Bonfire

Since all the house work we did on the garage last fall, we’ve had four separate piles of scrap wood littering our lawn. Not little piles, either. They seemed to grow over time, as we piled fallen branches and added other pieces of scrap here and there. I kept putting off the fire, worried it was going to be too long and take too much time.

It took a while, certainly, but only five hours of hard work. Friday I headed to the fire department and picked up a permit, and then when I got home, I lit the biggest pile on fire and took the other piles over to it. The flames got pretty high–probably about seven feet or so at times. Looking back on it, I would have liked to have the fire a bit further from my house. There was one panicked moment when I saw flames trickling over toward the garage, but the hose took care of that. 🙂

In any case, the piles have magically disappeared, and it’s wonderful not to have to stare at them when I drive into the garage each day.

Wish I’d done it sooner.

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Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Let me start by saying I’m a sucker for Salem. Any book that has the witch trials as a part of it is going to earn an extra bit in my rating, just because it’s something I’m interested in. (Just as any book that is primarily a romance will score lower for me–I don’t like the genre.) Why do I like Salem? A part of it has to do with the fact that I’m related to a witch. Or an accused witch, at least. Giles Corey refused to enter a plea when he was accused. Since according to law at the time, he couldn’t be tried until a plea was entered, he was tortured until he would. The torture? They laid him down in a field, placed a wooden board on him, and stacked heavy rocks on it until he broke down. Oh yeah–and they only let him eat rotten bread and stagnant water. He never broke down, though. His last words? ‘More weight.’ Yeah. I have cool ancestors.

Anyway, so with that disclaimer, on to the review. The book seesaws between the present day and Salem witch trial times. Much of it rests on a developing mystery, so I don’t want to really get into the plot to much. If you’re looking for summary, look elsewhere. I enjoyed the book for the most part. I think without my Salem-leanings, I’d give it three stars. With them, I raised it to four (out of five). What worked for me? The historical accuracy of the novel. Howe makes a lot of effort to portray things as realistically as possible. The characters were well done, and the descriptions clear and vivid. I particularly enjoyed how well minor characters were pulled off, each of them seeming to be real people, not just parts brought in to fulfill a role the author needed filled. That’s a tricky line to walk without letting minor characters take over the book, and Howe walks it well.

What didn’t work? The ending fell apart for me some. A book that rests as much in mystery as this one does will succeed or fail primarily based on the resolution of that mystery. The resolution left me with a meh feeling, which was disappointing. It wasn’t bad, per se–but it certainly wasn’t mind-blowing. Some of the characterizations at the end fell apart, as well.

(Pet peeve of the book? Howe’s portrayal of librarians. The woman seems to have had her share of bad run ins with my profession, and she doesn’t paint us in too bright a light. We’re not all stuffy self-centered shh’ers, Ms. Howe!)

In any case, if you like mysteries, historical novels, witches or grad students (the main character is a history doctoral student), this will be a good read for you.

View all my reviews >>

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Giving Buffy a Second Try

Denisa and I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night. We’d tried this before, but didn’t get past the first four episodes or so. It just wasn’t enough to hold our attention, and we gave it up. However, enough people who I know and respect swear by this show, and I’d heard since that it improves in later seasons–that it took some time for the show to really get its feet under it. I can appreciate that, so this time we skipped season one and went right on to season two. Got through two episodes last night. The first one was underwhelming, but I really want to give this show its fair shot, so we kept at it. Episode two was much better. Funnier, more story to hold it together, and generally a more fun time. Where the first episode was a two star outing flirting with one and a half stars, the second episode was easily two and a half, maybe three.

Enough for me to start to see what people see in the series. We’ll keep at it.

Honestly, I’m not usually so forgiving with something I’m watching or reading. If a book doesn’t hold me by the first fifty pages, it’s gone. There are too many other books out there for me to read. With a movie, I’m more tolerant. Rarely will I turn one off, just because I know that in another hour or so, it’ll be all over anyway, so why not give it its shot. A TV series is a huge time commitment, and since they’re episodic anyway, I can put one down just as easily as I can put down a book. The fact that I’m sticking with Buffy as much as I have this far is a testament to how much word of mouth can do for a piece of art. Well, that and the fact that we both loved Firefly (a TV series created by the same guy who created Buffy)–so, word of mouth and quality of other works by the same creator.

I’ll try to keep you posted on what I think of the rest of season two.

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Back on the Wagon

That’s right. I’m dieting again. I’d sworn not to go over 200 again, and what did I do? I went on vacation and ate like John Candy. Amish country, Hershey’s Chocolate World, the Biergarten at Epcot, the other countries at Epcot, the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, wedding food, Vince’s pizza, Friendly’s, bakeries and more: for two weeks, I was an eating machine. I was Land Shark, eating everything in sight. I think I had a piece of salad in there somewhere, but for the most part, if anything was fattening, bad for you or of questionable nutritional content, I ate it. A lot of it. And so for one terrifying scale-weighing moment, I clocked in at 210.6 when I got back.

Long story short (too late), I’m back on the diet. I’m weighing my food–and lo and behold, I have found an app for that. It’s called My Fitness Pal, and it lets me enter in the food I eat and the exercise I do, all on my iPad. No more getting the bulky computer out. It’s quick and easy, and I like it a lot.

