NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Showers Bring May Flowers. . .

When they wrote that little ditty, I'm pretty sure they meant "rain" showers, not "snow" showers like we've been getting! I know. Whine, whine, whine.

Speaking of whining, I've been far too friendly with cheese enchiladas over our so-called spring, and I now need to clean up my eating habits before my next singing shows at the end of May. I really want to wear some of the awesome cocktail dresses I bought last summer, which means I need to break-up with Ol' Mexico and Don Pablos and hook up with The Eat-Clean Diet and my Stepmill. (Purchased for a steal of a price a few years ago at a second-hand exercise equipment store and currently being used as a spider condo in the basement. Icky!) But I have a fantastic motivator . . . Being the egotistical Diva that I am, if I reach my goal by May 22, Peter said he will buy me a new pair of eye-popping boots for the show. How cool are these?!?

My feel hurt just looking at them. But I just looooove platform boots!!!! I always thought Stevie Nicks looked so great in them. To say nothing of my idol growing up as a wanna-be rock star: Paul Stanley of Kiss.

There. I've stated it in public. Now if I don't get my cool new boots next month, I'll have to admit that I reverted to my old habits and failed miserably. And my alter-ego, The Diva, can't be having any of that! :-)

Don't worry though. This plan still requires a trip to the bookstore. I have to buy the new exercise and eating plan books. I can work the bookstore into anything!

Have a great day, everybody!

Monday, April 28, 2008


by Jefferson Bass

I said in my inaugural First Chapters post that I expected this book to be, "just like the others [in this series] - a quick but educational forensic mystery romp with a pretty good story and a lot of forced humor." It turns out I was exactly right!

There are actually three stories going on in The Devil's Bones, all of which are wrapped up surprisingly easily (speaking as the reader and not as one of those being shot, chased by pit bulls, burned alive, etc., etc.). Because the actual resolution of the various cases happens so quickly, there is plenty of time for Forensic Anthropology 101, which is the aspect of the series that keeps me coming back for more despite a plethora of really bad jokes being passed off as humor. There are a couple of characters who believe themselves to be quite funny. I'm advising adherence to their day jobs. :-) And speaking of day jobs, one of the two men who make up the writing team known as Jefferson Bass is the founder of the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Center - the real-life "Body Farm". So when you get all those gruesomely fascinating details and explanations in the books, you know the man knows of what he speaks!

I think it would be helpful to have read the two previous installments of the Body Farm series - Carved in Bone and Flesh and Bone - as there are many references to the events in those novels, but readers who start with The Devil's Bones will not be completely lost. They will probably just have their appetites whetted for the earlier books.


Tour the Body Farm on the author's official web site! Very interesting! (But maybe not before lunch. . .)

Other books in the Body Farm series:

Sunday, April 27, 2008


by Mark Twain

If I am not the last person on the face of the earth to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I'm betting I'm awfully close. I'm also betting I wouldn't have appreciated it near as much as I did this rainy, depressing week, and I wouldn't have smiled so often or laughed out loud at the antics of Tom and his friends. Nor would I have marveled at the clever descriptive phrases and curious vernacular. Nope. This is the girl who shunned reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn during my junior year in high school while my best friend filled me in on the test questions.

But now? Tom Sawyer will be sitting on the shelf right along side The Wind In The Willows for when I need a quick pick-me-up. Not to mention that now I have to move Huck Finn closer to the top of my TBR pile, because he was my very favorite character! I found Huck especially endearing at the end when his newly aquired "civility" gets to be too much for him:

"Don't talk about it, Tom. I've tried it, and it don't work; it don't work, Tom. It ain't for me; I ain't used to it. The widder's good to me, and friendly; but I can't stand them ways. She makes me get up just at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don't seem to any air git through 'em, somehow; and they're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher's; I hain't slid on a cellar-door for -- well, it 'pears to be years; I got to go to church and sweat and sweat -- I hate them ornery sermons! I can't ketch a fly in there, I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell -- everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it."

--Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Chapter XXXV

As someone who fairly regularly fantasizes about pulling up roots, moving to a chunk of land and living "off the grid", there are a lot of thoughts there with which I can empathize. Like Tom, Huck is kind of my dark hero, living a life disdained by others, but free from their constraints. But, again like Tom, I can't quite truly give up the creature comforts I've grown soft on.

But enough about Huck. We'll get to him with his own book. I want to know what happens to Tom going forward. Does he marry Becky Thatcher? Does he become a respectable town citizen? Or would seeing Tom older or as an adult ruin the picture I have of him now? So many questions . . .

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 25, 2008


by Carmen Laforet

I wanted to read Nada: A Novel (Modern Library Classics) because it received the rare 5-Star rating on Bookmarks Magazine's "Best of 2007" list. According to Publisher's Weekly, it is a 1945 Spanish cult classic available in English for the first time in the U.S. The story takes place in post-Civil War Barcelona and follows one year in the life of a young woman, Andrea, living with members of her wildly dysfunctional extended family while she attends school.

The mood is very dark throughout, and while this normally doesn't bother me at all, as I got deeper into the story I was telling myself, "I don't like this book." But I kept on reading. When I thought about what it was that was so distasteful to me, I found that it wasn't the book itself that I didn't like. My problem was that the depictions of the characters and their disturbing behavior were so intense that it was making me uncomfortable. I would get jumpy when it looked like Juan was going to fly into one of his violent rages, afraid he was going to beat me this time instead of his wife. I got creeped out every time Roman walked into the room. I wanted Aunt Angustia to quit talking to me. I wanted to take Grandma and run away. I didn't want to know any more of their awful secrets, but there I stayed until the bitter, tragic end.

What is so interesting to me is how consistently this book made me strongly feel things while I was reading. I admire it for the ability it had to make me so uneasy. I felt like it was me living in hunger in that squalid apartment with those crazy people. If you're looking for a light, happy read, this is not it. But if you want to take a peak through the keyhole into that seedy apartment down the hall, you'll hit the jackpot here!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

What I read doesn't change with the seasons, but how much I read does. Unlike most of the answers I've seen this morning, my reading actually goes up with the coming of the warmer weather rather than down. I think that's why I get so excited when that first bit of spring creeps in! The reason is easy. Basketball season is over. It makes me sad that I don't get to watch my Timberwolves for a few months, but it opens up all kinds of free time! The summer months are spent hanging out on the patio with book in hand instead of in front of the TV or at the Target Center cheering my guys on in person!

Stay tuned for all those extra reviews I'll be able to write! :-)


Play along with Booking Through Thursday here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I admit it. I bit off more than I could chew. I originally had thirteen books planned for this, but my brain fried at eight. Not to mention that my TBR list didn't get any shorter at all, because every book looked good! Don't you just hate when that happens?

Just a note: Raidergirl3 at An Adventure In Reading made me laugh yesterday with her post about joining challenges, and suggested one of her own. Sign me up! Wait! I think I'm already in that one. . . :-)

Anyway, here are two more First Chapters for those who are curious:

THE SIXTH WIFE by Suzannah Dunn

Yippee! Another story of Katherine Parr, this one told by her best friend, Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk. The book begins after Henry VIII's death. In the first chapter, Katherine is also dead and her last husband, Thomas Seymour, is in big trouble. I don't know what the trouble is, but I do know that Thomas is not a very popular guy. The writing appears to be a bit too modern for the time period, but I admit that I'm pretty much dying to know what the big dilemma is that allegedly cost Katherine her life. I would like to read this back-to-back with The Last Wife of Henry VIII: A Novel and compare them.


