Late October Hike

     Aunt Carolyn is here to visit for a couple of days. We all went hiking after Dad came home from work and Uncle David got out of class. The trees are pretty thin now, but it's still beautiful.
     It's nice to have David living close by. It was a coincidence that he ended up going to the same university that Dad works at, but it was a coincidence we were all happy about. Carolyn lives in St. Louis, so she isn't very far away from us either. <3


On Inspiration and Creativity

      We're all chasing inspiration. Sometimes we find it, sometimes we don't. But it's something to look for. It's something to think about, and to take notes on.
     I'm most inspired when I'm living life. When I'm off the computer . . . going places, meeting people, and reading books. I'm least inspired when I fill my mind with the same ideas and only seek out the people who fit in my own little niche. I'm least inspired when I only read about and meet people who are exactly like me.

     Most of us know that if you want your blog to grow, you have to build a community. You have to connect with people who have the same interests and talents. That's something that I didn't know when I started blogging. I didn't know that I would meet new people and make good friends. I didn't know that it was such a huge part of blogging. Now it's one of my favorite parts.
     It's good to know people who have the same interests and think the same things. But I also find that if I get too absorbed in my little community, I lose my inspiration. I have to stay on my own path and keep striving to be myself if I want to be truly creative.
     I guess I'm saying that we, as bloggers, have to be careful. If we fill our heads with the things that everyone else writes, guess what? We'll start to sound like everyone else. If we follow all the popular blogs, guess what? We will become so obsessed with the popular bloggers that we'll turn into them instead of turning into us. And honestly? Turning into someone else is not very creative. But following your true self, becoming your true self, and writing the things that come out of your own head is creative.

     In my opinion, the best way to stay creative and inspired is to live your own life, meet different people, and spread your wings. Read about different people. Think about different opinions. Admire different sorts of art, and then go make your own kind of art. I hope that makes sense. It makes sense to me. 


Costumes and Books

Robot Ben + Lego Man Jason
     Today was costume day at our house. The boys built the basic structures for their costumes out of cardboard several weeks ago, but they had to scramble to get them finished for a party at church tonight. Sam and Jason covered the Lego man costume in colored duct tape, and they cut the dark film out of a pair of 3D glasses and pasted it over the eye-holes. I helped Ben glue together his costume, and then Sam spray-painted it silver. Ben and I added all the details with masking tape and Sharpies. He has a pair of coat-hangar antennae on his head too, but you can't really see them in the photograph. Those two had better have some Skittles or Snickers for us when they come home ;)
     We're going to have a late supper tonight, and Uncle David is planning to come watch Captain America with Sam, Dad, and me. Mom took Ben and me to the library earlier today, so I have a big stack of books to read. The fact that we're only allowed to check out five books is killing me, but Mom let me check out two extra books on her card. I cannot wait until this month of library restrictions is over. Ugh!
     I checked out Anne of Green Gables and Little Women both. I'm in the mood to revisit my old favorites. I felt sort of silly checking them out, because I have giant sets of Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery's books. But they're still in boxes at our old house. So I have to make do with the library books instead of my books. I might be strange, but I like to own my favorite books. I like to see them on my bookcase, and I like to flip through them sometimes. I like them to be all mine


Let's Talk About Books

     So. I'm in the mood to talk about books. First of all: The Princess Bride is amazing. Let's all agree on that, shall we? My mind seems to be stuck on Westley and Inigo Montoya and epic quotes. Second of all: I think I'm going to re-read Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. Maybe I should also re-visit Jane of Lantern Hill, and . . . oh, never mind. I'll stop there. I just miss L.M. Montgomery. (I think that can be remedied, though.)
     Thirdly! I haven't done a book stack post for a very, very long time. Therefore, I am going to tell you about the books I've been reading and the books that I'm looking forward to reading. Ready? Here goes.

images via goodreads
The last five books I've read . . .

