Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow, snow, snow

I worked until around noon on Christmas Eve; it had started to snow very lightly. I left the office and ran a few errands--picked up some prescriptions at Target, got a coffee shop gift card for my father-in-law, bought some gift bags at the drugstore. By the time I got home at around 3:00, it had started snowing harder.

I mixed up a couple of batches of Chex party mix and got those in the oven, then started putting together some spinach dip, which is what I always take to holidays at Bob's parents' house. We had put up the Christmas tree the night before, and I had made about 8 dozen miniature cupcakes; I had left them out to cool, so I started frosting them while the party mix cooked.

Once the cupcakes were frosted, the party mix was out of the oven and cooling, and the spinach dip was in the refrigerator, I started wrapping presents. Bob was working until 7:00, so I figured I needed to get in the shower by about 6:00 to be ready to leave when he got home. By 6:00 I was hearing reports of dangerous driving conditions, but since Bob folks live extremely close to us, I wasn't worried about getting over there.

But my sister called and wondered if we were going to be able to get out to my family's Christmas on Christmas day. We were going to my brother's house, which is quite a ways away, and we needed to swing by and pick up my sister on the day, since she was having car trouble. My parents had already said that they didn't want to get out, even if someone came and picked them up. They were concerned about walking on the ice and snow, and I didn't blame them a bit. But it wouldn't really be Christmas if everyone except them was at my brother's.

We decided we'd talk on Christmas morning and figure out what to do. Then my mother-in-law called and asked when we were going to be there. I told her Bob was working (his dad knew that but hadn't told her), so we wouldn't be there until at least 7:30. She wasn't sure when everyone else would be there, but she said she'd just see us when we got there. When Bob called to say he was on his way home, I told him he might call her; he called me back and said that his dad had cancelled Christmas -- he didn't want everyone out on the roads.

It made sense, and I wasn't exactly surprised, but I had all that food . . . And I had all of my mother-in-law's gifts. I had done the shopping for his dad, wrapped everything, and was going to deliver them that night. When Bob got home, I said I didn't mind going out, but his mother wasn't going to have any gifts on Christmas Day. He said, well, he would just go over there and take them, so I threw a pair of sweatpants on under my robe (I'd taken a bath while I was waiting to see what was going to happen) and put together a bag of food--a plastic bag of crackers, a container of spinach dip, a pie plate full of little cupcakes, and the traditional Christmas Eve boiled shrimp that Bob had fixed the night before.

We drove over -- they live only a couple of miles away from us -- delivered the gifts and snacks, and came home to have our own Christmas. On Christmas morning I got up and called my sister before I started cooking. It looked like we had gotten about a foot of snow, and we agreed that it didn't make sense for everyone to get out on the road and risk having an accident, that we could always get together later. So I called my sister-in-law and asked her if she was okay with that, and she said that was fine, that maybe we could get together later in the weekend.

So we just had a quiet, low-key day at home, watching Christmas movies and snacking. In the middle of the afternoon our neighbor called and said that she had tried to leave, and had gotten her car stuck behind Bob's in the driveway (we share a driveway). So we put our coats on and went out and helped her dig her car out, and got it back in her garage, and Bob decided to go check out the road conditions, and go by Quick Trip for some soda.

About a half hour later instead of showing up at the back door, he rang the doorbell at the front of the house. He said that when he got home, there was a different car parked in the driveway, and he couldn't get to the garage. He said he didn't want to park on the street in case the snowplows came through, and guessed he'd go park in a church parking lot a mile or so away, and walk back. I said hang on, I'll get my coat and follow you over and drive you back, and then realized if he couldn't get in the driveway, I couldn't get out.

While he was gone, I got a call from the other neighbor saying that she had come home and hadn't been able to get up the driveway to her garage. I told her not to worry about it, that surely the lawn care people would show up and clean the driveways the next day. Bob had to be at work at 6:00 the next morning, so he had to get up early and walk to his car before he could drive to work. He was aggravated, but what could he do?

I kept checking throughout the day, but the car stayed there in the driveway. There are four households that share the double driveway, so none of us could get out. There wasn't anywhere I needed to be today, but I didn't want it to go on any longer. When Bob got home and the car was still there, and the snow plows hadn't been through, he said he guessed he was going to have to shovel the drive and get her out.

I came out, too, and we had maybe a third of the long driveway shoveled when the snowplows showed up. When they reached our driveway I ran in the house and called our neighbor and said she needed to get out there and move her car, that we had shoveled a path around it and the snowplows needed to get in and finish the drive.

I'm still not sure what we're going to do about Christmas, but at least I can get out of the driveway now.

The sentiment on the Christmas card yesterday, "Happy Merry Christmas," comes from something my nephew, who has Downs Syndrome, used to say. I think it was the Christmas version of "Happy Birhday."

