Saturday, May 30, 2015


I had graded a gross of Latin papers since giving the exam yesterday (31 Logic students times 4 pages is 124, then 7 6th graders times 2 pages is another 14 making 138 and then I had bogged down on the 3rd page -sentence translations - without even realizing it was a gross until later) when I realized I faced three choices.  I could gouge my eyes out because of the constant infractions of the i-before-e rule.  I could continue grading when every fiber of my being rebelled. Or I could channel that revulsion and shampoo the carpets.  Yes, there comes a time when shampooing carpets is a welcome respite.  It doesn't happen often.  The downstairs and the steps have now been cleaned and the Bissell has been returned to its spot in the basement, there to rest for another few years.

And after cleaning the carpets and making bread dough and granola, and after Daniel and Steve spent the afternoon trimming the sycamore tree and doing other yardwork, I succeeded in grading those last few pages of exams.  I did have to make a trek to buy bubble tea, but that did the trick.  I might even finish the other chores I need to do to make the house ready for guests.  I guess Peter can graduate next week after all.

(No seniors were actually arrested in this picture; it was staged for the kindergarten class).

Saturday, May 23, 2015


For many reasons, probably having to do with grading a mountain of verb synopsis quizzes, this resonates with me right now.  Of course, most of my students overuse the hyper-active voice.  It is late in the school year, final exams looming, energy at lowest ebb, and I am very grateful for a long weekend to take a last gulp of laziness before submerging for finals week and graduation.

I've been thinking a lot about legalism and judgmentalism in our culture in the last few days as the Duggar scandal unfolds.  For all that they are part of that Bill Gothard legalistic subculture (which I am familiar with because it was prominent when and where I was growing up, but thankfully I was protected from most of it by wise parents), I find it ironic that it is the side of anti-christian bigotry that is quickest to muckrake and form a mob of zealots rushing to judgment from the dark underbelly of the internet.  I'm troubled by the cui bono question - who benefits by bringing this up now?  Certainly not the victims, as I imagine how they are feeling right now.  I do face the challenge of how to explain to Tertia, who loves the show, that all the cute kids are gone from TV now.  But that's a 1st world problem, and I'm not wasting worry on it.

Another 1st world problem... I'm mildly jittery still from last night's movie choice - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  Yep, I'd never seen it before, but it's a film classic that I suppose I needed to see. But I need to watch only light and fluffy things for the rest of the weekend now.

Tertia's school had an "Arts Night" Thursday with choir, orchestra, band and jazz band (all directed by the talented and very Hungarian Mr. Chartrey.  She has come a long way in choir, and I'm really proud of her progress there.  The theater ensemble also presented three skits, and then there was an art exhibit in the library.  I think Tertia has been lazy in art, (her piece was a page from a coloring book of a Quidditch ball from Harry Potter), so today I bought some watercolors and pastels and some sketch pads and I've decided that art will be her summer project, with Quarta as her art teacher. That should please both girls.

Peter is away at a Senior beach retreat this weekend; Quarta had an end of 7th grade party.  Daniel has a part-time job for the summer, which is great news, and still looking to take on more.  We will be having an influx of family for graduation week, and we have made arrangements to replace the roof after that.  Quarta is booked for two different summer camps and we are trying to get Tertia some day camps as well. So it will likely be a very busy summer.

And my new favorite thing is the Bubble Tea food cart on 78th street.  Blended Thai tea with Boba pearls.  I could go there every day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Randomday; Little Things, Big Things

