Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lagniappe–January 26, 2014


Life has been bustling on at our little cottage. Here are some highlights.

  • Wild Man was supposed to be the speaker for his youth group meeting last week, but it got cancelled because of icy and dangerous roads. I assume, he’ll be speaking this week if they don’t cancel because of the cold.
  • Wild Man did lead worship for the regular Sunday morning church services today! It was pretty impressive to see my 15 year old leading today and not just playing guitar or drums. I think this may be a special gift from God for him.
  • Rosie Girl is back at school and has had a good first week. She was concerned about her “First Year Seminar” which is about stories from various cultures, but the professor is the mom of one of her dance students from last year. And the content is more interesting than she expected.
  • Rosie Girl is also taking the only math class she’ll have to take in college. (She was soooooo close to testing out of math!) She was reassured, though, the first day of class that it won’t be too bad because she completely understood the material. Besides, PWM is a math tutor and they can always Skype if she needs help.
  • I found out at my audiology appointment this week that I really do have hearing loss and that the rest of the family is not actually mumbling at me for fun. I haven’t noticed problems when I’m out and about – at church and things like that – but, I do have to turn the TV up and I miss stuff on TV and when PWM and the kids talk to me. The audiologist said it’s bad enough that I might want to consider hearing aids. We’ll have to see what I think at my next visit because they certainly aren’t cheap. But, I’d like to be able to hear better. Hmmmmm.
  • We’ve been having installation installed in our house over the last week. That’s been interesting. The workers are very good about cleaning up after themselves – I don’t think my stairs will be vacuumed this thoroughly again for a good five years.  The cats freak out on a regular basis. We try to give them all a little reassurance, but the extra people and noise still makes them nervous.
  • The one good thing about all the insulation and energy-efficiency stuff is that I got a new hood over my stove! This one actually vents to the outside to prevent carbon monoxide build-up as well as get icky odors out of the kitchen. And it ha two lights which make the kitchen a much happier place.
  • PWM also had a doctor’s appointment this week and his blood sugar was officially in the diabetic range. Bummer. He has three months of intense diet and exercise to try to bring it down and avoid getting the diagnosis of Type 2 DM. So, it’s lots more healthy food and exercise for all of us.
  • The Polar Vortex is settling across the Upper Midwest again. It appears that the schools in our district are closed for tomorrow. They haven’t decided about Tuesday. So, Wild Man will be home all day tomorrow. Yay, he can do more math!!!
  • I have had a wildly productive day today. I cleaned the kitchen and living room, including vacuuming and I did the laundry. AccuWeather says that tomorrow is a high risk day for a migraine. Well, at least the house is clean.

So, that’s our life in a nutshell. The excitement level is low, but so are the temperatures. Although I don’t think those two things are actually related. I hope. I’m probably too tired to be writing any more. Let me know what’s up in your corner of the world!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

More Reviews!

More of what I’ve been reading and listening to in the last few months.

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – This is the classic of the “true crime” genre. Capote tells the story of a family who is murdered by two men whose ultimate goal is robbery. Along the way, we learn about the victims’ and the murderers’ lives and families as well as some of the criminology of the day. Fascinating and well-written. A+
  • The Sex Slave Murders by R. Barri Flowers – Another true crime novel. And the name is more lurid than the book. This is the story of a couple who committed serial murders because of the husband sexual compulsions. Interesting story about how a girl who grew up with “everything” in an upper middle class family with doting parents got ensnared by a man who apparently had no moral compass. I listened on audiobook. A-
  • Facing the Wind by Julie Salamon – This is the story of a man who had everything, a loving wife, three kids, and a good job. But, he lost his job and took over the day to day care of his disabled son and was overcome by severe depression and, in a fit of psychotic depression, killed his family but was unable to complete his own suicide. This is a fascinating look at the background of this man’s life, particularly life surrounding his disabled son, the situation surrounding the killing and the aftermath, and his attempt to put his life back together after he got out of the mental hospital. The book was really pretty good, but the narration got rather sing-songy. B
  • The Good Rat by Jimmy Breslin – This story of the Mafia felt rather disjointed to me. He appeared to be stringing together many narratives about the Mafia along the backbone of the  confession of a major organized crime figure (i.e. the Good Rat). I enjoyed listening to it, but the wandering nature of it made me a little disoriented at times. B
  • The Innocent Man by John Grisham – This is a true story by John Grisham about a man who was convicted for a crime he did not commit. Grisham is detailed without being dull. In the end, the protagonist, who spends time on death row, is exonerated with the help of DNA evidence and the Innocence Project. It’s a sobering look at what can happen to innocent people when law enforcement doesn’t step back to be objective. A+
  • A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger – In this story, the primary crime is the murder of a woman in Belmont, a suburb of Boston, right around the time that  the Boston Strangler was terrorizing the city. In fact, this murder might have been categorized as one of his except that it was “solved” so quickly despite the fact that the man never confessed and was convicted on circumstantial evidence. The author grew up a few blocks from this crime scene and one of the day laborers who worked on his house confessed to being the Boston Strangler. He wrote this book with scenes from his home renovation, the stranglings, and the Belmont murder case, weaving them in a cohesive story. Very Interesting book. A
  • The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales – This book is a combination of the story of the Bling Ring, the teenagers who broke into celebrities’ houses to steal things, and analyses of the culture that allowed such a Ring to flourish. It’s an enlightening book with lots of insights into youth and celebrity culture. A

What have you been reading? I’m always up for suggestions!

