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12 Sep, 2017

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards 2017

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading

On September 7, 2017, I was able to attend the awards ceremony for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in Cleveland.

 

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Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf established the book prizes in 1935, in honor of her father, John Anisfield, and husband, Eugene Wolf, to reflect her family’s passion for issues of social justice. Today it remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and diversity. “

The list of winners by year is an excellent reading list for understanding the history of diversity in literature in the United States.

The winners this year were absolutely amazing.  I was especially glad to get to hear these speakers.

The chair of the jury is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I love to watch all his documentaries.

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The ceremony started with young Cleveland poet Con-Yai Smith powerfully reciting her poem “Cheetah.”

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Poetry – Tyehimba Jess for Olio

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Tyehimba Jess is the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In his award acceptance speech he imagined what it must have felt like to own nothing but the words that come out of your mouth as a slave. Is that why spirituals and African-American music is so powerful?


Fiction – Peter Ho Davies for The Fortunes

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The Fortunes is about four points of Asian-American experience in the United States from the building of the western railroads until today. Peter Ho Davies is British but has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. He is half-Welsh and half-Chinese. He talked about the importance of finding a feeling of belonging as an immigrant. He pointed out that as important as it was to him as a legal immigrant from a native English speaking country who is comfortably well off in his life, it will be even more important to refugees to find even scraps of belonging and acceptance here.


Fiction – Karan Mahajan for The Association of Small Bombs

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The Association of Small Bombs was inspired by a bombing in a market in India near Karan Mahajan’s home when he was 12. After 9/11/2001, he had a lot of anger that he worked through by researching terrorism and the mindset of terrorists and victims. He discussed the importance of remembering that even when stupid things are going on, Americans still get a lot of things right. He is continually surprised by the generosity of Americans and by the fact that the government gets anything done in a timely manner (unlike what he experienced in India.)


Nonfiction – Margot Lee Shetterly for Hidden Figures

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She talked about the importance of remembering history and being a role model for the people around you. She read a selection from Hidden Figures about how even if opportunities are available, the people most in need may not be in a position to hear about them.


Lifetime Achievement – Isabel Allende

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Much has been said about the sad events in her life (political exile, death of her daughter) but she wants people to remember that there is also joy. Her parents are still alive at 101 and 97 years old. She is 75 and has a new boyfriend. She said that it felt stupid to call him a boyfriend when he is 74 so she is going to call him her new lover. She also pointed out the strangeness of having the “meet the parents” time when everyone is this age. Her step-father’s reaction to her new beau? “Another one?!”


If you’d like to see the whole ceremony, it is on YouTube.

11 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 

Finished This Week

 

What Am I Reading?

Now, in The Forest Lover, she traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who more than Georgia O’Keeffe or Frida Kahlo.blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force in modern art by capturing an untamed British Columbia and its indigenous peoples just before industrialization changed them forever. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to artists’ studios in pre-World War I Paris, Vreeland tells her story with gusto and suspense, giving us a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.

Susan Vreeland recently died so I decided to read one of her books that I hadn’t read yet.

New Books for Me This Week

 

 

Ultra-private, ridiculously handsome Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends… “

This was free on Amazon right now.  I found it through Book Bub.

 

What Am I Listening To?

 

 

 

“Tall and handsome Abdul was just twenty-four years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Within a year, Abdul had grown to become a powerful figure at court, the Queen’s teacher, or Munshi, her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs, and a friend close to the Queen’s heart. “I am so very fond of him.,” Queen Victoria would write in 1888, “He is so good and gentle and understanding….a real comfort to me.”

This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria’s long reign. Devastated first by the death of Prince Albert in 1861 and then her personal servant John Brown in 1883, Queen Victoria quickly found joy in an intense and controversial relationship with her Munshi, who traveled everywhere with her, cooked her curries and cultivated her understanding of the Indian sub-continent–a region, as Empress of India, she was long intrigued by but could never visit. The royal household roiled with resentment, but their devotion grew in defiance of all expectation and the societal pressures of their time and class and lasted until the Queen’s death on January 22, 1901.”

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06 Sep, 2017

Give a Girl a Knife

/ posted in: Reading Give a Girl a Knife Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen
on May 16th 2017
Pages: 320
Length: 10:09
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers
Format: Audiobook
Source: Playster
Setting: Minnesota/New York

A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one cook's journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots.
Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City s finest kitchens for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking pulsed with joy, family drama, and an overabundance of butter.
Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.

Goodreads

I spent a good portion of this memoir wondering why I listen to books like this.  It is no secret that I like foodie books but why do I listen to books where the lovingly drawn out descriptions of the food make me think, “Oh my god, that sounds disgusting!”

