Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Wednesday list...five thoughts on re-reading Jane Eyre edition

1.The characters in Jane Eyre are so fascinating, well-written, and fully formed. For example: There are times when Jane is quite rude and judgmental in her assessment of the people she meets; however, she is also generous, loyal, and has a desire to learn and improve herself. Even those characters with less nuance to their personality were still written as people, not caricatures or plot devices.

2. I think it's a common human fault throughout history to view the present day as the pinnacle of thought and understanding. Although Jane Eyre is certainly steeped in Victorian sensibilities and culture (all of the isms -- racism, classism, imperialism), it's also quite modern. Jane could be the heroine of any modern novel -- she's confident, independent, willing to fight back against bullies, unafraid to voice her opinion, and willing to risk everything in order to hold on to her integrity.

3. I loved the unexpected turns that the story took. Because it's been so long since I've read Jane Eyre, it was almost like reading it for the first time, and it's a perfect literary example of the phrase "still waters run deep." For all it's buttoned up and prim wrappings, there is A LOT going on in this story. Abuse, neglect, friendship, love, mystery, deception, near-death experiences, long-lost families, tragedy, and reconciliation.

4. As I'm making this list, I realize that maybe what I liked most about Jane Eyre is the juxtaposition of the conventional and unconventional element; because one of my favorite things is how Bronte writes a story starring people who are not conventionally attractive. She emphasizes that Jane and Rochester in particular are not physically attractive people, and yet readers -- myself included -- are undeniably attracted to these characters. In fact, other characters in the book are attracted to them even as they use physical descriptions like plain and ugly.

5. I'm a sucker for a good book-to-movie adaptation, and as I've never watched a Jane Eyre movie, I can not wait to watch one! I had my eye on the 2011 remake, and my friend Stephanie (who prompted me to re-read Jane in the first place) said that's her favorite.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. Jeremy brought home a trampoline on Sunday. His brother's family is preparing to move overseas and had asked us if we'd like to use it while they're gone. Ummm...let me think about that for a hot second -- yes!! I never really had an urge to have a backyard trampoline, but last year I discovered that anytime we visited someone who had a trampoline, the kids were in heaven. So here we are!

2. Christina's been phasing out naps for a while now, and probably only falls asleep once or twice a week, and over the past month Matrim has started phasing out naps too. He definitely still needs a nap at least two or three times a week, but not every day. My goal has been to transition nap time to quiet time -- i.e., stay in your room for at least an hour and a half and play quietly/read books/etc (no screens) -- partly because it's just really nice to have a tiny bit of alone time in the day, partly because I think it's good for them to have the opportunity for some down time, and partly because it helps give our day a rhythm and structure (because the rest of the time I am a big fan of free play). I'm curious though...what do other people do when their kids give up naps? Do you even bother with a different kind of daily routine? Are your kids in school so it doesn't matter?

3. It's iced coffee season!! (Let's be real...any season can be iced coffee season) By that I mean -summer's creeping in, one 90 degree/80 percent humidity day at a time. Time to make myself some cold brew.

4. I've been thinking about worry lately. I heard someone recently compare worrying to rocking in a rocking chair -- you feel like you're doing something but aren't going anywhere. It stuck with me, because I think one of the reasons I give in to  worry is because it makes me feel like I'm doing something in situations where I have no control. So I've been trying to fight worry with an action -- even if the action doesn't have to do with what I'm worrying about. Cleaning something, praying out loud, reading my Bible, listening to music, going for a walk or run if I can. It's a work in progress and I'm not always successful, but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction at least.

5.A friend of mine and I were talking about Jane Eyre the other day, and how I hadn't read it since high school. She said I needed to read it again so we could talk about it, so I picked it up a week or so ago. It is such a good book, and so thought-provoking. I'll probably have to write a whole blog post on it once I finish. Next on my list is a sci-fi book for review, and maybe some non-fiction just to mix things up a little.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Laundromat musings

Our washing machine broke a couple of weeks ago, so I've gotten to make a couple of trips to a nearby laundromat while we look for a good used replacement. It's been years (and years) since I've done my laundry at a laundromat, but there's nothing like a room full of humming machines and the smell of dyer sheets for a little deep thinking.

