Monthly Archives: April 2011

Perfect

How to tell if you are the perfect Lutheran Wife (Not that you would brag about the fact.)

1. Coffee at your house is good, and it’s always fresh and it’s always hot.

2. You always have something cooking in the crock pot. It can be beef, or beef, or maybe beef, or some sort of Mexican seasoned chicken.

3. Your tuna casserole recipe has been tested over at least three generations and never failed.

4. You own at least four cookbooks published by various Lutheran Women’s Groups. Extra points for cookbooks published by Women’s auxiliaries and not the LWML.

5. People gain weight just looking at the dish you brought for the pot luck. And it’s a vegetable side.

6. You own a sewing machine. Doesn’t matter if you use it. You have it.

7. You vacuum.

8. There is a refrigerator in your house always set to the perfect temp for beer. Your husband and his friends suspect it magically refills itself.

9. When you make a bed, it stays made.

10. The junk drawer in your kitchen is alphabetized.

Disclaimer: Even though I wrote the list I fail 2, 7, 9 and 10 outright.

A Girl and Her Mojo

Of course the trouble with trying to find your mojo (knitting or otherwise) is that sometimes it hides really well.

I had a couple of projects on the needles. None of them what my oldest suggested. Although if anyone has a good pattern for “a ninja, and don’t forget the sword”, I know a little boy who would appreciate your help.

The first project just flat out got frogged, and started again. And then frogged again. The yarn seems to have developed some attitude that I don’t appreciate.

The second project was a shawl I’d intended to have finished for Easter. It was looking bad. And well, with my mojo problems, I decided it was time for a break. So I spent two days sorting out my miscellaneous bead collection. Which is where I finally located my mojo. Hiding in the bead box. Also the red beads to finish off my Easter shawl.

Whoop! Now back to our regularly scheduled programing.

The Opposite of an Amber Fan in the Garden.

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Though Not Dead by Dana Stabenow

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Returned to the Library:

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Amber Room by Steve Berry

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

I did not end up reading all of Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. Nothing against Amy. I’ve always enjoyed her other work. I think I just wasn’t in the mood this week.

I did however, complete Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I actually picked Snow Flower up thinking that I had read it before and was just going to reread it so that I could compare and contrast the book with the new movie coming out. This turned out not to be the book I remember at all. Which leads me to wonder what I was thinking off. Certainly not another Lisa See novel. I would know that. Still, somewhere out there is another novel by an entirely different author, with a totally different plot, about two young women in China who used a women’s language to communicate. I’ve read that one too.

In thinking what to say about this book, I think I can sum it up like this: If you don’t like Lisa See’s writing style, you won’t like this book. If you do like her style, it’s a good read. There are perhaps more heartbreaking foot binding scenes than are strictly necessary. Still, all in all a good solid read.

I did start the Amber Room, but was in the end derailed by a two year old who hasn’t been sleeping, and so returned it to the library. Although I will probably check it out again at some later date. I’m curious what Mr. Berry thinks happened to the famous Amber Room. Also, check out the Stuff you Missed in History Class podcast for a great episode called Who Stole the Amber Room?. One of the best podcasts ever.

When I opened The Forgotten Garden I noticed that the endpapers were covered in fairies. I instantly returned it to the library. Seriously. Blaaahg! Yes I judge books by their covers and endpapers. So sue me.

Enjoyability: Snow Flower gets a three and half out of five. The rest. Well, I didn’t read them, I won’t recommend them to you.

Where to read this book: I would read Snow Flower sitting next to the fire on a wintery night with a good shot of brandy in my tea, if I had that sort of a life. As it was, I read it mostly sitting in my comfy chair, while the children crashed their toy cars together.

Further reading: I always read Lisa See books. I probably always will read Lisa See books. But frankly, I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for her next one to come out, and I never have been.

Next week, Mayhem!!!! At last. At least I hope. Things are looking promising.

A Small Crisis – Thank Heavens.

Last night, about ten minutes after I put Billy to bed he came racing back down the hall in tears.