More first-person, Tudor era fiction, however this one is not about one of the Tudors. It centers around members of the family of Sir Thomas More and artist Hans Holbein. In the first chapter, we are introduced to the family and our narrator, Meg Giggs, More's adopted daughter, and told of Meg's secret love for her former tutor John Clement. We witness the arrival of Master Hans, commissioned to paint a portrait of the More family. And I was hopelessly drawn in by the splendid writing! Meg's family life with the Mores is so vividly illustrated that I felt I was reading a personal diary. I will be making room for this one in the Master Plan.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cat Haiku

I need to make a public apology. I posted what I thought were funny Haiku lines in a comment on a very nice person's blog, and I think I may have offended her. And I'm really, really sorry if I did!! This person is a cat lover, as am I, and the lines I shared were from an email I received years ago that made me laugh hysterically. You see, my kitty Cleopatra (see my sidebar photo) was one of those cats that lived happily with us, but we were always pretty sure she thought of us as some bizarre sub-species. When I saw these lines of Cat Haiku, I could so totally picture Miss Cleo authoring them that to this day they make me smile. I share them now for all of you who have known these kinds of wonderfully superior beings! (And I mean that in only the kindest way!)

(And if I did offend my blog friend with my stupid sense of humor, please, please forgive me!)


The food in my bowl
Is old, and more to the point
Contains no tuna.

So you want to play.
Will I claw at dancing string?
Your ankle's closer

There's no dignity
In being sick - which is why
I don't tell you where.

Seeking solitude
I am locked in the closet.
For once I need you.

Tiny can, dumped in
Plastic bowl. Presentation,
One star; service: none.

Am I in your way?
You seem to have it backwards:
This pillow's taken.

Your mouth is moving;
Up and down, emitting noise.
I've lost interest.

The dog wags his tail,
Seeking approval. See mine?
Different message.

My brain: walnut-sized.
Yours: largest among primates.
Yet, who leaves for work?

Most problems can be
Ignored. The more difficult
Ones can be slept through.

My affection is conditional.
Don't stand up,
It's your lap I love.

Cats can't steal the breath
Of children. But if my tail's
Pulled again, I'll learn.

I don't mind being
Teased, any more than you mind
A skin graft or two.

So you call this thing
Your "cat carrier." I call
These my "blades of death."

Toy mice, dancing yarn
Meowing sounds. I'm convinced:
You're an idiot.

That last one was my favorite. Cleopatra was always incredibly not amused. :-)
Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


In an effort to create a more reasonable reading experience, I’ve decided to break the results of this project down into a few different posts. Thoughts on thirteen "First Chapters" are just too much to digest all at one time. I’ll give you the first four today, and the rest over the next couple of days.

I had a blast doing this, and if you enjoy the outcome, please let me know! I’m considering making this a regular feature.

THE DEVIL’S BONES by Jefferson Bass

This will most likely be the next book I read since I’ve already read and enjoyed the first two in this series. Plus it’s due back to the library in two weeks rather than the usual three because it’s a brand-spankin’ new book with a waiting list. Judging from the first chapter, it will be just like the others – a quick but educational forensic mystery romp with a pretty good story and a lot of forced humor. More on that when I do the full review.

(Side note: In the previous book, Flesh and Bone: A Body Farm Novel (Body Farm), a really great secondary character was killed off. I was very sad, and I’m very curious where the author will take that part of the ongoing storyline in this installment. No mention of it was made in Chapter One.)

THE GOD OF SPRING by Arabella Edge

Great cover art! Which is what drew me to picking up this book at all. And the inspiration for that very painting, Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault, is what the book is about. We learn in the first chapter that the artist, Gericault, is madly in love and conducting a ruinous affair with his patron-uncle’s young wife, Alexandrine, and it is causing an artist’s version of writer’s block during a time in which he is desperate to create a follow-up to his gold medal winning painting, Charging Chasseur. We learn his background, how his father wanted him to work in the family business while his mother encouraged his artistic abilities. There are lovely descriptions of Paris in 1818. I find myself wanting to know how he will dig himself out of his apathy toward his art and his obsession with his step-aunt to finally produce that beautiful and disturbing painting on the cover.

