Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Years, that is. In honor of our wedding anniversary, I have a few words to say about my husband.

What is your husband’s name? Chris

How long have you been together? First date December 3, 1986 (both 17 years old). Engaged December 3, 1991. Married April 22, 1992.How long did you date? Not quite for the entire 5 years—for 3 years we weren’t even on the same continent (he went to Brazil, I went to Haiti, he went to Israel . . .)

Who eats more? Definitely me.

Who said “I love you” first? Chris. At the age of 18. (But I definitely thought it first!)

Who is taller? Chris, by more than 5 inches.

Who is smarter? Chris. I don’t even begin to understand his work.

Who is more sensitive? I suppose that would have to be me—if you consider crying over commercials, watching Jane Austen films, and occasionally talking about my feelings to be sensitive.

Who does the laundry? The kids. (Yeah, right, in my dreams.)

Who does the dishes? The automatic dishwasher.

Who sleeps on the right? It’s not a matter of right or left, it’s a matter of nearer the door and farther away. I have to be farther away from the door. (You know, so I have time to jump out the second-floor window while a crazed ax murderer kills Chris first. I'm old-fashioned that way.)

Who pays the bills? Chris makes the money, I write the checks.

Who mows the lawn? Our lawn service. Seriously. Don’t laugh.

Who cooks dinner? Since Jake got sick, our family and friends. And the take-out places. Even before, you couldn’t call what I did cooking.

Who drives when you are together? He likes it when I drive, so he can work. Unless we're going a long way (think Klamath Falls) and then he likes to drive so I can read aloud.

Who is more stubborn? With each other? Neither. With others? I’ll almost always give in to have peace.

Who kissed whom first? He kissed me, but only after I made a perfect fool of myself hinting around. (We were only in high school, remember?)

Who asked who out first? He asked me, but only because he felt sorry for me. (Long story about Academic Decathlon and my GPA. If you haven’t heard it, count yourself lucky.) We went to a BYU-Utah State basketall game. It was the first time in 10 years BYU beat Utah State. Talk about omens.

Who proposed? He did. In a parking lot. Another long story.

Who has more siblings? Chris wins by a landslide, with four brothers and two sisters. All older. I have one younger brother.

"If I could choose from every man who lives on this earth . . ."

Happy Anniversary.

Love you.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Only a little late this month :)

2nd in the Matthew Shardlake series set in Tudor England. Lawyer Shardlake is drawn back into the world of conspiracy when his old employer, Cromwell, needs help finding some missing Greek fire (also known as Dark fire). Able to burn ships on the water, it would be a formidable weapon for whomever ends up with it. Shardlake agrees to help, but in the midst of tracking down a killer trying to sell Greek fire to the highest bidder, he also has to find evidence to clear a young woman of murder. Good period atmosphere and an introduction of a new sidekick for Shardlake, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts. I don't know why.

I read Penny's debut novel in January, introducing Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete. The next two in the series see Gamache returning to the small town of Three Pines--the first time to connect the murder of a highly unpleasant woman and the overlooked death of a homeless woman shortly before; the second time to deal with a death during a seance. This is my favorite new author/series since discovering Reginald Hill and the Dalziel/Pascoe books. My only complaint is that I came into this series too early--there aren't any more books yet! The greatest strength is Gamache himself, a man of principle and great kindness who is paying for a choice he made against the wishes of his colleagues. That choice and its consequences run through all three books like a thread, culminating in a wonderful sub-plot in THE CRUELEST MONTH. If you like Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford or P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh, treat yourself to Armand Gamache.

TUNNELS/Michelle Gagnon/B
I'm not much for serial killer novels, but I heard Michelle at LCC and picked up her first novel recently. In the old tunnels beneath a New England college, there's more going on than lovers' trysts. When the daughter of a mafia boss is murdered, FBI agent Kelly Jones returns to her alma mater to track down the killer. A great thriller that I raced through in two days--I would have graded it higher if there had been more about Kelly herself. Especially given that she was back on her own college campus, I wanted some connection there. But a good snowy day read.

ISABELLA MOON/Laura Benedict/A-
Okay, you all know I was anxious to read this even before I met Laura at LCC. I delayed beginning it until I knew I had a couple days in a row to devote to reading. And I needed them. Isabella Moon disappeared from her small Kentucky town two years ago. Now Kate Russell claims that she knows where Isabella's body is buried--because Isabella's ghost has shown her. The sheriff doesn't know what to make of Kate, and he's worried about the sudden death of a high school athlete and the murder of one of Kate's friends. And Kate has her own secrets--ones that won't stay hidden much longer. Benedict does a masterful job of plotting, no mean feat in a novel this complex. I loved the multiple POVs, the flashbacks into Kate's past, and the sheriff. My favorite parts of the novel were the appearances of Isabella and others to Kate. It's the one element that I wish had been, I don't know, explored more. In any case, Benedict weaves all the storylines into a strong conclusion and her pacing was dead on. And I absolutely loved the ending. For me, the last couple chapters put this book from a good one to a great one.

Travelling through small-town America.
Writing about it.
Bill Bryson.
Enough said :)

JANE-EMILY/Patricia Clapp/B
A reprint of a 1960s mid-grade ghost story. Set in early 20th-century New England, orphaned Emily spends the summer with her young aunt and her grandmother in a rambling house where her Aunt Jane died years before as a child. Soon Emily is being haunted by the ruthless Jane, and those who love her have to save her. I put it aside for my 9-year-old daughter to read--it's just the right level of scariness for her. Not quite enough for me.

Nearly-30-year-old Julie Powell decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". In one year. Her blog about the experience turned into newpaper, magazine, and television interviews, and then a book deal. I put the minus sign because of her too-often-for-me swearing, but this is a funny book about something that I will personally never do but loved reading about. Cooking eggs in gelatin? Using an axe to split open a cow's thigh bone and get out the marrow? Deboning a duck without losing the essential shape? The chapters on Julie's exploits are interspersed with peeks at Julia Child's life before she decided to take up cooking in France. Made me want to buy "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" even if I never cook anything from it.

A book club selection; I liked it better than I expected to. And more than THE GOOD EARTH which was our last book set in China. In 19th-century China, Lily is bound to Snow Flower as lifelong friends at the age of 6. This relationship--more important in its rituals and meanings than anything except marriage--changes the course of both their lives. Using nu shu (a form of writing developed by women for private communication), Lily and Snow Flower stay connected even as their lives diverge. The descriptions of foot binding are both graphic and sad, and I'm awfully glad I never had to serve in my in-laws' home as a servant to prove my worth. The book didn't go as deeply as I would have liked into Lily's emotions, particularly when a misunderstanding leads to a rupture between her and Snow Flower. But still a book I would recommend.