Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Books

a photo from fall 2009

This week I read The All of It by Jeannette Haien. A man makes a death-bed confession, but only part of the story. His wife is left to tell the rest (the all of it). It was beautifully written, and a little gem of an Irish book. I loved the language and the descriptive prose which made me feel like I was in Ireland! I was hoping I would totally love the book, which I didn't, but I liked it very much. I've heard that Ann Patchett convinced the publisher to get this one back in print, she loved it that much. The author, Haien, apparently wrote only two books and died before she could write any more. So this one is a gem and one of a kind, a definite good read. I guess I give it 4 stars out of 5. Not sure why I can't give it 5 stars, except that it didn't totally grab me like I had hoped it would. Enjoyable, yes, beautifully written, yes. A total soul-grab, no. Not for me, anyway.

Recently someone friended me at goodreads dot com and asked if I would read the book she wrote. I purchased it and am reading it on my Kindle. I'm not too impressed and now I'm worrying about how I'm going to review it. I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Today I put in a long day's work. I had a couple of successes today and feel good about it, so... onward and upward. Hubby had a job interview, and they want to hire him. Now for the pokey business of getting it done through umpteen phone calls. Sometimes the slow pace of employment can be so frustrating! I'm quite sure we will still have plenty of food on our table. (oink, oink) So don't waste any time worrying about us.

Thank goodness the weekend is here! I'll be busy, but I'll have time to rest, too. I need some naps; it has been a long ten days while I've been learning my job and attempting to shut down my spinning brain while trying to get to sleep at night.

It's beautiful fall - my favorite time of year!! Love it love it love it!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Pot, a Pan, a Spoon, a Hat

edit: I found out it is supposed to be A Pot, a Pan, a Broom, a Hat.. but I figured this was close enough, and everyone who guessed got it right, except Mr. S who thought I was going to give away a million dollars... haha! I wish I could! It is from Fiddler on the Roof. My well-educated readers weren't even stumped.

Anyone know where my title is from? If you guess it right, I might send you a prize. I just said that and typed it without any sort of giveaway plan or what I might do or send. So take your chances. But send me your guesses.

I’ve been trying to do some sewing when I’m not working, too tired, away from home, taking a nap, doing church activities, watching television, attending a meeting and/or staring into space. I have gotten a little bit done.

A pillow for the boutique at church.

*Finally* got binding on this quilt. It will be sent to NYC for a program that helps people newly in housing after being homeless.

Made my September Lotto blocks for Sunshine. I meant to make more, but my motivation was low. (Small block is for Tammy to keep.)

My new job has been interesting so far. There is so much to learn! I’m still in training. There is an amazing amount of stuff to learn. Have I said that enough times? There sure is a lot to learn!!! It’ll be a while before I feel like a pro in this new job. All the learning is exhausting my brain. I’ve been really tired.

Have to go to another meeting tonight. I’m tired and don’t want to!! Waahhhh! I’m an irritable child tonight. Goodbye!

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Official: I'm Old!

Today is my birthday! I’m 59 years old. About 40 years ago this age was unimaginable. But now that I’m at this age, you couldn’t pay me to go back to what I was 40 years ago.

I’m having a laid back day. I slept late this morning (9:30). Then I spent some time sewing. I took myself out for lunch, and while I ate yellow curry chicken over fried rice (yum), I started reading a new book on my Kindle. It’s a very short book, so I’m already nearly half through the book. It’s a good one! I’ll talk about it on Friday.

Charles and Son are fixing our house. You know how a small repair always turns into a huge undertaking. We knew we had a rotted out spot and a problem hole near one of the basement windows through which mice felt invited to enter our warm house. I’ve been politely reminding (aka nagging) to get it fixed. Now I see why Charles was so reluctant to get started. He knew it wouldn’t be a two-hour job.

The siding all along this part of the house was attached in a goofy way at the bottom, so that it left a small space for water and mice to get in. The wood had begun to rot, and there were a few holes to fix. This has required cutting off siding, cutting out the rotted board, buying replacement parts, and who knows what else. Fun times!

Getting this fixed is a good birthday present for me. I completely hated having a mouse freeway that opened directly into our house. Yuucckk! Hopefully that problem will go away now.

Our cat has been consternated by the weird noises going on outside. He thinks he’s Lassie. He came into the computer room where I’m writing, stood up on hind paws and patted me with a front paw. Then started leaving the room, but turned to look at me, to make sure I was following. We just wandered over into the noise area and I had to comfort him. Cute and crazy!!

In case you were wondering... no, our cat is not a mouser at all. He's more afraid of the mice than they are of him!

