Monday, February 27, 2006

Right Place, Right Time

Friday night, I finished reading Forests of the Night by James W. Hall. I have never read any of his books and picked this one up because it takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. Well, actually, it mostly takes place in Cherokee, NC, which borders the Park, but close enough I guess. I've always wanted to visit the Native American village in Cherokee and see the famous play, Unto These Hills, but we've never been able to squeeze that in on any of our trips to the Smokies. Anyhoo, the book was okay, but didn't make me want to rush back to the library and pick up one of his others. The beginning was very rushed and didn't really give me enough time to care about the characters. The second half was better, but the backstory that helps to solve the mystery was a little convoluted.

The one cool thing was that several times throughout the book, the main character references the old movie "Mildred Pierce," an Oscar winner from 1945 starring Joan Crawford. To be honest, I had never heard of or seen this movie. So after finishing this book Friday night, on Sunday afternoon I was flipping through the channels and lo and behold, "Mildred Pierce" was on TCM as part of their "31 Days of Oscar." So I watched it, since it was a somewhat central part of the book I had just finished. What great timing! I missed the first 10 minutes or so, but it wasn't a bad murder mystery. A little predictable, but enjoyable, with a strong female lead surrounded by a bunch of loser men. (Side bar: Throughout the entire movie, the woman playing the character of Ida looked really familiar, but I couldn't figure out who she was. Turns out, it was a very young Eve Arden, Miss McGee from Grease.) Even better, it was followed by "Gone With the Wind" in all it's uncut, commercial-free glory and I was able to watch a fairly good chunk of it throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Official

I'm old. Barely a month after my 34th birthday, there's no denying it. As of today, I start taking medication for my high blood pressure. Like my dad, who started taking it in his early thirties as well, I'll probably have to take it for the rest of my life. I went to the ob/gyn on Tuesday and at 9 o'clock in the morning, my BP was a whopping 164/96, the highest reading yet. I haven't done so great in the exercise department, but I really had been watching what I eat, especially salt, and even lost 7 lbs. since my last doctor's visit in September. So the ob/gyn recommended I see my primary care physician as soon as possible and I was able to get an appointment this morning. I have to go back in a month to see if it's working and if we have to adjust the dosage, etc. My theory is that the last couple of years were a great crashing together of baby weight, slowing metabolism and genetics, not to mention my couch potato lifestyle. It took awhile, but it's finally hit home that it's time to get off my bum and help this along a little bit more. No more excuses!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Day

Like most of the Northeast, we were hit with quite a storm last night. I think we got about 12 inches; it's hard to tell with all of the drifts. H. was very excited about the snow. I don't remember getting a really good weekend snow last winter, one that she could really enjoy, but she was up at 6:30am and wanted to go outside. I managed to hold her off until about 10:30am, when we finally went outside. We tried to build a snowman, but the snow conditions weren't right. The layer on top was too soft and powdery. Then we walked up the street, before it was plowed (it was quite a hike up the hill) to play with J. The two of them sledded down the little hill in J's yard. I even went down it a couple of times, too. The plow finally came down our street around noon and they did a great job. We walked back home for lunch and a nap - both of us!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Snowing

Snowflakes are falling outside, beef stew is cooking in the crockpot, H. is taking a nap and I'm scrapbooking. Just about the perfect day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Book Reviews

A few thoughts on some books I’ve read so far in 2006:
  • Last Lullaby by Denise Hamilton – third in the Eve Diamond series. I started off 2005 with the first novel in this series, so I guess I can’t go wrong by starting 2006 the same way. I enjoy these novels because I learn something new every time I read one of them. Coincidentally, Jenny was reading The Jasmine Trade at the same time and did not care for it and ironically, the same situation cropped up in another book that I just read, Buried Diamonds. This is the fourth book in the Claire Montrose series, more of a cozy mystery series than I usually read. I read the third one way back in 2002 and I guess my tastes haves changed because I found this book very slow and boring. There was a horrible transition from a scene at the end of the chapter with a dog getting poisoned and taken to the animal hospital in the afternoon and the next chapter beginning in the middle of the next night with someone getting shot. I actually went back and read it twice because I thought I missed something and even checked the page numbers to make sure pages hadn’t been torn out. Not only was the transition poor, but to voice the same complaint as Jenny, you didn’t hear a thing about the poor dog for the rest of the book.
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. This is the follow-up to the much-loved The Secret Life of Bees. Eliza hated this novel, which surprised me. It wasn’t as good as Bees, but I didn’t hate it. It was very much up my alley of loving any kind of Southern women’s fiction, along the lines of Anne Rivers Siddons, one of my favorites.
  • Crosscut by Meg Gardiner, the fourth in the Evan Delaney series. I love, love, love this series, even though it’s a little over the top in some instances. Evan is a strong heroine and I love the relationship between her and Jesse. I’ve had to buy all of these books from since they aren’t available through any of the local libraries, but they are well worth it.
  • The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari. This serial killer novel set in Philadelphia had a surprise ending that really threw me, which doesn’t happen often. Overall, a very engrossing book, but with a few holes. I’m not really sure why the author introduced the side story of how the main female character was an amateur boxer on the side, other than to let the reader know that she’s a strong character. After a boxing match at the very beginning of the book, it’s never brought up again. Also, a major secret about the main male character is resolved much too easily and didn’t sit too well with this reader.
  • Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I haven’t read a YA novel in ages, but this one was recommended on Joshilyn Jackson’s website and sounded interesting. I breezed through it in about three hours yesterday. It’s written as a diary by high school sophomore Jessica Darling, interspersed with letters to her best friend, who moved to another state at the beginning of the year. Jessica has a great voice and the dialogue rings very true. My only one small complaint is that if I hadn’t known there was as sequel to this book, I would have been disappointed by the ending. Otherwise, I liked it so much that I put in a request this morning for an ILL so I can get the sequel, Second Helpings, as soon as possible.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Music to My Ears

The summer concert schedule is starting to heat up. It was announced this week that Brad Paisley is coming to the York Fair in September. I may have to move Hayley’s birthday party up a week, but I’m getting my tickets this Saturday.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will open their new Soul2SoulII tour April 21 in Columbus, Ohio. Only a few dates have been scheduled so far, but the tour is sponsored by Hershey’s, so I would expect a date at Hershey Stadium or the Giant Center (hopefully the Giant Center, since it rains everytime I go to a concert held in the stadium).