Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Writer Workshop: Dragons and Hobbits

Today the kids did freewrites on different kinds of evenings, and then went to work on their dragon/hobbit compositions. (I let Cornflower play in her room while we worked.) Triss is about finished with her dragon composition. She is going to write the final draft tomorrow, and then post it to her blog.

Mariel continued to add material to her composition on hobbits. I think it will turn out to be a general paper of information and anecdotes. I am going to have her write subtitles for each paragraph tomorrow, and see if we can narrow things down a bit. The part she added today was written in the person of a hobbit girl, so we also need to figure out if she wants to write the whole thing as a hobbit or as herself. :O)

I thought they would be tired of working on the same papers-- after all, it's been over a week since they began these. But they went to work with a will this morning. After the workshop, Triss did ask whether I ever wrote so much on a subject that I was ready to just give it a rest for awhile, and I told her I knew the feeling!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Writer Workshop: Morphing

Today, Triss and Mariel wrote freewrites and then worked on their hobbit/dragon compositions. Mariel's is kind of morphing into something different than what she started with-- she keeps adding details, and we are going to "narrow and expand" tomorrow. It looks like, rather than an expository piece on hobbits in general, she will have a narrative involving Bilbo Baggins and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Or it could go an entirely different direction-- she doesn't act like she is done generating material yet.

Triss is working on her conclusion and then I am going to have her edit her piece, using a list of things to watch for. I think her composition is funny.

Cornflower sat at the table with us and went through her library books, making notes on 3x5 cards for her science project. She discovered today that she can discard three of the library books as not containing information useful to her, and she collected four facts, carefully writing the book name, author and page number on each card.

Here is Triss' freewrite from today:

Outside, the rain looks like slim little arrows shooting down from a sky that doesn't look cloudy. It simply looks asa if a blue sky had turned a cool, pearly color with tinges of blue and pink-- very faint tinges. That sounds beautiful, but the sky really looks sad. Kind of expectant but hopeless, as though it's waiting for something that it truly doesn't think will come. It's the sky that looks sad, not the rain. The little silver arrows look happy and exuberant, with their points aimed at a certain spot and the rest shooting through the air at it. The raindrops don't look like tears at all, unless they hit the windows and become round and flat and shapeless. It's as if the sky is hurling its tiny darts in battle and waiting for an ally that it thinks will never arrive to help. The word for rain is "lanta"*. I don't know the Elvish for it, or the Spanish, or the Latin. At least, I can't thinnk of them just now. The word "lanta" is Leavan, and I like how slim and straight the word looks, like the little rain-arrows, and the gentle slanting flow it implies when the storm is in its last part. I can''t seem to spell today, but I like the word "lanta" and I like what it means, and I wish I was sitting out there to write, feeling the slim rain-arrows strike me and flatten, rolling gently down my face like my own tears, and watching them land on this paper, on one of the scribbles, and wash the ink into a little rain-pool with themselves.

*This is the word for rain in the language she has made up to go with one of her stories.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Writer Workshop: Revising

Update: I realized this morning that I haven't mentioned the resource I am using to guide the workshop. It is The Writer's Jungle by Julie Bogart.

Yesterday I gave the girls a choice of which freewrite they wanted to focus and expand.

We are getting into a regular habit of freewriting for ten minutes at the beginning of the hour, and using the rest of the hour to work on existing compositions they want to improve. I let them pick from a list they made at the beginning of the week, or give them the option of taking my suggestion. I think once we start back in the fall, I will have a day of freewriting for each of the subjects: History/Geography, Science/Nature, Fine Arts, Literature/Poetry, and Bible. They will have the option of journaling instead, and I'll have them make lists of things they know about in each subject, in order to have something to choose from. But they will have to write consistently in all the subjects as well as journaling. (I think I'll have to have a little chart to keep track of it. Oh joy! I get to make a little chart. I love little charts. They make you look so productive.)

Why am I spending time on writing in the summer, you ask? Well, I have really been a meanie about writing skills this year. I want to repair writer/instructor relationships and build an atmosphere of acceptance and goodwill around the writing workshop while I am in summer mode, so the kids will already be comfortable with it come fall.

