Thursday, August 27, 2009

andalucy link

Here's the link again to my new blog. I just put up my first Spain post!

Friday, August 21, 2009

rating books

I love Shannon Hale's blog post today on rating books. I agree that summing up an entire book with one rating is lame. I love Goodreads for many reasons, but the 5-star rating system drives me crazy. For a while I was constantly and compulsively changing the ratings of my books. Then I realized that it was impossible for me to rate a book that way. I don't usually either like it or don't like it or really like it, or whatever. There is much, much more to it than that. And actually, whether I overall liked it or not is usually one of the least interesting things to say about a book anyway. I do sometimes read books that I have a strong negative reaction to, and like Shannon, I think that is interesting, too. That's not the end of the discussion, it's the beginning. Why am I having this reaction? What does that say about me? Especially if lots of other folks don't seem to have that reaction. Once I read the first book in a series and I thought it was a fun read. Then I read two more in the series and I suddenly didn't like the first. That can't be communicated with stars.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

fort knox

Thursday we went with Ave, JW, and family to Fort Knox State Park in Bucksport. They've built a new bridge with an observatory tower.

We've had perfect weather here in Maine since we arrived August 2nd. I think they were all joshing about it being a miserable, cold, wet summer. Yeah, right.

We had lots of sun in Minneapolis before we left. I was kinda looking forward to a little rain, and so far we've only had one magnificent downpour that lasted about two hours. I want more! Is that wrong?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

mystery among the gravestones

I love cemetaries. I have enjoyed visiting them since I was little. The other day Mum took us up to a cemetary in Sangerville that holds some of our departed. It's a secluded spot on a hill with lots of old stones. The earliest stone is from 1838, though there are probably older graves whose wooden markers have long since rotted.

We visted our family stones and then meandered about a bit. I took photos of stones with cool names. And then I discovered Fernando Fernandez. He was born in 1830 in Asturias, Spain! It looks like he married a Gilman, of which there are many in that area of Maine. But how in heavens did he get there? When I exclaimed over this, my kids were like, What's the big deal? There are people from all over the world here, right? Um, no. Not in Sangerville, Maine. In central Maine there are people of British, French, and Native American descent. There are a few Finnish folks up in Monson. Anything else is relatively unheard of. I want to know what Fernando Fernandez was doing in Sangerville.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

young adult vs. young protagonist

I intensely dislike the labels "young adult," "teen," and "juvenile" for books that happen to have older teen protagonists. I know that publishers must market books to their target audience, but can't libraries be above all that? Many of my favorite books are in the teen section of the library. I think many adults avoid that section and consequently, those books, because of the big old "teen" sign hanging over it. On the Goodreads site, I had labeled these books "YA," young adult. But why? What is a "young adult," anyway? In my mind, that's a pretty narrow category of folks. Like maybe just people in their early to mid- 20s. I wouldn't call a teenager a young adult. So, are these books meant only for people in their early to mid-20s? Of course not. A book labeled "young adult" could appeal to anyone from age 11 to 99. That label bugged me every time I visited Goodreads. So, I just changed it to "young protagonist." I am so much happier with this label. It makes no idiotic judgement about the age of the person who might read it. Rather, it merely makes a truthful statement about the age of the main character/s in the book. You might split hairs with me about who qualifies as "young." Probably that means under 20 in this context.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


The other day Ave and I went to get a pedicure. The Asian guy who did my pedicure asked me, "You sistahs?" Yup, I said. "You oldah sistah. She youngah." Um, yeah. "She tallah. You shortah." Thanks, buddy. And you might as well point out that she got the naturally curly hair, too.Even wearing heels and stretching my spine, I still shortah. And sadly, my chest is not that perky (Remember--I oldah). It's... the angle?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

made it

We finally made it. We ended up leaving MN two and a half days later than we'd planned because it took that much longer than anticipated to leave the house ready for the renter. We left Friday at noon and he started moving in 4 hours later.

We got here Sunday afternoon just in time for LmX's birthday celebration. Check out the gorgeous pinyata handmade by LmX's dad!

