Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"How many people in this house feel like they have enough friends?" I asked. (A little informal homeschool socialization poll.)

Three out of five family members raised their hands.

Triss smiled and said, "You can never have enough friends, Mom."

Well, duh.

Preparing the Ground

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience. --Luke 8:15

I want to cherish good and honest hearts in my children, rather than encourage them to embrace and succumb to thorns:

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. --Luke 8:14

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


This morning I was reading the section of Volume 5 called, "Consequences." It is about how important it is to be under authority when you are an authority in a child's life, and how very easy it is to become capricious and arbitrary when given power.

In proportion as we keep ourselves fully alive to our tendency in this matter of authority may we trust ourselves to administer the law to creatures so tender in body and soul as are the little children. We shall remember that a word may wound, that a look may strike as a blow. It may indeed be necessary to wound in order to heal, but we shall examine ourselves well before we use the knife. There will be no hasty dealing out of reproof and punishment, reward and praise, according to the manner of mood we are in. We shall not only be aware that our own authority is deputed, and to be used with the meekness of wisdom; but we shall be very careful indeed in our choice of the persons in whose charge we place our children. It is not enough that they be good Christian people. We all know good Christian persons of an arbitrary turn who venture to wield that rod of iron which is safe in the hands of One alone. Let them be good Christian persons of culture and self-knowledge; not the morbid self-knowledge that comes of introspection, but that wider, humbler cognisance of self that comes of a study of the guiding principles and springs of action common to us all as human beings, and which brings with it the certainty that––"I am just such an one as the rest, and might even be as the worst, were it not for the grace of God and careful walking."

She describes childhood memories (of other people) in which a hasty thoughtless word reverberated for decades in the heart of a child. She emphasizes how terrible it is to cause needless pain.

And then she flips it around. She says, yes, that is very wrong, but here is something worse:

"Don't make a fool of the child," was the warning young mothers used to get from their elders. But we have changed all that, and a child's paradise must be prepared for the little feet to walk in. "He's so happy at school" we are told, and we ask no more. We have reversed the old order; it used to be, "If he's good, he will be happy"; now we say, "If he's happy, he will be good." Goodness and happiness are regarded as convertible terms, only we like best to put "happy" as the cause, and "good" as the consequent. And the child brought up on these lines is both happy and good without much moral effort of self-compelling on his own part, while our care is to surround him with happy-making circumstances until he has got into the trick, as it were, of being good.

So, it is terrible to be capricious in the ruling of children, but it is even worse to make life so easy for them that they have little inner struggle to be good, or never realize they must regulate themselves in order to be good.

He must endure hardness if you would make a man of him. Blame as well as praise, tears as well as smiles, are of human nature's daily food; pungent speech is a tool of the tongue not to be altogether eschewed in the building of character; let us call a spade a spade, and the child who brings the wrong book "stupid," whether before strangers or behind them. Much better, this, than a chamber-conference with "Mother" about every trifle, which latter is apt to lead to a habit of morbid introspection.

We are, in truth, between Scylla and Charybdis: on this side, the six-headed, many-toothed monster of our own unbridled love of power; on that, the whirlpool which would engulf the manly virtues of our poor little Ulysses. If we must choose, let it be Scylla rather than Charybdis; better lose something through the monster with the teeth, than lose ourselves in the whirlpool.

There is a story by Mark Twain that illustrates this truth, called "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg". Now, Hadleyburg was a town that had a solid reputation of honesty and uprightness, and the citizenry were extremely proud of this, so proud that they began to put fences around their virtue. "Throughout the formative years temptations were kept out of the way of the young people, so that their honesty could have every chance to harden and solidify, and become a part of their very bone." Finally, after years of this, the citizens of Hadleyburg had the misfortune of offending a bitter, vindictive man, who schemed and thought for an entire year before he came up with a plan so comprehensive that not one member of the town would escape unhurt. You have to go read the story to find out how he did it, but it was very effective. At the end of the story the town changes its motto... no, really, go read the story. I don't want to spoil the ending. But Mark Twain is a master storyteller who gets his point across: protecting children by never allowing them to experience an independent moral decision, never to have "the discipline of failure as well as success," is a mistake. And the story also shows how very insidious idolatry can be.