THE CRUSADER by Michael Alexander Eisner

Oh, my! It was all I could do to put this one down after the first chapter! I want to keep going!!! The year is 1275, the place is Santes Creus monastery, Spain. What happened to this man, Francisco de Montcada, who returned from the Crusades possessed by demons, who is now chained to a wall in the monastery, declared a "lost case" by the monks who have attempted exorcism? The story is told in first person by another monk who had been Francisco’s friend years before and who has come to help him overcome his madness. I need to hurry up with this project and get back to this one!!


Seriously, is it possible to get enough Tudor fiction? I don’t know what it is that continually attracts me. It’s not like I’m dying to see how the story ends. Don’t we all already know? :-) But something keeps me coming back for more. . . .

The Last Wife of Henry VIII is the story of Catherine Parr, Henry’s sixth wife and perhaps the one whose story is least familiar to me. (Hence, the other book about Catherine that is part of this project. More on that one in the future.) The story is told in first person which, as many have figured out by now, I just love! It begins with Catherine as a child, her mother as one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting, all of them at the Field of Cloth of Gold where little Catherine sees the young Anne Boleyn for the first time, before the King had set his sights on her. It appears we will be watching Henry’s parade of wives and mistresses through the eyes of the woman who will become his final spouse.

This has a lot of potential! I enjoyed Erickson’s The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette: A Novel, so I’m thinking this one should be pretty good, too.

Stay tuned for more "First Chapters"!


by Charles Dickens

It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.

A Tale of Two Cities begins with one of the most famous lines in literature, but after experiencing Paris’ Reign of Terror through Dickens’ engrossing characters, it was those ending words that took my breath away. I listened to A Tale of Two Cities as an audiobook which I played as I commuted to work and home each day, and I was so moved by the final scenes that as soon as I got home, I took my copy of the book from the shelf and reread the last few pages just so I could feel and savor the words one more time.

So much scholarly work has been done on Charles Dickens that I’m certain there is nothing revelatory that a simple lay reader such as I could possibly say. I can, however, tell you this: If you have not yet experienced this classic novel, at least give it a try. I know Dickens is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I approached this, my very first Dickens book, with a bit of apprehension. But if I would be so bold as to create my own list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, this would surely be on it.


Friday, April 18, 2008

New Contact Info

Happy Friday, Everyone!

On the "Books" front: It's almost time to sit myself down with my huge pile of library books and new purchases and make some reading decisions. (I just knew I couldn't stick with the plan I made in January!) So, here's my fun project for the weekend: Since I can't wait to dig into any of them, I'm going to read the first chapter of every single book and post my thoughts for your perusal and commentary. There are about a dozen, so this should be a blast! I'm hoping some will come off the "I really want to read this NOW" list. The others will have to worked into the Master Plan. . .

On the "Border Collies" front: I just found out the June CPE agility trial will be three days instead of the usual two and offer two rounds of my evil nemesis -- Snooker!! Perhaps I can pull off a Qualifying run this time. . . Either way, Max will be beside himself with doggie joy! And Skye will put up with me for one more weekend while praying for Peter's speedier recovery. :-)

Have a great weekend, Everybody, and stay tuned!


PS I have made my email-contact information available in my Profile in case anyone out there wants to say "hello"!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Let The New Season Begin!

Well, my Minnesota Timberwolves went out with a bang and won their final game in an exciting overtime! Unfortunately, a couple of my favorite players were out with injuries, but the rest of our boys did them proud! And our awesome ticket rep got us "rock star" seating for the game about four rows up directly behind the visitor bench. I could get used to those seats real quick like! (Thanks, Mike!) Now we take a breath, wait to see what happens with the lottery, and get ready to cheer my boys on next season. Have a great summer, guys, and we'll see you in October!!

