Random (but not really)

Monday, March 27, 2017

WV Botanic Garden

Since the early flowers are blooming (those that didn’t die because of the early warm spell) we went to the Botanic Garden.

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Tibbs Run

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First rhododendron of the year!

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Grape hyacinth

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These tiny daffodils are adorable.

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Written by Michelle at 3:23 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Saturday it rained off and on, so although Sunday was overcast, we took advantage of the minimal precipitation and headed out to Coopers Rock.

Location: Coopers Rock
Distance: ~6 miles
Elevation: 1920-2421 feet
Temperature: 35-41 F

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We went a bit earlier than usual, so it was quiet and we saw very few people, which was nice.

It was still muddy on the roadside trail, however, so we ended up walking the road part of the way back, just to avoid the mud.

Written by Michelle at 9:01 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

It was a gorgeous day for a hike.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resoivoir Ski, Scott Run Trails
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 1857-2289 feet
Temperature: 28-34 C

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Written by Michelle at 5:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Write

Since it’s International Women’s Day, here are some recommended books written by women!

First, lemme natter on a bit about a couple of the authors.

Patricia C. Wrede writes primarily young adult fantasy, however, don’t let the modifier “young adult” put you off. That simply means it’s fantasy without any boinking. She has an amazing series set in a magical United States, where the founding fathers created a barrier along our Mississippi to keep out the dangerous magical creatures. Eff is the thirteen child in her family, and her twin brother is a seventh son of a seventh son. The first book is Eff’s young childhood, but the other two books are her teenage and adulthood. It’s an absolutely lovey series with amazing world building.

Megan Whalen Turner also writes YA fantasy where the YA means to me there just isn’t any boinking. The first and fourth books are my favorite–the first being almost perfect. A young thief is pulled from prison to see if he can help with the recovery of a magical item. Even after multiple readings, the surprises in this book and series take my breath away.

Kate Ross was a lawyer who wrote four books in her Julian Kestrel historical mystery before she lost her life to cancer. Julian is a dandy who gets inadvertently involved in murders. But it is so much more than that. Grandmom also loved this series.

C.S. Harris writes another historical mystery series that I adore. Sebastian St Cry has returned from the Napoleanic wars with what would today be considered PTSD. Two unfortunate accidents made him the heir, but it’s only when he is accused of murder that he awakens to some degree fro his dissolution. This series has had some incredible twists and turns.

I’ve got only one female author who writes a modern police mystery that I adore, and that’s Donna Leon. Her series is set in Venice, and I love these glimpses of a place that is disappearing.

I categorize books as historical fantasy if they are set in a past and/or place that didn’t exist, or feels much like our own past would (if our past had magic). Ellen Kushner‘s Swordspoint has only the magic of her writing, and is one of my all-time favorite books.

I read a lot of urban and supernatural fantasy and there are some very good series out there (many of which I’ve noted below) but I’m going to point out the women who are doing something different from the vampire/werewolves bits that make up much of supernatural fantasy.

First is Jane Lindskold. Her characters are not warriors who fight monsters, but instead have to figure out who they are and how they came to be where they are. I adore her writing.

The other urban fantasist author I want to make note of is Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Her Fistful of Sky is another of my all-time favorite books. It has magic hiding under the surface of our world, which means that humans with magic have to learn how to fit into that world without giving away secrets. Her stories are often based around family, which adds to their complexity.

For straight up historicals, I really love Diana Gabaldon‘s Lord John series. I can’t read her Outlander, because I can’t stand time-travel stories, but Lord John is a soldiers whose only anomaly is being a homosexual in a time and place where it would mean his death if he were caught. She’s tried very hard to get the historical bits as accurate as possible, which makes the series all the more fascinating to me.

Tracy Grant also writes as Teresa Grant, and has two main series, one of which is primarily romance with bits of mystery, and the other is mostly historical mystery, with a married couple who are keeping secrets from each other. Many of the latter stories were written out of the story chronology order, so you can in many cases read them books in any order you wish.

