Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a much better new age spiritual book

Back when I was manning the ref desk at the library, a young man from one of the county high schools needed help looking for the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo. It was showing available in the catalog, but wasn't on the shelf. I did some digging in the work area and located it for him. The book was an assigned reading piece for a class he was taking. I'd never heard of the title before, but it looked interesting, and I've read my fair share of books with the topic of alchemy in them. As the one I gave the student was our only copy at the time, I didn't have a chance to read it then and promptly forgot about the book until I happened to pull it from the bookstore stocking closet a few weeks back.

I decided to take it home and give it a whirl. I read it yesterday afternoon.

This is a much better book than "The Shack" on so many levels. The writing is better. The storytelling is better. The theology, a much more personal ingredient, appealed to me better. I loved the way the writer tied Islam and Christianity together in a harmonious way and created a middle eastern flavored setting that sang. The author is a Brazilian Catholic and infuses the story with a wonderfully managed mystical quality.

Santiago is a young man who leaves the seminary and becomes a shepherd in order to satisfy his urge to travel. He has a recurring dream of finding a treasure hidden at the pyramids in Egypt. After consulting with a gypsy and receiving advice and encouragement from a king, he sets off on his journey. The journey, of course, is more about discovering the treasure within instead of one buried under the sands.

If you want to drop some money on a new age-ish spiritual book, the dollars would be much better spent on "The Alchemist" than "The Shack."

Monday, March 30, 2009

a glimmer of hoope

The recent demise of several newspapers and the ongoing slide of TV journalism into tabloid press talking heads has left a huge void in the ability of the press to monitor our government in an objective and in depth manner.

Not that I don't love MSNBC and how they provide a much needed counterweight to Fox News. But, it is concerning that the number of 'voices' out there is shrinking and some real journalistic talent has been sidelined due to the fact that people don't read newspapers.

Let's hope the following plan comes to fruition and fulfills the need for some in depth objective reporting, because it is all about democracy and a free and watchdog-like press is a much needed ingredient.


Friday, March 27, 2009

more rain

It was a dark and stormy night.......

I couldn't resist. We've had a TON of the wet stuff this week. The yard is like a sponge. My flowers are bent over from all the water showered down on them. The only good thing is the pollen has been washed out of the air and down the nearest drain.

Today I'm finishing my cabinet cleaning, lining and touch up painting. Going to be a big effort as the kitchen is in my sights.

The hubby and the middle kid head east for a soccer tournament. The oldest and youngest kids are staying put with me. Not sure what our weekend will bring even though we've scheduled things; the rain may impact a lot.

So, the word for the weekend is: QUACK!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

my head hurts

I have a pounding headache this morning. I'm not sure if it was the front that came through last night and gave us more rain, or perhaps it is the rain we are supposed to get tonight. Either way, my noggin hurts and coming up with a theme for today's blog post is a bit out of reach this morning.

After I have a bite to eat I will take a few painkillers and hope that I can dull the throb before I head over to the library for sorting and stocking.

At least the sun is shining right now!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Not sure if this link will work or not, but it is an interesting point of view from a librarian about the Kindle and Sony Reader devices.

Worth a read.....

Our local newspaper recently laid off several staff members who I will miss. One was the editorial cartoonist, Bill Day. Cartoonists are a special breed. What takes writers paragraphs and paragraphs to get across, they can illustrate with one drawing. He never ceased to irritate the far right leaning conservatives in the region and he always made you THINK. I'm very sad to see him leaving the paper. Several others were let go as well including a writer who covered the arts and did excellent reviews of restaurants and such.

What does this mean for our local paper and for our access to differing view points and information? It means that once again the road to knowledge is narrowed and our ability to learn from different angles is hindered. This saddens me as so many people don't take the time or perhaps even have the ability to search out information and educate themselves. Ultimately it means people do not understand the importance of knowing why journalism must thrive in order for our democracy to flourish.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

spring cleaning

Now that our flowers beds are looking much better, just need to get fresh mulch delivered and spread, it is time to tackle the house. I'm going to start that chore today and have several projects in mind for the next few weeks.

Some of this spring cleaning means tackling my old writing desk. When the hubby convinced me to get a laptop, I stopped using the desk in our bonus room. The desk drawers need to be purged and reorganized, but why stop there? I bought shelf and drawer liner yesterday and plan on cleaning and purging all the drawers in the house. The trick will be to not get bogged down and to keep a steady pace as I go through and pitch things and reclaim others things.

