Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Nothing much going on today. And that's remarkable. I didn't have a meeting or Doctor's appointment, the kids have no scheduled activities (except football practice for Logan, but that's over now), and no one is going anywhere tonight. I think I'll have a glass of wine. With all the kid driving I do, it's hard to schedule in a glass of wine.

With nothing else to do, I did some sewing, some house keeping, and a teeny bit of cooking. I finished the 12th block of a quilt I've been working on forever, but don't expect to see a photo of the completed project for a while. There is still an intricate border and the quilting to be done before photo time.

Speaking of photos, the boys had their school pix taken this week. I love collecting them and seeing the changes year to year. I have a sense that this is the year that Logan will lose the softness in his face and gain some definition in his jaw. He has been burning beaucoup calories playing football and I think it is starting to show. Let me know if you want copies of the school photos.

With nothing else to do, Logan is outside playing basketball with next-door-neighbor, Cameron. Logan wishes he had also attended basketball camp this summer (in addition to football camp); he would like to play BB after the football season is over.

With nothing else to do, Ben is playing computer games. Church youth normally meets on Wednesdays, but not tonight for some reason that escapes me. The band has their first public performance Friday night at the high school football game.

With nothing else to do, Cinder is barking his ass off (is that possible?). I think the wine is getting to me. A votre sante!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Then and Now

August, 2005

August, 2009

Back to school, again (yesterday)! All went well, both boys forgot to bring their schedules and had to come running home from the bus stop to get them and then tear back down to catch the bus. In addition to a full day of school, Logan had 2-1/2 hours of football practice after school and Ben had 2-1/2 hours of band practice in the evening, leaving about 45 minutes in the middle when we were together for dinner. Logan is already sick with a cold, but doesn't want to slow down; life is too interesting at his new school.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Reading

I've become critical of contemporary American writers. Most of what I find readable, well-written, interesting, and lucid from this country seems to be memoir which I fear has little enduring merit. It's interesting today in a voyeuristic way, but I don't think much of it will be on the shelves of libraries and book stores twenty years from now (if there are bookshelves in 20 years -- I'm thinking of getting a Kindle).

I've been reading like crazy this summer and have been delighted to find many books I've enjoyed -- most of them either in translation or by English speaking(writing) people of other (than American) Nationalities.

1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson -- translated from Swedish. A fast-paced gruesome, crime story set in Sweden. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs. (I misplaced the book, so its image is missing from the photo above.)

2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery -- translated from French. Set in Paris, this unusual book is an intellectual snob's delight, some might think it tedious. A great inward look at two very different people. Recommended for quiet fireside nights -- definitely NOT a page turner.

3. The MacKade Brothers: Devin and Shane by Nora Roberts -- I chose this book because I read somewhere that Nora Roberts is underrated as a writer (American). She does write cogent, lucid, grammatically correct prose. However, the story is formulaic, predictable, and less than compelling. Okay, I have now read one Nora Roberts, don't make me read anymore. Not recommended, unless you feel you must have this experience yourself.

4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls -- a memoir (American) of life in an amazing family living on the edge: the edge of poverty, insanity, wealth, criminality. Fascinating reading for us voyeurs.

5. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky -- a novel set in WWII France during the early years of the German occupation. Translated from French. Nemirovsky was born in Russia, immigrated to France, converted to Catholicism, and perished at Auschwitz in 1942. I can't get enough of Holocaust stories. I remember becoming aware of it as a child of about ten and have been absorbed by it ever since. I weep and grieve at every telling and still need to read more. Each story is unique and I won't be done until I've read six million. Beyond that, Nemirovsky is a brilliant writer.

6. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux -- an American travel writer. You either like Paul Theroux or you don't. He's an opinionated snob who runs around the world making contact with Nobel Prize winners -- a group of people he feels he belongs with. I enjoy his writing, but don't think it merits a Nobel prize. In this book, he reprises a trip (The Great Railway Bazaar) he made thirty years ago circumnavigating Asia by rail. He succeeds in giving the reader a view from the inside looking out, rather than that of an outside observer. Recommended if you are a Theroux fan.

7. Almost Moon by Alice Sebold -- one of the best young(ish) American writers. Her stories are grim and gruesome, but beautifully written.

8. Lucky by Alice Sebold -- a memoir of a brutal rape. Compelling -- I read it in a single sitting. I hope it was cathartic for her to write. Again a bizarre family -- I can't imagine Sebold's mother not being more supportive during the aftermath of the rape. But then, this is Alice's story, we haven't heard from her mother.

9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows -- a first novel by American Shaffer who fell terminally ill before completing the book. Niece Barrows saw the project through. The story is an interesting view of WWII and German occupation of the Channel Islands (another glimpse of the Holocaust).

10. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay -- de Rosnay is of English, Russian, and French descent. She lives in Paris and writes in English. Because it's a novel of the Holocaust, I had to read it and I'm not sorry. Well-written and a moving nearly plausible story (except the romantic ending is a bit schmaltzy).

11. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson -- a British crime writer. I'm so glad I discovered Atkinson. After all, P.D. James is getting quite old and can't go on writing forever. Atkinson is a good writer and a good story teller. Great escape reading.

Let me know if you want to read any of these and I'll send the book your way. I don't hang on to books I've read; I pass them on, sell them, or donate them. So many books, so little shelf space.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Plugging Away

I'm still quilting -- I just haven't finished anything for a while. I've been working on an applique quilt that is about half done. Carpal tunnel surgery slowed me down a bit, but I'm back at it now, finishing these blocks this week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday at the Farm

Former Republican house whip and current representative, Roy Blunt, holds the Millsap's foster daughter, Isabella. Blunt visited the farm this morning, traveling with 70 people from agriculture and food interests here and abroad. Curtis told them about his farm and the CSA. Isabella somehow insinuated her way into Blunt's arms -- she's good at finding someone to hold her.

Isabella's sister (I can't remember her name) wanted to gift me with this plant specimen. She is standing in front of the cherry tomatoes harvested today -- some of them by me.
Here's a tired and sweaty Logan holding a bunch of the soy beans he picked and bundled as part of his four hours of effort.

Ben and Curtis picked green beans at the end of our work shift -- I'd say Curtis is better at it than Ben.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Late Bloomers

Wildflowers abound in the Ozarks all summer long with something new blooming along the roadsides each week. This week features spikey blue flowers, puffy white things, and daisy-like golden blossoms. I wish I knew the names of the local flora and fauna. My dad was so good at teaching me the names of the pieces of nature we experienced when I was a kid, and I miss that. Of course all this natural beauty has its dark side, poison ivy, chiggers, and copperheads -- all new to me since moving to Missouri and names I have learned.

We definitely have a sense of summer winding down here with school starting next week, the shops featuring back-to-school specials, and the school parking lots filling with teachers' cars.

As the boys get older, they need less of me at home and more of me behind the wheel. They now cook, clean, and do laundry (when prompted), but driving is still a couple of years away. This leaves me time at home for reading and sewing while I wait for the "Come pick me up" phone calls. Having a good book at hand is a blessing when waiting in the car for the boys. Since my Carpal Tunnel surgery I've been on a reading binge -- I've read six books in ten days-- an indication of both how I've been idled by the surgery and how much time I've spent waiting to pick up Ben! Now, I'm ready to sew again.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Name That Bean

These foot-long snakey looking red things were part of our CSA share this week Apparently, they are some kind of bean, although they resemble beef jerky or red licorice whips more than any bean I've ever seen. I have no idea what to do with them, how to cook them, or even what part is edible. Any body got any ideas? I tried googling red beans but didn't come up with anything like these. Email questions to our CSA farmer have not yet been answered -- I think he is teasing or testing us.

The inside of the largest one has several of these fully formed beans in a sort of cottony pod. Some of the more slender pods don't seem to have much in them, as though the pod were the point, not the insides.

Summer vacation is drawing to a close. Ben is in his third week of band camp and Logan had football camp last week. (I wish I had a picture of him in his gear, but that will have to wait until game time, I guess.) Next week is orientation, registration, and all the other pawing of the earth that occurs before classes start on August 20. Ben is officially starting High School, although he has already taken two classes in summer school, and Logan begins Junior High.

Lisa and Michael are visiting Lisa's cousin who lives locally. Although I was delighted to see them and have lunch with them today, it is a sad visit for them. The much-loved cousin's husband of 47 years died earlier this week and they will be staying for the funeral. What a loss; such a sad time for them all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What It Was REALLY Like: The Things I Forgot or Was Afraid to Ask

1. Anticipation is by far the worst part.
2. You have to take off all your clothes except underpants. and put on THE GOWN
3. They open the gown in the back, just in case they have to . . .
4. I was awake and watched the procedure. Because of the tourniquet that stopped the flow of blood, and the very fine drugs, the whole thing appeared diagramatic and detached. Looked like a demo plastic model in an anatomy class.
5. They play the surgeon's choice of music in the OR -- Clearly not the patient's (different generations!).
6. My hand was numb for a couple of hours. By the time it wore off I had a couple of Norco tabs and felt fine.
7. I felt lazy and slow while on the Norco and didn't do much except sit around, read a little, doze, and eat.
8. There are no hygiene issues. A plastic bag secured with a rubber band keeps the bandage/cast dry during showers and shampoos.
9. Except for pushing, pulling, or lifting the hand is quite useful.
10. I had no pain and stopped taking the Norco after 48 hours (I couldn't drink wine while on Norco, soooo . . .)

It already feels better than before -- no numbness and tingling! Amazing!