Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Daybook. . .

A picture thought. . .

Aaron took this of me, unawares, when we were on Mt. Pisgah recently. I like it—the composition, the sepia tones, the cloud in the sky, everything.

I am wearing. . .

Old blue jeans, a grey t-shirt, a sort of periwinkle-blue polar fleece jacket, and bright red, fluffy socks for a cool morning. I think I was wearing the same thing last time I did a daybook. It must be my work uniform.

I am reading. . .

Palace Walk by Naguid Mahouz. Aaron bought this for me on my birthday in March, and I just started reading it yesterday. I sent Aaron this text message last evening: “I’m on page 2 of Palace Walk, and I’m in love with the writing.” Still reading in bed at 12:30 a.m., I forced myself to put the book down and go to sleep.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. I read this years ago, and yesterday, when I was writing in my journal and began to contemplate what it really means to seek God wholeheartedly, I pulled this off the shelf again to see if it would have anything to say regarding my particular line of thought. (It sure is fun to be able to go to my bookshelves again whenever a particular book or author comes to mind!)

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. I really like this book! It’s very nicely written and super-interesting. About how architecture affects us, and why.

More issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education. My brother-in-law works at the university, and he knows I like to peruse these, so I’m his recycling receptacle for the newspaper/journal. Current article I’m reading: “No Cellphone? No Internet? So Much Less Stress” (from an old May issue).

Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity sits on my coffee table, so I’m randomly reading bits of it again. It’s a fun book to have around.

I am hearing. . .

The hum of the refrigerator and a lot of lovely silence. I don’t even hear birds this morning because the windows are closed to the cool air.

I like quiet. I live mostly in a silent house, but sometimes I’ll turn on some music. On a recent evening, I pulled out the light blue case that holds Arvo Part’s Alina and put the CD into the player. For an hour, I sat cross-legged on the floor, listening carefully while I read the accompanying booklet that describes the music. I sat, listening and thinking (because it’s the kind of music that makes me contemplative).

The songs on Alina exude peace, order, and beauty, like the music of Bach, but it’s different. The pieces on this CD are so sweet as to be almost sad, which strikes me as deeply spiritual (Part is a Christian, who pointedly composes his music for the glory of God, also like Bach). I think this poignant sense I get from the music, when I really listen to it, is the same ache that led David the Psalmist to cry out again and again that he longed for God, that he thirsted for Him, that he sought Him wholeheartedly. When we are quiet and still, the space in our hearts that only God can fill is revealed, and it is not to be covered with noise or filled with busyness. It is meant to press us closer to Him, to align our hearts with His, and to orient our values, priorities, aims, and focus toward our Real Home.

This music is art with high purpose. Art as it’s meant to be.

Learning all the time. . .

Yes, I am learning all the time. You can’t help but learn if you are awake and even semi-coherent (which I am not always, come to think of it).

I recently read (learned) that, for all the push from administrators to move to e-textbooks and e-everything in universities, students still don’t want this. (Hurrah, students!) Somehow this surprised me, but I really hope students have their way because I despise reading on a screen. I like a book to pick up, put down, scribble in the margins, underline, flip through, and read backward, forward, or from the middle. I like the weight of a book in my hand and the feel of paper between my fingers.

I am thankful. . .

That I have my comfortable bed back. I’ve slept on couches, on floors, and, for many months, on a cot with a foam pad on top. I set up that cot each night and folded it up again for storage each morning (because you can’t leave a cot in the middle of someone’s living room!). It was a comfortable place to sleep, really, and I was glad to have it, but now I have a real bed. A big bed. And I can stretch out and move around and leave it right where it is in the morning.

But I’m even more thankful that my sister’s surgery yesterday seemed to be “just in time” and that all looks well.

I am hoping. . .

Delicate pink wildflowers on a recent walk.
(I chopped off the head of the central one! Oops.)

