this past week…

September 4-10, 2017


*Annie’s texts about going out for the “woodsmen team”…seriously, I cannot believe she is doing this…and it cracks me up equally as much as it scares me…


*Back to school day on Tuesday went amazing well for Gray and me. By which I mean, he did little complaining, worked hard, and managed to remain in good spirits. *huge thumbs up*


*The bathroom sink fiasco of Labor Day 2017. Poor Rich. Woke to find our bathroom sink leaking. Thought it might be as simple as replacing a gasket…wrong. Three faucets later (the first two were defective), five trips to Home Depot, and approximately one million curse words later, not to mention $100 poorer, Rich had us hooked up with a working, non-leaking sink again.

*Oh my goodness. Poor Gray. Yeah, after the great first day he had, school took a decided turn for the worse with the start of the online course he’s taking on American Government. We thought an online class would be a good way to ease him into college classes. Oh how wrong I was! *sigh* Their initial assignment just about killed the poor kid. They had to do an “icebreaker” assignment, where they each had to write a post about themselves and why they were taking this class. And it had to be at least 500 words. In general autistic people do not do well with small talk, and Gray is no exception. He gets to the point. He spent 7 hours trying to get up to 500 words. And he still has to do four required responses of at least 125 words each to other’s posts. *more sighs* I’m hoping it will get easier for him when they’re actually discussing the course topics…

Favorite photos:

IMG_2404This sweet little eastern phoebe.


Baby cardinal. Aww, what a cute little fluffball.


*Finished A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold. *finally*  These were truly some of the loveliest natural history writings I’ve ever read. I can see why this is one of Rich’s all-time favorite books. (Thank you, homeschooling, for finally getting me to read it.)

*Finished Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall. Started this one earlier in the summer but then had to return it to the library before I’d finished. Was easy to pick up where I’d left off. (It too is for school.) I guess I would say it’s a book about how geography affects international relations. For the most part I enjoyed it, and I definitely learned a lot. But there were moments when the author made me cringe a bit, and moments when I wondered if he wasn’t overstating things. But international relations is not an area where I know much of anything, so it’s hard to judge.

*Started The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell. Also for school. (We’re doing ecology this year.) I’m only about a third of the way in. It’s an enjoyable read; there’s loads of interesting natural history info. The writing, while perfectly adequate, doesn’t enchant me the way some natural history writing does though. (And oh my goodness, is the author fond of metaphor. Sometimes very odd metaphor at that.) But like I said, I am enjoying it overall.


*As far as RIP-reading last week, we finished a reread of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (It was Rich’s and my read aloud together book.) I believe this is the fourth time I’ve read this one (and it’s at least Rich’s fourth time). And I can honestly say, I enjoyed it more this time than ever. Maybe because we were reading it together? I’m sure we’ll probably start The Prisoner of Azkaban this week.

*Also got a few more chapters read in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. This book is so freakin’ good! It’s funny and sad and incredibly informative all at once. And wow, how it’s reinforced my long-held desire to be cremated without a viewing or funeral service.


*The latest episode of Project Runway. I have to agree with who was canned this week–Deyonte’s nightwear was about as frumpy as it could be. As brutal as it must feel to be the one who gets sent home, I’m guessing he must have at least been happy to get to go home in time to see his baby born. I’m so happy that Kenya made it through. She and Samantha are my favorites at this point…though I thoroughly admit that is a likability vote. I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on anyone’s overall talent , so it’s still too early for me to have a true favorite as far as design goes. It’s probably mean for me to say, but omg, do I hope that Claire and Shawn get booted soon…they annoy the bloody crap out of me.


*And for my RIP-viewing, Max and I started rewatching The Walking Dead in preparation for it’s return next month. What can I say, I’m still pretty much obsessed with this show, with these characters. I admit that last season wasn’t my favorite, but rewatching it (for the fourth? time) has me remembering why I love these characters and remembering just how far they’ve come. Max and I had better pick up the pace though; we still have 6 seasons to rewatch before October’s premiere of season 8.

