Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jane: Three books

My Reader's Notebook says: "A coming-of-age tale along with the story of a compelling book and its author in Barcelona; a mystery, melodrama, horror story, reminding me of Harry Potter and Name of the Rose." It's a big, fat book that makes you take your time even though it reads like a page-turner. I loved it.
I read Marley and Me because we're considering it for our Linn Area Reads program. By the way, that's the best committee I've ever served on: we read and talk about books, then talk about how to celebrate them with the community!

The book's a lightweight; I read it in about 3 hours. I'm not so enchanted with this dog, either. Seems like he's badly trained. And there are readers out there in the internet who also feel that way. But we may use it; some of us like the idea of a book that's really for non-readers, to get more people into the library and talking about books. My friend Dan gave me this book. I'm especially fond of Dan. I'd heard of the book--a best-seller though published by a really small press. Word-of-mouth kind of sensation. I was looking forward to reading it.

The plot is that a man who's experienced a terrible tragedy--the abduction and murder of his youngest child--confronts God in the shack where his daughter was murdered. He's brought face to face with unconditional love, and learns that "religion" isn't necessarily what God wants, that God isn't who he expected, and that we are not alone through loss and tragedy.

While it has some odd bits of theology in it, the basics of the story make a wonderful parable, reminding people of what it means to say "God is Love." I'm going to pass this one on to a friend.

I don't know what non-Christians would think of it. They may find some of the theological apology a bit much--lots of stuff on the trinity, especially. Actually, I found that a bit much, too.

If you've read any of these, tell me what you thought!

My next book is The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri. But after that . . . well, give me a suggestion!

Jane: Most Wonderful Time

Do you remember that Staples ad, with the dad dancing with his shopping cart down the school supply aisle to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and the kids walking morosely behind?

I love that ad!

Apparently, it's a favorite of others, too. You can still watch it on You Tube.

I always sing that song to my children in the stores as I skip along behind the cart. This year, they good-naturedly swatted me with their school supply lists. Hey, they embarrassed me for many years; now it's my turn to embarrass them!

It is a wonderful time of the year. OK, granted, summer is over, and that always makes me a little sad. And it's not that I don't enjoy their company--I am really glad to have summers at home with them. Even this summer, when they went off with their buddies to the pool instead of with me. We slow down the pace, get away from the high intensity of the teaching and learning business, and just hang out together. And they're really great companions.

But I was feeling especially glad about the begining of the school year this year. Maybe it's because the college started up before their school, and I've been skittering back and forth between two roles: summer stay-home mom and professor Jane. Maybe it's because I did the Poynter workshop, and I'm eager to start working on what I learned about teaching multi-media. I guess I could have worked on some of that stuff while they were home, but the summer ambiance of idleness and interruption makes it hard to really dig in.

So now that they're off at their very first day of the school year, I'm really excited about buckling down to work. They'll be doing their work of learning. I'll be doing my work of writing, teaching . . . and learning, too. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jane: Pflaumenkuchen

Our neighbors brought us some plums last week, from a relative's tree. I decided to bake some pflaumenkuchen, a torte made with plums that I first had in Germany during the fall of 1980. I got the recipe from the NYT many years later. Basically, you make a pound cake batter and set the halved plums on top, then bake for 45 minutes.

The tortes (I made 2) came out great, though the batter completely covered the plums! Usually it surrounds them like little plum islands. The plums baked up nice and reddish purple, despite having yellowish flesh when raw. I forgot to take a picture of the completed tortes; here's what's left now.
We had our neighbors over for the kuchen, topped with real whipped cream. My neighbor now wants the recipe!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jane: Remy's Ratatouille

Eli and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday. My mission was to get ingredients for ratatouille, one of my favorite late-summer meals. Everything I needed was there: eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion, pepper. I also got some beans and a melon.

"Are you going to make that ratatouille that was in the movie?" asked Eli. Of course he meant the gorgeous ratatouille that Remy the rat created in the movie Ratatouille

"I was just going to make it the old fashioned way," I said.

"Make it like in the movie," said Eli. "It looked really cool."

I told him I'd find a recipe and make it that way--if he'd try it! He promised.

It wasn't hard to find recipes. I found this one on Smitten Kitchen--looked easy and I had all the ingredients. Well, I didn't have yellow squash, but I did have two colors of pepper: green and red. And I didn't have a round pan, but my rectangular glass one was fine. Unlike my standard Moosewood Cookbook recipe, the movie ratatouille (actually called a confit elsewhere) doesn't have tomatoes or red wine. The thinly-sliced veggies are laid on top of a thin layer of tomato sauce and baked in the oven.

