Luna dog: A mystery no longer (and another book for 2017)

dscn2176Luna, the dog who should be an internet sensation but isn’t, has learned her heritage! It only took us about three and a half years to buy a DNA test kit and send it in. Then began the long 3 weeks or so of waiting for the results to be reported. Now, whenever anyone asks us what breed she is, we have an answer…

She’s pretty much a mutt! There’s a bit of German Shepherd, some Labrador Retriever, a smattering of Rottweiler, husky (no mystery there), Samoyed, and (strangely) Chow.

Chow? She looks absolutely nothing like a Chow.

Appearances can be deceiving, apparently.

Just like you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

See what I did there? Nice segue, don’t you think?

In this case, though, the cover adequately represented what was inside the book, so I could, indeed, judge a book by it’s cover. (I do this frequently. I’m not ashamed to admit it.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was another Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. Don’t worry. There won’t be too many more. I’m running out of what our library has to offer by this author. First Star I See Tonight was finish #9 for 2017. It was a delightful tale involving a female PI, a Super Bowl hero (fitting for the month of February, what with the Super Bowl being played earlier this month), a Middle Eastern prince, an old lady who thinks her dead husband is still alive, and a few other interesting characters.

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One Guinea Pig Might Not Be Enough

Years ago we had a children’s book titled One Guinea Pig is Not Enough. Sadly, I sold it when we were clearing out a hoard of children’s books a few years back. I’m wishing now that I’d saved that one. Reading that book to middle daughter when she was an impressionable toddler must have planted the seeds for her current obsession. It seems that one guinea pig is not enough for her. Shortly after Beatrice came to live with us, middle daughter began (if she ever stopped) checking out the rescue sight for a second furry rodent.

This Sunday we’ll be introducing Beatrice to a friend. We are crossing our fingers that all goes well and they can happily co-exist in the same cage. We’ve been informed (by the rescue folks who know Beatrice) that Beatrice has a bit of a dominant personality, which, in so many words, translates to “might not play well with others.”

Humph. No one likes to be told that about their guinea pig!

DSCN2084.JPGThere’s Beatrice with finish #8 for 2017, Ain’t She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Yes, that’s my second book by her this year. Guess what? I’m reading another by her right now!

Ain’t she sweet? is what we’d say about Beatrice, not this “dominant personality” business! (Well, most of us would say that. Son would say quite the opposite. He’s not a fan of sweet little Beatrice. I think it might have something to do with the fact that middle daughter hassles him with talk of guinea pigs morning, noon, and night. Well, at least noon and night. He’s a bit of a late sleeper!)

As with all previous Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, I really enjoyed Ain’t She Sweet, the story of a previously stuck-up southern belle who returns to her hometown and experiences some difficulty making amends with all the people she hurt as a teenager.

I’ll attempt to resist the pull of Phillips’ books when I next go to the library. I might not be able to do so, though! Her books are quite a delightful read.

Oh. My. Gosh. Fault in our Stars 2.0

dscn2072My daughters won’t be clamoring to read this one. Finish #7 for the year is First Love by James Patterson and Emily Raymond. Do you know why my daughters won’t be clamoring to read this one? It’s because this book is The Fault in Our Stars 2.0 without any improvements on the original. No one in this family who read Fault in Our Stars has anything at all positive to say about the book. We are, quite frankly, baffled and perplexed by how popular it was!

Let’s go through a little comparison checklist between the two books, shall we?

Boy with cancer – check

Girl with cancer/previously with cancer – check

Road trip/plane trip – check

Meeting with an author – check

The word metaphor used in the book – check

Boy and girl engage in adult activity (which middle daughter doesn’t think I should include in this comparison, because apparently this is a common thing in teen books…perhaps I should be looking into the books she’s reading? I don’t recall teen books being so “racy” when I was a kid.)

Shortly after which…

Boy dies – check and check (and sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read either one.)

Only thing missing…a scene where Hazel (Fault in Our Stars reference here) lets a little girl put her breathing tube thingies in her nose.Eww.

Now, I’m not making light of cancer or teenagers with cancer, but come on…two far-fetched plots revolving around teens with cancer that were published in the same decade with so many similarities…It’s just too much!

This might be the first James Patterson book I’ve read. It might also be the last.

