White Bean Salad

I’ve been trying to incorporate more beans into my diet. I feel better when I eat them regularly. I am not diabetic, or even prediabetic, but after reading about how beans can help improve the blood sugar levels of those who eat the regularly I decided to give eating them more often a try so that it has less a chance of becoming a problem.

Being that it is August here I was looking for ways to eat them cold. I came across this recipe for a salad. I modified it a bit, added some celery and radishes.

White Bean Salad

Cook one pound of small white beans according to package directions. Drain well.

Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 3-4 drops of Tabasco (we are in love with the green stuff right now), Whisking with a wire wisk. Slowly add 1/3 cup vegetable oil. In a large bowl combine the beans with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1/2 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, 3 tablespoons each  of chopped parsely and green onion, and 1/4 cup each finely chopped celery and radishes. Add 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic. Stir in the vinegar-mustard dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill at least 6 hours. Before serving gently stir in 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes.

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A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces

Reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole was an absolute pleasure! This book was funny and thought provoking.

The characters were exaggerated versions of people I know. So many of the situations were preposterous, but I could imagine them happening.

Toole was good at writing dialog in such a way as to give more of a window into each character. I could hear these people speak, and understood them all the better for it.

He also write this in such a way that I could picture the physical surroundings quite well, which is more difficult for me than it seems to be for others. This made the book come to life.

Ignatius Reilly would hae been a sight to see for sure.

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Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Reading Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories was strangely bittersweet, in that I thoroughly enjoyed reading them but at the same time was struck by how very little I know about India and the surrounding areas. I felt somewhat cheated by this, which keeps coming up, but that’s another post for another day.

The stories are beautifully character driven, which seems to be something I enjoy more and more.

One thing that struck me as I read was how personal immigrating to another country could and would be. I know I had previously considered that people would immigrate for differing reasons, but I’d never considered how those reasons might color their experience once they had arrived.

Life in India itself was truly not something I’d given much thought. Which seems strange considering the admiration I’ve always held for Mother Teresa and the work that she did there. And that small snippet of what life there would be like is in fact the only aspect of life there I had considered. Foolishly I’d not considered that families would vacation, that people would run businesses, that there was anything other than complete poverty there. I’ll be honest, I feel embarrassed by this.

The final story in the collection, The Third and Final Continent, was easily my favorite. Wow, just wow. My heart got bigger.

Interpreter of Maladies : lovely.

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If Not This, Then What?

So…if not this, then what? What do I want or need to do?

So I’ve finally admitted that I do not like what I do for a living. I stumbled into it, I didn’t choose it. It has paid the bills (some times better than others…)

But I do not find it fulfilling. I have lost all passion for it. I dread going to work some days. I don’t think I want to continue to promote products and services via the internet, regardless of the quality of the product or need for the service. Some of my clients are wonderful, with really great businesses. However, I feel like I have to rationalize what I do in order to make myself happy about spending 50 hours a week doing it.

So then what should I do? I have yet to find my “calling” I can tell you that for sure. But there are ideas that keep coming back, over and over.

I’d love to teach math – help children love math.

Help people impacted by domestic violence.

Something with teen parents.

So the search is on. I actually applied for a job with the Utah Food Bank yesterday. Even though I don’t think they will feel I am qualified it felt amazing to do  it. As I’ve looked more and more into getting a job in the non-profit arena I can see that a degree will be even more important than it appears to  be in the business world. I find this as disheartening as I’ve found it the last several years when just looking for a new marketing job. So many doors are closed to me. And the thing is, a degree is literally the biggest goal, biggest dream I’ve had. My whole life it is what I’ve wanted more than anything. That is something I’ve come to know for certain.

So that needs to happen as soon as possible.

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Feeling Like A Failure And Other Things That Waste My Time

Feeling like a failure today. Actually for a good long time. For so long that I have difficulty remembering what it is like to be happy with myself. I am so harsh on myself. Unreasonably so I think. I would never treat a friend the way I treat myself. I would never say to my child the things I say to  myself. 50 years of this has taken a toll.

Okay, so its not been 50 years. I can actually remember feeling good about myself as a small child. Before puberty. Before society, and my well meaning but misguided mother, and the not so well meaning LDS Church started to influence my thought processes.

I was raised with the notion that a women’s most important role was that of wife and mother. That it was my duty, my calling to be a wife and mother. And I also was constantly receiving messages that I simply wasn’t attractive enough, that men (boys at that stage really) would not be interested in me because of how ugly I was. (And I really was an awkward kid, believe me) So it is really no surprise that I married the first guy who asked. Even though I was very aware that I didn’t love him in any way that could contribute to marital happiness. It was a disaster. But that is another blog post entirely. One for another day.

But today, what is driving this stupid “vehicle of self loathing” today? My job. I dislike my job. I am not good at my job. I want another job. But I always let fear paralyze me when it comes to things like this. I stay in bad situations until I have no choice but to change (like the above mentioned ill conceived and executed marriage) I stay until change is forced on me.

So I am sitting here, beating myself up. What a ginormous waste of time. Precious, valuable time.

