Category Archives: Books

Busy Kids

Here’s why SillyBilly has been busy lately:

We struggled with the idea of him joining scouts for a long time: the discrimination issue, the selling of things, etc. But in the end we decided the benefits outweighed those more abstract problems. He’s already had a lot of fun, gets to have time with his Papa every week, and will have lots of good adventures and learning from it. Now if only the meetings weren’t at 7 pm — that’s bedtime!

Here’s what’s keeping both of them busy:

They both are reading FIENDS. SillyBilly and Napoleona are both rather enamored of the Magic Tree House series — recently they’ve read the ones about Ancient Egypt, Pompeii, Mozart, and Leonardo da Vinci. When we took that trip to Montana, almost the entire 4-hour drive was completely silent — a first, I assure you.

SillyBilly is in first grade, Napoleona in kindergarten. They’re both reading at about the third grade level. It’s not the Waldorf way, but it also came relatively spontaneously, especially for Napoleona. And it’s just genetic — Anthropapa and I were very early readers.

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A Secret Hazard of Editing

I don’t mean to whine, but I am sick of being sick, already.

The day before our big trip to Washington, Napoleona puked all day. So of course the next day, while somewhere in the middle of nowhere (between Baker and La Grande) I got sick too, despite washing my hands 40 bazillion times. Then the day after Anthropapa and I returned home, I got a stomach bug again.

This week, I got a weird ear infection that has involved all the lymph nodes on that side of my head and neck. The ear infection isn’t so bad, but the whole area in front of, underneath, and behind my ear is so swollen that it’s painful. Even my earlobe is sticking out! Waaaaaaaaah! (That time, I meant to whine.)

This is the second ear infection I’ve had this year. The first one was in February and I ended up with a ruptured eardrum. I wish I knew what was going on with this, since aren’t ear infections just for kids?

❖❖❖❖❖❖

You’re probably wondering by now just what the heck that post title means.

Well, I recently worked on these two books, and they’ve made me a bit hyperchondriac about this ear infection. What if it’s some weird bacteria and I’ll be on one antibiotic after another? What if there is no antibiotic to handle this infection at all? Never you mind that I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms; these things are unpredictable and sneaky and deadly, I tell you, DEADLY!!

Hookay, back to reality. My ear is stuffed up and my face hurts, and it’s impossible to sleep on that side. But really, it’s probably not fatal.

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Filed under Books, editing, Health, Silliness and Mayhem

Vacation; or, We Attack the Pacific Northwest

N.B.: I’m stealing the format of this post from Tammy, because it’s a great way to do this quickly given that we took about 4,000 pictures.

We drove from Pocatello to Port Townsend, WA (1,700 miles) to visit Grammy and Grandpa for 2 weeks (the kids staying an extra third week). We hadn’t been to Washington before so this was a great treat. Turns out, Anthropapa and I discovered it was ideal there, and we now have a 5 year plan to relocate to the Seattle area! Must get master’s degrees first, though.

A is for public Art. This was at the Seattle Center, and even had one tube the kids could climb inside:

B is for Beach. Grammy and Grandpa live above a private beach, complete with a sand dollar colony and 40 bazillion shells. This picture is from a day trip to Dungeness Spit:

C is for Clouds. We had beautiful weather except for one cloudy day, but the sunsets were gorgeous. This is the view from the back deck:

D is for Doughnut machine. SillyBilly has been reading Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, which features a doughnut machine run amok. We were thrilled to see this one in the Public Market on the waterfront in Seattle:

E is for bald Eagle. Grampa says there are one or two bald eagles flying by quite often, perching over the sound watching for fish. They are awe-inspiring. Sorry, I have a very lame camera. Squint a little:

F is for Fourth of July. We went up to Port Townsend to sit on the beach and watch the fireworks at Fort Worden. We could see fireworks from at least three other spots around the sound. The Fort Worden show was simple, but lasted much longer than any show we’d seen before:

G is for Columbia Gorge. We drove up the gorge on both ends of the trip. Coming west we kept seeing Mt. Hood peeking out at us. Going east we had a slightly less fun time (went the wrong way on the highway, before we could get off we saw a tanker truck on its side blocking the entire westbound side, had to backtrack all the way to Portland, two-hour delay leading to being on the road 12 hours). But we won’t blame it on the beautiful gorge. This is the view from the Washington side, westbound:

H is for Hat. Though the temps were cool, the sun was very strong and I needed my hat! I almost forgot it in the ferry terminal leaving Seattle that day. I remembered at the last minute, and when we went to get the hat from the bench where I’d left it, we found a young man trying it on! I waited to see if he really wanted it (I would have gladly left it behind, even though I like it) but Anthropapa ended up asking for it and the man gave it back a bit sheepishly. Now my little blue hat has a story:

