Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Skies

Thursday Thirteen

The part of the country where I live isn't really famous for its scenery. No tourists come driving through to ooh and aah over fields, cows, and little creek beds with muddy red water dribbling through them. So I feel a secret joy in seeing great beauty here...the sun coming up...the rain moving in...the fog surrounding...it's all delightful to me. Here are pictures I've taken of the sky: from January through December and beyond...

January--a great orange, ripple
of clouds in the early morning
















February--winds and windmills in a
white whirl of low-hanging clouds
















March--new wheat rising under cool
clouds, greening the land















April--the sweet promise of rain on thirsty wheat














May-- loud storms, bouncing hail pellets,
thunderous tornadoes















June--quiet blue skies over harvested fields,
maybe a tired tuft of cloud.



















July--the sun sinking behind the city, bronzing
clouds with a wearying heat















August--days full of rain, and the world smiled,
wonderful, wrapping mists of moisture














September--soil dry, red dirt, steel sky















October--fog on the bridges and whisper gray













November--thick clouds rolling, masses of cold
pushing the bright yellow sunlight from the fields
















December--Pink sky, very early morning...
a snowy stillness on Christmas Day.















A final picture to make 13. This one was taken by one of my students on our way to school one morning. So how did she get such a good picture of the moon from a moving vehicle? Well, truthfully, that's not the moon; that's the sun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Princess and the Frog.


This is Mim, the princess. The video is Mim, the frog.

The scenario: They have turned the boxes from Christmas presents into "The Deep". Zaya has announced that he is a tube worm near a chimney, where the water is much too hot for Mim's frog, but she ignores his scientific limitations and swims down to pay him a visit.

Mim: Hello. Ribbett. Ribbet. Ribbet. Aaaack.
He throwed up on you. Aaaack. Aaaack.

Zaya: Ug.

Mim: Hey, don’t break him.

Zaya: OK. I think I’ll be a parrot fish. OK?

(Mr. Frog): Ug aaaaa aaaa…aaaa uuuu I throwed up on you.

Mim: (correcting her frog) It isn’t nice to throw up on people.

(Mr. Frog): It IS nice to throw up on people…especially you…because my mother frog told me it was nice to throw up on people…it really is.

video

Delicious


Cherry cheesecake, pumpkin pie, vanilla fudge,
Peanut brittle, gooey lemon pudding sludge
Nutter butters dipped in scrumptious chocolate stuff
Pumpkin rolls...heaven knows I've had enough.

For the cheery little cheesecake promptly settled in my chin
The vanilla fudge (I only had a taste)
And the wicked chocolate stuff
( tears are falling; this is tough)
Has been permanently added to my waist.

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was Delicious

Family Christmas

Well, we were all there (except for the North Carolina/Chicago seven) celebrating Christmas together with Mom and Dad. The living room was crowded; the food was much too delicious; the noise level like that of a patio cafe next to a roller coaster. It was great.

video

If you aren't family, you'll probably want to skip this one. I've noticed that videos about people you don't know are usually boring, and--even if you do know the people--not something you just want to watch over and over. Ah well. If you made it through this one, you might want to watch this other one, as Mim decorates an oblivious Zaya. From his reaction, you can see that he's probably used to this kind of distraction while he's reading a new book.


video

Zaya Plays Jingle Bells at Great-Grandparents' House

Almost two years ago, on my eighteenth post, I included a video of my three year old grandson "playing" on the piano. Here he is at five, playing jingle bells, still very concerned over the right timing.

video

Friday, December 25, 2009

He Felt Cold


He felt cold.
The first strange thing…
And he shivered like a God had never done.
He felt hunger from the journey
Such an unfamiliar weakness
Something wanting
Something needed
And—as feelings go—another unknown one.
He felt rigid pain, swaddled cramping.
Heard the sounds of sobs and shouting,
He saw those too poor to matter as they gathered mute and awed
And the smell of field and fold knelt around his newborn soul
As they worshiped him and wondered how a baby could be God.
No one interfered to hinder their first uncertain touch:
“He’s a human! and so fragile!”
“He's a human--one of us!”
“Why would God trade endless splendor for a vapor and decay?”

He felt cold.
It was morning.
Another first—a very early, cold and hungry Christmas Day.







I wrote this very early Monday morning--December 21, 2009...and adapted it for the
Three Word Wednesday Prompt-Rigid, Journey, Hinder I posted it here, because I wanted it to be up for Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful...

