Second update on Fall Into Reading

Since the last update, I have completed these on my list:

  • The Story Girl by L. M. Montgomery (a 999 book) – pleasant read about a group of children and the stories they live and hear.
  • The Girl in the Orange Dress by Margot Starbuck (a 999 book and book club) – autobiography of a woman who has come to terms with being adopted and with the love of Christ. She writes well and it was a very interesting read. It has already sparked some discussion and will be an interesting book club night.
  • Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (a 999 book) – I read half of it and it’s rather surprising. Readable  (David Wright translated) and much more bawdy than I expected. But, I have too many other things that I want to read, so I’m moving on with this unfinished.

Added to the official list:

  • Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery (a 999 book) – another great book. This one had a really wonderful scene of a young girl realizing her great-grandmother was also a young girl once.

These still to finish:

  • Selected Writings of Thomas Aquinas (a 999 book)
  • A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
  • Wings of Fire by Charles Todd

I’ve read these extras:

  • Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) by Angie Sage. A friend brought this book to the beach to read and I ended up reading it instead. Fun reading so her son should enjoy it!
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I picked this up at a used bookstore at the beach and realized as I read it that I had read it before but didn’t remember enough to spoil it for me. Having recently read Jane Eyre this was fun. Quirky humor.
  • Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. The 2nd volume. Lots of fun
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, because it was referenced in the 3rd vol of the Thursday Next series. Much darker than I realized or remembered. I won’t put it on my list to read again, but I can see why it sticks around.
  • The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. The 3rd volume. The chapter on Wuthering Heights made a LOT more sense after reading WH, so I’m glad I took the time to do it. I’m focusing on 999 books, then I’ll jump back in to this series.
  • Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World by David Jeremiah. Good biblical reminders of what we have, Who we trust, and how we are to respond.
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Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World

cover_DJeremiahLiving With Confidence in a Chaotic World by David Jeremiah is my latest Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers pick.

As expected, the message is biblical, relevant, and encouraging. The writing is comfortable and easy to read. After an introduction that reminds us, in some very interesting ways, just how chaotic things have gotten in the past year, Dr. Jeremiah calmly and patiently reminds us of great truths. He consistently points to Christ as our Savior and only hope.

I am consistently in need of reminders of what God has done for me, what He promises me, and how I should respond. This book is a great reminder, every chapter provides Scripture and practical evidence of the Truth and what my response should be.

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On friendship

Friendship is a good thing. Friendship is a hard thing. It can be easy and shallow and wide and life is just always fun. But if you do it right, it gets messy and you don’t always say the right things or even have the right things to say.

Years ago Anthony and I started meeting with a few couples to have dinner, get to know each other better, discuss marriage, and build a foundation. The point was a long-term plan, so that if any of us ever ran into troubles, we’d have others we trusted and knew that we could turn to. Last week, the last couple of that group left our church. And as each couple has left the church, each relationship has become more distant. How did we lose touch? Sure, children came along and getting together seemed harder to do. But not impossible.

So, as I realized how these things had turned out, I asked myself why I’m not a better friend. Why don’t I do a better job of keeping the relationships going and sticking to people even when it’s not convenient or easy. This isn’t a guilt trip, but an honest desire to see where I can do better.

The quick questions: Am I trying to do this with too many people? For that original group of friends that was supposed to grow into an accountability group of close friends, did we not have enough in common? How do we meet with people we can share this stage of life in and prepare for the next stage of life? While also developing some relationship with people in other stages of life. What about all the people in church or in our community who feel left out? Some days it’s just easier to stay home.

Part of it is that I do best in very small groups, one-on-one is even better. I can sometimes do a beach trip type event and talk to several people in small conversations during the time, but then comes the effort to sustain something out of that. To build something.

I remember when we first moved to NC and praying that I would make a few friends. We were here for 2 years before I really felt I had made a friend. It was just one of those times when the people I worked with were in other states, weekends were spent with the nephews, neighbors were changing frequently. It just wasn’t easy to meet people and make good friends. At least not for me. Then slowly a few relationships started to grow. One or two years after that I could look at 3 really close friendships and a handful of others.

