Finish #59 – Stars of Fortune

P9121816.JPGSee those pumpkins in the picture? We grew those. I’m so proud! So far there are five mini ones that we’ve picked and there two more in the garden. I think that minis must be the way to go for us, as we’ve not had any luck in the past with bigger ones. Our garden also produced one watermelon. I’m not so proud of that…it was miniscule. We’ve already enjoyed two spaghetti squash, and there are several more in the garden. I dug up quite a few smallish sweet potatoes…our first ones ever. They were yummy. The beans are pretty much done, and all I can say is, “Thank goodness!” Beans, beans, and more beans…ALL SUMMER LONG. Since beans grow so well for us, we plant a ton. Picking, washing, blanching, freezing, repeat. It’s taken awhile, but we are finally figuring out what grows well for us, and what doesn’t. I guess I should be thankful that beans are one of the veggies that grow well…heaven forbid if the only thing we could grow was okra. (No offense to okra lovers out there. I’m just not a fan.)

As the garden season is winding down, other things are just getting started. I’m back to my September-May jobs. Eldest daughter is back to her dual enrollment classes at a local college. She took five classes last year. This year she’ll take six. (The goal is to have a year of credits completed before she graduates from high school and transfers to another college.) In all the busyness of doing my normal stuff, plus my jobs, plus trekking wherever a kid needs to be whenever they need to be there, I’m hoping I can squeeze in plenty of time to finish the remaining 41 books this year to reach my goal. (As I laid in bed last night being nearly smothered by Rosie cat who decided my shoulder, arm, and head were a perfect place to purr away the wee hours of the morning, I calculated that I’ve got a lot of books to read over the next three months!)

As for finish #59, Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts, what can I really say. It’s a Nora Roberts book…I’ve never read a bad one. This one was no exception. There was a moment within the first couple of pages where I was maybe thinking, “This might be difficult to get into.” I’m not really all that into reading stories about goddesses or other supernatural things. Once I got into the story, though, I was hooked. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the availability of book two in this trilogy at the library.

 

Finish #58 -The Way Life Should Be

P9041813.JPGI can’t believe that my favorite season, autumn, is upon us! I love those crisp fall nights, with the windows open so the breeze can roll in, with a homemade quilt or knitted blanket draped across my lap, with wool socks on my feet! Love it, love it, love it! (Don’t much like what follows fall, but on the plus side, that season brings fires in the fireplace, so the trudging through slushy parking lots, snow-blowing mountains of snow, and astronomical heating bills are almost worth it…almost.)

The sad thing about fall is that our favorite ice cream shop will be closing for the season, leaving my girls without a job for a few months and me without my weekly (or twice weekly if I’m lucky) fix of peanut-buttery, cookie dough-laced goodness.

And speaking of food…

Finish #58, The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline, has lots of food in it. I was nearly salivating whenever the characters were talking about or cooking food. I also enjoyed the storyline and loved Nonna (the main character’s grandmother). I could hardly put this book down and was glad I was stuck riding in a car (on our way to and from a niece’s wedding) with no responsibilities pressing on me and plenty of time to indulge in long periods of reading.

Now that the wedding is behind us, we are looking forward to a stretch of time with no travel. I’m certain that Luna, the dog who should be an Internet sensation but isn’t, is also looking forward to a stretch of time where she doesn’t have to go visit her “friends” at the kennel. Poor thing has been there three times in the past three months. And the cats, especially old man Buster who follows me around like a shadow, are sure to be happy that their routine will be back to normal…even if normal means the dog has to be there! Do you know what a hotel room feels like with five people in it? Let me paint a more descriptive picture: five people, one bathroom, two air mattresses – because no kid wants to share a bed with another kid, furniture moved all around to accommodate those two air mattresses, luggage…I’d almost prefer the solitude of an empty cage at the kennel! I so appreciate home where we can all spread out.

