Archive for September 2006

Murderous Maths

September 20th, 2006 — 9:17pm

After hearing a lot of good things about Murderous Maths, I ordered a copy from Amazon UK (not available in the US for some reason). It arrived yesterday, and Henry and I read several chapters this morning. It’s just as good as all the reviewers say it is! Stories and neat facts about math, told with humor, are much more fun for Henry than boring old worksheets. (Which do have their place, but having some fun with Math is great!) Highly recommended!!!

Here’s the official Murderous Maths site:

Looks as if the author has lots and lots of other books for us to look forward to!

Update! Murderous Maths books ARE available in the US!

Comment » | Blog, Books, Homeschooling

The Book of Three

September 20th, 2006 — 5:36pm

I’ve been reading The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander, to Henry for his bedtime story.  We’re about halfway through.  Honestly, I expected more, for such a famous, award-winning book.  It’s not bad, but it feels flat.  The characters are bland, the situations predictable, the dialogue unrealistic.  I tried to read it as a child (my sister loved it) but I couldn’t muster up enough interest top get past the first chapter. Henry LOVES it, so I suppose it could it also be a problem that I’m just generally not a fan of fantasy-fiction, or whatever it it.   Although I adore the The Dark is Rising series, which I’ve told Henry we’ll read next.

Comment » | Books


September 20th, 2006 — 1:25pm

Last night Dan took a look at my corrupted savegame situation.  He noticed that the OTHER save slot (where I saved once accidentally, on the 2nd day of Spring) would load successfully.  After some tinkering, he figured out how to make my bad savegame load again, by starting the 2nd savegame and then loading the first one from there!  It was a miracle, I tell you!  He had to have my little guy walk a certain distance before trying to load the other save or it didn’t work.

3 comments » | Blog

Our Island Story, ch. 25

September 20th, 2006 — 8:19am

025 – William the Conqueror

Comment » | Audiobooks

Corrupted savegame :(

September 19th, 2006 — 9:11pm

I was going to play Harvest Moon DS today while Henry was in his Theater class, but my savegame wouldn’t load. SIGH. I guess I’ll have to start my farm all over again. It’s not that bad to have to start over, I was only at the end of the first summer, but now I’m wondering if I’ll lose my next savegame at some random time. Bah.

Comment » | Blog


September 19th, 2006 — 5:50pm

I feel nervous and jumpy today, for no reason. Very annoying. I’m cooking dinner right now, just taking a little break while the pasta sauce cooks (one red bell pepper, diced, some chopped green onions, two crumbled-up hamburger patties, half a jar of marinara sauce). I’ll serve that over 4-color vegetable radiatore (a.k.a Brain Pasta) with chard sauted with garlic and chicken broth. I may be nervous and jumpy but I can still cook a nice dinner.

1 comment » | Blog, Recipes

Everything She Thought She Wanted

September 19th, 2006 — 5:45pm

Last night I finished Everything She Thought She Wanted, by Elizabeth Buchan. I loved it. I thought it was just as good as The Good Wife Strikes Back but not quite as good as Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.

Comment » | Books

Book list archive

September 18th, 2006 — 4:26pm

This post is an old book-list page I used to maintain.  Obviously, I’ve forgotten to update it in quite some time :)

