Sail Away

I may have mentioned this before, but I have a particular preference for a very specific genre of literature: the couple-sells-everything-buys-a-boat-quits-their-jobs-and-sails-the-world genre.  If they’ve been written, I have either read them or put them on my to-read list.

The stories are all essentially the same. One or both of the couple is unsure, things get bad and then they get worse, unbearable boredom and/or seasickness, there’s a whale/dolphin sighting, friendly hospitable islanders take the couple in, they realize how much they love sailing, they reluctantly head home, lives are changed forever. And yet, I finish one and can’t wait to start the next.

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We Took to the Woods

I always have a book that I’m reading and a stack of books I plan to read at some point, but lately, with work being so busy that I rarely get to take a lunch break to sit and read, I have been going through books so slowly, it’s embarrassing.

My family surely gets bored of me talking about “that book I’m reading” especially if it’s a really good one, like the one I just finished: We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich (also known to my family these past, long weeks as “that book I’m reading about the lady in Maine”). This book affected me so that I’ve been telling everyone about it for the past month and a half I’ve been reading it.  Most books I read get no more mention than a listing on my Read books shelf on Goodreads, but I think that We Took to the Woods deserves more.

The book is an account of the Rich family living in very rural northern Maine in the mid-1930s.  They have no electricity or running water, yet they want for nothing and they are as perfectly content as you could imagine. Louise, who wrote this book in her early-30s, was a wife and mother and keen observer of the world.  She was fearless and hilarious and I have never been a notes-in-the-margins kind of a reader, but this book caused me to turn up the corners of many pages so I could refer back to some of her fantastic passages.

Talking about walking up to the lake to view the “exotic” river drivers moving logs down stream for the first time:

I’ll admit I was in a dither. The men in my life to date had been distinguished more for their intelligence, good citizenship, and consideration for their mothers than for dashing and romantic attributes.  The most athletic played good tennis.  The most daring crossed streets between traffic lights and talked back to cops. I’d never known any men in the business of danger.

On a conversation with her husband Ralph:

Every married woman knows the look he gave me—the very special look husbands save for their wives when they say something more than usually stupid; the look combines in equal proportions disgust, resignation, and nausea, with a dash of dismay at the prospect of living to be a grandfather with such a half-wit.

And this perfect passage that sums up my feelings exactly. We don’t live in the woods as Louise did, but we live farther out than a lot of our friends do, and coming to our house is usually a trip for them:

We have swell friends, as I suppose everyone has, and we’d much rather see them here, undiluted by people we don’t like than Outside. So if they are willing to put up with my off-hand meals for the sake of lounging around in their oldest clothes and being free to do and say what they please; if they are willing to swap their own good beds for our not-so-good ones plus a lot of excellent scenery and fishing; if they want to take the long, involved trip in with nothing much at the end except us and the assurance that they are very much more than welcome, why, that’s the way we want it, too. And that’s the way we have it.

There were so many more dog-eared corners of this book with countless passages that I loved, but rather than bore you, I encourage you to read it for yourself. You will feel blessed with all that you have now, and maybe like me, will feel like running deeper into the woods to live more simply, as Louise did.

And now, before you hop over to Amazon to purchase your own copy, because sorry, but I’m not lending mine out for fear that I might not get it back, one last gem from Louise that ends the book:

Discontent is only the fear of missing something. Content is the knowledge that you aren’t missing a thing worth-while.

Stuff and Such

I’m feeling somewhat scattered lately. Small random thoughts don’t make for nice long posts, so here’s what’s been bouncing around in my head.
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I keep having the weirdest dreams.  Over the weekend I dreamt that Luke kept sneaking up and pulling a knife on me.  When I screamed at him, he would tell me over and over, “You need to know how to react! You need to know how to react!”  Then I dreamt that I was hosting a big barbecue for all of my favorite crafty bloggers.  They were all there – Amy of Angry Chicken, Claire of Loobylu, Amanda of SouleMama, Betz White, Patricia of A Little Hut – but I insisted on observing them through the windows from inside the house, since that’s how I usually spy into their lives online.
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I will never be cutting edge.  Last night I watched my first episode of 30 Rock and now I’m hooked.  Netflix has season one and two available to watch instantly so I blew through most of season one while cleaning the house last night.  So funny – where have I been?
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And speaking of cleaning, I think Method’s Multi-Surface Cleaner must surely be made of magic.  I usually use Simple Green to clean everything but it’s not great on glass and I’m tired of the smell.  I bought a bottle of the lavender scented Method cleaner and – holy crap.  It’s magical.  It cleaned EVERYTHING.  No streaks, no residue – it even cleaned the smudges off the stainless case on my MacBook.  Now I’m on a cleaning binge and I want to wipe everything down with this miracle cleaner.
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I just finished reading one of my birthday books. French Milk by Lucy Knisley was the first comic-style book I’ve ever read.  It’s a hand drawn journal of her month-long trip to Paris with her mom and I loved it.  I read it in two days and now I want to go to Paris.  Also India, thanks to a conversation I had with someone headed to India to visit family for a month.  Time to get a part-time job to fund my travel fantasies.

Growing Older But Not Up

I really wish that everyone would declare a three-day weekend on their birthday.  I took Friday off to celebrate my turning 33 and spent the weekend celebrating and enjoying and smiling.  It was the best birthday weekend ever.  It kicked off Thursday evening with the repainting of my kitchen.

