Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My almost rare book find

I got some good finds at the Second Time Around store again! In the craft section I found two sweet little stamps that I liked very much, for .75. I'd bought a couple others last month and used them this past weekend. They work good. See?

I tried them out on my 90 lb weight Strathmore paper in the Visual Journal, another find from the same store earlier this year. The paper soaks up quite a lot of material, as I'd also found when using acrylic paints, but the stamps with ink still showed up very well. I'd purposely used little ink, or a lot of ink, or pressed hard, or pressed lightly to see how the paper reacted to the material being added to it. This page will be a background for collage at some point.

Here are the two stamps I'd found today. They are so cute!

I really like the pears.

I also found a Spurgeon Morning & Evening devotional in paperback for .75. A plain blue book with no dust jacket intrigued me and as I opened it I saw that it was a "Room Design" book. The book had luscious pictures of all manner of well-designed spaces. it was $1. I put it in the cart immediately!

Also in the craft section were stickers of a graphic geometric nature, which I decided I'd use as borders for some journaling. The book that got me really excited was Dune by Frank Herbert. I looked at the inside page and the publication date was 1965 and the edition looked like a first! I knew this would be worth some serious money! It was only $1 so I put that in the cart also. I'm always looking for good books for kids with high quality photos of animals and the Snakes book filled the bill. That it was only $1 also was a bonus.

I hurried home and looked up the Dune book online I began to get very excited because 1st edition Dune would sell for between $1,000 and $4,000. Was my ship about to come in?


It was a 'Book Club Edition', albeit a first edition with perfect dust jacket, but the Book Club editions don't sell for nearly as much as the straight first editions. The one I got is still worth between $40 and $60, a pretty good return on $1. IF I decide to go thru the hassle to selling it somewhere.

As I mentioned I did some collage this past weekend, the stamps were one of them. I did another three pages using the camera and phone stamps along with some boats I had which will all be future background pages to a finished collage. I also did this patchwork paint blob on the Strathmore paper which I noticed soaked up the acrylic paint quite a bit. This also will become background for a future piece.

My Fabriano journal was not left untouched last weekend either. That journal is larger and the paper isn't as thick. It is smoother too. Whether you're brushing on paint or glue, the brush will glide more easily over the Fabriano paper than the Strathmore paper. Here is my collage. It's called "Tea Time". (I couldn't resist the camera stamps lol).

I went for a short walk after school and of course I took my camera. Here are a very few pics of the scene. It was a sunny day in the upper 60s and the shadows were getting long by the time I arrived home at 4:30. I love that hour when the shadows are prominent but the light is golden. So of course I made the pics be B&W. LOL.

Have a good rest of the week everyone, even if it isn't as exciting as momentarily mine has been with the ALMOST rare book find!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Photographs and french fries

The weather around here in North Georgia has been unseasonably warm. The temperatures when I leave school have been in the mid 70s, which is delightful especially when there's no humidity. I have taken to going to Hardees for an order of fries and then driving around the scenic byways of our rural county, snapping photos. With my car windows are open and the music on and with little traffic and the sun beginning to lower, it creates both a relaxing half hour or hour and many great photo ops. Here are a few of the favorite snaps I caught yesterday while driving around:

What a nice way to put a buffer between me and the work week. As I drive around it arouses my gratitude for living in such a quiet, beautiful, restful location. Then when I get home I can brew a cup of tea and play with my photos in Pixlr. More relaxation!

A brown box leaning against my front door with the happy Amazon logo was waiting for me when I arrived home. A kind soul had given me a Christmas-Birthday gift certificate. I used it to buy the world's softest socks, some pants, and two books. Here are the socks:

I had heard a sermon a while back by Sinclair Ferguson at Ligonier Ministries on Proverbs 26:4-5, titled Answer a Fool, Don't Answer a Fool. It was an amazing sermon, full of insight and wisdom. I realized how few sermons I've ever heard on any Proverb. When I recently saw this Commentary on Proverbs recommended by a credible leader, I bought when the gift certificate came along.

The other book I got was a recommendation from a friend since she knew of my interest in Queen Elizabeth's life. It's called, The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Nanny, Marion Crawford. It's a Kindle book.

