Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Vintage Vest --- Three Years in the Making

I started knitting this almost 3 years ago.  It went in fits and starts. By August 2009, I'd finished it  - except that the edging bands were too puckery and tight.  It sat in my bag until I contracted the "Finishitupitis" that the Yarn Harlot talked about in a recent post.   I unpicked the bands, and cast off again on much larger needles.  Now the bands are flat.  I've worn this several times already. It's very lightweight, but oh-so-warm!  Unfortunately I've had a hard time getting good pictures of it.  I tried some pictures with me wearing it, but they kept on coming out too dark.  The pattern is Valley Yarns Vintage Vest available at Webs, and the yarn is Valley Yarns Alpaca Silk.  You can also get the pattern for free on Ravelry. I used perhaps a little more than half of the cone.  (I think the pattern is also in one of the

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beautiful, but Dangerous!

My house is festooned with ice.  When the sun comes out, we are frequently startled by thuds as larger chunks of ice fall from the upper rooflines.

Friday Five: Favorite Bible Verses

Songbird posted this Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals:

Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) 

For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them.

At different times of my life, different verses have been my favorites because they spoke to me in the place I was at the time.  My first Bible, a Revised Standard Version, was given to me in 1962 by the First United Church of Christ,Congregational in Milford, Ct.  I used that Bible for many, many years and it's marked up, highlighted and written in.  It's a wonderful record of my spiritual journey.  Some of the highlighted passages leave me wondering what it was I wrestling with at the time.  Obviously it was soul-churning at the time, but from 40 or so years later, the question or problem is gone from memory.  Other highlighted passages take me right back to some of my darkest nights.  I use a different Bible nowadays - the New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV -- most of the time, and some of the same verses are marked.  So here, in no particular order, are some of my very meaningful passages:

1.  Psalm 121:  This is the RSV which is how it's ingrained in my memory

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore. 

This is a psalm I've always liked probably because it was one of my mother's favorites. Despite life-long Sunday school classes, I wasn't ever required to memorize scripture, but this comes close to a memorized passage.  I've always loved the images in this psalm. As a child I loved the language too - especially verse 6.  I still go back to this psalm at times of great anxiety.

2.  Psalm 51: 10

Create in me a clean heart , O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Bound Book Congregational Church, Bound Brook, NJ is where this verse first found me during the 1964-1965 school year.  Ms. LeNorth's 5th grade Sunday School class, to be precise.  I don't remember the activity, I don't remember the gist of the lesson, I just remember this verse which I've prayed many, many, many times since then.

3.   Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters,* by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual* worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world,* but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.*

This passage was the theme for the UCC National Youth Event in 2004.  I was co-leader of The United Church of Jaffrey, UCC's senior high youth group and the pastor and I took a group of our youth to this event.  We spent the year before the event fundraising:  we sold nuts, we flamingoed parishioners' lawns, we held car washes, and the congregation "voted" through cash donations in jars what color the pastor would dye his hair and appear in the pulpit with.  (Pink was the winning color!)   It was a year of fun and fellowship, and especially growth in faith, as we all wrestled with this passage and what it means to be transformed.  

4.  Psalm 141:3
 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips!

This verse became a mantra with me when I was in college.  I can be outspoken at times, but I am someone who processes ideas by talking it out.  People who know me well understand that about me.  They understand that when I am confronted with a new idea or challenge, I often start reacting and speak my thoughts.  Frequently my initial reactions morph into completely different reactions once I've talked  it through.  People who don't know me hear my first thoughts, and are "turned off" to me.  It took me a long time to understand that about myself, and then change my  ways.  I don't always succeed.  At the very least, I am usually able to preface my immediate reactions with "my first reaction is, but I have to think about it --- and I'm thinking aloud here.. ." or something to that effect.

I also need this verse in my role as a classroom teacher.  Students don't always hear what we mean.  They miss the tone that is used; they hear only part of what we say; they misinterpret what we say.  Words can hurt, especially when some of our students have language disabilities.  It's important for teachers to be very mindful of not only what we say but how we say it. 

