Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cleopatra Is High Maintenance, But Generous


I’m learning about the differences between the Ming and Manchu dynasties in “Everything Under the Sky”. Thousands of years of history and we complain about having to learn about the Revolutionary War. It’s staggering and there are parts I have to read over again to grasp it. In between is this feisty, sarcastic heroine named Elvira. Yes, Elvira. She has no clue about what she is doing and is flying by the seat of her pants. I don’t know why (right), but I identify with her. I love these kind of historical-humorous-thrillers. It’s like riding a roller-coaster while laughing.

Kind of like my life? I had to follow up on a job app today that closed 10 days ago. I was agonizing whether to call or send an email, if that. Will I annoy them, will I appear pushy or presumptuous? I am told that in today’s competitive job market you have to put your name out there but I’m not so sure in the library field. The other frustration is not knowing. I would rather know that I am not in the running but I have been told that getting notice of that rarely happens. So did I do it? Yes, and, I have the knot in my stomach to prove it.  After all my agonizing I called on Friday only to be told I had to call back today. I get my self psyched up and call back this morning and find out the person was in a meeting, could I leave a message? I did but don’t expect to hear back. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I applied for a job today that lets you register a password so you can check back on the status of your application. Nice. I realize not all libraries are funded for that, nor are they large enough. I haven’t been at this that long and will have to build up some stamina and let go of things I can’t control. You’ll see how well I do with that.

Bianca reminds me more and more of Cleopatra. She has this foam bed that looks like a little barge; with her dog collar she looks like a queen on her throne. I feel like one of her handmaidens. She is very persistent in getting my attention (and a bit imperious) now that her stitches are days within getting removed. It can’t be soon enough. She has been driving everyone crazy. Trying to contain twenty pounds of diva with four legs is not as easy as it sounds. She looks at me with those big  kohl eyes and I melt. I’m sure together we really annoy the grown ups around here. It does have it’s perks though. Telva came home with two mouth-watering pieces of coffee cake and Bianca ordered me to eat one.

Women And Adventure


I’m on a roll. Laura Childs’ book was a simple (don’t expect great literature here) but enjoyable read. Not very complicated, (that’s why they are called cozy mysteries), but I’ve learned a lot about tea and Charleston through her books. The author has spiced Theodosia Browning up a bit in the last two so she doesn’t turn into a doud. I admit I read the first one because of the name “Theodosia”,  for the tea, and to visit Charleston. I like the ongoing characters in her books and so far I haven’t gotten bored. That is the difficult challenge in a long running mystery series.

Next…. it’s 1856 and Mormon missionaries go to Scandinavia and Europe to inspire men and women to convert to their LDS religion. They persuade them to travel to America and settle Salt Lake City. These foreigners set out with great faith, on foot from Iowa City headed for the “promised land”. As always Sandra Dallas paints vivid pictures in words of  the strong women, friendship and faith it took to survive the trek to Utah. I was fascinated by the research in “True Sisters” about the two-wheeled handcarts that were the “poor mans” means of traveling  more than 1300 miles  through brutal terrain. This novel is based on a true story and taught me a part of American history I knew little about. Really good book and hard to put down. I love how Ms. Dallas portrays women and relationships and I have yet to be disappointed by one of her books.

I am now reading “Everything Under the Sky” and it’s a delicious blend of intrigue, intellect and geography. A widow of Spanish birth in 1923 Paris travels to Shanghai to settle the affairs of her slain husband. They shared a marriage of convenience and lived apart for twenty years. Even though they enjoyed a friendship, this widow is disturbed to find that everything is not as it seemed. Instead of  returning to Paris with a small inheritance she finds her husband’s estate  riddled with debt… But wait!!  She finds that he owns a box that holds the clues to the tomb of the First Emperor and priceless treasure.  She joins forces with a quirky cast of characters and heads into the adventure of a lifetime, chased by relentless assassins. Oh goodie!!! I HAVE to get back to it now! Sorry “Book Thief”, (I’m so fickle)we’ll rendezvous later. I promise.

Chinese Soup


Circumstances forced me to pick “Agony of The Leaves” as my first read. I wanted to start with another choice but I am now required to follow the same rules of borrowing that every patron at the Hillsborough Library must. The Tea Shop Mystery and Sandra Dallas novel have a shorter check out time since they are new so I have to read them first. Boo Hoo, I know. These books will be quick reads for me so I’m not too broken up. There are scrumptious recipes like Haley’s Butter Cake or Peach Pecan Quick Bread to console me.