And they are enjoying it, I think. Mariel is revising a report about hobbits, and Triss is working on a description of dragons. These are their own topics. I would be stressing out about them neglecting to write on historic figures or scientific processes if it were the school time. They have always resisted revisions, but they are now voluntarily researching and spending time every day rewriting compositions, and they look forward to the writing workshop every day. They are receptive to my ideas, and I think this will carry over into the writing on school subjects. I have got something here, I can feel it.

Writers are funny creatures. They have put some of themselves on paper and it hurts when you poke it wrong. I'm learning to poke properly, so my writers will come out and play with words and grow stronger.

Less is Sometimes More

This morning, Cornflower told me that she likes our lightened summer reading schedule because she has more time to play, and remembers more.

"You remember more from what we read?" I asked.

"Yeah," she replied. "During regular school, sometimes you're cramming stuff in my head so fast, it just swirls around in there."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Writer Workshop: Freewrites

Today we focused on freewriting. First I had the kids take ten minutes to list things they felt they knew a lot about. Mariel mainly listed people (real and imaginary), while Triss listed specifics such as "how frustrating it is to have been born in different century than the one you wish you had been born in" and "The miracle that is a blade of grass". Cornflower, who wanted to get in on the action today, listed a wide variety of things, including school subjects, which her sisters studiously avoided listing.

After sharing their lists, I had Triss and Mariel select one thing to write on for fifteen minutes. Mariel wrote a sweet freewrite about her best friend and Triss wrote that she would have preferred living in the Middle Ages, with an entertaining tangent discussing what exactly the person meant who said, "The pen is mightier than the sword."

Cornflower also did the Keen Observation exercise since she didn't work with us yesterday. She described a plastic canoe from a Cowboys and Indians set Mariel bought in San Antonio.

Last of all, we read everything aloud and offered comments. I made the rule that if anyone had a criticism of her sister's work, it must be sandwiched between two compliments, and in that way we were able to discuss without hurt feelings.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Keen Observation Exercise

Triss, Mariel and I are having a writing workshop at home for the next couple of weeks or so. Today I had them do the Keen Observation exercises from The Writer's Jungle (my job is to be their writing ally and not freak when they make mistakes and act silly-- those of you who know me irl understand how much of a challenge this is).

Triss delighted in describing a bottle of bubbles. Mariel chose to explain a cantaloupe, going all tactile and kinesthetic on me, and filling a page (front and back) and a half with her observations.

I didn't think we needed to do the Keen Observation exercise because we already do so much narration, but now I think it was worth it. I just can't believe how much Mariel enjoyed that cantaloupe.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Homeschooler's Response to Recent Articles on Homeschooling

Some recent articles on homeschooling show a shocking lack of exposure to the homeschooling community. Here is my response to one article. From what I see, our family's results are the norm where homeschooling is concerned. In fact, I think we could do better than this. I think most families who put their minds to it could homeschool-- or afterschool-- with success.

Update: Well, I think I may have put my foot in it. I need to qualify my previous statement. When I said "put their minds to it", I meant that educating kids this way with success will require a significant shift in paradigm for most of us. I know it did in my case-- in fact, my paradigm is still being shifted as we head into the high school years.

I mainly used Triss as an example in this note because she is our kid that is the most 'finished' in terms of education, although I don't consider any of us finished getting an education, including myself.

Dear Sir,

As a mother who has homeschooled her three children from the beginning (my oldest is almost fifteen), I take issue with the lack of proof you provide. I have not done a scientific study on homeschooling-- from reading your post, I see you have not either-- but can share my own experience.

Cost: We are not wealthy-- we land just above the median income for our state-- and yet are able to provide an excellent learning environment for our children. All of my kids read above grade level, play musical instruments (two of my kids play multiple instruments), sing, act, write stories for fun, enjoy nature, like swimming and gymnastics and calisthenics, and do well on standardized tests. I provide for the kids' outside classes by teaching piano in my home (either bartering classes for lessons or using my income to pay for classes). As you can see, homeschooling on a shoestring has not hampered our learning environment.

Time: It does take a lot of time to educate children, but our family has chosen to do this with our time. If I weren't teaching the kids, I might be out in the workforce-- yes, even teaching other people's kids. I might be doing the same thing for a living, and then coming home at the end of the day needing time to decompress and reconnect with my family-- and might be obligated to spend that time helping them with homework rather than connecting on a personal level-- having to fix supper and keep up with laundry on top of being gone all day. Since I am home for at least half of almost every day, I am able to integrate housekeeping into my teaching day-- not to mention having three great helpers! Sounds like an advantage to me!