To do some mountain hiking this summer because, as yet, I haven’t been to the mountains even once (except to drive across them). My sister and I did hike (with my niece and nephew) through the beautiful, hilly Ridgeline trails of Eugene recently, but I want to head to the mountains. There’s a particular wildflower hike in the Cascades that I’ve never taken before, and this is the perfect time of year for it, so I hope to be able to get there soon.

Eating. . . 

Always. :-) Someone asked me in a comment, and I forgot to answer, if I still drink green lemonade. Yes, I do! And carrot juice, too, but not as often. There’s often popcorn in a bowl on the table. And right now I’m drinking morning coffee and eating sprouted grain toast with Bonne Maman peach preserves.

Yesterday, because it was raining and I was unpacking boxes and listening to music, I made myself some goodies. “Healthy” Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars with Chocolate Chips—a recipe I barely tweaked from Sprouted Kitchen. This is super-easy: Put1/3 c. peanut butter (or almond butter), 1/3 c. brown rice syrup (maybe a bit more), 1 t. vanilla, and a pinch or two of salt in a pan and heat just until quite soft. Add 3 c. brown rice krispies to the pan, and stir well. Now stir in as many chocolate chips as you want—maybe a cup—(I  use grain-sweetened chocolate), and press into an 8” square dish. If you want to go over the top with chocolate (and why wouldn’t you?), melt 6 oz. dark chocolate with ½-1 T. butter (or alternative) and spread over the bars. Put this in the fridge long enough to firm the chocolate.

Tonight there will be Aaron’s favorite meal, made especially for his birthday: Shrimp Scampi. I don’t know yet if he wants his traditional cheesecake birthday cake since he doesn’t like to eat much dessert, but if he does, I will make it.

I am creating. . .

A gigantic mess in the house with all of this unpacking and sorting! Actually, I try to keep things pretty tidy when I’m not in the midst of boxes, and I limit the number of boxes I’ll bring into the house at once, so it never seems that things are entirely out of control. The second bedroom, though, is quite a mess. It’s where I’m setting things aside that need to go elsewhere (I ended up with lots and lots of boxes of things that were mistakenly put with my belongings but really belong to others in the family), along with the twelve overflowing boxes of books that I am selling or giving away.
I'm bringing beauty to my home. . .

Well, I’m trying because beauty does matter. Let’s see. . . I always have flowers around. I try to keep things orderly without getting that sterile, perfect, don’t-touch-anything look (though I doubt there’s any real danger of this happening anywhere I live!). The shape of the rooms of this house made some of my furniture fit awkwardly, but I’m beginning to figure out what might placement might work. It takes awhile to know what “feels” right around a house, so I imagine I’ll be shifting things. And then, after it all settles comfortably into place, I’ll get a yen to rearrange! I inherited this urge from my mother.

Around the house. . .

People! My children and grandchildren were all here for the weekend of the 4th. Then there was overnight company when we moved our belongings across the mountains. Then my sister and mother hung out here and spent the night before my sister had her surgery. While they were here, my sister’s son came over for awhile. The same day, my other sister’s family stopped by to say hello while they were out on a bike ride.

My sister (the one who lives in town) drops by often, usually bringing my niece and nephew, Nicky and Conner, with her. After living with them for a year, I miss them! I am required to have treats on hand when they drop by, so if I don’t have cookies or other goodies in the jar, I quickly pop some corn—my new super-snack! It’s inexpensive, quick to make, and fun to eat! I just make it pan-style: Coat (well) the bottom of a 3-quart saucepan with oil, place it on a burner turned to medium heat, and place three or four kernels of corn in the bottom of the pan. Cover with a lid and wait. When the kernels pop, add 1/3 c. more kernels and give the pan a good back and forth shake. Leave the pan on the heat, shaking it periodically so the popcorn won’t burn. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl and toss with salt.

My nephew, Conner, told me that my popcorn is the best, and he wanted me to tell him how to make it. I told him that I got my method from him! He makes popcorn all the time, and I like his popcorn, so I copied how he does it. Funny how identical things can taste better when someone else makes them.

