Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Break 2018: Day 8 - Titanic mania!

By Elizabeth Prata

I've been reading book Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage, by Hugh Brewster, about Titanic's first class passengers. To me, maritime disasters are compelling: I've read Wreck of the Whaleship Essex, (the true story of the 'Moby-Dick' ship), the foundering of the SS Central America, (sank in a hurricane in September 1857, along with more than 420 passengers and crew and 30,000 pounds of gold, contributing to the Panic of 1857), the tragic loss of the Bounty replica in 2012 off North Carolina, taking the captain and one crew member with her, the grounding of the Costa Concordia in Italy in 2012... But Titanic remains most haunting.

Last night I decided to re-watch 1958 movie A Night to Remember. It's on Youtube. There are many comparisons to Cameron's 1997 Titanic, even several scenes are almost duplicates of each other, but I think ANTR is the better movie, though Titanic is more visually stunning, as befits that ship. They are both good movies, each in their own way.

I went to a Nature Conservancy event in Naples FL in late '90s, & where the speaker was Titanic discoverer Bob Ballard. Ballard described how he found the ship, (look for the debris trail, which was bigger than the ship, and let the trail lead you TO the ship), & his career in oceanography in general, which is very interesting. His was one of the top two lectures I ever heard, simply thrilling. I remember the feeling of inspiration and fascination I felt to this day, 20 years later. To hear it first hand just as the movie came out was amazing! It really was one of the top moments in my memory bank.

The James Cameron movie, I remember how I felt leaving the theater, also. Sitting there and then emerging from the darkened theater into the Florida sunshine you felt like you had gone through it. Watching the 1997 movie Titanic was an experience, not passive entertainment or a mindless diversion. Watching Titanic in the theater was an event.

So I've been drawn in, reading this book exclusively and obsessively. I finally had to quit last night around 11:30 as my eyes wouldn't focus any more! I've only got about 40 more pages so I expect to finish it today. I found another documentary on the Titanic called Ghosts of the Abyss, a behind the scenes look through James Cameron's eyes of his own journey to the spot in the cold North Atlantic. I'll watch that tonight.

I am almost finished with Rachel Janovic's book You Who? which I'll review on The End Time. I am also reading Barbara Hughes' Disciplines of a Godly Woman, and I've got one more devotional to go on Sinclair Lewis' Love Came Down at Christmas. Yeah, I'm a little late on the Christmas advent devotional.

I've received two Amazon gift cards for Christmas gifts and I am withstanding the temptation to buy more books. So far...

The weather guys are predicting a massive amount of rain coming. We're supposed to get absolutely drenched for the next week, sigh, so I will be using the oven to warm the apartment and make granola and roasted broccoli, and on top of the stove, chili.

Here are the Titanic and other shipwreck resources I mentioned:

Book - Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage

Movie - A Night To Remember (Youtube)

Movie - James Cameron's Titanic (for rent on Amazon Prime)

Documentary - Ghosts of the Abyss (It's an about page)

Book - Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World's Richest Shipwreck by Gary Kinder

Book - The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex. A First-Hand Account of One of History's Most Extraordinary Maritime Disasters by Owen Chase, First Mate

Article - Sunk: The Incredible Truth About a Ship That Never Should Have Sailed (Bounty replica)

The raising of the Costa Concordia is fascinating in itself. I understand it was the world's biggest ever feat of its kind.

Documentary NatGeo - The Raising of the Costa Concordia (Youtube)

Father Browne's story: Photographer of the last days of the Titanic, and his providential recall to shore in Queensland, this saving his 1000 photos of the passengers and shipboard life we'd never otherwise know about.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Break 2018 Day 7: The Aftermath

By Elizabeth Prata

I hope you all had a marvelous holiday. We celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world, in the flesh as the sacrificial Lamb to the Father.

Even people who do not know Jesus or His Father's plan of salvation still celebrate the day. Why? Why do people sense their need for "peace on earth" and "goodwill to men"? Because intrinsically we all know what cretins we are and that at root, we are evil. We are rebellious. We know we need peace, and rest, but do not know where to find it. I'm grateful that Jesus saved me and now I know from whence all Good comes, including peace and goodwill.

