Celebrate this week! #celebratelu

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I’m joining the Celebrate Link-up this weekend. Head over to Ruth Ayres Writes for more bits of blogger joy.

This week I’m celebrating cousins and Miami.

My cousin lives in Miami, about two blocks from the beach. I visited her and her family late last week into the middle of this week. I love spending time with Charu because we share a concern for issues of local and global justice and she, like me, has spent time abroad in places beyond typical vacation spots.

The last time I went down to Miami, Charu’s third and youngest daughter, Zeina had just been born. Now she’s three and adorably talkative.

So much to say about the world!

So much to say about the world!

Zeina and Kara

Christmas time in Miami (me and Zeina)

I also spent more time with Charu’s oldest daughter than I had in the past. Leila is a fourth grader. I liked being able to talk with her about books, and to observe her interactions as the oldest sibling and imagine what my oldest sister was like at that age.

Zeina and Leila outside by the herb garden

And of course, I loved the change of climate. It was absolutely wonderful to start nearly every day with a long run at the beach. One of those days I ran 11 miles — a personal record.

Peace on earth

Peace on earth

I’ll share a couple more photos from my trip in the next few days.
What are you celebrating today?

Hey grammar sticklers: chill out.

For most of my life, I was a grammar stickler. I learned the rules early in life, and I was quick to notify anyone who abused them. My dad called me “Miss Correcto Tape.” In my senior yearbook, my future plans mentioned spreading adverb usage to the masses.

Eek.

How annoying I must’ve been to my friends and family.

In college, as I studied anthropology, my allegiance to Proper Grammar receded along with other judgmental attitudes. One of the central principles of the discipline is cultural relativism — the idea that one culture’s habits and customs shouldn’t be judged based on the values and logic of another culture. For instance, the focus on deference to elders in some Asian cultures is not better or worse than Americans’ focus on independence and initiative. It’s just different.

Language is part of culture, and I happened to grow up in white, middle-class suburbs, where I learned the dominant speech habits of this country. People from different economic classes or geographies who grew up communicating different varieties of English are not less intelligent or morally inferior to me.

But that’s the attitude I see among many grammar sticklers.

Take for instance, this image that was posted to a writing group I’m in on Facebook:grammar2

What is the purpose of these kind of comments?

Despite being inaccurate (take for example, a good friend of mine who didn’t go to college, doesn’t use proper grammar, and reads way more nonfiction books than I do), these comments seem to make sticklers feel good about themselves in looking down on others.

Have you ever asked yourself who makes the grammar rules? I’m pretty sure they were created by the white ruling class. And the people who police the rules are usually ones who see themselves reflected in that power structure.

I’m not saying that educators shouldn’t teach grammar in schools, but here’s another question: how often are people who speak Proper English expected to adapt their habits when around people who don’t? We expect the reverse all the time, including in schools.

Another writers group I’m in on Facebook had one of these discussions recently. The introductory comment was not super judgmental, but some of the responders seemed to think that improper grammar signaled the decline of human civilization.

grammar1

At one point, I chimed in, saying,  “Who makes the rules? Language evolves.”

I was promptly rebuffed:

grammar1

The original post was on Oct. 22, and it’s still getting comments today. Clearly I won’t get anywhere in those criticism-fests, and it actually makes my stomach hurt to read stuff that exudes such condescension and negative energy. So I’m staying out of it next time. I feel safer expressing my thoughts here on my blog, where I hope I’ve attracted thoughtful, sensitive readers, even if you don’t agree with me about the merits of Proper Grammar.

But for the rest of the grammar sticklers, I have two words: chill out.

Uh-oh, that sentence ends in a preposition. I think I hear the grammar police coming …

Celebrate today! #celebratelu

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We all know long-distance relationships are hard. (I do; I’m in one.) But long-distance friendships are challenging, too, even if they don’t provoke the same missing-you-every-day-every-hour feelings. I’ve had friends in so many places around the world and found that some are great fun in the moment, some continue sporadically when we happen to see each other, and some friendships are kept up more intentionally and regularly, through emails, Skype calls, letters or visits. They’re all worthwhile but the latter are indeed special. I’ve been lucky to have several long-distance friends come to Lancaster in recent months, as well as meeting up with a friend halfway between our locations at a state park last weekend. So today I’m celebrating those and all my other long-distance friends.

Also, on the long-distance relationship front: Jake surprised me by showing up at my door last weekend. I didn’t think I’d see him this month, so that was pretty awesome.

