Tuesday, April 30, 2013

above us only sky

Fear is the cheapest room in the house, with the worst view.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives.
The touch of Spirit on the body.

We've had the privilege for the past two nights now to hear a muezzin from Seattle (a muezzin is the person who sings the call to prayer in a mosque).  It's really quite beautiful.  He and another representative of the interfaith community in Seattle came at the invitation of our local multi-faith choir.

Last night, the call to prayer was accompanied by readings of poems by the two Muslim poets Rumi and Hafiz.  The second man told a story, a Muslim folk tale, that I've been thinking about.  His accent was quite heavy and the acoustics in the room were not particularly good, so I probably don't have the details right, but I think this is the gist of it.
There once was a merchant who owned a beautiful parrot.  The parrot was one of his prized possessions.  When he was travelling to India, he asked all of his household, including the parrot, what they would like to receive from India.  The parrot asked the merchant to seek out his wild brethren and to give them his greeting.  The merchant knew this meant that the parrot wished to be free, but he could not bring himself to let he parrot go. 
So the merchant did as the parrot asked and greeted the wild parrots he encountered in the name of his beloved caged friend.  When the wild parrots heard of their caged brother, one of them fell to the ground dead.  The merchant was shocked and mystified.   
When he returned home, he told his parrot of the strange happening.  The parrot immediately also fell down dead.  The merchant was broken-hearted. He carefully removed the parrot from the cage and placed his body on the ground.  Whereupon the parrot revived and flew up to the top of the garden wall. 
I immediately understood the message of my brothers, the parrot told him.  If you want to soar, sometimes you must play dead for awhile.
The storyteller told us that the story has been applied to various different situations for centuries, including temptation (sometimes the best way to deal with temptation is to put your obsession to death--figuratively put it to death), success (sometimes the best way to get what you want is to give it up), and compromise (sometimes the best way to make your point is to give your ideas a rest).  Interesting, yes?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Riffday: Another one already?

1. Thanks for your patience with my whiney day on Friday, but I have to say there were more comments on that post than on anything in a long time, so maybe I should whine more often.

2. There was a brief discussion about migraine remedies in the comments of that post, so I will update you on what I've tried.  Hmmm. that could get fairly long. what I've tried in the past week, let's put it that way.  Just a couple of weeks ago I read about another blogger's near-miraculous success with peppermint oil.  I've heard of lavender (which gives me a headache), but not peppermint oil.  So I tried it, and I give it a guarded thumbs-up.  For low-level headaches, it works as well as advil.  It didn't do anything for the major one I had on Tuesday.  Eva mentioned ginger, which was also new to me. I have ginger tea here at the house but I haven't used it as a headache remedy.  It worked better than the peppermint oil, but still not as well as Maxalt--which is the prescription drug I've used for years now.  But Maxalt is expensive and has side effects and I start running out of it when I have a long run of headaches, so overall I'm happy to know about both of these. All remedies are individual in how well they work, but these are definitely worth a try if you are also a headache sufferer.

3. We've never had a dog that likes to ride in the car before.  Zeke, the border collie who was our first child, hated to ride in the car and would drool all over the place (which our vet said was a sign of carsickness).  Jazz is happy to go in the car but she gets so obnoxiously excited that I can't stand to take her anywhere.  She spends the whole trip with her head hanging over the seat, panting.  But Sadie just wants to go.  If I pick up my keys, she heads straight for the back seat, and she settles right down and goes to sleep.  It's kind of nice to have company on my interminable rounds of errands.  I've joined the legions of Montanans who drive around with their dog(s) in the car.

4.  April Reading Report:  Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen (fun book, perfect vacation read).  If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell (interesting insider look at the movie industry).  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (fabulous, wonderful, loved it--but it's Gaiman so no surprise there).  Women Food and God by Geneen Roth (thought provoking. It seemed to me to be more about life in general and applicable to men as well, unlike the title sounds).  All of them good and well worth reading, but none of them seemed worth writing out a full review.  Or maybe I'm just not in the mood this month.  Some thoughts inspired by the Geneen Roth book may show up later.

