Speaking of faith..

My “rules” for this post are simple: respect is mandatory; curiosity is fine, asking for clarification is fine; proselytizing, denigration and snark have no place here.

This post originally started as a reply to someone else on another forum earlier this week, before I realized it wasn’t *really* what the original poster was asking for. However, because it’s rare enough that I manage to be even this coherent about how I conceptualize faith, I didn’t want to just delete it. I originally posted it in a more protected space, but decided to clean it up (and expand on it in places) because I think part of what the person to whom I was originally replying is interested in involves the idea that people who think about what they believe (or don’t believe) tend to be private or introspective and therefore silent about it so we have a hard time finding each other. The ability to respect someone else’s belief (or non-belief) and engage in honest curiosity about our world, and about how we all navigate it, is, I hope, not as rare as all that so much as it’s something we’ve been taught by the various dominant organized religions is unacceptable. I don’t believe it is unacceptable, so decided to do my part to contribute to some real or imagined larger conversation.

This got pretty long, so to spare the feed readers of those of you not interested, more after the jump. Continue reading

On my iPod: Audiobooks

I spend nearly two hours a day in my car; I don’t ever really think about it, until I say things like that. Part of what keeps me sane, though, are audiobooks. I’ve reached the point in my current book (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larrson, which is *fantastic* and highly recommended, but read (or listen to – the narrator for the English translations of these (Simon Vance) is wonderful!) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire first) where I’m desperate to know what happens next and at the same time terribly sad to know that by this time tomorrow there will be no more left to listen to. In this case, it’s even more pronounced than it tends to be because in addition to being the last book in the trilogy, Mr. Larrson died young so there really won’t be more to enjoy by him, involving these characters or others (he apparently finished about half of a fourth book – out of ten originally outlined – but there are apparently some Swedish legal matters that make it unlikely it will every be finished and published). While he pushes the bounds of suspension of disbelief quite a bit, the Millenium trilogy is a fully enrapturing romp and his characters are truly unforgettable, ranging from fully anti-social and eccentric to everyday hero to straight out villain with a few other deviants along that spectrum scattered about for good measure.

Recently, I’ve also listened to The Sunless Countries, the fourth book in Karl Schroeder’s Virga series. It was, again, not the direction I expected him to take, but still very, very good. I like that he seems to be doing character-based sequels, where a character from a previous book becomes either the main or a connecting character to a new cast. It’s been a rather believable way of doing the world exploration without stretching credibility *too* much that a single core group of characters is directly and integrally involved in everything fantastical that happens throughout the series. He also does a remarkable job of keeping his characters human without over-accentuating either their virtues or their flaws.

Prior to that.. hrm.. oh, yes, The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande on a recommendation from a work colleague. Very engaging (and reasonably short), but I’m not entirely sure there’s anything particularly groundbreaking about anything in it, except perhaps the author’s attempts to introduce the concept to the healthcare industry and his subsequent results.

Anyway, I’m not sure what will be up next as I usually decide what I’m in the mood for when I get to that point, but I have waiting in my library How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom, The Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (which you can get, too, and for free, even: “Limited Time #FreeBook ANYONE can get the First Book of Fey, The Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch http://ht.ly/248Jd” (via @audible_com on Twitter)), A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende, and Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Pre and Post.

This year’s big project (or at least one of them) with the house was the siding and the front porch. I had been planning on doing the porch with dad, but the contractor (Brian Olson, out of La Crescent, for those who may be interested; I would recommend him!) gave me a quote for both the siding and the porch that was equal to all the other bids I got just for the siding, so I decided it was worth it to have his crew do the work.

This post is pretty picture heavy, because I wanted to do some before/after comparisons, so I’ll throw in a cut here for those who may not want to deal with the pictures on a feed reader. Continue reading

Mmm.. welcome back.

*contented sigh*

I’m reading more or less regularly again. By which I mean I’m actually reading printed-on-paper books as well as listening to audiobooks in the car (which I’ve been in a lot lately between the commute and a more-than-usual amount of weekend travel). Like many things in my life, reading sometimes ebbs and flows, and lately I’ve not had the calmness of mind to slip into a story and just let it take me away. It’s a sign of some peace and predictability returning, as I settle into the new job a bit more as well as make some decisions that, while not exactly weighing on my mind have been bouncing around the back burner for quite awhile. All things considered, this is a Good Thing(tm) and somewhat of a relief – for some reason it always makes me worry when I lose the desire to read.

I plowed through Santa Olivia, Jacqueline Carey‘s newest non-Kushiel novel, in a couple days last week. It lacks a lot of the depth of the Kushiel series, but was still a well crafted story with enough counterculture to satisfy. Feeding off that momentum, I started Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson and though it started a little more slowly than I’d have preferred, it’s progressed into the combination of well-researched history and plausible near-future that I love about his work. About the same time, I downloaded Bright of the Sky by new-to-me author Kay Kenyon and have been thoroughly sucked into it to the point where I actually finding myself wanted a commute longer than the 50 minutes it already is!

