Tuesday, June 28, 2011

i want this skirt!

check out this giveaway link for a soft bamboo skirt!  i can feel it already!  swish, swish...


I love to watch cats wash their feet...  makes me smile...  especially when they start chewing...
My children are becoming photographers...  they are novices still...  it's blurry because he's chewing REALLY fast, right?

I finally finished Drowning Ruth.  I LOVED it!  It was delicious: simple with complexities...  I'll share more on Friday.

Tomorrow I am off to the big city.... Lots of plans: temple, Chipotle, thrift stores, Whole Foods, and Barnes and Noble for a new journal. 

How many books do you read at a time?

I have books for the bathroom, the van, my "table" (where I study), my purse, the treadmill...  Some choices are based on size for easy handling (treadmill), nonfiction is best for the bathroom, fiction for the purse, and thick heavy books for studying at the table... 

Tren, if you're looking for a place to house all those books you cull, let me know!  :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

i'm too busy to read!

Now if that isn't a cry for help, I don't know what is!  I am in the middle of Drowning Ruth and loving it.  It feels like I may want to read it twice to pick up all the little clues and twists that I'm missing because I'm so distracted.  It isn't detail-oriented in a "solve the mystery" way, I just wish I had time to submerge and live in the story.

Nevertheless, I made a library trip anyway and tried to see if any books from the Persephone Books catalogue were there - just one: The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  If you haven't snagged a look at Persephone Book's website, take a peek...  lots of treasures. 

tren - I have read that Hitler's Youth book, and Letters From A Woman Homesteader is on my bookshelf.  It was a thrift store find.  My girls have read about Maud March - one loved it and two were lukewarm.  I thought it was a fascinating idea...  Your Granny's story sounds interesting, too....

fartygirl - I just read the New Yorker article about the Wilder women...  Very intriguing.  I always felt the tension between Pa and Ma...  I think we read the stories differently as adults than we did as children.

Books I've Read:
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte - This was definitely good Bronte reading.  It was not as great as Jane Eyre, but the characters were interesting and it had a bit of mystery on the moors.  Shockingness with a woman leaving her husband and living on her own...
Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl - As a consummate scholar and scientist, Viktor Frankl used his experience as a prisoner in the camps of the Holocaust to study human nature and the truth of "choice".  We always have a choice. He wrote parts of this while he was in the camps and kept his papers hidden!
Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury - I read Something Wicked This Way Comes in 9th grade English.  I loved it.  It was fall in New England and life was imitating art.  I did not enjoy Farenheit 451... at all.  It was a book club selection, otherwise I would not have picked it up - sci-fi, futuristic, very dark.  Silly, in my opinion.  But any guesses on future technology could be seen as silly.  The age-old tactic of book-burning was carried over into Bradbury's future, though.
Except For Me and Thee - Jessamyn West - I watched "Friendly Persuasion" often on AMC as a child.  I decided to pick this one up and read the story that lead up to it.  It was easy reading - a story of the Quakers and their relationships with the slaves. 
The South Beach Diet - Arthur Agatston, MD - I read it, I admit. It was hard for me as I believe in natural foods, in their natural state, in natural proportions, all in moderation.  If I remember correctly, I was annoyed with the lack of evidence of a healthy sustainablility.

Do you "hoard" books?  Or "collect"?  Or do you read and give away as my sister does?

Friday, June 24, 2011

dirty feet

I painted my toe nails. 

Now, I hate make-up.  Occasionally I will honor a situation by putting on mascara and a shiny lip gloss, but I hate doing things to me that take time away from other things - like books!  And eating... and sleeping... and squishing little and big children...

