Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Malarkey, including a reading update

We went to Biloxi (on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi), this weekend, for a swim meet. Did you miss me? Well, thanks. I missed you, too -- I didn't have the time to blog-hop. That tiny print says, "Flew the coop, this weekend. Which one looks like me?" Just telling you, in case you can't read it. I messed with my own photo at, because I don't have a photo program with that nifty sketch feature.

I'll tell you more about our trip, later, and you'll get to see some pictures because Booklogged has tagged me for a photo meme. Today I just feel like writing a malarkey post. I will say, though, that this was the first time we've been to the Gulf Coast since about 5 years pre-Katrina and the difference is utterly beyond belief. I'd heard plenty about the scope of destruction from friends, but seeing the empty spaces where so much had been built up on the shore . . . and mile after mile after mile of empty foundations. There's just really no way to describe how much is gone and how shocking the difference.

Anyway . . . I'm impressed with how beautiful the Mississippi Gulf Coast looks, how clean it is and what's being done with limited funds. Tree stumps are being carved into incredible sculptures (didn't photograph them -- will go back soon, I hope). Palms have been replanted. The beach is mostly cleaned up and regularly combed. It's beautiful. Really, it's so pleasant to be able to see and walk on the beach, again. It had been buried by commerce and the last time we went to Biloxi, we left in disgust, convinced we'd never go back. Well, shucks, here . . . just look:

That huge vasty nothingness was crowded with buildings. You could hardly see the water, just a few years ago. Unbelievable. I'm glad it's back, but I feel deeply for the folks who were uprooted and haven't been able to return.

Overheard: "I read it real slowly because I've never been much of a reader. I'm athletic and I've always kept real busy."

Question: What is it about non-readers that makes them think they're busier than us? I do most of my reading at night, because that's the only time I can squeeze it in (usually -- there've been a couple of glorious weather days that have drawn Bookfool and Cat to the porch, recently). My sister talks about being too busy to read as if it's a badge of honor. I don't get that.

Reading update:

Homeland Insecurity: How Washington Politicians Have Made America Less Safe by Turchie and Puckett -- 2/3 of the way through. I hoped to finish the book, tonight, but instead I've been running back and forth between computer and son, checking to make sure he's getting that 2-page nutrition report written. I'm as ignorant about politics as I am about history, so I've had to take this one slowly. But, man . . . fascinating stuff and a totally, completely different story about the FBI and corruption than you'll ever hear from politicians or the news. I think every American should read this book. We all need to have a big talk about the subject matter. It's important.

To Catch the Lightning by Alan Cheuse - Historical fiction about Edward Curtis, the photographer who is famous for his photos of Native Americans. I'm about 1/2-way through with this book and I've formulated some strong opinions, which I'll share when I review it. It's a breezy read, for the most part, but a chunkster. I hope to finish it, soon. "Soon" being a relative term.

Creepers by Joanne Dahme - A YA story about a teenager who feels compelled to solve the mystery of the ivy growing rampantly on her new home and the unexplained disappearance of a young girl's body from the nearby cemetery. Finished in Biloxi -- will review it, soon! Most important: It was not nightmare inducing (I'm prone to nightmares).

The Dharma King by B. G. Stroh - Set aside because I had too many books going, a while back, but not because I wasn't enjoying the book. I'm finding it gripping. This is a short thriller set in Tibet (at least, so far). I'm on Chapter 10 -- not far into it, but enough to know that I'd really like to set aside a few hours to finish.

10:30 PM and I haven't read a single page because I want to have uninterrupted reading time. Maybe tomorrow. What are you reading?


  1. Wow, that beach pic is glorious. I know what you mean about an overcrowded beach full of commerce. I certainly feel for those who were uprooted, but it's also sort of nice to have the elements clean house and start over.

    I cannot tell you how annoyed I get at the "too busy to read" people. I'm willing to bet they make time to watch TV, though! I pass up the TV in favor of the books 98% of the time. And I don't brag about it (generally).

