Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

mom's new puppy, MAN

The chihuahua is my Aunt Cathy's dog, Chiquita and the other is my mom's new pup, MAN! This pic is almost two months old so he's three times that size now, but he looks much the same. Mom isn't having him groomed or trimmed, she just brushes him everyday and he very much resembles a mop...if a mop was a wiggly, licky, happy little thing. He's so sweet!

Posted by Picasa

culinary experiment

Well, the Amish cinnamon bread that I've been making quite deliciously for months now flopped this morning, but these little beauties, in addition to being picture perfect, are scrumptious! I talked my bookgroup into reading Jonah Lehrer's Proust Was a Neuroscientist for our October meeting so I thought I'd try making madeleines in honor of the event. I wanted to try it out first to make sure I wasn't going to embarrass myself and I am SO not going to be embarrassed!

Don't worry guys! I'm bringing them to work tomorrow!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

Alabama Moon has been raved about alot here in Alabama, obviously. Not only is it set in Alabama (1980's), but it is also written by an Alabama author!

Ten year old Moon knows nothing of the outside world. His mother died when he was 2 and he has lived in the forest with his government-hating, survivalist father all his life. His only contact outside the forest has been the general store in town where his father barters for necessities with the vegetables they grow. After an accident leaves his father very sick, he tells Moon to head to Alaska after he dies to look for other people who live like they do. To Moon's amazement, the outside world won't stand for a 10 year-old boy to live on his own and the chase is on. All his father's horror stories about authority ring distressingly clear for young Moon and all he wants is to be left alone. It is only after he is caught and sent to an orphanage that Moon begins to think that maybe being alone is not the best thing after all.

This book was really, really good! I listened to it and the narrator really brought these characters to life. I felt so sorry for Moon all along. I feel like if just one adult had sat down and had a grown up conversation with him from the onset (grown up conversation was all he'd ever known) instead of treating him like a child and scaring him by chasing him around, then most of his travails could have been avoided. Of course, that would have been a very short and very boring book. While it is relatively short, it is not boring by any means.

The age range Amazon recommends is Grades 6-8 and I don't disagree. The only thing here that sensitive groups might be concerned about is some mild cursing. You have your damns, hells, sombitches (I don't know how it's spelled in the book, that's my phonetic interpretation from the audio), and the like. Some of the adults drink and chew tobacco. I can think of nothing else anyone would be concerned about. I wish, wish, wish the local schools would put this on their summer reading lists. I think some great discussions could come out of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

let me give you my helping hand...

A friend of mine at work has been inundated with phishing emails for several months now. No one can quite figure out why but it has been highly amusing from time to time. Here is a very special email he received this week:

Aloha, my gentleman

I am a very open-minded and cheerful girl. I appreciate life as an invaluable gift. I believe in the eternity and love God. I am creative by nature, aspire harmony and perfection in everything. I am independent, have my own opinion and act as I think I should. I am an intelligent person, but I will always obey and agree with the wise and noble decision. I enjoy museums, theatre and reading. I am active and practice yoga, run every evening, swim regularly, enjoy travel to mountains and dancing with romantic music. I am a cheerful and sociable young lady. Mainly all the time I am in a good mood. I can tell that I am a little bit stubborn, I like when everything is the way I like. I value my close people and my friends, if they need my help I will turn myself upside down to give them my helping hand. I like to go to the cinema and theatre. I like traveling by car with my friends. I am fond of sport and I often go to the gym and I like skating. I wish to open my own store of nice underwear. I am looking for a honest, intelligent man, kind, able to support his family.

Yourth faithfully

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Binky is stressing me OUT!

I got one mouse right off the bat and have seen/heard no physical signs of another one. The only thing is, Binky still continues to stake out the appliances in the kitchen. She sniffs around and hunkers down to wait and I have no idea if she's just anticipating more activity or there's another one running around. I know they don't usually come in singly, but after the first one I kept Bink locked up and left the traps out for a couple more days before taking up the traps and letting her back out. After a few of her stake out sessions, I got the fantods, locked her in my room last night and put the traps back out. Dhe yowled, and I mean YOOOOOOWLED,

I was so pissed AND tired AND grumpy today. To the unfortunates I had to work with today, I hope I hid it well.

