A Saturday Morning Particular

My library days are turning in to quite a delightful routine. I wake up on Saturdays, shortly before my alarm goes off and usually to the sound of Jon getting ready for work. I always contemplate rolling back over and going to bed, but I manage to talk myself out of it, peel myself from the bed, and brew myself a cup of coffee. On this particular morning, I stood out on the balcony and enjoyed unseasonably crisp, morning air with my Maple-Walnut blend coffee, planning out the chores I needed to do for the day and then promptly tossing the idea away favoring a few hours with the blogosphere and a good book before the library opened instead.

I usually get to the library shortly after it opens, but the parking lot is already getting full by then. This surprises me for some reason, but it also makes me happy. Today’s patrons were the usual library gamers who gab at each other while mowing down enemies and taking advantage of the library’s wi-fi and mothers with fussy children (who I discover do not annoy me in libraries like they do in restaurants– the children, not their mothers).

This week, I chose 4 books with nothing in common:

  • Gotham Academy #1: Welcome to Gotham Academy, a graphic novel, by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl
  • New York: the Novel, a historical fiction…tome by Edward Rutherfurd. Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking when I pulled this one from the stacks.
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God, a non-fiction book about…you guessed it– God– by Rob Bell.
  • Kissing in America, a contemporary YA novel complete with a road trip (or so says the book cover) by Margo Rabb

My next stop is the grocery store where I pick up soup, a pre-made chicken salad sandwich (because I think I’ve bought a loaf of bread once while at my new apartment, and all but six slices went to waste), and a bag of bon-bons. Then I return home and relish in good books and good soup.

I intended to finish Bran New Death, a cozy mystery novel about murder and baked goods, which I picked up during my last library visit, but I was distracted by the new and shiny. Instead, I read Gotham Academy, which was fun in a novelty sort of way, and What We Talk about When We Talk About God, which I devoured in one sitting. How much I appreciated that book caught me by surprise.

For not accomplishing much, this day was well-spent. I just wish I could stretch the afternoon out for 3 or 4 more hours more. On my library days I just feel so…at peace.

Five Reasons Why Magical Cats are Awesome (and Five Reasons Why My Non-Magical Cat is Awesome)

In Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelly, amateur sleuth, Kathleen Paulson, has two magical cats, Hercules and Owen; one can turn himself invisible, one can walk through walls and closed doors, and as you can imagine, this makes searching for clues easier. Not to mention, Hercules and Owen are such charismatic kitties, that I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have magical kitties myself

Five Reasons Why Magical Cats are Awesome

1. Magical cats can walk through doors and walls (kind of like a ghost), so they could get themselves out of locked up walk-in closets if they sneaked in there while I was getting ready for work. I lost count of how many times Fargo got himself locked up in my closet only to be let out after I got home from work.
2. Magical cats could help me find important things that I’ve lost like my laundry card, my keys, or my chapstick.
2. We could solve mysteries together…if I ever picked up sleuthing as a hobby.
4. They could turn themselves invisible, so I wouldn’t have to pay pet fees at my apartment. Not sure how I would explain the litter box though…
5. I could communicate with my magical cats. Kathleen swears her cats understand her; then again, she could just be a crazy cat lady.

Five Reasons Why My Non-Magical Cat is Awesome

1. He doesn’t have expensive taste. He prefers not to eat the expensive brand of cat food, and he is capable of entertaining himself with an ocassional stray gum wrapper.
2. He is like a security system because he hates everyone but Jon and I, and he immediately starts growling and hissing when a stranger walks through the door.
3. He makes me feel good about my cooking because he wants to eat everything I make I’m eating.
4. He is the antithesis to a lap cat (and he doesn’t like to be pet), which makes the moments he curls up on my knees extra special. Granted, it’s usually in the wintertime, and he’s probably just a little chilled…
5. He sits like this in the armchair, and I find that extremely amusing:

Fargo Sitting

I Got a Library Card!

I used to walk into book stores without an agenda, spend hours perusing bookshelves, and walking out happily with $70.00 worth of books. When I walk into book stores now, I am overcome with anxiety. It’s this weird pressure that developed once I entered the book blogosphere, and it makes book shopping an awful experience. Seriously. The new releases offend my pocketbook and I’m still waiting for the hype for last years books to fizzle out and how do I find a book that hasn’t made its rounds on blogs yet anyway? And when I’m spending money, I become reluctant to venture outside my comfort zone because what if I don’t like the book? Most of the time I walk out of the bookstore with empty hands and a heavy heart.

So on Saturday I decided to go to the library instead.

I had been meaning to for the past five months, but I kept coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t go. Mostly I was afraid to go there by myself, but this Saturday was perfect library-going weather– chilly and rainy. The library staff wasn’t nearly as warm and welcoming as I expected them to be, but the atmosphere was still delightful. My library is open and spacious, and large windows line the walls letting in plenty of natural light. Perhaps the shelves aren’t stocked to the brim, but there are more than enough books to choose from. The library also has a fireplace, so I already know I will want to spend cold, winter afternoons here. And perhaps, once I pluck up enough courage, I’ll attend the writers group that meets twice a month. We’ll see…

I spent two hours studying the stacks trying to decide which books to bring home with me. My goal was to bring home books I would never pick out at a book store, books I’ve never heard of, genres I’ve never read. I’d say I was pretty successful, too. I feel like this has rejuvenated my desire to read because as soon as I got home, I brewed myself a cup of coffee, I snuggled in to my armchair, I cracked open Sleight of Paw, and devoured the first half of the book in one sitting.