Parents inability to instruct: Despite my lack of a college degree, my kids are getting a good education, even to the point of being competitive with their public-schooled peers. My oldest competes (and places) in regional science fairs with middle school students from private and public schools across our metro area, and has even participated in the state competition. She has been recognized by a couple of scientific societies not affiliated with homeschooling, and has already been invited by a college to consider its science program when she moves on to higher education. This despite the fact that my background is in music and not science. DH's background is theater arts. Go figure.

You also wrote, "Most of the time, there is not a set routine." I would be embarrassed to put such a statement into an article without providing statistics, or at least anecdotal examples. In our case, we do have a set routine, and, even more importantly, my husband and I have firm expectations where the kids' work is concerned. They are given assignments and trusted to carry them out, and experience negative consequences if those assignments are not completed. This is remarkably similar to how things work in the 'real world'.

Lack of contact with other children (learning how to socialize): My kids have contact with other kids every day of the week-- through outside classes, church and playing in the neighborhood. Yes, they have even been teased and bullied. I am thankful for their attitude when neighbor kids make fun of them-- they laugh! Laugh. And invite the kids to play, diffusing the situation. (Sometimes the other kids want to play and become friends. Other times they are nonplussed and leave.) My kids do not get uptight about fads and trying to be like all the other kids, but they do enjoy other kids. This attitude is prevalent among the homeschooled kids I know (and I know more than five homeschooled kids).

Lack of interpersonal and communication skills: As I pointed out above, the kids are involved in a number of outside activities. In fact, my oldest has been invited several times to assist in teaching and day camp situations because she is so good with children. Other kids enjoy playing with my kids because of their creativity and easygoing natures. Grown-ups like my kids because they are polite and respectful. As the girls get older, I find they are wanted everywhere. They are able to communicate through both writing and speaking, and are not shy about saying what they think.

Lack of mentors: As my kids get older they are forming relationships with other adults independent of mine and my husband's relationships. My oldest has friendships with her acting teacher, a mom in the neighborhood she babysits for, her Girl Scout leaders, and her Spanish teacher, as well as numerous other adults (family, church friends) she can confide in. Several of our church friends are teachers in the public schools, and one is a counselor, and they all provide support for us. We are also members of the local homeschool support group and belong to online communities, which involve both kids and parents.

Being overprotected from the real world: We have chosen to expose our children to the ills and ideas of this world gradually, first through carefully selected books and experiences, and eventually broadening into full knowledge. At age fourteen, my oldest has had both tutoring and classroom experiences, is exposed to current events, has an opinion on many of the questions of the day, has stood up to bullies, has been involved in public service projects, volunteered at the public library, co-taught classes (of mostly public schooled students), given public speeches (once to a group of more than one hundred adults and children), and been subjected to adjudication of her work by independent panels of judges (once in oral interview form).

As you can see, our homeschooling situation is quite different from what you describe, although I concede that we are only one family, and are not finished with our homeschooling "experiment". I recommend you review the scientific method and do more research before making assertions like the ones above. Obviously, your sampling of homeschoolers is too small.

Friday, June 12, 2009


...to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup! It's been too long.

We got married only two months after the Penguins' last Stanley Cup title in 1992. One of the first gifts I ever gave Mr. Honey was a Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt. I remember purchasing it at the Rivergate Mall in Nashville our first year of marriage. (I wanted to get him a jersey, but it was way too expensive for broke newlyweds.) Here's to you and your Penguins, Mr. Honey. They made it back.

Soon they will have another one to display...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Enchilada Guts

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of finely diced red onion and 4 cloves of garlic, minced. Saute until the onion is translucent. Add 1 1/2 cups of leftover pearled barley and 1 1/2 cups of leftover pinto beans (with pot liquor), 1 cup frozen corn, 1 1/2 cups diced tomato, 3 tablespoons taco sauce, cumin, salt and white pepper. Cook over medium heat until it bubbles. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for around ten minutes. Melt cheese over the top. Serve over lettuce with a dollop of sour cream. Yum.

(Credit for the recipe name goes to Mariel Mr. Honey.)

Of a Storm

Halfway to church last night, the weather person on the radio informed us that there was a tornado warning for our county.

Light clouds overhead got heavier and thicker as we drove. We got off the freeway and headed west, and the horizon took on a green aspect, punctuated by lightning.

