Showing posts from May, 2011

Nebraska Wildlife Safari Park, Part 1

Herb, Maya, and I spent a fun afternoon at Nebraska Wildlife Safari Park, exit 426 off of I-80 between Lincoln and Omaha, on Sunday. I highly recommend visiting. You drive your own car through the park, and there's also a hiking opportunity at about midway into the drive.

This antelope came within touching (which we would never do with a wild animal) distance of us in the car, while still completely ignoring us.

These foxes look so cuddly.

Herd of elk.

Maya by the Native American Tribal Beliefs sign during our hike.

I'll post more photos tomorrow.

Kidnapped for Christmas by Evangeline Anderson

If you're looking for an entertaining erotic romance read, Evangeline Anderson's Kidnapped for Christmas (2008) is definitely worth a look.

Jillian can hardly believe her sister Sabrina arranged to have herself kidnapped in order to experience some of her fantasies. Imagine how much more surprised she is to find herself taken in her sister's place due to a case of mistaken identity, despite being a size 18 to Sabrina's size 3. When Jillian finally has the opportunity to explain the mistake to her "kidnapper," does she even really want to?

Doing a fantasy kidnapping job as a favor for his brother, Kyle is more than a little surprised to find himself very attracted to the client. Despite being bound by a very clear set of rules outlined in the contract, how far will he actually allow the situation to go?

I'll save you from my usual rant about the cover model obviously being a long way from a size 18. That's really my one criticism of the book, which is…

More Mail for Gordon

I received a couple more cards to send to "my" soldier for his birthday.

3. Rosa in Illinois, who sent not only a card for Gordon, but also a cool bookmark for me with the quote "Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere" by Mary Schmich and some assistance with the postage. Very sweet.

4. Snail Mail Fan, a Canadian blogger over at 100 Days of Snail Mail, who also sent me some little surprises and generously put the notice about cards for Gordon on her own blog. Check out her blog to see the cool way she sent mail to me. More sweetness.

It's not too late if you want to send a note, drawing, postcard, or whatever to me for Gordon. Just shoot me an e-mail at, and I'll send you my snail mail address.

I hope Gordon enjoys his birthday mail as much as I'm enjoy the collection process and "meeting" new people and hearing from friends!

Books to Give Away

I'm going through my books again and looking to downsize.

Leave me a comment on this posting with titles of the books you're interested in receiving. If more than one person wants a particular book, I'll have Maya draw names.

I'll be contacting people about mailing addresses on Tuesday, May 31, and I'll probably be posting a few more of these giveaway messages throughout June.

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter (paranormal romance)

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles (YA, Two Hardcover Copies)

The Bridegroom by Ha Jin (short stories)

The Warlord's Bride by Margaret Moore (romance)

Waiting by Ha Jin (fiction)

Waiting by Ha Jin

I have a feeling Waiting by Ha Jin (2000) is going to be one of those novels that stays with me, even though I have no plans to read the story again.

Set in China, the story is about Lin, a doctor who marries the bride of his parents' choice, Shuyu, only to fall in love with a nurse, Manna. Since his only option for divorce without Shuyu's consent is to be separated for eighteen years, he lives his life as an army physician in a platonic relationship with Manna while visiting his wife and daughter in the village once a year to ask Shuyu for a divorce.

During the final section of the book, Lin and Manna are finally together. The passage of time and what happens to you along the way have a way of changing any relationship, though, and having waited so very long to be together can only add extra pressure and expectations.

Jin does an excellent job of providing a character study of Manna and, especially, Lin and their changes over time. I found the book very depressing, though wel…

Graduation Weekend--May 21-22, 2011

My sister Laura and her daughter/my niece Liz at Liz's high school graduation party.

My nephew Andrew with Maya before heading to Liz's graduation ceremony.

Maya taking Liz's photo before graduation.

Maya & Liz just after graduation. I love the way Liz is looking at Maya.

Andrew's girlfriend Misty, Andrew, and Maya after graduation.

This and That

One of my favorite photos of Maya and Rufus. We're thinking about Rufus even more than usual right now since he died in May 2010. Gone, but definitely not forgotten.

Gracie over at Gracie Bella Butterfly has a fun idea for a mail swap group, The Happy Mail Project, which is just getting started. Once you join the group, you can choose whether to participate in each monthly swap.

Maya, my mom, and I are off to Iowa this weekend for my niece's high school graduation. I'm sure the weekend will be a whirlwind, and then I'll be ready for another weekend after the time away. Hard to believe that three of my four nieces and nephews are officially adults now, too.

Anything new happening with you?

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensati…

Giving Back

First of all, an update on the cards I have for my soldier pen pal, Gordon.

1. Claudia, my great new pen pal/friend and a blogger at Moncy3. I also have photos of my recent order from one of her adorable Etsy shops to share in a future post.

2. TMC, a blogger at Return to Rural. A card from a stranger and a new blog for me to enjoy--bonus! She has a great recent post about the awkwardness/anxiety that comes with the start of a new pen pal relationship, too.

It's definitely not too late to get a card in the mail to me for him. Just drop me a line at if you need my mailing address.

I'm also happy to report that Maya is getting a gift she's going to love for her birthday next month because I made the high bid for the dandelion scrabble tile art pendant over at All 4 Alabama. They continue to add great new auctions daily, and the money all goes to helping recover and rebuild after the recent tornado-related disaster.

What's new and fun in your worl…

Herb & Maya--May 15, 2011

Here's a photo of my husband and daughter from yesterday. Notice the pretty shell necklace he brought back for her after his week in South Carolina and Virginia.


I went to see Bridesmaids, which my local movie critic raved about and called the best movie of the summer, yesterday, and, well, I'm feeling my age now.

