Friday, May 30, 2008 & chocolate

One of my favorite pictures of Bridie & me. We had an close encounter with a friend's Vietnamese Potbellied pig. Yes, we're both nervous. Pigs have SHARP teeth!

If you're not already a subscriber to's newsletter & you're a booklover, I encourage you to subscribe. I particularly love the links they provide to author essays & Q&As. In fact this one comes from something in their recent newsletter. I sent a note to myself to remind me to post this to the blog, with the subject header of, "Because she talks about chocolate." And indeed she does. Fun interview to read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

General catching up after Memorial Day

Back again, this time from visiting my parents. Annie the cat stayed home as watch-cat & was very cool & relaxed when I got back, thanks to daily visits from friend Mary. I think Annie prefers to stay home to traveling with me, unfortunately. I had always hoped that she would be ok with traveling, if I took her traveling fairly often, but like most cats, she prefers home-time to being with me & traveling.

More news from Britannica... and I love the daily updates with bits of history in them. I can always hope the hard facts like dates & when things happen will eventually sink in. Timelines are not my forte.

On this day, Ian Fleming's birthday & of course there's hoopla about something or t'other to do with his birthday & various events. I forget what, exactly. Popular culture is apparently not my forte either. For the record, my favorite James Bond is Sean Connery.

Amnesty International was founded on this day, in London, 1961. They also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Cool!

various readings : Gloria Whelan's Yuki & the Thousand Carriers. As always, a beautifully done children's book. I love the way Whelan writes. She has the ability to simplify the story, but her voice comes through beautifully & poetically. The illustrator's work is awesome. I believe this is part of the international series & Whelan does so well with this.

Also a lot of fun, Brennan-Nelson's Willow. This one is the story of a young girl in an art teacher's class. The teacher is very uptight, and Willow, shall we say, is not. She's fun, she's artistic, and her creativity is just bursting out of her. A really fun book, with an irrepressible spirit, much like that of Pippi Longstocking. Both books are from Sleeping Bear Press & are highly recommended.

Next on the cooking front, Gazpacho. If you have favorite recipes, send them my way! But at least for once, I do have a cucumber on hand. Mine tend to get slimy very quickly, so I tend not to buy them much. My grandfather also commented that they smelled like cottonmouth snakes, so that turned me off for a bit. I'm going to try not to think about that aspect of it....

Friday, May 23, 2008

Neglect, Mistaken Identity, L'Engle's latest

My poor neglected blog! I haven't forgotten, just have been really busy. The Ann Arbor Book Festival was hectic, but fun. I heard later we had about 8-10,000 people. And the day was beautiful, sunny but cool, so it was just the right kind of weather for hanging around outside.

We were cleaned out of all our free pens & those little doodads that you use to clean dust off your screen & off your TV monitor. Always a good day when you get to spend it hanging out with authors, people who love books, publishers, and readers.

Here's a really terrific essay posted at One of my favorite places to read on the web. Also wanted to mention that Britannica has given me (and other bloggers) a free subscription to it, which is going to be wonderful, just for reference questions & such. Let me know if you need me to look something up. ;) Many thanks to Encyclopedia Britannica!

On the reading front, I have read Mistaken Identity, the book about the Taylor University van crash, about the survivor, Whitney Cerak. Wonderful book in so many ways & on so many levels. I highly recommend it. I also read Madeleine L'Engle's latest book. You may know that she died a couple of years ago (2007, I believe) and the book was published posthumously. Very much in L'Engle's style, the main character is a tall, gawky girl who when acting (or playing music in other books) becomes at one with her body & movements. Very much a growing-up book, and a good book of a young adult becoming fully adult. It does seem a tad dated for this day & age, but it is beautifully written as always. I miss having her around & miss the expectation that she would be writing another book someday soon.

