Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fawnix Werks!

I'm not sure if the teachers at this school do a lot of texting or if they are proponents of simplified spelling . . .

. . . but I'm hoping that a teacher will not give credit to a student who spells "night" the way it is spelled in front of the school. On the other hand it seems hypocritical for a teacher at this school NOT to do so.

I guess I don't have to worry about it since my kids don't attend this school, but the sign (or should I write "sine") certainly caught my attention as I was driving past!

Monday, August 27, 2007


It's my birthday, so feel free to treat yourself a guilt-free piece of cake today.

We partied as a family yesterday - Sunday being more convenient - but today I'm going to treat myself to a movie (Becoming Jane) and go out to lunch with a dear friend. Technically the semester begins today, but I don't teach on Monday, so I consider that my gift from the college.

Here are some things I consider highlights from my party yesterday:

GEEKIEST (read "coolest") GIFT:
Sorry to the rest of the geeks in the world. You will just have to be TOTALLY jealous! (For those of you who are non-geeks, the word is "Ni," which rhymes with knee. It is not "Hi.")


A harmonica "purchased" for me by my youngest son Caleb. He used tickets he won playing games at Papa John's Pizza to get this gift for me. He used his prize tickets for his mom. Totally sweet!!


A cool wooden mathy game from Mike and Amy in North Carolina. THANKS GUYS!


Magazine subscriptions to "Mental Floss" and "GAMES" - to find out I was getting these I opened a small gift which turned out to be a container of dental floss with the titles of these magazines written on the back. I can't wait to get my first issues!


I was the winner in the Rook game. It is MY birthday, so it's only fair, after all, that I win the game!


One of my sons - who shall be nameless (but who is one who has taken physics) was trying to light my candles - just two of them representing the digits of my age. He came close to burning his fingers before he had them both lit. He was holding the candle flame-down, and thus the flame was burning up the matchstick toward his fingers. He actually had to use 2 matches. When he had successfully lit both candles he was in such a hurry to blow out the match that it was still right next to the candles, and he blew them out too! All his work was in vain! (Well, it was funnier as it was happening than it is here in writing.) Perhaps, like his mother, he should stick with the theoretical rather than the applied sciences.


Our youngest son looked across the table at his Dad and said, "That word is spelled wrong on your shirt." My husband was at a Christian Men's conference earlier this weekend and today was wearing a T-shirt he received there for being a monthly contributor or "partner" to this group (which also shall be nameless). The word "partner" was spelled "parnter." This organization has certainly given out thousands of these shirts at conferences all across the nation. I wonder if they are aware of this but are just hoping people won't notice since it would be too expensive to change. Too bad their proof-reader didn't catch what a 10 year old did.


Special thanks to David for the yummy barbecued chicken meal and the homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting! :-)


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Out of Time


My old clock used to tell the time
and subdivide diurnity;
but now it's lost both hands and chime
and only tells eternity.

Piet Hein (1905-1996)

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Form of Life

Between the form of Life and Life
The difference is as big
As Liquor at the Lip between
And Liquor in the Jug
The latter — excellent to keep —
But for ecstatic need
The corkless is superior —
I know for I have tried
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Qool Day

My oldest son Anthony and I have a couple of weeks home alone together, since everyone else in the household is back to school. This is a fun opportunity for us to have some cool one-on-one mother/son bonding time - or should I say qool?

Today we decided to play all the games we owned that start with the letter Q. We found we have 6 games that start with the letter Q: Quads, Quarto, Quoridor, Quixo, Quiddler, and Qwitch. (Below I've added pictures and commentary. You might want to have a QOOL DAY of your own!)

The day for me was one of pride and humility mixed. Anthony won 5 of the 6 games we played. As his mother I'm proud he's so smart (the first 4 games in particular being strategic thinking games). As a human being, I'm humbled at all those losses!


The first 4 games below are put out by Gigamic. We LOVE all of them. We have a particular passion for abstract strategy games, so we're rather prejudiced in that direction. The other two games are good for their categories as well.

This game has basically three elements: the goal is to move your pawn acrosss the board before your opponent moves his across, on your turn you may place a wall or move your pawn one space, and you may not entirely block off your opponent from reaching the other side. It is so simple a young child can play it, yet the strategy can get so deep that serious game-playing adults can be captivated by it. This is definitely a classic!

