Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes . . .

Due Diligence (according to Merriam Webster):

1.  The care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property.

2.  Research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction.

Due Diligence (according to me):

1.  The care that a reasonable person exercises when selecting library books.

2.  The research and analysis done in preparation of making library choices which would avoid the following scenario.

The sum total of my due diligence on House of Holes was that I had seen the title on the New York Times bestseller list, so when I spied it on the library shelf I grabbed it, along with a couple other familiar titles, and scurried back to work.  So I was a bit . . . uh . . . surprised, I guess would be the word, when I began reading.  It's about this . . . Fantasy Island-type place but it's . . . uh . . . more, uh . . . Well, it's kind of . . . And then there's this . . . this . . . But there's more . . . hmmm . . . well . . .and . . . and . . . yeah.

The subtitle - A Book of Raunch - should have tipped me off, but there's raunch and then there's raunch.   Dave and I both read parts of it - me, because I kept thinking that for this book to be a NYT bestseller, there had to be a plot or a point beyond the. . .the . . .you know; Dave - because I kept saying "I can't believe this is a NYT bestseller.  I just can't believe it."  Neither of us made it all the way through, and I did skim the last chapter looking for the punchline, but no luck.  If you want to know more you'll just have to read it yourself.  But, please, do your due diligence first.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fruit of the Yard

Behind our house - beyond our narrow back yard and mostly hidden by trees - is a fenced area that contains two dilapidated chicken houses.  There hasn't been a chicken nearby for at least twenty years, but there they stand - or lean, as the case may be.  

I briefly considered cleaning them up and raising chickens, which seemed like what we ought to do on Green Acres.  I was picturing myself, dressed in a pink peignoir a la Ava Gabor, scattering feed to the chickens and calling them each by name.  But then my dad mentioned how much he hated having to clean out the chicken house when he was a kid, and my imaginary wardrobe changed to overalls, gloves and rubber boots, with a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow of chicken . . . refuse.  So forget the chickens - because actually this post isn't even about chickens.  It's about what we found behind the chicken houses . . .

Fruit trees!  They haven't been cared for since before the chickens flew off to Capistrano, or wherever chickens go, so we harvested a grand total of seven pears and two apples.  The pears were delicious - so if anyone knows what needs to be done to encourage fruit trees to produce, we would be grateful for all advice.  

We also discovered that those strange green pods growing on the tree down by the garden are black walnuts.  That tree is producing like crazy, so we are being overrun by walnuts.  Harvesting them is a multi-step process involving removing the outer green layer, washing away the gunk (for lack of a more technical term), drying, cracking and, finally, picking out the meats.  The "gunk" discolors skin, clothing, sinks, counter tops, sidewalks and anything else it contacts, so we did our shelling and rinsing in a wheelbarrow in the driveway.  However, because the residue is a natural herbicide, we had to be careful where we dumped the rinse water for fear of killing grass, flowers and garden.  Also, the outer layer and "gunk" can be toxic to dogs, so that adds another layer of caution to the process.  And when we're done - our first batch is still in the drying stage - we will have tons of black walnuts, which I'm not even sure I like.  We have tried giving them away, but it seems black walnut trees are pervasive in SE Nebraska, so no takers.  

However, I found this recipe for a salad served at a White House State Dinner that includes our new-found bounty of nuts, plus pears and goat cheese.  Maybe I should raise goats and make my own cheese . . .
  • 1/4 cup Black Walnuts, toasted
  • 4 cups (1 large bulb) Fennel, fresh, chilled, cored, tops removed sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 Red D'Anjou pear, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1/2 Green D'Anjou pear, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1-2 ounces Goat cheese, farmstead, small crumbles

  • Place fennel, Black Walnuts, and vinaigrette in mixing bowl. Gently toss with your fingers to evenly combine and coat ingredients.Arrange equal amounts of red and green pears to form an overlapping ring in center of each chilled salad plate. (The ring should be hollow in the middle, allowing room for fennel to be placed inside.) Divide the fennel/Black Walnut mixture into four equal portions; then artistically mound each portion in center of the ring of pears. The presentation should look natural and somewhat loosely stacked, allowing the ring of pears to be seen.  
    Garnish by sprinkling goat cheese crumbles over the salads.

