Looking at a Book List

One of the people I subscribe to on WordPress (Greta Renee – When Almonds Bloom) just posted her A to Z book list. She made a list of books she wants to read. And I hope she does read them. When I was in high school and college I kept a list of every book I read. I filled a small note pad. Then I switched to a 3-ring binder with loose leaf notebook paper. It was a huge undertaking since it wasn’t just moving the titles to a new page. I chose to organize it by author instead of by book title. (I think my OCD was beginning to show up). Anyway her list jogged my memory. I went to the basement to see if I still had that binder. And the short answer is no. The longer answer is that I found it but it had been damaged during one of the more recent basement water events. It was moldy and I pitched it. However I was able to pull together a list of books I’ve already read. Now granted there are some books that are from a long time ago when I was in my “Must read all the classics so I can get into college” phase. And there are some that are from the backpacks of my children (because every parent wants to know what their kids are filling their brains with). So here is my A to Z list!
A – Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) – one of my favorites
B – The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – my current most favorite non-series book
C – Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer) – still makes me laugh
D – Doctor Doolittle (Hugh Lofting) – the series that made me want to be a veterinarian
E – Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) – fluff that my niece was reading but still fun
F – Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) – a classic that is so much better than any movie adaptation
G – Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut) – all his stuff is good and this is a gem
H – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J. K. Rowling) – this series is one I can reread again and again
I – I Sing the Body Electric (Ray Bradbury) – this story was in a compilation and so very thought provoking reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit (another favorite story that makes me tear up)
J – John Carter of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – my father gave me this and I was hooked
K – Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl) – had to read it in school and was mesmerized
L – Love’s Labour’s Lost (William Shakespeare) – one of the lesser known but so good
M – Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) – at one time a scandalous read, still was for a 13 year old…
N – Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell) – terrifying for me
O – Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck) – probably the only Steinbeck novel I’d ever recommend
P – The Picture of Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde) – like a train wreck that I couldn’t put down
Q – QB VII (Leon Uris) – horrifying account (part fiction and lots of truth)
R – Robot Dreams (Isaac Asimov) – yes you need to read this
S – Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein) – I read this as a precocious 12 yr old my parents were not happy
T – Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Marjorie Kellogg) – I cried
U – Ulysses (James Joyce) – in my classical phase Joyce is not an easy read
V – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C. S. Lewis) – lapped this up like milk out of a saucer
W – Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett) – read this in college and then saw the play
X – Xenocide (Orson Scott Card) – I like all the Ender series
Y – The Yearling (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings) – another school assignment that I really enjoyed (surprisingly)
Z – Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis) – The book was better than the movie

So there you have it. Can you make an A to Z book list? Have we read any of the same books??

Looking Blue

I’m not going to discuss depression. There I got that out of the way. Nor am I going to discuss my somewhat blue nail beds (especially in the winter) due to very poor circulation in my hands. I’m going to discuss eye shadow, specifically blue eye shadow. When I was first experimenting with make-up, the hip look included frosted white lips and baboon blue eye shadow. My mother didn’t subscribe to that fashion so she didn’t own any white lipstick. Her eye shadow palate was in greens and earth tones. My friend Anita’s mother bought make-up for her. You see Anita had a problem – trichotillomania. It is an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, usually from their scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Trichotillomania is a type of impulse control disorder and Anita had it bad. She had pulled out all her eyelashes and had started on her eyebrows. In an effort to persuade her to leave them alone she was given the make-up. It is really hard to apply mascara if you don’t have lashes. Anyway, we would spend lots of time attempting to apply eye make-up to look like the pictures in the magazines. At first we would both end up looking like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show.

We both gravitated to blue since it was the in color. Anita was blond so she didn’t look too bad in blue. With my bright red hair, I looked frightful. What we wanted to look like was Twiggy.

We never did get it right. Instead we discovered what didn’t look good and what did – with a little help from Anita’s mother and to a greater extent from her little brother who was unmerciful in his critiques! So for many years I refused to wear blue eye shadow. It just wasn’t in my repertoire. Times change and I now own 2 different blues – a frosted turquoise blue that leans to aqua and a light blue from Clinique.

Just when I start to get comfortable wearing blue eyeshadow, the game changes and everyone is wearing navy blue shadow. The young girls look like they were socked in the eye. I don’t think I’m going to join this trend in blue!

