Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Book--Another Rant

I finished another book this weekend: Escape, by Robert Tannenbaum. I loved his early books. I really liked how stand-up Butch Karp is, how flawed Marlene is, and how loyal Guma and Espey and the others are to Butch. Escape is about 550 pages long, and of those pages, about 50 are dedicated to a court case, and about 100 are dedicated to the other plot (yet another bombing of NYC that the Karp clan prevents). The rest is backstory. Really frustrating when you have read all the other books. It is almost as if he pulls synopses from the other books and works them in. There was no characterization in this novel--we learned nothing new about any body except the new ADA Kenny Katz. Well, we really didn't learn anything about him either, just that Karp sees himself in him and wants to treat Katz as Garrahy treated Karp. I reallyliked Tannenbaum's books, and I am sorry that I was so angry at this end of this one. I won't read another, and that makes me sad.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I wish I could say that my summer has been spent joyously with my children, putting up scads of home-grown produce, and creating lots of peace and comfort in my home. But, No. My summer has been spent going, coming, cleaning, sewing, reading, picking up, dropping off, ad infinitum. I can say it has been a fairly good summer--no broken bones, no surgeries, no car accidents--nothing to mar the landscape. I did get my very first (and second) quilt tops made, and they are at the quilter's even as I type. Here's a photo of the first one:

I have read several books this summer, and here lately, I have really been on a reading jag. Since June 20, I have finished several books, not all noteworthy, except that they belong on my list. I read Jimmy Black's Tales of the Tar Heels, which is a great account of the 1982 Tar Heel trip to the Final Four, Coach Smith's first championship. I was very pleased to see that he addressed the "dark years" of Matt Doherty's coaching stint at Carolina, and he did it sensitively. I appreciated that. I have read The Whole Truth, by David Baldacci, A Quilter's Homecoming (Audiobook), by Jennifer Chiaverini, Motor Mouth (Audiobook), by Janet Evanovich, Petite Anglaise, by Catherine Sanderson, Inside the Mind of BTK, by John Douglas and Johnny Dodd, You've Been Warned, by James Patterson. Two of these I want to discuss a little: Petite Anglaise and Inside the Mind of BTK.

I thought Petite Anglaise was a chick-lit book. I tend to check these out and keep them in the car to read while I wait for children to get in the car so I can take them someplace else. The cover gave that impression. But no, it is an account of what happened when the author began keeping a blog. It was interesting that she (1) started writing a blog that immediately had a huge readership. No one reads my blog except maybe, sometimes, my husband. And SoSock, but I haven't heard from him in a long time (I hope everything is OK with him). So that in and of itself is pretty impressive. But then, she meets the people who comment on her blog, and who email her about her life as she has written in her blog. It as a very interesting read for a blogger, even without the crux of the book, which was her love life. I enjoyed the book very much, much more because I blog.

The other book I want to talk about is the BTK book. I truly enjoy reading books that make me uncomfortable in my faith, books that make me see things about my knowledge of God and my faith in God from a different angle. Because I live in the city where this gross little man with severe psychological problems committed his crimes, I have been very interested in reading what is written (in a professional, clinical sense) about him. I think I have read all the books that have been written since his capture, including Beatty's book that drove him out of hiding. One book apparently was written after extensive interviews with his minister. In that book, BTK is credited with the thougtht that staying in the church is not only good cover, but that he can ask forgiveness after he kills and still be covered, as it were, on the salvation part. This is while he takes the body of a woman he has killed and poses her in his church (one book said on the altar, or in the altar area, while this book said it was in the basement [ this book had some other things really very wrong, so I am going with the altar]). Anyway, the point is, in relation to my thinking about faith: I know that anyone can be forgiven of anything if they ask. I completely believe in God's grace, and I know that His love can cover any mountain of sin. But can you sin, horribly and purposefully, with the knowledge that "all I have to do is be sorry" and that is OK? or at least forgiven? See where I am going with this? How sorry do you have to be? I don't think that BTK is crazy. I don't believe that he is insane, at least inasmuch as that he was impulsive and couldn't control that. I believe that he is simply an evil, evil man. How does his love of torture be forgiven? Even Nazis were in a better position than this; they at least believed they were being patriotic in some strange, misguided way. Still evil, mind you, but not selfishly so.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Old Friends

Last weekend, I went to the wedding of one of my college roommates. Most of my old roommates were there, and it brought to mind the how and whys of friendship. We were thrown together randomly, and 28 years later, brought together again. We laughed at old times and things we did when we were (much) younger. We talked about where we are going at this stage of our lives. We talked about our children and husbands (and ex-). For a weekend, we were friends again.

When I was younger, I read a book about siblings. One line impressed me a lot: "Your sibling knows exactly what button to push; he or she created the button." That is true, too, of old friends. Each of these friends created in me a facet to the person who went to Chapel Hill in 1980. Each gave a bit of themselves, and (I hope) each took something from me. None of us live in North Carolina any longer, but our history made it important enough for everyone to come together again to see each other, and plan to do it again. I hope and pray that happens.

