Getting ready for 2008

(The “to be read pile.” Photo taken January 2007.)

I’m making some changes around here, little by little. Today I’m working on my book list.

It seems a shame to just delete my list of books I read in 2007, so I’m saving it here. I didn’t make it to 50, but I gave it a good try. I’m going to try again in 2008.

Books I read in 2007:


Dance of the Gods


Helen of Troy

Morrigan’s Cross

Peace Like a River

The Cave

The Glass Castle

Mao: The Unknown Story

Lisey’s Story

Cancer Ward

Anais Nin: A Biography

The Virgin’s Lover



Good Omens

The Farming of Bones

The Barrytown Trilogy



Healthy Living From the Inside Out


One for the Money

The Rule of Four

Parable of the Sower

The Clan of the Cave Bear

Two for the Dough

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Anansi Boys

The Valley of Horses

McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland

The Color of Magic

Blood Brothers

My favorite books from 2007 were (in no particular order):

  • McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland. This was a fun read, a wild romp through Ireland. I like British humor and this book had plenty of it. I also learned a bit about Ireland while laughing my butt off.
  • The Color of Magic. I discovered Terry Pratchett while looking at Neil Gaiman books. I read Good Omens earlier in the year and enjoyed it so much that I decided to give Discworld a try. Although I’ve heard that one doesn’t need to start at the beginning when it comes to Discworld, I’m anal enough to do just that. The Color of Magic is the first in the Discworld series. It was funny (again with the British humor), and I suspect it’s the beginning of my addiction to Discworld.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. This book was an eye-opener to me in terms of the costs (on many levels) of bringing food from afar to my dinner table. While I’m not ready to become a complete locavore, I do believe that eating locally is better for me, for the community in which I live, and the world in general (even if my part is smaller than a drop in the bucket).

There were some other good books in the mix, but those three stand out for me right now. A couple of the books I read were somewhat depressing, and some were uplifting. Some were educational and some were just plain fluff.

Sometimes the mind needs to relax with a bit of fluff.

I think 2008 is going to be a good reading year. Just a hunch.

Family Time

(The Exquisite Emma. December 2007. © Robin)

They say things (such as certain traits and characteristics) skip a generation. Perhaps that’s true. Princess Emma is already learning how to take photographs. She’s not only enjoying it, but she seems to be good at it.

It was a wonderful weekend. I got to spend it with some of those whom I love most in the world: my husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my youngest son’s girlfriend, and the Exquisite Miss E (aka Princess Emma).

I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I am also a very grateful woman, for having such love, laughter, and family in my life.

We had the big holiday meal yesterday. Last night we played a game of Trivial Pursuit. Before game time, Princess Emma and I spent a little time together visiting Pingu online. Way back before M and I went on our sabbatical adventures I introduced Emma to Pingu and she hasn’t forgotten about it. Whenever she sees my computer she asks to see the penguin. The website has changed since our last visit. They now have a few shorts and episodes on the site. Emma giggled and laughed through the episode that’s currently available. There’s something about a duck pooping on a penguin’s head that she finds outrageously funny.

I have to admit I laughed, too — the first two or three times we watched it. Emma insisted on watching it several times. By the time we were finished, we both had it pretty much memorized.

This afternoon, after the kids all took off, M and I reveled in aftermath of a weekend well spent. We opened a bottle of champagne that we’ve been saving for a special occasion. For some reason, this seemed like the perfect occasion.

In a little while we’re going to settle in, with a fire burning brightly in the fireplace, and watch a movie. Just the two of us.

And the kitties, of course. I’m sure they’ll want to join us. They make great lap warmers.

In case I don’t get around to posting before the old year turns to the new:

Happy New Year to my readers and blogmates!  Wishing you all the best for 2008.

Unofficial start

(The evil Izzy. December 2007. © Robin)

Izzy isn’t really evil. It’s just a bad case of golden-eye. Funny how the cats don’t get red-eye. Sometimes it’s a glowing blue color.

She doesn’t, however, belong up on that shelf. She was suitably reprimanded.

It’s day 2 of my unofficial start towards lifestyle change. I walked 2.29 miles yesterday and put in 4 miles today. I followed the walks up with some yoga and meditation. It’s a great way to start the day.

I’ve also been doing a fine job of eating lots of fruits and veggies. M and I went out to dinner last night. We went to a restaurant that serves Middle Eastern food and has plenty of vegetarian dishes on the menu. The food was delicious, and I’m pretty sure I got at least 5 servings of vegetables just in that one meal.