The harder questions: Where do I spend my time? How much time do I spend praying for my friends? Is the schedule too full of stuff that people get squeeze out? (Don’t ask me how many books I’ve managed to read this year.) Why don’t I pick up the phone more often? Am I ready to share more of my struggles with friends? Am I too afraid of not being liked to reach out to someone new?

This week I reconnected with an old friend I haven’t spoken to since junior high. We have had dinner with a young couple. I had a positive email exchange with a friend who needed someone to speak truth in the midst of a frustrating situation. While looking at pictures of Hawaii, the friend we traveled with called for a spur of the moment dinner with good conversation, then it turned into a movie night. We have had fun planning a Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends we don’t see enough of. I heard from a friend who needs to talk. Life is full, love is abundant, we grow and we learn.

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Remembering Hawaii

Both of us

And…

Waterfall

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Update on Fall Into Reading…

FIR09small

…and

nightstand

We flew to (and from) Hawaii in October so I got some good reading time in. I am trying hard to stay focused on books in the 999 challenge so I can finish this year. I have 30 on the list for 2010 already.

From this month’s nightstand:

  • St Thomas Aquinas – biography by G. K. Chesterton (a 999 book) – finished! Chesterton has an interesting manner of writing. I look forwarding to reading something other than biographies. He knows a lot and points out all kinds of things that are relevant.
  • Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham (a 999 book) – finished! I liked this book. Good advice and should put away some guilt over not being able to do it all.
  • Kabul24 by Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson – finished! Wow, I hadn’t realized all this was going on. I would have liked to hear more about the Afghan workers, but it was very good to learn what the non-Afghan hostages went through.
  • The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson – finished this audio book, very good, just like the others in this series.

Then I moved on to my next list – now broken down into what I have finished, what I’ve started, and what I will get to:

  • Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns (a 999 book) – this is a great book. He is talking about complex and difficult problems and he uses real and complex examples. Biblical and thought provoking in a culture that thinks we should always forgive and forget. This will be a reread and reference – it is a very good book.
  • Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery (a 999 book) – finished, I enjoyed the story – a little bit different from her others but still a good ending.
  • The Confessions of Augustine (a 999 book) – I kept thinking of my nephew while reading this. Very practical viewpoint of the sins and attitudes of youth.
  • The Aeneid by Virgil (a 999 book) (since I’ve read The Iliad and The Odyssey and The Divine Comedy starring Virgil) – started and enjoying it, I never knew these classics were so easy to read.
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka (a 999 book) – stopped – I had always heard it didn’t make sense and I read the first chapter and agreed that I have too many other books I want to read.

Still to read:

  • Selected Writings of Thomas Aquinas (a 999 book)
  • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel moved to 2010
  • The Story Girl by L. M. Montgomery (a 999 book)
  • Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (a 999 book)
  • A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
  • Wings of Fire by Charles Todd
  • The Girl in the Orange Dress by Margot Starbuck (a 999 book and book club)

Other books I read:

  • The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson (a 999 book) – for book club. This was a good book. I look forward to reading others in this series.
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (a 999 book) – I needed another classic for the 999 and this one was on the Kindle so I read it on the plane ride to Hawaii. I liked it a lot and was glad to see a happy ending.
  • Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar (a 999 book) – I need one more biography for the 999 challenge and this was one my husband read earlier this year. Written in 1844, soon after his death, by a good friend. It is a bit too general and vague in spots, with too many direct quotes from his journals so I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Oswald Chambers biography. But I now know more about M’Cheyne.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (a 999 book) – on the Kindle. I thought I had read it years ago but it never struck me as familiar beyond just knowing what the general story is about. Guess I’ll read Wuthering Heights next to see if that was the one I had read. This book reminded me of L. M. Montgomery as the plot progressed.
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Fun in the sun

Tuesday night was the history/dinner cruise along the coast of Kona down to the Captain Cook memorial. The history was interesting, the food was ok, the weather was beautiful, and the sunset was fantastic!

All street lights in Kona are this weird yellow – we finally found out why – to reduce light pollution for the Observatories on the volcano. It is weird driving with yellow street lights.

