Thursday, April 30, 2009
Stay with me as I reveal my latest reading adventures!
First, this interesting little magazine. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Hubby enjoys walking around saying "Ellery!" for some reason!).
I picked up two issues of this jewel at the local school district book sale. Having never seen the magazine before - or knowing of its existence - I was intrigued. This volume is packed with short mystery stories. Not all of them are fabulous but, they are interesting and short enough to read in those odd little chunks of time you have in life - waiting for the doctor, in that ten minutes before leaving for church.
They still publish this magazine and I thought about subscribing but I already have too much reading material in the form of magazines to tackle each month so I think I will just read the two I have. Maybe somewhere down the road I will have the time to read it every other month when it is published.
Next is a wonderful read that was also picked up at the school book sale. Code Name: Baby by Christina Skye.
The cover of this book in real life is a cheery, lemon yellow that got washed out in the scanning process.
Christina Skye is a new author to me and will certainly be on my reading list again soon. I absolutely loved this book (and the next book also by Christina Skye)! These books will be on my radar as I continue in my book reading/buying journeys.
In this novel, a highly trained Navy SEAL, Wolfe Houston, is on a mission to protect a female dog trainer, Kit O'Halleran, and the dogs she is training. These are no ordinary dogs and Wolfe is no ordinary Navy SEAL (if there were such a thing). He is part of a secret group of men who have special training and are the government's secret weapon. The dogs are special also and have some very interesting skills.
This book was one which I didn't want to put down. It is a tantalizing mix of romance, mystery, and thriller. In fact, as soon as I finished this book, I dug out the other book by Christina Skye that was hiding in my book stash and read it. This is an author and a series I could really get hooked on!
Speaking of Christina Skye and her books, Code Name: Bikini is another of her wonderful creations.
This time the romance, mystery, thriller takes place on a cruise ship. The Navy SEAL is Trace O'Halloran (the brother of the dog trainer from the previous book) who is protecting a top secret package being transported on the cruise ship. At least, that is all he is originally supposed to be protecting. He ends up protecting the ship's pastry chef, a beautiful woman named Gina Ryan who has secrets of her own.
Trace is another of those "special" SEALS and has amazing abilities even while recovering from injuries sustained on his last mission.
This book is another "can't put it down" read. Interesting and full of twists and turns and unusual and unexpected plot events. I HAVE to get more of these books!
My next book is Tramp by Marne Davis Kellogg. This book is a Marshall Lilly Bennett Mystery so I am thinking there must be more books written which revolve around the main character of Marshall Lilly Bennett. What do you think?
Another author I was unfamiliar with, Kellogg writes about a small town in Wyoming which finds itself in the middle of a murder mystery. Marshall Bennett, a former police officer and member of a very wealthy family, dives right into the thick of things to solve the mystery.
This story was very enjoyable and bordered on that coveted "can't put it down" status. The title also raised some eyebrows with my classmates when they saw me reading it. Contrary to their delusions, this isn't a "how-to" book for becoming a Tramp! It is, however, a book worth picking up.
Here comes a book from a favorite author, Nora Roberts! Tribute loosely follows Roberts' recipe for her books. There is a woman and a man and a mystery. Of course, everything works out in the end which makes Roberts' books a good, fun read.
Cilla McGowan, a former child star moves to a small town with the intention of revitalizing the farmhouse which was her grandmother's favorite retreat. After her grandmother, a famous movie star, committed suicide at a young age, Cilla's mother, also in show business, inherited the house but allowed it to slip into disrepair.
Across the street from Cilla's farm house lives a handsome bachelor who writes and illustrates graphic novels, Ford Sawyer. In the best Nora Roberts tradition, Ford is yummy! He takes an interest in Cilla and ends up involved in the mystery and danger which surrounds both Cilla and the farm house.
Tribute is a good, fast read with enough plot twists to make the "recipe" book seem fresh and exciting. Another hit for Nora Roberts and another good book for the light mystery genre lover!
My final book for this session is another plucked up at the district book sale. White Oleander by Janet Fitch is also an Oprah's Book Club selection. Normally, I avoid those but this one looked interesting so I risked it.
The main reason I avoid Oprah's picks is that they are all pretty "heavy" topic-wise. This book is no exception but the beautifully descriptive writing seems to lighten the burden of the story enough to make it a good read.
Astrid, the main character, is the daughter of a brilliant yet emotionally unsteady poet who goes to prison for killing a man who dumps her. With no family besides her mother, Astrid is thrown into the foster care system when her mother is taken away. She experiences the bad, the horrible, and the good of the system and in the process grows into her own person.