It's rained the entire summer in Maine, but the weather has been perfect since we arrived. Yesterday we spent all afternoon at camp. The kids exhausted themselves and requested early bedtime. How great is that?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

new email

I'd kinda forgotten that when we end our comcast service tonight, that will be the end of my email address. My new address is at gmail. It's the same--my first name, middle initial, and last initial.

I should send an email to my contacts about this, but I don't have everyone I should in my contacts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

lake riley last night

Lidia was at a friend's house, but the rest of us were on the lake with the Arbuckles. A welcome break from packing!

Gabacious gets some air.
"Alright, alright, you can take a picture of me, Mom."

J learning to wakeboard. That is one handsome man. Is he available?

The handsome little man. Marcus and Bernie knee boarded like pros.

Friday, July 24, 2009

who is that?

Has it ever happened to you that you look at a picture of yourself and it just doesn't fit with how you see yourself? Your like, "Is that me? I thought I looked... different." It's not that you look awful (seen plenty of those) or wonderful (I treasure the few photos I have that make me look cuter than I am), you just look different. So does this look like me? Is that an expression I frequently wear? Just curious.

We have most of our possessions in the garage now. Yay! It was a very productive day. However, I feel sick about the enormous amount of stuff we have to throw out. Seriously. I believe we have thrown out more stuff than we are keeping. Isn't that wrong? Before you start on me, yes I did give away loads and loads of stuff. I took pains to not throw things away. I am environmentally aware, people. It just so happens that much of what we had tucked away here and there was JUNK. I hope this was a learning experience for me. I have vowed to never accumulate so much junk again. Or so many things that aren't junk, for that matter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

awesome mormons and one bad and one good

Check out this link a friend sent me about an unusual (and yet so typically Mormon in their abnormality--they put the 'p' in 'peculiar') Mormon family in Denver. Great reading.

One bad thing and one good:

I totally took it for granted all those years (until roughly a year ago) that I was so slender I could waltz into any old department store and find me a pair of jeans. Even Gap, a skinny folk store. Alas, this is no longer the case. Will Spanish food make me skinny again because it's so fresh and additive free?

I found a perfume I absolutely love. First time ever. It's called Pure Grace. It smells like soap, or if you want to get fancy, "pure grace is the clean smell of soap and water, the memory of fresh air woven into a set of crisp, white cotton sheets, a cold deep breath on a snowy winter night, the best summer morning you have ever known, the one white t-shirt that feels better than all the rest." I'm going to covertly spray my kids with it. Even Marcus. Especially Marcus.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

man oh man

Tomorrow I am lining my kids' pockets with money and dropping them off at the mall for several hours. They will watch the new HP, get themselves some lunch, and then wander around until I see fit to pick them up. Can I tell you how excited I am to be in my house by myself for a few hours? Oh my gosh. I have great kids but they are getting weary of cranky mom and her upending of the house. We have one child who is particularly helpful (wrapping our Christmas ornaments in newspaper as I write this) and one who is driving me batty. Changes are very hard for this child and while I understand and even sympathize, I am also trying to deal with everyone's STUFF right now and I'm not especially nice.

Tomorrow! Yay!

Monday, July 20, 2009


We went to Chicago a couple weeks ago to turn in our visa applications at the consulate. It was also the first time we used our new camera. And this is the first day I use the new laptop I'm taking to Spain. It will take getting used to. Am I becoming an old creature of habit?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

i'm being so bad

I should be packing and I'm not. Yesterday I packed almost all day and I thought I would die of exhaustion by 3 pm. As a sympathetic friend said, (who survived an international move last fall) it's not the putting things in boxes that it so tiring, it is the constant stream of decisions you must make for every single object in your entire house. Toss it? Take it? Store it? Give it away? Many people have offered to help but I don't know what they can help with. They can't be the ones to decide what to do with my stuff. And yet I'm getting worried that J and I won't be able to handle it on our own. We supposedly leave for Maine is less than two weeks.

My son's next-to-last seeded baseball team beat the number one team last night. He looooves baseball. He would play all day every day if he could. I'm sad that there will be no baseball for him in Spain!

And here's what I'm all-out crying about: Guthrie's 2009-2010 season.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

more free stuff

Solid maple dresser, needs to be refinished and missing some knobs. One drawer does not slide very smoothly, but that can probably be fixed.

