Friday, August 31, 2007

Where $69 will get you.

I am becoming an inventive packer. This afternoon's innovation: using my department's scanner, which has a document feeder, to scan my research notes into .pdf files and save them on a flash drive. I have now transformed several pounds (and many square inches) of paper into megabytes; tomorrow, I will keep this up. Many years ago, my parents bought me an all-in-one printer that has saved me many a time in my teaching career; there's nothing like having a photocopier in one's own house when it comes to class preparation. And I remember having tried to use its scanner to scan research materials into a computer in order to take them to Chicago one winter--but having given up because the whole process was cumbersome and totally ineffective. But HP has come a long way in creating fast, reliable document scanners; once I figured out my process, I was off and running, feeding article after article and essay after essay--and then handwritten scrawl after handwritten scrawl--into the machine. Tomorrow, I will mail two small boxes of books at the international priority mail flat rate, which turns out to be not so much more than the very slow M-bag rate. My goal now is to get the weight of my luggage into reasonable territory--somewhere it's not really used to being, not on research-related trips.

But this afternoon also involved shipping the first box off. Now, with $69 in postage affixed, a cardboard box is making its way toward the eastern seaboard, bearing within it eight crucial items: my Red Hot Mama quilt; my 1930s reproduction quilt; my favorite (fuzzy black cashmere) sweater; three miscellaneous sweaters; one pair of red Mary Jane sneakers; and my green winter coat. When I plunked the box down on the postal counter, Postmaster Chuck laughed at me, just a little. When the postage came up to only $69, I was relieved--happy, even. It's a small amount of money to pay in order to be able to keep using these things, especially the coat. And especially, especially the quilts.

In this case, $69 keeps me home, even once I've arrived over there. That's no small thing. (I feel as though I should be on a Mastercard commercial: here's what's priceless.)

Also priceless: Friday night dinner with my Gambier family, and a walk out into the cool night, all in our early-autumn bundles (some of them borrowed), for ice cream. Encountering my favorite village child, tearing up the road on his bike, apparently alone. "Spencer?" I called out. "I'm not Spencer," he called back, "but I'm Spencer's next-door neighbor!" "Then I should say goodbye to you!" I called back. His parents approached, catching up with him. My excellent friends had stayed down the street, talking with one of my neighbors. This Gambier is one I love: people go out for walks at 10 p.m., and children can ride virtually alone on a dark street without (much) fear. The bookstore is not just a source of ice cream but also a hub, a hum.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Roadside delights.

I don't think we had enough starlings last night. I don't want them to have gotten overshadowed by our finally having seen the eagle.

On my way to Columbus for pre-departure errands today, I spied a sign at the side of the road: "Kitten Very Pretty." Cows cozied to one another in all the fields; the weather was cool and breezy today, and most of the cows lay about on the ground. Not far from here, a younger, smaller cow nudged and nuzzled the face of a larger cow who stood still and accepted this attention. Chickens wandered around in a yard. Pleasures were few, and of a different sort, once I reached my destinations and started rounding up my necessities, but the trips to and fro were good for my ongoing stocking up of what I'll soon be leaving.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


First, because I fell asleep last night before I could remember to post him, an old friend:

Now: this evening marked Try No. 4 in the ongoing quest to rediscover the Kilduff Road eagle. As we stalked up and down the road, into the quarry and back out, beside the beautiful barn and then past it, to the edge of the bridge and then back again, my Clevelander student told me that yet another person had told her today, "Oh, yeah, I've seen the eagle." Everyone (including me, you'll recall) had seen it, it seemed, but that fact did nothing to bring us closer to our goal of seeing said eagle ourselves.

As we stood near the quarry, we spotted an oncoming swarm of starlings, and to me this was some kind of revelation. It was a tornado of birds. It was the sky come to seething. I could have wanted them back over and over, even knowing what a nuisance they can be on the ground.

Three waves swept over us, west to east, before they were gone.

The third wave took a different tack, detouring off to the west again before heading east just as we were about to cross the bridge one last time and go home.

And then, after we spent some long, idle time lolling about on the road, talking through what's happening in these first days of my student's classes and these last days of my being here, I saw a large, dark bird drift into the trees beside the river. We shifted so that we could stare down the river--toward where we saw the heron last night--and I joked that I would not be willing to forge into the trees in order to try for a better look. Finally, we decided to try one more walk toward the quarry, in the hopes that the dark bird would turn out to be the eagle--and would turn out to want to shift to a less shady resting place.

