Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Someone from the county assessor's office came by for a surprise inside house inspection.  I had nothing new to show except that we had pulled up some stinky carpet this weekend.  She decided my house was valued to highly, and they would need to bring it down.

This is good news, right?  Lower taxes, right?

So why do I feel sort of insulted?

Here's some Kipling:

The Houses
1898 -- A Song of the Dominions
Rudyard Kipling

'Twixt my house and thy house the pathway is broad,
In thy house or my house is half the world's hoard;
By my house and thy house hangs all the world's fate,
On thy house and my house lies half the world's hate.

For my house and thy house no help shall we find
Save thy house and my house -- kin cleaving to kind;
If my house be taken, thine tumbleth anon.
If thy house be forfeit, mine followeth soon.

'Twixt my house and thy house what talk can there be
Of headship or lordship, or service or fee?
Since my house to thy house no greater can send
Than thy house to my house -- friend comforting friend;
And thy house to my house no meaner can bring
Than my house to thy house -- King counselling King.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Two Guys and a Canoe

As you know, the part of our trip last week that I was really looking forward to was seeing if the Great Falls were really that great, or just great to two guys and a native woman in a canoe -- meaning Lewis and Clark.  I did not finish Undaunted Courage before we left, so, yes, Brent endured Lisa's Readers Theatre for the entire trip.  I literally read the last page as we drove down the hill to our house.  Brent is a very good sport and took turns reading while I drove.

So here we are at the Great Falls Interpretive Center, which is not their big museum as I thought, but was still very good. (Photo by Colin on Grandpa's "not best" camera.)  Perhaps you recognize my sweatshirt from our freakishly cold Florida trip this winter.  I look very serious in this picture.  I am sure it is because I am in deep, deep thought about Lewis and Clark and not irritated because Colin has sat on another chocolate covered granola bar and now has a butt covered in snack.  I did not pack enough clothes for snack sittings.

Anyway, the answer is -- yes -- the Great Falls were a problem.  L&C had been told it would be a two day portage around the falls, but arrived to discover that was not just one falls but five over a 13 mile stretch. Here's another shot by Colin.  Four of the falls have dams today and the fifth is under water.

Add to this that they weren't just two guys and a native woman and a canoe, but two guys, a native woman, her baby, her "husband" who won her in a poker game or something, and about 30 other guys and their stuff and their boats. Problem.  It took them a month.  Here's a shot from a model at the interpretive center of them lugging one of the boats uphill over the cactus and such.

In the end, it turns out I am not a huge fan of Lewis and Clark but of Sacagawea who hauled her new baby across the country with 30 guys and her loser "husband" who won her in a poker game.

I'm going to have to find her interpretive center now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

View from the Mountains

If a small blue genie came and asked me if I'd like to move to the mountains tomorrow, I would probably say, "And how!"  I'm not sure why this is.  Maybe it's because the landscape is so foreign to this eastern edge of the prairie girl.  I've spent plenty staring at lakes it's true -- but the blue sky and the mountains just puts me in a freaky trance.

Grandpa John had Colin taking pictures with Grandpa's "not best" camera -- which was much nicer than our best camera.  Here's one Colin took while I just stared at the mountain.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Today's poem is for reader-friend Diane in honor of her new love of Ogden Nash.  Diane has a really fine husband, but I think she may enjoy this anyway.

What Almost Every Woman Knows Soon or Later
Ogden Nash

Husbands are things that wives have to get used to putting up with.
And with whom they breakfast with and sup with.
They interfere with the discipline of nurseries,
And forget anniversaries,
And when they have been particularly remiss
They think they can cure everything with a great big kiss,
And when you tell them about something awful they have done they just look unbearably patient and smile a superior smile,
And think, Oh she'll get over it after a while.
And they always drink cocktails faster than they can assimilate them,
And if you look in their direction they act as if they were martyrs and you were trying to sacrifice, or immolate them,
And when it's a question of walking five miles to play golf they are very energetic but if it's doing anything useful around the house they are very lethargic,
And then they tell you that women are unreasonable and don't know anything about logic,
And they never want to get up or go to bed at the same time as you do,
And when you perform some simple common or garden rite like putting cold cream on your face or applying a touch of lipstick they seem to think that you are up to some kind of black magic like a priestess of Voodoo.
And they are brave and calm and cool and collected about the ailments of the person they have promised to honor and cherish,
But the minute they get a sniffle or a stomachache of their own, why you'd think they were about to perish,
And when you are alone with them they ignore all the minor courtesies and as for airs and graces, they utterly lack them,
But when there are a lot of people around they hand you so many chairs and ashtrays and sandwiches and butter you with such bowings and scrapings that you want to smack them.
Husbands are indeed an irritating form of life,
And yet through some quirk of Providence most of them are really very deeply ensconced in the affection of their wife.

Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Water Slide

We are home and I have many things to tell you, but I have to start with the best part . . .

All summer long Colin has been asking to go to a water park, and the answer every time has been a resounding NO! and the conversation continues on like this.