But I HAD to paint the toes.  We worked in the garden for a couple of hours this morning before it became unbearably hot.  As usual, I went barefoot.  No amount of scrubbing or soaking will wash away the evidence of agrarian womanhood, so I painted.  Now I look like a toe-nail painter.  I'm such a hussy!  :)

1993-1994 BYU Speeches - various - uplifting speeches given at BYU on LDS themes
Lorna Doone - RD Blackmore - a recommendation and gift from tren (one of my "followers", haven't learned how to link yet!).  I enjoyed this classic novel.  It's long.  It's old.  It's Scottish.  So there is some mental effort to be exerted but, the story is just as thrilling as any classic should be.  John Ridd falls in love with the mysterious Lorna Doone, who lives with a clan of outlaws.  There is drama, love, and a dry patch in the middle when John Ridd goes to the city, but it still holds the reader.
The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman - A fascinating nonfiction acount of a family during WWII in Poland that hide people from the Nazis in their zoo.  Zoos were privately owned at the time and the zookeepers lived on the premises with their families.  I read a lot of Holocaust/WWII accounts, and this one sticks out in my mind as a wonderful, well-written story.
America Eats! - Pat Willard - This is a history of food in America.  I believe it followed the food culturally and historically in its context.  It pieces together information gathered in the 1930s by the WPA during the Depression.  It was interesting enough to read, but I don't remember much of the content.
A Light in the Window - Georgene Pearson - A very easy to read account of schoolchildren and their busdriver during a 1931 blizzard.

I never used to read nonfiction.  I'm sure I was "above" that.  Now I am finding that I truly enjoy that medium as a break between the mental work of family and classics. 

What is your favorite type of nonfiction?  Do you ever read it?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

judging books

I must admit I judge books by covers.  Covers are to make a first impression - to reel me into reading a book.  Books today lay it ALL out for everyone to see - especially on the cover.  I will not even bother to read a book with a half-dressed woman (or man) on the cover and I tend to steer away from titles written in gold cursive.  If the book has been made into a movie, I try not to carry the copy with Richard Gere kissing Diane Lane around, even if the story is clean.  I find another copy!

I judge by titles.  Font. Pictures.  The blurbs on the back.  I steer away from words like "passion", "erotic", "sensuous", and "affair".  Some things are just subtle clues to tell you what's inside.  Some people are attracted to that.  Not me.

I might read nonfiction which states certain facts (like Anne Morrow Lindbergh's affair with her doctor), but keep away from the fiction on the same topic... that she had an affair was enough information.  I don't want details.

I also flip through the book backwards (so I don't actually find myself reading ahead!) and allow certain words to jump out.  Usually sex scenes are not on a page loaded with quotation marks.  Long paragraphs may be about the weather and the hillside...  sometimes.  Sex scenes are not usually in the first chapter, but I erred there this week.  I found something disturbing in one book on the third page!

Women writers used to be safer.  Not anymore.  Sometimes their "scenes" are dirtier.

I steer away from sexual descriptions of body parts - not just "scenes". 

I usually stop a book immediately if there is something in it that makes me blush.  Rarely do I continue.  If I did continue, I will warn you.  If I tell you I am reading a book, and then I stop, I will tell you why.

Why does any of this matter?  Because "a man is known by the books he reads".  My book choices will tell you who I am - who I used to be - and who I hope to become.  Books affect us.  We need to be changed for the better by what we read.  With so many books out there, and so little time, we need to help each other muck through the junk to get to the gems that will change us all for the better.

How do you choose books?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

responding to comments

I have no idea how to respond to comments or if I even can with Blogger.  I looked all over Blogger and Blogging For Dummies and all I can guess is that I just make another comment myself.  Does anyone know?

Fartygirl - I haven't seen a New Yorker since I moved to this town 6 years ago!  Ha!  I'll look for the article though...  I can definitely see the love of the dramatic in both of the Wilder women! 

We aren't on a "farm" (if I said I was people in town would laugh at me!)  We have one acre with 40 apple and pear trees.  We have blackberries and raspberries.  We used to have three large gardens but can only keep one safe from the deer.  We used to have rabbits, guineas, and goats for meat and milk until this spring when it was time to move on.  We focused on chickens this year - meat and eggs and amusement.  I'm not vegan, but eat meat VERY sparingly (the ibs)...  I hate store chicken and eggs. 

