Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Book 25 1/3 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Yes, the title of this blog is Book 25 1/3 because I only managed to get through a third of this book. The book is Carson McCullers' book The Heart is a Lonely Hunter first published in 1940. The book cover describes it as:
Carson McCullers was all of twenty-three when she published her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. She became an overnight literary sensation, and soon such authors as Tennessee Williams were calling her "the greatest prose writer that the South [has] produced." Available now for the first time in trade paperback, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter tells an unforgettable tale of moral isolation in a small southern mill town in the 1930s.
Richard Wright was astonished by McCullers's ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." Hers is humanity that touches all who come to her work, whether for the first time or, as so many do, time and time again. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, most enduring.
I originally picked this book up many, many years ago and it has moved with me back and forth across the country and I finally picked it up and started reading it. Unfortunately, after I started reading it, it just didn't grab me and pull me in. Perhaps I've become jaded in my reading by the more recently published works that are all plot and movement. This is more of a character study and not a lot of action. I know I should read such classics as this, but I've made up my mind that I'm not going to read something just because "I should". I've also decided that I'm not going to continue reading something if it doesn't grab me within the first 100 pages or so AND if when I read the last chapter I don't have the desire to find out how the book got there.
I'm sure this is a great book for somebody, but when I have a gagillion books on my shelf that I want to read, I'm not going to continue spinning my wheels on one that just doesn't grab me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Follow-Up

So it is the day after Christmas and what a wonderful Christmas it was. I've been at my folks' house for the past couple of evenings and it has been great to just have the opportunity to relax and be my parents' "little girl" again for a couple of days.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, my sister and her family came over here and we all had great fun collecting the haul that was Christmas presents. The adults in the family exchange names and we have a price limit on how much we will spend and then it is a free-for-all on what the kids will get. This year, I drew my dad's name; which is always a challenge...both he and my brother-in-law are very difficult to shop for. This year, though, I asked my mom what to get for dad and she provided me with a couple of suggestions including some work gloves, a cap with ear flaps, and when all else failed a snuggie....yes, you read that right, a snuggie. I did go for the fancy snuggie from Brookstone, and since they were having a sale (buy two get one free) I went ahead and got one for my mom and for myself and I have to say that I LOVE my snuggie. I had mom and dad unwrap theirs' at the same time and I could not help but just keep laughing because I found it to be completely HI-lareous.... The other gift that I got my dad that cracked me up was a panini maker. The story behind the panini maker is that when I asked my mom what to get dad for his birthday, she said a panini maker, more so because she wanted one... So basically mom made out on gifts almost as well as dad did.

I had provided an Amazon wish-list to my sister and she did a great job of getting stuff for me, including a back-scratcher, which I'm desperate for in the winter time, and great quilt book, and a brownie pad....you know the one where all the brownies have an edge....woo hoo!!

After present-time and dinner-time it was game time. Colin, the nephew, received a couple really fun games that we were all able to participate in and all in all had a great time. I have such a great family and we have a really good time together laughing and joking and eating and playing and just being together.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cooking

I saw this on my way to my family on Christmas Eve. Sorry that the wiped blade covers part of the cooker, but I think Andrea B. may have some competition in the cooking while driving category.

Sent from my HTC on the Now Network from Sprint!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I want to wish all of you out there a Very Merry Christmas!

This is the first year in a very, very long time (probably 15) that I put up a tree, and it made me very happy to do this. Next year I'm shooting for putting up lights outside. I also made enough cookies to feed a small army of elves, which I'm dumping on my family....they are so lucky!

I want to take this time to express how much I love all my friends out there. You have all enriched my life immeasurably and continue to do so daily. Thank you for embracing me as a part of this cyber-community. I send out cyber-hugs and very real Christmas wishes for a blessed and joyous season and that each and every one of you spends this day in the manner and with the people that give you the most joy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is There Something I Should Know....

This morning on my drive into the office with The Queen we caught up on what happened during our Sundays (we would have normally covered Saturday as well, but since we were together Saturday evening, I didn't feel like we REALLY needed to go over that again). The highlight of my Sunday was a conversation with my mom where we discussed when I would be going over there for Christmas and what our menu was going to be. Here is a re-enactment script of the conversation:

ABBA: So, I talked to my mom yesterday and we talked Christmas menus.
QB: Mmmhmmm
ABBA: Mom told me we were having pork roast for dinner and then said that I get to choose dessert.
QB: Yay
ABBA: Yeah, she said that when she asked Dad what he wanted for dessert, he said to ask me...I wonder if I'm dying and my mom knows but isn't telling me.
QB: WHAT?!?
ABBA: Well, isn't that logical? If I get to pick out dessert and it is all about what I want, then I must be dying....
QB: Yeah, that's possible...So, what did you go with?
ABBA: Cheesecake and Chocolate Pie..... She had already assumed that I would say Cheesecake and she would see if my sister would make a Chocolate Pie....Then we decided on what sides to have {I won't go into the whole conversation on what sides we are having with the port roast}. THEN, Mom asked me what I wanted for dinner on Christmas Eve....anything that I wanted and that she knows how to make...anything at all....
QB: Yeah, your dying....and you just made your last meal request....

Artisitic Impulses

I have had the opportunity to release some of my artistic impulses the past couple of weeks while at work. Check out The Queen's blog to see what I'm referring to.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Revelations

I spent yesterday evening with my sister's family and Kathleen specifically. Colin had a Christmas concert that they all wanted to go to (he plays tuba in the Jr. High Band), but Kathleen wasn't really up for much of an outing so I went over to watch the Lifetime Movie Network with her and give her a bitter old-maid's perspective on love. But I digress because that isn't where the revelations came from.

First, my sister is amazing. I used to always call her "perfect" in a snotty voice because I hated so many things about myself and wanted my life to be more like her's (I've since learned to accept much of who and what I am and don't deflect my self-hatred onto my sister). Last night as I observed her in her natural habitat getting her kids to finish their homework and prepping for getting out of the the house for the concert; seeing that Kathleen was comfortable and getting her exercise in; getting a healthy dinner cooked and on the table; and working on a speech that she had to give at the concert I realized that she really is an amazing woman. Where she juggles, I would drop.

