Poem for March: Wild Geese

Read the poem by clicking somewhere on this sentence.

After somewhat dogging on the Mary Oliver book I read last month, I, of course, decided to memorize one of her poems this month. This poem is on the side of my friend Deborah’s refrigerator. It is also Responsive Reading #490 in the Unitarian Hymnal Singing the Living Tradition. I really like the first five lines, as they are good reminder for modern life.

Books read in March

Wow! Only two fiction books this month? What’s going on there?

Twelve by Twelve
William Powers
Powers’ reaction to the twelve by twelve cabin upon first sight surprised me. He was disgusted by its tiny size, weirded out that someone might actually live there. This reaction from a NGO activist who had lived and worked in many developing countries? Was he living in palaces? (Apparently, we learn later, his housing was a bit fancy.) I’m all for living in a tiny space, so I had trouble with his trouble. Powers is a good writer, which is good because it makes his descriptions of life in the cabin interesting. The book can feel a bit navel gazing at times, but was otherwise interesting.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Muriel Barbery
Read for Kenton Library Book Club, March 2011.
I loved this book. I have recommended it to several people and my description (A French concierge! Who is an intellectual! But hides it from people! And a very smart twelve year old girl! Who has decided that life is silly and that she will kill herself! It also has a lot of philosophy! It’s very awesome!) tends to give people that “sounds horrible, what is she thinking?” look in their eyes.

So my description won’t do it justice. But the book is very funny and I identified with both the characters throughout the book, and the book club was in agreement about this. Though some in my book club weren’t the raving fan I was, many enjoyed the novel more than some of the books we’ve read. A quick glance at Goodreads reviews shows a number of one star designations, so you might not like it. But I’m not interested in intellectual pursuits, philosophy or suicidal girls and I greatly loved this book. Or at least 19/20ths of it as I was not at all thrilled by the ending.

Bicycles: Love Poems
Nikki Giovanni
I came by Nikki Giovanni via the 2011 “Everybody Reads Selection” of the Multnomah County Library. The author of the selection, Wes Moore, has a sister named after Nikki Giovanni and I figured that was good enough reason to check her out. I found a lot of these poems a bit too “early relationship happy/sappy” for me and am interested in reading other poems by this author that are not specifically about love. My favorite poem was “Christmas Laughter” (which can be found by searching the title) which warmly reminded me of my shrinking family.

Chelsea Cain
Book two of the Gretchen Lowell has much less torture, which I welcomed. It was another fun romp through Portland, Oregon with Archie Sheridan and Susan Ward.

The Arrival
Shaun Tan
Read for sporadic book club.
Beautifully illustrated and fantastical. Graphic Novels aren’t my genre, but I loved this.

The Last American Man
Elizabeth Gilbert
I think Elizabeth Gilbert’s talent shines in this book. She paints a portrait of a fascinating man who, as Matt so delicately put it, is “kind of an asshole.” Yet Gilbert supplies enough details about the man himself and his upbringing that I found myself rooting for Eustace Conway, even as I cringed at the way his complete inflexibility brought him a ton of success, but kept him from what he really wanted: a wife and family.

180 More Extraordinary Poems for Everyday
Billy Collins, ed.
Just what the title says it is, most of these meet my poetry requirement of “not too long.” However, my favorite was one of the longer poems in the book: David Kirby’s “A Cowardice of Husbands” which can be found right now by googling its title. Is it just me or does it feel wrong to be able to access the contents of the book and read it online? Shouldn’t we have to DO something to get our content?

Started and did not finish

A Separate Peace
John Knowles
Every time I took this book out in public someone noticed and made the comment, “Oh, I’ve read that book!” This book seems to have been part of high school curriculum across the nation. I however, have not read it, though I made it more than halfway through. I didn’t like the increasing sense of foreboding and I wasn’t a fan of either of the main characters, so I put this down. Interestingly, aside from the person who lent me the book, no one who had read it followed their statement of recognition with some form of “that was a great book!” so I think I’m in good company.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories
Annie Proulx
I just made time to read Brokeback Mountain which was lovely in its sadness.

