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March 2007
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May 2007

A Few Raleigh Pictures

P4200076_2 Older son was volunteering at the science museum in Raleigh so we made a day of it.  We had lunch at one of our favorite pizza places - Lilly's at Five Points.  The inside is rather odd (for instance, the anatomically correct, life-size drawings on the bathroom doors, and the partial mannequins), and the music is usually too loud for conversation so we only eat there in nice weather when we can eat outside (right) and listen to the Baptist church bells play hymns (right below - view from our table).

It was a beautiful day, and we wanted to spend more timeP4200079 outside.  We've been to Pullen Park recently (oops, never posted those pictures) so I decided to go to Meredith College.

I used to take flute and music theory lessons  there when I was in high school, and the music building is right next to the amphitheater and pond.  I remembered there being a number of large azalea bushes there, but either my memory is wrong or they've re-landscaped.  Here are some of the few azaleas by the pond.


Books I'm too Tired to Read

How's that for a post name?!

We were (briefly) at the Cameron Village Library today. I got a few interesting books out:

  • Stardust, by Neil Gaiman which was highly favorably reviewed at A Work in Progress,
  • Sunshine, by Robin McKinley.  Normally, I have no interest in vampire books at all, but I've really enjoyed some of Robin McKinley's other books (Beauty is a favorite) so I thought I'd give it a try.
  • Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver (looks interesting, but it may just make me feel guilty and more tired)(This book is obviously a really odd juxtaposition with the previous one).

However, I collected just as many books that I'm too tired to read!  The Wake County Library login screen lets you list books on your account to read in the future so I kept going back and forth between the shelves and the computer to add books to my list:

Craveri's account of the French aristocratic circles in which conversation emerged as an art offers a rich blend of personalities, anecdotes, scandal and genuinely amusing letters to flesh out an intellectual argument leading from early 17th-century aristocratic entertainment to the Enlightenment salon. Craveri, a contributor to the New York Review of Books, develops her theme by examining the careers of several prominent women who carved social and intellectual space for themselves in their homes and served as models for successive generations. The Marquise de Rambouillet set the stage when she retreated from Louis XIII's inhospitable court to build her famed Blue Room, designed specifically for refined entertainment. Even in this early phase, says Craveri, an emphasis on style and wit led to some blurring of class distinctions. A generation of women who had gathered under Rambouillet's roof continued the fashion, shaped by literary interests, religion, delicately and passionately expressed tastes, love affairs and female friendships and rivalries. By the next century, the British identified wit and elegance, developed in the salons, as the quintessential French quality that allowed all manner of ideas to be expressed. This intriguing book is peppered with untranslatable words that miraculously don't weigh it down.

Matthieu Zela is 256 years old in 1999, but doesn't look a day over 50. (Bafflingly—to himself, too—he simply stopped aging.) Loquacious Matthieu crisscrosses the centuries with wry, autobiographical narration, moving from his current incarnation as a satellite TV entrepreneur in London to his coming-of-age in the 1750s, when he leaves Paris for England with his young half-brother Tomas in tow and meets his one true love, Dominique Sauvet. Matthieu's one deep regret, however, isn't romance-related: of the 10 generations of Thomases descended from his brother, each has had his life cut short, "either by his own stupidity or by the machinations of the times."...

The Gardens - Before the Easter Weekend Freeze: Early April, 2007

Actually, the flowers fared fairly well considering it got into the 20's a few nights, and we even had a bit of snow.  We covered the azaleas, though they looked a little singed. 

But here's how things looked before:


The forsythia bush in the back bed with creeping phlox in front.

Back when we were first married and renting a house in Winston-Salem, I fell in love with forsythia.  It was one of the first things to bloom in our neighborhood.  I was glad to finally have a place to plant one.

The small blue flowers to the right of the forsythia are Ipheon (below).



Virginia Bluebells and Violas.


The flower bed in the side yard.  Phlox, pansies, daffodils, and a dogwood in the distance.


Pussytoes.  Ajuga Reptans in the back.


The beloved azaleas before they were wrapped in sheets for half a week.  The first spring we were here, we bought them as two small bushes to put on either side of one of the smaller dogwoods.  They were one of our best plant purchases ever!


Acquilegia Canadensis (Wild Red Columbine).  They reseed and come up where they want - and they're welcome just about anywhere!


