Friday, January 29, 2010

Puppy, Puppy, Puppy, and a few Goofy Family Pics

I've been so busy, blogging has been.... uhm, what's blogging again? I forgot. Oh yeah. It's where I share witty, pithy, or endearing words and photos here in this cyberspace. So, here ya go. I've got a ton of puppy pics - seems like I take photos of nothing else recently. I'm just gonna toss them all up here, hope they stick, because in just a few minutes I'm off to a potluck and later tonight Hubby and I will magically transform ourselves and dance away the night at the Good Faerie Ball.

Big progress in the relationship between Magpie and Rosie. We had to teach Rosie how to play with another dog, she really only played with cats before this.

A bunch of black sleeping things - George Weasley (the big cat), Rosie, my camera case, and Maggie Magpie. It's really really hard to take photos of black animals, especially inside. I guess I should have taken that into consideration before we took in so many glossy dark creatures.

Hubby is really at his happiest with his arms full of chihuahuas.

Of course it's not all sweetness and light - here he is being attacked by man's best friends. They seem to think he's a tasty treat.

A calmer puppy in William's arms. William was Maggie's favorite person and William, for all his threat to move out immediately if we got another puppy, really took to Maggie. That is, until she got so excited to have him home one evening that she .... uhm.... dribbled on his bedding. It was only the one time but apparently teenagers have a long memory when it comes to their personal space. They're mending their relationship but Maggie isn't invited on his bed any more. Poor Maggie.

Another pic of sleeping piles - 4 cats, 2 dogs.

I think this one looks rather like a two headed dog. Oh, and there's some cat ears in the foreground. You'd think I'd take photos of the pets when they WEREN'T sleeping but it's hard, they just end up looking like a small black blur.

One more. See how well they cuddle now. Although Rosie draws the line at nose to nose, or sharing the same space under the covers. She growls and warns Magpie to keep at least one human body part between her sleeping cave and Maggie's cave.

Look, no animals of any kind in this photo. Well, I don't think she's an animal. She's not black and furry. But she does have horns. We stopped and visited with Ashley and Sam on the way up to the faery balls. We played with some of Hubby's faery accoutrements.

Sam's turn to be a horny guy. They look pretty natural, don't they. We got a good laugh. Hubby put them on after this and we went into Starbucks. Some guy came up and asked him if they were real. Real? He meant, were they implants. Nope, but I guess it means the little elastic string that holds them in place is pretty dang invisible.

Now, I'm off! I hope to have lots of lovely festival photos to share with you soon!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Very Merry Post Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday. I woke up to Hubby handing me this -

A computer paper Happy Birthday note "signed" by some of the animals and the teenager (curiously, all in Hubby's handwriting), a "recycled" anniversary card in which he'd whited out the inside and turned it into a birthday card from him to me, and last but clearly not least, a bouquet of dead flowers from the garden with a ribbon made out of a bit of plastic bag.

I stared at it.

Hubby: I figured since I got you such good presents for Christmas I didn't have to get you anything big for your birthday.

I stared at it some more.

Hubby: I, uhm, I didn't want to risk waking you up by getting dressed and going out for real flowers this morning.

More staring.

Hubby: Well, obviously we'll be celebrating your birthday all week. There will be more presents later.

Me: Can you bring me my camera please? Because you know I'm gonna have to blog this.

And before you can get all uppity on my behalf, I found it very amusing. Hubby is usually OVERLY generous and showers me with candy, cards, flowers, gifts and dinners out - doesn't miss a thing. And we did go out to both a nice dinner with William and a later coffee and dessert just the two of us the night before, as Hubby had to work the night of my birthday.

After the camera I got this birthday scoop of ice cream (soy cream actually). Hubby dragged the Teen in to help sing Happy Birthday, which Teen did through a mouthful of nachos.

Maggie didn't understand why I didn't share the ice cream - sorry kiddo, it was chocolate.

