Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Hot Summer Sunday

(heat index today: 100 degrees F)

What a good day, from start to finish! First I went to church. The Rosebud team reported on their recent work week. I didn't get to go along this year, so I was eager to hear about it. They had good pictures and good stories.

After church we ate fry-bread tacos. Yum.

Then six of us took off for a day-trip to the lake. This was a real treat! JR won a Retreat for Six at a fund-raiser/silent auction last fall. There happened to be six of us in attendance at the silent auction, so JR shared her trip with us. How lucky we felt to be included in this fun day!

The spot was on this beautiful lake, not far from where we live, but in Wisconsin, making it a cross-cultural experience (crossing a state line -- haha!).

These two sisters were our gracious hosts. Their family has a long history at this lake spot; they are the current co-owners. They have hosted many people for fun, relaxation, and good food over the years. They shared the photo album of historical photos... one visitor is a famous actor whose name you would recognize! (But I'm not telling.)

We swam, and it was so refreshing. Then we had some snacks, and then we had a pontoon ride around the lake. We saw two more lake places that belong to famous people; one is a local celebrity and the other is both local and nationally known, although is now an angel in Heaven. Again, I'm just saying this was fun to know, but I'm not going to share who these people are.

I will tell you this much: this bird was doing some kind of odd stance on the dock of one of the famous cabin owners. I theorized that the bird was hot and was trying to get a cooling breeze through his wings. But taking a dip in the lake and/or standing in the shade probably would have been more productive. He had his own ideas, however. And he politely stayed in this pose long enough for me to get a decent photo.

After the pontoon ride we swam some more, sat in the shade chatting, and then they served us a scrumptious meal. The meat was a Korean dish.. I've already forgotten the name. It was yummy. And for dessert: meringue topped with ice cream and fresh fruit.

We were spoiled rotten all day, and it was the perfect way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon. Thanks for sharing this retreat with us, JR, and for hosting us so lavishly, Sisters!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Went to the Library and Got Lucky

I found this fun idea today and just have to join in. Crazy for Books is sponsoring a blog hop every Friday. The blogs will be all about books, reviews, new books we can't wait to read, and everything fabulous about books! This makes my heart flutter with happiness!

Book Blogger Hop
The question of the week is this:
“Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!”

Easy one, as I just went to the library yesterday and got lucky! Our library has a Lucky You section. "Hot" books are on the Lucky You shelf, and if you are lucky, you find the hot one(s) you can't wait to read. You have one week in which to read them. I hit the jackpot yesterday when I found two:
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
Room by Emma Donoghue

I was so excited! I immediately put aside the book I'm currently reading, and started reading Shadow Tag. I am over halfway through, so I know I'll finish it today and can dive into Room very soon.

Erdrich is such a great writer and wordsmith. She's amazing! Once I was lucky enough to attend a book discussion AT her very own bookstore in Minneapolis with Erdrich HERSELF in attendance. That was fun. I tried not to be intimidated, even though I'm awed by authors and especially super intelligent ones like Erdrich. I love her bookstore, but don't get there very often, even though I sort of live in the area. My sister also owns a bookstore (I know.. aren't you jealous?) so that's my book shopping place of choice. I get a Sister's discount, don't-cha know!

What fun would life be without books?? I think it's time to go curl up with Shadow Tag and get it back on that Lucky You shelf.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After Our Fourth Baby

There truly never is a dull moment! We just found out that Charles is getting laid off at the end of August. You might be interested to know his lay-off history: right after our first baby was born, he was laid off. Six years later we had recovered and decided to have another baby -- right after second baby was born, he was laid off. Once again we recovered and about six years later we decided to build a house. House was built, and closing time was fast approaching -- he was laid off again. (House = our third "baby.") We managed to make it for several years this time... and even made it a year past the next Big Event... but, alas, one year after I retired (our fourth "baby"), he gets laid off again. We have to stop having Big Events!!

Luckily Charles has some excellent, marketable skills and he feels somewhat confident of finding something, at least eventually. We may have some lean times if it takes a while, however. Also, he and I are not getting any younger! So that's a worry this time around. Does an almost-old man stand a chance of being hired? Might he be "too good" or "too expensive?"