I call this color “33rd Birthday Blue”.  After the change of cabinet hardware and the painting of my washer and dryer, the only next logical step was painting the kitchen walls the most amazing shade of electric turquoise you’ve ever seen.  It makes me happy just looking at it.

My birthday was as perfect as could be, starting with breakfast cupcakes, then sushi for lunch, Mexican for dinner, presents, family, laughs, but guess what?  No pictures.  I didn’t take a single picture on my birthday.  Neither did my usually camera-toting sister.  That’s OK, you can just take my word for it, it was a perfectly beautiful day.

Check out some of my loot!  I’m going to be very busy.  On top there is the extremely sharp (trust me) pair of left-handed dressmaker’s shears I mentioned on here a few weeks ago.  My mom, she can take a hint.

The rest of the weekend was spent, as usual, in the garden.  Also in the hammock, enjoying the view of the garden.

I managed to finally plant the veggie garden.  Two kinds of Swiss chard, three kinds of cucumbers, yellow and green summer squash, basil, sunflowers, zinnia, cosmos, and this coming weekend the tomatoes will go in (after I buy the plants at the Farmer’s Market).

It’s all very neat and orderly and makes me happy just looking at it.  Of course in a few weeks when the weeds take over, it will make me feel overwhelmed looking at it, but for now I’m loving it.

It truly was a perfect weekend.  Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate and a big shout out to Mother Nature for sending the amazing weather.

Much Better

Thank you to everyone who voted. By a 7 to 2 vote, you’ve given me permission to throw that awful book under the oil tank and move on to better, sassier, and pinker reading. Which I did immediately with The Debutante Divorcee (thank you Amanda). Quite fluffy, quite pink.

On an unrelated subject, although it does fall under the heading of Things That Are Now Much Better, I would like to publicly thank Netflix and congratulate them on their customer service. The week before last, there was some sort of gremlin in the works at Netflix HQ and the DVD shipping was out of whack. Netflix was the first to alert me of the issue with a big banner on the site telling me that they screwed up, they were working on fixing it, and they were sorry.

I didn’t get any movies at all last week, and the one movie they said they sent over the weekend never arrived. I went through the standard “report a problem” process to say, hey, I wanted that movie, (Definitely, Maybe), please resend. Today I got an email from Netflix apologizing for the issue, giving me a free rental, and crediting my account for 25% of my monthly fee.

They admitted they made a mistake, they assured their customers that they were working on the issue, they apologized, AND they gave their customers free stuff to show how sorry they were. Bravo Netflix. You’ve just made a customer for life with what could have been a frustrating and annoying glitch. I wish some other companies (Sprint, I’m looking at you) would follow suit.

To Read, or Not to Read…

I’m not sure if you’ve ever taken a peek at my list of “read” books on Goodreads, but a good number of them are either 1.) chick lit, 2.) Brit lit, or 3.) Brit chick lit. It’s like brain candy, I can’t help it. I’ve never been British or a 30-something singleton so there’s just something exotic and adventurous about those pink, fluffy paperbacks. I have been feeling guilty lately and decided that maybe, before I start another book I borrowed from Amanda (a fellow chick lit-lover) maybe I should read something different.

I started a book that was recommended to me, written by a design critic about how we get so attached to our “things” and what this means about us. Well… zzzzzzzzzzz. This book is so awful and I’m only about a quarter of the way into it. I can’t bear to finish it, but I feel bad not finishing a book.

I can say with confidence that I’ve only ever not finished two books in my life. One I wrote about a while ago, and as awful as it was, I’m still determined to read it one day. The other was a book by Anita Shrieve that I found under the oil tank in the basement of our house when we moved in. After reading several chapters, I decided that the previous owners of the house must have thrown the book there out of frustration because it really was that bad.

So tell me what you think. Should I give up? Should I keep reading hoping it might get better. I’m curious, what would you do? Are you a dedicated reader no matter what, or are you a quitter like I want to be?

No Proof

I’ve been busy, I swear. I just can’t prove it right now. I haven’t been taking pictures of some things I’ve done, and others I can’t show you because they’re surprises for certain people who may read this blog…

This week I managed to not only get halfway through one of my new books (Certain Girls – I heart Jennifer Weiner), but to also water my new trees, AND plant seeds in the garden. I also managed to get bit by something while working in the garden and now have an ominous red splotch on my calf that I’m keeping an eye on.

Last night after procrastinating for weeks, I finally started to make my the pajama pants I’m planning to give to my sister for her birthday. It’s the first time I’ve attempted to make clothes, and the first time I’ve tried to use a pattern, and those two things scared me into serious put-it-off-as-long-as-possible mode. After going through the process all white-knuckled, I really don’t know what I was so worried about. I think I like working with patterns! After about an hour and a half, I’m almost finished with the pants and they’re adorable. They were simple and they’re cute and I think I’ll make myself a pair when I’m done!

While I sewed, I also finished watching the first and second seasons of Weeds from Netflix last night, just in time for my scheduled delivery today of the third season, just released on DVD. I can’t wait. Much more sewing, and pajama pant-making and I promise, photo-taking to come this weekend. Have a great one!