5.  Luke 24:13-32
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." 25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"

I love this story because it reminds me how often we (I!) don't recognize God among us, within us.  We don't recognize "our hearts burning within us" until we're slapped over the head with it.  And it also reminds of the times when I do recognize God breaking through.    Even when we're most disconsolate,  God reaches us and the Spirit makes Itself known to us.  This passage made its first impression on me during college.  I was struggling with choosing a major, finding a path to follow, and I was having a great deal of trouble with a roommate.  My best friend invited me home one weekend and I made my first trip to the state that would later become my home.  She took me to her tiny American Baptist church that Sunday and the pastor preached on this text.  Suddenly I felt that "burning" and realized that I wasn't alone.  I had this wonderful friend, I had a supportive church group at college, and of course, I had God.  The 2nd time this story deeply affected me was several years ago when I co-taught Confirmation class with the pastor.  We used this text as one of the foundation texts for the year-long class.  When the confirmands led their confirmation service, they used it to describe their individual faith journeys.  The openness and honesty of their testimony ( I can't think of a better word, despite my sometimes negative reaction to that word) brought us all to tears.  How we long for the burning of our hearts, despite the fact that our response leads us to places we might not want to go.


Micah 6:8 

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

I love this verse. It keeps jumping up and waving its hand in front of my face.  From a Sunday school class as a kid, to a sermon I preached in college, to a gathering I attended at Andover Newton, to the NYE 2004 event where Ken Medema sang a song based on this text, to its appearance in the lectionary . . . it pops up continually to remind me what my task is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

View from the Kitchen

Just testing out how quickly I can upload pictures now! Amazing!!! It took only seconds. With my dial up it would take at least 45 minutes for one picture to load, if I were lucky!!
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And a New Era is Ushered In

Just a brief moment of exultation!

We now have high speed internet, after years of dial up.  I feel like a kid in a candy store!  I have been having fun looking at videos, and photos, and am just amazed at how quickly every thing moves.  And I am so proud of myself for hooking up everything correctly without any help other than the diagrams sent with the modem.  My next project will be to make sure the wireless works correctly.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book #5 for 2011

Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1)Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I downloaded this on my Kindle at the recommendation of a blog friend.  It's a new author for me,or team of authors as it's a duo who write under the pseudonym of Jefferson Bass. One author is Dr. Bill Bass who founded the Anthropology Research Facility aka the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee.  His writing partner is Jon Jefferson, who is a journalist and documentary filmmaker.  While I am not a fan of detailed gore, I do enjoy the detective work that forensic pathologists and medical examiners do.  The fictional Dr. Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist and professor at the University of Tennessee, home of the famous (infamous?) Body Farm. He is called in to investigate an unusual find - the perfectly preserved body of an unknown female deep inside a cave in the Tennessee hills.  He is thrust into the middle of corrupt county law enforcement and longtime family feuds.  Is Jim O'Connor as aboveboard as he seems or is he the seat of the corruption?  And what about Tom Kitchings, the Cooke County sheriff and former star UT quarterback?  I enjoyed the plot and I didn't expect the twist at the end of the book.  The actual description of the forensic work was pretty detailed; I did skim a few sections, in the way I cover my eyes when surgeons start to operate on TV, or something particularly grisly shows up on the screen.  I will look for the next book in the series.

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As an aside:  I've been to the University of Tennessee 3 times, most recently in 2005.  All 3 times I was chaperoning groups of children.  One trip was for the UCC National Youth Event, and the other two were finals for a problem solving competition.   I was completely unaware of the existence of the the Body Farm.  As I read this novel, however, I recognized the stadium  and remember someone telling me that there were classrooms under it.    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: Books!

This is one Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals that is definitely right up my alley!

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! And if you don't want to do that freestyle, here are some questions:

1. What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them.
I've read 4 books so far in 2011.  I am an avid reader and I comment on just about every book I read at and in this blog. For the most recent comments, check out a post earlier today on Mary Roach's Packing for Mars. I've also reviewed a couple of mysteries earlier this month.
2. What books are awaiting your available time to be read?
 I am currently reading three books:  The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny and Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass, and  Zero, The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.  In my physical books-to-read-soon stack I have a Martha Grimes from the library, Half-Broke Horses, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic, Death of a Perfect Wife, and Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis.  I also have a number of books on my Kindle waiting to be read - Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, Hospitality the Sacred Art, The Goddess of Fried Okra

3. Have any books been recently recommended?
Just about all of the books on my list are books that have been recommended by my blog and Ravelry friends, my in-person friends, and a few are titles from a Fred Wolff series of writing workshops I've attended.  

