Tuesday, May 30, 2006

from my garden

We've been wondering what this bush was ever since we moved in two years ago. It finally blossomed, and it's a lovely lilac!

What is this? Anyone know?

I think this is the first time this flower comes up. I think the past two Springs I thought it was a weed and pulled it up when it was little. Yes, I am horticulturally challenged. I am so envious of Mainegirl, who seems to know everything garden and landscape related.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Henry James

Karpete and AVE are reading The Ambassadors by Henry James. I just wanted to note that I do know that Henry James was born and raised in New York, even though I included him on my list of British authors. He is rightfully an American author, I suppose, though he lived most of his life as an expatriate in England and even became a British subject. He wrote about the clash between the brash, assertive, yet innocent New World and the sophisticated, corrupting Old World. He wrote about the ambiguities of moral choices.

cochinita pibil

(pork in orange and annatto marinade)

These are my favorite tacos, a dish that orginated in the Yucatan region. I love southern Mexican food. The flavors are so complex and interesting.

1 bar annatto or achiote paste, 100 grams, 3.5 oz
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (2-pound) pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2-inch squares
habanero chili sauce (I didn't use it because I didn't have any)

In a small glass bowl, soak annatto in orange juice for 15 minutes, breaking up with a fork as it softens.

Place annatto, orange juice, garlic, vinegar, habanero sauce, and cumin in a food processor or electric blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a large, shallow glass baking dish.

Place pork in baking dish and turn to coat meat thoroughly in annatto marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight or for at least 6 hours before assembling dish.

Put pork and marinade in crock pot. Cook about 10 hrs on low.

Shred pork and re-combine with juices.

Red Onion side dish:

1 red onion, thinly sliced
solution of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, enough to barely cover onion in a small sauce pan.
2 bay leaves

Combine ingedients in small sauce pan. Boil for 10 minutes.
Refrigerate overnight.

Serve in a flour tortilla with avocado and red onions.

Memorial weekend camping

Every Memorial Day and Labor Day we get together with a bunch of friends from church for a camping trip. It started almost 6 years ago will some fellow missionary families who served with us in the Lao branch. Now a very large group goes, about 15 families. We've tried several different camp sites, but have settled on this beautiful, convenient site less than 1/2 hr from our home. It's quiet, clean, and you can drive your car right up to where set up the tents instead of having to cart-in. It also boasts this large, stone building which keeps the children entertained and serves as a great shelter in case of rain.

Monday, May 22, 2006

hard at work

why work when you can dance?

follow up to A Woman of Independent Means

Just wanted to point out that Karpete responded to my challenge! I was going to comment on that original post as she did, but decided instead to include it in a new post in case anyone cares.

Here are my first two posts on A Woman of Independent means:
A Woman of Inferfering Means
more about A Woman of Independent Means...Warning: major spoilers

And here is Karpete's most recent reply with my comments in green (I hope she doesn't mind me re-posting it):

I haven't forgotten that I haven't responded to your challenge :-) I have been thinking about this off and on and I can't really define why I liked it (especially when I am up against an English major!) Oh yes, be afraid! Be very afraid! And don't you even think about splitting any infinitives!!!

I think I never took it as seriously as you did. I also wonder if living in the south for 4 years as a child made me identify with the type of woman she was. I saw the book as an exaggerated portrait of a woman making her life in the only way she knew how - and I appreciated and laughed at the exaggeration. I think I was looking at it too seriously (though maybe I don't know how else to approach a book) and maybe missed that it was supposed to be exaggeration.

You say the book didn't ring true for you, and I am not sure what you mean by that. It sounds like you were looking for something that wasn't there, and since I wasn't looking for it I wasn't disappointed by its absence (does that make sense?) Yes, actually, it does.

I didn't expect to enjoy it after reading your initial post. In fact, that was why I wanted to read it - which, I admit, is kind of weird, deliberatly chosing to read a book youdon't expect to enjoy. And maybe that is why I found myself liking it - when your expectations are that low, almost anything is better than what you planned on! Hahaha! I think there is a lot to that. I had high expectations for the book because it was highly recommended by several avid readers. It didn't live up to my expectations. I was talking with someone from the book group recently and we were saying too how much your mood can effect your reading. If it is not the style of book you feel like reading at the moment, then it can seem much worse than it is. And as Carla says, 'No two people ever read the same book.'

Next I am going to select something you really enjoy - to see if our opposite opinions continue!! (do you have a specific recommendation? You have listed some of your favorite authors already.) Regardless I am loving the discussion aspects! Will let you know what I read and what I think! Please do! I look forward to it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

book thoughts

Some other birthday gifts: from my mother, The Child That Books Built and The Best American Essays of the Century. I've started reading The Child That Books Built, but I'm only on page 32. I couldn't resist this title. I've often felt like I am more a product of my childhood reading than of my family, religion, or region. This is not light reading for me, but it is very rewarding. I have to keep stopping to think. Anyone who was a big reader as a child will identify with Spufford's intensity about the subject.