I also can't let this post pass without mentioning that Memorial Day 15 years ago, was the day I got Bridie. So today is very much a day of memories for me, and not a small amount of sadness. I picked up a little 9 pound puppy, with long ears, and the most quizzical look. She was most unhappy to be picked up & put in my car for the ride home, because she'd already been in a car for the distance between Washington DC & Bristol, TN. I just adored her from the very beginning & my heart was already quaking... would I be a good enough owner for her? Would she like living with me? I think all in all, she mostly did like living with me, except for all those times I'd leave her & go to work. I adored her and thought she was the bee's knees. Such a terrific dog in so many ways, and so very smart. My obedience instructor used to tell me that I needed to work harder, because Bridie was so smart & could outthink me. She sure was right. I'm so glad I had Bridie in my life, even in this time of grief.

Friday, May 16, 2008

book activities & links

Here's some book related news! :

Ann Arbor Book Festival

The 5th Annual Ann Arbor Book Festival will be held from Thursday, May 15 to Sunday, May 18, 2008

Do come to this if you're in the area, as it is tremendous fun. Well worth braving any predicted rain!
And back to Rick Riordan & Labyrinth, check out this link.

Rick Riordan's Battle of the Labyrinth

Love this one, and the series just keeps getting better & better. This is always a pleasant outcome, because sometimes the first book in the series is the best, but Riordan comes through with every word. I picked up the first book of the series purely because I know Riordan's mystery series & liked them very much. Much to my surprise, I loved this juvenile series as much if not more.

Wonderful imagination all the way through & a very clever folding of ancient mythology into the present day world. In this book, Percy Jackson and his famous pen/sword, Riptide, once again try to go back to school. Let's just say the cheerleaders are not quite what they seem. Chance encounters, old & new friends coming together, all blend to create yet another fantastic adventure. In this one, Annabelle takes the lead through the Labyrinth, and they encounter the master of the labyrinth, as well as many creatures who abide in the Labyrinth. Saying more would ruin the story for others, but suffice it to say that the great hearts, great love, and great anger behind the characters in the book turn it into a most compelling adventure story. Well worth reading for anyone who loves fantasy/SF and for anyone who loves good juvenile literature.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

VST (Variable Surface Tracking)

Sounds mysterious, doesn't it? Really, it is just the name for what is sometimes called urban style tracking. It is fun, and unlike TD & TDX (Tracking Dog and Tracking Dog Excellent tests) tests, it doesn't require quite so much walking in fields, meadows, farmland, and woodland.

Instead, you take a dog out & show him an article from a stranger. This person just walked in a specific pattern through buildings, on asphalt, sidewalks, grassy & dirt areas, etc. and possibly even entered a building. The goal, the dog needs to find where that person walked, what they dropped, and find the final article.

There's more information here, at the Moraine club's website. It is similar to what the Search & Rescue dogs do, but more formalized. I laid two tracks today, on Michigan State University's campus & am hoping that one of my tracks will have a pass. Two will be great, but VST passing rates are low, because people are still learning how to train for it & how to read their dogs. I'll report more tomorrow.

Still working on those dandelions. I've filled up two of those tall brown yard bags so far (and that's only for the backyard). I'm expecting to fill up at least one more, maybe two. The picture above is my Kolkwitza bush. (I think that's the right name) also known as a beauty bush. I think. It is pretty, but only for one short week in the spring time, which is likely why it isn't planted much any more.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lita Judge & One Thousand Tracings

Oddly enough, one of my favorite books from last year was One Thousand Bones by PJ Parrish (mystery and a really good one. This is a new series for the Parrish sisters), and for this year, it is One Thousand Tracings by Lita Judge. (what's odd about that, you may ask? The fact that two of my favorite books both have the words One Thousand in the title) The book has won at least 8-10 major awards so far this year & it is fabulous. I got to talk to Lita at Marshall District Library, in two separate sessions. The first was for writers, and there were only three of us, so we all got to talk & share stories, etc. The second was about the book & Lita's presentation is fabulous.
If you have a chance to go see her, do... she's great.

Work has been busy, but we also have a new student working with us who is fabulous. We also had an ice cream social, which was great fun.

