Thor and Loki: Children of Odin

Before they were cartoons, before they were part of the Marvel Universe they were part of Norse Mythology for centuries. Thor and Loki: Children of Odin is a lyrical introduction to the myths and epic legends of the ancient Scandinavians. Fusing the different mythic accounts of his medieval sources, Irish-American poet Padraic Colum fashions a powerful tale of the divine adventures of gods and humans, locked in an inexorable march of fate. Written in a style accessible to both children and adults, Colum’s work offers a haunting and evocative portrait of the mythic world of the Viking Age.Before time as we know it began, gods and goddesses lived in the city of Asgard. Odin crossed the Rainbow Bridge to walk among men in Midgard. Thor defended Asgard with his mighty hammer. Mischievous Loki was constantly getting into trouble with the other gods, and dragons and giants walked free. This collection of Norse sagas retold by author Padraic Colum gives us a sense of that magical time when the world was filled with powers and wonders we can hardly imagine.

Padraic Colum (8 December 1881 – 11 January 1972) was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer, playwright, children’s author and collector of folklore. He was one of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival.

This collection of Norse Myths includes: Part I. The Dwellers in Asgard 1. Far Away and Long Ago 2. The Building of the Wall 3. Iduna and Her Apples: How Loki Put the Gods in Danger 4. Sif’s Golden Hair: How Loki Wrought Mischief in Asgard 5. How Brock Brought Judgment on Loki6. How Freya Gained Her Necklace and How Her Loved One was Lost to Her 7. How Frey Won Gerda, the Giant Maiden, and How He Lost His Magic Sword 8. Heimdall and Little Hnossa: How All Things Came to Be 9. The All-Father’s Forebodings: How He Leaves AsgardPart II. Odin the Wanderer 1. Odin Goes to Mimir’s Well: His Sacrifice for Wisdom 2. Odin Faces an Evil Man 3. Odin Wins for Men the Magic Mead 4. Odin Tells to Vidar, His Silent Son, the Secret of His Doings 5. Thor and Loki in the Giants’ City 6. How Thor and Loki Befooled Thrym the Giant 7. Aegir’s Feast: How Thor Triumphed 8. The Dwarfs Hoard, and the Curse that it Brought Part III: The Witch’s Heart 1. Foreboding in Asgard 2. Loki the Betrayer3. Loki Against the Aesir 4. The Valkyrie 5. The Children of Loki 6. Baldur’s Doom 7. Loki’s Punishment Part IV. The Sword of the Volsungs and the Twilight of the Gods 1. Sigurd’s Youth 2. The Sword Gram and the Dragon Fafnir 3. The Dragon’s Blood 3. The Story of Sigmund and Signy 4. The Story of Sigmund and Sinfiotli 5. The Story of the Vengeance of the Volsungs and of the Death of Sinfiotli 6. Brynhild in the House of Flame 7. Sigurd at the House of the Nibelungs 8. How Brynhild was Won for Gunnar 9. The Death of Sigurd 10. The Twilight of the Gods

Check out this phenomenal book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G4JQ7L

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Satirizing small town life, Main Street is perhaps Sinclair Lewis’s most famous book, and led in part to his eventual 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature.You’ll meet Carol Milford, the daughter of a judge, grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and became an orphan in her teens. In college, she reads a book on village improvement in a sociology class and begins to dream of redesigning villages and towns. After college, she attends a library school in Chicago and is exposed to many radical ideas and lifestyles. She becomes a librarian in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state capital, but finds the work unrewarding. She marries Will Kennicott, a doctor, who is a small-town boy at heart.When they marry, Will convinces her to live in his home-town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, a town modeled on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the author’s birthplace. Carol immediately sets about her plans to remake Gopher Prairie, but she is filled with disdain for the town’s physical ugliness and smug conservatism.She speaks with its members about progressive changes, joins women’s clubs, distributes literature, and holds a party to liven up Gopher Prairie’s inhabitants. Despite her efforts, she is ineffective and constantly derided by the leading cliques.Main Street initially was awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, but was rejected by the Board of Trustees, who overturned the jury’s decision. The prize instead went to Edith Wharton for The Age of Innocence. In 1926, Lewis refused the Pulitzer when he was awarded it for Arrowsmith.In 1930, Lewis was the first American ever awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. While a Nobel Prize is awarded to the author, not the work, and itself does not cite a particular work for which he was chosen, Main Street was Lewis’ best-known work and enormously popular at the time. In the Nobel committee’s presentation speech, both Main Street and Arrowsmith were cited. The prize was awarded “… for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.”In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Main Street #68 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States (and the first from the Americas) to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, “[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade … it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.” He has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a postage stamp in the Great Americans series.In 1930 Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first writer from the United States to receive the award, after he had been nominated by Henrik Schück, member of the Swedish Academy.

