a pictured pause…

The paper for my UK class is finally starting to take shape… and by that, I mean a shape that doesn’t make me want to throw the laptop out the window. It’s quite normal for me to hate my research papers, because I can’t get them to say what I want them to say. Until about 24 hours after I’ve written them, I decide they weren’t so bad, after all. So, now that I know I have all day tomorrow to finish it, and I’m well into the fourth page, I can breathe more easily. 12287557_10153686755089976_285132929_o 12295085_10153686751844976_1654943065_oSo, before I go see how the Christmas tree decorating is going, I thought the least I could do is share a few of my latest pictures. Mostly taken at Thanksgiving, I can assure you that we dined most deliciously on all the food that you could desire. Oh, right, the cake pictures were taken before Thanksgiving, because my mom tends to bake cakes for parties at work. They’re addicted to her cooking and baking (as are we). And I was feeling all artistic after taking some of these.  : )12290528_10153693025334976_102409055_o12281770_10153697314914976_836887180_oMost of my brothers made it to town, along with my youngest bro’s dog. Bullet has been part of the family for almost a year now, I think, and we occasionally get “custody” of him when my brother has to go do military stuff. Now that my brother is MARRIED, then Bullet stays with my sister-in-law instead. However, Bullet’s a really nice dog, and we love having him to visit, too. This picture I included was taken after he realized that he WAS going home with Joe and Amanda, instead of staying with us. Or rather, he leaped into his bed in the car, and couldn’t be shifted, as if he was afraid he might get left behind after all. So, for a rescue dog that lucked into being adopted by a young man in the Air Force… life is good for him, and he just LOVES my brother and his wife.12318272_10153697411134976_1543031468_oAnd now, away I go, and by tomorrow, I should be ONE research paper closer to being done with this semester! Hooray!

Christmas break has broken…

My Christmas vacation began on Thursday night, as soon as I finished my last geography “report”, which was really just a longer homework assignment. Before that, I had three exams, one each on Mon, Tues, and Wed… and then fiction portfolio was due on Thursday! My two final drafts (for this semester) for that portfolio were so crisp and clean and beautiful. And then it was over!10834714_10152866313979976_743309326_o10844515_10152866185429976_61046275_oI only just realized that my last post on here was before Fall Break. So sorry about that, I haven’t been swamped, but I do manage to stay busy. At the end, I didn’t have any big papers due for any history or literature classes, but I did have to finish my stories and read one last book for history. That kept me busy during some of my Thanksgiving break, which I spent in Florida. Even though we were in my brother’s place, I still manage to find time to work on a few school things, which was good.10825049_10152866180794976_124053857_oLet’s see, what has happened since I posted last? Aside from probably achieving all A’s in my classes again, I mean. We’re taking care of my brother’s dog while he’s away, so Bullet’s getting used to living with us and having four people to be entertained by.10844591_10152860790974976_569860123_o

We’ve decorated for Christmas, so all the trees are up and looking cheerful. Oh, at school, they’ve finally gone up “above the fence” while they’re rebuilding Freeman Hall, so I’m sure it’ll look almost complete when we get back from our break. No, we haven’t started any Christmas baking yet.10821814_10152855592604976_1118922527_oI feel like there’s probably something else I’ve forgotten, but oh well. I’m going to go empty my school notebooks so that they’re ready for next semester and so they’ll stop cluttering the furniture in my office area. I’m assuming that I’ll be back on here before then, but if I get busy, I hope you and your families will have a splendidly wonderful Christmas!10834475_10152866184189976_177036601_o10840097_10152866973814976_109514920_o

the saturday books…4…

After enjoying a breakfast at Mickey D’s, which involved way too much coffee, I was off to the library, then the book store. My body continued to debate what to do with all the coffee, as caffeine rarely affects me, but it could have an effect on my digestive system, that’s for sure.

I’m also on my second day of wearing my contacts and new sunglasses regularly, as I’ve been extremely lazy about putting my contacts in, lately. I think it’s because I broke my last pair of “sunnies”, so what was the point? At least that’s what my early morning thought process tells me. So, for the first hour or two after putting my contacts in, I’ve been going through a stage where I feel like I’m cross-eyed, but keeping telling myself that “this too shall pass”. And it does.

Fortunately, none of these ocular or bodily issues caused any interference with my driving skills, so I checked out a copy of Anne of Windy Willows from the library, and then drove to Blossoms. Yes, you heard that right. If you’re an L.M. Montgomery fan, and you live in the U.S. or Canada, then you’re familiar with this book by the title of Anne of Windy Poplars. Apparently, Montgomery’s original choice of a name was Anne of Windy Willows, but the American publisher thought it could become confused with The Wind in the Willows. A book about talking animals, or a book about a red-headed girl living on Prince Edward Island? Yeah, they’re too similar to tell the difference, Mr. Publisher.

