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Things I Love

I am blatantly ripping off this idea from Angie at Freckled Foolery, because I enjoy reading about what other writers love and how they spend their time. Note that Things I Love is about things not people. That is a whole other post. Also, I’ve been struggling a little with negativity in my writing ideas (who hasn’t, these days?) and Angie’s post lifted my spirits and made me smile.

I love:

  1. Cats. The only reason I still use Facebook these days is for pictures of people’s kids and cats. I am a bona fide cat lady, even though I only have one of my own, and she likes my husband better than me.
  2. Reading. I own WAY too many books. I need to purge, but it’s so hard. I love how social media allows us to feel as if we know writers personally. I love Stephen King and Margaret Atwood. I read a lot of non-fiction, too, like Naomi Klein and Ari Berman. I like to read books about physics, although I struggle with those ideas, it feels like good exercise for my brain. I love a good book controversy, like the one going on about American Heart. The arguments over it have gotten crazy heated, and wild horses could not keep me from reading it now. (It comes out in January.)
  3. Notebooks, journals, note paper, and pens.  My bad memory requires that I write everything down that I really want to remember, so I always have a small notebook and pen in my purse. I write my longer writing on computer, but I am a fanatical list maker, and typing a list into my phone is laborious, so I keep paper and pen handy. I am constantly searching for the pen that writes just the way I want it to (and somehow makes my messy handwriting better.)
  4. Stone walls, fences and bridges. I love how they blend in with nature, and how they last forever. I love them covered in moss, and surrounded by fall color. My dream house would have a stone foundation and stone walls in the yard with wildflowers spilling over them.
  5. Spider solitaire. It is the most soothing game. It takes just enough concentration, but not too much. I only compete with myself. It is my version of a fidget spinner. It is impossible for me to sit with nothing in my hands, so I can play on my iPad while I watch tv. (I have become my mother.)
  6. Pasta. Angel hair, bow tie, penne. If I had to pick a food I could not live without, it would be pasta. Chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts are delicious, but I would be okay if I could never have another one. Fresh strawberries would be missed. But life without pasta is unimaginable.
  7. Coffee. I don’t think I need to say more about that.
  8. Analyzing data. I can go for hours. Give me a set of data and I can mess with it for days, looking for patterns, outliers, correlations. Spreadsheets, graphs, visualizations – I love it all.
  9. Snow. I doesn’t snow much anymore where I live, but I still get excited when those first, fluffy flakes come down, even if it means the streets will be paralyzed and the power may go out.
  10. Group Me. My husband, sons and I have a family Group Me chat, and we use it to pass along important family information, but more often to share jokes and stupid memes and funny videos and comments on Game of Thrones. And of course, pictures of our food when we’re not all eating together.
  11. Yarn and knitting. My mom was a knitter, and I learned at about age ten. I love knitted sweaters and afghans and hats. Sadly, it is mostly too warm here to wear them, but I take advantage of the cold when we have it. I have an almost completed fisherman knit sweater that I have been knitting on and off for about 12 years. It is a complicated Alice Starmore pattern, and all that is left is part of one sleeve. When I finally finish that, I will wear it if it is 100 degrees!
  12. Craftsman houses. I would buy one and fix it up in a hot second, if there were any in my city. Birmingham has lots, but Hoover is a fairly new city and didn’t exist at the time they were being built. We have tons of 60s and 70s ranch houses, and there are some newly-built, fake Craftsman houses, but sadly, no real ones.
  13. Milk glass. I am not a collector, at least not of one particular thing. The knick-knacks in my house are mostly kitchy, non-matching things I inherited from my mother and grandmother. I have a set of Russian stacking dolls that someone gave my grandmother, and a Hull pottery pig bank that my daddy won for mother at a county fair when they were dating in the 40s. I treasure all these things, but especially the couple of pieces of milk glass that were mother’s. There is a flower bowl that sat on our dining table and almost always had fresh flowers in it. There is a tall pitcher that she used for daffodils in the spring. It has a chip in the base, but I don’t care. I love these things because they were part of our house when I was little.
  14. Libraries. We make it a point to visit the public library in the cities we visit. We’ve seen Seattle and New York this year. Those are two awesome ones, and completely different.
  15. Strong Wi-Fi. Yeah.