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas iPhone Apps

I'm a sucker for all kinds of Christmas-themed items. I always buy Christmas print paper towels and paper napkins, and I love putting up Christmas dishtowels in the kitchen and Christmas soap in the bathrooms. So it isn't a surprise that I love Christmas iPhone apps.

I downloaded a lot of free apps that I ended up deleting; these are the best of the ones that I've found. Email me if you've found any other good ones.


In this beautiful free arcade-style game, you lob snowballs at various targets that pop up in the landscape such as snowmen and candy canes. By Federico Musante.


iTunes link (Free)

Winter Snow Globe

Pretty simple. Shake your iphone and snow falls onto the snowman, just like a real snow globe. Music plays, too, with no way to turn it off, so if you don't want the music, be sure to mute your iPhone first. Developed by YetToBeNamed Enterprises.

iTunes link (Free)


In the game Grinchmas, you get to choose whether you're an evil Grinch or a merry Grinch, which determines what kind of ammunition you have. If you choose Evil Grinch, you're throwing snowballs at the little houses, if you're the Merry Grinch, you're throwing gifts. Each time you make a hit, you get a point. From Oceanhouse Media, this game is currently on sale for $.99.

iTunes link ($.99)

Dr. Seuss Camera, the Grinch Edition

I wrote about Dr. Seuss Cam the other day. Basically, you choose from a variety of Dr. Seuss-inspired Christmas themes, then take a picture of someone, fitting their face inside the frame. Right now you can only take a photo, you can't use a photo from your library, but they are adding that in a future release. From Oceanhouse Media.


iTunes link ($2.99)

Elf Command

In Elf Command (free), the little robotic elves (they resemble Lego characters) are working on an assembly line. They have to grab the gifts, Christmas trees and candies that come rolling down the line and throw them into the proper boxes. Developed by RetroDreamer.


iTunes link (Free)

Elf Jumpers

In this free game, Santa's sleigh flies overhead and you are tasked with guiding the elves into the chimneys of the houses below by swiping to make the wind blow, and avoiding obstacles such as thunder clouds and birds. Developed by


iTunes link (Free)

Gaia Xmas

There is a "regular" version of Gaia also, this is the Christmas version. Various Christmas-themed "blocks" fall from the top of the screen to form groups. The larger the group, the more points you get. There is some strategy involved to build large blocks -- you can turn the phone so that the blocks fall in a certain way. One of the interesting things about Gaia is that there is no language involved at all, there are only universally-understood graphics, which is kind of cool. From Quicksand Interactive. Regular Gaia is $2.99 and there is a free lite version. The Christmas version is $1.99 at the app store.


iTunes link ($1.99)

Slacker Holiday Radio

This is the free Christmas version of Slacker Radio from There are 11 different Christmas stations, including Country, Contemporary, R&B, etc.


iTunes link


Implode is a game where you place dynamite and other various types of explosives, and see how well you can destroy a structure. This is the Christmas edition, and there are supposed to be some Christmas items to blow up, but I haven't reached that level yet, apparently. From IUGO Mobile Entertainment.

iTunes link ($.99)

iRelax Melodies - Christmas Edition

This $.99 app is the Christmas version of iRelax Melodies by ILBSoft. You choose from 22 Christmas sounds such as snow falling, children playing, fire crackling, etc., and create your own soundscapes, which you can save to play later. You can also shake the iPhone for a random selection.


iTunes link

Season's Greetings Cards

This $.99 app from Japanese developer Appliya, creates holiday cards from your photos, utilizing various holiday frames and resizable stamps.


iTunes link ($.99)


Christmas Radio is a free app from, with several all-Christmas stations to choose from.

iTunes link (Free)

Christmas Radio

This is another Christmas radio app, this one from BlueMedia Lab. As you can tell, I can't get enough of holiday music!

iTunes link (Free)

Christmas Lifecards

For $.99, Christmas Lifecards from Vivid Apps gives you a large variety of Christmas card templates to choose from. Once you've chosen one and added your own photo, you can further customize your card by adding text, and even applying effects such as grayscale and sepia, and filters such as sharpening, to the photo, then save and email the card to your friends. You can also save a card for editing later if you need to stop.

iTunes link

Christmas Snowman

Christmas Snowman, from , EnsenaSoft, is a game similar to hangman, but with a variety of snowmen. The words are all peripherally relevant to Christmas or winter; each time a wrong letter is selected, the snowman loses a body part.


iTunes link (Free)

The Christmas Tarot

This one isn't really an app, it's a web URL that I created a desktop icon for. I've looked for a Christmas tarot deck for a long time, and someone finally made one, although it's only the Major Arcana. The link goes to a site where you can purchase digital high resolution cards and a PDF guidebook, created by Corrine Kenner, a noted tarot reader and author.