Second revelation, I have actually learned something from Dr. Drew Pinsky and Celebrity Rehab. As my sister was practicing her speech, she told me that she was really nervous about speaking in front of all of these people. Mind you, as stated above, I find my sister to be amazing and I never thought she had any fear...turns out public speaking is one of her fears. Now, she is a 4th Grade teacher, which would completely freak me out as I would be scared to death of talking and managing a classroom of kids; getting in front of a group of adults and talking while it doesn't give me any sort of "woo hoo" feeling, I'm somewhat comfortable as long as I know the material that I'm presenting. When I asked her what she was most scared about she said that her biggest fear was being judged (which has been a huge fear of mine for years and at one point practically paralyzed me from wanting to leave my home and be in public). I then asked her "what would you be thinking if you were in the audience watching somebody else give the speech?" Her response was "wow, I'm impressed with them." There wouldn't be any judging, so I pointed that out to her...Hopefully, that helped to sort of calm her down and then I told her that if nothing else that she should just channel our mom since Jay knows no stranger. (Oh, and to circle back to why this is something I learned from Dr. Drew is because I'm almost certain that one of the "celebrities" had this same fear that people were judging them and would therefore self medicate and were now addicts and he had to work to explain to them that people weren't judging them and for the most part most people are really only judging themselves and projecting that judgement coming from other people, when really most people just don't care...or something like that...which in the end, help me to feel okay with leaving my house without having debilitating panic attacks.)

You know, so much of this makes so much more sense when coming from the voices in my head....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Updates

A lot has gone on over the past week and for the most part it has all been good.

Kathleen had her surgery and is doing really well, at least from my non-trained eye. She is actually checking out of the hospital this morning, which makes all of us very, very happy. She can now go home and recuperate in her own home. I went with my folks on Saturday to visit her and I have to give serious props to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, they are great, the people that work that and volunteer there get 5 stars in my book. Here is a story that my sister heard while there that is pretty sobering and makes me very happy to live in this country: A couple of the marathon runners from Kenya were in town for the White Rock Marathon which supports the hospital. At some point these runners were brought to the hospital to do some rounds, visit some of the kids, do photo ops and what not. Well, these men, who were very nice from what I understand, were amazed and taken aback by not only the facilities but just the fact that there was such a place and that there were so many children with these types of challenges that were actually being cared for. They alluded to the fact that in their country, children who were born with deformities of the nature that TSRH addresses (clubfoot, limb lengthening, pediatric orthopedics in general) were often times not encouraged to live and in their country they just didn't last. It breaks my heart to think that kids in other parts of the world aren't given the same love and care that our Kathleen has received. But, if I think too long and hard on the state of the world then I start to spiral into a horrid black hole of depression....

So, on a lighter note....the Queen and I (which, they should make a parody play off of the King and I with that name) have been carpooling all last week, which while I don't have anything of note to talk about regarding these trips, it just makes me very happy.

Also, I have the most talented Dad in the world (and yeah, that really should be I have the most talented Dad in MY world, but you all get the drift). He made a buffet/side-board/large piece of furniture for Casa ABBA and delivered it Saturday before we went to the hospital. It is beautiful and works wonderfully with my decor AND it allows me to store all of my wines and other stuff.

And, I guess now I really need to stop procrastinating and need to buckle down and do some work....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kathleen

I don't often ask for people to pray for or send positive vibes my way, but I'm doing so this week. My niece, Kathleen is having surgery on Wednesday at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital to correct two curves in her back caused by scoliosis. She is 16 and has been in a brace since she was just a wee little thing. This girl was born with an old soul and is the most amazing person I know. From the time she started wearing her brace to now, she has accepted her plight with grace and strength...stronger than most of us "grown-ups". It breaks my heart that she has had to go through this but I know that she is a survivor and is surrounded with love.

So, please, keep her in your thoughts. Send strength to my sister and brother-in-law so that they can take care of her. And send patience to my parents because I know they will be anxious the whole time.

And, Kathleen, know that we all love and admire and with only the best for you.

PS. If you have young kids, don't wait to have their backs checked. My sister thought she saw a curve in Kathleen at an early age and hopefully catching it early helped to reduce some of the curvature.
PSS. Support the Scottish Rite Hospital. They have been lifesavers to my family and to so many others throughout the years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 Book 25 - The Forgotten Garden

I just finished Kate Morton's novel The Forgotten Garden and loved it. But, before I get into the reasons why I loved this book let's take a look at the back-cover write-up.
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book - a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery. The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

First and foremost, this book is really a mystery, what really happened way back when and while I had a really good idea of what really happened about 2/3 of the way through, it was really intriguing to learn the bits and pieces and how Kate Morton fleshed out the story. (Oh and there was the relationship of the generations of women and I'm all about enjoying tales that weave in the mother/daughter dynamic.) AND, on top of the whole story-line there was the locale and how it was described...beautiful!!!

Admittedly, this isn't a book for everybody. The intrigue that is in this mystery is of a very subtle, romantic flavor and not shoot-em-up-who-dunnit. It is a mystery of why, which I love. Enjoy!!

Oh, and I've hit my goal for the year of 25 books and I still have time to probably get at least one more book in and then I can claim averaging a book every other week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Book 24 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon over the weekend. I thought this was great!! Here is what the back says:
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7, 057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
It is a story about a boy with what I'm assuming is Asbergers. This would be another in a series where I've come across characters with this. I recently watched the movie Adam, which is a very sweet movie about a man with Asbergers; and there is a little boy in the series Parenthood, which I've taken to watching, who also has this. With watching these shows and reading the book, I am really amazed at the care-takers of these people (of course I'm amazed at any care-takers).
Okay, so back to the book.... It is a really fast read and very insightful. AND, the chapters are numbered in prime numbers (because the narrator, Christopher, is a math genius and he thinks in primes). I admit that I love prime numbers and at times when I'm working out or doing something repetitive I like to see how far I can count in prime numbers...is that weird?
Anyway, I would highly recommend this book to pretty much anybody.
(I think next year I'll come up with a rating system for my book reviews.....)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Was I Thinking

I became my four year old self today....

There is a story in our family of a time when I was fourish sitting in the family room of my grandparents' living room, there was a football game on and all the "men-folk" (Dad, uncles, grand-father) were watching the game. I was using my snub-nose scissors cutting out paper dolls. For some reason, I decided to take these scissors and whack a chunk of hair out of the middle of my cute four year old bangs. None of the "men-folk" seemed to notice....

Anyway, that was really just to give a little background on why today I became my four year old self again.