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler by Trudi Kanter
My mom got this book at the library for me. It's a World War II memoir about a fashionable milliner and her escape from Austria. It's not a fictional account so it isn't particularly stunning or shocking. It's a simple story about life during that time period. Very realistic and interesting. I liked her writing style, and I liked the parts about the hats and Paris. Sometimes she jumped around between past and present tense in a way that was confusing. Overall though, I really liked the way she told her story.

I Didn't Ask to Be Born: (But I'm Glad I Was) by Bill Cosby
I like Bill Cosby. I liked his book too, but I would rather watch him than read him. His writing sounded exactly like him. Half of the time I could literally hear him saying the sentences in my head. But it wasn't all that great on paper. Like I said, I'd rather watch him than read him. It would be much more hilarious if it was combined with his voice, gestures and expressions. 

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell 
According to the cover, this is the memoir that inspired the television shows Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. I haven't actually seen either of those shows, but I really like that time period and I liked reading this book. From what I've heard, I doubt that the main plots and characters for Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs come directly from this book. However, I think that the general feel and atmosphere is similar. I'd definitely recommend it if you like the early 1900s and 1940s.

Sons from Afar by Cynthia Voigt
I've always loved the Tillerman family (they first appeared in Homecoming) so I liked reading another book about them. I think I read half of this book once and didn't finish it for some reason, so a lot of the plot was familiar. I suppose the series is some what dated (they were young adult books in the 1980s) but they're on my list of favorites. I'm still looking for Seventeen Against the Dealer! I can't seem to find that book anywhere.

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
I loved, loved, loved it. I'm interested in books about World War II that are told from a German perspective, and I always fall in love with plots that revolve around books. So this was a win. It's uniquely written and very quotable. Rudy, Liesel, and Hans Hubermann easily made my list of favorite literary characters. Maybe Rosa Hubermann too. She kind of grows on you. There's a lot of swearing in the book, and it's definitely a book that's only appropriate at a certain age/level of maturity. However, it's a book that makes you think. I'll be looking for more books by Markus Zusak.

images via goodreads
These five books are at the top of my (extremely long) to-read list . . .

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
Thunderhead by Mary O'Hara
My Life In France by Julia Child 
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
Menagerie Manor by Gerald Durrell 

     I'm hoping that all of these books are good choices and that I'll be able to get my hands on them soon. Have you read any of the books in this post? What did you think of them? What's on you're to-read list and what have you been reading? Do comment!  


Week End

     I started my day on Grandma's farm. The leaves were a little past their peak, but it was beautiful. I took Piper and Pookie for a long run, and Grandma's puppy Fritz joined us. They were three of the happiest creatures I have ever seen. I was pretty happy too. The woods were yellow with a tinge of pink and the grass was long and minty-colored. It was gorgeous and the dogs got soaked.
     We spent some time with both sides of the family over the weekend. Uncle David rode up with us and some of my other aunts and uncles (and cousins) were there too.  Consequently, Saturday was a good day . . . a very Morris-ish day. Loud, warm, and crowded, with lots of laughter, conversations, and good food.
    Today we had a little time with Grandma Wildermuth and we ate lunch with my Uncle Paul and his fiance, Carrie. It was lovely. Like my mom said, when you're having a hard time, it's good to be with your family and remember who you are. It was just what I needed, really. It was worth the long drive. I'm so glad for my big and wonderful family.

Tomorrow is a new day and that is a cheerful thought. <3


Beginnings Are Hard

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." -Anne Frank
     I might be falling apart a bit. I guess because I'm lonely. I guess because everything is different and nothing is different in a way that's wonderful.
     I have experience with this. I know that all beginnings are hard. But I forget the beginnings easily. It's when the beginnings are happening . . . that's when it feels like my life has been an endless string of them. That's when I start to feel impossibly weary. Weary of beginnings.
     Things come gradually. Everything works out gradually. But it's hard to see "gradually". It's hard to feel like anything is getting better when it's only gradually.
     Beginnings don't work out well right away. It's as though my real life evaporated . . . and now I have to make do with pieces that should fit together into a new life. But they don't. They're all separate and disjointed and wrong. And each little piece is a mountain and a battle. Something that I have to climb and fight and conquer. And it's hard. It just is.