Career Renegade: how to make a great living doing what you love.
Jonathan Fields
An impulse grab at the library that I dipped into. This is written by a guy who was a lawyer who liked personal training and quit his job to open a fancy gym where he made a lot of money. Then he sold that and managed to make a bunch of money from yoga. His theme seems to be “don’t think like everyone else, think big.” I wasn’t in the mood to think that big, so I gave the book back. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again when I’m feeling bigger.

The backyard homestead
Ed. Carleen Madigan
This is a good general overview. I really liked the schematics for what could be produced on varying lot sizes: standard backyard, quarter acre, half acre, full acre.

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden
Gilbert L. Wilson
I looked at the pictures. This goes back on my to-read list.

20 minutes per day.

I’ve discovered a local blogger, Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens, whose blog promotes social change through simple living. While flitting about on her blog, I found a reference to a 20 minute per day challenge which is something apparently thought up by Michael Nobbs of Sustainably Creative. The idea is to spend 20 minutes per day doing something you want to do.

I have just recently finished all the coursework for the Graduate Certificate in Middle School Math and now have more time on my hands, so this is a perfect time for the 20 minute per day challenge (hereafter referred to as 20MPDC). But what to do with my 20 minutes? I thought about it over a few weeks and came to the conclusion I want to use the 20 minutes per day to increase my income streams.

I came by that idea from Trent Hamm of the blog* The Simple Dollar. He has a free ebook titled Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on Just One Page. The book itself is actually 49 pages, but those other 48 pages just explain more in detail what he is talking about on the one page. According to his one page of Personal Finance, I’m doing pretty well, although in the “earn more” category I don’t have many income streams. These are handy for adding a little extra to your coffers. I’m not talking a second job here, just twenty bucks here and there to pad things a little.

So here are my three ideas for increasing my income streams:
1. Harvesting service. I myself am not always good at harvesting what I grow. I get busy, the things get ripe, I don’t make it out to the garden and suffer from massive pangs of guilt which make it that much harder to get into the garden. I will create flyers to advertise my harvesting service. The way it will work is as follows: If someone in my neighborhood contacts me about an item needing harvesting, I will trot over to their yard and pick it, leaving half for them and taking half for myself. They get fresh produce and can stop feeling guilty about the food going bad in their yard, I get free food. This will not bring in actual money, but will provide me food for free, allowing the budgeted food money to go elsewhere. To start this service I need only to create flyers (which I can do during my 20 minutes per day) and then distribute them in the neighborhood (which I can do on my morning walks.)

2. Knife sharpening service. I would like to have a trade of some sort. When thinking about the kinds of trades I could possibly have, knife sharpening was the one that appealed to me the most. I love having sharp knives and rarely spend the time (and money) to get them sharpened. I can advertise a free pick up and drop off service in the neighborhood, sharpen them at home, and sharpen my own knives when I am doing theirs. I get sharp knives, a skill and a bit of extra cash. After I make my flyers for the harvesting business, I will learn about how one goes about becoming a knife sharpener. Are there trade organizations? Classes? I have no idea.

3. Sell my stuff. I have stuff to get rid of. What usually happens is that I pile it in a place in the house intending to put it on Craigslist for cheap, but never get around to taking the picture, putting it on Craigslist, etc. and end up giving it to Goodwill. Why should they get two dollars for my stuff when, with a little work, I can cut out the middle man and keep the two dollars for myself? I will find a quick, streamlined way to sell my things on Craigslist and make a buck or two.

Reporting. Michael Nobbs says the reporting is the most important part. I will check in each Tuesday with a brief update of how things are going.

*I don’t feel like I read a ton of blogs, but this post is making me think otherwise.