  • =Reproduction is the Flaw of Love= by Lauren Grodstein (April 2005)
  • =Multiple Choice= by Claire Cook. (Sept 2004)
  • =The Lady and the Unicorn= by Tracy Chevalier. More historical fiction based on artwork. Very enjoyable. (Sept 2004)
  • =Have You Heard= by Anderson Ferrell. Ooooo excellent! (Sept 2004)
  • =Maggie Darling= by James Kunstler. This one started well but… Sigh. (Sept 2004)
  • =Maneater= by Gigi Grazer. Another light but fun one, with an I ending I didn’t predict right away(!) (Sept 2004)
  • =s’Mothering= by Wendy French. Fun little story :) (Sept 2004)
  • =A Little House Reader= by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by William Anderson. A collection of various writings by the whole Ingalls family. (Sept 2004)
  • =The Idea of Perfection= by Kate Grenville. Perfection itself. (August 2004)
  • =The A-List= by Zoey Dean. Mm. Readable. Should have been shelved in the YA section, I think. (August 2004)
  • =Running in Heels= by Anna Maxted. Ok I’ve read all your books, Anna, write another please!(August 2004)
  • =Plum Sauce: A P.G. Wodehouse Companion= by Richard Usborne. Marvelous!!(August 2004)
  • =Year of Wonders= by Geraldine Brooks. Pretty good. It got less and less plausible as the novel progressed, though.(August 2004)
  • =Wives and Daughters= by Elizabeth Gaskell. Slow going at first, but then I couldn’t put it down.(July 2004)
  • =The Hills at Home= by Nancy Clark. I loved this book. Can’t wait for her next book! (July 2004)
  • =Playing House= by Patrica Pearson. (July 2004)
  • =Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman= by Elizabeth Buchan (July 2004)
  • =Why She Went Home= by Lucinda Rosenfeld (June 2004)
  • =Cracked= by Drew Pinsky (June 2004)
  • =Girl With A Pearl Earring= by Tracy Chevalier (June 2004)
  • =Getting Over It= by Anna Maxted (May 2004)
  • =Behaving Like Adults= by Anna Maxted. I loved this book. Must find more Anna Maxted!! (April 2004)
  • =Lunch at the Piccadilly= by Clyde Edgerton (April 2004)
  • =Carrie Pilby= by Caren Lissner. Excellent!! Loved it! (April 2004)
  • =Marrying Mozart= by Stephanie Cowell Pretty good historical fact/fiction (March 2004)
  • =4 Blondes= by Candace Bushnell (March 2004)
  • =The Speed of Dark= by Elizabeth Moon. Excellent.(March 2004)
  • =How to Meet Cute Boys= by Deanna Kizis (a novel, not a real how-to, heheh. I’ve already got the cutest boy ever.)(March 2004)
  • =The Future Homemakers of America= by Laurie Graham. Great story, takes place from 1950s to 1990s, great characters. (April 2004)
  • =The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time= by Mark Haddon. Awesome book. Go read it. (March 2004)
  • =Trading Up= by Candace Bushnell. Good good! (March 2004)
  • =The Memory of all That= by Betsy Blair. She was Gene Kelly’s first wife, a dancer, an actress, an interesting person, and a good writer. Really enjoyed this book. She was blacklisted in the 50s, and her memoir makes me want to read more about McCarthyism. (March 2004)
  • =Slave to Fashion= by Rebecca Campbell. Fun, fun, fun, very satisfying.(Feb 2004)
  • =My Anecdotal life= by Carl Reiner. Wonderful!(Feb 2004)
  • =Love-40= by Anna Cheska. Very entertaining, lots of fun, couldn’t put it down!(Feb 2004)
  • =Traveling Shoes= by Noel Streatfeild. I’ve loved her books ever since I read =Thursday’s Child= long long ago. This was a new one for me and I enjoyed it immensely! (Jan 2004)
  • =Drinking the Rain= by Alix Kates Shulman. This was a good one! (Jan 2004)
  • =Good Faith= by Jane Smiley. Eh. I like her style, I like her characters… but the book was relatively dull. You can see that the guy is going to get swindled… and then 700 pages later he gets swindled, the end. (Jan 2004)
  • =Beautiful Bodies= by Laura Shaine Cunningham — GREAT book! I liked it a lot more than =Dreams of Rescue= and now I want to find even more of her novels. (Jan 2004)
