Friday, June 30, 2006

Random Foto Friday

lock on cd
mary rachel

I have a new camera which knows how to do more things than I do. It is a Canon Power Shot S2 IS 5.0 mega pixels. I've been wanting to develop my inner photographer but can't afford to do the SLR thing. Today I was reading the manual and trying out the super macro setting. This was the result. The lens was less than an inch away from this lock which was lying on a cd. Not the best place for a lock but I didn't put it there. Someone told me about a shop that teaches classes on how to use digital cameras, this one in particular. Maybe I'll take it.

*naming the photo makes me feel like an artist... an affectation surely... but it's my blog so i'll do what i want! ;p

Booking through Thursday with Repeats

Booking Through Thursday

This week's questions were suggested by Marie.

  1. Do you ever reread your books? Oh yeah!

  2. If so, which ones? If not, why not? 1) Dick Francis books are like candy to me. A tasty treat. They are quick reads and there are so many of them, I always forget enough detail to enjoy them over and over again. 2) The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. It is an epic series and once I get started on the first one, I have to keep going to get through all six. The payoff comes at the end. I have re-read that entire series at least three times and I think it could possibly be four. 3) A Severe Mercy. I can't count how many times I have re-read that. 4) To Kill a Mockingbird. 5) Many others... I can't think of them all, because, as you can tell, my name is Mary, and I'm a re-reader.

  3. Do you read the books the whole way through or pick through for favorite scenes? I almost always re-read a book the whole way through. I can maybe think of a few occasions where I just wanted to read a specific paragraph or section because it is just that good.

  4. What qualifies a book for the reread pile? 1) Like I said about the Dick Francis. Sometimes they are just very enjoyable and quick reads. I know that I will like them, maybe don't remember all the details and so it still is fresh and I know what I'm getting. 2) Some books are just epic to me. To Kill a Mockingbird, the Thomas Covenant books. There is just something big about them to me so my spirit gets renewed re-reading them. 3) And finally, shoot me if this isn't a good enough reason, because I'm bored and it is there.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

musings of a mommy: LUE Mother Blogger Interview, Thrice is Nice

For my third Mother Blogger interview, I present to you Sheila of musings of a mommy. I've known Sheila for a long time but we only recently began deepening our friendship with coffee dates at Dieterich's and math tutoring sessions. Yes. Math tutoring. Sheila, a former high school math teacher turned stay-at-home-mom, spent a few hours tutoring me in algebra this past semester so I could know what Colin was talking about if he needed help.

Here are Sheila's answers to the Mother Blogger interview questions:

1. How long have you been blogging? May 28, 2004 - I've been blogging for two years now.

2. What made you start a blog? I started my blog when my friend, Sherry, started hers. She was moving to Montana, away from a close group of friends, and she wanted to stay close to them. She started a blog, and sent me a link and wanted comments. I got sucked right in.

3. Who is your “target” audience, that is, who do you want to read your blog? My target audience started out as my extended family. Many of my husband's aunties and cousins read me daily, but never comment. My mom and mother-in-law also read. I knew that Sherry would read me, and so have a few of her friends, who I met at her wedding, so I consider them my friends now. My target audience has extended to include several friends in my life now, several friends who have moved away, and I know I get the occasional new mommy, just because of my title and other moms who link to me.

4. What is your greatest challenge as a mom? My greatest challenge as a mom is my own selfishness and anger. It actually surprised me that this would be my biggest challenge as a mom, but it is.

5. How do you keep your identity as a PERSON, outside of being a mom? My identity as a person is kept intact through my friends and my hobbies. I have a great circle of friends, and they make me come out and play without the kids. They tell me how great I am and remind me of who I want to be. I have several hobbies besides blogging - the two biggest now are reading and knitting.

6. What piece of advice would you like to pass on to moms everywhere? I am actually writing a post on this topic this week! The best advice is this: pay attention to your kids. If there is a trend of disobediance or defiance, then they need more positive attention. They need some one-on-one time with one of their parents, or both. Spending time with your kids, doing something that THEY want to do, is the best way to aviod a discipline problem.

