Monday, March 31, 2008

Of Book Signings, Bible Study, and Free Weekends

If you want the short version of this post, just read my title again. :)

As I mentioned Wednesday, I went to a book signing over in Passadena. I hadn't been down there in literally years, so it was wonderful to be in Old Town again. I've got to go back soon and just walk along Colorado Blvd.

The signing was for Lisa Lutz's new book. I've got to say it always surprises me when authors remember me. I don't think I'm that memorable. Granted, I did help with her reading last year by reading a part. But still. Anyway, she remembered me, which really boosted my ego. (Not that it needs it.) I also bought a set of the new Hardy Boys books just to see what they are like. Hey, they are on sale cheap, so I couldn't pass them up.

Unfortunately, the friends I was planning to meet up with for dessert weren't able to make it due to a family emergency. That was a bummer for multiple reasons but completely understandable.

Thursday was a nice quiet evening at home where I got three reviews written.

Friday was Bible study. I wound up cutting a friend's hair while hanging out on campus waiting for the Bible study to start. And I got one more review written, too.

The Bible study itself was pretty challenging - part 1 of two about conquiring sin.

And that was the big excitement in my life. Saturday, I bought some stems to fix the three leaking faucets in the condo. Sunday I went to church and then out to Stonefire grill with friends. Other then that, I hung out and watched some movies. I love relaxing weekends.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mini Review: Caught in a Bind

Time for my first mini review of Spring Reading Thing - Caught in a Bind by Gayle Roper.

This is the third book to follow the adventure of Merry Kramer, reporter for The News in the town of Amhearst Pennsylvania.

This time around, Merry is out to help her co-worker Edie cope with the disappearance of her husband, Tom. Not only has Tom vanished, but he is accused to stealing $12K from his work, a car dealership. But things really get interesting when a dead body shows up in Edie's garage....

I love these characters. I could spend time with them all day. Which, certainly makes the book fly by all too quickly. The Christian aspect is just right. It is part of the characters lives without ever becoming overbearing or preachy.

The only real flow with this book is the sposal abuse sub-plot. I know, it is an important subject. But, despite tries to die it into the main story, it really feels like something from another novel here. And at times, it does get preachy.

Even having said that, I stayed up until 1 AM last Friday night rereading the book. So that tells you something about how much I enjoyed it.

If you'd like to check out my full review of Caught in a Bind, please follow the link.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Threesome for March 27th

This week's edition is brought to us by wedding traditions and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Something old- Do you have anything that you've owned simply forever? A cherished childhood toy, an antique handed down through the family? ...the family Bible?
I've got some cherished books from childhood. And my records from childhood. I probably have some more things down in the garage, but I've forgotten about them at the moment.

Twosome: Something new- Buy anything new lately?
Just some books. I almost bought an iPod this week. I'm waiting until the drawing for Watercooler Wednesday next week before I do, however. (And if you decide to participate, tell them I sent you so I get more entries.)

Threesome: Something borrowed- Have you ever borrowed an item and never returned it?
I don't think so. I make a point of returning things I borrow because it would upset me so much if I loaned out something and never got it back.

Bonus: Something blue- Can you see anything blue from where you are? What is it?
If I look over my shoulder, I can see a bright blue sky.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Favorite Authors/Series

Today around the watercooler, we are discussing our favorite book.

Yeah right.

We were actually discussing this at work while we celebrated my birthday. I'm not sure I could name a favorite book of all time. There are so many authors I love.

Now, if it came down to it, I would have to name The Gatehouse Mystery as my favorite book. Why? Because it is my favorite book in the Trixie Belden mystery series. And as anybody who knows me knows, I love that series. I particularly like this book because, while the third in the series, sets so much in motion for the rest of the series. The characters are absolutely real and believable. And I feel that if I close my eyes, I am part of the fun. Believe me, I wanted to be one of Trixie's friends growing up.

But just answering that leaves out so many great authors and series.

