In what is rapidly becoming tradition, I spent a holiday Sunday at Putnam Park Race Course, just west of Indianapolis.


To watch 60 or so riders take their motorcycles around the track all day.

Really, really fast.

That whole "blow down the straightaway at 150mph, touch your knee to the ground in the corners" kind of fast.

This is one of my favorite days every year. :-)

Luckily, this year no one broke themselves (yay!), the bro-in-law kicked some speeding motorcycle ass (yay!), and I got to spend all day borrowing their shiny new SLR camera, and going a wee bit snap happy (yayayay!).

(God, I'm jealous. I lurve this camera, and want one so bad...)

In any case, the weather was perfect, the company entertaining, the riding spectacular, the views good, and the pictures hopefully captured it all. Below are just a few of my fave snapped shots for the day - except that last one. Michelle took it, with instructions to "work it like Tyra!"

I giggled a lot during that little session.

Good times, good times. When's the next track day?

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

And of course, we had to have a little live action of Don hitting speed on the straightaway. It's surprisingly tough to keep the camera up with the zippy motorcycle. ;-)

(He's the second rider...)

And a random musing, while I'm at it...why is there no MotoGP fanfic? There is fanfic for everything in the known universe, but no MotoGP. Mayhaps I will have to be a trailblazer someday...

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Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

I don't know what it is about Giffin's books - they aren't stories of truly remarkable events, full of daredevil adventure, or provide nail biting excitement - and yet each and every one of her titles are among my first books to recommend to a reluctant reader. Giffin's true strength, I think, is creating an empathetic, appealing character, though flawed, with whom the reader immediately connects and cheers for.

This new title is no exception - Ellen is a happy newlywed, living in New York, buoyed by financial success as a couple, job satisfaction, and her best friend Margot. So why do things start to shift when she runs into an old ex-boyfriend, Leo?

Suddenly, the tide changes, and Ellen is questioning everything in her orbit - including her relationship with husband Andy. Ellen's flirtation with Leo is addictive, as you get the feeling you are on the tightrope with her...

This isn't a fast paced thriller, but rather a slow burn, full of suspense as you read to see where Ellen ends up, and if the ending is going to be a happy one. I also really enjoyed the best friend dynamic with Margot, and the family connections that fill the pages as well.

I'm not sure this was my favorite Giffin book, but it was such a satisfying read, and one I couldn't put down, finishing it in only a day and ending with a smile and a snap of the cover.

If you haven't read Giffin before, be sure to pick up her first novel, Something Borrowed. You won't regret it. :-)


Three Shirt Deal by Stephen J. Cannell

This is the latest novel from television guru Cannell, and the latest in the "Shane Scully" series. This time, LAPD Detective Scully is trying to exonerate a seemingly innocent inmate with the help of an attractive new partner, Secada Llevar.

As always, Scully breaks a few rules, breaks a few bones, and finds himself in dangerous positions in the pursuit of justice, while at the same time struggling to repair his marriage to Alexa, who only months earlier suffered a gunshot wound to the head, thus altering her personality in a few ways.

This is another fast-paced thrill ride with a likable protagonist, a great romp around LA, and a satisfying conclusion. I really dig on the Scully novels!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Scott Brick. Brick IS Scully, and I always prefer to listen, rather than read, these novels. Brick's voice and characterization are unexcelled. He's the man!


Anderson Falls

Anderson Falls (near the home of the fam) isn't really all that remarkable.

It's not exactly Niagara, it's not a big tourist destination, heck, if you don't know which back road to take, you'd never even find it.

And yet, it's one of my favorite spots when I think of "back home".

I remember clambering across the stepping stones, proud that I made it without falling, even on my little girl legs.

I remember sliding my way down to walk behind the falls, frozen into solid ice during a particularly cold winter.

I remember walking the trails with my father, not saying much, but enjoying the outdoors and the alone time, which was fairly rare.

I remember walking along the river bed during droughts, jumping from stone to stone, splashing water, and wondering if we could make it to the end of the river if we could just walk fast enough...

But like so many things, Anderson Falls seems to have fallen into disarray in the last few years - the parking lot is tiny and potholed, the paths are overgrown and tangled, and the stepped stones are all gone, not having been replaced for years, leaving the other side of the river totally isolated.

And yet, with all the rain we've had lately, the falls seemed to be reminding us that she's more than just a trickle of a stream and a forest of trees. The water is a torrent, tumbling over the falls and creating her own spray, coating the trees nearby.

I'm so glad I was there to see the deluge. Now, if only I could get across again, to those magical trails that spin you further and further into the forest...


A Welcome Grave by Michael Koryta

I've read Koryta's first two mystery novels, so I wanted to read his third foray into fiction,, having been impressed with the other novels in the Lincoln Perry series.

