Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Joe!!!

I love Joe Biden. He's an amazing man and will be a wonderful addition to the ticket. Yay, Little Blue State!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ruby on the Rocks

Yes, sports fans, Ruby went rock-climbing with the family. Now, you must understand that my family thinks I am the biggest scaredy-cat around, and they're right, but they're right for the wrong reason. I'm not afraid for myself, but when I see their beloved little bodies on a precipice, I panic -- and sometimes I cry, because this is what I'm watching!!!

The fingers on the edge of the cliff (shriek) belong to eight-year-old Nature Boy, and the pictures below are of Witter and Nashy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let the Vacation Begin...

Our family is in Bar Harbor together for vacation... but first I got to spend two nights with my friend Songbird and her family. After many delays, we were joined by Mary Beth.
Here we are at Songbird's.

We laughed and talked and I was very happy to see them both.

Meanwhile, Garden Girl, Nana, Shiny and Nature Boy hiked in Acadia National Park, but not without incident.

Yep, that's right. They got the requisite visit to the ER out of the way on the first day.
More pics tomorrow . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ahhh, Vacation

We're on vacation with almost all of our very large extended family (we miss you, Bethy)

We've got Big Kids --

We've got the Great Aunt Ann, who will soon be 90 --

And my sister, Annie Boo --

And little children hard at work --

More later, when I get back to the real world --

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Looking for Suggestions

We're headed to Rehoboth Beach on Friday for a week of vacation. Yay!! Among our party are seven children between the ages of three and nine. (Yes, you read that right, seven children under nine! As you might guess, we never travel in a small group.)

Our night-time routine at home includes reading a chapter (or two or three) to our eight-year-old, but the current book, Watership Down, is too long and too difficult for us to read with the above group of children, so I want to bring some books to read at bedtime that other kids can enjoy.

Any suggestions for books for ages 4-8 that can be read in a sitting (or two or three)?

Thanks, everyone.....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Disparate Houseguests

So the blog's been a little quiet, eh? That doesn't mean that the Old Stone House Gang has been lolling around. We've had Houseguests.

First, we welcomed our old friend Mary Muffin, her husband John, and their adorable baby boy, JackJack. Sorry, no pictures, but take my word for it. That is

Then Grendel arrived. He's a really big Bearded Dragon lizard, who eats lots of crickets every day. (Garden Girl calls the cricket cage "Village of the Damned.") He'll be with us until the end of the summer. We're watching him while friends move to a new house.

Then came the puppies! One plaintive phone call to my office was all it took for Garden Girl to persuade me that we could foster seven three-week old puppies and their mom. In no time, Lily and her puppies, Raven, Winston, Ringo, Gracie, Peach, Echo, and Bernie arrived to spend a few weeks with us until they're ready to be weaned and sent on to permanent homes. And no, we didn't have the heart to let them all go -- Lily will stay with us. And we found homes for a few more. Ringo will go with a cousin. One will go to Nashy's beau, and our neighbors are looking them over every day, so we hope one will go to them. One of them will stay with us, though we're not sure which. Which means we'll go from two dogs to four, but it won't feel like a big change, since we passed through being a ten dog house first.

Hendrik Hertzberg on the Death of Jesse Helms

Hendrick Hertzberg said it better than anyone --

Dropping the Helmsman

Far too late for it to do anybody any good, Jesse Helms has died. He has done so on Independence Day, which, since he was born too late to own slaves and in too liberal an age to allow him to outlaw sedition, will forever be his only resemblance to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday Five -- Fireworks Edition

From Sally over at the RevGals ---
I have to admit that I am chuckling to myself a little; how strange it seems for me a Brit to be posting the Friday Five on 4th July! I realise that most of our revgals will be celebrating in some way today, but I hope that you can make a little room for Friday Five! From my short stay in Texas my memories of the celebrations are of fireworks and picnics, one year we went in to central Houston to watch the fireworks and hear the Symphony Orchestra play, we were welcomed and included, and that meant a lot!