Crossing our fingers, and hoping we once again recover from this career challenge. Your crossed fingers, too, might bring us some good luck!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Three Excellent Books

wedding cake by cupcaketastic

Recently I finished reading Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. We are having a lively discussion about it at a small group that is part of goodreads dot com. Very fun. The book is sweet, funny, and simple, on its surface. But it's not a simple book. It is about healing and re-building lives after the genocide in Rwanda. The main character bakes cakes for a living. She is sweet and kind and strong, and she encourages other women to be survivors and to build on their strength. Through this process she learns to do so herself. It's an excellent book, and I loved the characters.

The other book I just finished is Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History by Thomas N. DeWolf. Fascinating book! I learned so much! This family's ancestors were heavily involved in the slave trade out of Bristol, Rhode Island. They travel to Bristol, also to Ghana and to Cuba to study the history of slavery and to learn about its implications from those old days up to modern times. This is a great book to get us thinking about racism in the U.S. and to confront our legacy as a nation. I highly recommend this book!

While I was in Georgia my local book group met and discussed Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. That was another great book; I was glad I read that and learned more about what happened in Rwanda so that I had that background when I read Baking Cakes...

I sure love to read!!! What are some good books you've read recently?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back From Atlanta

I just returned from a week in Atlanta, Georgia. I stayed with my friend, JS, and I also stayed a few nights in a downtown hotel. We attended a national interpreters' conference.

Amazingly, this is the 4th national conference I have been to! They take place every two years. I used to never even consider going, but once I experienced one, I saw the enormous value in them. The main benefit is collecting loads of CEUs in one week, so that the accumulation of CEUs does not become stressful at the end of my certification cycle.

Also, of course, there is the socializing and networking, and being right there when new decisions are made and new research is revealed. It can be pretty amazing.

This year the particular workshops I chose to attend were on the boring side, but I'm not letting that dampen my enthusiasm for the national conferences. As I get further along my road of retirement, I may not need to attend any more of these, but I might want to try, just for the fun of it!

inside of the hotel.. it has 47 floors!

Peachtree Center in downtown Atlanta

conference opening ceremony

We had some great Southern food! This is fried green tomatoes. They were delish!

crab cakes and grits

I couldn't go to Atlanta and NOT have a piece of pecan pie!

our waiter at "Pitty Pat's Porch" - we had a blast and the food was great!

networking with interpreters from Georgia

more "terps"

two more terps- of GA and of MN

I had enough time to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr., Historical Site

It's so interesting, and I'm so glad I went!

This is the house in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929, and he lived there up to age 12.

While searching out a lunch site, I spotted this door. How cute! It didn't seem to lead to anything that was currently open for business.

I ran into Rhett Butler! He insisted on kissing me.

Of course, I had to show you some fabric creations. I finished one hat and made a second from start to finish. Knitting is a great activity to do while listening in workshops!

Now I'm home, sweet home, and glad to be back!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mistakes of the Ungrammatical Variety

I often see signs and notices containing misspellings or incorrect use of quotation marks, commas, and other grammar markers. I usually don't have my camera with me, but I was able to catch this one.

"Please" ... with quotes, I guess they wanted to make the politeness of this request optional. Do it, bud! I guess is what they really meant.

Have you noticed any glaring grammatical errors, misspellings, or, especially fun, meanings changed due to a word omission or incorrect use in any public signage? If so, please share! If you want to, you can send me your funny photos, and I'll put them at my blog periodically.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Opening Line Challenge Answers

Here are the answers to the Opening Line Challenge I presented on July 16. Did you know some of them? Let's see...

1. (..dreamt I went to Manderley..) Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. I still have my old paperback copy that I purchased in high school. It was printed in 1967 and cost 50 cents.

2. (Mma Ramotswe had... ) The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Robert McCall Smith. I am in a slow progression of reading the whole series. I have read the first 8. I own 9, 10, and 11. I believe there is a 12 out, also. I wish he'd quit writing in this series so I could feel like I could get to the end! They're good books, though. Also they are very fun to listen to on tape; and the series made for HBO is great!! Wish they'd come back with more, but I heard someone key (producer, I think) died.

