Friday, December 27, 2013

And The Winner Is . . .

It's that time of year again.  Time to reflect on what we read during the past year.  Time to create lists of what we liked, what we didn't like, what we'll re-read, and what we wish we hadn't.

2013 was a slow book year for me.  Between switching from part-time to full-time work in June, learning to Zentangle and increasing my sewing, my reading time dropped dramatically.  This is just not acceptable, so there will be a rearranging of priorities in the new year.  But even in a slow year, there are a few books that I loved (including links to my reviews, if I wrote one.)

Best Books Published in 2013:

A Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

Best Books I Overlooked When They Were New:  

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - 2003
The Ha-Ha by Dave King 2006
Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg 2006
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn 2007 

Book Bummers, or There's some reading hours I'll never get back!:  Three big names that disappointed me. I still can't believe I put a Stephen King book in the DNF pile! 

The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimin
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Death of Norman Rockwell . . .

 . . . Not the death of the actual artist - he died in 1978 of emphysema - but the death of my Rockwell-esque Christmas dreams.  Mr. Rockwell's paintings depict heartwarming moments of every day life - life in a simpler world, where every one gets along and every story has a happy ending.  His Christmas paintings are especially touching.  Happy families gather for the holidays . . .

...smiling faces, warm embraces . . .

. . . humerous moments and treasured traditions.

Our children are coming "home" for Christmas this year.  Well, actually, a few days after Christmas.  They arrive on Sunday the 29th - the New Mexico clan's train reaches Topeka at 5:30 a.m.  The college kids (and significant others) will be waiting to load them up and all make the 90 minute trip to Green Acres.  Dave's father, sister, niece and aunt arrive a little later to spend the day.  The kids will be here until New Year's Eve or New Year's Day - depending on job schedule. 

Every time we plan a get-together like this, my Norman Rockwell fantasies kick into high gear and I have visions of the ten of us gathered around the table, eating delicious, calorie-free, home-cooked meals.  Or gathered by the tree, reading the Christmas story, singing carols, and exchanging artfully wrapped gifts.  All children are well-behaved, all conversation is pleasant, and all dogs snooze quietly in the corner.  On New Year's Day we brunch while watching the Rose Parade and marveling at the beauty and intricacy of the floats.

In reality, we don't even have a table that would seat ten.  Nor do we have a dishwasher, so we will be eating from paper plates on the kitchen table, TV trays or coffee table - wherever we can find an open spot.  Our grandsons are amazing young men but, on occasion, they are a bit loud, rowdy and - gasp! - disobedient.  The dogs - our two, plus one visitor - wrestle in the living room, growl over food bowls, and knock things over with wildly wagging tails.  Some of us can't carry a tune in a bucket.  My gifts are hastily wrapped with those cheap stick-on bows. And no one gives a hoot about the Rose Parade except me.

And that is when Norman Rockwell dies - again.

But we will laugh and chat and do jigsaw puzzles. We'll watch A Christmas Story, read books, play board games and have target practice in the pasture. Occasionally we'll disagree and speak harshly and hide in the bathroom for a minute of alone time. We'll eat bbq wings, drink sparkling grape juice, and blow noisemakers with the grandsons as we welcome in 2014.  We'll be a family - not the idealistic families in the paintings, but a real family with highs and lows, disagreements and celebrations.  With apologies to Norman Rockwell.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tangled Thursday: Words

The theme for Tangled Thursday this week is "Words".   I love working words and calligraphy into my tangles.  Once I got started, I couldn't stop.  First I made the word part of the tangle:

Then I tried tangling around the word:

I even grew a garden of zen-flowers around words:

But my favorite Zentangle words are these "Ho Ho Ho's" hiding in Santa's beard:

Tangled Thursday is  hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Stop by to see what others are drawing this week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tangled Thursday: Monotangle

This week's theme comes from Marie at Daisy's Book Journal.  

Create a monotangle.  Your whole creation should contain one tangle pattern.  That doesn't mean you have to start with one shape and fill it in the same way.  You could start with numerous shapes or a string and do many variations on the same tangle in each of the spaces.
Being in the Christmas mood, I started with a star ornament design.  I penciled in a grid over the entire star, then added a string to create sections.  Each section is filled with a variation on the W2 pattern.  W2 (which stands for warp and weft) looks like weaving and is probably my favorite tangle to draw. 

The center space is the original W2 pattern and the five points are filled with variations. As with most of my tangles, this was drawn on standard off-white sketchbook paper.  The pinkish edges are merely bad lighting and photography.  

I couldn't resist adding some Christmas tree details.

It's my turn to select the challenge for next week - December 12th.  The challenge is to incorporate a word into your tangle.  This can be done by drawing/printing block letters and filling them in, by drawing/printing block letters and filling in area around the letters (leaving letters blank), by working handwriting or caligraphy into a pattern, or in any other way you dream up.

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Virtual Advent Tour

Greetings, Virtual Advent Tour!  Thanks for stopping by.  This is my fourth year participating in this fun event.  Unfortunately, due to the death of my mother-in-law and traveling for her funeral, I don't have time or computer access to write a complete post.   Rather than miss out completely, I am sharing a song that has been special to her.  She had a beautiful voice (read about it here) and sang in many community and church concerts.  Oh, Holy Night was one of her favorites to perform so, in her honor, please enjoy this flash mob version.