Saturday, March 24, 2007

book comments 1

So I've decided occasionally to write something relatively brief about whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. For my first one, my thoughts concern not a book I'm currently reading, but one which I have just finished:

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

Surprisingly enough, this was the first time I've ever read this novel (see: English degree). I'd heard of it many times--mainly through Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire"--so I'd long been curious about it. Now that I'm finished with it, I'm not sure it was a good thing that I finally satisfied my curiosity.


The Catcher in the Rye is, on the surface, about this teenager named Holden Caulfield who has just been expelled from yet another elite private school. Rather than go home and tell his parents before they receive the school's letter, Holden runs away to New York and spends a few days/nights in slummy hotels, bars, and on the streets. And everything he sees, every person he meets, and every conversation he has is, in his viewpoint, completely stupid (his main words are "phony"...and, well..."phony")--with the exception of two nuns and his kid sister. In the end, he goes home and his parents stick him in a clinic for psychoanalysis.

Congratulations. You have now read The Catcher in the Rye.

Oh, I know I should go into how he's just trying to deal with the death of his brother and find out what's really important to him and decide whether or not to throw his life completely away or find a way to swim against the stream of hypocritical society and all that jazz.....but really, I don't have the energy. Holden's attitude that every person around him, everything around him, and pretty much everything within himself is stupid...well, this attitude permeates every sentence of the novel and suffocates any hope of drawing deeper meaning from his experiences. Frankly, I wanted to give the kid a good dunking in ice-cold water and then make him sit in the corner.

Which probably would've fit right in with how he sees the world anyway.

Yes, there were some good points to the novel. Salinger kept me hooked and wanting to read more...but mainly because I was trying to figure out when the story was actually going to start. I was halfway through the book before I realized that this was it. I did mark two pages for copying quotes, and I had several moments of relating to what Holden was thinking--mainly about people who take themselves and their entertainments way too seriously--and I will admit to having laughed out loud three times at Holden's descriptions and ruminations. I appreciated his attitude toward women, which was mostly fairly decent, even though he lied to every single one of them. But he lied habitually to everyone he came into contact with, so that's no biggie.

What interested me the most was seeing the change of word-usage since the 1950s. Take the word "sexy" for instance: Today, it means physically attractive, sexually stimulating in a visual way. But whenever Salinger used it, it was in reference to feeling sexy. If Holden spoke about feeling sexy (i.e. "I was really sexy."), it meant that he was sexually excited. Also, there was the phrase, "That killed me." It didn't mean death, it didn't mean getting tired, etc. It meant, "I thought that was cool" or "That cracked me up." From a linguistic perspective, I thought those were interesting points.

I can understand why this novel was so avant-garde and controversial in the '50s and '60s...but I guess my main reaction to it was a desire to get it over with. When it destroyed my hopes for a cathartic ending on the next-to-last page...well, that was all *he* wrote, I guess. ;o)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

happy holidays

From a day in the life of Ed and me...

Today was The First Official Day of Spring. I say "was" because over here, it's almost over. But I'm tempted to say "wasn't"....because over here, it also snowed.

I shall refrain from commenting, other than to say that I'm on antibiotics for another sinus infection. So you can imagine my overwhelming joy when I got up this morning and saw the white stuff all over the outside.

To top it off, Ed got a package in the mail today: the Mac he won on E-bay. (Yes, we're gradually learning to be a Mac family.) The postman brought it early this morning. Ed was so excited he could barely contain himself.

So here's the scenario: A strange man in an unusual outfit brought a package that required opening and in which was concealed a treasure to awaken glee and rejoicing in the heart. And it was snowing.

And what do we deduce from this?

The only possible conclusion, of course: Today was Christmas.

Funny, though, that Santa was dressed in blue and yellow. Those must be his spring colors. Too bad they weren't pastels.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

a day in the life of a cat

Excerpt from Pippin’s Journal

3:30 a.m.
Displayed great excitement by leaping from top of wardrobe and landing on the floor with a giant thud when The Girl got up to use the humans’ litterbowl. I was sure it was time for breakfast, so attacked scratching post to show my appreciation. Received pat on head but no food. The Girl went back to bed.

5:00 a.m.
Resorted to good ol’ Plan B by scratching at the linen curtains hanging next to bed. Was sure this would garner well-deserved attention and breakfast. After all, they should be grateful for having a living alarm clock. Once again, I got no thanks other than a sleepily mumbled “Quit it, Pippin” from The Girl. My Boyfriend didn’t even move. Am still in high hopes that they’ll one day learn to thank me for my early morning efforts.

