I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won't fall down.
No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
That's the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn't matter much whether you get where you're going or not. You'll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home.
Mimi collected salt and pepper sets. Standing in her kitchen, I would admire the rows and rows of matching shakers from all the places she’d been. There were twin alligators, desert cacti wearing cowboy hats, and black faced African women, with red kerchiefs and big white eyes. I used to try and count them when I was small – I know she had hundreds. Later, when I was older, I used to go through the alphabet in my mind as I ticked off the sets from each state – Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas...
Working as loss prevention detectives for Walgreen’s, Mimi and Grandpa traveled all over the country to shop. Grandpa said Mimi was really good at catching employees who were skimming the cash registers. I could close my eyes and imagine them driving down the road, headed for somewhere like Memphis, Tennessee, to work a store. They’d stop at a little roadside café for coffee, and browse the souvenirs for the perfect salt and pepper set.
What did they see in Portland, Oregon? Were the little girls there like me? Did the food taste different in Gillette, Wyoming? Did they have scary tornadoes in New York, too?
In her tiny kitchen, those salt and pepper sets were like a travel guide or a full color atlas – beckoning my younger self to travel across the country and see new places in our great United States. I was captivated by the romance of life outside my own little Oklahoma town and the call of the open road echoed in my ears. Even today, I still love to trace my finger along maps and imagine what it must be like to drive down a scenic highway I’ve never driven before.
What did I learn from Mimi’s salt and pepper sets? Go as far as you can to see all you can see. Enjoy the diversity of people and places so different from home, and remember to hunt for the perfect treasure to bring back – something that will remind you of the wonderful things you saw and did.
Mimi’s house was a little brighter for all the treasures she brought back from her travels. And I love the handful of salt and pepper sets that she passed down to me. As I gaze upon them in my own little kitchen, they remind me most of how she always came home from her adventures, because that was where she really wanted to be.
Me too, Mimi. Me too.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
This post is a review of one of the books from my TBR pile for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2007, hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days. You can find the books in my TBR pile listed below.
Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance. - A.E. Newton
Spring Reading Thing Challenge
A Review of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned, Meggie couldn’t get to sleep.
The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against her ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages. “I’m sure it must be very comfortable sleeping with a hard, rectangular thing like that under your head,” her father had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. “Go on, admit it, the book whispers its story to you at night.”
“Sometimes, yes,” Meggie had said. “but it only works for children.”
And so, the adventure of Inkeheart begins.
Inkheart is a delightful young-adult-fiction book written by Germany’s third most popular children’s book writer, Cornelia Funke. This book was recommended to me over virtual lava cakes and coffee by Amy at the Ultimate Blog Party.
Living with four teenagers, I am still an occasional children’s /young adult’s book reader. And I’ll admit, I am a sucker for any book that can transport you into a whole new world. (Cue the Disney music.)
One of my favorite parts of any really good book is the amazing use of language. I relish words that paint you into the picture, grab your attention and carry you away on the most amazing musical wind – just ask my daughters – I am constantly calling them into the room to read aloud some beautiful passage so that we can marvel at it together. Here are a few samples from Inkheart:
Night was fading over the fields as if the rain had washed the darkness out of the hem of its garment.
“Please, Mo, read to me!” said Meggie. So Mo began filling the silence with words. He lured them out of the pages as if they had only been waiting for his voice, words long and short, words sharp and soft, cooing, purring words. They danced through the room, painting stained-glass pictures, tickling the skin. Even when Meggie nodded off she could still hear them, although Mo had closed the book long ago. Words that explained the world to her, its dark side and its light side, words that built a wall to keep out bad dreams. And not a single bad dream came over the wall for the rest of that night.
One of my favorite things about Inkheart is that the author begins each chapter with a carefully chosen quote from one of many classic children’s books. Some of these books are familiar old friends, and some beg to be added to my TBR list. Ms. Funke used these snippets to either transport the reader back into the pages of a much loved story, or beckon the reader into a new story full of everything that fills an enchanted world. Books like:
L.M Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe
Isaac Bashevis Songer’s Naftali and the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus
Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows
William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Michael de Larrabeiti’s The Borribles Go for Broke
Roald Dahl’s The BFG
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
A true reading treasure is the occasional book that makes it clear the author feels the way I do about words and phrases, ink and pages. Inkheart was such a book:
“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper --- memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
“Every book should begin with attractive endpapers, “he had once told Meggie. “Preferably in a dark color: dark red or dark blue, depending on the binding. When you open the book it’s like going to the theater. First you see the curtain. Then it’s pulled aside and the show begins.”
