Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween

Instead of talking about scary stories, I thought I'd write a short one. Hope you enjoy it.

Happy Halloween, y'all. Mwaahahaha

Trick or Treat

Pam knew that Texas was a big state but God, she had been driving on this highway forever. This was going to be the longest part of the drive; she knew that when she started out of Texarkana. But that was little consolation when she had to roll down the window of her VW Beetle and turn up the radio to try to stay awake. She couldn’t find anything but country music stations, and she hated country music. The monotonous drive of the desert of West Texas was wearing her down, and now that it was dark, it was even worse. She couldn’t see beyond her high beams. Hadn’t they ever heard of street lamps in this state?

She kept telling herself that flying would have been too expensive. Over $600 to fly from Texarkana to Alamogordo, New Mexico, when it can be driven in one long day. One very long, through the middle of nowhere, day.

She should’ve stopped in Odessa for the night. She decided that the next town she comes to, or the next hotel she sees, she’s pulling off for the night. Her sister will be disappointed because “Miss Emily wants to meet her Auntie Pam.” But how much can a newborn change in one day? Better to get some sleep in a bed than behind the wheel, while the car was still in drive.

A sign for Kent reflected off her headlights. Kent. As in Clark Kent? A town named for Superman can’t be all bad she decided, so she turned off the Highway and onto a single-lane road, heading into town.

It didn’t seem possible, but it was actually darker here than on the highway. Pam slowed down because she had the feeling this was going to be one of those “if you blink you missed it” towns. The road was bumpy, and if she didn’t know better, she’d swear she was on a dirt road.

The air felt cooler than she expected. Yes, it was October, but October in Texas doesn’t mean that much of a change in temperature. But there was definitely a chill creeping into the car.

She realized that there was nothing but static on the radio. She hit seek a couple of times, but it was no good, so she turned it off. She must be in a radio dead zone.

Dead zone? Surely there was a better name for that, she thought. She could just make out a sign on the right-side of the road ahead of her, but couldn’t read it from this far away. Hopefully, it was a sign for the town; it had to be around here somewhere.

Pam thought she heard laughter. She reached over to turn up the radio, thinking maybe a station was coming in, but the radio was off. She stopped the car to listen. Nothing. Not even crickets. She shivered in the chilly air and pressed on the gas to drive forward while she began to roll up the window.

But there it was again. Pam stopped the car again. That was definitely laughter. Kids trick-or-treating? That’s silly, there aren’t any houses around—that she could see anyway. Maybe sounds carry over vast, flat land and she was hearing kids from some nearby neighborhood.

It was louder now. It was definitely children laughing. Pam looked to her left, thinking that was the direction the sound was coming from. It wasn’t as strong there. She turned to the right as the laughter got louder, then screamed at seeing the face staring through the passenger-side window into her car.

A pale little girl, no more than 8, in a ballerina costume giggled and backed away from the car. Pam just sat there and watched an older girl dressed as a pirate take the ballerina’s hand, turn away from the car, and vanish into the darkness.

Pam opened the center console to get her flashlight and got out of the car. She flipped on the light but didn’t raise it. She didn’t need to because she could clearly see a building and wisps of children in costumes coming in and out and wandering around. They didn’t notice her as she stood there, unable to move. She watched as they all slowly disappeared, laughter trails floating in the air after them. They were all gone, and all she could make out was the outline of a building.

The chill in the air was gone and there was nothing but silence. Pam swung her flashlight around, looking for anything but seeing nothing, only the brush of the desert around her. She turned to look in the front of the car and could see the sign in the light from her headlights. She walked towards it, until she could read the words: Kent Public School Ruins. Abandoned But Not Forgotten.

Pam ran back to her Beetle. She was never so thankful for her small car as she turned around and headed back towards the highway. She turned on the radio and country music flowed out of the speakers. Alamogordo wasn’t so far, really. What’s another few hours driving? She’d be there in no time.

Faces in the Dark

Note: Thanks Jay for the Halloween banner! One of these days I'll figure out to do this by myself.

We can’t let Halloween go by without talking about scary movies. We could talk about scary books, too, but that’s another post. Some “experts” have made their list of best or favorite scary movies. Because sometimes I’d rather jump on a bandwagon than have an original idea of my own, I’ve made my own list of my favorite scary movies. They aren’t necessarily monster movies or gore-fests—actually, I’m not a big gore fan—but they are scary and suspenseful movies. Many of these films have been remade, but I’m mostly referring to the originals in this list. See what you think:

28 Days Later—Great zombie movie by Danny Boyle. I always say I don’t like zombie movies, but there are at least 3 on this list. Go figure. In this movie, the infected people aren’t the scariest creatures, though. The soldiers are terrifying.

Alien—“In space, no one can hear you scream” *shiver* Sigourney Weaver is awesome in this movie and became my new movie hero.

An American Werewolf in London—the ground-breaking special effect scene when he turns into the werewolf is fantastic.

And Then There Were None (1945)—This is Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.” Ten strangers are invited by someone they don’t know to a remote mansion on an island. One by one they are killed off. You’ll have to wait ‘til the end to see who’s behind it all because chances are you won’t figure it out before then.

Cape Fear
—Holy shit, both productions of this movie scared me to death. When I watched the version with Robert DeNiro, it was on video tape, and about half-way through I started fast forwarding it saying, “Just kill him. Gotta see ya kill him.” Then I watched the last scene so that I could go to sleep that night.

—Love this movie. Sissy Spacek is amazing. The cruel students, the wacko mother, the revenge on everyone, just great. And the best last shock scene ever.

Don’t Look Now—The movie is so damn eerie. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are parents who have lost their daughter in a drowning accident. While in Venice, a psychic says she sees the little girl and Sutherland begins to see her, too. At the same time, there is a serial killer on the loose. The climax is the stuff of nightmares it is so disturbing.

The Exorcist
—Not much else to say about this movie. It’s many critics choice for best horror film. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s up there. Hearing the music is enough to make me shiver.

The Frighteners—If you haven’t seen this early Peter Jackson movie, go out and rent it now. Michael J. Fox can communicate with the dead and uses a couple of ghosts to help with his ghostbusting business. An evil spirit starts killing people, and only Fox can stop it. It’s a great ghost story that scares me every time I watch it, and I know what’s going to happen because I’ve seen it so many times. It helps that there are lots of funny moments and some pretty bizarre characters, too.

Halloween—I hear the theme music every time I think of this movie. This is the only “slasher” movie that I like. I think it’s considered the first of the slasher movie genre, isn’t it? Well, anyway, the suspense is great and Jamie Lee Curtis is great, too.

The Haunting
—Based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this is the black and white version with Julie Harris is about 3 people recruited by a paranormal investigator to study a haunted house. The first time we watched this, we turned out all the lights and snuggled up on the couch. After about 15 minutes I said, “I wanna turn the lights back on.”

House on Haunted Hill
—This is the 1958 version with Vincent Price. He invites people to a party at a haunted house. Anyone who survives through the night gets $10,000. This movie is campy creepy at its best.

—Classic. I still love this movie. The scariest movie in which you don’t see the villain for the first half of the movie. I was an adult before I could watch that head pop out of the bottom of the boat.

Misery—Kathy Bates is phenomenal in this movie. She seems just so nice and sweet and helpful, then she becomes the fan-from-hell. The cat and mouse game has never been done better.

Night of the Living Dead
—Classic zombie movie. They move so slowly that it just adds to the suspense and terror. They just keep coming and there are so many of them!

The Omen
—Just seeing the title makes me shudder. What a terrifying little boy. And everyone dies a horrible death. It’s just so damn scary!

The Others
—My favorite ghost story with one of the best twists ever. If you haven’t see this, you just gotta. Nicole Kidman is a mother of two living in a house where something is very, very wrong.

—“They’re heeerrreee.” I always knew clowns were scary and that you should never build your house on an old graveyard.

—The scariest movie ever. It’s debatable, but this is the ultimate scary movie for me. A schizophrenic serial killer movie made by the master of horror and suspense. There are many Hitchcock movies that could be on this list, but nothing is better than Psycho.

Rebecca—“I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Another Hitchcock classic that is an adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier’s gothic tale of love, jealousy, and murder. Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine—it doesn’t get much better than that.

The Ring
—I watched a lot of this film through my fingers. The story got a little disjointed for me, but then again, I did watch it through my fingers.

Rosemary’s Baby
—These devil’s children movies are just terrifying. I saw this first when I was really too young to understand exactly what I was watching; I only knew that it was disturbing and scary.

—A self-parody of horror films that works so well. It’s still scary but it’s oh-so clever.

Se7en—Kevin Spacey is so good at being twisted, isn’t he? Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are homicide detectives searching for a serial killer patterning his kills on the 7 deadly sins. Twisted.

Shallow Grave—Danny Boyle’s first film (I think) and a great study of paranoia and greed. Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox, and Christopher Eccleston are roommates in Edinburgh who find their new roommate dead and a suitcase full of money. Hmmmm. What to do, what to do? Why, cut up the body to dispose of it and keep the money for yourself, of course! Then the real fun begins. This film has been described as “tartan noir.” I’m not sure I understand that term, but it sounds good to me.

Silver Bullet—This was panned by critics and audiences, but I don’t care, I liked it. Wheelchair-bound Corey Haim is the only person in town who believes the recent killings are by a werewolf. The moment where the identity of the monster is revealed is chilling. As usual with Stephen King, the build up and anticipation are the best part of the story.

The Shining
—I put this movie in, even though I still don’t think it’s as scary as the book. It has many of the elements of the book, but the focus is wrong. It’s on Jack Nicholson, not the little boy. But it’s still a damn scary movie. “Hello, Danny.”

The Silence of the Lambs
—One of the few movies that was as good as the book, IMHO. I had read the book and it still scared me to death. Oh, and he’s still out there!

The Sixth Sense
—One of the best scary movies ever! Oh my God, who didn’t gasp when the little girl appeared in the tent. Or the little boy said he was going to show him where his dad keeps his gun and turns around to reveal the bloody hole in the back of his head. Or the bodies hanging in the school. Or the moment you understand what the twist is. Plus, it’s a beautifully shot film. Ooooohhh, it’s sooooooo goooood!

Thirteen Ghosts
—Another movie generally panned, but I’m a sucker for a ghost story. And I really like Tony Shaloub. It’s pretty over the top, but it’s a cool idea for a story. It’s a remake, but I’ve never seen the original. In this one, widower Shaloub inherits a house from his eccentric uncle. He doesn’t realize there are 12 violent ghosts being held captive in the basement, and someone is waiting for the 13th ghost.

Underworld—Yet another movie generally disliked by the critics, but it has vampires and werewolves fighting a war. How could it go wrong? I love the whole look of this movie and the story of this group of vampires and their histories. Yeah, there are some actors who chew the scenery more than their victims, and Scott Speedman is better with his shirt off and his mouth shut, but still, it’s a cool movie. I liked Underworld:Evolution, too.

Wait Until Dark
—Audrey Hepburn is a blind woman terrorized by evil Alan Arkin, who is there to get a doll planted with heroin in it that Hepburn inadvertently got as a gift. The battle between them is terrifying. Really, really good movie.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane
—Bette Davis and Joan Crawford classic. You just have to see it.

And, scary subjects can be funny:
The Adventures of Ichabod (the Disney cartoon of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)
Army of Darkness
Hocus Pocus
Love at First Bite
Shaun of the Dead
Young Frankenstein

So, what are your favorite scary movies?

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Hike in the Woods

I have a lot to do before Al gets home late tonight, so I thought I’d just do a quick post about my walk in Fontenelle Forrest before I left on my trip. It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, with temps in the lower 60s under a sunny sky.

Fontenelle Forrest is a little haven of woodsy goodness in Bellevue, NE. Although Nebraska is a lot prettier than I thought it would be, with its rolling hills breaking up the corn fields, it’s still not as pretty as other places I’ve lived. Upstate New York, Arkansas and Ohio have woods and hiking trails covered in leaves and tree limbs that arch over the trails. So, finding Fontenelle Forrest was a nice surprise. However, unlike the other places I’ve lived, I had to pay to enjoy it. I was a bit appalled, to be honest with you. I mean, I’m all for supporting places like this so that they don’t get cut down and turned into a parking garage, but $7? Oh well, it was for a good cause, and I really needed a fall hike that day to calm my pre-travel nerves.

Fontenelle Forrest is 1,400 acres with 37 trails winding their way through it. My $7 came with a great map and the trails are well marked, so I didn’t get lost. That’s a big deal because I tend to get lost a lot. One of these days I’ll post about my experience getting lost on a loop around the lake. Anyway, back to the hike at hand.

The longest trail is the main Riverview Boardwalk, which is where they also display any exhibits they have. This day they had sculptures of giant bugs. Very Halloweeny, I thought. This is a popular trail and the map recommends that first-time visitors should take this route. But that’s where all the small children were, so I opted for the trails going in the opposite direction.

It was serene. The insect-eating birds were skittering through the leaves, and the sounds of kids on the boardwalk yelling to express their excitement slowly faded as I went further down the trail. I was a little concerned that I seemed to keep going downhill. I’m very much aware that what goes down must come back up. The trail was a little slick because of the covering of wet leaves, and I was a little more careful than I usually am because I’m always aware that I could get a muscle spasm that will send my leg kicking off when I haven’t given it permission. But it was nice because it forced me to slow down a little and enjoy the walk.

I talked to a very nice older gentleman about what birds I was seeing. They have a great bird-watching program here, and since he had binoculars and I don’t really know what a stranger is, I asked him about what he was looking for. But, because I also have the short term memory of a gnat, I don’t remember what he told me.

I only walked a few miles, but it was quality miles. I feel calmer just talking about it. I think I’ll have to buy a membership so I can go whenever I want. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Musical Interlude

To get ready for my big trip home, I updated my iPod with a new play list to listen to on the plane. I had a good time setting this up because I put some songs on there that I hadn’t listened to in a long time, and I decided to share some of the list here. I’m not sure why you would care, really, but here they are any way. Like most people, I’m pretty eclectic, and the play lists are very much a sign of how I feel at the moment.

“Tonight I Wanna Cry” Keith Urban. I don’t go all week in the knees over Urban like so many women do, but I love this song. It’s really a lovely song, but the chorus is best:

I've never been the kind to ever let my feelings show
And I thought that bein' strong meant never losin' your self control
But I'm just drunk enough to let go of my pain
To Hell with my pride let it fall like rain
From my eyes
Tonight I wanna cry

“I Feel Fine”
Curtis Stigers. Do you remember “I Wonder Why” from the early 90s? I loved that song, still do, and I love iTunes because it makes it possible for me to find these artists that I had forgotten about. Stigers turned to jazz and he’s amazing. “I Feel Fine” is a cover of the Beatles song. I love his raspy voice and the little bit of funk he adds to many of his songs. Oh, and he’s pretty darn cute, too. (What? You thought I was above such things? Pfffft.)

“Real Good Man” Tim McGraw. OK, so I do go a little week in the knees for Tim McGraw, especially with this song. “I may be a real bad boy, but baby I’m a real good man” it’s a stereotype, I know. But it’s not the “liking the bad boy” that makes me like this song. Oh hell, yes it is. Hands up, how many of you went out with someone who would make your mother shudder? I thought so.

“Cry Me a River” Diana Krall. How could you not love Krall? The sultry voice, the expert musicianship, the amazing song collections; I can’t believe I don’t have all of her CDs. I would love this song anyway for this lyric:

Told me love was too plebeian
Told me you were through with me and
Now you say you love me

You try writing a song with the word “plebeian” in it and see how well it does.

“Waiting for the World to End” John Mayer. This is my very favorite song right now. As soon as it’s over, I just hit the button to play it again. It’s the music that I like so much because I’m not as wild about the lyrics—we don’t feel like there’s anything we can do to improve the world, so we’re just waiting for the world to change. I can’t decide if I don’t like that idea because it sounds like a bunch of whiners wanting someone else to make the world better for them or because it hits too close to home because he’s right, we may not like what’s going on but we don’t feel like we can’t do anything about it. This is where you tell me to stop thinking so much and just enjoy the damn song.

“Chasing Cars” Snow Patrol. This is one of my other current favorites that I keep listening to. Actually, I like most of the songs on this CD. I found them on iTunes. Yet another reason why iTunes rocks.

“I Feel Love”
Blue Man Group with Annette Strean of Venus Hum. This is a great song for the “workout” play list, too. Awesome song. Blue Man Group is going to be here in November, but I’m too cheap to pay for the tickets. Al said that I should paint myself blue, maybe they’d let me in for free. Hey! Do you think it’d work?

Santana and Rob Thomas. I never get tired of this song. Santana is always amazing, but Rob Thomas? I love him.

“You’re All I Need to Get By”
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Anything by these two, but I especially love this song.

“My Sharona”
The Knack. Yep, it’s awesome. Never get tired of that one.

Stone Temple Pilots. Have no idea what he’s saying most of the time, but what a great song.

“Let the Bodies Hit the Floor”
Drowning Pool. Because sometimes ya gotta bang your head.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Honey, I'm Home!

I had a wonderful trip seeing friends and family, but it’s nice to be home. My mother will frown at that statement—I’ve been told that her place is home, not where I’m living at the moment. Semantics. I’m glad to be sitting on my couch, watching my way-too-big TV, drinking a bourbon and coke (two, actually), and am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. But, I thought I’d write down some thoughts about my trip.

I love flying. I don’t care how long my layover is, I don’t care that I have to take my shoes off, I don’t care if my flight gets cancelled (which it did), I just love to fly. Mostly because I hate to drive. But I enjoy it because I just love that I’m going somewhere. When we lived in San Antonio, I used to drive by the airport and think, “I have a passport . . .” But the key to flying is to just chill. I mean, I’m not the queen of patience, but for some reason I become a Zen princess when I fly—I just don’t let anything get to me. I think I’m just so happy that someone else is taking me and I don’t have to drive, that I’m totally relaxed.

Even when the security guy found an ounce tube of lotion in my purse, I was fine. Actually, I was embarrassed because I knew that stuff was supposed to be in a ziplock bag, but I forgot it was in there. And we all know that an ounce of hand lotion is so much safer in a ziplock bag than zipped up in a cosmetic case, zipped up in a purse. You’d think we’d be happy that they were being so thorough and that we’d feel safer, don’t you? Well, I would if they had also caught the small bottle of hand sanitizer in my backpack that I found while I was unpacking. A small bottle of a clear gel? That should have set off some kind of friggin' alarm.

It was great seeing Mom’s best friend L. She looked great and seems to have recovered well from her fight with cancer. L is brilliant, and I always learn something when I talk to her. And I could live in her library! Plus, we talked about Scotland and England most of the night—we both feel like that’s where we should be living (one country or the other, we’re not picky).

I had the best time with my best friend A. Every time we get together, it’s as if we just pick up where we left off. Our adventures are worth a post of their own, coming soon to a blog near you. We went to one of the largest craft fairs in Arkansas and to the quirkiest town in Arkansas, watched a movie, hung out with her daughter, and talked. My jaw and cheeks hurt from laughing and talking so much—isn’t that wonderful!?!

I got to see my travel buddy J, who went on the last Scotland/England trip. She looked great, and it’s always fun when she’s around. I asked her how her daughter was doing and she said, “Oh, she’s 15.” That said it all.

The trip to Yellville to see Nana Creta and the gang was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. My grandmother is 88, and God I hope I inherited her genes. She’s amazing, and also worth her own post one day soon. Since my MS diagnosis, she and I have bonded over medication. While there, I taught my 9-year-old cousin how to knit. At one point she leaned her head on my shoulder and said, “Isn’t this nice. We’re here with our family, we’re knitting while they’re watching football and talking.” Yeah sweetie, it was very nice.

We went to dinner with one of Mom’s other good friends, then went over to her house for a glass of wine and so that I could get a “dog fix” with her Westie, Bonnie. Dogs love me. Cats do, too, for that matter, but Mom’s allergic to cats, thus, dogs love me more. I had a great time at ME’s. She’s quite a character, plus she kept telling me how good I look, and hey, you gotta love that.

Jay and Mom took good care of me. I did actually spend some time with them, too. Probably not as much time as Mom would’ve liked, but I’m expecting to see them again for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I loooooove cooking Thanksgiving dinner, so I’m hoping somebody will come join us. Jay and I went to Branson to check out the new Branson Landing—basically high end shops with restaurants tucked in between. Jay’s a great travel buddy because he’s up for anything and happy to go anywhere.

Yeah, my flight home on Monday was cancelled at the last minute and I had to stay at a hotel, but what the hell. I got a king-size bed all to myself, and I slept right in the middle, which isn’t easy for someone who tends to stick a foot out of the covers. It regulates the body temperature, don't cha know. I even paid for a movie to watch—no, not that kind of movie. I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It just seemed like a good night to watch Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Jack Davenport. Wasn’t there someone else in that movie? Some woman?

I have a lot of posting to catch up on, a lot of blogs to catch up on, and I finally caught up on some comments left on previous posts. I have a couple of things I want to talk about that I did before my trip, plus I want to talk more about the trip. But right now, my bed is calling to me. Hear that? That’s the sound of a down comforter being fluffed up, ready to dive under. Aaaaaahhh. Bed is good.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Late Night Ramblings

I have a love/hate relationship with books. I love being immersed in a good story—losing track of time, that sense of coming out of a fog as you try to bring yourself out of the book and into reality. But it’s almost 2 in the morning, I just finished The Thirteenth Tale, and I really need to get some sleep. Yet, here I am, sitting on a rollaway bed in the dark in the living room of my mom’s apartment, trying to type out my thoughts so that I can silence them in my head.

Before I finally gave in and opened the laptop, I was lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling. There are no ceiling tiles to count. I can see things in the room clearly because there is a nightlight plugged into the wall behind me. I’ve left it on in case my mom, or me for that matter, has to get up and go to the bathroom. Besides, I’ve spent many a night sleeping with a light on—people who scare easily but insist on watching scary movies at night often do. So, with the absence of ceiling tiles, I stare at shadows. There is a large rectangular one just above and barely to the left of me. I can’t figure out what it is, so I move my arm, which is resting under my head, thinking that if the shadow moves, then I’ll have my answer. It doesn’t move. Then I realize, it’s the chair leg next to the nightlight. Ah! Now I can see the slight curve on the bottom as the leg starts to taper in.

Now, I stare at the ceiling fan, or rather at the shadows of the blades. If I squint and stare long enough, they almost seem to rotate. I thought about leaving the fan part on because I like the room to be a little cool when I sleep because I love to huddle under covers to stay warm. But this ceiling fan has a high-pitch buzz like a fly circling before it dive bombs right by your ear or nose, trying to make you swat at hit and hit yourself. Flies are diabolical that way.

Being in the living room of Mom’s apartment, I can smell the faint odor of tomato sauce from the chili that Jay made (a very good chili, by the way). Tomatoes in chili cooking smell wonderful, but acidic, tinny sauce sitting in a can in the trash doesn’t. I get up and tie the bag closed as quietly as I can and move the trashcan around the corner. I think about replacing the bag, but I’m afraid that big THWAK I make as I whip in open will wake up the whole apartment complex.

The motor on the refrigerator just went on. Good. I’ll close my eyes and try very quickly to go to sleep. I’m one of those people who isn’t very good with silence. The other nights I’ve been here, I’ve listened to my iPod when I couldn’t sleep, even though a friend scolded me that I could strangle myself. Self-preservation seems to help me, but this night I’m saved by a dead battery. It’s not cold enough for the heater to come on or hot enough for the air, which is my other “white noise” that I wait for. So, I try to get to sleep while the refrigerator is humming and blocking out the silence.

But no joy. It cycles off as I think of a book where an old woman tells a young woman a story about twins and ghosts. About scandal, death, love, loss, and redemption. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In my mind I see quick edits of a young woman working and living just above a bookstore, completely enveloped by it; of an old woman in a wheelchair, draped with jewel-toned shawls and protectively hiding a damaged hand; the ruins of a stately home; the snow drifts on a Yorkshire moor through a window where a cat sits impatiently twitching his tail, waiting for it to melt so he can resume his nightly wanderings. I can’t let the book go. It creeps back into my thoughts, even as I try to steer them in another direction.

So, I end up sitting on a rollaway, typing on a computer in the dark, waiting for the motor to cycle on the refrigerator again.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Going on Holiday

Since I'll be heading down to Arkansas on Monday, I doubt I'm going to have much time to blog. Instead, I've started a new blog on Wordpress that is my ramblings about my travels. The posts are pretty long, so I decided to put them on their own blog. That and I wanted to try out Wordpress and see what it was like.

So, if ya want, you can head over there and read about a self-catering in Scotland, a bed and breakfast in England, and Edinburgh. Here's the link:

Wandering and Rambling

Just reading over those entries makes me anxious for my trip to Scotland in March. *Sigh*

I should be able to keep up with my reading, but I'm going to wait to do any writing until I get home. Take care everyone and have a great week.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Moving Right Along

As is typical of military life, my good friends are going to be moving. And as is also typical with the military, they want him there as soon as possible, which is a good 7 or 8 months sooner than they were planning on moving, but they don’t have an actual date, so they can’t make any plans yet. She’s not looking forward to trying to sell their house in a depressed housing economy and in the winter. She’s not happy with moving at all, actually. It makes sense, after 18 years in the military, she’s tired of moving. She loves her house, she likes this area, she likes her church, and she’s in the middle of a block-of-the-month quilt club with me and wants to finish it. She cracked me up when she said, “This is horrible of me, but I don’t care what I signed up for. I don’t care about the needs of the military. What about my needs?!? Why can’t it be about what I want for a change?!?”

Because it just can’t, unfortunately. Our wants and needs are taken into consideration, but when weighed against the needs of the military and the needs of your spouse’s career, we will always come up wanting. This is the choice we made when we married them, and we stand by those decisions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck some times. So, I lend a sympathetic ear and commiserate with her frustration. After all, I understand that feeling of why can’t it be where I want to go and what would be better for me. And besides, I’m going to miss them.

However, all that said, I love moving. I really do. Two years in a place and I get restless and antsy, and I start cleaning out closets, getting ready for movers. I love the anticipation of moving—researching a new town, looking for a place to live, learning about the area and what there is to do. Al keeps talking about retiring, but I just can’t imagine living in one place for longer than 3 years. We were in San Antonio for 4 ½ years and I thought I was going to go crazy.

There, of course, is a more psychological, deep reason why I like to move so much—it’s an opportunity to start over. I consciously decide who I want to be at the next assignment. For example, in San Antonio, I was super active, super involved, super wife, and had a super job with a super title. I was on or chaired many committees, I was active with the squadron wives, I knew everything that was going on with the squadron and Al’s job, and by our third year there, I was completely burned out and pulled away from all of that. See, that’s the problem with trying be what you think others want you to be rather than being yourself. Not that I really know what “myself” is, but I know it’s not the woman I was in San Antonio.

When we moved to Ohio for his next assignment, I decided I was taking the year off. No military involvement, no committees, no volunteering, no entertaining, no nothing. We were only going to be there for a year, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a break. That turned out to be a pretty good decision because Al was miserable that year, consumed with it, and I was pretty much left on my own. I tried to help and make him less miserable, but nothing I did worked, and it became obvious that the best thing I could do was get out of the way. I got a part-time job at a library and explored the countryside. Ohio has a wonderful system of state parks, and I spent as much time as possible in them. I liked Ohio a lot and was sad that we were leaving after only a year, but Al couldn’t get away fast enough. And to be completely honest with you, I couldn’t have lived with the “miserable him” much longer any way, so it’s good that we moved. This new assignment was definitely a move for starting over.

So, here we are in Nebraska. I decided I rather enjoyed not being involved and have kept that up. I did join the spouses’ group so that I could be in the quilt club, but I’m a little uncomfortable there. Like I said in an earlier post, I just don’t really fit in any more. Al’s happier here, so we go exploring together, but I still spend a lot of time on my own. I’m probably getting a little too used to that, and I’m on the lookout for any job opportunities that will get me out of the house and back around people again.

We have 2 more years here, but Al is already talking about selling the house and where we might go next. It’s still a little early for me to get antsy and I’ve finally learned not to make any plans until we have a piece of paper with his orders, so I’m not really thinking about moving too much. There are so many things that could happen. He could retire in a few years if he wanted to, so he’d finish out here and maybe stay here if he got a job; he could try to find another military job here so that we’d stay another 3 years; he could get picked up for Air War College, so we’d move to Montgomery, AL for a year then who knows where; he could and probably will put his name in for a squadron command and if he gets that then we’d go where ever they need him; he could be sent back to the plane; or he could do what we really want to do and get a job overseas.

Of course, I do tease him that he could retire and follow me around for awhile. I’ll find a job I love in a place I love, and he can come along and find a way to fit in. Actually, he kind of likes that idea. I go to work and he stays home? That’s his idea of a great retirement. As long as we don’t move around every couple of years, because he’s tired of moving.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cold Temps, Chili Supper

Chelle P. asked about a recipe for the chili that I oh-so-humbly bragged about. That's what I get for opening my big mouth. I don't really have a recipe, per se, but I can walk you through what I do. I tend to change it up depending on who I'm cooking for. Al and I like our chili pretty spicy, but I'll give alternatives for you with delicate constitutions.

Here are the basics:

1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground turkey (I think beef is too acidic and turkey is too bland, so I combine them. If I use just turkey, I add more spices. I've also used ground deer meat and it was really good, too.)
1 onion, chopped
Couple of cans of tomatoes (I usually use either Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes for less spice or Del Monte Petite Cut Zesty Tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes for spicy)
Can of tomato sauce
Couple of cans of Chili Beans--hot (For less spice, use kidney beans)
Spices--salt (I use kosher salt for cooking), pepper (red and black), cumin, chili powder, Tabasco sauce (I really like chipotle because of it's smokey flavor), and anything else you particularly like. Spice a little, taste, then add until you get the level of spiciness that you want.
And if I have a beer handy (hahahaha, like I wouldn't have a beer handy), I pour some in, but do that early so that it can cook out some.
And sometimes I add a can or two of diced green chiles.

Brown the beef or whatever meat you are using with the onions. Drain it to get some of the extra grease out then put everything in a big ol' pot. The longer you can let it simmer, the better it will be. Taste as you go to adjust the spices. I've told Al to stay away from the stove--he's been told to spice his own bowl, not the whole thing. He likes things spicier than I do.

I've also made vegetarian chili with bulgar instead of beef. Since it's the spices that make it chili, I liked it ok. It's a nice change from ground beef. You can also use black beans if you don't want the chili or kidney beans. Or you can leave the beans out all together--the chili that won best at the competition this last weekend didn't have any beans.

We top off our bowls with crackers, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, and if we have them, Fritos. A friend of mine's stomach can't seem to handle just chili, so she puts it over cooked elbow macaroni, making it more of a chili mac. That's good, too.

Of course, you could always just brown some meat and add a package of chili seasoning and a can of tomato sauce, but what fun would that be?

Oh, and an iron skillet full of cornbread is a nice accompaniment, too! Enjoy!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Busy Weekend, Busy Week Ahead

This is going to be a busy, busy week. Hubby is heading out of town for a couple of weeks, at least. Actually, I don’t know exactly when he’s leaving and I don’t know exactly when he’s coming home. Nor do I know exactly where he is going. It looks like I’m going to be carving a pumpkin by myself (this is where you go, awwwwwww, poor baby. Go ahead, I’ll wait). But I think packing will go easier this time—he’s already decided which suitcase he wants to take (the big one).
Since he’s going to be gone, I’m heading home for a visit. It’ll be a whirlwind tour considering how many people I want to see while I’m there, plus there are some festivals I want to go to. I emailed one of my closest friends and college roommate, A, to tell her I was coming into town. She’s very excited and said she’s none to happy to have to share her time with Mom and Jay. Isn’t she cute? It’s nice to be loved.

Now I have to figure out what to pack! The biggest issue is what knitting project can I take that everyone can see me working on. Oh, I know I could tell them it’s for someone else so that I won’t ruin the surprise, but I am the worst liar. Really. I don’t even play poker because I’d be terrible at bluffing. Well, that and I’d have to use a cheat sheet to remind me of what beats what.
We went to a Chili Cookoff this weekend. We got there late and didn’t get to taste much chili, which is fine because in all humility I must say that I make one helluva batch of chili. By the time we got there, many of the booths were packing up to go home and they were starting the “Shoot and Holler” contest—take a shot of tequila and holler. Apparently, length of holler is an important quality. Also, the Mustang Club was having a car show, so we walked around that. Al had a Mach 1 that he and his dad restored when we were in college and we’ve had a couple of Mustangs since then. That’s what happens when you marry a car guy. But there were more new Mustangs there than anything, all with their hoods up. I just don’t get that. It was like being at a dealership instead of a car show. Here are a couple of pics of everything:

Had some good news on the MS front last week. They have decided that it’s OK to use a shorter and thinner needle to administer the Avonex now. Yeah! OK, really good news would be that they’ve approved an oral medication, and really amazing news would be that they’ve suddenly found a cure, but I’ll take what I can get. So, instead of the needle being 1 ¼ inch, 23 gauge, it’s now 1 inch, 25 gauge (larger gauge, thinner needle). When I was diagnosed, the nurse told me when she first showed me that horse needle that it has to be long because Avonex has to be administered in the muscle. I guess it’s still long enough, even at an inch. She also said that it’s the breaking of the skin that hurts, so it’s not any more painful with a larger needle. Uh huh.

I haven’t called about getting a prescription yet, but I will this week. Even after giving myself that shot once a week for over 6 months now, every time I take the cap off, I think, “Holy Shit, that’s a big needle. I can’t do this.” But I do. I even have a little routine. I take it out early so it can warm up, take some ibuprofen, and get everything set up. When it’s time, I put the pre-filled syringe under my arm while I wash my hands so that the medicine will come up to room temperature and I won’t feel it going in. I swab my thigh with alcohol, get the band-aid ready, put the needle on, then decide where to aim the shot by stretching the skin tight (as opposed to subcutaneous shots that are under the skin, you don’t gather up some skin). Then I try to relax that muscle and say “one, two, three” but I don’t plunge it in yet. I never do it the first time; I don’t know why. And sometimes, I have to count to three a few times. Well, you try plunging that huge needle into your thigh on purpose—it ain’t easy. After two or three counts, I get frustrated with myself and just do it. It hurts less if you just jab it in, rather than going slowly. It takes 5 minutes, tops. And now, hopefully, it will be even easier and a little less painful.
My horoscope for Tuesday says:

Your mind is sharp and your wit is sharper, therefore, there is absolutely nothing you can't think your way out of today! Your brains will beat anyone's brawn, so don't shy away from confrontations if one presents itself. Fresh ideas have a way of disarming people anyway -- when a new idea hits their radar, they don't know how to react to it because they've never had to react to it before. Have fun blowing people's minds with your 'out-there' ideas.

“Out-there” ideas. Actually, that could be true. I’m going to quilt group tomorrow, and I never fit in these groups. The fact that I’ve been married this long and don’t have kids confuses most women. The fact that I’m a liberal confuses most military people. The fact that I still like to have sex with hubby after 17 years of marriage confuses most wives—not because they want to have sex with someone besides their husbands but because they don’t want to have sex at all. Yes, it’s amazing what we women will talk about when you put us in a group.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Friday MEME

The Alphabet Meme, which I have stolen from Jay and Betty...

A is for Age: I can’t believe it starts this way. A is also for apple too, why don’t you ask me my favorite apple. Oh alright! Jeez. . . . . . . . . . Nope, don’t wanna.

B is for Beer: Any microbrewery on draft.

C is for Career: Well hell, here’s another question that isn’t easy to answer. Maybe this was a bad idea? OK. I’ve been an editor and unpublished writer the majority of time. My main career, though, has been thinking about all things I’d like to have as a career.

D is for Your Dog’s Name:
This is getting worse! Guess you missed all the teary posts about my dear Daily Dog, who we had to put to sleep this past spring.

E is for Essential Item You Use Everyday:
I have to narrow this down to one, huh? Well, I guess it’s the computer. Al teases me about my need for acknowledgement by getting email. Actually, “acknowledgement” isn’t the right word, but I seem to be having some trouble with my words today. Shit. I hate it when I can’t think of a word. I think it starts with a “V.” Not verification, but something like that. What word am I looking for?

F is for Favorite T.V. Show: Any British mystery, basically. I can’t wait for the new Midsomer Murders to start next month.

G is for Favorite Game: Just about any board game, but I have to wait until my brother comes up because Al doesn’t like to play with me. I kind of yelled at him once when he took my triple letter/triple word score. Well, I had an X! And he put a T by that A. Now, I ask you, wouldn’t you be a little irritated? Of course you would.

H is for Hometown: Wherever I hang my hat.

I is for Instruments You Play:
The iPod. I played guitar when I was younger, but those calluses are gone and it would hurt now.

J is for Favorite Juice:
Orange, with a wee splash of vodka.

K is for Whose Butt You’d Like To Kick:
I am such a wimp. I may bore someone to death but nothing physical. I had a friend who took a self-defense class and said she’d get so pumped that every time she went home she'd ask her husband, “Want me to flip ya?” I’ll hire her to be my bodyguard.

L is for the Last Place You Ate:
Home. BBQ ribs (cooked in crock pot), mashed potatoes and green beans. It’s been a good week for dinners around our house.

M is for Marriage:
You know, these questions seem innocent enough, but really, some of these could be a post on its own. Marriage. 17 years and counting. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. But worth it. OK—good hubby story: a guy in the squadron announced he was getting married. He told me that all the guys told him don’t do it, run away! But Al shook his hand and said, “You’re going to love it. It’s the best.” I’m getting all teary-eyed remembering that.

N is for Your Name:
I didn’t make it up; it really is Kell. Well, actually Kelley, but I’m enjoying Kell.

O is for Overnight Hospital Stays: Had my gall bladder out a few years ago. I wasn’t supposed to stay all night but I got into surgery much later than expected, so they kept me overnight. They also kept an IV in me, so I had to pee every hour. It’s impossible to get any sleep in the hospital.

P is for People You Were With Today:
Just me, myself, and I until Al gets home.

Q is for Quote:
"A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." – Eleanor Roosevelt

R is for Biggest Regret: That I didn’t call my dad on New Year’s Eve and wish him a happy new year in 1997. He passed away 7 days later.

S is for Sport: Football (Sorry, that’s American Football, Gary. I watch your football when in pubs in England and Scotland, but I have no idea what I’m watching or who I should cheer for.)

T is for Time You Woke Up Today: 6:00 a.m.

U is for Current Underwear: The one’s that say “Friday,” silly.

V is for Vegetable You Love: I love most veggies.

W is for Worst Habit: I procrastinate and don’t follow through with stuff. Al has a much longer list of my bad habits, but he’ll have to get his own blog if he wants you to know what they are.

X is for X-rays You Have Had: Did you miss my mammogram post? That’s too bad. I probably got lots of search hits for “breasts” and “nipples” with that one.

Y is for Yummy Food You Ate Today: The last chocolate chip cookie from the batch I made last night. Don’t look at me like that. Al took all but 4 to work with him—I didn’t eat a whole batch by myself in less than 24 hours. Although, we are getting to that time of the month. Give me a few more days, and I probably could eat the whole batch. Hell, I’ll just eat the raw dough.

Z is for Zodiac:
Taurus. Very much a Taurus. Scared?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rattling Around

My brain is wandering all over the place today, so here’s a rambling little post. I think after I type this, I’ll head out on this sunny, cool day and take some pictures of autumn-inspired trees before all the leaves blow off.

Crisis averted. Last Friday I discovered that [gasp] my iPod battery was dead. Not just needing to be recharged, I mean dead. It is no more, it’s ceased to be, passed on, bereft of life—this is an ex-iPod. Now, you might think I’d take advantage of this and say, “Oh darn. Guess I have to get a new Nano now.” But I resisted the temptation because Al said he could replace the battery. Hmmmmm. $25 or $200. . . OK, I’ll take the battery. So, that’s what we did and my iPod works again. So, I can go back to the gym now.

Speaking of the gym. Ya know, it’s really hard to get up at 6:00 in the morning and go to the gym. It’s still dark at 6:00. It’s cold. My eyes haven’t focused yet, and I have terrible bed-hair. I spend the entire drive to the gym thinking, “I could turn around and go home. Al would never know. I’ll just workout harder tomorrow.” And as I’m walking into the gym, I’m YouTubethinking, “I’ll just do a light work out today. Maybe I’ll just get on the bike for a while and then head home.” But I go ahead go through the whole routine since I’ve made it this far. But you’d be amazed how many already-fit people go to the gym at 6:30 in the morning. They are way too perky and seem to be really enjoying themselves. And why is it that their faces don’t turn as red as a matador’s cape when they’re on the elliptical machine like mine does. *Sigh* I hate going to the gym.

In the news. Actually, I can’t say anything that my mom hasn’t already said much better, so I’ll just ask you head over there and read her comments on the day. The wacko Baptists from Kansas are enough to make me want to follow through on my plan to move to Scotland to raise sheep. She doesn’t talk about Foley on this particular post, so I’ll just say that it looks like the high and mighty morality of the Republican party knew three years ago about Foley’s, em, tendency to be “overly friendly.” Now Foley has entered rehab for alcohol. Alcohol?!? How ‘bout he work on the pedophilia first.
Update: I just watched Hastert’s press conference. As is typical with this administration he “apologized,” he’s “taking responsibility” and is going to find out “who leaked those emails and why we didn’t hear about a problem sooner.” So once again, they say they are taking responsibility, but they really aren’t because they couldn’t have done anything sooner because someone else dropped the ball and they didn’t get the information they needed; therefore, they have to have investigations into finding out why they didn’t get that information. What a bunch of hooey. He also said that he learned of the explicit language in the emails on Friday (that would have been 29 September). I just wanted to write that down somewhere so that when they prove he knew sooner, we’ll know when he lied. Oh, and he also used the opportunity to talk about how we need to get back to the issues for this election season, that’s what’s important and that’s what the American public wants. No, the American public wants the hypocrisy to STOP.

Latest Procrastination Tool. I’ve been enjoying searching YouTube. I have a guilty pleasure that my brother wishes would just go away—I listen to Robbie Williams. I can’t help it! He is pretty cute (he looks like the fist boy I had a crush on), and I like his songs. But he just hasn’t reached the level of popularity in this country that he has every where else, so with YouTube, I can watch videos and even concert footage. Unfortunately, it also makes me realize that sometimes it’s better to just listen to the songs and look at photos. How can the same man who writes words like “Come and take my hand/I want to contact the living” one moment be onstage aiming a camera down his pants to take a picture of his crotch the next? Where is the balance, people?!?

Fashion Divas. Last season I was a Project Runway junkie. I read the message boards, I read Tim Gunn’s blog, I listened to his podcast, and I couldn’t wait for each new episode. This season? Eh. I’m still watching, but these designers are really good and I don’t have a favorite because I like all of the finalists. In fact, they have 4 finalists instead of 3 this season. But I’m not anxiously awaiting each new episode.

Flour Clouds. It’s fall, so of course it’s time for some serious baking. Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Cake, Pumpkin Bars. Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here. Wait! I forgot apples! Apple Pie, Apple Tart, Apple Pancakes, Apple Cake. Gotta run to the store and get some flour—King Arthur Flour, BTW. I’m a snob about ingredients, it has to be King Arthur. Has to be that expensive but amazing vanilla that I can only get at expensive food stores. Has to be real unsalted butter.

OK, now I’m really having cravings. Enjoy your day, y’all. And if I don’t talk to you before then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Applecart

Sunday was a beautiful day here in Nebraska, a perfect day for exploring. And if you’re lucky enough to have a Miata or some kind of vehicle in which to feel the wind whipping through your hair, this was the day to for it. It’s better than therapy, and much cheaper.

I had been wanting to go to Nebraska City for awhile. Al was a little hesitant because he had visions of crafty things and musty antique shops. But I told him I wasn’t interested in walking around downtown; I wanted to go to the apple orchards. Since apple is the main ingredient of his favorite dessert, he was happy to come along. Also, Nebraska City is home to Arbor Day Farms. Yep, that Arbor Day. This is the home of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day. And he lived very well by the looks of the mansion that we toured.

So, we headed south on Hwy 75 in search of apple delights. Our first stop was Lechner Families Union Apple Orchard.

I love places like this. It’s basically a large shed filled with yummy things: fudge, apple cider, cherry cider, apple donuts, popcorn, peanut brittle, pumpkins, apple turnovers, apple pie, cherry pie, jams, jellies, chutney, and bags and bags of different varieties of apples. Since we were heading to an even larger orchard, we decided not to get anything except for a snack of apple donuts (which really tasted more like a cinnamon donut, but that’s ok) and an apple juice slushy. Yes, a slushy of apple juice, and it was delicious, except for the ice cream headache we got from drinking it too quickly. But it was a mistake to not buy more stuff there because they really had more to offer than the other place we went. I’m actually surprised that Al got me out of there without buying the peanut butter/chocolate fudge. I had it in my hand, heading to the checkout when I remembered that the temperature was going to get into the upper 80s today. Next time I come here, I’m bringing a cooler. That way, I can also get the apple sausages and the frozen apple turnovers. And since it’s only about 30 minutes away, I will be back.

After our snack of donuts and frozen apple juice, we headed down the road to Kimmel Orchards.

This orchard has been around since 1925, and it is quite the tourist attraction. They have a hiking trail through the orchard, a u-pick business, haystack rides (a tractor pulling a cart with haystacks for seats), educational tours, and wine. Oh, and a gift shop and country store, too, of course. They didn’t have the selection of the Union Orchard store, but being able to walk around the orchard was a good trade. So many varieties of apples! Plus trees of cherries (well, actually it was past cherry season, but the trees are still there), pears, peaches and vines of grapes for their own wine. We passed on the wine tasting this time. There are several wineries here in Nebraska, and we will one day do some touring and tasting. But here at Kimmel Orchards, we were a little turned off by “Concord Grape Wine.” Al’s uncle made “wine” once by adding yeast to concord grape juice. It was the nastiest thing we’ve ever had. Well, Al ever had, I refused to drink it—there was stuff floating in it. So, we passed on wine and bought some apple cider instead.

Next, we were on to Arbor Day Farms. The last weekend in September and the first few weekends in October are part of their “Living History” celebration. They have a cider press demonstration so we got to see how labor-intensive it was to make apple cider way back when, and they had craft and skill demonstrations—such as quilting, spinning, basket making, lace making, knife making—in the mansion.

pic from website

The mansion is the home of J. Sterling and Catherine Morton. Sterling created Arbor Day while he was president of the State Board of Agriculture. He held many offices in his political career, ultimately being Secretary of Agriculture under Grover Cleveland. There were several photos of Cleveland’s cabinet around the house. The house started out as a 4-room cabin, but when their son, Joy (he started the Morton Salt Company by the way), inherited the house, he spent years expanding and renovating it to the 52 rooms it has today, including a single bowling lane in the basement.

Arbor Day Farms is across the street. It’s an education and conservation center with hiking trails, a 50-ft tree house, a greenhouse, and demonstrations. The activities are great for families, and it was crowded by the afternoon. We decided we had had enough education for the day and headed home.

As we were heading back, we drove through downtown Plattsmouth, with plans to eat a late lunch. Unfortunately, nothing was open. It was eerily quite as we drove down the main street and there were abortion protestors holding signs, standing at the main intersection. It seemed a little odd for them to be there considering that everything was closed. We were the only car on the road. Just eerie.

But, it was a fun day of exploring, and I’ve already scouted out the next orchards I want to go visit. Here's some more photos of the day.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Excuse Me, But Is that a Classic You're Reading?

Woo Hoo! According to the article “I Bet You Look Good in the Bookstore” in The Guardian, which I got from Lisa’s blog, reading is hot! Yeah baby. No longer is that woman with her nose in a book a shy, wallflower using the book as a wall to ward off unwanted visitors, it’s an invitation. That book you’re reading could influence other’s opinion of you, maybe even flirting with you.

OK, I admit it. I sneak peeks at what people are reading and form an opinion from that. Not a snobbish opinion, usually. More of a “Wow, he likes mysteries, too,” kind of opinion. And if someone is reading an “Oprah” book, I immediately turn away, that’s where the snobbery comes in. I started out reading books on Oprah’s list but I got so damn depressed I just couldn’t do it any more. So, Oprah books are a no-no. Plus self-help books. Those things drive me crazy, too. I’ve read some, but they aren’t telling me anything I don’t know. A self-help book for me would say, “Get off you duff, Kell, and do something!”

The article says that erotica, horror, self-help, and chick-lit books are a turn off, but classics, biographies, and modern library fiction are turn ons. I can see that I guess. But, are you really impressed with someone reading The Great Gatsby, or do you just think you should be. The real test comes when you start talking about the book.

Aaahhh, and there’s the rub. Just reading a book isn’t enough for me—I want to talk about what I’ve read. Too many years immersed in literary criticism maybe, but I don’t have to have a dissertation on whether Hamlet was really insane, either. Just, what was it that you liked or didn’t like and why? And that drives my hubby crazy. This is the way our conversations about books go:

[he closes a book he’s finished]

Me: How was your book?

Him: OK.

Me: Did you like it?

Him: I wouldn’t have read it if I didn’t.

[he heads to the kitchen for something to drink]

Our discussions on movies go the same way.

And yes, I’ve been in reading groups before. It starts out great, but there’s usually a handful of women (these groups are mostly women) who only want to read about women overcoming something, and I just can’t take it any more. There are so many different genres out there—broaden your horizons. It always reminds me of that Saturday Night Live skit that spoofed that horrible book The Bridges of Madison County. It was the only book the women read and they had really lost touch with reality, to the point where they kept looking in National Geographic for this man’s photos of bridges. Besides, in the group I was in, none of the women would read the book and the evening would quickly dissolve into complaints about their husbands or stories about the cute thing their kids did. I’m a little jaded now.

So, back to the original subject. What books would you be impressed by and what would you avoid? I’m just dying to know!