I have loved just about everything I have ever read by Sigmund Brouwer, but my favorite of his is Creature of the Mists. There are so many reversals, you don't truly know what is going on until the final page. Yet every one of them makes perfect sense, as does the ending.

While I have loved Brock and Bodie Thoene for years, I will admit I'm not enjoying their newer books nearly as much as I do their classic stuff like The Zion Chronicles and The Saga of the Sierras. (And someday I intend to read The Zion Covenant series. Really!)

A couple years back I discovered Mindy Starns Clark. After devouring all of her books, I await each new release eagerly.

Jerrilyn Farmer's series about a caterer in Hollywood is lots of fun with great mysteries attached. My favorite remains the second, Immaculate Reception. But that might change if the 8th book in the series ever comes out.

I love anything have to do with water, so you can imagine who Glynn Marsh Alam's series appeals to me. Her heroine is a diver for a sheriff's department in Florida. The writing is so vivid it takes you there. While I've loved all of them, I still think the first, Dive Deep and Deadly, is my favorite.

I buy everything Rhys Bowen writes. And considering she's working on her third series now, that says something. I don't think she's topped Evan Can Wait yet, but Oh Danny Boy certainly gives it a run for its money.

Donna Andrews is another person who wrote two different series. The one starring an artifical intelligence personality is sadly out of print, but it is well worth tracking down. You have to start that series with You've Got Murder. But if you want to laugh, check out her other mystery series. The Meg Langslow series is absolutely histerical. The funniest is We'll Always Have Parrots, but my favorite is Owls Well that Ends Well.

And I can't leave out Joanne Fluke. I love her Hannah Swensen mysteries. Yes, they are light, but the characters are so wonderful. I just love spending time with them. And the recipes in the books are delicious.

Then there's Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series. Mrs. Pollifax is a widow, grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent. The books are a bit far fetched at times, but they are such great fun I don't care. Plus you get a glimpse of the historical times of various locations in the world. See, the books were written from the 60's to the early part of this decade (there are only 14 books, however), and each takes place in the time where it was written. So Mrs. Pollifax goes from dealing with communists to dealing with Saddam. As an aside, her boss at the CIA is named Carstairs, which I stole for my internet screen name.

But I can't leave out Sandy Denger. I still consider her my favorite author. Which means I really need to go back and reread some of her stuff. She can create wonderful mysteries or gripping historical drama with each. Her writing style is almost poetic. And she weaves Christian themes into her writing so well it catches you by surprise.

So that gives you a little feel of my favorite authors.

Please join us around the watercooler. If you post this week, you'll be entered in a drawing for an iPod shuffle. And if you tell them I sent you, I'll get some added entries as well.

But right now, I'm out of here so I can go to a book signing and meet up with some friends.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Weekend

I had an absolutely wonderful Easter weekend.

I got off work early on Friday. Not at noon since I volunteered to stick around for the deposit to be picked up. Then I ran some errands, went home, and lay out by the pool reading. The weather was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of it. I crawled into bed early, intending to read for a little while. At 1 AM, I turned off the light when I went to bed. Oh well. It was worth it.

Saturday, I didn't get up until 10 AM. Granted, I was awake at 8, but I didn't get out of bed. Felt wonderful. From there, I preceeded to do not much. Watched some movies and basically was lazy all day.

Sunday I got up in time for church. In fact, I got to church early for a change. We had a breakfast pot luck starting at 8:30, then our regular service at 10. It was a great service.

Then Kurt and Kellie invited me to join their family for picnic lunch. I fully intended to go and hang out for a few hours, then come home and spend the evening reviewing and paying bills.

I was among the first to arrive. The weather was absolutely wonderful. I hung out all afternoon enjoying the beautiful day. When we were leaving, about an hour after I was going to be home originally, Kurt and Kellie invited me back to their place. Kurt and I jumped in the pool (and since it wasn't heated yet, that's all we did) while Kellie graded. Then we went to their gym, came back for dinner, and watched Enchanted.