Link ($2.09)

[cross-posted at, and]

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Links

Here are some fun holiday links:

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Suck it up

I had an appointment to get my hair cut and colored on Saturday at noon. Normally my appointment is at 11:00, but they're busier during the holidays and I can't always get the time I want. I knew it would take an hour and a half, and I figured I'd be starving by the time I got out of there, so I drove through McDonald's and got Chicken McNuggets and fries, and a Diet Coke, and ate in the parking lot.

I got my hair done, went to the library and picked up some books, went to the office supply store and bought printer paper, and did a few other errands, and by about 4:00, felt like I needed to go home and take a nap. So I went home, and it turned out that it wasn't really a nap I needed, I was having (I guess) a gall bladder attack.

We had planned on having a little Thanksgiving dinner of our own Saturday evening; Bob was off, so he cooked a turkey while I was out. I thought maybe if I slept a couple of hours I would feel better, but I didn't. I ended up spending all evening in bed, alternately trying to sleep and reading "Grave Secrets" (Charlaine Harris) on my iPhone. I'd read until I got sleepy, then lay down and try to sleep for a little while, but didn't have much luck.

Bob went ahead and carved up the turkey and made some mashed potatoes for his dinner, but I couldn't eat anything. He called a friend of his who's an internist, and he suggested giving me some Pepto Bismol. I couldn't see how that would help, but I was wiling to try, so I took some, and slept for another couple of hours, and when I woke up I felt a lot better. Maybe it helped, I don't know.

In any event, I felt like I lost a whole day, and I really need to figure it out. The problem is that it isn't consistent, but I guess that doesn't matter since I can't control whether something bothers me or not. I just need to suck it up and stop eating anything fried, for one thing. I've read that carbonated beverages are bad, and I've cut down a lot--I don't have them at work any more at all--but I do occasionally have a soda when I'm out. I need to stop that, too, I guess.

It's just hard, and I guess I have a short memory. I was talking to Barb about it over email, and I said I supposed that the first time I end up in the emergency room will make my decision for me!

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Quiet Night

I've been downloading desktop wallpapers from Vlad Studios for several years, and he always has beautiful ones, but this I think this is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time: Quiet Night. It's my current desktop, and probably will be for some time.

I was happy to see that Netflix had the first three seasons of Nash Bridges available. It was one of my favorite shows. I watched the last DVD of the second season tonight, and when I mail it back, Netflix will send me the first DVD of the third season. I originally had the 2-DVD out at a time plan, but this month I scaled back to the one where you only have one at a time. They get them out so quickly that it doesn't really matter, and honestly, the best thing about Netflix is the free movies-on-demand. I can almost always find something worth watching.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Olive. Isn't she just almost too cute?

She spends the entire day sleeping in her bed, but we've discovered that when everyone is gone, like during lunch time, she gets up and runs around. I've come back to my office a couple of times when she didn't expect to see anyone, and she starts, looks guilty, and hightails it back to her bed like she knows she's not supposed to be out of it. It's pretty adorable.

Today Dave came back to his office and said she was out of her bed hanging out with Connor, Dave's big German Shepherd. The minute she saw Dave, though, she scrambled back to her bed and jumped in. So I guess it's not Connor she's intimidated by, but Dave.

Bob's schedule is all over the place. One day he'll go in at 6:30 a.m. and work 'til 3:00, the next day he'll go in at 2:00 p.m. and work until 10:30. Sometimes he goes in at 8:30. And it's never the same from one week to the next. He's had to get up before dawn a few days in a row, and lately it's been hard for me to go back to sleep after he gets up. Plus I've been trying to go to bed earlier, too, so I'm sure that contributes to it.

This morning he got up at 4:30, I think, and I tried to go back to sleep, but just couldn't. I keep my iPhone plugged in on my night table over night, so I grabbed that, laid back in bed, and checked email, Facebook and Twitter, then played a couple of games of Solitaire and read another story in Miracle ("The Inn"). By that time he'd showered and dressed and was ready to leave, so I kissed him goodbye and turned off the light, and was almost immediately asleep.

I guess it was probably only another half hour or so before my alarm went off. I always think it's strange how I can wake up in the middle of the night and have a terrible time getting to sleep, but can fall almost instantly back asleep after hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. Just one of those mysteries of nature.

I'm sending out Christmas cards again this year, and anyone who wants one, just send me an email. If you've sent me your address before, you're probably already on my list, but it wouldn't hurt to send it to me again just to be sure I have it right.

There's a new iPhone app review up at my iPhone site.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I know I mention this book every year around this time, but I love it: Connie Willis' Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. It's a big part of my Christmas season, and actually I could read it any time of year.