Like the thought that sometimes convenience has a hidden dark side: things that streamline time consuming tasks give us more time that we then fill with other tasks or activities, which can lead to a feeling of frantic, frenzied, overworked, and overscheduled. Multi-tasking has become a prized virtue (and it is a nice skill to have to some degree, don't get me wrong), and we forget the value that can be found in doing one thing at a time. I think about a conversation I had over breakfast one day with some women a couple of generations older than me. We were talking about ironing, and someone mentioned how when they were young they still held to that old weekly schedule that looked similar to what Laura Ingles introduced me to in Little House in the Big Woods: "wash (clothes) on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, churn on Thursday, clean on Friday, bake on Saturday, rest on Sunday."

Don't get me wrong -- I am extremely grateful for modern conveniences. I'm grateful that I don't have to wash all my clothes by hand, butcher my own meat, or make my own clothes. I'm a huge fan of indoor plumbing, and air conditioning, and vacuums so I don't have to spend hours outside beating the dirt out of my rugs (although that sounds like some good anger therapy right there). But I think that sometimes we're so far away from the lack of our modern conveniences that we're not always aware of what we've traded in to have them. That said, I doubt that anyone at the laundromat with me (except maybe the owner) if offered a free washer and dryer for their home would have said "No thanks I'm good. Using the laundromat really helps me slow down and gives me a break from the busyness of life." Those free in-home washers and dryers would be snatched up in a hot second.

So what's my point? Do I even have a point? (not really -- that's why they're called musings) Maybe...recognize those areas of life where you do have a choice, and if trying to multitask every moment of your life is driving you insane maybe see if there's an area of life where you can choose a different way of doing things. Maybe...remember to be grateful. I'm not always good at that, but gratitude has a significant impact on my mood and outlook.

Oh, and the other thing going to the laundromat taught me: there is actually something pretty magical about all of those washing machines in one room. By that, I mean the ability to wash every single thing AT THE SAME TIME. 30 minutes and done. (Down side -- the enormous pile of clean clothes to be folded after)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. Running is one of my favorite ways to explore a town or city. Last weekend I was in Dallas for a girls' weekend with a couple of friends (a fantastic, relaxing, food-and-good-conversation-filled weekend) and managed to talk myself out the door Saturday morning for a run. We were staying downtown, and I happened to stumble upon the beginning of the Katy Trail Dallas -- an urban greenspace walking/riding/running path. It was a beautiful, shady path with lots of people out for runs, bike rides, and dog walks. Great peeks of the downtown skyline and neighborhoods.

2. I had a brief period of good luck with shopping at online used clothing stores, but it seems my luck has changed. Really, it comes down to not being able to return something. My last purchase -- and the one that has convinced me to stick to buying things I can try on and/or return -- was a pair of jeans. I ad tried on a really expensive pair of jeans a while back that I had liked a lot, but didn't want to spend that much money. So I started keeping an eye out for them used. I thought since I had tried them on I knew the style and size that I wanted. Well, I either didn't quite remember the style correctly, or I bought a cut that was a few years old (you know how brands will randomly adjust the cut sometimes). Anyway...don't like it. I'm going to try to resell them, but regardless, it's a lesson learned.

3. This is a really good article I read several months ago on the dangers of abandoning knowledge in Christianity in favor of a feelings-oriented faith. Both are necessary -- love the Lord with all your HEART, SOUL, MIND, and STRENGTH.

4. Since I'm home most of the time, I listen to a lot of music during the day, and really prefer picking my own stuff in the car too. I buy most of my music through Amazon, and we have Prime which gives me a bigger catalog to listen to, and I listen to Pandora a lot; but the past month or two I've been missing Spotify. I've never paid for a premium account because I always listened on a computer and you don't really need premium if that's the only way you listen. HOWEVER...I've been wishing I could use some of the premium features on my phone or on our Amazon Echo. So...I signed up for premium. Here's what I like about Spotify -- I really like the ease of making playlists. I like their algorithms for suggesting music through their Discover Weekly personalized playlist. I like that if I'm in the mood for a particular song or album I can listen to just that. I like that I can download music to my phone for offline listening. I'm thinking that after a month or two of having such a plethora (one might say redundant) of music listening options, I'll figure out what I actually use the most.

