More Arizona Flowers

It was so lovely to see all the tropical flowers. I’ve seen those around enough in some of my other trips to be a little familiar with them, but this trip was a little different because of the cactus. I’ve never been in a climate where there are so many different kinds of cactus everywhere, so it was really neat to see them, and some of the variety of flowers they produce.


Phoenix Zoo – Phoenix, AX

I’m just a little behind uploading the rest of the pictures from my Arizona trip…

I really enjoyed the Phoenix Zoo. It’s privately run, and was possibly the nicest zoo I’ve ever been to. I’m pretty sure it had the best variety of animals. (I didn’t bother to upload any pictures I took with cages, and I’ve still got pretty good variety going.)

We went with our friends and their two boys. They have a season pass, and I can totally see why. There’s a petting zoo, a monkey experience where you can actually get in the pen and get right up next to the monkeys, interesting little play areas, and tons more. We didn’t even see everything in our trip, and we were there a good chunk of the day. It’s definitely a zoo worth visiting.

Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 1/1/10 – 12/31/10s

I’ve finished my reading for the Graphic Novels Reading Challenge 2010. I’ve really enjoyed this challenge. It was a good way to remind myself how much I like reading graphic novels, and that I should try to fit a few more into my reading schedule here and there. This year, I read:

I tried to pick things in series, since that meant I’d have more to read if I liked what I read. I’d be happy to keep reading more work in each of these series.

Lucifer: Devil in the Gateway – Mike Carey

Read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge.

The Lucifer series takes off from his appearance in the Sandman series where Dream had removed his wings, and he’s resigned from his job ruling Hell. Instead, he’s gone to Los Angeles, where he owns a piano bar.

What I love about this character is how it takes any ideas you might have about what the ruler of Hell should be like, and pretty much turns them inside out. This Lucifer is merely out for his own good, and isn’t someone you can really assign a label of evil to. In fact, in this book, Heaven asks for his assistance in some matters that they can’t directly intervene in.

This particular collections features two stories: one where the ancient gods of the Nahavo have tried to regain their power by granting everyone’s fondest wishes (a terrible thing to do if you stop and really think about it), and another story where an ancient deck of tarot cards comes alive and wrecks some havoc in Germany. There’s also a story at the very end about a girl who can see ghosts, and uses that ability to solve her best friend’s murder.

This is the kind of book you’ll probably enjoy better if you get a good grounding in the character in his Sandman appearance first. Once you do that, it’s interesting to see where he goes when he’s the center of the tale.


We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year with my mother, younger brother and the BF. BF decided he wanted to go straight to the leftovers and do turkey sandwiches for the main meal, so we only cooked turkey breasts so we could get straight to the meat. I scored some of Scratch Bakery’s country bread on Wednesday. BF made cranberry mayo (from scratch), and the stuffing, and my mother provided potatoes, squash and a squash pie. I made the following:

A Brussels sprout salad with applies, pecans and manchego cheese. This came out well – good flavors – though I think if I made it again, I’d roast the Brussels sprouts.

My friend B’s cranberry sauce, which is a riff on this cranberry sauce from Bon Appetit. (She makes it without the mint.) My only quibble with this recipe is that it doesn’t seem to gel. It’s the shortest cooking of any cranberry sauce I’ve ever made, so I think when I make it again, I’ll cook it longer.

A Cranberry and Wild Blueberry pie from this year’s Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue. I saw this recipe, and immediately thought of the blueberries in my freezer, and had to made it. It’s super easy (especially since I cheated and bought pie crust), and tastes great. It mellows quite a bit during baking, and you wouldn’t necessarily know that there were cranberries in there. I may have to make this for Piemas this year.

All in all, it was a lovely, cranberry-filled year, which left us completely stuffed, and very happy.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Read for the Complete Booker 2010 Reading Challenge.

Christopher Boone is a boy somewhere on the autism spectrum – he’s clearly a mathematical genius, but he needs his routine, and can get into a bit of trouble when thrust into situations outside of his element.

One day, he’s the first one to find the neighbor’s dog dead on her front lawn, with a pitchfork still stuck in it. Christopher likes animals a lot more than people, so he decides to investigate. What he finds out in the course of his investigation changes his entire world.

This is a really fascinating look into a completely alien (to us “normal” people) mindset. The book’s written as a school project of Christopher’s, so it’s completely immersed in his worldview. The author apparently used to work with autistic people, so I would assume a fair amount of accuracy. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to read, but well worth it.

Knitting Notes

I’ve cast on what’s probably going to be my only piece of Christmas knitting, for my friend K: Vilai socks from Cookie A’s Sock Innovation book. They’re in Mountain Colors Bearfoot Yarn in the Winter Sky colorway.

So far, so good. I’d actually sort of picked out pattern because I liked it, and it happened to have cables, which would qualify it for November’s Sockdown challenge, but there really isn’t that much cabling, and I’m feeling oddly blase about Sockdown this year. So I’m just doing them because they’re cool looking, and should be nice and warm.

These Three Remain – Pamela Aidan

I really meant to read a book in between (even tried, but that’s another story), but I just couldn’t help finishing Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy. You’ll note I said trilogy, but have only read two books. The middle of the books, Duty and Desire, takes place after Darcy had returned to town from Netherfield, but before he sees Elizabeth again at Rosing. The author took this opportunity to entirely make up the middle book of her trilogy, and I read numerous recommendations to skip that book. I may go back and read it someday (if I manage to get my hands on it, oddly enough, it’s the hardest to find, though it seems to be the least favorite), but it’s perfectly skip-able if you want to keep to the original novel’s story.

I enjoyed the wrap up to this story. Darcy really grows as a character, and it’s nice to see how much he works to repair Lizzie’s opinion of him. It’s also fun to see some of the historical context of what’s going on in London during this time frame, as Darcy would have been much more aware of those goings on, considering his fortune, which would have had to bring a certain degree of prominence. And I thoroughly enjoyed his reaction to Lady Catherine’s visit near the end of the story.

This is definitely an enjoyable Pride and Prejudice adaption – well worth seeking out.

The Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix AZ

We went to AZ mainly to hang out with friends, but we did find a few hours to sneak off and do some touristy things.

The Desert Botanical Garden is part of the same organization as our Botanical Garden here in Maine, and since we’re members here, we were able to get in for free. We only had to pay the $3.50 extra to get into the Monarch Butterfly house, which was a pretty cool extra.

I really enjoyed this garden. Who knew there were so many types of cactus, and they all look so neat together? And, I must say, the smell of mesquite as you’re wondering around is heavenly. We didn’t manage to see everything in our trip, so I’ll definitely be back some day.