My daughter, Aimee, told me that a woman at her Montessori school seasons her popcorn with shoyu and nutritional yeast, so we tried this, and it’s really good!

Outdoors. . .

I keep jumping the gun on these topics! I already talked about outdoors above when I said I hope to hike in the mountains soon. So, I’ll talk about the weather. It rained yesterday, and it’s grey today, but we’ve had quite a lot of warm sunshine recently, so I’m going to let the greyness pass (as long as it doesn’t stay too long).

As I look out the window, I wonder what’s going on out there in the big old world? Did something glorious or catastrophic happen somewhere? I wouldn’t know because I don’t get the paper, I don’t own a TV, and I do not have the internet in my home. I am a woman bubble-wrapped against the world! Ha. But I will have internet soon, and then I will be privy to the news.

I am thinking about. . .

Aaron, my son, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday, Aaron! I don’t mean to be lazy by not writing a whole new post dedicated to you, but I still feel this way!

One of my favorite things. . .

Is sunshine! And it’s breaking through the clouds right now. . . Oh, drat! Away it goes again.

A few plans for the rest of the week. . .

Eat more salad. Finish unpacking and sorting through all boxes. Entirely clean out the garage. Take empty boxes to put in U-Haul “free boxes” bin. Send stuff to my mom’s house for her garage sale. Get my washer and dryer hooked up. Organize my files and set up a super-easy system for paying bills and taking care of business. Walk every day. Write a few letters. Read more every day. Get internet set up here.

Have a lovely day!


  1. Hi Susan
    Love this post, so many topics & more great pictures!
    Sorry to hear your sister had to undergo surgery but very glad to hear all is well for her.
    Reading your thoughts about seeking God ... I find, as I get older and experience various things(good & bad)in life, I do this more & more often. Sometimes I feel Him so strongly that it feels as though my heart will, literally burst, with pure joy. Although He's always with me, I find that when I specifically, seek Him (in prayer, for guidance, in thanksgiving, to give a few examples)it's as if He steps closer at my invitation and I am so thankful... I'm thankful to you too for having reminded me of this.
    I truly pray that everyone opens themselves to His love & compassion, so that they get to experience that pure joy that comes from loving and being loved, completely, by Him.

  2. What a busy week I have had and your post helped to calm my mind and focus on home again. It has been a good busyness of learning new ideas at a homeschool conference for 3 days, but I long to be in my home. A full day at home tomorrow seems like such a treat after being out of the house all week. The salad in your photo looks delicious! Is it all raw?

  3. lovely, as usual, to hear bits of your this and that, susan.
    the photo of you is so dramatic and beautiful. and a new profile picture, as well? yeah! i thoroughly enjoyed having a closer gander at the smiling face behind these words, this life of yours that i've been blessed by over the years.
    hope the sun continues to shine upon you this week,

  4. I read somewhere (reading online, so many things come and go) that people who read things on computers/e readers generally have less retention than people reading from books. It's good that the students seem to resist the change.

  5. I don't love reading from screens either. And although I'm thankful for Internet, I certainly wouldn't want to read *everything* from screens.

    Your Daybooks are always wonderful to read.

    And I quite agree with Megan, the new profile picture is *lovely*.

  6. Well said, Claina! :-)

    Michelle, while it's rejuvenating and refreshing to go to conferences, there's no place as sweet as home, is there?

    Megan, you noticed. :-) I don't love that photo of me, and I even flicked away the temptation to fix myself up a bit before snapping it, but it's probably semi-close to my real daily self, so there it is. Thanks for commenting!

    Thia, interesting info! I hope students will continue to resist the change (since I am one of them and will be subject to whatever happens).

    Michele (I spelled your name wrong before--sorry!). I'm thankful for the internet, too. For sure. But when I want to really read something that's even semi-long, I print it. :-) Oh, and thanks (about the photo!).


  7. Oh, and, yes Michelle, the salad is all raw. I try to eat a lot of raw food, especially in the summer when it makes a whole bunch of sense! :-) I love summer produce!