Monday, June 30, 2008

If I were more ambitious and energetic...

I think it would be very interesting to open a booth or stall in one of two local places that offer them, to sell the kinds of things that I wish I could find here but generally cannot. Some things I would make - if I felt more confident about the bows that I make for Big Girl and could produce more of them, at a faster pace. Cute baby and children's clothing and items, like the pillowcase dresses that I love to get for Big Girl (I have a pattern but haven't made one yet on my own). Useful things that are made from natural materials or repurposed items, and things like reusable tote bags for grocery shopping. I can think of so many ideas, but the reality is, I know that it's something for me to dream about but probably not a good plan to act upon. I already have too many duties and not enough time, energy, and money to start anything new. But if I did it, I would get some of these cute holiday purses and bags that I've found online and sell them, too. Well, ideally, I would find someone who could guarantee that they aren't produced in sweatshops, and if I had that guarantee, I'd sell them. But I suspect that, given how cheaply they are sold by the wholesale distributor, they must be MIC and/or sweatshop-produced.

I need to get myself to the downtown market that's held here on alternating Saturdays. I think I would likely find some interesting things there, and who knows. If I got productive and got together enough things, I might try a spot in that at some point. Less commitment that way. I have dreams of making so many interesting things - artwork, clothes, accessories, even food. That's me, dreaming big, beyond my capacity to do all of it. I do have a couple of cute ideas for kid t-shirts that I might actually order through cafepress, however...

Mental Health Morning

The kids and I are taking a mental health morning. We've been so busy for the last couple of weeks, and we need it. Big Girl and Two are lolling on the sofa watching Noggin (Jack's Big Music Show is on now - love it!), and I am, obviously, on my laptop. Sitting in Hubs' recliner with a box fan aimed at myself. Drinking coffee, naturally.

My coffee obsession has insprired me to investigate more ways to incorporate coffee into my cooking and baking. I will report back on my results.

I'm also looking into options for a short weekend jaunt for next month. Hubs and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary in July, and he suggested that we pawn off the kids on my parents and take a trip one weekend. I honestly can't remember the last time we had time together without the kids, or the last time we took a vacation. He suggested a trip back to Virginia, to stay at a lodge near the place where he proposed, and while I love the idea, I think it may be a bit too far for a weekend trip, given the time and amount of gas necessary to get there. He begrudgingly agrees (why do I have to be the sensible one?), so we're looking at options closer to home. I've found a few bed and breakfast places that are possibilities, plus a resort place that has a spa (oh, how I love the prospect of a massage - and Hubs would enjoy it, too). So now I just need Hubs to firm up the date, and we'll make some plans.

Big Girl and Two wore their new "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" shirts yesterday to our family reunion. My aunt and uncle brought the shirts back from Universal Studios on their recent trip to Florida, and the kids look adorable. At first, Big Girl was confused by the "1" because, she insisted, she is four. But I think I finally got her to understand that she had a "1" because she was born first, and she's older than her bro.

WWE has nothing on these kids. I don't know what has gotten into them, but they are wrestling and climbing all over each other. Two keeps bodyslamming Big Girl. I guess I should break this up before someone gets hurt.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This morning I attended a service for a woman who attended our church. She was 38, married, with a young son, and she died after a long battle with cancer. And the way in which she came to terms with her disease and her death, and used her remaining days to help and inspire others, was unbelievable. I didn't get a chance to know her as well as I would have liked, and I think, if I'm honest, I avoided her a little bit toward the end because her mortality, and the prospect of my own, frightened me so much. One thing that her husband said really stuck with me: the hardest thing for her to accept was that she would not live to see her son grow up. He's a wonderful little boy, and thinking of him and his loss just hit too close to home with me. He's between Big Girl and Two in age. Her husband's first name is also the same as Hubs' name, and - although I don't really discuss it with Hubs - the prospect of one of us being left alone to raise our kids terrifies me. Perhaps even more so because Hubs' father died when he was quite young, and although I never knew his father, I feel that absence, that void in his life and in our lives very keenly. I've never been a fearless person. I never jump into situations that make me afraid or uncomfortable, the way that Big Girl sometimes does. But with this - the prospect of death, of being alone, of facing so much unknown-ness - I'm even more of a chicken. I know that avoidance isn't the best way to deal with uncomfortable issues and questions, but so far that's what I'm doing.