5:30 a.m.
After a short rest, set often-used Plan C into motion. Wedged myself between head of mattress and wall, then set to scratching mattress just below My Boyfriend’s pillow. This garnered immediate results. My Boyfriend got out of bed, went to the bedroom door, and threw a stuffed toy into the hall. As soon as it left his fingers, it magically transformed into a mouse (I must figure out how humans accomplish this!), so I chased it. Returned to bedroom door for more, but somehow the door had closed. My Boyfriend apparently was at a loss as to how to operate the door andle from inside the bedroom, as door did not immediately re-open. And here I thought their opposable thumbs helped them figure out such things.

7:00 a.m.
Hallelujah! Breakfast! Something of fish, but, as usual, not nearly as scrumptious as what My Boyfriend and The Girl get to eat. Tried to squeeze past his feet into living room, as there are still flowers on the living room table. Almost as scrumptious as human food. Got bumped on the head for my efforts. My Boyfriend rubbed the offended spot. Didn’t make up for loss of floral dining.

7:10 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Slept until The Girl got up. Could tell she didn’t feel well, so greeted her with vocalization. The Girl scratched my back, but I could tell her heart wasn’t really in it. She stumbled into bathroom, making her own vocalizations, but I have yet to believe that these are really intentional communications.

9:50 a.m. – 13:50 p.m.
Resumed my post at Office Window and observed enemy movements. Crows in trees across the street look more suspicious every day. I suspect they’re plotting a takeover. Soon, they realized I was watching, so flew away to parts as yet unknown. (Which reminds me, I must examine front door for awhile this afternoon, so as to determine method of opening it. Am sure I could observe crows better from an outside vantage point.) Morning activities concluded, I curled up on the humans’ bed and slept.

13:55 p.m.
The Girl put on her outer fur and left the apartment. I missed her exit, and so my chance for front door observation. Sat in front of wardrobe door and stared at it, reading top-secret communications written there. No news on door-opening methods. Went back to sleep.

16:00 p.m.
Greeted The Girl upon her return, received adequate head-stroking and back-scratching. Humans learn slowly, but once they catch on they can be a true joy. Leaped upon trunk at foot of bed when The Girl sat down at her desk. Realized there was a horde of mice conveniently trapped between trunk and bed. Proceeded to begin digging them out. The Girl displayed lack of training by ordering me to “stop digging.” Period of sleeping followed.

17:36 p.m.
My Boyfriend magically transformed himself into a Giant Something. Played the Stalking Game with him for a few minutes till he transformed back into his regular self and I got bored. Ran at top speed through entire house. Have shaved several seconds off my time, but hope to get it down to 15 seconds or less before spring arrives.

18:17 p.m.
Realized there was a horde of mice conveniently trapped between trunk and bed. Proceeded to begin digging them out. The Girl displayed lack of training by ordering me to “stop digging.” Period of sleeping followed.

20:24 p.m.
Emptied food bowl. Remembered mice between trunk and bed. Went into bedroom and proceeded to begin digging them out. The Girl displayed lack of training by ordering me to “stop digging.” Period of sleeping followed.

21:12 p.m.
Went for mice again, but got dirty look from The Girl. Gave up on mice for now. Plan to sleep a few hours, then begin training humans once more. *sigh* Sometimes, I really begin to think my work with them will never be done.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

something to make all our lives easier

Dear Gentle Readers,

(First of all, virtual cookies for those who recognize that reference.)

Secondly, I have something to share with you that lately has been smoothing my path through the world of blogging. This is something that Leenda showed me, so I'll give credit where it's due. ;o) Anyway, this grand, life-improving thingy is called "Bloglines".

Bloglines is a site through which you can subscribe to various kinds of blogs. "Subscribing" means that in your Bloglines account, you enter the site addresses (aka URLs) of the various blogs you read. Then, whenever you feel like checking a bunch of blogs at once, you just log on to Bloglines and see which of your friends has updated their blog.

In a nutshell, this means: You don't have to visit blog after blog after blog to see who has updated. You don't find yourself thinking, "Hey! I haven't checked Jimmy-Joe-Bob's blog in months! I wonder if he has updated?" All of the blogs you want to read are on a list in your Bloglines account. When you log in, you see immediately who has updated and who hasn't, and you can read each update right there, without visiting a bazillion blogs unless you actually want to.

