"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

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reading Challenges Progress Report

Where has 2009 gone? We are almost halfway through, so I decided I had better look at my progress towards fulfilling my various reading challenges for 2009.

First things first--not counting the three new word guides/dictionaries that now reside very close to hand, I have read a total of 55 books so far. Some have been oriented towards paper crafts or studio design; others have been writing guides or computer software manuals. Several have been non-fiction on United States history or geography as I have continued my research for TGAN (aka The Great American Novel). A few have been on healthy eating and the dreaded four-letter word, "diet" (which should be a word more associated with healthy eating in general and less connected with weight-loss; but I digress....)

So, on to the specific challenges--here's what I have read and what is left for the second half of the year:

"On The Porch Swing" Challenge

1) A book with Married/Marriage/Marrying in the title: (this is not my normal genre, so I may have to really search the library for this one)

2) A book with Friends/Friendship in the title: (a similar situation as #1)

3) A book with Summer/Winter in the title: (well, looks as if I really need to study the card catalog LOL!)

4) A book with a Flower Name in the title: (I have some of Kate Collins' Flower Shop series of cozy mysteries in my TBR mountain and they are quite enjoyable, so this is doable soon)

"In Their Shoes" Challenge (this is any four memoirs)

1) "Harry, A History"

2) TBD

3) TBD

4) TBD

I actually have several memoirs here to choose from so this challenge will be met as long as I make the time to read...

"Mystery Reader Cafe" Challenge

1) A book with Murder in the title: "Maid for Murder"

2) A book set in my region: (I haven't quite decided how narrow my geographic area will be for this one; if I use something set in Texas, I have a couple of Susan Wittig Albert's great China Bayles series here that have not yet been read--although I was hoping to collect the whole series first. I believe there is also a debutante series set here in Dallas that while cute, don't seem to be keepers, so one of those may be my choice here)

3) A book that has been on my TBR shelf/mountain at least a year: (I have at least 100+ to choose from for this part of the challenge)

4) A book from a "new to you" author: "Wreath of Deception"

If all the links work right, my PBSwap reviews should show up for the few books that have met individual challenges. My friends tell me I work too hard and play too little, so I should read more for fun I suppose. Out of the 55 titles read so far this year, there have been "fun" titles: The Star Wars Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven volumes), three of the four Twilight books...and of course, before July 15, I simply must re-read Harry Potter 5 - 7 so I am ready for the new movie LOL!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weather Weary and A Case of the "Shoulds"

It has begun--summer in Texas. Freak thunderstorms this week followed by muggy and warm (I don't dare use the term "hot" yet; we have not hit 100 degrees).

Rubenesque women like me usually don't handle heat well, especially in the "change" years. I also don't like electric bills over $100, so setting the air conditioning below 80-82 is not an option. Fans help. So does the fact that by working from home, I can work in shorts and t-shirts. I seldom use the oven--summer brings lots of salads and meals cooked in the microwave. Grilling is out (our apartment complex does not allow a grill on your patio).

Lethargy sets in when it is hot. I now have hours of daylight when I get off work, which "should" help me accomplish many things in the evening. Of course, late afternoon is the hottest part of the day. These are days to write or research or craft, not days to take my too-fair, easily sunburned skin out into the heat--yet I feel I "should" be doing so much more.

I "should" walk to the library to return my books, but I pull up the website and renew them (again). I "should" walk across the street to buy the big bag of clear-tasting ice, but I pull out the old ice trays and fill them with tap water. I "should" take the books I need to mail for Paperback Swap up to the apartment office so they can go out today, but I print the postage for tomorrow's date because I can get a ride to the post office.

It is just June (and not even the Solstice for heaven's sake) so I cannot allow the summer heat to annihilate my plans. One day at a time and one step at a time, I will accomplish many small feats these next 3 months.

Let's see--what's on the To-Do list that can be done on the laptop in front of the fan?????

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Background Noise Challenge

I've followed Trish's posts as a lurker on Next Generation Stampers (a Yahoo Group) for a very long time. I lurk there because, like so many who have begun creating art as adults, I have a very active inner critic who states nothing I could create would be worthy of posting to show to others. Trish's creativity and inspiration allows me to think about art every day, even if I don't find time to actually produce any work.

In an effort to silence my inner critic, I am attempting to become more active artistically (maybe make something once a week?). This blog helps as does my novel-in-progress (lovingly called TGAN for "The Great American Novel").

Learning new backgrounds for my cards and bookmarks is yet another way to tell the critic to MYOB. This Background Noise Challenge has finally nagged at me to the point of playing. I am not yet quite ready to post on her blog, but don't be surprised if I post some backgrounds here soon (especially the watercolour wash backgrounds)...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Movie Mania

I love movies but I am frugal so movie going in the evening has not been a part of my life for a long time. I recently found (through a frugal friend) a Cinemark theatre here in the D/FW Metroplex that has $2.50 adult ticket prices (even on weekends) for any showing before 6 PM. Awesome!

Needless to say, Sunday was movie day. This summer will be a bumper crop of movies for me (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince anyone?) and I will be looking for Cinemark theatres for as many of them as possible: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; UP! (which was sold out Sunday and full of kids); Public Enemies (eye candy AKA Johnny Depp and Christian Bale); Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs...without cheap matinee prices, I'd go broke trying to see everything that is soon to hit the big screen.

BFF Ruth and I spent a wonderful day together; we started with Star Trek and then took a break for lunch at Luby's and ended with Angels and Demons. If we hadn't done lunch and a quick run through DeSoto (I grew up there and graduated from DHS; she lived there for many years), we might have had time for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but I'm a bit glad we didn't as I am not sure I could have handled all the excitement LOL!

I'm really going to try for no spoilers here (sheepish grin). Star Trek had me crying before the opening title sequence. Fantastic movie and great casting. Yes, as stated in an earlier post, I am a die-hard Star Wars fan, but this Star Trek reminded me that I was once a fanatic Trekkie and I am now enjoying the various Trek incarnations on cable whenever possible. I found myself wondering what the surviving cast members of the original Trek (especially Nichelle Nichols) think about the way their characters are portrayed. I was personally quite excited and sitting on the edge of my seat for much of the film. This is a "buy the 2-disc + digital copy version the day the DVD comes out" film. And, are they filming the sequel yet?

Then, after that wonderful experience, what can I say about Angels and Demons? I had loved the book and can think of no better Robert Langdon than Tom Hanks. Ron Howard's direction is exacting and particularly suited for this material. The screenwriting was tight. We were able to get enough information about the Vatican's policies and procedures to understand the conclave (I really love to go to movies where I learn just enough about something that I am intrigued to go do further research on my own). I also had read the book long enough ago that I was totally engrossed in the ending. Of course, any movie with Ewan McGregor will hold my attention while he is on screen...and I'm saving my pennies for the 2-disc version of this movie as well.

Both movies were thrilling. They each had thought-provoking scenes and edge-of-your-seat moments, and I got to see them both for $5. Who could ever ask for more?

Live Long and Prosper!