Wednesday Val had a member meeting. I went over to check out the fitness center. It was decent, but I mainly used the mat and ball. Nice elliptical and bicycles. Wednesday afternoon we were picked up and taken to the Kahua Ranch where we learned about the history of beef ranches on the island, saw a large pig up close, ate a decent dinner (not their steak) with a good mac-nut pie, then tried some roping and banding before coming back home. It was chilly up there.

Thursday was our meeting in the morning. Then we headed north to Hawi and the beaches. We had a sushi recommendation in Hawi so we planned to do dinner there. We made it to Kawaihae and stopped at the Puukohola Heiau (hey-ow). Then we drove on up to Hawi and decided to stop at Sushi Rock for lunch instead. The food was great and got us going for the hike down to the black-sand beach at Pololu.We hiked down from about 500 ft above sea level to sea level. Then we wandered around on the beach and hiked back up. It was about the same as the hike down to the Kilauea Iki crater on Monday, but it was hotter.

We stopped at the Keokea Beach Park and then drove back to Hawi to have dinner at Sushi Rock again. The sushi was still great! And the mac-nut pie was perfect.

Friday was going to be our south day, but we realized it was our last day with the nice big lanai so we just hung around and read, ate, and enjoyed the breeze. It was a perfect day! That night we drove Anthony down to Keauhou for the Fair-Winds snorkel with the manta ray. He had a great time. Val and I wandered around Kailua and ate at the bar at Huggos.

Saturday we checked out of the Bay Club and checked in at the Hilton. Then we drove toward Kona for a coffee plantation tour at the Hula Daddy plantation (nice clock and good coffee). Next was a stop at the Kekaha Kai beach which was very crowded and windy. We got back to Waikoloa, picked up some sushi at the Island Gourmet Markets and relaxed at the Hilton.

Sunday we drove back to the Waikoloa Baptist Church, with our Operation Christmas Child box that we filled up at Walmart on Tuesday after the cruise. Then back to the Hilton to check out and lay around in the sun (or shade). Dinner at Macaroni Grill and then we returned the rental car and got on our plane. Many hours and a day later we got home with no delays or snags!

It’s chillier here (it was 43 this morning) so we’re trying to get acclimated to that, after 80+ days and 70+ nights for the past week.

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Life is good…

… hanging out in Hawaii.

We are having a great time. Saturday night we got checked in, unpacked, groceries put away, and into bed by 9pm local time. Not bad if you ignore that it was 3am east coast time and we had been up since 5:30 am east coast time.

The flights and layovers were all easy and good. It’s a different world – we had to buy food at each airport or hope they still had a meal left to pay for on the flight. I got some good reading done – I really enjoyed The Yada Yada Prayer Group for our book club this month! Quite different from the John Adams bio we read for last month.

Sunday we went to the Waikoloa Baptist Church and were treated to great praise songs and good Bible preaching. We’ll be back there next Sunday. That night we went to a luau at the Marriott down the street. The food was good, we had good conversation in our group of seven, plus a couple from Honolulu (retired military from Wisconsin). The show was fun, especially the guy doing the fire show.

Monday was a long day driving over to the east coast of the Big Island. We saw the Umauma waterfalls and the World Botanical Garden. Then down to the Akaka State Park where we hiked out to see more waterfalls. We ate our bologna sandwiches there and stopped at a small strip of shops there. One shop was fantastic – the things she sold were made in Hawaii and reasonably priced. The one to the right was selling stuff made in Thailand and the Philippines, and the one to the left was expensive stuff.

We drove on through Hilo and out to the Volcano visitor center. We were hoping to see some lava flow and had planned to go to the winery as well. But while we were at the crater overlook we saw people walking down on the crater and of course that suddenly was more important than our other plans. We walked through the Thurston lave tube and then hiked down to the crater. In 1959 that particular crater exploded and in 36 hours put out a lot of lava and stuff. Over the next 30 hours years it cooled and hardened and now we can walk on it. Then we hiked back up and drove back to Hilo for a nice dinner at Cafe Pesto. Smoked Salmon Alfredo – yumm!

The east coast is a rain forest so we spent most of the day walking and driving in the rain. We back on the sunny dry side of the island now. I woke up this morning and before I could change my mind I put on my running clothes and headed out. It was brighter here than it is at home at 6:30 these days. I got a good 25 minute run in along the road around this area. Lots of others out doing the same thing.

