Dec 22, 2014

Knitting for Peace, A Review



In her book, Knitting for Peace, Betty Christiansen shares charities and history of charitible knitting through the centuries.  There are sections about specific kinds of knitting for peace.  

I especially liked the section on knitting for children and the highlight of Afghans for Afghans.  There's also patterns for various items needed by people and animals the world over.  I liked the sweater patterns for the children and the hats for the children.  

A Maine company, Peace Fleece, was highlighted as they produce yarn that is a combination of fibers from Russia and the United States.  They also shared their basic socks pattern.  I made these socks a while ago out of Peace Fleece wool and unfortunately found out the result of using machines to wash and dry 100% wool.  My young niece received thick boot socks/slippers that Christmas. :)

I received my copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  I always provide a valid review of the book in question.  For the eversion of this book, which is what I was reviewing, I gave it 5 stars.


Nov 17, 2014

Bullet Journal


The above video is a handy introduction to the BulletJournal.com system of organizing your days and tasks.

Basically there are three types of data to enter, tasks, events and notes.  Tasks are signified by an open check box.  As a task is completed, the check box gets checked.  Events are signified by an open circle.  Events are appointments and dates that you want to remember.  Events can include food journals, chronic illness tracking and other such things.  Notes are signified by closed dots/circles.  Notes are things that you want to remember, but are not tasks or events.  These three types of data are fairly easy to keep track of.

What happens if plans change?  Then you place a right arrow through the open box or circle indicating that the task or event has been postponed.  If a task or event becomes obsolete, just cross it off the list for that day.  There you have it for those unexpected life happenings.

How do I know if something is important or I want to find out more about it?  For important things, I use an exclamation point in the margin next to the signifier for that data point.  For things I want to investigate, I sketch an eye in the margin to show that I want to look up info about "x".  But, how do I know what the various symbols mean?

I have an index page in the front of my journal.  There is also a key/legend page opposite the beginning of the index.  The legend page is where I have all the signifiers and their associated meanings.  The index page is a listing of what kind of data is on pages such and such.  I have a few blank pages after the first index page before the beginning of my first calendar pages.

On a fresh spread, I topic each page with the name of the month and year for the current month.  I list the dates down the margin of the left page.  In the margin next to each date, I put the day of the week abbreviations used at my first college.  U=Sunday, M=Monday, T=Tuesday, W=Wednesday, R=Thursday, F=Friday, and A=Saturday.  This way you can use one initial and know exactly what day it is without wonder if the T is Tuesday or Thursday, or the S is Sunday or Saturday.  On that page, I list any appointments in pencil that are not standing appointments.  On the facing page, I list the things I know as of today, that I need to get done for the month, like registering my car in August, rather than December. ;)

On the next page I repeat the calendar, only on this page I plan out the menu for the entire month.  If I have an old calendar handy, I'll look at 11 months ago and copy the menu plan, only tweak it to reflect food changes and taste changes that have happened.  I'd rather not eat the same thing every 9/15, so that's why I go back 11 months.

Anyways, then on the next page, I start my daily pages with the data points that are important for those days.  Most days currently have the following tasks, with intermittent appointments added in as needed.

  • Get ready for the day.
  • Get dog ready for the day.
  • Dishes.
  • Sweep.
  • Knit.
  • Read.
  • Enjoy the day!
So far, I've been doing this for a few weeks and am liking the break from a traditional calendar and having all the data in one linear form.  It fits with my love of paper and is easy to keep up with.  If I miss a few days there's no biggie, and if I only want to include a few things or a lot of things it's easy to accommodate.  I really am liking this new way of journaling my days. :)

Oct 1, 2014

Unstoppable, A Review


Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic is the story of his faith, the faith of his family, and the faith of people who listen to him give a talk.  Nick was born with no limbs.  Doctors recommended that his parents euthanize him to prevent suffering, but they believed God allowed things to happen for a reason, even if it was hard to understand at the moment.  So, he lived, and grew, and became a man.  A man God could use, even without arms and legs, maybe even more so than had he had them.

This is an easy read that kept my interest easily, therefore, I gave it five stars.  I received my copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.

Sep 12, 2014

Meningitis Anniversary


So, it's been 3 years ago today since I walked out of the hospital after contracting bacterial meningitis.  How has my life changed since then?

