Classified Ad: Found, one item

FOUND: medium to small sized attitude of sarcasm. Ugly green kind. Appeared w/o warning and made the conversation go downhill really fast. Would like to get it out of my house ASAP. If owner would claim it, simply accept responsibility and do better next time.

Please note: we do not live on a farm and have no desire to foster other sarcasms, especially cynicisms. If they are dropped off at our door they will be drowned in a bucket, so be warned. We have our own sins and foibles, thank you.

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Book review: Jane Eyre

I’m in the process of moving or rewriting some of my Goodreads reviews to a personal space. There have been rumblings in the GR world about censorship and so on, and after some lengthy examination of the posts regarding the situation, I don’t think the issue affects me all that much. But in today’s world there are those who want to politicize everything, and so I could see this eventually affecting me, somehow. So here is the next review, and I hope to fix the many little glitches on my website as soon as possible. In the meantime:
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My favorite little book and my favorite cup of tea

Jane Eyre has one of my favorite devices in it: layered story telling. You can read it as a spiritual narrative, or for the general character development. You can read it for the gothic mystery, or the so-called love triangle. You can read it for the moors! For the historical nature of the story. For the deeply personal questioning of self, life, and God.
I really like Jane herself. I don’t understand all the hows and whys of my liking Rochester. I suspect because he’s lucky enough to have been written before the modern and ‘post modern’ unmanning of the male character. Maybe because his spiritual journey was just as neat as Jane’s. They obviously belonged together, but they had to overcome the odds (most especially those of their own making). Finally, at the end, they embraced freely with a clear eyed view of their lives from that point onward.
I like the Brontes. I like that they like nature. I like a book I can read again. I like being part of all that. I like that I found this really cool purse sized hard bound edition with cool detailing to it that makes the reading a more sensory-complete experience.

Summer Storm

Drifting in and out of the house one day, I paused to enjoy the green world off my back porch. The Trident maple and mimosa tee we planted have grown tall. Their dark and light greens, respectively, make deeper and shallower shades; they block much of the view into the rest of the yard. A carpet of lawn sweeps uphill between them and past the garden. Swaying behind that is the curtain of woods that serves as the back drop to our outside lives.
It is summertime, thus the opportunity to drift. The humidity is rising and the air presses against my skin, my face, and eventually my lungs. Everything feels like the surface of a pond.
The first clouds of the afternoon whisper white across the darkening sky. I drift inside and the air conditioning slaps like a cold wash cloth across my heat sleepy senses. Before dark I am back outside again. Now the clouds are huge, high, and bunched up like the gods of fluffy white sheep. A rising breeze stiffens and bends branches to its will. All day I have seen light green flashes as leaves flipped upside down, and now the single leaf warnings grow into whole trees waving. The woods bend and murmur.
Still no rain: only its promise, or its threat.
The official sunset is blanketed by cloudy darkness. When night arrives, it is simultaneous with the storm. The two wrangle like rambunctious kids. Will they fit in the space available? Not in my yard! During the day I can measure the sky in a glance; not so with night. Night feels bigger than day because my imagination fills in the visual gaps. The winds sweep through our property with the same energy that rivers pour down to the sea. The congealed air is finally flowing. In the dark it is hard to see anything but much easier to feel. It feels crowded.
Lightning blinks in the distance. When it gets closer it stretches and lingers overhead. Rumbles of thunder growl everywhere at once, rolling from hill to hill. At last, sheets of rain fall in heavy waves that obscure pavement and grass alike. All else wavers under the weight of water. Sound is the thunder of the storm in lightning, waterfall, and wind. Sight is long sheets of blackness with strips of quick brilliant light. Energy pounds the house and the senses. Inside feels safer, but doors shudder from the storm. ‘Safer’ is as good as it’s going to get for tonight. At least the showery hot day is cooling into a chill damp night. The house proves itself once again by holding out through another night.
Heavy and wet, the storm trundles away, crossing from west to east. In the distance it sounds tired and grumpy. The air smells of electricity. It smells of rainwater. In the dark there is no rainbow; only the chirping of awakened frogs.

Recipe: laundry soap

I was hoping to do a creative write to add to my blog today. Unfortunately, I suffered chore-induced creative block. So I thought I would at least add a recipe. This is a dry recipe for making my own laundry soap. It is easy, the kids can do it, the minions can do it, aliens can probably do it depending on, you know, digits…but I wouldn’t trust a pet.

I store it in an old plastic ice cream container, with a tablespoon measuring spoon. I also wrote on the bucket in a few places, so that others may see the instructions. Because, gladly, I am not the only one who does laundry in this place.

Homemade Laundry Soap

Ingredients:

one bar of Ivory soap, grated (with a cow bell shaped cheese grater) into aprox. 2 C of filmy white flakes*

1C washing soda, 20 mule team stuff

1C washing soda, Arm & Hammer stuff

Instructions:

After grating up your chosen brand of bar soap, simply mix it with the other two ingredients in a container of your choice.

To use:

Add 2 Tb to running water in the washing machine and let it dissolve some. If, after doing laundry, you see a lot of the soap flakes in your laundry sink, you might use hot water at first to help it dissolve more. Let it mix well with the water, or it will get pressed into your clothing and not do its job. These little details are fine for me to have to deal with because the result is brighter clothing, huge savings, and fewer skin problems.

* I use Ivory, but Fels Naphtha was the recommended brand when I did my initial research. I tried it, and then tried something else, before settling on Ivory. Any older brand will do, as far as I understand.

