Happy Day of Thanks

I’ve been making pie!

This is Cranberry Pear and it’s a mini-pie.  I have these delightful smaller pie dishes made of pottery from Southeast Nebraska.   I would love to have more…

I made a Cranberry Pecan that I didn’t photo and I really wanted to make a Mock Cherry Pie which is apparently a New England pie from waaaaaay back:  it’s cranberries and raisins and I’m told it LOOKS like cherry but doesn’t taste like cherry.    I’ll attempt that some other time.  I ran out of steam and the Hub needed the oven.

Of course, I made Pumpkin Pie.   I used my other pottery pieces just for pie.   The bigger one is not quite a true 9″ pie plate size but it’s so pretty…    Both of these are same filling but I made about 4 different crust attempts of various ingredients.   The one with butter ALWAYS rolls better…

I use my Grandmother’s recipe for my pumpkin filling and it’s cryptic to say the least!    I have since added reminders to myself of what things mean and that I need to use a partially baked pie shell.     This recipe has a secret ingredient…    This makes me feel like Grandma and I are in on something special.    And when we are away from family which we often are, it is nice to continue a family tradition.

I prepared a few Cranberry Pears for the neighbors, as well as a Pecan Pie and a Strawberry.     I have 4 more yet to make for neighbors but they’ll have to be regular ‘Holiday’ Pies since I didn’t get them all done before today…

Happy Thanksgiving!


Midnight Cowboy Part 1

Thoughts    Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy, Simon&Schuster 1965, 254 pages  [Part 2 will be my thoughts on the movie, but it may be awhile before I rent it.]

FIRST SENTENCE:    “In his new boots, Joe Buck was six-foot-one and life was different.”

MOTIVATION FOR READING:    Blame this on the LitFlicks Challenge.    I am combining my wish to see all the Oscar Best Picture Award Winners* by reading the books first then renting from Netflix.     I had ZERO.ZILCH idea what this book/film was about but had an inkling that Jon Voight was in it.    That’s it.    Before my time.    I didn’t even realize that Dustin Hoffman was in it!

Once I started reading, I kept imagining this guy for the main character:     If you watch football, you will recognize Joe Buck, Football Sportscaster.   

I’m sure he’d be thrilled (read with sarcasm) but not the first time he’s had to put up with a comparison.

The Joe Buck in this book is extremely naive.   and dumb.

I’m not going to tell you in this mostly spoiler-free review what this book contains but it may offend some sensibilities.      And.., I’m always amazed that books and movies that are almost half a century old were so shocking!  and yet still critically appraised.   Don’t we often assume that the old days were safe and unoffensive, at least in the mainstream?

I really liked the set up of this novel.   We are first introduced to Joe as he decides to head to NYC to chase his destiny.      I love the “H tel” in this explanation;  he refers to it often in the opening section.

When he arrived at the H tel, a hotel that not only had no name but had lost its O as well, he felt the absurdity of anyone so rich and hard and juicy as himself ever staying in such a no name, no-account place.

Then we skip back in time to how Joe grew up and what happened to him before he decides to take that bus to the big city.

At a certain point, which happened to be on the day of an exceptionally still and white sky, he was delivered to a fourth blonde in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and from then on and forever he was never to see the other three again.  When he would think of them, he would think also of that special white sky and imagine those yellow-haired women to be hiding somewhere behind it.

And then, well.     Surviving the cold streets of NYC is not pretty.

I enjoyed Herlihy’s descriptive style and creativity.     I was very curious about the characters and totally convinced on the moods, settings, crazyiness!   For example, we meet the lady who owned a whorehouse in Houston:

Squatting Buddha-like on the center cushion of a couch on the far side of the room was a small, middle-aged hag in a red satin kimono.  Her enormous watery eyes were pale blue, rimmed with feverish red and sleepless black.  These eyes seemed a monstrous liability to the rest of her organism:    rapacious, incessantly active, they seemed not to belong to any small woman, but to some great nightmare foe.  Across her mouth was a quick deadly slash of purple paint, and jutting from it a cigarette butt with a hot red coal on the end of it.

And here’s a teaser of what Joe hopes to accomplish in New York City;  it’s a scene he can’t get out of his head as he prepares to leave Houston:

A long white convertible was stopped for a red light.  The woman in the driver’s seat was looking at a tall, handsome young man in Western clothes standing at the curb.  Her motor died under her.  But she kept on looking at the young man.  After a moment she said, “I can’t get it started without help.”  And the young man said, “I’ll bet you can’t, honey.”

