Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. I love the tables heavy with food and surrounded by family. I love a day specifically set aside to pause and remember the year's joys and challenges, to reflect on the many ways that God is always there each step of the way. And I love that Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season.

This year Jeremy and I are celebrating the day alone. Work schedules got in the way of travel. Spending this holiday as a quiet two-some is strange for me. But still, I am thankful. Today we sit across the table from each other, our plates full of turkey and mashed potatoes and we recognize that we are blessed abundantly.At the end of yoga class last Monday evening, my instructor read the following poem, which has stuck with me throughout this week as I mentally and physically planned and prepared for our small Thanksgiving celebration.

Be Thankful
(author unknown)

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made the effort.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

From my house to yours, I wish you a most happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

September & October Reading List

For some reason I just haven't sat down long enough to write up my reading post for the last two months. I did complete two more of my reading goals. On Writing was my book on, you guessed it, writing! And Persepolis was my graphic novel for the year.

September brought with it a vacation and therefore some light-reading novels, because who wants heavy reading on vacation? :) And I read my last un-read Jasper Fforde book in September. So, now I'll just have to wait until he writes more. I wish I could spread a love of Fforde. Not many people seem to read his books. I am always taken with his wit and irony. He is just so funny! But, I'm certain he wouldn't be every one's cup of tea, so I'll just appreciate how much I can enjoy his books and the smile that the stories inevitably bring to my face.

October I felt like I was in a bit of a reading slump because I'd just read a fascinatingly unique book and everything else seemed to pale in comparison (review in just a moment). But, I did appreciate the humor and advice of Stephen King's On Writing. I imagine I'll pick that book up again someday.

So, what book put me into a bit of a reading slump? That would be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Initially my interest was piqued by the upcoming publication of this debut novel because Morgenstern was being compared to J.K. Rowling. I am an unabashed Harry Potter fan. I've read all the books twice and I've seen all the movies at least once (for the last 4 movies, I've made Jeremy go to the theater with me...he hasn't minded too much!). I miss the anticipation of opening a new Harry Potter book and experiencing the adventure for the first time (though I have to say that the series re-reads quite well). Somehow, my sweet husband, scored an Advanced Reader Copy of The Night Circus for me and away I went into another world, turning the pages, completely absorbed.

Was Morgenstern like Rowling? I don't know if I'd have made the connection if it wasn't made for me. Both authors do create magical worlds that exist within the non-magical world. And there are magicians and training of magicians (though nothing like Hogwarts; the training here is more akin to homeschooling). But, overall, the stories are very different. And Morgenstern's book is not a children's story, or a story that would ultimately appeal to children.

This book is very dreamlike to read. Morgenstern moves through time (spanning around 25 years), as well as location. And, at times this was a little confusing. But, her theme of a night circus and dreaming was certainly accentuated by this method.

After all that preliminary information, I'll give you just a little taste of the story, although I've found trying to summarize the book to be quite challenging; it almost defies explanation. Marco and Celia, though they don't know each other, are both groomed from a young age to become powerful magicians for the express purpose of participating in a game, a dual of sorts, at least that's what they understand. Their instructors give them tidbits along the way, these morsels of information start to form the puzzle of their existence. The night circus, that appears without warning and is only open at night, becomes the playing field for these talented, imaginative magicians as their lives unfold for others to experience.

That's all I will tell you. If you want to know more, you'll have to read it yourself.

When I turned the last page of this mysterious dreamlike book, I felt the urge to start back at the beginning.

(A brief suggestion, if you decide to read this, don't listen to it on audio. A co-worker did that and found the moving chronology confusing to follow. Also, I'm very aware that this book won't appeal to everyone, maybe even most people, I'm not sure. It was just such a memorable, interesting read, that I felt I must share.)

Okay, I'm done gabbing. Here are my completed reading lists.

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
After the Party by Lisa Jewell
The Fourth Bear by Jaspter Fforde
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution by Trudy Scott
On Writing by Stephen King
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (for work)
The Throne of Fires by Rick Riordan (for work)
Misfortune by Wesley Stace
Start Something That Matters by Blake MyCoskie
Persepolis by Marjam Sartrapi (graphic novel)
Frugavore by Arbella Forge

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Spirit

Halloween found me dressing-up this year. I can't say I was terribly pleased with the idea, but when your boss says dress-up, well you kind of have to dress-up.

I pondered for days trying to dream up a "good" costume. I don't own anything costumey and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Also, because I wasn't too enamored with the whole dress-up idea, I wanted my costume to be humorous, not your typical, run-of-the-mill costume. I finally settled on concocting a stereotypical spinster, librarian costume (since I'm a librarian, you know). However, when my sisters were up visiting over the weekend, we stopped in at Target and there in the dollar section was my inspiration--a remarkably hideous, red felt covered headband with five green felt Christmas trees standing up from it (not unlike the Statue of Liberty style headpiece). A pair of socks, a t-shirt, and a felt Christmas tree pail later, I was ready to construct The Spirit of Christmas.

My co-workers aren't particularly filled with a sense of humor and the creative humorousness of my costume seemed largely lost on most of them; however, I did get a few comments from patrons, including a 10-year-old boy telling me he liked my costume, a guy effusively telling me "awesome costume", and a woman asking me where I'd bought my Santa t-shirt. So, all in all, I'd say it was a pretty good costume.

In the spirit of sharing, I'll leave you with these two photos of me modeling my Christmas Spirit, complete with a crazed Christmas Spirit smile. (If you can't tell, the back of my t-shirt says BELIEVE and beneath that is the smiling face of Santa. Socks became handmits and a deconstructed, felt Christmas pail became leg patches, both thanks to my sister Margaret's handicraft spirit.)

The creation of this costume even put me in the Christmas spirit. All week I've been wanting to listen to Christmas music. And I've been brainstorming Christmas gift ideas. Are you in the Christmas spirit?!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Popping Back In

October passed by quite rapidly. My weekends were filled with either work or company. We don't get many visitors in our neck of the woods, but October brought with it three family visits as well as a visit with college friends. The busyness was a nice change of pace from our usual schedule.

November's arrived and with it low-gray skies that whisper of our fast approaching winter. From everything I've heard, it's going to be a fierce winter--cold and snowy. I have to admit I'm always captivated by the first snow and I do love a white Christmas, but by the end of January, I'm ready for spring green to make her appearance once again. But of course, I live in the Midwest and that just doesn't happen.

I realize I've been rather quiet in the blogging world of late. I want to be more consistent, we'll see if November provides blog fodder. At the very least, stay tuned for a September/October reading list complete with a brief review of a fascinating new novel, as well as some snazzy photos of my impression of the Spirit of Christmas. Now doesn't that sound intriguing?
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