the unpacking continues…

Despite spending at least 10+ hrs of my weekend reading one book for school, I managed to get some work done on my room. The books are finally out of the boxes, and there are no more book stacks on the floor. DSC_0901

DSC_0912From there, I was pulling some of my old Boyds Bear figurines from their boxes, and deciding which ones to keep. Some will be donated and some of my favorites go back on the shelves.DSC_0932

DSC_0902I’m really enjoying having the bookshelves all loaded… no more picking the books up off the floor. Of course, that’s when I have time to read other things besides school stuff. But I DO find the time, even if it’s only when I’m eating. You have to escape, sometimes.DSC_0919DSC_0920

north came south…

It’s been a week since we got back from Pennsylvania, in our flying trip to get my storage unit stuff. In between all the schoolwork, I find the time to rearrange my books, pick more of them out to donate, and dig up interesting things to place on my shelves. I guess I haven’t really shared how things are shaping up… in both rooms.DSC_0855

DSC_0718Now that the storage unit stuff has arrived from the north, and we’ve sold our pool table, the center of that room is full of furniture. But a big difference was made when I set up my desk, which now can hold all my Lord of the Rings and Narnia Weta statuettes. That’s one great thing about that headboard that sits on my desk, making it the best desk ever. Who needs a “real” desk, when you can build one from shelves, a door, and a queen-sized headboard?DSC_0606The white shelves in the pool room are mostly full and I have been able to get out some of my favorite knick-knacks to put on them, too. But that’s without even opening up my remaining Boyds Bears and Dollstones… hope I’ll have some more surface space, eventually.DSC_0701

DSC_0861The shelves in my bedroom can be shifted up and down, so as soon as the LOTR statues came off the top shelf, I started to rearrange them all… again. Now, I still have several piles of books, and I’m running out of shelves. I used to have several smaller ones, but I donated one, and my cousin is using another. I think the remaining “problem” is that despite donating several hundred books, once upon a time, I had triple rows of books on the bottom shelves. So, I still may come up short on room for them. Sigh. I know, life is hard.  ; )DSC_0851

Speaking of books, despite having to read quite a few of them for my schoolwork, and having a pile of them getting ready for my military paper, I still escape the college books, now and then. Just finished rereading North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell, and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a similar flavor to Jane Austen, but in more of a workers’ environment. Of course, there is the miniseries version to be watched, starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, with Armitage giving Mr. Darcy a run for his money. For all the Tolkien fans, Armitage plays Thorin in The Hobbit movies.DSC_0847

Anyway, as much as I really do enjoy the history reading (some of it) and some of the English reading, I have to escape into my own reading, from time to time. A few weeks ago, I was reading A Patriot’s History of the United States, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen, as a method of escaping my Western Civ teacher’s excessively liberal views. But the busier I’ve gotten, the less time I have for extra non-fiction. The fiction helps me escape for a few minutes, when I’m eating lunch, or taking a break between subjects.DSC_0856

Tonight, I was doing some shopping (for clothes), but I continued to resist going anywhere near a bookstore. As the end of the year approaches, my craving to buy books is growing. Except for books for school, I haven’t bought myself a single book during this entire year. And though my wish list grows on Amazon, I continue to download free books, and I’m shelving all the books that I’ve had for years… the urge to have a new book that has nothing to do with school… it’s building. I believe that after this year, I’ll do much better at resisting spending money on books, especially when I need to save it. But just the relief of being able to buy the newest Naomi Novik, Robin Mckinley, or Rick Riordan… I can’t wait.DSC_0852

Looking through the pictures I’ve uploaded… you’ll see the tons of Star Wars books that I own, and just one of my movie posters. I had lots of empty walls in my last house, so I had Star Wars and Lord of the Rings posters to put up, along with my wall of calendars (the calendars are under my bed, now). Now, I have no wall space, so I store them, wondering when I’ll be able to put them up again, if ever.DSC_0858

DSC_0860And yes, I do love me some Lord of the Rings. The Argonath bookends have been in my collection ever since I bought the expanded edition sets that came with the statues. The Minas Tirith jewelry box was one of those, too. No, don’t have a panic attack. What kind of idiot would actually store jewelry under Minas Tirith? But for some reason, that’s what that figurine was made to be. The Weta artists are amazing, aren’t they?DSC_0862

DSC_0870If you have a care for the Narnia books and movies, then you’ll know full well that Oreius was a character created just for the movies, but the centaurs have always fascinated me. That was my first Weta statue, and it’s a stunning piece of work… though they never can seem to get the faces right. DSC_0868

DSC_0871Well, I think I’ve babbled enough for now. But it finally occurred to me that I’ve had these photos collecting, but haven’t done anything with them. Now, if I could just figure out where my copies of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were hiding…DSC_0865DSC_0872

P.S. For those college fans that are wondering, yes, I do know that Clemson is playing Florida State, this weekend, and I am even wearing a Clemson shirt, because today is Friday. But while my older brother has come all the way from New Hampshire to be at the game, I will be home studying and taking notes on King Leopold’s Ghost. But whether I find the time to watch the game on tv (hey, I watched the game against Georgia!), I felt like pointing out how much more awareness I have of Clemson doings, now that I’m a student there. : )

the book countdown…

Seven months, 72 books down. 5 months to go, 28 books remain. School begins in three weeks. Can it be done?

