Tuesday, January 29, 2008

a cherished childhood book

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind,
and another,
his mother called him "wild thing" and Max said, "I'll eat you up!"
so he was sent to bed without eating anything.
That very night in Max's room, a forest grew, and grew,
and grew until his ceiling hung with vines
and the walls became the world all around.
And an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max
and he sailed off through night and day,
and in and out of weeks
and almost over a year
To where the wild things are.

--from Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

I told a fib in my comments today. I didn't mean to, but it slipped out. At the time, it felt like the truth. Then later, I remembered.

There is a book I have two copies of other than the Bible. It is the wonderful children's book quoted above. The copy my parents bought for me is put away, wrapped carefully to preserve it, even though it is an old paperback copy that probably cost just a few dollars. The copy I bought for my daughter when she was still a baby is on the bookshelf in my youngest son's room.

This was my favorite book growing up. There are a handful of books I have from my childhood, but this is the most precious to me. It is the one book my father would read to me over and over again. If I wanted to hear about Swimmy or a little bunny, I would have to take the book to my mother. But if I wanted to hear about Max, and wolf suits, and sailing in and out of time, Daddy would oblige.

He read the book to me complete with voices: a naughty little boy voice and roaring, teeth gnashing wild thing voices. I always giggled hysterically, but truth be told, I was a little scared.

I couldn't wait to read it to my lovely daughter. I knew I'd have to wait until she was a certain age, although I had no idea what that age might be. I bided my time reading Pat the Bunny or The Poky Little Puppy.

One day, my little girl toddled out of her room with her copy of my favorite children's book in hand. We read it. Then we read it again. Then another time. It was our bedtime book that night and for many, many nights thereafter. I read it to her so many times that I can still quote most of it to you today, word for word. When nothing else would calm her in the car or the store, I would quietly recite that beginning passage. It worked every single time.

I quoted the passage above from memory. There might be a word or two wrong, but I doubt it. Even after all of this time, and two more children who also demanded multiple readings, I still love it. Someday, a day not very soon at all mind you, I bet that I'll have a child or two who will be buying that book for their baby's nursery.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fun Monday #9: What I Like to Curl Up with at Night

This week, the Fun Monday host is AOJ & The Lurchers. She wants a peek into the privacy of our bedrooms, specifically, she wants to see our nightstands and, if we're so inclined, what's inside them.

The little set of drawers beside my bed holds my bedside lamp, a crystal dish for my jewelry, a little candle the children gave me on my birthday this year, coasters, my booklight, and a stack of books that I am currently reading, just read or want to read soon. Really a bit boring, I think.

I'm reading The Queen of Subtleties, the one with my booklight tucked inside. The stack includes Middlemarch, On Chesil Beach, and Origin of Species.

The drawer is full of more books, magazines, some bottles of lotion, a hair clip and ponytail holder. There are stashes of books all over my house. Stacks on tables and shelves, drawers and cabinets stuffed full to the brim. I love books. I always have.

I find it very hard to part with most books, and even some of my magazines. In our other house, I had some beautiful built-in bookshelves with cabinets underneath them. The shelves and the cabinets were full of books, magazines, and photo albums. My built in bookshelves in this house are small by comparison, so there are books in my nightstand, on shelves in my closet, in cabinets in the half bath and even in the bottom of my large double linen closet. I continue to buy books, and I continue to hold on to them. I need our lovely daughter to finish growing up and go to college already. I need her bedroom for book storage!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fun Monday #8: Coming and Going

I wasn't blogging a year ago when Fun Monday started, so I am showing you the views from the front and the back of my house. I even threw in a couple of street shots. Even if I had been blogging, the view would have been different. We've just been in this house since July.

This is the view from the front porch. You can see my porch light in the top left hand corner of the picture. I'm an excellent photographer. Not. For the four pictures you see posted here, I probably took twenty.

This was taken at the end of my driveway, looking west.

