Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Women Love Jane Austen's Works

Spent a delicious evening watching Emma on PBS Masterpiece Theater and tweeting on Twitter with other Austen lovers across the country. It's quite a popular version, and considering how many women were by-passing the Grammy awards to watch it made it all the more enjoyable.

So what is it exactly about Jane Austen's works that draws us in? A few thoughts....
  1. It's all about the films. Austen's books make such awesome movies! Especially if done by anyone remotely connected to the BBC.
  2. It's all about the clothes! We all want the dresses! 
  3. It's all about Knightly vs. Darcy.... or maybe it's not, we'll just take BOTH of them!!!
  4. It's all about understatement - sultry looks across ballrooms, the chance to hold a girl's gloved hand, observed decorum abounds... and we love that! Nothing blatant, nothing insulting, just manners!
  5. It's all about the gorgeous houses.... even the poor live in quaint little cottagey type abodes. Yeah, we know, there's not an abundance of indoor plumbing, but hey... we can forget that if the wallpaper in the ballrooms is pretty.
  6. It's all about Colin Firth... say what you will... he IS Mr. Darcy... and everyone else is compared to his standard.
  7. It's all about being able to boo and hiss at the nasty people.... and there's quite a list... Mr. Elton, Frank Churchhill, Mr. Wickham.... boo boo boo!
  8. It's all about the humor... subtle, witty, verbally sharp... it makes you giggle every time, even when you know the line that's coming up next!
  9. It's about the happy endings... you know the protagonists will discover the love of their life by the end as will quite a few of the other characters.
  10. It's all about LOVE.... and who ever has enough romance in this modern fast-paced crazy world we live in!
So find a PBS station near you and tune in. After Emma is over, there are going to be two more excellent productions - Persuasion and Northanger Abbey... don't miss out!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dearest Gabriel!

To our Grandson Gabriel
on the Occasion of His 8th Birthday

Today we celebrate the day
You joined our family
You've given smiles and love away
and made us laugh with glee.

Today we can't believe how fast
the last eight years have flown.
It seems like we just blinked our eyes
and now you're halfway grown!

God bless you always, Gabriel,
with blessings from above
This poem is just a gift to tell
You just how much you're loved!

with love from Grandma & Papa
January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Think... therefore I Knit

I haven't said too much about my knitting as of late... but I've been doing a lot of it lately. Somehow, no matter how hectic life gets, knitting centers me and helps me relax. Some folks maintain there is a meditative or zen-like aspect of knitting and even go so far as suggest that it lowers blood pressure and protects the brain from things like Alzheimer's (I hope!)

So today, I switched on PBS (my favorite channel) and what is on? A KNITTING SHOW MARATHON on the Create Channel (9.4 here in St.Lou) and I thought, Huzzah!!!! I also popped a DVD into my recorder and tried my first attempt at recording directly from the television. (hoped THAT comes out!) I am getting inspired by all the ideas I am seeing and the hardest thing is not to immediately stop grading papers (which is what I SHOULD do) and start knitting (which is what I WANT to do)!

Anyway... I have been busy making some cute things lately.... I think I posted my wrist warmers a few posts back.. but here's my latest... a cabled hat. It's cozy and I could make it in one night!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stuff I Will Never "Get"

This is more of a list and a response to the events of yesterday and today. If it seems a tad "rant-ish" feel free to pass on reading this one, but I just had to write these down, if only for myself.

There is a growing list of things I don't "get" as I become older. Maybe it's senility on my part, but somehow the logic escapes me on some of this stuff and I just wonder if I'm the only one who sees the world this way. (very likely... oh well...)

Here goes:
Stuff I Don't "Get" - Part One

1. Folks who make comments about M.L.King day as if it's somehow a huge personal insult to them that America chooses to celebrate coming through the Civil Rights movement with just a bit more dignity, fairness, and justice for others. Frankly, I don't get anyone who fails to see that for over 2 centuries our nation tolerated injustice based solely upon the color of man's skin (and that there are those who would tolerate seeing that continue into the present); and that to celebrate the life of someone who made us "wake up and smell the racist coffee" is not a bad thing to do and might even inspire us to do better than we are. So I guess I don't "get" stubborn and persistent racism.

