Monday, March 30, 2015

Auntie Nettie Reads A Lot 2015 - 1st Quarter

Much to the detriment of regular blogging, I have been bringing home "homework," because there just isn't enough time during "working" hours. "Working hours" should be renamed: MEETINGS or "Endless REPLY ALL free-for-alls." Once I have "worked" during "working hours" and done "homework," I just haven't had it in me to blog.**
I HAVE been trying to give myself a break by reading ye old-fashioned books. Since I have at least four bookshelves full, a nightstand with a pile underneath it AND on top of it, an wish-list pages long, and a To-Get-From-the-Library list that's 10+ pages long, I've been trying to place "catch-up" on my reading, just a bit. I think this quarter shows quite a difference from this time last year.
The usual caveat applies: If you are just finding the blog, please note that this list was maintained mainly so that I could remember what I've (or NOT) read this year. The record does not fully represent me or all of my interests, so don't judge my reading habits. My interests change quite frequently. Also, as a general rule, I don't do book recommendations or link to major retailers or publishers. Except for the ARCs listed below [thanks major publishers!], most of these books came from MY library (now noted) or a public library. 

Go forth and READ!  

January to March
Crystal Line by Anne McCaffrey (mine, reread) 

All Emergencies, Ring Super by Ellen Emerson White  (mine, reread) 
The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson 
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin 
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (ARC) (Have tissues) 
Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg 
The Mermaid of Chelsea Creek by Michelle Tea (mine) 
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book 1) by Deborah Harkness (mine, reread) 
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy Book 2) by Deborah Harkness (mine, reread) 
The Book of Life (All Souls Book Trilogy Book 3) by Deborah Harkness (mine) 
The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale (mine, reread) 
Friends for Life by Ellen Emerson White (mine, reread) 
 Life Without Friends by Ellen Emerson White (mine, reread) 
Stately Pursuits by Katie Fforde (mine, reread) 
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (mine, reread) 
Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard (ARC) 
The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne (reread) *** 
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer 
A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde 
Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by Katherine Reay 
Lizzy and Jane: A Novel by Katherine Reay 
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris: A Novel with Recipes by Jenny Colgan 
Carrie Goes Off the Map By Phillipa Ashley 
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School 1) by Gail Carriger 
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School 2) by Gail Carriger 
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School 3) by Gail Carriger 
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (didn't finish) 
The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand 
At Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel by Amanda Cabot 
Shifting Shadows  by Patricia Briggs 
Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Novel) by Patricia Briggs (reread) 
Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega Novel) by Patricia Briggs (reread) 
Fair Game (Alpha and Omega Novel) by Patricia Briggs (reread) 
The Witch with No Name (Final Hollows Novel) by Kim Harrison 
The Book Stops Here (A Bibliophile Mystery) by Kate Carlisle 
Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega Novel) by Patricia Briggs 
Prudence (Custard Protocol Book 1) By Gail Carriger

** I will "retro-blog" soon or "back-date" stuff, so if you check in the archives, eventually, I may fill in the blank past of the blog. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Signs of Spring?

With apologies to The Sound of Music:

 Raindrops on snowdrops and whistles of song birds.

These are a few of my favorite things.

 Despite the almost every other day snow-storms, Mother Nature is trying ....

~photos by iTouch

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fields of Mist

Sometimes the ghosts of the forest and of the past are closer than you think.

The seasons March on.

~ photos by iTouch

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a-ha! The Band is Back Together

Here's an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise difficult March! 

I'm so excited!

From the press release at
"The new album, Cast In Steel, will be the band’s tenth studio album, and the first new music by the group since the critical and commercial success of 2009’s Foot of the Mountain. Cast In Steel will be released on 4th September 2015, three weeks before the band return to play the Rock in Rio music festival in Brazil, and thirty years since their debut single, Take on Me, reached number one around the world."

"When a-ha played the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010 to close the ‘Ending on A High Note – Farewell Tour’, it felt a definitive full-stop on the band’s activities. As Morten Harket says, ‘it has been a genuine and real disbanding. There has been no a-ha in the sense of the word during that time.’ For Morten, Paul Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, the five-year break has allowed them to explore a rich seam of various creative projects, both musical and artistic.

The return came about in a simple, organic way, as Paul explains: ‘it started off very easy and low-key with Morten dropping by my studio at various occasions, and I would show him songs that I was working on. He would sing on the songs he felt a connection with and leave the ones that didn’t and it just went like that until we had done 10 or 12 songs.’

The lack of pressure and deadlines was definitely a bonus, and reminded Paul of when the band first started out: ‘The beauty of it was that we could do this totally under the radar; there were no deals in place, no contracts, tours planned or deadlines looming … just our shadow endeavours. It was back to exactly how we started in my parents cabin way back when in the 80s. Some instruments, a song, a voice.’

This nod to the band’s early years wasn’t the only one during the recording process. Paul also got back in touch with Alan Tarney, the producer who worked on a-ha’s first three albums, Hunting High and Low, Scoundrel Days and Stay on These Roads: ‘I made contact with Alan to get his input at a stage where I felt an outside opinion would be valuable. I always had tons of respect for his musicality and know-how and thought it would be a cool thing to get him involved now that we’re starting up again.’

