Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book List for 2008

Okay. It's that time again.

Here is what I read in 2008, in MLA format (as best as I can remember and manage, anyway). As always, library books are designated by asterisk.

Anderegg, David. Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them. New York: Penguin, 2008.
Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor, 2003.*
--. The Robber Bride. New York: Doubleday, 1993.*
Barry, Dave. Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far). New York: Penguin, 2007.*
Bombeck, Erma. Family: The Ties That Bind…And Gag!. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1987.
Boyett, Jason. Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30. Orlando: Relevant Books, 2005.
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. 1982. New York: Del Ray, 2008.*
Brockmeier, Kevin. The View From the Seventh Layer. New York: Pantheon, 2008.
Browne, Jill Connor. The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.
Burroughs, Augsten. Running With Scissors. New York: Picador, 2002.
Byatt, A. S. The Biographer's Tale. New York: Knopf: 2001.*
--. The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye: Five Fairy Stories. New York: Random House, 1997.*
--. The Game. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1967.*
--. Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice. New York: Random House, 1998.*
--. Little Black Book of Stories. New York: Knopf, 2004.*
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages. Berkely: University of California Press, 1984*
Cain, James. The Postman Always Rings Twice. 1934. New York: Vintage, 1981.
Claiborne, Shane. The Irresistible Revolution. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.*
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004.
Cobb, Linda. Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.
Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
Cutler, Katharine Noble. Flower Arranging for All Occasions. 1967. New York: Doubleday, 1981.
Editors of Consumer Reports Books with Edward Kippel. How to Clean Practically Anything. 4th Ed. Yonkers: Consumers Union of the United States, Inc., 1996.
Fforde, Jasper. Thursday Next in First Among Sequels. New York: Viking, 2007.*
--. Thursday Next in Something Rotten. New York: Viking, 2004.*
--. Thursday Next in the Well of Lost Plots. New York: Vicking, 2003.*
Frey, James. A Million Little Pieces. New York: Nan A. Telese, 2003.
Gates, Stefan. Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy, and the Brave. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and The Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. *
Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage, 1995.
Haggard, Ted and Gayle Haggard. From This Day Forward: Making Your Vows Last a Lifetime. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2006.
Herbert, Frank. Chapterhouse: Dune. New York: Ace, 1987.
--. Dune. 1965. New York: Putnam, 1998.*
--. Children of Dune. 1976. New York: Ace, 1987.
--. Dune Messiah. 1969. New York: Berkley, 1981.
--. God Emperor of Dune. New York: Berkley, 1981.
--. Heretics of Dune. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1984. 480 pages*
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Trans. Hilda Rosner. 1922. New York: MJF Books, 1992.
Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. New York: Scribner, 2003.*
Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Trans. Michael Henry Herm. 1984. New York: HaperCollins, 1999.
Laskas, Gretchen Moran. The Midwife's Tale. New York: Dial Press, 2003.
Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook. 1962. New York: Bantam, 1981.
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 1950. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. Prince Caspian [The Return to Narnia]. 1951. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. The Silver Chair. 1953. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. 1952. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
McGuire, Maria. To Take Arms: My Year With the IRA Provisionals. New York: Viking, 1973.*
Palahniuk, Chuck. Choke. New York: Anchor, 2001.*
Parker, Suzi. Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt. Boston: Justin, Charles & Co., 2003.*
Radosh, Daniel. Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. New York: Scribner, 2008.
Rigg, Jo. Tabletops. Boston: Bullfinch Press, 2003.*
Sedaris, Amy. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. New York: Warner, 2006.*
Seo, Danny. Simply Green: Parties. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.*
Setterfield, Diane. The Thirteenth Tale. New York: Washington, 2007.
Shute, Nevil. On the Beach. 1957. New York: Perennial, 1966.
Simon, Leslie and Trevor Kelly. Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. New York: Harper Entertainment, 2007.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. 1928. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1991.
Wodicka, Tod. All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.

And because I wanted to do something new this year, I made up some categories for some of these titles.

I Realized I Hate You After the Fact and I Hate Myself for Letting You Waste My Time
All of the Thursday Next books
Sex in the South
To Take Arms
Every Dune book but Dune
How to Clean Practically Anything
Oryx and Crake
The Midwife's Tale

You Did Not Let Me Down and I Deeply Appreciate That
Dave Barry's History of Millennium
I Like You
The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love
Rapture Ready!
The View from the Seventh Layer
The Thirteenth Tale
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

I Had No Idea You Were Going to Be This Amazing and I Want to Be Best Friends With You Forever and Ever!
Madwoman in the Attic
Everybody Hurts
Flower Arranging for All Occasions
Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean
The Golden Notebook
The Hours
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
The Game
Snow Falling on Cedars
Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell

December's book list

Since I don't plan on finishing any books today, I thought I'd go ahead and do December's book list. After that, I'm posting 2008's book list (prepare to be underwhelmed).