I don't know what else to do. I have no money to hire a pest control service. Is it ever okay to live with a certain amount of mousiness? Should I just get over it? Has anyone else been through this before and have any advice for me? Pretty please?!?!

On another note, my radio interview aired at 10:30pm this past Sunday. I informed very few people because, in the event it sucked, I didn't want my whole social circle to have heard it. I tuned in promptly at 10:30 as the email from the interviewer had instructed...and the program was half over, my part having already passed. I admit I was relieved I did not have to hear and judge myself. My colleague who was also in the interview said it was great. I'll take that and not feel compelled to test her judgment. You'll all be happy to know that the interview involved absolutely no vomit on my part!

If you will direct your attention to the "My Success" sidebar item, you'll notice that I have very nearly broken into the 200's! I'm terribly excited! That is 86 pounds gone since Feb 2008. Not a great rate of loss, but I'm doing my best!

gotta go, must sleep.

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans

George Davies has sought professional help for a troubling problem. He cannot bring himself to hold his infant son. He admits to his therapist that this is not his first time to sit in a therapist's chair.

The doctor gives George a set of blank notebooks to journal in and a terrifying story emerges of an eleven year old boy who meets a Friend no one else can see who tells him things no one else can hear. Is this troubling past merely the result of his father's recent death, the bullies at school, or is something more sinister at work?

A Good and Happy Child came very, very close to scaring me, but overexplanation ruined it for me in the end and I found myself slightly disappointed again. Zippy recommended this to me because she loved it so much. I have no idea why I wasn't scared out of my wits other than there was too much discussion of the events and not enough action. My imagination didn't have enough to go on since the author supplied so much backstory and explanation of the phenomena. Has anyone else encountered this problem? Show me the monster, and chances are good that I lose interest. Let me imagine the monster for myself and I will be up the rest of the night.

I hope I have not given the impression that I did not like this book because that is not true! It definitely gave me the fantods on several occasions and I basically read it in one sitting, finishing up around midnight. While I didn't really have any problems going (and staying) peacefully asleep, I don't recommend this method :-) AGAHC is a great first effort and I will most definitely read his next book! Justin Evans is one to watch!

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

One of my friends has been recommending The Art of Racing in the Rain to me since before publication and I'm ashamed that I've just now got around to it because I LOVED IT! What a story!

Enzo is a dog and he is the narrator of this story. His owner, Denny Swift, is a semi-professional race car driver seeking fame and fortune. Enzo constantly laments his lack of voice and opposable thumbs. He makes commentary on life, reincarnation, love, and happiness while sticking by Denny through some of the worst possible life experiences and offering the reader his own brand of philosophy, gleaned from a lifetime of listening to the conversations of others without being able to contribute your own opinions.

"That which you manifest is before you."

"Your car goes where your eyes go."

Sounds silly, but Enzo will change your mind, maybe even your life, if you give him half a chance. Just to give you a heads-up in the beginning, this is not a comedy....a dark night of the soul (for Denny especially, with Enzo providing the moral support) would be a more apt description but it is SO worth your time. I plan on giving this book to my Dad for Christmas.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

As if to make up for the last couple of disappointments, along came The School of Essential Ingredients! D-lite-full!

This sweet, simple tale revolves around the owner (and namesake) of Lillian's Restaurant and the small, elite cooking school she runs. I don't remember the duration of the class, but it meets once a month on a monday night and each class meeting takes us through the life story of several of the class members. You get a bit of Lillian's backstory but the bulk of it involves the students. Helen and Carl are an older couple who have been married for many years, though that marriage has not always run smoothly. Claire is a young mother of a toddler and new baby who is experiencing some panic as her life begins to revolve around those new loves. Tom still steeps in the sadness of losing his wife to breast cancer a few years ago. Antonia is a kitchen designer from Italy trying to come to terms with her new life in America. These are just a few of the people learning alot more than principles of cooking in Lillian's class.

