Nerd is the New Black

I’ve never claimed to be cool. That is just not in my makeup. I’m not into parties or dressing edgy. I’d much rather have a beer with a few close friends or read, or sit with some needlework. I remember one time when I was in grad school a friend called to ask if I wanted to have lunch. She had asked me what I was doing, and I replied “Oh, just sitting on the couch, knitting and watching Unsolved Mysteries.” There was silence on the other end of the line, and then the question, “What, are you 82?”

Holly Hat Clown–Red Skelton

Yeah. I’m a nerd. Look at the needlepoint project I’ve been obsessively working on the past few weeks. It was a kit I discovered in my grandmother’s sewing basket after she died seven years ago. Mom told me she had bought needlepoint projects for all of her grandchildren at one point, but never finished them. This one had barely been started. I was also told that this particular project had been intended for my cousin Scott, who was just a little kid at the time. Hey Scott, you’re welcome.

I have hung onto this thing for years and never worked on it more than a few stitches here and there. But I dug it out right before the hurricane and started on it again, and somehow it clicked this time. I’ve been rabidly stitching ever since, and binge watching TV shows on Netflix. And just to prove what a total nerd I am, I watched the documentary series The Royal House of Windsor and and am now halfway through Secrets of Great British Castles. So, yeah.

I hope to finish this in time for Christmas. I plan on making it into a pillow to put in my office. It’s so awful that I absolutely adore it.

What’s my point? That I am proud of my nerd status. When I was in my teens and twenties it really bothered me that I wasn’t more outgoing, that I was awkward in large groups, that parties gave me wicked anxiety.  I did get better at it, I learned how to relax and be more outgoing, although it still takes its toll. But in my 40’s I have found that I really like me. I think I’m pretty cool just how I am.

I’m proud of my clown. I can’t wait to see how he looks in my office. I’ll post a picture when Old Red is complete.

Again, Scott, you’re welcome.


Hoodoo Voodoo Chooka Chooky Choo Choo

I can’t wait. I said I was going to take a little time off to relax before starting on the next book, but I don’t want to! I want to plunge ahead and start researching.

I write historical fiction which means my research nerd gene gets exercised frequently. The Abduction of Audrey Bettencourt is starts in London in 1817, right in the heart of the Regency period. Very Jane Austen, or Georgette Heyer, which excites me. But there is also the shadowy figure in a remote castle in the Carpathian mountains that I had to research as well.

Marie Laveau

This new book sees my heroine, Jane Bell, setting out from France on a journey to New Orleans. The war of 1812 still hangs heavy in the atmosphere, and a young Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess, is just coming into her powers. What an enthralling period of history to explore!

I just went and ordered four books on New Orleans, Marie Laveau, and voodoo.  I can’t wait to dig in. I hope a visit to the city itself can be arranged within the next year. I’d love to absorb the flavor and history of NOLA first hand. I figure it isn’t that far and I’m already used to the heat living in South Florida like I do. Seriously. I could use oven mitts to handle the steering wheel these days.

Also: books are coming to meeeee!

I’ll still have a few days before the books arrive, so I’ll take that moment to breathe, relax, and do some recreational reading. Do you know of Book Bub? It’s a great little email service. You create an account and tell them your preferences and they send you a daily email with sales on eBooks from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc. It’s wonderful and terrible because I have about 50 new books on my Nook that are just waiting for me. Well, vacation is coming and I’ll have plenty of reading material to choose from.

But soon I’ll be in the bayou.

(p.s. The title of this post refers to a song originally written by Woody Guthrie and covered by Billy Bragg and Wilco. It has been my resident ear worm all week.)


Bullet Journal Bonanza

I think I have mentioned how much I love office supplies. I did a whole post here on my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens. But that is really only half the story. What I write on is the other half of my nerdy little obsession.

I am a bullet journaler.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, a bullet journal is a free-form datebook that also has lists, information, pretty much anything you would jot down in your day to day life. The seminal bullet journal site is here but the beauty of a bullet journal is that it can be any format that works best for you.

leuchturm-1917First, the notebooks. I looked around at a lot of different types and the one I found that is the best quality, hands down, is the Leuchturm 1917. The paper quality is outstanding, bleed through is almost non-existent. They also are sewn together and lay flat no matter what page. And you can get them with lined pages, dots or blank, so you can customize how you wish.

And I do.

january-2017At the end of November I buy two spanking new Leuchturm notebooks in complementary colors. One is dotted and will be my bullet journal, the other lined and my regular journal where I record thoughts and events. Then, for the month of December, I spend my time getting my calendar pages drawn in. I love having a calendar I can customize to suit my fancy and I really do slave over the pages. I usually make a photocopy of the two page spread first and then sketch it out in pencil before I start inking in the pages in the book. I told you I was a nerd.

But the result? Pure, unadulterated, geek heaven.


Not exactly jumping on the water and exercise, am I?