Have you experienced a reading slump recently? How did you reignite your passion for books?

Fall Festivities

fall festivities(1)One More Time for Autumn

Autumn is definitely upon us in Michigan. The leaves are taking their sweet time changing colors, but the weather is lovely. The sun is warm, but the breezes are cool, and the windows are begging to be propped open in the afternoons. Last weekend, the boyfriend (that handsome fella’ in the flannel jacket) and I and two other couples took advantage of the perfect weather and spent the afternoon at a cider mill.  When we arrived, we made a beeline for beverages…along with everyone else that was there. The line of eager cider-sippers wrapped around and around, but it didn’t take too long to get ourselves a cuppa and some donuts for dipping. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted apple cider so good before. The apple flavor really shined since it didn’t have to compete with all the sugar and spices that are present in most grocery store ciders. Afterward, we rode out to the pumpkin patch and meandered amongst the vines until we found a pumpkin that called our names.

jack-o-lantern-1Then, this weekend, we had another get together. We chowed down on chili and carved our pumpkins while listening to spooky soundtracks. Mine is the kitty with a bow tie. He’s so dapper.

Batman Graphic NovelsGraphic Novels part II

I mentioned two weeks ago that I was in the process of writing up my review of Frank Miller’s Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. It’s taking me a lot longer than I expected. I find that reviewing graphic novels, especially superhero graphic novels, is challenging because I have no other personal reading experience to compare it to. Luckily, the boyfriend read my mind without evening realizing it; he just let me borrow the rest of his Batman graphic novels. There are so many to choose from!

Books On My Radar

I cannot lie. I’m not bothering with books this weekend because Amazon just delivered the video games I ordered. I’m not even looking forward to work this week because it’s only going to get in the way of me playing Final Fantasy 9 for hours on end.

playstation gamesStar Ocean Til the End of Time ♥ Final Fantasy 12 ♥ Final Fantasy 9

Do you like reading graphic novels, and do you have any you can recommend? Or, do you have a favorite superhero?


Foggy Morning n Michigan
When the seasons change, Michigan mornings become foggy. The drive into work is never fun, but this street lamp that created a halo behind a tree at 6:00 in the morning was worth a few moments of admiration.

Autumn is Here!

And I celebrated by going to a pig roast with the boyfriend (he has a friend that  hosts one every year). The friend sent the invite out about a month ago declaring September 27th was going to be the perfect day for the pig-a-palooza, and boy! was it perfect. The weather was warm for late September– about 80 degrees– and even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to provide shade, the temperature was actually quite nice (warm but breezy). The location was perfect too. We drove out to a beautiful house in the country and admired the Halloween decorations in the yard, the miniature horses cantering around in the fence behind the barn, and the trees lining the property that were just starting to turn orange, yellow, and red. A wonderful porky and bacon-y aroma wafted from the smoker situated near the barn, and pig-a-palooza goers huddled nearby, waiting for a treat with watering mouths. As the cook started carving the pig (because it really was a whole pig), people sneaked up behind him and pulled tender, juicy meat from the belly and scampered away before they got caught. I waited patiently, and it was worth it. Later, the boyfriend and I headed back in to town, and we watched the sun settle behind a cornfield. (Where must he live if “in town” includes sprawling cornfields?)

Reading Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson (illustrator), and Lynn Varley (illustrator)

Graphic Novels

Even after discussing my reading habits last week, I cracked open yet ANOTHER book– Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. This is outside of my comfort zone because 1. I don’t often read graphic novels (I read some Sailor Moon manga back in high school, but that was it) and 2. I wasn’t sure if I would like it because I’m not really knowledgeable about the world of superheroes (especially DC). Color me surprised though– I actually enjoyed it! So much so that I snagged the boyfriend’s copy of Final Crises. Thoughts to come soon!

On the Radar

I blame it on Stephen Hawking; I have my eye on these books that tell the stories of young adults turning to physics in order to make sense of the tumultuous world around them.

On My Radar - PhysicsEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane ♥ Falling into Place by Amy Zhang ♥ The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

How is Autumn treating you so far (or if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, Spring)? Do you have any traditions for this time of year?

Writer’s Block Anonymous

During my freshman year of college, I had one teacher say something to me that, for better or for worse, determined my college career. “This is a well-written piece, and I know of a small, on-campus publication that would love to print it. Have you ever thought about studying English?” The following semester, I disregarded my parents pleas to study business, and I declared a major in English. But with an Emphasis on Practical Writing. It was a compromise, you see; in case creative writing never worked out, at least I could write interoffice memos really well. And I never did submit my essay to the small, on-campus publication.  This isn’t about regret though. Not really.