Here's what mine looked like. Not bad! I had my little crocheted Remy there to inspire me.
It looked even nicer baked. I served it on polenta with some red wine.

Eli tried a tiny bite. Bruce and I finished it off!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jane: Watching the Olympics

So have you been watching the olympics?

Everyone wants to know.

The answer, for me, is "yes."

Lots of years I miss out on the Olympics. I'm not a TV watcher, so I just forget to turn it on. I might make plans to watch early in the day, but then forget.

This year, I really made a point to turn it on and watch. I didn't see the opening ceremonies, but I've caught lots of athletic footage.

At first, it was exciting--I watched Michael Phelps win a race early on, and watched the women's team gymnastics: the burly American team vs. the tiny, thin Chinese team. Interesting!

But prime time coverage was a bit repetetive. It was swimming and gymnastics every night! So I stopped watching after a while.

Bruce agreed with me about the limited view for coverage. "They just show sports in which Americans might win a medal," he said. "They didn't cover basketball or baseball."

"I don't want to see basketball or baseball," I said. "I want to see weird sports that you don't usually see!" I guess that's why gymnastics and swimming can be fun . . . for a while.

Saturday, though, we turned it on mid-day and they were showing the weird stuff! We watched dressage, fencing, and stadium jumping, along with the women's marathon interspersed with diving and sprints. How fun!

I think I appreciate the olympics more than I have in past years, too. It all reminds me of that movie "Chariots of Fire." When I saw it, I though, eh, so what. Ellen told me that of course I wouldn't like that movie. "Unless you do sports, you're not going to understand that movie," she said. Same with the Olympics. Now that I've actually trained for athletic events--Tae Kwon Do tournaments, and--especially--my black belt test, I can appreciate the Olympic events much more. OK, I didn't train for hours a day for years on end. But I did train hard, learned to focus, and pushed myself physically . . . for a time. It helps me understand--a bit--what those athletes are going through, and helps me appreciate it, too.
Maybe that also helps me remember to turn it on and watch!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


^This is the house we cleaned up^
\/ And here's the living room of the house Uncle Bill is moving in to with his fiance\/

^Here are Gabi and me on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point^
^Here are Gabi and Maggie playing B-Ball^
\/This is the local Malleys ice cream place\/
\/Here are Maggie and Kim at Cedar Point.\/

\/Oops, I accidentally got them addicted to Mariokart...\/
\/Here is me, looking awesome, as usual\/

\/This is the cable car transport at Cedar Point\/
(B.T.W. Gabi lost those sunglasses...)
\/Yes, it's a turtle what do you think it would be?\/
(see, no sunglasses)
\/Uncle Bill at the grill\/

Here is a video of the Power tower

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jane: Cleaning out the House

This is the dollhouse that my Grandfather built for my mom--he renovated it for me when I was 4. My sister and I played with it for years. My brother's daughters played with it, too. It's looking a bit worn out.

Why is it in a wheelbarrow? Jerry's mom is going to take it. She does dollhouses (I remember hers from when I was a girl) and she said she'd love to redo it.

On Sunday, I returned from a trip to Cleveland to clear out the house I grew up in. My sister, brother, and I divided up heirlooms, decided what to throw away, and got the house emptied (mostly) so my brother could get it ready to rent or sell.

My parents had lived in the house from 1965 until my mom had her stroke in 2002. They weren't really collectors, but still, the house was filled with stuff! Nice furnishings, of course, and dishes, heirlooms, bedding . . . but also scrapbooks and slides and childhood toys and books and electronic equipment . . .

We've been clearing bit by bit all along: when Mom and Dad moved into the nursing home, when they passed away. But we decided to come back together to do this one last clearing.

"It's just stuff," said my sister when we started to feel overwhelmed. "We'll take what's meaningful and throw out the rest." My sister's moved many times in her life and she is great at sorting and paring down.

Mostly I felt this way, too. The house was "my house," then "my parents' house," then "Uncle Bill's house," and finally it's become "the Bardbury house" as my brother has moved across town with his fiance. That progression from "mine" to "a house" has been useful as I've had to let go of my childhood home.

But it was still wrenching to see carousel after carousel of slides go into a trash bag (after we'd gleaned the most interesting slides), and Mom's travel scrapbooks and their high school yearbooks go into the rubbish.

