Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mid-Year Book Report Correction

My Aunt Billie says she did NOT recommend Cutting for Stone.  She didn't even get through it - did not like it at all.  I admit, it was GORY.  But like I told her, I can handle reading about pain, suffering, and cruelty to humans, in general, but not to animals.  So the gory parts of this book didn't bother me too much.  I still really, really, liked it, and I still trust the recommendations that Aunt Billie DOES make to me. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mid-Year Book Report

This year has been a GREAT reading year for me.  I told you about 9 of them in THIS POST.  Those remain some of my favorites so far, but let me just go ahead and give you the whole list with some down and dirty comments.

  1. Wonder - R.J. Palacio Well, I didn't like this one as well as ROOM, but it was still good. ROOM just had more character development in my opinion.  And while I guess they actually aren't all THAT comparable, they are both told from the point of view of a little kid with issues, so I sort of lump them together.  
  2. The Yellow Birds - Kevin Powers Reviewed here
  3. The Dog Stars - Peter Heller I love me a good post-apocalyptic. This was a damn good one. Made me sad in lots of ways.  Isolation and friendship.  Reliance and dependency.  A good dog.  Wow.  
  4. Where'd You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple  Reviewed here
  5. Some Remarks - Neal Stephenson  Thanks Mr. Stephenson, I'm now saving my money for a treadmill desk.  
  6. Wool Omnibus - Hugh Howey Jason and I listened to this together and really liked it.  5 related, interwoven short stories, with more to come. I thought it had some really good character development.  Good pacing.  Enough action and science to keep Jason interested, and the science wasn't completely stupid.  (I'm looking at YOU, "Under the Dome")
  7. Treasure Island!! - Sara Levine Confederacy of Dunces LIGHT + She's Come Undone LIGHT, only with a girl who thinks she's a pirate.  It was fun.  and LIGHT.  
  8. Life Among the Giants - Bill Roobach  This was good.  I think maybe I just didn't relate much to the characters, so I didn't feel all that invested. But it was well written, and it definitely held my attention.  
  9. The last 1/2 of The Brothers Karamozov LAWD this was long.  I didn't like it NEAR as much as Crime and Punishment, but then I've always had a thing for stories about psychos. This was excellent, of course, and I'm glad I read it.   Isn't it so interesting how people raised by the same parents, in the same environment, can turn out SO different?
  10. Currency - Neal Stephenson Neal Stephenson, as you know, is my boyfriend.  So, yeah.
  11. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain Reviewed here
  12. Suddenly, a Knock at the Door - Etgar Keret Short story collection.  Some elements of mystical realism, which I can dig.  I listened to this on audio, and I feel like I missed something.  I think I'll go and get this in hard copy and spend a little more time with it.  I think there are some things in here that I want to think about more.  
  13. A-Z Perfume Guide - Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez  I went through a brief period of obsession. 
  14. 100 Classic Perfumes - Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez I said I was obsessed.  I admit it.  
  15. Ready Player 1- Ernest Cline Snow Crash meets The Westing Game meets it could have ended a lot faster.  The end Druuuuugggggg on for me.  But it was a fun read, and I don't not recommend it.  
  16. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel Reviewed here
  17. Bring up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel Reviewed here
  18. Columbine - Dave Cullen I'm fascinated by the psychology of both the survivors and the perpetrators.  And the failure at so many levels to prevent this.  We are a nation of passing on the responsibility, aren't we?
  19. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store - Robin Sloan The Davinci Code meets Ready Player One....sort of.  It was fun. Another one where I could have just done without the end.
  20. Fobbit - David Abrams Reviewed here
  21. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green  Reviewed here
  22. The Emperor of Scent - Chandler Burr About Luca Turin, see also #13 and #14.  This was a good bio.  
  23. Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Karen Russell Short stories.  I think I loved them all.  Another one with a touch of that mystical realism Karen Russell is good at.  
  24. The Dinner - Herman Koch I love a book where it starts with a good story, good characters, and good plot, and the whole book is peeling away layers and layers and layers and then BANG.  Literally.  A good beach read - oh yeah.  
  25. Drinking & Tweeting - Brandi Glanville I like her.  Sue me.  
  26. How to be Black - Baratunde Thurston I heard him on NPR or somewhere, and was intrigued.  It's the brother book to "Stuff White People Like", which I haven't read yet.  This was really fun.  I still don't think I could pass, though.  I'm pretty white.  
  27. The Orphan Master's Son - Adam Johnson Reviewed here
  28. The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell Lolita except without the kiddie porn but with more murders.  I liked it a lot.  