2. Folks who can say, "Oh well, Haiti is so poor, that even if we help them, it won't come close to fixing their problems... it's more like pouring money down a toilet!" Yup, heard that one this week... can't believe I heard it (and from whom) but bleeding heart (liberal) Christian that I feel I must be, I can't escape that time Jesus said, "Whenever you did it for the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me." - so I guess I will continue to flush $ away... thus, I don't get self-righteous selfishness.

3. Reactions to the Republican win in Massachusetts today as being a slap to our President and a way to block health care reform. (I guess this is technically TWO things) Personally, I don't see why anybody would want to root for the "big business" conglomerate that is the American Health Insurance system. Their stocks shot through the roof today on the news from Massachusetts... (cha-ching!) can you hear them counting their profits already? Why are we so willing to believe that big business wants to treat us well, but that our government does not? Why are so many people excitedly hoping to see our President be a failure? Something is wrong with how angry everyone gets about all of the above... and I don't get it. 30 million people have nowhere to go if they get sick and most of us are one or two paychecks from being in serious financial trouble if WE become that sick person... yet we continue to bet on the notion that our big business and their lobbyists will work for US. Hah! Not likely! I'd rather bet on a guy I elected and can un-elect being made to work for me than my insurance company which can jack my rates without even asking me or tell me I am suddenly uninsurable if I become seriously ill. I don't get it.

4. Finally, on a lighter note, I don't get why grown men paint "family cars" to look like hopped up roadsters... this was one I saw in the parking lot at Petsmart tonight. A chap in his obvious late-30's pulls up in a PT Cruiser with flame detailing all around the wheel hubs and on the hood. It looked so totally stupid that I laughed out loud. Let's face it, it was NOT a roadster, a race car, or anything close! It's a PT CRUISER... they cruise; they don't race. (but maybe he sits inside it going "vroom vroom" as he heads to Petsmart... I dunno)

So there's my list.. for this week... will probably be adding more as time passes. Thanks, fellow readers, if you managed to put up with this old lady and her ramblings.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Doing the Best You Can

As most Americans, I've been watching the news from Haiti with sadness and concern. It's almost impossible to imagine a country so devastated and also with so few resources to cope with the losses.
On the flipside, I have been so heartened by the response of my students to the disaster! They got together the very next day to plan what they wanted to do to help and put their first stage of the plan into operation last night.
Ed and I work with the Key Club at our school. For those who might not know, Key Club is a high school branch of Kiwanis Clubs International, and the youth involved work to do service and benefit community charities, particularly those involving children. Our kids decided that phase one was to raise money for Haiti as quickly as possible. They started last night with a "Change War" Challenge. We had a home basketball game scheduled vs. St. Dominic, a conference rival and fellow Christian (Catholic) high school. The challenge went on during all three of the home games with results announced at each game interval (half times and between). We had a standing room only crowd show up and the fans were VERY generous. They gave their pocket change at the gate, concession stands, and when the cheer squad went up into the stands to the tune of over $700! Lutheran High won the challenge... but Haiti won the night! And the kids felt like it was possible to get others involved in making a difference! A good thing all the way around. (LHS did lose the varsity game, but that's not the best story of the night...) Next week, the faculty/student donation drive! I'll keep you posted!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Busy Busy Day

Back at school today after the long snowday weekend of 4 days off. If the kids could be any more lethargic, I don't know how. Suffice it to say that only teenagers can act exhausted after 4 days of no schedule! I think they must stay up extra late and really go nocturnal when they're off school. I could be wrong, but it's my hunch.

On the up side, I got a great deal done today, especially with yearbook and that felt good. We're at the 50 page mark at present which means that almost 1/2 the book is finished. I wish I could relax and just not worry about the book as much as I do. I know my kids are working on it, but sometimes I feel like we drift around quite a bit.

Today's big news was Mark McGwire finally admitted to steriod use while he was at the height of his homerun career.... not that anyone really doubted that, but he's gone all apologetic on the TV - almost crying about it now... 5 years after he blatantly lied to Congress and the fans. I don't particularly feel like he deserves a lot of sympathy at the moment. I am also fairly disappointed that the Cardinals have hired him as a coach for their young players. I don't care if he can hit a ball to Mars, he's shown he lacks ethical decision-making skills; what's to keep him from being a bad influence on younger players in the league.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's Cold Enough to.....