I have to be in the right frame of mind to accomplish these chores, but I feel like I'm up to the task. First thing, though, is to just clean my house. Usually on breaks or vacations I enlist the kids to help me do the weekly cleaning. We all slacked off last week and didn't do a thing...well, I did wipe down the bathrooms, but beyond that, not a thing.

Time to pay the piper this week. I have my 'weapons' ready and plenty of time today to begin. My reward will be to finish in time to spend a few moments with the third King Raven book, "Tuck." I finished "Scarlet" last night....I'm enjoying this Stephen Lawhead series and as far as rewards go, being able to immerse myself in the Welsh Marches is quite a treat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

the next nine weeks

Spring break is over and the final nine weeks of the school year begin today with the first bell. This school year passed by at lightening speed. My youngest reminded me at dinner last night that next year is his final year at the elementary school. And so it goes.

We had a lovely weekend and were even able to sit outside and enjoy dinner last night. The weather was perfect and after wiping down the table and chairs, I convinced everyone to join me on the patio. Food just tastes better outside! Especially when it is 72 and sunny with a slight breeze and no bugs to speak of....

My birthday tree will be delivered and planted on Tuesday; pictures to follow of my redbud.

I'm almost finished with the second "King Raven" book, "Scarlet" and received a call yesterday from the library that the third book is in now. Today when I stock the bookstore I will check that one out as well.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

permit me

The oldest is off to the license bureau this morning to take the test for her learner's permit. When did I become the mother of a child who is old enough to get behind the wheel of a large vehicle and drive it on public roads?

My grandmother told me yesterday that age just sneaks up on you and before you know it your granddaughter is going to turn 44. She said it seemed just like yesterday she was taking me to McDonald's and we would eat our burgers in the car....no inside seating in those days.

My other grandmother, who passed away in January, would have celebrated her birthday this week as well. I thought about her a lot on Wednesday; it was such a pretty spring day and the flowers here are blooming and the birds are nesting. She loved plants and birds and told me one time if she believed in reincarnation she'd want to come back as a bird. Of course, then in her mischievous way, she said she wouldn't mind flying over some folk's heads and leaving them a memento!

This birthday has me in a bit of a twist. It isn't the physical aspect aging, I don't feel 44...if 44 feels a certain way. It is more the realization that my getting older means that everyone around me is getting older too...and the implications of that fact are a bit disconcerting for some reason right now.

Over the past 15 years of child raising, I've never been one to want to keep the kids at a certain age until now. I've always looked forward to the next stage, phase, accomplishment. With the school year winding down, and so many endings and beginnings happening in the next few months, I'd like to be able to stop the clock for a bit.

Permit me a bit of self indulgent fantasy for a short while...I can go ahead and turn 44 on Saturday, but everyone else needs to stop moving forward in time. Just for a day or so....just until I can wrap my head around certain facts like I will have two in high school, one finishing grade school and a few other hard truths.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

let's go fly a kite

The kids and I hit one of our local parks yesterday with a picnic basket full of goodies, a kite we'd bought last year for spring break, a blanket and some nail polish. Yes, nail polish is needed by certain teenagers when attending a picnic. I never knew soaking up some sun, enjoying some really tasty fried chicken and kite flying required precisely painted toe nails, but it does. Three of us now have taxi cab yellow toes.

Although the breeze didn't cooperate, we did manage to keep the kite aloft for short intervals and basically just had fun being together outside and away from the house. We didn't hike the boardwalk as the youngest is still recovering from his toe situation.

Hubby is staying home today and tomorrow and we may actually head south on Friday for a visit to Oxford, MS. We've never been down to Ole Miss and seen their town square. I hope it works out so we can take that drive. He is studying for a test and with all of his travels hasn't been able to cover enough material.

Speaking of material.....I finally forced myself to write the article for the spring book sale. For some reason I had a mental block right at the start with this request. I managed to get a first draft completed yesterday and hope to wrap it up today after I get a couple quotes from Friends who work the sale. I do hope donations are up a bit this week. We desperately need donations.

I also need to remember to pick up a book I placed on hold at the library. It is the second in the Robin Hood trilogy, "Scarlet." Looks like I will have some good reading for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

no trip to an 'ist' today

Yesterday was day two of the dentist and orthodontist visits,plus we added in a visit to the podiatrist as the youngest had a very nasty looking ingrown big toenail. Out it came and now I'm nursing his toe for the next several days.

