Wednesday, August 27, 2014

elsewhere



Sometimes I wish I had a long commute to take so I could listen to more audiobooks.  I finally finished Elsewhere, but I felt like it took me a month to listen to the whole thing.  I would try to listen while running, cooking dinner, or if it was just Logan and me in the car. 

Once again, I didn't love the narrator.  I forget how high girl voices are and this girl's voice wasn't something I looked forward to hearing.  The story was interesting up until the end.  I don't know what I really expected, but I didn't love it.

Elsewhere is where you go after you die.  You get there by ship and once you've arrived, you go to orientation.  It's basically like life on Earth, but you're dead.  You can't die again.  You can get hurt, but you'll eventually heal.  Most citizens take jobs and lead normal lives after they get used to the idea that they're dead.  You can do something completely different from you did while alive, which is what most people choose to do.

One major catch:  you start aging backwards from the day you died until you become a baby again, then your sent down a river, back to Earth to be reborn.  This isn't a bad thing if you've lived a full life and died at an old age.  For Liz, this is the worst news.  She was only 15, less than a year from turning 16 and getting her driver's license.  She was hit by a taxi and was in a coma for weeks in the hospital.  When she wakes up on the ship going to Elsewhere, she is confused and it takes her almost the entire trip to figure out she's dead. 

Liz is bitter that she will never drive, won't go to prom or graduate, won't get married, won't have babies...won't fall in love.  She is met at the dock by her grandmother, Betty, who died of cancer before Liz was born.  They have a strained relationship in the beginning because Betty thinks Liz should try to find a life in Elsewhere, but Liz wants to spend all of her time at the observation decks watching her family and friends go on without her. 

Eventually Liz realizes that's no way to live, especially if she'll be here for what she thinks is a short 15 years.  She takes a job helping dogs get acclimated to death, makes friends, and even finds love. 

I really liked the idea of Elsewhere and how you aged backwards, Benjamin Button style.  There were some major loopholes/flaws though.  Memories were maintained until they weren't.  Liz at 15 falls in love with Owen, who died in his late 20s, but meets Liz when he is 17.  They're "perfect" for each other because they're close in age, but he had much more life experience, was even married on Earth, and now they are compatible because they could be in high school together?  At 11 and 9, Liz calls him out on his immaturity, but at the same time they're having an adult conversation about love and marriage.  They continue to age backward together and when he's 6 and she's 4, Liz has the mind of a preschooler, and can no longer read.  She also doesn't remember she's in love with Owen, and his 6 year old mind doesn't know either.  Then when she's a baby being sent back, Owen is a toddler and doesn't comprehend what's going on at all.  He cries and is upset that he won't see her anymore, but doesn't know why and is consoled easily with "maybe you'll see her again someday." I understand that babies and toddlers can't talk or read or write, but I felt like if they're brain was reverting, shouldn't they have lost memories earlier?  I don't know.  Too many open ended scenarios, I guess. 

So a decent story and another audiobook finished.  I wonder if I'd like it better if I had read the actual book.

Monday, August 25, 2014

sewing: apron

For our canning adventure, Jenn teased me that we should wear aprons.  And then the reminder email was sent and it suggested we bring an apron.  Oh jeez.  I have an apron that I'll wear around the house, but it's old and stained and was from a wedding shower, so it has signatures and sentiments written on it.  Didn't really want to wear that to a class, so I pulled out some fabric, traced around the apron, and made a new one.

Super simple!  I hemmed the top and had to add a four inch piece of fabric to the bottom from the scraps, then hemmed that.  I hemmed the straight sides and added two pockets, as well.  Then I cut up an old sash belt from a dress I don't own anymore and used that for the ties.  It wasn't super long, so I held the apron up to my front, hung the tie around my neck and pinned where to attach it on the front.  Starting at the pin, I sewed down the curved edges with the tie like bias tape, and whatever was leftover became the ties for the waist. 


It turned out pretty nicely.  I wish my shorts were a tad longer, haha.  I loved how fast and easy it was to make and now have another gift idea in my sewing repertoire. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

landline


Finally finally got Landline from the library.  I was on the holds list for what seemed forever, but really only a month.  And then I read it in a weekend.  I could've finished in one sitting if I didn't have to sleep.

Anyway!

Landline is Rainbow Rowell's most recent novel, and it's not YA.  I have read every single thing she's written and want more.  This book wasn't my favorite, but it did not disappoint.

