  I have twice as much room in my dresser as I did when I folded items and stacked them.  Mind blown!)

The Fever by Megan Abbott.  I read an interview with Gillian Flynn a while ago, in which she said that this was one of her favorite books, so I added it to my queue.  And it is good, although it’s not the most comfortable of reading experiences – on purpose, I am sure.  The novel takes place in a high school in a small town (whose location is specifically not identified, I’m not sure why), and events begin when one of a group of three high school girlfriends falls rather violently ill.  She ends up in a coma in the local hospital, and no one can figure out what is wrong with her.  Then other girls in the school start falling sick with some of the same symptoms.  The point of view is mainly that of one family – the father, Tom, who is a teacher at the school, and his son, Eli, a hockey player, and daughter, Deenie.  The book basically documents the slow build-up of mass hysteria, and that is where the reading gets a bit difficult.  I got tired of being in the school and in the small town and witnessing the growing hysteria of the kids and their parents, as everyone tries to figure out what is going on.  There’s a lake in the town that is fenced off and is covered with algae, so for a while people think that the lake is the culprit, since some of the victims went swimming there.  The writing is good, and her characters are believable and well created.  As I said though, I did get to feeling rather claustrophobic and tired of the hysteria, but right when I was really beginning to work up into a snit, the tension shifts as we learn the real cause of events.  It’s a thriller that moves in slow motion.

New And Selected Poems, Volume Two by Mary Oliver.  After finishing volume 2 of her collected poems, I’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t really like Oliver’s poems as much as I feel I should.  And when I say “should,” I don’t refer to any outside pressure, but just that the style of her poems are what I usually like in a poem:  the language is direct and clear, she uses an observed incident to reach an interesting conclusion, and she never seems to be difficult just for difficulty’s sake.  That said, I found that with this volume, I really liked ten or so poems and then was indifferent to the rest (but perhaps discovering ten or so poems in a book that really speak to me is enough, and I’m being greedy to expect more?  That is up for debate.)  At any rate, Oliver is a nature poet, whose language tends to verge towards the simple side of the colloquial: and when she gets it right, I think she really gets it right.  For example, in her poem, “The Measure,” she writes of stopping her car to help a turtle cross a road, and then ends up musing on who is lucky in that scenario, the turtle who gets perhaps life-saving help, or the woman who gets to stop and help the turtle.   She simultaneously raises the question of her life being manipulated by higher powers in a parallel way to how she is manipulating the life of the turtle.  In “The Owl Who Comes,” she sets the scene of an owl on the hunt and then wonders, “and if I wish the owl luck,/ and I do,/ what am I wishing for that other/ soft life,/ climbing through the snow?”  It doesn’t get much better than that.  So be sure to read “Touch-me-nots,” her famous “Snow Geese,” and “Some Things, Say The Wise Ones.”  You will stop and think, you will be all the wiser, you will be sure to notice details in the world around you that you hadn’t noticed before.

The Lake House by Kate Morton.  This is an excellent read – Kate Morton seems to get better and better with each book she writes, and I really enjoyed this one from start to finish.  It shares the format with the other two books of hers that I’ve read (there are two I still want to read) – and that is that the book jumps from a certain time in the past to a certain time in the present, and keeps going back and forth between the two timeframes.  Basically, a detective, Sadie Sparrow, who is on leave from her job, is staying with her grandfather in Cornwall.  While out running with his dogs, she stumbles upon an old overgrown estate on a lake.  Curious, and with too much time on her hands, Sadie starts to investigate and discovers that the house has been closed up since 1933, when the family who lived there had a 1 year-old child who went missing.  Sadie decides to try to solve the still unsolved mystery of the missing Theo Edevane.  The narrative then keeps returning to 1932 and 1933 and fills in the story of the Edevane family, with the patriarch, Anthony Edevane suffering from shell shock from WWI, and focusing in particular on the middle daughter, Alice, who went on to become a famous mystery writer and is now living in London in her late eighties.  We also get Alice’s point of view, both when she was a girl of 15 in 1933 and currently.  Then there is the added bonus of the reason Sadie is on temporary leave, which has to do with a case of hers in which she became too emotionally invested, regarding a mother who seems to have abandoned her 4 year-old daughter, whether on purpose or due to foul play.  It is all very well done:  Morton is really skilled at creating interesting characters who seem real in their flaws and strengths, and also very real and interesting in how they respond to the actions that befall them.  Some might find the ending a little too pat or wrapped up, but I was so enjoying the story that I couldn’t even criticize the improbable way it all came together.  It’s a really fun read!