5. Just picked up Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford. It's by the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which I liked a lot, so I have high hopes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Wednesday poem

It was so much fun to stretch my creative muscles a few weeks ago with poetry that I decided to do it again! So here's another poem to break up your week:

by Amanda Waters

The way I walk
The things I do
The words I say
The way I say them
Compressed into tiny
Thirty pound packages.

Mimicry leads me to
I’m reminded to
I’m reminded of

And for goodness’ sake

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. I've rediscovered a love for cutting off jeans that just aren't quite working as long pants and turning them into shorts.

2. I'm going to pass on a little librarian pro-tip: if you borrow ebooks from your library (and if you don't, you should start), one of the problems you might run into is that when they're due, they automatically expire and disappear on your reading device. HOWEVER -- if you turn off the wi-fi on your reading device, you should be able to keep reading it if you still need a little more time to finish it. This information is on my mind at the moment because I forgot to turn off the wi-fi on my Kindle and the book I was in the middle of disappeared this morning. Ahhh!!!!! (What Alice Forgot, by Lian Moriarty. And if you've ever read any of her books, you know how hard it is to stop in the middle). Sometimes, you can just go check the book right back out, but unfortunately for me, there's a wait list. Fortunately, the wait list is not too long.

3. The kids and I planted a few seeds in pots in the backyard last week. Tomatoes, cucumber, basil, rosemary. I've not ever tried tomatoes from seeds -- only seedlings -- so we'll see how it goes.

4. I'm almost done with a mini closet purge. It started when I realized it was time to try and sell my double jogging stroller. I hadn't used it in months -- the kids have gotten big enough that running with them in it is more trouble than it's worth. Anyway, I listed it on Craigslist (still hasn't sold, although I finally have someone interested to come look at it) and that inspired me to list a couple of other items that seemed worth selling and schedule a donation pickup for a big bag of clothes and purses. I love clearing out closets (much to my husbands amusement and occasional frustration), and it's even better when I can maybe make $50 in the process.

5. What I'm reading: the previously mentioned What Alice Forgot, and the mystery In a Guilded Cage by Rhys Bowen. What I'm watching: Superstore, Star Trek: Discovery (almost finished with the first season now), and the final season of The Middle (sadly, not as funny as previous seasons of this show, but time spent with the Hechs is time well spent). What I'm listening to: Dave Barnes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Reading...Heirs and Graces

t Georgie is a poor aristocrat relying on her connections to get by -- something not uncommon in 1930s Great Britain. When Georgie finds herself at loose ends, she agrees to do a favor for the Dowager Duchess of Kingsdowne Place. The Dowager's oldest son refuses to marry and produce an heir, leaving the family seat in danger of dying out. When the Dowager begins a search for any living relative that could inherit, her detectives discover that her younger son -- who was killed during WWI -- had a wife and son in Australia. The Dowager sends for the previously unknown grandson, and tasks Georgie with helping Jack learn about life as the heir to a dukedom.
In addition to the Dowager and the Cedric -- the oldest son and current Duke -- the Dowager's daughter Irene and her three children are also living at Kingsdowne Place, along with the Dowager's two sisters, a tutor, and some of Cedric's friends. When Cedric turns up dead not long after Jack's arrival at Kingsdowne there are plenty of suspects to choose from, and everyone is quick to point fingers (with the small exception of the Duchess' sisters, who mostly just want to throw seances every night). 

Heirs and Graces is the kind of book that begs to be read in one sitting, with a cup of tea and some shortbread biscuits. It's a solid mystery with a fun and light tone, a delightful heroine, and a vivid setting. It's the seventh in the Her Royal Spyness series, although I didn't realize that when I picked it up at a used book store. Fortunately -- although I'm sure reading the previous books would have added depth to some of the characters and relationships -- I had no problem jumping in at this point in the series. 

Bottom line: if you enjoy your mysteries cozy, or find yourself missing Downton Abbey, give the series a try.