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Monday, March 31, 2008

Reasons I Will Not Be Blogging Daily in April

I love lists. In fact, I make at least one every single day. Usually it's more like two or three...and sometimes four. To-do lists (both at work and at home), grocery lists, reading lists, Flylady lists, lists of my future kids' names--crazy, I know, but they help keep me on track, and I get such a great sense of accomplishment when I check off an item! love of lists was the main motivation for my decision to join up with the Nablopomo idea and blog daily during March (the theme was lists).

But here's why I won't be doing that again in April...

-April's theme is letters, which is interesting, but I'm just not as into letters as I am into lists.

-While mobile blogging is handy (especially at 11 p.m. when you realize you haven't blogged, and you have no computer access), the way mine is set up, you have to include a picture, which is sometimes challenging. Also, it's tiring to text-type your entire post.

-I thought I would have tons of ideas, but it turns out that average, everyday to-do lists aren't always that interesting. (You can only say "go to the bank, get Jason's hair cut, bathe Fred, blog" so many times. Plus, it makes me look bad when I procrastinate, and an item has to be carried over to the next day's list.)

-Frankly, my life is just not that interesting, folks. :)

So...I won't be blogging daily again in April, but I'm not sorry I joined up with this challenge. It's actually made me re-think my blog a bit, and I'm going to try to do a better job of including the more interesting highlights of life as well as some (hopefully) good pictures.

OK, that's it for March. And that's probably it for at least a few more days...maybe even a week. (gasp!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

List of Ingredients for a Perfect Day

4 blueberry pancakes for brunch.
3 hours of perfect spring weather.
2 delicious items from The Cheesecake Factory.
1 dear friend that I was so excited to see!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Got It All For $1

1. Carrot bag of Reese's Pieces
2. Chocolate marshmallow bunny
3. Chocolate caramel marshmallow egg
4. Snickers egg
5. Cadbury egg
6. More Peeps than I should eat in a week, but I'm sure I'll finish them off anyway.

I love Easter candy sales!

Friday, March 28, 2008

From Memphis to Columbus to YouTube

A few quick links for your Friday...

I'd be curious to hear some local reaction to the Memphis mayor's plan to close five public libraries.

A cool article about blues singer Ma Rainey's house in Columbus, GA. Columbus has a special place in my heart. My sister-in-law is from there, and I did an internship there during college. (Plus, you can't beat Minnie's for some good Southern food.)

This guy in California is collecting library cards from all over the world. I guess we all collect something!

And, just for fun...librarianship back in the day

List of Botanic Garden Pics

Jason and I had been hearing great things about Fort Worth's Botanic Gardens, and we finally made it during Spring Break. It was incredible, and we plan to go back soon! Here's our photo essay. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March Madness

I just *heart* March Madness. But alas...we don't have cable, and I truly think I miss watching sports more than anything else.

But that doesn't stop me from following the tournament online and, of course, filling out my brackets (which I usually do poorly...but it's fun anyway)!

So far, only four of my picks actually made it to the Sweet 16, so I thought I should go ahead and give my final four picks before things get any worse! haha

Texas (who I'm picking to go all the way--gotta be loyal to the new home team!)
North Carolina
Vanderbilt (which, of course, lost in the first round to Siena--who?)
Connecticut (which also lost in the first round to San Diego)

We'll see!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Air Music

Since we work, go to school and live all at the same place, since we just have one car, and since we really like each other, Jason and I end up spending a lot of time together, which is nice.

For the most part.

But, if you see my little personality profile down on the right-hand side of the blog, you'll see that I am an introvert. (Sometimes I think that doesn't come across here. haha) I'm not unfriendly; I just need my alone time. Jason is the same way, but that's something that we haven't gotten a lot of since we moved to Texas. So when we DO get our alone time, we really take advantage of it.

For me, that usually means cranking up the music. Loud. Really loud. And since we live in an apartment complex with close neighbors and thin walls...the best place, I think, to crank 'em up is in the car. (Even though that means I can't shake it when I crank it.) ;P

So I read a great blog post today that really resonated with me about "music that needs air." This is basically music that you gotta listen to with the sunroof open and the windows rolled down. Oh, this is sooo my kind of listening, especially when the weather is as perfectly perfect as it is today.

So, here is my non-comprehensive, semi-off-the-top-of-my-head list of music that needs air. What's YOURS??

