Reading: Never Gone by Laurel Garver, Sketches from the Spanish Mustang by Benjamin X. Wretlind, Endlessly by Kiersten White, The Holy Bible (ASV) Galatians, Lying by Sam Harris, The Giant Book of Poetry edited by William H. Roetzheim, The Gnostic Bible edited by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer
Listening: Chirping crickets, rustling trees, computers buzzing, children laughing, dishes dropping on the floor, water running, silence
Eating: Raisin Bran, Wheat Rolls, Bananas in Orange Juice, Popeyes Mashed Potatoes and Biscuits
Browsing: Feminist Mormon Housewives, Liberal Christians, Poetry Pact, Mormon Expressions, New Order Mormon Board, Goodreads, Stake President Paternoster’s blog
Reading: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, Start Where You Are by Pema Chondron and A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle which I am reading with my kids. I just finished reading The Paris Wife by Paula McClain which triggered my recent obsession with both Ernest and Hadley Hemingway. I find them equally intriguing. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone I read over the course of the last six months in preparation for our move to Italy. I recommend it for anyone interested in Renaissance or Italian Culture as well as art enthusiasts. I also recently finished The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. We also recently discovered a free iBook on iTunes called The Beatles Yellow Submarine. It’s a trippy, interactive, animated story book that we are all enjoying over and over and over again.
Watching: We recently lost our Netlflix membership when we moved overseas. It is one of the things I lament the most. But before we left I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary which turned my cooking life upside down. I’m still trying to get my bearings.
Listening: Endless rotations of current Pop Music on Pandora have inspired family dance parties on our houseboat on a lake in Northern California this summer. I have decided to openly admit, claim and accept the fact that a good Pop Song has the ability to really elevate my mood. OnBeing favorites of late: “The Far Shore of Aging” with Jane Gross, “The Inner Landscape of Beauty” with John O’Donahue and “Remembering God” with poet Christian Wiman.
Eating: Eggplant gnocchi smothered in a most delicious spicy tomato sauce, gelato direct from the ice cream gods and arugula, lots and lots of perfectly peppery arugula.
Reading:I blame the NYT Sunday Book Review for my promiscuous reading habits. I was just about to fall in love with and read How to Sharpen Pencils, by David Rees, based on its review, until I started reading the review of Jeffrey Skinner’s, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets, which caught my eye, but while flirting with this book review I came across Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, by David Orr, noted by the reviewer, and that’s what I finally decided I’m taking to bed at night on my Kindle.
The Secret Power of Middle Children (Catherine Salmon & Katrin Schumann) – Super interesting read about birth order. Probably particularly interesting if you are a middle child or if you have a middle child.
Happy Accidents – Jane Lynch’s memoir. Such a beautiful, beautiful read. I actually listened to this one. She describes coming out to her parents—a very traditional working class couple from the Midwest. That was my favorite part—lots to think about as a parent, anticipating that your children may not (correction = will not) be and do everything the way you might have anticipated they would! Lynch reads it herself and is so funny. I definitely recommend the audio book if you decide to read this one.
Extremely loud and incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I had a hard time getting into this book. It moves between several story lines and narrators and is a bit hard to follow, which I’m sure it intentional as it serves a purpose in the story. But once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. And even now, I kinda can’t get the book out of my head. The protagonist in the story reminded me of my little Stuart in many ways. It’s also the first piece of fiction I’ve read where pictures and color played a prominent part. I’d like to ask Foer how he went about choosing which pictures to include in the book. Very interesting. I rented the movie after reading the book. The book is always better than the movie for me, but I enjoyed this movie as well.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Wow. I also could not put this book down. I insisted that Brent read it, and he started reading it, but then could not finish it. There is one very difficult scene that he just could not get past. I am actually anxious to hear from other people who have read it. I want to know what you think. And if you haven’t, put it on your list.
It gets better, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. This is one of the most inspiring, uplifting things I’ve read in a long time. These are essays compiled by the It Gets Better video project. Most of the pieces were written by LGBTQ people telling adolescents/young adults to hang in there—it gets better! But some are written by straight allies. Some essays are from famous people and some are not. I actually discovered essays by one of my (virtual) Mormon friends and an essay written by the son of a former co-worker. So awesome! I love that these two saw an urgent need and put their noses to the grindstone and did something about it!