SO...  Georgie is a 30-something comedy writer for a television show.  She and her partner since college, Seth, have an amazing opportunity to finally get their own show.  The only thing is the meeting where they have to have four episodes written and ready is three days after Christmas.  Sure, they've been planning and writing and hoping for this for years, but now that it's actually happening, they have to get serious, which means working through Christmas.  Which means, Georgie can't go to Nebraska with her husband, Neal and their two girls.  Neal is frustrated and angry, but he will not forget the whole trip just because Georgie can't go.  She won't even be around much because she'll be working, so he takes the girls alone. 

At fist Georgie is cool with this, as cool as one can be.  Her mom finds out Neal went and immediately assumes he's left her for real.  Georgie tries to explain that while things haven't been great, they're definitely not separated.  It's nothing, Mom.  But then Georgie tries calling Neal and isn't able to get a hold of him.  She chats with her mother-in-law or her daughters, but Neal is always out or asleep or busy.  She spends the night at her mom's because she doesn't want to go home to her empty house and this is closer to the studio where she works anyway.  Her unreliable cell phone (always dead unless plugged in) isn't going to cut it, so she digs an old yellow rotary phone from her childhood out of the closet and plugs it in.  Georgie tries the cell with no luck, so she dials Neal's mother's land line.  His mom answers and sounds a little wary, but Georgie chalks it up to the time difference because it's almost midnight in Omaha.  Georgie and Neal talk and address the fight they had before he left.  It's weird, but she can tell something is off.  First of all, Neal's dad is in the background and well, he's dead.  Then a few other things Neal says, she recalls from a conversation they had back in college.  Georgie freaks out, but over the next few days realizes her phone is magical and she's talking to Neal from the past. 

This sends her into a downward spiral of sorts.  Georgie isn't productive at work and is constantly trying to catch Neal on his cell during the day.  In the evenings, she goes back to her mom's and talks to old-school Neal on the land line.  She tries to figure out if she's messing up his future/her present and wonders if this is her chance to fix things by either a) making him break up with her and not eventually propose or b) this is all supposed to happen for her present to come true.  Maybe inevitably they aren't supposed to be together? 

All this time talking to young Neal makes her remember what she loves about him.  The story is told with memories of how they met in college and how she tried so hard to get him when he seemingly was uninterested and even a little cool.  Seth, who was the center of Georgie's world, but never dated her, would make fun of Neal and try to keep her focus on him and their work.  In the end, Neal proposed on Christmas Day after driving 27 hours straight from Nebraska to California.  Georgie remembers they fought before he left and the words he said felt like a break up.  By talking to young Neal, would he still propose in a few days?  Was she messing everything up?  Would her life and kids suddenly fade out like in Back to the Future?

Rainbow, why and how can you write characters I love so much?  I don't relate to all of them, but man I pulled so hard for Georgie and Neal.  I wanted everything to work out and I had to keep reading to see if it did.  I hated that Georgie was so selfish and didn't see what she should do.  But I also totally understood why and where she was coming from while learning about her relationship with Seth, symbiotic almost.  I really liked this book and again, can't wait to read anything else this woman write.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

gardening + canning

Since Jenn talked me into gardening, the most obvious next step is canning, right?  I mean, we were seeing some success with our gardens, so why wouldn't you want to figure out ways to use the abundance of tomatoes coming out of them.  A few weeks ago she mentioned a canning class at Serenbe.  She didn't directly ask, but I could tell she wanted to take the class.  I offered to do it with her and she signed us up and we'd been looking forward to it since. 

Saturday afternoon we joined eight other people in the kitchen while Lyn walked us through a few options and steps.  It was really interesting and informational and lots of fun.  The class was hands on, so we took turns coring tomatoes, blanching them so the skins would come off easily, then putting them in jars. 



Next we cut and cored apples to be cooked for apple butter.  While it cooked, Lyn talked to us about the science in canning.  She taught us basic pH info and gave us several websites and cookbook suggestions for recipes. 



After the apples cooked, we added spices, blended them, and put the butter into jars.   Next we made pickles.  She told us cucumbers are some of the hardest vegetables to pickle, but gave us some tips. 


When the class was over, we all walked away with a jar of tomatoes, apple butter, and bread & butter pickles.  I'm so proud of the work we did, but also really excited to eat them over the next few weeks.  Plus now I know how to do it and have dreams of making my own peach and pear butter, marinara sauce, and pickle some okra, green beans, and cucumbers.  Mmm.