  • 3/4 Cup Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1/2 Cup White balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Honey
  • To taste, Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Place ingredients in plastic container; cover with lid and shake vigorously to evenly blend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Libraries

Everyone has bookmarks in their life - mile posts that help keep their memories in order.  Marriage, births, jobs, deaths, moves - all are reference points for remembering when other life events happened.  I recently posted a review of The Wilder Life, in which I mentioned the library that I loved as a child, and it occurred to me that, along with the usual milestones, there are a few libraries that have become bookmarks in my reading life.

My earliest library memories are of the Jewell City Library, in Jewell, Kansas, where I grew up.  The library was housed in the basement of the bank - accessed by the outside stairwell in the picture.  I remember it as two dark, dank rooms that, frankly, gave me a bit of the creeps; governed by a frightening, ancient woman who probably devoured children.  I later discovered that Mrs. Kelly was a perfectly pleasant, middle-aged woman, so I'm not sure where those childish visions came from.  But the part of my memory about the rooms being dark and dank was true and the library later moved into a narrow strip of a room carved out of the new fire house.  That is the library of my teens, where I discovered Stephen King and other things that go bump in the night.  Maybe my reading choices had something to do with my vivid imagination about the librarian?

But, the dream library of my childhood was the Port Library in Beloit, Kansas, about fifteen miles from home.  The Port Library is housed in an old two-story house.  The children's section is on the second floor.  The stairway was a magic carpet that opened into my fantasy land.  

Former bedrooms have been knocked down to create one large space with multiple closets.  Each closet is lined with bookshelves on a perfect level for children, and usually a beanbag chair - creating enchanted hide-aways where a little girl could get lost in a fairy-tale world for hours.  In spite of the fact that my mom's not a reader herself, she was amazingly supportive of my love of books (except when they distracted me from my Saturday cleaning chores).  Although we never made special trips to Beloit just for library visits, when we were in town for piano lessons or other outings, she was usually willing to drop me at the library to roam the magical kingdom on the second floor while she ran errands.  

Part II tomorrow: Libraries that have changed my adult reading choices.  Where are your favorite libraries, and what makes them special?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who J.R. Shot . . .

All My Children said farewell last Friday with a touching, humorous and dramatic final episode.  *Spoiler Alert* - If you are an AMC fan and haven't watched yet, you want to stop reading now. If you're not an AMC fan, or fan of any soap, you may still want to stop reading now before you become convinced that I've lost my mind.  Fellow soap addicts will share my pain.  

With a wink and a nod to the famous "Who shot J.R.?" Dallas cliffhanger that kept the country talking through the summer of 1980, All My Children faded to black with the sound of a gunshot aimed at a room full of familiar characters, and left fans to wonder Who J.R. Shot?

The final episode also paid homage to some famous last words:  Erica Caine, who has been fighting to get out of sleepy Pine Valley and into the bright lights of Hollywood since Episode One in 1970, finally got her chance, but had to choose between her career and her long-suffering once-husband and current-fiance, Jackson.  When, in the final moments of the show, she choose the movies, Jackson stormed from the house as Erica called, "Come back.  I need you."  Pausing in the doorway, Jackson turned back, focused Erica in his best Rhett Butler stare, and growled, "Frankly, Erica, I don't give a damn what you need."  Not to be upstaged, Erica stood in shock as she watched Jackson leave, then tossed out her own one-liner:  "This isn't the ending I wanted." 

The final scenes brought back memories. Along with some newer characters, familiar faces Adam Chandler, Stuart Chandler, Brook English, Joe and Ruth Martin, Tad Martin, Erica Caine, Jessie and Angie Hubbard, and Opal Cortlandt  - all of whom gave been in Pine Valley for anywhere from 25 to 40 years - gathered at Chandler Mansion.  Meanwhile,  J.R. roamed the secret passages behind the walls (what soap opera mansion is complete without secret passages?) with a gun, a bottle of whiskey and a huge chip on his shoulder.  Oblivious to the lurking danger, Tad gave a speech that was my favorite part of the show:

At a time like this, there's always so much you want to say, so many people that mean so much, and you can't find the words.  But I've been thinking about it and I've come up with three - neighbors, family, friends.  i found all of them here.  It's been my home - the best years of my life . . . Then again there are all these amazing people who should be here and aren't, that deserve to be here, that have meant so much . . . And my dear, dear friends - what would I do without you?  I met you back in high school and now we all have kids that said goodbye to high school a long time ago . . . Tragedy, triumph, we come together.  I wish the rest of my kids were here to see this, cause this is something to remember, folks.  We'll be talking about this for a long time.  But then again, I always like to think that, no matter what, the family, and all my children, are always with me.

