Monday, June 30, 2008

Herding Cats Challenge

Okay, here is my list of books to read for the Herding Cats Challenge:

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

2. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

3. Good Omens by Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman

Weekly Geek

This weeks challenge is right up my alley (see challenge post here). In a nutshell, organize your book challenges, reviews and posts. I am doing more book challenges this summer, so this will help me get them in order. It will also give me a chance to work on my blog in general.

I am currently signed up for the following book challenges:

The Herding Cats Challenge

The Themed Book Challenge

The YA Challenge 2008

Herding Cats Book Challenge

I found this book challenge listed by Bottle of Shine on LiveJournal
(see official challenge post here)

The gist of it is to list ten books you love, and then read three books from other peoples lists.

My “Herding Cats" List

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
6. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
7. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
8. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
9. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
10. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Other Noteworthy Books

1. The Last Lecture by Richard Pausch
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


YA Book Challenge

Deadline is the story of a young man (17) who finds out he has one year to live. How will he live out his last days? He has a plan but as we all know, things never go quite as planned.

I finished this novel some time ago but never got around to posting a review. This was my first Chris Crutcher novel, and it had my attention from page one. Not only was the ending not what expected, at every turn this novel took my into corners and crevices of modern life which I normally cover my eyes as I pass. Crutcher just put the ugly side of life out there, showed how people deal with it, and moved on to the next obstacle. From what I hear Mr. Crutcher is good at this sort of thing. Admittedly, there were parts which required a suspension of belief, but what good entertainment doesn't. Not only would I recommend this book to others, I have already passed it on to several friends.

Rating: 10/10

The Year of Magical Thinking

Themed Book Challenge

In a sincere effort to complete the Themed Book Challenge this month, I read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. This is nonfiction personal account losing her husband and her daughter. I had never read anything by this author and was amazed at the detailed manner in which she wrote about such a raw, personal experience.

In chapter ten, Didion introduces the "vortex effect" which made me glad I put this on my Getting Back in the Game themed reading list. The power of familiar places, objects, or phrases to take us back to "the way things were before" is common to all experiences that we must get through and from which we must move on.

In the final chapter, the author states:

"I know why we try to keep the dead alive; we try to keem them alive in order to keep them with us." (Didion, p. 225)

I feel this also applies to relationships gone sour. We want to hang on the what we feel were "the good times". Moving from "we" to "I" and being open to a new "we" takes you through a very similar process. Respectfully, they are not the same. With divorce or breakup there is still the possibility of positive interactions, no matter how unlikely. In death interaction is no longer possible.

"I could not count the time during the average day that something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response." (Didion, p. 194)

The message learned from this novel is that as time moves on we gain chronological distance from experiences of loss. In our simple efforts to continue living and be productive, we build new memories, learn to manuveur the rises and falls of life, and gradually get back in the game.

Rating: 8/10
Heavy reading for some. Would not recommend it to anyone who might not appreciate Didion's detailed analytical style.


I am clearly extremely bored. I missed the opportunity to enroll in summer school because I just couldn't function with my computer as it was. Today, I am going to begin working on some things for the coming school year, and I am going to work on the molding in the dining room (caulking). Hopefully, one of these things will fulfill my desperate need for a project. Tomorrow, it's off to Carlsbad for the day. My mother is actually on the brink of asking me to stop calling her (I think I'm up to three times a day.) Her parting words to me this morning were, "Okay, I'll talk to you next week." Normally I would consider a statement like that progress on her part, but now -- not so much. My dad has gone from talking very little on the phone to actually having a conversational word count on the negative side of the number line (Hello. Are you there?).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Power of Heat

I never ceases to amaze me how one change or alteration to my sensitive life alter my animated, go-getter personality. Those three days without AC are, thus far, the sole entries on my "Lost Days of Summer" list. I was just to drained to do anything.

I have friends who say that this list should have as many entries as possible because in their humble, yet loud, opinion all the days of a break should be spent lounging and doing nothing in particular. I disagree. After the first day I become extremely bored. Must...have [gasp, gasp]...projects.

