Thursday, February 23, 2017

First Outdoor Reading Day of the Year!!!!!

Today was my dad's day to work in the green house at Reynolda Gardens in the big city, a weekly volunteer job he's taken up (he's been growing orchids since before I was born, and the Reynolda orchids are benefiting from his expertise, and he's enjoying having a day out), and it was our day to enjoy my mom's company. She and Ed watched "Emma," and then she and I sat out on the deck and read/listened to an audio book. And Harry took advantage of my mom's good nature and enjoyed the longest patting session he's had... since Katie started at school! He can hardly wait for her to come back and spend some more quality time with him, so we'll hope for warm, lovely weather again next Wednesday.





And Finny found his hedgehog! This is a hedgehog that Katie bought him a while back, which had to be confiscated because he insisted on tearing its stuffing out and we were afraid he'd swallow it and require another visit to the animal hospital. Anyway, somehow he got hold of it again.



He Loves his hedgehog.


Mmmm. Hedgehog. (This one brings to mind the "Love to eat them mousies" cartoon, doesn't it?)


Fortunately for the hedgehog, Finny has the attention span of ... well, an almost two year old golden retriever.

It has again been put away, but I'm not sure where, so I suppose it will show up again and provide more "ferocious hunter" delight for my sweet pup.


Here is our effort at a "selfie." Every dingbat kid on the internet can take pictures of themselves, but Finny and I can't figure out where to look. Oh well. Finny is cute anyway!


And he IS cute, isn't he? He's been So much better behaved lately. Sometimes I almost imagine that he's a good dog, but then he does something to remind me that he still has plenty of puppy left to go.


Here he is, helping me with Richard III. I'm sure Richard would have been a nicer person if he'd had a golden retriever puppy to snuggle. Well, and if Tudor propagandists hadn't found it expedient to blacken his name he'd have come down to us looking better too (We just discussed "Daughter of Time" in our library book group. And, as has been the case with previous meetings, we had One person come in addition to my parents and me. But this time the other person Loved the book -- actually, it's a long-time favorite of hers -- which was absolutely unprecedented. It was a very nice change of pace.)

Sweet, sweet puppy.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mabel, mabel, sweet and able...

Meet Mabel! Is she a lovely little thing or what?



Our dear old van, having very recently had its transmission replaced, and, actually, numerous other things as well, continued despite our most affectionate and extravagant care to behave with increasing eccentricity. Declining to change gears, stopping dead in its tracks, that sort of thing. We (well, Ed) tried various remedies, but… 

So, we’ve been looking for a “new” vehicle to trade the poor old van in on. We thought something more fuel efficient would be an awfully good thing, given the amount of driving involved with Travis driving to the community college in a town one direction and Katie being driven to the high school in a town the other direction. Actually, anything this side of a Sherman tank would be more fuel efficient that our van (a Sherman tank, in case you are curious, gets, optimally, approximately .91 mpg cross country, 1.72 mpg on the highway), but we set our sights on a Nissan Altima when we read that they are supposed to be safe, reliable, and get twice the mileage of the Windstar (which, in fairness, was about 16 mpg, so, substantially better than the Sherman tank). It took a while to find one that met our needs and our budget, but we think we found Perfection on Friday last!

And isn’t she a pretty color? When I explained to Ed and the kids Why her name had to be Mabel they rolled their eyes, pityingly. But, just look at her! She’s the color of…. Wait for it…. Mabel syrup! (And, yeah. All three of them, Ed, Travis, and Katie, have kindly, quietly said to me, “You Know it’s Maple syrup, right? M-a-p-l-e?” Well, yes, I do. But it’s close enough,and she Looks like a Mabel – all sweet and helpful. And she drives beautifully, and her radio works, and she even has one of those clever back up cameras, which I just love. She smelled rather dreadful when we brought her home – the salesman said it was the cleaning stuff or something – but it's dissipating already, and her windows roll down just fine, so that’s not a huge thing. And she goes along just like a dream!


