Wednesday, January 16, 2008

PoohSticks and PoohLessons

I had a very thought provoking chat with a friend yesterday about the Pooh books by A. A. Milne. If you haven't read them - specifically Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner - hie thee hence to the nearest bookstore, purchase and read them posthaste! Anyway, my friend professed that she really didn't think she understood the Pooh books. My initial thought was "oh my, how could anyone say that??" which slipped quickly into "oh, my - how do I understand Pooh??!? I have very specific ideas regarding Pooh, but I don't think I ever tried to articulate them in any coherent way. I've READ essays and articles that made me say, "Yes, indeedy! That is it exactly!" but my own cohesive thoughts were still unformed. So I will give it a go here, with the full confession that these ideas are most likely not original to me. Many deeper and more thoughtful minds wrote things that struck a chord, and helped me define what it is that makes Pooh so special.

Pooh just IS. Pooh, along with other books I read as a child, made me what I am today - a book lover with a deep appreciation of good literature. It's simplicity and beauty and childlike wonder prepared me for a world of filled with works of authors like Tolkien, Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. Pooh - and his bookshelf companions like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, Kenneth Grahame, E. B. White and Laura Ingalls Wilder - were the building blocks for my literary education. I surely didn't realize it at the time... but does any child really understand when her mind is being prepared for things to come?

It wasn't until after college (long after college) that a similar conversation about children's books made me realize how important Pooh and his friends were as part of my introduction to literature. The silliness and wonder of Pooh prepares us for an introduction to the more profound writings we encounter as we grow older. Those who read Pooh and all those bookshelf buddies become was saturated in myth, fable, and Story (a la Tolkien). These early forays into literature prepare the mind for the great books that come later, and give the reader a deeper appreciation of the stories within.

So, Pooh. Haven't read it? Do!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What can (we) do for (Brown)?

We bought a house this summer, as many of my faithful readers know (both of you!). 8-) We called the place "BROWN: Jewel of the Seventies." I would like to share a couple of pictures to emphasize the point, or at least to prove the name.
This is our kitchen "before". Note the BROWN cabinets. Note the floor, which we designated as "psychadelic cabbage" green. (Did I mention this house was built in 1973?)

And next to it is "after." Did I mention that it's really nice to have relatives who are cabinetmakers? And a spouse who likes to do home repair along with his Aristotle musings?

Other interesting aspects of the house included a guest room and bathroom covered in (brown) exterior redwood siding. And the main bathroom has (yes, brown) paneling with pheasants on it along with an avacado green tub and toilet. Zoinkies! I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. (Along with our effort at taming the seventies!)

And....dark brown paneling on the walls in all the hallways. Brownish-gold paint in the study. Brown exterior. Brown roof. Brown grass. (OK, that can't be helped. We're in a drought!) The halls are still brown - it is terribly difficult to prime and paint old rough paneling, and even harder (and more costly) to rip out and install drywall. The study is now a bright white. The roof has new shingles (reddish brown, maybe? The color was called "desert tan," I think) And this spring we are repainting the exterior a light tan with brick red shutters and doors. It will go well with the stonework that covers the lower third of the exterior.
Slowly but surely, we are persevering in eradicating all vestiges of seventies decor from the house, and - if I do say so myself - the house would thank us if it only could talk!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What I did on my Christmas Vacation.

A report by Zana.

Yes, indeedy, I do feel like an elementary school student now! 8-)

It's amazing - for the first time ever I work at a place that gives all its employees a paid week off between Christmas and New Year's. I didn't have to use my precious vacation days, nor any personal time. Wow. And, just for the record, I work at a state-run institution of higher education. So that in and of itself was a novelty for me. Yay! What did I do with my copious amounts of free time, you ask? I had visits from friends - one here and one here - which were absolutely delightful. Since our relocation this summer, I have yet to forge any new friendships (lots of colleagues and acquaintances, though) so it was WONDERFUL to spend some time with dear friends from far away. Just try to picture this - a librarian, a biologist and a philosopher staying up until one in the morning on New Year's Eve playing Lord of the Rings Risk, with one of the players on a major sugar high. Talk about a HOOT!!!!! {{{{grin}}}}

We also went to Florida and spent some time with the in-laws, and then (at various points during the day) my family came to our house for Christmas. I also spent some quality time as a football-loving couch potato, watching the FSU/Kentucky game (sad but glad they did as well as they did); Auburn/Clemson (happy - what a game!); Florida/Michigan (sad); Alabama/Colorado (sad) and West Virginia/Oklahoma (happy and surprised!)

Now I'm back to the regular schedule, and life is back to normal. Isn't it funny that you spend so much time anticipating and preparing for the holidays, only to look about in surprise when the days have passed by so quickly?