Well, that is the Sheila interview. I leave you with a bonus picture taken recently at her birthday party. Someone. . . SOMEONE. . . ordered her a cake with her blog profile picture on it. How adorable is that? It also just happened to match her swimsuit. Crazy!

Monday, June 26, 2006

my little circle: LUE's Mother Blogger Interview the Second

Here she is: Jaymarie of my little circle. I met Jaymarie a few years ago at church. She was relatively new there and I was overly busy with a bunch of churchy stuff so I didn't get to know her very well. The next thing I knew, she up and moved to Wisconsin of all places. When she and her husband, Ted, left, it was clear to me that in a very short time they had a huge impact on our community. People are still cryin' about it out here in So-So Cal!

Here are Jaymarie's answers to my questions:

1. How long have you been blogging? I have been blogging since November 2004

2. What made you start a blog? I started reading Sheila and decided that it would be great to have a space for my extended family and friends to keep up with our lives.

3. Who is your "target" audience, that is, who do you want to read your blog? The people I love and anyone else who happens to find it interesting.

4. What is your greatest challenge as a mom? Showing a consistant love and character to our girls is probably my biggest challenge.

5. How do you keep your identity as a PERSON, outside of being a mom? When I can find space to be creative, or think creatively I feel as though my identity remains intact.

6. What one piece of advice would you like to pass on to moms. Make sure you are willing and able to follow through with statements you make before you say them.

There you are! Coming soon to LUE: Sheila of Musings of a Mommy.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

LUE's** Mother Blogger Interview: The Bohemian Eye

I was cruising around the blogosphere today and came across a site that gives Mother of the Week awards. I read through a few of them and enjoyed them thoroughly. To get the award you get nominated by other bloggers. Well, me and my circle probably aren't going to get the kind of traffic that would lead to a MOTW award; however, I thought it would be fun to ask some of my blogging circle the same questions. I emailed a few friends and here is the first to reply to my questionnaire:

Meet Julia of The Bohemian Eye.

1. How long have you been blogging? About a year

2. What made you start a blog? Sometimes there are things in my life that happen, no matter how trivial, and I have no forum for expressing them. It's nice to have feedback on occasion, especially from people whose perspectives vary.

3. Who is your “target” audience, that is, who do you want to read your
Well, of course I would like people that I know personally to read my blog, like friends from church or my sister. But, I have no "target" audience. Anyone who is interested is fine with me. I tend to voice rather strong opinions about subjects. I also sometimes find things funny that other people may not. As long as people can handle that, they are welcome to read and comment.

4. What is your greatest challenge as a mom? Not killing my seriously. I guess it would be patience. I am not the most patient person. I am also a control freak. My biggest challenge is letting go and allowing things to happen on their own.

5. How do you keep your identity as a PERSON, outside of being a mom? That has never been a problem for me. I am an artist and photographer and also a part-time college student. I feel that there are many things that define me and that my children are only part of that. I would hate for them to grow up thinking they are defined by being MY kid.

6. What one piece of advice would you like to pass on to moms everywhere? Never let your children think that your love or acceptance is contingent on their ability to achieve or accomplish some external goal.

Stay tuned for more (I hope) interviews of my mother blogger friends!

**Life, the Universe and Everything

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Booking with Abridgements

Booking Through Thursday

We haven't talked about abridged stories for a while. These questions were suggested by Xine.

  1. Are abridgements a good introduction to long, boring classics, or a blight on literature? In my younger, more foolish days, I didn't think anything about abridgements. At some point, I became aware of more erudite opintions that abridgements were indeed, a blight on literature. I don't know that I had ever read any abridgements but I sure wasn't going to after that! Being all grown up now, I never really thought about it again before today. So, having now given it two whole minutes of thought, I think, for the most part, that works of fiction, at least, shouldn't be abridged because that changes the artist's creation. However, if anyone is of a mind to read works that are abridged, I don't have a problem with that.

  2. If abridgements have their place, what is it? I think the best place for abridgements is when a book is recorded. With an audio book, it makes more sense to condense the work. Having said that, I would still prefer to find one that wasn't abridged.

