Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What We Read

These past weeks, with the early spring, the view out my kitchen window reminded me of a favorite book I used to read to the children at bedtime, especially.

It’s the best bedtime book ever written, by Margaret Wise Brown, even better than “Goodnight Moon.”  It’s “The Little Fur Family" and the illustrations are by Garth Williams. The little fur child goes out to play in the wild wood and when he comes home in the late afternoon, this is what the sky looks like, and this is how the sky has looked on these chilly spring late afternoons.

This started me thinking about those days of reading to small children and the books, poems and stories they liked  the most. Each one had a different favorite. For Polly, when she was really little, it was the A.A. Milne poem “I want a soldier, a soldier in a busby,” from “When We Were Very Young.” She liked to hear it over and over. I actually found a wonderful metal wind up soldier in a busby, back when one could buy such things at the 5 and 10 for a coupe of bucks. He marched and played a drum, too. 

For Sally it was “Whatever’s the Matter with Mary Jane (and it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again..) which I think she identified with, even though I never made rice pudding. I think she liked the idea of a child saying “no” to food she didn’t like. They both liked the one about Bad King John who only wanted a red rubber ball.

Emily loved “Peter Rabbit,” especially the part where “the sparrows flew to him in great excitement and implored him to exert himself” when the buttons on his jacket got caught in the gooseberry net in Me. McGregor’s garden. She loved to say that part, even though I am not sure she understood exactly what it meant. Beatrix Potter did not stint in her use of language, giving children some respect in their ability to understand her stories as she wrote the.

John liked “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” even though he had all the other books available. I had to read it over and over, as I had read the others’ favorites. When he was old enough for his library card, that’s the book he’d get out. One day the librarian showed him “Mike’s House,” a book about a boy who always called the library by that name, because that’s where the book about Mike Mulligan lived. John liked that one, too.

My early memories of being read to were of Peter Rabbit, poems by Stevenson and Eugene Field (“Winken, Blinken and Nod,” among others). And I wanted to hear them, over and over again too.

I am sure someone has done a dissertation or some sort of research study on why children love the repetition of the same stories or poems. Most of the ones my children liked I didn’t’ mind reading again and again because language was so well written and soothing. In the case of Margaret Wise Brown, there was an element of musicality to her rhythms and word choices. Reading her books was like singing lullabies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It occurred to me that when Polly and Emily were home last fall that they seemed to have a lot of gorgeous shoes. I mean, every time either one of them comes home, there are new and very stylish shoes. Sally would like that, too, except that, unfortunately she has to wear a lift, which eliminates some of the better looking footwear. Anyway, I wondered why the two of them are so well shod in the latest fashion.

The other day, while looking under my bed for a pair of shoes, I fished out a pair that I had forgotten I even owned. They were from last summer, which speaks to my housekeeping skills – and also, I guess, to the woman who comes to clean every two weeks. Anyway, I was happy to find them. Then I realized where the shoe fetish comes from.

I have always loved shoes. When I could wear just anything on my feet I had shoes to match just about everything I wore. When I was in college I had a pair of black suede sling pump platform shoes which were admired and borrowed frequently. They were quite high and I was tall, which made it difficult to dance with short guys, since I ended up looking at the top of their heads. Thank God I found John who was over six feet tall, with whom I could dance without staring at someone’s’ dandruffy pate.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worn high heels now, or platform soles. Back in the seventies when we were all wearing Dr. Scholl’s wooden soled sandals, I was always falling off them. The thought of stiletto heels gives me acrophobia and fear of falling, too.

Well, when I found those neat little summer shoes (I had just ordered from Zappo’a another pair of Merrell clogs, too, for summer) I decided to look in the closet and see what else I had forgotten about. I tend to live in Crocs these days, having forsaken Birkenstocks for the clumsy looking plastic things.

Pictured above are most of what I found.

I do wear them all (one pair at a time, of course) on occasion. I favor Merrells, Clarks and Easy Sprit, all of which are extremely comfortable which I find more important now than style. Although I think these are not too un-stylish unless you’re looking for whatever is the rage these days. Is Jimmy Choo still in?

