30 April, 2005

* Currently Playing *

Currently playing

The Art of the Middle Eastern Oud by Charbel Rouhana

Hubby received a music gift card for his birthday. Being a luthier, he is interested in all types of lutes, mandolins and guitars. He did some repair work on an oud last year for an acquaintance. The
Oud is a Middle Eastern Lute (derived from al-oud or "branch of wood").

This music is fun, and makes me think of Middle Eastern or Greek food!

29 April, 2005

Rose Bushes ~ I get to wake up to the view of two of these bushes every morning. They are bursting with blooms!

25 April, 2005


Dear son Androcles had a b-day this past week, so I took him to Half-Price Bookstore for an adventure. He chose an Origami kit for us to work on together. It is called The Origami Book and Kit by Makiko Ikeda, and was originally $30. We found it for $9.98, less the teachers' discount. I noticed there are several of them available at Bookcloseouts.com for just under $13.

This is not something I've ever really tried on my own before, although I have admired other people's origami creations over the years. He took to it rather quickly, and has enjoyed this more than I thought he would! this kit is simple enough for a nine or ten year old, and ds and I both highly recommend it!

"...Whereas Western art focuses upon the freedom to move images around on paper or canvas to create fixed patterns, origami ignores the separation between the image and the paper. The paper becomes part of the image, and is twisted and folded until it is the picture, not merely the surface on which it lies."
[The Artful Universe by John D. Barrow, Chapter 2, p. 7-8]

23 April, 2005

Birthday Dinner, including Shakespeare!

We celebrated multiple family birthdays with my inlaws and hubby's family tonight. While serving up the cake, dear daughter reminded us that it was Wm. Shakespeare's birthday, as well. He was born on this date, in 1564.

In honor of Shakespeare, I'll share one of my favorite sonnets, # 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his heighth be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

21 April, 2005

* Spanakopeta Recipe *

My favorite food...and it is terrific served with Hummus and hot pita bread.

Hubby's and my 20th Wedding Anniversary is coming up soon, and it is tradition for us to go out for Greek food, in honor of our anniversary and our honeymoon trip to Greece, so many years ago.

(Greek Spinach Pie)

from Betty Wason's Greek Cookbook, MacMillan Co., 1969

12 phyllo pastry sheets
2 pounds spinach, cooked and chopped,
or 2 packages frozen spinach, chopped
Minced and chopped dill (about 1 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
salt, to taste
1 or 2 eggs
½ pound feta cheese
½ cup melted butter or olive oil

If frozen spinach is used, cook as directed on package, draining well. Add dill, parsley, and salt to taste. Add 1 egg to the cooked spinach. Add the second egg to the cheese, which has been crumbled. I also like to add a small bit of finely chopped onion to this mix.

Butter a square baking dish (9 x 9 inches) and place 6 sheets of phyllo pastry in the bottom, brushing each sheet with melted butter or oil. Add a layer of all the spinach, dill, and parsley mixture, then a layer of all the cheese. Cover with 6 more phyllo sheets, buttering or oiling between each one. Now, it is helpful to keep a thin, damp cloth on top of the whole stack of phyllo dough from which you are getting new leaves to layer in your baking dish. This keeps the phyllo from drying out and sticking together.

With a sharp, pointed knife, cut the top layer of pastry into squares. Aprinkle water over top to keep phyllo paste from curling. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven, cool until it can be handled, then turn out upside down on a baking sheet, and return it to the oven so that the undercrust can become crisp and golden. Cut the pie into squares and serve. Excellent hot, also very good cold. makes about 6 entrée servings.

Doubles nicely, place and bake in 13 x 9 baking pan.

Today in History

Happy Birthday to John Muir, U.S. Naturalist, born in 1838 and Charlotte Bronte, novelist, born 1816.

On this day, Mark Twain died, in 1910.
In 1574, Cosimo I de Medici, art patron (Accademia del Disegno), died at age 64. That is old for a Medici!

It is also the day that folks in Rome celebrate the Natale di Roma (Rome's birthday, 753 BC).
For our Texas friends, this is San Jacinto day, marking the Battle of San Jacinto, 1836, when Texas won her independence from Mexico.

Two days ago, on April 19th was, of course, the day the Branch Davidian sieze ended 12 years ago, and the Oklahoma City bombing occured 10 years ago. Did you know it was also Patriots Day in Concord, Massachusetts? Hubby and I lived in Boston for a time, and we enjoyed spending time and working near the old, historical places.
Spring on the Charles River and Walden Pond is fantastic! This week (the third Monday of April) also marks the anniversary of the First Boston Marathon, first run on April 20th, 1897.