 

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My Latest Crochet Project – A Hat for The Shelter

Crochet Zombie's Swirl Beanie - my versionSo, I DO have the same goal of creating 50 hats for the homeless shelter this year, as I did last year. That didn’t go “as advertised” I only got 15 done. :(

But I truly don’t want to waste any precious time lamenting how last year didn’t go as well as I wanted. That won’t help me accomplish my 2015 objectives. Of course I’ve spent some time analyzing why I think the year went so poorly. And as much as I want to “assign blame” to external sources of stress like getting laid off that one thing I know for sure is that I didn’t focus like I needed to. In the face of that it seems disingenuous to fault anyone or anything other than myself.

So anyway, back to the hat…

I wanted to try something new, as I’ve really only been crocheting my own pattern for a long time.  I found this great pattern on Ravelry. It is available for free from Crochet Zombie. It took me a bit to figure out, but then it became a quick project. I used a US size H hook and some worsted weight yarn I had in my stash. I think it was Red Heart With Love. It will fit a little head, a young child. I think the next one I make will be with colors that are not so bright (bubble gum pink is not quite my favorite, but my 4 year old granddaughter loves it) and perhaps use a size I or J and see if I can get it to fit an adult head.

This one is going in the box for next year’s shelter donation. One down 49 more to go.

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Enter Title Here- Starting Again After A Long Break

Enter Title Here

Those were the words that greeted me as I sat down to write this post, the first in several months. Like so many bloggers I began this site with intentions to write regularly, and only write quality posts. Wow that ended up being so much more difficult than I had ever imagined.

I’ve never really intended to make this blog anything other than just a place to talk about the things I love. Family, friends, reading, learning, knitting and crochet. Cooking at times. Occasionally sewing or quilting. Art when I feel inspired. Laughter when it really matters.

I like the idea of starting over. I’ve spent my whole life starting over. I believe in second changes and third chances and 87th chances. I believe in the power of change, the power of renewal.

2015 is going to be amazing. I turn 50 this year! 50. I’ve gotten 50 years on this planet. It is time to give back, time to make a difference. Time to be who I was meant to be.

Enter Title Here. The title for this year is Renewal.

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All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

My Pulitzer goal has really suffered this year. This is only the first book I’ve read from that list in 2014. I need to pick up the pace if I am to make my goal of reading 12 of them this year.

All The Kings Men

All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

All The Kings Men contains some of the best character development I’ve read. The path of self discovery taken by the book’s narrator, Jack Burden, is compelling and resonated with me in a way I don’t think it would have had I read this at a younger age. Truth be told, I kind of ended up with a crush on Jack Burden.

As Burden tells his story you come to know those around him as complex people, more of their “warts” than their good characteristics and it would be very tempting just to paint all of these characters as “bad people” if you were to just give the prose a cursory read. But Warren’s prose doesn’t really allow for a cursory read, at least it didn’t for me. I became curious about the motivations and thought processes of these characters. Willie Stark is fascinating, both Adam and Anne Stanton intriguing. Even some of the more peripheral players like Lucy Stark, Tiny Duffy and Sadie Burke were people whose motivations and actions lead to hours of thought.

And really, this is what happened for me. I thought about this story a great deal, during the day as I went about other tasks I would think about these characters and try to imagine why they would take the actions that they did, say the things they did. Because this story was filled with some many layered people I became emotionally connected to it. This story once again affirmed my belief that there aren’t many truly “bad” people in the world. Most of us are just people, doing the best we can, and we make mistakes. Some of them ugly.

This story also sent me down two “rabbit holes” Because it is believed that Willie Stark is based on Huey Long , I spent a lot of time reading about him. And then as I was reading about Warren himself I learned that he also won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry, and therefore spent time reading his poems. But then, that is not really a complaint, the “rabbit holes” are one of the most enjoyable things about reading afterall :)

Beautiful book.

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Learning To Be Kind

Does the desire to be kind, the intention, count for anything?

This thought has been on my mind a great deal today. It began earlier today when I read this post. I thought about (and cringed about) many unkind statements I’ve made in the past. And those that I’ve made recently too.

While I know that I truly have changed and grown in the past several years, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the shear amount of changing I still need to do.

I’ve been told all my life that I am a selfish person, by my mother and by my ex-husband. How much truth is there to that? I know that regardless of the truth I’ve internalized it as such. And that is mostly a good thing. I believe it has had a negative impact in that I beat myself up and am so hard on myself that I cannot feel good when I make some progress toward being a kinder person. But on the whole I feel like it is good to constantly be looking for ways to improve in this important aspect.

I would like to live in a state of kindness. I would like to be so focused on the needs and hearts of others that I never say or do anything unkind. I feel that is a worthy goal. Maybe the best goal that I have. Also probably the least attainable in reality.

Am I going to be apologizing for things I’ve said, done or written my entire life? Probably. But I DO need to acknowledge, and celebrate that I am making progress toward a kinder, less selfish me.

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2014: The Year That Will Tell The Tale

Sometimes I feel pathetic. I set goals, make a bit of progress and then I let life get in the way and before I know it a month or two has passed and I’ve not made any more progress.

I desperately want to think that I can change this. And I guess that if I just continue to “try” every time I slip that I will continue to make progress. But that feels like a “cop out” and I know I am capable of better.

What do I want to accomplish in 2014?

Finally remove the extra weight

read 12 Pulitzers

read 61 books total (last year I read 60, so 61 it is)

learn PHP

knit or crochet 50 hats for the homeless shelter

move to a better place

Planning, planning, planning- no, wait…

I always spend too much time planning and not enough taking action.

Action, action, action

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