Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I will be away from my blog for a few days. See you when I get back!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And the Award Goes to...

My friend Writer2B from Findings gave me an award! It's called Arte y Pico and comes from this blog. I can't read most of the Arte y Pico blog, since it's in Spanish, but here's the author's definition of "Arte y Pico": "What is the meaning of the expression: And basically, ironically, it translates into a wonderful phrase in Mexico, 'lo maximo.' LOL! It will never find its counterpart in English, but if it HAD to, it would be something like, Wow. The Best Art. Over the top." LOL indeed to that description applied to me, but thanks!

The rules are as follows:

1) Select 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award, based on creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogger community. The blogs can be in any language.

2) Post a link to each blog so that others can visit.

3) Each award-winner has to show the award and link to the blogger that awarded it.

4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show a link to Arte y Pico.

Thank you for this honor - but now I have to honor five other blogs! The problem is not finding five blogs, but narrowing down my choices to five. To make things easier, I immediately decided that I can't choose any relatives, because, well, it just wouldn't be fair. But I think you're all artists and I read your blogs every day.

I also decided I won't choose blogs that get hundreds of comments for every post. For example, I think that Angie from Bring the Rain is an artist, turning the terrible sorrow of her daughter's stillbirth and the death from SIDS of her little nephew into art through words, pictures, and music, but so many hundreds of people respond to her that she might not even see my comment.

So here goes, some folks whose blogs I consider works of art, and I hope they feel honored. And they don't have to feel obligated to put the angel in the evening dress on their blogs.

1. Tara is almost disqualified by her many, many readers, but not quite, I guess. Tara's blog is one of the first I started reading regularly. It is illustrated by her husband's beautiful photography and it tells stories of her family's life in Haiti where they work as missionaries. Tara is so honest, talking openly about doubts and fears and how difficult it can be to deal with a place where things don't seem to get better very fast, or, sometimes, at all. Here's her blog.

2. I like to read teacher blogs, and especially blogs of writing teachers. This one is an inspiration. Stacey and Ruth are young teachers who are constantly trying new things, looking for ways to help their students love writing, and, most impressive of all, writing every day in their notebooks. This is something I aspire to, but it just doesn't seem to happen. Stacey and Ruth illustrate how being writers themselves helps them teach writing.

3. Here's someone else who writes every day, and what a poet she is! Although we have different belief systems, I love what Tiel Aisha Ansari writes. Read this sestina about the California wildfires, for example, or this sonnet about a Tetris nightmare. So often her work takes my breath away. Her blog is called Knocking from Inside.

4. I could choose many of the Daily Photo blogs to award, but I'm going to go with my long-time favorite, from Sharon, Connecticut. I posted here about how Jenny's photos have often served as a borrowed view for me. She doesn't post every day any more, but her photos are worth waiting for. Check out other Daily Photo blogs here.

5. Jessica is an artist and a stay-at-home mom. She hasn't been blogging long but so far she's written some wonderful posts. Read this one to see how she is making art with her life. Her blog is called One Wild and Precious Life, a quote from this poem by Mary Oliver about paying attention.

Happy 200th Post, Amy!

Experience Imagination

Amy from Experience Imagination is celebrating her 200th post by asking readers to link to their favorite post from her blog.

I really liked this one, where Amy painted a word picture of how God stands by us and encourages us through our trials. And here she asks a question about comment etiquette - how do you guys deal with this issue?

Off to leave a comment on Amy's blog to tell her I entered her contest!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poetry Friday - Fold Me a Poem

Among the many books brought home by my children from the library was this one, Fold Me a Poem, by Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Lauren Stringer. We have all been enjoying reading it.

On each brightly-colored page we watch a little boy making origami animals and read wonderful, quirky poems about the fun he is having.


At one end
of the table,
the rabbits.

At the other end,
the foxes.

I don't


Behave yourself.

You are
made of

At the end of the book there is a list of resources for learning how to make these animals yourself. You can also check out the websites of the author and illustrator, Kristine George and Lauren Stringer.

