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the picky pause

October 28, 2017

i've got a couple of picky projects rolling right now, and so it's difficult for me to say this given that, but in the words a former supervisor used once when reprimanding me... this has become a marathon project, and it needs to end today. 

for the foreseeable future... at least through the end of this year, i will not be blogging, not even for the film challenge, tuesday topics or scavenger hunts. i'm sorry. but this must be so.

tuesday topics: five. things you love about fall

October 24, 2017


one. the weather. it's seventy-six degrees and sunny today. most days in texas are like that right about now. this is why i live in texas. it will be like this for about three months. this and...

two. the football. no state does football better than texas. none. NONE.

three. the colors. yeah, okay. we don't get the glory of the north. i get it. but this is exactly why i like it here. because it's subtle and sweet and short-lived, and you have to look for it. you have to make yourself take notice. it's impossible to take it for granted.

four. the clothes. specifically my boots and my older brother's sweaters. yeah, i know. they're made for a man. i miss the man. i like bundling up in them.

five. the backroads. i love taking drives through the country this time of year. i especially loved taking them in phineas boba fett (that little gray car at the far right in that photo above... god, i miss that car).


what do you love most about the season? share your thoughts with me!

tuesday topics: six. sport stories: football

October 17, 2017


one. invincible.
two. we are marshall.
three. rudy.
four. the blind side.
five. the program.
six. draft day.


what are you favorite football flicks? share them with me!


the fall film challenge bonus round: my list

October 15, 2017


one. above suspicion - shaun dingwall. the young victoria.
two. the big bang theory - carrie fisher. the blues brothers.
three. the crown - jared harris. the man from u.n.c.l.e.
four. downton abbey - douglas reith. the queen.
five. elementary - john heard. awakenings.
six. firefly - alan tudyk. forty-two.
seven. game of thrones - liam cunningham. war horse.
eight. how i met your mother - rachel bilson. life happens.
nine. it's always sunny in philadelphia - david hornsby. flags of our fathers.
ten. judging amy - tom welling. the choice.
eleven. knight rider - jason bateman. tropic thunder.
twelve. lethal weapon - hilarie burton. the secret life of bees.
thirteen. ally mcbeal - john michael higgins. g.i. jane.
fourteen. ncis - chris o'donnell. men don't leave.
fifteen. outlander - caitriona balfe. now you see me.
sixteen. parenthood - lauren graham. it's kind of a funny story.
seventeen. dr. quinn, medicine woman - jane seymour. austenland.
eighteen. rizzoli and isles - michael massee. last man club.
nineteen. sex and the city - justin theroux. the broken hearts club: a romantic comedy. 
twenty. true detective - taylor kitsch. american assassin.
twenty-one. the unusals - jeremy renner. captain america: civil war.
twenty-two. veep - allison janey. trust me.
twenty-three. the west wing - hal holbrook. the firm.
twenty-four. the x-files - gillian anderson. the mighty.
twenty-five. the young pope - guy boyd. while we're young.

the fall film challenge: bonus round


THE RULES: if you've seen the twenty-five films selected for your original list, you are eligible to compete in the bonus round. this one's a bit more complicated than normal. i've chosen twenty-five television series, past and present. for each program, choose a film which stars an actor or actress who has appeared on that show at least once. that individual does not have to be a member of the main cast. for example, a (short) sample bonus round list:

one. ally mcbeal - robert downey jr. spider-man: homecoming.
two. the young pope - jude law. king arthur: legend of the sword.
three. true detective - rachel mcadams. doctor strange.
four. above suspicion - kelly reilly. pride and prejudice.
five. the crown - jared harris. allied.



the catch (and this is what makes it a wee bit tricky): two actors on your list can't be in the same movie. if you choose a robert downey jr. movie for one series, he can't also star in another film selected for a different show, i.e. both he and rachel mcadams are in sherlock holmes, so you couldn't pick that film for true detective. you'd have to pick another mcadams flick, one in which he does not star, like doctor strange (and make sure you check the other actors listed alphabetically section on imdb's site... sometimes filmmakers will sneak in an uncredited cameo. what if instead of chris hemsworth as thor, the director of doctor strange had opted to include a scene with iron man? i wouldn't let you count that film, that's what, and you'd stand to lose some points. but rachel wasn't cast in spidey, and robert's not got a role in strange, so you're good. got it? god, i hope so.

there's no extra credit this time, like there was in the original round. every film's worth ten points. if you change a choice, you lose ten points, so choose wisely.

THE CATEGORIES
three. the crown.
four. downton abbey.
five. elementary.
six. firefly.
seven. game of thrones.
ten. judging amy.
eleven. knight rider.
twelve. lethal weapon.
thirteen. ally mcbeal.
fourteen. ncis.
fifteen. outlander.
sixteen. parenthood.
eighteen. rizzoli and isles.
nineteen. sex and the city.
twenty. true detective.
twenty-one. the unusuals.
twenty-two. veep.
twenty-three. the west wing.
twenty-four. the x-files.
twenty-five. the young pope.


if you're late to the party, you can still join us! details for the regular round are here.

show us your books

October 11, 2017


one. refuge for masterminds. the last of the school for unusual girls trilogy. historical fiction with a fantasy twist. i like the characters and love the idea at the heart of the story (supposes napoleon's outcome were different and a group of brilliant girls do their damnedest to save the world). it's a quick read. better than the second book. not as good as the first. three.

two. north of happy. about a boy who lives in mexico and runs off to the northwest because he doesn't want the life his father has laid out for him. it's a little predictable, but i enjoyed the story. of the books listed here, it's the fastest, easiest to read. four.