Looking White

I would make a good vampire. I shy away from direct sunlight. It burns me. I am an expert at drawing blood and I enjoy it. And I’m very pale – a deathly white color in the winter. I blend into the scenery in a snowy landscape. I wear sandals and people sneer at me and comment, “Why are you wearing white socks with sandals? It isn’t fashionable!” Sadly I am not wearing socks. It is just my normal skin tone. Being as it is summer, I broke out the white Capri pants. I put on a sleeveless tunic top and stepped into the day. As I trudged across the parking lot headed into work, a coworker intercepted me. She was looking concerned. She had thought I wasn’t wearing any pants! Of course as she got closer she realized I did have clothes on but felt compelled to let me know that from a distance I appeared to be wearing a micro-mini dress. I laughed but it made me think. Is there such a thing as being too pale? As a youth I had fervently hoped that my freckles would run together and make me look tanned. I tried, I really did, to tan. I slathered myself in suntan oil and stretched out on a towel with my best friend. She got a tan and I got burned. Fried bacon crispy burnt. I have always questioned the health benefits of tanning beds and I have been vindicated with all the dire warnings of skin cancer risks.

I think I was born too late. If I’d been born in the early 1800s, I’d have been considered a real beauty. I wouldn’t have had to take arsenic to become pale. I would have been right in style wearing a wide brimmed hat and long sleeves in the summer. Alas I was born into a time when being tan indicates health and vigor instead of shouting that you are poor and a common laborer. So to recap I have the ability to turn 2 colors, red and white. I suppose that’s pretty talented. So here is a limerick (not my favorite form but I’m forcing myself to stretch).

I’m as pale as they come
Until booze I’ve had some
Then I turn red
Pass out like I’m dead
And wake feeling real dumb

Looking Red

I was discussing food with a visiting researcher. The discussion turned to curries from around the world. I am not an expert on curry. My experience is fairly limited compared to those from countries where curry is a way of life. The pride of many in the US concerning their “hot dish” or “casserole” pales when you listen to the curry critique of someone who has lived their whole life where each city and each region has its own special curry! In my cupboard there are several curries: a yellow curry from Thailand, a red curry from India, and a yellow Japanese curry. I have tried red, yellow, and green curries. I’ve had curried lamb, curried vegetables, pork curry, curried rice, curried eggs, chicken curry, beef curry, goat curry, and even curried shrimp. I like curry. However I am a Midwesterner and my palate is not so well developed that I can handle the very hot curries. I assume that the tolerance for the supremely spicy curry is developed over a lifetime – sort of like Iocaine powder. Perhaps you must be weaned onto it. All I know is that as I have gotten older I’ve become more and more sensitive to peppers and thus more sensitive to curry.

Thus this post. My friend, the visiting researcher, brought me a curry dish made with flat rice (Chura). I was warned that it was “a little spicy”. It was made with a special red curry particular to her home town of Mysore in India. It was very tasty. A least the first bite was. After my taste buds registered the flavor, my entire tongue, lips, throat and even my teeth burst into flames. I’m pretty sure my eyebrows were singed when I exhaled. I had attempted a second bite since everything had gone numb. However my body decided that one mouthful was sufficient. My face became hot. I broke out in a sweat. I turned red. The last time something like this happened I had a Malaysian dish that was spicy and I ended up with hives and fortunately was able to take some antihistamines and use prescription steroidal cream on my itchy spots and persistent rash. This time I just turned red – all over. We are talking about vine ripened Indiana tomato red. It looked like I had body paint on! I took a couple antihistamines and it had faded by the time I woke up from my nap. I had a little residual redness at the edge of my hairline and in my eyebrows. Sparky finished it off but I’m not sure I can handle anything more than a very mild sweet yellow curry… I’ve recovered completely but I can’t bear to tell her that it was too spicy.

Looking to Play Politics

Politics are a dirty business
With scratching backs and greasing palms
Ending up with muddy hands
Or worse bloody fingers
Ask Lady MacBeth
How that worked out
In the end
For her

It must be the mess the government has gotten itself into spilling into everyday lives, or the culture. However you want to spin it, I find that the political climate is impacting my life in ways unimagined previously. Politics in the work place have always been present. However they were subtle, running as a faint subtext to decisions. Often they were undetectable. But now they are blatant. Every word is imbued with the flavor of politics and presented as a garnish for someone’s pet project. It is rampant that all the people who are somebody have taken their once hidden agendas out of the closet and from under the table and plopped them down for everyone to see. It reminds me of the middle school lunchroom. There was no mistaking who was popular. There was no question about the direction cliques were headed. And there was no stopping the bullying and coercion to get what the powerful wanted.

I personally have avoided the political games for 26 years. I refused to play. It resulted in walking around with a target on my back. I did my job and I did it well. So well that I was immune to the political machinations of others. Times change and I find that my failure to play the game has put me at a tactical disadvantage. Nonetheless, I can sleep well knowing I have not compromised my ethics, my beliefs, or betrayed my core values.

Looking at an Empty Shelf

Stand back – I’m going to vent and it might get messy. Not really. It actually got very clean and will get even cleaner if that is possible.

