Sunday, August 30, 2009


This is where I have been spending a lot of time lately. When people first started having PC's in the home they sort of became addictive. It was just such an awesome thing. The kids who have been born in the past ten years won't understand what a novelty it was for some of us.

I was an addictee when we first got one in the home, then I got away from that thankfully. Now a bit of me has become like that again. I've started this blog and another, I'm typing instead of writing out my lesson plans, I'm on Facebook, and there are always emails to check and websites to investigate (usually teacher websites I like exploring).

Lately my computer has been really slow...I mean sssllllloooooooowww. I'm a patient person. Unlike my husband, who will walk away if it doesn't do what he wants it to immediately, I stick it out. I wait...and wait...and wait...for something I need to load. It's funny, but lately I've sensed a lot more tension in my body than usual. The back of my neck has been aching and burning, and I've had a number of headaches.

Just yesterday the man who helps me with computer issues came over and installed some memory on my computer, updated our virus software, and removed some of the things that come with computers that you never use.

After he left (I didn't have much time because we had evening plans) I came in and clicked explorer only to have my home page almost instantly appear. I felt this huge weight lift from me. I'm starting to wonder if my stress, the tension I felt and headaches I've had are somehow related to the amount of time I've spent sitting here waiting and waiting and waiting, bound and determined to get that picture loaded, that blog written, and those lesson plans done.

I hope so. I am trying to simplify my life in a lot of ways. One is that I really do not want to live on the computer. Life is too short. Technology is a tool, not a way to spend hours and hours of my life. I hope this means the end of the extra tension and headaches.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Earlier Visit

Back in March I posted about an experience I had, one of feeling the presence of someone near me on a stressful occasion, someone who had died. It was a calming experience. I knew that one day I would write about the one other time in my life when something similar happened.

The thing is that I was only five years old. It was shortly after my maternal grandmother (Mammaw) died. Having been so young when she died, I really don't remember that much about her. I just have this image in my mind when I think of her. I have very vague memories, if that is what they are, of her being around. My sister being seven years older than I, was very close to Mammaw, and I know it was a hard time for her and my mother.

I have this feeling that Mammaw wasn't a real happy person. When I do think of her, I picture her as in an old photograph we have around somewhere. She was only a a couple of years older than I am now when she died, yet when I look at the photos of her, she seemed so much older. I guess life was harder then. I've heard she was very different than Pappaw. He was the playful, silly one; she was the serious one. My mother was their only child. Maybe my mother will talk to me about her one day in a little more detail.

What happened is that I believe Mammaw visited me, and I feel she did so to say goodbye to me. All I remember is being in bed in the bedroom I shared with my sister. I remember waking up and opening my eyes. I felt her presence and I saw what I believe was the dark outline of a shadow. Of course, being five years old it frightened me to no end and I hid under the covers and eventually fell back asleep.

That memory has lived with me all my life. I haven't shared it with too many people. I once worried that someone would think I was off my rocker. Actually, the response has been an overwhelming belief that this was a real experience and I should have faith that it was just what I feel it was. For many many years I never told my mother, but I eventually did. I still think about it once in awhile. It had to have been real. How could a five year old's brain retain something like that? I have no answer to that question, but I did and still do think about that event, now 48 years later.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ever since I went to see Julie and Julia a few days ago, I've been cooking up a storm...for me anyway. I've signed up for something called Farm Fresh Delivery (my first delivery is this Friday), I've visited a local Farmer's Market, and I've run by a local farmer's roadside stand to pick up around four dozen ears of sweet corn (some to eat this week and some to freeze for winter)....the last unfortunately.

On Saturday I made both chili and Italian beef. Also on Saturday I got a call from a friend who has a garden bursting with zucchini and she called to beg me to take some. I did. Especially since she so kindly even grated enough for me to make four loaves of zucchini bread, delivered it to my house, and even brought a couple of recipes typed out.

Tonight when I got home from school (and it was practically night since I didn't leave school until 5:15 p.m.) I put on some kale to boil, broke green beans to steam, put the Italian beef in the oven to reheat, mixed up two loaves of zucchini bread which are now in the oven, and will probably go back after posting this to put on some water for sweet corn.