    Looking forward to your thoughts on To Catch the Lightning. The only Cheuse I've read are his novellas from The Fires. Good stuff, so I'm curious about his other work.

  2. Andi,

    That is exactly how I feel -- sad about those who have been uprooted, but happy that the beach has been restored. It was really pretty before the casinos and now that the casinos are inland (the law was changed; they no longer have to be on the water) and nature recovered the beach . . . wow. It's gotten one heck of a facelift.

    Speaking of non-readers who have no time -- my sister does manage to watch TV. I walk past the TV a lot, but I never really think to turn it on. Before my husband destroyed the den, I only watched House. That's it. And, I plunked in a movie to keep my brain occupied when I got on the NordicTrac. But, that's it. So, yeah. :)

    This is my first Cheuse book and I'm enjoying it, but with a few reservations. Well, you'll see when I finish. LOL

  3. I did miss you! I am glad you are back though. It's kind of bittersweet, I imagine, seeing the Gulf Coast. So much lost and yet the beauty of what exists now that nature has reclaimed it . . .

    Some nonreaders just assume we don't have a life, I think.

    You've reminded me that I need to head for bed if I want to get any reading done tonight. I hope you have a great week, Nancy.

  4. My mother-in-law is an extremely proud non-reader. But she watches TONS of TV. So much so that while she was here on her month long visit she scolded my husband over and over for hogging the TV from me and watching sports. I told her I don't really watch TV. To which she told me that when I got back to the States and had more than 10 channels I would and that I would HAVE to buy another TV.

    I'm kind of against have as many TV's in the house as there are people or in her case more TV's than there are people.

    I'm not looking forward to over 200 channels when I get back, I'm looking forward to a library with more than 15 racks of books.

  5. "Question: What is it about non-readers that makes them think they're busier than us? "

    I know! This reminds me of a conversation I had last week. I was reading Northanger Abbey during my lunch break and a lady interrupts me and asks what I'm reading. I answer, and after a pause she says "...and you're reading it for fun?" I say yes, and she starts an elaborate speech about how she loves to read and used to do it a lot when she was younger, but these days she just can't. She's too busy, she has too many responsibilities that she just can't evade. Because yeah, readers always evade their responsibilities. That's how we find the time to read.

    Her tone really upset me. She sounded like she was convinced that I was purposely waving my book in front of her to show that I was "smarter" or "better" or something, and it was her duty to put me in my place, to show me that the only reason why she doesn't read is because she's a Responsible Adult.

    It's not the first time I see a non-reader acting as if they feel threatened when they see someone reading. It just doesn't make any sense.

    Anyway, rant over now :P

  6. Right now I am reading a sweet historical called Courting Miss Adeliade by Janet Dean. I am also finishing Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet. And I have two review books that need to be read for this week.
    I agree the beach is much prettier. We passed through on our way to Gulf Shores (2007) and Destin (2008).
    I would rather be at the beach right now instead of getting ready for work. lol :)

  7. I do most of my reading at night, too. I don't work, but my days get filled up with housework, running errands, walking the dog, etc. I just skip TV in the evenings because I love my books.

  8. What a lovely white beach! I agree with you and Andi. It's sad that people lives were uprooted but it is nice to see nature undisturbed.

    And I don't get the "too busy to read" people either. It's all a matter of priorities.

  9. I've heard about Homeland Insecurity and now I'm adding it to the list. I'm sure it is fascinating, but probably a little frightening, too. No matter how much we hear about corruption, it always runs deeper than we can imagine.

    I'm adding To Catch the Lightening, too. Thanks for some great suggestions!

  10. Some people make time to read, and some don't. I guess people who like to work out could say I don't get out and take care of my body by exercising more, and I could just as easily say they don't exercise their minds by reading more. Is one of us right and the other wrong? or better? No. We just have different priorities.

