Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Years Day - 2015's First Road Trip

My Beloved and I are big on road trips.  There are just so many opportunities to find places you would have never thought to visit, little gems like The Hermitage or The Lane Motor Museum or The Museum of Appalachia or even The International Towing & Recovery Museum.  And do you know what I lovedy, love, love about my Beloved? He will stand there and read all the plaques with me, listen to the guides and even if it ain't his thang he doesn't get impatient and try to rush us along.

He is an awesome road trip buddy.

Every New Year's Day we pack up some sandwiches & sodas, fill a couple of water bottles and our coffee cups, grab a bag of chips and a map book and hit the open roads to be touristy in our own state.  We only take the back roads and the two lane highways heading in a predetermined direction or taking a certain road.

One year we took Grand River from our house all the way across the state to Grand Rapids, another year we decided to head up to the tippy top of the "thumb" where we saw the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse, Grindstone City and Port Hope.  One year we drove up to Traverse City despite blizzard warnings,

This year I got a hankerin' to take Michigan Avenue (US 12) across the state to where it ended at the Michigan state line in New Buffalo - it starts at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit and ends in Washington state (!) - I didn't want to drive down to Detroit to start there because I felt it would take up too much of our morning and we were getting a late start as it was.

As is tradition I fried up a pound of bacon and we had a whole mountain of scrambled eggs (instead of french toast) before we headed out.

Road Trip Essentials: A camera, a map book and your besty

Ready for a million picture pictorial review of our day? Good, 'cause I'm giving you one.

Chelsea, MI - Home of Jiffy Mix
Relatively close to home & our first encounter with Michigan Ave. 

Muuuuch of our drive looked like this: farms/farmhouses and fields
*You can tell how old a farmhouse is by its proximity to the road!

Bronson, MI - Where they get purple street signs with Vikings on them.
Also, where US 12 is called Chicago St.

Our sister street!
Interrupting the pictorial for a history lesson:
My mom always used to tell us that our grandmother proclaimed that her children (eight of them) were going to send her to the poorhouse - I'm not going to go into detail about poorhouses but you can Google the term and read about them.  Fascinating stuff! Anyway, Poor farms were poorhouses, subsidized by the county's government, on farm land where the able bodied had to help to take care of themselves and the other poor/disabled who lived there.  The poor farm for the county that I live in was across the street from our house, hence the name County Farm Rd.

St. Joseph County Michigan - Poorhouse/farm.
And here it is today

Sturgis, MI

I wish I had gotten a picture from the front
but I didn't know I would find an awesome historic one

I wonder what this is for!?

The one and only historical marker we stopped at (?)
See? He gets out of the car to read the signs!
Which shamed me enough to actually get out of the car
One of the original pylons 

We made it!
We made it to Michigan/Indiana border and had lunch in New Buffalo, MI where my hubby went to truck driving school.  Afterward we decided to drive up the Lake Michigan coast and wander toward home.

I think that the Great Lakes are incredibly beautiful

Pure Michigan

See what I mean?
And as the sun was setting I didn't get any more pictures after this.  Except this one as we were in line waiting for our Taco Bell dinner.

I stole his hat and was wearing it at a jaunty angle

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015: The Prospective

I had wanted to get this post up yesterday but my Beloved and I were on the road for a good 11 hours doing our Annual New Year's Day Road Trip (post coming soon) and I was too pooped out afterward to do much of anything other than put some Taco Bell down my gullet while we watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I don't make public resolutions because I don't need to be reminded of how many things I resolved to do yet didn't achieve.  I'll keep all of that to myself, thank you very much.

We are going to make this year different though.  So here goes, I plan to:

1.  Say "I love you" more
2.  Knit more
3.  Find something, anything, at least one tiny morsel of happiness in every situation
4.  Read more
5.  Smile more
6.  Blog more
7.  Be more patient

All achievable, right? Nothing too strenuous there (I think).

Number 7 brings me to the whole "Word of the Year" thing that I have been reading about for a few years on other peoples blogs.  It just so happens that this morning I was reading a blog (or five) and one word kept popping up.  Patience.  Which I have laughably minuscule amounts of.  Most especially with myself.

1. the quality of being patientas the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted   with delay

I tend to get very frustrated when things: don't go according to my plans; the way that have envisioned them needing to happen; when other people don't know my vision of the perfect _(anything)_; with the way that it's supposed to be!  Wow.  Wow, wowy, wowzers.  Selfish much?  

I also need to remember that not everyone moves at the Speed of Poppy.  My Beloved for instance, he does things at a slow, even pace.  He's methodical, deliberate.  He's all kinds of slow and steady wins the race! Me? I'm all kinds of instant decisions! and damn the torpedoes! and full steam ahead! and we'll deal with the consequences later!  So, yeah, there's that kind of patience to work on too.  