I still am rather isolated.  Not many folks visit me and I'm still easily tired by too much social interaction.  This is a result of depression and fatigue from the migraines that are the fall out of the meningitis.  I'm in pain a lot of days and try not to let others know since that's not really fun to talk about.  Instead we talk about dealing with symptoms, daily events, current projects, and so on.

I'm more attuned to the spiritual realm.  I see God in others easier than I used to.  I also am open to knowing God in different ways than I had previously believed were valid.  That is part of my ongoing growth as a Catholic, and part of my growth as a child of God.  I have been challenged to pray not just for the victims of various crimes, but also for the perpetrators of crimes too.  Even for those doing horrendous things, they are still able to be children of God, they just haven't realized it yet.

I'm about the same physically, though much less interested in being physical.  The bright noonday sun is too bright for my eyes, so I wear a baseball cap, but that is not enough to protect my eyes from the photophobia.  The lights inside stores are also horrible for my migraines.   I do utilize physical therapy exercises in the morning and evenings, but going for a walk is still unusual.  Doing more than a walk is unheard of, unless I'm on a vacation where there is a swimming pool.

I knit and crochet and spin now almost daily.  These activities were sometimes activities before.  Now, I know I'm doing well emotionally when I'm doing regular crafting.  Though, when I don't craft, that is a good signal that I'm not feeling well.

So, overall, how am I doing now compared to 3 years ago?  I am able to do more for myself than when I immediately had left the hospital.  I may have walked out of the hospital, but it wasn't very fast or very far to the car.  Now, unless I'm in great pain or feeling sick, I can walk pretty good for both distance and speed.  Yet, I'm still not back to where I was pre getting sick.  I'm variously frustrated, sad, angry, and accepting of this difference.

What are your ways of knowing you are in a healthy space?  How has your life changed in the last few years?

Jul 27, 2014

How to choose an online course for the term?

Fall 2014 Courses, Mythgard Institute, Signum University
There's open enrollment for the next term at Signum University already for the Fall 2014 term.  The summer has seemed to speed by this year.  I'm surprised to be thinking about courses again.

There are always three topics for the lecture courses, along with some foreign languages available each term.  This term the lecture courses are on Lewis and Tolkien, Science Fiction, and the Root of Fantasy before Tolkien.

Each course is taught by an expert in that field.  Lewis and Tolkien is taught by Signum's own president, Corey Olsen, of The Tolkien Professor|podcast fame and author of Exploring JRRTolkien's The Hobbit.Science Fiction is taught by the eminent Dr. Amy Sturgis.  And, finally, the Fantasy before Tolkien course is taught by Douglas A. Anderson, editor of The Annotated Hobbit.

With such awesome faculty, narrowing the choice of course down to just one (for my own sanity!) is going to be very hard.  I do like Dr. Olsen's teaching style, but have had a lot of Tolkien lately.  That's also a reason for steering away from Douglas Anderson's course as well, plus the vastness of the readings from Homer to Tolkien covers a large area and I'm a bear of very little brain when the migraines hit.  So, that leads me to looking closely at Dr. Sturgis' course.  I have read the larger works the course will be covering, and just need to read the short stories from the anthologies for the most part, to understand the topic.

I've been reading/listening to audiobooks of the Lord of the Rings and that feels like ancient history.  Whereas, the stories for science fiction will have more of a futuristic feeling, even if set in the past,m at least they are set in the 1800s and not the ages before time.  I'm ready for a more current reading material, and stories to carry me away from reality.  Escapism is one of the themes I expect we will cover in Dr. Sturgis' course, as well as the other.  With these migraines, I need chances to escape and feel like an outsider of the human race at times.

So, that's it for my thinking on how to choose the online course for next term.  What course is most interesting to you?  And, why?

Jul 23, 2014

Wolverine's Daughter .. High Fantasy HiJinks!!



This was a fast, compelling read.  Kelyn faces hardship and grows through some sacrifices, including the death of her mother and the fining of her long lost father, who'd left before she was born.  I read this through in one sitting, only getting up for food and a few other small breaks.  I even stayed up the whole night through.  It was a glorious read.  The scenery descriptions were awesome, as were the characterizations and the plot was continually building towards the climax.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book I received through the Early Reviewers program for LibraryThing.  I gave the book 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes high fantasy with barbarians, witches and quests for destiny!  :)

The Girl Who Almost Died of Love .. Don't Judge It By Its Cover



I didn't expect this to be as boring as it was.  I tried to like it.  I really did, but I just couldn't.  I read through the first two chapters faithfully, then skimmed the rest of the book.  Nothing was satisfying in the characters, their actions, or the drama(?) of the story.  I'm sorry to have requested the book.  The cover is great, but as they say, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."  I received my copy of this book as a part of the Early Reviewers program for LibraryThing and am giving my honest opinion.  I gave it 0.5 stars.

