Change of Views

25 08 2010

I’m currently reading Messenger by Lois Lowry. For those who don’t know, it’s a sort-of sequel to The Giver, which was one of my favorite books in middle school. I always hated that there was no real ending to Jonas’s story. Messenger at least gives the reader an idea of what became of him and Gabe.

Though I’m not done yet, I have to say that Messenger has already had a profound impact on my thoughts on illegal immigrants. I’m sure that was partially the intent of this book. I’m still not happy with the fact illegal immigrants are here illegally, but my heart has definitely softened. But what other choice to some of them have?

It will be a topic for another day, perhaps.

I’m still unsure as to whether Messenger will be as big of a favorite as The Giver, but I am enjoying it. I’m looking forward to reading Gathering Blue, which was technically supposed to be read before Messenger, but I cheated. I wanted to know what happened to Jonas and Gabe more than I cared about reading in order.

Next time, I will have a better review of Messenger. Until then, dear readers.


Reading My Life Away

12 08 2010

I’ve been a sickly little lady this week. I haven’t felt like doing anything that requires real effort, so I’ve been reading pretty much everything that will sit still long enough.

I’m still working on The Stand by Stephen King. I’ve been reading on it for a long time now. I can’t remember ever taking this long to read a book before in my life, and I’m the gal that once read The Royals by Kitty Kelly (which is a big ol’ book). It’s a lot to take in, though. Lots of people, lots going on with all these people… And I’m still not entirely for sure where all this Mother Abigail/Randall Flagg business is going to lead. Right now, I’m too worried over Tom Cullen making it home safe and sound.

Confusing though the book may be, I don’t think anyone else could have written this story so well. Stephen King is awesome like that. Yes, it’s a confusing book, but wouldn’t it be a confusing time to live in?

Because this book takes a bit of mental toll on me, I take breaks here and there to read something “dumb,” which usually means reading something light like The Devil Wears Prada. Rather than read it for the ten millionth time, I figured I would give Twilight a try. How bad can it be?

Keep in mind, about this time last year, I read one page at the beginning of Twilight. I put the book back down and backed away slowly, afraid I would lose brain cells if I read any further. Last year, I concluded the book was written to be read by a five year old, not an old fart like yours truly who has a piece of paper proclaiming that she holds a BA in English. And yet people keep insisting that the Twilight series (I refuse to call it a “saga,” thank you very much) was the most wonderful book series ever written. I just needed to step off my literary high horse (HA!) and give them a chance.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t sit around reading Hemingway for fun. I despise most British literature. I’m a Harry Potter and Stephen King kind of gal. I’m not snobby in the least. I just expect a story that doesn’t read like it was written for a small child when it’s target audience is “young adults.” Then again, what does that tell you about young adults these days if the books have to be written like this? Hmmmm… a rant for another day, perhaps?

So I picked up a copy of Twilight and began reading it. Sheer boredom kept me reading. I had nothing better to do with my time. If I’d had so much as a game of solitaire to occupy me, I would have thrown the book into a dumpster somewhere.

First and foremost, Bella Swan is a whiny brat who barely has enough brain cells to complete normal human functions, like walking across a room without needing a trip to the ER. I don’t understand her attitude towards her father, Charlie, who doesn’t seem to be a horrible person or parent. He pretty much lets her do whatever she wants with little parental involvement until the next book. Secondly, she is about as self-centered as a person can possibly get. She ignores the fact she’s socially accepted at her new school to wallow in this dream world where she thinks she’s NOT accepted anywhere in the world. Never mind the fact she has no less than three (human) guys throwing themselves at her along with three female friends who think for some strange reason that Bella is cool.

Next comes Edward Cullen himself. I hate him. He upsets me to the point I have to take breaks from the books to go stomp around the room and remember that he’s not real. I think he’s very hateful, bossy, and frankly, just flat-out CREEPY! After reading the book, I thought maybe I was just being overly sensitive, considering my past with creepy exes who were hateful, bossy, and stalkeriffic. I watched the movie in hopes of getting a different view of the bloodsucker. Nope, I was right… he’s a stalker prone to tree-throwing tantrums and making Bella cry during most of their conversations.

“Perfect” and “godlike” were poor choices of words to describe Edward Cullen. I’d go with words synonymous with “angry,” “hostile,” and “creepy.” If any guy–no matter how hot or how sparkly–treated me like Edward treats Bella, he could kiss his chances with me goodbye.

So why do I keep reading the books if I hate the two main characters so much? Easy. His name is Jacob Black.

I love the character of Jacob. Stephanie Meyer must have based him off of someone. He’s one of the very few characters who shows any depth whatsoever. In Twilight, he’s a bit awkward and a little shy, but he has far more clever things to say than just about any other character combined. His spilling of tribe “superstitions” made no sense to me, but eh… I’m sure I was a blabbermouth around boys when I was fifteen.

In New Moon, Edward has ran off on an epic pout-fest, giving Bella (who needs serious therapy) a chance to bond with Jacob. And you know what? I LOVED the parts where Bella and Jacob interacted! They were flirty and teasing, just flat-out adorable together! I loved their budding relationship. It was something built off of friendship, not perfect bodies and dazzling vampire legends. He was the boy-next-door, a childhood friend, and just an all-around nice guy to Bella. I ate that stuff right up!

But as we all know, Bella broke his heart in a heartbeat (no pun intended) the second she thought Edward was back. This goes back to my “Bella is a self-centered brat” argument. She uses everyone around her to gain something for herself. She used Charlie to get away from her mom. She used Jessica to shut Charlie up about how Bella never goes out. She used Jacob to fill the hole in her heart she won’t shut up about that Edward left when he abandoned her. Some people might call this behavior a bit on the sociopath side. She doesn’t show all those signs, but you get what I mean, right?

Well, I’m over 1,000 words into this little rant of mine. As you may have guessed, I don’t like the Twilight books very much at all, yet this morning, I started reading Eclipse. I’m pretty much just hanging in there for Jacob. I want him to have a happy ending. He deserves better than Bella, so I’m hoping Stephanie Meyer introduces a new character in Eclipse just for Jacob. I couldn’t care less what happens to Bella and Edward.

So in conclusion, I will leave you with a quote by Stephen King:

“Both [J.K.] Rowling and [Stephanie] Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people… The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”
Stephen King, February 2009

Remodeling is Not a Hobby

4 08 2010

My life as of late has involved large portions of working and equally large portions of working on our new home. I have stuccoed and painted and cleaned to the point I glare at our buckets of mud. After my bad run-in with some Kilz primer, I’m not very interested in painting all the things anymore. And yet there is little choice in the matter. It needs to be done.

We’ve been working on the property for two years now. We started working on “the big house,” where we live now. After several months of headache, we realized this place was far more trouble than it was worth. Between the low ceilings, uneven floors, dangerous wiring, iffy plumbing, leaky roof, and the Pepto-pink living room… yeah. And those are just a few of the problems here, and I do mean that without any exaggeration.

We focused on cleaning up outside the houses (the other one was occupied for the first several months after we moved in). We hauled off a disturbing amount of trash from outside and inside the big house.  We got the lawn back under control. With the help of my goats, we reclaimed the hillside. Mostly just getting all the junk out of the yard and off the porches made the biggest difference.

When our “neighbors” moved out of “the little house,” we assessed the damage inside it. Besides the amazing amount of trash left behind, we were looking at patching holes, laying down new flooring, replacing a couple of sinks and a toilet… But the good news was that it was structurally sound. The wiring wouldn’t catch fire and kill us in the night. The plumbing worked (mostly). We weren’t going to sprain our ankles trying to get to the fridge.

Translation: It was a LOT less work to fix this place up and make it livable.

The big house is just that… big. Not a mansion or even two stories. It has two bedrooms, one and a half baths, a walk-in closet, plus a decent sized living room and kitchen. It’s more room than just the two of us need. It’s an old house, though. I can touch the ceilings in most of the rooms without standing on my toes. Larry scrapes his knuckles if he tries to put a shirt on while standing up.

The little house is slightly newer. It has two small bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small living room / kitchen area. Size-wise, it’s a serious step down, but having civilized ceiling heights would be quite awesome. Plus, the roof doesn’t leak because it’s tin. Yay!

The little house, however, hasn’t been without its own set of challenges. The “master bedroom” (which is every so slightly larger than the other bedroom) was dominated by a large closet that was handmade and took up 1/4 of the room (not to mention the entire west wall). Larry tore down 2/3 of the closet and rebuilt a smaller closet. This made room for our king sized bed… but just barely. We’re still unsure where the dresser will fit. We stuccoed and painted this room.

The second bedroom (the “study”) had a closet problem as well. Its closet took up 2/3 of the west wall. Larry framed up an addition to the closet, which filled up the wall and gave us more storage. We ripped up the carpet (which was stinky and moldy), stuccoed, and painted this room.

The bathroom? I don’t want to talk about the gory details. In short, we ripped up the linoleum, replaced the rotting floorboards underneath, replaced the linoleum, tore out the old non-functioning sink, and removed the toilet that was damaged.

Well, all of this took us two years. We are not carpenters. We are not plumbers. We did the best we could, but we needed professional help to finish the job. We hired some carpenters/contractors a couple of weeks ago. In no time, they accomplished what we couldn’t have done in another two years. Here’s a list of what they’ve done:

  • Cut and hung trim in every room
  • Replaced the front and back doors
  • Replaced all the kitchen cabinets
  • Replaced the kitchen sink and counters
  • Laid down new lamnent flooring in the kitchen, living room, and study
  • Put carpet in the bedroom
  • Built a wall–a freaking WALL–to help divide the living room and kitchen
  • Put a window in my kitchen wall so I could watch TV while I cooked
  • Put in new outlets in the kitchen and living room by putting them in the new wall
  • Fixed our work in the study closet
  • Hung closet doors
  • Replaced the floorboards in the kitchen because whomever put them in was an idiot
  • Probably a million other things I can’t remember right now.

So what’s left for us to do?

  1. Paint all the closet doors
  2. Paint the bedroom/bathroom doors
  3. Touch up paint around new trim
  4. Paint the trim
  5. Stucco the living room and kitchen
  6. Paint living room and kitchen
  7. Stain the cabinets

…and somehow get ALL of this done before next week.

But the good news despite all of this is that we will soon have our own Home. It won’t be just somewhere to live. It’s not a rental. It’s a place we’ve been able to remodel and design to our own tastes. It’s going to be worth every moment of aggravation and stress.

Pictures when we’re done will be posted! 🙂