Sunday, March 01, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Today is Ed's birthday! He's.... well, not as young as he once was! But he celebrated the day in fine style anyway.
We made it up to church for the first time in two weeks, and then home for presents and cake. My parents came over and helped with the rousing Birthday Song (None of us are candidates for Carnegie Hall, but greater numbers help disguise our tunelessness. Unless, maybe, they just magnify it? Anyway, we all sing with feeling!)

None of the rest of this has to do with Ed's birthday. But I finished Alan Jacobs's The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography the other day, and it was really excellent. Perhaps especially for big Prayer Book fans, of course!

And last week we got more snow. While I do object to ice, which keeps me off the walking trail, I think the snow is gorgeous.

Travis, posting snow pictures. Because that is Really why we want snow, after all.

Here are Snow Patrick and Snow Sponge Bob.

And last Sunday the Diocese of Western North Carolina youth group offered a "ski day" at a ski place in Maggie Valley. The kids have never skied before, and they wanted to try, so we went. They had a great time!

I stayed inside (with my book), but I spent a good forty minutes hanging out a window trying to get a picture of them coming down the slope. You'd think I'd have gotten lucky at least once and gotten them coming down, but I didn't.

Here they are, though, heading over to the lift.

And here's where I was sure I had them! All these downed skiers and snow boarders, you'd have been sure Travis and Katie would be among them. But I've checked up close, and these are all fallen strangers. So you'll just have to imagine them, swooping gracefully and swiftly down the slope, and we'll pretend that's the way it was!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow Days

It snowed here on Monday, and since then it's flurried and snowed enough, and been cold enough, to maintain a good solid layer of snow and ice. Especially the ice. It's pretty, anyway.

We were a bit worried about Harry in the snow (he has his very insulated palace in the garage, of course, but I was afraid he wouldn't go outside), but it turns out that he is okay with it. The kids said that the first time he saw his footprints he got scared and leaped backwards, but he quickly got used to it.

(Here you can see Harry, peeking around the corner of the garage, watching the kids. That was on Monday, when snow was still a new thing for him!)

And here Harry is helping Katie build a snowman.

It's a good thing Katie has Harry to play with in the snow, because Travis inherited my tolerance for cold -- pretty much none. His feet and hands turn blue after just a few minutes. Still, he did manage a couple hours of "sledding" across the street before duty (and the need to thaw) called him back to his books!

I've gotten in a fair lot of reading this week, and am hoping to sneak in a bit more tomorrow. The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams was really interesting, and today I read Petrarch, who was wonderfully passionate and intense. Also Rowan Williams's Tokens of Trust, which was a perfect Lenten read. Next in the list is a swashbuckling fantasy. Variety, you know!

Here Emma is channeling Yoda. She likes to lie on top of my stomach and meditate while I read.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

This and That

 Katie has taken to prealgebra like a.... well, more like a rock to water than a duck, let's say. Math can get pretty gruesome here. And it also tends to take up more of our day than you would believe. But today I got small reprieve and ray of sunshine -- Travis stepped in, unasked, and did his best to make the mysteries of percents and fractions less mystifying.

After I checked her work (today's assignment was to re-watch the videos and fix yesterday's work -- I'm not actually a brutal taskmaster), it turned out that, despite a lot of laughter and what seemed like some "ah-ha" moments, she still doesn't get it. But I got a kick out of seeing them working together, and maybe tomorrow she'll get it!

Today was brutally windy and cold, but yesterday was quite lovely and I went for a walk with my parents.

Here's the view from the summit.

And another view. Because it was such a pretty day!

And, the really exciting news is... I finished Paradise tonight!!!! I read (well, actually, listened to) Clive James's translation of The Divine Comedy in December, and at that point I enjoyed Inferno and Purgatory but found Paradise a tough nut. Still, it was my first time through, and I had no footnotes, so I assumed that on a second reading I would get more out of it. And I Did. It really is great. But.... not exactly edge-of-your-seat excitement. And Mark Musa's footnotes, while certainly not excessive or very scholarly, are extensive. Pretty typically, I think, there are ten pages of footnotes for each five pages of poem. But I figured that I might as well do the thing right, so I read them all. Anyway, as I said, it's a great poem. Paradise bogged down quite a bit in the middle, but it finished beautifully.

