Monday, March 16, 2009

Aleah and Emily Stories

I used to tell the girls stories every night. Now they get one once and a while, but its hard to fit in with the three or four books Aleah picks, a picture book or two for Colleen, and a chapter book for Emily.

Rich asked me a long time ago to send him some of the stories that I tell them, and I have finally got around to putting some of them on paper.


Itsy Bitsy Emily was new to the neighborhood. She lives with frog near the mouse's hole. There are swallows in the morning chirping the morning news as they dip and dive. The beetles burrow busily. Garter snakes in the grass, rats, dogs, cats, and raccoons seem like distant threats spoken in whispers but the danger never felt, except to Mama mouse. Her husband had been out on a long explore and not return and she felt the potential for danger like a knife in her bosom.

There was a puddle beneath the downspout with a large chunk of cement where Frog and Emily lived. Flowers grew in the weeds arond the puddle. The frogs, toads, and lizards called, hissed, grumped, and lived in friendly competition around the small pond.

Everything should have been full of joy and discovery for Emily, but she was lonely and sad. No one knew quite what she was and Mama mouse wouldn't let her many children out of the hole until she was sure that Emily was not a threat. She was sure that mice would be more fun to play with and talk to than salamanders that loved to lay in the warm mud when the sun was high.

After moping about for a few days, Frog said, "enough, we need a party!" Emily nodded and Frog continued, "Yes, that is just the thing, a proper party with fried minnows, fly soup, roast grasshopper, and mosquito tea. We'll invite everyone in the neighborhood!"

Ohh, thought Emily. She wasn't picky in her own way, but Frog food always seemed to maker her feel green. She liked seeds, nuts, fruits, and nectar. She thought minnows were fine, but any soup with wings floating in it was blecch. The sparrows were proud to say that she ate more like a bird than anything else. The swallows disagreed, but hey, they liked bugs.

"Let's make seed cakes, with monkey button squares, and lemonade to drink too." Emily added. She was starting to be excited.

"Alas," said Frog,"We don't have any lemons or enough sugar for lemonade."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Argentina and Brazil take two

I wrote the text to this at home and then got distracted and forgot to actually press one of the buttons to save it. I hate it when I do stuff like that.

From Feb 2009
The Argentine Capital Building

Argentina makes me tired. Every year since I started at my job I have went to see the popcorn production fields and experiments in Argentina and Brazil. It is a fast paced 10-14 days filled with long flights, popcorn, and good food. The flight takes all night and I do sleep on the plane, but it's like sleeping on the couch with a newborn infant. Sleeping is interrupted constantly and there is a lot of shifting, uncomfortable positions, holding my eyes closed waiting to fall back asleep, and dreaming about holding my eyes closed waiting to fall back asleep. Sometimes I wake up to realize that the night is over, but I am not sure if I actually slept or just held really still with my eyes closed. I am pretty sure that I slept the whole time, it just doesn't feel like it.

When we get there we always head directly for the fields. After lunch, and bouts of driving, we walk through the fields until it is dark. Then we eat wonderful steak dinners or barbecued lamb until midnight. The next day starts early, we drive, we look at popcorn, we drive, we eat steak, we drive, eat, drive, eat some more, and then get to the hotel at midnight. I usually see nothing of Argentina but the popcorn fields and steak houses.

It is a great country for good eating. Lots of times we are in a hurry driving between fields and stop at gas stations to eat. Usually a waiter with a towel over one arm brings us the menu and we get steak, salad, rolls, and dessert. One time I got lasagna with homemade pasta, olives, proscuitto, italian sausage, and layers of cheese and fresh tomato sauce. At a gas station!

The landscape looks a lot like Illinois. There are rolling hills covered with fields of soybeans and corn. Sometimes there are farm houses surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees and manicured lawns. Other times there are unplowed fields of pampas grass and cattle.

From Feb 2009

This year, we had the weekend free in Buenos Aires. We stayed at Feir's Park hotel, which is right downtown, near Recoleta, the shopping district, and the wharf. There is a large park with huge flowering trees and street performers.

I took the subway one day until I was completely lost and came out blinking in the sun in a strange part of town. I wandered for most of the day. I felt so lost I bought a map and found out I was a mile or two from the hotel, but in the process saw the casa rosada - like the white house in Argentina, the capital building, wandered through two streets lined entirely with small jewelry shops, bought some tango music at a sheet music publishing shop, looked through used book stores, ate a steak sandwich, drew pictures in the park, and then finally came back to the hotel.

From Feb 2009

From Feb 2009

From Feb 2009 part two

From Feb 2009 part two