Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review - Sharp Teeth

I chose Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow for my book club pick in July. When I introduced the book club members to it, I told them there were four reasons I had selected it:

1. It was suggested by a friend whose opinion on the written word I respect.

2. The cover. It looks like a rock band poster.

Oh man, that's awesome.

2. It's about modern-day werewolves in L.A.

3. Aaaaaand it's written in free verse. Yeah. You heard me. FREE VERSE.

Most of the them were with me right up until #4. When I opened the book to show them the broken lines of poetry the light in their eyes was suddenly extinguished like a wet-fingered pinch to a candle flame.


I enjoyed it immensely. It was very different. You could really sink your teeth into (slight pun intended) the language once you synced with the flow of the verses. Barlow is a master of the words. Everything seemed rich and vivid written in such sparse form and he used it to his advantage. Blood seemed thicker and redder. You could smell the hot earth blown bone dry by the Santa Ana winds and the musky tangy of wet dog. You could feel the pulse and jump of the chase, the dampness of tears. See the shimmering skyline of L.A.

There were also some particularly insightful moments:

"Everyone is always looking in the wrong direction,
we worry about our lovers while losing our jobs
we stress out about cancer while our children run away
we ponder the stars while burning the earth.
Lark used to say the bullet we're running from
is almost never the one that hits us."

"What would you do to
protect the love you have?
Would you kill?
Would you hunt to kill?
Would you kill without mercy?
And if you wouldn't
then how precious is your love?"

Keeping track of all the characters proved a challenge for some. Obviously, it wasn't the first time it had come up because several of the paperback editions had a list of the characters. (Mine did not. I had the hardback version.)

We were split on the ending. I thought it suited the story, but others felt it to be incomplete. 

Since finishing the book, I haven't looked at my dog in quite the same way. I keep watching him out of the corner of my eye. I could have sworn I left my keys in my purse and there was more gas in the car last night...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Faves - Foxes

Friday is one of my favorite days of the week. Work is ending and the weekend is beginning, new movies come on at the theater, you order take-out and go home to veg on the couch or have a few drinks with friends. Friday is casual, Friday is relaxing, Friday is the perfect day to post some of my favorite things.

The fox is one of my favorite animals. They are cunning beasts of storybook fables and in real life they are incredibly adaptable creatures.

When I was living in Colorado, I had a close-fox-encounter in downtown Denver. I'd been playing poker with some friends and in the early wee hours of the morning (2am-ish) I was strolling back to my car, parked two blocks off one of the major streets in downtown Denver. As I got closer to the car, a dog ran across the street and stopped under a streetlight.

Thinking someone's pet had gotten loose, I tried to coax it over with a "Heeeere doggydoggydoggy."

I was not drunk.

I swear.

When it turned in my direction, I realized it wasn't a dog at all, but a red fox. After giving me a scornful glance ("Did you just call me a DOG?? Idiot!"), it trotted off and disappeared between two houses.


Here are some other neato foxy items:


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Notes from the Lab - The Paleo Diet

Week One of my Paleo Diet has come and gone. It wasn't easy, particularly when I had a lunch meeting where I found myself staring pathetically at my friend's sliders and fries while I had a salad - hold the dressing.

I may have gotten a little teary.

What is the Paleo Diet, you ask? It is a diet that says you can eat like you're living in the Stone Age, when our ancestors migrated, following the herds, and gathered what they could from the wilderness. Back in the day when we were a notch lower on the food chain and getting together around the fire at night to nosh on a brontosaurus haunch and chat with the clan mates was a PAR-TAY.

I'm realizing that it's going to be rather difficult to do this diet well if one does not cook or own a grill. However, I did recently purchase a slow cooker in which to pot roast the hell outta some brontosaurus haunch. (Is "pot roast" a verb? Well it is now, bitches.)

Basically the idea is that you don't eat any processed foods. Sorry, folks. No Twinkies in the early Stone Age, though if we were to unearth some ancient Twinkies they would probably still taste good. No flour, no sugar, no dairy (though dairy is a point of contention in the Paleo community, depending on who you talk to). You're also encouraged to steer away from other inflammatory foods - potatoes, legumes, other nightshades, etc. - particularly if you are making a diet change to help arthritic or digestive issues.

And you're expected to drink water, and only water. For the continued health and well-being of those around me, I'm still drinking one cup of black coffee in the morning.

You can go to the extreme with this whole idea. Some people only eat meat they actually hunt and kill themselves and grow in a pesticide-free garden or wild-gather, but unless I want to limit myself to diet of grasshoppers and grass that's out.

How is this different from Atkin's and other protein-heavy diets? Paleo isn't about eating one or two food groups exclusively and it isn't about weight loss, though that is often a side effect. Paleo encourages a variety of foods, many, many veg, fruits and nuts as well as protein. It also discourages pre-packaged, un-natural foods in which most of the original nutrients have been stripped and then chemically added in and flavored.

I've purchased several cookbooks so far. Well-Fed, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, Practical Palo and, most recently, Primal Cravings. The last, Primal Cravings is brand new. I haven't cooked from it yet, but the deserts look scrumptious.

Well-Fed is beautifully designed. The Pad Thai recipe was very, very tasty, as was the Faux Rice. But the other recipes I've attempted ranged from "meh" to downright "blech". The Bora Bora Fireballs were overly complicated and surprisingly bland, and the Jicama Home Fries were downright gross.

