Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Books! Books! Books!

One of my goals for this year has been to declutter. I just have too many closets, corners, shelves, and such filled with too much "I'll get to that someday" type things. Too much psychic burden. All these "things" I "should" be devoting my life energy to. But my life is worth so much more than many of these "things" deserve.  And one of the things that I tend to collect is books.

Books have a special magic, especially if one tends to read a lot. There is such promise of knowledge. The keys to unlock mysteries. The information one needs. They also have this aura of value as well. I grew up reading the Laura Ingalls Little House series. The family had one book besides the family Bible, and that one book was treasured. For centuries, books were only found in the homes of the wealthy or the libraries of religious institutions. The depths of the book a mystery only to all but the privileged few. One simply does not "throw away" a book.

But ours is an age where what was once scarce and valuable is now plentiful and, perhaps, not so valuable. There are bad books. There are mediocre books. There are books past their usefulness.

IT IS QUITE ACCEPTABLE TO THROW A BOOK IN THE RECYCLES BIN!!

And I have taken this truth to heart this year. I am still buried in books, but . . . I have sold several school books that Miss Adventure and I no longer need or will not use. :-) Not a huge sum collected, but enough to pay for this year's science curriculum.

I have given away several stacks of books. :-)

And I have tossed quite a number of books into the recycle bin.

I have a shelf in my bookcases full of items I know I do not want, but haven't yet decided what course to take: toss, donate, attempt to sell. But each time a book leaves the house, I feel this sense of lightness. I still have two piles of books in my bedroom, a crate of books in the living room, two or three crates of books under the stairs, and four boxes of books in the garage to go through for the first go around.

My goal for this year is to gather all books to the bookcases and have done an initial purge of unwanted materials. Next year, once that's done, I want to go through the remaining books, culling down to one bookcase. I keep reminding myself that I love our local library and use it extensively. I don't "need" a lot of the school books I have. The library does an excellent job of storing books.

Here's to a lovely fall and the lightness of less.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

For the Love of Singing

It has been over five years since I've done much of any singing, and nearly ten years since I've sung any good choral pieces. Singing is such an enjoyment for me. I have needed to find an outlet. So last February I began searching the internet off and on for somewhere to sing. I never could find anything for my hometown, but I did find contact information for the chorus for the symphony orchestra in the city. WooHoo! Well, except that I was too late to join for the spring concert. Rats! I ended up painting the house and hosting a graduation party instead. :-D

But I knew where to watch for start times for this fall. And I did it. I joined the chorus. We've had three practices thus far. And it is so much fun! As a bonus, I ran into someone I knew from my hometown who had contact information for a chorus here at home. They just do a spring concert, but their practices, for the most part, do not conflict with the city's rehearsals. Yay! Message to that coordinator in process. We shall see if I can wrangle and invitation to join the local chorus.

In the mean time in the city, we are singing a gorgeous Brahm's piece . . . in the original German. I love the piece, especially the second part which descends into hell. Love those lush, dark passages. I have found learning the German particularly challenging, but finally I have these German phrases running through my head. I will have it memorized by performance, I'm sure.
So. Much. Fun.

It has meant that Mr. Wonderful does have to be sure to be timely home on rehearsal nights. And remember Miss Adventure at dance class. So it has added some scheduling stress. But Mr. Wonderful understands how important it is to me. So very nice to have something for me. :-)
 It does make me so very happy.

Doch uns is gegeben auf keiner Statte zu ruhn,
Es schwinden, es fallen die leidenden Menschen
Blindlings von einer Stunde zur arden,
Wie wasser von Klippe su Klippe geworfen,
Jarl lang ins Ungewisse hinab.

Ah, such good stuff! :-D

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Launch Two

When we launched Ben into the world, it was a rather soft launch. First to dorms, home on holidays and weekends. Then dorms further away. When he was working on an oil rig, it was gone for four or five weeks, home for one or two weeks. Now he's in an apartment at university, pretty much on his own. A successful, but gradual launch.