I’m not sure I found an answer to that.  I guess that will be the lot of wanna-be vegans who listen to chef memoirs.  You’ve been warned if descriptions of organ meats and loving talk of bloody juices and fond rememberances of torturing live lobsters bother you.

Amy Thielen was an English major before becoming a chef and it shows in this memoir.  The writing is of a more literary quality than a lot of memoirs.

This book starts with the story of how she and her husband started to live a seasonal existence.  In the summer they were in their off-the-grid cabin in Minnesota with a huge garden and in the winter they lived in New York.  This part of the book ends with their decision to move back to Minnesota full time.

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The next part of the book goes back in time for a series of essays about events that take place before the first section. You never find out what happened after the move back from New York.  I had never heard of the author prior to reading this book so I wasn’t sure what happened besides writing this book.  I guess you are either expected to know that or expected to Google.

I was most fascinated by the story of her husband who actually managed to make a good living as a working artist in New York.  I thought that was a fairy tale.  The story of making a home in the woods was amazing to me.

The author narrates the audiobook which is normally a horrible decision but she did a very good job.  She infuses her story with a lot of emotion as she reads.

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • Books Set in North America
  • Foodies Read 2017
05 Sep, 2017

Map, or Holy Cow I Like a Poetry Book!

/ posted in: Reading Map, or Holy Cow I Like a Poetry Book! Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wisława Szymborska, Clare Cavanagh, Stanisław Barańczak
on April 2015
Genres: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library, Owned
Setting: Poland

A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).

Goodreads

I am not a fan of poetry.  I think that is mostly because I am not a person who is in touch with my feelings or who wishes to have other people spilling their feelings all over me.  I read poetry and if I understand it at all I end up mostly thinking, “Ugh, no one cares about your feelings.”  I am Scrooge.

So why did I request this book of poetry?  It was Women in Translation month.  I heard about this collection somewhere on Twitter.  I’m always on the lookout for books from or about Poland that aren’t mired in World War II.  I’m 1/4 Polish and I want to learn more about it but it is hard to find anything that isn’t miserable.  Granted they’ve had more than their fair share of trouble but there has to be some literature that isn’t just depressing, doesn’t there?  Also, my library happened to have this book which I thought was a bit odd for some reason.

This collection starts in the 1940s and continues to the 2000s.  I’m not going to pretend that I understand every poem but I do get most of them.  A lot of them are about things that I haven’t seen written about in poetry before.  They span a range of emotion from happy to sad.

One of my favorites is about talking to an uppity French woman who is dismissive of Poland as just a place where it is cold.  The author spins a crazy fairy tale in her mind about freezing writers struggling against the elements while herding walruses but then realizes that she doesn’t have the French vocabulary to be insultingly sarcastic back to this woman so has to just say “Pas de tout (Not at all).”

This is a huge collection. I’ve renewed the book once but I’m not getting through it fast enough. To let you know how much I’m enjoying it I’ll say, I ordered a copy of myself. Yes, I bought a poetry book. I even thought about buying the hardcover because it seemed like it needed that kind of respect. Then my cheap side of my brain reasserted itself and I got the paperback.

I want the husband to read this too. He likes poetry. He’s into feelings. I’ll impress him by pretending to be classy and reading poetry.  We’ll sneak the walrus herders up on him. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Europe
04 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 

Finished This Week

I didn’t like Blue is the Warmest Color.  It would skip huge chunks of time in the story and I had a bunch of questions about those times.  Everything else was good. 

What Am I Reading?

The Reading Quest is helping me tackle a bunch of books I’ve owned for a while but haven’t read.  These are going to be A Book with a Red Cover and Book with Less than 500 Ratings on Goodreads.

New Books for Me This Week

This was a gift from my Secret Sister.

“Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist surrounded by the egos of the 1887 Congress, a time before women had the right to vote. Her success in the isolating male arena comes from using the tactics she’s learned from those who oppressed her. So when she’s hired by the National Women’s Suffrage Association to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment granting women’s voting rights, Amelia feels empowered to at last win a place for herself and give all women a voice in the world. What she doesn’t foresee is the charismatic and calculating Senator Edward Stillman who threatens to ruin her hard-earned reputation and end her career.

This was my Kindle First selection this month.

“In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.

Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.”

This is free on Amazon right now.  I found it through Book Bub.

“Eva Hanover – a brilliant career, a gorgeous brownstone in Brooklyn, and a sexy husband. Or, at least, she thinks so. In a wink of an eye, Eva’s husband leaves her. She loses the brownstone and her career. With only the clothes on her back, she flees cold New York for the sunnier climate of Key Largo.

 

 

What Am I Listening To?

