'twas brillig and the slilthy toves...

One of the more enjoyable aspects of teaching my younger brothers and sisters their rather boring elements of grammar or even sometimes the aspects of finer and beautiful writing and usage of words, is the aspect of reading good classics aloud to them. Last year I tried on many occasions to start a book with them, but somehow, we never finished it. So, this year I knew I had to stick with it and be consistent, or we'd get through one book a year. As with many things in life, I've found that consistency was definitely the key here. Well, as is an understandable and intriguing book; which somehow seems to help, I don't really know why.

A couple of months ago I thought I would search the library for an old book that I remember loving when I was younger called, The Dark Frigate, by Charles Boardman Hawes, a 1924 Newberry Award winner. However, I think I must have been at least thirteen when I read it, but forgetting that dusty fact, I found the book and that evening began to read it aloud to the kids, repeatedly telling them how much I loved it and how they were going to too, "It's about pirates!" I kept saying, my eyes exaggeratively wide. So, I opened it. The book began with a rambling and complex narrative as to the location of the story: the why, when and how and why, and where and why, and what next of why and how and who and because of whom, of such a topic and story plot that the book hadn't even been gracious enough to enlighten us about yet, but seemed fit to describe all the details of. When this happens, generally, we skim to get the meaning, we get the gist of the story and then resume a page or two later; so this I did as well. I skimmed, tried to explain what was happening in the story and then began to read at the top of the next page, "He that will a guid edge win, maun forge thick an' grind thin..."I glanced up over the edge of the book. There were five little children sprawled out on the beds and floor. One was biting his nails absentmindedly, and another one was laying on his stomach, flipping through a Lego catalog, while the littlest was wrapped up in blankets and rolling off his bed, landing with a thump on the floor. My siblings are pretty smart kids, but I had to concede that the book was still a little too much for a handful of six year olds. Maybe we'll try reading it again in a few months.

So far we've read Redwall by Brian Jacques, Stuart Little by E.B. White, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Roverandom by J.R.R Tolkien and we are nearly finished with, The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, which is also a Newberry Honor award winner. Having rather a wide range of ages to cope with and the different preferences of the boys and girls has been somewhat challenging in trying to find a book that interests all of them. I would have read The Chronicles of Narnia first, but the 4 year old insists that its a little too mature for his standards. I thought of Little Women, but the boys outnumber the girls and have seen the movie and said they couldn't possibly sit through hours of reading about making dresses and of eating limes and of conversations of Professor Bhaer. I think next we will read The Secret Garden, or perhaps go through the Little House series, or maybe we'll try a different pirate story and read another old favorite of mine, Treasure Island.


I wish I could say that I usually have [nearly] perfect experiences. It would be nice to have at least a few things actually go according to plan, giving me a sense of completion and fulfillment when they are done. Not to broadcast them, but just to file away, to look back upon, to feel secure knowing that I can make it in this world. Truth is, nothing seems to ever, ever get near [nearly] perfect. Everything always tends to be a bit on the... gloppy side. But, there might perhaps be a few others who would say that too. It seems that some people tend to consider themselves unique, as if they are the only ones with [extraordinary] good taste and amazing experiences. And, ironically enough, that's who I think I am as well. If that's who you are too, then, we should form a club or something.

I have an [extraordinary] habit. I dictate my life in my head, very, very often, using that generic movie-voice. It's not that I'm so marvelous and interesting and I have to keep things straight and talk to myself. No, I've found that it must be because I am trying to hype up my everyday simple, common, nondescript experiences. That day Holly woke up, looked at her cell phone to discern the time, then fell out of bed and made a face at her mirror on her way out the door.

The other day I was getting some shopping done, winding my way through the store and trying to remember everything I had to buy. I was having a lovely time in the produce section, chatting with the cucumbers and swapping jokes with the cabbages. I remembered we needed oranges, so I grabbed a bag and began to fill it. I had just picked up the third orange when suddenly the whole entire enormous pyramid began to slide off, like a giant flow of orange lava, plummeting to the floor below. I watched, in slow motion, as orange after orange fell and rolled across the floor-- past the lettuce, past the tomatoes, and past the Odwalla refrigerator. If someone had been filming, I'm sure it would have made a great addition to some music video. The entire mound was depleted in seconds, as dozens and dozens of oranges shot every which way, like crazy bullets; and there I stood in the midst of it all, oranges rolling everywhere, floundering around my feet. People smiled and laughed humorously, and stared politely, and to me [extraordinarily] rudely. I just smiled back, as if, I meant to do that. And I heard the narrator's voice droll through my head, And this is the last day Holly shopped at that store. Perhaps an orange had rolled all the way to the front and sneezed or something, for a split-second later I heard someone announce loudly, "Extra help needed in produce. In the produce section, extra clean up help, please."

I try to just shrug my shoulders when things like that happen. Maybe God has a surprise and maybe its tomorrow that's going to be great. Or maybe... I'm missing the whole big picture. Maybe I wasn't made for tomorrow. Not yet, anyway. Perhaps I was made just for today. I was made for this very minute, typing this out while eating my fruit salad. I was created for every little detail that has burst into my life, whether the detail is nearly perfect and tipsy with munificence or soaked in a mud puddle and run over with the lawn mower. I was made for such a time as this. For every moment. Every heartache I dealt with last week. Every laugh I laughed today. You too. You were made for the very thing you wish you could be avoiding today. And the very thing you loved yesterday. I don't know about tomorrow, or the next week or the next week after that, but I know that everything has it's place and meaning in our lives. Every orange too. For I doubt if I hadn't re-arranged the produce section, I would be writing this at all.


drop a thought
on your way through the tall city
watch it brightly melt,
like dew, on the thirsty asphalt.

attach a thought
to that green door
or stick a thought on
the complaining sound
of its hinges.

paste a thought
on the billboard
over there to your left
or on that illegible
handwritten sign
sitting in that window.

see that man
striding down the sidewalk?
tie two thoughts on
his apple red shoes.

watch them as they wave goodbye.



"The angels glorify; men scrutinize: angels raise their
voices in praise; men in disputation: they conceal their faces
with their wings; but man with a presumptuous gaze
would look into Thine unspeakable Glory."

[John Chrysostom]