There are many times when this book runs riot over the reader's emotions, like the time Astrid finds herself in a foster home where she is never fed enough and resorts to eating food out of the garbage can at the school cafeteria. Also, the yearning Astrid feels for a "normal" life, a "normal" mother, and most importantly, for love, is so poignant it brings tears to the reader's eyes.
While I don't recommend this book for a "light" read, it is a wonderfully written, engaging book worth reading.
Also interesting was the use of White Oleander, a plant which grows everywhere in my neck of the woods, as a lethal poison!
That is it for this book session. Now go out there and read, people! Read!
Voice Update: After some serious massage from Susan which has left a couple sore spots on my neck, my voice is rocking and rolling. I got some new exercises to work on not tensing up while trying to say certain sounds - especially the "t" sound at the beginning of words. I am working on them diligently so far!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Yesterday we had a plumbing test done on our house AND the heating/AC system was checked. Two different people!
Hubby came home at noon to take care of the people while I trotted off to class. Fun, fun! My Deaf Culture teacher, Kelly, brought her newborn son, Kevin, into class for a little bit. He is soooo tiny - only a week old! How adorable he was!
Anyway, Hubby stayed home to let the plumber and the HAC guys into the house and to supervise them. The plumbing test was to make sure that the plumbing didn't develop any leaks as the result of the whole foundation work situation. No leaks!!!
However, there was a slight problem with the HAC. Apparently everything was fine until the guy finished looking at the units inside (located in our attic) and went out to check the outside units. We have two AC units - a pretty large one for the downstairs and a small one for the upstairs bonus room. The downstairs unit kicked on just fine but the upstairs unit didn't start.
So - the guy checks the breakers to see if one was blown. Nope. He goes upstairs to check on the unit again and finds a chewed wire. Uh-oh!
When he had put the metal panel back on the unit it had apparently touched the chewed, exposed wire and arched causing the circuit board in the unit to "fry." Doesn't that sound great? We got a new circuit board (luckily, covered under our maintenance plan) but . . . the unit still didn't work! Now the guy was a bit frustrated! He messed around for a bit and then finally had to call his boss.
By this time, it was about 5:30 and Hubby was thinking that we might have to invite the HAC guy to eat dinner with us!
The boss came out and together the two men finally figured out that one wire wasn't connected. They connected it and . . . voila! Perfect!
So - our HAC system is working well but . . . we have a mouse in our attic!
Hubby is plotting how to rid us of our unwanted house guest and I am wondering just how a mouse got in the attic.
Doesn't that sound like fun?
Skor update: Well, he is doing okay. He has had four doses of his meds and only one of them ended up partly on his head! His gums, which were REALLY red at the vet's are now pink again (which could mean that he has an immune problem!) but his "growth" hasn't shown any signs of shrinking yet. Maybe it is too early????
Voice Update: I am going to Speech today. No doubt Susan will find my throat nice and crunchy! I have honestly tried! I have!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
You remember this cute little bugger?
Do you remember the last time I had to take him to the vet? It resulted in this . . .
Well, Skor and I made the trip to the vet's office again yesterday afternoon. No - he doesn't have another cone on his head - thank goodness! However, he DOES need antibiotics again for at least a week.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me explain. About a week or so ago, I noticed that Skor had a sore on the back of his neck. It was about the size of the tip of my pinkie and had no hair on it. My first thought was ringworm! Yikes.
Then I looked a bit closer. It wasn't circular and didn't have the darker ring that ringworm normally presents with. Whew!
I was concerned but . . . maybe it was just a place where Miss Cleo got him with her claws while they were playing. I decided to keep an eye on it . . . just in case.
Last Saturday I noticed that the spot was bigger - at least twice as big. Again, it was hairless so there was a pretty big patch of baldness on the back of Skor's neck. You couldn't really see it unless you looked because the other hair (long hair!) covered the spot. I told Hubby that I thought I should take Skor to the vet that day.
Hubby, without even looking at the spot, said we should put neosporin on it and wait. Well . . . we waited two days until Hubby actually caught a glimpse of the spot. Then he told me that he thought I should take Skor to the vet right away.
So . . . yesterday I loaded Skor into the carrier and off we went to see Dr. Bowe. Dr. Bowe is our favorite vet - he is so nice and really loves cats. Dr. Bowe took a look. And then another. He got a needle and tried to suck some "stuff" out of the spot. He then took the "stuff" he got and looked at it under the microscope.