  3. Have you read any abridgements, or will you read any? Why or why not? I don't recall if I have. I know not in the last 25 years or so! I seriously doubt I will in the next 25 either.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

100 things

Posting lists of 100 random things about you seems to be the very bloggy thing to do. Inspired by my friend, chickenone of ky coop cast and her recent most excellent list, I present to you my list of 100 things you may or may not be interested in knowing about me.

  1. I am terrified of earthquakes, tornadoes, any other natural disaster or any man-made disaster.
  2. I am afraid to fly but will do it. (The last couple of trips, Xanax has been my flying companion.)
  3. I am left-handed. Go southpaws!
  4. I am a child of divorce.
  5. I grew up watching soap operas with my grandma: Ryan's Hope, All My Children, As the World Turns, The Guiding Light.
  6. I grew up reading Harlequin Romances. Sometimes they were the only thing around to read. My mom, grandma and aunts used to show up for family gatherings with grocery bags full of them to swap.
  7. I love sci-fi but would probably be considered a lightweight by real sci-fi fans.
  8. I love to read.
  9. I am 43 (blech!) years old.
  10. I was born on Thanksgiving Day 1964.
  11. I was born in Oklahoma but raised in California.
  12. I have two kids.
  13. I have one husband, that is, I'm still on my first!
  14. I received a BA in Literary Studies in 1990.
  15. I am a complete and utter slob. Really. Fortunately, my friends love me anyway.
  16. I am a moderate extravert.
  17. I am intuitive.
  18. I am more of a feeler than a thinker, but just barely.
  19. I am very, very unstructured.
  20. If I had to pick a pretend celebrity boyfriend, it would have to be either Daniel Day Lewis or Garbriel Byrne. Hugh Laurie (House era) would do in a pinch.
  21. I was once dubbed "the Sage" by a man who later refused to listen to any wisdom I had to share with him.
  22. I am a very good friend.
  23. I am a former idealist.
  24. I am a reluctant pragmatist.
  25. I loved drawing when I was younger.
  26. My career as an actress was killed before it began by a high school drama teacher who described me as mousy.
  27. I use more words in a day than the average person.
  28. I am a backwards perfectionist. If I'm not sure I can do something, I'd rather not try it at all than try and fail. How sad is that?
  29. I have the best friends a person could have.
  30. I am too much of a generalist for this list-making to come easily.
  31. I felt homely as a child.
  32. I felt invisible as a teenager.
  33. I got along better with guys than girls until I was a "g'rup."
  34. I know where the word g'rup comes from. Do you?
  35. I knew Rock Hudson was gay years and years before it came out in the news. My source? My mom and grandma. Don't ask me how they knew.
  36. I think Martin Short's impersonation of Montgomery Clift in the movie Cross My Heart is one of the funniest moments ever.
  37. I love old movies.
  38. I tend to think in metaphors.
  39. I never lived with my father.
  40. I have a half-brother I met for the first time this year.
  41. I had one brother who died of ALS.
  42. I have one sister.
  43. I love dogs.
  44. I am no longer making do with two guinea pigs.  Now I am just doing without.  Some day, though.  Some day.
  45. I am married to a guitar guy.
  46. As a child, I used to have nightmares about the sun going out.
  47. As a child, I was allowed to watch too many episodes of The Outer Limits, The Night Gallery and The Sixth Sense.
  48. I am related to two 30's era criminals on my mother's side.
  49. I am related to famous post-Civil War era outlaws on my father's side.
  50. I can't believe I'm only up to 50 on this list.
  51. I watch too much TV.
  52. I am now on the computer too much. Thank you blogosphere.
  53. I love giving presents.
  54. I think I am a hard person to buy for.
  55. When inspiration strikes, I give the best presents.
  56. When I am not inspired: gift cards or candles.
  57. I have come a long way, baby, but am still too insecure.
  58. I yell at my kids too much.  (Actually, not so much anymore)
  59. My kids yell at me too much.  (Ditto)
  60. I do not like being the center of attention.
  61. I used to cry whenever poignant dad moments were shown on TV or in a movie.
  62. My grandpa died in 1990; my brother died in 1995; my grandma died in 1996; my aunt died in 1999; my uncle died in 2004.
  63. I think death sucks.
  64. I am more like the grasshopper than the ant.
  65. I like it to be between 65 and 78 degrees. Any cooler or hotter and I am cranky!
  66. I am beginning to go gray.
  67. I had way too many sunburns as a child, blisters and all, to not think about the possibility of skin cancer.  My dermatologist would agree.  He wants me in for checks every three months and he thinks I should be covered head to toe every time I go out.
  68. My son (a rabid teenager) when asked to contribute to this list said that I am a control freak, communist, Nazi, social-life killer who is trying to starve him to death. (I love you, too, honey.)
  69. I think being a mom is the hardest thing I have ever done or ever will do.
  70. I didn't marry a "father type." Thank God.
  71. I'm not good with money.
  72. My husband would be good with money if he weren't married to me.
  73. I used to have excellent grammar skills. Ah, the good old days.
  74. I love stories.
  75. I know what persiflage means.  (Um, not so much now.  I'll have to go look that up.)
  76. I have jokingly considered getting a tatto but probably never will.
  77. I love Fred Astaire's version of "The Way You Look Tonight."
  78. I can't understand when people read only non-fiction. How is that possible?
  79. I have a problem with my pride.
  80. Vulnerability is not my strong suit.
  81. It took getting married for me to be able to deal with a lot of the emotional baggage in my life. Poor Paul!
  82. I like having painted toenails.
  83. I hate having painted fingernails.
  84. I almost never have all my bases covered, cosmetically speaking. I never make it out the door with lipstick, earrings, etc. I am just not good at doing the "girl" thing.
  85. Oh wait. I had a good one but I forgot it. I guess I'm more absent-minded than I used to be.
  86. I am currently wondering how people do these lists.
  87. I hate conflict and will avoid it whenver possible.
  88. I'm not good at finishing things I've started. . . but I will finish this list.
  89. I have a deep rebellious streak.
  90. I have zero athletic ability.
  91. I tell the same stories over and over again.
  92. I am a Christian. (Should I have mentioned that sooner?)
  93. My favorite worship songs were written by my husband and my friend, Tamila.
  94. I cannot stand John Lennon's song Imagine. I think it has the stupidest lyrics EVER.
  95. If I go to a sad movie with people, I might shed a few tears. If I go alone, I will really cry. Exception: Winona Ryder version of Little Women. I went with a bunch of women to go see that and when Beth died, I sobbed.
  96. I like the idea of gardening but not the real work of it.
  97. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
  98. Chocolate is a necessity, not an option.
  99. There can never be enough ice in my soda.
  100. I am newly a veteran addict of the sci-fi show Firefly.  I do my best to lure others to my addiction.