So, instead of getting home around 4, absolutely no later then 5, I got home at 11. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was so nice to be hanging out with good friends and just doing whatever. No plans, no agenda, no watching the clock.

Unfortunately, I seem to have carried that over to work. The list of things I was going to get done while my boss has been gone the last few days? Haven't gotten to all of them. Of course, in this case that is because other things have come up that I needed to make a higher priority. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Easter Songs

So yesterday on his blog, Mike talked about the joys of Easter music. And he then listed his top 15 Good Friday/Easter songs. That got me thinking, and I just had to create my own list.

So here, in no particular order are my 15:

He's Alive - Don Francisco
Too Small a Price - Don Francisco
Rise Again - Dallas Holmes
Christ the Lord is Risen Today - Scott Wesley Brown (with wonderful new music by Michael W. Smith)
Via Dolorosa - Sandi Patty
Criminal on the Cross - Acappella
I Was the Nails - David and the Giants
A Better Way - downhere
Because He Lives - any and all versions
Why? - Michael Card
The Great Divide - Point of Grace
The Day He Wore My Crown - Sandy Patty
Love Song - Third Day
Great Exchange - Bruce Carroll
Watch the Lamb - Ray Boltz

Honorable Mentions: We are the Reason (David Meece), End of the Beginning (David Phelps), Secret Ambition (Michael W. Smith), The Wonderful Cross (modern praise chorus version). Where the Nails Were (Sandi Patty), Was it a Morning Like This (Sandi Patty)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Threesome for March 20th

Today's Thursday Threesome is brought to us by conscience easers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Anyone-- Has anyone made an impression on you lately? No, not on the national level, but at work or school or just 'around'. ...or even here on the web?
I'd say most of my recent interactions have been rather ordinary. The same people interacting in the same way. Although I am impressed with how my two last posts have increased traffic. Hi everyone!

Twosome: can Miss-- Speaking of webbish things (and of course we are !), what types of things do you take a miss on at your place and chose not to post about? Just curious...
If I told you, then I'd be posting about them, wouldn't I? I will say I often don't post about fights I might have with a roommate. That way they can't use it against me later. Not that I ever fight or get irritated with my roommates because they are perfect.

Threesome: a Day-- On a similar note: do you post every day? ...or just whenever? ...or is every session at the computer a spur to work up a little something?
I try to post abour four times a week, but don't always make that. I'm trying to do better about that today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Reading Thing - The List

So, with Spring springing tomorrow, it's time to start thinking about the Spring Reading Thing. Callapidder Days is hosting another fun reading challenge. (And I will link it up once the post goes up tomorrow. Hope the little guy is feeling better soon.)

The point is to challenge ourselves in our reading. Okay, the challenge for me is to list books now I will be reading come June. :) And, considering how slowly I've been reading since I started working out three days a week on my lunch hour, the challenge might also be keeping myself from looking too silly.

As I did in the Fall, I'm going to start my list with the books I didn't read for the fall challenge, and just build from there.

Blood Matters by Taffy Cannon
Feint of Art by Hailey Lind
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Grabenstein
Caught in a Bind by Gayle Roper
Caught Redhanded by Gayle Roper
Tell Me, Pretty Maiden by Rhys Bowen
Final Curtain by R. T. Jordan
Pushing Up Daisies by Rosmary Harris
The Black Dove by Steve Hockensmith
The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine
Mr. Monk Goes to Germany by Lee Goldberg
Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
A Tisket, a Tasket, a Fancy Stolen Casket by Fran Rizer
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney
Night Light by Terri Blackstock
Primitive Secrets by Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Mosaic by Amy Grant
Relentless by Robin Parrish
Murder in Grub Street by Bruce Alexander
Death in Paradise by Carolyn Hart
Stalking the Puzzle Lady by Parnell Hall
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

Okay, that's about twice as many as I would normally get through in three months, so I guess we'll see how I do.