We are different people from those who lived in Ehringhaus in 1980, but a part of us remembers who we were, and we celebrate that together. Mostly because no one else understands--just those who helped make us who we are now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Something New

I wanted to post some of my "art" for lack of a better term. I have never thought of myself as creative, but I do love to scrapbook, and have gotten into swaps involving altered things, ATCs (Artist's Trading Cards), and greeting cards. The top photo is the last ATC I made for a swap; we had to do something for the letter A. I cut the apple on my Cricut, and was really pleased with the way it turned out. The brad was one I found in a package with different colors of postage stamps. I really love the way this turned out, although most ATCs are more collage-y and altered. I am not sure that I am completely comfortable with a lot of the techniques, not the mention the content of some ATCs that you will find on a search, but I like the clean lines of this one.

The other two photos are scrapbook layouts I did yesterday. I did five all told, and these 2 were my favorites. I get frustrated looking at magazine layouts that ooh and ahh over children, and layouts made about a cup of coffee or something like that. I scrapbook to document the life of my family--nothing more, nothing less. I want each page of my scrapbook to show something that we did; an event that occurred in the regular day of family life. Consequently, I start each year's book with summer vacation or summer sports, have a page dedicated to the beginning of school (my favorite day of the year), and follow through with birthdays, get-togethers, Homecoming, holidays, and so on. I like to see my scrapbooks as sort of a diary of our year.

I also hate journaling. I will put a note on a page sometimes, but I can't stand the "letter to your child" kind of journaling. Mostly, I think that 99% of that kind of journaling is a load of crap. I mean, really, most days, I am struggling to talk to my kids about something reasonable, instead of just issuing commands (like: get out of bed--it's 2:00 p.m., or get off the phone--the house is on fire, or get in the car--school starts in 2 minutes). Rarely do I look at my child and think, I love this child so much my heart will break the first time she talks back to me, or this boy of mine is such a bundle of joy--I hope that everything good happens to him (knowing that he flunks each grade he starts and would rather stay at the YMCA all day long shooting hoops than come home and spend 2 minutes with his little sister). I don't think this makes me a bad mom; on the contrary, I think our family is normal. I am just realistic. I wonder if the scrappers who gush about their baby does the same for their last child as their first.

Anyway, the first layout above is when my husband took my kids skiing to Frisco. I used a layout sketch for this, but I changed in slightly so that all the photos on the left side tilt up like a mountain, where the sketch had them kind of hodge-podge-y. I cut out the titles with my Cricut.

The second layout is Thanksgiving of 2006. I liked the colors and papers, although I think I might need to go back and outline the green chipboard letters on the lower right-hand side of the page. Anyway, I liked the way this looked, and am pleased with the book so far.

I wish that I had a 12x12 scanner, so I wouldn't have to take a picture of my layouts. My husband spoils me enough, so I just should leave it on my wish list.

Friday, May 30, 2008

More Books! Again!

It has been such a long time since I have blogged, and I promised that I would do more of it. Now I just have to do it!

I have read more books while I have been not blogging. Here is a quick rundown:

The Ungarnished Truth, by Ellie Matthews: A funner idea than the book really was. I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as Julie and Julia.

Remember Me, by Sophie Kinsella: Not as good as her Shopaholic books, but still fun. I enjoyed it, but wish I had the paperback instead of the hardback, as I would like to list it on

baby proof, by Emily Griffith: I think I enjoyed this book more than any other in this list, except the Paris book. Funny, but not too, and gave me something to think about, as well.

The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, by Robert LeLeux: Why is it that because I find David Sedaris absolutely hysterical that people automatically assume I enjoy reading books by all gay men? This book was OK, but just OK. I am sorry I paid full price for it.

A Town Like Paris, by Bryce Corbett: Although I didn't like his style of foreshadowing, and he tended to use certain phrases over and over, I loved this book. Loved his sense of adventure, marveled at his egotism, and fell in love with Paris again myself. In discussing this choice of words with my husband, I do not mean to imply that Mr. Corbett's egotism is a bad thing; in fact, I was happy to be along for the ride. I knew someone (while I myself was a temporary ex-pat) just like Mr. Corbett, although, to my knowledge, he is still searching for his showgirl. I laughed out loud at this book, and am loathe to put it into

A Prisoner of Birth, by Jeffrey Archer: Couldn't put this book down, although it was a formula book. I have always loved Archer, since I read his short story about Mary and Joseph looking for a room at the inn before the birth of their/her baby. I didn't care so much for The Eleventh Commandment, and this one was much better.

The Machiavelli Covenant, by Allan Folsom (audiobook): I enjoyed this well enough, but thought the withcraft angle was a little forced. The rest of it was good, and the pacing kept me listening intently.

Pure Drivel, by Steve Martin (audiobook): You know he's a favorite of mine, and this one is an oldie, but still funny.

