Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Vacation Lingers On

I went early this morning, as is my wont, for a hike on the snowshoe trails at Jay Peak. For the first time ever, a Jaykie (someone on the payroll) stopped me before I got started and asked me to walk on the sides of the trail. Of course, I wouldn't walk in the set x-country ski tracks... Not sure what this was about except that I felt like this kid wanted me to have a trail pass. In my feeble defense, I had asked about one a few weeks ago, before a previous hike, and the ski desk people said "nevermind". Of course, that was a few weeks ago and maybe now they want their coin. The trail, as you will see, has been groomed and I guess they are really trying to get their nordic business going. It was clear that they are getting more traffic. Not good for me but I guess that's not something that worries the management. I feel now for the first time like I stole my walk this morning.

Oh dear. And it was a Sunday.

The Woolfoot family has been home for most of the last week and it's getting a little tedious. I was going to head down to the fabulous Capital District of New York (of which I am a native) but the weather has been so crumby the last the few weeks that I haven't wanted to risk the drive. Kids and I did go to Montreal last week for an overnight. We were there on Boxing Day and joined every person in the province of Quebec on St. Catherine St. Whoo.

I have left a few loose ends on some old postings that I really must go back and write about. Before I do that, however, here's another "note to self": do an essay called, "I Really Don't Want to See You" about how we have all these old friends and family members that we talk to or touch base with periodically but how we really don't have the desire to actually see. them. I am mentally captioning the big picture above (that I took today), "Old Friends." I took off my gloves and put them on my poles to take the picture of the trees. Then, I thought, I like th gloves on the poles too. So, gentle reader, here is some of my art for you.

Happy 2008.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dictation from Kid 2

Last night after my daughter read me story that she had worked on all day, my son, who is six, wanted to write one too. I offered to transcribe. Here is his story:

The Boat of Destruction

Chapter 1

There were two parents and two kids too. One of the parents said “come on we’re going to be late for theboat ride!” “But that boat is very dangerous” “oh don’t be silly honey” “but that boat is one thousand years old.” The Dad was talking to the son and he said “Sonny, we’re going to go on the very old boat.” That boat is one thousand years old. Those boats were very very weak. On the day that they were on the boat, when the boat started to go they heard a jingling. And the whistle sounded like that. When they were on the boat started to crack. The next thing they know, both of the boats, the boy was in front and the girls were way behind, what happened was the boat started to sink. Everyone was screaming. Only four people survived. They got to Idaho and there was a very very older boat that never ran because it already sank. The boat broke in two. When the boat sank that night, next thing they know, the next ship they were on, the hoat sounded like this, the horn, that very night there was very stormy weather. There was only one way out. The life boat. There was only one and the captain was gone. And then they rowed away and saw land. And the same boat they were in was picked up and was very good. Finally everyone died even the father. The ghost returned, next thing they know, they came back to life and saw a very old boat that was so old it couldn’t float and the whistle sounded like this, as fresh as air. They had bad steering problems. Every inch they go they sink, but they got it fixed up then the whistle sounded like this.

To be continued

If anyone is interested in optioning the movie rights, let me know.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This Morning at the Last House; The Golden Compass

Snow is in the forecast today and lots of it. At 6:22 AM, as I write, it is still dark, but peering up at the streetlight(one benefit of being the last house in the village is that we are also at the end of the last street and have a village-supplied light 50 feet from the front door); looking at the streetlight I see only a fine, confectioner's sugar snow falling lightly. The Weather Channel and the local forecasters have practically announced the Apocalypse: SNOW! WIND! and then MORE SNOW !and MORE WIND! Hmm. We'll see. I think the fizzle rate on these forecasts is about 50 percent. Nevertheless, the Doomsayers have the Kids and I more or less counting on a snow day for tomorrow. Also, I have been preparing Kid 2 for days for the fact that we may not be able to get to the party to build gingerbread houses at the home of his little best friend in Hyde Park (30 miles distant at least) that is scheduled for this PM. I am going to need blizzard conditions to persuade him that attendance is a bad idea.

Woolfoot Consumer News and Reviews Continued

I don't think I wrote here about my experience a few months back with Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials; The Golden Compass etc. After I got my new laptop this summer, from which I am now addressing you, I signed up for and started looking for good children's literature. I was directed repeatedly to Pullman's series so I took a chance and downloaded the audio version of TGC. Well, if you've been reading here, you know my enthusiasms can be a little extreme from time to time. I was ready to worship at the altar of Philip Pullman. I still am, metaphorically, anyway. The audio version of that book was absolutely the single best production of an audio book I have ever heard. The book is brilliant; Pullman reads it himself and there is a cast of wonderful actors playing the parts. I could not stop listening. I jumped on audible and wrote a review praising the book to the sky. I would do it again. Hooked as I was, I had to hear the rest of the trilogy. I liked and admired The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass but I didn't think they were really nearly as good as The Golden Compass.
Having established us in this wonderful world in his first book, the center could not hold. The world of TGC had some rules; those all seemed to disappear by the time we got to the end. Those rules are important. I am a great admirer of Hayao Miyazaki. There's a scene in Spirited Away (my favorite movie of all time) where the boy hero must smuggle his new friend, the heroine, into the magical bathhouse where he works and where she must go. He tells her that she has to hold her breath as they cross the bridge into this bathhouse. If she takes a breath, the crowd of magical creatures on the bridge will be able to see her and there will be big trouble.