I have a lot to do today but it's all fun and at my own behest. I would like to do another lesson in the Ligonier "Understanding the Tabernacle" class, read more of my current book, Memoirs of a Medieval Woman, write several blog essays for my other blog to have them ready for the week, read my Bible, make yellow squash patties, and do some art journaling with two new rubber stamps I found at the second hand store for 10 cents! All that might not sound like a lot but it will take me the entire day to accomplish. Happily so. This evening I might watch a movie. Maybe there'll be a nap in there somewhere. I love Saturdays.

As a kid I remember reading a young adult book called The Saturdays (pub 1941) which I really loved. Four children living in a NYC brownstone with their dad and housekeeper, lament the fact that their lack of a healthy allowance prevents them from embarking on really grand adventures on their day off. They come up with an idea to pool their allowances so each child can take off on a Saturday for a really good time. I liked the cooperative element of the premise and of course I loved seeing what each sibling dids with his loot on the Saturday of his turn.

Anyway, Saturdays are great! I hope you enjoy yours.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Enjoying a long weekend

Ahhh, the bliss of a Monday off. A three-day weekend is a blessing. Woo-hoo!

I was excited to find red lentils at Kroger. I love soup. I make lots of soups. In Kroger, the produce is the first aisle, and green cabbage was on sale. I got a good sized cabbage for $1. I like to see what's on sale and make my meal plans from there. Since cabbage turned out to be on sale, I thought I'd make cabbage soup and roast the rest in the oven.

When I got to the organic bulk section and was filling a bag with quinoa, I thought that maybe they would have red lentils, too.

Brown lentil soup is good, but it's heavy and pungent. I can have it only about once every two months. I stagger that with split pea soup, vegetarian chili with black beans, and vegetable soup with either a broth base or a tomato base. These are my usual winter soups.

I don't like to have brown lentil soup often. I like it but not every other week. Red lentils are lighter, brighter, and cook faster than brown lentils. They are sweeter and nuttier, and if cooked longer, they turn to mush with makes for either a nice, thick soup or a dip for a flatbread.

Kroger didn't have bulk red lentils but they did have Kroger label organic that was prepackaged for a good price! Yay! I am really loving the variety at this branch of Kroger. The fruit and veggies, grains and breads, all good and the kind I like.

This recipe adds carrots and onions to make a nice, simple red lentil soup.

I bought a ready made mushroom and green pepper quiche which was reduced in price. The sale price was such that I estimated it'd cost the same if I made it at home from scratch. Also on the docket for meals this week is another Pad Thai with shrimp, and yellow squash patties. The green beans looked fantastic too, and I bought a few of those. I will make a nice side dish. I still have to think up what to do with the cabbage, lol.

I love the availability of the variety of fruit at Kroger too. I got a fresh pineapple, kiwis, blueberries, and pears. The pears were overripe and in the red net bag, which meant they were 99 cents for 8 of them. I think I'll make pear 'applesauce' with ginger.

I did a few chores today, cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed. Tomorrow will be laundry and making soup etc., We've been blessed with 70+ degree days and I'm just loving it. It will be no trouble to go outside over to the garage to do several loads of laundry. I feel proud because today I organized a lot of my photos on my laptop. I made new folder and sorted them into grouped themes. Also wrote several essays for my other blog, ahead of time.

My pastor made many good points today at our wonderful service, and I'm looking forward to exploring those further tomorrow. It would not hurt my feelings if we had three day weekends every week, lol! After tomorrow, the work schedule looks like a long stretch with no breaks or holidays. I'm going to enjoy every minute tomorrow, for sure.

Have a nice holiday off, and a good week ahead.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Van Gogh's heavy skies, Monet's water lily filled ponds

I was looking at Van Gogh's art recently. Then yesterday I was driving home and there's a section of the county that is on a higher plateau and seems to draw dramatic clouds. I love the rural scenes around here and I love taking photos of sky and clouds. I love the night sky too, the moon and planets, but I'm not skilled with night photography and the photos I take of the celestial objects tend to come out blurry. Here are a few of the scenes I shot yesterday on the ride home of the pastures and clouds and sky.