Billy: “You have to get it out.  You’re going to need something long.”
Me: “What?”
Billy:  “I need a x-ray so you can find it and then you’ll need a really long thing to get it out.”
Me: “Okay, lets settle down.  What did you swallow?”
Billy: “Gum.  It got stuck in my teeth.  And you have to get it out now.”
Me: “When did you swallow gum?”
Billy: “A long time a go.”
Me: “Well, if it was a long time ago it’s probably gone already.”
(His tears dry up instantly.)
Billy: “What?”
Me: “Oh yeah.  I’m sure you pooped it out already.”
Billy: “Really.”
Me: “Sure that’s how your body deals with the food you swallow.  It goes down, and your stomach takes out all the things your body needs.  Then you poop it out.  I’m sure you pooped out the gum too.”
Billy: “Oh.  Okay. I pooped it out.” (Big grin.  And I put him back to bed.)

I think I let him have a blow pop he came home from school with about three weeks ago.  At the time I told him not to swallow the gum.  Next time I’ll be more specific.

The Junction of Ahhhhh and THHHPPPTTT!

This is a very sad post for my first knitting post.  Truly pathetic really.

I’ve been working on market bags.  I needed something simple and I had the yarn to use up.  Plus the local farmers market opens in five weeks.  I’m pumped.  So I made the first two.

Cute. Right?  Useful.  Right?

Then I started my third one, and must have missed something or added something.  I worked for a while and couldn’t figure out what I did wrong so I slipped it off the needles.  And I have…..

Knitted lettuce?  Green knitted brains?  Yum?  I just don’t know.

I’m going to go look for my mojo now.  It must be around here somewhere.

Adventures in Experimental Reading

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Amber Room by Steve Berry

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

Sometimes an author comes to my attention simply because they have so many books on my Library’s shelves, and so much press dedicated to their work. Back in my old adventurous days, I would have just grabbed one of these book randomly off the shelves out of curiosity, and started reading. The problem is sometimes when you take that approach you end up discovering and falling in love with Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, other times you end up awake with nightmares from Cujo. What can I say? I was twelve at the time.

Nowadays I try to do at least some mild research before I pick up a book from an unfamiliar author. In the case of Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult, it worked like this. There was a book group with a Listmania list on Amazon that come up when I searched for Jodi’s works. They had listed several other books that I had read and agreed with them about. They had also read an alternate Jodi Picoult book, but noted it wasn’t as good as Plain Truth. Which the book club thought was one of her best. There you go. Research done. I’m off to the races.

Plain Truth is set in the not at all mythical town of Paradise, Pennsylvania, which happens to be in Lancaster county. Accordingly the book very much about the Amish. Here is what I know about the Amish first hand. When my Grandfather, who was a gentleman farmer in upstate New York, had Amish neighbors he seemed to like them. He liked how polite their children where. The rest of my knowledge is all second had at best. I will say Jodi’s setting seems authentic, as do her descriptions of Amish religious practices. But remember most of my Amish knowledge comes from an episode in Bones fifth season.

The book opens when Katie, pretty, blond, Amish, eighteen, and unwed, leaves her bed one morning, and gives birth to a son in her father’s cow barn. She prays that God will make the baby disappear, and then falls asleep. When Katie wakes up, the baby, and all evidence she’d given birth are gone. Katie assumes that God has answered her prayers, and returns to bed.

Hours later, the men show up to do the milking and discover a dead infant among a stack of horse blankets in the tack room. The baby has been lovingly washed, and wrapped in a shirt. Naturally the men call the police from a neighbor’s phone. The police come out and start an investigation which leads to the arrest of a very ill and obviously recently pregnant Katie for murder.

Meanwhile, Ellie a talented Philadelphia defense attorney has a sudden pang of guilt. She is helping bad people escape justice and making mounds of money as well. So Ellie packs and leaves her long term live in boyfriend for the wilds of Paradise, Pennsylvania, where her uncle has a farm.

