Friday, August 26, 2011

newest niece

My newest niece is one month old.  Her mom let me take some pictures, I think they came out nice.

Crazy hair, huh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3 years

3 years
2 pairs of rubber boots
1.5 months with no electricity
172 pots of beans (mas o menos)
2 trips to Chetumal
125 market saturdays
countless sunsets
2 best friends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

book review: Blackout by Connie Willis

Even though the books I've reviewed so far seem to fit a nice, educated, non-fiction category, the truth is 99% of the time I'm reading fiction.  And yes, the honor's grad in me cringes to admit it.  But I love a good story, and non-fiction can tend to be... dry.  One of my favorite types of book to read are historical fiction, because I feel like I'm learning something, even while indulging in a novel.  Not sure how true that always is, but it makes me feel better about spending 6 hours reading (wait, did I say 6 hours?  umm, I meant the minutes I scrounge between industriously cleaning and doing farm chores.)

Anyways, Blackout is historical fiction.  The book's premise is a neat concept-  time travel has been invented, and scholars use it to transport themselves back to the time they are interested in studying.  The (many) characters in this book choose different events and locations in World War 2 England.  They try to integrate themselves into daily life in order to unobtrusively study the events.   Of course, things end up going wrong.... and 500 pages later the book ends up in a major cliff hanger (huge pet peeve! but don't worry, there is a book 2).

 The details of life in wartime England are fascinating and absorbing.  The author does a wonderful job with the time traveler idea.  The characters know in theory what the "ending" will be, but they find themselves entering daily life, where people are much the same as any time period.  Even though huge events are happening all around them, the characters find themselves occupied with small everyday concerns, such as a hole in new panty hose, an annoying neighbor, or having cabbage again for supper.  The author does a wonderful job of bringing the time period alive in all the little details.  You can tell this is a very well- researched book, but the many details do not obtrude into the story, they make the story richer.

Besides the cliff hanger ending, another thing that bothered me about this book was the multitude of characters with first- person narratives, and the fact that each chapter switched characters and narratives.  While this allows the story to encompass more of what was going on in World War two England, I often found myself confused as to which character I was reading about.  The author also has the annoying habit of bringing in new characters (with first person narratives) in random chapters, leaving me trying to figure out what the heck was going on  and who was narrating. 

However, I recommend this book, especially if you need a long book for a trip or plane ride.  I don't think this is a book you can set down and then pick up a while later, because you will not be able to keep all the characters straight.  It is a long book, be ready to devote some time.  Don't be afraid of the time-travel bit, it's not a science-fictiony book.  I felt this book gave me realistic idea as to what life was like for everyday people during wartime England, and it is fascinating. 

**PS I reviewed the sequel, All Clear.

Monday, August 15, 2011

snapshots: visitors

So like I mentioned, my parents came for a little visit.  It was hot, but my car is air-conditioned.  We spent a lot of time driving around :)

 We found an old steam engine in the jungle, which amazingly was made in Pennsylvania

We attempted to go to a cave, but it was flooded....

This is Daniel's "caves are scary" face.  We also went to the inland blue hole, which normally has quite stunningly blue water.  Unfortunately the water was brown (it rained a lot).

We played scrabble by lantern-light.  Daniel beat us all, repeatedly.

And a cool sunset.  That shiny white dot is the moon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Benque Fiesta 2011

Ok so this happened a month ago, but it was pretty much the perfect Saturday.  Market in the morning, fiesta in the afternoon-- specifically to buy Pibil, the best pork and tortilla combo ever, and then watching the last Harry Potter movie that evening.  I even think there was some lime juice thrown in there somewhere.

ps photo edited with Picnik, free and very fun.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

the zoo part three

This is my final zoo post, I promise.  My parent's visit was fun last week, although it was really hot here so we didn't do much.  I'll put some pictures up as soon as I have a few extra minutes of charge on my computer (yeah, still no electricity...)

Anyways, we spent quite a while watching this little fox watch his wished- for lunch:

here, birdy birdy birdy

I don't have a super zoom lens on my camera.  I was actually this close to the little guy.  He thought I was funny looking, but that Daniel's nose has potential.  :)

One of my favorite pictures from the day.  If this bird had wanted to, he could have pecked me right through the fence.  I think the camera confused him though.  Amazing colors, true?

It was good practice for me because I had to focus my camera manually in order to shoot through the fencing.   I think it added a really neat texture to the background.

Monday, August 1, 2011

book review: the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I had heard of this book when it first was published, and ignored it as another feel- good mystic self-help book.  Is this the deepest, most profound thing I’ve read in a while? No, but it was pleasantly though provoking while being a quick read.  The author decides to dedicate a year to becoming happier.  She starts this by doing a lot of research into happiness- reading studies and books that range from Oprah to Aristotle.   Then she chooses 11 premises that should increase happiness, and tries each for a month.  At the end of the year, she decides what actions/ ideas, if any, have improved her overall happiness.
I liked that the author started with research, I think it is my scientific side.  I found the studies she quoted on happiness interesting.  The beginning of the book is strong, but eventually the author starts quoting her blog comments and the writing seems to get choppy, like she realizes she’s beaten the point to death already.  However, I would recommend reading this book.  While reading, I found some of her “rules” trite, but I noticed phrases would pop into my head whenever I was in a bad mood.  For example, one of her techniques for when you need a happiness boost is to tackle a task you have been procrastinating, which worked for me.  Another tip I appreciated (and use) is to use a bathroom when it’s available (the premise being that at least you will be a little more comfortable).   Obviously not deeply profound, but sometimes it's nice to have a little reminder about daily things that can make life a bit more pleasant.

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