Here is my mother-in-law's recipe for Italian beef:

Ingredients: 5 to 7 lb. rump roast, 2-3 cps. of water, 2-3 beef bouillon cubes, 1 t. marjoram (I actually used some from a small herb garden I grew on my deck this year), 1 t. thyme, 1 t. oregano, 5 drops Tabasco sauce, 2 t. garlic powder or 1 clove minced, 2 T. Worchestershire sauce, 1 c. green pepper (more really) chopped or sliced into thin strips (I prefer sliced), salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Cook beef 40 minutes per pound at 325 deg. Remove, cool, and slice thin. Add water, bouillon, etc. to juices (in same pan). Simmer 15 minutes. I put that same pan right over the burner or flame of my stove. Add sliced beef. Marinate 4 to 5 hours or overnight. Heat before serving on rolls. Do not boil, just simmer.

This recipe is somewhat like the chili I make because you can play around with it a little. You can add more bouillon if you want a stronger beef flavor, use herbs to your own taste, use minced hot peppers of some kind (I did this weekend using the peppers I got at the Farmer's Market) and adjust for how spicy you want it, and you can chop or slice the green peppers. Also, I like a lot of green peppers to put on the sandwich with the meat and juices.

Also, for bread I don't use plain old buns. I use rolls, preferably hard rolls which I've had trouble finding lately, but did find them at Kroger. This allows you to pile on the beef, peppers, and pour some of the broth (au jus) right on the sandwich. It really is best to leave the beef marinating overnight for more flavor.

Enjoy...I'm off to check on my works in progress.

I'll never attempt to be Julia Child, but then I've found good tasting food doesn't have to be difficult. Au jus just may be the only french cooking term I do know. Oh, and bon appetit (even though this is an Italian recipe).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Good Golly Miss Molly!

Meet Molly. She isn't in sight too often. Since we got the first and then the second dog, she sometimes goes into hiding. They have all adjusted though, and she pretty much has learned to behave in the typically feline fashion...aloof....around the dogs, instead of running from them.

For some reason, she refuses to drink water from a bowl. Actually she probably does since I do provide water for her, but as is typical of cats, she wants to do things her way and would never allow me see her drink from the bowl. So when I am in the kitchen she occasionally hops up on the counter (I can hear the non-animal people gasping) and I know she wants a drink. I turn on a slow steady stream and there she goes.

Of course, she does it when I am cooking off of clean counters and don't particularly want to have her on the counter. Note the muffin tins in the background. We had chili with corn muffins for dinner tonight. No one complained about finding a hair in their muffin, so I guess we escaped discovery.

Saturday Morning Excursion

Although it would have been easy for me to lounge in bed a bit longer this morning (the first Saturday following the beginning of school) I didn't. Instead I invited my husband to go with me to the Zionsville Farmers Market (thanks to my friend Janet who wrote about this in one of her blog entries). Ed isn't one to stroll and just enjoy the moment sometimes, but it was good for us to do something together and to get out of the house.

We did a walk through of the market first and went around a couple of more times to buy what we thought was the most and best for the money. We picked up a cantaloupe (which is called in Indiana a muskmelon and is somewhat different looking and better tasting than a plain cantaloupe), tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, peaches, chili sauce, sausage (his pick), rosemary/olive oil bread, and lastly (with all the cash we had left) this beautiful bouquet of flowers.

He seemed to enjoy it, although I did have to encourage him to relax and stroll, and not become his "efficiency expert" self. We should have brought the dogs. There were dogs time.

I think we have to learn to do these sorts of things together more frequently and rediscover ourselves. When you are raising children you are going every which way and are so busy all the time. It is hard to learn to spend one-on-one time together again. We are entering a new phase.

Of course on the way home, he fell into one of his favorite things to do...explore...go a different way...get lost sort of (but not admit it). He's never really had a hobby other than that he reads a lot....maybe something to do with cartography, not that there are any places in the world left unexplored. I know...he could be the person who creates better directions for online services, since they never give you the most efficient route.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Could I Possibly.... thinking of autumn. I don't know if it is because summer seems over to me when school starts. I don't know if it is because I was truly satisfied by this summer. I was. It was the closest thing to the summers I remember as a youngster in a long long time...warm days, cool nights, rain enough for the farmers. I don't know if it is because my life is changing since all of the girls are out of high school. Maybe it is just because I love living in Indiana for one important reason. The change of seasons. I love it. I love change.

