Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Children's Books

Hide and Seek Fog

It's obvious that the Caldecott Honor choosers are adults and not children, because I love this but the kid gets a little bored.
The Snowy Day

What a feast for the eyes.

Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences

We love these poems, which Ilana sent. I thought it would be a long time before the kid enjoyed these, since they're pretty abstract. But he thinks they're clever. (Not that he gets them, but he likes to laugh!)

Legends of the Saints

I thought that it would take a lot longer for the kid to be interested in these, too, cause there aren't loads of pictures, but he likes them a lot.


I picked this up from the library sale (along with armfuls of other books). It's old and a little random, but I love this octopus.

Saint George and the Dragon

Thanks to this wonderful book we could convince the kid that he was a brave knight when he had to get lab work done. Duty, dragons, miraculous healing. What more could you want? (Thanks Ilana!)

Song of the Swallows

I love this. The pictures are wonderful--it's about California missions. And there's music included. (Not that I can make heads or tales of that.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Children's Books

I don't do a lot of pleasure reading these days, except every evening from 7:30-8. I realize I haven't given you an update on my favorites lately.

Matisse's Garden was made from the wonderful MoMa exhibit of Matisse's cutouts. It's chock full of reproductions, in addition to a description of Matisse's process.

It pairs well with Bonjour, Mr. Satie. I worship Tomie de Paola and love everything he writes, but this book was a real treat--it's about a fight between Picasso and Matisse, with appearances by Gertrude Stein.

Emily, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, is a charming book about Emily Dickinson.

Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen is a charmingly illustrated poem. I think it's my absolute favorite, and we finally own it. It's only a positive for me that it was originally banned.

While Anno's Italy is still my favorite, all of them are great.

The Busiest Street in Town is an ode to walkability and neighborhoods. I also found a really old book called All around the Town. While it's pretty dated, it's fully of nice little poems that praise urban life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dementia and My Uncle

We found out this year that my uncle--who is pretty young, he hasn't even retired yet--has fairly significant dementia, which seems to have developed quite rapidly. The logistics of this are incredibly stressful--at the same time that his family is coming to terms with his symptoms, a lot needs to be done. And some of that my uncle was thought to be doing, but because of the illness, of course, he wasn't. But more than all of this, it is just plain old hard news to hear about a loved one, especially when I was far away.

When I heard it, I assumed that he wouldn't be the same person, that he would somehow be erased by this illness.

When I was visiting my parents in my hometown several months ago, however, I was able to visit him. Not that it makes the situation any easier for him or for his family, but for me it was very consoling and helped me come to terms with it.

He was still the same person; he showed me pictures of his daughter's artwork--which he is very proud of--and pictures of his daughters and son and other relatives, to whom he is very devoted. He sang "Swing Low" for my son, which is one of my son's favorite songs. My uncle has always been a good singer and has always liked to sing.

He was different, too: He didn't talk about Fox News politics, which has consumed him for the last 5 or 10 years (except to mention that Mike Pence got the VP slot). He couldn't talk about his work, since he isn't able to work anymore. My uncle's work has defined him for as long as I've been alive; he is a hardworking and devoted employee who has always found a lot of fulfillment in his job. He didn't incessantly look at facebook as he has on past visits.

But he did tell me that his wife doesn't like her new job and why.

None of me being there and talking to him makes the situation better for his family (two of his daughters are still in high school), but it did remind me that although dementia is very difficult to experience and difficult to watch, he is still my uncle, whom I love, and I'm glad for any chance to spend time with him.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On Identity

Provisional thesis:

All types of identity "studies," while needed to remedy some neglected areas of academic inquiry, focus on just one part of a person's identity.

Intersectionality is an acknowledgment that a couple of identities make you up. But we're even more complex than that--we are individuals who act and love in particular ways. None of us can fit neatly in any identity category.

Arendt's pariah offers a two-fold critique: On the one hand, of politics, from a particular perspective. On the other hand, of identity categories themselves, which always also need to be critiqued. Particularity is so important to Arendt that she could never get on board with an identity category that wants to overpower particularity.