I had to polish up my resume today. I compare this to going to the dentist. Something unpleasant but necessary. I took Telva’s advice and moved things around on what feels like my “permanent record”, and looked at examples of other resumes. I guess it is the difference  between an ok book and one that catches your notice.  I am also following up on three jobs I applied for ten days ago. I liken that to pulling a tooth, painful but necessary as well. I’d rather know than not.

Bianca has been my little shadow. She figured out if she bumps my leg with her martini collar I’ll scratch her back. When I start scratching her back she quickly moves her head under my hand. After scratching her forehead she looks at me adoringly. She has a mongo set of stitches over her eye where a large cyst was removed, which is now drying up and getting itchy. I’m her hero for a few minutes. It’s the only time I get her full attention while her mom and dad are around. I’ll take what I can get.

top_ramen.jpg (280×280)

I wanted to share a yummy recipe that Telva invented with Top Ramen. She calls it Chinese Soup. You start with a package of Top Ramen-flavor of your choice. Start with two cups of water, then add 1 tblsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar and flavor packet, bring to a boil. Add any left over chicken, beef (1/2 c), chopped fresh veggies of your choice (2/3 c) then smash up dry noodle still in the package and add to sauce and boil for three minutes and serve. Garnish with chopped green onions. This is a meal in itself. Love it!

I’m In Heaven


I went to get a library card today and got the spiel of rules.  I was chuckling inside at how serious the guy was. I feel soooo normal now. It’s like a pacifier. I felt myself calming down inside. The world is not a scary place in a library. I came home with six books. I realized I need at least six to feel comfortable. Two just doesn’t cut it. I took for granted having books at my beck and call at any time.

Here’s what I checked out:

1. “how to love an american man: a true story” by Kristine Gasbarre

A New York serial dater returns to her small town and Grandma’s heartfelt advice.

2.”true sisters” by Sandra Dallas

A novel based on true events in1856.

3.”Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness”

True book about the crazy sustaining friendships that build a community.

4. “Everything Under the Sky” by Matilde Asensi

A Spanish woman travels to China to recover the body of her dead husband and discovers a mysterious hidden treasure.

5. “Agony of the Leaves” by Laura Childs

Another Tea Shop Mystery with owner Theodosia Browning

6. “Wanton West: the Wild Women of Montana’s Frontier” by Lael Morgan

The seamier settlers of the wild west… you know, the ones buried outside the cemetery.

I get giddy at the thought of choosing the first one to read. It is similar to having a brand new box of crayons (perfectly sharpened) to look forward to.  I’ll keep you posted on which one wins.

Bianca is getting restless, her stitches are itching and she is dying to scratch and lick. She is also stuck with the added indignity of wearing a collar that looks like a martini glass, it bounces around and  clunks her in the head every time she wants to eat. She’s sneaky too, if you take it off she pretends to bend down to eat and then starts furtively licking her paw. Her bandages come off tomorrow. It must be agony to not be able to do what comes instinctively. She is conditioned by ancient programming. I’m not sure where my overwhelming urge to ask strangers what book they are reading comes from, but it’s there.

More Comfortable Than A Glass Slipper


I’m excited about the new Adriana Trigiani book. I’ve read them all and especially love the “Big Stone Gap” books. Maybe it’s because I’m part Italian?  Her novels tell wonderful stories of her ancestors arriving on the shores of America. They started over, remade themselves and founded families, businesses and adventure, with a little romance and heartache  thrown in. Her novels cover it all… from being a spinster pharmacist in a small village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, to being a shoemaker in old Italy.

You don’t find hand made leather shoes anymore, at least not in my neighborhood. They would be the equivalent to a couture gown. You wouldn’t think shoe making would be interesting but it is and I found myself transported to realms of dressmaking, shoe designing, woman entrepreneurs and old world glamour. These people get around.

Speaking of which…I’m going to coffee at Peet’s today with my niece and hear all about her landmark birthday. The pictures on Facebook tell me she had a great time. Miss Bianca is doing much better and is already begging me for her cookies. She’s just like me and wants to eat her dessert first. I’m having trouble reading “The Book Thief” because of the subject matter. I’m not sure I’m in the right frame of mind for this but we’ll see. Timing is everything. But then again, might also be my way of justifying going to the library tomorrow. I’m wily when it comes to reading.

It’s been cool and cloudy the last two days. Heard Iowa is getting hammered with some heat. They will be glad to hear that there is just as long (if not longer) a hold list for new books. We want things faster and faster, there is no keeping up. It is heartening to know that reading is statistically going through the roof with e-reading. iPADS are already changing the face of teaching.  It won’t be long before they invent a chip to embed in the human body and we won’t have to hold anything. You heard it here first.

