Tuesday, December 13, 2011

thoughts -or- I can't organize my mind enough for a real post

I think that this Christmas is more stressful than last, even though we are in better financial circumstances because I have had a year of worrying over finances and trying to do Christmas is hard. Every outlay, no matter how small has me second guessing myself. I try to listen to gospel related Christmas songs to help.

During the request hour on the Christmas radio station almost every song is Christ centered. During the regular time barely any are. So who does the programming?

We have been tight with money long enough that my children have become careful with what they ask for. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing. I don't want them to be afraid to ask, but I do like that they are learning that presents are to be valued.

Snow carols are annoying when it is 70 outside.

I am grateful that David has extra days off so that the house will be all the way clean before Christmas. Though there really is no hope for the carpet.

Nathan has been reducing his nap time. This is a sad development. It is very hard to do anything on the computer with a baby climbing on you, desperate to push the buttons -- any buttons, it really doesn't matter, though the power button is a favorite.

I suppose all of this could have been posted to FB but all of it crammed together is a better portrayal of my mental state. If I can get it together we could have a Christmas letter before New Year, but don't hold your breath.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FB announcement

The whole writing in my blog things isn't quite going as well as I'd planned. Though I have written some awesome posts in my head. I do have plans to get them out and into the virtual world soon. I do want to make a quick announcement though. Facebook will stop forwarding my blog posts after the 22nd. I'm not sure why, but if you would like to read my blog and you usually get it from facebook you will need to come visit me at www.alibraryforme.blogspot.com.  Then you can book mark it or join or whatever your favorite way to read things is.
Thanks

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Seventy-Seven Clocks

Now a break for what this blog was originally intended for -- books! I got into these books from a recommendation and have enjoyed all of them. The series has the unique ability to blend old fashioned mysteries with modern sensibilities. They have some of the best qualities of the Agatha Christie type, all the clues are there, the reader doesn't find out long before the detective, and the book feels like a puzzle. This particular book has one of the most clever tricks I've seen in a long while.

The ability to fool and mislead a reader while not actually lying or omitting key details is a forgotten art in mysteries. I especially dislike the ones where you know who the bad guy is and you have to rely on the tension of whether they will find him on time to drive the plot. That seems like cheating to me. And books that are so formulaic that you know who the killer is just because of their function in the story are even worse. (Cozy mysteries, I'm looking at you. 95% of the time the new guy who hits on the heroine is the bad guy.)

I also enjoy the main characters, Bryant and Mays. Unapologetically elderly men who put their experience and skills to work in ways that the younger people can only try to learn. Protagonists in their 70s or older are also pretty rare. Elderly people who don't die by the end of the book are even rarer.

The writing is evocative, or at least to me, of the foggy, grimy, and above all, old city of London. It was the city as character that kept me coming back for more. Not only are the main characters old, but they have grown old in the same place. They know the town and have lived through so many changes, every corner has a memory.

I am enchanted by this sense of place. I've never lived anywhere long enough to gain that for myself. Salt Lake City is where I spent my teenage years, so it comes the closest. Yet I went away for school (only a little ways, but still) and spent 18 months away for a mission, then after marriage we moved away for good. My memories are still there, but I wasn't there to see the changes happen. We have had dreams of a permanent home for our family but that hasn't happened yet. Eight places in fourteen years isn't an unusual amount of moving, but it is enough to never live somewhere long enough to know its secrets.

I may be too old for that now. The type of exploring you do as a child and teenager is not my thing anymore. I still hope for that permanence for my children though. I don't know if where we are now will be that place. My gut says no, but that could just be negative thinking. My gut said Moab was and we see how that turned out.

So for now I read about places I've never seen and envy those who have stayed in a place long enough to know its history.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Isolation

Blogging is still proving to be difficult. I don't have much I want to say. Or perhaps I don't want to open up my mind and emotions enough to say anything.

When I get feeling down, even just the temporary times that we all get, I have "Mommy's Night Out." I go away from everyone for an evening, have a quiet meal and read or whatever in solitary silence. I almost always go home feeling refreshed and ready to actively engage in family life. My husband not only supports me but has been known to hand me the car keys and order me out of the house. He benefits from the renewal that a few hours alone brings me.