Here is the last monthly book list posting for 2008.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as Mother: Spirituality in the High Middle Ages. Berkley: University of California Press, 1984. 279 pages
I bought this because what little I've read of Julian of Norwich had really fascinating "Jesus as mother" imagery. I started reading this during the last session. Then I didn't touch it for a year or so. Then I started reading it before bed because I discovered if I read words like "Hilda" or "Mechtild" enough times, I would fall asleep. This book is a collection of essays, and it reads like one. I wish Bynum had used more excerpts from people's writings, instead of her commentary. Most of all, I wish that she'd used endnotes instead of footnotes because, as smart as I like to think I am, German footnotes in tiny font are of absolutely no help to me. None. Parts of this were really interesting, and I'm glad I read it, but there's a reason why none of the people examined in these essays are as big of a deal as Julian of Norwich. Or even Margery Kempe. Yikes.

Herbert, Frank. Chapterhouse: Dune. New York: Ace, 1987. 436 pages.
Remember when I said I was done? I wasn't. I found the last book in the series (actually, the last book Herbert finished before dying) at the library sale for 50¢ and bought it. And then I forgot about it. Then, while heavily under the influence of gas when I had my last cavity repaired, I thought, "I can't believe I haven't started reading the last Dune book!" I was that 'altered.' I'm so glad this is the last book. Not to give away the ending of this convoluted mess, but you know the ending of Men in Black? Yeah, think about it. I was irate.

Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. New York: Scribner, 2003. 238 pages*
I finally read a Chuck Klosterman book! We borrowed this from Casey. I think we returned to the library in time. I hope so, anyways. This was a great read, and I finally understand why some people think he's a big deal. This was interesting and funny and insightful and great. Excellent writing. Fun stuff.

Rigg, Jo. Tabletops. Boston: Bullfinch Press, 2003. 118 pages*
Alana and I threw ourselves a tea party for our birthdays, and I wanted to be prepared. I also wanted to make things around the house a little more festive for when we had Mom's birthday at our place, and I wanted things to look 'holidayish.' I don't think I used any of the ideas in this book for either party, but I did steal a few tips for decorating my apartment in general. There are step-by-step instructions for a lot of the decorations, and everything is broken down by theme. Bonus: pretty pictures!

Sedaris, Amy. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. New York: Warner, 2006. 304 pages*
Oh wow. Some of the recipes in here looked really good. Some of the decorating tips were helpful. The rest was just sheer hilarity. Pro: hilarious pictures. Con: Sedaris's obsession with panty hose. I did not use any of these ideas for any of my social events this month. I did laugh a lot, though, and found something I could recommend as spectacular reading for nearly everyone know.

Seo, Danny. Simply Green: Parties. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. 141 pages*
Some of these ideas were cute, easy, and fun (trees as party favors at a baby shower! Great idea, especially if you include planting instructions). Some were none of those things (um, no. I do not think I will be reupholstering my dining room chairs. It's not just the lack of dining room or dining room furniture holding me back, either). Some were cool (like making a crazy afghan out of old scarves--I could do this). Some were just stupid. I can't think of any that were stupid.

But there is a terrifying picture of him supposedly pulling a tray of roasted butternut squash out of an oven that obviously not on that is disgusting. I showed Cody the picture, and he thought they were chicken breasts. Then he took a second look, and was horrified. I realize this isn't much of a review. But you would have thought it was funny if you'd been there. Trust me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 25

If you make Levi pose for a picture,
he'll stop playing with a mini blow torch in the house.
Family scene in the kitchen.

Robert gathers knowledge that will help him be a better uncle.

Sara and Levi play a rousing game of Mario Kart
on Sara's new Game Cube.

Sara, and her present from Chad that stole the thunder from my Coldstone Creamery gift card.

December 24

A little family dinner.
Mrs. Dicy and both her sisters wore green.
As did Cody.

We started checking out each other's presents.
Casey is looking at Spencer's.
Spencer and Cody are looking at mine.

The twins are trying on their shirts from their mom.

December 21

Great big happy news

But first, a little backstory.

Here are Sara and Chad on Chad's birthday. Sara made and decorated a cake for him, and even got him to smile in a picture for me.
Chad and Sara have been dating for a while now. They have many adventures, including road trips to Iowa, bowling, and Waffle House dates.

Our whole family loves Chad. He's a hard worker. He has an enjoyable accent. He's funny.

The best reason we have for liking him is that he makes Sara happy.

So no one was very surprised on Christmas Eve when he made Sara very, very, very happy by giving her one of her presents early (except Sara).

Here's Sara on Christmas Day (yes, she posed like this on purpose). Look how happy she is!
Notice anything else?

Left to right: Mom, Jen, Laine, and Sara's beautiful new engagement ring.

(Last photo stolen from Laine)

Levi is 20

This is Levi's extremely belated birthday post.

He's 20.

He really shouldn't be that old.

In the past couple of decades I've known him, here are some things about Levi I know and enjoy:

  • When he was little, he loved tractors and other various farming implement toys. Every morning, he would line all of them up on the edge of this green rug we had in the living room. Then he would go ride our neighbor's tractor with Mr. Bill.
  • He's really good with little kids.
  • He's really good with cars.
  • He basically loves anything with a motor. Bonus points for things that run on diesel.
  • He's very strong. Once, he went to a neighbor's house and picked up the weight-lifting set thing they said he could have. By himself. The weights were at least 200 pounds, and he loaded the whole thing in the bed of a truck, drove it home, and then moved it from the truck to the front porch. Please keep in mind this was when he was 17 or so, and he wasn't working out yet. When we asked him how he did it (without injuring himself), he shrugged and said, "I guess I was just excited."
  • It took both of my parents and the same barber nearly 15 years to tame all of his cowlicks. Now he just buzzes his head.
  • He and Sara bought matching Razorback hoodies for themselves last week. I'm not sure why I find that adorable and hilarious, but I do. The little kids (we call them that sometimes) are adorable and hilarious, especially around the holidays.
  • After viewing Cody as The Enemy for a year or two or so (he's a very protective brother, and it took the family a while to get used to Cody and love him), Levi's a pretty good buddy to him. He borrows Cody's comics sometimes, and they talk about superhero movies. It amuses me.
  • He has good heroes. Theodore Roosevelt, Sergeant York, Mom and Dad, various Civil War military I don't know, Richard Petty, and of course, cowboys. I think that says a lot about him.
  • Last year, I mentioned that I really liked the fact that boys like David and Dallas looked up to him. I still do.
  • He looks good in a cap. I know very few guys who do.
  • He's very driven. It kind of weirds me out, because I'm kind of ...... not. But I'm pretty sure all of his focus and hard work will pay off for him, and they're great traits to have.
  • He's a good brother.
Here are Sara and Levi wearing their matching sweatshirts,
and playing Mario Kart. It was Levi's Christmas present to Sara.
He's a good gift-giver.
Here's Levi, being tall and decorating the family
tree with me.

Here's Levi, humoring me and posing with a cat.
They're not really friends.

This is how I still think of Levi sometimes.
Sorry, Bud.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why is it not Christmas yet?!?!!?

I am tired and cranky. I blame the rain. And everyone but me.

I fell asleep pretty early in bed last night. I was sitting in bed, reading a book, and drinking some tea. The next I knew, I woke up around 1 a.m. and realized I hadn't brushed me teeth and I was still wearing a bra. Madness.

Then I woke up this morning and started telling Cody all about my crazy dreams, when finally he asked if I was going to work today. It was about 15 minutes before I usually leave!

I got to work late, mostly because there was a police car parked on a bridge. Apparently, the intent was to make people slow down because (get ready) when it rains and the temperature is below freezing, bridges and overpasses can have ice on them! Watch out!

And I found out Mom and Dallas will be unable to visit the Capitol despite my months and months of nagging. Literally, months. And literally nagging my very own mother. Yes, he can enjoy it without the Christmas decorations. Yes, they could probably even make their way through the building without me when they do get around to that field trip. But I wanted to seem cool and knowledgeable about something in Little Rock besides the Target. Bleh.

Also, the temps, in addition to being not-very-well trained, all think they're cooler than me because they've all had higher levels of education. Yes, I get it. The majority of you went to law school. At UALR. I know people who went to Duke. Boom.

In addition to implying I'm not that smart (I don't care if it is true in some areas, you don't have to make that face. Especially when I tell you I'm not a fan of Toni Morrison! I don't get her! Take your middle-class white man guilt elsewhere.) (and no, this is not just me being paranoid because I still haven't read a lot of important books that I plan to. Some of them kind of act like they're just a mercy to me because of their experience with spite of the fact that I've been reading it for years. And others act like I used to be Nell. You remember that movie? Jodie Foster grew up kind of feral in the woods? It's like the fact that I can drive a car to get here and turn on my computer is nothing short of miraculous, and the result of intensive therapy.), there's one guy who went to Spain for a semester and now speaks Spanish and knows everything about Spain. Big whoop. I know tons of people who speak Spanish. The student population at my college was 20% Central American. I also grew up knowing some.....workers. But yeah, that guy (who you think I'd like a lot because he loves Virginia Woolf and wants to base his PhD thesis on her in some way [although you think he'd have a slightly more clear idea of what it would be.....maybe this is just a line he uses to pick up English majors]) also tends to throw out phrases in French. Because he minored in it or something. Just say "Good morning," dangit! I learned all of the phrases he's throwing out by watching Disney's Beauty and the Beast!

But you know what my real problem is?

(I know you're thinking, "It's that you have a really ugly attitude, Jen.")

I want to be at home.

As much as the work stuff is getting to me, I'd gladly blow it all off to go to the store to buy some more yarn I need and finish up a couple of scarves that I need to finish.

I want to put on my Hanson Christmas album (I had a weird dream about them last night! Taylor had a molestache. So sad.) and light my red candles and plug in my beautiful Christmas tree and knit. And wrap a few more presents.

I want to make a gingerbread house with Cody, like he said we would.

I want to drink some more coffee and wear some pajama pants and tape up some more Christmas cards on our closet door.

I'm festive. It just comes with conditions.

(I have also forgotten to bring any Mt. Dew to work with me and I don't know if I have enough change for a vending machine.)

But mostly, I'm ready for Christmas to get here so I can celebrate it over the course of a few days and with all my families.

I'm going to call my Mamaw.

I'm going to wait for a last minute phone call from my mom so that she'll send me to a store a few minutes before closing.

I'm ready.

So very ready.

I hope you have a great Christmas with your loved ones.

Update: Now I do feel like at home. You know why?

Because I'm about to start knitting while watching people fight as they play cards.

Just like home!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Problematic eyelids

Well, here it is. Cody was taping his eyelids down every night for about a month because they don't close completely when he sleeps. Having his eyes open all night long was causing some scratches and scarring on his corneas and leaving them susceptible to infection. He also had some problems with his eyelashes growing inward, but that's not related to the tape.

Anyway, at first I would tape his lids down with one strip of tape. I would do this vertically after he'd rub some ointment in there. But sometimes Cody would go to bed before I would, so he started taping them down himself.

But there were a couple of instances when he would wake up and realize his eyes were not completely closed. And there were a couple of mornings when he would wake up and the tape would be inexplicably gone.

So he decided to reinforce his methodology.

He started putting down a strip of tape horizontally and then covering it with a vertical strip of tape. And wound up looking like he had crosses on his face.

Have I mentioned that the white tape is kind of reflective? It is.

Try rolling over in the middle of the night and seeing this:
It's a little creepy, right?


In the end, this really helped his eyelids stay down. And this really helped his corneas heal. And his eyes stayed closed now when he sleeps. And his eyes seem better.

But still, I'm glad that kissing this goodnight is no longer part of my bedtime routine.

(Disclaimer: Yes, Cody was awake when I took this picture. Yes, he knew I was going to take his picture. Yes, I have his permission to publish this picture on the Internet.)

Mom's birthday: Pictures

This is Mom.
She had a birthday party with most of her family.
She ate barbecue (which I did not photograph), and had dessert.
She seems happy with how the day went.

These are just a few of the guests at the party.
I assure you they had a blast.
I can't explain what's going on with Chad's face, though.

I think Cody's telling a funny story.
Or doing something that Laine and Robert think is funny.

This what I did to the bar for the party.

These are the flowers I bought and arranged for the party.

This is Mom's carrot cake!
Cody made it, and I decorated it.
Mom wouldn't let us stick many candles in it,
so it didn't look destroyed when we cut it up and served it.

Thanksgiving weekend!

Thanksgiving 2008!

You know what's a pretty dish?
Fruit salad.
I made it.

On Friday, Dallas came over.
He brought cupcakes for all of us!
There's a cupcake with an initial for every person.

Cody and Mozart are about to throw down.
You know how some people let kids win games?
Not Cody.
He trounced Dallas at Connect Four.

Laine and Dallas, just hanging out and wearing scarves.

With my friend.

The only thing about the weekend better than this...
...would be this.
Okay, except for this.
The dishwasher started leaking, but it was just a hose problem.
Once Dad and Chad spent a lot of time in the kitchen floor, they found it.

Why do these people look like this?
Because these people look like this.

These boots were made for.....
raising breast cancer awareness?

Here is Grandmother drying some dishes by hand (obviously).
She wasn't irate about it, but she looks like she is in this photo.

Pictures of stuff

This is where some jerk apparently backed into my car in a parking lot.

I have not yet figured out how to blame Cody for this.
But when I do, it's going to be just scathing.

We canned spiced apple rings.

We haven't opened our jar of them yet,
but we ate some of the ones left over from the project.
They tasted like Christmas.

Basket A Month:
$60 + local farmers + good stuff.

Oh, Mo.

It's so easy to ascribe human characteristics to him.
He looks reproachful.

Mom and Dad, in a very serious part of a Scrabble game.

Sara and Chad are taking it easy.
I think it's because they were winning.