Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ugly Frames

{draft from 1/29/12}
If you hang around pinterest at all, and like any type of vintage/country/antique/thrift/DIY style, you have to have seen empty frames. I did that empty frame/ornament one - sort of - for Christmas but forgot to take a picture of it.
When I dropped off a bunch of stuff at Savers, they gave me a coupon for $3 off a $10 purchase so I found $11 worth of frames to play with and paint.
I pulled them apart, painted, sanded, painted more, and finally used the last two for this on the shelf in our room:

The green/yellow one is on the left, with some map in it. The black one I set up (empty) to frame the L.
The oval one was for this pinterest project.
{continuing 11/14/13}
I had this hanging on the front door for awhile and now it's in the basement in the garden of abandoned projects. But I found this draft of a post and thought "yay, a post with no effort."

Have you had a pin-success?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

{Another Thing} I Never Heard in Fundamentalism

Last spring, Craig and I started teaching 4th and 5th grade Kidsway (what they call Sunday school at our church). The other morning I was going over our lesson and was really struck by this: "Showing honor demonstrates that we see others as God sees them. Every person we meet has value to God and deserves our honor."

As often happens at Crossway, I wonder at how I spent so much time as a child and teen in church and never heard that. Maybe it was being said, but it was not being lived or demonstrated in any observable way. And certainly that idea was not encouraged at Bob Jones. The only people being honored were the ones holy enough to follow all the (externally observable) rules.

How would it change my interactions with people if I lived this out - that every person I meet has value to God and deserves our honor?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

After posting that last post about a book I didn't like, I thought I'd tell you about a few I did enjoy.

Are you so proud of me for taking a picture of the books I read? I took it with my phone before I gave away the ones I didn't want anymore.

We'll start at the top:
1. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. This book had the unfortunate placement of being read right after Flight Behavior (not pictured), which was fantastic and one of the best books I read this year. The Peach Keeper is probably an average book but no one can really compare to Kingsolver's writing so I found this book super lame. Like, excessively lame. I read maybe 3 chapters and skimmed the rest. Lame.

3. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo. I started this in maybe March and made a concerted effort to finish it this past summer. It's really amazing and worth the focused effort to read it. The story is amazingly crafted and expertly written.

3. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I got this one and The Peach Keeper from the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. I really enjoyed this book; it wasn't just a rehash of blog posts but the story behind the blog. It was a fun read although peppered with profanity. I hadn't read any of the blog, just knew the story from hearing about it when the movie came out.

4. The House of Tides by Hannah Richell. My sister-in-law had me grab this at BJs towards the end of the summer. I wanted it to be more interesting & better written that it was. I still haven't finished it.

5. Red Azalea by Anchee Min. I got this either free or from the dollar bin at the grocery store. It was very good. The writing is very straightforward without self-pity, although the story is a tough one. It never ceases to amaze me what Mao did to China and how the Chinese people survived.

6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. This book caught be by surprise with how good it was. It's a World War II story from a perspective I had never considered - the generation of German children who lived through the war and questioned how their parents could have done what they did. I knew the "twist" but still found this book very moving.

7. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I haven't read any Zadie Smith. A friend whose book I opinion I very much resepect recommended this. I enjoyed it & thought the writing was good. I didn't get the "satire" aspect - maybe I'm not intellectual enough? - as it was described on the cover.

8. Holes by Louis Sachar. I read this thinking it might be good for Sam but I don't think he's quite ready for it. Fun read and nicely paced.

9. The Archivist by Martha Cooley . Fantastic read. Really amazing in its writing, story, and pacing.

10.  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. I do think this author knew her Jane Austen and put a lot of it into this book, but the writing was lame and I didn't really like the story or the main character. I decided not to waste any more time on a crummy book after The Peach Keeper.

Not Pictured:

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. As I mentioned above, really, really good. The writing, the understanding of human thought, the ability to cut to the essence with a few well-crafted phrases . . . it doesn't get much better that this.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. My bookclub read Run and it was so good. Where have you been all my life and why did I think Bel Canto was her only book? good. State of Wonder was mesmerizing. Astonishingly good. Stop what you are doing and read it.

Right after I read State of Wonder I read A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin. I read it in early September but technically that's still summer, right? It's about Sherlock Holmes as an old man - 93 or so. Again with the staggeringly good book. Even now, writing about it, I am so thankful I read two fantastic books in a row (that's rare). "Tonight, my friend, I give you the exception of a lifetime." just, wow. Well-crafted story.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Not Impressed

{August 2012}
I just finished reading The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigani. I was completely unimpressed. I kept thinking, as I read, that I would mention this unimpressed state as my FB status, but as I read, my reasons for not liking it got longer and longer.

Let's start with the cover. A woman in a luxuirous dress, elaborately posed, in a fancy setting. This made me think "the shoemaker's wife" was glamorous and rose above her station (or something). But the cover has nothing to do with what happens in the book. I question if the fashion in the illustration is timely for the years covered by the book. It sort of could have to do with Enza's time at the Met, but that's kind of a stretch for me.

The book is not about a shoemaker's wife. It's about a boy and girl, a little about their childhoods, their immigration to America, their eventual marriage. But being "a shoemaker's wife" never defines Enza as she points out several times, that she wanted to keep her identity and do her own thing.