I didn't actually get any "presents" for my birthday, although in a way that was nice. (Rumor has it, however, that there are several things winging their way through the mail even as I type this) More important than gifts, I got phone call birthday greetings from all my kids, siblings (no, wait, one sister missed. But since I'm awful at remembering this sort of thing in return, no harm no foul), mom, best friend, and phone texts from Hubby from work.

I told Hubby that what I really wanted for my birthday gift was nothing, so that in the near future I could buy a bunch of books I've been waiting to come out in paperback. And there will be many vendors at the upcoming Winter Faery Balls with all sorts of tempting art and lovelies. I'm sure I can find a favorite or two to justify as a "late birthday gift".

I also got a candle topped cupcake and a rousing round of Happy Birthday to You from my friends who own the local Chinese restaurant. William babysat the puppies so I could take a long walk and eat out and finish my book club reading.

Mostly I just allowed myself to do nothing all day, read in daylight hours, leave the dishes in the sink, and watch silly television. I finished my book club of the month book and then lapped up all but the last ten pages of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which is a good way to start out as I've decided to turn six this year. (Oh hey, I should reread Milne's When I was Six!)

Women my age often decide to turn 29. Not me. I figure if I'm gonna pick a fun year, six seems like a good choice. It's old enough to read (at least I was reading by then), have some freedom to wander without parental supervision (at least in my childhood), but still full of lots of dress up and fantasy play. I intend to spend the year rediscovering the joy of building forts, wearing whatever I fancy in whatever quirky combinations I desire, making dandelion chains, talking to my cats, dancing, playing with my food, listening to the faeries whispering their secret lore, climbing trees, giggling with my friends, drawing colorful pictures, wishing on stars, and.... You know, doing all the important things in life.

Friday, January 08, 2010

More Maggie

Sorry about more pet photos but what can I do when she keeps being so cute! I'm sure I'll eventually move on, but bear with me for a bit.

Rosie and Maggie united in popcorn watch.

Rosie: "Just remember kid, as senior dog, I get the first one that drops."

Apparently the warmest place to be,

the coziest spot,

is beneath the laptop.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Chihuahuas and Some Other Holiday Prezzies

Maggie is starting to know her way around the house. She's already learned out to get up on the couches, the bed, even the windowsill. Isn't she cute - she doesn't really have blue eyes, but I thought this was a cute pic.

Progress every day on the Rosie/Maggie relationship. Look, they're touching while sleeping. This didn't happen the first couple of days. Rosie insisted on being closer to my face than Maggie, with at least an arm between them. Still not willing to sleep touching under the covers yet, but time will probably change that. (Ignore the totally lint covered jeans - these jeans are EVIL fuzz magnets. And not just the cute doggie kind of fuzz!) (Also, black dogs are really hard to photograph without a flash!)

Moving on to other cute tiny things, Hubby bought me two miniature winter faery snow globes.

Tucked in with the tea pots and tea cups.

Another tiny new treasure. It's not really a holiday gift, I found it for $1.25 at a craft boutique while shopping with the family. It's a really nice single size tea pot. The card is to show you the size. I don't like those personal sized tea pots that fit atop the cup, so this stand alone pot was a fun find.

Of course that's before I knew I was gonna get the absolutely perfect personal sized tea pot from Hubby for Yule. I LOVE it! Look at the top. (Although it's not like one can have too many tea pots, right!?)

One side.

And the other side.

Here's the whole package. It came in this sturdy box I can reuse for craft supplies, plus another round tin for storage of ... tea maybe? A tea mug. And a ceramic coaster. All perfect! There was also a green tea sampler box and some tea cookies. Yum!

Tea and books go together like peanut butter and jelly in this house. I treated myself to this giant table top book. It was expensive, marked down 75% at a large bookstore. When I found myself still standing there reading it 40 minutes later, I decided it should come home with me.

Two more books, the one on the left a prezzie from the Hubby, the one on the right a prezzie to myself. I think they look well matched together.

One more pic of the cutest tiny prezzie, Magpie Girl. About the size of my boot.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Look Who Flew In!