Terrific, right? Wrong.
Doc had no clue what the spot was. He didn't find anything conclusive under the microscope. In fact, Doc was mystified about what in the world the spot was. We talked about a couple of different possibilities including an infected scratch/bite from Miss Cleo, a sore from the collar (which is temporarily off), an infected insect bite. Finally, Doc decided to give Skor antibiotics and a steroid shot.
Which means that twice a day I get to round up Skor and shoot liquid down his thoat - what fun! Let me tell you - he doesn't like it one darn bit!
Oh - did I mention that Doc was also concerned about Skor's teeth? Skor's gums are really red and there was no sign of plaque on the teeth. Doc is worried that Skor has some sort of immune problem where the body "turns" on the teeth.
Super. Why did we want another cat?
Ohhh..... that is right. He is so darn adorable and sweet!
We love our little kitty!
Voice Update: Well . . . I am not doing too well with my massage. I know, I know. I do know better but let me tell you - the whole back thing (which is pretty much better now) really set me back. My voice is still sounding good but my throat is crunchy, crunchy, crunchy!
Monday, April 27, 2009
It is a beautiful, rainy Monday! I know that most people don't like rain or Mondays but, what can I say? I enjoy both and having the two together . . . bliss! It was really kicking up a nice storm this morning - windy and LOTS of lightening. In fact, I was worried that I would get blown away or struck by lightening. Luckily, it didn't start raining until later. In fact, I was thinking it would never get started.
I have a LOT of work to do for class today so . . . I am going to keep this post really short so I get to work.
Meanwhile, I will enjoy the sound of the rain tapping on the roof while I work.
Have a fabulous day!
Voice Update: Doing well. While I lay on the exercise ball I do some massage. I haven't been doing as much massage as I should. Nuts!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The netting is light and flies around in the wind (it is always windy here!) so I devised some "weights" to hold it down. My weights are made of five nails and a twist tie. The deployment of several of these weights around the perimeter of the pot should (keep your fingers crossed) keep the netting in place. We will see if this plan works to foil the berry munching birds so Hubby and I can get some berries.
Here is the pot of "flowers" I planted. I, being pretty ignorant of plants, didn't know the plant in the center would take over like this. Oh well, it is pretty and blooming its heart out!
These little purple flowers are along the side with some ivy. There is the same plant on the other side of the pot with white flowers. Pretty!
See these colorful pots and the bags of potting soil? This is what made my back very, very angry with me when I moved them (the soil - the pots are plastic and very light). Bad Trisha!
Around the corner of the house, here is my "new" flowerbed. It is looking pretty good from this angle!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Let me tell you that I got the nicest comment from the mayor of Ypsilanti, Michigan inviting me to visit anytime. I also got a comment from Dan who was born in Ypsilanti and told me that he thinks it was named after a Greek soldier. Interesting. I can tell that Ypsilanti is a very friendly place!
Remember when I said yesterday that my back was feeling better. Apparently, I spoke too soon! Yesterday I went through my classes and thought things were going well. I took a few aspirin and was positive that would be enough.
By the time I got home, my back was in agony! So much so that I had Hubby give me a massage and rub some Aspercreme into the area. I popped some more aspirin (probably should have taken one of the muscle relaxers but I wasn't thinking really clearly at the time) and tried to get some sleep. It was difficult to get to sleep because I was so uncomfortable!
This morning my back is a bit better (I say cautiously) but is still hurting AND my neck is stiff from sleeping in a weird position - the only way I was comfortable. The stiff neck isn't too good for my voice since the muscles in my throat are a bit tight now. Rats!
I am planning on heading to the Deaf Action Center to visit my friends this morning so I can't let my back get in my way! Hopefully, it will let me go and visit and then I can come home and lay down for a while. I have gotten over my Agatha Christie aversion and am working my way through some of her stories in podcast form. They are fun to listen to. I can just imagine them being broadcast over the radio and families sitting around the radio listening to them together in the evening.
I always thought it would be neat to live in that time - before our world became so over-run with cell phones and hand held computer games which make family time these days so rare.
Voice Update: My throat is crunchy - surely due to the stiff neck situation. I will massage myself and see what is going on. I will work this out . . . I will work this out!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
In lab yesterday, I was watching a video in which people fingerspelled different geographical locations. You know, cities, states, road names, etc. I had to read the names correctly and tell a lab assistant. If I got the name right, I could move on to the next example on the video. If I got it wrong I had to rewind and watch the spelling again .
