Moving Day Drama

cartoon of man moving a boxSunday evening, May 21: Here I sit on the stairs of our soon-not-to-be-ours house, and I’m so tired that this is the only thing I can do. It’s too early to go to bed, I don’t have any books I want to read, and there’s no TV. And pretty much no internet, although once in awhile I can get a faint waft of Xfinity wifi. So I’m writing a post! Aren’t you flattered!

What a day! And we’re still not done with the packing up and moving, but I think we’re going to be able to walk into closing tomorrow and hand over the keys. There was a point today around 6:30 when I took a look around at all the stuff that still needed to be moved and thought, “We aren’t going to make it.” And then my phone rang, and it was Jim. “Guess who just called me? Jet Movers!” We had decided that we were going to have to hire some movers for the biggest stuff, as we had a wonderful crew but of the guys present we had 

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A Winning Book

PictureWe had been driven out of our house this past Saturday for showings, so one stop was at the library. Honestly, I don’t patronize the library much any more, the physical one at least. I get audiobooks and e-books, and I listen to podcasts and read political articles online. So my former at-least-once-a-week library habit has dwindled away to almost nothing. But we needed a place to hang out, so there we went. One of my favorite places at this branch is the nonfiction new book shelves at the top of the stairs. I couldn’t tell you how many great discoveries I’ve made there. Saturday was no exception; I picked this book off the shelf and sat down in one of the chairs upstairs, thinking that I’d read a chapter or two, and I was hooked. I ended up reading all but two chapters, which for me nowadays is kind of a record, and I made sure to read the conclusion.

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A New Year’s Regret

Christmas lights along the rafterI keep thinking about the evening of Dec. 31st, the day our out-of-town company left. My husband and I had planned to go on our usual outing to the Denver Botanic Gardens “Blossoms of Light” exhibition. We’ve done this now for several years running, and as we pace down the pathways lined with beautiful lights strung imaginatively over the plants we try to talk about what we want to accomplish in the upcoming year. I wrote about this outing last year, for example, when we left it until the very last minute on the very last day, having to drive around for awhile searching for a place to park.

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The Low-Sugar Lifestyle–Rules of the Game

cupcake with frosting on the frostingI’ve written quite a bit about my periodic attempts to cut out sugar from my diet and have also posted reviews of several books about the dangers of sugar. The most recent material I posted was of an interview that Gretchen Rubin did with Gary Taubes, who has now written yet a third book on this dangerous aspect of the Western diet, The Case Against Sugar. I’m including the link again here; be advised that you have to give up your e-mail address in order to gain access to the PDF. It’s about 23 pages and very worthwhile reading.

Other than the annual chocolate tasting that my sister-in-law leads each year (well, this was the second year), a few sips of pink eggnog and some cookies,, mostly barely-sweet biscotti, I stayed off sweets for the holidays. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll go in and get my A1C checked—a reading that gives a three-month average of your blood sugar load.

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Do You Need a Nudge?

Horse and rider jumping over barsI’m pretty sure that I’ve already posted the following quotation, but I’m going to do it again anyway. I’ve read Anne Ortlund’s Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman multiple times and talked about before. She was a writer and pastor’s wife who died several years ago. I think I ran across DOTBW in the bookstore of my old church. I remember reading it while on early-morning duty at the school where I taught and a high-school boy making a snide remark about the title.

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Some Small Resolutions.

cranberriesSince our out-of-town company arrives this evening for a stay of a week, I may not be posting much over the next few days and figure that I’ll get something written about the resolutions I’m making as of RIGHT NOW. (Why should I wait until Jan. 1?) These resolutions are in the area of small, consistent actions, the kind of thing that I hate doing. I mean, like, DESPISE. My kitchen has been a disaster zone for the past week, for example, because I never got it completely cleaned up after last week’s big baking extravaganza for our church’s Christmas party and then haven’t been very consistent about cleaning up after meals since then.

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I Must Stop Saying, “But First . . . “

man counting to 1 on his fingersA terrible, terrible habit of mine. I’ll be all ready to get started on an actual task, something that needs to be done, and then I’ll say to myself, “But first let me check my e-mail. But first let me see what so-and-so is saying on that website I like. But first let me have a snack.” Whatever. Half an hour, forty-five minutes, an hour can go by. 

So earlier this afternoon I was all set to sit down at the keyboard and go over my music for the Cherry Creek Chorale concert next week. (Got your tickets yet? Get them here. Read my fascinating commentaries here.)

And since I had my phone with me to I could listen to the practice music files loaded onto it, I thought, ‘But first let me . . . ‘ and then I thought, ‘No. I have to quit doing that.’ It’s almost as if I’m afraid to just go ahead and get going.