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–January 17, 2014


So, it’s Friday. Which is a good thing, I guess. Except that I’ve had a migraine all week, so I haven’t really noticed that it’s Friday. But, we’re here anyway.

  1. Wild Man has chosen not to audition for the school play this spring, which has caused great consternation for his band and choir director because they were planning for him to take a certain part. However, Wild Man is working on solos for Solo and Ensemble in Band and Choir, leading worship for the regular adult worship service about once a month, leading the youth worship band, and still trying to get his schoolwork done. Needless to say, PWM and I support his decision.
  2. Rosie Girl has been home for a month!!! Sadly, she leaves to go back to school sometime in the next few days. The people in this house will be sad, but probably not as sad as Sophie, her cat.
  3. Rosie Girl has been taking an online class called “Film Music”, but she’s been taking the 100 level class for non-music majors. She’s been taking it mostly for fun, but also to get her feet wet because she wants to work in the film music industry. The rest of the family has gotten to watch movies with her as well as listen to her “rants”, excuse me, analyses, of the scores. She takes her final tonight, but I’m pretty sure she has done quite well.
  4. Wild Man takes the ACT next month. I’m a little concerned about his reading speed because of his dyslexia, but he’s currently reading Oliver Twist and keeping up with his curriculum, so maybe I don’t need to worry.
  5. Last week was the Polar Vortex when the public schools were shut down for two days because of the cold. And it requires some serious cold to shut down schools around here. This week was the blizzard. And the attendant migraine. The headache started Monday night and wasn’t better till sometime yesterday morning. Yikes.
  6. And today, I decided that I’d better try to get back to some kind of normality from the migraine. I was really tired this afternoon, so I decided to take a walk on the treadmill instead of taking a nap. Then, I was having a healthy lunch of triscuits with cheese and spinach. Right in the middle of lunch, I developed one of the lovely vomiting and diarrhea episodes that I’ve been occasionally getting after a migraine. This one lasted about three hours. I think I’m finally perking back up, but I’ll wait another few hours to try to eat anything.
  7. We had an energy efficiency inspection done on our house last week. We found out that we’ve been heating our town as well as our house. Wild Man’s room is over the front porch and there’s no insulation between the porch and his room, so the poor kid has been sleeping pretty much outside. We’d have let him sleep in the hall. Really. Now, we move on to dealing with the lack of energy efficiency. They start work next week. On the good side, I get a range hood!! Also good, we get grandfathered in to all kinds of Incentives!! On the bad side, it’s going to cost money. On the good side, we’ll eventually make back that money by not spending to heat and cool the entire town. Eventually.

How was your week? Anything exciting? Did you survive the snowstorm – or did it storm where you are? Check out Conversion Diary to see what others are up to!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reviews–January 13, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted any reviews. I doubt I’ll remember everything I’ve read or listened to, but hopefully you’ll find some ideas for books.