Jul 5, 2014

100 Christian Quotes by 10 Great Christians, A Review


100 Christian Quotes by 10 Great Christians from Pastor Duke Taber was a joy to read.  There are gems from some of Christianity's favorite saints and others from virtually unknown persons, but all are good thought provokers.  The book is just a listing of the collected quotes.  There is no commentary on the quotes and very little biographical information on the authors.  Here are a few of the quotes I loved and highlighted in my version of the book.

"The real test of a saint is not one's willingness to preach the gospel, but one's willingness to do something like washing the disciples' feet -- that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God."  ~ Oswald Chambers

"To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable in you." ~ C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis

"If you board the wrong train, it's no use running along the corridor in the other direction." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon the 'nascent life'.  To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue.  The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent being has been deliberately deprived of his life.  And that is nothing but murder." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer  This one has helped to solidify my views on abortion.

"Secular music belongs to the devil? Does it? Well, if it did I would plunder him for it, for he has no right to a single note of the whole seven.  Every note, and every strain, and every harmony is divine, and belongs to us." ~ General William Booth

"I notice that those who don't believe in uniting with a church or organization.  I notice ya'll use electric lights -- that's organized! If it wasn't, you'd be electrocuted." ~ Aimee Semple McPherson

"Remember something, God never permitted a difficulty to come into our life without also giving us the ability to handle it.  God has provided us with every faculty.  He has given us the power that we need for living victoriously.  It is a fact that everyone of us down deep has what it takes to sucessfully meet whatever life brings." ~ Kathryn Kuhlman

These are just a few of the great quotes in this book.  I gave the book a 4/5 stars.


Jun 25, 2014

Migraine Emergency Toolkit


I carry one of these with me daily.  It takes up a lot of space, but I don't want to not have my needed things with me.  I also almost always have a hat with a brim on to block the florescent or other too bright for me lights.  I'm nearsighted, so I use my regular glasses outside of stores more often and the sunglasses inside stores.  With the hat and glasses, I'm sometimes afraid the store loss prevention staff is going to ask to talk with me.

Another reason for carrying my kit with me is to have all the numbers on me for meds and doses, doctors and offices, and so on.  It makes my mind easy that I can just hand over my list to hospital staff and they can update my meds list if needed.

Since Zofarn, an anti-nausea med, can only be taken once every 8 hours, I also carry peppermint candies.  The Zofran is a melt in the mouth med and tastes of peppermint.  I've also done some checking into medicinal uses of mints and peppermint especially.  Peppermint naturally soothes the stomach.

So, between doses of Zofran, I suck on a peppermint candy.  Also, did you know that chewing hard candies can increase feelings of stress?  And, sucking on the candy, like on a teet or bottle nipple, can be soothing and send relaxation messages to the brain?  Well, they are both true.

Deep breathing while experiencing great pain or intense emotions also sends relaxation messages to your brain, that in turn, send out relaxation chemicals in your blood and so the tension in your body becomes lessened.  I'm trying to do that as I go through therapy to deal with the pain and stress of the changes to my life since 2011, now that I'm moving beyond the frozen survival stage.  I want to thrive, not just survive.


Jun 11, 2014

Always On Guard zzzzzrp!


Second time this week.  I'm at 40 and counting hours with no sleep.  Again. This week. I'm going to need something to knock me out.  I'm getting exhausted.  I don't even know whether to come or go.  I have to always be on guard against triggers.  I hate it.

You know what, they can kiss my fucking ass! I'm tired of my head treating me like a piece of shit.  I don't deserve this.  I am human and am running out of humor and hope in this situation.  Everytime I meet someone new, there's the question, do I tell them now that I'll bail on them at some point because of my stupid head?! EVERY SINGLE TIME!! I have bailed on those I live with too many times to count.  The people at TOPS are lucky I make it to the meetings.  It's a huge effort to go, and I just can't on my own.

Where is God in all of this?
Where is my Comforter?
Why in hell does he forsake me?
I should just die and then the pain would end.

But, that would sadden many people.  People who I love.  I don't want to hurt anyone.  I want to not hurt.  I want to not have to struggle for everything. I don't want to be the model patient who is happy to get her doctor's agreement that, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body."  Stupid Army Guard doctor... who isn't really stupid.  I'm just lashing out.