Suddenly--and now, I'm not even sure why it was that either of us was turned around when it happened--the eagle was flying over our heads, out of the woods and across the road and toward the woods further downstream. We both flailed in our excitement. I'm deeply grateful that my camera turned out to be set almost to where it needed to be. Almost. Had there been time, I'd have lengthened the exposure so that his head's white feathers would be more visible. But considering that I could have gotten nothing, I'm pretty pleased.

After he passed us by, he landed in the top of a riverside sycamore and perched there for the rest of our time on that backroad. We waited patiently for awhile, hoping that he would decide to fly back acros sthe road, but he seemed to have gotten comfortable. Or--and we certainly entertained this possibility--he was simply mocking us, up there on his perch. This latter idea seemed plausible to us; perhaps he's been watching us all week.

In any case, seeing him was an unexpected ending to what had seemed as though it was going to be an eagleless outing--though not a birdless one, as we'd already totaled up all the flying wildlife we'd seen (the starlings, ducks, geese, last night's mystery bird, last night's heron, a group of crows, many mourning doves, many other Miscellaneous Small Birds). "I'm keeping my promise," my student said as we approached her car. "I promised him that if he let me see him, I wouldn't keep coming back and bugging him." It seems a fair enough deal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The steady accumulation of small events.

As we're crossing the bridge, heading back to the car after another unsuccessful attempt to find the eagle, we stop to look at the birds we can see. Ducks appear, swimming eastward with the current. A mysterious reddish animal swims along, then disappears altogether. "What's that bird?" she says, looking down the river. I look, and sure enough, a heron stands there in the middle of the river. And so I take its picture, hoping that the zoom will give us a better look at the far bird we cannot reach.

And it does help.

Tonight I'm tempted to anounce that I'm taking a little hiatus from words, but that's mostly because I'm so blasted tired.

Meeting the accountant today was very much a right move, as was heading back out into the county to search for that bird, even though we didn't find him.

I am saying some mighty prolonged goodbyes. I'm also starting to look forward, with ever-greater intensity, to my new landscape.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is it you?

When 7 p.m. rolled around, my Clevelander student and I ventured out once more to find the eagle. Tonight, she came prepared, armed with directions from my department's resident bird-watcher. We parked the car and went peering up into trees, seeking a nest anywhere--to no avail. With the tiniest bit of trespassing, though, we espied a dark shape atop a huge hill of stone.

Moments later, it flew away (and seemed improbably light as it swept off its perch--though it does look eagleish here). And so: this image was the best we could do today. We will try again tomorrow.

Perhaps--and really, it has to be said--we're training to be more eagle-eyed ourselves. Perhaps this is the other meaning of eagle-eyed: to be eyed so as to see the eagle.

It was in fact a day of ongoing, low-key transformations. Tomorrow, I see an accountant for the first time in my life; I find this prospect strangely intimidating. I am finally finishing reading some books. I have finally begun making small stacks of things I will need to pack, and remembering the weird magic tricks that make a daily life's worth of stuff squeeze into two relatively small containers.

Things in general move on at their usual slowly swifting pace--part of the reason that our time spent walking up and down a dusty Ohio backroad was so welcome tonight.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

That elusive eagle.

I've worn myself out again; it seems likely that I'll keep this up until I'm on another continent in just over a week. Today's surprise: finding out who else will be there over the course of the year, including someone nearly my age who works in my historical period. Now the trip is becoming real. Other people are also packing and preparing--other people will be there working and writing--though when they'll all show up, I have no way of knowing. A frisson of first-day jitters--appropriate enough, given that classes start here in about seven hours--as I find myself thinking, will they like me? will people want to eat dinner with me? will I want to compete with them? will I feel worthy? That frisson passes (it has grown tiresome after all these years) and is superseded by the more appropriate one: will I be able to pack all the things I want to take? That answer is almost certainly no (and rightly so), but I'm going to make a valiant effort.

