In January I Read…

Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
I alternately loved and absolutely abhorred the heroine, respecting her spunk and tenacity one minute and despising her weakness for Southern high society the next.  I also pictured Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable the. entire. time.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy was a one sitting read to be sure, briefly broken only for mock duck pad thai, medium spiciness of course.

Farm City – Novella Carpenter
This fantastic book makes every aspect of urban farming seem utterly approachable and delightful (albeit almost certainly messy).  I want backyard chickens and raised beds brimming with vegetables immediately.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
I couldn’t resist the final installation of the Hunger Games trilogy.  These books are like candy; addictive yet easily forgotten once consumed.  Worth reading for the sheer adrenaline thrill, but as with many series I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending.

Mathilda Savitch – Victor Lodato
Fabulous and utterly disarming.  Novels written from the voice of an adolescent can be quite awful or spot on, and this was certainly the latter.
“I want something else, but the words for it haven’t been invented yet.”

Plenty – Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
This was my second read of this delightful account of a year of local eating (something I don’t often do because there are JUST SO MANY wonderful books in the world, so why return to the same ones all the time?) in British Columbia, a place I hope to visit that is so near and dear to my other heart home, the Puget Sound area.
“Making jam had taken all afternoon and evening, but the last thing I’d call it was work.  It was living.”

A fun postscript: one of the Freshly Pressed posts of today is also about books read in January!  And the author and I not only have two books in common, but another of her reviews is of a book that’s in my library queue.  What a small, beautiful world…

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Positive Practices for Changing the World (and Your Life Too!)

I ended the work day yesterday by reading a few articles from Yes! Magazine, and would highly suggest the practice; Yes! is a perfect panacea for a day of drudgery, for the repetitive and downtrodden daily routine it is all to easy to fall into.  Positive yet not blindly idealistic, Yes! brought back my ‘this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life’ fervor, particularly with this fabulous list of 31 Ways to Jump Start the Local Economy.

This list was affirming not only of my view of how the world and economy should really work, but because it lists several ‘how tos’ that I was surprised to realize my friends and family already pursue!

4. Pay off debts. Try life without credit cards. (even though so many people say it’s impossible)
12. Form a dinner club and hold a weekly potluck, or trade off cooking and hosting. (we don’t do weekly yet, but do host monthly potlucks)
23. Start a local currency or time dollar program to help link needs and offerings, those with time and those starved for time. (props to my mother for starting a Time Bank in Naperville!)

In addition to Yes!’s fabulous list of building community and the local economy, a fellow potluck attendee this past week had a marvelous ‘simplifying and clarifying one’s life practice’:
Write down everything you do for a week and divide the various tasks and endeavors into a ‘more’ and ‘less’ list for the future.

Through observation and intentionality we can live a life of joy.

Geek Interlude- Pokeballs and CONvergence

We now break for our regularly scheduled programming of poetry and sustainability for a moment of geekery.

If I didn’t already adore Pokemon, I would after discovering this. –>

Everything about Pokemon is just…delightful.  Adorable creatures?  Check.  Powers based on elements?  Check.  Easily accessible culture and game for children and nerdy adults alike with innumerable permutation (cards, video games, board game, etc)?  Check.

I got into Pokemon waaaay late in the game.  When I was in my early 20s to be precise.  But Pokemon love evolved into playing D&D, and the rest is history.

The other important geekery in my life at present: I registered for CONvergence.  The theme is Wonder Women.  Tamora Pierce, one of my absolute favorite fantasy writers of my young adult life, will be there.  I am taking any and all ideas for awesome costumes as well as friends who want to join me for this extravaganza 🙂

In and Out in 2012

I’m finally catching up on some of my favorite blogs (and should note that I have an insane 69 blogs in my Google Reader feed, though they don’t all post frequently, and some of them ever anymore), and came across this great piece from Transition Voice on what’s really in and out for 2012.  A few highlights:

Out: Jobs.  In: Free Time.
Out: Lawns.  In: Edible Landscaping.
Out: Seth Godin.  In: Wendell Berry.
Out: Wii.  In: Climbing Trees.

A few I’d add for my own life, some of them reframed from items in the article’s list:

Out: Cell phones.  In: Handwritten letters.
Out: Screen time.  In: Garden time.
Out: Worrying.  In: Creating.

Whether 2012 brings the apocalypse, a dreadful natural disaster, even more political upheaval, or nothing negative of substance at all, I want to live it heartily, in real time, doing what I love and spending time with the many marvelous people I am lucky enough to call kindred spirits.

The Life List.

I find myself in a ‘what is my greater purpose?’ sort of funk (see page 8).  And I recently watched The Bucket List.  So, thanks to the inspiration of Cartoons and Creative Writing, I’m drafting my own.  Bucket list that is, but I’m going to call it my Life List because several things last longer than a one time experience.

1. Visit all seven continents in a meaningful way (ie more than just one city for one conference like I did for South America).
2. Write something worth sharing with the world, and maybe get it published.
3. Raise chickens or ducks.  And bees.
4. Eat locally for a year, a la The 100 Mile Diet.  Afterward, continue the practice as much as possible.
5. Live in a spiritual community (like Plum Village) for a time.  Discover practices that I can bring back to my daily life.
6. See the Northern Lights.
7. Never own a car.
8. Go winter camping.
9. Hike the Appalachian Trail.
10. Bike the Mississippi River Trail.
11. Learn a craft like wood or metal working, and create something beautiful and useful to pass on to the next generation.
12. Find a mentor.  And eventually, be a mentor.
13. Live off the grid, whether it is by building a generator to produce my own power in the city or by eventually living in a rural community that creates its own power.
14. Figure out what kind of diet makes me feel good (ie not eating dairy and/or gluten, more greens, less caffeine, etc), and actually follow it.
15. Write a letter a week to a friend, relative, or person I admire.
16. Climb a mountain.  A big one, like Kilimanjaro or K2.
17. Love deeply and unreservedly.

Words to Live By: Jane Goodall

“There are many windows through
which we can look out into the
world, searching for meaning …

…Most of us, when we ponder on the
meaning of our existence,
peer through but one of these
windows onto the world.
And even that one is often misted over
by the breath of our finite humanity.

We clear a tiny peephole and stare through.

No wonder we are confused by the
tiny fraction of a whole that we see.

It is, after all, like trying to
comprehend the panorama of the
desert or the sea through
a rolled-up newspaper.”

—Jane Goodall

(thanks again to the Parabola weekly e-newsletter for their wonderful photos and excerpts that provide frequent bursts of inspiration)

Our Serenity

No house for Ben and I, for now.  Instead we’ve obtained this beautiful creature, thanks to a Craigslist ad heads up from a friend and a wonderful, similarly heighted couple from Wisconsin.


Love can certainly come in bicycle form.  Adventures to the Garlic Festival, a music festival, and possibly along the Mississippi River Trail lie ahead to be sure.

What joyously spontaneous decision have you made as of late?