But all of these authors are very good, and you can almost certainly find something you’ll like in the list below:

Fantasy, YA

Historical

Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Sorcery & Cecelia -OR- The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (1988), The Grand Tour (2004), The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After (2006)

Patricia C. Wrede
A Matter of Magic (2010): Mairelon the Magician (1991) and The Magician’s Ward (1997)
Frontier Magic: Thirteenth Child (2009), Across the Great Barrier (2011), The Far West (2012)

Megan Whalen Turner
The Thief (1996), The Queen of Attolia (2000), The King of Attolia (2006), A Conspiracy of Kings (2010)

Urban / Supernatural

Susan Bischoff
Talent Chronicles: Hush Money (2010), Impulse Control (2011), Heroes ‘Til Curfew (2011)

Lish McBride
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (2010), Necromancer: A Novella (2011), Necromancing the Stone (2012)

Historical Mystery

Agatha Christie
Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage (1930), The Body in the Library (1942), The Moving Finger (1943), The Thirteen Problems (1928, 1929, 1930, 1933), A Murder Is Announced (1950), Murder with Mirrors (1952), A Pocketful of Rye (1953), 4:50 from Paddington (1957), The Mirror Crack’d (1962), A Caribbean Mystery (1964), At Bertram’s Hotel (1965), Nemesis (1971), Sleeping Murder (1976), Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (2013)

Kate Ross (British 1820s)
Julian Kestrel: Cut to the Quick (1993), A Broken Vessel (1994), Whom the Gods Love (1995), The Devil in Music (1997)

C.S. Harris (England 1810s)
Sebastian St. Cyr: What Angels Fear (2005), When Gods Die (2006), Why Mermaids Sing (2007), Where Serpents Sleep (2008), What Remains of Heaven (2009), Where Shadows Dance (2011), When Maidens Mourn (2012), What Darkness Brings (2013), Why Kings Confess (2014), Who Buries the Dead (2015), When Falcons Fall (2016)

Deanna Raybourn (England 1887)
Veronica Speedwell: A Curious Beginning (2015), A Perilous Undertaking (2017)

Candace Robb (England 1360s)
Owen Archer Mysteries: The Apothecary Rose (1993), The Lady Chapel (1994), The Nun’s Tale (1995), The King’s Bishop (1996), The Riddle of St. Leonard’s (1997), A Gift of Sanctuary (1998), A Spy for the Redeemer (2002), The Cross-Legged Knight (2006), The Guilt of Innocents (2006), A Vigil of Spies (2008)

Anna Lee Huber (Britain 1830s)
Lady Darby: The Anatomist’s Wife (2012), Mortal Arts (2013), A Grave Matter (2014), A Study in Death (2015), A Pressing Engagement (2016), As Death Draws Near (2016)

Madeline E. Robins (London 1810)
Sarah Tolerance: Point of Honour (2003), Petty Treason (2004), The Sleeping Partner (2012)

Mystery, Police

Donna Leon (Venice)
Commissario Guido Brunetti: Death at La Fenice (1992), Death in a Strange Country (1993), Dressed for Death (1994), Death and Judgment (1995), Acqua Alta (1996), Quietly in Their Sleep (1997), A Noble Radiance (1998), Fatal Remedies (1999), Friends in High Places (2000), A Sea of Troubles (2001), Willful Behavior (2002), Uniform Justice (2003), Doctored Evidence (2004), Blood from a Stone (2005), Through a Glass, Darkly (2006), Suffer the Little Children (2007), The Girl of His Dreams (2008), About Face (2009), A Question of Belief (2010), Drawing Conclusions (2011), Beastly Things (2012), The Golden Egg (2013), By its Cover (2014), Falling in Love (2015), The Waters of Eternal Youth (2016)

Fantasy, Historical

Ellen Kushner
Swordspoint (1987), The Fall of the Kings (2002), The Privilege of the Sword (2006)
Thomas the Rhymer (1990)

Susanna Clarke (Napoleanic era, magic, fey)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)

Sarah Zettel (Camelot)
Paths to Camelot: In Camelot’s Shadow (2004), For Camelot’s Honor (2005), Under Camelot’s Banner (2006), By Camelot’s Blood (2008)

C.E. Murphy (Regency England, magic)
Magic and Manners (2016)

Fantasy, Supernatural

Faith Hunter (Vampires, werewolves, witches, shifters)
Jane Yellowrock: Skinwalker (2009), Blood Cross (2010), Mercy Blade (2011), Cat Tales: Four Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock (2011), Raven Cursed (2012), Have Stakes Will Travel (2012), Death’s Rival (2012), Blood Trade (2013), Jane Yellowrock World Companion (2013), Black Arts (2014), Broken Soul (2014), Dark Heir (2015), Blood in Her Veins (2016), Shadow Rites (2016)
Soulwood: Blood of the Earth (2016), Curse on the Land (2016)

Jeaniene Frost (vampires)
Night Huntress: Halfway to the Grave (2007), One Foot in the Grave (2008), At Grave’s End (2009), Destined for an Early Grave (2009), This Side of the Grave (2011), One Grave at a Time (2011)
Night Huntress World: First Drop of Crimson (2010), Eternal Kiss of Darkness (2010)
Night Prince: Once Burned (2012), Twice Tempted (2013), Bound by Flames (2015)

