Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 30!!!!!

30. List everything in your purse right now.

I was about to list everything in my BIG purse but that's more of a diaper bag containing mostly things for Blueb. My actual purse is a little wristlet so let's take the easy route.

  • A wallet, which is a simple handmade fabric pouch with a snap that came along with a gorgeous handmade diaper bag that my friend Giggles Murkowski* gave me when I was pregnant with Blueberry. We usually use that diaper bag as a library book bag, but sometimes as a diaper bag when I want to streamline our trip and impress people with my wonderful style. 
  • medical insurance cards for me and the Blueb
  • driver's license
  • stamps
  • Java Train Cafe frequent diner card
  • debit card for our old bank (must cut up!)
  • debit card for our new bank
  • $50.25 cash
  • Herberger's receipt
  • Visa card
  • cell phone (the old kind, not a smartphone)
  • car key, house keys, and keys to unknown locks
  • lower case "e" keychain
  • green glass tile keychain
  • Rainbow grocery card
  • library card
  • Nelson Cheese and Deli frequent buyer card
  • key to the truck with a big green ribbon tied to it (must return to key box!)
  • pen
  • tin of Altoids smalls
  • bareMinerals lip gloss in Sangria - the only reason I ever go to Sephora and the most I have ever paid for a makeup item ($15). It's quite similar to the lip gloss I bought from a shop in Mendocino and wore on my wedding day. I asked the associate at Sephora to match it as closely as possible, and she did great. I love it and this is my third vial.
  • Kohl's credit card (must activate!), $20 Kohl's cash expiring this Sunday, and several "15% off entire purchase" Kohl's coupons which expire at various times, plus a coveted "20% off entire purchase" which expires next Wednesday, all wrapped in a rubber band. I plan to shop as soon as Stanley prints out and brings home the "$5 off purchase" coupon that arrived via email. Kohl's is going to pay me to take their merchandise.

Hooray! Done with the challenge! That was fun.

Things I gained from this challenge:

  • I forced myself to write less than I wanted to, which was good because I was able to get the posts out on time without too much stress.
  • I got into the habit of blogging and thought of a few topics I want to write about soon. We'll see if these posts materialize. For example, a sonogram should appear soon. By the way, we'll find out if Peachy* is a boy or girl next weekend!
  • I got to hear from many of you in your comments and email replies, and that was nice.
  • I got to think about myself a lot. I love thinking about myself.
*Names changed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 29

29. Someone’s Facebook status you can always count on to annoy you.

Well hell-O downer question! I already mentioned the types of Facebook statuses that annoy me as part of my answer to Day 1's question, and I see no point in picking on a particular person (it wouldn't be you). So I'm going to hijack today's question and instead write about a subject that I find much more positive and uplifting. It's a nonprofit organization directed by my friend Kate* called Spirit in Action (SIA). SIA gives money to people in Africa to help them start a business. Check out that link for a great website and especially the blog that Kate writes about the good things that are being done with the donations. You can also like SIA on Facebook for inspirational quotes and updates.

At a Spirit in Action party/benefit this past Saturday Kate asked me to tell everyone why I chose to give, and this is the gist of what I said:

There are four main reasons that I give to Spirit in Action.

1. Long-term approach: Spirit in Action goes beyond feeding the hungry to planting seeds in communities for future development and prosperity. The grants are given to the poorest households in a community who have the most skills and potential for success in business.

2. Freely given: It's wonderful that these are grants, not loans. I also like the stipulations that go with the grant. It makes good business sense that a certain percentage of profits gets reinvested in the business, and that the business owner pays it forward in their community when they are successful. It's yet another way to spread prosperity in the community.

3. No preaching: I really like the non-evangelical approach to passing the spirit of God through good works. The grant recipients aren't required to express or change their religious stance.

4. Bona fide: I feel like it's an advantage that I know Kate, and that she has firsthand knowledge of where the donations are going. Sometimes I worry about other nonprofit organizations because I can't see behind the scenes to know for sure that my gift is being used for good.