The sky was beginning to churn when we arrived at church.

Mariel and Cornflower ran inside, eager to play with friends, but I was drawn to a portion of cloud with wisps hanging down. Rather small in diameter, it seemed to be forming a dent in the cloud cover, and I could see the forefront drift to the right, while the background slowly moved to the left. Like a dream, it was.

“Triss, come here. Triss, come here!” I blurted, anxious to have someone verify what I thought I was seeing.

The breach in the clouds was widening. We watched as it moved toward us, rotating and enlarging. It was over the building next door to our church. My friend A came toward us.

“Do you see the rotation?” I asked.

“Oh, wow,” she said.

“What do you think? Should we let the others know?” I still wasn’t sure whether to trust my eyes. I had never seen rotation form in the clouds before.

“Maybe. Where do you think is the safest place in the church?”

Sirens sounded.

“I was thinking the cry room. It doesn’t have outside walls. Kids, go inside!”

My kids and hers had gone through the church building and out into the fenced area, and were playing on the playground.

“Why? What is it? What’s that noise?” they called, as they moved to obey.

“We don’t know. It’s a storm and we need to get inside. Those are tornado sirens.”

We went into the building and informed the other adults, who immediately went outside to see. I did too. I could hardly keep my eyes off the now huge gap directly above us. As we stood watching, my parents drove up.

“Get over here!” we shouted.

We all stood under the porte-cochere and watched the clouds. Truly a breach in the darkness by now, the slow rotation was almost directly above us. We had to step out from under the roof to view the entire thing at once. I thought it was odd that the wind did not blow.

Bigger and bigger it got, until one of the deacons remarked that we were doing the wrong thing standing out here watching. I came to myself and realized my children were next to me.

“Okay kids, let’s go inside,” I said briskly.

Groans, mutterings. I was insistent.

My friend A gathered her children as well, and, except for her husband and mine, the congregation moved inside.

We were behind closed doors, but couldn’t keep ourselves from the windows, and witnessed the wind becoming fierce and strong, catching and whirling small debris. The men were still out there. Surprisingly, four birds attempted to fly past, their way impeded by the forceful gusts which kept them in place as they flew.

“Mom, you know those pictures of hurricanes?” Mariel asked.

“Okay, into the cry room!” I ordered, as the lights went out.

“Where am I?” A's daughter shouted.

“It’s okay, you’re in the same place you were when the lights were on,” I reminded her. The lights popped back on.

We waited in the cry room, wondering what was happening. The lights flickered off and then on again. A brought us a candle. We couldn’t even hear anything. I sent Triss out of the room for an update and asked the kids what they did that day. We had a pleasant conversation about guitars, punctuated by the flickering lights. The men had come inside and were phoning members to ask them to stay home. A’s husband had been nearly blown off his feet by the wind.

A kept in communication with her mother, who was from out of town, and was in the storm trying to find her way back to the church. Every turn A advised her to take was blocked by debris—fallen trees, telephone lines. Finally, A went out to guide her back.

The event subsided into heavy rain, thunder and lightning. We wandered out of the cry room to look out windows again. The children grabbed songbooks. They wanted to sing, “Master, The Tempest Is Raging”. It was good to be in the Lord’s house. Another family arrived safely, having been halfway to church when the storm hit. We went through the song service and began the lesson. A and her mother walked in.

(The lesson was a comparison of the character of Abigail and the character of Nabal. The elder especially emphasized the hard life Abigail had being unequally yoked to a “son of Belial”. I always appreciate someone besides me pointing out to the children how important are the choices we make in life. I suspect Abigail’s was an arranged marriage, but since we don’t really do those anymore—and I don’t think we should—marriage really is about choices. And what an admirable woman she was, subject to an abusive husband and still able to think outside herself to save her household from destruction and even the future king of Israel from grief.)

As we drove home after church, we surveyed the damage in the immediate neighborhood, taking a route least likely to be blocked. Many fences were down and trees uprooted or snapped off at the trunk. A power line and a large tree had fallen across a major city road. One tree was resting atop a pick-up truck.

We arrived home and turned on the news. As we watched, we heard something in the backyard. It was our neighbor, who had chased his dog through a gap in the fence. One portion fell down in the wind. We have a little repair work to do-- along with friends and neighbors across the area, who have fences down and shingles lost. I hear our local home improvement store has already been slammed with customers needing fence supplies. It could have been a lot worse. Across the entire metro area, I know of only two homes that had major damage, and three semi-trucks tipped over by the winds. I haven’t heard any report of injuries.