5. I think we should all read Great Gatsby before the movie comes out.  It's not that long (less than 200 pages) and it's not a terribly difficult read.  It doesn't have a happy ending, but the writing is beautiful.  I might even vote for it for the Great American Novel, or at least one of them--I suppose we could create subcategories: "Greatest U.S. Novel about the Myth of the Self-Made Man."

6.  Brag On My Children Time:  MadMax broke the freshman record for discus throw at a meet on Saturday--for his high school and possibly for the state.  And PellMel got into medical school--it happened about a month ago but I don't think I ever told you. So she will be busy for the Next Eight Years.  My children totally rock.

7.  I sang tenor in choir this week!  There were four altos but only two tenors, so I moved up to the top row with the guys.  It was fun.

Friday, April 26, 2013

in which Aunt BeaN waxes neurotic

I don't know if you can tell from the few posts I've done over the past month or so, but things have been a bit rough for me lately.  For one thing, I've started having headaches again.  Lots of them.  In the past four months, I've had almost as many days with headaches as without--sometimes just a low-level irritating ache, sometimes full-on miserable migraines.  It's frustrating and irritating and makes me grumpy as hell.  Just ask my family.

I want to be able to overcome them through force of will.  Other people don't have chronic headaches, so it must be some flaw in me that makes this happen, right?  So if I do everything right, get all my ducks in a row and avoid caffeine and sugar and make sure I get daily exercise and take my vitamins and meditate daily and and and, then they'll stop, right?  I can control them.  I know I can. *grits teeth and mutters must. be. in. control.*

But it never seems to work that way.  Doing everything just right seems to work for some people, but for some reason it doesn't work for me.  Dean is naturally one of the people who can accomplish pretty much whatever he wants through force of will.  But when I try it, first of all I can never quite manage to get it 100% right-- there are always those moments of weakness where I choose the iced latté or I forget to meditate or I just freaking don't want to exercise today.

But also it turns into a kind of moral perfectionism--an insistence that if I do what I'm supposed to do, I've paid my dues and everything in my life should turn out just right, because damn it I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to do so I deserve the life I think I should have, a life that fits in with some mythical standard in my head of what it should be like.

And that never works.  When I state it baldly like that, the flaws in my logic are clear-- bad things happen to people who are doing everything right.  There are no guarantees.  Just because you go to church and say your prayers and pay your taxes doesn't mean you get a guarantee that everything will turn out fine. And anyway, what I "should" want has absolutely no bearing on anything.

The frustration for me comes because it looks like other people can get this to work.  They do what they're supposed to do, and it works--they're healthy and happy and functional.  When I do all the things I believe I'm supposed to do, I am restless.  (Suddenly we aren't just talking about headaches.)  I want to be like everyone else.  I'm willing to lop off arms and legs and ideas and dreams to fit into my idea of what my life should be like.

But then I get the headaches.  And I'm not happy.  No matter how badly I want to be able to be happy with the things I think I'm supposed to be happy with, I'm not.  Maybe I should be grateful for the headaches, yes?  And maybe I should recognize that I don't know what the hell is going on in anyone else's life.  When I look enviously at someone who looks like they've got everything going the way they want it, it may be a reflection of my own insecurities I see, my need to beat myself up, not anything real.

Is this making even the slightest bit of sense?  Funny, as I'm thinking back over times in my life when I've had bad bouts of headaches, every time it has served to nudge me out of a rut of determination to make myself fit into someone else's life.  (or my idea of what someone else's life is like.)  And no one does this to me--it's my own determination, my own self pressuring me.  I'm fricking fifty-one years old and I'm still figuring this stuff out.  This seems like something you should deal with when you're 25.