When I realize that we parents walk between Scylla and Charybdis in our care and discipline of our children, I understand even more how very important prayer is, and I feel so thankful that the Holy Spirit does not rely on me to initiate or maintain a relationship between the Lord and my child. My job, as CM discusses in this chapter, is to govern my children, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, all the while realizing that their angels always behold the face of our Father in Heaven, and being mindful that "the [only] One who is entrusted with the rod of iron is meek and lowly of heart. " May I be likewise meek while leading, and keep my focus on Him.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Seven Weird Things About Me

1. I never liked my nickname, Katie, until well into adulthood. (Now I like it a lot.) Around the age of, oh, I think it was ten or eleven, I even attempted to convince my relatives to call me Kathy. I have one aunt who still reminds me of this when I visit.

2. I like eating ice cream with a scoop of creamy peanut butter. This does not seem weird at all to me, but Mr. Honey says it is.

3. I prefer indexes to tables of contents, and will always check the index first if there is one.

4. I get completely engaged and entranced with performing music or reciting poetry, acting, etc., unless someone else is in the room. Then, despite efforts to the contrary, I get self-conscious and begin to watch myself, and generally make a lot more mistakes. A person's ability to affect me in this way fades as I get to know him or her better and feel accepted and comfortable. It's an insecurity thing. I play some of my best piano pieces when I am alone in the house. Occasionally now, I am able to collect myself and refocus even with strangers in the room, but rarely. I also get flustered in discussion groups when everyone starts listening to me at once. I would rather talk while most folks' focus is elsewhere. The weirdest part about this is that I always have something to say and really feel a need to say it. I guess that's why I like blogging so much. At least I can't see who is "listening."

5. I cannot watch violence or horror in movies or on TV without being adversely affected (mentally) for an extended amount of time. I avoid those kinds of movies like the plague. In the case of movies with violence necessary to the plot, ie., Lord of the Rings, etc., I close my eyes and sometimes even plug my ears so I cannot visualize what is going on. (I think, "Okay, there is a battle right now," so I don't mess up the plot sequencing in my mind, but that's as far as I let myself go.) I had nightmares for a month after watching Poltergeist, my one foray into horror movies. I don't mind reading about violence and horror, though, as long as I remind myself not to visualize it. Sometimes horrible news items will affect me the same way, even if I don't see pictures, because my mind draws the picture before I remember to turn my imagination off.

6. I do not wear shorts, and I mostly wear Keds sneakers, even in the summertime. (I just wore heels two days in a row for the church meeting, and my feet are still letting me know it.)

7. When a word is used over and over in a presentation, I often find myself typing it onto my lap or the table with my fingers. I play repeated musical motifs on a pretend piano when listening to music sometimes as well.

And a bonus~

8. Sometimes I get confused and call mowing the lawn vacuuming. (Hey, they are very similar!)

So now. There it is. Thank you to Lindafay and the DHM and the others I cannot remember who have done this meme. Does anyone else have any weirdness to confess?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Scattered Thoughts

We're back. We drove to Arizona to see Mr. Honey's family. Yes, we saw "Cars" before we went. But we didn't take the I-40/Route 66 road. We went the southern route. It's very similar, but fewer tourist traps. I have several things to share, but I'm very tired, so I am going to jumble them together pell-mell and hope they are understandable.

We did a new thing on this road trip, and it worked pretty well. All of us in our family are voracious readers, and we all take way too many books on car trips. Often our books suffer from being stuffed between seats or underneath them, or even underfoot while in the van. (The worst. I hate that.) And this time we wanted to take our hymnals so we could have some family singing on the way there and back, and there was no way I was going to allow the hymnals to be subjected to such abuse.

