Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ta ta, 2013...

Not sorry to see you go.  It wasn't all bad, but things sure started out stressful!  Here's our year, in one picture for each month...

Syd has taken up sitting on Michael's lap as his latest daily routine

January:  Broken leg, broken leg, broken leg...

Michael the hobbler...

February:  Still broken, but slightly more mobile!  We started to get out now and then.

Blueberry patch is looking great!

March:  Time to get back into the garden!  We had a couple of sunny days and I was able to clean up a bit.  A rare dry day during a very wet spring.

Jonathan Evison

April:  Hosted a great author and wonderful person for our annual Whidbey Reads event - Jonathan Evison!  The secret highlight was stopping at 7-11 so he could buy a banana.

Full bloom

May:  It may be wet, but look at those lilacs!  It was a bumper spring for them.  And there's one of our new apple trees!

The sun brightens Syd quite nicely!

June:  Syd the Squid!  Our dear friend Christine painted this incredible likeness of Syd for our gate.  She paints great Sasquatches too!

Our favorite place in Seaside

July:  A very busy month!  We had a fun 4th of July celebration drinking margaritas with our friends, then headed to Seaside, Oregon to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.  Syd didn't get along with my brother's dogs, so it ended up to be kind of stressful.

Our trailer at home!

August:  We got a trailer!  A 1967 Aloha.  The vintage trailer bug bit us bad, and we were very lucky to find this beauty nearby for a good price.  I had a crash course in pulling a trailer, and after a crazy couple of days running around we got it home.  Never mind that drive home in pouring rain with the no taillights...

Nice trailer!

September:  We took the trailer out for our first trip - a loop around the east side of the Cascades, with stops in Yakima (HOT), Lake Chelan (WET), Winthrop, and one last night at Bayview State Park, just a few miles from home.  We were going to go pick Nolan up at Yellowstone, but he found his own way home and all things considered, that was probably for the best!  We can't wait to take the trailer out again when the weather starts to warm up.

Much larger than I expected!

October:  What a year for fungi!  I saw my first ever amanita muscaria.  COOL!

Syd helps Nolan with his homework

November:  Nolan graces us with his presence now and then.  He's loving college, and doing very well.  Syd is happy to be at the center of attention, as always.

i love my squeaky pencil!

December:  A long year ends on a happy note.  Michael's leg is much better, and he's getting around more and not using a cane or any other type of walking aid.  Syd is happy as ever, and I can't complain.  I hope 2014 continues on this happy note.

Happy New Year!

A year in reading - part three

Here it is - I know you've been waiting with baited breath for the last installment of my reading wrap-up.  Thanks goodness for Goodreads - how else would I keep track of all of this?  I actually find Goodreads to be a very useful tool when people ask for book recommendations, or when I'm looking for information about a book.

I read a lot in the last four months of the year - including some really good YA fiction.  Here's the list...

September - 7
  • Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book - Lynda Barry
  • The Bartender's Tale - Ivan Doig
  • The Dog Stars - Peter Heller
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan
  • The Gallery of Regrettable Food - James Lileks
  • My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs - Matthue Roth
  • Carnivores - Aaron Reynolds
October - 14
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick
  • Amphigorey Also - Edward Gorey
  • Chiggers - Hope Larson
  • More Than This - Patrick Ness
  • Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants - The Oatmeal
  • Everything, Vol. 1: Collected and Uncollected Comics from Around 1978-1982 - Lynda Barry
  • Poopy Claws - Gene Ambaum
  • Amelia Cole and the Unknown World - Adam P. Knave
  • Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book - Diane E. Muldrow
  • Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan - Shaun Tan
  • Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks - Ken Jennings
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas - Jim Ottaviani
  • Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod - Brian Kesinger
  • Vader's Little Princess - Jeffrey Brown
November - 13
  • Far Far Away - Tom McNeal
  • Should You Be Laughing at This? - Hugleikur Dagsson
  • Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy - Nathan Hale
  • Boxers - Gene Luen Yang
  • Saints - Gene Luen Yang
  • The Ghost Prison - Joseph Delaney
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - Michael Pollan
  • It's a Book - Lane Smith
  • Farm Anatomy: Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life - Julia Rothman
  • Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
  • Grumpy Cat: a Grumpy Book - Grumpy Cat
  • Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year - Ramsey Beyer
  • Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan
December - 9
  • Concrete Island - J.G. Ballard
  • Frankenstein - Rick Walton
  • Letting it Go - Miriam Katin
  • The Encyclopedia of Early Earth - Isabel Greenberg
  • Bad Houses - Sara Ryan
  • Mr. Wuffles - David Weisner
  • Momentum - Saci Lloyd
  • A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
  • The Runaway Windmill - John R. Erickson