I told Katie, this is a book I will buy and keep on my coffee table to read when I'm feeling glum. It cheered me up and made me seriously want to take Lillian's class...if she were not a made up person, obviously. I don't know how much of this is actually attributable to the book or the Julia Child high I'm still on from the Julie & Julia movie. It's a toss up, and I don't care who wins!

The Seance by John Harwood

Constance Langton has known tragedy in her young life. Her younger sister died as a toddler and her mother never recovered from that loss. Her father was a very distant, and absent, man who offered no affection for she or her mother. In her quest to draw her mother out of her melancholy, Constance decides to fake the act of channeling her dead sister's spirit. Unfortunately for Constance, nothing good can come of that. On another note (and in one of the story's more awkward shifts), a very distant cousin dies and leaves a deserted mansion to her closest living female relative, Constance. The lawyer arrives to tell her about her inheritance and leaves her with some good advice: sell the property, enjoy what money is left from paying it's debts, and NEVER go there. The lawyer ends up leaving her a pack of papers detailing his association with the creepy house and its very strange succession of former owners and this nested storytelling makes up the bulk of the book. As you can imagine, the two stories blend toward the end of the novel but in a somewhat heavy-handed manner.

I tried again for a scary book to count towards the R.I.P. Challenge with The Seance and again I lost that battle. I do not blame John Harwood for this especially. There were good characters here and an interesting, if somewhat convoluted premise. The main problem I had was that this book was eerily similar to Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, which I loved. I will leave it to Mr. Harwood and Ms. Waters to duke out that one, but TLS is clearly the superior of the two, exhibited not least by the fact that it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize just a couple of weeks ago. In comparison, The Seance was somewhat unwieldy and inelegant. I do plan to read his other title, Ghost Writer, because I did like The Seance. I just did not find it to be very scary.

Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts by Laura Benedict

Um, okay. I grabbed Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts intending to count it toward both the 100+ Reading Challenge AND the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Reading Challenge but I can barely stand to admit that I finished it. I hate, hate, hate to say something bad about a book, but I just don't have anything good to say. This book is about 3 girls who get a priest defrocked for crimes of a sexual nature. The priest then gets a demon to exact revenge on the adults the young girls have grown into. That's right. The priest who, as a boy murders someone as he and his mother escape from Cuba, then as an adult, sleeps with a 13 year-old girl, is the victim here. The revenge the demon takes for the priest is of a sexual nature as well.

I admit right up front that I've read plenty of books in which dark, disturbing things take place and while I got the fantods, was grossed out, was disturbed by the images in those books, I've never really felt the distaste that came up with this one. If that was the author's intention, then she hit the nail squarely on the head. However, the characters all felt so flat to me. I didn't care for any of them and none had any redeeming qualities. One Amazon reviewer says it best, "...who is there to hope the devil doesn't punish?" Not recommended.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

To the outside world, Ed is not much to look at. He is 19 (though his employer thinks he’s 20), unathletic, ambivalent, unmotivated, and drives a taxi for a living. He has three good friends (Marv, Richie, and Audrey) with whom he plays cards occasionally. He has one exceptionally smelly dog, The Doorman. His more successful siblings have all moved out of this tiny Australian town, leaving him to the very strained relationship he maintains with their mother. He works, he sleeps, and he drinks coffee with The Doorman. That’s about it…until the first ace arrives in his mailbox. Three addresses are written on the playing card. Four aces equal twelve mysteries and Ed will find the answer to his questions only after he visits each one.

This book, along with all Markus Zusak’s novels, is in our young adult collection but, for this one especially, I would recommend for mature readers only (language, sexual situations, violence, mature theme...does that sound too much like the MPAA?).