OK, back to real life:

I scored big at the library yesterday! I know it's not like I don't have 200+ books that need reading sitting on my shelf in the bedroom, and it's not like *any* of these books are on my current challenge lists, but you know how it is. I'm among friends, and no one will turn me in to the Crazy Police. Peter was thrilled that they were from the library and not the store, so I'm safe there. Or at least I was until I told him I was really just looking them all over to see if I wanted to buy them. :-) They're all books I've been picking up at Borders or Barnes & Noble for weeks and have not been able to decide if I should add them to the permanent library or not. He thought spending the weekend perusing the library copies was a pretty good interim plan. Here is what I picked up:

The Canterbury Papers : A Novel by Judith Koll Healy
The God of Spring: A Novel by Arabella Edge
The Crusader: A Novel by Michael Alexander Eisner
The Last Wife of Henry VIII: A Novel by Carolly Erickson
Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster
The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker

Have any of you read any of these? Any opinions? My poor head is spinning! And just to top it all off, I got the new catalog from The Teaching Company who is offering a new course on Classic British Literature, and they'll bundle it with their course on Russian Literature for a resistance-crushing discount. Ah, me! To have such problems!! :-)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


by Elizabeth Berg

I must begin this review with a full confession: Elizabeth Berg is my aunt. I adore her and I want to be her when I grow up. :-) There. The secret is out.

Beth's new book of short stories, The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation, was released yesterday, and I immediately acquired a copy for myself and sat down to read the title story. Anyone who has ever been on a diet will relate to the narrator's defiant act of hookey from her Weight Watcher's meeting. And the giggly elation of eating all day with no boundaries! And, most likely, that final unfulfilled feeling.

Then I moved on to the second story about a middle-aged woman who unexpectedly comes face to face with her first love. Remember all the amazing feelings your first love was able to conjure up? Would you still feel that way now?

I have another confession to make. I have only read three of Beth's books. Why? Because she's so real that it hurts. I love Beth's writing. I always feel like we're having a private conversation when I read her work, and these little stories are no exception. It's like gossiping with a really funny friend. A really funny friend who is acutely aware of what makes us human, aware of the insecurities and tears beneath the laughter. She doesn't always point it out directly, but you know she knows. And you love her for it, because she makes it okay to be imperfect.

I only read the first two stories in this collection, because I want to stretch these little nuggets of fun and real life out for a while. I'm going to laugh out loud, and I know for a fact she's going to make me cry. And I'm going to feel vulnerable, empowered, ridiculous, smart and okay just the way I am. Thanks, Beth!


Updated -- May 16, 2008

I read them all now. My favorites were "Rain" (keep your hanky handy), and "How to Make an Apple Pie". I could just picture that lady writing the letter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. I have not made note of it only because I'm not much of a poetry person. Not that I don't want to be. It's just not a skill I have spent any amount of time honing, and therefore a lot of poetry's end is greeted by me with a blank stare. I aim to change that eventually. In fact, I have recently purchased How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch. If I'd have been more on top of things, I would have planned to read it this month in honor of National Poetry Month. I'm quick on the uptake, aren't I? :-)

Anyway, being mostly ignorant when it comes to poetry does not necessarily mean I have no appreciation for it at all, so I would like to share with you a gorgeous poem that I really do love by Christina Rossetti:


by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

WHEN I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

("Song" is reprinted from Goblin Market and other Poems. Christina Rosetti. Cambridge: Macmillan, 1862.)

I adore that poem. I was reminded of it as I sat by my Great Aunt Cathy's bedside in the hospital. She was in her final hours and, of course, I was crying. She had very little strength left, but she took my hand and said very quietly, "Don't cry for me, Lezlie. I know where I'm going." And she smiled. And so did I. If she was good with it, so was I. And that's how I want it to be for me when it's my time. Don't cry for me. Smile and be happy for the time we had, remember if it makes you feel good, and go on with your life, because that's what I'll be doing. In a manner of speaking. :-)

That's what that poem means to me.

Read other Christina Rossetti poems and learn more about her here.

