Thursday, January 31, 2008

The House by the Side of the Road by Sam Walter Foss

The House by the Side of the Road

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.

I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
--Sam Walter Foss

Here's another poem quoted by President Hinckley. This one was in his talk, Forgiveness (2005). After reading the poem, he simply said, "That is the way I feel." In all the eulogies and memorials for our beloved Prophet, there is a constant thread -- President Hinckley, through his humble example, made others want to be better people. The world is a measurably better place because he lived in it. I can't think of a better definition of being a friend to man than that.

There are two other peoms that President Hinckley quoted that I wanted to post this week as part of my memorial to him. I've already posted them, however, so I'll just link to them here. One is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, which he quoted in his talk, Seek Ye the Kingdom of God (2006). The other is Invictus by William Ernest Henley, quoted in the First Presidency Christmas Devotional (2000). They're both great poems from great talks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Outwitted by Edwin Markham


He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
--Edwin Markham

President Hinckley quoted this poem in at least two talks: Reach Out in Love and Kindness (1982), and Four B’s for Boys (1981). While the sentiment is nice, I can't say I really like the poem. It's hard to figure out what exactly it's referring to in the second line -- there's no context. Heretic, rebel, and thing to flout don't all seem to be referring to the same antecedents. It's just oddly structured.

Anyway, I didn't realize that President Hinckley's Six B's talk from Nov 2000 wasn't the first time he's used that format. For comparison, here are the Six B's:
  1. Be grateful.
  2. Be smart.
  3. Be clean.
  4. Be true.
  5. Be humble.
  6. Be prayerful.

The original four B's for boys were as follows:
  1. Be smart.
  2. Be fair.
  3. Be clean.
  4. Be true.

At some point, the six B's were expanded to nine (and though I can find the list, I can't find a reference for it):
  1. Be Grateful
  2. Be Smart
  3. Be Involved
  4. Be Clean
  5. Be True
  6. Be Positive
  7. Be Humble
  8. Be Still
  9. Be Prayerful

I gave a great impromptu lesson in primary on the Six B's once. I mention this, not because I think I did a great job with the lesson, but because he did a great job choosing his words. All I did was read one of the B's, then ask the kids what they think he meant by it. They could come up with two or three applications for each one. All of their answers were great, and even if they were flippant -- like the kid who said Be Clean meant you ought to take a shower so you won't smell -- I could redirect it and say that yes, President Hinckley thinks you ought to take care of your body and present yourself well. Finally, if they didn't think of the specific applications President Hinckley talked about, I could take a moment to expand on them, and the kids listened because they had been thinking about the question for a few minutes.

I love how President Hinckley took the time to speak individually to many different groups of people in the church, each with their own needs and levels of understanding. He'll be missed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

O World, Thou Choosest Not The Better Part by George Santayana

O World, Thou Choosest Not The Better Part

O world, thou choosest not the better part!
It is not wisdom to be only wise,
And on the inward vision close the eyes,
But it is wisdom to believe the heart.
Columbus found a world, and had no chart,
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
To trust the soul's invincible surmise
Was all his science and his only art.
Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
That lights the pathway but one step ahead
Across a void of mystery and dread.
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine
By which alone the mortal heart is led
Unto the thinking of the thought divine.
--George Santayana

Most of you have heard the sad news that President Gordon B. Hinckley died yesterday. I say sad news because those of us who are left behind won't be able to enjoy his wisdom, love, humor, and inspired leadership anymore. I don't think it's especially sad for him since he will be reunited with his dear wife and many good friends who have gone before. Also, if anyone is entitled to hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," it's President Hinckley.

This is a poem that President Hinckley quoted in a BYU Hawaii Commencement speech. He quoted just the first four lines, emphasizing the need for faith in a world that focuses on intellectualism. I put the whole sonnet in because I like the image of science being a smoky torch -- certainly better than nothing, but not enough to truly light the way. It reminds me of the hymn Lead Kindly Light. In that hymn, the light doesn't illuminate the entire path either, but it's a light we can depend on nonetheless.

