February 5, 2021

Playing with Flowers

I had a hard day a while back, and my sweet husband went to the flower shop in town and talked them into selling him a big bunch of loose flowers. 

He came walking in the door with them, and said they were to help distract me and bring me joy.

He knows me well!

They did both jobs very well. 

I gave the one on bottom to a friend and kept the purples to enjoy here at home. 

It felt good to arrange flowers again!

February 2, 2021

Salvation on Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington

Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, by Dennis Covington

4 stars: Gritty and honest.

Covington originally went down to Scottsboro, Alabama, to cover the trial of snake handler Glenn Summerford, a man accused of trying to kill his wife by making her stick her hand into a cage of live rattlesnakes.

His brush with this offshoot religion fascinated him. He went to a service or two. He began getting to know the believers. As he went further down this path, he even researched his family history. He felt such a kinship with these people--something more than could be explained away as a bystander. 

What began as a journalism assignment ended up as a soul-searching journey.

* * * * *

I've had this one on my shelves for a long time. I can't even remember when I read it last. A conversation with my kids reminded me of this book, and I decided it was time to re-read it. It raised so many questions in my mind; questions about the ins and outs of this faith and the people who practice it. That's one reason I liked it. I'm still pondering on it a couple of days later.

Covington's account is compelling. I am a religious person. My expressions of faith are very different from those of the snake handlers. This book makes me wonder, though, how much we might have in common, if we were ever to sit down and have a deep conversation together. 

For older teens and adults. 

January 25, 2021

Bonds That Make Us Free, by C. Terry Warner

 I've had this one on my bookshelf for a very long time. I picked it up again last month, and read it every now and then until I finished it.

Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
, by C. Terry Warner

5 stars: The truth will set you free

Warner talks about negative emotions, and the ways in which we justify ourselves--which causes us to come up with the emotions to match the story we've made up. This book also covers collusion in a relationship, and other destructive cycles. Most importantly, it gives you tools to look at things with a fresh, truer perspective, that will change your relationships--if you let it.

Here's the power of this book: One time in particular, I was frustrated and resentful at something that my husband had said to me. I went upstairs and read this book for 10-15 minutes. In that time, my perspective shifted and I could see myself clearly, and my own part in what had just transpired--particularly my true motivations and justifications. The frustration and resentment melted away and I felt humble, contrite, and more loving towards my husband.

Your husband, your stubborn 3-year-old, your annoying coworker--none of them have the power to make you mad. None of them cause you to feel a certain way. You create those feelings, every one of them. That may be disheartening at first, but really, it's a source of great hope and freedom. If you've created those feelings, you can choose to create different ones. The way to do that is to see the people and relationships in your life through a more clear lens. Once you see the truth, and take ownership in your own part of the problems, the issues often resolve themselves.

I found it to be powerful and very helpful. This is one I feel like I should re-read once a year to get my head (and heart) back in the right place. 

Have you a great book on relationships lately? Do tell!  

January 15, 2021

Integration: 2 Blogs Become One


After some consideration, I've decided to move all the blog posts that used to be part of my Bluebird Flower Farm business webpage, over to here.  I shut down that one with the move, at the same time as I closed my business. I am still unsure of what the future holds for me, business-wise, and I didn't want to continue paying for the webpage and blog while I figured it out.

Despite that, there are some things that I still want to reference, moving forward.

For those of you who were unaware of my business, this may give you some insight into what took me away from this blog for so long! So, if you see posts popping up where no posts have been before, that's why. Take a look! You may enjoy seeing my flowers. :) I miss them, so this will be good for me too.

January 10, 2021

2021 Reading & Gardening Goals

 Hello, and welcome back! Despite a rather rough start, I have hope for this new year to be brighter than the last. 

Just last Sunday I sat down and wrote out some personal resolutions for 2021. As I was doing so, I realized that I haven't written down resolutions for 3 years--in fact, all 3 of the years that we were in Utah. I probably need to read back in my journal to see if I even mentioned a reason why I did not, but I have a whole sheaf of papers--my past year's resolutions--and the newest date on top was 2017. Wow. Past time to get back in the game! 

Reading Goals

So anyway, let's talk about reading goals for this year, shall we? I have had some floating around in my brain. Let's see if I can distill them down. 

1--Read mostly nonfiction. I want to focus this year on really learning from what I read--not that you can't learn things from fiction. I am just feeling a push to seek out biographies, true history, and other such narrative nonfiction that will enrich my life and perhaps that I can share with my kids as well. 

I am certain that I will read plenty of fiction around the edges, but this year I want the bulk to be nonfiction. 

2--Clean up my reading. For better or worse, I'm pretty good at skimming over cursing in a book--unless it gets too egregious-- and skipping sex scenes, etc. However, when I then turn around and try to recommend these books to my impressionable young tween, and he comes and says--"Mom, this book swears so much! I had to put it down." Well, that's not good. He's a great example for me. 

It's going to be a bit tough, I think. I've already had 2 books that I've wanted to read for awhile, that I either found for really cheap on Kindle or otherwise acquired, and have had to put both down for content reasons.

So, if you know of any great clean reads for me, let me know!  

Gardening Goals

If you've been around here for very long, you probably know that I had a little flower farm in Utah. I loved it! Every spare minute I was either working on the growing, harvesting, arranging, planning, business, or marketing. Perhaps that's why my personal resolutions fell by the wayside? Hmm...food for thought.