So for some reason I started thinking about autumn today...the leaves, the crispy days that require a hoodie, layering my clothes, the smell in the air, pumpkins, fall festivals, the orchard, sitting around a bonfire, pots of chili on the stove.

I guess it does have something to do with being back at school, like the opening scene in You've Got Mail when Joe Fox is writing to Kathleen Kelly: "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

I think I'll go get my sweaters out of storage.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Stand Corrected

After posting the previous and "gifting" it to my parents, my mother told me I had just a couple of things mixed up. The first and not all that important is that my father had just been discharged from the Navy, but he was in uniform. Secondly, and more important, my mother did not turn 18 on her wedding day, she turned 17.

My mother was an only child, living in a small town in southern Indiana, getting married on her 17th birthday. Oh, she was also already expecting her first child. If it was scandalous at the time, which maybe it was, does it really matter after 62 years? I don't think it was a shotgun wedding. My grandfather might not have been very happy about it but it wasn't that. They wanted to be married. Look at what happened...four children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. The most important thing is a marriage that has lasted for 62 years.

They didn't get married in a church. It was a civil service. On their 50th we four children put together the celebration they never had...the whole shebang...a big reception, the cake, a slide show video with music, a limo, dinner and a hotel, and lots of family and friends.

I just figured out I would have to live to be 91 to be married for 62 years....not so sure about that.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ode to Mommy and Daddy

Happy 79th birthday to my mother (tomorrow, August 16). It also happens to be my parents' wedding anniversary (the 62nd). My mother was just turning 17 when my parents married. That is amazing to me. She was born in 1930 and my father in 1927.

Those were the years of The Great Depression. I'm not sure they had a sense of the economic situation in the country at the time because they were born into it. I think that has a lot to do with what they instilled in me. I think that is why it was natural in our family not to focus on things, but instead using the imagination, and spending lots of time reading.

Neither one of them is well educated in the conventional sense. They did not go to college. My father did not complete high school, although a few years ago the Salem Indiana School Board issued him an honorary degree because of his service to the country.

He joined the Navy during WWII. He didn't see action but was on a ship, and I've heard some amazing stories about what goes on with sailors on those ships, e.g. the ceremony that takes place when a sailor crosses the equator for the first time.

Not being educated didn't mean a whole lot in their lives. My father was skilled and worked for a radio/television place, then in civil service at Ft. Harrison, and then part time again in an appliance store up until a few years ago. He used his hands. And he is smart. He should have been an engineer. He's one of those naturally handy guys who could fix anything.

My mother was born in Salem, Indiana. My father was born nearby in a town you usually can't find on an Indiana map, Fredericksburg. Both were born at home. My father first spotted my mother at the Salem roller skating rink. He was a sailor on leave and was too shy to ask her to skate, so a friend asked her for him. He was a sailor in uniform. Need I say more? My mother wasn't too shy to say yes.

So they were married on my mother's 17th birthday. My sister was born less than a year later, followed by my older brother, me, and my younger brother...girl, boy, girl, boy...that's us.

My mother stayed at home, my father worked....sometimes two jobs. She did kid duty. Dad came home, ate dinner, and rested. He had the boys involved in community sports. There weren't community sports for girls back then, so we girls hung out with mom. Even if they weren't formally educated, they saw that we were. They let the school and teachers do their job. There weren't helicopter parents in those days. If we caused problems in school, we'd answer for it. I don't think any of us ever had to answer because we behaved. It's just what you did. My mother was friends with other mothers, and they were in the PTA. We came home to eat lunch and went back to school in the afternoon. We attended the neighborhood school and walked there and back home.

I mentioned my father should have been an engineer. Well my mother should have been a nurse. Dad has had some pretty major health problems for around 27 years off and on. We call him the Everready Bunny. We thank God he's gotten through it all so far and has been around to see all of his grandchildren born, and many of them all the way through high school and into college. My mother continues to take care of all of his needs. He's spoiled, and he knows it I think.

