31 May 2012

What I am reading: May 2012

Another interesting month. But one thing that I want to do around all the craziness and planning and activity is to start reading through some of my physical books, to get them off the shelves (or, actually, out of the piles on flat surfaces like window sills and radiators!) and get them packed away. So I am trying to read the physical rather than be seduced into the new and e-. Interim goal is at least 10 physical books read this month and packed into a box— I'm running behind by the middle of the month.

  1. Dark Ship Thieves (January 2010) by Sarah A. Hoyt: Another book pulled from my e-book backlog and I enjoyed every second of it. I'm glad that I waited this long to read it, because it means that I am only 6 months away from the sequel. This has been my quarter to find great fantasy/sf writers who are writing from a strong woman's point of view (Martha Wells was the other) and I am very happy to have a backlog of their writing to work through. Reviews keep mentioning Heinlein and I am afraid that I need to do so as well: this is a Heinlein if he were a woman and writing today. I can't wait for the further adventures of Athena Hera Sinistra. This is available from Baen Books, my very favorite, well-priced, DRM-free purveyor of e-books and I heartily recommend that you buy this and perhaps the Web-scription that it came in, which will also get you a Karres book and one of the Anvils I reviewed last month (and a few others)
  2. A Wee Christmas Homicide (October 2010) by Kaitlyn Dunnett: A free Kindle mystery, picked up ages ago. I liked this one, with its protagonist being Liss MacCrimmon, who runs an all things Scottish emporium in a small town in Maine. Partnered with her aunt (who returns to town in this mystery to discuss selling her share of the store), she suggests a 12 Days of Christmas shopping theme to bring tourists and buyers into the town, which has been negatively impacted by lack of snow and the recession. As a draw, she and other retailers offer the "must have toy" of the season, the otherwise sold-out Tiny Teddies. But when another shopkeeper is murdered, Liss becomes involved in the investigation. Her relationships with two men, one a policeman, are a backdrop, but not really explored. An ok mystery. I might try another.
  3. deadly decisions (2000) by Kathy Reichs: I see the chronology I listed in my previous notes was a bit off: this is the third novel in the Temperance Brennan series and in it we are introduced to more of Dr. Brennan's relationships with both her Montreal associates and her family. This book closely deals with the "biker wars" that Kathy Reichs discussed at her lecture in Berlin last fall.
  4. I didn't ask to be born (but I'm glad I was) (November 2011) by Bill Cosby: This ARC has been on my shelf for a while, I'm not certain why. A quick and amusing read, but without the illustrations that were added in the final, a slim 194 page, large font book. The final page count will be (was) 208 pages, so there should be some interesting photos in the added pages. I always found Bill Cosby funny and I enjoyed reading this short collection of anecdotes.
  5. Monday Mourning(2004) by Kathy Reichs: The problem with reading my way through a series, is that when I reach the end of the books that I have in physical, I have a (very) strong desire to just order the next several on my Kindle. I will be strong! This is the seventh in the Tempe Brennan series. A plumber uncovers a body in the basement of a pizza parlor and the question is: is this a historical find, or a find requiring police involvement. A scarey twist at the end and the themes of (sexual) slavery, child  rape, imprisonment, serial murder and Stockholm syndrome are unfortunately all too recurrent in the world I am living in.
Didn't get all the books I wanted in, but it's been a busy month: I hope to get some started and not finished May posts up this week. 

19 May 2012


 While T2 had a birthday party to go to, T1 had the opportunity to do her absolute favorite thing: go to a Kletterwald (climbing park).

This is hard to do when we have both children, because T2 is too small (a minimum"reach" is required) and a bit frightened, but nevertheless really wants to go as well.

The look of seriousness and concentration is exciting to watch and her joy as she succeeds is infectious.

She is my courageous and athletic girl (definitely gets the coordination from her father).

Dancing with a Bear

Enjoying the walk home after someone-else's birthday party.

06 May 2012

And a birthday in two parts

At the MACHmit Museum
T2 had her birthday celebration broken by the holidays, T1's birthday, and some other excursions, but we finally got it all done!

First, she had her birthday in class. For once, I didn't stay to take photos and these are from her Erzieherin. I like the "Birthday train" so much that last year I bought one myself. It only goes up to 9 (do you think there is an extension set?), so I guess that it is aimed at the Grundschule set. Afterwards, they play traditional German birthday games (which have the birthday child wearing a crown and acting as master of ceremonies: is this how the bossiness is inculcate?) and each other child personally congratulates the Geburtstagkind with a handshake and the ritual "Herzlichen Gluckwunsch". I brought in the standard cake, but I also brought in goody-bags, as we invited only the girls to the later, outside, party.

The second part of the party, held several weeks later, was at the Kindermuseum MACHmit! I had heard good things about the museum, and because of the weather and the number of children (even with just girls, it was larger than any party we have had) we decided we needed a program. The girls really enjoyed the climbing area and the chocolate cake (for once not one I made myself), but the program was a little bit above their level— more for the 8 year old and her friend then a group of 5-6 year olds. I'm disappointed that one of the guides was not able to understand that giving a note to a non-reading child is a bit inutile. The other guide was great with kids, though.

We will visit the museum again, when we can be more free-form.

01 May 2012

May Day

The first of May is a holiday in Germany, both because it is Labor Day (that is, the day of the Workers, or International Worker's Day) and because the Walpurgis Nacht is from April 30th through May 1st, and the witches congregate not far from here, in the Harz Mountains.

Berlin, a former member of the Communist Eastern Bloc, celebrates it a bit more strongly than other areas, with a local tradition of riots. Recently, the riots have attracted folks from all over Germany and the rioters have been found to be such people as doctors and middle managers, looking for the chance to put on a mask and destroy property. The Berlin Police have strengthened their defense and the areas in question are not local to me, so, on this absolutely gorgeous day, we packed up the kids and went to Britzer Garten, smack in the middle of its Tulip Festival.

I had been unhappy to miss our annual visit to the Keukenhof (when we headed that way in early April, the weather was so bad- it rained every day. all day) that we cancelled continuing further in the Netherlands and grabbed the moments of sunshine to take short walks and visit relatives. So it was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to walk through a large garden on a beautiful day. Although, what a difference! The Britzer Garten is really just another green space in Berlin (although with a very small entrance fee) and, rather than a manicured and pristine spot, it is a huge, well-used, well-loved and public friendly green space. With food kiosks (all with reasonable prices for both food and - it's Germany- alcohol).

We wandered about, we climbed the viewing stations (like lifeguard lookouts) and gazed over the expanses, we swam in the sea of flowers (as allowed, through paths and walkable lawns), we sat by the side of a lake and a river, rolled down a huge hill, used several different playgrounds, looked at the water and sand play area (but did not use it- when the Germans let their small children play naked in water, I won't let mine: I see them using it as an open toilet and that is just not defensible).
It was a gorgeous day, (even losing a stuffed Armiser (ant) along the way).