Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Books of 2006

I'm always keeping track of what books I read. I sometimes note whether or not it is worth re-reading or to never ever read again. But mostly just lists of books and authors suffice. I've been doing this ever since I became a mother. I vaguely recall being worried that I was going to let my brain turn to mush, so I challenged myself to read 50 books a year. And that challenge has stood (in my un-mushy brain) ever since.
I only wrote down some of the non-fiction I read for some reason, not sure why, but next year I will be more consistent.
This year instead of a numbered list like I usually do, I wrote the books down in my journal at the end of each month with little mini reviews. I like this format, so will keep doing that next year. But, I didn't know til I wrote this blog post whether I'd made my goal or not. Pshew, just made it! I hope you've read some good books this year, recommend them to me if you wouldn't mind, I always need new suggestions.

So here is what I read in 2006. I'm working on "Fool's Fate" by Robin Hobb, and plan to finish it by 12midnight 12/31/06, so it is on this list.

Books Read in 2006

52. Fool's Fate - Robin Hobb
51. Golden Fool - Robin Hobb
50. Fool's Errand - Robin Hobb
49. Jazz Up Your Junk - Linda Barker
48. Looking for Jake - China Mievelle'
47. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
46. The Other Wind- Ursula Le Guin
45. 1984 - George Orwell
44. Frankenstein - Prodigal Son - Dean Koontz
43. Frankenstein - City of Night -Dean Koontz
42. The Footprints of God - Greg Iles
41. The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
40. The Baby Merchant - Kit Reed
39. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
38. Wild Seed- Octavia Butler
37. Wild Mother - Elizabeth Cunningham
36. Absurdistan - Gary Shteyngart
35. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
34. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
33. Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
32. Between, Georgia - Joshilyn Jackson
31. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell - Susanna Clarke
30. Deep Fathom - James Rollins
29. Solstice Wood - Patricia McKillip
28. Rainbows End- Vernor Vinge
27. The Taking - Dean Koontz
26. Life Expectancy - Dean Koontz
25. Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
24. Walking the Labyrinth - Lisa Goldstein
23. Passion of Mary Magdalene - Elizabeth Cunningham
22. The Truth With Jokes - Al Franken
21. The Traveller - John 12 Hawks
20. Six Moon Dance - Sherri Tepper
19. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
18. Cell - Stephen King
17. Circle of Quilters - Jennifer Chiaverini
16. The King in the Window - Adam Gopnik
15. The Egyptologist - Arthur Phillips
14. Blue Shoe- Ann Lamott
13.The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
12. Your 10-14 Year Old
11. A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
10. Plants of the Gods -
9. Butterfly Gardening
8. The Creative Journal - Lucia Capacchione
7. World Textiles A Concise History
6. Why do they Act that Way? -
5. A Time to Run - Barbara Boxer
4. Miracle Ball Method
3. Gods in Alabama- Joshilyn Jackson
2. A Canticle for Leibowitz-Walter Miller
1. Mulenengro - Charles de Lindt

Friday, December 22, 2006

More House than you can stand!

Whee, we have a balcony now! Unplanned, spontaneous, and a creative contractor gives us this unique feature. We're excited and planning the first annual Romeo & Juliet performance for early spring.

Interesting designs in the car - pets (haha). It is actually the old footprint for the former staircase and closet.

Isn't he cute? This is Spike! When he isn't attacking our feet or other cats he is being very cute and cuddly for a teenager.

Here is Spike in the new bathroom to be, finding a patch of sun to hog.

We're having some pretty dramatic skies lately. Lots of rain, but then the sun comes up once again. Glad it is so dependable. We really notice that at this time of year!!

3 ducts have we! Isn't this a funny sight? The ducts have now taken up our last remaining closet. It is incredibly hard to live without closets, who knew?!

This is the old closet, witht the shelves removed. It is pretty boring not all stuffed full with our towels and toiletries. Now it is filled with insulated ductwork, all black plastic, very boring. Soon to be wallboarded over.