The roundup is at A Year of Reading today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Drinking Tea

from The English American, by Alison Larkin

We sit down...while Billie makes us all a cup of tea. The American way. Which means she sticks three coffee mugs half full of water in the microwave for thirty seconds. Then she dunks the same Lipton tea bag in all three mugs until a nasty brown swirl appears. Then she adds a squidge of lemon and tells us to "come and get it."

If you are English, you will know how I feel about this. If you are not English, let me take this opportunity to tell you how to make a drinkable cup of tea.

First, you warm a teapot. Then you put in tea leaves - Earl Grey, Lapsang, or Darjeeling, ideally. One teaspoon for each person, and one for the pot. Then you pour in water that has been boiled. In a kettle. After waiting a few minutes for the tea to brew you pour a little milk into the bottom of a teacup. Then, using a tea strainer, you pour in the tea. Then, if you take sugar, you add sugar. Then you drink it.

If you are English and have the misfortune to find yourself drinking tea with an American who has made it incorrectly, you do not give any indication that the tea is anything other than delicious. Instead you say something like what I say to Billie, which is, "Thank you. How lovely. Do you by any chance have any milk?"

When your American watches you pour in the milk and declares that next time she'll put the milk, the sugar, and the tea in the teapot all at the same time, because it'll be so much quicker that way, you do not flinch. Instead you smile, politely, and pretend to drink the mug of tea in front of you. You can't of course, because apart from everything else, the lemon has made the milk curdle. So you pour it down the sink when no one's looking.

Amen, sister!

I am not quite as picky as this character. I do drink my tea out of a mug. (But not a styrofoam cup!) I also tolerate tea bags, but please, it needs to be actual tea. Not something made out of grass or fruit or some such thing. Tea.

Carnival Time

Here's this week's Carnival of Education.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bird Day

Almost every day I read the psalms for the day from the Psalter in the Book of Common Prayer. That means that on the 20th of every month I read Psalms 102 through 104 (I usually read the morning and evening Psalms all at once in the evening, since mornings are not a good time for me to concentrate on anything). I have started thinking of the 20th as Bird Day, because look at all the bird references in these Psalms:

Psalm 102:6-7 "I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake and groan; I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top."

Psalm 103:5 "He satisfies you with good things, and your youth is renewed like an eagle's."

Psalm 104:12 "Beside them the birds of the air make their nests and sing among the branches."

Psalm 104:17-18 "The trees of the LORD are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which he planted, in which the birds build their nests, and in whose tops the stork makes his dwelling."

I don't know that there is any profound meaning in the timing of this monthly bird-fest but it makes me smile every time. I love the range of emotions in these verses and that we can bring all these things to God. And I know that His eye is on the sparrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Poetry Friday - Louisville Zoo

We went to the Louisville (KY) Zoo on Tuesday. I highly recommend going in the middle of the week because there was hardly anyone there when we first arrived. Later in the day more people came but it never got unpleasantly crowded.

We found most of the things we expected - lions, tigers, no bears because they are at another zoo right now. However, I found something I wasn't expecting: poems.

In the middle of the zoo there is a tiny cemetery. Here it is:

Some signs explain what it is (you can click on all these photos to enlarge them):

But there was a poem, too, written, I'm guessing, by a member of the family.

There was another poem, too, but I only got a picture of one part of it.

You can read the rest here.

And you can read other people's Poetry Friday posts at the roundup here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Why does anyone learn Esperanto? I've often wondered that myself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rowan Who?

I don't know if anybody else has this problem, but whenever I read something said by the Archbishop of Canterbury, I think of Mr. Bean. And, no disrespect intended, but I wonder, why did they make Mr. Bean the Archbishop of Canterbury? It just seems an odd choice. (Here you can watch how Mr. Bean behaves in church.) So, in case I am not alone in this:

This is Rowan WILLIAMS:

and this is Rowan ATKINSON:

Clear now?

It was just me, wasn't it?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bookish Meme

I borrowed this one from my friend Writer2B.

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?

