sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 27, 2008

late start, heirloom, and traditions
posted by soe 11:20 pm

Three beautiful things from this Thanksgiving Thursday:

1. We got off to a later start than planned Wednesday for our 8-hour drive north. We missed all traffic jams and, because of our timing on 95, managed to bail onto an alternate route to avoid heavy delays in Maryland and Delaware.

2. John set up his Christmas tree for Sunday’s watching of the Steven Colbert Christmas special. The tree is a Charlie Brown affair, but was his parents’ first tree after they got married way back when.

3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Alice’s Restaurant.” The Macy’s Day Parade, ending with the arrival of Santa Claus. The Dunkin’ Donuts run with Dad. Cooking as a family. I love them all, year after year.

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ten thanks
posted by soe 9:39 pm

The blog I’m writing at work is keeping me very busy these days (it’s hard when you have to learn some scientific thing before you can write a post), so I’m stealing blog fodder from Carole.

Ten Things I Am Thankful for This Year:

  1. Rudi. I’m lucky to have found someone (generally) whose strengths balance out my weaknesses. He loves his bikes and his skis, but he loves me and the cats more (on most days). He has good taste in music, a commanding touch at the stove, and a keen sense of humor. Oh, and he’s willing to deal with bugs in various states of liveliness.
  2. Family. Rudi and I are lucky. We both have our parents in good health and general good spirits. Rudi’s mom is a dear — giving of both time and resources. My grandmother remains feisty, if a bit slower than she once was. She has given up driving recently, but because she lives with my folks, I don’t have to worry about her ability to get out and about. We’re up in Connecticut this weekend and I look forward to spending time with everyone.
  3. Good friends. I have two great friends from my high school years, both of whom I treasure dearly. This has been a tremendous year for Karen and Danny, both of whom have added husbands this year, and I’m so happy for them. My college friends remain true, even as we spread out and add spouses and children to the mix. I love hearing from them — regardless of what they’ve been up to or how long it’s been. My friends from Wesleyan are doing interesting things — grad school and internships and the like. Shelley and I chat most days on IM, and I value the perspectives she brings to my life. And my D.C. friends… Life would be so hard without you. Whether it’s the folks I’ve met through work, with whom I share knitting or books, or the Dean friends who have become my family away from my family, I don’t know what Rudi and I would do if you weren’t part of our lives. And then I have the online friends I’ve met through blogs and through Ravelry. My fingers may never drip with jewels and my income will certainly never be large, but in friendships I am rich and that’s enough for me.
  4. Three funny cats. Della, Jeremiah, and Posey make my life richer every day. A cat curled up in my lap or behind my head while I’m knitting or reading is about as good as it gets. They’re soft and healthy and are fine hunters. Plus, they know to wake Rudi up in the early hours of the morning, not me.
  5. Good health. A little crazy. A little sad. A little overweight. But generally good. And I’ll work on the rest.
  6. A good job with great coworkers. What I do for a living isn’t my dream occupation. But it has a mission I believe in, a remarkably competent manager, and colleagues who are dedicated to the success of the project. I’d say that’s a highly desirable, if rare, combination.
  7. A nice neighborhood. I complain sometimes about the periodic flooding and the lack of space in the Burrow, but we’ve stayed here for five years because we adore the neighborhood. Bookstores, fancy restaurants, regular restaurants, coffee shops, museums, a tea house, fountains, parks, bike lanes, a hardware store, all-night drug stores, a library, trees, a community garden… Okay, so we no longer have a movie theater, but there isn’t much else I can complain about…
  8. Fun vacations. France was a terrific place to visit and I really enjoyed my time there. A coworker asked if I thought she ought to go visit a family member living abroad even if the tickets were a bit pricier than she could afford. I told her that travel — particularly to another country — was always a good investment and to go for it. I also got to go camping at the folk festival with Shelley and her family again this year. It may have ended with a tornado, hail, and tremendous rain, but it also included good music, late night talks with Shelley, and time with the kiddos.
  9. Enjoyable hobbies. I may have stockpiled enough yarn and books for a significant snowstorm… And reading and knitting make me very happy. I have a camera that takes great shots. I have a blog where I can share my thoughts. Rudi and I have more music than some low-frequency radio stations.
  10. A positive outlook. Sometimes I forget that I have a pretty upbeat feeling about life and what to expect from it. And, yes, sometimes that means I end up getting hurt when it doesn’t live up to my hopes or expectations. But I like looking forward to things. I like believing people are generally good and want to be good to each other. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I think it’s a good belief to tend toward. And I think that the 2008 election results suggest I’m not in the minority of people who are looking for a positive future.

