Monday, September 01, 2014

4.1 Detour - Scenes from a Family Reunion

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the first day of each month is "Detour."
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"So, Katydid, we heard you walked around on using your canes all afternoon at the church fair! Mommy, daddy, and grandma all said you were amazing!"

"But I can't jump."

"But you went in the bounce house with O and had fun anyway, right?"

"No. I never get to have fun."

No, sweetie. You can't jump. And you will never be able to.  

***
"Aunt NGS, Aunt NGS! Look at my plane! It goes really far and it has flames on it!" He blows on a straw, making the paper airplane fly across the room, landing by my feet.

I pick it up, examine in closely, and hand it over to him. "Do the flames make it go faster?"

"No," the pitying tone of his voice catches me by surprise. "It's just for decoration."

I guess five and a half is too old for whimsy.

***
"Gin and tonic?" 

I hesitate, desperately wanting to get buzzed and pretend the bored children are not whining, the adults aren't talking about how the police are being unfairly maligned in the media, and the television is blaring a movie nobody is watching, but then I look over at my husband, knowing he's been fending off  invitations for probably unsafe, but made especially for him food, living off the few hundred calories he can sneak out of the cooler we've hidden in our car, and looking like he's about to go off the same overwhelmed sensory cliff that  I am.

"Better not. I might have to drive home," I point over at my husband, then mime tipping one back with my hand.  "You know how he gets."

Later that night, he hands me the car keys, sweat dripping down his pale face, and I think it's possible that we've pulled off another weekend when everyone in his family thinks he's a lush, instead of a sick man.
 
Five is NOT too old for Big Bird, though.

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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

August 2013 Books

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card (library book) - Ugh. I loved Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead and there were some elements of both of those books that I thought Card replicated in this book, but there were also some problems here that I didn't detect in the first two in the series. There are some characters who are developed magnificently. In the first SEVEN pages, Card introduces two characters we've never seen before and manages to make us fall in love with both of them. But then there are pages and pages of internal dialogue of other characters that make me just want to fall asleep. It's an interesting book full of ethical dilemmas, but it's also a book full of unnecessary judgment and hatred directed at people who aren't society's definition of "normal" (from Card's obnoxious overdefensive stance that a blind fellow could raise surprisingly happy children and keep his wife satisfied to a character who so hates his own disability that Card created a plot device to allow him to get rid of the disability).  Until this point in the series, I thought I could have read the books without knowing about Card's personal life, but Card's own personal stances intrude in this book. 
From the brilliant xkcd, of course. If you don't read this web comic, you should.
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe (library book) - This book had a great premise and a great last chapter. Everything else was promising, but not executed well. I wanted to like it, but I'm not going to finish this series.

Heft by Liz Moore (library book)- I quite enjoyed this. It was like two separate books in some way, but I thought Moore handled both of them quite well. I don't know if it's going to make any lists of my favorite books of all time, but it's worth a read if you see it at your library.

Memory Boy by Will Weaver (library book) -  This book was fine if you didn't stop to think about any of it. The plot holes are enormous and the characters are poorly developed. I don't know. Maybe read Ender's Game instead.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (library book) -  I thought this was fine, just fine. The characters weren't too annoying, the alternating points of view were okay, and I read it one morning when I was feeling a bit bleak and it went just fine with that mood.  I will admit that I totally and completely disagree with the premise though - men and women can be just friends without romance. One of my best friends is a man I've known since we were children and I think his wife and my husband would agree that our friendship is in no way jeopardizing our romantic relationships. But I don't write young adult novels, so I guess you have to create fictional tension where you can get it.

 The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (library book)  - I really, really, really loved this book. It's a young reader chapter book about a group of four kids competing at a candy competition, but it's so much more than that. I can't write about it without giving away the surprise, but every section introduced something a little new while building on the previous plots.  It was genuinely pleasurable to read and surprises kept popping up every time I turned the page. I will be recommending this book to every young reader I know.

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (library book) -  I read this out of order. Apparently I should have read Ender's Shadow first, but I didn't, so apparently I missed a lot of subtext in this one. I will read Ender's Shadow and then give this one a try again.  It seems very much like trying to replicate the brilliance of The Speaker for the Dead while keeping the tone of Ender's Game and it really just came out as a muddled mess (admittedly a muddled mess I couldn't stop reading, but I should really have a tattoo that says Wiggin 4 Lyfe on my arm).