Accidentally in Love (Counting Crows)
Bubbly (Colbie Caillat)
Doctor My Eyes (Jackson Browne)
Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles)
If She Knew What She Wants (The Bangles)
Keeping the Faith (Billy Joel)
Let It Be (Paul McCartney)
Meet Virginia (Train)
Morning Song (Jewel)
Soak Up the Sun (Sheryl Crow)
Soulshine (The Allman Brothers)
The Sweet Escape (Gwen Stefani)
Sweet Home Alabama (Lynrd Skynrd)
Tomatoes (Menage)

And pretty much anything by Jimmy Buffett and Tom Petty

OK, I'll take my convertible now, thank you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

28 Questions

I borrowed (and amended) this list from Jess over at SockProblems because I'm running out of blog ideas! This blogging daily stuff is not for me--no more after this month is over!

1. Any nickname? Tiff, Tiffy, Dumplin (my dad), Old Girl (Fred)
2. Mother's name? Janice
3. Favorite drink? Coffeecoffeecoffee
4. Tattoos? No, but I want one for my 30th birthday--I'm starting the persuasion early and hoping to wear down Jason's resolve by then.
5. Body piercings? Just ears. The belly button hole has grown up. But sometimes I miss it. :)
6. How much do you love your job? Let's see...My boss is amazing. The students who work for me are, too, and I'm learning some new skills and being challenged every day. Overall, it's pretty cool.
7. Birthplace? Florence, Alabama
8. Favorite vacation spot? These days, we're vacationing in Sweet Home, but we really like the mountains. And I wouldn't object to returning to Europe.
9. Ever been to Africa? Nope, but that would be incredible.
10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? haha Yeah. One of the perks of being a grown-up.
11. Ever been on TV? Yeah, back in my reporting days.
12. Ever steal any traffic signs? Nope...but I might have lifted a traffic cone or two.
13. Ever been in car accident? Try 10. Sad, I know. None since we moved to Texas!
14. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door
15. Favorite salad dressing? I usually like the "house" dressing, but at my house, I really like Ken's Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion. Of course, good ol' oil and vinegar is delicious, too.
16. Favorite pie? Lemon Ice Box
17. Favorite number? 212
18. Favorite movie? Too hard. This week, I like Dirty Dancing.
19. Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving
20. Favorite dessert? Like a favorite movie, it's too hard to pick! Today, I would enjoy some leftover Easter Peeps.
21. Favorite food? Pineapple pizza--that's not hard to decide.
22. Favorite day of the week? Saturday.
23. Favorite brand of body wash? Bath and Body Works--I vary up the flavors
24. Favorite toothpaste? Arm & Hammer, but sometimes I buy the kid superhero stuff for fun.
25. Favorite scent? On me--Aveda's Yatra Pure-Fume Spirit; On others--just a clean, soapy smell. :) Rain, freshly cut grass, and baking cookies all smell nice, too.

26. What do you do to relax? Breathe. And drink coffee.
27. Have you ever been skinny dipping? Not yet!
28. How do you see yourself in 10 years? This question scares me!!! I don't know...maybe skinny dipping! haha Um...still married to Jason...maybe writing from home with a wild pack of Bichons running around...and MAYBE with a kiddo or two (but that scares me, too)!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Forgery of Venus

The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber

Disillusioned with society? With your career? With your life? Why not try an alternative consciousness? Participate in a drug study of Salvinorin A, and experience the different lives that are now available.
Results not guaranteed.

Chaz Wilmot was disillusioned--with his personal life, with the art world and with his place in it. So he wasn't too hesitant about participating in a drug study when an old college buddy-turned-doctor approached him. What Chaz didn't know was how far and deep the drug would take him into the past.

"Maybe there's a big consciousness mall in the sky, where they all kind of float around, there for the taking, so that we can experience the consciousnesses of other people."

Fortunately for Chaz, a struggling artist who is too good for his time, he is able to experience the consciousness of Velazquez, one of the great masters of painting.

"I really liked being Velazquez. I remembered vividly what it was like to paint like him, I'd actually done that portrait, and I thought if they could put that experience into powder form, no one would ever look at crack cocaine."

Unfortunately for Chaz, he is not the only one who is aware of his newfound abilities. He begins to wonder how in control of his situation he really is, and he comes to a point where he doesn't know if he can trust his art dealer, his father-in-law, his new patron or even his ex-wife. And he begins to wonder if life is really better as himself or as Velazquez.