Patricia Briggs (werewolves, shifters, fey, witches, vampires)
Mercy Thompson: Moon Called (2006), Blood Bound (2007), Iron Kissed (2008), Bone Crossed (2009), Silver Bourne (2010), River Marked (2011), Frost Burned (2013), Night Broken (2014), Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014), Fire Touched (2016)
Alpha and Omega: On the Prowl (2007), Cry Wolf (2008), Hunting Ground (2009), Fair Game (2012), Dead Heat (2015)

Jane Lindskold (magic)
Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994), The Buried Pyramid (2004), Child of a Rainless Year (2005)

Carrie Vaughn (werewolves, vampires)
Kitty Norville: Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005), Kitty Goes to Washington (2006), Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007), Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2007), Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (2009), Kitty Raises Hell (2009), Kitty’s House of Horrors (2010), Kitty Goes to War (2010), Kitty’s Big Trouble (2011), Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011), Kitty Steals the Show (2012), Kitty Rocks the House (2013), Kitty in the Underworld (2013), Low Midnight (2014)

Lisa Shearin (fey, magic, magical creatures, law enforcement)
SPI Files: The Grendel Affair (2013), The Dragon Conspiracy (2015), The Brimstone Deception (2016), The Ghoul Vendetta (2017)

Rob Thurman (monsters, fey, immortals)
Cal Leandros: Nightlife (2006), Moonshine (2007), Madhouse (2008), Deathwish (2009), Road Kill (2010), Blackout (2011), Doubletake (2012), Slashback (2013), Downfall (2014)
Trixa: Trick of the Light (2009), The Grimrose Path (2010)
Korsak Brothers (science fiction): Chimera (2010), Basilisk (2011)

Liz Williams (gods, demons, law enforcement)
Detective Inspector Chen: Snake Agent (2005), The Demon and the City (2006), Precious Dragon (2007), The Shadow Pavilion (2009), The Iron Khan (2010)
Emma Bull
War for the Oaks (1987), Territory (2007)

Nina Kiriki Hoffman (magic)
A Fistful of Sky (2002)

Romance, Historical

Courtney Milan (boinking)
(1840s) Unclaimed (2011), Unraveled (2011)
The Brothers Sinister (1860s): The Duchess War (2012), The Heiress Effect (2013), A Kiss for Midwinter (2012), The Suffragette Scandal (2014)

Carla Kelly (England, early 1800s, boink-free)
Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career (2012), Summer Campaign (2012), Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand (2012)

Isabel Allende
Zorro (2005) translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Lucia St. Clair Robson (Japan 1702)
The Tokaido Road (1991)

Georgette Heyer (boink-free)
These Old Shades (1926), The Masqueraders (1928)

Laura Kinsale (boinking)
Midsummer Moon (1987)

Diana Gabaldon (England, late 1750s, boinking)
Lord John: Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007), The Custom of the Army (2012), A Plague of Zombies (2012)

Michelle Diener (boinking, mystery)
Regency London: The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012), Banquet of Lies (2013), A Dangerous Madness (2014)
Susanna Horenbout and John Parker (England 1525): In a Treacherous Court (2011), Dangerous Sanctuary (2012), Keeper of the King’s Secrets (2012)

Alissa Johnson (England, 1872, boinking, mystery)
A Talent for Trickery (2015), A Gift for Guile (2016)

Tracy Grant (mystery, boinking)
The Lescaut Quartet (Europe 1810s): Dark Angel (1994), Shores of Desire (1997), Shadows of the Heart (1996), Rightfully His (1998)
Charles & Melanie Fraser / Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch (Napoleonic Europe): Beneath a Silent Moon (2003), The Mask of Night (2011), The Paris Affair (2013), The Paris Plot (2014), The Berkeley Square Affair (2014), London Interlude (2015), The Mayfair Affair (2015), Incident in Berkeley Square (2015), London Gambit (2016)

Non-Fiction

Mary Roach
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003), Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005), Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013), My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013)

Jenny Lawson
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) (2012)

Ruth Reichl
Tender at the Bone (1998)

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why the Consumption Tax Is a Terrible Idea

The governor wants to switch from an income tax to a consumption tax. Since I am pretty sure this is, if not the dumbest thing a WV politician has suggested, it’s certainly close, I decided to take a look at the census data and see what that told me.

A tiny bit of background.

