Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Snapshot - Layla the Water Shepherd

Layla loves the water.
Honestly, by 10 am she begins ringing the bell on our back door to go outside.
I put a bell on the back door when she was a puppy and trained her to ring it when she needed to potty.  
Wow, right?
GSDs are incredibly smart dogs...have I mentioned that before? ;)

Anyhoo, she's learned that we will come running when the bell rings; she runs out as soon as the door is opened and takes off for the steps into the pool, where she stands and looks at me as if to say, "Is it time yet?"
If anybody begins the process of putting on a swimsuit, she starts running through the house like a crazy person dog.

Layla's favorite water games include:
1. Throw the ball for me so I can swim to the deep end and bring it back to you.
2. Splash the water in my face so I can try to eat it.
3. Jump off the diving board so I can "catch" you and escort you back to the shallow end.
4.  Splash the water up high so I can jump up like a Great White Shark and try to catch the splash.

In the photo below, she is playing Game #4 :)

Layla takes her responsibility as lifeguard very seriously as well.  She never takes her eye off my youngest.  If someone else is playing with the youngest, and she starts yelling, Layla comes running.  
Lizzie, sunning in the picture below, is not allowed any closer to the pool than this.  Lizzie almost drowned in our pool this past winter and would have if Layla had not alerted us that something was wrong.  

Enjoying my summertime at home with my family!
How bout you??

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

I had so much fun last week on my first Feature and Follow Friday that I'm back for more this week!!!!

Go on over and visit the ladies at Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View for more about the hop and do not, do not forget to stop by this week's feature blog Head Stuck in a Book :) 

This week's Question:

Q: If you could "unread" a book, which one would it be? Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time? Or because it was THAT bad?

My Answer:

I didn't even have to think very long about this answer because I just finished reading Laurell K. Hamilton's 21st book in the Anita Blake vampire hunter series, Kiss the Dead...and HATED it.  
Yes, I've read all the others.
Yes, I've liked most of the others (why on earth would I still be reading otherwise??)
There have been one or two that I really didn't care for...but this one...I could have saved myself some time. There's nothing in this one that I couldn't have skipped...
I hated this one so much that I'm having a difficult time writing the review...I don't write many negative reviews bc I simply don't read books that I don't think I'll like.

This one's brand new so I haven't read any other reviews yet...It will be interesting to see what other Anita Blake fans think.
Sorry, but this one's a stinker.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
Holt, 2009

Format? oversized paperback bought on Amazon

Why?  I'm trying to clean off my TBR shelves some this summer, this one was short and I'd read about a billion other reviews that talked about how funny it was.
What Now? After I lend it to a couple of friends, it's going on the keeper shelf.  What a hoot!!

Golden Lines

My father may actually be unaware that he is good-looking.  He is a theologian who believes in a loving God, a servant heart, and a senior discount.  Would God be pleased if we spent an unnecessary thirty-one cents at McDonald's?  I think not.

Call me old-fashioned, but whenever I see those wire-fortified ribbons, I have a secret stab of nostalgia for old-timey ribbon, the kind whose ends flop like spaniel ears.   I'm suspicious of unnaturally perky ribbon.

In the dining room we all gathered to pay homage to Deena's imaginative decor, where no surface had escaped yuletide festivity.  Its attractions included a wreath made of prodigious shiny balls, and a preponderance of more free-rolling balls the size of grape tomatoes that Deena had scattered, carelessly, among the plates and goblets.  She had also affixed a tiny silver ball to the stem of every wineglass - not that we would be drinking wine.  Mennonites tend toward militant sobriety.  But there was always sparkling apple juice for holiday celebrations.

From the kids' table in the other room came the sound of one of my many nephews whining.  There was a slap and an impatient reprimand from the oldest granddaughter, Phoebe, who was now old enough for Uggs and eye-rolling.

Once in grad school, an angry feminist who called herself Lilith but whose real name was Barb attended a swim party in an itsy bitsy swimsuit.  There was a general sense that she had done this on purpose to make everyone else uncomfortable.  From the bikini bottom exploded an epic, wiry bush.  This was pubic hair on a Richter scale, hair gone wild, hair raised by wolves.   It was hair that had taken over her entire southern region, like kudzu.

When my mother forbade me to dance in that talent show, I was actually grateful to be a Mennonite.  This is sort of like falling in love with your kidnapper.

Is it just me or is there something richly satisfying about filling jam jars as you pick up the alto to "In the Sweet By and By?"

My visit was drawing to a close, but my mother continued to surprise.  One of the greatest surprises to proximate auditors was her contribution of horatory flatulence.  Loud and astonishing were her expostulations, like the speeches of Daniel Webster.  These outbursts had become so frequent, yet so casual, that she no longer apologized.  She treated them stoically, with great inclusivity and tolerance.

Mary Loewen Janzen would have given the angelic nineteenth-century Marmee from Little Women a run for her money.


