Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesdays Aren't What They Once Were

In the beginning of the month I resigned my position in the small town public library. I no longer have a mellow evening spent in the children's section of the library. Today was the first day where my other part-time job pulled me in on a Wednesday. It was tortuous. People are miserable in the middle of the week. Seriously miserable. And I am not talking about the customers.

I resigned the position in order to take a part-time weekend job working in an academic library. Now it appears my Friday and Saturday evenings will be spent in the comfort of a library (a beautiful library on a very traditional style campus) but I am not sure they will be quiet and mellow. I am sure I will enjoy every minute of them. One thing for sure, I will be doing more walking.

The main library I will be working has four floors and a mezzanine. I will also sub in the other library, which is located across the campus. I am not able to wear sneakers like I was at the public library and only had the dress shoes I wear at the bank. The dress shoes are all cheap (poor college student with a mortgage) and are just comfortable enough to stand or sit all day in. Not walk a few miles. I kind of knew this before hand but I now have empirical evidence that they are not designed for much more than keeping my feet within the parameters of the bank's dress code. After being forced to wear flip flops for three days after my training at the library, I ordered shoes online. I barely buy shoes in person. I never buy shoes online. I was desperate and did not have time to go shopping.

I bought two pairs via Amazon of walking flats (aka sneakers designed to look like flats). I have worn one pair two days already and am fairly certain they will be up to the test of a shift at the library but I might have to swap out the inserts for my orthotics (I am not that old but I have weird feet and I overprotate like a mofo). The other pair arrived today. I was very worried I bought the wrong size but I went by the comments and ordered my normal size (I wore a pair of sneakers from this manufacturer years ago and they notoriously ran a bit smaller). I wore them only for a few moments but I am in love. They are as close to being barefoot as I can get and still have a bit of cushion (if need be my othotics will also fit in this pair) and they are cute and cheap!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lovely Day for a Tree Trimming

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. Perfect lazy Sunday to spend lounging outside, reading Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn, and watching the man once again climb the large dead oak tree to trim a little more off in preparation for topping it and carving his own totem pole. At least that is what he told his mother he plans to do with it. She thought he was joking, I on the other hand am not so sure that at this time next year I won't have the most interesting yard decoration in the neighborhood...or at the least the start of the most interesting yard decoration in the neighborhood.

While enjoying the cool breezes from the shelter of my shade, I also took the opportunity to play with my new camera app for my kindle.

It takes better pictures than my cheap (and very old) pay as you go cell phone but I am still not that impressed. Plus it is very clumsy to have to hold the kindle facing me and line up the shot behind myself in order to take a picture. Perhaps someday I will buy a good camera or at least a cell phone that will take better pictures. Someday. Maybe.

The man's parents showed up right after he ascended and we spent a very pleasant afternoon watching him work. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend my last Sunday before the semester starts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink is the first book in the Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun. Along with being a paranormal tale that delves into the Japanese mythology of the Kami, the novel is also a fish out of water tale. Katie Greene is a teenage girl whose entire life was ripped out by the roots after her mother's death and replanted in Japanese soil. She must navigate daily life in a land where the only thing more foreign to her than the language and culture is her aunt, with whom she now resides. Each day she harbors the hope that her grandfather's cancer will go into remission so she can move to Canada and live on familiar soil once again. Begrudgingly, Katie attempts to learn the language and fit in at school. She finds a little solace in her friendship with Yuki and Tanaka, the only two people at school to befriend the gaijin (outsider).  However, cultural gaps still trip her up.

One such social gaffe landed her in a sticky situation when she had to run back into the classroom to exchange her slippers for her outside shoes. She is caught up in an ugly breakup between a popular girl named Myu and Yuu Tomohiro, hunk extraordinaire and the star of the school's kendo team. As Katie tries to hide from the embattled couple her hand comes in contact with some of Tomohiro's sketches and the drawing comes to life under her touch. Intrigued and scared Katie follows and challenges Tomohiro in order to unravel the air of mystery with which he surrounds himself. Determined to find out which persona is the real Yuu Tomohiro, the handsome kendo star, the heartless womanizer, the arrogant loner, the secretive artist, the all around dangerous bad boy or as Katie suspects, the boy who is just as lonely and scared as herself, Katie pries at the ink darkened corners of Tomohiro's life.

