Saturday, August 30, 2008


Having my ABC-Along 2008 project in mind all summer enabled me to focus on nature in a fresh way and made our family walks a letter scavenger hunt ("keep an eye out for something that looks like 'R'; no, I already have a 'C'..."). Given that one or all three of us participate in 4 to 5 dog walks daily, it's been handy to have something to think and talk about while we're out there. Here, then, is the letter form 'Q' and...
Queen Anne's Lace. I've been exploring the backs of flowers this summer, as you may have noticed, and am trying to decide if this should be a project on its own. I'm tempted, also, to plan an ABC Garden; aster to zinnia, even if they aren't all in bloom at once.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flashback Friday, and then some

St. Ignatius School, Chicago, circa 1969

I don't recognize these faces, although I certainly recognize the place -- our elementary school. I believe my brother took this picture so I'll have to ask if he knows more of the details.

As much as I've enjoyed taking a break, I'm eager to get back into it here. I plan to catch up on all my email (if you've been waiting to hear back from me I am sorry -- and I will write!), get caught up here, and return to all of your blogs that I've been missing.

School officially starts for us next Wednesday, but I've been back to work this week for meetings and preparation. One of the very best parts of working in a school is getting back into an annual schedule where September is a fresh start full of promise and possibility and sharp pencils. New crayons. Fresh shoes and recent haircuts. A beginning that will have an end, and at that end you will have achieved something, will have learned, will be ready for the next new step.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flashback Friday

My maternal grandfather, Alfred J. Beck, on the far right, with sister Bernice and brothers Teddy (front) and Otto. Alfred was born in 1891, so I'd guess this photo was taken in about 1900 or so. This proof was written on by the photographer, who'd made notes on the back about corrections that Theresa Beck, Alfred's mother, had wanted made, including particular corrections on Otto which is why there is a pencil line drawn to him.

Meanwhile, I'm falling way behind on everything except hanging out and having fun with Dean. I'll try to catch up next week so if I owe you an email or haven't dropped by to visit lately, please understand that's why.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ken!

49 candles on the cake today!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Flashback Friday

Chicago, circa 1954
My mom is on the left, my dad's Aunt Ruth on the right

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Monkeys recommend:

1. Searching for Bobby Fischer This is a terrific movie, and great for kids (about 10 and up) and adults to watch together. There is no bad language and nothing bad happens, but younger kids may have trouble staying interested in a movie about chess. Dean, who finished a triumphant week at chess camp, needed to be encouraged through the first quarter of the movie which is all set-up, but once the chess tournaments began he was hooked.

2. Chess Camp. The program is put on by a national organization that runs camps all over the U.S. during the summer. Absolutely every claim they make on their Web site is true, or at least it was for Dean. He loved it and is looking forward to doing it again next year.

3. Socks and underwear. Well, really Hanes online. You go there, you register first, then they give you a "coupon" -- seems pretty consistently to be for 20% off all underwear. Seeing as we're gearing up for back-to-school, socks and underwear have been very much on our minds. Well, on my mind. So I saved a bundle and Dean loves everything we ordered.

4. Strike Up the Band If you've got a High School Musical fan at your house, you may want to show him or her the original. While I'm living with the knowledge that Dean has serious gaps in his religious training, I can't imagine raising him without Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, or Busby Berkeley for that matter.

5. Time off. I was supposed to be on vacation last week, but ended up working so much that it wasn't any vacation at all. Next coupla three weeks are going to be different. On vacation. We're hanging out, doing some fun stuff, gettin' ready for school, and not answering the phone.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flashback Friday

My brother Tony is the tall boy at the center, and my brother Chris is on the far left. Chicago, circa 1968.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You can't get there from here

Early reports indicate that there could be signs of actual sewing, crafting, appearing here in the near future. Hope you don't give up on me before then. The closet Helen helped me to clean back in February had to be completely pulled apart again because of some work we had done on the house. One result is that the whole section of shelves are now shorter -- less deep -- so less stuff can go back on them. I'm telling myself I either need to DO something with some of that fabric or else get rid of it; I'll report back on how I make out.
We've compared the summer "fun things to do" list against the days remaining. Time to make choices and let go of the rest.
Another year, another sock tan line. Dean says he doesn't want to go to the beach because the beach we love in Maine is so much better than the beaches we can reach here in Massachusetts (Cape Cod has lovely beaches, but I'm not even going to attempt those in the summer since it would mean more time sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic than on the sand). I'm not sure that's a good reason not to go, but the reality is that there really isn't time to fit it in. Maybe I can talk the guys into a trip in October (September's already booked, can you believe it?) and we can take a nice long walk on a deserted beach and bring a thermos of hot chocolate. But in the meantime, we need to make the most of what we've got left.

Monday, August 4, 2008

We interrupt this blog to bring you the letter 'p'

ABC-Along time again! The letter 'P' -- do you see it as clearly as I do, the 'p' letter forms, in these gone-over daffodils? Sometimes I wonder if it is just me. And then...
...'p is for poppy.' We have just this one Oriental Poppy that returns in our garden. None of the others we've planted has taken, and this one hasn't spread. Just the one spectacular flower for a few days each year.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Dean prefers not to try and fail. He prefers to wait, and watch, and perhaps practice when no one's looking, and then go ahead once he's pretty confident that he can do the thing. He doesn't particularly like being given advice in the moment, either. One result of this approach is that he's sometimes later to do things than his friends. He mastered riding his bicycle, for example, last summer, when he was 9.

I would like to say that I don't know where his perfectionist streak comes from, nor the need to have others see him only DO the thing and not see the trying-to-do-the-thing part. But I'm pretty sure it is territory I know well.

So anyway, here we are -- still basking in the success of Dean's first sleep over at a friend's house. He got the invitation, a mini-golf, pizza and ice cream, popcorn and movie sleep over birthday party, from one of his closest friends. We all knew this day would come. A slumber party. "I'm going to do this!" he announced. He had never, not even once, slept anywhere without being with either me or Ken, and mostly always with both of us. Not that he doesn't sleep in his own bed, but he's never gone to bed without having been put there by us nor in a place without us.
Sleep has always been a sensitive thing for Dean -- he doesn't do it easily and never has. He's also a family man -- he likes to be with us, preferably at home.

I knew, though, that he could do this thing. That he could go to a slumber party, stretch himself and go out into the world more than he has. I knew it because he said he could do it. I knew he wouldn't be willing to try and fail. Ken wasn't so sure, and put the odds at 50-50.

Today he's toast. This is the day after the day after (party was Friday night) , and he spent yesterday (Saturday) at yet another party almost all day. He had the good sense to call us about 90 minutes before he was due to be picked up from the bbq party to ask to come home; the six hours of slumber party sleep were nothing compared to his usual 9 or 10 hours of sleep and he was exhausted. It's a stay-at-home, day of rest today. A day to rest on his laurels.

Congratulations, Dean. Great job! I know the feeling, the new "sky's the limit!" feeling he has now -- he can do sleep overs! He can invite friends to sleep over! All kinds of new possibilities are ahead. The world just got bigger.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Flashback Friday

"Summer 1935"

My mom is on the left, her cousin Virginia on the right. My grandmother labeled the back with the date, which is rare enough (that any family photos have any labels) and I'm fortunate to know who these sweeties are. People seem to have a hard time imagining that there will ever come a time that the family members who own the photos won't just automatically know who the subjects are, which is one reason so many old photos wind up in antique stores.

Anyway, at least today I've discovered why my mom always insisted on the pixie haircut for me....