Hey, you're welcome for the insight into my internal struggles.

Moving on to muuuch better things, another thing that some of the fo'real bloggy peoples I have been stalking for years have been doing is their Saint of the year.  Well, I'm not Catholic and there is no Greek Orthodox Saint Picker out there -which is why I haven't ever participated- but this year is different, right? 

So I went to Jennifer Fulwiler's blog Conversion Diary, which is what the other bloggy peeps use, and I had the generator choose one for me, one for my Beloved and one for "the house" (my little homesteady family).

Here's what it came up with:
Image of St. Valentine 

He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Excellent! I love love, birds, bees, flowers, my happy marriage and traveling. It'll be a good year with this guy being on my team!

Moving on to my Beloved-
And I was all "nuh-uhhh".... But, there you have it.  St. Isidore the Patron Saint of farmers and laborers who had a great concern for the proper treatment of animals.  Another great addition to our team - I pray that he will keep my Beloved safe while he is out there driving that big ol' truck and working his behind off in order for us to move closer to being a little homesteady/farmy family.

And, lastly for our house/homestead- 
St. Benedict

He is the Patron Against Erysipelas; Against Fever; Against Gall Stones; Against Inflammatory Diseases; Against Kidney Disease; Against Temptations; Agricultural Workers; Civil Engineers; Dying People; Farmers; Monks; People in Religious Orders; Servants Who Have Broken Their Master's Belongings; Speliologists; Spelunkers; Students

Would you look at that? It looks like someone is cheering us on this year!

I hope that you all have a beautiful, wonder filled 2015 - FULL STEAM AHEAD!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 4

Hallelujah, I made it.  Please note that I've written four consecutive posts.  You're welcome.

I have so much to do to get ready for tomorrow and Wednesday that I'll keep this as short as possible - on to the books!

31.  The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason  After a big ol' novel like American Gods I needed something to read (or listen to) that I didn't have think very hard about and this was recommended to me by Goodreads somehow. And since I love both the Sherlock Holmes character (having watched all of the BBC series) and Bram Stoker's Dracula this seemed like just the thing.  I ended up liking it and I'm not going to lie, I may just read any successive books.
3 Stars

32.  Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts  Oh Nora Roberts.  Why you gotta do me like this? Last year I saw that she was writing a new trilogy and I had enjoyed quite a few of her other trilogies so I thought, why not! The first book in the series was.... just okay.  And being the glutton for punishment that I am I signed up for the pre-order for the second book and folks, I hated it.  It took me FOREVER to slog through this dang thing! I can't explain it.  Also, I'm hoping the third book (I am such a sucker) won't suck so hard.
1 Star

33.  The Shadows by Jacqueline West  I am not quite sure where this suggestion came from, maybe I was trolling Goodreads or Book Page but it came highly recommended.  It just so happened that my Beloved and I were walking through Kroger (to waste time while Jet's was making our pizza) and they had a table of books with this one on it! w00t! A very good book.  Enough so that I recommended it to a friend and she too loved it.  The rest of the books are on my list to read further down the road.
4 Stars

34.  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke  Another suggestion from Cari! (Thanks Cari!)  This was an amazing book, all 32 hours of it! The first three quarters of the book were sssslllloooowwww and then BOOM! It picked up and I lovedy love love love the last 1/4 of the book.  I realize that she had to set up the characters (which she did very well) but there were points where I wanted to tear my hair out.  Plus BBC is making it into a TV Series.  Sweetness!
4 Stars

35.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman  One of the characters from American Gods gets his own story fleshed out.  I liked this book a lot, there was a good twist and something that I hadn't expected.  If you've read American Gods this'll be right up your alley.
4 Stars

36.  The Big Year by Mark Obmascik  Ohmygoodnessgracious! How is it that the girl who wishes she even knew that being an ornithologist was a thing, had never read this book? I'll tell you how - I bought the dang thing, didn't realize I had it and let molder away on my bookshelf for YEARS.  However, I'm really glad that I finally downloaded it to listen to because I really, really enjoyed this book! It had me Googling all kinds of birds/facts.  Every birdwatcher/ornithologist wanna be needs to read this book.
4 Stars

37.  The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood  Ooph.  You want to read a depressing book? Read this.  It had the misfortune of being both wholly sad and implausible.  What else.... um.  It's (barely) about knitting.  That's it.
2 Stars

38.  The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley  I would say I feel sorry about adding this short story on my list but, Flavia! There is nothing I can say other than if you're a Flavia de Luce fan then this 99 cent short story is a must.  It's enough to tide me over until January and the release of the newest book As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.
5 Stars