I liked this book and it was definitely not my usual reading fare.   Having looked up what epicine means, I must say it applies not only to our hero but to the entire story as well.      FOUR PIE SLICES

epicene – (p77) – bisexual: having an ambiguous sexual identity

Midnight Cowboy WON the 1970 Academy Award OSCAR for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and was nominated for Best Actors (Hoffman and Voight), Best Supporting Actress Sylvia Myles (who?) and Best Film Editing.

The lovely Jessica of The Bluestocking Society has hosted a Lit Flicks Challenge in the past;  I LOVE the book to movie concept!   So if she hosts another one, I’m IN.

Off to Wrap Holiday Gifts and Unplug

I was remiss to blab about this at that time when you were supposed to sign up for the book blogger HOLIDAY SWAP.     oops.    Did you?  Sign up?   Well, I just got back from shopping and I purchased a book which I can’t tell you about because you might be my Secret Santee.

I bought myself one, too.   So when it arrives and you post about it, then we can do a read-along together!  Won’t that be swell?

I also bought Simon Van Booy’s Love Begins in Winter because Nancy the BookFool told me to.      I looked for a few other books but couldnt’ find them.    Which is probably a good thing.  (Maybe my husband called the store and told them not to sell them to me so I wouldn’t spend the money?)

NOW.  The next thing you need to know about if you don’t know about it already is Beth Fish’s idea to unplug and be proud of it! She has an excellent post explaining it, but in the meantime, just know that if the following button is displayed on my blog, then you know you’ll  see read? me sometime later.     That I really am trying to stop checking Twitter all the time!

That said, do check the Women Unbound Challenge for a Guest Post on Women in the Bible!     Clicking on the button will take you right there…   Post is scheduled for Monday, November 23.

Happy Let’s-Be-Grateful Week!

Weekly Geeks 2009-43 Best Books This Year

[Yippee!  I’m avoiding review-writing by finding something else worthy of posting about!   Since this is Saturday, we have a Weekly Geeks to shine the spotlight on.     I also want to give a shout-out to Melissa the Book Nut for celebrating her FIVE years blogging about books.   (visit her and enter her giveaway!)]

Now, on the to Geekiness.    Jackie of Literary Escapism is organizing the official Book Bloggers Best Books of 2009.      She also has a lovely tribute to the legacy of Dewey;  this time of year is bittersweet when thinking about our friend Dewey – may we continue to celebrate all that she started and all that we have embraced in sharing our love for reading.

Click this line to get to this week’s Weekly Geeks and Jackie’s explanation of gathering best books for a big vote…

In order to help with this task, I must see if I even read any books published this year.    So I hereby present that list in order of my favorites listed first:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett  *****

The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash ****

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart ****

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel ****

One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald ****

False Witness by Anita Rodgers ***

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith ***


Jackie also wanted GENREs and I’m not good at this nor do I even know how to look this up!

The Help – contemporary fiction?  or historical fiction!?  – women’s issues?
True Genius – Contemporary fiction and/or family dynamics
Nothing But Ghosts – YA, grief
Last Night in Montreal – Contemporary fiction
One True Theory –  Contemporary fiction / chick lit?
False Witness – mystery
P&P&Z – steampunk, Austen-spinoff


Now for those books that I have in house but haven’t read yet but I see on a lot of lists for BEST?

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett

P.S.  I’m actually impressed that I’ve read so many.   Considering how many books I have toppling in Mt.TBR, seven books is quite an accomplishment.

Question(s) for my readers:    If you have read The Help, do you agree that it is worthy of mention in a Best of the Year list?
Do you have a different book you hope to see on such a list?

Books in My Future

I thought I would quickly list off the books I know I want to read in the next few months;  some to finish challenges and some to start new challenges.   This list is more for me to help me get organized – my book to-do list.

Dewey’s Reading Challenge
John Green’s Abundance of Katherines – have but loaned to my next door neighbor
John Green’s Paper Towns – need
The Virgin Blue / Tracy Chevalier – have in house
The Sea – John Banville – need

Science Challenge
I wanted to read a book about bees and have narrowed it to A Spring Without Bees:  How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply by Michael Schacker and Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobsen,   I’m hoping the library can find these.  I have yet to search.

