Favorite Mug

I have a lot of different mugs, from a lot of different places. Most of the time though, I just use our standard blue ones that we got for our wedding.

Strangely enough, my favorite mug isn’t even one I drink from.

wpid-img_20141119_092945.jpg

 

I got this mug on a missions trip to New Orleans, the year after Hurricane Katrina. I had had NOLA on my list of places to go for years, but suddenly, I was there under devastating circumstances. The city was nothing like I had expected it to be, and we spent the week in construction gear, tearing down mold-infested houses.

But we also spent that week holding hands in circles with neighborhood peoples, singing Cajun prayers to the sky. There was one woman who hugged every single one of us as we left her home, so grateful to us for helping her start over.

We had one day of relief in the middle of the week, and in the middle of all that darkness, the French Quarter was alive. The people had started to come back and open the city again–and some had never left. Amazingly, the Quarter hadn’t been touched by the storm, at least not like the parts drowned by the levy.

I had my first gumbo there…oh man I dream about that gumbo. And, of course, we all packed into Cafe Du Monde for the mountains of beignets. There’s just nothing like them.

The handle has fallen off the mug at some point, so I don’t use it for my coffee anymore. Instead, it sits on my desk to hold my favorite pens, reminding me every day of that week. I made some life long friendships during that trip, some amazing memories. Someday I’ll go back to that city that I fell in love with. There was so much life even after so much tragedy.

Advertisements

Teaser Tuesday 11/18/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“The call came from behind him, softer than a whisper, but strong too. Can a shout be silent?”

–George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings

 

I know guys, I know…I owe you so many posts. My birthday sucked all of my energy the last few days, and I completely hit a blogging block. So much for NaBloWriMo! I had so many ideas, but they are all gone now. I may still do a few of the themes, but probably won’t do all of them. Bummer.

Watching History be Made

Today’s “History” themed post was going to be all about my love of British lore, but you guys have heard me wax poetic about that stuff a million times.

And then this morning, something brilliant happened. My twitter feed started exploding with links and hashtags as the European Space Agency got closer to landing the Philae lander on Comet 67P, 317 million miles away from Earth. Once I saw what was happening, I tuned into the live feed. At first, there wasn’t much happening–just a bunch of people standing in a control room, a dull hum of voices as they hovered over computer monitors. William Shatner joked on Twitter about one particular man who looked very serious with his hands on his hips in a gray hoodie.

But then, that dull hum started to get louder. The serious faces started to get more animated, and the hands started pointing at the screens. People started moving around. And then, all at once, HOORAY!!!!!!!!! Images started flowing through Twitter, and after another few moments, they got confirmation that Philae was communicating from the comet.

I’ve been listening now to the follow up speeches, the excitement. This is the first time anyone has ever landed on a comet. There is so much discovery that can happen, so much research to be done.

I have so many feelings about what I just watched. In the aftermath of NASA losing funding, our space program shutting down, it’s so fascinating, so inspiring to see this work being done elsewhere. Even though I do not understand everything that is happening or what can happen, I love watching the brilliance that people are striving for. History was made today. People will talk about today 50 years in the future when they talk about space. I don’t know what will come out of this project, but I know I watched it happen today. And that is thrilling.

Ebooks

There is a constant debate over whether Ebooks are “real books.” It gets pretty heated sometimes.

I’m not sure there’s many bibliophiles who would disagree with me that the best smell in the world is that of old, musty book. There’s nothing else like it. And it’s true, electronic words just cannot compare with ink on a yellowed, tattered page. Kindles, even with customized covers, cannot match the excitement of a bookshelf full of multi-colored books of every size, texture, age, author, title, organized perfectly and collected obsessively.

I am so proud of my bookshelves. You know this. I will never stop collecting REAL PAPER BOOKS. And in a fire…there would probably be a few I would have to grab.

wpid-img_20141111_093732.jpg

But. All that said. I also have a Kindle. And a tablet. And I regularly use Overdrive through my library on my computer and my phone.

Why? Why do I continue to read electronically, when there are so many REAL books available to me?

Ebooks are a convenience. Every reason really comes back to that one point. I would love to buy every book, I really would. But, books are expensive. Thankfully, Overdrive has made it so easy for libraries to provide ebooks to us. I can download them to my kindle or tablet in seconds, and off I go. And I love Kindle Unlimited too! It got a lot of hate when it first came out, but I’ve really enjoyed it. And, I talked to an author the other day, who told me that after a reader gets 10% through a book, he gets paid as if they bought the book. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

The other great thing about Amazon…so many classics are free. I probably have 150 books from my Boxall list already downloaded on my Kindle, just waiting to be read. They are the hard ones, the books I will have to highlight and look up definitions–and guess what–I can do that just by holding down a finger. I can’t do that with a real book. And you KNOW I hate highlighting real books. Ugh. Some books I just prefer to read interactively!

Often times, I’ll use Ebooks as an “audition.” Once I read it electronically, I just HAVE to own a copy. Most of the books I own, I’ve already read. I do have a TBR Shelf, but it’s relatively small in comparison to the TBR folder on my Kindle. Which is another convenience of ebooks–storage. I can always have a book ready. When we went on vacation, I took my tablet, rather than 5 different REAL books. It was just easier.

Finally, having a Kindle and tablet makes it possible for me to participate in NetGalley and Penguin First to Read programs. I never thought I would be able to read books before they got published, and it’s so cool that publishers give us this opportunity! They’ve really taken advantage of the book blogger community to get feedback on their premarket books…and we all love it! GIMMIE THAT ARC! How cool is it that we are the first people to read the up-and-comings? I love it and certainly do not take the privilege lightly.

When you read as much as I do, you’ll take words in any format they come. Ink on a page, or eink on a tablet. Just please give me more more more. And if you haven’t picked up a Kindle or Tablet only because “well, people say that’s not real reading.” Trust me, it’ll make your reading experience even better. I’m reading even more than I did before I ordered my Kindle. And, probably reading better, because it’s so interactive.

(At this point, I should probaby say, this is not an ad for Kindle, and I haven’t been paid. I just really love my Paperwhite. This applies to any tablet or ereader.)

Where do you stand on the real book/ebook fence? Do you use both?

Are We Sure This is Fiction?

The best authors somehow transport us to different worlds, different times. For the moments we are lost in between pages of the book we are reading, we are no longer sitting on the little brown couch in the upstairs bedroom of our apartment, or the hammock in our parents’ backyard. In those moments, we are far away in the mountains of South Carolina, we are running from Grievers in a maze, we are dancing in a huge manor house during the London Season.

Most of the time, our fiction is obvious. But sometimes, the most wonderful books pull us in so hard that when the white pages hit at the end…we blink back into a reality with a hangover so fierce it is incomprehensible.

I often find that, for me, these are usually historical fiction, especially based on real people, famous people. Maybe it’s because the books are based on facts I already know, and that helps push me into the story deeper. Whatever the reason, I am usually transfixed by the history and the characters.

Here’s a few historical fictions that I have…a few of my favorites.

wpid-img_20141110_134551.jpg

 

 

What books seem the most real to you?

Show Me What You Write In

We are a little over a week into November now, and based on everyone’s tweets and Tumblr posts…it sounds like NaNoWriMo has not been easy on ya’ll.

I have tremendous respect for those of you working so hard to write your books. I just don’t have that fortitude and creativity…which is why I’m doing the blog version!

No matter what we are writing, we all have our methods. Some use a laptop, some prefer old school pen and paper.

I have become an obsessive journaler. I collect magazine articles, calendar pages, letters. And obviously, I write, constantly. Book quotes get written down, any random thought that comes into my head. Plans for my blog….really, just everything. As you can see, this year has just exploded, and a 3 inch binder has not been enough.

wpid-2014-11-09-13.05.51.jpg.jpeg

 

 

What do you write in? Do you journal?

Games

My family is extremely competitive. We have a proud tradition of teasing and taunting…and maybe a few temper tantrums. But just a few. We certainly would never go overboard. Of course not.

We never had any structured game nights when we were growing up, but on holidays, there was always something going on. The kids would break off to play video games or pool downstairs, and the adults had a heavy game of Euchre and Aggravation upstairs. There was also a board game called Sequence–a card based game that took a lot of strategy.

As the age groups converged, outside influences started influencing the types of games played. Now, when we go home for the holidays, there is one card game we all look forward to playing:  313. This is a quick paced game, that thankfully for me, doesn’t require much math to calculate strategy. It goes in levels 3 cards in a hand means 3 of a kind. 4 cards in a hand means 4 of a kind or 4 in a run, and on it goes. Hard to explain in writing, but after a few hands you start to pick up the pattern. R beat us all in his first round, I think. My baby sister, who is the most competitive of all of us, didn’t like that so much. He and she are two of a kind.

wpid-img_20141108_145537.jpg

Last year, I introduced my other favorite game. Cards Against Humanity. Have you guys played this yet? Oh man. It’s basically Apples to Apples…for horrrrrrible people. Which I am. Yep.  My parents ducked out of this one, but us young ones stayed up until 2 am laughing our asses off at the different combinations. There’s nothing better than gigging to tears with your family.

Christmas will come a little bit late for us this year, but hopefully I’ll get to spend a little time playing games with them this year. Definitely looking forward to going home!