Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

This is Fred's birthday present to me! I'm so stoked! It's a watercolor by Sandra Lallemand. It is magical! I love it. I found it in a gallery of Dade City artists when I went to lunch with friends up there at Lunch on Limoges (try the shrimp and grits, it rocks!)

Fred and I usually never agree on art, but I knew once I saw this that he would like it too. After all, it is of a tree and we all know what a tree maniac he is! 8-)

So, thanks Fred! I love it.
Thunderbird Falls  (Book 2 of Walker Papers) Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
The first book in this series was not especially fascinating, but because I liked the author's Gargoyle series, I wanted to give it a second chance. I shouldn't have. The entire premise of this book is that Joanne Walker is a dumbass and doesn't know what she is doing. In fact, she has to be so incredibly stupid because EVERY sign points to her being set up and doing a BAD thing. But she doesn't see it. It is outrageously annoying. In the final chapter when she does realize that she has been played for a fool, you are so disgusted with her that you almost wish she would fail and die.

The author has no idea what to do with this series. She gives Joanne a sidekick 73 year old man, but then she has Joanne talk about how hot the old man is and what great legs he has and when they meet in his spirit garden, OH MY....but instead of breaking an age taboo (I mean Joanne even mentions Katherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas as May-Sept. examples) and really investigating that relationship and making something meaninful and real of it, she drops it. She also is very coy about Joanne's relationship with her boss. Does she like him? Does she not? Does he? Does he not? Honestly! Just shoot me. Actually, just shoot Joanne and put this annoying series out of its misery. Joanne is incapable of a sustained emotional connection to anyone in the book and therefore the book suffers and the reader is left not caring about anyone.

View all my reviews.
Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity, Book 1) Keeping It Real by Justina Robson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. Excellent fantasy read with hot elf romance. A Quantum Bomb changed the nature of the world when it allowed the other dimensions access to the human world. Elves, elementals, demons and other magic realms are all now connected and there are some (mainly the high elves) who are a bit pissy about it all. In comes Lila Black (half machine, half human) who is assigned bodyguard duty to a rocker elf named Zal. Things are not what they seem, dangerous machinations are afoot and a deadly game has started and Lila has no magic, just an awful lot of weaponry. Robson has a deft hand in delivering deep and interesting characters with flawed emotional landscapes. Their are just enough questions left unaswered that the reader longs for the second book and enough of the mystery/conflict is solved for the book to feel finished and the reader to be satisfied. My only complaint is that it could be longer.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Neil Gaiman is on my list of authors to always read and he has never disappointed me. The Graveyard Book is no exception. What I find so charming about the books he writes for young adults is the way that they appeal to everyone, not just children. The Graveyard Book is reminiscent of Coraline in that way. It is a ....well, I was about to say dark book, but that isn't quite the word, is it? It is more of an opaque book in the sense that there are foggy mists that uncover bits of mystery, humor, thrilling adventure, joy, misery, and ghostly pursuits. There are Hounds of God, Silas, ghouls, bad men, and true friends be they corporeal or not.

This is a lovely book, one that is exceptionally wry and entertaining, action filled, with deadly creatures and a surprize ending. Bod is an engaging boy and as we grow up in the graveyard with him we come to realize that parents and friends come in many shapes and that forgiveness is key and understanding of a person's true nature is necessary for surviving in the world.

I would recommend this book for middle school students and up.

View all my reviews.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Already Dead (Joe Pitt Casebooks, Book 1)
Today, December 19, 2008, 5 minutes ago
author: Charlie Huston

average rating: 3.96 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: 2008/12/01

review: I listened to the audiobook version, which was more of a nuanced reading than a fully voiced reading. It is definitely vampire noir, a dark, gritty read that is uncomfortable and violent and often inexplicable. Still, it is fascinating and leaves questions to be answered that the next book in the series should follow up on. There is a bit of a romance, which leavens it a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit and saves it from being truly depressing in the final chapter. The main character Joe Pitt is very hard to get a read on and you really don't know if he is a good guy or a bad guy or more of a grey guy. I'm coming down on the more of a grey/good guy. The vampire virus angle is a fine one, very refreshing and interesting. As is the idea of the Enclave. Leaves me thinking that more supernatural things are in Pitt's future. However, I will admit to talking out loud to my MP3 player and yelling at Pitt to DO SOMETHING rather than just take it in one pivotal fight scene. So, that means either Pitt can be REALLY annoying or Huston is amazing at creating a character so real that you yell at him to suck it up and fight. I'm still debating that one.