Over the course of the next three months, I will be posting reviews at Amazon and Epinions for these titles as I normally would. I will also post brief reviews here. And in June I will offer a summary post to tell you how I did. So keep checking back to see how close I come or how miserably I fail.

"It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"

I know I watch a lot of TV these days. And I'm sure by how often I mention a show, you can tell how much I like it. But today I'm going to take a trip down memory lane and talk about my first favorite TV show.

Growing up, I loved Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood in a way I never loved any other kid's show. There was something about the kind, gentle man that really appealed to me. That and the neighborhood of makebelieve. Those segments were always my favorites. The puppets and human interaction was so cool in my book.

Not that I didn't love the rest of the show. I still remember the show where we learned how crayons were made. For the next month, I daydreamed that I owned a crayon making factory. I also remember getting to see lots of musicians and some fun instruments at the music store.

Then there were the operas. I don't remember much about them now, but I remember loving them at the time. They had just the right kind of music for kids. I do remember most of the events of the "Bubbleland Opera." Heck, I could probably sing parts of it if I set my mind to it.

My brother is seven years younger then I am, so I got to watch Mr. Rogers twice. Maybe it was because I didn't watch much else growing up, but I still loved watching the show as a pre-teen. And I was as upset as my brother was if we had to miss a day.

While I don't regularly watch it now, I did tune in when his last week of episodes was announced. I'm not sure what I expected, but the show didn't leave with a big push of some kind. It ended with the same quiet joy that had infected the series. Yet, it gave me a lump in my throut knowing there would be no more episodes. And his death a few years later hit me hard.

So why am I posting about this today? Two reasons. One, I just found out about Watercooler Wednesday, a weekly chance to talk about arts and culture. It sounds like fun and I plan to regularly contribute. However, tomorrow has also been declared Wear a Sweater Day in honor of what would have been Mr. Rogers 80th birthday. Believe me, if I had a sweater, I would wear it tomorrow. But since I don't, I am writing this tribute today.

If you love Mr. Rogers, I encourage you to wear a sweater in his honor tomorrow. I will in spirit even if I can't really.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Weekend of Ultimate

I really need to be getting to bed, but I am stopping to post this instead. What does that say about me? Never mind.

So, this weekend was St. Pat's Hat. While I have played in summer league for 8 or the last 9 years, this is only the fourth time I've gotten to play this tournament (and one of those I could only make one day.)

The weather, which had been so nice last week, turned cold and windy for the weekend. Heck, it even spit at us a little Saturday late afternoon.

But that didn't dampen my enjoyment too much. (Pardon the pun.)

I was happy to have several people on my team I had already played with. Two of the guys were on my team from this last summer and one of the women was on my first ever summer team.

We went right out there and lost our first game Saturday, but we rallied and won the rest of the games. It seemed to take me several times to finally get in the flow of things. I caught several discs, but it was the third game before I completed a pass, at least to one of our women. I also scored in our final game of the day.

And man I was sore by the end of the day. My knees hurt and every muscle in my body was telling me I shouldn't even think about going back on Sunday. So what did I do? Spend 20 minutes in the hot tub and go back out there.

Sunday, we played three games and lost two of them. After loosing in the first game of the day, we were automatically out of the running. We lost again. I seemed to be one of the few that wanted to play our final game, but we played anyway. It was against a team that hadn't won yet, and we helped them keep a perfect streak going. I played more in that game then I had all the others. It was nice and relaxed, which was lots of fun. In fact, I was actually laughing at some of the crazy stuff we were doing, like running out of bounds and then back in again.

I stuck around for the finals, which was a very good game. However, the wind was really picking up, so I got quite cold. In fact, I was rooting for the team that was ahead to hurry up and win just so I could go home and warm up. Still, it was absolutely wonderful to be out there.

