Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

My Second Saturday Book Club is reading Little Bee for June. I finished it last night, but have a feeling it is going to linger with me for a long time. I'm not going to say too much about the story because you need to read it, if you haven't already. It's about two women who meet briefly on a beach in Nigeria and whose lives become inextricably intertwined. There are themes of identity, secrecy, female strength and vulnerability, geo-politics, fear, family, betrayal, and love. It is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. And it won't be soon forgotten.

Volunteer For A WFAE Fundraiser

On May 12th, I volunteered for the NPR Pledge Drive. I'm an avid (rabid?) NPR listener and regular donor, but I'd never gotten around to volunteering for the pledge drive. But this time, I signed up. It ended up being a fun time. There were two other volunteers, Brad & Rick, who I took for partners but were actually brothers. Oops, sorry, ya'll. I spent a good bit of time chatting with one of the reporters, Lisa Miller, who was really fun. She grew up in the town next to my husband, so we got to talk about that, Chicago, where we both went to college, and about fun stuff to do in Charlotte. She also recommended me to one of the producers to be interviewed for an on-air testimonial. Ha! So, a producer named Marshall Terry chatted me up in a sound booth about why I love NPR so much . So far, no evidence that it will actually make it to the air, but it was a lot of nerdy fun. Oh, and I did take a couple of pledges from the phones, too. ;)

Try A New Recipe Each Month: Baked Garlic Green Beans

We belong to a home delivery service for organic fruits & vegetables called Absolute Organics. If you live in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend their service. Each week (or every other--your choice), they deliver a box of organic fruits & veggies. They try to provide in-season, local items as much as possible. Lately, we've been getting a lot of green beans.

Now I like eating green beans, a lot. What I do not like is all the prep that making fresh beans takes. So, I thought I'd better find a new recipe that made it all worth it for me. Baked Garlic Green Beans did not disappoint. Of course, I modified it a bit by using crushed rice chex in place of the bread crumbs to make it gluten-free. I served this as part of J's birthday dinner, much to his delight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Read A Jane Austen Novel: Persuasion

I read Persuasion by Jane Austen. Before I picked it up from the library, I'd never even heard of this as one of her novels. However, it was on the shelf of the library and looked shorter than the other novels she wrote. I'm a busy girl and needed to be expedient.

I have to admit that I was pretty embarrassed to have made it out of college with a BA in English Literature without ever reading anything by Austen. I had a horrendous experience in my Victorian Lit class, so maybe that is why I shied away for so long. But, Jane Austen has a new fan in me.

The story is, of course, about a sweet, charming, witty heroine named Anne. She lost her mother at a young age, is overlooked by her father and elder sisters, and at the age of 27, is seemingly doomed for spinsterhood. The book tells of her social interactions with her sisters and society, her male friends, and a spurned love interest. But one of the things that was most compelling to me about this book was Anne's relationship with her mother's best friend, Lady Russell. Lady Russell served in many ways as a surrogate mother to Anne, but they also had a real and genuine friendship. It made me wonder who might step into such a role for my girls should ever anything happen to me. I thought about how much we side-step getting really involved with other people's lives in the attempt to "mind our own business." And if that "minding our own business" actually contributes to our sense of loneliness and isolation. I pray that should anything ever happen to me, that some wonderful girlfriend of mine will love me & my girls enough to be in their business like Lady Russell was for Anne.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Have a pleasant conversation with someone with different politcal views

So, this happened inadvertently at my small group a couple weeks ago. I have a great small group. It is full of people that I really like, respect & admire. And we laugh together--a lot. They are also a group of people who love God and have deep intention with their Christian faith. Over supper the other evening, we had a lengthy political discussion. It ranged from how the economic crisis was handled to gun control to welfare/services for the poor to the gold standard to individual liberties to international relations. My political slant was definitely in the minority (I'm kinda used to that. There aren't a lot of evangelical democrats), but I was listened to and treated respectfully (I'm not so used to that). I also heard their perspectives in a way that I was able to see where they were coming from. It made me ask myself some hard questions. I think sometimes it is easy to think you know where you stand on political issues. However, my conversations with my friends who I love helped me to stretch my opinions a bit, while remaining true to my convictions. And that is good.

Take a Card Making Class

On Earth Day, my friend LM & I took a class at Paper Source on how to make paper crafts from recycled materials. LM & I are both crunchy girls & we are both crafty. So, it was a perfect girls' night out for us. Lots of fun. :)

Send Dexter a Care Package

I met Dexter when he was in the 5th grade. He was my then boyfriend's kid neighbor. After J & I got married, Dexter & I began spending a lot of time together. He was always a great kid. I got to help him with his homework and he helped me cook and was always eager to try whatever we made. When I had JL, he was so excited to have a baby "step-neighbor." He's been like a big brother to our kids. When we were moving, JL cried when she found out that Dexter wouldn't be moving with us to our new neighborhood. I've gotten to see him grow from a cute little kid to a respectable young man. Dexter is now finishing up his sophmore year at Tuskegee University. When I first met him, he told me that he wanted to be a veterinarian. He's now working on his degree in veterinary sciences. It's been such a gift to be able to be his friend all these years and watch him pursue his dreams. Because we love him so much, the girls & I made him some m&m cookies to help get him through finals. :)