In short, I get a strong positive feeling about Spirit in Action every time I talk to Kate or read about it, and that's why I felt moved to donate. You can donate by going to my blog (if you're not there already), and finding the Spirit in Action donation form on the right side of the blog. Or, donate through the Spirit in Action website.

*Names changed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 28

28. Five things within touching distance of you right now. 

  1. A cup of Taylor's Irish breakfast tea with milk and sugar
  2. A red box of kleenex
  3. Blueberry's comb
  4. Blueberry
  5. This mousepad that I made from a photo I took two Springs ago:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 27

27. The last person who texted you. 

It was last May. I'm not a texter. We cancelled our unlimited texting to save money so now we only use it under special circumstances. It was from my niece, Terri* who lives in CA. We were in CA, driving up from the bay area to visit them and I had texted her to let her know we were close to their house so they could have the gate open for us. So she texted back, "Yeah! Do u need directions?"

At first I thought, nope! Then I thought, might as well call her just in case. Then I talked to her and learned to my horror and mild embarrassment that we were COMPLETELY on the wrong side of town, heading down the wrong 2-lane highway, in the opposite direction of their house. I just got it mixed up in my head and I was overconfident because we had been there before and I grew up in that tiny town, for pete's sake. 

*Names changed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 26

26. Your first celebrity crush.

These questions were not designed for me. 

When I was little we watched Bonanza re-runs - I think it was on Saturdays after cartoons but I may be remembering incorrectly. I had a crush on Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts).

I found out that Pernell Roberts was guest-starring on some other show so I was all excited and made a special point to watch it. I was surprised, disappointed and a bit horrified to find that he looked like this:

Thus I eventually pieced together the fact that Bonanza was an old show and the man I had a crush on no longer existed. It was a valuable lesson, I guess. Not really.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 25

25. Talk about your siblings.

Don't get me started!

My sisters are Janis*, Jasmine* and Lotus* and my brother is Wyatt*. I share a mother with Janis and Jasmine, a father with Lotus, and both with Wyatt.

Janis is 13 years older than me. She is the accountant for a county district attorney's office and also enjoys gardening and raising animals such as goats, sheep, chickens, and turkeys. If not for her, I probably wouldn't have gone to college, because I was lacking a sense of direction at that time and afraid to fill out the applications. So she gave me one application for a nearby school and a pen, and made me sit at the table and fill it out. Thus began a long, long education.

My sister Jasmine is 12 years older than me. She is a draftsperson for a construction company, and also helps to run her local chapter of Slow Food USA (link). She's a food and wine lover and often sends me packages with very very random objects in it, such as a parrot flag, some yummy olive oil, and a penny. She has given me fond memories of camping trips on the coast, yard sale and thrift store shopping, and helping me repaint and decorate my bedroom when I was a teenager. We painted it a soft dusty pink, and put in a futon with fushchia flowers on a gray background. It was stunning.**

My sister Lotus is also 12 years older. She has the distinction of being part of my first memory (see a recent post), and also taught me to put carob in my mouth and then cough to send a puff of powdery fun all over the place. Lotus is very organized and thoughtful and is always giving me information that I didn't realize I needed but ends up being very helpful. She is involved in the Nonviolent Communication philosophy which is based on determining your own needs and the real needs of your partner/friend/coworker/opposition/enemy and attempting to reach a solution that fulfills everyone's needs.

Wyatt is 2 years younger than me. He is intelligent, strong-willed, and has a good sense of humor. He is going to school for accounting (last I heard) and is piling up the awards and accolades. He was somewhat surprised to be elected president of his fraternity, but it reminds me of how my mom was always chosen to be the leader of any organization that caught wind of her. I'm grateful to him for giving me one important piece of advice when I was complaining about grad school. He told me straight up that I should not quit - I should finish. It was surprising to hear this from him because it seemed out of character. So it stuck in my head and may have played a part in my eventual graduation.

*Names changed.