I spent a quiet morning at home, where it was pleasant and sunny. I had been invited to a friend's parents' house to have dinner with their family, so that was where I headed at around 2:00. I was to drive to their house and they would carry me to their parents from there. It was almost eerie, driving on the highway with almost no cars. The exit where I get off was barren, as well as the stretch approaching the usually busy strip mall where another Kroger grocery store is. All four lanes, just me and one or two other cars. My usual 35 minutes driving time was shaved by ten minutes, so I stopped in a cul de sac and cleaned out my car and then listened to some Christmas carols before arriving at my destination, so as not to be too early. Nothing worse than a harried mom trying to get two small children ready for the car and having to deal with an early arrival!

We had a wonderful dinner with laughs, then a gift exchange, then some photos in the front yard. I returned home at around 6:00, just after dark, and settled in for some reading.

I am in the middle of a very interesting book, Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage by Hugh Brewster. The author examines the gilded Edwardian era by looking at the lives and times of the first class passengers of the doomed Titanic. Brewster puts his selected passengers' lives in context off the boat and on it, as well as giving lots of information about the boat itself. It's obvious he put so much research into the book. It's not pedantic, however, but a woven story with interesting characters.The reader is drawn into that world almost immediately.

It was a quiet Christmas night here at Casa Prata. After reading a while I watched a few episodes of Blue Bloods, I'm binging my way thru 8 years of the show. Then I turned in, concluding Christmas 2018, but continuing my two-week school break! One more week at home!

Artsy Christmas photos to follow:

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Break 2018 Day 5: It was the best of cats, it was the worst of cats

By Elizabeth Prata

I stayed up late last night listening to the live Christmas Concert put on by Grace Community Church. It's a stupendous concert, two hours long, with incredibly talented musicians and singers. I enjoyed that so much! It was after 11:00pm when I laid down, and I was looking forward to sleeping in, which for me is past 7 am.

It was not to be.

I am up and about early this morning, because my cat wanted me to be. You see, Murray has learned how to get me up. When did I lose control? It is a difficult question.

It's kind of spooky how the felines in your life know and understand your routine. When I arise, Murray immediately jumps off the bed and runs to the bathroom. Murray knows what's coming next- his breakfast. There, I have a large jug of food contained in a tightly capped plastic top. He leaps to the toilet top and sits there, waiting for me to open it and measure out two portions, one for him and one for Bert. When I have done that and tightened the lid, he leaps down and precedes me to his food bowl. His and Bert's are separated by 8 feet or so. I first pour out Bert's as I pass by, then arrive at Murray's, who is sitting pert and innocent as he waits these few seconds for me to arrive.

Of late, he has learned to swipe down the measuring cup and dipper from atop the toilet where I keep it near the food, and make it clatter to the floor. This occurs at about 5 am, the usual time I arise. During school vacation or weekends of course, I would like NOT to arise at 5 am, but Murray makes this hard.

Not where it's supposed to be
When I hear something crash or clatter to the ground, I sit up like a suddenly awakened vampire arising from his coffin, bark "Murray!" and then crash back to my pillow. (I don't know why I sit up when I yell his name, I guess I can just as easily yell his name while lying down). Murray does respond to his name and he knows when he has been bad. He runs away and hides for a few minutes.

But this morning I was not to be drawn into his little power play. No, sir. When I heard the clatter in the bathroom I said nothing. Therefore, ever persistent and dastardly, Murray then made something else crash. It sounded like glass, though it didn't break. It rolled a second, and then all was silence. I did the vampire arising thing, yelled "Murray!" and laid back down. But it was too late. My heart was pumping and that languid, relaxed feeling you get as you snuggle down into the pillow and perfectly arranged covers and muse whether to snooze one more time was gone. I was awake.

The notion that I am a marionette being pulled by Murray's strings has crossed my mind. Briefly. I pushed that thought away as I like to maintain the fiction that I actually run this place.

What was it that Murray had made crash? The food measuring cup makes a plastic sound when he pushes it down. And he'd already pushed that to the ground. I already taped down my coasters. There is nothing else on top of any table he can push off.

Oh, wait...

Lovely Christmas decoration you have there! Why, thank you!