  29. The City & The City - China Mieville Now this was a super interesting concept to me.  The murder mystery that went along with it bored me to death, but the world building was really REALLY cool. 
  30. Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy) - Mira Grant Part 2 of the trilogy.  I loved it.  FUN and fast and interesting and funny and sad, too.  
  31. Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy)- Mira Grant Part 3 of the trilogy.  Umm...still loved it, but there is a SHOCKER that I'm still not sure I'm over.  
  32. To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf What's with all the hype? I don't get it. I thought I'd been missing out all this time?  It's just "seize the day", people.  
  33. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe OH my. We white Christian people sure are destroyers, no?
  34. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris Bwwahahaahaahah!
  35. Sharp Objects- Gillian Flynn I liked this a lot better than Gone Girl.  It was a fun beach/ thriller/ summer read.  
  36. In the Wood - Tana French In the summer I sometimes like to read crime-y pulp paperbacks. But not shitty ones.  This was a good one with good character development, plot and pace.  I have found myself thinking about this guy (the protagonist) from time to time since I read this.  
  37. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn the "twist" was obvious.  I hate that.  
  38. Shipbreaker - Paolo Bacigalupi Paolo is sort of Neal Stepheson-esque, so I like it a lot. I am a post-apocalyptic nut.  This one is set in post-apocalyptic New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, so I really love the world-building here.  I cared about the characters.  I found the fight scenes a little tedious at times, but that's just me.  I think Jason would find this one fun.  
  39. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness Sorry, not my favorite.  This is the first book in a series, and I have no plans as of right now to pick up the second.  I do sort of care about the 2 main characters, so I will probably read the rest of the series at some point, but I'll have to be bored.  
  40. The Likeness - Tana French - I didn't like it as much as In the Wood, but I think maybe I was getting burnt out on my summer crime-reading spree.  It was good, and the premise was interesting.  I wasn't bored, and I cared about all the characters, but the resolution of the mystery was sort of flat or something.  Again, maybe I was just getting bored of mysteries by the time I read this one.
  41. Fool - Christopher Moore - Oh Christopher Moore, please write more books like this and Lamb and  Bite Me and A Dirty Job, and less like The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun, kthanx.  This is funny and smart and funny.  King Lear from the viewpoint of a court jester. 
  42. Moral Disorder and Other Stories - Margaret Atwood I'm not sure what I think about this one.  They are all interrelated stories, but I didn't find myself connecting much with any of the characters. I couldn't even really tell you what any of the stories was about.  Maybe I was in a bad/ weird place when I read this?  Maybe I need to read it on paper?  I listened on audio.  Maybe I'll revisit it at some point, but probably not.  
  43. The Woods - Harlan Coben It was dumb of me to read this one and In the Wood by Tana French so close together.  They are both about kids who get murdered in the Wood and then way later one of the people involved ends up being a cop and investigating another murder of kids and drama ensues.  I have them both confused and mixed up in my head.  
  44. Angelmaker - Nick Haraway I liked The Gone-Away World way, way, way better.  This one is still ok though, think a steampunk much better written Davinci Code.  With robot flying bees.  And ninjas. 
  45. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet - Jamie Ford My Aunt Billie has been trying to get me to read this for years, and I finally picked it up.  WOW it was great and I loved it.  I generally HATE romance crap, but this one had enough other intriguing stuff going on that I could easily overlook that sappy love junk.  Actually that part just added to the already excellent character development, so...well done.  
  46. Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey  Oooo!oooooh!! Spooky and creepy and GOOD.  A little magical realism....or was it? Another one my Aunt Billie recommended - she has never ONCE steered me wrong.  Good story, good characters that I cared about - up to and including the brassy neighbor, good descriptions of surviving Alaskan winters.  A good one, too, to read in July on the Coast.  It cooled me off, even when it wasn't giving me the chills from being creepy. 
  47. Reckless Endangerment - Gretchen Morgenson, Joshua Rosner The BEST explanation of the causes and effects of the 2008 real estate market crash and people behind it.  I was riveted.  RIVETED.  
  48. Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese Another Cousin Holly/ Aunt Billie recommendation, and oh they did not disappoint me.  This one was a big deal a few years ago, and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind.  Glad I waited until I was in a good place for it, because I loved it. I even made it through the GORY descriptions of operations and hospitals and dying people without barfing.  I just finished it today, and I already miss the characters.  I'll be thinking about them for a long time. 