West Virginia is surrounded by five other states: PA, MD, VA, KY, OH. [A]

West Virginia has four Interstates running through it: I64, I68, I77, I79. For towns along those interstates, it should be no more than two hours to a bordering state. [B]

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

WV has seven (7) counties with a mean household income over $60,000. With the exception of Kanawha, all those are border counties, meaning residents can easily drive to another state to make purchases. There are 16 counties with a mean income over $55,000, [D] 12 of those counties are border counties. Of those remaining four, only Nicholas and Taylor counties do not have an Interstate running through them.

There are 18 counties with a population over 30,000. [E] 13 of those counties are border counties. Of the remaining five, only Logan county does not have an Interstate running through it.

With me so far?

When you step back and look at the big picture, you see that the wealthiest and most populated counties tend to be border counties, where people can easily drive to another state to shop.

Of those interior counties, nine (9) have areas that are food deserts, four (4) have unemployment rates over 5.5%, ten (10) of those counties have a mean income of less than $50,000, and eleven counties have populations of less than 20,000 people.

Those who will be contributing most to the taxes to keep the state afloat are predominantly going to be those who can least afford the extra burden, while the wealthy will be able to avoid paying the consumption tax by easily driving over the border to another state. [F]

This idea could only have been come up by someone either profoundly ignorant of the population of the state, or profoundly ignorant of human nature.

Either way, it is the poor who will get screwed.

This is the Excel file I used to collate the data downloaded from the Census bureau and USDA.

[A] OH is somewhat problematic, since there the Ohio river is the border between WV and OH, and thus you can only cross at bridges, which are predominantly in the wealthier counties.

[B] There are other major roads that criss-cross the state, but most are good roads for only a portion. FREX, Most Rt 50 from Clarksburg to Parkersburg is a relatively flat and straight divide four lane divided highway. From Bridgeport East to the border, it’s two lanes, windy, and with several 7-9% grades. So I only counted Interstates with consider ease of access to other states.

[C] Food Deserts: Barbour, Fayette, Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mingo, Monroe, Roane, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel

[D] Income over $55k: Berkeley, Brooke, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pleasants, Putnam, Taylor, Wood

[E] Population over 30k: Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne, Wood

[F] And I do mean driving. Public transportation is abysmal in much of the state, and in rural areas, you are trapped without a car; you cannot get a job, go to the doctor, get groceries, etc.

All data from:
US Census Bureau – WV
USDA – Food Deserts

Written by Michelle at 2:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Another Visitor Drawn by the Bird Feeders

Although for a different reason.

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Written by Michelle at 6:49 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden,Photos  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Water

In 1952 and 1969 and at least 11 other times, the Cuyahoga along Cleveland Ohio caught fire. (Ohio History Central) (Washington Post)



Let’s take a look at something that’s a little more personal–the water quality of the Monongahela River, which runs past Morgantown and is the source of my water. The Mon River also has had a long history of pollution, especially from acid mine drainage.

The Monongahela River watershed was considered to be one of the region’s most intensely polluted by acid mine drainage in the United States until about 1970. (USACE)

Look at the change in pollution from 1974 (1) to 2000.

Morgantown

1974

1999-2000

pH

4.8

6.3

Alkalinity

2.5

14.2

Acidity

24.4

12.2

Total iron

4.9

2.7

(WVU Extension Service)

See also: (1964 Department of the Interior Report) (Morgantown Utility Board 2015 CCR)



Access to clean water is not a problem for 3rd world countries, it is a problem in many areas of West Virginia (and elsewhere in Appalachia). (Inside Appalachia)

Clean water is something many take for granted nowadays, but this is something that has come about through regulation and work. It does not come through the actions of private industries who don’t give a shit about those living downstream.

(1) The Clean Water Act was implemented in 1972, so this sampling is from two years after that.

Written by Michelle at 6:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Air

In 1952, England had a Great Smog that killed at least 4000 people (History.com) (The Guardian), although the history of killer smog in London dates back to the 1800s. (Guardian)



In 1966, at least 50 people were killed by a smog that covered the city of NY over Thanksgiving weekend. (Business Insider) (US Dept of Health, Education and Welfare Report from 1966)



In 1948, smog killed at least 20 people in Donora PA (a town south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River, north of Morgantown). (History.com) (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) (NPR)



Current smog in the western US comes from uncontrolled emissions from China (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics), and it’s possible that one third of deaths in China come from smog. (Business Insider)



Why do we need the EPA?

Because industry will not regulate itself. Because without regulation people die.