I don’t usually pay all that much attention to the page numbers, when I start a book. Especially when you’re reading books off your Kindle, it really throws off your mental tally. I was aware as I read through several Grace Livingston Hill books that at least two of them were some of her shorter ones, but what does that matter?AGiftOfDragons

My intention was not to go on a GLH reading spree, but now I have a sneaky suspicion that some of the mass market paperbacks I grew up on were abridged… though the publisher never admitted to it. Especially the ones that were set before the Civil War. When I get my hands on my storage unit book boxes, I’ll double-check.

I’ve been crunching some numbers, as I’ve realized that July is going to be my biggest reading month of the year, and why not? Once school starts, I’ll have too many important books to read for school, so I’ll have little time for fiction or my own choices of non-fiction. Don’t worry, I’ll include them on my lists, though.

After realizing that I’ve read 16 books this month, I decided to add up the page numbers, to prove to myself (and anyone else that cares) that I’m not skimping by reading short children’s books in order to make50453 up my numbers. The official page count for the month is 4,995 pages, though I can average it down a few for the illustrations in Anne McCaffrey’s A Gift of Dragons, and the occasional skimming that every reader can’t quite help. Still, I would say that 4,500 pages of reading isn’t bad, for one month.

The plan really was for me to tell you more about my latest reads, but as soon as I’ve started a new book, I’ve been less than interested in talking about the previous books.

I began this month by re-reading some of my favorites by Brian Jacques, and I will always recommend that people read his Redwall books. But Mariel of Redwall, The Pearls of Lutra, and The Long Patrol are probably up there at the top of my list of Jacques’ favorites. Especially with Mariel, you can tell that it’s one of his earlier books, and how much more dastardly the villains were, in some cases.

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a free e-book copy of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and started to read it before going on my July 4th vacation in Georgia. I was so hooked on the story that it was hard to thdrag myself away from it, in order to spend time with my friends. Fortunately, our vacation time allowed us both a little time for catching up on reading and internet stuff.

For those interested in certain famous young adult novels, at present, I’ve read Ally Condie’s Matched (enjoyed it), Beautiful Creatures (it’s dull and uninteresting), The Hunger Games (awesome, as is the movie), Twilight (enjoyed it, get over it), and I tried to read Graceling. Really I did. Absolutely abhorred it, couldn’t get past the first chapter.

Just trying to put it in some context. If you’re looking for a story that’s almost as interesting as The Hunger Games, then I recommend the Divergent trilogy, while I’m waiting for the library to get a copy of the second book for me. Matched was enjoyable, but nothing as fun and fascinating as the characters in Divergent.

Perhaps I should be giving you more details about the stories themselves, but why give anything away? If it’s for you, you’ll allroadsget hooked on the first chapter, and Amazon usually offers a sample of that.

To switch things up, I started another free e-book, and for every Jane Austen fan, All Roads Lead to Austen is a winner. This true story follows a college literature professor as she spends a year in Central and South America, as she tries to find out whether Jane Austen’s stories translate well in their culture. Not just whether they’re readable in the language, but do the inhabitants of each country get caught up in the characters, and argue over them as if they’re real? Are the situations that happen in Regency England just as true in our modern day, because she wrote such real characters?

I kept hoping that the author would have a reading group about Northanger Abbey, though she never did. But when I found out that Northanger is her favorite book, too, that made up for it. She had stuck with the most popular of Austen’s books, during her travels, but to know that a college lit prof has the same favorite as me… that made up for that little detail.  : )The-Name-of-the-Wind-373x560

Jumping back into fantasy, I finally opened an e-book that I bought before going to Australia, but never took the time to read. But just as my mom had told me then, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind is a winner of a tale. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy, even if I have to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas in order to do so. And for those interested, at about 660 pages, it’s the heftiest book that I read this month, but completely worth it.

Then, of course, I headed back into my childhood and teenagerhood, by reading my way through all the free e-books available of Grace Livingston Hill books. I’ve heard all the different complaints and compliments over them, over the years, and I have a particularly hilarious memory of someone asking about an 51W59CmTN+Lold-fashioned word. But in this branch of Christian fiction, they’re either for you, or not, and I love how they throw me into the early 1900’s, as well as the pre-Civil War era, depending on the book… and yet, they’re not really defined by the year they’re set. I love the characters, especially Miranda.