I don't remember a time when I didn't love reading, so I don't really remember developing that love. I learned to read when I was four, and I was asked to leave my first school because I could already read and they didn't know what to do with me. I know that our house was always filled with books and magazines and that, although we didn't have a lot of money, we always had new books all the time. I remember a used bookstore in Nairobi where we used to take our paperbacks and trade them for store credit and more books. Our parents bought us books about our interests. I had a book confiscated from me once when I was about eleven because I was reading it during French class (at boarding school). I even remember the book - it was this one:

When my parents came to school I cringed when I saw that teacher coming over to talk to them. I was sure I was going to be outed as a miscreant who read books in class, but all she said was, "I really appreciate parents who know how to give good books to their children." Now I try to be that kind of parent.

2. What are some books you read as a child?

The first book I read, according to family lore, was The Funny Little Book. I didn't realize until I Googled it just now that this book was written by Johnny Gruelle, of Raggedy Ann and Andy fame.

I loved the Narnia books from an early age, and I remember reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when I was seven years old. I'm pretty sure this is the first one of the series that I read. I went on to read them all many times, including one time through the whole series read aloud during family car trips. I had a wonderful second grade teacher who didn't make me work through the readers everyone else was doing - I could pick whatever I wanted. How glorious! All I had to do was read aloud to her every once in a while so that she would be sure I was making progress. That teacher read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator aloud to us that year, as well as, I think, some of the Paddington books. I know I read all the Danny Dunn books because I remember a teacher looking askance at this choice when I was in about fifth grade. Oh, there are too many to list. I read voraciously. I remember Saturday afternoons in the library at boarding school - completely unsupervised and completely happy.

3. What is your favorite genre?

Hmm, it's hard to say. I mostly read novels, and I like a pretty wide variety of those. I do enjoy anything with cross-cultural implications - from Henry James to Jhumpa Lahiri. I don't know that there's a name for that genre.

4. Do you have a favorite novel?

Again, it's so hard to pick just one. I have read many that I consider just about perfect. Some of them are The Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden, July's People, by Nadine Gordimer, A Room With a View, by E. M. Forster, Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, The Game, by A. S. Byatt, The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, and The Giver, by Lois Lowry. To name a few.

5. Where do you usually read?

I read in bed a lot these days, but I try to carry a book with me anytime I am likely to be waiting, so that I can use that time reading. I can read pretty much anywhere, including in a moving car, provided someone else is driving.

6. When do you usually read?

I always read before I go to sleep. Even when I was in graduate school and had an inhuman amount of have-to reading, I always had something I was reading for pleasure and I spend at least a few minutes on that before going to sleep. But I read any other time I can, too.

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?

Sometimes - it depends. I often have a professional book going at the same time as a novel.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?

No, not really.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?

Some of each. I am trying to buy fewer books. I have an addiction. Whenever we go over to someone's house I always search their shelves and ask to borrow books. I use libraries as much as possible.

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?

I'm trying to keep fewer books, just as I'm trying to buy fewer. If I don't think I will reread it, I try to pass it on. I still have an alarming amount of books. Sometimes I will donate them to the library I go to. If they are appropriate for my students I put them in my classroom library. I've always wanted to try that thing where you leave books in public places for others to take, but I haven't ever done it.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them? Were they some of the same ones you read as a child?

This is one of the great joys of having children. I've been able to read many, many of my favorites to them. They have some of the books I had as a child, which, when you consider how many times we moved, is pretty amazing. It has been fun sharing books like Mr. Shaw's Shipshape Shoe Shop and Cranberry Thanksgiving.

Since our kids are quite far apart in age, it has been hard to read aloud chapter books to both of them, until this past year. We have read all the Narnia books aloud, Wednesday Wars, and we're now on the fourth Harry Potter book. (Obviously not all of those are books I read as a child!)

12. What are you reading now?

Black Ships, by Jo Graham. Checked it out of the library. It's a novel about the Aeneid. I'm enjoying it so far.

13. Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list?

Yes and no. I have a Wish List at Amazon that kind of functions that way. If I read about a book that sounds interesting, I put it on the list. But often I just pick up something that catches my eye.