The story sort of switches from Enza's story to Ciro's story but then randomly we'll be given omniscient access to a minor character's mind. For example, the girl Ciro sees kissing the priest. All of a sudden we know her thoughts of disgust toward Ciro. It really doesn't add to the story (it does make us more sympathetic to Ciro to have another rejection), because the fallout of his observing the kiss doesn't depend on the girl's opinons.

We occasionally get brief and unrepeated glimpses into other character's thoughts and motivations but it is inconsistent, even switching in the middle of a paragraph on a few occasions. Stick to Enza and Ciro, or spread out the omniscience a little more evenly.

The priest who kisses the girl has a big vendetta against Ciro and sends him away. It seems to be very personal, in that the brothers are split up and Ciro is supposed to go to the workhouse.  And . . . then he never appears again. Ciro is determined to make a life for himself and go back and prove that the priest was wrong or made a mistake, but Ciro seems to forget that's the plan. I don't think that that was the crisis moment that caused Ciro to lose his faith since he wasn't particularly religious before although it did disillusion him further. At the end, when he goes back to the mountain, he finds out the priest who "ruined" his life has moved on by his "cunning" or whatever. I find no closure or satisfaction in that, because when Ciro first leaves the thoughts of returning consume him. He never gets to show to the priest how what the priest meant to ruin his life is what made his life.

When Enza gets married and is now an American citizen, it's written as if it's a big deal but before that it never comes up as a hope or dream of hers. Neither one of them expresses interest in being American citizens, it's all "go back to the mountain" and then whoosh, let's celebrate that we're citizens. I think that theme could have been developed more, wanting or not wanting American citizenship.

Along with that, the issue that Enza gets seasickness so badly she can never go home to the mountain is given little development. The only reason she and her father come to America is to go home, and to know from the first day that that will never happen . . . that's a big deal. It's mentioned a few times but it seems the thing that crushes the dream of her life could be discussed more. And why not take a shorter boat? Like to Southampton or somewhere? Or is that the same amount of time? For how much they both express the desire to only stay in America until they can go home to Italy, they seem to forget that and just mumble along making money.

And then

{November 2013}
 . . . not sure where else I was going with my deconstruction of that book but I have to admit I didn't actually finish it. They guy dies, there's a girl they adopt or something, she marries someone. Something like that (spoilers, sorry).

I'd forgotten my dislike of this book was so thorough. I think because it came with such high praise from others that I expected more from it & was excessively critical of things I might otherwise have overlooked.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Somthing new{ish}

Well hi there.

I have been gone for awhile. Gone from blog land but so much more present in my life.

Blogging takes a huge commitment! And then there's the "what blog am I?" question, which, frankly, I didn't consider at all. You want random stories? I got that. Crafts? sometimes. Quilting? when the mood hits. Recipes? OK, but none are "mine." Inspiring insights? on rare occasions.

Furthermore, there's so many lame blogs out there that I really don't want to add to that pile. Pitiful writing, bad editing, crummy pictures. And so many amazing blogs - whether topic, writing, photos, or all of those plus more  . . . well, I can't compete keep up with those AND keep my house clean enough to photograph when the light is good, so why try?

This school year I've been substituting in the schools in my town. After my first assignment, I thought, "I'll write a blog post reflecting on each assignment and what I think/felt/learned."


Once they started, the assignments came so quickly I had no time for reflections, just time to toss some laundry in, swipe something for the kids to wear out of the clirty* pile, and pack up lunches before heading out again.

I started with a week as a school librarian in one of the elementary schools. Overall it was easy but it is hard working every day. Plus my Candy Crush game suffered. Then I was up at the middle school and was told I did a good job,  I  "seem[ed] to get what we're doing here,"** and "we'll ask for you again." They have asked for me again, and then I spent a day as a robotics engineer teacher at the high school (lesson learned, bring a book), and  also had a couple days in the preschool classroom at another elementary school.

In some ways I'm thrilled with this town and they system they have; especially for me, who came from a tiny Christian high school with few to no resources, the computer room labs, libraries, art rooms, and music rooms are amazing to me+. On the other hand, these kids! they can't problem solve or deal with the slightest inconvenience. It's frustrating . . . I have to remember that as a "paraeducator" I'm seeing some of the toughest cases and that there are kids there with organizational skills or social skills. I'm just not interacting with them in a one-on-one situation.

Today I didn't take a position because I fell yesterday and hurt my ankle. So my pain & need to ice it are your bonus! I started a post about a month ago that I might finish. If I can remember what I was talking about.

So there's my contribution to the ocean of words soaking the internet today. Enjoy your surf.

*clean/dirty portmanteau. Not original to me.
** As far as what they're doing up there, I can't say what it is or how I "get" it but I'll take the compliment. Both the old standby of "proximity to the troublemaker" (for example, standing by someone who's talking) as well as the ABA skill of "non-verbal cue" (pointing to my outstretched hand when the child is to give me something) work well with that age.
+Something that bugs me about this, that I haven't really processed, is that my parents knew how much better the resources were are the public school (my brother went there) and they still sent us to the underfunded Christian School. There are so many aspects to this decision that I can't analyze them all or even understand them at this point, but I can't help feeling gypped a little, like, did they not expect us ever to leave the Fundy world? So we wouldn't need an accredited education? At the same time, it's fine. Everything that has happened before in my life has brought me to now which is perfectly what God wants for me. So while I many wonder and process through these kinds of thoughts, I'm OK with how it actually happened.