Anathem Anathem by Neal Stephenson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I listened to this book (almost 40 hours) and I couldn't wait to get into my car so I could get back to the story. Stephenson has always been a favorite of mine based on his cyber punk books. This novel is different in that it is epic sci-fi. Stephenson is brilliant. It is always a bit difficult to jump into a story where the vocabulary is so different, the concepts similar, but all the names have been changed. Stephenson is able to give the reader a framework to hang the new vocabulary off of and does it in such a subtle way that you are gently moved down the road. The story is very complicated and has some amazing gyrations. Stephenson is exceptional in conveying scientific information in such as way as to make you understand. His action scenes are tense and believable. His characters have true relationships with each other, complicated, real-world relationships that grow and develop.

If you enjoy epic sci-fi, if you enjoy a fast-paced mystery that has some amazing plot twists, this book is what the doctor ordered!

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen M. Beckett

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
All of those Austen and Bronte fanatics who also loved Harry Potter will find a grown up fantasy and novel of manners in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. Beckett is able to pull in the gothic elements that made Jane Eyre such a hit and meld them with characters reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice. While a couple of characters do smack a bit of too much "flattery", overall the book is a page turning, gothic mystery set in another world that does have magic.

This book is definitely for YAs and adults. The fantasy elements are more intense and while there is no sex (the romance is sweet and tame) the subject matter is dark and not middle school appropriate. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is wanting a cracking good read! A great gift for the Austen or Bronte fan who also enjoyed Harry Potter.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Booty Call

I found a great pattern for baby booties. The only problem was that there
was no gauge and so the first one I made was for Gigantor's baby (see pink booty next to the green one of a normal booty. The ankle of the gigantor baby must be about 5 inches around! Yikes! But I carried on and did another one with much tighter stitches (a little strain as I am mostly not a tight crocheter) but the results are really cute, I think. I have two friends who have had babies whom I will give the green on and another I am making with a multi-colored Italian thread. The green booty was made with bamboo thread, which is really soft, but tends to unravel a bit and if you are crocheting tight, is a bit difficult to work with. I topped it off with a ladder yarn with sparkly green and blue bits.

Here is a shot of the in progress booty.

I also finished up one of my student's scarves! Woot for me! She selected
a bobble stitch scarf from Fun and Funky Crochet by Sophie Britten. It is made with a soft blue chunky wool yarn and is quite warm. She goes to Northwestern, so it should do its job of keeping her nice and toasty warm. It was a fairly easy scarf to make, but I, personally, don't like the bobble on a scarf unless there is something on the back to hide the indentations. I think this scar is made to be worn so that you flip one side over your shoulder and only see it bobble side up. It's really long. The bobbles are very pretty. I don't have consistency on them, but that is the problem with starting a scarf and then finishing it 7 months later on a pattern you have only done once. I need to make one first for practice, but really, who has time for that? It will have to be "handmade" in the true sense of warts and all!

Mom and dad visited over Thanksgiving and they brought Willow a ver cute hat that should keep her cool when she plays frisbee. She seems to like it pretty well and kept it on while we all took countless photos of her.

Now it is back to cleaning out the Holiday decorations to get the tree up.Yea Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Something Really Gross and Efficiency

Today was the errand day. We have to get the house ready for the holidays and do lots of sprucing up. So today, we went and bought a lovely teak bench for outside by the pond. Then we dropped off my anklet to be fixed. Then we popped by the mall where Fred tried to do some shopping and was generally unsuccessful, or so he said. I was very successful, finding several great deals and one gross object. As I was scouting around from xmas present bargains, I also spied some great deals on lovely pants and took them in to the dressing room to try them on. One was a lined, white linen pair of pants. When I went to try them on, I looked down as I was stepping into them and saw that some grotesque woman had tried them on, while on her period and evidently had bled all over the lining. GROSS. What kind of person does that? Tries on clothes while leaking? Good lord. If you are trying on clothes and you BLEED on them, you had better buy them. But no, this cretin hung them back up, put them back on the rack and calmly walked out the door. I hope this evil deed catches up to her.