16 Graphic Novels/Comics
4 Fiction
4 Non-Fiction
10 YA Fiction
1 J Fiction
8 Picture Books
(2 Audiobooks)

Looks like I went crazy in October and November!  I must have been in need of some humor, as I see several of the books I read during this time period were humor.  No wonder, with the state of the world what it is!

My favorites of the year are definitely in this batch.  If I had to choose one book of the year to recommend to people, it would be The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Very few books that I've read have had such an impact on my attitude about anything.  I think the only other book, which I read MANY years ago was Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander (yes, that's his real name).  Pollan's description of four very different meals, and they way in which their respective bits ended up on the plate is very interesting and eye-opening.  You'll never look at things the same when walking through the grocery store after reading this book!  Read it, then find your nearest sources of TRULY grass-fed, naturally raised meat and support them.

The YA fiction in this round was very strong.  Each year our library system holds a Mock Printz book discussion event - trying to agree on the best YA book based on literary merit.  The event is always fun, and after we pick our "winner" we wait to see if we were even close to what the award committee picks (it's all done very secretly).  We have a strong group this year, including these two:

Just read them!

I'm getting a little tired of talking about books, but wanted to finish this wrap-up of my year.  Next year I'll do a monthly summary, so I don't have to cram it all into a couple of days.

Happy Reading in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A year of reading, part two

Here we are, back again for round two of my 2013 reading wrap-up.  May through August!  I'm rather enjoying looking back at what I read through the year - I've got such a crummy memory I've forgotten half of it already!

Or maybe they just weren't memorable books...

May - 6
  • Them: Adventures with Extremists - Jon Ronson
  • Black Helicopters - Blythe Woolston
  • Game Changer - Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Midwinterblood - Marcus Sedgwick
  • Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead - Rebecca L. Johnson
  • A Red Sun Also Rises - Mark Hodder
June - 8
  • Virtual Light - William Gibson
  • Will & Whit - Laura Lee Gulledge
  • Page by Paige - Laure Lee Gulledge
  • A Matter of Days - Amber Kizer
  • Scowler - Daniel Kraus
  • Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping - Melanie Watt
  • Scrivener's Moon - Philip Reeve
  • Scaredy Squirrel - Melanie Watt
July - 6
  • Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  • Islands in the Net - Bruce Sterling
  • Singularity - William Sleator
  • Sisters on the Fly: Caravans, Campfires, and Tales from the Road - Irene Rawlings
  • You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack - Tom Gauld
  • My Cool Caravan: An Inspirational Guide to Retro-Style Caravans - Jane Field-Lewis
August - 4
  • Little Century - Anna Keesey
  • Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories - Kelly Link, ed.
  • The Freddie Stories - Lynda Barry
  • Trailerama - Phil Noyes
4 Graphic Novel/Comics
5 Fiction
4 Non-fiction
8 YA Fiction
1 YA Non-fiction
2 Picture books
(2 Audiobooks)

Okay then!  My reading habits really smoothed out in the spring, but fizzled out later in the summer.  No surprise!  It was very wet and rainy early on, and the sun finally came out and there were other things to do with my time.

Highlights.  Hmmm...

I decided to get back into audiobooks, seeing as our car has a CD player and radio stations either suck or have dodgy reception.  Great decision!  I started off with Scrivener's Moon, the third in a YA series by Philip Reeve that I really enjoy (and that's saying something - I usually only read the first book a series but can't be bothered to go back for the rest).  Anyhow, the reader was fantastic.  I looked for more by her, and that led me to my second audiobook of the year - another YA selection.

Steampunk! was a fun collection of short stories by well known YA authors - Cory Doctorow and Libba Bray included.

I can't go on without mentioning Scowler, by Daniel Kraus.  I'm not generally a reader of horror, but after reading Rotters and declaring it the BEST book I read in 2011, I couldn't wait to read Scowler.  It was not an easy read, that's for sure.  It was truly and completely horrifying.  And so well written.    In a sea of YA first-person narratives (I I I, me me me), it was so refreshing to read a book that not only had a story line with depth, but also had such well-crafted prose.  I cannot wait until his next book comes out, just for the sheer pleasure of enjoying his skill at putting words together.

