Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've been tagged?

It sucks to get old. All these new-fangled things the kids come up with! Tiny phones connected by a series of tubes. Yogurt in a tube. Who knew?

Anyway, my friend in blogging, Northern Cheapskate Christina Brown has tagged me. Which I guess means I'm it. Here we go, I'll start counting while you find your hiding place.

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

6 unspectacular things about me. (testing, testing, is this thing on?)

1. I hate to see a seam of a lamp shade. Don't ask me why, but I not only turn it so it looks better, but I've been known to ask my husband to take care of it for me as well.

2. One of my dad's nicknames for me was Charlie Brown. Not sure why - it was either my shirt or my wishy-washiness.

3. I have a stuffed monkey on my bed.

4. I taught myself to play the piano with tv themes. St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, The Jeffersons....

5. I like the Gene Simmons reality show "Family Jewels". (Not so much that I know when it is on, but I'll stop when I come to it)

6. I absolutely LOVE the old video game Galaga.

My tags:
Harbor Star Reflections
The Backward Pioneer
BC's Blog
DJ the DJ's blog
Old Enough to Swear
Beaver Creek Cabins blog

Just Do It!

I'm not talking advertising mantras here, I'm talking about writing. Many of us are "aspiring writers" who may write off and on, but don't diligently sit our butts down and get words on a page. Then there are those that do what they say - like this week's guests on Realgoodwords. Local men who have always wanted to write novels, and by gum, they are doing it.

Mike Holst is a columnist with Northland Press and has published two novels "A Long Way Back" and "Nothing to Lose". Both take place in Minnesota, but are very different stories. "A Long Way Back" is the adventure story of a family whose small plane goes down in the BWCA. In "Nothing to Lose" a widow of a police officer seeks justice her own way.

Jim Proebstle is the author of "In the Absence of Honor" a story set on the Leech Lake reservation that involves corrupt tribal councils - ancient burial grounds and getting to the bottom of a murder. It's been called "a modern day wilderness conspiracy with tentacles reaching Washington D.C."

Who is your favorite Minnesota author? Do you like reading books that are set where you live?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fess Up!

What magazines do you read? Have you ever followed advice or a recipe from them? Cathy Alter changed her life reading and taking advice from magazines like Cosmopolitan, Real Simple and Oprah. Her book is "Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, And Starting Over".

Okay, I'll go first. Last night I read Entertainment Weekly and Real Simple magazine. Phew, that feels better. I may use a recipe from Real Simple for dinner tonight... we'll see. Post your favorite magazines here!

Janis Ian

Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Janis Ian talked with me this week about her autobiography, "Society's Child: My Autobiography". Her book is her life certainly, but it also gives a glimpse into the times. Janis said to me:
"If I could make it a book thats as much about the times as it is about me then I might be able to write something that's not just a self-serving piece of crap."

Her first hit, "Society's Child" at 15 created a huge stir with its interracial marriage themes. She received death threats and radio stations were hestitant to play the song. To Janis, growing up in a neighborhood with more black people than white people, it was a song about life. Same with "At Seventeen". Remember the moving lyrics?

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired.
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth.
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the
Who called to say come dance with me
and murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems
At seventeen.

What was evident to me, in reading "Society's Child" was that Janis had grown up in the world of music certainly, but more broadly in a world of artistic expression that included music, art and certainly, reading. She said to me:

"Books showed me that I wasn't a freak that there were other people like me in the world. I could basically know the world through books in a way that pre-internet you could never have known the world."

Tune in for our conversation this week. Or check the archive.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another word of the day

Someone (they shall remain nameless) said this to me today:

"She sounded rather taciturn".

I know I should know what taciturn means. I've read it, and in context, I get it. But for the life of me, in that sentence, I was flummoxed.

Main Entry: tac·i·turn
Definition: temperamentally disinclined to talk

Function: adjective:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

it's all in the details

Be obscure clearly. ~E.B. White

I talked with Park Rapids poet LouAnn Shepard Mumm this week about her new book of poetry "Breaking the Glass" published by Loonfeather Press in Bemidji. LouAnn said to me of her poetry, "I strive for what I call deceptive simplicity. On one level very simple and straightforward but ideally there are other levels a reader can go to if they choose to."

