Random (but not really)

Friday, September 10, 2021

Book Round-Up, Spring & Summer 2021

Out of House and HomeFor somewhat obvious reasons I haven’t done a monthly round-up since March.

But as I’ve actually read some new-to-me books in recent months, I figured I might try to put together a round-up post.

And I’ve read some good stuff–even a number of new releases (though I also have some I haven’t been able to read yet, like the latest C.S. Harris.)

The romance I want to make note of is Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall. He’s a phenomenal writer, and this is the first MF story I’ve read by him. It’s lovely and does lots of unexpected things.

In mysteries I discovered Dahlia Donovan‘s Motts Cold Case series which are fun mysteries AND the main character is ace! I’m still enjoying Dianne Freeman‘s Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, which is a lovely historical cozy. And I want to note that book three of Ellery Adams‘ Secret, Book, & Scone Society introduce an ace character! Plus I started a new series, with Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala which was good, and I loved all the representation in the story.

In fantasy, I am still enjoying Drew Hayes‘ Fred the Vampire Accountant series, and Out of House and Home was a nice entry. And I discovered T. Kingfisher this year, and all of her books have been delightful. (Although I think A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking is still my favorite of her books so far.)

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
And you might want to check out some of the books I didn’t love, because my reading is off, so it might just have been a timing thing rather than a problem with any particular book.


Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (2021) Alexis Hall (Winner Bakes All) 8/10
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb (2021) Cat Sebastian 8/10
The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish (2021) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne) 7.5/10
The Day Pass (2021) Slade James (Bear Camp) 7.5/10
Red Dirt Heart (2014) N.R. Walker (Red Dirt Heart) 7.5/10
A Little Light Mischief (2019) Cat Sebastian (The Turner Series) 7/10
Daydream, Colorado: Blindspot (2021) A.M. Rose 7/10; Mischief (2021) A.M. Rose 7/10
Baldwin Village : One Bed for Christmas (2018) Jackie Lau 6/10; The Ultimate Pi Day Party (2019) Jackie Lau 6/10
A Lady’s Formula for Love (2021) Elizabeth Everett (The Secret Scientists of London) 4.5/10


Arsenic and AdoboHaven Investigations: Model Citizen (2015) Lissa Kasey 8.5/10; Model Bodyguard (2016) Lissa Kasey 8.5/10;  Model Investigator (2017) Lissa Kasey 9/10; Model Exposure (2017) Lissa Kasey  9/10
Motts Cold Case Mystery: Pierced Peony (2021) Dahlia Donovan 8/10; Poisoned Primrose (2020) Dahlia Donovan 8/10
A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021) Dianne Freeman (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery) 8/10
Arsenic and Adobo (2021) Mia P. Manansala (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen) 8/10
Transient Desires (2021) Donna Leon (Commissario Brunetti) 8/10
The Book of Candlelight (2000) Ellery Adams (Secret, Book, & Scone Society) 7.5/10
An Unexpected Peril (2021) Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell) 7.5/10
Scandal at the Salty Dog (2021) Josh Lanyon (Secrets and Scrabble) 7/10
Ghost Light Killer (2021) Dahlia Donovan (London Podcast Mystery) 7/10
The Cook of the Halcyon (2019/2021) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Inspector Montalbano) 6/10

Paladin’s Strength (2021) T. Kingfisher (The Saint of Steel) 8.5/10
Minor Mage (2019) T. Kingfisher 8/10
Out of House and Home (2021) Drew Hayes (Fred the Vampire Accountant) 8/10
Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way (2021) Ella Stainton (Kilty Pleasures) 8/10


Written by Michelle at 3:37 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Friday, September 3, 2021

Not OK

I am not OK.

I’m not sure I even remember what OK felt like, it’s been so long.

Intellectually, I know the things I need to be doing.

Intellectually, I know grief is a process and it takes time and there is no wrong way to grieve.

Intellectually, I know I have difficulty dealing with grief.

But in reality? My brain still believes that I should be better by now. That I don’t have a right to feel this way because so many other people have it so much worse. That it’s wrong for me to still be grieving because I don’t deserve to. That other’s feelings and losses are more important than mine. That I’m weak for not being able to just get over this.

I hate this.

And I’m so tired.

I’ve tried to incorporate things that I know help me back into my life: we try to go hiking at least once a week—out in the wilderness where there are no other people. I try to get some exercise, even if it’s only walking on the treadmill while I’m on the computer. I try to remember to eat. I try to remember to drink enough water (or at least tea). And I read.

That helps to get me out of my head, to feel other things.

But it’s so hard to do just that bare minimum, everything else is too much. And it shouldn’t be. I mean, how hard is it to put away the groceries? How hard is it to put things away? Yet I don’t—I can’t—and then I feel guilty for that too,

I’m not cooking.

I’m not cleaning the house.

I haven’t baked since April.

I was already struggling with a lot of things before my dad died—the pandemic and politics obviously, but I’d also been trying to come to terms with things I’ve been ignoring for decades: who I am; how can I accept the parts of me that don’t fit. How can I be me, and not just the expectations of others?

I already didn’t much enjoy being me, living in this body.

I just want things to be better.

I want to listen to the news and not hear horror and misery. I want terrible things to stop happening to my friends. I want the world to be loving and accepting.

I don’t actually have a coda for this. I just needed to get it out. And to make some small attempt at letting people know: I’m not ok.

Written by Michelle at 12:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Goodbye Dad

Michael Joseph Klishis, 78, of Morgantown, died Thursday, April 22, at his home.

Michael was born in Baltimore MD on July 26, 1942. He was the son of the late Albert and Lillian (Laukaitis) Klishis.

