Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five: Pop Music

Mary Beth at RevGalBlogPals says:

“Happy Friday to you all!
The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives...”
1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?

We didn’t have a record player until I was about 11 years old, so up till then it was radio. From age 7 to 9 it was the Armed Forces Network, which had a lot of variety – everything from country and western to rock and roll to folk music, and a song called “I Just Want to Be Elvis Presley’s Sergeant.” When I was 10 I got my own clock radio and listened to WINS and another station from New York; the former was top 40 and the latter included Oscar Brand’s folk show, Martin Block’s Make-Believe Ballroom and even radio serials. I still like the folk and Great American Songbook genres best of all.

2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived") to you?

It’s hard to pick just one song for all of high school – maybe because I went to three of them? – but for the summer between high school and college there are three songs that take me right back whenever I hear them: The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha,

Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle


and Summer in the City by the Lovin’ Spoonful.

3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)

I typed in Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, and so far, 6 songs in, it’s the best luck I’ve ever had with Pandora. I called the station “Auntie Knickers’ Cheery Songs Radio.” However I can’t figure out how to share it other than by emailing everybody, which is just not on. I know there’s a way to put a link on Facebook but I don’t know how to do it. Anyway, there’s Kweskin, Tom Rush, Steve Goodman, Dave Van Ronk, and some other jug band, Dock Boggs – he’s singing “Hard Times in the Wise County Jail” but somehow it’s cheery.

Of course, if I’m really miserable, I play Christmas music out of season, but there are rules about that, so it doesn’t happen often.

4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?

Right this minute I’ll go with Emmylou Harris. But it could change tomorrow or even this afternoon. Can you guess I have eclectic tastes?
5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?

I can’t be doing with repetitious praise music. Other than that I like a lot of variety – from plainsong to Fanny Crosby, Bach to bluegrass. I’m pretty easy to please. One other thing I don’t like is lyrics that clunk – usually in modern hymns that sound more like a General Synod resolution than poetry in praise of God. I’m not mentioning any names.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five: Life is a Verb

Jan at RevGalBlogPals has been reading a book:

Digh, Patti. Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful,
and Live Intentionally.
Guilford, CT: Skirt!, 2008.

and she says:

"Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:
  • Say yes.
  • Be generous.
  • Speak up.
  • Love more.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Slow down.
As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday."

1. What awakens you to the present moment?
Usually something in nature.
2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
Rain, tree, wind moving leaves, blue pickup truck, Snowy Owl sign.
3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?
Love, care, comfort, create.
4. From the book on p. 197:
Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?
Awkward, often solitary, book-loving, generally happy -- that kid is still here inside me.
5. From the book on p. 88:
If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?
Where did we come from and how did our ancestors shape our lives today?
Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."
OK, right now it would be raindrop, raindrop, raindrop.... I'll try this later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Can't Resist a List: Update on the Guardian 1000

A while back I stated my intention to try to complete reading the Guardian's 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read. I figured that if I have (optimistically) 25 years of reading left, I could finish the books I hadn't already read by reading 40 of the books on the list each year -- leaving up to 160 books a year for "free reading." How am I doing?

My reading in general has fallen off this year, partly because I was working as an address canvasser for the Census Bureau for a couple of weeks. I fear that Facebook and other computer time-suckers are also partly to blame. I just finished the 75th book yesterday, so if I want to make it to 200 I'll need to step up the pace. Of the 75, 16 have been novels from the Guardian's list. Here they are, in alphabetical order with category:

Eric Ambler, Journey into Fear -- Crime

Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader -- Comedy

E. C. Bentley, Trent's Last Case -- Crime

W. E. Bowman, The Ascent of Rum Doodle -- Comedy

Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest -- Crime

Georgette Heyer, Regency Buck -- Love

David Lodge, Changing Places -- Comedy

Jack London, The Call of the Wild -- Travel and War

Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic -- Fantasy and Science Fiction

Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic -- Fantasy and Science Fiction

