Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom

Titles: Eight Cousins-Rose in Bloom

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Main Characters: Eight cousins-Rose, Uncle Alec, Phebe, Rose's cousins. Rose in Bloom-Rose, Uncle Alec, Charlie, Mac, Phebe.

Summaries: Eight Cousins is about a girl named Rose who has been adopted by her Uncle Alec. He begins to use a cure for her miserableness and by the end she is fine again. Rose is scared of her cousins at first, but she soon gets to know them well. She makes friends with the cook's helper, Phebe. In Rose in Bloom, the sequel, Rose comes back from a 2 year journey with Phebe, and suddenly any number of young men are in love with her, including her cousin Charlie. Towards the end of the book, Charlie dies and Rose and her cousin Mac fall in love with eachother. My favorite part is when Mac writes Rose a book of poems.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Landseer's "Monarch of the Glen"

In the glen, my dad the head stag stands in one of the only un-singed patches of grass left. He has just led the rest of us back safely from the area of the wildfire and is standing, tired but triumphant, at the head of a line of deer who followed him to safety. There is still smoke in the air behind us. My mother rushes from the end of the line and ushers us away quickly to see if we can find any thing left for us to eat. We search for a long time before the stamp of a hoof from over by a dried up stream makes us run over to a ledge. I gasp. A whole field of berries and plenty of shelter, just waiting for us to move in. We gallop down and I hope we'll be living here for a long time yet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

On "Comical Dogs" by Landseer

In the living room, our dogs Maria from Spain and and Commander Chihuahua from Scotland, are dressed up in Mother's bonnet and Father's beret. They look adorable!
Commander Chihuahua: "Yip, yip!" (We look ridiculous!)
We decided that it was too cold for them to go without clothing, and now they look snug as 2 bugs in a rug.
Maria: "Ruff!" (Says who?)
No, no! Maria! Commander Chihuahua! That's Mother's favorite bonnet! Oh dear. They're trying to take off the hats.
Maria: ''Yip ruff ruff.'' (If you thought we were cold, a blanket would have sufficed.)
Mother , I think maybe we should give them a blanket instead.
Dogs: '' Bark!'' (Great idea!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On "Girl Rocking a Cradle" by Nicolaes Maes

In our living room, I rock the baby to sleep. Her name is Sally, and mine is Cynthia. Sally was just born last month. She is so cute! The week after she was born, almost all our relatives came over to our place to meet the new baby and congratulate my mother. That's where she got this blanket. It was a gift from Aunt Sarah and Uncle Patrick. The cradle was mine when I was her age. Now I'm 4 years old and I get to be a big sister! When Sally gets older, I can teach her all sorts of things. I love to be a big sister. This morning Sally gurgled at me when she woke up, and I gave her her bottle. She makes a lot of funny noises. Thanksgiving is coming soon and we'll have everyone here again. I hope Sally likes it. It'll be her first Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On "Picking Apples," Part 2

Today, in our kitchen, we helped Mother with the party preparations. We made rainbow paper chains (and Grace got glue in her hair), wrote party invitations (and Pete accidentally blotted his envelope), and helped Mother bake the pie while the apples were still good (and Lauren forgot to wash her hands first). Then Pete wanted to soak some apples in maple syrup for party favors, but he found that we had none left so he decided to use just plain apples. "That's fine with me." I told him. "Grace can't really afford to get any stickier at the moment." We had to get some more apples, since we'd used the ones we got before to make the pie, so we did, and when we came back Grace had leaves sticking to her gluey hair, and Pete was trying not to laugh at the sight of poor Lauren who was covered with dirt. What a day, what a day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

