Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Book Tag
My dear husband from Burr in the Burgh tagged me to respond to this:

1. Total number of books you own?

Hmm...that's a tough one. We have lots and lots of books in almost every room of the house, plus many that we don't have room for. We use the library A LOT.

2. What is the last book(s) you bought?

I bought a couple of books for my son last week at our PTA's Scholastic book fair, which I chaired. One cool book was "How Big is it," a children's book comparing the relative size of things. I was amazed to see how enormous St. Peter's basilica in Rome is compared to the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The pyramid is only a little taller and wider.

3. What was the last book you read?

I just finished "Headlong" by Michael Frayn. The theme was so Hamlet--the protagonist's worst qualities in the end defeat him. But it was hilarious. The protagonist, Martin, and his wife are art historians and in the course of the story Martin thinks he's discovered a long-lost painting of Pieter Bruegel. It was a pretty good escape novel, but had extended sections of art history, which was hard to get through.

4. List 5 books that are particularly meaningful to you (in no particular order):

1 & 2 - Of course, the Bible and Luther's Small Catechism, ditto for the Book of Concord.
3 - anything by Jane Austen, Shakespeare or Dickens (okay, I know that's more than one book, but still)
4 - Julia Cameron's The Right to Write - which has helped me keep on writing.

Now I'm off to write my own book...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Writers' Almanac
Look here for the link to Garrison Keillor's daily five-minute inspiration for writers. Well, maybe not exactly inspiration, but listening to the broadcast almost always inspires me to keep writing. Each day, he chooses three or four authors, usually because that's their birthday, and describes their lives, their struggles, how they made money when writing didn't make them rich. Then he finishes with one poem for the day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Band of Brothers
If you haven't seen the HBO series, "Band of Brothers," I recommend it. It's about the 101st airbourne division, Easy Company in WWII. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced it. The acting, the script, the cinematography, everything is great. I've been watching that off and on for a couple of weeks, and I saw some of the (fairly bad) movie last weekend, "Pearl Harbor." Compared to the complexities of the war on terror, the motivation for the US entering WWII was straightforward. Isn't it interesting, though, that around 3,000 seamen were killed in Pearl Harbor, which prompted the US to declare a state of war, and that's around the same number that were killed on 9/11? But totally different circumstances. Civilians, not soldiers died in 2001. Here's a link to the History Channel that has some pretty interesting footage from WWII.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cool website
Look here to see how creative people are. For every minute of the day, this website shows people all over the world telling the time. You can submit your own pictures. Click on "view the clock" to see the time. It's cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Don't get stuck on stupid - awesome quote for the day
I heard this great soundbite from General Honore, the John-Wayne dude in charge of cleaning up after Katrina. Yesterday, he was in a press conference talking about the new storm, Rita, and telling reporters to move on from placing blame for Katrina. He told them not to get stuck in the past storm, but to move ahead and figure out what to do about Rita.

Then, some reporter ignored completely what he just said, and asked again about what went wrong with Katrina, blah, blah, blah. General Honore responded, "You're getting stuck on stupid. Next question."

I love that guy. I can't find anything written about that press conference on the Internet, but I heard it with my own ears. Anyway, here's more about him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tolkein biography
I just finished a biography of J.R.R. Tolkein by Doris Lynch. This is actually a book for young adults. I really enjoy reading biographies and memoirs, and sometimes the YA versions of biographies are just long enough for me. Some interesting notes:

-It took Tolkein 17 years to complete The Lord of the Rings trilogy (which makes me feel better when I stall on writing projects)

- He invented all sorts of languages

- He worked on the Oxford English Dictionary, considered THE best dictionary of the English
language (published first in the 1920s, I believe). He was once questioned by someone about the spelling or definition of a word. He was someone who could truly say, "Hey--I wrote the dictionary; don't question me on that!"

-His favorite language was Welsh, what he considered to be the most beautiful sounding language.

What a legacy he left behind. Not only did he give the world a wonderful epic and fantasy world; he also was beloved by his children, who considered him not only a wonderful father, but a treasured friend. Truly, a wonderful life.

Here's the link to the book on Amazon. Here's a link to more info on him.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Writer Everyone Should Read
David Petersen at cyberstones reminded me of one of my favorite writers, Frederica Matthewes-Green. I've read three or four of her books. I recommend Real Choices in particular because she faces the real challenges women in crisis pregnancy situations find themselves and how pro-lifers can best help. Her writing is insightful, profound, and often, beautiful. Find her here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Question for the Day
Why is it that reading mystery novels is so satisfying? Because life is never neatly wrapped up like the endings of most novels?
Quote for the Day
"Every street had a story, every building a memory...."
-from The Summons by John Grisham, about his protagonist's thoughts on his hometown.

