Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks Colette for the fun reading post

My friend Colette (who I will finally get to meet for the first time in NY next week!) posted this on her blog. I quite liked it, so here it is.

The Big Read* reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Well let's see.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've only read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - I loved the first one, but thought the other two were not as great.
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. The Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. There is no 36 anymore. I'm going to add Anne Frank, everyone needs to read The Diary of Anne Frank.
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - I loved this book so much, but liked A Thousand Splendid Suns more, that might be one of the best books I've ever read. Ever.
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - A.S. Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Chandler is feeling better!

Slowly but surly he is making a recovery. Thank god!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Reading - part 1

I have finished a few more books since my last reading post.

Here is a review-

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray - My SIL loved this book along with the others in the series. The premise sounded fun, magic, a girls' school, and a mystery. I tried this book and just couldn't get into it. I finished about half of it, but didn't continue. Sorry Chelsea, I guess it wasn't for me. One star.

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons, by Ann Ranaldi - this was another book that Chelsea recommended, and I loved it! I got swept right into the story, and loved how Phillis described the crossing and her being sold. Her mother's death was heart breaking, and I loved learning about Phillis Wheatley, the slave trade, and the mid 1700s. Four stars.

Kit books, by Valerie Tripp - with the new Kit items coming out, and Ruthie being released from American Girl, I wanted to re-read all of the Kit books. Reading American Girl books is great fun, really relaxing, and a very easy read. I re-read all of her books, her short stories, her adventure book, and peek into the past. Yep, I read everything. Five stars.

Really Truly Ruthie, by Valerie Tripp - once the Ruthie doll came out I purchased her and read her book in a snap. Ruthie is a sweet character, and although there wasn't a lot of meat to her story, I did enjoy reading it. Four stars.

My Antonia, by Willa Cather - I was assigned to read this book as a sophomore in high school, and I remember enjoying it. I re-read it in a few days, and really enjoyed the book the second time around. The book is slow but beautiful, and follows the life of a couple central characters as they grow up in Nebraska. The images of Nebraska in the summer were beautiful and moving. Four stars.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Farmhouse weekend to chill out

Anybody reading my blog can understand why E and I were excited to spend the weekend at the farmhouse to chill out. We left on Friday night with David in tow. Before we left Salt Lake City we picked up dinner at our favorite fish taco restaurant, and enjoyed eating outside in the warm Utah weather.

Once down at the farmhouse, we promptly brought the swing out to the front porch, and didn't move until Sunday night. The days consisted of sleeping in, going and getting breakfast at the old '50s diner on Main Street, and sitting on the porch swing for hours and hours. We read out there, relaxed, talked, napped, sipped iced tea, and looked at the awesome view to the west. At one point the sweet little neighbor dog, Zoey, joined me on the swing.
The roses were also in full bloom. E's great grandparents planted these roses over a hundred years ago, and each year in early June the bloom (this year was mid June due to the cold spring). I love the yellow pioneer roses that are crowding the south side of the lawn.
On Sunday morning the stress level got very high (E and I were really worried about Chandler and my job) and E got into a fight with his sister. It ended up turning into a huge screaming match, with is very unlike E. So by mid afternoon Connie and Chelsea left, and E felt even worse. Luckily we still had the evening to chill out, so we cooked some dutch oven potatoes, had a salad and ate dinner outside, with Zoey looking on hopefully.

All too soon dinner was cleaned up and we had to return home, for another week of high stress and worries.

However, I did get a chance to get in a lot of doll time. I brought my three dolls from the 1930s and finished an entire mystery album (the third in the series). That kept my mind off stresses from home, and I enjoyed dressing and playing with my dolls. For anyone that is interested in what I spent all weekend working on, the album can be viewed here.

Now, for an update on all things stress-worthy-
1. Chandler is still the same, no improvement. He went to another doctor (his regular doctor) last night, so we are hoping for a quick turn-around.
2. My job is still frustrating me, but I'm trying to not worry about it too much.
3. E is still upset about the fight he had with his mom and sister, but we are hoping it will blow over soon.
4. E got selected to go to Japan in late July for his job, which is super exciting, but also a little stressful. We were hoping to sell the condo in late July.
5. E is not bringing me or Violet with him on his trip. ;)
6. E's car is in the shop again, twice in a week, which means we are down to one car. I let E take my car yesterday, and I rode my bike to work. Hopefully his car will be fixed today.
7. We leave for New York in two weeks to visit my Grandma for her 90th birthday. We still don't know if my Dad and Chandler will be able to attend, like they had originally planed. We are hoping so.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chandler update, a little more info

Things are not going well. Chandler is not improving as much as we all hoped. A little overview, Chandler is on some medicine for ADHD and depression, and has been on some of these pills for most of his life. Anyone that knows Chandler knows that he was a funny kid. For a long time he didn't talk, and we thought he was deaf. Then when he got a little older he cried and cried. This kid could cry like a pro. He could tantrum and carry-on for hours. Well now he is going through puberty and his hormones are all messed up, and the meds that he is on have not been sitting well.

The doctors and Primary Children's think it what Chandler is experiencing is some sort of drug induced psychosis. They hope to have whatever is in his system will be out by week end, but over the last few days things have not been better.

Chan is hallucinating, thinking people are trying to trick him or sneak up on him. Every time we tell him there is nothing going on, he gets angry and tells us to stop lying. He paces, goes from really angry to really loving withing 10 seconds, and doesn't understand what is going on. He finally admitted to my dad that he is scared.

So today he is going to another doctor. We want to figure this out ASAP. The doctors and Primary said he would be back to normal soon, but "soon" isn't soon enough.

I hope things get better, and quickly.

This photo of me, Brandon and Chandler was taken Sunday night at the Father's Day BBQ. On early Monday morning Chandler started to hallucinate, so only hours after this was taken. Scary, huh?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My little bro

My littlest bro has not been feeling well these last few days, and it has been a major family stress. I don't want to go into the details here, but we hope Chandler will be back to normal by week end. Good luck with feeling better Chan.

Here are my three siblings, Melissa, Chander and Brandon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gobbler's Knob

In the middle of all the heart-ache I've been having at work E and I still have kept up or awesome hiking weekend tradition. On Saturday I wanted to stay home because I was expecting something in the mail, and E was bummed we didn't go on a hike, so on Sunday between a Father's Day brunch with E's family and a Father's Day dinner with my family, we hiked to the top of the world.

So, here is the hiking log:
Gobbler's Knob via Butler Fork
Trail Length- 7.51 to peak and back
Elevation gain- 2660 feet
Stars- Five stars, this area is beautiful and there were lots of aspen forests which are my favorite. Peak hikes are always fun too.

After a great brunch at Market Street, E, David and I headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Butler Fork is on the North side of the canyon, which is a side that I haven't explored much. The trail climbed like a mad-man right off the bat, it was so darn steep! Quickly we started switchbacks through beautiful aspen forests where the trees were just beginning to bud. Up and up we went until we hit snow on the trail. We continued on, and reached a small ridge. Over the ridge the trail flattened out a little while we walked along a bowl. Pretty soon we could see a saddle connecting Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek. Here we lost the trial due to snow and ended up climbing straight up towards the saddle. Each of us collapsed from exhaustion and decided to have a snack. Off to the right was Gobbler's Knob, a peak in the front range that reached 10,220 feet. As we sat there snacking on granola bars, almonds and beef jerkey we decided to continue to the peak, how long could it take? Almost two hours later we were finally on our destination - Gobbler's Knob. The hike from the saddle to the peak was the hardest of all because the trail was completely covered in snow, so we scrambled up over the rocks where the snow was melted. True exhaustion hit is once we reached the top.

Instead of taking the steep rocky way back, we decided to walk on top of the snow. It was melting and slippery which was great fun. We were laughing and sliding, and got off the peak in a fraction of the time it took to get on top of it. By the time we got back to the saddle we had two hours to make it down the trail, drop off David at home, go home and clean up, and go to Brandon's for the Father's Day party. Needless to say, we booked it down the mountain, and we were only 30 minutes late to Brandon's! We rock!

Here are some photos-
Near the bottom of the trail there was a spring happily bubbling out of the ground. The water was beautiful and crystal clear.
We climbed and climbed and the views got better and better. This photo I'm looking up Big Cottonwood Canyon, you can see the trail and the road why below.
The higher we got the more snow we saw.
Until we were finally at the top, what a view!
Here E and I are on the top of the knob - Gobbler's Knob.
The snow was deep on the hike down! E is not kneeling in this photo, but his foot fell through the snow and he was thigh deep! He said it was a very air conditioned trail indeed.
E heads down through an aspen forest in the late afternoon light.
Here is the GPS at the end of the day. The first number is how far we hiked (7.51 miles), which is a lot!

Work update

First off, I'm sorry the blog posts have not been as regular as I like, I've been really frustrated at work, and I never feel like blogging when I don't feel well.

Here is an overview of what has been going on-
  • My income here is 75% commission, 25% salary. Well they have re-worked the commission structure completely, and it works out to be almost a 60% pay cut.
  • My boss has been on edge about or two large accounts and has been giving me trouble about how I service one of those accounts. He is treating me like a misbehaving child, which hurts.
  • My current large account is not profitable (or what my bosses deems as profitable) so I will not earn commision on it, even though there is a lot of heart-ache with it.
  • For the first time ever I've thought my boss has treated me unfairly.
  • My company needs more clients and today I found out one we had been hoping to get decided against us.
Needless to say, E has been wonderful and is standing by me through this tough time.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Neff's Canyon

This is the first of many hiking trail logs I want to add to my blog. As many of you know, E and I quite like to hike, but it seems I forget where we go, and how far the hike was, so this will be the first of hopefully a very healthy trend.

Neff's Canyon
Trail Length- 5.08 to meadow and back
Elevation gain- 2450 feet
Stars- Five, totally beautiful hike, and totally hard. I'm glad I can still walk today.

E and I were excited to go on a hike on Sunday after spending Saturday working on the house. We chose one of my favorite hikes, but we had never made it to the top. How can it be a favorite if we've never made it to the top? Well Neff's Canyon is at the base of Mt. Olympus, and just the trail head takes your breath away. A short distance up the dirt road the trail winds though a fairy land of tall trees, rushing rivers, and dark shadows. Soon the trail steeply climbs as we pass over the river again and again. At one point the trail is actually the river, good thing I have my new Goretex shoes, they kept my feet nice and dry. At one point we even had to cross the river where it was raging over a not-so-friendly bridge. This thing looked like it was going to give way any moment and let us wash down the river with it. Luckily we made it across unharmed. The trail continues to climb, and climb and climb, and soon the view of the valley below is breathtaking. E and I continued the last half mile to the meadow at the top. Our legs and lungs burred, but it was so worth it. Plus, the weather on Sunday was FANTASTIC, nice and cool and clear, perfect for hiking.

And now some photos:

This is the trail head of Neff's Canyon, stunning, I know.
Up a little ways you come to the shaded area with oaks. Here the river splits apart multiple times and joins another small stream, so the entire shaded area is made up of little islands with rivers all around. This might be one of my favorite spots in all of Salt Lake.
After you climb and climb and climb you come upon this, a great view!
On the way down I was quite careful to cross "death bridge" (as I called it).
The rain has really made everything so green. We were lucky to have clear blue skies.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Dark green moutains and rushing rivers

I'm sorry that my last two posts have been so negative. As all of you know, this is very unusual for me, I am usually a positive person.

This first week of June has been cold in Utah! Yesterday the high was only in the mid 50s. However, the cooler temps and the rainy days have made the whole world dark beautiful green. The snow capped peaks join green mountain sides. E and I have been trying to hike a few times this year, but it has been difficult due to the huge amount of snow and the abundance of deep rivers.
This weekend we plan on continuing to work on the house, relaxing with family (it is Chuck's and Taylor's birthdays), and possibly taking another hike. Next weekend we are going to head to the farmhouse with my new doll Ruthie!

And guess what else? I am happy toady because I'm wearing new shoes. Beautiful heels from Ann Taylor that I got on clearance. Go me!
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