On "Picking Apples" by Frederick Morgan

In the orchard, my younger siblings and I pick apples. Their names are Lauren, Pete, and Grace, and I am Sarah. We are picking the apples so Mother can make an apple pie for the party we're having on Saturday, for my 13th. birthday. Grace holds an apple and looks over her shoulder when Lauren and Pete call out "Sarah, there's a nice juicy one over here.'' I come over and pluck the apple. Then I place it into my basket. I do the same to several other apples, because Mother requires at least 20, and we only have 4. Lauren's sleeve catches on a twig. I run over and untangle it, and she picks the apple she was trying to reach. We now have 10 apples with 10 more to go. Grace picks an apple up of the ground, and places it in the basket. Pete jumps, and snatches 3 more of a very high up branch. Only 6 to go! "Good jump, Pete," I tell him. At last, 1 apple over 20, we walk to our front door so Mother can make my birthday pie.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Picasso's "Child Holding a Dove"

In the garden, my little sister Lucia holds a white dove gently in her hands. The dove coos. Lucia is wearing a white dress and green sash. The dove softly pecks at the sleeve, and flies down to rest on the brightly-colored ball sitting on the grass next to her, and examines the fake daisies on Lucia's shoes. She giggles as it tries to peck one off. Frustrated, the dove flits to her shoulder and coos once again. She turns and waves to me. I wave back. The dove, seeing me, flies over and coos to me, too, before flitting back to Lucia. I realize what the dove is after, and run to the kitchen, returning with a handful of wheat. The dove flies over, and I pass a little to Lucia, so that she can help. She scatters a bit on the ground, and the dove flies down there, eager for its lunch. Speaking of lunch, Mother is calling us for ours. We leave the rest of the wheat on the windowsill, and run to the table for lunch.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Da Vinci's "Lady with her Ermine," Part 2

This morning, Cecilia awoke me with a grape under my nose. ''Get up, silly, it's 9:00. Time for breakfast.'' I grab the grape and trot down the stairs before her. I make the mistake of stopping to take a bite of the grape on the last step and slide onto the floor, gripping the grape hard. I curl at a chair leg, chewing my grape, and waiting for Cecilia to stop fussing about how 'Prince could have been seriously injured' and carry me through the closed kitchen door. She finally does and I finish the grape. We go to the basement when she is done, and I leap onto her desk. Her father starts their algebra lesson. I watch him write strange symbols on the blackboard and Cecilia and her brothers raise their hands and call things like ''74!'' and ''180!'' I grow sleepy. I crawl under Cecilia's desk. When I wake again it will be lunch. I am hoping that there will be grapes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On "Girl with Kitten" by Emily Farmer

In my kitchen, I pour a saucer of milk for my kitten, Shadow, out of an old chestnut-brown jug. I wear a cotton, yellow, dress, with small bits of lace at the neck. Shadow pokes her head out of her basket, sniffing the milk. Her large blue eyes watch the milk slide into the saucer. I set it down on the floor in front of her. She eagerly laps it up. She is very thirsty. Come to think of it, I'm hungry. I pour myself a bowl of porridge and a glass of milk. We both eat our breakfasts quickly, and I wash my hands before running upstairs. I hear my baby brother crying. Shadow tries to follow me, but cannot, because her little paws cannot reach the steps, and she is afraid of heights. I sigh, picking her up and walking slowly to my brothers' room. I will now have to help both of them reach the shelf where the porridge is kept. I sigh again, wishing mother and father would come home from church quickly. Shadow purrs and rubs against my leg. I laugh. ''Not right now, Shadow, not right now.''

Monday, November 14, 2011

On Da Vinci's "Lady with her Ermine"

In the sitting room, I curl up in my mistress Cecilia's lap. She strokes me gently as she listens to her six brothers talking about the approaching wedding of their cousin Stephania in June. Cecilia has a new white lace dress to wear to it, and when she tried it on, from where I was watching on her bedside table, it looked quite lovely on her. She seems tired out from her lessons this morning, but I, who have just awoken from a nice nap taken during her French lesson, am quite awake and begin to softly paw her sleeve. She has forgotten my supper. She looks down and reaches into her pocket, drawing from it a grape, which I hungrily accept. It is juicy and sweet as I sink my teeth into it. She laughs. ''You're such a nutjob, Prince-or grapejob might be a better term.'' Yeah, that's the spot. I fall asleep-again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rat blog: Meet Mickey and Melchisedec

