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A little too much chaos lately!  I’ve been out of town every weekend for the past month, and evidently I’m just not bothering with this sleep thing lately.

Last weekend I went to Kentucky with my parents for my uncle Scott’s funeral.  It was a grueling trip, sandwiched between two rough weeks at work, but I was glad I went and was able to be with the family.  We’ve all agreed that we need to get together for something other than funerals.  Even though we were in that part of the country for a sad reason, we did enjoy being back.  My uncle owned a massive Thoroughbred farm in the middle of horse country, and the farms in that area are just astounding.  Having worked on small farms for many years, I know how much work is involved with even a few acres; it boggles the mind to think about the amount of labor poured into these sprawling horse farms.  After the funeral, we had lunch at my uncle’s neighbor’s house, which was built in 1860.  It’s massive, and has all of the original woodwork (constructed from trees cut on the farm) and stonework (quarried from the farm).  The amount of history on that piece of land is incredible.  Whenever they plow in the spring, they turn up arrowheads and other artifacts from an old Indian camp, and they still have the old slave quarter buildings next to the house.  If the occasion hadn’t been so entirely unsuitable for it, I would have grilled them more about the place.

Aside from trying to get caught up at work, the rest of the week has been great.  I had a lovely visit to the farm with friends and got to meet their new sheep on Wednesday, and on Thursday we got together at Sunni Sky’s for ice cream and a reunion with a friend who has been deployed overseas.

This weekend I’m heading to Minneapolis for work.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip, getting in past midnight on Saturday and working all day Sunday and Monday before leaving Tuesday morning, so I’m not sure how much site-seeing I’ll get to do, but I have a list of places I may try to visit if I can squeeze them in.  I’ve been to Minnesota before only briefly, so I’d like to see as much as possible, but oh, I would just love to get some sleep too.

For some reason I’m absurdly excited about the 4th of July this year.  I’m going with some friends to the Garner fireworks, which I highly recommend.  Last year was blissful, in spite of being rained out.  Then I’m going camping at Uwharrie National Forest, which I anticipate will be a blast.




Books: Firstly, check out the article: Barnes and Noble: the final chapter?  *weeps*  I admit, though, that I’m part of the problem: I buy my books almost exclusively from secondhand shops or online, and I mainly go to B&N just to browse or camp out with some coffee.  But it’s the principle of the thing, dangit!

I am (and will be, for months) working through the ludicrous number of books I bought at the library sale.  I breezed through Tucker by Louis L’Amour, which was solidly enjoyable but nothing I haven’t said about L’Amour before.  I find the occasional piece of genre fiction very therapeutic, and everyone loves a good Western.

In a vast departure from the aforementioned, I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce on the way to the funeral.  I would like to state for the record that en route to a funeral is possibly the very worst time to read this book, particularly the long sermon on hell in the middle.  I keep trying to appreciate Joyce…and I keep despising him.  He’s talented, I grant that, but he’s also insufferable.  His main character is moody, obnoxious, and—I have a sneaking suspicion—just like Joyce.  Joyce smells like Proust, and I can’t handle more than a whiff of that navel-gazing, temperamental gloom.  If that makes me a shallow reader, so be it.  While writing this post, I discovered that Joyce and Proust met in real life, and whatever actually happened, the encounter sounds hilarious.

I’ve been hard at work trying to catch up on my reading, so this may be long!

I read The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam for the first time–not sure what I’ve been doing with my life to date.  The Fitzgerald translation is beautiful, though I hear that it’s less of a translation and more of an exercise in Fitzgerald’s own poetic talents.  Either way, I disagreed with most of the philosophy behind it strenuously and enjoyed it immensely nevertheless.  Here, have a little bit:

“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

I’d always meant to read The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, and it seemed as good a time as any.  Machiavelli makes a distressing amount of sense, and if you’re seeking to acquire power and not overly concerned with the morality of how you do it, this is the book for you.  Machiavelli himself didn’t seem to really follow his own precepts; he outlined what had worked, historically speaking, and extrapolated what would work in the future based on that, but he made no claims to rightness.  One can’t argue with his efficiency, even if it is terrifying.

In a glaring oversight on my part, I had never seen the movie The Planet of the Apes or read the book by Pierre Boulle upon which it was based.  I still haven’t seen the movie (I know, I know), but now I’ve at least read the story.  Classic scifi with more than a little social satire is right up my alley, but I’ll admit I found the protagonist annoying; I don’t think anyone really flies into rages quite that often, regardless of their circumstances, and his arrogance was off-putting.  Then again, perhaps that in itself was a part of the satire…hmm.