However, Katie does not realize others are just as interested at uncovering Tomohiro's secrets. Powers far more dangerous than mythology and legend hint at are hunting Yuu Tomohiro and they are not afraid to use Katie to get to him.


One of the things I really enjoyed about this particular book was the use of unfamiliar landscape, culture, and mythology (at least unfamiliar to me). Often I stick to my comfortable wheelhouse of mythology and legends born of European ancestry, and so does the paranormal YA genre in general. I liked reading about a mythology tradition for which I had no preexisting ideas to conflict with the author's  version. I also enjoyed feeling like I was expanding my vocabulary with the Japanese words and phrases peppered throughout the text. Another thing I liked about this story was the way Katie's journey through her grief at the loss of her old life is echoed in the landscape.

The cherry blossoms bloom just as Katie begins to hope that she is really making friends and a life for herself in the new land. The spring blooms give way to summer foliage as her relationship with Tomohiro deepens and Katie begins to see life beyond her loss. Sun uses weather to also illustrate the emotional landscape of her characters. The humidity of a Japanese summer highlights the difficulty Katie and Tomohiro experience coming to grips with their feelings and fears and storms seem to brew up at every turmoil filled scene. Of course the story does have more than its fair share of angst. No self respecting YA novel would be complete without angst filled scenes cluttering its landscape and Ink seems very eager to exceed its quota in this department. In all fairness, Ink does not allow its story to be swallowed by the angst, unlike other novels in this genre, but there were a few moments where I rolled my eyes and thought "didn't she outgrow this yet?"

Ink's ending left me feeling a little unfulfilled. I realize the author needs to set the readers up for the sequel and got over it quickly. Overall I was very glad to have the chance to read this novel. I feel it is worth mentioning all of the extras at the end of this book. There is a glossary of Japanese terms used in the book, a Q&A with the author, some additional artwork, and a preview of chapter one from the as yet named sequel (which really helped me come to terms with that unsatisfied feeling at the end of book one). For more information on Amanda Sun's Paper Gods series check out her colorful website.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grave Visions Failure to Appear

I love the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price. I read the first three books nearly back to back and had pre-ordered book four in the series, Grave Visions, as soon as I finished the third book. This was many, many moons ago. I checked the status of my pre-order at the beginning of the month and all seemed in order, with the release date of August 6th showing on Amazon's website. However, August 6th came and went and I did not get the ebook uploaded to my kindle. I checked my account to see if I was billed and just had some error that prevented it from being uploaded but no money was deducted by Amazon (at least not for this ebook). I checked the status of my order and it showed that it was still in pre-order status. I thought perhaps an odd thing occurred and Amazon flubbed the release date. I figured the error would be corrected soon or the book would be released soon, either way I was sure Amazon would let me know what was going on. No worries.

It never once occurred to me that the author failed to make her deadline. Yet, apparently, that is exactly what happened. I received an email from Amazon this evening informing me that the kindle version of the book was unexpectedly delayed and they were cancelling my order since, at this time, no estimated release date was to be found. I was shocked. I swear I blinked really fast a few times and then slowly a few more times to make sure what I was reading was in fact true. Puzzled, I sought my answers on the web like any sane but dismayed reader would do. But really there are no solid answers to be found, at least none that satisfies my desire for another Alex Craft book from Ms. Price.

What I have found instead is a cryptic blog from the author stating that personal problems, which she wants to remain private (understandably), have stepped all over her professional life this past year and the much awaited sequels to the Alex Craft series and her other successful series, Haven, will both be indefinitely put off. While the very selfish side of me is crushed by this news. The rational, adult side wishes Ms. Price a speedy recovery from whatever intrusive issues have roosted in her home. I will be disappointed if another book never materializes but I will be more disappointed if the voice of a bright, creative artist is lost to us forever.

Good luck Ms. Price, and godspeed for whatever journey you are on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is That a Puffin in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

I have off today. I am just now drinking my morning coffee. It is gorgeous outside; cool, sunny, with a delicious breeze blowing. I am going to keep this post brief, partly because I need to make a list so I do not squander the day (and I feel a good squander coming on) and partly because you have no idea how many typos I have already corrected. Seriously, my fingers do not seem to want to connect with the keyboard this morning.