In conclusion, I can say that when the curtain opens on Inkheart, readers will find a delightful leap into a fantasy world where books come alive, words change the world, and danger is a thrilling and awesome adventure. The teaser in the flyleaf ends with the following words:
“This is Inkheart, a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.”
I have already ordered two other Cornelia Funke titles, and look forward to the day when I can curl up with my future grandchildren and read aloud from the pages of Inkheart --- at our own risk, of course.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I am so excited to see signs of spring popping out all over my yard! Red-breasted robins, hopping about in the bird bath, tiny little buds on the trees, tufts of green grass popping up all over the yard. (That reminds me, I need to have the Man-O-the-House do a lawnmower maintenance check.) I love the fact that I can open my windows and let the breeze flutter through the curtains and whistle through the mini-blinds. I don’t even hate the rumbling thunder that heralds a coming storm – as long as those twisters stay away!
So, in the spirit of spring, I’ve been spring cleaning the linen closet, the coat closet, the bookshelves, etc. I love my books, and wouldn’t get rid of any, when I can just pile more in ever corner, and build a couple more bookshelves to hold them all! The thing is, I usually have a fairly modest TBR (to-be-read) pile. But in preparation for the Spring Reading Thing 2007, hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days. I decided to scour the bookshelves, end tables, desk, and the catch-all space under the edge of the bed for books I really need to read this spring.
If you ever hear me complain that I just finished the best book in the world and have nothing to read, go right ahead and bop me on the head with the ugly liar stick! I am an Amazon.com used book seller addict! At the very least, I get a monthly un-birthday present from myself straight from my wishlist at zooba.com. I always have a TBR pile.
So, in the interest of full-disclosure, and cleaner tables, shelves, corners and under-the-bed areas –-- here’s what’s currently in my stack:
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss -– I read about this book somewhere online, (I can't remember where.)and was left with the impression that is was a must read. I jumped over to Amazon and ordered it used. I can’t wait to dig into this classic!
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke -– recommended over coffee and chocolate lava cakes at the Ultimate Blog Party by Amy over at Untangling Tales I ordered this one from Amazon, as well.
Believing God by Beth Moore -– being a Beth Moore novice, (I’ve only read “Get Out of That Pit” with the Bloggity Book Club) I nabbed this book as a freebie from the Billy Graham website a while back. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. I hope not only to read it this spring, but to use it in a Christian Book Club Connection Group (our church’s answer to the small group dynamic). If “Pit” was an faithful representation of Beth Moore’s style, I think it could be life-changing!
The Art of Standing Still by Penny Culliford -– I hear about books, or read quotes from them all over the place. I scribble titles on post-its, on the spare deposit slips in the back of my checkbook, and just about everywhere else. I ran across a ‘books I want to read’ list recently, and this was on it. I don’t know why. So I figured, why not! I ordered it from Amazon (see, I told you I had a serious problem) and it’s in the pile!
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg -– I ordered this one from zooba.com back before Christmas. I really enjoyed Fannie’s Fried Green Tomatoes, and A Redbird Christmas. This one should be simple, but fun!
The Princess Bride by William Goldman –- We absolutely love this movie. There are members of my household who can quote it verbatim, and often do. Probably one of the most often used quotes is “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Probably not funny, unless you know the movie the way we do.) Little snippets lace our conversations almost daily, and we have a hundred little inside jokes that have evolved from this one! So, I decided about a year ago to order this one because, in my experience the book is always better than the movie! I’ll let you know if it’s true in this case!
Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado –- I like to read fiction. It’s almost better than chocolate…at least as good! But I’d like to imagine that I am a deep-thinking adult and in the interest of learning more about this abundant life I’ve been given, I occasionally add non-fiction books to my TBR stack. Honestly, they often get sifted to the bottom, but occasionally in a fit of discipline, I will pick one up and read it. If it’s a Max Lucado book, I am always glad I did!