So I pulled out a nice-sized, rather shallow box in which to "shelve" the books. It was just big enough to hold one layer of two rows of books with their spines exposed, and the five hymnals stacked one on top of another with spines alternating. Each person was allowed three books out at a time, and every time we stopped for a meal, whoever wanted to rotate their books did so. The hymnals stayed with me any time they were out and we were not singing. It worked very well until I got tired on the trip home and kept forgetting to ask if anyone wanted to rotate books.

I finished a couple of my books. First, the Winston Churchill biography. I have read two Leaders in Action books now, and I think I really like them. I don't agree with everything, but I like the format of telling the story of the person's life in the first part, and then highlighting different leadership principles with anecdotes and quotes from the person in the second part. Very effective, and I do enjoy the intro to original sources.

I also finished Sidetracked Home Executives, and just spent a couple of hours setting up my dailies and weeklies in my file. I hope it will go well. I really like the safety valve on this system. File it and forget it. If I don't get to something, I just note that I didn't get to it and file it to the next day/week/month. Then I can make those jobs priority the next time they come up. Ebb and flow, just like life. I like that. There are some cards called 'personals' where you put things you do for yourself, or out-of-the-house things, or things you just enjoy doing, and those will be the nice rewards we sprinkle throughout. Ah, the idealistic honeymoon days of a new system.

I also finished Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It was very interesting and I am still chewing on it, so do not want to comment yet. I do like the idea of balancing "kitchen service" with "living room intimacy". She talks about the ebb and flow of life too.

And we saw some interesting clouds on our trip. The sky is so big when there aren't many hills or trees. We have had a cloud poster up in our home for the past couple of months, so we were prepared when, in New Mexico, we saw two separate lenticular clouds above two of the rare mountains (Mr. Honey said they were merely hills). Also, the day before we left on our trip, we were coming back from Wal-mart and noticed mammatus clouds above us, indicating "very active cumulonimbus in latter stages of development." Thankfully we got home before the heavens opened up.

I cannot travel in the west without listening at least once to Aaron Copland. We did remember to play him, but not until we were stuck in traffic in Phoenix. It was still somewhat effective.

We listened to Rakkety Tam read by the author and a full cast, complete with music and accents. I have decided I just cannot listen to that kind of thing. The brogues were so thick I couldn't understand what they were saying, especially not over the noise of the van. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, though.

We went to a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the SF Giants while we were on vacation, and Triss caught a home run ball hit by Barry Bonds. Mr. Honey tells me he is about to become the all-time home run hitter in major league baseball history. So I guess she has a little bit of history-in-the-making now. He wouldn't sign it, though. It is his policy not to sign anything. (She didn't actually catch it-- it landed about two yards away from her and she got to it before any of the starstruck young boys with their baseball gloves. Made her quite the momentary celebrity of the cheap seats.)

We also went bowling one morning, and I got a higher score than Mr. Honey. That is the first time I have ever beat him bowling. He is very good at it. For some reason my mind was really communicating with my arm and wrist, and I kept rolling strikes. I only beat him by one point, but still. Like I said, it has never happened before. I think it might have been the peach gummies we got from Cracker Barrel. Yum. They taste so good, they've got to be good for something.

We came home the night before our annual church meeting (a little planning glitch on my part), and so have spent the past few days having glorious singing, and listening to some edifying messages.

Unfortunately, Mr. Honey missed all but one service, as he is sick. I think he has the flu and possibly bronchitis. Cornflower and Triss succumbed as well and missed church this morning. I am not sure what the next few days will look like, but I have a feeling there will be a lot of quiet and some cuddling and hopefully no one else falling sick. Quiet is nice, but I want everyone well.

I appreciate the suggestions about how to get the bookcovers posted in my sidebar. I can tell I am going to have to sit down and really play with the template for a little while before I figure out how to post a list of pictures to the sidebar. Unless some other Blogspot blogger has already figured it out. And wants to share. Hint, hint. I already have a Library Thing account, but I only have two books listed. I need to go to Amazon and figure out what an affiliate is.