Zelda wondering if she should walk back up the stairs, Alex wondering why I'm taking yet another picture and Zach's legs running away as fast as he can. That's all for now....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dragonish Mood

Dragon Time Christmas, I'm feeling a bit dragonish today. (This image is from Pandora's Dragons). Maybe it is that our house is really cold. We were away Friday night, when we returned on Saturday afternoon it was 46F inside, same as outside! After a roaring fire finally got it up to 62F we went to bed. Then we are having a cold snap of course, so it is 32F outside, so now the inside temp is back down to 54F. It is amazing to me how sensitive I am to just these relatively small ranges of temperature.
Or maybe it is that I haven't finished shopping yet for presents.
Or that we are feeling pinched for $$ since we are spending it all on this giant house project.
Or that the dog keeps busting through the doors to outside letting all the freakin'g cold air in.


We celebrate christmas, chanukkah (note the uncapitalization), and Solstice (the cap is for me mainly). The holidays for us are about seeing family and friends, traditions and celebrating the loving bonds we all treasure. I've been talking a lot about this with my boys lately, as they don't quite get the whole Christmas story, and the "War on Christmas" and the dichotomy of a secularized commercial holiday that all about stuff vs. a religious tradition. Maybe this would be a good year to go to a Christmas and Chanukkah service, just so they can see what they're missing out on. I inflict my very low key version of Solstice on them every year, and since it involves turning out all the lights and a cake, who is to complain, right?

How about a Christmas Meme? I got this one from DebR over at her new blog location.
1. Apple cider, Eggnog, or Hot Chocolate? Yes to all three! Especially Bud's Eggnog, with some good Jamaican Appleton Rum(I've actually been there to the rum factory in Jamaica, so I always buy this brand), heated up with cinnamon sprinkled on top of course. And Hot Chocolate from Ghirardelli or Scharffenberger made with whole milk, and topped with real whipped cream. Apple Cider is good hot or cold. The spicier the better.

2. Turkey or Ham? Hmmmm, I suppose Turkey, just because then there is dressing. Or Ham if it is a HoneyBaked Ham. Both are good. Usually for christmas Eve we do a complicated Chinese meal or maybe my special Sicilian lasagna. This year we are on our own, so who knows what we will have...I haven't really thought that far ahead yet.

3. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Duh?! What a question, of course wrapped. Even the presents in the stocking have to be wrapped. The only time wrapping doesn't happen is if it is an outside gift. Then there is a big bow involved. The point of the wrapping is extending the surprise of opening the gift. ALso if a kid wakes up early or "sleepwalks" then there isn't a surprise at all that you are there to see.

4. Colored lights or white on the tree? I usually have the colored lights on the tree. Sometimes I'll put both. I used to put up strands of white lights going up the stairs with garland and such, but that staircase is no longer this year! We're trying LED lights on the tree this year, of two different types. One is muted and pastelish, and the other is way too intense looking, something inbetween would suite me best. But I like the power savings with the LED!

5. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? We have a live tree. I buy a new one every three years or so. It gets put up on a short table, so it is tall enough. Otherwise we would go out in the backyard and cut down a tree. Really! We did last year for my parents. The live trees get planted out eventually, we dedicate them to those that have passed on in the intervening years. I like being able to see the growth of the tree and think about family and friends that aren't around anymore.

6. Favorite Christmas song? That is hard to pick! "Silent Night", or the Dave Matthews song "Christmas Song" or Bing Crosby's scat "Jingle Bells".

7. How do you feel about Christmas movies? I like some of them. Some are too sappy for me.
We just watched "Christmas Do-Over" last night which was good. The Bill Murray version of A Christmas Carol is one of my faves: "Scrooged". "Elf" is pretty good. I really love "White Christmas", just because of the music. Can't go wrong with Bing! And of course "A Christmas Story", it never fails to get me laughing til I cry. And a not really a Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life." Which I got on DVD last year, so it won't take so danged long to watch with all the stoopid tv commercials, yay!

8. What is your favorite holiday dish? My Spode Christmas tree two level cookie server. It goes so well with the rest of the special china. That reminds me, I gotta dig that out! Oh, you probably meant food. Hmmmm, I guess the almond flavored christmas tree press cookies.

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Before December 1st. On that day, which happens to be my birthday. I pull out my stack of holiday cd's. I loathe hearing it in the stores though, never seems to be good versions, just the crappy ones.