The Kids

I made one of Hubs, too!

a new me

Yo Gabba Gabba is kiddie crack

Big Girl and Two are parked in front of the television this morning. We usually have things to do on Saturday, so they don't typically watch Yo Gabba Gabba when it comes on Noggin at this time, but today they are mesmerized. They pause in their Duplo construction projects and stare with glazed eyes at the screen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

*le sigh*

Vacation Bible School is over. I think everyone - teachers, youth, and kids - was exhausted by today. My kids are passed out, which isn't so unusual in Two's case, as he's a big fan of naps still, but Big Girl actually told me she wanted to take her nap before swim class, so I know she's tired from all of the activity. I won't say that it went entirely smoothly, but next year our church will likely be holding a separate VBS (we had it at our place but combined with another church that's in the midst of construction this year), and I've learned a lot of lessons to apply for next time. And the kids had a lot of fun, which is the most important part.

This weekend we have a big family reunion. Fortunately it's in town, so no traveling required, and I think it will be a lot of fun. Rumor has it that there will be a bounce house for the kids, so Big Girl will go crazy and bounce until she has to be pulled away due to pending heat stroke. There will be many relatives who will be delighted to entertain Big Girl and/or Two, so I'll have the chance to engage in some adult conversation, too. I'll have work to do, since my branch of the family is helping to host this time, but I'm still looking forward to it.

At present, I'm sitting in Hubs' recliner while a box fan blows on me full-force. Lights are off, teevee is on something mindless, and I have a few hours to relax before Big Girl's final swim class. She doesn't know it yet, but I got her a gift to celebrate her excellent work over the last two weeks in swimming. She will love it, I know, since she enjoys playing with my old ones when she's at my parents' house. It's a My Little Pony, a purple unicorn named Rarity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A brief post in which I whine too much

My body hurts. Particularly my legs, and more particularly the backs of my legs just above my ankles. Probably because I ran around doing lots of things during VBS yesterday, and I wasn't wearing particularly supportive shoes. I feel the untimely loss of my brown leather walking sandals, which I wore everywhere on my honeymoon, particularly keenly. As a pup, Quinn got ahold of them and chewed them into uselessness. And I've never been able to replace them with a pair of sandals that equaled their supportiveness, comfort, and attractiveness. So I'm left with several attractive pairs that make my legs hurt the next day.

VBS is going fairly well. I'm learning lots of lessons to apply for next year, when I'll be involved in the planning from the beginning instead of coming in later and trying to figure things out. Big Girl and the other kids are all having a great time, and Two and his peers are enjoying themselves in the nursery and toddler room as well. Stressful for adults but wonderful fun for kids - I guess that's a good result.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brief update

Yard sale: modest success. Made some money and got rid of a lot of stuff.

Vacation Bible School, which started today: train wreck (for me - lots of fun for kids so far). Numerous teachers and other volunteers are awol. Lots of people are late getting things done - or haven't done them at all. But it'll work out okay. This will just be a long and rather stressful week. Ugh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big money! Big money!

I am having a yard sale again tomorrow. Every time I have one, I swear I will never have another one, and then a few months go by, and the memory fades, and I collect more junk and decide to do it again. Here's hoping this one won't be as cold and poorly-attended as the last one I had. Instead I'll be sweating, but maybe I'll make some money on stuff I don't need anymore. I'm having it at my parents' house since they're more centrally located. My single yard sale at my house was a bomb because no one wants to drive to my house - too far out of the way.

I'm selling the double stroller. Two is walking reliably now, and Big Girl's just too tall and lanky for it, and since we moved I haven't used it very often. I'm sad to see it go, however. Sad to sell the bedrails off of Big Girl's bed, too. They're growing up. I've been having a major case of babylust lately. I want another, but I know this isn't the best time to try.

Big Girl spent the afternoon with my dad, which enabled me to get a little more done without her "helpful" assistance. Now if Two would just wake up from his lengthy nap, I'd be able to take the last carload of stuff to my parents' house. I don't want to wake up such a sweet sleeping boy, so I wait.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So, so proud of Big Girl!