three. beach music. REALLY complex story, and i don't stand a chance of relaying it well here, so... it's beautifully written. i most enjoyed the interactions the main character has with his four brothers. my folks had listened to this a long time ago on a road trip and were so absorbed in the story they ran out of gas. i can see how that would be. it's immersive fiction, both tragic and comedic. five.

four. wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west. liked the idea of this one. didn't care much for the execution of it, with regard to both the writing and the plot structure. two.

five. emily and einstein. woman's husband is killed in an accident, and then she learns that her marriage wasn't quite what she thought it had been. i liked her character a hell of a lot better than her husband. it's a quick and entertaining enough read. but it's nothing really special. two.

six. sea swept. i've read this one at least a dozen times. it's the first book in one of my favorite series by nora roberts, about a trio of brothers and the boy their father had taken in. i dig the characters and the conflict. the only complaint i've got on this one is roberts has a habit of jumping around from one character's point of view to another. i don't have a post for this one like i do the others, so i'll share a snippet here:

"always squabbling."

the voice, weak and slurred, caused all three men to jolt to attention.

"dad." ethan leaned forward first, his heart fluttering in his chest.

"i'll get the doctor."

"no. stay," ray mumbled before phillip could rush out of the room. it was a hideous effort, this coming back, even for a moment. and ray understood he had moments only. already his mind and body seemed separate things, though he could feel the pressure of hands on his hands, hear the sound of his sons' voices, and the fear and anger in them... his sons, he thought, three wonderful gifts of fate. he'd done his best by them, tried to show them how to become men. now he needed them for one more. needed them to stay a unit without him and tend the child.

"the boy... the boy's mine. yours now. keep the boy, whatever happens, you see to him, cam. you'll understand him best." the big hand, once so strong and vital, tried desperately to squeeze. "your word on it."

"we'll take care of him... we'll take care of him until you're on your feet again."

"ethan." ray sucked in another breath that wheezed through the respirator. "he'll need your patience, your heart. you're a fine waterman because of them."

"don't worry about seth. we'll look after him."

"phillip."

"right here." he moved closer, bending low. "we're all right here."

"such good brains. you'll figure out how to make it all work. don't let the boy go. you're brothers. remember you're brothers. so proud of you. all of you. quinns." he smiled a little, and stopped fighting. "you have to let me go now."

"i'm going to get the doctor." panicked, phillip rushed out of the room while cam and ethan tried to will their father back to consciousness.

no one noticed the boy who stayed curled in the chair, his eyes squeezed tightly shut against hot tears (pages 23-24).

check out what jana and steph have read.

tuesday topics: seven. films on your to be watched list

October 10, 2017


in order of release date:

one. american assassin. why? because taylor kitsch is sexy.
two. battle of the sexes. because billie jean king is a badass.
three. breathe. because andy serkis directed what sounds like an amazing true story.
four. thor: ragnarok. because chris hemsworth is sexy.
five. wonder. because the book's amazing and jacob tremblay's adorable (though not here, at least not physically).
six. the darkest hour. because gary oldman, but more because winston churchill was a badass.
seven. star wars: episode viii - the last jedi. because star wars is fucking awesome.


what movies are you wanting to watch? share them with me!

sunday stories: books that inspire

October 8, 2017


forgive me, but this is a long one today. i spent the weekend at a writers conference and am desperate to immerse myself in some stories that have helped me in the past...

so i am the daughter of english teachers, which means there are a LOT of books in my house. WALLS full of them. so many books that my parents had to knock a wall in what once was my older brother's room which became my father's office after jon graduated college and got his own place so that they could put a built-in bookcase there to store still MORE books. and it's not just that they have these things for show. they've read. EVERY. ONE. there are books on philosophy, education, religion, romance... there are dramas and comedies and horror stories. my house could be a damned bookstore.

even if this weren't the case, even if there were no books in my house, i would have been an avid reader anyway. i feel like every night as a child, my mother would come into my room on several occasions and pry books out of my hands, insisting i'd go to sleep. i'd hide them beneath covers. i'd stash them under my bed or behind my nightstand. and as soon as she was gone, i'd whip them out again, flip back to whatever page i'd been reading -- usually with so little light that i could barely make out the words -- and jump back into the story. every time she came in, that light got dimmer, until finally she'd turn it out and i was forced to sleep.

and then, like my brothers, i grew bored with books. i wanted to swim, to ride my bike... to explore my neighborhood... and yes, the ideas i had swirling in my noggin. but i never wanted to write any of them down. i took walks, wandering as i wondered. it wasn't until i was a junior in high school that i remember wanting to read something other than the texts assigned by my teachers. the first books i remember wanting to read after that hiatus were: gentle rogue, tender rebel and love only once by johanna lindsey; the silence of the lambs and red dragon by thomas harris; paradise, whitney my love and once and always by judith mcnaught; and honest illusions by nora roberts.

that last one... that's the one that really hooked me. i loved the characters and the story and the way roberts told it. i could not get my hands on her novels fast enough. the more i read, the more i wanted to write like her. i'd floated through college, never really knowing what the hell i wanted to do with myself, what i wanted for myself except to be done, to be free of academia because, after all those years of public school as the superintendent's daughter, after nearly six years in college, of going what the fuck are you doing here? i wanted out. i didn't care how i made that happen, so i looked at all the hours i had... ALL the hours because i took ALL kinds of stupid classes like judicial systems and principles of accounting that i did NOT need AT ALL, and saw that i had the most hours in english and the second most in art so i changed my major and minor to those subjects, respectively, and took the classes... and it was in those last three semesters that i discovered nora.

and fell in love with books about love. and not just about people loving other people, but people learning to love their lives... because i'd never loved mine. and it occurred to me that i could do this. i could write stories just like this, so that maybe girls like me, who had no idea how to love the world, might find some solace in the stories i could tell, some solidarity... and maybe they could love the world better than i could. maybe writing those stories could help me love the world a little better.

so.... after that hellacious diatribe, i have for you ten stories, and they're all by nora... because hers are the ones that do it best, that sort of motivated me to wander the interior landscapes of my psyche, to write down what i saw and heard.


one. daring to dream.
"shit. she'd never humiliate herself by admitting that for the second time in her life she'd been trapped naked in a gym locker. she'll be more subtle than that. i say within a week we all have new identities. the slut, the shrew, and the dyke."