  • A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin – This is the last book (so far) in the Song of Fire and Ice series. All I can really say about this book is that you shouldn’t believe a character is dead until their head is good and truly separated from their shoulders (and even then, it’s questionable). The armies are separating and merging for one great war that had better involve dragons. We’ll have to wait for the next book/s to find out! Note: lots of violence and sexuality. A-
  • The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg – I should tell you first of all that Fannie Flagg is one of my absolute favorite author and I was ecstatic when I heard that she had a new book coming out. And the book did not disappoint. The story takes place simultaneously in present day in southern Alabama and in the 1940’s in Pulaski, WI and then Texas. It’s a far-ranging story over time and place about how we construct our identity. I highly recommend it. A+
  • Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Webber – I like memoir, especially spiritual memoir. Nadia Bolz-Webber is a woman who doesn’t look like your typical “Christian” woman, much less a Lutheran pastor, and this book tells the story of how she got from alcohol and drugs to pastoring. Mostly, though, I like to read how much she loves Jesus, and she loves sharing Jesus with people who society is ready to give up on. It’s a great read! A
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – This is the third Gillian Flynn book I’ve read and I loved it (although not quite as much as the other two). The main character was the only survivor after her family was murdered when she was seven years old. Her brother was thought to be the one who committed the crime and is in prison for it. The book is an exploration of the crime and the truth behind what happened and the main character’s search for truth. It’s a bit dark, but I liked it. B
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – This was the second Gillian Flynn book I read and I found it gripping. The main character is a journalist who is sent back to her hometown to report on two suspicious deaths. This, of course, brings back her own issues. Again, it’s rather dark, but a good book. A-
  • Law and Disorder by John Douglas – Douglas is a retired FBI agent who wrote this book about cases where law enforcement could have done a better job or can learn lessons.  It’s a fascinating book. A
  • Shattered Innocence by Robert Scott – This is the story of Jacey Lee Duggard, the 11 year old girl who was kidnapped and held prisoner for 18 years, bearing 2 children to her captor. This is a fascinating story, particularly showing the failure of the legal system to keep a known kidnapper from kidnapping Jacey Lee Duggard and holding her for so long. B
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – This is a true story of a murder in Savannah, Georgia and the prosecution and appeals of the man who was convicted. There is a lot of commentary about other characters in Savannah society and it’s unclear who actually committed the murder, and we may never know. But, it was a good book.B
  • Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer – Another true crime story, but this one focused on a family that practiced polygamy. Ultimately, it was a story of faith, violence, and mental illness. Not bad. B-
  • Inferno by Dan Brown – I really dislike Dan Brown’s writing style, but his plots drag me in and the next thing I know, I’m halfway through the book and have to finish. It’s an addiction. This book takes place in Italy and has to do with Dante’s Inferno. B-
  • Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn – This is the first of the Gillian Flynn books that I read. Oh. My. Goodness. She gets you hooked into the story and you can’t put the book down. In this book, the main character’s wife is missing and appears to be abducted or murdered. But things are far more complex. And sinister. Definitely read this book. A
  • Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean Jensen – This story about Lillian Leitzel is truly fascinating. It starts with her birth in Eastern Europe and her early years working on the trapeze and continues through the golden years of circuses in the United States and ends with her death in a European ballroom. A good read. A-

I didn’t include any audiobooks this time because this list just got too long. I’ll do the audiobooks later. I  hope you find something new to try. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Words for the Year - 2014

Since I no longer do New Year’s Resolutions, I do a “Word for the Year”. This year I’m actually doing two words for the year since they’re kind of related. Ready? Here they are:


Abide – As in “Abide in Christ” I chose this word somewhat in honor of my friend Gary, who went to be with Jesus this year. It was his goal to help people learn to “abide in Christ”, so one of my goals this year is to learn more how to “abide in Christ”. Here are some steps I want to take toward this end.

  • I am going to work harder at getting our small group together. OK, it’s me and PWM and one other couple. Not much of a small group, but it’s all we can manage right now. And it’s one way I can connect closely with other believers. My headaches make me such a hermit but I think this small group can help with with my walk with Jesus.
  • I’m going to focus on John 15 and I John, the scriptures that talk most about abiding in Christ (in the NASB – the NIV uses the word “remain”).
  • Listen to more music that helps me relax and focus on Jesus. Some of this is worship music, but others is just classical or other instrumental music.

Abode – As in our home. We moved into this house about one year ago and I’m still trying to make it a home.

  • The bright yellow wall in the kitchen/dining room is still bothering me. I don’t think I want to paint it blue anymore, but a lighter shade of yellow would be nice.
  • The upstairs closet could stand a good organizing.
  • Sometime in the spring, Wild Man and I will meet my parents in Mississippi and get some furniture that used to be in their trailer and bring it back up here. I’ll finally have some real living room furniture!

I’m only twelve days into the New Year! I can do this!

What about you? Any New Year’s Resolutions, Words, Ideas, etc.?

Monday, January 06, 2014

Welcome, 2014

Thus far, 2014 has been characterized by, wait for it . . . , headaches!! I’ll bet you never would have guessed. Yep, lots of headaches. But, what else has been going on in the New Year?

  • Rosie Girl is home for almost a month! She is taking an online Winterim class on Film Music. She is taking the section for non-music majors, even though she’s a music major. She plans to take the music major’s version in her sophomore or junior year.
  • Wild Man was gone this weekend to the District Youth Conference. By all accounts, he had fun. Since he’s been home, he’s mostly been sleeping.
  • One of the big triggers for this round of headaches has been the recent weather. We’ve had some snow. But, the biggest problem has been the Arctic air mass that gave us high temps today of –15. Wild Man doesn’t have band or choir today or tomorrow because the public schools have closed. We’re not supposed to see temps above zero for another day or so. Obviously, I haven’t gone outside.
  • Football! We were glad to see Alabama beaten by whoever beat them. Then the Saints won! But, then the Packers lost (in single-digit temperatures!). And, tonight, we’re watching FSU vs. Auburn and I can’t decide who I want to win.
  • We still have Christmas decorations up. See the aforementioned headache information. I like to take it down around the 6th so I can pretend that I planned to do it on Epiphany and it feels all spiritual. This year, the decorations come down when they come down.
  • Resolutions – nope. I do have a word for the year, but I’ll write about that in a day or two when my head is a little calmer and we know who wins the BCS game!

How has your New Year been?