 

I have a little less than 2 hours left in this one.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 Aug, 2017

August 2017 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

This was a good reading month.  I read a lot of Women in Translation and I used The Reading Quest challenge to really tackle some books that I’ve had on my TBR for a while.

I read 22 books this month.

My Women in Translation Month reading

Other Fiction

 Nonfiction

The books were:

  • Set in France, Iceland, The Ivory Coast, Poland, Japan, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Suriname, England, Italy, Algeria, and fantasy places.  I just realized that none of the fiction was set in the U.S.
  • The nonfiction was set in Minnesota/New York, Massachusetts, and the Pacific Ocean
  • 2 audiobooks and 5 graphic novels

The authors were:

  •  16 unique female authors and 3 male authors
  •  9 white women, 3 white men, 1 South Asian woman, 2 Japanese women, 1 Korean woman, 1 Latina, and 2 black women

Women In Translation Month – an August event

 

I loved focusing on translations. I read a lot of graphic novels because I could get more in that way.

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There are many combinations I could have marked but this one gave me 2 bingos.  I read books originally in French, Polish, Icelandic, Swedish, Dutch, Korean, and Japanese. 


We’re halfway through The Reading Quest.  I’ve finished the Mage path and am working on Knight.  I just have to read a book with a red cover to finish that.  I’ve done four side quests in the center of the board too.

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Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

I added Poland, Iceland, The Ivory Coast, and Suriname this month!

 

 


 I made a thing! I decided to use all the National Day of Random Things holidays to make a photo challenge for myself. Anyone can play along.

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30 Aug, 2017

Book Title Tag

/ posted in: Reading

I saw this tag on Shannon’s blog at It Starts at Midnight.  It seemed like a fun one to try.

Title that is the Story of Your Life

Nerd Do WellNerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

 

 

 

 

Title that describes your perfect weekend

Summers at Castle AuburnSummers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderfully peaceful place?  I haven’t read the book yet so that may not be true at all but it sounds like it.

 

 

 

Title that describes an adventure you’d like to go on

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

I’d like to go find unicorns and friendly dragons.

 

 

Title that is a name you’d give your child

Son of a TricksterSon of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

I wouldn’t be happy if I suddenly had a child.  There would have had to have been some trickery involved.

 

 

Title that is your ideal job

The Marriage Bureau for Rich PeopleThe Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

You can meddle and get paid for it.

 

 

Title that is a place you’d like to visit

The Witch's MarketThe Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip

There are the best markets in books but I never find these in real life.

 

 

Title that describes your love life

Don't Tell My MotherDon’t Tell My Mother by Brigitte Bautista

 

 

 

 

Questions you ask yourself

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White HouseWho Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco

 

Obviously not the White House part.

 

Kingdom you want to rule

Carousel Seas (Archers Beach, #3)Carousel Seas by Sharon Lee

Riding carousel horses around in the ocean is what would happen in my kingdom.  Ignore the monsters on the cover.  We aren’t having those.

 

 

 

Title you’d name your band

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid, #4)Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire

Apocalypse is one of those words that I always have to spell three times before I get it right.  Marketing would be tricky because of that.

 

 

 

Title that describes where you live

Heroine AddictionHeroine Addiction by Jennifer Matarese

I wish this described it instead of the heroin and other drug problems we have around here.

29 Aug, 2017

TV Adaptations

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I love TV adaptations of books as much as I hate movie adaptations.  Obviously, a TV adaptation is required to have the time to get absolutely EVERY DETAIL from the book in.

Here are some upcoming book to TV adaptations that I’m excited about.

Good Omens

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett

You may find this over-dramatic but occasionally I think sadly back to the time when it was announced that Terry Gilliam was going to direct a movie version of this Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman book.  The plot revolves around the angel and demon left in charge of Earth who decide to work together to prevent the rise of the Antichrist because Earth is a cushy job and they don’t want to lose it.  Jonny Depp and Robin Williams were going to be the leads.  I think of this as the biggest missed opportunity ever.

But now, now, it has been announced that there will be a TV adaptation with David Tennant playing Crowley the demon.  I wanted to squeal when I heard but I couldn’t because other people were sleeping.

Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I reread this series a lot.  It is comfort food for me.  That makes me a little nervous about the adaptation that is in the works at Bad Wolf studios in Wales.  Don’t screw it up.  The author, Deborah Harkness, is very involved so hopefully it will be ok. The first book takes place in Oxford so it should be pretty.

This is a world of witches, daemons, and vampires.  A medieval scholar who has suppressed her witch heritage is drawn into conflict when the library gives her access to a book that has been hidden for centuries.

