Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm a Dog Person!

I know there are some people in the world that don't care for animals in general, but for the rest of us, we seem to be either dog or cat people.I am a dog person myself, but not a cat hater. I could have just as easily enjoyed being a cat owner, but discovered in my teens that I am horribly allergic to them. I think they're great pets for small spaces and much easier to care for than dogs in some ways.
For several years I've been wanting a dog of my own, someone small, like a Norwich terrier. I grew up with dogs in the house and they are great companions, so happy when you arrive home, love to go for walks or drives, and someone to sleep on your feet and keep them warm in the winter! First my landlord wouldn't allow any pets, and then when I bought my own place my family wanted me to wait because of my health. It's a good thing I did because I couldn't give a dog all the energy it would need right now. I do get to see my parents' and sister's dogs all the time. They are both mutts, which these days people are calling "hybrids". They are both 15 years old to the month, but are aging quite differently. Bo still thinks he's a puppy, and does a crazy run around the house and all the furniture when he gets home, barks at leaves blowing across the yard, and wants to play fetch. Murphy is an old man. He has cataracts in both eyes and can only see shapes, the vet thinks. He walks into walls and sometimes just walks in circles because he doesn't know what to do. He sleeps all day and doesn't hear people coming or going from the house. Although I grew up with dogs, neither lived to old age. One died of a heart tumor that no one knew about. He was at the vet's when we were on a vacation, so we just came home and were told. The other dog escaped from a kennel while we were on vacation, never to be seen again. Watching Murphy age has reminded me so much of Marley and Me that when I saw the ad for the movie coming out on DVD, I thought of this post. Everything John wrote about Marley getting old is exactly like Murphy, except Murph is so small it's easy to carry him up and down stairs. He stays with me when they go on vacations and he is a great little companion.
I read the book and really wanted to see the movie at Christmas time, but I couldn't walk that far through the lobby and into the theater, so I'm glad I will be able to get it On Demand or from Netflix starting tomorrow. Have you seen it? Is it as good as the book?
Another dog movie that I can watch again and again is Best in Show
which is written and directed by Christopher Guest. I enjoy all of his films: Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, etc. but this one about all of the quirky characters at a New York dog show is absolutely hysterical. So what about you? Are you a dog or cat person?


Monday, March 30, 2009

Blue Flame

A few months ago I did a post about many of the BLUE cars that have come through my life. For this BLUE MONDAY I have finally found a photo of my very first car, which was BLUE.
Do you name your cars? I know lots of people do. I've had cars with names, but they just kind of fell into them. I showed you Louis the Wondercar, a 1967 Colony Park Wagon. I also had a silver 1978 Mercury Monarch in high school, which was christened the Silver Streak by a teacher as I drove up the winding hill to the school, and the White Rocket, a Chevy station wagon. These were all my parents' cars that I was "privileged" to drive, but my very first car of my own was a spark BLUE 1988 Subaru XT coupe.I loved this car! It had those headlights that popped up out of the hood, was very sporty, and had all the available luxuries of its time. It was a standard shift, so I thought I was pretty cool, too! LOL This picture shows 2 of my students with the car outside of our "temporary" classroom building. I loved being able to park right by the door, especially with all of the things elementary school teachers are always lugging to and from work.
Hope you have a great time checking out all of the other BLUE being featured today at Smiling Sally!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Boneman's Daughters: a review

BoneMan's Daughters by New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker is being touted by critics as his best work ever. I have never read anything by this author, mostly because the covers of his books didn't really appeal to me; they always seemed like scary stories, and I can't handle those! While Boneman's Daughters was definitely a psychological and adventurous thriller, it wasn't scary, at least not to me!
Navy Intelligence officer Ryan Evans has been through a harrowing ordeal as a hostage in Iraq. After two years he is coming home to his wife Cecile and daughter Bethany in Austin, TX. Feeling that Ryan abandoned them, Cecile and Bethany want nothing to do with him. Cecile is beginning divorce proceedings and has become engaged to the county district attorney.
At the same time, DA Burt Welsh has been forced to release a convicted serial killer known in the media as The Boneman, due to tainted evidence. This man killed six young women by breaking all of the bones in their bodies.
When the Boneman resurfaces after two years of no activity, he takes Ryan's daughter. The time frame coincides with both the release of the convicted killer, and Ryan's return to Austin, but evidence begins to point to Ryan actually being the Boneman. From this point the story becomes a chase across the middle of Texas through Waco, El Paso, San Antonio and back to Austin. Given a deadline in which he can save his daughter, Ryan is chasing the Boneman and the FBI and DA are chasing Ryan.
BoneMan's Daughters is more than a serial killer adventure thriller. Ryan has plenty of time to philosophize as he drives across the state, reflecting on his past actions as a father, and what he wants to do in the future to mend his relationship with Bethany. The Boneman, in his way, is also philosophizing about becoming a father and what that will do to enrich his own life. Who will be Bethany's father in the end? Will she have a choice?
Although BoneMan's Daughters has some violence, it is well-written and does not contain strong language or sexual situations. It definitely has a spiritual tone in places, and after reading Ted Dekker's biography I learned that his early novels were classified as Christian fiction, although his current writing is considered mainstream. I am passing this book on to my friend Paul, the one who carved me that great wizard. He loves Stephen King, Dean Koontz and others of this genre, so I think he will like this one, too.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pinkety-Pink Hat