We will do my official birthday celebration tomorrow night with some family members.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday Books, on Saturday

Friday I worked most of the day, then I went shopping. The dress code at my new job is a little more professional level than I've ever had to do before, so I had to get some new duds.

Right after that I went out of town.. traffic tie-ups made an hour and a half trip turn into a three and a half hour trip. Not fun! But I ended up at my niece's house for a home party.. had some good snacks, and niece and I chatted late into the night. Then Saturday morning (today) we went on to my mom's town for a short visit. Mom took us out for lunch, and we had more good chats. I returned home this evening, and now it's time to write about books, a day late and a dollar short. (a dollar short because I went shopping Friday after work.)

I just finished reading The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I think I spelled that correctly. I loved this book! It was so well written, and I fell in love with the main character. I've been thinking about her since I finished the book. She is a poor woman who works as a maid for a more affluent woman. They have a friendly relationship, but the book delves into the complexities that come with a difference in wealth and power. It asks questions such as: can a friendly relationship truly exist where there is power inequity? What are the ripple effects of such inequities? The Space Between Us takes place in India. I give it five stars; highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The State of My Life

nephew's recent wedding


I want to talk about the photo I recently posted in my blog header... giraffe and ostrich enjoying a good confab. Isn't that a great photo?! I did not take it. I recently re-discovered it in my saved photos. Unfortunately, I did not record who took it and where it came from. I would love to give the photographer credit. I'm sorry I didn't keep better records.

Today was my Big Day: I started my new job! I'm now a video-interpreter. I'm a sign language interpreter connecting a user of sign language with a user of spoken English via video/voice telephones. I have 30 hours of training to work through before I can be put out there on my own. So far I have only observed, but soon I'll do my first "in the hot seat" experience. I'm nervous and excited! I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my career. I expect to be working up to about 15 hours a week, so I'll still have plenty of time to enjoy being retired.... with just enough work to fill in my days and keep me connected to other adults and the outside world.

Charles has a job interview later this week. He has been working one day/week and is getting his own consultant business plan firmed up. We're hoping that soon his job leads will materialize into more days of work. Paying bills is kind of a priority!

Son cleans up well.

Son now has an official date for his move to another state: Oct 17. Woe is me! I'm going to miss him! But as he says, we will have an interesting place to visit.

Daughter is doing well, and her birthday is coming up soon. Her birthday is always a gorgeous day!

my new hairdo, a little windblown

I've been having fun doing a lot of reading and sewing, with time for fun family time and outside activities. So the state of my life is pretty good... things are going well, I'm happy, and have a lot to look forward to, as well. Can't ask for much more than that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Packed Weekend

a cutie at church

Do you want to hear a boring blow-by-blow account of my busy weekend? No, I didn't think so. I was busy all day Saturday and Sunday. It was busy, but a good weekend. Finally I got a nap at about 3:30 today. That's the gist of it.

I'm loving having Son living at home for now. He plans to move away in mid-October. I'm also loving having Hubby at home most days. [edit: what I meant is: I love having him home every day, and for now he is home most days while working on finding new jobs.] He's working from home, mostly planning and building his new consultant business. One perk for me - he invites me out on a walk with him every day, which has been very good for me. It's what I needed all along - a walking partner.

My new job starts this next Tuesday. I'm excited, nervous, and hopeful. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Books

Lately I have been on a huge sewing spree... having a blast, but it leaves very little time for reading. Mostly I read in bed just before my eyes slam shut, a very inefficient way of making it through a book.

I'm currently reading Gravesavers by Sheree Fitch. It was chosen as a book club selection at my online group, but people had a hard time finding a copy. I guess it is out of print. Because of that, a different book was chosen. However, I found Gravesavers quite easily at Amazon... I got it for one penny! Plus $3 or $4 shipping, of course. Because I had a copy, I decided to go ahead and read it, to see what we missed.

I'd never heard of the book before, but am enjoying it. I'm about halfway through now. It's a modern story of a family who suffers a miscarriage, and they send their daughter to live with Grandma for the summer. Interwoven is an older story of immigrants coming via ship to North America from Europe. Both story lines are enjoyable, and I'm wanting to get back to the book to see what happens, and how the story lines merge, as I assume they will. But that darn sewing keeps interfering with my reading time.

Can anyone send me hours 25-30 for a day or two so I can get this book completed?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bring a Bag Lunch

I've been sewing things to sell at our church boutique. I'll need to perfect my system on lunch bags, or I'll have to charge $35 per bag to pay for the labor I've sunk into these things. This one took me several hours, and almost every step required ripping out and re-doing at least once. And did I think to write down the correct steps so that it could be streamlined the next time? Well, yes I thought about it. That's as far as I got with the writing project.