20 April, 2005

Alexander McCall Smith

I am hooked. Alexander McCall Smith is a very amiable, very funny man. A friend and I went to hear him speak, and have him sign some books last night at the Arts and Letters series in the city. In the above book, he pokes fun at professorial types, which may lead one to think that he himself is an arrogant man. After watching and hearing him, I think he just does not take himself or intelligence too seriously; he pokes fun at himself, and perhaps colleagues he has known.

After telling us a bit about the history of his characters and how he writes certain people into his books, he read to us from one of the Professor Dr. von Igelfeld books, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs. I had not laughed so much and so hard in one evening in quite some time. It was a terrific reminder to me that life has been (or "I" have been) rather serious of late, and that I need to seize opportunities to laugh more often.

The author was born in Zimbabwe and educated in Scotland. He now lives in Edinburgh with his family.

Last night, he was dressed in his kilt and suit coat, with a vivid-green tie! What drew me to like him most was his involvement in and attitude toward music. I was raised with vocal and instrumental music of all sorts since birth. I played the flute from fourth grade on and switched to bassoon in high school and the early years of college.

He plays the bassoon and his wife plays the flute in a group called the RTO (aka the "Really Terrible Orchestra")!! He shared that he doubts whether he should say that he can really play the bassoon at all, because he has some trouble with any of the high notes (above D, lol). He tells of how he thought about redesigning the instrument, to help him achieve more success. He mentioned trying to play without the top piece on, to which I could relate. I had done the same back in 1982 when travelling on the road and needing to practice an intro of five mellow, stirring, notes for a solo(some of them high notes) for our school's chamber orchestra competition. In order to practice and break in the new reed I'd just bought, I had to play in the car on the two hour road trip, and I had to remove the top of the bassoon to fit in the old station wagon! It's probably only funny if you'd been there, or have ever wanted to make such adjustments "on the fly" in order to accomplish a goal :-).

I purchased book number six, In The Company of Cheerful Ladies, the American edition was just launched yesterday, in fact. I also bought the three Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series for my husband, but I intend to read them first! Now that I know the author's voice, I will hear him when I read them.

One final note, for any who are wondering, is that he is not the reader on the audio versions of his books. A woman reads The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Mr. Smith doesn't like to listen to any of the audio books completely, although he highly approves of the readers of his audio books. He just doesn't want their voice to somehow mess with the "voice" or the "lack thereof" that he himself writes with as he puts the stories on paper. I thought that was an interesting detail to note. I can understand how that could happen.

If any of you have a chance to hear this author, or go to a booksigning, I highly recommend that you make the effort, as it is truly worth it!

19 April, 2005

Papyrus Scraps Being Decoded

Did anyone see this news on Monday? I received it an e-mail from The Schaeffer Study Center, and decided to check into it further.

The Independent Online carried the story and I'll include a snip of it here:

Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world

Scientists begin to unlock the secrets of papyrus scraps bearing long-lost words by the literary giants of Greece and Rome

"In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament."

Very, very interesting. They say it may lead to another Renaissance, and change some of what we know about ancient history. And what of the lost Christian gospels? Are these older copies of what we already have, or are they going to be "passed off" as some new information which may or may not match the four gospels we have to date?
Hmmm, I shall wait to comment further for now...

15 April, 2005

~Whistle While You Work~

This is hubby whistling, while he is about to give me a hand making Spanakopeta (Greek Spinach Pie). With the leaves of phyllo dough, one needs an extra pair of hands; buttering, layering, buttering, layering, and so on...without tearing the layers too much! I think Spanakopita is my favorite food in the world.

14 April, 2005

Hubster passed his comp exams!

We are doing the happy dance in our home this week. After a decade of on-again, off-again schooling, dear hubby will be graduating with his Masters in English next month! He would like to get a Doctorate, but he has been advised that he'd have to be a fulltime student to do so. Now, he could do that, if the school where he teaches (and has been for the last fifteen years) reaches their endowment goal. The plan after that is to allow the older teachers a sabbatical year off, which would help make that doctorate a possibility in the future...maybe.

