Project Hail Mary: is it worth it?

Disclaimer: I do not make a habit of reviewing books, so take it with a grain of salt.

I obtained the oh-so-readable Large Print Edition of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, because that was what the library had available. I was skeptical, I admit. My brother is generally anti-fiction, but someone convinced him that this would be worth it. I was very curious.

The story opens with Dr. Grace waking up in a spaceship with no memory of how he got there. The details that lead up to that point are revealed very, very slowly, as the character begins to remember things. This is intriguing for a short time, but begins to feel like we are being fed information too slowly, and in the end, not enough of it is important to the immediate situation. There are oddly specific details in the memories that really don’t need to be there to give us what we need to understand the situation.

Much of the book felt like it was trying to convince me with vague math that the science therein was realistic. I’m not afraid of math and science, and I love a passionate explanation of a scientific concept, but this felt like pandering to a certain grade-level where you show a concept but not the details. When a character whips out his phone calculator every few pages, it gets to be kind of annoying.

In some parts of the book, there were certain numbers repeated over and over – it began to feel as if there would be a quiz at the end. I got bored with this version of math and science quickly. I’m not going to pull out my calculator and check the numbers while I’m reading a story, but it almost seemed like it was daring you to do so.

The biggest problem I had was with this character, Dr. Grace. I wanted to like him, or have a reason to hope he survived, but quite frankly, it wasn’t there. Here is a man who appears to let everything happen to him, expending the least amount of effort possible to maintain a sadly isolated life. This doesn’t impress me in real life or in a book. I want my protagonist to have actual connections to people, to the world around them. I want them to have a purpose, some morals, some kind of drive. Letting things happen to you is not a good story, no matter how interesting those things are.

After slogging through the book, I finally reached the end, only to discover that I could hate the character even more than I already did. I found the ending to be disturbing in so many ways. I know that this may make it sound interesting and I apologize for that. It is not an endorsement. In fact, it might not be disturbing to anyone else. It would make a good discussion topic, let’s say that.

If you like to read about improbable scenarios, selfish characters, and gratuitous math and science stuff, have at it. If you are looking for a cartoonish space adventure for sub-teens, this may be your book. Otherwise, the answer is no, it isn’t worth it.

Thank you for your time, and keep reading! Just not this one.

Posted in Notes, Sharing, Ugh. | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Man of My Dreams

So here I am in the middle of a pandemic that has just cancelled the St. Patrick’s Day parade again (Dang! A year! That parade is how I mark the beginning of the major cancellations – it started with St. Patty’s.) and my dating options are a bit limited. At least if I meet someone now, I know they can use a computer.

Digital sign by the highway: Wash hands, wear a mask.

Don’t worry, though. My brain is working overtime to give me some of that closeness I’m not getting in real life. While I sleep alone in my bed, I’m getting to spend time with the man of my dreams, or rather the men of my dreams: unexpectedly pleasant encounters with ex-boyfriends I haven’t seen since before I was married.

I don’t want them back, I hardly ever think about them, and I’m glad we’ve moved on. In my dreams, they are being kind, and physically close, and making me feel like I have someone to share things with. In real life, they are happily and safely far away. They don’t know they are helping me through this pandemic in their own special way.

I can only assume my brain has been going back through the old library catalog in there, searching under Holding Hands and Making Out and pulling out those well-worn index cards that tell it where to find the right memories. Ones where I feel safe and not-lonely and maybe even happy. And then it is sneaking them into my dreams, where I find them from time to time when the alarm goes off in the morning, or the running toilet wakes me up in the night. I must be blissfully living in that space on the nights when I don’t get interrupted.

I’m still lonely, but I’m glad someone is looking out for me, even if it is just… me.

And I am starting to try the online dating thing. So I’ll have some new exes to dream about during the next pandemic. (Please let that be a funny joke when I read it years from now.)  I’m sure I’ll have some interesting stories from that.  🙂

For now, I’ll keep doing the virtual things: meetings, games, and events from the living room. I’ll keep my family safe. Life goes on.

Be kind, be smart, be brave.   Never take hugs for granted.

And I didn’t think I’d ever have to say this, but don’t storm the Capitol.  Just don’t.

Posted in Starting | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Do the Hustle! With Hope

And just before we shut the door on last year, we noticed that there was still hope sitting there, waiting for us to ask it to dance…

Hope hangs in there, through the worst of times.

Could be dancing in this picture
2020: Safe Outdoors

For the longest time I thought cancer was the worst thing. It took people you loved.

Then I thought that human trafficking was the worst. It took innocent people and bought and sold them like they didn’t matter.

Then I thought that divorce was really the worst thing. It took your promises of love and hopes for the future and stomped on them pretty hard.

Then I thought that someone taking their own life was the most worst thing. It was unexpected and devastating in a way nothing else had been, and there were no answers to all of the questions.

There are so many worst-ish things, and it can feel overwhelming: all forms of domestic violence, the far-reaching effects of systemic racism, people not protecting each other from the pandemic, not being able to comfort each other when the worst things happen.

We need to hold onto hope. We need to take it by the hand, lead it to the dance floor, twirl it around and do-si-do with it. We need to do the Hokey-Pokey with it. We need to dance, and dream. We will get through, get beyond, get better. We will win that dance competition at the end of the summer if we keep practicing those moves.

We need to keep trying.

Be kind, be smart, be brave.    Never take hugs for granted.

The next post will be less weighty. I just needed to get these thoughts out.

Posted in Hope | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Well, then. It’s time for an update.

It’s only been two years. (Oh crap, has it been that long?)

A lot has changed. And I don’t just mean the entire world being turned upside down and inside out by the threat of COVID-19. That, luckily, came long after I packed everything up and moved back home. Returning home defeated – I could not win that game.