Very few blog posts in the last months could mean that I am unusually busy, unusually distracted, unusually sad or overwhelmed by life, or unusually unproductive in the areas of quilting and knitting that are my usual blog fodder.  All of these are true, I suppose, in varying degrees.  But I still miss blogging when it doesn't happen and want to do it more.  The thing I am really struggling with is taking, organizing and editing the photos that make people want to read the stuff I write.  Because I'm always writing in my head, but I know that most people won't read it without a photo.  I can take photos of little things, organize them, and eventually blog about them (witness, these pictures of my minor domestic achievement in January, organizing my spice cabinets):
(I have three lazy susan organizers, one for herbs, one for ground spices and one for seeds and whole spices.  After a trip to Penzey's in January I organized and alphebetized them beautifully, and stored the extra spices in the restock box neatly on the top shelf).
This, unfortunately, is no longer what my spice cabinet looks like when I finally get around to blogging about it months later... but the thought was there!  In the meantime, though, an awful lot of real and meaningful family life has passed by without photo documentation, and the alphebetized caraway, celery, cumin, and dill seeds on the whole spices organizer kind of pale in comparison to the son in college, the son graduating from Cedar Tree, the daughter in 9th grade in public school special ed, the daughter in 7th grade, and the nearly 40 middle school students I have the seemingly impossible task of teaching Latin. How can anyone adequately photograph and write about all these experiences?  I tried for a few years with varying success, and I guess the moral of the story is that you can only control the little things and try to position yourself as best you can for the big things that will happen with or without your help. And ideally, be able to "let it go" when you encounter the real or perceived disapproval of others.  That's the hardest part for me and will always be so.

Last night was Senior Thesis presentation night at Cedar Tree.  Here is Peter giving his 6-minute or less presentation on his take on the Just War theory.  I am very proud of him.  He's very glad it's over, and graduation is coming up fast.

The annual Hazel Dell Parade of Bands was this morning, just a few blocks away from us.  I've blogged about it more extensively in previous years when I was, you know, blogging more extensively.  It is an amazing bit of Americana and even though I get overwhelmed by standing for a few hours with loud noises and people all around, I still love it.  This year, three of Quarta's friends accompanied her home from Peter's senior thesis night, watched a Dr. Who marathon and went to the parade all together.  There were bands from all over, local politicians, antique fire trucks, local businesses throwing around candy.  Jimmy John's gave out sandwiches, someone else had popsicles, Big Al's moving company with the map of Samoa on the side of the trucks were handing out plastic leis.  Fun times for all.

And Daniel is coming home tomorrow from his Junior year at Grove City.  We are so excited to see him again.  And only three more weeks of school for the rest of us!  Maybe, just maybe, I can shampoo the rest of the carpets before graduation.  I wouldn't go so far as to plan to clean the whole house or anything.  Just the little things are quite enough.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Quick, I need to write a Randomday post before I fall asleep from exhaustion.  I can usually manage that.

I have had this strange spring-cleaning compulsion, but not quite enough energy to do it right.  Today I cleaned the bathrooms.  I will do that if there is grading I am "supposed" to be doing.  I think those Magic Eraser things are just amazing for getting the scummy stuff off of the bathtub.  I am less impressed with the growth of the black moldy/ gunky stuff in between the shower doors, but at least it is better than it was.  There's something a bit reassuring about a bathroom that smells like bleach.

Daniel only has two weeks of his Junior year in college.  His housing group won the All-College Sing tonight on Parents' weekend, and we were able to listen in on the live broadcast for a bit.

Peter only has (... counting...) 5 weeks (well, 4 and a half) of Senior year at Cedar Tree.  He keeps taking part in long runs, swims and bike rides whenever I was hoping to take his senior pictures and plan his graduation party.  Having an official graduation party is apparently a Thing on the West Coast.  It wasn't for either Steve or me.

I took Tertia to a hip-hop dance at the Sons of Norway hall last night.  It's an activity organized by some of her friends' parents, to get more dance and social opportunities for our kids with Down syndrome and other diagnoses.  It kind of morphed into a karaoke night, and Tertia was up for that, belting out Katy Perry with the best of them.

We watched Paddington Bear with the girls tonight.  What a fun, sweet movie!  I'm continually amazed at the visual effects and computer animation today and what it's capable of.  But more than that, I think most movies today really try to do some faithful storytelling and character representation.  More so than was the norm in my young days.

Another beautiful day of sunshine today.  I finally did get around to grading a little, sitting outside in the breeze.