    I'm really eager to hear what you say about To Catch the Lightning. I read it a little while ago, and while it was interesting, ended up feeling dissatisfied...

  11. Wendy,

    Thank you! :)

    "Bittersweet" is the perfect word. I had a fleeting thought that nature has reclaimed what greed buried, as I was walking along the beach. That's a good thing, in my mind. There are some sad bits, too. Our favorite pier is gone, the lighthouse survived but it's not getting the upkeep it needs, Beauvoir (Jefferson Davis' house) still stands, but everything inside was ruined. It's a completely different place, that's for sure.

    Yes, I think you're right. My sister seems to think I don't do anything at all. But, I stay home and she works. I get that a lot, just for being a homemaker. I couldn't count the times I've been asked, "What do you do all day? Aren't you bored?" I have never, ever been bored. LOL


    That's funny, albeit in a horrifying way. I hate it when people just assume their wishes our ours. She was probably chewing your husband out because she wanted the TV (or thought you'd watch something more enjoyable than sports, if you got a turn).

    The amazing thing (and we gave up our satellite service a while back, so I just know this from flipping at my inlaws' house) is that there can be so little substance on 200 channels. Who needs it? I don't have any interest in being besieged by commercials and paying to waste my time. I only like movies, anyway. Series TV doesn't thrill me (in general).

    A library with plenty of books is definitely much more exciting. :)


    I enjoyed that rant!! It sounds like she was trying to justify her lack of reading, all right. Maybe what she really wanted (or, at least needed) was some suggestions about sneaking in the reading in addition to all those other responsibilities. I always tell people it's just like anything else -- if it's important to you, you'll prioritize and find the time.

    I've never noticed resentment when I read, but maybe I just assume people think I'm odd for reading at all. I've especially noticed heads swiveling when I pull out a book at the doctor's office, where they now have TVs blaring. It's harder to concentrate with Oprah jabbering, but it can be done. ;)

  12. Brittanie,

    Courting Miss Adelaide sounds fun. I'm reading mostly review books, at the moment, but I always have to throw in one or two that aren't urgent reading or I start to go into a reading slump -- even if I love the review books! So weird. Gotta do what works, though. :)

    I've got a photo of my husband and son that I'll put up in a couple of days. I think you're close to my eldest son's age, aren't you? He's 24. If so, you might have missed seeing what Biloxi looked like before the casinos arrived. The beach is nicer than the pre-casino years, now, although we miss the charm of those little seafood shacks that were driven away. I really hope they'll leave the beach alone, now that they've changed the law and the casinos don't have to block the view. Have fun at work. I'd rather be at the beach, too. :)


    Me, too! I'm a stay-at-home. My kids are older, now, and one has moved away. But, I'm no less busy than I used to be; I just don't have to sit on the floor putting together puzzles and playing with Little People. Plus, the cat requires a *lot* of attention. We're thinking about getting her a friend. LOL

    That's why I skip TV, too. I'd rather read. But, when I watch TV, I always end up leaving, anyway. There isn't all that much that appeals to me.


    You would love to visit Biloxi. There's very little left, but plenty of photo opportunities. We spent a lot of time at our old favorite pier, which is now nothing but pilings and has been overtaken by the wildlife -- just photographing the pelicans and gulls. It was loads of fun. It's a relaxing place, again.

    The empty foundations are really horrifying, though. It's the average people who really suffered because those few houses that have been rebuilt are almost all monstrous. Meaning, only the filthy rich can afford to rebuild and take the risk of living without insurance. Nobody will insure on the MS Gulf Coast, now.

    Priorities is the key word, I agree. That's actually what I tell people who tell me they don't have time to read: It's just a matter of priorities. If it's important to you, you'll find the time.

  13. Jenclair,

    Homeland Insecurity is about how the craving for political power has caused a few people to do major damage to our nation's security. It's really amazing, but yes . . . scary stuff. I'm so glad you're putting it on your list. I'm dying to find someone to talk to about it!