  • =The Lost Continent= by Bill Bryson. Very funny in places, quite interesting, if you can put up with the endless griping. (Dec. 2003)
  • =Brilliant= by Marne Davis Kellogg. Fun book, great protagonist, satisfying ending. (Dec. 2003)
  • =A Shortcut in Time= by Charles Dickinson. I liked this one a lot. (Dec. 2003)
  • =Antiques Roadshow 20th Century Collectables= by Carol Prisant. (Dec. 2003)
  • =The Hotel Riviera= by Elizabeth Adler. Predictable, fluffy romance/mystery. Enjoyable enough.(Dec 2003)
  • =Lucy: A Novel= by Ellen Feldman. Pretty good. (Dec 2003)
  • =Dreams of Rescue= by Laura Shaine Cunningham, spooky and well-written. (Dec. 2003)
  • =The Here and Now= by Gregg Easterbrook — this one was a real winner! Start to finish in 2 days, couldn’t put it down. (Dec. 2003)
  • =In The Frame= by Dick Francis — my favorite Francis thriller (Dec. 2003)
  • =The White Dragon= by Anne McCaffery (Nov. 2003)
  • =Dragonquest= by Anne McCaffery (Nov. 2003)
  • =Dragonflight= by Anne McCaffery (Nov. 2003)
  • =Animal Dreams= by Barbara Kingsolver (Nov. 2003)
  • =Pigs in Heaven= by Barbara Kingslover (Oct. 2003)
  • =Twice Shy= by Dick Francis (Oct. 2003)
  • =God Save the Sweet Potato Queens= by Jill Conner Browne (Oct. 2003)
  • =The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love= by Jill Conner Browne (Oct. 2003)
  • =The Poisonwood Bible= by Barbara Kingsolver (Sept. 2003)
  • =The Bean Treens= by Barbara Kingsolver (Sept. 2003)
  • =Prodigal Summer= by Barbara Kingsolver — really excellent book; I’m glad she’s written several more! Thanks VERY MUCH to Chloe for recommending her!(Aug. 2003)
  • =The Three Miss Margarets= by Louise Shaffer — Oooooo this was a GOOD one! (Aug. 2003)
  • =The Man I Should Have Married= by Pamela Redmond Satran — very enjoyable! (Aug. 2003)
  • =Ready To Fall= by Claire Cook — not as good as Must Love Dogs, but still fun. (Aug. 2003)
  • =Miracles on Maple Hill= by Virginia Sorensen — the 1957 Newberry Award winner. Lovely book!
  • =A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver= by E. Konigsburg
  • =My Kitchen Wars= by Betty Fussell
  • =World of Pies= by Karen Stolz
  • =The Bachelor’s Cat= by L.F. Hoffman. Unusual and wonderful love story!
  • =Notes from a Small Island= by Bill Bryson. Alternately amusing and irritating. I had an audiobook, and it got to the point where I’d say, “I’m going to go listen to a man complain about England now…”
  • =I Want That!= by Thomas Hine. A cultural history of shopping. Interesting!
  • =Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight= by Alexandra Fuller. A memoir by a woman who is exactly my age, about her childhood in Africa. It kept me up way too late every night until I was done. Thanks, Wastrel :)
  • =Fanny and Sue= by Karen Stolz. Lovely book! I kept forgetting that the characters weren’t real people.
  • =It’s A Long Way From Penny Apples= by Bill Cullen
  • =The Clothesline= by Irene Rawlings and Andrea Vansteenhouse. Photos of, and essays about, laundry.
  • =The Lemon Jelly Cake= by Madeline Babcock Smith
  • =Under the Tuscan Sun= by Frances Mayes. Mmmmm, nice. Not exciting or anything, just pleasant and full of lovely food.
  • =Julie and Romeo= by Jeanne Ray. Another lovely one. Please write more, Jeanne!
  • =Striding Folly= by Dorothy Sayers (unabridged audiobook) Short stories, Lord Peter Wimsey. Need I say more? :) my favorite by far was “Talboys”.
  • =A Year at the Movies= by Kevin Murphy (“Tom Servo” of MST3K). So funny. He went to the movies every day for an entire year, and writes about the movies, the theatres, the food, the audiences, and random other things.
  • =The Sticklepath Strangler= by Michael Jecks. A murder mystery set in medieval England. Not nearly as bad as it sounds — actually quite readable :)
  • =Welcome to Higby= by Mark Dunn. Wonderful book. Reminded me just a little of Clyde Edgerton and Bailey White.