So today (actually it is tomorrow but I'll be celebrating with the family, not blogging) I honor them both for all they have done for me, for my brothers and sister, and for our children. I love them both more than I can express. Happy 79th birthday mom, and happy 62nd anniversary mom and dad!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Great Meal With A Surprise

Tonight we had the best meal of all meals, mainly due to its simplicity and the fact that as it turned out only two meals were needed, one for Ed and one for me. Mary wasn't hungry and Erin was going to her boyfriend's house. That means no cooking an entree because we happened to have some leftovers..only enough for the two of us.

We had eaten at Macaroni Grill a couple of nights ago. Restaurant portions have gotten out of control. Ed had a pork chop left, and I had spaghetti and one large meatball left. As sides we had leftover (from home) stir fry veggies mixed with....also leftover...rice. The only thing fresh was the Indiana corn I picked up today from a local farmer whose sons grow sweet corn each year (which is planted weekly for six weeks, so as to produce a bountiful, delicious six-week long crop).

It was a great meal and an easy meal. There was one interesting thing about one of the ears of corn. I've never, ever seen this. I am the product of a family of farmers. While my father didn't farm, my uncles and grandfather did. I've picked, shucked and eaten loads of sweet corn. Do you see it? The itty bitty baby corn growing inside its....mother?

By the way, I am buying a couple of dozen extra ears this last week to parboil, cut off the cob, and serve at Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Little Women: Its Meaning to Me

Finally, the last one. What it meant to me.

I just thought those four sisters had so much fun together. They used their imaginations. I was definitely an "imagination girl" growing up. They made it seem fun to be poor. I didn't have a lot growing up, but I had love. I didn't have a lot of things, but I had my imagination. It gave me a true appreciation for the mind. I play acted like they did. I was swept away by my dreams. I had what was called a "rag bag" (probably because that is what it was called when my mother was young). The rag bag was like a pillow case probably and it was full of old clothes, shoes, purses, and jewelry my mother was no longer using. I played dress up often with those throw aways.

We used to set up fairs in the back yard, makeshift booths of games we made up similar to ring toss, etc. We even had rides (the swing set, the slide). You paid a nickel probably for each game or ride. Then we had money to buy penny candy at the store. That's something you don't see any longer. My brothers took old bike parts and pieces of wood and built go carts which we'd ride down the alley. I could go on and on. The point is that we used our imaginations and what little resources that were on hand. We took such pleasure in simple things, as did the March girls.

I wanted to have an attic space like the March family (I sort of do today). I used to love to go into my grandma and grandpa's attic space and look through old boxes of stuff, including some navy uniforms that had belonged to my uncles and my father, a raccoon coat that had belonged to an aunt of mine, etc. My attic is a mess, but a mecca for a child who has an imagination and wants to explore. One day...when grandchildren come, I hopefully will still have it.

The March girls were a little bit old fashioned and a little bit ahead of their time. I'm a little like that. Their old fashioned way of life, wearing long dresses, making do with what they had to gather Christmas gifts for Marmee...that all appealed to the little girl me. At the same time, Marmee was ahead of her time. She pushed her girls to be independent and self-sufficient. She didn't want them to marry just to be taken care of. She wanted them to marry and be happy, whether they married someone with money to support them or not. She wanted them to be honest and have self-respect.

Finally, what can I say...I ended up having four daughters of my own. I've been a sort of Marmee I think. I hope I've taught them to appreciate the simple things. When they were small, we had a lot less than now, but more than some. I never bought them game systems or electronics. I mostly encouraged them to pretend. They had dress up clothes. I exposed them to many of the old movies and musicals. I remember when their high school put on Bye Bye Birdie, Cate and Kelly came home and were astounded that so many of their peers had never even heard of it (not that it is up there with quality musicals). We always read aloud. We made cookies, we played board games. Sometimes we had...gosh I forget what we called it...but a sort of night when we pretended we were living before electricity. They made tents using blankets over furniture, or we'd set up a tent and sleep outside in the back yard.