I don't know why I need alone time, I know that not everyone does. It is just one of my lovable quirks. But when things are bad I begin to take this need to a dangerous (for me) place. I long to go away, to not have to deal with any people at all. I hate leaving the house. I dread public events, even helpful ones like church. If I didn't have to leave to take children to school, to buy food, to go to church, it would be so easy to never go outside.

People are hard to deal with. I tend to always have the feeling I might do or say something wrong at any time. With most people or groups I get over this fairly quickly but large unstructured events are always vaguely uncomfortable. Having to mingle on a regular basis would be torture. Marrying an incredibly gregarious man has helped. Being older and a bit more self confident is nice. Depression sends all of the gains I have made into the toilet and I am a fat, awkward teenager with zits and ugly clothes being judged everywhere I go.

My brain tells me this isn't true, but my emotions haven't been listening much.

This is one of the main reasons becoming closer to Christ is one of my goals. We are constantly told not to compare ourselves with others. That the only opinion that really matters is God's. I wish I understood why that counsel is so hard to follow. When I am feeling right I can also feel my own worth as a daughter of God. I can list the things I do that are of worth. I can even remember that the people who judge me solely on my looks are not people I would enjoy being around anyway.

Sometimes depression feels like the world taking over my subconscious. My rational brain tells me everything right and good and underneath I feel all the wrong things that media and other sources have been telling me since I was old enough to understand their messages. I need to pull back, to spend less time hearing the world and more time feeling the Spirit.

This is the alone time I need and crave, but so often I forget that this is why I need it. As I start to remember I can also start to hear and feel the good influences seep back into my soul. Then maybe I will be ready to socialize again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Climbing Out

I have been away from the blog for a while. I have been fighting a bout of depression that struck suddenly and deeply. The best analogy is walking along, minding your own business and then falling in a deep hole. I think I know the catalyst, but the deepness of this bout shows me that it was lurking for a while.
In the interest of keeping my goals, I am going to write a bit of what I am going to do to help myself get out. Obviously I am doing a bit better or I wouldn't even be writing this. So one thing is to keep writing on a regular basis. I will exercise every day but Sunday. If I can achieve this for the whole month of November I will buy a new camera. My sweet husband doesn't know this yet. But I needed a goal that I really wanted yet wouldn't just go out and get myself. And scriptures and prayer will be a number one priority.
I keep thinking of the little poster that says "If you want to do it you will find a way. If you don't want it you will find an excuse." While that may not be the uplifting type of saying to help with depression it does help me to remember how badly I want to function again.
I feel all wrong in my head. My emotions out of control and my decision making ability out of whack. By getting up in the morning, saying prayers and exercising I can begin the day with unequivocally good choices. That gives me momentum to get through the day. See, it worked today!
It feels weird to be so open in a blog post, I usually try to keep things at a distance, but this is the closest thing I have to a journal right now and so here I am, baring my pain to the world, or at least the small section of it that reads this. Be kind and patient. I should be better relatively quickly. These episodes end relatively quickly once I get to the end, it is the duration I am never sure of.
Time to de-stickify N. again. Halloween candy spreads an amazing distance when diluted with toddler spit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I am in love

14 years ago I married the most wonderful man in the world. And I am still wonderfully in love. Lately I have really noticed how much joy I have in my family. I have had moments of just watching each of them and feeling an intense feeling of love and joy from being able to be with them. That might not have been the clearest sentence ever but it is hard to describe those quiet moments of peace that come out of nowhere.
I would post photos of them, but I think I've mentioned before that I don't have a camera currently. Each and every member of my family brings something new and different to my life and I feel privileged to be their mother (or wife, depending).
I was thinking of writing something about each, but I think I've already reached my sappiness quotient for one post. I hope all of these loving thoughts will survive the road trip to Utah we are about to go on.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fun Fridays, July & Aug


Last week we went to the San Antonio Missions, just two of them, but they were fascinating. We have to go back when we don't have a time constraint. I kept thinking of my artist relatives and how much they would love photographing the buildings and the light and the details. Especially since my camera is dead and I couldn't even try.

My oldest was bored until we went to the completely rebuilt mission and he learned how it also served as a fort. He got all excited about that. The low ceilings and the painting on the walls and the fact that they are still functioning churches were all of interest to my kids. We are totally going back with Daddy, once we get a new stroller.