*Rich and I watched The Raven. I’d never even heard of it, but it caught my attention at the library and I grabbed it on impulse. Glad I did! We both really enjoyed it. I’m actually somewhat surprised, as I tend to be leery of putting real people into fictionalized stories. But what can I say, I got thoroughly engrossed into this serial murder mystery with Edgar Allan Poe at it’s center.



*Hexies, hexies, hexies. Still crocheting hexies. While they are the perfect mindless project for tv watching, I will still be happy when I get them all made and can begin the next phase. Hopefully this coming week. Hopefully.



*Gotta admit that the dinner table lacked excitement during this first week back-to-school. Just simple stuff like grilled cheese and salsa pasta. But Saturday, Rich whipped up his first batch of chili for the season, and I was in heaven!


*And Sunday afternoon, I finally decided to show the kitchen a little love and tried out a new recipe. Chai-spiced pound cake from the King Arthur Flour website. Easy recipe and delicious results.



around here…that early fall feeling…

Yeah, it’s not technically fall. But I think most of us have our own personal definitions of when a new season begins. For me, as I’m sure for many others, fall begins with back to school. And this year the weather is backing me up. My goodness, has the weather been delightful here. Frankly, with all the pain and suffering being experienced by so many because of the weather, it’s quite unfair how glorious our weather has been.

I love all the seasons. Truly. While winter may edge the others for top spot, autumn holds so many special treasures. Not the least of which is its colors and textures. Yes autumn, you are spectacularly beautiful. If only I were a better photographer and could do your beauty justice. But for me, taking pictures isn’t really about the end result. It is more about the doing, the paying attention. Now obviously one doesn’t need a camera in their hands to pay attention, but I admit it helps me.



Seriously life, can we just settle down for a bit. I meant to officially join RIP back on September 1st, but I tell you, the shit just keeps a coming. I’ve never been so glad for it to be back-to-school day. I’ve decided (because simply deciding will make it so, you know), that this back-to-school marks the start of a string of good luck to replace the string of crises we’ve been dealing with–starting with two unexpected major financial hits, moving on to having my beloved mother-in-law admitted to the ICU in the hospital and being diagnosed at the age of 82 with type 1 diabetes, and to end this long weekend of shit, finding our bathroom sink was leaking. But on the bright side: we’ll deal with the financial hits somehow, though it took him much of the day yesterday Rich managed to fix our plumbing problem, and very, very, very best of all, my mother-in-law is home now and is taking the major changes to her life in stride. And we were fortunate enough to have been able to make the 12-hour round trip to see her in the hospital Sat/Sun, which not only made her happy, but made us happy too.

ripxii200Okay, but back to RIP. Year XII! I tell you, few things make me more nostalgic over my early days of blogging than Carl’s RIP and OUAT reading challenges. Thankfully, the lovely Heather and equally lovely Andi, have kept RIP alive again this year. And as usual I have made myself a pile of books far larger than I could read in two months time. Because while there are various Perils (levels) of participation that one can choose from when it comes to RIP, I prefer to go with what Kristen calls the “infinite peril” level, by which she means read as many RIP-appropriate books as possible during September and October.

Now, onto the lovely books:


*Books that are already underway: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (nonfiction/memoir), My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due (fiction), and From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (historical fiction graphic novel).


*Books I currently have checked out of the library:  The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale (nonfiction impulse grab…was then happy to see it on Kristen’s pile because I love her taste in books!) and Zone One by Colson Whitehead (post-apocalyptic novel I’ve been wanting to read for years).


*A couple more nonfiction choices: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale (a book I bought long ago thanks to Ana) and Pandemic by Sonia Shah (because I love reading about infectious disease and because I loved her book about malaria titled The Fever).