While I was wading through the GLH books, I watched a trailer for the upcoming movie Austenland, starring Keri Russell and JJ Feild. Also, Bret McKenzie, if you’re a LOTR movie fan. He was the unofficially named “Figwit”, at the council of Elrond, in FOTR, and Lindir in The Hobbit. I know, I know, randomness…

Anyway, I’ve heard of the book Austenland, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. But if they’re going to cast Keri Russell in it, then I need to go read it. And it didn’t hurt that they cast JJ Feild, who plays my favorite Jane Austen herograce-livingston-hill-the-obsession-of-victoria-gracen in Northanger Abbey, as one of the lead guys. I borrowed the book from the library, and stayed up until midnight reading it. You can ask my mom, I was giggling over the start of the book, as few books ever cause me to do. You’ll understand when you first “meet” Elizabeth Charming, and her attempts to speak and be British Regency.

After that, I found out (marvelousness!) that I could download Midnight in Austenland from our library’s website. So, I had read that by the end of the following day. Yeah, it was that good, and that fun. Who doesn’t want to play Regency dressup, and then wonder if they can live without their cellphone?

Now, I know that I can reach my yearly reading goal by reading about 5-6 books a month, so I think that should be pretty do-able for me, don’t you agree? In the  meantime, I’m going back to my Thomas Sowell book…

once upon a time…

Once upon a time, a young woman spent a wonderful year in Australia, working as a nanny and looking after five little girls. Before she went there, she considered the possibility of being able to travel for years and years, visiting several different countries, and taking care of children. She loved children, you see, and as she was still single (and therefore, childless), nannying seemed to be a wondrous idea. Unfortunately, she was past the cut-off age for work & holiday visas, in most countries, so Australia would be her only overseas gig.

Instead, when she returned home, she thought that she thought that she would soak up being with her family and friends again, and then find another nanny job in the United States. There were plenty of states that she still wanted to visit, and what better way to get to see them than moving there for a year at a time? During her first summer back in the U.S., she packed up her car and drove to Minnesota.

It wasn’t meant to be. She learned a lot from that trip, but two weeks later, she drove (the two day trip) home. Admittedly, she was a little down, after this “failure”. Why had it happened? Was she NOT supposed to go, or did the Lord want her to learn something from that short trip?

She began to apply for jobs again, but just like before she left for Australia, she wasn’t finding anything very high on the pay scale or any higher on the job “quality” ladder. Once, she had been a business owner  and house cleaner, and then a full-time manager of housekeeping for a camp. Now, she was ready to step up and work at the desk in a hotel (in business clothes, instead of scruffy t-shirts and shorts), or something that had nothing to do with cleaning. But with the problematic economy and a limited resume, she wasn’t finding anything.

Fortunately, she still had some good credit with a local company that she had worked with before, and was hired almost immediately. This took her to working as a cashier, at Clemson University. The pay wasn’t high, but the location was a definite improvement on her food service experience in the same company. Every week, she told herself that she would find something better, and this job would hold her over until then.

The weeks went by, and something strange happened. She began to find that she actually enjoyed her job. Not because of the job itself, because cashiering doesn’t call for too much skill, but because of the students and professors. Especially, the graduate students, who were closer to her age. As she also had a college professor for a father AND grandfather, and graduate students had practically lived in her home when she was growing up, she began to feel right at home with them.

But still, she knew that it wasn’t easy to make friends with people, in her position. When students only speak to you for a few minutes every day, they don’t really see you as a person, and potential friend. She wasn’t sure how to cross the line to becoming friends with them, either guys or girls. She didn’t have a lot of local friends, having lived away from Clemson for several years, so she was trying to figure out how to make some.

As she began to persist in learning the students’ names, they began to see her as a person worthy of friendship, and call her by name, in return. And as each friendship developed, she found herself less and less inclined to look for another job, though she knew she needed to. She needed to earn more, but this company was not the right place to do it. But abandoning her new acquaintances, before they really became friends… that was a hard choice to make.

Did I mention that she wrote a blog? I know, you’re stunned. At about this time, she was paying more attention to her photography skills, and began to take more pictures of flowers and buildings, instead of children (as when she was a nanny). Especially, buildings on the Clemson University campus.

This caused her to take an interest in Clemson that she had never had before, not even when her dad taught there, or when she had attended one semester there. Just like when you get a new house (or car), clean it, and place your things just so, making it your own… her wandering photography tours of Clemson were making their mark. Clemson (the city) was already home, and now the University was getting there.

She would tell you that it’s the blog’s fault, really. On some days, she would think about random topics, trying to think about what else to write about. And one day… she had a blog post idea. But she never wrote it. It would have been a fascinating post, I’m sure, but the reality was so much better. I’ll tell you about it, in a few minutes.

With the beginning of the New Year, some of her acquaintances truly became friends. And during one online conversation, she discovered that Clemson University was hiring for a job. A job that was in the same department as most of her friends. If she had never made friends at her workplace, with the students, she never would have heard about it. Because when it was finally listed online, the listing was only there for a week, and you had to be ready for it.