I’m down to 207 now. I gained the weight in two weeks, I can get rid of a lot of it in that amount of time, too.

Hopefully.

If not, this diet thing will have to go on a tad longer. Sigh.

It was worth it. 🙂 I just like food too much.

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I’ve Started a Library Blog

It’s official, folks. The new blog has begun. In between catching up on (most) emails and hauling chairs around the library today (20 new chairs arrived sort of unexpectedly, and it took a while to get them all sorted out, since the chairs they were replacing were going elsewhere in the building, and those chairs in turn were also going other places), I wrote the first post today, detailing what the blog is and what it will cover. For those of you interested, head on over to Browsing Room to check it out. I expect there will be some bleed over between my two blogs from time to time (mainly reviews I post here also getting posted there, for example), but fear not, faithful readers–I’ll still be blogging over here just as regularly as I have been. (Even more regularly, in fact, since I’m back from vacation now!) For now, I have 12 minutes left of work, and much more work than can be done in 12 minutes. Toodleoo!

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The End of Lost

Six years after it began, the end of Lost finally rolled around. I watched it down in Orlando, after having gone to Cocoa Beach during the day. (I thought that a fitting way to celebrate the end of the beach-centered show.) What did I think about it?

I loved it. I honestly don’t believe they could have done a better job with the ending. It answered many questions, leaving others open to interpretation–just as a show like Lost should have done. (There are people still whining about not getting enough answers, but I think they wouldn’t be satisfied unless the finale had been a Powerpoint presentation running down all the different answers one by one.) To those of you complaining, you only have to look to another of JJ Abrams’ shows to see what could have been–Alias was an awesome show for the first three seasons or so. Then they started giving answers to mysteries, and those answers sucked. Lost could have totally dropped the ball at the end, but it didn’t just not drop the ball, it made a beauty of touchdown.

SPOILERS AHEAD

There’s not much else I want to say, and I’m going to avoid talk about most of it, but I wanted to add that one of the things that got me thinking quite a bit was Lost’s version of the afterlife. I found some parallels to Mormon theology, and I’m imagining that if I were grounded in a different religion, I would have found parallels to that theology, as well. My hats off to the producers and writers for making it so inclusive.

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Thoughts on a Quaker Wedding

I don’t typically do weddings. I can count on one hand the number of weddings I’ve been to. Receptions . . . a few more. But weddings and I don’t usually get together. A lot of this isn’t due to a particular dislike of weddings on my part. I have nothing against them, but people seem to tend to get married when I’m out of the country. Three sibling weddings happened when I was either in Jerusalem or Germany. Another friend got married when I was in Slovakia. Other times, people get married in far off places, like Illinois, or California. This comes into conflict with the Bryce Can’t Afford Going to Far Off Weddings side of me, so I miss those weddings, as well. This is all just a long way of saying that when a good high school friend of mine decided to get married–and invite me to see it–and I wasn’t going to be out of the country, AND she was getting married in my home town . . . well, let’s just say that when I’m invited to weddings that occur in my home town when I’m not out of the country, I always go. Always. 🙂

The first leg of my May vacation was centered on attending this wedding. While there, I said I’d blog about it, and here’s the promised blog entry (albeit a tad late). Note: I also have a great picture of the lovely couple, but that great picture is on my iPhone, which for some reason has decided it doesn’t like to email things. Since I’m on vacation, I decided I wasn’t going to troubleshoot it more than a half hour, which I did–it’s still on strike. So you’re not getting the great picture of the lovely couple. My apologies.

Anyway.

Becky’s wedding was a Quaker service, which I really enjoyed. I’d never been to anything Quakerish before. Have you? The service consisted of a lot of silence (on purpose). It started with an overview of what would happen: Becky and Aniel would (after some silence) stand and tell each other their vows, and then (after some more silence), the wedding certificate would be read aloud. After that, people were free to stand and say whatever they wanted to the newlyweds. (Silence was encouraged between each of these, as well.) The silence was there to allow people to think about what had been said. After about an hour, the service was over, and we all signed the marriage certificate.

One of the things I liked most about this was its simplicity. Mormon weddings are also pretty darn simple affairs, when you get down to it. I’d say Mormon meetings could learn a thing or two about simplicity from Quaker meetings, as well. I will say I was surprised there wasn’t more talk of God or Christ, but poking around some on the internet afterward (a stupid way of finding out information about a religion, granted), cleared some of that up for me. Quakers seem much more accepting of a variety of religious views, depending on the sect or branch of Quakerism.

(I had other thoughts on the wedding ceremony, but those branch off into personal religious philosophizings, which I try not to get into too much on this blog. Bottom line: I enjoyed the service.)

The reception afterward was way cool, too. I was really happy to see that there were so many varieties of cool sodas on hand. Black cherry, root beer, cream soda, orange . . . and snazzy brands, too. None of this A&W stuff. 🙂 The food was great, there was live music, and it was capped by an evening showing of the Princess Bride.

Denisa and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and it was a great way to start off the vacation. Thanks for a fun time, Becky, and best wishes!

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