This is relevant to unexpected Trump voters, pro-life women who participated in the anti-Trump march, etc.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Eating the kid's Valentine's Day candy. This motherhood thing is finally paying off.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Was there a time before this cold?

On the positive side, colds used to exhaust me and really knock me out. Now I couldn't tell you what it felt like not to have one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


"Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown, 
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic. 
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire, 
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches, 
In windless cold that is the heart's heat, 
Reflecting in a watery mirror 
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon. 
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier, 
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire 
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time 
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom 
Of snow, a bloom more sudden 
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading, 
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?"

--Little Gidding

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Random Assortment

~ A novel dress (heh heh)

~ On bat language.

~ Who will be the first lady? By the way, a very small, tangentially political point: I sort of love that Melania is staying put so as not to move her son in the middle of the school year.

~ Aziz Ansari on Trump.

~ Simcha on miscarriage.

~ AJ on the Doomsday clock: Doomsdumb. And here:

Moreover, now that climate change has entered in a major way into their thinking, the “ticking clock” metaphor has lost its fit to the circumstances. It was a good, strong image in the days of the Cold War, when the perceived danger was a nearly-simultaneous firing of nuclear weapons that could destroy a large part of human civilization in a just few hours. But when you’re trying to think about the consequences of anthropogenic climate change, the idea of a clock ticking down to midnight is meaningless. What would “midnight” be? The effects of such alterations to the ecosphere may indeed be vast, but “vaster than empires and more slow,” as the poet says, unfolding over centuries and millennia.


There is a reason that whoopie pies have sweet sugary icing and not cream cheese icing. I've bought these twice here (two different flavors--for $2.50 each), each time disappointed to find cream cheese inside. This is wrong. I can't stand it--I have to push it off on my husband because there is no point in eating it at all as far as I'm concerned. Don't tempt me with my favorite dessert and then try to improve on it, ruining it entirely.

(The reason is, I think, that the cookies aren't as sweet as normal cookies, so the blast of sweetness comes in the icing. And cream cheese just doesn't cut it. Bleh.)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Rant, cont'd

To further my comment about appreciating different people's responses to the election, I thought this was great.


"The short space of sixty years can never shut in the whole of man's imagination; the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy his heart. Alone among all created beings, man shows a natural disgust for existence and an immense longing to exist; he scorns life and fears annihilation. These different instincts constantly drive his soul toward contemplation of the next world, and it is religion that leads him thither. Religion, therefore, is only one particular form of hope, and it is as natural to the human heart as hope itself. It is by a sort of intellectual aberration, and in a way, by doing moral violence to their own nature, that men detach themselves from religious beliefs; an invincible inclination draws them back. Incredulity is an accident; faith is the only permanent state of mankind."

--Tocqueville, who else?

Sunday, January 29, 2017


A) I'm pretty annoyed at the idea (which I see promulgated over and over) that each person has the responsibility to speak out on facebook against political actions with which they disagree. I use facebook to share pictures, primarily baby pictures. It's not clear to me that talking about politics on twitter or facebook changes anyone's mind. Relatedly, I'm committed to dialogue and conversation (the practices that I cultivate in the classroom and, I hope, in my personal relationships) as the location for the expression of political and religious beliefs and for pursuing the common good together. Knowing the people with whom you are pursuing truth is crucial to the pursuit of truth; otherwise, it can be reduced to attempts at persuasion.

(This is not a critique of those who choose to write about politics on social media, just a response to the often-voiced critique that those who are silent about politics on social media don't care or are doing nothing.)

B) I'm really grateful, now more than ever, to be part of a Church that advocates a consistent ethic of life, supporting the dignity of the person from conception throughout life. Understanding all human persons, including refugees, as having dignity means that charity and hospitality are important, too. As John Garvey points out:
There is another option, which the church commends to rich nations like ours: to practice the virtues of charity and hospitality. We should “welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2241). And nations should respect the natural right “that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.”