Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 reading list

So, here's the reading list for 2010. I've added a category (Inspirational/Spiritual) since 2009's list included The Bible and that's obviously very inspirational and spiritual. You'll see some old favorites and some books that are probably as new to you as they are to me. All are highly recommended by book critics.

Classical Fiction:
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The Count of Monte Christo, by Alexander Dumas
The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Strangers On A Train, by Patricia Highsmith
The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
Anatomy of a Murder, by Robert Traver
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James Cain

Means of Ascent (LBJ), by Robert Caro
The Diary of A Young Girl, by Anne Frank
A Narrative of the Life of Davy Crockett, by Davy Crockett
Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions, by Giles Kemp
Eisenhower, Soldier & President: Stephen Ambrose

Historical Fiction:
Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck

Science Fiction:
1984, by George Orwell
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
Neuromancer, by William Gibson
Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin

The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck
I & Thou, by Martin Buber
Waiting for God, by Simone Weil
The Story Of A Soul, by St. Theres of Lisieux
Letters And Papers From Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Plus, four bestsellers that pop up in the year and 12 book club selections.

Oh my, this is a big list! But I'm determined. The Pillars of the Earth is calling my name now.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best books I read in 2009

Of the 51 books I read this year, here are my favorites by genre:

Classical fiction: The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Science fiction: Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

Mystery/Suspense: The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, by John LeCarre

Biographies/Autobiographies: John Adams, by David McCullough

Historical Fiction: The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe

Best-Seller Fiction: The Gold Coast, by Nelson DeMille

Book Club Selection: My Life In France, by Julia Child

I guarantee you'll find something to love on this list!

* Full 2009 book list on side bar

** I'm posting my 2010 reading list tomorrow

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Report--The Path to Power

I finished the final book on my 2009 reading list: The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1). This is one massive book. {Embarassed to say I think I read this book before but didn't realize it until I was at least a third of the way through the 960 pages}.

Author Robert Caro has made writing bios of LBJ his life's work. There are already three volumes and Caro says a fourth will be published in 2012.

This volume is as much about Texas and its history as LBJ. Caro writes vividly about farm life in the Texas hills during the Depression--no electricity, no running water, poverty beyond belief and no way out. Texas looms large in shaping LBJ.

Johnson is alternatingly fascinating, complicated, endearing, and completely disgusting.

Can't wait to get to Volume 2.

P.S. Tomorrow I'm going to publish a list of my favorite books from 2009

We know why you fly

1) Parents warn American embassy that their Nigerian son has become a radicalized Islamist and worry that he'll strap a bomb on himself and blow Americans up
2) Great Britain revokes Nigerian man's Visa because he tried to enter GB on "false pretenses"
3) Nigerian's name is included in database of known Islamic terrorists, but database watch list doesn't stop him from traveling to U.S.
4) Nigerian man buys ticket to Detroit with cash
5) Nigerian man boards flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with only carry on luggage
6) Nigerian terroist backed by Al Qaeda tries to blow up plane over Detroit

Sounds to me like a bunch of giant red flags were ignored and we're lucky this guy's plan was thwarted by an alert passenger.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The "B" Word

I used to be proud of my home state--Nebraska.

Great college football
Low unemployment
Wonderful schools
Affordable living

Now I'm embarrassed that Senator Ben Nelson (D, Nebraska) has made such a sleazy deal in exchange for his yes vote on the health care bill, that the selling of his vote has been dubbed the "Cornhusker Kickback".

But, of course, Gentle Ben is not alone. Seems this bill that is opposed by 67% of the public is being passed by 60 Democrat Senators after a series of backroom deals. Here are a few that have been made public:

Landrieu: $300 million for her home state of Louisiana for additional Medicaid benefits (Louisiana Purchase)
Dodd: $100 million for a new hospital in Connecticut
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming: Higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors
Iowa: Higher Medicare payments to hospitals
Vermont (and other yet-to-be-named states): $10 billion for free medical clinics
Pennsylvania, New York and Florida: Protections for their Medicare Advantage beneficiaries even though beneficiaries in other states will face cuts

Pronunciation: \ˈbrīb\
Function: noun

1 : money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
2 : something that serves to induce or influence

P.S. I don't know whether to applaud my current Dem Sen (Claire McCaskill) for not making the list, or encourage her to get in line and get some of the goodies before they're all gone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our family

Last night was our annual holiday party for the Sunday night church group.

