Festival

2012/03/31

It's Spring Festival time at the girls' school and my girls are rocking the magnetic climbing wall. I'm rocking the shade. 

Friday

2012/03/30

I have a crazy stressful day and a busy weekend coming up so I'm in need of some chill tunes. Need...

The Wapshot Chronicle

The Wapshot ChronicleThe Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meh. I'm just glad to have it done. I recognize that this is supposed to be a great work of fiction, but I listened to it over way too long of a stretch and I just didn't really connect with the characters or the story. That is a definite hazard of audio books, or any book when you read it too slowly I suppose. I typically love family stories that explore the different characters and generations like this one did, but there wasn't a single character that I was rooting for. Perhaps you have to be a New Englander to "get it".

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Good morning...

2012/03/26

I'm out on the trail today so it's a good morning indeed. The great rain this spring has made Barton Creek immensely green and the water is running fast and high. So high in fact I can't navigate the entire trail but I'll make it work. I don't even recognize the trail from last time I was here several weeks ago. Crazy beautiful...

Enduring Love

2012/03/25


Enduring LoveEnduring Love by Ian McEwan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book on so many levels. McEwan is such a master of language and suspense. But where he really excels is in his description of human relationships and of the character and consequences of misunderstanding.

What I learned:
I was very intrigued by the undertones in the story that pit rationalism against emotion. The main character is an ardent believer in the rationality and infallibility of science where as his wife is a lover of literature and the more subtle nuance of emotion and the mess of life. The two played off of each other in a masterful way.

What I loved:
I loved the language as I always do in McEwan's books. The plot was immensely compelling and just enough suspense to keep me flying through the pages. Such a fascinating story. I love reading his descriptions of the characters' interpersonal interactions.

A favorite passage, there were so many but this one stood out:
I guessed her to be about fifty. The long straight hair was a last rope to the bollard of her youth. Failure had written in lines on Johnny's face, but with Daisy it was all in the downward curve of their mouth. Lately I've noticed these mouths in some women of my age. A lifetime of putting out, as they saw it, and getting nothing back. The men were bastards, the social contract unjust, and biology itself an affliction. The weight of all disappointment bent and locked these mouths into their downturn, a Cupid's bow of loss. At a glance it looked like disapproval, but the mouths told a deeper tale of regret, through their owners never guessed what was being said about them.

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Outside

More outside and why I adore March. Gorgeous afternoon at Mt. Bonnel. Although at 80 degrees my girls complained of the heat. Oh dear. 

Walk

2012/03/23

I needed a study break so I took my doggies out for a walk around the neighborhood. I would have rather lay down but something told me to move instead. Sometimes what you need comes... Perfect... 

Mockingjay

2012/03/19


Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot the second time around. I paced myself a bit better and followed the characters and plot more carefully. I think the depiction of war is rightly complicated and the issues the characters face are really interesting. I know a lot of people were let down by the ending but I thought it was realistic and I appreciated that it wasn't a simple happily ever after that would have been easy to write. The truth is always a little more nuanced. I think the author did a really good job of dealing with the hurt and pain and messiness of the war and of the human relationships. Excellent book.

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Catching Fire


Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This might be my favorite book in the trilogy. I love the romantic conflict and there is so much action packed into this one. Again, I think Katniss is portrayed very true and I love that. I have a huge Peeta crush too.

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The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a few days off work and a complete abhorrence to do anything productive, I decided to give this trilogy a second spin. I'm excited for the movie coming out next week and I wanted to make sure the book was fresh in my mind. It was just as entertaining the second time through. In fact, because I could slow down a little and I knew the characters better I think I enjoyed it more. Katniss is such a fabulous protagonist. She is a great role model and a really complicated and interesting character. Even though the books are somewhat graphic and I'm not about to let my 11 year old read them any time soon, I think they present really interesting things to think about governance and morality.