After all the laborious hours, I ended up with a lunch bag that I love! Isn't it cute? (she said humbly)

Last night at quilt guild I turned in a couple quilts that I made for Bundles of Love. Here's the newer one (I showed the other one here a while back ... nothing exciting). Diane quilted this for me in beautiful, neon green thread. So cute. And I forgot to photograph the back which was a pretty green and yellow leaf pattern.

Later today: more lunch bags will go into production. I hope I don't lose track of my seam ripper.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Movies and Pot Holders

I've been to a bunch of movies lately, which is way out of character. I saw "The Help," and loved it. I wanted to see it again, so I took hubby. He liked it, too, and I enjoyed seeing it a second time.

We took our son to see "Contagion" for his birthday. That was one of those pure entertainment movies that was just fun. ALL the previews before we saw "Contagion" were so violent. I couldn't even look at the screen. I was worried that meant that "Contagion" would be violent, too. But it wasn't (other than millions of people dying). Why do American movies have to be so violent?? I can't stand that. It's not necessary. Anyway, that's my soap box.

Today I went to "Sarah's Key." What a GREAT movie! I loved it! I liked it even better than "The Help," and I liked it better than the book "Sarah's Key."

OK, now it'll probably be another year before I see any movies, which is my usual M.O.

I haven't had much sewing time lately, but I've been making pot holders when I get a few spare minutes. They'll be for sale at our church boutique on Oct 26. Want to come shop??

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This and That

Son's first Easter, 1987

Today is our son's 25th birthday! Happy Birthday, Son! You have been a joy for 25 years. A mom couldn't be happier. In fact, I'll come right out and say it... you are my favorite son!

Also today our nephew is getting married in New York state. We couldn't make it to the wedding. I hope they are having a blast! 9/10/11... they have an easy anniversary to remember, unless they move out of the country and then it will be 10/9/11.

I have been putting off some duties that I need to address very soon. It's my lame attempt at postponing the inevitable: super-busy fall. My calendar is already packed. I'm supposed to be recruiting people to help with a couple of activities at church, and I hate doing that. Plus, if I start recruiting, it means we have to start meeting, organizing, and getting to work. Nooo! I'm not ready for that!!

So I've been doing lots of other stuff in my attempt to ignore the future.

Last night Charles and I went to see "The Help" and then went out for dinner. Date night! It's a rare thing around here. We really enjoyed the movie. I'd seen it before but wanted to see it again. Tomorrow we are going to see another movie! This is doubly unheard of. But that's one of the things we gave our son for his birthday: a trip with Mommy and Daddy to the movies. We're going to see "Contagion." Matt Damon... easy on the eyes!

I spent umpteen hours creating a Christmas gift for a family member. Crazy me! I had plenty of time but sat up til 2:00 and 3:00 AM working on this thing over the last couple of days. I'm nuts, but I finished the project and love it.

This year's A-Z reading challenge is almost done. I decided to read by author, A-Z (not in order). The only letter I have left to read is X, and that book is in my Kindle, waiting for me to choose it. So far I have read 38 books, even though there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. I doubled up on many of them and even read 4 of one letter! It's so much fun keeping track of what I have read. It helps keep me challenged and on track.

Ten years ago on 9/11 I was interpreting in a college class. The teacher kept coming out of his office where he had the radio going, telling us what was happening. I didn't believe it and thought he had grossly misunderstood something. It was scary, and too big to accept. Sadly, I found out soon enough that he was correct. RIP, dear 9/11 victims. We will never forget you.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Books

This week I did a lot of reading while we were vacationing at the lake.

I finished Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese (paperback). Great story teller! It grabbed me.... but not always. Sometimes I just loved the story and could hardly put it down. Then I'd get to another boring part and feel disappointed. There was too much detail at times, and excuse me, but just WAY too many strange coincidences. These things are possible in life, but not every time one turns around. Crazy. My aunt whose opinion I regard very highly thinks this books is one of the best EVER. She has read it three times. I guess I'll just have to disagree with her on this one because of my above objections. It has the possibility to be the best, with some slicing and editing. This author can tell a GREAT story.

I read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (Kindle edition). This is a true account of a woman who is stricken with a debilitating disease, keeping her bedridden. A friend brings her a plant and a live snail. This is the story of her "friendship" with a live snail while bedridden. It's cute, touching, and you'll learn a lot about the life of a snail. A short book, easy to read in a day.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher (hard cover) was for our book group at church. The book has three authors, one whose name contains a "Z," so I'm using it as my "Z" book on my A-Z challenge. It's the story of the shooting that took place in an Amish school, and the forgiveness that the Amish community extended to the shooter's family. Very interesting book. I learned much about Amish culture and religious practices. It also spurred probing into my own thoughts on forgiveness. It's something I would like to see more of in our culture (instead of so much revenge), but it's also quite a complicated topic. Good food for thought in this book.

