Archive | January, 2010

Number of Pounds Gone in 2009

29 Jan

Yeah, I know Angela has been hogging attention with her incredible adventures getting to athletic Wolverine status.

But let it be known that I, too, got rid of quite a bit of poundage this past year.

It just was not on me.

It was in my house.

Most of what I ditched were books and periodicals and paper.  But there were  a few folding chairs and clothes in there, too. And yes, I kept track.

Grand total for the year: 473.25 pounds of stuff exited our door.  That is a conservative estimate.  I did not count the mail we threw away, or the trash, daily and weekly stuff like that.  This is stuff I had held onto, some of it for decades.

So yay for me.

January of last year I threw away 45 pounds.  This year so far only 13.

Got to get to work.

Best Movies of 2009

28 Jan

The best movies or DVD’s out of the 68 I watched last year were

Stand and Deliver : Edward James Olmos as the dedicated teacher who gives of himself to his class of poor ignorants, teaching and inspiring them to aspire to take a high level math exam and reach for other higher goals in their lives.

Slumdog Millionaire: This is the movie that proves the rule.  Better than  Q&A, the book which inspired the movie.  Depressing?  Horrifying?  My guess would be you have not visited a country where there is a large percentage of truly poor people. Beautiful.  Great music.  Great story.

District 9:  A sci-fi movie set in a South African shantytown/refugee camp and beginning as if a documentary, this movie has a lot to say about how we treat those who are different, identity, power politics, powerful businesses in bed with political idealogues.  Quite violent.  The closest thing to Christian lovingkindness in this story comes from the aliens.  Lots of food for thought.

The Life of Birds: By David Attenborough, this series is phenomenal, especially if you can overlook some of the truly silly Darwinian comments.  Nature documentary at its finest. Lovely music to go along with the incredible movies and discussion.

UP: So you think you will do something big and bold and meaningful with your life? Take care, it is the small everyday moments that are of most import.

An Education: A set of amazing actors bring to life this biographical story of a young girl (16) who meets a charming older man and decides to deceive her folks and have fun living her own life.  Until…

I hope my daughter will chew on the food for thought this story served.

Nanook of the North:  We watch this every decade or so because it is so interesting and to remind ourselves how blessed we are.  And to remind our children.  This documentary was filmed in 1922.  Nanook and his family are so cheerful and uncomplaining about their difficult, near-the-edge-of existence lives.  Take that, whiners.

Best Books Read in 2009

27 Jan

This is a “top ten” “top eleven”  list based on books read last year.  I read 89 books in 2009. So maybe it should be a “top nine” list, with one two runners-up.  Your list of the best books you read last year would be very welcomed.

Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World by ND Wilson.     I liked this book so much I bought some to push onto  friends.   And I am not a great fan of carnival rides.  It reminded me of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  Except wilder and more theologically potent.

Eifleheim by Michael Flynn.  Intelligent, thoughtful,  historical sci-fi. What if first contact with aliens happened in the German woods of 14th century Christendom just before the outbreak of the plague?  This is a wonderful read.

Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry.  Relationships in a rural context.  In these stories  people know one another for decades and interact not only with people but with the natural world around them.  I come from a similar background and am living that way, sort of.  My best friendships are decades old, and we have lived in the same house our whole marriage.  We are after intangible wealth.  These stories are, too.

Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis by Michael Ward.  Medieval cosmology and  Christendom with lots of great future reading ideas all mix in Ward’s thoroughly researched, explained, and still interesting thesis: Lewis wrote each Narnia tale with a layer of medieval heaven in mind.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.  Our library did not have the new expanded, revised version.  The original is still chock full of musical experiences, patient stories,  diseases, and coping strategies our brain uses that music can help. Neurology is so interesting, and there is so much to still discover about how God made us.  As a mother and teacher, there were some interesting ideas to glean to help me help others.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.  A wonderful alternative world Victorianish steam punk fantasy about airships and a young man who lives to work with them.  First in a trilogy. The second was not as good, but still inventive and fun.  Warning: Another series by Oppel, based on talking dinosaurs which turn  into other types of animals in one generation, has too much cutesy fantasy and too little fact–that series may appeal to naive 8-yr-olds.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte.  This was my second time through the book.  I can not yet quote the opening paragraphs as one of my friends can.  The only story with which I am acquainted where the main character, who is also the narrator, keeps a veil over the feelings closest to her heart.

Dandelion Fire by ND Wilson.  Yes, the same ND Wilson who wrote Tilt-aWhirl.  This is the second in a trilogy–the third book, The Chestnut King, was released this week and we are waiting for it to arrive so we can ignore school for a couple days and plow through it.  OZ is not the only place you can get to from Kansas. And the witch in this one is even scarier than the one with flying monkeys. The kids and I love this series.

Joy at the End of the Tether: The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes by Doug Wilson.  Doug is ND’s father, in case you are wondering.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and joy.  I need to re-read this.  It is short and thoughtful.  It makes sense.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  Another one to re-read.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Club by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I read this on the flight out to Tuscon after my brother’s death  and while writing what I spoke at his memorial service.  It has a happy ending.  It takes place in London and on Guernsey.  Part of our (very extended) family lived there during WW II so I wanted to see if the book lined up with letters I have read which were written during that time.  It does.

Snowflakes and Klezmer

26 Jan

Saturday Isabelle  and I joined Angela and some others at the Light in Winter Hall of Wonders exhibit as volunteers teaching people how to fold and cut snowflakes.  Those are some of the snowflakes in the photo taped to the window.

Then Isabelle and I went to rehearsal.  She then was off to a meeting with the pumpkin pie she had made on Friday.

I met Angela downtown.  We ate a nice supper at a Thai place on the commons, then went to see, gratis (for being volunteers), the Klezmatics!  They were wonderful.  Great sound board mixer person.   What consummate musicians!  Great music!

Yesterday’s Weather

24 Jan

The temperature was just about 10 degrees F on the house in the morning.  Then  a fog rolled in and the temps slowly ascended to about 20 degrees F.  The sun gradually burned its way through the fog.  The fog left its mark on all the trees and weeds as a significant layer of hoarfrost.  The sky cleared to a beautiful brilliant blue.  The effect was dazzling.

This week’s menus

23 Jan

Monday:  orangey chicken noodle casserole

Tuesday: chicken garlic kale with squirrel broth cooked barley

Wednesday: leftovers–the 2 bean venison chili

Thursday: crab, tomato, and red pepper custard; winter squash with butter

Friday: refried beans with a hint of chipotle, tortilla chips, baked chicken breast au jus

Yesterday’s Weather

22 Jan

Bunny, with a few chickens.

What punny weather we had.

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