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Archive for March 2007

Poems, sections 29-32

March 31st, 2007 — 8:54am

29 – The Tournament; The Wind and the Moon
30 – Jesus the Carpenter; Letty’s Globe; A Dream; Heaven is not Reached at a Single Bound
31 – The Battle of Blenheim
32 – Fidelity; The Chambered Nautilus

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End of the Middle Ages!

March 29th, 2007 — 8:21pm

This morning, while Henry was at his Bayshore classes, I recorded the last three chapters of The Story of the Middle Ages! I got them all edited and proofed, and then Anna gave them a final listen, and I got the whole thing completed and cataloged:

The Story of the Middle Ages, by Samuel B. Harding

So if you’re looking for a good free children’s history audio book, there you go :) You can read along with the text at The Baldwin Project, or purchase from them a lovely and inexpensive reprint (with the original illustrations) if you prefer real paper books. I certainly do.

Here’s a sample:
Chapter 8: Charlemagne

I really enjoyed this book. Hope you like it too!

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too noisy

March 28th, 2007 — 10:19pm

Brooke and Adam came to play today, so I got some housework done. I’ve only got three more chapters of The Story of the Middle Ages to record, and I tried twice today to record the next chapter (after the kids went home, before karate, while Henry was sitting quietly doing some math) but the house erupted in a great noise explosion both times so I only got a few minutes recorded. I planned to finish that chapter tonight after Henry was tucked in, but there was loud piano music going on until nearly ten and now I’m far too tired. But there are still three more days of March so I might still get it done for LibriVox’s March Madness event! I will certainly try. We’ve cataloged 52 new works so far this month, beating our old record of 38. We might make it to 60!

Henry traded in two old DS games he didn’t need anymore and bought a used copy of Nintendogs. He’s really enjoying it. Looks like one I might need to try, too :)

Oh! Sound Studio tech support finally sent me a link to version 3.0.5 — the version that does everything I need it to do without crashing. So now I can record, filter, and edit without running two separate copies of the program.

2 comments » | Blog

Rockola, Sound Studio Stupidity, and Mops

March 25th, 2007 — 4:56pm

Last night Rockola played their George Harrison birthday show! I went for the first show (7-9) and it was wonderful, just wonderful. Dan went too, to tech both shows, but we took separate cars so I could go home after the first show and not stay out far too late and mess up my sleep for the next two weeks. We got there nice and early, and I knitted most of Henry’s sock before the show started.

Today I recorded chapter 11 of The Story of the Middle Ages. My audio software, Sound Studio, is driving me nuts. The latest version, 3.5, has a bug which renders the 10-band EQ useless – the program crashes whenever you try to EQ a file. Awesome. I’ve been talking to Tech Support about it for a week, but so far they’re unable to fix it. I’m not the only one, either — a few other people have posted this problem on the Sound Studio forum. This drives me CRAZY. It’s not like I’m asking the program to do something esoteric and unusual — I’m simply trying to use a built-in filter. And it worked just fine in the last version of the program. *GNASHES TEETH* Luckily, I didn’t update the software on my other computer, but have a version there that’s two releases old and missing some useful recording features BUT has a working EQ filter. So I record my audio in the new version, use the old version to EQ it, then finish the editing in the new version. So efficient.

Also vacuumed and mopped the main level of the house. I forgot to mention that I replaced the World’s Most Useless Mop with a new twisty mop from Target which works beautifully. So exciting, isn’t it!

5 comments » | Blog

Poems, sections 25-28

March 25th, 2007 — 10:31am

25 – To a Mouse; To a Mountain Daisy
26 – Barbara Frietchie
27 – Lochinvar
28 – Lord Ullin’s Daughter; The Charge of the Light Brigade

2 comments » | Audiobooks

Sarah the Whale

March 24th, 2007 — 3:32pm

Yesterday, suddenly, a phrase popped into my head:
“You can’t leave food within her reach…”
Where it came from, I don’t know, but there it was. It seemed familiar… an old song maybe? I turned it over and around and around in my mind, and pretty soon another bit floated over and joined it:
“Nor nursemaids, nor airedales, nor chocolate ice-cream sodas.”
And then I knew what it was! A Burl Ives song about a whale named Sarah! I think it was on a record we checked out from the library when I was 7 or so (that’s 30 years ago, folks). Haven’t heard it since. I googled those bits of text and found the complete lyrics:

In San Francisco town there lived a whale.
She ate porkchops by the pail;
By the pillbox, by the suitcase, by the bathtub, by the schooner.
Her name was Sarah, and she’s a peach,
But you can’t leave food within her reach;
Nor nursemaids, nor airedales,
Nor chocolate ice cream sodas.
She eats a lot, but when she smiles
You can see her teeth for miles and miles;
And her adenoids, and her spare ribs,
And things too fierce to mention.
So, what can you do in a case like that?
What can you do but sit on your hat;
Or your toothbrush, or your grandmother,
Or anything else that’s helpless.