Written by Michelle at 11:28 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Books of February

Weather was pretty much horrible most of this month, so I did a lot of reading. Mind you, the tail end of that was comics (which are shorter) but I also read a lot of new books.

So what was good this month? Honestly, most everything.

Mystery had be finishing the Erlendur series by Arnaldur Indridason. The final book was excellent–I very much enjoyed the series, and the glimpse into a non-English speaking country. I also read the first two Veronica Speedwell books by Deanna Raybourn, which were good (I got fed up with her other series and stopped reading. So far this one doesn’t have the bits that irritate me about the other series.)

All the new books I read that were part of an ongoing series were excellent. Daniel José Older concluded his Bone Street Rumba, and it was of course excellent (there are other books set in this world, even if the main arc for Carlos is done). Ben Aaronovitch‘s newest Rivers of London was long delayed, but I didn’t mind the wait. Lisa Shearin‘s latest SPI Files was also a fun romp. And then there was Paul Cornell‘s latest Shadow Police. The last three are all supernatural police books, but all three are as different as it’s possible to be. And all three were thoroughly enjoyable. If you don’t like dark, avoid the Shadow Police, if you don’t like lighter romps, skip the Lisa Shearin.

And then there were the comics.

If you have not read Princeless, then you must immediately stop what you are doing and go find a copy. ESPECIALLY if you have small people in your life. Princeless is a delightful take on the princess trapped in a tower fairy tale trope. It’s truly lovely–the first book was a ten for me.

Along a similar vein is Princess Ugg, which is more for older kids and younger teens, and I liked it quite a bit.

And then for something completely different AND NOT FOR KIDS was Rat Queens, which I really really liked. I said not for kids, yes? I mean it. It’s a snarky RPG story with sex and drinking and drugs and I really liked it.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Battle Hill Bolero (2017) Daniel José Older (Bone Street Rumba) (8.5/10)
The Hanging Tree (2017) Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) (8.5/10)
The Ghoul Vendetta (2017) Lisa Shearin (SPI Files) (9/10)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes (2016) Paul Cornell (Shadow Police) (8/10)

Comics

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (2013) Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (9/10)
Princess Ugg Vol. 1 (2014) Ted Naifeh and Warren Wucinich (8/10)
Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (2012) Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins
Thor Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer? (2016) Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Jason Aaron, Noell Stevenson, CM Punk
Mighty Thor Vol. 1: Thunder in her Veins (2017) Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

Comics, Kids

Princeless
Princeless: Vol. 1: Save Yourself (2012) Jeremy Whitley and Mia Goodwin
Princeless, Vol 2: Get Over Yourself (2014) Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin
Princeless Vol 3: The Pirate Princess (2014) Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 Beware the Kitten Holy (2015) Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A Allen

Mystery, Historical

Veronica Speedwell
A Curious Beginning (2015) Deanna Raybourn (8.5/10)
A Perilous Undertaking (2017) Deanna Raybourn (7.5/10)

Mystery, Police

Erlendur
Voices (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
The Draining Lake (2004/2007) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
Arctic Chill (2005/2009) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb
Hypothermia (2007/009) Arnaldur Indridasontranslated by Victoria Cribb
Outrage (2008/2011) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Anna Yates
Black Skies (2009/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb
Strange Shores (2010/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb  (9/10)

 

Non-Fiction, Science

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013) Mary Roach

Audio Books

Legion (2012) Brandon Sanderson read by Oliver Wyman (8.5/10)

So how did the stats come out? 24 books this month, nine of which were trade paperback (the comics), one audio book, and the rest (14) were ebooks. The six re-reads were all the Inspector Erlendr mysteries–I had re-read the older books so I could finish the lat two books in the series.

Genre-wise things were relatively evenly split:

Fantasy : 13
Mystery : 10
Comic : 9
Non-Fiction : 1

Well, except for that single non-fiction book there.

Gender wise men have taken the lead for the year.

Male : 14
Female : 5
Anthology : 5

Part of that was reading the entire Erlendur series, but the rest of it was reading comics, which are male dominated. Yes, there were female writers and artists, but although there were comics written completely by those bearing the Y chromosome, this month had only a single comic whose crew had all X chromosome comics. (Lumberjanes is very good, but it also is not my thing.)

And that’s how things worked out. Here’s hoping for better weather so I can get out more.

Written by Michelle at 1:01 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Project Chairs: FINISHED

HUZZAH! They’re done!

Here’s what the chairs looked like before I started. The chair on the right had the most damage, with the replaced back board and broken bar. Plus, most of the joints were no longer flush together.

Kitchen Chairs

Here’s the most damaged chair, in pieces.