What are you celebrating today? Visit Ruth Ayres’ celebration link-up to see what others have to share.

Emily and Ang

Emily lives in NYC but came to visit at the end of September. She got along great with Ang.

Celebrate today: being outside

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Brisk air is blowing through the window, and a candle is wafting spicy aromas through my apartment as I write, but before I fully indulge in the glories of the coming autumn, I want to celebrate the summer-ish ways I’ve found to be outside in the Lancaster area in recent months. Some of these will continue as the seasons change, but not with the same sunny skies reflecting off green grass. Here are a few ways I’ve celebrated the natural joys of being outside this summer:

Running at a rail trail, the county park, or along cornfields and through covered bridges.

Hiking at Susquehannock State Park.

Camping at Gifford Pinchot State Park.

Walking to a farmers market in a nearby city park.

Picking peaches.

Got in two visits to Cherry Hill for peach-picking this year. Now on to apple season!

A photo posted by Kara Newhouse (@karanewhouse) on

This post is part of the weekly celebration link-up hosted by Ruth Ayres at her blog, Ruth Ayres Writes. Check out what other bloggers are celebrating this week!

Celebrate today! #celebratelu

celebrate-image

I’m joining the Celebrate Link-up late this week. Check out Ruth Ayres’ site for others’ celebrations.

celebrate pics

This week I’m celebrating long weekends. A down side to being a journalist is that newspapers (in print and online) don’t close for weekends or holidays. The upshot is that I can sometimes manipulate the weekends I do work to allow longer weekends at other times. Like this past weekend, when I got to go down to Richmond for 3.5 days. Here’s what’s pictured above (click on the image for a bigger view):

1) The James River seen from Belle Isle. Richmond is the only city in the country with class IV rapids, apparently.

2) The Virginia Fine Arts Museum, which is awesome because it’s free and fabulously designed both on the interior and on the grounds. I loved the fountains and the way outdoor sculptures and building floors were lit up in different colors at night. I also enjoyed seeing an exhibition of photography from the Civil Rights Movement. It made me want to look through the whole archive of Life magazine.

3) Jake and a vegan watermelon treat at Carytown Cupcakes during the Watermelon Festival. Delish!

Those are just a few moments from a surprisingly activity-filled weekend. Some other highlights from Richmond were:

  • The murals. They’re all over Virginia’s artsy capital, and they’re not boring, historical ones. They’re funky and colorful.
  • Chop Suey Books, an indy book store where I purchased Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to MeA few essays in, I can’t believe I hadn’t read anything by this woman before. Now I want to read EVERYTHING by her.
  • A high ropes/zipline course adventure (an early birthday present from Jake).
  • Getting away from home/work and also spending time with Jake before he starts to have class and homework again.

Vacation Photos: Music City

The second leg of my vacation with Jake was in Nashville. I loved visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, though I didn’t take pictures there. We also saw a cool exhibit on the history of animation at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. For a slice of not-so-Southern culture, we stopped by the novelty shop attached to Jack White’s recording studio, Third Man Records. It had a sort of dark-Willy Wonka aesthetic/vibe that was trippy and fun.

I insisted that we hear live music while in the Music City but instead of hitting the tourist trap bars downtown we headed outside the city to a barn dance/show at the Loveless Café. This was a great decision.

Cafe Loveless

The Loveless Cafe is a 63-year-old purveyor of comfort food and good music on Highway 100 outside Nashville. I loved riding the country roads to get there.

Loveless Cafe

A sure sign we were in the South. I did not eat at the Loveless Cafe, but I did have some awesome vegan tacos and vegan cake at The Wild Cow in East Nashville.

Loveless Cafe

Greensky Bluegrass was one of four country and Americana acts at the Music City Roots show. The evening also included some square dancing.

Vacation Photos: Asheville

Jake and I took a vacation in June that started in Asheville, North Carolina. Here are a few photos.

Pramad

This is my friend, Pramad, who I met in 2011 at the Gesundheit! Institute. She’s an artist with a compassionate heart. She and Jake talked a lot about meditation and related topics.

Biltmore Estate

Pramad took us onto the grounds of the Biltmore Estate with her season pass. This is a rear view of the house, which was built in the 1890s by George Vanderbilt. The inside tour is crazy expensive, but the grounds are large and green and beautiful.

Biltmore grounds bridge

A small lake and bridge on the Biltmore grounds.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains at dusk with storm clouds overhead.


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