Postlude to Christmastide: The review on the back of Rumer Godden's, The Doll's House says it best, " For little girls who love dolls, women who remember dollhouse days, and literary critics who can recognize a masterpiece."  This book took Fiona and I on a ride to the edge of a cliff where we stared into the dark abyss below and pleaded for mercy. And we were granted it.  Mercy and honor and sacrifice were put in their rightful throne and we will never see things quite the same again.

Tomorrow Myles turns 11. Asterix and Redwall will always be his first loves.  I can still picture his four year old self curled up on a red beanbag chair flipping through the pictures, or listening to Brian Jacques and his band of storytellers read aloud the tales of heroism in a woodland abbey. This past week he has picked Redwall up again to read before bed. How interesting it is how much they change and how much they stay the same.

Tomorrow we will give him this:



When I want to remember my mother I turn the oven to 425 degrees and roast onions.  The delicious, comforting smell that wafts through the kitchen tells me that I am doing something right.  My mother loved onions with a passion that caught my attention as a child. I can still hear the delightful crunch they made as she ate smiling while we watched, envious of her pleasure.  I remember the feeling of wanting to enjoy something, anything as much as she enjoyed onions.  

The holidays, when virtually everything I do I learned from my mother, are very complicated.  I am thankful for the many yuletide traditions that she taught me, but I also feel her absence acutely in carrying them out.  Merrymaking and festiveness, together with sorrow;  always and forever.  This Christmastide week has been quiet and therefore most welcome.  There is time to read, reflect, and roast onions and toss them with herbs and a vinaigrette.  And then to munch happily in the knowledge that I come very close to matching my mother's enjoyment level of onions and hopefully many other things. 

Here are the books that were given in our home this year:

PS. I read this today and was swept away.  Thanks be to Myles' literature teacher for I am now acquainted with Rosemary Sutcliff.


On a Friday

I have begun to work at a school library; Fiona's school library to make things that much more convenient. I love it.  I spend three mornings a week placing my favorite books into the hands of first, second, and third graders.  I feel humbled that I get to do such gratifying work and I never want to take it for granted.  One of my favorite perks is running my hands along the spines of titles that I have never seen before. I grabbed this one as I ran out the door on Wednesday and I can't stop reading it.  The words run like a harmonious babbling brook through my mind.  Voigt's descriptions paint a vivid picture of coastal Maine as I could not have imagined. And the heroine is name, Clothilde.  There's a name that got away. I love seeing it written in type again and again.  Clothilde has struggles and asks difficult questions. It feels like a story just right for this day.  And there is a lot of charming talk about clam chowder, being in Maine and all.

"...so it was Clothilde who chopped wood, year-round, for the stoves, and shoveled coal into the boiler that supplied hot water for the house; who dug potatoes out of the garden with Mother; it was Clothilde who- whose future didn't matter."

It is Friday and the sun is shinning, but yet I am bracing for the weekend.  Fiona has a play to perform tonight and Sunday, and Myles has his usual Sunday morning choir boy obligations, as well as the rest of us.  I hope to find a bit of rest in the midst of all the ought-tos.  Even as I write that I feel guilty complaining about being busy.  What nerve I have.  


And Two Boys Booed

Fiona said today that this is her favorite book of all time. That was a happy moment for me.  There is something charming and wonderful and sentimental about this story.  I love books that tell about the awkward moments of childhood.  The ones that people like to think don't happen to children.  The times when things don't go as smoothly as we imagine.  And to beat all there are soothing flaps to turn throughout the whole thing. It is simply the best.  

Today was a glorious late autumn day in which we walked back and forth to Harvard Square to get Myles a haircut.  On the way we found a bright pink wallet on a bench right in the middle of the hustle bustle.  We picked it up and posted a sign that read, "Dear So and So, we found your wallet!" along with my phone number. Thirty minutes later we received a call from a relieved citizen and reunited the person with their wallet. It was a moment that boosted all of our spirits to see a happy ending unfold particularly in the face of a very skeptical ten year old who thought we should run in the other direction of the whole situation.  I remembered how much better it is to give, than to receive. To be hopeful instead of dower. To be empowered by doing was exactly what we needed.  


The Friday after

This week left a mark.  But despite the chaos of starting the week off with Halloween Monday, somehow we are all still standing and happy to be home.  These books I could read over and over again.  Come Home, Angus is getting some press as a Caldecott maybe.  It is so beautiful and features a hangry (did I just write that word?) kid and a firm, loving mother.  I love books like this.  Especially when the kid eats something interesting in the end, like a sardine sandwich for example.