She's so enthusiastic about her swim lessons. So very different from me! She's eager to get in the water and try anything the teacher asks her to do. She doesn't have perfect form or get it on the first try every time, but she isn't the least bit reluctant about the pool. She's so brave compared to some of the other kids (who are reluctant as I was when I took swimming lessons). She's always raising her hand and volunteering to jump in and try something after the teacher demonstrates, and she smiles and claps with excitement for her classmates, too. Two went with us today - my mom has been keeping him during previous lessons but today she didn't feel well - and he screamed her name and cheered for her and was generally adorable and supportive of his big sis. Big Girl has a fearless streak that she certainly didn't get from me, and I am completely proud and delighted by her progress during this first week of swim lessons.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Little Ballerina

I decided to sign up Big Girl for a week of ballet classes next month, to see if she enjoys them and wants to take them in the fall. So I ordered a few leotards and some tights, which came on Saturday. I asked Big Girl to try them on this morning, to make sure they fit before I wash them, and she is delighted. She told me repeatedly that they were "so pretty" and she said "Thank you, Mommy!" and hugged me after trying on each of the three leotards. She looks incredibly cute in them. I can't wait to see her wearing the tights, leotard, and little pink ballet shoes when she goes to her first class. She's adorable all the time, of course, but in tiny ballet dancer wear, even more so. I took ballet from age three through college, and so I'm particularly hopeful that she'll love dance as much as I did.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New teevee (that lucky dog)

Hubs is getting a new television for Father's Day. We've decided which one we want, but haven't acquired it yet. After hearing him ask - nay, beg for a new one, for several years (seriously), I decided we could go ahead. I don't like to spend large sums of money. It makes me nervous. But our current television is almost twelve, and on the decline, so we would be getting a new one sooner or later. And as long as we're getting one, I guess we should get a nice one that will hopefully last another decade...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blanket Fort! And those pesky alligators

Big Girl asked me this morning to help her make a tent, so I brought a couple of kitchen table chairs into the den and put a blanket over the top. Instant blanket fort! She's camped out with a pillow and some stuffed animals, and making up some sort of story involving alligators.

Speaking of alligators, we've had a real problem with them lately. You see, a pack of imaginary alligators has moved in underneath Big Girl's bed, and she's rather apprehensive about their intentions. Hubs and I have chased them away several times, but Big Girl still sees them occasionally, so we have to be watchful. This pack of alligators seems to have a great deal of interest in Big Girl's toes. Fortunately the dust ruffle on the bed has alligator-repelling properties, so even if they come back, they won't be able to come out, and Hubs and I will just chase them off again.

1930's Marital Scale

I took the wife test (and the husband one too!). Here's how I rate:


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

So apparently I would do well in both jobs!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Hobby, or Method of Procrastination

I'm trying my hand at making bows for Big Girl, and these are some of my early attempts. The small navy one with the light blue center is the first one that I made. The pink ribbon on the pink, black, and white bow reads "Big Sister" and I just love it. I ordered it from the Wee Boutique on Etsy, along with some cute ladybug ribbon that I haven't used yet.

If Hubs saw this picture, he would ignore the bows and start complaining about the abuse sustained by that chair, which is from the dining table and chair set that his mother handed down to us. Let's be glad he's not the one writing this entry, mmmkay?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Electricity, water, and more electricity

Today's highlights include:

Electricity, which was my trip to get tested for carpal tunnel. It was freaky, but the man conducting the tests talked the ENTIRE TIME and kept my mind off of the jolts of current zapping (slower than they should) through my lower arms. It's pretty certain that I have carpal tunnel now, so the question becomes what to do about it. I'm not loving the splint thing that I wear on my right wrist. I know that, given the heat and sweat it causes underneath its lovely black shiny self, it will begin to annoy me more as the temperature rises. And yet, I will likely have to get one for the left, too, as a short term treatment if nothing else.

Water, which was delightful at the kids' pool party later in the afternoon. It is one of the first events I've organized for the kids as part of my new job, and attendance was pretty good. I provided juice boxes and Rice Krispies treats which were pretty popular, and Big Girl had a fantastic time in the pool. She's definitely a daredevil. I had to get pretty tough with her to keep her from jumping off the diving board and swimming in the deep end. She doesn't know how to swim. She starts lessons next week, but this week she's just wearing water wings and she has no fear. I'll feel a lot better once she finishes this class, but she is pretty oblivious to my trepidation and she wore herself out swimming and playing.