4. What genre of books are your favorite, along with some titles and/or authors you like best?
I've been an eclectic reader most of my life, but lately I've taken to reading series that feature strong detectives and murder mysteries.  Most of them are set in another time/place - The Inspector Rutledge books by Charles Todd, the Kate Shugak novels by Dana Stabenow, the Armand Gamache books by Louise Penny, the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear, the Inspector Jury series by Martha Grimes, the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma Jones series to name a few.  I also really enjoy historical fiction set in England.    I DISLIKE books that glorify violence and gore or that dwell in darkness.  I stopped reading Patricia Cornwell because I felt nothing but darkness when I read them.  I also have never cottoned on to the James Patterson books, Sukie Stackhouse books or Dean Koontz which seem to be popular with some of my colleagues at work.

5. What have you read lately that you have a strong urge to recommend? (or to condemn?)

I definitely recommend Louise Penny's books, Stiff and Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, and At Home by Bill Bryson.  I also highly recommend Sara Miles' book Take This Bread . It's one of the best books on communion I've ever read.

Meeting One of My New Year's Resolutions

A resolution this year is to read more nonfiction.  As of today,  25% of books read for 2011 have been nonfiction, so I'm feeling virtuous.  (Of course, that's ONE book out of a total of FOUR!)   This was a great first step towards my somewhat amorphous goal.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the VoidPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading and thorough enjoying Stiff, I had to pick up Mary Roach's new book when I saw it on the "Featured" shelf at my library.  I'm glad I did.  Mary Roach is a science writer who makes science topics interesting because she's not afraid to ask the questions we wonder about but don't ask.  How exactly do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?  How do they bathe?  What does it feel like to hurtle through the atmosphere? As someone who grew up during the 1960's I was glued to the TV during the space flights, and I was actually visiting Cape Kennedy in 1969 when the first men on the moon splash landed.  I found this book fascinating.   Roach experienced astronaut training first-hand - from vomiting in the zero-gravity chamber, drinking recycled urine, and to using the space toilet on camera.  While on some level I understood that in zero-gravity everything "floats" I didn't really understand how that impacted bodily excretions until Roach's detailed descriptions. "Fecal popcorning" is not one of the terms NASA shared on TV when kids asked how astronauts went to the bathroom.  I also had no inkling of just how prevalent motion sickness in astronauts is. Her chapter entitled "Throwing Up and Down" details the great lengths NASA has gone to in order to minimize the nausea and to deal with the vomit that results.  Other chapters describe some of the early space flight experiments involving animals, the psychological problems of being in space, and the physical effects of zero-gravity on the human body.  Her chapter titles are witty: "Separation Anxiety - The Continuing Saga of Zero-Gravity Elimination" deals with toileting issues, while "Houston, We Have a Fungus" discusses how astronauts attempt to stay clean (or not!).

I love her description of gravity.  It starts with a basic science definition "Gravity is the pull, measurable and predicable, that one mass exerts on another."(p.85) and goes on to explain

"Gravity is why there are suns and planets in the first place.  It is practically God.  In the beginning, the cosmos was nothing but empty space and vast clouds of gases.  Eventually the gases cooled to the point where tiny grains coalesced.  These grains would have spent eternity moving through space, ignoring each other, had gravitational attraction not brought them together.  Gravitation is the lust of the cosmos.  As more particles joined the orgy, these celestial blobs grew in size.  The bigger they became, the bigger the pull they exerted.  Soon (in a thousands-of-centuries sort of way) they could lure larger and more distant particles into the tar pit of their gravitational influence.   Eventually stars were born, objects big enough to pull passing planets and asteroids into orbit.  Hello, solar system.
  Gravity is the prime reason there's life on Earth.  Yes, you need water for life, but without gravity, water wouldn't hang around.  Nor would air.  It is Earth's gravity that holds the gas molecules of our atmosphere -which we need not only to breathe but to be protected from solar radiation - in placer around the planet.  Without gravity, the molecules would fly off in to space along with the water in the oceans and the cars on the roads  and you and me and Larry King and the dumpster in the In-N-Out Burger parking lot."  (pp. 85-86)