--Cheers and celebratory yelps coming from the children--

09 April, 2005

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

Spring is in full swing, here. The trees are all filled with new, bright-green leaves, and the Indian Paintbrush and Blue-eyed grass are blooming, as well! When our oldest kids were very little, we used to pick the clumps of Blue-eyed grass to put in a small vase for their Daddy, and we called them "Daddy's Flowers," since his birthday is in April, when they come out in force.

a poem (among others on the site) with a natural theme

On the grassy hills grows a wildflower
Breathing in the sun like heavy air
Free to dance with the wind every hour
And the bees and neighbors without care

She came from the sky, as all wildflowers
Falling into a comforable place
Devouring the succulent season's powers
Proud perennials pale in light of her delicate face

Sweet is the rose, but shows her teeth
A rose, prisoner of her own lovely thrill
Groomed and prepared to perform a loving feat
While wildflower dreams of ecstasy on next year's hill

Wildflower captured a heart on Spring
But the season's change carried her away
The wind blew, she set free, it seemed the natural thing
Yet she dreams of deeper roots, some day, giving her cause to stay

-- S. Shelton

06 April, 2005

Vintage Scrapbook Restoration

I've put this off long enough.

One of my ongoing projects is the restoration of my Dad's 60-year-old scrapbook from his FFA project which chronicles his high school experiences. This is an incredible collection of photos, articles, newsletters to which Dad contributed, scads and wads of ribbons of all colors, and even his first official sermon he ever preached! It's called "Roll Out The Barrel!"I haven't worked on this for over a year. It was a tough year last year, while I was sidelined after hand surgery.

The restoration of this work has presented a couple of challenges. One is how to remount the pages of ribbons in such a way that the pages won't collapse around them. I'm going to build in some stubs and mats to those pages. The other problem is the need to add more to the cover boards where the posts reside. The old ones had completely come loose from the whole book. I want to keep the original cover, because it is so unique, so had to come up with a way to connect more board area to the side. The cover is one of my favorite elements of the scrapbook, and was even when I was a child, and so I went to the trouble of restoring it to close to its original beauty, filling in chips and holes, stablizing the corners with Japanese tissue, and color matching it.I'm getting back to this project very soon, as I finish up orders for hand-cut and hand-bound journals I committed to making at the end of last month.

04 April, 2005

Protected in Iraq

Once again, the Lord's hand of protection was on my nephew and his group on a mission in Iraq. While out searching for IED's last week, an insurgent tried to blow them up. Thanks to some Israeli technology, the IED was continuously jammed, and they were able to get outta there to safety, and then detonate the IED themselves. Keep up the prayers for their safety!

03 April, 2005

Dream jobs

Home made mandolins

Today's sermon at church began with the phrase "What would your dream job be?" A local hs dad (on our church's drama team) made a tape of many of our church members answering this question, young and old alike. It ranged from ideas such as "being an archeologist and getting paid handsomely for it," "being on the mission field" to "being a princess."

Above, you'll see pictures of what my hubby loves to do in his free time, rather a scarce commodity. His dream job is being a luthier. He loves being a teacher, but lutherie uses a different part of the brain, and can be done in relative silence.

That's the way it is for me and bookbinding. My dream job, after motherhood, is to be a book conservator/restoration"ist" and bookbinder. It is a little scarey sometimes, knowing that pasting or gluing something a little off will mess up a job, or some other such mistake. One can't be fainthearted! You have to know when a lot of "pressing" is good and when too much pressure is a bad thing that can ruin the structure of a book or cloth. Aye!!!

Maybe I'll remember it all...

In the meantime, it is still fun to be able to at least work toward the dream...not for the money, but for the satisfaction and of a new skill learned or mistake(s) corrected.

I don't know how much I held my breath today getting the text block of my Elder Poets vintage book "problem child" back in its case. It is a problem child in part because it is a "quarto" so the print of this gorgeous book is going in the wrong grain direction. Argh. I will be much more careful of just such a problem before I buy it in the future. I don't mind spending $10 or less on such a problem book, that I plan to use in our homeschool or read for myself, or give as a gift. I spent good money on this one several years back, before I knew any better.

My second dream job is to be a happy grandma someday.

What is your dream job?

01 April, 2005

#2 Heart-Stopping Moment

The worst, heart-stopping moment of our camping trip was when our youngest son fell into the campfire.

The second worst was watching our oldest son slide a-la "Legolas-on-the stairs-at-Helms-Deep" down the large hillside. He was climbing with his buddy, Brian, while we and Brian's parents looked on from our canoes. I happened to turn and look at the boys, just as "AnselAdams" came sailing down the steep, tree-covered slope, flipping toward the end. He landed in such a way that a small stick poked him in his nostril. After a good dusting-off, he was basically fine, nothing broken. Yes, boys are adventurers and explorers!

Here are the boys a little later, relaxing with their camp guitars. Ds "Ansel" is on the right.

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