"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Earth Week 2008--Can I Have A Greener Future?

There's a new "widget" at the bottom (I don't know how to make it fit in the sidebar) that shows ideas for making our lives greener. Readers who know me know I was a Girl Scout and as an adult spent several years working in sanitation/recycling, so my love of the environment has been a part of me from girlhood. (Kinda amazing for someone who has often been told her idea of "roughing it" was a motel room with a black & white TV LOL!)

Earth Day was Tuesday; Arbor Day is tomorrow. I currently reside in an apartment with no recycling facilities and no collection facilities nearby. Some may think greening my life isn't worth it--after all, it's just me, right? Nope--wrong answer. One person can make a difference.

I will be adding more "green" to this blog since I want to share the small successes this coming year. The washer/dryer I am purchasing is Energy Star rated as is my PC, and I am switching bulbs bit by bit in the apartment fixtures to CFLs (my lamps already are). When checking out at the store, the clerks at Braums and Wal-Mart are quite used to me having my own, reusable bags (http://www.ecobags.com has several great styles); I purchased mine at different times from Whole Foods, Central Market, Target, and Half-Price Books and paid very little for them. The other advantage is I know approximately the weight limit for each bag and my own limitations on how many full bags I can carry home (any trek less than a mile doesn't deserve bus fare).

Our daytime highs are in the eighties now, so I am running a small portable fan in my office during the day and my dining room ceiling fan in the evening. Luckily the wind has been active and my windows are situated to give a breeze; I am quite determined to not run the air conditioning until at least May 1st. (I love my electric bills being below $50/month!)

Of course, public transportation has provided my mobility since returning to the Dallas area in 2005. DART continues to expand and I am seeing a steady increase in ridership, especially on the trains (what is the price of a gallon of gas these days????) A day pass good anywhere in Dallas County for unlimited rides that day--bus and/or train--costs $3 and I can read to my heart's content rather than grumble at traffic conditions.

I'm looking for a very small supply of red wigglers for vermicomposting (it is only me after all) but haven't been successful to this point. I may ask on Freecycle. My patio only has room for one worm bin and I am too frugal to pay $29/lb plus shipping when I don't think I generate enough waste to support that many worms.

I have a water pitcher for the refrigerator that filters my drinking water and have totally discontinued using single serve bottled water. I have reusable bottles for when I go out, and from some of the studies I've read, I am happier with the tap water I get from the city than I could be with some of the bottled waters that may not be as regulated for quality.

So, I'm partially green. Hopefully by Earth Day 2009, I will have reported many more small changes that help add up to a measurable difference...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

March Reading List

March was a month full of fun reading to counteract work stress. Out of the ten books I finished, only one was a lackluster read. Of course, finally getting a library card is adding to my TBR mountain--five of my completed books came from the library. (Please don't ask how many I have checked out right now LOL!)

The lone disappointment was The #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I really wanted to like this book--the entire series wins raves and great reviews, but it just wasn't my style. I may read some of the others eventually from the library, but they won't rate using PBS points.

My annual re-read of The Hobbit took place in March. Surprisingly, perhaps because I had just seen a documentary on JRR Tolkien, I realized--for the first time--the writing style was much more juvenile than his trilogy. If I were to classify this novel today, it would be juvenile fiction--great juvenile fiction, but juvenile just the same. I'm not following it soon with The Lord of the Rings, primarily because I'm busy putting together the world for TGAN and her setting needs to be as unique as possible.

Patricia Sprinkle's series excited me--I read both Who Invited the Dead Man? and Who Left that Body in the Rain? and now I'm hungry for more; these were library copies, but I want to collect them. Just Desserts by G A McKevett is a new series I found thru PBS that I am collecting. Both Sprinkle and McKevett write of normal looking Southern women who may be polite but can kick a** when necessary and who have brains despite the fact they were brought up to be ornamental. As a member of that same generation of Southern belles, I really relate to standing up for what is right and doing it with a smile while you offer coffee, sweet tea, or a whuppin!

Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss was an okay read. I found it at the library and since it seemed to be a first effort, I checked it out before using PBS points. I'm glad I did. Although I'll read more by Ms. Bliss, they aren't "keeper" material for me.

On the other hand, Death of a Musketeer by Sara D'Almeda went straight from the library list to the "gotta have in hardcover" list! I've always loved the Musketeers and this series premise is phenomenal! I can just see many of my favorite Musketeers thru the years (Michael York, John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons, Keifer Sutherland, et. al.) portray their roles in this story. Lovers of swashbuckling adventure will almost swoon at the love for the characters that shines thru as Ms. D'Almeda creates her story lines.

Charlaine Harris' first novel, Sweet and Deadly, is also worth collecting. I had already read and loved Grave Sight so I expected something paranormal yet fun and I got it!

Crewel World, Monica Ferris' first novel in a series was so good, I jumped at the chance to get an anthology edition of her first three Betsy Devonshire novels when I went to Half Price Books. The other two in that anthology may have to wait a bit since I'm trying to participate in a couple of group reads in April.

Finally, I read The Iron Lance by Stephen Lawhead. I truly enjoy his works--this is the first of a trilogy set during the Celtic Crusades. I have the other two volumes and hope to fit them into April somehow.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Two Busy Weeks

Are days and hours getting shorter? I log off the work PC at 5:30 and the next thing I know, I turn around and it is midnight! Blog ideas flit into my head while working on something else and then they fly away like Tinkerbell headed for Neverland...guess I need to work on my focus.

Much good has been accomplished lately, and I love my busy life. I actually took a vacation day (more for my mental health than anything) and used it to attend the Grand Opening of my local Half Price Books (www.halfpricebooks.com) where I picked up quite a few bargains. I spent fifty cents for a paperback Russian/English dictionary that has already contributed to several collaged bookmarks made for friends. The store was smaller than I expected, but the selection is marvelous. It also sits between a Home Depot and a Lowes so I restocked my paint sample supply. I stil haven't worked up the courage to ask for old wallpaper books though; I don't really know why that has always been so hard for me--I read where others do it all the time. Maybe next time...

Recent art purchases include a Melting Pot, UTEE, and a Crop-A-Dile thanks to 50% off deals at Michaels. I also got a great buy on Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 through a friend...and continued to research digital cameras.

So, I'm a few steps closer to posting pictures of my work; just not there yet. Living on a cash-only basis has many rewards but it also means progress is measured differently. No debt hanging over my head is liberating...choosing between art supplies and groceries is sometimes tough LOL!

One of the mantras I picked up lurking on a Yahoo group site is "Make Art Everyday" and I have been able to spend some time each day since this blog started in some artistic pursuit. It's as if simply putting my hopes and dreams and wishes out into cyberspace is making me more aware of them on a daily basis. If I'm not playing with paper, I'm researching history for my novel or I'm looking up techniques for altered art or cardmaking.

So, sporadic or not, this blog has already made 2008 the year I move forward on my "bucket list" goals. Life is good and living may not always easy, but it is certainly rewarding.