*A nice pile of mystery and/or suspense and/or thriller type books: See No Evil and Tell No Tales by Eleanor Taylor Bland (because she is one of my favorite comfort read authors), A.B.C. Murders and Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie (because it’s high time I read more of her work), Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber, and Out by Natsuo Kirino (all because they just sound so damn good and have been sitting on my shelves unread for too long), and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (because I want to read it before I watch the movie again).


*Of the more horror/supernatural variety: The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, The Little Stranger by Sarah Watersand The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi (because they all sound so atmospherically perfect for this time of year), Deathnote by Tsunami Ohba and Takeshi Obata (to have a little more comics choice, especially come Dewey’s Readathon next month), Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (which sounds more sci-fi, but I’m hoping it’s dark and scary enough to qualify for RIP), White Tears by Hari Kunzru and The Girl With the Gifts M.R. Carey (because why haven’t I read them yet?!!) and Fledgling by Octavia Butler (because she has become one of my all-time favorite authors with Kindred and the Parable books, and I just *know* I’m going to love it!).


*And finally, some short stories: The Migration of Ghosts by Pauline Melville (I’ve no idea if this is even RIP-appropriate, but the title has me hoping), Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (because how have I never read any of her short stories), and Mojo: Conjure Stories edited by Nalo Hopkinson (which I read some of last year for RIP).

Well, that ought to keep me busy, huh? Along with all the scary/suspenseful/mysterious viewing I’m hoping to do. And of course, it really goes without saying that I feel no compunction whatsoever to stick to this list…

looking forward to…September…

This summer has been a bit of a struggle. Mentally and physically. I haven’t felt quite myself, and I’ve tried hard to straddle that line between accepting that it’s okay, even necessary, to acknowledge and respect my negative feelings and fighting to not let depression completely take over. Ah, but that’s honestly not what I want to post about…but instead is just the back story as to why I’m here trying this whole blogging thing again. Blogging was something that used to bring me such joy. Partly it was about having a place to just ramble on about whatever, and partly it was about reading other peoples’ blogs and building/maintaining friendships with a bunch of truly special people. Over the past few months I’ve really missed blogging. I’ve missed reading. Honestly, I’ve missed a lot of things that typically make me happy because I just haven’t been able to make myself do them. But here’s to jumping back in.

So here it is, time to say goodbye to August, and get ready to welcome September in. Typically I have very mixed feelings about saying goodbye to summer, but this year I think I’m ready. And these are a few of things I’m looking forward to in September:

  1. RIP XII. You know, just everything about it. RIP brings back overwhelming feelings of nostalgia. And while blogging has vastly expanded my reading horizons, RIP allows me to go wallow in my reading roots. And I’ve got hopes that maybe this is just what I need to bring back that utter joy in opening up a book and climbing in.
  2. Back to school. LOL–I can’t believe I’m even saying that! It’s usually the thing I dread about fall. But depression, fibro, and anemia have really ganged up on me this summer leaving me feeling so utterly exhausted all the time. And exhausted didn’t jibe well with all the things that needed done–moving Annie, painting, gardening/preserving, etc. Getting back to the less physical sorts of work that homeschool planning/prep/execution require actually sounds like a nice change of pace about now. And holy crap, how can it be Gray’s senior year?!! The last year that my life will be pretty much dominated by homeschooling.
  3. The natural beauty of fall. Yes, of course the changing leaves and blooming sedum and all of those stereotypical images of fall. But also the dead flowers. I just can’t explain why the beauty of dead flowers so moves me.
  4. Ushering in the foods of fall. Soups and pumpkin and apples. But most of all, I’m looking forward to Rich’s first bigass pot of chili of the season. Holy yum!
  5. Our library book sale. I got in it my head that I really needed to weed down the number of books I owned this summer, and thus did a huge culling, getting rid of several boxes of books. Somehow it failed to make much of difference in how things looked, however. And well, I can pretty much guarantee that a portion of my hard work will be undone, because I just cannot help but go overboard at our local book sale. *shrugs*

So goodbye August. September, come on in…

hunger…so many feelings about this book…


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

I know that not enough time has gone by since I finished this book to put my feelings into any kind of coherent piece of writing. But I also know myself well enough to know that no amount of time would actually do that. This book spoke to me in so many ways, and I sort of feel like I need to get some of it out.

