Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tying Up Loose Ends

Well, here it is, the end of the year, heck, the end of the decade. What? I know! How did that happen? Wouldn't it be ironic if all of our computers conked out when they rolled over to 2010?

Anyway, I have a few things that I've thought about blogging over the course of the year that I never quite got to, so this will sort of be a wrap-up post of miscellaneous stuff to close out the year.

Miscellaneous Thing #1:

This might be my favorite picture of the year. In May I flew home to surprise my dad for his 60th birthday. My sister picked me up at the airport in Denver, and we drove down to my dad's house. My sister's friend, Big A, came along with us and brought her son, Little A, who is four. Like many four-year-olds, Little A has his security blanket, and he keeps a pretty tight leash on it. We got in late that night, and my dad's party was the next evening. Before the party, Dad decided to take a nap in his chair. Little A decided that my Dad might be cold, so he went to his bed, got his blanket, and covered up my dad. Then he went downstairs where there are various stuffed animals and brought several of them upstairs for my dad to sleep with. After this picture was taken, he topped it all off with a Hacky Sack on my dad's chest. 'Cause you never know when you might wake up and need a Hacky Sack.

Miscellaneous Thing #2:

We went to Oregon this summer for more tree climbing lessons, and I kind of surprised myself by not blogging about it; although I did post a couple of random pictures from our trip. I won't give you as much detail as I did about last year's lessons, but I did want to at least put in one or two pictures! I know, you're thinking, How much can there be to learn about tree climbing? Well, last year, we just learned the basics; this year we learned how to facilitate other people up into the trees and how to do rescues. We also got to play with saws in the trees, learning proper pruning techniques. I'll tell you what, there's nothing like hanging from a rope with a sharp cutting device in your hand to make you pay really close attention to where all your gear is at any given time! Here is a tree all set up for facilitation:

The rescues were hard work, and I really impressed myself by being able to get a line into a tree, get my rope up and tied, get my gear on, climb up, get over to my "victim," attach myself to my victim and get him lowered to the ground and unattached from me in under 17 minutes. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that, but I do have a picture of me relaxing in a tree boat, which was a lot nicer!

I'm not much of a morning person, but see how smiley I am? That's because this was the first time in about a week that I had gotten a decent night's sleep. Seriously. Hotel room=slept like crap. Tree boat=Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

After our class was over, our instructor took my husband climbing in a big Douglas fir. He would have taken me too, but I chickened out. Since it was such a high climb (about 200-250 feet) they were climbing single rope which involves a lot of gear compared to double rope, which is how I am more comfortable climbing. I hadn't done much single rope work, and the few times I had, I always had trouble switching over from ascending to descending devices, and I didn't want to get stuck 200-feet up, so I stayed on the ground and acted like I wasn't bummed about missing out on this climb. That's OK though, tree climbing really gives you a new appreciation for listening to your instincts, and my instincts were telling me not to go that day. So, some other day. Hubby had a great time though-here's a picture of him on the way up.

Miscellaneous Thing #3:

Missing book reviews-I've read a few books that I never got around to reviewing here, so I will do some quick summaries so that they're not hanging over my head come the new year.

The Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason-I believe it was Chris's review of When Twilight Burns, the fourth book in the Gardella Vampire Chrinocles that piqued my interest in this series. I picked up the first one, The Rest Falls Away, and, if my Kindle history is anything to go by, quickly devoured the next three books in the series. That's the problem with the Kindle, when you get to the end of one book in a series it's so easy to just click, click and get the next book! It's not that the writing is that great, in fact I remember some of the dialogue being pretty bad, but it is quick fun reading with some fairly steamy love scenes, and I just might have to pick up a copy of the last book in the series, As Shadows Fade, now that I'm thinking about it.

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell-I finished reading this a few weeks ago, and I hate to admit it, but I didn't like it as much as The Sparrow. I knew this was a risk-The Sparrow is a hard act to follow. I've been agonizing over reviewing it because I'm actually thinking I might need to read it again to give it a fair review. For right now, I'll leave it at that, but I will come back and do a full review much for tying up loose ends!

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman-This is the first Gaiman book that I have read and finished (couldn't make it through American Gods) and I really liked it. I'm not normally a short-story gal, but I did enjoy most of the stories in here. There were a couple I didn't really care for and one that I didn't even finish because I just had no idea what was going on. A lot of short stories leave me feeling like the author didn't quite have it in him to write a whole novel, so he just sort of wrote down the ideas that he had for a story and then left it to the reader to fill in the missing parts; but with Gaiman I (mostly) felt like his stories were fully-realized stories, crafted with the end reader in mind. Be sure to read the Introduction, which itself includes a story as well as some background on the rest of the stories.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy-It was stark and desolate and depressing and beautiful and concise and I think I hated the ending. I'm not sure; I can't decide. I do think McCarthy did a wonderful job of capturing the minimal survivalist relationship between father and son-there's never much said, but there wouldn't be, would there, if you've been wandering a burned out planet for months? years? It's not like there's much to talk about other than how to stay alive for another day. And you know how much love is there and your heart breaks for the man who's trying to save his son and for the boy who has to live in this world and see the things that he sees. I haven't seen the movie, but I think Viggo Mortensen might be perfect in this role, and the fact that Robert Duvall is in it makes me want to cry! I love Robert Duvall!