Mickey and Melchisedec are 2 adorable brother pearl-mearle dumbo rats from Lancaster. They love to wrestle, and they live for food. Go anywhere near their cage, and they climb up the side, hoping you have a bag of Pirate Booty, or a piece of vegetable samosa hidden behind your back. They are mostly only awake in the morning and evening. In the afternoon they just give you a look and go back to sleep if you try to wake them up, but an apple or banana slice will always get them up. If you give one of them the first piece, the other comes over and attacks him until you give him his piece, too. Their favorite night of the week is Indian food night, when mommy and daddy share their vegetable samosa. They love fruits and vegetables, fried food, and snack food. They're not allowed to have sweet things, though, unless you count their yogurt-covered rat treats. They have a see-through neon ball that sometimes we let one of them use to run around on the floor. Once the ball's lid came off, and I had to scream for mommy to come help me get Mickey back into the cage. They're so funny!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Landseer's "Princess Mary Adelaide with Nelson"

In our family room, our Newfoundland Nelson balances his dog biscuit on his nose. He is about as tall as I am. I am wearing my warm forest-green dress. It is made of velvet, and there are puffs of cotton around the edges. Nelson sticks out his tongue. I take it to mean that he would like to stop balancing and eat the biscuit. I oblige and take it of his nose and reposition it on his tongue. He gobbles it up. He then goes for the biscuit I have in my left hand. He misses and gets me with his warm, wet, tongue. ''I'm saving this one for your dinner. Get off it,'' I tell him. He gives me a look. I laugh. ''Nelson, honestly!'' He licks me again. I wipe my arm on a towel. Mother calls us for dinner. ''Okay boy, now you can have it,'' I laugh. I run to the dining room, Nelson following close behind. He was probably hoping for some of the steak, the scent of which was drifting out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Seurat's ''The Circus''

At the circus, I sit in the 2nd highest box with my mother. I wear a pink dress and a rose in my hair. Mother wears a light brown top and yellow skirt. We watch a bareback rider dance as she rides a gorgeous white horse. She wears a yellow tutu that spins around her as she dances. An acrobat in a peach jumpsuit does amazing tricks. A clown does the funniest things and pulls on a long golden ribbon. He wears a red vest. The ringmaster cracks his whip and the bareback rider's horse rears up. I am afraid she will fall off, but she keeps her balance! I couldn't have kept my balance for 1 second if that had been me out there. Nor could I have done those amazing tricks that the acrobat did, or all of the funny things the clown did half so well. Next to us, 2 gentlemen in top-hats chat as a parade begins in the ring. I love the circus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Seurat's "La Grande Jatte"

On our trip to La Grande Jatte this afternoon, I sit behind my mother in the shade of a tree by the seaside. She carries an umbrella and wears a maroon hat to match her top, and her skirt is deep purple. I wear a black top and orange skirt, and wear no hat to cover my blonde hair. There are dogs and cats milling around everywhere, and a particularly small dog yips and tries to get away from its mistress. A small girl of about four approaches, holding her mother's hand as they search for a place to stay out of the sun. I pick a flower from the patch of grass to my left. It is very pretty. A large brown dog sniffs at a fan that a lady has left lying next to her. I pick up my own. It is very warm, the perfect day to spend the afternoon at La Grande Jatte.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On Renoir's Two Girls at the Piano

In my living room, my sister Marietta and I practice our piano piece. She is wearing an orange dress, and I am wearing a white one. We have been working on this piece for a very long time. It is called ''Swans On The Lake,'' and it is very pretty. We are going to perform in a piano recital at a friend's house in two weeks, and it is going to be great. It is slow, and sweet, and when I play it I feel that I am a real swan, gliding along on a lake. Our best friend, Lauren, is playing a song called ''The Fox's Den.'' It is a lot lighter and quicker than ''Swans On The Lake.'' It will be very fun to hear all the different pieces that everyone will play. After the recital, we're going to have a party with all kinds of things to do. I can hardly wait for the two weeks to be over and to go to the recital. All our friends will be there, either as the audience or as performers like us. There are going to be some awesome pieces. Marietta and I are going to wash our best dresses for it, and I've already dusted off my pretty black shoes with the silver buckles. Mother is taking us out to get our hair done the morning of the recital, since it is going on at 2:30 in the afternoon. The piano recital is going to go wonderfully.