Who Fears Death

Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Anyone who has been around here a while knows that I love me some Nnedi Okorafor and that Who Fears Death was my first book of hers.  I love it but I don’t know if this was the one I’d have chosen to adapt.  She has others that seem more TV-friendly.

This is a post-apocalyptic story about racism and sexism in a brutal world in the African desert.  There are magical battles but also a lot of rape and violence.

I am looking forward to depiction of the tribe that lives in the middle of the sandstorm.  I love them!
good omens

Dawn

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

I actually have mixed feelings about this one.  I feel like I totally missed the takeaway of Octavia Butler’s series.  What I got from it was that humans are horrible and probably need to be exterminated.  Apparently she meant it as a ode to humans triumphing over slavery.  Pretty big difference of opinion there. 

Because of that I feel like this adaptation will probably just frustrate me as the humans go around being absolutely hateful and we are supposed to root for them.  Am I the only person who read this series that feels this way?

28 Aug, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

I’m back.  I was AWOL last week because of the husband’s hospital drama.  He’s home now and feeling a bit better but without a whole lot of answers.

Finished This Week

What Am I Reading?

I’ve been having a hard time settling into any books.  This is doing the best job of holding my attention so far. I picked it because it was a book with a verb in the title for The Reading Quest and it was on my ipad. 

“On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.

Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.”

It is a Regency romance with faeries!

What Am I Listening To?

 

I picked this one to see what all the fuss was about.  I’m loving it.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.“


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Aug, 2017

We’re Not Bad People

/ posted in: Family

I’ve been AWOL this week because the husband has been stressing me out.

To recap:

Sometime in June he pulled a pectoral muscle.  When it didn’t heal well he went to the doctor who did an xray.  All the lymph nodes in his thorax were huge.  He was treated for kidney cancer last year.  Renal tumors that spread to the lungs are basically a death sentence.  I freaked out.

He had a PET scan.  It didn’t look cancerous.  He had a biopsy.  They didn’t find any cancer.  They didn’t know what it was.  During all this time, he is not sick at all.

About a week after the biopsy he spiked a fever and started coughing.  That was this night.  It didn’t get better.  He kept going to doctors who told him to quit being a weenie and tough out his cold.  One did an xray and saw nothing but the weird lymph node enlargement.

Last Friday he went to the ER at the Cleveland Clinic.  He literally could not stop coughing.  They kept him for 24 hours to give him breathing treatments for his ‘bronchitis’.  He didn’t stop coughing so they did a CT scan and found a 6 cm lung mass.

via GIPHY

We said that he had had several xrays, CT scans, and a PET scan in the last month at multiple facilities and no one had seen a lung mass. They especially hadn’t seen a huge lung mass. Of course it was now Saturday night. All his scans were at the VA hospital and they don’t work weekends. We had their reports that didn’t mention anything about a mass but the new doctors wanted to see these multiple pictures of his lungs with no mass with their own eyeballs before they truly believed. If it wasn’t there a few weeks ago then it was probably an infection and not cancerous.

Despite this being the 21st century, no one sends digital scans electronically so it was decided that I would present myself to the VA on Monday morning and beg for a CD to be made of all his scans. If I could get it then I would deliver it to the new hospital so they could make a plan.

I arrived at the VA hospital promptly at 8 AM Monday morning. I had until 10 AM to get this, drive to the new hospital, drop it off, and leave for work. I was ready to fight if I had to. They aren’t known for their cooperation. I had multiple signed releases from the husband.

I told the receptionist what I needed. She asked for his name. Then she asked for the last four of his social security number. I looked down at the paper and read it off to her. She looked at me.

“You don’t know your husband’s social security number?”
I don’t know why I said this other than sometimes my sarcasm overflows but I answered, “No, but I know the last husband’s in case I never need to use that information against him.”
She perked up. “You’re divorced?”
“Yes.”
“You’re not a bad person! No, ma’am! I’m divorced too. We’re not bad people!”
“Nope!”
“How long were you married the first time?”
“10 years”
“How long this time?”
“Together 9 years but married for 5.”
“This husband is a better husband than the first one?”
“Yes.”
“And he’s in the hospital now? I’mma get you some pictures. You just have a seat, baby.”

I sat down. Then she remembered that she needed to see my id because some people can’t be trusted. “Not you of course because you’re lovely…”

She got the disk printed and then we reminded each other a few more times that we weren’t bad people.

I don’t know what that poor woman has been through but apparently she has seen some shit.

via GIPHY

Anyway, I left my new BFF with my precious disk in hand at 8:22.  I should send her some flowers.


For the record, there was no mass on any of those scans.  That was only the beginning of the nonsense of this week.  I’ll write more later. 

