Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book chat

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday was long walk day, and the temp was 66 when I went to the lake and 77 when I came home. There were a few guys running in only shorts; I wore running capris and a short-sleeved dri-fit shirt (pretty much my uniform, except when it is really hot - then I wear a tank. I could have worn one yesterday). Today when I woke up it was 28.

I had a really, really tough 7.5 miles yesterday. I almost stopped or turned back numerous times: when I was done with the little lake, when I was a mile into the big lake, and then when I got to the parking lot halfway around the big lake I almost called Dwight to come and get me and take me back to my car. I really don't know why it was so difficult. I guess every time can't be great. And I was s-l-o-w. No endorphins to make it all worthwhile even. Ugh.

So let's switch it up and talk about books! I have devoured a few in the last month and thought I'd share in case anyone has read them and has comments, or else needs something new to read. There are no spoiler alerts; I won't say anything you won't find in any of the reviews on-line or even the book jacket. And really, even though I have two English teacher daughters, I don't think I know how to read a book with any of the literary analyses they teach - as one of my favorite quotes goes, "Deep down I'm really very superficial". (Ava Gardner). If you're still interested, here goes:

(All of the photos are from Amazon. There is probably a way to get them so you don't see the "look inside"; I'll work on that).

Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. This book kept popping up on various must-read lists I've seen, and it appealed to the nerd girl in me. The earth's rotation has started to slow, making the days and the nights longer. How does society deal with the changes? Do you follow the government-mandated clock time, even though the sun might be directly overhead at 2:00 a.m. or you might be going to school or work in the dead of night, or do you follow "real time", being awake when it's light and sleeping when it's dark? And what about agriculture? Gravity? Radiation danger? Set against all these world changes is the coming-of-age story of a girl in California with all the normal changes that occur. Very thought-provoking.

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova. The author has her PhD in neurobiology from Harvard, so she knows whereof she speaks. Her first book, Still Alice, deals with early-onset Alzheimer's, and is one that, even though I read several years ago, I still think about. Her second book, Left Neglected, deals with a rare brain dysfunction, left neglect, that may occur after traumatic injury, such as accident or stroke. (When Alex was in medical school, one of his classmates witnessed this first-hand. He was interviewing a patient, and all of a sudden this patient could see NOTHING on his left side until it crossed the center plane of his vision). Love Anthony deals with autism, both from a grieving mother's side and also that of the child. Lisa Genova can take these brain conditions and totally humanize them. She is a gifted writer.

Wonder by RJ Palacio. Jeanie told me about this while we were doing our half-marathon. (Did you know I did one?!? Have I mentioned it?!?!) She said she started it an couldn't put it down. While I wanted to read it, in my head I pooh-poohed the "couldn't put it down part". Until I started reading it, that is. Wow. The story is of Auggie, a 5th-grader with severe craniofacial abnormalities who is starting school after being home-schooled his entire life. As if fifth grade isn't traumatic enough. (Erin came home in tears on day in fourth grade, and when I asked her what was wrong, she said, "All the girls turned evil!" Who doesn't remember that happening?) It is told from several characters' points of view, and I found myself wanting to know all of them. It was an amazing story, and I know I'll be thinking about the characters for quite some time. For me, that is the mark of a good book - if I wonder what the characters are doing now and how their lives are unfolding.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Both Emily and Aly told me about this one. It totally played with my mind. A wife disappears, and as usual the husband is the main suspect. At first I thought he couldn't have done it, then I was sure he did it, then I had doubts, then..... Well, you'll just have to read it to find out. I wanted it to end differently, but the ending as it happens is one that makes me think.

And lastly, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, which I just started last night. Jeanie and I were talking about the author, and Jeanie said she finds her difficult to read. I feel that being a Dakota girl and having a dad who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs gives me somewhat of an understanding, of the environment if nothing else. But I know what Jeanie is talking about; I could not get through The Master Butchers Singing Club. (Side note: if you're looking for a good read about the Indian - er, Native American - life, read On the Rez by Ian Frazier. I first read an excerpt in Sports Illustrated, and was intrigued enough to buy the book. It's a true story, and when I gave the book to my dad, he knew several of the characters, and certainly the reservations and the landmarks talked about).

And since this is ostensibly a healthy-living blog, I'll leave you with some food. I tried a few new recipes, all of which I will make again.

My breakfasts, while I love them, were starting to bore me: PB toast / English muffin / bagel thin with fruit, protein pancake / waffle, or oatmeal. It was time to change it up. On one of the blogs I read, Carrots-n-Cake, Tina has been talking about her sweet breakfast scramble. It never really appealed to me, but then I had a banana which was past the point of eating (I like mine on the green side) and a can of pumpkin in the pantry, AND I needed something new. Ta-da! It was delicious!

With a tablespoon of peanut butter - heaven in a bowl
While I've had these before, I don't know if I told you about them:

They are crunchy, sweet and delicious, and are a perfect side dish for my favorite new soup for lunch:

I had this the other week and kept thinking about it so had to go get more. Mmmmm.....
Add a salad with with some pomegranate arils, and it's pretty much perfect
Snack time. 
Both of the dinner recipes I tried were from Cooking Light. The first is creamy spinach-mushroom-chicken skillet enchiladas. It doesn't look particularly appetizing in the photo, but trust me!

My new favorite, however, is one I somehow forgot to take a picture of. Stop reading right now, click on this link for a photo and the recipe and go to the store to get the ingredients for black-eyed peas with rice and andouille sausage. The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute one packet of Uncle-Ben's 90-second rice for the boil-in-bag. It was easy and oh-so-delish! Again, sorry for the lack of photo....

Being that is is such a cold windy day today, I'm making comfort food. Lunch will be grilled cheese and soup, and then I'm making a pot roast for dinner. I'm pretty sure reading, knitting, some cleaning, and a nap will be involved, while all the while the house will be filled with amazing aromas.

Think of me tomorrow - I'm getting my eyelid bump removed at 8:30 a.m. I kind of hope I get an eye patch...

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