**I'm not being sarcastic.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 24

24. Your favorite movie and what it’s about.

Orlando, 1992, starring Tilda Swinton

A description from IMDB, slightly edited by me: 

Orlando, a man of ideal nobility, starts his search for love, poetry, a place in society and the meaning of life in and around the court of England in the late 16th century. The blessing of eternal life from Queen Elizabeth I enables him a long and deep philosophical quest, accompanied by the features of "noble" English life with a good taste for irony. Both sides of the coin are shown when Orlando, fed up and disgusted with how men think and act, returns from his ambassadorship in the Far East as exactly the same person, except for his sex. Orlando, a woman of ideal nobility continues her journey to realize the truth about life, love, and approaching one's own sex in the late 18th century England. Sally Potter's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando not only tells the story on film with brilliant visual design, but also attempts to extend the plot as Woolf would have, had she lived to the end of the twentieth century.

Friday, September 23, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 23

23.      Give pictures of five guys who are famous who you find attractive. 

The obvious source for pics for a question like this has to be the blog Bangable Dudes in History. Thanks to Kate* for bringing it to my attention.

It was hard to choose from such hotness but here are 5 who made the cut (pics are straight from the bangable dudes blog and includes their nifty "why" pie charts):

Robert Cornelius, American chemist and pioneer in photography

Nikola Tesla, inventor and engineer

George V and Nicholas II, Eurasian monarchs (not as objectively hot as the above but HELLO - they are kings)

Okay I can't bring myself to choose any more from the available options. There was one possibility but the very fact of who he is makes me put my foot down. I would rather have a picture of a chupacabra than that guy. I am okay with only having 4 even though 5 was required. I will sleep just fine tonight. If I can get these images out of my head.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 22

22. The last movie you saw in theatres.

I could be remembering wrongly but I think it was Avatar. It was great. I was not depressed about my own boring reality after seeing the movie, but apparently many people were.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 21

21. One of your favorite shows.

Stanley and I are watching Heroes on Netflix. It's entertaining. We've completed 2 seasons and have 2 seasons to go. It's starting to get a little repetitive so we might have to make a hard decision about whether to continue watching or spend our time on more practical things.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 20

20. How important you think education is.

It's not important at all. We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom!* Education should not be funded by taxpayers. If our parents didn't play their cards right and couldn't afford to send us to a privately funded school, we can learn everything we need to know from the school of life with an advanced degree in the school of hard knocks and an optional certification from the school of rock. Then, when we are having trouble finding a job that pays enough for our basic expenses, we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps! 

*But plenty in this post.

Monday, September 19, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 19

Camping was terrific! Check out my friend Lucy's* blog post - they joined us for the whole day Saturday and she took some great pics.

19. Your favorite music.

A few random favorites that pop into my head just now are:

Aaron Copland, esp. Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Common Man but I generally like all I've heard from him. I mostly mention Copland because I recently heard one of his symphonies.

Eminem, but I have to be in the mood for it, and honestly I haven't been in the mood for that music in years. Plus I don't really want to have that music playing with Blueberry around since she is learning new words all the time.

I'm going to stop there because these days, if the house seems too quiet, we just put on some classical or jazz from iTunes or Pandora and have it in the background. I'm not really a big fan of any particular musical artist or band right now. 

*Names changed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 18

18. Name the thing you are scared of most.

My original plan for this post was to have the word: "CHUPACABRA!" and then a picture of a chupacabra. However, this plan was cancelled when I looked up images of this beast and found that it was indeed really effing scary. I couldn't bring myself to post an image like that on my precious House Blog.

So, the new thing that I am scared of most is:


Saturday, September 17, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 17

A few mentionables before we get to today's challenge question.

  • Today is Stanley's and my 6th anniversary. 
  • We are camping right now, at Willow River State Park, Wisconsin. To minimize my stress I've been writing most of these entries several days in advance and scheduling them to post every morning. Just wanted to get that out in the open.
  • Crap there was something else...oh yeah! I made a new banner for the top of the blog because the old one felt too busy. This one helps me breathe better. Hope you like it. 

Okay, on to the important issue of the day.

