back to our regularly scheduled program

So I am working on a big photo project which I wanted to have done, but it is not...so in its stead I post the funniest online video clips from 2008...



book review: Stet: An Editor's Life

Stuck at home again today. I finished reading Stet: An Editor's Life by Diana Athill almost two weeks ago but have yet to review it. The book was written in 2002 and is a memoir of Ms. Athill's life.

The book was like a rich chocolate cake: best when consumed in small pieces. Hence it took me sometime to get through the whole book, but it was delicious. The book chronicles her life as an editor in London, from WWII to the 80's. She knew so many interesting people and described so many wonderful sounding books by authors I had never heard of. I must have added 10 books to my Amazon Wishlist.

I often wonder what my mom's life was like before she had children. She did not get started until 29, and kept working until 34. She would have been my age when she "retired." I feel like Stet gave me a peek into Linda's life. People were real, they ate, they drank, they slept around, they lived. I have this vision of anyone born before me as being very prim and proper, and this is what I felt was expected of me. So I have been largely prim and proper. Boy was I fooled. Yes, naturally some people tread the thin and narrow line, but others are out there enjoying life. I think my mom, like Ms. Athill, loved and lived a pretty full life before me. (Oh how annoying to realize that the world did not begin with me.)

One particular quote from the book that I loved follows:

"The chief difference, it seems to me, between the person who is lucky enough to possess the ability to create - whether with words or sound or pigment or wood or whatever - and those who haven't got it, is that the former react to experience directly and each in his own way, while the latter are less ready to trust their own responses and often prefer to make use of those generally agreed to be acceptable by their friends and relations. And while the former certainly include by far the creative proportions of individuals who would be difficult to live with, they also include a similarly large proportion of individual who are exciting or disturbing or amusing or inspiring to know." (pg. 244)

One of my girl friends in college and I had planned to live together, and then the opportunity never really presented itself. Then one semester it did. I assumed I would move in my group of girl friends. I remember one of my (still) very close friends telling me that living with me would be too much.

Given my inability to remember what I did yesterday, or what transpired in my childhood, why do I remember this statement? I know she did not mean to hurt me. Yet, even writing this now, it stings a little.

The quote above helped me understand what my girl friend meant. Which I guess is the point of all great literature: to help us understand the human condition. Loving me was one thing and living with me was another.

After reading this and thinking about it, I thanked Brent for both living and loving me.


home sick and seeking nesting

I am home sick today with a head cold. Hoping to get rid of it before we head to St. Louis on Wednesday to see Grammy.

While laying in bed, dreams of houses danced through my head. (Is anyone else noticing the frequent use of the word head?)

Years ago, 1998 to be exact, I fell in love with my first home. The 1998 Life Magazine Dream Home caught my attention. The house is open in the middle, where the kitchen and living areas are. One wing has the bedrooms and the other wing the utility rooms. I loved this house so much I almost bought the plans then. I love the large fireplace. Click this paragraph to see a list of where some of these homes are located. Maybe a reader could do a drive by for me.

I started searching for the plans the other day and found that you can still buy the house plans for $600. How cool.


the economy

I was wondering what/if my loyal readers are doing anything differently in their lives because of the current economic problems? Thoughts?

Brent and I are cutting back on things, eating in more (which is better for our waistlines anyway), and we have been talking about money a lot more. My current job also concerns retirement savings, so I am both concerned that we are not saving enough and worried that putting more money in to retirement savings will be money wasted. We are both really focused on paying down debt.

We have also realized that we conceptualize money differently. He likes to know where he has spent money, and I want to know how much money is left over at the end of the month: what is the amount I have left after paying all of our set monthly costs.

Figuring out how to manage money jointly can be hard, but I think we are getting the hang of it. Each couple does things a little differently.

Grammy called a month ago in the middle of the night worried that the next depression was coming: "Nicole, I ate beans three times a day then, and I don't want to do that again." Wow, not a call you want to get.

In the spirit of the season, we have decided to give away our Christmas money. We were eying this cool desk at our favorite store, when we got an appeal from The House of Ruth, a non-profit in DC. They need money or are going to have close their doors. Click this paragraph to read more about their good works."House of Ruth's vision is to enable the largest number of people we serve to achieve trauma recovery, stable housing, mental health, addiction recovery, employment and abuse-free relationships."

We don't need a new desk.

Life is not a burden for us.



I need a to do list...we had a lovely weekend but I don't think I got nearly enough done! I wanted to get my desk all cleaned up so I could start Christmas cards and wedding thank you cards...instead we had a day of reading and relaxing and napping in the sun.

There is always tomorrow.



This weekend I was in Boise meeting Sean and Caitlin, my new nephew and niece! They are too cute. Click these sentences to go to more pictures at my smugmug site!

I feel kind of bad because I cannot really tell them apart...I think I have both kids here...in black and white it is hard to tell. Caitlin has really red hair and Sean's is more brown...and Sean is quite a bit smaller...but with out the frame of reference that is kind of hard too.

Stayed at a great converted Travel Lodge: The Modern Hotel. You can check it out by clicking this sentence.
What is not to like about fresh French pastries and coffee every morning?



I have a few random obsessions: Easter Island, Socotra (click for more info), Armenia, Lake Baikal (click for more info), and Siberia. Lake Baikal is in Siberia, so they are kind of similar.

What is about the pictures above that lets the viewer know immediately that you are looking at a place in Russia? The colors? The relief of Stalin? The sense of cold bleakness? I don't know.

The photographer, Donald Weber, took this series of photos called "White Nights: Russia after the Gulag." (Click the sentence to see the rest of the photos.

The series is compelling because of the story it tells: you see people in their everyday lives and all you can really think is that is looks awfully cold.

30 million people went through the Russian gulags. 30 million people is equivalent to the population of both Los Angeles and New York combined.

Today Russia's population is only 142 million people today, and is expected to decrease to 100 million by 2050. I can't help but think that maybe they are thinking they should not have killed so many people in the 19th century. (Click sentence to read article from Economist.)



amazing photos

Wow...check out these leaves...no wait...bugs...no wait...leaves...click this sentence to see more...

more on the lottery

Can you believe this...the New Yorker posted an audio version of The Lottery, mentioned here a few months ago. Click this sentence to link to the New Yorker.

If you have itunes you can also add the New Yorker fiction podcast, where they pick a fiction story from the New Yorker archives to read each week. I like the New Yorker in theory...but in practice it comes too often for me...and boy is it a dense read.

address books: part deux

Ok, so I was a little over the top with the address book post. And I feel bad. Since I only have 9 regular readers, I should try to keep you guys...

I love mail, and will give out my address to anyone who asks...no address book lecture required.



We take the Guardian Weekly. I love saying "we take." It seems so quaint. But really, we started getting it about a year ago because it was free. After a month of reading it's VERY left leaning news we decided to keep taking it, mainly because they cover things that the US media does not cover.

World Aids Day...The only reason I knew it happened this week was because some facebook friends changed their profiles in support of the day.

I opened my Guardian Weekly today to find the most interesting picture of HIV, also known as the virus that causes AIDS.

I just keep staring at the beauty of this cell. It is round, yes, but some parts are five sided and some are six sided. Out of the middle of each little five or six sided part, springs something that looks like a flower. Inside these flowers there are little tentacle like short protrusions, also symmetrical. And there are intermittent almost polka dots sitting on top of the cell.

What I can't get over is how beautiful it is. It seems so proportioned, so organized, so planned.

Here is the link to the original article and photo. (Click this sentence.)


wow - who knew?

At first I thought this guy was a joke...wife beater and all, but he does an amazing job with Come Sail Away...really, check it out!