 And it's starting to look spring-ish!



Finn has continued to show improvement in his behavior, though he's still not remotely trustworthy left unsupervised with the run of the house, but confined to the back room he is generally pretty good!

This is how he likes to keep me company while we read. The mess and box were Katie's, but she's since cleaned up and at the moment that space looks fairly respectable. Of course, you'll have to take my word for that.

Doesn't he look like a quiet old thing?


This is where he likes to be when I sit at my computer. It makes typing challenging.




Short cut off the couch in pursuit of Livy (you can just see the tip of her raccoon tail!).







That's it. We're all still ticking along, and I need to go finish "Daughter of Time" for the discussion at the library on Monday, just on the off chance that someone aside from Dad shows up to talk about it with me!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Enterprising Strangers and Cherished Family

Mercy, but it's been a while. Still, my brother and his lovely wife came to visit last week, and that is definitely worth dusting off the keyboard for (Okay, that was a big fat lie. My keyboard gets more than enough use; it's just not been This use.). But first, and on the topic of "writerly" honesty, I have a funny story to share! Not hugely funny, but it certainly has provided me with some entertainment!

So. I have an account at Goodreads, where I  chat with online friends about books, read friends' reviews, keep track of what I'm reading, and post my thoughts about what I've read. It's fun, and there are some really nice people there. Anyone can read reviews attached to books listed there, and recently I got a surprising message from a total stranger (who initially identified herself only as "M") regarding a book I'd reviewed. I was so amused by the message -- the sheer gall of asking a stranger to contribute to your research project, and also the effort that this person was going to to avoid doing the research herself (I assume she wrote to many, many people who had reviewed books on her assigned topic) are kind of impressive, in their own way -- that I shared the message with online homeschooling friends on Facebook. A FB friend asked how I was going to respond, which I hadn't really planned to do. But ...

(Hopeful stranger)
Hi Melora
I saw that you have read the book "SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard". Please can you tell me the types of social activities that were carried out in Roman towns? Thank you




(Me)
Dear M.,
I would be only too happy to help you with your project! It's been a little while since I read Mary Beard's S.P.Q.R., and, sadly, my memory is not what it once was, but I am flattered by your request and will try to be of use. As I recall, social activities in Roman towns were not much different from those you'd find in American towns. After all, if you think about it, they were residents of a republic at the time of Mary Beard's book, and so, thankfully, are we! History, they say, is forever repeating itself, so it only stands to reason that the social activities we enjoy will repeat too. Now, as to details, and please remember that my memory is inclined to be a tad fuzzy... I am sure that I remember reading that residents of the Roman republic were keen bridge players. Scrabble, Monopoly, and cribbage were also popular. Young Romans enjoyed croquet, baseball, and other sportsy activities, while adults likely recreated with bowling and golf. Social activities involving dancing and drink are perennial favorites, and, unless my memory fails me, tea dances and cotillions were favored by the more bourgeois, while the more daring sorts participated in raves and disco-type events. Social clubs were important, of course, and Kiwanis, the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes, and Junior Leagues were surely as prominent a part of the lives of Roman residents as they are for Americans today.
I hope this is useful to you and wish you the best of luck in your future scholarly endeavors!
Cordially,
Melora
Goodreads Member

P.S. While I'm sure your schedule is very busy, you may want to do a little research yourself to double-check this information.



(Hopeful Stranger)
Dear Melora, thank you for your response, it is helpful. Is there anything you know about social activities from any other books? What evidence is there that these activities took place - any archaeological evidence? Do you still have the book with you - it would be helpful if you could take photos of the pages that discuss the social activities. 

Thank you,
Em (Emma)
M (Goodreads user)




(Me)
Dear M,
What an Enchanting idea! I am afraid, though, that we probably had better not hold our breaths while waiting for archaeologists to unearth evidence of bridge and croquet playing activities among the ancient Romans. As to my further research efforts on your behalf, I’m afraid that, regretfully, my schedule will not afford me the time. I wish you all the best, though, with your remarkably innovative research technique and hope you will enjoy the success you deserve.