17. Things that make you instantly happy.

  • When Blueberry smiles at me from her crib after she wakes up from her nap.
  • When Stanley arrives home.
  • My first entry into a hotel room than I've rented. I love hotels. Motels, too.
  • When something makes Blueberry happy, e.g. swinging in a swing, or receiving a new toy, or sharing a joke.
  • Seeing a postcard, personal letter, card, magazine or package in the mailbox.
  • Realizing that an object is unnecessary and that I don't like it and getting rid of it.
  • Tiramisu.
  • Sushi.
  • Finding a yard sale bargain.
  • Feeling my unborn baby kick me (he/she is not kicking very hard yet).
  • Reserving a campsite.

Friday, September 16, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 16

16. Talk about your family.

My husband Stanley is kind, loyal, hard-working, loving and strong.
My daughter Blueberry is super-smart, freaking adorable and has an excellent sense of humor.
My unborn fetus Peachy moves around a lot, and is growing.
Come to think of it, each of these qualities apply to all of them, except that Stanley is not growing.
I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this family.
The rest of my family (siblings, etc.) are equally superb and are likely to be mentioned in a separate post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 15

Halfway there!!

15.Your favorite blogs.

Please see my blogroll (titled "These Blogs Are Great") in the right-hand column. If you are reading this from an email, click on "Hazel's House Blog" at the top or bottom of the email, and then go to the right-hand column.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 14

14.Your earliest memory.

I was 2 years old, playing in the dirt on the side of our apartment building in Santa Monica. My sister Lotus* came around the corner and said "come on Hazel*, we're moving". So I followed her. This is when we moved to Sylmar.

I think I've remembered this event all these years not because it's especially memorable but because of it's special status as my first memory, it's been reconsolidated each time I bring it to mind. I sort of wish that it was common practice to recount more than one earliest memory, such as five, so that I could have held onto more memories from when I was two years old. 

*Names changed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 13

8. Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.

Mendocino, California or the surrounding coastal area.

It's 3-4 hours from my hometown and I've spent many fun weekends here camping and staying at beach house rentals. Stanley and I got married in Mendocino.
In addition to the proximity to the ocean, I love the fern/redwood forests, many state parks and campgrounds, awesome glass beach, shopping, charming inns, wine festival, terrific restaurants, and the general hippy/artsy vibe. It would be a great place to be an artist, if I wanted to step up my painting.
I'd like to visit there more often (I think I've been back once since the wedding in '05) and if I could move there, that would be great. A home on the cliffs overlooking the ocean would be amazing but I would also be thrilled with a house less than a mile from the water. There are a lot of question marks about how this could come about, but I feel that if we really make it a priority, it will happen. But if it doesn't, that's okay with me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 12

12. Bullet your whole day.

Here are the highlights of a typical day. Hope you're sitting down because it's super exciting:
·        Around 6 AM, I wake up to sounds of Blueberry calling "Mommy? Mommy?"
·        Change a diaper, usually Blueberry's
·        Breakfast
·        Say goodbye to Daddy. After he leaves, Blueberry asks "Daddy?" and I say "Yeah, Daddy went to work."  She says "Bye Bye" and I say "yep, we said bye bye to Daddy." Then she makes snoring noises, which means, she thinks he's going to sleep at work. Maybe she knows something I don't know.
·        Get myself and Blueberry dressed. This takes FOREVER.
·        10:00 Snack
·        Go somewhere (the park, the zoo, run errands) or greet a friend for a playdate
·        12:00 Lunch
·        1:00 Nap (often for both myself and the Blueb. If I have the energy I sew books instead of nap. Hoping to get some energy back soon so that bookmaking can speed up again)
·        3:00 Blueberry wakes up from her nap. We have a snack and then play in the house or in the yard if it's nice, or run errands if necessary.
·        5:00 or 6:00 Daddy comes home from work/sleep and makes dinner. Blueberry asks if we are having chicken, then asks if we are having noodles, then asks if we are having ham.
·        6:30 Dinner
·        7:15 Bath
·        7:30 Post-bath dance performance by Blueberry
·        7:35 Read books or play with Daddy
·        8:00 Bedtime for Blueberry. Stanley and I usually watch TV and I sew books
·        10:00 Bedtime for grownups. Okay, 11:00. Okay, 11:30.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 11