In any case, we felt like our family needed a change. After much discussion, prayer, and thought, we decided to move to the Oregon Coast. So, here we are. I had to shut down my beloved flower business and leave it behind. I know this move was the right thing for our family. I have faith that God will bring this desire for flowers and farming and floristry back around for me in some form, when His timing is right.

In the meantime, we are living in a rental home, with no outdoor growing space. I had just resigned myself to a year without growing anything. Then my husband gave me the sweetest Christmas present ever--he bought and built me a moveable garden bed to put somewhere on this property, and he found out that there are community gardens here, AND reserved 2 spaces for us! I was so touched.

The boxes in the community garden are 30'x5'. I have suddenly started thinking and dreaming about planting again. I think we're going to have one of the community garden boxes for vegetables, and let the kids plan and plant that one together. I'm going to take the other one for flowers. So excited! I haven't decided yet what will go in the one at the house. 

Without further explanations, here are the goals for this year:

1--Utilize every inch of space we have for planting! Fill up my outdoor flower pots, get all of 3 of the garden spaces filled with plants.

2--Support my kids in their vegetable growing plans. 

3--Grow a rainbow of flowers. This is the idea I have been playing around with for my flower bed at the community garden. I don't have space to start seedlings, so I'll have to either go with those that can be direct-seeded, or purchased as starts from a nursery. 

Red: zinnias, possibly pincushion flowers or snapdragons, nasturtiums

Orange: Marigolds, Geum, maybe lilies 

Yellow: sunflowers, possibly marigolds and zinnias again, black-eyed susans

Green: Bells of Ireland, parsley, basil, oregano, or other herbs

Blue: bachelor's buttons--of course, possibly sweet peas--they should do well in this cool, rainy climate, annual salvia if I can find it

Indigo/Purple: So many purple flowers that I love! Salvias, bellflower, forget-me-nots, larkspur, pansies and violas, petunias...

I may cheat a bit and throw in some pink and white, or I may save those for elsewhere. 

* * * 

It's a little strange to include flowers that don't make great cut flowers in my plans again. Strange, but good. Also, since I'm just renting the space, I won't put in any perennials that I would have to dig up later in order to keep them...probably. 

Now I need to find my seed container--haven't seen it since the move--and figure out what I've already got that I can use, and what I need to order.

If you are planning on doing any gardening this year, be sure to order your seeds early--they will probably sell out again, like last year!

December 24, 2020

Christmas Flowers

I bought myself some flowers from the grocery store--carnations and tulips.
My husband bought me a pretty Christmas arrangement from Costco the next week.
Ever since he brought it home I was kind of dying to pull it apart and redo it.
So I finally did. 
It was a good thing, too! 
They hadn't even stripped the stems, so the water was pretty gross and several of the flowers were moldy underneath.
It felt good to pull them all out and create something new with what was useable.
Flowers make me so happy! 
Merry Christmas everyone!

December 8, 2020

The Riddle of the Labyrinth, by Margalit Fox

I just re-read a book, that was on my kindle. I don't remember reading the first time at all! It was 5 years ago, which I only know because I wrote a review of it on Goodreads (below)! I'm laughing at myself here, because the big reveal at the end--which language was it on the tablets?--came as a complete and satisfying surprise the second time around, too. Hoo boy! 

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, by Maraglit Fox

3 stars

 The story of American linguist Alice Kober's work to crack the code found on ancient Cretan tablets. As it was an unknown script in an unknown language, it was the hardest type to even attempt. Kober's efforts became the stepping stones used by Michael Ventris to solve the puzzle later. She has been largely left out of the narrative, thus this book.

I enjoyed learning about cryptography, and about the Linear B script in particular. The lives of the principal characters were also very interesting.

Just the kind of narrative nonfiction I like.

This time around, I would up that rating to at least 4 stars, if not 5. It was fascinating (again--ha!) to read about how linguists can figure out what ancient scripts say. Even more so, I would say, because in our homeschooling history lessons right now we have talked a lot about the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt. We read a whole book together on the Rosetta Stone and Champollion, the French man who figured out the language of the hieroglyphics. 

With that new background fresh in mind, I was particularly interested in Fox's discussions on the different types of written languages. Some use alphabets, where one character stands for one sound. Some are syllabary (may have spelled that wrong), where one character stands for the sound of a syllable; some are iconographic, where each word is written with a different symbol or picture; and some are mixed. Looking at a ancient tablet with what has to be writing of some kind on it, though, how in the world do you figure out which it is? 

As in the case of Linear B, you may not only need to figure out which type of language you have, and what all the sounds mean, you may have to figure out which language is actually written on the tablet. That is, if it's even a known language on there. Along with that, there are so many other things that we take for granted with our known languages written in known scripts: do you read it left to right, or some other way? What are the rules of the language--grammar or otherwise?  So you start to look for clues. 

The linguists who work on these ancient languages have to have immense amounts of patience and attention to detail. Kober's work was truly incredible, and it was work! She wrote every character down on homemade file cards (paper was scarce due to the recent war), and then noted where it was in relation to other characters in every word. She had boxes and boxes of little cards by the time of her untimely death. Armed with all of that information she had gathered, she was able to draw up tables of the characters in relation to each other. Her tables are what Ventris based his work on, which finally deciphered the code.

Anyway, we had some great discussions about ancient languages, and what clues are left behind in the language itself for the linguists to track down, like following a rabbit trail in the dark woods on a snowy night. The lives of the principle characters also gave us some good fodder for discussion. 

Next, I think we may try our hand at writing messages in an ancient language. There are several books that have examples of hieroglyphics, for example, that would give us a good start.