Wednesday, September 30, 2009

20th Century American Lit

I really don't enjoy many books from among the genre considered 20th Century classics. Sometimes I try to quantify why that is. I think the closest I could come is that it reflects the increasingly godless and relativist mentality of our society. I suppose some would call that post-modern.

Follows is my synopsis of a few authors and an imitation. See this is one of the things that frustrates me. I'm sure I'm not giving these people enough credit, but still, for some of them, it seems to take so little thought or art.

There's Hemingway. There is no meaning to life. You live and then die. I suppose one joins a few revolutions against the fascists, among whom might be considered anyone who has more civic power or material goods than yourself.
When you leave me in leave this vale of tears, there you will have no more grief. Never will we have to fight the pigs who own everything and make us grovel for our meager fare. Someday I will join you in the next mysterious rebirth and we will never be parted."
And Salinger. All pathetic lives and hopelessness. Grime.
She ground the stub of her cigarette into the ashtray. The sofa was dingy gray from the years of stale air that always permeated her life. She thought about the blackness of her coming years and wanted to cry. But she was beyond tears.
How about Faulkner? Strange segues and no introduction to the various people or settings.
The old lady slid into the memories of the ruts on the country road. She tried hard not to fall, but when she thought of the boy with the cow, she couldn't help herself....

The blackness overtook him and he was once again a child in the back room crying for his supper.
Jack Kerouac. Drugs. Women. Slang. Run-on sentences.
We were so stoked we just kept running and running and I never saw the lights even through I was cruising the boulevard for hours and hours and the dude on the saxophone was so hip and we danced until we just needed to burn our way into a new gig. I couldn't believe it when we met up with the others and hung at this apartment they had at the time where the rest of us would all get wired and try to chill and then we'd be off running again until we crashed.
Yes, I know, I'm oversimplifying. There are others authors who are more complex. Who spin good plots that use proper grammar and don't find glory in the underbelly of society. It takes real talent and art to construct a good story. I've tried.

But I could probably whip out several chapters quite quickly using any of the above styles. I just can't see wasting my time. There is enough of that in the lives of real people without having to immortalize it in a novel.

Another Song

This one's from Char. Thanks, Char, I'd never heard that one.

I hope you all know that I embedded this video myself.

A Folk Song for Joe

In response to Joe's post:

I thought about the Jerry Lee Lewis version for Dave S., but you just can't beat the Americana in this one.

Can anyone tell Joe was here when I did this post? Note the video embedded in the post and not just the link.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Senator Coburn, Again a Champion

Have any readers been following the story of the National Heritage Area the federal government is trying to locate in North Dakota? For information on National Heritage Areas themselves, follow the link. There does not seem to be much useful information there. at least not that admits to causing any of the grief the people of ND have been dealing with.

Allegedly, a law was passed to designate a large area of ND as a NHA. Because of this, properties within this NHA were subject to multiple regulations and restrictions simply because this imaginary line around the NHA now included these properties. The residents and property owners were not notified or contacted.

Apparently, the designation can be either an opt-out or and opt-in designation. In an opt-out designation, the residents must jump hoops to have their property removed from this area. With an opt-in designation, residents can request to have their property included.

In ND, the designation was opt-out. What does this mean for the land owners? Basically their land was suddenly part of some government program of which they had no warning. Their property was suddenly under a rash of federal regulations, restricting the use and developement thereof.

And since this was done with little or no warning, the residents had no chance to opt out before it all got rolling.

Many North Dakotans are reasonably upset about this.

Rob at SayAnythingBlog has a little write up on the backpedaling the lawmakers are doing. Also of note, since he's on my hero list, is Oklahoma Senator Coburn's proposed amendment which would require all National Heritage Areas to come under the opt-in designation.

NASA Discloses A Big Void in Space

I noticed this headline today.
Astronaut urine spotted in skies above North America

A glowing trail spotted in the night sky above North America was caused by a falling block of astronaut urine, Nasa has disclosed.
No further comment.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rhubarb Muffins

I don't do much Glutinous baking these days. Since Joe must eat gluten free and any kind of scooping or pouring or stirring can waft flour dust around the house, it's just easier for me to bake everything Gluten Free. That said, I made muffins to take to church this morning. They turned out especially well, so I thought I'd share the recipe.