Her friend had thought she would be interested in this job, for herself. As thrilled as she was by this placing of confidence, she knew that she couldn’t take it. Are you wondering why? I’m still coming to that aforementioned, non-existent blog post. Instead, she told her mother about this job opening, and encouraged her to apply for it. Her mother was so much more qualified, and it was about time she worked for a place that would appreciate her that much more!

When her mother applied for it, she was certain that her mom would get the job, though no one else was certain. And then… she did get it! Why had she been so certain? It didn’t really make sense, did it?

But then again… she (the daughter, not the mother) had gone through a long process of not finding employment, after coming home from Australia, and then developing an interest in an uninteresting job. An occupation that was made interesting because of the people. And if she had never gotten to know those students, she never would have helped her mom find her new position. She marveled at how the Lord must have had that plan in place, when she returned from Australia, but of course, she didn’t know about it!

Many people were excited for her mother, after she was hired for the new position, and encouraged her daughter that “they’d find one for her, too!”. She didn’t say anything about how she could have applied for that same opportunity, but that she knew it wasn’t the right one. The Lord had other plans for her, and she’d known it for a long time.

You see, once upon a time, she thought about how much she liked to read, and especially how she read a lot of history books. And because she was always working or taking photographs on the Clemson campus, she began to think about (for a blog post), what she would major in, if she ever decided to go back to college. She had hated college, the first time, and hadn’t had any subject that she enjoyed enough to keep her there. And she knew that you did NOT need a degree to succeed in life.

But while she was thinking about this imaginary blog post… it finally hit her. If she wanted to, she COULD go back to college. She loved to read non-fiction, everything from the subject of the Founding Fathers, the writing of the Constitution, and the forming of the United States, to the Civil War and the Cold War. She spent most of her spare time reading these subjects, for fun… why wouldn’t she enjoy getting a degree in history?

She did her research on getting a history major, and what jobs can result from that type of degree. She applied to Clemson, and was accepted. She jumped through every hoop they held out for her, and they moved those hoops around a LOT, for returning students! She wrote appeals letters for several committees, and scrambled to find out what information they had forgotten to tell her. And at the moment, she is still in the final stages of getting financial aid, and waiting to register for classes (because returning students can’t register until late July).

Think about it. Over a year ago, the Lord knew that she would NOT get a job outside of Clemson, but stay there, making friends. He knew that she would begin to like the campus and the people, and that her friendships would help her mother find new employment. He knew that her reading, blogging, and photography would eventually lead her to reconsider school.

He knew this, while she was crying over her “failure” in Minnesota. Was it a failure, though, if the Lord had His hand on the situation? He knew this while she was worn out by mono, and unable to even think about finding another job. He knew it, when she was unable to afford to travel anywhere, but slowly was becoming accustomed to staying in Clemson. He always KNEW where she would go, and what He had planned for her!

~

And now that you know, I might as well switch tenses to finish the tale. Barring any problems with financial aid, I will be starting undergraduate classes, in about six weeks. I may still be a little worried about the issue of funds, but I sincerely believe that the Lord’s been leading me this whole way, all this time. So, if that is true, then money should not be a worry. He has it under control.

I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers, as I am quite nervous about starting school. I don’t have fond memories of my lone semester at Clemson, and even if it was because I was immature and overwhelmed, the memories can spring up and swamp me, at times. Also, I was serious when I said that I had to jump through hoops, as a returning student. Every time I turn around, I’ve missed some important information, or they forgot to tell me that I need to sign another paper, or write another letter to someone.

Please pray that all the necessary paperwork will come together. That even if I’m nervous, I won’t be overly worried and/or terrified. Panic attacks are NOT welcome. And please, please pray that I’m not having a mono relapse (or that I will get over it soon), because I really want to have the energy to pay attention and even enjoy what I’m doing and learning.

~

I will be very busy, over the next four years, so my blog posts may become much more infrequent, and the subject matter of both word and photo may change (again). But please hang in there, because I truly enjoy blogging, and do not intend to give it up. Perhaps you will even come to enjoy my rambling about life as a 30-something college student. At least, I hope you will!  : )

i’m behind again…

Too many photos, too little time? Is it really that I don’t have enough time? I don’t feel like I’m doing that much, but let’s think that over again. I found out a week or so ago that a grad student friend’s wife was expecting and… I think her due date was yesterday. So, in addition to raiding my mom’s baby bootie stash (I don’t know how to knit, yet, so I can’t make them myself), I’ve been working on crocheting a baby blanket. I’m not posting pictures yet, because I haven’t had time.DSC_0176

DSC_0177As many of you already know, you can’t type on your computer and crochet at the same time. Nor can you read. Yes, some FB friends recommended that I listen to audio books, and I did dig up my Audible account, and find I had a few credits to my name. So, I’ve started listening to Brian Jacques’ Doomwyte, which I’ve read before. But if there’s one audio book series I like, that would be the unabridged Redwall books. Jacques narrated them himself, with a full cast to do all the voices. Of course, it makes all the bad guys creepier, and the descriptions of the Doomwyte cave even creepier than it ever was when I read it.DSC_0178