So, they changed the name for us North Americans, AND supposedly edited out some of the more “risqué” stories, but everyone else got the originals. Because Americans and Canadians can’t handle a few darker stories, in the Anne books? Honestly. Montgomery’s books were not all light and fluff. Consider Emily’s taste of the second sight, in Emily of New Moon, or all of Montgomery’s short stories that were collected into a book called Among the Shadows.

So, now I have to find out if this is true, that my American copy is an abridged form of the original book. I’ve read it enough times to be able to tell if something’s new in the Windy Willows book. So, that’s something for you all to look forward to me talking about, soon.

Anyway, back to the bookstore. As someone who always likes to read about the Titanic, and considering that in April, it will have been a century since the ocean liner went down, I immediately found and bought Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic: The Ocean’s Greatest Disaster, by Marshall Everett. I already find the tales of Titanic to be fascinating, the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, all on one ship. The heroes and villains of the story, with some men barging into the lifeboats with the women (or even dressing as women), while others refused to abandon their loved ones. And of course, the horror of the steerage passengers being kept from escaping.

This book, with it’s gold-edged pages, is a reproduction of the 1912 edition, which was published immediately after the Titanic sank. I think this will be a fascinating read, both from the immediacy of the book’s writing, to how people expressed themselves in 100 year old books. It is advertised on the back cover as “a Graphic and Thrilling Account of the Sinking of the Greatest Floating Palace Ever Built, Carrying Down to Watery Graves More Than 1,500 Souls”. Fifteen hundred people. The number is still shocking. Yes, the Titanic will always be of interest, because it was a “floating palace” of extremes, and we’ll never see the like again (and for the sake of many lives, I hope we won’t).

Having satisfied my occasional need to buy an actual book, and continuing to resist the lure of buying Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (do you have any idea what that might cost me to ship home?), I determined to buy no more books today (and I held to that resolve!). And then crossed paths with a copy of The Midwife of Venice, by Roberta Rich. I still think that the UK publisher does a better job on cover illustrations, sometimes. Looking it up on Amazon, I wasn’t as much a fan of that cover.

But the story still looks fascinating. In the late 1500’s, Hannah Levi is a Jewish midwife, living in a time when Jews are forbidden to attend the births of Christians. And yet, in the middle of the night, she is offered a fabulous sum to attend a woman who has been laboring for days. The money is enough to save her husband from imprisonment, but what will happen to her if it is found out? Torture and death could be waiting for her, but she will do anything to save her beloved husband. The reviews say that this book is a page-turner, and one that just can’t put down. If I can’t get to it any time soon, perhaps someone else could read it, and tell me what you think?

From there, I picked up a hilarious little book, called The A-Z of Unfortunate Dogs, by Adam Elliot. If you’re a dog lover, or even if you’re not, the rhyming lines about each funnily drawn canine will make you chuckle. They are beset with the trials of having a long tongue, fleas, gout, short legs, and all sorts of problems, but the drawings are so cute, you want to chuckle and make the poor puppy feel better about himself, at the same time.

I was intrigued by The Usborne Cookbook for Boys, which advertises itself as being an easy cookbook of things that boys will actually WANT to eat. The implication being that other cookbooks are usually full of fancy, fluffy recipes that girls (and cooks) will adore. I can see the point, because I’m not much into cooking from cookbooks. I like my home favorites, and all the usual recipes call for things I don’t understand or care to even try. Too fancy, too complicated, what happened to simplicity, with ingredients I’ve heard of? So, I’d be tempted to buy this book myself, if I was in the market for an easy cookbook, and I had a boatload of guys to feed.

And finally, I noticed (and wanted!) Jane Austen’s Sewing Box (Craft Projects & Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels), by Jennifer Forest. Full of beautiful illustrations and artwork from Austen’s times, not only does it have directions on how to make many Regency-style needlework projects, it contains descriptions of the history behind the craft work. Discussion of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the printing press & the availability of novels, the advent of new fabrics and designs, and the results of all these changes on the lives of women in the home, are all covered here. As I find the history behind the novels just as interesting as the novels themselves, I found this part of the book even more interesting than the actual projects. I think I will have to get myself a copy, once I get home.

By the way, speaking of an interest in Regency history, I’ve already read (and loved) Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester. Whether you love Heyer’s books or not (and you should), she followed in the footsteps of Austen and Bronté, perfecting the Regency novel. And Kloester’s book delves into all areas of Regency life, showing you what it would really be like to live back then.

Now, I’ve just checked Amazon, and found that Elizabeth Kantor’s The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After will be released on April 2. I’m not sure if it’ll be on Kindle, and since I’ll be home soon, I probably don’t need to get an e-book copy, anyway. But I’ve been looking forward to this one, as Kantor uses an in-depth study of the Austen heroines (Lizzy Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, etc.) to give us suggestions on how to survive the area of dating and relationships in our modern-day world. I look forward to this read, not just because of the subject matter, but because I’ve enjoyed previous books of hers.

