Sunday, February 28, 2016

February books

And we're back, with another edition of Books I Read This Month, this month being a mere 29 days of reading, which is more than most Februaries, but still. Quite the stack this time, evidence I bit off more than I could chew, and a few doozies in the mix.

For the upcoming book club, we're reading Big Magic, which I covered in last month's post, but which I re-read this month in preparation. Must buy! ALSO, I've been re-reading a few Jan Karon novels, which are like a nice tea before bedtime. Now, to the new books:

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes: LOVE. Picked this on a recommendation. Might make sure you have the movie at the ready because you will want to watch it immediately after reading this and hearing Cary's voice in your head narrating all the nuances of making this classic film. And if you don't have the movie at hand (sigh), you'll be sad. Great stories about his own experience, and about those involved and those who have passed, including Andre the Giant. Fun notes from others in the film, including Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and Robin Wright and director Rob Reiner. A bit of a heartfelt tearjerker, with funny moments, drama and everything in-between. (Guess what's coming next from Netflix...)

Noah's Wife, by Lindsay Starck: Well, sorry for the spoiler alert - Alert! - but this is kind of a downer of a book. One of the reviews said it was written with "wit and creativity". I'm not sure which book that person read, but there is nary a wit in this tome. I think the thing it does shed some kind of light on is the decisions of a community and how they come to be. When you read the news, and you say, "how could that happen? How could that town have made that decision?", well, this book brings that conversation to the table. Did not anticipate the ending, so that was something, but also had to go watch a comedy directly after reading... not my idea of a good time in the booking world.

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank: I finished this and I didn't think I would. A little tough to keep up with - new chapter, new people? Okay. But you catch up and get the connection. A great read on the interactions, so often awkward, of families and couples and so on. Really enjoyed the ending, and the journey, which is basically a woman's experiences from teen to adult, almost as an observer in her own life, of how relationships work. Cool.

After Alice, by Gregory Maguire: Loved all the Wicked Witch books he wrote, although I read them a few years ago. Which is why I'm bummed that I'm having trouble sticking with this one. What it reminds me of most is Vanity Fair by William Makepiece Thackeray. Have you read that? It's like the one book I haven't finished because the most annoying narrator keeps interrupting for pages on end and by the time you get halfway through, you're like, "Will you SHUT UP so I can finish this godforsaken book already!" And that's kind of where I am with this book at page 100 and something. We'll see. Still trying.

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh: So awesome. Such a funny read and easy to pick up and start in the middle. Comics about her life growing up, stories about dealing with tough feelings and general hilarity illustrated by what looks like Microsoft Paint. If you've never been to her blog, I highly recommend it. Also, bonus - new book coming this year! Looking forward to Solutions and Other Problems.

Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits, by Gretchen Rubin: Used to read all her articles on, and thought I'd get to more of this, but super interesting - talks about people fall into four general categories - Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel - and the different challenges each type has making habits. Might be a buyer rather than a loaner book, honestly.

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee (not pictured): This was such a controversial book, and I hardly remember the original, although it came back while reading. It's one of those super '50s speak books, so there's definitely a lingo and cadence that's reflective of To Kill a Mockingbird. Was a challenge in parts to understand just what was happening - had to re-read a few times - but the end answered the questions I had in the middle. Interesting commentary on the growth of a child's mind and the changing relationship of parents with children as adults.

Other books I got from the library this time, and didn't read:

Fallen Land, by Taylor Brown: A story about an unlikely couple of teenagers surviving the Civil War, etc., and so on, and it seems fairly historically accurate, at least the part I've read through. Frankly, after some other stellar, depressing picks in the stack, I didn't have the stamina to get through this, although I'm sure it's lovely. Maybe next time!

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, by Nick Reding: Really wanted to read this, but have room in my brain for happy fiction only at the mo. So, have put this on The List, when I'm feeling interested in facts and such.

I Totally Meant to Do That, by Jane Borden: Couldn't quite stick with this one, although it might be a good summer read. A bit Janet Evanovich, but more in your face. Maybe next time!

More next month - happy reading!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Divina Dream Magic: Crystals

So, guess what? Today's blog post is not on this blog. It's over here, on Darla's Divina.tion blog! You might remember me mentioning Oracle and Divina, the book and journal she wrote, about a month back. I've been using the journal just about every night, and it's been fun to turn back and read about the dreams I've had...

So, when she asked me to do a guest post for her Divina Dream Magic blog about crystals, I was pretty excited! In addition to typewriters (that's a whole blog post in itself) I'm into collecting rocks, crystals, geodes, you name it, and I appreciate their many properties as well. If you head over to Divina, you can read all about them.

We'll be back here in about a week, with a shockingly large number of book reviews and more fun stuff, including seedling (!!) photos. See you next time!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Planting seeds

Well, we did it. We planted our seeds in our tiny seedling planters. Now, to wait.

You have to use a blend of peat moss and potting soils, or so I've been told, and this year, we bought them from our local Teske Pet & Garden center, where we go on weekends sometimes to look at aquarium fish and various doggie toys and bones.

The tomatoes are in, as are the peppers and kale. That whole stack of stuff, really. And it doesn't look like much now, but I have visions of jars and jars of salsa... Soon!

A couple fun things coming up before the end of the month, including a surprise post and February books! Stay tuned...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sowing seeds

Well, we've received all the seeds. And I mean, All the Seeds.

We upped our garden game (which, as ever, is dubious at best) because we now have access to More Land Area. The handkerchief, postage-stamp size garden is expanding, hours away, into farmland territory, where it will be subjected to multiple hours of sunshine, actual wind and deer. And God knows what else.

The seed people must have been shocked. "What the hell are these guys doing?" they muttered. "This is twice the usual order! It was already ridiculous." And so on.

Thus, the stacks of packets. And potatoes yet to come - two kinds. We bought the seed trays yesterday and the peat moss and potting soil and I have yet to unearth the wooden markers, but it's on the list. And so we'll see what comes up.

(To be honest, the best part about getting seeds is reading the names. Who thinks up this stuff?)

Seeds we plan to start indoors include:

Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Tomatoes - including Amish Paste, Dester (a pink beefsteak tomato), German Pink and Sheboygan (good for canning, it says)
Peppers - King of the North and Sheepnose Pimento
De Cicco Broccoli
Herbs, including Cumin, Green Culinary Sage and English Lavender

We also have the following laying in wait until Spring:

Cilantro (a fool's errand as it always dies, but whatever)
Japaneses Climbing cucumbers
Chioggia beets (red and white striped!!)
Red Cored Chantenay carrots
Beans - Red Swan and Kentucky Wonder Bush
Apollo arugula
Waltham Butternut squash
Purple Top White Globe turnips (which grow fabulously in the postage-stamp - those will stay here)
Rouge Vif d'Etampes squash
Black Beauty zucchini
America spinach
Amish Snap pea
and finally, Pride of Wisconsin melons

So, there you have it - proof that we are certifiably insane.

We're also brainstorming lighting options for these guys as that was an issue last year.

And to be honest, we're aware this entire enterprise could go belly-up, and we'll be buying plants from the farmer's market from people who do this better. But c'est la vie. We are planting, dammit, right in the middle of winter. Hope spring eternal, or at least until March. Will keep you updated.