DSC_0180So, suddenly I’ve realized that I have a lot of photos piling up, from a visit to the Botanical Gardens, wandering around in my own yard, pictures of my bedroom before we started stripping the wallpaper, and a number of other things. But if I throw my weekend into catching up on photos and writing, I’ll never finish that blanket! And I haven’t heard if the baby arrived yet…DSC_0184

DSC_0188My preference is to watch movies while crocheting, though, which I find much more entertaining than just listening to an audio book. The crocheting just flies by. But I feel like a lazy bum, sitting on the couch all the time! I haven’t watched this many movies since… well, since Imogen and I had our movie binge, in Australia. No, I didn’t start watching any Austen or Gaskell movies yet. Instead, I’ve been watching my way through The Hobbit (with my family), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, While You Were Sleeping, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Tangled. If I can talk my brother into watching The Hunger Games with me, I’ll watch that again, too. DSC_0189

DSC_0191Also, I should have lots of time, because I haven’t gone to the gym much in the last week. I’ve been pretty tired, despite not working enough to make me so, and my foot has been bothering me. But I avoid going back to the doctor for it, and hope that the lack of energy isn’t from having a mono relapse. I don’t think it is. Even if I did HAVE a mono relapse, it’s nothing like what I’ve heard other people go through with it. But it keeps me from having enough energy to do what I want to do, and I feel like I’m doing little enough, as it is!DSC_0198

DSC_0201And so, all this rambling is to tell you that I’m really trying to accomplish something with my last week or so (finish a beautiful baby blanket!), while I’ll go ahead and share some pictures of the most recent flowers that have come up in our yard. They’ve survived, despite the beating that has been administered by all the rain… but I think these were taken before the worst of the storms AND the heat. DSC_0206

DSC_0208Last week, it was in the 90’s, all week. This week, it’s “cooled off”, staying in the 80’s. Practically a cold front, you know. And it’s only getting started! This is only June. July and August are just waiting to knock us flat… or send us running for cover, in the air-conditioning of our homes. The humidity is here to stay, as well. If it were just a dry heat, we could handle it. But no, this is the South, and humidity comes with the heat, no ifs, ands, or buts. DSC_0210

DSC_0213I hope you enjoy the brightness of these lovely flowers, and I’ll attempt to catch up on my latest, bit by bit. After the blanket is done!DSC_0214

DSC_0215P.S. Please note that NONE of these photos have been adjusted. No photoshopping at all. Those colors really were that brilliant, in the bright summer sunshine!DSC_0218

guess what i’m up to…

No, really. I know it’s difficult, but I’ll even let you have several guesses as to what I’m up to. DSC_0960

DSC_0984And what occupation could be more delightful than rearranging books?DSC_1009

DSC_1013Honestly, though, I thought I’d share these with you, because my brain just isn’t cooperating with me today. I have several blogs in-the-process and photos to edit… but no, I’m tired or distracted or something. So, you’ll have to be patient, I’ll get my brain in gear, eventually.DSC_0010And while I’m at it, you can be jealous of my partial library. Because this is… about a fifth of my actual library. The rest of it is waiting for me, in a storage unit. Sometime this year, I’m going to go and get it.DSC_0012 DSC_0013

the horses of a frightened sea..

I just finished reading The Scorpio Races, and I’m still slightly stunned over the whole thing. Stunned in a good way, I suppose, and not by the ending, though I liked that very much. Stunned and… a bit befuddled over how to describe this one to you. Did I like it? Eventually, yes. Did I start out by liking it? Not really. For the first half of the book, I couldn’t figure out whether I liked it or hated it, because the story is so… abhorrent at times, and yet, you still want to know the outcome. The characters and the island and the horses, they still draw you in.The-Scorpio-Races

For all my love of fairy tales and fantasy, I have no recollection of ever reading any legends of water horses. So, from the start of the book, I had no idea what was going on or what the islanders were dealing with. What were the capaill uisce, and why were they being raced every year? Why were they so vicious, and what kind of places was this?

[Depending on who you believe, the pronunciation of capaill uisce is either “CAP-pall ISH-ka” or “copple OOSH-ka”. The latter is spelled out, early in the book, by a character in the story, and the former is spelled out by the author, in the afterword. Does this mean she couldn’t decide, or what?]

The island of Thisby is full of islanders that either grow up from the ground, and never want to leave, or they can’t wait until they can afford to get to the mainland. And what a place it is, surrounded by the Scorpio Sea, which is home to the dangerous, terrifying water horses (the capaill uisce). Bigger and faster than horses on land, they are predators and a danger to any land creature, if they come ashore hungry. Think of it like sharks being able to come onto land, at certain times of the year.