3. ( lying on the green carpet...) All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein. It's a memoir written by a Holocaust survivor. I have met Gerda Klein in person! She is a very kind and loving soul. She has counseled with people such as the student body of Columbine High School, to help them recover from trauma without holding hate in their hearts. Amazing.

4. (I sat in the lobby...) Broken Cord by Michael Dorris. This is one of the first books I ever read on the subject of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Sadly, it is still VERY prevalent. We need to do more about this completely avoidable delibitating condition.

5. (Here is Edward Bear...) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Did anyone NOT know this one?

6. (I first heard of Antonia...) My Antonia by Willa Cather

7. (The earliest streaks of light... ) Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher. We had a mini-session on this book at a recent United Methodist Women event. I've had the book on my shelf forever and have been meaning to read it. I promise I will soon!

8. (First Lieutenant J.C. carried letters...) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. This is another one I have been meaning to read.

So, how did you do? Did anyone know them all???

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Challenge: Opening Line

I found this challenge idea at Books For Walls, which, to be honest, is a web page that I'm not quite sure I completely understand yet. It appears to be a site that loves and supports books and libraries, but I need to read more of it to be more familiar.

Nevertheless, as I also love books and libraries, I decided to use this challenge which I found at Books for Walls.

Presenting the What's Your Opening Line Challenge --

Just tell me some cool opening lines of books you have read.. maybe you memorized one.. or maybe you have a favorite book and want to look at its opening line and share it with me here. You may know, for example, which book this opening line comes from:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Do you know?? (If you said A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, you are correct! Ding ding ding!)

I'll post a few here for fun and will include a few for which you can guess the book titles.

I just started a new book, which you may not have heard of yet; here is its opening line:

Everyone has secrets -- shameful episodes in our past that we try to keep buried.

The book title is Inheriting the Trade: a Northern Family Confronts its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History by Thomas Norman DeWolf.

Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.The book? Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Here are some you can guess. Warning: there is a mixture of easy and hard. (Please tell me both the book title and its author.)
1. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

2. Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.

3. There is a watch lying on the green carpet of the living room of my childhood.

4. I sat in the lobby of the Pierre airport, waiting.

5. Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.

6. I first heard of Antonia on what seemed to be an interminable journey across the great midland plain of North America.

7. The earliest streaks of light were barely breaking the eastern sky as we turned east in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

8. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.

What do you think? Do you know some of them? Give it a try! (and don't Google them before trying, unless you want to spoil all the fun!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Name Your Blessings

A year or two ago I was invited to write a guest blog post at Goodnight Gram. Recently I returned the invitation and asked Goodnight to be my guest blogger. Here is her wonderful post. I always learn so much from her! Read below, and you'll see why...

Name Your Blessings
by Goodnight Gram

A few weeks ago, my friend, Carol E., invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I agreed to do it. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that my soul had already entered its mid-summer stillness. Mid-summer is not a wordless time for me. Nor is it a thought-less time. As it turns out, however, my soul takes a contemplative break for that predictable spell of time that envelopes the anniversary of the death of my only child.

This is not a sad post. At least it isn’t my intention. I miss my daughter, but what I learned about death at an early age was that it goes hand in hand with life – a sort of two-for-the-price-of-one deal. What helps me the most is to name my blessings.

Do you remember the movie White Christmas? In one scene, Bing Crosby sings, “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

I like that tender scene and would sing the song to myself – almost silently – after my daughter died. It was tough to count back then. What helped me more than counting blessings was to name them. I found that names of all my blessing made me feel so much more blessed than the numbers.

Dear readers of Giraffe Dreams BlogSpot, one of the blessings I named a long time ago, was your blogger Carol E.

We know each other. Though we seldom have the opportunity to get together, I consider her a dear friend. We worked out of the same office for a short while a long time ago. The services we provided in an educational setting had some overlap. I liked her right away and missed her when her position eventually moved her out of our office and out of the building.

Recently, Carol posted some photos of a place where she had spent some vacation time this summer. I recognize the photos, because in 2003, I spent some time there too.
When my daughter passed away, she left behind a daughter of her own: five and a half years old. It fell to me to raise my granddaughter. Carol contacted me and offered me a chance to spend a few days at that same lake and cabin that appear in her recent photos. She gave me the key to the door, a map for the drive, and directions to find the property.