More electricity refers to the loud thunderstorm rolling through my neighborhood. I don't think it's actually raining - just making a lot of noise. I would appreciate rain but I may have to wait until the weekend (when I had planned to have a yard sale) for that.

It's late, and I should be asleep.

But obviously I'm not. I got ticked off at Hubs because he wants a new, huge, expensive television for Father's Day and I don't think he's being realistic. I don't plan to get him the television he wants, either, since our current television works and I can think of better ways to spend that kind of money. Lots of ways, which are closer to the "need" end of the spectrum than that television, which is pretty far toward "want" if you ask me. So I was snide, and I got out of sorts, and now I've been sitting at my desk playing with ribbon, making pretty things for Big Girl to wear in her hair* for the last two hours. Finally I'm closer to the sleepy end of the spectrum than the annoyed one.

*That is, wear in her hair for five minutes at most, before removing the lovely item, dismantling her carefully brushed and styled hair, and tossing the pretty thing aside. If I'm lucky, she leaves the hair alone long enough for me to capture photographic evidence that she does not, in fact, have wild hair falling in her face all the time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Two is a fan of the orange creamsicle flavored antibiotics, for some crazy reason. Not so much with the liquid Claritin stuff. So I mixed them together and he went for it. Swallowed it down like a good kid - in the driveway, since I forgot to dose him until we were heading out of the house. What a champ! He's such a good sport about medicine, really. Minimal gagging, no barfing, most cooperative. Unlike Big Girl.


I was sleeping like a baby when Hubs decided to be a jerk and turn on the overhead light while he got dressed for his morning walk/jog. And left the light on while he was gone - I was too tired to get up and turn it off, but it was annoying enough to keep me from really sleeping. Then he had lots of noise when he got back, thereby waking the kids and forcing me to get up to feed them breakfast. He gave me some line about wanting to spend time with me. Yeah, time when I'm exhausted and angry with you? Not really quality time. I don't appreciate being hazed by my husband.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cool Air! Yay!

We finally got the man who installed the a/c late last summer to come and check it out. He put in more freon, and cold air is coming out now. The unit shouldn't have needed freon so soon, but while he was here, a thunderstorm blew in, so he'll come back another time to figure out the source of the problem. For now I'm just glad that the house is cooling down!

Big Girl and Two have been sleeping since about 6 pm. I guess they played hard with their grandmother today. Big Girl fell asleep in the car on the way home, and Two played limp when we came inside and refused to stand up, so he went to bed, too. Apparently they will sleep through the night, since it's 9 pm now and they're both out.

In other news, Two went to the doc this morning and got medicine for his sinus infection. Hopefully he'll be less snotty and more chipper in no time!

Still hot at my house.

I hope the repair guy shows up today. Pant.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

That's Hot.

The highest temperature I observed today was the display in my car: 97. Yuck. I've been "moist" all day. Our air conditioner has had a limp for a few days, and yesterday it decided it just couldn't keep up. For most of the week, it stayed within five degrees of the target temperature, but yesterday it was set on 72 and reached 84, so a repair guy's coming on Monday. It was new last summer, so who knows what the problem is. Hopefully something easy and fast.

I went out to the grocery store early this morning to get a few things, including charcoal so Hubs could smoke some meat in his (former water heater) smoker. On my way out, I saw a yard sale at a house down the street, so Big Girl and I went to check it out after I returned. We found some beautiful wood furniture that was already sold - figures - but we did score a nice train table, in good condition, with a storage bin full of wooden tracks, trains, and accessories. It was a great deal, and both kids are ecstatic. It will go in Two's room, once we finish a little cleaning and maintenance (minimal, really - it would be fine, but we want to reinforce a couple of places just in case). I don't think we would have considered a new one, given the price, but this one was a wonderful bargain and will keep them occupied for hours.

