Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Feeling Smug

1. I am feeling smug because I have dinner all planned out (taco rice with black beans and tons of vegetables), and because I have in my fridge and freezer both homemade chicken stock and home-rendered lard. I am imagining saying airily, "Oh, sure. I'll just pull some stock out of the freezer." On bad days I would want to punch someone who said that.
This is me

2. The girls seem to be adapting to their new all-whipping-cream-and-coconut-oil diet. Miriam ate most of my lunch. I hope they are three pounds bigger in a month. I am finding the strain of force-feeding the girls plus managing Nat's numbers is getting easier, a few days in.

3. I may have gone enthusiastically grocery shopping a few days ago and bought more food than will fit in our fridge. I am using the very cold basement as a cold cellar right now. The wealth of vegetables is jostling against the huge variety of high-fat dairy products. It's a little odd.

4. Last week sometime Geoff posted on Facebook about me asking if I could lie farther down than only being flat on the floor. I have, it turns out, badly separated stomach muscles, owing to four kids in four years. Not surprising. I get all squeamish about things like that, and spent a couple of hours trying to get away from my own stomach (after finding out), and then being gently pressured into doing exercises to fix it. After two years of pouting at my stomach, and one week of actually doing something about it, it's a lot better. I am such an idiot.

5. If someone would like to win the lottery and send me a few million, my MiL would like a nice granny cottage at the back of our house. She'll live there with her cats and be here every day getting jumped on by the girls and snuggling and playing with the boys. She came in this week to help with two or three medical appointments plus a lot of financial things for my parents. I am going to miss her when she drives off today.

6. I just finished a somewhat self-indulgent book about finding out and living your vocation. The author is a Quaker. There were parts I agreed with- about suffering, about our shadow selves, about how important true self-knowledge is in knowing our intended work, but a lot of it came off as navel-gazing and entitled. Geoff said, when I said I couldn't put my finger on what was bugging me about it, that it's all about what's best for you. The author is very interested in community, and in relationship, but there's still this "I am an affluent Westerner with the freedom to worry about my true self" sort of thing that comes off it.

7. Too much non-fiction. I want a nice novel, next. Any recommendations? Otherwise I'll keep -re-reading Brideshead Revisited over and over and over...


Sarah Boyle Webber said...

I'm a new visitor (got to you from Jen's 7 things because your name seemed familiar) and then I saw the Robin McKinley thing and I understood! And I didn't know she had a blog! Thank you, if for no other reason ever, thank you.

lissla lissar said...

I've been Lissla Lissar for years online. I occasionally think about changing it, but I am too lazy and attached. :) Robin McKinley has a very entertaining blog over here: I've loved her writing since I was about twelve.


Rosie said...

I thought for a while that I didn't have issues with muscle separation but I think I must... I really need to get on some of those exercises!

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I don't even want to think about muscle separation. Yeesh. I should probably look at those exercises....

How do you feel about Michael O'Brien? I just finished his most recent novel, his foray into science fiction. I liked it, but then I enjoy long, slow-moving works that can sometimes be a bit heavy-handed. (Gleaning that from the Amazon reviews.) I don't tend to notice when books are glacially slow and "could use an editor" so I'm a really bad judge when things slide in that direction. Anyway, I enjoyed it thoroughly even if I can never seem to find the time to actually write the darned blog post about it.

lissla lissar said...

I like O'Brien- Nat's named for two of his characters, Father Elijah and Nathaniel from Plague Diary. I think he's a little heavy-handed, and there was a large chunk of A Cry of Stone that I think could have been dropped, but overall I think his writing is beautiful even when it's awkward.

I haven't read his more recent novels, just The Children Of the Last Days series.

The exercises are mostly summed up in: Deliberately Pull Your Stomach In. Part of the core of muscles separates, and needs to be worked to remember how to go back together. Sit-ups and things which push the muscles apart are bad, planking is good, and easiest of all is just to suck in your bellybutton and hold it whenever you remember. I can already feel that it's helped with core strength. I miss my core strength., and I would be glad to get it back...

Melanie Bettinelli said...

See, I didn't even think Cry of Stone should be shorter. So I know that I've got bad judgement in that area. I've read Children of the Last Days and enjoyed them-- how cool about Nat! Nathaniel from Plague Diary is one of my favorite characters.

Anyway, Voyage to Alpha Centauri picks up on the same themes as the others of his books I've read and then goes even further into the future and physics has made a breakthrough with ftl and then imagines that the world government has been established and is sending a huge ship to explore an earthlike planet orbiting Alpha Centauri A. The whole thing is done in diaries like Plague Journal, the first half of the book covers the outward voyage and the narrator's life up to that point in a series of flahsbacks-- he's on a nine year journey so he has a lot of time on his hands to think about the past. I really liked this section of the story and the Ship of Fools theme O'Brien develops, but it probably could have been edited a bit.

What happens once they get to the new world is where you really get into the supernatural drama and where the charge of heavy-handedness come in. Yeah, it's kind of heavy-handed, but I liked it anyway. It's beautiful. It was perfect for Lent and not a distraction at all. There are passages and images that are going to stick with me for a very long time.

If you made it through Cry of Stone, you'll not have any problems with Voyage and I think you'll really like this one.

lissla lissar said...

I thought the whole part about visiting England was unnecessary and took away from the story. There are parts of his storytelling that I find heavy-handed, but his writing is like an icon. He's part of the reason we became Catholic. I thought, "Anyone who loves God like this, and writes so lovingly about Mary... I think I need to learn more about her". And I did, and started very nervously praying the Rosary.

The part in Father Elijah about Mary and the disciples, and the place where the Theotokos was buried before the Assumption was so beautiful it broke my heart.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

When I put on my critical thinking cap, I can see where you could cut it without damaging the story; but as a non-critical reader I liked it. That's how I feel about Alpha Centauri. And I really don't want to put on that critical cap because I enjoy simply liking the experience of reading.

"his writing is like an icon." Yes! That's it exactly. I really do find myself drawn into contemplation and prayer. His writing is an encounter for me. And yet I always want to suggest it with a long list of caveats because I'm not sure whether it strikes everyone that way. It seems to me there are O'Brien people and non-O'Brien people. For me the most heart-breaking moment has to be the conversion of the count in Father Elijah.

Oh and I love that he's a part of your conversion. That's really fascinating. Sometime I'm going to have to hear your story. Have you written it out on the blog?

lissla lissar said...

Our conversion was largely literary, and started with Chesterton. Actually, if I trace mine back farther, it was probably catalyzed by learning about Blessed Julian of Norwich from Madeleine L'Engle back in high school. I don't think I've blogged about it, but I think I have a post up on a message board about it. I'll see if I can find a link, and I'll put it up for you.

I also recommend O'Brien with caveats.

Oh, here it is: It's from 2006, and we entered the Church at Easter Vigil 2007.