I’m thankful for…books!

reading is magicalYeah, I know it’s the day after Thanksgiving, but writing this post took longer than I thought it would. My inspiration came from my wardrobe. I didn’t have any Thanksgiving themed shirts when I was choosing what to wear yesterday, so I picked out my “Reading is Magical” t-shirt because Hey! I am thankful for books. Why not extend my love of reading to this post? In a previous year, I listed Foo4luv’s Illustrated Thanksgiving ABC’s, so this year I am giving you an alphabetical list related to books.



A is for Aslan

AslanI love C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. I can remember my dad reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us when I was a kid. Aslan rocks.

B is for (the) Bard

The BardI enjoy a good Shakespeare play. Once we moved to Missouri and encountered Forest Park’s annual Shakespeare Festival, we were hooked on seeing them performed live. BB has seen over a dozen of them and loves watching different versions/interpretations. Her current favorite is also one of mine: Much Ado about Nothing. She can’t choose between the Kenneth Branagh version or the more recent one done by Joss Whedon. I can’t say that I blame her. My first exposure to Shakespeare, however, was through books.

C is for (The) Count of Monte Cristo

Count of Monte CristoThat is one meaty, kickbutt book — unabridged or not.

D is for Denouement

denouementThere is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction when you finish a really good book.

E is for Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan PoeThe man was a master. I’m currently leaning toward The Cask of Amontillado as my favorite.

F is for Fairy tale

Scott Gustafson fairy taleFor most of us, the first stories we heard were fairy tales. There’s something for everyone — whether you prefer Disney, Grimm, or something more modern like The Princess Bride. (The illustration is by Scott Gustafson.)

G is for Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham

This is the first book that BB read to us. Merkin had purchased a Latin copy, and BB had to get the English version and correct him. Yep. Worked like a charm.

H is for Humor

Hidden Magic

I have a deep admiration for writers who can make me laugh. You should always have at least one standby book guaranteed to make you chuckle when you need cheering up.

I is for Irony

ironyA good, ironic plot twist can be exciting.

J is for Jane Eyre

jane-eyreThis is one of my favorite books. I just adore Jane and how she handles Mr. Rochester.

K is for Kira

KiraThough not my favorite character in Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note series, Kira (AKA Light Yagami) is the one I find most interesting. Given the power to kill simply by writing a person’s name in the death note, Kira believes his motives are pure enough to keep him from becoming corrupted by that power.

L is for L

LA brilliant, socially awkward sugar addict with chronic bad posture, L is the biggest threat to Kira’s reign of terror. Despite his puzzling habits and his tendency to be blunt to the point of rudeness, he is the most likable character in the Death Note series.

M is for Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak

Sendak is one of my favorite illustrators. The above picture is from his book What Do You Say, Dear?: a book of manners for all occasions.

N is for Nom de Plume

Mark TwainSamuel L. Clemens’ pen name, Mark Twain, is a term used by riverboat crewmen to denote whether or not water is deep enough for safe passage.

O is for Oscar’s Book

Oscar's_BookThis is one of my favorite Little Golden Books. Oscar spends the entire book trying to find ways to get people to leave him alone. My favorite of his many tactics is pictured above.

P is for Percy Jackson

Percy JacksonPercy makes a very entertaining hero. He’s witty and genuine.

Q is for Quiet Books

quiet bookThey’re great for keeping kids occupied in the more adult oriented church meetings, and you can find/make all kinds.

R is for (A) Room with a View

Room with a ViewThis is one of my favorite romance novels. Will Lucy marry the proper (stuffy) Cecil, or will she defy convention and choose George?

S is for Satire

Screwtape lettersSatire can be a great teacher.

T is for (J.R.R.) Tolkein

jrr-tolkienHe’s the creator of Middle Earth. What more need I say?

U is for Umpteen

what was I scared ofWhich is the number of times I read this book to my daughter. Surprisingly, it never lost its charm. Go Seuss.

V is for Vocabulary

vocabularyYou’d be surprised how many new words you can learn just by reading a lot of books.

W is for Watership Down

watership-downMy absolute favorite book — and not just because it’s about bunnies.

X is for Xylophone

x is for xylophoneEven Uncle Shelby (Shel Silverstein) couldn’t come up with anything else.