This book introduced new information to me, clarified some ideas, put old ideas into a new light, and made me laugh.  I call that a pretty great book!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Mysteries

The first mystery on tap is A Fearsome Doubt by Charles Todd.  The author is actually a mother-son team who write under this pseudonym.

A Fearsome Doubt (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #6)A Fearsome Doubt by Charles Todd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Inspector Ian Rutledge faces a challenging problem when he is confronted by the strong possibility that his police work led to the hanging of an innocent man.  Reopening the investigation is thorny when he realizes that by doing so he puts his supervisor's skills into question, and the last thing he needs is to have another reason for Bowles to hate him.  At the same time, he's sent off to Kent to investigate the murders of several disabled veterans of the war.  While the characters are as sharply drawn as ever, and we see more and more flashes of Rutledge's mental recovery, the mysteries themselves were rather ho-hum.  This installment didn't grab me the way others have.  It won't stop me from reading on however!

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The second mystery is by Louise Penny whose Inspector Armand Gamache series is presently one of my favorites.  Set in Quebec,  Penny uses the cultural and natural environment to create a strong setting for her hero.  Gamache is thorough in police work, intuitive as far as human nature is concerned, and wrestles with the real existence of good and evil.  He is a highly moral man with a good understanding of the frailties of human nature.  

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie are celebrating their wedding anniversary at an exclusive lakeside auberge.  Other guests at the lodge include the Finney/Morrow clan who are gathering for a family reunion. Armand and Reine-Marie are pleasantly surprised to discover that Peter and Clara Morrow are part of the Morrow reunion.  However, their idyllic vacation comes to a screeching halt when one of the Morrows is murdered by a falling statue.  How this was accomplished and who managed to do so, makes for a compelling, page-turning read.  Along the way we learn much more about who Armand Gamache is and what makes him tick.  The writing is wonderful, and I very much appreciate the jewels of poetry that are sprinkled through the text.  This series is much more than "cozy mysteries."  Although the coziness is there, there is a darker edge that is quite satisfying.

All Things in Moderation?

I am really trying to strike a balance between work and play.  With the 3 day weekend I probably managed it a bit better than on other such occasions, but it still felt a little heavy on the have-tos.  Saturday my husband and I trekked down to Elder Son's home (about 2 hrs away) to deliver the "old" snowblower to him.  We took Elder Son out to lunch and then I took him grocery shopping.  Elder Son recently went through "job elimination" so he's battling that shock. He'd worked for a really good company for 5 years, with glowing reviews and promotions, and then he went into work the Tuesday before Christmas and was told that his job had been eliminated effective immediately --- no warning, no severance, no nothing.  So despite the fact that he is a VERY frugal man, and has a healthy savings account plus some investments, panicking parents felt the need to supply him with groceries!  We had a pleasant visit, but it did involve the whole day.  And the traffic was quite heavy on the return trip which makes the drive more tiring. It's not that I don't want to see our son, but sometimes he has the attitude that we have more time to travel than he does.  It's a 4 hour round trip no matter who makes it!

Yesterday was church.  I am now the moderator of my church and one of my responsibilities is to chair our monthly Council meeting.   I've attended Council for the better part of 25 years as chair of one committee or another, and over the past year or two I've chaired several meetings as vice moderator.  But yesterday was my first outing as the new moderator.  One of my pet peeves about Council meeting is the pacing.  Sometimes they drag on as discussion bogs down into everybody saying their piece multiple times.  My goal as the meeting facilitator is to find that balance between making sure everyone who needs to speak does and making sure we're not belaboring a point.  I was successful yesterday, and not only did we get through the entire agenda, but we finished in record time!  (It helped that we'd just had Annual Meeting on Thursday so there wasn't much new to report.)