This evening, I took a break from trying to finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I like but have had enough of by now, and ventured out with one of my Clevelander students to try and spot the Knox County eagle. We had no luck, even though we tried to give him a lot of time to manifest: I took some pictures of random details; we parked the car and took a walk (against a strange rural Ohio sonic backdrop of maybe-gunshot and small explosion-type-things); I photographed the sunset; we sat in a parking lot. Alas, no, and so we ended up at Friendly's. We will try again tomorrow night, when I also hope to pay a visit to the low-lit prairie. I am beginning to gather up my places and pack them, too. They're easier to manage than shoes and research notes and sweaters.

I plot my clothing for the flight over: will have to wear the harness boots, as they are too heavy either to pack or to ship. Will have to wear jeans, because the plane will be cold. Will need a pullover of some sort, because the plane will be cold. Will have to layer, clearly.

Tonight's low temperatures here will be nearly the low temperatures of the place to which I will soon be going.

I have going on the brain and yet am still holding on tight to being here--though I did finish cleaning out my office this afternoon. There are all these books still to be read, these notes still to be made, these tasks still to be finished before I leave. Or so it seems. In reality, most of them will simply go with me and get resumed Over There.

And I owe you (some of you more than others) two good, long stories about ways I was surprised this weekend--first with one of the weirdest mystery trips of my life on Friday night (weird not because of the destination but because of the utterly bizarre route that led us there) and then with the arrival of not just my parents but also my brother in Gambier yesterday. My stomach has gotten a workout with all the eating and the laughing and the being forced to ride around in a car with my eyes clenched shut. And I now know that this apartment can contain a party--and that its kitchen is actually far better suited than the one in the old house for that party-inevitability, Kitchen Standing. But these are stories for tomorrow--unless, of course, something happens tomorrow that (as befits the Cabinet's name) calls my writing in another direction.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Keep feasting.

Your eyes, that is. Keep feasting your eyes. It's a good and tiring time over here in the village these days.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mysterious ways yet again.

There's a whole story to tell about my evening, but as so often happens, I'm exhausted. Enjoy this bit of Fredericktown, OH, until I can give you an account.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pass the mic.

It is entirely true that one of my reasons for teaching is that I am a ham actor waiting to happen. Or maybe a rock star, similarly waiting to happen. These days, put a microphone in front of me, and I'm in love: with the stage, with the lights, with the audience. With the applause and even the cheering. Did I bring the house down? Yes, I kind of nearly did. And yes, I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Field, fence, cattle beast.

Apropos of nothing, really (other than the fact that I saw a huge horned bull collapsing himself to the ground the other morning, as I was leaving Indiana).


I love this idea. Gambier doesn't have meters, but we do have parking spaces...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Never enough.

It's at the end of the day--when I'd be curling up near her if I were where she is--that I miss her most. She used to growl whenever we'd even touch her with our feet from under the covers (as in: dog on top of covers, feet under covers, feet nudging dog). I finally figured out that if I put a hand on her--as if to say, "That's not a disembodied appendage about to hit you"--I could move her around as necessary without eliciting a growl. Sometimes without even waking her up. She is such a dog. You can almost tell it just by looking at her eyebrows.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ain't no sunshine.

How on earth do you leave behind a dog who can't hear you say that you hope she'll still be alive when you come home from your research year? Especially when she's spent part of the morning stretched out alongside your laptop, as though it were her body pillow. (Had I not tried to get a picture of her, she wouldn't have awakened. Only on rare occasions do I rue the 50mm lens--but this was one of them, and there was no way to change.)

(And here's after she busted me, and right before she left the room:)

Especially when you're returning to this weather

and this view out your kitchen door.

You just do, that's all, even though it takes you a good three hours longer to leave than you'd planned.

Thank goodness for excellent friends, an excellent dog, and plates full of excellent food.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Things with petals, things with blades.

After we saw Becoming Jane but before I fixed a sink sprayer and then had Noble Roman's pizza with my mother, I became briefly obsessed with this aluminum bloom in a parking lot. My mother, because she's wonderul that way, obliged by driving me around in said parking lot until I had the shots I wanted, neither of which I'm including here but one of which you may see tomorrow. For tonight, echoes.

This time tomorrow, deo volante, I will be back in my bed in Gambier, which (in a not-so-subtle Freudian slip) I have been calling Ithaca ever since I left town more than a week ago. It's getting to be that time again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The day's mechanics.