What are you thankful for this year?

Beautiful things in a few hours…

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November 24, 2008

monday morning music: thanksgiving
posted by soe 12:24 pm

It’s been one of those mornings. The sort where you cough and sneeze and use up the last tissue in the box and even that second tankard of tea doesn’t seem to help too much. The kind where you discover ten minutes after you should have left for work that the thing you knew you needed to go to the drugstore for yesterday, but couldn’t quite remember was deodorant, because you’d used yours up and thrown it out. The type where even if you hadn’t seen the calendar, you’d know it was a Monday, just because it had that can’t-quite-get-it-together feeling.

So in honor of that, I’m reviving Monday Morning Music. I think we need it…

Light, but sweet:

And here’s a song you have to head to YouTube to check out. It’ll take practically all morning to play, so put it on in the background, turn it up, and go about your business. Oh, but don’t forget to sing out when the chorus comes around. You’ll be part of a worldwide movement.

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a bookish meme
posted by soe 1:34 am

USA Today‘s Top Selling Books of the Last 15 Years Meme

(Blatantly stolen from Maggie)

Here are the rules: Bold what you’ve read, italicize what you own, turn blue books on your TBR list.

1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
2 Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution – Robert C. Atkins
3 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

10 Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson
11 The South Beach Diet – Arthur Agatston
12 Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
13 Angels & Demons – Dan Brown
14 What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Murkoff, etal.
15 The Purpose-Driven Life – Rick Warren
16 The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
17 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
18 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
19 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray
20 The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
21 Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki
22 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
23 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – and It’s All Small Stuff – Richard Carlson
24 The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
25 Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
26 Twilight – Stephenie Meyer
27 The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
28 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards
29 The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
30 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
31 A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
32 Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
33 The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
34 Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
35 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
36 Body-for-Life – Bill Phillips, Michael D’Orso
37 New Moon – Stephenie Meyer
38 Night – Elie Wiesel
39 Chicken Soup for the Soul – Jack Canfield, etal.
40 The Greatest Generation – Tom Brokaw
41 Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer
42 The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield
43 Wicked – Gregory Maguire
44 Good to Great – Jim Collins
45 Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
46 Eragon – Christopher Paolini
47 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells
48 Your Best Life Now – Joel Osteen
49 In the Kitchen With Rosie – Rosie Daley
50 Simple Abundance – Sarah Ban Breathnach
51 A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer
52 A Million Little Pieces – James Frey
53 The Testament – John Grisham
54 Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul – Jack Canfield, etal.
55 Deception Point – Dan Brown
56 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
57 Marley & Me – John Grogan
58 Dr. Atkins’ New Carbohydrate Gram Counter – Robert C. Atkins
59 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
60 The Brethren – John Grisham
61 The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide – Arthur Agatston
62 The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town – John Grisham
63 For One More Day – Mitch Albom
64 The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
65 The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
66 The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow
67 What to Expect the First Year – Arlene Eisenberg, etal.
68 Love You Forever – Robert Munsch
69 Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Seuss
70 A Painted House – John Grisham
71 The Rainmaker – John Grisham
72 Skipping Christmas – John Grisham
73 Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
74 The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
75 Life Strategies – Phillip C. McGraw
76 Seabiscuit: An American Legend – Laura Hillenbrand
77 The Summons – John Grisham
78 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
79 The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
80 The Runaway Jury – John Grisham
81 Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
82 The Perfect Storm – Sebastian Junger
83 Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson
84 The Giver – Lois Lowry
85 Embraced by the Light – Betty J. Eadie
86 The Chamber – John Grisham