So lets have a bit of fun:

1. Barbeques or picnics ( or are they essentially the same thing?)
Not the same at all.
Picnic -- lunch, sandwiches, lots to carry, bugs, and possibly sand from the beach in the potato chips
Barbecue -- dinner, grilled yummy things, cocktails, and lawn chairs -- and for the most deluxe barbecue of all, pit barbecue with vinegary Tidewater barbecue sauce, piled on soft rolls with cole slaw.
(Can you tell I have a preference?)

2. The park/ the lake/ the beach or staying at home simply being?
Home or the beach

3. Fireworks- love 'em or hate 'em?
LOVE the fireworks. I'm a little spoiled, because I grew up in a house perched at the edge of a busy harbor where the 4th of July fireworks are fired from a barge in the middle of the harbor. We have the best seats in town to see fireworks reflected on the water.
I still get excited about fireworks, and last week, we went to a baseball game where we saw one of the best fireworks shows ever.
The first time my sister and her husband kissed, fireworks, real ones, went off nearby. They weren't expecting them. How cute is that??

4. Parades- have you ever taken part- share a memory...
I've never been in a parade, and only rarely attended them. You'll know for sure that I grew up in the south when I tell you that the parades in our little town featured a replica of the Merrimack, an ironclad Civil War ship that battled the Monitor. It fired a thundering cannon that made my chest thump as it rolled past.

5. Time for a musical interlude- if you could sum up holidays in a piece of music what would it be?
It's a tie -- Pete Seeger singing This Land is Your Land, or Ray Charles singing American the Beautiful.

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Reading

The Little Blue State Legislature concluded its two year legislative session last night, or more accurately, at 5 o'clock this morning. Once the session ends, my work returns to a more normal schedule: no driving to Capital City several days a week; no checking the state website to see what mischief those crazy senators are cooking up for the defenders of liberty; no sitting outside representatives' offices hoping for an opportunity to clue them in on the (often unintended) damage they are about to inflict on the constitution. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do, and some of the finest people I know are politicians. No really, I mean it, but that's a blog post for another day.

The good news is that there's a four-day weekend coming up, and starting the following Friday, a week at the beach. I've been accumulating books at an alarming rate, and the tower of reading matter next to my bed is both enticing and daunting. So here goes --

Cost Roxana Robinson
The People of the Book Geraldine Brooks
Nudge Cass Sunstein and Richard Tholer
Certain Girls Jennifer Weiner
Here if You Need Me Kate Braestrup
March Geraldine Brooks
Influence Robert Cialdini
Digging to America Anne Tyler
Secrets in the Dark Frederick Buechner
Property Valerie Martin
Writing Tools Roy Peter Clark
Within These Walls Carroll Pickett
Keys to Drawing Bert Dodson
Fabriano sketchbook

I'll be posting reviews as I work down the pile.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Proud Mama

In May, we had not one, but two graduations. Nashy graduated from Brainy Marvelous College, and Shiny graduated from Stone Tower School. Pictures from Nashy's graduation can be found here.
Festivities for Shiny's commencement began on Thursday night at Baccalaureate, where her dad preached a wonderful sermon for the graduating class and their families. Friday night brought the awards ceremony, where Shiny won the theater award for her roles as Emily in Our Town and Poppy in Noises Off! This award was not a surprise; Shiny had already enjoyed the prize, a trip to New York with her fabulous drama teacher to see a Broadway show. What we didn't know was that Shiny also won the Trustees Award, given to the student who has given selfless service to the Stone Tower School community. Think of it as "best all around with an extra dash of generosity." And yes, we had some tears.

Update on the rest of the brood --
Nashy's placement interviews for her Americorps year are going well. So far, her favorite is the Little Blue State Art Museum, but she still has two more interviews next week.
Witter has been cast as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Little Blue State University's fall opera.
Nature Boy stepped up to fill in for an absent classmate in the end of year performance by the primary class at his Montessori school, and was able to speak both parts from memory.

