Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (in which I sheepishly admit I enjoy books about time travel)

It’s true. And I know I will alienate blog readers by admitting it, but I feel that I would be doing a disservice to you if I did not tell you about this book/series. Never mind that the target audience for this book is probably juvenile males. I obviously have a lot in common with that demographic.

Although this book is pretty much a coming-of-age story for young Rigg, the story is really about time travel. And not cheesy time travel like in Back to the Future–I would equate this type of fantasy with something more along the lines of Harry Potter, except smarter in some ways (as in, requiring more thought).

You have to be really paying attention in this book, because as the reader, you’re following along as Rigg discovers how to use his time traveling gifts with his friend Umbo and later his sister–there are a lot of rules to time travel that I’d never have thought of but that these characters need to think through. Oh, and did I mention that this takes place in another world that began 11,191 years ago? And that they’re trapped in 1/19th of their world with each section or “wallfold” allowed to evolve separately for the last 11 millenniums?

Shoot, there goes your interest.

What if I compared it to The Hunger Games?

Ha! See, I knew that would work. It’s not really exactly comparable to Hunger Games, but I would say that the genres are sort of similar.

Ken and I also spent wedding money on the second book in this series, Ruins. More awesomeness. Another cliffhanger.

For better or for worse, now I’m re-reading Card’s most famous book, Ender’s Game, another fantasy/sci-fi novel directed toward juvenile males. This cover makes me seem like even more of a hopeless geek than you previously thought, I’m sure.

Sigh. In my defense, they’re both best-sellers, so I’m not the only one that appreciates the nuances of time travel.

For now, I think I’ll just embrace the nerdiness. But if I don’t surface within like a year and start reading normal books, could someone come and rescue me, please?







Chicago 2012 (in which there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth)

Guess who’s in Chicago right now?

It’s not at all obvious that Ken is cropped out of this picture, is it? He’s off in the woods somewhere hunting for deer to shoot

And I have no idea how this picture got this big, so just scroll quickly, okay? Pretend you can’t see everysingleoneof my freckles.

….not the point.

Update: I figured out how to make it smaller, so stop squinting and trying to see those aforementioned freckles.

Guess who ELSE is in chicago today?


Yes. John and Sherry from the Young House Love blog.

And due to a series of unfortunate events, we will not be seeing each other to embrace/gesture wildly with our hands/become BFFs.

It hurts my heart that we will be so close, and yet so far.

So for the record, if anyone wants to get me their book for Christmas, I’d appreciate it. And if you want to emulate me and put it on your own Christmas list as well, that’d be fine too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know.

Well shucks. Back to scouring those stores on Michigan Ave. and seeing what else Chicago has to offer, I guess.

I think I’ve crossed into the realm of creepy fandom. There is no hope for me, so don’t even attempt a heroic rescue. Just let me wallow.


Sweater-Sleeve Mitten “Tutorial” (in which I detail the correct way to make really ugly, non-functional mittens)

I like to think of myself as crafty and resourceful, good at repurposing items for whatever I need or want.

But lately I’ve been having to rethink my whole crafting identity.

It all began with thrifted sweaters. (Yes, there were two.) I used the first for this sweater pillow and these leg warmers with moderate success.

All that success went to my head, though, and I became a little too confident and decided to make myself a pair of mittens.

Part of the irony of this post is that I (along with my Grandma D) have cut and sewed and sold HUNDREDS of pairs of mittens out of sweaters (the kind with the 3-part pattern and a cuff) over the past few years. But I decided to deviate from our normal pattern and go with something a little different.

“It will be easier,” I thought.

“They will be cute,” I thought.

“It could revolutionize the way I live my life,” I thought.


WRONG. I was so, so wrong.

Here’s the story, in pictures (and some words, because hey, I’m a writer).


I took the sleeves of the sweater and cut them off.

I then repurposed a political flyer and created a pattern for my hand. I censored the guy because this blog is not about politics and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in case he saw what I did with his nice mailing. I also thought this could make a nice blog post title. “Mitten Tutorial: In which I propose an alternate use for mailed political flyers.” I have begun to put way to much thought into these titles.

I then began to sew, oblivious to what was to come.

Things were looking good at this point. In my mind, it closely resembles a mitten.

But then, once I trimmed up the seams and insided it out, I was horrified to find this:

I’m not sure what it looks like, but it is definitely not something I would wear in public (which is, of course, the mark of a successful craft).