By the time I was in fourth grade I spent more time reading than doing anything else. I did not learn to read at a young age like Spufford or Bookworm or my own children did, but I quickly caught up. I read the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, the Little House on the Prairie series, the Chronicles of Narnia, E. B. White's books, The Hobbit, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and anything else I could get my hands on. My reading was compulsive, and sometimes I read books over many times because I didn't know what else to read. I didn't have a lot of direction. I think it was in 7th grade that I read The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye, books that would have been better left for later years. In 8th grade I made a tremendous discovery: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Oh, how I loved that book! It was so rich and so full of life. We were supposed to read it over the course of several weeks for school. When the teacher realized how much I liked the book and that I was reading ahead of the assigned pages, she told me I was not to read ahead of the class. Normally I was obedient to my teachers, but I could not possibly obey that command! I finished the book so quickly that I had to later re-read passages for discussion in class. It was my friends' and classmates' anything-but enthusiastic reaction to this book that made me begin to feel a separation from them. Yes, this more than my Mormon strageness made me feel like I was an odd ball in my little central Maine school. I couldn't understand how they could not be enthralled by this book.

8th grade was also the year we read the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, and that was another wonderful discovery. I found that Shakespeare was anything but stuffy, arcane, or dull, all that I had supposed him. I'm planning to read that play this summer with Georgie and Lidia. We read selections from it a few years ago but Lidia was only 5 and didn't get much from it.

It was also in 7th or 8th grade that I began reading American short stories by Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Conner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, and others. Though I enjoyed these stories, it was in high school that I found my true love: British novels of the 19th century (or thereabouts). The Dickens I read in 8th grade was Victorian lit of course, but it wasn't until high school that I'd read enough of these books to realize that I preferred them over American literature or any other I knew. That is still the case, to this day. Give me Fielding, Dickens, Austen, Eliot, Bronte sisters, Trollope, Gaskell, Collins, Hardy, James (P.D. and Henry)! Why do I like British best? American novels sometimes alienate me with their insistence on individuality. I do like American short stories--perhaps their brevity makes them more palatable. And in fact, I think that American short stories are the best in the world. However, British literature is more interesting to me in its portrayal and examination of the family and community.

Thank you!

Thank you, everyone, for your running-song suggestions. I've downloaded several of them, though not 'Eye of the Tiger,' the most popular suggestions. That is because that particular song was my first record, a single, that I played over and over again so many times that even now, twenty-five years later, it makes me a little nauseous.

Dave mentioned the many LDS resources available for MP3. I do plan on checking those out. We already have the scriptures and some other things on our computer because J wanted them for his Trio. (And thanks, Dave, for creating a guest log-in on your sites. I had signed up for an MSN account so that I could make comments, but I promptly forgot the information! I must learn to write those things down.)

J and I were listening last night to some of the songs I've purchased. For you Spanish speakers, "Yo soy el aventurero" by Pedro Fernandez is a super fun one. Although maybe J and I like this song because J's cousin does a mean rendition.

Friday, May 19, 2006

need help here

It was my birthday yesterday and I got an ipod. I'm having a really good time downloading songs for it. Right now I'm picking songs that are good to run to. I'm cancelling my gym membership, so now I've got to hit the pavement. Normally I don't listen to rock and pop stuff, but I like it to run to. O.k., sometimes I do play it while I do housework and I dance all over the place. Athena says she's a bad dancer but I'm sure I've got her beat in the bad dancing department. If I'm in the car or in the kitchen I choose classical or bluegrass or some type of world music.

Here are the songs I've downloaded so far:
Fruta Fresca, Carlos Vives
Jump Jive 'n Wail, Brian Stetzer
Black Water, The Doobie Brothers
Come to My Window, Melissa Etheridge
Whatta Man, Salt-n-Peppa w/ Envogue (remember, I graduated from high school in '92)
Something to Talk About, Bonnie Raitt
Man! I Feel Like a Woman, Shania Twain
Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Andrews Sisters (I can't believe I'm admitting that)

I need some more running songs. Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

All About Mom

Lidia filled this out at school for Mother's Day last year. What she wrote is in orange:

My mom's favorite color is green.
The color of my mom's hair is blonde and brown. (this was Lidia's favorite color for my hair--my natural light brown with blonde "stripes" as she termed them)
My mom's eyes are hazel. (no! they're green)
I think my mom is about 30 years old.
My mom likes to eat salad,
but do not give her cow brain. (good guess!)
My mom likes to go out to lunch with me.
I behave best for my mom when I'm not feeling well. (that's true! Lidia never utters a single complaint when sick)
My mom is great at drawing a picture.
In the summer, my mom likes to go to Maine. (Amen!)
I like being with my mom most when it's my birthday.
If I could give my mom something special it would be a card.
My favorite thing about my mom is she loves me.
I enjoy listening to my mom read the story Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Suess.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love My Mom
1. She takes care of me.
2. She loves me and I also love her.
3. She's not mean. (Except on occasion. Once when Lidia was four, I was being cranky and Lidia asked me in perfect seriousness, "Are you my stepmother?" and she meant evil stepmother.)
4. She takes me out to lunch the most. (as opposed to her siblings, maybe?)
5. She makes lunch, breakfast, and dinner.
6. She cleans up the mess.
7. She lays down with me before bed.
8. She kisses.
9. She hugs.
10. She has pretty hair. (the afore-mentioned stripes)

I love this top-ten list. I love how ordinary it is. It really says a lot about motherhood. Being a mother, for me at least, involves a lot of behind-the-scenes repetitive work. I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I clean up the mess. Most of my waking hours are dedicated to these lofty pursuits. I love it that Lidia recognized that and wrote it down as a reason she loves me. She also recognizes the nurturing acts that represent a smaller amount of my time per day, but are more important than the maid/cook chores. The caring, the kisses, the hugs, the cuddling, the kindness.

I like to keep this Top Ten list around to lift me up on the less-than-perfect mothering days.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Evolution of Dance

Thanks to nestle for this one! But I think he's missing New Kids on the Block. I mean, they were the original 80's boy band, right? And how about that song "Wishing Well" where everyone used to do that little sideways dance. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? You lead with your head and shoulders to one side and your body follows...


I meant to mop
the entryway this time
and start stew
for dinner

I know we had frozen
pizza last night

but the lilacs are out
and baby ducks
in the pond

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

This fruit plate was designed and created by my children and presented to me this morning.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Get it right, people

I am so offended by this:

CNN (“Sect Leader Is Hunted,” 9 May 2006) — During a report about law enforcement’s crackdown and hunt for Warren Jeffs, leader of a polygamist group, CNN superimposed the face of Jeffs over an image of the Salt Lake Temple. Again, this implies a connection between the two. This is not just careless editing, but highly offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Warren Jeffs is not and never has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Here are more instances where news groups have connected polygamists to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

more about A Woman of Independent Means...Warning: major spoilers

If you have not read A Woman of Independent Means and think you might want to read this stupid book and don't want to know any of the stupid details beforehand, don't read this post!

Go here and scroll down to the last comment to read what karpete thought of the book A Woman of Independent Means. You might remember I disliked the book rather much. Karpete thought it was funny and she liked it! There's no accounting for good taste.

Except that karpete does have good taste, so... Actually, several people who have read the book for our book group have said they liked it. And as I said, millions of readers have enjoyed it. I must be the anomaly, which of course has never happened. (Oh--I must make a note of my use of irony there. Georgie and I were just talking about the use of irony and I should show her that as an example.)

I already mentioned that I didn't like the main character. I thought she was a bore. She seemed overly concerned about money and position. She made stupid decisions. Karpete, you can't say this lady made good decisions. How about when she marries Sam? How about when she has a pseudo affair with the guy from Georgia? I mean, if you're going to have an affair, have an affair for crying out loud! The only part I laughed out loud at was when she got home from Europe and Sam confronted her with evidence gathered by the private investigator he hired. I thought, "Yes, Sam! You rock!" And then she stays in her room for five days pouting, gag. And then later on in the book she tries to get her daughter to have an affair with the Georgia man's son so they can "continue what we began." And she was not using irony.

So what do you say to that, Miss Karpete?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Bernie!

Bernie then...

And now...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Another blog with Africa stuff

I found a link to Dave's blog on Nestle's blog. On Dave's blog he has some interesting information on global development and specifically Africa. (The only thing that bugs me about this blog is that you have to have an msn account to make comments.) Sometimes when I start reading this stuff it makes me feel even more incredibly ignorant than I already am. But you have to start somewhere.

Yesterday I met the executive director of Peace House Foundation. In an earlier post I talked about Peace House and my friend Carla who is living in Tanzania. I met Mr. Nethercut quite by chance. We were sitting by each other in a pizzeria. It turns out our daughters go to the same school and went together to the Math Masters competition yesterday. After the competition we went out all together for pizza. I heard this guy next to me telling the guy next to him about something that sounded suspiciously like Peace House. I said, "You're not talking about Peace House, are you?" He said, "Yes, I am" and introduced himself as the executive director. I asked him several questions about the history of Peace House and would have liked to ask more but I didn't want to hassle him.