What a surprise, our daughter showed up at the door today (surprising as she lives four hours away), to hand deliver Hubby's Christmas gift.

This is Magpie, Maggie for short. She's twelve weeks old.

She's all black with a bit of white on her toes and chest, so Magpie seemed just right (as Rosie also has a "flying" name), and the name Maggie fits well with the name Rosie.

As you can see, Rosie is thrilled beyond belief at the new addition.

Oh yes, she's just as excited as she can be.

First we dragged Rosie all over in the car (she hates to travel, although she likes being new places once she's there), then she had to put up with her big galump doggie cousins for two weeks (a 10 month old Chocolate Lab and a 10 month old English Bulldog), and just when she thought she was back home, safely in charge of her kingdom and her cats, the grandkids all come crashing through the door and then THIS... THIS.... intruder shows up, drinking out of her water bowl and sitting in her people's laps!

I'm sure she'll warm up to the idea of a new baby sister. It will just take some time.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Top Reads of 2009

I managed to get my top reads down to ten this year, with a handful of "almost made the list." It would have been more difficult but I decided to eliminate titles if I'd reread them, if there were several titles by the same author, or if they were titles in an ongoing series that I've already had in my top read list in the last couple of years. There were a few forgettable books in last year's reading but most of the titles that didn't make it were from authors and series I still enjoy, often waiting anxiously for the newest titles to be published. I just didn't want to keep mentioning the same authors over and over again. Books made the top ten list for many reasons - because they are great literature, were great fun, or perhaps because I just happened to pick them up at the right time to entertain or move me.

I definitely had a favorite book this year, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I've already written about it in another post. It's a lovely story with unforgettable characters about why life is worth the effort and how to grow up to be a man. Sniff.

The rest of my list, in no particular order of degree of love -

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel was a title I heard recommended on Joshilyn Jackson's enertaining blog, Faster Than Kudzu. So when I stumbled upon the book in a pile of used books somewhere, I knew to grab it. It's an autobiographical ramble through what would appear to be a nondescript childhood but the stories pull you in and make your heart ache with beauty, sadness, and understanding. I found it on the cheap, but it's definitely worth going out and purchasing at the bookshop!

Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. Last year I read The Audacity of Hope and found it interesting, if not the most exciting read of my life. I decided to read Dreams from My Father out of curiosity and found this more personal story far more interesting than his other book. As I read it I kept coming back to the fact that he wrote the book long before the idea of becoming president had even started to percolate in his head. I think if he had, he would probably have felt the need to censor his words and the book would have been poorer for it. A fascinating peek into the man behind the historical figure.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. Being an unabashed Francophile, this title caught my attention. I loved imagining the author and his family in the many places and sites I have visited myself. It was also intriguing to read about the many changes that have taken place from the period in which the author lived in Paris and the Paris of current years. Each long chapter reads like a rambling essay. I like rambling, so it worked well for me. You might give it a flip through to see if it works for you.

Valiant by Holly Black. Valiant is actually the middle of a trilogy. The first book is Tithe. I didn't realize that the book was the second in a trilogy, however, as there are new characters in the second book and each title stands alone. The third book, Ironside, pulls the first two stories together. Tithe was an unexpected read for me, a Young Adult urban fantasy title that was far grittier than I had yet to encounter. I think I wasn't sure if I liked it until after I'd finished it! Not knowing it had a sequel, I chose to read Valiant on a whim and again was surprised at it's edgy hardness but was now ready for it. I really loved the characters and liked the premises of the faery/human interactions.

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris. I was so excited when I discovered that there was a sequel to Chocolat! I waited patiently for it to be published in the U.S. (it was originally published in the UK under the name The Lollipop Shoes), then I waited patiently for it to come into paperback. I kept busy by reading Chocolat. I had only seen the movie. (I usually won't go see the movie before I read the book but I hadn't known about the book.) This turned out to be important preparation as the story diverges, as the story often does, between the screen and the book, and if I had only seen the movie I would have been somewhat lost where the story picks up many years later in The Girl with No Shadow.