Gruber does an amazing job building the suspense of Chaz's story and bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. There were times when I couldn't even figure out exactly what his reality was, and at those times, I had trouble putting down the book! There are a few rabbit trails, but they serve to more fully develop the story. He also includes absolutely lovely descriptions of art and painting.

Perhaps more importantly, Gruber will make you question how much of our society and culture has been manufactured for us and how much of it is actually genuine. What is sacred? What is art? I came away with a better understanding of these things. It is a thoughtful book, and days after finishing it, it is still on my mind, and I appreciate that.

Check out Michael Gruber's perspective in my very first Author Q&A in the post following this one!

Favorite quotes...

Anytime the artists generate a little life in a neighborhood--the rich come to suck at it and make it dead again.

I felt perfectly okay, really good, calm and kind of blank, and again without the usual internal dialogue going on, the crap that constantly fills up our heads, and it turns out, you know, that without that script running, you can really focus down on the world around you, and if you do that everything is really interesting. Everything.

When you spend time with desperate, starving, brutalized people who pass their short...lives wailing over dying children, you tend to lose patience with brilliant neurotics who can't seem to find a way to be happy.

The Forgery of Venus-Q&A

I was so excited to be able to interview Michael Gruber, the author of The Forgery of Venus. (Read the review in the post above.) Here is our Q&A:

I was interested that you combined the idea of alternate lives/time travel with the art world. What was your inspiration for this combination?
The protagonist, Wilmot, is a painter who has always felt he was born out of his time. His character and talent suit him to be a painter of the 17th century, not the 21st, so it was natural to give him a drug that enabled him to imagine he was fulfilling this impossible destiny. That a drug that does this actually exists (or so the Indians who use it believe) made it an obvious plot device.

You seem to know a lot about the art business as well as painting itself. Do you have a background in art, or did you just do a lot of research? How did you go about any research?
I minored in art in college, but I'm married to the painter Elizabeth Winder-Noyes, so there's a lot of art talk going on all the time at our house. As for research, I mainly just do Web searches in on-line bookstores and buy a bunch of books. Then I use the references in those books to find more books. Also, I just make up a lot of the facts I use. I mean, it's fiction.

Was there a particular reason you chose to feature Velazquez as the painter Chaz "channeled?"
Yes, I knew a painter when I was younger who could actually paint like Velázquez and painted a portrait of me in that style. Also I was entranced by the legend and mystery of the Rokeby Venus and thought it would be a good picture to hang a story on. The original title of the book was "Painting Like Velázquez."

I was fascinated by one of the novel's themes--that of ambiguous moral areas/choices. Did you want the reader to come away with a sense of what's right and wrong in certain circumstances, or did you intentionally create an overall sense of moral ambiguity?
I believe in moral choice and I'd like to think I write what John Gardner once called moral fiction. But I dislike the sort of simple judgment to underlies the typical melodrama--the hero is good and the villain is bad, and so on. It's not so simple in real life.

Another theme seemed to be the idea of--in society--what is real versus what is manipulated. Can you talk a little more about how you developed this idea throughout the novel and what inspired it?
First of all, reality is always a product of some manipulation. It's a mental construct. Within a fairly narrow compass, in our society, science dictates what is real according to established statistical protocols, but aside from that we see and feel what we've been taught to see and feel by our culture. I tried to illustrate this in the 17th century scenes. Someone like Velazquez simply did not see and feel the way we see and feel, and his art expresses that difference. For example, we don't have nobles ruling us any more and we believe in principle that everyone is equal in value as a person. But Velazquez didn't believe this. He saw the nobility as gloriously different in kind from the common run of men. All the power of his genius was focused on making a family of fairly dim, unattractive people seem like gods on earth, and his chief desire was to join their number as a noble. Now, there really are underlying facts, and if the reality given credence by a society strays too far from those facts, trouble will follow. I touch on this in the book, with respect to economics. Spain was on the brink of ruin in Velazquez's time and no one could figure out why, because everyone believed that if a nation had a lot of gold it was doing great and Spain had more gold than anyone else, and the largest empire, and yet its was more and more impoverished every year. Now we understand that Spain fell behind because it had essentially no economy, the gold went to pay the army and support the court, and the rest of the country went to hell.