In case I haven't discussed, please let me tell you about it. This is set up so that you list paperback books that you have read. Every time someone sees one of your books that they want, they request it. You send it to them at no charge, and when they receive it, you receive a credit. You spend your credits to buy books. There is no charge; everyone pays postage to mail books (at media rate, of course). It is a great idea, and I have used it a LOT. I got all the books that my daughter had to have for her HS Junior English classes, which saved me about $45.00. Love a deal! Check it out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Don't Hate the Month of May So Much Now...

I used to really hate the month of May. My children go to parochial schools, and there are (too) many days they get off in May. Add to that the Awards Days, Field Days, Last Day of Class Parties--just too many days to be in school. And I despise summer. Kids in and out of the house all the time. Some of them I like, some of them I love, and some I just can't stand to be around. I know all the good points of having my kids in the house: I know where they are; I know what they are doing; I know who their friends are. I also know I shouldn't resent them being here. I know that I will miss them when they are gone (although not as much as people tell me I will).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Defending Roy Williams

As you know if you have read my blog, I am a Tar Heel. Born and Bred, never wavering, always staunch, even during the Doherty years. I love my husband; I love my children; I can't decide if the Heels come before or after my dogs. And I love my dogs! So, living among and being married to a Jayhawk in the era of Roy Williams has not always been easy. When he said he was never leaving Kansas, I actually kicked something (I think it was a chair). When he said he was leaving Kansas, my husband called him names (then I kicked him!--not really).

In the 5 years since Roy Williams left Kansas, I have felt honor-bound to defend his decision to leave. I don't profess to know Coach Williams. I do know that if Dean Smith recommended him, then he is a credit to our program in Chapel Hill. Coach Williams seems to be carrying on the "Carolina Tradition" as if Coach Smith left the notes on how to do so in a drawer in the basketball office. When he was here in Kansas, I was glad to hear Roy talk--it reminded me of home. I am more glad to see him in Chapel Hill--kind of a feeling of "all's right with the world."

I went to San Antonio this past weekend for the Final Four with my best friend. She of the Jayhawk variety. My husband couldn't get out of some work things, and she could, so we went. We discussed even before we had an idea to go whether our friendship would survive this game. You see, she was a "Roy-Hater". Felt like he lied, led them down a rosy path only to strand them. I never understood--she likes Coach Self. She just hates Roy Williams. Unreasonably. Through her hatred, she has taught all of those around her a little about herself. (Her husband, God bless his heart, learned that there would never, never be an amicable divorce, should a separation ever be in their future, and that he really should treat her a little more respectfully!) We not only have not spoken about Roy in 5 years, we haven't even watched a basketball game together. It has been difficult. Basketball was the only thing we could not talk about.

I brought magazines for the 9-hour trip home, imagining a world where we could be trapped in the car not speaking except to beg for a pitstop, which she may or may not grant. So in the car on the way down, we finally talked about basketball. And Roy. Even before we left Wichita, after searching her heart, she decided that hating him was not the best option, and she even broke down and said that, if the Heels won, she would buy a shirt and wear it Monday night. I told her I would buy that shirt.

Well, we all know what happened. My Heels played as badly as they have played in a long, long, time. My friend made an interesting observation: While they were up 28 points in the first half, she wondered how the Hawks would lose--I wondered when the Heels would make their run and win. Kind of the difference in the Hawks and Heels in a nutshell.

So for Monday's game, Roy was shown on TV wearing a Jayhawk sticker. To hear some Tar Heels talk, you would think that the man had a little Dean Smith voodoo doll with a noose around his neck, hanging him in effigy once again. On the message boards, Roy was denounced by his own people. I am so very,very tired of defending Roy Williams to people who don't know him. I don't know him, and he doesn't ask for me to defend him. He doesn't need me to defend him. He just seems like a nice man, and I can't stand to hear people who don't know him hating him, or criticizing his actions. Not his coaching--we all love to second-guess a coach. Should he have called a time-out in the first half? If he has done his job (and his record this year says that he has not only done it, he has done it very, very well), those kids know what to do. This is a discussion of his coaching, not his character. Shooting him down for wearing a Jayhawk on his shirt? That is assassinating his character. Who are we to do that?

So here's my take: Roy came back to Carolina because (among anything else that is personal to him) he is loyal. Why do we hold that against him when he is loyal to another team? Do we not agree that his character is such that he could not coach his best against that same team? I know that I do. Good teams have bad games. Our bad game came at the worst possible time. As much as a coach says "my bad", it isn't his bad--the bad belongs to every player, every manager, every coach, even every fan. It just wasn't going to happen that night. It will happen again. And again. And again. The good and the bad.

Our friendship survived. The program lives on.

Thanks, Roy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Challenge 31 -- A Picture of Myself

Here I am, finished with the Challenge. I have really enjoyed doing the challenge posts, even though sometimes I felt like I was rushing through them because I got behind. I have remembered some things that I hadn't remembered for a while, like the beech tree in my grandma's yard, and I have stretched some boundaries that I wouldn't have pushed unless challenged. Thank you, Barb!

