Monday, September 29, 2014

Little House in the Park

My local borough library is quite small, but some really good things come in small packages. I can walk there, they entertained my kids with countless story times and craft projects, and they have a lovely fireplace with a real fire on cold winter days. The well-worn leather armchairs are a perfect spot for reading. They also have some devoted volunteers, like this wonderful and thoughtful gentleman. He built three "Little Libraries" and two of them were installed this summer. While knitting on the porch this weekend, I was incredibly excited to look across the street to the borough park and spy the third one, my very own Little Library!


I know it's not really mine, but it is just across the street, and I've already left four books in it and taken one. Book Bingo showed me that I need to keep my reading fun and not settle into a rut, and I think my Little Library will help me to do that.
 

There is something captivating about a tiny house, but a little house filled with books is priceless!





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - The "Just Give Me 4 Wheels" Edition

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Cars I Have Had, but I could only come up with six. I want a vehicle that will safely and reliably get me from Point A to Point B, so I buy used vehicles and drive them until they die.

1. I learned to drive in my parent's 1978 Jeepster Commando. I loved that car and might still be driving it today if it had actually been mine.


2. The first car I actually owned was a 1970 Datsun 1200, after handing over a hard-earned $500. It suffered a tragic untimely death when it rolled down my parent's steep driveway into a tree after the parking brake failed.


3. The first and only new car I bought was a 1979 Datsun B210. There were so many things wrong with it that it felt like all I did was work to pay for repairs and sit in the shop waiting with my car. I haven't bought a new car since then.

4. A 1993 Ford Aerostar van was my boxy Mom car. It definitely didn't look cool, but it held car seats and kids. I always wanted to paint flames on the sides, but alas, I never did.


5. Next was the 2005 Mercury Mountaineer. I bought this mainly because I was tired of car shopping. I was glad to get rid of it after having a new dashboard warning light flash at me every month.

6. My current car is a 2012 Subaru Forester. It's nearly perfect for me, with very few bells and whistles. I wish it was parked in front of this lovely mountain view instead of in my garage!



Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Bingo - The Completely Covered Edition

With many thanks to Mary and Books on the Nightstand, I had a terrific summer reading experience! I was a little hesitant to commit initially, but decided to live on the wild side and give Book Bingo a try. Once I started, I didn't want to stop, and ended up completely covering my bingo sheet. I'm not sure if that counts as five, seven, ten, or twelve bingos, but the real reward was the reading!


In case you can't read my scribbles, here are the books I read and the squares they covered:
  • A Visitor for Bear, A Birthday for Bear, Sniffles for Bear, and Just a Minute - An author who shares your first name. These are easy reader and picture books, but I was so thrilled to find an author that shared both my first and last name that I read everything our local library had and counted them as one square.
  • Hot Zone - Nonfiction
  • The Black Hour - Published in 2014
  • Fangirl - That you saw someone else reading
  • The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency - Cozy Mystery
  • The Secret History - That everyone but you has read
  • Remember Me Like This - Borrowed from the library
  • Attachments - With a one-word title
  • Calling Invisible Women - With a red cover
  • The Good Girl - With a child on the cover
  • The Thirteenth Child - Fantasy
  • We Were Liars - Young adult novel
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon - An audiobook
  • Flowers for Algernon - Published before 1970
  • Everything I Never Told You - Thriller/Suspense
  • Perfect - That you chose because of the cover
  • The Grasshopper King - With an animal on the cover
  • All the Light We Cannot See -  Longer than 500 pages
  • Wave - Biography or memoir
  • The One Plus One - With a number in the title
  • A Thousand Mornings - Poetry collection
  • The Silkworm - Currently on the bestseller list
  • How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking - Six words or more in the title
  • Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories - Reread something 

Three of these were 5 star books; eight of them earned 4 stars; fourteen garnered 3 stars, and there were only two that were a slightly disappointing 2 stars for me. If you're interested, there are more details here on my Book Bingo Goodreads shelf.

I was in a reading rut, reading a lot of the same type of literary fiction, so I'm really grateful for the refreshing change that Book Bingo provided. I was able to branch out, try new genres, and surprise myself a bit. Usually I read reviews and consider books carefully before I start, but Book Bingo helped me return to some real fun in reading. In a happy coincidence, my tiny local library began offering books through Overdrive this summer, and it was a real pleasure to choose audiobooks and ebooks that way. I found my favorite summer book, Wave, via Overdrive, and am very thankful that I had the chance to read this stunning book. I loved Book Bingo and will look forward to doing it again next summer!

 Entrance to Denver Public Library

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Staying Power



This week's Ten on Tuesday is a topic near and dear to my heart - 10 Books That Have Stayed With You Long After You've Read Them.  Even as an avid reader I'm not sure that my list will have ten books on it, but let's see...

1.  Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
The author tells of her life after the loss of her two sons, husband, and parents in the 2004 tsunami. Loss is a personal and often private thing, but this book provides one of the best narratives of grief I've ever read. I read this book only three weeks ago, but I've thought about it many times since then and I know it will stay with me for years. 

2.  A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
One of my absolute favorite, must-read, most interesting books of all time. I read it 10 years ago, and even though it's not really short, I've reread it several times since, and gained something more every time. 

3.  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher 
I'll always remember the feeling that I had when I first read this book. I wanted to live like Penelope, the main character. I loved the extended family with all their accepted imperfections and the cozy, domestic descriptions. I read this almost 25 years ago and it has stayed with me throughout all those years.

4.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 
Back in 1997, I was incredibly lucky to have a wonderful independent bookstore within walking distance. Larry, the owner, knew my reading tastes really well, and he put this book in my hands and told me I must read it. He was right, and once I had read it, I couldn't wait for the rest of the story. The first three books were published in the UK first, with a six month delay before they were published in the US, so Larry ordered CoS and PoA for me from the UK because I simply couldn't wait.