Check out Main Street on Amazon!

The Man in the Brown Suit

I just finished reading this wonderful Agatha Christie book: The Man in the Brown Suit. Adventure-seeking Anne Beddingfeld is in London when she sees a stranger fall to his electrifying death in the Tube. A dreadful accident? If so, who is the man in the brown suit fleeing from the scene? Curiosity, and one cryptic clue, leads Anne aboard a cruise ship to Cape Town and into the confidence of Colonel Race, counterintelligence officer for MI5. Drawn into a dangerous conspiracy, Anne’s found the adventure she wanted. And as she’s chased across continents, all she must do now is survive it.

Agatha Christie (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer of crime and romantic novels. She is best remembered for her detective stories including the two diverse characters of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. She is considered to be the best selling writer of all time. Only the Bible is known to have outstripped her collected sales of roughly four billion worldwide copies. Her works have been translated into more languages than any other individual writer.Agatha Christie was first published in 1920. Her first book was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, (1920) which featured the detective – Hercule Poirot, who at the time was portrayed as a Belgian refugee from the Great War. Poirot is one of the most recognised fictional characters in English with his mixture of personal pride, broken English and immaculate appearance and moustache. The book sold reasonably well and helped meet the public’s great appetite for detective novels. It was a genre that had been popularised through Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories at the turn of the century. In 1926, she made her big breakthrough with the publication of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” This became a best-seller and made Christie famous as a writer.The plot of Agatha Christies novels could be described as formulaic. Murders were committed by ingenious methods – often involving poison, which Agatha Christie had great knowledge of. After interrogating all the main suspects, the detective would bring all the participants into some drawing-room before explaining who was the murderer. Her writing was quite clear and it is easy to get absorbed in the flow of the story. It also gave readers the chance to try and work out who the murderer was before it was revealed at the end.Agatha Christie enjoyed writing. For her there was great satisfaction in creating plots and stories. She also wrote six novels in the genre of romance and suspense under a pseudonym – Mary Westmacott.During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy of the University College London, which gave her ideas for some of her murder methods. After the war, her books continued to grow in international popularity. In 1952, her play The Mousetrap was debuted at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London and has been performed without a break ever since. Her success led to her being honoured in the New Year’s honour list. In 1971 she was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire.Agatha Christie loved embroidery, travelling and gardening – she won various horticultural prizes. She expressed a dislike of alcohol, smoking and the gramophone. She preferred to avoid the limelight and rarely gave public interviews. To some extent she hankered after the more idyllic days of Edwardian England she experienced in her childhood and was dubious about aspects of modern life.“The quality of agreeableness is not much stressed nowadays. People tend to ask if a man is clever, industrious, if he contributes to the well-being of the community, if he ‘counts’ in the scheme of things.” -A. Christie, Part I of Autobiography

You can get this book for only $0.99 on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Brown-Suit-Large-Print-ebook/dp/B086BZS7BZ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+man+in+the+brown+suit+agatha+christie+large+print&qid=1585267843&s=books&sr=1-1

Mother Mason

One of my favorite books was “Song of Years” by Bess Streeter Aldrich. My mom had loved it when she was growing up and told me about it. Our library in our hometown had a copy and according to the library card my mom and I were the only ones who ever checked it out. That was a shame because it is such a well-written, lovely book.

