Saturday, April 26, 2014

Published 2:31 PM by with 0 comment

How Many Books Can You Buy for $33?

 The Greater St. Louis Book Sale was this weekend! I always try to go on the free opening morning, standing in line early so that I can be one of the first to peruse the book tables and find gems tucked away for extremely low prices ; )  I saved up and took with me thirty-five dollars in cash, gave myself an hour and fifteen minutes from the time they opened the gates, and wheeled one of the available shopping carts provided.

My policy is to grab any book that looks good, and if after a ten-second evaluation it still looks good, put it in the cart! If you second-guess yourself, someone else will probably grab the book, so there's not a good chance you could come back later to get something you're not sure about. After an hour, I pull off to the side, choose which books I want and can afford, and put the rest in re-stock bins. It's a good system! I'm thankful that I can speed-read so that I can scan as many books as possible.

In the end, I only needed $33 this year. If I'd had more time, I'm SURE there would have been more to find, but there's a reason I set myself a time limit! Almost all of these books are only very lightly used, almost new, or have minor damage (one of the children's books has a small crayon mark on one page). Totally worth it!

This is what I purchased in 2013.

Here's what I nabbed this year!

Several favorites from my own childhood. Harmony is now a fan!

More books for Harmony that I thought she'd like.
A few books that I KNOW Harmony will like.
A replacement for my original copy of "Ballet Shoes" that was so worn it was missing the last
pages (a well-loved novel in our home), and a book by one of my favorite childhood authors.
I'm hoping to collect all the books by Kenneth Thomasma for Harmony and I
to read when she's older!
A book for Harmony and her Irish daddy to read together in a few years.
A book that several of my older students read and highly recommended. Also, a book by Louisa May Alcott
that I had no idea existed! Harmony can read them much later down the road, but I'll enjoy
them for now. 

I've always wanted to read stories by George MacDonald, so here we go!
Never pass up any C.S. Lewis books when you find them for a dollar each!
A novel/almost-autobiography by Rilke that looked interesting, and a "Skeptics Adventures
in Narnia", also quite intriguing.
I squealed out loud when I found this! Standing in line for an hour to get in right away paid off.
Most of the highly desirable books like this get picked up right away on opening morning, which is why
I made a beeline for the poetry/novel table as soon as they let me in to the sale.
 So thankful to find this one that I've been hoping to purchase for over a year! Hooray!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Published 10:49 PM by with 18 comments

This Moment: a New Home!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no a few words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

Yes, that's right: this is a picture of the Mininsky* standing in front of the house we will be moving to in two months! The tiny horses in her hands gave their approval of the lovely backyard already. The house is not very large, but will provide enough space for all of us, including a bedroom for our daughter for the very first time.

While we have enjoyed our time here in the apartment, it's just too small for three adults (my twenty-one year old sister, Emilia, has lived with us for a year) and one toddler. I am THRILLED for many reasons, like...

... no freakishly loud upstairs neighbors blaring music at all hours of the night!

... a washer and dryer in the basement, instead of having to cart our laundry a block away to the nearest apartment laundromat station!

... a fenced-in backyard for playing!

... a sunny porch to grow tomatoes and flowers and herbs!

... more space to have guests over!

... it's only two blocks away from where we're currently living!

... we'll be a few hundred yards away from an incredible local bakery!

... it's at the end of a dead-end street, so there's very little traffic!

... there's a basement for us to escape to when tornado weather occurs!

... we'll be able to have a piano again!

... more space for books, since about a quarter of ours are currently in boxes!

... lots of windows for sunny rooms!

... the chance to decorate a full house!

... wood floors eeeeeeverywhere!

And best of all, a chance for newness, a fresh perspective, a clean slate. I truly love moving, and it will feel wonderful to stretch my wings to a new home.

More updates coming soon!

*The Mininsky is our daughter's Russian mafia nickname. If you know us at all, then you will know that we say this tongue-in-cheek ; )

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Published 7:36 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

How about an Irish version of the "cups" song to start out your day? It sounds SO beautiful in Gaelic!

Save this article, because it has 101 ideas to add more creativity to your life! Perfect to get a fresh start when you're feeling like you are drained of creative thought. I've started the knitted hexagon quilt : )

Okay, I admit it, my go-to television show when it's late at night and I want to nom on ice cream is either something with Gordon Ramsey or Pawn Stars. You may now laugh at me! But I was so pleased with the way Rick Harris from Pawn Stars responded to this letter from a young boy with autism.

I feel like it's rare that I post a religious article, but this one was very important to me. After reading Romans chapter 14 in the women's study I attend, I am rejoicing that there is more freedom for diversity in the church, and this article elaborates on that. The next time you want to say "the Bible DEFINITELY says this", instead ask yourself, "is this MY interpretation of the Bible?" instead. Please read!

There are a ton of awesome articles here, including one that I love called 7 lessons for creatives from the life of J.R.R. Tolkien.

One artist asks herself, "What would Fugazi do?"whenever she is faced with a tough decision regarding her creative work. Check out how the example of a hard-core band is helping this author maintain her integrity!