Why did you choose for Chaz to be a fairly consistent drug user (before participating in the study)? Do you feel this brings his memory issues even more into question for the reader?
There are a lot of people around who are stoned essentially all the time, while still being productive members of society. In the past, people were drunk all the time, and now its drugs of various types as well as booze. It didn't seem like a stretch to make Chaz a doper. As far as memory goes, none of us, straight or doped, have much real access to our memories, so-called. We make it all up on the fly.

How much can we all trust our own memories?
Not much, I think. Significant events stick harder to the memory than less significant ones, but the whole business of what is significant changes as we change throughout our lives. Memories of youth tend to get keener as we age, but this may have little to do with what really happened back then. If you want to recall stuff, keep a journal.

Is there anything else I've not asked that you would like to share about the novel or your writing process?
The intersection between art and insanity is a vexed one, as is the one between art and commerce. To be honest, I’m not sure I understood what I was getting into when I started writing this book. It turned out to be a much harder novel to write than I anticipated, because in the end the society of which I’m a part doesn’t have good answers to the questions I raised., most especially the one about what the purpose of art is in a world dominated by violence and greed. The past offered an answer, but we have still to find our own. That’s why I wrote this book.

"List" of Easter Pics

So...I'm hoping this counts as a list. We had a fun Easter, so I thought I'd share a few pictures.

We'll start with a nice one of Fred and Jason...

Then one of Fred and me...He was OK as long as I had the ears on...

But when we tried to put them on him...

Now he's just mad, and we're cracking up. Bad parents.

Still mad. And it's still funny.

Better now that the ears are on Pig. He actually liked his little Easter scarf.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Great Things About Easter

Chocolate in all forms and fashions, jelly beans, eggs (seeing a pattern here?), dressing up Fred, dressing up myself, family times and all that...but the greatest thing about Easter is celebrating that Jesus died and came back to life!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Break Day 2

Lovely day consisting of perfect weather, sleeping late, cleaning house, chilling with Fred, napping, visits to Hobby Lobby, bookstores, grocery, TGIFriday's, Blockbuster, and a late night run to Krispy Kreme. Now we're all as sleepy as Fred!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break Begins!

The first of several stops on our Spring Break tour of Fort Worth. Also on the list...museums, botanical gardens, downtown, and maybe a bookstore or two.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rules of the Rural South

So...I don't agree with all of these, but they were too funny not to share. My comments are included. :)

(And this is a picture from Spring Park in Tuscumbia, which I consider rural. Made me so homesick my stomach hurt.)

The Rules of the Rural South

1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

2. Turn your cap right, your head isn't crooked.

3. Let's get this straight; it's called a "gravel road." I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

4. They are cattle. That's why they smell to you. They smell like money to us. Get over it.

5. So you have a $70,000 car. We're impressed. We have $250,000 cotton strippers that are driven only three weeks a year.

6. So every person in the South waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

7. Yeah, we eat catfish and crawfish. You really want sushi and caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.

8. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age. (And this is not always true.-Tiff)

9. We say "sir and ma'am", "please and thank you", "excuse me and I'm sorry" when we are wrong or impolite. Do not make the mistake of thinking it makes us weak. It's just good up-bringing.

10. No, there's no "vegetarian special" on the menu. You can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham and turkey. (Sad but true!-Tiff)

11. You bring "coke" into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice. You bring "Mary Jane" into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair. (I thought this was sooo funny, but is it really accurate with all the meth labs we hear about now??-Tiff)

12. High School Football is as important here as the pros...and a dang site more fun to watch.

13. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards -- it frightens the fish, and aggravates the alligators. (I'm not a golfer, so I don't even understand what this means.)

14. Colleges? We have them all over. We have Universities, State Universities, and Vo-techs (and in Alabama more community colleges than anything). They come outta there with an education, and they still wave at everybody when they come for the holidays.

15. Don't think that since we talk slow, we think slow. You may be in for a surprise. (True!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tiff's Hymnal

Some of the Baptist folks have released a new hymnal with "theologically sound" psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. I probably won't agree with all of their choices, :) but it did get me thinking about the role certain hymns have played in my life.

I grew up singing and playing hymns. I remember singing "In the Garden" and "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" with my parents and all the joys of 5th Sunday singings in college. I'm not a big fan of the older stuff in the Sunday morning worship service anymore (unless it's given a more contemporary sound), but I still love belting out a good "Our God, He is Alive" on the piano now and then.