The J.R. cliffhanger, as well as the mystery of Dr. David Hayward's final back-from-the-dead patient, will, I assume, be resolved in the on-line continuation of the show, which debuts sometime after the first of the year.  

As corny as it sounds, these characters have been my neighbors and friends for over thirty years and I'll miss them.  I started watching during summers and school vacations - I truly "met them back in high school", then moved to VCR recordings watched during evenings and weekends.  Later I watched as babies napped.  As the kids grew, my watching became sporadic, but there was something comforting in tuning in occasionally and finding familiar faces.  Tad's reminder of characters from the past brought memories of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, Linc and Kitty, Palmer Cortlandt, Myrtle Fargate . . .
But, my sadness at the ending of All My Children isn't so much about the actual loss of this story as it is about change.  
I can continue to visit Pine Valley through the web-version when it starts, but it's a change - an ending.  I've never been a huge fan of change, and the world seems to be throwing it out there faster and faster. Soap Operas that were were leaders in presenting social issues on tv and were considered scandalous for it, are no longer racy enough to be considered interesting or modern.  They are being replaced by the "reality" of half-dressed women pulling hair, drunken brawls and ubiquitous profanities.  In real life, kids grow up, people pass away, new priorities squeeze out old ones.  So many things that I've taken for granted are now gone.  As I said when the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live was announced back in July, I'm sad because it's one more piece of my youth vanished, one more constant that no longer is.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"EMAW Slogan Draws Controversy"


Manhattan, KS - A 1950's era slogan meant to inspire Kansas State fans, is instead causing controvery.

University officals asked the school's band to remove a formation highlighting the slogan "Every Man A Wildcat" from it's pregame routine on Saturday.

Those who dislike the slogan say the word "man" is not inclusive.  They prefer "Every Person A Wildcat".  Proponents say the phrase is a long-time tradition and "man" refers to all of mankind.
(excerpt from a Kansas City Star article)

And with that one ill-advised move, unnamed "university officials" set off a firestorm that reached all the way to the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News.  Seems to me that the "officials" were a little too eager to dive for legal cover, as we are prone to do in this litigation-happy society, and caved to the demands of the few without considering the many.  In an attempt to pacify a small group who supposedly felt left-out of the club, KSU "officials" fell over themselves rushing to pull the EMAW formation from the band's half-time show, but did they pause for even a moment to ponder the heritage of that phrase or it's meaning to thousands of KSU students and alumni?

I guess I just don't understand the need to make all language gender-neutral in order to feel included.  When the Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal", I know I'm covered.  When Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though he shall die, he shall live", I am certain that He was speaking to me, also.  I don't feel any need to create strife to prove that I have a spot on the team.

This is not to say that it is never necessary to stand up for your rights.  I will stand up for equal pay for equal work.  I will stand up for protection from sexual harassment.  I will absolutely stand up for the rights of every women who is truly oppressed in Africa, the Middle East or right here at home.  And I will stand up for my daughter's right to wear an EMAW shirt expressing her pride in her university.  Last semester she was told - by a FEMALE professor - to leave class because the teacher was offended by her shirt.  In her passion to stand up for her OWN rights, she trampled on Amanda's.  

And these "university officials" who remain unnamed and unwilling to take a stand for their decision, trampled over KSU students and alumni, and they trampled a Kansas State University tradition.

Six Word Saturday: Our Weekend Plans






Six Word Saturday is sponsored by Cate at ShowMyFace.  Want to play along?  Just describe your life (or something in it) in a phrase using exactly six words.  For more information click here.  You can add an explanation, a video, a song or nothing at all.  Visit Cate's blog to link your entry or to read all entries.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My favorite time of year has arrived.  It's Autumn!  Colorful leaves, pumpkins, crisp evenings with a warm blaze in the outdoor fireplace, football, sweatshirts, a pot of soup and . . . I start listening to Christmas music.  (shhh! - don't tell the Scrooges) 