If you want to know the tune, I will sing it for you. But only if I get a request to do so.

Here’s Sarah the Whale, sung by me

15 comments » | Blog


March 23rd, 2007 — 3:12pm

Sally took her Vita-Mix down to her boyfriend’s house today, which gave me the golden opportunity/excuse to buy myself a new blender :) After doing a ton of research online, I decided on the Waring PBB or MBB, whichever I could find locally. (I wanted to make Dan a margarita tonight and didn’t want to wait for Amazon to ship anything). They’re in the $120 range, but get great reviews and have a lovely retro look. Plus they have two speeds – low and high. I do not want a cheap-tastic plastic blender with 45 useless buttons. I want a solid sturdy glass/metal blender that will make fruit smoothies on weekday mornings and strawberry margaritas on weekend nights, both of which drinks require the ability to handle hunks of frozen fruit.

So I checked online to see which local stores might carry such a blender. No luck. Called Waring to ask if they knew who carried their blenders — they suggested Williams-Sonoma or Macy’s. Called both stores — no luck, but it didn’t really seem as if the customer service people had any clear idea of what they actually DID carry, so I decided to drive around and try my luck in the (gasp) mall.

No store there carried any Waring blenders of any description. No store carried ANY Kara-acceptable blenders. Finally I went to Target, thinking I’d just try ONE more store. Target had a $60 Oster in the same basic form as the Waring — a 1950s stainless-steel beehive shape and a single toggle switch – off, pulse, and on. And a glass blender jar! And the box boasted sturdy metal construction, etc. So I took a chance on it.

It makes a fine margarita, handling frozen berries with ease. The design of the lid leaves a lot to be desired, though. With an accidentally firm push, you can pop the center bit right out and into the whirling contents below.

I was considering returning it after the weekend and ordering the Waring from amazon but… I’ll probably just follow the path of least resistance and keep my Oster.

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Rat Patrol

March 21st, 2007 — 7:56pm

Henry and I drove down to San Diego to pick up a bookcase that a homeschooling family was selling for cheap. On the way he worked in his grammar book and we listened to a They Might Be Giants album called “They Got Lost” which I’d never heard before, though I know some of the songs from other albums. “Words Are Like” is lovely. We were admiring the solo in Rat Patrol, and I asked Henry if he knew how to make a guitar sound like that. He said, “It’s probably a vibrato bar, some distortion, very strong fingers, and maybe a little reverb.” I don’t know if that’s true, but it doesn’t matter — he knows the terminology and how to get started if he wants to replicate that sound. Neat.

In other rodent-based news, we were both sitting in the upstairs room that is known as The Sitting Room but is really more of a Project Room, when Karen the Cat started jumping around and acting all crazy. We watched her for a while, and pretty soon we noticed that she had caught a MOUSE and was batting it around, teasing it the way cats do. I let her keep it because I want to encourage her to rid our house of vermin. She played with it for an awful long time. I hope she finally ate it and didn’t leave it, or parts of it, under someone’s bed…

Here are the lyrics to “Words Are Like”:

Words are like
The middle class
A drinking glass
A mask

Words are like
A Spanish town
A wedding gown
A crown

Words are like
A happy dream
A racing team
A wooden beam
A seam

Words are like
A rusty nail
A minor scale
A snail

Words are like
A postcard stamp
A highway ramp
A cramp

Words are like
The taste of soap
A billy goat
A coat

Words are like
A teenage star
A prison guard
A faded scar
A car

It’s a demo with just acoustic guitar, a bit of simple percussion, and two voices in lovely harmony — Flansburgh and a woman, maybe the woman who sang “don’t cross the street in the middle…” I wonder if I can find tab for it. Henry and I could easily sing the harmony together.

1 comment » | Blog

Crocs and Brittany Birch needles

March 20th, 2007 — 7:48pm

Last week it got suddenly hot, summertime hot. I’d been wearing my heavy green Doc Martin boots all winter but yearning for something new, so one day I went to Sports Authority and bought a pair of green Crocs. Yeah, those uncomfortable-looking shoes that all the kids are wearing. I bought some for Henry a couple of months ago, on the recommendation of a karate mom whose kid has hot feet, like Henry. Henry loves his Crocs and actually WEARS them without resistance, which pleases me very much. I’m sick and tired of battling with him to keep his shoes on. (Plus, Henry’s shoes always become horribly smelly because he refuses to wear socks unless it’s really cold out, but his Crocs haven’t picked up any foot-stench at all. Which is a miracle.) Henry says that after a break-in period, his Crocs are super-comfy. And I thought they’d be cute with my handmade socks peeking through the holes on those not-so-warm days.
green crocs
I adore my Crocs. Far from being uncomfortable and plasticy-feeling, they’re softish without being super-squishy, and they’re very nice on the feet. My arch supports fit in them perfectly. They weigh so little that I barely even notice them, and that’s good ’cause I need all the help I can get not to get tired out. Plus, they’re cute :) Also, cheap at about $21.