See?  measuring myself by a mythical Someone Else's standards.  There's a phrase going around on Fitocracy and Facebook these days that I should have tattooed on my wrist so I can see it all the time:  Comparison is the thief of joy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Riffday: too much TV

1. I stayed up until after 2 a.m. last night (Thursday night) watching the manhunt. Turns out the guy they hunted down in the wee hours last night was uninvolved.  He was just an innocent bystander who was stripped and handcuffed and interrogated by the FBI up against a wall with a flashlight in his face, but he was just a normal guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You could tell it was a major blunder because nobody talked about it this morning--he hasn't even been mentioned all day.  Only those of us who were still watching in the middle of the night will remember.  He has my prayers, because what an awful, awful experience.  I wouldn't be able to sleep for months.  In fact, I had a hard time falling asleep last night because I watched too much.  The entire scenario is difficult to wrap your brain around.  Even though they have the second suspect in custody now, the whole thing just leaves me feeling a little bit sick to my stomach--all of it, from the bombings on Monday to the crowds chanting "USA" on TV tonight, as if we had won a soccer game.

2.  I mourned the damage to the marathon community in my last post, but on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert reminded me how unlikely it is that marathoners will be deterred by terrorism:  "But here is what these cowards really don't get. They attacked the Boston Marathon. An event celebrating people who run 26 miles on their day off until their nipples are raw — for fun. And they have been holding it in Boston since 1897. ...And when those bombs went off, there were runners who, after finishing a marathon, kept running for another two miles to the hospital to donate blood. So here's what I know. These maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are."

3.  Moving on.  We had more winter this past week than we did when it was actually winter.  Enough already.  Today we finally had some blue sky and it got up to 48, which is the best we've had in awhile.  Every year I get tired of wearing a jacket and wool socks somewhere at the end of March, so I stop.  So now I am cold all the time.

4.  Sadie outgrew her puppy collar and got a real collar a couple of months ago.  We underestimated how big she was going to be--she outgrew that one, too.  Now she has a beautiful turquoise collar and she looks quite stylish.  And big.

5.  During her catbox problems, we thought Cinder, our 16-year-old cat, was at death's door.  So I thought we could indulge her a bit.  We have always fed our pets dry pet food since that's what every vet we've ever been to recommends.  But since I thought Cinder was about to die, why not get her Trout and Cod Buffet in Gravy? or Savoy Salmon Feast?  Needless to say, she was thrilled about her new diet, and because of that or some other reason, she perked right up.  So now she is addicted to smelly, nasty canned cat food and I can't quite bear to stop giving it to her--partly because she is so elderly, and partly because she has a high-decibel yowl that she has no problem using when she's unhappy with us (which fortunately isn't very often).  It would be about as miserable for us as it would be for her.  The things we do for our pets.  At least it's cheap.  (she still gets her dry food, too, don't worry.)

6. Going back to this conversation:  I read yet another book discussion this morning where people were equating "lack of resolution" at the end of a book with "real" life.  I still just don't get this.  One woman said that the book under discussion ended "messily," just like real life is a mess.  And that makes some sense to me, more sense than saying "lack of resolution" is the same thing as real life.  In real life, resolutions do happen--people fall in love and get married, or change jobs and find the change fulfilling and satisfying, or work very hard to achieve a goal and then reach the goal.  Why is it less like real life to end a story after one of those resolutions than to end it in between resolutions?  Why is it only "real" if it ends in despair, chaos, or confusion? You like unresolved endings, fine.  But don't tell me it's not real unless it's unresolved and depressing.  Of course I know that "real" life rarely has happily ever afters, but this adamant opinion that a "realistic" novel must be depressing and miserable seems as stubbornly unrealistic as the candy-coated opposite.

7.  I have a friend I dearly love here locally who is famous for greeting her women friends with "Hey, beautiful!!" or "Hi, gorgeous!" or "Hey there, hottie!"  When I first met her years ago it seemed fake, because she always said it, even when I was wearing grungy clothes and looking my worst.  But after awhile, I found myself counting on it--even when I was feeling my very most ugly, if Nat was going to be there, I knew I could count on her to tell me I looked great.