Miyazai talked about that scene in an interview I heard. He said how it was important for children to have such rules in their stories. He had made this particular one up himself - it wasn't based on any folk tale or anything (although we feel that it could have been, because we all know these rules and expect them in our fairy tales). Of course, in the film, the girl is startled into a deep intake of breath (a talking frog in a little bathrobe jumps into the face of her friend to ask where he has been and she gasps). The girl is revealed and only quick thinking and action by her friend (who puts a hex on the frog) saves them.

Well, Pullman seems to give up on any parameters by the time he gets to The Amber Spyglass. Anything can happen; Angels make themselves manifest and talk with people; they have some powers and not others but we don't know where those begin and end; the subtle knife cuts doors between worlds and this can mean almost anything at any time. The big Cataclysmic Showdown at the end of the third book seems to me a chaotic muddle. As for the religious debates that are raging about all this now, Pullman is an artist and entitled to his opinions. I think the trilogy is clearly unfriendly to organized religion. I am not sympathetic to that point of view, but I Pullman is an artist and I respect his vision. Also my religious philosophy is summed up by John Milton (who is quoted by Pullman and is the author of the phrase "His Dark Materials"). "God needs not man's work or his own gifts. His state is Kingly." In short, God has nothing to fear from Philip Pullman.
. The opposite is not true - but Pullman has a gift. Using that gift, according to his lights, can't be a wrong thing - and consider the wonderful thing he has made.
In related news, I learned in my early morning web surfing, only moments ago, that Kate Bush has contributed a song to the soundtrack of the new Golden Compass Movie. (If I weren't worried about morphing into a female variant of Comic Book Guy, and about the Wiccan-lonely-hearts types who seem to comprise her organized admirers, I'd probably start a fan club for Kate Bush too). Within 10 minutes I had downloaded the whole soundtrack from iTunes. In a slimy corporate move, iTunes wouldn't let you buy the the Kate Bush single unless you buy the whole album. The whole raison d'etre of iTunes is to prevent having to buy whole albums to get one song. Still, I listened a little to the other tracks and could tell I would like it so, I shelled out the coin. I am listening even now. Next time I get back I'll let you know what I think.
Kid 1 has come down and has been waiting patiently for her Cheerios, and to use the computer. And here's kid 2 (he had a dream that he would be a really good knitter...) Bye for now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Semi Snow Day - A Lady of Leisure?

Heavy wet snow fell last night. I declared my own two-hour school delay this morning. This meant, in addition to a somewhat safer drive to Morrisville, I had a couple of extra hours to spend doing the bare maintenance required to keep this show on the road and preparing some Christmas presents for relatives. How can packing boxes and loading up garbage for the dump take so much time?

The delay had the added advantage of allowing me a day in Stowe without having to kill too much time doing nothing in particular. I went to the gym (the Swimming Hole, it out - me and a few other oldish fat broads and "Le Tout Stowe") and then had lunch with another mom from school. We got talking when I heard her English accent and told her my plan for my Big Trip in the Spring. So, now I am a lady who goes to the gym and to lunch. (Also to the gas station, grocery store - twice - the post office, the bank and the library).Who'd have thunk it?

I was happy to come home and find that my Kate Bush "Kick Inside" CD has arrived. I haven't heard it all the way through since about 1985 and I am enjoying the title song as I blog.

A few pictures of the kids taken this snowy weekend round out this day's entry. Holiday greetings to anyone out there. pent

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Morning On the Snowy Border: Thoughts on Blossom Dearie

Big snow coming. Only December 2 and already we're under siege. This year it matters more because of all the driving we're doing. Sigh.
The kids are playing Monopoly with Woolfoot Husband and I'm transferring a few long-lost favorite CDs to iTunes. (Earlier this morning I went in search of our Charlie Brown Christmas CD - I found it and a few others as well).

As I write I am listening to my Blossom Dearie CD that I must have bought at least 10 years ago. I like, even love, many jazz singers: Sarah Vaughn, Etta James, Helen Merrill, Nina Simone (particularly her lately) and Blossom Dearie, She's hardly a household name but listening to this again reminds me how great she is: a cool, jazzy white girl who wore glasses and sang with Annie Ross in Paris nightclubs in 1952. How cool is that? What must life there have been like then? According to the liner notes, she returned to New York in 1956 and appeared at such clubs as "Chantilly" and the "Show Spot." One can just imagine what that life was like as well.

I thought I had discovered Ms. Dearie (her name is real, by the way. Her dad was Scottish and Dearie is a common Scots surname - he also picked her first name) in the early 90s. A couple of years ago I bought my kids the Schoolhouse Rock video (also fabulous) and recognized her voice stratightaway in the songs about Number 8 and adjectives - songs which I rememberd fondly from childhood and could sing by heart before I was 10.

So much for this morning's art review. In other news, recently a giant (25 at least) flock of turkeys has been clambering over the lawn and fields here at the last house. Wild turkeys appear to be taking over Vermont. They seem as common as crows lately. Here's a picture of them fleeing when I opened my front door on Thursday this week.
Maybe we'll try to get ahead of the snow and get a Christmas tree today so that if we're stuck home tomorrow we'll have something to occupy our time.