So, I'm doing this.

Here are the repairs on the two most damaged pieces:

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And here are the finished chairs.

The damage is still visible, but BY GUM the repair is smooth and sturdy!

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The two repaired chairs are in front.

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Next major project will be the table–or the bedroom floor since that’s the last room that needs done.

Written by Michelle at 3:11 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Busy day at Coopers Rock, what with it being freaking 70 F IN FEBRUARY.

Towards the gate:

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Towards the I68:

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We took it kinda easy today–my back has been sore from all the bending over and crouching I’ve been doing working on the chairs.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Roadside, Reservoir Ski, Reservoir Trails
Distance: 3.7+ miles
Elevation: 2169-2364 feet

So we hiked the Reservoir Ski Trail to the reservoir and then around the reservoir, which brings me to this important question:

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HOW DID I NOT KNOW THERE WERE BEAVERS AT COOPERS ROCK?

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ADDENDUM the First:

To clarify for H J Gadiyar, check out the details of these pictures!

The larger tree is in the process of being gnawed down. But in the background to the left you can see a felled tree.

beaver2

Here you can see the tell-tale v and ^ signs of the tree that fell to the left. But also you can see that the missing branches on the tree coming towards the camera have all been chewed and drug off once they were detached.

beaver1

Written by Michelle at 7:01 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Project Chairs: Update Part Three

If you have spent more than an hour with me, you know I’m not a patient person.

So much of this project is WAITING. GAH. Waiting for wood glue to dry, waiting for resin to dry, waiting for stain to dry… SO. MUCH. WAITING.

Here’s how things have progressed since last week.

I dug and scraped and sanded all the old glue and gunk and everything to get these pieces to fit together again. (Here you can see prior to work, these pieces are held together with about a quarter centimeter of wood glue.)

These pieces fit together better now...

As do these two pieces.  (You can see the new split on the smaller piece.)

I scraped old glue and then sanded the crap out of the broken pieces to see if I could get them to fit back together smoothly.

Scrape glue, sand, scrape glue, sand. Ugh. I hope I'm making this actually better.

I glued everything back together as carefully as I could. After getting the large piece down I remembered I had small paint brushes–those worked best. Then I taped everything down for the resin.

I hate waiting.

Duh duh DUH!

PROOF I wore gloves! I also had a window open! Safety precautions! I did not bond together anything that should not have been permamently stuck together.

Proof I remembered gloves!

In progress. It’s never going to look good, but BY GUM IT WILL BE STURDY. And smooth. And even. Just ugly. (Here’s how it looked before I started.)

It’s possible if I’d be more aggressive with the sanding it might have looked better, but as this wood is mostly likely 100+ years old, I’ve been terrified of using too much force. And the site I found that showed step-by-stop how to use the resin to fill voids also used a power sander to smooth the resin. I’m positive that made things quite different from my sanding by hand.

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Again you can see how the resin filled in the void.

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Three areas visible here that got resin.

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Let me tell you, working with the epoxy is a giant PITA. I ended up peeling everything off and starting again on two different sets of cracks. The second time I was far more sparing in my application of resin. If I’d thought to get tooth picks it probably would have gone easier.

The resin is supposed to be sandable, but I mostly have just (CAREFULLY) used a razor and exacto knife to cut the resin flush with the wood.

Yes, that is as miserable to do as it sounds. But so far, no trips to the ER.

And here’s where things are now. Waiting for stain to dry so I can polyurethane the chair on the right. Left is also waiting to be polyurethaned and for the back to be finished.

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Another note–the wood here is very light. I’m positive that on a darker wood many of the imperfections and repairs would have blended into the grain. But here I’m stuck with repaired cracks and voids that are much darker than the surrounding wood.

Written by Michelle at 3:22 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Project Update: Chairs

(First post here.)

The project is moving apace. Two chairs are finished, two are waiting the arrival of the clear epoxy I ordered.

First, what was hiding when I went to recover the seats:

Oh. Well.   Now I'm thinking I'll leave these old layers for a future surprise.

I found three different fabrics.

Of course I left them underneath for the next person to go WTF?

I did NOT strip the wood, just thoroughly cleaned and sanded. Here’s part of a quick cleaning:

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The two chairs that were finished were simply coated with a water-based polyurethane. I’m going to have to purchase a small can of light oak stain for parts of the two remaining chairs that I’m repairing.

Here is the chair that has the busted back. I am super nervous about how the repairs will turn out, but I realized it can’t be worse than how it was. Plus, someone cracked the end of a support bar while working with the legs. (That someone is NOT ME.)