OOOhh it was so much fun.

Mr. C and I made lasagne...

...we had plenty of Christmas desserts...

...and then we sang Christmas Carols in front of the fire.

All very Norman Rockwellish.

I was so proud of Mr. C's welcoming comments. He talked about how we're all born into a family, but this is a group of folks we've chosen as family.

Nice. Very nice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Camo baby jacket

bsj 2
Originally uploaded by katec44
Here's the "baby surprise jacket" I made for my cousin Jessica's first baby. I'm so excited for Jessica and her husband Cliff!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Welcome back, George Bailey!

This weekend we'll start watching our Christmas movies. On the marquee:

White Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Christmas in Connecticut
The Bishop's Wife
Miracle on 34th Street
It's a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story
and--new this year--Four Christmases

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unfortunately, she had matching shoes

In the word's of a friend of mine, Mobama's Nobel Peace Prize frock was "beyond hideous".

Coming out of the Woods-work

Tiger's extramarital paramours now number 10--some sources say 11. Double-digit cheating on his wife moves him into the official Sleaze Bag Of The Year spot, topping even John-Boy Edwards (which I didn't think was possible).

Way to go Tiger. You've set another record at a young age.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This is a new item in our snack machine at the office.


Would anyone ever eat teriyaki flavored "beef nuggets"? Thank goodness the label says they're extra tender.

Here are the ingredients: Beef,Sugar,Salt,Soy sauce,Maltodextrin,Flavour enhancer(monosodium glutamate), Flavourings , Hydrolyzed corn gluten,Paprika, Antioxidant(sodium erythorbate),Preservative(sodium nitrite),Smoke Flavor

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009


I wanted to share something non-fattening with you to help celebrate this holiday weekend. I decided on this delicious clip from the fun Cary Grant movie, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House." Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All that glitters

I don't usually like Mobama's fashion sense. But, I give her props for this get up:
Thank goodness she didn't don the ever-present biker belt.

"Every time a woman leaves off something she looks better..." Will Rogers

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” [Plato]

This week the government issued new guidelines for mammograms and pap smears.

Apparently after decades of telling women that annual mammograms and annual pap smears save lives, we're now being told that we should limit mammograms to every two years after age 50 and virtually eliminate pap smears.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) website, "...the USPSTF [U.S. Preventive Services Task Force] says the actual number of lives saved is not enough to recommend widespread screening," although they would increase survivorship by 15%.

I guess if you or I are among the 15% of possible survivors, we might debate that.

Funny, just six months ago the same task force issued a warning that the # of women getting mammograms had dropped and this could result in more women dying from breast cancer. Hmmmm, what changed?

Speaking of change. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now says women under 30 should have a cervical cancer screening every two years instead of annually and women over thirty should only get tested every three years.

If you didn't believe Barack-star's healthcare reform would lead to rationing believe it now.

Why start with women's services? Well, by all actuarial accounts women live about five years longer than men--thus, routine preventative healthcare for women costs more than it does for men. Limiting the number of recommended tests translates to limiting the cost. Note that if this nebulous USPSTF board with nary a breast cancer specialist to be found--not even an oncologist(!)--makes this recommendation now it doesn't carry with it Barack-star's fingerprints.

Go ahead put government-run healthcare in place. Then, guess what? Previously issued government guidelines can be followed. Rationing accomplished. Women's healthcare diminished. Lives needlessly lost.

This is the way it begins. Quietly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Line 11, Page 122, Section 1303

According to Gateway Pundit a recent CNN poll found that 61% of Americans oppose tax-funded abortions and 63% of Americans oppose most or all abortions. Why then would the Senate require a monthly fee for abortion coverage in its nationalized health care plan?

Gateway Pundit quotes the GOP Leader Blog:

...a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan. It’s right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under “Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.” The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.