"In case you want to know," my father said a few minutes after I stumbled downstairs at 10 a.m., "the mystery trip will commence at 11 a.m." I poured myself a cup of coffee, read the comics, and stumbled back upstairs for a little more Walden, then got ready with plenty of time to spare.

An hour later, we were on the outskirts of Indianapolis, where we ended up at a Chipotle (where neither of my parents had eaten but which my brother and I tend to adore) and then at a camera store I haven't visited since I was a teenager. I'm happy to say that I will be taking a monopod into my transatlantic life. After a few hours at one of the city's most chi-chi malls, we headed homeward with our various purchases--red bowls, Leatherman tools, a hip flask, silicone hotpads, my monopod--and my father and I got to work, fixing my driver's door rear view mirror.

My beloved Lexingtonians' street is very narrow, and they've also turned out to have a new batch of neighbors who seem to be fraternity guys (or similar). Sometime during the days I was visiting, someone--perhaps those new neighbors, perhaps some random wayward driver--hit my wing mirror and shattered its glass, something I didn't realize until I was leaving and checked said mirror to see whether the street was clear before pulling out. By the time I made it to Indiana on Wednesday, I'd realized that the damage wasn't confined to the shattered mirror but also involved the mirror's housing. Forutnately, I am the child of incredibly crafty parents.

Within an hour of our beginning the project, my father and I--but mostly my father--had disconnected and disassembled the mirror, epoxied and fiberglassed the damaged bits back together, covered the shattered glass with a substitute mirror surface that will at least get me home safely (and, to be honest, will probably be the car's driver's side door mirror until I am home again next summer), and reinstalled the whole thing. In the process, we even found a tiny, fragile mud daubers' nest hidden behind the mirror. My father worked some wonders with chunks of the butyl rubber he keeps in the garage for occasions just like this one. And now I have a functional mirror again. My financial contribution to the project was $9.52. My father's was the cost of the epoxy and the mini-bolt of fiberglass. Not too bad, I'd say.

For the rest of the evening, we kicked back for The Bourne Identity. I suspect that I've said nothing about my love of the Bourne series, a love which has only increased now that I can see how much the third film echoes tiny details from the first one. I want to have a film fest.

But for now I find that another day has ended. Sometimes I am surprised by the swiftness with which that happens.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beautiful scents.

Alas, I have to keep tonight's writing far shorter than I'd like: I seem to have developed some kind of elbow injury (a combination, I think, of an almost inevitable typing-related repetitive stress injury and the aftermath of my enormous enthusiasm for holding the baby earlier this week). All day, I have tried to force myself to type with only my right hand, especially while I'm icing my left elbow. But I'm going to break my own rule for a few minutes.

The dog is restless tonight. Because temperatures finally plummeted here, we've opened the windows, and in has flooded an incredible spiced scent. Just as the dog gets settled down on my bed, another wave of this scent rolls in. She stands up on the bed and looks at the dark hole that is my bedroom window at night. She climbs down from the bed and wanders over to check for a clearer read on just what's perfuming the air. She's getting very few minutes of this position, in which I captured her last night:

She has now moved to the hallway, perhaps seeking respite from those dastardly tempting scents. When she returns, she will stand near the foot of the bed and eye it regretfully, as if remembering all those years when she could dash up the stairs, race into my room, and catapult herself onto the bed, all in a blur of black fur and frenzy. And I will gesture to her to climb up, and she will wait for me to get up and give her a two-armed hoist back into her quilt nest, where she will cross her front paws and I will stroke her bone-sleek back as she sighs back into sleep.

When my parents and I returned from our lovely Italian dinner (replete with a delicious Renato Ratti Nebbiolo-Ochetti), I spent some time in the backyard, photographing my mother's flowers. For a moment, the dog didn't know who I was, crawling around near our patio. She let out with barking I could hear all the way through the glass patio door--first because she thought I was an intruder, and then because she didn't know why I was outisde without her.

Now she is snoring away at my side, settled for now at least.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sleep, sleep.

At about 2 a.m., my dog started to pant on my bedroom floor. She hit her fourteenth birthday sometime this week (though we don't know exactly when she was born, my mother reminded me this evening that we've always called it August 14), and she's just as deaf as before, and now measurably slower, too. When I arrived at my parents' house yesterday evening, the dog yelped at getting to see me again, then instantly started demanding that I scratch her dog lips (which I am no longer allowed to do because she has allergies and sores and things). After a few minutes, she wandered off to nap before her nightly dinnertime table-begging.