And the weatherman was rightful


video

Outside or inside? You choose.

video



There were a few brave enough to enjoy the blizzard, but they only lasted for a few minutes--the wind, the chill factor, the white-out road conditions, the drifts. All in all it was appalling outdoors and cosy inside. So, not much of a choice, really.

video

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elijah's Christmas Program


Last Thursday, Turtle and I were able to attend our son's first Christmas program...well the first program he put together as a teacher. He had 91 fourth-grade students participating; that's a lot of little children. Even stacked neatly on the bleachers of a huge auditorium stage, behaving beautifully without fights and fidgets, they looked like they would be a challenge to teach. The program being Christmas Around the World, the children sang songs in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, and Japanese. One little boy played drums; another two played guitar (for Silent Night), six little girls played on marimbas, and they all sang. Elijah accompanied on the guitar, piano, accordion, and trumpet(not all at the same time). It was quite enjoyable. I tried to get a picture of all 91 of the students up there, but it had to be rather small, so I took a close up of Elijah and two little boys;it looks like they have a tie-coordinating thing going on. His next program will be in the spring and will feature his third graders. At the end of the year, his fifth graders will have their turn to perform. His job isn't one most people would appreciate having, but I'm sure it means a lot to the children and to their parents. I'm proud of Elijah at times like this.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Names of Christ Tree


Here's a tree created by my sophomores in the Life of Christ class. We are studying mostly from the book of John--all those "I Am" passages--so we decorated a tree with the names of Christ. You have to use your imagination a little, but if you can't figure them out, they are labeled.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cowlicks


I have a cowlick on my forehead which doesn't mean I've spent a lot of time ranching, but when I tried to find another word for it, the thesaurus went bankrupt. Surely, I thought, there has to be a more professional term, so I googled it, and all I got was this:

cow·lick (kou'lĭk')
n. A projecting tuft of hair on the head that grows in a different direction from the rest of the hair and will not lie flat.

Well, in my case, that definition doesn't quite fit. My cowlick is more of a complete swirl--a whirlpool of hair that would be a problem anywhere, but is particularly annoying when it sits right at the hairline on my forehead.

In vain my mother wrestled with that cowlick: curling, cutting, combing, crying. Nothing helped for long. It was a continual frustration to her. As I got older, I learned to harness the wild swirl, cutting bangs that would shoot over to the side and follow the insistent command of the cowlick, thus taming it by surrender, if there is such a thing.

Thankfully, neither of my daughters inherited the curly Charybdis, but when I saw my granddaughter Mim for the first time at the hospital...I knew that the gene must have slipped through somehow...the swirly, unruly...aw well!

The other day, I was combing Mim's hair.
"Grandma," she said, half explaining; half complaining, "I've got a hole in my hair".

"Sorry,Mimsy," I consoled her, "I know all about that crazy cowlick"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Turtle the Fearless

video

I know this is a pretty bad video but I wanted you to see something:
Look in the back...to the left of the tree.
See that gray-haired man playing with the young people at our Christmas program?

That's my husband.

He hadn't touched his lips to a trombone for twenty five years, but he borrowed this one to play Silent Night up there with the "once-a-year" youth ensemble.

Why?

Well you see that little girl standing next to him? It's her first year in band. At practice the other night she was in tears--feeling totally incompetent and all alone. So they brought her to pastor for comfort.

There's nothing that gets to Turtle more than a little child who is crying, so he promised that he would find a trombone and play it at the program with her.
I think she looks perfectly self-assured now, and, although he says he completely had to improvise the ending, I couldn't tell it. His great sense of compassion was more important to me than perfection, and I was proud of him.

Our Sunday Scribblings prompt was Brave

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Sonneteer Strikes Out at Pumpkin Rolls



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I learned in high school that anyone who writes 144 sonnets can claim the cultured title of “sonneteer”. No one ever specified any criteria as to the artistic merit of these poems, only that they had to follow the right rules of length, rhythm, rhyme. So, of course, I took up the challenge—wouldn’t any senior?
There came a day in early spring when I wrote my last one…and promptly gave up sonnets forever. Nobody gave me any prizes for my amateur efforts, in fact few people ever saw them, but I have lived the rest of my life with the inner gratification that only comes from the knowledge that one is a true sonneteer. Surely that must have helped me through a difficult time. (I just can’t think at the moment which one.)
Well, today, ten minutes ago, in fact, I scaled another mountain, won another title…and somewhere there should be bands playing….at least a drum roll…
I just made my 144th pumpkin roll this year, and yes, I can safely say I’m an expert in that field. I can tell you what a pumpkin roll looks like when you forget the sugar—thin and not too tasty; when you accidently put in twice as many eggs as you should—thick and delicious but absolutely impervious to rolling. I’ve seen gooey, runny…lumpy, funny. Thick and thin ones, doubled-in ones, on the floor ones, out the door ones…and with that I announce my retirement as a pumpkin roll chef. It’s over. Forever.