17 Aug, 2017

Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus

/ posted in: Reading Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
on May 12th 2015
Pages: 261
Genres: Nonfiction
Published by Atria Books
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Library, Playster
Setting: Massachusetts

Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?
The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.

Goodreads

I love octopuses.  I think they are fascinating.  I’ve never had the chance to meet one though like this author did.  She got to know three octopuses over the course of a few years.  It was amazing to hear about the ways their physiology lets them interact with the world. They can taste with their skin, camouflage even though they are color blind, and work through complex puzzles.

She also lets you get to know the people working behind the scenes in the aquarium who love these animals.

This book is wonderful for anyone who is interested in finding out more about these animals.  I am looking forward to reading more from this author.


Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution by Marcus Eriksen
on July 4th 2017
Pages: 216
Length: 8:05
Published by Beacon Press
Setting: Pacific Ocean

News media brought the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"--the famous swirling gyre of plastic pollution in the ocean--into the public consciousness. But when Marcus Eriksen cofounded the 5 Gyres Institute with his wife, Anna Cummins, and set out to study the world's oceans with hundreds of volunteers, they discovered a "plastic smog" of microscopic debris that permeates our oceans globally, defying simple clean-up efforts. What's more, these microplastics and their toxic chemistry have seeped into the food chain, threatening marine life and humans alike.
Far from being a gloomy treatise on an environmental catastrophe, though, Junk Raft tells the exciting story of Eriksen and his team's fight to solve the problem of plastic pollution. A scientist, activist, and inveterate adventurer, Eriksen is drawn to the sea by a desire to right an environmental injustice. Against long odds and common sense, he and his co-navigator, Joel Paschal, construct a "junk raft" made of plastic trash and set themselves adrift from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with no motor or support vessel, confronting perilous cyclones, food shortages, and a fast decaying raft.

Goodreads


Plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem but it doesn’t manifest in exactly the ways that it has been portrayed in the press.  Most of the ocean is polluted with microparticles of plastic that make any clean up operation almost impossible.  The author’s goal is to require companies to take on more of the burden for reusing or recycling plastics they produce.  Now they are freed from responsibility by requiring consumers to recycle if they don’t want the plastic going into a landfill.

This book used the framework of the several month journey on Junk to tell the story of the Earth’s plastic pollution problem.  It is full of ideas for making the problem better but there needs to be buy in from a lot of people to make it happen.

The stories in the book are scary.  So much damage is being done through human carelessness.  Getting the word out about what needs to be done is important.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in North America
15 Aug, 2017

Graphic Novel Mini Reviews

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Format: Graphic
Source: Library

I decided to read several new to me graphic novels as part of Women in Translation Month.  I was impressed with how many my library had.  Here are the first few series I started.

The Rabbi's CatThe Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar

“In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.”  Translated from French

First of all, the author is not a woman. Whoops. I still loved this story. The cat is full of contempt for any Jewish law that doesn’t make any sense.

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The art is cute. I enjoyed the North African setting. I will be continuing this series.


Bride of the Water God, Volume 1Bride of the Water God, Volume 1 by Mi-Kyung Yun

“When Soah’s impoverished, desperate village decides to sacrifice her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe that drowning one beautiful girl will save their entire community and bring much-needed rain. Not only is Soah surprised to be rescued by the Water God — instead of killed — she never imagined she’d be a welcomed guest in Habaek’s magical kingdom, where an exciting new life awaits her! Most surprising, however, is the Water God himself… and how very different he is from the monster Soah imagined.” Translated from Korean

I don’t know about an exciting life. I found this one pretty boring. It is a great concept and it seemed like it was going to be good but then nothing happened by the end of the volume. Maybe it gets better if you read more but I’m not interested.

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The art is good but it isn’t enough.


Fruits Basket, Vol. 1Fruits Basket, Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya

“Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.”  Translated from Japanese

A girl moves in with a family who are all possessed by the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac. That sounds good. Again, I couldn’t get into this one. I had a hard time telling the male characters apart or even how many of them there were. Bad sign.

FruitsBasket

The art was fine but I’m starting to think that manga just isn’t for me.


A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (A Bride's Story, #1)A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

“Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.”  Translated from Japanese

I gasped when I opened this one. The art was extraordinary and very detailed.

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It is set in 1800s Turkmenistan. I loved the characters who all had distinct personalities. Amir isn’t just meekly trying to fit into her new family and the family isn’t trying to make her conform. I’m glad this moved away from that trope.

I am definitely continuing with this series.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Africa
  • Books Set in Asia
14 Aug, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 I have 16 items checkout out of the library.  Help!  The problem is that I’ve been saving a lot of them for the Reading Quest readathon which finally started on the 13th.

Finished This Week

What Am I Reading?