14. What’s next?

I have a stack from the library: The Wild Girls, by Pat Murphy, Going Going, by Naomi Shihab Nye, Mara's Stories, by Gary Schmidt, Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri, When We Were Saints, by Han Nolan, First Boy, by Gary Schmidt, and Due Preparations for the Plague, by Janette Turner Hospital. Some of these I'm checking out as possible read-alouds for my class, some I looked for, some just caught my eye. I love the library!

15. What books would you like to reread?

I reread all the ones I mentioned in number four. I reread the Narnia series every year or so. Others I have frequently reread are Dislocations by Janette Turner Hospital (a book of short stories which appears to be out of print and perhaps even unavailable) and Home Life, by Suzanne Fox, a book of essays about the idea of home and rooms - I don't know why but for some reason I just love this book. And of course I keep rereading the Bible. But you asked what I would LIKE to reread. Hmm. I don't know. Lots of books, I guess.

16. Who are your favorite authors?

Some of the ones I've already mentioned. I like most of A. S. Byatt's books, though they seem to be getting increasingly difficult and obscure. I love C. S. Lewis, Nadine Gordimer, Susan Howatch, Thomas Hardy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwige Danticat, Naomi Shihab Nye, Pablo Neruda, Billy Collins...there really are too many to list.

This meme was fun to do. Any compulsive readers out there, why don't you answer these questions, too? Let me know when you do!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stuff I Love in the U.S., Part 2

Emboldened by the huge response to my last post on this subject (OK, it wasn't a huge response, but three separate individuals commented!), I have decided to tell you some more things I love in the United States.

1. Libraries. A public library is an amazing thing. Books, magazines, movies, music, tax information, all kinds of information - all free. All available to anyone, no matter how much money they have, whether they are citizens or not, whether they are educated or not. Seriously, it makes me tear up just thinking about it.

2. Showers. Yeah, we have showers at home. But the ones here are hot, and have amazing pressure, and I don't have to worry that the water on the roof might run out. (Not that I waste water, of course. I couldn't bring myself to be that relaxed about it.) The water is also clean, so if I get some in my mouth I don't have to worry about that either.

3. Roads. The roads are way, way nicer in this country than they are where I live. They are smooth, well-maintained, nicely signposted. It is a pleasure to travel on them. Which brings me to another thing I like here...

4. Cheap gas. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Gas costs at least two dollars a gallon more where we live than it does here in the U.S.

5. Trees. The country where I live is very deforested, and while great efforts are being made to reverse this, it's still a huge problem. It never stops making me happy to look around and see trees everywhere.

Poetry Friday - Adelstrop

I heard this poem for the first time this week; it was read on the Classic Poetry Aloud podcast. I love the description of a place seen from a train, the stillness of a railway platform and the sounds of the countryside around. It's a beautiful snapshot of a moment that happened over 90 years ago - the poem was written in 1915 - and because Edward Thomas wrote it down, I can re-experience that moment today.

Yes. I remember Adelstrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adelstrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and around him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Edward Thomas

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


On Monday I read a couple of great posts on Stuff Christians Like. That guy blogs so much that the posts aren't even on the front page any more. Jon showed a before and after photo of a missionary's prayer card. He got some interesting discussion, too. Here's the first version and here's the improved version.

Here's this week's Education Carnival.

And here's a breaking news story you should know about:

Volatile India-Pakistan Standoff Enters 11,680th Day

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stuff I Love in the U.S.

1. Electricity. Except for a brief flicker during a thunderstorm, it's on all the time. All the time, I tell you! Seems excessive, doesn't it? Here's a conversation I had with my son:

Son: Mom, I want to watch a DVD.
Me: OK, we'll see, maybe later.
Son: But Mom, is the power on?
Me: Yes.
Son: Then I'd better watch it now, before it goes off!
Me: Well, in the United States the power doesn't go off, so you don't have to worry about that.
Son: WHAT?!

2. Restaurants. Where I live, there are good restaurants too, just not so MANY of them, and not so much variety of kinds of food. You know how some people have monthly or even weekly date nights? My husband and I try to go out without the kids at least once a year. So far we've had two dates since we've been in the States! Oh yes. This is the life!