And boy was I sore yesterday. I had trouble navegating stairs. And after sitting too long, I could hardly move. Last week, I read a book about self-massage, and put that into practice over the course of the day. I don't really know if that helped for not, but boy I feel so much better today. Yes, I was still a little stiff this morning, but now I feel great. Which means I should end this post so I can go to bed and get some sleep so I can get up and go running again in the morning.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Book Signing at Last

Before I get any further, I'd like to offer you a happy Pi day. I think I'll buy some pie on the way home from work to celebrate.

I finally made it to a book signing this year! I was beginning to think that would never happen. Something about the ones I was interested in attending taking place once I suddenly got a life.

But Tuesday night, I went to get Carrot Cake Murder. Joanne Fluke was doing a signing at a cooking school, actually. Which means I got to try two of the desserts from the book. And they were absolutely delicious. And I got to chat with Joanne and Ruel. Hope to start the book tonight or tomorrow at the latest.

Other then that, not too much new and exciting around here. Spring break starts today for the students, so it will be dead next week. It also means the fitness center will be closed. And just as I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting somewhere with all the exercise I've been doing. On the other hand, it will give me a chance to read more on my lunch hour.

Speaking of which (in a round about way), I found my watch, which has been missing for two and a half weeks. I'm so excited to have that back again. Unfortunately, the library will be closed during Spring break, so I can't go over there to read. It does mean I can read outside if I want, however.

I certainly would have loved to do that this week. The weather was in the 80's. It was so great out. But they'd decided it is time to paint our building, so I can't open my window. And it is really supposed to cool off this weekend. Which figures since I will be playing in an ultimate Frisbee tournament all weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Threesome for March 13th

You know, I should really be doing this later. After all, it's about insomnia. Which I guess means this week's edition is brought to us by caffeine and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Insomnia-- Ever have it? Some do and some don't, but have you ever been hounded awake for that endless hour after hour with no hope of sleep? ...or does the very act of touching head to pillow put you out for the count?
It takes me a while to fall asleep some nights, but I don't often have full blown insomnia. About the only time I can't do much about it is when I'm excited and trying desperately to get to sleep, like the night before I go to Disneyland.

Twosome: the cure-- Hey, if you do have the occasional bout or chronic insomnia, what do you do about it? Work? Read? Try cures? Hmmm... Did you ever find one that worked?
If I have a very hard time getting to sleep, I'll turn the light back on and read while lying down. Soon enough, I can't keep my eyes open. Except if I'm going to Disneyland the next day.

Threesome: for sleep-- Female/male, young/not so young, we all need varying amounts of sleep. What's your personal sleep cycle? Five hours? Ten hours? ...and if you had a choice, what would be your personal sleep cycle? ...and yes, "All day long" is a valid answer
I sleep about six hours a night, but I would love for it to be closer to eight.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm Tired

I didn't need Daylight Saving Time to do myself in this week. I did it all by myself. (Although losing that hour certainly helped.)

Frankly, it all started with Disneyland last weekend. I still haven't recovered from that.

You see, Saturday was my birthday. And Mom and Dad came back into town Thursday to help me celebrate.

Friday night, we went to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat down at Glendale Centre Theatre. We really enjoyed it.

I spent Friday night with them in their trailer, then Saturday morning we got up and got ready to leave. That's right, they headed north on my birthday. They had some stuff they needed to be back for Sunday night. They gave me five books and a CD for my birthday. Now to find time to read them.

But it worked out well that they had to leave Saturday because that meant I could go down to Costa Mesa for a Meet and Greet hosted by Epinions. Basically, it's a chance for Epinions staff and members to get together and hang out in person. It started at 3:30 PM, and I left at 1 AM. And, believe it or not, I wasn't the last one to leave. Needless to say, I had fun. And I finally got to meet Andy, one of the two staff members I've dealt with a lot. He was out sick when I made it to headquarters in December. Garrett was there as well, although I didn't wind up spending that much time talking to him. In fact, there was a group of members at the other end of the table I didn't get to spend much time talking to either, which was dissappointing. I would have liked to gotten to know them a little better, too.