These both work for Women in Translation Month and will fit on my Reading Quest board. 

 

What Am I Listening To?

Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.


 

 

 

 

 

 


13 Aug, 2017

#TheReadingQuest

/ posted in: Reading

This is my recording page for The Reading Quest hosted by Read At Midnight.

Here’s the gameboard.

reading-quest-board1

I’m starting out as a mage.

mage

Books finished

One Word Title  Stained  +20  +20
Book with Magic  Valley of the Wolves  +10  +24
Mythology  Bride of the Water God  +20EX  +9HP
Different World  An Heir of Thorns and Steel  +20  +35
First in Series  Aya of Yop City +20 +5

Side Quests

2 authors      
Multiplayer      
Grind  House of Spies  +10  +51
Time Warp  My Soul to Take  +10 XP  +35 HP
Open World      
Respawn      
Expansion      
Mini-Game      
Animal Companion  The Rabbi’s Cat  +5 EX  +7 Hp

If I finish the Mage path, I’ll move on to the Bard.

bard

TV/Movie Adaptation      
Retelling      
Typography      
Translated      
Banned      

Knight

Verb
Weapon Give a Girl a Knife +10 EX +30 HP
Red

10 Aug, 2017

Unbroken Line of the Moon – Women in Translation Month

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Unbroken Line of the Moon – Women in Translation Month The Unbroken Line of the Moon by Johanne Hildebrandt, Tara F. Chace
on October 1, 2016
Pages: 464
Series: Sagan om Valhalla #4
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: Sweden

In this grand saga of love, war, and magic set in the tenth century, young Sigrid is destined to be the mother of the king of the Nordic lands that would become Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England.
A devout believer in the old Nordic gods, Sigrid is visited regularly in her dreams by the goddess Freya, who whispers to her of the future. Though Sigrid is beautiful, rich, arrogant, and matchlessly clever, her uncanny ability to foresee the future and manipulate the present guides her through dangerous politics as a bloody war between Vikings and Christians rages on.
Sigrid’s father wants her to marry Erik, a local king, to secure the peace between the Goths and the Swedes. Thinking she is doing Freya’s will, she accepts the marriage offer, only to find that her destiny lies not with Erik but with Sweyn, a warrior who dreams of dethroning Harald Bluetooth, the legendary ruler of Denmark. Will Sigrid sacrifice her will for the greatest Viking kingdom of all time, or will she follow her heart at the risk of losing everything?

Goodreads

I got this book for free through the Kindle First program for Amazon Prime members.  That’s a great way to try out some translated books since usually at least one of the selections are translated.

This book 4 of a series published in Sweden but it is the first book available in English.  The next book the series is going to be translated later in 2017.  I’m not sure what the first few books cover but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by starting the story at this point.

This book is set during the time of the Vikings and everyone knows that they were awful.  That aspect of Viking life is not sugar coated here.  There is a lot of violence.  There are graphic descriptions of multiple gang rapes.

Despite that, I did enjoy this story.  I haven’t read much set during this time in Scandinavia when there was conflict between traditional Nordic beliefs and Christianity.    True believers on both sides are coming across people who will switch religions for personal or political gain.

If you like Game of Thrones style fantasy or historical fiction you will probably enjoy this book.

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in Europe
09 Aug, 2017

WIP Wednesday

/ posted in: Quilting

Look! I’m sewing. I mean, sure, I list quilting as one of my major hobbies but I hadn’t been doing much of it.

Recently I started working on two projects out of the gazillion I have in pieces in my sewing room.

De La Prominade by Quilt Fusion

I saw this pattern on Instagram when they were testing it. I had to have it even though it was completely impractical. It is a bed sized quilt when done, which I don’t need. I can make it a bit smaller by leaving off the outer borders. If I hang it, it would need to go horizontal and I don’t think I have a big enough spot. I still don’t care. I love it.

This is the center block. You trace the pattern pieces onto paper backed fusible web. Then you cut out all the pieces and build it.

 

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This block sits above the carousel block. This is designed to be quilt as you go. That’s nice because you don’t need to maneuver a big quilt through the machine. After I made the block I spray basted it to batting. Then I free motion quilt around all the pieces. Once the whole thing is together and quilted you add the backing fabric and quilt around the blocks to hold it all together.

 

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This is the block below the carousel.

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I also started on a snail quilt that I’ve had the pattern for for a while. The husband, who thinks he’s funny said, “That sounds like a slow project.” It turns out to be pretty quick though. I made all the bodies in one sitting. Then I’ve been making a few shells at a time. The finished lap sized quilt has 60 snails.