10. What is your favorite holiday smell? The smells of my grandmothers' houses when we would first walk in on Christmas. Now I suppose the smell of the tree. When I was a kid, I used to keep a bag of pine needles from every Christmas tree, just so I could smell it during the year.

11. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think I was 9 or 10. I wasn't too mad as I recall. And my parents made it into a responsibility so I could help make the magic happen for my little brother. We handled it the same way with our boys (just recently in fact!).

12. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas Tree? Mostly stars and suns and moons, some Santas, colored glass balls that say peace, colored glass tree light bulbs, glass icicles, glittered balls, and new this year two words: one beaded silver script PEACE and one red metal block lettered PEACE.

13. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas Day? We open presents on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day, we open the presents from Santa ,our stocking

14. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you? We've done it all different ways. Usually we have some people over on Christmas Eve. Then we go to my parents' house on Christmas Day where more relatives and friends join us.
Once at Disneyland and Legoland too.

15. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving!! I love feeling like I've really pleased and/or surprised my giftee. Makes me all warm and tingly inside.

Hey I feel all warm and tingly inside now after having concentrated on WHY I like this celebration time of year. Merry Merry Joy Joy to All!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Cheer Regardless!

We're being festive, regardless of the circumstances. I think wallboard dust kinda looks like snow....

Durable Mail

For those who love getting strangely shaped things in the mail, here is a great example.
I requested a bamboo flooring sample, and here is how it arrived, with a stamp, and two address labels. Really demonstrates how tough bamboo is! I can't dent this stuff! We're going to use it in our downstairs I think.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Traces Left Behind

For Poetry Thursday, here is a poem I wrote to go with this picture. It is of a muddy handprint left on the chaise lounge pad which was hanging on the deck railing to dry out.

One Hand, Only
by Julie Zaccone Stiller

Only one hand
holding out hope
grasping at truth

Only one hand
stirring the pot
pouring out tea

Only one hand
shaking on agreement
signing a compromise

Only one hand
drawing the bath
scrubbing his back

Only one hand
pointing out significance
gesturing an acceptance

Only one hand
caressing a cheek
patting a shoulder

Only one hand
sharing the burden
with the other

Oh and here are some animal Paw Prints. Why who has been visiting? The raccons of course! Coming on the deck to see if the cats have left them any food. Nope, sorry.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reaching for the Light

Climbing around in the new attic is a favorite pastime of my teenager. I took this photo on an almost rainy day. I love how his hand looks reaching towards the skylight. As if he is stretching into his future. Which I suppose he is!
Reaching for the Light, Waiting for it to return, it is so dark these days. Can't wait til the Winter Solstice next week! I'm reading a great little book called "The Return of the Light, Twelve tales from around the world for the Winter Solstice" by Carolyn McVickar Edwards. Check it out if you are interested in reading about how other cultures have explained this dark time of year...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strange Birthday Present?

Look what I got for my birthday! A new staircase! Very exciting. And now we only have one, for a few days we had both the old and the new, which was weird.
I also got this super coolio new camera which took this picture. A Canon PowerShot SD600. Very quick shutter speed, which is good for capturing in-motion kids and creatures.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My son, Alex thought that some of you might like a list of the full moons in 2007. Here you go. Happy Moon-day!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Afternoon Moon

A shot of the moon the other afternoon. Butterfly Bush in hte foreground, and a redwood tree in the background.

Wavy, Hazy, Crazy, Days

No photoshop used.
Just an unsteady camera operator I guess!
Oh and low light.
Looks like an abstraction of reality.
This is a shot of our new family room window in late afternoon, as seen through the new wall framing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tree of Texture

I'm calling this "Tree of Texture". My plan is to make a carved stamp or maybe have a thermofax screen made of this image. I think it would be a great start for a series. I'm writing this down to remind myself later, hope it works!

I took this photo on a recent field trip to Mt. Hermon for my son's 6th grade class, they went to do the ropes course. Which involved climbing waaaaaay up the redwood trees and jumping off. With safety ropes of course! It was hard to watch. I had to practically sit on my hands and gag myself so I wouldn't be yelling out various "mom-isms" at them (like Watch Out, or Get Down! for instance). This was supposed to be a team building exercise, and I think it was, in a strange sort of way. The kids egged each other on and cheered when they overcame their fears and tried stuff they couldn't have on their own.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

House Progressing towards completion

Our house, under construction on November 18th. Sorry about the finger in the shot, but I was taking this at the absolute wrong time of the morning!