    To Catch the Lightning is invoking some pretty strong feelings, but I'm afraid they're not all good. Hopefully, I'll have a review up in a few days (still have to finish)and then you'll have a better understanding.


    Exactly. It's all priorities. Although, you know, I used to run regularly and I still managed to read. I need to get back to that. I'm looking a little like a toadstool, right now. LOL

    I'm enjoying To Catch the Lightning, but there are some things I don't like about it. It's not what I expected! Hopefully, I'll be done in a few days.

  14. Thanks so much for the beach picture. It is beautiful!

  15. 3m,

    You're very welcome. :)

  16. Oh I wish I was on that beach right now. Hope you are enjoying some uninterrupted reading time! I wanna hear about Creepers :)

  17. Saw this today - thought of you ;-)


  18. You are my first test of my new browser - I was having so much trouble with IE and ... did blogspot change something? they used to give me the wp icon so I could save a step. alas, now I have to do the dropdown list, blahblahblah. ANYWAY. I am reading Something Wicked This Way Comes - WONDERFUL! and I just finished Mystic River which did give me nightmares - or at least the characters were visiting me in my sleep.

    RE: people who don't have time to read. I have one friend who I honestly could say she kept busy moving and doing stuff (not butt on couch in front of TV) who felt guilty reading because she felt she was just sitting. It IS a habit that takes some adjustment. Yes, to the priority of it all. and I read while walking on the treadmill which isn't rec'd but I do it anyway.

  19. Iliana,

    Me, too. Home is kind of yucky. I need to move furniture and scrub a carpet, tomorrow. I'd rather watch seagulls. :)

    I'll try to get to that review ASAP!


    I should do a grilled wahoo edition. LOL Thanks for sharing that!!


    I haven't made any major changes, so I don't know if Blogger has changed anything in the past week, *but* I do remember they went down for maintenance, some time very recently. Friday, maybe? So, it's likely they "updated" (screwed things up further).

    I've read while doing NordicTrack and the treadmill -- when we had a membership at the local YMCA, but it's difficult. At least on the NordicTrack, even with a book holder, it just jiggled too much.

    I always felt guilty if I watched TV and didn't do anything with my hands, while it was on, so that's one reason I used to do my exercise with a video playing. And, that was also my laundry-folding time. I can understand your friend's point of view. That's one reason I read at night. I feel guilty sitting down for too long, during the daylight hours.

  20. I am 25 and you're right I don't remember the beach the way it was before casinos. Besides the fact my memory is awful, before Katrina I went in high school for Junior classical league conference and after that I don't think I went back before Katrina. It is sad to pass all the empty spaces.

  21. Beautiful picture of the beach. Hard to imagine it covered with buildings. I don't get how people can say they are too busy to read either. It just doesn't make sense. Are they embarrassed to say that they just don't like to read? Its no big deal. I don't exercise and I not afraid to say I don't like it. Same principle, right?

  22. You're the bird with the book.

    I watch plenty of TV and still manage to read too. And I knit. That gets the "I'm not patient enough to knit" as if I'm the essence of patience. Ha. Priorities. I deliberately did not have children because they suck up valuable reading time. Okay, not.

    Homeland Insecurity sounds goods! Geez, I've got to stop reading book blogs, I've bought two today on Amazon and six over the weekend and it's not as if I have the money.

  23. Brittanie,

    It's sad that so many homes and lives were lost and horrible what the insurance companies have gotten away with (theft, if you ask me). But it's also lovely to be able to see the beach, again. It wasn't that long ago that you could walk along big, beautiful stretches of beach and the casinos and condos had completely blocked that gorgeous view.


    It's lovely. Opposite to the beach, where all the pretty homes sat, that's the sad part. There used to be miles and miles of beautiful homes -- 100+ years in age; they'd survived some major hurricanes but now every single one of those homes is gone.

    I'm really glad the casinos moved inland. The beach is gorgeous.

