Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today is my mom's birthday! Typically for them, she and my dad took us out for dinner, and my mom baked her own, absolutely delicious, carrot cake (I offered, but she declined. My cooking fame is occasionally a hindrance to my good intentions.). We did sing, anyway! (And she took that with her usual good humor!)


In other news... it's still cold here. Quite lovely, pretty often, but cold. But when I do get out I've been listening to Post Captain, by Patrick O'Brian, which is fabulous. My reading list for the year will need to be somewhat altered, as I intend to listen to all twenty of the Aubrey-Maturin books (I trudge around and around my walking trail smiling and sometimes laughing out loud, they are so funny! My local reputation for eccentricity must now be thoroughly cemented.).

And, since this has been a nearly blogless month (what with my frozen fingers and all), here are a few pictures to give an idea of how things have been...

Katie made these little critters. The purple bear was a birthday gift for my mom!

And this is a pasta dish Travis made recently. Very delicious (those red things are sun dried tomatoes).

Here he is, doing Science. He is smiling, but he actually has developed quite a loathing for pipetting.

And here Emma is assisting him with Algebra II. She is not so good with the mathy bits, but is excellent on Moral Support. Which counts for a lot.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

January. Brrrr!

2015 is fine so far, actually, very nice, except that it is horribly, unspeakably Cold. Too cold to do anything but huddle inside. Good reading weather, though, and also good piano practicing weather!

 (He actually didn't forget a line.)

 I've been reading Life of Pi so that I can join in a book discussion group at the public library tonight, but now I don't think I can brave the cold. We'll see. Also I need to finish the book, which so far hasn't grabbed me. The writing is fine, and I don't dislike the protagonist. I think the problem is that I'm just not a big "survival story" fan.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year in Books

I checked back a couple years to see how I've done this in the past. In 2012 I thought this title (only, with "2012" instead of "2014", obviously!) was pretentious. But I used it anyway, which tells you something (either that I'm actually okay with pretentious, or that I was pressed for time and lacking imagination that year too).

Anyway, 2014 has been a pretty fantastic year for me, reading-wise! Aside from a few notable duds (and I will note them), most of what I read this year was really good, and some of it was really great!


On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, by C.S. Lewis
The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter
The Warden, by Anthony Trollope
The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy Sayers
Aeschylus I: Oresteia , translated by Richmond Lattimore

Confronting the Classics, by Mary Beard
The Oresteia, translated by Robert Fagles
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, by Corey Olsen
The Three Theban Plays, translated by Robert Fagles
Cordelia Underwood, by Van Reid
Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope

The Frogs, by Aristophanes (translator blessedly forgotten, and nearly forgiven)
Selected Literary Essays, by C.S. Lewis
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters, by Lesley Blume
The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Crown Tower, by Michael Sullivan
The Rose and the Thorn, by Michael Sullivan
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett
J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth, by Bradley Birzer
A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Aeneid, by Virgil, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
Virgil: The Aeneid, by K.W. Gransden

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare
Lord and Lady Bunny -- Almost Royalty! by Polly Horvath
The Death of the Necromancer, by Martha Wells
Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland
When Asia Was the World, by Stewart Gordon
The Fall of the Roman Empire, by Peter Heather

Silas Marner, by George Eliot
Magician's Ward, by Patricia Wrede
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Religion in the Roman Republic, by James B. Rives
A Damsel in Distress, by P.G. Wodehouse
The World of Late Antiquity: 150-750, by Peter Brown
Aristotle for Everybody, by Mortimer Adler
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle and Robert Bartlett

The Republic of Plato, by Plato and Allan Bloom
The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen, by Geraldine McCaughrean
Blood Song, by Anthony Ryan
Beowulf, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The Aunt Paradox, by Chris Dolley
The Essential Plotinus, by Plotinus, Elmer O'Brien, translator
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages, by Marcus Bull
The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturlson, trans. by Jesse Byock

Theft of Swords, by Michael Sullivan
Rise of Empire, by Michael Sullivan
Heir of Novron, by Michael Sullivan
Agricola and Germany, by Tacitus, trans. Anthony Birley
The Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius, trans. Scott Goins
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
What Were the Crusades? by Jonathan Riley-Smith
The Saga of the Volsungs, trans. by Jesse Byock
Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch
The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch
Georgics, by Virgil, trans. Peter Fallon
Viking: The Norse Warrior's Manual, by John Haywood
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling *
Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues, by N.T. Wright

The Hammer and the Blade, by Paul Kemp
A Discourse in Steel, by Paul Kemp
The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams
Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, by Peter Brown
A Distant Mirror, by Barbara Tuchman
The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams
Godric, by Frederick Buechner

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher
Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher
Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote
Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, by Sam Leith
Beowulf: The Oldest English Epic, trans. Charles Kennedy
Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
Death Masks, by Jim Butcher
Why Homer Matters, by Adam Nicolson
Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher
What Makes This Book So Great, by Jo Walton

The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo, trans. Maria Boulding
The Song of Roland, trans. Robert Harrison
The Medieval Hero on Screen, by Martha Driver
Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero, by James Romm
Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher
Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher
On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, by Joseph Strayer
The Medieval World View: An Introduction, by William Cook and Ronald Herzman
White Night, by Jim Butcher

A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III, by Janice Hadlow
Richard II, by William Shakespeare
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
Beowulf and Other Old English Poems, by Craig Williamson
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation , by Simon Armitage
Give War and Peace a Chance, by Andrew Kaufman
The Palace Job, by Patrick Weekes
Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity, by Prue Shaw

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Henry IV, Part 1, by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, Part 2, by William Shakespeare
Reading Dante, by Giuseppe Mazzotta
The Divine Comedy, by Dante, trans. by Clive James
King Henry V, by William Shakespeare

There. I count 107.

The "Of Value Only for Birdcage Liner" Award goes to Mindy Kaling, for Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? The Aunt Paradox and The Medieval Hero on Screen were both also pretty bad. Oh, and The Frogs. That was pretty incomprehensible.

Top awards for "Classics that Deserve Their Status" go to the Greek plays translated by Robert Fagles; The Five Books of Moses (with Robert Alter's commentary); The Aeneid (so good!); Plato's Republic; Augustine's Confessions; Beowulf, especially Tolkien's; everything by Shakespeare but especially Richard II; and War and Peace.

I read a lot of good history, but Peter Brown's Augustine of Hippo was particularly brilliant.

Tolkien and Trollope get trophies for always being wonderful, and Scott Lynch, who wrote The Gentlemen Bastards series (starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora) wins the award for Favorite New Fantasy Author (though I do Not recommend him if you'll be bothered by extravagantly creative profanity).

And I am feeling very enthusiastic about next year's reading! I've made myself a "challenge" list over at Goodreads (here) with 129 books. A mix, like this year, of the "fluffy" and the "somewhat less fluffy." I haven't actually read that many yet in a year, but I figure that since I have them all "lined up and ready to go" I can read more (since I'll be saving hours of "whatever shall I read?" dithering!). Anyway, I'm now off to read in the new year and wish you a very happy 2015!

So Long and Thanks for All the..... Chocolate Martinis!

(Sorry. We just started the Douglas Adams book, as a read aloud, and I couldn't resist!)

Jeremy and company headed back to Florida this morning. We had a great time, and we are looking forward to seeing them again soon to help them celebrate their wedding! And Jeremy did indeed make us generous quantities of dangerously delicious Chocolate Martinis. We polished off the half and half, but he very kindly left the booze, so I'm looking forward to experimenting with nondairy variations on the theme!

Here Jeremy and Kim are reading The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog (his kids are just enough older than ours that he'd missed that one). Kim is a reader (of more than just picture books!), and on her recommendation I've added Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles series to the coming year's reading list. It looks good!

The weather for the last couple days of their visit was pretty dismal, but the kids got in many, many games of Lord of the Rings Monopoly.

The grown-ups were less ambitious. We mostly just talked, drank, and ate cookies. Actually, we did apply ourselves to those things with great dedication, so really we were just "differently ambitious."

And Travis has found that his fabulous new computer works fine for Minecraft! (But he is animating now, which is more what we had in mind!)

Aren't they a nice looking bunch?

It was a very nice way to close out the year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Walking with Family!

Yesterday we went to Reynolda Gardens, in Winston-Salem. The greenhouses were closed for the holiday, but we wandered around various trails, and also around Wake Forest University, which connects to the gardens. It was a very nice day for a walk.

(The heron was in Katie's lake. The lake is now actually more of a bog than a lake, So, Katie's bog. Just doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

 And today we went for a cookout and then a hike at Stone Mountain. Again, a lovely day for it!

Here Daddy is testing one of the chocolate chip cookies Katie made. They passed inspection.

  (Ed checked them too!)

We built a nice fire!

Boys, posing.

Starting up the trail together.

But before long we split up. Mom and Dad went straight for the summit, but the rest of us decided to look at the falls first.

Jeremy and his lovely fiance, Kim, seem to be quite fond of each other.

(they do a lot of this)

Tired boys. They will run up stairs which sensible people would take at a walk.

Mom and Dad waited at the summit for a while (I caught up with them there, but only because I abandoned the rest of my group).

Katie thinks they've put in these lovely benches for her comfort!