Monday, April 13, 2009

Week Ending 4/12/09

Happy Easter (a little late). Hope yours was fun. Ours was okay. The Easter Bunny left a basket of goodies but didn't hide any eggs this year. I don't think anyone was the worse for it, but Nicholas is still asking when we're going to hide the eggs. I'm tempted to go take some plastic ones and be done with it. My only fear is that Ruger would find them first.

This past week has been a blur. I can't think of anything that really stands out. It was the normal school, scouts, church, and house-cleaning that normally goes on. The boys had an OA ceremony Monday and Wednesday. Aaron had YM Tuesday while Neil went to a Camporee meeting. We re-did taxes (again) only to have them rejected (again) and are now sending them in via mail with all the necessary documentation to prove which children we are legally supposed to claim.

Thursday I did an observation/lesson at Daniel's class for my Social Studies course. Only to find out today (when I read the real assignment, not the syllabus description) that I had pretty much done it wrong. It was close enough to fudge for the final presentation so we'll see how well I do. Quite honestly, I'm getting to the point of not caring. I haven't gotten anything lower than an A- in any class so far so as long as I pull a C in this class, I'm still good.

Aaron spent the night at a friend's house Thursday since he had no school Friday or today. Don't quite get that one. We had spring break about a month ago and now we are having spring recess. The younger boys both had school and despite their begging to stay home today (they had Easter parties on Friday so didn't want to miss that), we made them go.

Friday night was date night and Neil and I went to see "Taken" with Liam Neeson. Very good movie if you like action films without gore. Afterwards we went to dinner at LoneStar - a steak house that we enjoy eating at.

Saturday Neil had an NYLT Staff development meeting, the girls had a birthday party, and Aaron went to the movies with friends. Daniel went to play with some neighborhood kids so that left Nick and I to muddle around by ourselves in between driving kids somewhere. We didn't do anything special, but he did get McDonald's for lunch. We were going to go to the drive-in to see the Monsters vs. Aliens but it started pouring hail about 5:00 so we opted to stay in.

Sunday was church. Nothing exciting there though the sacrament talk that I got to hear was very well done. The sister talked about the atonement but made it personal. After church I had a couple of meetings. One was to go over a merit badge with a boy from another ward that meets in our building and the other was our enrichment committee meeting. I was able to sneak out of Relief Society a little early to take care of the MB one and after a quick discussion with the other sisters, was able to leave the building by 12:30.

Well, on to another week.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Jane Austen Book Club

This book by Karen Fowler is about a group of 5 women and 1 man who meet together to discuss the various Jane Austen novels. However, do not expect to learn anything more about the actual novels by reading this book. Instead, the reader learns about relationships of six people whose interest in Jane Austen is the least of their commonalities.

At the end of the novel, the author does include a brief summary of each of the novels discussed at the book club and a number of responses from friends and family of Ms. Austen regarding her various books. Personally, I felt that any author who has to convince readers of another author's greatness is better off not writing at all. The ladies in the novel disdain any who watch the movies rather than read the Austen novels and are critical of those who actually enjoy the movies or prefer them to the novels. Having both read some of Austen's novels and watched the movies, I can feel the disdain already. Nevertheless, I admit to not being an Austen fan but thoroughly enjoying the movies. I believe that Austen had some great plots but was a dry writer and I am currently using Mansfield Park to cure my insomnia.

As a side note, this novel was also made into a movie. I saw the movie before I read the book - not knowing that the movie was based on a book. The movie was better.

What was fun at the end of the novel was questions that might be asked by the various characters in the novel. Most have nothing to do with Austen but with the Fowler novel instead. And so, just for fun, I will answer one of the questions posed by each of the six book club members.

Jocelyn's question: Is it rude to give a person a book as a gift and then ask later if the person liked it? Would you ever do that?

Answer: No I do not think it is rude to do so. It shows an interest in whether or not the book was something the recipient might enjoy and can be beneficial to the giver in determining whether or not to give similar books in the future. So yes, I might indeed do that.

Allegra's question: In the Jane Austen Book Club, I take two falls and visit two hospitals. Did you stop to wonder how a woman who supports herself making jewelry affords health insurance? Do you think we will ever have universal coverage in this country?

Answer: No, I never actually wondered about Allegra's health coverage. I guess I assumed that if she could not afford it herself, she would willingly place that burden on her parents or the government. Unfortunately, I do fear we will have universal coverage in this country and that will be the demise of health care altogether. People will be backlogged for routine check ups and the wealthy will use their money to overcome the red tape or purchase private doctors while the poor will continue to get substandard care and the middle class will continue to foot the bill in the interest in equality.

Prudie's question: Il est plus hoteux de se defier de ses amis, que d'en etre trompe. Agree or disagree?

Answer: I do not speak French so disagree on the grounds that it is rude to speak a foreign language to people who do not speak that language.

Grigg's question: Jane Austen's books were intially published witout the author's name and tagged "An Interesting Book," which alerted the reader that romance was involved. If Austen were publishing today, would she be considered a romance writer?

Answer: If Austen were writing today, it would be highly unlikely that she would be published as any type of writer.

Bernadette's question: One of the reasons we don't know more about Austen is that her sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters, finding them too presonal, or feeling they reflected badly on her. How does this make you feel about Cassandra?