And here are some books of her poetry if you fall in love with her as much as I did:

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Thoughts on No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God, the second and third volumes of Chinua Achebe’s "African Trilogy":
"Let them come and see men and women and children who knew how to live, whose joy of life had not yet been killed by those who claimed to teach other nations how to live."
From No Longer At Ease, p. 57.
In a book about a young Nigerian man who starts the story full of hope as a new university graduate freshly returned to his homeland from England and ends as a victim of "the good life", that line struck me as painfully heartbreaking. Obi Okonkwo, grandson of the main character of Things Fall Apart: A Novel, despite his education, is woefully unprepared for the real world, and once his optimism for the future is cracked it doesn’t take long for his ethics to fail also. One could easily insert a soapbox lecture concerning present-time corporate America here, but I’ll save that for some other day. Suffice it to say there are a lot of parallels just begging to be drawn. Not to mention the obvious political one that could be hinted at in the opening quote.

No Longer at Ease was a quick read and I enjoyed it very much. Comparing it to Things Fall Apart (see my review here), it was interesting to see life from the perspective of one of the Ibo people who was assimilating into the European Christian way of life. The picture is not pretty.

Arrow of God returns the central point of view to village life, albeit one that is already in mid-transformation. Chief Priest Ezeulu battles to continue Ibo traditions, but the White Man’s influence slowly whittles away his power in the community until the inevitable end.

Both of these simple but beautifully crafted novels made me sad. Not "depressed" sad, but more akin to "why do people suck so much" sad. I know. Not a very scholarly description, but there you have it. And hopefully the feelings I’m taking away from Achebe’s "African Trilogy" will stay in my mind as I watch the leaders of my own country and help me make better decisions regarding who I want at the helm of this strong and potentially dangerous nation. There I go getting all political again. I think I need to give Mr. Achebe’s writings a rest before I find myself picketing on the streets! :-)


Friday, April 11, 2008


by Daniel Quinn

Since my reading has slowed to a snail's pace with everything else going on lately, I would like to introduce you all to my friend Gail, who sent me her review of Daniel Quinn's The Holy to help keep the "Books" part of "Books 'N Border Collies" on track.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present Gail . . .
(Insert wild applause here) :-)


The story revolves around a man who wants to know what happened to the "false gods" of the Israelis, namely Baal, Moloch and their ilk. Why did the Jews reject the proven God of their fathers for the gods of their neighbors? I was electrified by the question, and began the book with high expectations.

It all reads like a nightmare thriller. The characters are thrown into situations only cooked up in dreams but with more detrimental consequences. The encountered beings play a bit fast and loose with their mortal counterparts, rather like earth-bound versions of Hera and Zeus, though we're asked to believe that they are neither malevolent nor benevolent. This forces the reader to view them in much the way we view God, beyond reproach for their superior understanding of our good. I also found the convoluted nature of the action often overshadowed character development which can leave motivation in question. I wanted to follow this book like it was a great revelation, but ultimately, I felt a bit betrayed by my own naiveté. I will say this, I could barely put it down as it was a constant romp of action and imagination.

The real mystery is "Who is Daniel Quinn?" I felt like he really did want to lead me somewhere and apparently he does. After a quick internet search I found he is an animist, espousing a world view not unlike an evangelist. He believes that all life has a soul of some kind and that people are destroying the world by feeding the hungry - people who, by rights, are not sustainable. This is a very meager view of his message, but it did pull me back from taking his novel as a beacon of light. In the end I didn't feel that the question initially asked was answered. All I can find is that the false gods are as mysterious in their ways as God and the Bible. Daniel Quinn, therefore, is not my prophet. The search continues.

Note from Gail: I welcome the comments of anyone who's read this book or any other by Mr. Quinn. He's definitely a thought-provoker.

Other books by Daniel Quinn:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Amazon Kindle

I have a couple of questions for my visitors:

1) Do any of you have the Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device? If so, how do you like it? I'm thinking about purchasing one.

2) Are any of you Amazon Associates? I am, but I can't make purchases through my own site. Well, I could, but there wouldn't be any financial benefit, so if I'm going to buy things from Amazon, I'd like to help someone else make a little money!!