I have avowed since my first reading of this book that I would place an "I Love Ed Kennedy" bumper sticker on my car just to see who got the reference. A perfect blend of reality and magical realism, I am the Messenger is a feel-good book though the ending does seem a bit forced, like Zusak got all the way to the last couple of pages and just wasn't sure what to do with it. Until that point, I was mesmerized. The language is gorgeous, even the angry bits, and littered with Australian...lingo? Colloquialisms? Whatever the word is. There are beautiful turns on phrase like "their voices slammed and the door shouted shut". I'm pulling that from memory so please allow for mistakes :-) Anyway, imagine a virtual standing ovation sound effect overlaying this discussion and you'll have my opinion!

Monday, September 21, 2009

excitement and adventure

I have only been to Disney World one time and that was 18 years ago, but I am SeRiOuSlY considering going back for this...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

There is a mullet in the library. I repeat, a mullet in the library.

that is all.

except, that perhaps I should direct the gentleman to this website.

that is really all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Poe goes online!

As you know, Poe is my dead celebrity best friend!!! Nice to know I can read it anywhere and any time I long as I have access to the interwebs of course :-)

Poe archive from UT Austin goes online: "Lori sez, 'UT Austin's Ransom Center has digitized their Edgar Allan Poe collection, and it's pretty cool. I especially like the copies of his books, with his notes in them.'

Oh, there's tons of Poe treasure here. I'm in hog heaven.

The digital collection incorporates images of all Poe manuscripts and letters at the Ransom Center with a selection of related archival materials, two books by Poe annotated by the author, sheet music based on his poems, and portraits from the Ransom Center collections. Poe's manuscripts and letters are linked to transcriptions on the website of the Poe Society of Baltimore.

The Edgar Allan Poe Digital Collection

(Thanks, Lori!)


truth and consequences

I admit it. I did not exercise this morning! I did not sleep very well (see the P.S. on yesterday's post. I will not vomit. I will not vomit. I will not vomit.) and I had both heartburn and a stomachache. An all around stellar Monday morning if I do say so myself. I was only up about 3 pounds so that was a blessing since I was expecting something worse. I can easily handle that as long as I don't stray too far from the right choices this week.

I did bring a t-shirt and some shorts so if it is not raining in 15 minutes, I will break out my Mp3 player and go for a brisk walk before eating lunch. I brought some white bean chili, turnip greens, squash, and a salad. I won't be going home right after work so I even packed a turkey sandwich and some baked chips and fruit to eat for dinner so I won't be compelled to eat fast food.

Yay me.

I have some index cards and am about to make some notes for the inner circle of hell tomorrow's radio interview. A good friend, who was once in the radio business himself, advised me to pretend that I am not talking to a radio audience but to the one person who will conduct the interview. Just forget you're on the radio. Easier said than done. Am I naive to hope that this is not a live spot? I forgot to ask about that.

I say again, with feeling: I will not vomit. I will not vomit. I will not vomit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the definition of procrastination

I have 5 books to review and I feel like a tool because that's all I seem to do here at Holley's House anymore. Not that it isn't a good thing to do, but this is Holley's House, not Holley's Book Review Blog. So, while books are certainly an important part of my house, there is so much more here...or at least I want there to be. I'm certainly going to try to do better.

In an extremely ADD/oh look there's a chicken/I like glitter move, I'm going to change the subject drastically!

Katie invited her mom, her sister, and I over on Saturday for margaritas and to view some recent super special home improvements. The new carpets were v.v. nice and Doug's margaritas were RoCkIn (as usual!) so after dinner we obviously had to celebrate our tequila buzzes with a few rounds of Mad Libs! Do you know of the wondrous Mad Libs? If not, get thee to a Cracker Barrel or book store and ask for them by name! This was the Adult Mad Libs version so we kept having to shoo the girls out every now and then as the fun sometimes strayed into more crass areas but it was SO much fun! Zippy got all of the funniest rounds. Either my reading or my luck was rotten with all of the ones I filled in and read but even those got us to giggling. I'm hoping Katie might blog one of the more innocuous but funny stories. We'll see.

