Monday, December 17, 2007

2008 TBR Challenge

Well, another challenge I've discovered that I'm going to play along with is the 2008 TBR Challenge. I generally do read from my own collection but I'm going to try and choose books for this one that I've passed over many a time so that I actually get them read. So here's the list and the 12 alternates.

1. So Big by Edna Ferber
2. Toehold by Stephen Foreman
3. The Grand Tour by Tim Moore
4. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
5. Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg
6. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
7. The Effect of Living Backwards by Heidi Julavits
8. Rex and the City by Lee Harrington
9. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
10. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
11. There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell by Laurie Notaro
12. Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
13. Before you Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
14. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
15. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizake
16. Made in Detroit by Paul Clemens
17. Still Life With Chickens by Catherine Goldhammer
18. Pure Dead Batty by Debi Gliori
19. Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
21. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
22. Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith
23. Dog Is My Co-Pilot by the editors of Bark
24. Blue Valentine by Alison Tyler

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Because I am having fun joining challenges and I definitely have the books to complete this one in my stash, I'm joining the Jewish Literature challenge too. It can be found here: My potential list for this one (plus an extra) is:

1. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
2. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
3. A Wall of Light by Edeet Ravel
4. The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
5. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky
6. Early Bird by Rodney Rothman

Should be an interesting mix of reading!

Decades 2008

I participated (rather unofficially) in the By the Decades reading challenge for 2007 so I thought I'd sign myself up for it again (albeit officially) for 2008 . I found a gem or two that I didn't expect over this past year and want the impetus to look closely at some older books that didn't find their way onto the new releases table at Barnes and Noble. So here's the potentials list, although as I understand the challenge, I can swap out titles at any moment. Good thing for this mood reader! And by all means, feel free to suggest your favorites to me although I've tried to choose books that I'm reading for other challenges already so I don't completely overbook myself (like usual).

1990's Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski or The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce or Medieval in LA by Jim Paul or The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn
1980's Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon or A Not Entirely Benign Procedure by Perri Klass
1970's The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
1960's The Golden Spur by Dawn Powell or Mr. Bridge by Evan Connell
1950's A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell or Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer or Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
1940's The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham or The Locust’s Have No King by Dawn Powell or The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner
1930's Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell or Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner
1920's The Bride’s House by Dawn Powell or So Big by Edna Ferber or Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
1910's The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley or Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
1900’s The Man of Property (Forsyte Saga) by John Galsworthy or The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy or Madame de Treymes by Edith Wharton or The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

Thursday, December 6, 2007

They hate me

So all three of my children have been banished to their rooms. One of them is sobbing quite heartily and repeating "I hate my mom" almost like a mantra. I have my suspicions which one it is. So, should I go up and check? I really don't care (nor do I believe it for an instant). Or simply let the child wind down and hopefully drift off to sleep? Actually, I wonder if I can just hand in my parenting resignation right now. No one seems to be available to take my notice though.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Life is still not any better for me. After spending all day on a problem that was completely computer generated (not user, no way, no how!) for the volunteer position I was sucked into for the kids' school, I decided to check my e-mail. How pitifully exciting it was to see an offer from Snapfish in there that would make the Christmas calendars I make for my whole family significantly cheaper than I've ever gotten them before. I diligently chose the pictures, fought with stupid Windows Vista to get them uploaded, created the calendar and then could not get the dumb site to recognize my gift card numbers. I was beside myself. I emailed support and eventually found a phone number to call. So I wait on hold for 25 minutes (no joke--good thing I had e-mail to read while I was waiting) only to realize once the customer support person comes on that my gift cards aren't for Snapfish. They are for Shutterfly. ARGH!!!! Good thing you can't blush over the phone.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gerbil wheel

Why is it that this time of year practically sends me into panic attack mode? I am busy all year long so it's not like this is that much of an added strain. I'd chalk up the crazies this year to the fact that I'm also trying to get the house ready to go on the market but I suspect that's just an excuse, not an actual cause.