Challenge 30 -- Family News Story

The biggest news story in our family this month is that Mom not only got time off from the kids, she got to spend it in San Antonio at the Final Four with her best friend, Linda. Linda and Mom are on the opposite sides of the court, so to speak, on April 5, and so we hope the friendship lasts after that game. Mom, of course, is pulling for her beloved Tar Heels. Linda is a true blue Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Only one team can play in the Championship, and we want it to be the Tar Heels. OK, I want it to be the Tar Heels. You won't read about us in any of the news reports or stories after the game, but if the friendship survives, and I know Linda well enough to know that it will, it should be in the papers.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Challenge 29 -- Driver of Most Trips

This is our last road trip. My husband, of course, driving, because, well, he can't stand it when I drive. There was a parent's mirror (my term) and my son thought it was a cool shot of the inside of the car. Joe driving, me, and my oldest daughter behind us, her sister beside her, and Sam in the back. I can't figure how he got the picture though!

Challenge 28 -- Autographed Books

This is a book my mother gave me--I don't know where she found it. I have always been the reader in my family--thanks to my Grananny Phillips. (Her name was Nannie, and so we always called her Grananny, instead of Gramma or Granny.) Anyway, Grananny gave me a book for Christmas when I was in 3rd grade; the third Nancy Drew book. I was so disappointed that I didn't get a toy. So I sat down and started my book (my cousins wouldn't let me play with their new toys). A couple hours later, I was nearly
done with the book and ready for new ones. I haven't stopped reading since. I even majored in English, which nearly killed me from reading, but now I read almost strictly for pleasure. Anyway, back to this book: This is an autographed Mark Twain. The book is "The $30,000.00 Bequest and Other Stories." It isn't worth much because the book is in bad shape, and Twain tended to sell his autograph toward the end of his life to stave off bankruptcy. But it is neat to have this. I also have an autographed Dom DeLuise children's book, and several autographed Julia Child cookbooks. All in all, though, I would rather talk to the authors than just have their signatures.

Challenge 27 -- Game Show

I don't watch this anymore because I don't have time, but I used to watch it enought that all my kids would say "Mom, you should go on Jeopardy!" Of course, I never did, but it is fun to say "I could do that" and know that you might be able to.

Challenge 26 -- Contents of My Purse

Contents of my purse, spread out on my kitchen counter: Big wallet, hand lotion, little wallet for chapstick, all those key-ring dollar saver cards (why don't they just lower prices?!), notebook for writing things down, change purse, telephone, pens and pencils, ibuprofen, and my brain (Palm). All on my kitchen counter.

Challenge 25 -- Kitchen Potholders

OK, I haven't really been embarrassed by this challenge until now. We renovvated our kitchen 2 years ago, and these are the only things left from our old kitchen: nasty green potholders. Gross. I am now challenged to go and buy new, red or black or any color that would work in my kitchen potholders!

Challenge 24 -- Wall Hanging Over 3 Years Old

This isn't a wall hanging, per se, but it is hanging in my house. This is a stained glass I had made by a wonderful artist in my neighborhood, Roger Mathews. There are tiles on my fireplace hearth, and I took a picture of the tile in to Roger and told him that I wanted a stained glass window to go into a mission-style house. He copied the tulips exactly, and filled in the rest of the window with blocks. I have one hanging over each of the windows on the sides of my fireplace, and I love the way my room looks.

Challenge 23 -- Easter

I have no Easter photo from this year, yet. I attempted an Easter photo this year. The kids played with my camera (a big no-no) and set it to film rather than photo, and so my photo is a film that won't download. Of course, this year it was too cold to stay outside for a photo, and inside was too crowded with all the aunts and uncles and cousins, so until the film comes back, I have no photos.

This is a photo of the grandchildren from last Easter. My kids are lucky they have cousins on their father's side. My sister's children have no cousins other than my kids (15oo miles away) and one cousin that lives in California (3000 miles away). I think that is sad. I learned a lot being forced to do things with my cousins--people that you may have liked OK, but really had not choice about spending time with them. It teaches you a lot about getting along with people. I learned to get along with bullies; I learned how to spend time with adults because you didn't want to be with the kids; I learned that both very pleasant and very unpleasant times will end soon enough. I learned that you don't have to love someone to miss them, and that family is important even if you don't always get along. You don't necessarily learn this from siblings. I think cousins are important in the scheme of things.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Challenge 22 -- Movie Poster

Not quite a movie poster, but I think I'll be forgiven. I am so excited for this movie to come out.
The poster I have hanging in my scrap/sewing room is Casablanca, my all-time favorite movie. Humor, intrigue, a not-so-attractive leading man, war, romance, friendship, and an unforgettable song. Does a movie get any better than that?