Well, I am getting pretty darn good at the whole receptive thing. I got pretty much every single example correct. I was cruising. Until I got to example number 23.
Example number 23 showed a man telling where his mother lived. I tried and tried and tried to figure out what in the world this man was spelling. For the life of me, I just COULD NOT figure out where this guy's mother lived.
I watched that segment over and over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and over. I was really stumped.
Luckily, after my nine millionth attempt to figure out the city name, the lab assistant told me. It was Ypsilanti.
Ypsilanti? Where in the world? The lab assistant had no idea where this city was either. I wrote the name down and then decided to look it up on the computer when I got home.
Imagine my surprise when I googled Ypsilanti and found out it is in Michigan and is actually very important in automotive history! It is where the Tucker Torpedo was born. It is the home of the Kaiser cars. Of course, I only know about the whole Tucker car thing from the movies and Kaiser cars . . . never heard of them but I guess the company was bought and eventually became GM.
Ypsilanti? Who invented that name?
Editor's Note: I am sure that Ypsilanti is a WONDERFUL place to live and full of interesting things. It is the home of Eastern Michigan University and I really don't want any college students thinking I am "dissing" the place. I had simply never heard of it and the spelling, you must admit, is a bit wacky!
Voice Update: Today is a day when I don't feel like talking . . . to anyone for any reason! My voice is doing well but I just don't feel like making the effort. Who would ever think that talking was an effort? Welcome to the SD world, my friends. Welcome!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
While Kelly is spending time with her new son we had a wonderful substitute teacher in class who is a CODA - Child of Deaf Adults - and an interpreter. We got to ask her many questions about what it was like growing up in the Deaf World. Fascinating.
One more bright spot in my day so far . . . the Hostas that the foundation crew literally sat on . .. one of them has new leaves this morning! It looks like it will make it. The other is still struggling but . . . there is hope!
Now, if my back will only cooperate today!
Voice Update: Rockin'and Rollin' despite the fact that I don't really want to talk too much because I am cranky due to my back. I snuck in my massage last night while in classes - not to hard to do during movies - and things are nice and loose.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Let me just tell you that yesterday was a good and a bad day. I went to the ASL lab and spent about two hours talking to the lab assistants and watching a video for class. Fun. Then I headed to Home Depot to buy some pots for the as-of-yet unplanted bougainvillea sitting on my porch.
They have all kinds of neat, brightly colored, plastic pots! Cool beans! I bought one in bright turquoise and one in yellow. I think they will contrast nicely with the pink blooms of the plant. I also bought a planter for lettuce - the seeds I got from the NSDA symposium - and two BIG bags of potting soil.
This is where things get a bit . . . not so good.
I moved the soil by myself. BIG mistake.
You may recall that I was having some back problems earlier this week (think weekend). Let's just say that moving the soil really let me know that my back doesn't appreciate that kind of stuff when it isn't feeling up to par. Now my back is absolutely killing me. Okay, it isn't technically killing me but . . . . it sure feels that way!
Why do I do these things to myself?
Oh well! Now I get to go and sit in class for about 7 hours. That should help things, don't you think?
Voice Update: My voice is still going strong. My throat is getting nice and loose even though the back issues are tightening up my neck muscles a bit. I am really giving them a workout to try to keep things loose.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Well, it is Monday again. Isn't it interesting how they cycle by so quickly? The weekend flies and then suddenly . . . Monday.
Not that I have anything against Mondays, per se. It is only fascinating to me how quickly the cycle works. I do have to admit that Mondays aren't quite the heavy burden they were when I was working but . . . interesting.
Mondays are a time for renewal, in a way. When we start diets, when do we start? Monday. When we have a new exercise routine to get into . . . Monday. Turning over that "new leaf?" Monday.
Everything is new on Monday. The whole week is stretched out in front of you like a lovely, blank slate. Anything can happen. Mondays are filled with hope. Hope that the week will go well. Hope that something exciting will happen. Hope that the weekend will come quickly.
Why has Monday gotten such a bad rap?
Voice Update: Doing well. I am massaging and exercising. In fact, this weekend I was doing my cyclical reading - where I read on the inhale and exhale without stopping specifically to breathe. It is a neat party trick and also relaxes me and gets those vocal cord muscles working.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I see the look you give me
When you hear me talk,
But stop for just a minute
And consider the path that I must walk.
Our world is based on language,
A very noisy place,
My frail and broken SD voice
Really sets me back a pace.
I can not get a burger
At the local burger joint
Because it's only drive in . . .
For me there's just no point.