I've been sitting here reading some incredibly boring work stuff and playing with my hair as it was drying and decided that I needed a haircut. As you may or may not know I'm in the process of growing my hair out so that I can donate it when it gets long enough. It is getting really close to being long enough, except for the ends have been color treated, so I have to let it grow out longer so as to not include the colored part in the length. Well, today, as I'm twirling my hair, I decided that I was just going to cut it....I chopped probably 3 inches off.....just whack whack whack. I probably should have gone to a professional, but whatever....it'll grow back, right?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Margarita Ball Update

Last night I went to the 2010 Margarita Ball as mentioned in my previous (slightly drunk) post. This was a dress-up event where men wore tuxedos and women wore fancy party dresses. My friend Jennifer got the tickets and convinced me that I wanted to go. When I asked what one would wear to such an event, she told me and described it as "prom for adults". This wasn't really all that helpful since I didn't go to my first prom.....but I managed to pull off a grown up fancy look and had a certain amount of fun (up until I got tired and my feet started hurting in my cute strappy sandals). Here are some things that I observed at this adult prom and I wonder how many of these would have been seen at my prom some 20 years ago....
  • Free flowing margaritas while they lasted
  • Silent auction, including an Audi convertible and spa trips to Fiji
  • Drink tickets
  • Stripper poles, with GoGo dancers (I couldn't convince Jennifer to get up on the stripper box and while I felt confident on how to get up there.....there was no way I could actually work the pole.)
  • Fake boobs....lots of 'em
  • Mountain of toys
  • Aged women in slinky, animal-print dresses (who knew leopard dresses with spangles were in style)
  • Casino tables
  • Dirty-old men with very young women in very short slinky dresses
  • Did I mention the mountain of toys? That was the coolest part.
I think if Jennifer asks me back next year, I will definitely do this again. It was great fun and I've learned some things that will hopefully improve the experience next time.....for one, I'll take a nap so that I can keep going past midnight.

Old.oldoldold

I've decided that I'm old...too old to be out partying...

I,Ve benn to the Dallas Margarita Ball this evening and while I have had a really good time...I had to turn in early. I got all dressed up in my fancy dress after getting my hair and makeup done but decided that I'd had enough at 12:30 and came back to the room for sleep...rather than continue to prowl the ball rooms of the hotel looking for Mr. Right Now...and I'm going to get annoyed at the other guests in the hall...like I said I'm getting old....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

On this day 70 years ago the most amazing woman I know was born!!

I don't have the words to let you know how much you mean to me and the impact that you have had on my life, so I'll just look at you in a sappy, meaningful way, with movie soundtrack music swelling in my head and you'll just know....

This picture was taken last year at the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth.

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 Book 23 - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I told you...I am on a roll. I'm addicted to reading at the moment....Can't get enough....

I just finished Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows' book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and loved it. As always, let me give you the back of the book blurb first:
January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
Let me first say that I wasn't initially drawn to purchase this book. I had seen it on the shelves of many a bookstore and never even picked it up. But then, I recently put in an order of books at Amazon.com and for some reason decided to include this in my order. Amazon seemed to think I would enjoy it as he/she/it kept including it in my "recommendations", which by the way I check almost daily and seemed to flag at least a couple to go into wish list. I thought this book was going to run along the lines of Fannie Flagg and her Fried Green Tomatoes book, and that is probably only due to the strange foods mentioned in the titles. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this book up, looking for a short tome from my shelf, and found that the entire tail is told through a series of letters. I thought "what a great idea to convey a story" and as you can tell completely ate this book up (although not sure I would do the same for a potato peel pie). In my opinion, this is a feel-good, hopeless/hopeful romantic, warm fuzzy, sad and poignant tale that is a totally flipped coin from the last book that I read (The Last Child). This book I give a big two-thumbs-up and hope that if any of you out there want a little cupcake for your mind, you will pick this book up and enjoy it as I did.

(By the way, I call this a cupcake for the mind as it isn't necessarily empty calories like brain-candy but it also isn't a full meal for the mind, either.)

(Also, I've never read any Fannie Flagg, although I have now included FGT on my wish list.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Book 22 - The Last Child

I know, I'm on quite a reading streak at the moment. The reason is that I did some math in my head and figured that I'm so close to getting 25 books in before the end of the year and thought "wow, that would be a really good achievement for you, ABBA." So, I'm plowing through books and not watching television, which is, I'm sure we'll all agree, probably a really good thing.

So, I just finished reading The Last Child by John Hart. Here is what is on the back cover:
Johnny Merrimon was thirteen when his twin sister disappeared. Now, one year later, she is presumed dead. His mother is devastated, his father gone, and life will never be the same. But Johnny has a map, a bike, and a plan. He's going to find his sister, even if he has to track down every dangerous character in the county - a do-or-die mission that troubles police detective Clyde Hunt. He's also been searching for Johnny's sister, and he knows to what dark places a case like this can lead. But even Hunt can't imagine how far Johnny will go to learn the truth - or what he will find when he gets there.
I have to say that I originally picked this book up last spring while in an airport bookstore and just never could get myself into the mood to read it. I now wish that I had picked it up and read it much sooner. It is a really good book and I can see them making it into a movie some time....maybe I'll start working on the screenplay myself and try to get Spielberg to make it for me (since he and I go so far back...) Okay, enough of my dreams of being a great play-write and back to the book. This is one that I highly recommend...it has everything that a good book should have: well written and thought out plot, intriguing characters, twists and turns, good and evil, peanut butter and grape soda, cats and dogs, violence, abuse, and love.

I'll be adding it to my pile of read books, just let me know who wants to borrow it from me!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010 Book 21 - Murderous Urges of Ordinary Women - A Novel

I just picked up and inhaled this book. Murderous Urges of Ordinary Women - A Novel by Lois Meltzer is fantastic!! First, the back cover:

Meet: Best friends Sandi, Janet, Ellie, and Carole - four ordinary women confronting the ordinary angst of being middle-aged and female.

"All of a sudden," Ellie says, "it's as if we've become invisible."
It makes them angry.
And that isn't all that makes them angry.
More and more the routine irritations of modern life - the tailgating trucker, the parking-spot thief - seem to fill them with this fierce, impotent rage.
Then one day, at a trendy seafood restaurant, Sandi tosses an obnoxious jerk's cellphone in the lobster tank, and nobody notices. Invisibility, the friends realize, may have its uses: A middle-aged woman might be able to get away with anything, absolutely anything....
Soon they take up Vengeance as their mid-life hobby, the way other women might take up the auto harp or learn Portuguese...

Meet: The Book Group from Hell.....


I picked up this book partially because of the title and partially because of the cover (I'm a sucker for the cover of a book). The cover has a bastardized picture of Grant Wood's painting American Gothic. This is one of my mother's favorite artists and paintings and I am therefore very susceptible to the image and the many forms that it has taken over the years.

However, once I got past the title and the cover art and started reading, I could not put this book down. It isn't a lengthy tome by any stretch of the imagination, a short 200+ pages, and it isn't very complicated, but it is a fast read and actually has a bit of "hmm, maybe we should think on this more" flavor to it. I would highly recommend this book to anybody out there and intend to put it into the hands of my mother the next time I see her.