I also wanted to post this quote from President Hinckley. It's from a regional conference in 1997, but it was read at Sister Hinckley's funeral. I have it framed on my desk so that I can see and read it often:
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. … If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers”

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Infant Joy by William Blake

Infant Joy

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!
Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!
--William Blake

This is a poem suggested by my Dad. I really like William Blake. His language is simple and direct, but the overall message and feeling of his poems is often surprisingly deep. Sweet Joy, Pretty Joy is just about the perfect description of our little girl.

Since best wishes for baby come mostly by email rather than cards, I wanted to collect them somehow so they could end up in her baby book. So today's post is just going to be a collection of the responses to the birth announcement we sent out. If your wishes got lost somewhere in the ether, feel free to post in the comments.

Here is a poem you might find amusing. Lesli

Sylvia Plath - Metaphors

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.

Karen is laboring as we speak. She was talking to Peter (who came home late last night - Karen went in at 8 pm for induction - to catch some sleep while she "slept) and said, "Oh, I think my water just broke." So, we are heading over there, separate cars so I can leave when they want me to.
Love Mom/R


I hope your doing well. I was just wondering if you had Elizabeth yet? If so, what was her weight, and day of her birth.

I hope you are getting the much needed rest that you deserve.

Have a good one,

Karen Gonzalez

Introducing Elizabeth
Elizabeth Anne Ahlstrom was born Monday, January 14, 2008 at 12:47 pm.
8 lbs 10oz
19 1/2 in. tall
Red hair (at least for now!)

Hey Karen- My mom told me that you had your baby girl!

Congratulations!!! You are going to be an awesome Mommy!

Can't wait to see pictures and meet her!!!

-Jocelyn Hatch Christenson

Congratulations Karen and Peter! We are so happy for you. I love the picture of you holding Elizabeth, Karen. I hope all went well with the labor and delivery and that you are getting some good rest now.

Lots of love,

Marci Stringham

Congrats! She's a beautiful baby. Are you well?
-Larry Stay

It was rough, but I survived.


Very funny Daddy! We got home from the hospital last night. Thanks for all the kind wishes and congratulations. If anybody wants to read about how labor and delivery went, I've posted that at my blog (link is below). I'll be writing more this week about the hospital stay, and stuff like that, so you can check back for more actual news and not just poetry for several days.


Patti Harvey

Photos are available on the TPMOTD site. Enjoy!

Thanks. They are beautiful. I especially like the one of peter holding her. I love the natural side lighting. And the one of the baby with the same lighting. Do you like the way the camera works?

When you get time, which may be once you head back east, could you send full sized versions of these photos?

Daniel woke me up which is why i'm up at 3:30 am, and i couldn't resist checking if any pictures had been sent. I forwarded these to Kathey Ahlstrom in case they hadn't been sent to her. People not on the list can't check tpmotd right?

Congratulations Karen and Peter. Your baby girl is beautiful.
Lesli and Doug

Congratulations Karen and Peter!
Elizabeth is so beautiful! She doesn't look all squished like some new babies. I can't imagine how happy you feel! YAY for you!
I can't wait till I can send out pictures of my own beautiful baby like yours! Love you!
Hooray once more! Kiss Miss Lizzie for me.

Love, Heather

Aww! Sweet.



Loved the pictures. I was also wondering why it said "more pictures?"
Did Karen have a lot of hair when she was born? None of our kids knew
how to have hair like that. :-)

Love, Mom

Karen and Peter.....

She looks very content as does Peter!
What a blessing!!
I suppose I get to meet her in March at the wedding??
You are feeling OK, Karen?
When do you get to go home?
Are you already there?
Thanks for the missive and the pictures...

Love to you and your daughter!
Mary Beth

OH YAY!!! Elizabeth is finally here. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I can't tell who she looks like.. you or Peter. I will now put the information on the birth announcement and give it to you on Sunday.. if your out by then.