So, yeah. Back to the drawing board on this one. I might blame it on a number of things, like the chunkyness of the sweater or my ancient sewing machine, but it really is because I do not have the proper skills nor motivation to tweak this into something wearable at this point.

Lesson learned. I need to stop the sweater madness. Or at least spend more time on making a successful end result.

At this point, all this mitten is good for would be losing it in the woods:

Please tell me someone else has heard of this book?

At least this book is really cute, even if my mitten is… slightly less cute.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (in which I, against my better judgement, act professionally)

Last week, I went on a business trip with 9 other coworkers to Wheaton College for a conference.

We drove in the day before the conference to visit the Wade Center, which has some crazy awesome things from authors like George MacDonald, Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis.

During our visit, I kept having to take deep breaths to remain calm. The inner geek in me was lurking just below the surface but I try to not look like a lunatic in front of my coworkers (I’m usually only partly successful).

This is C. S. Lewis’ desk and chair. Lewis is, of course, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, which basically WERE my childhood (along with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and, uh, unfortunately, The Saddle Club books).

Less awesome but still pretty great were these props from the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Wade Center has a reading room that we toured as well. On this table were first editions of The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy, a handwritten (!) manuscript by Lewis of The Screwtape Letters, and several letters from Tolkien and Lewis.

We also saw the original sketch of this lovely creature, Reepicheep (this illustration found in The Last Battle).

Image and more info on Reepicheep can be found here.

But the icing on the cake of this delicious visit was this:

Oh boy. Let’s just scroll back up and check that out again.

This is THE wardrobe that was made by C. S. Lewis’ grandfather and that was the inspiration for everything.

I understand if you need to scroll up again.

This notice was taped just inside the wardrobe door.

It was at this point that I stifled everything in my head encouraging me to clamber in and disappear forever and remained safely, and significantly less excitingly, outside the wardrobe and out of Narnia.

I’m still regretting that decision.

But at least I maintained my professionalism.


Recent Reads

I’ve been doing more reading lately, now that I don’t have school anymore (see more on that theory here), and I thought I’d get your opinions on two books that I finished  last week.

Brace yourself, because the two books are wildly different from one another. In fact, I don’t think there are two more opposite books.

The first is called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (fun fact: he also wrote Moneyball, which got made into a movie with Brad Pitt in it.)

It’s all about the stock market crash in ’08 and the events that led up to it. It was fascinating. In 2008, I didn’t pay much attention to the world outside of Kuyper College and was pretty blissfully unaware of the chaos going down on Wall Street (that is, until I got my investment statement in the mail and saw scary numbers…). Now I read a lot of news and listen to NPR frequently, so I like to think I’m a bit more informed now. Anyway, I digress. Basically, this book explains why the stock market crashed by chronicling the stories of the people who saw it coming… which was a very small number of people (which seem crazy, when you understand how inevitable the crash really was). The stories of these 3 groups of people was SO INTERESTING–they each shorted the market by betting against the subprime mortgage market and made millions.

It sounds dull. I know. But the author actually made the book very engaging and (sort of) easy to understand. The most remarkable thing to me, I think, was that these very few people who actually MADE money when the stock market crashed weren’t crooks who’d hoped for this outcome–they tried to tell others but everyone on Wall Street was quite entrenched in their own views, didn’t understand what was actually happening, and didn’t ever think that a crash that big could happen. And once these people made millions, they weren’t even that excited about it–and rightly so–because the financial world as it was came crashing down around them.

I’m not explaining this well. But regardless, it is a good book.

Fasten your seatbelts. The other book I read was Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. Yes.

This is one of the books that would make me, as a child, go into my room for hours and not be seen or heard from. (My mother called it “caving”… being grounded would never have worked for me. I would have loved it.) It took me only about an hour to read this one, but I remember them being a lot longer when I was younger…hmmm. I did still enjoy the 3 or 4 illustrations in the book, though, just as I used to.

Obviously, this books is about an attractive teenage sleuth who solves mysteries. *Spoiler alert*–she solved the mystery in this book, but not without getting into some perilous, near-death situations first.

There’s not much more I can say about it. It was awesome.

Question: Where do I go from here? What should I read next? Obviously my tastes are very wide ranging. (I should tell you about the science fiction series I read this winter…it was totally intended for an audience of middle school boys. But it was great. I read all the books in the series.)