Terry Pratchett, Mort -- Fantasy and Science Fiction

Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites -- Fantasy and Science Fiction

Terry Pratchett, The Truth -- Fantasy and Science Fiction

Ruth Rendell, A Dark-Adapted Eye -- Crime

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea -- Love

Carol Shields, Unless -- Family and Self

I've posted reviews of all of these on Goodreads as Auntie Knickers, so I won't describe them here. This is as good a time as any to remark that the grand total of the 1000 Novels comes out to 1070 by my count. The Guardian reviewers had an annoying tendency to count a whole series as one novel, for example Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. I did not even attempt to count all of Balzac's La Comedie Humaine, which consists of 95 works, not all novels; I think if I make it through Old Goriot and Cousin Bette, which were listed separately, I'll be doing well.

I haven't challenged myself very much with the first 16 books, except for the Jean Rhys and Carol Shields titles. Although some took me longer to get through than others, I haven't yet felt that any was a waste of time nor have I found any unreadable. We'll see if that continues. I haven't yet read any of the books from the most intriguing category, State of the Nation, but I'm remedying that as I've just begun reading Nadine Gordimer's July's People.

So how am I getting hold of all these books? I bought The Uncommon Reader on a trip to Louise Erdrich's bookstore in Minneapolis, and already owned the London and Hammett titles in Library of America editions. I borrowed most of the Pratchetts from Temple Truck Woman, and bought The Ascent of Rum Doodle new, as it was unavailable in my library system. All the rest I've either borrowed from the library or bought at used book sales.

This project has added the thrill of the hunt to my forays into the many local used book sales. Nearly every library and non-profit around here seems to have a book sale at least once a year, and the selection is generally very good. Private garage sales and church bazaars usually have some books too. In most cases the prices range from 25 cents to a dollar, so for a small outlay I've added a shelf and a half or so of books from the list to those I already owned. And the really big book sale at our own local library is still to come at the end of the month! (They hold it in the junior high school gymnasium, and it's big.) I've bought books from the list, ranging from a nearly-100-year-old leatherette bound edition of Lorna Doone, to a battered mass market paperback of The Bourne Identity. After inadvertently buying a second copy of Middlesex, though, I now carry a list of the books I'm still looking for with me.

Speaking of the library, though, I won't need to purchase everything. I've done some catalog searching and have found the vast majority of the books available either at my local library or within Minerva, which includes town libraries and some smaller college libraries in Maine. Many of those not found in either of those catalogs are available through MaineCat, which includes our three most prestigious private colleges, the University of Maine, and the Portland and Bangor libraries. Many books I had thought to be quite obscure were readily available.

So, that's where I am with my list so far. If you've read any of the books listed above or are also plugging along with the Guardian's list, let me know in comments.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Five: Trader Joe's

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals has temptation coming her way! She reports:

"Gals and pals on the West and East coasts, and a few spots in between, may know of Trader Joe's--a quirky, well-stocked, well priced semi-gourmet store that attains near cult status among some. I discovered it through my Aunt Judy, who always brought a couple of their desserts to holiday parties....The best was a chocolate ganache torte that had my four year olds begging for it (and among the only four year olds on the planet to know what ganache is, presumably).

My family has happily Trader Joe'd in southernmost California, up to the Northwest, and back down to southern Cal. And now we're really excited because today a brand new Trader Joe is opening up across the street from our apartment. Wahoo! There are sure to be lots of tasty free samples on opening day and from now on we can just walk across the street to get a lot of our shopping done. I have a new spiritual directee coming tomorrow and she has already mentioned that she'll be stopping in on the way here, leaving me to be jealous cause I'll be spending that noon hour like, praying and preparing and study-vacuuming and everything, and won't be able to stop in till the afternoon.

So in honor of the new Trader Joe's, this week's Friday Five is all about food shopping.

1. Grocery shopping--love it or hate it?
I lean toward the "love" side, mostly. I don't like to do it in a rushed manner, I like to look at all the interesting things for sale, check labels and unit pricing, and generally just appreciate it. When I travel, I enjoy seeing the different things in supermarkets in different areas of the country.