I should have used less batter per muffin, however, as they did spread all over the top of the muffin pan. They were not much to look at, but sure tasted good. The originally recipe called for the muffin cups to be 3/4 full, so I've changed it to 2/3, but even half might be neater. I also changed the number the recipe makes from 18 to 24 to account for that.

I used frozen rhubarb and thawed and drained it before using. I suppose one could use it directly from the freezer and then cut down the amount of milk, but I haven't tried this, so you'll have to guess.

And, yes, I know I ought to include a picture. Imagine a golden, crusty top with moist, fruit-flavored texture within.
Rhubarb Muffins or Bread

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix together in small bowl, set aside.

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
Whip together until fluffy.

1 egg
Mix into butter and sugar, whip until fluffy.

1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Add and mix well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix gently.

2 cups chopped rhubarb
Mix in gently.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter, softened
Mix sugar and cinnamon; cut in butter.

Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling 2/3 full, or spoon into 2 greased 8" x 4" loaf pans.
Sprinkle topping over batter.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 min for muffins, or 40-45 min for loaves, or until cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool in pans 10 min before removing. Makes 24 muffins or 2 loaves.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Vocabualry Update

You just gotta love William F. Buckley, Jr. I'm not sure I can use slang in the same sentence with Buckley's name. Is that too ironic?

Anyway, I had to laugh after all this vocabulary writing, when I found both detritus and ancillary within a few paragraphs of each other in Nearer My God.

And here is another one he used: phenomenology.

Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Yes, Even Lutheranism

I noticed a while ago, that Catholic Christians consider Lutherans as Protestant. Those affiliated with mainstream Protestant denominations consider Lutherans as very nearly Catholic. Lutherans consider themselves as particularly different from both. And that doesn't mean we are fence sitters.

In William F. Buckley, Jr.'s self described autobiography of faith, Nearer My God, Buckley relates his first interest in the sphere of Christian apologetics. His friend Arnold Lunn while still an agnostic, had engaged Fr. Ronald Knox in a long term correspondence on the difficulties of the Catholic faith. These written discussions were later published as Difficulties: Being a Correspondence About the Catholic Religion. Buckley attributes this book, along with other lively discussions with Arnold Lunn, as being the root of his interest in apologetics.

In Nearer My God, Buckley spends an entire chapter on several of what to him are the most compelling discussions between Knox and Lunn. During the first of those discussion points, Buckley summarizes Fr. Knox's view of Protestant ecclesiastical authority, "Protestants tend to think in terms of a community of the elect who stand together to protect their churches, protected from the infirm policies by their peers." It seems to me that this hits directly on one of the important ideas being debated in Lutheranism today. Lutherans do not accept the infallibility of the Pope. But nor is it our mere "standing together," that makes our doctrine what it is.

Buckley continues, "Yet a company of men and women is subject to fits of passion, vulnerable to demands of fashion." Aha! Although some Protestant denominations have always been a bit more democratic in their doctrines than others, Lutherans are supposed to stand on the Lutheran Confessions as the clear expression of Holy Scripture. They also rely on the earlier church fathers, when there is consistent Biblical teaching. And first and foremost they rely upon The Holy Bible.

Now here's the rub. There are some among today's Lutherans who want to lessen the Lutheran Church's reliance upon the Lutheran Confessions. They see subscribing to such a human writing as akin to Catholics depending more upon the edicts of a human Pope than to Scripture itself. Isn't the Bible supposed to be clear on its own? Do we need human interpretation?

When we do not stand upon the historical writings of our forebears, we are indeed, as Buckley put it, " subject to fits of passion, vulnerable to demands of fashion." There is a word for that in theology: enthusiasm. Judging God's will for our lives on the whim of a particular moment.

Each reading of God's Word can, indeed, open new insights into His will. But if those insights are not tethered by a common historical foundation, the Lutheran Confessions, then we are like a chaff blown in the wind.

And Yet, More Words

I'm reading Nearer, My God by William F. Buckley, Jr. As expected, Buckley is a source of new words.

Nexus. I know there used to be, and perhaps still is, a research tool called nexus/lexus, for searching for news items. I know there used to be a salon shampoo company called Nexus. What I don't know is exactly what it means. I have this vague impression that it means something like an apex. Not apex in the sense of climax, but more apex as the point upon which an argument hinges.