Ever happen to you? How do you deal with it?

Structure Can Set Us Free.

Silhoette with a clock brainIf we use it correctly, that is.

So I’m continuing to gain wisdom, both practical and spiritual, from my wonderful Bible study group. A couple of weeks ago I was a little puzzled by the fact that the teaching leader’s phone kept chiming as she worked her way through our discussion of the study questions.  Why on earth doesn’t she turn that off? I wondered. She’d just reach over, touch the screen, and continue. I thought she was getting text messages or something. Couldn’t they wait?

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A Lovely Novel by the “Daily Hercules”

Cover for The Last Chronicle of Barset, shows a mother and her children

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope, available in numerous editions from numerous sources.  You can get it on Kindle for free.

The candidate for this week’s book review was Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, but I’m still wading through it.  Don’t get me wrong:  it is an important book, I might say even an essential book.  But it will have to wait until next week.  I can only absorb a little of it at a time and am now just four and a half hours into a 16-hour audio version.

For some reason I was reminded of Trollope’s masterpiece and decided that it would be a good stand-in, even though it has nothing to do with geopolitics.  Instead, I guess you could say that it has much to do with personal politics.  I have read it at least twice and probably more; I love it and can hardly believe that Trollope ground it out, under pressure and deadline, just as he did all of his novels.  But more of that in a minute.

First let me say that if you do not fall madly in love with the character of Lily Dale, and mourn for Johnny Eames, and want to strangle Mr. Crawley, well, I just don’t know about you.  ​These characters are as real to me as . . . Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.  As you might gather from the title, the novel is part of a series and is indeed the last one.  But you don’t have to have read the other five to enjoy this one, although if you’d like to get more of the backstory you could read The Small House at Allington, the one immediately preceding Last Chronicle.

I am amazed at writers who seem to have an inexhaustible geyser of creativity gushing out of them. (Perhaps not the best image.)  Where does all of this come from?  How do you just create these people, and these events, and these entire societies, out of your own imagination?  It boggles me.  I’m a very slow writer myself, and if I ever manage to get down on paper the one novel I keep saying I’m going to write it will probably be finished on my deathbed.  Trollope is known not only for the quality and quantity of his output but also for his methodology.  He paid a servant on his estate five pounds a year to wake him up at 5:00 every morning–the man was not to give up until Trollope was out of bed–and sat at his desk from 5:30 to 8:30, churning out 250 words every 15 minutes.  If he finished one novel before his time on a certain morning was up he started on a new one. (It’s tempting to take all this with a grain of salt.  Did the man never do any revising?  Still, those 47 novels, plus travel writing and an autobiography, didn’t come out of nowhere.)  The truly amazing aspect of Trollope’s writing is not its volume; people have churned out so-called “potboilers” by the gross ever since it was possible to get paid by the word.  (The term refers to literary output done simply to pay the bills, or to keep the pot boiling.)  His portrayals of character are remarkable, particularly those of women. (I just leafed through a few pages and was reminded of Mrs. Proudie, yet another great Trollopian creation.)

Great quote from Trollope: “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” So true.

I know, I know.  My edition runs to almost 900 pages of small type. has the audiobook available, although it’s kind of expensive.  My library system, Arapahoe Libraries, has it on Hoopla. Hey, it’s only thirty-four hours! Think of all the needlepoint you could get done in that amount of time!


Do You Manage Yourself, Or Try to Manage Others?

outline of head with wordlcloud containing: Direct, Evaluate, Measure, Admire, Detract, Promote, Blame, Excuse, Supervise, Control, Analyze“The only person I can change is myself.”

Here I sit, having wasted hours of my time reading about the election campaign.  I haven’t done a very good job of managing myself today, so maybe I can at least get a blogpost out of my self-indulgence.

Without at all getting into the weeds of the actual politics (that’s for my Personal and Political page), I’ll say that it’s absolutely fascinating to watch the campaigns play out with all their many moving parts.  You may recall that the books I recommended from a couple of weeks ago were by Mary Matalin and George Carville, with the earlier one, Love and War, being about the 1992 election, during which Matalin and Carville met and fell in love.  Just one little problem:  they were working on opposite sides, Matalin for the re-election of George H. W. Bush, Carville for Bill Clinton.  On election night James calls Mary (I’ll call them that since this is a personal part of the story) and she says to him, “I cannot believe you could live on this earth and know that you were responsible for electing a slime, a scum, a philandering, pot-smoking, draft-dodging pig of a man . . . You make me sick.  I hate your guts.”  After she cusses him out (she doesn’t quote that part), she hangs up.  As she says, “I don’t remember him saying anything.”  (And they got married–and still are to this day!  Miracles do happen.)

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