And I'm glad I'm not alone about the sex scenes!  I feel like a peeping Thomasina!  People get frustrated with me becasue I'm "missing so many great stories" - and at times I get frustrated with the authors/publishers who just throw things in there for... for what?  Money...  shock value...  a better movie screenplay later...  personal lust?  So many great plots I do miss, but c'est la vie.

The Road :-)  I tried to read it but it mad me so sad, I stopped.  Sometimes I hate being morose.  Then we watched the movie the other night.  I was so freaked out by the cannibalism that I fell asleep.  (I've trained myself to sleep through my husband's scary movies!)  Well, some of the spookiness of it stayed with me.  Last night my husband was out playing softball, all the kids were in bed asleep, and I was curled up in a my chair reading Drowning Ruth with the cat.  At one point, the cat woke up and remained alert and studying some noises I couldn't hear.  For a brief moment I was nervous about cannibals bursting through my door...   The first book I ever cried at was Where the Red Fern Grows.

I like Karen Cushman.  I think she's brash and bold and covers topics that are intriguing.  I enjoyed The Midwife's Apprentice.  I haven't read her latest stuff though.  I still find it a bit grown-up for some kids - I think grown-up topics written for kids are usually clean enough for me, though.

Tren - What kind of youth books do you like?  I am impatient with so many of them because they don't have the depth I am looking for now.  I want MORE of the story - more detail, more information, more description, more character development.  I wish they would expand some into novels for grown-ups (I typed "adult novels" but that sounded risque!) almost like they take adult novels and scale them back for kids.

Have a great day folks!  It's a "ditch day" here, so I'll be irrigating the acre!

Monday, June 20, 2011

how to butcher chickens

We butchered over 20 birds on Saturday!  (There is a whole barn of floor space for these birds - they just liked this particular light - they were happy birds!)  Yum, but oh, were we exhausted...  especially my husband who did most of the actual butchering.  I am cleanup crew.

So, how to butcher chickens?  Carefully.

Because of our exhaustion, Anne's monologues were getting on my nerves.  So I put Anne Shirley away for another time, and pulled out another book from my shelf.

I haven't checked with Blogging For Dummies yet, but I scanned the cover so I think I'm still legal!  And this is actually from my shelf.  You can see it in the picture - bottom left shelf...

I needed a book to sink into, and I think I found it:
Ruth remembered drowning. 
"That's impossible," Aunt Amanda said.  "It must have been a dream." 
But Ruth maintained that she had drowned, insisted on it for years, even after she should have known better.

Page one!  And I was hooked.  I checked for cleanliness, and while I err at times, I'm usually right on.  I'm hoping I was right with this one!  I usually look VERY carefully at Oprah's Book Club Selections. I'll tell you how I judge books for cleanliness later this week.