It's also ironic that I don't enjoy singing this style in church as much, because, for some reason, just about every year one OLD hymn will really stand out to me, and its message will stick with me for months on end. During the past few years, my list of hymns has included:

"Be Thou My Vision"
"O, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
"How Firm a Foundation"

Can we get any older? How about this year's?

"Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy"

I just can't get this one out of my head. The version I have is in a gorgeous minor key, so it has a bit of a haunting sound anyway. But it really reminds me of why I need Christ in my life--for my most basic need of salvation--but also for the other "ten thousand" things He offers. This is the first verse and chorus...

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus,

He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Then another verse I like because it shows that we can and should come just as we are (not to quote another song)...

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Anyway, didn't mean to go into a sermon...that's just what I'm thinking about today.

What are some of YOUR favorite songs or hymns? (And they don't have to be from church.) :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Little World on My Desk

My desk is usually pretty standard for a librarian...uncluttered...but with computer, books, a few papers, but today it seems to have exploded with to-dos and a bunch of randomness. (This is not my desk, by the way. It is a picture of the librarian's desk at the Library of Congress, and I just thought it was pretty. Plus, I didn't have time to take, send, upload, etc...a picture of my real desk.)

So, here is a list of the random things on my desk.

Two coffee cups--one travel, one not
Water bottle
Kleenex box with coffee cups on it
Phone, which is usually in my purse...but is, for some reason, on my desk
Headphones--with which to partake of Pandora's goodness
Ultra fine-point Sharpies (obsessed with them at work, too)
Persuasion (for my book club)
Easter decorations
Pics of the kiddos, Fred, Jason and me
Random work stuff that I won't talk about, so I can be sure not to get in trouble. :)
Flylady's Financial Control Journal
List of things I want to do when I save all this money Flylady is promising I'll save
C.O. Bigelow's Lemon body lotion...because it takes away the stress of financial planning, and I want to smell it all day long.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day To-Dos...for Someday

These are ways I wish I was celebrating St. Patrick's Day...

-By visiting Ireland again. I went my senior year in high school, and it was sooo beautiful. I've always wanted to go back.

-By reading something by James Joyce. I'm a little intimidated by Joyce...the whole stream of consciousness thing...I'm just afraid I'll be in over my head. But I'll get over it and read him sometime soon!

-By crashing the St. Patrick's Day parade in Jackson, Mississippi. That way, I also get to hang with the Sweet Potato Queens.

-By seeing the Full Moon Ensemble in concert again...even though I'm pretty sure they've disbanded. Henri's Notions is a nice consolation prize, though. :)

-By locating a non-alcoholic Guinness...because I still can't convince my husband the real stuff "is good for you!"

(And the cartoon is from Savage Chickens, which I just discovered today and will be returning to every day because this guy cracks me up!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Catching Up

Wow, I feel like I've been behind on blogging lately. Had a nasty round with the stomach bug this weekend, so I feel kind of behind on everything.

One positive side to being sick is that I caught up on a ton of reading this weekend, so I will have book reviews (and hopefully an author interview!) coming up soon.

Meanwhile, if you're in Tuscaloosa, don't miss the Edible Book Festival on April 1 at Gorgas Library. Yum!
Here's a link to the Main International Edible Book Festival.

An article about Seminaries Under Stress. This mostly concerns Episcopal seminaries, but I think there's something to be learned here for all of us.

Speaking of seminaries, the one Jason and I are part of is celebrating 100 years, so here are a few photos. Didn't get too many of the actual events because that is when afore-mentioned stomach bug chose to present itself.

(I just liked the lighting on this one, even though it was taken with my phone. My "real" camera is in need of a cord, so no fancy pictures for now.)

This was us laughing at something. Do you see the big sunburn splotch on my neck? Completely random burn spot. It's still weird looking today, even though it's faded considerably.

The obligatory cute couple shot. Aww... are three quick links for your Monday...

Harsh Realities About Virtual Ones

The Shrinking Professoriate

Tomes and Talismans

Sunday, March 16, 2008

List of Reasons Not to Blog Today

1. Still sick. Isn't that enough?!

*Updated: We're pretty sure I had the stomach virus. Much better...I'm happy to report. (And this is just a random photo of Fred and me.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Somebody Diagnose Me!

Symptoms: stuffy, sneezy, achy, upset stomach. Didn't make the SWBTS 100 years celebration too much fun. :( Hope your weekend is off to a better start!