Now that spring is here, the fresh fruits and vegetables are coming back, and farmer's markets are sooo close to starting again in our area! Here's why you should resist buying a peach in January.

If you followed Anton Checkov's list of eight things that cultured people do, that would be awesome. I am trying to weed out the "false diamonds" from my life, but it can be tricky sometimes.

The fat lady is still singing! Here are the reasons why classical music isn't dead yet!

Oh man... I would LOVE this knitted shawl which portrays the night sky with 350 stars as seen from the north pole! If you have the guts to knit it, here's the actual pattern.


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Published 12:02 PM by with 0 comment

Life is the Teacher

All right, ya'll... even though I've been more silent on this blog, more plans are brewing with my blog about education, Life is the Teacher. If you're interested in checking it out, please also like the new Facebook page I've created for it! On Facebook I'll be posting links of articles about education, fostering discussions, asking questions, sharing quotes, and spreading the word about alternative education methods. Hope you'll join!

This is what I hope to do as I study education!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Published 7:01 AM by with 7 comments

This Moment: Memories of Snow Fading Fast

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Published 7:24 AM by with 0 comment

Griffin and Sabine

Several years ago my good friend Heather asked me if I'd heard of a trilogy of books about two characters called Griffin and Sabine. I had never seen them before, but was instantly intrigued as I began to research them online. They seemed to be surrounded by an air of mystery. Are they art? Are they letters? What does the symbolism mean? And most of all... what happened at the end of the story? 

Shortly afterwards, while visiting Heather in Arkansas, I found the trilogy in a used-book store. It took me an hour to devour my way through the beautiful pages. I can easily say that the combined works make one of the most incredible, complex, imaginative stories I've ever known. It is a romance, a mystery, an exploration of love, a melding of nature's opposites, a fantasy world, a travel through history, an exploration of dreams, a hint of alchemy and Yeats, and a search for what it means to be complete. The words in the books flow like honey, creating the invisible characters of Griffin and Sabine through the course of their developing relationship in postcards, letters, dreams, symbols, imagery, and visions. 

The ending is deliberately open-ended. There are several tiny but very important details that affect how the reader might interpret the finale. As an optimist who finds connections and meaning in everything, I found satisfaction and a positive end to Griffin and Sabine's quest for each other. Someone who views the world through a darker lens may end up feeling confusion, uncertainty, or even dissatisfaction with the end. I believe that each person's individual interpretation of the fate of these two characters says something about the way they process reality. Is the glass half empty or half full? 

Then I found that an entire second trilogy had been written as a sequel to the first! The story was just as intricately beautiful, the characters equally complex as before. Many of my questions about the first trilogy were answered in the most satisfyingly fantastic way, yet I was still left with the air of mystery that first made me interested in Griffin and Sabine at the very beginning. 

Even more than reveling in the story itself, these books continue to help me come to terms with the fact  that I Cannot Explain Everything in Life. This is a big one for me. I like to know Things. I like to feel secure in having the Answers. Yet there are situations and circumstances that I've seen and experienced which I can't explain. There are personal stories here that I'm not ready to share, but briefly, let me say that "truth is indeed stranger than fiction". Some things are black and white. Others.... I'm not sure. For me, the practice of sitting patiently with mystery is aided by the engagement of the imagination. 

I came away from the six-book-long tale with a renewed sense of the absolute wonder of the world. Life is more colorful day by day, if we can only see the magic everywhere, in the mundane and the mysterious. Love is possible... more than possible, it is the only way to salvation and redemption and wholeness. The eternal balance of good and evil, dark and light, yin and yang, male and female, sea and land, fire and water, death and life... all these things are part of the Great Story. 

...I dropped a monstrous conch on my foot. I howled with pain, and a tree ahead of us exploded with blue and yellow macaws. My father, who could see that I didn't know whether to attend to my toe or the feathered fireworks, laughed and whispered, "Pain and beauty, our constant bedfellows." Young as I was, I understood. ~ Sabine feet took me to Paolo Uccello's 'George and the Dragon'. Do you know it? I'd been standing in front of it for a while, my mind like a vacuum, when I had one of those moments of profoundly shocking insight. There was my life laid out before me: I charge around on a toy white horse, lance in hand, wearing funny shining armor that wouldn't protect me from a cigarette lighter, let alone a dragon's breath. I attack these pet dragons, in order to release beautiful maidens who will, I assume, reward me. They, however, are utterly indifferent. They don't care to be released, and I've been fooling myself with a fake sense of purpose. Like George, my back is turned to an infinite sky filled with violent spirals of silver clouds. ~ Griffin

You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened. You do not dismiss a muse at whim. ~ Sabine

I love you unconditionally. Do you hear me, Griffin? Do you see that I cherish you beyond question, that you have nothing to prove to me? You are making your journey to secure yourself. I am already tethered to your side. If you can love yourself as I love you there will be no dislocation- you will be whole. ~ Sabine

Picture from one of the books, copyright Nick Bantock

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