When I see women on TV wearing those 6 inch heels with very pointy toes, my feet hurt at the mere sight. Sometimes you see them running in those things. Running! There’ll be a lot of old women some day with feet that will look like those horrid, tortured bound feet of old, warped out of foot like shape into something gnarled and distorted beyond human pedal extremities.

Anyway, I still like shoes and I do resist getting new ones. Since I have so many (there are more than are pictured above) they never seem to wear out. And I do admire the ones that my shoe loving daughters wear when they come home. It’s good thing I can’t wear that kind or I might eventually sweep a pair out from under my bed some year.

While writing this, I have been listening on my IPod to a recording of a Mozart Requiem which was perform med by the Canton Symphony and the KSU Chorus some years ago. Sally was a member of the chorus then. I attended the concert and it was the most glorious rendition I have ever heard of the glorious piece. One of her friends at WKSU was the recording technician WKSU station and gave her a copy of it. She put it on my IPod and I just love it. Mozart would have been thrilled to hear it done so beautifully. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back to Mt. Hope Horse Sale

John read my post from last week and decided that a trip to Mt. Hope was warrantedd. We went down on Saturday, which was a beautiful, sunny day. That area is one of my favorite rambling spots. Mt. Hope is a few miles south of the Wilderness Center, where my storytelling group met once a month. After the meetings, sometimes I would just roam around the hills and farms of the Amish communityand pretend I was in the 19th century, driving a 20th century gasoline powered vehicle.

We stopped first at the Wilderness Center. I had not been there for almost two years, after being a member for over 25. I stopped going a couple of years ago when I was taking a pastel class which met on Saturdays. After that, Saturdays became too crowded with other things to do. I have missed it, of course, because I really liked the members of our storytelling group. We used to do two story concerts a year, drawing up to 150 people. That had slowed down a bit and we ended up with about 30 for each concert. I think a lot of people had other things to do, too. At any rate, apparently the interest in storytelling has dwindled, and I found out that the group had dissolved this past year.

I was glad to see Gordon, the director of the center and a fine storyteller himself. He’s a great guy and due to retire in a couple of years. He’s built the center into a terrific place for families. It’s right in the center of the Amish country, and they come there, too, and also help with the annual bird count every Christmas season.

We left the center and headed down to Mt Hope, to the horse auction. There was a huge crowd there. I found out that it was because of something called the Mid-Ohio; when dealers from all over the country bring retired harness racing horses down to sell to the Amish. I had not been there for probably ten years or so and it was great to be back. I love to watch them bring out the horses and run them back and forth to show off their form. Some of them were going for three or four thousands dollars. OF course they have bee groomed beautifully and their glossy coats and carefully brushed manes and tails just float like silk.

I asked a young Amish girl if she thought it would be okay for me to take a long distance picture. She said, “Of course. It’s all right.” It’s something I have wanted to do every time I’ve been t here because of the composition of the crowd. What is weird it this. The picture I did for the previous post was done from memory. When I got home and loaded my pix into the computer, I realized that my memory had not lied. You can see the similarity. Some of the men were wearing their straw hats instead of the black, but it’s the same picture, basically that I’ve had in my mind for a long tie.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Day Out in Holmes County

I watched the rest of the PBS program on the Amish. I had fallen asleep during the second hour when it was on last week and caught it last night on PBS World. It reminded me of another image that I had wanted to photograph but didn’t. In a little village called Mt. Hope there is an auction house. I used to stop there after the storytellers meeting at the Wilderness Center, which is just over the border from Holmes County. The Saturday auctions at Mt. Hope seem to be very popular with the Amish, mainly because there are these great hoarse for sale. The merchandise consists of retired trotters from harness races. As the auctioneer would say on presenting a beautiful, sleek specimen: “This horse is carriage broke and perfect for the ladies.”

