Monday, July 30, 2007

Good Quote for the Day

"When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it was not just for our neighbors' sakes that he commanded it, but for our own sakes as well. Not to help find some way to feed the children who are starving to death is to have some precious part of who we are starve to death with them. Not to give ourselves to the human beings we know who may be starving not for food but for what we have in our hearts to nourish them with this to be, ourselves, diminished and crippled as human beings."


- Frederick Buechner

Friday, July 27, 2007

Long Time Coming: The Book(s) Review: Part One

Here are a few reviews from books I've read the past few months. It's taken me weeks to get this written, but there are still a few more I want to recommend. Summer reading! Get to it!

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
We saw the movie shortly after it came out on DVD and I find that I often want to read the book version of a good movie. I expected these stories (for there are actually five full novels and one short story in this collection) to be more childish and turned for a younger audience, yet I found that the humor quite often wasn't necessarily appropriate for kids.

That said, it was well-written, extremely creative and laugh-out-loud funny. I couldn't stop with just one of the stories, but had to keep reading until I had finished the whole collection. The characters were easy to relate to, even when they were aliens. These stories were utterly ridiculous and unendingly inventive. I'd very likely read through this again.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

One of my favorite non-fiction authors is Lauren Winner. I've read every book she's ever written and many of those more than once. She has admitted that the Mitford series was one of the steps that brought her to Christianity and she herself finds this funny. It's not intellectual or deep and fraught with hidden meaning. It's just a lovely story of an Episcopal minister and the flock he shepherds. The life and love of a small community.

The book reads easily and quickly. You can see yourself friends with many of the characters and interested in their daily pursuits. I found myself wanting to plant some of the flowers that the main character was putting into his garden. Plus, I liked that it wasn't too short. I enjoy a book I can read through in an afternoon, but those can also be more forgetful as I haven't spent much time with them.

Poland by James A. Michener

Speaking of a long book...A Michener novel never fails to take me several weeks to finish. The first book of his that I ever picked up was The Source and ever since I have been happily hooked. He follows a few families through decades (and sometimes centuries or more) and traces history through monumental events that you may never have realized were so pivotal.

Every time I finish one of his stories, I search for more information. I want to know more about the histories I just read and I find myself almost wanting to go back to school to study. He finds a way to weave a tale through so many events, so many years and so many people that you could easily be overwhelmed, but you're not. You're just trapped inside the context and folklore and passions and tragedy. And you're very happy to stay there.

Poland did not disappoint. I learned more about Eastern Europe and the lives of the nobility and peasants in a manner that didn't feel like a lecture, but like an epic journey through the past. If this part of history doesn't interest you, there's always Hawaii, one of my other favorites by Mr. M. Next on my list from him: The Covenant, Caribbean and Mexico.

Blindness by Jose Saramago

I loved this book--it was so interesting, fresh and different. The premise is that a man driving down the road is suddenly and inexplicably stricken with blindness. And then it becomes contagious. An uncontrollable epidemic. You can imagine the fear and terror that spread and the resulting governmental insanity. The story progresses in a horrid downward spiral as all those infected are rounded up and kept together in an abandoned asylum. No one to help them, food drops thrown in once a day, riots breaking out amongst the blind.

This was one of those books so well-written that you find yourself thinking it's really happening. When you put it down, you wonder if you'll catch the disease. It's intellectual and thought-provoking, not letting you just absorb the story, but forcing you to think it through. The sequel is Seeing and I'm anxious to pick it up.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is one that I believe I should have read back in high school sometime, but didn't. It's a classic and well-known by many. While I'm not given for conspiracy theories, I did enjoy the writing style and flow of this book. Plus, I always like a futuristic sci-fi story and this delivers such an interesting view of a possible future without books I was engrossed. A world without literature seems so highly unlikely to me. Especially with the advent of blogs and the new type of author that is being developed through this genre, readers are open to more and embracing the written word like never before.