Let's push it off the table RIGHT NOW!

Murray leaving the scene of the crime. A re-enactment

My one and only Christmas decoration. The candle holder. See? This is why I can't have nice things.

Bad boy!

On the other hand, Bert, my nice kitty, is lying on top of the bed where he had come at about 4 am to cuddle with me, like he does every morning. He enjoys spending the last hour of sleep with me and I appreciate that. Murray enjoys spending the last hour of my sleep trying to get me up- so he can eat. I don't appreciate that.

Nice kitty. Patient kitty.
Don't be fooled by Murray's sweet good looks and humble posture.

The Aftermath

In the end I do appreciate having a kitty with personality. I enjoy creating a home for them where they know what to expect and the routine frames their days and helps them relax. Murray isn't a bad kitty at all, I've had worse, lol. He is a good boy and is learning to be more affectionate. So he wants his breakfast at 5 am and throws a few things around to let me know it. I don't blame him. It's what kitties do.

I look at my nice couch and see the awful double sided sticky tape and wish I didn't have to put it on to deter cat scratches on my furniture. I look at all the nice Christmas decorations in the garage and wish that I could put them up. I look at the taped-down coasters and long to have nice things on top of tables.

But that would cats. It'd mean Murray wasn't here. That day will come, sooner rather than later I surmise, since he has Coronavirus (which is eventually fatal). When that day does come I'll wish I had some personality in the house, someone to teach and be patient with, to celebrate his advances in affection and love. I'll wish that I had to put tape on the couch and keep the decorations in the garage. I know it. So for now, I'll be a startled vampire rising in my coffin at 4 or 5 am when Murray wants his breakfast and flings something off a surface. I'll pick up the turned over candle holder, hang a decoration or two awkwardly high, and grumble with a smile.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chistmas Break 2018: day 4

By Elizabeth Prata

Man, Kroger was nuts! LOL, after church I stopped to pick up a few groceries, and it seemed that everyone in the world was there. Church ends at 4:30 so it was a peak time, I suppose, and everybody wanted to get their stuff so they could get home, cook and prepare tomorrow on Christmas Eve. The bakery aisle looked like Attila the Hun and his army had swept through. Or the Grinch who left crumbs even too small for a mouse.

I scored some goodies, though. I got another jug of creamer for my coffee. I absolutely love drinking coffee slowly in the morning, creamy and strong. I got two packages of cranberries. They were on sale for a dollar! Have I mentioned I love cranberry sauce? I have a marvelous recipe for cranberry-walnut sauce that uses brown sugar and mustard. So of course I picked up some walnuts. And a roasted chicken. I'll have chicken, baked potato and cranberry sauce tomorow for my Christmas Eve supper.

I'm heading to a friend's house and their family gathering on Christmas Day and having their Christmas lunch meal with them, so that should be nice.

My day was spent quietly. I did take some time to try and add some good shows to my Netflix queue. I was looking for G, PG, PG-13 films or shows. It was a struggle, but I found some and over the week I'll try them out. The animated film Bolt, the upcoming premiere of the new Watership Down, a documentary called The Nineties, and The Iron Giant made the list.

I watched the Crazy Russian Hacker on Youtube and he demonstrated 5 kitchen egg gadgets. I liked them but what I learned most is how to peel an egg- put it in a mason jar with a bit of water and shake it up. I'm going to try that the next time I hard boil some eggs. I HATE peeling eggs and I am bad at it. My eggs come out looking like a pockmarked moon with craters.

Church was sweet and great, full of insights on the 12th chapter of the Book of John, some great standard Christmas hymns, and a super confessional time made the worship time so wonderful. Then it was on to Kroger.

The sunset was stupendous, with pinks streaming out from behind some rain clouds and crepuscular rays shining out. Then I got home in time to just beat the rain. Don't you love that?

I'm going to settle in with a salad, and my book about the first class passengers of the Titanic, "Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage," The author has a real great way of setting you smack into their lives.

Merry almost Christmas Eve, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Break 2018 day 3

By Elizabeth Prata

I've always loved Youtube. You can find a wealth of things to watch, on a variety of topics. I've enjoyed 'getting to know' the Maas family on Fathering Autism, Simon's Cat, and Kathryn, who hosts her own channel called Do It On A Dime.