I like Van Gogh's work, but if I had to live under what he viewed (and painted) as such an oppressive sky, I'd feel trapped. The sky is looming, pressing I'd feel as though it's reaching down to swallow me up. Perhaps in Van Gogh's madness, this IS how he felt.

His paintings are pretty though. Many of them are just heavy. Apparently, Van Gogh's wavy skies and night time swirls are meteorologically and astronomically accurate!

Monet... I was watching The Impressionists on Amazon Prime. Interesting 4-part series. Anyway, Monet as we all know, liked to paint water. Especially water lilies and ponds. One of my own favorite photos was of two lilies in a pond. I put that photo together with Monet's, lol, for comparison.

Monet planted all his water lilies and ponds. He painted the Japanese bridge over his pond 17 times in different conditions and weathers. Monet loved his spot in Giverny France. He fell in love with the place from the moment he saw it, rented a house there, and finally bought a property 7 years later (the soonest he could afford it). Here are some more art resources on Van Gogh and Monet.

Thanks for reading!

15 Things You Might Not Know about Water Lilies

Water Lilies, 250 paintings in a series

11 Things You Didn't Know About Starry Night

The Ten Best Skies in Art

Recipe review: Best Avocado Cauliflower Mash

My friend posted a recipe on Facebook. It looked really good so I thought I'd try it! It is a cauliflower patty with mashed avocado on top, with a fried egg on top of that. I like it for each of the three elements in the dish. However, the intent of the dish is that the cauliflower is supposed to be some kind of substitute for toast.

I've seen this trend elsewhere, for example, that the cauliflower is made into some kind of pizza crust. Blaring headlines on Facebook and Twitter proclaim, "You can't tell the difference!" Or, "Tastes super!" I've never believed these kind of headlines. It's illogical. Cauliflower is cauliflower, and toast is toast. Cauliflower is cauliflower, and pizza crust is pizza crust.

But I really like cauliflower. I usually roast it. I'm always looking for new ways to eat stuff so I thought I'd give the patty mash a try. Here are the results. The top three pics are mine and the bottom one is the recipe's For once, mine came out pretty close to the recipe! Bonus!

The recipe says to use a cheese grater to crumble the cauliflower. I have a mini food chopper so I used that. One or two pulses and the cauliflower was made very small. It all came together very quickly which is always a good thing. :)

The tagline for this recipe says,

You're going to want to replace all toast with this delicious, carb-free cauliflower version.

No. No you're not. But if you want a healthy and filling breakfast that comes together pretty quick, Best Avocado Cauliflower Mash is for you!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Pad Thai

I just discovered the Kroger shrimp skewers! There are five fresh large shrimp on a wooden skewer, sold for $1. Woo-hoo!

I had a hankering for Pad Thai. Now that I know they sell shrimp this way I will buy the skewer more often and make Pad Thai more often. That's Thai rice noodles, scallions, tofu, chicken (or shrimp), bean sprouts, an egg, lime, and crushed peanuts. It is a dish that goes together pretty fast because none of he ingredients take a long time to cook. The shrimp cook in minutes and so does the tofu. I don't use chicken.

You put the rice noodles in warm water and soak them until they are soft. I speed this up by turning the stove on low. Use a wok if you have it, I don't so I use a large saute pan. Heat oil and toss the tofu you've cubed into it, and the scallions and shrimp or chicken. I forgot to buy scallions so I threw in some roasted greenbeans I'd made the day before, just to have some green in it. Kroger doesn't sell alfalfa or mung bean sprouts. :( You can make a sauce which uses a lot of ingredients, or you can buy pad Thai sauce pre-made, which is what I like to do. Add the sauce to taste. A little goes a long way.

Put pad Thai mixture in a bowl, sprinkle lime juice over it, a lot of juice! I think the lime juice makes it. Sprinkle crushed peanuts over it. Eat immediately. Enjoy!

Look! It's The Man in the Yellow Hat, I mean The Man in the Wing Chair!

Here is my review of the book The Awakening of Miss Prim...