This morning we went to a play at a local community college. The play was the result of a children's theatre workshop. All the performers were kids and it was (obviously) not professional. My kids thoroughly enjoyed it. The baby even sat on my lap and watched it 3/4 of the way before he started to squirm. J. had a great audience participation moment and they all came home happy. Since they had all complained about how long it would take to get there it was gratifying to be right about something.

We are going to Utah next week and I am longing for mountains and cooler temperatures. The drive seems totally worth it to not be here for a week. Then we have one more Friday and school starts. I've almost survived the summer!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tudors and Adapting to Change

Reading a book about the Tudors the first thing I learned was that there were only three generations of them. Henry VII, Henry VIII and his children, the third of which was Queen Elizabeth I. This was a surprise because with the amount of history and influence they had, you would think that they were a much more successful dynasty.

The second thing was that I need to read more about English history. It is much more complex that reading one book can express. There is much more going on than just kings and queens and such. The religious life of the country, the complex relations with Scotland, Wales and Ireland, (each of which could fill libraries) and the complex weaving genealogies of the nobility. Though I could follow the book just fine I always had that uncomfortable feeling that I was missing subtext. I hate that, I makes me want to read everything else about that period, just to catch up.

The third thing that really struck me about this book was how evil of a man Henry VIII was. Changing the religious life of your entire country from honest faith and sincere feeling is one thing, doing it because you have never been denied something in your entire life and aren't about to be stopped now is another. The Tudors have remained famous through history because it doesn't take all that much time to run a country into the ground. The author makes a good case for this century of misrule being the reason for the Reformation and rebellion and social cataclysms of the 17th century in England.

Henry basically forced religious change on his people. They weren't happy about it but when enough stalwart priests had been brutally executed they didn't have much of a choice. I kept thinking about the regular people, being subject to changes they couldn't alter, protest or avoid and that could very well affect their immortal soul. The prayer books and the commandments and who you should pray to and who was head of the church kept changing. There were a number of peasant protests, none of which amounted to much. It seems the common people did what they have always done: put their heads down, minded their own business and prayed they wouldn't get caught in the arguments of those above them.

Oddly enough this made me think about myself. Right now my family is caught in circumstances we cannot change. My husband's business closed. He was able to find a new job, a very good job in fact, but we are still saddled with the mortgage of our previous house, as well as debt and burdens relating to the business. We cannot change the nature of the economy. We cannot make Congress or the President or any given law making authority see reason and do things that might hurt temporarily but will strengthen our country. We can't sell the equipment we bought for the business. We have been trying, but no one is buying. We can't even sell our house, though we have dropped the price significantly. The small town real estate market is slow even in the best of times. So what do you do when stuck in the middle of things you cannot change or avoid?

We adapt. At least that is what we are trying to do. Change is a part of life. Yet we spend so much of our emotional life avoiding it as much as possible. Not only in our personal lives. So much energy is spent trying to keep everything the same, socially, economically, climate and whatnot. Some of those changes are going to be bad, but not all of them. For example, climate change (a change of phrase from global warming after the bad winter) is bad, especially for coastal cities, yet some change is normal and natural, fires, floods, moving of populations from one place to another. Though biologists might wish for static populations to study, these things have always been in flux. The key is to know how to adapt and survive.

Things aren't really that bad for us, because we have been blessed and helped in innumerable ways. But we must adapt and know that change is always with us, we can't avoid it, we must grin and bear it.

The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty. G.J. Meyer. Delacorte. 2010

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fun Friday catch up

I will probably not be as diligent in reporting fun fridays now because our camera is broken. I can retrieve the pictures since they are on the card, but I will need to get another camera first. And that ain't happening for a while. Unless you happen to know someone in the market for a 5 bedroom house in Moab.