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The Ghost Rider


The Ghost RiderThe Ghost Rider by Ismail Kadare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book jumps straight into the action and I really liked that. The mystery central to the plot is interesting and I was drawn in just to find out how it resolved. I also felt like the book gave me a true view of the Albanian culture which is something I've never read about before. Even though almost every aspect of this book I found enjoyable, I don't feel like I was really illuminated or changed by it, which means 3 stars from me.


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Bluebonnets

It is a breathtaking spring this year and there was no way I was going to miss another opportunity to see the Willow City Loop that we discovered two years ago, so I corralled the fam into the car and we drove out yesterday after church. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Wildflower season always makes me a little sad. Spectacular beauty often has that affect on me, just moves me inexplicably and an aching in my heart results... And it's also sad because it is just so short lived - which I guess also makes it that much more special. There is no way for me to adequately capture the vistas with pictures. Just millions and millions of bluebonnets and other gorgeous wildflowers. I paid for the long drive with a splitting headache that kept me up last night, but it was still worth it.

 

Commerce

2012/03/17

Sylvie and a friend are selling cheese microwaved on crackers (which I have been informed is the best food ever invented) on the street today. Their pricing is a little suspect but they make up for it in customer service. Business is slow but they seem to be happy getting rid of excess inventory. 

SxSW

2012/03/15

At Auditorium Shores tonight with friends, reveling in the yummy sounds of M. Ward and anxiously anticipating The Shins. Happy. 

Dinner

2012/03/14

Sylvie and I are on our own tonight so we voted for mixed berry pie for dinner. With chocolate pie for dessert. Sylvie estimates the top crust at about 12 square inches. I estimate it at delicious. Happy Pi Day!

Prize

2012/03/13

I bought myself a Pi Day present and it came just in time for tomorrow's festivities. Math is tasty. 

2012 (in bullet form!)

I kind of like it when there are big things on my calendar to focus my attention on. In theory anyway, there are so many coming up in 2012 that my theory might get tested and/or thrown out the window.

April
  • Hike the Grand Canyon! Exciting^10!
  • Trip to Phoenix for Work. It is what it is. They will have hired some new people and the office has been remodeled and frankly, I just don't belong there any more. I will do my best to smile.
  • Certification Exam. A little nervous. It's right after my trip so my biggest concern is not wasting myself while I travel like I normally do.
  • Lots of classwork. Wish me luck!

May
  • Two weeks of student teaching. Excited and a huge amount nervous for this one.
  • Hopefully this is when I'll be finding my placement for August although it might take longer. Fingers crossed.
  • More lots of classwork!

June
  • Unemployment! I am wholeheartedly looking forward to this other than that whole money thing. I haven't been without a job since I was like 15.
  • My mom and baby sister are moving to Austin! I have ordered up a non-sweltering summer on their behalf.
  • More lots of classwork!

July
  • Family trip to Utah/Wyoming as long as gas doesn't cost $6 a gallon by then.
  • Even more lots of classwork no doubt peppered with some new anxiety about actually teaching.

August
  • Teach*!
*Don't die

September-December
  • Don't die, rinse and repeat.

State of the Amber

It's Spring Break here in Austin and I'm considering this something of the calm before the storm as far as my crazy life is concerned. Next week my face to face classes for my certification start up and I'm not processing very well what that's going to mean as far as resource drain is concerned.

I've been studying since January for my content exam, perhaps not as much as I should be, but studying a lot none the less. I have a practice exam next Saturday and the real deal is mid April. I vacillate daily on how prepared I feel. The practice questions I've encountered have been pretty easy but it's just hard to know what the real scope of the test will be. I'm glad I have a practice exam first. Still lots of holes in my Math memory, but it is extremely satisfying to see it all being rebuilt. I love Math.

I've also been observing classrooms the past few weeks and that has been really great. Every classroom has made me feel more excited to teach rather than the opposite and I consider that a very positive sign. All except perhaps the middle school - it made me pretty certain I'd rather be teaching High School. Good to know.

So starting next week I have class pretty much every Tuesday and Thursday night and every Saturday all day. And of course the campus is clear across town for me to get a lovely taste of that rush hour traffic. Guess it's time to break out the audio books.