I *Like* Being a Sonnet

I came back to find everyone becoming poetic forms, thanks to the lovely Mama Squirrel. I wanted to play, too.

I am the sonnet, never quickly thrilled;
Not prone to overstated gushing praise
Nor yet to seething rants and anger, filled
With overstretched opinions to rephrase;
But on the other hand, not fond of fools,
And thus, not fond of people, on the whole;
And holding to the sound and useful rules,
Not those that seek unjustified control.
I'm balanced, measured, sensible (at least,
I think I am, and usually I'm right);
And when more ostentatious types have ceased,
I'm still around, and doing, still, alright.
In short, I'm calm and rational and stable -
Or, well, I am, as much as I am able.

What Poetry Form Are You?

My secondary form was blank verse.

I am, of course, none other than blank verse.
I don't know where I'm going, yes, quite right;
And when I get there (if I ever do)
I might not recognise it. So? Your point?
Why should I have a destination set?
I'm relatively happy as I am,
And wouldn't want to be forever aimed
Towards some future path or special goal.
It's not to do with laziness, as such.
It's just that one the whole I'd rather not
Be bothered - so I drift contentedly;
An underrated way of life, I find.
What Poetry Form Are You?

Sounds a bit like Pooh Bear, I think. Oh, bother. Or, as my brother says, I was going to say "Oh, bother," but I'm not bothered!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Open Road

Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!

I'm going off-line for a few days. Please don't forget me. I enjoy my 8 bloglines subscribers and one-to-two visitors per hour. I appreciate every last one of you. I mean, if even one person stopped reading, I would lose a quarter of a quarter of my readership. Ack! By the way, has anybody seen my sitemeter? I seem to have misplaced it. I just tidied up the blog and I can't find a thing!

And here are some places to go while I am preoccupied-- a few of my favorite stops on the open road of the blogosphere:

The Beehive is such a relaxing place to visit. Lovely fashions, too.

Beautiful pictures at Bioluminescence.

Much pertinent info shared at Bona Vita Rusticanda Est. (We just had potato chips today, so I think we're prepared for tomorrow. We're good. Yep. Didn't even know it.)

The Common Room is a good place to find a variety of posts-- I like it when the DHM explains things that ought to be common sense, but (for me at least) very often aren't. Ahem.

They are redecorating at Dewey's Treehouse. (I wonder how Uncle Dewey feels about it?)

Cindy gets me thinking over at Dominion Family.

There are plenty of CM techniques to contemplate at Higher Up and Further In.

Book restoration at Take Time To Smell The Coffee. Fascinating!

At U Krakovianki you can find bookish reviews, interrupted by the occasional commercial.

And this is such fun that I will also offer some of my favorite books which happen to be online in their entirety:

Wind in the Willows

Little Women

Jane Eyre


Or~ you could read Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott and then let me know what you think those Scots-folk are saying. I canna mae head na tail o' it~ I canna e'en write it!

So I guess I'll see you later. After the quantity-quality-Pepsi-and-lemon-bars-and-games-fambly-time. And when I find the sitemeter, of course.



Come to me, O ye children!
For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
Have vanished quite away.

Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
And the brooks of morning run.

In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet's flow
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
And the first fall of snow.

Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.

What the leaves are to the forest,
With the light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood,-

That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Then reaches the trunks below.

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and wings are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?

Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Template Updates

I gave in to the new Blogger layout yesterday and made some changes, especially to the sidebar. One of the things I did was to add the books we are each reading. The kids' books listed are only the living books they are using for school. My booklist is the stack of books I have sitting near my bed, or by my chair, or at the dining table-- things I read when I have a few moments, whether for fun or school or just to give me thoughts to think.

Anyway, I like being able to see the covers of books on the booklists I see at other blogs, and I cannot figure out how to do that here. Can anyone point me in the right direction-- give me a website to visit for help or something?


