Sunday, April 29, 2012

Waiting for Baby

When I was a little girl my mother read me a book called The New Baby, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. It was a little Golden Book. The images were exquisite and formed my imagination. Even though I'm the oldest of six children and had plenty of opportunity to see what a nine-month pregnant woman and a red-faced, squalling newborn and a house full of hyper-active new siblings looks like in real life, these are the images that formed me.

My daughters and I are at my sister's house, waiting for her baby boy to arrive.  Her third son.  And it's still these images that come to mind.  

Source: via V_Smith on Pinterest

Friday, April 27, 2012

Monday Mix Tape & 7 Quick Takes mash up (the wedding and baby edition)

It's time for a new look here on Mondays.  This week we're looking at art that caught my attention over the past couple of weeks. Last week  I promised that this week would be all wedding all the time and I plan to keep my word!


track 1:  photograph

taken by father/daughter photogs extraordinaire, Jamie and Emily Arnold

Happy Ryan & Macia feet become dancing husband and wife feet.

track 2:  dancing music!

Reception Dance Music on Grooveshark

track 3:  food art 

Macia planned an entire handmade old-fashioned carnival themed reception.  It was beautiful and I'll share more photos when I get a chance.  For now, you might enjoy trying this recipe for colored popcorn.

track 4:  poetry

Doesn't the world demand
We dance?
Doesn't it insist on it?
And why not?
At the leaves,
Look at the weeds.
Look at the least blade
Of grass in the breeze.

None of them begs off
Or offers excuses.

None of them refuses.

              -- by Gregory Orr, from Image Journal, Number 66 

track 5: video [Thriller dance at the reception]

Thanks to my cousin Megan for recording this on her phone!

p.s., I've been traveling the Northeast the past week, for the wedding and now visiting my sister in PA waiting for her to go into labor any minute now I'm late posting Monday Mixtape.  Says I, why work harder than I have to?  I've got 5 tracks on my weekly mixtape.  I'll 2 Quick Takes and call myself accomplished!
--- 6 ---
Yesterday I told you I was throwing my lot in with the other generous bloggers donating items in Couponing for Community 2012.  I wish I'd seen my sister's post first because she said it so much better.  Click here to read her story.

--- 7 ---
 Also, my sister did all that while looking like this. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

it's here: Couponing for Community!

Me blogging about couponing is kind of like Lady Ga-Ga blogging vegetarian dress patterns, but I'm related to the founder of this cause and figure I could jump on board this year. 

And so....

I'm excited to share with you about Couponing for Community 2012.  It's an opportunity to join with couponers nationwide to GIVE BIG.  Simply use your couponing skills to give to a homeless shelter, food pantry, or a friend in need during the week of May 6-12, 2012.   Then head to the Couponing for Community Facebook page to add the number of your donation items to the tally.  (We love pictures too!)

The goal this year?  30,000 items donated  in one week's time!  Last year, we blew away our goal, and we know that together we can do it again!

May 12 is also national Stamp out Hunger Day, so giving can be as easy as putting a bag of non-perishable food items out by your mailbox on Saturday, May 12.

In the meantime, head over and 'like' the Couponing for Community Facebook page to get connected with other couponers in the C4C community.  Then start setting aside items to give during the week of May 6-12.  I'll be sure to post a reminder when the time gets closer!  You are not going to want to miss this chance to flex our couponing muscles for GOOD!

It probably goes without saying that you don't have to use coupons to donate food.  You're more than welcome to just plain old donate food and hygiene items any where during the week of May 6-12. (but if you want some great couponing tips, may I recommend Cha-Ching On A Shoestring?!?)

Hope you can come join the fun!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

this weekend is for wedding days!

Friday, April 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes! birthday demands, Texas wildflowers, Atlas Arrows and more!

Here's a few more things that happened during my Lenten blog fast. (plus, a few things that have happened since.)

--- 1 ---

My daughter and I turned another year older on March 9 & 10.

This is what we looked like together on our birthdays the second year I was blogging (2007).