Finish #57 – The Truth Seeker

P9041815.JPGThis past weekend I was able to spend quite a long time leisurely browsing through Barnes and Noble and was thrilled to find the cookbook Forks Over Knives which seems to have many tasty sounding recipes in it that will, hopefully, appeal to our mostly vegan middle daughter. (Hopefully the recipes will also appeal to the other two kids who like to complain about the lack of meat in their diet.) We’ve dabbled in vegetarianism off and on, being mostly vegetarian when the kids were young, delved back into meat eating later on, and have now been mostly off meat since middle daughter declared over a year ago that she would not be eating meat ever again. The strong will of this kid is a force to be reckoned with, so meat-free we are. Occasionally, mostly at restaurants where meatless options are sadly lacking, we might have something meaty. If middle daughter isn’t with us, we usually say, “Don’t tell the Elf.” Hopefully someone will get that reference.

Anyway, back to the cookbook…I made one recipe last night for dinner and found it to be tasty. Lunch today is a chowder recipe that uses pureed veggies rather than cream to thicken it up. I’m anxious to try it, as it smells delicious and dilly.

P9041814.JPG

The librarians would probably like to have a “library jail” to put me in, as finish #57, Truth Seeker by Dee Henderson, is now overdue!  This story continues where the previous two books I read by her (one last year and one a few weeks ago) left off. I’m really enjoying this series, and look forward to reading the rest of the books.

Finish #56 – Dolphin Key

Oh. My. Goodness. We are halfway through September. How is this possible? It was about this time last year when I started to wonder if I would make it through 100 books before the end of December. I’m definitely wondering that again this year. Last year was so much busier, as we were spending hours and hours doing home improvement projects. A memory just popped up on Facebook this morning of Hubby standing on top of the homemade scaffolding we erected in the stairway last year so he could do all the high up painting that I was too much of a wimp to attempt to do. We’ve done some home projects this year but nothing that compares to last year, so I can’t really use that as an excuse for being behind on my reading! (Our most recent project has been to repaint the home office. Hubby picked a darkish shade of blue. I was a little skeptical, as it’s a small room and I didn’t want it to seem small and cave-like when painted, but it turned out really nice. Next up is new paint for the kitchen and family room.)

P8271811.JPGAmidst the busyness of painting and getting back into our fall routine, I finished Dolphin Key by Jon Land. This is finish #56. It’s a short one that took me just a couple days to read, though if you had time, you’d most likely be able to read this one in a few hours. I find that when I hunt for skinny books that are quick to read, I often find some good stories by authors previously unknown to me.

This book focuses on Dolphin Human Therapy. I knew nothing about this prior to picking up the book. Of course I knew that there were touristy places where people can go to swim with dolphins, but I was unaware that dolphins are used to help people with special needs. This story touches on this, while also showing how the dolphins have helped in the lives of the three main characters.

But it can’t just be a feel good book, because every book needs a conflict. This one gives us a couple. Tension exists between a father and daughter, both with troubled pasts. Conflict arises between those who believe that the therapy program is a good thing and those that believe it is animal abuse.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can find by this author. I’m also looking forward to perusing the non-fiction, as it seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve searched that area of the library for something interesting.

This is totally random, but we all need some warm fuzzy kitty pictures in our lives. So here’s one of Buster enjoying his new bed. All he’s missing is some warm sun on his old bones, but the sun is stuck behind a thick layer of gloomy clouds. I couldn’t figure out this morning why he was just wandering around on his tottery old legs, until one of the girls suggested that he was looking for the sun. We all love this old man who turned 15 this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Finish #55 – Heroes Are My Weakness

Oh my goodness. It’s another book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I don’t know if I’ve made some sort of subconscious decision to read as many of her books as possible this year, but that seems to be what’s happening. I am horribly addicted! Finish #55 is Heroes Are My Weakness.

What can I say about this book other than it was great? It was a fun read. The hero was delightfully flawed with a questionable, perhaps dark, past. The heroine wasn’t fantastically good-looking (which I hate in books because that is so annoying). She was actually quite quirky. The bad guy(s)…let’s just use the word unexpected.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then there were the puppets. Puppets? Yes, I know that seems just a bit creepy. Have you seen that commercial where the guy and girl are on a first date and he tells her he’s into puppetry, then pulls out a puppet that looks like the girl and starts kissing it? Yes, puppets can be creepy! (Like clowns!) But these puppets seemed to add a lot to the story, and they (and their comments) fit right in.