Y is for YA books

YA sectionI get a lot of my books from the teen section of the library. In fact, on my Goodreads account, my YA shelf is far bigger than any of my other shelves.

Z is for Zoo

Good Night GorillaThere are lots of books that involve zoos. This picture book just happens to be my favorite. There are very few words, but the pictures that tell the actual story are fantastic.

BratzBasher’s Birthday Bonanza!

Okay, there is no actual event we can really refer to as a “bonanza”, but it’s alliterative, people! Alliterative! Work with me.

BB turned 17 last week. I didn’t even partially freak out until early evening of that day (and even then it was only a minor, partial freak out) because, for some reason, my subconscious had tricked me into believing it was her 16th. Yes, I believed I was celebrating my daughter’s 16th birthday. Again. Well, I didn’t realize the “again” part until she pointed out how old she actually was (luckily before I made the mistake of asking her how it felt to be 16 -phew!) and voiced her hope that I wouldn’t freak out about how close she was to 18.

Anyway…as late as this is, I’m still making a valiant effort to publicly recognize my child’s natal anniversary with a fun post that revolves entirely mostly around her. I have chosen to do so by relating a recent dream she shared with me. It was actually a nightmare; however, as with most nightmares, daylight revealed it to be remarkably silly.

At the start of BB’s dream, she noticed people leaving fliers/pamphlets on people’s doors. It was propaganda designed to trick people into believing they should be happy about being confined to their homes:

“Ever get tired of looking at the same blue sky day after day? Well, now you don’t have to!”

BB quickly saw through this scheme and started trying to warn everyone that they were being controlled. Next thing she knew, men were trying to kill me by breaking my bedroom window in with a bola made from two large rocks connected by a chain. BB stuck tree branches in their eyes and chased them into the new subdivision adjoining our neighborhood. How they got that far while blind I have no idea. Who were these men? H&R Block employees. Yes, folks, the country was suffering a violent take-over by an accounting firm. At one point, BB attempted to spy on the opposition by making herself invisible. The baddies tried to find her by bringing out black lights. “You can’t hide from us!” they cried. “We know you have to be wearing a bra!” Apparently, the assumption was that BB was wearing a white bra that would show through her shirt in the black light, despite her being invisible. Yeah. Right.

After their initial plans were thwarted by BB, the accountants outsourced to Isengard, calling in orc soldiers to round up civilians and imprison them in their own homes. Some of the orcs bore the mark of Saruman (the white hand) on their faces, while others sported the same white hand on a square background of orange (the new logo for H&R Block). BB was facing an army of warriors created for evil. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not it was fortunate that she woke up at that moment before she could meet them in battle.

When BB told Merkin she’d dreamed of H&R Block taking over the country, he just said, “That’s not as far-fetched as you might think.”

BB’s been having elaborate, bizarre dreams since she was four — at least the ones she’s been able to remember and talk about. Obviously, she takes after me, but I think the part of her mind that chose an accounting firm to fill the role of “enemy forces” must have come from her daddy. Not that he views accountants as the enemy. No, it’s because he works in the finance department and knows all about money. BB has heard many stories of how bad financial management can enslave people.

I love you, BratzBasher! You are disturbingly creative and made of awesome!

mark of H&R Block

Back home

For some reason I have this line going through the middle of my screen (horizontally). Sometimes it’s white, and sometimes it’s black. I guess it depends on the color of the background. Weird. I wonder if it’s permanent. The screen was off the whole time we were gone, though. Huh.

BratzBasher and I are back from sunny CA. We had a good visit, but I’m glad to be home. I do not miss cleaning the cats’ litter box at all. My oldest sister has the next two-week shift with Grandma. I got to spend a couple of days with her before we left. She is a great cook and loves to play games. Grandma was excited for her to visit because she actually knows how to do Grandma’s hair for church.

We flew into STL after midnight and were starving, so Merkin took us to Waffle House. I had a triple dose of hashbrowns with gravy. Apparently there has been some rain here while we were gone (understatement of the year). Actually, Merkin said they didn’t have a single day when it didn’t rain. Maybe Missouri missed me? Nah. It’s just that season.

I came home to a long letter from a dear friend and a present from the woman I helped with the Beauty and the Beast costumes. She gave me a program from the play (which has my name in it — how ’bout that?) and a hand-stitched plaque that reads, “Live your best life”. It’s pretty cool.