39.  Hild by Nicola Griffith  I originally heard about this book on NPR when they interviewed the author and promptly went home and purchased it, where it sat on my Kindle ever since.  And in an effort to read some of the books that have been there the longest I downloaded the audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work.  Historical novels at their best.  I love how the author draws such beautiful scenes of 7th century life.  Wow! I had a lot of difficulty in the beginning differentiating between people, places and items because of the Old English/Old Irish/Anglisc/British/Latin - phew! But once I got the hang of it and looked in the glossary things got better.  I loved Hild's wild, frenetic world and her calmness.  Good, good book.
4 Stars (once again, I think it should be at least 4.5 - 4.75)

40.  The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness  BLERG! This book, I tell you.  Don't you hate it when a book in the series just stinks? I really enjoyed the first book, the second book was pretty good and this one? Craptastic.  From the first few pages I kept yelling at the book (the cats did not enjoy this) because the author is, from one chapter to the next, switching perspectives.  I used the like the lead male character, Matthew, but all I saw of him in this book was him being overbearing, mean and crazy amounts of possessive.  Pffft.  The Diana from the first book wouldn't put up with that horse manure.  Also, for reals? The ending wasn't an ending at all! Dang it! Whatevs.  I'm over it.
2 Stars

A goal that I set for myself and exceeded.  That makes up for the near misses, no?

And that, my pretties concludes my 1st annual Year in Books Review.  I'm resting my eyes and ears for now and deciding how many books I plan to challenge myself to read in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 3

My Beloved and I went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village last night.  So super magical.  You should absolutely do this if you're ever in SE Michigan around Christmastime.

Without further ado, I present to you books 21-30 that I have read in 2014!

21.  The Goddess of Fried Okra by Jean Brashear  This was supposed to be a quick, fun read to tide me over until I got my next Audible credit (I was feeling cheap and not wanting to purchase credits) and I downloaded it from the library.  Let's see... what I can remember is thinking whatevs every other chapter.  The characters were well written but I found the story silly and unbelievable.  Not my kind of book.
2 Stars

22.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman  So, being a complete goober headed ninny I never realized that the movie Stardust (!) was adapted from a book.  Say whhhuttt?! I broke down and purchased a ton of Audible credits because who wants to wait when you can have it now, now, now!  Oh Holy Heavens am I ever glad I did. I love this book so hard and Neil Gaiman is such a fantastic narrator.  If you haven't heard him read his books, do it, do it, do it!
5 Stars

23.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen  Confession time. I don't do well with animal books so I avoid them (I still haven't read Marley & Me) and then they went made a movie of  this book with what's-his-face sparkly vampire boy... So that immediately turned me off of it and I stubbornly resisted reading it because I am nothing if not stubborn.  Sooommmeeeonnne said I should read it so I downloaded the audiobook and I cried a hundred times (stupid animal books!). I don't remember loving or hating it - just liking it. I still haven't seen the movie.
3 Stars

24.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan  A Goodreads suggestion because I read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.  A book about books and a bookstore? Plus the author is from Michigan? Sign me up! What a great good read. A little mystery, a little magic a lot of fun.
5 Stars

25.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman  Two words: Neil.  Gaiman.  I think maybe this is my favorite of his books (I haven't read nearly any of them) but this one is Ah-May-Zing! Again, he narrates his own book and sucks you away into his fantastical worlds.  I found myself often sitting in my car just to keep listening until I absolutely had to get out and go inside.
5 Stars

26.  Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain  Oh boy.  Let me tell you a little story.  A long time ago (2000, I think) while wandering around Borders with my MommaBean I picked up the first book in this series -  Green Rider and have been in love with the series ever since (I buy the books then pass them along to MommaBean who loves them too).  However, after waiting for years for this book, I struggled with it.  As in it took me five months to read.  I had to force myself to keep reading it in hopes that it would get better.  Maybe it is because I am such a hardcore fan of this fantasy series that when the author turned it from fantasy to a steampunk/alternate universe in this book I was crushed and sorely disappointed.  This could have been a stand alone book (with different character names) and would have been great.  UGH.  Painful.  Sad.
3 Stars

27.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce  It's no secret that I am a huge Anglophile.  This book fit perfectly in my England-is-awesome lovefest.  Goodreads kept suggesting this book to me but I kept stubbornly (shocking!) avoiding it.  Wanna know why? Because I didn't like the cover.  Moron.  Does anyone else love book covers too? They can convey so much and I have been known to buy a book because I like the cover. Anyway, once I got over my bad self and bought the audiobook, I immediately fell in love with Harold and admire his perseverance in the face of difficulties. It a good story that made me glad I kicked my stubbornness in the knee.
4 Stars