The title story, "Miracle," is one of Willis' trademark screwball comedies. Lauren, an office worker, is overwhelmed with Christmas tasks--finding a new dress for the Christmas party, mailing her Christmas cards, thinking of what gifts to get her family, and, in addition, has been roped into doing the corporate gift shopping for the office by a co-worker who she has fallen for. She thinks he's her heart's desire, but the Spirit of Christmas Present (as in "gift") decides it's his mission to convince her otherwise, and in the meantime, teach her the true meaning of Christmas. His tactics include turning her black sequined off the shoulder dress into a fetching concoction of bark and leaves, and decorating her Christmas tree with handmade brown objects made by rainforest indians.

Another favorite story is "Inn," which is set in a suburban church during a choir rehearsal. A young homeless couple turns up at the church, barefoot and dressed in completely inappropriate clothing for a December evening. The outcome is somewhat predictable, but it's a lovely story.

From the introduction:

I love Christmas. All of it--decorating the tree and singing in the choir and baking cookies and wrapping presents. I even like the parts most people hate--shopping in crowded malls and reading Christmas newsletters and seeing relatives and standing in baggage check-in lines at the airport.

Okay, I lied. Nobody likes standing in baggage check-in lines. I love seeing people get off the plane, though, and holly and candles and eggnog and carols.

But most of all, I love Christmas stories and movies. Okay, I lied again. I don't love all Christmas stories and movies. It's a Wonderful Life,for instance. And Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree."

But I love Miracle on 34th Street and Christopher Morley's "The Christmas Tree That Didn't Get Trimmed" and Christina Rosetti's poem "Midwinter." My family watches The Sure Thing and A Christmas Story each year, and we read George V. Higgins's "The Snowsuit of Christmas Past" out loud every Christmas Eve, and eagerly look for new classics to add to our traditions.

There aren't a lot. This is because Christmas stories are much harder to write than they look, partly because the subject matter is fairly limited, and people have been writing them for nearly two thousand years, so they've just about rung all the changes possible on snowmen, Santas, and shepherds.

Stories have been told from the point of view of the fourth wise man (who got waylaid on the way to Bethlehem), the innkeeper, the innkeeper's wife, the donkey, and the star. There've been stories about department-store Santas, phony Santas, burned-out Santas, substitute Santas, reluctant Santas, and dieting Santas, to say nothing of Santa's wife, his elves, his reindeer, and Rudolph. We've had births at Christmas (natch!), deaths, partings, meetings, mayhem, attempted suicides, and sanity hearings. And Christmas in Hawaii, in China, in the past, the future, and outer space. We've heard from the littlest shepherd, the littlest wise man, the littlest angel, and the mouse who wasn't stirring. There's not a lot out there that hasn't already been done.

In addition, the Christmas-story writer has to walk a narrow tightrope between sentiment and skepticism, and most writers end up falling off into either cynicism or mawkish sappiness.

Last night I went up to bed and thought of the book, but hadn't brought it upstairs with me. Out of curiosity, I checked Amazon to see if it had been made available for the Kindle yet, and it had, just last month. So I purchased it ($6.39), and was able to read it immediately, at least until I got sleepy.

I'm going to try to post every day in December, either here, on my iPhone site, on the P3 site, or on all of them. It will be a miracle if I accomplish it, though . . .

To that end, there's new post at Beautiful iPhone Apps: Homescreen, 12/01/09.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I stayed at home for most of the day, reading Alex Kava's "Black Friday." It's about a terrorist plot that takes place at the Mall of America on the day after Thanksgiving. Last night I watched "Paul Blart, Mall Cop," which I had never seen; it's set at a mall (obviously) during a takeover attempt by some skateboarding criminals during the Christmas season. I had never seen it before, and I really enjoyed it.

I was thinking about the kinds of books and movies I like, and what kind of themes run through them. Lately I've mostly been reading thrillers and paranormal mysteries, with a little "women's fiction" thrown in. I read almost exclusively fiction, almost never non-fiction. I'll read a memoir occasionally, and sometimes short stories. I have kind of a problem with short stories, though. I love the idea of them, I love an anthology of stories all in a theme, for instance, but short stories kind of make me nervous, for some reason. I can't relax and enjoy them, I always seem to hurry through them. I don't really understand that. It's as if, if I know the story is going to end in a few pages, I need to rush to get through it rather than relaxing into a longer book.

My favorite fiction is urban fantasy, or magical realism (although that term seems to be applied mostly to Latin American writers)--normal, or realistic, life with elements of magic or paranormal aspects. The "Twilight" series, for instance, the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, or the "Demon Hunting Soccer Mom" books by Julie Kenner. Normal appearing/seeming characters who happen to be vampires or demon hunters or something else fantastic. The idea of getting a glimpse into a hidden world that just might be there all the time.