My dad used to laugh when he said it, but today we proved it's possible. Ed usually keeps his beer in the garage in the winter in order to save space in the fridge. This afternoon when he brought one in and poured it, icy lumps came out and floated like foam on the top... FROZEN BEER slushy is what he got! (In case you're curious, he still drank it; one doesn't waste good beer, frozen or otherwise!)

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Day I Flew Down the Hall

In all the hoopla over getting snow, I forgot to mention my strange adventure of this past Wednesday. Every year, our Physics students study aerodynamics and pneumatic principals. Part of this involves sailing down the hallway in the "air powered flying saucer" a.k.a. the "flying car" or hovercraft. Usually, I manage to get out there to watch and snap photos for yearbook. This year, however, the teacher Mr. Linn turned to me and said, "So do you want to try it?" If you know me at all you know what my answer was.
I am proud to say I went nearly 60 ft before I settled softly onto the floor.

The "car" rides on a its own little pillow of air provided by a repurposed vaccuum cleaner running in reverse. It is SO much fun as well as being a rather silly way to learn science. SO I have seen the future and ridden in the air car, which may not be up to the standard of The Jetsons yet... but one can dream!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Epiphany gift? SNOWDAY!

Last night the snow began falling about 6pm and this morning we awoke to our first snowday of the season. What a gift!
Now don't be thinking that we had a TON of snow... if you want to see true snowday justifiable amounts click on my daughter Kate's blog in my sidebar and THERE you will see snow! If we got anything like that here in St. Louis we'd be off school for a WEEK! However, we got about 3 inches and it was VERY cold and windy which made it a challenge for Missouri road crews; thus we got a snowday. Here is the view of our backyard taken from the dining room window.

Although the day always goes faster than the typical workday, we got a huge amount of stuff done in our home. First we took down the Christmas Tree, then we rearranged the living room (something we've both wanted to do for awhile but hadn't realized we both wanted to!). Now the next two photos will only be meaningful to folks who've been in our living room recently, but since most of you are the people who read this, that will be okay. The piano has officially escaped from the deep corner at the far end of the room, and it REALLY changes the look of the room!
Chas, however, is not sure he likes all the furniture being moved and was a really whiney pain in the pahtoot all day. Greyhounds do not like change. Next, I cleaned and reorganized my china closet (sorry, no photos of that), and then I sat and watched the snow blow past the window while I sipped hot coffee and Ed made soup (another snowday tradition around here). Ahhhh! Good day!

These are the new wristwarmers that I finished last night. I never realized how much warmer you are when your wrists are cozy! I am definitely going to make more of these and some for my daughters and friends as well. I guess it makes sense if running cool water on your wrists cools you off in the summer, then warming them should work to make you cozier in the winter.

Ed, "Soupman", Staude - flavor of the day: roasted cabbage/vegie soup...
made our whole house smell wonderful all day long!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Two by Two

Marriage is on my mind in this post...
On Dec. 29th 2009, Ed
and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We chose to remember the day by going out to dinner with all our kids and grandkids. The place? Frankie Tocco's restaurant on Jefferson and Main St. in St. Charles.... one of our favorite eateries and a place where families are always welcomed warmly. So there we were, all ten of us, and I looked up and down the table feeling really thankful for all the people we've been blessed with in our lives.
My girls are both married to great guys and you can tell by these shots that they have great "personalities" and senses of humor... that is something Ed and I have found to be an integral component in our marriage... an ability to laugh and find humor in the day-to-day things that life brings. So here's to married life, our daughters, their hubbies, and laughter that binds us all together!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year! (and a warning!)

I am going to try something a bit different in this New Year... I am going to try to post at least 3 times per week - with or without photos... just to make my blog more of a journal of the year as well as merely the highlights. We'll see how it goes, life does tend to get bizarre and busy so I may not be able to pull it off...

First post of 2010.... When Snuggies Attack! Both Katrina and Gretchen received the infamous (and it appears devious) warming devices for Christmas. Gret's is blue and on New Year's Eve it attempted to consume my grandson Gabriel. The happy news is that he survived the attack and went on to stay awake until midnight! All Snuggie owners beware! The things are sneaky!!!