Friday, May 25, 2012

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Hill Top Farm (...The Tale of Holly How (The ...The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Woo...The Tale of Hawthorn House ...The Tale of Briar Bank (The...The Tale of Applebeck Orcha...The Tale of Oat Cake CragThe Tale of Castle Cottage ...

Books 1 - 8
By Susan Wittig Albert (Robin Paige)
Last book published in 2010, appears to be complete

These books are utterly charming.  I say that meaning both the good and bad that goes with it.  They are all sweet, bad things always turn out good, the well behaved prosper.  And you know exactly what I mean by the bad of charming.  I am hard pressed to tell you the age group for which they are intended.  The subject seems designed for a child.  The narrater directly addresses the reader in a very playful and childish way. However, the 300 page length requires an older demographic.  The writing also includes an old english dialect for some of it's characters (although it is rather simply done.)  Perhaps the intent is that grown persons will read it with the child. 

The most enjoyable part of the series for me was the enjoyable telling of Beatrix Potters life for the 8 year span of the books. There was clearly quite a bit of research done by the author, and the historical notes at the end are brief enough to encourage even the most tired reader to complete them.
My least favorite part of the books was the repitition of every blessed thing.  For example, every single book will tell the reason behind the towns names.  Every book tells the story of the Brockery's coat of arms.  By the tenth book if you cut out all the parts that you have read before you will be left with hardly a book at all!

All told, I enjoyed the read.  But I would not recommend them. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anniversary Vacation Time

Last weekend S and I went on a mini-vacation to St Louis!  For Christmas last year S bought me tickets to see “Memphis” and very cleverly timed the trip so it coincided with our anniversary and so this was a highly anticipated adventure.  We drove down on Friday, stopping in Burlington so my parents could babysit Fleshy.  Then we drove down on Hwy 61.  If you haven’t taken this route lately you’ll be surprised at how quickly it moves now!  Even with a pit stop the drive from B-town to St Louis was less than 3.5 hours!

We stayed at the Mayfair, which is right downtown.  We were able to get off the highway just as the traffic was slowing down which was perfect.  At the hotel, they had some trouble finding our reservation.  I guess that because we booked through a third party, Orbitz, the reservation didn’t upload into their system.  After maybe a 5 minute search they found it, and because we were inconvenienced they gave us a free upgrade to a suite!  YAY!  The room was nice, if a bit old school.  There was a sitting room, bedroom w/ 2nd TV, and then a large bathroom/closet area.  There was no fridge, and no towel bar for used towels.  Not huge deals, but I’m more than happy to save a hotel on its laundry fund if I can hang my towel up.  The bed was super comfy – and the comforter was the lightweight washable type which made me happy.

That night we went out to explore downtown.  S had googled the area and made a short list of restaurants in the area with food that seems yummy.  We ate at Caleco’s and had some yummy pizza.  It was a thin crust and you could choose any toppings for $.50 each.  We chose shrimp, onion, and olives and it was delicious!  S sampled a local beer that was on tap . .. you’ll have to ask him which one.  I know that the 1st one was a bit flat, but then they switched to a new keg and he seemed to enjoy the 2nd one more.  (Beer tasting still isn’t my forte, so if this is something you want more info on – again you’ll need to ask him.)  After dinner we walked down to Busch stadium to try and get some cheap tickets to the game.  The scalpers down there mean business though and although we tried we didn’t have any luck.

Saturday we went to Forest Park.  This was a short maybe 10 minute drive.  We walked through the park, purveyed some of the local graduation ceremonies going on and finally made it to the zoo.  (Those dang ceremonies sure made it a long walk!)  St. Louis zoo is FREE, with the option to buy passes for the train and certain special shows.  It’s large enough that the two of us spent at least 3 hours walking around, and we still hadn’t seen it all, so I would definitely recommend it if you are in the area!  We had a great time – the reptile house there is fantastic.  Spencer spent forever watching the Gorillas.  And the penguins put on a swim show just for us!