The ceramics studio is having a studio wide clean out. There has been an edict posted, emailed, snail mailed, and announced in person to every person entering the studio. I have been informed and reminded numerous times that as of July 27th there will be NO wet clay work in the studio. The last bisque firing will be on August 1st. The last glaze firing will be on August 10th. All completed work must be picked up by August 17th. Sounds reasonable. But I have a punch card for 6 sessions (at $10 each) and this schedule means I will have 3 sessions in which I can’t play with clay. It will cost me $10 to go in and glaze a piece. It will cost me $10 to go in and pick up a piece. And then there is the shelf clean off. My shelf must be cleaned off – that is completely bare by August 17th. I have 20 years worth of stuff stored in a very compact and organized space. I have begun the removal of my equipment. I will be removing the rest tonight. Since I’ve had to tote it home I’m considering if I want to ever haul it back.

My shelf is 30″ long and 24″ deep. The shelf height (for me) is 20″. The word is that the shelves are being dismantled and after the floor is cleaned they will be reassembled. The theory being spouted is that the shelves are of various sizes (heights) and they are going to make them all the same size. The plan is not being carried out by engineers. The people in charge are artists, specifically artists who do not have a clue about shelving units. This plan would work if A) the shelving units were all the same manufacturer and B) they were all the same width and C) used the same size bolts. As it is I foresee disaster. The shelves will be taken apart and all the pieces stacked on the tables. The bolts will be gathered and chucked into a bucket. Once the shelves themselves have been washed and dried (causing a huge reshuffling of parts) and the floor cleaned, there will be that moment when someone starts putting them back together. And they won’t get it right. And because they took so long to clean the floor and walls and shelves, there isn’t much time before the next session starts. We will come into the studio and there will be only half (if we are lucky) of the shelves put together. We will be assigned half a shelf with a promise of the shelves being reassembled soon. Soon will be a parental soon – which means maybe never. That will lead to the ceramics students joining the ranks of the jewelry, wood carving, painting, and stain glass students who tote their supplies and equipment to and from the studio every week. Sure we will be able to store a couple bags of clay on the shelf but we will have to keep the bulk of our tools in the trunks of our vehicles or at home. *sigh* I’m laying a cash money bet on this prophesy. If I win, Sparky is setting up a kiln for me in the basement!

If you have read this far I will reward you with the following tidbit. It is a mixed clay body using white stoneware and brown stoneware in equal parts. It is glazed in Mamo Yellow with Grass Green on the interior. The rims are left unglazed. It is a representation of the coccolith Syracosphaera sp. orbiculus from the East Equatorial Atlantic ocean.

The little white bar in the lower left is a 1 micron measure for scale. For reference a human red blood cell is about 8 microns across…


Looking at Reunions

Sparky’s mother decided to host a “family reunion” at the neighborhood recreation center. It was a perfect day. The weather cooperated with temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s and not a spot of rain. We had a slight breeze to keep the air moving. She had rented the smaller adult pool and the clubhouse from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. There were about 30 of us in attendance. It was a fun time. But what is a reunion without drama? so to recap:
1. The grill had a leak in the connection to the propane tank. Everyone retained their eyebrows despite Grandpa hitting the ignition button multiple times while the guys tried to tighten the hose. Seems he was oblivious since he was planning on getting in the water and left his hearing aids at home…
2. The hotdogs had to be cooked so the “strappers” (strapping young men) headed back to Grandpa’s house and loaded the non-leaking personal grill into the van and delivered it to the patio for grilling service. Lunch was not served until 2:00 PM… everyone was hungry!
3. Sparky had fun in the pool. He had applied sunscreen to his exposed skin – when he had his shirt on. As he was getting ready for bed it was obvious that he got a little too much sun on his chest/belly and back. I was able to apply some aloe vera gel with lidocaine to his burns. He was better in the morning.
4. I made Jello Jigglers out of TMNT Shell-Shockin’ Sour Apple. They were spectacularly bad. However there were none left over. I tasted them and did not like them. They tasted awful – sort of a cross between sour apple and jalapeno pepper flavor. No wonder that flavor was on sale 3/$1 for the big 8 serving boxes!!
5. Sparky’s oldest sister lost her sunglasses and I loaned her mine. At the end of the party as we were cleaning up they were discovered right where she left them – on top the refrigerator.
6. Son#1 and Son#2 assisted me in cleaning the clubhouse at the end of the party. We stacked the chairs, cleared the tables, packaged up the food, emptied the coolers, took out the trash and recyclables, and vacuumed the carpet. No one helped and no one thanked us. Hmm.

It wasn’t Jerry Springer drama. Yeah, I know our version of drama isn’t really drama. On the bright side Sparky’s mother’s younger sister and her husband came from St. Louis and stayed a couple of days. His sister and her husband visited from Wyoming. We had a nephew and his fiance come in from Chicago and another nephew visiting from Georgia. A niece and her brood of 4 were able to attend from Ft. Wayne. All in all it was a good time. The older you get the more important family becomes to you. Or maybe a better word than important is precious. Seems so many of the senior members of the family are passing. It is scary thinking that I am becoming a senior member!!

