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I finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain this week while I was not-busy being sick.

The premise of the book is the story is told from the point-of-view of a dog. Enzo is an unusual dog in many ways, but is still limited by the fact that he’s a dog. While the story isn’t particularly unusual, the way the story was told was quite unique and interesting. I found it hard to put the book down.

Two paws up.

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While waiting for the train last week, I was able to read Mary Poppins. Yes, it was a book way before Disney ever made it into a movie. The book is quite a bit different than the movie although all the same characters pop up. What I found most interesting was Mary Poppins being portrayed as a cranky, vain woman.

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I’ve long wanted to read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. When I found it on my library’s shelves, I had to check it out even though it’s not one of the books I originally chose for the 52 books challenge. This was an incredibly strange and fascinating book. I can’t really say much more about without giving anything away. But I do recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

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Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is an autobiographical novel of the writer’s life. This was one of those gem’s that I’m surprised I’ve missed reading for so long. Despite the time period she lived in, this book really is timeless. I’d imagine lots of people could identify with that feeling of hopelessness and inertia that Esther experiences. Maybe even more so these days. Another book that I’d recommend although it’s more of a read for women.

I’m now onto The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Seventh Well (which is another not on the original list.) It’s supposed to be cold this weekend and I’ve got some things to do around the apartment, so it may be a good weekend to spend time curled up with a good book.

There are a couple of things I’m excited about and looking forward to.

The first is just a day (not even that) away. Tomorrow afternoon I travel to Kansas to see DH and the dogs. It’s been a couple of weeks since seeing DH, but the dogs I’ve not seen since moving to IL. Anticipating all the cuddles, snuggles, and dog breath kisses.

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The second thing is six weeks away. There is a fiber weekend in Milwaukee at the end of February. I’ve already paid my registration and signed up for a class and a make-and-take. Make-and-takes are super short (20 min.) workshops where you quickly learn a technique, make something, and take it away. I signed up for one to learn how to pick up a loop below. I’ll show pictures after the weekend. The class I signed up for will teach me how to knit a top down sweater. While we’ll learn to knit a sweater for an American Girl, the sweater pattern is supposed to work for any size. Top-down sweaters are great because you can decide how long or short to make it while you knit. And with a basic shape, it can be personalized by using different stitches, color variations, yarns, etc. In addition to that, there will be a small marketplace with vendors, a pajama party, a place to knit on prayer shawls, music, and yarn. Did I mention there will be yarn? Yes, there will be yarn.

The last thing I’m jazzed about it the class I’m going to take this spring. No, it’s not for the second masters. I’m holding off on that, possibly until next fall or even spring 2010. There are going to be some changes next fall as we move the household up to IL and trying to study and complete projects while that is happening might make life more complicated than I can adequately deal with. I’m taking a photography class. The college waives tuition on classes for employees and their family members. So, I’m going to take advantage and try something I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t know that I have much of an eye for this, but maybe I can learn some things and improve my picture-taking. And I’ll get to learn how to develop film. Yay!

Other than that, things are ticking along. It’s cold here, like most of the midwest and northeast. I’ve been hitching a ride with a co-worker this week and am looking forward to having wheels of my own again. Trying to think of something really nice to do for her. She’s saved me a load of money and trouble this week. I haven’t done much in the way of creative cooking this week and have just relied on the staples that I usually have around. I’m still knitting the hanging towels, although I’m looking for something new to work on. Just haven’t settled on anything yet. I’ve finished a couple of books this week and moving on to Slaughterhouse Five. It’s not on my list of 52 books, but I’ve always wanted to read it and I can change my list.

Also looking forward to seeing my dad tomorrow. He’s coming over to drive me to the train station. While we won’t be together long, it’ll be nice to see him again.

Don’t know if I’ll write much this weekend, but will update you when I get back.

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The second book I’ve finished for the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge is the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is another YA book, so it was a quick read. I enjoyed every page of this book.

Sure there were some incredibly sad parts in this boy’s life, but in general, he handles all the challenges with tenacity and a certain grace. Plus, he’s got a great sense of humor about the world around him and himself. It’s an attitude that keeps him going and makes the reader like and admire him.

I’d give this book a high recommendation. You’ll laugh, maybe cry a small bit, and come away having gained something.

52 Books

Posted on: January 1, 2009

I’ve joined a reading challenge group on Ravelry. The idea is to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Hopefully this will encourage me to turn off the tv a few nights a week. Since moving to IL, I’ve been watching far more than I have in several months.

