Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This, The Other Typist

Y'all. Help.

Have you read this book? This, The Other Typist? This bewildering, infuriating, utterly fascinating novel?

It's been several weeks since I first heard of Suzanne Rindell's first (and thus far, only) book. I considered buying it but decided against it; don't I have more important things to read right now? But over my birthday weekend, I relented. I bought this... this...  I don't know. This, The Other Typist.

At first, you're sort of reading it and thinking about what you'll have for dinner. And that you really should paint your nails because, gaw, they look terrible. The next thing you know, you're flipping pages like you're searching for a number in a phone book. You're scowling at anyone/thing who dare interrupts. You care about the characters, but then again not really. You sympathize with them, but then not at all. You totally know what's coming, and then... what?!! Is my copy missing pages?! It's over LIKE THAT?!

I have never been so astonished-frustrated-delighted-taken with a book's conclusion in my life.

You should know, if you haven't ventured it yet, that The Other Typist is one of those unreliable narrator reads. Like The Lace Reader, which I adored. And apparently like Gone Girl, but I haven't gone there. To me, this book is Half Broken Things meets The Lace Reader. In other words, dark and perplexing and utterly stand-alone in a room full of books. If you like that sort of read.

And word is, Keira Knightley is producing and starring in the upcoming movie. It's been "in development" since January.

So... again: help. Have you read it? And what did you think? I have a theory, but I'll save it for the comments.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Tater Tower

Awhile back, I read an article on Apartment Therapy titled How To Grow 100 Pounds of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet. Surrre, I snorted. As if.

Then I went out and got materials to build two of them. (Duh.)

First off, my days of planting long, gorgeous, scenic rows of potatoes are... on hold. I live in a cozy little house on an old street with a small, chain link-fenced back yard. The yard had a few existing beds, but this spring we added two more so that now the entire yard is bordered by deep beds. Our landlord isn't crazy about the idea of raised beds. We made do.

Enter the TATER TOWER, as I've come to call them.

It's a simple premise: you cut and screw wood together to make a square frame. Add one level, your potatoes, some soil/compost/whatever, and wait. When the potatoes emerge and grow above that layer, add another level of boards, some soil, eventually more potatoes... and repeat.

As you can see, our tower is on its third level and definitely needs another level, stat.

I was too slow to the feed store this year to buy seed potatoes. Down here in our extremely rural, economically depressed area, lots of people are growing their own food now. Feed and supply stores aren't keeping up with demand. So instead of missing out, I thickly peeled potatoes that were sprouting, leaving about a half-inch of potato attached to the skin. I let them hang out over night and then planted.

Hello, 100 pounds of potatoes. (I hope.)

Did you know you could do that? Plant thick potato peelings and get your own taters back? Cool, right? So cool.

But our grown-from-peels taters aren't alone. Our cabbage is already yummy:

 That was actually three weeks ago and it's nearly ready to harvest now. 

And check out my peas! I noticed the first pods yesterday and garden geeked out over them:

Ah yes. It just isn't spring until you see a little green. Don't throw out those sprouting potato peels this year!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Moment: Those Beneath Their Loads

 The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
-Psalm 145:14

I wasn't one of the many today who waited for sunrise so I could see what was left of my house. Or town. Yesterday's storms boomed, flashed and wailed but ultimately raged over me, headed north to inflict damage and carve a path through someone else's life. The weight of my relief is offset by the weight of my horror at what others are facing this morning.

Sunrise today caused me to reflect on these past few years that have been so... deep... and deeply overwhelming... in my life. Realization has set in that all those circumstances were allowed so I would answer one question- so I would plumb the very depths of me and resolve this: Is God good?

It was necessary for me to answer that... to spend a few years with that question... before I was allowed to move on with my life. Something unseen, some things yet to happen, necessitated a response one way or the other. Come on, Brin: is God good? Do you really believe that God is here and He is good? In the midst of devastation and shaking and hunger and war and loss, will you be able to climb above it all and lift your hands and shout with conviction into the roaring chaos: 'Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, His unfailing love for us will never be shaken, and His covenant of peace will never be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on us'?

Time. It took time. But here I am, today, settled in my soul: God is good. Better than we know. And if He promises to help the fallen and lift up those bent beneath their loads, He will. He just will. Why? Because He is good and because He keeps His promises.

So to those who will never be the same after today, I'm climbing to the highest place I know and lifting my hands and shouting into your roaring chaos and heartbreak and loss: Although everything has shaken and so much has been removed, God's unfailing love for you is as steady as ever, and His peace and compassion for you will never be shaken.

While it might not seem so today, God is good. And He will help the fallen and lift you up when you're bent beneath your loads. He promised, and He will be faithful to do it.

You have our hearts and prayers today.  -Brin

Monday Moment is a little humble little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Super Food for a Super Supper

Omgoodness. What is it with so many of us coming down with cancer these days? Not cool. Not cool at all. Something must be done.

