No, no, don’t go

My N month flew by. I have done quite a bit to live the “N” life, so here’s the lowdown:

NEIGHBORHOOD theater (2 points). A small theater (previously unheard of by me) featured a great play, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” by Joe DiPietro. It starred two great ladies who I know and admire: Janye Anderson and Karen Jordan. I went with some friends from my NEWCOMER Friends of Greater Plano organization to cheer on our talented cohorts. The play was hilarious and served as another great reminder that fun things to do are right under our nose.

NON-TIMED 5K Walker (2 points). Now this may be a stretch to use the N, but the abc life says the only rules you need to follow are your own. (Rather dangerous thinking, but if you’re making up the rules you can also bend them). I participated in the Susan G. Koman walk in Dallas recently. Yes, we had to get up at 5:00 a.m. but it felt great to get out there and do something to support women’s health. Amazing to see all the crazy outfits and to be part of the shared experience of honoring this great cause.

NOSH Euro Bistro (2 points). Fabulous food, great service and restful ambience. Goat cheese and beet salad was awesome and the banana bread pudding easily stepped into the Top 10 best bread puddings in the country. The menu changes seasonally so there’s plenty of reasons to return.

NUTELLA (2 points). I have always had an aversion to trying this. Something about the name? The look of it? But my friend Claire loves it and shared her jar. At first I thought it was okay. But then my preconceived notions of the taste overcame me and I decided I didn’t like it. So what does that say about holding onto long-term, untested beliefs? I’m thinking it means the longer we avoid forming an opinion on facts, the harder it is to displace it once we encounter reality. Would I have liked it better if I weren’t programmed to dislike it? Makes me wonder (and naturally there is a metaphor here).

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Noodles, Neiman’s and Nine

Hail to one new eatery and one new noodle. Had a rare girly day at Neiman Marcus, participating in YSL makeovers and Kate Somerville’s dermal quench treatment. Normally I don’t like anyone fussing with me in public, but I decided to get over myself and have fun with it. And what’s the logical thing to do after moisturizing and makeup? Eat, of course. So we tried the NEIMAN Marcus Cafe, better known as NM Cafe (2 points). Really enjoyed their chicken melt sandwich and their chips. Oh the chips – made on the premises and drizzled with ranch dressing sauce!

I love NOODLES and tried a new kind yesterday at Richardson’s Sushi Loco: Yaki Udon (1 point). Yum. It’s a thick, smooth white noodle with meat, special sauce and vegetables. I think noodles are one of the best comfort foods around – and I never pass up an opportunity to grab some comfort!

Now on to NINE (1 point). Nine gets the short end of the stick: always in the shadow of the great revered TEN. Interestingly, it’s considered a good number in China and an unlucky number in Japan. But I want to play homage to NINE this month. I donated nine books (eight to the library and one to a book club’s holiday basket) and put nine items of clothing into the Goodwill bag so far this month. Next, I’m going to tackle nine knicknacks (there’s probably someone out there who would love them; I certainly don’t) and nine pantry items that I’ll never use (why did I buy them?).

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Not Nice

It wasn’t nice to be gone so long. I thought I needed a break but it went on too long (a year, really?). I missed living the abc life. It did what it was intended to do: motivate me to do new things, read new authors, try new foods, discover all sorts of interesting facts and places – and be a little quirky to boot.

It’s too easy to fall back into stale routines, where weeks go by without any enrichment. I’m always busy, with or without the abc life, but I have so many more new experiences when I’m living it. That’s why you should try it too. Jump in with me on N or start from A and work your way through.

I never need motivation to read more, but to celebrate NATIONAL Book Month, I immediately discovered two interesting books.

1 point for A Monster Calls by Patrick NESS. Would never have picked up this book if it weren’t for the abc life, but it was one of the more amazing books I’ve read in a while. It’s a book for older children. It’s a book for adults. It’s a book that will break your heart and lift it up at the same time. I always know when I truly loved a book: I automatically hug it to me. Sounds corny but it’s like a reflex. The hardback version has incredible illustrations that are the perfect complement to this haunting, moving, riveting story of a young boy who is wrestling with his feelings and fears about his mother’s sickness. Check out the book trailer at YouTube:

1 point for Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr. Set in 1974 in a small, insulated Wisconsin town, this novel starts out slowly and builds to a tense climax. Dealing with racial bigotry and the convenient blinders people wear to see life through their own limited viewpoints, this story stayed with me for days. It scared me that 40 years ago may not be all that different from today. The voice of the book is a biracial woman (Japanese mother, white American father) who is looking back at the time in her childhood when she lived with her father’s parents. She shows how you can love someone even when you don’t always love who they are. Although I thought some of the characters’ actions were perhaps a bit of a stretch, it scares me to think that maybe they weren’t.