87 You: On A Diet – Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
88 The Prayer of Jabez – Bruce Wilkinson
89 Holes – Louis Sachar
90 Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
91 The Shack – William P. Young
92 The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger
93 Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
94 A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
95 The Seat of the Soul – Gary Zukav
96 Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul – Jack Canfield, etal.
97 The Partner – John Grisham
98 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
99 Eldest: Inheritance, Book II – Christopher Paolini
100 The Broker – John Grisham
101 The Street Lawyer – John Grisham
102 A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
103 The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
104 Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
105 The King of Torts – John Grisham
106 The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
107 The Horse Whisperer – Nicholas Evans
108 Hannibal – Thomas Harris
109 The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama
110 Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs
111 The Glass Castle: A Memoir – Jeannette Walls
112 My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
113 The Last Juror – John Grisham
114 The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
115 Left Behind – Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins
116 America (The Book) – Jon Stewart
117 The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
118 John Adams – David McCullough
119 The Christmas Box – Richard Paul Evans
120 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares
121 Sugar Busters! – Leighton Steward, etal.
122 Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
123 The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
124 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life – Don Piper
125 The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
126 1776 – David McCullough
127 The Bridges of Madison County – Robert James Waller
128 Where the Heart Is – Billie Letts
129 The Ultimate Weight Solution – Phillip C. McGraw
130 Protein Power – Mr. & Mra. Michael R. Eades
131 Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul – Jack Canfield, etal.
132 Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
133 *Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
134 Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
135 You: The Owner’s Manual – Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
136 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List – Patricia Schultz
137 Self Matters – Phillip C. McGraw
138 She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
139 1984 – George Orwell
140 The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
141 The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley
142 The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
143 The Zone – Barry Sears, Bill Lawren
144 The Pilot’s Wife – Anita Shreve
145 The Lost World – Michael Crichton
146 Atonement – Ian McEwan
147 He’s Just Not That Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo
148 Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
149 The World Is Flat – Thomas L. Friedman
150 Cross – James Patterson

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November 23, 2008

eighteen hours
posted by soe 2:25 am

So I’ve been up for 18 hours. Somehow I thought that time would be more productive…

I did:

  • Talk to Karen
  • Finish The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Start a Christmas present
  • Do a load of laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Empty my suitcase
  • Do dishes
  • Pay bills
  • Drink a lot of tea
  • Print a cd label
  • Upload some photos to Flickr

I did not:

  • Mop the bathroom
  • Mail a package
  • Make Christmas cookie dough
  • Bake
  • Invite people to our tree-trimming party
  • Rearrange the kitchen cabinets
  • Tidy the bookshelves
  • Put away the camping gear in the hallway
  • Hang up my clothes

There were other things I meant to do. Those were just the most obvious ones…

Eighteen hours just don’t stretch far enough…

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November 20, 2008

anticipation, reliving, and appreciation
posted by soe 2:43 pm

Disappeared on you there, didn’t I? Sorry about that. But, gosh, I’ve been tired! I did manage to drag myself to knitting last night, but only because it was on the way home. Rudi and I are heading to a 7 p.m. movie preview tonight, so hopefully that will help me feel a bit more peppy during the evening hours…

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Just before we left, they covered over Macy’s windows in the downtown store to prep them for the holiday display. The poster I saw this morning says the store will unveil them next Tuesday evening. It’s always exciting to see how they choose to decorate.

2. It’s been such fun looking at the photos Rudi and I took in France. (Rudi has started to get his online, but I’m a bit slower. I’m hoping to get them up over the weekend. Definitely before Thanksgiving.) I love how evocative photos are in putting you right back into a moment.

3. Posey, Jeremiah, and Della were very excited to have us home and seem intent upon preventing us from leaving the house again. John is a sweetheart and took good care of them for us, but we’re their people and they love us best. It’s good to come home to that.

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