Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

The night of flashy noise is upon us. In an hour or so, Jeff and I are going over to our neighbor's home for a New Year's party. Marie Helene has stockpiled French wines, chocolates, and cheeses, and I'm bringing Mexican dip with tortilla chips (they wanted something common to the US). These are our French/German neighbors, the ones who've helped us start the furnace, figure out how to fill the radiators, and basically function on a day to day basis. They've been more than hospitable, and I'm so glad they live only five doors down. Ten cheers for people like Oliver and Marie Helene.

I also love that their house is not immaculate, so I feel comfortable inviting them into my home once and awhile. Which is a mélange of dog hair, stacks of books, coffee cups, and piled CDs.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rome Photos

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of this little guy in green as he posed for his parents.

Susan, Dad, and Beth walking towards the Pantheon.

Two young Swiss guards at the front of St. Peter's in Vatican City.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Two of my kids showed me this video. I have to admit, the choreography is surprisingly good.
Me and treadmills are not a good mix. The treadmill always wins.

Time for Fun & Games

So, it's been fun to have the five of us back together in one house. I bought Die Siedler von Catan /Settlers of Catan for a family Christmas present and we sat down to play it yesterday. There's a bit of strategy involved, but thank God, not like chess, so I'll survive. The game turned into an evening-long marathon, but now that the basic rules are explained, I won't be reading multiple chapters of my book between certain people's turns (Jeff??). Our two oldest children love this game, so I want to give it another chance in a few days.

This evening, Anna and her friend and I played Balderdash, a game where everyone makes up fake definitions of unusual words, and then we try to guess the real definition amongst the fakes. One of the better games out there! Here are a few of the real words that we picked:

wallydrag--the runt of the litter
ghawazee--Egyptian dancing girls
oikofugic--an incredible desire to wander
whiffler--one who clears the way for a procession
bonnyclabber--sour curdled milk

Well, it's off to bed for me. Anyone for a nice warm cup of bonnyclabber first?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Birth Day

For any birth makes an inconvenient demand;
Like all holy things
It is frequently a nuisance, and its needs never end;
Strange freedom it brings: we should welcome release
From its long merciless rehearsal of peace.
So Christ comes
At the iron senseless time, comes
To force the glory into frozen veins:
His warmth wakes
Green life glazed in the pool, wakes
All calm and crystal trance with living pains.

from the poem "Christmas and Common Birth" -- by Anne Ridler

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crunch Time

Just sent something off by email to an editor who wanted a revision of one of my picture book stories. So here's hoping...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Water Lilies

Even though it's nowhere near spring, these water lilies in an Italian farm pond reminded me that after rain and fog and sprinklings of snow and icy days, spring will arrive again.
"Never lose a holy curiousity," Einstein said; and so I lift my microscope down from the shelf, spread a drop of duck pond on the glass slide, and try to look spring in the eye. -- Annie Dillard, from "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dan

Well, Dan, have a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Here's a fitting proverb for you..."BUKE BUKE BUKOMEZA IGIHONYI" (Slowly slowly the banana ripens) Found it on Eric Riley's website. Hope you have many more years of ripening!

P.S. For other readers of the blog, Dan is my brother--and currently lives in Burundi, Africa with his family--although one son attends college in Oregon, and two younger sons go to high school in Kenya. So he's experiencing the "empty nest" earlier than most.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Advent 1 Meditation

I saw this on Mill Road Messenger's site and liked it. Images--Bob Carlton, Music--Paul Simon.

Woe Unto Me

I did a terrible thing.

Yesterday was St. Nicholas Day here in Germany. The evening before, I was at the store with Anna and her friend, buying supplies, when I spotted a stash of chocolate candy. With no thought for innocent ears, I asked Anna, " Do you want peppermint chocolate in your St. Nicholas boot? Or would you rather I buy dark chocolate? Maybe both?" I didn't realize until Anna pulled me aside a minute later and whispered in my ear, "Mom, Kasie still believes in St. Nicholas..." that I'd pretty much proclaimed to all kids within hearing range: "Santa Claus=Your Parents."

Now, in my defense, Kasie is twelve years old, but she still believes in Santa's existence. I guess she told Anna, "You don't believe in Santa and that's the reason you don't get gifts from him. That's why your mom and dad have to do it." So it seems her faith is unshaken. And Anna is happy too, just as long as the boot is filled one way or another.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh, The Joys

Oh, the joys of a new camera (early Christmas present from Jeff) -- I received it just in time for Italy. So, without further ado, some pics from my trip:

The three sisters -- Beth, Susan & Laurie
An olive farm in Lucca
Dad and Mom with their Nordic walking sticks

Monday, December 04, 2006

In the Lap of Luxury

Who has the cushiest place to sleep in our house? Couldn't be this four-legged beast...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Will Miracles Never Cease?

From the New York Times: Germany announced today that it would seek to ban smoking in restaurants, discotheques, schools and other public buildings — but not in pubs, bars or under beer tents.
Mind you, this from a country that has cigarette vending machines on practically every corner! I've gradually become accustomed to the smoke, but every time friends and family visit, they cough and comment on the thick haze in restaurants and airport halls. So, it is indeed a miracle. Or at least the beginning of one.

Olive Trees Forever

What a time in Tuscany! I'll write more about it later this week. The best part of course, was seeing my parents and sisters. And then, the Tuscan countryside...once I read the instruction booklet on how to download photos from my new camera, I'll post pictures. Such distinctive light and color in that part of the world. I'd forgotten that olive trees have a sort of silvery tint to the leaves. And that olives are all types of colors, from a hundred shades of green to purplish to black.

I have to mention our tour guide, David Macchi. The first day, I thought, "Oh, he's nice." The second day: "He really knows what he's talking about." And the third day? "Wow!" David began playing opera selections on our bus as we rolled through the countryside (including the songs of Andrea Bocelli, an operatic tenor from Tuscany). Later that afternoon, and for the rest of the tour, David surprised us by singing some opera himself. The combination of music and scenery? Nothing better!

If you know me at all, you'll know that I loved the foods of Italy, too. Visiting all the tiny pasticcerias and formaggio shops--pure heaven. Since I wasn't returning to the States, I brought home some peccorino, chocolate paneforte (a type of almond and honey spice cake) and a bottle of Tuscan wine tucked into my checked suitcase. Maybe I can find a recipe on the web for the paneforte, it would be nice for Christmas. About the only Italian food I wouldn't care to try? Well, that would be tripe. And any related cow organs.