Friday, November 4, 2011

On Monet's Garden at V├ętheuil

In my cousin Isabella's garden, the sunflowers grow very, very tall. It is like a forest of trees with yellow tops. Sunflowers are about the only thing that Isabella's family grows here. I am wearing my favorite white long-sleeved dress, but it is very hot, and I am wishing I had worn my sunshine-yellow sundress like mom wanted. The garden is right in the back of Isabella's house. I am very hungry. I hope Aunt Sarah hurries up with my grilled cheese sandwich. There is a little doll-sized writing desk in the path. I make a note to ask Isabella if she has noticed it here before. I certainly haven't. Then I see some pretty lilacs. So sunflowers aren't they only things that they grow here after all. There also appear to be ferns and some sort of reddish plants that look as though they could be related to cattails. They are growing from pretty clay vases with interesting pictures on them. My favorite is a yellow one with a black picture of a horse. Then, my stomach alerts me of Aunt Sarah's voice calling me in for lunch. I rush in
to sit next to Isabella and dig into my grilled cheese sandwich.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Dance Opera by Edgar Degas

Backstage, my friends and I practice our dance. We are dancing Swan Lake. I am a swan maiden. Our dresses are puffy and blue, with black sashes. My friends are talking over by the bar. Cecile practices her point. We have been working very hard on our dance. I have butterflies in my stomach. This is my 2nd year with this dance group, but last year we just did a little performance for our parents. This is my first time with a real ballet, but I've practiced a lot and I'm sure it will go just fine. I asked Cecile and Grace over a couple times, too, for group practices. I hear the musicians begin to practice the opening song, and listen hard, so I don't miss my signal. We are ushered to the curtain as the play begins. I wait and watch as Act 1 goes on, and then then Grace whispers ''Come on, Beth, it's time." I swoop onto the stage with the other swan maidens. Act 2!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On "Saying Grace" by Jean-Baptiste Chardin

In my kitchen, I see my mother and sister. We are sitting around the table and we are saying grace. I smell the soup that mother prepared for us. It is my favorite, chicken noodle. I hear the sound of my mother pouring the soup into bowls as we pray. My sister is softly murmuring the prayer. She is tired. I feel the warmth coming from the stove where mother cooked the soup. It looks delicious. I cannot wait to eat. I notice that mother has left a pot on the floor. I tell her so that she does not trip on it. My sister is wearing a pink dress and I am wearing a white one. Mother is wearing a maroon dress and green apron with a white bonnet. My sister has a pink bonnet and I have one like mother's. My sister has hung her drum on the back of her chair. Mother sits. We eat our soup. It is as good as it looked. When we are finished, my sister takes her nap. I stay up and help mother with the dishes. Then I take the drum off the chair and quietly put it down in my sister's room. She is asleep. I quietly tiptoe back down again. Tomorrow I think we are having steak. I hope it is good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rainbow poems

Red smells like a cherry pie baking
tastes like sweet cranberry juice
sounds like a hunting horn sounding a blow
looks like a velvet carpet laid out at a theater
feels like a silk cushion against my cheek

Orange smells like fresh orange juice
sounds like a guitar strumming away
looks like a fruitful forest
tastes like a lollipop melting on my tongue
feels like a feather gently stroking my palm

Yellow smells like fresh fruit
sounds like a robin twittering its song
looks like a beam of sunlight
tastes like a sour lemon
feels like an apple skin swaying across my arm

Green smells like freshly mowed grass
sounds like the wind rustling the trees
looks like a forest with swaying leaves
tastes like a juicy olive
feels like a soft breeze

Blue smells like the ocean
sounds like a clear note on a silver trumpet
looks like a ray of moonlight shining on a lake
tastes like a blueberry muffin
feels like a warm wave washing over me

Purple smells like perfume
sounds like a violin playing a sad song
looks like a lilac bush in winter
tastes like a grapefruit soft and juicy
feels like I'm traveling through space