That game was not really a game. It was the marriage, and he wasn’t following the rules. So that is done. One cross-country divorce later, I am working on rebuilding my self and my life.

I finally got that job working from home. After looking for about three years, I could not have asked for better timing on the offer I got. Without it I might have had time to languish, might have let myself stop trying.

I’m taking a Happiness class. Because that is what one does when one is feeling the strain of protecting loved ones and not having anywhere to go. I’m working on a 2000 piece puzzle, and that is no small effort. I’m trying to do 30 days of yoga, which I had not done for a very long time (I’m on day 21 and getting better). And I’m Zooming with friends and groups that used to meet in person.

I’m hanging on and hoping.

My plans to start dating again have been thwarted. Maybe that’s a good thing? It will give us all something to talk about.

This isn’t very exciting. There is a lot I am not ready to say.

Just this: appreciate the people in your life. Be kind, be smart, be brave.

Posted in Goals, Starting, Yoga | Leave a comment

Without you

I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone
It’s gonna feel like nothing’s on
Thousands of shows
But you’re the one I chose
I hope they find a reason
To make another season

I know you all so well, in my mind
Like I’m under a spell, we’re entwined
What would my life be like without you?
Should I feel guilty that I doubt you
           will return
      I mean, people do get burned
           or fired
           And writers can retire…


Yes, it’s been one of those months. Too much TV. I’ve gone through all the seasons of a couple of shows that I really liked. Time wasted? Er…

Posted in Friendship, Procrastination | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to go see a band


Did you really go to the show so you could stand there with your cell phone and record the band from the dance floor?

Move. Your. Feet.

Put that thing away and dance!


Enjoy the music!

I saw you take that selfie and then sit down again.


Pink drums? Nice!

Posted in Exploring, Ugh. | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Home-made fast food: Crunchy Wrap

Well, I don’t know if I should use the name they have on the menu. If you love it like I do, you’ll know what it is.

You will need:

  • Tortillas. I just used what I have, which is the soft taco style, so I had to scale things down a bit. They’re whole wheat and pretty soft, and worked just fine. You can get the big ones if you want to make a life-sized copy of the fast food version.
  • Tostada shells
  • Sour cream
  • Spinach or mixed greens, because we’re making this at home and we don’t need no lame lettuce in our food
  • Tomatoes, salsa, or something like that. I have canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes this time, and that works fine.
  • Cheese. I’m using queso fresco because I have it on hand and I think it’s awesome, you can use whatever you think will taste good.
  • Ground beef cooked up with taco seasoning. I used the low-sodium version, which is good because most things are too over-flavored for me. I may have added a little more spice since it only came in ‘mild’. It’s good if this is still warm when you start.

Since I’m starting with cold tortillas, I put a skillet over very low heat while I put all the stuff on it. You’ll want to have the warm skillet to make it more ‘cooked’ once you fold it.

Spoon some taco meat into the middle of the tortilla. Go easy, you’ll need to fold the edges over everything in the middle.

You can put the cheese next or wait. Now that I think about it, you might want to put it on the bottom so it starts to warm up and maybe melt by the time you’re ready.

The tostada shell goes on top of the meat/cheese. For my small tortillas, I broke the tostada shell into something about half size.

Spread sour cream on the tostada shell, then put tomato chunks or salsa on top.

Add tomato

After this, you can add cheese if you didn’t already, and top it off with spinach/greens.

Add spinach

Now, fold the tortilla edges in just like you know they do it in the restaurant.

Fold it like they do!

Flip that baby over and warm up the other side. If you have something that you can use to sort of flatten it, that will be even better. It’s up to you how brown you want it.

I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have to hold it together a little while I ate it, but you know it didn’t last long, so no big deal. If you fold it good, you only need to make sure you don’t lose hold of the last flap.


I was pretty darn happy with this one. I hope you enjoy yours!


Posted in Favorites, Food | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I Dared Me

One day I took a look at the blog I had created, and I saw that there were only brittle bones holding it up, occasional posts with gaps of neglect letting the structure sag.

I shook my head at myself. Pathetic.

I dared myself, then. Dared me to do one hundred posts in one hundred days.

And I took that dare, knowing I could, but not sure I would.

How long is one hundred days? Much longer than it sounds. You know what feels like one hundred days? About sixty days. Then you look at the calendar and realize that you still have a long long way to go.

I’m not pretending that these are the highest quality posts, or the most interesting. What they are is… me. Me meeting a goal that I only shared with two other people.


Because. It was something to try.

And that is why there is

Posted in Goals, Try This!, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Picture of the week: Blue

The reservoir was this incredible dark blue today. Such a wonderful color.

It’s much too late in the year for the reservoir to be mostly unfrozen, but I can’t complain about warm weather and dry roads.

And dark blue water.

Posted in Pictures, Water | Tagged | Leave a comment

Detective shows: Columbo

I love detective shows. Do I love all of them? Probably not. But I certainly have some favorites.

Let’s start with one of the all-time greats: Colombo.

The best part about this one is that it absolutely is not a who-done-it.

You never have to guess who did it. You always see them do it.

Then what is the show all about, you might ask?

It’s about Columbo.

It’s about how he goes about the investigation – talking to people, asking questions, showing up again and again, getting the suspect to ‘help’ him figure out what the killer was thinking.

I know, it sounds almost boring. But somehow it isn’t. It’s like… watching a tennis match? A chess game? More like that. You’re seeing both sides making their moves, and even though you know who will win, it’s a close game and that makes it interesting.

I’m thinking you either love it or hate it. The fact that there were so many episodes tells me that some decent percentage of people loved it.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I can keep watching it long after Peter Falk passed away. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to take his place.

Here’s to Colombo, the one and only.

Posted in Favorites, Motivation | Tagged | Leave a comment