Entries in The Next Generation (64)


The Young Performers

I don't have video yet, but I do have photos of Christian and James's recent stage appearances.  First is James as Banquo's son Fleance in Verdi's Macbeth, performed by the Taconic Opera company.  This was a very classy production: the sets and costumes were fantastic, and the chorus was at its best.  The soloists all were terrific, especially Lady Macbeth.  James nailed his 8-bar solo every time and makes just about the best-looking medieval page ever. 


The Haldane School's performances of Tim Kelly's "The Face on the Barroom Floor" were this weekend.  It was hard to believe that this was a high school production.  Charlotte Palmer-Lane, who has done costume design for many BBC productions and who did this past season's costumes for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, was an absolute wizard.  All the kids looked splendid. 

The set was great, too: the perfect backdrop to a zany Western farce.  Martha Mechalakos's direction was superb, and her husband Jim playing a genius ad-lib piano soundtrack was a deft professional touch.  I was so proud of Christian (who played the romantic lead, Jack "Toulouse" Goodheart) and all his friends; they were hilarious. 

I'll throw in a bonus for you all: Patrick performed the ring ceremony for the daughter of some friends recently.  What a stunning, tasteful reception, and the photography, done by Sheena Jibson, is gorgeous.

 There you have them: my handsome, talented menfolk.  I'm a lucky gal indeed.


And There Was Much Rejoicing

Re-entry: what can I say?  It has been…interesting. 

It’s good to be home, though, and we're now in the routine of a new school year.  It is awfully quiet at the Perkins Corral once 8:15 rolls around each morning.  By then, Patrick has gone to his office and five of the six kids are a half-mile away at our tiny but fabulous school.  Here’s a quick status report on the older five:

  • Daniel loves all things kindergarten.  
  • Tess likes her third grade teacher, who is new to the school but seems like a keeper so far.
  • Hope is navigating the treacherous waters of fifth grade as serenely as a French swan.
  • James is savoring being at the top of the middle school heap, knowing well that next year’s high school debut is not that far off.  
  • Christian is a Junior (pardon me as I shudder with the faint horror that word still evokes in me) and is coping well with A/P classes and the idea that dating and driving privileges are only weeks away (pardon me as I shudder again, much more profoundly this time).

And Anne and I?  We’re adjusting to the lonnnnnng stretches of quiet time.  Since school started, Anne’s naps have been nearly twice as long as usual; if this continues, I may well have three or four solid hours of alone time each and every day, unprecedented riches that I plan to spend writing, writing, writing.  

But enough about us.  You, my faithful and patient readers, are waiting for the results of the August contests.  Without further ado:

Je Mange France! #1, for which contestants submitted their favorite made-up words.  Let me just say here that I am so glad that I passed the judging buck to others, since there’s no way I could have chosen just one.  I loved many of your submissions and have already started using them in regular conversation.  My illustrious panel has come through, though, and the winner is:

“Failtastic,” submitted by Charrette!

Je Mange France! #2, the “speed dating” challenge, as Whitney so aptly put it.  I numbered the entries, then went to random.org and generated a random number.  The winner is:


Je Mange France! #3, in which contestants wrote 50-word stories inspired by a photo of young Christian dressed up like Jack Sparrow.  My illustrious panel loved all the stories and had a difficult time settling on their favorite, but finally I can announce that the winner is:

“Black Bart” by TC!

Honorable mentions go to, well, everyone, but I must say that Tyler’s spectacular (but disqualified-due-to-length) poem is pretty swoonworthy.

Thank you to ALL commenters in the month of August.  It was very cheering to read your words once we got home.  And huge thanks to my darling Brillig, who posted the contests each Monday.

I’m contemplating posting a summary of our trip to France in a few installments.  Are you at all interested?   I can't imagine that you would be.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Let me know.

Finally, here’s a piece of news that has caused me much rejoicing in the past few days: I sold my short story “Fugue” to an anthology! How satisfying it is to find a home for that story after so many rejections.  The bonus is that will appear in print; my short stories have so far been published only on the web.  "Fugue," a dark fantasy story about a the supernatural misadventures of a young piano teacher, will appear in the third volume of Candlelight, edited by Jonathan Schlosser.  I’ll post publication details as soon as I get them, since I know you'll all want your very own copy. :D

That’s it for now, folks.  TC and Eowyn, please email me your addresses and I’ll send you your prizes (Charrette, I still have your address).  Hearty congratulations to all!