The bottom line is that I'm really happy about it all. I am energized and excited to be teaching this fall. Just hoping I have the energy to make it through with a little grace.

Outside

2012/03/11

The incredible rain of the past few days has broken way to glorious sunshine. The kind that requires us to be outside. 

Some Songs

2012/03/09

I just can't get enough of First Aid Kit lately. A little sad but so sweet and comforting too.



Radiohead

It's been quite a while since I've seen a "big" show. Austin is much more tuned for small venues for indie bands and up-and-comers. A lot of the big acts will skip Austin all together and head to San Antonio, Dallas, or Houston. So certainly there was no way I was going to miss Radiohead when they came to town. It was such an amazing show. I was late to the Radiohead bandwagon - I remember not liking Creep when it was big on the radio and definitely not getting OK Computer when it first came out, but over the past years they have become dear to my heart. So much complexity to their compositions. So much artistry.

The show was truly amazing. The stage was a visual treat. They had 12 movable and 6 fixed screens that displayed artistically framed live footage from the band and a light and color show that changed with each song. Even though we were at the Erwin Center (the UT basketball arena) the sound was great. I've found so many big shows simply crank up the sound with no regard to actual quality, but of course Radiohead would get it right. I was starting to feel like I was getting too old to enjoy live music, but this show made me truly happy.

 

Pedernales Falls


I completed hike 2 of my 3 planned Grand Canyon training hikes last Friday. Dave and I took the day off work and while the girls were at school we went out to Pedernales Falls to see what it had to offer. I'm not totally sure of the total distance as both my GPS and the map were on the unreliable side. (Is it just me or does Sprint's GPS really suck?) Probably 14-15 miles total. It was a good hike but it made me really, really miss mountains. Yes, it's hill country, and hills are lovely, but they just aren't the same as my lovely Wasatch Mountains. I don't get homesick for Utah very often but sometimes I do truly miss the geography. Growing up in Utah seems to spoil you for so much else of the country when it comes to landscape. Plus I could really use some more impressive hill work to prep for the Grand Canyon. C'est la vie.

None of the pictures I took ended up very picturesque so instead I'll just mark this post with my obligatory feet shot. There was one point where we had to take off shoes and cross a river. It was much welcome as I had worn a lovely blister on my right foot fourth toe by that point. Always seems to be the same spot. The next day the entire skin of bottom of my toe had detached and under my blister was another blood blister. That's an accomplishment. These training hikes are as much or more about my feet getting used to shoes as they are about fitness.

I'm am starting to get a yummy level of excited for the Grand Canyon. April 14th can't come fast enough.

My Year with Eleanor


My Year with EleanorMy Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a really fun read. Her writing style is enjoyable and easy. I think she painted well the evolution of her year where inspired by an Eleanor Roosevelt quote she did one scary thing every day. I do feel like there have been a few too many of this type of memoir where somebody tackles a project for a year and then writes a humorous and light memoir about it tinged with self actualization.

What I learned:
Even pretty girls can be messed up on the insides and personal growth can make bank if humorously framed.

What I loved liked:
I'm having a hard time reading right now so it was nice to have a light read that was easy to pick up and laugh occasionally.

Some favorite passage - she had a lot of great one liners:

"The luxury of being an adult is you no longer have to do things that make you uncomfortable"

"Bon mots were my preferred defense mechanism, though I would use homicide in a pinch."

"Perfectionism is the fear of making mistakes."

"Now I understood how commanders got their soldiers to charge into battle. The human instinct to please could be more powerful than our survival instinct."

"Fear is just excitement without the breath."

"The whole time I'd thought I was trying to get back to the person I used to be, when really I was growing into the person I was always meant to be. I was relaxing into myself."


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Spring

2012/03/06

Spring has sprung in the sunbelt. It's hard to enjoy spring fully when I know it will be short lived and followed by that southern heat. I'm a worst first kind of girl after all. But for now it is glorious.