Roses. Reading. Roosevelt


I’m in the middle of Per Pettersen’s To Siberia. It’s lovely and sad. Did you read his Out Stealing Horses? Also wonderful.

Here’s a link to an article about him in the New Yorker.

Late last night, after a paper had been nearly written and many lines of latin translated, M made cookies while I read to her about yellow journalism and the Spanish American war. American history is actually interesting. The Spanish American war was only about 40 years after the end of the Civil War. Can you imagine people having lived through the Civil War wanting to go gallivanting off to another war? And yet they did, apparently. Much as people having lived through Vietnam thought Iraq was a good idea. Hmph.

I guess it seems especially interesting because I’m working on a collection of briefs written around 1906. I am not actually reading them, by I am supposing they are of a similar mindset.

I just now looked at one, which was all about water rights and types of rock and alluvial fans and water filtering down.


Things look up

I called the limo people and the man on the phone very nicely said (in a lovely Maine accent) that it had already been refunded.


Also, apparently it’s going to be 85 degrees today in Maine with a chance of thunderstorms. Meanwhile, it’s cold here.

That’s all I’ve got.

(Oh, FB conversation took a sudden strange but good turn.)

Vaguely annoying; potentially annoying; just interesting


  • I have to call the limo company (not really a limo — the van that takes you and 6 other people to the airport — you know) and complain about the fact that they switched the time they were supposed to pick N up by two hours, so they waited for her, but not long enough (i.e., 2 hours) and she missed the van and had to get a ride at the very last second with her friend S’s parents who had to then rush her to the airport (a two hour drive) so she wouldn’t miss her plane. Apparently they sent me an email, but from a different address as the receipt so when it went into my spam folder I had no idea.

    It’s not totally their fault, but it seems that they do bear a share of the blame, don’t you think?

  • Facebook. People. Your complicated relationships with people. Tales of their children. But your children are happy and good. Let’s leave it at that.
  • I have been really worried that M is going to fail the AP US history test. You may not believe this, but at LUPS there really are AP US history teachers who do not teach. M has seen a number of interesting movies, though, and apparently the guests on Oprah have been thoroughly discussed. (There is also a really good teacher. Either you are lucky or you are not. How I hate that school.) So M is sort of left with learning it all on her own, which I think would be hard for anyone, but is especially hard for M. So she really might fail. Which then, you know, college, etc. But — a sudden insight yesterday — I really do think she’s going to be okay. It’s going to be a quirky path, but she’s going to be much more successful out of high school than she was in high school. She has a learning disability. She’s dyslexic and has slow processing speed. But she’s quite bright, gifted even, and very focused (which sometimes helps and sometimes doesn’t), and once she’s able to engage her mind the way it likes to be engaged, she’s going to be just fine. It’s just a matter of not letting her get too discouraged along the way. She’s pretty confident lately, though, which is good.
  • It’s very odd. I had the kind of mind that did just fine in high school, although I’ll admit being at kind of a loss in college, which I don’t think was really the fault of my mind. But neither of my kids are like that at all, which has caused me to learn a little bit about how different minds work, and it’s actually fascinating. It’s also fascinating the way that schools really are set up for one kind of mind. I don’t think it’s the case that suddenly minds are different. I think differently minded people have been struggling with school for quite some time. I don’t know how it can be fixed. For one thing, schools are located at a sort of horrible intersection of education and politics. And then, some teachers are great and some — remember, perhaps, your 9th grade health teacher — are not very bright, and some — 8th grade math teacher — not very bright and also really mean.
  • Poor M, though. She really gets the worst of it.
  • Ooops. Back to annoying again.

While we were out


Jimmy missed me. He has not been very far from me since I’ve come back. At this moment he is sitting on the table behind the computer.


The garden went wild. I was outside all day yesterday trying to restore order, or at least to remove a small percentage of the weeds.


I think I broke the lawnmower whacking this path into the foot high grass.


Look at this monster, though!

You learn nothing by sitting in the car


It was totally amazing.


I don’t even have very good pictures, since we didn’t think to bring the real camera.


We drove east over the Sierras, and then down 395, which goes down the eastern side of the Sierras. It’s beautiful and desolate. Deserty, with enormous white mountains looming. Incredible. We spent the first night in Bishop, which is a very odd town seeming to consist only of motels. I guess for fisherman and skiiers heading from LA to Mammoth.


We passed Manzanar (one of the camps Japanese-Americans were taken to during World War II), which we drove through, and then headed on to the ancient bristlecone pine forest, where the oldest living things in the world grow. It was beautiful. With just the two of us, it was easy to just stop anytime anything struck our fancy. I’ve been wanting to see the bristlecone pines and Manzanar for ages.


They are quite beautiful. They dot the mountains — they grow only here, I think, but there are a lot of them. They have sort of fat needles, like succulents.


Then we headed into the valley, and I can’t even express how amazing and strange it is. It was very hot, so we’d get up at 6:15, be driving around by 7, intending to see a lot of stuff before it really got hot. In this picture, taken at the Artist’s Drive, it was really really hot. We stopped at most of the places you could stop at by car, and we saw lots of stuff.


Like dried up lakes.


Weird and colorful hills.


Deep volcanic craters. (We walked around this. It wasn’t so hot up there.)


Real, actual ghost towns.

It was amazing.

