Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A cute little fellow

An English robin. My mother's birthday present, whenever her birthday decides to arrive! Meanwhile, he is hanging out on my front porch. Isn't he adorable?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Caterpillar wars

That's what Julia and Peter decided to do on the living room floor this evening. Julia in her cocoon:

Peter in his. I couldn't get a pic of his face showing. He's too fast.

Now he's a cool teenager again.

All this transpired while Daddy read "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" to us.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

a few more...

Here's the pile that, hopefully, will go to the dump this week. Note the workhorse in the background.

This is the back corner of our property, and it is SO much more cleared than it was this morning! Adam's goal for this slope is more vegetable garden beds. That woodpile is for my evening fires next winter :)

And here's the adorable thing I found at Salvation Army today. I cleaned it up a little. It will go in Julia's room, if she ever gets her floor cleared of junk!

I'm Back!

First, some pics. Yes, the menfolk are at it again, in the back 40.

Making messy piles

Making neat piles

Today, they even brought in friends to help.

This is the latest area to be brought under control. There was a huge azalea bed around those trees. No more!.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Play it again, Sam!

Thursday's snow melted, but now it's coming down again :) The kids are happy. The dog is happy. The fire is snapping. Unfortunately, this morning I finished the book I was currently reading. A snowy day, a warm fire, without a good book to read, is like being at a dance without a partner.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


That's the sound of a teacher (or two, plus 4 students) who hopes to be HOME tomorrow, iced in, and unable to participate in all scholastic activities! Ah, to sleep in, sit by the fire, wear fuzzy socks, read a good book...sounds like Christmas break, doesn't it? Just for a day.

1/4" of ice, and 2-4 inches of snow, coming our way :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Two words for today:

fossick - to dig around, to hunt for something

limn - to paint, to portray in words or describe

Both of these delightful words came to my attention in the book I'm reading, "The Big House." I'm enjoying it very much.

I have a thing about houses. Some women love make-up, some hats, some shoes. I'm desperately in love with old, mysterious houses, pieced together with odd corners, stairs, hallways and back rooms. Sigh. All my favorite children's stories have houses like that, from "Miss Suzy" to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." So, Mr. Colt's Big House is right up my alley, you might say! My aunt and uncle once lived in a very old house like that in rural Virginia. I must have been at an impressionable age when we visited them, because I've never quite got that house out of my imagination.

On a more practical note, not much new is happening at our house. Winterim will be over this Friday. We're all hoping for a little winter weather on Thursday.

The happy news is that I got my Smartboard in my classroom today! Yippee! I spent an hour or so playing with it, finding out what it will do. I can't wait to put some of my lessons in the program, and get some interactive grammar stuff for the students. Anything, ANYTHING, that I can get on my laptop (internet, and non) can be put on the Smartboard. And if it's interactive on the laptop with a mouse, then it's interactive on the Smartboard WITH MY FINGER. Amazing. The students love it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A perfect spring day...

Whoops! I mean, a perfect winter day. It just FELT like spring! We worked outside almost all day. This morning Adam loaded into the truck all the stuff we needed to take to the dump: shingles from his roof repair, asphalt from when he and Peter smashed up part of the driveway, lots of prickly holly branches, some recycling, and the unrepairable roto-tiller that we found in the yard when we bought the house. To the dump!

After lunch, Adam and Philip took down about 5 trees in the back yard, of various sizes. Philip spent hours cutting it into firewood for NEXT winter fires. The whole yard was (and is) littered with branches, ivy and logs. Just as soon as we get it tidy-looking, we start another project.

I spent a quiet afternoon at the front of the house, getting ivy off the brick - again! I did this about 6 months ago or so. This time, I took it down to the soil, and hopefully we'll dig it out. And we're taking the ivy out of the front brick beds on either side of the front door. I used to like all that ivy, but lately I've felt it makes the house look 'hairy,' like it needs a good cut. And the ivy growing under the windows, well, that was the last straw.

So, we're all achy and tired. But it was a good day. As I've said before, January is the BEST time of year to do yard work, in the South. No heat. No bugs. No kudzu.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Word of the day:


Doesn't it sound nice - it clicks on the tongue. Depending on one's inflection, it could mean anything!

However, it means "steep."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I'm watching the New Hampshire primary results. I don't usually take much interest, but this race is so complex! It's like watching a horse race, and waiting to see which ones pull ahead of the pack. I even hooked up the TV so that we got RECEPTION (wow!!), to watch the NewsHour, and a little Charlie Gibson. Looks like I'll have to wait until about 9:00 to find out much.