  • =Step-Ball-Change= by Jeanne Ray. Oh wow. This has got to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long long time. I couldn’t put it down, read it cover to cover in two days.
  • =Carry On, Jeeves= by P.G. Wodehouse. Short stories!!
  • =Money For Nothing= by P.G. Wodehouse. Lol :)
  • =Cause Celeb= by Helen Fielding. Quite different from Bridget Jones; very very good!
  • =Backpack= by Emily Barr
  • =The Natural History of the Rich: A Field Guide= by Richard Conniff. Marvelous!
  • =The Nanny Diaries= by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.
  • =A Shilling for Candles= by Josephine Tey.
  • =My Family and Other Animals= by Gerald Durrell. Of all the Durrell books I’ve read, this one is turning out to be a big favorite. His short stories always gave a tantalizing glimpse of his family, but never quite enough!
  • =To Love And Be Wise= by Josephine Tey (I’ve been a Tey fan ever since my sister Kathy suggested I read =The Daughter of Time= when I was a kid. Somehow I never read this one before! What a treat :)
  • =The Professor and the Madman= by Simon Winchester — the story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Fascinating subject, but the book is somewhat awkwardly written. Well worth reading if you are interested in linguistics.
  • =The Miss America Family= by Julianna Baggott. Excellent.
  • =Girl Talk= by Julianna Baggott. Also excellent! Hope she writes more.
  • =Sein Language= by Jerry Seinfeld. Lol.
  • =Edge of Reason= by Helen Fielding (More Bridget Jones! YAY!)
  • =Bridget Jones’ Diary= by Helen Fielding (Excellent! Funny! Couldn’t put it down!)
  • =Skipping Christmas= by John Grisham (Yes, THAT John Grisham). A very satisfying Christmas story.
  • =Quite A Year For Plums= by Bailey White (I can hear her interesting voice in my mind while I read her books. This is her first novel, I think, but it’s similar to her collections of short stories.)
  • =Alanna: The First Adventure= by Tamora Pierce (pretty good! I like Keladry better than Alanna, though :)
  • =Too Close To The Falls= by Catherine Gildiner (Biography — Cathy grew up near Niagra Falls in the 50s. Amazing book!)
  • =Must Love Dogs= by Claire Cook — funny, very enjoyable! I hope she writes more :)
  • =Lady Knight= by Tamora Pierce (the last book in the Protector of the Small series. I think this one was the best of them all. The part when she went back to the fort the second time made me cry)
  • =Marrying Off Mother= by Gerald Durrell (Short stories. Everything he writes is excellent. This one was new to me!)
  • =the battle for the villa fiorita= by rumer godden (75% super-good with a terrible unbelievable stupid ending. sigh.)
  • =dress codes of three girlhoods: my mother’s, my father’s, and mine= by noelle howley (wonderful! fascinating!)
  • =squire= by tamora pierce (3rd in the “protector of the small” series)
  • =the gentle giants of ganymeade= by james p. hogan
  • =inherit the stars= by james p. hogan
  • =code of the lifemaker= by james p. hogan
  • =time and again= by jack finney (despite the frustrating ending)
  • =home cooking= by laurie colwin (picked this up at wastrel’s house and couldn’t put it down!)
  • =runestruck= by calvin trillin
  • =floater= by calvin trillin
  • =tepper isn’t going out= by calvin trillin — wonderful wonderful book. i read it in one day.
  • =swimming at suppertime= by carol wasserman
  • =first test= by tamora pierce — i’m excited about this one. it’s the first in a series of four (the “protector of the small” series), and the author has written at least 8 other books about the same world :)
  • =page= by tamora pierce (2nd in the “protector of the small” series)
  • =advanced cinematherapy: the girl’s guide to finding happiness one movie at a time= by peske and west (lots of fun, and now i have a whole list of movies i want to rent :)

