Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I finally read the third in a set of books by Lois Lowry, the final one being "The Messenger."
Oh, how I liked this book. What a wonderful YA read. The Village where Matty moved to, (Matty of "Gathering Blue") is a wonderfully accepting village. Unlike the city of "The Giver" with its sterile, clean society unaccepting of any defects or handicaps, and unlike the town in "Gathering Blue" with its mean, dirt roads, angry people and disgust of all born with defects, the Village welcomes all with open arms.
Matty has a gift. A power he keeps secret. A healing power he uses but at great risk to himself.
Something sinister is seeping into the Village. The Forest is acting badly, hurting people, being infected by this evil too. The Villagers are trading things (their souls, their generous spirits, what?) for possessions. They are poisoned and want to close the gates to outsiders forever.
Matty is tasked with getting Kira ('Gathering Blue' protagonist) from her village before the Forest completely shuts the Village in from outsiders. The journey is dangerous and on their way back, the Forest hurts them, almost kills them. Almost. Matty saves them all.
I cried. I got up from the couch and went to my bedroom and cried. I didn't want to explain to Isabel why mommy was crying or to Jacob why his mom's a dork. It was a great, heart-wrenching ending.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The books are about a Louisiana waitress with the power to read minds, which makes everyone she knows think she's pretty much a nut. She can't date because she finds it difficult knowing what the guys she dates are thinking about. Her world is full of vampires. They came "out of the coffin" two years prior to the start of the book series, and the world is still reeling from the implications. The vampires that came out want equal rights and have stated that since the Japanese have come up with a blood substitute that provides for all their nutritional needs, they don't need to feed on humans. Most people, though, do not believe this. Eat tofu every day of your life after being a carnivore and let them know how it goes for you. Other vampires are mad that they've been "outed" and lie low.
In Sookie's bar walks in a vampire. She immediately knows he's one; she can't read his mind. All is calm. The books deal with Sookie, Vampire Bill and all the crazy cast of characters she meets by becoming involved with Bill.
These books are not for the young. There are sex scenes, death and blood galore, which is pretty much why I don't feel like reviewing them. They're not as sexually graphic as the Laurel K. Hamilton "Anita Blake" series, which I stopped reading. I mean, come ON. The books took a left turn to porn, oh, around book 6 or 7 and David and I both agreed we were done with them.
HBO also came out with a series based on the books, called "True Blood," named after the most popular brand of synthetic blood on the market for vampires, 'Tru Blood.' The series tries to stay close to the books, but does make major changes with character development, making some characters (Tara) that in the books are just background people into main characters and not killing off people (Lafayette - well, not yet anyway), and adding people that I have not even read about yet (Amy? Not sure where she comes from, or if she's even in any of the books I have not read yet. I am on # 4).
Also, the accents are killing me (Anna does not do a good job, I am sorry. But I love how Vampire Bill says "Sookie."). This is HBO, though, so BIG TIME sexual content, language and gore! If sex scenes make you squeamish, do not watch this show. Season two just started two weeks ago, and Season 1 is available on dvd to rent from Netflix or Blockbuster. Not the best show HBO has ever done, a bit campy, but not bad.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The recent onslaught of social networks (MySpace, Face Book, Twitter, Blogger, etc.) has opened our world to better communications with our family, long-lost friends, high school and college classmates, as well as new people with similar interests. It is terrific to be able to catch up with old friends, update the family on what you're up to and be able to share your hobbies and interests.
It's also opened up people's inhibitions, which is usually not so good.
I am not sure if you've ever noticed, but I rarely rarely ever mention work on a public forum. I may mention what I had for lunch, or what I did on a break, or a kind thing someone at work did or said. What I won't do is complain about work. I won't say anything negative. I pretty much won't say anything, either way. Do you know what I do for a living? Nope. It's private and no one needs to know either way how much I either love/hate/am indifferent/whatever about work.
You will also never see me being crude or posting nasty things. The inside of my brain may need a good soap scrubbing, and I have been known to say "crap" and "damn." (Ooooh, I said them again!) I won't post about getting drunk. Granted, I rarely drink; wine coolers occasionally and mudslides maybe twice a year, but if I did, you would not know about it. You will not see me posting any provocative photos (unless it's like my booby cake - lol).
All of this is just not in me. My main reasoning can be summed up best by something someone on Atlas Quest (letterboxing site) posted recently. To paraphrase it:
Don't post anything you would not want your Priest, your Mom or your Boss to see.