--- 2 ---

This was Kendra's SIXTEENTH birthday!  We had a pancake party with lots of people cramming together in our kitchen, eating bacon and dripping syrup.  Kendra made a list of birthday demands.  Balloons were at the top of the list.

--- 3 ---
For my birthday, I made no demands and still got the best presents ever!  Also, Andrew made one of the most delicious dinners I've ever tasted.  It looked like this.

Maybe if you leave enough requests in the comments box, he'd even share the recipes this time.

--- 4 ---

On Silent Saturday (aka, Holy Saturday) I went by myself to the Wildflower Center to pray and write letters to people I needed to ask forgiveness.  I wish I had better pictures of the spring colors popping up everywhere there's grass in Austin.  Here's one taken by my friend Mark. (you know, that guy from Raising Jane?)

All through the months of September, October and November we mourned the loss of New York autumns. That was before we knew anything about Texas springs.  God bless Lady Bird Johnson.

--- 5 ---

The day after Easter our friend Tyler came to spend a few days.  He's really my sons' friend, but we all like him a lot and wish we could figure out a way to force invite him to move to Austin.

listening to some of Ty's new recorded tunes

You might remember Tyler from Where's Ulysses.  Now he's playing gigs and recording tunes with Atlas Arrows, a new band (made up of most of the same people, minus my sons).  

                                               --- 6 ---

You can listen to them, too.  Click here!!

                                                                             --- 7 ---

Tomorrow my brother Ryan will marry our beloved Macia.  We are in New York celebrating every single second with our family and friends.  It's a pretty safe bet that next week's 7 Quick Takes will be all wedding, all the time. 

Here's a picture of the bride and groom-to-be.  It's a long story, but you should know that I take full credit for them falling in love.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

from the book pile, 2012: Annie Dillard, Veronica Roth

I've been working my way through the tower of books teetering off the antique writing desk that serves as my nightstand.  Working my way through reading and working my way through the thoughts and learnings each title provokes.

When I first started this blog in 2006 one of my goals was to nurture a forum that kept me accountable for the cultural goods I consume.  Of course, I didn't really know then to articulate the goal in those terms.  The truth dawns gradually: as in in worship so as in culture -- I did not make it, but it is making me.

Having also gotten quite clear with the truth that I will never be a professional book reviewer, I've let myself off the hook and changed up the way I document my reading.

Every new year, I consider making a number goal for books read in the coming twelve months.  It's never a good idea; rather takes away the enjoyment of arriving at December 31 and tallying up titles from the previous year.  Feels like an accomplishment no matter the number.  Hope you enjoy!


Author:  Annie Dillard

Genre: non-fiction, essay

Published: Harper & Row, 1977

General Impression:  It's only 76 pages, so why in the world has it taken me this long to read this well-loved volume of essays by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dillard?  I don't know, but now that I've read it I guess it really doesn't matter because I've tucked the words and images from this slim volume right into place between all the other Annie Dillard treasures already sunk away into my memory and imagination.  And a shimmery store of treasures it is!

Reading these essays felt almost like an epilogue of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  Once again the author is hidden away in a pleasant burrow of nature -- this time an island in the Puget Sound.  Once again Dillard cuts herself off from all distractions threatening to blind her vision what's really going in this dusty earth.  In Holy the Firm, she sits in a wooden room furnished with "one enormous window, one cat, one spider and one person" and writes minutia and tragedy with the same pen, the moth in the candle flame and the girl falling out of the sky, each receiving the same deft touch.  And, thus, adds her voice to the immortal conversation of how much good is in a God.  

Speaking of that spider... (from chapter 1, "Newborn and Salted"):

"There is a spider, too, in the bathroom, with whom I sort of keep company. Her little outfit always reminds me of a certain moth I helped to kill. The spider herself is of uncertain lineage, bulbous at the abdomen and drab. Her six-inch mess of a web works, works somehow, works miraculously, to keep her alive and me amazed. The web itself is in a corner behind the toilet, connecting tile wall to tile wall and floor, in a place where there is, I would have thought, scant traffic. Yet under the web are sixteen or so corpses she has tossed to the floor."

