Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Cycle and My New Favorite Book




Just when I thought I wouldn't find another book I loved, I found one. This is all part of a cycle--and I know it's a cycle so you would think I could wait it out until it hit the upswing again, but...it can be a long wait at times.

This is how it goes. I find a book I love and want to read again and again. Usually, I find two or three at once (it seems that good books come in groups). This inspires me to read more books in case I've managed to miss other good books. Because I'm still under the thrill of the good book, the fact that I'm reading some not so good books doesn't get me down. I keep thinking back to that good book. Wow. It was amazing. So I skim it again and keep searching for more. Sometimes, I feel so contented by the good book, I don't want or need to read another book for a while because I feel satisfied. I love that feeling.

Time passes. I'm still reading, but I start feeling disgruntled because I haven't found a truly good book. I get annoyed. I dread going to the library because when I do go, I can't seem to see anything but books I've already read, and hated. I go to bookstores, hoping that new releases will provide some comfort. The sense of dread only increases then, because...well, have you looked at the new releases in the young adult section of the bookstore? Disgusting. But, I still go, just in case.

And that's the source of my problem. I don't give up hope. I know there are authors out there who are putting out quality literature. Or, at least, I hope it so strongly that I convince myself it's true.

The next step in this cycle is that I find a really good book. It happens. It always has so far. Sometimes it's not even a new book, it's an old one that I've missed. No matter the means, inevitably, I find another good book.

Waiting for that moment is difficult because the timeline can stretch out indefinitely. And I'm not the best of waiters.

I've been in the dearth section of the cycle for a while now. So, two weeks ago, when I was in Town, I stopped by the library and started pulling books off the shelves. Anything that looked remotely readable. I narrowed the pile down to eight books, and left the rest for next time.

And it turns out that the first one of the eight that I read is...perfect. A gem of a book.

It's...a fairy tale. I think that's the best way to describe it. But, it's not a fairy tale you've ever heard before. There's the romance of a fairy tale (don't let the cover fool you-- it's not a bodice ripper, in fact, it's quite tame), a little adventure...but mostly, I love it because of the ideas it approaches, some of the truths it touches. You can read the synopsis on the front cover and decide if you're willing to give it a go. I hope that if you decide to read it, you enjoy it as much as I did.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Latest Food Fetish

check it out at lufoodstorage.

A prize to the first person who tries it at home. --Lu

Recent Excursions

Last Monday we went hiking in the Out. (Out. Meaning, outside of a confined space. As in, The Boov who was locked in the freezer said, "Can I come into the Out now?" ---see, The True Meaning of Smekday for further context).

We found so many tadpoles one wonders if a plague of frogs is on its way in the near future. To my great dismay, none of them had sprouted little legs yet, they were all in the squirmy wormy stage. They can wiggle themselves through the water at a fairly fast pace, though, I managed to catch several of them.


And where there are tadpoles, there must be frogs, though usually they are harder to find. Not so where we were hiking:




(He looks like a sluggy bum of a frog all smooshed up in that hole in the rock.)

(I love how they sit on their hands... and his eyes are incredible. Can you see that his skin is iridescent?)


While we were standing at the side of the stream, The Rock noticed a humming bird had come unusually close to us, so we were watching it hover and then...it plopped itself down in a NEST that was Right In Front of Us!

It looks so regal. You should have seen how the branch bobbed and swayed when the wind blew. The little bird didn't seem to notice at all.


We found a snake in the pond, probably enjoying the plethora of tadpoles. And then later in the week, I was with some friends who caught just such a snake in a similar pond. This one, though has a fabulous red and black tongue:




This weekend we mountain biked in Prescott and came across a TON of these:





And one of the oddest looking things I've seen:

This guy has legs like a lizard, but moves like a snake (and seems to be in the process of sprouting a new tail...or maybe he's just dang ugly all the time).

His skin was really shiny too. Like it was slick from being wet. But he really wasn't near any water we could see.



Not all our run-ins with wildlife have been pleasant. Last night it seemed like every animal outside of Prescott had a death wish. We almost hit a chipmunk, a bird, a big dog (or coyote) that was already dead in the road, and a black cow (I was so startled at the sight of the cow...it came into view as we rounded a corner, and it was dark and the cow was black and for a moment I actually thought it was a Huge Dog. I cried out, "IS THAT A DOG?!" The Rock, who was driving and had expertly avoided the animal, said in a calm voice, "No, that's a cow." Duh.)

But those were all the anmials we Didn't Hit. A large jackrabbit wasn't so lucky. In fact, he was plain stupid because he stinkin' ran INTO the side of our car. Crunch. Bump. (I don't have a picture of that...)


Let's end on a happier note. These were in bloom last weekend:



and I jumped out of the car several times to get pictures. Ironically, my favorite shot was taken from the car, by The Rock.