Karen Gonzalez

Brand New Little Daughter
~ by Linda Lee Elrod ~

She´s your brand new little daughter,
so enchanted, sweet and smart.
With a coo, she´ll have you smiling
With a laugh, she´ll own your heart.

It´s the time for hugs and kisses,
Reassurance when she cries.
It´s the time for making moments
Full of love and Lullabies.

For these golden days of childhood
come and go so very fast -
Hold her tight and love her dearly.
Make these preciouse moments last.



Peter and Karen just had their first baby. And we'd like to share.
(Not that we're excited or anything.) To see pictures please go to:

http://kathey- frommywindow. blogspot. com/

Love, Jim & Kathey

What great pictures. You sending these….does this mean you are at home already? I’m so glad your mom can be there with you. I’ll be sending another package to Elizabeth now that I know for sure that she’s a she. I never trust those “pictures” but we had heavy snowfall this morning so I’ll probably get out tomorrow. I know the baby mary janes I sent out with your mom will probably only fit Elizabeth now but she needs plenty of girly things…right from the start. This pattern is one my grandmother from England taught me when I was 8 years old, recovering from rheumatic fever. I’ve knit them ever since and am so glad I could knit them for Elizabeth Ann.

I love you Karen…and am so happy you had a girl! And Peter! Every dad needs a daughter! Have fun…I’ll write again.

Kisses to all……………susan

I have corrected Elizabeth Anne’s name so it’s spelled correctly. Why I didn’t realize Anne would have an “e” is beyond me….she’s got a mom so much like Anne of Green Gables….and how else would Karen spell Anne but with an “e”.

Susan Hatch

thanks karen. I'm suprised you are on a computer already! Wow. I love the one of you and Elizabeth. Are you at home yet or still at the hospital. You don't need to answer that.

Actually, that email was a collaborative effort of Peter and Rebecca. We used Karen's email because she had all the necessary addresses for the people she asked us to send it to. She is still in the hospital. I think she comes home tomorrow.

She's beautiful! So glad to hear you're all well.
Mike Stay

Glow Little Glowworm
Elizabeth's bilirubin level was slightly elevated, but the light incubators were being used by more seriously needy babies. So they put her on a light board. It is actually a flexible plastic board thing with a massive cable to a powerpack. You lay the baby on it naked except for a diaper, wrap the soft side fabric wings around her, then bundle her up as usual in a blanket. The intense light therapy glows into her back and does the work of photosynthesizing the excess bilirubin out of her. I think it makes her look like baby Jesus in a Russian icon: the light shining out from within.

Did Heather have light eyelashes when she was born, or dark eyelashes. Are the light eyelashes a better hope that Elizabeth will keep her red hair?

Don't remember. I'd have to go look at a photo.

Ha! That's awesome. It really does look like one of those little glow-worm toys from the 80s. Rachel and I found her old one in a box at her house, and it STILL GLOWED after at least 15 years of disuse!


This is my favorite poem (part) about birth, by Wordsworth:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!


that's really neat looking. Daniel had high bilirubin, and was actually quite yellow for several weeks, but in frederick they said it was fine unless the whites of his eyes started looking really yellow, and they just left him to get over it on his own. I wanted them to do something about it. That looks like a great solution.

Here's an album full of photos of Elizabeth.

-Love Karen

Thanks for the pictures Karen. She really is very beautiful.

Soooooooooo cute!

She's so sweet! That crying photo is great. Very expressive.


SO sweet! Thanks!--Kathey

There are a few more comments on the Day Old Child post, but they're already posted to the blog, so they don't need to be duplicated here.

There are a few other people who posted their messages on their own blogs: Gremhog, Helena twice, and Kathey posted a bunch of times on her blog.

Thanks for all the great messages, everyone!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

From Intimations of Immortality

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
--William Wordsworth

I've always liked this poem, and was saving it for when the baby was born. So here it is. It's just an excerpt from a much longer work, which you can read here. I think it's interesting that when you get down to what people believe, their religion's theology aside, most Christians agree with a lot of Mormon theology including the preexistance.