As they were growing up I would try to match their personality with that of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. They didn't fit perfectly, but it did seem that each of them shared certain characteristics of the March girls. Beth was the sensitive musician. That was Kelly, who has often told me..."Thanks mom, I'm the one who dies." Cate was Jo for her acting. Mary matched up with Amy who liked to use big words, often mispronouncing them (it's TRUE Mary), and that left Meg and Erin, who I think share some characteristics, although Erin may be a mix of different ones.

Well, you can maybe see why I've had a connection with this wonderful book. It all began with reading and becoming immersed in the lives of the March girls. I was right there with them...I felt like I was one of them. The rest just fell into place in my life.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Boob Tube

There's a reason it has been called this. Just for fun I decided to run down the channels and check out the quality of television on a Sunday night (almost Monday morning).
*Huckabee debating health care
*True crime show about an Interstate Bank Mark Robber (called IBM bandit)
*To Catch a Predator
*More how to handle health care
*Show Biz - Men Over 40 Women Love
*Discovery Health (mystery diagnosis about a woman who feels pain in her arms)
*SyFy show which looks like it is depicting the end of the world
*Someone singing and wanting to be paid some money (1-800 number across the screen)
*Uma Thurman/John Travolta movie...what's that called?
*Someone in a tank shooting at a junk car in the desert
*Ad for Payless, Ad for Resolve carpet cleaner
*Ad for pasta, Ad for Lexus
*Talk about teaching parents to turn it all off, set their child on their lap, and read to them
*Food channel show focusing on something made with lots of beans
*FX...some guy talking about a naked girl
*HGTV show about a couple refurbishing a very messy home exterior
*Drop Dead Diva (haven't watched it from start to finish but have heard a lot about it lately)
*Ruby (have seen glimpses and heard a little about it, but am not familiar with it)
*Butterfinger commercial
*Walmart Fruit of the Loom underwear commercial (get colorful underwear for the family at reduced prices)
*Country Music video
*Man wrestling a tiger
*Police catching someone with a stolen vehicle
*Guys on bike ramps
*USGA recap
*Cubs baseball recap
*Cary Grant/Sophia Loren movie
*Adult swim animated claymation type show
*Nanny rerun
*Another "trying to figure out what is medically wrong with this person" show
*Weird disfiguring disease medical show
*Some true crime thing
*What might have killed the dinosaurs - big blast theory
*Joan Rivers roast
*MASH rerun
*Mongolian wild horses
*blood and violence
*Last Holiday (Queen Latifah)
*Local high school channel
*Weather channel
*Credits for an ending show (I'd better hurry...almost midnight)
*Talk show - Chelsea Lately
*Infomercial trying to sell a book about how to get "Free Money"
*Meeting of the Metropolitan Development Commission
*Hip Hop
*Education Channel Schedule for the week
*Local news - race recap
*More credits
*Ad for a chefs academy
*Gospel Legends music infomercial
*Yogurt commercial
*Religious channel - movie of Jesus in the Garden (it's not even Easter)
*Mattress commercial
*Safe Auto commercial
*Public television trying to raise money
*ESPN baseball recap
So what do you think? An unbelievable waste of time?
(Photo courtesy of

Friday, August 7, 2009

Little Women Part 2: The Movies

I've seen all the movie versions I am aware that exist. While I adore Katherine Hepburn as Jo (1933), that isn't my favorite. The acting is too close to what you would see in a silent film for my liking.

My favorite from a classic movie perspective is the one with June Allyson as Jo (1949). She does an excellent job capturing the spirit of Jo. That film also includes Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, Margaret O’Brien as Beth and Janet Leigh as Meg.

There is a television version I recently discovered and purchased on DVD. Susan Dey played Jo, and's just awful. The costuming and sets are so terrible you feel like you are watching The Brady Bunch. In fact Eve Plumb from The Brady Bunch is actually in this film, and I didn't even realize it until I paused just now to check out the year it was made. It was made in 1978 and doesn't that explain a lot.

If you watch this video you'll see what I mean. Look at the color of the walls in the bedroom at this party scene a minute or so into the clip. People just didn't paint their walls that color during the Civil War, nor would the carpet color have been that blue. In fact, I doubt if people had wall-to-wall carpeting in 1861. Susan Dey's hair pretty much looks like the way she wore it in The Partridge Family. It just has the feel of a high school production at best and if you know and love this story the way I do, this just doesn't cut it.

My true favorite thus far (and who knows if someone will attempt a movie version again) is the most recently produced version (1994). The cast includes Winona Ryder as Jo, Kirsten Dunst as young Amy, Claire Danes as Beth, Christian Bale as Laurie, and Susan Sarandon as Marmee. I had a hard time at first accepting Claire Danes as Beth. I think it is because of her role in My So-Called Life, but I got over it. There was just something about this film that made me suspend disbelief. It made me cry. I was there.

The story has always been a holiday story to me, and the movie is now also in my collection of Christmas movies I watch each year.

The only downside of any movie adaptation of a novel of this size is that things need to be cut, things that I felt were important to the story. Unfortunately, I suppose, that is necessary unless someone in the future wants to make another Gone With the Wind.

Next time….what this story has meant to me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Seasons Change

I have very mixed emotions about starting school again and thinking of the end of summer.

I'm not complaining. It has been a good summer and I know a lot of that is because of NOT having a foot surgery (I've done that two out of the last four or five summers), because of HAVING a vacation, and because I have really LOVED the weather this summer.

I don't know why I've heard grumbling about cooler weather and a little rain. Most often Indiana in August consists of dead, brown grass and high heat and humidity. I don't think anyone can complain about some rain. We haven't had so much rain that we've had flooding. We've had the kind of rain farmers appreciate and need.

The cooler weather and low humidity have been great. There is nothing better than having windows open, especially at night when you can hear the crickets or cicadas, and can drift away feeling a cool breeze against your skin.

I look forward to a new bunch of students to experience, leaves falling, pumpkins, fresh apple cider, trick or treaters, bonfires and such.

Seasons change and I enjoy change. Being a teacher and experiencing the end of a school year, and then getting excited about starting again, is something people in other careers don't get to enjoy. I'd argue with anyone who says teachers don't work hard. Most of us take classes, read professionally and/or make plans for the coming year during the summer, but these little transitions that go along with the holidays and seasons are refreshing to the spirit.

When I am buying new things and making plans for a new school year, I always sense some wistfulness in my husband who just has to keep plugging along with not so many breaks.

Teaching through the seasons in Indiana is great. It won't be long before we are praying for a snow day though.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Parental Rite of Passage

I just returned from a two-day orientation session for Mary at DePaul University in Chicago. Ed, Mary and I spent the first day together, and then they separated us for the second day, although I know many of the same topics were covered, albeit from two very different perspectives.

This is the fourth time we've been through a college orientation (and another will be the last). While not all of them were at the same school, they do have a lot in common. The same things are covered...housing, transportation, scheduling, time management, getting banking set up, financial aid, and on and on and on. The real juxtaposition occurs when we parents sit in on sessions run by current student panels and staff, and are shown things through what I know (because I've been through this before) but other parents don't know (because they are first timers) are rose-colored glasses.

I wanted to stand up and say "Get real." a number of times when parents asked questions about co-ed dorms (which they pretty much all are now and have been for some time), having guests of the opposite sex in rooms (which has pretty much been allowed for some time), and the question which always comes up about alcohol use. I just want to say, "You've laid the foundation. If they want to make a poor choice, they are going to make a poor choice."

My philosophy is and has always been to build a strong relationship of trust with your children. If you do (or maybe I'm just lucky) they will come to you...they will come and tell you they screwed up, and it is usually after the fact because they are in some sort of trouble, or they just feel guilty about it, or they found themselves in a situation which they thought they wanted to explore and suddenly it frightened them. When they come to you, it is a time to ask them if they learned something. It is not a time to yell at them or impose an overly punitive consequence. Usually the experience is lesson enough.

That doesn't mean you have to smile and say "It's OK honey." You CAN express your disappointment and displeasure. It's such a balance. In one session the presenter asked parents to raise their hand if they had ever made a poor choice. I don't think there was one person who did not raise his or her hand.