Digging to America by Anne Tyler -– I believe this one was recommended by my daughter, Sarah. She seems to be pretty popular (Anne, that is – though I do have a hard time keeping Sarah’s friends’ names straight). So I picked this one up off of a sales table recently, and into the pile it went.
Emma by Jane Austen -– One of the classics I never got around to. I try to keep at least one of these in my pile at all times. There’s just something musical about the language of the classics, the really good ones. It takes more brain matter for me to get through them, but they are so rewarding! I hope I enjoy this one as much as I did Pride and Prejudice.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith -- This one was a favorite of mine in high school. I still remember the book report cover I drew for it in my AP English class. This book really affected me, and I can’t remember why. So, when I saw it in the zooba.com catalog I added it to my wish list, and happy-un-birthday-to-me, it came in the mail! I can’t wait to revisit it after almost twenty-five years. (Wow, am I really that old?)
So the Spring Reading Thing starts today, March 21st, and goes through June 21st. I’ll be posting my thoughts on any really good reads in the interim, and then jump in with a final tally at the end of the “Thing”. For more great books-to-read ideas, check in with Katrina over at Callapidder Days, and let Mr. Linky be your tour guide!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Where I'm From
by George Ella Lyons
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the black porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I'm from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments-
snapped before I budded-
leaf-fall from the family tree.
Where I'm From
I am from Sonic drinks with plastic animals on the cups, from Sweet & Low, salt and pepper, and Campho-Phenique on Grandma’s kitchen table.
I am from wet, red washcloths applied soothingly to scraped knees or cut fingers.
I am from books, books and more books, since I was four years old. Nancy Drew, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lord of the Flies and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.
I am from notebooks and journals and scraps of paper filled with lines of poetry.
I am from reading in the corner, in the fork of a tree, and on the couch for hours on end.
I am from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, with Mimi’s notes scribbled in almost every margin.
I am from the power of words in Mom’s big blue dictionary and her red encyclopedias.
I am from Skip-Bo with Mimi, Canasta with Grandma, Spades with Dad and 42 Dominoes with four generations.
I am from weekends with Dad, scrambled eggs, Kung Fu, and Billy Joel.
I am from Saturday morning garage sale bargains, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Schoolhouse Rock.
I am from weekly allowances for Chick-O-Sticks, Lik-A-Stiks and Pixi Stix.
I am from “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf; I looked in the water and saw myself.” From Brownie Wings, and the Girl Scout Promise and Camp-Wah-Shah-She.
I am from Dukes of Hazzard every Friday night, trips to The Dock and fishing from the bed.
I am from Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger on the record player, and the tick of the ten-minute-kitchen timer on the phone with my friends.
I am from the vibration of a table saw and sawdust in my nose, my mouth, my hair.
I am from Avon boxes stacked on the kitchen table, Skin-So-Soft summers, Emaraude, Mesmerize and Brut in the Green Bottle.
I am from macaroni with tomatoes, sauerkraut with weenies, chicken-chow-mein, and cornbread crumbled in milk, or in peanut butter and syrup.
I am from Grandpa’s peanut brittle, Aunt Ann’s enchiladas, Mimi’s coconut pies, Mama’s coffee, and tomatoes and cucumbers from Grandpa’s garden.
I am from the bowling alleys, the Century 21 office, and the shadow of the Old Phillips Tower.
I am from the church bus, Bible quiz trophies, youth group game nights and Silver State Youth Camp.
I am from Mimi’s favorites, Amazing Grace and Romans 8:38-39; from learning harmony out of the blue and red songbooks, walking the aisle to Just As I Am, and standing on the platform singing Beulah Land.
I am from speech class, drama class, tournaments and state competition trophies, slamming lockers, X-Men comic books, mushroom soup jokes, five-minute bells and notes passed in the hallway.
I am from “Just wait till I finish my cigarette”, “I’ll tell you what”, “Don’t Say Me That”, and “Well!”. From “The Gettin’ Place”, “a million little ignorants” and "I got-for".
I am from handmade matching dresses, grandpa’s tattoos, and the story of the monkey who spanked himself. From bathrooms with “Desiderata” hanging on the wall, from keeping your word and remembering where you came from.
I am from a family where ‘step-father’ and ‘half-brother’ were words we didn’t hear, from holidays and family reunions, something bigger than me --- bigger than us all.