One item on the list will be to finish a book review for Ink by Amanda Sun but I have a few more pressing items to check off before I will get to that one. In the meantime, I wanted to share this adorable clip from Animal Planet. It is about how Icelandic children go out of their way to capture and release confused baby puffins after they are lured into the seedy side of town by the bright city lights. It made me smile. I hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Looking for Motivation in All the Wrong Places

Nope, don't see any motivation here either.

I have looked in the laundry room (also known as our basement), my kindle, Facebook, the stack of papers and books strewn across my desk, my unmade bed, and my Netflix queue, my yarn stash, and even sifted threw the community of dust bunnies under my bed (I was looking for my other flip flop) but all to no avail because it is after 2:30 pm and I have found no motivation whatsoever today. Motivation has been missing from my house for nearly a full week. I haven't seen it since last Monday evening when I went on a cleaning spree and nearly poisoned myself with bleach fumes. Fun times.

So coincidentally, it has been nearly a week since my summer semester has ended. The lack of motivation means I still have not crossed much off of my downtime to do list. I have started to knit several projects. I had purchased a hat kit more than two years ago (seriously, I just realized it has been that long). I had made several attempts to begin the hat but it was my first foray into the world of knitting in the round and I had difficulty casting on the first row just right so I kept putting it off for when I had more time. I am nearly done with the hat but as of yet it is still unfinished (surprisingly, it looks very hat like already). I have purchased all the right tools to start a baby blanket for a friend who is due in October (but most likely will give birth in September). I am planning to knit Ewe Ewe's Serenity baby blanket with a slight variation around the edge so that I can weave a thick red satin ribbon around the outside of the blanket (they are Philly fans and have done the baby's room in a sports theme, heavy on the Philly's memorabilia). I am just waiting for my circular needles to arrive via mail and then I can cast the blanket on.

I have also finally purchased the monster size 35 US (19mm) needles required for the throw blanket I have intended to make out of the stash of yarn my mother gave me several years ago. It was Lion's Brand Homespun yarn in the Tudor colorway (lot 99441.01). I am not a fan of acrylic yarns but it was free, I lkie the muted colors and it feels soft and plush. The pattern was also free. It was printed on the back of a skein wrapper. It is called Homespun Knit Waterfall Afghan (I hate that word "afghan." It is a very unattractive word and conjures up all kinds of hideous orange, mustard yellow, and brown geometric crocheted and scratchy nightmares from the seventies *shudder*). When I am done, hopefully, I will have a soft and cuddly throw that looks something like this picture below and is easy to wash (i.e. dog friendly). If I fail, or more likely if the acrylic yarn does not stay as plush and soft in texture as it feels now, then Seamus gets another dog blanket for his crate. A win-win in my book.

Look at that it is several hundred words later and still, I have not found any motivation. I think I have to call out the big guns and make a list. But first, I have to get a shower and run to Auto Parts with the man so he can purchase brakes for his truck. Perhaps his motivation to get things done will jump start my stalled weekend.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Mournful Monday

So it is another bright sunny Monday Morning here in the heart of Lancaster County. It is Mother Nature's cruel way of mocking her children as we toddle off to our prison cells cubicles. She is showing us how beautiful life can be while reminding us of all we will be missing while toiling away, trying to earn the money that will let us enjoy the time we do have off (you know, when it is raining and the only things fun to do are inside and cost money). If the knowledge that Mother Nature enjoys your Monday Morning suffering is not enough to make you cry, then I am sure this video of a disabled Boston Terrier puppy taking his first steps will do the trick.

His name is Mick and some wonderful people with big hearts and tons of patience helped rehabilitate the little guy. I had tears in my eyes by the time he even took his first steps. I read so much about the horrible things we do to each other on a daily basis, that I think this week needs to kick off with tears of joy brought about by a touching tale of good deeds done for those with tails (or at least little nubbies that wiggle to and fro). Since Monday mornings demand some tears be shed, let them be ones of hope and happiness rather than mourning for our lost weekend (that'll tweak Mother Nature's nose real good. Ha, take that you ol' biddy!)