Since You've Been Gone by Anouska Knight (library book) -  This is an acceptable romance. I'm a little over the billionaire alpha male comes in and saves the day, but the writing was fine. You probably will read this and forget you read it by dinnertime.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

3.31 Guilty Pleasures - My Reading List

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the thirty-first day of each month is "Guilty Pleasures."
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I don't think that this will come as a surprise to anyone, but I read a lot of trash. Since I have switched to reading a lot on my Kindle, I buy fewer and fewer paper books and I've been slowly getting rid of a lot of books that take up precious bookshelf space, but I can't bear to get rid of my J.D. Robb books or any of my Charlaine Harris books. Even though I have started buying even these authors on my Kindle, the thought of getting rid of these books gives me the shivers. What if I need to reference Portrait in Death?  (See also the shelf of Harry Potter books directly below this. I will never give them up. In the impending apocalypse, I will take a fistful of pills while reading some Rowling.)

I'm just going to list some of my other guilty romance series. Most of these are hidden on my Kindle, so you'd never know to look at me that I'm reading pure smut.

1. The Rocker series by Terri Anne Browning - Browning's writing has occasionally distracting grammatical errors (even the titles "The Rocker That... " should be "The Rocker Who..."), but her character development is amazing.  At least it was amazing until the most recent book in the series.

2. With Me in Seattle series by Kristen Proby - The next (and last) book in the series is coming out in November!! I can't wait. This series is incredibly uneven. Fight with Me, Rock with Me, and Play with Me are definitely the cream of the crop here, but I am holding out hope that #8 will take me back to the magic of those earlier titles.  I'm starting to think Proby has run out of plausible reasons for conflict between the hero and heroine, though.

3. The Reed Brothers series by Tammy Falkner - Just read the books, not the novellas. The books are great. The last book is coming out in December!!! Squeeeeeee!!  I love these books.  I'm not ashamed. I want the characters to be real people so I can invite them to dinner. Unfortunately, they are not real people and I don't know anyone else who will admit to having read these books, so I don't have anyone else I can talk to about who the hottest brother is (Logan, right?).

4. The McCarthy's of Gansett Island series by Marie Force - I had a brief, intense love for these books. Then Force made the decision to stop writing about my favorite characters (Stephanie and Grant) and I got bored and confused by all the characters. So, I do recommend these books, but be aware - Stephanie and Grant get ignored after their initial story is told!

Tell me, what's your favorite embarrassing read? 
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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

3.30 Contemplate - Stream of Consciousness

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the thirtieth day of each month is "Contemplate."
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As I wandered into the public library, humming Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer, I had an image of everyone breaking out into a flash mob, dancing to the song. How many people around the world are also thinking about this song right now?  So that one guy in Wyoming who lives in his mom's basement listening to The Greatest Hits of Johnny Russell on repeat must also have a deep abiding love for Tom T. Hall, who I frequently confuse for Johnny Russell. 

Do you think Tom T. Hall was bitter that his last name was Hall and his parents gave him the boring name of Tom?  Is there anyone who is named Tom who isn't bitter to some extent about the sheer boringness of it?  What's the perfect name balance?  You want it to be memorable, but not boring. Or maybe some people do want boring? Why would they want to be boring? Because they are boring? Or they're shy and don't want people to pay too much attention to them?  But what about people with super unusual names? That must be annoying, too.  Constantly spelling it and phonetically writing it. 

Hey, what the hell is this metal sculpture supposed to be? Two people holding hands?  Two trees?  Maybe it's just abstract. How do you come to appreciate abstract art?  I don't really get it.  Hey, the student I'm meeting likes art. Maybe I'll ask her for a primer on abstract art.  But really, I need to remember to bring her the pickle pin I promised her. We're only meeting a couple of more times. 
It's actually supposed to be water - it's called The River. I read the plaque.
Don't even pretend your mind doesn't work exactly like this.
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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