28.  Doctor Who by Stephen Cole  Being a humongous Doctor Who fan you'd'a thunk I had read at least one of the quadrillion Doctor Who books, but you would be wrong.  I think this book was on sale for some pithy amount on Audible and I saw it was read by Tennant (love me some Tenth Doctor!) so I bought it. Good thing too because Tennant does an amazing job narrating and he absolutely kills Rose & Mickey. Good short story for commuting.
4 Stars

29.   The Legend of Drizzt by R.A. Salvatore  Three things about this book: a) Drizzt! I love, love, love, love, love the D&D character Drizzt.  b) the narrators! Sean Astin, Ice-T, Felicia Day, Al Yankovic, David Duchovny, Wil Wheaton & others and c) IT WAS FREE!! Oh my gawwwsh it was so amazing y'all.  If you're a D&D fan then you'll love this collection of short stories.  Seriously.
5 Stars

30.  American Gods by Neil Gaiman  I asked Cari to recommend another Neil Gaiman book for me since I know she'd read a billion of them and she suggested this.  An amazingly fantastic book that has the most tragic character of any book I've yet to read in it. I listened to the unabridged version with his preferred text and I loved all 19 hours of it.
4 Stars (again I would give this bad boy a 4.75 if I hadn't already set a precedent)

And that my lovelies concludes part three!  I'm off to work but I'll be back on Tuesday with the final installment, swearsies!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 2

I am sitting here wrapped in the fuzziest blanket we own, with a chubby Flint butt pressed up against my hip, listening to Christmas music, drinking coffee and tellin' y'all about the books I read this year.

Life is good.

And I am so blessed that when I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

Shoot.  Enough of that - on to books 11 - 20!

11.  Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman  Still on a Southern kick and having enjoyed Jenna Lamia's other narrations and Beth Hoffman's other book Saving CC Honeycutt AND because we had just come back from Charleston (stupid Charleston!) I bought this book.  Mucho gusto! I loved the characters and wished that I had seen the Charleston that was portrayed in the book as well as wishing I was Teddi and that I restored antique furniture.
4 Stars

12.  The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston  There must've been some book in my "read" list that Goodreads recommended this to me.  Based on the reviews I downloaded it and I really, really enjoyed it! I like historical fiction and this fit the bill perfectly.  I had Greensleeves stuck in my head for a month.
4 Stars

13.  A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger  I am not quite sure how I picked this book but boy am I ever glad I did.  If you like historical fiction, this book is amazing!  The author is a Medieval scholar and it shows.  With his descriptions he makes you believe you're in Chaucer's England.  Marvelous stuff this.
5 Stars

14.  Rumour Has It by Jill Mansell  Contemporary romance time via the library.  Romance novels; do you love 'em or hate 'em? I have a special place in my heart for them and every once in a while I get a hankerin' for some light hearted reading.  While this was pretty okay, and while it sufficed it wasn't anything super-awesome enough to insist everyone I know read.
2 Stars

15. Keeping Bees with Ashley English by Ashley English  Another type of book I feel bad about adding to my "read" list is reference books. I don't know why because I've read them! This book came highly recommended and it doesn't disappoint.  I like the photos and the you-can-do-it-too-edness of it.  Come Spring I will have bees and maybe they'll survive thanks to this book!
4 Stars

16.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin  This is the first book that I chose on the recommendation of Book Page.  And wow did they hit it out of the park with this selection.  If you love books and book stores then this is an awesome book.  There may or may not have been tears involved.
5 Stars

17.  The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs  I remember choosing this book because I too have an apple orchard.  That's it. Silly reason, eh? Anyway, I can't remember much about this book except for that I didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't bad it just wasn't good for me.
2 Stars

18.  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom  Another historical fiction and remarkably enough, set in the South (fancy that).  I really liked this book but honestly at the end all I could think was "can't SOMETHING, ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL go well? Please?".  But other than that (no small thing) it was an enjoyable book to read.
4 Stars

19.  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss  Okay, so the underlying story the book told is really good.  I just had a hard time following the story along as it was being told.  I wasn't emotionally invested until near the end where the story started to come together and make sense (to me).  That and I loved the protagonist, Leo.
4 Stars

20.  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton  I had read a couple of Kate Morton's other books (The Forgotten Garden & The Secret Keeper) so I thought I would read this one as well.  This book fits the Historical Fiction bill being set in Edwardian England (I still haven't watched Downton Abbey, but this made me want to!).  What I remember about the book is that it is well written so that you feel like you're a fly on the wall watching the story unfold and that I truly enjoyed listening to the whole thing.
4 Stars (I've set a precedent by keeping to whole numbers but this one should really be 4.75)

Again, don't listen to a stinking word I've said because these are my opinions and they're only true to me.  Make your own opinions and tell me!

I'll see ya back here on Monday with part three!