Well, I promised I'd tell you more about what happened in the hospital after Elizabeth was born. After letting her stay with me and start trying to nurse for about an hour, they took her to the newborn nursery to bathe her, and do blood tests, and monitor her temperature, and such. Peter went with her, and I stayed in the room to recover myself. They took out the IV's and made sure I wasn't bleeding too much, and stuff like that, then moved me to the room where we'd stay for the next few days. Rather than give a chronological account, I'll just tell some memorable things.

First, there were the results of all the tests they ran on Elizabeth. Labor had virtually no complications, though they did have to put me on oxygen since they said I was holding my breath too much -- though I didn't notice doing so -- and that the baby wasn't getting enough oxygen. After she was born, they found that she was Coombs positive -- meaning that our blood types were incompatible, and some of my blood had mixed with hers during delivery -- and that this was making red blood cells die, which increases the bilirubin, which causes jaundice. They said her numbers weren't especially high yet, but that they were increasing faster than they liked to see. They would have put her under the lights immediately, but they had an especially large crop of jaundiced babies at the moment, and every light in the hospital was being used. They did have a portable BiliBlanket they could put her on, though. This was a little light pad, about the size of her torso, that they attached to her back, and then wrapped her up, light and all for me to hold and nurse (see glowworm photo above). Eventually, they also had her under the lights, once the babies with higher numbers were released.

Other vaguely alarming test results included a hearing test, which she didn't pass in one ear the first time, and a heart murmur. The hearing test was repeated the next day by a more experienced technician, and she passed with flying colors. It's a pretty cool thing. They put a tiny speaker over her ear, and then attach electrodes to other parts of her head. These can read her brain waves, which change whenever she hears a sound. The heart murmur was serious enough to warrant an echo cardiogram, which we still don't have the results back from. The pediatrician says that these little holes generally resolve themselves within days or weeks, but since hers could still be heard after 4 days, it needs to be watched.

There were volunteers who came in and took her photo. Others brought cookies and bingo cards, and were generally pleasant to be around. I had a mixed bag of nurses. Some were very kind and solicitous, others I barely noticed when they came and went off shift. One day, after her night under the lights, she was very sleepy, and wouldn't wake up to eat. She had been fed formula several times overnight, so I wasn't really worried, but the nurse that day was sure that I was just incompetent at nursing, and kept offering suggestions of things we had already tried several times already. She was very condescending and annoying, and I was glad when she went home.

I mostly sat in bed, watched TV, talked with Mom and Peter, and fed the baby. We read trivial pursuit questions one evening, and read our books during quiet times in the afternoon. It was nice to take a shower one morning, and to get some real comfortable sleep at last. I was still very weak, and definitely sore around the stitches, and where the baby hadn't quite gotten the hang of latching on correctly, but all it all I recovered very quickly.

We came home on the 16th, at about 7pm. It was nearly impossible to put her into the car seat in the back of Peter's 2 door car, upside down and backwards, when the straps weren't adjusted to fit a baby quite so long as she was, but we managed it, and made it home in one piece.

Well, Elizabeth has been very kind, sleeping while I blog, but she's starting to wake up now, so I'll sign off.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day Old Child by Carol Lynn Pearson

Day Old Child

My day old child lay in my arms,
With my lips against his ear.
I whispered strongly, "How I wish--
I wish that you could hear,

"I've a hundred wonderful things to say,
(a tiny cough and a nod),
hurry, hurry, hurry and grow
So I can tell you about God."

My day-old baby's mouth was still
And my words only tickled his ear,
But a kind of light passed through his eyes,
And I saw this thought appear:

"How I wish I had a voice and words,
I've a hundred things to say.
Before I forget, I'd tell you of God --
I left Him yesterday."
--Carol Lynn Pearson

Here's another very appropriate poem from Carol Lynn Pearson. I don't think I really need to say anything more, except that Elizabeth is such a very precious gift and I love her SOOOO much.