And if you subscribe to your own blog, you can even see how many (and sometimes even which) people have subscribed to yours.

So, there you have it. If you want to check it out, click here: Bloglines. I'm finding it very convenient, and I'd be willing to bet that you would find it so, too. :o)

i be sma-a-a-a-a-a-rt

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator. [Courtney's Comment: Ha! Go figure! ;o) ]

Thursday, March 08, 2007

to talk or not to talk--and i usually forget the "not"

Here's something I found online last year. It's been knocking around in the drafts section of my blog for too long, so I decided to post it today. Sorry if the link doesn't work anymore.

The Talkative Woman
by Sandy Fiedler

Chatter chatter chatter.

Trivial statements lacking significance. Chatter chatter some more. I stare straight ahead at the two-lane Texas highway hemmed in on both sides by sky-scraping pines. Three hours there and three hours back from our day trip. I want to think my private thoughts. I am tired. If I stay politely subdued, maybe she'll take the hint, I thought. But it was not to be. The quieter I grew, the more she talked. Then it hit me like a blow to the head - this is exactly what I do to my husband. How many times have he and I driven along with today's roles reversed? Oh, Lord, he's been sitting there annoyed, wishing I would shut up. I wish I had shut up! The Holy Spirit convicted me. I repent, Lord, of selfishness and insensitivity with my words, and I want You to change me.

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141: 3 NIV)
Every drive, however, with my husband isn't that miserable; many times we have stimulating, profound discussions sparked by a topic introduced from somewhere, something he has just read, we have heard on the news, or discovered about life.

What are some differences between men and women in the area of talking?

Women like to talk. It is a sociological fact that American women have an emotional, mental, even physical NEED to speak several more thousand words per day than men do. Why God made us that way, I don't know. Toward the end of a perfectly good day of conversationless solitude, I will spontaneously begin talking aloud to myself and I didn't even know I was about to speak until the sound of my own voice startled me. Women, more verbal than men, use both sides of their brain for most activities and can process many subjects at once - dinner plans, the child's poison ivy, the car making a funny noise, the latest scandal in government, those suffering religious persecution in China, the success (or usually failure) of the latest diet, the pressure to perform at work, the need to reapply moisturizer to her lips, and on and on, all at once.

Men are not so. They most often use only their left brain, the logical half, approaching subjects one at a time. How novel! How boring! And have you ever noticed that men speak to each other in numbers? The hard drive has 5 million gigs. The deck posts are 4 by 4s. The airplane he used to fly was a 172 or a 182. My husband is a '49 Ford sedan, slow, steady, reliable, who will get from Point A to Point B, while I am like a hummingbird that darts so fast from flower to flower that you don't know it is there until it hums away.

What men don't like:
Too many words
A know-it-all wife or being overtly taught by a woman
Bad timing; e.g., hit with a list of problems as soon as he comes home after work
Excessive questioning, nagging, belittling, mothering
References to what another man does or thinks

What men do like:
Good timing. Of course, you often must bring up the business of living when it occurs, but sometimes you can make an appointment to discuss an important topic when you both can fully tune in.
Peace and quiet
Stimulating, intelligent discussion; a woman with mystery
Interest in and understanding of him and what concerns him
Respect, admiration, and love

How can a wife use her nature to complement and edify her husband?
First of all, generously spend some of those thousands of necessary words on other women.
If you listen to women in a office setting, what do they talk about?
Diets, recipes, relationships, husbands, kids, health, shopping, feelings. Do you ever hear men talking in the office or on the phone about the minute details of making refrigerator strawberry pie? Women in a group feed on these subjects both because of their need to talk about them and because they instinctively know that their husbands don't really want to listen to them. Because I do not have biological sisters, through the stages of my life, I have sought and been blessed with women friends. When my three children were babies, I NEEDED to talk with women about the unfolding mothering topics I was experiencing from breast-feeding to balancing housework with family's demands.

One friend and I talk about spiritual matters, current events, history, business. In fact, we jot down little notes to ourselves about topics we need to mention when we get together. Once the topics are addressed, with a sense of relief we toss the scribbled notes away like the used grocery list.