Money is a struggle.  Food is a struggle.  Health access is a struggle.  Dental care is a joke.  Medicaid doesn't cover dental and Medicare doesn't either, at least not for adults.

I HATE BEING DISABLED.  I WANT OUT OF HERE.

May 28, 2014

I choose to ...



Well, it's a long way off from Invisible Illness Week in September, but seeing as how I just found out about it, I'm sharing about it now.

It's a week for others who have an illness that others don't see to get mutual support and have a sense of community and not having to wonder if the answer to the question, "How are you?" is supposed to be the easy, "Fine, thanks and you?" or the real, "Feel like crap today.  The illness is acting up and I have to accept that I just have to make it through this bit of time to get out on the other side." or the sometimes even more intense, "Shut up! Your whispers are so loud they are making the ax cleaving my brain dig even deeper, so please just be quiet!"

Only that last one is not the best to maintain good relationships, even though it is why I grit my teeth sometimes.  I do sometimes tell Casper, my dog, "Be quiet! Just be quiet for a minute! Please!" Karen realizes then, before I do most of the time, that a migraine is going on because I'm usually long suffering and very patient with Casper.  He just responds by trying to lick me and kiss me.  Dogs are love.  Well, at least Casper is.

Nights like right now I know I'm in for a migraine when I slow down enough and the insomnia stops.  It's not even just being tired and wanting to sleep, it's a total absence of the sleeping thoughts and feelings kicking in.  It is almost 4AM, and I am finally starting to get a migraine, like I expected.  Lack of sleep is a trigger. Florescent lights are a trigger.  Going shopping for a bit, driving home in the rain with bright headlights coming at me from oncoming traffic and from behind with reflections off the night vision mode for the rear view mirror, all of that is a trigger one each by itself, but together... yeah, I don't stand a chance of no migraine tonight/this morning.

Anyways, this post is supposed to be about what I choose to do, in spite of my illness, or along side of it as it is always a constant frienemy.  I do my best to choose to accept the pain and stuff when I can't control it and hope that the medicines work.  If they work.

I choose to go shopping anyways.  Yes, I wear a dark hat and sunglasses even on dark and stormy nights, making the shop staff think I might be a burgler, but I do what I have to have less of an impact from the environment on my system.

I choose to create.  I went to the store and got yarn for a gift for my dad and a second gift for my mom.  I also picked up a journal I've had my eye on for months.  It's been months because the first store didn't sell them anymore and hadn't for a while, longer than a couple of weeks.

I choose to pray for folks when I can't do anything else.  I choose to use the mantra, "Pain is just a mental event." when the prayers are too hard to do with the pain in the cranium.  I choose to live and be messy and be myself and take care of things as things happen and am learning to be much more decisive than I used to be.

I choose to have fun!  That's been my mantra since childhood.  If it ain't fun, why in Sam Houston would any one do it?  Whatever it happens to be.

I choose to love strong.  I choose to drink water mostly, but when needed vodka or rum don't go astray.  Beer is too yeasty for me.  Oh that's another thing.  Somehow, I am supposed to go gluten free to see if that elimination diet does anything for my migraines. Then, I'll have to decide if there is an effect, whether to suffer the effect and enjoy bread and pasta and couscous and did I say bread? and muddle through another migraine.

I'm getting used to them.  That doesn't mean that I have to like them, or understand them all the time.  I can't. Even my neurologist doesn't understand migraines and why sometimes there's a slow burn to build up to the pain and others it's all I can do to get to the bathroom before my stomach revolts from the sudden intense onslaught of pain and associated nausea.

I choose to ask God to use my suffering to bring peace to others.  I guess this is what was meant by lifting up your cares and worries to God when I was younger.  I never really understood how you could give something to God, one because all is his to begin with, and two because how do you give someone your pain?  How do you let go of your anguish?  How do you let go of your brokenness and leave it at the foot of his cross?  How do you let the Great Comforter comfort you?  How? Why?

That's one question I will never know the answer to.  Why did this happen.  I had none of the markers for the bacterial meningitis that almost killed me and left me with migraines.  Compared to my friend who has blood cancer, at least mine is just something to suffer through and not die over, not unless I get bacterial meningitis again.  If I do the ventricles in my brain may get backed up with cerebral spinal fluid as the meninges that filter the fluid into the outer layer of the brain and the spinal cord will be even more scarred and filled with debris.  It is like I have arthritis not only of the joints but of the meninges too. :-)  A little gallow's humor there if you don't mind.