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.  I have heard a lot about Mahfouz, but had never read any of his prodigious amount of novels, so I finally borrowed this trilogy from my father.  One 500-page novel down, two to go!  I read it very slowly – maybe one or two chapters three or four times a week, and enjoyed reading it, although wasn’t really compelled to move through it at a faster pace.  It seems to me that its value lies in how it portrays a certain slice of upper middle class Egyptian life in the early twentieth century.  There are of course elements of that life that are hard to wrap one’s mind around – especially when it comes to how the patriarch of the family makes every important decision for the family completely on his own, and his word is law.  Plus, the female members aren’t allowed out of the house – basically ever – so are more or less in a kind of house arrest.  The mother, Amina, will visit her mother every now and then, but those visits are escorted, and she is never allowed out in her own neighborhood, even to go to the market or to walk around the block.  The same holds true for the adult daughters, Aisha and Khadija.  It is hard to fathom.  In this first novel, three of the five children of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad get married – all marriages arranged by their father.  Mahfouz shows one son, Fahmy, a 19 year-old law student get swept up in the anti-Britain demonstrations, and try to balance his obedience to his father with what he thinks is right morally and politically.  Then there is Kamal, a boy of 11, who only half understands what is happening when his sisters get married and don’t return home, and other incidents that occur around him.  Kamal enjoys the English soldiers who are billeted across the street from his house, and is not thrilled when they are forced to withdraw.  The next two books in the trilogy are about the same family, and I look forward to reading them, a small bit at a time.

Your Three Year-Old:  Friend or Enemy by Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg.  My mother’s friend recommended this series of books about parenting; she warned that since they were written in the seventies they are outdated when it comes to issues of gender (in most examples the fathers work while the mothers stay at home; boys like trucks, girls like dolls, etc), but that in her experience as a teacher, they were still the most accurate and helpful.  I haven’t read many parenting books at all, so I don’t have much to compare them to, but as I read each year, they are definitely helpful and are uncannily accurate.  It’s not like I think Owen is the rarest of special snowflakes (I mean, of course I do, but I know that as his mother I can hardly think otherwise), but it was still very surprising to read this book about three year-olds and see that so much of what I would have considered Owen’s traits, are really developmental phases that he is going through, as are all kids.  It is odd that we are such predictable, formulaic beings!  But after experiencing certain days packed with petty arguments with a small, lovely tyrant, it is also very reassuring to know that this too, will pass.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Owen Flotsam

Owen decided I needed a lesson in manners last night.  We were playing with his Thomas trains, and when we do so, he tends to be a bit bossy about which train I get to play with and what I can make it do.  So sometimes I buck a little at the restraints of all his train rules.  This does not go over well with the three year old CEO.  After multiple times of making the train do something not proscribed by Owen, he asked me if I would apologize to him, because I “was being a little mean.”  He told me, “You say, ‘I sorry’” and then I say, “I forgive you,” and then you say, “Jank joo.”  Harrumph!

Owen has also been a big proponent this year of thinking Christmas decorations are out too early!  If you bring up this subject, he’ll immediately start ranting:  “No stockings on the chimney!  No Christmas trees!  No Santas!” and he’ll go on and on.  He’ll also say, “Goodbye, Halloween!”  And if you ask him what decorations SHOULD be out now, he’ll say, “Turkeys and corn!”  Indeed.

His language is pretty good on the whole - -he tends to impress strangers in stores with his vocabulary, although I imagine that is typical of an only child who spends most of his time around adults!  He has trouble with his “v’s” – the trains Victor and Oliver are Dictor and Oliber.

I think he will be a scary movie aficionado as he really liked to watch Halloween cartoon songs on my phone, especially the ones that scared him a bit.  He would ask for the one with the “scary girl” (a cartoon toddler dressed as a vampire), and when he was feeling particularly brave, the one with the gumbies (zombies).