After church my husband and I had a quick dinner, and then he took off on a sports trip.  (He drove the bus for the team.) I spent most of the afternoon grading papers and doing laundry.  I would have preferred to accept my friend's invitation to go over to house for a knitting session, but those papers don't grade themselves.    I don't like grading papers and I especially dislike grading late work.  I have a group of students this year who do not complete assignments.  I've been struggling with this:  We need to stay in constant communication with parents about their students' grades but it gets old fast when only 5 students turn in assignments on time. There are days  I spend more time contacting parents about missing work than I do correcting on-time work.  That's a problem.  Yesterday I graded 4 sets of papers,  made a list of missing work for 15 students, and started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the classroom this week.  I finally sat down with my knitting and Netflix at 6 pm.  I was in bed at 10, but I couldn't sleep since my husband was still out on the sports trip.

Today is "my day off" - and it will consist of a doctor's appointment that will consume most of the morning.  This afternoon I still have some school work to finish, and there is some business bookkeeping to deal with.    I am also supposed to get to the pool at 5 pm for water aerobics.  After reviewing all of this, I don't think I hit the balance I was looking for between relaxation and work, but I didn't spend ALL weekend on have-to's.  Just a lot of it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Knitting Project of 2011

I have temporarily abandoned a major knitting project because I am trying to locate some more yarn in the appropriate dye lot.  I've tried Ravelry, Ebay, and several on line knitting stores.  I've managed to locate 1.25 skeins so now I'm just waiting for the yarn to arrive, and I'm hoping that that will be enough.

In the mean time I decided to use up some stash. I knit the Listado Cowl from Nelkins Designs.  I used leftover yarn from a previous project, "Audrey" from Shaefer Yarns in the color Indira Ghandi.  Since the yarn was slightly lighter than the suggested yarn, I went up needle size and used 8's.  It was  very quick and easy pattern, and I wore it to school today in the 7° F weather we had.  It worked perfectly!  I may use this pattern to whip up some Christmas gifts for next year!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

One Down, 51 To Go

We're already arrived at the second week of the year.  Last week felt very long and my immune system was battling a number of attackers!  One of the reasons the week seemed long was the fact that I attended our local school board meeting Monday night.  The board is planning to make a series of budget cuts that will severely impact how we deliver instruction next year.  A core teacher in my current grade level will be cut, and the plan is to change our organization.  Currently we are divided into "pods" or teams of two teachers.  Each pod shares about 40 students, and each teacher teaches two subjects.  I teach social studies and language arts and I see each of my students for a minimum of 10 hours a week for core instruction. Next year, teachers will teach just one subject, and will teach the entire grade level.  So one teacher will be responsible for the instruction of approximately 110 students every day.  Under this proposed structure, I would see each student for about 4.25 hours each week.  A big difference in instructional time, but more importantly a huge change in being able to really get to know your students and build the personal connections that are so important at the middle level.  A group of us went to the board meeting to ask them to reconsider the proposed cut.  It was a long meeting, and a very long day!

This coming week is also going to be a bear.  I have a district level committee meeting on Monday after school, a regular staff meeting on Tuesday, the church's annual meeting on Wednesday, and on Thursday I have 3 obligations -- a board meeting, a church committee meeting, and the school district budget hearing.  In between I have to write sub plans as I am supposed to attend a day-long workshop on Wednesday.    I'm glad next weekend is a 3 day one!

As far as trying to balance have-to's and want-to's I didn't do a great job this past week, and it doesn't look like this next week will be any better!!  However on the want-to's --- here's a report!

I have abandoned a sweater I've been working on for several months until I can locate more yarn of a compatible dye lot.  If anyone has any Plymouth Royal Llama Silk in color 6605, dyelot 30007, I need 2 skeins!!  I did start a cowl from some leftover yarn which I will probably finish up later today.  I have to find the camera to get some pictures.

As for reading, I plowed my way through Ken Follett's newest, Fall of Giants.  My review is below.  I told my husband, maybe I should keep track of pages read, not just books read.  This tome was 985 pages long!