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.
Like Wendy, I loved the Little House series as a young girl.  I checked them out repeatedly from the Port Library in Beloit, Kansas - also known as heaven to my younger self.  When Amanda reached the chapter-book stage, I bought her the entire set.  They remain on my bookshelf, untouched.  But after reading The Wilder Life, I am tempted to pull them down and return to "Laura World" - Ms. McClure's pet name for the fictionalized picture of the 1860's.
Wendy's passion for all things Wilder far exceeds my simple love of the stories.  She immersed herself in Laura Ingalls Wilder's other writings - published and unpublished - as well as the works of Laura's daughter, Rose, and even college theses and scholarly articles on the topic.  This further reading "didn't destroy the world of the books for me - they simply lost it altogether."  She couldn't reconcile the carefree Laura of the Little House books with the grown, and all-too-human, middle-aged woman who was "growing fat", according to daughter Rose.  Rose also reported that, during a trip to San Francisco, Laura had fallen off a streetcar and hit her head.  
In my mind, the world of the Little House books just went up in smoke at the end, their heroine disappearing into clumsy ordinariness and ignominy.  It had always trailed off with a vague unspoken disappointment.  It's the kind of story we learn over and over again about everything in the world: your life starts out as a wild open frontier that you explore until the forces of time or history or civilization or nature intervene, and then suddenly it's all gone, it all weathers and falls down and gets built over; everyone dies or moves away or becomes a grainy photograph, and yes, at some point you just get fat and fall off a streetcar.  Progress - it dumps you on your aging and gigantic ass! (p.24)
Wendy embarked on a quest of sorts throughout the Midwest, visiting all the tourist spots marking Laura's life and travels, searching for something she really couldn't even explain to herself - a connection between Laura World and reality, a merging of the "pretend" Laura with the "true" Laura?  Whatever she was looking for, she provides an interesting and comical recap of the process.
For me, the middle section of the book, where Wendy wades through the mire of written material, research and land records relating to Laura Ingalls Wilder, was slow going.  But the rest of the book was enjoyable and Ms. McClure's witty, urban voice was an entertaining tour guide.  I recommend this book to anyone who read the Little House books and wanted, even for a minute, to be part of that idyllic world.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dewey's Read-A-Thon

Line up your books, stockpile snacks, take the kids to the sitter and send the hubby fishing.  Saturday, October 22 is the next Read-A-Thon.   This will be my fourth time participating.  (Dave will probably have to work since the corn is as high as an elephant's eye.*)

If you've never tried the Read-A-Thon before, go here to sign up.  There's no rules, no pressure, and no consequences if you don't last all 24 hours.  As a matter of fact, after the first one I, like, totally gave up on the whole 24-hour concept.  I have rejected the reality of 24 hours taking an actual 24 hours, and substituted my own reality of being able to be soooo fully conscious and present in my book reading that I can achieve total reading saturation in only 12 hours - and then go to sleep.  So if you, too, are waaaaay beyond the staying up all night stage, just participate for whatever portion of your day works for you.  The read-a-thon kicks off at 6:00 am in my time zone (Central US).  (Yes, Virginia, there is a 6:00 in the morning.  Who knew?)   I don't even pretend - the odds of me getting up at that hour for anything less than a royal wedding would make the Vegas bookies laugh.  My read-a-thon runs from 8:00-ish to whenever-I'm-done, with frequent snack breaks . . . and potty breaks . . . and medication breaks.

Seriously, there are fun games and challenges, cheerleaders to keep you going, and a great community of readers to join.  You don't have to have a blog to participate - all you need is a love of reading . . . and snacks.  

*Name that tune.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Take a Second Look . . .

It's time for a new look for the blog.  The grape/purple theme represented me when I started this blog - I've always been a fan of "fruit" motifs and, of course, purple, and my home and blog decorating reflected that - but I'm moving into a new era in my life and wanted the blog to reflect that change.

This retro kitchen design better represents the atmosphere I want to convey.  Come into my home, make yourself comfortable.  We'll share a cup of coffee and conversation at the kitchen table.  Although it doesn't show well in the background, there are books displayed at the end of the counter, so while you're here we'll discuss our latest reads.  Hope you enjoy your stay and come back often.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Very Own Little House on the Prairie

Stranded on the prairie . . .denied the most basic modern comforts . . . forced to rely only on our wits and good ol' midwest know-how . . .