This book is amazing. And painful. I cried for Roxane Gay. I cried for myself.

I bookmarked soooo many passages.

I love Roxane Gay. I love her for so many reasons. I love her honestly in all its messiness. I love that she admits she’s full of contradictions. I am so very messy and so very full of contradictions. I struggle with that (I like things ordered, straight-forward), but I’ve accepted the truth of it.

There are so many passages I want to write about, but I’ll weed them down to just a few. This one knocked me flat:

He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors, if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it, and more often than not, that truth turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say.

And sometimes that depression goes as far as a suicide attempt that lands her in a psychiatric hospital…

In that way where we can always find someone whose experiences have been worse than our own, I was lucky. And really, I’m not being facetious there. I *am* lucky in so many ways. That failed attempt to go “to sleep and never wake up” (the words I used even to myself for the longest time) led me to the beginning of a road that ran in a better direction.


When you’re overweight, you body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.

And come on, we all know what that narrative is when it comes to fat people. We’re lazy and we’re stupid and we have no self-control. But just as no two thin people have the same story, no two fat people do either. My story is not Roxane Gay’s story, though there are glimpses of it. Thing is, why does a fat person owe the world her story just to be accepted as a human being?

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Obviously there’s a reason she said that twice. The truth of that is profound. It is overwhelming.

The sheer willpower it takes to leave my home is immense. Oh, I’m fine to go for a walk in the woods or something like that, where I know I won’t have to see other people. But being around other people terrifies me. And it wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t this way when I was thin, or even a bit overweight. Somewhere, many years ago, I crossed a line though, a line that seemed to be the demarcation of what size was acceptable and what size was not.

Fat shaming is real, constant, and rather pointed.


Doctors generally adhere to the Hippocratic oath, where they swear to abide by an ethical code, where they swear to act, always, in their patients’ best interests. Unless the patient is overweight.

As a result, I don’t go to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary even though I have good health insurance and have always had every right to be treated fairly and kindly.

Not every doctor I’ve had has been this way. I really like my current doctor, and while she always discusses my weight, I at least feel like she hears me when I talk about other things. I don’t go until it’s absolutely necessary, because even though she’s kind about it, it’s still not easy being told you’re a failure. (Not that she actually says “failure,” but the implication is always there.)

But I had a doctor once who was horrid. My obstetrician when I was pregnant with Annie. We’d spent a few years battling infertility because of my endometriosis. After surgery, I finally got pregnant, and to say we were elated would be an understatement. But oh how this man tried to ruin it for me. At my very first appointment, he told me that I needed to be very careful and not gain too much weight. I was overweight then, but nowhere near as big as I am now. And at this first visit after stressing how I just couldn’t let myself gain too much weight, he went on to tell us how horrible it was to have to do C-sections on obese women and have to go through all those layers of fat. WTF?!! If I’d had a choice, I would have switched doctors then and there. There were more fat-phobic incidents to come. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss and dehydration. Despite having to be hospitalized for dehydration, he was downright pleased that I was losing weight. And when I finally reached the point where I was feeling somewhat human again, when I could at least keep water down and sometimes bland foods, he told Rich to make sure I didn’t eat too much at Thanksgiving. Yeah, he told Rich, as if I wasn’t even there. And as if I could eat Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Asshole. But the worst came when he actually put Annie and I in danger. I was 29 weeks along and I woke up not feeling right. For one thing I’d gained 6 pounds overnight. If I knew what I know now, I would have immediately known what was going on—and he sure as fuck should have! Or at least had me come in to check on things. But when I called, he told me to quit eating so much. Just what the hell did he think I ate to gain 6 pounds overnight?!! But of course, that wasn’t it–I had preeclampsia. Which he immediately diagnosed at my next appointment 2 weeks after my call–with my blood pressure through the roof, protein in my urine, and a body so swollen that I couldn’t wear shoes or even talk normally because even my tongue was swollen. Because I was fat, he had dismissed me and my very real medical problem. BECAUSE I WAS FAT.