In other matters, we found a lovely fabric to upholster Fred's grandfather's chair. We should have it back before Christmas. We returned the non-functioning LED solar lights and went by Costco to search out good wines. Then it was back to the house to decorate. We get the tree tomorrow and then it is off to the singer's concert and Amy's concert. Should be a lovely day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Allergies or Colds?

I'm worried that I am becoming allergic again. I was allergic to everything that bloomed in Arizona. I was one of those little old ladies (WAY before my time!!) who always had a kleenix shoved up her sleeve or in her pocket. Man, was it annoying. Then came the move to Florida and no alleriges. Imagine waking up and not making grotesque noises in the morning complete with accompanying...well, the less said the better. It all amounted to a great time. But now, I have itchy eyes, watery eyes, scratchy throat and .....where are those kleenixes. I'm off to the allergist.....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Whiskey from Scotland

I'm not a big drinker. Actually, I rarely drink at all, let alone whiskey. However, on a trip to Scotland several years ago the Scottish B&B owners and the other couple staying the B&B recommended a blended scotch that was magnificent! Peaty and warm and fabulous. We have ordered it in the past from Loch Fyne Whiskies in Scotland (it isn't sold in the US). So, if you want a taste treat for xmas, ask for Te Bheag (it's pronounced Chey Veck, it's gaelic). You won't be disappointed. I mention this because I have just ordered some to restock our cabinet. I thought you might enjoy the recommendation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's about the story, sister.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is the first book in a wild, swashbuckling fantasy series from the fertile imagination of Scott Lynch. He is so darn creative and so fabulous, that you just can't stop reading. And the books are bloody, action packed and have a hint of romance. Just the thing for boys and girls, or men and women, rather, as the language is salty and the hero is a bad boy.
Recently at the book store, I realized that I had missed the sequel (Red Seas under Red Skies). I bought it knowing that a ripping good yarn was soon to be had. Man, was it ever. I tell you, Lynch is a consumate storyteller. He is crafty and wily. And he doesn't explain everything. There are loose threads and you itch to know what is going to be done with them.
Fear not! On Feb. 24, 2009, the Republic of Thieves comes out. Book three and one I hope that will lead to a bit more than just making it through the caper. Jean and Locke deserve some really good things to happen and my fingers are crossed and my toes are tapping with impatience!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mad Fold-ins

The NYTimes has an interactive set of Mad magazine's fold-ins. I wasn't much of a Mad reader, but this was a pretty cool story. Thanks to Neil Gaiman's blog for pointing it out. BTW, if you haven't read Coraline (or frankly, any of his stories, books and GNs), go out and do that. Ask for it for xmas. In fact, if you have any small girls, or medium girls or girls who like fantasy, I say, put this on their list for the holidays. It's great.

Presently, it is 3 in the morning and I am being pestered with peculiar thoughts. So I got up and folded clothes and tried to get those pesky thoughts out of my head, then I crocheted, then I resorted to the internet and this post.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Garrison Keillor in Person

Mom and Dad arrived on Saturday and on Sunday we all went to see Garrison Keillor speak. Keillor is more famously known for his radio show A Prairie Home Companion. So we were expecting something like that, but more comtemporary, hear about his personal life, perhaps, being a parent at a late age (as the commericials for WUSF advertised) or even some political commentary.

No. We didn't get that. I guess I would have been happy with a well-thought out performance, but Keillor seemed to be resting on his laurels. Content to chat about Lake Woebegone, he meandered around what seemed to be a theme of coming from dark, dark people, but really, he was just wandering. Wandering, it turns out, aimlessly. He started out great: funny, cogent, entertaining with some songs mixed in with his musings. But then he lost his way. I got the impression that he thought the sold-out crowd at Mahaffey would be happy with whatever he threw our way, but we, at least, had higher expectations. When his wandering turned into rambling and then just ended abruptly, followed by an odd song that seemed like three or four songs all jumbled together, I guess we should have taken his point at the beginning of the talk that he really can't write sonnets.....unfortunately for us, it turned out we paid for him to write the bad sonnets and sing them to us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mozart's Requiem

We went to hear Amy sing with the Eckerd Choir today. She was great.
They were all wonderful. It was a show for the 50th anniversary for Eckerd. Alumnae from around the world came to sing. There were three featured alum soloists and two local singers.

The next photo is Fred outside of the chapel where the performance took place. Great performance space. In the round.