Monday, March 12, 2007

A Poem By Triss

A deep jungle in China
No one has ever been inside
Going softly, a French naturalist
Keeps following a butterfly
Over a valley he sees
Royal forgotten beauty – Angkor

Helpful Diatribe (I Hope)

Mama Squirrel makes a very good point in this post on homeschool curriculum. It reminds me of the DHM's question, "What do you have in your hand?" I think this fits right in with CM's Principle #6: "Education is an Atmosphere."

Many's the time my practicality (and my husband!) would not allow me to purchase bright-and-shiny curriculum at the book fair. We have skipped or put off Ambleside books sometimes because it just wasn't possible or practical for us to acquire them. I don't see anything wrong with that. It is Real Life, and that is the kind of life the children will be required to live as adults. We don't do them any favors by teaching them to expect to have everything that is ideal.

As homeschoolers, we sometimes feel so driven to provide the best possible education simply because we are the mavericks, making our own way in the educational world, and we feel we have something to prove. The possibility of failure can be very scary to us. Almost none of us have done this before, or even been raised this way. It is untested ground. What if we fail? It is our kids' future we are messing with. This can cause a lot of insecurity and, as Americans, often we think the solution to that insecurity is to purchase something new.

Please don't think I am condemning anyone. The reason I know this stuff is because I *live* it. I talk myself down from trees all the time: "It's going to be all right. The Lord is watching your back. Just keep going and pray a lot. Don't worry about what has happened in the past. Don't worry about how you will educate them in the future. Just look at now and ask the Lord for help."

The DHM's "What do you have in your hand?" has been very comforting to me on more than one occasion. It is what you do with what you have that matters.

All of this reminds me of a conversation I had with the cashier at Half Price Books the other night. I was using my educator's discount to buy books for a trip we are taking and the cashier, making conversation, said, "Oh, you're a teacher?"

It is an idiosyncrasy of mine to be scrupulously honest, so I said, "Well, we homeschool."

He said, "Really? Have you been to the new home educator's store down the way?"

"Not yet."

"You should go, they would probably have lots of useful stuff for you there."

I thought he was very nice to want to guide me to a good place to shop. "Well-- we don't use a lot of curriculum."

He looked at me funny and continued working on my books. Then he said, "If you don't mind me asking, what do you use if you don't use curriculum?"

"Well, we use a lot of classic literature..."

"But how do you teach things like history, and science?"

I found it ironic that he asked specifically about history, as we were purchasing, among other things, an audiobook of The Iliad. I replied, "There is a lot of history in classic literature; and you can learn quite a bit about science by being observant."

"Well, I guess you're right," he said.

He was very well-mannered. I did not feel his questions were an imposition, so I let him know that eventually, especially in math and science, we do branch out into curriculums, but that my oldest is just at the beginning of middle school. He was interested and thanked me for the conversation.

I do some funny things to avoid the temptation of purchasing too much in the way of books/curriculum. One thing is to pretend the book fairs/bookstores/educational stores are museums rather than places to purchase things. (I don't always do this, but when I do, I save a lot of money!) Another game I play when I see something I think we definitely must have is to list in my mind the things we already have at home that can meet the need. Very often the game is short-- I list, "Internet" and stop! That has kept me from purchasing oodles of pencil-and-paper games and encyclopedia-like resources.

The most effective strategy, however, is not going at all. I rarely look at catalogs or online stores, unless I need something specific. There is just so much good stuff out there that before I know it, my Will has embraced a wrong idea, and my Reason has raced to provide those "irrefragible proofs" it is so good at finding. It is better for my peace of mind and our pocketbook if I become a virtual ostrich where new materials are concerned. I read the CM books* to figure out what exactly we need for learning, and then I go out and find it. Like I tell the telemarketers who call us, if I need something I will seek it out-- I don't want it to come to me before I have considered whether it is necessary or not! I am too much like the citizens of River City when it comes to smooth talk and slick packaging, and must protect myself.