 

 

The Winter of Our Discontent

DSCN2069.JPGThe fact that it is still winter leaves me feeling a bit discontented. The fact that Finish #6, The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck, had really nothing to do with winter left me perplexed. But then I thought a little deeper (something I’ve tried not to do since AP English in high school left me with a great distaste for analyzing literature) and surmised that “winter” might just be symbolic of something…perhaps the state of one’s life or one’s soul, and so the title began to make sense. There were a number of wintery, discontented souls in this book, which, coupled with the gloomy, rainy, snowy, sunless winter season up here, left me feeling a bit more morose than usual for this time of year!

Grapes of Wrath was one of the few classics that I enjoyed in high school. I have also read Of Mice and Men and The Moon is Down. I enjoyed those three by Steinbeck more than The Winter of Our Discontent. I think my issue with this book was that I didn’t care for the characters. Mary Hawley, the wife of the main character, was embarrassed by her husband’s status in the community as simply a shop employee. Ethan Hawley, the main character, ponders and plans a bank robbery and a suicide, both of which do not occur. Allen Hawley, the son, plagiarizes historical writings and wins a contest. His “win” is later revoked when the plagiarizing becomes known. Ellen Hawley, the daughter, just seems strange. Margie Young-Hunt comes across as the town tramp. The banker, Mr. Baker, acts as if the Hawley money belongs to him personally. And there’s not much good that can be said of any of the minor characters either. However, despite my dislike of the characters, they were memorable.

I’ve got to admit, I feel slightly more intelligent whenever I read a classic. Whether I am actually more intelligent…who knows. I do know one thing. It is nice to read a book that doesn’t follow a formula. Sure, it’s nice to know when reading a romantic novel that the formula will be the following: Guy and girl meet. They fall in love. They have some sort of conflict where they appear to fall out of love but are still pining away for each other. They get back together. Happily Ever After…

Of course there’s another romantic novel formula: Guy and girl meet. They fall in love. One of them dies. (Jane Green, Nicolas Sparks…thanks so much for shaking things up, I say with great sarcasm.)

With a classic, you just never know where it’s going to go and where the characters are going to end up.

 

Knit, Knit, Purl, and Read

I’ve accomplished one of my goals for the year! A lingering project has been completed. It only took 3 (I think) years. You would not believe the size of this afghan. Or the weight. It’s knitted with two strands of yarn at a time, both blue and red, and it makes a nice, thick blanket. I can comfortably cover up all the way from my toes to my neck! I’m short, though, so that might not be saying much! Luna seems to be enjoying it. (Not as much as she’s apparently been enjoying the couch whenever we leave the house. Hair left behind as evidence: Sorry, Luna, you need to do a better job covering up your crime.)

DSCN2068.JPGI’ve not posted anything in several days. Not because I haven’t been reading. I have. Not because I haven’t completed any books. I have. I haven’t posted because internet service was sketchy all last week. Dial-up would have been faster. Seriously. I’m not kidding. We’re blaming cloud cover. I’m just thankful the clouds are gone, sort of, and we’ve seen a bit of the sun today.

As to my other crafty goals, the Jesus cross-stitch saw some progress. The quilt, however, not so much. Well, actually nothing at all. I thought about working on it, but I just didn’t want to. I started a new quilt instead. (While another one hangs out on the back of a chair waiting for me to quilt it!) I am the queen of works-in-progress. I did finish a pair of sleep shorts, though.

As to books, I finished my fourth and fifth books for 2017, and rather than write a post about each of them in this time of dodgy internet service, I will write about both during this break in cloud cover that could go away at any moment!

DSCN2062.JPGNumber 4 was Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich. It was classic Evanovich. Though, is it just me or is she actually using a few less swear words? I’m not complaining, just making an observation. I laughed out loud a few times while reading this book, so that’s always a sign of a good book. I’m still wondering how much longer Rex the hamster is going to live. I’m no hamster expert (though we did have two as pets years ago), but I’m fairly certain this one has lived way longer than is normal.

Book #5 was Nobody’s Baby But  Mine. This was another Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. If you recall from last year, I’ve developed a fondness for books by her. This one was as enjoyable as all the rest. DSCN2063.JPG

If the author sounds bored reading their own book…

Rain, ice, slippery roads…this past week has been “Pure Michigan” joy. We headed to town on Tuesday (because eldest had to get to a college class and there was no way we were letting her drive–otherwise we wouldn’t have gone anywhere) and saw three cars off the side of the road. A plow truck got stuck. Just as the ice is starting to melt, another bout of freezing rain is heading our way tomorrow! Yippee! Perhaps I should shine up the ice skates and use those to get to town.