We're taking these two lovely ladies to Spain, but the Christmas tree behind them is free to a good home. It's old, but we would still be using it if we were staying. It's VERY big. Probably 7' high or so, and large circumference at the base. The tree does look pretty good. People were still asking me if it was real last Christmas.

Also included: MANY strings of Christmas lights.

Friday, July 10, 2009

i should be packing but here's my procrastination post

We found a renter and he seems perfect. Too perfect, in fact. Mama Ava and I were hoping to get back at my persnickety neighbors by finding someone loud and obnoxious. This guy is everything opposite. He wants to move in August 1st, so we're going great guns trying to get rid of our stuff. At least we're renting the house furnished, so we won't have to deal with much furniture. Anyone want an old computer hutch?
A king-size mattress?
A full-size bed?
A mini pool/air hockey/ping pong table? (It's small, like for 5-8 year olds.)

At the end of this month we're heading to Maine. We'll come back just a few days before our flight to Malaga.

I never posted about lunch with Mama Ava and Karen. So fun. What an idiot I was to not take photos! What's wrong with me? I should have at least got one of Frodo loving Karen. She picked him up and he snuggled right into her like he never ever wanted to leave.

I hosted my last book group meeting--Age of Innocence. The discussion was great! I've read it thrice now and I never saw Archer as a jerk. But now I'm considering him to at least have some jerk-like qualities after hearing him torn apart in our group. Who here thinks Archer would have been happy with Ellen if he'd married her instead of May?

I'm in denial that we are leaving behind so many awesome friends. I refuse to say good bye. I'm saying, "See you in Spain" since we have quite a few who are seriously considering coming to visit. Yay! So please don't be offended, Minnesota friends, when I don't say good bye. I don't think I can handle it.

We turned in our visa applications to the Spanish consulate in Chicago. We got to see a couple things while there--Sears Tower (did you know they changed the name to Willis Tower?!) and Millennium Park. Stay tuned for photos from our new Canon Rebel T1i! We love it!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

happy birthday, little mister!

Yesterday, Marcus's actual birthday, was way too busy to post this, but here's a belated birthday tribute to my favorite boy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

oh my gosh the british museum

I never finished my museum series. Why do I continually forget to post about our trip? I do want to have a record of it.

J and I went to the British Museum. We only had a couple hours and we missed out on an entire floor--Africa, North America, and Mexico.

The British Museum is free. You just walk on in. It's unlike any other museum I've experienced in its accessibility. Everything is just there, much of it not roped off, not behind glass. There are hordes of people, of course, and they are all snapping pictures. I don't know about you, but in pretty much every museum I've ever been in, that's a big no-no. It took me a few minutes to get over my camera inhibitions, but then I started snapping away like every else.

The British Museum is controversial. They have many priceless artifacts from the ancient world (ah! the joys of Colonialism!), and some of those formerly-ancient countries want their stuff back. Greece has been especially insistent. The British Museum told them they didn't have adequate facilities for housing artifacts like the Elgin Marbles, so they built a new museum. The British Museum then came up with another reason they should hold on to the Greek's stuff: In Greece it would be enjoyed mainly by the Greeks, while in London the entire world can enjoy them! Funny coincidence, when I was in London in April I did happen to see the entire world. So they may have something there.

Whose side do you take? (You may want to read more than my silly, simplified synopsis of the issue.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the mystery of the iced mccafe

I'm not quite ready to switch to my other blog. It seems so abrupt. I'll let you know when I start posting over there.

Yesterday morning, I left the house at about 8:05 to run an errand. About 20 minutes later, J called. He was on his way to work, and he'd found an iced McCafe in his car, nearly finished. Also, some gum he keeps in the glove compartment had been taken out and left on the passenger seat. Yes, he had left his car unlocked and outside the garage. When he found the McCafe, there was still ice in it, but the ice was nearly melted by the time he got to work. It's been very hot here.