Friday, March 14, 2008

It Only Hurts Me When I Cry

Disclaimer 1: I am not, in general, a "crier." I don't cry at songs, sermons, weddings, usually not even at funerals. Occasionally a book or movie will get me, but that doesn't count. :)

Disclaimer 2: I am not a pretty crier. I'm more of the red-nosed, puffy-eyed Julia Roberts variety, rather than the funny, trembling-lips Mary Tyler Moore. (I couldn't find a good pic of Julia crying, so I decided to pick on Britney.)

So anyway, it's doubly troubling for me when I actually do cry. And, when I do, it's usually over a bunch of nothings that no one else (even the cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat people) would cry about. This hits me sporadically, not often, very random. Anyway, the crying jag hit this morning.

What made me cry this morning?

To start with...(and this is what I blame the tears on) I was/am tired. Very tired.

But the first thing that got me? The refrigerator door didn't fully close last night, so my orange juice was lukewarm this morning. (This should've been a sign to just stay in bed.)

I was doing my devotional time, and I came to the part in Genesis where Jacob dies. More tears.

My coffee tasted funny. (I later realized that I had used the butter knife to stir in my creamer, so it just tasted like hot buttery coffee. Not too bad once I realized what it was.)

Fred was good on his walk. (These were happy tears.)

Jason had tied up a bag of garbage. (No telling how many happy tears would've been shed had he actually taken it out.)

I had to wear a skirt today...even though it's Friday--joyously known as "pants day". (These were not happy tears.)

I thought about Alabama in the spring. (Aww...)

I found out that a girl I barely know is pregnant with twins.

Did I mention that I'm tired?

But I'm glad it's the weekend! (OK, here come the happy tears again. Grr.)

So, I'm curious--what makes you cry?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Recent Musical Discoveries

I'm a big music fan...and I like to think of my tastes as eclectic. As Lemony Snicket would say, that's a fancy way of saying I like a lot of stuff. I'm into everything from classical to Billy Joel to rap to Coldplay to Johnny Cash to John Mayer, and I've even been known to shake my thang to some old-school Britney on occasion.

But there have been a few outstanding musical finds that have crossed my path recently, and I am just enjoying them so much that I wanted to pass the information list form, of course.

I know I've talked about it before, but I am still loving this local Christian rock station--89.7. Hard rock. Rockin' rock. It's awesome.

Colbie Caillat. OK, I know she's popular, but so what? I still *heart* her. She makes me feel all calm, peaceful and bubbly...all at the same time.

Leslie Follmar. She's a student here at SWBTS, but I don't know her. I do think her music is really good. I love local stuff, so it's been fun listening to her. Her blog is good, too.

Deirdre Flint. Jason and I were first introduced to her on APR's All Things Acoustic, and the Cheerleader song is one of the funniest I've heard. But I did a little digging on her recently and found lots more to love! I think you can find her CDs on CD Baby.

I might have already mentioned Pandora, too. I know I have on Facebook. This is the coolest musical thing of 2008--hands-down, no matter what else comes on the scene in 2008 (and I have no idea how long Pandora has been around). I'm still exploring it, so I don't want to say too much about how it works. I just know it picks out music for me, and I always always like it.

Rush of Fools. I know they're popular, too, but they're also Alabama fellas. And they're good! I don't know if they're quite rockin' enough to make it to 89.7, but they are still very talented.

Weird Al. Yes, I understand Weird Al has been doing his funny thing for a long time, and I'm not just now gaining awareness of him. I don't think I had heard most of his stuff, though, until Jason brought a bunch of it home on the iPawd (as Fred calls it). And we have laughed and laughed and laughed.

Good times.

OK, those are my recommendations. Do with them what you will--go forth, and be musical!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What I Like About Jason

Well, since I did an homage to Freddy recently, I figured I should also give due credit to my amazing, wonderful, handsome husband. But I'm getting ahead of myself. :)

Here are 10 reasons I love Jason...

1.) He loves God and tries hard every day to follow Christ's example.

2.) He is perseverant. He worked on his bachelor's for long as it took...with this goal of seminary. Now he's here and working even harder.

3.) He is very nice to me, hardly ever loses his temper...even when provoked, which might be often. He is the nicest guy I know. Really!

4.) He knows how to get me out of a bad mood--usually by bringing me coffee, taking me out or making me laugh.

5.) We share a random, somewhat eccentric sense of humor.

6.) He's really good at picking out TV shows and movies.