 

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08 Aug, 2017

I Survived The Husband’s Man Flu Without Needing Bail Money

/ posted in: Family

The husband is a hypochondriac. 

Even worse, the husband is a hypochondriac who actually does have a lot of strange and serious medical conditions.  Even though humans are the one species that I’m not legally allowed to treat, I spend a lot of time on his health care.

Sunday

Neither of us are feeling great.  I have a headache that won’t go away and it feels like a good idea to just lay in bed for the day.  Around lunch time he comes into the bedroom, wakes me up, and asks if I want something from Subway.  I say that that seems like a good idea.  He says, “Good.  Can you go get it?”

I roll over and look at him.  “You have clothes on.  I’m not dressed.  You want me to get up, get dressed, and go get Subway?”  Anyone who has been married as long as he has should know the danger sign of a woman repeating your request like that.  You, sir, are being given a chance to repent.  He did not. 

“Yes.  I’m so weak.  I would get in an accident.”

I ignored him and went back to sleep.  A little while later he was back waking me up again.  “I’m hungry…..” like we don’t have a house full of food.

I obviously wasn’t going to get any peace.  I got up, slowly got dressed, and asked what he wanted.  He objected when I wanted him to write it down.  He said it was simple enough to remember.  I did not start yelling.  I am proud.

I came back with his sandwich.  He asked me why I didn’t get one for myself.  I told him that I was fueled solely by rage.  I don’t think he understood me. I went back to bed. 

Monday

He takes the day off work.  I have to go in at 11 AM.  He asks if before I go I can go get him Gatorade and ginger ale.  Let’s discuss ginger ale.  Ginger is wonderful for nausea.  Ginger ale would be a great drink for the flu if, you know, it contained any ginger.  Ginger ale is mostly carbonated water, hi fructose corn syrup, and flavoring.  I’ve pointed this out repeatedly to him.  He doesn’t care.  Because I actually am a big believer in the power of ginger, we have ginger tea bags which would give you a big dose of good-for-you stuff.  He doesn’t want that.  I go try to find ginger ale.  Of course it isn’t at the first store I go to so I’m driving all around creation looking for the useless stuff. 

(During this I am remembering about the time I broke my pelvis when home alone.  Then I hopped on one leg for an hour to reach my car.  I drove to the hospital.  Was released without crutches and told to go buy some the next day.  My now ex-husband was on a business trip and had his phone turned off.  When I reached him 18 hours later and told him what had happened and that I needed him to go get me crutches so could he please drive straight home that day instead of going to his office as planned, he got mad.  Several years later he was still mad about it and kept bringing it up during our separation as proof that I WAS TOO NEEDY!  Please, that fool had obviously never met Too Needy.)

Anyway, I got all the stuff and brought it home and then went to work.  I get a text later that he thinks he needs to go to Urgent Care.  I have feelings about this.  Mostly I feel – “You have the flu.  Sleep it off.” I am completely unable to say this because of what happened last year.  Same situation.  He goes to the ER for the flu that I just slept off.  He gets a Cat Scan.  I rail about the wastefulness of human medicine.  He gets diagnosed with the flu and by the way, you have a tumor.  Cue every time I say that he is absolutely fine in the past year, he counters with, “That’s what you said before and it turned out I had cancer.”  He goes to Urgent Care and gets diagnosed with the flu and told to go home and sleep it off.  I point out that he doesn’t have any new cancer so that’s an improvement.  He says sadly, “They didn’t give me any scans.” 

I decide to sleep in the guest room away from his germs. 

11:00 PM

He wakes me up with his shivering.  How can a person’s shivering wake you up if you are two rooms away?  He has never applied the phrase Suffering in Silence to himself.  He sounded like a cold person who was also having an attack of the vapors.

I take his temperature.  It is 100.5.  I don’t tell him this because despite all evidence to the contrary he believes that his normal body temperature is 95 degrees.  I just say he has a fever.  I give him some meds to bring the fever down.  I tell him to take a shower.  I go to get him something to drink and notice that he has not opened any of the gatorade that was so important that morning.  I tuck him back in.  In an inspired piece of theater I move the infrared space heater into the room and turn it on.  As soon as he isn’t looking, I turn it off. 

11:15 PM

He starts yelling that the room is so hot.  I get up and go back to him.  I explain that he has a fever.  The room isn’t hot.  He springs up from laying down and says to me,

“Heather, look!  I literally can’t even move!”

That’s when I broke.  I started yelling.  “Now you are just telling outright lies!  Lay down.”  Add in some swearing to get exactly what I said.  He spent many years in the Army.  Yelling and swearing are sometimes the key to him. 