Apparently the government will assess a monthly premium on everyone in the government-run plan. The money will then be used to pay for elective abortions.

Fact is, even if abortion violates your conscience you'll be paying for them under this plan.

Maybe the government gurus could set up a `conscientious objector' status for those of us who don't want our hard-earned money spent on what we consider murder.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Media war on Palin hits new low

I'm thinking about getting a subscription to Newsweek just so I can cancel it.

This cover is insulting and degrading to all professional women. Tasteless in content and presentation.

No wonder the magazine's circulation has dropped 52% in ten years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Go Big Red!

As of my birthday gift from Mr. C:

What would be better for a girl from Nebraska, but her very own Huskers' Snuggie?
The back view is a little weird. In the advertisements they never tell you that cute little snuggie looks like this:I suppose it's reversible, but I prefer to wear my snuggie like it's pictured on the box.

And, here I am in my Snuggie dreaming about another national title for my beloved Big Red--and how I'll look today when Nebraska beats Kansas.

Wrapping up our birthday month, here's a photo from John's family birthday dinner with Mom and James, James' grandpa Art, Art's wife Larraine, and Art & Larraine's buddy Reid.
And, a photo from the sushi dinner with just the two of us. Check out the cute little sushi boat.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

Wait until you see what Mr. C got me for my birthday. It's not appropriate to post a photo until football Saturday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day!

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." Elmer Davis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"It's not a crime to call Al Qaeda, is it?"

This is a joke, right?

treason  /ˈtrizən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [tree-zuhn]–noun
1. the offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
2. a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state.
3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stranger than fiction

Remember when it seemed like an episode of 24 could never happen in real life?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Birthday Week

It's been birthday week around here.

First--and best--my grandmother turned 99-years-old on Halloween. I cannot tell you how cool I think that is. You have to know my grandmother to understand. She and her little dog Lucy live by themselves in a nice little house. She has tons of friends. She's very involved in her church--particularly in a benevolence program that she organized and has managed for many, many years. When I talked to her on her birthday morning she told me she's not telling people her age. So hush, hush. Please don't be ratting me out. As you can see from her picture you would never guess the year she was born.

Then it was Mr. C's birthday. We celebrated Sunday night with a big family dinner, then again on Monday with just the two of us. We went to I ♥ Mr. Sushi. [Terrible name, good sushi].

Yesterday was my brother Steve's birthday. He lives in New Jersey and he's one of the political liberals I have to deal with at family gatherings. I sent him a Happy Birthday text message with a note that I hoped he wasn't voting for that slime ball Jon Corzine. I haven't heard from him today, so I don't know how he's feeling post birthday and post election.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Valerie Jarrett--unplugged

Seems Barack-star's right-hand woman-Valerie Jarrett-got caught in a little semantics problem when she tried to make the case that the West Wing's War with FOX News is justified because FOX is biased. But what about left wing MSNBC, Campbell Brown asked her. Aren't they biased? Why haven't you called them out?

Sputter, sputter. Uh, well. No. Yes. Not always. Maybe. I was for it before I was against it.

`Well,' [apparently forgetting she's no longer a community organizer, but an advisor to the most powerful man in the free world] `we speak truth to power' Jarrett replied. Uh, Valerie. You are power.

You just have to hear this Orwellian mess for yourself:

Take away: It's bias when they don't agree with us. [White House]

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost." Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween from the family

Not here to talk about the past

I'll admit it, I've never been a Tony La Russa fan. I'm more of a "baseball is a little boys' game for big boys" purist. I hate Tony's overmanaging, batting the pitcher 8th, lefty/righty matchups, bad dye job, defending the indefensible (Chris Duncan anyone?), California residency, `he's a lawyer', endless tinkering with the line-up, prickly press conferences--all topped off by this year's three and out post-season play.

About this time every year I start praying Tony will just stay on the west coast and tend to his pets. I'm sure he'd be much happier living with his wife and daughters fulltime and making PSAs in Hollywood for PETA.