We were very sad to find out a couple of months ago that she and her family are moving at the end of the school year.  Earlier this week, I was commiserating with another friend about how much we will miss her.  That friend said, "Who is going to tell us we're beautiful now?"  We both laughed, because we're in our 50s and obviously not many people are going to tell us we're gorgeous and hot anymore.  But I got to thinking about it later and realized how odd that is.  We are beautiful.  We're genuine and real and our lives show in our faces.  I decided that I'm going to start telling more of my friends that they're beautiful.  Because it's true.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lighting a candle for Boston

Dean has run in marathons.  Five of them.  It was a long time ago now, probably ten years since he ran the last one.  I'm afraid I wasn't the most supportive wife.  Marathon training takes hours and hours (and hours and hours), and MadMax was small and toddler-ish for the early ones.  I wasn't happy that Dean was not only gone long hours at work, but then had long hours of marathon training on top of it.

But in spite of my grumpiness about his commitment to marathon training, I loved the marathon day itself.  It's hard to describe if you've never been to one.  The finish line is a place of joy and celebration--not so much for the elite runners who finish early (although even that is really cool, to see these amazing athletes sail across the finish line as if they'd just been for a jog around the block), but for the average people who come along an hour or two later.  Average being relative of course, because they're still finishing a marathon, which is hardly average.

You see people who are weeping with relief at finishing their first one, or limping in pain but still determined to finish, or defiant and triumphant with their arms raised, or calm and composed but just slow.  There are people who are running to prove that they've beaten cancer or some other disease, people who are running in honor of someone who can't run, people who are running to raise money for all kinds of good causes.  For all of them, first-timers and experienced marathoners, it's an incredible achievement.  The finish line is a joyous celebration.  There's music and applause, fist bumps and high fives, cramps and nausea, hugs and tears.  It's inspiring and amazing and so happy.

And then there are those bombs exploding in the middle of it.  It just sickens me.  My heart goes out to everyone involved, the families, the victims, the responders, the traumatized spectators, the runners who didn't get to finish.  Every marathoner everywhere, everyone who loves a marathoner or has cheered for one or has witnessed a race, is grieving for something that will never be the same again.

Shame on you, whoever is responsible.  Shame on you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

to journal or not to journal, that is a question

I think I am going to start journaling again.

There is a history here.  I started keeping a journal when I was in high school, and I was an obsessive journaler.  I would start writing late at night and go on for pages and pages.  I wrote about who I had a crush on and how my classes were going and God and the Bible and my parents and how much they misunderstood me.

At the time, it seemed horribly significant.  I would write a paragraph that seemed particular beautiful, and I would want to share it with everyone (thank god, I never did, because I was also horribly shy about my writing).  I would think, the world needs to read this.

Ah, the megalomania of youth.

Then I spent years in therapy (it was what one did back in the 80s), and like most people who go through some kind of therapy, I found it helpful.  It gave me some perspective on my life, helped me grow up and be less self-obsessed.

For better or for worse, the new, more mature me equated journaling with all that self-obsession.  All the endless ruminating on what I was thinking and feeling, the belief that it was so important that it needed to be written down. Even though I never showed it to anyone, I believed in some tiny corner of my mind that someday someone would find it and read it, because it was important.

So I stopped.  I haven't kept a journal in more than fifteen years.  Eventually I started this blog, and then I had a place to write when I was trying to work something out in my head that didn't feel so self-absorbed, because you guys read it and you give me feedback and I can tell which posts are interesting and which ones are just meandering bits of fluff.  It doesn't feel so enclosed.

But I've got lots going on in my head these days, and I don't usually post private stuff.  Occasionally I publish posts here that are so personal that I am later embarrassed (I would link to an example or two, but that would just call attention to posts that I really am not sure I want anyone to read).  But usually I write about what I'm reading, or what I was learning in school, or some issue that is interesting to me and that I think will be interesting to you.