Another friend and I talk about a mutual work situation. When my 20-year-old daughter and I get together, we both spew out many happy words like sparks from a fireworks display. We have a blast.

Be willing to keep quiet. It is so hard sometimes, like an alcoholic trying to keep from grabbing that drink. I am a morning chatterer and I have to make myself get busy doing something to prevent my mouth from starting up on a long soliloquy to my husband.

1 Peter 3 1(b) reads, "if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussions but by the [godly] lives of their wives."
(Amplified) This clearly says that conduct is more effective than words in presenting Christianity to a husband.

...Read your husband like a book - his face, his body language, between the lines of his sentences. He is fascinating subject matter. Pray for an open door to a topic that you want to discuss. Like Esther (Esther 4:16), difficult issues may require that we fast, pray, and prepare a time to meet our husband-king.

These guidelines work well, you might remark, if the husband is a godly man, but what if the husband doesn't give God preeminence in his life? Even so, from past experience (years ago my life shipwrecked in divorce and God has blessed me now with a godly husband), I can counter that question with this challenge: name a place besides Esther's position of prayerful humility that can be safer and yield results more pleasing to God. Where else can God work out a woman's true liberty and fulfillment?

After the eye-opening car ride with my chatty friend, I decided that my next long drive with my husband would be special. I would be pleasant, attentive, and, above all, quiet. After about fifteen minutes of quiet, he had settled in and gathered his thoughts. He said, "You know the book I am reading about the scripture in Matthew?" And thus began a satisfying, deep discussion that melted us together even more in mind and spirit. In the right atmosphere, a man's wisdom, character, personality, and thoughts naturally drift out. The woman must help create that atmosphere. And when she speaks in turn, her words will find a welcome lodging in her husband.

"In like manner you married women, be submissive to your own husbands - subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them. So that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives,
When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband. That is, you are to feel for him all that reverence includes] - to respect, defer to, revere him; [revere means] to honor, esteem (appreciate, prize), and [in the human sense] adore him; [and adore means] to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love and enjoy [your husband]." I Peter 3:1-2 The Amplified Bible

Saturday, March 03, 2007

colors quiz

Got it from guess who? ;o)

1. Closest red thing to you: The shirt and jacket I’m wearing.
2. Last thing to make you angry: Nothing *makes* angry. But I last *chose* to be angry during a conflict with a friend.
3. Do you have a temper: Yes…one I constantly strive to control.
4. Are you a fan of romance: In my personal life? Definitely! ;o) In books or movies, only if it’s neither cheesy nor vulgar.

1. Closest orange thing to you: A Post-It note reading “Christian 12:45”.
2. Do you like to burn things: I love burning candles.
3. Dress up for Halloween: Only if I have an American party to go to.
4. Are you usually a warm-hearted person: I think so.
5. Do you have anything against redheaded people: Not at all. Some would say I are one! ;o)
6. Are you usually full of energy: Not lately. Lately, I’ve just been full of snot.

1. Closest yellow thing: The top of the TUMS bottle.
2. The happiest time[s] of your life: In intimate conversation with good friends; traveling; in times of spiritual growth…
3. Favorite holiday: The whole Christmas season here in Saxony.
4. Are you a coward: Only when I need to confront someone close to me about something important.
5. Do you burn or tan: Burn and peel, burn and peel…The sun is rarely allowed to touch my skin without sunscreen.

1. Closest green thing to you: The stapler. Ooooooh.
2. Do you care about the environment: Yes. I live in Germany. Caring about the environment is pretty much a law. ;o)
3. Are you jealous of anyone right now: Yes--in a shallow way.
4. Are you a lucky person: I don’t believe in luck. I believe in God’s providence and blessings.
5. Do you always want what you can’t have: Not always.
6. Do you like being outdoors: I love it, if it’s not wet enough to mess with my health.
7. Are you Irish: Yes, through my great-grandmother, Lillie Bell McCall.

1. Closest blue thing to you: An old “American Baseball Game” invite that Ed is using as scratch paper.
2. Are you good at calming people down: Yes…unless I’m the one they’re upset with.
3. Do you like the sea: I love the sea. I think my sinuses could use a therapeutic stay by the ocean.
4. What was the last thing that made you cry: Umm…I can’t remember.
5. Are you a logical thinker: When I want to be.
6. Can you sleep easily: Not recently. Except for the last week, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in months.