That's it through July 21, 2013. Next up: British Victorian literature, starting with Middlemarch.  That's a story in itself, but for another time.  I'm tired and I still have to get a little work done before I can crash.  Goodnight my peeps!

Good Birthday Week

Today is my 44th birthday.  And as I typed that, I threw up in my mouth a little.  44.  44444444444444.  44.  Two fours.  FOUR decades + FOUR years.


ok I need to get over it.

On the positive side, Jason has treated me like a princess this week.  Not that he doesn't normally do that anyway, but just even more special little things than usual.  Like one day I was craving onion rings.  He got on-line, found recipes, went to the grocery, came home, and BAKED me AWESOME crunchy onion rings.

Then, we had to go to Baton Rouge last Tuesday to check on the house there, and he had ordered me my MOST favorite cake in the world.  Berry Chantilly from Whole Foods.

OMG this cake.  For real, it's too good for words.  

This week I also got several things in the mail that I "won" off the ebay.  I'll be sharing those in the next little while.  

My NEW ROOF got done WOOHOO!  And I couldn't thank my hunny enough for taking care of THAT nightmare.  The research he has put in to make sure we got what we needed - WOOF!  A LOT!

Got a zillion Happy Birthday's on The FaceBook, talked to K.E.S. on FaceTime, during which she told me she had a "Happy Birthday Party for me", then I went to Mom's, and she had fixed my favorite birthday dinner EVAH....

Fried steak, english peas, and that AMAZEBALLS mac and cheese she made the first time this Christmas.  Remember that?  Remember how I ate so much of it at Christmas that I didn't poop until February?  Well, this time I'm prepared.  I bought some SMOOTH MOVE tea at Whole Foods Tuesday.  So take THAT, mac and cheese!

So yeah, Happy Birthday to me!  All in all, a  pretty good time was had by all!  Next week, HOPEFULLY, my new dining room buffet will get delivered and then we can all really celebrate :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bery Heavy Head

A post on the Giant Schnauzer Facebook group this morning included the cutest photo of a giant out in a garden with her head laying on a rock.  It got me thinking about all the different pictures I have of my Jazzy Grrl laying her head on various things.  It cracks me up, the positions and places she ends up.  She's so sweet and funny, we just love her heart out.

Hello dis is Jasmine and dese are fings I like to lay on.  Because my humans treat me so bad and won't give me anywhere nice to rest to I have to lay on hard, cold, uncomfortable objects.  Like....
Dis chair.  Dis when I first got here and had no beard and looked like a goof. 
Dis miter box

The arm of dis swing
Dis rocking chair
Dis desk

Dis drafting table
Dis rail
My Dad's foot

My sissy's bed, within reach of the dangerous dragon-schnauzer

OK, sometimes they let me get comfy :)  I guess I've actually got it pretty good.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mimosa, anyone?

Druid Oak

One of my favorites on my morning walk route.  Doesn't it look like it is doing a reallllllly slow ( like eons long) pirouette?

What the?

Anybody know what this is?  There is the head and the three little separate dishes and then the body which is hollow. Lady at the antique store has no idea.  


I so dearly love my crepe myrtles.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

New Planner!!

I am a planner fanatic.  I've had one at all times since my sophomore year of college. It's also one thing I've hoarded.  I still have them all.  (Well, except that I went through a several-year Franklin Covey phase.  Those planners have 1 or 2 whole pages a day.  I did not keep all the pages from those planners, just key pages.)  I don't know why I keep them.  I guess they are the closest thing I have to a diary.  I have always sucked at actual diary-keeping.

Over the years, I tried pretty much every format out there.  Every size.  Every arrangement of pages.  One-page-a-day, two-page-a-day, one week on two pages etc. etc. etc.  I've just never been 100% satisfied.  I finally decided it's because that is not the way my brain works.  My brain works in a list format. So after MUCH searching for the perfect format, I finally stumbled upon do-it-yourself planners.

And now I have a new obsession with the Arc planner/ notebook system from Staples.  Here's my 1st go.  It's the junior size planner, with lots of plastic dividers- from both the ARC line and from the Martha Stewart line (also at staples - and yes they are interchangeable).  I bought all the flags and tabs and page markers, and some Martha Stewart to-do list packs (that's the first little short page you see in the pic below).  And lots of blank paper in various formats.  I learned very quickly that I needed the 2 things I did NOT buy on my first trip to Staples - the hole punch and the upgraded size discs.

Sidenote: Jason rode with me on my first trip to Staples, which is a little over 20 miles away in Pascagoula, MS. We counted 52 rabbits on the trip. See here the article about bunny counting. 

  So today, Mom was here and we had some time to run around before going to see KES once she woke up from her nap, and I convinced her to ride back to Staples with me.  We counted only 17 rabbits, but it was about 2pm which is not their prime-time.  

These new discs look huge, but I know I will expand into them.  I have already made sections in the planner for Gardening, Blogging, Home, Secret Codes, Books, Doodling, and yes, WORK.  However, I did something new in this planner.  I put the work sections in the very back, because I am trying to remind myself every time I open this planner that although my job is very important to me, I need to stop letting it always be the top priority all the time.

After all my internet searching I still never found a planner page format I really liked, so I decided to make my own!  With my hubby's help (he's a photoshop wiz), we used one of my own doodles and modified a free downloadable blog planner I found from  It's simple and easy, and it really all I think I need.  It has space right after the date for any appointments I have, the space next to that is for me to record my time each day for my time report, the 8 little circles on each day are for me to mark that I drank the water I'm supposed to drink, and the W on each day is for me to mark that I WALKED (or rode my bike or whatever).

I am super sure that this will go through 100 iterations through time, but I so VERY happy with the way my first attempt turned out!    I feel more organized and clear-headed already.  Can't wait to really start using this new tool!