Let's see how I did. From (although I checked several and they all were very nearly word for word)
  1. A means of connection; a link or tie: “this nexus between New York's . . . real-estate investors and its . . . politicians” (Wall Street Journal).
  2. A connected series or group.
  3. The core or center: “The real nexus of the money culture [was] Wall Street” (Bill Barol).
I guess I didn't really have it. Shows where a mere contextual definition can get a person.

Granitic This one was difficult for me until I typed it out myself. It had been hyphenated at the end of a line, making it less easily recognized. Although I've never seen this word, I'm going to assume it is an adjectival form of granite. Therefor describing something that is firmly set in stone. Unmovable

Let's see.

I can't find granitic on its own. But several sources have it as an adjective of granite. Besides the rock itself, most list the second definition of granite: 2. Unyielding endurance; steadfastness.

I didn't do too badly there.

Joe Just Reminded Me...

After reading my previous post, Joe reminded me of one of the funniest pronunciation error of Joe's young adult life.

As in "A mother with small children tends to be a little dis-heevled (disheveled) by the time church is done."

Another Word

1 : loose material (as rock fragments or organic particles) that results directly from disintegration
2 a : a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away : debris b : miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends
I have a kind of funny story to add with regard to this word.

My son Jeremy has always been a fairly advanced reader. When he was quite young, he was able to read and understand contextually words with which he had no auditory experience. This led to many, many amusing pronunciations. Now, really, this is nothing new with kids learning to read, nor is it exclusive to my dear son. However, it has led to a tradition of making pronunciation jokes at poor Jeremy's expense. The two we've gotten the most miles out of, is that in our family, we all have nassle passages and sinooses. (nassle: a as in cat; sinooses: oo as in moose, and the second syllable has the emphasis.)

My husband, Joe, was very similar as a younger reader. When we met in our early twenties, I was often laughing at him. It just cracked me up. Here he was, this guy who already at that age was widely respected for his knowledge and scholarly abilities. And yet he carried with him all these funny pronunciations.

For years now, I've periodically used a word I'll here call detrius, to refer to the various flotsam of any given situation. This is a word I remember learning from my husband. There came a point a year or more ago, at which I wanted to use this word for a blog entry. Spellcheck wouldn't let me use it. There wasn't really another word suggestion, if I remember right. I searched just about every on-line dictionary, and still no success. I tried multiple spellings. Nothing. Finally, somewhere during this process, some dictionary offered "Did you mean detritus?" Well, I looked it up and sure enough, that is the meaning I was seeking. I couln't believe it. I'd been saying it wrong all these years!

So once again, Papa Joe, had a pronunciation error. But this time he drew me into it, too. How embarrassing!

I wonder, is it more worthy of embarrassment to chronically mispronounce a certain word or to never use new words for fear of getting it wrong?

New Words

: an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics
1 : attribution of personal qualities; especially : representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form
: a divinity or imaginary being representing a thing or abstraction
: embodiment, incarnation
I was curious about the difference between the first personification definition and anthropomorphism. My guess is that one would use anthropomorphism when discussing non-human subjects from a scientific point of view; whereas one would use personification when discussing non-human subjects in the context of a literary discussion.

Any ideas?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food for Thought

I pulled this off a comment by robert108 at sayanthingblog
“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”

“The goal of socialism is communism.”

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one. ”

“Crime is a product of social excess”

“It is true that liberty is precious - so precious that it must be rationed”

-Vladimir Lenin quotes (Russian Founder of the Russian Communist Party, leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, 1870-1924)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Senator Tom Coburn

My sister, Aimee, and her family live in Oklahoma, so I always perk up my ears a bit more when I hear of someone who hails from her area or of some pithy news item that might have grabbed her local interest.

For that reason, I've kind of been a Sen. Coburn fan for a while now. Not that my sister living in Oklahoma makes Sen. Coburn great, but that because Aimee lives in Oklahoma, I probably paid more attention to Sen. Coburn, and therefore was aware of his ideas earlier than I would have been otherwise.

In this video clip from one of his Town Hall meetings, he touches on all the main troubles with National healthcare. Economically, it just won't work. Politically, the constitution nowhere allows the federal government to provide health care to its citizens. And providing a citizenry with health care is not an example of true compassion.