I didn’t sleep at all on the flights home, so I actually slept in till after 1:00 this afternoon. I’m fully rested now, though. I made sure to unpack and shower before falling into bed last night, so I’m feeling refreshed and don’t have a full suitcase staring at me.

BB told me the only thing she didn’t like about her stay in CA is the bathroom attached to her room. It had the only toilet with a built-in bidet, which was activated by a lever on the right-hand side of the seat. She said she kept accidentally hitting it whenever she shifted position on the seat. She found it rather aggravating. She did not appreciate my laughter in the slightest, but I know she would have been laughing if it had happened to me instead.

There’s really not all that much to say. It’s Thursday, so we’ll probably go to the library at some point. We also missed our movie day due to travel and preparations for travel, so we’ll probably squeeze in a movie, too. We borrowed my dad’s copy of Das Boot, and BB’s looking forward to watching it in German with English subtitles. Have I mentioned she takes German classes at her high school?

I should get off my lazy butt and go do something productive now — and by that I mean chores. *shudder*

Funny things in California

BratzBasher and I are in very sunny California, staying with Grandma while my parents are in Europe for a couple of months.  I’m only doing a two-week shift, though.  My oldest sister is relieving me next week.  We’ll visit for a couple of days before she sends me home.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned Grandma’s schedule and all the work that taking care of the folks’ home entails.  Gosh their house is a lot of work.  I still need to go out and pick fruit in the backyard.  There are a gazillion apricots.  I’ve been given a couple of numbers of people who’d be willing to come pick them, but nobody has taken me up on the offer so far.  The only one of us that really enjoys them is Grandma.  My stepmom loves them — especially when they’re made into jam, but the freezer in the garage has a ton of frozen apricots and apricot jam.  I think she ought to consider giving that away, too.  At least clean out her supply before the next crop comes in.

The thing I really don’t like, though, is cleaning up after the cats.  I have to do the litter box today.  Don’t need the reminder of why I’m glad Michael’s allergic to the creatures, but it can’t be avoided.  Speaking of the cats, one of them brought a present into the house yesterday morning.  You’ll never guess what it was, so I’ll tell you.  It was a dead bat.  Gee, how thoughtful of them.  I disposed of it (without touching it, of course), but BratzBasher wouldn’t acknowledge either cat for the rest of the day.  She loves bats, and this one was particularly cute — despite being dead.  I pointed out that it was extremely unlikely that either cat actually contributed to the demise of the bat, but she didn’t care.

The cat’s only access point to the backyard is located in the master bedroom.  I’ve been instructed to leave the door slightly ajar so that they can come and go as they please.  There’s also a cat flap in the garage door so that they can get to the food, water, and litter box.  Digger, the younger cat, has shut the door to the master bedroom a couple of times.  He has to do it from the inside.  He’s locked Pirate out once, and locked the both of them in overnight.  I now check that door on a regular basis to make sure it’s still open.

As for Grandma, she has a rigid schedule, beginning with an 8 am walk up and down the street.  She has her schedule all typed up on a piece of paper, telling her what pills to take when and what snacks she likes to eat when — not to mention her two TV shows (Let’s Make a Deal and The Price is Right) and 8 pm games with whoever’s in the house.  Last night, we played Bendominoes.  When she’s not snacking or watching TV, she does her word search puzzles and roams the house killing flies.  There’s a chicken farm at the end of the street, and there are tons of flies in the area.  Some of them inevitably end up in the house.  Grandma’s armed with her flyswatter 24/7.  We often hear her in the bathroom, swatting flies and singing hymns to herself.  It’s kind of funny.

I cook two dinners every day because Grandma eats hers at 3:00, and BB and I prefer to wait until a more reasonable hour.  I’ve cooked more this past week and a half than I have in the past two months, I think.  Figured out how to make homemade hamburgers and fries last night.  BB didn’t keel over from food poisoning, so it’s all good.  I made up a menu for the week so that I wouldn’t have to figure out what to fix — plus it helps with the grocery shopping.

