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The Last Day of Fall

We had a nice rain last night and when I was walking Penny this morning, my first thought was, “Ah, it’s springtime!” The rain had freshened the air, birds were chirping and bushes were blooming. The lawn maintenance crew was firing up their weedeaters and lawn mowers. It felt just like spring in the Finger Lakes. Oh, wait, check the calendar! It’s the last day of fall in Tallahassee! We haven’t even had winter yet!

flowering bush What is this bush that began blooming in October and is STILL blooming in December?

It is interesting that after spending over twelve years living in the southeast, I still expect it to be cold in the evening when I go outside, no matter what time of year. And that I am still amazed when we have sunny seventy degree days during the winter. But then, that is exactly why I moved south.

Since this is the last day of Fall, that must mean that tomorrow is the first day of Winter and is also David’s birthday! He will be twenty years old! Unbelievable. He was my miracle baby, the one who seemed in a hurry to be born. Or maybe he just wanted his birthday around Halloween instead of Christmas. Either way, he was the reason for a great deal of worry and prayers twenty years ago. (Since his birthday is three days before Christmas, it is obvious that the worry and prayers worked!). Unfortunately, I do not think David has ever been in a hurry since then! He must have gotten it all out of his system before he was even born.

I do not have a current picture of David. This one was taken over a year ago. David

We will be celebrating David’s birthday today with presents and dinner out. Rumor is that dinner will be a Japanese Steak House, if reservations can be made at this late date. The reason for celebrating early is that tomorrow will be a travel day, driving to Atlanta to spent the weekend with my side of the family, who is all congregating at my brother’s house in Douglasville, just west of Atlanta. Sunday afternoon will be a busy, noisy, chaotic mass of people who last saw each other when we were all at the hospital awaiting the outcome of my dad’s by-pass heart surgery. Dad is doing great and we are all looking forward to getting together! I plan to take a lot of pictures!

Freecycled Algae Eater

Yesterday I gave away my Algae Eater. I bought him about two years ago (maybe three?) when I first filled our 30 gallon fish tank. He has been an interesting fish, causing me no end of worry and excitement. Here is an entry about one of his more exciting days: How Long Can You Go …

Unfortunately, he had grown so large that he simply did not have enough room to move around comfortably. Not moving around meant that he was not doing his job, i.e. keeping the tank relatively clean of algae. So, I decided it was time to find him a new home.

Here he is floating in the tank inside a baggie, ready to be transported. I had to empty all the decorations out of the tank in order to capture him. Algae Eater

Where did he go? I gave him away to a Freecycle member who had a 55 gallon tank. I am sure he will be much happier there. And now I need to find a smaller algae eater.

I use Freecycle all the time, both as a Giver and a Taker. The premise behind Freecycle is to keep items out of the landfill. Most items that we no longer want are almost always useful in some way to someone else. So by using Freecycle, we can declutter our lives, acquire those things we do need, and feel great that we are recycling, all at the same time! It’s a win, win!

Most areas have local Freecycle groups already in place. You can search for your local group on The Freecycle Network website. And if there is not a group already in place, then start one yourself!

Four Book Reviews

I have finished several books and neglected to post reviews about any of them. So here are some short reviews of what I have been reading lately.

Flying Crows, by Jim Lehrer

Did you know that Jim Lehrer, the PBS News Hour anchorman, is also a fiction author? I didn’t, so I was surprised to learn that Lehrer has written over a dozen fiction books. Flying Crows concerns two mentally ill men who are inmates in a mental institution in the 1930s and a present-day cop trying to unravel their interwoven stories. Lehrer writes good dialogue and has a real feel for the mid-west, particularly Kansas City. Flying Crows was a quick and enjoyable read, although not necessarily mind-altering or deeply memorable. I would definitely read another of Lehrer’s novels if it were to drop in my lap, but I likely will not go out of my way to find another one.

Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey

I used to say that I did not care for fantasy and I still do not care to read about non-human characters or worlds that do not resemble our own. Kushiel’s Dart is fantasy, with human characters and a setting that is almost, but not quite, European. Kushiel’s Legacy is an epic trilogy (think Tolkein), that revolves around the trials and tribulations of its heroine, Phedre no Delaunay. Carey weaves a masterful plot in Kushiel’s Dart, creating memorable characters and provides plenty of good dialogue and rousing action. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and could not wait for book two, Kushiel’s Chosen, to become available used, so I went out and bought myself an early Christmas gift.

Word of caution: Kushiel’s world revolves around a religion that has one simple rule: Love as thou wilt. With that rule, you can expect some very adult sexual themes to occur throughout the book. While Carey does not become explicit when dealing with these sexual themes, the reader has a very good idea of what is occurring, and it is not your usual “vanilla” situations. So if a book with a non-Christian religious theme and sexual topics bothers you, you might wish to skip this series.

On Becoming Fearless in Love, Work, and Life, by Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is an author, political commentator and owner of the Huffington Post, a very popular blog. I first became aware of Huffington when she ran for governor in California several years ago, but had never read any of her books. Huffington wrote this book for her daughters when she realized that they were being negatively affected by societal messages. Those messages, from media, from well-meaning friends and relatives, and even from ourselves, often cause women to live their lives fearfully, cautiously, slowly losing confidence in themselves and their abilities. Huffington relates stories and anecdotes about her life and other women’s lives, showing by example ways to become fearless. I am not sure what I expected, certainly something more than inspirational anecdotes, some concrete exercises or actions to take, but there were none of those. Overall, while the messages were inspirational, I did not really feel that my time was well spent reading On Becoming Fearless.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman wrote one of the weekly “rah-rah” letters for this year’s NaNo participants, reassuring us that we could reach our 50K writing goal. Not ever having read any of his works, I took a chance and requested one of his more popular titles from PaperbackSwap. I will say one thing for Gaiman, he created some memorable characters in American Gods, ones I am not likely to forget right away. The plot, too, was memorable, although I did figure out two major plot twists about two-thirds of the way through the book, which disappointed me. While it was difficult to put down American Gods until I finished it, at the end I was left with that familiar post-Christmas “is-that-all-there-is” feeling of disappointment. And a vague wondering “what was the point?” of reading this book. I think I will reserve judgement on Gaiman until I read another of his books … if I read another one. There are just too many authors out there that I wholeheartedly enjoy to read more by an author that I was so-so about.

I know I said there would be four book reviews, but I thought I would throw in a bonus and add the book that I am currently reading.

Iguana Love, by Vicki Hendricks

I have not finished Iguana Love yet, but already I can see that I will not be recommending it to anyone. It is not a genre I usually read (Amazon lists it as a “Mystery & Thriller), but that really is not the problem. The characters just are not engaging me in any way. I am about half way through and I really could not care less what happens to anyone in the book, let alone wonder how it will end. I need a book with memorable characters, either those you love or those you love to hate. This has neither. What does it have? Ramona, who lives in southern Florida and who kicks out her husband because she is bored with her life. She goes deep into debt in order to take diving lessons. She has sex (and it does get explicit) with any breathing male that appears before her, or for that matter, behind her! Of course, she does not like the nice guy but goes for the dark, seedy guy who seems ready to involve her in drug running. I will finish the book, but only because it is a short book and I would like to see if it improves, even just a tiny bit. Given my current feelings, though, I doubt I will read another book by Hendricks.

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