I'm intrigued, in general, by stories set in contained "societies", i.e., airports, hotels, malls, theme parks. I'm not sure why. I don't shop at malls anymore, I can't remember the last time I went to one. But I enjoy the idea of them. One of my favorite fantasies as a child was thinking about what it would be like to live in the mall--sleeping in the furniture store, eating at the food court (although that was before food courts; the big department stores had restaurants of their own), etc.

I do love airports, the big ones, like Orlando International Airport, with stores, restaurants, hotels -- like in the Tom Hanks movie, "Terminal," I can imagine living in an airport indefinitely. Last night I also watched a Jennifer Aniston movie, "Management," in which her character, a traveling saleswoman, has a fling with a motel night manager who lives at the motel; that's kind of intriguing, too -- not the fling, but living at the motel.

Stuart M. Kaminsky has written a series of books set in Sarasota, Florida, the latest of which is "Bright Futures," featuring a down-on-his-luck character named Lew Fonseca. Fonseca's wife was killed by a drunk driver, in Chicago, I believe, and in his despair, he takes off driving south. His car breaks down in Sarasota, so he stays there and becomes a process server, lives in a run-down motel, and eats his meals at the Dairy Queen across the street.

We can see this mixing of the familiar and the unexpected in the way some works of post-apocalyptic fiction take images of enclosed malls, office parks, singles complexes, and theme parks, and use them as the raw material for depictions of walled-in high-tech cities full of inhabitants who have retreated from nature and the larger world. The contemporary mall, as an island of safety and comfort amid a desert of blacktop and crime, is transformed into a future city in a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of mutants and bandits. Mall security, watching the video screens from the central office, gets turned into a depiction of future armies and police monitoring distant events from their high-tech headquarters.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction in Movies and Television

Earlier this week I read "Murderland" by Thomas B. Cavanagh, a murder mystery set in a thinly-disguised version of Walt Disney World called Empire Realms. There's also a wonderful science fiction novel by Cory Doctorow called "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom." I guess I need to make a definitive list . . .

I don't know why this kind of fiction appeals to me. It may be something about a somewhat closed society feeling safe. I love, for instance, the idea of Celebration, the Disney "company town" in Florida. But it's like a Stepford town, and I'm pretty sure that the rules and regulations would drive me crazy. So I doubt I would like it in practice, but in theory, it intrigues me. It's one of those dichotomies that make us human, I guess. We can be fascinated by things that we would never actually do in real life.

This treatise got away from me! What I started out to write about was that I stayed at home most of the day, then went out around 3:00. I deposited a check in the bank, then went to Panera Bread for an early dinner, then went by Half Price Books. I seem to have lost my copy of Ladder of Years, or at least haven't been able to find it, so thought I'd look there for another copy. They had a couple, but they were pretty used looking, so I'm going to wait until I get a good Borders coupon, and buy a new copy. That was all I really needed to do today.

Bob had to work today, and won't be home until around 10:30 or later. I wasn't really ready to come home yet, so I stopped at Kohl's to browse. I ended up buying some Christmas cards there, then went to Target and cruised through the Christmas aisles. I kind of wanted to get out there and get into the Christmas spirit a little. It kind of worked. Tomorrow I'll put up the wreath on the front door and maybe do some other little things around the house.

Nothing seemed to be very busy, although it may have been late enough when I went out that if there was a rush, it was over. I'll have to ask Bob tonight if his store was busy. It was kind of nice that there weren't any crowds, but I actually would have felt better about it if there were. It would have been an indication to me that maybe the economy is improving. But either way, the Christmas season is upon us, time for me to watch "Christmas With the Kranks," much of which is set at the mall . . .


Interesting link with a list of books set in malls: Shopping Mall Studies

Library Thing / Shopping Malls / Fiction

Books set at Disney Theme Parks

Overbooked: Books set in or featuring amusement parks or theme parks

city of sound: A review of "A Week at the Airport" by Alain de Botton

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


50 things to be thankful for, in no particular order:

  1. My sweet husband
  2. Our wonderful families
  3. That all four of our parents are doing well
  4. That we both have good jobs
  5. Crystal Light Peach Mango Green Tea
  6. A place to live
  7. Sunshine
  8. Clinique Skin Care products
  9. Target
  10. Running water
  11. Netflix
  12. Working cars
  13. Books
  14. A great library
  15. Bookstores
  16. Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
  17. Handknitted socks
  18. Audio books
  19. My box of blank notebooks waiting to be written in
  20. MacBook Pro
  21. My iPhone
  22. The Food Network
  23. Sleeping with the windows open
  24. Our bed
  25. Self striping sock yarn
  26. Chai tea
  27. Mittens
  28. Sunglasses
  29. GPS on my iPhone
  30. eBooks
  31. Etsy
  32. Self-service postal stations
  33. Jojo, Connor, Takoha, Olive Oyl, Sunny, Clark, Dexter, Dolly and Dixie
  34. Especially Jojo
  35. All of my wonderful co-workers that make going to work a blessing
  36. Aaron and Adam, who make my life easier
  37. And Big Dave
  38. Yankee Candle Christmas Wreath and Mistletoe candles
  39. Peppermint ice cream
  40. Ben & Jerry
  41. Desktop artificial Christmas trees
  42. Dinah
  43. The years we had with Pyewacket and Doña
  44. My blog readers for SO very long
  45. Birthday cards
  46. Good friends
  47. Dominic
  48. Christmas music
  49. Vacation days with no specific agenda
  50. Reading in bed

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


We had Thanksgiving dinner at Bob's parents' house tonight. It was a small crowd, about half what it normally is. Some of the relatives had other things going on tonight, but that's okay. It was kind of nice to have fewer people, not quite as much commotion and confusion, easier to talk.

Bob made the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I made spinach dip and stuffed celery, and Bob's mom did the rest. It was a nice evening. We're having Thanksgiving for my family at my sister's house on Thursday; Bob has to work, so I'll go out by myself. I'm in charge of napkins, cups, ice, and drinks, and I'll make something to take, but I haven't decided what yet.

I'm on vacation next week. I don't have anything in particular to do, but I have about a week and a half of vacation left that I haven't taken, so I figured since next week is bound to be quiet, it was a good time to take three days off before the long Thanksgiving weekend, especially since my birthday is on Tuesday.

I'm thinking I might go see New Moon (I read that, as well as the third and fourth books in the Twilight series, one after the other about a week ago, so I'm looking forward to the movie), and possibly 2012, although probably not, since I think Bob would like to see that one, too.

I also have a pile of books -- I picked up Charlie Huston's Already Dead on audio CD a couple of weeks ago at the library, and as soon as I put in the CD player, I was hooked. It's about Joe Pitt (an assumed name), who is a vampire and a sometime-enforcer for the vampire coalition. He's hired by a wealthy family to find their runaway daughter, and in the process finds out that there's a lot more to that task than it first appeared.

As the book opens, Joe is tailing a group of zombies (or as a politically correct acquaintance prefers to call them, "VOZ," or "Victim of Zombification." He takes care of the ones he finds, but is still seeking the carrier -- the one who created the zombies.

The vampires in this world can eat and drink regular food, but they need an occasional meal of blood to survive. They can't go out in the sun, so when Joe has to go out, he wraps up in a burnoose and tries not to let any part of his body be exposed. He isn't always successful.

There are four more books in the series, and I picked up three of them at the library today. The same time I picked up the Already Dead audio book, I picked up a book called Head Games, by Thomas B. Cavanagh. It's about a retired policeman turned detective hired to find a missing member of a boy band, "Boyz Club." The detective, Mike Garrity, has a brain tumor (which he's named Bob), a teenage daughter, and two ex-wives, so he has a fairly busy life.

I really loved the book, so I went looking for more by Cavanagh. He has written another Mike Garrity novel, Prodigal Son, as well as a standalone mystery titled Murderland, set in a Florida theme park. I couldn't find either of these at my library, so I requested them from interlibrary loan, and I picked them up today. I also have Under the Dome, Stephen King's latest, so I'm pretty well fixed for books this week. Oh, and I've also got a couple of Raymond Benson mysteries -- Dark Side of the Morgue and A Hard Day's Death, both dealing with murders of rock musicians investigated by Spike Berenger's "Rockin' Security" firm.

If I could just stay in bed all week and read, I think I would be happy. I won't, though, of course, but I plan to spend at least some of the week doing that. That's probably the best place to read Under the Dome anyway, since at over 1,000 pages, it's not likely that I'll be carrying it anywhere.

Upcoming reading:

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Saturday, November 07, 2009


It's 11:45, and I'm getting ready to head out of the house. Bob left a half hour ago or so to go downtown to Arthur Bryant's and pick up some barbeque for his lunch; he said he'd come home and watch football this afternoon. I'm planning on getting lunch at Chipotlé, then go to the library, pick up a prescription, and I don't know what else.

The weather is absolutely beautiful--68° right now, with a projected high of 75°. I guess this is the belated Indian Summer that we didn't have last month.