I hope we don't have to grace any local waiting rooms with our presence today. No trips to anyone whose career ends in 'ist.'

The oldest is reading "Midsummer's Night's Dream" for her honors English class. She is enjoying it and seems to get the humor Shakespeare employed in his comedies. I borrowed a movie version from the library, the one with Calista Flockhart, Rupert Everett and Michele Pfeiffer. I told her we'd watch it as soon as she finishes the play. While the youngest and I were at the foot doctor, she watched "The Da Vinci Code" with her sister....they had fun seeing Paris again via the camera lens.

Not sure what we will do today...it depends on the foot outlook. Once I know how much walking he is up to, we may picnic and haul out the kite if the winds are favorable.

Best news today, a library meeting was called off. I was dreading this one and am so glad it has been canceled.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

teeth and trilogies

While my teeth were being cleaned yesterday I was able to listen to one of the hygienists lecturing two teen aged boys on good dental practices. She was very specific on how to floss, how to brush, how to take care of those teeth or else they'd both be in dentures and then how cool would they be. The nice lady cleaning my teeth and I both chuckled. Then she added, "Kids are in just too much of a hurry when it comes to brushing."

Heck, I think we are all in too much of a hurry when it comes to a lot of things.

We are back to the dentist today for the youngest to get his teeth cleaned. We are also back to the orthodontist to get a small adjustment made to the middle kid's bottom wire, it is poking her cheek in the back. Beyond that, I'm at the bookstore for half a shift today. My fellow stockers are going to cover the second half of my shift as my kids are all on spring break this week.

I wasn't able to get the rest of the Robin Hood trilogy, but was able to put books 2 and 3 on hold. One of the really nice things about discovering a new book series once all the books are published is you don't have to wait a year for the next title to come out.

What did I say about being in a hurry?!

Make sure you wear some green today....Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Here are three totally mismatched thoughts for the day.

"Hood" by Stephen Lawhead is a wonderfully crafted book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this take on the Robin Hood legend. Set in Wales and the Marches during the reign of William the "Red," it explores the very familiar tale and brings new life to the characters of Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John. I'm looking forward to going to the library today and getting the second and third books in this trilogy.

Is personal privacy becoming a thing of the past? Do you realize that with all the cell phones out there that your photo can be taken and published by anyone at anytime? Hubby and I had an interesting conversation that spun out of a discussion he had with some of the other soccer dads about spring break in Florida, the escapades of college kids, and how so much has changed. You can't leave anything behind you these days...it all is documented, by someone. The conversation was initially prompted by an interview we watched with Michael Phelps and the photo of him smoking pot. Any stupid mistake a kid makes, and they will make them, can be caught on camera and distributed to the world. Pretty heavy stuff when you stop and think about it.

Now that the teams have been picked for the Big Dance, I have to go through and pick my winners for the bracket pools. This is one of my favorite times of the sporting year....next to watching my kids play soccer. Which, by the way, I enjoyed for the entire weekend. Four games in two days is a bit much....they had mixed success. Won one, lost two and tied one. They should have one the last game, just couldn't find the back of the goal after three amazing opportunities. The oldest had a good tournament and my washing machine had a good workout rinsing away lots of sand and dirt from all the slide tackles and diving stops she made either on the field or in the goal.

Friday, March 13, 2009

spring break dead ahead

As soon as the youngest hits the front porch this afternoon, spring break will be officially underway. For the first several days we will have an extra 'body' in the house. The neighbor's greyhound is hanging out with us while they travel to Texas. We also have four soccer games over the weekend since the oldest is playing in a local tournament. Beyond those two 'events,' I'm not sure what else we are doing.

Some possibilities are......going to the movies; taking a nature hike, having a picnic, working in the flower beds, spring cleaning the house and going bowling. Of course, the weather will impact a lot of what we will or will not do over the next week.

I'm hoping for some sunny and warm days. I'd like to sit outside with a good book, a tall glass of lemonade and soak up some much needed vitamin D.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

new twists on robin hood

I browsed the new fiction shelf at the library late last week and came home with several new books. I also found a book, third in a series, that looked intriguing and prompted a visit to the regular stacks to search out books one and two. I was excited and pleasantly surprised to find that the library had those titles as well. Since I already had an armful of titles, I only checked out the first book.