     I wouldn't mind crawling in a hole and living there for a very long time. But I can't really do that. So I guess I'm just going to keep plodding. I guess I'm just going to focus on the things that hold me together. Like good books and long walks with Piper and beautiful music and colored leaves . . .
Currently Reading: The Book Thief, The Grace Awakening, and Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Not knowing when the dawn will come
    I open every door;
Or has it feathers like a bird,
    Or billows like a shore?
-Emily Dickinson

Bring Him Home by Jon Schmidt & Steven Sharp Nelson on Grooveshark
Arwen's Vigil by The Piano Guys on Grooveshark


Sun Art

     Today I found this little packet of sun-art paper that my aunt sent me for my birthday, way back in June. So I opened it and spent the better part of the afternoon sandwiching leaves between paper and acrylic and trekking back and forth from the kitchen to the concrete pad in the backyard.
     To make a print, you place a sheet of sun-art paper on a piece of cardboard (blue side up) and then you put a flat object on top of that with a sheet of acrylic to hold it in place. You leave it in the sun until it turns light blue or white, and then you rinse it with water and lay it out to dry. Oddly enough, the paper starts out blue on one side. Then it turns white, except for the area under the object; but when you rinse it, the blue turns white and the white turns blue. Odd, huh?
      I know the fall leaves are pretty typical, but I like how they turned out. I still have about ten more sheets, so I'm waiting for inspiration to strike.


Sidewalks & Dogs

     I took my camera on my walk with Piper this afternoon in hopes that we'd find some interesting things to photograph. Piper was not keen on photography (although she was very interested in telephone poles) so we didn't get any photographs of red leaves or plants growing in the sidewalk cracks. Ha! I just took this one photo of a date in the sidewalk that I noticed earlier today. I like finding little details like that. I'm surprised it didn't turn out blurry, because Piper was tugging on the leash.
     Today the librarian was telling us about a tri-state tornado that swept through our town in 1925. Most of the town was destroyed. I know this because she talked on and on about it. And it was interesting, but she talked for a looong time. That's one thing I've noticed about our small town library. All of the librarians are talkers. Back to the tornado though. I guess this sidewalk survived, didn't it?
     When we looped back to our house, I tried to make Piper submit to being photographed. It didn't work very well until I got her to sit in a pile of leaves in the front yard. Even then she insisted on whipping her head back and forth. (Pipes, you and I have got to work on this photography thing.)
     Thankfully, she is behaving a lot better. I think she's starting to resign herself to living here, so she's less anxious and upset. She's also getting used to a new routine, and she's starting to like it. Funny thing about Piper and Pookie, they really love their routines. Mom bought a harness for her, and that's stopped her from yanking me up and down the streets. So I take her on longer walks now and we're both happier. =)
     What about you? Does your dog like to be photographed? And how's fall in your part of the country? Are you starting to get some nice crunchy leaves to shuffle through?


Small Libraries

     The library in our new town is just a few miles from our house. It's only a couple minutes away by car, and it's somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes on foot. Sam and I have already walked there. It's a long walk, but it was really nice to get out of the house and go somewhere.
     We live in a small town, so it's not a very big library. But it has a pretty good selection. I've lived lots of places and I've seen all types of libraries, big and small. This is the good type of small library. They have nice books and nice librarians, and they have a huge library network (which means a huge inter-library loan system). Right now we're on a sixty day probation. (You can be on library probation? Apparently.) After the sixty days are over, we'll be able to use our cards at other libraries around the area, and we'll be able to get books through the inter-library loan. We'll also be able to check out fifty books instead of five, however the librarian told us that she wouldn't really recommend doing that. ;)
      The funny thing about small libraries is this: they each have their own unique selection. There's usually some basic books and genres they have in common, but past that they vary quite a bit. For instance, one small library might have a huge mystery selection while another library might have more science fiction. One library might have lots of older, obscure books while another library might have all of the latest bestsellers. They each have their own personality. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but it's mostly been a good thing for me. I've lived in lots of rural areas and small towns, so I wouldn't have much to read if each small library was the same as every other small library.

