Monday, November 24, 2008

East of Eden

Just a couple days ago I finished reading Steinbeck's East of Eden for the second time, and as soon as I read the last word I wanted to start over again. If you haven't read this book, it is the book he felt he had been waiting his whole life to write. It is loosely based on his family history as well as the Biblical story of Cain and Abel and explores the themes of good and evil and generational sin ("it's in your blood"). I am partly smitten by this book simply because it took place in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. It is a time in history that I have always been fascinated by, I think, because the way of life was so different than now, and in the big scheme of things, it wasn't that long ago. But apart from the historical insight, Steinbeck is one of those writers who has incredible insight into the human psyche and nature that makes me really stop and ponder as I read. It's a long book and there's so much to it, that I really just want to keep reading it over and over.
A friend/professor of ours from college has done several reading/discussion groups with this book, and I only wish I had been around to be a part of one. He is currently just starting in on reading the whole of Steinbeck's work, which I would hope to do one day as well. East of Eden is definitely at the top of my list of all-time favorite books and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book that is a great novel, but one that will really make you think. Just last night I started in on A Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, which is the journal/notes Steinbeck kept while writing the novel. I hope it will be an interesting read with insight into his thought process and writing process.
I'd love to hear any thoughts from others who have read the book...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Things I Want To Do in Life

I decided that I wanted to be better at making things from scratch. I get tired of all the hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients in all my foods. When we got to Oregon, I made a list of things I wanted to learn to do at some point in my life. A few of the domestic-type things were: make bread, learn to sew (I once learned this, but haven't done it in so long, I would be relearning this once-common activity), can (fruits, vegetables, etc), plant a vegetable garden, and grow my own herbs to use fresh and/or dry them for later use.
So since we live 10 steps from the library, I decided to pick up a few books on baking bread. I found one called, "The Bread Bakers Apprentice." It is pretty in-depth; I had to learn a whole new language to really understand it all, but I decided to give it a whirl. It took me two days.
Day 1, I made what is called a soaker and a poolish. Basically, some flour, grains, water, yeast that had to sit overnight.
Day 2, I made the bread. There was a lot of specifics of how long to knead it, let it rise, divide, rise, bake.
As you can see from the picture above, I ended up with two, whole-wheat loaves that were really yummy! I was really proud of my first bread-baking attempt and turns out it was really fun! It's so cool to eat bread that wasn't bought in a store, but that I made in my own kitchen. I can't wait to try the next kind!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Oregon Locals

This is us as we are getting ready to leave for Oregon. Yes, cheesy, I know. This should be a picture of us already in OR; however, our camera is still packed away in a box in the minivan. Thus, all you get right now is a picture of us in Mark's parent's garage :).
We loaded up Mark's parent's minivan and our car, and headed out for at 27 hour drive cross-country. We spent a night with friends in York, NE because there were "blizzard-like conditions" in western Nebraska. Our second night was spent with a friend we met in SD, Jonathan Elliot. The air force had just assigned him to a base in Utah, and it just so happened to be on our way. We had a great time getting to spend time with people we hadn't seen in awhile, and it made the trip a lot easier to break it up. Did you know that ther's absolutely NOTHING in Western Nebraska, Wyoming, and most of Utah? Eastern Oregon doesn't have much either, and even though there isn't much there, it's absoulutely beautiful! Day three, we finally arrived at our destination.
Since we couldn't get into our apartment for a few weeks (which later fell through), the parents of our friend, Aaron, were generous enough to let us stay in their little guest house that is behind their home just outside of town. This is where we've been for the last week.
Our time has been spent looking for apartments (since the first one fell through AFTER we got here), and jobs. Applications are out to a few places, and a few more will go out still, and then we just wait, pray, and hope that things fall into place.
Why did we choose Oregon? We had visited Aaron and Annie on a past vacation and really enjoyed the city. Then, when we hiked the trail, we stopped by again, and since we didn't have any commitments to a location when we were done hiking, we decided to move back here. We've lived in the Midwest our whole lives, and yet we are in love with the mountains. It was time for us to try living in and near them. And so, here we are. Giving it a whirl. Our hope is to take advantage of the beauty and adventure that is at our fingertips out here: hiking, biking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, winter camping...mountains to climb and wilderness to explore. And in between, I guess we'll have to go to work :).
Want to come visit?