I went to the hospital to be induced on Sunday night. We arrived at about 8, and waited around until 10 before the nurses began to do anything significant (evidently, the doctor hadn't sent over the right form, and the pharmacy didn't have the right medicine on hand, etc). At 10 they gave me the prostaglandin gel, and hooked me up to a bunch of monitors - measuring, among other things, my blood pressure, the baby's pulse, and my contractions. Then Peter went home to get some sleep in a real bed, and I began the long wait. If I thought sleeping in my own bed was uncomfortable, trying to get any rest in the hospital bed was worse. Besides that, every time I moved, the monitors wouldn't work right, and the nurse would have to come in and readjust them. My nurse had a manner which implied that everything I did was a vast inconvenience (including jut showing up that day at all), so I tried not to move more than once an hour. At 4 am, she started the pitocin drip, and the contractions really started in earnest.

At about 8, I called Peter, and asked him to come back, since the contractions were getting pretty strong, and I wanted some support. While I was on the phone with him, I felt my water break, so he hurried right over. By the time he got there, the contractions were getting very painful and fast. We'd been told that the anaesthesiologist had back to back c-sections, so if I wanted any pain medicine at all, I ought to ask for it now, or be prepared to wait until they could call somebody else in. I realized that with the pitocin going, it was only going to get worse, so I asked for the epidural. After that, I was able to get some rest, and it's a good thing I did, since I hadn't really slept in more than a week. When it came time to push, it was difficult to get the right muscles going, since they were all numb, but we ended up having everything ready when the doctor came over on his lunch break.

Elizabeth really did NOT want to come out. There was a LOT of hard pushing, an episiotomy, and they still had to use suction to get her out. It turns out, she had her hand up by her chin, and that got in the way. It was kind of funny to have everybody around shouting, "Push push push! Just a little more! We can see her hair! Oh, here comes a nose!" All the same, she made it out eventually, and Peter cut the cord, and she was finally there and beautiful, and everything was just perfect! Everyone was exclaiming over what pretty red hair she had ("A little girl AND red hair?" said Mom, "You REALLY hit the jackpot!"), and wondering whether it would stay that way. The doctor made Peter sing Happy Birthday (though he didn't need much convincing) and Mom took about a million photos. When they brought her back over after weighing and measuring her (born Jan 14, 12:47 pm, 8 lbs 10.4 oz, 19.5 in long), she started nursing right away with a good strong grip.

Well, that's all for today, I'll write more about the hospital stay tomorrow. For now, here are some pictures.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hush Little Baby -- Traditional

Hush Little Baby

Hush little baby; mama's near,
To brush your hair and calm your fears.
To kiss your cheek and hold your hand,
'Til you drift off to sleepyland.
To help you count those little white sheeps,
And sing you songs 'til you're asleep.
To tell you tales of kings and queens,
of Jack and Jill and wonderful things.
So snuggle up and hold me tight,
And dream sweet dreams all through the night.
And every night when the sun goes down,
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

Hush, little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mocking bird
And if that mocking bird won't sing
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring is brass
Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass
And if that looking glass gets broke
Mama's gonna buy you a nanny goat
And if that goat won't give no milk
Mama's gonna buy you a robe of silk
And if that robe of silk gets worn
Mama's gonna buy you a big French horn
And if that big French horn won't play
Mama's gonna buy you a candy cane
And if that cane should lose its stripes
Mama's gonna buy you a set of pipes
And if that set of pipes ain't clean
Mama's gonna buy you a jumping bean
And if that jumping bean won't roll
Mama's gonna buy you a lump of coal
And if that lump of coal won't burn
Mama's gonna buy you a butter churn
And if that butter turns out sour
Mama's gonna buy you an orchid flower
And if that flower don't smell sweet
Mama's gonna buy you some salted meat
And if that salted meat won't fry
Mama's gonna buy you an apple pie
And when that pie's all gone
Mama's gonna buy you another one
And when that pie's all eaten up
Mama's gonna buy you a greyhound pup
And if that pup won't run the course
Mama's gonna buy you a rocking horse
And if that rocking horse won't rock
Mama's gonna buy you a cuckoo clock
And when that cuckoo clock winds down
You'll still be the cutest little baby in town.

