Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a stroll around the Gardens

I love the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and I have vowed to go there much more often this year. It is free to get in and you can't beat that with a stick! These pics were taken about 2 weeks ago and pretty much only the tulips and the daffodils and poppies were blooming. I'll go back again the next time I have a day off and the weather cooperates to see what has bloomed since then.

The Gardens has a great bamboo forest the has a trail through the middle. It was shady and cool and the bamboo made great little clacking noises in the breeze. I could have been very happy there with a camp chair and book.

The Japanese garden has not produced any blooms or leaves yet, but is still quite beautiful in its winter look.

These were my favorites of the day and I took my mother back a week later to see them, though they weren't quite as pretty then as they are in these pictures. This is a kind of poppy called Champagne Bubbles :-)

This little fellow (or lady...how does one tell from a glance?) was zooming around the koi pond taking advantage of onlookers generously supplied with bread. He and the fish and turtles were duking it out for prime real estate near the bridge where everyone was standing. My mom and I spent a good 45 minutes sitting on a bench watching the show.

If the city where you live has a botanical park of some kind, make a visit (many visits!) this year and be sure to support them by purchasing something from their giftshop if you can!
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more copycats

As I strolled about the Birmingham Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago, I found these two items...

Tree stump or.....

Mount Doom!?!!?!

Natural rock formation or.....

cartoon shark?!?!!?!?

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tasteful apartment living

It's time for another installment from that 60's classic, Decorating Ideas for Every Room in Your Home!  For those of you currently in apartments, space is certainly an issue.  You have to channel your inner FLW to maximize every bit of square footage.  

Might I suggest this spiffy arrangement:

From the book: 

Modern designs, materials and color scheme were an excellent choice for living and sleeping areas of inventive wigwam style vacation house designed by Ving Smith for U.S. Rubber.  View from the second floor of the house zeroes in on dining area, part of living  room, and narrow but charmingly furnished balcony designed as children's sleeping quarters.  Area includes ample storage, closet and bookshelf space, and is partitioned to provide a brother and sister with small but separate rooms.

Love those stairs AND the big wooden lute-playing figure on the balcony.  Check out the tv by the dining room table.  What is your favorite part of this decorating scheme?

Monday, March 30, 2009

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

I've blogged about Lehrer's other book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, before so I won't gush over it too much here, click over if you're interested.  I've talked my book group into reading it this year (October) and I contact Mr. Lehrer about discussion questions.  He emailed me back promptly (!!!) to say that he hoped to include discussion questions in the next edition of the paperback.  I'll take it!  Otherwise I have to make them up myself which I can do but it's a pain.

So, anyway, on to decision making.  If you don't think you can read science writing, I sincerely hope you'll pick up one or both of these books and give them a try.  Simply put, in this book Mr. Lehrer does a bang up job of explaining how the brain makes decisions.  From pilots to firefighters to professional poker players, brains perform some impressive stunts (specifically the frontal cortex).  The stories he uses to illustrate the form and function of the brain structures he talks about are clear and very easy to understand.  I will never look at my brain the same way again, nor will I trivialize my emotions as I have done in the past.  It seems that without your emotions, as inconvenient as they may sometimes be, you would be unable to make decisions about AnYtHiNg At AlL!

Short chapters, fascinating information, a fun, informal tone, and some hardcore science combine to make kickass reading.  I read this in two evenings and can hardly wait to go buy my own copy after I turn this one back in to the library!

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

I picked this book up because of the title and the gorgeous cover.  I don't do that often, but this was just irresistible.  Then I read that it is set in 15th century Venice and of course I was hooked.