Basically, Annie's (Kristen Wiig) life is self-destructing--failed business, job she hates, no real boyfriend, jerk of a booty call buddy, and truly depressing living arrangements--at the same time her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) becomes engaged. Sounds more depressing than comedic, right?

There are some laughs, so I don't feel that I wasted my time, but there's also a lot I didn't find funny that was certainly meant to be. There just seemed to be a lot of self-centered, disrespectful to other people behavior happening. Let's just ask, would you go on a rampage at your best friend's bridal shower, destroying food and decorations, because another bridesmaid stole the theme idea from you? How is that funny???

Melissa McCarthy, playing the sister of the groom and one of the bridesmaids, totally stea…

When You Dare by Lori Foster

Take just a minute to enjoy the eye candy of the cover for Lori Foster's When You Dare (2011). Not too shabby, right?

While conducting a solo raid into Mexico to save his friend's sister from sex trafficking, Dare Macintosh also finds Molly Alexander. For the first time in his mercenary career, Dare doesn't have smoeone to turn a rescued woman over to because they agree that something different is behind the kidnapping of Molly.

Who wants this small town, romantic suspense author out of the way?

Alpha male Dare does a pretty fantastic job of living up to the promise of the cover. Molly, on the other hand, just doesn't quite fit what I hoped. She's a little too bland and a little too calm about her life being thrown into complete chaos. I can definitely understand Dare's attraction for Molly; I'm just not really getting why Molly appeals so much to Dare.

The suspense in the story also isn't exactly suspenseful. Right from when Molly starts telling Da…

All 4 Alabama

Crystal over at the Life, Love, and Literature blog is part of the All 4 Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Auctions. They're going to need a lot of assistance to rebuild, and this is one way those of us too far away to volunteer our physical assistance can help.

There are some absolutely wonderful items available, including manuscript critiques and signed books. I have my eye on a cool dandelion scrabble art pendant for Maya.

They're on Day 2 of the auction, with different items becoming available each day. Individual auctions remain open for five days.

And, as noted on Crystal's blog:

Also, if you make a purchase at ANY Barnes & Noble or on their website from 5/7-5/14 and you use bookfair #1048605, 10% of sales using this code go to the United Way's West AL tornado relief.
(Crystal has a warm, friendly blog, the kind that makes you think you know her personally. She's also making me the coolest bookmarks for the members of my book group, but that's a story fo…

Maya's Mail

Maya's teacher's daughter happens to be a teacher working in Japan right now. The students from the two schools exchanged mail, and this is Maya's card from a boy in Japan. He likes baseball and Pokemon.

When Maya brought the card, which came weeks ago, home from school this past week she said, "Mom, you're going to be so excited!" Yep.

This is the drawing Maya included with our card to the soldier pen pal of Misty over at Confessions of a Pen Thief.

Any exciting mail in your life right now?

For the Prince Harry Fans

(Available from SarcasmandSmarts on Etsy.)

Prince Harry in his speech for Prince William and Kate Middleton:

William didn’t have a romantic bone in his body before he met Kate, so I knew it was serious when William suddenly started cooing down the phone at Kate..
Rather sweet, don't you think?

I have to admit that Maya lost a little of her enthusiasm for Prince Harry after learning whoever marries him doesn't stand much chance of becoming Queen later. To quote Maya, "Why would I want to be a princess if I can't be the queen later?"

The All Male Review Challenge

Very fun reading challenge being held by Missie of The Unread Reader blog and Logan E. Turner for the month of May called The All Male Review Challenge.

To qualify for the challenge, a book either needs to have a male author or a male protagonist, leaving lots of options available.

They even have three great prize packages (Contemporary, Paranormal, and International) for the lucky participant winners. Each linked review equals one entry for a prize package.

If you're a book blogger or put reviews on Goodreads, take a look and consider participating. I know I'll be adding blog posting links to the challenge soon.

Call for Birthday Cards!

Misty over at Confessions of a Pen Thief had a great idea that I'm stealing. She posted a request on a forum for birthday cards to mail to her pen pal soldier.

"My" soldier, Gordon, turns 27 on July 10th. (Yes, you know where this is heading.) If you want to send a birthday card for me to put in a box to Gordon, please drop me a line at to get my mailing address. I'm planning to put a birthday package in the mail to him no later than June 1.

Wouldn't that be great to have stacks of cards for him to open??

I'll keep you posted as I start receiving cards for him. . . .

It's a Small World

I really believe we're all inter-connected in this world, and the more we can learn about each other, the better for all of us.

I want to direct you to some of my favorite blogs today. Sort of my effort to say, "Whatever some people may do to cause divisions and rifts, we're still all one people living on one little planet in the universe."

Dana over at Save Snail Mail, one of my new pen pals, has some great posts right now on her recent trip to France. I'll warn you that you're going to want some Italian gelato or a French pastry or twelve after looking at her photos!

Got that Swing's Letters and Ramblings, a blogger out of Poland, shares her artistic talent and tidbits about her culture. You can even enter a giveaway for some envelopes she made right now.

A Thousand Miles from Nowhere is by an American blogger who happened to be living and working in Japan at the time of the recent devastation. She's now in Australia for a year.

Stories from Mexico i…


If you're my friend on Facebook, you already saw this photo posted over the weekend with the note, "This is my stuffed tiger because I say it is, and I am Princess Muffin."

Despite having dog toys of her own, Muffin always claims every stuffed animal belonging to Maya that is small enough for Muffin to drag to her own space. That pretty much limits what animals Muffin can "steal," and Maya's pretty good about letting her "baby" have whatever she wants, anyway.

The odd part, though, is no one in the house ever seems to see Muffin actually moving the stuffed animals. Well, I'm sure our Rottweiler, Allie, notices everything, but she doesn't let the rest of us in on the secret.