Here's what Daddy had to say about this poem/song, "I like this long version because it reminds me of the many hours I spent at night trying to get whichever fussy baby to sleep by singing this and other "Don't cry" songs and making up mindless verses to them." I think my favorite/most abhorred song was the "Don't Cry Little Fishy" one. The trouble was that Daddy sang it so horribly that you couldn't help but laugh at him, and when you had worked yourself up for a really good screaming tantrum, there's nothing more annoying than Daddy making you laugh and ruining the whole thing.

I have a purple plush elephant that has this song on a music box inside. It plays the whole tune, then repeats until the the string winds up again, so you can sing along and just let it keep going as long as you have verses -- which aren't that hard to make up as you go along.

OK, so I haven't written in about a week. I really kept expecting to be in labor any minute, and didn't have much more on my mind to communicate other than that. Also, Mom came on Tuesday, and she's been keeping me occupied doing all the mending and alterations that I've been putting off since it got too uncomfortable to sit in front of the sewing machine.

Anyway, I figured that since Daddy sent me this poem, I might as well post something and tell you all what's up (people keep calling and asking for news). I had an appointment with my OB on Friday. He did an ultrasound to see how the amniotic fluid level was -- he said it was great and there was plenty. He checked for dilation and said I was up to 3 cm. We went over to the hospital for a Nonstress Test (they hook me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and have me push a button when the baby moves -- if the heart rate goes up when the baby moves, they know there's enough oxygen and the baby isn't in distress). The Nurse doing the test said that the baby seemed active and her heart rate was accelerating all over the place -- all good things that indicate a healthy baby. Essentially, the baby is just too comfortable and happy in there, so we'll have to kick her out. We're going to go in to the hospital on Sunday night and induce -- though it may take till Monday morning to get things really going. Anyway, you probably won't hear from me until after that. I'll send out notices (or get Mom or Peter to do it probably) to all three family lists, and also selected church friends. If you're a regular reader of the blog, you'll probably get an email or phone call.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

When I was younger, I actively disliked this hymn when it was sung on the first Sunday of the new year. The tune was set in a minor key, and had strange intervals that were difficult to remember and sing. The words were also less than pleasing -- as a child I didn't want to hear about the year dying in the night -- it was kind of spooky. Even the rhymes were odd. The last line is so far removed, musically, from the first, that it was only a couple of wears ago that I found that there was any rhyme or reason to it at all. As a child, I just knew that neither the words nor the music seemed to resolve at the end of the verse.

Now I really like the hymn, for exactly the same reasons. It's not the same as our other hymns, and that makes it interesting. It's a bit more sophisticated musically and lyrically than many of the others -- it's definitely not one of those hymns you sing on autopilot. Add to that the fact that we only get to sing it once a year, and you have something truly special.

I didn't know that there were more verses to it than are in our hymnbook. They're an added bonus!

PS: some people have been asking for more recent pictures of me being very pregnant. Here are a couple Peter took yesterday.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Ninth Month by Carol Lynn Pearson

The Ninth Month

Being a duplex
I have been happy, my dear,
To loan you half the house
Rent-free and furnished
As best I could.

You have been a good
Tenant, all in all
Quiet, yet comfortably there
Tapping friendly on the wall.

But I hear
You have outgrown the place
And are packing up to move.
Well, I will miss
The sweet proximity.
But we will keep in touch.
There are bonds, my dear,
That reach beyond a block
Or a mile or a hemisphere
Born of much love and labor.

I approve the move
And gladly turn from landlady
To neighbor.
--Carol Lynn Pearson

Somebody gave me a book of Carol Lynn Pearson's poems about motherhood at my baby shower. Here's one that seems appropriate for today. I really like a lot of her poems, but only in small doses. It's odd how any one poem may sound profound or touching, but several in a row tend to start sounding sappy and trite. A few years ago I tried to write a poem in her style. It turned out OK, and appropriate for the occasion, but it's really not MY style, if you know what I mean.