A Place In the Woods - Helen Hoover - I'm sure Miss Helen is a lovely woman and a lovely writer but I remember nothing about this book... it was nonfiction and about nature.
The Amish Cook - Elizabeth Coblentz - I LOVED this cookbook.  It's rather costly so I keep borrowing it from the library.  Elizabeth was an Amish woman who paired with a young black man and began writing a syndicated newspaper column about her daily Amish life (recipes included).  This is a collection of some of those columns.  Elizabeth reminisces about her childhood and how the young Amish today are different and shares the tragedies and triumphs of her growing family.  I loved her writing, and the recipes were tasty.  The pictures were clear - not artistic - plain and simple and honest.
Guide Me to Eternity - CT Monsen - This memoir is a tear-jerker.  I've read this one numerous times as well.  It is the true story of a young LDS wife and mother who chooses to rescue her son from drowning while watching her husband sink from her grasp.  It is a story of comfort and of how we are not left alone in our grief.
Across the Wire - Luis Alberto Urrea - This was a gritty, journalistic view on immigration and the border we share with Mexico.  It was written quite awhile ago if I remember correctly.  It was good for perspective.
A Woman's Place - Lynn Austin - Bethany House publishes books that I call "junk food".  And every once in awhile "junk food" is called for!  This was a fictional tale of women and their roles in WWII.  It was well-written, believable, and moved quickly.
Revolutionary Mothers - Carol Berkin - True stories of the women that helped shape the Colonies into the United States of America during the American Revolution.  Intriguing to see the important roles these women played and how they interconnected.
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - A classic tale of a shipwrecked man who must create a civilization for himself.  I mostly enjoyed it.  There were dry parts and the end was a bit deflated.  Defoe wrote this as a first-person adventure tale which was all-the-rage when he was writing. 
Postville - Stephen G Bloom - A nonfiction account of a group of Orthodox Jews who move their butchering operation into an Iowan town.  There is friction between the two groups.  I found this to be fascinating.
Little Heathens - Mildred Armstrong Kalish - The author wrote this memoir of her growing up years in a large family during the Depression.  I enjoyed the many facets she touched on - the activities and play of the children, the food, and more.  The children in this family seemed to have had a lot of mischievous fun despite the struggles that surrounded them.
Hattie Big Sky - K. Larson - This is a young adult historical novel.  It follows Hattie as she moves West to take over her uncle's homestead at only 16 years of age.  Of course, there is love, and bad guys who wish her to fail.  I enjoyed the concept and my daughter loved it.

Have you ever tasted home-butchered chicken?

What book has made you cry?

Friday, June 17, 2011

reader's block

Do you get Reader's Block?  Life is too busy and crazy so you sit in front of your bookshelf and stare at it for an hour and 17 minutes without finding a good book to read?  Or you wander the library for 54 minutes and find NOTHING that interests you?  Or you ask the twelve year old for a suggestion? 

Life gets that way around here.  I read a lot of magazine articles and scriptures and the fine print on coupon policies, but sometimes a BOOK is beyond me. 

Short stories, you say?  Yes, that's true, but a high school teacher once told me that a short story was meant to be read in one sitting...  she quantified one sitting as "under two hours".  That ruined me.  I NEVER have two hours to sit and read.

So what do I do then?  Tell myself I haven't read anything from 19th cenutry England in awhile and begin Sir Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor.  It was hitting the spot until I kept passing out from exhaustion from these busy summer days.  Such books work the brain.

Then I began Ten Circles Upon the Pond.  It's a story of a young Catholic mother's desire to have lots of children in the face of the Women's Movement and the push that kids ruin the environment.  It was well-written and actually very poetic, but I couldn't keep her kids and my kids straight. 

So last night I picked up an old friend: Anne - with an "E".  Anne Shirley has been a bosom friend for years.  I even bought the whole series with my own money as a pre-teen.  Anne of Green Gables is indeed a friend to many.

I thought I might try to read the whole series again this summer.  We'll see.  Books begging to be read always show up.

The End of Days - Helen Sendyk - a Holocaust memoir.  Nothing that stands out to give you more information - sorry.
The Giver - Lois Lowry - a book club selection; it was not something I would have chosen on my own because it is a book for young adults and it is "futuristic".  What will our world be like someday?  A young man holds all the memories for the community and the responsiblities and burdens that come with that calling.
In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan - I think Michael Pollan is a splendid and educated writer.  It is a nonfiction push to eat local and seasonal.
Rumspringa - Tom Shactman - An interesting nonfiction/journalistic view of how the youth in an Amish community are not so different from us.
The Dawning of a Brighter Day - Alexander B Morrison - a nonfiction account of how the Church of Jesus Christ of LAtter-day Saitns began and grew in Africa
I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree - Laura Hillman - another Holocaust memoir though this is geared towards teens.  I liked the title.
The Walking Drum - Louis L'Amour - This book was another book club selection.  It was not my favorite, but it definitely fell in line with the hero myth.  The hero is larger than life, on a mission of vengeance, and saves the day after a struggle.  It was an easy read though - and long for those that look for length in books.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyle - This is a story told from the point of view of a young boy who is confused about all that is happening around him durring World War II.  His father is chosen to be the comandant of Auschwitz.  It is a moral tale which helps one to forgot that some parts of the story are not believable.  The young boy mispronounces words such as the "Furher".  He thinks it is really the "Fury".  If he were speaking German there would be no misunderstanding, but the author is Australian.  We forgive this little foibles as the story comes to an emotional climax.
Little House on the Prairie Cookbook - Barbara M. Walker - I LOVE Little House on the Prairie.  I even read the cookbook!  I've even cooked from it.  The lemonade is in our family repertoire and we made lard cracklings, and many others besides.  I love revisiting all of the stories in one volume.  Food was so scarce to Laura that it made a very deep impression on her, and we are forever grateful for that bit of history.  My childen love that Almanzo ate pie for breakfast!
The Distant Land of My Father - Bo Caldwell - I enjoyed this tale.  It is a fictional account of a daughter who leaves China in World War II with her mother and becomes American.  Later in her life she decides to return to China to find him, and in so doing, finds out about him.