I'm finally getting over the cold that I've had for two weeks. I still have a cough, but it's not too bad, and I feel fine. I've been trying to take good care of myself over the last couple of weeks, and getting a lot of sleep. Last Friday I took some Nyquil when I went to bed, but I hate the stuff, and didn't take enough. So a couple of hours later Bob told me to get up and take some more, and I did, but I was still waking up coughing, so I got up and took a couple of cold pills around 2:00 in the morning.

By the time I woke up, it was after noon, and I had slept for 15 hours! I guess I shouldn't have done that, but on the other hand, I think I needed it. The next night I slept for 12 hours without any drugs at all, and during the week I've been going up to bed at about 9:30 or 10:00 most nights. I haven't gotten a lot of work done at home, but at least I haven't gotten sicker. I was worried for awhile that I might be getting bronchitis, but apparently not.

So I'm heading out into the beautiful day to run some errands. I decided I needed to read "New Moon" before the movie comes out, so I started that this morning in ebook form on my iPhone, so I'll probably read that while I eat lunch. I also need to go to the office supply store and replenish my supply of padded envelopes--I sold one of my knitted scarves on Etsy this morning, the first knitted thing I've sold, which I was pleased about. I want to get it into the mail tomorrow.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Only Tuesday

I almost never get sick, but this year I think it was inevitable. With Bob working retail, as careful as he is to wash his hands a lot, it was almost certain that he would get a bad cold, and then, as careful as he was to try not to give it to me, I got it anyway.

I stayed home on Friday; I called in and said that I was staying home so that I didn't expose anyone else to my cold, but that I would be working, and I ended up working, I think, more than I do at the office. At the end of the day I checked my "sent" email folder, and I had sent 117 work emails. I was really very efficient -- I just sat in my chair with the laptop on my lap and sent email after email, sending off instructions, following up on things -- maybe I should just stay home all the time, there are a lot fewer interruptions.

Our wedding anniversary--33 years!--was Sunday, but it didn't seem like it made sense to go out to eat when I was feeling lousy, so we bought shrimp at the wholesale club, and I got a steak for Bob, and was going to make salad and baked potatoes, and just have a nice dinner at home. So on Saturday night he had the steak and I had a baked potato, and we both had salad, and he said he wanted to save the shrimp for Sunday night, and we had a bottle of champagne that we hadn't opened over the holidays, so we would have that, too.

Then on Sunday, I went out to run errands, and I was hungry, and I passed a Long John Silver's, and stopped in and got some fish.

Well. After being so careful about what I was eating after that gallbladder attack this summer, I had pretty much forgotten to pay any attention at all. I had been eating whatever I wanted and not watching it, but on the way home, it was evident that I had gone a little too far. Bob met me at the door when I came in, and I said, "I think I may have done something really stupid . . ."

I ended up spending the entire evening in bed, and he ate the shrimp by himself (he saved me some, of course), and we didn't open the wine.

I wasn't able to get to sleep until around 2:30 because of the pain, but by the time I woke up on Monday morning, it was gone. So I've decided to really dedicate myself to trying to keep from having another one of those attacks, since I can't afford either the time or the expense of having surgery right now. Bob went on the internet and printed out some "gall bladder diet" articles -- beets seem to figure prominently in them -- but it seems, at least as far as I'm personally concerned, that it's fried food that does me in.

So this week I've been eating rice and beans and bread, and everything has been fine so far. Except that the cold has turned into what may be bronchitis. My sister called yesterday afternoon at work, and after I croaked out, "Hello," I basically couldn't talk at all. She was on the other end going, "Are you okay? Hello?" and I was trying to stage whisper that I was fine, I just couldn't make sounds, but she couldn't hear me, so it was more or less a comedy of errors.

I ended up bursting into tears, because I felt so frustrated, and she said, "Are you crying?" but then I definitely couldn't say anything. After a little while, she hung up, and I went outside and walked around and composed myself, then came back inside and emailed her so she wouldn't think I had died or something. Bob went to bed early tonight because he has to be up at dawn to go into work; I'm trying to decide if it would be best for me to try to sleep sitting up so I don't cough and keep him awake.

What a week. And it's only Tuesday.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I'm reading

I used to read a LOT -- normally over a 100 books a year, at least since I started keeping track. Over the last few years, though, that has gone down considerably, I guess because I converted a lot of that reading time over to time spent on the internet. I've kind of gotten to the point where I feel guilty for sitting and reading, feeling that I should be doing something more productive. But on the other hand, I feel kind of guilty for not reading, too. It's a vicious circle.

Over the last couple of weeks, and particularly this past weekend, I made up for it a little bit, though. There were several books that came out that I was very excited about, and I pre-ordered them in ebook form, a couple from Amazon/Kindle, and one from Fictionwise.