I went to the doctor yesterday. He says I'm dilated to 2cm, and that the baby's head is very far down. He thinks that the baby will come in the next few days. I find that I can't really think about anything else with much concentration, so today's post will be short.

I'm back to sorting Ensign pictures while listening to audiobooks to protect my sanity. I'm hoping to get all the large pictures done before the baby comes and distracts me from the project again. I've already finished tearing everything out of the magazines, trimming the torn side, and sorting by book (OT, NT, BOM, Church History, and Modern). Now I need to sort each book, put them in order, and separate the best version of each picture from the duplicates. I have about a full paper grocery bag worth of paper to go through. When I'm done with that, I'll still have about 3 inches of temple pictures to trim and sort, the same amount of old photos to decoupage with, and then a bag full of smaller pictures which will take a lot of work to trim and sort (since there may be more than one on a page, and it takes 4 cuts for each picture rather than just one). When we moved in here, I had about 10-12 grocery bags full of old magazines, so I've gotten rid of a LOT of scrap already.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cruel Clever Cat by Geoffrey Taylor

Cruel Clever Cat

Sally, having swallowed cheese,
Directs down holes the scented breeze,
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.
--Geoffrey Taylor

A recent blog post by someone I know showed some confusion about the correct form of the idiom "with bated/baited breath." I probably would have noticed, then ignored, the error, except that she asked if she picked the right spelling. I was about to write a comment explaining the correct form, referencing a bit of etymology to help her remember why it was the right spelling, when I suddenly got the feeling that I'd better check my facts if I was going to play the expert. I'm usually right about these things, since I seem to pay a lot more attention to word spellings and derivations than most people I know (ask me sometime about my Dictionary Game), but I've also found that actually looking things up doesn't lessen one's illusion of omniscience (since the important thing in maintaining that illusion is having a right answer within seconds of the question).

So anyway, I looked it up, and found this site where a guy who answers questions about word and phrase origins (among other things) confirmed that it's related to the verb abate, which means to decrease or stop. So essentially, it's talking about holding your breath, which makes total sense when you add the word waiting to the phrase, rather than using bait to attract something, which, though you do wait after you bait your hook in fishing, doesn't really make any sense when you take the breath into account.

He also sites the first known use (Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice), other famous authors who've used it (Mark Twain in Tom Sawyer), and this clever little poem with its intentional pun.

I am currently waiting with bated breath for the baby to arrive. It's now just a week from the official due date, and as we all know, that means it could come at any time. The baby has gotten so big, she's squishing my lungs, and also making it harder for me to simply move my body around. Consequently, I always feel starved for air, and worry my husband because I end up breathing heavily after doing the simplest tasks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Chicken Soup with Rice--January by Maurice Sendak

Chicken Soup with Rice--January

In January it’s so nice,
While slipping on the sliding ice,
To sip hot chicken soup with rice.
Sipping once, sipping twice,
Sipping chicken soup with rice.
--Maurice Sendak

I absolutely LOVE this set of poems and illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I have three or four copies of the book in different sizes, just in case. He doesn't use the same poetic devices in each verse, which makes it more interesting, but he does concentrate on something. This month it's alliteration with the letter S.

I remember, just a few years ago, I found out that Maurice Sendak was a man. I don't know why I thought he was a woman the whole time I was growing up, but I did (I had never met or heard of anyone else called Maurice, so that didn't clue me in). It's odd how when you find something like that out, even if it's insignificant in the grand scheme of things, your brain has to do a somersault and suddenly everything in the world looks a little bit different as you reinterpret everything you see with your new understanding.

Maurice Sendak has several other books that are worth checking out. The most famous, of course, is Where the Wild Things Are, but less well known are his version of The Nutcracker (Which he created while designing the sets for what must have been an amazing production), and What Do You Say Dear? (a book about manners in extremely unlikely situations). Those three are merely the tip of the iceberg, though.

On a personal note, if you want to read about our New Year's celebration, you can find that at my other blog. Happy New Year everybody! Have a great 2008!