For the last several weeks, everything I can think of to write about feels too private (and maybe more importantly, too boring) to post here.  The thought of journaling still bugs me, though.  It's strongly associated in my mind with a particular period in my history that I don't want to revisit.  But there's stuff in my head that I need to get out.

I know some of you keep journals, do you have any advice?  I decided to try it this morning.  I sat down this morning and stared at the blank screen for awhile and couldn't get up any enthusiasm to write about anything.  So I fell back on an old standby from when I used to go to those spirituality workshops which seemed to always promote journaling-- write a list.  Start with "I am" statements (I am a mother, I am a student, I am hungry, I am lonely, I am not sure I want to do this, etc), and then let yourself branch out, but keep to a list format.  I made it to 30 statements in about eight minutes, so I guess that is pretty good.  Huh.  I just found myself thinking, "But I still would rather write something that feels important enough to post here."  Interesting.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

blessed are the peacemakers, except when they take themselves too seriously

I've never really studied birth order theories very much (although I did just read the Wikipedia article), but I've heard that middle children are usually peacemakers.  Whether I got that way because of being the middle of three daughters, or whether I would have ended up that way anyway, I seem to be cursed with the compulsion to mend fences.  Or at least, to try and help people see their opponents' point of view.

It's a tough time to be a peacemaker, because other than the six or seven of us who have the urge, nobody else seems to want peace--or at least, they don't want it unless it comes in the form that supports their agenda.  Finding common ground, resolving polarites--it all involves compromise, and that is not the spirit of our times.  This is a time of knowing what you believe, knowing that your opponents are wrong, digging in your heels, and refusing to give in.  It's admirable in many ways.  In a less divided time, we admire people who have strong beliefs and refuse to compromise.

But if you've got that peacemaker urge, it's like being stretched on a rack all the time these days.

Oh, good lord.

Do NOT google "stretched on rack torture" and then click on "images."  What was I thinking?  I thought I'd find an illustration--maybe a funny cartoon-- for how this feels, but trust me, it doesn't feel as bad as those pictures.  Blecch.  I could have lived a long time without having those pictures in my head.

Well, it worked to get my head cleared.  I was feeling all angst-y about my urge to be a peacemaker, to build bridges in an age when nobody wants to see things from their opponents' point of view, but that was a good slap up side the head to remind me that my life is just not that fricking hard.  Get over yourself, Aunt BeaN.  and for the record can I just say how happy I am I was not born in the Middle Ages.

Moving on.  Seems like when I sat down that was going somewhere, but now I can't remember where, and I need to keep typing until I get that crap out of my head, so let's see... what else could I tell you.  It snowed twice today, which was unwelcome (it's MID-APRIL) but not all that unexpected around here.  But even if we get enough to stick overnight, it won't last long.

Have I told you about singing in choir?  I spent quite a bit of time singing in various choirs when I was a kid--in elementary school I was in a group that sang at various community events, in high school I was in our youth choir at church (which involved trips and contests--called "festivals" in Southern Baptist-land because it wasn't supposed to be about competition but you better believe we knew exactly how well we did), in college I joined the choir at a local church for a couple of semesters, and for a few years after college I sang in my church choir and also in a women's ensemble.

Then we joined a church with a really good choir--the kind where you had to audition, and people with average voices need not apply--and then we moved here and somehow I just never joined the choir.  But for various reasons there have been a number of defections from the alto section recently, so egged on by a friend, I joined the choir.  It's been fun, and also it has increased my church attendance from about once a month to 3-4 times a month.  That has to be good, right?

And that's enough for tonight.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

advice needed

I'm going to apply this week to teach non-credit classes at our community college.  Our CC is terrific-- very involved in the community and committed to providing the kinds of education/training that local employers want, as well as the usual--providing the first two years of college for students who want to go on to a four-year school.  But another wonderful thing they do is provide a forum for continuing education--non-credit classes that anyone can take about any topic that interests them.  Now that I've finished school, I can present a proposal to teach a non-credit class (or as many as I want).

