Finish #22 – Homeless Bird

P6180642.JPGHere’s an oldie but goodie that one of the kids found the other day. Look at that little girl. Can you see the “I’m going to pounce on you and rip your face off” look in her eyes? Can you imagine how thankful we are that she grew out of that attitude as she grew up? See that little stuffed caterpillar at her side. She loved that thing to pieces. Literally. To. Pieces. Then again, perhaps she hated it. I’m not certain you’d take something you love, swing it violently back and forth as viciously as you can until the legs fall off, the stuffing comes out, and all that remains is one tiny chunk of unidentifiable caterpillar flesh.

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Here she is now. Look at her. She knows she’s supposed to be on her blanket. She’s avoiding it as much as possible.

 

 

Enough about the dog…Time for books. Finish #22 is Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan.

P3091705.JPGThis one was a National Book Award winner. I read it to my kids. It’s sad to think that there aren’t many years left for us to read together. It’s always been one of the favorite parts of my day. My son actually said this book wasn’t “too bad.” High praise coming from him. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Set in India, it tells the story of Koly, a young girl thrust into an arranged marriage at a young age. After her husband’s death she must navigate and overcome the traditions of India at that time. While intended for kids, I can assure you that adults will enjoy reading it and will find themselves rooting for Koly to prevail.

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Finish #21 – The Art of Crash Landing

Unacceptable! Simply unacceptable! The pond which was nearly thawed is frozen again. The ground which was that ugly shade of “spring” brown yet was beginning to show the tiniest signs of life is now coated with a heavy layer of white stuff. I cannot say the name that white stuff. It is a dirty, dirty four-letter word now that we are just a few days shy of flipping the calendar page over to April. I realize that I live in northern Michigan and it’s, while not normal, entirely possibly to have snow on Mother’s Day. While possible, I don’t have to be pleased about it.

Silver lining of all that white stuff though…the skis came back out tonight. I’d like to say that we had a wonderful time skiing under a bright moon with the snow gently falling around us like cotton balls thrown from Heaven. The reality was more along the lines of total darkness pierced only by the glow of our headlamps with shrapnel shooting into the few bits of skin and eyes that weren’t covered by our face masks while arduously breaking a path through the snow on the road.  (Just for the record, when you wear a headlamp and snow is falling down at a steady clip, it looks like that warp speed thing that happens in Star Trek. Or was it Star Wars? It was definitely one or the other. It’s also quite disorienting.)

P3071704.JPGThis week I finished a wonderful book. Finish #21 is The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo. It is her first novel, and I believe she knocked it out of the park on this one. While the story wasn’t all that upbeat (even downright depressing at times), the weaving together of the past and the present was flawless, the main character was wonderfully flawed, the supporting characters were stellar, the plot was original…I could go on. I think this one might just earn a spot on my top ten for the year.

 

Finish #20 – The Job

P3061701.JPGWhat a beautiful view…especially if you ignore the dead brown stuff and focus only on the signs of spring. Except for a sliver of ice on the southern side, the pond is thawed. It gets a new thin coating of ice every night, but by afternoon we are back to open water. The remaining snow is melting away. (We did have a fresh dusting of snow on the ground this morning, but nothing that stayed.) We should be hearing peep frogs before too long, and all that nasty looking brown stuff should start to either green up or be covered up by all sorts of new growth.

I finished book #20 last week and am just now getting around to writing about it. We’ll blame my tardiness on a busy weekend that involved lots of cooking and lots of raking…though not as much raking as I’ll be doing in the fall, so for that I can be thankful!

Finish #20 is The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. The story was entertaining, but something just seems to be missing from Janet Evanovich’s books whenever she has a writing partner. The humor just doesn’t seem to be quite there. The banter between characters just isn’t the same. This is the second Evanovich book that I’ve read this year with a co-author, and I recall feeling the same about the first one. Dare I suggest that she does very little (even perhaps none) of the writing when a co-author is listed? I could be totally wrong, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same flavor as her popular Stephanie Plum books. If she wants me to keep reading, she’ll need to get that flavor back, because I am not a fan of bland stuff.

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Finish #19 – Mad Dash

Mad Dash: that sounds like every Monday around here. Cleaning, exercising, feeding P2281697.JPGkids, helping with schoolwork, cleaning some more, feeding people again, sometimes off to a meeting (I hate committee meetings more than getting my teeth cleaned, which means I hate them A LOT. I’d rather do just about anything than sit in a dentist’s chair while a hygienist picks at my teeth and gums with sharp little tools, so just use that as a measure as to how much I despise committee meetings), then off to work.

Mad Dash, by Patricia Gaffney, is finish #19 for the year. I always feel a little guilty saying that I “read” an audiobook…especially since I like to read them and sew at the same time. This means that I sometimes miss a word or two as the sewing machine drowns out the audio. But, I will push the guilt aside and count it anyways…because I can…and I’m making up the rules about what counts and what doesn’t. So there!

I checked this one out from the library weeks and weeks ago. It is now overdue (even after renewing it 3 times). Oops. Knowing that I was soon going to be getting a call from the library about my crime (I did this morning), I figured I better get it finished over the weekend. So I did. And while I was listening to the final disk, I finished this cute little pillow from the scraps of my most recent quilt:

P2281698.JPGLove, love, love it. (Did I love the book? I wouldn’t use the word “love.” I sort of liked it. I found a few parts depressing. Dash, the main character, decides to take a break from her marriage for a time, and we are left wondering throughout most of the story if she and her husband will reconcile or go their separate ways.)

And here’s something else I love: https://youtu.be/XQrvLfJK2W8

Watch and enjoy a laugh.