Luciano is a penniless orphan taken in by the chef of the doge of Venice.  He is unsure of himself and suspicious of the chef.  After all, Luciano is obviously a thief, so he can't imagine what the chef's motivations are.  However, the prospect of steady meals and a safe place to sleep every night are motivation enough to make him stay.  It is only after he has worked in the kitchen for awhile that he really begins to notice and wonder about the strange goings on in the Venice, the doge's palace, and his maestro's kitchen.  There is gossip about a heretical book that has instructions for alchemy, love potions, and achieving immortality.  The doge is old and sick and has begun questioning people about the book's whereabouts, sometimes at his dinner table but increasingly more often by torture in his dungeon.  Last but not least, Luciano begins to notice that the chef's sumptuous, exotic meals make people act strangely.  Why does he command strict privacy to assemble the sauces and take unknown ingredients from his personal (and locked) cabinet?  Why does he care who the doge questions, tortures, or kills?  Could the chef know something about the book?  The answer will be beyond anything Luciano could imagine.  If a Venice street urchin has any innocence left, the answer will surely remove the last of it.

This is a first novel and it shows in some ways, but having said that, O.M.G. what a gorgeous novel!  Venice in all her slutty 15th century gaudiness is spread out before you if only you will open the cover.  Her descriptions of the markets, alleys, canals and the meals...the meals!  I'd act strangely too.  There was not too much that I didn't see coming before it arrived but it was a rollicking ride to make it there.  I give her props too for not going with the happily ever after...or at least not the one that I was expecting anyway.

This is not a YA novel by any means, but it reminded me of one of my favs, The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer.  He is a German author whose novels have recently been translated into English in the past few years.  His novels are a bit darker than I'm really used to seeing them from other authors and not really in ways that are easy for me to describe, but try them out for yourself if you're interested!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Just to get this out of the way...

Hello, my name is Holley and I am a TwiHard.  
I bought the complete set of hardcover novels in a set with accompanying collectible postcards.  
I saw the movie 16 times in theaters.  
I saved the 264 page unfinished manuscript for Midnight Sun on a thumb drive so I can read it whenever I want.
I bought the deluxe 3-disc edition as early as I could get out of the house March 21st.  
I like the Twilight tetralogy and am not ashamed to admit it.

So, moving on to The Host.  This is Meyer's first title aimed at adults and I read it long before I fell into the Twilight vortex.  I got an ARC from the publisher, decided to give it a try, and fell in love.  I've since bought my own copy to go with the tetralogy but this particular instance I listened to it in the car and it was just as good.  I like little short books and I like medium long books, but I love a big damn book even more.  Witness my love for the Song of Ice and Fire series (thanks steering me to it KT and KP!) as well as Pillars of the Earth.

  The Host opens as the last vestiges of humanity are being snuffed out by the Souls, a race of parasitic aliens that are implanted into humans to take over their bodies.  The Souls picked Earth because it was a beautiful planet being destroyed by the dominant species (that'd be us).  Now, a peaceful civilization is being built by the Souls as they turn humanity's tide of destructive behaviors.

Wanderer is on her 9th planet and has been especially picked for this assignment because of her experience.  Her job is to access her host's memories to see how she has managed to avoid capture for so long and to see if there were anymore humans helping her.  Her host tried to commit suicide before being captured and Wanderer has to deal with those horrific memories first before getting to the real task of ferretting out the last humans.  Wanderer only has one problem at this point.  The first occupant of the body, Melanie Strider, is not ready to leave and has no intentions of giving up her family's whereabouts.  

As Melanie and Wanderer fight for control of the body, a Seeker is scruitinizing Wanderer's (and by default, Melanie's) every move.  Wanderer discovers that in her case, two different species cannot occupy the same body and remain enemies.  Wanderer will push all the limits she thought she had in order to protect the last pocket of human resistance and keep the Seeker from learning their secrets. 

I love novels that explore issues of humanity.  What is the definition of humanity?  Do you have to be human to be humane?  There are many accounts of humans doing inhuman things but does that make them truly inhuman or is it simply an adjective?  Can nonhumans have humanity?  Can animals?  I love these questions.  Dark night of the soul and all that.  This is why I like science fiction in general.  One of my favorite series in recent memory is John Scalzi's Old Man's War universe.  Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, and The Last Colony are a superb trilogy that everyone should read at least once!  

Anyway, if you too love a big damn book, one that doesn't move at the fastest of paces but only unveils its secrets at its own pace, pick up The Host!  You'll make some great friends!

