over hills, mr. underhill

(after breaking to put the girls to sleep...)

I think that John should someday tell you all about his wonderful Grandma Mildred Heck (the very one after whom Millie is named). She was as interesting as her name, and then some.

Anyway, thanks to her great love of Barbies and collecting dolls in general, I have spent a large portion of this past week with my thoughts and tasks wrapped around Barbie's impossible frame while selling some of Grandma Heck's vintage collection over the Ebay circuit. People behave unbelievably foolishly sometimes, and a few have exchanged a limb for one of these plastic pieces draped (or not-so-draped) in costumes of their choice.

One desperate man in Scotland looking for the perfect birthday gift paid top dollar for a Scottish Barbie doll. I suppose it's not enough just to be immersed in a rich culture; one has to collect cheap American imitations of the same.

(But to be fair, the Scottish Barbie looks pretty darn cool.)

So, my double-deep stack of books and too-new guitar await as I tap out descriptions of Barbie's unique marvels.

No longer. I'm off.

bobby fischers in training. (oh, for a board of bone!) Posted by Hello

it was worth a shot. Posted by Hello

gypsy in training. (oh, for a painted gypsy wagon!) Posted by Hello

after a run to the post office to ship grandma heck barbie dolls off to scotland, i remembered that i never fulfilled my promise of new glasses unveiling. so here my peepers are before (note the harried look in them, the flyaway hair, and the tasteful positioning of an orange balloon by my left ear)....... Posted by Hello

and after.... a school marm. and millie toasts my new glasses. (a school marm with puns a plenty.)  Posted by Hello


yep. i take my cue from leah to announce that, since this past Lord's Day, annika has been walking more than she crawls. she's delighted with herself now that she's using those feet for more than a handful of steps at a time, even making the arduous trek from bathroom to living room upright.  Posted by Hello

she got stuck up to her waist at one point. luckily, her belly's roundness enabled her to roll right out. Posted by Hello

nothing like a father teaching his daughter how to rake snow properly... Posted by Hello


THE $12 FOLLY...

is, unfortunately, unlike Seward's Folly.

No hidden blessing lies latent in paying 12 dollars for a new USB cable, unless that blessing is showing faraway friends and family these choice photos.

[I'm off to pluck my guitar discordantly to Annika. Thank goodness she can't vocalize her protests in formal language yet.]

see below Posted by Hello

as soon as millie heard the good news, she ran to her costume bag and decked herself as a tribal bride. Posted by Hello

all millie wanted for Christmas was a "toyboy" hat and some oranges. she got both. (for some reason, though, all our relatives piled her high with sundry treats. in a related matter, i have yet to win even one skirmish with the generously shopping McGamma Owen in the war against excess. She grins in the picture, knowing that her upper hand is firm and sure. (my trump card is the hope of 12 children, for even the bank accounts of grandmothers have their limits, and 12 children is a wonderful lot.) Posted by Hello

my sister becky gave her some face paints, and our first night home, she became a bashful ringmaster. Posted by Hello

millie has the best moon face ever. Posted by Hello

this past sunday's ride home... Posted by Hello

and annika, too! we could scarcely believe our good fortune. Posted by Hello

millie thinks that anything the two of them can fit into is fair game for sailing the high seas in. Posted by Hello

millie's cousin alexandra outgrew lots of playclothes and passed them along. millie can't quite figure out the mask mechanics, though. Posted by Hello

i made millie some cloth tea bags out of castaway clothes a few months ago. annika enjoyed this cup that millie brewed expressly for her. Posted by Hello

annika has not taken up smoking, regardless of the incriminating snapshot. (four years ago, nan's brother tim gave 2 of these to john and i upon his return from thailand.) Posted by Hello

one guess each, please. correct answers must not only identify the item correctly but also provide the reason behind the why. winners will be notified of their superior logic... Posted by Hello

even millie's not this chubby. earlier in the night, she'd removed raggedy ann & andy's clothes so they could swim in the living room with her. when bedtime came, she stuffed them into her fuzzy so they wouldn't get cold. Posted by Hello


Charlie and the Ground Beef Factory

i really love what i've read of roald dahl's autobiographical work (click on the golden ticket to enter). even granting him some artistic license and old man tall-tale-telling, his stories from his childhood, in particular, are marvelous and menacing both, which may explain some of the marvels and menace in his fiction. anyway, yesterday we went to the central library in buffalo and took out 48 items with a library card limited to 50 items. one of those items was My Year by dahl.