I think this is brilliant. Don't make yourself look bad in front of these people. When I come home and surf the web in the evening, I'll see derogatory work posts being posted, during work hours. I like that I have a job, especially now. Or posting pictures of themselves in compromising positions, while they are "friends" on-line with their mom. I cringe seeing these things.
Don't post anything you would not want your Priest, your Mom or your Boss to see.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We were very messy.
Into the microwave it went.
This came out, and we CRACKED UP! Mo called it "Marge Simpson's hair." I won't repeat what the kids called it.
The Shack by William P. Young is a book I picked up mainly because it was on the NY Times Best Seller list. I browse their lists from time to time when looking for something new to read. I ordered it from Paperbackswap.com. As I was waiting for it to arrive, a friend of mine posted on her blog that she was SO not interested in this book, that she never finished it.
Dismay! She and I usually agree on books (except for the Woman in White).
This book is the story about a loving family man who loses one of his daughter one day while on a weekend camping trip, to a serial murderer. His daughter's clothes and blood are found in a desolate shack, her body never is.
Four years have passed and Mack is still feeling The Great Sadness. He and his family strive to move forward, but he is SO ANGRY with God, who his wife affectionately calls "Papa," as her relationship with Him is so very close. One afternoon, Mack gets a letter in the mailbox, from "Papa," asking him to meet Him at the shack where his daughter was murdered.
The book deals a lot with spirituality, the trinity, divinity. People have complained about it; he's got it all wrong; he's heretical.; God is not a black Southern woman.
People. It's a book. Take from it what you will, leave the rest. I'm pretty sure the God-as-a-Black Woman thing is a metaphor for the comfort Mack needed at the time. A female nurturer. Later we see God as a man, when Mack needs strength. The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman, Jesus is a carpenter from the middle-east. Mack interacts with all three, who are really one.
The book goes through a lot of themes and explanations about the trinity that I did not understand. The writing was a touch trite (says the lady who has never written a novel, I know!) and the writing very contemporary. And yet, I found myself crying through Mack's painful journey, dealing with not only the loss of his daughter but the abuse of his father whom he left at age 15.
I remember when the "Harry Potter" books came out and religious leaders were up in arms. "It has magic and wizards, it is evil!" I don't understand that line of thinking. It's a book and I know that I am not feeble-minded and think it's real.
"The Shack" is not a Bible, not grand literature, but the story was compelling to me. You take from it what you will, leave the rest.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Ahhh, yes. My 15-year-old son's Maxim Magazine second copy was the one to contain the note. Thanks SO much for the notice.
I did write for a refund and asked what exactly were they thinking. I also wrote a letter to the editor of my newspaper.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Happy Father's Day!
We went to a late lunch/early dinner at Olive Garden - David's choice. Then we went into a new mattress store to check them out and ended up buying a full mattress for Isabel, so we can convert her toddler bed into a full-size bed. We'll get delivery tomorrow evening some time.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I walk in the house holding the magazine by its corners, as if it's carrying a disease and yell "Someone want to tell me WHY my 15 year old son is getting MAXIM MAGAZINE?!?!?!"
My son raises his hands in front of him to ward off my ire. "Whoa, not me!" he exclaims. My husband David just looks confused. No one knows what this is about apparently.
As most of my Facebook friends can attest to, I was mad. The cogs in my brain start to grind. His DAD! No wait! One of my crazy sisters!! I text message my sisters and nephew while Jacob calls his dad. They all deny it (and I'm pretty sure I offended them in the process. Sorry sisters and nephew - although one of them did joke "Why didn't *I* think of that?).
The magazine had a website I could go to, to check out the account. I go on, enter some random numbers from the front of the address label and see my son's name, MY e-mail address and a one-year subscription having been paid in May 2009 through May 2010. WHO did this? WHO knows my e-mail address?
I fire off an e-mail to their customer service department, asking them who had decided that my 15-year old son would be getting a subscription of Maxim magazine and to cancel it immediately.
Next day, I receive this reply:
Dear Ms. M,
A review of your account shows that the reminder of your Electronic Gaming
Monthly subscription was transferred to Maxim. We cancelled your subscription as
you requested. You may receive one or two more issues.
Wow. So, because the magazine we did subscribe to, EGM, went out of business 6 months into our paid year, rather than ask me, rather than getting something like this
they send him THIS???