An event like this reminds me how small we are, how little, for all our brave ideas of government and progress, we actually control things. I am glad to put my trust in the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who knows all things and has power over all.

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?


The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.


Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O bless├Ęd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

--Mary A. Baker, 1874

Monday, June 08, 2009

Chapter Summaries from "On Writing Well" Part I

Ch. 1: The Transaction

There isn’t any one ‘right’ way to write. Different writers have intensely different experiences, and they are tense—the self that appears on paper is often much stiffer than the actual person. Good writing is all about humanity and warmth, the revealing of who the writer is in his or her enthusiasm and insight. Good writers succeed at using language with strength and simplicity. These principles may not be easily taught, but they can be learned.

Ch. 2: Simplicity

Good writing is not cluttered. Good writers clean up their work, throwing out every unnecessary word and confusing construction. The way to do this is to think clearly. You can think clearly if you make yourself do it. Readers have a lot of other things competing for their attention, and will eventually give up and find something else to read if your writing is too much trouble. Good writers remember what they are trying to say and continually critique their work to see if they are saying it.

Ch. 3: Clutter

Clutter, jargon, verbal camouflage—multiplying your words slows down the reader and comes off as pompous. Beware of using a long word when a short one would do as well. Replace two or three words with a succinct one. Guard against redundant prepositions, adjectives and adverbs, and avoid words that are fads. Don’t announce what you are going to write—just write it. Use brackets to highlight words and phrases that are not doing useful work, and then prune.

Credits-- On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Fiction by William Zinsser. I am using this book to practice writing short summaries, as well as remind myself of the book's content.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Still Dealing With Writing Questions

Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.

--Jonathan Swift

I seem to be amassing writing handbooks. Here are all the guides we currently own. (Several of these were given to us):

The Little, Brown Handbook
Writer's, Inc.
Strunk and White's Elements of Style
Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers, 6th Ed.
The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers
English Writing and Skills, Third Course (Coronado)
Understanding and Using English, 4th Ed. (Birk and Birk)
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
The Writer's Jungle (Bravewriter)
Jenson's Format Writing
(Update: we were given another handbook yesterday-- the A Beka Handbook of Grammar and Composition, 4th Ed.)

And I have some books on writing that aren't actual student handbooks or textbooks, but are more like collections of essays on writing:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Writing to Learn by William Zinsser
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Triss and I like the Prentice Hall Handbook the best at this point. She likes the conversational tone of the explanations.

Last night, at the Quiddity blog, I found a couple of posts on writing I really like:

What is Writing
Teaching the Transcendent
Assessment and Feedback for a Written Composition

The deeper I get into teaching writing, the more I realize how little I know about it.

Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog wrote a post awhile back about Sully Sullenberger and his conversation with the air traffic controller, his calm statement that, "We're gonna be in the Hudson", which I find strangely comforting at this time.

Galileo and Global Warming

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. --Wm. Shakespeare

In 1632, Galileo Galilei wrote his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, an act that eventually drew the condemnation of the Catholic Inquisitors; he was convicted of heresy for thinking the Earth rotated around the Sun and not vice versa, and lived the rest of his life under house arrest.

Galileo was a staunch believer in God and felt that his observations and discoveries increased God's glory rather than diminishing it-- he thought, rightly, that what we observe with our eyes proves rather than disproves the existence and might of God, and if our careful observations go against our ideas of God and His creation, we need to examine both our observations of the natural world and our ideas on what the Bible says. If all truth is God's truth, why be afraid of it? But the Catholic hierarchy of the time was bloated and drunk with power, and could only think of maintaining the status quo (and its lawless position of authority over the thoughts and beliefs of others). This clouded the vision of the inquisitors, making it impossible for them to view the evidence objectively.

I thought of this last night after reading an article on how NASA has established that the sun heats the earth. (Yes, this is a concept already present in every first grade science book.) The scientists at NASA have conceded that the sun has had an influence over the temperature changes of the Earth at least as far back as the Industrial Revolution.

I am proud of them for this.

Despite the fact that common sense tells us the sun heats the earth, NASA has established, using the scientific process (which takes nothing for granted), that even after machines and engines came into broad use during the Industrial Revolution, and people migrated increasingly to cities (causing more 'heat islands'), the sun still had a role in heating the earth.