Everyday Paleo has some tasty, simple recipes, but the photographs look like they came out of a 1970 Betty Crocker cookbook and are a major turn off.

The one I've used most so far and has the most extensive introductory to the program (50% of the book) was Practical Paleo. I've tweaked most of the recipes I've made just to suit my own individual tastes, but all of them have been very good. I really liked the blueberry muffins, pumpkin cranberry muffins, the Spaghetti Squash Bolognaise, and the Salmon Patties.

There are also a couple of go-to sites to check out for tasty recipes: Pinterest, Nom Nom Paleo, and OMGPaleo.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Your Path

Not everyone will understand your journey.

That's fine.

It's not their journey to make sense of.

It's yours.


I saw this on a friend's Facebook page and it struck a cord with me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

This Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. It's a list of fabulous authors who I believe deserve more airtime. Even the award-winning ones.

Sharon Shinn - She has several fantasy series (I particularly enjoyed the Samaria novels about archangels), but my favorite novel is a stand-alone fantasy, Summers at Castle Auburn.

Lucy Christopher - Stolen. Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped. Disturbing and thought-provoking.

Kashmira Sheth - Keeping Corner is a YA novel of a girl's life in India when the boy she's betrothed to at a young age dies unexpectedly. I love any novel set in India. I did a review of the book here.

A. Lee Martinez - I am reluctant to compare anyone to Terry Pratchett because he is an incredible, unique writer, but A. Lee Martinez comes close in the book Divine Misfortune.  

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Mistress of Spices has all the flavors of India between its covers.

James D. Doss - In Doss' mystery series, Ute tribal detective, Charlie Moon, and his local police chief sidekick, Scott Parris, tame the modern wilds of Colorado and attempt to keep Charlie's feisty, elderly, shaman auntie, Daisy, out of mischief. Doss is a natural storyteller, and his writing is sprinkled with wry humor and surprising insight. The books are better if you read them in order.

Riane Eisler - The books The Chalice and the Blade and When God Was a Woman were mind-expanding books for me.

Lois McMaster Bujold - I haven't read anything by her that I haven't liked, and how many authors as prolific as Bujold can you say that about? She writes fantasy AND sci-fi equally well and she is an incredible world and character builder. Among her fantasy novels my favorite is The Curse of Chalion. In the sci-fi realm, The Vorkosigian Saga is my favorite. Yes, ALL of them. It's a SAGA.

Lish McBride - Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a fun, paranormal young adult book with relatable characters. I did a review on my blog of it here.

Colin Cotterill - When I read the premise of his Dr. Siri Paiboun series, I couldn't see myself enjoying a mystery series about a 70+ year-old coroner in communist-controlled Laos in the mid-to-late 1970s. (Seriously?? It there anything that sounds less fun?) But starting with a book called The Coroner's Lunch, I found myself voraciously devouring these books one right after the other.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Banksy is a Font of Wisdom

"Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Leave the house before you find something worth staying in for."  --  Banksy

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Reintroduction


Has it really been that long?

I'm sort of embarrassed to continue this blog at all considering the time that has passed since my last post. The only way to move forward is to just consider it a fresh start and begin here, despite the almost irresistible urge to rip out the previous pages and start over.

Mymy how time flies and situations change. Where to start?

Holly House is (mostly) complete. There are still some cosmetic things to take care of, but all-in-all  I can consider it done. As much as any house one owns is ever really "done".  No one told me about the constant upkeep, repairs, and lawn mowing involved in owning a home, and now it's too late to change my mind. This heap is mine forever and I plan to haunt it when I die, just to make sure I get my money's worth.

This is an old photo. I have shrubberies now.

For those of you who read my Stray Dog Saga, Obi is awesome and tick-borne disease free.

Thanks to my friend Larry, endless hours of weekend and after-work labor in intense heat, and literal blood, sweat and tears, Obi now has a large fenced yard in which to gambol about. He and my 17 year-old cat Beckett have become fast friends. I wouldn't say I've completely converted into a "dog person" exactly, but I am definitely a this particular dog person.

Who can resist this cute widdle face?

My friend Brian and his cat Cooper moved into Holly House at the beginning of March 2013. It made my tiny home even tinier. Except for a few minor issues, which we managed to work out in a ugly screaming match, it's been a pretty smooth transition. It was difficult for me as a single, loner, home-owner to share space with someone again (MY space! MINE!! My preccciousssss...), but it's been good and it's kept me from reverting into my natural state as a complete recluse.

Especially since my dad died in November of 2012.


Yeah. That whole situation is still too painful to discuss. It's barely scabbed and I don't want to start picking at it.


I changed jobs about a year-and-a-half ago. It was a huge career advance and a big, scary, leap of faith, but has turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. A year-and-a-half later, I still love it even though most of the shiny has worn off. It's different every day, super challenging and the people I work with are fabulous (mostly). Oh, and I make a little more money. BONUS!

Since I've been absent from the blogosphere, I've done a bit of reading, a tiny bit of writing, a portion of a meditation retreat (interrupted) and almost no art at all, but I have plans to remedy all that.

I'm starting my Paleo Diet Challenge on July 13th and as a result of no bread, no pasta and no potatoes will probably be a giant, grumpy, carb-free, pain in the ass to be around for the entire 21 days. Consider yourself warned.


Now you're all caught up. We'll see how it goes from here.