Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mama, There's Snow on the Trees

This time of year really is beautiful in the valley, and particularly around our house. The cherry trees have been in full bloom for the last week or so, and they are just heavenly. The post title comes from a comment by Steven as we drove into our driveway a few evenings ago -- and the trees do look snow-covered. If you step outside the "green door" (our house, like any good farmhouse, has three outside doors) -- the closest one to the orchard -- you can immediately hear the humming of the bees in the blossoms. About two weeks ago our local beekeeper brought a few boxes of bees in to put in the middle of the orchard, and they'll be there for another couple weeks or so. They're essential to the pollination of the blossoms. This year, the weather is perfect for them -- it's been warm and sunny, and not too windy. The bees have been so active we're finding them in our back garden, sampling our flowers. That's an excellent sign, and we're very happy to have them doing a bit of garden work for us, too!

It's like magic to go stand in the middle of the blossoms, listen to the humming, and feel as though you're in the middle of Kilmenny of the Orchard. Spring is so nice.

love, kristin

Friday, April 24, 2009

Aaack! And Student Bloomer.

I've been trying to post some pictures of our lovely cherry orchard in bloom, but Blogger and I are having issues. Or my computer is having issues. Or our ISP is having issues. Unfortunately, I know just enough about computers to get myself in all sorts of tangles and not have the faintest idea how to untangle myself. Sigh. When in doubt, try again! (That's probably NOT the best maxim for computers, but it seems better for the job than the surgeon's maxim, which Scott enjoys proclaiming sometimes: "When in doubt, cut it out!")

So, for your Friday pleasure, here is my favorite student mess-up of the week (there were several to choose from, but this one provided the greatest mental pictures -- of its aftermath, I mean:

[In an essay about the piece "Graduation" by Maya Angelou--an account of her 8th grade graduation in the Jim Crow South.] "The graduation speaker told them their only ability in life was to be like Joe Louise." Joe LOUIS, the boxer (you know, the Brown Bomber?), is who this young gentleman had in mind. The great mental picture was, as Scott said, wondering what Joe Louis would do to anyone who actually called him "Joe Louise." Of course, he (the writer) also identified "Jim Crow" as being the name of the graduation speaker. That, I felt, was rather sad. It put me in mind of that quote about those not knowing history being doomed to repeat it -- especially considering that this was a student of African-American descent. And Jim Crow was, in fact, recent enough to be in the clear memory of many -- and I don't mean 95-year-olds, either. My mother can remember where she was standing when she heard the news that Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot. My father can remember seeing the "Whites Only" signs on drinking fountains, buses, and restaurant seating IN WASHINGTON STATE (which shocked me).

I could wander on here into a damning critique of schools, or teachers, or parents, or "kids nowadays," but truthfully I think it's everyone's fault. Parents, for not really spending TIME with their children, teaching them. My parents took me to all kinds of museums and historical sites (including ones near to home -- it doesn't have to be a globetrotting adventure, though those are nice, too). They weren't too busy watching television to explain and discuss current events. It is, also, the fault of teachers and schools. I have students in the class -- in all my classes -- who should have been held back long ago. Someone should have said, "No, you can't go on until you really KNOW this stuff. And if it's happening in writing, I know it's happening in other subjects. I know this may be the fault of teachers, or it may be the fault of administration, but this post is long enough already, and I'll tackle that another time!

And, of course, students have to be responsible for themselves. Having a really bang-up and encyclopedic knowledge of Lost or The Simpsons isn't going to prepare you to have a very keen mind. Or to make you mindful of what's happening worldwide. Sigh. That thunk was me stepping down off my soapbox.

love, kristin

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


They've arrived! 25 chicks ... well, 24, since one died on the way ... actually, 23, since one died night before last after everyone else apparently slept right on top of him. I've never before realized the true meaning of the phrase "a head like a day old chick." It's not really meaningful until one actually OBSERVES chicks of that age -- oh, and it's not a compliment.

It takes the little buggers approximately 2 nanoseconds to walk right through their freshly cleaned water dispenser, leaving woodshavings floating in it. Then they get down to dragging all their feed out of the feeder and leaving it strewn about. Then they all decide to crowd to the same place at the same time -- up against the wall of their little pen. Someone is inevitably getting squished by everyone else, but can't figure out what to do about it. The idea of moving seems not to occur!

But they're really dreadfully cute, and for some reason, fascinating to watch ... I could sit there and watch them pip about for ages. I've attached some pictures for your viewing pleasure -- none of them very good. No one would hold still. The golden/red chicks are either Plymouth Reds or a meat cross we got (which name I cannot remember). The dark ones are either Wyandottes or Arcaunas. It's hard to tell without looking at them in real life. And then, I append a picture of James, one of our two cats. He is not out in the shop with the chicks, though he would dearly love to be. He is our resident mouser -- he's caught 3 so far, just in two years, and entirely as an indoor cat! Our (cyber)resident cat-lover, Lady Eloise, reminded me that I was remiss in a previous promise to post pictures of James & his brother Max. Max, however, is being recalcitrant, in a feline sort of manner.

love, kristin

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I hope your Easter is turning out charmingly -- we are having a very nice one. Here are some pictures from our celebration ... In this one, Steven looks frightfully discouraged. We DID do 7 dozen eggs ... could he be overwhelmed???

Oma (my mom) was helpful as usual. In fact, she boiled all the eggs and provided the coloring stuff. And the candy. And the plastic eggs to put the candy in. And the Easter Bunny to hide it ... ok, not that, but practically everything else!

Ahh, Steven looks recovered. And then there's Opa (my dad--he's supervising. He's good at that. He used to be a university administrator.); and Mara, frantically egg-hunting. And Emily, rather pleased with her haul.
I hope you got lots of chocolate! (And took some time to ponder why Easter really exists.) Love, kristin

Friday, April 3, 2009

VERY cute child alert

Not to mention her skills with lipstick! She's going to be such a glamour girl. This is Dorothy Lou, Heather's baby (as before, info for those of you on the Adventist grapevine. For those of you not attached there, she's my niece-not-really-but-sort-of. You know the kind). She turned one in September. Doesn't she have gorgeous eyes?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Student Bloomer of the Week (and one NON-student one!)

I'm sorry if you're getting sick of these ... I simply love them, and chortle over them much more often than is technically sane. Catherine over at Dispatches from the Deise wrote a hilarious post about grammar. She also mentioned a new book out by John Humphrys, Lost for Words, in the same vein as Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (by Lynne Truss), which is one of my favorite ever. There goes my book allowance (I don't really GET a book allowance, but doesn't it sound good?). Anyway, here are the newest:

* From one of my new writing students, responding to a questionnaire I always give out the first day of class, asking for information about previous writing experience: "I defiantly wrote lots of papers in high school." Actually, I'm not sure -- WAS that a typo, or was he just a mad sort of kid?

* And then, while in Seattle, Benita bought one of those pre-wrapped pseudo-logs for their fireplace (which they use about 25x more than usual when I'm there, because I'm always saying, "Oooh! Let's have a fire!"). The label proudly stated, "Illustrious flames!" It's good to know their flames are highly renowed (of course, I have to admit, I looked the word up and illustrious actually an obsolete synonym for luminous. I wonder if it was a case of trying to translate from a different language? Always hazardous!). Anyway, made me laugh.

Pictures are forthcoming from our ferry trip in Seattle. We did not lose Mara over the side, despite what those of you who know her personality and genius for throwing herself around might suspect! I had also forgotten how interesting it is to people-watch on the ferry! Some of the other passengers were so ... so ... wow.

love, kristin