I also picked up a few books this weekend from the library. Our library recently went through a renovation, and for the last few months the library has been operating out of a storefront in a strip mall. The new, improved library opened up the first of October, and I checked out the "new books" shelves over the weekend and got several things that had been on my wish list.

Bob was out of town, on a fishing trip to the lake, so I spent quite a bit of time reading. I went to Jason's for a late lunch on Saturday, took a book with me, and basically moved in for a couple of hours. Then on Sunday, I never even left the house. It was cold and rainy, and I spent a large part of the day on the bed, reading. It was great.

What I've been reading:

Juliet, Naked:, by Nick Hornby (ebook from Fictionwise)
Most of Hornby's books involve music (for instance, "High Fidelity"). "Juliet, Naked," is about a singer-songwriter--Tucker Crowe--who hasn't been doing any singing, or song writing, for decades, but is still the focus of a group of obsessed fans, and one in particular, a British fan, who is so obsessed that he makes a trip to the United States to stand outside some of the places that the singer had frequented. In fact, the book opens as the fan and his girlfriend are visiting, and taking photos of, the restroom that figured prominently in the singer's folklore. The fan, Duncan, asks his girlfriend, Annie, to take a photo of him pretending to use the urinal.

Then, shortly thereafter, Duncan falls into a relationship with a woman that he works with, and he and Annie break up. "Juliet" was Tucker Crowe's most famous album, written about a woman that he idolized; "Juliet, Naked" is the "unplugged" version that may or may not be an actual album. In a sequence of events that have more to do with some kind of gentle revenge than anything else, Annie starts an email conversation with Tucker Crowe that ends up being more than either of them expected . . .

A wonderful book. I devoured it.

Vicious Circle, by Linda Robertson (paperback from the library)
This was my Sunday book, the one that kept me reading in bed, reading in the bath, reading in my chair, until I finished it. It's one of the witch/werewolf/vampire genre that are so prevalent recently. Persephone Alcmedi is a witch who supplements her income by kenneling werewolves in her basement during the full moon. One of her werewolf friends is murdered, and she is hired to investigate the crime, which turns out to be not as simple as it first sounded. Even without the murder, her life had been getting complicated--first, her grandmother is kicked out of her nursing home and moves in with her, then she finds out that one of the werewolves, a tattooed, pierced lead singer in a heavy metal goth band, has a very strong crush on her.

I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to two more books in the series, due to be published next year.

Rough Country , by John Sandford (hardback from the library)
This is the book that I took to lunch with me on Saturday. This is one in the Virgil Flowers series rather than Sandford's more usual Lucas Davenport books. Virgil is on vacation, taking part in a fishing tournament, when he gets a call from Lucas that a woman has been shot at a nearby resort, and is asked to go take a look. He does, and it turns out that the resort is a woman-only resort--not specifically lesbian, but mostly. It turns out (as it always does) that there is more there than meets the eye, and Virgil ends up investigating the murder.

I always enjoy Sandford's books, and this one was especially enjoyable.

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories), by Charlaine Harris (ebook from Fictionwise)
This is a collection of Sookie Stackhouse short stories that have been printed in anthologies over the years. This one was a little bit disappointing in that I had read all of the stories already, but I got it at Fictionwise on a 100% rebate promotion, so it wasn't really a loss. The stories are good, and I like having them all in one place, I would just have been happier if they'd been new to me.

The Mall of Cthulhu, by Seamus Cooper (ebook)
I actually picked this one up in the library, and I looked it up at Amazon on my iPhone to read the reviews. I found that the Kindle version was only $2.99, so I went ahead and bought it.

Ted, a barrista at a chain coffeeshop in New England, is still trying to get over the horror of killing a group of vampires when he was at college ten years ago. During that massacre, he saved the life of Laura, who is now an FBI agent. Laura is basically Ted's only friend, since he can't talk about the vampires to anyone else. They aren't actually a couple, since Laura is a lesbian, but they might as well be, bound together as they are.

Ted accidentally finds out about a plot by a group of Cthulhu worshipers who intend to awake the Old Ones and bring about the end of civilization as we know it, and Laura, by virtue of her connection to law enforcement, tries to help stop them. This one is especially fun if you have any knowledge of the old H. P. Lovecraft "Cthulhu Mythos" stories, but it isn't absolutely necessary.


Demon Ex Machina, by Julie Kenner (ebook)
I've been kind of saving this one. I adore Kenner's "Demon Hunting Soccer Mom" series, and this is the latest.

New Amsterdam, by Elizabeth Bear (ebook from Baen)
I'm not totally sure about this one, but I read the sample chapters and, since it was a $5.00 download, went ahead and got it. It's kind of a steampunk/vampire/detective story that reminds me a bit of Kage Baker's novels. I like Elizabeth Bear; I don't generally like "historical" fiction, but we'll see.

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