This dogwood didn't look too great right after the house was built.  But I would never cut down a dogwood, and it's recovered quite beautifully.


Native azalea.  It was also wrapped for half a week - no small undertaking because it's about five feet tall.


Every year I like to lie on a blanket and look up through the dogwood flowers. 

NC Botanical Gardens - Brief

Dear husband and I went for a walk in the natural section of the N.C. Botanical Gardens during daughter's ballet class this afternoon (Dh, daughter, and older son got in early (2 am) this morning).  He had been painting for most of the afternoon so he was enthusing about the light at the Gardens and all sorts of other visual things.  The light was the beautiful, crystal clear kind P3310102you get when a storm system finally has gone through. 

I didn't even think to bring the camera - which is probably good because then I wasn't distracted by it.  Downy Arrow-wood was blooming, along with Green and Gold, Spring Beauties, Giant Chickweed (the last two are to the right - the picture, however, is from Ayr Mont two weeks ago), two different species of Dwarf Iris, wild Geranium, Columbines, Sweetbush, Violets, and the last flowers of the Dogwoods.

It's very good to have them back!

Various unusual and/or interesting links

Dear husband and the older two are driving back from NY today.  I won't be able to go to sleep until they get here so I'm going to spend some of this time posting interesting and unusual links I've come across.  I'm already too tired to do anything useful around the house. 

So, here goes...

Walk This Way (an interesting Charleston, SC photo/writing blog) has a link to the Stand By Your Statue blog - photos of people posing (usually appropriately) with statues.

History and Education:  Past and Present has a post on Debt and the Intellectual Life:  A Host of Unintended Consequences:

...Debt affects the fundamental act of reading, by both the debtor student and scholar, due to efficiency. Because of the need to balance a hectic schedule, the debtor scholar finds him or herself impatiently analyzing a text for defects, its thesis, and strengths, rather than absorbing a work's full aesthetic effect. In non-fiction reading, you might also neglect a full exploration of a book's notes (an especially acute problem for historians). If reading quality can be imagined as existing on a 5 point scale, with 5 being the best, most of your pressurized academic reading hovers around a 3. And of course I've completely neglected the loss of joy caused by the haste one must employ to keep up - or make up ground. This loss is especially depressing when books comprise a vast majority of one's intellectual life. The need for speed eats away at what - for many - is the core reason for seeking an academic career...

Second Terrace has a Production Memo for the Hobbit - very well thought out and worth reading if you're at all interested in Tolkein and movies.  Here's a taste:

But there is more to Middle Earth than a few good guys trying to survive a Black Sabbath Jacksonian monster-bash. There is an easy-going, affable friendship forged in pipeweed, over a pint at the tavern, and lyricized on long walks in Shire woods and greens. There is the tempo of Yule and Midsummer, and the occasional eleventieth birthday party. There are the habits of regifting Mathom-worthy objets-d’art to the Sackville-Baggins. There is laughter – not that forced, arbitrary “someone must pay” stuff that tramps as laughter today, but real men-with-chests laughter that resonate from diaphragms that know how to sing songs with more than one verse, and certainly more than a Song of Myself, and lungs that breathe in mountain air freshened by snows and springs that pool in blue-silver meres.

There is also an appreciation for long songs warbled by good guys and bad. You don’t hear much of the latter sort warbling away in the trilogy, but you do hear goblins choiring rather grim foot-stompers in The Hobbit. The songs of the Elves are playful in the Hobbit, but poignant and mythical (almost terrible) in the trilogy. In both, the songs do what real poetry always does: it captures the light of the stars and leaves, and sets thought like a gem in foil and chain. The familiar traveling companion who snores, picks his nose, takes the best spots and tells the same gorblimey stories is recognized, by the clarion dulcet of poetry, as a Friend. Sartre is wiped away by song, and Aristotle and Plato are renewed. In one world, there are songs of playful creation wisdom, making and dancing, and recalling the original unity of poetry, which bound in a single word, once upon a time, the meanings of maker, singer and shepherd (Tom Bombadil). There are epics and elegies of lost ages, fallen cities, and dimming glories (Elrond). There are romances of love wrought over the centuries, and the sacrifice of death and self for love (which is ever the unavoidable price), even the possibility of the sexlessness of love (Aragorn). There are songs of the Journey, of there and back again (Bilbo and Frodo). There are celebrations of pipeweed, dinner (of course), copper bathtubs, fireworks, good beer, gardens and gaffers (Sam, Merry and Pippin – who, it should be said, was not forced by Tolkien to sing wretchedly about suicide missions and demonic filiocide).