It doesn't hurt that Koryta is a) from Bloomington, Indiana and b) published his first novel when he was only 21 (bastard!). ;-)

Lincoln Perry finds himself the target of a murder investigation when the now-husband of his then-fiancee is found dead and tortured. What follows is a fast paced mystery with twists and turns galore, scenes in Brown County, Indiana to Cleveland, Ohio, compelling characters and a great shoot-em-up ending. I couldn't put this one down!

A great mystery novel, blurbed by some of the best in the business! Recommended!

(Link to my Crucial Pop review)


The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

I really enjoyed Jackson's first novel, gods in Alabama, so I was eager to read her latest novel, particularly with the teaser from the jacket and the first line:

"Until the drowned girl came to Laurel's bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna."

How can you stop after reading a line like that?

Jackson once again takes the reader deep into the South, mixing mysticism and mournfulness into a story that will stay with the reader after finishing the last page. It's not really a ghost story, but there are most ghosts than just the obvious ones on the page...

Jackson's writing will truly pull the reader in, and this is a nice change of pace from the regular fiction fare - recommended!


Full of Grace by Dorothea Benton Frank

This novel was not at all what I expected from the dust jacket - I thought it would be a light-hearted tale of family and southern tradition, love and acceptance.

Instead what I got was life threatening illness and a religion conversion, a few bits of family drama, some death and an entirely too tidy ending.

Thank god this audiobook was abridged - I never would have made it through this title if I hadn't been trapped in the car with it, and knowing it was fairly short.

I've never read Frank before, but if this is standard fare, I won't be grabbing another one.

A bust for me. :-(

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Susan Bennett. Bennett did an acceptable job, though the Jersey accent of the main character tended to either grate or disappear at times. Okay, but not the best.


It's my sister's birthday today.

(She's the pretty one, I'm the smart one, but she'll ALWAYS been the older one.)

She's in Cancun, basking on a beach for a few days, which she so totally deserves after spending months "bringing the vision to life" for her multi-gazillion dollar company.

(I spent my week fighting for my capital project fund passage and learning our entire accounting and budgetary ins and outs in two days, which I will be solely responsible for for three months while my AA goes on leave. Sister got the better deal here.)

And yet, even though it's her birthday, I got MY prezzies from her today.

(My birthday is Monday.)

Aren't they perfectly pink and pretty?

I love hydrangeas...

Cool Vase


Pretty in Pink

I'm off to the homestead tomorrow to see Chemo!Girl (my mum started chemo this past weekend) and Shopping!Dad, and to ring in another birthday with the fam. Good times. :-)

But how 'bout one more pretty posy picture before I go...


Thanks, Sis!

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"The History of Blogging" makes me giggle.


(via Cliff Landis)


Spring Onion Soup

I've been exploring lots of new recipes lately, and I figured as I hit on a few winners, I'd share them with y'all. Here's my latest success...

Spring Onion Soup Recipe


2 cups chopped green onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cans of beef broth
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
slices of French bread
cloves of garlic
Parmesan cheese

Blanch the green onions. (Boil water, dunk them in for just a minute, then pop them into ice water to cool). Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion until golden - about 8 minutes. Add the beef broth, bring to a simmer, and then cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and remaining butter.

Rub bread slices with garlic cloves, place on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for two minutes. Top each toast with cheese and bake until the cheese melts and the tops are golden - about four more minutes.

Add the green onions to the warm soup, pour into bowls, and then top with a cheese toast.


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You know how airports and hotels and universities all have those zippy plasma screen televisions with updates and promotions and pictures continually scrolling on them?

I've wanted one of those for my library for AGES.

Sadly, cost is a wee bit of a factor. Those screens are uber-expensive, and then getting a program that will scroll and flip and update can be awfully pricey.

So, what do we do in the TinyTown library?

Get creative - on the cheap!

I decided that with a castoff monitor from my folks (thanks, Dad!), a decommissioned CPU from the Indiana Room and a powerpoint presentation on a flash drive, we could build our very own zippy promotional system!

It sits by our circulation desk and flips between pictures from programs, upcoming program information, general data (hours, ILLs, etc), and how to contact us. We're going to update it every few weeks, and so far response has been very positive. It may not be the biggest screen ever, but for us, it'll do. ;-)

Rock on!

Yay!It Works!

(I'm particularly proud of using the plant to camoflauge the wires. We're nothing if not image conscious. *grin*)

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I love Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois.

I love "the camel":

The Camel

I love the enormous outcroppings:


I also love Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, right on the Ohio River.

I love the view out of the cave to the river:

From Inside

I also love the look of Indiana skies when they are threatening...

Threatening Skies

And how the colours change minute to minute...

A Storm is Brewing...