Our Summer Thus Far, in Three Parts

Part I

Five Fun French Facts: The Eiffel Tower*

1) iron $ steel**

2) built on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River in Paris

3) weighs 7,300 tons

4) lightning struck it on June 3rd 1902 at 9:20 p.m.

5) The Eiffel Tower is a colossal lightning conductor.

Part II



5 mint leaves

4 cpc of water

3 ice cubes

1 strainer (for mint leaves)

Put in the ingredients then shake with cover, stir enjoy!

Tess, Hope's and Daniel's recipie if you want more add wild daisys and rasberrys

Part III

The Deer Strikes Again? by Tess Perkins

When I was six the deer cept eating our planets until...One day dad came home with a fence. A fence for the deer. Two years past so far no bunnys and deer. Now I am eight years old. Mom and I were planting my plant when suddinly...The deer strucked again! It was horible. My mother was sad. :( I was worried that the deer would eat my sunflower.

*Every day, the four older kids have to write Five Fun French Facts! on a subject I give them in a notebook in preparation for our trip to France in August. This is one of Hope's entries.

**All portions of this post are transcribed exactly as written.

***The kids will definitely be collaborators on the sequel to Comfortably Yum.


Frenchification by Immersion

In a little over a month, we are trading houses for three weeks with a family who lives near Versailles. We found our house exchange through HomeLink, and we are very excited about our long-overdue vacation. Patrick and I took a three-week trip to France and Switzerland sixteen years ago; it remains one of our fondest memories.  I anticipate that this trip will become a highlight of family lore for years to come.

As of last Friday, school is finally out.  It’s time to begin our preparations. Because I am paranoid and prideful, I find I must add “clean out and organize every closet, cupboard, and drawer” to my already lengthy To Do list. I know, I know; but the French family will be living here for three whole weeks, and what if it rains a lot, and the kids play Hide and Seek, and one of them gets lost not in Narnia, but in some unpleasant little purgatory like our linen closet or the arts and crafts cupboard?

Long time friends and Novembrance readers will remember that I homeschool our kids every summer. This year, except for working on Daniel’s reading and Tess’s math, we are setting aside our usual curriculum and focusing exclusively on France.

We’ll be reading or re-reading:

Linnea in Monet’s Garden
The King in the Window
A Company of Fools
The Red Keep
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver
Katie Meets the Impressionists
The Annotated Mona Lisa
The Da Vinci Code*
The Eight*
The Count of Monte Cristo
Paris to the Moon

We’ll be watching or re-watching:
The 400 Blows
My Father’s Castle
My Mother's Glory
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Cyrano de Bergerac
An American in Paris
The Scarlet Pimpernel

And listening to:
Charles Trenet
Maurice Chevalier
Edith Piaf
Charles Aznavour
Yves Montand
Les Alchimistes
Saint Privat
Plastic Bertrand

Each of the kids will be using the fantastic Rosetta Stone program every day, and I’ve pulled out my old Champs Elysées CDs. As I mentioned once long ago, I try not to think about how badly my French has eroded since my mission and those years of intensive study in college. I’ll set regret aside and focus on doing my best.

Food, of course, will not be neglected in our study. Croissants, cassoulet, escargots, steak frites, crepes Nutella, and chocolat chaud will all be consumed in anticipation of the culinary delights we will encounter in France.

Places we plan to visit while there:

Within Paris

La Cathédrale Notre Dame
La Sainte-Chapelle
Le Louvre
La Musée d’Orsay
Café Angelina
La Tour Eiffel
L’Arc de Triomphe
La Bastille

Outside Paris
Parc Astérix

* Christian gets a couple of softballs due to his summer reading requirements for AP English. James is determined to finish the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo (866 pages--he's about a third of the way through), and I am re-acquainting myself with my beloved yet long-neglected M. Proust.

We know we are beyond lucky to be having such a grand adventure, and we plan to make the most of it. It won't be a whirlwind tour; three weeks will afford us the luxury of taking our time to enjoy the riches that will surround us.  I can't wait!


Hey, Daniel Jude!

Manhattanites often refer to children as "delicious." I never really understood this until I had kids of my own; now I totally get it. All of the adjectives I normally reserve for food--scrumptious, piquant, choice, and so on--perfectly describe the way I feel about interacting with my children.

Daniel was particularly delicious this morning as he crept downstairs at the crack of dawn, a huge grin on his face. He's five today, and our years together have been savory indeed. Here's to many more happy returns of the day!