Ode to a Pumpkin Rolleteer

I've seen a cloud of powdered sugar rise
Whenever a sheet of pumpkin cake turns out,
And lightly--oh so lovely--how it lies
In sticky splendor, dusted all about.

I've cracked a hundred eggs; I've whipped them too,
And balanced sugar with a lemon dash,
Yet, whether all alone, or with a crew,
I've wondered if the work was worth the cash.

My kitchen's really sticky and my floor
Is altogether speckled reddish-brown.
My feet refuse to function anymore;
And I'm not standing up. I'm sitting down.

In vain say "Pretty please with sugar on it"
No pumpkin rolls. I'd rather write a sonnet.

And that aptly expresses how I feel about pumpkin rolls at the moment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Serli and the Satay

Our Indonesian exchange student is a big fan of tomato catsup. She has to have a bottle of it on the table for every meal. Not that she really likes catsup, mind you; she only uses it to disguise the taste of American food, which tastes strange to her, and seems rather barbarous. Two weeks ago I served barbecued ribs. One look at those bones sticking out and she couldn't bring herself to eat them, not even with catsup.

Anyway, she found a recipe for an Indonesian dish called Satay--skewered, seasoned chicken bits served with rice and a peanut butter-based sauce. Tonight we bought the ingredients for her and she prepared it. For once, there was no catsup on the table. Turtle threatened to spice it up a little with barbecue sauce, and she promptly told him that it would ruin a good dish and that if he wanted to eat her chicken he absolutely could not use it. After all, nobody has to disguise the taste of that wonderful Indonesian food.

It was pretty good. I'll give her that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still in the Game

Here are some clips of my dad, playing tennis with his son-in-law and his grandsons on Thanksgiving Day. They didn't exactly tear up the court out there, but, since my dad is almost 83 years old, I was just thankful that it was possible at all.

My dad is a pretty awesome guy, and I'm sure, having inherited his genetic qualities, I'll be out on the court myself when I'm a great-grandmother.
Oh wait.
I've never played tennis.
Well, I'll probably be reading up a storm, tearing up the library.
Just you wait and see.

video



Sunday Scribblings--Games

Thanksgiving Day

The family all came in for a feast of food and visiting. We actually had 24 people here. It was great.I'm stuffed, but two days of exercise have kept me from popping.
Here are various and sundry scenes from the bash. Thankfully, nobody burned the carrots this year. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, leaf salad, fruit salad, dressing, gravy, green beans and desserts piled higher than Mt. Kilimanjaro.



There were little corners of activity going on all day, and you just had to drift over into one to join. I tried to flit from one to the other...but I don't flit very well...scoot is more like it. On the Wii, four players were playing a "flash from the past" version of Mario...yes the very first one. Ah! Remember the little guy jumping over moving rock walls in the dungeon. This game had the added attraction of multiple players, however, and they could help each other out. Across the room a table of eight were busily drawing and guessing, playing a variant of the old telephone game mixed with pictionary in layers..draw, guess, draw, guess, draw, guess. When they weren't drawing or guessing, they were roaring with laughter. Serli, our Indonesian exchange student, added a great new dimension to the game. For instance, when she saw the clear illustration of a "trailer hitch" she couldn't remember the exact word, so she called it a "hooker". Of course, the next person, unsuspecting, drew...well you know. She was winking and everything. Actually, it was pretty rare that any word/drawing combo made it all around the table intact. The game was not only fun to play, but even watching was hilarious. In the den, the older set sat. There they were lined up on the couch talking to each other on their laptops and showing Mom how to access neat stuff on facebook. After a while, my brother-in-law and his two teen-aged sons headed for the tennis courts to take advantage of the perfect weather. Yes, that's my dad out there with them. Being almost 83 doesn't stop him from breaking in a new racket. It took him a while to warm up, but he and Barak ended up defeating Scott and Bodin. He and Zaya wore the identical blue guayaberas, so, of course, we had to have pictures of them together.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dallas: Circles and Lines

Every year, at about this time, my fellow teachers and I get to spend a couple of days at convention in Dallas. It's a relatively painless way to earn the continuing education credits we need; we only have to attend six seminars in the two days and there are many interesting presentations. We can sit in on sessions that deal with a multitude of subjects, ask questions, and spend some quality time in meaningful discussions with our colleagues. In addition to all that, we have hours of driving time to and from the convention...especially time sitting in the traffic. This gives us a deep and lasting appreciation for our uncomplicated life out here in rural Oklahoma where fifteen miles only take fifteen minutes to drive...and they are scenery filled minutes at that. Granted, there is scenery in Dallas, but if you look at it, you are liable to plow forcefully into the back of a line of traffic that suddenly stopped right in front of you to begin the slow funneling of four lanes down to two lanes for no apparent reason.






The convention is held every year at a large, glass, hotel, so I have to be careful with stones. It's a well-run, comfortable convention center, with carpet, architecture, and artwork reflecting a theme--all lines and circles, beautifully coordinated, like planets and plumb lines. In the background, someone is always playing ambient music--trumpet or piano; it makes you pad noiselessly down the long, quiet hallways with a swing to your step, feeling like you are in a movie and wondering when the music will modulate to a minor key and the desperate chase scene will begin.
The hotel itself is like a living biome. Everything is quietly running, as if someone left things turned on: Water runs from the atrium cafe, around in a circle to fall quietly down to the lobby pool; curving escalators run endlessly beside it; straight lines of glass walled elevators run constantly up and down--beads on a string with lights all around like so many bathroom vanity mirrors. Along the edges of the wide rooms and corridors run whispering servants like meek, brown mice; they congregate backstage--in bone, bare halls behind the walls where the stairway exits lead.

In a corner of the atrium, past the empty bar and grill,there's a little cafe. You can slide in there quietly after seven, and pay eighteen dollars for their breakfast buffet, or you can get by on the coffee that comes with your room, and buy a banana for a dollar and a half in the hall next to the general assembly. There's a Starbucks in the lobby, but there are no vending machines with little packages of crackers and peanut butter.I did finally discover a coke machine on the third floor. I found the pool too--a small one being totally occupied by a gentleman reading his paper in the early morning cold

Speaking of early morning...that hotel had a lot of it.
Well, maybe I should explain that. I'm not used to noise--city noise that is, so I woke up at five thirty each morning, showered, dressed, and slipped out of the room so I wouldn't wake the other two teachers--those with aspirations of sleeping until eight o'clock.
Anyway, as I roamed around looking for a chair, a table, and an isolated place to grade papers, I took pictures, rode the glass-walled elevators up and up through the gridded roof at the sixteenth floor until I reached the twenty seventh, which is as high as any human should ever have to go without an airplane under her. It didn't take me long to push the down button, and hold my stomach all the way back to inside views overlooking the grand lobby. Every now and then along the walls, there were bubbled balconies covered with ivy basking in the light of higher bubbles. I noticed that when my camera lens focused on the oval carpet by the elevators, It gave it an unusual bubble shape of its own. More circles and lines.
By the time convention was over, and we had braved rush hour traffic in Dallas, I felt like I had my own circle/line theme going: My head was going in circles, and I just wanted to make a bee-line for home...ah...quiet foggy streets in the morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Little Turkeys




We enjoyed wonderful weather today--Foggy in the morning, clearing to cool yet sunny perfection. "Art" and "Carina" came over and brought the grandkids. We had a semi-quiet day. First, the little ones recited their turkey poems. Of course I had to film them for posterity (or embarrassing teen age moments). Then we settled into a quiet after spaghetti lunch stupor. Zaya kept sending his father on imaginary deep sea exploration assignments via an imaginary laptop and a noisy "you've got mail" icon. Finally, Art felt he had fulfilled his last imaginary quest for the afternoon and let his "laptop" run out of power. "Whoosh", Zaya whipped up an imaginary power cord to re-energize it. After a while the grandkids discovered that it was nice enough to play outside...and there were leaf piles. . . fodder for fantastic leaf storms. I thought I'd see Mim complain about the leaves in the face scenario, but she smiled bravely through it all. video video

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grandparents' Day


I took a couple of hours off from my own school to visit my grandchildren at theirs.
The children were all wide eyes and excitement, but on their best behavior--sitting primly around the circular table, eyes on the teacher in flashes, but filled with secret glances at all the grandparents, who had turned out in droves to support the little tykes. My grandchildren had both grandmas and both grandpas there. After an opening time, the grandfathers went with Zaya while the grandmas followed Mim. When I sat down beside her, in the grandma chair, she whispered: "Grandma, how do you like my new school shirt. It's unusually long." It is at that.

After a few activities, we met in the dining hall and ate a fine lunch together.

Thanks, Moms and Dads. Thanks for providing such a great opportunity for us to interact with our grandchildren and their daily activity.

November Gray

After all the brilliant colors of fall have faded, grayness conquers the sky.

Still beneath are some rich browns and reds: cotton, milo, and, every now and then, a bright green field of winter wheat.




I cut through the countryside today, just for a close-up look at the windmills, the crumbling farm houses, and the straight gravel road.

It follows fence posts down to the draw, then swerves to cross the bridge.
"There's nothing prettier than black cows on a green field with white windmills in the background", say the farmers around here, "unless it's black oil and a long buried pipeline." You've gotta love 'em.