Here's her poem "Bird Sanctuary"

I don't know how
word gets out-
whether in song
or in movement
like the bees' waggle-dance,
showing the way to all the best nectar-
but somehow they know
I've learned form girlhood
to keep the feeders filled,
to open my doors
to the broken-winged
and lost.

I have no field guide
to tell by their markings
whether they are vultures,
or eagles,
or wrens,
but I take my own notes
and add more data
with each new check
on my lifetime

In our conversation LouAnn talked about the community of writers in the Park Rapids area including the Jack Pine Writer's Bloc and their publication "The Talking Stick". She also talked about some of the retreats she has gone to including St. Benedict's Retreats in Collegeville and

Arc Ecumenical Retreat in Stanchfield, Minnesota.

If you are interested in a retreat check here for retreat centers around the country. Post here if you've ever been a part of one and tell us what it was like!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Word of the day

parsimonious \par-suh-MOH-nee-uhs\, adjective: Sparing in expenditure; frugal to excess.

His mother became increasingly parsimonious over the years, and even if there were a good doctor around she did not like to pay one.-- Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life

Lehmann was famously parsimonious, and used postwar shortages as a cover for his economies.-- John Richardson, The Sorcerer's Apprentice

He was extremely parsimonious with his words, parceling them out softly in a deliberate monotone as if each were a precious gem never to be squandered.-- Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire

Parsimonious is the adjective form of parsimony, from Latin parsimonia, "thrift, parsimony," from parsus, past participle of parcere, "to spare, to be sparing, to economize." Entry and Pronunciation for parsimonious

Have you ever used parsiminous? Can you even say it? I think I've read this word before, but never actually uttered it. Is this a word for our Northern Cheapskate?
Maybe we are all getting a little parsiminous about our persimmons. Or maybe not. At least I can say I learned something today.

Infinite potential in walking out our own door

Mary Rose O'Reilly is my guest this week on Realgoodwords. Her book is recently out in paperback from Milkweed Press* of Minnesota called "The Love of Impermanent Things - A Threshold Ecology". I asked Mary Rose to help me understand the title.

She started with what Threshold Ecology meant to her:

"Threshold is a laden word; its a kind of space that we pass from one reality to another when we cross a threshold.
There is infinite potential in walking outside of our own door and seeing what extraordinary things might be there.

Ecology reminds us of the interrelatedness of the things that we find on either side of the threshold - in the plant and animal world or in our own households."

She's right you know, there are extraordinary things out there. On our way to the lake last night my husband and I saw some wild strawberry plants, right there in the path, growing among the pine needles. We were just talking about putting some strawberry plants in the garden! How did they get there? How come we saw them that day? ( psst: I'm so glad you made me look!)

*Milkweed Press, a literary nonprofit publisher in Minneapolis has this mission:

Milkweed Editions publishes with the intention of making a humane impact on society, in the belief that literature is a transformative art uniquely able to convey the essential experiences of the human heart and spirit. To that end, Milkweed publishes distinctive voices of literary merit in handsomely designed, visually dynamic books, exploring the ethical, cultural, and esthetic issues that free societies need continually to address.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Word of the Day

gustatory \GUS-tuh-tor-ee\, adjective:Of or pertaining to the sense of taste.

In a land of ice and chains and endemic suffering, caviar provided gustatory salvation from grief and black days, a sensual escape from temporal woes.-- Jeffrey Tayler, "The Caviar Thugs", The Atlantic, June 2001

feel free to drop it into your conversation.... I know I'll try.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer Vacation Reading

Do your reading tastes change by season? Are there "beach reads" for you?

Maybe you are a mystery reader? Romance?

I'm headed off on a road trip this week and here's my odd mix of books that I'm taking for reading material....(I overload JUST IN CASE there's a book emergency of some sort)

"The Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs

The unpublished manuscript of Aaron Brown's first book

"Dedication" by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

"Lake Superior's Historic North Shore - A Guided Tour" by Deborah Morse-Kahn

"Up for Renewal - What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over" by Cathy Alter

"Shining Big Water - the Story of Lake Superior" by Norman K. Risjord

What are you reading this summer? Send me some suggestions!