When I return to my hometown of Denver, it is always interesting to visit the grocery store where my mom shopped as I grew up, go on walks around the neighborhood of my childhood. I've lived away from my childhood home since I was 18. It's hard for me to imagine never moving from where I was born. Funny how things like that sort of define who you become.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Refugee, Part 3
Crumbunnies! I knew my first attempt at linking to something would be stymied. The article I linked to yesterday was from the Chicago Tribune, but apparently, you have to be registered to be able to read it.

Anyhoo, the gist of it is some feel "labeled" (in the negative use of the term) by being called refugee because this often refers to someone from a developing nation who is ousted from their home because of their government. They felt this was a slur.

Here's the ending:
"The definition of "refugee" is someone who has fled his home, seeking help from another government, so it's appropriate in this case, said Marissa Graciosa, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

She said the word typically isn't considered an insult."The spirit of the word reflects on all of us," she said. "It tells us that we are obligated to take care of these people."

Well said, eh?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Refugee, Part 2
A few days ago, I posted about Jesus being a refugee. The term, "refugee" was on my mind because of the controversy over use of the term with regard to those who were affected by the floods in New Orleans. Are they evacuees? Refugees?

I looked up the definition, and a refugee is someone who is displaced from their home because of war or natural disaster. I couldn't really figure out why someone would be offended by the use of it. Read here for some insight.

The ending is good.

Wish for the Day
I wish my cat, Sophie, would not constantly sprawl out all over my desk every single second I am working.

(But then again, if she weren't here, I'd probably feel neglected.)
Today's rhymes
As the saga unfolds... I'm writing a Christmas narrative, so that's why polyurethane foam didn't work out so hot for the "home" rhymes. Neither did chrome.

But check this out. I was thinking about "own" and what rhymes with it. Rhymezone came up with 9 syllables: capital of sierra leone. Silly rhymezone. But then I did find "atone," "throne," and "alone." Now those are usable.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My 100-page rule
Another thought to live by: whenever I start a new book, I read at least 100 pages. If after that many pages, the author still has not convinced me to keep reading, I give it up without regret. But here's an example of a book that grabbed me from the very first page.

I was choosing between three novels last Saturday night. Which to read next? I started A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher. Here is a quote from the first page:

"So we see that sorrow may be good or bad according to the several results it produces in us. And indeed there are more bad than good results arising from it, for the only good ones are mercy and repentence; whereas there are six evil results, namely anguish, sloth, indignation, jealousy, envy, and impatience" -St. Francis De Sales "On Sadness and Sorrow"

Isn't that something to ponder?

The good results of sorrow? mercy and repentance
The bad? anguish, sloth, indignation, jealousy, envy, impatience.

I have no idea who St. Francis De Sales is, but I think this is a pretty interesting insight about sorrow and suffering.

So is Romans 5:1-5.
Rhymes to Live by
Thanks to all of you for your great (and funny) comments on my rhyming quandries. Sometimes writing rhyming poetry can be a real pain. Other times, it's great fun. The best rhyming poetry is that which flows smoothly and naturally. That's tricky. But somehow, when I re-read my writing, I'm much more satisfied by something that is written in verse than in prose. It's sometimes the struggle to make it come out just right that makes me enjoy it more in the end.
Question of the Day
Why do cats sleep so much? (Sometimes, I envy them.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Jesus, the Refugee
So, I've been thinking about the "flight to Egypt," that somewhat mysterious time in Jesus' life when Mary and Joseph took Him to Egypt to escape the death sentence of King Herod (Matt. 2:13-15). I say "mysterious" because these two verses in Matthew are all we know about it. I tried to measure how far it is from Bethlehem to Egypt on a map, and it was (at my very rough estimate) at least 600 miles or so. Jesus, through whom the world was created, had no home, was born in a stable, and was a refugee even as a small child. Kind of wild to think about when I realize how attached I am to this little piece of earth I call home.
Wish of the Day:
I wish baked potatoes didn't take so long to bake. Ergh.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Question of the Day
Why do crickets only chirp at night?
Wish of the Day:
Today, I wish more words rhymed with home. My best options in the poem I'm working on now (ha! there's one, sort of) are roam and comb. And neither of them are great.

Go here for a great rhyming website. It brought up (under6 syllables) polyurethane foam.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wish for the day:
I wish I knew how to make tandoori chicken and really good lamb curry.
Question of the Day:
Why does chai taste so good? Is it the cloves?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Question of the day:

What's the best Mexican restaurant in Pittsburgh?
No question. Taco Loco on the South Side. Authentic. Yummy.
Wish for the day:

I wish more things rhymed with moon.
Welcome to Jottings and Such!

I'm feeling privileged today that I can actually sit here and write most of the day, now that school's back in session. How great is that? I write children's books primarily, but also have written in magazines and had the occasional newspaper piece published too. Right now I'm working on a long poem, a chapter book (ugh, not going well), and several other projects.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005