After a while walking around though we got hungry so we left and went to The Field House.  Seems like everywhere you go there’s a Field house – right?  It is just what you would expect, a sports bar with greasy food.  We had polenta fries for an appetizer and they were amazing.  They actually convinced us to stay and eat, as we had planned on just getting a drink and then going to the Italian place across the street initially.  At any rate the entrĂ©e’s were good, I had smothered chicken, and S had a burger with bleu cheese, jalepeno’s, onion, and a caper sauce.  They are big on choosing your topping because it was just like the pizza the night before.  There was a base price for the burger, and then you chose the toppings.  S enjoyed the Stupid Jerk drink he had.  And I enjoyed my Stella’s.  (Ok, his drink wasn’t really called Stupid Jerk, but it was something like that.  Maybe Arrogant Jerk?  Again ask him for the beer details.  Maybe I’ll just make him do a beer update!)

After dinner we went back to the room to get ready for our date.  I had a new pretty party dress for the occasion, and I will call it a hit, because 2 random people at the show came over and told me they liked it!  “Memphis” played at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, and it was a very good show.  I laughed, I cried, and I wanted to sing along.  What more should a musical do?  The people behind us were from the deep south, and I don’t know if they just don’t get out much or what but they thought the theatre was just so beautiful – and the ceiling decoration was “just like a disco ball.”  S and I found the whole conversation hilarious. 

Sunday we just headed home.  It was Mother’s day, and we wanted to spend some time with each of our mom’s on our way.  So we stopped at B-town and saw my folks.  Fleshy was happy to see us.  He didn’t like having to sleep in his room, he likes sleeping on beds, or cushions, or at least a folded towel.  He didn’t like the solitude of sleeping in the dining room all alone either.  After seeing my folks it was on to see Spencer’s mum.  She had made the most delicious enchiladas!  They were amazing!  We saw his sister and her kids for a quick visit too.  So it ended up being a very full day! 

Who am I kidding – it was a very full and wonderful weekend.  S made every moment entertaining, which is one of the things I love best about him.  I can’t wait to see what the next adventure with him will be!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Space Trilogy

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy, #1) by C. S. Lewis

This book was written in 1938 by an English author.

I am on the fence with this book.  On one side I wish that it had been longer.  On the other I'm not really sure that I liked it all that much.  I am sure that this is a personal failing.  I loved parts of the premise.  The idea of animal beings on Mars bearing more humanity than humans is interesting.  The concept of Earth falling into an evil sphere is also fun.  I'm just not sure that there is enough to the book for it to be considered great.  The elaboration all focused on the Malacandran landscape, and I would have appreciated more character, and social developments.  However, I am still excited to read the remaining 2 books in the series, and I will add to this post as I complete them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Great Escape...attempt.

It’s been 1 week since the worms arrived. They are still climbing the sides of the bin. This morning when I checked the population numbers on the wall were up.
They are obviously eating something. They have grown considerably since their arrival. Why are they crawling and clumping on the side of the bin? There must still be a problem with the bin…
I had a few theories. The bin is too cold and it may be warmer towards the top. The existing food and bedding is not homogenous enough. The existing food is not diverse enough.
Of these theories the warmth one has been debunked. I dug to the bottom and it’s quite a comfortable temperature there and worms are found there. As for the other theories I don’t know really how to test them. I have mixed the bin up to distribute/homogenize everything. The only food I’ve added since adding the compost has been a piece of tomato. Keep in mind they loved the compost I fed them, this was a diverse food source for sure. The tomato was just for fun to see how long it would take for them to get to it in my new bin.
For now I’m feeling like the worms and I are competing with one another. Not my preference of roles but I’m determined to be more persistent then the worms. As long as they aren’t dying, I’ll eventually provide them with a comfortable home that they can flourish in. Until then it’s eat what you have or go hungry.  Below you can see a cluster of baby worms already!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vermicomposting has begun. A modest 1000 Red Wigglers.