We haven't had the most successful time of it either. One week the A/C was out so we spent the day sweating and waiting for the repairman and then went out window shopping. We had fun, especially since Daddy got to come too.
The next week we went to McClellan Park where I read there were deer. We saw deer. Small white tail deer, much smaller than the mule deer we are used to in the west. But the mosquitoes more than made up for it. They were big and black and very aggressive, even at ten in the morning. We might go back, but not before we find some super-duper bug repellent.
Then today we went to the SA Central Library. There was a book sale, which I always like. And some art and such. The girls had finished the Summer Reading program and got to choose a free book. I found a hardback copy of Forest Born by Shannon Hale so I was happy. We tried to get snow cones but the place we went had a broken machine.
That is how FF has been going. We are half-way through the summer now and the spend-less summer is being difficult. It's either that or I just forget over the winter how cranky the kids are when I take them any where.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cool Thoughts

In lieu of an air conditioner I'm thinking about this:





Its not really working. Where do you take the kids on day 5 with no cooling and 100 temps? I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The year 1000

This was an interesting little book. It goes through the year explaining in much more detail than you usually get what was happening in England in 1000 AD. It was amazingly informative and fun. There are so many assumptions we have about this period of history and this rips a lot of them to shreds. The first one I had was that we didn't have a lot of information about this time period. And while we don't have the mountain of information that comes later we have enough for a good idea of how things were.

So many of the things we learn about how the people lived highlight how different our society is now from what the majority of human existence has been like. And how the privileged parts of the world have this distinct difference, there are still places where the change isn't as much as you would hope.
But in the year 1000 very few people were free in the sense that we understand the word today. Almost everyone was beholden to someone more powerful than themselves, and the men and women who had surrendered themselves into bondage lived in conditions that were little different to those of any other member of the labouring classes.
  In the year 1000 people could not imagine themselves without a protector. You had a lord in heaven and you needed a lord on earth.. . .It is a late-twentieth-century innovation to scorn the concept of "service." In the year 1000 every English village had its local lord who provided an umbrella of protection for his neighborhood, and that relationship involved a significant amount of mutual respect.
This jumped out at me because I have often wondered if the hostility towards authority or anyone in power above you inspires the anti-religious feeling in the West. As well as a lot of illogical protestations of independence. We are still tied to each other. Some have more power than others. In our "egalitarian" world those with power must disguise it. This leads to a lot of illegal and abusive practices. Would a toleration for more obvious power encourage transparency (that Shangri-La of all political watchdogs) or just more abuse?

Then we also have the notion of responsibility. As promises made to workers are broken and unions on the decline, will the businesses ever benefit the worker in the way that capitalism theory says they will? The idea is that it is good for a business to have healthy, productive workers, so they won't starve them into un-usability. We all know how that is working out. (Just to be clear here, I don't think a lot of those pension promises should have been made and I think that all-powerful unions are also bad, just look at Britain in the 70s.)

In a passage on the high point of the year in 1000, Easter, the author makes this point:
The Easter feast was appreciated the more by people who had encountered the reality of famine. Today we watch famine on television, but it is scarcely a source of personal anxiety to those of us who live in the developed West. It is another of the crucial distinctions between us and the year 1000, where the possibility of famine was ever-present and haunted the imagination.
It also occurred to me that the symbolism of Christ as the living bread and water, that would never run out had added potency to people in this time. Every year had a hungry time, between the end of one harvest and the beginning of the next. Famine wasn't just a occasional thing, but could happen every single year if conditions weren't plentiful. How little we care for all we have when we have always had it. Food comes easily. We might keep food storage and feel secure, but if the grocery store wasn't there, how would we really feel about living on beans and rice everyday?

After all that I loved the closing paragraph.
What C.S. Lewis called the "snobbery of chronology" encourages us to presume that just because we happen to have lived after our ancestors and can read books which give us some account of what happened to them, we must also know better than them. We certainly have more facts at our disposal.  We have more wealth, both personal and national, better technology, and infinitely more skillful ways of preserving and extending our lives. But whether we today display more wisdom or common humanity is an open question, and as we look back to discover how people coped with the daily difficulties of existence a thousand years ago, we might also consider whether, in all our sophistication, we could meet the challenges of their world with the same fortitude, good humour, and philosophy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fun Friday SA #2 (sort of)

I haven't been in a hurry to post last week's FF because it wasn't all that impressive and I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to take the kids to a pet store and let them look at the animals and especially the fish. I tried to find a good one on the internet because pet stores can be slightly scary if you get the wrong one. So I picked one that had really good ratings and was relatively close to our house. I should have checked kid friendly and square footage.