Telephones are evil things,
They just won't pick me up.
And other people who can't hear me,
Are annoyed and then hang up.
Automatic voice reactive menus
Make things easy for so many
But when I try to say an option,
I don't end up getting any.
Just stop a minute and imagine
If you couldn't use your normal voice
For you it would simply be an exercise,
For me, there is no other choice.
Learn some more about my voice
Before you scoff and scorn
Learn about what SD is
And how I've had to mourn.
This world has many obstacles
For any who are impaired
It isn't only those whose problems show
Whose world leaves them timid and scared.
Yes, I see the look that you give me
When you hear my SD voice
But instead of cowering, I will educate
Standing up for those without a choice.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Hubby and I are planning on a cruise this summer and we will be returning to Kodiak, which we visited last summer. Since we are returning, I emailed a man I met in Kodiak who makes things from Salmon leather. Yes, that is right, salmon leather - salmon skin turned into a kind of leather.
Interesting, right? I thought so!
When we were in Kodiak last summer we wandered into a little craft fair kind of thing. It had several locals who were selling their wares and Jeff, the salmon leather guy, was there. He had some nice stuff and I was intrigued.
You may remember that I am into books and bookmarks. I enjoy buying bookmarks, things I use all the time, as souvenirs of places I go. I asked Jeff if he had bookmarks. He hadn't thought of making bookmarks. Currently, I am emailing with him to see if there are some designs we can come up with for bookmarks. I am excited.
However, the whole bookmark issue brought a question to mind . . . how many people out there actually read books regularly?
You probably know that I read voraciously. Pretty much any book that I can get my hands on is fair game for me and if I don't have a book to read that I am interested in . . .I feel a bit depressed. A new book can cheer me up from pretty much any bad mood. Hubby knows that and when I am grumpy he will often suggest that I go buy a new book. Isn't he super?
Anyway. It is difficult for me to imagine people who don't read (even though I live with one of them). I want to know if YOU read. Let me know so I can tell if I am a REAL weirdo or just a bit strange with my reading habits.
Voice Update: I am massaging my little heart out and it seems to be working well for me. My voice is good and my throat isn't too crunchy! Yeah!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Well, the foundation work is over. I had to miss the last part of the fun since I had to go to class and get the whole play thing out of the way. I will tell you more about that later but now I want to finish up the whole foundation thing.
Hubby was in charge of the camera while I was gone and he really tried. He did get some good shots.
Here they actually had a guy standing on top of the machine which screws the piers into place. Apparently, they needed all the weight on it that they could get. Doesn't it look like fun?
These are the jacks they put into the holes to actually lift the house. There were two jacks in each hole - so 22 jacks. Hubby said that during the lift there was a man in each hole tending the jacks. That would have been interesting to see.
Another part of the whole thing was that they installed root barriers around the trees to try to prevent the roots from infiltrating the foundation. I am not totally convinced that they are really needed but . . .
I am just thankful that it is all done. Hubby had a good time watching everything happen even though he actually got a sunburn from standing outside all day. Poor baby!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The first pier is now down 24 feet which, apparently, is how far they are going down. I don't know how they deal with the part sticking out. Hopefully, Hubby will take some pictures of that part of the process while I am at class.
Smiling guy is clowning around and doing curls with one of the shorter extensions.
This just looked neat to me. I think I might try to mess with the lighting a bit when I have time.
The second pier going in! This time it is taking three guys to manage that thing!
The first pier is going in . . . and in . . . and in . . .
Here the guys are bringing the machine which screws the pier into the ground to the site.
It has a long stabilization bar on the back which is anchored to the ground with a long stake.
It does the job - they get the pier in and then add extensions to get it down to a "stable" depth. I don't understand that part but I think it just goes down until it won't go down any more!
I am back again to show you more pictures of the foundation work.
I thought this was a telling vignette!
Do you see how deep these guys are digging? They are sitting on the ground with their legs straight down in the holes.
Isn't that smile cute? I told the workers (in Spanish) that the pictures are for my mother in Ohio. They all say "Hola, mama!"
This morning I had to shorten my walk by a few minutes so I could get home and showered and dressed before this showed up.
The foundation guys. They went right to work taking out the shrubs which were in their way.
It is amazing how quickly these guys work!
Do you see the bucket and the plastic? Those contain my pincushion plant and my balloon flower plant. I don't want those damaged so they carefully removed them. This may be a good time to divide that pincushion plant!
This guy on the side of the house has the prettiest smile - I know you can't tell in this picture but . . .