Three sentence movie reviews: Adjustment Bureau

This was a great concept that was executed sloppily with the result being the movie dragged on and on. Not even the fact that I got to watch Matt Damon and Emily Blunt made this an enjoyable experience. Plus, who knew that while god did a good job of creating a colorful cast of multicultural operatives/angels, she didn’t bother to make any FEMALE operatives/angels?*

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2011/adjustment_bureau.html

*I mean seriously, the only room in this movie for the “second sex” was as a screen for the men in the movie to emote to. Emily Blunt’s character had NO information about what was going on and Matt Damon gives her 15 seconds of catch-up dialog and she’s happy to run off with him. Really? The whole thing frosted my liver.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Fighter

Even if one is not the biggest fan of boxing movies and tends to hide behind one’s hands while the actual boxing is happening, I would recommend this movie. Simply fabulous acting by all players combined with colorful characters, fun accents and excellent storytelling made this a movie I had to keep reminding myself to breathe during. Also, if someone wrote a novel about the lives of Micky Ward’s seven sisters, I think I would be first in line to read it.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/fighter.html

Note that the above three sentences were written with the feminist filter turned off. Here’s my problem: Near the end of the movie, Amy Adams has this big speech about how she’s trying to really do something with her life. And that’s great as all women should try to do something with there lives. My problem? The big thing she is trying to do with her life is support her boxing boyfriend. While this is a noble endeavor, I think that actually falls under the category of “supporting” and not actually “doing.” Give me ONE example of a movie where a man makes a big speech about how his main purpose is to support his girlfriend/wife and that is fine and dandy with everyone. I would love to see more examples of Hollywood storytelling where women are DOING things, not just hitching their stars to the men in their lives. Or, at the very least, movies that portray men hitching their stars to the woman in their life.

Portlander Cinema

The Oregonian’s weekend section featured three movie theaters you’ve probably not heard of. I eagerly turned to the article, thinking that I had probably been to the theaters they were discussing, because I’m such a fan of off-beat theaters. Upon reading the article, it seems I can check that attitude. I’d been to one, Cinemagic, but the second theater mentioned, PSU’s student-run theater, I have still never visited despite living within a mile from it for four years. The third I had no idea it even existed even though it is less than two miles from my house. Kelly and I decided to check it out over Spring Break. Here is our tour of The Portlander.

The Portlander is an 80 seat movie theater inside a “Travel Center” which is what truck stops seem to be calling themselves these days. If you look to the left of the Marketplace sign, you will see that indeed there is an advertised Cinema. We walked in and were in a convenience store.

We sort of stumbled about a bit before walking through the convenience store’s back entrance into a concourse that contained a fast-food restaurant, a shoe repair shop, a chiropractor, the sign for the cinema and some restrooms. We had to ask how to get into the cinema. It turned out you buy tickets at the fast food place and the nice lady buzzes you in. They show second-run movies and the cost is $3.00

Inside, it looks just like a cinema. There are posters, stadium seating, comfortable chairs. You can even bring ice cream or any other item bought at the fast food place into the show. Our movie unfortunately had some tracking issues and I would suggest that if it happens to you during your visit to immediately pop up and go find someone, because there is no one in the projection booth making sure things are running smoothly. Aside from those tracking issues, it was a great experience.

After the show, we wandered through the rest of the Travel Center. Kelly observed that with the laundromat, the urgent care center, the restaurant and all the other things listed above, that this would be an even better place to be stranded than the airport in that Tom Hanks movie.

I suggest you plan your visit to the Portlander soon.

Three sentence movie reviews: L’illusionniste

What to say about this movie I feel that you should watch? It was quiet, charming, incredibly compelling and the ending completely destroyed me. I sobbed through the credits, exiting the movie theater, walking to the car and all the way home.

poster from: http://impawards.com/intl/misc/2010/lillusionniste.html

Three sentence movie reviews: Marie Antoinette

It seems I am a fan of Sophia Coppela’s form of storytelling with mostly music and pictures and limited dialogue. Aside from enjoying the above, I found the acting in this movie outstanding and enjoyed hanging out with the queen for a bit. The costumes were fabulous, also.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2006/marie_antoinette_ver3.html

Three sentence movie reviews: Eat, Pray, Love

It strikes me this movie was made as a way to make a few more dollars off the legions of people (mostly women) who have read and loved the book as I think this would not at all be compelling if you hadn’t had the reading background first. It was fun to see who was cast as which character, but the book, sprawling and mostly internal dialogue, was greatly compressed to make this movie. Even in compressed form, it felt pretty long.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/eat_pray_love_ver2.html