One Feisty Blog

Background pictures courtesy of Laila

Friday, May 12, 2006

So Ashamed: Top 8 Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read

Thanks, Ryan, for giving me the idea for this week's list.

I've always been a big reader. The first book I ever read by myself (I think I was 7) was Tom Saywer. Granted, it was a Children's Condensed Classics version with a picture on every other page. But I read the unabridged version a year later, so I can still claim it, I think.

I read Pride and Predjudice when I was 10 and Gone With the Wind when I was 12. I spent the summer between 6th and 7th grade reading Shakespeare. I still remember whole sonnets without trying. One day while I was goofing around on Priscilla's charminly Elizabethan balcony, I discovered that I had accidentally memorized whole scenes from Romeo and Juliet.

I once got grounded for a year because I kept getting caught staying up till the wee small hours of the morning reading when I was supposed to be sleeping. And that was the only time I ever got grounded. Did you catch that? The only thing I ever got grounded for was reading too much, people!

I am a big, big book nerd.

So you'd think I was pretty well-read, wouldn't you? I thought that, too. Until I realized how many of the BIG books I haven't read. I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit this, but confession is good for the soul. Maybe the shame will motivate me to read some of these:

1.) To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

2.) War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

3.) Moby Dick, Herman Melville

4.) The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

5.) Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

6.) The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

7.) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

8.) A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

I know. I can't believe it either. You'd think I would have read at least half of them as required reading for all the jillion English/Lit classes I've taken. If someone had assigned them, I would have read them. But NOOOOOOOO. They were not on the list. So I ignored them.

I'm so ashamed.

Never mind.

I figured out the linking problem all by myself. I am a technogenius.

Let the mocking commence.

(But remember that people who are mean to me don't stay in my links list for long. Yeah, that's a threat. Whaddaya gonna do about it?)

It Figures

I finally take the plunge and add links to (most of) the rest of the blogs I visit, and what happens? The links don't work. Stupid BlogRoll. I should have known better than to try to do something remotely technical by myself.

Ty? You're up. FIIIIIIIX IT!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This One Time, In Rome...

Almost ten years ago, I was in Europe for Oklahoma Christian's Vienna Studies Program. In early November, the 30 of us took a group trip to Italy. We happened to be in Rome on a Sunday, so our sponsor, the illustrious Papa Baird, looked up the local Church of Christ and figured out how to get there for services. Sort of. See, Papa Baird had earned his reputation for getting lost honestly, and we ended up taking an extra bus or two, and then hiking around a huge block when we could have just crossed the street.

We were a little embarrassed to be walking in just as the preacher was walking to the pulpit--we'd clearly missed the three songs and a prayer, two songs and a prayer, and communion. But our Roman brothers and sisters (about 35-40 of them, if I estimate correctly) very helpfully paused to find seats for all of us (they had to bring in extra folding chairs and put a few of us in the aisles), and even brought the communion trays back out so we could partake. The nice lady behind me even helped me figure out that Giacomo (I think) meant James so I could follow along with the lesson by translating from Italian (using my tentative grasp of Spanish, which is surprisingly similar to Italian, as the bridge to English). It really helped to know the text he was preaching from, and I was surprised by how many key words I could figure out.

After the sermon, we were swarmed by friendly Italians who seemed genuinely thrilled to have us there. I think a few of us even went to lunch with some of them. (I was on my way to the Catacombs, so I'm glad I wasn't invited because I would have had to decline--it was our last day and I was too excited about seeing the Catacombs.) I chatted with a handful of very nice people who made it clear (much cheek-pinching and Bella, Bella's) that they thought I was too cute for trying to speak my clumsy patois of Spanish and all the Italian I knew (grazie and prego was about it at the time). We made ourselves understood--they all knew some English, and we were patient with each other. It was a fun experience.

It wasn't till we were on the bus to the Catacombs that someone, probably Papa Baird, told me the rest of the story. Evidently, one of the little Italian ladies in the back was quietly crying after we arrived, and somone from our group asked her what was wrong. It turned out that they were tears of joy. See, just a minute or so before the 30 of us walked in, they had prayed that God would fill the empty seats in their sanctuary. Just think, if we'd arrived on time, we would've just been some foreign students joining them for services. Instead, our jumbled plans made us tools that God used to show His children that prayer is powerful and effective.

