"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Friday, December 23, 2005

First Impressions: a newcomer's thoughts on Kansas

There are about a billion Sonics in town. Truthfully, there are only probably four… but in a town that only has two McDonald’s, do we really need four Sonics?

There are Jayhawks everywhere, which is odd for a made-up bird. But really… everywhere you look there is another Jayhawk something. My three year old wants a Jayhawk NECKLACE and keeps asking why we don’t have a Jayhawk in our yard.

Everyone here smokes, has a dog, or smokes and has a dog. Everyone. And they all do it while driving… smoking and having dogs that is.

The leaves changing colors... it’s the most beautiful thing. I’m already taking notes on what types of trees I want planted on my yard based on what they look just before their leaves fall. Although I am also realizing that those same beautiful leaves will need raking. My three year old is constantly trying to talk us into buying a rake and the only tree at our rented townhome is this 5 foot tree in front of our door with a total of about 30 leaves on it. But they ARE bright red leaves (Autumn Blaze Maple).

Old Victorian homes... I have a soft spot for them. I’d rather buy one that has already been renovated, rather than do all the work myself. I’m a bit lazy. They just have so much more character than a one story, garage fronted, tan California stucco home. I love a town with some history. Although I must say I am disappointed in the sad sad excuse downtown Lawrence has for a post office. It’s this awesome downtown, with all these old churches and old banks and old buildings. Then their post office… well… it’s just this dumpy old building. I didn’t even realize it was the post office until I’d lived here six weeks. I just kept driving past it thinking the post office should be around here somewhere according to the map – and then one day I realized the dumpy blue building was the post office.

But the cold... nobody told me about the cold. I expected a Utah-like winter, not negative eighteen when I woke up in the morning. And then people warn me about something called "freezing rain" –some odd phenomenon of nature where it rains, and then instantly freezes on your windshield in a solid sheet!!! Huh? I may have to buy a winter home and migrate like geese.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sweet Teeth... I have more than one

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - Christmas Style

2 cups butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla

In separate bowl, mix:
5 cups flour
1 1/2 TBSP. baking soda
1 cup cocoa

Mix all together - stir until crinkley (dough looks dry, it's okay).

Add 1/2 to 3/4 bag of mint Christmas M&Ms.
(If it's not Christmas, use regular or white chocolate chips).

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

These are delicious. I think I probably ate 2/3 of them myself... giving a few away and sharing a few with my husband, and letting my kids have tiny bites from mine.

*When I first posted this recipe in 2005, the mint M&Ms were small, like Plain M&Ms. When I added this picture in December 0f 2008, they are the size of Peanut Butter M&Ms and not as great for cookie making. I'm mad.

Between the Bookends

This year I have read 12,901 pages... to date. I'll probably read one more book to get over 13,000, but maybe 13 thousand is bad luck and I should just stop for the year. This number is counting only books I've completed... not books like Life of Pi that I've started, lost, read some more, and then lost again- with intentions of reading it, but only when I can't put it off any longer. These are only the pages of books I've actually read cover to cover. Unless of course there is some extremely boring prologue numbered with xi and v. In that case, chances are pretty high that I did not read those pages, nor did I count them... mainly because they were in Roman Numerals. Besides, the chance that any book I would read having that kind of prologue... highly unlikely.

So, to the point- 12,901 pages sounds impressive. And it's a lot of books. Fourty-two to be exact. But of the 42 books, 15 were Young Adult novels, six were what I call "chick lit" (all involving some single girl, whose best friend is a gay man, she works in publishing/tv/environmental field, falls in love after being broken hearted... you got the picture... no symbolism here), three were books I read for a book club... (books by people I have a hard time believing have actually published so many books, being the poor writers that they are-I'm naming no names, you might just love them), 12 were actual substantial books... at least I'd like to think so. Only three were nonfiction, which, as sad as that number is... is a dramatic rise in my nonfiction reading. Last year I only read one nonfiction book... for a book club. The year before only one ... for a book club. And the three years before that ... zero. And that's when I started keeping track, but I'm sure there are just big fat zeros as far as nonfiction goes. But I feel like I'm surrounded by people who only read nonfiction, see novels as frivolous... I want frivolous!

I look at the books I've read this past year, and although at times it may seem like an embarrassing assortment ... I'm happy. I read the books I want to read. Not always the books from the high school English teachers summer reading list, not always the books Oprah says I should read. I read what I want to read... maybe it's a classic, a book club must read, or just something with a fun cover that grabs my eye at the library or the book store, but I read not for the symbolism, the number of pages, the deep, literary conversations I can have with other readers, I read to have fun. Period. End.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of...

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to write. From the earliest questions of what did I want to be when I grew up, I always answered that I wanted to be an author. Of course at the time, I probably said, "Arthur." And at first, I thought I was going to write children's books, and illustrate them. That was up until my drawing ability stopped at the ability of a 7 year old and I decided I'd have to hire an illustrator. As I grew up, the books I wanted to write did too. Although for some reason, I've been stuck in the Young Adult section for a long time... maybe just as an excuse so I can read all the Young Adult books I want without being embarassed. I just say, "I'm a writer, just have to see what the competition is like." And I'd say it all macho and confident. But truthfully... I don't go around saying I'm a writer. At least not since I was about 14. Coming from California, where everyone you meet is a wannabe writer or actor, or filmmaker, you just don't go around advertising something that may never come true. I don't want to be a washed up writer to everyone before I've actually earned the title of writer. So for now... let's just say... I like to write, and I'm especially fond of ellipses.
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