I can't tell you how proud and happy I am. Here we are, celebrating together, thinking of those who are far away and remembering the grandparents who are no longer with us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Summer Meme

I got tagged for a summer meme by Quotidian Grace. So here goes.

1.) What first tells you that Summer is here?
the crazy round of activities as four children end the school year

2.) Name your five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.
eating steamed crabs and getting covered in Old Bay seasoning
taking cool showers
walking on the beach
talking on the porch late into the night
watching lightning bugs at dusk

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?

4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?
homemade peach ice cream

5.) Favorite Summer memory?
riding the waves at Virginia beach and then falling asleep still feeling the ocean rocking

6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why?
If I have to choose, I'll take extreme cold, but I'd like to stipulate a February or March vacation in a tropical climate.

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season?
I'd be happy to get through some of the pile next to my bed.

8.) How does the Summer affect your faith? Is it a hindrance or an ally?
It doesn't hinder my faith, but it does affect my church attendance. What can I say? I'm an Episcopalian.

And what use is a meme if it isn't passed around? Let's see...

Gracebythesea, Songbird, RevDrKate, Midlife Rookie, Vicar of Hogsmeade, Elastigirl

Friday Five Garage Sale

From the RevGals site --

Welcome to your irregularly scheduled Fifth Friday Five, hosted by will smama and Songbird!
Since will smama is preparing for a joint garage sale with her parents, and Songbird's church had a Yard and Plant Sale last Saturday, we have five enormously important questions we hope you will answer:

1) Are you a garage saler?
No, but I have a neighbor, Painter (aptly named for his painterly eye) who brings me the most wonderful treasures from his travels.

2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?
See above.

3) Seriously, if you're not a garage saler, you are probably not going to want to play this one.
(That wasn't really #3.)
Yep, that would be me.

3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?
Well, Painter has found some beautiful pottery for us if that counts.

4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?
A church I once belonged to had an annual auction. I waved at a friend and found myself the owner of a 3 foot X 50 foot (yes, 50 is correct -- it was for a dock) length of outdoor carpet. So no, it's not worth it for me -- I'd rather visit than bid.

5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?
No, but Garden Girl grew up on a horse farm and she's amazing. A few weeks ago, I watched her go head to head with a carpet dealer. Really -- horse trader vs. carpet dealer. He was impressed! (and we got a great deal.) My bargaining style goes something like this, "Oh, that's the price? Awesome. I love it. So how much for the commission and the delivery charge? Is it OK to tip the driver?" Not so effective for saving money.

BONUS: For the true aficionado: Please discuss the impact of Ebay, Craig's List, Freecycle, etc... on the church or home yard/garage sale.
Oddly, for a garage sale avoider, I love Ebay and Craigslist. Much of the furniture in our house that didn't come from someone's attic came from Ebay. And I've had great luck getting sold-out concert tickets on Craigslist -- that's how we got four great seats for k.d. lang. And if she comes to your town, run, don't walk to see her show.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tag, I'm It

I got tagged by the Vicar of Hogsmeade.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Yadayadayada

Ten years ago: I had just been admitted to the bar and was finishing a clerkship at the Little Blue State Court of Chancery. I had three children 12, 9, and 8. I was very, very busy, and I was very, very scared.

Five things on today's "to do" list:
1. Meet with Little Blue State Senator (thanks to Songbird's dad, this is not as scary as it sounds)
2. Teleconference -- loooong and boooring
3. Hear about Nashy's interviews with potential placements at Americorps jobfair
4. Gym ????
5. Cook dinner and hear about everyone's day -- encourage Garden Girl to abandon plans to purchase this --

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire:
Support programs to increase literacy; travel; give my children an education and enough financial security to allow them to do the work they choose; become a perpetual student; stay active in politics.