*Very often in my reading, I discover that what we need for learning is a mother with a different perspective or attitude, or broader vision. That cannot be purchased, but must be developed with much thought and prayer. It is not helped by good salesmanship, and is especially not helped by the sort of salesmanship that preys on believers' expectation of guidance by the Holy Spirit. (This is a big pet peeve of mine.) Just because something is placed before me does not mean it is of the Lord. He expects us to use the minds He gave us to test the resources we are considering. I am reminded of the story Dave Ramsey tells in his Financial Peace University literature, about a young couple who were struggling to make payments on a car much too expensive for their budget. When he told them the car had to go, they remonstrated, "But the salesman said the Lord must be providing us this car! He said it was a miracle we were approved for this much credit!" No, no, no.

Well, this has been kind of a long diatribe. Maybe it will keep me out of trouble now that book fair season is approaching. ;o)

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I was reading some of the third section of CM's Volume 1 tonight on geography in the younger years(p. 72-78) and here are my two favorite quotes, posted to the blog so I don't lose them somewhere.

"He will soon come across the difficulty, that a place is not exactly east or west, north or south. It is well to let him give, in a round-about way, the direction of places as--'more to the east than the west, 'very near the east but not quite,' 'half-way between east and west.' He will value the exact means of expression all the more for having felt the need of them."

I like this. She is reminding us to allow things to go unsaid at times in order to stimulate our students' appetite for knowledge, rather than dulling it with too frequent lectures. This makes me think of one of Mr. Honey's favorite sayings: "let the game come to you".

"Does so wide a programme alarm the mother? Does she with dismay see herself talking through the whole of those five or six hours, and, even at that, not getting through a tithe of the teaching laid out for her? On the contrary, the less she says the better; and as for the quantity of educational work to be got through, it is the fable of the anxious pendulum over again: it is true there are countless 'ticks' to be ticked, but there will be always be a second of time to tick in, and no more than a single tick is to be delivered in any given second."

And here she reassures us again that too much talk is not to be desired, and that a journey begins (and progresses) by single steps, wisely spaced. She was so smart.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Few Things

First, I just realized that my blog comments have not been hitting my email for, oh, at least a week. I just noticed several comments I didn't even know were there! I am going to see if I can fix that, but I wanted folks to know that if you commented and it appears I did not take notice, it is because I didn't. But I would like to.

Second, for everyone who is anxious about the fresh-air to indoor-living ratio at our house, you will be relieved to note that the clouds parted long enough for us to have Friday in the Park with Will yesterday. And a jolly time we had, too.

Third, for all CMers who are wondering when I am going to give up my (non-CM) position of facts being the pegs on which ideas are hung upon, I would just like to say that transformation is taking place currently, and you can thank the history of the English Civil War for it. I am now beginning to see for myself how ideas are the pegs that facts hang upon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's A Foggy Day In La-La Land

I woke up this morning very, very groggy. I had a lovely chocolate malt on our way home yesterday, and I think all the sugar has put me in a stupor. I. Just. Can't. Think. This. Morning.

And it's raining. I heard the rain this morning when the alarm went off and wondered (groggily) if the girls had brought in everything not rain-proof from their tent-fort in the back yard. I got up every ten minutes for an hour to hit the snooze and look out the window, but I could not distinguish anything beyond lawn chairs, a couple of plastic bowls and an outdoor rug.

And today is Friday in the Park with Will. But alas, it is raining. And it's a foggy day in the La-La Land of Mommy Brain. So I will simply have to blog about it.

Mariel started Shakespeare with us last week, and as we are not out in the open air enough, we decided to read A Midsummer Night's Dream out in the open each week, after a refreshing picnic and run around a park, or a field, or a path with large rocks, or whatever.

So last week we did the first scene, lying on our Thai picnic mat at the park, while Cornflower ran up and down the playset. It was fun!