Here is a choice quote:

"There was so much fruit every autumn that I told all the children in the village they could come in at any time and ask to borrow a ladder and pick what they wanted. They came in droves. Today, old age and storms have finished off many of the trees and there are only about thirty left. Even so, there are still plenty of apples on them, and in October, the trees are dripping with big green cookers and rosy eaters, but no children come anymore asking to pick. They haven't come for the past ten or fifteen years. I wonder why. Recently, I met a bunch of boys in the lane coming back from school and asked them if they would like to go up the trees and get a basketful of apples. They shook their heads and said, 'Naaw.'
What has happened to these children? I believe they have too much pocket money and prefer to buy crisps and Coke in the shops rather than climb trees for apples. I find this infinitely sad. Boys should want to climb trees. They should want to build tree-houses. They should want to pick apples. Maybe all the crisps and the Coke and the junk food they consume nowadays has made them sluggish."

i find it infinitely sad, too. and girls should want to, too, for that matter.

the sole reason why this is a "choice quote" instead of an account of his childhood stunts is because today i was also reading the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. (Rolling Stone isn't my primary news source, but they published these portions that are now included in the
book.) The best part is in Fast-Food Nation: The True Cost Of America's Diet. Part Two, in which the meat-packing industry is detailed. mmmmm.

i am a hair away from deciding to not eat ground beef that either
1. Scott Terry or another honest, small-scale farmer, can't vouch for
2. John and I have not raised (in our pipe-dream future of homesteading)

and all this comes on the coat-tails of watching Supersize Me before we left for Long Island to eat fast food for a week.


i am happy.
john bought me a guitar on the sly, and i will learn to play well by at least the age of ninety. i have toyed with the idea of playing in the past, but the closest i came was my four year flirtation with electric bass guitar, an idea which my brother pete presented as the first step in our glamorous life as The Johnson Family Band. i came to my senses eventually and gave the guitar to my brother joel, who, in his turn, will someday come to his senses. i need an instrument that i can sing with, and victor wooten i will never be.

the other magnificent gift john gave me was the complete Bone series by jeff smith, all bound in one big, beautiful volume. i hadn't read the last two trade paperbacks that he released, and now i'm reading the entire story from beginning to end. what bliss!

oh, and i've lost the usb cable needed to transfer pictures to this page. someday i will find it, and post a picture of Millie as Ringmaster and one of Abigail Wearing Her New Glasses.

until then, listen to these overdue songs by alasdair roberts. it's a disservice to the songs to post them with scratchy, muffled fuzziness, but i said i would, so i will. you all can remedy the problem by visiting our stereophonic listening theater in depew. ("the whole house is singing" makes me happy every time i hear it and, for some reason, reminds me of my past and probable future--a house filled with children and bustle--with a twist of jo's boys.)

"Farewell Sorrow"
...so arm in arm, we'll run towards that pair,
and we as they, joined and double-threaded
and arms flung wide, we'll run towards that pair
and never fear that which once we dreaded...

"The Whole House is Singing"
The whole house is singing, the whole house is singing
The rafters are ringing, the timbers are thronged
The whole house is singing, the whole house is singing
I overhear them and this is their song:

"We are stronger when the moon grows in the skies
And the moon causes the tides to rise and rise
And the weed carried upon the drawing foam
We will gather to bedeck our happy home."