Challenge 21 -- Car I Would Like to Own

I really don't care what kind of car I drive. I simply want a cupholder. Right now I drive a Saab, with the ignition between the seats. What happens everytime I get a cup of coffee in the car? It spills, either on my purse, between the seats into the ignition, or on whatever paper is important in the passenger seat. I want a comfortable car that my children will fit into that has a CUPHOLDER!

Challenge 20 -- Morning Routine

I don't say much before my coffee.

Challenge 19 -- Lunch or Dinner

Dinner, when we can get together in Wichita and watch my TarHeels beating up some other team! I prefer dinner, but lunch with a good friend is always good, too.

Challenge 18 -- My Dream Porch

Not exactly my dream porch, but pretty darn close. A screened in porch, on a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, hot tub, and comfortable sitting. Oh yeah, and someone to bring me my coffee and a muffin in the morning. But it looks a lot like this one.

Challenge 17 -- Hanging on the Door

This is my door that goes into my garage. Anything important gets stuck here: Our calendar, chore cards, IOUs from my kids, scratchpad, school calendar, funny magnets, and my college affiliation magnet (it goes on the car sometimes). My handyman thought I was crazy when I asked for a metal sheet to be put on the door and framed out. It was one of the smartest things I did in our renovation.

Challenge 16 -- Whispering

I love the humor that my kids have. I very much love that my older daughter doesn't mind acting silly--sometimes very silly. Here she is in Chicago, at the Art Institute:

Challenge 15 -- Talking on the Phone

Here are my children, doing what they do. I can't get a word out of the boy hardly, nor does he TALK on the phone, but texts at the rate of about 85 a day. The youngest daughter, the one who didn't talk until she was 5? Taking away the phone is about the only discipline I have with her. The oldest? The Christmas gift of her phone is just about the only time she has ever been speechless.

My kids, doing what they do best.

Challenge 14 -- Sibling's Hobby

My sister makes cards and tags. She takes pictures also, but she doesn't scrapbook. Strange, to my mind, but that is how she rolls. She has a friend that she makes cards with, and they schedule vacations to do nothing but make cards and run their mouths. I wish that I had that kind of relationship with someone. I have a lot of friends, but no one that really shares my hobby, or will commit to doing it like that.

Challenge 13 -- Favorite TV Shows

I don't watch a lot of TV, but the kids have the DVDs for this show, and I think it is absolutely hilarious. Remember when MASH was on? My father said that there are people like each character in his office, they were in his Army unit, and that is what made it funny: that you could laugh at these people, while still understanding the people you had to work with and be kind to them. Same with this crew. I laugh at this show a lot.

Challenge 11 -- A Sign that Makes Me Smile

This was a shop that was across the street from us when we stopped for a beer in Prague. Read all the things that this shop offers. I laugh every time I see it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Challenge 12--Unusual Mailbox

This is the mailbox in my house. These are my dogs. The dog on the right, Rufus, hates my mailbox, and loves the mail tha comes through it. So much so that he eats the mail unless I can get to it first. If you look carefully, you can see where he has chipped the paint away from the lid of the box by jumping up and biting it. He has cut his leg on the box, cut his lip on the box, and still, he waits patiently for the mail every day. Silly dog.

Challenge 10 -- Favorite Tree

I have a favorite tree, but I don't have a picture of it, nor can I get a picture of it. It was in Virginia, a huge (at least it seemed huge) beech tree. My grandparents had 16 grandchildren, and I swear, it took all of us holding hands to get around that tree. It had plenty of crevices in it, and holes where the Bunny hid Easter eggs. Many hours were spent under that tree.

After my grandparents moved and after my grandfather died, there was a storm in Chesapeake, and the beech tree was blown down. I can't remember if it hit the house, but it was really close to the house.

It was my favorite tree.

Challenge 9 -- Keys

OK, these are technically my keys, but they are not my car key. My car key stays in my car (locked safely in my garage); that way I never lose them. Losing keys is something I have done a couple times (really, not often), although I have the reputation of losing them. Mostly, until I lived in my own house, I never had a single place to put them. Now, ahem, see photo, I do! I love this little house--it is so brightly colored. I have a bus by the same artiste that has one hook on it. Love these!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Challenge 8 -- Two People

My two people are my sister and her husband. My sister would hate to have her picture on the internet, so I published this view. They met us in Savannah last September. I love these people. I don't ever remember meeting my brother-in-law, and he absolutely brings out the best in me, and I do the same for him. My sister is a true gem, and someone that I try to emulate in several areas. She taught me a lot about having some peace about myself.
Thanks, guys.

Challenge 7 -- Piece of Clothing Worn Twice a Week

This is a sweatshirt that I wear frequently during the colder months. I have a grey one that I wear as much as this one, but it is getting really, really worn. So much so that I will have to get rid of it soon. But the blue one is warm, and wearing it keeps me in mind of a very rewarding time of my life.