The Beaver?


I always felt sorry for the kid in “Leave it to Beaver”. How cute is it to have your teeth compared to a beaver ? Why is it we come up with dopey nick names for our loved ones? I can’t seem to help myself. Lately I’ve started calling young kids honey. I call Telva ,”Telvie” or a childhood name my mom used to call her, “Telva-bell”. Where the heck did that come from? Maybe it was belle? It’s in my data bank and comes out every once in a while. If they know you hate the tag, parents use it all the more. My family used to call me a name (you will never get it out of me) that my sister invented when she couldn’t pronounce my real name and they thought it was adorable.  I loathed it. It’s no longer amusing when you are a grown up with your own children, but yet I persist in calling my kids by the same monikers.  Hopefully they will be as annoyed with me as I was with my family, it’s only fair. Or maybe it can be an endearing reminder of good times?

Speaking of annoying… Did you know there is a blog written by the “Annoyed Librarian”? It’s on the Library Journal blog and it’s hilarious. This librarian is snooty, snotty, smart and sarcastic, I loved it. I found this when I was doing job research (really) and chuckled all the way through it.  Check it out. I found a couple more jobs to apply for, I was getting nervous. One is in Oregon and one is in Washington. It’s time for me to check back with my other app’s-although I hate this part. You always feel like you are bothering them, (you don’t know how many others are checking back) or being pushy but it is expected. Drat.

We had some technical difficulties last night with Wifi so I didn’t get to post this. Bianca did well yesterday with her surgery but she looks like she’s been in a dog AND cat fight. She has stitches on both sides of her forehead and three of her paws. She’s a little trooper and very uncomfortable today. I miss her begging for treats. It was also Telva’s birthday yesterday and I made a Mexican menu for dinner. I tried enchiladas in the crock pot because it was too warm outside to turn the oven on. They turned out great and were so easy.

We went to Cannon beach on Sunday and had a great time. It was a cloudless blue sky and warm breezes. The picture was taken by my niece at sunset. Nice weekend. Not much reading getting done. I started both books and seem to switch back and forth. The content of “The Book Thief” is heavy although Zusak does a good job at providing a fantasy element to the horror of Nazi Germany. Very creative writer. This book was written based on some of his parents stories from that time. Wonder what he will do next? That’s what keeps us coming back.

Mirror, Mirror


What a day! Gorgeous, cloudless sky, warm temps and lots of people out and about. We ran errands and went to lunch and I had a wonderful day. Not because of what we did, or the weather, but oddly enough because of a conversation. Surprises you doesn’t it? We were talking about a book I read a long time ago on birth order. In fact I think it is called “The Birth Order Book”. It explains why the order in which we are born into a family shapes who we become. It started all three of us on this great discussion on what roles we played with our siblings and in our families and also how our parents influenced who and what we became. It was a conversation rich in memories of the roles our fathers and mothers played and how, even if you are determined to do otherwise, you develop characteristics of one or both of them. I learned a lot about my friends today and they learned a little more about me over fried clams. What could be better?

Intimacy. A word that is thrown about and strikes fear in the hearts of most men. It really is about simple conversations. Details that we don’t ever get around to sharing. I am so fortunate to share a friendship with someone that has known me all of my life. We’ve truly seen the worst of each other (and our parents) but we’ve also witnessed the best and we can remind each other of those moments as time fades our recollections. We are better for them either way.

Tonight we watched a movie that I recommended called “The Milagro Bean Field War” made in 1988. Robert Redford directed and it has a great cast. It’s always at great risk that you recommend a movie. You are watching your friends and notice every twitch and sigh and start to wonder if they really like it… or are they being polite? Times have changed dramatically in moving making since the eighties. I remembered this being a simple, sweet movie and it has stood the test of time but I heard my kids echoing in my ear…”This is so lame and boring”. They said they enjoyed it and it went really well with our dinner of guacamole and chips.

Telva and Bruce are getting the cold I had last weekend and I wonder if we’ll make it to the beach tomorrow? I’ve spent all of my childhood either around or in water so I’m looking forward to seeing the ocean again and by golly they are determined to take me. Who am I to argue?