Now, of course, it’s cold again, but my Crocs work well with all but my thickest wool socks and my feet are warm and comfy.

Today was Karate and then Bayshore. I watched the musical theater rehearsal (they’re doing a highly-abridged version of The Sound of Music, minus the Nazis and romance but with about 8 extra von Trapp children added — Henry plays “Franz von Trapp”, which is great ’cause he’ll get to sing most of the songs. :) Then I ran over to Yarning For You and browsed through the yarn, looking for nice sock yarn. I was perplexed to find that EVERYTHING they carry is self-striping. Bleah. I will stripe my own socks if I want stripes, thank you very much, and I rarely WANT stripes. I prefer cables and other textural interest, or stranding with two SOLID colors. There was some just luscious merino sock yarn, springy and soft, but all self-striping and in unattractive colors to boot. The lady understood my pain and dug around in the back of the store, and found me a couple of balls of plain red Jawoll sock yarn, the kind I like, with the extra nylon for toes and heels. But I decided I should maybe finish up Tubey and Dan’s 2112 hat and Henry’s second pair of 2-day socks before I start something else, so I asked her to try not to sell the red sock yarn until I come back for it :) While I was there I bought 3 sets of my adored Brittany Birch DPs, sizes 0, 1, and 2. I got the little short 5″ ones, as I’ve heard they are wonderful for socks. I’ll start another pair of 2-day socks for Henry tonight on them :) :) :)

After Bayshore, we brought Henry’s friends Adam and Brooke home with us, and they played happily all the rest of the day till I took them home at 6:30. Great kids, plus they live very very close! We plan to get together again soon. Adam just turned 12, and Brooke is 10-going-on-11, so Henry, at 11 1/2, is right in the middle.

5 comments » | Blog

Poems, sections 12-24

March 20th, 2007 — 5:20pm

12 – The Butterfly and the Bee; An Incident of the French Camp; Robert of Lincoln
13 – Old Grimes; Song of Life; Fairy Song
14 – A Boy’s Song; Buttercups and Daisies; The Rainbow; Old Ironsides
15 – Little Orphant Annie; O Captain My Captain
16 – Ingratitude; The Ivy Green; The Noble Nature; The Flying Squirrel
17 – Warren’s Address; The Song in Camp; The Bugle Song
18 – The Three Bells of Glasgow; Sheridan’s Ride
19 – The Sandpiper; Lady Clare
20 – The Lord of Burleigh
21 – Hiawatha’s Childhood
22 – I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud; John Barelycorn; A Life on the Ocean Wave
23 – The Death of the Old Year; Abou Ben Adhem
24 – A Farm-Yard Song

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March 16th, 2007 — 11:49am

I just have to give another plug for one of my favorite utilities for OS X: GrandPerspective

I Just noticed that I had one gig of hard drive space left on my laptop. ONE! So I ran GrandPerspective. It gives you a graphical representation of all the files on your drive so you can spot the huge ones, mouse over them to see what and where they are, and delete the useless ones. And now I have 32 gigs free :) (I tend to forget to delete uncompressed audio and downloads that have been moved to another machine.)

1 comment » | Blog, Tech

On Reading Aloud

March 15th, 2007 — 7:13pm

A brand-new LibriVox volunteer, Kate, posted a link to her beautiful essay:
On Reading Aloud
Her words ring so true.

Some people think that when children are doing other things while they are being read to, it means they are not listening. That is false. What they hear is made complete by what they do with their bodies while they listen. The problem with making children read to themselves and silently is that it requires them to sit still, which is not natural to them. They might choose not do it at all as the stillness of it is too hard for many of them to bear.

Yes! Yes! When he was small, Henry would literally orbit the room while I read to him. Now that he’s eleven, he’ll usually sit still to listen but likes to have a “fiddly toy” in his hands. I was the same — when Dad read to us every night, I’d work on an embroidery project or a latch-hook kit, or just smush a wad of silly-putty. Even now I prefer to knit while listening to audiobooks. Somehow I can concentrate on the story better if my fingers are moving and part of my mind is lightly occupied (knit 3, purl 1…)

Even to ourselves, as adults, we ought to read aloud. We make our tongues conform to another’s pattern of language, and that frees us from our own, and improves our own language. We have this gift of the English language and what is written in it. To apprehend it best, we ought use all the senses we have available, as more than sight can be involved.