FOR REAL?? What brain trust at the publishing company decided this? How many mothers of 10, 11, 12 year olds are getting this "surprise" as well?
Here's my questions to you: Is listening to a book on tape or CD "reading" a book?
I don't know. I sometimes catch myself saying I "read" a book that I actually just listened to. I listen to books in the car on the way to and from work all the time. I just don't know if I consider it "reading."
What do you all think? Take my poll over to the right, and leave me a comment too, if you'd like.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Yes, this is actually a book. A hysterical, hysterical book, especialy when read right after Pride and Prejudice. This is how the back reads:
JANE AUSTEN is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and other masterpieces of English literature. SETH GRAHAME-SMITH once took a class in English literature. He lives in Los Angeles.
*snort* This is pretty much the vein of this book; tongue firmly planted in cheek. The story is almost exactly the same. Same characters, same events, except they fight zombies a lot.
The formal dance, where we first meet Bingley and Mr. Darcy harshly dismisses Elizabeth? Yea, zombie attack.
There's a deadly plague causing zombies to sprout everywhere and it's the norm now. The Bennett sisters are trained in the Chinese Ninja arts. I loved all the random Chinese references to their training thrown in. When they are at Lady Catherine's beautiful estate, Lady Catherine does not ask Miss Bennett to show off her piano and singing talents, no. She is asked to show off her marial arts skills in a battle to death with Lady Catherine's private Ninjas.
It's FUN. And with pictures! It's supposed to be ridiculous and I laughed out loud a lot. This book proudly sits right next to my "Pride and Prejudice" copy on my book shelf.
The eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth Bennett, are truly lovely young ladies; intelligent, demure, proper, cordial, courteous, etc. etc. The other 3 daughters are all foolishness and embarrassment, as is their mother, their cringe-worthy mother.
The story deals with these girls, who do not have much money to their name. As their father did not have a male heir, the estate will go to a distant male cousin, leaving the 5 daughters homeless and poor, so their mother is forever trying to get them married. Problem is, with a mother and sisters as these, no one will go near them. They are an embarrassment.
Enter new single, rich neighbor, Mr. Bingley, with his sisters and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley is kind and generous, enjoying his new country life, while his sisters and friends are rude, mean and disdainful of these country bumpkins, and make sure their pride shows through.
"Pride and Prejudice" is a great tale about the manners and prejudices involved in falling or not falling for someone not in your station. It's about misunderstandings, changes of hearts, incredibly stupid mothers and sisters, and love winning out in the end over riches and class.
I enjoyed this one tremendously and recommend you read it.
I also rented the BBC version of P&P, which I thought was MUCH better than the Keira Knightly newer version.
And in his vein, I now present my review of: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!!
Friday, June 12, 2009
She has decided that her Lion play mask needed a hair cut.
I get Jake to go bring the vacuum from downstairs and tell her she needs to clean up her mess. The thing is, this is not some kind of lesson about the consequences of her actions, Noooo. This child believes the vacuum cleaner is the greatest thing ever.
I ain't lion to you!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Another book by the author of Wicked, Gregory Maguire's "Mirror Mirror" is his skewed version of the Snow White story.
Set in 1500's Italy, we find a young girl, Bianca De Nevada (literal translation: White of Snow) living with her loving widowed father on an isolated piece of farmland. There are "dwarves" (almost rock-like creatures), a woodsman, a wicked woman (not a step-mom) and the wicked woman's brother, a mirror (that does not talk) and a quest for the apples from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
The wicked woman is Lucrezia Borgia. I wished I had known more about her before I read the book. She's a real person in history, thrown into the book as a vain, incestuous evil creation. Her real story is very sordid, and it would have added more depth to the reading of this book. As it was, I was a little bored with the book, and again, wished I had read on the Borgia family before reading this one.
Mr. Maguire's books are usually a little dark. As I said about "Wicked," this is not your mother's 'Wizard of Oz', or in this case, 'Snow White.' It's dark and adult.
You are looking at one excited lady. (Ok, you're not looking at me. If you were looking at me, you'd see me wearing my daughter's Mickey Ears hat, which she insists on plopping on my head when I get home.) You are reading the enthusiastic typings of one excited lady.
I signed up for a cake decorating class at Michaels! I'm like, giddy-excited. I'm a dork, whatever.