The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King-I read this on the plane on the way home from my Dad's house, and it was good enough to keep me interested, but not great. It's sort of a western/alternate world/good vs. evil/horror, so I was curious to see where everything was going. I started reading book #2 in the series, The Drawing of the Three, but I just never really got into it. It was taking place more in this world than in the gunslinger world, and I just didn't really care. I feel bad about this because this is one of my husband's favorite series ever, and I'm sure it probably gets better as it goes, but for right now, I'm not ready to delve back in.

Miscellaneous Thing #4

Molokai Day 3-See, I told you I could give you a whole month of Molokai! This is another one that I will have to follow-up on in the new year. For now, suffice it to say that we had a glorious day hiking in the Kamakou Preserve with our guide, Bill, from The Nature Conservancy.

If you can think of any other miscellaneous things for me, let me know. I know 2009 was rough for a lot of people, and if you're one of those people, I hope 2010 is better. If you had a great 2009, well, I still hope 2010 is better for you!



softdrink said...

Those tree shots just make my palms sweat (I don't like heights)'re a brave person!

Happy New Year!!

Mike said...

That is an awesom picture of your dad. I'm sure he appreciates you posting it. :)

The Dark Tower books are a liitle tough to get into. I think my favorites where The Watelands and Wolves of the Calla. The last book was okay.

Have a happy new year!

Dreamybee said...

softdrink-Heights don't really bother me too much, so I don't know how brave that makes me! Besides, seeing how everything is rigged up and setting up the rigging yourself and being in control of your ascent and descent A) gives you a lot to think about to keep your mind off the heights and B) makes it less scary, I think. Happy New Year to you too!

Mike-My dad doesn't have enough internet to ever know that I posted his picture, but, yeah, I'm sure he'd appreciate it! LOL.

Maybe some day I'll give the Dark Tower books another shot, but that's a lot to go through if the last book is only OK. :(

Happy New Year!

Heather J. said...

I love this post - there's so much "fun" in it. I hope you have a wonderful new year!

PS. I have to disagree about CHILDREN OF GOD - I actually liked it more, b/c I felt it answered many of the questions raised in THE SPARROW. :)

Dreamybee said...

Heather J-Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Have a Happy New Year!

LOL-I saw your review of CoG and we had almost exactly the opposite response to it on all points!

Wendy said...

I need to create a list of books for our next round of book group nominations and I knew this would be the best spot! :) I think I read a review for a book here - something about love, death, revenge, violence, sex, etc. all in one slim book. I think it was the first post of yours I read. I'll have to look back b/c that sounded very interesting to me.

I've been wanting to read The Road for a while, now that there's a movie, and especially since Viggo is in it, I might have to forego the book!

I love that photo of your dad. How funny!

That tree boat is really amazing! Boy, I'd be scared though. You know those short one second dreams that you're falling off a cliff and you jolt up - well, I thought of that to the max when I saw that photo. I bet it was an amazing experience though!!

Dreamybee said...

Wendy-Aw, I'm flattered that you thought of me! Actually, Heather J. just posted about a list of great book club books. Here's link to her post.

You've got me stumped on the book that you're talking about though. Maybe Gods Behaving Badly? The Count of Monte Cristo also has all of that stuff in it, but it's about as far from a slim book as you can get!

Same here with The Road, but it's a really easy read, so it might be worth it to pick it up, even if you do see the movie.

The tree boats are pretty deep-it's kind of hard to tell from either of my photos, but you can snuggle down into them pretty well, so there's no real danger of falling out of one, plus you stay tied in to your rope. The only real danger would be if you didn't attach the tree boat itself well, and even that's kind of hard to do, so they're pretty secure. Also, you could hang them up and use them like a regular hammock, you don't have to put them 40-feet up in the air! :)

Jeanne said...

I just reviewed The Road. It was bleak, and I have no intention of seeing the movie.

Also you know I agree about The Sparrow being a tough act to follow.

Dreamybee said...

Jeanne-I'll be over to check out your review, and, yes, I do know your feelings about The Sparrow-I'm glad I'm not the only one!

Louisiana Momma said...

I love that picture of your dad... sounds exactly like something my boys would do :-)

Dreamybee said...

Louisiana Momma-Your boys sound sweet! Little A's mom was shocked, not because her son isn't a sweet kid but because apparently he doesn't share his blanket with just anyone. I guess that was a pretty big honor!