The book is "Hood" by Stephen Lawhead. I've read most of Lawhead's other titles and really enjoy his writing and his story telling. This book is about Robin Hood...but with Lawhead's characteristic historical twist on the tale. I read about a fourth of the book yesterday and look forward to reading more today. This tale's Hood is a Welshman who is the heir apparent to a 'kingdom' just given away by William the Conqueror to one of his Norman lords. Lawhead has included other Robin Hood characters like Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John.

I'm always amazed when a writer can take a well loved tale peopled with very familiar characters and inject new life, history and drama. What was old is now all new again!!! I love it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the play is the thing

If you know me, you know I'm not a huge fan of musicals. So, when the middle kid said she was trying out for the spring musical at the middle school....like any good Mom, I cheered on her efforts and then wondered to myself, exactly what type of singing would I be subjected to over the course of the next several months? It isn't that I don't like music. I do. I just don't get the whole 'stop the action and burst into song' concept in musicals. My only two exceptions are Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews and Andrew Lloyd Weber's, Cats. I could watch those two musicals any day of the week...especially Mary Poppins.

Fortunately, she earned a role, but didn't have any 'solo' vocal performances. She only had to practice lines and not songs. And as it is the middle kid, she did all the work without any prompting, cajoling or bribery. She is totally self motivating and quite the Type A personality, if you buy into that concept.

Last night the oldest kid and the youngest kid and I sat in the auditorium and watched this production of Grease. The kids did an amazing job. The audience clapped, laughed and cheered in all the right places. The teachers in charge of this endeavor may need a trip to a posh spa to recover, but they did a wonderful job of giving these students a taste of the theater. The choreography was cute, the sets were adorable and the costumes were nicely done.

Our "Patty Simcox" looked prim, proper and the perfect know it all....after the show, she loved her dozen roses and devoured a good chunk of triple chocolate cake at one of our favorite eateries down at the town square.

Whether or not she has the 'bug' is to be seen. The local high school has a well regarded and ambitious drama department.

Who knows? More musicals may be in my future.......

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ghost at work

My friend Anne read this book and did a very nice review of it on her blog. Anne is one of my 'followers' so click on her link and go read it for more details on this novel. No point in reinventing the wheel, so I'm not going to do a lengthy overview of the novel. Carolyn Hart's latest mystery series begins with "Ghost at Work" and I'm delighted to know that we will be reading more about Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her involvement with heaven's Good Intentions Dept. This was a wonderfully plotted mystery peopled with great characters, plenty of local color and a heavenly heroine. Hart is the author of the Death on Demand series and the Henrie O series. Think I will be checking out this writer's backlist. She's good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

fuzzy headed

I keep telling myself I really don't mind the time changes in fall and spring, but the fuzzy headed feeling that seems to last for a few weeks isn't pleasant. This morning the coffee can't brew fast enough.

I had a lovely visit yesterday with my friend Kim. I wish my schedule allowed more free Sunday afternoons.....we could sit and visit and then browse the shelves for hours and hours.

Up this week, only soccer practices, no games. The next two weeks are spring break vacations for local schools, hence most teams will be down players and it is difficult to schedule games for that reason. We also get to witness the theatrical debut of the middle kid. All of her hard work is about to pay off as she takes the stage on Tuesday night for the first time. I need to hit the florist and have a big bouquet of flowers for our 'star.' The oldest has a couple of projects to finish this week; third quarter is always loaded with projects. The youngest finished his first ever bowling league and is ready to sign up for more. Thank God we finally found something 'sporty' he enjoys! Although I think he'd rather analyze why the ball spins the way it does and the trajectories of the ball instead of actually knocking down pins. It will come in time, I'm sure!

The "I, Mona Lisa" book I started to read is ready to head back to the bookstore. I have read it before....it took a few chapters, but when Leonardo Da Vinci is given the task of finding Guiliano Medici's murderer, it finally set the alarm bells off. I remember thinking, "Cool, Da Vinci as a sleuth!" Good book, but with so many other books out there, I'd rather read something new. We had the opportunity to see Guiliano's shirt from the day of the murder at an exhibit in Memphis shortly after we moved here. He was stabbed to death in a cathedral in Florence. His brother, Lorenzo, carried out swift and final retribution for his brother's murder. But, the book goes into all of that with a nice side plot about young Mona.... check it out!

Oh, thank goodness....the coffee is finally ready! Happy Monday :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

friday recap

Some weeks it is best to just focus your efforts on maintaining the status quo. The first week of the month is that sort of week with all the Library-Friends events that happen plus the normal family-kid activity events on the schedule.