I did not read the entire book. I read the first 6 chapters and the last 2 chapters.

I was disappointed with the book on all levels. The publisher's synopsis of it is pasted below. My review follows.

"A young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way."

"Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbors, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside."

"Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn't suspect that she might find love—nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky or would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery, and fireside debate. Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness."--end synopsis.

What was challenging was getting over the main character's personality. I understand the author wanted to portray a character initially buttoned up and locked down but that due to her move to the idyllic village of San Ireneo she was awakened to beauty and truth by memorably drawn characters and the gently elicited desires of her own heart, unknown to her but wisely seen and kindly shepherded by a man whose patience never dwindles and whose intellect is second only to God's... sigh. If that was the author's goal, it failed. The main character was not someone I'd ever want to spend time with in real life, a drastic mistake for an author to make.

The time was set in modern day but the village was portrayed as a haven for cultural elites, wealthy enough to forego ties to the outside world, and to live according to commonly shared and dearly held precepts, such as a love of literature, honesty, truth, and harmony. Utopia, in other words. Fine, but does the main character have to be such a pill? I never warmed up to her. She was condescending, dour, and haughty.

The other characters were obviously staged as cobblestones to aid her in the supposed road to a great awakening, sadly they were not developed as characters on their own merits. A deft author uses secondary characters to both propel the storyline and remain vivid in the reader's imagination in and of themselves. Deft is not something I'd call Fenollera's writing. The awakening does not occur in the book but is only alluded to in a passage of time that is never described. Clumsily staged conversations during in Miss Prim's heart-journey were not all that cultural or intellectual, but stilted and ponderous. The entire book was pedantic. I gave up on it halfway through.

This book was originally written in Spanish, so I do not know how much was lost in the translation, but the author spent much time telling, not showing. This is her first book, and it's a rookie mistake that should have been corrected by a diligent editor. As an example, "I shall never do that, she reflected wisely..." Don't TELL me she is reflecting wisely, SHOW me her wisdom through her actions. I found the writing to be on a high school level.

I never could overcome the author's conceit of never naming the hero-protagonist, who is only ever called 'The Man in the Wing Chair'. This rendered the dialog jarring and resulted in catapulting the reader right out of the imaginary utopia, another rookie mistake. Moreover, this relationship between The Man in the Yellow Hat oops The Man in the Wing Chair and Prudencia Prim had shades of grey rather than one that was romantic, collegial, or even paternal. Any of those would have been better than the trope of the naive ingenue recoiling in confusion from being steered by an older, wiser man.

If you want elevated conversation, watch My Dinner with Andre. If you want to read a similar book whose execution of the themes of a woman awakened to truth and beauty are deftly handled, read EM Forster's A Room With a View.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Going back to school tomorrow!

I had a nice vacation, two weeks at home in quietude. I watched movies, read, cooked, napped, snuggled with the kitties.

Murray is channeling Luke. He is turning very snuggly. In the morning, he likes to jump in the kitchen table and sit in my arms as I boot up the laptop and read morning devotionals. He purrs a lot when he settles in, his head snugged in the crook of my elbow. It's nice.

I watched a Norwegian movie called The Wave. It's a good disaster film because it's based on real science, scarily possible events, and written with the right amount of suspense. In Norway, there are very tall mountains. The mountains are made of rock. There are earthquakes. There are fjords below the unstable mountains. When a landslide of rock occurs the weight and movement of the slid-down mountainside causes tsunamis. his had happened twice before in modern times, killing many. The nation has now devices which monitor the mountains and scientists stationed thereto interpret the data. There is also a red button and for one particular fjord-side town in a heavily touristed area. When the button is pressed and the alarm sounds, the populace has ten minutes to get above 80meters and safety. Otherwise...

The Wave, good movie, nice characters in it, realistic.

I also watched Sing Street,
Sing Street is a charming movie from Ireland that "takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents' relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, ├╝ber-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised - calling himself "Cosmo" and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Inspired by writer/director John Carney's (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN) life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.

Getting ready for school tomorrow, I made Baba Ganouj. It's eggplant spread/dip. Heat a pot with oil. Most people also put in a crushed garlic clove. You can also add mushrooms, celery, onion. I would advise adding one of the above, not all of them. Cook until they are softened a bit.