Here are the rooms framed in, in the addition, it is all sealed up now to the outside elements.

We have to climb a ladder now to get up into the addition. Here is Alex encouraging me up the ladder. He knows I have a ladder phobia.

Spike the teenager cat, checking out the hole for the laundry chute. I may be carrying laundry upstairs, but not downstairs anymore!

Here you can see the old part of the house, that window is the upstairs bathroom window, and then the new beams and roof and vents. Kind of neat to see it all together.

Here is my former studio, soon to be the master bathroom. I don't know who this master is, I hope he will share the new bathroom with us...

Back down the hatch we go.

Oh my goodness, here it is today, looks like a whole house once more!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Don't Look at the Sun!

Don't look at the sun! One of the fun things with a camera is to make it look at the sun for you. Saves your eyes, and sometimes results in an interesting picture.
I'm trying to spend some time outside each day when there is sun and see if it improves my mood.
So anyways, this is the view off of our deck in the late afternoon.
We are debating cutting down the three trees in the foreground as they are growing so quickly, soon we will have only a view of them.
It is hard when you live in a forest to keep your view open. But I hesitate because they are so beautiful, young and strong. They are doing just what they are supposed to do, and I am set to destroy them just because they are in my way. Is it immoral, I wonder? It isn't as if having this view off our deck is essential to our continuing on in a living state. We would use them for firewood, so at least they wouldn't go to waste. It would give other trees and shrubs a chance for the sunlight, so they could grow. I go back and forth, and they continue growing up and out, year by year.
Maybe if the chainsaw that got left out in the rainstorm this week starts, I'll take that as sign that this is the year they go.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Thursday already?!! That must mean Poetry Thursday, this week we are encouraged to lie. Like a rug covered in lemon curd.
Here's my contribution. The photo is one that I took yesterday of the one remaining lemon on my lemon tree.

Lemon with a view
by Julie Zaccone Stiller

The lemon is terrible sad today.
Being the last on the tree is a lonely business,
I mistakenly assumed.

"No! That isn't it" she sobbed.
"It is so frustrating to see the candles get used
every single day. They tempt me with their
subtle fire to forget that I am only a fruit and
a sour one at that.
I wish I could roll out of this tree and smash them flat.
And I'd knock over that vase that keeps taunting me.
Filled as she is with sweet water and fragrant flowers.
I hope that bitch breaks into a million pieces."

Fed up with the ranting of this bitter lemon,
I plucked her roughly off the tree.
Turning towards the view I chucked her as far
as I could manage away from my house.

We have enough bitterness thankyouverymuch.
Now what will I put in my evening cocktail?
Something sweet this time, I think.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ladder to the Sky

This is the view from one of our new upstairs bedrooms. (Before the window is put in.) It shows the hillside where our road comes down and in the foreground is an apple tree thinking about chucking all of its leaves off at once.
This picture isn't all that old, but I'm already missing the dry dry hot hot first week of November. Now it has turned rainy and cold, where the house is colder inside than out. And all the chairs are wet so you can't sit in the occasional sunshine without bringing your own dry towel. Whinge. Someone better get me a SAD light for my birthday!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Birthday to my new Teenager

Having a son who just turned 13 requires a special kind of birthday cake. With dripping blood, soccer carnage, mutant dinosaurs and bugs, tiki symbols and candles that don't go out. Oh and four layers. Yes, four cake layers, which also means four frosting layers. Yum. Had to stabilize with drinking straws punched through. Looked pretty impressive though. And you should have seen how big his eyes got!
We are just getting used to him being a teenager, although it has been sneaking up on us for a while. It certainly hasn't happened suddently, overnight. But there is a difference in how he carries himself, more self assured and confident. And a marked increase in attention to grooming (hah!). He's a booger around his little brother, but on his own he is quite fun to be with.
Yesterday we had an errand to do and he wanted to go spend his birthday money at the mall. On the way we started talking about cars and he mentioned how he really wanted to save up for a Scion XB. So I took him to the dealership, and we picked up all the info brochures, a free cd of thumping music, and sat in one of them for a while to twiddle all the knobs. It was so cute, I went to get in on the passenger side and he did too. I put my hands up(yes up!) on his shoulders looked him in the eye and said "driver's side dude"". Got a big grin from that one.

