Thursday, July 19, 2007

Housekeeping 101

I have been slowly working my way through Alexandra Stoddard's "Living a Beautiful Life", a book of encouragement for me regarding creating atmosphere in our homes. Implementing some of the practices over the last month has been a real joy! The front hall closet has actually been cleaned out and organized.

Benefits of living in a one-bedroom apartment: no storage space for "junk". Drawbacks to living in that one-bedroom apartment: no storage space for much else.

But as a little dose of reality, I came across this description of some women in Botswana in another of Alexander McCall Smith's books:

These were house-proud women, who kept the yard spotless, the sand brushed and raked everyday, the chicken manure cleared away and deposited on the melon patch; women who understood the importance of scouring your pans until the black was scraped away and the metal below was shining. These were not small things. These were the things which showed children growing up in the house how they should live their lives as clean, upright people.

Sometimes I read "homemaking" books and just roll my eyes in must be nice to be Martha Stewart...does she really expect us to believe that she does her own cooking, cleaning, and ironing?
But thinking of these "house proud" women in Botswana, what an make do with what we have, to take care of our homes, and to make them places that our children, and husbands, are influenced by...even though they may never realize it.

Anna Karenina: a pre-book review

This is a weighty tome, in more ways than one.

But I have a 3-hour car trip tomorrow to the campground, so I am going to dig in. And now I have announced it, therefore I am committed.

At 100 pages a week, I should have it done by mid-September.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Book Review: The Sunday Philosophy Club

I enjoy a book that occasionally sends me to the dictionary for a deeper definition of a word, or to a book of poetry to look up an author, so I really dug into this book by Alexander McCall Smith. My mom had introduced me to the joys of his "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, starring the delightful Mma Precious Ramotwe, and I was eager to begin this series next.
Isabel Dahlousie is a single woman in her late 30's living in Edinburgh. The book begins when she is at the theater, listening to a lackluster performance, and witnesses a young man fall from the "gods" (the upper balcony). Having an inquisitive nature, she cannot let her suspicion go, and begins a convoluted quest to find out the truth.

In hindsight, the reason I connected to this character is because her thought processes seem to work like mine...not the thoughts themselves, since she is a humanist, and a student of philosophy...but the way her mind (and mine) often "rabbittrails" to other subjects, or music, or quotes relating to the issue at hand. And I appreciate the way that she is always looking at the motive for her actions, and for the actions and behaviors of those around her. In short, she's a thinker.

I loved this description of a book sent to her for review and editing: the "article was weighty, but largely unreadable, owing to the author's style. It appeared to be written in English, but it was a variety of English which Isabel felt occuured only in certain corners of academia, wher faux weightiness was a virtue. It was, she thought, as if the English had been translated from German; not that the verbs all migrated to the end, it was just that everything sounded so heavy, so utterly earnest."

I think I have read some books like that myself!
Toss in a housekeeper and friend who is witty enough to send a book entitled "One Hundred Things for a Teenage Boy to Do" to a friend's husband in the throes of a mid-life crisis, and you have a delightful read.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quote of the Day: Charles Spurgeon

"The upright shall have good things in possession" (Proverbs 28:10).

We are accustomed to think of our good things as in reversion, but here we are told that we shall have them in possession.

Not all the malice and cunning of our enemies can work our destruction: they shall fall into the pit which they have digged. Our inheritance is so entailed upon us that we shall not be kept out of it, nor so turned out of the way as to miss it.

But what have we now?
  • We have a quiet conscience through the precious blood of Jesus.
  • We have the love of God set upon us beyond all change.
  • We have power with God in prayer in all time of need.
  • We have the providence of God to watch over us,
  • the angels of God to minister to us,
  • and, above all, the Spirit of God to dwell in us.

In fact, all things are ours. "Whether things present or things to come: all are yours." Jesus is ours. Yea, the divine Trinity in unity is ours. Hallelujah. Let us not pine and whine and stint and slave, since we have good things in possession. Let us live on our God and rejoice in Him all the day. Help us, 0 Holy Ghost!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Small Town 4th

Happy day after the fourth! We enjoyed at day at Roosevelt park, where there was music, a trip into the zoo, and the dedication of a visually unappealling, but otherwise moving memorial to honor North Dakota's Congressional Medal of Honor winners. The governor was there to speak at the dedication, as well as one of the medal recipients, whose acts of courage during the Vietnam war were nothing short of miraculous. Here is the article from the Minot Daily News.

One of the highlights of the day for me was a speech by a Theodore Roosevelt impersonator (below) who did a really great job, and presented one of Roosevelt's moving speeches.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
~Theodore Roosevelt "Citizenship in a Republic,"Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Book Review: Mirror Mirror

Okay, I must say, this book was just strange. Perhaps I am just not deep enough, or not in the right frame of mind. Gregory Maguire writes "twisted fairy tales", retellings of the famous fables that we all grew up with, and this was his take on "Snow White". But they aren't the innocent versions of the stories that we are used to. Instead of Dopey, Sleepy and Grumpy, there are Heartless, MuteMuteMute (who talks), and BlindEye, among others. I was longing for my sweet and bumbling dwarfs.

This retelling cast the infamous Lucrezia Borgia as the wicked and jealous stepmother...and it intrigued me in her story enough that I am going to pick up a biography about her life at the library. So if the purpose of reading is to expand the mind...the book succeeded...but for sheer entertainment value...I'd skip it and move to the Borgia biography. She sounds like the real character study.