He graduated from Catonsville Community College, then Frostburg State College, where he met Lesley. He then went into the Air Force, where he served primarily in Fayetteville, NC. After his honorable discharge, they moved to Morgantown, where he received his Master’s and eventually PhD in psychology from WVU.

Never knowing quite what he wanted to be when he grew up, he had a passion for teaching, and worked at WVU first at the Mining Extension Service, and then as a professor for the Department of Safety Studies, until his retirement from the University in 2015.

After retirement, he and Lesley traveled and volunteered and enjoyed each other’s company.

He loved jazz and science fiction, the Baltimore Orioles and WVU sports, aquariums with fish and ponds with ducks. But above all he loved—and was loved by—his family.

He was never on time, and he never did clean off his desk.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Lesley (Cave), his daughter Michelle (Michael Hyde), his son Brian (Stacie Klishis), one grandchild, Julliene, in whom he delighted; his sister Christine Horne (Gary), and his nieces and nephews and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the doctors, nurses and staff at WVU Family Medicine and The Cancer Center for their care and compassion throughout Michael’s illnesses.

A memorial service will be held at some point in the future when we can safely gather.

In lieu of flowers the family asks for donations to Doctors Without Borders or UNICEF, or to the WVU Foundation to support the Michael and Lesley Klishis Graduate Support Fund. And remember to hug your loved ones.

Written by Michelle at 8:47 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family  

Friday, April 9, 2021

Maybe Not Today, But Someday

It’s been years since I talked about mental health, because things had been going ok. I had some struggles, but I was able to change the things that were problems (get a new job) and it got better.

But this past year has been rough. Really rough. Honestly, from 2016 on things were difficult, with so much hate and racism and sexism right out in the open everywhere you looked, but 2020 was just the worst. All the racism, all the sexism, all the hate AND a pandemic.

But I kept going, thinking, “once the election is over, things will get better” or “once we get a vaccine approved, things will get better” and “once we have the inauguration, things will get better.”

Except that all those things happened, and it didn’t get better.

Not really.

So I finally had to admit that my anxiety was out of control, and pushing me into a bout of depression, because all the tools I’ve used for decades to stay healthy were suddenly no longer working.

I’m not sure I can explain how hard it’s been to have a situation beyond my control go on for so long, and about which I can do absolutely nothing.

When I can get out hiking, it’s not bad. But last spring I broke my foot, which meant no hiking–no walking. That took a big chunk out of me, and really started the downward spiral.

I just kept hoping that after event X happened, things would get better. But they never did.

My depression is insidious. I’ve always thought of it as being functionally depressed. Work is never a problem–I’m on time and I get my work done. So from the outside everything looks perfectly normal. Except that work is almost the only thing I can manage to do, and once I’m done for the day, I am incapable of accomplishing anything else.

I can manage to go to the grocery store every week at the normal time, and I put away all the fridge and freezer items, but once the perishable items are away–it’s too much struggle to deal with the rest of it.

I can do wash and try and fold laundry (because I actually find laundry calming). But putting it away? Nope.

Forget making dinner. Or cleaning the house.

It’s a stupid thing. “How hard can it be to (do simple task)?” you ask yourself. Yet it is hard. Things that were once simple to manage become overwhelming. Everything is too much effort, too hard. All tasks are Sisyphean–undertaken as if they were to be done uphill, across an icy terrain, while carrying an awkward heavy package. Any single misstep brings everything crashing back down.

And asking for help is out of the question when things get bad. “It’s just your brain, you can get over it.” “You’re just being lazy; you don’t deserve help.”

These are, of course, things that I know are lies. But that doesn’t make them any less powerful. And fighting those lies is exhausting, which just gives us a nasty little vicious circle. After all, if I don’t want to be around myself, why would I want to subject anyone else to me?

So, that’s where we’ve been.

The future? I’ve got a change in meds–which takes time. And little things to look forward to. Things I am going to hug to myself and cherish. And hopefully one day I’ll realize that I’ve eventually reached the top of the hill, and that the ice has melted and although it’s not necessarily smooth sailing, it’s okay.

For now, I just keep reminding myself that it will, eventually, be okay again. Eventually.

Written by Michelle at 10:35 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Hiking WV: High Falls of Cheat

For years now we’ve been meaning to hike to the High Falls of Cheat, but never managed to get there. So we decided to check another trail off our list last week.

High Falls of Cheat Trail
Distance: 7.6 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 2927-3701 feet (1469′ gain) ~10% grade on the mountain

See that ridge-line in the distance? That’s we we’re going up and over.


It was a bit chilly when we set out.


And even cooler along the ridge-line.


Down the other side of the mountain, and after a 2/3rds mile walk down the railroad tracks (which kinda sucked, to be honest), we came to the falls.


Shavers Fork River


Here’s the the graph of the elevation.

High Falls of Cheat Elevation

Written by Michelle at 8:14 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon Trail

Last year we went hiked past Douglas Falls several times but it was incredibly busy, so I didn’t bother with the scramble down.

Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation: 2327-2648 feet (383′ gain)
Trail: Blackwater Canyon Trail

For some reason, we didn’t see anyone on this hike. Funny that.




If you go far enough down the trail, and peer through the trees, you can see Lindy Point.


Unexpected finding.


Written by Michelle at 8:05 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Hiking WV: Cacapon State Park

We took time off last week and did some hiking, which was marvelous (and desperately needed).

One place we went was Cacapon State Park.

Location: Cacapon State Park
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 1079-2287 feet (1311′ gain), 20% grade on the uphill, 23% grade on the downhill
Trails: Ziller Loop, Ziller, and Central Trails

Up up up!



And now down!



Also, I managed to find the bog on the way back to the car. (“This looks like a shortcut!”)

Cacapon State Park Ziller Elevations

Written by Michelle at 7:53 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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