Cut up eggplant in small cubes and put in pot that has been heated with oil. Cover the pot so the steam can soften the eggplant without having to pour lots of oil into the pot to ensure the cubes don't stick. Eggplant will absorb oil like a sponge. It doesn't take long for the eggplant to soften.

Cool the eggplant stuff. Add to a blender, Cuisinart, or chopper of some kind. Add Tahini, lemon juice, and a bit of oil to taste. Also salt. Blend till smooth. You can dip crackers, bread or make crostini (garnish with parsley), or add to pasta as a sauce. Whatever you want!

I also made a pot of lentil soup, with celery, potatoes, and carrots. We have some winter weather coming in and the shelves will be razed of milk and bread, soon enough. I will need to get to the store too. A pot of soup is always good to have around. Any amount of snow or sleet is a problem here in the south. So I will prepare as best I can. I haven't driven this new-to-me mini-van in any kind of serious weather yet so we'll see. Oh well, all that is a few days away. Meanwhile, the soup will fill my tummy for lunch at school tomorrow.

Have a good week!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Asperger's Are Us

I'm an early elementary educator who teaches children in regular education and also Special Education. I work with Kindergarten through second grade students. Some of the students I have worked with in the past have been formally diagnosed with Autism. They have landed on the Spectrum at greater or lesser degrees.

There is a heavy emphasis on helping children with autism, which is as it should be. Parents, families, the child, all need support and education.

However, I do worry fiercely for the students who are:

--diagnosed with autism early on and transition to adulthood where there are fewer external support systems
--have never been diagnosed with autism and are transitioning to adulthood and do not know why they feel or act as they do and don't understand why they are so different from everyone else.

In other words, what happens when an autistic child is ready to leave his or her parents' home and go to college...the military...find their place in a vocation? Where their life-long relied-upon support, understanding, help from parents, family, schools, therapists, doctors, and counselors have always been in place but now will dwindle to nothing? The support systems nearly disappear for the autistic adult. Achieving independent success as an autistic adult is a scary and difficult prospect. It's hard for any person not on the spectrum but it's very difficult for those who are. Managing one's autistic self independently is bewildering and difficult.

I came across this documentary about adult Aspies from Massachusetts who had formed a comedy troupe. I loved it! The documentary focuses on the young men as performers, as people, who happen to be autistic. I have to say I did love the comedy. Their jokes...I get.

You won't "learn" about Autism by watching this documentary. You will learn about four unique individuals who have dream and goals, work hard, have fun together, and are facing challenges. Just like everybody else.

After the movie finished, I searched for more information about the men. One of the men, Noah Britton, speaks to audiences about autism, and his TEDx talk in MA was interesting. Not the least is because it was captured on camera the moment he met Rachel as noted in the epilogue of the documentary, his girlfriend (or maybe his wife by now). He also spoke passionately against the use of aversives, using unpleasant stimuli to modify behavior and spoke specifically against the Judge Rotenberg Center. Methods such as loss of privileges, food denial, and shock therapy are still used at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Massachusetts. They are the only facility in the US still using Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED) directly on the skin.

My cousin Jennifer Msumba was a resident at the JRC and has spoken publicly about her experience there multiple times. In 2014 she spoke to CBS News, she testified before a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel, and spoke up about her experience in many other places testifying to the horrendous impacts aversives have. She spoke about it this week in her Youtube channel:

Here, Jennifer speaks about what it is like to live with OCD.

Jennifer speaks with an articulate clarity and shining joy of life. As in this video!

Jennifer recently reached a life goal of becoming a member of Mensa. She plays four instruments, composes her own songs, arranges and performs cover songs, rescues poodles, and generally is amazing. Like the four men in Asperger's Are Us.

Jennifer and the four men in Asperger's Are Us have a good support system and seem to be making (or who have already made the transition) well. It's often a bumpy road, and for those without a support system, it often a road littered with roadblocks, potholes, and crashes. It's nice to see these men and women people doing and working and living and loving and laughing.