Do you see where this is going? Perhaps man is not at the center of the universe after all. Perhaps we are little, and there are forces at work the likes of which we can barely begin to understand. Perhaps there is something the global warming theorists haven't considered. The scientists are being very Galilean and using their eyes and their reasoning ability, rather than accepting what they have been told by the powers that be.

Then I read this paragraph:

"While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, it then went badly off the tracks. Ignoring its own evidence, it returned to an argument that man had replaced the sun as the cause current warming patterns. Like many studies, this conclusion was based less on hard data and more on questionable correlations and inaccurate modeling techniques."


They didn't quite have the courage to stand up and present the facts of the study objectively.

But I am still encouraged. The fact that they are even considering that something other than man might have an effect on global warming and cooling shows that we aren't completely out of the realm of common sense yet.

Credits: The book, "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel, warmed my thoughts on this subject. Also, I thank the DHM at The Common Room blog for pointing out the news article on NASA's findings. And I thank my children for their ideas on the significance of studying the heating of the earth since the Industrial Revolution.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day Anniversary

Over at PBS' American Experience, there are some pretty amazing letters written by GIs in France after D-Day. Here is an excerpt from one of them, notable for its contrast between activities in France and at home:

The Long Low Dark Coast of Europe Looms Ahead

At dusk on July 29th my convoy of ships, largest of the war since D-Day, reaches broad sandy Utah Beach on the Normandy Coast. Like Omaha Beach a few miles o the north and clearly visible below its bluffs, Utah was the scene of D-Day landings by our troops nearly two months ago. But here there are no bluffs and resistance was weak rather than strong as at Omaha. Gentle meadows spread inland. The beach swarms with men and machines. It is the chief port of entry for U.S. forces invading France. In the distance anti-aircraft shells explode n the evening sky and a dull roar of heavy artillery marks the front line. Dozens of barrage balloons, like big sausages tethered to earth by cables, float close overhead to protect the landing area from low-level air attack.


Meanwhile Jane is gently influencing her mother toward selling their home at 317 Burlingame Avenue and moving to Santa Barbara, as a decisive step in coping with the sorrow of her father's death. The children continue to be a source of life and hope for them both, as they crave yet dread each day's mail, newspaper, radio broadcast.

To the men who served in the armed forces and took the war to the Nazis on D-Day, thank you. May God bless you.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"He knew enough of the world to know that there is nothing in it better than the faithful service of the heart."

--Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"

25 Things I Did This Week

1. Packed and unpacked

2. Practiced piano

3. Talked (and talked and talked) with a good friend

4. Got to know one of my newest cousins

5. Got to spend a day with cousins I haven't seen in almost seven years

6. Swam in the Guadalupe River (purely unintentional and incredibly fun)

7. Laughed at noisy gibbons

8. Read about how to be a better wife

9. Tore my pants on a choo-choo train

10. Worried about one of the bills that passed the Texas legislature

11. Read President Obama's Egypt speech

12. Ate twice at McDonald's

13. Realized I have no clue why I ordered the history book that came in the mail today (Update: I just figured it out-- David Hicks, who wrote Norms and Nobility, recommended it. I currently have a thing for history books. I am trying to figure out how they ought to be arranged, I think. Actually, I don't know why. But for some reason I have a desire to own all the good history spines I can find. I like to compare them.)

14. Coached the children on their monologues

15. Admired a way cool fort

16. Told stories to a six-year-old (and an eight-year-old, but that happens pretty often)

17. Watched "Phantom of the Opera" (the movie)

18. Learned about some new books (well, new to me)

19. Went to church twice, but not in the same place

20. Critiqued clothing and hairstyles

21. Observed a raccoon, a few deer, and a phoebe couple

22. Entertained my husband with witty and learned remarks on basketball, hee hee (Why are they called the Los Angeles Lakers anyway, huh? huh? LA isn't known for its lakes...)

23. Gave my advice on a cookbook

24. Listened to the working-out of writing ideas

25. Thought of a great thing to do while my grandparents are in town

So, I guess you could say I packed, practiced, talked, swam, laughed, worried, read, ate, coached, admired, told, watched, learned, critiqued, listened and thought this week. Lol.

("25 Things" idea taken from Cindy's post.)