I am from Texas pride, alive and well in Oklahoma. From facing each new decade with determination and a dream, from speaking your mind and knowing where you stand.
I am from Mimi’s arms, Daddy’s hands and Mama’s heart. I am from family.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
You know, I thought it was kind of dark….
Shadowy. Gloomy. Depressing.
Maybe it’s just winter doldrums. Surely when spring appears, my spirits will lift, and I will shake off this heaviness. That’s what I’ve been thinking for several weeks. Many of you who read my blog know it’s been a year of transition for us, seasons ebbing and flowing, and changes making demands on our family.
Job loss, changing churches, teenagers. (I love ‘em, but sometimes their drama is exhausting!)
But you know, people go through. They just do.
So I’ve been sitting here in my quite little life, waiting for spring, so I can cheer up, and kick this blues habit, when along comes this book club book by Beth Moore: “Get Out of That Pit – Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance.” I started reading a little over a week ago, and I really couldn’t get into it. I just couldn’t identify. But, I am a stickler for finishing books, especially when they’re part of a book club read, so I plugged on. And here’s what I learned:
Beth says, “We need a way to identify pits and know when we’re in them. So here goes, you can know you’re in a pit when…”
You feel stuck.
You can’t stand up.
You’ve lost vision.
I guess I’ve identified that nasty smell. It’s a mixture of slime, mud and mire. Congratulations, TaunaLen, you’re a confirmed pit-dweller. Oh, my.
I had several misconceptions about pits, before reading this book, for instance:
Did you know that you can get into a pit more than one way? You can get thrown in – by circumstances, by people. You can be totally innocent, and get knocked into a pit, blindsided, and knee-deep in mire before you know what hit you. Beth gives a few examples -- being hit by a drunk driver, being a victim of violent crime, being a victim of mental illness, alcoholism, infidelity, disease, job loss, molestation, or the death of a loved one – just to name a few.
You can also end up in a pit by accident. Beth calls it slipping in. You’re walking along the path of life, and not really paying attention, when BAM. The falling sensation penetrates your consciousness moments before you hit bottom, and there you are, stuck in the mud, and no clue how to get out. Examples? You borrowed some money to get you through the month – and now the interest is eating your lunch. You’re back pain was so unbearable, you had to get some relief – but addiction to prescription drugs wasn’t part of the plan. You were just friends, innocent enough, but the late nights working together at the office turned into a relationship that could cost you your spouse, your kids, your job, and who knows what else. And the list goes on.
Finally, you can end up in a pit by flat out jumping! You know it’s a bad idea, but the excitement is just too tempting. You want to steal the money, have the illicit affair, hurt that person, get high, drunk, etc. We’ve all been there. We think we can afford the consequences, manage the results, then…what’s that familiar smell?
The thing I really liked about Beth Moore’s book, is that, unlike so many other “Christian living” books I’ve read, it didn’t leave me feeling slimy and yucky, with no practical idea of how to change things. I was so relieved to be reminded that I don’t have to climb myself right out of this pit, or any other. I can’t. On my own, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to get unstuck. The kind of pit the psalmist is talking about in Psalm 40, is slimy, muddy, steep, and impossible to climb out of on my own steam.
Someone else can come to my rescue. Now I’m all for lending each other a helping hand, and he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. But I know there are just some pits that require more than a human hand, holding tight to mine, for deliverance. The Psalmist knew it, too. I need a God who can lift me straight up, out of the pit, and provide a good solid rock for me to stand on. The good news, is that I know a God just like that!
“Get Out of That Pit” turned out to be a really great read, and I learned a great deal about where my life is now, and what God wants to do about it. Beth provided some very practical application tips to help me see the light above me, and prepare myself to get out. I’ll leave out most of the details, so you can discover them for yourself, if you wish. But I do need to share one more revelation that impacted my life.
God can deliver people from pits in a split second. There are many examples I could give, but that’s not my point. Often, He goes the other route -- the one that requires patience, waiting, relationship. I really believe that God is all about relationship. I totally agree with Beth when she says, “I think God often ordains a wait because He purely enjoys the togetherness of it.”
So, here I am, on my way out of a pit, with strains of that old Jefferson’s “Movin’ on Up!” song ringing in my ears. And if you, like me, think you smell something a little strange, and yucky, I can highly recommend “Get Out of That Pit”. But don’t just take my word for it, read what other “Bloggity Book Club” people have to say.