Hubby and I discussed the novel after I read it as he was a fan of Bradbury years ago. It seems that our generation (and a few around us) is prone to questioning everything. To not be content with the information we are given and to want a better explanation for why. A few generations before us, one didn't discuss unpleasant or embarrassing situations, whereas now pretty much everything is open for debate and dissection. What will future generations bring? With texting the main form of communication for today's teen, does real discussion also happen face to face? I have found a couple excellent teen blogs, both well-written and thoughtful. It's just so interesting to wonder what the future will truly look like. I'm still holding out for my flying car.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I'm not even going to attempt to write a review of this book. Heather Anne did it better than I ever could. It arrived in my mailbox (presumably by Owl) Saturday morning and I finished it by Saturday evening. I can't wait to read it again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How Walkable are You?

One of the major reasons we love living so close to the city is the walkable-ness of our location. A corner grocery, coffee shop, parks, restaurants etc within a short walk or bike ride. For example, the other day I set a pot of water on to boil for manicotti and by the time I got back from the store with spinach, cheese and garlic bread, the water had just begun to boil.

Last week I was out in the country doing a bit of garage sale-ing, which I love. Carefully following the signs to the block sale I spent my drive looking at old farm houses, fields of flowers and new developments. It's the old farm houses that get to me. They put the itch in my heart to live in the country.

I grew up on 18 acres of wooded property across from a large Holstein farm. We didn't really have neighbors with which to play and instead I spent my time running through the woods and creating a world of my own.

Every year I find myself looking for more space to plant flowers and vegetables. We added the rooftop garden and just last week I planted a floral 'fence' between our lot and the next. As I was driving to the sales, I yearned after the space. The space to plant any and every flower I could come up with. The space to cultivate a truly productive garden. The space to run and play.
And yet.

And yet I love our neighborhood. I love the park across the street where kids play all day and the crazy ice cream trucks that patrol the roads. We ride our bikes to the hardware store to pick up a part for a project we're working on and stop to get an ice cream cone on the way back. We know the policeman who watches these homes.

Today we ran into a friend on our way home from blueberry picking. She was walking to an appointment, so we gave her a quicker ride there. You don't run into friends driving through the country. You can't walk over to the local coffee shop to sit and read a book while you sip your latte. You can't see the city skyline from your rooftop or hear the summer festivals from your front porch.

Every weekend we save gas by riding downtown for our entertainment or we hit the trail behind the park where we can ride for miles.

Our address scored a 62 out of 100 for how walkable it is. I think that's pretty darn good. It's not possible to get by without owning a car (at least with our current jobs), but there are enough amenities within walking distance to make it so very worthwhile.

I'm sure I'll still get the itch now and then, but there are plenty of things to love about being right here. Besides, who wants to mow a huge lawn anyway?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Two Cats on One Thing


They just have to be right at "petting height."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Appear to Be Getting Chubby...

Here it is: The Four-Month Belly. I think there's something growing in there...

I have one pair of comfortable pants and a couple skirts, but who really wants to shave their legs every day? Surely not me.

However, in a couple days I have a two very exciting shipments coming from Old Navy & Gap Maternity! Hooray! I can't even tell you how much I love online clearances. The clothes are so cheap! Grandmothers-to-be, you are welcome to buy me stuff from there. Just so you know.

I have still been trying to wear my 'normal' shirts just a few more times, but slowly they are all getting packed away in totes for storage. Sigh. I suppose around April it will be like Christmas!

I need some input here ladies. Men, all two of you can tune out. Course, you probably tuned out around the leg-shaving. It just doesn't relate to your life.

I really want to have a gracious attitude about the belly rubbing. But it's not really my favorite thing. I thought it might be cute and I wouldn't mind, but I think I do. I'm not one who likes to be made much of, at least not to my face. I like to be outgoing and chatty and social, but I don't like to necessarily always have attention drawn to me. Does that make any sense? You can talk about how great I am behind my back, but guess I am really bad at compliments. It just seems so weird for people to be reaching out and touching my tummy every time they see me!

I tried the nonverbal approach this morning: crossing my arms over my chest in a quiet "stay away" manner, but that didn't help at all. Someone suggested I rub the other person's belly and see how they like it, but I feel like that would be really rude. How do I have a good response to this? Or do I just suck it up and get used to it? I suppose that's the only real answer, isn't it?

