Let’s Have a Catch Up


I write blog posts in my head. Shoot, I write series of blog posts in my head. (One imaginary series is entitled A Walk to Remember, with photo highlights and musings from different locations and walking partners.) But still, the blog stays silent.

Today, I’m going to interview myself. Maybe if I can clear out my mental debris the ‘flow’ will return.

Who are you? The big project of the last five months is to reinvent myself. {laugh track} When I wake up in the morning, I typically anticipate that day’s reading, be it audio, Kindle, or print. I can plant my bottom and sit; sit through noon, sit until the moon is high in the midnight sky. I also love two-hour phone calls with my siblings (while sitting) or copying quotes into my journal. Or playing the piano (sitting down). Or entering every receipt into Quicken.

It’s all rather boring. Unless you’re me. Then it’s a delight.

But I long to be able to consider myself an outdoor woman without smirking. The kind whose face lights up when someone suggests a hike. A person who thinks there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.  Let’s be kind and say this is a work in progress.

What’s not working? Photography, for one. I’m in an in-between space: shooting raw photos, but not editing them. Meanwhile the backlog grows. Wanting to improve, but not putting the time in or buying the software. Frustrated by my lack of discipline to learn a new skill.

Um, OK. Is anything working?  Yes! There is one hack I’ve discovered. Ditch the snooze alarm. I started walking with some friends in September. My alarm goes off eleven minutes before I leave the house. When the choice to keep sleeping is removed, one gets out of bed. It’s truly been a life changer.


Anything new?  Yep. The day after I received this wooden sign, a deer ran into my car. Where I live, sadly, it’s so common that people start yawning when you mention it. The deer didn’t stick around, so I don’t know the extent of its injuries.  I am grateful that the only damage sustained by me was to my car. Cars can be fixed.

What surprises you?  When I was a student, science was my least favorite subject. Suddenly, I’m studying science! Neuroplasticity, metabolic issues, hormones, biometrics. Weird.

What are you reading?  Much on nutrition by Jason Fung, Gary Taubes, David Perlmutter, and Nina Teicholz. I always have a C.S. Lewis book going, but found that some of his earlier books are rough sledding. Reading classics along with the Close Reads Podcast is fantastic. Most recently, we read Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory.  And for comfort and joy I’ve been residing in Mitford with Jan Karon and in Thrush Green with Miss Read. My goal is to read through the Bible yearly. This year I chose the Living Bible that my dad gave me when I was 15. (It looks just like the one in the link.) Reading notes my teenaged-self wrote has been interesting and the vernacular in this paraphrase is fresh.

What about music?  So the neatest thing happened. OPB, our public radio station, gave our library heaps of CDs they had culled from their collection. Our library sold them for a quarter each. I brought heaps of them home. I’m listening to all kinds of music. Some go straight to the thrift store. But I’ve found several gems. It’s cheap entertainment!

I thought this was going to be quick.  I get the hint. Later, readers!




Marketing 101

A local farmer sells meat to private buyers.  This farmer, trained in the Puddle Glum School of Marketing, calls my friend and says, “I don’t suppose you want to buy a ______ (insert animal).”  I understand that farmer.  I lasted three days selling Amway.   

I prefer to use the word marketing in the sense of active purchasing of goods.  Marketing implies a plan and a purpose; get in, get out, get the job done.  It is the opposite of shopping, which evokes mindless wandering around a mall just for the joy of listening to toddlers scream and — and — hanging out

But this post is about the kind of marketing that sells ideas.  Because I want to persuade you to spend your money in a way that helps others. 

If you buy stuff from Amazon.com you ought to consider each purchase as an opportunity to boost a blogger.  Did you know that you could be a blessing?  All you have to do, regardless of what you are buying, is enter through a certain link on a blog. 

Can I show you what I mean? 

Go visit my friend Di.   Over on the right hand column under Current List are images.  Move your mouse over the camera (or the CD cover or the book) and look at the bottom of the page at the web address for that Amazon item.  Do you see at the far right of the address acircleofquiet-20?  That means that Di is an Amazon Associate and she will get a tiny, tiny percentage of your order.  And you pay the same amount you would normally pay to purchase a neato-cool thingamagig at Amazon. 

“Never underestimate the power of the infinitesimals”
declared Thomas Chalmers, a mathematician and theologian
who convinced the poor people of Glasgow to save a pence a week
and built schools and churches with the money collected. 

Some bloggers are straight up and ask people to buy through them.  Other shy folk post links and hope something comes of it.  If you know what to look for (you are looking for a tag that contains or ends with a name, usually the name of the blog, followed by -20)  you can be sure that every time you buy something from Amazon, you help out a friend.  Another tidbit – an Associate’s own purchases don’t count towards the tiny, tiny percentage.   My policy is to help someone else each time I make a purchase.

Here are bloggers I read who would appreciate a boost from you:

I am very excited about my most recent purchase at Amazon, ESV Literary Study Bible. I pre-ordered the leather bound edition which is due to be shipped to me March 3.   Salivating, that’s what I’m doing.  And, if you have bought things through my links in the past, I do thank you.  Thank you very much.

25 Random Things About Me

Speaking of insomnia…this post just wrote itself last night.  Updated 6-21-11

1. I really enjoy reading random things about my friends. The more random, the more enjoyable. I still do!

2. I chafe at the punctuation rule requiring end marks to be inside the closing quote WHEN the quote is just a section of the sentence. Sometimes I even break the rule, ON PURPOSE.

3. I am weaning myself of a bizarre comfort food: non-instant powdered milk eaten with a spoon. When I was a child we had piles of government surplus boxes around and one day I was hungry. It helped me give it up when I learned that it contains oxidized cholesterol. Never mind that it sticks in your teeth and is plain gross from any spectator’s POV.  This is a closed chapter in my life.

4. I have an athletic past: I played goalie on a field hockey team in the fifth and sixth grades. I communicated this TBOI (tasty bit of information) to my husband and his folks on New Year’s Day. My mother-in-law referred to me as a musician, not an athlete. “Hey!” I protested, “I played field hockey.” (Besides, one (musician) does not preclude the other (athlete).) My mother-in-law had never *heard* of field hockey. When the USC infomercial played during the Rose Bowl, there was a shot of a field hockey team. Vindication, Baby!

5. I had one date (but played music for a year) with a man who composed many of the choruses in the Maranatha Praise Book. When my sons (10 and 12 year-old athletes at the time) discovered this they were Horrified! “Mom, if you had married this guy, we would be playing the piano instead of playing baseball/soccer!!” (One does not preclude the other.)

6. My husband and one daughter-in-law share an antipathy to FaceBook. He calls it FacePlant. He still does!

7. I hate when I *adore* a movie and my husband decidedly doesn’t. Vitus and 84, Charing Cross Road come to mind.  I persuaded him to enjoy Lark Rise to Candleford.

8. I must have a latent love of homogeneity because I am surprised (and a wee bit distressed) when someone with whom I consider myself 92% compatible, has an opposite reaction to a book I liked. I can be malleable, though. I’m usually the one who changes my opinion. Not always.

9. My favorite thing to do when the guys watch movies beyond my ken is to read the archives of a blog I recently discovered and like. Yep.

10. I am astonished at the level of passionate disagreement that can arise between my four-year old grandson and me. We both hold fast to our fierce opinions; neither gives an inch. Fast forward ten years and then what?  We agree not to discuss Spiderman and get along fine now.

11. I cannot foresee a day where I am comfortably confident in the usage of lay/lie, affect/effect, and that/which. Not to mention em dashes and en dashes. Making progress—in more ways than one—on the em dash. Nat, a young friend of mine, taught me that Alt + 0151 = em dash. Yay!

12. I laugh at what I call over-correction: when someone uses “and I” in the objective case. Ex: Hard times are headed down the road for you and I. It ought to be “you and me.” (See #2)

13. The idea of gardening is quite appealing to me. The idea. When it comes down to it, I would much rather read than weed.  Audio books make both possible.

14. I can avoid shopping better than anyone I know. (Exception: bookstores, office supply stores, Costco and Trader Joe’s–all of which are at least three hours away)

15. It is my goal to be at every niece and nephew’s wedding. I missed one because he eloped. He. Eloped. When is the last time you heard of someone eloping?

16. When we went to a church where most people didn’t drink alcohol, I used to construct cereal box fortresses in my shopping cart to hide the beer I was buying for my husband.

17. I have no fashion sense. I attract friends who like to “makeover” me. I don’t mind, but nothing ever really sticks.

18. When the men are huddled together talking theology and the women are discussing potty training, I’d rather be with the men.

19. A ClustrMap is on my blog because I adore the international dots. I have two semi-regular commenters from foreign countries for whom English is a second language.