Watching: We love to go to the movies, but have been very disappointed by the summer movies so far. We recently saw Bernie since the whole Bernie incident took place in a small town about a half hour away from where we live. The movie is weird because the story is real and some of the people in the movie are actually from Carthage, Texas, but then you keep catching yourself remembering that it’s a movie. Our family decided that we would make Modern Family our summer TV show. We started in Season 1 and have been watching all the episodes. It has been so much fun. Marin and Stuart have especially liked it. Marin quotes lines from it all the time. That girl has a mind like a steep trap.
Listening: I’m not a huge music junkie. I pretty much only listen to music when I run and I haven’t changed my “running playlist” in months. I do listen to podcasts. Recently, I have enjoyed the following episodes of Mormon Matters and Mormon Stories: Episode 87-88: Pacific Island Mormon Identities. This was seriously one of the most interesting 90 minutes I have spent in a long time. Absolutely fascinating discussion. Don’t miss it! Episode 350-352: Dance Champion Benji Schwimmer. Loved this.
Eating: Too much! What am I really enjoying: fresh cherries and nectarines. Frozen yogurt. Diet Dr. Pepper consumed in massive quantities. It helps keep me sane during a(nother) hellish summer.
Browsing:Cool new blog put together by some young(er) Mormon feminists. They seem like a great group!Interesting website by blogger Rachel Held Evans that I’ve seen linked on various people’s Facebook pages. She seems to be an evangelical Christian, so that’s not ordinarily a page I would frequent, but all of her stuff feels so fair and beautiful and ecumenical and loving. Here are a few of my favorite posts: They Were Right (And Wrong) About the Slippery Slope, her thoughts about the Chick-Fil-A debate and 15 Reasons I Returned to Church.
Reading: I just finished Middlemarch by George Eliot. It’s one of those books beloved by many writers I love that I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile. And boy does it deserve it’s reputation as “glorious” (Emily Dickinson) and as a “novel for grown-ups” (Virginia Woolf). It was slow-going at first, some might blame the chatty omniscient narrator, but (and this will make me sound like a Franzen-style crumudgeon) I think I was out of the habit of reading anything that can’t be digested in tiny, iPhone screen size bites. Middlemarch required footnotes and a dictionary, but once I got into the swing of things, I was absolutely smitten. It’s a hugely complex novel taking in an astonishing array of characters, politics and social hierarchies. Each character was given tremendous depth and the social commentary was sharp, wise and so funny– imagine Tolstoy and Austen at their best combined. One more thing — I liked the much-maligned narrator. I’ve read so many modern and postmodern novels in the last ten years that they are all starting to feel like much of the same, Eliot’s narrator seemed surprisingly fresh to me and I came to love reading it with her insight and humor as a guide.
Before that, I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed of Dear Sugar fame. My love for Dear Sugar has been so fervent that I was wary of being disappointed by Wild, a memoir about Strayed’s solo trek up the Pacific Crest Trail, but I had nothing to fear. Lyrical prose, keen insight, a tremendous sense of humor, an insightful look into the complexity of human relationships, solitude, ruin, great love, a heroic feat — Wild has it all, I cannot recommend it enough. Next up: A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, a promising book club selection that I would probably be enjoying even more if Middlemarch wasn’t still reverberating through my head. I’ll return and report.
Watching: The Olympics! I was feeling very ho-hum about the Olympics (I gave up after a few half-hearted attempts to get tickets), but from the moment I watched Danny Boyle’s crazy-ass morality play about industrialization and tribute to the NHS, I was riveted. It has been even more fun to root for two countries.
The kids and husband are on school holiday and so we’ve been watching a lot together — we had a Harry Potter marathon, we’re making our way through the BBC’s stunning Frozen Planet and last night we introduced the kids to Miyazaki’s gorgeous Spirited Away.
Listening: A Tribe Called Quest, neglected Bowie albums (it is far too easy to spend your whole life only listening to Ziggy Stardust and Low), I’m into Pin-Ups at the moment and Le Tigre, particularly Feminist Sweepstakes — it’s punk rock for people with mortgages. Listening to Le Tigre makes me fantasize about hanging out with Kathleen Hanna and Carrie Brownstein and talking about politics, feminism and the best shades of red lipstick.
Eating: My husband got a Thai cookbook from the library this month and so loads of Thai food, most of it delicious.
Browsing: I’m walking in a marathon next month and so I’ve been reading loads about training schedules (turns out you should have 16 weeks, not 6) and how to nurse battered feet.
And there’s even more! Watch for Staff Stacks Part 2 next week.