Thursday, January 24, 2008

Signs of spring

We did not get any snow last weekend, apparently because it is spring already. My rose bush also has new growth. At least the grass isn't growing yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Saints by Orson Scott Card

Saints tells the story of a fictional early Mormon convert. Dinah is portrayed as a woman of extraordinarily strong character who becomes a prominent figure in the Mormon church.

The book was engaging, but it ultimately came off as an attempt to justify polygamy.

The author was adept at setting a scene and bringing his characters to life, but he often ended up talking down to the reader by spelling out the obvious instead of just letting the action show it. I also found the comical subtitles for each book out of touch with the overall tone. For example: "Book Two: In which Providence acts to provide a grown man's trade for Robert, an education for Charlie, and a husband for Dinah. As usual, Providence gets mixed reviews."

I enjoyed it enough to look for more by Card, but I'll probably try to avoid anything of his with a Mormon theme.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Scottish Oat Scones

3/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs bran

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix melted butter, milk, and egg. Add to dry mixture and stir until combined. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a round on a baking stone. Score each round into eighths. Bake 12-15 minutes at 375.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Michael and I play a lot of games together when he's at home. We have quite a collection of card and board games, from pinochle to Axis and Allies to more obscure favorites like The Farming Game.

Thanks to Melissa Wiley, we discovered Scrabulous and have been playing Scrabble via email for a month or two. Not only can we enjoy playing together, but I can take as long as I want for my turn without him getting impatient (sometimes a problem in real life). We won't be turning in our game board and wooden tiles anytime soon as Hasbro fears, but this has been a wonderful way to connect during his deployment.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe it will snow here after all.

We enjoyed the snow that we saw in Washington all the more because we didn't expect to see any here. But the forecast for Saturday evening says there is a possibility of snow! I'll be looking out the window all day tomorrow in eager anticipation.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We have a return window!

I'm not going to tell you when it is.

Michael tells me we are more than 2/3rds of the way done! He does the countdown on the calendar and analyzes the dates. I prefer to think of things the way I present them to Hannah: First such and such holiday, then that important date, after a certain milestone...

Our trip home really helped the time to go by. We got back from Washington and all of a sudden we have less than 3 months left.

Puppy update: Michael says they are going to try to get her home, but not to our house. If she gets over here one of his guys will keep her.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Please don't complain about my use of punctuation just because I read this book! I often spot mistakes in print, but I'm sure I miss my own often enough.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a hilarious treatment of punctuation and its misuse.

One area that I've often hesitated over in my own writing is where to place the terminal punctuation for a sentence that ends in quotation marks. I'm now considering adopting the British usage, which allows one to put the period (or "full stop," as the British refer to it) outside the quotation marks in certain situations. American usage dictates that terminal punctuation always goes inside of quotation marks. Truss's example is:

Sophia asked Lord Fellamar if he was "out of his senses". (British)
Sophia asked Lord Fellamar if he was "out of his senses." (American)

Another British vs. American usage issue is referred to as "the Oxford comma." (I never knew it had a name!) This is the comma that immediately precedes the "and" in a list of several items. I was taught that this comma was optional, but my preference is generally to use it, which Truss says is standard in America. I'm not sure how accurate that is, though, as it seems I see it left out more often than not.

The section on extraneous quotation marks brings to mind The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which is always good for a laugh.

If you've ever read Strunk and White's The Elements of Style for fun, then you are certainly one of Truss's grammatical sticklers and will love her book. If you only found The Elements of Style tolerable, you'll still love Eats, Shoots & Leaves. If you couldn't stand The Elements of Style, there is still a good chance you'll enjoy Truss's book because of gems like this:

In the meantime, what can be done by those of us sickened by the state of apostrophe abuse? First, we must refute the label 'dinosaurs' (I really hate that). And second, we must take up arms. Here are the weapons required in the apostrophe war (stop when you start to feel uncomfortable):
correction fluid
big pens
stickers cut in a variety of sizes, both plain (for sticking over unwanted apostrophes) and coloured (for inserting where apostrophes are needed)
tin of paint with big brush
guerrilla-style clothing
strong medication for personality disorder

But then, if you aren't offended by the misuse of apostrophes, the book probably won't have much appeal.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


"A national leader may accumulate a spectacular chain of temporary chain of temporary results, but unless his character has been forged in the fires of integrity and his actions in the crucible of hard-edged reason, history will refuse to stamp him with the seal of greatness."
-James A. Michener, The Eagle and the Raven

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Nora and Grandpa Larry

I admit there is a resemblance. What do you think?