This is looking east. When I took these pictures Sunday afternoon, it was cold, clear and sunny.

For this picture, I stood on the patio, just outside the back door. The field just behind the line of trees is where we see squirrels, deer, and if you believe my middle son, the occasional coyote.

Here is the link to the first post on my blog. It wasn't that long ago, just from April, 2007. I don't think I've grown much since then, although I have learned to post clickable pictures thanks to Laurie. (Not that I always do.) Oh, and people actually read my posts now. That first post? Not one comment.

Go on over and see my fellow Okie, Vicki, to check out the rest of the list. It'll be fun!


Here's something else I learned from Laurie: A gratuitous puppy pic. Maddy needs her sleep.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun Monday #7 is a Gem

This week's Fun Monday is hosted by Ann over at For the Long Run. She is one of my favorite blog buddies, and her idea to share a website that changed our lives is so clever.

My mother is a serious collector of antiques. Red kitchen items from the '40s, old cast iron, anything related to the Oklahoma frontier, furniture, several patterns of dishes, and so many other things I cannot remember them all.

One of her obsessions is a pattern made by the defunct ceramic and pottery company, Harker Pottery, U.S.A. The company was established around 1857 in Ohio and operated until 1972. The pattern is called "Dainty Flower" and is part of the company's Cameoware line. Mama collects the blue and white version. It is a popular pattern that began with a very art deco design and then morphed into something called the shell shape by collectors.

One year, probably about ten or eleven years ago, she was looking for this pattern and having a hard time finding it. Her mother, who died when she was three, had some pieces of this pattern and my mother had decided to collect a complete set. I started looking for a nice piece for her birthday. I went to all of my usual antiques haunts, hit the thrift stores, and even tried shopping garage and estate sales in older, established neighborhoods. Nothing. Nada. Not even one piece.

My husband is a techie and he had been using the internet for a good while by this time. I think it was probably about 1997 or 1998. He suggested I go online and do a search for the pattern or any information about it. I had no idea what he was talking about. He logged on to our (incredibly slow) dial-up connection and went to a search engine to teach me how to conduct a search. I think it was Alta Vista that we used.

What he found was this little gem of a site, a virtual store on the internet that dealt solely in antiques. I was shocked such a thing existed. It was a revelation. I could shop for my mother's hard to find antique collectibles at our desk! Without leaving the house! Without wasting gallons and gallons of gas! I was in heaven.

Since then, I've moved on to an array of online businesses that range from Amazon and ebay to clothing stores, toy stores, pet stores and little tiny places that sell vintage stereos, or golf equipment, or musical instruments or theater costumes. I even have a Harker pattern of my own that I collect and use for our every day dishes.

I am the rare woman who absolutely hates to shop. But when I can do it in my pajamas from the comfort of my sofa, it's not so bad.

My husband is sorry he ever showed me how to use a search engine.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fun Monday #6: From Zero to Four in Record Time

Our lovely hostess, Lisa, wants to meet the pets. A little more than a year ago, this would have been a hard one for me. We had no pets for a long time. Our house was full to the brim with our children and our possessions and our children's possessions. I didn't want to be bothered with feeding animals, grooming animals, or taking animals to the vet. I was busy. My husband was busy. The children . . . well, the children didn't get a vote.

I changed my mind at the most inconvenient time. Well, my mind was changed for me, but that's another story. Courtesy of my parents, we ended up with two little kittens. At the time, we were in the middle of moving. Our house was on the market and my husband was living in a three bedroom, two bath, third floor walk-up. The kids and I spent part of our time driving on the turnpike to see him, carrying these two little ones back and forth:

They are brother and sister. The little yellow one, the male, was so sick he almost died. He weighed fourteen ounces the first time we took him to the vet. His sister weighed eighteen ounces.

Now, this big guy is over eight pounds. Our lovely daughter, with her odd, dramatic streak, dubbed him Streudel.