Welcome to Spencer's newest hobby!  My basement is full of worms!  The adventure began a couple weeks ago when Spencer created the holding facility based on an online design he found.  I'll try have him link it here for you so you can make your own!  (I know you want to.)  Then he began scouring websites to find just the very best breeders, you can't accept worms from just anywhere you know.  After settling on his favorite it just became a waiting game with Mr. Postman.  Spencer had high hopes that they would arrive before Easter so he could share his excitement with all of our house guests.  But unfortunately they didn't make it here until Monday.  When Spencer heard they were here he just couldn't wait to get them moved into their new home.  After tossing them in though it seemed they were wriggling as fast as they could for the exits!  What could be wrong!  Spencer quickly turned to online forums to try and find out the problem, and when I got home he was in full panic mode.  The web stated that if they don't like the food they will try and escape, but since he followed all the directions he couldn't figure out the problem.  Spencer had also discovered that he was a bit more squemish about touching them than he thought he would be.  Ignorance can sometimes be bliss.  I said that the worms were just confused, and didn't feel at home yet.  I had Spencer throw a bit of the outdoor compost in the bin to make them feel cozy.  And I grabbed all the worms that were trying to get away and threw them back in.  After a little bit Spencer took off his gloves and managed to touch the worms too and helped toss them in the middle of the bin.  Sure enough after a night in yummy good compost the worms were ready to settle in and get to work.  Soon we'll have black gold!

Friday, March 30, 2012


Today marks the end of my first week at my new job!  I am the newest employee in the Client Services department for the Orange team.  This week has all been spent in training, learning the company departments and goals, the system I'll use, and the expectations that go along with that. 

What is LimoLink?  We arrange ground transportation for executives and other high end clients.  For example, Gordon Gekko flies to London for a business meeting.  The car that takes him from the airport to his hotel could be provided by LimoLink.  My piece of the puzzle is that when his personal assistant (or whomever) calls LL to make a reservation I am the person he/she would talk to.

What makes this different from my recent jobs in the customer service industry?  Well, everyone is really happy to be there.  It isn't the dissatisfied rumblings that I have heard at my two most recent places of employment.  This is very encouraging to me.  My goal is to find a job that I wont hate staying at for the next 20 years, and based on the people I have met so far this may be it. 

Plus, going through the training in a group setting has already allowed me to make a couple good friends!  So hopefully we can all continue to grow together, as we move out into our roles in the company.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Golden Notebook

   The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

This book was written by an English author in 1962.  The edition I read was 635 pages long, and was a slow read.  It is fiction and it's author received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007.

The Golden Notebook is the story of Anna.  Anna is an author and she has divided up her recreational writing into four separate notebooks.  This gives the story its unusual organization.  There is the actual story of Anna which starts every chapter.  After that are the 4 notebooks that Anna keeps  In the first one (black) she writes about her past experience in Africa with a group of like-minded individuals.  Next is the red one where she writes her political thoughts and experiences in the communist community of England.  Third is the yellow notebook which is a beginning of a book, but which also tells Anna's thoughts of a past relationship.  Finally there is the blue notebook which is an attempt at a journal.  All 5 pieces of the story are told before continuing on to the next chapter. 

The first 100 and last 100 pages of the book were the most difficult.  Because there are so many different threads to the story it was difficult for me to really get into things.  Once I was invested however the first half includes such a nostalgia for dying that I couldn't put it down.  At this point I felt that it could contain "truths" that I needed to learn.  As the story progressed there is a shift which for me stated that those truths would not be contained herein, or perhaps that I am unwilling to accept the truths it wants to impart.  At any rate toward the end there are a lot of dream sequences that I could have done without.  Until reaching a moderately satisfactory conclusion.

It is easy to see what it is in this book that makes it so important.  It gives a very honest, and ugly portrayal of its female characters.  I related to many of the thoughts and emotions displayed.  I think this is a hard thing for readers to accept, as it is so very foreign to the typical heroines that we are accustomed to.  

There are many ideas brought forward in the telling of the story as well.  One that re-occurred, and which I particularly enjoyed was the idea of being a "boulder-pusher."  That there is a personality that spends its life "trying to get people very slightly less stupid than we are to accept truths that the great men have always known."  And like Sisyphus the task is like pushing a boulder uphill continuously, with it occasionally rolling back down to near the beginning again.

While this book is probably not one I would read again, I am glad I read it.  I would definitely look to reading more by Doris Lessing.