The temperature here is nothing as bad as, say, Tennessee, where my brother is--and where they're hoping for a cooling spell that will take them back to the low 90's during the day. But it's been steamy here, and somehow my old bedroom has never been able to get as cool as the rest of this mercifully air-conditioned house. Right about the time the dog started panting on my floor, then, I realized that I, too, was miserable. And so we decamped for the family room.

Arming myself with a flat sheet and my bed pillow and book, I took up residence on the couch. The dog paced for a short time before circling and dropping to the floor. We both kicked off to sleep, but we stayed restless all night. At some point, the dog labored her way up onto the couch and found herself a spot between my feet, but my shifting to try to accommodate her in some sustainable way caused her to clamber back down to the floor.

Though I spent the night at arm's length from sleep, I found myself weirdly unable to nap during the day--too restless, too distracted every time I closed my eyes. In this, I am not unlike the youngest woman of my acquaintance

whose mother granted permission for her child to be one of the only exceptions to my general rule of not putting my loved ones' pictures up in the Cabinet. (It's just too good and joyful to keep to myself.) All day, I thought about the wacky glee of this picture--and of the whole photo shoot that was its context. I believe that I am experiencing something like a baby hangover: even while I was sleeping on the couch last night, I found myself feeling like imitating her gestures. I miss being able to make scrumpshing sounds at her cheeks and putting my nose in her mouth and helping her rediscover (over and over again) the joys of sucking her fingers and experimenting with getting her whole hand into her mouth. I miss offering her her rattly caterpillar and seeing her huge eyes early in the morning. And to stop thinking about my trip to see her and her parents feels dangerously close to starting to think about what and how to pack for my transatlantic jaunt. And so I simply hover. (Though I did learn about M-Bags and refresh my memory of Royal Mail's international rates for packets of printed paper today, so at least the printed and bound part of the move is feeling less daunting.)

By midday I had decided that the gig was mostly up and that my best course of action would be to read Walden and other assorted books until I fell asleep. And if I didn't fall asleep in the afternoon, I'd try again at a relatively early time of night. And this is what I'm about to do, with the help of a comfortably snoozling (and apparently cool) dog.

And, of course, with one more look at that lovely small child's happiness. I hope you all get to make a face like that one every day, for one reason or another.

Perhaps--I can only hope that this is so--I managed through some fairy auntie trick to haul all sleep woes into my own person and take them with me out of Kentucky. It's so foreign to me to have trouble sleeping that I've been flummoxed by my halfhearted attempts to think up other reasons for my being this tired and this unable to doze. The heat broke today, and I have several more days before my next spell of driving, and my belly is full of the dinner I whipped up for my parents, so I'm hopeful that tonight will have me back to my normal oblivious slumber.

(But seriously: look at that outlandishly joyful little face. Try it out and see if you can keep from feeling just a little bit merrier.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the road again.

Note the white sky in Indiana. It really is that hot here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Curtain games.

Come, let me put you in your green stroller, and let's stroll around your house. While we go, I will sing you a song. Now we're rolling through the living room, I'll sing. Now we're rolling through the dining room. Do you have your caterpillar rattle with the funny nodules that crinkle or squeak? By the end of the night, you'll know how to put it on your wrist and wave it around. You'll spend our dinnertime pulling it up and up your arm, trying to get it closer to your mouth. You will find this experience of gripping something and pulling it novel, and intoxicating. We will watch you through the voile as your eyelids sink so low that we're not even sure you're still awake, and yet your hands will be busy tugging and tugging. You will pull the rattle onto your arm and then somehow pull it off--a thing you couldn't do a few hours ago--and you will be busy, or asleep, or both.

Did I mention that you will be behind the voile curtain by this time? How is it possible that your favorite toy might be the dining room curtains your parents picked out? I will roll the stroller up beside the windows and waft the curtain out so that it settles down over the stroller's side and makes you a little tent within the dining room. And then I will join you under there, and we will play games while your parents cook dinner in the kitchen. Whoo! I will say as I give the curtain a toss and let it fall back down again. Whoo! I will say again and again, making the curtain drift. After awhile, I will play another game. Now I'm inside your curtain tent, I will tell you, ducking in. Now I'm outside your curtain tent, I'll say after I duck out. Now I'm inside your curtain tent. Now I'm outside your curtain tent.

And you will look up with your blue eyes wide, and you will open your mouth in the loose pucker and then the gummy grin you make when delight bubbles in you. The curtains have you fixed and fastened just as surely as your inability to go anwhere does. You will wave your arms and curl and kick your legs until your purple burping cloth has crumpled under your foot. When we need a new game momentarily, I will play where's the baby? ... there she is! by covering your face and uncovering it, over and over, alternating up your face and down your face so that your hair is always correcting its direction.

When it's time for dinner, it will seem like almost the most natural of things to drape the curtain over your stroller and leave you to your own devices for a little while. When I peek in at you, I will disguise it as another game: now I'm inside your curtain tent. Whoo!

At the end of the night, I will realize that I smell like you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Story time.

There was a time when I arrived in Lexington and promptly received an empty fortune cookie. Today was different: by the time we rolled up at a local shopping mall's Chinese restaurant, all three of us venturing women were ready to eat, and by the time the fortune cookies arrived, my beloved Lexingtonian and I were ready to share. We decided that either of these could suit either of us right now, and so I pulled out the camera (with which I'd been documenting her daughter all afternoon) and deployed some unnecessarily shallow focus to capture what we'd been told. (For the record, I'm the one taking the big journey; she's having the happy adventure.)

Now that the day is nearly over, I can reflect on yet another way to understand having been told that big journeys begin with single steps. At about 8:45 p.m., the baby to whom I was reading Fuzzy Bee and Friends yet again began to melt down, and while general fatigue was the general culprit, my attempts to engage with her overenergetically were a local catalyst, leaving me to reflect on how difficult it can be for me to be patient. I keep thinking that I'm seeing things through the baby's eyes, but in so doing, I keep forgetting that the baby's brain, like all brains, needs time to process vast tracts of new information. And for her, nearly all information is new information. And so it is that the baby and I spent much of the day in overstimulation mode, especially once we discovered a new game: Kiss the Squeaky Duck. This game is particulary sweet given that she does not yet know how to kiss things and thus makes a face like a tiny bird opening its beak when she wants to give a kiss as well as receiving one. The Squeaky Duck (and the Squeaky Cardinal) are both happy to oblige when she makes the face. As am I.

In the morning, to be sure, we spent some time just chilling on the floor, feet in the air and arms waving--all four feet and all four arms--and then kicking back in the Boppy, which the baby's father has dubbed the Baby Barcalounger. This kid reclines in style. So, it's not that I'm incapable of letting her rest. I just get excited enough at the sight of her curiosity and her giggly delight that I forget to let her rest often enough. And once her meltdown started this evening, my anxiety that I was doing a wrong thing with the baby started to creep upward, even though I was able to hop to it, changing her diaper and getting her into her SwaddleMe (and what an invention that thing is).

What calmed us all, though, was the beginning of the baby's night-feeding and its accompaniment, her nightly story time. This routine is one I have long admired in my beloved Brooklynite's family: the last step in their son's bedtime rituals is that all three of them (and me, too, when I'm in town) sit down and read two books--whatever he's obsessed with at the time (for awhile, Goodnight Moon; on my most recent visit, The Wheels on the Bus) and then another one that his parents want him to know. Almost anything that exposes anyone to books puts me in a place of deep comfort, which is why the baby's new cloth books have me so excited for her: she's getting to handle her own books even sooner than I'd hoped. But the idea of babies' associating bedtime with reading aloud and family togetherness just makes feel me deeply and restfully happy, as though at least something is going right somewhere.

When my beloved Lexingtonian's excellent husband sat down on the nursery's glider's ottoman and began to read Goodnight Moon, I started settling just as much as the nursing, quieting baby. When he switched to The Very Hungry Caterpillar--a book that he read to her while she was in utero, from week 20 onward, and that he reads many nights now--I was enchanted: it's a book I read once or twice, probably in my long-ago babysitting days, but haven't revisited in anything like the way I've returned to Pat the Bunny. It's a beautifully rendered book, from what I could see over my friend's husband's shoulder: the colors are lovely, and the book design is clever. Tonight, the baby wasn't in any position to see the images or the pages' arrangement. But I love the idea that these words she's been hearing for some 31 weeks now were an integral part of her settling sleepward tonight.