My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen

The full title of this book is My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith.  

...and he had to find a rabbi who would grant him permission to do it in order to write this book.  He had to search for this rabbi because he got turned down a couple of times from others.  I myself have visited several different denominations of churches (Protestant and Catholic), though never a synagogue (would I be allowed to visit?), and have never had to ask permission.  

Benyamin Cohen is an Orthodox Jew who grew up across the street from a Methodist church.  As a young child he yearned to visit that church, utterly convinced that something magical took place inside.  His mother died young, leaving a large family somewhat adrift.  To his father's consternation, Benyamin was the only one of his sons who did not become a rabbi.  Even Benyamin's sisters married rabbis.

Now thinking about middle age more than he'd like and looking for a wife (a highly complicated and expensive venture for an Orthodox Jew..I could NeVeR have imagined), Benyamin finds his spirituality lagging.  There are many laws and daily observances to take up his spiritual time, but he's doesn't feel as if he's getting much out of it.  He does find the woman of his dreams though, ironically, she converted to Orthodox Judaism from Christianity (she was a PK!).  He talks about, with no little wonder, the fact that she voluntarily chose the religion that he was born forcefully into.  

But this takes up only the first chapter or so of the book.  In the rest of the book, and what he really had to get permission from a rabbi for, Cohen takes a year to visit every Christian church function, sporting event, rally, etc that he can get into in order to try and get to the bottom of what Christians find so exciting about their faith.  Cohen gently pokes fun at some of the silly things that Christians do while marveling at their excitement over what he frequently finds so tedious about his Judaism.  Prayer, holidays, daily conduct, love, dating, marriage, and even food get a studious examination from Cohen and I was utterly delighted from start to finish.  He gave a hint of insight into some of the laws those of the Jewish faith live by while scraping years of rust off some of the traditions Christians practice for reasons sometimes forgotten.

A fun and funny book that I highly recommend!  It got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: 
A delicious olio of guilt, longing, surprise, wonder, unease, and of course humor, Cohen's quest has univeral appeal.  One need not be Jewish, Christian or even a seeker to enjoy this wonderful loop around the Bible Belt.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Am I the only one who loves the phrase "based on true events"?  

So, One Thousand White Women is based on an actual historical event in which a Native American chief, at a meeting with President Grant, asked for one thousand white women as wives for members of his tribe.  His line of thought followed the Native American tradition that children always belonged to the mother's tribe, so if his braves had children with the women then they would belong to the "white" tribe and thus the Native Americans could assimilate into the "white" culture more easily.  You can imagine the reaction of President Grant and all in attendance.  

However, Jim Fergus takes the stance that perhaps the U.S. Government thought this might be a crafty way of Christianizing and controlling the Native Americans and so agrees to the deal.  Unfortunately for the Cheyenne in the novel, the government cleans out several insane asylums of all the healthy, not-too-crazy women of childbearing age for the first shipment.  Mary Dodd finagles her way into the deal, determined to get away from the sadistic "caregivers" at the asylum to which she was committed by her family for promiscuity.  She had dared to live out of wedlock with a man below her station and further compounded that crime by having two children with the man.  Her family kidnaps her, takes her children, and commits her to the asylum.  She has no idea what, if any, part her lover had in all this and despairs of ever seeing her children again but she would do anything to get out of her prison...even take a train to (what she considers to be) the nothingness of the Great Plains and the depredations of the "heathens".

So, what we have here is sort of Dances with Wolves (specifically the movie, as I haven't read the book) from a feminine perspective.  I found Mary Dodd to be somewhat shallow, though with more depth than some of her companions in the adventure.  Plus, Mr. Fergus seemed inordinately concerned with matters good and bad below the waist.  I kept wondering what would have been different about the story if it had been written by a woman.  Would sexuality and manbashing have been less of an issue?  It felt to me as if Mr. Fergus was writing the way he thought women thought and was more than slightly off target.  Plus, and this was a big issue for me, even after Mary saw the differences between her adopted people and what she thought they would be like (and how different they were from those afflicted by alcoholism whom she'd seen near the fort), she still referred to them in thought and speech as "heathens".  I didn't want her to be that shallow.