Yes! As a volunteer for LibriVox, I’ve dipped into some wonderful literature, previously unknown to me, reading a chapter of this, a chapter of that, always aloud. I think it would be more difficult to enjoy such random samples if I were reading silently. Reading aloud throws me right into the thick of things. And when I re-read an old favorite aloud, I discover beautiful bits that I never noticed before because I am, I admit, a fast reader who glides through a book without noticing every nuance.

Thanks, Kate, for sharing your thoughts on this subject :)

5 comments » | Blog

Innocent Blood

March 14th, 2007 — 9:06am

I went to the library yesterday and found a new-to-me P.D. James book, Innocent Blood. I can’t put it down. Just finished chapter 14 while filling the sink with dishwater, and I suppose it’s not going to be possible to wash the dishes while reading, so I’ll have to stop for a bit. P.D. James is a master. Highly recommended if you enjoy the British crime/mystery/suspense genre.

Edit: finished it :)

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March 13th, 2007 — 10:45am

Ok, so here’s the beginning of my “Tubey” sweater!



It took a long time to get the top shrug part right. My arms are so skinny that making the shrug the width of my upper arm measurement didn’t work, and I had to rip the whole thing out and add a lot more width, but I think it’s finally fitting ok. I knitted a couple of inches of each sleeve and wore it around for a while, and it’s not too tight under the arms anymore. So I picked up stitches all around and have started knitting the body tube, as you can see in the pictures.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, in a rusty-orangey-reddish-brown color.

Also these photos show my cute hair!

7 comments » | Blog, Handmade

blogs and games and things

March 11th, 2007 — 7:52pm

Henry and I got too worn-out yesterday at the civil war, I guess, ’cause we both felt a little bit worse again today. But it was a nice day, warm and sunny, so we opened up all the doors and windows and the house filled up with fresh air. I played Zelda for a while, and then Henry played for the rest of the day, and got all the bomb bag upgrades and quiver upgrades and bottles and things. Henry also worked on learning Flash, a bit, and I upgraded my wordpress installation (finally) and added another year and a half of old blog pages to the new archive. Click the archive link on the right and you can see for yourself! I’m all the way up through 2002. I discovered that Smultron will strip out tabs and line endings, which made the whole process of pasting old entries into new posts much much easier.

Dan found a great and highly addictive game: which I played for a long time today, and I’ve also been playing a lot at My current favorite is Counterfeit. Great site!

Oh, I forgot to mention — last night we watched last Tuesday’s episode of House, and it was a good one, the one where everyone thinks House has brain cancer.

4 comments » | Blog

How nerdy are you?

March 10th, 2007 — 8:26pm

I am nerdier than 93% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

8 comments » | Blog, Tech

Civil War

March 10th, 2007 — 5:40pm

Henry and I went to a Civil War reenactment today! It was really great. We watched two battles and looked at all kinds of things. Here’s a website:

I took a million pictures but I’m too tired to dump them out of my camera.

1 comment » | Blog, Homeschooling

Feeling a bit better!

March 9th, 2007 — 5:33pm

I had another sort of bad night last night, but woke up feeling more like myself. Went to my hair appointment at 11, and my wonderful stylist, Esmerelda, gave me the BEST HAIRCUT EVER!!! Then came home and rested, then drove to SD to get Henry, then came home and rested some more.

2 comments » | Blog


March 8th, 2007 — 3:22pm

Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze.

I’ve just discovered a very handy little utility for OS X: Paparazzi. It takes screenshots of entire webpages. I found it because one of our LibriVox admins was having trouble accessing a very lengthy password-protected page of cataloging instructions. She double-checked the password, rebooted, cleared the cache and cookies, etc. but the darn thing just wouldn’t let her in. So I googled “full page screenshot OS X” and the very first result led me to Paparazzi. Downloaded, installed, ran, took the screenshot, emailed it to the LibriVoxer. The entire process, from from deciding to try to find a webpage screenshot utility to making a post telling her to check her email, took four minutes. FOUR MINUTES! I love the interweb.

5 comments » | Blog, Tech

March Madness

March 7th, 2007 — 8:12pm

Still under the weather: runny nose, cough, etc. But it’s not too bad. The little girl next door is slightly sick, too, and stayed home from school today. She and Henry played together for HOURS while I did LibriVox work. We had a new collaborative recording of The Autobiography of Mother Jones recorded, proofed, and edited, ready to catalog. The ID3 tags were a disaster, so I downloaded all 27 files to my macbook and fixed the tags in iTunes while spot checking sound quality and making sure all files had a proper beginning and ending. I knew nothing about the book but listening to bits and pieces here and there got me interested, and I’ll probably listen to the whole thing soon. That makes four books I’ve cataloged in three days! Our March Madness Jamboree, an attempt to get some older projects finished up to make room for new ones, is a roaring success — we’ve cataloged about ten new books in the last week. You can subscribe to our New Releases feed and enjoy the madness!

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