March 06, 2007

a book meme

In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *On Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) - Oh the hate. I would describe this book as incest and pig's tails.
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. *Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E. B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In the Skin of a Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

You will note that this indicates I pretty much only own the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books. This is true! I have owned some of the others in the past but I think many of them are at my mom's house (including, as a matter of fact, some of the Harry Potters. I just don't remember which ones.) All of this to say I'm a firm believer in library books.

December 27, 2006

garden: year in review

1. Tomatoes - didn't grow too tall, fruited quite abundantly. Seemed to do better with the drought/heat than the ones last year.

2. Oregano - grew like a weed, presumably it will overwinter outside again.

3. Asters - oddly bloomed for a while in July, made a sad attempt to bloom again in October. One seems afflicted with something unpleasant.

4. Gaillardia - doing fine.

5. Bougainvilla - seemed very pleased to be repotted, grew a lot, didn't bloom much.

6. Miniature roses - did reasonably well, bloomed when fed.

7. Pink fragrant geranium - seemed quite happy, bloomed frequently.

8. Geranium 'sparkle' - unhapppy. Bloomed for a while, seems to be in soil that doesn't drain well enough.

9. Abutilon orange-red - doing well, bloomed multiple times.

10. Abutilon yellow - flowered, doing OK.

11. Abutilon variagated 1&2 - 1 seems vaguely unhealthy. 2 bloomed until I killed its leaves trying to get rid of whitefly. Note to self, do not make homemade whitefly repellent.

12. Abutilon mixed in pot - flowered well, had caterpillar problem. Think it is resolved.

13. Abutilon mixed red/white - flowered in the beginning, started to look unhealthy later on. I think it needs to be cut back after every flowering.

14. Shrimp plant variagated - didn't flower.

15. Shrimp plant regular - didn't flower.

16. Clematis - did much better with mulch and fertilizer. Bloomed a couple times.

17. Yellow rose - attacked by japanese beetles, did well regardless. Grows like a freaking weed. Lots of flowers.

18. Coreopsis in concrete planter - happy and more abundant every year.

19. Gerbera daisy - stopped flowering. Don't think it liked being in with zinnias and portulacas.

20. Zinnias - flowered admirably. Grew weedy at end of summer, but oh well.

21. Portulacas - very happy. Had to be removed in october due to black aphid type infestation.

22. Jasmine - grew like a weed, happily flowering now.

23. Brugmansia - produced 4 flowers. V. nice.

25. Jewel of Opar - flowered, v. pretty.

26. Ruellia - flowered several times, seems quite happy. Tends to grow overly tall.

27. Chives - had an affliction of black aphid. Killed them off through drowning, neglect. Seems to be doing OK/insect free now.

November 20, 2006


We've reached the time of year where it is regularly getting close to freezing every night. The daytime weather is often still quite nice (it's supposed to be almost 60 on Thanksgiving this year) but we've turned the central heating on. I don't really like central heat; I don't like the constant noise from the blowing air, I don't like the way it dries out my skin and I don't think it's very efficient. The uninsulated heat ducts run through the unheated and uninsulated basement area (plus an shoddily insulated duct runs outside to reach the sunroom) and there is undoubtedly a lot of heat loss there.

Last winter we conducted an "experiment" where out of a combination of attempted energy conservation and cheap-assedness we kept the heat turned down as low as we could stand. This turned out to be right around 59 degrees F during waking hours, and turned down to high 40s at night. Daytime was more unpleasant than night; while at home I typically wore sweatpants with multiple blankets draped around me at all times and I seriously considered getting some of those fingerless gloves.

We won't be repeating the experiment again this year for a couple of reasons. One, while energy conservation is a noble idea, it's not worth suffering for. Even with blanket layers, I was still cold pretty much all the time. It kind of surprised me, because the thought of temperatures around 60 degrees conjures up images of springtime and warm weather. In elementary school, a 60 degree day in April would definitely have been warm enough to wear shorts. But for some reason it's not warm enough for long term wintertime comfort. The other reason we won't be doing it again is that we don't have a programmable thermostat. It was a bitch to wake up to those 46 degree mornings and get out of the (warm, cozy duvet covered) bed before the apartment heated up.