     What about you? Can you walk to your library? Is it a small library or a big one? 


Rainy Thoughts

     It's raining outside and the sun has nearly disappeared. My head is full of thoughts and questions, but I'm still wondering how to put those thoughts into words. So I'm just going to sit here in the basement rocking chair and ramble on about normal things.
     I spent a good part of the day painting the trim in my bedroom. It feels like a crime to paint the old wood. There's lots of good reasons to paint it, but it makes me a little sad.
     Sam's birthday is on Sunday and Jason's birthday is on Monday. They're going to be fifteen and eight. I haven't bought them presents yet. Ben and I want to go to a little toy store in the mall to buy something for Jason. Sam is a lot harder to shop for.

     Piper is my trouble-child again. I was starting to think she was mellowing out, but she's been a hyperactive mess ever since we moved. She hates staying in the kennel and she yanks and pulls me all over the place when I walk her around the neighborhood. She's always whining, crying, howling, sighing, and generally making it known that she does not approve of our new life choice. It reminds me of her puppy days when I had to chase her around the yard and stuff her into her pen and she would howl belligerently at me. I thought those days were over and our battles were ended. But they've just begun. Right now she's lying on her blanket next to me and she's sound asleep. She's beautiful and adorable and funny and I love her. But I wish she was more prone to being calm and unflappable like Pookie. Hopefully her behavior will start improving with lots of love and hard work. I think it probably will, but it will take time.

     There's not much to do these days. I daydream and make plans in my head. I do my chores and work in my bedroom and spend lots of extra quality time with trouble-dog. I read books and I read blogs and I put words and sentences together. I listen to music. I think of the future and I try to enjoy the now.
     It's 7:33. About two hours till bedtime. There's a persistent rumor concerning chocolate chip cookies. Piper is awake. I think I'll drag her upstairs with me to read Tender is the Night or Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. To clarify that, I will read and she will sit on her blanket and look at me with sad brown eyes and her best tragic face.

See you around. <3

What I'm listening to . . . 

  Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel on Grooveshark Scarborough Fair / Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel on Grooveshark


Terracotta Birds

     Grandma W. made a quick trip to visit us this week since she couldn't come for Sam and Jason's birthdays next week. Yesterday we all visited Murphysboro Lake, had ice cream at Dairy Queen and went to the little antique shops downtown. I bought a yellow pyrex bowl and these two little bird ornaments. The little boys each got a little bird as well. I believe they're made of painted terracotta. Probably from Mexico. I love them. They're so colorful and happy. <3


Little House

      This little house has many imperfections and difficulties. It has many charms too, but you have to be willing to look past glaring realities like the crumbling living room ceiling if you want to notice them.
       I like the tall ceilings and the wavy glass in the old windows. It's funny to look out the window and see the backyard rippling. But I don't like the cracking plaster and the faulty plumbing and electricity. I don't like sharing one bathroom with five other people and I hate it that the dogs have to stay in a tiny pen. 
     I like the brick streets in our neighborhood, but I don't like the way our bumper always scrapes when we back out of the driveway. I like seeing people out and about on the streets, but sometimes I wish we had a little more privacy. I'm not used to people looking at me while I'm standing in my own backyard.
     I like the shutters and the shape of the windows. I don't like the walled-up porch. I like the old doorknobs and the white brick walls in the basement. I don't like the pink bathtub and the tacky kitchen cupboards and the dark green stick-on tiles.
     I like walking to the library with Sam, but I don't like passing the house where the people yell at each other. I do like the yellow house across from us where Fern and her husband live. They've been married for more than sixty years, and they've lived in the little yellow house for fifty of those. It's been yellow all that time. And I like that. I really really do.