Tuesday, July 12, 2016

June books

Phew, that was a hot one! Not in books, exactly, just the weather. Really glad for the 70s and 80s of the past week. We had a busy month - lots of trips to see family! Training for the Bix 7-mi. road race has kicked into high gear, so there's lots of ibuprofen being consumed, and we're heading out soon for more Gardening on the Farm, which I will try to take photos of this time. In the meantime, our local garden is buried in weeds. Too bad you can't make salsa out of those.

All that, but we still had a big stack this time. This one required extensions at the library, including a third week on guess which book (sigh) that I'm sure was a gift from the nice library women. There were some good ones and some others that tested my endurance. A mix for June.

Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough, by The Smart Cookies and Jennifer Barrett: So, I picked this up because I signed up for the Live More Weigh Less challenge, and then the owner of that, Sarah Jenks (who's a genius) did a video with Sandra Hanna, who runs the Smart Cookies site, and anyway, rabbit hole later, I got the book. The book did sort of lay out some foundations, but I like the website better. The videos are great - I saw some preview to her program, and basically that alone saved me something like $200 because I called the bank and got a lower rate on my credit card. Sandra is indeed a smart cookie and I may yet sign up for her deal. We'll see.

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, by (guess who) Neil Patrick Harris: This is the best book. So sorry I finished it. I kept going back to see if I'd missed anything. The format? Genius. The stories? Poignant and told so well that you forget it's a famous person telling it. The stories? Awesome, both the real and not-real ones. Did you catch that? He mixes in some doozies. Also, it's a great thing to read something by somebody who truly loves the people in his life. So much love. All good things here.

Maeve's Times: In her own words, by Maeve Binchy and Gordon Snell: This is a collection of columns and observations on the daily grind, which were published in The Irish Times, where Binchy worked for several years. Just read a particularly hilarious memoir of a forgettable ski trip that turned out fabulous, and there is more in there just like that. If you've read any of her books - Quentins, particularly - you'll enjoy this read. (If you haven't read Quentins, what are you doing with your life? Go get it immediately! If that is too much, at least watch Circle of Friends.)

A Clatter of Jars, by Lisa Graff: Primarily a young adult novel apparently, this was kind of an interesting read. Really neat concept of talents, or Talents, being something bestowed on people, and kept in jars, and the ensuing mess of summer camp amid the Talent trade. A neat book about telling the truth, friendship and family, really.

Didn't finish:

Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay: Some really good points on what the heck we read and why we're drawn to books and stories that don't necessarily help the womanhood all that much (looking at you, 50 Shades). She also goes through a bit of what feminist used to mean, and how it's being defined now. This is a key book, I would think, for anyone who is studying the subject, and also who can concentrate longer than I, because ... I didn't finish it. Bad feminist.

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking, by Olivia Laing: Got through a part about Raymond Carver and John Cheever drinking in Iowa, and the general premise, which is that many famous writers are connected, and that one of those connections is alcohol, and almost as I was reading I closed the book, and I haven't been back since. Maybe this is a book for winter?

One Wild Bird at a Time, by Bernd Heinrich: Yes, still reading from last month. Got an extension. Didn't finish. Don't even start - it's a vortex, man. I may have to buy this one, or I'll be out of quarters for late fees. Birds. Unbelievable.

That's this month. Coming up, there will be a Kindle books post, as I find when I've abandoned my usual stack, it's because I've taken up my on-again, off-again affair with the Kindle. Also, more on the road trip! Click on for Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

California to Iowa, Part 3

Well, we drove out of Zion National Park, and decided - we want more! - so off we went to Bryce Canyon National Park because why not. Turns out it was right down the road, and even more beautiful, if more packed with tourists.

But the red rocks are gorgeous.

There are several pocket trails if you're into that, and also if you're not trying to drive across country and get back home in a reasonable amount of days.

Some folks are more adventurous than others.

From there, the land began to come down from its height, into the lowlands and desert. 

We saw the strangest things. This sign that said no services for 100 miles, lovingly set off by the "No Bull" header. Cars off the road at random. People walking. (From where?) The solar panels in a field. Like, huge ones. And then, finally we drove north, because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And we landed in Colorado in great weather, which turned cloudy, then gray, and then slightly worse than bad. Long story short, we got stranded in Vail. Because of this.

Might not look like much, but it was enough to close Vail Pass. We ended up overnight at a great place, considering we found it in a snow storm - the Christie Lodge. They were super nice, and had a fabulous Thai restaurant and bar on site - bonus! The next morning, I woke up to check the roads. Turned out Vail Pass was open. We got ready in a record-breaking 15 minutes, and white-knuckled it through the pass, side-eyeing the trucks putting on chains and trying not to think about our California tires, getting to Golden about two hours later, exhausted. From there, let's just say our patience wore thin with the trip. We barreled home through the rest of Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa, chasing trains and eating the best fast food we could come up with on the way,
including Zombie Burger in Des Moines.

At last, we made it home. The next day we picked up the dogs. Who licked us, and then promptly fell asleep.

The End.