"i might like being the shrew," laura decided. "being the wimp gets old fast." 

"you were never the wimp," margo said loyally.

"oh, yes, i've been a practicing wimp for years. it's going to take some doing to make the leap to shrew. but i might give it a shot. josh?" she blinked as her brother walked into the salon, looking hot and harrassed. 

"ladies." he plopped down in a vacant chair, picked up margo's glass of water, guzzled it down." well don't you all look...." he paused, skimmed his eyes over three faces packed in green goo. "hideous. been having fun? ...i was into my second set with carl brewster on the courts here. you know carl brewster, television journalist, investigative reporter, and anchor on informed, that long-running, highly-rated, and revered newsmagazine."

the tone of his voice had laura biting her lip. "i've heard of it. how is carl?"

"oh, fit and sassy, not that i wasn't whipping his ass, but i digress. informed is planning to do a series of reports on the fine hotels of the world, with templeton, of course, as a highlight. i've spent weeks arranging for various crews to film our hotels, interview staff, certain guests. all to show the viewing public the fine, upstanding, sophisticated, and unrivaled class and hospitality of templeton worldwide... naturally when carl suggested we get some clips of the two of us playing tennis at our landmark resort here in monterey, i agreed. a nice, human touch, the vp of templeton enjoying the pleasant surroundings where his guests are always pampered and satisfied... imagine my surprise, my distress, when one of our regular patrons raced screaming into camera range, her templeton spa robe flapping open, her eyes wild as she sputtered accusations about being attacked -- bodily attacked by laura templeton ridgeway and her cohorts."

"oh, josh. i'm so sorry." laura turned her head away, hoping he'd take it for shame. it would never, never do to laugh...

"she started it," kate said, then winced when he turned flinty eyes on her. "well, she did."

"i'm sure mom and dad will understand that completely."

even the stalwart kate could be cowed. "it was margo's idea."

margo hissed through her teeth, "traitor. she called kate a lesbian... i suppose you'd have let her get away with it. she's been trying to damage the shop. she said nasty things to laura... and just the other day she came into the shop and called me a slut. a second-class slut."

"and your answer was go gang up on her, three to one, smack her around, strip her naked, and shove her into a locker? ...pitiful insults from crazy women don't bother me. and your timing was rare and perfect... i'd just begun to get carl to nibble at the idea of doing a sidebar story on the latest innovation of a templeton heir. laura templeton ridgeway's partnership with old and dear friends margo sullivan -- yes, the margo sullivan, and kate powell. smart, savvy women creating and running a smart, savvy business."

"were going to get air on informed? that's fabulous."

he shot margo a disgusted look. "christ, you are an idiot. what you're going to get, unless i can do some fast and sweet talking, is sued and very possibly charged in a criminal action. she's claiming assault, verbal and physical abuse -- and now that i know kate's a lesbian, that explains the sexual abuse she tossed in... she came shrieking across the court. i'd just hit a line drive, barely missed beaning her... suddenly i've got my arms full of this half-naked, spitting, swearing, clawing mass who's screaming that my sister, her lesbian companion, and my whore attacked her... though i didn't appreciate the term, i deduced you must be my whore. the lesbian companion might have stumped me, but for process of elimination" (pages 266-271).

two. holding the dream.
"you want me to take the dress out of the bag." with a fierce smile, kate leaned over the counter. "why don't you--"

"oh, the australian crystals just make those earrings, don't they?" dashing around the counter, margo gave kate a shove that knocked her a full foot sideways. "i have a bracelet that's just made to go with them. kate, why don't you take the dress back out while i unlock the case?"

"i'll take the damn dress back out," kate muttered with her back turned. "but i'm not putting it in again. no one can make me." spoiling for a fight, she scowled as the door jingled open. her scowl only deepened at byron's quick smile.

"hello, ladies. i'll just browse until you're free."

"you're free," margo said meaningfully to kate. "i'll finish up here."

one devil was the same as another, kate supposed and walked reluctantly out from behind the counter. "looking for something?"

"mother's day. i bought my mother's birthday present in here a couple of months ago, and it made me a hero. i figured i'd stick with a winner." he reached out, skimmed a knuckle along her jaw. "how are you feeling?"

"fine." embarrassed at the memory of sobbing in his arms, she turned stiffly away. "did you have anything in mind?"

in answer, he put a hand on her shoulder, turned her around. "i thought we'd parted on semi-friendly terms at least."

"we did." she reeled herself in. there was no point in blaming him, though it was more satisfying. "i'm just a little tired. i nearly punched that customer... i think my coworkers are plotting my demise." ...when he continued to study her, she shifted. "you did come in for a gift, right -- not to check up on me or anything?"

"i can do both."

"i'd rather you--" the door opened again, heralding the entrance of three laughing, chattering women. kate grabbed byron's arm in a steely grip. "okay, i'm with you. you need my undivided attention. i'll give you ten percent off if you take up all my time until they leave."

"a real people person, aren't you, katherine?"