I read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff upon the wholehearted endorsement of Sam, and I was not disappointed!  This book is charming.  There is no other word for it.  I’ll warn you that you should ignore the back cover, at least if you have the same edition that I do, or you will be expecting something very different from what you get.  Slightly frustrated hopes aside, I still found this to be completely delightful, and I’m sorely tempted to start up a correspondence with a tiny overseas bookshop as a result of the experience.

Nine Tomorrows by Isaac Asimov is a collection of short stories (nine, as you may have guessed), all in the classic Asimov vein.  Some are fantastic, some are a bit tired and predictable, but all of them have the signature Asimov feel.  I particularly recommend “The Gentle Vultures” and “The Ugly Little Boy.”

While I was on the scifi kick, I read The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, second in his John Carter of Mars series.  There’s not a lot to differentiate this one from the rest of the series: John Carter rescues a lot of damsels in distress (Dejah Thoris can’t make it through a novel without getting kidnapped), battles a variety of Martian monsters, and saves the day seven days out of the week–or however many days of the week Mars has.  These books are a fun excursion into scifi’s history once in a while, but I don’t recommend reading the books too closely together, or you’ll just be bored stiff by the constant action and flat characters.

I’d read an excerpt of My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber before, and I finally got around to finishing it.  Thurber is entertaining, though I think my sense of humor must differ from his just enough that I don’t find him as hilarious as a few of my friends do.  Sorry, guys!  I do like Thurber, though; he had a very interesting life.  When he was a little kid, his brother shot him in the eye with an arrow during an ill-advised (and evidently unsupervised) game of William Tell.  Rough start to life, but one has to admire the kids’ dedication to realism.

I’m a feature writer for a magazine, which sounds more impressive than it is, but one of the perks is that I basically got a free trip to Asheville for the association’s annual meeting.  My trip was blink-and-miss-it quick, but still pretty great.  On the Saturday before, I drove to my parents’ place for church, then continued up to Charlotte to spend the night at Ed’s place (he moved recently).  We hung out that evening, and in the morning I drove the rest of the way to Asheville in time for the educational sessions.  I’ve never been to that sort of meeting as an attendee, and it was so nice not having to worry about exhibiting or meeting planning for a change.

At some point I looked around realized there weren’t a lot of people there my age, and one of the first sessions was about bridging the generation gap in association membership.  The speaker talked about the typical member of Generation Y—most of which didn’t apply to me.  I don’t tweet, don’t have a smart phone or an e-reader, and I’m more old-fashioned than most 50-year-olds I’ve met.  The speaker paused and asked any members of the audience born after 1981 to stand up.  Five of us stood there awkwardly as 50 or 60 middle-aged executives looked at us as though we had possibly just come in from the moon.  “And who among you is the youngest?” the speaker asked brightly.  That’s right, I was the youngest person at the entire conference.  I won a free book for being the baby, which I had to go to the front to get from the speaker.  For the rest of the conference, people would wander by me and say, “Well hello there, YOUNG lady!”  I guess there are worse things to be known for?

On Sunday night we were bussed to a downtown Asheville hotel for a swanky reception.  The food was great, but the reception included loud music, a silent auction, an open bar, and a comedy routine, the combination of which was basically the antithesis of my interests, so I took off by myself to explore Asheville in the pouring rain.  Most things were closed, but I got to see a fair amount of the place, and I found I hadn’t missed a thing when I got back.  While perusing the small gift shop for lack of anything better to do, I found a small section of used books.  The elderly fellow manning the shop said that the hotel allowed him to put a few used books out for sale.  I was very excited to find a beautiful book of rediscovered writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I didn’t even know existed, and the sweet old man gave it to me for only $3 because he was so glad to see it go to a loving home.

After the educational sessions ended on Monday, I stuck around to go ziplining, conveniently located at the hotel.  I have to say, it was a blast, and I felt sorry for the guides on my tour for having to deal with my adrenaline junkie ways.  I was put on a trip with a family on vacation, and they very kindly got a video of me zipping.  I drove home later that night, marathoning one Radiolab episode after another until my brain threatened to explode.  I’m working on listening to every episode; right now I’m working on 2010, and I highly recommend checking them all out.

I saw the new Trek movie with a bunch of friends (actually a few weeks ago, but I’ve been busy!), and for the most part I was awfully disappointed.  This review expresses my feelings pretty well.  After reading a few quotes from the Trek Powers that Be, however… *plumber’s voice*  “Well, there’s your problem, ma’am.”  Speaking of movies, here’s a rather depressing article: At the movies, the women are gone.

In happier acting-related news, check out my brilliant brother’s new website!



I have all sorts of things to write about and no time to write them, so here’s some internet to hold you over in the meantime.





“She Will Take Your Own Two Hands

To Save Your Ancient, Sorrowing Lands.” 


By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . . 

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Find out more here, or enter to win a Tales from Goldstone Wood giveaway!


You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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