If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard by jennifer Rosner (Kindle). A family discovers that their new baby is deaf. The book chronicles their struggles. The author looks into her family tree and discovers several deaf ancestors, then writes a fictional account of her deaf ancestors' lives, embedded into this book as her "journal entries." As someone who works in the field of deafness, I was a little disappointed with some of their decisions, though I know it can be very confusing for families who suddenly find themselves faced with this unknown. I also wonder about the "results" she claims they get from hearing aids and a cochlear implant. But overall, it was interesting and a good read. The family is close knit and doing their best to embrace deafness in their midst.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

More Time at the Lake

Because Hubby was laid off, we had to cancel our vacation that we had planned for late August (to Canada). Instead we went to the lake for a few days of leisure, combined with fun with family and friends.

Beautiful scenery, singing around the campfire, breadsticks over the fire, planking, jumping, and more. Can you tell we had fun? I don't even mind that we had to cancel Canada.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

My Son, the Rock Star

Saturday night we did our usual clubbing in downtown Minneapolis. HAHAHAHAHA! I crack myself up. We did go to a music event at a bar in downtown Minneapolis Saturday night. This was way out of the ordinary for us. It was kind of eye-opening, too. I'm used to quiet, little St. Paul which goes to sleep at night. Minneapolis does NOT go to sleep on a Saturday night. Wow... talk about loads of young people.

Anyway, our son has been filling in with a band called Matt Dodge and the Lobsters. Matt and one other guy are the main players, and others kind of ooze in and out as temporaries. That's what Son got to do, and got to perform with them on stage at the Fine Line in downtown Minneapolis on a Saturday night.

He had a blast! I could tell he was really digging it. But he's not trying to make that into a career, as far as I know. He is planning to move to another state, so being a permanent part of this band would be pretty near to impossible.

guy in white shirt is Son's friend, Matt

We had a good time, the music was loud, the energy was fun, and I'm glad I don't have to do that kind of lifestyle every night. Not my thing! (My usual downtown Minneapolis night activity would be to attend the Minnesota Orchestra, which is quite a different crowd.)

It was fun to talk to Son this morning and hear excitement in his voice. He had a blast being on stage.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Books

reading in downtown Saint Paul

I am still reading Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. I'm loving it, but life takes over sometimes, and I don't get the reading time I want. Yesterday I spent all day sewing stuff for our church boutique, even though I wanted to spend some chunks of time reading. I only read a few pages when I got into bed, and stopped when my eyelids started slamming shut.

At goodreads(dot)com I have entered several giveaways, and I won two of them:
What It's Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes
The Driver's Seat by Marc.. something

Gotta add these to my list of books to read fairly quickly. They give these away so that people will read them and review them. And I need to stop entering these giveaways! I'm already drowning in books!

Taking car in for an oil change today, so that'll at least give me some time to sit and read. Hooray!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Employment News

unemployed love birds

Charles was laid off but given a month's notice. So all through the month of August he continued to work while knowing they had decided he was "expendable." That may not be the way they would word it, but when one gets laid off, that's how it feels.

Yesterday was his last day of work. The worker bees, as I call them, the ones who do the work and know how valuable Hubby's help was, took him out for lunch. They gave him a Thank You card in which each person had written a small note. It was a wonderful tribute to his work and how much they had relied on his help. The card made me cry! I'm glad they showed their appreciation.

So Charles is now unemployed, except that they have agreed that he will go into his previous office on a consultant basis one day a week. So he does have a fraction of an income. We'll see what else he can round up.

I have some job news as well. I got a new job! I will be a video relay interpreter, the connecting voice between two parties who otherwise could not communicate via telephone. I am excited, but part of me is scared! This is a different arena from where I spent my career (education) so it is going to feel strange. I have a lot to learn. The new job starts in a couple of weeks.

I like that I will be working in the field in which I was trained and spent my career (interpreting) rather than the odd, random jobs I had found for myself last year (scoring standardized tests, for example). I plan to continue doing substitute interpreting in the schools as well, if they want and need me.

Having some decent jobs makes me feel good that I can contribute to the family finances. Charles will find more to fill his days, too, I am sure. I am confident in his abilities. For now we are both unemployed, but not worried. We'll make this work by hook or by crook.