This is an extremely elegant variant of tic-tac-toe with three twists: you need to get four in a row, what you need to get in a row is not "your" x or o but rather 4 pieces sharing an attribute (short, light, flat-topped, round, tall, etc.), AND your opponent chooses the piece you play. Again, a game a young child could play but also allows for tremendous strategizing - elegant and satisfying. This too is absolutely a classic game.

This is another variation on tic-tac-toe. Each cube has 4 blank sides, one x and one o. On your turn you may select a piece from the side with your symbol on it (x or o) or a blank cube which you will flip to show your symbol, remove it, and slide it back into that row from the top or bottom or from the far side. In this way everything shifts. It also allows for lots of strategizing and a good balance between defense and offense. The sliding introduces an element of surprise.

Quads is a game of territory. You play darks or lights, and you have to play on pieces already laid, but you have to match any newly laid piece to each side of other pieces it touches - dark to dark, light to light, neutral to neutral. The goal is to move the game to a place where your opponent is unable to play a piece.

This is a nice casual word-card game. It works well with a group larger than two - slower paced than the other games and less strategic, but fun. It seems like a nice game to play with a group that you want to talk with at the same time. The cards are beautiful.

Qwitch is a game of quick reflexes. It also is better with more than two (and on the box the lowest number of players recommended is 3, but there were only 2 of us, and we were on a mission). We figured out why they recommended 3 or more - with 2 it is too evenly matched and you have to stop too often to flip another card and replinish your hand. I look forward to trying it again with our whole family - seems like a fun game for kids and parents to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Being Breath

Being being nothing
But breath

And the fog it makes
On the window pane,

Which is a page
In the Book

On which
You write your name.
Gregory Orr
(Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Banana Splits

Do you ever find the theme song from a favorite TV show in childhood running through your mind, but you can't remember the words, and it drives you crazy?

I find myself every so often wanting to sing the theme from The Banana Splits Show - I don't know why, but I do. The problem is that all I can remember is:

"Over hill and highway the banana buggies go . . ."

Then I just sing, "na na na nananana na na na nananana" over and over.

I had a brainstorm this morning. YouTube has EVERYTHING, so I looked it up, and sure enough, here it is!

Do any of you remember this quirky show?

Whether you do or not, I hope this fun little ditty will bring a smile to your face today!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

La Chaim

I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.

Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead and lives again.

from Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pipe Dream



Monday, August 06, 2007

Poem for August 7


Did I believe I had a clear mind?
It was like the water of a river
flowing shallow over the ice. And now
that the rising water has broken
the ice, I see that what I thought
was the light is part of the dark

(Wendell Berry b. 1934)

The Sweetest Guys! (I Think)

We spent the day at the lake today – sailing and kayaking – GREAT day!

We hadn’t packed a lunch, and it was nearly dinner time when we left, so David suggested stopping to eat on the way home. I said, “Oh no.”

I’m not that vain, but, since I hadn't planned on being anywhere but the lake, I hadn’t brought a shirt or a brush or a comb - anything to make myself look at all decent with.

I was just in scrubby shorts pulled over a not so flattering swimsuit - and unless I'm in or very near water I don't feel comfortable sporting lycra. My hair, the chunks that weren’t plastered flat against my head from being in lake water, was stringy, tangled and flying in all directions. Suffice it to say, I just felt grungy all over. (No fair being the only female at the lake with a family of males with very short hair and swimsuits that look like shorts!)

Although I'm not vain, I also don’t relish looking totally hideous in public.

When my son Caleb heard me say, “Oh no,” he said, “What?” Middle son Jacob spoke up and interpreted, “Mom thinks she looks ugly.”

Caleb chimed in, “Mom’s not ugly. She’s beautiful.” My husband David, not missing a beat followed with, “She’s ALWAYS beautiful.”

I am so lucky!! I got the sweetest guys in the world!!

Well, either that or they just wanted to make sure they could talk me into going INTO the restaurant so they wouldn’t have to eat in the car. Hmm . . . ??

Umm . . . I’ll choose to stick with the former interpretation, even if it is self-delusion!

Friday, August 03, 2007

And Math is Hard?

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

John von Neumann (1903-1957)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In Memoriam

Thinking of you with love Katie!