Big Girl helped me water her herb garden and flowers after that, and then we went to swim at my parents' house. The water was wonderfully warm, and yet so refreshing given the heat. Both kids paddled around wearing water wings and clutching floats until they were worn out, and then we had lunch before I brought them home. Two passed out in the car, snoring softly with his mouth open, and Big Girl happily went down for a nap once we got home as well.

Live Free or Die Hard - actually kind of fun. Hubs has been on a Die Hard kick lately, and really wanted me to watch this one with him since I had never seen him. He described it as "John McClane meets Swordfish," and that's a pretty accurate description. The hacker character played by Justin Long, the "Mac" guy from the commercials, has a fun rapport with Bruce Willis' character, and there were a lot of fun connections and action sequences. Hubs was happy that I watched something he wanted to watch, and enjoyed it, since lately I haven't been in the mood to watch some of his favorites (I get burned out on Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs, and I've never liked Ax Men or Man Vs. Wild - what can I say?).

It's 82 in the house now, at 9 pm. I picked up yet another box fan late this afternoon, so now there's one in each bedroom and one in the den. Two gets terribly hot and sweaty in his room - he's a hot sleeper anyway, and I feel so bad for him. I put him to bed with a huge sippy cup of ice water, and one for Big Girl too. I'm looking forward to several hours of air conditioned comfort at church in the morning.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Big Girl and I had a delightful time planting flowers in the front yard this morning while Two ran around with balloons and drove his John Deere Farm Tractor & Trailer in the driveway. I'll take photos tomorrow. We planted a lot of impatiens (pink and white) in cute little pots decorated with animal and flower stickers, and then in the ground, in front of Big Girl's herb garden, some daylilies, a lily, a lantana, and lots of petunias. All in yellow, plus some additional petunias in white and purple. Big Girl has a hard time with wanting to help and not being as gentle as she needs to be with the plants, but she's very enthusiastic and loves to feel like she's helping. I try to ask her to do things that help me, that she can manage, that don't result in broken plants and/or pots. She's also a champ with her watering can. She has her own, smaller and easier for her to handle.

We all got hot and dirty, then cleaned up before lunch, and after Two's nap we went to my grandmother's house for homemade ice cream (delicious!) to celebrate her birthday. Big Girl and Two each selected a balloon at the store, and Big Girl also made a picture to hang on her great-grandmother's fridge. Two also got to see tractors, always a highlight of his trip, and he watched my dad baling hay into large round bales. We visited the barn so both kids could pretend to drive the tractors that weren't in use today, and the kids played with their cousin, a cute little blond-curled cherub who's a few months younger than Two, who also stopped by with birthday wishes to get a sample of the ice cream. Aside from a brief dispute over toy possession, they had a lovely time playing together.

The kids were worn out and collapsed soon after dinner. Two was glad to go to bed and gave me an enthusiastic "Night, night, Mommy!" when I put him to bed. Big Girl insisted she didn't want to go to bed, but quickly fell asleep on the floor in front of the television. I left her there until Hubs got home, so he could see her (and take pictures of her). I've heard stories of him doing the same thing when he was little. What a wonderful day!

My eyes aren't awake yet.

We don't have to go anywhere early this morning, and yet my darling Big Girl demanded that I get up at 6:30. After Hubs had already woken me up at 5:30, 5:50, and 6:00 looking for various missing items. He loses things, a lot, and I find myself increasingly unsympathetic. This morning it was his cell phone and something else. I don't remember - the bright overhead light was too strong for me to really pay attention to him.

Big Girl is playing with her crayons while her brother polishes off breakfast. She doesn't just color. Her crayons have personalities and conversations and adventures. She started off coloring a picture to take to her great-grandmother, who is celebrating her birthday today, but it sounds like the crayons are gossiping again now.

Two ate a deliciously unhealthy breakfast this morning. His Bad Mommy served him leftover Papa John's Apple Sweet Treat, which he devoured with great gusto and stickiness. We're out of bread, so I couldn't make him toast, and he's been turning his nose up at yogurt, oatmeal, and most other offerings recently. I knew he would eat this. Big Girl ate a big bowl of cottage cheese, in case you were wondering, and then announced she was full and didn't want anything else. And juice - they're both drinking the beloved juice. Water is met with revulsion and a big tantrum these days. Two wants juice, and he'll tell you, repeatedly and loudly: "Mommeeee! Jooooos!"