Three bad habits: snacking; buying books; being crabby and snappish when I'm stressed or tired

Five places I've lived: Tidewater Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., Maryland Eastern Shore, Little Blue State. Only four!

Five jobs I've had: waitress, caterer, stay-at-home mom, sales person for the phone book, lawyer

I'm tagging all five people who read my blog, but didn't go on the BE. You know who you are!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Graduation Weekend

We had a wonderful graduation weekend! Nashy graduated from Brainy Marvelous College, where 311 amazing young women received degrees. Nature Boy thinks the place looks like Hogwarts, and it kind of does.
Congratulations, Nashy! We love you sooooo much.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Soon Gone

If he had lived, my father would be 71 years old today.

He died at 42.

Yes, his eyes were as twinkly as this picture, and his smile was as mischievous. At his funeral, the church overflowed with people from every walk of life. One image that is burned in memory is of Songbird's tiny lady-like grandmother waiting in line to get in the church next to next to group of young basketball players my dad had befriended.

My dad was a small town lawyer, a general practitioner who took almost every kind of case in his early career. (For the blessedly short time he took criminal and divorce cases, we were not permitted to answer our home phone.) Almost every time I visit my hometown, I meet someone who knew him, someone with a story of a time he was kind to them or helped them through a difficult time. He was funny and smart, and somehow he managed to have both high standards and many friends.

My daughter will graduate from college on Sunday. I wish he were here to see her. He would be so proud.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What We've Been Doing Around Here

I haven't been posting as much as I should, because it's been a little crazy around here. I'll share a little photo album of what we've been up to. It's not the complete docket, but it will give you a taste of life around this little patch of the Little Blue State. I don't have pictures of Nashy and Witter, because they are away at school, working hard to finish the semester. Witter is rehearsing for juries, and the sound of French and Italian art songs and arias don't photograph very well. Neither do Nashy's activities;she's finishing her Senior Thesis and final classes before she graduates from BMC on May 18. Oh, and interviewing for jobs for next year.

Shiny has been very creative in the last few weeks. She played Poppy in Noises Off, put up her art installation, sang Stormy Weather with the school jazz band, and went to the prom before finally collapsing in a heap of sleepy girlness on Saturday afternoon. Nature Boy, Garden Girl and I have been getting ready for Corporate City Garden Day, which benefits a local children's charity. Oh, and Garden Girl got some bees! I hope we'll have some honey in the fall.
Here are the photos --

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Armadillo Rodeo

Here's what happened at our house---

Nature Boy (a second-grader): I'm worried that I'm going to be in trouble.

Me: Why?

NB: I got sent to the principal two times.

Me: (bites tongue and doesn't yell) What did you do to get sent to the principal?

NB: Well, I did a flip into music. More like a somersault, but I landed at the right part of the circle. And I didn't hurt anybody or anything.

Me: OKaaay. What happened the second time?

NB: I said, "armadillo rodeo" too many times in library.

Me: (bits tongue and doesn't laugh) Armadillo rodeo, eh? Bet that made your teacher pretty annoyed.

NB: Yeah, but I couldn't help it. It's too fun to say. I said it over and over and over.

One Week Later --
Me: armadillo rodeo. armadillo rodeo. armadillo rodeo. armadillo rodeo. armadillo rodeo.

Think they'll send me home from work? Because, really, I can't get "armadillo rodeo" out of my head.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My New Morning Habit

This is what I reach for in the morning as soon as I log on --

Indexed -- the world defined through Venn diagrams and Cartesian graphs. It may not sound funny, but trust me, it is. For all you churchy types, I give you two examples --

Weddings --
She Wants MORE Presents?

Funerals --
Where's the Feeling?

Check it out. Indexed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Knock the Gobble

On our way home from dinner tonight, we talked about an adoption proceeding we attended on Friday. It was a second parent adoption, in which a step-parent adopts a child who only has one legal parent. In the Little Blue State, this means that kids with gay parents get to have two legal parents, with all that entails, including inheritance rights, social security benefits, and legal ties to both the parents who are raising them. Plus, any children of the adopting parent become legal siblings.

