Thursday, June 16, 2011

Various and Assorted

Mimi snapped this amazing scene during our road trip last week.

We arrived home to find our peonies in full bloom. I just love the color variations: from bright fuschia to creamy pink. We only have them for about two weeks every June, but when they're blooming they are spectacular!

Our California poppies started as volunteers from a neighbor's yard. We liked them so much we sprinkled some seed in our flower bed. They come back every year.

We saw a cute little gosling with his mom and dad at a pond near our house. He's hard to see: look for the little grayish-yellow blob right between the parents.

Gomez came home from the kennel with a terrible case of bordatella. He sounds awful--he basically has the doggie version of croup.
(And yes, he sleeps with his tongue out! Lulu sleeps with his eyes open, which is less cute, more creepy.)

It is so hard to take pictures of bees! They refuse to pose. I was thrilled with this photo because you can see the pollen baskets on the legs!

Dude used a couple of pulleys and some clothesline to make a dumbwaiter for the kids' fort.

He needed a little help with the knots, but the design was totally his own!

Cool, huh?

Hope you're enjoying the many pleasures of summer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reading, reading, reading!

Summer is such a nice opportunity to slow down and pick up a book or two...or three...

My "inspiration shelf."

A year ago, I never would have dreamed I'd ask for a Kindle for Mother's Day. The idea of using any type of e-reader did not appeal to me at all. I love books. REAL books. Reading on an electronic device seemed so...well, I can't explain it. I just know that I love holding a crisp, weighty new book; I love coming home from the library with an armload of reading material; I love flipping through curriculum books in teacher supply stores; my idea of a great date involves browsing in a bookstore that also has good coffee! No way would I ever want an e-reader.

You know where this is going. I'm really enjoying my new Kindle, and while it's never going to replace physical books in my heart, I like the free samples, the instant downloads, the occasional lower prices (though not always!) and above all, the ability to carry a library's worth of books in my purse.

The disadvantages? Well, my mom and aunts and I frequently exchange paperbacks. If I buy a book on my Kindle, I can't lend it to anyone. That's not a big problem: most of the books on my Kindle are the type of nonfiction that no one in my family would ever want to read. My nerdy interests are not the same as their nerdy interests!

We are a family of readers. (Now, get down from there, Lulu!)

The only major disadvantage is the note-taking feature. I treat my (real) books very badly. I underline, highlight, and fold the pages. I have found that I retain information much better if I underline a passage and then write a comment or my own summary in the margin. (After I studied for my Master's comps, a thousand years ago, I passed along a lot of my books to a friend who was taking her comps the next year. She told me later that my margin notes were helpful to her, but she had to laugh when she found the one that said: "Please, God, let me pass my comps so I never have to look at this book again!")

If the book is a curriculum resource of some kind, I might tear out an entire chapter and put it in a folder with other resources on the same topic. The only books that survive my abuse are fiction, because I'm not trying to save any information for later. The point is, I can't do these things on a Kindle, at least not in my usual way. Of course, the same can be said for library books!

The Kindle has a feature that allows you to underline passages and revisit your underlined passages. But taking notes in the margin is somewhat problematic: it takes me twice as long to type my summary using the little keyboard as it would if I were just jotting something with a pencil. So I'm still likely to buy a book that I want to really study.

I love books that are formatted this way: lots of room for my margin notes!
(This is Math for Humans by Mark Wahl.)

Still, I can't deny how cool it is to get an instant free sample of a book. Looking at a sample has saved me from buying something that I probably wouldn't have enjoyed, and it has also drawn me into a book so that I eventually purchased it. Probably the feature I enjoy the most is the ability to adjust the print size. Have you noticed how tiny the fonts are these days? I'm pretty sure they used bigger print when I was in my thirties. :)

I like to collect vintage children's books and school readers. Don't you love this illustration?

At the moment, my Kindle contains 7 books on science, 4 on education, 3 on history, 2 on religion, 2 fiction selections, a memoir, and a handful of samples. So, I carried 19 books with me on our recent road trip, and I could lift them with one hand!

We recently banned electronics (TV, computer, and Wii) after dinner, and it's amazing how much more we are all reading. At the moment, I'm making my way through 2 books: Eaarth by Bill McKibben (on my Kindle) and Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli (not on my Kindle.) The kids and I read Lunch Money by Andrew Clements on our road trip, and now we're reading The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss) together. Look for Dude and you will likely find him in a pile of old Mad Magazines and comic books. Super is reading the Wimpy Kid series and also writing her own adventure story.

What are you reading this summer? Do you use an e-reader at all, or do you prefer paper-and-ink books? And do you treat your books more kindly than I do?

These were 15 cents back in the 50's. Super describes them as "pretty little-kiddish."
But aren't they cute!

We lost someone dear to us

We've been away for the past couple of weeks.

It was an unexpected trip, but we needed to spend time with our Mammaw.
I took these pictures in her garden.

She taught us so much about life and love.

The illness that took her from us can never erase her kind, generous spirit.