And spring really must be here. I think I pulled up about five dozen dandelions in my backyard, maybe more. Was outside for about 75 minutes & filled two yard bags full of debris & .... dandelions. So far, I've managed to get most of them out of the front yard over the last six years. But the backyard.... I still remember waking up one morning my first spring in this house & seeing the backyard as wall-to-wall dandelions. Beautiful & golden, but the neighbors hate you if you let them grow & blow seed onto their yards, so I pull them. Good exercise. Must admit I miss my doggie companion, who always hung out there with me. Instead, I had my sweet cat, yelling cat swear words out the window, because she wanted to come outside & eat grass. She's a great deal of fun. Even when she's yelling cat swear words out the backdoor.

Monday, May 05, 2008


For the past few years, I've made potholders for Christmas gifts. People really like them & I guess because they're handmade, you can't get anything like them in the stores. Will take a picture & post it, so you all can see them. I'm also interested in trying out these potholders, which are a long time family handcraft, handed down through the years for this blogger.

Mom's told me she thinks the potholders I've made with cotton & wool loops are better than the ones you can buy in stores. Isn't that a nice compliment? These are the ones that as kids, I made on plastic looms, and you pull loops over each other, then crochet the ends together to make potholders. The ones from Harris are lovely, and the loops are perfectly matched, so that you don't have all those horrible ones that are either too long, too short, and are torture to put together.

But the one from the My Little Kitchen blogger looks really interesting. I may try it. Scroll down to Crochet: Old Fashioned Potholders. I think the first blog entry that comes up is a little silly (the underwear potholders, for a bridal shower, my goodness!) but what an interesting piece of family history.

My family has started making all (or most) of their Christmas gifts for a variety of reasons. We have fun, and it is a very creative activity. My sister gave me two cross stitch pictures (beautiful! more pictures, yes... ) , Mom made polar fleece blankets for everyone, I made food, gave away potholders, and something else that I am forgetting.

Here's something else that is interesting, a link to a blog about a book club. I love their idea of making the books sit with their faces to the wall, if they're displeasing to someone. Bring on the dunce caps!

And before I forget, the picture above is an example of a book with fore-edge painting. It is a scene of Lake Erie, and my two co-workers are holding the book pages bent, so we can see the scene. Isn't that nice of them?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Goodbyes, afghans, and eating

Sounds like a nice conglomerate of information, right? I've missed blogging & am happy to get back to it. To the left, you'll see a very nice couch/love seat, with a colored lap robe to the right. I made the lap robe on my Weave-its, and it is my first one ever. Used Noro silk/wool blend (Silk Garden), and this was heaps of fun to to. The photo was taken by the coworker & friend that I gave it to, because she was leaving for a wonderful new job. I'll miss her, but will be seeing her soon, as she's not far away.

Right now, I'm enjoying the spring vegetables. Green onions aplenty, wonderful baby spinach & baby romaine, and delicious bell peppers. I added raspberry vinaigrette, pistachio nuts, turkey, and a small amount of cheese. Still ahead, but probably for tomorrow are the various dishes to make for the week ahead, like Oriental cabbage salad, raspberry chicken, gingered chicken, and probably chicken mole. Or maybe chicken chili....

And I really need to get back to reading too. Believe it or not, I've been too sick to watch TV or read & after the wisdom tooth extraction, most of the time I talked to my mother or listened to her talk, which, believe me, is far more important than reading or watching tv.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday look back at the good books you've read in the past sounds like a good idea. So I will join in on Patti's suggestion on her blog of covering a good book from the past reads that you think are overlooked. But that may have to wait until tomorrow, since I'm still recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction.

Have been to see two authors' readings & signings recently. If you have a chance to go see Lita Judge (One Thousand Tracings) go. She's wonderful, very intelligent, and her talks are varied, which is always a good thing.

I also saw Ted Kluck (Paper Tiger) who talked about his football experiences & why he wrote Paper Tiger. Nice guy, and a very good book. More later, including pictures.