SORRY! I messed up the date on my pre-posting, so I am late w/ Pink Saturday. OOPS!
Hip-Hop! Pinkety-Pink! It's Saturday and time to think Pink! Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound is hosting over 140 (!) pink visitors today. Stop by and see what they are showing off.I have this awesome soft pink hat from the late 1950s or early 60s. It was my mom's of course, but not from the basement...from the upstairs hallway closet. Uh huh, we have things packed away everywhere!
I love the little flowerbuds on the netting and the way it swirls into the center. Behind it you can see its hat box from G. Fox and Company, which was a big department store where my mother worked when she was attending secretarial school. Wouldn't this hat be great with the jewelry I showed you for Vintage Thingies Thursday?
Do you ever wear hats for fashion? I don't, but I enjoy playing with them and think I look pretty good in them, too! Ha!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wonderful Surprises!

I went to the mailbox the other day and was very excited to have two plump manila envelopes waiting along with the TV Guide. They were surprises from two bloggy friends!The first thing I opened was this folio made by Barbara from Basia Spirit Space. Inside there is a compartment for every month, and she has filled it with ATCs all with the theme of birds. They are each so different and she used really cool techniques. She sent me this as a thank-you for a prize she received from my blog. You should really go and check out all of her amazing art. She works in a variety of mediums.The second was a packet with a variety of vintage cards from Bea at Bea's Blabber. She enclosed a note that said she had noticed I used vintage images in my card-making and when she came across these she just thought I could use them. How extremely thoughtful!
Neither Barbara nor Bea knew it, but I really needed a little pick-me-up that day. I had been feeling a little down about blogging and why I did it, etc. This was due to the fact that recently I've sent out a number of prizes and giveaways and gotten no response from the recipient. I don't need someone gushing or even sending me gorgeous folios, but a quick email that a package arrived seems only courteous. I was under the impression that when you received a prize, you showed it off on your blog and linked back to the sender. I'm not selling anything, but I know that many craftspeople do giveaways hoping for the publicity. Anyhow, I just thought I'd get that off my chest. The majority of bloggers let me know when a package arrives and always say thanks.Thank you for reading my rant!
What do you think? Am I being a big baby?

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sparkling Springtime Jewelry

According to Etsy, vintage is anything 20 years or more old. So that pretty means everything from my lifetime! Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by sweet Suzanne at Colorado Lady. She has a bunch of red vintage thingies to show you, as do all of the participants who have linked up, so be sure to check them out!To welcome Spring, I am showing off this great brooch and earring set that were my mom's and are now mine. They are only missing 1 pink stone from one of the earrings and people don't even notice it. I've never converted the clip earrings to pierces because they stay on nicely and don't hurt or annoy me. They were made by BSK, a New York company started in the 1940s and closed in the 1970s. Benny Steinberg, Hy Slovitt and Mr Kashe were the founding members of the company, which manufactured higher end costume jewelry.
I hope this inspired some of you to get out your springtime jewels before Easter! Don't forget to visit the other participants listed at Colorado Lady!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How's Your Writing?

I read about this idea at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? I've always had a fascination with handwriting styles and fonts, so I thought I would do it and people can analyze me based on my handwriting.

On a piece of paper-I suggest paper without lines, since analysts say it gives people more freedom of expression-write in your normal handwriting:

  • who tagged you
  • your name / username / pseudo
  • right-handed or left-handed
  • your favorite letters to write
  • your least favorite letters to write?
  • Write “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Tag five persons. Or not! I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you decide to do this meme, I'd appreciate a link back.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gearing Up for Easter

When I was a kid, my mom always made an Easter egg tree using plastic eggs, hanging them from a maple tree in the front yard. In fact, a lot of people had them. I don't see these trees very often anymore, but many people have trees for different holidays inside their homes, or Easter wreaths and displays. I was looking for some new crafts, and came across a ton of ideas with full instructions at Better Homes & Gardens. I love to look at the gorgeous room designs and get information on gardening or craft ideas. I like the way the site is designed, it's easy to find what I'm looking for, the instructions are usually very specific and the pictures are a good size.
There is a main page for BH&G's Easter ideas where things are broken down into categories. These are some of my favorite easy crafts.Instead of baskets this year, why not cans? You can buy paint-style cans at a craft store, or clean out some you have in the basement. There are also foods that come in large cans that could be used. Jazz them up with scrapbook paper, fabric, jewels, and ribbon to make them completely personal.
I love this Rascal Rabbit box. It would be cute to make as a teacher or hostess gift. Put some of those small Reese's peanut butter eggs in it. YUM!I am definitely going to try to bejewel some paper mache eggs. I can't believe I didn't think of this myself! It's very fashionable to have a bowl of wooden or grapevine balls on the coffee table these days. Why not take that to the seasonal level with some sparkly eggs that you can use every year?
BH&G has ideas for tablescapes, centerpieces, foods, and games, which could be really helpful if the weather doesn't allow for kids going outside on the holiday.
I hope you try a new craft this season, too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whimsical Wizard