2. Who is the primary food shopper in your household?
It's hard to say because I usually write the list, whether I'm actually going along or not. Onkel Hankie Pants doesn't fit the stereotype of the male grocery shopper -- he generally just buys what's on the list, so to avoid temptation I sometimes let him go alone.

3. Do you have a beloved store like TJ's which is unique to your location or family?
There is nothing like Trader Joe's here as far as I know, the closest one is somewhere near Boston. Our Hannaford's supermarket is quite good, but what I really appreciate are our meat market, Bisson's, a vertically-integrated business (that is, they actually raise the beef and pork, cut it, and sell it, and Grandmere makes the meat pies); the Sausage Kitchen in another nearby town with a great variety of sausage; and the farmer's markets where, in addition to vegetables and fruit, we can get local cheese, relishes and preserves. The natural foods store on the corner and even the supermarket also carry breads from local bakers. And an old friend of my father's has a seafood business on the wharf. By the way, Bisson's also has dairy, and their heavy cream is really, really heavy!

4. How about a farmer's market, or CSA share, as we move into summer? Or do you grow your own fruits/veggies/herbs?
I've never quite been brave enough to do the CSA thing, but the farmer's market is great. We have one twice a week on the Mall (most New England towns would call it the Green or the Common, but ours is the Mall), which I can walk to, another one on Saturdays at a local CSA farm/educational place, and other nearby towns have them too on other days. In blueberry season we know a place on Rte. 1 where there's a great farm stand, and soon it will be time to visit the pick-your-own strawberry place.

5. What's the favorite thing you buy at the grocery store?
I'd have to say --- coffee and tea. We could not grow these ourselves here, nor could anyone else. I would miss bananas and citrus fruit, but maybe I could go on without them, but coffee and tea are where our locavore principles really break down. We get Wicked Joe coffee, which is locally roasted just down the bike path.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Five: Moving and Changing

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sally from the UK is anticipating big changes -- a new position for her is already in transitional stages, her husband is interviewing for a post, and they will definitely be moving. She says:

"ALL IS CHANGE.... and although I am looking forward to it, it is not without a sense of trepidation, as change always brings challenges.

Changing location also means packing, so next month will be a month of clearing and sorting, deciding what comes and what gets left behind...

So with change in mind I offer you this Friday five; ( if you've never moved here's a chance to use your imagination)

1. A big move is looming, name one thing that you could not possibly part with, it must be packed ?
Christmas ornaments we have collected over the years -- and a relatively few other things that have sentimental or artistic value. Everything else can be replaced.
2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind...
The ugly smelly recliner we bought for $25 out of Uncle Henry's for Onkel Hankie Pants to sit in while watching tv/videos. The only reason it's not gone now is that the tv room is on the second floor. (We didn't realize how smelly it was until recently when OHP figured out where the smell of cigarette smoke was coming from....)
3. How do you prepare for a move

a. practically?
I did this a few years ago and I hope I never have to do it again...clearing out, going through boxes that had not been unpacked since they entered the house, getting rid of stuff, packing, loading, making arrangements...and, although we'd sworn we'd never do it that way again, we did not hire professional movers. Whew!
b. spiritually/ emotionally?

All the moves of my adult life have been voluntary, but growing up as an Army brat I experienced several moves over which I had no control. I suppose then that it was my parents who taught me to deal with moving by anticipating the good things about the new place, while remembering the good times in the old place. Having so many ways of keeping in touch with people is certainly a help now.

4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place?
The public library!

5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location?
I settle in fairly easily as far as location -- where things are, how to get around, where to get stuff. It is taking more time for me to do the people part after 30 years in one place; fortunately I had a partial social circle ready-made here in my extended family.

The bonus for today; a new opportunity has come up for you to spend 5 years in a new area, where would you go and why?

Five years is a long time, so I really would view this with some trepidation, I'd try to negotiate down to a year or two ... but still I would choose England. I'd come hang out with Sally!