My only concern in giving this to my mom to read is that she may just decide to introduce these ideas to her Creative Crones quilting group and then there is no telling where things might end up.

And once you've read this you'll understand that I intend to some day start my own Book Group from Hell as I approach middle age.....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Work From Home = Lose My Mind

I've had the luxury of working from home for going on three weeks now and I have to admit that I do enjoy it. I enjoy rolling out of bed and getting right to work without the fuss of showering and getting all "did up" as I would if I were to go into the office. I also take advantage of the time at home and will throw in a load of clothes or wipe down the kitchen while taking a break from staring at the computer screen. I'm definitely saving gas since my car doesn't leave the garage. And I don't have the same qualms about running to the store mid-day to grab something as I would when I worked at the office (this is mostly because I know that I won't have to spend 30 minutes when I get back trying to find a parking spot since at home I'm pretty much guaranteed that my garage will still be empty).

There are, however, some down-sides from this self-imposed hermitting. I haven't put on makeup more than twice in this three week period. I dried my hair for the first time after my shower and that had more to do with the fact that I didn't want to sit around in the "cold" with a wet head. I will go days without speaking to another soul, so I've started talking to myself more than normal....and I'm talking out loud, not just in my head....and I'm speaking to myself in a British-My Fair Lady kinda of accent. Yesterday, I was singing "The Rain in Spain..." and rolling my R's like a mad woman (the rrrrrrrrain in Spain falls mainly on the pllllaaaaiinnn...). I also have started dancing a la the ballerina hippos from Fantasia (Disney movie, not wacky American Idol singer cum reality show star).

Luckily, The Queen and I have started making it a point to get together one night a week for dinner and television catching-up. And she has been given strict instructions to contact my family if she starts seeing any truly frightening behavior that could end me up on a Bravo show like Intervention or Hoarders - Buried Alive. We want to nip that in the bud....

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 Book 20 - The Rose Labyrinth

I just finished Titania Hardie's book The Rose Labyrinth and have to say right off that I loved this book. It was hard putting it down!! Here is the back cover write up:
Nearly four hundred years ago, brilliant Elizabethan spy, astrologer, and mathematician John Dee hid evidence of his shocking ideas in three precious boxes, the only clue to their whereabouts locked in a series of intricate riddles passed down through his female descendants. Now, the ancient puzzle and a tiny silver key have unexpectedly landed in the hands of beautiful young London-based documentary producer Lucy King. Compelled by a strange connection to the mystery and to handsome doctor Alex Stafford - whose family is inextricably linked to the legacy - Lucy embarks on an international adventure to unlock the hidden treasure of the Rose Labyrinth. Each new secret she unearths from Alex's long-buried family history reveals a bizarre coincidence that draws them together. But a dangerous force is on her trail, and the closer she gets to the end of the maze, the deadlier her quest becomes.
This was reminiscent of The DaVinci Code, Foucault's Pendulum, and other books of that ilk where there is a mystery found in ancient texts, good guys who don't necessarily agree philosophically and bad guys that are crazy fanatics of some philosophy or belief system all racing to find the "truth". I read these books and wish that I was smarter to really grasp all the references to Shakespeare, Greek/Roman/Christian mythology, and so much more...luckily for me the author provides a conundrum and then provides the answers. I would highly recommend this book, even though the ending was a little predictable...getting there was fun.
Personally, I picked this book up because of the reference to the labyrinth. I am currently going through a fascination with labyrinths and walking them. In fact, they do refer to the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral as a way to enhance your reading group. I've been to Grace Cathedral when I lived out in San Francisco. So, I'm given two recommendations. 1. This book and 2. Grace Cathedral. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Book 19 - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

I just finished Rhoda Janzen's book Mennonite in a Little Black Dress while hanging out in San Francisco this past weekend. Here is what is on the back of the book:

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her seriously injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country; and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda's good-natured mother suggested she get over her heartbreak by dating her first cousin - he owned a tractor, see.)

Written with wry humor and huge personality - and tackling faith, love, family, and aging - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.


While I didn't find this as an "immensely moving memoir", I DID find it to be poignant in a couple of places and really funny throughout. Rhoda's relationship with her mother is truly funny and in a little way reminds me of my relationship with my own mom. I would highly recommend this book to any of the girls out there. It really is a fun book with a number of thought-provoking moments.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quilters Are Rule Followers

Today I am in California at the Pacific International Quilts Festival to see some amazing quilts. Since I'm functioning on ABBA-time, I arrive plenty early and have to wait for the doors to open, along with a number of other quilters. Funny thing is that instead of jockey-ing for position to get through the doors we all line up nicely in a single-file line. There is just something comforting about knowing there are people out here that still understand the simple rules of courtesy.

Of course, it'll be a totally different story when we get inside the convention center and are actually looking at the quilts. From experience I know that all these nice quilterly women/men get tunnel vision and don't realize there are others who want to look at the quilts as well or who will walk through your picture without a care.

Can hardly wait!! I always leave here with lots of motivation!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thank Goodness for ABBA-Time

Once again I find myself struggling to get to the airport. Every opportunity I had to make a wrong turn I took. Why is this? I mean, I've driven to the parking place/airport a gillion times, but the last two times that I've come out here has turned me in circles. Is in because I'm heading back to California? Is it because I didn't sleep last night and am in a bit of a fog? Who knows...
All I do know is that I'm very happy that I checked in yesterday and I always leave early...

Friday, October 8, 2010

2010 Book 18 - Her Fearful Symmetry

The latest book that I've completed is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Before I start on my review here is what is written on the back cover:
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls' aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including - perhaps - their aunt.
I found this to be a great novel. I really enjoyed it, especially at this time of year as we approach Halloween. Admittedly, there are parts that were disturbing to me and I found the way things wrapped up to be a little off-putting. But, all in all, great book and a very easy read. This is one that I would certainly recommend to others to read, if you are looking for a unique look at the relationship between sisters.