7.) He is a perfectionist...which is a sometimes frustrating quality for those of us who aren't blessed with patience. But if you wait for it...what he does is legendary. (Get it, fans of How I Met Your Mother?)

8.) He smells nice. :)

9.) He likes Fred...but he's also quick to take up for other underdogs. He cares about the defense-less in the world (or just in a conversation). He is very, very fair, and I love that.

10.) Wow--I'm at 10 already?! I haven't even talked about...wait, one of the things I love about him is that he reminds me that you don't have to share your entire life on your blog. So I'll stop here and go have dinner with my husband.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jane Austen Mania

Is it just me, or is everyone into Jane Austen right now? Our next library book club pick is Persuasion by Jane Austen. As usual, I headed to Half-Price Books (one of the great DFW finds) to pick up my cheap, cheap copy, and I found that our little neighborhood branch was sold out--not only of Persuasion but of every single Jane Austen novel--hardback, paperback, large print--all gone.

I would have headed to the next-best thing, the wonderful public library, but another book clubian said they were all checked out of Persuasion as well...and the book was on hold for when it was returned. In fact, the librarian there told her they have beaucoups of Jane Austens on order!

So I, somewhat reluctantly, headed over to
Barnes & Noble, where they had an entire table dedicated to Jane Austen. Thankfully, Persuasion was available and not outrageously expensive. (Sorry, Half-Price.)

But, I wondered, why did B&N choose to feature Jane Austen out of all the literary figures they could have picked? She is not one of the authors shown on my B&N literary mug. It's not Jane Austen Month. And she is awesome, but so are lots of other authors.

Then there were the recent movies Becoming Jane and The Jane Austen Book Club. Not to mention the
PBS series that has everyone all excited.

So, what do you think? Is this just a passing phase, as are most "in" things, or do we have a new generation awakening to the fantastic-ness of Jane? (Yeah, we're on a first-name basis now.) I like to think that it's Option B. :)

So, along with my links above, here is my list of other fun Jane Austen links...

The necessary
Wikipedia article.

This is just a fun blog post referencing Jane.

And I loved this quiz (I'm Fanny Price apparently).

And, as a bonus, here is another list of some of my favorite Jane quotes...

Sickness is a dangerous indulgence at my time of life.
There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
I am quite tired of so many children.
Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.
A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.
Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.
Husbands and wives generally understand when opposition will be vain.
I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.

So I'll let you know how Persuasion goes!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Camera Cords and Bichon Haircuts

It was a busy, busy weekend in the Norris house, complete with pizza, a picnic, movies, vet trip and a giant spaghetti sauce spillage likened to the great marshmallow drop of 2006. I'm actually kind of glad it's Monday.

I did learn this weekend that I have to order a new cord for my camera before it will work again...meaning still no more snow pics. Thank goodness this list came through the Bichon lovers listserv today. It cracked me up--funny and true (if you have a high maintenance one like Fred).

How was your weekend?

10 Reasons Your Dog's Haircut Costs More Than Yours...
10. Your hairdresser doesn't wash and clean your rear end.
9. You don't go for eight weeks without washing or brushing your hair.
8. Your hairdresser doesn't have to give you a sanitary trim.
7. Your hairdresser doesn't have to clean your ears.
6. Your hairdresser doesn't have to clean boogies from your eyes.
5. You sit still for your hairdresser.
4. Your haircut doesn't include a manicure or pedicure.
3. Your hairdresser only washes and cuts the hair on your head.
2. You don't bite or scratch your hairdresser. (I hope not anyway).
And the Number 1 reason your dog's haircut costs more than yours...
1. The likelihood of you pooping or peeing while your hair is being cut is extremely slim.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lessons I Am Learning From Our James Bond Marathon

1. Always remain calm and least on the surface.

2. Any gadget can be improved by adding a bit of weaponry.

3. Cars were made to be driven fast...very fast.

4. Flirting is an art.

5. You are more likely to be successful if you are well-dressed.

Now...we've made it through the Sean Connerys...what is YOUR favorite Bond film?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Reasons Tiff Doesn't Want to Blog Tonight

1. She's hanging out with Jason.

2. She's sleepy.

3. She's running out of list ideas! Happy weekend!

Friday, March 07, 2008

When Breaks the Dawn

When Breaks the Dawn by Janette Oke

Elizabeth is no longer the pampered newlywed she was when she first arrived in the north Canada wilderness with her husband. She has become experienced at growing her own food, surviving on basic necessities and appreciating the rare position she is in as the wife of a Royal Canadian Mountie. She is learning to trust in God for her daily needs and for help in navigating her new role.