Are you familiar with Bess Streeter Aldrich? Here is some information about this wonderful author: Bess Genevra Streeter was an American fiction writer born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Attending high-school in the town of her birth, she was the winner of two magazine fiction writing contests prior to graduating at the age of seventeen. She was the last of the eight children of James Wareham and Mary Wilson Anderson Streeter] After graduating from Iowa State Normal School with a teaching certificate, she taught school at several locations in Utah, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education.In 1907, she married Charles Sweetzer Aldrich, who had graduated with a law degree from Iowa State University and had been one of the youngest captains in the Spanish–American War. Following the war, he served for years as a U.S. Commissioner in Alaska. They had four children—Mary, Robert, Charles and James. In 1909, they moved with their children and Bess’s widowed mother to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Charles, Bess, and Bess’s sister and brother-in-law Clara and John Cobb purchased the American Exchange Bank. Elmwood became the location for many of her stories, albeit called by different names. Aldrich began writing more regularly in 1911 when the Ladies’ Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won $175 for her story entitled “The Little House Next Door”. After this success she continued to write and submit work to publications such as McCall’s, Harper’s Weekly, and The American Magazine where she was generally paid between one and one-hundred dollars for her work. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens. She went on to become one of the highest-paid women writers of the period. Her stories often concerned the Heartland/Plains pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women.Aldrich’s first novel, Mother Mason, was published in 1924. When Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of 52 Aldrich took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She was the author of about 200 short stories, including “The Woman Who Was Forgotten”, and thirteen novels, including Miss Bishop. The latter novel was made into a movie Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941), which starred Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.Aldrich received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and was named into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1946 Aldrich moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to her daughter and her writing slowed to just one story per year as age began to take its toll. She died of cancer on August 3, 1954 and was buried next to her husband in Elmwood, Nebraska.Aldrich’s papers are held at the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska. Books by Bess Streeter Aldrich are among the many fine books written by Nebraskan authors. (source: wikipedia)

So, I decided to spend some time during this social-distancing period reading some of her other books. I started with her first book, Mother Mason, published in 1924. Such a good book! Molly Mason is fifty-two and the loving wife of the bank president, mother of four fun-loving Masons, and she is active in helping with the library board, missionary society, and the women’s clubs. She is involved in nearly everything that happens in her midwestern town. In fact, Mother Mason never has any time to do just as she likes. Finally, she makes a break for freedom! Aldrich published stories about the Masons in a magazine during World War I. Americans demanded more, and in 1924 the same family became the subject of Mother Mason. Aldrich is known for writing strong female characters and this story is no different.

I highly recommend you check it out! Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0851LL36N

A Work in Progress

The last days have been a blur with all the news coverage and social media chatter about Covid-19. Life has turned upside down with schools, malls, restaurants, and businesses of all kinds closing or learning how to operate differently. On recommendation of the CDC and our bishop, our church has suspended in-person gatherings for the time being and so have most churches – so there are countless pastors and church staff out there right now who are learning how to do live-streamed services and zoom meetings and EVERYONE is posting EVERYTHING on social media at all times. It’s a good thing and will benefit all our churches a lot in the long run to become more savvy at things like this, but my brain is overstimulated because it feels like my sabbatical is effectively over. I can’t complain – I had nearly ten uninterrupted weeks of rest, reading, cups of coffee, and time with family – but I was really looking forward to just a little bit more.

But, to my dismay, the world doesn’t revolve around me. My plan to complete the list of fifty things before my fiftieth birthday suddenly feels trivial and silly. It was so important to me a week ago, but now my head is in an entirely different place.

That’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes one can have a really great plan but life gets in the way.

The list, like all of us, is just a work in progress.

#28 – Eat Ten Different Kinds of Ice Cream

#28 – Eat Ten Different Kinds of Ice Cream

I know, ambitious, right?