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Girly Things

I can't remember who shared this site with me, but I am most appreciative, whoever you are. I've amassed a small collection of ribbons, hair parts, buttons, and other fun items, plus some wire and a handy little glue gun, and I am going to make pretty things for Big Girl to wear in her hair. Hopefully they'll look nice enough to actually use when I'm through. I have this dream of making fabulous bows and barrettes for her to go with all of her outfits. That won't happen - I'm far too slack. But I think it would be nice to have a few pretty accessories to go with her church dresses, and maybe a few seasonal things for Halloween, Christmas, Easter. Yet another fun activity to detract from my dissertation, says the little voice in my head. But I think it will be fun!


Big Girl has developed a sudden affection for yellow. I've always been yellow-averse myself, so I don't know who's been brainwashing her. Probably my mother. She taught Big Girl to eat cottage cheese, too, and I never touch the stuff.

Portable again!

I've been laptopless for many weeks now, since my dad's old laptop bit the dust. It was really old, and it wasn't always treated nicely by Big Girl and Two, and it died a sad, sudden death. At that time, my mother said she would buy herself a new laptop and give me her old one, which isn't brand new, but it's a lot newer than the one I had, and they let me use it for free, so I'm not complaining. Mom's new laptop showed up last week, and then she did a bunch of stuff on her old one to get it ready for me - reinstalling things, updating things, etc. - and so now, finally, I have a laptop that I can use again. This pleases me.

Now I just need to get Hubs to make it talk nicely with our wireless network, and I'm set. I'll be back to my usual routine of watching teevee and using my computer while Hubs complains that I ignore him and spend too much time on that ($*@&# laptop. Good times. And I should be able to connect from the back deck, too, so I can sit outside and do work - probably with a nice box fan blowing on me so the heat is bearable. And a nice cold drink. Yes, that should be good.

Stylish, no?

My new wrist brace, which I will be wearing for a few weeks while the doc does tests and such to see if I need surgery for carpal tunnel. I'm supposed to wear it at night, but maybe more if my symptoms warrant, and hopefully it will help so that I don't have a numb hand all the time (particularly annoying while driving and typing).

Big Girl and Two had to go with me to my appointment this morning - that was a maddening experience. They had a grand time but drove me up the wall with their refusal to follow instructions (Two, don't touch the biohazard trash can!). They like the orthopaedist, so that should tell you something - they're not easily swayed by medical professionals.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If you can read this

please leave a comment. I like to know that there are people out there. I would prefer to think that I am not talking to myself. That is all. ;)

Monday, June 2, 2008

My hands

are all puffy and swollen. I think it's a combination of the heat and humidity plus moving a lot of boxes and cleaning and such, in preparation for Big Girl's party. They go numb periodically - due to the swelling - and they hurt. I'm already going on Wednesday for my carpal tunnel appointment so I'm just waiting. Hopefully the other hand/arm will be back to normal by then. It's hard to type - lots of typos, because my fingers just don't work quite right. Sometimes they're completely numb (love it when I'm driving and that happens), and sometimes they feel huge and they hurt. They've been bothering me since last week. I wish the swelling would go away.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I wept my way through a book today.

After all of the flurry of cleaning before the party, I decided I deserved a break. So I spent much of the afternoon reading, at the usual rapid pace that I achieve whenever I'm reading anything that doesn't pertain to my dissertation, and I wept my way through The Time Traveler's Wife. I was in that fabulous reading zone that I love, where I become completely submerged in a book and devour it. Hubs hates it. I honestly think he's jealous of my capacity to tune out the world and read like that, because he always tries to get me to watch stupid things on television or talk about non-pressing issues at the most dramatic points in any given book. Anyway, I enjoyed the fragmented, postmodern qualities of The Time Traveler's Wife. The style was approachable and yet allusive and rich, and I honestly cried for most of the second half, almost continuously. The romance between the two main characters was very well developed, and the plot was unusual and deployed effectively. On one level, I could anticipate some developments, and yet on other levels, even when I reached moments that I saw coming, I didn't find the writing or the plot predictable, and I was still surprised by nuances. I'm interested to check out some of the author's subsequent works, which apparently blend tinted etchings with prose to tell stories.