11. Put your iPod on shuffle and write 10 songs that pop up.

So far the questions have assumed a) I have a tattoo or I want one and b) I have an iPod to put on shuffle. I used to have an iPod which I got for free when I bought a laptop but I rarely used it so I gave it to Stanley. So, rather than a list of 10 songs I'm going to list fewer than 10 random things that Blueberry has brought into my life lately.
  1. This set of 8 cheapo washcloths from Target. She pointed at them as we walked by  and I said "washcloths". Then I remembered that I need more bibs that tie on (Blueb has mastered removal of the velcro kind) and I wanted to make some out of washcloths, so I bought them. $3.49 for eight of them. Great deal. Thanks Blueb. 
  2. She likes to pull random books off the shelves at the library and then run away as fast as she can, so once I catch her and look at the book, and if it looks at least mildly interesting I put it in the book bag. The first one, a couple of weeks ago, was Wednesday Night Witches by Lee Nichols, in which I lost interest after a couple of pages. It just wasn't resonating with me - the protagonist seemed weak, melodramatic and overly quirky. Unfortunately the book has been misplaced.
  3. The next book she picked, just today, was The Little Blue Dress by Bruno Maddox.  I have high hopes for this one, although the reviews suggest I will either love it or hate it. Maybe I'll let you know how it goes. It's a bit of a problem these days finding time to read but if I get myself to bed at a somewhat decent hour, I can afford to read for a few minutes each night.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10

I'm a third of the way through the challenge! Its' been fun so far. Hope you have enjoyed it. If you want to see the full list of 30 questions again, it's in this post.

10.      Write 5 messages to 5 different people without using names.

  1. Hey! I've been wanting to thank you again for bringing to my attention that we have a DVR. I have lately been taking great advantage of it. I've been taping The Nate Berkus Show, which I only recently discovered as I watch very little TV. I watch it while Aubrey is napping and work on books at the same time. It's like a decorating magazine on tape. I also tape 60 minutes which has always been, and will always be, the greatest TV news show ever. And SNL, which always will be not as good as it used to be, but makes me laugh so that's okay. Also Antiques Road Show. I have many other things to thank you for as you are one of the most generous, thoughtful people I know.
  2. Well hello. How's it going? I was at the library today and was able to remember the author AND title of one of the books you listed as your favorite, Possession by A.S. Byatt. And they had it! So I took it! And now I have it! Will I read it? I hope so! Hope you're having fun at the festivals today! I consider the huge neighborhood yard sale a festival. :)
  3. Hello. I'm your neighbor. I want you to know that the other night, my husband and I went to our back yard to watch the fireworks show and due to the proximity of our homes we were practically forced to watch you cavort naked in your kitchen. Okay, you weren't exactly cavorting. You were looking in the fridge or doing something at the counter. I'm not really sure because I did not have the desire to continue looking so that I could deduce your exact activity. But please know that when we are in our backyard after dark, and the lights are on in your kitchen, we can see you quite clearly, even though when you look out your sliding glass doors, all you see is your own reflection. Some options to consider if you would like to avoid displaying your nudity are: wear a robe, wear pajamas, wear a chicken suit, put up some curtains or blinds, keep the lights low in your kitchen, or stay out of your kitchen. Thanks.
  4. What's shakin? I'm really enjoying the cloth diapers you gave us. Thank you so much for sending them. It's great to have a full supply of pocket diapers because they are easier to put on the Blueb than the pre-folds we were mainly using. And the animal print ones are so cute that I sometimes let her run around the house in them without putting pants on her. This usually works fine but sometimes she takes them off and that's a problem. She hasn't yet learned to take her pants off. Hope that never happens. Well I suppose it would be good if she learned that someday.
  5. Wow it's been a long time since we talked! Life gets in the way I guess. I'm thinking of you and I hope you and the husband and kids are well and happy. Weren't there some riots in your city a short while ago? Am I misremembering? That and the postal strike really cast your country in a new light for me, if that's not a mixed metaphor or something. You're really badass!