Answer: I feel Cassandra was not diligent enough and should have made more of an effort to destroy much more of Austen's writings than just the letters.

Sylvia's question: Do you ever wish your partner had been written by some other writer, had better dialogue and a more charming way of suffering? What writer would you choose?

Answer: Of course I wish my partner had better dialogue and would cease in the whole suffering area altogether. Of course, I could say the same thing about myself and many people I know. But then if we all had Hollywood writers for our sitcom lives, we would be rather shallow indeed. I appreciate the depth of my partner and his passion. If I had to choose another writer though, I think I would lean toward Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight series). Not that I want my partner to be a vampire, but she really gets to the soul of people and keeps you interested in what is going to happen next.

Acknowledgements: I want to thank my parents for teaching me to read and impressing in me a desire for good books. I want to thank the members of my own book club who help me see the many different meanings of a written phrase and appreciate my own opinions on the matter. I acknowledge the great minds behind google who let me write to my heart's content without having to worry about formatting the page. And thanks to all those who write, whether they are great writers or not, and take the chance on providing a great read for me and countless other readers.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Week Ending 4/5/09

It was another busy week. Monday I had my final dentist appointment where I finally got my crown put on my tooth. The tooth still feels weird, but the dentist assures me that this is normal and since there is no pain associated with it, I tend to believe her. Aaron and Derek have become rather active in the Order of the Arrow and they each took care of a troop's OA elections Monday night. Tuesday Neil had to go down to Tucson for some NYLT staffing stuff so I took care of his 11-year-old scouts that night then took Aaron over to the church for YM activity night.

Wednesday I think we actually all got to stay home so Neil and I went to get our taxes done. We thought everything had been settled with his dad's estate and we had no K-1s this year. At the very least we expected that if there were any forms, we would have received them as it was now practically the end of March. Well, nothing like being proven wrong. We got a call that night from Neil's brother stating that he had received the K-1s from the accountant that day. I don't get it really - this is a professional accountant and as such should have had all documents out by the legally stated January 31st. The positive news is that we are getting a refund and so rather than be angry or bitter, we are rejoicing that even this small glitch will not be a major catastrophe. \

Thursday we had Roundtable. I got a text from a friend who is trying to find a place to move so she no longer has to live with her mother - who is getting married shortly. Basically they had a fight so I went to go make sure she still had a place to live (along with her three sons) and ended up staying with her until it was time to go to roundtable. There I ran the commissioner's meeting and tried to get out early. It didn't work - never seems to happen when dealing with scouts.

Friday the boys had an Arrow of Light ceremony to perform so Neil took them while the little kids and I had a movie night. Saturday and Sunday was conference weekend. I however attended a CCW class on Saturday to obtain my Concealed Carry Permit. I did actually pass the class and now just have to send in the paperwork and my money to DPS. Neil took the kids to the zoo and then went with the two older boys to the church for the priesthood session of conference. Sunday we turned on conference and the kids decided to try to go swimming between sessions. It is as yet too cold. After conference, we put in a movie that had been recommended to us by a church and scouting friend called "Facing the Giants". It really is a good family movie which I highly recommend. It was produced by a Baptist church in Georgia but isn't hokey - which I find to be the case with many of the LDS artist-produced movies.

So that's my week. Hoping this one will remain calm.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis

I had the hardest time finding this book. The library didn't carry it, the used bookstores didn't have it in stock, so I finally had to go buy it full price at Borders. Having read his Chronicles of Narnia, I had no idea what kind of book I would be reading when I was directed to the Religion section of the bookstore to find this one.

The preface begins "Blake wrote the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I have written of their divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I know what he meant." I suppose I ought to go find who Blake is and see what his Marriage book is all about. It may or may not help me understand Lewis' Divorce.

The premise of the book is a man is taken away in a dream to a level of heaven. I say level because the book does direct the reader to believe that there is much more to heaven than what is observed by the man in his dream. He witnesses ghosts from what may be considered Purgatory join him on a bus ride to this realm of heaven where they are individually met by some who they knew while on earth. The spirits (as he calls those who reside in heaven already) try to convice the ghosts to stay rather than return back to Purgatory or perhaps even Hell.

I am not sure I completely agree with this view - that there can be movement between heaven and hell, but the idea that people will have the opportunity even after death to leave behind earthly desires and temptations - not the materialistic stuff, but the attitudes and emotions that bind us down resonates with me.

This paragraph from the preface struck a chord with me and hope you will find yourself enlightened by it as well. "But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell; and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself."

Tax Time

We have been a little stressed about taxes. Having sold the other house and making a profit assured us we would be paying taxes this year. How much was to be determined. Well, once again we were blessed. Even though we had made a considerable profit on the house, we had sold it for less than the market value and therefore tax-wise, we took a loss. So we are able to breathe a little bit better and are working with our bank on the house to do a loan modification. Although we have a decent savings, Neil is still unemployed so we need to be wise in how we work this out. But we do feel that because we are trying our best to do our part, the Lord will continue to bless us - though we have learned that rarely is it in the way we expect or in the timeframe we would like. Guess this is part of learning to do the Lord's will rather than try to get Him to submit to our own.