For Magne, the last five years has seen him focusing on both his visual art passion and a myriad of musical projects. But even so, the band were never far away from his thoughts: ‘Writing and recording for a-ha is obviously a big part of my creative DNA, and every once in a while a song would come along that I felt could have been perfect for a-ha. Once I decided to do this, I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed shaping it with a-ha in mind.’

That sense of enjoyment and belief in the new material is clear from all three members: ‘The making of our album has so far been such an uplifting experience,’ says Paul; ‘It is a really unexpected pleasure to be writing songs for Morten’s voice again,’ says Magne. ‘I knew sitting down with Paul and Magne,’ Morten says, ‘that this would be a real genuine effort. We have never been ones to look back so you can take for granted all three of us are doing this because we know we can create something new. The songs have to be good: the benchmark is always the same.’

As Foot on the Mountain showed, a-ha are a different beast to the vast majority of their contemporaries – still at the peak of their songwriting powers, rather than living off past glories. Cast in Steel picks up where their last studio album left off – this is the sound of band relaxed and refreshed, at ease with themselves and ready to take on the world once more.


Morten makes it clear that ‘we are not getting back to stay together. We’ve agreed to come back for a set period: one album, one tour. It’s a great opportunity and allows us to write another chapter.’

Yet whatever these talented individuals do next, either together or alone, the achievements of their extraordinary thirty-year career are difficult to ignore: ‘No matter how far or fast we try to run,’ Magne admits, ‘the a-ha legacy is always there. I think it is a sign of mental health to wrestle with your own legacy, but perhaps also not bad to embrace it sometimes.’

Over the next twelve months, with anniversary concerts, a new album, reissued material and international tour dates, both band and fans will have the opportunity to embrace the remarkable music of a-ha once again."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grey Days

The calendar may say spring, but it just keeps on raining, snowing, and being cold, foggy, and miserable. It's really starting to wear on a person. Everything is just monochrome. 
Even an amber lantern doesn't help make the concrete and snow seem any better.

I need spring.
I need more blue skies.

Thank goodness for fun mail from friends.
~photos by iTouch

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's the Spring Equinox? Really?

I can't wait to complain about sitting in the Hot Seat!

It's the Spring Equinox and the snow - 
large, flakey, perfectly pointed, perfectly crystalline pointed - 
snow is coating everything 

Honestly? While it was beautiful? 
I'm just over it.

Go home winter. You are not welcome anymore!

~photos by iTouch

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beware the Ides of March

If you don't get why I think this is funny, I'm not sure we can be friends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Warm Family Photos

While the East Coast thaws out -- and by thaws out, breathes deeply of temperatures above freezing and looks around wildly for buckets while alllllllllllllllllllllllll kinds of roof leaks are suddenly apparent in bubbles in drywall and water dripping from new and exiting places -- the nieces and nephews in the Western states get to play outside.

Thanks to Grumpa and their folks for sharing.

 Sarah and Cannon checking on Grandmary and Grumpa's house for them.

As of March 8th, the Idaho kids were out exploring the local waterways,
 while Jaime decided to pose for her 3 month photo portfolio.
Sweet Sunny Girl.

It was 62 degrees this afternoon. Even though the sun was starting to go down by the time I got off my trains by the Attic, and it was starting to be colder, I may have decided NOT to wear my coat home -- just because.

Because ...


Even if my office has sprung leaks.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Storm Skyviews

Just as a record, THIS is what the East Coast looked like the last few days:

THIS pretty much sums it up. And probably the best way to deal with it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

4 Out of 5 March Days = Snow

This March Madness is a "hare" crazy. This latest storm is pretty, at least, but out of the last 5 days? It's snowed, sleeted, and/or rained 4 of them. On top of what we already have on the ground or in piles? It's making everyone a bit ... GRRRRR.

Caramoor is a winter wonderland, and I'm sure the back woods are gorgeous. It's unfortunately over waist-high in some spots though, and I don't have enough winter-gear to break paths just to go exploring.

 Fifty shades of grey on the north commute

 Even the Caramoor gargoyles are saying:
This storm did add a pretty outline to everything though -- and future rust.
 You have to look for the pops of color:
  Yo Mother Nature? Saints perserve us! Don't ice us out!
 The poor gardens are just completely buried.
All of our stucco is buckling and concrete finials are really suffering. This one looks okay, but other are starting to erode. (As is our patience....)

At least this mural is holding up - and reminds us of what spring/summer is like.
   But ENOUGH already. I want to walk away.

 ~photos by iTouch

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Marching Forth: Trudging for the Train

 ~photos by iTouch

New Year's Resolutions: Write More ... Well, Edit More

One of my very unofficial resolutions, both personal and professional, was to write more this year.

Maybe I should have been more specific. BLOGGING, per se, didn't end up being part of the resolution.

However, I do have some photographic evidence that I have been in editorial/publishing mode.

Behold, evidence of the 60 page departmental "annual report" that I helped compile, lay-out, edit, print, collate, and assemble for internal use. It was a team effort, definitely, but ... I helped. Yes, we went old-school spiral binding on the 50 copies I did last week, but ... old-school was leaps and bounds ahead of what last year's looked like.

AND ... I was 3 days ahead of production deadlines.

 And I have a new appreciation for the publishing process and our in-house program compiler.