Monday, January 1, 2018

The Books of 2017!


2017 was a great year for reading! I consumed a total of 35 books, six of which were audio books. That's a record for me since I started keeping track in 2010. I'm pretty pleased about it.

I still participate in a monthly book group, which I love because my friends introduce me to books I might never read without the group. This year I started using the Goodreads app to log my reading, which has been fun, but I still write down my books in a journal. Goodreads also allows me to see what other people are reading, so I have discovered many new books on that app, too.

Here they are, my books of 2017!!!!

The Selection 
The Elite
The One
Happily Ever After
The Heir
The Crown  -all by Kiera Cass  (If you want quick reads with only moderately frustrating characters, these books are fun.)
This Is Not the Life I Ordered - Stephens, Speire, Risley, Yanehiro (I don't love self-help books)
The Sound of Gravel -Ruth Wariner (Wow. The experience of a girl raised in a polygamous Mormon group in Mexico. Heartbreaking.)
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn -Betty Smith (Loved)
The Orphan Keeper -Camron Wright (Really good)
The Girls -Lori Lansens (A good read)
Heartless -Marissa Meyer (SO VERY GOOD)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets -JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -JK Rowling (I'm still reading the Harry Potter series, one chapter a week, along with the podcast "Harry Potter and the Sacred Text" and loving it.)
Salt to the Sea -Ruta Sepetys *audio book* (I loved it.)
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World -Vicky Myron (Super Cute true story!)
The Martian -Andy Weir (LOVED it.)
The Secret Life of Bees -Sue Monk Kidd (A wonderful book. I want to read more by this author.)
Legion #2: Skin Deep -Brandon Sanderson (Such a fun book. I need to read more by Sanderson!)
The Handmaid's Tale -Margaret Atwood (Wow and yuck. A powerful read.)
Animal Farm -George Orwell (My first time reading it. I found it to be disturbing and interesting.)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them -JK Rowling as Newt Scamander  (Adorable!)
The Color of Fire -Ann Rinaldi (I remember reading other historical fiction novels by her as a kid, and I will definitely seek out more. I like her storytelling, and I like quickly-read young-adult books.)
1984 -George Orwell *audio book* (I tried reading this before but couldn't get going. It was easier in audio format. A good book.)
Wool -Hugh Howey (Yes, please. I'm going to have to read everything by this author.)
Shift -Hugh Howey (Ditto)
Dear John -Nicholas Sparks (This author has a format to his books and he's a best-seller, but he's not my favorite.)
After The Storm, Kate Burkholder #7 -Linda Castillo (A fun action/mystery novel. Though I liked it, I probably won't read any others in the series.)
The Girl On The Train -Paula Hawkind *audio book* (I really liked it.)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -Stieglarsson *audio book* (I REALLY liked this. I plan to read the others in the series written by the original author.)
Murder on the Orient Express -Agatha Christie *audio book* (My first Agatha Christie book. It was fun, but full of SO MUCH racial profiling, it was a bit distracting.)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child -Rowling, Tiffany, and Thorne (A fun read.)
Selected Poetry by Lewis Carol -Carol *audio book* (Very enjoyable! There were some good ones I'd never heard before.)
Celebrations: Rituals of Peace & Prayer -Maya Angelou (Powerful, inspiring poetry.)
Gift from the Sea -Anne Morrow Lindbergh (It took me a little bit to get into it, but then I was hooked. So many good reminders of how to bring peace into my life.)

A couple discoveries I've made about audio books: I love listening to British novels read by British actors. Also, books with multiple narrators that have different actors reading for each voice in the book (Salt to the Sea, The Girl on the Train) are SO ENJOYABLE.

2018 is off to a good start! I am partway through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and just started Dust by Hugh Howey

365 fresh days ahead! (Well, more accurately, it's about 364.29 fresh days ahead, but who's counting?)
What books are on your "To Read" list for 2018???

Saturday, December 23, 2017


I get colder and colder every year...
Or I become less capable of dealing with cold temperatures every year.

My family moved from Ohio to California in the Fall of 1992, just in time for me to start the 4th grade. I prided myself on the fact that I wore shorts every single day of that school year. Why would I need long pants in a place where it never snowed?!?