But most of all, I love spending time with family, exploring, taking pictures, eating outside in the wilderness, and having a laugh (or two):

May 9

'Twas a good day off!

This Is How It Happened by Jo Barrett

This was a great chick lit book, except that it didn't follow the formula - no high flying job, no searching for love, no soul searching. Instead, Maddy is out for revenge on her lying, evil ex-fiancee, and she isn't above hiring muscle to do it. ;-)

This is a fast, funny read - I loved how Barrett alternated chapters, one chapter in in the present as Maddy tries to exact revenge, and one chapter chronicling her relationship, and the implosion of it, with her ex Carlton, who is just a despicable character you love to hate. You can't help but cheer Maddy on as she experiments with arsenic brownies and hires a hit man to take care of her "little problem".

The tags on the cover of this book are "NOT a love story" and "She's gotten mad, now it's time to get even", which truly sets the tone for this revenge tale tinged with romance, laughs and great characters. I really, really enjoyed this one - be sure to check it out!


Red Lily by Nora Roberts

This is the concluding volume of Roberts' "In the Garden" trilogy, the other two I've listened to previously.

This time, Hayley is the focus of the novel - the youngest, newest member of the family, who is raising her baby daughter and falling in love with the son of Harper House. As this is the concluding book, the mystery of the "Harper Bride" is finally unraveled, and the family struggles to put the ghost to rest.

This was a very pleasant series - lots of talk of gardening and flowers, a nice interweaving of the three women's stories, and it was nice to spend time with the same characters and see how they change and grow. I'm glad I read this trilogy!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Susie Breck, who did a fine job with all the southern voices.


The first teaser trailer for Twilight is out! Woot!

What do you think? Will it live up to the book by Stephenie Meyer?

Looks good so far!

(via everglow)

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Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson

This is not typical Patterson fare. There's no murder, no choppy chapters, no characters from a series making an appearance.

Instead, this is Patterson trying to write a love story, in the same vein as his (uber-treacly) Sam's Letters to Jennifer or Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. This time, Jane is a sad, lonely 32 year old women who falls in love - with her imaginary friend from childhood.

I think having a female co-author helped Patterson marginally this time - the plot is still treacly, but bearable if gimmicky, and you come to root for the characters, which is nice. This read was...pleasant. And short. At three hundred rather small, hugely fonted, well spaced pages, this is a "whip through in an hour or two" read. Which, sometimes, is nice.

If you are looking for "typical" Patterson, though, this isn't it!


Fear and Yoga in New Jersey by Debra Galant

I was first intrigued by the title of this novel, and then by the premise: yoga instructor Nina finds things coming apart at the seams - her parents are fleeing a hurricane and coming to visit, her husband has lost his job, her son wants a bar mitzvah, and one of her clients fell in her studio. Only one thing can be responsible, she decides: feng shui.

This started off promisingly for me, but the ending was really rushed, and nothing felt resolved. I didn't see Nina evolve at all for me as a character, nor those around her. It just felt like the middle part dragged and dragged, then the ending was thrown in for the last two pages. I know it's a suburban satire, but it left me just, well, kind of sad.

Not my favorite...


Oh, he's a beautiful man.

New NIN album (halo 24). Free. Completely free. To thank his fans.

Thanks for The Slip, Trent. :-)


Things that make me happy on a Sunday morning...

*The fact that the TinyTown IGA now carries Nutella! (Yes! In TinyTown!)

*The fact that Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cranford" is going to be on PBS tonight.

*The fact that the MotoGP race is on this afternoon.

*This phenomenon.

*My porch on a Sunday morning:

*The new NIN song that Trent released yesterday morning, and the fact that SOMETHING (new album?) is going to happen tomorrow on the NIN-ternet. And that Jen got us GA tickets for the NIN Lexington show at the end of August (which happens to be the LAST show of the tour)!

And finally, this commercial from Discovery (which is airing new eps of Deadliest Catch and Man Vs. Wild, another reason to be happy). I love the world.

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Good Little Wives by Abby Drake

My friend Jeanne was reading this book one day, and when I saw the cover, I burst out "Ooh! I have to read that after you!". Isn't that just a delicious cover?

This is a quick, not-quite-chick-lit read - as Jeanne described it, it's "Stepford Wives meets Desperate Housewives", which just about sums it up. A dead man, a smoking gun, blackmail, torrid affairs, chemotherapy, love children and more crowd this fast paced novel with a huge cast of characters and all their assorted problems. There were a few times I was like...oh no, we're at the brink, there can't be something else!

And, of course, there was.

I enjoyed the pacing and story of this novel, but got a bit bogged down at the end with all the twists and turns that the author threw in, which felt a bit contrived. Still, this is a campy read about life in the 'burbs. ;-)