old favorites:

  • The Leaphorn and/or Chee mysteries by Tony Hillerman
  • =The Mockery Bird= by Gerald Durrell (Sort of an ecological comedy novel. Very entertaining :)
  • =The Picnic, and Other Inimitable Tales= by Gerald Durrell
  • the “All Creatures” books by James Herriot. I read them for the first time when I was about 8, and have re-read them all countless times. I just worked through them again. I’m always a little bit sad when I get to the end of the last book. I wish there were more.
  • many of Dick Francis’s thrillers — especially some of his older stuff such as =Reflex=, =In The Frame=, and =Twice Shy=.
  • =dracula= by bram stoker
  • everything by jane austen — =emma=, =pride and prejudice=, =northanger abbey= (my three favorites), =sense and sensibility=, =mansfield park=, and =persuasion=
  • the lord peter wimsey mysteries by dorothy sayers, especially =gaudy night= and the others which include harriet vane
  • the jeeves and wooster stories by p.g. wodehouse
  • everything by josephine tey, esp. =brat farrar= and =miss pym disposes=

old favorites (children’s lit):

  • =the swiss family robinson= by johann wyss
  • =little lord fauntleroy= by frances hodgson burnett
  • =magical melons= by carol ryrie brink
  • =family sabbatical= by carol ryrie brink
  • =the secret garden= by frances hodgson burnett
  • =misty of chincoteague= by marguerite henry
  • =caddie woodlawn= by carol ryrie brink
  • everything by edward eager (=half magic=, =magic by the lake=, etc)
  • =a little princess= by frances hodgson burnett
  • everything by laura ingalls wilder (my favorite is =the long winter=)

3 comments » | Books

Harvest Moon – DS

September 18th, 2006 — 12:26pm

Harvest Moon for DS was released on the 15th.  Dan had pre-ordered it and, the day it came out,  brought home a copy for me for a late birthday present!  I’ve been playing it a lot over the last few days and I can safely say that it’s an excellent game.  Gone is the annoying 5-item rucksack limit!  You start now with a rucksack that’ll hold 15 items, and like items will STACK (up to 99 per stack)!   You can carry all your tools with you at all times.  You can wander about and pick up 16 bamboo shoots, a handful of red grasses,  some Pink Cat flowers, and a stack of chopped lumber, without running home constantly!

The graphics are Friends of Mineral Town style, with nicely-updated large portraits.  The touch screen is used to great advantage — you can be looking at a map (zoomed in or distant) while you’re running around town.  You’ll never get lost (I get lost a lot).  You can select or stack items (or split stacks with rapid taps! Thanks, Dan :) in your rucksack with the stylus.   Eventually, animal care can be performed on the touch-screen but I have no animals yet so I can’t comment on that aspect.

Your bookcase at home now holds many helpful books — the business hours of all the stores, for instance, and the growth cycles of all the possible crops.  Most purchases are made over the telephone in your house (you’re ordering from the stores in Mineral Town).

It’s a tremendously fun game.  The only thing I really wish for is a notification of the selling price of the items you drop in your collection box (c.f. Magical Melody).

Comment » | Blog

Our Island Story, ch. 24

September 18th, 2006 — 9:27am

024 – The Battle of Hastings

Comment » | Audiobooks

worn out

September 17th, 2006 — 12:34pm

Man, I still feel worn out from Henry’s party.  I think next year we’ll limit the guest list to 5 kids and skip the pinata.  I hate pinatas. Didn’t sleep well last night from leftover party anxiety.  Henry’s edgy and worn out, too.  He’s interesting.  He enjoys groups but is noticably drained and frazzled by too much socializing.  He’s more extroverted than me — copes with groups better for sure — but still quite an introvert in some ways.  He’s definitely happiest spending time with one friend at a time, and even then needs considerable alone time to recharge after the friend goes home.