But Sen. Coburn says this so well. Give it a view.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

V---A---C---A---T-I-O-N In the Summer Sun

Yes, more vacation journal. For some of the photos, see Joe's blog.

On Day 4 of the Big Drive, we drove. Yes, that's right. Our destination, The Dalles, OR, to see some friends of ours, the J family. Unfortunately, the J Mom had to be out of town (smart lady?), so we had to content ourselves with the J Dad and the little Js. But although we missed Erica, we loved our visit all the same. It was especially relaxing for me because the guys did all the cooking: the kids played outside in the tree house and yard, and played dress up inside, and watched movies and played wii, and moslty got along great.

I took a couple of walks while we were there--Everything in The Dalles is hills. Big hills. I don't get much practice on hills around here...Reminded me of running cross country while attending the school formerly known as DMLC, in New Ulm, MN. One day a week our practice consisted of, "Do five hills." Yup, that was it. 12th Steet hill. Five times. But if you're familiar with New Ulm, join me in affirming that five hills is a great plenty for one day. As an aside here, I was not a great cross country runner. But when I did have opportunity to pass another runner, let it be known that it was always on the hills.

We attended church at Bethany in The Dalles. We took a walk on Monday along part of the River Front Trail. It was a long hot walk. The kids and some of the adults (I) waded in the Columbia River, against the advice of Pastor J. Let it be known that only one of us ended up with a strange skin condition during vacation. But we are not necessarily blaming the mighty Columbia.

Thank you to the J family for your hospitality.

On Tuesday morning, Day 7, we took off for points north. We spent our Seattle area stay at Gold Baisn campground in the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was a great spot. Lots of Western Hemlock and Vine Maples The branchs hung with mosses. A soft layer of needles and moss and rotting timbers made up the camp site. It was really very beautiful. The Stillaguamish River ran alongside, so we had a few opportunities to swim and wade in the waters thereof. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to use the tubing equipment Uncle Mike lent us. Too bad. I'm sure it would have been great fun.

Rachel brought her soon to be husband, Nick out to the campground Tuesday evening to meet us. It was a treat, Rachel. Thank you for the special visit. I know you guys were plenty busy. Welcome to the family, Nick.

On Wednesday, we spent the morning and early afternoon just enjoying the campground. In the afternoon and evening, we went into Marysville for a little shoe shopping for a couple of kids, and then we headed South to see what cousins we could hook up with. Aren't cell phones great! We got ahold of Mike and Shawna and ended up having a delicious supper with them at Taster's Wok in Edmonds. It was a great visit. And thanks for picking up the tab. That gets to be quite a bit when considering the number of Abrahamson mouths to feed. I hope you know we didn't plan it that way.

Poor Cousin Taylor (5) had broken her foot a few days before and had just had it casted with the exhortation, "Absolutely no weight on it for two weeks." The night we had supper with them, she still needed to be carried, the injury being so new. But by Friday she was crawling around, playing and chasing with all the cousins. I hope your foot is on the mend, Taylor.

Sophie spent that night at Mike and Shawna's with Taylor and Nolan. What a treat! My kids have no cousins on Joe's side and my relatives are all so far away. It really is special for them to get to be with their cousins.

We found out later that we had just missed Sara and her kids Wednesday afternoon. They had hoped to catch us at the campground. Apparenly they met us at one of the intersections about 1/2 hour out from the campground. We were sorry to have missed them. The cell coverage was non-existent once we got into the foothills where the campground was. So even though we were all equipped with them and everyone had everyone else's numbers, we still did not have contact with anyone once we got past Granite Falls.

On Thursday, all the wedding excitement was in full swing. We were expecting Kathy and Joel and their family to join us at the campground that evening. And there was a Girls Night Out for Rachel and Nick's sisters and sisters-in-law and moms. Mike brought Sophie to the campground before he was expected at the coinciding Boy's Night Out. Thanks again, Mike.

Kathy and I ate a quick supper with the guys and kids and then we headed out with Louisa, Elsie and Cousin Iraina. We were to drop the girls off at Nick's house to join Cousins Christa, Ruth and Liz, were already watching the younger set of cousins. There was really a housefull. Sara's four kids, Dylan, Cameron, Mattie and Ethan; Shelly's Drake; Mike's Nolan and Taylor; and Lisa's Tim who really didn't need babysitting but wanted to enjoy the company of the cousins. Then they had Inge for awhile, also, since, duh, I couldn't very well take her along to the bar, now, could I. (no, I don't get out much.)

