2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge: Book #3

Things are getting interesting and are requiring a little more research.

Book #3: A book about letters. 

I will admit. At first I thought “aren’t all books about letters? I mean that’s what they are made of”. And then it dawned on me that “letters” meant correspondence, not the alphabet.

No books came to mind to fit the prompt, so it was back to The Google. A simple search brought up my next pick.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

A one sided conversation commences in the form of letters written from Screwtape, a high ranking devil, to his nephew Woodworm, a new graduate and lowly tempter on Earth.

Woodworm has found his target in a man who has just started to flirt with Christianity. Screwtape’s letters are filled with the various ways to cloud the man’s judgement and bring him closer to Hell.

The book is a satirical look at the world and humanity. C.S. Lewis expertly uses Screwtape to point out the flaws, both petty and serious, that reside in the human race and while it is at once thought provoking, it is also overly weighted down with long sentences and details.

Part of my issue with the book was that I was incredibly sick when I read it. My tolerance for keeping my eyes open lasted about an hour before my heavy eyelids begged to be closed. I believe that even in perfect condition, I would have found the letters tedious to read with the choice of wording provided.

I tend to always finish a book I’ve started, but it was a real challenge to finish this one. A great premise, but tedious in execution. Still, there were some passages that have stuck with me especially one about the human need for change. I no longer have my copy of the book, so I can’t plagiarize here, but to summarize Screwtape waxes on about how humans love change as a way to escape the monotony of their view of the world. However, the change can not be real and unexpected change. Instead we relish in the changes that are expected such as the seasons: each quarter of the year bringing an onslaught of new sensations, climate, plant life and life style. Yet, each year the seasons are the same: Winter begets Spring with Summer close on its heels and ending in another Fall. There are no surprises with each. The same brilliant foliage we stare at this fall will return the next.

In the end though, it wasn’t enough to salvage my opinion of the book as a whole.







2017 Reading Challenge

POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge Book #2

My mom and I are doing this challenge together with each of us getting to pick the book for every other prompt. This was her turn.

Book #2: A book that has been on your to read list for too long: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. 

I’m sure I probably read this in high school. Most people in the US are forced to read this and many others way before they are mature enough to comprehend the content. If I did though, I don’t recall and nothing in the book brought up any memories.

This book is an american classic and I can see why even though in the end I wouldn’t want to add it to my collection or read  again.

Of Mice and Men is a heart breaking story about the intangible: dreams, friendship, and power.

The book is set in depression era California as two men try to find work as a ranch hand to earn “a stake”.  They are a mismatched pair to be sure: George is slender, small of stature and big of mind while Lennie is a brute with the intelligence and naivete of a small child. They have one common dream that brings them together and draws other characters in and that is to have their own plot of land to farm and live off of with all the freedom it brings.

The most prominent theme is about dreams. How fragile they are. How easy to build, believe in and lose.  We find ourselves introduced to George and Lennie after half a life time of being together. The farm has become such an ingrained part of the future, that they both can repeat the same detailed description over and over again. It is real enough to touch and George only really comes alive when he is picturing it

Throughout the novel other characters interact with this dream. Some beg for a piece of it to call their own and others challenge that it isn’t real. In rough times, the talk of the farm brings Lennie and George closer and at peace.

It is particularly powerful then when the book closes with the same images of the farm with the rabbits and chickens and garden vegetables all laid out before George and Lennie’s eyes as everything comes to a close.

When I completed the book, I sat and stared for a while. I was more than just sad…I was downtrodden. A dream so real you can touch it, taste it, smell it. A dream that keeps you moving ever forward through all the muck and more that life throws at you. When George admits to the world that it isn’t ever going to happen. That it was never going to be real. That he has given up. Well, that just wrenches your heart right out.

If you haven’t read it, I don’t know. It’s not my favorite for sure. It is slow to start with overly descriptive passages about the location and scenery. It took me about half way through to figure out what it was even about. The characters are not likable except for perhaps George and Slim, the second in command. It does make you think and it is a short book though. If you’ve got some time, I’d go ahead and pick it up.




Farm life

My Arch Nemesis

Three years ago a man, probably filled with warm and fuzzy good intentions, moved into a cute brick ranch situated on 16 acres of land. The yard immediately surrounding said brick ranch was covered in large, old oak trees full of history…and leaves.


This man then proceeded to spend the next three years ignoring the fact that the yard was disappearing under a thick blanket of dried oak leaves and acorns.So much so that nothing was distinguishable in the entire yard: it became a blowing sea of crumbling oak leaves.

I suppose we could live in this massive sea of leaves if we wanted. Obviously the landlord doesn’t care or at least not enough to do anything about it. But you see…I don’t want to live in leaves that come up to my knees. Something must be done.

The leaves pose two problems: 1) collecting them up and 2) disposing of them.

The first is easy enough to solve by raking. A whole lot of raking. An entirely too much time dedicated to raking. Not only are there so many leaves, but the lower layers have begun to decompose which makes it extremely heavy to move around and pile up. So much raking. So very much raking.

As the piles of leaves began to emerge all over the back yard, the second problem came to light. It would takes hundreds of bags to collect them all in and many trips to the dump. I don’t have the time, patience or money to spend on hundreds of leaf bags. The next best thing is to burn them. BURN THEM ALL….AHAHAHAH!


Oh, sorry. I got carried away there for a minute.

As we raked, and raked, and raked, we began to uncover things. Things like a beautiful flag stone patio off the back porch, a flag stone path leading from the driveway to the back yard, and a brick lined fire pit dug into the ground.

Ah….a fire pit!

Once that was uncovered, we just raked the leaves into the pit and hoped it wouldn’t burn the entire place down. Of course the pit is small and the leaves are so many. After two hours of burning we only got through two piles of leaves. There were over 15 piles and that was only the back yard.

Just as I was beginning to strain the neurons in my head to come up with an answer, the sun set, the wind picked up and the rain came with it. No more raking or burning for that night.




No Rain in the Forecast, huh…

SC has been in the “extreme drought” category for months now. At the beginning of November we were down 10 inches of rain and it was only getting worse.

Lake Hartwell showing the receding water as it dries up. Picture from Google and poorly edited by yours truly.

We need rain. Badly. Except….

Maybe, just maybe, it could hold off until February?

You know…until after we get all the outside work that needs done before we can move the horses home finished.

Christmas weekend, we spent Saturday raking leaves and cleaning out the gutters. We had planned to return Monday while we were both off work, but it rained. New Year’s weekend also saw rain, but we went out any way on Saturday to plant T posts in the ground and rake some more leaves. Then it down poured all day Sunday.

We have one weekend between now and the move and still have to finish the fence, build a shelter and rake more damn leaves.

Good thing we are expected to get…SNOW…this weekend. SNOW! In SC, which rarely happens unless you have major outdoor projects on a time schedule to get done.





Growing Pains

If anyone is reading along…please hang in there. This site is acting a little crazy tonight as I try to figure it all out.

The thing is that I really, really like the scratchpad theme. A lot. It is playful enough without being childish and with so many post format options, it should end up being fairly pleasing to the eye once more content is added.

There is just one thing I don’t like about it….the comments. In order to write a comment, you have to open up the actual blog link by clicking on the title, even though you can read the entire post without doing so. I ADORE comments and I am a bit hesitant that people won’t know that they can in fact leave a comment by doing the above.

So….I am playing around with the themes and trying to figure out what to do.


2017 Reading Challenge, Uncategorized

2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. Book #1.

40 regular and 12 advanced books. 52 weeks to complete them all. Doable? I am about to find out.

When I was younger my nose was always in a book. On the bus to/from school, before classes started, during study hall, up late at night in bed. I remember one summer, probably around 2001 or so, I worked full time at a convenience store – 7a to 3p, M to F. Each day I would come home, shower, grab my best dog Hero and a book and sit outside in the sunny yard until my mom called for dinner. I would wriggle my shoes off and enjoy the touch of grass on my toes, the sun warming my skin and the breeze rustling my hair. It was bliss.

When medical school happened there was no time for pleasure reading. You could still find my nose buried in a book, but these were heavy books, both in content and size.

Now a days it’s rare to see me with a book in hand. Too little time is my excuse but that’s not really true. Like so many, my phone has replaced a good book. Not any longer.

My mom and I are doing this together. I chose the first book, she will do the next.

Book #1: A book recommended by a librarian.

I don’t have a library card and will have to wait a while before I can acquire one, so this topic was a bit hard. Thankfully there is always The Google and it didn’t take long to find a list of books recommended by librarians.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid


This book. I couldn’t put it down. Seriously, I read it in one sitting. It was that captivating.

The book begins with an unnamed girl stating that she is thinking of ending things. She is in the car with her boyfriend as he drives out to his family farm to introduce her to his parents. She questions the timing, but goes along hoping to find an answer by the end of the trip. Would meeting his parents make their relationship any better?

I won’t ruin the plot for anyone wanting to read it, and everyone should read it, but I will talk about the book in general.

The writing style is easy to follow and consume. With modern day topics and language, the book puts you right at ease from the beginning in terms of accessibility of the character and plot.

Straight away though you get a sense of eeriness. The first half only has two characters: the girlfriend and boyfriend (Jake). While they converse, a lot of the book is spent inside the internal musings of the girlfriend as she tries to wrap her head around the value of relationships and if she is happy in her current one.

This feeling of something being a bit off continues throughout the meeting of his parents and the return drive home until it reaches a crescendo in an ending that left me reeling.

5 stars from me. Go read it. It won’t be a waste of your time.