And today it's raining. And there is a fog in my brain, so I need some help. I must come up with an Alternative Indoor Fun Shakespeare Idea for Scene Two by lunchtime. Preferably something that will make Cornflower feel like she is a part of things, which was the third reason we decided a park would be the best place for Shakespeare this term.

Ooh, ooh! Light dawns on Marble Head! How about a Shakespeare Tea, with Cornflower being the waitress at Cornflower's Restaurant? (Cornflower delights in serving teas and snacks and meals and desserts and coffee and hot chocolate, ever since I took the advice of Queen Shenaynay and allowed Morning Snack Time to become Cornflower's Domain.)

Okay, thanks guys. You've been a big help.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Goldbug Would Never Do That!

There we were, driving down the highway on our way to a dental appointment. It was one of those days when the trucks bore down on the traffic and slowed it to a crawl. In front of us was a large touring bus; to the side a couple of ancient, dirty dump trucks.

We travelled in the middle lane, seeking the likeliest trickle of vehicles as we inched along. The left lane narrowed, coming to an end a few hundred yards ahead.

But wait! What was that? A beautiful little convertible sports car overtook and passed us on the left, narrowly missing the orange cones as it sliced just ahead of us. Who was that?

"That must be... Maniacbug*!" Triss announced ominously.

Maniacbug cooled his heels between our van and the touring bus. He was trapped like the little spiders we catch in our house in the summertime, unable to make any significant movements under the clear plastic cup. He craned his neck, then straddled the center line, provoking Triss to remark:

"It can't be Goldbug. Goldbug would never do that!"

He came back to the lane, then straddled the left line and the shoulder, coming back within bounds just in time to avoid more orange cones.

We paused at a light. Maniacbug took out his cell phone and proceeded to punch buttons.

The light turned green. But Maniacbug was absorbed in his buttons. So we sat.

The old dump trucks turned right, and suddenly he saw his chance. Straddling the center line again, he paused to consider, then...


Out and around and in front of the bus. Past the cars ahead and back to the right lane. And he was gone.

"After him, Officer Flossy! Go get Dingo!"

But alas, there was no Officer Flossy, and no pedestrian-spilled nails on the roadway either. Dingo Dog, aka Maniacbug, had escaped. We can only hope that Flossy was hiding in the grass a mile or two down the road and was able to, er, arrest Dingo's progress before he caused an accident. We made it to the dentist office safely and on time.

*(Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For My Husband

My housekeeping skills have not been shining through for the last few months, and our home is beginning to develop piles. This bothers me a great deal. I have also been organizing things for the last few weeks, and that results in piles as well, because I have been forgetting to make time to do something with the things I pull out of the neatly organized drawer or closet. Mr. Honey, bless his heart, has not really said anything about it beyond, "Uh, do you think we could keep the hamper clear of stuff so I can put my dirty clothes in it?" I have seen him grit his teeth a few times as he walked into a dishevelled room, like he was trying to forbear in love but it wasn't easy.

Why all this self-disclosure? Well, I learned something last night. I am sure most of you already know this, but it was a pretty big breakthrough for me.

I learned something about manhood.

I sat down with Mr. Honey after the kids went to bed last night and talked to him about the house. I told him that I had noticed he wasn't comfortable with the level of tidiness and that I was sorry. He said it was all right, he knew I had a lot on my plate. I said that I wasn't comfortable with it either, and that I am trying to find a way to get it all done and remain relaxed, but I haven't figured it out yet. He said that he has a rough time relaxing at home when there are so many piles.

So what did I learn?

Two things. One, that it really does bother him, but he is not going to throw that in my face. Two, and this is the biggie, that he is not going to make a big deal of it because he is a real man.

Real men take up the slack. Real men don't flinch or whine when they are given additional burdens. Real men soldier on.

What I had always counted a weakness, I realized last night is actually a strength. He is a noble man. He will take the brunt of whatever happens for his family, for as long as necessary.

