Five things Friday – the TGIF edition

1. This has been an excruciatingly long week for me. I have been having one of those days all week. But, it’s Friday, and it’s almost time to go home, so nothing but blue skies are ahead.

2. One of my very best friends is pregnant, and is having a boy! Yay for tiny little over-alls, ball caps and jammies with monsters on them!

3. I finally paid my fine at the library (I swear, the only reason they even let me in anymore is because they need my fines to build an extension), and I just finished The Night Circus, which was awesome. I can also check out books on my iPad, and they automatically return themselves after 14 days. (Take that, library extension planners!!)

4. Sometime this weekend, I hope to win a game of pool against Denver all by myself – meaning, he doesn’t scratch on the 8 ball, and I win by default.

5. Sunday is Father’s Day!! Big hugs to all the fathers and fathers-to-be!

 

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Mojo lost

    You guys, I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately, but I have just been feeling super uncreative. Every time I go into the sewing room, I look around at the mess I will have to clean up before I can really get anything else done, and I just turn around and walk right back out. For the past two months, at least one person in the house has been sick, and it’s wearing me out, all this sniffling and coughing and general malaise. We have probably used a forest’s worth of Kleenex. I’m thankful that none of us had the flu, but I still wish everyone were back to 100%.

    I haven’t posted any books lately, I know, but I haven’t read anything that I wanted to recommend. In fact, I was so unhappy about the way one ended, I almost didn’t want to start another. I almost posted it yesterday, but I didn’t because I knew I would end up ranting about it. You know what, though? I’m totally going to rant about it now. Spoilers ahead!

    Here’s how Amazon summarizes The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa has always felt powerless, useless. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could save his people. And he looks at her in a way no man has ever looked at her before. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.”

    Sounds pretty good, right? The concept wasn’t bad, really, it was the characterization that really annoyed me. Elisa is fat – not just pleasantly plump – she is so fat that she can’t see her feet. The author actually points this out on more than one occasion. Her father and sister are perfect and slim and have swan-like necks. Her mother was also slim and perfect, but she died giving birth to Elisa – probably because she was fat, then, too. She is married off to a widowed King with a six year old son and a mistress – who are all also slim and perfect, by the way. The wedding is a political match, but Elisa still hopes that the King will eventually love her as his wife. On top of all of this, Elisa has a Godstone in her navel, given to her by God on her naming day. It means she has been chosen to perform a task that will…. Well, she doesn’t really know what her task is, and so neither does the reader. The fact that she has the Godstone – something that only appears every 100 years – makes her the target of kidnappers who think she can save their people. The kidnappers live miles away, across a dangerous and desolate desert (yay for alliteration!), and in the course of her being forced to travel with them – because to try to escape would mean certain death – she loses weight. She can see her feet! It’s a miracle!! She becomes sympathetic to the kidnappers and realizes that she might not be able to save them, but she can help them fight. The war planning goes on for awhile, she and some others sneak off to spy on the enemy, she learns more about the Godstone and her task, and of course, one of the kidnappers (Humberto) falls for her. I actually liked this part of the story since Elisa wasn’t constantly comparing herself to all of the other…. Oh wait, yes she was. ALL THE TIME. Even as she was explaining her totally brilliant strategy, she was lamenting the fact that she was fat and clumsy. Finally, FINALLY, Humberto kisses her, and she FINALLY realizes that maybe she isn’t a “worthless princess” after all. Yay! (Maybe.) Part of her strategy is to sneak in to the city and basically blackmail the Prince (Councilman? Mayor? Post Man? I forget.) into helping her. They are caught, of course, and HUMBERTO IS KILLED RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER!!! What the poop??!?!?!?? Of course, she goes on to fix everything, but I didn’t even care because I was so annoyed that Humberto had been killed, I wanted to throw the book. I can’t even… Ugh, the whole thing just ticked me off. The entire story could have happened the exact same way without ever mentioning how anyone looked. I could almost forgive the author for making such a big deal about it, if she hadn’t killed off the love interest. So glad that I got that off my chest!!

    Have a good weekend, everyone! Is anyone planning on watching the Super Bowl?

DIY History

    I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. I think I thought I was going to teach – I dreamed of being Indiana Jones, never mind the fact that he was an archeologist. I wanted to discover something amazing that no one else had ever discovered, just be digging into an ancient stack of books somewhere in the depths of a dusty old library. I wanted to travel back in time and meet Abraham Lincoln, or Mozart. I wanted to be in the room when the Declaration of Independence was signed. I wanted to watch Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. I still want to do all those things, actually, but now I’m a little less starry-eyed, and a lot more practical. I mean, the whole bathing and indoor plumbing thing has sort of grown on me. Regardless, I still love History, and wondering what it must have been like to live hundreds of years ago.