Finish #18 – The Singing Tree

Last time I wrote, I shared some photos of Belle, the cat, engaged in her favorite activity: sleeping. I couldn’t resist sharing some other recent cat photos. These are of Buster and BooBoo (brothers who just turned 15).

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Poor BooBoo is the one on the bottom. These two liked to cuddle together when they were young fellas, but they weren’t so cuddly as “teenagers.” Now that they have edged into “old men” status, Buster has become ridiculous with his cuddling. In all fairness, he’s old, he’s horribly thin, and his ears are always cold. I think he’s seeking warmth. (Don’t feel too sorry for him, though. He’s still got it in him to terrorize the dog when the mood strikes.) We’ve pondered why Buster seems so old and BooBoo, though the same age, still seems like he’s got a lot of life left in him. We’ve determined that BooBoo is sort of like Rogue from X-Men. Whenever Buster cuddles up with him, BooBoo drains out Buster’s youth and takes it for himself. I really like that photo on the right. BooBoo’s had it with being squashed and is pulling himself out from under Buster with great effort. He’s like toothpaste being squeezed out of the tube!

But enough about the cats! Finish #18 is The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. This was another book that I read to the kids. It’s a sequel to the book The Good Master, which at least one of them has already read this year. (My son tends to always be behind on the “reading list.” He’d much rather do computer things that I simply don’t understand. He uses words like “quad core” and the like, and I just shake my head and freely admit that I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.)

I enjoyed The Singing Tree. (I just found a quote by CS Lewis that seems quite appropriate whenever I read a children’s novel and enjoy it: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” This was actually a recent answer to the Cryptoquote in the newspaper. I finally figured out how to solve them and now feel like a genius.) Set in Hungary during World War I, it tells the story of Kate and Jancsi and their family as they and those around them deal with sending loved ones off to war and the losses that sometimes follow. I might just have to pick up The Good Master and give that one a read, too.

 

Finish #17 – The Liar

P2251691.JPGHow is it possible that a new Nora Roberts’ book was published in 2015 (and it looks like the library received a copy of this book in APRIL) and I just found out about it last week? My gosh! It’s been out almost a year! I’m feeling so out of the loop. I guess that’s what happens when you pretty much rely on the library for your reading material and you have to share that one copy with all of the cheapskate Nora Roberts fans in town who also won’t pay to purchase a copy of their very own.

I really enjoyed this story. I was pulled in from the beginning and could hardly put it down. I, in fact, spent more evenings this past week reading this book while cozied up in the “couch wedge” than I did watching season 4 of Fringe, our latest guilty pleasure. There’s Peter Bishop missing and forgotten as of the end of season 3, and I should be glued to the screen to find out what’s going to happen to him. Instead I’m reading The Liar and Peter’s left in limbo. Just for that, Nora Roberts gets two thumbs up for this book.

Back to the “couch wedge.” Who is the genius that invented this heavenly corner of couch that connects two other couches? They should receive some sort of award. Perhaps we’ll call it the “Couch Potato Award,” as that is what I become once I succumb to wedge’s siren call. Tuck a pillow behind your back, toss a hand-knitted throw blanket over your knees…AMAZING. And if you add a fire in the fireplace, it doesn’t get much better than that!IMAG0356.jpg

Even Belle loves the couch wedge. Look at her there, sleeping away. Of course, Belle will sleep just about anywhere.  She doesn’t care if she’s in a bowl of oranges or if she’s using a calculator as a pillow and a piece of paper as a blanket. (And yes, Belle is a counter-cruising cat. Don’t judge. They make Lysol for a reason. She is also well-trained and knows to vacate the counter when human daddy opens his office door and heads toward the kitchen.)

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Finish #16 – Friction

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This past weekend was quite a weekend…plenty of time for relaxing, quilting, not relaxing (i.e. hiking through the snowy woods), and, of course, reading.

I finished my second quilt for 2016 a couple of days ago. I had hoped to have it completed by Valentine’s Day. The colors don’t feel Valentines-ish, but the “love” vibe is definitely felt through all of the hearts on the fabrics.

We enjoyed a long walk through the woods on Sunday. The ice and snow were melting, making many of our steps uncertain. At times we’d only sink into the snow a little bit; at others we might sink in to our knees. (And sometimes we’d see bare ground.)IMAG0326.jpg

IMAG0318.jpgSee that photo to the right? That’s when things got a bit dicey. This is our “land bridge” between two bodies of water…usually this spot has a few logs and a bunch of mud. When we arrived there this past weekend, there was only one log and quite a bit of water. We had a decision to make– figure out how to safely cross with the dog or go all the way around the second pond. (At this point it was approaching dusk and a very light sprinkling of water was falling from the sky, making the idea of walking around the second pond not all that appealing.) Daring son made the decision for us by leaping across before we’d fully discussed the situation. He ended up ankle deep in frigid water and had to walk home in wet socks. The rest of us found a couple logs to complete the “bridge” and another log to use as a “cane” to help us make it across the slippery wood. Luna, the dog did not handle the bridge well and chose to bumble her way across with at least one foot in the water at all times. (All in all, it was a great day for her. She had a long walk, got to rub her head all over some suspicious looking snow, AND got to get super muddy once we reached the road to home. Then again, she had to get in the bathtub when we got home…so maybe not such a fabulous end to her day.)

When I wasn’t quilting or adventuring, I did get a bit of reading in, which brings me to my latest finish: Friction by Sandra Brown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI happen to be a huge fan of Sandra Brown, so I’ve got nothing but good things to say about this book. It kept me hooked. I wanted to stay up late and read all night…but I’m too responsible to do that. (Translation: I’m a horrible crank if I don’t get enough sleep.) Definitely two thumbs up from me for this one.