Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Best Way to Start Any December

The First Noel by Over the Rhine on Huffduffer
Over the Rhine, The First Noel

Giving Thanks in Seattle

I wish I could share all the takes that came before and after this photo-- all the result of propping the camera on a shelf, pressing the timer, and then running. Some have eyes closed, some have people squatting way lower than their actual height, others have fake smiles in denial of fatigue, my favorites have a few faces about to pop from holding in laughter. None of them are perfect, but all of them contain the faces of a delightful group that I get to call family. We live in three different regions of the country, but we were able to come together in Seattle this year. It was a very good Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marilynne Robinson

Not long after a friend suggested I read Gilead, Marilynne Robinson became one of my favorite American authors. One day, I'd like to write about her in more detail, but for now I will direct you here, to the words of A.O. Scott who reviewed her book Home for the New York Times just a little over a year ago. It seemed an appropriate read as we prepare to enter this week of Thanksgiving.

Thanks for Thanksgiving

It's been awhile since I've included a children's book in this catalogue, but this week I've been reminded of my love for this one. We bought it 3 years ago while living on Martha's Vineyard, and though no particular setting is suggested, it might as well be the Vineyard. The rustic home, the casual dress, the free spirits, the embracing of the elements, it all could have been lifted from some home at the end of any gravel path on Lamberts Cove Road. Marke's simple statements and Barrette's rich illustrations are refreshing. I try to keep it out or on the top of Olivia's book pile so that I'm given an excuse to read it to her at least once a day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moans and Groans

We're down to one car this week. This has added a little craziness to our morning routine as we all bundle up, coats over PJ's, to pack in the car and deliver Brett to his work. He would bike, but our tire pump ran away after it was transformed into a robot with an air-blowing leg (as seen here).
So each morning has required at least one member of the family to wait, and it's usually Olivia. This morning she stood ready by the door, hand on knob, while I guided Mae's wriggling arms into her oversized puffy coat and Brett collected his papers.
Olivia: "I don't like to wait."
Me: "Well, it' an important skill you'll get to practice your whole life."
Olivia: "Why?"
Me: "We just have to wait a lot. Like waiting in lines, waiting for the mail, waiting for birthdays..."
Olivia: "Like waiting for heaven?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All I Want for Christmas... one of these. Unbelievable.

Pictorial Webster's: Inspiration to Completion from John Carrera on Vimeo.

Be sure to take note of the baby. He probably gets a free copy just for putting up with the whole process. Lucky kid.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Practically Perfect In Every Way

Some of you already know this, but I was raised by Mary Poppins. It's true. And I'm so grateful that she occasionally descends upon our house to work some of her magic on my family.


My friend Jenn and I are holding each other to some blog goals for the month of November. She's writing every day, I'm getting away with just twice a week, but the first week ends in a few hours so I've got some work to do.
November welcomed us with a nice case of "The Flu Which Shall Not Be Named," or so two doctors tell us. So, with the exception of trips to the clinic, the ER, the drug store, and the university (just twice, to teach my class), we've been under a self-imposed quarantine all week.
I did make a quick trip to the library midweek, but that was a mistake. Olivia wanted a couple of DVD's and I had an election yard sign to return. It was actually our first ever election yard sign-- for a library levy. When I'd initially picked it up, the person handing them out had asked that I return it to the library after November 3rd, when the election was over. Being quarantined, I've really had no concept of days, so I pulled the sign out of our yard ON election day and then walked into the library, practically waving it and completely oblivious to the fact that I'd just walked into a voting area holding my large campaign sign. An election official kindly asked me to return the sign to my car, as I had certainly stepped well into the "no campaigning" zone. I was happy to oblige and even happier to get back to the safety of my germ-infested home.
I wish I could say I got stir crazy this past week. There were certainly times, but what the week actually did was make me want to stay home even more. I think I've become a very content home body. I love our home, even when it's wild and crazy with two sick little girls hopped up on meds. It's comfortable, it's cozy, its got some good views, and lots of live entertainment. It feels safe. After the fevers broke, I decided to give each girl 24 hours before letting them re-enter the world. Then I decided they probably could do with 24 more hours after that. Finally last night, we ventured out to a playground and then a Subway for dinner. But there was lots of sanitizing throughout the evening and a number of choppy reminders, "Liv, don't lean on the glass case- it has other people's germs."
We might venture to church tomorrow, Olivia will probably go to preschool on Monday, but each excursion will be with hesitation on my part. I don't want another afternoon spent holding my fevered child in my lap while she coughs behind a flimsy face mask, a mask that came from the same box as the 12 other face masks being adorned by sick people in the waiting room. I don't want another morning spent rocking my lethargic baby who isn't sleeping, but doesn't have the energy to open her eyes. She would have cried except that the coughing and the crying hurt her throat too much. So the warm tears from the closed eyes would just trickle onto my shirt sleeve. I don't want anything out "there" to inflict this kind of pain on my daughters ever again. I could make a fairly convincing argument that everything they need can be given to them in this house, by me and my husband, and that it's my parental duty to protect them from all those contaminants out there. It's very tempting, this kind of control, this kind of power.
But we're sick too. They probably got this most recent bug from us. We're coughing and inhaling the same germs they are. Extended isolation is a bad idea. A lot happened out there this week, and we missed it. There were elections, there was a world series, some birthdays and battles, some conflicts and conversations, lots and lots of sickness, but lots and lots of healing as well. So we've got to chance it. We have to put them out there to mingle with the world, to spread and share "germs". I'm convinced that, in the long run, they'll be healthier for it. But no doubt I'll always fight, and not always resist, the urge to impose another quarantine every now and then.