Both A Monster Calls and Wingshooters deal with children. Do you enjoy reading their stories and viewpoints too?

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October 2011 – my MILESTONE MONTH. One year blogging. That’s 2 points for effort!

Although we’re halfway through, I kicked off the month with musical moments at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. My friend Pat had second row tickets from work for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with special guest Amy Grant. Never followed her music but she was very enjoyable and the orchestra was grand. Ms. Grant thanked the audience for supporting live music, and that made me think that I should do that more often. With so many of the traditional ways of enjoying the arts hitting the wayside, we should all do our best to keep the personal touch alive.

For an M book, I read Sally MANDEL’S Out of the Blue. New author for me and loved her book. 1 point. She is the type of author who makes writing seem so effortless. The main character deals with MS and although this is a key element in the book, you don’t feel like this is a medical story. Great characters. 

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Guest blogger – Kurt

Laura on her blog: lame, lazy and late! What the “L”!?

However, her travels did include the Lavon Lake Loop, the towns and villages of Lucas, Lavon and the village of Lowry’s Crossing with its unique architecture, lawn signs (Junk and Disorderly) and dead chickens in the road. Also, a secondary trip to Lewisville.

She cooked her famous vegetable soup but added leeks and lentils.

Laura received life-changing news: Twins! No, not her, but our daughter.

Oh, and the cat developed a lisp.

Now onto the M’s.

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The lazy Ks of summer

My poor K month. It has fallen victim to the laziness of summer and my unbearable heat-induced malaise. Not motivated to explore the world around me, I’ve turned to simple pursuits and the never disappointing pleasure of books and movies.

2 points for Michael KNIGHT’s The Typist, which follows a brief time span in the life of a typist who is attached to General MacArthur’s headquarters. The short novel vividly portrays the culture in post-World War II occupied Japan, but it is the main character whose narration makes this book so compelling. By the nature of the  job, a typist documents the words and events of others, like a spectator who watches but is not involved. In this book, the typist, Van, is like that as well. We sense that he is just letting everything unfold around him, with little personal involvement, until he finally is called upon to act on his own emotions and perceptions. Ultimately, he lives his own life, combats loneliness and emerges as a far more resilient man than before. The Typist is a simple yet rewarding story that shares history and a short journey with someone worth knowing.

Another 2 points for the documentary KORAN by Heart. Saw this on HBO and was fascinated by the children who totally memorize the Koran, sometimes without even speaking or reading Arabic. I love immersing myself into another culture. Although I learned things I did not know about the Muslim world, my biggest lesson: we’re basically all alike no matter where we live and what we believe. This is a lesson that always needs refreshing from time to time.

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2 points for Justice; 2 more for Jael McHenry

Justice is not a town I visited nor a restaurant. It’s a recent documentary. Hot Coffee is a rivoting film that raises the question: is justice being served? It opens your eyes to the injustices and madness that surrounds our civil lawsuits by addressing the issues of frivolous lawsuits, pain and suffering caps and mandatory arbitration. Remember the incident where a woman was awarded $2.9 for spilling a cup of McDonald’s hot coffee on herself while in her car? Remember how you thought, what a joke? If you spill coffee while driving, you need to re-examine your common sense not sue the place where you bought the coffee? I do. And now I’m horrified at how wrong I was. There are several other cases that make you gasp. While Hot Coffee got my blood boiling, it also made me realize that I should no longer take anything at face value. Ironically, that goes for what’s presented in this movie as well. Question everything and then make your own conclusions.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry was a pleasant surprise. Not only did I discover a new author I admire but I learned more about Asperger’s syndrome. (A dear, childhood friend of mine has a daughter with Asperger’s, so getting to know this character helped me gain more understanding of her world)  Each chapter opens with a recipe, that when cooked by Ginny, brings back the ghost of the recipe’s original creator. Another novel about finding yourself and putting your life in balance (in this case after tragedy) but with a delightful new character and voice.

Since it is July 31, this is probably the final post for J. Wasn’t a particularly abundant month, but I tried new things and learned a lot. Now if I had just made some jambalaya…



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