I love the body positivity movement. It brings me such joy to see these big, beautiful women (and men) embrace and love their bodies. To tell the world to #effyourbeautystandards. But admiring these women isn’t the same as being one of these women. As Gay puts it:

…I hate my body. I hate my weakness at being unable to control my body. I hate how I feel in my body. I hate how people see my body. I hate how people stare at my body, treat my body, comment on my body. I hate equating my self-worth with the state of my body and how difficult it is to overcome this equation. I hate how hard it is to accept my human frailties. I hate that I am letting down so many women when I cannot embrace my body at any size.


Roxane Gay is so admired by so many, myself most definitely included. She has friends and family who love her. And yet she sometimes doubts that love, wonders when there’s going to come a time when she’ll have to lose weight to keep that love.

Omfg, can I relate. Not to the being admired by many part, of course. But the what-if-these-people-who-are-my-world-can’t-keep-loving-me-because-I-can’t-lose-weight. When I’m in a good frame of mind, I can believe that my close friends love me. I can believe it with all my heart. But that good frame of mind isn’t with me much of the time. I spend more time that I’d like to admit wondering if these truly freakin’ good, kind, nonjudgmental, accepting people would be happier if I wasn’t in their lives but are far to nice to just say so. Should any of my dear, sweet friends read this, please do not be insulted by this admission. Because it is nothing you have ever done or said, and I know that is not the kind of people you are. But it is a story that the world tells me at every opportunity, a story that says I’m not worthy of love because I take up too much space.


In case it’s not obvious by now, I loved this book hard. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been for Roxane Gay to write this book, to share her truths. And in doing so, she told pieces of so many other people’s truths. And to feel understood, to know that you’re not the only person who feels the things you do, well, we all know how important that can be. Thank you, Roxane Gay.

my summer reading project…

I’ve decided to break my own damn rules. I usually refuse to let myself get into “summer mode” until the school year is out, which around here usually coincides pretty closely with the actual start of summer. But this year, because I need something to cheer me up, and well, simply because I can, I’m going with that unofficial start to summer that comes with Memorial Day weekend.

This means I am ending my spring reading project about 3 1/2-ish weeks early. And how did I fare? I said that I’d be happy if I read a quarter of the books off the large TBR pile I made for spring. One quarter of that pile meant 18 books, and hey, I finished 19. I’m an overachiever. Ha!  Here’s what I knocked off that pile (with a few words about the ones I didn’t already talk about here):

  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (Loved this one hard!)
  • A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Rye (While I did enjoy this poetry collection, it was definitely aimed at a middle school age audience, not a middle age audience.)
  • Passing by Nella Larson (OMG–I read a classic–go me! Better yet, I loved it! And yet, still I cannot shake the intimidation I feel when it comes to classics. *sigh*)
  • A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
  • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations by David S. Wilcove
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
  • The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance: Poems, 1987-1992 by Audre Lorde
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro
  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez
  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest (Not my favorite poetry collection of all time, but I definitely enjoyed it. And it make me think. And if I hadn’t had to return it to the library, I would have spent much more time with it. The whole collection was based on Tiresias from Greek mythology.)
  • The Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo (While this one didn’t immediately pull me in, it definitely grew on me. It’s a hard one to describe. It involves colony collapse disorder and a parallel world and undertaking and animal rights and a man’s relationships with his son, his father, his grandfather and bee folklore/mythology and grief. Set in Finland.)