I have a special treat lined up for myself on Sunday. I'm going to escape to B&N and meet my buddy Kim for coffee and conversation. We've been trying to get together since before Christmas and I have high hopes that Sunday will give us the chance to sit and visit for a good amount of time. I can't wait to hear all the exciting things she is doing with her book(s), promotions, blog-radio show etc.

Still haven't made any more progress in the Mona Lisa book, but perhaps today, after I clean the house, I can carve out some time to read.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

meetings, money and soccer

I survived procurement day, although the checkbook is substantially lighter, and even made it to my meetings on time. The first week of the month means I'm at the library every day for one reason or another. Today is no exception as I go to help sort donations, stock the store and take care of my managerial paperwork. I hope to get home in time to toss a pork loin in the oven and put my feet up for a bit before I have to begin the evening's soccer events. The fields were actually in decent shape last night for the oldest daughter's game...which reminds me, I do need to Shout her uniform and get it into the washer. She didn't come out of the game unscathed and brought quite a bit of dirt home with her after their 4-1 victory.

The only thing I didn't find time to do was read more of the Mona Lisa book....and I doubt I will have time for it today either. Some weeks the best thing you can do is to keep your head above water and pull for the shore....in this case the shore being spring break.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

mid week melting

I think the temps in town will finally reach the point where the last remaining bits of snow will melt away. Now, just how soggy the grass remains is our next issue. Soccer has been called off since Saturday due to weather and ground conditions. When I stepped on the grass it was like stepping onto a large kitchen sponge. I can also attest to the muddiness as every time the dog goes out to do his business, I must wipe off four very muddy paws before he is allowed to roam the house. Wrestling with an 80 pound mutt isn't the best part of Spring.

Beyond whether or not we have soccer tonight or tomorrow, I must refill the pantry today and complete that chore in short order as I have a meeting at 12:30. Shopping isn't the hard or odious part of 'procurement' day...it is hauling all of it inside and putting all of it away. Ugh.

Up next on the reading pile is a book by Jeanne Kalogridis, "I, Mona Lisa." Kalogridis blurbed the "Eve" book I read this weekend, so I when I stumbled across her book in our bookstore, I had to bring it home and give it a whirl. So far so good, except I think I might have read this book before....the beginning is weirdly familiar, but I haven't hit a scene yet where I know for sure that I've read this already!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

hounded to death

Sister Jane Arnold rides off sleuthing in yet an other mystery from Rita Mae Brown. "Hounded to Death" is the latest in Brown's series books featuring Master of the Hunt, 73 year old Jane Arnold. I love these stories for a number of reasons.

1. The heroine isn't young in age, but is definitely young at heart.
2. The stories feature dogs, birds, horses and foxes who talk to each other and wish the humans could truly understand them.
3. I enjoy learning about what makes a good hunting horse and a good foxhound.
4. The cast of characters is always well rounded, vivid and unforgettable.
5. The mysteries are always solid, the writing is clean and simple and the books read quick.
6. Sister Jane has opinions and isn't afraid to share them!

Even though the books in this series could be read as 'stand alone' books, don't. Go back and find the first ones and read from that point forward. Brown does an excellent job of growing Sister Jane's world and you don't want to miss one chapter, one book in that journey.

After I finish one of these, I want to take hunt seat riding lessons. I took western seat lessons for a couple of years, long ago....and loved it. Then I got engaged and had to start saving those extra pennies for the wedding!

Monday, March 2, 2009


I've read a fair amount of Biblical fiction from the likes of Anita Diamant, Orson Scott Card, Marek Halter etc. Some are better than others, but all show the bias of the author's own religious beliefs, which is only natural and to be expected. The interpretation of the Bible is big business....if you haven't figured that out already.

Elissa Elliott's debut novel, "Eve" is about the first woman...yes, that Eve. The story isn't just told from her point of view. We also see the world through the eyes of her three daughters. Elliott does a great job of bringing these characters to life and endowing them with very real and gritty human emotions. The Adam and Eve story already has conflict, Elliott enhances it and makes it even more approachable and human.

She takes the reader into the Garden, gives them the experience of the Fall, the expulsion, the survival experience that ensues. She shows us the relationships between Adam, Eve and their children and Elohim (God). She takes a well known story and adds depth, layers and complexity.

Good read.