I'm by nature an observer. I've always been on the quiet side in some situations. I like to stand back and just watch. I've learned from observing. I've seen parents do things and I've watched the results, and I've learned what not to do. I've told my girls from the outset that I am not their friend. Yes, they've said to me from time to and so's mother and she are best friends. From my observations, nine times out of ten that girl is or will be in some sort of major trouble. I of course also tell them I'm not so and so's mother, I'm YOUR mother. I've told them there will come a time when we will be friends, and that is happening now, but not until they are through high school and possibly college (or close to it).

I am not overly punitive and strict. I probably should have been a little more so sometimes, but when I've watched the parents of some of my daughters' friends adopt a "no tolerance" stance on some issues, those are the very girls who live a lie when it comes to their relationship with their parents. They rebel. You have to give them some freedom. You trust them until they give you reason not to.

The dynamics of every family is different. Girls are different than boys, parents do things differently. No one is absolutely right and no one is absolutely wrong. Maybe my philosophy is partly born of who my children innately are, how Ed and I have learned to balance it all, not only in dealing with things about which we have disagreed (which is sometimes REALLY hard to work out or maybe you don't even really completely work it out), but also in dealing with the distinct personalities of our daughters, and the interrelationships that exist in a family of six.

There are moments when your children come to you to own up to something, or to express how stupid what someone else their age did was, and you look at each other with a look that says "We did something right." It is very affirming. One of those moments was at orientation when we gathered back with Mary and she mentioned how a couple of the guys in her group were so immature. "Mom, one of them actually asked the Dean of Students...the DEAN OF STUDENTS, 'So what happens if we get caught smoking weed?' They are so immature!" Unless Ed and I are THE most naive parents there are, I have to say we have THE most amazing daughters.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I don't think there is a picture I can attach to this one.

When I got going on this blog and gave it a name, my oldest asked me what Seshat was. I explained. She then told me it sounded sort of like the tongue twister about selling seashells by the shore. It sort of came out as Sheshat instead of Seshat. She told me it sounded like a sentence...She shat...which in turn sounded like the past tense of She shit.

When she told me that I thought maybe I should change it. But then....isn't that really what I'm After all, I'm "emptying" my thoughts, getting it all out of my know what I mean.

What is coming out is another issue. Whether it has any value, I really can't say. It might simply be crap, but it makes me feel better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Little Women Part 1: Background

I will no doubt be writing more than one entry about how I've connected with Louisa Mae Alcott and Little Women through my life thus far. Little Women was one of my favorite books from around the age of twelve. I was introduced to this classic when my mother and father bought it for me for Christmas. That copy is long gone from overuse which isn't a bad thing, although it would be nice to have. I've owned several. I still own probably two or three different copies. First editions are nearly nonexistent and difficult to prove because copyrighting wasn't done in the same way. If I ran onto one that was a first printing or close to it, it would no doubt cost thousands of dollars.

I don't know what any of my readers may already know of Louisa and her family, but her father was a transcendentalist and they lived in Concord, Massachusetts. Orchard House is still there, is a museum, and I will visit one day. Their contemporaries were Emerson and Thoreau. If I could get one of those grants Lilly gives to teachers, I'd love to go there and study; maybe research how their lives crossed in light of the history of the time and whatnot if it hasn't already been done. Louisa's father wasn't financially successful apparently, spending most of his time studying and living his philosophy. Little Women doesn't really go into that part of their lives in great detail, but the book is very autobiographical. Everyone knows Jo is Louisa, and Louisa also had three sisters (Meg, Beth, and Amy in the book...not their real names).

Louisa was a writer already and when her publishers, Little Brown & Company, asked her to write a story for girls, she didn't want to do it. I'm glad she did. There are other books about the March family (Little Men, Jo's Boys) but they didn't capture me in the same way. She also wrote a lot of other things. Many I have yet to read, but am determined to do so. I believe she wrote the book in a relatively short period of time, sent it in, and it became an immediate success.

Like Jo in the story, Louisa wrote a lot of dramatic, mysterious types of stories, which weren't nearly the literary quality of the March family stories, and the book ends with....well, if you haven't read it, you should. I've lost count of how many times I've read it. I particularly like to pull it out around Christmas because the opening of the story takes place at Christmas with I think one of the best opening lines I've ever read, "'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." I suppose that is only because it holds so much meaning for me. Watch for more posts in the near future including how I experienced the book as a youngster, the movie versions, and more.