First of all, this is scary to me. Funny--when I was younger but didn't have the credentials, I would have confidently stepped up to the plate, sure that I could teach people just about anything I know, and probably wing it to teach some things that I don't know all that well.  Now I am older and have the credentials, but I can't imagine that I have anything useful to teach anybody.  Oh, to be young and cocky again.

So here are my ideas, tell me which ones you think might work.  And also let me know what else you'd find interesting.

Ulysses-- James Joyce's 1921 masterpiece is often referred to as the greatest novel of the twentieth century, but few people have read it.  Ulysses is the story of a single day--June 16, 1904-- in Dublin, following Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom as they make their way around the city, and ending with a chapter from Molly Bloom, Leopold's wife.  The eighteen episodes present a variety of narrative strategies employed by Joyce to represent the complexity of conveying human experience.  This eight week course will be a guided tour of the novel, providing the background and context you need to take on this challenging work.

NaNoWriMo-- Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month?  Every year in November, thousands of writers use the motivation of NaNoWriMo to finish a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days.  This class will meet for two weeks in October to plan our novels, plus weekly meetings and online support during the month of November to write a first draft.  It's crazy, fun, and addictive! (Note: you don't need to take this class to participate in NaNoWriMo, which is free and open to everyone at the NaNoWriMo website.)

What's Happening in Young Adult (YA) Literature-- This four-week course is designed to serve as both a survey of contemporary YA literature and a forum for generating ideas for encouraging teenagers to read.  We will read a novel each week, with suggested options for reading many more.  Course topics will include:  Get Your YA Out: Defining YA Literature, Current Trends, Beyond the Bestseller Lists, and Encouraging Reluctant Readers: Non-Fiction, Humor, Adventure, and Illustrated Novels.  The course is open to teens and adults who are interested in YA literature. 

History of the Romance Novel--Romance novels generate over a billion dollars a year in sales, yet many readers hold them in contempt.  What's going on?  This six week course will start with a discussion of "women's fiction": what is meant by the term? why is its use often an implicit criticism? are women such indiscriminate readers that they are incapable of determining what is "good" literature?  is there a place for stories about heterosexual love in the midst of changing ideas about gender and orientation? We will read a novel each week, starting with Jane Austen and moving forward to contemporary novels, along the way covering topics such as the evolution of the heroine, romance as a vehicle for exploring sexual politics, and subgenres such as mystery, suspense and paranormal.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

point and counter-point

As you know, we live in an out-of-the-way corner of an underpopulated state.  When we moved here, there were three small bookstores, and I visited them often, but they were small.  So when Amazon started (I just googled, it was 1994), I was in heaven.  I could browse to my heart's content at any hour of the day or night, and they had every obscure book that I could dream of. I adored Amazon.  I've subsequently learned a few things about their business practices that disturb me, but there will always be a little corner of my book-loving heart that belongs to Amazon.

A big part of the appeal for me was the customer reviews.  In 2013, you never know if it's a "real" review or one that someone has been paid to write, but for a long time after Amazon started, there was a real community of opinionated booklovers who passed reviews and recommendations back and forth at a furious rate.

And surprisingly, Amazon allowed negative reviews.  I'm pretty sure they were the first major retailer to do that--now it's common enough, but back in the day, it was a courageous statement of commitment to their customers' experience.  Here they are trying to sell stuff, and yet they let users write terrible reviews of their products and they leave them up where anyone can read them.   I loved it. 

I wrote quite a few reviews early on, but once I started a blog I stopped-- now I post my reviews here.  I've deleted most of the ones I had on Amazon.  But occasionally, when I feel that I have something to add that I wish someone had told me before I bought a book, I'll still post something.