BB was appalled when she saw the spice cupboard.  The one we have at home is huge and still doesn’t hold all of our options.  I’ve learned that Merkin is a cook with an unusually large repertoire of recipes.  We’ve made do with what there is here.  I think the real annoyance is the cooking utensils.  I’ve been spoiled by Merkin’s collection.  I miss his silicone spatulas and pancake flippers that actually have the entire handle intact.  Both of the ones in this kitchen are broken to stubs.  It’s almost comical.  I think I’ll add a couple of things to the kitchen before I go.  I’m also putting them on the Do Not Call registry.  I’m surprised they aren’t already on it, but they obviously aren’t — they get way too many telemarketing calls — almost as many as the catalogs that come in the mail every day.

Merkin got me a new phone before we left MO.  I’m getting used to it.  It’s a smart phone, but it’s apparently not smart enough to notify me when I have an upcoming appointment.  I’ve programmed it to remind me, but it never does.  Maybe Merkin can figure it out when we get back.

I guess it’s lunchtime now.  I should feed the kid.

Finished Costumes

I’m finally finished with my share of the costumes for Beauty and the Beast. Here are some pics:

Shirt and Bodice

100_0251The white shirt is just a tee that I found at Goodwill for 34¢.  I put elastic in the sleeve hems, cut a new neckline, and added elastic to that, too. The bodice is a basic, ribbed tank top ($1.50 at Goodwill).  I used 1/8 inch ribbon to sew fake laces on the front, and I shortened the length to just 8 inches or so from the neckline (using a zig-zag stitch).

The Enchantress’ Dress

100_0252I found a dark green dress at Goodwill for just $2.00 and cut a slit up the front.  Then I found a bright, neon green, sheer fabric with glittery swirls on it to make an underskirt and lengthen the sleeves.  I also added a sash.  Of course, with the underskirt being so sheer, I also made a slip to go underneath (cotton and netting).

Here’s a close-up of the glittery swirls:

100_0253You can see them better if you click on the image to enlarge it.  I think it’ll look great under the lights.

I learned quite a bit working on these costumes, and tried some new-to-me techniques.  I think the hardest part of the whole thing was cranking out multiple shirts and bodices.  It got a bit tedious.  Now I’m on the theater’s radar as a potential future volunteer.  I hear next year’s play has pirates in it.  Anybody have any good, cheap pirate costume ideas?

sewing costumes

I recently volunteered to help a friend from church come up with costumes for a local children’s theater production of Beauty and the Beast.  And, yes, it’s the Disney-fied version with dancing cutlery.  I’m mainly helping with the enchantress and the village girls.

I’ve already learned a lot — for instance, I can now make short-sleeved peasant blouses out of t-shirts, long-sleeved blouses out of men’s dress shirts (thanks to a tutorial on youtube), and lace-up bodices out of tank tops.  Who knew, right? I’ll post pics of some pieces when I have more done.

In the meantime…can’t blog…sewing.  I’ve got more than a dozen blouses and bodices to make — not to mention the aprons and the fancy dress.  And yes, I am having fun.

What do you do when you don’t want to make lunch?

Well, I’ve decided that I’ll just blog until I’m hungry enough to actually fix something.  Laziness is my main problem with lunch.  Hard to be motivated enough to make something for just one person.  I’ll probably wind up having a sandwich, but that just doesn’t sound appetizing enough right now.

So what have I been up to?  Not much.  Thanks for asking.  Actually, the most exciting thing to happen to me since my last post was a sleep study.  Turns out I’ve got sleep apnea.  I pretty much knew that going in because Merkin has noticed I tend to stop breathing occasionally while I’m sleeping.  I needed a doctor to confirm it in order to get one of those CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machines, though.  Now I’m just waiting for the paperwork to go through, I guess.  In the meantime, I’m still alive and kicking.

I’ve been listening to the Glory soundtrack a lot.  That was a good movie — sad, but good.  My favorite tracks from are “Charging Fort Wagner” and the music for the closing credits.  The Harlem Boys Choir featured throughout the soundtrack is pretty amazing.  Here’s a snippet for y’all:

I’ve also been reading The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig.  It’s set in a post apocalyptic world (presumably Earth, but I don’t know what country because all of the old governments have fallen) where each birth produces twins: one perfect and one with either physical deformities or telepathic abilities.  The perfect twin (known as an Alpha) is accepted into society while the other (known as an Omega) is branded and cast out to fend for itself.  The catch is that whenever a person dies, their twin dies in that same moment.  It’s kind of interesting, but I haven’t really made up my mind about it yet.  I’ll let you know when I’m finished.

Okay, I think I want a sandwich now.  Maybe tuna.


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