Because you don't swim and you don't like to go down water slides.

"So?  Do all kids like to go down water slides but me?"

Yes, a lot of kids like to go down water slides.  Those kids who don't like water slides don't go to water parks.

"Am I the only one who doesn't like water slides?"

I am sure you're not.

"I could just watch."

No, we are not paying to have you just watch.  You have to go down the slides.

"Is it just me who doesn't like to go down slides?"

On and on, around and around this conversation would go until finally Brent or I would say, "We're not talking about this any more."

So the one of the last nights of our trip I had booked us into a hotel with two water slides.  I figured Colin could have his fix of water slide watching and maybe we wouldn't have to talk about it for a while.  I didn't tell him we were going to do this, but the night before we got to this hotel, Colin figured it out by looking through a brochure for the city we were visiting.  He studied that brochure thoroughly.

We got to the hotel, put on our swimsuits, and went down to the pool.  Brent and I each took a deep breath and said in flat monotone, "Colin, are you going down the slide?"  We expected the usual, "No."  Imagine our surprise, then when he said, "Yes," and headed for the stairs.

The tiny lifeguard was concerned that the chlorine was bothering my eyes.  I had to explain to her I was having a Weeping Mommy Moment.

Colin popped up at the end of the slide and asked, "Can we go to a water park now?"

Yes.  I guess so!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Packing Up

I was a poor blogger last week.  I want to tell you it was because I was finishing Undaunted Courage.  The truth is, it was hot and like the true blue Minnesotan I am, I just shut down in the heat.  (Shout out to the Jones family in Africa.  I realize no one there feels sorry for me.  I know nothing of hot.)

Packing for a 3 year old and 12 year old and 41 year old and 51 year old is a special challenge.  I am taking the next few days off to pack and then we leave.  I don't think I will be able to send you news from the road, so stay busy and take care until we return in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here is a picture of a small boy eating a big cheese:

I don't know what to tell you.  He got himself a snack.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lewis and Clark Homework

My Lewis and Clark homework isn't going very well.  The book is good and I am loving reading it, but the only time I have been able to open it up is right before bed . . . snuggled comfy in the covers . . . as the day's (yawn) troubles melt away in a pleasant haze beneath . . . my . . . (snore) . . . um . . . pillow.  Lewis and Clark are interesting guys, but their nonfiction selves just can't compete.

To top this off, I've done something I always got mad at my mom for doing.  I read the end of the book.  It doesn't turn out well for Lewis.  No, it does not. It cannot have helped that his mama named him Meriweather.

I fear poor Brent will have to drive across western North Dakota/ Eastern Montana* listening to Lisa's Readers Theatre. Sometimes there are different voices for the characters.  Lewis probably has a Virginia drawl.

*Beloved Southern and Eastern friends and loved ones, this is a drive that could be done with a brick on the acceleration pedal and a rope tied to the steering wheel.  Welcome to the prairie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I'm in the mood for another nautical poem celebrating the great success of Ma and Pa on their cruise.

Okay, well, this is actually a poem about death, but let's not read too much into that.

Crossing the Bar
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vacation Preparation

If you don't hear from me next week, it is because we have gone on vacation to Montana. Please remember if you are thinking of coming to rob my house, there is nothing good here.  The only thing of any real value is my wedding ring, and I will be wearing that.  If you want the old non-HD televisions, well . . . I feel sorry for you.

So anyway, we are going to Great Falls to see if the great falls are really that great or just great to two guys and a native woman in a canoe.  When I say this out loud I've noticed that some people laugh a genuine laugh and some people laugh a sort of hysterical "What is she babbling about now?!" laugh.  I'm babbling about Lewis and Clark, of course.  Their big museum is in Great Falls, so we're going to that too.  Then we're going to Glacier National Park and some other pretty places in western Montana.

In preparation for our trip, I am reading "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose which is a biography of Lewis and Clark.  Okay, I'll be honest, I skipped the first part about their childhoods because I'm really only interested in their vacation to Montana.  

When I think about them starting out, I think about frontiersmen forging their adventuresome way across the country in name of exploration, which is the American way.  Truthfully, President Jefferson urgently needed them to find a waterway across the country to the West coast because -- now think of this -- nothing traveled faster than a horse or maybe a raft downriver. We cannot wrap our little 21st century brains around this.  Right?  They could not wrap their brains around the fact that something could move faster -- because even thought they had light years of information on science, geography, medicine, topography, navigation, etc., etc., etc. that exceeded even the learned Greeks, they did not move any faster than the brothers in togas.

In just a few more years time, messages would travel by telegraph and people would travel by railroad, but most people could not even imagine such a thing.  What do you think it is that is right around the corner that we can not imagine today?  Do you ever think back to a time when you got lost or stranded and think, "Why didn't I just call someone?"  Right! Because you didn't have a phone with you.

In other news, "Dad" called from the Alaskan cruise ship today.  They are on board and everyone is doing just fine.