Thursday, December 31, 2009

A-Z Reading Challenge

I found this challenge at The Luscious Literary Muse and thought I'd give it a try for 2010.  I've reproduced the rules as they appeared on the blog.

"Option A: Read authors A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option B: Read titles A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option C: Read both authors A to Z and titles A to Z (52 books; this is the challenge Joy created)

Option D: Read internationally A to Z (books representing 26 different countries) (The books could be from international authors (writers from that country); however, it's fine if a book is only set in that country. If need be, instead of countries one could use cities, states, regions, etc. The idea is to use proper place names. If you'd like you could even use a few fictional countries.)

Option E: Read 26 Alphabet books. Embrace your inner child and go visit the children's section!

General rules:

How strict is the 26 or 52? I know it isn't always easy to find those difficult letters. The thought of finding the X's (for example) might scare folks away. It shouldn't! I'm a merciful host! (Ask anyone!)

If you want to give the X's a go... For authors, try to find an X in the first name, middle name, or last name. For titles, it doesn't have to be the starting word. Try to find an X somewhere in a title, and it'd count in my book.

Still can't find a book for the letter you need? I'll take your word for it. I've been there. I know. If your library doesn't see the need to order books just because it starts with an X, then I don't blame you for not wanting to special order a book that you may or may not enjoy. You gave it your best, don't feel bad. You can still make this challenge work for you.

Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations. Look at the previous site. Ask other participants. Or ask me, your host. I may not have the "right" recommendation for every letter, but working together, I bet you'll find something that interests you.

Audio books count in my opinion. If you take the time to listen to books, then that should count towards something.

What about rereads? I don't have a problem with rereads. I would hope that you'd want to mix it up a bit and read some new authors, new titles, etc. But I'm not going to require that by any means.

What about children's books? Children's books and YA books count along with adult fiction and nonfiction of all sorts. (Poetry and plays too. Short stories count if they're in a collection.) I don't see a need to discriminate between "adult" and "kiddie" books. Even picture books can count if you like. Though try to use them in moderation. I used a few picture books to get tricky letters this year."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Warm Respite

After weeks of running on adrenaline, now that I'm relaxing all the stress I ignored is taking its toll.  I'm tired and headachy and generally feeling rundown, but at least I don't have to be anywhere or do anything and can go take a quick nap if I feel like it.  It hasn't helped that the past few days have been horribly hot and humid which saps me quicker than running a 100-metre dash (not that I've done that in 25 years but you get the picture).

Today the weather was perfect though.  The monsoon rains of the past two days have blown over and it was hot and dry and sunny and I had a gorgeous swim in the pool, although I'm pink and tender tonight.  It's been so long since I've swum and I was enjoying it so much I stayed in even when I could feel my shoulders starting to feel the sun.  I'm not crispy and it's not too painful, but I've lived in England too long. I've lost my tolerance and burn like an English Rose.

We're getting lots of reading and websurfing done and periodically play with the puppy.  Geoff and Anne have a beautiful Cocker Spaniel puppy named Baxter who alternately amuses and infuriates.

Well it's 8pm and I'm wiped out - off to bed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Taking a Deep Breath

Well, we did it.  After a day of packing and cleaning and more cleaning and more packing we finally got everything into (or onto) the car.  David, bless him, packed the car up and then came in really pleased that he had managed to fit everything in - and then noticed the carpet cleaner my mom had loaned us (which in the end we didn't even use because we ran out of time).  After some cursing and walking round the car, he took out a suitcase and we strapped it to the roof of the car with bungee straps.  We collected up our coats and bags, turned out the lights and locked the door for the last time around 8.30 last night and then drove down to my parents' in Ceres.  I was so exhausted that I zoned out while we were on the 12 and didn't wake up again till we were on the 99 and then zoned out again till after we'd exited the highway and were on my parents' road.  I have to be REALLY tired or sick to sleep in cars or planes so it's an indication of how worn out I was that I slept for nearly half the journey.  When we finally got to the farm at about 11.30 we got out and the suitcase we'd bungeed to the roof had slid down to the back of the car and was hanging on for dear life.  We only unpacked the essentials and made our way upstairs as quietly as we could so as not to wake Mom & Dad (which half worked - Dad sleeps like a log and Mom wakes up if a fly lands on the window screen).

Today I've been achy and slow and have spent most of the day sitting in front of the log fire, chatting with Mom or reading old Period Home magazines.  I've been down here to visit so often over the last two years that it doesn't feel like we've moved - just like we've come for a long visit.  Tomorrow we are visiting with friends and family, Monday is a shopping day, and Tuesday we fly to Brisbane, so after the last few weeks it was essential to have a day like today.  We will be seeing family in Australia but I'm hoping that most of the time will be for lounging around the house and the pool, relaxing and soaking up the sun before the whirl of getting ourselves back to California and then on to what will no doubt be a cold and wet UK.  Evie got an email from a friend in Reading who said that it was snowing there today.