I is for Interesting. Anthropapa and I snuck away one day to Seattle while the kids stayed with their grandparents. We had lunch with old friends (Hi Erin and Kensuke!), found some treasures at a Tibetan store (certainly none of that in Pocatello), parked ourselves for a few hours at the awesome Elliott Bay Book Company, and saw some amazing installations and exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum, including some Helga paintings by Andrew Wyeth, beautiful Northwest native weavings, and this installation in the lobby, which inspired some interesting conversations about meaning in modern art:

J is for Joy. So many things to be happy about on this trip! Being with Grammy and Grandpa, discovering things large (the Seattle Aquarium) and small (the Port Townsend Marine Science Center), seeing wildlife (seals, eagles, deer, elk, sand sharks, sculpin, crabs, sand dollars, goldfinches, gulls, jellyfish) and many wildflowers. This is a tiger lily among lupines up on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park:

K is for Kids playing. Lots and lots of that. This was at the Seattle Center:

L is for LEGO Liberty, also at the Seattle Center:

M is for Multnomah Falls, which Anthropapa and I stopped by to see on our way home. So beautiful!:

N is for Nibblers. We saw deer in the backyard, deer in open fields, and a few rather saucy deer who were clearly looking for handouts at the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge:

O is for Olympics. Truly awe-inspiring. Next time I hope we have time to explore more. We just had time to go on a quick hike,  a little taste of the beauty of these high mountain peaks:

P is for Playground. Even on vacation, sometimes it’s nice just to take a little swing:

Q is for Quiet. So often we had the beach to ourselves, or sat on the back deck watching for sailboats with just the birds to accompany us. Even on our hike on Hurricane Ridge, with lots of other people there enjoying the sunny day, it seemed quiet. Maybe it was the beauty all around us, like this avalanche lily:

R is for Rivulets on the sand. We went out on the private beach during low tide to explore the sand dollar colony and go beachcombing. I was entrance by the shapes the retreating water had made in the sand, and realized later that I saw very similar shapes in eroded mudflows by Mount St. Helens:

S is for Seattle Skyline. We went over twice on the ferry from Bainbridge Island. What a fun city, not too big or small, quite clean, and with friendly people. Lots of culture as well as amazing outdoor opportunities. We’ll be back, for sure:

T is for Transportation. We took several ferries, and rode the bus, a monorail, and a trolley. It was great fun to take the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry, seeing lots of sailboats, container ships, and even some jellyfish!:

U is for Unusual. We did many unusual things (for us), including staying up late, eating fried clams, watching movies, and playing with light-up light sabers on the Fourth of July:

V is for Volcano. Anthropapa and I scouted out Mount St. Helens National Monument on our way home. Yet another awe-inspiring mountain! I’ve always been interested in geology, and we both clearly remember the 1980 eruption (Anthropapa even remembers the ash fall in Montana). The visitor center has some great displays, and a rather frenetic film, but the star of the show is the mountain herself. Pictures really do no justice in this case:

W is for whirlpool. One day we noticed these beautiful water forms as the ferry left the terminal:

X is for eXciting! For the kids, even simple things were so very thrilling. Grammy took them fishing off the nearby dock several times. The first time, Napoleona almost immediately caught a sand shark! She couldn’t keep it (all six-gilled creatures must be released back) but was so amazed at herself. She and SillyBilly went on to catch several sculpin. Unfortunately, though they are edible, they are almost all head. Nobody wanted togut and clean them! They might look calm and cool, but really they were quite thrilled:

Y is for Yikes! As Anthropapa and I left Seattle on the ferry, we noticed this boat following us, resplendent in jaunty red and accented by a machine gun! The public address system notified us a few minutes later that this was a routine Coast Guard escort. Hmmm. Funny that we hadn’t seen one before! One time we watched the boat almost stop to intercept a sailboat that was unwisely heading toward the ferry. They wisely turned away, as I’m sure they noticed the nice man with the big gun out front:

Z is for blast Zone. The ridge where the Johnston Ridge Observatory now sits across from Mount St Helens was directly in the path of the pyroclastic flow in the 1980 eruption. It’s hard to conceive of that much earth moving so fast and so far. These trees, several feet in diameter, were simply snapped off at the base by the force of the blast:

And if you’ve read through all this, you deserve an award 🙂

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Filed under art, Books, Family, Food, friends, Napoleona, Nature, papa, play, Science, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, travel

Poetry and Speech

On Mother’s Day one of the things we did was go to the bookstore. I’ve been So Very Good lately, getting all of my books either from the library or BookMooch, so I felt justified in buying a few for once. In addition to a compilation (I almost typed “complication” – interesting slip) of C. S. Lewis essays on Christianity, I bought the new Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. It’s poetry for the Seriously Geeky, being a rewriting of ancient Eddic sagas in modern English but retaining the Old Norse meter.