Anyways, it is now after 4AM and this is getting just a teensy bit long, so I'll hush for now.  I need to find an image that does this post good.  I know just the one too.


Image is from: http://www.bioidenticalhormonemd.com/assets/images/img_brain-electrical-activity-mapping-beam_1.jpg

I chose this image because it looks like the electrical storm that the migraines sometimes feel like in my brain.  I know that the meninges isn't really in the brain, but on the outside of it, but that's the easy to explain the geography.

May 8, 2014

Ode to a Hexi-Flat


Ode to a Hexi-Flat*
By Jennifer Cragen, May 2014

Oh so sweet!
The lil' hexi-flat!

You are fleet of knitting,
Double mint thick.

Turkish cast on,
Kitchener bind off.

Born of the mind of an English woman,
Crafted by folks around the world.

Embroidery, cables, and
Texture too,
Your surface disguises.

Small investment,
Luxurious yarns involved, or humble.

Sometimes Stuffed,
Others un-Puffed.

To be made, and shared,
Fun for all,
You're made for one and all.


*A hexi-flat is an unstuffed hexipuff from the the beekeeper's quilt pattern on Ravelry by tiny owl knits.

Apr 28, 2014

Dancing With The Stars and Meningitis


Amy Purdy is inspirational to me for a few reasons.  Not only is she dancing after having double amputations on her legs!  Talk about wowzers!  She is so smooth and beautiful with how she dances. 

She also is an inspiration because she also survived bacterial meningitis.  She shows me what can be accomplished if one pushes through the pain and develops strength of will.  I utilized her example today while at a concert by the Sunshine Band at the Morrison Center in Scarborough, Maine.

The concert was from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with bingo and refreshments available too.  The various members of the band warmed up and started playing songs.  There were two guitarists, one person on a kettle drum, various people on tambourines, and all singing and having tons of fun.  Sometimes the audience sang along with the band.  

I had a migraine starting before leaving for the concert, but I wanted to attend the event to have some fun family time.  I took a migraine abortive pill when we got there and I availed myself of the free iced tea.  An half hour later the pain was still great so I took a pain pill.  By 6 p.m. I could not go any further, so we left, but we had had an hour of fun and enjoyment of the band and watching others sing and dance and have fun.  It was a really good event.  My system just didn't agree with my ideas of what I wanted to do, so we lived within the limits of my system.

I've been trying to apply the Serenity Prayer for my pain and living in my limits.  If you are unfamiliar with this prayer, here's the text of the prayer.

Lord,
Give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
the courage to change what needs to be changed,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
In your name I pray,
Amen.

I have peace about today's experience of the concert.  I cannot change how my head worked.  I took the medications as directed and did what I could.  The rest is up to the effectiveness of the medications and nature.  Sometimes the migraines last a while, and sometimes they go away with one dose of the medications.  There's no rhyme or reason for either reaction of my system.  I just live with, along side, this giant.

Anyways, I hope you have peace in your life about what is going on in your life.  Where are you in regards to accepting your limitations?

Apr 25, 2014

Holy Land Moments, A Review


In their book, The One Year Holy Land Moments Devotional, Rabbi Yeschel Eckstein and Christian theologian Dr. Tremper Longman III provide a 52 week devotional that includes both Judaic and Christian thought on various passages from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament.  The daily passages reflect on the Jewish view of the faith and history present in each part of the Bible, while also offering Christian interpretations of the same passages, in a comparison manner meant to build up both perspectives rather than tear them apart.  At the end of each week there is space for reflection and questions to answer to aid in that reflection.  Having the reflection at the end of the week gives a Jewish feel to the progress of the book as the Jewish Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday, whereas the Christian Sabbath takes place solely on Sunday, and both Sabbaths are days of reflection for our relationship with God, however we know him to be.

I liked the format of the weeks, the give and take between the perspectives, and the chance for reflection each week.  The questions were very useful for me.  There is nothing I did not like about this book.

I gave the book 5/5 stars for the reasons enumerated above.  I received my copy of this book from Tyndale for free in exchange for my honest opinion.


Apr 24, 2014

The Power of Healing Prayer, A Review


In his book, The Power of Healing Prayer: Overcoming Emotional and Psychological Blocks, Father Richard McAlear, O.M.I., provides a Christ centered, scriptural, and holistic approach to the ministry of healing that every church and parish can initiate and develop into an ongoing charism for Christ.  