I buy ten-bar packs of Ivory soap and each bar comes to about 45 cents. Washing sodas can be used for so many other things as well. This particular recipe lasts up to two weeks, depending on who is doing however much laundry. All around, it’s a good investment.

Laundry: done. Self reliance trick of the day: done. Back to my book.

 

 

 

 

Classified Ad

Wanted: Inspiration in a jar. Jar does not have to be mason style with added handle, or include country candle. No sparklies, please. Rainy morning blahs must not be slipped into jar, I don’t care how desperate a person is. I have my own battles here. Some shabby chic acceptable.

Also wanted: driving personal initiative. I seem to have mislaid mine somewhere.

A Grand Mystery

One of my favorite things is books. They don’t fluctuate in price- by- gallon and hold you by the throat with their petroleum extortions. I don’t get car sick in a book like I do in a car. And I don’t have to pack a million things, just in case. I do enjoy the sound of rain drumming on the car, or at the windows of my room. The difference is, when I stop a book, I don’t have to get out into the rain to go do what I have to do. The majority of my books are free, and they can sit and wait for a long time before I get back to using them again. They might get dusty, but they won’t lose their air.

So traveling by book is a pleasant thing. One of my favorite places to go is the Middle Ages, albeit a sometimes romanticized version of the period. It’s hard to judge accuracy when I read histories of the Middle Ages, because so many authors have their perceptions that they want to force upon others without acknowledging any possible alternative viewpoint. But in fiction, I have found a place that is so wonderful that I decided one of my first posts here would be about it. Ellis Peters (see here) is a woman who wrote mysteries, among many other things which I have yet to even explore. In my situation, her Brother Cadfael series (see here) has been a delightful exploration of the time period (the 12th century), England (Shropshire), and the life of this murder mystery solving monk who has a complex life and a simple love of humanity.

The narrative is a winding path that follows the development of the facts in each case while also exploring nature, humanity, and a subplot of romance. Peters spends as much time exploring the joy of riding horseback through the wintry English countryside as she does providing clues to solving a murder. She is careful in her characters’ discussions of the pressing mystery to be accurate and yet not lose the average reader. As an average reader, I appreciate that consideration. Some times, with Agatha Christie, I found myself wondering what hat she pulled THAT suspect out of! And honestly, I avoid the most modern writing of murders and mayhem because they tend to dwell on (as in: apparently delight in) the sensory overload of detailed description of suffering. No thank you. Ellis writes in a humane way and her characters reflect that depth of humanity. The effect is joyful to behold.

Given, this is not a series you want to read through in huge rude gulps. Not only will you miss the meandering descriptions, but you will become well aware that this is a series of twenty books with very similar plot formulas. There is a murder; there are a boy and girl who need help coming together; there is someone, usually an official or noble personage, who obstructs; and Cadfael eventually pries the threads apart and discovers the truth. That’s about all of it. And yet, it isn’t.

One of the joys of the series is the development of the characters. First, let me back up a moment and say that while the series can be read out of order, I recommend going in order. There are story arcs that add an entire level of appreciation to the rest of the story. The books then become greater than the sum of their parts. So, the development of the characters and their relationships are some of the best parts. Cadfael’s decision to join the order, his reversal of his perception of Hugh Berringer, their continuing relationship, the obstructive tendencies of certain other regular characters, all take a certain growing familiarity with the series. Actually, the obstructive characters are pretty much recognizable for what they are. But sometimes they do something right, as well, which adds to the depth of the characters on the whole.

There are some books of the series that have some pretty adult issues that come up. I would say that a parent might want to read ahead and make the decision which books a child will read. I have done that, and it resulted in my child reading about half of the books. The rest will await until she is older. No worries, no rush. Peters deals with these issues in a compassionate way: compassionate for the characters involved, and considerate of her readers.

The series is a bit formulaic, but classy all the same. The stories are good. The escapism works for me. Here is a list of the books in order: (here).

I will add that the list places as last the book of three short stories which actually begin the chronological narrative of Cadfael, so I recommend that first.

And just as a car trip must come to an end, and we must return to what feels like the humdrum of our regular routine, the same sometimes happens when we read a book. That is one of the risks of traveling. In my experience it seems as if the farther you go, the stranger it feels when you find yourself home again.

A New Beginning

Good day to you! This is my new blog, because the old one ran away years ago and is rumored to be roaming feral in a state park somewhere.

All I had to do was read the title of Virginia Wolfe’s essay “A Room of One’s Own” and the words shot through me like a verbal dart. I wanted my own space! Not even a room; just some space. That’s all there was to it.
For a mother this can be very challenging. We share our rooms, all of them, and we share our bodies, our milk, our minds and spirits, our computer time, our work, our play, our sleep…We are like public entities with little hands clinging to us, eager minds wanting us to engage them, husbands needing details worked out, and dogs throwing up. Personal space, whether inside your own mind or out in your physical environment, can be at an extreme premium which can not be adequately described or realized until one has done these things themselves…sometimes many at the same time.

I used to belong to a fantastic writing group called LDSMindspill. That was my little community of writers and kvetchers and supporters. That group ran for many years, but eventually closed down. I used http://www.paperbackswap.com, a book group that has free exchange of books, but the community there didn’t meet my needs all that much, except for free books. Which is like free air in that I needed it to live. I discovered Goodreads, and started making a space there. But I still wanted more.
I wanted something physical, to begin with. So I claimed the alcove in the living room and turned it into The Momcove. Then I started reminiscing about my old blog. That thing was just too old to resusitate. So here I am, starting again. I have my Momcove and a fresh baked blog. What’s next? Hmmm…