We also worked on the floor this weekend. We found some great tile (actually, it is stone) that matches the tile in the family room and the wood. It is 1by1 title. It was a bit expensive, but since we didn't need much, we went for it. It is just wonderful.

Mom and dad get here this coming weekend. Then we go to see Garrison Keillor. So, Thanksgiving promises to be a long movie watching holiday. Woot!

Ooooooh. New glasses!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Broadway and Hollywood agent come to speak with the advanced drama students. He is the uncle of one of our student library proctors (she's wonderful and her uncle was a sweet guy and a great speaker) about being an agent. He happened to have amazing glasses. So I asked where he got them. Unfortunately, he bought them in Italy, but fortunately for me, they sell them online too! Woot! New glasses for me and cheaper than in Italy (how odd is that?). If you like them, go to Ottica Carraro. They are a soft plastic and come in too die for colors. Next on my list is a poison green pair! Fred should like these better than my vintage glasses as they are large enough to show my eyes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cats Are Nuts

Jan sent me this hysterical clip. Just proves that cats are nuts and dogs are way better. Heeheehee.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Willow and St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts

Here is a shot of Willow with a fancy collar on. Fred doesn't like it when I dress her up, but I think she looks fabulous.
The small painting is my favorite from the newly enlarged St. Pete Museum of Fine Art. Called a gem by the media, it is a charming museum that manages to get some very high quality shows in to town. In addition, their education department is very good and they are being very hospitable about working with us and one of the French classes on a videoconferencing project. I love this small
painting because it is of the moonlight, in the forest where anything can happen, a magical place. Andre says I'm a romantic. But, there's nothing wrong with that, I suppose. It's by Ralph Albert Blakelock and is untitled from about 1885. They describe him as a painter of poetic and visionary landscapes. You can see his other works at Artcylopedia, in particular the one at the Boston museum.

Lost in a Time Warp

Man....Life has been screaming by. I haven't had a moment to spare to blog. So this blog may be very, very long!

I will start with my crochet: First off, I did another monkey cell phone holder, which I gave away to Jaimie.

Then I took the yarn that Christy brought me from Peru (I'm including a photo of Christy here (Spiritual Maya blog) from our expedition to find shoes and the right wedding makeup (PPS We found both!!!! I am sooooo good at shopping!) Doesn't she look lovely?). Anyway, I made it into a lovely pashmina using the lover's knot (solomon's knot) and a frilly border. Actually, this photo doesn't really do it justice as it is amazingly soft and pretty and it looks kind of strange in the photo. Trust me. It is nice.

And finally, I made another scarf/pashmina for Gisah for her birthday. I think it turned out quite nice. Although, I am always nevous sending stuff I made to Gisah as she is so much better at it than I am!

Here are the lovely roses my fabulous hubby sent me for our 17th wedding anniversary. I actually got 18, but there seems to be some debate as to whether I got 18 because of his overwhelming love for me or because they had a special on a dozen and a half roses.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Testing the Maps at Google for Class

View Larger Map

Freshman English is reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The A marker marks the spot of the Igbo-Ukwa tribe. I'm going to be creating individual blogs for kids and then a class blog for them all to look at. This is a test to see if the google maps code works for them to paste it into their blog. The next few posts may be very boring as I work this process out!

Yea technology!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If you don't have a book pimp, what do you do?

Michele accused me of being like a crack dealer when it came to books. I prefer to think of myself as a book pimp, hooking the masses up to a really good read. 8-) I just recently discovered some great online book pimps that can help anyone hook up with a good book. The suggestions come from my Booklist magazine.

  • Fresh Press: Books and Authors in the National Media
  • Good Reads: Web 2.0 social networking site for readers and their books. Library Thing and Shelfari are others, but Good Reads seems to be the favorite.
  • Overbooked: has lists and starred reviews. Good for finding the best of the best.
  • StoryCode and What Should I Read Next?: Readalike suggestions based on users preferences. Good for unknown or obscure books or to kick start the readers advisory process.
  • WhichBook?: What's your mood? Let your mood pick your book! Totally cool.

So, now you should be prepared to find a good book when I am not around to guide you. Keep me posted!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yep, I'm Tired

I have to say that I am a tired puppy. The floor is nearly done. Fred is a workaholic. He sanded and sanded and got it all ready. I helped a tiny tiny bit.