I should finish my Einstein book, too.

Books I just want to read now ‘cuz’: The Mandarin and Other Stories by Eca De Queiroz (thanks Nymeth!) and Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (thanks KB!)

Now, for upcoming commitments, I have officially and unofficially decided to read The Hobbit, Mrs. Dalloway and just maybe Moby Dick.   Of these, only MB is in the house.     I believe I said yes in Twitter to the Really Old Classics but honestly, I’m just a wimp.   But the book IS in my goodreads – unfortunately, I will have to order it.     The library, yes – even the I.L.L. – does not show it in the system: Two Zen Classics: The Gateless Gate and The Blue Cliff Records by Sekida, Katsuki.

Anyone care to talk me into any other challenges?     The Historical Fiction one, perhaps?     I could read Moby Dick for that, right?

John Cusack Reading Challenge

***** UPdated in 2011 to make this a perpetual challenge! I have created a PAGE (see banner header, far right) and sign up if interested in joining along. *****************************************************************************************


I believe it was a Twitter Tweet that announced that Oprah Magazine had an article listing books that influenced John Cusack .    Come to find out that I had only read ONE of these books!    [Guess which one?   To Kill a Mockingbird.]

I have had a crush on John Cusack since the movie Say Anything 1989.     We are about the same age, so I have always assumed that he and I would have been friends if we had gone to the same high school.   He’s that smart guy who doesn’t run for class officer but hangs at the fringes and knows everyone but you can’t tell what clique he belongs to.    He’s too cool to be one of the popular kids.    Too edgy to be in the smart college prep group.    (I was a college prep geek.  I think.)

After reading this article, I am assuming that if he and I bump into each other at a party, I wouldn’t be able to talk books with him unless it was TKAM.     And that would be a shame.

I’m personally challenging myself to read the other seven books sometime in 2010.   Join me?   no prizes, no rules, no Mr. Linky, extremely informal.

Until I get this list read, I’ll have to avoid going to any Hollywood parties, I guess.   (Though, come to think of it, he doesn’t seem to be the Hollywood party type, does he?)

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72
By Hunter S. Thompson

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

Chronicles: Volume One
By Bob Dylan

The Great Thoughts
Compiled by George Seldes

The Shock Doctrine
By Naomi Klein

Franny and Zooey
By J.D. Salinger

Tropic of Cancer
By Henry Miller

Rites of Spring
By Modris Eksteins


Thank you to the Novel Challenge Blog for listing this challenge and thus making it ‘official’!

Re-Reading is dejavu all over again

[Updated :    FLASHBACK CHALLENGE website is HERE!! 🙂     Buttons maybe sometime later.  ]

I’m challenging myself in 2010 to re-read a few books.

I never re-read books!

So.   Since Jenny seemed so upset to hear this, I decided I needed to try this strange experience with more study.  Besides, somebody somewhere said to really read a book, it must be in the second or third time.     (I’ll go look up that quote – I’m butchering it, I’m sure.   I think it was Nabokov.)

Here’s my list:

Mrs. Dalloway / Virginia Woolf

Wind, Sand and Stars – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (my review of reading it the first time)

Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret / Judy Blume

Jane Eyre – because I feel like I’m lying when I say I’ve read this but surely.  Surely!  I did read this already, right?   maybe not.   I can’t really remember.    I know I know the story, so let’s see if I can get through a ‘read’.

and… after finding out about a LOTR challenge, I’m considering diving into The Hobbit.


“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader. And I shall tell you why. When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation. When we look at a painting we do not have to move our eyes in a special way even if, as in a book, the picture contains elements of depth and development. The element of time does not really enter in a first contact with a painting. In reading a book, we must have time to acquaint ourselves with it. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to a painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or fourth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do towards a painting.”

-Nabokov’s Lecture on Literature

and another quote for you entertainment:

“Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread. ”
François Mauriac

Yea, I don’t think Frank would bother getting to know me very well.


The official Challenge site offers up a few levels to commit to (My FIVE books fits into the Scholar level) and also suggests re-reading books from various time periods of your life:   childhood (AYTGIMM – first read in 1976 of 1977), high school (Jane Eyre – early 80’s), adulthood (Mrs. Dalloway – 2002 when I was prepping for the full The Hours movie experience).