We all know the history of the Native Americans so the Hamlet-esque ending came as no surprise.  Overall, it was an enjoyable book.  I liked watching the characters come to grips with their situations, some more nobly than others.  I just felt like it could have had more depth if Mr. Fergus didn't seem so focused on such a shallow inner life for the women.  Anyone else read this book?  What did you think of it?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


(via Snorg Tees by way of The Book Lady's Blog)

Check out this t-shirt!  I covet it...

my power is peace

via the lovely and talented Book Diva
(I'm not sure what peace and a luggage tag have in common however....)

Your Name's Power is Peace

Your name's power is that it helps you be peaceful.

Your name conveys both loftiness and sublimity.

People who meet you can't help but think you are loved.

You try to live your life with thoughtfulness and care.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

see the resemblance

The Heat Miser from the 1974 tv special, The Year Without a Santa Claus...

A critically endangered Francois Langur born last week at the Taronga Zoo in Australia.  Cute, isn't she?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Watchmen by Alan Moore

I don't do this book any justice with the brevity of this synopsis of Watchmen  but I don't want to give too much away.  So, it is the 1980's and masked vigilantism (sp?) has been outlawed by the government.  We get some of the story in the form of journal entries of the masked vigilante Rorschach, one of the last to remain unidentified and more or less active, though a fugitive because of the new laws.  He is looking into the recent death of fellow masked vigilante, the Comedian (one of the most conflicting characters I've ever encountered).  When other masked v's begin to suffer from various mishaps from assassination attempts to spurned lovers, Rorschach suspects that they are being picked off.  Now the only question is why?  Soon all the evidence points in an unwelcome and unlikely direction.  As the world seems about to explode from its own animosities, the Watchmen seem about to suffer the same fate.  If they completely disappear, then who will be left to save the world?

I once asked my coworker, Daxx the Magnificent (can you believe that is what the pirate name generator spit out?!?), to give me a list of his top five favorite graphic novels.  If you've been coming over to my House for any length of time then you know how much I love The Walking Dead series.  That was Daxx's #1 on the list I think, and it is one of my new favs of all time.  There was also V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and two others I can't recall right now.  

So, I finally read Watchmen because I wanted to get a feel for it before I saw the movie.  This was some complicated material, let me tell you.  I'm sure there are some people out there thinking, "oh, superheroes, capes, spandex...silly!  Real books don't have pictures!" and they are so wrong.  This book is about nuclear paranoia, social decline, and good ol' vigilante justice.  There were times when the historical discussion of the Afghanistan/Russia conflict going on at the time in which the book is set actually got a bit dry and lecture-like to me, but I persevered and was lushly rewarded for ploughing through the unexpected history lesson.  I admit up front and freely that Rorschach was my favorite character...even more so after seeing the movie.  I sniffled at the end.  I admit that too.  

I am glad they changed the ending for the movie because it was more than a little hokey to me, but I did not like what they changed it to.  I feel like that was a further betrayal of an already betrayed character but whatevah...I still liked the movie.  One of my favorite parts of the book, outside of Rorschach, was the reference to Doc Savage and his intrepid crew of adventurers.  Many, many, many people have no idea who this character is but I cut my reading teeth on the exploits of the Man of Bronze and am proud to own well over 100 of the books.  My uncle has quite a few...I occasionally try to talk him out of them but no such luck so far.  Like the characters in Watchmen, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan, Doc Savage had no superpowers.  What he has are some stunning genetics and an intensive training regime to keep his intellect and particular set of skills sharp and useful.  

I could go on and on but I'll stop there and simply say, don't miss out!  Challenge yourself to read Watchmen!

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland

I confess, until I read The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., I didn't even know her name wasn't really Josephine.  That was just what Napoleon wished to call her.  Sheesh, and everyone complains about Edward Cullen.