Now we’re off to make leis and then tonight we have a dinner cruise along the west coast. We’re grilling tuna and salmon for lunch. Back to it….

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Vacation – here we come!

I love my new Maple Leaf theme, so I’ll be back to it soon. But I switched to the Beach Holiday theme for the next week in recognition of our very cool vacation in Hawaii. I might even get in a blog entry or two from the lanai (cooler than just an old deck or porch) of the condo we’re staying in.

On the home front I am happy to report that the PMS is going away. I’m not a danger to nearby irritants now.

I have had to wash sheets multiple times this week as Ray has decided to pee on every bed, more than once. It has been such a joy to have those added todos this week while I had so much spare time between working and getting ready for the trip. There’s nothing like a week long vacation hanging over the head to bring some things into sharp relief. We are looking to have Ray out of the house before the end of the day and he won’t be coming back.

Out today because we aren’t going to leave this fun for our nice house and cat-sitter. And not coming back because it’s been 2 months and he’s persistent in this peeing – I’ve found it in a few other places over the past 3 weeks. A friend thinks he may be destined to be an outside cat which is fine, but we aren’t in a position to have an outside cat and we did tell the shelter we’d keep him as an inside cat so they need to be in on the issues.

Enough about that – the good news on the pet front is that my very good friend is getting a new Great Dane!!! We love our big dogs, or we love our dogs big. Anyway – I love when she has a big dog because I get to go over there and play with and love on them. Chandler will be a nice addition, even if I don’t get to meet him until after my vacation.

That’s it for now – off to finish my day of work and get packed. Aloha!

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Oy, what a day

I feel like I’m having a bad day. I know it’s PMS and that knowledge hasn’t helped much.

Usually my PMS demon is the voices telling me how wrong and stupid I am. I am grateful I’m not actually having any issues like that this time. Really it’s just one big mood swing and a complete lack of patience. What is making this so obvious is one particular co-worker who is almost OCD in his attention to detail on this project, but this week he’s focusing on things that aren’t problems and not listening to the rest of us when we try to describe the project.

I’ve actually done well at explaining things to him and keeping my cool on the phone yesterday and today. But my behavior in the privacy of my home-office hasn’t been as nice. I have cried out for patience and help dealing with my emotions. Plus, tears have been shed and my voice has been raised. But I’m not banging on my desk. (A co-worker and I used to joke about this, since injuries sustained while banging on the desk in frustration at coworkers and processes are not covered under worker’s comp we’ve learned to not do it.)

In the midst of my “agonies” the two cats have been very needy and are constantly jumping up on my desk and trying to get in my lap. Today Ray walked across my desk past my monitors and towards the back of the desk. Then he started reaching for the tie-back holding my curtains open. He apparently forgot about that two foot gap between the desk and window. He slipped but caught himself once, but the temptation was too great. He lunged for the tie-back again and plunged to the floor. I laughed and eventually went around to check on him. He survived without a scratch.

Then BlueTooth came in and started prowling around trying to find a way up and into my lap. I was busy working on the computer and muttering so he went around to the back of the desk and tried to jump up there. He didn’t have enough room and fell back to the ground, taking my mouse and laptop wires with him. I grabbed both and he let go of the wires before disaster occurred. I finally pushed him out and shut the doors to keep them out.

I think all 3 of us will be happy when this hormonal firestorm passes. I am grateful that it’s happening early this week so I’ll be happy and calm when we head off to Hawaii.

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The Search for God and Guinness

Guiness.coverThe Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield is my latest Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers pick. It is my husband’s favorite beer so it should be a fun read for both of us.

This book was a pleasant surprise. It provided a history lesson on beer, described the formation and growth of the Guinness brewery and the Guinness family, and also provided a picture of what benevolent employment looks like.

It is a great way to see history from a different perspective and to see how people can make a difference while also making a profit. I enjoyed seeing the varied interests of the Guinness descendants, the mighty works they performed and supported, and the way the culture of the company was part of what sold the beer.

The book is a great gift for beer drinkers, and also has a solid story and message.

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