On Friday, a dear friend adopted the nine-year-old twins her partner gave birth to before they were a couple. In the adoption, the twins also gained a sibling, Caroline. After the decrees were signed, the judge called the twins to the bench and had them deliver the decrees to their new mom. Then, in lovely gesture, he asked their six year old sister, Caroline, to come behind the bench, where he let her bang the gavel to adjourn the court. Pretty cool thing for a little kid.

I adopted Nature Boy in a similar proceeding when he was less than two years old. He doesn't remember, so he watched everything with eagle eyes, and tonight we talked about all we had seen. He thought it would be strict, like court on TV, but the judge was kind and funny. He wanted to know if the same things had happened when he was adopted, and we told him how his grandfather had testified that he was glad I would raise his grandchild, how his brother and sisters had spoken to the judge about wanting to have him as a little brother, and how glad we are to be a family. He was quiet for a moment and then said, "There's one thing I don't understand. Why did the judge let Caroline knock the gobble?" It only took us a minute to understand that he meant bang the gavel, and we all laughed.

Here is the concluding language of the case that made second parent adoption possible for children in our state:
In fact and therefore in law, what does matter in the best interests of both Peter and George is that Gene Hart and Burke Shiri live in a loving and long lasting committed relationship. In fact and in law, what does matter in their best interests is that Peter and George have already begun to reap the benefits of the love of these two men and have, even in their tender years, returned it in kind. In fact and in law, what does matter in the best interests of Peter and George is that they are thriving in the environment created by Gene Hart and Burke Shiri.
Having stated the above and for reasons stated on the record the Court
concludes that it is in the best interests of both Peter and George to say in the
eyes of justice and law what is already in fact - namely:
- Peter Hart - shall be and is HEREBY the adopted child of Burke Shiri.
- George Hart - shall be and is HEREBY the adopted child of Burke Shiri.
Amen. Knock the gobble.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Forty Years Ago --

From the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday April 13, 2008

Acts 2:42-47

Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The year: 1968, a Sunday in Springtime. The place: my grandparents' church in a small Southern town. They are Bible-thumping, no dancing, no cards, no alcohol, country Methodists. I am eight years old, busily cutting pictures from magazines and gluing them to manila paper to illustrate the Bible story. Excited by the idea that the early Christians banded together to share what they owned with whoever needed it, I ask the Sunday School teacher why we can't do that, why we can't just share everything, rich and poor people, white and black people together. Jesus would like that, right? All the people eating their food with glad and generous hearts would be great, wouldn't it?

This is the first time I hear the word Communist. . .

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ladies, We can Make Our Own RGBP Tattoos!

From one of my favorite design websites, SwissMiss --

Inkjet tattoo paper


Tattoo yourself - or the kids - with no pain and the added bonus of being able to scrub it off with hot soapy water. These decal papers enable you to use your inkjet printer to print 'tattoos' that look just like the real thing - from your own customised designs. They take minutes to do and, if left unscrubbed, will last up to a week. Why not ring the changes and create different tattoos for different occasions?

The tattoo sheets come in twos: one printable A4 sheet and one adhesive film. The process is quick and easy as well as painless (even if you have sensitive skin, as the 'tattoos' are water-based and non-toxic.) See the step-by-step guide for precise directions or download the instructions sheet. First print your tattoo onto the printable sheet (remembering to reverse your image/text - your computer will enable you to do this). Then transfer the image onto the adhesive sheet and apply it to the skin. Peel off the adhesive film - and it's done.

Here's a US reseller.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friends Who Write Books

Marisa's new book came out on April 1. I went to her reading at our local bookstore; it's fun to be a fan when it's your friend who's the star.

I'm reading it, liking it, and feeling proud.