The class meets Monday nights for two hours, four Mondays in a row. My goal is to learn how to work with other mediums beside fondant. This class deals with basic decorating with icing. It may seem trivial to some, but for me, it's exciting.
This past Monday was my first class. Monday was an insane day. I overbooked myself. First, the previous Friday, our CEO's secretary called to ask if we were available for dinner with the CEO. Sure, I said, 5:30 p.m. is fine. After hanging up with her, I remembered the class at 6:30 p.m., which is 40 minutes away from where my office is and where dinner would be. I immediately called her back to reschedule for 5 p.m. instead.
Then, I also remembered I had a baby shower to go to. Oh, and I'm making the cake. Eeeep!
Dinner started promptly at 5 p.m. I excused myself at 5:45 from the table and drove the 35-40 minutes to the Michael's nearer to my home for the class.
The instructor was nice and enthusiastic. He asked the 7 of us in the class why we were there, & I explained my making cakes with fondant and wanting to learn something else. He was impressed and said that the cake-decorating business is trending towards fondant and pretty soon, all his classes would probably just be for fondant decorating.
I'm a little grossed out by the "buttercream" icing we have to make but I get why. We're making non-dairy icing so it won't spoil for the four-week class. It's made with vegetable shortening, powdered sugar, water, butter flavor and vanilla. I'm kind-of wigged out. "Buttercream" containing no butter. LOL
The class ended at 8:30. The baby shower started at 8. David brought the cake with him (the party was for his co-worker) and I met him at Isabel at the party around 9:15 p.m. The cake was a hit.
Then I got hit up to make a wedding cake for someone I don't know! Eeeeeep! I told her I was not sure I could, but I'd play around with the design she said she drew up. She's a friend of David's boss, and will give the drawing to the boss, to give to David. We'll see!!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
*singing to herself* I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way..
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
In May, my sister asked me to carve a teeny stamp to fit in a self-stamping machine. Her hubby had a machine from a closed business account that he no longer needed. She peeled off the stamp inside and sent it to me for size reference. She wanted her name on it. OK. I can't do letters well either. I know, what CAN I carve?
Having this week off, I decided to tackle the small name stamp. I worked at it as best I could. As I was reaching in the box that I keep my carving tools, ink pads, etc in, I pulled out the abandoned Prince stamp. Jake was with me and said "Whoa." I said something like "I know. It stinks." He replies "No, I mean it's good."
I take it back out and notice that, ignoring his right side where I royally messed up his eye, the left side is not bad. I take my X-acto knife and chop off Prince's right side (sorry Prince) and came up with a decent stamp for her.
I mailed them to her and she received them today. She was ECSTATIC! She remembered the little name stamp but had forgotten about the Prince stamp. She was hyper over it, wanting to post it for her friends, but her computer died and she was trying to find a place to upload the pictures.
This one was about 2 inches wide by 1/2 an inch tall. Like I said, I hate carving letters but she loved it.
Here's Mister Prince.
Job transfers took Julie and her family (2 kids and hubby) to N. Carolina and then to Minnesota. I have not seen her in five years. She was the glue to the group, the common denominator to how we all knew each other, and we all slowly moved out of the neighborhood into bigger homes.
Dinner Saturday night catching up with old friends was followed by a pool party Sunday afternoon at one of the friend's new home in a beautiful gated community. We were all so glad to see each other. I miss having them around. I sent the family who hosted the party a homemade thank you card, with my address and number. I hope we can keep in touch.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Dental appointment at noon
Passport office to turn in application
Target or Wal-Mart for cake supplies needed for this weekend.
My now-defunct Chrysler Jeep Dealership (MAN! This stinks!) was to be my first visit, for a oil change. Arriving 30 minutes early, I went to the Wal-mart down the road to go get the cake supplies. While walking the aisles, I notice that *they* take passport photos, so I stopped and got it done too.
After the oil change, I had time to kill so I got breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. No, I did not celebrate National Donut Day, which is today. I got a coffee and a bacon, egg & cheese bagel, sat down and read a book while I ate.
Still having more time, I went to the Passport Agency to turn in my paperwork. I was first in line, all excited about getting my very first passport. I had the forms filled out, my new passport photos and my birth certificate. This certificate is the original one my mom was given a hundred years or so ago. Very old, with a blue stamp on it.