Unfortunately, Cardinals fans heard today that Tony's coming back. If that wasn't bad enough he's bringing Mark `I'm Not Hear To Talk About The Past' McGwire with him as the hitting coach. That's right, bring back a 263 lifetime hitter (probably an enhanced # at that) to teach our guys how to hit. Maybe we should have given MM a trial run in September when the bats went silent just in time for the playoffs. MM could at least relate since he had 1596 strikeouts of his own--far outnumbering his 1,414 RBIs.

So now we have the disgraced Mark McGwire slithering back on the payroll, side-by-side with his Manager/Enabler Tony LaRussa.

I used to give TLR the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. I'm done with him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My weekend plans, what about yours?

Dinner with Mr. C

Crafting with Wendy

Knitting class

Hockey game//Go Blues!

Halloween Party

Apple pie

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The chosen one chooses

No matter what you think of FOX News or Barack-star, this administration's attempts to marginalize the most-watched cable news channel reek of over-reaching for control, intimidation, and manipulation of what should be a free press. It also indicates we've elected a rather thin-skinned president who prefers to be hailed over being challenged.

From Just One Minute:
October 22, 2009
Who Else Has Obama Endorsed?

To whom can America turn in these troubled times, as Hope and Change appear to be foundering? We can turn to Obama for answers!

Having explained to us that Fox News cannot be trusted, Obama has taken the additional and important step of endorsing certain pundits, opinion leaders, and "journalists" as President Approved. Who is on the honor roll:

Here's a curious turn in the White House vs. Fox News fight.

On Monday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were among several people who attended an off-the-record briefing with Pres. Obama at the White House. Sources tell us other attendees at the two-and-a-half hour chat included Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Gwen Ifill of PBS and Gloria Borger of CNN. Perhaps not surprisingly, no one from Fox News was in the room.

...Update: The White House has sent TVNewser the complete list of those who attended the off-the-record briefing Monday: Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, Ron Brownstein, John Dickerson, Rachel Maddow, Frank Rich, Jerry Seib, Maureen Dowd, Keith Olbermann, Bob Herbert, Gloria Borger, and Gwen Ifill. Several members of the staff also attended.

There you have it. Now we know where to look for President Approved Punditry.

It must have been exciting for Ron Brownstein to meet heavy journalistic talents like Maddow and Olbermann.

Interestingly, Barack-star's team cried foul on FOX News specifically for its prime-time opinion program hosts (Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly)...but willingly held a secret 2-1/2 hour meeting with MSNBC's left wing opinionators (Maddow and Olbermann) and other like-minded journalists.

There really should be some outrage about the executive branch of government trying to muzzle the press simply because they don't like what's being said.

Remember the First Amendment to our constitution? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In the words of great Americans:
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson

“The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it.” Grace Kelly

And, finally, ponder this:

North Korea: No independent journalists; televisions and radios locked on government-approved frequencies. All news re: Kim Jong Il is positive

Libya: No independent broadcast or print media

Burma: Citizens risk arrest for listening to the BBC

Cuba: The Cuban constitution grants the Communist Party the right to control the press; it recognizes “freedom of speech and the press in accordance with the goals of the socialist society.” The government owns and controls all media outlets and restricts Internet access.

Syria: The media is under heavy state control and influence. Despite efforts to privatize the press, newspapers that overstep the mark in their criticism are shut down or their editions confiscated.

Singapore: The Singapore media is a mouthpiece for the government. Criticisms of government leaders and policies are unheard of in the mainstream media.

China: Restrictions on the press were tightened in China last year. More journalists are imprisoned for their work in China than any other country in the world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pet Peeve of the Day. Period overuse.

Just. Stop. It. It's. Very. Annoying. Thank. You.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coffee break on Kona

Next up? A stop on the west side of the Big Island. Kona, Hawaii. Kona is famous for big game fishing, resorts, golf, the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, and of course—Kona coffee.

Kona was also the home of Hawaii's royal family. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely cool that the Hawaiian Islands were once ruled by a King.

We had a pretty laid back day in Kona. Shopping, strolling the sidewalks, people watching. John bought an Hawaiian shirt with surfboards on it. Very nice. My mom collects turtles (any kind but live) and Kona is rife with sea turtle (honu) motif items, so we picked up a few. I guess the honu are prolific on this part of the Big Island.