Monday, April 7, 2008

. . . 'N Border Collies -- Dog Trial -- Day Two

And now for the continuation of the Border Collies portion of our show. . . :-)

Thank you, everyone, for your support this weekend! And, J.C., you're exactly right. Tired Border Collies? Ha! Max got home, chased all the wildlife out of the yard and wanted to play ball for the rest of the night. Skye is more normal. He was pretty much ready for bed like the rest of us. Though I think working with me made him mentally tired, since he's not really used to it. It didn't translate into titles this weekend, but we're getting the hang of each other while Peter's knee heals. I'll bet Skye is counting the days until Dad can run with him again! He's not quite as confident with Mom out there.

It's difficult to run multiple dogs with such different styles. Skye is very precise and any wrong move on the handler's behalf can cause a mistake. Max runs like a bull in a china shop, but I've been working with him since he was a pup, so I'm used to his quirks and how to handle him. With Skye, not Qualifying (or "Q", for short) is usually the result of one or two small handler errors that will cause him to knock a bar down on a jump or take a single off-course obstacle. Nothing real outrageous, but enough to miss the Q. With Max, small handler errors can result in a total trainwreck with Max-o tearing around like the Tazmanian Devil to the great amusement of the audience. And, in the case of our first run on Sunday, the judge. :-) But that's the beauty of a four-legged team mate. They love you even when you mess up their Q's!

Sunday wasn't quite as stellar on paper as was Saturday, but it was still a great day: 5 Q's out of 10 runs, a 1st place and three 4th places. I was a little brain-fried, and the boys were antsy from being in their kennels so much the previous day that the runs were a little wilder. Especially Max. ("What do you mean, 'Wait' at the start line? I'm going now!! You can catch up at the weave poles, ok?") I had to start setting him up with his back to the course at the start line so he wouldn't take off before I was ready. :-) Hey, it worked!

I'm home today, because I have to clean my house. It looks like a band of monkeys moved in. And I really want to get to my reading!! We've been so busy that it's taking me over a week to read a 200 page book. What's up with that? In the meantime, I'm going to steal peaks at the cool pile of ribbons Max and Skye brought home while I vaccuum. :-)

Have a good day, everybody!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Agility Trial -- Day One

I am exhausted! Up at 4:00 am, an hour drive, and 10 hours in a horse barn running in the dirt with our dogs! In total, there were about 350 runs. That's a lot of agility, my friends! But what a good day!

Between both boys we Qualified in 6 of our 10 runs, placing 1st in four of those and 3rd in one. Yay, Max and Skye!! No finished titles, but no big deal. They were awesome today!

Now I have to go clean up, hug the dogs some more, get some sleep, and get up to do it again tomorrow. Stay tuned for Day Two! :-)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Teaching Company

I've been meaning to talk about The Teaching Company for quite some time, but this Booking Through Thursday question has provided a great opportunity!

Here is a description from their own site:

The Teaching Company brings engaging professors into your home or car through courses on DVD, audio CD, and other formats. Since 1990, great teachers from the Ivy League, Stanford, Georgetown, and other leading colleges and universities have crafted over 200 courses for lifelong learners. We provide the adventure of learning, without the homework or exams.

In addition to "courses" on subject like History (Ancient & Medieval or Modern), Philosophy, Music and Art, etc., they have an amazing list of Literature offerings. For those of you who, like me, would like to get more out of reading "literature", be it just a little more background on a variety of works or an in-depth analysis of something like Ulysses or The Iliad, The Teaching Company has something to offer.

As you explore their offerings, don't let the prices scare you. Not only can you often get many of them from the library, every course goes on sale at least once a year, and the prices are slashed to very affordable levels. I check their On Sale page regularly.