Friday, August 29, 2014

3.29 Music - Stratocaster

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the twenty-ninth day of each month is "Music."
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Garth Brook's The Chase was on, rain was sprinkling just enough to mess up the windshield, but not enough to allow the wipers to work, and we mailed the dobro off to its new home.  I knew enough not to become attached to the dobro, but I honestly thought it would last longer than it did.  In its place is this Stratocaster. I think it's pretty, if a little on the dull side.
But there's some reason why the dobro wasn't working out and some reason why this guitar is better for his arthritis and these reasons sort of blend together in my mind as one giant "I don't know what musical instrument I really want" explanation in my head.
I like that the stain is so light that you can see the wood grain on the fretboard.
I don't know how I feel about the stark white pick guard, maybe I would have gone with cream or black, but what do I know?
Did you notice the little booties for the stand that prevent the stand from scratching the guitar?  Or maybe it's to prevent the paint from reacting with the plastic in the stand? Whatever. I sewed them out of one of Dr. BB's old t-shirts. I'm overly proud of this accomplishment.

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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

3.28 Cooking - CSA Vegetables

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the twenty-eighth day of each month is "Cooking."
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Our CSA is in full awesomeness right now.  What we have below is this week's basket that I very excitedly picked up this afternoon. It includes a bulb of garlic, red carrots, a couple peppers, a zillion tiny onions, kale, a bulb of kohlrabi, cherry tomatoes, some heirloom/slicer tomatoes, and a personal watermelon (it's the yellow bulb that looks like it could be a giant lemon until you remember that I live in Wisconsin and there ain't no lemons growing here).  I could not be more excited about this basket.  Well, yes, I could, I guess. I really don't care for kale, but I'll eat it. It's a superfood, so does that make me a superwoman if I eat it?
Since Dr. BB can eat exactly one thing pictured here (the watermelon), this is all mine, my friends. If we were going to be here for the Farmers' Market this weekend, I would have purchased more tomatoes and kohlrabi, too.

Here's the "use all the CSA ingredients" plan:

Carrots: I will make a carrot soup with it.  It's a variation of this recipe, but I don't have a Wonderbag, so I just keep simmering the carrots on the stove stop until they're super tender.  Then I eat this soup for lunch and die a slow death of deliciousness.

Peppers: I'll just chop them up and eat them raw when I want a snack.

Kale: I'll saute the kale for ten to fifteen minutes on medium-high heat with lots of butter, garlic, and onions.  Then at the end, I will throw on some balsamic vinegar and melt in some cheese (I'm partial to this recipe with Parmesean, but I'll use whatever cheese we have handy in the house). Then I throw some walnuts on it before I eat it. This bunch of kale will probably allow me to do this twice.

Kohlrabi: I have some cabbage left over from last week's basket, so I'll make some slaw with the cabbage and kohlrabi (maybe I'll shred up ONE tiny carrot for the slaw for a bit of color).  The dressing will be some olive oil, a smidge of garlic, maple syrup, and lemon. I'll toss in some walnuts (or sunflower seeds, but we never have those) and dried cranberries or cherries. Delicious. It keeps in the fridge for several days, too.

Tomatoes: Seriously? EAT THEM LIKE CANDY.

Watermelon: I'll probably let the boy eat it since I'm not a big melon fan. If he doesn't want it, I'll eat it with my yogurt and granola with breakfast one morning.
CANDY!!

What's at your market these days?
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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

3.27 Media - The Disneyfication of the World

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the twenty-seventh day of each month is "Media."
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When I start to think about the number of things I boycott on political principles, I begin to wonder if maybe I am just making my life harder for the sake of making my life harder. Today I went into a fabric store (but not that fabric store that won't cover contraceptive care for its employees) looking for a not ugly heavyweight cotton fabric with a made in label I could get behind.

Then I stumbled into this aisle.
Gah. Disney.  It's bad enough that entire toy stores have been overtaken by princesses and Cars characters, but now it's infiltrating into non-kid shopping arenas.  No. Just no. Leave us adults alone, DISNEY.

As I consider Disney's role as a global media conglomerate, I find the company to be disingenuous at best and  abusive at worst. Thank heavens I do not have a child because I would have a full on boycott of all things Disney for my (non-existent and hypothetical child) and he or she would be a pariah.  The insistent gender stereotypes, the abusive employee conditions, and the increasing commercialization of creative content makes me want to defenestrate someone, preferably the person who first conceptualized the idea of Tinkerbell.

It goes without saying that I did not pay $13.99 for a yard of Mickey Mouse fabric, right?
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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.
 
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