About a year and a half ago, I posted a review of a cookbook called The Breakfast Book. It had nearly all glowing five-star reviews.  But I thought it was about the most boring cookbook I'd ever seen--it had recipes for biscuits from scratch and scones from scratch and several different ways to cook eggs, but it was all basic stuff that I already had in my big fat Fannie Farmer cookbook.  What I wanted was inspiration, some new ideas for things we could eat for breakfast on a typical chaotic day; what this cookbook gave me was just a bunch of basic recipes that would only have worked for us on a leisurely Saturday morning (if we ever had a leisurely Saturday morning), not a busy weekday.  

So I posted a review to prevent another cook like me from making the same $16 mistake, giving it three stars out of five (you can skip down to the next paragraph if you're pressed for time, this is just here for the sake of completeness):
I ordered this purely based on the glowing reviews it receives here. Once I received it, it took me awhile to figure out why everyone loves it so much, because it didn't seem that great to me. I think to appreciate this cookbook, you have to love to cook. I don't hate cooking, but I don't love it the way some do-- I would never, for example, choose to make my own cheese when you can get perfectly good cheese at the grocery and even better at the gourmet foods store. But [the author] provides a recipe for cheese, because "this is exactly the cheese I've always wanted to make at home." If you read that and think, "Great! I've always wanted to try making cheese!" then this is the cookbook for you-- there are some great recipes here (and not just for cheese, of course, there are all kinds of buns and muffins and egg dishes, etc.). But if you're like me and see that recipe and think, "Why the heck would anyone want to bother making their own cheese?" then you probably want to look for another cookbook. I just wanted more ideas for quick breakfasts for my morning-challenged family, and although there are a few of those here, not enough to make it worth the purchase price. 
I hadn't thought about that review in months, but a couple of days ago I got an e-mail that another user had left a comment on it.  I didn't ask her for permission to post the comment here, but it would be really complicated to tell you how to get to it at Amazon, and she did post it in a very public place, so I'm reproducing it here anyway:
That's the problem with people today, most people just want to go to the grocery store and buy things that they need as opposed to spending some time learning how to make healthy foods. Of course you can simply go to the grocery store and buy some random pack of cheese, but do you have any idea of what you're actually paying for? I am one of those people who have read labels, done research, and have learned what is really in store-bought foods and I love the idea of making my own foods at home. Homemade trumps store-bought any day and I don't understand why you would write such a negative review about the recipe for homemade cheese. Our society is full of lazy people who would rather make a food company rich as opposed to learning new skills regarding making homemade food.
Whoa!!  Really?  I don't think I've ever been grouped in with the people who are "the problem today."  The more I thought about this, the more dumbfounded I was.  The number of conclusions she jumped to just because I don't want to make all of my own food from scratch astounded me.  I'm lazy because I don't love to cook!  (what if I just have other things I'd rather do?)  Since I'm willing to buy cheese at the grocery store, I never read labels and have no idea what's in the foods I buy!  (I'm actually a pretty dedicated reader of labels, and I do my best to buy food with a minimum of additives.)  Any food made at home is better than any food that you can buy!  (seriously? anything a mediocre cook (me) makes at home is necessarily going to be better than a food made by someone who knows what they're doing?) (not all foods that you buy at a store are made by huge corporations, by the way.)

So I replied and told her that.  But I'm still a bit offended and a lot amused at her strident tone.

So, that's all.  I just thought you might be interested in the exciting life I lead.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

spring break in pictures

We are all feeling a little dreary tonight because it is about 48 degrees and raining back here at home and spring break is over tomorrow.  But climbing around the rocks was fun.  I even tried mountain biking one day.  Verdict:  fun, and beautiful scenery, but I prefer to be on pavement when on a bike, thank you very much.  Probably won't do that again.  But the hikes were great and here is some high desert scenery for you:

(The tiny people standing in the arch are Dean and PellMel)
MadMax, absolutely no respect for his poor mother's acrophobia

All three of them, I could barely look

Canyonlands NP

Mesa Arch

More Canyonlands