We woke up this morning to a rain/snow mix. Very slushy stuff. It turned to snow later in the morning. It didn’t amount to much. The temperature has warmed up to a balmy 36 degrees which has melted whatever snow was out there.

Our next good chance for snow will be New Year’s Eve. M and I have tickets to First Night in Akron. We’ve gone to First Night before and always had a good time. I’m especially looking forward to Colin Dussault’s Blues Project. You can check ’em out here, too.

We’re off the Sharon, PA tonight to have our annual wingfest at Quaker Steak & Lube with friends. It’s become a tradition at this point. I’ve kept the calories down and the foods healthy throughout the day so I won’t feel too terribly guilty when I dig into those hot wings and onion rings.

Even though it’s an unofficial start, it’s a decent start. I figure if I can keep up the healthy changes a minimum of 80 percent of the time, I should be able to lose weight, get into better shape, and not feel as though I’m depriving myself.

Truthfully, eating healthy foods never makes me feel deprived, and almost always makes me feel better on all levels. Makes me wonder why the junk food can be so attractive at times when it does the complete opposite.

Look for changes around the blog soon.  I don’t like what this theme does to some of my photos.  I’m on the hunt for something better.

Setting goals

(Me, holding my sister. 1972)

So, off the bat I’ll say this: I really (really!) don’t want to turn this into a weight loss blog. Ok?


But now that both of my parents have had heart troubles, and I’m just past my 49th birthday, it occurs to me that lifestyle changes are badly needed.

I’ve been taking baby steps, as they say, for a while. It is now time for some of the bigger steps. That means setting a few goals.

Goal #1: Walk 1,000 miles in 2008.

That’s an increase of 150 miles over this year’s mileage goal, but I’m fairly certain I can do it. I’m close to 900 miles now without trying very hard once I reached 2007’s goal of 850 miles.

Goal #2: Lose one stone.

I have a friend in England who talks about weight in terms of stones. I could probably stand to lose a few boulders, but I’ll start with stones. One stone, for those that don’t know, is equal to 14 lbs.

14 lbs. would be a very good start.

Goal #3: Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

This is not that hard to do, and I can manage it most days. The great thing about eating all those fruits and veggies is that it keeps me too full for junk foods.

I have some more goals in mind, but I’m not sure I’ll be writing about them for a while (or ever). It depends on how things go.

Feel free to join me if you’re in the mood for a few lifestyle changes of your own.

Home for Christmas

(Longwood Gardens. December 2007. © Robin)

Here we are again, back in the Bogs.

I have to admit it’s good to be home. I hope we get to stay here a while. There’s nothing like sleeping in my own bed.

Mom was up, around, and making potato salad when we left New Jersey yesterday. Probably overdoing it. But she’s never been one to just sit still. I hope she learns to do a little sitting, resting, and healing. It’ll be good for her to slow down a bit.

We missed the big Christmas Eve dinner with the family yesterday. I’m sorry to have missed out on seeing some of my siblings, but still glad to be home.

We’ll be celebrating Christmas in our way this weekend when our entire little family is gathered here. I’m going to try to get the tree put up today (although at the rate I’m moving this morning, it might be tomorrow). None of the presents are wrapped yet. Cards were not sent.

That’s ok. Mom is home, my little family is healthy, I’ll be seeing my granddaughter soon, and life really isn’t too bad these days.

Merry Christmas to those of you out there celebrating it!

Eve of Christmas Eve

(Ornament at Longwood Gardens. December 2007)

We’re having a good visit in New Jersey. Mom seems to be doing pretty well (especially when you consider all that she’s been through).

It’s a good gift, seeing Mom at home and healing.

We’re heading home tomorrow, weather permitting. There’s snow coming to the Bogs. Not unusual for this time of year.

Merry, merry.

Good news

(Dad & Mom. 1967)

My sister and father called this morning with good news. My mother came through the procedure the docs have been trying to do (for over a week now), and is doing well.  From the sounds of things, there’s much improvement on all fronts.  At least for now.

I was going to take a train out there tomorrow, but have canceled my ticket/trip. If all goes well, Mom should be going home in a day or two.

M and I might drive out there this weekend.

Thank you to everyone who offered up prayers, energy, and other good vibes.  I appreciate your support and caring.