But it means we can't use the dining room, bfast room and kitchen. Tough tough. And work has been a bitch too. Lots of cool technology usage. Good news! But very time consuming. Bad news! Sigh. I do like it, but sometimes I feel wrung out.

Fred's Aunt Helen is moving next weekend. That will be sad. She was so fun to visit, but we didn't visit often enough, I think. She will be much happier in Prescott and I think they need her there as well.

Book club went well. Most liked Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. I LOVED IT. I brought sushi for the food and some wings as well.

I finished one shawl and am starting on another. I'll post a photo later on. I'm just wiped out I guess. Need to drink more juice.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Demon-loving, Jihadist, Hockey Mom

You read it right! Fred said that yesterday's purchases at Borders would
probably put me on some FBI watch list. Here's what I bought:
First, for Fred, I bought a modern translation of the Koran. He said this version was recommended. Since it was educator's weekend at Borders, I got it for 25% off. A very cool deal. That's on his bedside table to start after he finishes Rushdie's latest (Fred's an enigma too!).
For myself and my teens who are into the whole paranormal romance,
I bought five books (buy four romances, get the fifth free). I brought
Booklist magazine with me so I could pick out soe fine authors. Paranormal
romance is a mystery (usually) romance story where there is magic, werewolves (my personal favorites), vampires and demons of various sorts. I love paranormal romance!
Then, came my painful bookstore moment. We are doing an election display
for Oct. and our new shelving just arrived. We ordered all sorts of books of a
red/blue nature, but amazon was all out of Palin's book (at right). I knew we didn't have her book and while I find her personally reprehensible and a political ignoramus, she is still on the ticket. For us to not have the book wouldn't make for an objective display. The journalist in me required that I buy the book. The librarian in my said I need to have both sides. So, I picked it up off the shelf, brought it to the counter and paid for it. Damn. I hate being fair!
I also bought Twilight posters and t-shirts for our vampire film festival. Because paranormal romance rocks!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I am so very pleased with myself. I made this monkey cellphone/ipod sleeve all by myself! I created the pattern. I figured out how to do the ears and mouth. I am super pleased with it. So I gave it away to my friend Jamie who had loaned me her cellphone to do the pattern. I owed it to her! 8-) She was happy.

I also found a monkey pattern in Stitch n Bitch crochet with had a vinyl sheet so you could see your ipod....I may look at that to see how I might modify it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Audiobooks and Gardening

I have to say, I have found a new use for audiobooks: gardening tools. Yes, you heard it right. I was listening to Silent in the Sanctuary which is the second book in the Lady Julia Grey Mystery series and I was wondering if I should walk or crochet. I was throwing the tennis ball ring for Willow and it occurred to me that I could weed. So I did. I weeded quite alot. And was very pleased with myself to boot. I recommend getting an Audible account. For a small monthly fee you get one book a month. Very reasonable. I also love listening to books as I walk in the mornings or after work at night. And Silent in the Sanctuary is VERY GOOD. Get the first one, then get this one. They are delightful. Very Austenesque and proper. Where's my cup of tea.....

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Fred has begun putting down the floor. It looks great! This is view from the garage door to the dining room. It is bare wood and will need to be sealed.

We found the rat hole. It was behind the dishwasher. Bastards! Haha! You have no entry into our abode any more. So there! I'm very happy. Fred covered it up with metal, so little sharp rodent teeth will be unable to find a way back into the house.

The second pic is of the dining room looking into the kitchen. You
can see the subfloor in this photo. I hate the subfloor and want it to go away.

Almost there! As soon as the floor gets in, we can schedule the countertop. Woot!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parent Night Tonight

Tonight is the very fun and always thrilling parent night. Where I get to hang in the library and put on my happy face as parents run from me. Really! It's the strangest thing. They really don't want to have small talk with the librarian and they do want to chat with their friends, which I totally get. So every now and then there is a parent I know who will chat with me and the times goes by quickly enough. I will have out database passwords and be prepared for those unwary parents who don't realize all the wonderful things the library has and can offer to their child. Woot! Go Library!

And read a banned book!

Monday, September 8, 2008


Yeah! I finally feel like I am back in the bubble with school. I felt connected and had all my stuff organized and ready to go. The media bias classes went pretty well. I do love journalism. So it was great to talk about the ideals of journalism and being a professional skeptic.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rats in the house

There's a freaking rat in my house! I blame the floor holes. Freaking rat bastard came out of the living room and was going down the stairs to the kitchen. So we gave chase. Into a closet where the sneaky rat bastard eluded us and headed for rat heaven AKA the open rat holes in the kitchen and breakfast room subfloors. I freaking hate renovations and old houses. Hate hate hate hate hate hate...I'm off to have a breakdown.

Willow, Home, School, and Migraines

I think Willow is still a bit sad and missing Thud. She is very often pensive like this.

The house is in complete disarray. This is a shot of Willow being irritated with the changes. This is the breakfast room with a new subfloor. We will be painting this room red.

Fred is into loud banging and sawing and hammering. I always have a hard time with the noise of renovation. Katie says that people have as much sympathy for someone going through a renovation as they do for someone complaining that their boob job caused them pain: not much!

This is the view into the kitchen. It now has none of the old oak flooring. Fred said much of it was rotten.

A look from the bfast room into the kitchen. Willow gets freak out about how you can see through the subfloor in the kitchen to the ground below. I would like to have Gisah send me Fluffy to get rid of any pests who try to come and invade our house. Willow might take exception to that though.

School was off to a hectic start. Administration took the library's classroom because our enrollment was so high. Good for the school's bottom line, but bad for the library curriculum. So I haven't been able to figure out how to get in step with the school year. I can't seem to find my stride and being organized seems tantilizingly out of reach. It should prove to be a very interesting (in the Chinese curse sense: may you live in interesting times) year.

I've had a constant migraine for about 3 days. The migraine buster pills don't seem to cut it and now I've switched to excedrine to try and zap it. Got a weird dizzy nausea feeling yesterday as a I was reading. Very strange. I'm blaming it on the stress. Damn you stress!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fred Can Do It

My husband has decided to join the blogosphere. You can find a link to his blog on everything but software development at the right. You can also subscribe to it. We are doing a very complicated kitchen renovation that involves pulling up the wood floors, fixing a sagging floor and replacing with new wood. Then we will get new granite countertops. I'm thinking green. I'm worried about critters coming up from the subfloor. I really don't like being able to see dirt when I look down the cracks of the subfloor. Fred assures me that this subfloor will be sealed and no critters will be able to get into the house.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bye Bye Big Guy

Thud passed away on Friday. His big heart just gave out. Back in May we thought we might lose him and he underwent about a week of tests and needles poking in his heart to drain off fluid. The good thing was that he came home perfectly fine. And he remained perfectly fine until Friday morning.

He definitely slept more, ate slower and was more fond of sitting and giving you disapproving looks when you wanted him to move. But overall, from May until Friday we had a pretty healthy old man dog on our hands who got lots of treats, lots of love and lots of naps. He was a very fine dog. On Thursday night he was eating popcorn and had is ears all perky. Then on Friday morning it was like a light was switched off. Not moving, not eating. We took him in to the vet's that morning and they called that night to say his heart had stopped.

We still see him out of the corner of our eye, a solid black blob on the floor, but when you look directly at the area, he isn't there. Willow misses him and has been sleeping with us. To the right is a photo of Thud and Willow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Twilight Tea Party (Breaking Dawn Spoiler info: Beware!)

Tea Party was a big success. Here we are with all the on time people (BE ON TIME! COLD SCONES DON'T TASTE GOOD!). 8-)

We all had questions about how Edward was able to impregnate Bella since he wasn't able to cry or have any bodily fluids other than blood. So how is 100-year-old sperm supposed to stay active? Really, Stephenie! And the whole, it's our honeymoon, we kissed and then when we woke the next morning.....WHAT? Three books we wait for the honeymoon scene and you give us that? Really, really disappointing. And then she makes Jacob into a wuss. A total Wuss! Please. And the name Renesme? OMFG. Honestly! There were so many things that you just want to scream about and yet, I have to say that with this book I liked Edward. I even liked Bella. She grew a spine and stood up for something. I was riveted. I spent all day Sunday reading and fending off requests from my husband to "Please honey, don't you want to help me in the garden?" "I have 400 pages to go." "Would you like to plant those plants YOU picked out?" "I have 200 pages to go." So is it worth reading. Heck yes. I liked it best I think in spite of all the problems. The host, I'm not so sure about.
We are missing Katie and her daughter, but I think everyone is in the photo except the boys, and they really weren't into the discussion of Edward's bodily fluids.

