Monday, December 10, 2018

The Broken Earth Series - Buy It, Read It

The majority of the time, my choice in reading material is romance literature. Not really "bodice rippers", as they used to be termed in my youth, but stories of people who find their one and only and get their 'Happily Ever After' (HEA) by the end of the book. I like happy endings and need some romance in my life. DH is NOT a romantic guy ... oh well. I've never been much for thriller/adventure genre books - no Jason Bourne for me - and I'm not fond of the Western genre even though I grew up in the Western USA. No - I want the violins, the red roses, and the meshing of personalities. 

Book One of the trilogy - "The Fifth Season" introduces
the reader to an earth that is familiar, yet unfamiliar
in so many ways. The plots twist and wind, and the
characters are rich and deep, and fallible. 

Before I started reading romance lit over the past few years, I spent decades reading science fiction. I hadn't read Sci-Fi or alternative world books for quite a few years, but came back to it with a series that I'm recommending to all of you, even though I'm still in Book 2 of the three-book trilogy. Turn your eyes towards and start reading the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. In 2016, the first novel in the trilogy, "The Fifth Season" won the Hugo for best novel, making Ms Jemisin the first black novelist to win the award. This was followed by the Hugo Win in 2017 for "The Obelisk Gate", the second book in the series, and in 2018, the Hugo Win for "The Stone Sky", the final novel of the series. 

Book Two, "The Obelisk Gate" is what I'm in the
middle of reading now. I'm totally hooked within
this plot, though. This volume is half-finished
and I can't wait to see where she goes with the
third volume. 

So - three books, three Hugo award winners for best novel of the year, and one extraordinary author whose world-building skills are amazing and unique. The books themselves take place in Earth in the far future long after our own civilizations have come and gone. I can't express it as well as others, so I recommend you check out the article here because it explains things so much better than I can with minimal spoilers. I can only point out how extraordinary it is to have an author - any author - win three Hugo Awards in a row. The last time the prestigious award was awarded to the same person in contiguous years was to Orson Scott Card for "Ender's Game" and in the following year for his sequel, "Speaker For the Dead". 

The third book, "The Stone Sky" was what really
cemented it in the "I must read these" category. Having
ANY author win the Hugo for three years running
for a single series was unprecedented. 

It's the holiday season and we're all gathering our wish lists together for the various Santas in our lives. You might want to consider adding the Broken Earth Trilogy to your list, I don't think you'll regret it at all. I'll return to my romance literature after this series, I'm working down a very extensive list of TBR, but the earth of N.K. Jemisin will remain with me for a long time to come. I know it's available in boxed sets in physical copies, but also that it's available in e-formats of various kinds. Buy it - read it - or put your name on the list and borrow it from your local library or e-library. It's an amazing trilogy. 

I'm off to the pool, have to swim off some of the excellent pizza DH and I had last night. Gotta love those BOGO coupons to our favorite pizzeria, but the calories can be intense. Have a wonderful Monday and start to your week, and I'll be back tomorrow. Happy Day to You!!! 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Holiday Food and Traditions

Do you have specific holiday foods or traditions? My mother always made a specific kind of cookie - melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness featuring nuts and vanilla sugar that she had to hunt all over town to find every year. I will remember the wonder of that tasty cookie until the day I die. 

My mother was from Austria and vanillekipferl cookies were a standard
part of her holiday baking. They melt in your mouth. If searching for
a recipe and it calls for egg, it's NOT a true kipferl. Kipferl are a shortbread
type of dough - no eggs allowed. Want a recipe? Follow the link

DH's mom didn't have food traditions, but they always had a fresh, decorated tree in their small living room and a set of handmade lit houses stretched across the fireplace mantle. DH and his father built the mantle set when DH was a child. Being good Catholics, their was also a creche under the tree. I think we have it in storage - DH brought a lot of their stuff home after we cleaned out the house when his Dad passed. 

DH's family had a creche similar to this one under their Christmas
tree each year. I'm pretty sure it lives in storage in our house
now, but it doesn't get set up - not my religious thing. 