So, I'm doing this.

The clear epoxy should arrive Monday, so I can stain the pieces I sanded over the weekend and they should be ready for the epoxy then.

And here is a finished chair!

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My goal was simply to recover the seats, and add a layer of protection to the wood.

Next week, we’ll see how the repairs go. But if you hear a lot of cursing, you’ll know it’s not going well.

Written by Michelle at 2:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Although last week’s snow is gone, it was a clear, beautiful day at New Rover Gorge.

We spent a good deal of time poking around Wolf Creek. One area was easy to get to, the other–less so.

Location: New River Gorge: Canyon Rim Area
Trails: Timber Ridge, Long Point, Fayetteville, Park Loop Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1784-2151 feet
Temperature: 34F

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Map of the Hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Books of January

The start of the month was for short stories–including finishing up anthologies I’d been reading for ages and ages.

I read a lot of good books this month, including going back and re-reading a book I’d almost forgotten about.

As for my favorite books of the month, let’s start with A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories which was an anthology I picked up solely for the Patricia Briggs story. Which I’ve not read about five times, because I kept re-reading it when I’d flip past it or while on a Patricia Briggs reading bender. Not all the stories were for me, but in all it was a strong anthology.

I know I keep going on about Daniel José Older, but that’s because I really do love his writing. Ghost Girl in the Corner is set following the events of Shadowshaper, but follows Tee and her girlfriend Izzy. As expected, the teenage girls are all strong characters I enjoyed spending time with. Kudos again for that.

Ghosts in the Snow is a good book, but it is extremely dark, and I’m not sure that I was in the mood for that much darkness, but if you like supernatural mysteries, then I do recommend it. As long as you’re aware that it’s dark.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit series is one I really do like, and when I realized I had the first book as an ebook, I set out to reread. Second book was also inexpensive, but the third? Well, that’s why I moved into another series. I’m waiting impatiently for that to go on sale. I’d like to note that Grandmom really enjoyed this series.

The other two mystery series are also very good–I’m re-reading the Inspector Erlendur series–but I can only read a couple Karin Fossum stories at a time, because they tend to be extremely depressing–two of the mysteries were about murdered children. The third was about a murdered teen. So small doses of that.

Mystery

Inspector Erlendur
Jar City (2000/2004) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (8/10)
Silence of the Grave (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (9/10)
Peculiar Crimes Unit
Full Dark House (2003) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
The Water Room (2004) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
Inspector Sejer
Black Seconds (2002/2007) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund (8/10)
The Water’s Edge (2007/2009) Karin Fossum translated Charlotte Barslund
Bad Intentions (2008/2010) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund

Supernatural Mystery

Ghosts in the Snow (2004) Tamara Siler Jones

Fantasy Anthology

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran
Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology (2014) edited by Henry Herz
A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014) edited by Kevin J. Anderson & Kieth J. Olexa (8/10)

Fantasy Short Stories

A Wolf in Holy Places (2009) Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Burnt Sugar (2014) Lish McBride
Ghost Girl in the Corner (2016) Daniel José Older (8/10)

And now, the statistics! Huzzah!

14 books this month, which is about average.

All ebooks this month (not a surprise), with 5 re-reads, three of which I have in paper. I would have continued on with Christopher Fowler’s series, but I’m not paying that much for a ecopy of a book I own in paper (and paid full price for at the time, I might add!).

eBook – 14
Multiple Formats -3
Re-read -5

Genre, things were split pretty evenly between fantasy and mystery.

Fantasy – 7
Mystery – 8
Anthology – 3

As to author genre, it’s split pretty evenly between male and female authors this month.

Male – 5
Female – 6
Anthology – 3

And that’s it for this month! YAY READING!

Written by Michelle at 12:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Project: Kitchen Chairs

This one is going to be a little more complicated.

I inherited Grandmom’s kitchen table and chairs. She said that they were “antique” when she and Popbo were given them by one of his aunts, who had the set in her attic (or perhaps basement).

Popbo refinished the set, and then they were used every day. Over the years chairs broke and were repaired with greater or lesser degrees of skill (depending upon who was doing the fixing). When they started to get unstable, and she was afraid one might fall apart while she was using it, we used L brackets to brace them up, and at the same time recovered the seats, and that’s how things have been since–the late 90s probably.

So I have a table and chairs that are in need of a good deal of work, but also very old. And more importantly, of great value to me because they were Grandmom’s.

Essentially, I don’t want to make things worse, but it’s reached the point where something really does need to be done.

The table I can probably manage, since I’ve refinished tables before.