Owen often goes with Susan to Barnes & Noble, since they have a well-stocked train table, with surrounding chairs for the caregivers to use.  For awhile he called it “The Bookstore”, but as of late has been called it “The Bookstoble.”

I was at the track with Owen the other day, and was trying to lure him off the bleachers and towards home by telling him that I bet Daddy was playing with his trains.  He replied, “No he isn’t.  He’s cutting fruit and putting it on a plate.  With a spatula.”  All righty then!

We were talking about Christmas, Owen and I, and I told him that soon we would start buying Christmas presents for people.  And Owen replied, “Like for the ladies at the bank?”

Owen's first selfie:

I was putting on some shoes to go to work the other day and Owen said to me, "Those shoes are a little old for you, Mom."  No they are not!  

Cute oxfords that are clearly also very youthful:

Owen went to a class at a local nature center today, and the theme was Thanksgiving.  When the teacher asked, "What do we eat at Thanksgiving?"  Owen yelled, "Cheese sandwiches!!"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fall Artwork

Owen and Susan often spend time at Susan’s house, where there are more art supplies than there are in our own home.  Susan is crafty and also an accomplished card and stationery maker, and Owen reaps the benefits.  Often Owen will make a special card or letter for one of us, and then mail it from Susan’s house to ours.

For awhile there was much talk of a robot they were working on at Susan’s, and the other day the robot was finished and came home to our house.  Isn’t he handsome?

Owen has also been working on projects at nursery school and has lately been pleased with what he brings home.  Here are a few Halloween specimens that he was particularly proud of:  a mummy, and a fence with pumpkins.

At his insistence, we started taping up the Halloween artwork on our mantel, or as he calls it, “the ceiling.”  The trouble with acquiescing to these demands, is that now he wants to tape up every list he makes – and he is very prolific with his list-making.  And the lists aren’t very, shall we say, decorative.  His favorite are grocery lists, in which he has a paper and pen, and asks us what we need, and then jots down what we need on the list.  However, he’s also a bit tyrannical, so half of what we say we need at the store, he says no to.  What mostly gets allowed to stay on the list are dog treats for Dorothy and cat treats for the kitties.  Don’t ask me why.

Look out, Martha Stewart!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

No Grooming for Plum

Towards the beginning of October, I finally made and kept a grooming appointment for Plum.  He was very clumpy again, and although I had made resolutions to brush him every other day in September – and actually stuck to that schedule – I still thought that one of the reasons why he became so clumpy in the first place is that he was just overall rather dirty and needed a bath.  And I certainly was not going to attempt to bathe him myself – I would leave that task for professionals.

But easier said than done!  The problem is that there aren’t cat groomers near me that I know of.  There’s one about 45 minutes away but Plum gets very carsick (or used to, at any rate) and I figured that if I got him cleaned that far away, then he would probably sully himself on the way home – for that is how these things work.  One of our vets recommended a nearby grooming and boarding place, and so I made an appointment there with the one guy who “does cats.”  And this guy, Miguel, was very nice, except that he warned me when I dropped Plum off that the bath might not happen, since he had no restraints for cats, and was only able to bathe those who wanted to be bathed.  Which struck me as a little optimistic of him – do any cats “want” to be bathed?  I certainly couldn’t think of any.  At any rate, I wished him luck and went on my way, and then felt sure that Plum had okayed the bathing, since I didn’t get a call from Miguel until 3:00.  But no, he had tried three times to bathe Sir Plum, and each time Plum had said, Surely you jest? And so there was no bathing of the purple cat.

He did give him a good brushing and a “deshedding something or other”, and did not charge me very much, so there’s that.  But I have had to give up my notion of a sparkling clean and sweet-smelling lilac British shorthair in my house, and Plum continues to clean only where he sees fit – his privates, his paws, and his face.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

C Is For Cookie

We ended up getting a cookie monster costume for Owen for Halloween, after much thought.  He doesn’t particularly like to dress up – except for the occasional hat he’ll wear while playing – and so I figured that if the costume didn’t appeal to him he wouldn’t wear it.  He doesn’t watch Sesame Street much, if at all, but he likes to sing the song “C is for Cookie” and will watch Cookie Monster sing it on my phone on occasion.  And when I asked if he wanted a cookie monster costume, he seemed very enthusiastic about it. 