I found myself second guessing where the author had taken the story, having imaginary conversations with her about whether the characters would really have made the choices she chose for them. (or perhaps, where they chose to take her as she wrote it down) But ultimately I couldn't put the book down and I loved being back in their lives and, cherry on top, set in the wonderful Parisian arrondissement of Montmartre.

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. I actually bought this book for my Hubby as he lived and worked in the redwoods in his younger years. I thought perhaps I'd read it myself, eventually, and somehow, without thinking about the connection, I picked it up just before I went on a week long trip where I was able to spend a number of days walking amongst the cathedrals of giant trees.

Having the pleasure of living near the redwoods off and on during my adult life, I thought I already knew a lot about these forests, certainly more than your random person. I was amazed at how much I learned in reading, and even more amazed to discover how new most of the discoveries about redwood forests are in the larger history. It fascinated me to read about locations and events that I remember living near during the same time as the story takes place. It was intriguing to think of how many overlaps there must have been between the people I knew and the people in the book.

For anyone who wants to deepen their appreciation of the natural world, and our place within the web of life, this is a great read. (Pssst - I discovered after I finished the book that Hubby hadn't yet read it!)

Dracula by Bram Stoker. I keep trying to add to my list of classic reads and so you'd think I'd stop being surprised at how much I enjoy these stories. Duh! It's always fascinating, too, to discover the differences from what popular culture has pulled or tweaked from the story and how the story reads in it's original form. I love a gothic read and you probably can't find one more gothic than this.

Someplace To Be Flying by Charles DeLint. I've been craving a certain kind of urban fantasy all year, in particular I've been trying to chip away at the works of Neil Gaiman and Charles DeLint. Completely unlike me, I've been reading DeLint's work out of order, which has been an interesting experience. In Someplace To Be Flying, I finally found the origin of the Crow Girls, who have made small appearances in other Newport stories I've already read.

I don't know if DeLint can write characters I wouldn't like, so it's redundant to say I loved the characters in this book, but I guess I can have favorite characters within a larger cast of characters. The same thing for DeLint novels - love them all but some stand out. I think I have to say Someplace To Be Flying has bumped Forest of the Heart from it's favorite DeLint spot, or at least is crowding next to it. Probably the biggest confusion I have about DeLint's books is this - Why hasn't anyone made a movie out of any of them yet? Wouldn't they make some great movies!?

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. This was a book I've had tucked away on my shelf unread for a long while and was prompted into reading when I heard about the unexpected death of the author in recent months. I probably would have read the book sooner if I didn't have a copy with a dated cover image. I know, but cover art does make a difference, y'know. Like, I dislike books that have "movie version" cover art, but others must feel differently or they wouldn't produce them, yes? Anyway, it's a wonderful story of myth and archetypes, a good deep read that didn't run in a predictable line, allowing me to get as lost in the story as the characters do in the wood.


More books that hovered on the edge of my top ten, that on another day might have bumped another title out of position, again in no particular order -

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast. This is the first in what seems like a neverending list of young adult fantasy/vampire series. There are so many I can't keep them all straight. I've already got a few going, both YA and Adult, so I wasn't shopping for a new series, but my sister recommended this one so I went out and bought the first book. Written by a mother/daughter author team, I really loved the fast pace and witty banter. I chuckled a lot at the pop culture references that helped to tie the fantasy to "real life." Nothing deep, just a really fun read. I'm anxious to get my hands on the next book.

Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress. This was a book club choice, nothing I would have picked on my own, but the story really stuck with me long after I'd finished reading it. To me, it was like reading TWO stories, the sections bouncing back and forth between a young white boy who lives in the south during the beginning of the civil rights movements and his crazy aunt who kills her husband in the first chapter and runs off to recreate herself. The first story was mostly a serious story, the second mostly dark humor. I heavily favored the story of the boy and wasn't sure how the two stories fit together or why the author felt the need to weave them together. Interestingly, some of the book club members had the exact opposite reaction, preferring the woman's story and disliking the more serious thread. In the end I decided that neither story would be as full without the other.

