Friday, March 27, 2009


I had a couple of ideas for a blog entry today, and plenty of time to explore one of them, but then ... ZAP! My power went out at about 9:30 am today. And it wasn't just one circuit, but the whole house. I found a flashlight (first try, even) and trudged down to the basement: no breakers tripped. I couldn't tell whether my neighbors had power, as it was so sunny and nice out there didn't need to be lights on. (It turned out at least one was without power, I discovered later.)

I was perplexed. First, I was in the middle of making some goodies for a bake sale, but the oven shut off. I had just started to read my e-mail, but the computer shut off. The TV was on in the background (I like my morning weather), and it made that freaky whiny whirring noise it always makes when it shuts down unexpectedly. What was I going to do? I couldn't bake. I couldn't blog. I couldn't check e-mail. I couldn't work on my current chapter (no hard copy to know where I was). I was planning a trip to the store, so I wrestled with the garage door and managed to get the car out without being crushed. The power was still out when I got back, and that's when I realized it was a message from my next assignment: REVIEW THE RESEARCH!

So I started reading. The power came out around noon, and then it was time to finish baking, eat lunch, check the e-mail, and before I knew it, it was time to go out for the scheduled Humane Society TNR posting I agreed to do. I had planned to write a page, maybe even a couple today. Instead, I have renewed appreciation for the convenience of electricity. And another reminder I should insist that Boy carry a housekey, because he'd have trouble getting in the house without it if the power was out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stop the future, I want to get off!

This week, our family experienced every parent's worst nightmare a milestone: my son got his driver's permit. It was inevitable, I suppose; Boy's first word was "car," after all. By the time he was two he could point at nameplates and say Ford or Chevy or Chrysler. (We're not quite sure what accounts for the fascination; we're not auto buffs, so I suspect the genetic influence of my father.) Anyway, that little car fanatic is now fifteen, tall enough to see over the dashboard, and able to drive a motor vehicle with an adult riding shotgun. I even let him drive my car from the Secretary of State's parking lot ... right to the post office, where I mailed the payoff for that car. Maybe that was tempting fate, but he has to practice sometime, right? To my credit, I didn't clutch my seat in fear or stomp an imaginary brake pedal once.

I'm sure next summer, when I don't have to drive to school ten times a week because he can drive himself to band practice, I will appreciate the fact that Boy can drive a car. Right now, though, I'm seeing a steep, slippery slope headed downhill: he'll learn to drive, then he'll drive away, then he'll grow up, then he'll leave home. Without him to nag me, I'll talk to the cats all day long, forget how to interact with people, and my husband will send me to the funny farm, where Boy won't visit me because I'm so totally, over-the-top embarrassing, and he really didn't think I could be any worse than I am now. (Good thing he refuses to read this blog.) It's tragic, really.

But wait a minute. The SOS info says that Boy's new Level 1 license may be cancelled at any time. Hmmm. I've noticed Boy has been extra polite this week, with no complaining about chores. (He even cleaned up some cat barf!) He needs parental cooperation to obtain a Level 2 license, so this could really work to my advantage. He may only be home for another three or four years, but with the proper motivation, they can be the most cooperative and useful years of his life! {evil cackle}

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Janespotting: Pride and Prescience

I decided to skip ahead to this 2004 continuation of Pride and Prejudice because it's the first in a series—the "Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries"—that visits each of Austen's works. It's one of my last stops before leaving P&P behind and going on to some of her other works. (I could spend six months with variations of the Darcys, there have been so many continuations, but I think I would lose patience after a while.)

So Carrie Bebris's Pride and Prescience (Or, a Truth Universally Acknowledged) is a mystery that opens on the very day of the Darcy and Bingley weddings. Elizabeth is happy to share the spotlight with her beloved sister Jane, but not so happy that Charles Bingley's sister Caroline, once Lizzy's rival for Mr. Darcy's affections, has decided to announce her own engagement during the celebration. Her intended is a wealthy American who seems devoted to her, even to the point of selling his Louisiana plantation and staying in England. The Darcys postpone their journey to Pemberley to attend the wedding, but find their visit extended when the newly wed Caroline Parrish begins behaving erratically. We see Elizabeth put in the unusual situation of feeling sympathy, not irritation, for the formerly snide Caroline, especially after a trip to the Bingley home at Netherfield turns dangerous for the Bingleys, and fatal for one of the extended party.

It falls to Elizabeth and Darcy to discover who committed the murder and what is behind Caroline's change in behavior. This is where the title comes in: Elizabeth has a "feeling" that something sinister, even supernatural, is behind the events, whereas Darcy will only believe what he can see and prove. (It was a very Mulder/Scully kind of vibe, with the male-female roles reversed.) Eventually they work together to solve mystery and bring the evildoers to justice, finally earning a family Christmas together at Pemberley.

So, how did I think the Darcys worked as sleuths? Pretty well. I got involved in the mystery, and figured out the culprit just a little while before the reveal, which is perfect timing for reading a mystery. (I like to feel smart by figuring it out early, but too early means it gets boring. This was just right.) I liked to see the Darcys interact as a married couple; the point of view was mainly Elizabeth's, but Darcy got a couple of his own chapters as well, and both rang true. The only thing I didn't really care for was the supernatural element—not that it existed, but that the story seemed to rely on it pretty heavily. Still, it was a fun read, and very hard to put down. I look forward to seeing what the author does with characters from other Austen books.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Photo of the Week--3/16/09

Since we celebrated St. Patrick's Day last week*, I thought I would return to the Emerald Isle for my featured photo. This lovely waterfall was near Maghera, County Donegal, in July of 1999. All the green! The unfrozen water! Actual visible sunlight! No wonder I felt I needed this picture; spring weather can't get here to Michigan soon enough.

*at least, those people who aspire to have Irish heritage. Not all of us can be fortunate enough to have actual Irish ancestors, as I do. I look great in green!