So, if you know me, how much of this list did you already know? If you don't know me and want me to explain anything on the list, give me a holler. . . I'll do my best to explain.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"A man is not where he lives. . .

. . . but where he loves." Latin Proverb

I read this today about a Girl Scout troop in Ohio which consists of young girls whose fathers are all in prison. They go to visit them once a month and have a troop meeting. The fathers, due to good behavior and participation in the program, change into matching polo shirts and pants and then do all the things that any other parent would do at a meeting with their child: crafts, snacks, etc. By being a part of this program, they get to spend two hours a month with their daughters.

I don't know what to say. This both broke my heart and lifted it up at the same time.
  • I am sad for these 11 girls in Ohio whose dads are in prison. It is sobering to think of these girls, as young as five years old, going to a prison once a month.
  • I am hopeful that this time with their fathers will help both the girls and their fathers.
  • I am grateful that my children will not have to experience anything like this.

On a lighter note, here are some pics of Father's Day at our house:

Paul and his present
Paul shows off his homemade guitar clock.

The guitar clock
A close up of the guitar clock.

Marley shows off our handiwork
Marley shows off the clock. Silly face at no extra charge.

Here are five things Marley likes about her dad:
  • He’s nice.
  • He takes me to the beach.
  • He likes going to church.
  • He likes me.
  • He works.