He is turning into a wonderful separate human being slowly but surely. Which is thrilling and painful at the same time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote or Else!

Did you Vote today??

Halfway to Glam

For Self-Portrait Challenge this month the topic is Glam.
So here I am as of today, only halfway from last months' study of imperfections, on the road to glam.
Note: It is really quite hard to makeup only one side of your face! Those automatic reflexes kick in without any conscious thought. Luckily no one came calling before I could scrub half of myself clean since I look pretty darned demented!

Mystery Picture

What is it?

Can you guess now?

Yup, a banana slug. Right at eye height. Climbing across the screen door on a rainy day.

Halloween Summary

The Four Halloween Spooky pumpkins, it was a windy night, but they stayed lit!

Dear Son Alex as a Vampire Army Bunny. (don't ask me, he made it up, I just drilled the holes in the army helmet!)

Dear Son Zach who went as "Hi, My name is GOD" . No one got his costume. Several were offended. But that was what he decided on, after watching the movie Dogma.

Here's my favorite picture from Halloween. The pumpkin seeds, soaking in saltwater. This year was the best ever, I used three kinds of salt when they were in the cooking tray, regular, Sea salt and Japanese salt. yummm.
I am bummed that I didn't get a pic of myself. I bought a new witch hat finally, and it looked rather nice, plus I did a good job on my makeup. Oh well. maybe next year!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ArtShare MeMe

Artshare Meme
I saw this on Deirdre's Sloppy Studio Studies blog, she saw it on Emmy Schoonbeek's blog (and she saw it on Arlee's... who saw it on Skybell's ...)

So if you want to play along, read this and you wil get a piece of art from me , but you must follow the instructions.

The first five people to respond to this in the comments section will receive a piece of artwork from me.

BUT, in addition to the comments you have to post this same blurb to your blog too and continue sharing the art with people who respond to you.

What will you get?

It will be a surprise, but you will have it before the end of November!.......

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rusted Hollyhocks, drat!

I spoke too soon, the hollyhocks have rust now. But, hey, it is the end of October and new plants have sprouted and are blooming. "Always look on the bright side of life!" Tuneful whistling..

Here is a white and frilly one. Not bug eaten, but affected with rust a bit.

And another thing in the same sunny corner of the garden is borage. The happy plant! With yummy blossoms.

Lastly, my new favorite picture of Zelda the wonder dog. This is our ugly front door screen, which I have been scheming to replace for years. It has been repaired many times. Son Z crashed out of the house one morning kicking the bottom corner out.
Then Spike the teenaged cat (no longer kitten) started going in and out. So it got a little bent out of shape.
Then Zelda ran through it when she was dashing for some deer on the lawn chasing action. But she can't come back in that way, although she tries, and gets stuck which is rather hilarious.

Think I oughta get a new screen door now??

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Roof, Hurting Tree

Here's the new roof, overlaying the existing house, as seen through our almond tree.
This is our final weekend to empty out the top story of the house, next week the roofing, siding and windows go in so they can bust through into the existing house. How exciting!

But we've noticed that this poor almond tree has moss and lichen growing on the lower part of it, I'm not sure what to do with it! I suppose I could cut off the affected branches and see if that helps or not. I'd hate to lose this tree, it is the squirrel's favorite!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Superfluous Signage

Here is my favorite new sign around here. It says "HILL". Talk about superfluous! (I've been thinking about that word all week, finally got to use it, hooray!)
I drive this road everytime I leave the house.

Here's a closeup of the sign which cracks me up. Someone has added stickers that spell out"DUH!". Indeed. DUH! What is your clue that this is a hill people? Geez, you've just been driving for a bout two miles with your car pointed downhill, and all of a sudden you need a sign saying "HILL". Whattawasteo'money!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Puffy Cloud Detail

Here is a detail of a quilt I just finished for the Fabled Fibers challenge. A cloud made with tuelle net, chiffon, angelina fiber and lots o' stitching. Now that I look at it, the cloud is almost Africa continent shaped. I guess you can find anything in the clouds if you look hard enough.