So, anyway, Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie was Josephine Bonaparte's real name and she led quite a life way, answering to the name of Rose, long before meeting the tiny dynamo that was Napoleon.  In Gulland's novel (and I have not read a bio of Josephine so I'll just leave all real events to the historians), Rose grows up on a sugar plantation on Martinique.  A hurricane left her family practically destitute when she was just a little girl and other family tragedies follow throughout her girlhood.  An marriage proposal is offered from a distant cousin in Paris, Alexandre de Beauharnais, but her sister is too sick to make the journey so Rose is offered in her place.  

This is the relationship that takes up most of the story and will eventual land her in a particularly nasty prison.  Two children, a boy and a girl, are borne of their marriage but the relationship sours as he moves up in political circles and begins seek the affections of others.  Unfortunately for them all, the political tides change and suddenly all members of the upper classes are being persecuted, jailed, and guillotined.  The conditions are horrific and Gulland pulls no punches in making you understand how nasty things are.  

Not long after Rose's husband has his date with the guillotine, the political climate changes in her favor and she is released from prison.  She is very aware of her precarious position with the government but is heedless of warnings as she goes about trying to clear her husband's name.  It is as she is moving and negotiating with the politicians over her husband's reputation that she makes the acquaintance of Napoleon.  Their very brief and weird courtship was one of my favorite parts of the novel and make me want to read more about both of them.  The novel ends with their marriage but begins a trilogy so I will have to pick up the next in the series, Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, in order to keep up with the newlyweds.

This was some really good historical fiction!  I don't remember ever reading about this side of French history and certainly know that I haven't read much  about The Terror.  Except maybe Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, but that was in high school and I hated every minute of it.  This, I really enjoyed.  Rose is such a strong character in my opinion.  No matter what life threw at her, she found some way (and not always taking the high road I might add) to survive and thrive.  Her devotion to her children was very poignant as well.  Rose's is truly an indomitable spirit.  I don't know how much of that was true in real life, but this novel sets her up to be a great Empress.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

in the interests of full disclosure

I am pettsitting til Sunday and it is a new client, though an old friend (they recently acquired a cute little pooch christened Zoolander).  

Um, yeah, so yesterday I managed to get Zoo and myself F#@KING lost in the wilds of Vestavia. 

After 2 HoUrS (!!!!) of walking up and down the biggest hills you can imagine outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee,  I gave up the ghost and called my coworkers at the library to mapquest me out of the assclown of a neighborhood I was currently slogging through.  

Turns out I was only about a mile from my destination but I. Was. Sick. Of. Walking.

Needless to say, we did not take that route again this morning. 

Aleve is my friend.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

still hangin' in there?

seriously guys, I haven't quit blogging!  I just can't seem to get uninterrupted time!  Too busy at work and too tired when I get home...a very sad state of affairs indeed.  But fear not, I'm taking notes on things these days because I can't remember events on my own.  I have a bit of a staycation coming up this weekend though so hopefully I can catch up with you and my book reviewing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hater by David Moody


One Thursday morning, Danny McCoyne witnesses a horrific attack...a man suddenly goes crazy in the street and murders an elderly woman by stabbing her in the gut with an umbrella.  He considers it a terrible act by an obvious lunatic, but doesn't think much of it beyond that.  Until such unsolicited attacks begin to happen again and again and again in a steadily widening arc around the city.  No one comes to help and the police and military are just as susceptible to the menace as regular citizens.  TV broadcasts dwindle and then cease, showing only a black screen with the message: Do not panic. Remain calm. Take shelter.  Wait for further instructions.  The situation is under control

This doesn't feel under control...as Danny and his family become fugitives in their own home, he wonders how long it will take for the Haters (the term given by the media to the maniacal killers) to reach his home.  The answer will take Danny beyond all limits he has ever known or could possibly imagine.