I found the story to be dreadfully depressing, at first, but I was caught up in the parallel tales of Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly. He was the returning champion of the Scorpio Races, a man of few words, impossibly wedded to this strange island, and only wanting one thing from his unbending employer… the champion water horse that he rides every year. Puck Connolly is the first woman to ever ride in the Scorpio Races, and she’s breaking all the unspoken rules to do so, but she isn’t doing it to prove anything to the men. She begins with the goal of keeping her brother away from the mainland, for a few days longer, and it becomes something much more.

The capaill uisce are killers, and every chapter brings it home to you… and then makes you want to believe that they’re just as beautiful as Sean Kendrick knows them to be. The author brings you to love the horses that the islanders love, and then cringe when the same animal causes someone’s death. Everyone loves to read about horses, even when they don’t know anything about them in real life, so how do you make them predatory and yet sympathetic? But no matter whether they’re meat-eaters or not, I still almost cried when someone was cruel to a water horse, and a horse that hadn’t harmed anyone.

This is not a horror story (and those who read horror will laugh over my use of the word frightening, but get over it, already), nor is it a tale that takes place in another world. It seems to be somewhere off the coast England, in a sea that no one on Earth has ever heard of, nor will they ever. But it’s real, for all that, and with an American horse buyer in the mix, you know that they could just hop on a ship or plane, to go to California. You wonder where this island is hiding, and pray that you never find it, because I would never be willing to set foot there. And still, your imagination is seized by the wonder of this island, the people that populate it, and the sea creatures that make them who they are.

I would highly recommend this book (I think it’s Young Adult fiction), but not if you’re looking for something happy and full of sunshine. Nor is it constantly depressing. After the halfway point through the story, I felt like the sun was trying to peek through the clouds, kind of like Sean Kendrick’s rare smile. This book is fascinating, terrifying, and wildly beautiful. Just like the Scorpio Sea and the capaill uisce.

i’m not reading fast enough!

I’m doing it again. Worrying about my reading speed. For someone who usually reads 10 books in a month, I shouldn’t ever have to worry about this. But it’s just so funny that I’m not reading at my normal speed, held up by both my blogging and my continued interest in non-fiction books. I have always loved to read about history (and politics, more recently), but having that interest supersede my edge_evolutionfiction reading is unusual. Does it have anything to do with my reading goals for the year? I don’t think so. I can get the latest fantasy books from any library, if I want to, without having to buy them (this doesn’t keep me from wanting to buy them, however).

I’m blaming my reading issues in February on there being less days in that month. Surely I could’ve managed another book, if I’d just had 31 days. What were the creators of February thinking? But rather than run into a last minute fiction force-feeding, in record time, I thought I’d have it easier this month. I finished reading In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Scandal, just a couple of days into March.leestrobel

Then, I told myself I needed to read something light and fictional, before picking up either The South Was Right! (James R. Kennedy & Walter D. Kennedy) or The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (Michael J. Behe). Why couldn’t I have found the box, in my storage unit, with Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution? Or The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God, by Lee Strobel? For some reason, I was really wishing I could start with those. Oh, well. I’ll have to get them from a different library, because Cooper Library doesn’t have them.

When you’re fully into non-fiction mode, I’ve found it can be very difficult to switch over to fiction mode. Usually, I’m in fiction mode, with a sideswipe at history, here and there. Turning on my Kindle Fire, I made myself open up 100 Cupboards, by N. D. Wilson, which I hadn’t read yet, thoughin_defense_of_thomas_jefferson_phixr I downloaded it months ago.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book, as it completely immersed me in the town of Henry, Kansas, and the descriptions were so good, you could practically chew on them. You were so set in the realistic family, with the father being seemingly uninteresting (at first), and yet capable of quoting Shakespeare and even turning the words to his own purpose, making both him (and his words) funny and impressive. The fantasy part of the tale sneaks up on you, as the curiosity of the children leads you to uncover one cupboard after another. Literally. By the time I was finished, I was ready to read the second book, immediately.

My head really wanted to leave the fiction behind, but I kept telling myself I needed a few more fiction books under my belt, first. Of course, being on spring break will help me catch up, but there are so many other things I need to be doing!32107 It’s not just a week for goofing off, as much as I would like to do so!

The time had come for another foray into a Georgette Heyer book. I will try to resist the urge to preach on this subject, as I do so often on this blog. Suffice it to say, Heyer is the queen of the Regency romance, and she will never be beaten. If you judge her books by the genre, you have already sold yourself short, and missed some of the funniest, most clever tales of REAL people you’ll ever come across. So, I picked up Sprig Muslin, and dove into a story that I’ve read so many times before, but it never gets old.

After that, I braved the Cooper Library’s kids’ section, trying to avoid being in the full view of any of the college students. It’s not that I mind anyone knowing what I read, but when they’re all sitting around studying so hard, it made me want to squirm. Would them seeing me be like I was showing off that I could read fun stuff, or would I just feel like I was reading childish things? I didn’t want to find out, Darwin's black boxso I stayed amidst the shelves.