Another favorite excerpt, of the sort both anomalous and particular (from chapter 3, "Holy the Firm"):

"I know only enough of God to want to worship him, by any means ready to hand. There is an anomalous specificity to all our experience in space, a scandal of particularity, by which God burgeons up or showers down into the shabbiest of occasions, and laves his creation's dealings with him in the hands of purblind and clumsy amateurs. This is all we are and all we ever were; God kann nicht anders.  This process in time is history; in space, at such shocking random, it is mystery."


Author:  Veronica Roth

Genre: fiction (technically YA Fantasy & Science Fiction)

Published: Katherine Tegen Books, 2011

General Impression:  Good golly, what a fun read!  Although, I have to confess I was reading this while everyone else in the world seemed to be reading a certain other trilogy.  Just another example in a long line of how I'm never quite in the right place at the right time.  It was my mother-of-teenagers ego that drove me to read this book in the first place.  Natalie reads through YA fiction series faster than Harry Potter rides a broom, Katniss shoots an arrow,  Percy takes on a duel and Bella changes beaus. You could almost say reading through YA fiction series is her superpower.  And she doesn't just read, she lives the stories.  Takes up the calls for justice, suffering of the underdog, angst of the unrequited love.  

So, I thought I'd earn some points by beating her to the next series on her list.  I entered the world of YA fiction and it was glorious.  I couldn't put the book down, yelling updates through the house with each turn of fate, racing through the pages describing the first kiss, imaging what tattoo I would get if I belonged to the Dauntless faction. (which I'd never, ever -- no matter how many days left to the end of the world as we know it -- would be a Dauntless.  Candor, maybe, even though I fancy myself making it into the Erudite.)

Natalie's learned a skill as a YA reader that she failed to pass along to her bumbling mother.  Never, ever invest yourself in a series until at least two of the books are already available.  Now I'm left waiting for the sequel.  The wait will be over.  Soon

synopsis from Goodreads:
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Excerpt from really excellent opening page:

"There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.

I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind me with the scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blond ring.

When she finishes, she pulls my hair away from my face and twists it into a knot. I note how calm she looks and how focused she is. She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself. I can't say the same of myself."

Speaking of excellent opening paragraphs, here's a note about the author Veronica Roth:

She's 23 years old.  What more do you need to know?  

Here's the story of how she got a book deal after only being on submission four days.

Here's the story of how she sold film rights to her very first published book.  AND she's 23 years old.  

I wanted to hate her but then I watched this video of her jumping into a bathtub full of marshmellows and decided to like her instead.  And to follow her blog.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

i got saved today

God always entices us through love. 
Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves you “when” you change (“moralism”). It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being "saved.” Moralism leads you back to “navel-gazing” and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a gift.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Mixtape :: 16 april (and a new look)

It's time for a new look here on Mondays.  This week we're looking at art that caught my attention over the past couple of weeks.  They happen to be somewhat connected on the theme of farms; other than that, my brain's pretty tired and good art makes me happy.

I hope you enjoy, too!

p.s., if you don't have time to take in all 5 tracks this week, don't miss the Wendell Berry poem in track 4!

track 1: painting

                                                                          Source: via Tamara on Pinterest

track 2:  music

County Farm Blues by Son House on Grooveshark

County Farm Blues
Son House

track 3:  short film

Tiger in a Jar: fig + fauna farm

track 4:  poem

Practice resurrection

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry
"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage (1973)

track 5:  links

Christ Church Garden: (please note the world's best tag line ever) awesome since 2012!

from the website:
Christ Church Garden is a partnership between Christ Church Austin and Genesis Gardens through the Seed Sower’s program. Our goal is to feed the homeless of Austin through local, sustainable, organic gardening while we support Genesis Gardens as they not only feed, but empower the homeless of Austin. This blog post is a good overview of the program and it’s leader, Steven Hebbard. You can contact me to volunteer or with any questions at

my note:  Since coming to Austin, we have come to love many, many people, but none more than the inimitable, bow-tie-wearing, country horse veterinarian, pipe-crafting Matt Evans.  He oversees the garden and the blog.  He's pretty awesome himself.

Happy Monday, y'all!

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