I do want to try and keep up my blog but it's probably going to be patchy for the next month.  So if my dear readers (all two of you) will be patient I'll try and occasionally write something worth waiting for.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Moment of Reflection in the Midst of Chaos

I'm taking a very short break from everything I have to do today to pause and think about the implications of today, Friday the 18th of December.  This week the movers finally came and took away all the things we had put aside for shipping and when they were done our voices echoed around the suddenly empty space.  Since then I've been trying to get the apartment clean while packing up what we have left, going to work, and saying goodbye to friends.  Yesterday Holly Hughson came and helped with the cleaning - she scrubbed the stove and oven, bless her! Last night we went out for dinner at Armadillos, our favourite Mexican restaurant, for the last time.  Today is my last day at work and I have four hours to get all the last minute jobs done.  When I finish work at noon I have to go home, finish packing, clean the bathroom (bleh) and shampoo all the carpets (bleh bleh) before we can finally try to fit all our stuff into the car and head down to Mom & Dad's. 

So the upshot is that I think I'm going to be too busy today to really appreciate the fact that after two years, it's our last day in Angwin.  It's been an amazing couple of years and I'm hoping to write a post on what it's meant to me - but today is not the day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Long Goodbye

The past few days have been full of lunches and dinners to say goodbye to people here at PUC.  Saturday Bruce and Audrey had a crowd of people over to their house to say goodbye and many very nice things were said about us, particularly Evie's involvement in Drama and of course David's contributions as the Utt Professor.  I was very proud of both of them.

Sunday night I had dinner with Cherise at Boskos in Calistoga (fantastic roasted artichokes) and we sat and talked long after we had finished eating.  She's off on a mission trip to Zambia at the end of January so I'm looking forward to hearing how that goes.

Tuesday I had my 'goodbye lunch' for work - a little early so everyone could be there.  I decided we should go to Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, since I'd really liked it the one time I'd been before.  I had excellent steak with garlic mashed potatoes and for dessert a lemon flavoured pudding with huckleberries.  I really got it for the berries, so now I can say I've had huckleberries.  Tuesday night we went to Armadillo's in St Helena (our favourite local Mexican restaurant) with Maria.

We don't have anything else scheduled for the next week but we've got several meals with people the weekend we are with my parents, before we head off to Australia.

It's just as well that people are feeding us because I've been so busy I forget to eat (and if you know me at all you know that's just not me - I never forget to eat).

Saturday, December 05, 2009

And now for something completely different...

This week's been crazy and I'm tired and I'm going to bed, so here's one of my favourite songs to tide you over till I can post something more substantial.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Little Known Fact About Me...

I have a thing for cows.  I really do.  I love them.  I WANT one, or even two.  I even have names picked out for them - Agatha and Luella.  Never mind that each cow requires an acre of land and I have one medium sized suburban back yard, I still long for one.  I also want chickens and sheep but this post is about cows.

My grandpa was a cow man.  As well as farming almonds and raising chickens (which actually my grandma did), he used to buy calves and raise them until they were ready to be turned into all the things cows that don't produce milk get turned into.  I wasn't aware of this at the time, I just knew that grandpa had cows and they all had names.  He wasn't sentimental about his cows and was quite ready to exchange them for cash when their time was up - but he named each and every cow he owned.  In the winter I loved finding Grandpa in the barn, which smelled of hay and warm cow, and in the summer the cows would be turned out in to the small field which ran along the side of the property and behind the barn, and was emerald with tender grass.

Grandpa's cows tended to be black or black/white but the next set of cows in my life was the huge white Brahman cattle in Nigeria.  In most of Africa cows were originally the currency of everyday life.  A man's status and wealth  depended on how many cows he had.  The Fulani are beautiful, nomadic people who herded cattle over vast distances and in Nigeria, in the early 70s, their cattle of choice were Brahmans.  Originally from India, their natural resistance to heat, insects and disease, their gentle natures and their outstanding milk (leading to outstandingly big and healthy calves) made them popular in hot climates around the world.  I was very young when we were in Nigeria but a lasting image was the very common one of beautiful, graceful Fulanis herding their beautiful and very distinctive cattle through the village.

My second favourite cows are the shaggy, red, peeking shyly through their bangs at you, Highland Cattle (or coos as we like to call them).  I completely fell in love with these cows when we were in Scotland.  They are the complete opposite of the Brahmans with low compact bodies and long shaggy fur to protect them from the cold wind and rain in the Highlands of Scotland.

Honestly, how can you resist those faces?

My third favourite are the ever popular Jersey cows.  They are the glamour girls of the bovine world.
Doesn't she look like she's been made up for her photo shoot?  But these are not just pretty faces - their milk has one of the highest butterfat content of any cattle breed.

So, now you know far more about cows than you ever thought you should.  But aren't they all gorgeous?

Here is one last picture of the closest I can get to owing a cow at this time in my life.  Meet Francine.

The packet next to her is a starter kit for a herd of cows.  The front says "Genuine California Cow Seeds - Grow Your Own Herd - Herd Starter Kit - Directions on UDDER side" and on the "UDDER side" it says:

1. To start herd, follow directions to the letter.
2. Plant the seeds in a warm spot.
3. Plant seeds right side up or cows will grow upside down.
4. Be patient, cows need time to grow.
5. For best results, moo softly while watering."

Corny?  Oh yeah!  But I couldn't resist.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...