Me, Myself and I


It’s Friday, and I am sick to death of me! Am I sick of myself or is myself sick of me? I honestly don’t know what I would do with out this blog. It really has been a life saver. I’ve gotten wonderful feedback about it but it really wouldn’t matter if you told me it was the worst thing you’ve ever read. I know now why I love conversation so much. I don’t have to speak to myself. The longer you spend alone the more you find yourself talking in your head to yourself. These little mini conversations have been the catalyst for many of my blogs but since I am only spending week days with myself, my material is drying up. I am sick of my own company. I am only so interesting…to myself.

Bianca hasn’t been a lot of help either. She is having surgery on Monday to remove a growth from her paw. She has to wear this dreary, martini-glass collar to keep her from licking and it has really put a damper on things. She’s not nearly as entertaining. So here we are two dreary spirits on a dreary day. Telva walks in the door from work and I’m on her like a tick on a deer. “What happened at work today”? “What did you eat for lunch”? “What did so-and-so say about what’s it”? “What was the commute like”? It’s really pathetic but necessary. Then I look forward to hearing all of it again when Bruce gets home. Not good.

I never watch t.v. but I watched Perry Mason today and then found myself on the edge of my seat to see if GoodWill Hunting on the Nate Berkus show stayed within his $300 budget for redoing someones family room. Did you know that Jerry Springer is still on, (ewwwww) and Anderson Cooper has his own talk show now?! I never had trouble coming up with things to do in my own home, but being in someone else’s is different. It’s time for me to unpack my hobbies. Reading is a big part of my life but I don’t want to over use the privilege. I need to keep time for worrying and re-checking work sites. Then I feel entitled to relax…maybe.

It’s supposed to be gorgeous this weekend so I know I can work in the yard and be outside. There is the beach to look forward to on Sunday. I may cry.

Stranger Than Fiction?


I admit that I liked “Julia’s Chocolates” much better than Cathy Lamb’s newest book. “The Last Time I Was Me” opens with Jeanne Stewart’s drunken diatribe to a room full of fellow PR execs. It went down hill from there. This character was obnoxious, angry, (and with good reason) but she just couldn’t capture my sympathy. That’s what you need to like such a mess of a woman.  She packs up, sells everything (of course money is no problem) and runs away to Oregon. Instead of me being inspired by this gutsy, spunky person trying to turn her life around I found myself wanting to tell her… Shut. Up! She is at times verbally abusive and feels entitled. She signs up for an anger management class but brings her smart mouth with her. The instructor of the class seems to have anger issues with the class members and yet you get the idea that they don’t have serious anger issues, it was just the “circumstances” that brought them to the class. Yeah, right. Don’t get me started on her court appearance or the governor. All the cutest shoes in the world can’t save this story.

I simply did not like this character. The story had great bones but everything was too extreme, too much and unbelievable. Running naked, at night, by yourself, with a psycho close by to prove yourself? Puhlleeeze.  Jeanne is UNBELIEVABLE. Why not call this a Fantasy. I think you will find “Julia’s Chocolates” much more to your liking. But that’s just me.

I searched WA/OR for new job postings today and volunteered to help with a new branch library being set up in Aloha. Starting to get very bored. I started “The Book Thief” and am already dipping into “The Age of Innocence”. Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1920 for this work of fiction. Looking forward to all the decadence and dilettantes. Rain and quiche for dinner.

Gothic Roller Coaster


This was a book recommended to me at Powell’s and it didn’t let me down. Seldom do you find a male author who captures Gothic so well. It’s not just about a period but a landscape created by shadows, despair, and a backdrop of hopelessly flawed people who find redemption, of a sort. This is the first novel written by Robert Goolrick, called “The Reliable Wife”. It is a story teaming with rage, vengeance, lust and ultimately love and forgiveness.

A wealthy middle aged man (by today’s standards) stands at a train station in 1907,waiting for the woman who has answered his ad for a reliable wife. She had responded by writing that she was “a simple, honest woman”, and so the lies begin. If you are turned off by prostitution, seduction, or the side effects of arsenic poisoning you won’t get to the point of this story, nor enjoy it.  But there is so much more here.

Three people start out with their own plans only to have them go awry. Intense, passionate, brutal, tender. This book has it all. I was worried at the beginning of this story. It started with short, choppy sentences and I wasn’t sure I’d like it. It smoothed out and hooked me.  Great story, lots of twists and turns, and characters who evolve. This is a wild ride to the very end. Very entertaining. This author wrote a biographical version that is calling to me already.

Speaking of angry people acting out…Cathy Lamb’s book is going to be a how to guide. Not sure if I like the heroine of this, she’s kind of annoying to me so far. More tomorrow…