Challenge 6 -- My Town

This is the prettiest picture of my town I have ever seen. I have no idea who took it so I can't give credit. I know I didn't take it. This is the Keeper of the Plains, a statue by Blackbear Bosin. It sits in the Arkansas River.
I am not from Wichita, and it took me a long, long time to get used to being here. It is a good place to raise children, and after having visited Raleigh last month, I can say that I prefer here to there now. Mostly because of the traffic there, and the lack of it here.
It isn't pretty, it isn't unique, but all in all, I feel at home here now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Challenge 5 -- Weather

Can you see my frogs? In the summer, they spit at you and each other, but I love them in the winter. At Christmas, I tie bright red ribbons around their necks. I love my frogs, and smile everytime I see them.

Challenge 4 -- An Elder You Respect

It is strange to think of Dean Smith as an "elder", but he is. I have never met this man, and yet my respect for him grows with everything I hear about him. For someone to speak disrespectfully of him draws my ire. My impression of Dean Smith is this: He is an humble man who is brilliant at his profession. He is an inspiration for everyone to do the right thing, leading by example and not by words. My one real regret in my life so far is that I was not involved in some way with the basketball program while I was at Carolina. I tell my children that the athletes are not role models because of their athletic prowess. Rather, Dean Smith is the role model--he taught the game, changed the game, and inspired those who play. However, this is not his whole contribution. He integrated the game in Chapel Hill, he used his celebrity to change that part of society, and he inspired me to not see race, but people. He set an example for people to follow, and I am glad to do that.

Thank you, Mr. Smith.

Challenge 3 -- Artwork

Our challenge is to post artwork. This is my daughter with some of her drawing. She loves Leonardo da Vinci, and has copied some of his drawings. She is a bit of an artist herself, and has the temperment that goes along with that, for good or bad.

The Best Time of the Year

We are smack in the middle of the NCAA tournament. Some people love to celebrate Christmas; some people enjoy their birthday. I know people for whom the advent of Spring is worth living through the rest of the year. Me? Give me the Tar Heels in the NCAA any year. Nothing touches it when we are doing well; nothing is worse than when we lose. Winning the dance is a feeling that is like nothing else. (Some things are better, but, like childbirth, one tends to forget the intensity. I never forget the intensity of winning this tournament, and I have lived through it 3 times. Nothing better.)
By the way, I was in St. Louis to watch them and see the above photo taken.

So forgive my lack of posts; forgive me in advance for my future lack of posts. I am watching basketball!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Finally Finished Another Book

I finished World Without End by Ken Follett this week (finally!). Loved it-but I loved Pillars of the Earth, too. I have a good friend who studied architecture and switched to history and now teaches in St. Louis. Anything mainstream--he can't stand it. I read Pillars of the Earth when it was first out in paperback, and suggested he read it. He resisted (he wildly resisted!), but finally broke down and read it. He read it every break he got at school, and he loved it. Thanked me for making him read it. I can't believe that it is now on Oprah's Book Club list! Sorry, Tim!

Anyway, I really did love World Without End--it did get a little soap-operatic at the end, but I still loved it. I wish there were men like Merthin, however, it is a work of fiction!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Challenge 2--Newspaper/Website

I am not at my own home, and the challenge is to take a photo of my newspaper. At home, I read the paper every day, and rarely even speak to anyone (nor encourage anyone to speak to me!) until I have read the paper and had at least one cup of coffee. Since I am not at home, I will post a photo from a website I check every single day--my daughter's high school. I wish that the announcements link was closer to the top so I wouldn't have to scroll through the whole page, but I didn't design the page, the kid down the street from me did, and he didn't ask for my input until he was finished (darn kids!).

Challenge 1 -- Goals

Barb is challenging us to post a photo that corresponds to a theme every day this month. I think it is a great idea, and I am going for it:

Goals: Short Term, or Long Term? Short term, my goals are my New Year Resolutions: Write more, lose weight, blog weekly. Long term? I haven't set goals for that far ahead, because they change. If I had to make a goal, I would say that my long-term goal is to grow old with my husband. I chose him--no, God made him for me. That is my goal, and my short-term goals certainly contribute to that long-term goal.

Another Book, and Nothing Creative

I am in North Carolina, ostensibly to help my sister recover from surgery. She has been discharged from the care of her cardiologist, and is doing very, very well. Still slow, but getting there. I will go back home on Tuesday, and I am excited about seeing my husband, my family, my dogs, and my house. And my beautiful, clean, organized scrapbooking room. I have not done but one creative things since I got here (on February 16), and I am feeling very hemmed in. Amazing that when I am scrapping, or sewing, or whatever in my room, I don't feel creative, but when I am not doing any of those things, I feel very uncreative. Odd.

I have read books, however. About 7 of them. I still have 3 Saint books to read and make tests for (can you see that my steam for that task gave out a long, long time ago?!), and I am in the middle of the last book I brought, World Without End, by Ken Follett. I have read all of his books, and this one is up in the top 2-3 of his works. I am really enjoying it.