By the way, Audrey Niffenegger is the author of The Time Traveler's Wife, which I also really enjoyed even though if I recall correctly, it also wrapped up strangely and a little off-putting.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Book 17 - Full Dark House

I just finished Christopher Fowler's book Full Dark House, which is the first in a series of "Peculiar Crime Unit" books. Here is the back cover description:
A bomb rips through present-day London, tragically ending the crime-fighting partnership of Arthur Bryant and John May begun more than a half-century ago during another infamous bombing: the Blitz of World War II. Desperately searching for clues to the saboteur's identity, May finds the notes his old friend kept of their very first case and a past that may have returned...with murderous vengeance. It was an investigation that began with the grisly murder of a pretty young dancer. In a city shaken by war, a faceless killer stalked London's theater row, creating his own sinister drama. And it would take Bryant's unorthodox techniques and May's dogged police work to catch a fiend whose ability to escape detection seemed almost supernatural - a murderer who decades later may have returned to kill one of them...and won't stop until he kills the other.
Really enjoyed this book. It had interesting plot twists; some red herrings; humor.... Fun book that I would recommend. And, I'm going to invest in the other books in this series (or at least one more of them to give a second try). There were some plodding parts, but worth getting through to the twist in the end. Definitely, a book that I would recommend to anybody who wants a light-hearted mystery.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is It Weird or Just Sad...

I'm at the airport bookstore, because I function on ABBA time and got here 2.5 hours early, that I want to rearrange the shelves. I've met with this impulse in the past at Barnes & Noble and have gone so far as to actually rearrange the books. It bothers me when they have authors out of alphabetical order or they put a book face out in the middle of another author's spine out books just so the shelf is broken up a bit.

Does anybody else out there struggle with this impulse?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book 16 - Jane Austen Book Club

I actually finished reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler on the flight back from camping. Here is the back cover:
In California's Central Valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With an eye for the frailties of human behavior and an ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.
All in all, this was a pleasant book. There wasn't a lot of plot to it. It didn't require a whole lot of thought while reading it. I'd seen the last 30 minutes of the movie they made out of it so I didn't really have any great expectations (in fact, the movie seemed to be a little better than the book). Not a book that I would highly recommend, but since I paid the Barnes & Noble bargain bin price for it I'm not really discouraged over the waste of money. If anybody wants to borrow it, let me know. It is now in my Half-Priced Books stack.

Ranting....

Yes, Gentle Reader, I'm trying to make up for not blogging consistently...

A couple of things have struck me this morning that just chaps my hide and I feel the need to share.
  1. I go into the restroom and select the stall on the far end. There are three in this particular facility and the other two are perfectly fine as well...empty, clean, nothing wrong with them, I just want to use the one with the handicap bars to help steady me since I have on The Boot. Somebody comes in to the restroom and instead of selecting the first stall, which I think would be logical as that would put a buffer stall between us, she selects the one right next to me. Now why would somebody opt for that? Wasn't there a whole Seinfeld episode regarding which urinal it is acceptable to select and isn't that applicable to women's restrooms as well?
  2. If you are going to stand in the hallway and have a conversation, move out of the flow of traffic. You should both stand on one side of the hallway, not on opposite walls and then force people to walk through your conversation. Better yet, take the conversation into an empty conference room, copy room, break room, or even to the low traffic corner by the elevator...but for the most part, get the heck outta my way.
  3. There is a holder in the ice machine to put the ice scoop in. Use it! Don't just chunk the scoop back into the bin and force the next person to have to dig through all the ice to get it out. You don't know what sort of germs are now on that ice. Do you think those germs are killed off when I get the boiling water out of the coffee machine to pour over my ice rather than the water from the tap?
  4. If you make me provide you with contact information on your website just so I can get the price for a training class, don't get huffy with me when I don't take your calls or return your email. I wanted a single piece of information, I got that information, if I decide that I want to take your class then I will contact you. But, again, don't get an attitude with me...
Whew, I feel better getting these things off my chest. Perhaps I should just start blogging once a week of all the things that have me annoyed over the past 7 days.... hmmm, that would require me to remember the past 7 days and right now I'm lucky if I can remember the past 7 hours.... (wow, and I even have a label called "ranting" I need to do more of that)

2010 Camping Recap

So, this isn't actually a recap, but more of an update on my ankle that I thought I sprained on my first day of camping.

Last week after a day of trying to survive with just an ace bandage on and watching my toes turn more purple and black, I decided to break down and actually go to a podiatrist and have it all looked at. Turns out that the blood (bruising) that was pooling in my ankle and toes was caused not by a sprain but by a torqued ligament in the ankle. Luckily there was no actual break and even though it had been 5 days since the incident occurred and yes I had done lots of walking and what not on said foot, the doctor felt it was fixable without surgery.

Instead of surgery, I have been placed in a air boot/soft cast, which I have to wear all the time for at least two weeks. It has this air bladder in it that I can pump up to make it tighter and then let the air out when I'm ready to take it off for showers (and once in a while just to let my foot breathe). I don't see how people manage with real casts on their feet/legs/arms. It hasn't even been a week for me and I'm about to scream. I am, however, finally starting to be able to sleep a little better in it, as long as I don't kick my other foot. I've also realized that I can take the whole thing off in my sleep....which I probably shouldn't say because I can just hear my mother chastising me for doing that....Mom, don't read that part.

All in all, things could have been much worse, but I'm hoping that if we do go camping again next year, the group opts to "camp" in the lodge across the lake with real beds and indoor plumbing, and a dock to step onto the boats, rather than forcing me to hike through the outback to reach our destination....

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Camping - The End

Dear Diary -

Well, we've finished camping for the year. Yesterday we packed up the site (at least Jill's tent and stuff) by 8:00 AM. I know it was this time because Revielle was being played over at another camp and it played each morning at that time.

By 9:00 everybody was up and headed to the boat as we were going to go to the restaurant across the lake.

By 10:30 Jill and I were on the road headed back to her house.

By 3:00 we'd arrived, parked the boat, unloaded the truck and ready for some real showers. It was so nice to take a real shower and really get the great outdoors off of me.

We then went and grabbed dinner, rented a movie, and were in bed by 9:00.

All in all, the camping trip had its fun moments, but there was a spark of adventure that was missing. I think this might be the end of the camping...but who knows...right?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010 Camping - Night 3

Dear Diary -

I finally got a shower this evening after being on the lake all day. My ankle is swollen and purple, so people have been waiting on me and insisting that I sit and rest. I did get an ACE bandage at lunch, and have it wrapped now, which helps.

Nothing too exciting happened today. I am crazy tired and definitely ready for wrapping things up tomorrow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

2010 Camping - Night 2

Dear Diary -
Crawling into bed at the end of the first full day of camp and I'm exhausted!!

It isn't quite as cold tonight, but I'm still wrapped up like a stuffed burrito.