Well, that’s a lot, but there are so many more things. Writing this did the trick of putting me in a good mood, head cold and all. I may have to do a Part II later!


Tumblr is weird, like the Internet used to be

I’m nostalgic for the old, early 1990s Internet. Dial-up, you got on and downloaded your e-mail real quick to read and respond to later. And there were mailing lists, remember? I loved the Knitlist. It was my first exposure to celebrity knitters and spinners and knitwear designers. It is how I leaned to knit socks – no pictures, just instructions! I still remember the names of some of the regulars. Every year at Christmas, someone would wish everyone Merry Christmas, and the Christmas celebrators and non-Christmas celebrators would get in a fight. Continue reading “Tumblr is weird, like the Internet used to be”


I just sobbed

I just sobbed over a blog post someone wrote last July.

I guess many people in the blogging world know about Abbie the Cat. Abbie started blogging years ago when blogging was a new thing, and all it was were the daily thoughts of a much-loved and rather self-involved house cat. “He” as in his guy, writing in the voice of the cat, shared funny, short anecdotes about things cats do and think, his interaction with the other cat in the house, and with his guy. The “about” message says: “Hi my name is Abbie and I am a cat and I am writing all about me and the other cat and the people in this place.”

I stumbled across the blog, Abbie the Cat has a Posse, back when my kids were little, and I was a stay-at-home mom. It was 2001.

The posts were usually short. There were no pictures. But it continued for years and years, written as a cat, with cat sentence structure, cat punctuation and cat capitalization.

This is Abbie’s entry from May 9, 2001:

vblogger was down last night so I could not report in
hopefully it is up and running well now. I have had no complaints as of yet with the connection

and nothing too special to report. 
I guess one’s fifth year of existence starts off slowly
we’ve been keeping the sliding door open more often since it is warm

I have been told in no uncertain terms to not rip the screen down and i Swear I have been behaving and following these orders but sometimes a bug flies close to the screen and I cannot tell if the bug is on my side of the screen or the outside of the screen so I have to check just for the sake of accuracy and faiurness in reporting

I hope you understand.

fights this week won by me: 7
fights this week won by the other cat: 0
fights this week the other cat thinks she won but I did instead: 2

Over the years, I read Abbie’s blog and laughed, and marveled that it never stopped coming. Through years and life events, and world events, elections and wars, and kids growing up, every so often I would remember Abbie and go back and find his blog and read and smile. 

Once after a long absence, I went back to find what Abbie had been up to, I learned that the other cat in the house, and sometime contributor to the blog, Martha (who lived a double life as a pirate in her cat imagination) had died. Abbie’s simple description of her illness and passing was one of the most moving things I ever read. And I cried. And I sent the link to friends, who also cried.

I’ve gone back to read Abbie after computer crashes and losses of bookmarks and kids going off to college, and major life changes, and I thought it was astonishing that he was still blogging.

But today, when I happened to think of Abbie, and looked up his blog, I found a post written by his guy, Rob, last July 22. It described in the most loving way, Abbie’s illness and his last day. Abbie died on July 23.

He was 16 years old. His blog spanned 12 years. I don’t know where he lived, or his guy’s last name. But he made me laugh and cry, and think about the simplicity of life and love.

Rest well, Abbie. And thank you, Rob.


Don’t break my heart, movie adaptation – The Fault in Our Stars (No Spoilers)


I’m a book person who loves movies. I can count on the fingers of one hand the movie adaptations that I thought did justice to the book. Gregory Peck was awesome in To Kill a Mockingbird, but even he couldn’t make me feel the subtle menace in the air of that fall evening when Scout and Jem headed home from the school play, or the tension of that sweltering packed courtroom, the way Harper Lee’s words could.

I love movies, but they break my heart all the time. And it happens most often when I really, really loved a book. I loved The Lovely Bones so much that I couldn’t see the movie. I watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with great fear that it would ruin a wonderful book. (It didn’t.)

If I enjoy a book so much that I send copies to friends, and insist that my sons read it, and read parts out loud to my poor, long-suffering husband, then it is almost a certainty that the movie will ruin it for me.

I adored John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. It was the best book I read last year. I know I’m supposed to be too old to enjoy young adult novels, but this one was just SO good. I laughed much more than I cried. The teenagers were like kids I know, except for their unusual circumstances. They talked the way I imagine my sons and their friends talk when we smothering parents aren’t around. I fell in love with them.

