Beach Time Retrospective

I’ve never been a fan of the beach. I sunburn easily, don’t swim and hate the way sand permeates everything you own. Also, it’s kind of boring to just sit there staring at water all day. With that said, one vacation a few years ago took me to Virginia Beach for a few days before hitting Williamsburg and Monticello. It was a good trip and I managed to enjoy the beach time and even the time staring at the waves.

For some reason, this summer, I am dying to hit the beach and can’t get it out of my mind. Since it’s not going to happen this year, I’ll just enjoy my memories!

 

Whole 30: Day 11

It’s day eleven of my second round of the Whole 30. I’m more than a third of the way through and feeling pretty good. My mind is clear and my body feels strong. I’m rarely hungry between meals and am learning to better cope with the rare cravings for sweets.

This week my workplace has felt like a landmine for food. Upstairs we celebrated June birthdays with snacks that everyone carried in. Then there were donuts in the lunchroom and the usual candy baskets and snacks for purchase. I have navigated it all like a pro, not even feeling tempted to join in.

Don’t be too impressed – life is easier when I have rules. That’s all. I know junk food is against the rules and that any slips will cause me to return to day one. It’s much easier to look at something and say “that’s not for me” than it is to make a quick decision to eat or not to eat.

I respond well to rules. Since the Whole 30 has a lot of rules, I function pretty well when I’m on round!

A Smoking Selfie

Shamrock Inn Selfie with Cigarette MachineOkay, so the title might be a bit misleading but I couldn’t resist… Selfies have never really been my thing but I’m trying hard to change my ways. For work last week I interviewed the owner of an Irish pub (yes, I was really there to work)  where I found myself attempting to photograph a vintage cigarette machine. Most of my selfies are actually reflections in shiny surfaces, doors, mirrors, etc. so this fit my criteria. I especially liked the exposed brick and the lines on this vintage treasure.

My cousin Tammy said that she loves this photo because, while I’m in it, the picture is of more than just me. It includes something that is a vintage treasure and, for that reason, captures my soul.

I really like that concept and the idea of capturing myself with something that reflects who I am on a deeper level.

Anne’s House of Dreams

Annes house of dreamsI belong to a Facebook group that is reading L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series this year. This group of complete strangers has found common ground thanks to a collection of books that are about a century old. Anne would call us Kindred Spirits.

Reading Anne and other Montgomery books was just a part of my childhood. I have most of her work in paperbacks collected as a kid many, many, many years ago. When I was a little a older, Megan Follows gave new life to Anne in the Kevin Sullivan productions. The red headed heroine and her beau Gilbert Blythe will always hold a special place in my heart.

I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming reacquainted with the books, this time reading with the perspective of an adult. This time around I loved the first three books in the series but found a stumbling block in Anne of Windy Poplars. I remember not loving that book as a kid but, in the year 2018, found it positively tedious.

This month we read Anne’s House of Dreams and it was even better than I remembered. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t found my own happy ending and still have a shred of optimism left in my heart, making me happy for my childhood friend as she finally gets her happily ever after.

In this book, the insight we gain into her relationship with Gilbert is lovely. He is more present in this book than in the others and we can better understand just how much they love each other. To see them married, to read rich descriptions of their “house of dreams” and to see their family grow is heart warming. The writing is so rich I was positively heartbroken when their little Joy died.

The characters we meet in this book – Leslie, Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia – all bring a sense of newness and yet a feeling of familiarity to the world of our Anne Girl. They are complex and loveable, relatable and a joy to read.

I really appreciated the contrast between Anne’s house of dreams and Leslie’s house of nightmares and celebrated as Leslie broke free of her unhappy life. While painful, it is interesting seeing a grown-up Anne tackle issues of grief.

Rather than tell you more about what I think of this book, I would like to share a few of my favorite passages that I hope you will enjoy as well.

“I love to smell flowers in the dark,” she said. “You get hold of their soul then.”

“How glad Matthew would be tomorrow if he were here,” she whispered. “But I believe he does know and is glad of it – somewhere else. I’ve read somewhere that ‘our dead are never dead until we have forgotten them.’ Matthew will never be dead to me, for I can never forget him.”

“At sunset the little soul that had come with the dawning went away, leaving heartbreak behind it.”

“Marilla, Anne has sent me to tell you that a certain young gentleman has arrived here. He hasn’t brought much luggage with him, but he evidently means to stay.”

“But it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon – the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her – if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood – then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.”

“The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.” 