My creative writing class continues to be fun. Tonight Philip started his trumpet lessons again, and Adam and Peter went to play in a local, weekly chess club.

And Adam is still making me a nightly fire in the fireplace. Isn't he a lovely hubby?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

How he did

Adam called often today to give me a play-by-play of Peter's performance in the chess tournament. He played 5 games. He lost his first game, Adam said, from sheer nerves. He was winning handily, but freaked out toward the end and found a way to lose.

His dad coached him up a little, built his confidence, and sent him back into the ring. He won his next 2 games and decided he didn't want to go straight home after all. He had so much confidence, in fact, that he lost his 4th game because of it. Evidently he needed that lesson also. And he won his final game. Last time Adam called, they were waiting to find out if he finished in the top 10 in his age group.

Did some yard work today; it was lovely.

Chess Tourney

Adam and Peter drove to Asheville early this morning. Peter will play in a chess tournament of some sort. They also took along Peter's buddy, Robert, who enjoys the game as well. I'm looking forward to hearing how Peter does.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Winterim, Day 2

We had fun at Barnes and Noble. My four students all chose books of poetry. Here were their choices:
Dante's Inferno (Longfellow translation)
Dante's Inferno (Pinsky translation with the Italian on opposite pages)
Emily Dickinson poetry
Richard Wilbur poetry

I was encouraged because the 2 students who chose Dante, did so because we studied him last semester, and they enjoyed it. They only read 4 cantos in the fall, and they wanted to read the rest. And the student who picked Wilbur liked the poetry by him that I've had my students memorize. I think the class will go well.

Today, Julia had Girl Scouts. Being a good mama, I put her GS sash, $1 dues, and a permission form -- all in a ziploc bag with her name on the outside, in her backpack. The backpack never left her classroom all day. Then she went straight to GS. But she lost the bag, and all its contents. Sigh, heavy mama sigh. How do children do that? I went to search her classroom. Found her drink bottle and her coat, but no GS stuff.

In her backpack, however, I did discover about 47 mangled, tattered school papers that she'd failed to bring home. It was an evening for tears.

After returning from the grocery store, I found a note on my bed from Julia. "Dear Mama, I'm sorry I made you mad. I know that I don't deserve to go to Girl Scouts. Do you forgive me? Love, Julia"

I think her 17 year old brother, well-trained over the years in how to douse the flames of mama-anger, aided her in her plea. Hm. Sweet note.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


First day of classes was wonderful. I sat in my living room with my four nice students, lit them a fire in the fireplace, read to them (Truman Capote, "A Christmas Memory") gave them a simple writing exercise, let them read a few of our books, had them revise their work a little, and took them back to school. Doesn't get any easier than that.

Tomorrow, we'll drive to Barnes and Noble. Each of them will buy a book of poetry. Then we'll have a snack at Starbucks. That sounds fairly pleasant as well.

This evening, Adam has made me another lovely fire. We're going to use up our pile of firewood by March, I betcha. We also watched another Nero Wolfe episode, which is loads of fun.

Julia is reading "Alice in Wonderland." She finished "A Wrinkle in Time" and has started "Many Waters," also by L'Engle.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What I did today:

I know you're all waiting to know.... (ha!)

I completed my list. I did, however, clean the kids' bathroom. But -- Anna mopped the kitchen, and Peter cleared the patio. Decent exchange. And I succeeded in waking Philip at 10:30. That's early for him, on a vacation day.

Today, I plan to:

Go to the bank.
Vacuum the house.
Mop the kitchen floor.
Clean up the patio.
Clean the kids' bathroom. Well, the kids will do that. I will supervise.
Finish the laundry.
Go to church.

School starts tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Today we did little. I watched "Schindler's List" with Anna, editing out objectionable parts. She's taking a Winterim class on the Holocaust, and that's one film they're supposed to watch. I told the teacher I'd prefer to watch it with her and edit some scenes. The teacher seemed surprised, but hadn't seen the movie in some years. Perhaps when she reviews it over break, she'll feel the same way!

And Anna took me driving on her longest jaunt yet - to Walmart and back! And she parked too. She did very well.

Adam's baking rye bread.

He also finished digging out the large rectangle of asphalt/cement by the edge of the house, and then inserted 3 boxwood bushes from elsewhere in the yard. And it looks VERY good - his yard improvements just get better and better.

Chilly here. Low of 24 tonight.