I love springtime in the desert, don't you? --Lu

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May Two Four Celebration

Earlier this week I received this invitation:

HOW'S IT GOIN', EH? You are cordially invited to celebrate the birth of Queen Victoria with the OTHER Canadians!! In Canada, the national holiday in May is called VICTORIA DAY, but as the kids call it, MAY TWO-FOUR!

In Canada , this long weekend holiday is typically when people open up their cottages (they call those cabins down here) and drink many two-fours of beer with friends and family!! What's a TWO-FOUR? Well, it's a case of 24 beer, which you never see down here in the U.S. !


We are going to attempt to gather as much Canadiana as possible... a case of some Canadian beer, I'll make some poutine... but in typical Canadian-style, we're making this a pot-luck party... so bring a dish to share!


Feel free to wear red and white, or bring any Canadian music, stories, any Canadian paraphernalia you can muster! A prize goes to the first person to sing the Canadian National Anthem all the way through... (hey man, I've known the Star Spangled Banner from beginning to end since I was a child)
All hail the mighty maple leaf!!!

Here is a creepy picture of Queen Victoria , from me to you.





The creepy picture and the promise of a singing contest sealed the deal for me, and so we went to show our support and revel in all things Canadian. The poutine was tasty tasty tasty (even though there were no cheese curds because they couldn't be found...what's with that? Everyone loves curds but no one sells them except the ghetto south side Food City in Tucson and the dairy in Beaver, UT)

AND! I tied for last place on the Canadian quiz.

See if you can do any better:

The national languages of Canada: _______ and _________
The captiol of Canada: ________________
How many provinces and terrirtories are there? ( 9 and 4; 10 and 2; 11 and 2; 10 and 3 and 11 and 3)
What does RCMP stand for?
Which of these actors is not Canadian: Keanu Reeves, Pamela Anderson, Courtney Cox, Jim Carey
Is the CFL playing field longer or shorter than an NFL field? Bonus: by how many yards?
Which Canadian singer sings "I'm Gonna Getcha Good"?
What famous Canadian is mentioned in the song Sweet Home Alabama?
What is a double double and where do you get one?
What is a Canadian one dollar coin called? A two dollar coin?
What is the title of the leader of Canada? Bonus: what is his name?
When was the country founded? (1776, 1812, 1867, 1909)


Answers will be posted in a week. If you can't wait that long, email me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Inspires College Boys

One of our brothers is a freshman in college. A few weeks ago he was telling me about the sorry state of the internet connection in their apartment. Apparently it is unreliable at best. This causes no small frustration among the roommates, and finally, one of them started hatching a plan to solve the problem. The plan consisted of: gathering a group of other disgruntled people, marching down to the internet provider's office, listing their grievances, and demanding solutions.

Me: That's quite the plan. Sounds sort of involved.
My brother: Yeah, it is. ...He got the idea from Newsies.

Since when do college age boys even know what Newsies is...let alone let it guide their lives?!

Watch this for yourself and see if you don't ask the same question. Ah. Newsies. What a classic. --Lu


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Following up on Moatmeal, the breakfast of champions

Funny The Rock should mention "tut, tut, it looks like rain," for I came across this a week beforehand.

So charming. At 3 min, 19 sec. is The Line.

My personal favorite occurs at 7 min. And then at 39 sec. And also at 1 min.
This is only part two, but if you have never seen the whole cartoon, it is worth watching all three segments. I admire Pooh's overall confidence in each scheme. A true pillar of success for us all.
Our younger brother had this scene along with the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood, on his favorite blanket as a kid. It ended up being one of those things that was more holes than blanket that mysteriously disappeared (mom threw it away) one day. He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that was its demise.

Moo

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grandma Erickson's Bread Recipe

There's a new guest post on lufoodstorage--and a family recipe to boot (how great would it be to tell people you've just made Grandma Erickson's bread, knowing full well that you don't have a Grandma Erickson? What fun!).

And a post about water storage (it has a picture of my favorite logo...10 points (and possibly a prize) if you can guess what it is before you see it (you'll have to leave a comment if you want to argue that you deserve a prize for guessing correctly)). --Lu

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moatmeal

Sometimes books touch our lives.

Lately, the books I've been reading have touched it in a way that makes me want to write letters to the authors and ask, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"

In the midst of my frustration with the drooping quality of young adult and children's fiction I've been immersing myself in lately (maybe it's just bad luck on my part that I haven't been picking out The Best books), I've noticed that a book I thought was a fun read but not particularly life altering has, indeed, made an impact on me.

A while back, I read a book called Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie (as documented here). It was a funny book, and I liked it. It turns out, though, that 9ish months later, it's left a lasting impression. I hope you're not expecting something profound, because, it's not. In fact, it's slightly embarrassing.