Here’s my to-read list: (of course, it’s subject to change as new books are released throughout the year)

1. Lolita
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
4. Shadow Country
5. Home
6. The Graveyard Book
7. A Prayer for Owen Meany
8. The Hour I First Believed
9. Oryx and Crake
10. Twelve Angry Men
11. Bridge of Sighs
12. Suite Française
13. Song Yet Sung
14. On the Road
15. Anathem
16. What Makes a Child Lucky
17. The Postman Always Rings Twice
18. The Devil and Miss Prym
19. March
20. Einstein’s Dreams
21. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
22. Eventide
23. Paco’s Story
24. Daughters of the North
25. Winged Creatures
26. The Children of Hurin
27. Rising from the Plains
28. Aquamarine
29. The Kommandant’s Girl
30. The Bell Jar
31. Mary Poppins
32. A Great and Terrible Beauty
33. The News from Paraguay
34. A Voyage Long and Strang
35. Travels with Charley
36. The Children of Men
37. The Toynbee Convector
38. Made in the U.S.A.
39. The Story of a Marriage
40. Dear American Airlines
41. Giants in the Earth
42. I Am Legend
43. Never Let Me Go
44. The Somnambulist
45. The Art of Racing in the Rain
46. The Bookseller of Kabul
47. The Girl With No Shadow
48. A Confederacy of Dunces
49. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
50. The Last Imaginary Place
51. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
52. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

These are all books that are already on my Goodreads TBR list. I own a few of them already and it’ll be nice to get them down off the shelf. There is a sprinkling of non-fiction and award winners in there also, but I really just picked things that appealed to me.

It’s a cold day here. The actual temperatures are in the teens, which isn’t all that bad, but the windchill makes it much colder. Still I did go out to run a couple of errands and go to the laundromat. There is more snow in the forecast for the next two days.

When I got home, I made three cheese pasta for dinner and cooked up some chili for lunch this week. We’ve got a microwave and little fridge in the library’s back room. That’s where the LRC staff eat on our breaks. We also have our own coffee pot back in that area, so I’m able to get my daily caffeine fix.

I finished reading Stephen King’s newest collection of short stories. If you haven’t bought it (and were planning to do so), I’d wait until it comes out in paperback or check it out from your local library. I think King should stick to full-length novels. These stories were generally awkward, high-schoolish and not equal to his earlier collections. Not worth the money if you’re not a big fan or someone who collects his books (which I do, so I will keep this book anyway.)

Unfortunately, I’ve not been reading much. Having cable again has been bad for me. I need to exercise some discipline again and turn off the tv a couple nights a week. Between the tv and Friendfeed, I’ve not been reading or knitting much…although I’ve got my evenings back again. I did start knitting my snowman and would like to have it finished before Christmas.

It’s amazing how a cute outfit can make you feel good. I recently got a dark brown pencil skirt from Avenue. (Let me just say that I love Avenue. At least the online store.) Add a denim swing jacket with a floral tank underneath and my purple suede wedges and I feel stylish and sassy. The only bad thing is the pachyderm ankles due to hose. While most women have eliminated pantyhose out of their wardrobe, with my scarred up, dry skin legs, I really need to wear something when I’m wearing a skirt or dress. As the temps cool more, I’ll switch over to tights.

And the weather is cooling some here this week. The temperature on the computer says 61 degrees. I’m able to sleep with my window open a small bit which makes for better sleep for me. Don’t know why it is, but fresh air seems to help. My landlord came in sometime last week to turn the heat on, but it’s not running much because it’s really not that cold outside yet. We might get some rain tomorrow. I like rainy fall days. Perfect for sweaters, hot tea, and soup. And of course, knitting.

On the knitting front, I seem to have many WIP’s and not much FO’s floating around. I’m almost done with my second pair of socks. I’m almost done with my string market bag. I’m almost done with my pumpkin. I’m almost done with my vest. One of my 101 things was to finish a knitting project each month. Since I knit fast (when I’ve got uninterrupted time) this isn’t usually a problem and I’ve been doing well with this goal. But I got a bad case of startitis recently. Now I’ve just got to get the finishitis bug and get some things off the needles.

I finished reading The Historian this weekend. It was a really good book and held my interest. In fact, I was almost late to work Saturday because I was trying to finish the last couple of chapters as I ate my breakfast. A very different take on Dracula’s story. Less about Dracula and more about how the fascination in the vampire affected the lives of the characters. Throw in a mystery and a couple of doomed love stories and you get a fascinating read.