I carried away Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier, along with a few other books. Several years ago, I read Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing, which was based on the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I remember enjoying it immensely, but the details of the story are a bit vague in my memory. Now, I’m going to have to read that one again, because I absolutely loved this one. Cybele’s Secret continues the story of one of the sisters, as she accompanies her father on a trading expedition to Istanbul, Turkey.

The story contains both adventure and romance, of course, but what I really enjoyed was how the author dwells on the joys that come with being with family and looking at a person’s character, rather than their outward appearance or occupation. In the original story, the sisters were very close, and this comes across in the new book, even without all the sisters being present. And without giving 26486 Pan_CybellesSecret_covaway the ending, I was thrilled to find that the story didn’t just end with a kiss and a promise of a happy future. It ended with a return to family and taking that loved one into the fold, reminding you that others are involved in your life, even when you’re wrapped up in the discovery of true love. Only THEN did it end with a kiss.  : )

Now, I’ve started reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, and I don’t really know what to think of it. I’ve never read Shiver, or any of her other books, because I didn’t feel the need for another tale of a girl and a werewolf that have to be together, no matter what the consequences. Yes, I know that might not be the story at all, but how many teen novels out there are about falling in love with love, and giving up your family and who you are, in order to be with that person? Selfishness reins, in some of those books, and I like to remember what love is really like.The-Scorpio-Races

Thus far, it is very well written, and I enjoy the characters, but it isn’t a very happy book. The characters seem to brood, and the water horses are quite frightening. A secluded island, perched on the edge of a brutal sea, peopled by lives regularly touched by tragedy. I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve finished it.

And I’ll probably continue to tell of my “woes”, as I try and reach my book goals, while reading my way through the history sections of the library. It’s definitely a challenge.

a boatload of boxes… & some books…

My room is a wreck. It looks a bit like I’m moving out… or maybe moving in… or maybe both. Actually, I’m just trying to empty my storage unit (the one in PA), a bit at a time, because renting a U-haul is still too expensive. Last I checked, it was still double the price to go south as it is to go north. My wallet hurts, just thinking about it. So, every time I go north for a conference or to see friends & relatives (sometimes I do all of those at the same time), I stop at the unit to get a load of boxes and other things.DSC_0024

This time, I didn’t have an awkward cart to fit boxes around, so I was able to cram my CRV to the limit. At first, I thought I’d overestimated how much I could fit, bringing down more boxes than I should have. And then I figured I could manage, if I beat a couple of them into submission. At that point, I didn’t want to take them back upstairs on the storage elevator, so I just hoped I wouldn’t break anything. Fortunately, one of the back boxes, despite saying FRAGILE in big letters, seemed to have a sleeping bag in the bottom. The breakable stuff must be at the top of the box. I bashed in the back of that box, in order to get my back window closed. DSC_0026

Filling the car to the brim also resulted in another long trip where I couldn’t see out the back window, but since when is that unusual? I’ve done that, many and many a time. Of course, my “favorite” trip was probably one where I could see out the back… but I had a very long dresser in the car. So, I had to put the driver’s seat almost up as far as it would go, and drove for 10 hours with the steering wheel trying to eat my rib cage. Considering how much I enjoy leg room, when I drive, this was not comfortable. Nor was prying myself out of the seat, at every stop.DSC_0027

I managed to find my bulletin boards, so those are waiting to be loaded with pictures and other odds and ends. Several boxes are labeled Christmas Stuff, which some people might think was funny. How many single people have several boxes of Christmas decorations? Yes, I can decorate an entire Christmas tree, and several mantels, all by myself.

Some boxes had dishes, some have candles (I haven’t opened it yet, but it sure smells good), and some are from my office. I just removed whatever boxes I had room for, knowing that I couldn’t really be picky about what was in them (aside from the bulletin boards, which were necessary). My favorite boxes, though, are the two that held books. Ok, maybe there are others, but I think these are the only two. The rest of the book boxes are probably in the very back of the unit, near the shelves.DSC_0028

If you’re a fellow bookworm extraordinaire, you will appreciate the excitement of opening two small book boxes, curious to see what’s in them. I felt like I’d hit the jackpot, no matter what was inside. One contained a bunch of picture books, from “coffee table books” that I bought in Ireland (back in ’99) to beautifully illustrated Caldecott Medal-winning story books. That one also contained some of my yearbooks, which is kind of frightening. But I was too distracted by the second box, to pull everything out of the first.DSC_0029

I’d lucked onto a box of mostly hardbacks, with some classics mixed in with some history. When I pulled out That Devil Forrest: The Life Of Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, I really wanted to jump up and down. Except I was sitting on the floor, so that didn’t work very well. Since I’ve been on an American history binge, lately, I’ve been wishing I had access to some of my other history books. And I really want to read about this famous Confederate General.DSC_0036