I’m also beginning to plot for the garden this year.. so far all I know for sure is cukes and tomatoes and pr’bly onions and peppers again. I’d do herbs (oh, right, I’ll do dill again) but that always seems like a grand idea until I realize that I have no real idea how to cook with them. *shrug* I’ll pr’bly do peas and beans again, though in the back yard this time instead of one of the boxes so they’ll get more shade and possibly vine up over the pergola. Lettuce would be good, if I actually manage to tend the garden well enough to stagger the planting (and therefore the harvesting) well enough. Pr’bly no squash this year as I don’t seem to go through as much of it, but I might give in and do a summer squash anyway. I’m learning that I’m a sort of haphazard gardener, which I’m honestly okay with, but sometimes means my follow through suffers. *smile*

Just because..

.. it’s been something like 5 months since I posted..

More new music tonight – prepping for a long drive, which seems to be the way of things lately:

  • Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
  • Dropkick Murphys – The Warrior’s Code
  • Tally Hall – Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
  • Dave Potts – One Night in the South

Also picked up Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong by the Spin Doctors because a good friend quoted it at me a few weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my head. Same good friend forwarded me news about a set of God Street Wine reunion shows in New York in.. June, I think; I’ll be looking for plane tickets soon, since I already have tickets to the shows. *grin*

Next weekend I’m going to see Gaelic Storm, along with I think nearly a dozen friends. I’m pretty stoked to be seeing them again, even if I am a little disappointed that we’re in a real theatre with seats which might mean dancing will be a little annoying. Not that I’ll let it stop me, but it might piss off anyone behind me. Oh well. *shrug*

Yup, this is my life lately. No real fiber artistry to speak of, and even though it’s finally spring I haven’t done any serious planning for the gardens yet. I switched jobs in there somewhere and have a longer commute, but also more stuff rattling in my skull so I haven’t even been listening to many books – it’s all about music these days. So it goes.

Where have you been..?

I’m in an odd sort of mood. It happens, I know. Random wisps of nostalgia floating around in my head, spawned by a trip home to attend a once-fond childhood tradition, combined with the continuing emotional fall out of the last year and change really couldn’t result in anything else. In the interest of fair warning, I’m likely to wax a little poetic, or even melodramatic, in the following. Eh. My muse is fickle, and I’m loathe to defy her moods lest she abandon me altogether. *smile*

It’s always sort of surprised me how many of my friends from growing up fell in love with and married their high school sweethearts. Not in a bad way, really.. more in .. well, it’s sort of a little awe-inspiring. To know so young, and to love so strong. To openly embrace the growth and change in each other, and encourage it, even as it changes the material foundations of your world. That level of certainty.. of commitment to another soul.. there is magic in our midst.

Family, both biological and chosen, and the connectedness of people, the importance of those ties, even when we don’t renew them.. maybe especially when we don’t.. there’s something.. *there* that I’m not able to articulate. Nostalgia and remembrance.. *shrug*

I was reminded, in my mind’s meanderings as I wended my way south on Highway 52 this afternoon, of Ambrosia. The .. urgency of my quest for freedom, and for identity, has waxed and waned in the 10 or so years since I wrote it. Despite the apparent prophecy in the line “I want to form my life again and again from the raw clay of my soul”, I’ve lost and found myself – not the same myself, to be sure, but still, at the essence, me – more times in the last decade than I expected. More deeply, or completely.

And yet, the weaving continues, telling stories – my stories, our stories – in myriad colors and textures, flowing like water – sometimes placid and smooth and sometimes churned to a great tumult. Like fine silk, the threads of connection seem so terribly fragile, so easily snapped and severed. And yet, in truth, they are so very resilient. Our humanity, the simple coincidence of having known each other once, then, is enough, sometimes, to bring the color and vibrancy of a faded strand to light. I’ve let too much of the tapestry of my life fade, neglected and untended, and while doing so is alternatively so simple as breathing and so terrifying as leaping from a great height, it’s past time to begin the mending.

It is, however, a line from something else I wrote – or rather, something I spat at a friend (then and again) in (admittedly somewhat eloquent) anger and frustration – that still haunts me. I’ve turned it into a challenge of sorts, a hurdle over the black abyss of a moat surrounding my deepest self, a moat that despite my best attempts to bridge seems some days unfathomable. It’s a test, administered in jest, or at least seeming so. I don’t know what will happen when someone answers it in truth. I don’t really even know what that answer is, or will be, or whether there is one. It’s somewhat of a romantic, fairy tale notion, but one rooted in an all too real need. I know it should be unnecessary, that I should be more trusting, more self-reliant; that it’s a shield behind which I hide, a crutch upon which I lean instead of learning to strengthen myself to stand without it. But I also know that, as the soul of my soul once said, healing is a spiral and sometimes we have to move a little backwards before we’re able to move forward again.