When I wasn't working retail and actually had a life, we had a fresh tree in our downstairs den and a smaller artificial tree in our more formal living room. The upstairs tree was decorated with white lights and white and blue ornaments, the downstairs tree was an explosion of lights, ornaments (some of which were battery powered) and exploration. I would invite DH's sister and her family over for a buffet supper with holiday stockings for each of them every Christmas Eve. My nieces and nephews still remember those days, even though they are married with families of their own by now. 

I always love getting a Honeybaked Ham. It's so good, and I only
have it once a year. 

My own food traditions are a holiday Honeybaked Ham, a candy-cane pie and some chex mix. DH is pushing for a prime rib for Christmas and turkey for New Year. I'm not really sure where my ham will fit into all of that. I guess I'd better remind him, gently, that we have our own traditions and see what he says. For someone who is a stickler for traditions, sometimes he's so oblivious ... 

I do love a nice prime rib roast for the holiday. It's a treat because I
rarely eat beef, and it also makes great left-overs for a few follow-up
sandwiches. If I have to choose, I'll opt for the prime rib for New
Year and my ham for Christmas. 

Have a great Saturday. I finally got a bit caught up on some sleep last night - it was desperately needed. Tomorrow will be the second of my three working Sundays, so I can't sleep in late, although I do sleep in longer than 3:15 am or 4:00 am - my usual Monday-Saturday wake-up times. The year is winding down and I guess I'd better get some gifts ordered - LOL. I'll be back on Monday. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Series of Questions About The Calendar

I'm so very grateful that it's Friday, because I really need one of these days coming around every week. But it does make me wonder about questions that have been raised throughout "history" - probably more often by kids but questions, nonetheless. 

I guess I'm in a questioning mood today. Here are some
questions for all of you on this early Friday morning. 

Like why do we have seven days in a week? I know how the basic span of annual days arises - it's hard to fight (successfully) with Mother Nature, and the celestial calendar is pretty sturdy and somewhat reliable ... yeah, that! LOL But weeks don't really have to be seven days long. 

Want a more detailed explanation of the seven-day
week as well as a dive into one time period when
it was abandoned? Just follow this link. 

I understand the basic 24 hour structure, or at least the basic concept of splitting time into discrete segments stretching from sunrise to the next sunrise. Of course, sunrise is always changing, days could as easily be made from a format of 30 hours or 20 hours or even 18 hours. Why 24? Some dude in power somewhere probably decreed this and everyone else followed like little mice because you don't want to piss off the ruler. 

Why are there 24 hours in a day? It hasn't always been that way.
Interested in a more in-depth explanation? Follow this link

Seasons are pretty straightforward, especially for agricultural societies. You plant in the Spring, grow throughout the Summer, harvest in the Autumn, and starve and prepare for the next year in the Winter. Food shortages are dependent on the previous year's harvest, the number of mouths to feed, and other factors such as how harsh the winter is from year to year. 

Seasons are harder because they are location dependent. In the USA we
are focused on a calendar to tell us when a new season has started. Other
areas of the world depend on other factors such as temperature. Find
out more by following this link

Which brings us to the year - the annual run of days which, in many places today is stretched and altered by adding a few days every so often, allowing us to stutter-step back into synch with the Universe. Hmmm - rather arbitrary, but necessary to keep May in the Spring and September in the Fall. 

Fridays are usually pretty good days, all told. I'm going to
try and enjoy this one. 

So my question still stand. Why Friday? Why only seven days instead of a different number. Why, why, why? The questions that occur under fire to an exhausted mind. Have a wonderful Friday despite the questions and I'll return tomorrow unless I freeze into a pillar of me in today's cold snap. Stay warm, stay happy, and enjoy the day! 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Haircut, Cards and Donations

It's always a bit weird to get a haircut. I had 6"-8" cut off the bottom of my hair yesterday, and it brushes my shoulders now in a much fuller-looking bob. Nothing fancy, but it will get me through the holiday. Of course, DH who had been so unsure about my getting my hair cut in the first place, looked, said it wasn't any different, sniffed, and went to gather his dinner together. OK ... totally unimpressed. All I care about is that it looks a bit better, although the top of my head will take months to fill back out. I'm estimating trims every 2-3 months, and that's good, because it was EXPENSIVE! I'm going to make my "oblivious" hubby pay for the cuts, though. 