3. Laundry. I posted about this two summers ago. All the things I said there about why I love doing laundry in this country still apply, with the addition that the washing machine we used to have at home hasn't worked in about a year, so now all our clothes get washed by hand. If washing by hand suggests gentle sudsing in Woolite, forget it. These clothes are scrubbed. I mean, they are CLEAN. And then they are hung on the line to become board-like. I don't understand why people complain about doing laundry here, since it is so easy and fun. I have to stop myself from doing laundry every day.

4. Exercise. It is easy and fun to exercise here. (See the easy and fun theme I'm developing?) At home I get up at 5:30 to walk, and if I do it much later there are loads of people on the street to look at me. Even at 5:30 there are people on the street but usually not too many. Here, there's hardly anyone out whatever time I walk, and if someone is out it's usually an exerciser like me. It isn't weird to exercise here. Not only that, but in this town there is a beautiful walking trail complete with baskets of flowers hung at intervals! What could be lovelier? Rarely (OK, never) is there a goat or a stray starving dog or a dead rat. Of course, exercise is more crucial here than at home (see #2).

I could go on, but I won't. I know full well that the fact that life seems easier here is in a large part because I'm on vacation and not immersed in my regular life and its problems, and that life is just as complex and stressful in this country, and in some ways more so. There are just different stressors. I also know that I love my regular life. Really, I do.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Philosophy from a T-shirt

"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."

I saw this on a T-shirt but it's from the movie A League of Their Own.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Midwives as Agents of Change

Here's an interesting article by the head of an aid organization called Merlin. She suggests that a priority for the G8 should be making childbirth safer for women around the world by providing training and logistical help to midwives. There are some very simple ways this can happen. My favorite excerpt: "In Sri Lanka we give midwives motorbikes. In DR Congo we give them canoes. In Afghanistan, we give them a donkey."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Glorious Fourth

Rain on a parade is a metaphor for disappointment, but in spite of the rainy weather we had a great morning celebrating the Fourth of July.

Today I have thought often of an episode of Speaking of Faith called Surviving the Religion of Mao. Here's a quote from the interview with Anchee Min (I really recommend reading the whole transcript):

Ms. Min: You asked me how I changed. I think coming to America plays a big part. If I were in China, I would die in confusion because this problem that's the mental knot. I couldn't unknot it, and I couldn't do anything about it. And I was too close, I didn't have a perspective, couldn't see. So coming to America, I think, what the moments that struck me was that, you know, my daughter was in the nursery school. First thing she was taught was love. And then she would, you know, come home and say, ‘Everybody's different, but everybody's perfect.’ Things like that. You know, it moves me.

And also the incredible moment I share with other immigrants and the day that we accepted as American citizens in the big hall in LA with 40,000 people, which is so ridiculous. You know, it was like we're all prepared, you know, different languages, struggle, try to get the English right. When the music comes on, "Oh, say" — we all couldn't finish the first sentence, just broke down crying. And we laugh, smiling and crying and looking at each other. We know what it's like to be American. It was to be allowed to be human, to be ourselves. You know, moments like this. And also, you don't want me to go on with all these, you know…

Ms. Tippett: No, it’s fine. Go on.

Ms. Min: …great things about I feel that I am more Chinese in America than I could feel if I was in China. You know, the moment I step on my motherland in China, my guard will be up. I talk differently, behave differently.

Ms. Tippett: So how can you be more Chinese here? Just because you can be yourself, and yourself is Chinese?

Ms. Min: Mm-hmm.

That's one of the things it means to me to be American. At its best, the United States is a country that takes in people from around the world and gives them the freedom to be who they are.

Happy Fourth! Here's hoping it clears up for the fireworks tonight!

Poetry Friday - July 4th

For today's celebration, let's join Gregory Djanikian for an "Immigrant Picnic."

It's the Fourth of July, the flags
are painting the town,
the plastic forks and knives
are laid out like a parade.

And I'm grilling. I've got my apron,
I've got potato salad, macaroni, relish,
I've got a hat shaped
like the state of Pennsylvania.