After the calendar pages I also put in other things. I have been doing daily gratitude for over two years now. Every day I write down one good thing that happened. I also keep track of blog posts, author interviews, addresses, books read, and to do lists for each month. It’s very satisfying to have it all neatly tucked into a candy-colored book that fits in my purse. It’s lovely to have a row of them on my bookshelf at home as a record of my life.

Do you bullet journal? What do you keep in yours?

Bamberg and Munich

There are certain things I can say about our time in Germany. Large quantities of pork, cabbage, and beer were consumed, the last being my favorite:

Munich: Beer good.

Munich: Beer good.


We spent two days in Munich. One coming into Germany, one going out. On the day we arrived Kosta and I took the train from Salzburg. We got to our hotel in the early afternoon and parked our stuff. Then we headed out to the center of town to look around. That’s where the above picture happened. We ate pork. (Surprise, surprise.)

Sir, do you have any pork?

Sir, do you have any pork?

We walked through the beer garden at the Food Market, and I am sorry to say we didn’t stop, but we had a plane to meet. Even so, it was tempting:

They keep the line moving. They're very precise.

They keep the line moving. They’re very precise.

Bamberg was our last day in Bavaria. We drove over in the morning and the first stop was the cathedral. We wandered around inside and out. It was a strange placement on the top of the hill and set so there were two west entrances instead of one with a big chapel separating them.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

We had lunch in the rose garden of the Imperial Palace which was right across the oddly shaped square from the cathedral. And I will not shock you, I am sure, to tell you beer and pork were consumed.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The garden itself was very pretty and had a series of Greco-Roman statues. I thought Hera with her peacock was the prettiest.

2016-07-11 12.48.01

The great and wise Hera.

After we had sufficient refreshment we wandered down the hill and found the old town. The neat thing about Bamberg is the Town Hall. In the Middle Ages the townspeople wanted a town hall but the Prince Bishop would not grant them land to build it. So the ingenious people of Bamberg created an island in the middle of the Regnitz and built their town hall on that.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

Bamberg was charming. There was ice cream. We had a nice day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Werewolf of Bamberg by Oliver Pötzsch. I read it earlier this year and wrote a review of it here. It was really cool to visit a place I had read about like that. It was fun because I looked like a rock star (albeit a totally nerdy one) because I already knew the name of the river and the fact that the town hall was built into the river.  The entire Hangman’s Daughter series I recommend as a whole.

From one nerd to another.

(Because let’s face it, rock stars in general do not read my blog.)


IKEA nerdery

I admit freely that I am a nerd, but a special kind of nerd. I’m not into video games, superheroes, anime, science, math, or any of the other typical kinds of nerdery you are used to hearing about.

I like history. And ridiculous trivia (which is an oxymoron in itself, but there you go), and knitting. And I love puzzles.

Which is why the best part of a trip to IKEA is coming home and being faced with this:

photo 1

God, Isn’t that beautiful? There is something so pure about all those pieces that need to be fitted together into a shape that resembles furniture.

I can’t say that I have ever met anyone else who actually enjoys assembling furniture. My dad is certainly good at it, I did learn from the Master, after all. But I’ve never asked him if he derives pleasure from such an experience.

So as soon as I have all the lovely pieces unboxed and lined up on the walls, I then take out the hardware and do this:

photo 2

Sick, aren’t I? I am nothing, if not a walking contradiction. My clean laundry is at this moment lying in a heap on my bed and the cats have been burrowing tunnels in it. But by all means, let’s lay out the dowels and screws in perfect order.

I am also a fan of following directions. It’s a good thing one of us in this marriage is. And no, this is not a dig about men never following directions. My aforementioned master-assembler father is a primo example of a man who reads and follows directions. I don’t think it is a sex-oriented trait. I think it has more to do with logic and intuition. I have logic, my husband has intuition. Which do you suppose should be assembling furniture?

photo 3

And here we are in process. It is a bookcase that matches the others in my home office. Because let me tell you, a librarian can never have too many bookcases. You might think I borrow all my books but you would be sadly mistaken. I buy a lot from the book sale shelves of donations we receive every week. It’s a nasty habit, but I suspect it’s kept me from cocaine. Librarians are nothing but a bunch of hopheads, you know. Well, not really, but let me have the joke.

So I watched/listened to Project Runway while I assembled, pausing to watch the runway shows and always failing to understand what the judges were looking for. Another thing about librarians is that we are hopeless in fashion. It’s all the cocaine. (Sorry, also not true. I know some very badass librarians with a razor’s edge sense of fashion. Just not me, sadly. I’ll never be that cool.)

photo 4

And here is the finished product. Quite nice don’t you think? And of course, there is Fingers the cat posing for you. He’s such a camera whore.

I was just thinking about what it would be like to assemble an entire house of furniture like this.

My little hummingbird heart would burst from the excitement.

And that my friends, is why you shouldn’t do drugs.