I would go up to the balcony, where I could look over the crowd, and there would be so sea of Amish farmers, all dressed pretty much alike in the dark coats and black hats. Across from me on the opposite balcony would be the women and small children. Teen aged Amish boys would be roaming the building, acting like teenage boys everywhere, showing off for each other and the girls, who tried to pretend that they didn’t notice the boys. It was like an old fashioned country picnic. There was a little restaurant there, selling hot dogs, popcorn and homemade pie, along with soda pop. It was cheaper than the movies and a lot more sociable.

I used to watch the farmers, trying to figure out how they were making their bids. They didn’t use anything so modern as numbered paddles, but must have been making some sort of gesture known to the auctioneer. There were more than horse auctions there: livestock, poultry and farm equipment was also offered, but the horse sales were the ones I liked to watch.

I went down once to see an exotic animal auction and wished I hadn’t. It turned out that they were selling animals to stock hunting preserves, things like deer and pheasant. In this case, the Amish were the sellers, not the buyers.

The parking lot was filled with buggies and bored horses. These families had traveled from all parts of the county and it was a day long outing for the families. Sometimes I'd watch them heading home, usually with a couple of sleeping babies or toddlers, having had a day away from the usual hard work

If you see highlighted links, don't click on them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Naturel Family Planning

With birth control becoming an election issue (What is this, 1935 Massachusetts?) here in Ohio (tomorrow is Super Tuesday and Ohio is being hit hard with TV ads), there have been several letters to the editor in out little paper and in the Akron Beacon Journal which seem to have been dictated by the bishops, extolling the merits of Natural Family Planning. The letters have been written by men, of course.
My favorite talked about the “procreational and unitive” elements the sexual act, within marriage, or course. He writes of treating the act with dignity (As in, “Good evening, madam. May I possibly involve you in a beautiful, God-given right of sex tonight?”) Oh, yes, God is also a participant in this act, according to the author. Making God a voyeur is not my idea of a truly “unitive” kind of thing, when you have an entire trinity gazing on.
The writers of these letters call our attention to the papal Letters to the Faithful concerning the family and reproduction by Pope Paul and Pope John Paul II, those celibate experts on sex (between consenting adults), marriage and the family, child rearing and household management, in none of which they have had any experience (that we know of).
The letters insist that “Natural family Planning” is the only acceptable method of limiting the number of children. Well, I don’t know about that. It seems that if sex is to be “procreative,” and you only have sex during the cycle when the woman cannot conceive, you are subverting that all important “procreative” thingy. Of course, one of the writers does warn that NFP (I love that they have given it one of those snappy acronyms so popular with advertisers, like in the “ED” in Viagra ads) should only be resorted to in cases of serious health reasons, like fatal illnesses on the part of the woman, or whatever.
And the most important, most respectable part of this is that there must be SELF DISSCIPLINE!! And those who had a passel of kids just had no self control at all, none whatsoever. And no artificial contraception either, by gum.
Since the Church, as personified by the nuns in my day pretty much let you now that sex was a terrible, worse than murder kind of sin; even thinking about it meant a visit to the confessional lest you die in a state of mortal sin, I suspect that it was a miracle that anyone could relax and enjoy it. We were supposed to emulate the Virgin Mary, at leat up to a point. You couldn’t use the Holy Ghost as an excuse if you got pregnant. He was already taken.
To illustrate the economic impact of NFP, I have had my poor preggo above follow the Scarlet O’Hara Couture method of using found material for a dress, only she has used an old bedspread instead of velvet portieres.

NOTE: Do  not click on any of the highlighted words. I am still trying to figure out how they are getting into my posts. I have notified Google and Blogger, but they keep showing up. They are inserting links that I have not authorized.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wish I'd Written This

All hail to Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker magazine, who in the March 5 “Talk of the Town” section described the Republican “base” to which the candidates are appealing as follows:

"…an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, a la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, mo) anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global warming deniers, post-Confederate white Southerners, creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists..”

I think this pretty much explains how Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have gotten as far as they have, playing to that base. Mitt’s not far behind, denying his past and cozying up to this “base.”

I have learned not to overestimate the intelligence of the American voters who gave Bush a second term, so I don’t assume that common sense will prevail.