That sounds rather esoteric, but it’s amazing to read. This kind of poetry is so compressed and so highly structured – a line divided into two halves with two stressed syllables in each, the third of the four stresses always carrying alliteration, to be matched by one or both of the first two, but never by the fourth (are your eyes crossing yet?) – it’s really awe inspiring that someone could create it. Here’s an example:

The Gods gathered
on golden thrones,
of doom and death
deeply pondered,
how fate should be fended,
their foes vanquished,
their labour healed,
light rekindled.

In forge’s fire
of flaming wrath
was heaviest hammer
hewn and wielded.
Thunder and lightning
Thor the mighty
flung among them,
felled and sundered.

–”Völsungakviða En Nyja” (The New Lay of the Völsungs), Upphaf (Beginning) 7-8.

Now certainly the subject matter is interesting, being some of the oldest stories of Northern Europe, but even better is to say these poems out loud! They are like the most delicious tongue twisters ever.

I’ve had a soft spot for tongue twisters since childhood. My parents bought me a book of tongue twisters that I practically wore out – it even had foreign language ones like “Six sous ces saussicons-ci?” (Six cents for these sausages? – French) or “Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago” (Raw wheat, raw rice, raw egg – Japanese).

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – even more than these tongue twisters, Tolkein’s eddic poems remind me of some of the speech exercises we learned in Foundation Year at Rudolf Steiner College:

Lovable lidded lizard,
Lipping light laughter,
Lumpishly lurking,
Launching a lurch!

Clip, plop, plik, glik,
Clinked clapper quickly

Or this one from Steiner himself:

Tu-whit twinkle ’twas
twice twigged tweaker
to twenty twangy twirlings
the zinnia crisper
zither zooming shambles
this smartened smacking
smuggler sneezing
snoring snatching.

Discussions with Teachers, p. 135.

How fun are those? And how much more fun to have Tolkein put that kind of beautiful, chewy language into poetic form with an engaging plot and luscious imagery.

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Random Things I Thought I’d Share with You

1) SillyBilly has dived full-bore in to reading. He insisted on getting a chapter book yesterday at the book fair at school. I’ve been steering him toward the simpler, early-reader type books… but no, he wanted a big kid book. He picked a Magic Tree House “Merlin Mission” book, which is a series I know nothing about, other than it appears to be fairly inoffensive compared to much of the dreck publishers seem to think kids want, like books based on Pokemon or Barbie’s adventures in Pinkalotta Land. He’s been reading it (silently to himself, I might add) in pretty much every spare moment.

While I feel deep joy that he loves reading and has willingly embraced it, part of me does not want him to read as much as I did when I was a girl. So, while I will encourage and praise his reading, I will also be booting him outside whenever possible. And he’ll be going to a “Summer Adventure” program four days a week starting in June, which will not involve much indoor activity at all except for the public library once a week. Now I just have to pray that he’s not going to need glasses in addition to hearing aids.

2) SillyBilly is also teaching me a lesson in Not Freaking Out Over Weird Physical Symptoms. When I went to pick him up from school today, I noticed he had a spotty red rash on his face. When it was revealed that he also had it on his arms and torso, we immediately went home for further examination. Turns out he has a spotty red rash pretty much everywhere, but it’s not raised or blistering or itchy, and he doesn’t have a fever or any other symptoms. So I’m chalking it up to him needing to process something out through his skin instead of his usual M.O. of mucus production. He did something very similar when he came home from the hospital as an infant — he was covered with a fine red rash for quite a few weeks as all the various drugs and antibiotics worked their way out. I’m refusing to worry about it unless more symptoms arise. And trying not to be disappointed that it’s not chicken pox, which I’d like both kids to get sooner rather than later.

3) It’s wind season in Southeastern Idaho. We had a few weeks of a nice pattern of rain storms followed by sunny cloud-watching weather. But now it’s all about dry air, sneezing from pollen, listening to the amazing sounds of the pines, and the treat I had this morning of watching a hawk hovering over an empty field, searching intently for his breakfast. It was so windy that for much of the time the hawk was either totally still in the air, letting the wind keep him completely steady without moving his wings at all, or letting himself be carried to another part of the field with a few flaps. At one point I also watched him rise up and repeatedly dodge a smaller bird that was clearly harassing him.