After the breakup of her 15 year marriage to a bi-polar, bi-sexual fella named Nick who leaves her for a guy named Bob and a serious car accident that leaves her without control of her bladder for months as well as terrible scars,  Rhoda Janzen decides to go home to heal.  Home is back to the Mennonite family and community that she separated herself from years earlier.  Nested comfortably within her family so she can write and earn some much needed cash, Janzen takes time to soul search.  Who is she?  What does her life mean? Where does she go from here? and What does it mean to be a person with a Mennonite background in a non-Mennonite world and vice versa?  No subject is off limits (family car trips, gassey relatives, her failed marriage to an psychologically disturbed person, faith, God, food, suicide, virtue, just to name a few)  in this deeply touching and hilarious memoir.

What I Liked 

Humor - OMG this book is hilarious.  Wait...please...this book is soooo funny!  There were a couple of parts that made me laugh so much that I was crying...I'm so not kidding.  

Rhoda's relationship with her mother - Even though Rhoda leaves the Mennonite faith, her mother, still very much within the faith, honors her wishes.  Her mother gives her the space she needs and doesn't question her choices.  Home is very much Rhoda's harbor; she is allowed to dock in the harbor when the seas are choppy and venture out into the open waters and return when she needs more strength.  

the vocabulary - cattywampus, hortatory condescension, Gatsbyesque scope, cognoscenti, malapropistic, intestinal turbulence, social rupture, hagiographic literature, solipsistic slacker, ratiocinative point of view, adiaphorous morality, pederasts and serial killers, quintessentially American bildungsroman, and on and on and on.

Description - I'm a fan of description done well...and boy does Rhoda ever do this well as you can see by some of the Golden Lines above.  You can see, feel, touch and/or smell her descriptions.  They add to the story and keep you riveted, waiting to see what she's going to say next :)

What I Didn't Like

The Cat Who...series by the late Lilian Jackson Braun - Janzen makes fun of this series at one point in the book...I LIKE this sweet little series :(

I am not easily offended...and Janzen never offended me, but there were a few times that I winced...particularly with her easily sarcastic way of handling parts of the Christian faith.  While I enjoyed this book immensely and will and have already recommended it to many of my friends, there are a few friends I would leave out of that recommendation...friends who would be offended.  

Overall Recommendations

If you can handle a no holds barred look at the dysfunctional life of a newly divorced, ex-Mennonite woman, go for it.  I'm glad I did :):)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Top 10 Books on my Summer TBR List

The ladies over at the Broke and the Bookish have asked us this week to pinpoint 10 books from our TBR shelves that we will definitely read this summer:

I've taken some time off this summer.  It was really a necessity...time off or insanity.
I already decided that there was no better time than now to tackle my TBR shelves...I'd also signed up for the annual Challenge over at Roof Beam Reader's blog, so I might as well start chipping away.  
Gulp...I'm embarrassed to show you 1 of my TBR shelves :(

I've been making steady progress, but I'm still ashamed to say that these are some of the beauties still waiting:
1.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson - I've been trying to trick myself with this see, the longer I put it off, the more I can keep pretending that I don't have to admit the story is over :(

2.  The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Isles - I'm a Greg Isles fan and specifically a Penn Cage fan...I don't go all mooney over many characters...but I'd marry this guy...oh yeah.  This is one I want to take down when I can just read...straight through...with no interruptions.  Just me and Penn ;)

3.  Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean - Um, I love my GSD,, right??  

4.  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - I know, I know, this one is sooooo good...I'll get to it, I promise!

5.  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - another one everybody's read except me :(

6.  The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman - very interesting that I have several "Wife" novels on this list...this one was a gift to me from a blogging buddy...I. must. read. it. now.

7.  A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - extra, extra embarrassing about this list is that I was just commenting on someone's blog the other day about Goolrick's new book, Heading Out to Wonderful.  I commented that I hadn't read A Reliable Wife but needed to put it on my WishList. 
Um, then I found it...last's already on the TBR...blushing now.

8.  Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner - this one comes highly recommended from some bloggers whose choices I take very seriously.  

9.  Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen - another highly recommended choice...but one I want to take slow and savor.

10.  Great House by Nicole Krauss - As I was reviewing Picture This last week, I actually thought about this book.  In Picture This, the house is given a perspective...not very well, I'm afraid...but it made me anxious to read this one where the house's perspective is done very well...or so I've heard.

Well, there you have it...I'm going to be a very busy girl this summer...and I'm gonna love every minute of it :):)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Media Monday - I have a confession to make...

Since the HBO original show True Blood began, I have been a fan.

That's not my confession.

I had read all of the Charlaine Harris books published before the tv series began and have read all of the rest of them up to this point, so watching the series before reading the books is not my confession either.

How I watched the series up till this season is my confession.

Ahem, My name is Patti and I watched an illegal download or two.
I couldn't stand it; I had to see it.  I couldn't stand it that the show aired and everybody else was talking about stuff I knew nothing about.  Absolutely could not stand it.

