Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With Age Comes Wisdom....

Or something of the kind.

I have now been 40 a week and a half.  Statistically speaking, as a better-off American woman, I have lived half my life.  Not  bad--especially considering how many people I have known who didn't even make it this far. I think it also means I've learned about half of what I'm going to learn in my lifetime--which also isn't bad.  It gives me lots more to learn and experience, and it means there is hope for mastering that damn crockpot yet!

Some of the key things I've learned in the first half:

*  Too many adults lose the fun and playfulness in life

*   Consciously or not, I tend to spend more time with people who are open to trying new things, who have few dislikes, and are generally positive than with the people who have long lists of things they won't do or won't try.

*  Never wear shoes that hurt your feet, no matter how cute they are or what a great deal they were

*  If someone talks about how others have "abandoned" them or how they have "trust" issues with new people, it usually means they have driven everyone else in their life away.

*  Beware of women who don't have many friends or who always have new friends.  It generally means they don't know how to BE a friend.

*  I will never EVER wish I had spent more time watching television

*  Having children in order to hold onto someone, to save a marriage, or to make someone love you never, ever,  EVER really works. 

*  Marry someone you genuinely like to talk with.

*  No one--not a sibling or a parent or a child--deserves to be in your life if they treat you badly.

*  I have a lot of friends, even though I don't always have much in common with some of them.  The key seems to be whether or not we really like each other for the people we are, not the jobs we have or the sports we play.

*  People rarely change, no matter how many chances you give them.  Either accept them as they are or cut your losses and move on.

*  Building a snowman is fun at ANY age.

*  Swapping book recommendations with friends is great.  I wish we'd started sooner.

*  If you want people to want to be around you, BE a person others want to be around.

*  Some people seem to go from drama to drama to drama in life.  I just don't have the energy for that.

*  Some of the most fun things I've done are the ones I was almost too shy to do.  

*  Chewing with your mouth closed and not talking with your mouth full are not only good manners, but if you can't even stop talking long enough to chew your food, you're probably doing too much talking and not enough listening.....not to mention spraying everyone with half-chewed food.

*  Spend as little time as you can around people who talk AT you and as much time as possible around those who talk WITH you

* Humor makes most things easier.

*  Sure, one can always have a bigger house, a nicer car, more money.  I really believe the key to happiness is being content to say, "I have enough." 

*  Be a collector of amazing people.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week Continued: Banned Books That Kids Have Probably Already Seen As A Movie Anyway

What do the following movies have in common?

1. Clockwork Orange
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Forrest Gump
4. Gone With The Wind
5. The "Harry Potter" movies
6. The "Lord of the Rings" movies
7. Precious
8. Sophie's Choice
9. The Color Purple
10. The Godfather
11. The Shining
12. There Will Be Blood
13. To Kill A Mockingbird
14. The "Twilight" movies
15. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

All are based on books that have been challenged or banned. You can read the reasons behind each one here:

American Library Association: Banned Books Week 2010: 15 Iconic Movies Based On Banned Books (PHOTOS)

but my personal favorite is Willy Wonka. It was locked away in 1988 by a librarian who decided that the book espoused poor choices. By 1988 every kid in America had probably seen the Gene Wilder movie on television at least five times, and if being turned into a giant blueberry for breaking the rules isn't tough enough for this librarian, she probably missed her calling as a prison matron.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Honor of Banned Books Week - Banned Books That Might Surprise You

Giant peaches, hobbits, dictionaries, Little Red Riding Hood........we should be SO thankful that there are people determined to protect the world from such dangers.........

Banned Books Week: 10 banned books you might not expect - Yahoo! News

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow

Banned Books Week--which actually isn't a week-long retreat for the Texas Board of Education, though I can understand any confusion about that--kicks off tomorrow. 

Now, being me, a book getting banned or challenged almost automatically moves it to me "must read" list--especially since so often the book is being challenged by people who have never read the book.  Incredible as that seems, it never seems to phase those who ban books. 

The American Library Association has some great information about banned books, including the following list of most-often banned or challenged classics  (and you can blame the lack of proper punctuation on them, not me--I just cut & pasted):

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell

18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E. M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

These are the books that most frighten people.  I will grant that some of these books are intended for a mature reader, but who in the world is threatened by Winnie the Pooh???????????? And why even bother to ban anything by James Joyce--I don't think any of us have ever understood his stuff anyway.  Are they just afraid of excessive foot notes?  And could there possibly be anything in ANY of these books that is even half as frightening as a small minority of people trying to control what others have the right to read?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Turning 40 really isn't stressful, since the entire year before when I told people I was 39, they thought I was really 40 and just lying about my age.