How do you think summer days should be spent?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Change in Plans

It's funny how life has a way of altering your priorities. When my vacation started I had a very clear idea of how my time and money would be spent this summer. Since that time my priorities have been changed.

Thursday night, my AC went out. Considering the fact that we are in the midst of a heat wave, that sucks.

For the past few months my laptop has been cutting off every 40 minutes or so. Now it is at every 8-10 minutes. That makes it difficult to get anything done, however, I may have discovered the cause of this problem. This morning I took it off the desk and positioned it in my lap in such a way that more air was able to circulate under the computer (no, it was not a very "ladylike" sitting position). It stayed on the entire time I was working. I believe it has been overheating (I just did some research and found out that this is a common problem with Toshiba laptops). It apparently needs some cleaning and one of the fans is not working.

Between these two situations is one very bored middle school teacher with a new to do list for the summer.

1. Get AC repaired (the repairman will be here this afternoon).
2. Buy desktop computer to use at home while laptop is being repaired and cleaned. I need my internet fix and unlike ms_teacher I am not Blackberry ready.
Depending on the cost of these two items that may be the extent of my summer spending. The remainder of my summer adventure will be determined by the kindness of strangers and friends, coupons, and my own resourcefulness. This could turn out to be quite an adventure after all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things I've Learned About Men

Once you allow the heart to heal and meet a genuinely good man, it opens your eyes to things about the opposite sex.

1. They say what they mean.
"I liked your hair the way it was", means just that and not that he does not like your new hairstyle.

2. They are intrigued by women who know what they want.

3. They genuinely enjoy our company, even during the _____ game (basketball, football, baseball, fill in the blank.)

4. They have talkative moments, not many, but they have them. They usually happen during a day that you spend doing something he enjoys and thought you would not. As a matter of fact, at times like these, you can shut them up and don't want to. They are actually amusing.

5. They really do love us.

6. They have flaws.

7. They get scared too.

8. They are capable of great things.

9. They have baggage too. They just don't unpack, sort, and analyze every piece. Living out of the suitcase is fine with them.

10. They never "need" help, but they can always "use" a hand, a hug, or directions.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Made It

Hooray! Its finely here! The first day of summer break.. We go back a week earlier next year so this break will be slightly shorter, but I am not complaining. I have several goals for this summer. They include:

Finish the Themed Book Challenge

Get up at the same time I do when I go to work. Having waking and retiring times is good for the body…so I hear.

Write, write, write!

Plan for 1st semester of the coming school year

Caulk and paint the molding in the dining room


Start a compost bin

Eat healthier. I have already started this (along with a detox and acupuncture) in my effort to deal with my fibroids and for better overall health. Just using Evening Primrose Oil and increasing my Omega- 3 intake has eliminated my anemia and given me pain free periods for the past year and a half. Now it is the bulk (size) that I am dealing with. I know nothing will make them go away completely, but I don’t want any more growth, and a reduction in size would be nice. I know of cases where it has happened. I also know that every case is different.

Start saving more. Considering the price of gas, food, and everything else, this will be a challenge.

Broaden the borders of my life. In other words, I am open to more socializing, romance, and kayaking ;)

Oh yes, and give the house a thorough cleaning.

I guess you could say I have plans for the summer but being the procrastinator that I am, it will be interesting to see what I accomplish. the work to be done is a given. Having a good time is a choice. I plan to have a great summer!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Themed Book Challenge

Further changes to my list:
My Themed Book Challenge List:

1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards
2. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert (this one will be a second reading)
3. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
4. An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Recent Reads (Within the Last Two Months)

Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards
Harcourt Books 2006

This was book sent to me by a former co-worker (I just love book swapping!), and I must say it was a very good read. I’m not a horse person (Sorry), but that did not stop me from enjoying this book. What drew me was the story of getting back into the dating game after a divorce. It takes different things to draw a person back in and teach them to trust again, even animals. I could definitely relate to the main characters journey back into dating.

Sometimes novels with this theme sometimes remind me of a jerky ride with someone who is just learning to drive a manual transmission car; however, this was a very smooth read.


My Themed Book Challenge List:

1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards
2. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert (this one will be a second reading)
3. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
4. An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser