Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best time of the year ....

And I do not mean Christmas.

I have read three of the books.

Gone Girl
Bringing up the Bodies

plus Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk which is in the playoff round.

The Orphan Master's Son is on my shelf.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is on my library wait list.

The Fault in Our Stars is on my Christmas list.

I have never heard of six of the books.  I'll have lots of fun with the book store gift card my mother-in-law got me for Christmas.  

I was right on the money last year with my pick of The Sister's Brothers ... this year?  I'll get back to you.  Early choice is Arcadia because I loved it.  But I am not sure it will be GOOD enough to make the finals.

By the way, in case anyone has wondered where I've been.  Funny thing happened on the way to 45.  I needed glasses. 

I thought I was too grief-stricken to read. I was pretty grief-stricken and mildly depressed.  I thought I would get over it.  I thought I would pull-through the pain into the sunlight of reading.  The sunlight came out and I still couldn't read.  Turns out, I just needed glasses.  Two or three pairs of cute readers later and I am back in the books.

Predictions anyone?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Unexpected News, Part II

As you may guess, my world was rocked by the news earlier this week that a friend had been murdered. I have been, for the past few days, a very difficult person to live with.  I have not been very nice to certain sales clerks.  I almost punched the lady who cut me off in the grocery store line.  I yelled at my kids.  Pity the lady at the bank that told me I couldn't meet with a personal banker without an appointment despite the fact that my debit card was mal-functioning and refusing to give me MY money (only because of one very astute branch manager am I still with that bank).  I couldn't focus.

Let me tell you, that is not the way Pat would have wanted to see me.  I knew that, but I could not figure this out.  Why was I so upset?  I mean beyond the grief of losing a friend ... what was wrong?

Last night figured it out.  I am scared. How can this kind of violence enter into MY life?

I don't have friends who get murdered.  I know people die.  But they have heart attacks.  They have cancer.  They are in car accidents.  They do NOT get shot in the head with a rifle at close range on their own property by a crazy neighbor while his wife and daughter are in the house.  

It is too close.  Now it is not some random person in the news.  It is a friend of mine.  And it didn't take much for me to imagine a scenario in which I could have easily been at the house at exactly the same time.  I could have had my kids with me.  I could be gone and my kids could be the ones without a parent.

Let me change that ... I am not scared.  I am TERRIFIED.  And now I am learning to live with a new normal.  This kind of senseless and violent act is closer than I ever imagined.

Because of the circumstances, I have also lost any faith I had in the police department.  As someone said to me the other day ... the police are no longer in the business of crime PREVENTION - they are too worried about how their actions will look to the world around them. THIS crime could have been prevented.  One arrest.  One "yes, I believe he threatened to kill you and your wife, let's take him in for questioning."  Pat would still be with us.  Instead, I now see the police as an after the fact crime mitigation and solving force.

My world has changed.

I liked it the old way.

Not Just Hiking - September 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
The first book club book of the year.  I really like the woman who recommended this one, but I have learned that often our reading styles are completely different.  It was not bad, but I am not sure I ever would have read it without it showing up on our book club list.  I guess that would be the purpose of the book club?  What if I only read what I wanted to?  Admittedly, I would have a great list, but I might miss one or two things.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Oh, I can't say anything about this without spoiling it for someone else.  Except that I LOVED it.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Lucky, lucky me.  I got to read two wonderful books in a row.  Here was the second story in a row about love and relationships.  However, this one was about three (or four or five) beautiful love stories.  About the different ways of loving people and allowing yourselves to be loved.  It made me laugh and cry.  Another highly recommended book for the TOB.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng
Shortlisted for the Booker ... this book was lyrically beautiful.  About a third of the way through, I thought "this is really well written, but is also really predictable."  By the time I got to the end, I was surprised and delighted by what the author showed me and what he let me figure out for myself.  I loved it.  During a week that I could not keep my mind on anything for longer than a minute, this book managed to keep my attention.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Words I Never Thought I Would Say

On Monday, a friend of mine was murdered.

My already fragile heart has now been smashed into a million pieces.

I spoke to this friend just a few weeks ago.  I told him we missed him.  I thank God for that time.

Please, please ... tell your friends how much they mean to you.  Hug your kids.  Embrace your spouse.  Call you brother or sister or mom or dad.  Send your grandmother a card.

Do it for Pat.

There are no dress rehearsals.

And let me say now ... I don't know you all.  But each of you who leaves a comment often brings a small moment of joy into my day.  Thanks.  

They murderer is in custody and has confessed.  In the state of Texas, this premeditated act should get a life sentence.  It doesn't matter.  It won't bring Pat back to his family.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Books

The Booker Prize Shortlist has been announced ...

Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home 
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies 
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse 
Will Self, Umbrella 
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis 

I've read the Mantel and wasn't surprised to see it on the list.  I have never heard of the others and will be rushing to the library website after I post to put these on hold.

Last year a shortlisted book won the TOB???

Friday, September 7, 2012

TOB predictions

Too early?  I don't think so.

Loved These ...
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic

Liked this ...
Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel 

They will have to put this in even though I don't think it is deserving ...
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Here We Go Again ... Bleak House Round Two

Back in the Spring I began a read-along of Bleak House.  But I was quickly annoyed by the technical difficulties I encountered ... I couldn't comment or post!  And then a few of the people I was reading with dropped out.  Then I fell behind.  Then I dropped out.

I had the inside scoop that others would be trying this Fall, so I didn't feel like a failure.

Well here we go again.

This time Amy at New Century Reading will be hosting the read-along.  I know I can post on her blog ... and many smart and funny people are already participating.  Yeah, I  can't wait to begin (again).

And I have the brand new Penguin Classics edition to keep me company.  Great suggestion Amy and Girl Detective!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not Just Hiking - August 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic
Mrs. Mental-Multivitamin rarely lets me down, and her recommendation of this book was quite possibly, the best yet.  The experience of reading this was like my experience reading The Handmaid's Tale.  I had to go slowly.  I was compelled to read the book, but I often found myself so agitated and angry that I would have to put it down to give myself a little breathing room.  It was fascinating and terrifying and so beautifully conceived and written.   It challenged me ... how many books can say that these days?

Really. ONE book finished in the entire month of August.  Just One.  

Ah, but the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder and the kids are back in school and I am piling up books and recommendations for the Fall and Winter reading seasons. 

Books in August: 1
Books in 2012: 55

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm in Shock ...

because a woman actually said to me that I didn't understand what Todd Akin meant.  She said he was right and that sometimes people say they are raped when they aren't and that I don't understand the difference between real rape and statutory rape.  And apparently she believes that one can lead to pregnancy and one can't.

The Republicans deserve to lose if this is what people think.  I've been a Republican all my life.  I actually worked in Missouri for the Republican party many years ago.  I can't stand Claire McCaskil.  If I were still in Missouri, she would have my vote and, if Akin doesn't get out of the race, she will have my money as well.

You can't fix stupid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jasper/Wilcox Pass

I may have mentioned that we went to Jasper.  I was prepared to be impressed, but all I really remember is how crowded it was.  Most of the trails were closed (tsunamis caused by glaciers breaking apart, rockslides, grizzly bears and flooded trails) and there were more tourists in Jasper than I have seen any place else in the Rockies.  By the end of the weekend - after I had taken only one photo worth publishing -

Medicine Lake

I wanted - no I needed to get back into the mountains.  I needed not to be near them.  I needed to be in them.  So on the drive home we stopped and strolled up Wilcox Pass.  This is a highly recommended trail from my favorite guide book that I absolutely ... did not love.

I think I am getting spoiled.  I hike so often and see such amazing things on a weekly basis that I no longer am impressed by things like glaciers viewed from 7500 feet.  It wasn't an awful hike ... it was nice and pretty simple.  Very little serious elevation gain.  Views of the Columbia Icefields.  And People.  Lots of people.  And views of the highway.  It is billed as a 4 star hike, but I would give it only three.

Columbia Icefield fromWilcox Pass

Mary Schaffer Loop/Maligne Lake/Jasper NP:
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: negligible
Miles hiked in 2012: 61
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 130

Wilcox Pass:
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation: 1100 feet
Miles hiked in 2012: 65
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 135

Visitors and Fish

You've heard the saying haven't you ... visitors, like fish, stink after three days.

Well, I have had both.  And they didn't stink.  I have to admit, that I may have enjoyed my fish more!

Yes, I did.  I caught this fish.  On a fly line.  On the Bow River.  Patting myself on the back.

Besides the fishing trip on the Bow, my brother and sister-in-law have visited, we took a weekend trip to Jasper (I know I was supposed to be impressed), and my parents came with my nephew.  We have been busy and will continue to be busy with backpacking trips planned for this weekend and next.  School starts a week from today.  Life in Canada in the summer if packed with adventure and we have been taking it all in ... because it is supposed to snow in the mountains on Thursday.  Winter is coming!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Helen Lake

Superlative.  Spectacular.  Beautiful. Satisfying. Amazing. Breathtaking.

This is why we hike the Canadian Rockies.  This hike.  I don't need to hike any other trails.  Ever.  Again.

I could just drive back to Helen Lake week after week.  I will traverse the side of this mountain.  I can stroll through those alpine meadows.  I should linger by the lake.  I can ascend to that ridge.  I can wonder at the beauty of God's creation.

And I will thank Him for giving me chance to see this view while I live in Canada.  For my health, for the family that I get to spend time with.  For my (almost) teenage son who loves this as much as I do and who exhibits no teenage behavior on these trails.  For my younger son whose small frame carries him as far as it does everyone else despite the fact that he has to take twice as many steps as the rest of us.  For my husband who comes alive again after a crappy week at work.  Thank you.  Thank you.

This was on the way up.  Will you believe me if I tell you the photo does not do it justice?  I was almost in tears contemplating the beauty of this place.  

Because these filled the alpine meadows.  Well, these and it seems like a million other flowers.

This was the view from the ridge.  No one wanted to leave.

So we built this.  

So what is it?  Our very first inukshuk!  We had never built one before, but we finally found a place that was worthy of leaving a piece of ourselves behind.

What does it mean?  The mysterious stone figures known as inuksuit can be found throughout the circumpolar world. Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means "in the likeness of a human" in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."

Even the way down was wonderful.

Helen Lake:
Distance: 9.5 miles
Elevation: 1800 feet
Miles hiked in 2012: 59
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 128

Thursday, August 9, 2012

West Wind Pass

This one will be short.  If the name of the hike is West Wind Pass and the peak above it is Windtower you might be uncomfortable on a breezy day.  We were miserable.  The views ...

were really not worth the straight up and down.  Or the constant cold wind (in July?).  Or the rocky loose terrain.

West Wind Pass:
Distance: 3 miles (wait - check out that next number)
Elevation: 1500 feet (yes in 1.5 miles - brutal)
Miles hiked in 2012: 49
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 118

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yellowknife, NWT

I am trying to catch up on our summer adventures so everyone will know why I have not been reading.

It is so spectacularly beautiful here in the summer that I just don't spend any time inside. Highs in the upper 70s to low 80s.  Blue skies.  Sun.  Mountain vistas.  Even when I am at home, I make an effort to just sit on my back porch and look at the mountains.  I look at the mountains in the winter as well, but it is too cold to sit outside and just contemplate them.  Then I have to be inside by the fire, and what better place to curl up with a book.  But I digress ...

A few weeks ago we headed up - with a group of about 15 other planes - to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for an airshow.  This, by the way, was my husband's idea.  He hasn't gotten a lot of flight time in this year, and here was a great opportunity to get to know some of the flying club members, see an airshow, and see another part of Canada.

O.K.  That is how I would describe the weekend.  Nice, that is another good word.  Well, those and incredibly expensive.  On a good day in the US, flying is a pricey hobby.  Here in Canada, where general aviation is almost dead, the price of a weekend doubles.

I guess we are a little jaded ... we have seen the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds countless times.  We have watched vintage WWII fighters race around cones in Reno.  We have visited the monument to Beechcraft.  An airshow with 6 planes on static display, one F-18, and the Snowbirds didn't do much for me.  I'm happy all of the people in Yellowknife got to see these, but I would have rather been hiking.

The highlight of the weekend (besides coming home) was visiting the headquarters of Buffalo Aviation.  Do you ever watch Ice Pilots?  Yeah, we met those guys.  My youngest son was in heaven.

So, I just reread this post.  The weekend wasn't that bad.  I think if it had been just the four of us, we might have had a better time.  But we were in a group.  I don't do well traveling in large groups.  Especially a group that includes arrogant SOBs and cheap old men who try to stiff waitresses.  Enough ... when were together just a a family, it was lovely and the people of Yellowknife were kind and welcoming. 

By the way - post 100 since arriving in Canada a little over a year ago.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Not Just Hiking - July 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
For Shelf Discovery - Even more upset with my school and small town librarians.  It was bad enough that they never sent me in the direction of Cormier and that they kept some of Blume's best books away from me.  But to be the young girl I was and to have been denied this book was a tragedy.  I loved this book now on my first reading of it and I know I would have loved it then.  I was reminded of myself so many times, that I think it would have been a comfort in my self-doubt plagued youth.  My favorite line was when Sara Louise's husband says "God in heaven's been raising you for this valley from the day you were born."  Sometimes I feel like that ... although I don't have a place because we move so often, I feel like I am destined for this life.  It would have been nice to have thought - back then - that I had a destiny.

Are You in the House Alone by Richard Peck
For Shelf Discovery - Here is one I am not sorry I missed.  I don't like scary books.

Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
Another superlative offering by Mr. Morris ... and it barely touched on his efforts and successes in creating the National Parks and the National Monuments.  I can't wait to get to the last in the trilogy.  Apparently, he became yet more fascinating.  Morris is an excellent story-teller.

Bringing Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The second of three planned books that fictionally chronicle the life of Thomas Cromwell.  Proof, once again, that the people behind the power are usually the most interesting.  This was not an easy read.  It required concentration and time.  It was worth it.

Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain
I was just disappointed in the lack of originality.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Oh, I liked this book.  I am so glad I read it in the middle of summer and the middle of baseball season.  I think it was the characters ... Henry was another one I loved.  The little guy wins in the end.  And in this case so does the big guy and the girl too.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I didn't get the appeal.
(added in mid-August - my 12 year-old son, however, loved it)

Book in July: 7
Books in 2012: 54

Monday, July 23, 2012


What can you say about Stampede? I am not even going to try to explain it ... I'll just let the photos speak for the event.

Day One: Rodeo

I love it when the horse wins!

My favorite event is always the Barrel Races.
Women are smart enough to STAY on their horses.

Day Two: The Chucks

The Start

Coming around the last run ... heading towards the finish.

And the winner is ...

Upper Kananaskis Lake

In between trips, we did manage to get in another 10 miler.  10.75 miles to be exact.  I remember this trek well, because we saved the toughest part for last.  Who knew the interpretive trail (which I thought would be paved and flat) would entail the most elevation.

It was dreary and rainy most of the day, but these mountains are always beautiful.  I was in between cameras (didn't want the extra weight so I didn't take my big camera) and, unfortunately, my iPhone did not do this trail justice.

I have to remind myself how lucky we are to live here.  People pay to come here on vacation!  I can see this every weekend.

Upper Kananaskis Lakes:
Distance: 10.75 miles
Elevation: negligible
Miles hiked in 2012: 46
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 115

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Down and Up Vacation

Phew!  I am home for at least three weeks.

While I love, love, love to travel.  I also love my home and need a little down time to unpack my suitcase, sleep in my own bed and cook some homemade meals.

Our June vacation was crazy and mixed up and horrible and wonderful all at the same time.  We were supposed to go to Alaska by private aircraft (ours with my husband as pilot) in a group of about 6 other planes.  But things began to fall apart in early June.  I realized I didn't really like some (most) of the people on the trip.  The people I did like decided not to go.  A VP called a VIP meeting for right in the middle of the trip - about my husband's project.  The plane broke down.  The first and the last reasons had more to do with our decision to cancel than the others did.  We fixed the plane, but by then the excitement had worn off.

So we took our two kids, our packed suitcases and headed to the West Coast.  Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Idaho.

The downs came first ... we didn't really like Vancouver.  It didn't help that we had to wait for three hours in traffic and drive through the worst part of town after 11 hours on the road to get to our hotel.  It also didn't help that it rained constantly and that the hotel charged $35 a night for parking.

We did enjoy the aquarium and the float planes, but if I never see another totem pole in my life I think I will survive.  Granville Market was wonderful (although it did spoil us for Pike Street market in Seattle later in the trip), but we were happy to head to the ferry after just two days.

Yes, we did walk across that bridge.  No fear of heights in this family.

Then came the ups.  We spent three glorious, sunny days in Victoria on Vancouver Island.  The museum was better, the hotel was better, the view was better.  We spent more time outside.  We hiked.  We saw whales.  Sometimes all on the same day.

Butchart Gardens

Whale Watching.

Hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail (a feeder to the West Coast Trail).  That my friends is the US int he background ... the Olympic peninsula.

We hiked 6 miles - which put us over 100 miles in less than a year - with next to no elevation gain.  In the mud.  That was a new experience, and I am not sure the cleaning staff of the Fairmont Empress appreciated our tracks.

After Victoria, we headed to the states and landed in Seattle.  Pike Street market was a let down after the beautiful Granville Market of Vancouver.  Yay, the first Starbucks!?  I guess this is one of the drawbacks of being well-travelled.  I was not impressed.  But then I have seen the antiques markets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, the seafood markets of Seoul, the fake good markets in Shanghai and the and the food markets in Thailand.  Pike Street did not impress.  I am a little ashamed to admit that we spent more of our two days in Seattle at the mall and eating than we did being tourists.  Hey, when you haven't eaten at Chipotle in a year, you put your priorities in order.  In Seattle's defense, the Museum of Flight was wonderful. 

The best part of the trip came at the end.  We ended up, by pure chance and because the roads in the United States are much, much better than the roads in Canada, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  And I fell in love.  I think I could live there forever.  Granted it was beautiful and sunny.  The people were friendly. We ate the best steak of our lives.  We flew in a float plane.  Kind of hard to beat.

What are the odds?  Could you hit that green?
I told you it was beautiful.

At the end of the day we learned quite a bit about ourselves.  We probably aren't the best people to ask to go on a group vacation.  We have been traveling by ourselves for so long that we are just used to each other.  We don't like people making decision for us.  We also probably aren't going to visit too many cities on our vacations in the future.  Maybe Rome, maybe New York.  that is about it.  Wide open space and blue skies for our family.

Where are you going this summer?

Juan de Fuca Trail:
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation: Negligible
Miles hiked in 2012: 35
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 104

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I could use a little help.  I have just built the brand new website for out Calgary based Boy Scouts of America troop.  However, I am learning what it takes to get the site to actually show up on Google.  Would you mind ... for a day or so ... putting a link to the site on your blog.  Just a day or two?

I'll come visit and click through ... I promise!

The website is ...


Friday, July 6, 2012

Would You Move?

Apparently, more and more people in the US are saying they won't.

We have moved 11 times in close to 17 years of marriage.  All have been work related and all have been with just two companies.  It is expected that you will move at least once in your career.  Performance reviews make it very clear that an unwillingness to move will negatively impact your upward mobility.

As a disclaimer, I will also note that all of the moves had a stable job at the end and all were paid for by the corporation.  In the last 17 years, I have not packed or lifted a box.  All I have done is make plane and hotel reservations.

From The Economist

That make economists fret: a nation of stick-in-the-muds could face disappointing productivity growth and more stubborn unemployment than it is used to.

On the other hand, I have only moved state to state once.  I have been more likely to move country to country.  I think it is good for my kids - they are pretty tough and adaptable.  It is good for my husband - he is rapidly moving up in the company.  It is good for me - I get bored staying in one place too long.

We said "no" once.  We didn't want to move to Angola.  Actually, we wanted to move to Angola, but we didn't want to expose the boys to the constant malaria medication.  We gave up a lot of money, but some things are not worth it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Not Just Hiking - June 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline l'Engle
For Shelf Discovery - The joy of A Wrinkle in Time!  I was crying by the end, tears of joy.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  Love is what will defeat evil.  So many comparisons between Meg and Lucy Pevensie

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
For Shelf Discovery - You know, I have never been a big fan of Dahl.  Still not.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
My childhood favorite still holds its own.  I remember why I loved this book ... it just made me believe that everything was going to be o.k.  I didn't get a ton of practical advice on being a girl from my mom, and Judy Blume and her characters filled the void.

Mason's Retreat by Christopher Tilghman
I don't even remember who recommended this to me.  Which is too bad, because I will take their recommendations with a grain of salt from now on.  It wasn't bad, but I know there are so many better books on my list.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
Brilliant.  The man and the book were equally compelling.  Self made outdoorsman.  Devoted family man.  Honorable Police Commissioner.  Governor. Hero of the Battle of San Juan Hill. Vice-President. Never took a bribe.  And that is just in the first volume of three.  What I am beginning to understand is that what made him great came from inside.  Who knew anyone disliked Jefferson?

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
For Shelf Discovery

I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier
For Shelf Discovery
Spectacular.  And, yet again, I am angry with the local and school librarians from my hometown for not pointing me in the direction of these great works.  I will be giving this to my son.

Book in June: 7

Books in 2012: 47

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Off Again

This vacation has existed in so many iterations that even I am not exactly sure where we will end up.  We are heading West tomorrow.  Photos and comments when I return.  I'm taking Shelf Discovery, Jacob Have I Loved and the 2nd TR book with me.  I'm looking for something to listen to in the car that EVERYONE will enjoy.  Maybe A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bryson?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Own Fault

I did it to myself ... I was so focused on making sure that my book club had good solid books to read this year ...

Sisters Brothers
The Night Circus
The Age of Innocence
Let's Pretend This Never Happened

... that I promoted a list that includes 4 books I have already read.

At least everyone else will have great books to read this year!

And I will have lots and lots of time to read the books I am sure I will not get to this summer.

Final Book club list for 2012-2013:
The Dovekeepers by Hoffman
The Sisters Brothers by DeWitt
The Power of One by Courtenay
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Lawson
Devil in the White City by Larson
Night Circus by Morgenstern
The Paris Wife by McClain
Age of Innocence by Wharton
The Painter From Shanghai by Epstein
Hare with the Amber Eyes by DeWaal

So I think we will start strong and end with a whimper. From what I have learned about the personalities and what I have already read, the first six books will be wonderful.  The next two have potential and the last two will be bad.  D suggested The Painter and I have never liked one of her suggestions.  Anything she likes, I don't.  I like her, but we have the most divergent tastes of any two people in the group.  The last one I have already read and didn't like the first time around.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lake Minnewanka

Saturday was a good day for firsts.

First 10-miler of the year.
First whitetail.
First rainy hike.
First "gourmet" trail food.
First time with my new hiking poles.

Heck, I'll come out and say it.  Saturday was just a good day.

Despite the fact that snow has been gone in Calgary for weeks, the mountain areas where we really want to hike this summer are still mostly snow-bound.  There was record snowfall this winter, and it just hasn't melted yet.  This has forced us to begin our hiking at some lower elevations.  

Lake Minnewanka is Banff National Park's signature lake.  We could have paid $130 for the boat ride.  No thank you.  We chose to hike it instead.  Five out and five back.  A little long for this early in the season, but the trail was pretty flat.  

We started early before the crowds.  We always start early.  We like to be the first or second group on the trail and usually by the time we are heading home, the late-risers are coming out in force.  We saw two people on the outbound trek and about 25 on the inbound trek.  We also ran into her ...

She was so beautiful and sweet.  She stayed right there despite the noise and disruption.  I was over-joyed.  She might have been a better surprise than the first moose.  I've seen many deer, but not like this.  

We stopped for lunch here.  Right on those rocks as the clouds rolled in and it started to sprinkle.  Hey, but we are scouts ... be prepared.  We just pulled out our rain pants and our jackets and ate in the drizzle.  It looked ominous, but I am happy to report that we just got the edge of the storm.  If we had been on the other side of the lake, we would have been soaked.

Lunch made me a hero.  I usually pack a sandwich or a peanut-butter bagel.  Not today.  I was better prepared and finally tried one of the recipes from Backpacker magazine.  Sitting on the shores of Lake Minnewanka, we dined on my version of Quinoa Taco Salad.  Now I have raised the bar ... what will I make next time?

By the end of the day, with tired feet, the sun came out just in time for this shot as we headed back to the car.

Distance: 10 miles
Elevation: 200 feet
Miles hiked in 2012: 29
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 98


I admit it, I am a National Park Junkie.  So these photos from Wired Science amazed me.

The above photo is of Death Valley National Park.  It is my favorite photo of the bunch, but my memories of driving through it as a child are not as beautiful.

This second photo is very near to my heart.  It is of my most favorite place in the entire world ... Glacier National Park.

In the upper left corner is Grinnell Glacier (the biggest of the glaciers in this photo).  I have hiked there twice.  The left side of the ridge the glacier rests against is the Highline Trail, which my family will be hiking in September.  Look at the photo ... you can see the path the glacier took as it receded.  The NASA website provides a great explanation.  But I knew it in a moment.  When you love a place so much, it just sticks with you.

If you haven't been and you want to take you family ... go soon.  The glaciers will be gone in 15 years.  I would still go back without the glaciers.  This place is heaven to me. Go. Go Go.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not Just Hiking - May 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf by James Dodson
My dad grew up on these guys.  I grew up on the ones that came right after ... Arnie and Jack.  If you like golf as much as I do, you will enjoy this book.  If you just like a good sports story than this might be it.  Dodson can definitely write one.

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan
I love Rick Riordan.  This series was not a good as the Percy Jackson series, but I still enjoyed it. Want to know why I really love these books ... my kids and I talk about them.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll
I may know one or two people who work for this company, and I was interested to see how poorly Coll portrayed Exxon.  Yet, I was surprised by how fair and balanced he was.  But, let me tell you, he nailed the culture.  Strict, competitive, no room for mistakes.  Yep.  ExxonMobil is always right.  Always.  Even when they aren't, they are.  And a good bit of advice if you ever want to do business with the company ... be prepared (kind of like the Boys Scouts but on steroids).  I have seen it myself.  If you bring one person to a meeting, Exxon will bring three.  If you bring three, the will have nine.  I enjoyed it because of the connection I have to the company and because I actually know one or two people in the book.  But I can't say this one is a page turner.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My mother-in-law handed me this book just before I left Houston.  Easy airplane read and a break from the Exxon book.

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton
Bleh.  Awfully boring book club read.

Book in May: 5
Books in 2012: 40

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Biblioracle Has Spoken

I was going to take it easy this summer. Now that the Biblioracle has spoken and I have joined Girl Detective's summer reading group and I have been doing some research to help pick book club choices for next year, my reading list has exploded ...

Shelf Discovery - Girl Detective
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - Biblioracle Recommendation
Everything Matters!! - Biblioracle Recommendation to someone else
Stoner - Biblioracle Recommendation to someone else
Journey to the End of the Night - Biblioracle Recommendation to someone else
One Shot at Forever - ???
Danny, the Champion of the World - Girl Detective
Tiger Eyes - Girl Detective
I am the Cheese - Girl Detective
Jacob Have I Loved - Girl Detective
Black Swan Green - Biblioracle Recommendation to someone else
Devil in the White City - recommended by my golf partner
Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk - Biblioracle Recommendation to someone else

What do you want to read this summer?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring Hiking

I have been lazy ... but as we are gearing up for some great hiking and backpacking this summer (thank goodness I have my Kindle - my husband made me take the cover off however, because it was too heavy) I thought I would update the hiking part of this site.

March 31 - Bozeman, Montana
"The Big M"

Distance:1.6 miles
Elevation: 850 feet
Miles hiked in 2012: 5.6
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 74.6

April 8 - Jumpingpound Loop
We may have gotten a little ahead of ourselves ... this was muddy and a tough slog.  But, as we like to say, a bad day hiking is better than a good day playing video games.

Distance: 5 miles
Elevation: negligible
Miles hike in 2012: 10.6
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 79.6

April 17-18 - Wheeler Hut
We did this one on snowshoes for an overnight Scout trip.  Watch for many more snowshoe treks next winter.  

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: negligible
Miles hike in 2012: 13.6
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 83

May 12 - Baldy Pass
We had a longer and more scenic route in mind, but when I heard the ranger say "avalanche danger" I chose this one instead.  There was still plenty of snow on the shady, upper part of the trail but it was a good day with a trip to our favorite ice cream shop as a reward.  

Distance: 5 miles
Elevation: 1800 feet
Miles hike in 2012: 19
Miles hiked since arrival in Canada: 88

Summer Reading

I have many, many books on hold at the library.  But I decided to participate (when I am home) in Girl Detective's Shelf Discovery Summer.  I was surprised, considering that I never stopped reading as a kid, how many of these I haven't read.  I really like these people, so come and hang out with us this summer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Snow in May

That is just wrong.  So I am getting on a plane and going back to Texas.

One of course did not really lead to the other, but it worked for this post.

I am going to eat Mexican food and bar-b-q.  I am going to shop.  I am going to hang with my brother.  I am going to see a real baseball game.

I am going to be warm.

See you when I get back.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not Just Hiking - April 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


Physics on the Fringe by Margaret Wertheim

Flight to Heaven by Dale Black
We have a passion for flying stories in this family. My husband liked this book so much that he bought 35 copies just so he could give them away.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Surprised how seeing the movie first - for many of my book club friends - caused them to read things in the book that just. weren't. there.

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
I should have taken more science classes in college. Maybe then I would have understood this book better. What I did understand, I quite liked.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I enjoyed parts of this book. When she was writing about being on the trail I could see what she saw and was able to understand her experiences. However, I found her too casual approach to her drug use and sexual behavior (and the lack of remorse or regret) too distracting from the story.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A roller coaster of a book.  Michelle Duggar should read this.  Absolutely breathtaking and amazing.

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
Disappointing, but I think I expected too much from a biography of a dog.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff
One of the best books I have read this year.  I loved each and every one of the characters for their fragile beauty and their resilience in the face of their damage.  So far ... my vote for next year's Tournament of Books.  I'd read more of Groff's work.  I was definitely worth the $3.00 in fines I racked up because I refused to take it back to the library until I read it.  I was not going to wait 99 more times.

Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Two great books in a row and this one is the funniest book I have ever read.  But I am not recommending it to everyone.  Don't like vampire zombies ... not for you.  Have issues with profanity ... also not for you.  Think buying a 6 foot metal chicken because your husband told you not to by towels is a great idea ...  this should be on your list.  First on your list.   I have read the chapter on the metal chicken (on her blog and in her book) about 20 times and I still laugh EVERY time I read it. Our loud.  Pee my pants.  Having a bad day ... turn to Jenny. Just a chapter will help. Not only will you laugh, but you will realize that it isn't as bad as you thought it was. You don't have pugs rising from the dead in YOUR backyard. Do you?

City Slickers
"If hate were people, I'd be China."

Book in April: 9
Books in 2012: 35

Looking forward to ... Monday?

My husband is on a plane on his way home from Jack's funeral. What an emotional roller coaster week it was. I'm on my way to take the dog to the kennel because this weekend we are hanging with the Boy Scouts on a campout in the snow. Monday we all (including the dog) will be home together. Can't wait.

Has anyone else noticed that blogging - in general - falls off in the Spring and Summer? Too busy to write.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good-bye, Dear Friend

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Gillespie Magee

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where I Am

This might seem depressing, but I am OK. I really am.

We are still in Canada. Husband still has a job. Nice man from corporate intervened and made things livable. We are still considering other options, but the urgency is not there.

But my heart is bruised. I believe in people. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I see the good before the bad. I have lost some of that. I have lost a lot of that. Even worse, my husband, who is a better person than I am, has lost it too.

We also learned that one of our very dearest friends is in the final stages of terminal cancer. Jack was the father figure my husband turned to after his father died. And now I am watching the man I love go through that pain all over again. And Jack is so far away. I can't comfort him or his family. I can't even comfort my husband. This loss will be too great.

So I am cocooning. I am working on some projects at home. I am cleaning out some physical and mental cobwebs. I am reading a little, but not much interests me. Who knows what I will want to write about here.

I am waiting for Spring and hoping that it brings more than its usual touch of promise this year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Such Promise

A few weeks ago I read what I thought was a glowing review of Margaret Wertheim's Physics on the Fringe. I was hooked.

We honor them because science is only a small part of human capability. We gain knowledge of our place in the universe not only from science but also from history, art, and literature. Science is a creative interaction of observation with imagination. “Physics at the Fringe” is what happens when imagination loses touch with observation.

The review had hooked me and I was sure that reading Wertheim's book would reel me into a world of dissident scientists who use what the see and know to explain the world around them. I was sure to be entertained and fascinated by the lives of these "noble" men searching for a truth they could understand.

Turns out, however, that what I was attracted to was Freeman Dyson's writing. His review is ten times better than what Wertheim produces. His writing is beautiful and powerful and finds a connection between science and art. I thought Werthiem's book was slow and plodding and boring. She managed to take a highly imaginative and interesting human and bore me to sleep with his life. Shame. There was such promise.

A note about reading. I am waiting. Waiting for the book that grabs me and holds me and rewards me for my efforts. I am looking for The Sisters Brothers or The Night Circus of 2012. I am looking for the book that keeps me engaged and entertained until the end. Actually, after close to 25 books this year, I am praying for that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Woo Hoo

O.K. so Kansas didn't win the NCAA tournament. But, wow, watching that Kentucky basketball team was like watching a ballet. It was beautiful (and I don't even like basketball).

I did, however, rock one bracket! The Sisters Brothers won the Tournament of Books. And it beat Open City which I didn't like. I agree with Amy that it made me feel stupid. And I find Teju Cole to be a bit self-righteous.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not Just Hiking - March 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
This book just made me angry. Early on, I found it familiar ... almost too much so. It seemed like all of the themes that she covered had already been done so in other books. However, I began to find myself attached to the characters and I began to think they were worth investing my time in. They were intriguing and unique. By the end, I was frustrated and angry. I don't always need closure in a book. I am fine with stories that leave you hanging. What I don't like are stories that leave you hanging with no apparent reason other than it means more and more people will talk about the book. I think she probably wrote this in this manner so that people would talk about it. If anyone asks me, I'll talk about it just enough to say, "Don't waste your time." This is the 8th of the Tournament of Books choices that I have read. So far I have liked two, tolerated three, and actively dis-liked three. Trying to decide if I should read the one I just picked up from the library.

The Last Station by Jay Parini
I did not enjoy this novel about Leo Tolstoy's final year at all. Not a single likable character in the bunch. I would have quit in the middle if this hadn't been a book club choice.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I think this, quite simply, is a true measure of what we would do for our children. I am not really a fan of Cormac McCarthy's, but I think he is quite talented. I've also read No Country For Old Men and, while both his books were good, I would not want to see either of the movies. The violence and despair in my head is gruesome enough.

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
I finished this just before it was up against 1Q84 in the Tournament of Books and it makes the 9th of 16 that I have completed. I had determined that I wasn't going to read another of the ToB choices but Amy's review made it a necessity. To quote her, "It's a gut-wrenching story, packing an immense wallop in a short space." I still think The Sisters Brothers is the best of the 16, but I would put this in second.