Friday, September 9, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9

9. Tattoos. If you have one, post it and it’s story. If not, what do you want?

Love how this question assumes that if I don't already have a tattoo, I must want a tattoo. I don't have one, but on occasion I have considered getting one, and now that I'm over 30 and happily married I think it would not be a mistake to get one if I really had the urge. There is a reputable tattoo shop one block from my house. I even know the owner/artist - he lives across the street from me. The main thing holding me back is the lack of suitable subject matter for a tattoo. It's on my body permanently, so it had better be something I think will apply to me and appeal to me for the rest of my life. A tall order. 

At one time I was thinking of getting something having to do with the Picts, a tribe that lived in what is now Scotland in the 6th century. There's a chance I may be descended from them on my dad's side, our last name possibly meaning "from the land of the Picts". The Picts were named such because of the way they painted themselves for battle. They ceased to exist as a tribe when their leaders were ambushed by the Scots at some kind of royal dinner. Apparently, while seated at the table, they all had their legs chopped off at the knees. So that's why it's Scotland and not Pictland. At least that's how I remember the story. If anyone knows their Scottish history, feel free to chime in.

Anyhoo, here are some pictish symbols found on stones and metalwork that could help me come up with a design for the tattoo (click on image to enlarge).

Where should it go - my knee, perhaps?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

8.      A show you thought you wouldn’t like, but you did.

I can't think of a show so I'm changing the question to "A musical artist you thought you wouldn't like, but you did." That would be Lady Gaga. I thought she must have little or no singing or songwriting talent since she acts and dresses outlandishly, but actually her songs are quite enjoyable, if you like catchy pop music.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 7

7. What you wear to bed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 6

6. Write 30 interesting facts about yourself.

            Thirty? Wow. I'm left-handed, my ears aren't pierced, I'm tall, I make super-educational books for babies, I have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, I have issues with whole wheat, I'm expecting my second child in February, I am mentally compiling a compendium of road sarcasm for future publication, I'm a yard sale junkie, I'm celebrating six years of marriage this month, I use cloth diapers on my baby (I had to add "on my baby" so as not to give the wrong impression), I am a licensed massage technician (most likely no longer valid - I got it 17 years ago in a different state), I have all of Eminem's albums (he helped me get through a rough patch 10 years ago and I have been supporting his career ever since), I make a good martini, I make good cinnamon rolls with the yeast and the rising and the whole works, my favorite animal is a baby goat, my favorite color is a specific dark shade of turquoise/teal/peacock blue, I like to paint and draw, I was raised on goat's milk (and I turned out juuuuuuust fine), I did not experience morning sickness with either of my pregnancies, I have a healthy fear of heights, fire, and water, I am not afraid of flying, I have not read any of the Harry Potter books and am trying to decide whether to read them, I have 10 books on order that I have to make, I am currently experiencing the best time of my life so far, I love apocalyptic films, I can bake bread, I prefer a hot tub without the jets and bubbles on (too loud and stimulating), I had my wedding in Mendocino, CA and it was one of the best days of my life, I collect antique cups and saucers.

I'm pretty sure that's thirty facts - if I miscounted, I apologize. I realize they may not all be interesting but come on, that's subjective.

Monday, September 5, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 5

5.      Your three favorite books and why.

I did the bulk of my reading for pleasure during my formative years, so these books are all from my childhood.

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

            I read these nine books over and over and over. I was fascinated by the differences between Laura's childhood and my own, due to her growing up in the 1800s. It was also cool that Laura was just a little girl in the first book and by the ninth book had begun to have children of her own. A couple of years ago Stanley and I took a weekend trip to Wisconsin and happened upon Laura's old stomping grounds - it was a treat to walk in one of the same places that she lived and wrote about so long ago. I plan to get the series for Blueberry and she had better like the books as much as I did.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

            The author really did a good job of helping me connect to the horse and see things from the horse's perspective. It was heart-wrenching to read about the times in Black Beauty's life when she was mistreated. I think this book helped me have more empathy for animals.  

