Thursday, May 29, 2008

Slow News Day in Seattle

Call me jaded, but I found this article and accompanying photos hilarious.

And apparently, I'm not the only one.

Enjoy journalism at it's finest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Diane Ackerman

Another excellent book I read recently:

It is about the Polish family that ran the Warsaw Zoo in the 1940s and the impact WWII had on their lives. It was fascinating. Diane Ackerman describes the relationships of the Zabinski family including the animals in their care, which they treated as pets. Ackerman delves into the personal life and journals of Antonina (the main character), illustrating a deep connection to her husband and young son, the significance of her menagerie and how adept animal-handling skills aid her in difficult circumstances.

The book outlines just how far reaching Nazi purism was: I learned that the "ideal" Aryan race included animals as well. Because of Nazi officials' obsession with regaining a more perfect natural world (as they saw it), their desire for purebred horses and bison native to the area, and the political importance of the Zoos location and resources, the Zabinksis continue to live at the zoo as long as possible and see the drastic changes in Poland during German occupation.

The combination of historical detail, vibrant narrative, and quotes from personal accounts make this story intriguing. Ackerman appeals to all the senses in her writing and describes an era of chaos and terror with delicacy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rag Rugs

I've made several rugs this year, crocheting 1-1/2" stips of cloth (mostly sheets from Goodwill). The most time consuming part is cutting the sheets, even with a rotary cutter, and then looping each strip end to end and rolling a big ball of "yarn" from the strips.

Finding color-combinations among sheets is fun. The design of the fabric isn't recognizeable in the finished project, but general solids/patterns/colors coordinate well.

They make fun gifts and it's a good stress reliever to keep my hands busy with fists-full of linty fabric (though clean up is a nightmare).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Anne Lamott

"Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both
reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime.
Sometimes even in the same breath."
-San Franciso Chronicle

I'm reading Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. It's allowing me to see a lot of things in a new light. Have you seen the website Lost in Translation? You type an English phrase, it translates the phrase directly to several other languages and then back to English, with no allowances for nuance or context. The results can be quite funny, a lot like the Telephone game I played as a kid (or was it called Gossip Chain? Maybe that was the Sunday-School-Moral-of-the-Story version).

Reading anything by Anne Lammot is a lot like that game. She writes about topics that are familiar to me (church, spirituality, Bible, Jesus) but her descriptions are so "foreign" to me, I feel like I'm reading about new subjects entirely. Her life experiences are so far removed from my life experiences as a home schooled church-girl that my conclusions are challenged at every turn. I pick up the book with my own ideas on forgiveness, prayer, love, doubt, grief and self-image. When filtered through the "translation" of Lamott's writing, the result is almost unrecognizable.

I find this enormously refreshing.

I've become so sick of my version of Christianity, how I understand faith, and what's required of a person who claims to be spiritual, that I've ducked out of it altogether. Like being at a party where I'm forced to face people I'd rather not interact with, talk about subjects that are unimportant to me and exude a general social-good-naturedness, I've made enough excuses to slip out the back door unnoticed, go home early, and skip the whole uncomfortable thing.

But Anne Lamott is making me reconsider. She describes a believable Jesus. And I don't necessarily mean A Jesus I Can Put My Faith In, I just mean Jesus as a person I can accept as having actually existed. Maybe even, given the right circumstances, someone I might consider hanging out with. And that's saying a lot because Jesus As I Imagine Him is not so appealing. Childhood make-believe, bedtime stories, and Bible verses are all so intertwined that it's hard not to view God as a phase to grow out of. Biblical truths via flannel graph rank right alongside building forts out of couch cushions or flooding my old sandbox with the garden hose: fun at the time, but no longer relevant, no longer enjoyable.

Now I've discovered this adult woman who writes about faith like she means it. The Chicago Sun-Times describes her as
"the religious queen of crankiness; she's Christianity's Howard Stern - a swearing spiritual pundit who prays for redemption but brags about her offenses."
That doesn't sound like child's play.

I'm going to go read.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Status report for M & D:
Bun and Bun Jr. were really happy to see me Wednesday night; they raced around their hutch, pushing their noses through the wire windows, eager to have a visitor. I put them in the mesh cage on the lawn and they tore up as much grass and they could. Bun made a daring escape and ran around the yard a few times before I caught him near the rose bush (I swear I could hear "Weeeeeeeeeeee!" as he led me in circles). I snuggled them as much as they could bear before putting them back in the cage and giving them apple slices. They miss you guys!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Family Work Day

For Mother's Day, my whole family met at my parent's house and surprised Mom with a day of yard work and decluttering. The emptying nest is a little worse-for-wear since three of us kids have moved out and left miscellaneous crap at home. We all pitched in and reorganized
  • An entire closet devoted to board games.
  • Kitchen cabinets filled with water bottles, aluminum bread pans, and cookie cutters we haven't used since 1984.
  • The "homeschool closet" with random craft supplies from the old days of magazine-clipping-collages, dioramas and posterboard presentations. We chucked a collection of shells, cases of beads, rubber stamps, cardboard, and paint supplies.
For years, we operated with the motto, "You never know when this may come in handy!" Turns out, that's exactly when we used our accumulated stock pile: never. We carted off a pick-up truck full of Goodwill donations and had a bonfire of yard waste. We spruced up the flower beds and replanted Mom's hanging baskets. The house looks so much better! Many hands make light work and the seven of us had fun together. By lunchtime, we'd polished off a flat of Costco muffins and three pots of coffee. For dinner we celebrated a job well done with barbecued burgers with all the fixings.

Dad uprooting the wisteria

Mom on the new garden walk-way

Ian dismantling the giant branch that broke in the last windstorm (turns out the branch was weakend by a rope we tied around it as kids a decade ago)

Elliot, ready for ignition

Celebratory cigarNo smokes for the minor (Alex said, "Elliot, you can make your own out of sticks.") Notice the hand-held leaf blower: used by my brothers to stoke the fire.Success! Burn pile is reduced to embers

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Whale watching (minus the whales)

Lime Kiln Point State Park

It's a pity he's so withdrawn and subdued, don't you think?

Second Honeymoon Suite

The view from our room:

Jason found a new favorite: Royal Marine IPA, brewed on the Island.

First Anniversary

A whole year! What everyone said would be the hardest part is behind us. Yeah, there was lots to learn. So much transition and change all at once was tough. We had some big fights and blazed a few trails through the communication jungles. We've also learned so much about each other, what it means to love unconditionally, and how to have a blast together. The way I see it, we've got 365 days of commitment under our belts and that strengthens MY resolve to be the best wife I can be and love my hubby.

To celebrate we spent 4 days in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. What a perfect getaway! Jason found an awesome place to stay; The Friday Harbor House was luxurious. Besides lounging in our comfy room with a gorgeous view of the harbor, we shopped, ate out, drank coffee, get the idea. It was fabulous. We went on a whale-watching excursion (no whales, but a free pass for next time), hung out at the used bookstore, frequented the Front Street Ale House, and adjusted quickly to "Island Time."