JUUT Salon is an Aveda salon. I used to go to one in a southern
suburb many years ago. It's pricey! But it's also really close to
my home. I could walk here in nice weather if I wanted to. Since
I didn't go super short, I won't have the 4-6 week maintenance
needed, so I can handle every 2-3 months. 

ALL of my holiday cards have now been mailed and I've put my tools, stamps, dyes, etc, back into their places in the art room. I'm really happy with this year's card. Although the actual images are heat-embossed stamps (house-mouse, remember?), each front and inside was individually hand painted. The back piece and the mouse across the envelope seal are copies of four different mouse paintings that I did, cut and sized, and then permanently mounted with adhesive. It was really fun making the cards this year and I want to use these precious mice on another card because I have several more images in my collection. 

Although I own this House Mouse stamp, it's NOT one
that was used in your cards this year. It's adorable, though! 

I'm already starting to think about next year's card. I think I will include an ornament, so I'll try to get started on that rather early (for a change). I have so much going on next year that early will most certainly be better! So ... now I can start concentrating on this year's Holiday season - Hanukkah which is happening now, Solstice which is coming up on the 21st, and Christmas on the 25th. I have presents to buy, calendars to order, and family events to attend over the next month. I suspect all of you are also busy with so many things. 

At this time of the year, we're all bombarded by charitable donation
requests. Choose your charities carefully and make sure they
represent your personal values. Also, donations don't have to
be monetary. There are many ways to help others. 

As we move into this season of celebration, please remember kindness. It's a stressful time of the year for everyone, and can be very difficult for for many people. Smile, donate to charity, help a friend or neighbor, be a positive note in the seasonal chorus. I'm going to take some time to figure out the next things I need and get going on those, as well as line up my charities for my end-of-year donations. I'm sure I'll donate to Trevor Project, and the Human Rights Campaign, but I'm not sure about the other two this year. Public Broadcasting (TV and Radio) are monthly, so I don't have to think about them. Hmmm ... how can I best help? Do you have a favorite charity? Share with me - which one and why? 

Have a wonderful Thursday. I'm going to hunt up some photos and then get to the pool. It's another day in the Frozen Northlands. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I'm A Wreck, But I Persevere - LOL

I am here to assure you that zombies are real - from personal experience. I'm fitting into the zombie category after being up WAY late (for me) due to the movie last night and the fact that the alarm on my phone still awakened me at 3:15 am. *sigh* No rest for the wicked ... nope. 

My alarm clock went off WAY too early this morning. 

The movie ("Ralph Wrecks the Internet") was really delightful, had us laughing out loud quite often, and carried a bit of a preachy message of allowing your friends to be themselves, and that true friendship will survive change. It's a Disney film, and the parts I adored the most were when all of the Disney princesses were gathered together interacting. The sayings on each girl's new shirt were totally awesome, and the way they worked together to save Ralph, in typical Disney Princess magic fashion, was awesome. Strong female characters abounded in this movie, and that really made it for me. 

I totally loved the Disney princesses in Wreck It Ralph 2. Do you recognize
all of them? They have sass and attitude and are brave and think on the run.
Great role models for a change! 

Of course, the movie meant that I didn't get home until 9:45 pm, at which time I needed to get the trash collected for today's trash truck and make sure my first load of laundry was ready to start as soon as I got home from the pool today. I didn't get to bed until 10:15 pm, and it was at least another quarter hour before I finally was asleep. Hmmm .... that's 4-3/4 hours of sleep last night. ZOMBIE explained! 

I was totally lost in a maze of construction and one-way streets. What a
mess! Thank goodness the one man was able to figure a way for me to
get my car out, and I got a free car wash in addition - LOL. 

Yesterday I mailed all of my international holiday cards and a good part of my domestic ones, with the last of the bunch getting mailed today. I went to the airport post office because they opened at 7:00 am. I wanted to purchase my international stamps and get those cards going quickly. BUT ... I took a wrong turn, got into a construction area by mistake, traveled over a couple of tire piercing barriers (the correct way, so my tires are fine), and finally found myself completely stuck near the final check-out point for returned rental cars. After casting my idiocy upon the whims of the guys moving the cars slowly through the process (more of a parking lot than actual movement), one buy reversed the car at the front of the car wash line, motioned me through the car wash, and I was finally out of the First Circle of Hell and on my way to the correct roadway. Bonus - I got a free car wash. But it also ate up a half-hour of time. 