I think the ideal heating system would be radiant underfloor heating with a couple portable electric mini-heaters. Having warm floors all the time would be so nice, and it's silent, efficient and shouldn't do too much in the way of causing dry air. The only downside is that it takes a while to get warmed up, but much of that could be taken care of with a programmable thermostat and the mini-heaters would fill the gap. They could be moved around to warm whichever room(s) one was currently using.

Radiators would probably be the second best option, although they are less optimal because of the way the corner of the room where the radiator is located tends to get too warm, while the other end of the room remains chilly (same goes for electric baseboard heaters).

I thought about this a lot during last year's cold winter.

November 19, 2006


D. is out of town for a conference and last night I took myself out to dinner(delicious!) at noodles. As I was sitting at my table, waiting for my food, the elderly couple next to me got up to leave. The man asked me if my husband wasn't there yet, and I told him the husband in question is on a business trip, it's just me for dinner. He said ah, a business trip. I used to have to do that when I was younger. We lived in Wisconsin.

At this point his wife started hustling him away. "He has Alzheimer's", she whispered to me. I didn't get a chance to respond to either of them because my food was arriving, and by the time the waitress gave me everything they were gone. His questions/responses didn't really seem weird, and it saddened me that she seemed embarrassed that he was talking to me.

Almost every time I think about Alzheimer's disease I think about the book The Notebook, which I read sometime in high school. Yes, I know they made a movie, no, I haven't seen it, thanks for asking. I have no idea how I mistakenly read this book, because it's the kind of thing I wouldn't normally touch in a million years. It's basically a sappy love story, only at the end after the wife develops Alzheimer's, her husband uses "the notebook" to read to her (over and over) their love story that she no longer remembers. Oh, it's tragic. I cried.

I don't know where I'm going with this.


The first fully Christmas light-ified house has appeared. I can't believe some people don't at least wait until after Thanksgiving. I mean come on, that gives you over a month of sparkly house decor, isn't that enough?


D. and I like to play a game called 'daughter or girlfriend'. It involves guessing whether inappropriately young women with middle aged guys are, you guessed it, the daughter or the trophy girlfriend/wife. Yesterday at the mall I saw a 40-something asian guy with a white girl who appeared to be in her teens. At first I thought she was a REALLY inappropriate girlfriend but then i thought hey, perhaps she's adopted. Why not?

October 06, 2006

on family, far away

I recently celebrated a birthday and my grandmother sent me a sweater as a birthday present. It's a nice sweater, black and soft and fuzzy and with subtle beading and it's totally not me. My grandmother has a long history of sending items of clothing like this for birthdays and christmas - they're nice, but they're almost always things I would never wear. I don't know what to do with them, these clothes that are wrong for me. The obvious solution is to send them along to goodwill, which is the typical destination for my outdated and ill-fitting clothes (ok, I often hang on to the ones that are one size too small in hopes they'll fit again) but it seems like such an unkind thing to do. I think of my grandmother thinking about me, going to the trouble of picking out something nice for me. She lives alone out in the country, and doesn't drive, so I know getting to the shops is something of an effort for her. Disposing of her gifts seems like throwing out her love and good intentions. I know I'm too sentimental, but it still makes me sad.

The whole situation is compounded by the fact that my entire extended family lives in another country. I know my grandparents from visits, but the visits were more frequent when I was younger and less frequent as I got older and I feel like I've never really known them as an adult. One of my grandfathers died when I was 15 - I never knew him as anything other than old and cranky - my sister and I were always a little afraid of him. Another grandfather was killed in WWII. My other grandfather died the summer after I graduated from college - I was sad for much of the summer, sad that I would never really know him, sad that I hadn't seen him for three years.

Sometimes watching the people we love grow old is too hard.