Friday, March 2, 2007
Hah. Lay. Loo. Yuh!
It’s party time, it’s party time!
And boy do I need a party!
The moms over at 5 Minutes for Mom are party planners extraordinaire, and they have put together a bloggity-world-wide party that will last ALL WEEK LONG!
There are lots of really great people to meet – a little music, a little chit chat, and even the chance to win some prizes!
It’s one of those simulcast, multi-location things, sort of like a progressive dinner, where you have cocktails at one house, appetizers at the next, and nibble your way house to house – course to course, until you get to the dessert and coffee! The idea is to eat lots of goodies, make small talk, and essentially revel in the party atmosphere.
So, you are officially invited!
Come party with me!
And since I’d like to think I live by the following mantra:
“Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first!”
My stop on this celebratory circuit is gonna be all about the coffee and chocolate cake!
So let me show you to the coffee bar!
The barista can whip you up your favorite Starbucks concoction – lowfat, nonfat, decaf or leaded, with syrups, cream, anything you want!. Only the best for my blog-world friends! May I recommend this recipe?
If that doesn’t suit your palate, customize your own.
And for dessert, I have the best chocolate lava cakes.
They are hot out of the oven, decadent, rich and creamy. Mmmmmmm. What’s that? Do I have crumbs on my face? Oh! The recipe? I’m sure I have it laying around here somewhere, you’re welcome to borrow it! (Don’t tell anyone, but I got it from my book club buddy, The Thirteenth Tale” right now. It’s sooooo good! The imagery and the characters just draw you in. I have escaped into books since I was a little gal. Yep, started reading at four, and haven’t stopped yet. You should really check out this book, though. The closer I get to the end, the more I want to slow down and take my time, but I can’t – the pages keep turning, and I can’t put it down. Maybe Diane Setterfield has other books that I can devour, once this one is finished.
Another book that I just closed a couple of days ago was "Eldest" – the second installment in the Inheritance Trilogy, written by a very bright young man, who was homeschooled, Christopher Paolini. His first book, Eragon, he wrote when he was but a mere lad of fifteen years. It was very good. My son was inspired by Eragon, and later by Eldest, to start writing his own novel. He’s about 1500 words in, and working on character development. I think that’s pretty cool! Sadly, the third book in the trilogy isn’t out yet, and I hate waiting. So if you hear of it being released, be sure to let me know!
I have another book I just began. It’s the current bloggity book club read, authored by Beth Moore. It’s called “Get Out of That Pit.” If you’re a quick reader, you still have time to get in on this one; discussion doesn’t begin for another week. Check out the book club details here!
Oh, and I must tell you about this book I bought on the recommendation of Bev, over at Blessed Beyond Measure. It’s called “Resting Place – A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats” by Jane Rubietta. Honey, there are no words…
I’ve been trying to decide what book I would choose as my favorite book of all time. (besides my Bible, of course.) That’s a tough decision – I’ve been reading for 32 years. I’m not sure I can pick one, but I can tell you which authors have won my heart, and a place on my permanent collection book shelf. Here are a few more you should check out for yourself.
Richard Paul Evans
Sue Monk Kidd
Brock and Bodie Thoene
Frances J. Roberts
Before you leave, here are a couple of momentos for you take home with you!
If you are a book addict like me, I found a great place to get my fix! Zooba is my book-a-month club. It’s simple. You register, browse their shelves, make a wish list, and for a flat $9.95 a month, you get a great hard cover book mailed straight to your door! It’s like Christmas on the 19th of every month for me! This is where I found both “The Thirteenth Tale” and “Get Out of That Pit”!
If you are a book addict, who needs to get rid of some of the books piled on every flat surface, and tucked into every corner of your home, making it quite impossible to find a place for your guests to sit when they stop by for coffee and driving your spouse and kids to consider kicking you out of the house --- then check out this station, for an all access pass. Stop by the Starbucks bar for a refill before you go, and tell everyone what a great time we’re having over here! Who knows, I might see you later this week at some of the other celebration sites – and maybe you’ll even host a celebration of your own, and get a chance at those fabulous prizes!
Drop by for coffee any time!