The water level in the lake where Carol’s family cabin is situated rose that summer – a negligible amount, but it rose from the tears that my granddaughter and I shed into it each day as we swam and played in the water. And if the cabin walls could speak, I don’t think they could find the words for the unbearable silence that befell them while we were there. We did our crying into the lake and reserved the security of the cabin for whispered bedtime stories until exhaustion led us by the hand to enough rest to make it through another day.

It was a healing time for us – at least a pained beginning of healing.

What remains the most remarkable step forward for me was not only the time there, but the tidying I did to leave her place as we found it. I wanted things to be in order for the next people in her family to use the cabin. I had to force myself to want to wash the dishes and sweep the sand that out bare feet tracked in, when my soul screamed to leave it all behind – in defiance of everything that had led us there in the first place, I suppose. But . . . I washed the dishes, swept the floor, carried out our trash, and named this blessing, ‘Carol.’

It will soon be eight years since that trip to Carol’s family cabin, but the blessing still remains. The calm water in the lake that buoyed us up as we played, was symbolic of the peace my granddaughter and I needed to go on. The gentle breezes that rustled the leaved in the trees reminded me that my granddaughter and I still needed to hear songs, and birds, laughter, and life. The sun that tanned us both a bit, reminded me that there is still warmth to be had in interactions with people we pass everyday – people who may be as brave at hiding their pain as we tried to be.

I try to name them all – my blessings – and Carol E. is right up there at the top of the list.

All you have to do is read her blog to know that I am not the only one who has blessings named ‘Carol.’ Her beautiful quilts have touched many lives and her knitting touches many more as she sends whatever she can to wherever there is a need. Her sense of color in her choice of fabrics buoys my spirit much the same as the water in her lake did. The books she reads and posts about on her blog give me the assurance that her heart is always seeking her next level of commitment to humanity. The respect with which she writes about her ‘Charles’, reminds me of the gift my own dear husband was to me. Her expressed care and concern for her children makes me ever ready to dip into the universe for the daily energy I need to fulfill my promise to my daughter: to raise her little girl. It all makes life look very bright as my gaze is drawn away from the dark pains that can make life after tragedy too cumbersome to handle.

If you can name Carol E. as one of your blessings, let her know. If you can name anyone else as one of your blessings, let them know, too. Who knows – maybe in the admission of our gratitude, our ‘blessings’ can be blessed in return.

Please allow me to leave you with two things before I go.

First, two sweet Hostess gifts to Carol E. are on their way to her house (see photo, above). I made the little giraffe bookmark for her. Thank you, Carol, for inviting me to share a post with your readers.

Secondly, something I wrote a long time ago:

Name Your Blessings

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

A phone call from a loved one,
A message from a friend,
A cat, a dog, a goldfish,
A child who plays pretend.

A snowflake on your eyelash,
A sweater knit with love,
A goldfinch at your feeder,
A hawk, a mourning dove.

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

A beach and someone with you,
A hike when you’re alone,
A peanut butter sandwich,
Popcorn or ice - cream cone.

A fireplace, a movie,
A book that makes you cry,
A thunderstorm, or rainbow,
A blue and cloudless sky.

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

The car wash with a latte’,
Canoeing on the lake,
Stalagmites, bright umbrellas,
The zoo, a birthday cake.

A drive across the country,
A lathe-turned wooden bowl,
A summer fest, a berry patch
A last-chance field goal

A lake, a quiet cabin,
The sun, the stars, the trees,
The sand between your wet toes.
What lovely blessing, these!

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
If you let them,
. . . the blessings

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Miss You, Rosebud!

Every summer since 2008 I have participated with our church on a mission trip to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. This year's team left this morning, and I am not with them. I am so disappointed that I could not go along this year! It is a life-changing experience. This year I could really use some of the soothing and warming experiences that one receives there.

We call it a mission trip, and it is a lot of work for those who go, and they are hoping to accomplish some cultural bridge-building through the friendship and work that is done by our team.... however I have always felt on these trips that I receive more than I give. This year, were I to go along, I would definitely participate in the sweat lodge experience, and I know what I would pray for while in the sweat. A sweat, run by a Lakota Medicine Man, is a very moving and unique experience. I still feel moved by the memories of the one in which I participated in 2008. I hope I can go to Rosebud again next year.