The protagonist's younger brother has this cute/annoying/amusing habit of calling oatmeal "moatmeal." If there's an explanation for that in the book, I don't remember it. What I do remember is that I think "moatmeal" is a funny word and that I was amused by it as I read the book.

Happily (or should it be sadly or pathetically?) it's become part of my lexicon. Mostly because it still amuses me (see, I told you this was slightly embarassing). I know it doesn't amuse anyone else (in fact, most people probably don't notice the slight mispronunciation) which is fine because I don't intend for it to be funny to them.

This leads me to a more general idea: what happens when you read books? You learn stuff that other people don't know. (not necessarily important or useful stuff. Moatmeal being a prime expample). But then what happens when a situation in real life calls up memories of a situation from a book? You're left to enjoy the connection alone (unless someone else has read the book, but unless you already know that, it's usually not worth the time to ask around and find out).

This places you in an awkward position--especially if the reference to the book is a funny one and you laugh out loud.

Now everyone is staring at you, wanting to know what's funny. But how do you explain a whole book to them so they understand the context of the funny thing? If you make the attempt, by the time you finish, there's that lame silence that always happens after someone explains a joke. It's just not funny anymore.

This problem occured a few times when I was in high school. So, I came up with a solution. When I started laughing and my friends looked to me to tell them why, I'd just say, "Inside joke with myself." It explains things perfectly. And after a few odd glances and a comment along the lines of "WHA?" the conversation returns to normal. This leaves you relatively free to enjoy the joke while not having to launch into detailed explanations.

Although, I still would rather have someone to share the moment with. It's so much more rewarding that way.

Take The True Meaning of Smekday (I desperately wanted to write it "The Troo Meaning of Smekday" which is itself a reference to one of my favorite lines in that book and to Moo's post here).

Moo read it, then got me to read it, and at least one of our brothers has read it and The Rock has read it--and it's so much fun to make reference to it when we're together. It's sort of like quoting The Princess Bride in a room full of BYU students. Everyone knows what you're talking about and they're sure to enjoy the reference (but beware, because once you've started quoting from that movie in that setting, you're not going to hear the end of it for a while).

And that's just the problem with Inside Jokes With Yourself: they're not really all that fun. Maybe the first time it happens, but then it just starts to smack of lonlienss (and bookwormishness). And I know it's no fun to be on the other side of it either.

That point was driven home to me just a few weeks ago. For a while, I've noticed The Rock will occassionally say, "Tut, tut, looks like rain." I thought he was a little crazy, but, hey, I say "moatmeal" and he doesn't even flinch.

Then, we were hiking with our friend Richard, and in the middle of the hike, and totally incongruous to our conversation he butts in with "Tut, tut, looks like rain." Months of pent up thoughts that The Rock was slightly off his rocker all came into focus and directed themselves at Richard. "WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!" (It came out more forcefully than I meant it to).

Richard said, "That woman has an umbrella."

Sure enough, a woman coming down the trail toward us had an umbrella in hand.

"But it doesn't look like rain," I said in exasperation. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Turns out, that's the point exactly.

Richard explained that the quote comes from a Winnie the Pooh cartoon--in which Pooh wants to get at some honey that can't be reached, so he and Christopher Robin decide that if the bees think it's going to rain, they'll relinquish the honey. (disclaimer: I don't know how accurately I'm recounting the explanation, you'll have to double check with Richard). So Christopher Robin carries an umbrella and says, "Tut, tut, looks like rain," even though it really DOESN'T look like rain.

I'm glad Richard didn't just say, "It's an inside joke with myself" and leave me clueless and fuming.

So, the conclusion I'm rapidly approaching is that you should read Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie so we can quote and joke about it instead of me just having Inside Jokes With Myself.

But, I'm not sure that's a practical conclusion, so instead, maybe you could tell me if there are any moatmeal type references that you've been keeping to yourself. Or maybe you'll decide that it's too much trouble and be content to keep the Inside Joke with Yourself to yourself. --Lu

Mr. Grumpy Face

We're acquiring quite a collection of wildlife photos now that we're out in it more often. This is one of our latest, and it's might just be my all time favorite (and not just because I took it).

Happy Friday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom Appreciation

You know how as you get older you realize that your mom must have been superhuman to do all the things she did for you and your four siblings...

Yeah. That's my mom. I'm just barely starting to appreciate what she did for us.

Before I came to the FP most of my friends didn't have kids. Or else, when I saw my friends, their kids were elsewhere.

In the FP it's a little different. A bunch of my friends have kids--and their kids are rarely elsewhere. So I've been hanging around kids a lot lately. And my church calling is in primary so I interact with kids there too.

