Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 6, 2008

Family Visit

I’m getting back to revisions after a few days with my sister and her daughters visiting. On Sunday, we made cakes and visited old friends. Yesterday we went to Boston where we watched children climb over Mrs. Mallard and the eight ducklings, a tribute to McCloskey’s beloved picture book sculpted by Nancy Shon A boy’s mom managed to shoo him away long enough to take this picture of us. (“E, do you know how much trouble it is to Photoshop you out of pictures. Now go.”)

We had an Indian food buffet for lunch, then took the subway to get to Harvard’s Natural History Museum. It was fun looking at display cases of birds and mammals, picking out favorites, which were cute and which were creepy. We walked under enormous skeletons of whales, then saw fossils of even bigger prehistoric creatures. By the time we got to the glass flowers, made by a German father and son over a hundred years ago, we were pretty wiped out. I was mostly focusing on the tiny home where the glassmaker kept his pet snail, Lotte, who died a peaceful death at age ten.

Back on the subway, we were crowded among many, including a young man wearing a yarmulke with a Red Sox logo. My sister’s eldest, a student at Northeastern who enjoyed leading us about, stood holding a strap, so that her beautiful back, which is tattooed with “Invictus” was well exposed to two young men who seemed to be Googling the word on a cell phone.

“Why didn’t they just ask me?” she asked. “I’m happy to explain.”

“Maybe that would be too much human contact,” I said.

“Too much female contact,” she amended.

And of course if you tattoo the Latin word for courage on your back and wear a slender summer dress, it’s good not to be shy. And to be able to recite your favorite poem. She’d told me that last week she asked the head of Communications to exempt her from a class so she could add a minor in business.

“I’ll exempt you if you can recite the poem whose title is tattooed on your back,” he said.

She recited William Ernest Henley’s poem ending with “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” and now has time enough to get a business minor.



  1. I tell my students it’s important to memorize poetry. Here’s another reason!
    Good for her! Sounds like a nice trip.
    Good luck with the revision. I’m working with you again today. Not on the porch though–too rainy!

  2. What does she major in?

  3. I absolutely LOVE this story. Your daughter is my kind of person.

  4. What a great story. Love the ducks, too!

  5. Yes, it was a fun trip, and I was glad to know the teenagers were as exhausted as I was! Mostly by Harvard’s many insect displays.
    Glad to have your company revising!

  6. Communications, and I think she’s seeing a few too many grads waiting tables, which is why the double major. She loves Boston!

  7. Thanks, Kate — actually it’s my niece and I get to be proud aunt.

  8. When you visit Massachusetts we will get you to those ducks! There’s always some excitement going on over there. And a good statue is one you can climb on.

  9. ohhh yeah
    Communications is saturated. I think the problem is it might be too generic. So it doesn’t narrow down your competitors well. You don’t seem like you’ve built up an expertise in something.
    This is my theory. 😛

  10. “And a good statue is one you can climb on.”
    This reminds me of a statue near the Christian Science Center downtown. There are these large horses on big blocks. No one will stop you from climbing them, but able to climb them is a different story.
    This is our friend Matt:

    …that’s as far as he got haha

  11. Someday, I’m going to get to Boston and SEE those ducks.
    I love your niece.

  12. Cool picture! Thanks!

  13. I hope you do get to see, and maybe crawl, those ducks. I never get tired of them, and know some of my children’s lit students, too, make a point to see them whenever they’re in Boston. They’re kind of magnetic!

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