Enter Lacinto kale, otherwise known as one of the top "super foods", cancer fighters, and The Green Thing That Makes An Appearance Once A Day Now On Our Table. This stuff is delicious, quick to cook, and practically grows itself. Really. 

Wednesday evening, in lieu of... anything else, I harvested, blanched, and froze a bumper crop of kale. Took us a few hours, but with his superb chopping skills and my so-so washing-and-dunking-in-boiling-water-and-freezing skills, we were done. It was so worth it. Yesterday after a long day of work, I browned Italian turkey sausage, onions, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes in a big soup pot, and then added a few crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and herbs. I simmered that for 20 minutes and dumped in a few handfuls of our kale and some white beans... and woohoo! Supper!

While we're scanning real estate sites and hoping to buy a small country place soon, for now we're living in the city, about three blocks from the local college. Our little fenced yard already had deep existing flower beds, but we've added two more and are planting them full of food. And a few flowers and herbs. But mostly food. And honestly, they're quite pretty.

If you have the means, hop on over to Seed Savers and snag some seeds so you can be ready to plant in a few months. Or look for it in the store or farmer's market or CSA or wherever you find produce. I promise you'll be glad you did.

It's time we show this cancer nonsense who's boss, eh?

Happy weekend!  -Brin

Update: Oh! If you're looking for a good tutorial on how to deal with all your super kale, go here. This is how I learned to do it and the clearest I've seen it explained. Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How A Rose Became Evidence

When you see a building, you're seeing the mind of the architect built to form.
When you see a painting, you're glimpsing the artist's emotions rendered and displayed.
When you skim a page, you're reading the writer's thoughts printed out.
And when you pick a rose, you're beholding the Creator's beauty brought to life.

The Bible says creation is evidence of a Creator. Evidence. Proof. In fact, it says that God's divine attributes are on display from what's been made. And it makes sense. I mean, we eat something yummy at work and ask, Who made this?. We hear a good song and wonder, Who sings this?. We come in to a huge mess and we yell, WHO DID THIS?!. (Right?) So why can't we look at a rose and ask the same question we ask about everything else: Who is responsible for this?.

I've asked, and I'm confident in where I've landed. You are, Creator God. I'm pretty sure You are. And You did a breathtaking job.

Nice work on the roses. They seem especially beautiful this year. I love them. If I could, I would tuck one into your lapel and You could wear it all day and know I'm thinking of You.  -Brin

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Millie, The Heart Catcher

What is it about dogs that completely catch our hearts and hold us captive? 
For the many who have asked, I want you to know that the Much Beloved Millie is doing well. She's still rounding up and catching hearts, giving a new meaning to the term dog catcher. The old girl is six now. Six in March. Ever the fan of riding in the back and trotting after tennis balls and trying to sneak things off kitchen counters.

She has me trained to give her string cheese on command. A week or two ago, I bought one of those jumbo packages of string cheese and shoved it towards the back of the fridge. Ha. They found it in no time. 

Me: [Looking intently in fridge]  Hey! Where in the world is all that string cheese we just bought?

Him: ... Well... it wasn't that much. But... uh... ask Millie. [Points toward the corner of the kitchen where she's sitting.]

[Millie wags her tail.]

She seems to be adjusting to all the changes fairly well. I say "all the changes" because back in February, we adopted Maggie, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier mix that was rescued off the street. She came to us severely malnourished, dehydrated and dangling a broken leg. We loved her instantly, even if Millie took a week or two to adjust.

So Millie and Maggie. Quite the pair. I'll round up the now-rambunctious Mags soon and introduce you. You'll adore her.

But first, Millie. I appreciate y'all asking about her. She sends her love but says she will keep your heart, thank you very much.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Life Begins Again

Flowers grow out of dark moments.
-Corita Kent   

 Every spring as I plant my seeds, I hesitate. Is it too cold? Too wet? Will there be enough sun and enough warmth to coax these dead-looking pieces to life? And somehow, always, the hard seeds respond, and life begins again.

Life begins again.

I spent my 35th birthday at a painting class, swirling watercolors around thick paper and trying to make it look like a sunflower. But not just any sunflower. I wanted the sunflower to look like me- a little bent, a little weepy- but still glowing and open and alive. A broken hallelujah kind of a flower. After the class was over, I drove home in the pouring rain and thought about my own broken hallelujah kind of life. What's done is done. I cannot change a single decision or dime or day. Parts of my heart bolted and went to seed- Freeman House, the bakery, traveling, some relationships, some dreams- but as they died they left me with seeds. Seeds to plant. Seeds to prove that life begins again.

And so it has. I went to the store and bought my own small set of watercolor paints and brushes. Why? Because we live in a world created by the Second Chance God, where death begets life and endings are just beginnings and broken hallelujahs are sometimes more beautiful than the perfect ones.

Life begins again. Let this be my painting to the world.  

Hello again. -Brin