1. Last purple thing you saw: A candle next to the computer monitor.
2. Like being treated to expensive things: Yes, though that’s a rare occurrence.
3. Do you like mysterious things: Oh yeah. ;o)
4. Favorite type of chocolate: Dark with 70-75% cocoa.
5. Ever met anyone in royalty: I *am* royalty…together with all my sisters and brothers in Christ.
6. Are you creative: Yup.

1. Closest pink thing to you: A Post-It with a bunch of numbers on it.
2. Do you like sweet things: Yes. Too much!
3. Like play-fighting: With Ed, yeah.
4. Are you sensitive: Yes…too much so, I think.
5. Do you like music: I love music.

1. Closest white thing to you: A pen. I’m at a computer desk…see a trend here?
2. Would you say you’re innocent: No.
3. Good at keeping the peace: Not as good as I used to be. I’ve started losing the energy for it.
4. Do you like to play in the snow: I used to…but nowadays, it seems my health can’t handle it.
5. Are you afraid of going to the doctor or dentist: I don’t have that luxury; my doctors and I see each other way too often.

1. Closest black thing to you: The mouse.
2. Ever enjoy hurting people: Shall I be honest? I must admit…yes, sometimes, if I am angry enough. It’s a sin I’m working hard on giving up.
3. Are you sophisticated or silly: Both, depending on the situation and the people present.
4. Would you like to go to space: Yes! But I’m sure not gonna pay two hundred thousand bucks for it!
5. What is your favorite color: Deep red.
6. Does the color you wear affect your mood: No…usually, my mood affects the color I wear.

Friday, March 02, 2007

the last few days

Well, I know I threatened to flood my blog with posts this week, considering that I'm sick at home.....but I got involved in something really cool: I've long held a strong fascination for genealogy, and I'm blessed that both of my grandmothers collected oodles of information on family lines. I have some of the info in my own files, so I began entering it into an online family tree at It took several days, which is why I'm just now getting back to my blog.

It's amazing what you can find to do when you can't go anywhere or see anybody, for fear of spreading contamination. ;o)

What's cool about this is that as I enter new names with birth and death dates, the system starts searching the database to see if that individual is already in the system. For instance, I entered my own name and birth date, and the system informed me that someone had already entered me into the database! Now, because I have a free account instead of a paid one, I can't see *who* entered my name....I can only see the name itself. Same with the names of my parents and grandparents. There are a couple of spelling errors in several of our names, so I know that whoever entered our names isn't someone we're close to....but I'm figuring it's a relative, probably someone's cousin on my Grandma Weger's side of the family. But of course I'm only guessing.

Anyway...I entered all the information that I had: all the way back to William Parker (died ca. 1677) and his wife Katherine, whose maiden name my family doesn't know. Now here's the really cool part: Someone already has that entire family line in the database.

And not only that, but they say that Katherine's maiden name was Warham. And *they* can trace her back to an ancestor named John Barber...who was born in 1435!!!

How cool is that?! If this information is correct, that means I can trace my family back to 1435! That's before Shakespeare! That's before Columbus!

I talked to my mom about all this, and she reminded me that she also got involved in a few years ago (but because of the misspelled names, we concluded that she is not the mystery family member who entered all of us into the database). She laughingly said that when she was doing all of that, the scriptural warning against "meaningless genealogies" kept running through her head. ;o)

But she has a point. In reality, all this genealogy stuff *is* meaningless. It's one of my hobbies, but I would never claim that it's of lasting significance. Perhaps it's only interesting to me, personally, because I grew up on the continent where my ancestors came from, and because as a Third Culture Kid, I'm so rootless on this planet. This begs further analysis, but I don't have the mental energy for it now. Draw your own psychological conclusions about me. *grin*

Anyway...ich bin einfach sehr mitgenommen with the whole family tree thing. Sorry for the German, but I can't think of a better way to say it right now. Mama and I intend to continue the research adventure that her mother, Thaylia Boxley, started us on (my Grandma was actually quite the accomplished genealogist), and I intend to delve more deeply into this Warham-Barber-1435 connection on my Weger side. Of course, *when* I will do this, I have no idea. This part will require paying a membership fee to and researching census and parish records and so forth. Mama, at least, knows when she'll be getting into it: after she retires this summer! And when she's back in Oklahoma, she can also start looking through all of Grandma's records, which are in storage now.

As for me...I just hope I don't have to wait till retirement to continue my research. ;o)