The funny thing is, I'm a pretty huggy person. At least I used to be. What happened to me? Why don't I like hugs any more?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Garden Box

I am horribly in love with my garden box.

Those beans and lettuce are growing like crazy! This week I will probably pick some of the lettuce and start planting some more. There were a couple rows that didn't come up very well. But that's why you can seed it over and over! Tonight for a grilled chicken salad!

And here is the backyard. Full of growing things and weeds too...Ugh, how I loathe to weed.


I have a question for you, dear internets. There is this one corner of my backyard garden...

...and it does not grow well. I've added new topsoil and nutrient-rich soil, but it's just not having much success. This year I left it alone and just added the dirt, mixed it in.

I'm thinking of adding some new herbs to my collection. I've got oregano, thyme and lavender sitting next to my rhubarb and asparagus. (yes, I realize the last two aren't herbs)

You can actually see the productivity of my garden slope towards that corner. The left is very green and grows well and it just declines down to the right. It's so strange.

Any suggestions as to what I should plant or do to do the dirt in my little corner? I think I've got some pretty green thumbs, but this has stumped me. I just want it to be able to be productive and green!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Christmas Cactus in July?


This is the third time this year that I've gotten flowers. December, April & July. Usually there are several blooms, but this time just the one. One lonely little summer blossom.

Same Breakfast Every Morning


Gotta give the baby what it wants. I can't seem to do dairy first thing in the morning, so this is what I make. I've become somewhat obsessive about my egg and toast nowadays.

Sunday mornings I usually only make it out the door with a piece of flax seed toast and organic peanut butter since 20 minutes is my max 'get ready' time.

Here's a question, dear internets...do any of you have a secret for making eggs over easy without breaking the yolk? See, when I put the egg in the middle of my bread I can keep it perfectly, but without the bread I break it every time!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Long Time Coming: The Book(s) Review: Part One

There may be a lot to read through here, but so many of them are so good!

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
We saw the movie shortly after it came out on DVD and I find that I often want to read the book version of a good movie. I expected these stories (for there are actually five full novels and one short story in this collection) to be more childish and turned for a younger audience, yet I found that the humor quite often wasn't necessarily appropriate for kids.
That said, it was well-written, extremely creative and laugh-out-loud funny. I couldn't stop with just one of the stories, but had to keep reading until I had finished the whole collection. The characters were easy to relate to, even when they were aliens. These stories were utterly ridiculous and unendingly inventive. I'd very likely read through this again.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

One of my favorite non-fiction authors is Lauren Winner. I've read every book she's ever written and many of those more than once. She has admitted that the Midford series was one of the steps that brought her to Christianity and she herself finds this funny. It's not intellectual or deep and fraught with hidden meaning. It's just a lovely story of an Episcopal minister and the flock he shepherds. The life and love of a small community.

The book reads easily and quickly. You can see yourself friends with many of the characters and interested in their daily pursuits. I found myself wanting to plant some of the flowers that the main character was putting into his garden. Plus, I liked that it wasn't too short. I enjoy a book I can read through in an afternoon, but those can also be more forgetful as I haven't spent much time with them.

Poland by James A. Michener

Speaking of a long book...A Michener novel never fails to take me several weeks to finish. The first book of his that I ever picked up was The Source and ever since I have been happily hooked. He follows a few families through decades (and sometimes centuries or more) and traces history through monumental events that you may never have realized were so pivotal.

Every time I finish one of his stories, I search for more information. I want to know more about the histories I just read and I find myself almost wanting to go back to school to study. He finds a way to weave a tale through so many events, so many years and so many people that you could easily be overwhelmed, but you're not. You're just trapped inside the context and folklore and passions and tragedy. And you're very happy to stay there.

Poland did not disappoint. I learned more about Eastern Europe and the lives of the nobility and peasants in a manner that didn't feel like a lecture, but like an epic journey through the past. If this part of history doesn't interest you, there's always Hawaii, one of my other favorites by Mr. M. Next on my list from him: The Covenant, Caribbean and Mexico.