    So imagine my delight when I read an article about DIY History – a project coordinated by the University of Iowa Libraries. UI has scanned thousands of pages of letters, diaries, journals and cookbooks, and has asked the internet at large to help transcribe the scanned documents into searchable text. I started reading the cookbooks, and I couldn’t stop. Yesterday, I read a “medical receipt” which promised to cure the bite of a mad dog. Personally, I think the cure would probably kill one faster than the bite, but someone thought it was important to write down. Some of the older cookbooks use measurements and ingredients that I’d never heard of. One has so many recipes for oysters, I wonder if the author lived on the coast, or just really liked oysters. Some of the recipes are lists of ingredients only, or include instructions like “if too brown they are disagreeable“. Many have no punctuation at all, and others use strange abbreviations. Some are attributed to whomever shared the recipe with the cookbook’s author. The cookbooks are endlessly captivating. I feel like I’m both solving a mystery by deciphering these recipes, and getting to know the person who recorded the recipes. It’s as close to time travel as I’ll ever get, and I love it.

    If you are interested, you can register to help transcribe the documents posted on the UI website. If not, I still encourage you to read some of the documents that have already been transcribed. The Civil War letters are truly like stepping back in time and witnessing the events of the war.

    What fascinates you?

I’m famous!

    You guys, you guys, look! I’m famous! Ok….. not really. But I did participate in a mail art swap over the summer. We were given about six weeks to get our envelopes done and mailed, and the theme was “sweet”. We didn’t have to follow the theme, so I started with vintage hankies. I have a small collection, and I thought it would be neat to use the flap of the envelope as part of a hankie, with the other half draped over the front. I carved some flower and leaf stamps, and I was thinking that I could just stamp a square shape, and fold the paper into an envelope. I didn’t get very far with that idea, but I really liked carving the stamps. I tried to figure out what else I could do with the stamps. I thought about them for a very long time, made a huge mess all over my craft table, and still couldn’t come up with anything.

    I kept coming back to the theme, though. My absolute favorite summer dessert is strawberry shortcake, with strawberry pie as a very close second. I don’t mess around with those nasty pre-made fruit cup things that are usually stocked with the strawberries. I’m a dessert snob, I really am. But if you’ve ever tasted my shortcake, you wouldn’t go back to the pre-made things, either. The recipe I use is my grandma’s, and since she passed away this spring, I really wanted to share her recipe. So, I finally decided that I would carve a couple different sizes of strawberry stamps, and make a basket from card stock to paste over the stamped images. I also wrote out the recipe and sent it to each of my swapees. I’m so glad that I did because I got several emails back from the recipients telling me how much they loved the recipe. I’ll post it, if anyone is interested.

    Thanks, Grandma.

All aboard!

    I was reading my friend’s blog today, and she is participating in a blog “Love Train”. The concept started here, and seems to have caught on at a couple of other
blogs, and since I haven’t posted in mumble mumble days, making a list seems like an easy way to let you all know that I am still alive and kicking. Mostly the kicking part. So here it is, my list of things I love about Fall, and in general:

1. The way the Fall air smells and how the leaves swirl in the wind.

2. High school football games, and watching the marching band at halftime.

3. Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

4. Making soup.

5. Filling the whole house with the smell of something good baking in the oven.

6. Crisp sheets on a freshly made bed.

7. Getting book recommendations from Toby.

8. Mason’s laugh, especially when he’s cracking himself up.

9. Honey Crisp apples.

10. New school supplies.

11. Pen pals.

12. New nail polish.

13. A sit down meal with my family.

14. The last ten minutes before bed when everyone is asleep but me, and anything seems possible.

 

    How about you guys?

So what had happened was….

    You guys — have you noticed that I flake out – a lot – and forget to post anything? Yeah. So.

I read several blogs quite religiously, and I actually get sorta mad when there is no new post for several days. I have no business getting mad, since clearly I can’t manage to post anything here more than once a month, if that. I don’t even know why I can’t manage – I spend the majority of my time at a computer, there are several computers in my house, I can even post from my phone, for crying out loud. I have promised, I don’t even know how many times, be more mindful of this whole blogging *thing*, even if it’s only to post a picture once in awhile. I have downloaded countless blog planners, hoping that one of them will help me remember things that I can post, things that you might be interested in reading. Didn’t work. I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to keep myself focused on the blog, but I’m going to, once again, promise to try.

    In the meantime, I leave you with this: last week, Toby had a baseball game. He’s been hitting relatively well, and it hasn’t been a bad season at all, but he’s been sort of down on himself because he feels like he doesn’t do as well as the other kids, and that the coaches think he stinks. He’s much harder on himself that any one of the coaches could be, and really, the coaches are all just awesome. So, Toby gets up to bat. There are runners on 1st and 3rd. He swings at the first pitch. He probably shouldn’t have, but it doesn’t matter, because he hits the ball, which hits the dirt right in front of the second baseman, but takes a hop, and starts to roll. All the way to the fence. Toby isn’t looking at the ball, he’s looking at the base coaches, just like he should be. They wave him past first to second, then on the third. He slows down on his way to third, probably because he is sure that he was lucky to have made it that far (he does not run quickly, at all, bless his heart). But the third base coach waves him home.

Home run.

The entire dugout is on their feet, the coaches clapping and cheering and messing around like big kids themselves. The players that scored while he was running stand at home plate to give him high fives as he runs in.

He doesn’t realize it at all, but I see how the other kids talk to him, and how the coaches work with him, and I know that he may not be the best player on the team, but he’s the one that everyone looks up to because he never stops trying, never stops encouraging the other kids, never stops holding the team together. I love that kid.