Now. When you hang out with moms and kids a lot as an adult who doesn't have kids, you start to notice things. And these aren't the things I noticed when I was a kid living with four other kids. It seems that my perspective has changed (shock, shock).

I notice all the things moms get to do. And now I realize how most of the time the things moms get to do are usually things they would rather Not do. (No mom has said those words to me, I'm taking a guess. But I think I'm right.)

Let me illustrate. Father and son campout was this weekend. The Rock took an 8 year old with him and they went off to play in the river and eat good food. I settled down with a book and left my messy kitchen for later (read: the next morning). Then, I got a phone call. My friend K wanted to come over an watch a movie. With her two daughters. Of course I was pumped (except for the cleaning of the kitchen part) but...I blasted through the dishes at high speed, swept the floor and started making popcorn. K shows up, and says, "Sorry for inviting myself over...I just...I couldn't make myself clean our house, and I needed to get out of there--"
I interrupted her and said, "Dude. No worries." And I meant it. The woman is a saint and she has people over to her house all the time, and watches other people's kids and generally does It All, and I was pretty sure she needed a WAY bigger break than she was getting by coming to my house.

So the girls try to sit down to eat the dinners they brought with them--turns out my bar stools aren't kid friendly (as the littler girl pointed out to me) because they tip over when a kid tries to climb up in them. They asked a jillion questions and told stories just about as often and HAD to see the pop corn as it popped (but the littler girl was too short, so I had to leave the popcorn on the stove to burn while I went to find a stool for her so she wouldn't use the bar chair and tip into the flame).
(I have broken into a sweat at this point, and I don't think it was just because it was hot in the kitchen from all the cooking).

Then K told me she had run into L and invited her to come with her daughters. And that was good becasue L probably wanted to get out of her house for a while too. PAR-TAY at My House.

I ended up with two moms and five girls all crowded around my laptop to watch Hotel For Dogs. You've probably never seen that movie. And that brings me to two points: 1. Kids movies are inane and a waste of time for adults. 2. Kids are wiggly, easily distracted, talkative during the movie and prone to revealing any mysteries of the plot that were previously keeping the adults semi-entertained.

As K was leaving she said, "After I put the girls to bed, I think I'm going to stay up and watch another movie." I interpreted that as: I'm going to watch a movie with a real plot. And no one talking over the movie saying, "I'm Georgia! I'M GEORGIA! NOT YOU. I'm THAT dog. I AM!" Sweet, sweet silence.

Today, a four year old came to sit by me during the first hour of church. I felt duly flattered. Then a dad and his two boys sat down by me. The baby started crying, then his 3 year old started clamoring for attention. Then, the three year old's pants slid down to his knees, but the dad was trying to comfort the baby and--it was borderline disaster. I scooped up the 3 year old, pulled his pants on and held him till the mom came about fifteen minutes later.

Then, I spent the rest of the meeting keeping the four year old somewhat entertained. We looked at pictures of Jesus and some of families (What are they doing in this picture? Where is the baby? What are they eating?). Then, she colored in the children's magazine I happened to pick up from a table in the lobby. Then, she started drawing (thankfully I had scrap paper), then she wanted me to draw (do you see how I'm not really listening to the talks...see how I'm thinking about what activity she can do next? it was nice to have a legitimate excuse for drawing pictures during church for once!), so I started drawing connect the dot pictures for her. She liked them, which was both good and bad because then I got to draw more.

Then, we went to primary. Then...well, let's just say we had a pretty good lesson in spite of the howling, running, cock-a-doodle-doing, the shrieks of "LEAVE ME ALONE!,"and turning off-and-on of lights ("It's NIGHT! now! Now, it's day!)


So with that little taste of almost motherhood, I'm seeing that the best mother's day gift I could have given my mom 15 or 20 years ago was a day by herself--one where she could have decided what she wanted to do. If she wanted to hang out with her friends, she could have (without having to bring along coloring books and snacks) and she could have stayed as long as she wanted (without hearing Is it time to go yet? I'm bored repeated over and over again). Or if she wanted to watch a movie in silence, a movie with a plot that was actually interesting she could have. Or she could have quilted, or scrapbooked or...Done whatever it was she wanted to do.

That would have been a good gift.

You know though, once you start hanging out with kids, you start to miss them when they're gone. There's no one telling you stories, or showing you the song they just made up, or spinning on your office chair. And all that silence, while relaxing at first, isn't quite as fun as all the noise was.

So. Happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers. And for those of you with kids, you can come and swap me places for a day when you need to have just a little time to recoup. Because you and I will both enjoy the change of pace. --Lu

Friday, May 1, 2009

3 month supply guest post

Yep. There's a new guest post over at lufoodstorage. Even if you aren't really in to food storage, this list is pretty entertaining because the guest author, Amanda put in some funny comments. Check it out. --Lu