Waiting for Ellie in Paradise is her Aunt Leda who was excommunicated from her Amish faith for marrying an outsider. As it happens Leda still has a niece in the Amish Community. The niece’s name is Katie, and she only just got arrested for murder. Leda begs Ellie to represent Katie, and eventually Ellie agrees. Obviously I guess, otherwise it would have been a much shorter book.

The rest of the Plain Truth is an engaging read that held my attention well. There are a couple of unbelievable points in the novel. Katie’s Amish beau who is not the father of the infant pauses at a very odd point to feel up another Amish girl. And the girl is nice to him about it. Which I assure you, I would not have been. Also, possibly the worst legal argument ever presented in a fictional court. Ellie tries to convince the court that Katie couldn’t have murdered her child, because, you see, she’s Amish.  This argument is especially ill founded considering the last few pages of the book.

To the good though, I didn’t know who done it until a good two thirds of the way through the book. Which is not a record for keeping me guessing. Still it is very respectable. There is also plenty of romance to go around.  More of it Amish in nature than I would have suspected.

Enjoyability:

A very solid three and a half out of five stars.

Where to read this book:

On the beach. This book will keep you entertained while the kids cover you in sand, but won’t have you so engrossed that the kids have a chance to slip that squid into your beach bag.

Further reading:

I will probably pick up some more of Jodi Picoult’s works in the future. I’m curious to see how Plain Truth measures up. Also, I should really look into something factual on the Amish. Suggestions?

Failing up

Important I think, to start a new blog with a clean slate. In this case that means admitting to my short comings as a reader.

I will probably never finish a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I just won’t. He’s a beautiful writer. Or at least I know that the 0.0009% of his work that I’ve managed to read is beautifully written. However, his sentences are very long. So when I read his work it comes out like this in my head: “At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of the river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were Mommy, Mommy, draw a T-rex.” Naturally, after drawing the T-rex, I have to start over. I hadn’t gotten to the period yet. Also, I suspect, although I have no personally generated proof, that Marquez runs short on mayhem. I rather crave mayhem. Mischief too.

Then there are other books I have never and will never read all the way through. These books are shortcomings because they come up to haunt me. People love to quote them, or use them as references, or make movies out of them. Still as much as I have tried to read them, I have failed. I am always left with the silent looks like wisdom bluff when these bookscome up. Here they are, in no particular order.

Books I have Started, and Will Never Finish, Even Though I Should:

1. Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Especially, Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

2. The Great Gatsby or really anything by Fitzgerald. What can I say? I just can’t bring myself to care.

3. Wuthering Heights, with many apologies to Emily, it is just not happening. Give me Anne, give me Charlotte, but I just can’t take Emily.

4. Ulysses by James Joyce.  Just, blarg, bleck, and thhhhppppptt.

5. Tortilla Flat, or Cannery Row, or Of Mice and Men, or East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I have read The Grapes of Wrath all the way through. I was forced to read it in High School. Ever since then just seeing John’s name in big block letters across a book gives me a strange rash.

6. Dune by Frank Herbert. Someone actually offered me money to read this one once, and I still didn’t do it. I can’t be bought, or bribed. Mostly.

7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I actually carried this one around in my back pack for two years straight in college, and I still haven’t read it. However as books go, the copy I had was very useful It was the perfect size for adding stability to the bottom of my pack so I didn’t lose as many pens down there. Which is more than I can say for many of the books I’ve actually read over the years.

8. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. An English teacher once told me she thought most of this book was written as if an inch worm were crawling over a Whaler, and describing what it saw. As it turned out I agree.

9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. What can I say? She was board, and so was I.

10. Lincoln the Man by Edgar Lee Masters. Spoon River Anthology was another I was forced to read by the same teacher that brought on the Steinbeck allergy. It was only years later that I realized Edgar had managed to publish more than one book. I couldn’t fathom it at first. Then I got a case of car wreck curiosity. But no, no, no, no, Mr. Masters is not for me.

So now that we’ve cleared the decks, on to what I have read……

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