The lady behind the counter asks for it. I hand it to her. She looks it over and says "We can't accept this." I say "It's the original, it has the blue stamp on it." She says "It needs to have the raised seal on it." Then she also says "and it's in Spanish," under her breath but then reconsiders the comment apparently, because that should not matter.
Well yes, you stupid ethnocentric cow. (sorry, but I was FURIOUS at this point. Also, that must be said with a British accent, thank you very much). That's because it's from Puerto Rico. She returns all my forms and gives me a web site for me to request a new one. It'll only be about $12, she says.
Michael's shopping for logbook supplies and a dental appointment later, bing bada-bing, done.
The website led me through several pages whereupon it told me "Oh, Puerto Rico? You have to do it over the phone. Call here." (It didn't really say anything. That's just how I imagine the stupid site sounds after making me enter useless information.) I call the 800 number. The service rep was nice enough and explained the $5 fee for the certificate and the $7 fee for them to do it. Oh yes, and the $83 FedEx fee. "Can't it be sent regular mail? Must it be FedEx?" She said yes, they have to use FedEx. I thanked her and declined their service.
Frustrated, I started to cry at my desk. Then I remembered that my sister Brenda or Vicky had asked my mother to get it for her. Mom's still in PR. I text message Brenda. She replies that yes, mom got Vicky's certificate. Vicky just copied her license and on the same paper, wrote in Spanish a letter authorizing my mom to do it for her, as Vicky is in the States.
Relieved, I called my mother to ask for the favor. She said sure, no problema. I created the letter in Spanish, with a scan of my license in color. I'll mail it to mom in PR, along with the $5 fee.
Thankfully I don't need the passport until September.
I'm calm now.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
This was the pile of books on my dresser on May 23rd. I have since finished "Pride and Prejudice" and just today finished with "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Ken Follett's "World without End" is not in this picture. I am tackling that monster as well (over 1000 pages). I also have "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young, which arrived to me via Paperbackswap.com two days ago.
Someone once asked "How can you read more than one book at a time?" and I had no answer, other than "I just can." Then I read on Atlas Quest a discussion of the same nature, where someone replied (paraphrased) "Can you watch more than one tv series and remember the plot points, cast, etc.? Of course you can. So why is it any different with books?" I like that answer and will be plagarizing it every chance I get.
This above pile does not include the Classics that I get from the library. I tend to read 2 or 3 contemporary works, then go get a classic from my list. It also does not include the drawer of random books that I have been given that I have not even attempted to tackle.
What's in your pile?
Monday, June 1, 2009
Amy. Don't get mad.
I hated this book. I AM SORRY!! I hated it. OK, "Hate" is a strong word. To quote my sister Vicky's tongue-in-cheek saying: "I HATE people who hate!" I can say "I disliked it a lot" or "I liked it but a bit."
I love most period stories. I loved "Jane Eyre," and hated "Wuthering Heights." I love anything Jane Austen.
This book was new to me. I had never even heard of it. I was surprised to find that it was actually on page 4 or 5 of the Classics list I am working off of. I did not know that.
It is considered one of the first "mystery or suspense" novels of our time. It deals with the lives of an art teacher who falls in love with a young lady, Laura, he was hired to teach, but loses her to a pre-arranged wedding to another man who turns out to be a snake. There's a strange woman in white trying to stop it all, there's Laura's strong-willed half-sister (I liked her, I will admit), Laura's ridiculous uncle who I wanted to punch, and the new husband's friend, an effeminate fop of an obese Italian Count who you sense deep down is very dangerous.
Overall, the story is intriguing. The only problem for me was, that it was slow going. My copy was a bit over 650 pages and I only got really interested in the plot at about page 420 or so. I am a hyper person, I know, but I can read other classics and period stories without getting bored or skimming most of it. I found myself already knowing what was happening and that was what did me in, I think. I knew what was going on with the woman in white from early on, so I was impatient with the book. I wanted the characters to catch up with me already.
We've been dying to go see the Star Trek movie but we have either been busy or just plain lazy.
While cleaning out Jacob's closet last weekend (he got inspired when we moved his papasan chair out and moved an unused desk in the loft in to his room), he found some old View Master slides. Some were his, most were David's from his youth. The dates ranged from 1967 through the mid-70's for the ones that were David's.
Click these pics to make them bigger.
And here is Ms. Iz wearing her Star Trek pajamas. These belonged to David once-upon-a-time and are over 32 years old!! She's been wearing them as a night shirt since she was about 2.