For our chemist, it has been a much longer time to actual launch, but a much faster lift off. She has lived at home during her college years for several reasons, money certainly, but others as well. Now graduated, she has been living at home while job hunting. I had really thought she'd find work fairly close by summer's end. But August came and went with no prospects.
Then it happened.
With unexpected suddenness, she is launching.

Two weeks ago, she was baking cakes and going to the zoo with the littles and me.

Finally, she got a call for an interview. Scheduled for Tuesday, a week ago. In the bigger city. Three hours away.

She and I packed a picnic lunch and hit the road. (We simply didn't trust her car, she can't drive my stick, and who wants to spend 6 hours on the road solo when you can have company!) While we sat in the parking lot of the company she was to interview with, eating our lunch and unwinding a bit, she got a call. Another interviewed scheduled for Friday. This one much closer, in our close city. Wow! Two face to face interviews in one week.

She felt the interview went well. We traveled home.

Wednesday, she had a job offer. Wow! Going to an interview with an offer in her pocket. Very cool.

She felt the interview Friday went well, but they had to get authorization to make an offer. We discussed things. She pondered things. She accepted the offer in the bigger city. To start Wednesday (yesterday as I write this).

I was expecting a week or two delay between interview and offer. And another week or two delay between offer and start date.
Nope.
They needed her.

So yesterday, Mr. Wonderful followed her to the bigger city to make sure her car made it. We are searching for a better car for her. She is living with Mr. Wonderful's sister while she gets settled in at work. We've begun the apartment search. But she is out in the world on her own. Wow. That was fast. We are so proud of her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Zoo Trip

Since my guy's school had an extra long Labor Day break, on a Tuesday we headed for the zoo.

 

After feeding the fish at one of our favorite spots, we came to a tram stop just as the tram was pulling up. Well, of course, we had to ride the tram.

We were headed for the gorilla exhibit, which was but one stop away, so we decided to ride to the stop after that, by the hippos, and make our way back.

 
 

One never knows which animals will be active and capture one's attention. Today, the lions were lazy, but the Red River hogs had just decided to get up from their naps and wander down to their stream as we passed by. Cool.

When we finally got to the gorilla exhibit, we found that the baby we had been hoping to see was off exhibit for the day.


But the okapi and the saddle beak crane were out and about.

 

And the gorilla area usually involves a stop at the play ground. :-D


After another tram ride, we found a new place to feed the fish where we found these gorgeous ducks!


Miss Adventure really wanted to go to the petting zoo area. Our zoo's petting area has farm animals from different continents - an Asian farm, an African farm, and an American farm.


What a beautiful horse.


A shaggy donkey.


Turkeys, just hanging out.

Fun way to spend our extra holiday.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

August

Finally a moment to catch my breath. What a week. But, remembering my goal at year end is a blog book of our year, that story will have to wait its turn.

August was full of keeping up with the garden and getting ready for the start of school. Part of that getting ready was moving Ben and his sweet heart into new digs for the new term. We had them both here for a few days between apartment move out dates and availability dates. Our home was stuffed to the gills with stuff. But it has all worked out, and now they are settled in and focused on school and work.

My little guy isn't so little any more. But he did have the best start to any school year yet. He really likes his high school teacher, which is fabulous for he may be his teacher for seven years. But he has grown so much in the past year. He is growing tall! And he has become a leader in the special ed class. His reading has improved a couple of grade levels. He is communicating more. His horizons are expanding more than we had thought possible just a couple of years ago. Mr. Wonderful and I may actually get an empty nest -
in a decade or so.

Miss Adventure and I have made a fabulous start to our home school year. We are on schedule! She is handling the advanced math I planned for her very well. She is progressing well in reading comprehension. Things to work on, of course, but things are going very well.