Kathy and I didn't stay long, but we had a fun quick hello. Kathy had a Diet Pepsi and I had a Scotch. Hmm. But thanks to Rolf and Dort P for teaching me how to order Scotch. :-) Then I didn't feel like quite such a bumpkin. Then we stocked up on camping foods at Safeway, and returned to pick up Inge. The girls were all staying with Lisa for the night. Poor Tim. He was quite outnumbered. But thank you Lisa for the extra cousin time.

On Friday, several of the Aunts and Grandma E got together at Nick's house to do the cooking for the rehearsal dinner and work on some last minute decorating items. I decided that with my crew, the hindrance would be perhaps more than any help I could give. But the Louisa and Elsie got to spend the day with Grandma and all the aunts and cousins. I think both girls would agree they had a great day.

Kathy and her family packed up in the early afternoon and headed to a hotel for the duration of the weekend. Thank you Kathy and Joel for spending that time with us. I know you must have been exhausted. (They had just returned a few days previously from their own family vacation to see Joel's family in WI.)

We all met up again at the rehearsal and dinner that night at Nick's parents' spread. They have a lovely home and yard and graciously provided many things to keep all the kids busy that evening and the day of the wedding. There was ping pong, a trampoline, volleyball and badmiton, and on Saturday, they had rented one of those blow up castles which kept the younger set busy all afternoon and evening.

Aimee had graciously provided Gluten Free pasta bake, bread, and cheesecake for Joe. Thanks you, Aimee!

On Saturday the festivities started at around 2:00 and went into the wee hours for those who chose to stay that long. We got everyone up and rolling and had breakfast and cleaned up. Then we started to focus on showers. We had planned to eat a cold lunch, but ran out of time. It always takes so long in a strange place and we didn't want to do any showering the day before and smell like smoke at the wedding. Campfire smoke is such a pervasive aroma in hair and clothes...

But we made it. Uncle Joel performed the ceremony, Cousins Christa, Ruth and Iver each had a variety of musical obligations. Aunt Kathy sang. Aunts Sarah and Emily were bridesmaids. Emily and Mitch had come from Scotland where they are studying in Edinburgh.

And Rachel and Nick were wed. Musn't forget that. It was, after all, the main attraction.

The reception was yet more visiting and more fun. Rachel and Nick had met when she was tending bar and he would come in for Karaoke, so in honor of that, they had Karaoke at the reception and many attendees took advantage of that, uh, popular cultural phenomenon. And they must really like the song, Big Green Tractor. I think I heard it at least three times. Nick and his family operate a heavy equipment construction/excavation company. I don't know if any of their tractors are green, however.

Oh, and it was Matt's 15th birthday that day, too. Happy Birthday, Matt! His dad bought him a skinning knife the next day. We have yet to have his "party." Once things settle down here and I have time to ask what he wants for his birthday dinner, I"ll get on it. He got kind of forgotten in all the visiting we were doing that day, but we love him all the same.

I have one more vacation journal to write. But I have a screaming baby presently.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Blog

Please note the list of books at right. That was really all I wanted. A list of what I'm currently reading and have read recently to show up on my blog.

I played with various gadgets and widgets and blidgets... Then Joe once again rescued me. In order to show this list, I had to start a whole new blog. Aha! Then I added a gadget that blogger calls a list. Hmm. This allows me to I show a list of recent posts I've made on one blog, on another blog. I've seen other blogs that do this and never gave a thought to how they accomplished such a feat. Now I know.

If you want to see more info about any of the books listed, please follow the links. I will try to keep it updated. I don't want to spend tons of time on it, so I'm limiting my entry to title, author, thumbs up or down. I'll include a brief review if I have time.

Hey What's up With That?

Some yahoo put this, "I just finished packing up to leave and am tired but look like I'm pouting and my hair ends are dyed red," picture of me from about a million years ago into my profile.

Thanks alot, you know who you are...

And I know who you are, don't forget it!
Update 3/8/10
I got tired of looking at this lovely picture on my profile. But really it is pretty funny, so I decided to keep it here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!