Quote of the Day


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I hated it. Just loathed it. It carefully narrates the rape and murder of a little girl in such detail that I have deep suspicions about the author. I feel unclean after reading it. I'm not going to provide any links to it as you should NOT go find this book.

Here is a link to a more informative and more detailed review if you want to know more about the story. I always feel badly slamming a novel as I know how hard it is to write them. Nevertheless, it is an awful piece of work. To quote the reviewer linked above:
What makes the pointlessness of the novel so aggravating is the selection of subject matter: the rape and murder of a child (and the aftermath). I'm not suggesting that such subject matter should be off-limits for fiction, but I am suggesting that if an artist wants to go there, it'd better be worth the trip. In short, she'd better have something damned important to say that justifies (and indeed requires) the fictional portrayal of such horrors.
Sebold doesn't.


gods behaving badly by Marie Phillips

Well I think I have finally got the Greek gods sorted out. Marie Phillips has cleverly lodged them in a decrepit home in London where they quarrel amongst themselves, idle and unheeded. Then Ms. Phillips was nice enough to keep an eye on them and jot down their comings-and-goings and share them all in Gods Behaving Badly

The mighty have indeed fallen and are short on funds, short on vim & vigor, and not at all prepared when Apollo -- in a fit of pique -- puts out the sun. A quick trip to the underworld should set things aright, or maybe not. I'm certainly not going to tell.

Gods Behaving Badly is a bit risque, after all it features Aphrodite and Apollo and all their assorted cousin/siblings, and is very very amusing. The mortals we meet are all much nicer than most of the gods, as illustrated here in one of my favorite passages, an exchange between the morally vacuous Apollo and Neil, a basic dude:
"You do not apologize because you feel guilty and you want the feeling to go away," said Neil.
"You don't?" said Apollo.
"No, You apologize because you feel guilty and that guilt is how you know that you that you've done something wrong. And then you want to make amends. You don't apologize because you want to make yourself feel better. You apologize because you want to make the other person feel better."
"But why should I want to make you feel better?" said Apollo [ . . . ] "I couldn't care less how you feel."
"Yes, I think I gathered that."
The book is heretical on many levels, so should not be read as a source of religious instruction but if you have never straightened out the Greek pantheon, this is a fun way to go about it. However, if you tend towards primness, you will want to skip chapter 2. It's not THAT bad, but it is, well, it is Apollo and Aphrodite, doing what they do best.



The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

I just finished The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, an excellent piece of researched fiction telling the story of Teresita Urrea, aka the Saint of Cabora, a town in Mexico. Teresita Urrea (1873-1906) was a real person and a relative of the author, Luis Alberto Urrea.

This story of an abandoned child who grows up to have alarming power and influence is both interesting and well-told. I didn't realize that it was based on a real person until I was over half-way through; this added greatly to my appreciation of the book.

Here is a link to a more detailed and well-written review over at AmoXcalli and a link to the Luis Alberto Urrea's site.
If you enjoy magical realism and/or historical fiction, you will enjoy this eloquent novel.



favorite elf products + coupon code

The elf visited my mailbox today so I get to tell you about my two new favs, each $1.00.

Shielding Hydro Tint SPF 15 - Tone 1: a colored moisturizer, perfect for after the pool.

Moisture Care Lip Color - Baby Lips: super tidy super gloss. Love it.

and some coupons:
EGRESCT - free $25 gift card from restaurant.com
EGHYDAR - free Shielding Hydro Tint with SPF 15 with any $20 purchase before August 1st.
EGANNIVDS - 10% purchase of $20.00
more e.l.f. coupons



calling for Swiss Chard recipes

Wouldn't you know it. The little withered seedlings that I bought for 25cents have all recovered and are taking over my garden. What would you do with an endless supply of Swiss Chard? I need ideas.



my birthday hint list

One month from today is my birthday!! I'll be 45. Oh my. I'm sure that each and everyone of you will be sending me large and extravagant gifts, right?

Maybe not. But just in case My Gift from a Generous God is reading this list, or someone that knows him is and can strategically hint for me, here is what I am wishing for.

:: A really good deck lounge chair which should be on sale this time of year.
:: This Hempmania handbag, easily found at any
Hemp-oriented store. No I am not going to smoke it -- Hemp handbags last forever. I bought the previous generation of this bag back in the early 90's and it is just now wearing out.
Any of these items on my amazon wish list
:: A LUSH giftcard or a pot of Dream Cream

    Dream Cream Body Cream



BBC top 100 books

I found this over at Bygone Beauty where Kalianne reports that "The BBC say the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on their list."

