Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 Reading Review

In 2007 Susan read 100 books and was featured in her local newspaper and that inspired me to keep track of how many books I read in a year, I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near 100 but I didn’t have a goal of any kind, I just wanted to see. I did realize that I read 2 sometimes 3 or 4 books to my first graders every day, which equals at least 200 some books a year (180 school days a year), they are picture books, but they are still books. When I first started keeping track I counted new books that I’d read to my class for the first time, however late in the year I decided that the picture books were getting in the way from my “true” reading numbers so I created another shelf on good reads for “adult” books (meaning novels and non-picture books) and stopped entering children’s books. If you count the new picture books I read this year I read a total of 122 books! Impressive!
74 of those books were novel length non-picture books! I’m impressed with myself!

Below are all the books I’m counting in my year end total. In some cases I have grouped by author, you can tell that when I get on to an author I tend to plow through everything they wrote! :)

One Book Wonders – these books are the only ones by that Author that I read:
1. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of Molly Dodd - Jim Fergus
I really enjoyed this one! It’s about the Cheyenne attempting to assimilate into White culture by requesting 1000 white women to be wives to their warriors.

2. Last Days of Summer – Steve Kluger
Another really good one – this one told in a scrapbook format – very interesting!

3. Body Surfing – Anita Shreve

4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
I LOVED this book – it’s all about a deep and true friendship between women! I have heard that her other books aren’t very good.

5. Anybody Out There? – Marion Keyes
I enjoyed this one too – and guess what? Marion Keyes has written lots of other books! I can’t wait to read some more of her work.

6. The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
This book was recommended to me by a friend and I loved it! I know nothing about medieval England, but this book got me interested. It was an intriguing story that kept me interested! I can't wait to read some more Philippa Gregory novels!

7. The Lake of Dead Languages – Carol Goodman

8. The Godmother – Carrie Adams
This is probably my favorite book of the year! Tessa King is a single woman who years for a family and through a number of twists and turns finds happiness.

9. A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg

10. Ida B…and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save The World – Katherine Hannigan

11. Soldier’s Heart: Being the Story of Enlistment and Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers – Gary Paulsen

I don’t read much non-fiction, you’ll note they are mostly humor non-fiction

12. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Book club book….never would have read it otherwise. Interesting though.

13. Persian Girls – Nahid Rachlin
Wonderful memoir about an Iranian girl who had to fight against amazing odds.

14. When you are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris
Not the best David Sedaris, but I had to read it!

15. If you Lived Here I’d know your Name: News From Small Town Alaska – Heather Lende
Heather Lende is an obituary writer in Haines Alaska – this book is filled with stories of what life is like in a remote small “frontier” town. If you like Northern Exposure you’ll LOVE this book!

16. Camp Camp: Where Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies – Roger Bennett
A walk down memory lane! Pictures and stories from various Summer Camps around the country from the mid-80s!

17. An Idiot Girls Christmas: Tales from the top of the Naughty List – Laurie Notaro
My 1st Laurie Notaro, but definitely not my last! She is hysterical! I loved the story about her taking her 80 year old Nana shopping!

Fiction – grouped by author, not sorted

18. The Third Angel – Alice Hoffman
I love Alice Hoffman, but this will not be my favorite.

19. Blackbird House – Alice Hoffman (a re-read)
My favorite Alice Hoffman – the house is the “main character”!

20. When Madeline Was Young: A Novel – Jane Hamilton

21. The Book of Ruth – Jane Hamilton
I LOVED this book! I had a very deep connection with Ruth!

22. A Patchwork Planet – Anne Tyler

23. Digging to America – Anne Tyler
One of my favorite Anne Tyler’s so far – this one is about 2 girls adopted from Korea and the connection between the familes.

24. Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
Pulitzer Prize Winning….I didn’t “get it” why it won, not my favorite!

25. Back When we were Grown-Ups – Anne Tyler
Everyone in this book had a strange nickname….not sure about it, kinda strange book.

Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon Novels:

Anna Pigeon is a kick ass National Park Service Ranger who gets sent to different parks and always lands in the middle of some scam or murder. They are mysteries (which I tend to not like), however they aren’t all “whodoneit” murder mysteries, and all are set in different National Parks.