She shops deals at the Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, Target and other places, and shows you unique ways to use the items. I like this because I'm so linear, if I see a cookie sheet, it will always be a cookie sheet. I cannot re-imagine it as a picture frame or a doohickey or thingamajig. See? I'm so linear I can't even make up other uses for the cookie sheet. It's a cookie sheet.

Anyway, Kathryn will teach how to find deals and how to use the stuff. She is married, a Christian, suffers from anxiety and PTSD and is cheerful and informative. Her Q&A video below is concise without extraneous filler. Podcasters and Youtubers, please take note. Editing is important.

Anyway, Kathryn's video here is only 5 minutes and she answers various questions. It's a good get to know you vid, she answers while wrapping presents. If you run out of wrapping paper and have a 4 inch wide gap the paper won't meet, Kathryn has a solution for this. ;)

The day dawned cold and bright. The pinks coming up this morning were pretty! I took a walk down the driveway in the pre-dawn chill to snap these pics


I bought another teapot a couple of weeks ago I'd seen it on the shelf at the vintage store for several months, but I had thought it was a run of the mill pot so even though the price was only $4, I had not picked it up. After all these months of looking at it every time I came into the store, I finally bought it. In researching the pottery mark, I discovered that it was a unique Russian make, a Gardner, but I have not discovered its age as of yet.

In any case, it is likely mid-century. When I installed the pot on my tea cabinet shelf, I noticed that over time, I'd balanced my china designs of the flowered early century patterns with an equal amount of mid-century ware. This surprised me. I had not realized I'd developed a taste for mid-century design.

I think it began when I'd read an article about the Los Angeles Case Study #22 house, also known as The Stahl House, here.

The house is iconic, and has its own Wikipedia entry:
The Stahl House (also known as Case Study House #22) is a modernist-styled house designed by architect Pierre Koenig in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California, which is known as a frequent set location in American films. Photographic and anecdotal evidence suggests that the architect's client, Buck Stahl, may have provided an inspiration for the overall structure. In 2013 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
I've always gravitated to fashion that was more lean and spare, like Chanel as opposed to Laura Ashley. Lean and spare style of the mid-century modern, with its elevated couches, straight edges, and minimalist interiors suit me. Here is the famous photo of the famous house:

Here are a couple of pieces of Christmas wrapping paper a friend gave me, mid-century era. She said it was in her attic and ranged in age from the 1940s to 1970s.

Here are some pics of my walk down the road this bright and sunny afternoon. The air is chill but the  sun is warm, something I always love about a Georgia winter.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Break 2018: Day 2

By Elizabeth Prata

How wonderful it is to sleep through the night, and awaken refreshed! The common graces are surely praiseworthy.

Though it was supposed to be sunny today, and it still may turn out to be, it's currently rainy and windy and dark. We received a lot of rain yesterday and there are massive standing puddles and leaves blown around.

There is a controversy as to why the tips of the Hershey's Kisses are missing. I hadn't noticed, I unwrap them and eat them too fast to notice the niceties like a well-formed tip. I'm usually gunning for the chocolate explosion on my mouth. But this morning as I opened one for dessert after having cheesy tomato scrambled eggs and a pineapple sour cream muffin, I noticed it.

The minor malformation did not deter me in the least. Chocolate explosion coming up!

The afternoon was filled with a movie, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris. It stars Angela Lansbury in 1993 movie set in 1953. A char-woman (Lansbury) sees a Christian Dior dress on a dress stand owned by  the Lady she works for. Her Ladyship was planning to wear it to Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Ball. The charwoman fell in love with it and determined to go to Paris and buy one. She scrimps and saves for three years goes to Paris, as the title says. Adventures ensue.

The movie would be G-rated, if it had a rating (I could not find one). It's warm and just plain nice. Lansbury is outstanding in it. It's a little known, forgotten film that is just a gem. It is on Youtube so it is free.