I learned about Inner Healing in Chapter Five, Getting Free of Guilt in Chapter Eight, Healing Hidden Hurts in Chapter 13, more about the Mystery of Suffering in Chapter 16, and the Prayer of Faith in Chapter 17.  These are just a few topics that were particularly important to me.  If you have read a bit of my profile, you know that I have migraines a lot and have gone through a ton of changes in the last through years.  I have a lot of misplaced guilt around that which I'm working through to get to a place of healing and I will be incorporating more prayer into the process along with the other exercises I'm doing.

I will be referring to this book again and again.  It has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.  Thanks goes to the Catholic Company for providing the book for free in exchange for an honest opinion.  I was going to give the book a 4/5  only because some of the teachings are hard for me to put into practice in my life right now.  But, that is about me and not the book, so I gave the book 5/5 stars for readability, challenging precepts, and for Father McAlear's warm writing voice.

Harvest of Rubies, A Novel, A Review


Tessa Afshar wrote Harvest of Rubies, A Novel in 2012.  This new book tells one of the oldest stories, that of a tossed together couple afraid to trust each other and hiding their own hurts behind their idols, whether scrolls and parchments or power and social status.  Sarah, cousin to the Biblical Nehemiah, is nominated to be the queen's head scribe.  Darius must marry a suitable Jewish woman, well they would say girl.  The two are a match made in Heaven, they just don't realize it yet.

What I liked was that there was an intense amount of inner dialogue on Sarah's part as she was the narrator.  This meant that unfortunately others, including Darius, come off as flat and simple.  Unfortunately, this second characteristic made the book more of a slog than usual for me.

I gave the book 3/5 stars since the story is neat, Sarah is fully developed, but others just aren't developed enough.

I received my copy of this book through the Moody Book Review Program for free in exchange for an honest review.

Apr 12, 2014

How to be a Productivity Ninja, A Review


In his book, How to be a Productivity Ninja, Graham Allcott delivers awesome advice in easy to understand and incorporate bits.  

I'm a home-based, disabled, student, and I learned a lot of ninja skills to speed up my processing.  I really like the weekly and daily checklists.  As well as the second brain and getting inputs to zero concepts discussed in this book.  Then, again, I'm a productivity geek too.

I was very excited to get back to this book and learn more ninja secrets from the master while I was reading this, so I give it 5 stars.

I received my copy for free from the publisher through the NetGalley Professional Reader program.  My opinion, as ever always, is my own.

52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life, A Review


Andrea Owen brings us a great book, quick to read, but deep and takes a long time to soak in the lessons.  There's the usual get out of your comfort zone and get over your ex chapters.  Then there's the strange ones, the ones that make you pause and wonder if you really can do them, like telling 5 people your secret dream,  or ditching your drama addiction?  Can that really be done?  If so, how?  Read chapter 24 to find out!

Other topics are more serious but still as important.  Chapter 20, You can't "Feel Fat" or Chapter 33, Move out of victimhood.  I know I battle with those among other health and body issues.  What about you?

I think my favorite topic is Chapter 34, You are always worthy of love.  We are all there, every day and every moment.  I hope you have a lovely day.  

I received my copy of this book for free through the NetGalley Professional Reader program.  My review is my own opinion as always.

Apr 3, 2014

The Tale of the Three Brothers, from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K.Rowling



So, I'm writing a paper for a class I'm taking.  I'm looking at how the ideological messages are transmitted in a piece of writing and have chosen to use the Tale of the Three Brothers from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling.  Now, what are ideological messages, you may ask?  They are the ideas beyond what is written, like the moral of a fable, the hidden message.  So, not only am I looking for the hidden message, but for how that hidden message is given to the reader.

A little background.  Three brothers come to a raging river.  They use their magic to make a bridge across the river.  Death gets angry because usually people die trying to cross the river.  So, Death meets the three brothers midway on the bridge and offers them each a gift of their choosing for having outwitted him.  The eldest, belligerent brother asks for a wand to beat all others in battle.  The middle brother asks for something to return those who have died.  Then, Death asks the youngest brother what he wants.  The youngest brother asks for something that would allow him to go from that place unseen by Death and avoid Death until he was ready to meet him.  Death gave the eldest brother a wand of elder, the middle a river washed stone, and the youngest received Death's own invisibility cloak.