Plus I read a few that weren’t on the list:

  • Storm #1-4 by Warren Ellis
  • Black Widow: The Itsy Bitsy Spider Devin Grayson
  • A Spy in the House (Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee (Not my usual type of read, a YA historical mystery set in Victorian England. It was a total delight! Definitely plan to read the others in the series.)
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (I thought this was an incredibly awesome book, and I appreciated it from it’s dedication at the beginning right down to it’s author’s note at the end.)
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (It’s Squirrel Girl, need I say more?!!)
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (See previous.)

Anyway, I am so proud of myself for sticking to my list for the majority of my reads. I think it’s unprecedented. So of course I’m going to try again! Okay, it really has little to do with the successful meeting of my goal, and more to do with the fact that I really just like to go through my shelves and pull out books and make big old enticing piles. A few of these are books I’m already actively reading, some are ones left from the spring reading piles that I’m still really excited about, some are still for this school year, but most I pulled at a whim from my bookshelves.

My summer book pool:

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont
  • The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Economy and Redefine Democracy by Raj Patel
  • 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania by Matthew Chapman
  • A Human Being Died That Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah
  • Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’ Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
  • Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson
  • Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds by Scott Chaskey
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
  • Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone
  • 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save the World’s Most Endangered Species by Jeff Corwin
  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss–and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata
  • The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science by Julie Des Jardins
  • Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Nylon Road: A Graphic Memoir of Coming of Age in Iran by Parsua Bashi
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean
  • Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
  • Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee by Hattie Ellis
  • The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
  • America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins
  • The Illustrated Treasure of Fairly Tales edited by Rita Marshall
  • Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection edited by Matt Dembicki
  • Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  • See No Evil by Eleanor Taylor Brown
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  • White Tears by Haru Kunzau
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Duma Key by Stephen King
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  • Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
  • Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
  • The Calder Game by Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist
  • Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
  • Saga Volumes 1-7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (the first few will be rereads)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • Food & Spirits by Laura Brant
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
  • The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
  • Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay
  • Reef by Romesh Gunesekera
  • Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Luna by Julie Anne Peters
  • The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire
  • Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell

If I counted correctly, that’s 64 books. And this time I’ll shoot for a third of them. I’m feeling confident. Yeah, I think my ability to stick so closely to my spring list made me cocky. Hopefully I won’t crash and burn this go-round.

this past week…

May 15-21.


*The school year. This was Rich and Annie’s last week of classes for the spring semester (with this current week being finals week). As has been the case most of this year, I’m frustrated as hell and clueless as to what else to try to make Max actually care about school. He was actually doing fairly well this last quarter, but totally fell apart during this last week. I think it’s a combination of things with him: incredibly poor organizational skills (we’ve tried so many approaches and nothing seems to stick with him), laziness, and the fact that he just doesn’t much care. And Gray and I are still plugging away. He worked a bit over the weekend in an effort to finish the year up early. His school year goes until June 21st, but if he busts his butt he’ll easily start his summer vacation before that.


*Flapjack continues to be happy about the abundant dandelion crop.


*Preserving season has officially begun with the canning of the first two pints of rhubarb jam. I always look to preserving season with about equal parts dread and excitement. It would be entirely excitement if it weren’t for how hard it can be on the damn fibro when there’s a lot to do in any one day/week. Anyway, here’s hoping for a successful growing season and lots of food in the pantry by winter.

*I think I only finished one book. Even with Bout of Books, it’s just been a really slow reading month. Part of the problem (always) is the fact that I have too many books going at once. (Of course this can be really misleading in the opposite direction as well, on those occasions when I finish four or five books over the space of a day or so.) Anyway, I finished Kate Tempest’s poetry collection, Hold Your Own, based on the myth of Tiresias. It was really good.


*Max spent a couple hours at the doctor Wednesday evening. He’s had this respiratory/sinus infection thing going on for what seems like forever. Finally by the end of the weekend, he’s starting to see a wee bit of improvement.