I don't have much else to say about this lot, other than a few quick bits.

Them: Adventures with Extremists - despite the fact it was written a decade ago, Ronson's tales of his encounters with the fringe elements of society was highly entertaining - and still very relevant.

Cloud Atlas - a good read, I've heard the movie doesn't cut it  Stick with the book.

Zombie Makers - GROSS!  And so fascinating.  We need more books like this!

I think that's enough for now.  Stay tuned for part three tomorrow.  Lots of great books to talk about.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Walking without the dog

It's rare these days that I take a walk without Syd.  He's a wonderful dog, but always having to be chief dog wrangler does put a damper on certain things when enjoying the outdoors.  Things like photography - slowing down, stopping, and taking pictures of tiny bits I notice along the way.

We decided to go out to Fort Ebey yesterday - without the dog!  It was good for Michael to exercise his leg, and I was happy to be able to relax along the way.  And not pick up poo, haha.  It's going to be a while yet before Michael can take over the leash.  Syd is very strong, and has a habit of stopping suddenly or turning quickly or lunging in weird directions - any one of which could do big damage to Michael's leg.

Anyhow, here's a few of the photos I took along our walk.  I was using my SLR, which by "modern" standards is getting pretty outdated.  It's a Canon EOS 20D - just a mere 8.2 mp!  The sensor is dirty (not good for sky shots), but it still takes photos with a much different quality than my point and shoot.

Look!  Walking without assistance!
Michael on the trail

Steely skies
Steely skies


Witches' butter
Witches' butter


I need to remember to slow down when I take my photos... less of them will be blurry!

I kind of miss spending time with this camera.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A year of reading, part one

I read a lot this year.  Not quite as much as I had hoped, but things picked up and I did fairly well.  I've decided to split my review into three parts.  January - April, May - August, and September - December (not done yet - three more days!).

I'm always kicking myself that I should read more.  Especially considering I'm a LIBRARIAN.  I had a couple of slow months, but did manage to step up my reading later in the year.  Part of it is dragging myself away from the computer, and part of it is finding a comfortable place to sit and read here at home (still working on it).  I determined halfway through the year that it was our couch causing the back pain I was experiencing.  No sitting on couch = no back pain!  When the weather was nice, I had a decent chair outside, and these days I sit on my computer chair for reading too.  Lame, but it's working out all right for now.  Perhaps that should be a major goal of 2014 - finding a decent chair to sit in!

Without further ado... my 2013 reading adventures, January - April.

  • January - 3
    • Zombies Hate Stuff - Greg Stones
    • Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
    • The Passage - Justin Cronin
  • February - 12
    • Chopsticks - Jessica Anthony
    • Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok
    • Me Write Book - Graham Roumieu
    • In Me Own Words - Graham Roumieu
    • Bigfoot, I Not Dead - Graham Roumieu
    • Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple
    • The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 - Thomas Ott
    • Drinking at the Movies - Julia Wertz
    • Battlepug, Volume 1 - Mike Norton
    • Marbles - Ellen Forney
    • Uses for Boys - Erica Lorraine Scheidt
    • Altered - Jennifer Rush
  • March - 4
    • Maggot Moon - Sally Gardner
    • The Twelve - Justin Cronin
    • A Little Book of Sloth - Lucy Cooke
    • Etiquette and Espionage - Gail Carriger
  • April - 5
    • The Lost Code - Kevin Emerson
    • Diary of a Creepy Ass Doll - Stacey Leigh Brooks
    • Flood! - Eric Drooker
    • Orleans - Sherri L. Smith
    • Lover's Lane - Rick Geary

12 Graphic Novel/Comics
5 Fiction
6 YA Fiction
1 Picture Book

Hmmmm, that's quite an interesting start to the year!  It almost looks as if I was reading lots of graphic novels to pad my numbers at the start of the year... ahem.

One (two) of the highlights was/were definitely Justin Cronin's books, The Passage and The Twelve.

Literature CRACK!  Everybody here at the house loved these books.


When will the third book be out?  Sometime in 2014, I hope!!!

And how can you go wrong with zombies - and clowns?!!!  You can't!  Straightforward humor.  I dare you not to laugh.