And this pretty girl named Lucy now weighs just over four pounds. She's quite delicate. This is her favorite place in the house, right on top of our fridge. Her reasons will become quite clear when you see what we got next.

We enjoyed the cats so much and found they really weren't much trouble. One day, my husband and I watched as our then eight year old son kept his distance from the neighbor's dog. He was clearly interested, but watched from across the street as the other children petted the dog and played with him. Later on, we asked him why, and he informed us that he couldn't touch a dog because of his allergies. In a very pitiful way. That's when we decided to get a puppy for Christmas, one that wouldn't shed and cause the little guy to have allergy problems. That is how Jack came into our lives.

He is about four months old here. I can't describe how much he changed our lives. The children love him. I love him. My husband pretends he doesn't, but he loves Jack, too. Below is a shot of Jack, laying in his favorite spot: my husband's lap.

As Jack grew, we decided he needed a companion. Mostly to keep him from killing the cats. Lucy had taken to hiding somewhere high all day, not coming out to socialize with me until I had crated Jack at night. Streudel played with Jack, but spent a lot of his time jumping up onto railings and counters and furniture.

This is Maddy, the day we brought her home. She was eight weeks old. Jack went nuts. He barked at her most of that afternoon. It wasn't until the next day he figured out that she would play with him.

And this is Maddy now, about seventeen weeks old. She needs a haircut, but isn't she adorable?

Even though we've only had Maddy about two months, she and Jack are already inseparable. They nap together and play together. Most of the time, they forget all about the cats, which makes for much happier kitty cats. I'd say that we're just one big, happy family.

That's how we went from one pet to four in under eighteen months. I thought I'd lost my mind for a while, but we wouldn't trade them for anything now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Excited is not a strong enough word to describe our lovely daughter's reaction to Notre-Dame Cathedral. When she was a little girl, one of her favorite movies was set here. Being a Disney animated movie, the detail in the film was pulled directly from the cathedral and brought the setting to life for my little girl at the tender age of four or five, long before she had dreams of speaking French and walking the streets of Paris.

These figures, or others like them, came to life and had sly conversations about Quasi Modo and his adventures with Esmerelda. Our lovely daughter was delighted to see that the cathedral really housed such statues.

Even the gargoyles had their parts. Three of them were Quasi Modo's best friends in the film. The look on her face when she saw the first of the gargoyles on the facade was priceless. Even after eleven or twelve years, she was still in awe of the way the animators had brought the cathedral to life.

I asked her to pose before we went in. I adore this picture. You can see how much joy she's feeling from the look on her face.

We walked slowly through the cathedral after we entered, looking at the breathtaking French Gothic interior. The most beautiful statue of Joan of Arc I have ever seen resides in the cathedral's sanctuary.

The stained glass throughout is gorgeous. This rose window in particular is breathtaking.

Much of the story in the movie takes place in the South Tower which houses a 13 ton bell called Emmanuel. This bell chimes the hours of the day. It is now rung using machinery, but for hundreds of years was rung by hand as it is in the movie. As we stood in line to go into the tower, mist began to fall. Once inside we were glad for the dryness and the relative warmth. We climbed the winding stairs all the way to the top so my daughter could see the bell room and the bell itself. The higher we walked, the stronger the wind became. As we ascended, the stairs became smaller and more curved. It felt almost as if you were climbing around a pole. I remember slowing down because I was becoming dizzy.

She was not disappointed. This is the best shot of her I was able to take in the bell tower. You can see how the wind is whipping her hair across her face. I had to hold the camera well away from me in order to keep my hair from covering the lens of the camera. It was worth all the trouble, though. I wish that you could hear her giggling. The bell tower enchanted her.

The view was fabulous. If it had been a beautiful, calm day, I think we would have spent hours taking pictures and exploring the tower. As it was, we stayed just as long as we could stand the cool, damp air and the wind.

There wasn't a moment of Paris that disappointed, but for our lovely daughter, this day was one of the best.