    I don't know; maybe some people find it embarrassing that they don't read, but most of the people I've talked to about it seem to be *proud* of the fact that they don't read. I'm kind of embarrassed that I haven't exercised in a long time, but I love exercise. I miss running and just need to get myself out of the house.


    Yep, that's me.

    You can knit and watch TV -- that's what's great about knitting. I used to do hand work when I watched TV and then I did NordicTrack or laundry. But, I never was very good at just sitting in front of a TV.

    Hahaha! Call me an enabler. :) I just finished Homeland Insecurity. They could have used a little grammar and spelling help, but I thought it was a darn good read and I'm just waiting for someone else to talk with. Go ahead, give in to the urge. You're single. Hez doesn't need that fancy cat food.

  24. Love the beach pictures - I so totally love the beach!

    The books all sound great but I'm not sure my blood pressure can handle the Homeland Security one!

    I hope the rest of your week is great.


  25. CJ,

    I'm not usually a beach person, but I used to love the Mississippi Coast, and now my affection has returned. :)

    Homeland Security is good. Scary, but I really think it's a book that people need to read and talk about because the only way things can change is via our votes. But, yeah. LOL

    Thanks, hope you have a great week, too!

  26. You've hit on one of my all time pet peeves regarding the "too busy to read" question. It makes me crazy! I too feel like that when someone says that to me, that they think I do nothing but read and that their life must be so much more interesting than mine.

    And guess what? I not only read, but I watch TV too! Now how do I manage THAT? Wow, I must be a super mom. :)

    Oh, I know what my secret is... I have a policy against house cleaning! :)

  27. Suey,

    I know, me too. There is definitely an implication in that comment people make about being too busy to read. You must not have anything important to do. Uh, wait. I used to work, take care of kids, clean house, do numerous crafts and volunteer . . . and I still read.
    Okay, yeah, I've been reading a lot more since I gave up housework.

    I don't watch TV, though. I can't stand all those commercials. They make me want to scream.

  28. What irks me more than people saying they don't have time to read is when they talk about how they would love to read--"Oh I love reading, but I don't have time." I skimmed through the comments [because I don't have time to read them all], but I agree that we MAKE time to read. If I can't read in the evenings, which I usually can't, I wake up early to read. Or I get to work 30 minutes early and sit in my car and read then. Have time to watch crap on TV but don't have time to read...Urgggggggg! :)

    By the way--really want to see pictures of sculptured trees...!

  29. Trish,

    Yeah, I've heard that one way too many times.

    It's okay, you don't have to read the comments!

    I do that, too. Sometimes, I'll set the alarm when the hubby is home and wait till he's out the door. The moment I hear the lock click, I'm propping myself up to read. I also used to leave for school pick-up 30 minutes early because that was the only time I could squeeze in reading. Back in those days, I only had a tiny window for reading at night because I was too busy cooking, supervising homework, making sure kids bathed (one hated water) and reading to them. I'd be sitting in the car with sweat dripping down my arms (I don't leave the car running while I wait) but I didn't care. It was my time!!

    I can't bear TV, really. It's mostly the commercials, but I've noticed TV has veered toward melodrama. There's a lot of evening soap opera, these days. I wonder what that says about the average viewer.

    Oh, will do. I'll go back to Biloxi, just for you. Better go tell the hubby I must return for Trish. :)

  30. LOL--yes! Go back to Biloxi for me. :)

    Not a big fan of the way TV is going either. We watch The Office and Eli Stone and that's about all I can handle. Given the choice between reading and TV, I'll choose my book any day.

  31. Trish,

    Shortly after I posted my reply, hubby passed the room and I said, "I have to go back to Biloxi to take pictures of the carvings for Trish." Hubby said, "Okay. Maybe in a couple of weeks." He loves a road trip. :)

    Me, too. I can do without TV completely. I don't miss it a bit. Well, except for House. But, I can never remember when it's on!!


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