Ok, we didn't have internet service for a couple of days, but it felt much more tragic than it sounds.  It's amazing how much you rely on the cyberworld for the necessities like weather reports, sports schedules and ... and... Lottso!  Not to mention blogging.  But we are now the proud owners of a brand, spanking new modem and have returned to normal - but normal is relative.  Although, few of our relatives are normal, but that's another post. 

My point is, Oblio*, that I apologize that I haven't visited all your blogs or written anything pithy or prepossessing.  Obviously, I did have plenty of available time for reading the Thesaurus (the paper version . . . by the light of an oil lantern . . . while fighting off bears with only the paddle of my butter churn . . . or not.)  

Seriously, I spent a large portion of the internet-less weekend reading The Wilder Life: Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, which may have contributed to what I now call our Wilderness Weekend.  I'll give you the full scoop soon, but if you were a Laura lover, a Mary minion, a Pa protege or just an alliterative abberation like me, you should add it to your reading list.   

*Bonus points if you know the origin of the character "Oblio".  Hint:  He had a point.  In the past very few of you have taken advantage of my bonus point questions and are missing out on a fabulous array of prizes.  And remember, once you buy a prize, it's yours to keep.**

**More bonus points if you can remember that game-show phrase.

P.S.  I forgot to congratulate Susan a while back when she correctly identified Alice's Restaurant as the answer to one of my questions - although now I've forgotten the question.  So, congratulations Susan!  We will be mailing you a lovely catalog of fine gifts from which you may select your prize.  (Just pay separate shipping and handling.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Country Roads, Take Me Home . . .

And that's just what happened for Miss Three, our foster-puppy.  A young couple passing by our house on Saturday spotted all three dogs out near the road (where they weren't supposed to be) and turned in the drive.  "Did this dog just show up at your house?"  When we said that yes, she had shown up about a month ago, he said "This is my dad's dog.  We've been looking all over and had pretty much given up."

Turns out Miss Three started only a mile or so south and west of our house.  The owners had been driving the country roads in hopes of finding her, but our house is blocked from the road by a row of trees.  Even though she was outside the entire time she was here (except for a couple rainy nights), unless she was standing near the road when they passed, they couldn't have seen her.   On the flip side, being new to the area, we didn't even know this homestead existed so we missed it in our canvassing of neighbors, and they hadn't seen our posters or newspaper ad.  A comedy of errors.

But all's well that ends well - Three, known to her owners as Oakley, has returned to her proper home. Gabby will miss her wrestling partner, but we can once again string a hose across the yard or leave lawn chairs on the porch without fearing the puppy chewing stageOnce we fill in the multitude of holes in the yard, we'll hardly know she was here.  

Happy Trails, Three!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mini Reviews

I've gotten a little behind on writing book reviews, so here's the nutshell version of what I've been reading lately:
Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson - Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? (publisher synopsis)

Good lesson on not being judgemental and giving second chances.  Cute, slightly predictable, but fun Christmas story.  And Humbug to all you Scrooges who don't like Christmas books before December.  This was a bargain from Doubleday Book Club and when it arrived, I just couldn't wait.

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul - Every year, the matchmaking booksellers at Warner, Werner and Wizbotterdad's host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.  This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday? (publisher's synopsis)

Another bargain buy, this time from the Waldenbook's closeout sale - which, by the way, I found very sad, even while piling up stacks of good finds.  Again, a predictable but enjoyable Christmas romance.  Ms. Paul's characters have strong Christian faith and morals, which are often downplayed even in Christian fiction.  I appreciated her unapologetic commitment to her beliefs and her ability to mix it with a little fantasy - a street of shops visible only to those chosen to attend the ball, magically appearing tickets, and enchanted ball gowns.  

Before I Go To Sleep - by S. J. Watson - Memories - real, false, and a bit of both - are at the heart of British author Watson's haunting, twisted debut. Christine Lucas awakens each morning in London with no idea who she is or why she's in bed with a strange man, until he tells her that his name is Ben and they've been married for 22 years. Slowly, Christine learns that she has amnesia and is unable to remember her past or retain new memories: every night when she falls asleep, the slate is wiped clean. Dr. Nash, her therapist, has encouraged her to write in a journal that she keeps secret from Ben. Christine realizes how truly tangled—and dangerous—her life is after she sees the words "don't trust Ben" written in her journal, whose contents reveal that the only person she can trust is herself. (Publisher's Weekly)

Dave and I read this one together and agreed that it was perfect for a joint read.  There were so many twists and turns that it took both of us to keep them straight.  Christine's memories are completely erased each night when she goes to sleep, then replaced by what she is told by her husband, Ben, and what she reads in the secret journal she has begun keeping.  But we were never sure which was true - or if we could handle the truth.  We slowly pieced the story together along with Christine and realized the unexpected answer at about the same time she did.  Original concept, well executed.

Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - Wanted: 
One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless—bordering on masochistic. Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived preschooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family. Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employers Herm├Ęs bag. Those who take it personally need not apply.  

Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn’t work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day.

When the X's marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Over nine tense months, Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance of decorum and power as they test the limits of modern-day servitude. (Publisher's synopsis)
I picked up the audio version of this book at the library based solely on the cover and the fact that it is read by Julia Roberts.  I was vaguely aware that this book existed and had been made into a movie, but my info stopped there.  Turns out I should have paid more attention.  I loved listening to this audio and was rather disappointed when it ended - a large part of which was due to Ms. Roberts' reading/acting skills.  So enthralled was I that, while digging through a bin of bargain books at the grocery store (of all places) and uncovering a $5 copy of the sequel, Nanny Returns, it took great restraint to leave it there and promise myself I would get it at the library.  But when I discovered the library did not have it, I RAN. . . ok, I ran to my car and drove . . . well, actually I walked hastily to my car and drove to the grocery store to get it.

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - After living abroad for twelve years, Nan and her husband have returned to New York to get her new business off the ground and fix up their fixer-upper. To compound the mounting construction woes and marital chaos of Ryan announcing his sudden desire to start a family, sixteen-year-old Grayer X makes a drunken, late-night visit wanting to know why Nan abandoned him all those years ago. Soon she is drawn back into Mrs. X's ever-bizarre Upper East Side conclave of power and privilege in this tale of what happens when a community that chooses money over love finds itself with neither. (Publisher's synopsis)

Sequels are rarely as good as the originals and that holds true here.  As a college student struggling to make ends meet, I understood, at least partially, why Nanny put up with the X's demeaning treatment.  However, ten years later and no longer on the payroll, it was time for Nanny to get a backbone.  Unfortunately, she never really did.  I found that the continual crises in her personal life, business and relationship with the X's, partnered with her noodle-like spine just became frustrating.  Fans of the first book will find this worth their time for some "closure" on Nanny and Grayer's story.  

Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - Working in a world where a college degree qualifies her to make photocopies and color-coordinate file folders, twenty-four-year-old Girl is struggling to keep up with the essential trinity of food, shelter, and student loans. So when she finally lands the job of her dreams she ignores her misgivings and concentrates on getting the job done...whatever that may be.
Sharply observed and devastatingly funny, Citizen Girl captures with biting accuracy what it means to be young and female in the new economy. A personal glimpse into an impersonal world, Citizen Girl is edgy and heartfelt, an entertaining read that is startlingly relevant. (publisher's synopsis)
That whole second paragraph?  Not so much.  I'll admit, it's been a while since I was young, and I was about as spineless as they came in those days (I got over it), but I don't believe I would have put up with the treatment this girl received. Perhaps Ms. McLaughlin and Ms. Kraus are stuck on this down-trodden, single-girl heroine, or perhaps it wasn't a good idea to listen to the audio of this book while reading Nanny Returns by the same authors.  The two protagonists began to meld in my mind with absolutely no help from Mr. Spock.  Even then, I enjoyed listening, again anticipating some spinal strengthening, and this time I was rewarded.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Have We Forgotten?

As we've made the rounds through the television channels and blogs today, we've seen a recurring theme that bothers us.  Readers and viewers are encouraged to honor the day without reliving the event.  We should hold feel-good ceremonies talking about moving forward and "world peace" - like a nation of Miss America contestants - but not watch the carnage or mention who caused it.  We should not talk about where we were or how we felt on that day ten years ago.  We disagree.  If we do that, we dishonor those who died that day and the brave soldiers who have - before and since - died fighting for our freedom and security.  We dishonor those who continue to fight that war.  
We should relive that day - every minute of the horror that those trapped in the World Trade Center experienced.  Every minute of terror for those on the four planes.  Every minute of grief suffered by their families.  Every act of heroism by every firemen or police officer who sacrificed his life.  We should relive the swell of patriotism and the unity as citizens that we felt in the days following.  We should relive the resurgence of people turning to God, restoring our country's foundation on Him.