So, I hope I’ve livened up your Saturday and given you a few ideas on what books you might like to take a gander at. And now, I’m going to get back to reading Crucible of Gold, the latest Temeraire book, by Naomi Novik.

i’m NOT your mother…

And for that matter, I’m not Dusty’s stepmother or guardian, either. Could somebody please inform that crazy animal? Come to think of it, I hereby relinquish being godmother to the kittens, if it’s going to result in this. Several friends of mine can tell you that a cat better not come near me when I’m asleep, or trying to go to sleep. The only thing that saved her was the mosquito netting.

My alarm goes off at 6:30 am, and I like to get my full allotment of sleep. Yesterday morning, I was sound asleep, when I heard a meow, right next to my ear… and I jumped several feet in the air. I was so bleary, I couldn’t figure out where she was, but I was already hissing at her (couldn’t wake the house up, you know) to shut up and get out. I got all tangled up in my mosquito netting, trying to get out of my bed and deal with that cat, and finally realized she’d been up on my nightstand.

Now, only one time has she come up to my room when I was asleep, and that was right after the kittens were born. I’m pretty sure I was alone in the house, at the time. That doesn’t make me feel any better about being woken up, of course. If I hadn’t had to go to the bathroom, I’d have shut my door and gone back to sleep. So, fuming, with smoke practically coming out of my ears, I still was nice enough to let Dusty outside to do her business. If that mosquito netting hadn’t been in my way (or hers), she’d have gotten on the bed, and probably gotten thrown for her efforts.

I’m actually wondering, now, whether she was meowing the whole time she walked towards the bed, and I just slept through it. The image that actually comes to my mind is of her creeping up to the bed, hopping on the nightstand, and then meowing loudly. Just to see the crazy sleeping human jump out of her skin. I don’t suppose cats are mean like that?

I told Mrs. B and one of the girls about it, after they woke up (see, wasn’t I nice, unlike that blasted cat?), and they thought it was hilarious. Which is fine. But Mrs. B says that Dusty used to come wake them up, if she couldn’t wait until morning. But she must think I’m her mom, to have switched to me. Which is ridiculous, considering they raised her from kittenhood, and all I did was stand by her while she was giving birth. It’s not like I actually DID anything.

But no, she was a whiny cat before pregnancy, and I think she’s whinier since then. No, she’s not in heat, there’s a different sound to that. I swear, though, she thinks you should fill her bowl after she’s had a few nibbles. If she complains to me when there’s food in her dish, I ignore her and tell her to bug off. Whinging doesn’t impress me when the kids do it (ok, I don’t tell them to bug off), and it certainly doesn’t impress me when an animal does it.

Before you think I’m an animal hater, please understand, I’m not. Some of my friends think that, because I don’t fawn over their pets. But I like well-behaved animals that don’t jump up on you or order you around. I don’t like it when animals think they rule the roost. So, I’m more likely to ignore your badly trained (or extremely spoiled) dog, or your snooty cat. Besides, the cat already has too good an opinion of itself, it doesn’t need any encouragement. And I don’t find their purring comforting, so they better stay away from my bed, especially. Most cats that I’ve met, they live to get you to serve them. Oh, there’s truth to the joke about dogs thinking you (the human) are God, and cats thinking they (the animal) are God.

So, I was on speaking terms with Dusty, when I arrived here, but didn’t pay her any extra attention until she got pregnant. Sure, I gave her some lectures about being promiscuous (which she ignored), but I took good care of her. Now, she follows me around and tries to get me to do things for her, all the time. Some people find it odd that when I’m in their homes, their pets (especially the dogs) will follow me around (ok, not ALL of them). I don’t pay them any attention if they’re jumping all over people and making a ruckus… and yet, they still take a liking to me. Must be all my inner charm.

Now, I’ve watched a lot of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, so maybe I’m accidentally doing it right. Some of the time. But then, I still resort to yelling at them (dog or cat) when they don’t do as they’re told, rather than try and convince them I’m the pack leader. Gotta work on that. Yes, I know they don’t actually understand me. Do you have a pet? How often do you remember that your dog doesn’t speak English (aside from the words WALK or EAT)?

Back to the cat issue… I’m looking forward to getting my window AC unit, this week. Not just because it’ll feel great, but as soon as I have it, I can keep my door shut and not suffocate in the heat. And then, Dusty won’t be able get me to let her out for a midnight potty break. Ha HA. So there.

Oh, and per the pictures, I have to admit that I was just as sorry for Dusty, as everyone else was, after Sadie gave her a haircut. But now, I have no pity. Dreadful, aren’t I? But to keep the rest of the household (people, animals, Barbies) safe, I ask my girl DAILY, “What are we allowed to cut with scissors?”. And every day since then, she tells me, “Only paper”. Good girl.