I've never had the opportunity to return to that congregation, but if I'm ever in Rome again, I'll make it a priority. They may not remember me, but I'll remember them. It's a rare, humbling thing to be so obviously used for God's purposes. I wonder sometimes if that lady tells her grandchildren about the time God sent her church a miracle in the form of a motley group of American students. I know mine will hear the story every chance I get.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cognates Are Our Friends

I spent a couple of hours in the Post Office yesterday filling out forms to ship 7 big ol' care packages that my company's charitable foundation assembled for troops in Afghanistan and Kazikstan. It was kind of a pain to fill out that much paperwork, but I'm glad I was there--and not just because the people who get the packages will be really happy to receive them.

Actually, the main reason I was glad I was there is because I got to help someone by using my (limited) Spanish--it was as close to an adventure as I get anymore. This lady came into the Post Office and asked some questions in Spanish, but the postal worker couldn't understand her--I was concentrating on my forms and didn't notice the exchange, but the guy at the desk asked me as she was leaving if I happened to speak Spanish.

Now, I took two years in high school and two in college, but only really learned anything during the first year because of various teacher-related reasons. This means the last time I spoke any Spanish was in 1995, and the last time I spoke it well was during my Freshman year of High School (1990)--yes, I'm old. Most of you were still in Kindergarten back then, yes, yes, I've heard it before. Anyway, I figured I would at least try, and maybe my attempts would be better than nothing. I called her back to the main lobby with a "Tienes un pregunta?" (You have a question?) At least I think that's what it means...Lisa can straighten me out if she's reading this.

It turns out that I only had to use maybe three vocabulary words in the entire conversation--"ropa/clothes" and "caja/box" and "escriba/write". The rest of the words we used in our conversation (along with a fair amount of pointing and head shaking/nodding) were cognates (words that sound or look similar in both languages) like "necesita" or "empacar" or "permita" or "en me carro" or "papel" (forgive my spelling, like I said, it's been over a decade). I admit I had to have her write the phrase with the word empacar, because I couldn't understand what word she was using since she spoke sort of quickly and the words were running together in my ears--but as soon as she wrote it, I figured out what she meant. (She wanted to know if she could buy a box and pack it in the lobby with the clothes she had in her car to send a gift to her sister in Florida. And since I was there to help, she also asked how long it would take to send some documents to Colombia.) It wasn't all pretty, but I was really proud of myself for functioning that well on the fly, especially since the only Spanish I've spoken in over 10 years has consisted of telling a server at El Tapatio "Menos cebollas (sp?), menos lechuga, por favor" (no onions, no lettuce, please).

Thank goodness for cognates--they're the best thing about Latin-based languages, and they're mighty handy for functioning in German-speaking countries, too.

I feel so flushed with my victory over a foreign language, I might have to start playing with my Beginning French CDs or something. Before I die, I want to be able to claim (truthfully) that I speak seven languages. I fully admit it's a pride thing as much as anything--everyone thinks that people who speak seven languages are smart. I've got English down pat. I think my Spanish is in pretty good shape for the moment. I could brush up on my German if Tabitha Jane would pack me in her suitcase when she goes to The Continent. I can read my Ancient Greek Bible with a pretty decent comprehension rate. That's four. I'm learning lots of handy phrases from my Italian Phrase-of-the-Day Calendar. (Today's is particularly useful: Sono comode quelle scarpe? "Are those shoes comfortable?" (No, comode is not a congnate for "toilet" in this instance. Punks.) I've got my French lessons loaded to my computer. That's six. What should I choose for the seventh?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Oooooh! Fancy!

I dragged Ty all over the valley this weekend looking at the houses in the Parade of Homes thingy. I love architecture and interior design--have since I was a kid. And I love to go house shopping--even if I'm not in the market for a house. (It's like looking at a cookbook when you're not hungry--you may not need or want it now, but it gives you good ideas for later.) It was a fun time--I had no idea Boise/Meridian has so many nice neighborhoods. Some of the houses we toured were really-super-duper nice.

But one of them was way-exponentially-nicer-than-super-duper nice. We're talking 12,000 (yes, thousand) square feet, four kitchens, movie theater, 5 car+RV garage, infinity pool and fountain in the courtyard MANSION. It was beautifully decorated in elegant (but tasteful, not flashy) French Country/Traditional style. The materials used throughout the house were just gorgeous. There wasn't one thing in the house that I didn't like. For someone as picky as I am, that's saying something.

But I've decided I would never want a house like that, even if I won $300 million in Powerball. And it's not because of that "easier to go through the eye of a needle" thing, or because I'd rather give the money to charity or anything morally noble or altruistic or anything like that. It's because that house is just way too freakin' big. I'm too lazy to walk from the bedroom to (one of the four) kitchen(s).