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made on at least some of the goals that I’ve set for myself for this year. I’ve taken off 5 pounds since Christmas. Yeah! No fancy diet, no change in exercise required. I still workout for around an hour most mornings. I still eat a lot of food. What I’m not doing, is eating a lot of sugary goodness. I’m still eating treats, but I’ve finally come to a point where I’m telling myself that I want to be healthy and get these few pounds off more than I want that extra cookie (or two or…five). So I’m currently left with about four pounds to go. (If I was really ambitious, I might go for also losing those five remaining pounds of pregnancy weight…but they’ve hung around since 2003, so I’ve grown quite attached!)

Progress has been made on the knitted blanket I previously mentioned. I believe that I’m dealing with a never ending skein of yarn. The blanket keeps growing, an inch at a time each night that I work on it, but the remaining tangle of yarn doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. I’ve also worked a bit on the Jesus cross-stitch. I would make faster progress if it wasn’t being done on midnight blue linen. I literally have to sit under a light in order to see anything! I also completed the pajama pants and have made good progress on the pajama shorts. No point rushing on those…won’t need them for months yet!

Now, on to the reading goal…

Book #3 of 2017, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, has been completed.

DSCN2061.JPGYou might have guessed from the title of this post that I wasn’t a fan. I may have liked it more (though “like” might be a strong word for feelings toward a book about Alzheimer’s), had I read it rather than listened to it. No offense to the author, just some constructive criticism here: If you sound bored reading your own book, the reader is also likely to be bored. This audiobook really made me appreciate the ones that are read well. I like it when the readers use different voices for the characters. It makes it easier to follow the story. Even a little inflection here and there is nice. With this one, you get nothing. (Except, perhaps, the feeling that you might have Alzheimer’s. By the end I was starting to think that I had Alzheimer’s as  I couldn’t remember the name and address the doctor kept wanting Alice to remember.) All of that said, I do believe the book addressed the challenges the patient and their families face when presented with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Pillows, Projects, and a Book

DSCN2057.JPGWhile the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside is so delightful, I’ve been attacking projects that I’ve been meaning to get to for some time. You many remember that I mentioned something a few weeks ago about setting goals for 2017. Well, I’ve set a few goals for myself…nothing too lofty. Some of them have to do with crafty projects that I’ve been neglecting for various reasons, some have to do with increasing my level of fitness (I like that better than setting a goal to lose those five….aka eight…pounds that need to go), and some are about spending wisely and saving more. Here’s to hoping I’ll succeed!

As to my crafty project goals, I’m making it my mission this year to finish a queen-size quilt I started when I was pregnant with Eldest. I’m embarrassed to say that was 18 years ago. What, you might ask, has kept me from finishing it when I’ve finished numerous other quilts in those 18 years? The answer is simple. I don’t want to quilt it! It’ll probably be too big to quilt with the machine, I don’t want to quilt it by hand, and I refuse to pay someone else to quilt it. But, this year is the year it will be completed. Really. I mean it. I mean it more than I meant it several years ago when I made it my goal to finish it then. I’ve also got a cross-stitch project in the works: Jesus in Gethsemane. He’s been languishing in an unfinished state for some time now, but after putting in a few hours over the past week on that project, I’m seeing some good progress. Finally, I’ve had a red and blue afghan in the works for a couple years…that’s getting completed this year also.

So, in an effort to avoid working on the things I need to work on, I made pillows! Three lovely pillows to match a quilt that I finished last year. Check them out in the above photo. I took the same block and mixed it up a bit to get three different pillows. I love them! They make me feel like I’m at the beach even while the snow flies outside. (I also finished up two more Christmas ornaments, another quilt top, a table runner top, cut out a pair of sleep pants and a pair of sleep shorts, shortened a pair of jeans because I can’t buy anything the right length, and got a back cut out for and pinned to a baby blanket…all this in the past two weeks! Yippee!)

I’ve been listening to an audiobook in the sewing room and have nearly completed it. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. (And believe me, I’ve got plenty to say!) For now, though, my second finish for 2017 is Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts. This is book two in the Guardians Trilogy.

You may remember that I had a difficult time getting into the first book in this trilogy last year. The same was true for book two. I thought I was never going to finish reading this book! I’m usually such a fan of Nora Roberts. I think this book has too many “fantasy” elements to it. I believe that’s the proper word.  It’s got a werewolf, a fellow that can travel from place to place with just a compass, an immortal, a mermaid, a seer, and a magician. Plus, there’s a demon and a crazy witch-like lady (using “lady” loosely here). Not being a big fan of “fantasy,” I think this was just too much for me! I’m certain I’ll read the third book simply because I can’t read only two of the three, but I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it about as much. One thumb up for this one, one thumb down.