Do you ever have Reader's Block?  Do you have a trick to overcome it?  Or do you just ride it out?

Who's your favorite book character?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

i DO read fiction...

There was alot of nonfiction in the last list of books...  My reading always reflects my life.

We are still heavy in nonfiction in the titles that follow, but I have mixed in some fiction.

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver - this was a bookclub selection (when I belonged to one).  It is fiction, and the tale of missionary/preacher and his family in Africa in the middle of last century.  It was very good.  I recommend it highly.  The chapters are told by different members of the family as chaos ensues within (and without) the family.  It is set up well, so it shouldn't confuse. 
Rainbow's End - Lauren St. John - Ms. St. John is known by my children for her books about children and animals (The White Giraffe, for example) , but I first found her here.  This is her memoir about her childhood, feeling very African (the only place she's ever lived), yet being a white child in Africa during a period of Revolution and turmoil.  A little intense, but gripping.
Plain and Amish - Langin - a nonfiction account written by an "Englischer" of the history of the Amish and how they manage their faith in today's world.
Omnivore's Dilemna - Michael Pollan - Nonfiction that makes you think about food.  Mr. Pollan follows four different meals from their very different beginnings to their similar endings: his stomach.  This book was powerful AND entertaining.  It helped mold my beliefs about food and what our relationship with it should be.
Nim's Island - Wendy Orr - I read this to my kids.  I enjoyed the voice, but it was not my favorite.  It just didn't click with me.  I have a problem with youth fiction - sometimes it doesn't feel well-developed to me.
The Alchemist - Paul Coehlo - Ugh.  This felt like a contrivance.  It is a parable, and I realize there is a measure of contriving happening in such tales, but this one did not reach me.  I don't even remember much about it - a shepherd is in it - because I didn't like it.  Sorry.
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally - Alisa Smith and JB McKinnon - The title says it all.  There were a couple swears if I call recall correctly.  I enjoyed this book, and was sad when it ended.  They REALLY followed their rules, but they were lucky enough to live in a plant and meat fertile area.  Not to say they weren't a bit hungry and testy with each other... Very human.
The Flame Trees of Thika - Elspeth Huxley - a memoir of a young woman's life in the early 1900s in Africa... also a movie starring Hayley Mills as a grown-up...
Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser - a expose on the fast food industry, us, and options.  I may be coining it a "classic" early, but I think it has such merit.  My kids have read this book in the youth version Chew On This by the same author.  It changed me. 
Coming to Colorado - Wolfgang WE Samuel - a memoir written by a man who was a German refugee as a child during WWII.  He came to Colorado and grew up in Aurora.  He became a pilot for the United States.  I enjoyed this perspective.  I read a lot of WWII/Holocaust stories and this one was unique to me because it told the middle of the story.  I also enjoyed the Colorado tidbits!

This period was obviously one in which I focused on food, Africa, and memoirs.  Huh.