*Thursday was an awesome day for Annie. There was an awards ceremony for all the scholarship winners. (She had won one of the three scholarships awarded from the biology department.) Following the ceremony, there was, according to Annie, one of the best receptions, food-wise, that she’d ever seen. LOL.

This girl kicks ass, I tell you. She also won a biology scholarship from some association of 2-year schools. And she won the highest merit scholarship they award from ESF, where she was accepted into the chemistry program. And earlier she’d won a scholarship from the English department. Four scholarships in three different areas of study–can’t claim she’s not well-rounded.

She got to celebrate a little bit more on Friday when the biology department threw a little reception for the scholarship winners.


* Thursday was an awful day for Gray. He went with Rich to take the placement test so we could get him registered to take an online class at MCC in the fall. Despite his test anxiety, he made it through and did excellently on the test. But during the afternoon, he had a meltdown when Rich wanted to go to Annie’s award ceremony. Autistic meltdowns are hard on us, of course, but nothing compared to how hard they are on him. Rich has found him an isolated table, so he wouldn’t have to interact with any other people, but this wasn’t good enough for Gray. He wanted to wait in the car. But being 93 degrees that day, that was just not going to happen. I’m very proud of him–he eventually managed to pull himself together, he told Rich to go to the ceremony, and sat at the isolated table until Rich got back about half an hour later. Sadly, he sat in a state of near panic, was unable to focus on any schoolwork, and managed to scratch the entire side of his thumb to a raw bloody mess. Life just isn’t easy for this kiddo, but he makes me proud and grateful to be his mom every damn day.


*I cannot even remember the last time, all five of us have been together as much as we were this week. And believe me, we’re treasuring every single instance it happens! Friday night we all went out for pizza, Saturday we all went to Tim Hortons for work session, and Sunday we were all home to eat supper together. Woohoo!

*Tried a new recipe. For homemade French bread. Found it here. So easy to make! Definitely not the most flavorful bread ever, but it got thumbs up all around nonetheless.


*And finally, on a very sad note, Charley seems to have took a turn for the worse again. Refusing to eat, throwing up, just generally not being his happy little self. I’m afraid the vet’s hope for six months was too optimistic. He goes back to see her tonight…


this past week…

May 8-14, 2017. We’re halfway through May?!!

*It was an up-and-down week for Charley, which I suspect most weeks will be from now on due to his kidney disease. Still a battle getting him to eat most days. But he has also seemed to have a little more energy by the end of the week. Also good, the diarrhea seems to have run its course *fingers crossed* and he is sleeping through the night again.

Soaking up some sunshine and some pets from Gray.

*It was Bout of Books 19, which I already posted about. I had a lot of fun with it.

*We have a red squirrel visiting again this year, which makes us very happy. (Rich has a special affinity for them, as he did his PhD work studying their populations in Cherokee National Forest.)

*Annie’s girlfriend flew up for a visit, which obviously made Annie ecstatic. And Rich and I were very happy to get to meet her; she is a total sweetheart! The two of them together–ahh, it just makes my heart happy.

*More garden prep going on. We’re running a behind on getting our cool weather crops in, but considering the hail that pelted down yesterday maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

*The rhubarb is growing quite abundantly this season! WooHoo! Harvested the first this year, and made tart. Because tart is my old standby for fresh rhubarb.

*Made zucchini oatmeal muffins using zucchini frozen from last season’s garden. And tried a new recipe for biscuits. Biscuit boy (aka Gray) voted it a keeper.

*The weather was largely cool and lovely, with highs generally in the 50s. The weekend was slightly warmer. I have a feeling from looking at the forecast that we’re really going to miss that weather this week.