Have we forgotten, how it felt that day
to see our homeland under fire 
and her people blown away?

Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside 
going through a living hell.

And you say we shouldn't worry about Bin Laden.
Have we forgotten?

Today we give thanks for the soldiers, the firemen, the police officers, the rescue workers and the volunteers who, then and now, run into ground zero when everyone else is running out.  We give thanks for our Nation and pray for her return to "One Nation Under God" and "In God We Trust".

God Bless the U.S.A.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Friendly pup needs good home - please!

If you have room in your heart and home for this pretty little girl, please read this post.

Six Word Saturday is sponsored by Cate at ShowMyFace.  Want to play along?  Just describe your life (or something in it) in a phrase using exactly six words.  For more information click here.  You can add an explanation, a video, a song or nothing at all.  Visit Cate's blog to link your entry or to read all entries.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Foster Parenting

We have a new arrival at Green Acres.  A beautiful, 9-month-old Chocolate Lab/Mix pup that was either abandoned or who went wandering and got lost.  She showed up on our doorstep - skinny and tired and scared - a couple weeks ago.  We contacted the Richardson County Humane Society, but their facility is full, as is the local pound.  The Director is even harboring five of the "overflow" dogs at her home, causing her husband to take frequent fishing trips.   So, until they are able to find a permanent home, we have agreed to be puppy foster parents.

The Humane Society has placed posters with her picture and description around town, as well as in the newspaper, but so far no takers.  We were hopeful that she had a previous owner who was looking for her, but as time passes, that seems less and less likely.  In the mean time, we are trying not to become attached, and to that end have taken to calling her "Three" (as in dog #3).  She and Gabby (our recent, rescued addition) have become fast friends - running, tumbling, chewing, and wrestling.  Molly, our Springer Spaniel, adheres steadfastly to her "ignore them and maybe they'll go away" policy.   I know what you're thinking, but "No . . . No No . . .No No No".* Being out-numbered by our dogs doesn't seem like a convenient or affordable plan.  We're supposed to be "free as a bird" empty-nesters, remember?

So, we are pleading for a good home for Miss Three.  Obviously, we don't know her lineage, but she has the beautiful chocolate coloring, face, and eyes of a Lab, in a smaller package.
  Her size would make her an ideal house-dog. (She is currently 45 lbs. and about knee-high, but still very thin from her travels and not quite full-grown.)  She is an outdoor dog at our place, so we haven't had an opportunity to evaluate her house-training, but the vet said she did well in the kennel there.  Even though she has been provided a dog house with a soft pillow, she prefers to sleep curled into a lawn chair on the front porch.  I have checked at various times during the night and she's always right there.  While she will bark occasionally if a varmint or vehicle ventures too near the house, she is a very quiet girl who avoids random barking and so would do well in town.

During the day, she has the run of the place while we're at work and the other two are contained in the house.  She does wander a short distance, like down to take a dip in the pond in the cow pasture, but she always responds to the first whistle or sound of an approaching vehicle and is waiting enthusiastically when we drive in.  She's not about to wander away from a good thing again!

She is incredibly gentle and loving with us and with other dogs - never a nip or growl - so we think she would do well with children.  She still has all her puppy playfulness and, yes, that means she has broken a flower pot and shortened our garden hose by about five feet, but she's learning.  

Three is current on her shots, thanks to the Humane Society, and is on heart worm and flea/tick prevention.  If you have a loving home for Miss Three, please contact us in the comments here or by email at  We would be glad to send you more pictures, information or even videos.  We live in the southeast corner of Nebraska and are willing to deliver her or meet you within a reasonable distance to ensure she gets a good home.

*West Wing Quote

Monday, September 5, 2011

Six Word Saturday: Better Late Than Never

I realize it's no longer Saturday, but we just got home.  So here are our six words and some pictures to describe our long weekend:


Marching Band




Six Word Saturday is sponsored by Cate at ShowMyFace.  Want to play along?  Just describe your life (or something in it) in a phrase using exactly six words.  For more information click here.  You can add an explanation, a video, a song or nothing at all.  Visit Cate's blog to link your entry or to read all entries.