The book that I have finished that I really, really liked is Dough, by Mort Zachter. I loved reading the story, but I also loved how honest he was about reconciling his feelings of love and fondness for his uncles with the anger he felt after learning their secret. I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys memoirs.

Finally, I am back in TarHeel country, and finally go the chance to see my Heels in the DeanDome (it was built after I left, and I have attended concerts there, but never seen the team play). My friend with the connections, Moneypenny (yes, her real name), called with the great news. Could there be a downside? Of course there is, in my world! The tickets are for the day I leave, at 3:39 in the afternoon! Maybe next time.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Here is a photo of my new and improved Scrapbook/Sewing Room. I am so happy in here.

All's (Mostly) Right with the World

My favorite line from Anne of Green Gables. . . and a Robert Browning poem (Pippa Passes?)

I am in North Carolina right now. My sister came through surgery well, and I am spending a couple weeks with her while she recuperates. Some fun, but not a lot. She is doing well, and I am glad that she is taking it as easy as she is. That is difficult for her.

dook has lost twice since beating my Heels, and I am happy since those bruised and battered Heels are winning still. (Take that, rat bastard!)

More books read, especially in airports, etc., and posted in the box on the side. Yay Me!

All IS right in the world. People I love, games to play. . . Yeah, life is good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Worry. Concern, and Letting Go (plus, another book)

First off, before I forget, I finished another book with one of my very favorite characters, Dismas Hardy. It took me a couple days to finish John Lescroart's Dead Irish, but it was very good, and I am glad I found it on (BTW, if you haven't checked that site out, do it. What a great idea, and what a convenience. Love, love, love it.)

So, on the other things. For a few months, the Carolina-dook game has been on my calendar, me waiting with eager anticipation. But something came up: my sister is having bypass surgery tomorrow. Suddenly, the game isn't the biggest thing anymore.

Then, I feel a little guilty, because it is still a big deal to me. Very, very few people get this about me, but Carolina Basketball is part of who I am. I won't equate the season with my family (sister, parents, husband, or my kids), but, dang, is it close. I know I shouldn't, but I still care a great deal about the outcome of that game. If something happens bad in NC, then the importance of the game will recede, I am sure. If I was asked to, I would miss this game. But the thing is, I would remember that I was missing it. Does this make me abnormal?

So, the title of this post is Worry, Concern, and Letting Go. I have never worried about things in my entire life. If you have control, and it needs changing, then change it. If you don't have control, then you get concerned, but that is all--you can't fix anything, so why worry? Concern is different--you care, and you anticipate an outcome, and you pick up pieces when you have to, but worry? Nah. Now, I am in the middle of a situation over which I have no control, I am concerned, but it is completely someone else's to deal with (my son's). I have to let this go, but I am still very, very concerned about the direction of his life. But I have to let this go: it isn't mine, I can't own it, and I can't fix it. Letting go is so hard.

So, Go Surgeons! Go Jaymi! Go Sam!

Go Heels! Beat dook!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Another Book

I just finished My Summer of Southern Discomfort, by Stephanie Gayle. It was a good book, but when I finished it, I wondered, "Do the people who write the 'Advance Praise' even read the book? Jay Atkinson, for example, wrote "her first novel is a ...funny book." A woman who was treated horribly by her very first lover, and man who was in a clear position to take advantage (and shouldn't have), moves to Macon, Georgia, to escape, and works in the District Attorney's office. Oh, and her father, whose respect and admiration she craves, is/was a prominent attorney for civil rights. Of course, she is assigned to a a capital murder case, and the novel is about her misgivings, both in her personal and professional lives. Funny stuff, right?

The inside jacket notes make this book sound as if it is going to be a sort of Stephanie Plum novel, light, fun, and sexy. It isn't any of these things.

But I won't let any of this detract from the novel. It was a good story, although it seemed as though the writer was trying a little to hard to make her words sound pretty. Still and all, a good book.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Books!

I finished two more books: Audio Digging to America, by Anne Tyler, and the book I got for Christmas from my children, Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin.

Digging to America was good--I liked it better than I thought I would, but I think Ms. Tyler is falling into a formula pattern, which saddens me. I thought that Saint Maybe was/is one of the best stories, I have ever read, and maybe it is that nothing else she writes stacks up, while coming close often. The body of Digging to America is rich, and I love the character development, and I felt bad when bad things happened to anyone in the book. But I hated the ending. I know that comparing a writier to Shakespeare is generally considered a compliment, but he did have a problem with endings. Ms. Tyler does the same--as if to say "I know how I want this to end, but I am tired a writing." All said, it was satisfying, and I would recommend it to friends, but still think that Saint Maybe is her best work.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Steve Martin: I love his humor, I love his sense of privacy, I love (most) of his artwork, I love his novellas, and I would love to see his plays, should one ever play close to where I am. So his "biography of someone he used to be" was a no-brainer. It took me just a few hours to read, and I loved it and wished it had lasted longer. Mr. Martin is on my cliched list of "10 Famous People You Would Invite to Dinner," and besides my husband, he is the only one that is still living. The apparent ease with which he strings words together are magical for me, and I wish that I could write like he does. I love that I feel as if I know him better, while he really didn't reveal much of his personal life in his book at all. I appreciate that; I didn't want to read a tell-all, or a defense of his life of his work. I loved it, and I eagerly wait for his next writing. I would love to see another original movie (please stop with the Father of the Bride and Cheaper by the Dozen!).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finished Another Book

