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The Sunday before graduation was Elliot’s party. Here is a copy of the invitation with our address whited out, since I’m the one writing this blog not Abel. (Sigh. I don’t mind having these conversations about internet safety with my children; what I mind is how often I have them)

Grad announce 2

I invited everyone I could think of, and managed to forget several important people I’ve thought of since. My problem is that the people I know and love are scattered, not all gathered about around one location (for example, a home town or a home church), but here and there from our nomadic existence.

I spent the weeks ahead of time stressing. I imagined people judging me for my back yard (with some excuse, I will admit) or for the fact that you can sort of tell at a glance that although I can clean my house, I own far too many books to be a really good housekeeper.

The nice thing about moving every 2 years or so is that you never have to reorganize closets or move the fridge on a regular basis. We’ve been in this house nearly 3 years, and our housekeeping habits are starting to show. In short, we did need to move the fridge. It was disgusting back there. I mean, really nasty. (I suspect I need to clean out my cupboards too. Darn it.) I scrubbed it clean, and I also scrubbed floors and counter-tops and made dozens of Welsh cakes which didn’t turn out well at all, due to my using baking soda instead of baking powder, like an idiot.

We were finally ready. The house looked fantastic, the yard looked almost as good as the day we moved in, and we were ready. I woke up Sunday morning and showered, and was making the bed when suddenly my lower back seized up with excruciating pain. I hobbled downstairs and sat down, only to find I couldn’t stand up again.

This was a problem. I still had things to do. Two of my Iraqi friends had gone far beyond ordinary friendship and spent their Saturdays cooking up a storm–I had 80 chicken schwarmas (I cut them into 3 pieces each), and mounds of homemade falafel and dolma, not to mention about a gallon of homemade humus. I needed to cut up Arabic bread to go with the humus and heat things and stuff like that. But I could barely move. I swallowed ridiculous amounts of ibuprofen and texted my friend to pray for me, forgetting that her husband is a doctor. He came to the party and talked to me and prescribed muscle relaxants. I found that as long as I didn’t sit down, I could function. But I dropped something on the ground, and it took me 5 minutes to pick it up. Not exaggerating! (well maybe a little. But not much)

The party was a huge success none-the-less, thanks mostly to other people. Ilsa did the fruit platters and Donn and Elliot took care of putting ice in the cooler, putting pop cans in the ice, carrying the large water thing with ice and lime and mint, and all those sort of things. Friends carried large platters to the table and took care of refilling things.

The party was supposed to go 3-5, but it was 10:30 before everyone had gone. By that point, I’d taken scary amounts of ibuprofen and was still pretty miserable. I took a muscle relaxant and went to sleep. In the morning, it took me about 5 minutes (not an exaggeration) to get out of bed. I’ve never had anything like this before. Of course Donn’s parents were arriving about noon.

I had about 3 days of excruciating pain, and then we settled into a routine of 4 ibuprofen every 4 hours, which isn’t so good for the liver but made life possible. All Donn’s family were here, which meant cooking for 11 people. It really wasn’t an ideal time but we managed. I wondered a lot about the all-extended-family camping trip planned for that Friday though. How on earth was I going to handle camping?

Oh you want to hear about camping? All right. Next post.

I can’t believe no one commented on what an adorable baby Elliot was. Go ahead and scroll down, look at the previous post, ooh and aah, then come back. It’ll only take you a minute, unless your laptop is as old as mine and then you’ll have time to swear and raise your blood pressure. Don’t worry–that high blood pressure will be lowered by cute baby pictures!

So, it’s that time of the month again (giggle! That phrase takes me back to jr high). Time to discuss what I’ve been reading and what I’m about to read, and also what I read. These are exciting times.


The Honey Thief: This is really good, a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Hazara people of Afghanistan. Author and local Najaf Mazari, working with journalist Robert Hillman, wrote down some of the stories of his people, who come from a tradition of oral storytelling. The stories are a blend, a little folklore, a lot of recent history. There are even recipes, the most detailed recipes I’ve ever seen!

Elizabeth the First Wife: This one is fun, perfect for summer, witty, light-hearted, light. Elizabeth comes from a family of extreme high-achievers but is content to teach at a community college. She gets offered a chance to spend the summer in Ashland, OR, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, helping her ex-husband, now a Hollywood A-list actor, perform in Midsummer Night’s Dream. As one would expect, lots of mayhem ensues. Really enjoyed this one.

Oh Dear Silvia: After a fall from a balcony, Silvia Shute is in a coma. She’s visited by her ex-husband, her daughter, her lover, her nurse, her house-cleaner, her whacky sister. Alternating between humorous (albeit a dark humour) and depressing, the truth of Silvia’s life and character is revealed piecemeal by those who knew her best.

Loyalty: Fina Ludlow is the only girl in the Ludlow family, an exremely tight-knit family of lawyers who are willing to go as far as it takes to win a case. Fina’s not a lawyer though–she’s a private investigator, and the family hires her when her sister-in-law is missing. As Fina delves deeper and deeper and turns up more and more, she has to choose where her loyalty will ultimately lie. Fina is of the hard-boiled school of P-I. She’s hard-drinking, hard-living, hard-loving, and not afraid of a knock-down drag-out fight.

Emma’s Secret: What if your daughter was kidnapped and then your prayers were answered and you got her back, but all was not as perfect as you’d expected? Megan is thrilled to have her 5-year-old Emma back after 2 long years, but she finds her heart breaking all over again as she sees how much Emma has changed, and how Emma seems to love and miss the elderly couple who kidnapped her. A good look at how trauma endures and consequences linger, but a hopeful, redemptive novel with a lot of chocolate in it.

If You Were Here: McKenna is working as a journalist when she gets sent a video of a woman lifting to safety a young man who’d fallen onto the train tracks. She recognizes the woman as a close friend who disappeared without a trace 10 years earlier. As McKenna digs deeper and deeper into the past, she comes across more than she bargained for. McKenna will have to choose who to trust, and that choice could take her life.

A Beautiful Heist: A fun read with a bit more depth than expected. Cat Montgomery is a jewel thief and she’s good at it. She takes job after job, searching for a way to expunge the guilt she feels from her sister’s death. But she has rules and conscience: she’ll only steal what’s insured, only what the job stipulates, and only from someone who won’t be hurting as a result. Then she hears of the ultimate job (in an Indiana Jones twist)–a Faberge egg hiding the Gifts of the Magi! (Yes, those ones–gold, frankincense, myrrh).


The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia: This is sort of literary and theological criticism on the Narnia books, and by extension Lewis’ other works of fiction (the Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces, etc.) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowen Williams. It’s really good and I’m hugely enjoying it.

Her Royal Spyness (A Royal Spyness Mystery): Got offered this free on my Kindle. (Did you know I have a Kindle now? I like it more than expected but, also as expected, am frustrated that I can’t easily look back in book). It looks light and fun.

4:50 from Paddington: Also on my Kindle. This is an Agatha Christie and a fun one. Elspeth McGillicuddy sees an actual murder happening on a train running parallel to hers in the night. She dutifully reports it but no one believes her as there is no body. Jane Marple to the rescue!

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family: The subtitle says it all. Josh Hanagarne’s memoir on growing up Mormon, with Tourette’s, loving books, taking to body-building as a way to control his tics.


Sight Reading

Love and Other Subjects

The Illusion of Separateness

Apologies to My Censor: The High and Low Adventures of a Foreigner in China

There you have it! This month I also graduated a kid, hosted my husband’s entire family, went camping with a bad back, and generally had a little too much of a good time, or something like that.

First there was this:

Elliot toesucker 1

Then this:


And suddenly, this!

elliot and donn grad

It happens like this, life. Children grow, parents die, and I am for now in the middle. Elliot graduated last week, and it was a joyous occasion, in spite of the school principal going on and on and ON about how first of all it’s Cheerios and bedtime stories and then they’re teens and now it’s time to learn to let go, like he was trying to make us get sentimental and teary. I was ready to get up and slap the man, except that he was too far away. Because there were approximately a million people there, lots of proud parents and grandparents and bored siblings and extra people who like sitting through speeches about believing in yourself and going far in life and eating Cheerios blah blah blah. Seriously, graduation was very nice but there were about 500 graduating students and those bleachers were not comfortable.  We were all supposed to give just one clap for each student, and overall we did, and you could tell where each student’s family was sitting.

Afterwards it took us ages to find him. There were a lot of people there! Eventually we did, and gathered the happy grad, his friends, Donn and I, and all of Donn’s family, who’d come out for the occasion. The only people missing were the twins, who had gone to find Elliot and had instead found lots of their other friends. I had a really hard time finding them again. Short and social is a bad combination in crowds.

I have been waiting ages to post this, for Donn to remember to email me the first 2 pics, which were on his computer not mine. I need him to email me one more thing, so I’m going to post this and write about the grad party in another post. Keeping it short and sweet, that’s me (for a change…).

June 2013

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A Perfect Post – January 2007

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