For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recently read: John Sandford’s Easy Prey

I’m enjoying working my way through this prolific Minnesota writer’s thrillers. In this one, debonair cop Lucas Davenport moves with ease through the rich and famous attending a party where a top model was found strangled. Sex, drugs, and the model’s strange family from Northern Minnesota all turn up, but as usual, nothing fazes Davenport in his quest for justice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe holiday and, of course, a filling one!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Recently read: Michael Gruber’s Tropic of Night

This is a particularly gripping thriller, full of darkness and powerfully vivid descriptions of the rites and religious mysteries of Africa and Cuba. The book takes place in Miami, with flashbacks and journal entries of African travels. The main characters are a Cuban-American policeman, Jimmy Paz, and a woman who faked a suicide and is now using the name Dolores. Both are rich, deep characters, who are surrounded by minor characters just as richly drawn. The plot concerns a serial killer whose murders of pregnant women are ritualistic. The book focuses on black magic, presenting it—to my surprise—in a believable way. I highly recommend this book for those of you who have strong stomachs. Oh, and there are zombies, too! Late-night reading just doesn’t get better than this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Matron Saints

Friday the Matron Saints of Menomonie gathered to help me and Sharpie get rid of some of our (literally) thousands of books. Of course, one can’t do this job unless one has had proper sustenance in the form of food and booze . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

If I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed, I would . . .

I sometimes feel so overwhelmed right now, with our moving preparations, teaching, and all the other things going on, that I am almost paralyzed. Who hasn’t had this happen to them? I am testing out some new ways of dealing with time, action and too many things to do—and am having a number of successes. For fun, I thought an exercise in wishes would perk me up. So here are the rules to this new game:

Complete the sentence, “If I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed, I would . . .” with any words or phrases that pop into your head, no matter how outrageous. Here are mine for today:

  • Plan a trip to Paris

  • Read art books for 12 hours in a row while Sharpie brings me pizza and refills my wine glass

  • Sleep until December

  • Dance along the creek

  • Call the movers to pack immediately

  • Visit my home town of Urbana, Illinois

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recently read: Robert Wilson’s A Darkening Stain

Wilson is one of the best contemporary writers around. This book is one of his novels set in West Africa, full of Wilson’s stark descriptions of a world that is dangerous, corrupt and mysterious. Bruce Medway has been navigating these byways for years. He is often called on to help out with problems by his associates, other ex-patriots, the few people he calls his friends, and even sometimes his enemies. In this, schoolgirls disappear, Medway’s former enemy has “a job” for him, and as usual, nothing goes smoothly in the dark world of kidnapping, diamonds and murder.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wisconsin Trails magazine article

My first article for Wisconsin Trails is in the current issue (cover shown). Unfortunately, they don’t provide access to the actual articles online, so you’ll have to buy the issue. Here is a link to the table of contents: Another unfortunate aspect is that it is probably my last article as well as my first for the magazine since I think it is probably unlikely that Wisconsin Trails will be interested in having a Colorado Correspondent . . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recently read: Pamela Redmond Satran’s How Not to Act Old

Carl and I both enjoyed this light-hearted book this fall. Gotta love the subtitle: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame. It is a fun read that is full of useful points (like don’t bother leaving voice mail for a young person because they don’t listen to them and for heaven’s sake don’t refer to it as a voice message), puzzlers (like don’t read the Sunday paper), and the what’s-old-about-that suggestions (don’t wear a watch). You don’t need to take every piece of advice seriously (like wearing a thong!), but the book does help give life today a new perspective, and it might help you be able to actually talk to that 25-year-old coworker covered with tattoos you’ve been avoiding in the cafeteria.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Visit to Golden, Colorado—More than a Mile High

I had my first opportunity to fly to Golden this weekend to see Carl, his office, our friend Cathy, the community, and, of course, Carl’s Bachelor Pad (so to speak!). I couldn’t fit both the elegant fireplace and Carl’s new HD TV in the photo. Also, his view off his balcony (shown) is of NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), which is loosely connected with his job at the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office. For us “energy conservation” folks (that includes me), a view of NREL is pretty nifty.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recently read: Jonathan Kellerman’s A Cold Heart

Kellerman is always a good read, although he’s not one of my first choices. In this book in the Alex Delaware series, psychologist Delaware and his buddy, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis seek the killer who has been targeting artists in all fields from painter to musician to dancer. Delaware suspects a serial killer may be at work, but there seems to be nothing tying the deaths—not the age, gender, geography or artistic line. Yet consistencies start to show up. Interesting plot, well-drawn characters (yes, my weak attempt at a pun!) and a satisfying ending.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Grammar Vandal

If you haven’t checked Kate McCulley’s Grammar Vandal blog at , it’s always worth a look. I wish she’d post more often. See my class blog for my students’ reactions to this site plus examples of errors they have found at or go to and click on Week 4.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recently read: Ed McBain’s There Was a Little Girl

First famous for his New York City 87th Precinct novels, McBain has delighted millions of readers for decades with his long list of suspense novels. This one is part of his Mathew Hope, lawyer, books set in Calusa, Florida. Hope is leaving a bar in an end of town not usually frequented by the prosperous when he is gunned down. Now he is fighting for his life in the hospital, while his friends and colleagues try to figure out whom he was meeting and why. The trail leads to a circus and the death years ago of one of the show’s stars: a three-feet tall woman.