Dec 31, 2011

Perfect forethought and timing

What Narcissism Means to Me caught me with the title.  It's funny and clever and has the occasional line that punches you in the gut - exactly what I want out of poetry. 

This one is a good example, borrowed from here where you can read more excerpts,:


Like in the Chinese restaurant, it is
the perfect forethought and timing with which
the slices of orange arrive
on a small plate with the bill.

So, while you are paying what is owed,
The sweet juice fills your mouth for free.

And the fortune cookie too
which offers you the pleasure of Breakage
and then the other pleasure of Discovery,

extracting and reading the little slip of paper
with a happiness that you maybe conceal,
the way the child you once were
is even now concealed inside you.

Maybe you will marry a red-haired woman.
Maybe you are going to take a long journey.
Maybe a red-haired woman will steal your car and take a long journey.
Maybe you will be buried next to your mother.

And when the people you are dining with
smile and read their fortunes out loud,
and ask you to tell them your own,
you smile and tell them a lie,

and they laugh and think you are weird and funny and sad
and you know that you
are all of those things,

but you don’t tell them the truth
because you don’t trust anyone,
and you never have:
that is your fortune.

Dec 30, 2011


I Married You for Happiness is a slim little heartbreak of a novel. It begins with a wife finding her husband dead in their bedroom.  The story follows her staying with him all night until she can call the coroner in the morning.  As she tries to get through the evening, she remembers their relationship.

I appreciated that their marriage was a complex one and the story avoided treacliness.   It's stark and honest and it'll make you want to hold onto your loved ones.

Dec 29, 2011

Hard to watch

A Certain Kind of Death is a documentary that was so interesting and so fricking hard to watch.  It tells the story of how bodies are dealt with when no next of kin are known.  It was a fascinating look into how lives are investigated and how the vestiges of live are dealt with.  The hard part?  It's graphic - they show many bodies and loads of them are in awful, gag-inducing shape.  Maybe I shold have just listened to it.  8/10.

Dec 19, 2011


Panic in Level Four is a collection of science articles that run the range from the ebola virus to the number pi to ancient tapestries.  It's a strange assortment buut they all seem to mesh together - much like when you're a strung out exhausted senior and your socialism papers start referencing critical theory books and vice versa.  (That's happened to everyone, right?)

It was a whirlwind tour through some very interesting stories.  I will definitely be reading Preston's book on ebola.  I like his writing style.  7/10

Dec 16, 2011

Very persistant

What an odd and wonderful tale!  The Very Persistant Gappers of Frip is a enjoyable fable that's on the right side of bizarre.  The illustrations are extra awesome - I am particularly fond of those goats.  7/10.

Dec 15, 2011


Black Hole is unique.  It's a graphic novel about teens in an alternate 1980's.  In this world there's an STD that turns the affected teens into disfigured mutant type creatures.  What I liked was that the story wasn't epic and apocalyptic.  It was much smaller - about unrequited love, being an outcast, and consequences .  6/10.

Salty sweet

Baking these cookies for a cookie exchange at work tomorrow. Mmmmmm

Dec 12, 2011


Lovely Clusters is a dreamy inspiration board.

Nov 26, 2011


This was so well done - The Song of Lunch, a short piece streaming from NPR.  Part of its masterpiece modern collection.

Nov 10, 2011


I totally get this!  Not incapacitated, but I get completely irritable & twitchy at these kind of noises.  I've been caught not-so-subtly plugging my ears at the dinner table.  I guess its nice to know that I'm not a total weirdo.

Nov 7, 2011

Making due

You Know When the Men Are Gone is a collection of short stories that deals with military families.  It's so good!  The author explores the experience of deployed soldiers, families making due living on a military base with family members gone for months at a time, and the drama created by these situations.  I loved the balance of the stories; the tales felt well-rounded.  The author has a good way with words. 6/10.

Nov 6, 2011

No banging over the head

Jellicoe Road is one of the best YA books I've read in a long time.  The author has a great ability to write multi-dimensional characters.  She hits some hard topics in really subtle ways.  There's no banging the reader over the head.

The novel follows two sets of teenagers - set a generation apart.  Both stories intertwine round a game the first set creates - a war between the boarding school kids, the townies, and the visiting military academy students. 

The characters deal with some heavy heavy issues, but the book is also full of joy and friendship.  I love a book that makes me laugh and cry.  9/10

Oct 25, 2011

Appropriate for today


I adore this big whale cut out from SlippinSouthern.  They have some fantastic arrow ones as well.

Oct 24, 2011


Sum is a slim little collection of short stories about afterlives.  Really short - usually two pages.  It's a gorgeous explanation of different explanations of possible afterlives - some beautiful, some ironic, some incredibly poignant.  It was a wonderful little book to dip in and out of.