First thing this morning, Sam and I walked the short distance from the camp site to the lake. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, because I'm a big clutz, I managed to fall down as I was stepping over a log and sprained my ankle and scraped up my leg pretty bad. Sam helped me get back to camp and we iced down my foot, which I think alleviated some swelling, but the pain is pretty bad. Ah well.
We decided to get the boat on the lake after breakfast. Initially I wasn't going to go because of my foot, but am glad I decided to go. While I felt useless at times the cold water (and alcohol) helped with the foot pain.
All in all it was a pretty good day although I'm not even mentioning the dead battery and the broken canopy on the boat.
Tomorrow I'm going to try and drink more water and less champagne.

Friday, September 10, 2010

2010 Camping - Night One

Dear Diary -
Well, I am back at Bass Lake camping with my friends. It is, as always, beautiful up here. However, last nigh it was COLD...but let's not start there.
The trip started off doomed as I was going to the airport and got stuck in traffic and then lost trying to find the parking place. I know, I know I've parked there a gagillion times, but... Well, I managed to get to the airport with time to spare because even though I was running behind, I was still working on ABBA time, which is always early.
Flight was good, although it seemed to take forever!! Sam pulled up to the curb just as I stepped out of the building and we were off.
When we got up to the camp site Jill had already set most everything up, so I helped Sam get her tent done and then blew up my air mattresses and made my bed.
We then gathered around the fire and had dinner. Thank God for the fire because it got down into the 40s at least last night (it is currenly 51 as I write this). I finally reach my tiredness point and decide it is time for bed.
I go into the tent and find that one of my matresses has gone flat. Luckily the other one still has some air so I won't be directly on the grounds. I change into my sleeping gear (long stretchy pants, wife beater tank, long sleeve tee, fleece sweatshirt and eventually socks). I crawl into bed and stare at the stars, which I can easily see because there is no cover to the top of the tent. I can't sleep because I'm too cold and I have to pee, again. So, I get up go pee, borrow a blanket from Sam, which I end up wrapping around my head to keep in the warmth wishing I had my stocking cap. I watch the fire die down and then when I start hearing more and more night creatures I go crawl back in bed where I wrap blanket around head, wrap fleece blanket around body, comforter on to top on that and give into the hyperthermia...
Luckily I woke up again to write this and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day, all be it, another chilly one. Don't know how much time I'll actually spend on the water...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010 Book 22 - The Last Child

I know, I'm on quite a reading streak at the moment. The reason is that I did some math in my head and figured that I'm so close to getting 25 books in before the end of the year and thought "wow, that would be a really good achievement for you, ABBA." So, I'm plowing through books and not watching television, which is, I'm sure we'll all agree, probably a really good thing.


So, I just finished reading this The Last Child by John Hart. Here is what is on the back cover:
Johnny Merrimon was thirteen when his twin sister disappeared. Now, one year later, she is presumed dead. His mother is devastated, his father gone, and life will never be the same. But Johnny has a map, a bike, and a plan. He's going to find his sister, even if he has to track down every dangerous character in the county - a do-or-die mission that troubles police detective Clyde Hunt. He's also been searching for Johnny's sister, and he knows to what dark places a case like this can lead. But even Hunt can't imagine how far Johnny will go to learn the truth - or what he will find when he gets there.
I have to say that I originally picked this book up last spring while in an airport bookstore and just never could get myself into the mood to read it. I now wish that I had picked it up and read it much sooner. It is a really good book and I can see them making it into a movie at some time....maybe I'll start work on the screenplay myself and try to get Spielberg to make it for me (since he and I go so far back...). Okay, enough of my dreams of being a great play-write and back to the book. This is one that I highly recommend it has everything that a good book should have: well written and thought out plot, intriguing characters, twists and turns, good and evil, peanut butter and grape soda, cats and dogs, violence, abuse, and love.


I'll be adding it to my pile of read books, just let me know who wants to borrow it from me!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Book 15 - Fool

I recently finished Christopher Moore's book Fool. As I've mentioned before, I am a big fan of Christopher Moore and have read everything he has put out (except for his latest one as I'm waiting for it to be in paperback). Here is the back cover write up of this book:

"This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spaking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank."

Verily speaks Christopher Moore, much-beloved scrivener and peerless literary jester, who hath writteneth much that is of grand wit and belly-busting mirth, including such laureled bestsellers of the Times of Olde Newe Yorke as Lamb, A Dirty Job, and You Suck: A Love Story. Now he takes on no less than the legendary Bard himself (with the utmost humility and respect) in a twisted and insanely funny tale of a moronic monarch and his deceitful daughters - a rousing story of plots, subplots, counterplots, betrayals, war, revenge, bared bosoms, unbridled lust...and a ghost (there's always a bloody ghost), as seen through the eyes of a man wearing a codpiece and bells on his head.


Now, as I've stated, I'm a huge fan of Christopher Moore. This offering, however, sorely missed its mark with me. It did not draw me in. I didn't like the characters (of course I didn't like the characters in Shakespeare's play either). The writing wasn't as witty and engaging as previous books. I have to agree with Lois when she commented on a precious Christopher Moore book that I reviewed here. This is NOT a book that I would recommend to MY gentle readers.

How Relaxing

Yesterday I spent a wonderful hour getting an Infra-red Bodywrap. I had a Groupon coupon for this, otherwise I probably would not have done this. I was hoping it would just melt away the flab, that wish wasn't quite met. It did however, get rid of some of my puffiness and was really, really relaxing.

Basically I was wrapped in a giant heating pad for an hour. Nice thing was that I got a little nap in, and it totally helped to relax the muscles in my lower back which have been tight as a drum. Bad thing was that when there was about 15 minutes left, I had to go to the bathroom (which woke me up from my nap). It reminded me of my first massage that I ever had where I couldn't relax at all because I had to go potty the whole time.

As a way to relax and get rid of some puffiness, I will definitely do this again. Supposedly, it helps get toxins and what not out of the system as well...we'll see, I still feel a bit toxic, but that may just be who I am.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad -

You are the best father a girl could want and I wish you a very happy 70th birthday.

You have given me so much and taught me so much and helped to shape the person that I am today. I thank you for that.

Thank you for protecting me when I needed it, pushing me when you had to, being stern and kind and honest and funny and challenging and most of all for loving me.

I love you.
Andrea

Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Book 14 - The Late, Lamented Molly Marx

It has been awhile since I've actually finished a book. I've started about 5 books, but haven't managed to get through any of them...until now. This latest book The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow was entertaining and light and pretty much empty calories for the brain, but I admit I liked it. Here is what is on the back of the book:
The circumstances of Molly Marx's death may be suspicious, but she hasn't lost her sense of humor. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly discovers that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and of course her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As the police question Molly's circle of intimates about the circumstances of her death, Molly relives the years and days that led up to her sudden end - and takes responsibility for her choices in life.
Exploring the bonds of motherhood, marriage, and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving, and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story, and all heart.
I would take this book to the beach or the pool as a total relaxer book. Fun but that is about it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

Who else has fond memories of the 80s....
  • Big hair
  • Members Only jackets
  • Florescent sweaters with matching striped shirts
  • Baggy jeans with paper bag waists
  • Swatch watches
Okay, so some of these fashion memories can stay in the distant past but it looks like one, the Swatch, is coming back.