I found Hater reviewed briefly in a copy of Advance Magazine, one of the review journals my library uses for collection development.  The first sentence had me, "Optioned by Guillermo del Toro"  Anyone who has read this blog for long or knows me even a little knows the celebrity crush I have for this man's films.  I own all that I can get my grubby little hands on and am always eager for the next.  I love dystopian fiction just as I love a good disaster movie.  I have no idea why, I just do.  I love books that explore definitions of humanity and just what the boundaries of good v. evil may be.  This book takes a bleak, bloody, dark, brutal, unsentimental, and vicious look into the abyss and that abyss is staring hard right back.  It did steal quite a bit of Holocaust thunder there towards the end, but the author's point was well made so I won't give him too much of a hard time for spreading some of those emotions around.  Nice twists and contortions of good guys and bad guys.  Which is which?  It gets kind of hard to tell at the end of the book and I respect that.

This book is a hodge-podge of 28 Days Later, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, X-Men, The Road, and I Am Legend.  I can hardly wait for the second in the trilogy, Dog Blood, which is currently scheduled for release next year.  Check out David Moody's website!

What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Many people have brushed What I Did for Love off as a rip-off of the Jennifer Anniston-Brangelina affair and the similarities are hard to ignore.  This did not hinder my enjoyment of the story.  

Georgie York is having a bad day.  She has just found out, from a ravenous crowd of paparazzi, that her ex-husband and his new super-humanitarian wife, with whom he was having an affair before he left Georgie, are expecting their first child.  Georgie's former co-star in a much beloved comedy series, Bram Shephard, witnesses the fierce paparazzi attack and does nothing to help her.  A series of other humiliating events leads Georgie to plan a Vegas party trip with her best friend.  Her best friend unintentially stands her up for the trip and she, far too conveniently, runs into Bram.  He convinces her to go out and party with him, they get drunk and then these two staunch enemies wake up married.  Think about the Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz movie What Happens In Vegas.  Georgie talks Bram into going along with the marriage for a while in hopes that the paparazzi will leave her alone if they think she's moved on.  

Okay, this book got back to the SEP that I love!  WIDFL was still not up to some of her earlier books, especially the Bonner brothers, but I laughed out loud many a time and I loved these characters.  Georgie and Bram's sparring matches were right up there with any work she's done AND I read it in one sitting because I couldn't bear to put it down.  Phillips brought in characters from some of her other books and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them again, however briefly.  Some of the plot points are terribly transparent and some not as fully fleshed out as I would have liked, but over all I think SEP is getting back on track with this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

spring green!

Spring is nearly on us and there's no time like the present to clean and redecorate for a fresh start to 2009!  I've dipped once again into the generous font of ideas from my 1968 book, Decorating Ideas for Every Room in Your Home...check it out!

the description: "Fabrics lend flair to a living room made attractive and inviting by the well-planned juxtaposition of pattern, color, scale, and texture.  The key print, on a weave of Avisco rayon and cotton, is used to false-front an unattractive wall, and to freshen upholstered furniture and to frame a window.  Flooring is vinyl tile."

can you use "well-planned" and "juxtaposition" together in the same sentence?  Hence, "oxymoron"...at least in this instance.  If you have a touch of epilepsy, you might need to look away from this livingroom.  My favorite part?  The reflective light fixtures to each side of the mantel painting.  They're like flowery disco balls and they match the brass fireplace tool set so well...

What's your favorite part of this ensemble?

2 hours later...

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Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I wanted to read Coraline before seeing Coraline, and now I have!

Coraline discovers a secret door in her new house that takes her to another house almost just like the one she left. Almost, but not quite the same, everything seems to have a thin veneer of dislike and bad intention and the "other mother" there doesn't intend for Coraline to EVER get back home. The trusty black cat helps Coraline find her way home in this very unsettling children's book.

Despite the label on the back that says "Ages 8 and up," this would give nightmares of one kind or another to most of the 8 year olds I know. While the "other mother" seems innocuous enough at first save for her bright button eyes, she quickly devolves into a thin, dead-skinned, spidery, vaguely carnivorous beast that reminded me of the eye-in-the-palm creature from Pan's Labyrinth. In fact, this whole story seemed like a warped combo of Home Alone and Pan's Labyrinth. The ghost children kept referring to the "other mother" as a beldam so I had to look it up. I thought it was a typo of bedlam until it kept coming up, but a beldam is a hag or ugly evil looking old woman (using define: on Google). I love a new word :) I really like this slim little volume. It took me maybe an hour to read it and it was truly a bit creepy, even for me!

