Monday, March 22, 2010

Currently reading

When I visit the library, I spend most of my time in the children's section. Zari and Dio play with toys, while I sit in a rocking chair and read magazines. At the very end, we run upstairs and I have about 30 seconds to find things for myself to read. Which means that I often come out with a strange assortment of books. Here's what my last trip to the library yielded. I went upstairs searching for The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. The rest were books I pulled off the shelf as I was pushing the kids in the jogging stroller. I call it the "drive-by" technique.

Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream by Carl Elliott. This book is about enhancement technologies and the American sense of self-identity. I've read about a chapter so far and am enjoying it. Well-written, engaging, and informative.

Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church by James M. Ault, Jr. An ethnographic account of a sociologists who spends 3 years immersed in a Baptist community in Massachusetts. So far the books has been fascinating--kind of like reading about some exotic new culture, even though it's set in the USA--but it's really long and quite detailed and I find myself losing interest if I read too much at once.

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally by Robert Kourik. More a book for reference than for reading straight through. This author is a really hardcore gardener. Extensive details about how to properly dig a hole, for example. You can't just dig a hole and plant a tree. You have to dig it with the right implement, preferably not a normal shovel. You have to make sure the hole's sides are rough and broken up, rather than smooth, so that the tree's roots will penetrate past where you dug. I don't know if I'd have the time, energy, or material resources to be able to garden the way Kourik recommends...but it's fun looking at nevertheless. Did you know that a beet's roots reach down 6-8 feet deep? Did you know that a winter squash's roots extend 20 feet or more? Did you know that some people have devoted their entire lives to painstakingly excavating and charting the root systems of various plants?

Mother Wove the Morning: A one-woman play by Carol Lynn Pearson. In her quest to reconnect with the feminine divine (or Heavenly Mother), LDS author and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson wrote and then performed this play. She embodies sixteen different women throughout history--some general archetypes, some specific historical figures--who have known or (re)discovered pieces of the feminine divine. She comments about her own process of discovery:
The human family has not always viewed God as male. The earliest accounts speak of God as Mother. What happened? I could not read fast enough. Delight and rage filled me together--delight to learn that male supremacy was a male invention--and rage that no one had ever told me this before, rage that I had been allowed to grow up female in a Motherless house....

One day in early 1989, as I was walking in the hills near my home, the Mother project fell into place in a totally unexpected way: it would be a play, a one-woman play. In it I could embody the women I had met in my search, women who could help to solve the mystery of the loss of the Mother and invite her home....

I anticipate in my hopes and my dreams a time in years to come--who knows how many?--possibly fewer than we thought--in which women and men move solidly toward partnership together, acknowledging in our own way the partnership of our Father and Mother God. In that day we will speak of and sing of and speak to a Creator in whose image we all are made equally. We will look at one another with a new reverence, and "women's work" will be given a respect that is more than lip service.
The New Ecological Home: A Complete Guide to Green Building Options by Dan Chiras. Another fun one to thumb through. Last night I learned how masonry heaters work, read about how to put together a straw bale house, and learned what cob was made of. I wish I could make our own home more ecological. Just not sure what I could actually do. All of our interior and exterior walls are solid brick, so I can't rearrange anything or even add windows or doors easily. I'd love to have a really efficient woodburning stove/fireplace, but our house is built so that all the rooms are quite separate from one another, so there's very little heat flow from room to room. I do need to insulate the attics and crawlspaces and basement more.

Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food edited by Carlo Petrini. I've only had time to thumb through this one, but I already like it. You can open any page and just start reading; it's a themed collection of short essays, narratives, and reflections (and some recipes too!), most of which are just a few pages long.

Ten Stupid Things Couples Do To Mess Up Their Relationships by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I agree with the substance of her message, although her method of delivery (especially on the radio) turns me off. I'm amazed at how dysfunctional so many relationships are. You get a good look at some of the many problems in her book, when she quotes people who call in or write in to her. It makes me very thankful for my own relationship and that I grew up in a loving, stable family where we learned basic things like love, trust, commitment, and respect.

The BackYard Orchardist by Stella Otto. Haven't read this one yet. I am going to put in about 10 dwarf fruit trees and wanted a reference book for how to plant and take care of them.


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