I do not want him to shoulder unnecessary burdens. He has enough already.

So what does my house look like today? It's still a mess. I just couldn't get it all done. I know he is not going to berate or belittle me for that. He won't even mention it. But cleaning just went a lot higher on my list of priorities, because it helps him. And I want to help him.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Diversion

(Updated to note: A strange thing, but for some reason the bold I used to highlight books read has gone all the way through the post if you look through an RSS feed. In that case, the books I have read havea number to the right.)

Well, Triss and I have been grappling with big ideas lately-- virtue, magnanimity, socialization-- and both of us are in need of a diversion. Hers is a Redwall book. I thought I would see how many of these BBC Top 100 Books I have read. I enjoyed seeing the Headmistress', Cindy's and Mama Squirrel's lists. I also enjoyed the true confession time on Dominion Family, but I came to the post late and decided not to comment. Just for the record, I absolutely abhorred Wuthering Heights. Could not see the point in it except madness, despair and death. Yuck.

I will bold the ones I have read and italicize the ones I want to read. The numbers to the right of the bolded titles are me counting how many books on this list that I've read. (Look at me counting, look at me counting, Pooh!)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 1

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 2

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (This was the first hard book I read by choice. I started at the beginning five or six times, getting a little further into the book each time before I gave up. I finally got all the way through it when I was in college.) 3

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 4

6 The Bible
(I have never made it completely through, every word, but I am still going to count it.) 5

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 6

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (I can't remember if I have actually read it or not. Isn't that awful? I think I might have read it in high school or college, but there is a good possibility I only heard about the storyline.)

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (This book was my constant companion when I was a teen.) 7

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller 8

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (not completely-- I have read Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, and we just started A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think that's it.)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 9

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (I really, really, really like this book. It's so different from your average romance novel. So much to think about. I like reading George Eliot. Silas Marner was great. I couldn't get into Romola, though.)10

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 11

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 12

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens (This is another one I am not sure if I read or not. The book I'm thinking of may be a different one by Nathaniel Hawthorne.)

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 13

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 14

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
(I probably read this ten to fifteen times in middle school. Drove Dad crazy how many times I would reread my favorites. He finally went out to the bookstore one day and came home with a bag full of classics to encourage me to read new things.) 15

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 16

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (I only just learned how to pronounce the title last year. And kept Mr. Honey in stitches until I got it through my thick skull that it is An' na Ka-re'-ni-na and not An'-na Ka-re-nee'-na. Ahem.)

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 17

34 Emma - Jane Austen
(My favorite Jane Austen. Mr. Knightley. Need I say more?) 18

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 19

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis 20

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 21

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 22

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 23

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 24

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood 25

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 26

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 27

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (Remind me to tell you about the time I was in an original Nashville dinner theater musical called The Miserable Ones of the Tale of Two Cities-- the music of Les Miz and the plot of A Tale of Two Cities. I got to be Lucie Manette. In a hoopskirt and corkscrew curls. It was fun.) 28

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 29

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I never would have sought this author out, but I had some sort of South American literature class in college and read two of his books, and a couple other books by South American authors that were very hard for me to get through at the age of eighteen. I had a Bible-as-Literature class on the New Testament also. The teacher was a non-believer. Not fun. I had a very good pastor who helped me through it.) 30

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Again, I may have read this in college, but possibly not. I went through a Steinbeck phase, very shortlived. I know I read Travels with Charley and Grapes of Wrath, and possibly one other.)

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (I have always been curious about this book since I heard about the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. I don't really want to read Lolita, but I feel like it is probably a prerequisite to reading the other.)

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
(Triss and I started this last year, were enjoying it, but never finished it.)

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray 31

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 32

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 33

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White 34

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Mr. Honey and I are big Sherlock Holmes fans. We even listened to the old Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce radio shows as we drove across country on our honeymoon.) 35

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 36

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 37

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (My first foray into Shakespearian tragedy. It was hard.) 38

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 39

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 40