And it was really neat yesterday when our art history lecture (having finished the Dante lectures, we're now back to The History of European Art) was all about Abrogio Lorenzetti's The Effects of Good Government. Lorenzetti was a painter in Siena, which is just down the road from Florence, Dante's hometown. And apparently good government was a topic of interest to more people than just our dear Dante. I love it when things connect!

The cold weather is playing havoc, though, with my enjoyment of H.M.S. Surprise. I am listening to this one (Patrick Tull does the voices amazingly well), and the freezing cold weather is playing merry hell with my walking time, which is also my audio book time. Today poor Stephen Maturin had just proposed to wretched Diana Villiers, and her sugar daddy had just walked in -- a deliciously awkward moment -- when I realized that the blasts of freezing wind had become so bitter that I could no longer feel my feet. I may have to listen a bit in bed tonight after the lights are out!

Oh, and, finally, this...

Katie was working on her Elizabeth Tudor paper tonight and went googling for the dates of Henry VIII's wedding to Katherine Parr and death. And she found this video, which is of Ed's very favorite (and only) song about Henry VIII. I think it's funny!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Still Here. Send Blankets!

Crawling briefly out of my blanket cave to post a few pictures and report that we are not quite frozen, yet. Actually, Katie cheerfully trotted outside this morning, in 18 degree weather, in t-shirt and flip flops, to feed Harry. She appears to have adapted well to our arctic climate. I have not. But I saw sweet fuzzy little pale green buds on some trees today, so it is possible I will survive to see another spring.

Enough moaning, eh? On to the pictures. Because last Saturday we had a nice day! Not warm, but not sub-zero either. So my parents and I went for a hike up to Wolf Rock.

Here my dad is giving me his quizzical, "You cannot seriously be taking another picture of us on this rock, can you?" look. You'd think he'd know me better by now.

And here he and my mom are singing "Once I Went in Swimming." In case you've forgotten the words, here's a link. And another link. (If I'd been on my toes I'd have recorded them, but...)

As I said, it was a pretty day.

For Saturday's dessert, Katie and I made this pumpkin cake with caramel frosting. Not terribly elegant, but it was tasty!

That's it. The kids and I have been doing all the usual stuff. Travis and I have gotten up to Dante's Paradiso, which is less.... dare I say "fun"? than Inferno or even Purgatorio, but still, in its own way, interesting. But not warm! However, I am listening to Patrick O'Brian's H.M.S. Surprise and our heroes are currently bobbing about at the equator in roasty-warm weather. Sounds lovely (the warmth, not the bit about being on a boat!).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today is my mom's birthday! Typically for them, she and my dad took us out for dinner, and my mom baked her own, absolutely delicious, carrot cake (I offered, but she declined. My cooking fame is occasionally a hindrance to my good intentions.). We did sing, anyway! (And she took that with her usual good humor!)


In other news... it's still cold here. Quite lovely, pretty often, but cold. But when I do get out I've been listening to Post Captain, by Patrick O'Brian, which is fabulous. My reading list for the year will need to be somewhat altered, as I intend to listen to all twenty of the Aubrey-Maturin books (I trudge around and around my walking trail smiling and sometimes laughing out loud, they are so funny! My local reputation for eccentricity must now be thoroughly cemented.).

And, since this has been a nearly blogless month (what with my frozen fingers and all), here are a few pictures to give an idea of how things have been...

Katie made these little critters. The purple bear was a birthday gift for my mom!

And this is a pasta dish Travis made recently. Very delicious (those red things are sun dried tomatoes).

Here he is, doing Science. He is smiling, but he actually has developed quite a loathing for pipetting.

And here Emma is assisting him with Algebra II. She is not so good with the mathy bits, but is excellent on Moral Support. Which counts for a lot.