Also - how many books have cover blurbs by both Phillip Pullman and Brian Greene?

Oct 23, 2011


The last few weekends have been lovely.  And we've been doing our best to get out and enjoy them.

For our anniversary, we tromped all over Old Man's Cave (maybe a 6 mile hike through the center bit and then all around the outer trail.)  I hurt for days!

Yesterday, we made it to Moonville.  It's an old train tunnel and former village. The tunnel was amazing and the woods were unbelievably pretty.

Made me laugh

Oct 20, 2011

My name?

Oct 17, 2011


We currently have a plastic stand for our dogs' food.  It gets super grimy and has loads of chew marks all over it.  I hate it.  This stand may be just what I was looking for.

If we have to

Love her voice.

Oct 16, 2011

The summer

Oct 15, 2011

Lovely dream

The Night Circus has gotten a shit ton of hype.  Generally, I'm not susceptible, but the subject matter grabbed me.  A circus that suddenly appears in a small town?  One that opens only at dusk and closes at dawn?  Sold!

And the book is good.  It may not be the most excellent thing you've read ever.  But it definitely is a great place to spend some time.  The circus itself was my favorite character - so full of wonder.  I loved the variety of tents that were described and could totally spend more time in them in my dreams.  The story was good too - although I thought that the ending was a bit rushed.  Still, it was a lovely dream of a read.  8/10.


Marwencol is such a fantastic documentary.  The subject matter is fascinating and the director lets the story unroll with no artifice.  It follows a man suffering from a brain injury who builds an elaborate miniature WWII town full of characters and stories.  I was completely entranced.  It's a story of resilience and art in the face of tragedy.

Oct 14, 2011


On the excellent podcast Filmspotting, they brought up the question - Who would you rather hang out with - the guys from The Hangover or the people from Cedar Rapids?  They were so spot on when they declared that the characters in Cedar Rapids are the ones you would rather know.  It totally has the cringe-worthy humor that you'd expect but its also really sweet.  Made me smile.  5/10.

Oct 13, 2011

You were always better

Keri Noble's song Pages of my Letters hits me in a vulnerable spot.

All conversation

Melvin Goes to Dinner is one of those films that's all conversations.....something I appreciate.  It throws together old friends and chance meetings at one long dinner.  They discuss all matter of subjects and while doing so much is revealed.  5/10.

Oct 11, 2011

Oct 10, 2011

Manners and grudges

I finally got around to watching part two of The Forsyte Saga.  Loved it!  Possibly even more than the first one.  It mostly follows the second generation but doesn't leave off the stories from the original Forsytes.  It's all romance and betrayal and manners and grudges.  I wish that I'd watched it a bit closer to seeing the first - some characters required an awful lot of refresher.  Still, very enjoyable.  7/10.

Oct 9, 2011


October Country is a documentary that follows a family who are entrenched in generational poverty.  It's heart wrenching  - particularly the awareness of Desi, the maybe-11 year old daughter.  It's a sad sad reality for a lot of folks.  6/10.

Winter is coming

So want!

Oct 5, 2011

Off the list

I've been meaning to read The Scarlet Pimpernel for forever.  I even put it on my 101 list.  So I finally bit the bullet and reserved it from the library.  Honestly, I was hoping for Count of Monte Cristo amazingness (because that book is fricking amazing).

Instead, the pimpernel provided a lot too much Romance and way too little adventure.  And I love a good romanctic novel, but this was all pining and woe-is-me'ing and desperation and making me want to kick the heroine.  At least I know now, and it's crossed off my list.  Love crossing stuff off the list!  3/10.

Oct 4, 2011

No hope

Please Look After Mom sounded good enough.  A Korean novel following a family that has lost their mother in a train station.  The story follows the grown children while they search for her and reevaluate their relationship with their mother.  A look into Korean life?  A family drama? A mystery?  I had hopes!

I ended up feeling so manipulated by the end of the book.  Instead of profoundness or at least a satisfying point, the novel copped out.  So aggravating!  3/10.

Oct 1, 2011


Sep 27, 2011

Not like the others

I Netflixed The Chase thinking it would be kind of McLeod's Daughters crossed with Monarch of the Glen - two shows I adore.  I thought wrong.  This show is about a veterinary clinic in Yorkshire run by two sisters and their family members.  It's got no sweetness or humor though.  The whole thing is about illicit affairs and secrets.  Total soap opera and very much not my thing.  Blech!  2/10 - at least it had some pretty settings.

