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Life Goes On

Whoa! Long time passing. Painted our house blue. Sawyer is a junior in high school. Madeleine a freshmen. Major adjustments everywhere. After Christmas I moved my studio from the basement to the sitting room. I have always loathed basements. The sitting room is across from my bedroom so I cannot ignore the canvas on my easel. I am pleased with how it is coming along.

Russell Potter's Pyg - Well Aimed Satire?

Pyg: The Memoirs of Toby, the Learned PigPyg: The Memoirs of Toby, the Learned Pig by Russell Potter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In what purports,tongue in cheek, to be a memoir, Russell Potter recounts the life and times of Toby, the sapient pig. Narrowly escaping the butcher, Toby along with his human friend Sam serendipitously find themselves at an extraordinary farm where the animals are treated as family. Turns out that they are trained for a traveling animal act, thus Toby learns to read. He them makes his way to Oxford, later to London where he is the toast of the town. He meets with the era's clerisy including S. Johnson. Toby's journey is sometimes fraught with potholes, most of which are the product of the small mindedness of the humans he encounters. Here satire is intended, but never to any satisfactory effect. The story had its moments, but I was never drawn into the plot. In my reading career, I have struggled with animal protagonists;this does not include children's books such as Winnie the Pooh. Yet, I don't think that is what hampered me. I just didn't really cotton to the story as a whole. Skated through bits.

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It's been a while

Today I had to cut my glorious sage way back because it had acquired a fungus. Puttered around for the most part. As it is Sunday I am in a thankful mood. I suppose everyday I am more thankful than I can say for my 33 year friendship with Amanda Jones Nolff. After all she can make me laugh and smile when almost no one else can. Looking forward to the next 33.

Amanda and my sweet Twig a few years back


Catching up

I have posted so little here in the last year. Big events: Sawyer started high school and had a great year. Took driver's ed. It was a rather big adjustment for him, but he fared excellently. Madeleine moved from her little charter school to the the public middle school and ended up as the Most Outstanding Student of the Year besides managing, at the ancient age of 12, to qualify as a National Merit Scholar. She continued performing at The Flat Rock Playhouse. Joey joined two new bands, Blind Lemon & The Vinyl Brothers, plus still has his two other bands. I had the best bunch of students that I have had in a long time. Read a lot, and began painting again. The beginning to paint again si huge because I thought I had lost the knack. I am currently working on a painting of a doorway of a ceramics shop in Portugal. The doorway is surrounded by painted plates and has a display of tangines on risers beside it. It is coming along well, but I feel a bit timid about messing up. That is something I never really thought much about before. I stopped doing any serious painting before the children were born, partly for want of a studio and partly from laziness. Now I have been able te set up a studio which is fairly nice, not ideal, but nice enough. Plenty of room to work, plus no worries about messing up the floor or rugs. I am very pleased about that. And we adopted the Lucia, the most beautiful cat in the world.

Natural wonders of WNC

I have the advantage of living in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since it is a more elderly mountain chain than one such as the Rockies it has been weathered and honed to something less than that majestic mountains of the West, but has a mellow beauty. Typically, I get very caught up in the day to day aspects of life, and I seldom get out into the mountains. Week before last Amanda, who has been my best friend since 1979, and I took our kids to some falls in the area, Hooker Falls in Dupont Forest. Now mind you this is all of fifteen minutes from our house, but I had never been there! In the forest there are number of falls including Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls which were used in the movie The LAst of the Mochicans, stunning places I hear. However, we opted for Hooker Falls, a lower, less awesome falls because it has a safe swimming hole. We hope to go back soon and hike to the higher falls, though they really must be given a wide berth as they are deadly.

Amanda and I were able to sit on the rock ledge, keeping an eye on our children and the copperhead that had residence in the rocks about 10 feet from us. Seems not to have had any family around, just out enjoying the sun. We were ready to haul our ancient carcasses out of his way if we decided on more than a sun bath. Ah! Nature!

The kids making their way to the fall. My friend's son John, the youngest of the group, was determined to go behind the fall. They had great fun going behind the rock and sliding down. I was amazed at how game Madeleine was since she is the one who is the most suspicious of nature, but she went right along.

John going for a slide!

Nancy, John, Sawyer (elf) and Madeleine (twig). As you can see twig is more like sapling now. elf is still a little guy for his age, 15 1/2.

What Have I Been Doing this Summer?

To be honest, I haven't been doing much of anything since soon after the break began, I was checking a spot on the ceiling and coming down from the chair I did not see the cat, and when I did, to avoid squashing her, I stepped down all wrong and messed up my foot. I have been reading and painting, two good activities for the less than mobile. In fact, I think in the last week I have read something like 4 books. The foot is on the mend, and I should be getting more active soon.

