Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 days


For Lent this year, my son's Sunday school teacher has him on a "SecretAgentSpyMission" to do kind things for others and acts of thanksgiving.  When I caught him sweeping up his graham cracker crumbs after his snack (without being asked), he said it was his mission for the day. This morning's mission apparently was not to "get sent off line" at school. Apparently his Sunday school teacher is onto something.
 
I have my own mission this Lenten season - being present. I suppose this means turning off the car radio while I drive, listening to my kids without making a to-do-list in my head, eating while sitting in a chair (preferably at a table), breathing to hear myself breathe, and praying. Since I always need a way to focus on the last one, I'm turning to Ignatius - by way of Tim Muldoon's The Ignatian Workout for Lent.

Each day's exercise has a scripture reading with reflection, and suggestions for prayer and action. This sentence felt relevant today:  "Our faith is that God knows us better than we know ourselves, because we can only see what happens moment to moment."  Perhaps it was because my mind was already mulling these other words I played for my students' exam today:
           
 "Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever." 

I guess for me, the whatever category is God. Most days, if I'm present.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Baby Name Book for My Sister



No, Mom, she isn't pregnant. But one day she may be. And have I found the book for her:

Hello, My Name is Pabst. Baby Names for Nonconformist, Indie, Geeky, DIY, Hipster, and Alterna-Parents of Every Kind by Miek Bruno and Kerry Sparks

A mere selection of my favorites:

Names that will grow into a mustache
Otto, Asher, Ansel, Muz, Thurm, Dixie, Lorraine, and Fay 

Names that kick ass on the roller derby track
LaRue, Darla, Crimson, Hellenor, Renegade, and Saucy

Names for loitering around the coffee shop
Lila, Miles, Charlotte, Walt, Edie, Hattie, Etta, Venti, Latte, and Melitta

Names that get the party started
Vinyl, Audio, Noize, Mixer, Epic, and Daft 

Baby Saucy, we can't wait to meet you. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"yes, Prada, Converse, no, frown, frown, smile, Paris"*



Usually when I'm reading I find a turn of phrase or sentence that I want to remember, mark, or ruminate. I may dog-ear the page, write it on a scrap of paper which then gets stuffed in another book as a bookmark, or forget and spend a long time scanning the place on the page where I think it appeared. Not anymore. When reading via Kindle, now I can just highlight the phrase and it gets saved to "My Clippings." Voila. 
 
I've been so spoiled by this feature that I find myself wanting to swipe and highlight everything. When I went here, I found myself wanting to highlight various images and notes on the paintings. I had to settle for a ballpoint and scribbled "legs colder than arms" on the back of the exhibit ticket.
  
Ironically, it was pre-Kindle, that I read The Circle by Dave Eggers. His novel about a social-media-world gone wild has me second-guessing every "like" on Facebook, every picture that gets uploaded to Instagram, and now, every, book I put on the Kindle. And all this posted on a blog. Sigh. 

Currently I am reading The Infatuations by Javier Marias (translated by Margaret Jull Costa). Ponder-heavy, this book is not a quick read. However, once the narrator discovers her lover might be involved in the murder of his best friend (in order to woo the friend's widow she admired from afar at a coffee shop no less), the pace picks up. This one falls in the rumination category - thoughts on death, fate, friendship, strangers, and relationships abound: "yet we would give anything sometimes to stay by the side of the person we rescued from an attic or a clearance sale, or won in a game of cards."

Today on the radio, I heard an interview with Luke Barr. His new book Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste focuses on his great-aunt (Fisher) and the culinary landscape of America in the 60s and 70s. Already highlighted: "but the starting point for so much of the contemporary story is the epochal shift that took place at the end of the 1960s, when previously unquestioned European superiority and French snobbery lost their grip on American cooking." It's in the queue. 


*The title is a phrase from Eggers' The Circle. I forget to mark it and couldn't find it when I went back to look for it. Luckily a Google search for "smile, smile, frown, Paris" came through...


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"My husband thought you were a bear"


Though some of the quirkiest reads of 2013 were chosen based on recommendations found here and here, most were found as I browsed the "New Books" section of the library. Sadly, since receiving my Christmas present of a Kindle, I haven't been to the library to browse, except virtually.

I have to say browsing through a list of ebooks requires even more persistence and craftier search parameters than walking down a row of books with one eye on the titles and the other on my impatient kindergartner. However, I did happily happen upon Laurie King's series about a female scholar who happens to be married to Sherlock Holmes. The game is afoot for 2014.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
The Elephant Keepers' Children by Peter Hoeg and Martin Aitken
Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles
Love is a Canoe by Ben Schrank
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
What It Is by Lynda Barry
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us: Stories by Laura van den Berg

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Always Winter and Never Christmas

Reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe intermittently over the past few months, my son and I finally arrived at Chapter 10. At this point in the story, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Lucy, Peter, and Susan have fled the beavers' den. Since their brother Edmund has snuck away to tell the Witch of their whereabouts, the children are especially eager to get a head start.   

After walking, walking, and walking, and pad-pad-padding through the moonlit snow, they finally rest in a cave. After a brief nap, Mr. Beaver goes out to investigate.  When the others hear voices, they fear he's been caught.  However, when he appears moments later, he hasn't been speaking to the Witch at all, but to "a huge man in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest."

The children, seeing Father Christmas, become solemn.  They learn that his appearance signals that the Witch's power is getting weaker, but seeing the presents he has for them, they understand the battle is not over.  Peter receives a shield and sword, Susan receives a bow and horn, and Lucy receives healing medicine and a small dagger. Finally, he brings out (perhaps the best present of all when you are standing in the snow in the middle of the night and humbled by such important presents) "a large tray containing five cups and saucers, a bowl of lump sugar, a jug of cream, and a great big teapot all sizzling and piping hot."  With a "Merry Christmas" and "Long live the true King!" Father Christmas and his reindeer dash out of sight.  

Lest the reader be getting choked up, Lewis closes the chapter with Mrs. Beaver fussing over the tea and thankful she remembered to bring the bread knife.

Perhaps we will make it to the end of the book before next Christmas. Some things are meant to be savored.