J's business partner suggested that someone in the neighborhood might know he has the car for sale (he has not advertised yet, but I did tell someone I know is looking for that same brand) and wanted to check out the inside. And then they might have forgot the McCafe when they left. The problem I see with that is, why wouldn't they have just told us they wanted to look at the inside of our car? Also, why would they have taken the gum out and left it on the passenger seat? It's not just one package of gum, but many packages in a bag, like you would get at Costco or something. J is positive he didn't leave it there.

Another scenario is a joke. Some neighbor was just having fun with us, like "Haha you left your car open so now I'm leaving this McCafe here and taking your gum out haha." But wouldn't they have said something later so we could laugh about it together? And wouldn't that be a little weird? And, as I have noted in a previous post, we don't have that kind of relationship with our neighbors. We do with friends who often walk by our house, but they are fellow Mormons, not likely to be drinking McCafe.

One J and I thought of last night is that someone was in our car, some McCafe drinker with bad intent. S/he rifled through our things, opening the glove compartment to check for valuables, when I opened the garage door to leave for the errand. Mr./Miss McCafe bolted, leaving behind the drink. Sadly, I think this is the most likely scenario. It's rather unnerving because it was not that early in the morning. It must have happened either right before or just after I left at 8:05 because there was still ice and it was already really hot out.

Isn't that creepy?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

new beginnings

I was going to wait awhile before making this announcement, but I'm just too excited about it!

I'm starting a new blog. I'm not deleting this one or anything. It will still be here. For a while I've wanted to start a new blog and I think moving to Spain presents a good opportunity to do so. Here it is. What do you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

about my dad

I have a soft-spoken father. I do not remember a single occasion of him ever raising his voice to me. He always encouraged and supported me in healthy, worthy pursuits, and never said a critical word. This is not what he experienced as a child, at least from one of his parents. That makes it even more impressive to me that he actively chose, on a daily basis, to be gentle, kind, and sensitive.
Thank you, Dad. I love you. We're all so glad you didn't drown in the cow poop.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I wanted to comment on a previous post about place identity, but it got to long so I'm posting it.

I grew up in central Maine. I lived in the same farmhouse from the time I was born until I went to college. When I go back to visit my family, that's where we stay. Both sides of my family have lived in Maine for 250+ years. When I went to college in Utah, I took with me a very definite, fairly rigid sense of place connected to my identity. I was "the girl from Maine." My Freshman roommate and I were "the girls from Maine." (And because of my heritage and upbringing, I didn't even accord my roommate true Mainer status because her parents were from Utah.) At school I met a few people who were from military families and had moved all over. When asked where they were from, some would say the last place they lived before going to college. Some would say, "Nowhere, really." That answer always creeped me out. "You're from nowhere? What do you mean?!" I would reply, so very tactfully. I found it difficult to connect to such people, maybe because my place identity was so strong and theirs, non-existent.

I know that in Africa, many women who live in big cities make expensive, dangerous journeys back to their homelands to give birth. They do it because they want their children to be able to claim a place identity that has more honor and meaning than the fairly generic big city they have been forced to migrate to for survival. When I learned about that I was pregnant with Bernie and I kept telling J I'd made a terrible mistake in letting my children be born in Utah and Minnesota. Why hadn't I gone to Maine to have those babies? I asked myself. I told J I was going to have Bernie in Maine. But I didn't, of course.

I have sometimes felt that my identity was molded too permanently by my Maine upbringing, to the extent that I have never been able to consider Minneapolis my home. We've lived here fourteen years, which is about the same length of time as the years I remember living in Maine. I had three of my four children here. I no longer have a Maine accent. I like many things about Minneapolis better than Maine. And yet I don't think I could call this my home. When I go back to Maine, as much as certain things bug me there, it always feels like home. J says I have a New England soul.

For my children, Minnesota is home. They even sound like Minnesotans. I think Georgie will always say that she is from Minnesota no matter where she lives now. But the others? I don't know. What if they never come back here to live? That is a fairly good possibility. If we stay living overseas until they are all grown, I agree that it could be difficult for the younger three to really pin down where they are "from." But I don't know that that's a bad thing. Maybe when they are grown and have their own families, they will have an easier time than their mother feeling at home wherever they live.

I want to write about racial identity too, but that will have to wait for another post. I told Bernie I'd do a craft with her at 1 pm, and the hour has struck!

Thursday, June 18, 2009