I really hope to visit Tanzania some day. I should start working on J now and then maybe in a few years he'll let me go.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

la gringa

Tonight as I tried to pick a few good lemons from the pile at the grocery store, I overheard two of the men unloading a crate of new lemons complaining in Spanish about the quality of the lemons. I said to them in Spanish something about how you can't get lemons here like the ones in Mexico and we chatted briefly about Mexico, where both were from.

I didn't think of it at the time, but later I thought that I want to make sure I am always friendly to Spanish speakers here. I think they are not feeling very welcome in our country right now.

Anyway, that made me remember something funny that happened to me a few years ago. It's not always an advantage to know Spanish, I found. Once I walked in to the grocery store in the summer wearing one of my favorite L.L Bean shirts. I have since thrown the shirt out (not because of what I am about to relate to you). It was a short-sleeved, button up blouse that was, I now realize, rather unique in style and color. It had a mint green and periwinkle blue houndstooth pattern and the style was slightly retro. Well, I thought it was cute. So in I walk to the grocery store strolling my cart along without a care in the world. I stop at the produce and begin my selection. Just a couple of yards from me, a young woman suddenly laughed loudly and said in Spanish to an older woman beside her, "Can you believe the shirt that woman is wearing? It is the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life. I mean, really! How is it possible that she is wearing that shirt?" She laughed again. I looked up at the girl and yes, she was talking about me.

I don't even remember feeling angry or embarrassed. It was just too funny. I started laughing and I looked at the girl and smiled. She quickly turned around and inspected the beets. I thought of saying something to her in Spanish, but then I decided it would be more fun to let her wonder if the gringa in the ugly shirt had actually understood...

Friday, May 05, 2006

notable night

I meant to post about this a week ago, but forgot. Last Friday we went to a "Night of Notables" at Georgie's school. Georgie is in a gifted pull-out program at school, and for a project they all picked a "notable and honorable" person to research. On notable night they presented their research and, dressed as the notable person, delivered speeches. The students were also in character as the parents walked around looking at their displays and asking questions. Georgie chose Joseph Smith. Some of the other notables were Eleanor Roosevelt (who had a great costume), Ronald Reagan, Anne Frank, and Jackie Robinson.

For Georgie's display, she did a timeline of ten important events in Joseph Smith's life, a paragraph answering the question, "Who is Joseph Smith?", displayed several positive and negative quotes about Joseph Smith from people of that time period, and compared and contrasted Joseph Smith with the prophet Mohammed. The last was especially interesting, I thought. There are several striking similarities between the two stories. Did you know that when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed, he appeared three times in the cave and then once the next day in broad daylight? When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, he came three times in the night (every time relating the same message) and then again the next day outside in daylight.


I just wanted to say that I didn't actually agree to not post the pictures of my mom's artwork. If I remember right, the conversation went something like this:

Me (upon viewing the artwork): I've got to get my camera. (I run upstairs)
Mum (calling after me): O.k., but as long as you don't post it on your blog.
Me: silence
Mum: Did you hear me?
Me: No.
Mum: I said, as long as you don't post it on your blog.
Me: I can't hear you.

So, I wouldn't have said, "Oh, o.k Mum, I won't post it on my blog," because I had every intention of posting it and I would not outright lie to my own mother. Really.

I should also mention that my mother did have some art classes in college over 30 yrs ago. She did a little painting with oils when she was first married, but then life got too busy. She took a watercolor class a year or so ago and has been trying to get back into it. Go, Mom!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Mexico

My mom said I could take pictures of her first attempts at watercolors if I didn't post them on my blog. I was never very good at the obedience thing, was I, Mom? Mother is dismissive of these as "student quality" but I think they're darn good and I'm proud to have such a talented mother! She did them in her little studio in New Mexico while spending the winter there. We just had a lovely visit with my parents this past week while they traveled from New Mexico back to their home in Maine.

I believe the first one is Elephant Butte, but I don't remember what the second is.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

today's attraction

I found this little guy in the middle of the street sunning himself. We brought him home and had some fun.

Imagine our surprise when...

our neighbors found one too!

Monday, May 01, 2006

the next Survivor series

Sent to me by my friend Deb, the incredible mother of five young children:

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment . He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend,evening, on a holiday or right when they're about to leave for vacation).

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

There is only one TV between them, and a remote with dead batteries.

Each father will be required to know all of the words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every character on cartoons.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, which they will apply to themselves either while driving or making three lunches.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

Each man must adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep their nails polished and eyebrows groomed. The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their clothing.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties. They must try to explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

He will need to read a book and then pray with the children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair each morning by 7:00. They must leave the home with no food on their face or clothes.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name.

Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. And then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.

They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to, "You're not the boss of me".

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years...eventually earning the right to be called Mother!