*  Some people are takers.  Other people are givers.  And a "giving" grandmother will send you home with 4 boxes of cucumbers from her garden and call a few days later to see if you need more.

*  We are having to prioritize canned tomato items this year as the tomatoes are so late.  Apparently salsa trumps everything, with chunky tomato sauce as a close second.  We think we'll have an easier time finding canned tomatoes without additives than salsa or tomato sauce without additives, because the person who is in charge of grocery shopping and our no-processed-foods diet (namely, me) failed to take helpful notes on such things.......

*  The majority of the birthday cards I receive talked about drinking wine.  Obviously, I am not a "woman of mystery" to my friends.........

*  Apples have a pretty decent shelf life, and can wait a few days before being made into apple butter.  I have never before realized what a wonderful trait that is.

*  Getting water in under the knobs of a gas stove can cause some interesting electrical arcing.  And Sears has a large supply of gas stove replacement parts.  Both are good to know.....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pandora's Box

Andy and I now know for sure that we feel better not eating processed foods.  There is no doubt in our minds that our new lifestyle is better for us, and that the time spent gardening and canning is really worthwhile.  No questions. 

And after having canned 22 quarts of pickles and 10 pints of salsa in the last couple days, I really wish I could completely forget all about it and buy neon-green pickles just like everyone else.  It would be SO much easier!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Wonder Who......

SOMEONE here at Chateau Sutton-Goar thought that picking 2 buckets of apples and 4 boxes of cucumbers in the same night was a good idea.  I don't want to name names, but it would be the same person who was up to 1:00 am slicing and brining cucumbers, and is now sterilizing jars for the SECOND round of pickles tonight........

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turning 40

Yesterday was my 40th birthday.  So far, being 40 is EXCELLENT.  I highly recommend it.  I started the day with Andy bringing me fresh homemade bread & coffee for breakfast in bed--or that was the good start.  The REAL start to the day was a cold-nose-on-the-face wake-up call from Theo, but the bread made up for it. 

I got to spend the day sewing & knitting, which is always nice, and for dinner....
Andy had offered to take me out to celebrate, but after having been gone for a week, a nice quiet dinner at home sounded MUCH better.....especially when it involves Andy's homemade naan.

After dinner we had 3 rousing rounds of 13 Dead End Drive:
an incredibly silly board game we picked up for 75 cents on Thrift Shop Day, and spent a great hour on the patio enjoying one of the last warm-ish summer nights and blissfully trying to murder each other's characters.  Ah, true love. 

And, this is the proto-type for the birthday gift Andy is making for me:
A writing desk!  The real one will be in walnut, which is a truly beautiful wood, and it might have been done had Andy's band-saw not decided to develop motor issues.....which happened right about the time my sewing machine finally (after an 11-week saga) come home from the repair shop fully functioning, which makes us suspect that our hobby machines have some sort of union agreement going on here.  BUT, the prototype is still very exciting, and with a little sanding could be used until the real one is done.  Which might be right around the time I finally finish Andy's birthday sweater..........

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lesson Learned Today

Know what the very best thing about turning 40 is?  Having 40 years' worth of friends to celebrate it with!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Am Dog & House Sitting

Meet Chicory--a Sheltie puppy belonging to a friend of mine.  There are actually two dogs, but the other dog is outside napping right now--probably to get away from the puppy.  It's very interesting to go from cats to dogs--I have gone from being "staff" to being "center of the known universe."  And whatever I have said about Theo being clingy,
he is NOTHING compared to the puppy.  Honestly, I prefer the independence of cats, but the dogs are easier to walk than Theo is.

Saturday I wanted to make a southwestern salsa recipe, but I didn't have quite enough tomatoes, so I ended up BUYING tomatoes
 because ours are just not really doing much.  It is September, and our tomatoes are just now starting to ripen.  Our weather has been crazy--it was 92 degrees on Saturday, we didn't even have a high of 70 yesterday, and it's supposed to be 73 today and 81 tomorrow.  Oh yeah--the global climate ISN'T changing.  We're just having really bizarre weather for three years in a row for no reason.   Uh huh. 

It seems silly to be buying tomatoes, but we love salsa and the ones I made don't have high fructose corn syrup or additives or food dyes, so I think buying a few tasteless Romas from the store is worth it if the alternative is having to buy salsa.  We don't know yet how the southwest salsa turned out, because most salsa needs to sit for at least a month before opening, but we hope it's good--there are 17 1-cup jars of the stuff.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Note To Self

Note to self:  Think about the list when sending your husband to Costco.  If he walks out with just a big package of toilet paper and a large tin of Hershey's Cocoa Powder, people are going to wonder..........


You know you've reached a whole new level of gardening when you receive a wholesale catalog.....