I have barely scratched the surface on Christmas presents for my kids and I need to buy something for them from my parents too. I'm not sure they actually have enough on their Christmas lists to accomodate everyone buying for them (and we have a pretty small family). Ok, the five year old has enough but I am desperately trying to lighten the toy load, not add to it! I wonder if they'd notice if I just box up some of the current clutter and re-gift it to them?

The clutter does seem to be wildly out of hand lately for some reason. I have boxed up a bunch of outgrown stuff to send to my sister or to Goodwill, whichever will take it sooner but there's another whole stack of stuff that I need to find a home for within my home. And while my home has never looked like a magazine advert, right now it looks like pack rats who raided a toy store are the only inhabitants here. Not the best look to present to prospective buyers (that is, if there are still any left in this dreadful real estate market)! Of course, I could always opt for the trash heap look, as my oldest child clearly prefers. Explain to me why snack wrappers apparently didn't count in his mind when I told him that his room needed to have everything off the floor for the carpet cleaners? Is it because technically he's not supposed to eat anywhere but the kitchen so he thought ignoring their presence would enable him to claim ignorance about food in his room? Or was it because he figured it was no big deal to have me throw them out (my threat for anything left on the floor)? Whatever the reason, color me ticked off. At least the other two did a reasonable job cleaning up their rooms and it was just the one that had things piled cattywampus on his desk and bed.

And while I'm ranting, let me add that I am less than pleased with the carpet cleaning job. There are still stains all over the carpet. ::sigh:: I know that getting the bacteria and dirt up is the main purpose of carpet cleaning but the stains were high on my priority list as well. So do I call them back and ask them to send their chemist out to do the stains or do I just stew over it (especially as the guy doing it gave me a good deal on it)? Probably no one else would even see them but since I know where to look, I can see that they are definitely still there.

I really am working on being less irritable and stressed overall but today doesn't seem to be my day. And I'm wondering if I'll have any success at calmness at all any time before January. Deep breath! What I have actually accomplished today: everything is off the floor, carpets have been cleaned as well as can be (I guess), daughter's Christmas program costume is finished before the dress rehearsal tonight. I guess I should just ignore the looming to do list for a bit. Maybe I need a bath (I could always scrub the tub out as it drains and that would knock one more thing off the to do list).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So I'm sitting at my daughter's dance class tonight, intermittently reading Middlemarch (still not grabbing me, especially with discordant snatches of competition and recital songs blaring out of each of the rooms) and re-stringing a lei into a hei (headpiece) and bracelet (Meli Kaliki Maka anyone?) when I realize what an oddball I must look like. I am one of the few moms of a child as old (!) as nine, who sits in the studio for the duration of all her classes. Just imagine how much else I could get accomplished in those hours (and I definitely do mean hours if you look at her weekly schedule) if I didn't stay. I originally stayed because I was not completely comfortable leaving my child essentially in the care of strangers. Now that I know all or most of the other parents, I might be convinced to leave her there if she was comfortable. But she says she isn't comfortable if I'm not there despite the fact that I am always busy reading or whatnot instead of watching the dancing. Isn't that par for the course? She's always been a velcro child so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by her reaction to my suggestion that I leave her and do errands while she's dancing. I think the thought of how little Christmas shopping I've accomplished so far has warped my brain because I actually thought that maybe her own cell phone would help her be more confident in being left at the studio. Am I on crack? Contemplating giving my kid a cell phone just so I can shop (or read in the comfort of my own home). I must be losing it!