Still, as Ellen said, we saved what was most meaningful. I'll see some of those remnants of our house every day--

This lamp was from my grandmother's childhood home in Skanee, Michigan. It was originally a gas lamp, and someone converted it. It looks nice on the buffet table from her home.
My dad saw this beautiful redwood burl when we were on our big "out west" trip back in '74. He ordered it and had it shipped to our house, where he made it into a table. I love the way it looks in the family room. I also love having something he made.
This chair belonged to my sister--then my parents had it after Ellen and Ken moved to Europe. It's comfortable and has a certain mid-20th c. style.
Robbie couldn't leave without this clock. He wound it and found it worked. At first, I didn't want it, but its chime is soft and pleasant, and it belonged to my grandfather, who had a whole collection of clocks. It's on our mantle now, keeping time just fine.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jane: Video News

This morning I am at Coe working with iMovieHD.  I've tried out Final Cut Pro at the Poynter workshop, and iMovie 08 yesterday.  Final Cut is an expensive program, and Coe just has a few copies.  iMovie 08 is very hard to use.  iMovieHD is the version before 08, and it is Just Right!

I think my students will be able to use it to create nice video packages for journalism.

Here's the one I created, with footage I taped at the Poynter Institute.  

BTW, it was a fictional situation!

Robbie: Finally, N64!

Yay, my N64 is finally here and the game is too!
(I didn't repeat DID NOT react like the psycho little kid in the movie link)
The game I got is "007 The World Is Not Enough" and it ROCKS!

Robbie's LEGO Showcase

Here is a strange transport I made (no it's nothing like a Star Wars Podracer)
Here are the Go-Karts Eli and I made, mine is the one without guns.
Here is Eli's multicolored jail tower. Don't ask.
Here is my super special awesome speedboat!
BTW the character in the speedboat and my Go-Kart is Secret Agent Me! 
PS check out my awesome sunglasses.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Robbie: Legos/my awful typing skills

I have a large and almost continuously expanding LEGO collection and make many models, so I decided to use the blog as a showcase.
(whew I'm typing really slowly because I'm used to my laptop's smaller keyboard,,,)
Here is a cruise ship I made with a HUGE bag of LEGOs I got for $7. It is entirely made up of blocks and slopes. No complicates == (again huge fat keyboard_) no complicated pieces.

In the photo it is sailing across...a granite countertop?

Here is a snowmobile that I made quite recently out of more complicated pieces.

It w == even has rasdio! (radio)
Here is a siege scene that my brother set up in which the droid army is besieging Fort Lego. I will continue the seried=s series (of LEGOs not my crappy typing) when I build new things so look for "Robbie's LEGO Showcase"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jane: Remy the Rat

Isn't he cute?

You can find the pattern at craftster, here. Two small hints: 1. Use an F hook. 2. Arms should be cylenders, but with just 3 single crochets into your magic ring. (The pattern says 6 scs. Way too fat.) That part's tricky, as you're crocheting into a very narrow cylender.

I want to make Sonic the Hedgehog, but haven't found a pattern. I may have to make my own . . . If anyone knows of a pattern, let me know!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Robbie, Eli: New video game systems

Ahh. eBay is a wonderful place.
Eli and I both ordered new video game systems off of eBay mine being a Nintendo 64
(by the way watch this video. yeah... that's not gonna be me!)
and Eli's being a SEGA Game Gear. I ordered mine two days before he did and mine was near Chicago and his being previously in Massachusetts so of course it came first...
Game Gear-->
If you thought that his Game Boy was big, this thing is huge.

Here is a picture of a N64 (not mine it hasn't arrived yet

Jane: Technology--Arrgh!

OK, those last two posts didn't turn out the way I want them to. I guess technology isn't always easy.

The slide show was made on iPhoto, though we worked with Audacity and SoundSlides at the Poynter workshop. I tried out iPhoto and had a nice show with fades and Ken Burns effect. But when I saved in quicktime, it came up as a straight slide show. I don't know what happened.

And in my last post, only the very end of my video got posted! There was actually a short news story (the beginning of one, anyway) with a voiceover, interviews, and some neat overlapping video/audio. But somehow, only the last interview got saved. Someone was helping me at that point (the instructor!) and I think we were doing different things.

All this, plus some troubles with the technology now and then at the workshop, made me feel a bit wary of technology and teaching it. Not that I'm going to leave it out of my class--I can't! But I need to be aware that there are always odd glitches and misunderstandings popping up.

Robbie showed me Moviemaker today. Maybe I'll try using it and see what I can come up with. I can re-do my news video, or maybe just put together the footage from the Sarasota Aquarium and bay boat ride.

I'll be ready for those glitches!