The Future

This will be my last year at my present job.  I am currently commuting 35 miles each way every day and 210 miles each way on the weekend to be with my husband.  It’s just too much.  I am exhausted!  But I don’t know what will come next.  I cannot really afford to retire yet — not for another year.  So I am trying to look for work down in Deming, where we live, while living in Belen and working in Albuquerque.  I have seen some jobs with the school district down here that I wouldn’t mind having, or I could probably piece together something with the college in town, but it is too early to really put anything in place.  And I would like to know I have something for the fall before it gets here.  I am trying not to be impatient, but…

Most of all, when I think of the future, I am really looking forward to it.  It will be an adventure.  Let’s see how it plays out!

January Reading

This month I got quite a bit of reading done.  I am pretty happy about that!

Non-fiction

  • Freedom Summer by Bruce W. Watson was an excellent book.  I am too young to have participated — or even really to understand that is was happening — but I have always wished I could have been there.  Reading this book was extremely educational.  I now have a much better understanding of what happened, and I can honestly say that I am not sure I could have done what those people did.  I was especially interested learning about what some of those people did later, how they affected the later ’60s.

Fiction

  • Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Blazon was a quick read — a mystery with some romance thrown in.  It was fun, and I will probably read more by this author.
  • Romance & Revenge by Laina Turner is the ninth book in the series, so there was some history that I didn’t have.  That didn’t make it any less fun to read, though.
  • A Matter of Trust by Lis Wiehl was excellent.  The plot was very well developed and really interesting.  The book had a depth that some of these others don’t.  I enjoyed reading it.
  • St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree was another fun read.  I have to admit it was a little difficult to believe a successful Miami investigative reporter would return home and take a job as a food critic. Once I got past that, though, I enjoyed the story.
  • He Needed Killing Too by Bill Fitts was quite good.  I liked the main character, a former computer science professor turned private eye.  He stumbles along and ends up providing the police with a lot of information leading them to an arrest.  The book was a good one.

Short Fiction

  • “The Variable Man” by Philip K. Dick was wonderful.  It made me appreciate the creativeness of individuals.  I read “Beyond the Door” last year and understood that it maybe wasn’t the best of Dick’s work to start with.  This was much easier to read and I really enjoyed it.
  • “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Holmes story I had never read.  It made me realize how simple these stories are — kind of the way Watson is amazed at how easy Holmes makes his deductions appear.  As a fan of Elementary with Johnny Miller and Lucy Liu, I decided to read some of Doyle’s short stories.  This one included Irene Adler and a good description of Holmes’ feelings for her.
  • “The Red-Headed League” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was fun.  I know I had read this one years ago, but I honestly couldn’t remember the ending until I was almost there this time.  I am going to be reading more of these stories as the year progresses.

February is going to be a busy month, but I hope to get a similar amount of reading done.  We’ll have to wait and see how that goes.

PARCC protest

We are struggling with how to help prepare our students for the PARCC math tests.  We have started taking the practice tests and have been stunned by how language-heavy some of the math tests are, how difficult that will make them for English-language learners. We also know that many of our students do not have the necessary math skills to do well on the tests.

While we sit around school and complain about the new test our students have to take this year, a student at another area school has decided to take action.

There is a petition on change.org asking Governor Susana Martinez to Cancel or make all PARCC testing optional for students.   KOB4 in Albuquerque reported on the petition, started by Derrek Sena, and I can only hope that the report will encourage people to sign.

When I did a search for PARCC on change.org, I learned that this is far from the only petition of its kind.  I doubt that anyone in authority anywhere is going to listen, but these petitions are a way to demonstrate that there is a lack of support for this test.  I hope you will sign one!

December Reading

This month I almost made up for my months of not reading.  Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean!

Nonfiction

This book was loaned to me by a coworker in an attempt to change my views on climate change.  It didn’t.  I still believe that, whatever natural changes are occurring, we are contributing to making things worse.

This was a really interesting concept:  the final days of the Third Reich as a series of Twitter posts.  I really enjoyed it, and I learned some things I had either not known or forgotten.

This was a fantastic book.  Chang did an excellent job.  I considered myself moderately knowledgeable about the subject, ut I learned a great deal from it.

Fiction

As you can tell if you look at the dates on the 2014 books page, I read these books real fast.  They were all worth the time it took to read them, but by now some of them have faded a little from my memory.

A wedding gone bad.  This was a theme among a couple of the books I read this month.  This one was a little darker than the other.  A good book, though.

This was a good story with lots of twists and turns about an amateur drama group that meets with all kinds of problems as they bring a family tragedy to the stage.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I would be interested in reading the others.  It is part science fiction and part mystery.  It’s a young adult book, I guess.  A good one.

The main character is a rough female detective.  Her new partner is almost too good, a devout Mormon who has trouble with her attitudes and actions.  While I wanted to not like the book because religion kept edging into the story, I couldn’t.  It was a good story, and I liked the characters.

This was a hilarious mystery about a cosmetics saleswoman who solves a couple murders.  And she gets the guy at the end.  It was a real easy read and a lot of fun.

A ghostwriter gets caught up in a murder — or actually several murders.  The villain isn’t who you think it is… Or should I say villains?  A fun read.

This was the second Leopold Blake book I have read.  I have to say that I didn’t like it as much as the first one.  It was too full of action and not enough character development.  But maybe I am just looking at it wrong.  I liked the book, though, in spite of that.

Having lived in the Caribbean for a number of years, I really enjoy books written about that part of the world — if they are good ones.  This was a good story.  I wish it had been edited a little better, but the story was great.  This is, I believe, the sixth book in the series, but it is the first I have read.  Since finishing this one, I have gotten another and will be starting it soon.

I really enjoyed this book.  Mercy Watts is a nurse, but she gets involved in investigating two murders.  The story was good, although I think I missed something at the end.  I would read more by this author.

An attorney who discovers a crime and fights to solve it.  I first picked up this book because the main character is named Sasha — and I have a daughter named Sasha.  The appeal of the story went way beyond that, though.  I truly enjoyed it and will look for more books by Miller.

Anthology

The idea of a detective who only takes cases if they have some connection to the Blues is almost silly.  And some of the stories in the collection were silly.  But others were pretty good.  My biggest complaint is that the detective is really Welsh but tries to pretend he is from Memphis, so he is constantly trying to remember to speak “correctly”.  It was too much for me most of the time.  But I had a good time reading the stories.

So that ends 2014 as far as reading goes.  I can’t wait to get started on a new year of titles!

The year’s end

I can’t say I am sad to see this year come to an end.  It has been a hard one.  But it has had its good moments, too. Like all years do.

I have to say that I am disappointed with my blogging this year.  I  got my “year in blogging” report and was shocked to learn just how little I actually had posted.  I knew it was bad, but I didn’t actually think it was that bad.  But it was.

As I look forward to 2015, I am excited.  I will be “retiring” from my current job but looking for another one closer to home.  I will finally get to live with my husband full time — for the first time in over 3 years.  I will, I hope, get to watch my children and grandchildren continue to flourish.

All in all, the end of this year seems like a good thing.  I am looking forward to 2015 and all that it brings my way.