Category Archives: Parenting

Thursday Doors: Oregon Drive

MountShasta
Mount Shasta, August 2017

A couple of years ago, I had several posts associated with driving my daughter to college at Willamette University. That drive took several days because we stopped to admire Mt. Shasta or to sample the sights in interesting little towns along the way. She was a new driver then, having passed her test only a couple weeks before we left, and we split the driving about 50/50.

SadieTreat

We made the same drive again this year, for a different reason. She moved off campus for her second two years, and she wanted to take the cat, Sadie, to live with her.

I’m also giving my daughter my old car, a 2012 baby blue Mazda 5. She learned to drive in that car, and feels comfortable in it. The magnet I bought for the rear hatch door fell off sometime ago, but the car fits in here. It will be useful to have a minivan to carry stuff around.

She drove the whole way from California this time. I got to doze off in the passenger seat.

HatchDoor
Car hatch door with bearcat magnet

Sadie the cat did better than we expected. We were concerned that she might meow her head off for 10 hours, making the trip unpleasant for all 3 of us. But the vet gave her a pill, and, mildly sedated, she spent most of the time sleeping in her carrier. Occasionally she meowed, but just enough to let us know she was still there.

At the pet-friendly Motel 6 we opened the door to her cat carrier to let her out, but she didn’t venture far.  She wasn’t crazy about the trip in general, and is glad to have gotten here!

CrateDoor
Cat carrier door stayed closed most of the time

And the final door for this post is the door to their new home:

FrontDoor

An interesting green, newly painted. It’s a charming little house. Now it just needs some furniture!

For Norm’s “Thursday Doors.” I’m getting back to it this week!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. I find it a fun way to focus and curate my many, many travel photos!

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Music and Memory in Ireland

I’m posting this blog in honor of the Mountain View High School Chamber Orchestra, which has been touring Ireland for the past week with violinist Chloe Trevor.  My 15-yo son plays the cello in this group. My school spring break and his don’t coincide, so I couldn’t chaperone. I’m a little disappointed, but this may be for the best. My son is at the age now where he is needing his own space, personally and musically.

And, I have been to Ireland too. Twice. The first time the kids were pretty little and we took our au pair along. We visited the Cliffs of Moher on a very windy day, and the visit, while gorgeous, wasn’t entirely stress-free.

I was just starting to play the violin again after a long break, and I bought a nice book of Irish fiddle music to learn, complete with CD. I’ve shared this video before. It was recorded in 2010 at the Belmont Farmers’ Market, by my son who was 7 at the time. I think the intonation is decent, but stylistically I am not really playing fiddle style, but more classical, which is how I was trained.

Fiddling was a nice way to play with my kids when they were younger, and I continue to love this type of music. This video was taken before my son had started playing the cello, and he wasn’t yet able to play with us. He looks pretty bored back there!

The doors I want to show are on some bars in Dublin, the Temple Bar Pub in particular. Bright red, and decorated with nice fiddle icons, this area is a great place to find live music. I visited there on my second trip to Ireland, in the summer of 2018.

TempleBarDoorTempleDoorCorner

The Temple Bar area is located on the south bank of the River Liffey in Dublin. It is a major cultural center and tourist attraction. Temple Bar Pub isn’t the only establishment.

Bar1

You also find buskers playing as you walk the streets. They aren’t all playing traditional Irish music; these were playing the theme from “Game of Thrones.”

Buskers

Here is the Mountain View High School Chamber Orchestra playing “Irish Junkyard Jam” by Brian Balmages at one of their three concerts. (And there is my son, now all grown up, leading the cello section!)

Their tour included a visit to Bunratty Castle, shown here when the kids were little, and most recently, a picture of the castle taken by my now-15-year-old son.

I asked my son, when I picked him up at the airport, if he remembered the earlier trip. Not at all, he said wryly. Whereas to me these visits are almost all mixed up together, with few boundaries. In spite of years of violin and viola practice and child raising in between, I was pretty much the same person who visited Ireland then and now; and he is not.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments at Norm’s blog

Book Review: Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich

Future Home of the Living GodFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to give this book 5 stars, and for audacity and imagination, I do. But I also found much of the text slow, repetitive, and curiously unemotional, and it lost a star for those aspects.

The animating idea of this novel is that in a time not too far from our own present day, evolution has begun to go backwards. Creatures are devolving from more complex to less complex forms, the very laws of the universe may be reversing themselves, the expanding universe has reached its apex and is now contracting back into singularity. What would this look like in the slow motion way that biological creatures experience time?