After that, I found A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens, by Lawrence E. Babits. If you’re not familiar with the subject, this book is about an American Revolutionary War battle, not one from the Civil War. Cowpens is an hour or two up the road, here in South Carolina, and I have some mixed up memories of visiting it with my grandma, before she went into the nursing home. I don’t think we actually went anywhere but the gift shop… was that because of time constraints or what? I can’t remember. But I bought a ceramic mug and a book, and had some time with just my grandma. I remember the togetherness part, if not what else we did while we were there. Just because of that, I should read the book (finally) and go visit Cowpens, again. And yes, it has that strange name because it was originally referred to as “The Battle of the Cow Pens”, as I recall. Eventually, it turned into a town name.

I have a bad habit of picking up every old copy of Little Women that I find, in thrift stores, if it’s in hardback. I think I need to give away several copies of it. But during one of those thrift store trips, I once came across a set labeled “World’s Greatest Literature”, and I took a whole stack of them home with me. It included The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving’s Sketchbook, Emerson’s Essays, Wakefield’s Vicar of Wakefield, and several more which aren’t in this box. I still haven’t read any of them, but I know I should, because they’re classics. My memory says that Ralph Waldo Emerson was a good writer, even if he was a bit of an idiot. Anyone who thinks John Brown (of Harper’s Ferry fame) was a saint (he was a murderer) is definitely an idiot.DSC_0038

Once upon a time, I started to read David Herbert Donald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln, but I never finished it. It is quite a tome, you know. But though I’ll probably still read it, eventually, the book I really want to read is Donald’s Lincoln Reconsidered. Over the years after he wrote the original, I believe he learned some new things and rethought others concerning the myth of Lincoln, and wrote his newer book, accordingly.

Other classics like the Sherlock Holmes books are in this pile, and maybe I should re-read them. I remember when I first read The Hound of the Baskervilles, someone warned me that if I read it before bed, I wouldn’t sleep. I think I did it anyway, just to prove them wrong… I can’t remember exactly. DSC_0042

Over the years, I’ve come across numerous books written by Thomas Costain, or books that he edited, and I’ve picked up most of them. I don’t remember why I started doing that, maybe because he had some good collections of stories that he had edited. The funny thing is that while my mom has read them all, I’ve never read any of them, though I continue to collect them. I suppose I should try some of them now, right?  : )

I’ll let you know if I come across any other interesting books and things. This unpacking of boxes is quite fascinating, because it’s been in storage for over two years now, and I don’t remember some of it. Which should make it easier to get rid of some of it, right? That’s part of the plan, at least, to donate anything that I really don’t need. Including some of the books, if I decide I really don’t need them. Not easy to do, part ways with books, but I manage to do it, now and then.DSC_0043

to read or to blog, that is the question…

Two weeks ago, I was ahead of the game on my blogging, and my reading was getting neglected. Then, I ran out of stuff to write about and was trying to catch up on my reading, before this short month ends. And when my books were done, I was too tired to write. Or unable to think enough to write. With only a short number of hours to work with, when I arrive home, I just can’t do both at the same time. I can’t multi-task THAT much.

If my goal is to read 100 books this year, then I have to read at least 8 books every month, with more than that for a few months of the year. Normally, I read a good bit of fiction, with some non-fiction mixed in, so this isn’t hard. But I’m still on my non-fiction binge, and I’m actually finding it difficult to find any fiction that I want to read… or finish any that I’ve started. With the end of the month looming, I forged my way through The Politically Incorrect Guide to U.S. History (Thomas E. Woods) AND The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and An Unnecessary War. All in one weekend.

As soon as the Lincoln book was done, I knew I didn’t have the time or the brain power to finish anything else but fiction, and I still couldn’t make myself finish several books that I’ve started on my Kindle. Why? I don’t know. My latest Star Wars books just aren’t thrilling me, and the finale to Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series isn’t holding my interest. Or maybe fiction just isn’t where it’s at, right now. My final solution was to re-read A Wrinkle in Time and a Christian fiction book that I picked up from Amazon, for free. I haven’t read anything by Madeleine L’Engle, not for several years, so I had fun trying to picture Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, once more.

I finished reading my Amazon freebie about half an hour ago, and finally felt energetic enough to write on my blog. Or my brain felt energetic, at least. I can sit here and look at my blog and upload pictures, but if my head is tired… nothing. It’s an interesting process, trying to find things to write about, some with pictures and some not, and then find the time to write them. Of course, it’s easier when my book deadlines aren’t getting in my way.

So, I’m finally getting around to a blog I should have written a few days ago, and one that will be ready for my time away, this weekend. Because, if you remember, I’m headed on a road trip north, and Friday can’t come fast enough.

P.S. Yes, I did mess up my blog post title, originally. Those who subscribe by email might still see my mistake. Silly me. Think one thing, type another.