However, she desperately wants a child, and she is not quite ready to trust God when it comes to his timing on that front. Oke subtly compares Elizabeth's feelings to the barren setting, but she also incorporates richness into the landscape as well as into Elizabeth's life.

Elizabeth is a teacher, and she and a friend have started the first school in that area of the country for Native American children. Through her relationships with two children in particular, Elizabeth is able to channel some of her desire to nurture and care for others.

However, Oke could have better developed this area of the plot, balancing it with analyzing Elizabeth's inward struggles and desires. For instance, she was teaching children, but some of their mothers were interested in learning as well. One husband found out about his wife spending time at the school and "saw the schooling as a waste of time for a lazy wife, and he forbade Brown Duck to return to class again." Instead of finding a possible solution, Elizabeth and her friend just chalked it up to the culture. "We were sorry to lose Brown Duck, but...I would [not] have encouraged her to disobey her husband." I think Oke could have come up with something better than that.

Oke also does a great job of describing that area of northwestern Canada in scenes that were reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie series. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of food--gardening, preparations, meals--and I remembered that, when I was reading it for the first time, this was one of my favorite things about the Little House series as well. For example...

Our evening meal was not by candlelight, nor was it a gourmet feast at a fancy restaurant. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world. Wynn fixed it over an open fire, roasting freshly caught fish slowly until done to perfection and serving them with vegetables he had brought from our garden at home. Dessert was berries from a nearby patch, eaten from our hands as we picked them. We both laughed at our stained lips and teeth.

However, I thought Oke did skim over some parts that I thought could use more description, but maybe I felt this way because I was reading the sequel to a book I have not yet read.

I really appreciated the fact, too, that the end was not perfectly wrapped and conclusive. While we see that Elizabeth made great progress, she did not suddently acquire everything she thought she should have in life. We know, at the end, there is still progress left for her to make, which is a nice reflection of reality.

Another Favorite Quote...
It was our first opportunity to really talk for weeks, so with our fingers intertwined, we talked softly while we watched the beaver couple. We spoke of many things, some little and foolish, others more important and part of our inner dreams and plans for the future.

Snow Day-List 7

Snow in March...must be Texas. Of course, we are still in the southwest (I've learned not to say Texas is part of the south) that means we only got about an inch of snow. And, as Bill Watterson says..."Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery." But it was still fun.

Things I liked about the snow day:

-It was Fred's first snow (and he is five years old). We just don't see much of the stuff!

-Watching it fall all afternoon--it was really pretty! Great big fat flakes!

-Playing in the snow and especially making Suzy Snowgirl...even though our neighbor's snow family looked much better.

-Having hot & spicy chili for supper and roasted marshmallows for dessert.

Things I did not like about the snow day:

-Drying off Fred after he fully explored the snow.

-Not getting a snow day off from work.

-Taking great pictures but having my camera's battery crash. The ones I've posted here were taken with my camera phone. I'll get the others up soon...I hope.

-Being warm everywhere except my cheeks!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What I Like About Fred...List 6

What I like about Fred...
he lets me hold him tight...
he acts like I'm the only one...
wants to hang out with me all night...
He licks me on the ear...

When he barks I pretend I can't hear...
He's well-bred...
That's what I like about Fred.

OK, I could go on with this for a long time because I'm bored, and it's "wintry-mixing" here, but I'll spare you the goofy parodies and give you a list of why I like my dog. (As if you need proof--he has his own blog, for cryin' out loud.)

Anyway, I present...Fred...

And a few of the many reasons I like him...
-He can tell when my mood changes, and he almost always knows how to appropriately respond.
He's friendlier than I am, and I feel like this helps build my character.
-He is very sweet.
-He's creative--see afore-mentioned blog. ;)
-When he does something that makes me laugh, he likes to do it over and over again.
-He makes us laugh almost every day.
-He really likes Jason, and it's cool to watch them together.
-He reminds me that "it's not all about me." Sometimes I have to meet his needs whether I feel like it or not...and that takes us back to the character-building.
-He's helping me convince Jason that he needs a brother or sister.
-He's so darn cute that it's hard not to like him.

OK, I think 10 reasons are enough. We wouldn't want him to read this and get all big-headed. His fluff makes his head big enough! ha

Read from the beginning...