5.  'Salem's Lot by Stephen King 
I read this in 1983, but made the terrible mistake of reading it when I was home alone. By 1:00 a.m. I had tried closing all the drapes, turning on every light in the apartment, wrapping the book in an afghan and putting it in the cupboard (with some garlic!), all in a feeble attempt to stop myself from being absolutely terrified. I finally called my sister at 2:00 a.m., figuring that when the vampires came for me, at least she would know what had happened. Rationally, I knew that this was completely ridiculous, but that didn't keep me from feeling terror-stricken. I've been afraid to reread it, but it has certainly stayed with me for 31 years!

6.  The Drifters by James Michener
This book has stayed with me because it was one of the first "grown-up" books I read and got completely immersed in. I loved it, wanted to live it, and was able to get James Michener to sign my cherished copy in 1974. I'm picking up Centennial from the library this morning and I hope it stays with me as intensely as The Drifters has. 

  
7.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova
This beautifully written book about early-onset Alzheimer's opened my eyes. The author's biologic, neurologic, and pharmacologic descriptions are excellent, but she manages to add the even more important emotional component. This book gave me new insight and appreciation concerning dementia that I wish I had had when my mother was suffering from metastasis-induced dementia.

8.  Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I read these books often when I was growing up, and enjoyed rereading them during early morning nursing sessions with my sons. They were perfect when I was a child, and have stayed with me because now I can appreciate them from Pa and Ma Ingalls' viewpoints. I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of Pioneer Girl in November.

9.  Early Candlelight Stories by Stella C. Shetter
This book has stayed with me, literally and figuratively, longer than any other; my copy has a copyright of 1926. It's a series of stories that a visiting grandmother tells to her grandchildren about her adventures growing up. These include getting in trouble because she whistled in church, sugaring, being chased by wolves, and her first yellow gown. I remember my grandmother reading these stories to me from when I was five or six and for many years after that. My grandmother gave me her copy and I treasure it.


10. Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin 
These food memoirs are the best I've ever read and the first to show me that cooking wasn't just about following recipes in a cookbook. They've stayed with me for over 20 years because they are poignant, funny, full of good food, and love.

It's interesting for me to think about why these books have stayed with me and there are a variety of reasons. Some of them are really well-written, some taught me things and made me think, and some evoked emotions, shared experiences, and people important to me. I can't wait to read everyone else's lists!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thermogenesis on Thursday

There are going to be a bunch of babies joining my family this fall, so I decided I had better get busy with baby knitting. My idea was to start with the most time-consuming project (a blanket) first so the others would seem like a piece of cake. This strategy gave me plenty of time to figure out what kind of baby blanket I wanted to make, buy yarn, waste hours on trying to crochet a ripple blanket, rip it out four or five times, surrender and fall back on my default feather and fan knitting pattern, return previous yarn, buy new yarn, and finally make a productive start. Our weather this week has me rethinking this idea.


Heat and humidity is my least favorite combination, and while 137 degrees may seem a bit extreme, I think it feels more like 173 with the growing blanket on my lap and legs.


I wonder if the babies would enjoy something knit with linen? I would surely enjoy knitting with it more this week!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

B-I-N-G-O!

With many thanks to Mary and her Summer Book Bingo idea, I've branched out in my reading this summer. Maybe only a bit, but it has been quite freeing to not fuss so much about whether a book was going to be good or not before I started it, but rather just jump in and start reading something that would fill a square on my card. I really am gaining a new appreciation for a variety of books instead of  always relying on my standby fiction, and have put some engaging and thoughtful books on my book bingo shelf.

Originally I had planned to read enough for a bingo or two, but decided to throw caution to the wind and try to cover my card. I have been looking at my card while choosing books this summer, mentally filling in squares, but I sat down today and started actually filling in squares. I probably should have done this a few weeks ago, but if I keep reading, I think I can get all my squares covered by Sept. 1, especially now that I just put that in writing!


I have to finish three books in just a little over two weeks, which I think is doable. I've read some great books, some less than great books, and discovered some interesting things, which I'll recap when I finish. Must get back to reading!

I was much too excited when I found these at the library!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Trial

I've been to Fort Collins three times so far, and during the first two visits I passed this very interesting-looking sight many, many times. There was always something else to do (find Oldest Son a place to live) or somewhere else to be (a brewery, great restaurant, or The Loopy Ewe) but during my most recent visit in June, I made time to stop and smell the roses (okay, the verbena and petunias).



  
The Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Garden is an amazing concept and an amazing place. Different annual plant cultivars are planted in huge pots and beds so their performance can be evaluated in the Rocky Mountain growing conditions. It's a beautiful sight, but it's also a place that benefits students, professionals, gardeners, and anyone with an interest in flowers. The plants are judged in August for "vigor, uniformity, floriferousness and tolerance to environmental and biotic stresses" with the results published on the web site. What a wonderful resource for anyone interested in growing flowers in Colorado! We don't have anything nearly this extensive in New Jersey (Rutgers has display gardens but only a 30 specimen hydrangea trial), so I'm quite jealous and hope Coloradoans appreciate their CSU Trial Garden!



They were still planting when I visited in June, but I spent several enjoyable hours browsing the rows. I would love to see what it looks like now so maybe I can convince Oldest Son to take a photo or two. He's lucky enough to pass this great place twice a day on his way to and from school! Since taking pictures of flowers isn't at the top of his list, maybe Patty can take a few during her visit in September.



I love this beautiful place, and if I'm ever lucky enough to garden in Colorado, I know I'll love it even more!