Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Talent?

When I was pregnant with my youngest I decided to take up cross-stitch. I get so brain damaged when I am pregnant I wanted something I could with my hands to feel more useful. Since then I have added it to my hobbies. In that patch of time not already taken by children, husband, church, books, house and miscellaneous stuff. This is a picture of what I would like to be able to do with cross-stitch, or quilting, or any of the other "creative" things I have managed to learn, sort of. More wonderful examples can be found at this site. Though please note that there are some swearing. The very idea of cross-stitch swear words makes my inner 12 year old laugh.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kathy's 100 books-almost

On Facebook I did one of those lists of "Important" books and posted it. In the discussion a challenge to do my own list came up. In making a list of important books I've read and/or would like other people to read I realized that I had to make something perfectly clear: this is not a list of books I agree with 100%. I read a lot of stuff and I tend to be careful recommending things because I know I have unusual tastes, especially for an LDS woman. By that I mean I haven't found many women who like the same things I like. There are also a few books here I wouldn't read now but did read in the past and my reaction to them has shaped how I think. And I couldn't make it to 100, oh well. They are in no particular order, except how I thought of them. Ordering the list would be a horribly complicated task.

1. Bible LDS version
2. Book of Mormon
3. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein
4. The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
5. Alice in Wonderland/ Through the Looking Glass
6. Love You Forever - Robert Munsch
7. You are Special - Max Lucado
8. The Wheel of Time series - Robert Jordan
9. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
10. Animal Farm - George Orwell
11. Bullfinch’s Mythology
12. Grimm’s fairy tales (Or any good collection. Get to know the non-Disneyized versions)
13. A History of the American People. Paul Johnson (Or any other good history of the United States. I like this one because it is written by an Englishman and he is able to leave out the red/blue shading that effects most histories written by Americans)
14. Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett (We've found this is the best book to start reading Discworld)
15. The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett (officially a YA book, but wonderful and slightly different than the other Discworld books)
16. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (my boys are reading this now and loving it)
17. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis (The most wonderful book on the black plague I've ever read and the reason I started this blog)
18. Common Sense - Thomas Paine
19. Jesus the Christ - James Talmage
20. The Secret Knowledge of Water - Craig Childs
21. The Paper Bag Princess - Robert Munsch
22. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
23. Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Suess
24. God Wants a Powerful People - Sheri Dew
25. The Gathering Storm- Winston Churchill (The whole series about WWII)
26. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
27. The Screwtape Letters - C. S. Lewis
28. The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
29. The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
30. Macbeth
31. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
32. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
33. Baby Blues Treasury - Jerry Scott & Rick Kirkman (Any of them, they express parenting so well)
34. Harry Potter series
35. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss (Next book comes out this spring!!!)
36. Marvelous Work and a Wonder - LeGrand Richards
37. Nation - Terry Pratchett (Not a Discworld novel, and it will make you think--Beware)
38. The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
39. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'engle (I wanted to be a physicist because of this book)
40. The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
41. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
42. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown
43. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
44. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye - Alan Dean Foster (Corny and non-canonical but I loved it as a kid)
45. Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
46. Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
47. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (Unabridged of course)
48. The Making of the Atomic Bomb - Richard Rhodes
49. The Sneeches - Dr. Suess
50. The Joy of Cooking
51. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
52. The Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
53. 1776 - David McCullough
54. In a People House - Theo Lesieg (The first book I remember reading)
55. Truman - David McCullough
56. Dark lord of Derkholm - Diana Wynne Jones
57. Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card
58. Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
59. Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
60. Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond
61. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
62. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
63. The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
64. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
65. The Belgariad - David Eddings
66. The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
67. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
68. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
69. Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls (I blame this book for my dislike of books that make you cry by killing people at the end. Took me years until I could even think about this book without tearing up)
70. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes (speaking of crying over books)
71. Charlotte’s Web - E. B. White (and again)
72. Grendel/Beowulf
73. The Monkey Wrench Gang - Edward Abbey (I think this was one of the first books I stole from my Dad)
74. Time Enough for Love - Robert Heinlein
75. Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy - Vicki Iovine
76. The Once and Future King - T. H. White
77. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
78. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
79. Desert Solitaire - Edward Abbey
80. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus - Orson Scott Card
81. Seventh Son - Orson Scott Card (I actually don't like this series anymore,but it gave me a lot to think about when I first read them)
82. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
83. 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

85. The Dubliners - James Joyce (Never read Ulysses, didn't like Portrait of an Artist, but I loved the last story in this collection, especially the last page.)
86. Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
87. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
88. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
89. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
90. The Waste Land - T. S. Eliot
91. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair - Pablo Neruda
92. Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson (Someday I am going to get the nice collection, when my children can be trusted)
93. The Far Side - Gary Larson (See #92)
94. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury (See #84)
95. Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein

So that's the list. If you want to let me know how many you read, go ahead. If you want to tell me how weird this list is, go ahead. If you want to complain about the list, keep it to yourself :) Thanks for the interest.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Radical Homemakers

I like the basic concept of this book. It dovetails nicely with things I have been thinking about for years as I've struggled to find my mental space for what I do all day every day. The prologue drew me in with passages like this:

Mainstream American culture views the household as a unit of consumption.  By this conventional standard, the household consumes food, clothing, household technologies, repair and debt services, electricity, entertainment, health-care services, and environmental resources.  In order to be a "successful" unit of consumption, the household must have money. Ruth and Sanford's household was not a unit of consumption.  By growing their own food, living within their means, providing much of their own health care, and relying on community, family and barter for meeting their remaining needs, their household was essentially a unit of production (just not by the standards of a market economy). Thus their income wasn't critical to their well-being.
While I don't think it is feasible for the vast majority of people to "produce" more than they by necessity have to buy, I do agree wholeheartedly with the idea that we should not look at each other as "consumers". The home is essentially a unit of sociological production, no matter how much money goes in or out. A successful home produces healthy, happy people who can contribute to the health and well-being of society as whole. If that was seen as the goal of a household, instead of income or spending habits I think society would be stronger.

The author interviewed a lot of homemakers and tries to summarize her findings thus:
If there was one unifying belief among them, it was to question all the assumptions in our consumer culture that have us convinced that a family cannot survive without a dual income.  They were fluent  at the mental exercise of rethinking the "givens" of our society and coming to the following conclusions: nobody (who matters) cares for what (or if) you drive; housing does not have to cost more than a single moderate income can afford (and can even cost less); it is okay to accept help from family and friends, to let go of the perceived ideal of independence and strive instead for interdependence; health can be achieved without making monthly payments to an insurance company; child care is not a fixed cost; education can be acquired for free--it does not have to be bought; and retirement is possible, regardless of income.

This paragraph shows some wonderful ideals but also hints at the major problems I had with this book. Because of the progressive ideology of the author and the defiant feminism she often feels the need to justify going back to what most perceive as a more traditional role. This justification I not only disagreed with, I feel it was unnecessary. If you can be mentally strong enough to reject the consumerism of our society, to what ever degree, then you don't need such platitudes as, "The governing tenet of social justice precludes treating any member of the family as subservient."

Eventually I had to stop reading because while I applaud what she is doing and I think our society would benefit immeasurably from more people doing it, I think she is using the wrong set of ideals to convince people to do it. If you need feminist dogma to give you self-worth because you have decided to stay home and raise people instead of money, then those reasons are going to wear thin eventually.

Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture. Shannon Hayes. Left to Write Press. 2010