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.