Colin and the scooter
Colin hides behind the electric scooter which, for some inexplicable reason, he brought in through the front door. Here are five things I pried out of him that he likes about his dad:
  • He lets me ride these scooters.
  • He gets Marley out of my hair.
  • He likes to barbecue.
  • He doesn’t like going to church functions.
  • He doesn’t like to take pictures of me.

Here are five things I like about Paul:
  • He pretty much brings me a coffee from Starbucks any time I want it.
  • He truly doesn't seem to care if I am skinny or fat.
  • He is in charge of the dishes.
  • He loves babies.
  • He is still here 18 1/2 years later. . . and that is really saying something!
Happy Father's Day, Paul!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Booking through Thursday with Characters

Booking Through Thursday

This week's questions were suggested by Mary.

Which book character(s) would you...

  1. Like to have dinner with? Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

  2. Believe would be the best to help you out in a crisis? Thursday Next, of course! (from The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde) OR, Burke and his cohorts (Burke novels by Andrew Vachss)

  3. Like to ask for an autograph? Zaphod Beeblebrox (from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

  4. Most identify with personally? I can't name a specific character, but there are many characters in many Douglas Coupland novels who I identify with.
That's all for now. . . Until next Thursday, keep on booking!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Meet the kids...

courtesy of dynamic images at

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hide and Seek

Lord Nibbler, our gray and white guinea pig, was feeling shy and so he picked the only thing around to hide in: a pile of timothy hay.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Life, the Universe and Everything

Life (or the time I complain):

My brain is buzzing a little. It was a busy day and I am tired due to:
  • lack of sleep (friend came over to spend the night last night)
  • day 9 of husband's 11 day business trip
  • a 6 year old in the midst of pure, unadulterated six-ness
  • end of the year "can I make it 12 more days until school is out" blahs.
  • I need to go to the chiropractor but they don't have an available appointment until the 19th. By then, I won't need the crack-your-back man because I will have beaten my head against the wall so much I will no longer be feeling that pain.
  • Although I've had the joy of visiting with a friend in from out of state and had another friend come over to spend the night, I am still starved for adult conversation.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet? Don't 'cause this is just Life. It could be worse.

The Universe. . .

. . . is going you-know-where in a you-know-what.

Primetime ran a special on the foster care system and the statistics are staggering and heartbreaking. I've been having some first-hand experience (well, tangential first-hand experience) with our local foster care system in the last few months and it is staggering and heartbreaking so I know they are not exaggerating.

I saw a documentary by a woman about her mother's battle with paranoid schizophrenia. It was utterly fascinating and, you guessed it, staggering and heartbreaking. After years and years, at the end, Millie was able to be in a stable home environment and have a job for the first time in years. Through home movies you saw how beautiful she once was. She is still a striking woman but the savage disease has left its toll on her.

Millie's daughters traveled through the journey of being terrified of their mother. . . to forgiving her and learning to understand her disease. . . to being fierce advocates for her in their quest to secure consistent medical treatment and a safe living situation for her. There are so many people who struggle with schizophrenia in one form or another and the impact on their entire families is enormous.

I read The Kite Runner this week. It is an excellent story and it did so much, through the telling of a very personal story, to open my eyes to the history and plight of the Afghan people and to appreciate this culture that is so foreign to me. I will listen with different ears to stories about the Middle East.

Less than two weeks ago, one family's joy was made complete when they found out the daughter they thought they buried was alive. That news, though, meant that the family who thought their daughter was improving from a horrible accident was actually dead.

A dear, dear friend called me today to tell me she needed to have some tests run. Because she had breast cancer around 10 years ago, there is no such thing as a routine test for her. We talked about all the thoughts that go through your head, how do you be prepared for the worst without panicking, laughed at some of the concerns that crossed her mind. You are never "cured" of breast cancer. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years and more may pass before it sneaks back up on you and shows up in your liver, brain, spine.

Global warming may or may not be a real threat to the environment depending on who you believe. Al Gore may or may not have said that it is okay to lie about the facts to get the result you desire. With a strong degree of certainty, US forces did indeed strike and succeed in killing Al-Zarqawi. A major earthquake in Indonesia with a fair number of deaths seems to have passed with very little notice.