After all the years I spent declining dessert while on some diet or another, I have some make-up work to do when it comes to consuming sweets. From around 1985-2010, if you asked me if I would like some ice cream, I probably said, “no.” I opted for the yogurt, or the fresh fruit, or a diet coke, or nothing at all. Either that, or I ate ice cream while alone, usually while on a food binge after some extensive period of dieting. It was tragic.

Because that’s how dieting works – you find some rules to follow that are guaranteed to slim you down, and you follow those rules for a period of time, and then one day you get so weary of following the rules that you eat everything in sight.

I was an excellent dieter. I was very, very good at following the rules of whatever diet I was on at the time. Over the course of twenty-five years I lost small amounts of weight and I lost large amounts of weight. Every time, I gained the weight back.

It always came to a point where the rules made my world seem so very small. Dieting made it so that eventually all I seemed to think or talk about was how much weight I had lost or what clothes I was going to buy when I hit that next milestone of weight loss. I would bask in the success and compliments and then cower under shame every time I needed to go off the carefully prescribed dieting course and eat.

One of the best things I have done is stop dieting. I stopped telling myself certain foods were “good” and others were “bad.” I stopped deciding I was beautiful only if I could fit into my smaller-size clothing. I stopped making anything off-limits. I started saying “yes” to the damn ice cream.

So, it wasn’t hard to try ten different kinds of ice cream. I’ll probably try at least ten more before my fiftieth birthday. But in the spirit of my Fifty Things I Want to do Before my Fiftieth Birthday task, here are the ten I have had in the last few weeks:

  1. Cookies and Cream
  2. Bunny Tracks
  3. Caramel Cashew
  4. Peanut Butter Core
  5. Scotcheroo
  6. Monster Cookie
  7. Goldmine
  8. Tonight Dough
  9. White Chocolate Raspberry
  10. Juneberry

For the Next Fifty: Eat ice cream like it is my job.

# 20 – Try a Cortado

I’ve always been a black coffee kind of person. It’s what I have first thing in the morning, it’s what I drink if I go out with friends. I never needed or even really thought about having other drinks with all sorts of added milk and sugar and flavor.

But why NOT try all the other drinks that are on the menu? Or even ones that aren’t on the menu?

A friend mentioned on a Facebook post how the Cortado was his favorite coffee drink. I hadn’t even heard of this drink before much less tried one – so as I was making my list of things I want to do before I turn 50, I added it to the list.

Except I remembered the name wrong and wrote down, “Cordero.” So you can understand the puzzled look on my barista’s face when I asked if she could make one. Bless her heart, she even looked up the recipe online and said it was some kind of lamb dish. I apologized and said I must have the name wrong and ordered some black coffee instead.

Then I did some more research and got the name right and went back to her. I drank it on a Sunday morning after attending a church service at the United Methodist Church. If you want to know more about how to make one, you can find information here: https://www.northstarroast.com/cortado-coffee/

It’s good. It’s not as bitter as my usual black coffee. I’m glad I know what it is and now I order it frequently.

So many things about life get on autopilot, don’t they? I simply got used to drinking black coffee every day – it was warm, it didn’t have calories, it was inexpensive, my friends drank it – there were lots of reasons why it became the default drink in my life. But I might have gone my whole life without trying a cortado. That could have easily happened. Would my life have been less because of it? Maybe not – but nevertheless, I’m glad that it is now part of my repertoire of beverages I consume.

And it makes me think about how so much of what we do every day happens just because that’s how we always do things. Most days I get up and within the first hour or two, I hop on my treadmill – walking or jogging. I love my treadmill. I first got one 13 years ago when our first child was born and I knew my chances of getting a workout in would increase if I didn’t have to try to make it to the gym. For me, my treadmill has never collected dust or been a place to pile stuff as it becomes for some people. I use it every day. Every. Day. Anyway, my dear treadmill recently broke and now I feel entirely out of sorts without my faithful treadmill friend as part of my day.

But I know that I don’t have to have a treadmill in order to exercise. I mean, I will miss it until it is fixed, but in the meantime I get to try some other things. Today I dug out some old workout videos and tomorrow I can go for a hike. I’ve been meaning to take a yoga class for about the last 15 years, so maybe I can do that soon. The options are endless.