Watch your mail boxes, the cards are on
their way to you. *Hugs* to all! 

The adventures of my life - LOL. No grass growing under my feet (of course, it's December in the Frozen Northlands, so no grass at all). I get my hair cut shorter today, so no phone convo with Aearwen (already suffering withdrawal - but we're back on schedule for next week). I hope all of you have a wonderful Wednesday, and that you don't get lost on your way to your goals today. I'll return tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Death, A Movie and An Addiction - A Non-Balanced Life

I've got about 10 minutes to pull this post together. What ever happened to time in the mornings!? I'll start by joining the thousands of fans of Paul Sherwin who are shocked and saddened by his death. The announcement of his death via massive heart attack was made yesterday, and Le Tour de France just won't be the same without his voice and play-by-play analysis. I have a feeling that Paul's death will spur Phil Liggett to retire, although you never know for sure. Still, professional cycling has lost a major voice and fan. 

Paul Sherwen was only 62 years young - that's younger than I am. It's
just not going to be the same listening to cycling without his
running commentary. 

I worked super hard on my Holiday Cards yesterday between customers. I'm mailing my international cards and half of my domestic ones today, the other half expected to be tomorrow. I'd say I'd get the final cards in the mail tonight, but Chickie and I are going to see "Ralph Breaks the Internet" tonight, so I won't be swinging by the Post Office on my way home. I also have to actually work at the shop - I know ... what a concept! 

I adore animated films - they're my favorite genre. I didn't
see the first movie, but this one is getting great reviews, so
Chickie and I are off to the Cinema tonight. 

Although it's early in the Holiday season, Hanukkah is already underway and I'm really watching my weight extremely carefully. It's so easy to let minor things like Christmas Cookies and Chex Mix just slide through as "great for the tongue but horrid for the weight" treats. Add those to pie and holiday meals and disaster lurks in the shadows. At the end of last year's holiday, I was up more than ten pounds from where I am today. No ... no, nope, absolutely NOT! It's far too hard to get the weight off again, so I have to be cautious with my food choices. Still, I'm entering the season at a really great level, so I'm hopeful I'll pull through with minimal weight gain. 

Chex Mix is addictive -  its salty goodness pulls me
in like a carp on a line. I can't resist. DH only makes
it once a year and that's a good thing! I can't stop
eating it when it's available. So good! 

I'm gathering my stuff and heading out to swim. I have a $10 promotional gift card to use at Swim Outlet before the end of January and they're running various sales throughout December. Maybe I'll get some on-line shopping done within the next couple of weeks. Huzzah! Have a great Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sunday - I Hate Working That Day!

I hate working on Sundays - it's a total cramp in my day and an interruption. But, one down and only two more to go. We had football on in the back room - DH watched most of the game(s), I listened in the background. We had customers, so I actually was busy on the sales floor, and I was able to get a mail order pulled, packed and on its way on my drive home. All was not a loss. But it throws my personal schedule into the toilet when I work on Sunday. 

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2018 was held last night. I looked through
all of the photos this morning and was quite unimpressed, although some
of the shoes were interesting. Still - nothing I feel I have to run out and
take a closer look at. 

I was hoping to get some serious work done on my holiday cards, but ended up with the wrong set of pens with me. I wrote one interior in regular pen - ick! Used the incorrect ones (too large a nib) for two others with another ick result, and tabled the project. I'm bringing the correct nibbed pens with me today and hopefully will get some of the work done. I want my overseas cards posted ASAP. I can breathe a little more with my domestic ones. 

I'm not doing calligraphy, and I'm not using a nibbed pen, but all pens write
with a surface area and I needed my finer pens to create interior notes
that will be readable. I'm bringing thinner pens with me today that
should resolve the problem. 

It's December 3rd and Christmas is in 22 days! I still have presents to order and I have to get Sharon's gift wrapped, boxed and sent to her. It's currently sitting on the couch in her room, so at least I won't need to hunt for a last-minute gift this year. I saw the perfect thing and purchased it months ago. 

All in all, it was an OK weekend, but I'm looking forward to a busy and productive week. At least, that's the goal. Let's see if I can start things out with a good swim today. Here's hoping you have a terrific Monday and I'll return tomorrow.