Open City by Teju Cole
I finished it for two reasons: (1) it won its round of the TOB and (2) the consensus was that I had to for it to count in my yearly totals. This is, however, one of the only books I read that gives you the exact same feeling in the middle and at the end. Yeah, yeah, something finally "happens" at the end, but it makes absolutely no difference to me. I guess I like books where "things" happen. It is the 10th of the TOB books I have finished. And I am not reading any more of them.

Twelfth Night by Shakespeare
Three months in and three Shakespeare plays. We were supposed to watch a performance by a traveling theatre troupe but the theatre lost all power and water the day of the show. Still, this play was good fun.

Quiet by Susan Cain
I found this book by Susan Cain to be informative and thought-provoking. However, in all the discussion of introverts and extroverts, I couldn't find myself. Where are those who fall squarely in the middle? I like a good party as much as my extrovert friends and I am happy to stay home on the odd weekend and recharge and read a book when my kids are out camping. I found myself somewhere in the middle of her two worlds. It seemed to me that she classifies people as one thing or the other with no thought of scale. I wonder where that research is on people who can quite easily fit into and straddle both worlds.


This award winning Scorsese flick was a reward to the boys. It deserved the awards and I loved it. This is what a movie for kids should look like.

King Lear
This is the first time I have liked reading a Shakespeare play better than watching it. Even with the great Ian McKellen, it seemed to drag.

The Hunger Games
Loved it. As good as the book, if not better. Two words. Woody Harrelson.

Books in March: 7
Books in 2012: 26

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sharing is Good 2

The writing in this article about an intersection between science and art is beautiful.

I didn't know I liked Rahm Emanual so much. Maybe I just like Chicago so much?

The Sisters Brothers wins round two. Maybe, just maybe it can go All. The. Way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I'm currently reading Open City by Teju Cole. And I like it. It isn't the best book I have ever read, but it is not bad. Not bad at all. I am about 3/4 of the way through and nothing is compelling me to finish. I don't need to find out "what happens." I don't need to know where everyone goes. I am happy with the book as is.

Should I finish it?

I never would have asked this question before I read the article I link to above.

I think it is perfectly acceptable to toss away books that you don't like. The Help being one of the best examples in recent memory. I don't care how many people liked it. I refused ... flat out refused to read past page 30. I could not stand it. Close it. Set it aside. Pick up something worthwhile.

Open City has been worthwhile. But I kind of feel I have had enough. Not in a bad way. Just content with what I know about it today.

And if you don't finish it by choice, do you get to put it on your books of the month/year lists?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There are many reasons why I love Wil Wheaton.

This, for one. Who would really do this?

An even better reason is because he picked my favorite book of the tournament to advance today. I knew he had good taste.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspired Cake

I was inspired by Girl Detective's beautiful cake to make this ...

Except I used a mix and pre-made frosting. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Happy Birthday M. You bring joy into my life every single day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bleak House

As mentioned earlier, I am participating in my very first read-a-long beginning this month. I will be reading Bleak House by Dickens along with about 40 other bloggers and posting my thoughts on a weekly basis. In the interest of ease, I will keep all of my thoughts on this book in ONE blog post and just update it each week (probably).

Chapters 1-5
I was not looking forward to this, really. I joined because this is one of those books I think I should read. I don't have very many of those should reads any more for two reasons (1) in recent years I have read most of the ones I really thought I should read (2) I don't really care about the should read books any more. I am reading much more because I want to and not because I should. Should is for students and college. Want is for 40+ year old housewives on expat assignments.

With the should running through my head, I picked up my copy of Bleak House. I did it, by the way. I had to go and buy a physical book. I always knew I would have to. Easy throw away books are for the Kindle. Tomes require paper (and a pen and highlighter). Bleak House is definitely a tome.

Now, I am not a huge Dickens fan and have not read as many of his works as I would have liked to. I have only skimmed some of them until I finished Great Expectations last year, and I really enjoyed that one. But to be honest, I wasn't expecting that much from this. I didn't think I would hate it, but I was pretty glad I would only be subjected to about 63 pages a week.

But see, in the last year I had completely forgotten about Dickens' ability to describe something so vividly that you know exactly what he wants you to see. His description of Lord Dedlock for instance:
His family is as old as the hills, and infinitely more respectable. He has a general opinion that the world might get on without hills, but would be done up without Dedlocks....He will never see sixty-five again, nor perhaps sixty-six, not yet sixty-seven. He has a twist of the gout, now and then, and walks a little stiffly. He is of a worthy presence, with his light gray hair and whiskers, his fine shirt-frill, his pure white waistcoat, and his blue coat with bright buttons always buttoned.
I can't fit all of the descriptions into this post of course, it would take up too much room. But who of us that is reading this book can't see the Jellyby's children or picture exactly what Esther looks like (although I can already tell she might get to be a bit annoying). My favorite had to be the description of Krook's shop. I can only hope we are allowed to revisit Krook and his shop again before too long.

Chapters 6-9
Not a lot to say about this weeks reading. More character introductions from Dickens, and I seem to be able to keep them all straight thanks to the slower than normal reading pace. Once I realized that Esther is an "unreliable narrator" I am looking at her character in a different way. I am surprised how much I am enjoying this rather leisurely read-along. Lots of question to be answered ... and lots of despicable women who treat their children poorly. At least Mrs. Pardiggle seems to realize her children are there. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.