*Mother’s Day was relaxing. We took Amber to the airport. I did a lot of reading. Rich, Gray, and I went for a walk at Mendon Ponds, though Mom called me back while we were there so I spent the entire time on the phone.  The whole gang went out to eat at Monte Alban. Annie gave me a gorgeous mug that I’m completely in love with.

All in all, a pretty good week. I am blessed.

bout of books…

 Bout of Books 19 came at the perfect time for me. Last week was largely a pile of suck, and I’m paying for it not only mentally or emotionally, but also physically in the form of chronic illness flare ups. So a week of resting and concentrating on my reading sounds pretty perfect right about now. And goodness knows I have more than enough school reading to catch up on. Though I plan to do some purely-for-me reading as well.

The official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I made a pool of books that I may read or at least dip into, but I make no promises to stick entirely to it. Another thing I can’t promise to do, but am going to attempt, is updating this post daily with my progress. One of things I love so much about Bout of Books comes straight from their official blurb: “low-pressure.”


Books read from:

  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 2-4 of No. 2)
  • Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Books completed:

  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (only had 14 pages left to read though)

Number of pages:

  • 111 +
  • an unknown number of pages in A Spy in the House–because if there’s a way to see what page you’re on when reading on the Kindle app, I haven’t discovered it (hopefully I’ll finish the book this week and can then add the total pages)


Books read from:

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 5-6 of No. 2) + Howard the Duck by Chip Zdarsky (issue 6, because crossover)
  • Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Books completed:

  • Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

Number of pages:

  • 173 +
  • an unknown number of pages in A Spy in the House (because I still don’t know what page I’m on)


Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee
  • The Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 7-8 of No. 2)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 72 +
  • an unknown number of pages in A Spy in the House (because I still don’t know what page I’m on)

Thursday (aka the day my reading mojo totally sucked):

Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee
  • The Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issue 9)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 31 +
  • an unknown number of pages in A Spy in the House (because I still don’t know what page I’m on)


Books read from:

  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issue 10)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 60 +
  • an unknown number of pages in A Spy in the House (because I still don’t know what page I’m on)


Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Books completed:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Number of pages:

  • 118 +
  • 352 (Except that this is totally misleading. This is the number of pages in A Spy in the House, which I read on the kindle app and thus didn’t know how many pages I actually read on any one day.)


Books read from:

  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
  • The Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (issue 11) by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez
  • Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Books completed:

  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Number of pages:

  • 161


I would call this a successful Bout of Books for me. Honestly not sure if I did more reading than I do in an average week, but I most definitely focused more on purely fun reading and less on reading for homeschooling. That alone makes it a special week.

So what did I accomplish…

I read 1,078 pages. (You know, I’m gonna say that that probably is more reading than I do in an average week.)

Though I only had a few pages left to go, I did finish Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. Loved it.

I read one volume of poetry in its entirety (Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez), and started another (Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest) which I’m about halfway through now.

I started and finished two YA books that weren’t in the original TBR pile I made for Bout of Books. Both were ebooks. I don’t read a ton of ebooks, so to have read two in a week is out of the ordinary for me. They were A Spy in the House, the first in the Agency series by Y.S. Lee, and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Two very different sorts of stories, and I adored them both.

I read 12 comic books from Marvel Unlimited (All The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, with the exception of a Howard the Duck issue involved in a crossover with USG.)  Which is equal to about 2 trade volumes, huh?

I read not quite 50 pages in Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. I’ve purposefully been taking that book slowly as is it a bit academic (though still *very* accessible). I just feel like I do a lot better taking this sort of book slowly.

I got about a third of the way through Johanna Sinisalo’s The Blood of Angels. Another slow read. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, but it’s one of those books that I don’t feel compelled to pick up once I’ve set it down. I really need to just give it some attention.

And finally, last night I picked up Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. I was tired and none of the books I had going felt quite right, so I grabbed this off my spring TBR pile. Only got through the foreword and the first chapter before falling asleep.


Sincere thanks to Amanda and Kelly for hosting yet another great Bout of Books readathon!