Unfortunately I could not get close enough and the light was not right for me to tell what kind of bird exactly it was, but I know it was a hawk of some kind, possibly a dark morph. I was close enough at one point to clearly see the shape of the bird’s head as it intently peered down to the ground, hoping some field mouse or rabbit would unwisely reveal itself. I couldn’t stay long enough to see if it made a catch or not, but as it’s somewhere I pass by every weekday morning, I’ll be keeping my eye out for sure.

4) Also on the nature study front, in the last few days Napoleona has brought in the shed skin of a snake’s tail section (looks like a rat snake to me) as well as several largish pieces of what appears to be robin’s egg. Time to clear off the nature table for some real treasures!

5) Funniest Quote on What Is Otherwise a Very Serious Subject:

We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

– C. S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock.

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Darwin, Gradually

Having finally finished the unpleasant book about psychopathic killers, I have gone back to finish editing a series of essays about Charles Darwin. 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, so he’s being feted and written about left and right.

This evening Anthropapa came across this bit of artwork, which is very funny and fits so nicely with my current project:

By Mike Rosulek, buy it at http://www.zazzle.com/darwin2009

By Mike Rosulek, buy it at http://www.zazzle.com/darwin2009

Evolution is in the air right now. There’s my editing project, of course.

And then there’s the state of Texas. The public school science curriculum standards have been amended by the state board of education to require that students consider “all sides of scientific evidence.” Hey, that’s what the scientific method is all about, right?

I’d be a wee bit more supportive of Texas’s standards on critical thinking if it weren’t for the fact that it seems clear that what the NY Times so delicately calls “social conservatives” on the board are trying to push their avowedly creationist agenda into the curriculum, by systematically deleting references to such things as the specific age of the Earth from the science standards.

It is also certainly troubling that potentially, “publishers will have to include criticism of evolution if they want to sell science textbooks to Texas schools,” when essentially the only criticism of evolution is intelligent design (which as a religious belief, is lacking in the scientific evidence the board wants students to consider!) Texas is such a huge market for textbooks that their decisions affect textbook publishing as a whole in the US.

On the other hand, I wish scientists criticizing the board’s decision would be at least acknowledge that analysis, questioning, and not accepting estimates as fact are all part of critical thinking. Sure, Southern states (and, oddly, Pennsylvania) have a history of creationists trying very hard to use the idea of “balance” or “equal consideration” to get their beliefs taught in schools. But in the end, embracing the scientific method does not mean checking criticism at the door and accepting anything dogmatically.

(And if you’re wondering, I don’t believe in a “young Earth” but I do believe in a creator. I also believe that creator may very well have also set the processes of evolution in motion for his or her own purposes. However, I won’t support teaching any of that in public schools.)

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Inherited Bookishness

Warning: book-related geekery ahead!

Today SillyBilly and I had a book-lovin’ afternoon. First we watched this video of a modern book bindery that a fellow EFA member mentioned on our group discussion board (double click to open this one):

This contrasted nicely with another video we watched a few months ago, on hot metal printing circa 1947:

We were amazed to see the differences: the technology, from stamping each letter into metal, lining them all up in order by hand, and pressing them into a copper plate, to an almost fully automated, computer-controlled assembly line. And the similarities: it’s still just paper, cardboard, and glue.

This inspired SillyBilly to continue working on his book, which received its table of contents and first page today:

The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion

Table of Contents
By D. Hunt
(Table of Contents)
1) The Powerful Goo
(2-7 still untitled)
7 Chapters!
To Mama from D.

There was a dark, dark forest and there was a colony of ghosts. There was a very special rock that was powerful that the ghosts…

(I don’t know what’s coming next…. I’ll keep you all informed.)

I love that dark, dark, forest. It’s hard to see, but the red thing is the eerie glow of a ghost’s eyes.

Later at dinner I was describing the modern bindery video to Anthropapa and Napoleona. Evidently it caught her imagination too, because after dinner I heard them playing with books: SillyBilly was making little machine sounds (whssshhht! ffffft!) as he slid books down the tilted footrest of our recliner, while Napoleona “inspected” the books as they came down, checking for proper pagination and end paper gluing.

Imitation at its finest! Videos might not be a strictly approved Waldorf activity, but I love what kind of art and play it inspired today.

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Filed under art, Books, editing, General silliness, Napoleona, play, SillyBilly, Writing