What do you like to read?  Do you read only fiction?  Nonfiction?


According the to second edition of Blogging For Dummies I am amiss in blogger etiquette:  I am not "transparent".

I am not telling you the truth.

My real name is not "Frankie".  It never has been, and while I wish it would become so, I will not change it.  Having said that, I am not writing as an alter-ego.  I am me.  My opinions, comments, and words are all mine.  Those really are my kids in the photos.  And those were real trout eyeballs on my son's hand.  I really do read these books.  And I really do drink Celestial Seasonings tea (Bengal Spice is my fav) but I have received absolutely nothing from that company for saying so... (wish I did though - coupons would be nice?)

Not sure if I covered all my bases...  that's all that jumped out of the book as I was flipping through.  I will read it though and fix other mistakes as I learn of them...

Or you could tell me... nicely, of course. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

...and so it begins...

I turned 30 a few years ago and I realized I couldn't remember whether I had read certain books, or if I had merely begun them and moved on... or if I had only thoght it sounded like a good book.  Going to the library or book/thrift store got to be hard.

I decided to begin cataloging the books I had read.  I put a piece of notepaper on the fridge, higher than sticker fingers or kitty's paws.  I scrawled "BOOKS I'VE READ" across the top and began on January 1, 2007.  I wrote the name of the book, and the name of the author.  At some point I also decided to write a blurb about the book beside these other notations.  I've read books - clearly remember reading them - but have no recollection as to what was between the cover.  The blurbs have helped!

Clean books?  What does that mean to Frankie?  Well, I like to think in terms of old B&W films...  when Cary Grant picks up the leading lady and carries her to the bedroom, he kicks the door shut behind him.  What happens after that is between Cary and his lady.  I don't like sex scenes.  I don't mind love, or romantic notions, but intimacy is so private and personal - even to characters in a book.  I want to respect their privacy as I feel the author should.  Having said that, I don't mind a few swears.  Doesn't bother me, but I know it bothers others.  I will warn, I promise. 

I read a lot of genres.  I have a hard time with fantasy and talking animals.  I read to learn more about me, the world, my children, my faith...  I expect a book to change me.  I want to grow.  Art has a purpose - and the purpose I find in books is a challenge to become a better ME.

Still working on how to organize my thoughts, but as it is summer and I don't have a lot of time to review as deeply as I'd like (maybe in the fall?) I'll start sharing the titles and blurbs of books I've read since turning 30... I've got four years to share so it should take a few posts!  :-)

Good Old Days in the Kitchen - Tate (sorry, I didn't write the first name!) - cookbook
Eve and the Mortal Journey - Beverly Campbell - an LDS view of Eve's role
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston - modern day classic novel about the strength of a woman in the South
BYU Speeches 1991 - 1992 - various authors on LDS themes
The Manual of Practical Homesteading - John Vivian - Mr. Vivian (I think from Mother Earth News fame) shares his practical knowledge of creating a homestead from his experiences with his little family.  Good goat butchering segments :-)
Note to self - still hate Hemingway... (I must have tried one and gave myself permission!)
Arctic Homestead - Norma  Cobb - memoir of the last homesteader in the United States...  I absolutely loved this story.  It reads well and the family's misadventures are exciting.  I reread this one often - I finally broke down and bought a copy b/c the library wouldn't lend me their copy anymore- it was held together with rubber bands!  Fun read for a woman who loves a "manly" man.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver - memoir-like account of a writer and her professor husband as they eat locally for a year.  Very good.  I've reread parts of it.  I reexamined my food choices after reading this, The Jungle, and Omnivore's Dilemna.
The Homecoming - Earl Hamner, Jr - The Walton's Christmas story - one my all-time favs.
Leaving Mother Lake - Yang Erche Namu - fascinating true tale of a young Mongolian singer leaving her homeland.
Ranch on the Laramie - Ted Olsen - a memoir...  I don't remember much about it :-)  Nice quiet read?

Enough for now...