And then we stopped for a nice cup of Kona coffee. Delicious. If you love coffee—this is heaven. It’s the Maserati. The HD version of regular coffee. The Neiman Marcus. The Taj Majal. You get the idea. Apparently dry days, misty afternoons, and volcanic soil are the keys to growing some of the best coffee beans in the world. Kona coffee is grown in two mountain areas—Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa. Some of the coffee trees were planted as long ago as 1918! The very first coffee tree cuttings were brought to Kona in 1828 by Reverend Samuel Ruggles, an American missionary. Ruggles brought the cuttings from Oahu to plant in his front yard as an ornamental plant. Because it’s so exclusive and soooooo good it’s also really expensive. A pound of 100% Kona coffee can sell for upward of $40/pound. We bought a pound, but John says we can only drink one cup each on Saturday mornings. If you can make 32 cups of coffee out of one pound of coffee that means we're good through about mid February.

While we were drinking our coffee outside a little coffee shop owned by former Michiganians and watching the surfers across the way, a Gekko scampered across our table. He must be used to tourists, because he wasn't camera shy.

And then we made it back to our ship. For more relaxation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Land, Ho! Hilo!

After Vancouver we spent 5 days cruising in the Pacific. Once we lost sight of land Friday night we didn’t see another ship, island, plane, bird, nothing….until Thursday morning when we pulled into Hilo, Hawaii.

What did we do on the ship? Relaxed! Oh yes, we did! We read, did yoga, got massages, ate, slept, made friends, went to the pool, knitted (me), enjoyed afternoon tea, watched movies, stared out at the ocean, daydreamed, and forgot about work and responsibilities.

On Hilo we were met at the pier by one of John’s clients. Ross and his wife Pat showed us around the island for half the day.

Interestingly, Hilo has been hit by two tsunamis. After the first in 1946 and the second in 1960, Hilo was rebuilt so a park and roadway are between the shoreline and commercial and government buildings. Hilo has black, rocky, craggy beaches.

Hilo was first put on the map, so to speak, by the sugar industry. Sadly, the sugar plantations in Hawaii have pretty much shut down and moved their industry south of the border where the labor is cheaper. No more little C&H girl making her pure cane sugar.

During the famous King Kamehameha's rule in the 1700s Hilo was where he built his ships used to conquer the rest of the islands.

Pat and Ross took us on Banyan Drive which is kind of Hilo’s Walk of Fame. 60-70 years ago celebrities planted banyan trees along the drive. Banyans are trees with aerial roots that hang down from their branches until they reach the ground and another trunk slowly sprouts up. The limbs are filled with wild orchids and ferns. Some of the well known folks who planted banyan trees: Babe Ruth, FDR, Amelia Earhart, Richard Nixon, Cecil B. DeMille.

After that we went to Rainbow Falls. The 80 foot waterfall drops over a cave that’s said to be the home of Hina, the mother of the god Maui. In the same park area is Peepee Falls and Boiling Pots. (Great names, huh?) Water falls over Peepee Falls and flows into an area of rapids known as Boiling Pots where the water rushes through old lava rocks and lava tubes and appears to bubble up or boil as it makes it way downstream. Pat says a lot of people have drowned in Boiling Pots. What a way to go.

We also dropped by the Hilo Farmer’s Market. Pat, Ross and John didn’t think too much was happening there so we didn’t stay long. I was amazed at the fresh flowers and plants. The orchids! The poppies! The hibiscus! The ferns! The palms! So beautiful. I wanted to take them all home with me.

We topped off our island visit with stops at Big Island Candies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut plant. Macadamia trees don’t produce nuts until they’re at least seven years old, but they’ll continue to produce for 100 years or so. Another interesting macadamia nut fact? They’re toxic to dogs. A jar of macadamias this big would cost about 4 million dollars. It would cost another 2 million to send it back to the mainland.

Before we left Hilo, Pat bought us real leis. You cannot imagine how good they smelled! Back on the ship a lot of people were wearing fake leis—ha, ha, we were special.