"i'm a desperate woman. don't screw with me" (pages 91-93).

three. finding the dream.
"i'm not the country club type, josh." as if someone had already forced him into a suit, michael rolled his shoulders.

"i'd consider it a favor."

scowling, michael measured out a grin. "i hate it when you do that."

"and i'd be able to introduce you to a lot of potential horse owners... it's not like a date... it's just that laura's feeling like a third wheel at these things. i didn't realize it myself, but margo pointed it out... then i realized how often laura either skips going to events, or cuts out early. it would be nice for her to have an escort, that's all."

"a woman like your sister ought to have a platoon of likely escorts lined up and waiting." and all with a proper pedigree, michael thought.

"yeah, well, she doesn't seem interested in swimming with the sharks in the dating pool... she knows you, mick. she'd be comfortable with you. and it would give you the chance to make some contacts. everybody's happy."

"i'm not happy when i have to wear a tie." he glanced over his shoulder and grinned. "not like you, harvard, in your fancy italian suit. get the hell out of my barn."

"come on, mick. it's just one night out of your fascinating and fun-filled life. we'll hit the game room, play some billiards, tell some lies."

there was that, michael considered... "i can still bury your ass at pool."

"i'll lend you a tie."

"fuck you... laura might not go for this little arrangement of yours."

"i can handle laura..."

she was furious, livid. and trapped. they'd ganged up on her... josh and margo and kate... the arrangement would suit everyone. they wouldn't have to worry about her driving there and back alone or about her feeling awkward at an event designed for couples. michael would gain an entree and make contacts in the horse world.

oh, yeah, it suited everyone just fine. everyone but herself.

it was humiliating... a thirty-year-old woman being fixed up by her big brother. worse, now michael knew that she was a pathetic divorcee who couldn't get her own date. as if she wanted one in the first place...

"which i don't," she told the dog, who had come into her room to watch her every move with adoring eyes. "i don't even want to go to the damn country club tonight. i'm tired."

...he'd never used the front door at templeton house... the entrance was so damned imposing... it didn't make him feel welcome.

nor did ann sullivan when she opened the door to his knock... "i'll tell miss laura that you're here."

but as she turned to do so, laura came down the wide, curving steps. though michael would tell himself later that he was a fool, his heart stopped (pages 84-89).

four. born in fire.
"i'm a glass artist, mr. sweeney, not a painter."

he shot her a look, set her sketch down again. "if you were to sign that, i could get a hundred pounds for it... and the piece you've just finished? how much will you ask for it?"

"and why would that be your business?"

"perhaps i'd like to buy it."

she considered, scooting up on the edge of a bench and swinging her feet. no one could tell her the worth of her work, not even herself. but a price had to be set... she would calculate the time spent on producing the piece, her own feelings toward it, then factor in her opinion of the purchaser.

her opinion of rogan sweeney was going to cost him dear.

"two hundred and fifty pounds," she decided. a hundred of that was due to his gold cuff links.

"i'll write you a check." then he smiled, and maggie realized she was grateful he didn't seem to use that particular weapon often... "and though i'll add it to my personal collection -- for sentiment, shall we say? -- i could easily get double that for it at my gallery."

"'tis a wonder you stay in business, mr. sweeney, soaking your clients that way."

"you underestimate yourself, miss concannon... that's why you need me."

...she was at a disadvantage, sitting on the bench with him hovering over her. and she didn't care for it. "i don't want anyone messing in my work... i don't want a manager."

"ah, but you need one, margaret mary. you need one badly."

"a lot you know about what i'd be needing," she mumbled and began to pace. "some dublin sharpie with fancy shoes."

twice as much... twice what she'd asked. and there was mother to care for, and the bills to pay, and sweet jesus, the price of chemicals was murderous.

"what i need's peace and quiet. and room." she whirled back at him. his very presence in the studio was crowding her. "room. i don't need someone like you coming along and telling me we need three vases for next week, or twenty paperweights, or a half dozen goblets with pink stems. i'm not an assembly line, sweeney. i'm an artist."

very calmly, he took a pad and a gold pen out of his pocket and began to write.

"what are you doing there?"

"i'm noting down that you're not to be given orders for vases, paperweights or goblets with pink stems."

her mouth twitched once before she controlled it. "i won't take orders, at all" (pages 39-41).

five. born in ice.
and it couldn't be put off any longer, she told herself. shouldn't be. she moved briskly into the room where grayson had worked. it needed a good dusting, she thought and ran a finger gently over the edge of the desk... how could she have known it would feel so empty?

she shook herself. it was only a room, after all. waiting now for the next guest to come. and she would put the very next one into it, she promised... she moved into the bath, taking the towels he'd used from the bar where they'd dried.

and she could smell him.

the pain came so quickly, so fiercely, she nearly staggered under it. blindly, she stumbled back into the bedroom, sat on the bed, and burying her face in the towels, wept.

gray could hear her crying as he came up the stairs. it was a wild sound of grieving that stunned him, made him slow his pace before he faced it.

from the doorway he saw her, rocking herself for comfort, with her face pressed into the towels.

not cool, he thought, or controlled. not levelheaded... "well," he said in an easy voice, "you sure as hell had me fooled... no, don't stop crying, keep right on. it does me good to know what a fake you are. 'let me help you pack, gray. why don't i fix you some food for your trip? i'll get along just dandy without you'... you had me going, really had me. you never even looked back. that's what was wrong with the scene. it didn't play" (pages 364-365).

six. sea swept.
"always squabbling."

the voice, weak and slurred, caused all three men to jolt to attention.

"dad." ethan leaned forward first, his heart fluttering in his chest.

"i'll get the doctor."

"no. stay," ray mumbled before phillip could rush out of the room. it was a hideous effort, this coming back, even for a moment. and ray understood he had moments only. already his mind and body seemed separate things, though he could feel the pressure of hands on his hands, hear the sound of his sons' voices, and the fear and anger in them... his sons, he thought, three wonderful gifts of fate. he'd done his best by them, tried to show them how to become men. now he needed them for one more. needed them to stay a unit without him and tend the child.

"the boy... the boy's mine. yours now. keep the boy, whatever happens, you see to him, cam. you'll understand him best." the big hand, once so strong and vital, tried desperately to squeeze. "your word on it."

"we'll take care of him... we'll take care of him until you're on your feet again."

"ethan." ray sucked in another breath that wheezed through the respirator. "he'll need your patience, your heart. you're a fine waterman because of them."

"don't worry about seth. we'll look after him."

"phillip."

"right here." he moved closer, bending low. "we're all right here."

"such good brains. you'll figure out how to make it all work. don't let the boy go. you're brothers. remember you're brothers. so proud of you. all of you. quinns." he smiled a little, and stopped fighting. "you have to let me go now."

"i'm going to get the doctor." panicked, phillip rushed out of the room while cam and ethan tried to will their father back to consciousness.

no one noticed the boy who stayed curled in the chair, his eyes squeezed tightly shut against hot tears (pages 23-24).

seven. rising tides.
he removed the boots on the back porch. his mother had scalded his skin often enough in his youth about tracking mud for the habit to stick to the man. still, he didn't think anything of letting the wet dog nose in the door ahead of him.

until he saw the gleaming floor and counters.

shit, was all he could think as he studied the pawprints and heard simon's happy bark of greeting. there was a squeal, more barking, then laughter.

"you're soaking wet!" the female voice was low and smooth and amused. it was also very firm and made ethan wince with guilt. "out, simon! out you go. you just dry off on the front porch."

there was another squeal, baby giggles, and the accompanying laughter of a young boy. the gang's all here, ethan thought, rubbing rain from his hair. the minute he heard footsteps heading in his direction, he made a beeline for the broom closet and a mop.

he didn't often move fast, but he could when he had to.

"oh, ethan." grace monroe stood with her hands on her narrow hips, looking from him to the pawprints on her just-waxed floor.

"i'll get it. sorry." he could see that the mop was still damp and decided it was best not to look at her directly. "wasn't thinking," he muttered, filling a bucket at the sink. "didn't know you were coming by today."

"oh, so you let wet dogs run through the house and dirty up the floors when i'm not coming by?"

he jerked a shoulder. "floor was dirty when i left this morning, didn't figure a little wet would hurt it any." then he relaxed a little. it always seemed to take him a few minutes to relax around grace these days (page 13).

eight. inner harbor.
it had been more than six years since she'd bought seth a gift, she thought. she was going to make up for that.

it had to be just the right pencils, the perfect collection of chalks. she examined watercolor brushes as if the wrong choice would mean the end of the world as she knew it. she tested the weight and thickness of drawing paper for twenty minutes, then agonized over a carrier for all the supplies...

"seth, take sybill into the living room so you can open your gift."

"sure." he waited for sybill to stand, then with a jerk of his shoulder started out.

"i got it in baltimore," she began, miserably awkward, "so if it doesn't suit, if you don't like it, phillip could exchange things for you."

"okay." he pulled a box out of the first bag, sat indian-style on the floor, and within seconds was tearing the paper it had taken her untold agonies to choose to shreds.

"you could have used newspaper," phillip told her and, chuckling, nudged her into a chair.

"it's a box," seth said, puzzled, and sybill's heart sank at his disinterested tone... but he caught the hard beam in phillip's eye and made an effort. "it's a nice box." but he wanted to roll his eyes. then he idly flicked the brass hook, flipped the top. "holy shit!"

"christ, seth," cam muttered it, glancing over his shoulder as anna walked in from the kitchen.

"man, look at all this stuff! it's got, like, everything. charcoals and pastels and pencils." now he looked at sybill with that staggered shock. "i get to have it all?"

"it goes together... you draw so well, i thought... you may want to experiment with other mediums. the other box has more supplies."

"more?"

"watercolors and brushes, some paper..." she leaned over to take one of the brushes... as she spoke, she forgot her nerves, smiled at him.

the light from the lamp slanted over her face, caught something in her eyes that jiggled at the corners of his memory.

"did you have a picture on the wall? flowers, white flowers in a blue vase?"

her fingers tightened on the brush. "yes, in my bedroom in new york. one of my watercolors. not a very good one."

"and you had colored bottles on the table. lots of them, different sizes and stuff."

"perfume bottles." her throat was closing again, so she was forced to clear it. "i used to collect them."

"you let me sleep in your bed with you." his eyes narrowed as he concentrated on the vague blips of memory. soft smells, soft voice, colors and shapes. "you told me some story, about a frog."

the frog prince. into her mind flashed the image of how a little boy had curled against her, the bedside lamp holding back the dark for both of them, his bright blue eyes intense on her face as she calmed his fears with a tale of magic and happily ever after.

"you had-- when you came to visit, you had bad dreams. you were just a little boy."

"i had a puppy. you bought me a puppy."

"not a real one, just a stuffed toy." her vision was blurring, her throat closing, her heart breaking. "you... you didn't have any toys with you. when i brought it home, you asked me whose it was, and i told you it was yours. that's what you called it. yours. she didn't take it when she-- i have to go."

she shot to her feet. "i'm sorry. i have to go." and bolted out the door (pages 238-269).

nine. tears of the moon.
he didn't hear the banging at the front door, the clomp of bootsteps down the hallway, or the muttered curse.

typical, brenna thought. lost in some dream world again while life went on around him. she didn't know why she'd bothered to knock in the first place -- he rarely heard it, and they'd been running tame in each other's houses since childhood.

well, they weren't children anymore, and she'd as soon knock as walk in on something she shouldn't.

he could have had a woman in here, for all she knew. the man attracted them like sugar water attracted bees. not that he was sweet, necessarily. though he could be.

god, he was pretty... not that he ever looked at her like she was a woman.

just as well, she assured herself, and shifted her stance. she didn't have time to hang around mooning over the likes of shawn gallagher. some people had work to do.

fixing a thin sneer on her face, she deliberately lowered her toolbox and let it fall with a terrible clatter. that he jumped like a rabbit under the gun pleased her.

"christ jesus!" he scraped his chair around, thumped a hand to his heart as if to get it pumping again. "what's the matter?"

"nothing." she continued to sneer. "butterfingers," she said sweetly and picked up her dented toolbox again. "give you a start, did i?"

"you damn near killed me."

"well, i knocked, but you didn't bother to come to the door" (pages 5-6).

ten. heart of the sea.
"you're going to need more help in here, aidan."

"i've given that some thought... darcy'll be talking to some people when the time comes."

as if hitting the cue, darcy's voice rang through the kitchen doorway in a peal of heartfelt and inventive curses.

"you're a miserable excuse for a blind donkey's ass, and why you require a head hard as a rock when you've nothing inside it needing protection, i'll never know, for you're as brainless as a turnip and twice as disagreeable."

when trevor cocked his head in question, aidan merely continued to work his taps. "it's a bit of a temper our sister has, and shawn needs only to exist to provoke it."

"a shrew is it? i'll give you a shrew, you slant-eyed, toothless toad."

there was an audible thud, a yelp, more cursing, then darcy, face flushed, eyes lightning-hot, swung through the door with a large and loaded tray on her hip.

"brenna, i brained your husband with a stewpot -- though why an intelligent woman such as yourself would choose to wed a baboon like that escapes me."

"i hope it wasn't full, as he makes a fine stew."

"it was empty. you get a better ring that way." she tossed her head, drew in a long breath, and let it out again with a satisfied huff. shifting the tray, she turned toward the pass-through and spotted trevor.

temper vanished from her face like magic... "well, now, look who's come in out of the rainy evening... would you mind flipping up the pass-through, darling? i've my hands a bit full at the moment."

she'd been balancing trays one-handed more than half her life, but she liked to see him move. the hum in her throat was a sound of pure appreciation when he slid off the stool and walked over to do as she'd asked.

"it's nice to be rescued by a strong, handsome man."

"mind yourself, trev, there's a viper under that comely face." this was shawn's opinion, and he gave it a bit testily as he came out to serve another pair of orders at the bar.

emily and einstein

October 5, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because i liked the title and the look and feel of the cover (but, yall, i'm really weird about paper, so maybe don't put too much stock into that one, yeah?), and these two things:

(from the back cover): emily portman is an up-and-coming new york city editor whose life is everything she imagined it would be. she has a job she loves and a beautiful upper west side apartment with her husband, sandy. but everything changes in one night, when sandy dies in a tragic accident, and emily is stunned to discover that her marriage was made up of lies.

okay. not the name of the dude so much, and definitely not the inclusion of tragic in describing the accident that kills him (because redundant), but...

in my favorite english class, taught by the fantastic dr. william weitzel, whose instruction i do miss -- that man was a genius -- we spent weeks discussing tennyson's idylls of the king (a book i did not read, by the way... we'd just finished our mutual friend, and i was depressed because we couldn't spend the whole semester talking about how awesome it is). but i remember weitzel's fascination with how this one bad thing that starts out so small can become so huge and wreak such havoc, a germ inside of a beautiful bubble. sandy's the germ; i wanted to see just how bad he could be. and yall, he's a DICK who most definitely deserved to die.

then there's this bit his wife says about him: sandy portman drew me in, like the draft of a manuscript where perfectly constructed sentences hinted at but didn't yet reveal a deeper truth (page 11). 

she must be some kind of a sucker. or a saint. i was curious to know which it was. turns out, it's a little of both.

what i liked: that bit on page eleven, and...

"i can't do this."

i turned around and fled... but when i got to the building, the odd old man was already there shaking his head. "you really can't outrun me, alexander."

the sheer staggering force of it brought me to my knees, literally, my topcoat pooling around me in the frozen slush. "you can't do this. i have so much left to do."

"technically, that isn't true." yet again he looked apologetic.

my mind raced. "i have a wife. if i die it will kill her."

"i can't disagree with you there. that woman loves you. really loves you. too bad you didn't think of that sooner" (pages 20-21).

i knew i was feeling sorry for myself, and i tried to swallow it back, but i hated that i was losing so much. my home. my husband. my belief in our marriage. the belief that i was loved (page 97).

no matter where we lived, my mother loved giving parties... one night, a woman arrived that i hadn't seen in a while, a woman i had always loved. i took coats and made sure everyone had their drinks, and when i handed her a martini, she looked at me closely and then laughed.

"every time i see you, you're more grown up," she said, and looked around for my mother. "no wonder you don't need a husband, lillian. you've got emily to take care of all the things you don't like to do."

my mother looked at me across the room. i couldn't read her expression. the set of her mouth wasn't quite a frown, but it wasn't a smile either. "yes, she plays the perfect caretaker. but i wonder, is that what you really are, em? or are you hiding what you really want to be?" she paused. "please tell me a daughter of mine wants to be more than a housewife and a hostess" (pages 129-130).

a man who hadn't felt something intense for me would never have held me like he was afraid of what would happen if he let go (page 152).

lillian barlow thought i should learn about currents and tsunamis, but she hadn't thought to teach me how to swim (page 156).

emily had been my biggest victim, not because of horrible things i did, but because i had dared her to love me, and when she did i was unprepared for the enormity of that love, the responsibility -- something that deep down i had known i didn't know how to give back. but i had taken it anyway, handling it without care.

the fact was that i had married her because in her eyes i saw the man i could be. i ended up wanting a divorce because living with her every day was forcing me to see myself for who i really was, a man who didn't have the strength to work hard and persevere and do what it took to be something beyond ordinary (page 348).

what sucked: i'm not a huge fan of the author's writing style and wish she could've told the story in fewer pages. 

having said that: i had read a few pages yesterday, but i basically got the thing finished in a day, which is always a plus in my book. i liked the ending. it's kind of a weird and cheesy story, and i definitely preferred the pages told from emily's point of view. it's nothing stellar -- definitely NOT an utter triumph like j.r. ward said -- but it's cute.

tuesday topics: eight. books on your to be read list

October 3, 2017


okay. i am not counting the eight books that are left on my bonus list for erin's book challenge because i feel like that would be cheating, like i put no thought into it. i had a look at the books on my shelves last night and wasn't too keen on digging into any of them, so i went to the bookstore this morning and dug through the stacks. so i grabbed eight books that piqued my interest; these are the snippets that made me want to give them a look.

one. britt-marie was here by fredrik backman.
forks. knives. spoons.

in that order.

britt-marie is certainly not the kind of person who judges other people. far from it.

but surely no civilized person would even think of arranging a cutlery drawer in a different way from how cutlery drawers are supposed to be arranged.

we're not animals are we? (page 1).

two. love walked in by marisa de los santos.
my life -- my real life -- started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, i know how that sounds. my friend linny would snort and convey the kind of multi-pronged disgust i rely on her to convey. one prong of feminist disgust at the whole idea of a man changing a woman's life, even though, as things turned out, the man himself was more the harbinger of change than the change itself. another prong of disgust for the inaccuracy of saying my life began after thirty-one years of living it. and the final prong being a kind of general disgust for the way people turn moments in their lives into movie moments.

i do this more than i should, i'll give you that, but there was something backlit and sudden about his walking through the door of the cafe i managed (page 1).

three. the bookshop at water's end by patti callahan henry.
we are defined by the moods and whims of a tidal river surrounding our small town, cradling us in its curved basin. we don't shape it; it shapes us. the gray-blue water brings us what it will and only when it desires. one sweltering, languid afternoon as i shelved dusty paperbacks, i looked up to see a ghost. the girl was the spitting image of a woman i knew years ago -- too many summers ago to count. it could have been another whim of the river (page 1).

four. emily and einstein by linda francis lee.
i hadn't known emily for more than a week the first time i pulled her close. with our lips nearly touching, i whispered," fall in love with me. i dare you."

she did fall for me, though since then i have wondered if it was the dare that set me up to fall...

the first time i saw him my world tilted. ridiculous, i know, but seeing him the first time jarred me so deeply that i had to turn away, like turning away from looking directly at the sun, and pretend i hadn't noticed him at all.

it had nothing to do with the fact that he was the most beautiful man i had ever seen. his face was a strike against him. i fell in love because there was something in his eyes that was at odds with his physical beauty. sandy portman drew me in, like the draft of a manuscript where perfectly constructed sentences hinted at but didn't yet reveal a deeper truth. and when he pulled me close and smiled at me the first time, a crooked smile on his perfect face, hinting at a bit more of his truth? well, i was lost (pages 7-11).

five. the glass kitchen by linda francis lee.
on the morning her sister went missing, portia cuthcart woke up to thoughts of blueberries and peaches.

the taste of fruit filled her mouth, so sweet, so real, as if she'd been eating in her dreams. with a groggy yawn, she scooted out of bed. she pulled on her favorite fluffy slippers and big-girl's robe, then shuffled into the tiny kitchen of the double-wide trailer on the outskirts of willow creek, texas. without thinking about what she was doing, she pulled blueberries from the icebox and peaches from the fruit bin.

she might have been only seven years old, but she was smart enough to know that her mother would have a fit if she pulled out knives, or did anything near the two-burner hot plate. instead, portia pulled the peaches apart, catching the sticky-sweet juice on her tongue as it ran down her fingers. she found a slice of angel food cake wrapped in plastic and plopped the fruit on top.

just as she stood back, satisfied with what she had made, her parents tumbled into the trailer like apples poured out of a bushel basket, disorderly, frantic (page 3).

six. we were liars by e. lockhart.
welcome to the beautiful sinclair family.

no one is a criminal.

no one is an addict.

no one is a failure.

the sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. we are old-money democrats. our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.

it doesn't matter if divorce shreds the muscles of our hearts so that they will hardly beat without a struggle. it doesn't matter if trust-fund money is running out; if credit card bills go unpaid on the kitchen counter. it doesn't matter if there's a cluster of pill bottles on the bedside table.

it doesn't matter if one of us is desperately, desperately in love.

so much

in love

that equally desperate measures

must be taken.

we are sinclairs.

no one is needy.

no one is wrong.

we live, as least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of massachusetts.

perhaps that is all you need to know (page 3).

seven. the seven rules of elvira carr by frances maynard.
"have you had a stroke, mother?" i asked, bending down. she snorted. call an ambulance, i thought. that's what people did.

it came very quickly with two men -- paramedics was the correct word -- who looked young and strong...

"have you checked out soon, no worries," one said, and then to me, "are you coming with your mother, love?"

my face went hot when he called me love.

coming with your mother? i hardly ever went anywhere. father was dead, and mother had sold his car. when i'd made trips on my own, there had been incidents. i occasionally went to places, places such as the dentist, on the bus with mother, but that was a palaver and made her knees hurt.

i would have enjoyed a trip out, but i knew ambulances were only for sick people.

"no thank you." i stared at his ear. "i'm not ill. and i haven't finished getting dinner ready" (pages 2-3).

eight. summer breeze by nancy thayer.
aaron was handsome, sweet, sexy, and smart. he was the first man she'd ever wanted to marry. while bella was growing up, her own family had been happy -- noisy and messy, but happy -- and bella wanted one like that for herself. lots of children, toys on the floor, flour on the kitchen counter while she taught her son to make popovers (so much fun for children), a husband who would come home from work with a smile on his face to toss his children into the air -- and who could make her melt at the sight of him, the way she was melting now. 

she could have all that with aaron. he had just gotten his master's in architecture. he was putting out feelers for jobs and was sure to get a good one. he was so bright, so reliable. he wanted children. he was in love with her. she was in love with him, and the vision of their life together was enticing.

but there was one enormous problem: aaron had been invited to interview for a job in san francisco.

san francisco excited aaron. bella didn't want to leave massachusetts (page 3).


what books are you wanting to read next? share them with me!

ten things to celebrate in october

October 2, 2017

one. october first. national homemade cookies day. bake a batch of cookies (and NOT chocolate chip) from scratch.


two. october sixth. come and take it day. this is a damned fine day in texas. mexico wanted their cannon back. we dared them... and eventually we won. be especially daring on this day. what's a thing you've been too afraid to do? do it. if you can't think of something... get some suggestions from your friends.

three. october sixth. mad hatter's day. wear the weirdest hat you own for the entirety of your day.

four. october tenth. angel food cake day. bake an angel food cake, but don't eat it. it's not for you.

five. october eleventh. emergency nurses day. take that angel food cake you should bake for the tenth to the nearest hospital emergency room. those nurses are angels. let them know they're loved.

six. october eleventh. southern food heritage day. according to the folks at mental floss, if you're not eating chicken and waffles on this day, you're doing life wrong. where's the best place in your neck of the woods for such a meal? go there and grab some grub.


seven. october twelfth. jon kevin's day. that's my big brother's day. have a beer for him. he'd be one away from fifty.

eight. october sixteenth. dictionary day. find sixteen of the coolest words in the world. what are they?

nine. october twenty-first. count your buttons day. so apparently the bloggess is fond of buttons. visit your local fabric store and purchase twenty-one (or somewhere thereabouts) of the funkiest buttons you can find and send them to her (mailing address here).

ten. october twenty-eighth. frankenstein friday. share ten lines you love from mary shelley's masterpiece.

nine things celebrated in september

October 1, 2017

one. september third. skyscraper day. travel to the nearest metropolitan area (if it's within a reasonable distance) and take a picture of the skyline. if the distance is too great, dig through your travel photos for a favorite skyline shot.

downtown houston, as seen from some steps near lee and joe jamail skate park.

two.
two. september sixth. read a book day. if you're anything like me, you've got stacks of books you've been saying i'm going to read this... someday. someday's here. pick one that's been on your to read list for far too long. read some.

three.
six impossible things by fiona wood. i bought this ages ago. i want to like it. so far i've yet to be able to do so.

three. september eighth. pardon day.
what unforgivable curses have been used on you and by whom? find the strength to forgive one person, and be brave enough to confess the forgiveness.

i wrote a letter, though i didn't get around to it until today, so technically, this was a bust. won't share the details here. hopefully it'll be received well. if not, so be it.

four.
four. september ninth. teddy bear day. donate a new teddy bear to a children's hospital. i had lunch with a friend from high school a couple of weeks ago, and afterward we went to toys r us and got these three. aren't they happy? more importantly, they are SO soft. while i wish i could give more, i'm pleased to give these three.

five. september twelfth. national video games day. what was one of your favorite video games to play in your childhood? find an arcade that has that game and play some.

i played a couple of games of ms. pacman at the movie theater before seeing spider-man: homecoming on the first, but i didn't take a photo... so i'll let yall decide if it counts or not.

six.
six. september thirteenth. fortune cookie day. snag six fortune cookies. give five to your friends or family, and keep one for yourself. what's it say?

mine said: you will be happily surprised by a long time friend.

seven.
seven. september seventeenth. national women's friendship day. of your girl friends, which have you known the longest? what's sustained that friendship? send a note letting her know how much you value her presence in your life.

i wrote a friend i'd made when i was three. i've not seen her since i was eight. but we found each other on facebook last year, and i'm so, SO happy we did so.

eight. september twenty-first. world gratitude day. this one's got two parts. ONE) on this day, make a concerted effort to say THANK YOU if someone pays you a compliment. women are so bad at shrugging off positive attention, like we don't deserve it. like the other day when a friend commented how sweet i was, i contradicted the compliment. if someone says THANK YOU, instead of saying NO PROBLEM say YOU'RE WELCOME. TWO) as you go through your day, make a list of everything you see for which you are thankful. there's a notes app on your phone. USE it. if you do it right, by the end of the day, it should be a rather long list. type it up. send it to me. i'll be grateful for the mail.

this one was a bust, too. i forgot about the first part and only worked on my list for about two minutes at the start of my day.

nine. september twenty-eighth. national good neighbor day. check in with one of the folks who lives nearby, if not next door. take fifteen minutes out of your day to visit.

i didn't do this one, either. she has a black and white cat that likes to hang out in our yard. i played with him a couple of times. does that count?