Third Class Superhero by Charles Yu

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Blindness by Jose Saramago

I loved this book--it was so interesting and different. The premise is that a man driving down the road is suddenly and inexplicably stricken with blindness. And then it becomes contagious. An uncontrollable epidemic. You can imagine the fear and terror that spread and the resulting governmental insanity. The story progresses in a horrid downward spiral as all those infected are rounded up and kept together in an abandonded asylum. No one to help them, food drops thrown in once a day, riots breaking out amongst the blind.

This was one of those books so well-written that you find yourself thinking it's really happening. When you put it down, you wonder if you'll catch the disease. It's intellectual and thought-provoking, not letting you just absorb the story, but forcing you to think it through. The sequal is Seeing and I'm anxious to pick it up.

The Dark Tower Trilogy by Stephen King

Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is one that I believe I should have read back in high school sometime, but didn't. It's a classic and well-known by many. While I'm not given for conspiracy theories, I did enjoy the writing style and flow of this book. Plus, I always like a futuristic sci-fi story and this delivers such an interesting view of a possible future without books I was engrossed. A world without literature seems so highly unlikely to me. Especially with the advent of blogs and the new type of author that is being developed through this genre, readers are open to more and embracing the written word like never before.

Hubby and I discussed the novel after I read it as he was a fan of Bradbury years ago. It seems that our generation (and a few around us) is prone to questioning everything. To not be content with the information we are given and to want a better explanation for why. A few generations before us, one didn't discuss unpleasant or embarrassing situations, whereas now pretty much everything is open for debate and dissection. What will future generations bring? With texting the main form of communication for today's teen, does real discussion also happen face to face? I have found a couple excellent teen blogs, both well-written and thoughful. It's just so interesting to wonder what the future will truly look like. I'm still holding out for my flying car.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I'm not even going to attempt to write a review of this book. Heather Anne did it better than I ever could. It arrived in my mailbox (presumably by Owl) Saturday morning and I finished it by Saturday evening. I can't wait to read it again.

Cats on Things. Part 3


Cammie on the Marshall.

The Saturday Post

It's raining today and that makes me happier than anything else right now. It's actually chilly out. I have on jeans, socks and a long sleeved shirt. This is probably the first summer I have enjoyed such a thing!

It's not because I don't enjoy being warm and toasty. But ninety degree days have a way of tiring me out and wearing me down. I really don't know if I could live in the south.

Monday it's supposed to be very hot again. And my garden will continue to grow. Today it is soaking up the water and the coolness.

If it gets dry enough later, I'll probably do a bit of weeding. My preggo laziness has resulted in wheat-sized stalks of weeds in my flower garden and the vegetable garden is always in need of weeding.

As an example of my increasing energy and desire to accomplish actual goals, I will be posting every day this week.

You just wait and see. Pictures and thoughts and words, oh my!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Weekly is Ok, Right?

First, a post about me. Since this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I choose.

To update my preggo woes (they're not really woes, but it rhymed) the aching has gone away for the most point. In its place I find headaches and weird blotches on my face. Not really zits, but new coloration anyway.

I honestly don't want to sound at all like I'm complaining about any of my symptoms. I just find them interesting. Some I have for only a day or two and others tend to hang out for longer periods of time. It's so curious.

There have been a few predictions of what the baby will be. Mostly girlish in nature. Though I have a feeling that since everyone else I know is having a girl, I won't get that privilege this time around. All will be told in a few more weeks anyway.

Several friends have offered maternity clothes, which I am ever grateful for. I have only bought a couple normally-sized things that are currently in style which also appear to hold my belly for a good long while.

I'd like to extend a similar offer to those of my non-belly-bursting friends. I am boxing up all of my pants and shirts that aren't going to fit me until sometime next March. (fingers crossed) There will be an open-house-type event here where you can rummage through my clothes at your leisure and choose what you would like to make good use of for a few months. Someone might as well get to wear them! So long as I get them back in the end, you are welcome to them!

Once my camera battery charges, there will be a few growth pictures.

Of my garden. What were you thinking?