Matriarch holds court
Counts the grandchildren’s noses
Marks who gives her hugs
Tallies who’s naughty and nice
Changes the will yet again

Looking at van Gogh

I have always liked the art of Vincent van Gogh. As a college student I bought a print of his most famous “The Starry Night”. After several dorm room moves and then my first apartment it became too wrinkled, torn, and perforated to display. I tossed it. Over the course of life I’ve acquired several van Gogh reproductions: a crewel work of “Pink Peach Tree in Blossom” done by my Grandmother, a new (higher quality) print of “The Starry Night”, a small print of “Sunflowers” (the ones in a vase) and a companion “Irises” (the ones in a vase). To add to the collection I painted several in the style of van Gogh because it is easy to imitate and is a favorite of the Wine & Canvas franchise. I’ve done the Starry Night Tardis and Starry Night at Hogwarts. My latest was also a take on a van Gogh painting.

Irises is one of several paintings of irises by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, and one of a series of paintings he executed at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890. He started painting Irises within a week of entering the asylum, in May 1889, working from nature in the hospital garden. (Wikipedia)

We started with a blank canvas and painted it yellow. This was perhaps the easiest start I’ve had in awhile.

What followed was a mishmash of warm colors in oranges and red seemingly random in various locations on the canvas.

Then things got really crazy. The instructor was good however she didn’t give the instructions like they did in the past – 1 brush length from the bottom or 1 hand width from the edge. We made leaves with green, and mixing in either yellow, blue or white. She showed us how to make the flower and then urged us to start putting them on the canvas wherever we felt moved. By this point we were losing the natural light in the area (in the patio area inside the mall). It was a rush against time. Even though I had every intention of taking photos along the way, I forgot in the madness. Below is my finished (sort of) painting. I forgot to do the outlines on the leaves…

And this was the instructor’s painting… I think I did a great job.

The painting stopped at 9:00 PM when the restaurant turned off the few lights that were on essentially leaving us in a dimly lit mall. Although I really liked the instructor, the venue had much to be desired. I hope when she schedules the next van Gogh (she promised sunflowers) it is in a better lit area. If I’d been in the back row I might have been completely lost!!

Looking at My Red Shoes

Vain glory attracts the devil
Red slippers in church are worn
Boast that you are above the level
Nose in the air you scorn
The sensible footwear of others
Fashion over decorum and humility
Putting on airs for your sisters and brothers
But running from Satan you lack agility
Those red shoes tempt the soul
Sit in the pew too proud to hear
Hold you back from a heavenly goal
Give up all you should hold dear
Slide away before you know
Ruby slippers lead the way
To flames and fire raging below
Too soon too late to pray

I bought some bright red tennis shoes. Well, not really tennis shoes. They are casual lace up shoes with a soft rubber sole. I always wanted red shoes. But my mother was very practical and since red “wasn’t my color” red shoes wouldn’t match anything in my closet. It was probably for the best. I’m not sure where it originated but there are stories about red shoes being possessed and carrying the innocent wearer to hell. I suppose that was the reason that red shoes (if purchased) were never ever to be worn to church!

Looking Incredible

Sparky and I had a real date night. It contained all the elements for a super romantic evening. First we jumped into the sweltering car and added a passenger – Chippy. After 3 days of him snatching the bait and eluding the trap, he was caught. The plan was to turn him loose at Central Park on our way to church. We totally forgot that it was Summerfest at the park. Sparky double parked and released him. He took off like his tail was on fire! We then had to scrounge for a parking spot since the road was blocked off so the church parking lot was inaccessible. We enjoyed Mass in air conditioned comfort. From there we headed to dinner. Sparky decided on Hibachi Grill. It was busy but being a buffet we didn’t have to wait. And as a bonus they had squid! With time to spare we arrived at the movie theater and snagged the last seats that were together. Best seats EVER! We were center last row. The seats were designated ‘handicapped’ but they were wonderful – close to the exit (for bathroom breaks), lots of room, no other seats on either side, unobstructed view from the front, and special speakers!

We watched Incredibles 2. Everyone raved about Elasti-girl having the spotlight. I was enamored with Jack-Jack. And the raccoon was altogether adorable. In fact I can’t wait for the next installment – I hope it doesn’t take 14 another years to bring it to the big screen! The reviews and ratings put this one at 4.5 stars but in my book it is a solid 5 stars! However the Pixar short that played before the movie “Bao” was – – odd and um, well, disturbing. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Romance is alive
In comfortable shoes
Laughing together