Food breakdown. The tarts were fine. One brownie tart was great, but the other was a bit gooey I thought. The pie was a no-go as only Bess and Fred had a piece. I guess fruit pie is a loser compared to chocolate. The new bread I used for sandwiches made making the sandwiches much easier, but I didn't like the bread and will go back to fresh baked and slice my own. I did like the little toasties for hummus. That I will use again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Snakes in a Door Jamb

Yep. That's a snake and it was trying to live in the door jamb. See, when you live in an 80+ year-old house, things have gaps. Weatherstripping (oh, Phil Hartman....I miss you!) is a must. Why is it a must? Because freakin' snakes will mistake the long dark space under your door and the stone deck for a snake house, that's why! Criminy.

Anyway, I was going outside and the french door wouldn't open. So I twisted the locks and shoved and shoved and then I shoved harder, and then a snake popped out of the door jamb (thankfully on the other side of the quickly slamming door!). Clearly I had surprised the snake who was snuggling in. I also spilled coffee all over my book (well, Allison's book, sorry!), the dog (sorry willow! It was an iced coffee so no harm done) and my floor. Fred had to go outside and be snake wrangler and get it to move off to the vegetation. I think I kinked its back a bit. I'm hoping it will shake it off and be ok as it seemed to be a really good natured and nonvenomous snake. Sigh.

Monday, August 4, 2008

After Pie and Twilight Tea Party

Well, everyone said the pie was great, but later when we were home, Fred said that the topping was crap and that it would be better with a second crust top and ice cream on it. So I made it that way for the Twilight Tea Party tomorrow (see right).

I am also making Chocolate Chess Tartlets (see right). I put a dark chocolate chip on the top, but it sank in. I'm very disappointed, but I don't feel like being Martha Stewart and putting a dab of whipped cream on all 48 tartlets or a dab of whipped cream and another chocolate chip. I'm also using Barbara Share's recipe for amazing brownies. You take a brownie mix, mix it up, put 1/2 in the pan and then layer on top Hershey Symphony bars (the super sized ones in the grocery store) and then put the rest of the brownie mix on top. I've put them tart pans, so they should be fluted and pretty. We'll see.

I'll post some photos from the tea party late tomorrow. I must say I thought that Breaking Dawn is a great ending book for the series! Loved it! I powered through almost 800 pages on Sunday. I am a voracious reader of vampire romances.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tom's Visit and Cooking

We have had Tom, Fred's nephew, visiting this week. It has been quite fun spending time with him and getting to know him better. It's his first trip out by himself to visit. I have been making quite a few desserts for him. Tom picked an apple blueberry pie for dinner tonight at Patrick and Theresa's (there will be poker tonight as well! But most importantly, there will be amazing food cooked by Patrick. mmmmmm!). The pie recipe is from Betty's Pies Favorite Recipes. If you don't know anything about pies, then you have to get this book! Betty ran a pie shop outside of Duluth, MN and it is the very best pie in the whole world. My favorite is the five-layer chocolate pie (to die for!, honestly.) But Tom picked a fruit pie to try. Here are some photos of the pie before, during and after cooking.

Here is the pie filling with 4 cups of sliced apples, 2 cups of fresh blueberries and sugar, etc., before mixing.

This pie doesn't have a crust for the top, rather it is a crumble mixture of butter, nutmeg, brown sugar and flour that is sprinkled on top of the fruit and baked.

Here we see the baking pie.

Here is the finished pie. Looks delicious. I'll let you know tomorrow if it actually is! 8-)

I also made some cookies from Martha Stewart's Cookies. I'm not sure if I spoke about our trip to Gualala, but it included a very fine bakery that had Chocolate Ginger cookies. I didn't have the recipe, but you'll notice that the cover cookie on the right is a chocolate ginger cookie and the cookies I made on the left are from the book. I think I need to make them large next time and wait until they are more cracked. The recipe says to remove them when they just start to crack, but then they don't get real cracked like the ones on the right. However, word of warning: these cookies are not an afternoon cookie. You have to chill the dough for two hours and then you have to roll them into balls and chill again and then roll them in granulated sugar. Quite a process. I think these are special occasion cookies. The thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies were made in a snap and Tom seemed to like them quite a bit.