Comment » | Blog


September 16th, 2006 — 9:26pm

Today was Henry’s Birthday Party. It was very nice — 10 fun and friendly children (including Henry), swimming, general playing, pizza, cherry pie, ice cream, a pinata. I think everyone had a really nice time. It only lasted from 3 to 6 but wiped me out completely. I’m a typical introvert — it makes me feel exhausted and rather ill to be in a crowd of people for any length of time, no matter how pleasant they are. Henry’s dad took Henry and Fargo back to his house to spend the night so now I’ve got some quiet again. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

3 comments » | Blog

Amazon Unbox

September 15th, 2006 — 4:42pm

Read this article from and see if it makes you want to buy a movie from Amazon Unbox…

Or maybe it makes you want to vomit, and then make sure everyone you know reads that article as well. Pass it on.

1 comment » | Blog, Tech

Our Island Story, ch. 23

September 15th, 2006 — 8:10am

023 – The Battle of Stamford Bridge

Comment » | Audiobooks


September 14th, 2006 — 9:54am

I just found out that the beautiful Miss Hazel Margaret Berner was born on my birthday (Aug 27th)!  Welcome to the world, Hazel!

1 comment » | Blog


September 13th, 2006 — 8:30am

The new iPod nanos are cute! Colorful aluminum is much better than black or white plastic. I might be tempted by the 4-gig green model if I didn’t already have a perfectly good green 6-gig mini, heheh :)  I don’t need a color screen badly enough to spend $200 and lose 2 gigs. I love my mini, anyway, and it’s only 13 months old and works perfectly. Seems like apple would be wiser to wait a little longer between new product releases.

1 comment » | Blog

Our Island Story, ch. 22

September 13th, 2006 — 8:09am

022 – Harold

Comment » | Audiobooks

New solo? Need suggestions!

September 12th, 2006 — 10:45pm

I finished cataloging the second half of Our Island Story, which Jim and I read as a duet, each of us taking every other chapter. Here it is!

Our Island Story, part 2

And now I need a new solo project to work on and I’m open to suggestions. Here are my criteria:

  • The book must be in the public domain (published before 1923 in the US)
  • The book must be children’s literature
  • No Oz (I’m tired of Oz)
  • No collections of fairy tales
  • Nothing really “cute” (no Raggedy Ann, for instance). No Happy Rabbit’s Adventures in Candyland.

I’ve done a lot of girl books (Heidi, etc.) and I’d love to do a boy book. Something adventuresome? Please post if you have a book meeting these critera that you’d like to hear!

Any opinions about Kim, by Rudyard Kipling?  I’ve never read it but I love the Just So Stories (which are also tempting).

11 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Pirates and Cake

September 11th, 2006 — 1:01pm

Busy and fun day.  Henry and I went out to do errands, including returning a book to the library.  While we were there he asked a very nice children’s librarian for recommendations. He told her his favorite books and she led him around and helped him pick out a good stack of the dark fantasy books he loves so much.  He’s a reading machine lately.  He started on A Wind in the Door right away in the car (lucky guy can read in the car without getting sick).

In the afternoon I helped him record more Pirate’s Chorus parts for librivox’s Pirates of Penzance production.  I tried again to record Ruth but my voice is just not good enough.  Sigh.  So I gave up on that and passed the part along to someone else.  Before my students came we baked a cake, too.  Then I taught, then took him to karate and watched the class for a change, then came home and made dinner, which was brown rice, stir-fried veggies, and Trader Joe’s Hawaiian Beef, yummy!  Plus cake for after of course :)

Dan and I started watching Survivor Thailand last night so tonight we get to watch the second episode.  It’s wonderfully soothing bedtime television.

Comment » | Blog

Our Island Story, ch. 21

September 11th, 2006 — 8:07am

021 – Edward the Confessor

Comment » | Audiobooks

Back to top