Things start out American enough - but soon the family is arguing over the use of language. But wait, what could be more American than that? Read the rest of the poem here.

I've only read a few poems by Djanikian but I have loved every one of them. Here's a link to some more of his work.

And here's a link to today's Poetry Friday roundup, at In Search of Giants.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

World's Happiest Country

A study comparing the happiness of countries around the world done by the National Science Foundation has come to a different conclusion from the Happy Planet Index, which found that Vanuatu was the world's happiest country. This new study says Denmark is the happiest. (Both studies ranked Zimbabwe at the bottom.) You can follow a link on this page to a full listing of the countries surveyed by the National Science Foundation (only 97 of them, but they say that covers 90% of the world's population).

Of course it all depends on how you define happiness. The Happy Planet Index uses three factors - ecological footprint, life-satisfaction, and life expectancy. In the National Science Foundation study, called the World Values Survey, they simply asked citizens of various countries how happy they were. NSF researchers conclude that people are more likely to be happy in prosperous democracies that are at peace. They also say that happiness is increasing worldwide; they have been doing their survey since 1981.

I find attempts to compare the world's countries to one another fascinating, especially when they involve something as subjective and difficult to measure as happiness. Someone with whom I was discussing this news story commented that Denmark's suicide rate is very high. I found this link which seems to support that statement. It looks as though there are nearly twice as many suicides per 100,000 people in Denmark, the happiest country, as in Zimbabwe, the most unhappy country.

How happy are you? Take this test to find out. I took it but unfortunately the scoring feature doesn't seem to be working and I have to say I'm not very happy about that. Seriously, though, that page has several more links to interesting reading about happiness, including information about Bhutan, a country whose stated priority is "Gross National Happiness."


Here's yesterday's Education Carnival.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Breaking News!

I was at the bank today and in the lobby there was a big screen with headlines flashing on it. One of them was that Angelina Jolie's obstetrician had called a press conference.

I really think every time a woman goes into labor, a press conference should be called, because what is more exciting than the birth of a baby? Certainly once the birth has happened, a press conference should be called and there should be much rejoicing and photos in People magazine.

But, as I found out when I hurriedly looked up the story upon my return home, not only have the babies not been born, not only is Angelina not in labor, but the birth is still "weeks away." Yes, the doctor called a press conference to inform the world that an obviously extremely pregnant woman is going to give birth in a few weeks.

At least I didn't miss the news, thanks to the big screen at the bank! Whew!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I have seen various versions of this meme. Nobody has tagged me but I thought it looked fun. I got this particular version from here, via Google.

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

I have no intention of trying to pretend I'm cool. I teach middle school, remember? I am painfully aware of how old and un-cool I am. Also, I should warn you that I have very eclectic - not to say weird - taste in music. I'll try not to cheat, though.

Opening Credits - "Never Be an Angel," by Margaret Becker. "So many, so many mistakes I make,/ So needing, so needing a touch of grace."

Waking Up - "Blood Makes Noise," by Suzanne Vega. "Blood makes noise/ It's a ringing in my ear/ Blood makes noise/ And I can't really hear you/ In the thickening of fear..." Hmm.

First Day at School - "A Lullabye," by Teresa Doyle. This comes from Putumayo's Dreamland CD. I love Putumayo. Not sure why I'm singing lullabies on the first day of school. If I'm going to sing them, though, this is a lovely Celtic one.

Falling in Love - Handel's "Water Music." Hm again.

Fight Song - "Waltz from Serenade for Strings in E, Opus 22," by Dvorak. What a civilized fight.

Breaking Up - "I Surrender All," by the Newsboys. "Can you hear the sound of laughter/ from the other side of life?/ There are days when I feel like a stranger sometimes/ Tell me, are there any other fools like me?. . . . He doesn't love us 'cause of who we are,/ He only loves us 'cause of who He is." Love the Newsboys.

Prom - No prom at my high school, but here goes. "Tik Tik Tak," by Glykeria. From Putumayo's World Playground CD. I think the lyrics are in Greek. Very catchy, and, no doubt, fun to dance to at my non-existent prom.