20. I collect songs I want played or sung at my funeral. This is a vital part of who I am. #1 Funeral Song is For All the Saints. It’s still something I think about at least once a week.

21. I sing and sway in the car, even at stoplights. I sing in the bathroom, using my hairbrush as a microphone. I conduct the orchestra when I’m taking a walk, usually 4/4 time. I also read while I blow dry my hair.

22. My favorite thing to do with my oldest grandson is to lie (see #11 – I had to look it up) on the kitchen floor and sing made-up songs with gusto. Not so much anymore. My second favorite thing is to read him books. Favorite thing to do with a different grandson is to watch hunting videos, something I refused to do with my sons.

23. My fantasies: to have read all the excellent books on my shelf; to play the piano beyond “pretty good”; to run 5 kilometers; to have all my photos organized; to have someone do my hair every day; to let others talk…naturally; for self-control to be the default.

24. Competitiveness comes and goes. I can laugh at losing or I can be an intensely disappointed loser. The other option is just to beat the sucker I’m playing. Ayup.

25. Likewise, I alternate between agitation and resignation relative to order/disorder issues.

As If I Have Nothing To Do

my, cough cough, dryer lint collection

I’m having a hard time…focusing.
Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Wrapping presents.
Two daughters-in-law going into labor any time now.
One induction was postponed until tomorrow.
Praying one baby doesn’t come during the typhoon predicted in Seattle.

And there are major life questions to ponder…
Do you or do you not collect dryer lint?
I didn’t.
A friend said that it makes great fire starters.

You use three leftovers.
Using leftovers makes my world rock.
Dryer lint.
Old candles.
Used egg cartons.

Redemption.  Recovery.
A beautiful thing.

Socks, Anyone?

“The U.S. Army is especially interested in socks.  Troops suffer horrendous blister problems from their months of marching and training in boots.  In recent years, the problem got so bad that the army commissioned studies comparing their traditional cotton/wool socks with acrylic and CoolMax socks.  The results showed such a reduction in blisters from the synthetic socks that the army has now switched.”

~ Leslie Sansone in Walk Away the Pounds

I’ve always considered quality socks a good gift.  For others…  I tend to go cheap with my socks and shoes.  My husband has preached the gospel of good shoes for years.  I’m ready to begin my repentance with socks.

Were you surprised to see that synthetic beat cotton and wool in the above paragraph?

I’m very curious now and eager to learn more about socks.

Any thoughts? 

Something New

I took my own bags to the grocery store today.  I have a ginormous IKEA bag made out of the blue tarp material. 

When I was in Maine, I was impressed that the majority of shoppers brought their own bags. “I could do this,” I thought. I don’t like waste anymore than the next person, and those flimsy plastic bags often don’t even make it home unbroken.

The key, I’ve learned, is keeping the bags in the car. 

I actually felt shy about giving the checker my bag; I needed to explain that this was something new for me.  “Cool!” was her response.  Perhaps the next time I can just smile and hand the checker my bag. 

Can You Cut Up A Chicken?

Another getting to know you post.

While I was in Maine our small town/small university hosted Joel Salatin as keynote speaker of the Oregon Rural Action Annual Convention.  Several friends went and I’m soaking up their reactions.  Katie, an honorary member of our family, typed up her notes and sent them to me. 

This bit grabbed me:

50 years ago, all the mothers knew how to cut up a chicken —
now 50% of them don’t know that chickens have BONES!

It took me back to an afternoon (I was probably 11 or 12) when my father patiently taught me how to cut up a chicken. Sharp knife and all.  I remember having to feel for the joints between the leg and body and the joints between the thigh and drumstick.  The hardest part to master, as I remember, was cutting down the middle to divide the back from the breast.  You had to honk down kind of hard to cut through the bone.


Who knows how to cut up a chicken? (I have to admit, none of my children learned from me since we started eating boneless breasts.)  Note to myself: teach youngest son how to cut up a chicken.

How did you learn? 

Any stories out there?

Do tell!


No Dancing in Waltzing Matilda

File this under: “You Learn Something New Every Day.” 

I’m catching up on People and Places itching to get out of the “A” countries and into the “Bs”.  But the section on Australia is HUGE.

And next thing you know, I’m disabused of the notion that Waltzing Matilda is a nice woman on the outback.  Oh no! A waltzing matilda is an Australian hobo. 


A matilda is a blanket roll; to waltz matilda is to tramp the roads. 

The who knew? questions burns in my brain.  Tell me truly, did y’all know this already?