I finished another book today: John Grisham's Playing for Pizza. I love John Grisham. I love his legal books (all but one, and I can't remember which one), I love the movies made from his books (except for The Firm, where the book was SO much better than the movie), and I am especially loving his non-legal books. Playing for Pizza was so enjoyable. I wish I could write like him, just because it seems so effortless for him (which means that it is probably really hard, or at least, it used to be for him).

Thank you for such a relaxing, comfortable book.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Don't Understand Economics

I will be the first to say that I don't understand economics, unless it is really as easy as I think it is. I am having a hard time understanding the coming "recession"--based on the housing market. It seems to me that people have too much stuff. Look at landfills; look at trash cans; look at shows like "Clean House" or "Mission Organization." Do we really need more?

Why are people building more houses, when old houses, beautiful houses, are sitting vacant? Why isn't there a tax relief plan for people to renovate these houses?

So if this is the case, how does saving and doing with less affect the economy? Really, household economics is fairly easy: You make so much money, and you live within those parameters. If you don't you declare bankruptcy.

How much of our money goes into the great gulf of nothingness? Interest payments on mortgages and credit cards, insurance, entertainment--the list could grow a lot here. I am not saying that we don't need these things (well, insurance is a scam, but that is a different rant!), but look at how much money is poured into this abyss.

I guess my basic question is: When is enough enough? If we have enough, why do we (as a country or a culture) continue to spend? Why is the stress put on spending, rather than saving both money and things? I hate the disposable society.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Books Read

I wish there was a separate space or list so that I could just list all the books I read. However, in addition to the Saint books that I have read this year for Accelerated Reader tests, I have read 2 more novels, and am listening to one on CD (that counts, right?). So, I have finished:

1. The Manny (Holly Peterson) - simply OK. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but if someone asked me, I would tell them it was just OK. Not a complete waste of time, but close.

2. The Overlook (Michael Connelly) -- I usually like Connelly's Harry Bosch books, but this is probably my least favorite. It didn't feel finished, and I didn't get to understand any more about the character. It just seemed like Connelly wanted to get in on the terrorist novel angle before it went away. A big disappointment, because I like the others so well.

I have a stack of books on my night table now, and in a couple weeks, I will have a couple more titles to share.

Where can I keep a list?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ACC Basketball Season TODAY!

Since I promised to incorporate more pictures, I thought I would share one of my favorite photos I found on the web. It comes from InsideCarolina, created b y Jim Hawkins (apparently a really talented, wise person), and it used to be my desktop wallpaper:

I know I promised to post on Thursday, but I wanted to wait until today for a good reason: Carolina begins its ACC season in earnest today. I have a lot of blogs bookmarked and I read them regularly (sometimes I spend a LOT of time at the computer). My favorite one is not a sole Carolina blog, but the guy who writes it is really funny and smart enough to make it interesting, even if he does have a misspelled word here and there. Anyway, his blog is "Work Hangover" and I really enjoy reading it.

A couple other I look at regularly are: Tarheel Times, Tar Heel Fan, and TarHeelDaily. Since I live here in Kansas, we don't get coverage like one does on the east coast, especially in God's country, so I search the internet for stories that have things I might not hear otherwise.

So let's look forward to a great season, no more injuries, and a trip to San Antonio in the end. I'll be there!

Friday, January 4, 2008

2008 Goals

One of my goals is to post some of my scrapbooking layouts, pictures of sewing projects, or other artwork that I do through the year to my blog. I think pictures really help make a blog more personal. So, in order to do that, I am going to try to upload a photo of my doggies, Rufus and Mrs. B:
OK, the photos are in, but it didn't quite turn out the way I wanted it to. By the way, Mrs. Baggins is the one with the dot on her head; Rufus is her last baby. I so enjoyed having her puppies around.
So I guess that now that I know how easy it is to upload a photo to this blog, I will publish more pictures of what I work on in my craft room. I will publish pictures of my craft room if I ever get it finished!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Book Read

OK, I said I was going to post, and I mean to do it!

I just finished a book: Father Kino, Priest to the Pimas. I promised the school librarian that I would read this whole stack of easy Saint books in order to write A(ccelerated) R(eading) tests on them for the kids to take and earn points. So here is one read; one test completed.

I really despise books written for children that are poorly written. I swear, I could write these so much better, but I hate the do the research involved!