Another plus is that the top of the costume was a hood, so he could either wear the hood part or just have it hanging from his neck.  He had multiple occasions on which to wear the costume, the first being a birthday party in the middle of October.

Then we went to the Philadelphia zoo on the 24th, a day on which kids were supposed to wear their costumes, and then they had trick or treat stations by the animals.  We had stumbled upon it by chance last year, and decided to go on purpose this year.  Owen wore his costume and rode around in his blue car and had a good time – it’s fun to see all the kids dressed up, and a lot of the parents!  Owen also didn’t seem interested in the trick-or-treat stations, so we could skip that part of the celebration and concentrate on the animals, or the statues of animals:

He then wore the costume to school on the 30th for the Halloween parade.  There was a bit of drama:  he was happy to wear the costume to school, but when he arrived immediately wanted to take it off so he could get down to the business of playing with the school toys.  We left him sobbing angrily with a teacher, as she tried to convince him to leave his cookie monster suit on.  Fifteen or so minutes later, he paraded past us three times, holding the teacher’s hand, and was Not Pleased.  I had expected that there might be problems when he saw us and wasn’t allowed to go to us, and I was right.  The second time he paraded by though, the teacher did let him stop for a “mom hug”.

Then he went inside for Halloween fun and games and all seemed well.  His friend, Mason, didn’t enjoy the parade either, and Owen is still talking about how Mason had tears “all over his face” and the teachers wiped them off.  He says “Mason didn’t like the parade” and then shakes his head sadly.  It’s the new “Mary Spilled Her Juice” story from yesteryear.

Then of course he wore the suit on Halloween for trick-or-treating and had a great time.  He kept asking Sean if they could go to one more house.  He was then also pleased with the kitkats (he breaks them apart and says “one for me, and one for you!” and hands one to me), and the Reese’s.  He doesn’t eat much of the rest of the candy, as he doesn’t like the ones that have “honey” in them (caramel), or “crunch” (most everything else).  Strange kid! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 2015 Book Reviews

The Martian by Andy Weir.  I kept reading good things about this book, and got it on my kindle many months ago, but then when I saw it was about to come out as a movie, I decided I had better read it before I inadvertently heard what happens at the end.  And it was a really good read!  The kind where I was a little depressed when it was over, and also wished that it would have gone on for 100 or so more pages with some follow up (although it certainly doesn’t need extra).  For those who don’t know, it’s the story of an astronaut, Mark Watney, who goes on a mission to Mars (the US’s third, I think) and gets left behind by his fellow astronauts when things go wrong and they think he is dead.  Watney is a funny nerd with MacGyver tendencies – he’s an engineer and botanist by trade – and when he realizes his situation, he sets about trying to see how he could possible stay alive until the next scheduled Mars mission.  The majority of the book is in diary/log format kept by Watney, but then we get NASA’s point of view interspersed as well.  I’m told that Weir posted most or all of the book on a blog as he wrote it, and got scientists to help him fix the technology until it was as accurate as possible.  I can’t speak to accuracy, but it was fascinating to read about how Watney thinks of solutions and then puts them into motion.  It’s a much better book than I had been expecting.  The writing is a bit on the utilitarian side, but it fits with the subject matter.  It’s a really enjoyable and fun read!  Have at it!