I am a huge fan of The Teaching Company and have not only listened to dozens of their courses that I checked out of the public library, but I've bought many. I can't say enough good things about them. I've enjoyed all of the professors immensely, I always learn a lot and it's much cheaper than enrolling in school. And most importantly, I can study what I want, when I want with no pesky pop quizzes or papers to write. :-)

If you have used courses from The Teaching Company or do so in the future, please let me know how you liked the experience!

Happy learning!

Booking Through Thursday

When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)

Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

Dickens, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, definitely. Melville, Austen, Bronte, Poe, Hugo, check. Faulkner, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Huxley, Orwell, yup. Homer, Dante. All that stuff. In fact, I just bought "William Faulkner: A Literary Companion" last night. The word "literature" makes my brain start smoking with thinking of all the books I want to read. The standard "classics" are usually the first thing I think of, but I'm learning to add more modern books to that label. Though I suppose "classics" is a word we could all haggle about also. :-)

I do read "literature". A lot more than I used to. Years ago I wrote reviews for a romance novel newsletter, so that was all I read for about 5 years. Then I went on a murder myster/thriller rampage for a long time. In the last couple of years I have made a conscious effort to read more "literature", and I have become a convert. Not that I don't love the others, too! Who doesn't like to break up serious reading with a good, gruesome slasher every now and then? :-) OK, those aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I think we all have our catagories of what we consider "fluff" reading in which we indulge to balace things out. I'm really enjoying not only all the old classics I missed out on earlier, but discovering more modern and world literature that I never took the time to explore before.

Here's to looking forward to more "Lit-Ra-Chur"!

Play along with Booking Through Thursday here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools!

It's not really spring! At least not here in Siberia. Oh, wait. I mean "Minne-snow-ta". About six inches fell yesterday. Big sigh. I hear it's supposed to get to 50 degrees by the weekend and melt this mess, so I guess all I can do is cross my fingers, right?

Anyway, not too bad a reading month for me. It was a little busy, as usual, but I still managed to fit nine books in between work, three nights a week of dog school, and watching Timberwolves games. I looooooove my Timberwolves, and I'll be sad when the season ends in two weeks, but I will be happy to get my reading time back! :-) The list of what I read is at the bottom of my blog. For anyone wondering about those non-reviewed books, I will be writing about Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series that I've been listening to, but I wanted to get well into it first.

Here's where I stand with my first year of Challenges:

Non-Fiction Five starts next month, so I'm 0/5
Spring Reading Challenge -- 8/27
Anything Agatha -- 0/10 (I'll be getting to this soon)
Pub Challenge -- 2/8
Chunkster Challenge -- 1/4
888 Challenge -- 6/64
TBR Challenge -- 6/24
Bookmarks' Best of 2007 -- 1/10
A-Z Challenge -- 12/52
Decades Challenge -- 5/8
Short Story Challenge -- 2/10
100+ Book Challenge -- 23 Total

Hmmmm. Doesn't look very impressive on paper. I better get moving! :-)

Reading for this coming weekend will be put on hold as we have a full weekend of CPE Dog Agility competition. Yippee!! Max will be thrilled! His birthday is on Friday (he'll be 4), and he gets to spend his whole doggie weekend doing what he loves most: Run, Run, Jump, Jump, Weave, Weave! You can read about our trial last month here. Skye could potentially earn three Titles this weekend. Max only has a shot at finishing up one, but he earned two at the last trial, so we're off the hook a little this time! If only we could earn that elusive Snooker Q. I am soooo bad at that game.

Other than that, we're off to the T-Wolves game tonight, so despite the 10,000 feet of snow, I'm a smiling chick! I'm hoping Craig "The Rhino" Smith makes a bunch of baskets tonight, because they play the cutest video of a charging rhino on the Jumbo-tron when he does! When it's this stupidly cold at this time of year, you just have to focus on the little things, ya know? Besides, I have a huge crush on him. Too bad I'm old enough to be his mother. :-) (Though their mascot, Crunch, has a special place in my heart, too. He reminds me of a crazy Border Collie!)

Happy reading, everyone!