As for the cat, I don't think I ever mentioned that back in January, on Anton Chekhov's birthday, we adopted a cat. She was an anniversary gift from my husband. She came with a name attached, Lucia; we call her that and lucy. Having a cat with my nickname & confirmation name is a bit odd. Of course no one really calls me Lucy much anymore, opting for my given first name. Her full name is Lucia Katniss (twig's addition) Chekhov. I may be partial but I must say she is the smartest, sweetest cat ever. She even plays fetch. As far as her looks go, she is a tabby with a lovely coat. This is my little girl:

If she has a bad quality it is that sometimes she will pout. But she is so darn cute when she pouts that it is hard to call that a bad quality. I am totally smitten

Growing Up!

I have just returned from taking Madeleine, my newly teen-aged daughter, to her 5th regional science fair. This year she did not advance to state, but still did herself proud. Last week she celebrated her 13th birthday in a year of massive changes for her. At the beginning of the school year, she decided it was time to hop into a bigger pond after having been at the same small charter school since kindergarten. It was a difficult choice for her, but it was becoming increasingly clear that she needed more challenges and opportunities. Her interest in drama, chorus, and running, were partly to play in the move, but she also wanted more academic challenges. Within a few weeks of changing school, she ran for a student government and became vice president of her class, joined the cross country team and had slews of new friends. I never would have been brave enough to make that leap myself, but she jumped in with both feet and it has been beautiful to see. A couple of Saturdays ago she took the SATs as part of Duke's talent search program, and now spends a few hours a week researching colleges and scholarships. I would like to keep my baby close by, but in no time she will really be ready to fly from her home. It has been a rocky journey these two years as she has strained against the imagined indignities of childhood but still held by the fear of adulthood. And for some weird reason her hair is getting wavy.

Snow Days

Tomorrow will be the 4th day the kids have been out of school for snow. Today was an optional teacher workday, and I opted out imagining I would get some work done at home. Well, I didn't Tomorrow is another optional workday. I suppose I will try to make my way in although the roads on our side of the mountain are pretty bad.


Jan. 11th, 2011

Last year's reading tended toward the lackluster. I gave up on more books that I have ever give up on in my life. Hoping to remedy the situation I decided to use the gift certificate I was given at Christmas to pick out some books that had come either highly recommended by readers I trust or were by authors I had read and held in high regard. Two of the books I choose were Plainsong by Kent Haruf and </i>The Master of Go</i> by Yasanari Kawabata. Both were enjoyable, but Kawabata's deftness of style makes reading a delight, even in the case of this subject matter, the narration of a Go match. Here is my review:
The Master of Go chronicles the progress of a championship Go match, one which spanned nearly half a year. When I picked out this book, I wondered will I need to know anything about the game Go for this book to meaningful to me? As I flipped through the pages I saw illustrations of the placement of the stones on the Go board showing the games progression. This was not encouraging. I was leery. My knowledge of Go would not make a hurdle for even a pygmy amoeba. Furthermore, I do not really like games which are purely strategic. Worse still, I really dislike games that last more than a couple of hours. However, I was armed with a book store gift certificate and a short list of books I wanted to buy with the certificate. Any book by Kawabata was on that short list. And this was the only one by the Nobel Laurette. I went with it and am glad I did. As always, Kawabata weaves a deft story, this one of tradition and change on the eve of the WWII. While the focal point of the story is the chronicling of the Go match between the reigning Master and his would be heir to the title, the between session jockeying is a subtle study in personality and generational attitudes. It is hard not to sympathize both with the old guard and the new. One night about three-fourths of the the way through the book I was too sleepy to continue with the chapter I was reading. Unfortunately for me, I left off right before an important play was made. That night I dreamed of Go. I'd wake up and try to return to sleep, but again I dreamed of the game and the play that Otake might make. I woke up and finished the chapter. Obviously my only defensive strategy if I wanted to not be hounded by Go in my dreams.

This picture depicts the contestants of the actual Go match that is semi-fictionalized in Kawabata's novel

Murder and Death by the Sea

It does appear that Murder and Death by the Sea are the latest theme in my reading, as I am now reading Rebecca after having recently finished Bonjour Trieste. Rebecca is one of those books that it seems every girl bitten by the reading bug has read by her twenties, but not I. I am not sure how I missed it. Vaguely I remember my mother having a copy of Jamaica Inn lying about when I was ten or so. And, vaguely again, I remember reading a page or two thinking it dull. However, Rebecca is proving to be quite fun reading.

The last few weeks have been busy for us. For one, having three performers in the family; Joey, Whitney and Madeleine, means that at this time a year we are often working around someone's concert appearances. Since Madeleine is still well below driving age, Sawyer and I are usually in the role of chauffeur and entourage.

Last time I checked in here the kids and I were preparing to make gingerbread men, and we did. We all had a fabulous time since May had a friend who had never decorated cookies before, plus my step-daughter. Our ginger cookies now grace the tree in our family room. Tomorrow we will make and decorate sugar cookies.



"And I quote"

Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job. - Adali Stevenson

He who feels punctured must have been a bubble - from the Tao Te Ching

The universe is made of stories not atoms - Muriel Rukeyser


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