Sep 26, 2011

A stylish dream

In the Mood for Love is a dreamy stylish film about neighbors who realize that their spouses are having an affair.   The style of it reminded me of Tom Ford's film A Single Man (a much more recent film) - just gorgeously done all the way through.  The music, the clothes, the mood, the pace - it was all just so eloquent and left me with such a feeling of longing.  Beautiful!  8/10.

Sep 25, 2011


If you like Tony Bourdain's show, you should definitely read his books.  He comes across as so honest and endearing.  He's less about the attitude than you'd expect.  The most recent book, Medium Raw, did not disappoint.  Loved the chapter of advice for wannabe chefs and his takes on his fellow chefs.  7/10.

Sep 22, 2011

Sweet life

The Sweet Life is a memoir of a man who moves to Paris after the love of his life dies. Reason enough for a life change, correct?  He's a pastry chef whose interested in food and culture.  He delves into the good and the bad of Parisian culture.  I like the blanace.  It's a quick, fun read with recipes interspersed.  5/10.

Sep 21, 2011

The Chicago way!

Years ago, my boy and I were visiting the cemetary where Eliot Ness is buried, and he discovered that I had no clue who Eliot Ness was.  "The Untouchables!" he kept saying. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I decided to get the movie.  It's overblown and completely too much and I enjoyed it.  6/10.

Sep 20, 2011


Unthinkingly, I picked up Green Witch right after The Red Garden - two books by the same author.  Not a usual step for me.  I read the prequel to the witch book ages ago and figured that I'd finish it up even though I hardly remembered book numero uno. 

Thoughts?  I love anything that references fairy tales.  They're in my blood.  However, the terrorism / 9/11 plot felll with a clunk for me.  Did not work at all.  Seemed like a waste.  3/10.

Sep 19, 2011


Alice Hoffman's novel The Red Garden charmed the heck outta me.  It's set in a small Massachusetts town in the shadow of a mountain.  Each chapter follows one character.  The following chapter is typically someone from the next generation - starting at settlement and moving to modern-ish day.  The tales follow love and heartbreak and even delve into fairy tale.  It's gorgeous - just the sort of tale to suck me in.  8/10.

Sep 18, 2011


Season three of True Blood was a bit of a disappointment....except for main werewolf guy's physique.  Such a highlight!  Will still catch the next season, but I'm hoping for better plotlines for Lafayette and Tara.  Hoping without a ton of hope.  5/10.

Sep 17, 2011

Green things

I'm a sucker for a well-thought-out picture book.  One that involves gardening?  So seriously sold!  The Curious Garden is adorable.  Gonna make all my mama friends read it. 7/10.

Sep 16, 2011

Sep 15, 2011

Celebrity editor?

Interesting recruitment.  I approve.


These chocolate and cherry scones are worth raving over.  Yum.

Sep 14, 2011


Still Life is a nonfic look into the world of taxidermy.  The author delves into lots of different aspects of the field - practitioners, arteests, historical context, and competitions.  After a slow-ish start, I totally fell into this book.  Did you know that one of the categories for competition is making a speciman from totally different animals.  If you aren't sold at that bit of info, then I don't understand you at all.  7/10.


Needed sharing.

Sep 13, 2011


So the Vermeer that's at the center of this doc did less than nothing for me.  Still the story of the hunt for stolen masterpieces is interesting, and the dapper detective is so very cool.  I kind of wish he'd been the center of things rather than the art.  Stolen gets 4/ 10.

Sep 12, 2011

Sep 11, 2011


Dorothy Parker twitter feed.

Ms Parker was wicked clever.  One example:
"I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound -- if I can remember any of the damn things."

Sep 10, 2011

Social commentary

Interesting blog commenting on advertising - copyranter.

Sep 9, 2011

Spot on

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk kept the boy and I entertained on a recent road trip.  It's short - just 3 hours!  I love how wickedly spot on Sedaris is with various personalities.  He's observations are like a twisting clever dagger into these types - example - the white lab rat who tries to convince her roommate that illness is caused by attitude.  I love how placing these stories into the lives of animals gave it more of a twist.

The story about the owl and the hippo had us absolutely howling with laughter.  7/10.

Sep 8, 2011


I'm no fan of the room as a whole, but I adore the painting in this room.  So lovely.

Catching up

Last night, we watched the movie Alien.  Realeased the year I was born, I had never seen it until last night.  Thoughts?  It was a leetle slow and I knew more about the story than I had suspected.  Funny how pop culture seeps into your brain like that.

Also, now I want to get another kitty and name it Jones Ripley.