Thanks to the time change, I didn't get home until after 3AM. In fact, I think this is the first time I have been awake when the time officially changed. I didn't set an alarm, but my roommate woke me at 9:20 with his alarm. I could tell I wasn't going to go back to sleep, so I got up eventually as well. Spent the day doing laundry and catching up on TV. Plus I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which I really enjoyed. Then, last night, we had a GAP get together at church.

So, as you can see, my weekend has been one thing after another. And the next couple of days aren't much better. In about a week, I will colapse from everything going on. Fortunately, I'll be able to do that because my life will finally have slowed down.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Word Association for March 9th

Look what I'm doing on Sunday this time.

  1. Homicide :: Murder
  2. Divisive :: Split
  3. Flash :: Gordan
  4. Steaming :: Hot
  5. Crunch :: Sit-Up
  6. Look out! :: Below
  7. Anticipating :: the Future
  8. Slim :: Jim
  9. Navel :: Orange
  10. Help :: Danger

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday Threesome for March 6th

Yep, that time of the week again. Brought to us this week by Broadway and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Choreography: What do you choreograph in your life? Your morning routine? The dinner ritual? How you study? What is 'designed' by you?
Anything I can. I plan my life out in advance as much as possible, and pretty much follow the same routin for day to day stuff.

Twosome: The art of symbolically: Art? Hmmmm... Sure, what do you like to have? ...or do you? ...but how about that little symbol you keep on your desk or headboard? The one you keep because??? I mean, if you can share that...
I've got a couple random paintings, but I don't have them up. And I've got a few nick nack type stuff at home, but that's about it. Just stuff I've been given is all.

Threesome: representing dancing: No, not 'do you dance?' (although that's fine too!); rather, which type(s) of dancing will you stop and watch for a moment? Ballroom? Swing? Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey?
Pretty much any type of ballroom, including swing. And ice skating/dancing. But not freestyle/modern dance type stuff.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Word Association Time

At least I have a good excuse for not doing it Sunday this time. I wasn't on the computer all day!

  1. Chemical :: Warfare
  2. Poker :: Night
  3. Federal :: Taxes
  4. Mattress :: Pad
  5. Who am I? :: Where am I?
  6. Investigation :: Detective
  7. In good hands :: Safe
  8. 8:30 :: Start Time (AM, that is)
  9. Creditors :: Bills
  10. Resource :: Helpful

Monday, March 03, 2008

Boy, are My Legs Tired

That tends to happen when you spend all weekend walking or standing. And that's what I did this weekend. I spent it when my parents and Angelique at Disneyland on Saturday and Disney's California Adventure on Sunday.

The weather was cool on Saturday. The sun never came out all day, in fact. And the fog turned to drizzle a couple times. The park was crowded, but not as crowded as it often is when I am there.

Sunday was much better weather wise. While I cooled off quickly after the sun went down, it was pleasantly warm in the afternoon.

And, shock of all shocks, Mom and Dad actually went on California Screamin'. I figured there was no way in the world I'd get them to even think about that coaster. Even after they shocked me by loving the Matterhorn (that was the only thing in Disneyland we did twice.) Mom's favorite is clearly Soarin' Over California, which is why we did it four times on Sunday. Still, we managed to get in just about everything else at the park thanks to Fast Passes.

When we got there Saturday morning, we took the horseless carriage from the entrance plaza to the castle. Our driver asked if there were any birthdays or other magical moments in the group. I said mine was next week, and he said that was close enough, so I got one of the Happy Birthday buttons. And that meant I had people wishing me a happy birthday all weekend. Yes, I liked that.

But, I am completely tired today. Hopefully, I will get some sleep tonight so I will be better rested tomorrow. My legs are fine for the most part, although occasionally they hurt, especially if I've been sitting for a while.

Was it worth it? Of course, it's Disney after all.