The day never did brighten, but only darkened and the wind increased. I've been sipping Earl Grey tea for most of the afternoon and not doing much of anything. Ahhh, vacation.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Break 2018: Day 1

By Elizabeth Prata

School let out at noon yesterday, after a sweet program of awards, a few Christmas songs, and lots of hugs from and to the little ones. It's fun to see how excited the kids are for Christmas to come. They love all the trappings: the trees, bows, gifts, Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, decorations, and even crazy Christmas Sweater or Christmas hat day.

I was glad to be home after stopping for some errands, namely, gas and food. The grocery store at 2:00 on a Wednesday was strangely quiet. That didn't stop me from getting in the world's shortest checkout line that earned the world's record for taking the longest time. The lady two customers ahead was doing a complicated checkout split into three piles. Oh well, I was on break, no need to worry about how long it was taking.

Today the day dawned rainy and cool, which was just fine. A quiet day at home suited me after all the hubbub and noise leading up to the school break. I woke up at my normal time, 5 am, and I got up then and didn't snooze. I've always been a wake up-get up kind of person. I never had a snooze alarm. I've always enjoyed (and made use) of the fact that if I got tired later I could just go back to bed. Isn't that what vacations are own schedule? Yes indeed.

I've spent the day writing, reading social media, answering emails, and reading my books.

My goal this vacation is to finish:

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Love Came Down at Christmas by Sinclair Ferguson
Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage by Hugh Brewster

I really like the Disciplines book. I'm learning a lot from it and taking many notes. And Gilded Lives I just started today but I got right into it. The account of the first class passengers on the Titanic, their lives in the context of the gilded age, is fascinating.

Two other books just delivered today include The Life of Moses by James Montgomery Boice and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, part of my book reading plan this year.

I did nap, it was needed I enjoy the growth that Murray has evidenced in affection. He has grown to enjoy being near me and doesn't skittishly run off every time I reach for him. He purrs and stays near, even when I reach out to pet him. He sleeps near my head or under the covers curled at my side. This is relaxing, and adds to the comfort and refreshment of my nap.

I don't usually watch tv or have videos or music on during the day, though I did listen to a couple of sermons this morning. As the morning progresses into afternoon, I love just being quiet and listening to the cats snore, or the hiss and pop of the gas heat. The rain on the metal awnings gives a steady unsteady beat, and even the occasional bird outside and the vigorous chicken next door add to the atmosphere. Natural sounds, quiet sounds. The neighbors next door decorate their yard with beautiful lights and I like seeing them through the window when the sun goes down. They make a pretty glow.

My dinner tonight was simple but good: a few pieces of roasted chicken smothered by sauteed mushrooms, and a green salad with orange tomatoes, spring greens, and goat cheese. The Calendar Tea of the Day is, 'Mother's Little Helper', containing hibiscus, rosehips, chamomile, valerian root. I received a lot of goodies from the kids or other teachers at school that I brought home with me yesterday, so I'm trying to pace myself. No dessert tonight.

I don't anticipate tomorrow being much different, though one of these days soon I'll throw crafting into the mix. I'll have a crafting day and make some collages, stencils, bookmarks, and maybe a book or two.

For now I'm going to watch an episode of Blue Bloods and then return to the gilded era of the first class passengers on the Titanic. I hope your lead-in to the Christmas holiday is filled with what you want it to be, and if it isn't, then at least prayer and praise to the Lord for the good that is in the week, namely, Jesus. Have a good one, everyone.

This is what my week is going to look like :)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Why I will never watch ABC's The Good Doctor again

By Elizabeth Prata

I had been enjoying ABC's The Good Doctor from the first episode. The show features a main character of an autistic adult, a resident doctor at a teaching hospital, who, because of his autistic brain, happens to be a medical savant.

The first season especially, showed the character Shaun adapting to expectations of being an autistic employee in the real world. The character grew into relationships that abound in the employment sphere, such as mentor, boss, and colleague, and friend. The show did a good job of showing how Shaun's perspective also changed the expectations and attitudes of those around him. The writers struck a good balance in depicting the reactions and attitudes of the neuro-typical people in Shaun's sphere while also showing how Shaun sees the world through autistic eyes.

Season two began with Shaun in a romantic relationship. As with his professional employment aspects, the show delved into the issues of an autistic man relating to a woman in romance. Though the two maintain separate bedrooms, their moving in together represented a huge step for Shaun in dealing with someone in his personal space all the time, and the difficulties of relinquishing control and routine in deference to another person. And the same with the girlfriend regarding give and take with an autistic man.

