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Last day of Thanksgiving vacation

I took Friday and today off from work to give myself a nice break, and to try to catch up on things. I think what I caught up most on was...sleep :P Ah well, working on laundry now, and updating things here will allow me to put another big checkmark on my mental to-do list.

Weather has stabilized a bit. Last weekend was weird. Friday- it was 70s. Mid-70s. I saw small flower buds on my one shrub. Saturday morning I woke up to snow. By Sunday we had about an inch, maybe two inches, of white stuff on the ground. It's been mid-40s and drizzly since, for the most part. May get up to 60 tomorrow, but then we'll again see a slow turn back to the 40s. Still warm for this time of year though.

I brought my Christmas cacti in last Saturday morning due to the snow. I think this might be the longest they've been outside. They are in full flower now. A bit late, but still lovely. Usually the blooms are starting to fade at this point.

Thanksgiving was nice, as usual. Spent the morning with my parents, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for the first time in a few years (the channel its on doesn't come in consistently on my television). Then we all went to my aunt and uncle's place. Got to see the newest addition to the family, catch up with family, and enjoy delicious food. I love Thanksgiving.

Went to a wine and canvas event hosted by a friend of mine yesterday. That was a lot of fun! I love those events anyway; my walls are slowly filling up from my paintings from this past year. That evening, I saw Fantastic Beasts with a good friend. WOW! Wonderful movie! Loved loved loved it! It was great seeing such a well-done expansion on the Harry Potter universe. I can hardly wait for the sequels now- this first installment has opened up so many possibilities!

Also had two other new experiences- I tried chicken feet (meh) and pickled onions (delish!). So that brings me up to 22 new experiences!

Now, to update my book list. I can knock off three more items off the Book Riot challenge in this round, leaving me with four left to go (one more is in process). Yeah, doubt I'll make 50 books and I'll be right under the wire with the Book Riot challenge, but given how this summer/early fall fell out... oh well :/

32. The Agency, by Y.S. Lee. This book meets the requirement for reading the first book in a series by an author of color. The first installment, A Spy in the House, introduces the reader to Mary Quinn, a young woman who was saved from certain death and placed into a select boarding school as a child. When Quinn turns 17, she is told that the school is a front for a network of spies -- trained women who infiltrate society to uncover criminal activity. Quinn eagerly joins their ranks and finds herself in the household of a wealthy merchant whom the Agency suspects has been committing insurance fraud. The story is told both from Mary's point of view and James, who has his own reasons for keeping an eye on the merchant's family. Wasn't sure I'd like that approach initially, but Lee pulled it off. What I really liked was the double mystery. Not only does Mary (and the reader) have to piece together what is happening with the ships, but Mary also is on a hunt to discover her own roots. This was a fun, enjoyable read, although some elements require a suspension of belief (the author does stress this is more fiction than historical fiction). Also, admittedly, I guessed whodunit about halfway through the book. I'm curious about the other books in the series now.

33. The Midwife's Tale, by Sam Thomas. This book meets the requirement for reading a historical fiction novel set before 1900. The first installment of this mystery series is set in 1644 in the city of York, towards the end of England's civil war. the central character, Bridget Hodgson,is a genteel widow who serves as one of the city's midwives. Her status as a gentlewoman and a respected midwife allows her to live a fairly comfortable lifestyle despite the civil war that threatens to tear apart the city - both from within and outside. But Hodgson soon finds herself embroiled in another dilemma: Esther, one of her closest friends, is accused of murdering her husband and faces death by burning. Bridget doesn't feel Esther is capable of such an act and begins to take matters into her own hands, with the help of her new servant Martha Hawkins, a young woman with her own share of secrets. This was, all in all, a well-researched novel with a good deal of period detail and a great mystery.I had no idea who the guilty party was until the reveal. More importantly, Bridget is one of the most intriguing heroines I've ever seen. She is a woman of honor and charitable, but she does have her shortcomings and prejudices.Bridget can be generous, but can also be rather cruel to those she thinks have sinned. Even when a young woman is "in trouble" through no fault of her own, her general feeling is one of pity... but.... Bridget is certainly a product of her time, but I wonder if she will slowly soften her rigid code, especially with Martha.

34. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book meets the requirements for reading a nonfiction book on feminist themes. Adichie has written a quick, insightful book on why feminism should not be considered a bad word. Unfortunately, all too often the word feminism has negative connotations. She relates her experiences with misogyny - both subtle and overt- during her years growing up in Nigeria, and living here in the United States. The language of marginalizing women can easily be overlooked because it is so ingrained in society, and the author points out examples of this. Adichie also points out how stereotypes hurt not only women, but men as well. When men are expected and required to act in what can be equally restricting ways, a man's real personality can be lost to the alter of misguided social mores.

35. To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel. This adaptation will be staged by one of our local theaters early next year, and I'm co-designing props for it. So, I thought I'd check out the script for research purposes. I'm also re-reading the novel (I read it in grade school). I believe another theater did this particular adaptation a few years ago as well. It's a good adaptation of this classic novel. Sergel gets the important elements in while keeping the play at a manageable length. True, much has been cut; there's no schoolroom scenes, the items found in the knothole of the tree have been pared down to two and many secondary characters were either cut or combined. But given that the novel is more than 300 pages, that is to be expected. The important development elements and the themes are intact. What's interesting is that while the action in the novel is seen through Scout's eyes, the play is more of an omniscient view. The occasional narrator is actually the Finch's good-hearted neighbor Miss Maudie, who succinctly ties up any loose ends and parses out bits of important information. Looking forward to working on this production!

Currently reading: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and Private Doubt, Public Dilemma: Religion and Science Since Jefferson and Darwin, By Keith Stewart Thomson