Run by Anne Patchett

Bernadette and her husband wanted a houseful of children but when that didn't happen, they adopted.  The two boys, Tip and Teddy, were perfect for them in every way.  If the neighbors were startled by a white couple adopting two black children, no one really said anything.  When Bernadette dies, Doyle does his best to raise their three children as Bernadette would have wanted but something gets lost in the shuffle.  Their natural child (is that the word for it) kind of gets lost in the shuffle as Doyle focuses on raising two little politicians just like him.  What he gets are a scientist and a shy young man interested in joining the Catholic clergy.  After dragging the two young men to yet another political rally, Tip decides to put his foot down about attending any more.  During their arguement, Tip edges backward away from his father and unknowingly steps into the street, not seeing the oncoming headlights.  Tip is pushed out of the way by an unknown savior but her identity soon comes to light, changing Doyle's and his sons' lives forever.

I liked Run much better than I did Bel Canto, but it wasn't a terribly exciting novel.  There were no heartbreaking lows (despite the serious subject matter) and no soul-lifting highs (despite the relatively satisfying ending).  It was alot like digitally remastered music...you are left with pretty good music but all the high and low points have sort of been shaved off.  There was no character to hate and I didn't love any of them either.  Have I come to expect too much drama from my books, maybe?  Who knows?

Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey

Menolly figures into the last of the Harper Hall Trilogy only tangentially, Dragondrums is really Piemur's story.  

Piemur was Menolly's first friend in the Harper Hall and one of the youngest apprentices in the Hall due to his voice.  He is one of the most talented singers to be trained there.  Unfortunately, Piemur is of a certain age and his voice is changing.  He doesn't really have another talent other than getting into trouble.  Will he be sent away from the Hall in disgrace?  If not, what could the Master Harper possibly have in mind for him?  The answer will be the greatest adventure of Piemur's life and will ask of him the one thing few think him capable of...secrecy.  Will Piemur be able to find a new place in the Hall while adulthood settles on him?  Finish up the Harper Hall Trilogy and find out for yourself!

all good things and all that

oh well, the sun came out and all that magic snowiness is sloughing off like so much dead skin...

Hopefully the roads will be dry by nightfall, there won't be any ice on the roads tomorrow, and my mom and I can still gad about tomorrow for birthday fun!

I came back in and took a shower to warm up my cold feet, had lunch and am not planning to budge from the house til tomorrow.  I have a strenuous hot chocolate schedule to maintain :)

I heard the volunteer fire department truck down the street leave out while I was out and I don't plan to be part of their problems.  We just don't do snow driving down here.  I'll be 32 tomorrow and it has only snowed and iced up once in my driving life.  I'm sure I could learn how to drive in those conditions but there's no opportunity.

To those who've had a snow day, keep the fun going!  To those for whom snow is a fact of life, sorry! :-)

catching spring by surprise

the poor little spring blossoms got caught!
not all areas got accumulation, product of last week's balmy temps and fridays thunderstorms
Me, bundled up!
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winter wonderland

the first footsteps on my porch, it was over the tops of my shoes!

I hated to mess up the snow, but fun must be had!

the snow didn't hold together so well so this is all I could manage before I got frustrated :) No snowangels because, as you can see, right below Alabama snow is good ol' Alabama mud! Not surprising since it was nearly 70 degrees last week and rained fit to die all day on Friday.

You can tell snow doesn't really belong here because the pine trees always look so sad and depressed coated in snow and ice :-)
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thank you, really!

But, snow on my birthday (or day before it, anyway!)??? Really, this is too much! :-) I haven't seen this much snow in YeArS! I'm about to go out and play so you'll see more pictures later no doubt! I took the above photo (of my front yard) when I woke up this morning around 7:30 and the one below (my back yard) just a few minutes ago!

Oh well, snowpeople await!
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