Sep 1, 2011

Lyrical and brutal

The Summer of Ordinary Ways is a memoir written in the most lyrical language.  That's particularly remarkable since the book covers some brutal topics - most particularly some extreme violence against animals.  It was a really hard read in many places, but the story of growing up in a small town on a farm resonated with me a bit.  The writer has got some real skill in addition to what must be a complicated relationship with her family.  6/10.

(Totally different subjects, but when I think of books with gorgeous writing about insanely awful subjects, the other book that springs to mind is The Things They Carried which I loved.  It's an interesting and memorable pairing.)

Aug 31, 2011


Heads You Lose is a mystery novel written in turns by two authors who have a bone to pick with eachother.  Each takes turns with a chapter, and, while the story isn't bad, the star of the show is the digs mixed into the footnotes, post-chapter letters, and twists of the story.  It made me laugh a whole lot while reading.  7/10.

Aug 30, 2011

Must admit

Coneflowers are one of my favorite perennials.  Spotted these on a walk.

Aug 22, 2011


Spotted these pretty pots on a walk.  Filing them away for inspiration.

Aug 21, 2011

There's a leak in the boiler room

My favorite Tom Waits song a la Cookie Monster

Aug 20, 2011

Shades of pink

I've been faithfully continuing my pledge to have fresh flowers in the house at least once a month.  Sometimes they are cut from my yard.  Other times I pick them up from the local grocery.  My favorite so far has been these tea roses and snap dragons that I bunched together.  So soft and fragrant and lovely.

Aug 16, 2011

Weather, politics, and destruction

Isaac's Storm tells the horrfying tale of the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 and killed over 8,000 people.  It follows the tale from the perspective of a man who was in charge of the local weather bureau office.  The story is well told - tying the meteorological patterns and signs to the political background of the bureau to the awfulness of the destruction.  This book will haunt my nightmares I am sure, but it was a really compelling read.  8/10.

Aug 15, 2011


Rango was such a fun movie.  It follows a fish out of water lizard who stumbles into the dried up town Dirt.  I loved how gritty and ragged all the characters in the frontier town looked.  The story struck me as a bit too dark and scary for kids, but a lot of fun for grown-ups.  I adored the owl musicians particularly.

Aug 14, 2011


Great House is a collection of intertwined narratives about people whose lives are touched by a desk - a big massive desk that's full of a jumble of drawers.  The desk has a History with a capital H. The reader is expected to appreciate all the Important and Deep things thought and said about the desk and the people in the stories.  I was less than Impressed.  Mostly I was confused and bored and held at a great distance from these people.  I don't understand the fuss I guess.  3/10.

Aug 13, 2011


Husband made this orange zest pasta a few days ago, and it was fucking amazing.

Aug 12, 2011


My neighbor's morning glories are creeping over the fence to brighten my yard as well.  So pretty they had to be shared.

Aug 3, 2011

Always working on improvement

Since our house monsters systematically destroyed our old blinds, we finally got around to getting some new ones.  I'm in love with how the light comes in though these and the fact that they don't have cords (for the cats to chew off).  Love those simple improvements.

Aug 2, 2011


This post has me pegged.  I'm so totally an under-buyer.  Evidence:

- Wearing a fall coat all of last winter because I didn't love the styles of winter coats I found and didn't want to spend the money on a coat I didn't love.
- Buying personal care items I use all the time in singles instead of stocking up
- My gas tank is on empty right now (Wait - that may be laziness and a too busy gas station on my way home.  Although I only usually fill up when getting gas from the grocery store gas station where I get discounts.  Other places I'll put $10 in because I figure that I'll be hitting the grocery store soon enough.  Hmmm.... does that make me smart or cheap?)

Aug 1, 2011


I made chorizo & sweet potato enchiladas recently.  So good - even the leftovers!  Here's the recipe if you're looking for some inspiration.

My Life as a Dog is such an excellent coming of age movie.  Its about a boy sent to live with a relative in another town while his mother is recovering from an illness.  I loved how this Swedish film made me laugh and hit some really sad parts.  I also kind of wanted to live in this town full of so many interesting and wonderful people.  Definitely a feel good.  6.5/10.

Jul 31, 2011


Woolvs in the Sitee is a super brief graphic novel about the world gone dark and ominous.  It's pages of creepy drawings with writing scrawled over them by someone whose trying to make sense of what's happening.  However, it felt only a third done.  The thing is so brief that it more annoyed than entertained.  3/10.


Even though they are so slow in ripening, I'm in love with the shape of one of my tomato varieties.  Still, I wish they'd ripen up so I can commence sauce-making.


My favorite things to splurge on are clothes, shoes, and flowers.  Yesterday involved some stocking up on pots, seeds, and flowers.  So delighted with these colors!