26. Blind Descent - Carlsbad Caverns NP – it was this book that made me realize I should have read the Anna Pigeon books in order!
27. Hunting Season – Natchez Trace NP
28. Endangered Species – Cumberland Island NP
29. Firestorm – Lassen Volcanoes NP
30. Winter Study – Isle Royale National Park – Set in the winter on the remote island in northern Michigan where Anna and the others were snowed in, this was the perfect book for my recent trip! I finished it sitting in my room watching the wind howl and the snow blow!

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Novels

Susan got me started on these and I LOVE them! I read all but 3 of the Stephanie Plum novels this year! :) Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter who is rather inept – she gets herself into the funniest situations!

31. Four to Score
32. High Five
33. Hot Six
34. Seven Up
35. Hard Eight
36. To the Nines
37. Ten Big Ones
38. Eleven on Top
39.Twelve Sharp
40. Lean Mean Thirteen
41. Fearless Fourteen
42. Visions of Sugar Plums - Between the Numbers: Christmas
43. Plum Lovin’ – Between the Numbers: Valentines Day
44. Plum Lucky – Between the Numbers: St. Patrick’s Day

Carl Hiaasen’s book are usually really funny and bizarre! Unfortuently the three I read this year weren’t as good as the other’s I’d read of his! I’m hooked on him though so in 2009 I’ll finish off his body of work! All of his books are set in Florida and all involve some sort of environmental agenda.

45. Stormy Weather - good story but too many characters and they never came together.
46. Basket Case
47. Native Tongue - same characters from Stormy Weather! Better story!

Adriana Trigiani
A bunch of years back Big Stone Gap was an Oprah book and I have wanted to read it ever since so I picked it up at the library and loved it! I proceeded to read everything Adriana Trigiani has written! The Big Stone Gap books are a bit like Mitford only without any religion. Her other books are all about Italian Americans and their struggles. While the books are all similar they are also all unique.
48. Big Stone Gap
49. Big Cherry Holler
50. Milk Glass Moon
51. Home to Big Stone Gap
52. Lucia, Lucia
53. Queen of the Big Time
54. Rococo

Philip Gulley’s Harmony Series
Harmony is a lot like Mitford only they are a bit lighter – quick reads!
55. Home to Harmony – a re-read.
56. Just Shy of Harmony
57. Signs and Wonders: A Harmony Novel
58. Life Goes On: A Harmony Novel
59. Christmas in Harmony
60. A Change of Heart
61. Almost Friends
62. The Christmas Scrapbook – my favorite!

63. Run – Ann Patchett
The gal who gives me my allergy shots recommended this and I really liked it.

64. Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
This one was supposedly “better than Run” but I enjoyed Run more.

Books Read for Grad School
65. Howard Street Tutoring Manual – Darryl Morris
66. Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers: Strategies for Classroom Intervention, 3-6 – Dorothy Strickland
67. Literature Based Reading Activities – Ruth Yopp Edwards
68. Goodbye Round-Robin: 25 Effective Oral Reading Strategies – Michael Optiz
69. Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties – Thomas Gunning
70. Understanding Dyslexia and the Reading Process: A Guide for Parents and Educators – Marion Sanders
71. Reading Instruction that Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching (Solving Problems in Teaching Literacy) – Michael Pressley
72. Creating Literacy Rich Schools for Adolescents – Gay Ivey
73. The Literacy Coaching Challenge: Models and Methods for Grades K-8 (Solving Problems in Teaching Literacy) – Michael McKenna
74. Book Buddies: Guidelines for Volunteer Tutors of Emergent and Early Readers - Francine Johnston

Overall I’m very pleased with how much reading I did this year! In 2009 I hope to simply read more books than in 2008 – maybe 100, or maybe not. I have a number of “to be read” books here that I want to finally read – I’m tired of looking at them!
If you want to follow along with my reading adventures find me over on Good Reads! Happy Reading! 


So I'm sitting here watching Tech beat Cincinnati (didn't even know The University of Cincinnati had a football team until today...sad b/c I lived in Cincy from 1987 (age 12) until I went to college and my parents were there another 8 or so years beyond that!) and I'm chilly. Really chilly. Chillier here than I was at Canaan Valley with the snow blowing through the door.

So I go upstairs to investigate. The thermostat is set ay 69. No wonder it's cold. I realized that I have been messing with the thermostat more this winter than ever before. I suspected that there was a problem with programable settings or something.

I touch the "increase temp" button and the thermostat goes into a strange mode - it's got the temp displayed "69" and it says "off" and it's blinking. It has never blinked. The fan and the heat pump are still running. I begin investigating. Of course it's midnight. Why do these things happen at midnight?

Of course I can't find the owners manual. Google to the rescue! I find the owners manual.

Both on the thermostat and in the owners manual I see info on how to replace the batteries. Batteries? This thing works on batteries? Who knew.

It says to replace the batteries yearly. hmmmm...I have had this thermostat since 2005 - March 2005 so almost 4 years - and up until tonight had no idea that it used batteries. Could explain why it hasn't been holding the temp lately.

So I begin to figure out how to replace the batteries. I finally get all the buttons in the right place and pry the cover off. Next task find batteries. I have lots of batteries. Lots of AA batteries, which is what I need. I grab 2 and note that they are dated 2009. uh-oh. It's NOW 2009, these batteries are prob 5 years old, at least.

Oh well I pop them in. Nothing. The thermostat is blank now. Within about a minute the heat pump cuts out and the fan goes off. oh crap. It's 19 degrees outside and already chilly in here. yikes.

I try 2 new batteries. The thermostat comes to life! But the heat pump is still off. Oh no.

Dope slap! I turned it off when I replaced the batteries! It turned it back on it sprang to life!


Now I'm going to bed in my hopefully toasty warm house!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blackwater Falls and Home

This morning dawned sunny and cold - it was 9 degrees when I got in my car at about 9:30 am!
The 1st picture below is the view from my room this morning - very different from yesterday view! The picture below it is the view from behind the lodge looking out over the valley - same place I took a picture each day - again a very different view today!

After I checked out I thought I'd go back to Blackwater Falls - there were some trails I wanted to hike. The road was snow covered but it was packed down and the sun was melting it in places so I decided to go for it. I found a short hike - 3 miles round trip - to a view of The Canyon of the Blackwater River. It was 10 degrees when I set out. Again I'd put on all my clothes! So I was warm - all but my face! I saw 2 people out walking in the nature center parking lot where I picked up the trail, but other than that I didn't see anyone. I was the 1st human to walk the trail since it had snowed!

This is the very beginning of the trail.

At one point the trail went right through a tunnel of rhododendron - would be awesome when it's in bloom! In the middle of the rhododendron I startled a bird who in turn almost made me wet my pants when it took off and flew away!

The first view of the canyon through the trees.

The canyon from the view point. I actually like the other picture better with the trees in front, makes it interesting. You could hear the river and fall rushing at the bottom of the canyon, but I couldn't see any water.

Another shot from the view point - I like it because of the rock and rhododendron in the corner - adds a little interest.
The trail was mostly flat and I was walking at a pretty good pace and despite the frigid temps I began to sweat! I ended up having to slow my pace down - I'd shed layers and unzipped everything I could but was still hot! I figured that the temp had gone up. When I got back to the car I decided that I was really hot and I didn't want to deal with taking off layers in a restroom stall again (I had to do that 2x yesterday!) since it's such a pain to keep track of layers, keep stuff from falling in the toilet etc... So I decide that since there's no one around I can just change right by my car. It took some planning ahead to get the pants off - take off boots but keep them handy, take all layers of pants off, put jeans on but don't pull them up, put shoes back on, but don't tie, stand up pull up pants, then tie shoes. At the last minute I decided it was way too cold to take off all layers and left my bottom layer of long johns on under my pants. The top was easier - I only had 2 layers on top to remove as a unit (the other layers were fleece jacket/vest) so I quickly pulled them off and dove into my sweatshirt/T-neck - for about 10 secs I was standing in the parking lot in only my bra and jeans. The whole operation wasn't as bone chilling as I expected so I was truly convinced that the temps had risen, I was very surprised when I started the car and saw that it was only 14 degrees! 14 degrees and I changed my clothes nearly entirely out in the open!
After I was dressed I headed over to the lodge to use the restroom - changing behind the car is one thing, peeing behind a tree when it's 14 degrees is something else entirely! HA! I also wanted to check out the lodge because I was thinking I might want to stay there next time.
The Blackwater Falls Lodge is interesting - lots of things that are better than Canaan Valley, but it's also an older building (I think) and seems lower on the state park food chain (not that Canaan Valley is very high!). Blackwater Falls is smaller, but it's all one building so once you are in you don't have to go outside again. They have a large common area with a view that looks like a living room with couches and tables and chairs, a large plasma screen TV in one corner, a fireplace in the other. On some of the tables there were jigsaw puzzles and there was a shelf with other puzzles on it. They also have an indoor pool and hot tub with a view!
On the main door there is this sign:
(That's my reflection in the window - not sure what the red and white thing is)
So you can't have a picnic lunch, what about dinner? Or breakfast? What if you bring breakfast food but eat it at noon, is it still a lunch picnic? Isn't WV in the "south"? I mean it's south of the Mason-Dixon line, it was a slave state, and judging from the flags being flown the confederacy is alive and well. Correct me if I'm wrong but "lunch" isn't a meal in the south is it? You have breakfast in the morning, dinner mid-day, followed by supper in the evening. So I wonder exactly what is being prohibited?
What made the sign even funnier is that I saw some folks picnicking in the lodge. Well actually it was on the lanai, ok maybe we aren't that far south, the sun room then. There were a few people sitting at the table with a soft-sided cooler on it surrounded by food on paper plates, looked like a picnic to me!

Picnic rules aside, I think I will stay at Blackwater next time I come out here.
By now it was lunch time so, since I failed to bring a picnic, I headed back down the road to a pizza joint I'd found - Big John's Family Fixin's - it's right by the Canaan Valley Resort and I'm not sure why I hadn't gone over there before was damn good and it had a fun atmosphere, reminded me of Fuddruckers, but they serve mostly pizza - I highly recommend it if you are in the area!
After lunch it was time to head home. As I was heading south on 32 I decided that I'd round out my West Virginia experience by stopping at the DQ in Petersburg. I decided that a blizzard was definitely in order and began thinking about what flavor I might want - Butterfinger? Oreo? cherry? They'd had a banana pudding one once - bananas and Nilla wafers. Or maybe cookie dough?
I continued pondering the blizzard choices as I made my south east. The snow had mostly melted, but there were places where the sun doesn't shine that were still covered in snow or slush. It seems that WVDOT doesn't actually remove snow from the roads - they just sprinkle rocks on it to improve traction. One of the places still covered with snow & slush was the backside (eastern facing side) of Allegheny Mt, the top of which is the Eastern Continental Divide. The road down the backside of this mountain is steep - 10% grade - with a number of hairpin turns! There are dire warnings to truckers about testing their brakes. I would not have liked to be on that part of the road yesterday. Makes me wonder just how bad the road that goes through Dolly Sods must get if this is the "preferred" and "safer" route!
I stand corrected about the name of the tourist trap in central WV - I'd called it "Smoke Hole Cabins", it's really "Smoke Hole Caverns" - I stopped to check out the gift shop and use the facilities - I did not go for a tour.
Smoke Hole Caverns is about 15 miles from Petersburg so when I got back in the car I began thinking in earnest about what flavor blizzard I would get. When I arrived in Petersburg and saw the giant, and I mean ginormous, DQ sign - the sign is probably larger than the DQ - I was ready. I pulled in and immediately noticed that there were no cars in the parking lot. Then I noted that the chairs were stacked on the tables. Then I noticed that the drive thru menu had plywood covering it. OH. NO. The DQ was closed. I was denied. I guess it is January after all, I forget that in some places DQ is "seasonal". :( Not that it's a huge big deal, there's a DQ within walking distance from my house and about 4 others close by as well, they just aren't WV DQs.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. It's a nice drive and a quick drive, even with all my stopping I was able to get home in under 4 hours. I didn't have to sit at one traffic light until I got back to Prince William County. I didn't have to sit in bumper to bumper traffic until I got to Prince William County. I didn't see any Wal-Marts or Starbucks until I got to Front Royal. Which lead me to a new "You Might be a Redneck if...":
You might be a redneck if the nearest Wal-mart requires an overnight stay. In your pop-up trailer. In the Wal-mart parking lot.
Overall it was a great little trip! I can't wait to go back and check out things I missed - always good to leave wanting more! :)
Thanks for reading along and enjoying it with me!