Somewhere today, another case of molestation was discovered. Another family shattered by the evil hidden in their family.


What's left?

I write tonight to get out some of the things ruminating around this creaky old brain of mine.

I write because, while I have friends and family too numerous to count who care about me, I'm stuck at home while my big kid watches tv and my little one is asleep in her sleeping bag on my bedroom floor. So, though I have all the love and support in the world, I'm a little lonely here tonight.

I write and I realize how blessed and fortunate that the problems filed under Life above are minuscule when compared to the problems filed under The Universe above.

I am grateful for my husband, thousands of miles away who takes pictures with his camera phone of the "Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine" because, you know, I am Mary, Queen of His Universe.

I am grateful that my daughter is sleeping peacefully in the next room.

I am grateful that my son wants to show me clips of shows that he has recorded on the DVR. He wants to share such silliness with his mom.

Finally, I don't make a big deal of it, but my faith in God is the absolute foundation of my life. My worldview is completely informed by my belief in God. So, when I complain about my life, despair at the state of the universe and go on and on about everything, it is with an underlying certainty that God is the creator of life, the universe and everything. I believe he knows what he is doing, that I cannot possibly grasp all that he is doing and that there will come a time when all will be explained.

Note: It is customary in the blogosphere to create links to books, news items, places, etc. Tonight, however, I am just WAY TOO TIRED to go through that work. I apologize for the complete lack of linkiness in tonight's post. I'll try to do better next time.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Heated Revelations

Ahhhhhh, that feels good!

I AM cranky.
I WANT central air conditioning.
I WISH central air was installed now.
I MISS a cool house.
I HEAR that an egg could fry on the street these days.
I WONDER when June gloom will kick in.
I REGRET not living at the beach.
I AM NOT kidding. I’m really cranky.
I DANCE. . . NOT. It is too hot.
I AM NOT ALWAYS this cranky.
I WRITE stupidly about being too hot because I AM TOO HOT.
I CONFUSE my children because I’m cranky.
I NEED a cold drink.
I SHOULD go get that cold drink.
I START to get up to get the cold drink but instead. . .
I FINISH this post.

Disclosure: Lest The Smoking Gun does an expose' on my writing. I must acknowledge that we have two window air conditioning units. The "good" one is in the bonus room where my husband works. It is the really, really nice one his company paid for since he has a home office. It does nothing for the large living/dining room combo which has one smaller unit. It works okay if it isn't too, too hot but is NOISY so I don't like to run it all the time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Booking Through Previous Best Sellers - 1956

Booking Through Thursday

UPDATED: June 2, 2006

Jeanne came across this list of previous years' best sellers, and thought it might be fun to base some of our questions on them.

  1. In 1956, these were the top ten best sellers for the year. Have you read any of them?

    1. Don't Go Near the Water, William Brinkley
    2. The Last Hurrah, Edwin O'Connor
    3. Peyton Place, Grace Metalious
    4. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
    5. Eloise, Kay Thompson
    6. Andersonville, MacKinlay Kantor
    7. A Certain Smile, Fran├žoise Sagan
    8. The Tribe That Lost Its Head, Nicholas Monsarrat
    9. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir
    10. Boon Island, Kenneth Roberts

  2. Which ones have you read? Did you like them? I haven't read any of them but I have watched the movie versions of Don't Go Near the Water, The Last Hurrah, Peyton Place and Auntie Mame. The only one I remember well enough to say if I liked it or not is Peyton Place. It is really not a very good movie but was quite scandalous at the time. It is pretty funny to watch the stilted acting and all the soap opera silliness that goes on. (Update: Duh, I have heard of Eloise, I just didn't realize that it was the same character.)

  3. If you're like me and haven't read a single one, which ones have you heard of? Other than the ones I've watched as movies, I think I have heard of the Mandarins. Maybe. It is a very vague recognition.

  4. Will you be putting any of these books in your reading list? Possibly: The Last Hurrah and The Mandarins