April 21, 2010

Playing the Game

I've mentioned the issues with Maya, my third grader, and the way she learns. Well, I had some new insight into the way she thinks last weekend as she was playing Scrabble with her Dad and a friend.

Maya had never played Scrabble before, so she needed the basic parameters of the game explained to her. Once she got them, she started trying to expand on them, naturally.

"So, can we go diagonally?"


"Can we go backwards?"


"Can we put letters on top of each other?"


"Can we put a word next to a word that's already there?"

No. Not unless all the crosswords make real words.

"Bummer! This game is lame!"

Right about now, I'm thinking that she could author a new and improved Scrabble. Would there be enough brains out there like hers that would appreciate it?

Some people are worried about the future of humanity. I, on the other hand, am optimistic. With the pace at which the times they are a changin', and with technology outstripping itself every few weeks, and with young people thinking "outside the box" like Maya does, I'm sure there's a recipe for success at the nexus of these things.

Which reminds me of my favorite reading about our offspring:

On Children
by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Here's to the future and to our children!

April 12, 2010


For those of my blog fans which may not know the particulars of my family life, it is a bit schizophrenic. We live in Omaha, Nebraska, where Hubby has a great job which subsidizes our farm and supports more people than he would like to know about. (We invoke the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on that one.) But our farm is located in Southwestern Iowa, exactly 97 miles from our Omaha door. So, our farming is done largely on the weekends and in the summer. The upshot of this rubric is that we tend to pack a lot of farm work into just two days each week.

Sometimes we work so hard for the entire weekend, then sit for an hour to behold our handiwork, then Hubby comments that the place looks really nice for the noble landowners for whom we toil and who will show up during the week to enjoy the place.

But this past weekend was a bit more relaxed than usual.

Here's what was planned (it's spring and there's a lot that needs to be done):

- till the garden
- fix the holes in the netting around the garden
- plant the spring seeds (about 20 items!)
- fix the lawnmower
- fix the tractor
- fix the other tractor
- count the aronia berries
- mulch the aronia berries
- mow the 25-acre field
- plant the new roses
- water new grass seed areas
- gather up hoses from fields

Here's what we did on Saturday:

- planted new white pine and weeping cherry trees (which Liz got a great deal on at the local hardware store)

- watched Maya with her newly caught fish (She's a veritable fish-whisperer!)

- were visited by our neighbor, Marlin, who, when taking his leave of a friend of Maya's said, "Well, Dear, I'm glad you got to see me!"
- watched the kids go boating and swimming in the pond

- went into town to get a couple of things and look at the baby ducks at the farm store
- cooked hamburgers over a campfire
- listened to "A Prairie Home Companion" on the radio
- put up solar panels on Hubby's new barn -- woot woot! (Eventually) free energy!

- tinkered in the barn for a few hours
- watched the solar lights come on in the evening while sipping some wine

So, I guess life is what happens in spite of one's planning.

But, I'll have you know, somehow, everything on that planning list got done on Sunday.

Needless to say, Hubby and I were both absolutely fried on Sunday night, but it was worth it!

April 9, 2010

Too Busy to Blog

Spring has sprung once again in the Heartland!

And it's been a more normal spring than the last two were (with all that rain!).

So, the upshot is that we've been out there planning and planting and enjoying...

the flowers,
the weather,
each other.

In lieu of a pertinent, pithy, poignant blog entry, how about a pretty cool pic?

Here are a couple of the crocuses, already gone, against the backdrop of the still leafless oak trees.

Now, I'm off to load the truck for the next trip to the farm!

April 1, 2010

A Good Egg

My youngest daughter requested rice pudding yesterday. I was happy to oblige. It made me reminisce about the old family recipe that I got from great-grandma Carmen.

This photo is of her when she had already forgotten me and everyone else who loved her. But her rice pudding recipe lives on and has been passed down through me to her great-great-granddaughter, Julie, who makes such a good rice pudding that Carmen would be proud.

Some people think that rice pudding needs an egg, but they would be mistaken. It's very simple:

6 cups of whole milk
1 cup of rice
1/2 cup of sugar
a couple of cinnamon sticks
a teaspoon of vanilla
a few whole cloves

Simmer all the ingredients together in a pan on the stove until the rice is cooked, about 30 minutes. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with ground cinnamon and let cool. Refrigerate and enjoy, if you get the chance. (Some little ones don't mind it warm.)

Another person who came to mind was my sister, Dec. She was with me that day in Pamplona, Spain, many years ago, when Carmen was still with us (mentally and physically) and taught us how to make rice pudding and wring out a wet towel properly. She was the second wife of my great grandfather and was a bit younger than he, so we kids ended up with an extra grandma. She was warm, loving, and funny. When we were young, she served us individual bottles of 7-Up and cookies in the cool, shaded kitchen of her Fresno, California home.

In our twenties, Dec and I had the good fortune to run around Europe studying sugar and languages, respectively. Dec used to say that she would watch the luggage while I did all the talking. We visited friends, family, sites. We got to know each other and establish that we could get along traveling with each other (no mean feat).

Here she is some years ago, but she looks the same today. Not fair. She's only a year younger than yours truly, but she has very little grey hair (I've been coloring mine for 25 years). She is my daughters' favorite person. "Aunt Dece! Aunt Dece!", they cry. She had a little blip of some weight gain, but most of her life, she's been quite thin. I, on the other hand, have been fighting with my weight all my life.

While it seems she has all the advantages, she doesn't. She's actually a little bit crazy.

Last weekend, she agreed to come out to the farm with me to help plant potatoes. In the night, she started yelling in her sleep. It turns out that this is such a regular occurrence that Dec's nieces are familiar with it and not perturbed when it happens. As she was yelling, "Get off my f#^%ing property!!!", my eight-year-old and I were both awakened. When I finally got up to go and see to her nightmare, I was surprised to find my youngest already comforting her. She looked up at me and, with the wisdom of one far beyond her years, she assured me that she was on the job and I could go back to sleep.

The vignette reminded me of yet another old joke.

Man: "Doctor, my brother thinks he's a chicken."

Doctor: "Why don't you commit him?"

Man: "I would, but I need the eggs."

So, we're all a bit crazy.

Have a Happy Easter!