And this happened in August.
          We have a new member of our family,
little Midnight.
 I really love this cat, and he's a black cat.
How perfect is that?

Almost autumnal equinox;
how I love the shortening days.
 Blessings, friends.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Miss Adventure Turns Nine

Near the end of July, Miss Adventure celebrated her ninth birthday. Big brother Ben came home to help celebrate. (In a couple of weeks, Ben's sweetheart would be back from the coast with a very special present - an American girl doll! Camille!)

We took off for the zoo on the hot and humid day. Ben had not yet seen the new elephants. We started in the ape building.

Checking out the baby orangutan.


Hanging with the apes. :-)


Out of the ape building, we traveled the bamboo shaded path, the insects singing and complete lack of breeze made it a jungle.



Next we traveled through the aviary. Beautiful birds.

This guy walked right past us on the path.


 
 

Miss Adventure had often asked to view through the scope. Today, I said yes.

She also requested another boat ride. I went for tickets while the crew stayed in the cool of the gorilla indoor exhibit. I got tickets for the last boat of the day! It sold out long before it left the dock.
 
Today we sailed on the Murky Green. After a slight *ahem* adjustment of passengers so the boat didn't tip over, we were off.

 
 

Once the boat ride was over, we were hot, tired, and hungry so . . .


Lunch at El Patio!


At home we opened presents. She received a cool necklace made from colored pencils. Her grandmother had started it years ago, her sister finished it. But her favorite - a small tablet.




Happy birthday, little one.     

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Still Alive

So it's been forever since I've posted. Main reason, I just don't want to face sorting through the photos from Miss Adventure's birthday at the end of July. I have had such a hard time this year with keeping up with photos. I will eventually get to it. Or not.

In the mean time, August has come and gone with lots of good rain for my garden. My garden has given me lots of tomatoes with plenty of fresh basil, so I've managed to put 7 spaghetti sauces in the freezer for this winter, plus we had 4 or 5 fresh spaghetti dinners. I've gathered 3 cantaloupe and have 3 more on the vine. Onions have been a huge success. I'm starting with a bundle of young plants again next spring! I've got 2 buckets of onions on the back deck and have used many pounds straight from the garden this summer. Also, I've been out to pick fresh jalapeno peppers for making refried beans several times.

But it is not all glorious success. Watermelon continues to mystify me as to when to pick. I've picked a couple just barely in time before they were totally inedible. The three sisters of corn, squash, and beans has not gone so well. With our fence this year, I was able to get corn up and growing reasonably synched. However, I needed to hand pollinate, and I did not get that done. Thus I have ears that have few kernels in them. I may leave this crop to locals who know what they're doing and just plan on buying it seasonly. My pumpkins - alas, most of them rotted in the beds. I tried to pick some of the later ones sooner, but ended up with rotting pumpkins on my deck table. I've ended up with 2 very small pumpkins. But I love the seeds so much, I will try again next year. The beans in the three sisters plantings aren't doing very well either, but I did put in a patch of just beans where I had harvested potatoes. And said potatoes, after a good harvest from the first patch, I just didn't get as much from the other patches. The ground was not loose enough to allow for good growth. Definitely trying again next year, but I'm going to have to try to ensure looser soil. My tomatoes are about finished, just little ones now. Next garden job, clean up and put in cover crops.

In the midst of harvesting, school has once again started. My little guy has had the best start to school ever!!! Having the same teacher, same school, same routine this year as last has been a tremendous help for him. For Miss Adventure, I managed to find several books second hand and sell several of the books we no longer need. She and I have gotten off to a fabulous start. Three weeks in and we are not behind in anything, and we're even ahead in art. :-D

We spent the day at the zoo yesterday. My little guy's school took a four day weekend for the holiday. That's another post with a bajillion photos to sift through first. Maybe I'll get it done by the end of the month. Or not.

May your fall be rainy and cool and your projects well on their way to completion.
And don't forget:
Kindness Matters.