Such a big idea is almost impossible to bring down to our mundane level, but Erdrich almost pulls it off through the eyes and ears of Cedar Songmaker, nee Mary (Potts), a single mother newly converted to Catholicism, pregnant with a baby due on December 25th. Cedar addresses her story to her unborn child, whom she loves abstractly and believes to be normal, unlike the majority of babies born to women in the devolving universe.

Unfortunately for the reader, Cedar is the least interesting character in the novel. For the first third of the book I found her annoyingly passive and uncurious about what was happening to her world. Her trip to find her birth parents that comprises this part is interesting mostly because we get to meet Sweetie, her birth mother; Eddy, Sweetie’s husband; and Little Mary, their daughter. They are Ojibwe who live in northern Minnesota on a reservation, run a Superpumper gas station, and are setting up a shrine to a local Saint. The reader can theoretically understand and empathize with Cedar’s desire to find out more about her own origins as the world collapses around her, but her first reaction is one of muted disappointment about small things. She mopes around in her house, says nice things about her adoptive parents, avoids her baby’s father’s phone calls, reads pregnancy literature, and works on a Catholic newsletter that she is writing. This section of the novel felt like a clumsy and unnecessary expository lump, especially since I have been pregnant myself, and when I was, I read carefully the pamphlets about fetal development from my OB/Gyn’s office, which some of these chapters sounded like.

Things really get going, though, when Cedar is captured by the pregnancy police and put in a “hospital,” ostensibly for her and her baby’s protection in the New World Order, in which most pregnant women and their babies don’t survive. Again, she is surrounded by characters more interesting than she is: her fellow pregnant prisoners Agnes and Tia, the nurses who either torture them or bravely risk everything to help them escape, and her adoptive mother Sera who is highly placed in a resistance movement and actually manages to spearhead a successful escape for both Cedar and Tia.

This part makes the whole book worth reading. Events pull the reader along in suspense, and then the action almost stops for a painfully true conversation between Cedar and Sera, encapsulating mother/daughter tensions and bonds. Then Erdrich shows how effortlessly beautiful her prose can be, with a harrowing and horrifying account of Tia’s labor and stillbirth closely followed by Cedar’s wild joy and confidence in her own body’s wondrous abilities to bring forth life.

As the book barreled towards its conclusion and then petered out, I wondered if the author just couldn’t figure out how to end it properly. A dramatic climax comes about when Cedar discovers something surprising and dismaying about her own parentage, but this revelation neither propels the main plot nor illuminates the themes of devolution and collapse. And then when Cedar was captured again just before giving birth, I felt mostly tired and numb. Unlike most pregnant women in this book, she and her baby survive the birth process. Then Cedar’s voice, never particularly strong, fades into near nothingness and the book ends without our finding out what happens to her baby.

Does he become the “Living God” of the title, the messiah that his father hoped for? Has the very idea of a messiah become turned on its head, another exercise in futility? What does that mean for the future of faith?

This book promises a great deal and occasionally delivers. But because of the slow start and this truncated ending it was ultimately not as satisfying as it could have been.

View all my reviews

Mundane Monday: Birthday Cake

Today is my birthday, so it’s not as mundane as the other 51 Mondays this year. We all know the downsides of social media, but I’m liking the Facebook anniversary function and the “rediscover this day” function in Google photos. One thing it led me to re-discover was cakes of birthdays past.  Continue reading Mundane Monday: Birthday Cake

Mundane Tuesday: Ducks

I am finally home from dropping my daughter off at Willamette University for her freshman year. It was a fun and eventful trip, but at the end came a long and kind of lonely drive, without a companion or anyone to share in the driving, the way my daughter did on the way up. When I got back late Sunday night I was tired and I spent most of Monday recovering, unpacking, doing laundry, and watching Game of Thrones episodes that I had missed while I was away.

Continue reading Mundane Tuesday: Ducks

Mundane Monday: Kisses, Love Dreams, and Alien Droppings

We don’t have grand plans for the holidays this year. I sprained my ankle and can’t go skiing. So we are spending this Mundane Monday making cookies. I’ve already made one batch and they disappeared fast. So my teenage kids made some again this afternoon, without my help.

Continue reading Mundane Monday: Kisses, Love Dreams, and Alien Droppings

The Bird-Bid

I’ve been thinking a lot about communication within families lately. My kids are still at camp, so I don’t talk to them every day except to send them cat pictures and what I hope are encouraging words via Google Hangouts. This process has provided me with an opportunity to examine how well (or not well) I do on my end of it. Frankly, and a bit uncomfortably, I admit I feel like I’m struggling, and more so as they have grown up and entered their teen years.

Continue reading The Bird-Bid