After two nights there, camping out in a tent, we headed toward the ocean. We wanted to see water and trees. Which we did. We camped on the ocean, and the next day headed home, pausing once at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

It was a great trip. It was great to spend a week with N. Of course, that was the best part of all. She’s grown up a lot. It was great just to spend time with her, and I am so very happy that she’s coming home for the summer.

When we got home, we baked a cake.


A surprising rainbow cake.

I spoke to her last night — my mother and sister had just picked her up at the airport. She sounded very happy.

5 weeks till summer!

Secret posting

N is here!

After many various unbelievable contortions, she actually arrived on Friday night, exactly when we were expecting here.

It’s funny how different she always seems getting off the plane. You’re standing there, waiting for someone about the shape of your expected to emerge down the long hallway, and then she slips by, looking not quite as you expected. I think she tends to look smaller and darker — not the enormous radiant ball of light I see her as in my heart.

Anyway — and now we’re waiting to take of for points South. We’ve sort of decided to be in no hurry, which I think is a good thing.

Perhaps Ill come back with pictures.

It’s about to happen

The piano tuner is coming today at noon.

The house looks like a warren for wolves. (Perhaps this is a slur on wolves, and they’re actually very tidy housekeepers putting all the bones in one corner and sweeping every morning. Which is more than we do, and I apologize.)

I suppose he won’t mind. I did manage to vacuum around the piano. If I just dust it, things should be fine. There’s actually not a huge pile of crap on top of it, which is something of a miracle.

Lucy keeps trying to lick Jimmy’s head. He just got mad and swatted her and left the room, and now she’s looking sad. Hmm. What a nut she is.

Thanks for all your comments. I think the book group did help. There was wine, which undoubtably helped. And there were only three of us, plus A’s husband. They are going to Spain. S has already been to Bahrain and DC this year and is now planning to go to Italy — possibly without children. Wow. So we had a lively travel-planning session. And then I told A all my college concerns (she was a sympathetic listener, having been through this herself three years ago and having a kid somewhat like mine. Actually, her kid is somewhat like M.) And we even discussed the book pretty thoroughly. We’d read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and we had one of those conversations in which you realize that the book was actually more interesting than you thought. I want to read it again, but in a fit of parsimony I borrowed it from the library, so I’ll have to get it back again.

I’m reading Jon Fasman’s second book, The Unpossessed City, which I’m liking a lot, two chapters in.

Okay. Now I have to get dressed and finish my dusting.


I don’t know why I have such an awful sort of feeling.

N is coming home, and we’re going to death valley, which should be fun. But perhaps I am worried about going away again so soon.

Or perhaps I am worried about M and college — her finding one, the hideous application process, her going away . . .

Or N getting home from school, finding a job, going off to Russia.


I don’t exactly know, but I feel sort of hideous.

My book group meets tonight. Maybe that will help.


Okay, we’re back, and trying to catch up.

My experience from this trip: my sister-in-law’s house is a lot cleaner than mine is. I attribute this to the fact that she works outside the house part-time, giving her at least one day at home (and probably more) which she can (and I think does) use to maintain some order. My sister’s house, and my friend L’s house are as messy as mine is. No one can possibly care about this, but I would like to get the house at least vacuumed before N comes home. When I will do this is the big question which remains, at present, unanswered.

I read a lot. I finished the YA trilogy by Cassandra Clare: City of Bones, City of [?Ash?], City of Glass. Which I liked. Still, I can’t quite put out of my mind the fact that the author started out writing Harry Potter fan fiction, and that there was a huge scandal because some of her, essentially, novels written on-line involved some amount of plagiarism. I think she was learning how to write, and obviously not planning to publish those books, and the whole thing is sort of based on plagiarism anyway. But I can’t help thinking of her characters as people borrowed from Rowling, to some extent. Which is all a little bit too bad, since they are good books.

I also am reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, which is really good. It’s a sort of imagined autobiography of Laura Bush, and she actually does a great job of sort of explaining, psychologically, how Laura and George might make sense. Especially Laura. It’s very good, and I was never able to get through her earlier book, Prep.

I tried to read Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds, and did not really like it enough to finish, although I loved Templeton.

That may be it —

Further thoughts involve M and college. The reason I think N’s college works so well for her is that it is a small college, and the students are quite bright, but it’s not overwhelming. N is solidly in the middle, maybe even toward the high end, brain-wise, which for her is a good thing. My kids are not the shining lights in the classroom, I think. We are all really more the type to hide our lights under barrels whenever possible. It’s not a good thing, but it’s a thing, and a thing worth considering, I think. For M, too, we need to find a place that will challenge but also support her, just like N is being challenged, and working very hard, and learning tons, but also where opportunities are open to her. She can be on the club hockey team, she can go to Russia, she knows the professors and they know her. I’m impressed. She probably writes a paper or two a week. I compare that to my experience, where I probably wrote 6-8 papers a semester and knew none of my professors. It was my fault — I was shy and happy to hide in the crowd and also easily intimidated. But given the fact that that was (and is) my personality (and something I fear I have passed on, to some extent), I think N’s choice of college was better than mine, and I think we need to be careful to find something like that for M.

I’m not sure the college she’s picked out is exactly that place. I’m not sure she could get in there, either. I guess I’m hesitant to send her to a place where she’s the last one picked. I think I’d rather send her to a place where they’re happy to have her — but not the place where they’re desperate to have her, either. Hmmm.

Gosh — look at the time!