I was pleased to see that the show dealt with the give and take in relationships in a manner similar to a romantic relationship between neurotypical people. There are just different amounts and types of the give and take expected.

Along the way, because it's secular liberal television, the 'medical drama of the week' often reflects the cultural concerns of the day. Issues such as female genital mutilation, image in homosexual relationships, Islam, sexual harassment, feminism/being female in medical world, and so on, have been covered. Some watchers note that the liberal agenda promoted by the show seems to be speeding up, with the introduction of ever more heavy topics handled in an ever more emotionally manipulative way.

I'd concur with that observation, I've noticed it too.

Which brings me to the last episode I didn't see.

I hadn't watched the show on November 26 and when I was ready to watch, I searched for reviews and recaps first. I usually do, to give myself advance notice of topics I would decide not to watch. I'm glad I did, because when I read the reviews and recaps, I was shocked. The episode was called "Empathy".

Apparently a man who has constant thoughts and sexual desires for children was featured. He hated his own desires and sought to rid himself of them, via medicines, mutilations, and therapies. He prided himself on never having acted on his desires, because he knew they were depraved. The build-up in the show, apparently, was to develop empathy for the 'in thoughts only' pedophile because of the extreme lengths he went to in order for him to make sure his desires remain unfulfilled.

This is called the "virtuous pedophile." The title is an actual title, based on a growing internet support group of people who acknowledge their depraved desires but do not act on them. Their restraint is supposed to be virtuous.

First, if you notice the language, over time, sodomite changed to homosexual changed to gay. Child molester changed to pedophile to virtuous pedophile. The liberal agenda will always try to attach noble language or at least neutral language to immoral acts in order to soften perceptions of its immoral qualities.

There is nothing virtuous about child molestation, acted upon or not. Jesus said,

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28).

If I were to paraphrase, 'a man looks upon a child with lustful intent, he has already committed adultery with that child in his heart.'

Genesis 6:5 says,

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

We are depraved through and through. There is no distinction between those who have depraved thoughts and desires and those who have acted on them. Jesus' standard of morality and righteousness applies to those with adulterous thoughts and desires, people with homosexual thoughts and desires, or pedophilac thoughts and desires. Even having the desire is wrong. It isn't virtuous in any form.

I resented that the television show attempted to soften its audience to this fact. If you think about how a show is written, someone had to come up with this idea. They had to research it, sit around and write it, discuss it, and re-write it. I spend a lot of time writing a blog essay, you can imagine how much thought and effort goes into writing an hour-long television show. The writers had to work hard to get this to where they wanted it.

That's depraved in itself.

Everyone has a line in the sand across which they will not go. I won't spend time watching a TV show that puts across any sort of message with the words empathy, virtuous, and pedophile in the same sentence. I won't be softened by the liberal mainstream agenda sending out messages like this. I won't be manipulated into anything treading close to this idea. Therefore, I say goodbye to the Good Doctor.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Book Reading Plan for this Year

By Elizabeth Prata

Tim Challies, blogger, book reviewer, pastor, has issued his annual Christian Book Reading challenge. The levels at which one can participate are

Light, Avid, Committed, Obsessed

Light readers choose to read 13 books in 2019. Avid readers choose 26, Committed Readers choose 52 books to read, and Obsessed readers choose 104.

The books you choose are based on the outline provided by Challies.

Though the "directions" suggest starting at Light and moving up to Avid then up again to Committed, etc, I decided to jump start right to Avid and probably stick there as I have other books I want to read as seen below.I decided on the Avid level this year. I found it helps me to have a plan, and even to schedule my reading. Otherwise, the time slips by and I don't read anything at all! Then the year is over and I wind up scratching my head, looking around at the piles of unread books, going, "Huh? It's December already?"