Can I tell you just how much I hate having to ask my mother for money? A-LOT! It was just enough for a few groceries and gasoline until payday on Friday but it is still very humiliating to just barely miss supporting yourself. I have got to get my more frivolous spending habits under control but I have become accustomed, over the past several years, to having just enough money to pay my bills and do a few fun things but now those few fun things are not quite so easy to come by but I still feel entitled to them. If the weather will just cool off enough to make the grass quit growing, I'd free up $200-$300 a month. Now that I type this, that must be where the majority of my extra money is going.

I may have to break down and get a lawn mower next summer...maybe a little cheap one this winter if I find one on sale. I'll just have to buckle down and do it myself. I did do it before I started grad school but I didn't have time afterward and fell into the habit of letting someone else go to the trouble. Now I'm two years removed from graduation and the thoughts of resuming the task are odious. With a push mower (like I can afford), I have to cut the grass every 6 days and it takes me two week days to do it or a half day on the weekend. At least it was good exercise.

I did not have a good week food choise-wise and it will no doubt show in the morning's weigh in. I'm not going to get all hung up on it since I'm about 80 pounds down since Feb 2008 and it would be foolish to go off the deep end because I had a bad week. I think I'll read The End of Overeating again to re-adjust my scope, so to speak.

I'm reading The Art of Racing in the Rain right now and there is a great quote that sort of runs throughout the book from the perspective of several characters: "That which you manifest is before you." So true. I've really got to work on what I'm manifesting for myself because it isn't heading in a great direction right now. I'm stressed about my money, I'm 99.9% sure I have a mouse under my dishwasher, and I'm eating everything in sight like that sand-devouring Transformer from the last movie. I've come too far to have a serious stumble now.

So, exercise in the morning! Ask me about it if I don't post it here first thing in the morning!

P.S. Oh yeah! I'm also freaking completely out because a fellow librarian and I are doing a radio interview on Tuesday morning about Alabama's statewide Big Read next spring. I will not vomit. I will not vomit. I will not vomit.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Readers Imbibing Peril

It's that time of year again folks! Time for the R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) Reading Challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings! As usual, I have selected Peril the First, which is a commitment to read 4 books of horror or any subgenre of horror!

Doh! I finished Abandon too soon!

These books will also count towards the 100+ Reading Challenge I'm participating in over at J. Kaye's Book Blog so my count for the year will continue to creep up!

I don't have a set list of books but I'm gathering possibilities as we speak.

The Contenders so far:

Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts by Laura Benedict
Afraid by Jack Kilborn
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
The Shining by Stephen King
Vengeance Child by Simon Clark
The Seance by John Harwood
Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels

I only have to read four before October 31, 2009 so this is a pool to select from but I may get around to them all before the year is done!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

dog days of summer

and luckily, we're not really in them right now because my heatpump stopped working sometime yesterday while I was at work. It was about 85 degrees in the house when I got home so I turned it off and hoped it would reconsider while I was at work today. No such luck so I'll have another sleepless night in the stifling house.

I have 4 fans to battle it with AND Katie graciously offered me accomodation for the evening but the repairman promised I'd be the first stop in the morning so I want to be on hand to see what the damage is. I'm currently going through my random stacks of paper records to see if I can find the receipt from where I replaced the unit a couple of years ago. Not that it has a snowball's chance in hell of still being under warranty, but I'd just like to know.

I really wanted to get back in the car, drive to an air conditioned restaurant, and console myself with food I can't afford, but I battled it back. There's no need to punish myself for something I can't control. My mom has offered to pay for the repairs since I can't. As often as we disagree and for all the fights we've had about horrible things in the past, I don't know what I'd do without her. I'll just tell her to consider this my Christmas and birthday presents combined.

This incident just goes to reiterate how much harder I need to work at some sort of nest egg. It's never really worked out for me in the past because something like this just keeps cropping up every time I think I'm approaching a level point. I seriously wish some of my petsitting clients would call. I have a couple of jobs lined up for Oct and Nov but that's just too far off to help me. I say that, but I don't want new clients. I just want the ones I already have to suddenly need to leave town for two weeks...on alternating schedules of course :-)

Doesn't anyone have a pet I can look after?