Well, the eldest brother goes to a fellow who he's had trouble with in the past and they duel and he wins.  He goes to the local watering hole and boasts of the power of the wand Death gave him, gets drunk, passes out in a room above the pub.  A pickpocket decides to steal the wand while that brother sleeps, and for good measure, slits his throat.

The middle brother goes home, and uses the stone to bring back his dead fiancee.  She'd died just before their wedding.  They can't quite connect because of being on different dimensions of time and space, he goes mad, and kills himself to be with her.  So Death has two of the three brothers.

The youngest brother lives to an old age, gives the invisibility cloak to his son, and meets Death as a friend and they walk off into the sunset.

So that's the tale in a much abbreviated manner.  The hidden meanings in the story are: 1, you have nothing to fear from Death if you live sensibly, 2, your end will come about from the way in which you live your life, and, 3, as Dumbledore wrote in his commentary, Death is inevitable for all humans.

So, the question then becomes how did Rowling put those messages into the story?  Let's take the second meaning of the tale, that your end will come about from the way in which you live your life.  How did I get that meaning from the story?  Well, each brother died in a way related to what he asked of Death.  The eldest brother asked for a wand to best all wands.  He died in a combative situation, had he not been drunk from too much wine.  The second brother wanted the power to bring back the dead.  He was pinning for the past, and assumed that the girl wanted to be back with him rather than where ever it was she was.  He was lost in the past with his longing for her when he killed himself.  He never enjoyed living in the present after leaving Death on the bridge.  The youngest brother just asked to be allowed to go from there on his way.  He didn't ask for any special power, just for freedom to pass.  Then as his time of life grew long and full, he went to Death when it was the right time, rather than losing his life too soon.  Thus, each brother died according to what he asked of Death, and this tells us that your way of Death will come about because of how you live your life.

Ahh!  I just had an insight.  Dumbledore tells Harry "It is not what happens to us that makes us who we are, but our choices that make us who we are."  Just as our death will come from the choices we make about how we live our lives.

Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka On Heaven and Earth, A Review



Despite viewing the Old Testament/Torah from different places, both men met to talk about various topics and shared their views on God, the Devil, Death, Euthanasia, Women, Same-Sex Marriage, Poverty and the Holocaust among other Twenty-First Century Topics.

Both view God in a similar way, though the Jewish prohibition of not referring to God by his name is handled by using G-d for when Rabbi Skorka refers to Our Heavenly Father throughout the book.  There are differences in whether we believe in the Messiah having arrived or not, yet.  But, on the whole there are far more similarities than dissimilarities.  This was borne out in a variety of other topics, none more so than the topic of Same Sex Marriage.

Both men view same-sex marriage in similar manners.  While both are respectful of all their fellow humans, both men do not believe that being made homosexual from birth grants a person to the right of marriage.  Both men also agree that adoptions should only be to families with both a mom and dad, one each.

This is to be expected coming from leaders of their respective religions, though I would have wished for more than just recognition that the humans involved deserve respect.   I am a Mainer.  We have legally recognized same sex marriage here.  Many of my friends have gone through getting married even if they'd had a commitment ceremony previously, just for the legal protections.  It is not fair that their religions do not recognize their unions with the same connection as the rest of the world.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review

Mar 29, 2014

The Great Comforter

The Lord is my shepherd; 
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: 
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: 
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; 
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 
thou anointest my head with oil; 
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
     ~~Psalm 23, KJV


Lord, 
You know my needs.  You are my shepherd.  I shall not want.  You bring me to green pastures to lie down in.  You lead me by still waters to drink deeply until my thirst is gone.  You restore my soul.  You lead me in the paths of goodness to bring honor to your name.  Even though demons come towards me and threaten me, I will fear no evil for you are with me.  Your rod and staff comfort me by letting me know the boundaries, that you are near, and of your love for me.  You prepare a table of a feast for me in the presence of those who would do evil to me.  You anoint my head with oil, you touch my head and I know all is well.  My cup runs over from being filled with the blessings you give to me.  Goodness and mercy cannot but follow me for all the days of my life for you love me and I love you.  I will dwell in your house for ever because you allow me to.  Thank you, Lord.  
Amen

Feb 24, 2014

Missing Downton Abbey?

Enjoy a pot of tea and curl up with a good book from the British Isles.  Here are a few examples.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Book of Invasions, Ireland
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Conan Doyle

What are your favorite British Isle books?  Whether that be books by authors from the British Isles, or books set in the British Isles.

Feb 17, 2014

My Favorite Poem. Yes, I have a lot of those.

From Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence, The Grey King.

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills.
Through the door of the birds where the breeze breaks
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the Light shall have the harp of gold.
~
By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan's Way where kestrels call,
Though grimm from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.
~
When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon's sword the Dark shall fall.
~
Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae'r arglwyddes yn dod.


~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, supposedly, "Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu, ac y mae'r arglwyddes yn dod," means something like "The mountains are singing and the lady comes." But, there's some grammar errors in there that may change the meaning, too.

5 Reasons Migraines are Not Just a Headache

Migraine.com

Feb 10, 2014

My Current Daydream


Every morning I wake to the sounds of gentle rain dripping off the tile roof of my one bedroom flat in Oxford.  I make some coffee, toast a crumpet, spread it with jam and enjoy my breakfast.  Today is my day to go to the library and study the actual texts of the medieval Irish and Welsh myths and legends and folktales.  I am looking for clues as to who the writers were and why they wrote in the ways they wrote.  I am also looking for the similarities and differences in the texts.  After lunch, I will go to the river for a walk and think over what I've peered at all the morning.  In the afternoon, I return to my flat and write up my notes, just in time to go to the train station and meet my sweetie on her vacation to England.  We go to a nearby pub and have a dinner and some local ale, then we go to a lecture on the historical lumps and depressions in the surrounding country side.  We go home afterwards for some much deserved time to ourselves.  In a few days, we emerge and go on an exploration of the Iron Age remains in the area while taking in the scenery and stopping at pubs for lunch and dinner, or tea as they call it there.  I don't make her climb a tree as our favorite Brit Com leading lady does in their own Iron Age remains episode, so I don't look foolish talking to a tree when a bicyclist goes by and she refuses to answer me from the tree.  Then again, the car didn't have a ladder, so it wasn't really feasible.  :)

Feb 9, 2014

Watching Lady Gaga and Oprah Talking About Fame ... Oh My!!



It's Sunday, so of course, it is Super Soul Sunday and Oprah's Next Chapter in my house on the television.  Oprah is interviewing Lady Gaga about her life and has just asked her about fame and how it feels to have the most followers on Twitter.  Lady G doesn't disappoint and turns the conversation to how her team keeps her honest and grounded by telling her the truth.

This reminds me of the time when I was told of a friend's secret affair.  The affair was the truth, and it's story was spreading faster than anything on Twitter, though only through word of mouth.  I asked the one telling me about the affair if we could talk about something else, like her daughter's winning score in the recent basketball game.  Despite the truth of the conversation's details, the friend whose secret it was wasn't there to do the sharing of her secret, so as her friend, as part of her "team," I felt that it was best not to talk about this secret that wasn't really a secret anymore without her being present to share her truth of the events.

Feb 6, 2014

Tiny Homes, A Review



This is a great little book about simplifying and living in Tiny Homes.   Some of the homes are 100 square feet in area up to about 500 square feet on average.  The homes range from little places on the lake and tree houses to yurts and hobbit holes.  I would love to call any of the places showcased home.  This has me thinking of reducing my space needs and making life simpler to be able to move into a small, tiny home of my own.

I gave this book a 4/5 stars because I really liked the pictures and the inspiration it provides.  I also received my copy of the book from the publisher, Shelter Publications Incorporated, through the NetGalley Review program.

Jan 4, 2014

Ashes to Ashes, The Scribing of Ishitar, A Review


This is a delicious novel of the coming of age of a god and an elven prince.   There are vampires, demons, angels, doxies, elves, and humans, along with gods and shape shifters, as well as other kinds of beings in this novel.  All living together in dramatic, enigmatic, and loving ways, depending, of course, on the folks involved.  There is a good amount of m2f and m2m action, some f2f is intimated, but as physical sex is fluid in this world for some folks, that's about as exciting as a jar of pixies. ;)

I found the story exciting and humorous.  I didn't want to put it down to go about the rest of my day and rushed through my chores to get back to reading this story.  If you like stories with great characters, lively action, and good romance, that occurs in the levels of Heavens and Hells, then grab this book as quick as you can and don't let it burn you while reading!  :)

However, if you like books where characters are staidly human only, and the missionary position in China is the only position, which isn't even actually referred directly, then please avoid this book and leave it for the more adventurous souls in the reading world.

I gave this book a 5/5 stars for fully involving me in the secondary world and for making me cry when its heroes got hurt and laugh when they had fun.

I got this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program.