Flight Behavior was good, a classic Barbara Kingsolver - good story, strong environmental message.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - if you're from Seattle or nearby, you'll really appreciate the mocking of the whole upscale high-tech culture.  I sure did!

Graphic novels (non-fiction!) may seem like fluff, but there are some good ones out there that really pack a punch.   Marbles, for instance - which deals with the author's experience with her bipolor life.  Light and fluffy?  Not even.

Nothing too stellar in YA fiction, but nothing bad either.  I read some much better books later in the year, and will talk about them in the next two posts about this year's reading.

Duds - what about duds?!!

Diary of a Creepy Ass Doll for sure!  What could have had great potential just seemed like an overworked, trying too hard attempt at dark humor.  And it totally missed the point.

Don't bother!

Friday, December 27, 2013


How about that!  This is my 100th post on this blog - a very on and off blog.   I don't know that I have anything particularly groundbreaking to say, in honor of this milestone.

I had a bad allergy attack today, must have sneezed at least 50 times before it was over.  At one point we were walking through Safeway, and as I sneezed one last time (for that round) an old woman walking by said "gaaawd blesss you" in a really crotchety voice.


The whole thing just left me feeling thick-headed and ucky.

The good news is I had most of the day off!  So I was able to come home and lay on the couch until things stabilized.  It was mostly better after that, but I'm still a little off.  But enough of that!

This is my 100th post, and that deserves something much more interesting than my drippy nose and clogged sinuses.


I didn't say it was going to be any less gross!

And I knew that dish reminded me of an animal.  It finally came to me which one.  So appetizing!

I think my muddled head is pretty much done here for the day... but I do want to leave you with one more beautiful dish featured in the 1972 Family Circle MEAT Cookbook... make of it what you will.

I am very afraid now

Savory dreams!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

One last Christmas post...

The day is winding down, and I've got the last of my whiskey sitting in front of me.  It's been a nice, quiet day here with Michael and the dog.  Two long walks - in daylight!  I've been scanning some funny old books and have more to do before the night is over.

This has to be my favorite picture of all the silly vintage shots I found this year.  She's so dressed up, so gleeful over that cat clock, and there's a clown and a vaguely creepy doll in the picture!

I was going to write about the sad scourge of deflated inflatable decorations, but just can't be bothered at this point.  Maybe next year.  But here's a picture!

And one more - there's a group on Flickr just for these photos!

There were no survivors

And with that, folks, this holiday is a wrap!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And now...

... for something completely different.

Jumping, courtesy Philippe Halsman.


Well, here we are - Christmas Eve!  The big holiday is upon us.  Only for me, it's just not that big of a deal.  We don't have any particular "formal" things we do.  I got off work early - yay!  I'm drinking my annual eggnog and whiskey - YAY!  Roast chicken dinner tomorrow - YUM!

But things just don't feel "christmasy" at all.  It's a bit more like this...

I'm ready to move on.

But first - more pictures of annoyed cats.

Nice dress, Kitty!

Heh.  That one is my favorite.

And finally - polar bears.

I'm so bad!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pictures with Santa

There's nothing quite like the annual visit to sit on Santa's lap and let him know what you'd like for Christmas.  Photos are taken, and you have a lovely record of your chat with Old St. Nick.

It's a great idea - in theory.  In reality, well - that's another story.

That boy is remarkably calm, all things considered.

This poor lad, on the other hand, knows that something is HORRIBLY WRONG.

Sometimes, the children are not amused.

But then they grow up, and the tears fade.

At last, nobody is afraid of Santa.

Santa, on the other hand, is considering a new line of work.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


All right, I've been slacking off the last few days.  We've had some beautiful morning skies, which I normally don't have a chance to take photos of.  I made it home from the dog walk the other day in time to grab some photos.


Swirly sky

Then it snowed.  The first time in almost two years!

Blue bottle in the snow

Fortunately it was my day off, so I didn't have to worry at all about going in to work.  The roads weren't too bad, mostly it was slush.  I was glad it snowed, and glad it went away fairly quickly.

We drove past one of my favorite decorations here in town - Santa held captive!  He's been strapped to this chimney every year since at least 2007 (when I took this first photo of him).

Good heavens!  They're holding Santa captive, and he's strapped to their chimney!

I'd hate to see what they do to him the rest of the year...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hot mama!

There's nothing quite like a sexy Christmas tree lady!

Maybe a  sexy Christmas tree blob.

Oh YEAH...