Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An Amazing Life

In saying goodbye to a wonderful person I am amazed at the things she was able to accomplish, even in death. She was always a rather unassuming person who was quietly smiling in the background not wanting to interrupt or contradict someone simply to express her opinion. Unless, of course, they were talking about one of her children. Then watch out! She would quickly jump to their defense and protect them to the end. Isn't that what we would hope to find in a mother?

Yet, I found this in a mother-in-law. A woman who's kindness and gentle spirit was always so constant that if you weren't careful you would easily not notice it and trample it underfoot. Yet it remains and so does she, in our hearts. Looking back over all of the acts of graciousness that Kathy extended to me I am overwhelmed.

Even as her family gathered together to comfort one another she was there. She was the one who gathered her children to the feet of their father reading the Bible in search of the verse she last read. She was the one who brought together a father and son, as he showed him how to tie a tie for the very first time. She was the one who reconciled estranged relatives at a time of sorrow. All of this she did in death. Now you might be able to imagine all of the good she did in her life.

In Memory of Kathy L. Dills
April 6, 1944 - October 6, 2007

"Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."

Albert Einstein

Sunday, October 14, 2007

MacHomer: Shakespeare 2007

I realize that initially this sounds like what it sounds like...Shakespeare with a side of fries and a large Coke. Shakespeare for the masses. I guess it kind of is but it was a great way to introduce some of Shakespeare's works to my 9 and 13-year-old boys. Let me begin at the beginning and explain how we ended up at an event called MacHomer.

Towards the end of summer I "assigned" my oldest son the story, Othello, available through Scholastic and retold by Julius Lester. Tim came back and said that it was slow and he couldn't get into the story. Now, I am all for abandoning a book and I encourage my boys to give a book a chance but if they find that if they have a choice in the matter and they are not drawn in by a story, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting it aside.

This did not mean that I gave up on it so I decided that we would use the book as a bedtime story. It was interesting how that worked out. Tim has gotten to the age where he will opt out of a bedtime story and read on his own while I read to my younger son, however, we had the opposite situation occur. Nathan eventually, I think by chapter five, had decided to go read on his own while Tim and I continued with this book as a read aloud. It was a wonderful experience that Tim and I shared as we read this story dealing with the major themes at the heart of Othello; passion, doom, and racism.

If you ask either Tim or I about our favorite part in the story, we would probably recall different scenes where deceit and revelation were at the heart of it. But if you asked us our favorite 'funniest' part we would both definitely giggle and have the same scene and lines come to mind. I won't go into detail here but it was a selection where Desdemona is describing her desire for Othello. Oh my! It was so much fun to go in each night to read another chapter of Othello, Shakespeare of all things, to my teenage son. He would literally beg me to read just one more chapter each night. We finished the book and we both absolutely loved it.

Did I mention that I am not a big Shakespeare fan? I am now. If you find a way around the language and get to the heart of his stories they are fantastically twisted. Unfortunately my experience with Shakespeare was a 9th grade lit class where we were shown the 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet. Please, it was so corny and contrived that I knew I would never bother to read one of his books. Did I also mention that on many occasions I am proven wrong? This was one of them. Thank goodness. My only other Shakespearean encounter was with Hamlet starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close; "If it were not so, you are my mother!" (A line I constantly quote...I don't know why...it just sounds so over the top).

Okay, moving on. After Othello I then went to the library and promptly found various classic Shakespeare "revisited" picture books by Bruce Colville and illustrated by various artists. They were all beautifully done and I found that this time it was Nathan who was more interested than Tim. We went through these books at bedtime until we had a fairly good introduction to well known Shakespearean plays.

Now it's confession time. I'm not a perfect mother. I know, I work very hard at convincing you otherwise but it simply is not true. My children have seen The Simpsons. At first it took place without my knowledge. Then I found myself being asked if they could watch it at home or worse yet, they would ask me to come watch a particular episode because it was so hilarious...they had already seen it. It's true; I was sucked into the world of yellow people with their random and timely cultural references. There were definitely episodes though where I would say, "...not appropriate" and the TV would go off but by the summer of 2007 we were all too familiar with the Simpsons. This knowledge was helpful and enhanced the experience of MacHomer. If you're not a Simpsons fan just think for a moment about the fact that that 'cartoon' has been in existence for over 20 years!!

Time for the final act. In the local newspaper I noticed an ad for something called, "MacHomer" showing at the McIntyre Hall. Well, well, well. High class meets low class. This could be a train wreck or brilliance. I put my money on the later, literally, tickets were $30 bucks a pop! I asked my husband if he would like to go and he happily opted out. So, I asked the boys if they were up for a "fieldtrip" to MacHomer. Nathan was all over it but Tim was a little more reluctant, the saving grace for him was that somehow the Simpsons were involved, "D'oh!!"

We went to it, we saw it, we loved it! Rick Miller is an incredibly talented actor who does over 50 character voices from the Simpsons and incorporates everyone into the play, Macbeth. He mixed it up with puppets, video, and acting. If you get the opportunity to see it I would highly recommend it. At the very end of the play he then launches into the Bohemian Rhapsody done with 25 of the most annoying singing voices of all time. You can check this out on You Tube. The singers he's done in the past are different than the ones he did recently. He must update and keep current. Of course, the boys loved MacHomer and the finale was just icing on the cake.

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody