The first book of  2013 was Around the Corner by Elizabeth Wrenn.  I related to Deena, especially in her struggles about putting herself first or learning to be herself after years of being “just” a wife and mother. I’ll definitely seek out more books by Wrenn.
My favorite quotes:
“From laughter to tears, 1.2 seconds. Middle-aged women were the Maseratis of emotion.”
“…working seventy-hour weeks, even for a good cause, was a kind of infidelity.”

Susan Palwick’s The Necessary Begger is a story of crossing dimensions, and it has just enough of an alien viewpoint to make us look differently at many things we take for granted about how things are. I enjoyed it tremendously!


Even if it is historically accurate, the portrayal of women in Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin is just too depressing.


The premise (gate to an alternate world where Europeans did not make it to America) of S. M. Stirling’s Conquistador is good but the execution is long and padded.


I didn’t know anything about Angry Conversations With God by Susan Isaacs before reading it, but I had to give it a try given that ballsy title. I’m glad I did.
Favorite quotes:
“Be careful to whom you bare your grief, especially if it’s someone churchy…”
“These were nothing but middle-class white girl’s tragedies. But I was a middle-class white girl, with a middle-class white girl’s faith. In fact, my middle-class white girl’s tragedies ceased to be the tragedy at all: the tragedy was God’s response – total silence. I couldn’t hear God or see God or sense God anywhere or in anything. Some people call this the Dark Night of the Soul. It was dark, all right. And silent. And I was alone.”
“What did I want to hear? That it was all my fault? Actually, that would have been easier. Because then I would’ve been in control of the solution.”
“Father Michael:  The human soul is meant to expand. Things that once captured your heart may no longer be able to contain it.”
about church: “I gritted my teeth and went.”
And this particularly striking exchange:
God: I resent you for blaming me for everything. And I do not exist to give you what you want.
Susan: Do I exist to give you what you want?
God: Well, actually –


Midwives by Chris Bohjalian was a page-turner; it was very difficult to put down. The writing and the story are very compelling. It felt almost like a true account, and I was impressed that a male writer was able to tell this female-viewpoint story so well. 


My impression of Just How Married Do You Want To Be? may change if I re-read it, or as a result of discussing it, but on the whole I was disappointed. From what the Sumners write, it is impossible to have a real marriage if you are not a Christian; this seems an untenable position.  I disagreed with the authors regarding a few other areas as well. There were a few bits of encouragement and interest, but there were many concepts that were not brought into practicality.


I wanted to like Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy, but that’s a tall order. The author comes across as annoying, preachy, and selfish. Certainly, there are revealing details of life in apartheid South Africa, and we should know these truths. Yet, his self-involvement becomes quite grating at times; his siblings, for instance, are portrayed as purely one-dimensional characters.
Mathabane describes his early years in minute detail, and also recounts conversations as if they were recorded, and these affectations cause me to wonder how much is true and how much is an effort to present himself in a certain light.
I do respect Mathabane for his perseverance and determination to improve his future. However, I greatly wish that he had been paired with a better editor when the book was being prepared.


Although goodreads shows it as third in a series, the copy of The Road to Grace (Richard Paul Evans) that I had made no mention of it, and I often felt like I’d walked into a movie which was already well underway. Now I understand that it isn’t meant to stand alone, and it certainly cannot. It is not a long book; I don’t understand why the story wasn’t released whole. The message of forgiveness is good, but the presentation could have been improved by not chopping up the book.



Season three of Burn Notice ended with more of a cliff-hanger than usual!  Now I am motivated to get season four. (And motivated to plan a vacation so that we will watch it! winky)


It seems like there are a LOT of shows ending now: Flashpoint, Private Practice, Fringe, Last Resort



Lions For Lambs is a 2007 film about being American, and being engaged. There is a LOT of dialogue in this movie – not much action considering that the point is a call to action.


To me, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s hyper-realism looked cheesy and cheap (yes, I saw it in an AVX theatre). In that respect, the LOTR movies had a better look to them. I didn’t appreciate the dwarves-washing-dishes scene – if they’re cutting scenes, why not that one? In a lot of places, the acting seemed really forced or amateur, and was painful to watch. It often seemed more like a junior high drama production than a $500million professional endeavour.


Zero Dark Thirty relates each step of the search for and attack on Osama bin Laden. The movie is about the manhunt, not about the characters, yet the cast is strong and I thought it was well directed. Of course, I like the portrayal of a strong woman (Maya). I think it managed to not be very political, but instead prompts us to ask ourselves things like: Is it riskier to act or not to act? What will revenge cost?



Jamie  Howison on friendship. I am saddened by the lack of such friendship in my life.
But what do you think – in friendship, should we never express the equivalent of “you made your bed; now lie in it?”


Sharon Holland on connecting. Highlights:
I have been surprised how many people assume that their friendships only exist by fragile accident. But they don’t. If I am in your life, it’s because I want to be. If I have a kind word or a friendly welcome for you, it is meant. I’m not flawless, but when I hurt people it’s by accident. If I know your name and I smile when I see you, it’s because I’m actually glad you’re here. Sincere friendships already test my introverted energy; artificial friendships feel like death to me. They are not in my tool set.
My friends are not friends by chance. I can chalk up that first meeting to Providence, but I kept at it because I like you. At the risk of sounding pompous and maudlin, I chose you. And it means the world to me that in some fashion, you chose me back.
…if I can suggest one thing to keep in mind this year, it’s that most people are lonelier than you think. Most of us wonder if we really matter to that other person. Everyone feels on a hard day that they must have been forgotten. The ripples from small kindnesses can be huge.



Lily & Madeleine have lovely harmonies and arrangements, but I wasn’t as enthralled with the recordings on their album as I was with the no-track versions they did on video. Those (guitar-only or piano-only) are captivating; find them on youtube.



We served supper for eight on the 14th, to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. Cooking for eight is really different than for three. And the male:female ratio was 6:2 so that also affects how much food is necessary!

In January, we cooked caribou for the first time; it was tasty.



1. Coming back to the arid winter after two weeks in a tropical climate is so brutal – I need some humidity here!!

2. New favorite cocktail: Paloma

3. Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant is very popular!  Arriving at 5:20, we waited 75 minutes for a table. Admittedly, we needed a table for ten, but the waiting area was packed like public transit in Asia.

4.  “Shuffing” mahjong tiles is NOISY!!

5.  I accepted the inevitable and got glasses with progressive lenses.



I was sick for too much of January!  Can I say good-bye to the virus that hung on so long? I certainly hope so but I’m pessimistic about my chances of not starting all over again with a cold/flu.


What I’m looking forward to in February:

– a short trip to Minneapolis