If I remember correctly, I had 3 such watches that I would wear all at the same time. I remember buying them on my trip with my high school French Club to Europe. What a great trip and something that I really need to do again....maybe next year....I wonder if I'll be able to get Swatches duty free again.....

Monday, August 9, 2010

I've Been This Way Forever

According to a study, our personalities are set for life when we are children (Personality Set for Life by 1st Grade). I'm not really surprised because I really do feel the same way I did when I was 6 about a lot of things. For example:
  1. I almost failed 1st Grade because I didn't want to do the boring work. My mom had to sit me down and every night go through pages and pages of mimeographed worksheets (months of work smushed down into about 3 weeks time) so that I could catch up and move onto the next year. I still feel that way. I hate doing the boring, mundane work....I like a challenge at the office.
  2. When I would get upset as a child, I would totally tear up my room; have a hissy fit; hit things; scream and cry and then just crumple into a heap on the floor and fall asleep. I would then be faced with having to clean up the mess that I just made. I still throw fits and scream, cry, and hit things...although now most of it is all in my head, so there is less mess that I have to clean up.
  3. As a child, I had an incredibly vivid imagination and had grandiose plans for my life...I mean, at one point I wanted to be Pope and would actually "perform" mass using our piano bench, graham crackers, and grape juice. I would pretend that I owned a restaurant, but instead of having 'tables' set up and serve my stuffed animals, I remember sitting down with my mom's cookbooks and designing the menus. Today, while I have no grand plans of ruling the Catholic world or becoming the next Gordon Ramsay, I do still dream about becoming a great artist and quilt business woman, and have planned out how I can streamline making quilts so that that it would actually be profitable (now I just need to implement).
  4. As a kid, I loved to read and would rather do my own reading than participate in another boring class (see item #1) and actually had another incident in 2nd grade when I was reading in class rather than paying attention to the material in class. Today, I have had to keep myself from bringing a book to the office as I KNOW that I would pick that up and read a couple of chapters rather than sit in a conference call that doesn't really challenge my mind.
I'm sure there are lots and lots of other examples of who I was at age 6 is still who I am today...a smart, goofy, shy, loving, emotional, dreamer of a girl.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Amazing....

July was a bad month....

I have to admit that in the month of July I REALLY slacked off on getting to the gym and getting regular workouts in. Of course with that came the slippery slope into junk food hell and total self despair (okay, maybe not quite that bleak, but you get the picture).

August is a new month..... And with a new month comes new dedication.
I decided to return to the annual camping trip in California and with that I have to pull myself together in the next 30 days so that I don't completely scare the fishes. Therefore, I'm back in the gym on a regular basis. In fact, I've been every day this month.
What is amazing is now that I'm back in the workout frame of mind, my work frame of mind has greatly improved. I am more focused and am actually getting things marked off of my to do list on a regular basis, rather than just moving them to the next day's to do list. I'm sure the exercise endorphins aren't working quite that fast, I mean three days of physical activity doesn't move mountains, but I really think that they are helping.
Now, if I could just find a swimsuit (I know nothing like waiting until the END of summer to go suit shopping) I'd be all set...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Choir - "Guilty Pleasure"

I have started watching a great show on BBC America. It is called The Choir. It is about a choir director who takes a group of kids from a blue collar high school and teach them how to work together and become a classical singing choir. It is really touching and I have to admit that I find myself laughing and crying while watching this. If you want a reality show (documentary), with a little substance I would recommend this.

In fact, I've found that there are a number of shows on BBC America that I've started watching and really enjoy such as:


All of these shows bring me joy...sadly, I don't really need to get caught up in watching more television...this whole DVR is killing me because this doesn't even include all of the American television that I also watch!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Broken Foot = Broken Heart

Okay, so, it turns out the toe isn't actually broken (see Death Wish). I did go to the podiatrist today and learned that while I did probably sprain it, it ain't broke. I did mush the cartilage between the joints and bruised the bone, which is what is causing the swelling and pain to continue. The cure is to basically suck it up and deal...well not quite but close. I shouldn't wear shoes that put any pressure on my toe. I'm not to go barefoot nor am I to wear flip-flops. I have been told to wear stiff-soled shoes, preferably athletic shoes. This means I cannot wear ANY of my favorite fun, cute, hot shoes for at least a month...this breaks my heart.

The "good" thing....I'll be rocking the dork look at the office for the next month while I wear sexy New Balance with work clothes, heck maybe I'll pull out the totally dorkiness and wear them with skirts.

Tomorrow I go to the eye doctor for the first time in a decade, can only wait to find out when I'll be rockin' the glasses....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Couple of Things

I don't really have much to talk about these days. Things in my life are pretty calm and relaxing, none too exciting. And, I'm okay with that.

I am going today to go buy a grill for Casa ABBA. I'm getting this for a couple of reasons.
  1. It is the thing you do when you have a backyard...you grill.
  2. My family is coming over to see the place and celebrate August birthdays (Dad and BIL).
  3. I'm sick and tired of eating frozen dinners and it cooking indoors heats the house up way too much, so I figure I'll get a grill and learn to cook with fire....cook up a whole bunch of chicken on Sunday afternoon and be set for meals for the week.
The oxymoron part of this whole idea is that I have a HUGE fear of fire. I guess you could say I am Pyrophobic (thank you Wikipedea). Over the years, though I have learned to conquer this fear. I mean, I'm living with a gas stove now, which means whenever I want to scramble an egg, I gotta create a flame. I've come to appreciate candles being lit, although I always make a couple of laps around the house before I leave or go to bed just to make certain that they are all blown out and yes, I do check them multiple times (I guess that is the OCD in me).

So, aside from getting a grill and learning how to actually cook on it there really isn't much excitement in my life....and I'm okay with that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stay-cation Pictures

So, I guess it is time to finally post pictures of the things that I worked on during my stay-cation a couple of weeks ago.

First, Jane's wedding present. I know it is a little late, but I was able to give it to her in person last night when she had dinner last night at Casa ABBA.


Second, cute little black and white quilt with its own added little touches.