I clicked on the movie trailer with great trepidation. I had Hazel and Gus in my head, and they didn’t want to be disturbed. But the casting of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort looks right. Laura Dern is Hazel’s mother (a character I also adored in the book.)

I implore you, if you ever read at all, read this book before you see the movie. The trailer is good – it’s wonderful – and I will see the movie. But the book is perfect. Read it.

Edited on February 1, 2014 to add:

I felt so judged by this woman’s opinion on Twitter. I know she didn’t read my post, but still.

I don’t think it is my fault if someone casts a horrible actor in a movie adaptation of a book I loved. I’ll still love the book, but the vision I had of the character in my head will forever be that person and it’s hard to go back and make it not be. If a movie adaptation completely changes the plot (I’m looking at you, Gillian Flynn) then I might like it or I might not.

And so what if it is my “fault”? I don’t like coconut and I think it ruins any food it touches. Likewise ketchup. It’s my taste, my opinion, my like, my pleasure. Don’t judge my disappointment, lady.cadlymack


TV Meta: Supernatural and character flaws through 9.09

Thanks to a couple of really good meta posts this month, I started to contemplate exactly what it is the writers are doing with the characters of my favorite show. I was one of those who defaulted to the position that maybe the writers didn’t know and love Sam and Dean the way I did, and, you know, HOW can they make them do things that are so BAD??? But some very thoughtful writers made me think about it a different way. Continue reading “TV Meta: Supernatural and character flaws through 9.09”


What We Watched Mini-update: Winter Holidays 2013 (one tiny SPOILER for Top of the Lake)

We finished season two of Game of Thrones.  Wow. It should be overwhelming. So many characters, so many settings, so many scenes. But it isn’t. I can’t even begin to go into a discussion or analysis, I’m still absorbing. And trying to figure out a way to get HBO so we can see season three.

I watched the first episode of Top of the Lake. It’s very strange, and has that quiet, foreign atmosphere and pacing that American crime drama rarely has. Elisabeth Moss is very good in the role of Robin. I read that Anna Paquin was offered the role, and I have not seen her in anything lately, but I think Moss’ quiet, pensive demeanor is perfect. In a single episode, she comes across as both strong and capable with the male detectives, compassionate with the young rape victim, and baffled and weighed down by her demanding ill mother. And Holly Hunter…WHAT??? So strange.  I will be watching the rest of this. I’m completely unspoiled, having read no reviews, so please don’t spoil me. 🙂

Justified returns with season 5 on January 7, so my son and I will be re-watching season 4 in the next few days. I watched it when it aired, but he has not seen it at all. As I recall, it was not as strong as previous seasons, but maybe my opinion will change upon re-watching.

Supernatural season 9 picks up again on January 14. I’ll be writing about Supernatural in a separate post, coming soon.


Supernatural, episode 9.08. Not cool.

Well, that was painful.

Look, I know Supernatural is not trying to be the most self-aware, progressive show on the air. It’s about two handsome white guys heroically fighting monsters and demons and all things supernatural all over the US, roaring around in their gas-guzzling classic muscle car and listening to classic rock while swathed in denim and plaid. There are lots of guns and bullets. There is punching (sometimes of each other.) There is porn. The sex is of the casual, one-night-stand variety, usually.

The women in the show are, if not the monster, usually superficial side characters who are damsels to be saved, victims who are burned or eaten by the monster, brief motherly figures, fawning fangirls or daffy cat lady witnesses relating what they saw for comic relief.

There are occasional egregious wardrobe choices for the women, like the lovely young female hunter a couple of episodes ago in daisy dukes and a short shirt, while the men are swathed in five shirts each, plus a jacket.

But yes, I still watch. I am able to ignore most of the yucky treatment of women because the two main characters are compelling and the show is often a good creepy, gory hour of escapist television. Continue reading “Supernatural, episode 9.08. Not cool.”


Supernatural: SPOILER DISCUSSION (Don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled!)

Usually I don’t read spoilers about Supernatural. But I have been seeing reactions from some of my fellow Sam fans that piqued my curiosity and broke my resolve to remain unspoiled. So I looked at a couple of reliable spoiler sources, and I have to say that I am not that upset based on what I am reading. Continue reading “Supernatural: SPOILER DISCUSSION (Don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled!)”