Life is Good - "Dolencias," by Pablo Carcamo. This is from an album called Magic Flutes and Music of the Andes. I don't speak Spanish, but the dictionary definition of this is "ailments." So, I guess, the glass is half empty even though life is good. Or something.

Mental Breakdown - "Concerto for guitar and viola d'amore, Allegro," by Vivaldi. I fight to Dvorak and break down to Vivaldi. This is one of those understated movies. It's probably going to be shown only on PBS.

Driving - "Ayiti - Bang Bang," by Carimi. From another Putumayo album, their French Caribbean one.

Flashback - "God Moves in a Mysterious Way/The Lord is in His Holy Temple." From Amy Grant's hymn album, Rock of Ages.

Getting Back Together - "Etienne et Petunia," from the Appalachia Waltz CD, with Yo-Yo Ma playing.

Wedding - "Suite for Trumpet & Organ," by Purcell.

Paying the Dues - "Clarinet Quintet in A Major," Mozart. Played by Benny Goodman. SO gorgeous. I'm not sure what paying the dues even means in this context. But I love love love Mozart clarinet music.

The Night Before the War - "The Boy in the Bubble," by Paul Simon. From the Graceland album. I think I wore out two copies of this cassette tape. Maybe three. "It was a slow day/ And the sun was beating/ On the soldiers by the side of the road/ There was a bright light/ A shattering of shop windows/ The bomb in the baby carriage/ Was wired to the radio..."

Final Battle - "What if His People Prayed," by Casting Crowns.

Moment of Triumph - Bach "Violin Concerto in A Minor, Allegro."

Death Scene - "Arise, Arise, You Slumbering Sleeper," by Custer LaRue, from In the Shadow of the Blue Ridge. This is a CD of artists from Virginia, put out by a public radio station.

Funeral Song - "In Christ There is no East or West," played by bagpipes. Really. From Song of the Piper.

End Credits - "Bi Thus A Mo Shuile," by Maire Brennan. It's "Be Thou My Vision," sung in Gaelic.

That was fun. It's scary how appropriate some of these are. And I didn't cheat - much. Just pressed refresh a couple of times when everything was coming up classical. And, OK, I didn't want my death song to be "I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane." I'm not superstitious but I just didn't like the sound of that one. And then there was that soundtrack from an animated movie about Beatrix Potter, I think - why is that in there? I confess I skipped "Tom Kitten." But not because I'm trying to pretend to be cool. Just because, well, it's about a kitten. So yeah, I cheated quite a bit. But it's my blog.

So, anybody else want to try it?

No, no, no!

Today is the first day of the month. As I do each month, I am drawing your attention to the Daily Photo Blogs' theme day. This month's topic is "No." That is, participants are supposed to post a photo of a sign forbidding something. Here's a sample, from Sharon, CT. After you look at that photo you can find links to all the others. Or go here to see thumbnails.

This theme makes me think of my brother, who, when we were children, liked to collect ways to say "Do Not Enter" in various languages and then post them on his bedroom door. I think he had over a hundred versions of this friendly greeting. I wish I had a photo of his door to post, but sadly, I do not. If you have one, bro, send it to me, OK?

Where I live, not all that much is forbidden. In fact, when I talk to my students about what they like about their country, that's often one of the first things mentioned. You can do what you want - there aren't rules about everything the way there are in the US. Of course, there are major caveats to this. If you have money, you can buy your way out of trouble. If you don't, you may find yourself in trouble through no fault of your own. Plus, "whatever you want" is rather a limited set of choices. And there are a few signs forbidding things - "Don't throw trash here," (usually overlooking a large trash pile), "Don't pee here, please," the occasional "No smoking" sign. Recently, traffic lights have started appearing here and there in my city, and at first people weren't quite sure how to react to this development. Traffic chaos increased instead of decreasing.

When my husband and I visited Japan, on the other hand, we were amused to see a sign in the airport: "Welcome to Japan. Please follow the rules."

Enjoy your trip around the world exploring what everyone forbids!