Kind regards,
Melora




You'll note that I'm lying again here, as I could manage the time to unearth some more Roman facts for young "Em," but I feel that I've done enough. Probably more than enough. Unfortunately, I neglected to check on her location, and she appears to be a British slacker rather than an American slacker. So my justification for assuming that the Romans enjoyed baseball and all because we do will seem a bit less convincing. Maybe that's just as well.

And now on the the good stuff!!!
As is our "tradition," we went to Stone Mountain for a picnic. In the freezing cold. If you stood right beside the fire it was almost tolerable!


The lighting of the grill. A fraught occasion, but manly determination prevailed.


Here everyone is wishing I would scuttle back to the fireplace and leave them to freeze in peace. There was no dilly-dallying over the food, and clean up was impressively quick!


Phew! Back to the warm house! Where, rather than sit on comfortable chairs in the living room we hunkered around the kitchen table and peered at the side of my liqueur cabinet. My brother's cell phone has a nifty little projector attached to it, and he showed Star Wars 7 on it. Astonishing.

Happily (but not coincidentally), my mom's birthday fell during the visit!



I'm not sure that a seed cake (and one from a recipe I found on Allrecipes, not the lovely one she used to make, for which I don't have the recipe) was what my mom had in mind, but my dad says it was (probably still is, since they put things in the freezer and eat them very slowly) good. But anyway, I also made a batch of the raspberry truffle brownies that she liked many years ago, and turns out that she still likes them! So that was nice.


And we played lots and lots of Bananagrams. Our thoughtful guests brought us three new bags of tiles, so we played Big.

And I can't remember how he did it, but between my brother and my dad, they got my mom to laugh!

Kim, who is a joy in many regards, has the very fine quality of being a dog person, and Finny was So glad to have her to play with. I think she must have explained some things to him while they were out back, as he's been much better behaved (one dining room chair aside) since their visit!

And here's Mom supervising my work on a very sticky batch of herb rolls that Katie mixed up for me. Despite the stickiness they turned out just fine, and the batch she made since is perfect.

And the whole adorable crew, at the leave-taking. It was a very nice visit.

And now we're back to doing what we do around here! (The piles of paper and box are Katie's mess -- her life is such a wild social and educational whirl these days that she just can't keep up with being tidy too. Though she never was before either.)


Saturday, January 07, 2017

Snow! Snow! Little Finn wants to Play in the Snow!

Sorry. Ten years here, and I'm still a Floridian, and seeing all that white stuff just makes me think of "Froggy," with his "Snow! Snow! I want to play in the snow!" (Froggy Gets Dressed)
Anyway, we finally got the snow Ed's been longing for, and it's deep (for here -- probably at least five inches, I think) and powdery (so it doesn't stick!) and lovely. And Finn is absolutely Mad for it! The kids didn't much want to go out in it, except briefly, to humor Finn, but he had a marvelous time running around and around the yard, pouncing and playing. 








And this was yesterday's dinner. Ed made it, and I think it's very colorful and cheery. Wish I could eat some!

And these were actually taken after Christmas, but I missed them before.
Finny found this squeaky hedgehog. It rolls around making noises, and it makes Finn feel extremely predatory -- he actually flings it in the air, like a proper little hunter (here is a link to a picture of a coyote flinging a vole about, just to show what I mean. only you now need to picture Finn flinging a mechanical hedgehog.)



And this is Finn sweet-talking a doggy gingerbread man, right before he gulps it down like the fox in the story (the story of The Gingerbread Man, that is). My old college roommate's dog, Bart,  very kindly sent Finn a box of Trader Joe's Gingerbread Flavor Dog Treats along with his mistress's gifts to the rest of the family, and he loves his cookies. Thank you, Bart!


So, now we've had our snow and can get on to some nice spring weather, I think!