The chairs, however, worry me.

I’m not worried about the sanding and refinishing, but it seems silly to do all that work without repairing them, and THAT I am not comfortable doing.

The chair in the right is in the worst shape. You can see it was badly broken and poorly repaired. We try to make sure small people never sit in this chair.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is a closer look at the repair job. The back slat was replaced with a mostly-matching piece of wood, but the repair where it was rejoined is–awful.

Kitchen Chairs

The bracing is on the underside, out of sight in this view, but somewhat visible from the side. It’s just a brass L bracket, carefully screwed into the wood.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is the view from the back.

Kitchen Chairs

I’ve started by simply cleaning the wood with Murphy’s Oil soap and an old toothbrush and nail brush and soft cloths, and that’s helped, but they really need sanded and several new coats of polyurethane. (Several coats, because this is MY kitchen table now, and I use it every day.)

So, here is the question. Does anyone have advice or recommendations for me? Or is anyone willing to trade delicious baked goods for assistance in this project?

I’m assuming the wood is 100+ years old and so I am extremely leery of removing any existing screws for fear of causing further damage (or not being able to get things back together without breaking something.

Did I mention delicious baked goods of your choice in trade?

Written by Michelle at 8:21 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Project Floors: Part III

I’ve just finished up the hallway (and by hallway, I mean the tiny expanse of floor between the two bedrooms and the bathroom) but I also decided to see if I could do something about the floor grates.

I tried cleaning them, but they were still ugly.

Then I remembered the existence of spray paint!

Here is a painted grate next to one that has been cleaned (no, really, I cleaned it!) but not yet painted.

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

And here we were in situ!

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

I possibly should have gone with a darker color, but standing in front of the spray paint options was a bit overwhelming (like, half an aisle of spray paint) and it might just look odd to me because it’s clean and shiny.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quid Pro Quo: Something Given or Received for Something Else

US Constitution: Article I Section 9

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

 

Nations whose citizens have committed terrorism against the United States in modern times:
Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

 

Nations targeted by Trump’s ban:
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya

 

Nations with whom Trump has business interests:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar

 

And a quick bit of history. Nations whose governments have been toppled / destabilized with US interference / assistance:

Korea (1945), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-1989), Nicaragua (1981-1989), Panama (1989), Haiti (1991), Somalia (1993), Iraq (1994-1996), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Haiti (2004), Somalia (2007), Syria (2005-2015), Lybia (2011)

 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
– George Santayana

Written by Michelle at 9:33 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

I tried several biscotti recipes over the holidays, and there were two I particularly liked. The double chocolate ones are good, but if I eat them in the evening, then I can’t get to sleep (because who can eat just one biscotti?!)

So it’s the Cranberry-Orange Biscotti that are on the menu this winter. And they are delicious.

Recipe based on Italian-Style Cranberry-Orange Biscotti from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp orange extract
1 cup (4 5/8 oz) dried cranberries
1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I’ll lightly grease the parchment paper to make removing the biscotti logs easier. Not required, but recommended.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light-colored creamy. If you start mixing the eggs and sugar and then go onto measure out everything else, as well as toasting and chopping the walnuts, you’ll come back and it’ll be done.

Beat in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, orange juice, zest, and extract.

Toss the walnuts and cranberries in with the flour, then add to the egg mixture, beating just until the flour is completely incorporated.

Create two dough logs on the parchment paper.

This is easier said then done. Here is the easiest way: Plop down blobs of dough roughly in two log shapes.

Wet your hands.

Using your wet hands, shape the dough into something resembling two logs.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Don’t worry if the dough looks very wet after shaping. It won’t matter.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes at 350F.

After 25 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and drop the temperature to 325F.

As soon as it’s cool enough to do so, move one of the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, and cutting on the diagonal, cut 1/2″ thick slices. If your knife is sharp, you should need only to press down on the dough to cute it–avoid sawing which will break off bits of the cookies.

Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet (I stand them on end, but if they’re on their side, that’s fine), then cut the 2nd log in the same manner.

Bake the slices for 25 minutes at 325 F.

Cool on a rack, and then enjoy dipping in your favorite hot beverage.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Written by Michelle at 7:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock (TWO DAYS IN A ROW)

Two weekend days in a row where it wasn’t raining and miserable!

HOORAY!

This time we walked out to the overlook and back. Same distance as yesterday but MUCH easier, since there is little elevation gain.

Location: Coopers Rock
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 2188-2442 feet
Trail: Roadside Trail
Temperature: 28 F

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Written by Michelle at 6:34 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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