Fall of GiantsFall of Giants by Ken Follett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this first installment in Ken Follett's planned trilogy.  The novel spans the years 1911-1920, and follows the fortunes of five families.  The five families represent major social groups affected by World War I:  a Welsh coal mining Williams family, the English aristocratic Fitzherberts, the Russian peasant Peshov family, the German von Ulrich's, and the American Dewars.  Within these families are feminists, Conservatives, Bolsheviks, White Russians, Labour party members, warmongers, and peacemakers.  Many of the characters and their situations are a bit cliched.  Ethel Williams is the fiery housemaid who has an affair with the Earl and bears his child.  The Earl's sister is an ardent feminist and is in love with a German, her country's enemy.  I was compelled enough by the plot to keep reading, but I have to admit to some serious skimming through all the battle details, and some of the political machinations. At 985 pages, the story got derailed now and then, and I think some judicious cutting would have kept the important ideas and moved the story along a little more efficiently.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Time Flies

It seems like yesterday, that first digit in the year changed!  I remember all the hoopla surrounding the millenium, and the worries about whether or not we'd be able to access our bank accounts.  And here we are 11 years later.  Where has the time gone?

I don't usually make resolutions for the New Year, although I do usually take at least a few minutes to take stock of where I've been, and where I want to go.  I've been so busy this year that I haven't really done that.  Yesterday's Friday Five did get me thinking a bit, however.  The following aren't really resolutions.  I guess I'm calling them goals --- that sounds less daunting to me.  I  set goals all the time for my students and  I have to set professional goals each year.  None of us always reaches our goals, but at least we try.  Failure isn't absolute, because we've at least made some progress even if we haven't met all of them.  So here, in no particular order of importance, are my goals:

1.  I'd like to read 125 books.  I read 118 books in 2010.  Most of them were pure escapism, and in the category of "brain candy", but I read a lot.  In addition to reading 125 books, I'd like to add a few more books with some meat in them.  One way I'm helping myself is setting up a nonfiction shelf on my Goodreads. com site.  For those of you interested in my books, you can find me there at dswgr6.  As some of you know, I review many of the books of the read, although not all!

2.  I want to take better care of myself, physically, emotionally, spiritually  This is a multiple approach goal!  I'm not setting any weight loss goals, I'm not "going on a diet" (although I desperately need to), I'm not changing my exercise plans.  I don't feel as good as I used to, I'm starting to feel "old", and I never have any energy.  I do plan to be more intentional all around -- about what I eat, how much I eat, how often I exercise.  I think if I just PAY ATTENTION to my body, I will be much more successful in taking care of myself physically.  In the other areas of my life, I am going to continue the practice I've started of saying no when I really can't or don't want to do something.  I'm taking on a huge responsibility in two weeks, of being the moderator of my church.  There will be many tasks that I will have to do in that role, but there will be many tasks that I can delegate.  "I" do not have to do them all --- I can allow someone else to do them.    I need to balance the have-tos  and should-dos with the want-tos and I am going to try not to feel guilty when I sometimes allow myself to do the want-to instead of the should-do.  I am going to schedule time EVERY weekend for at least a half hour of business bookkeeping.  That should help me alleviate some of the time crunches I get into. (We'll see!)  I also want to pay more attention to the spiritual side of my life. I've been struggling with the fact that I don't feel fed when I go to church.  Sometimes I've avoided attending church because I come home so frustrated.  I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that, especially considering the role I'm taking on, but I'm hoping that a lot more intentional prayer will help!

3.  I want to really be intentional about getting rid of "STUFF". We have a huge house and it's filled.  This goal will take some help from my husband who suffers from the same "It might come in handy" syndrome that I suffer from.  But we've both come to realize that we need to de-clutter and divest ourselves of some of the flotsam and jetsam we've accumulated throughout the years.  We CAN DO THIS!

4.  I want to continue to get together with my family --- our sons, my sisters, my brother, my aunts, my cousins.  We saw  a lot of each other this year - more so than in years past, and I want to continue that habit!

5. This goal I can't blog about.  It's the one that is the most challenging.  I have some ideas about how to reach  it, but there's a lot about it that I have no control over.  So, for that goal, I will need a lot of patience, and a lot of prayer.

May you reach (or make steady progress towards) the goals you have for 2011.