Shortly after college, I stopped writing, and after I stopped writing, I stopped dreaming. I could fill up a notebook with all of my excuses, but it all boiled down to the value I placed on myself as an individual and myself as a writer, which was zilch. Aside from these sporadic blog posts, I haven’t written anything in about 4 years.

Last month, I got a new supervisor at work, and after work I stopped by her office to chit-chat. Honestly, this lady terrified me, and this was my way of testing the waters. For some reason, I mentioned that I used to love to write, but lately it’s caused me a lot of anxiety. I mentioned that fear of failure kept me from telling stories, even though I recognized this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The next morning, she approached me and told me she ruminated over our conversation from the previous day, and it upset her that I wasn’t writing anymore. She printed out a quote and stuck it to the whiteboard in my office:

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Then she told me that I need to start writing again because I’d never be satisfied otherwise. This caught me by surprise because for once, someone seemed to give a damn– someone other than my mom and dad, who have to encourage me to keep writing because they are my parents***. But, the encouragement didn’t stop there. Once a week, she asks me if I went home and wrote. She sends me encouraging words and pictures in e-mails, like the Rumi quote above. She turns accounting lessons into life lessons into reasons why I need to write.

Sometimes I forget why I write because I read articles about writing for an audience and writing for publishers and writing for money and writing for fame and writing for change. Sometimes that burden is too much because at the end of the day, most of us started writing for ourselves. Because art nourishes in a way that accounting never could. So, last weekend I wrote. On the back side of neon orange-colored printer paper. With an equally orange pen that had the perfect amount of inkiness to slide across the page with ease but without coating the side of my hand with black smudges. My hand started to cramp after just a few minutes because I haven’t written with such vigor in a long time.


*** It’s like when I was really young, I used to say I was going to be a tiger when I grew up. Or a cowboy-girl. I’m certain it was met with, “Honey, you can be anything you put your mind to”. I obviously could never become a tiger, but good parents don’t discourage big dreams. (Cowboy-girl, on the other hand, is still a potential job title that I may or may not strive for once I gain a little more work experience.)


Spring has sprung!

The mornings are crisp, the afternoons are warm and smell like freshly cut grass, and the evenings feel soggy like a rain shower is on its way.  Pink and white flowers bud on the branches of bushes and trees, and when the wind picks up, small petals blow off the trees and dance in the streets.  From the side of the road, Sandhill Cranes watch me as I pull into the driveway after I’ve worked all day.  At night they call each other in the marshes in the backyard along with the bullfrogs and the green frogs.  There is something so prehistoric about the sound they make.

With each change of the season, I am reminded of why I love Michigan so much.  This is one of the most beautiful and splendid states I’ve ever had the fortune to live in.

As I made my way to the car yesterday morning, I was thinking it would be a nice day to sit on the back porch reading books when a red-winged blackbird interrupted by thoughts.  “O-ka-leeeeeeee” is what the bird said to me.

Wandering Through North Dakota

Walking in North Dakota

After reading Greyhound by Steffan Piper, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my most recent cross-country trip.  And by recent, I mean a trip I made in August 2008.

I’d always wanted to ride a train.  There is something so fantastic about trains, assuming of course you don’t live right by a railroad where a train roars through at 3:00 in the morning as I did for the past three years.  Still, to me, they seem like magnificent, old relics of the past.  Or even better, they are full of magic and take people to places like Hogwarts!  But, who has time to take a train anymore?  With business meetings to attend or families to help take care of, taking a 23 hour train ride to a destination is preposterous especially when planes cut the travel time down by 21 hours.  So, when my brother invited me to visit him in Cavalier, North Dakota, I decided I’d make an experience out of it and take a train cross-country.

The train was a mammoth!  I’d only ever seen the piddly Amtrak that came through town– from Chicago to Detroit.  But, the one I rode from Chicago to Fargo was a double-decker and incredibly spacious!  I’d packed all sorts of things to keep me entertained, but not once during the 23 hours trip did I get bored.  Looking out the window as we passed through each state was entertainment enough.  It was so beautiful.  I only wish I would have had the courage to find the lounge car with the big picture windows. What a thrill it would have been to see the land like this.

I felt pretty accomplished knowing I could check North Dakota off my list of States to Visit Before I Die (unofficial name).  The land was so flat and sparse which made the North Dakota sky seem extra big compared to Michigan’s sky.  The only things that occupied the sides of the road were sprawling fields of sunflowers, abandoned farmhouses, power lines, and…well, actually, that’s it.  There was much more in Fargo, but I was hours north of any city that would be considered “big”; Pembina county only had a population of 1,500.  There wasn’t a whole lot to see or do, but I’d go back in a heart beat.  It was nice to be away from my hectic college town.

My brother has since relocated to Colorado; he moves around a lot because he’s in the Air Force.  He much prefers Colorado over North Dakota since there is much more to do.  I’ll actually be visiting him at the end of March.  Sadly, I’ll be stuffed onto a plane instead of a train.  I dislike planes.  They fill me with such fear!

Have you ever ridden on a train?  What did you think of it?  Have you ever made a cross-country trip before?