Fall Into Reading Challenge

Callapidder created a no stress, laid-back sort of reading challenge that each person tailors to his or her own reading habits. My list of books constantly evolved in the days leading up to the challenge as I decided I wanted to commit to finishing the books I'd already started. Some of them fell off the list before the challenge opened because I finished them ahead of time. But as of Sept. 23, the list was finalized:

Middlemarch by George Eliot
Riding the Bus With My Sister by Rachel Simon
The Girls by Lori Lansens
Marley and Me by John Grogan
My Home Is Far Away by Dawn Powell

As of right now, I've finished all but Middlemarch and I am beginning to wonder if I will ever finish it. I like it well enough but it just isn't grabbing me in that visceral can't put it down sort of way so I keep putting it down. I know this is the kiss of death for many people but I am one of the obsessive who finishes everything I start and this book won't be the one that makes me change my policy (that book was Paradise Lost but that's a whole 'nother rant). Here's hoping I get through another 650+ pages before Dec. 21!

Armchair Traveler reading challenge

So rather than try to go backwards and write reviews for all the books I have sitting here (although I will eventually do just that elsewhere on the web), I figured I'd debut my rather inconsequential reviewing skills by writing about the last book I finished. I really enjoy reading travelogues (and write my own after most trips of any consequence) so when I saw there was a reading challenge called the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge, I packed my bags and was off. Each of the 6 books I read for the challenge came from my own groaning bookshelves but they span quite a lot of different places. I chose all non-fiction only because these were the books that jumped off the shelf at me when I was pulling books. So I went down the Mississippi River in a house boat with Mary Morris in her book The River Queen. I motorcycled around New Zealand in search of an authentic Kiwi man with Polly Evans. I investigated anime and manga in Japan with Peter Carey and his son. I learned about the culture and how to cook some plain and some exotic dishes in Bali with Janet De Neefe. I walked the pilgrim road to Santiago in Spain with Tim Moore and his plodding donkey, Shinto, in Travels With My Donkey. And just last night I finished the sixth and final destination on my literary travel itinerary (at least until I get the urge to live vicariously again): I drove the Great Mountain Roads of Ireland on a quest to climb to the heighest point in each of its 32 counties with Paul Clements in his book The Height of Nonsense. What a long, fun trip it's been to go to all these places in which I may never actually step foot.

This last book for the challenge combines two things that intrigue me, Ireland and mountains. I guess I never think of Ireland as a particularly hilly country, nevermind mountainous but it appears I am not thinking of it as a varied place both in terms of landscape and in terms of people and folklore. Clements does a lovely job capturing the differences abounding in the country as he travels around. He talks to local folks in each area, hearing how they relate to the land around them (in some cases this means mountains and in others it means gentle hills), the folklore attached to the areas they live in, and how they go about living their daily lives. Ireland has always seemed appealing to me but never so much as in this well-written love letter to his land.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Seems sort of anti-climactic to be writing my very first entry but I guess I'll probably get used to that feeling (just don't tell my husband I said that!). Mostly this will be a meandering, eclectic sort of blog but chances are you'll generally run across book reviews, chatter about my various runs, and uncensored blathering about my life.

For the first instance of the latter, I'll share something most of you in the cyber world probably won't even get but for those few of you who do live in Ohio or Kentucky, enjoy! We were driving along to basketball practice (and from there to dance--but I digress) when Brad Paisley's song Cooler On-Line (and if I have the title incorrect, I do apologize but don't really care) came on. Now, my ten year old knows this song backwards and forwards and while I think it is funny, I never paid a ton of attention to the words. But after the line "I can have a three way... chat with two women at one time," I had to contain myself because W. innocently said, "I'm surprised he knows what a three-way since he's not from Ohio or Kentucky." It was all I could do not to explode into laughter. For those of you still unclear as to why this is so darn funny, check out Skyline Chili . And no, I didn't laugh in front of him because I had no desire to explain that kind of three way to a ten year old. As my husband said, I don't even want to explain a two way if I can avoid it!

And now that I've alienated any possible readers, I'll head to bed after suggesting you check back another day when I might have this thing better figured out and not have needed to write about my kid and my puerile sense of humor.

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