If you haven’t yet guessed, this book is filled with favorite passages. At some point in the third or fourth chapter I realized it was important to slow down and savor the story and the writing. This book must be Montgomery’s masterpiece simply because I can’t imagine anything being better than this.

What’s your favorite Anne book?

Whole 30 Update

Whole30-Timeline-COLOR-SmallerThis is my second round of the Whole 30 and I’m on Day 8. I marvel at how quickly the time passes on the Whole 30 and at how much better I feel when eating real food. I really do seem to have more stamina and energy and simply feel better.

My meals are pretty basic and often repetitive but I’m good with that because I like the foods I’m eating. It’s a lot of roasted vegetables, eggs, fish and shrimp. Most of it is prepared in olive oil. I drink a ton of water and there are no desserts or sweet treats to speak of.

It may sound restrictive but it’s actually extremely freeing to have fewer decisions to make and to know that what I’m eating is what I have to eat. I can’t wimp out on a Thursday night and decide to pick up pizza instead of coming home to cook. I know that I can’t have a cookie because it’s not on the list. That would break the rules and I would be required to go back to the beginning. I don’t want to start over again even for a cookie. However, if I thought for a minute I could have a cookie, I would. And then maybe another!

My mother thinks I don’t eat real food and a few weeks ago my Kroger cart, full of fresh produce and fish, was judged by some woman with a cartful of frozen pizzas and chips. I try not to judge others but it was sort of hard as she stood there glaring at my pile of sweet potatoes.

But that’s ok. The world doesn’t need to approve. I feel good and am becoming stronger and healthier each day. Their approval isn’t required for me to make a positive change in my life.

 

Books Really Do Open Up The World!

Yesterday I wrote about a former library book from the River Bluffs Regional Library. Of course, being a complete nerd, I had to Google the library to see where it is and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s in a town that looks like a place I would want to visit.

St. Joseph, Missouri is located on the Missouri/Kansas border and isn’t too far from Nebraska. One claim to fame is that the notorious outlaw Jesse James died here. Another is that the Pony Express began here. The town is also home to the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp. In its early days, St. Joseph was the last supply point along the Missouri River before heading off into the Wild West.

The city boasts a number of museums, including the Jesse James House and what looks like an amazing memorial dedicated to the late great newsman Walter Cronkite. There’s a gorgeous 1927 era theater and an 1850’s era hotel turned museum. The Wyeth Tootle Mansion is a 40 room mansion with three floors, a tower, and rooms adorned with intricate woodwork, hand-painted ceilings and imported stained glass. Their website claims that “it stands today as one of the best examples of St. Joseph’s late 19th-century wealth and opulence.”

It’s a college town and they claim to have a good bit of culture and nightlife. It’s also part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. A Pony Express Museum, a complex system of city parks and trails and other outdoor activities described on the tourism website make it sound like an amazing place to visit.

Can you tell I’m dying to go?

It’s an almost eleven hour drive from where I sit writing this. Looking at the map, I’m already thinking about the fun things I could do along the way if I drove. If I went next month I could fly to Kansas City for less than $300 round trip. Obviously, I’m not going next month since I have bigger fish to fry this summer but, boy, it sounds like a fun place to add to my to do list.

I like to plan things and am not always great with spontaneity but how fun would it be to pick up and go, inspired by a little kid’s book? What’s the craziest thing that inspired you to do something out of character?

 

 

 

 

That Old Book Smell

36200236_10208754799145745_7695811495774388224_nSometimes a scent can trigger a memory more quickly than any of the other senses. I love the scent of an old book, especially an old library book. I don’t know what it is but it reminds me of childhood trips to the library, of adventures through far away lands and countless stories that I have read in my lifetime.

An old book smells a little woody, sometimes even smoky. There’s a tinge of mustiness, dust and something I can’t identify. It’s a familiar, reassuring smell that makes me comfortable and calm. It may sound a little weird but an old book is one of my favorite scents.

This little book called “Bigger and Bigger” was written and illustrated by Inez Hogan and was first published in 1942. This copy was printed in 1966 and came to me from River Bluffs Regional Library. Off topic a little – I Googled the library and learned that it’s in St. Joseph, Missouri which looks like a nice town.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of illustrations of the forties and the art in this little book reminds me of some Little Golden Book illustrators of that period. That’s why I thought about buying it. However, the clincher was when I smelled the book it took me back to the third grade, to the little library on Main Street in McArthur with the old circ desk and wooden card catalog where it seemed all the world was before me, one book at a time. It sounds silly but I miss that place. New libraries are brightly lit and packed with technology that also gives you the world at your fingertips but there was nothing like that old place.