Here is what my church friends are on their way to as I write -- these and a whole host of other new experiences, as each trip is unique and has special events that touch one's life. I am praying for our team and also that this year's trip will be just as meaningful and fun as ever:

the long, long drive to Rosebud in Mission, South Dakota.. can't remember how long, but I'd say 8 to 10 hours from here to there.

Russell, the director of Tree of Life Agency who directs our work.. giving some cultural and historical information, as well as guidance on the goals of our work/interactions with the people of Rosebud. He does a fabulous job!

sometimes we're lucky and get to hold babies

one year we got to tutor in a summer school program... I just loved these kids!

the Warm Welcome kitchen is a fun place in which to volunteer - for some good chances to meet and greet the local folks

... or working in the thrift shop is fun; one gets a good idea of what is needed and useful to donate for the local residents. This year our church sent along tons of diapers.

going out to work on someone's home is another good way to meet local residents and to do hands-on helpful work

a fun extra for the volunteers is opportunities to learn about native culture.. here he was explaining about how mocassins are made

Mitakuye oyasin!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Depressed But Happy

Huh? Does that title make any sense?? I visited Walk a Mile blog; she asked readers to describe our current life in three words. "Depressed but Happy" is what popped into my mind. Yes, I have been a tad depressed lately, moreso than usual. But today I'm feeling happy. I still have a couple things in the far, back reaches of my mind that are sad thoughts. But I had a good day, so I'm counting my blessings.

Anyway, let's see... I'll share a couple recent photos, and then I'm going to bed.

I bought this skein of stripey yarn today and started knitting more baby booties. I like how they are coming out differently-striped. I am going to keep making them, and in the end, I'll see if I can match up any two booties, or if all the pairs will be stripey in a mis-matched fashion. I like 'em either way. (Hubby reminds me that Monk would need them to match perfectly. I don't think Monk just had a baby, so I'm not worried.)

I got a couple of fireworks photos this year from the end of our driveway, but nothing that was very impressive. The bright colors didn't show up like I had hoped.

Nighty-night! Sleep tight!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Rockets' Red Glare

a picture I took a couple of years ago, but the same scene is happening right now

While I hear fireworks popping in the sky around our neighborhood, signalling the end of the Independence Day weekend, I'll show you the last of the sewing I accomplished this weekend. I was pretty much a fixture at the sewing machine, except for tonight when we went out for dinner with Hubby's parents and a brother.

This weekend while I sewed, Hubby did some tree trimming and pruning, which required him to be up on our steep roof. That always makes me nervous, but he did fine. I hope he doesn't have to go up there ever again. He's almost a 60 year-old man! And his almost 60 year-old wife gets nervous about him climbing on steep, high inclines.

Anyway, here is the sewing I finished up:

a quilt for Taylor, a 12 year-old girl who has leukemia

label on a quilt for my parents-in-law

they seemed to like it

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Lots of Sewing!

So far I have spent my Independence Day weekend sitting behind the sewing machine... getting a lot done!

I made a top for Bundles of Love.. the colors are a little odd for a baby, but hopefully someone will like the brightness of it.

This top was assembled except for the borders and has been waiting patiently for me to remember it. I finally got borders on today and am hoping to get it quilted relatively soon.

I've been making house blocks just for fun and finally realized I had enough to put into a top. Not sure where this one will be headed, but it's not quilted yet, so I have plenty of time to ponder its ultimate destination.

This quilt is for me! I give away so many quilts that it seems odd just to keep one. I made this originally for another purpose, but it wasn't the right size for that program, anyway. And I liked the colors, it goes with the couch pretty well, and it will be a nice lap quilt for me while watching TV, reading, and knitting in the colder months. Diane S. quilted it beautifully (as always) and today I got the binding and label put on, so it is totally, officially DONE. Another UFO off the list. Hooray!

I feel motivated to continue sewing, to take time for some concentrated reading, to take a walk, to write a couple of letters, to knit and/or to do any number of other things. How does one decide? I want to do them all!! It's better than being bored and depressed, isn't it!? Yes!