My choices are as follows:

Commentary: Lamentations, by Dan G. Kent
Book written by a Puritan: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs
Book by or about a missionary: W. Eugene Sallee, Christ’s Ambassador
A book about theology: Concise Theology by JI Packer
A book in a weekend: Mrs Pollifax
Book recommended by a family member: TBD
Book about aging: In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, by John Donvan and Caren Zucker
Book published in 2019: TBD
Book on Bestseller list: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Book about church history: Polycarp of Smyrna, the Man whose Faith Lasted by Sinclair Ferguson
Book of 100 pages or less: Einstein’s Dreams, Alan Lightman
Book of my choice: Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen (subject to change)
Book about music or Musician: Nobody Knows: The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music, by Craig von Buseck

Also in the mix:


It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
The Running Man Stephen King
The Last Man, Mary Shelley, 1826
The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster


The Decameron, Boccaccio
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster

I had not known that EM Forster wrote a dystopian book. I like dystopian. I enjoyed Alas, Babylon, Carol Balizet’s The Last Seven Years, and William Forschten's One Second After.

We'll see how I do! I can get a head start by reading a few during the two weeks off I have at Christmas-New Year's. I own most of the books I've listed for Challies' plan, except for Crawdads, Polycarp, Contentment by Burroughs, and Differrent Key/Autism.

Do you have an idea of what you want to read this year? Do you have any "must read" recommendations for me?

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Frugal Cooking: Tomato soup, strawberry muffins, Christmas parade, more

When you are paid once per month, pay day is a highly anticipated event, and going grocery shopping is like a celebration. For a little while at least, the fridge is going to feel FULL! I've got choices!

I've mentioned that Kroger Grocery Store has a marked down bin where they place produce. Any bag of produce in the bags on that bin are 99 cents, no matter what is in the bag. Most of the time the produce is perfectly fine. Once in a while there might be one tomato in a bag that has split, or one small dark spot on a head of broccoli. I'm of the ilk that I'll just shave off the dark spot or dispense with the one tomato that's split and use the rest.

Yesterday I hit the bin at the right time. The workers must have just added a bunch to the shelf, as they periodically do during the day. I came away with a bag containing a head of broccoflower, a bag of two pints of cherry tomatoes, a bag of 6 large tomatoes, a bag of two tomatoes and two avocadoes, and a tray of strawberries.

I do feel strongly that I only take what I can actually eat, and not to take all of it. Other people depend on the lower priced produce, too. Whatever I do take, I always use.

The strawberries were not moldy but pretty ripe. I knew I would not be able to eat all of them before they went over. I decided to use half of them in a muffin recipe. I enjoy the pineapple sour cream recipe I make, so I decided to look for a recipe using sour cream with strawberries. Found one! What did we do before Google?

As for baking them, I used half of the flour called for and subbed almond flour. I also found out I didn't have enough butter so I added oil to make up the rest. Substitutions like these usually deflate or even ruin a baking recipe, but I'm by myself here and I'm a "Ach, close enough" kind of cook so... They taste OK, they are just crumbly.

Two cherry tomato trays plus 8 large vine tomatoes were also going to be a lot for me to get through if I ate them individually. A recipe was called for. I can eat cherry tomatoes pretty quickly, and I set two large tomatoes aside to use in salads. The remaining 6 tomatoes I cut up and put in a pan with some thyme, and guess what, I roasted! Not roasted dry, I had no parchment paper or any other way to get the tomatoes above the juices they'd shed while in the oven. But roasting is always good to draw out flavor. I decided to pop them in and use the heat from the oven to roast them as long as other stuff was cooking, and finish the tomatoes into a soup. Flavorful, fresh tomato soup will be great for this rainy day!

It's December 1 and the weather is cooperating with winter, southern style. It's a hard driving rain today with temps hovering at 50 degrees at midday. Tomorrow is supposed to be 74 and sunny. That's kind of a shame because the Comer Christmas Parade is scheduled for today. This is a huge event and it's a really good parade. Along with the parade is a Christmas edition of the Comer Farmer's Market and inside Comer Elementary School (very close by) are Christmas vendors selling gifts, crafts, and food wares. There are floats, school choruses singing, and more.

The parade is scheduled to go on no matter what, rain or shine, but it is a cold, driving rain and a lot of the participants have backed out. So it will probably be less of a joyful day and more of a plodding, soaking commitment. Here are a few pics of past Comer Christmas parades in better weather.

Enjoy your weekend!