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

            I loved this one because it transported me from reality to the fantasy world of Narnia - it affected my daily life and enhanced my imagination. I remember being flabbergasted the first time the character stepped into a wardrobe and a whole new world was inside. At that time I thought of a wardrobe only as a collection of clothes, rather than a piece of furniture, so that confused me somewhat. But it didn't ruin the book for me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 4

4.      Your views on religion.
Like capitalism, democracy, drugs, and most anything, any religion can be good or bad, depending on who is using it. I sincerely wish that people would not use religion as an excuse to cause suffering in others, either through intolerance, judgment, or physical harm. This is one of the reasons Stanley and I chose our current church - unlike many others that we have tried, our church stands firm in the belief that we are all perfectly and wonderfully made, and that God does not judge us based on who we are.

On a similar vein, I believe that religion has always been tainted, at its core and throughout its history, by the follies of humans. Case in point: the Bible, which is thought by many to be God's unerring word, is so full of human biases, mistranslations, falsehoods and inconsistencies that it seems to have created more confusion and harm than if it had not existed. At best it could be thought of as a source of spiritual inspiration, but a general guide for living - no.

So, does this mean we shouldn't have organized religion and weekly church services, and just let everyone work out their own individual spirituality? No. I think there is a place for organized religion in society. Humans are at their best when they are working together, and we can do the most good by gathering together on a regular basis with a common purpose.

Also, my God is better than your God, nyah nyah nyah.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 3

3.      Weird things you do when you’re alone.

I finally thought of something. I thought I was going to have to pass on this one because I couldn't think of anything. I decided to adopt my friend Kate's* plan of tweaking the question when I see fit. The following activity is not so much "weird" as "different" (judging by my inability to find a reference to it on the internets, except for one passing suggestion in some guy's blog, and he didn't really flesh it out).  It is only one activity, rather than more than one as the question seems to imply. And I have done it in the company of others but usually I am alone. It's when I'm driving, or sometimes when I'm a passenger. So the weird thing I do when I'm alone is...

Road sarcasm!

It's like road rage, but less violent and more passive-aggressive. The main advantage of road sarcasm over road rage is that it is far less likely to result in injury or death. Here are some examples of road sarcasm off the top of my head.

  • "Sure, come into my lane, I wasn't using it."
  • "Wow, I'm impressed by your great speed."
  • "Could we go a little slower? Those pedestrians are having trouble keeping up."
  • "Ooh, you're going to get there WAY before me."
You get the idea.

*Names changed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 2

Check out my friends' daily answers too!


2.      Where you’d like to be in 10 years.
I'm assuming this means how I want to be spending my time, as opposed to a latitude and longitude. My kids will be in 3rd and 5th grade. Who knows, maybe I will have more than two kids. So, in 2021, I would like to be having lots of fun as a family, traveling periodically, spending time with friends, engaging in creative pursuits, and whizzing around in my large electric car, when it is not parked at my beach-front home at 39°18′28″N, 123°47′58″W.

*Names changed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 1

1. Three things that irritate you about people.

  • Hypocrisy, especially in elected leaders. Irritating.
  • Vague, scary pronouncements, particularly in Facebook status updates. E.g., "nothing like a trip to the emergency room to make you appreciate our health professionals!". Or, "I'm so sad right now." Irritating. I care, and I'm thinking of you, but have a little respect and help me out with some more info, or just keep it to yourself.
  • Making a REALLY big deal about their own birthday. I mean REALLY big. Throwing yourself a party - that's great. I don't mind that. I did it once, for my thirtieth. I like to think it shows initiative, independence, and joie de vivre. But referring way in advance to the upcoming day, celebrating your "birthweek" with daily activities, and requiring things of your friends with consequences for non-compliance - irritating. Especially when the upcoming birthday cannot be referred to as "the big (number between 1 and 10) oh".

This is a really negative question, so I'm going to list three things I admire as well: authenticity, generosity, and a good sense of humor.