I have one more book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips waiting in my basket. I’m forcing myself to read something else before I dive into that one.

On another favorite topic…Luna, the dog who should be an internet sensation but isn’t, has had a rough time of it lately. So many struggles!

P3181714.JPGStruggle #1: She injured a foot/toe/something while running up the driveway awhile back. Since she didn’t want to put weight on her foot, we took her to the vet, where she proceeded to put plenty of weight on her foot whilst attempting to head for the door when she got called back for her appointment. Score one for Luna, though, because when the tech came at her with the thermometer, she promptly plopped her backside on the floor. Needless to say, there was no temperature taken that day!

Struggle #2: Walks have been lacking lately. Between the rain and mysterious heavy breathing in the woods, we’ve been unable to get a decent walk in for a few days. I have no clue what was breathing so loudly in the woods, but it made us turn right around. No one wants to encounter a bear. That bear spray we carry is, hopefully, only for show (and will, hopefully, never end up being erroneously sprayed on a human like the last can).

Struggle #3: Whilst out for her morning potty trip, Luna found some wasps/hornets/yellow jackets/evil stinging devil bugs. Crazy biting at the flying buggers and running through the shrubbery did not get that nasty critter off. I, being terrified of evil stinging devil bugs, called for Hubby to handle the situation. My brave man plucked that thing off her back by its wing, tossed it to the porch floor, and punched it. Seriously. He punched it. On the concrete porch floor.

Here’s to hoping that Luna can make it through a week without any new struggles!

Finish #54 – A Hatred For Tulips

You wouldn’t believe my excitement when I spotted a DVD of Far from the Madding Crowd at the library. I snatched that thing up with more excitement than most people would probably show for a movie based on a classic. (Or at least more excitement than they would willingly show in public.) I’m ashamed to say, though, that it put me to sleep two nights in a row. (The second night, I didn’t even make it five minutes before my eyes were crossing from exhaustion.) In my defense, it had been a very busy weekend! The movie really wasn’t snore-worthy. It was actually quite good and followed the novel well. I really hate it when movies are vastly different from the novels on which they are based. Anyone else feel the same?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy most recent finish is A Hatred for Tulips by Richard Lourie. I read The Diary of Anne Frank many years ago. This book, a fictional account of a boy named Joop who lived during WWII, tells a tale of how Anne Frank’s family was betrayed.

I seem to have this strange, unexplainable interest in books set during WWII. I think it all began with a research paper I wrote in high school.

I found A Hatred for Tulips to be thought-provoking. What would you do to help your family in a time of great need? What would you do if desperate for a parent’s love and acceptance? And how do you live with your actions?

Finish #53 – The Moon is Down

Labor Day weekend was a busy one for us. We didn’t enjoy a long weekend away, as wisdom teeth extraction, church responsibilities, and home chores kept us either in pain or very busy. (Or both, as in the case of painting the deck!) We built our house 15 years ago and finally got around to painting the deck this weekend. Let me just say, it was a much larger job than I thought! Hours and hours of painting the railing. UGH! Painful knees from kneeling on the floor as we painted. OUCH! But the end result…Love it! (It remains to be seen how much the wisteria vine that was growing through the floor and vining around the railing liked being disturbed and dribbled with paint.)

IMAG0696.jpgIMAG0697.jpg

We also cleaned out the garage…quite possibly the homeowner job I hate the most. Hubby had a really “fun” time cleaning out the floor drain which had filled up with 15 years worth of sludge that wouldn’t allow all the melting water drug in as snow and ice to drain out of the garage this past winter. There will be no slushy floor this year!

It seemed like it was about time for another “classic.” This time I chose The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck. I had no idea that this book had such an impact during World War II. So much impact, in fact, that possession of the book carried the punishment of death in Fascist Italy. Being a book about the impact of war on both the conquered and the conquerors, humanizing both sides when we often don’t want to humanize our enemies, I can see how this book would have been an important one at that time of history.

P8151796.JPG

I have yet to meet a Steinbeck novel that I don’t like. This one is no exception. Prior to reading The Moon is Down, I read Of Mice and Men in junior high and The Grapes of Wrath (a favorite classic) in high school.