It's another BLUE MONDAY, with all sorts of cool blue things displayed on participating blogs. China, chickens, churches, anything goes! Check in with Smiling Sally to see what she and the other gals are showing off.
I have this nifty carving that my friend Paul made for me several years ago. He calls it a whimsy because it serves no real purpose, and it's a great conversation piece. Can you see the two wooden balls inside the base? He carves those through the sides after he makes the arches. It's amazing to watch him work! The wizard is painted blue, of course. Sometimes he paints the wizards red and calls them Santas. I also have another whimsy he made me with a snowman on top. I keep them both out year-round in my china cabinet.
Be sure to check out Smiling Sally and the other participants for their BLUE MONDAY offerings. Stop in again and have a great week!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Secrets to Happiness: a review

By page 10 I had laughed out loud in public 3 times! I began reading Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn at my local diner over breakfast. Fortunately everyone there, proprietors and patrons alike, know me, so they didn't think the laughing lady sitting alone by the window was crazy! The first thing I have to say about Secrets to Happiness is that the author is very witty, giving vivid similes for the reader to imagine, along with hilarious one-liners from many of the characters. However, the book has more layers than humor. It explores the human condition and the need of many people to have what they want right now, no matter the effect on others, or the long-term consequences for themselves.
Holly Frick lives in Manhattan and is a writer for a children's program. She has been divorced for a year, and is still having trouble getting past that relationship. Although her friend Amanda frequently reminds her of how miserable she was in her marriage, Holly was still in love with her husband when he walked out and didn't see it coming. Unknown to Amanda, Holly has recently been getting on with her life by having a fling with a 22 year old, the brother of an acquaintance. When Holly adopts Chester, a dog with a brain tumor, her friends think she doesn't actually want to be happy with her life. Chester and Lucas, the two men in Holly's life, help her gain some clarity on who she is.
Holly is surrounded by many others also seeking the Secrets to Happiness. The reader meets these people as Holly runs into them on the street, or through a phone call, and then learns about the person and how he is sabotaging his own quest to find happiness. Her writing partner, Leonard, hides in a world of excess to escape his feelings of failure, Jack dabbles in religion thinking he will find peace, and Betsy, in her desire to find a man of her own, has become a doormat. I'm pretty sure the dog on the book jacket holds the secret to happiness: lay in the sun and get your belly rubbed! Bliss!
I really enjoyed Secrets to Happiness because its somewhat deep messages arre presented in such a playful and funny way that I did not get bogged down philosophizing while I was reading, which I often do if a book is trying too hard to be insightful. Secrets to Happiness is Sarah Dunn's second novel. I am going to get her first, The Big Love, from my library.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Cradle: a book review

Marissa's desire that her soon to be born child use her own childhood cradle is the impetus that begins her husband's journey around the mid-West, tracking it down in the summer of 1997. The Cradle was taken by Marissa's mother when she abandoned Marissa and her father, Glen, many years before. The family has not heard from or about Caroline in all of that time, but armed with the address of Caroline's sister, Matt sets off with the hope of being home by dinner time.
Of course it's not that easy, and this becomes a story about Matt facing his own childhood demons as he encounters irrationally strange people who have known Caroline through the years. Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Matt is back and forth, alone for almost a week, driving and thinking about how much he loves Marissa and how important she is to him, as well as wanting to be a good father to his son, although he does not have a good role model to follow, having grown up in the foster care system. Marissa's need for this cradle, changes their lives dramatically, forever.
The secondary story line takes place in the winter of 2004, with Renee, a writer, whose old wounds are torn open as her son prepares to go to Iraq. In 1968 she lost her fiancee in the Vietnam War. This has colored every decision she has made since, including the secret she has kept from her husband Bill. The two story lines intersect seamlessly near the end of the book, in 2004.
I enjoyed Patrick Somerville's style of writing with The Cradle. I can't quite explain it, but I felt peaceful, yet excited, the whole time I was reading. I read it straight through in three hours, enjoying the slow-moving tempo of Matt driving the highways of the midwest, yet excited to see if he would find the cradle or Caroline, and what other wacky characters he would encounter in his quest.
The Cradle is Patrick Somerville's debut novel. He has also written a book of short stories called Trouble.