Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sinking to a New Low

I love my ereaders (and have several so one is always available while others charge) and I've run up quite the tab with Amazon.  It's just so easy to click "buy" and there are so many good, cheap, and sometimes free books available.

If a writer has been recommended and a special for his/her work at Amazon appears, I tend to buy all that is available.  I watch the free and and bonus books closely.  Thus I'm continually adding to my collections of mystery authors, light-hearted reading materials (Jan Karon), or books that look like they have literary merit and I would enjoy the work of slogging through them (John Irving). 

Last summer I discovered 50 Shades of Gray (and wrote about it on this blog), admitting that I enjoyed the entire series of three books very much, even though they were outside my sphere of approved reading  Then a friend recommended Laura Willig and I downloaded several of her series of "flower books" including the Pink Carnation.  Joyce describes these books as "swashbucklers" in the vein of The Scarlett Pimpernel (one of my all time favorites) and frankly, she's a little optimistic in her descriptions.  These are romance novels with a hint of sexual play thrown in to keep us interested.  However, Willig is a decent writer and she holds a plot together so well that even when the mysteries of the books are superseded by the romantic tinglings of the heroine, you keep reading. 

Then Amazon recommended Sylvia Day to me and that's when I kind of lost perspective.  Any pretensions I still held as an English major with a MA degree became lost in the sex, sex, sex.  Romance, heartbreak, reconciliation.  More sex.  Good sex.  Redeeming sex.  Day's literature is called Mommy Porn -- and there's a reason it's called porn.  And every Mommy wants it "hot" like in Day's novel -- and even retired old ladies think it might be fun to sample.  Oooh!  Her novels are HOT!  But unlike E.L. James (50 Shades) who had good plot lines but wasn't that great a writer, Day is a decent, if not better than that, novelist.  She manages to hold you through 300 pages of "hot, steamy romance" in a seven hour marathon read -- and then you want another of her books.  It's like "you can't eat just one" -- and so she's hooked her readers by creating five novel sets.  And I'm reading them all and panting for the next one in the series.  Plus she has the swashbucklers and the period pieces -- and even the mystic romances. 

I started June on a high note, finishing off my Charles Todd series of novels / mysteries set during and after WWI.  I read P.D. James Death Comes to Pemberley (boring but I managed to finish it).  Then dear god, I veered off into Kathleen Morgan and her Highland period romances and several others of that ilk.  But I'd Still I always went back to something literate in between the romance and porn.  

This week, though, I hit a real low.  First I read Antoinette Stockenberg's A Month at the Shore.  Somebody on Facebook had announced that the ebook was on sale for something like $0.99 and so I bought it -- and the proceeded to read the entire thing, enjoying the romance immensely -- and the mystery plot just a little.  Not Mommy Porn, this was truly the ultimate in beach-read romance.. It wasn't art or good writing or fabulously interwoven plot -- it was just a good read. 

Finishing the Shore book last night, I chose the next one to the bottom of my extensive ebook download and, horror or horrors, I had a vampire book.  I hate them.  H A T E!  I don't see vampire movies, I don't read vampire books, I don't want a vampire to have hot steamy sex.   I had no idea when I opened A Hidden Fire (sounds like romance, right?) by Elizabeth Hunter I was embarking on a vampire series -- called Elementary Mysteries.  I had downloaded it free on recommendation and before I could scroll through to close the book, I was hooked and the mystery was good and the vampires were believable and I haven't really come to any romance / sex -- just a potential for one -- sometime in the distant future, maybe. 

June isn't even over yet and I'm reading Mommy Porn, sucking-up-time beach romances, and vampire novels.  Can I sink any lower? 

Friday, June 21, 2013


It's not been a lottery ticket win, certainly. 

After visiting the KC fine art appraiser, we came away with little information.  I guess our artists are just too minor to be noticed -- or not purveyors of "fine art."

The 100 year old oil on canvas of Pike's Peak is probably by the best know artist but even then, without cleaning the painting, it's not worth more than a couple of thousand dollars (surprising even at that figure). 

The other two artists are untraceable and unknown, at least to the middle-aged white appraiser we visited (and forked over $50 to). 

We came away with the information that we should do a lot more research on the pictures.  Yeah, well.  If I had been able to do the research, I'd not have paid the woman $50.

What do you think this might be worth?  Your guess will have to be as good as the appraiser's was. 

First Day of Summer

Yesterday, June 20, a Thursday, was the longest day of the year.  Traditionally the summer solstice falls on June 21st but this year because of our position on Earth in relation to the sun, the US celebrated a day early.

The summer solstice occurs when Earth's axis is the most tilted toward the sun -- the angle is known as "maximum axial tilt." As a consequence, the sun rises at its most northeasterly point along the horizon and also sets at its most northwesterly point in the northern hemisphere.  Our days lengthen and spin, full of unknown possibilities and moments of pure, unfettered freedom. 

Science aside, summer is the time to relax, swim in the outdoor pool, sip lemonade, read trashy novels, and wear minimal clothing.  Summer is for traveling, even if it's just 20 miles away in the countryside, a time for eating out of doors, for planning day-long adventures, for connecting with old friends. 

Let's agree to make the most of this summer. Who knows how many more we have ahead of us?


Friday, June 14, 2013

Check That One Off

When I retired, one of the things I swore we'd get accomplished is some appraisals on the things we own that might (or might not) be valuable.

We have a couple of art works (that I've written about in the past) that need appraising -- for selling or donating -- whichever the case requires.

It's hard to find an art appraiser, especially if you're cheap.  I tried all the free ones that are national but everything we own came back as "un-appraise-able," mostly I suspect because the artists are minor and difficult to trace.  Eventually I began to send out an email here and there to locals, and decided the first one to respond with a reasonable rate would warrant an appointment.

We heard back today from FaFa Appraisers.  Ha!  What a silly name -- so fru-fru -- right?  The woman owner would do a thirty minute appraisal for $50 which seemed reasonable if we brought the art to her.  This is doable except for the mural sized painting over the sofa in the basement -- and for that we'll use a photo and detailed description to see if she should come view it in person.  

I don't think we own the equivalent of a lottery ticket (or three tickets?) but at least we'll know what we've actually got.  And I can check one more thing off the "to-do" list.  With the actual cleaning of the inside of the refrigerator last week, this makes five things checked off the retirement list since a year ago June.  Way to go, Milly!  Could you move any slower?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Silly Question

One of my favorite foods ever is deviled eggs.  Like a lot of things I've discovered late in life, I like my deviled eggs pretty plain -- boiled egg, mayonnaise, a dab of mustard for tang, dill weed, salt, pepper.  I don't much care for minced onion or pickle relish added to my deviled eggs.  I've not tried caviar, salmon, crab, or tiny shrimps in them, but I somehow think I wouldn't like that either.

I've noticed a current trend in what people are currently called "upscale" urban dining.  Deviled eggs are showing up on appetizer menus around our city. Haute cuisine? You've got to be kidding -- except the price for these little jewels of canary opalescence is astronomical. 

Yesterday at lunch I could have gotten three halves (not whole eggs -- halves) for $5.75.  Granted they were listed as "deviled egg trio -- traditional, creole, and smoked salmon" -- but still -- an egg and a half for nearly $6 with tax?

The truth is I hungered for them.  I wanted a deviled egg trio so badly, yet with the other menu items at a premium price I just couldn't bring myself to order them.  You can't feel full on only 1.5 eggs while everyone else is chowing down on gumbo and mac and cheese. 

I just finished fixing Hubby some fresh tuna salad for his lunch today -- and instead of boiling only four eggs for him (added to a large can of tuna plus chopped onion and celery, a little relish, a dab of mayo and a heap of spices) I also boiled two for myself.  After mashing them and doctoring them with the required simple ingredients, I had maybe spent fifty cents max?  They taste marvelous!   Thems the real eats, folks.  Yum. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

June is Bustin' Out All Over

Half the year has gone by and I don't know where it went.  A second ago it 2010.  I wish I could say it was because "time flies when you're having fun" but the scientists actually think this just is actually what happens when you get old.

As people age, "they just have this sense, this feeling that time is going faster than they are," says Warren Meck, a psychology professor at Duke University.

Some scientists think this is because when you experience something for the first time more details get stored in your memory.  Because you are processing so many new events it feels like time is taking forever to "encode" on your mind.

"It's a construction of the brain," says Neuroscientist David Eagleman of Baylor College of Medicine. "The more memory you have of something, you think, 'Wow, that really took a long time!'

Naturally, science has more than one explanation for why time speeds up as we age.  You can do your own research on it.

Meanwhile five months of the year have passed:  Hubby and I are both a year older (and to be depressing about it -- a year closer to death).  Our older dog, Gus, has slowed down considerably from where he was twelve or even six months ago.  Luie, the pup, is now a full-fledged adult, willing to accept slower walks in the park and less time romping with his papa.  The pink Town Car needs a few more repairs than it did in the late winter months and Hubby has even begun thinking it might need to be replaced.  Our shoulders and knee are stiffer while all our joints creak more.  We sleep less at night and nap more during the day.  We are required to hire more help around the house.

Two things are required, the scientists say, to keep time from slipping away so elusively:
  1. Take advantage of new and unique experiences; when we go to the same places and do the same things, we don't make distinct memories and time seems to fly by.
  2. Focus on positive (rather than negative) past memories, trying to live more in the present, and holding a positive perception of the future.
Our goal for June is to use our time wisely -- and be happy.  Maybe we can slow the inescapable clutches of time just a little bit.