The one We went to was pretty small and had one of those mildly amusing but slightly insulting notices about what would happen to unattended children. They had two huge parrots out where the kids could look closely, but not touch, and a grey parrot that would talk only when you looked away from him. Every thing else was pretty small and the pet shop employees seemed annoyed to answer questions. At least, that was my opinion.

I actually felt so bad about it that I bought everyone ice cream on the way home, a big no-no in our summer of free stuff. But according to reports for my husband they all had a great time. I guess my expectations for a good time and theirs are a bit different. I think it also shows I need to not stress about this so much.
 I think I will find a fish store for another time, tropical fish are always a hit.

Isn't he cute?
In lieu of having Fun Friday pictures, here are a couple of others instead.


R., singing in the Harris MS show choir. That's him in back with the glasses. (I know, but it is the best picture I have)

J. graduating from 5th grade with on the A honor roll. He and R. were just admitted to the science magnet school so they will be able to associate with kids who are more truly their peers.
 And odd pictures of B. and D. looking scary for the camera.

Monday, June 6, 2011

War and Peace

Yes, I read the whole thing. There are amazingly lyrical passages, and if you are in the mood for heavy doses of historical philosophy then you are in for a treat. The plot, such as it was, takes a backseat to the whole commentary on war thing. I guess I would rather have either a novel, with a plot, or a commentary on war, without the plot. I suppose by introducing a few families you get the personal effect of war. Instead of talking about casualties, he shows us people we know being killed.
But if it is an anti-war story you want I think All Quiet on the Western Front is much more effective.
I also felt like I was missing a good chunk of the story because of not being Russian. The characters would laugh at odd times, or react in ways that seemed to highlight their foreignness even as I was growing to like them. If I had more of a familiarity with the culture of that area I think I would have enjoyed it more.
I was always being pulled out of the story, either by the Russianness, or by the long diversions about war and history.
There were some bits that I liked. A few quotes really jumped out at me.
Yet in reality those personal interests of the moment so much transcend the general interest from being felt or even noticed. Most of the people at that time paid no attention to the general progress of events but were guided only by their private interests, and they were the very people whose activities at that period were most useful.
Those who tried to understand the general course of events and to take part in it by self-sacrifice and heroism were the most useless members  of society, they saw everything upside down, and all they did for the common good turned out to be useless and foolish.
And
a superfluity of the comforts of life destroys all joy in satisfying one's needs
and
We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.

and
by loving people without cause he discovered indubitable causes for loving them.
There is definitely some good stuff there. The last two are my favorites. I like how a quote seems simple and obvious at the beginning then as you think more, maybe it is not so true, then you think more maybe it is. That complexity echos the complexity of Russian thought that I was barely beginning to see in this novel.
It was not my style of book, I prefer a different kind of novel, but I am glad I read it.

War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. ebook edition

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fun Friday, the San Antonio Edition -- part 1

Yesterday was the first Fun Friday in San Antonio. And like all the Fun Fridays in Moab, the first one is mainly a practice run to get the whining and logistics sorted out. The visuals won't be as good, because most of the walking trails around here are nature trails through the parks. One bonus is that I can bring N. along in the stroller, but the kids don't get as excited about it.
So here is the Fun Friday crew -- 2011 edition.

And a cave, that they don't let you get very close to. San Antonio Parks and Rec is much more Big Brotherly than Grand Co.

Art is placed every quarter mile, perfect for photo opportunities.

 














You can see the temple from the trail, but not in the picture, weird.

More things to blog about, but not today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

fairness -- a thought

I found this quote in the middle of a very good article, but I particularly liked this idea, especially as it relates to, well everyone.

For those who cannot abide the fact that life happens and sometimes you get a raw deal, remember that fairness is a childish concept.  There is no magical fairy flying around and waving her wand to make sure everyone has the same amount of tragedy and trial, the same number of sprinkles on their cupcake.

You can find the whole article here

I have been reading a lot lately, but really don't feel the urge to write much, so you get a lot of quotes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

This I stole from cake wrecks because I love it.

In a haiku themed entry, she posted the following and I laughed so much my sides hurt and I have little after-giggles every time I think of it, so here you go.