I couldn't live with my thievery anymore so guess what I did 2 weeks ago before the Season 5 premiere aired on Sunday, June 5??
I ordered HBO.
Yep, they got me.
I gave into the peer pressure and the taunting of my other friends who have had HBO from the beginning as well as the media marketing trap so well done by the folks at HBO.

Should you read the books before watching the series? Um, yes...duh.  What did you expect me to say??

Do you have to in order to understand what's going on?  I think you need some background before jumping into Season 5, but there are enough differences between the books and tv series, that after the first couple of books, the series became pretty much its own entity.

You don't really need a synopsis...vampires, blood, werewolves, shape shifters, fairies, gory stuff, series is on HBO for a reason, people.  But, it's edgy and addictive if you like dark stories and very very handsome leading men...and handsome doesn't even begin to cover it.

My personal favorite...Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton...

An incredibly close 2nd favorite...Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman

And, of course the woman they both want...the kick butt heroine with the funny name, Sookie.

The love triangle...Eric, Sookie, and Bill...

A triangle made even more intriguing since Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are married in real life and expecting their first child!  :)

ok, nuff said...
Watch this series with  me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day - My daddy

Today's the day that we honor our fathers. 
Our fathers - those guys who traded in their fun-loving, wild and wooly ways to become family men ;)

I've honestly thought about this a lot since my two oldest daughters have entered college. 
 I don't have sons, but I think of many of their friends as my own kids.
Those are the ones I watch slowly enter manhood and think about how my daddy was only a couple of years older than they are when he became my daddy.
Girls, I think, are a little some ways we are supposed to be all nurturey and raise babies.  
They're supposed to be the breadwinners, the head of the family, the one who takes care of everything.
Can you even imagine the pressure?  
Especially if you're only 20?
My oldest daughter is 19, and I can only imagine her with a somewhere trying to make it on her own.  Nope. Can't even begin to imagine it.

My mom and dad did this.
I've mentioned before that I've never had to wonder if I'm loved.
It's true.

My dad didn't mind that I wasn't a boy.
He didn't mind me hanging around whenever I the woods looking at beaver carvings, washing out test tubes and beakers in the lab where he worked, traipsing through the wildlife refuge where we lived, scouting deer and other wildlife, landscaping jobs, the greenhouses to water the seedlings, and just being wherever he was...not necessarily doing anything special, just being.

My dad encouraged me to grow up and become my own person...not something girls were necessarily expected to do in the late 60's and throughout the 70's.
My dad always said that if I could be a strong individual, I would be a stronger partner someday.
But, I had to know who I was first.
My dad is a math and science guy...he couldn't understand why I couldn't understand algebra :/
But, he never questioned when my degree area of choice was education, liberal arts, and eventually English.
It was about a degree...get it.  Didn't matter what it was in...just get it.
Always be able to stand on your own two feet...always know that no matter what, you'll have options.
Make sure you have options.  You may not ever need them, but at least you'll have them.
There were times especially during the 8 year marathon dissertation process that honestly, if it hadn't been for my dad's profound belief that I could do it, I would have quit.
The time or two that I actually thought about it, I only thought about it for a second because there was no way I was making that phone call.  All I had to do was imagine my dad being disappointed in me.  Don't get me wrong; he would have accepted it and not put any negative pressure on me...that belief is inside of me though...I'm supposed to be able to do this...I've always been expected to do this.  I've grown up with the knowledge that I would do this.  So, I did it.  

My dad is a professional who has re-invented himself several times...professor, administrator, consultant, community fund raiser, preacher.  He's taught me not to be afraid of what's around the corner.  Just because one stage of life ends, that doesn't mean it's over.  Just move on to the next one.  Look at the next step as an adventure.  What do I get to do next?? 
I just really began to see these lessons last year when my oldest graduated from high school and moved into the dorm.  Yes, I was a little sad...but I was also ok...and it is ok.  And, my life goes on just as theirs does.  I don't want them to be little anymore...and I don't wish for the past.  This is the way life moves and I'm ok with that.  So, let's just get on with it.  My dad taught me that.

My dad also taught me to appreciate the world around me.  Without being a fanatic in any way, my dad is a conservationist who respects life and the natural world.  I will always have some kind of outside space in my garden, my porch, my swing.  I'm not afraid to walk in the woods, but I know I don't need to wear my flip flops :)   I also know I don't need to go in very far because it is possible to get lost (really happened to us once...but I was never scared because I had every faith in the world that he'd get us out).  
I will always be able to smell the seasons as they come and go.  I can sit for hours and just look up into the trees watching the squirrels and thinking about how their lives are bound by those seasons and the natural order of things.  I may not like survival of the fittest and nature's way of culling the weak, but I understand and respect it.  My dad taught me that too.

My dad has taught me a lot of things, but what's truly amazing to me is that he's always been this person...even all the way back when he was just a kid himself.  Take a look at these old photos and you'll see for yourself:

People say women marry the kind of guy their father husband, the father of my children, makes me feel secure, truly loved, respected and proud.  As much as I love him, I know though that I can stand on my own.
Yep, that's my dad.

I love you, Daddy :)