Over time, I have acclimated to my lovely Californian home, and now I think 50ºF is cold. Also, I'm not a cocky ten-year-old anymore, so there's that. This year, I've noticed that I am bundling up more than most of the people around me. It's ridiculous.

Last Winter I wore leggings or long underwear and a long-sleeved shirt under my scrubs every day that I worked. This year, I am again wearing a base layer, but I also walk around with a fleece sweatshirt zipped up on top of my scrubs. AND I put a beanie on during the midday when we aren't seeing clients. This is INSIDE at vet's office. The building is old, with cinderblock walls and an inadequate HVAC system. Add in the heating and AC battles duked out by the front and back staff, and I have a constantly frigid workspace.  (The front of the building, where the receptionist sit in a small space with lots of warm computers, is the only area that gets warmed up by the sun. They're constantly turning the thermostat down, while the techs in the bigger work areas are constantly turning the thermostat up, myself included.)

My intolerance of the cold has gradually worsened over time. I have long been the person who exits the swimming pool before anyone else, with chattering teeth and blue lips in the middle of summer. However, now I don't even get in a pool unless it's 100ºF outside. In Fall and Winter, beanies and gloves are a regular part of my apparel. I know that's not unusual this time of year, but I LIVE IN THE TRI-VALLEY, not the Sierras. Some people blame it on the "lack of meat on my bones" but I don't buy it. I'd blame my hypothyroidism, but I take my little pill every day and have normal levels of thyroid hormone in my blood, so I don't think that's the reason either. I do have a great-grandfather and great-uncle who each underwent an amputation surgery due to poor circulation, so maybe it's that?

I worry about what I will wear next Winter. Can I fit another layer under my clothes? Should I invest in foot warmers for inside my shoes? Will it scare the dogs and cats if I wear ear muffs in the exam rooms? Is it okay to walk down the street wearing a ski mask?

At this rate, I highly suspect I will want to retire some place warm. I'm suddenly feeling a connection to all of the old people who retire to Florida or San Diego. Unless my body temperature changes drastically when I go through menopause, or climate change causes Winter temps to increase in my home town, I don't see how I can avoid a tropical destination in twenty-five years.
Oh well.

My nose is cold.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reflections On My 35th Birthday

I am officially thirty-five years old.

I am also one of the lucky ones.

I have thought that sentence many times in my head, but I don't know that I have ever written it here. I'm going to do it again, for emphasis...

I am one of the lucky ones.

My birthday is one of my favorite days. It is a day to celebrate my life, to recognize how much I have and how much I have accomplished. It's a day to thank my parents for bringing me into this world. It is also the day when people I love, from the many scattered pieces of my life, reach out to me and wish me well. I am surrounded by so much love from so many good people, and that is why I am so lucky.

My first best friend in life is still in my life, thanks to social media. My cousins, who I haven't seen in years, share their lives with me daily, also thanks to social media. The girls I loved in middle school have grown into women who I still adore spending time with today. I have an incredible group of friends from high school who get together a few times a year and get along without skipping a beat. I have college friends who share their big life events with me. ME. Why am I so lucky? My husband is smart, kind, and makes me laugh. We are so different and we love each other whether it makes sense or not. I have witty, generous, intelligent, good children - they love to read, explore, sing, and laugh. My family is incredible. Have you met my parents? They are good and kind. My mom is the most giving, caring person I know and she lives right across town!!! I have aunts and uncles, too, and they have always made me feel loved and accepted. I married into a big family and gained sisters, brothers, cousins, parents, and grandparents who have shown me love and friendship, and I AM SO LUCKY. I get to go to work in a building full of strong, intelligent, capable women who show graciousness and compassion every day. I actually really like all of my coworkers, and I genuinely adore many of them. Can you say that? Why am I so lucky? I have friends from church who have not judged me or treated me differently since I left the religion that brought us together. I have made new friends through a supportive ex-Mormon community and I have gained forever friendships that have changed my life. I have an amazing bunch of new lady friends who feel like family, because my daughter made friends with great kids at school.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am insanely lucky to be surrounded by so much love from so many people who matter so very much to me.

So... Thank you.
Thank you for making me one of the lucky ones on my birthday and everyday. I value our friendships and connections more than you may realize.