Defending Angels by Mary Stanton. This is a new urban fantasy series by an author of a few other series I haven't read. I just stumbled on this title during a bookstore visit and picked it up on a whim. I liked the southern location, I liked the characters, and I liked the uniquely new fantasy twist. Instead of more vampires and werewolves, the characters include a collection of angelic justice seekers and a few ghostly clients. The second title in the series, Angel's Advocate, was also a good read.

The Onion Girl by Charles DeLint. This book didn't make the top ten only because it's a second DeLint book and I only gave each author one shot for the list. But you can probably just reread my comments about Somewhere To Be Flying, most of it applies here. Jilly is one of my favorite characters and it was nice to find out so much more about her and other familiar characters.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller. This was another book club choice made by a good friend of mine. It also happened to be a title I had picked up and shelved unread into my library. I have a hard time choosing to read autobiographies (as this is) or nonfiction. I really guard the time I have to escape into fiction and fantasy.

This book wasn't a light or easy book to read. I learned a lot about African history. I remembered a lot about how much the world has changed since the 60's and 70's. This book makes the list not because the book left me thinking "ah, what a great book" but because the stories and people in this book continue to linger in my thoughts even now almost a year after reading it.


Well, that's it. I have a mental list of books I'd like to read this year. Hopefully I'll give it some more reflection and post about that soon. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about some of your favorite reads in 2009. Please leave me a comment with lots of new book possibilities, or blog about your own 2009 reading. If I get a few links, maybe I'll add them to this post so we can have a little book list link list. "Book list link list" - say that three times in a row fast!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Book List for 2009

For several years now I've set reading goals. Can't remember what my goals were for this year. Regardless, about halfway through the year I decided it didn't matter whether I met them or not, that having reached my goals for the past few years I'd created a conscious routine to my reading that worked well without some specific number to meet. As for reading more of a variety of books, the book club I joined helps with that. For the record, I think my goal was at least a book a week so, at 54 books, I think I met it.

I'll post my top favorite reads of 2009 in the next post or so but for now I thought I'd toss out the total list for you. An asterisk means it was a Book Club choice and I mention when it's a book I'm rereading.


1. Sugar Plum Dead by Carolyn Hart
2. The Girl With the Phony Name by Charles Mathes
3. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
4. Index to Murder by Jo Dereske
5. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
6. Muder in the Rue de Paradis by Cara Black
7. The Onion Girl by Charles DeLint
8. Circle of Five by Dolores Stewart Riccio


9. 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin
10. You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
11. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller*
12. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
13. Moonheart by Charles DeLint
14. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik


15. Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress*
16. Small Favor by Jim Butcher
17. Death at Death's Door by Jill Thompson
18. The Sandman; Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman
19. Defending Angels by Mary Stanton


20. Valiant by Holly Black
21. The Harlequin by Laurell Hamilton
22. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
23. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
24. Charmed Circle by Dolores Stewart Riccio


25. The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
26. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines *
27. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
28. The Divine Circle of Ladies Making Mischief by Dolores Stewart Riccio
29. The Wild Trees by Richard Preston


30. The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle* (reread)
31. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
32. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman * (my choice) (reread)
33. Incantation by Alice Hoffman
34. Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton


35. Ironside by Holly Black
36. Spiritwalk by Charles DeLint


37. Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews
38. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
39. Candle Life by Venero Armanno


40. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
41. Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb
42. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
43. When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
44. The Road by Cormac McCarthy*
45. Undine by Penni Russon


46. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
47. Dracula by Bram Stoker
48. The Divine Circle of Ladies Courting Trouble by Dolores Stewart Riccio


49. Haunting Jordan by P. J. Alderman
50. Somplace to be Flying by Chales DeLint


51. Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews
52. Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast
53. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
54. The Gates by John Connolly