And we forget that. No matter how much I like black coffee, not every day has to be a black coffee day – it could be a macchiato or a flat white day or even green tea! No matter how much I love my treadmill, my body can enjoy all sorts of activity. Some of these new things might open up brand new doors into my new favorite stuff and some of it might just make me miss black coffee and treadmills all the more. Either way, I’ve learned something.

So, yeah – try the Cortado. I recommend it.

For the Next Fifty: Keep trying new things. Every day if you can – a new recipe, a fresh perspective, a different route to work, ask unusual questions. There’s only so much time on this beautiful blue planet – find out as much as you can about it while you can.

#3 Learn to make savory pies

#3 – Learn to make savory pies – when we were in New Zealand, every morning we enjoyed going to the bakery and trying different baked goods. It was fun to see not just donuts and muffins but other cakes and pies. We liked the lamingtons – which were square chocolate cakes covered with coconut; but we adored the savory pies. Oftentimes they were meat pies – pastry shells filled with meats and spices, or there were vegetarian ones with cheese and vegetables, and also egg/ham varieties. In Rotorua, there was a shop just down the street that only sold varieties of pies and it was busy all day.

So, we decided that we needed to have more of these pies in our lives even after we returned from New Zealand. In the past I have made quiches, but I wanted to broaden my horizons.

I’m not a big meat-eater, but my family is, and so the first recipe I chose was for a cheeseburger pie. I know that when we have had cheeseburger pizza it disappears quickly, so I was confident that the pie variation would be a hit. You can find the recipe I chose here: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/15708/cheeseburger-pie/

I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand but I was able to modify and the end result was eaten up quickly by my family.

In addition, my husband has made several variations of the small egg/cheese pies. He loves them when the eggs are not scrambled but rather cracked whole into the pie shell and then they cook that way. So good! If you would like to try – here’s a good place to start: https://timetocookonline.com/?s=egg+pie My favorite variation is egg, cheese, and spinach – but the sky is really the limit as far as what you might want to put in your pie.

For the Next Fifty years I want to make time to cook and eat the things I enjoy. Food is such a wonderful, joyful, nourishing thing in so many ways. In my career as a pastor I have visited so many people who are sick or enduring treatments of all kinds. They are rail thin, food tastes awful. So while we are able, let’s not waste precious time on weight-loss endeavors – let’s eat the delicious food, let’s gather around tables with the faces we love, and celebrate living! As I like to say: more living, less dieting!

If you click on the picture you will go to my Amazon affiliate link and see some little pie tins perfect for making the small, savory pies. 

#42 Learn a New Salad Recipe

I love vegetables but especially when I am traveling, I tend to eat mostly bread in some way, shape, or form. Scones, bagels, crackers – I love the carbs. So, now that we are back, I want to swing the pendulum back toward regularly eating vegetables. I went looking on the internet for some good recipes and then I was reminded of this foolproof formula:

Base:

  • romaine/ green or red leaf lettuce
  • spinach
  • mixed baby greens
  • kale

Vegetables:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • sprouts
  • radishes

Cook things like:

  • squash
  • zucchini
  • onions
  • mushrooms (sometimes I prefer them cooked)
  • kale (same)
  • asparagus
  • brussel sprouts

Add-Ons:

These are the ingredients that make this process fun.

You can add things like:

  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc)
  • seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc)
  • chickpeas
  • grains (quinoa, pasta, brown rice)
  • hard boiled eggs (ONLY certified free range from the local farmer’s market)
  • raisins/craisins
  • strawberries/blueberries/cooked apples or pears, or other fruits

It’s a great reminder for how to mix and match tastes that you like. I bought some spinach, nuts, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, and made a homemade salad dressing and I was all set. If you want to read the whole article that inspired me and got me back on the salad track – check it out here: https://medium.com/@MrsDeeGee/make-a-kick-ass-salad-that-wont-bore-the-shit-out-of-you-827d9781bdc7

Then I bought this book to keep my love affair with salads going strong. Click on the picture to see the link.