The fever was up a bit.  I figured that he didn’t remember already taking a shower a few minutes ago so I asked if he would like to take a cool bath.  He thought that was a fine idea.  As I was running the water, I actually had the thought that I should text my mother and see if she would start putting together some bail money in case I drowned that man. 

He got in the tub.  He started complaining about medical professionals who obviously sent him home to die.  I went full on drill sergeant.  “You are fine!  Stop it.  I will tell you when you are not fine.  Until then, I don’t want to hear it.”  Add in expletives. He calmed down.  Then he hopped out of the tub in a more sprightly manner than he would normally ever be able to do while telling me, “I am SO weak!”

He went back to sleep.

12:00 PM

Fever is down.  He’s sleeping.  I go to bed.

Tuesday

He’s freaking fine just like I said.  While writing this though he’s made me take his temperature and is trying to justify his actions last night.  Now he’s on the phone with his insurance agent (for a totally unrelated reason) and is reliving his life or death struggle and talking about how wonderfully I cared for him. 

Oh, that fool just said, “She works at 11.  I’m going to miss her even though she’s been slightly ornery. Only someone who loves you gets that ornery.”  I’m going to work before I need bail money again.

 

08 Aug, 2017

Reader’s Workout

/ posted in: Fitness

fitness

 

I haven’t done a Reader’s Workout post in forever.  I’m pretty happy with my fitness routine right now though so I thought I’d update.

I signed up for Strong by Bret.  This is a monthly service that gives you 3 – 4 weightlifting workouts for a month.  You do the same workout each week but increase the weight each time.  If you want more there are optional additional workouts based on your goals:

  • You can pick additional full workout if you want to work out your whole body more days (rest days are recommended though)
  • You can add on a supplemental glute workout to your workout days or your off days
  • If powerlifting is your goal there are additional strength-building workouts

I’ve just been doing the main workouts.  I keep meaning to do the supplemental glute workouts on off days but I forget.

I love, love, love this program.  It is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  It is all weight lifting.  No explicit cardio but I’m dripping sweat when I’m done.

I’m just starting my third month now.  I haven’t lost any weight but I have made strength gains.  There is a big emphasis on pull ups.  I use the machine in the gym that lets you offset your body weight on pull ups.  When I started I was only lifting 45 lbs for a few reps.  Now I’m doing 55 lbs for sets of 5.  It is still super wimpy but it is better.  I can see changes in my shoulder muscles.

The other nice thing about this is that it is planned with women in mind.  Most weightlifting plans have women as an afterthought.


The husband and I did the Biking Spree at our local MetroParks.  We had to ride 5 of the designated trails.  It is designed to get people out and exploring all the Parks.  These were all simple paved trails. It turned into a saga.  I bought a pretty pink bike.  Long painful story short – it was horrible. 

This was a bike that should have been bought by someone who rides only on level roads in Florida on the way to the library to get a basket full of books.  Despite having enough gears and only riding on fairly level ground, it was the hardest bike to ride I’ve ever met.  It would just stop if faced with a hill.  Not a mountain.  A long, slow incline was tough.  I’d be in first gear and pedaling for all I was worth and all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to move the pedals anymore.  I took it back to the store and am having them try to sell it.  If I wasn’t anti-littering I would have left it on the side of a trail.  At least I wouldn’t have had to push it while walking back to the car.

I realized that when I got rid of that bike that I only had one ride left to finish the program.  I took the husband’s bike out and did the longest ride I had done so far in program.  It was no problem at all.  That proved to me that it was the bike and not me that was making the rest of the rides so freaking miserable.


I’ve never been able to do arm balances in yoga.  Teachers are always like, “It isn’t about strength.  It is just balance.” while I crash on the floor.  

I signed up for access to a video series teaching handstands and arm balances. There is a series of daily short practices to build skill.  I failed video number 3. I need to work on my skill in that one before moving on.  I know I have the strength to hold handstands against a wall once I get into them.  Getting upside down is hard for me.  This video series also works on fear of falling and fear of getting upside down.  We’ll see how I am able to progress.

07 Aug, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

 Finished This Week

The last three are for Women in Translation month.

 

What Am I Reading?

I have all the books out of the library.  Seriously, there is nothing left in the library. 

I have stacks of graphic novels for Women in Translation month.  I have other books that have shown up because it was finally my turn.  I have the translated books on my reader I was already planning on reading.

What do I have real or virtual bookmarks in right now?

 

What Am I Listening To?

 

 

 

 

 


 

 36267859641_2c88068a1f_o

The books I’ve read could fit in all kinds of places. The red dots are The Cost of Sugar and the blue are The Unbroken Line of the Moon and the grey dots are Bride’s Story.  I’ll have to see what else fits into to see if I’m ever able to make a bingo.

UA-56222504-1