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  I kept reading that it was one of the top five books of the Fall, and I had mostly enjoyed her previous book, Arcadia, but for the first half of it, I was at best indifferent, and mostly grumpy at its turn of events.  It is the story of a couple, and I suppose a marriage.  The first half of the book is from the man’s point of view – from birth through death.  That’s the part I didn’t much like.  I didn’t enjoy Lotto, and didn’t find him interesting.   Then when Lotto is dead, Groff goes back and starts over with the story of his wife, Mathilde, and I found this part more readable.  She’s a rather prickly, hard to like character herself, but what was fun about the second half of the book is that you can compare her depiction of events with Lotto’s, and it’s interesting to see how they differ and how they fit together.  I also found Groff’s writing to be a little bit too everything-but-the-kitchen-sink.  There are tons of Greek play references, and myth references, and Shakespeare references, plus author asides, and play synopses, and I kept waiting for there to be an overarching purpose that would become clear, but when it did not, it just seemed to me like she was trying to throw in everything and see what worked.  I usually really love an authorial aside “dear reader” moment too, but the author here was all-knowing in a way that I just couldn’t quite work out.  So in summary, I disliked the first half, liked the second, but thought it didn’t quite work as a unified whole.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.  This book was a recommendation for a good scary read that I read about on a blog, and I have to say that it was not quite that.  I eagerly read it on the train for a week, and I wanted to find out what happened, but it was pretty thin, on the whole.  The narrator is an older twenty-something who is herself a reclusive mystery writer, and gets an invitation for a “hen weekend” (thus clueing me into the fact that this is an English book) from a childhood friend she hasn’t talked to in a decade.  She sees that another old friend is invited, and contacts her, upon which they decide randomly they both will go if the other does.  The hen weekend is in a glass house in the forest, and Ware does do a good job making the place very spooky in its open-ness, as well as assembling a strange cast of characters.  For it’s not the jolly, alcohol-filled party one would expect.  There’s the bride to be, the friend who is hosting the party in her aunt’s house and who has recently suffered a mental breakdown, a normal woman who leaves right away, and a man who was friends with the bride in college.  So basically almost no one knows each other, and we soon learn that there is a reason why the narrator hasn’t spoken with the bride in ten years.  Where the book fails is that the characters remain very one-dimensional:  we don’t know much about them, and they don’t seem like real people.  There is no fleshing out.  I was drawn in because of the unchronological narrative – the book begins with the narrator in the hospital after a bad accident in which someone else died, so I read on to find out what happens, but it just wasn’t very impressively constructed or written.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This is an interesting little book that I believe came from two TED talks that Elizabeth Gilbert gave in the past year or so.  I admit, too, to being fond of Gilbert (I loved her first three books before Eat, Pray, Love, and liked the two after, as well), and finding her almost always delightful, both on the page and in interviews.  So I was happy to start Big Magic, a self-help book telling people to give themselves permission to live a creative life.  Gilbert made a vow as a young girl that she would always write, and she has remained true to that vow.  She believes if you want to create, you should create, and create daily, and also don’t expect your creativity to be your meal ticket.  She has this interesting theory of creative ideas being out there floating about in the ether, and they will end up with anyone who is receptive to them, but they will also leave if you don’t use them.  It’s kooky, yes, but intriguing.  I thought it was an enjoyable read, although I’m not sure I ended it feeling hugely inspired.  She does a good job extolling the virtues of daily work on a craft, and is also wise to instruct that you should divorce your craft from your paycheck.  I disagreed with her a little when she wrote of how she doesn’t think a creative degree from a university, or grad school, is necessary.  And whereas I agree that it isn’t necessary, I think she overlooked the main benefit of such a degree – which is the time it affords you in which to write, or paint, or otherwise create.  Gilbert is clearly a very energetic person who could work four jobs and still come home and sit down and write for hours, but that isn’t necessarily feasible for everyone!  I haven’t read yet how the book has been received, and I’m curious as to what other people think of it.  I think it is fun, and conversational, and raised interesting questions.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


We don’t have leaves yet to rake, but we’ve been doing a lot of work outside, especially because the weather has been so nice and the mosquitoes are finally on the wane.  Owen’s back to playing on the porch, and doing things in the yard with sticks, most of which cause me to constantly chorus “Gently!”

A few Sundays ago I also planted tulip bulbs for the first time!  I had three bags of different kinds and I’m hoping that I planted at least a small proportion of them correctly.  We shall see come spring!

This next picture sequence occurred when I found a few of the weed vines attacking some of our lilacs and hydrangeas.  I told Owen, and he stood for awhile and spoke of the incident, troubled:

Susan told me about the following exchange she had with Owen during the day, when while playing with play-doh she cracked one of his plastic cups:

Susan:  Oh no!  I broke your teacup!
Owen:  And I sat here and watched it happen!
Susan:  I’m so sorry, Owen.
Owen:  I forgive you, Nanny.

Owen learned how to play the harmonica the other day and he is actually quite good.  He plays with vigor and flourish and performs little marches and dance moves while he plays.  He likes to go up in the attic and play while Sean plays his guitar up there, and Owen enjoys being bossy about the playing -- telling Sean to play quietly or loudly, or to continue or to stop.

Tomorrow he has his Halloween parade at school and we shall see how it goes!  I hope to get a few pictures!