Menage Prep TRUE CRIME

For the latest Book Menage sponsored by Citizen Reader, we are reading The Restless Sleep and The Borden Tragedy.   Discussion will be starting the week of November 30, 2009.   You still have time to read these!

trsinycccs rgtbtbm

The Geary book on The Borden Tragedy is wonderful.   This is my second time to attempt a graphic novel* and I have come to realize that I read the text and have to remind myself to stop and look at the drawings.    Though not an expert on the story of this crime, I very much remember the very scary movie when I was a child and was so shocked at that song.

“Lizzie Borden took an ax; gave her father 40 wacks…”

How could she do it?   Oh yea, DID SHE?     This book only gives facts and does not quite influence the reader to believe her guilt or her innocence.     I really enjoyed the history and the research that Geary obviously poured into this project.   I especially appreciate seeing the layout of the house – where the rooms are and how the members of the family typically accessed the rooms from which staircase.    But the one thing that stands out the most is how little time passed between the last person (other than Lizzie) to see Dad alive and finding him slaughtered.     To pull it off, she had to be violently quick and yet so carefully composed.

I live within 40 minutes of Fall River, Mass and I just might have to plan a little road trip to visit the house and cemetery.   Anyone want to come along?   (please?   I don’t want to go by myself…)   Also, must add that Mr Geary spent his childhood in Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas – my ‘home’ town.   I love finding out silly little things like this that are totally unrelated to anything else.


I very much enjoyed the straightforward inquisitive style that Horn uses to present The Restless Sleep.  I really do love nonfiction when we get to see the process from the author’s perspective – how she came to write THIS book and how she small-talked with the people she writes about.   She sets up the book well – right off the bat we are pulled in to the concept and philosophy of death.   Her words grab you by the heart and make you face the idea of dying by violence.    She first invites us to consider each case with only a bit of background and structures each chapter to explore more deeply over the time involved.   We are introduced to the victims of a specific unsolved crime and then we are drawn into more details of the investigation, way back when the case was fresh and how the latest detective attempts to catch the killer.    Very well done, if maybe a bit too factual at times.     I must say I was surprised but shouldn’t have been with the politics and procedures of police organization.   And I was oddly comforted by the statistics;   I’m not likely to be a murder victim in an unsolved case.   But still, just typing that gives me the creeps.

* I have read Persepolis. The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River, Mass., 1892 (Treasury of Victorian Murder (Graphic Novels)), ComicsLit 1997, no page numbers in the book but goodreads.com says 80 pages.

**  The Restless  Sleep:  Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn, the edition I read was a Thorndike Press Large Print 2005, which might explain the 515 pages (567 with appendices)   I couldn’t find an image of the cover from the edition I read, so I took a photo.

Both from the library and need to be returned.  Hope I won’t need to reference when we get to the discussion.

The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming

Thoughts  tvscnscbjn The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming and other lessons I learned from breast cancer by Jennie Nash, Scribner 2001, 153 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:    I’m a fan of Jennie Nash and wanted to read her nonfiction.      I was brainstorming how to spend some of the many points I have in bookmooch and checked to see if could get any more Nash books and sure enough!  this one copy was available.     I didn’t know much more about it other than it was her sharing of her battle with breast cancer;  I assumed it would be an honest and brave account featuring wisdom and humor.

It is.    Honest, brave, endearing, focused, and celebratory.

Four slices of pie  fourpie

Bizzy Day!

Just a quick note to say hello and share an interesting spam comment I got:


Cracks me up – due to my listing of The Yellow Wallpaper for the Women Unbound Challenge!   ah, must have sense of humor….

I’ve got pet therapy, email/internet tutoring, Mac training, and grocery shopping to do today and must. not. waste. time on blogging and twitter!  But I want to write a few reviews and see what everyone is listing for the challenge.    Is anyone else struck by the variety and broad encompassing of issue we consider important as women?    so many and not one more important than another.   Comes down to choice and respect.   Or is it boils UP to choice and respect?

Chat at ya later, Dearies,



I just wanted to post something/anything.     * Bizzy = I abhor the word ‘busy’.    We are all so busy, busy busy busy.   blech. We CHOOSE to do what we choose to do.    no excuses.     or at least that’s what I strive to remember.    🙂