Laughter and singing, and that Chestertonian ideal of the glorious-mundane-and-discernment-of-eternity sort of poetry are what Tolkien understood and well.

Jackson and New Line did not, and will not.


Miss Cellania has an Introduction to Mars and Venus which (though I don't fit large parts of it) is very interesting:

   Women: A woman makes a list of things she needs, then goes out to the store and buys those things.
Men: A man waits till the only items left in his fridge are half a lime and a beer. Then he goes grocery shopping. He buys everything that looks good. By the time a man reaches the checkout counter, his cart is packed tighter than the Clampett's car on Beverly Hillbillies. Of course, this will not stop him from going to the express lane.


   Women: They mature much faster than men. Most 17-year old females can function as adults.
Men: Most 17-year old males are still trading baseball cards and giving each other wedgies after gym class. This is why high school romances rarely work out. [Me:  I guess we beat the odds!]


[Hat tip to Neatorama]

Birthday Parties

MotherReader has an interesting post, Rock and Roll Peeps, on how to best survive a children's birthday party:

I survived another kids’ party. I chalk it up to my unique recipe for success, summed up in this pithy phrase: Advil before, alcohol after. Some people mix these two up, and while it can make for a more interesting party and is generally the more accepted strategy for an adult party, for a kids’ party the proper order is critical. There may also be legalities involved, but let’s not go there.

As far as I’m concerned, my masterpiece of the Rock ’N Roll party was the cake featuring Peeps on paper electric guitars...

She has various good ideas -  including one I should have done for younger son's recent party:

  1. Overplan. Have more than enough things to do, so you’re not stuck with nothing to do. I keep a few quick games on hand for transitions — freeze dance, hot potato, even word games.

We ran through all the planned activities pretty quickly on that occasion and ended up with a large chunk of free time.  Things did finally settle down, though.

My party trick strategy, however, is to give out the goody bags first. In a treasure hunt.  That alternates between up and down stairs.  And outside and down the hill if the weather is even remotely cooperative.  The kids have all sorts of energy because they just arrived - so they run almost the entire time.  They usually slow down by the end, and they're much calmer for the rest of the party (My older children figured this out.  Younger son hasn't yet).


Seeker - Shelby Lynne

O sadly neglected blog!

At the beginning of the month, I thought that things would slow down a bit once I had my certification renewal finished, and Easter and the reunion were past.  Silly me.  I've been under the weather all week from the lingering effects of my bad asthma attacks (breathing's still not back to normal, and I had a bad, though fortunately brief, reaction to the Xopenex), and we were busy getting dear husband and the two older children ready to head up to NY for dear husband's grandfather's funeral.  Younger son, aka "monkey boy"* or "Super Butt-Man!" (his accolade), or "high-energy child," and I stayed here due to the deleterious effects on family life and sibling relationships of suppressed high-energy sitting in a van for 24 hours total spread out over three days. 

Today's really the first (slightly) slower day, and I've crashed, mood-wise.  I perked up briefly when younger son and I went to see Night at the Museum at the Graham Theater.  Another mood help was this (from Theological Musings): 

  • Go to Google.
  • Click on “Maps”
  • Click on “Get Directions”
  • In the “Start Address” box, type in “New York”
  • In the “End Address” box, type in “Oslo” (as in, Norway)
  • Click “Get Directions”
  • Now, scroll down until you find step #23…..

The Seeker also cheered me up (and it's fun to sing).  I love the jazz/bluesy piano in the bridge. Click here to listen to a clip.

...When You reach out and lead me
Guide me and keep me
In the shelter of Your Care each day
I am a seeker, You are a Keeper
You are the Leader won't You show me the way...

Jbiaw It's from Just Because I'm a Woman:  Songs of Dolly Parton.**  I love Shelby Lynne's singing in this song, and I need to check out more of her music.

* This is said with much love.  Younger son is high energy, but, once he learns how to harnass it, it will serve him well.  We do a lot of hands on activities in his homeschooling!

**  There's a video at the Sugar Hill Records website of Mindy Smith singing Dolly Parton's "Jolene," from the same CD.