If you'd like to participate in this meme simply copy the list and follow the instructions below. And be sure to post a comment so we can follow each other around.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma- Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (why is this on the list?)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo




Digging by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney, as you may know, did the Modern Verse translation of Beowulf, and is, therefore my literary hero.


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
~ Seamus Heaney, Field Work

Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by A Year of Reading.


an overflow of cousins

Today we were blessed with another cousinly visit. A cousin from afar had some tasks to tend to so she left her 4 very nicely behaved and pleasant children with me. We made raspberry jam, picked the pie cherries, made sour cherry jam, rode bikes, trekked into the 100 acre wood, and generally had a lovely time.

I do admit, though, that I am tired after our fifth consecutive day of socializing. We had Friday at the lake with cousins local and far-flung, Saturday cousins-from-afar at our house, Sunday many local cousins at our house and overnight, Monday swimming with local cousins at their place and Tuesday cousins-from-afar at our house again. On Wednesday we are staying home. Alone.


natural consequences, bunny -style

We are bunny-sitting a little fellow named Chuck. Chuck is a very handsome Dutch rabbit and is at this moment merrily cavorting throughout the goat enclosure. Dandy let him out, so Dandy is at this moment glumly following Chuck, guarding him against eagles. We can't pick Chuck up so we just have to wait until he decides to go home.

It may be a very long day for Dandy.

I bet he never lets Chuck out again.


So Brave, Young & Handsome by Leif Enger

This is Leif Enger's second book. His first, Peace Like a River, would be a hard act to follow as it was a practically perfect book. I enjoyed So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel, but I didn't love it.

Monte Beckett is a one-shot author. He wrote one best-selling book, quit his day-job at the post office and then flailed about. He is the sort of man I do not like, a man who lets life circumstances form his choices, as opposed to making choices that form his life circumstances. Fortunately for him, he married a woman not like me at all.

The book opens with Monte notices a man floating past him on the river. Though not immediately, Monte joins the man on his venture. His new companion is an outlaw, trying to go make amends with an abandoned wife before the law catches up with him.

Twas a good, though not great, read. I'd recommend putting it on hold at the library rather than running into town to purchase it. I'm sorry Mr. Enger. I loved Peace Like a River so much that I feel sad to not be able to rave over this one.



Tomato Salsa

No, my tomatoes are not yet producing, but one of our local stores has a big tomato sale going on so I am canning salsa. Here is my current recipe.

4 C peeled, cored, chopped slicing tomatoes (5-6 tomatoes)
2 1/2 C seeded chopped chiles and peppers, any combination
(I used 1 long green chili, 4 fresh jalepenos and about 1 C canned jalepenos)
3/4 C chopped onion
4 cloves shopped garlic
2 C vinegar
1 t ground cumin
1 T oregano
1 T fresh cilantro
1 1/2 t salt

Combine and boil. Reduce to simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into pint and half pint jars with 1/2 inch headspace. Water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 4 pints.

This recipe is from the 1996 Salsa Recipes for Canning pamphlet put together by Val Hillers and Richard Dougherty as a Pacific Northwest Extension Publication.

:: this post is included in the Carnival of Home Preserving



and more cousins

Because you can never have too many days with cousins. Not only did a whole bunch of relatives come over today (I lost count at about 30) but two of them are spending the night. We packed a picnic dinner for the 100 acre wood and now they are bunking down for the night indoors. I'm just not ready to a) let them sleep out there unaccompanied or b) accompany them.

My Gift and Dandy did sleep out there last night, I heard it was bumpy and cold. Imagine that.

Nevertheless, today was sunny and full of food and family. We had a great day jumping into the pool fully clothed,

swinging in the hammock,
chatting on the deck,
picking bing cherries,
opening presents,
and generally having fun with cousins,
and each other.

And this? This is a great photo of my notoriously camera shy Uncle:


The Three Everywhere

The Three who are over my head,
The Three who are under my tread,
The Three who are over me here,
The Three who are over me there,
The Three who are in the earth near,
The Three who are up in the air,
The Three who in heaven do dwell,
The Three in the great ocean swell,
Pervading Three, oh be with me.
~ Poems of the Western Highlanders

from The Wisdom of the Celts, compiled by David Adam