I recently got a $50 gift card for completing an online health survey for my work insurance. It was a pretty simple survey and there were some good suggestions for health improvements at the end of it. And a $50 gift card, did I mention? I got to choose the store. Of course I went with a bookstore, Barnes and Noble. Today I picked out my goodies and am pleased with my haul. I pre-ordered Stephen King’s new collection of short stories. Looking forward to that. I’m also getting a new box calendar for my desk at work. Knitting related of course. Someone reminded me of the knitting cartoon book. And there had to be some music in the order as well. It’s like Christmas in October.

On the job search front, I’ve got a phone interview next week for another possibility. The job is here in KS though. But I’d like to talk to them to find out more and see if it would be a good fit. In many ways I’m still torn about looking for a job. There are many reasons for leaving, but a few good reasons for staying put. If anything, it’s making me fairly cautious about what I’m looking at and where. I won’t be rushing into a new situation without careful thought and thorough research. In the meantime, I do have some interesting projects I’m working on. (Which is part of the reason I’m reluctant to leave. If I could basically be left to do my work, I’d be happy as a clam.) Something that just came up is doing SWARM International tours again for spring semester. I really enjoyed working on this before the fall semester started and now that I know how it worked, I’m ready to tackle it again. And I’m confident that I’ll be able to easily meet my tenure requirements as there have been some very positive developments on that front. It was a struggle, but I think we’re in a better place with how the process should work and how to interpret the requirements for librarians. Still…

I couldn’t wait to start assembling the Halloween goody bags for the student workers. It’s just too much fun. I’ve found little Halloween decorated cans of pop, Halloween stickers, tattoos, play-doh, pencils, and mini flashlights. All I need now is some candy and the bags will be ready to go. I’ve got to get candy to hand out at home this year. It’s the first time in years that I’ll be home to hand out candy. I enjoy seeing the costumes and hearing “trick or treat”. Since I’ve got Halloween on the brain, I’ll leave you with a Halloweenie picture:

On reading

Posted on: October 12, 2008

Maybe it’s the time of year, but I’m reading more again. Last night after work, I turned on the iPod, made some dinner, and sat down with The Historian. I started reading this a year ago and wasn’t that interested. It happens. So it went back on the shelf and I moved on to other things. Last week I thought I’d try it again. I’m hooked. It’s hard to put it down even when I know I need some sleep.

Books have had that allure for me for a long time. Ever since I can remember. There was a question on Friendfeed about the book that started your love of reading. I really can’t remember which one it might have been for me. I do remember loving the Anne of Green Gables books as a child. Even as an adult, I’ve searched out other Lucy Maude Montgomery books because of my early delight in her writing.

My mom was instrumental in turning me into a reader. There were always books available in the house. When we got our book order forms in grade school, she usually let me order whatever I wanted. The other kids laughed at me when I brought home a box of books when the order arrived, but I didn’t care. I was bringing home a box full of adventures, new friends, and interesting places to travel. How could you beat that?!

Like most readers, I have favorite genres, favorite authors, and favorite books. I don’t think you’ll find a prevalent theme because I have fairly eclectic tastes in books. But if I had to pick favorites, I like suspense and historical fiction. One of my current favorite authors is Paulo Coelho. One of my favorite books is The Little Prince. See what I’m saying. Eclectic.

The only problem with reading and books is that I won’t live long enough to read everything I want to. *laugh*

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Withdrawel

Posted on: October 5, 2008

I can tell it’s past time for my weekly recharge of DH and dogs. I had to work this weekend. Usually I’d take Thursday and Friday off, but I decided not to go back on Thursday since I had a meeting and was planning to attend a conference in Wichita on Friday. (I didn’t get to the conference since I ended up being sick with a migraine on Friday.) So, I’m overdue for some home time. DH is off tomorrow, so it’s a bonus! Maybe we’ll get some golf in if it doesn’t rain. If it does, we’re thinking about bowling instead. Then it’s back to work for two days and I’m off again on Thursday and Friday since I’ll be working next weekend again.

Got a rejection on a book proposal a colleague and I put together. It was for a book about distance education. Not too disappointed about it since it wasn’t directly related to librarianship. There will be other opportunities I’m sure. And according to those who matter, I’m doing fine with my tenure requirements and shouldn’t have any problems meeting them. (It’s almost review time for me already.)

Watched a few good movies this week; Mrs. Dalloway, The Fountain, and The Painted Veil. I can safely recommend any of them. The Fountain was a particularly beautiful and moving film. Mrs. Dalloway was nice although I imagine the book is richer. I should probably read it, but I’ve always had a hard time reading Virginia Woolf. I loved the scenery in The Painted Veil. The ending was very sad though. Our public library doesn’t have a huge selection of movies, but there are some very good choices. And I upgraded Netflix to get 3 at a time again. Not having a cable is fine with me.

At some point I need to update my books on the blog. There hasn’t been as much reading this month now that I’m busier with other things. I finally checked out The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. The one thing I’m having a problem with is dealing with the books descriptions of Sitka and my personal experience. It’s a very fictional Sitka and quite colorful. I have to keep reminding myself it’s fiction. *grin* Other than that, it’s okay. I’ve also been reading Light a Penny Candle. It took me a bit to get into this book, but now I’m finding it hard to put down.

And although I’m not knitting as much, I’m still knitting. We were digging around in the basement a couple weekends ago and I came across a project that I’d started over a year ago. I ended up having to frog it and start over, but now I’m almost done. It’s a string grocery bag. It should end up small enough (when not in use) to carry in my purse. I also offered to make some mitts for someone and am deciding which pattern to use. I’ll likely end up making myself another pair for work. And I have plans to cast on this week for a felt pumpkin now that I finally got the needles I needed. You’d think with all the knitting needles I have now I’d never need to buy another pair. *laugh* I also still need to finish my second pair of socks. I’ve turned the heel already and am ready to start working on the gusset. The weather is finally cooling off enough that I’ll be comfortable wearing wool socks soon. Yay!

I’ve been finding some good vegetarian recipes. This week I had a good dish made with spaghetti squash. I also tried a stuffed pepper recipe. It was pretty tasty with beans, corn, and tomatoes, but I think the next time I make it, I’ll just cut the peppers and saute them with the tomatoes and garlic and serve it with rice and shredded cheese. (I kind of ended up with something like that anyway.) A whole green pepper was just a bit much for me. Now I’m anxious to try some things with eggplant.

One amazing thing I’ve discovered since cutting out meat is that I can drink milk with no problems. Interesting! In general, I also feel healthier and have lost a few pounds. Nothing drastic, but it’s a start.

Little Bits

Posted on: October 1, 2008

I wrote my first book review for the local paper. It should be published Oct. 10. Yes, family types, I’ll get a couple of copies and send it along. It’s really not anything spectacular, but I enjoyed doing it. The hard part was deciding which book to review. I chose Augusten Burroughs latest book, A Wolf at the Table.

Currently I’m reading Kevin Brockmeier’s A View from the Seventh Layer. It’s a beautiful collection of short stories. There is even a choose-your-own-adventure story! I love his writing and am very impressed so far. Highly recommend you grab this at your local library.

So far this week, I’ve not watched any movies. Television isn’t really an option since I don’t have cable. I’m rediscovering how incredibly relaxing reading and listening to music can be.

I’m working on increasing my meditation to 3 hours a day. Means I do some over my lunch hour. Almost three weeks since the retreat and I’m noticing a difference in meditating in the real world with distractions and noise. But I will persevere because I also notice how I’m dealing with life in a more productive and peaceful way. That’s a huge thing for me!

And I’ve been doing the vegetarian thing for a month now. It’s hard to find good fresh produce (and a good selection of it) here in LittleUtown, but I’m determined to stick with it. Overall, I do feel healthier and am still able to get all the nutrients I need. I found a great cookbook at the public library and am looking forward to trying out different recipes. DH might even find that he likes the food. *grin* He’s been great about this change in lifestyle. Just means we have to eat veggie or cheese pizzas on the weekend instead.

Life will be a bit crazier for the next few weeks. I’m working the next three weekends and have a few workshops and conferences coming up. Seems like it comes in spurts.

And the weather is starting to cool off. Still in the 70’s this week, but it’s lower 70’s. Means I can wear light sweaters and jeans. I’m ready for 50’s.


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Mar. 10 - Photography Class

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Mar. 12 - Lincoln Reenactor performance at BHE

Mar. 13 - Annual budget due

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Mar. 16-18 - On the Front Lines library conference in Springfield

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Apr. 2 - Using Social Technologies in Library Instruction workshop

Apr. 6 - Weight Watchers

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Apr. 9-12 - In Kansas

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Apr. 12 - Easter

Apr. 13-19 - National Library Week

Apr. 13 - Weight Watchers

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Apr. 27 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 28 - Photography Class

Apr. 29 - Supervisor Training in Quad Cities

May 5 - Photography Class

May 12 - National Library Legislative Day

May 25 - Memorial Day - College Closed

June 4 - RSA Users' Group meeting in Peoria

June 6 - SIL's birthday June 6 - Brother and SIL Anniversary

June 8 - Nancy Pearl at Bradley University

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July 3 - Holiday - College Closed

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