Third, a fun little girl's quilt. I bought this pattern probably 10+ years ago and actually made the top 7 years ago. This is going to one of my God-Children. When I saw this pattern I immediately thought of my friend from college and knew that even though at the time she wasn't married or even seeing anybody, that she would someday have a little girl who would be the perfect recipient for this... lo and behold that little girl is now going into fourth grade.
Fourth, lastly I pieced this quilt. It has now been added to my stack of quilts that need to be quilted, bound, and finished.
Ah, if I could do this all the time, I would be so happy. Anybody want a quilt?!?

Oh yeah, a great big thank you to The Queen for holding these quilts up while I took pictures.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Realization....

I realized yesterday that, in order to keep from jumping off the roof of my office building out of frustration, I eat all day long. Yes, I said ALL DAY. (Actually, it is more like 3/4 of the day.) Here is what it looks like:

4:00 AM - Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich before workout
6:15 AM - Glass of chocolate milk post workout
8:30 AM - Granola or Cereal bar
11:30 AM - Frozen entree
12:30 PM - Yogurt
1:00 PM - Carrots and hummus
2:00 PM - Cherries
3:00 PM - Apple and String Cheese
4:00 PM - Handful of nuts

If my carpool buddy hasn't been able to escape her duties yet by about 4:30 I go stand in front of the snack machine and just think about what I'd like to have. Mind you, I don't take any money with me to avoid the actual purchase of those Grandma's Cookies or that Mrs. Baird's Cherry Pie.

7:30 PM - Popcorn or a frozen dinner or scrambled eggs....pretty much anything that is hanging out in my kitchen

Okay, so maybe I'm not eating all day, but definitely filling up my afternoon with some great bicep curls getting all that food from the little Ziploc baggies to my mouth.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Updates

There are a couple of things that I need to update you all on.

Furniture for Casa ABBA - After my rant yesterday, I received a phone call in the afternoon and the rest of my bedroom furniture is to be delivered next Wednesday.

Broken Toe issues - So, I don't actually think my toe is broken because I am able to wiggle it. It started out with just a little red dot, but by the next morning there was a thick red line going down the length of the toe and purple encircling it (although the tip was still pink and normal looking). I also developed some swelling and a greenish/blueish bruise in the top quadrant of my foot. I ended up NOT putting shoes on all last week and this week have been suffering through wearing some of the ugliest loafers that I have, but they are comfortable and supportive of the whole foot. I am having a little issue because I finally went in yesterday to work out with my trainer and while I obviously wasn't lifting weights with my little toe, we were doing all lower body which meant a lot of pushing through my feet and today my foot is swollen and sore again. Ah well, hopefully with more icing it will improve.

Accomplishments from stay-cation - I had a great stay-cation. I completed 3 quilts (two just needed binding, one needed quilting and binding) and now they just need to be shipped off to their new owners. I quilted another one that I'll bind at some later time. I pieced another quilt and started embellishing a quilt that I made the base of over Christmas. I also got a massage, got caught up on a bunch of movies that I had recorded and all in all relaxed. It rained every day of my time off, which sorta put a damper on any plans of going to the pool, but in all honesty it didn't really break my heart to not go lay out. I know I still owe pictures of what I've accomplished, but I want to at least get them in the mail...

I think that is about it. I can't really think of anything else that I owe an update on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Furniture Frustrations

As I'm sure you are aware, I'm in the process of furnishing my new abode. While, I already had many pieces there were some that I needed to acquire:
  • sofa
  • television console
  • bedroom suit
In April, I made a concerted effort and found the bedroom suit and sofa. The sofa and two of the five pieces of the bedroom suit arrived within a week. The remaining pieces were on back order and I was told that it would be mid-July before they would arrive. I'm thinking "okay, I can work with that." As of yesterday, it was 12 weeks AND pretty close to being mid-July. so, I call my salesperson and ask when the rest will be arriving. She has no idea, the computer still just says "mid-July". I'm annoyed, but I'm not getting snippy yet because the receipt does say that it could take up to 15 weeks for delivery. Believe you me, though, come July 27 if I haven't heard anything, I'll put on my angry face and call again....not that I'll actually open up that can of whup ass that I'd like to open....maybe I'll set the Queen to instructing this person on how to lean on getting stuff delivered.

Now, my REAL frustration was all around my television console. I went to a different store to find that piece. I had something fairly specific in mind, well, I had pretty clear dimensions that would work in the space and what would work with the furniture that I already have (an eclectic mix of restored antiques and made by my dad or granddad). I found a piece that I thought fit the bill, ordered it, paid for it and left after being told that the computer says it is probably already in process and should be here in about 3 weeks. That was a month ago. I came into the office on Monday and had 2 voice mails from my salesperson telling me that the style has been discontinued and they will not be able to accommodate me. I'll need to come back in a made another selection.....Um, if it was being discontinued why the {BLEEP} was it on the sales floor and looking all available? I did go back to the store yesterday afternoon and picked out a new one, that I think might actually work a little better, but still. Luckily, they have 18 in stock and will be delivering it to me on Saturday.

With the delivery of the console, my "public" space will pretty much be taken care of and I'll feel okay with having people over. Now, if I could only get my bedroom stuff here....

Monday, July 12, 2010

Books on Tape

I have found that listening to books on tape is a great way for me to multi-task while I'm sewing. This past week I managed to get through a lot of quilting (pictures to come soon) by listening to Steig Larsson books.

The first in the series is Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In this book, we are first introduced to the characters. Here is the write up:
Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title Men Who Hate Women), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail libeling a shady businessman, and the multi-pierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable super hacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption - at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman.
That one I "read" earlier in the year when I was still living at the castle. Great book, at first a little slow, but once you get into it it is hard to put down.

This only enticed me to download the next in the series to keep me "company" while I worked this past week. Here is the write up on the second in the series:
Fans of the intelligent page-turners will be more than satisfied by Larssons' second thriller, even though it falls short of the high standard set by its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and punk hacker savant Lisbeth Salander. A few weeks before Dag Svensson, a freelance journalist, plans to publish a story that exposes important people involved in Sweden's sex trafficking business based on research conducted by his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, a criminologist and gender studies scholar, the couple are shot to death in their Stockholm apartment. Salander, who has a history of violent tendencies, becomes the prime suspect after the police find her fingerprints on the murder weapon. While Blomkvist strives to clear Salander of the crime, some far-fetched twists help ensure her survival. Powerful prose and intriguing lead characters will carry most readers along.
This is a great second in the series and really kept me intrigued during my work. Larsson is really good at writing about despicable men and their stupidity. I won't spoil any of the book, but can I just say that the way he has some of the men in these books written really, really angers me because I know that there are people out there that really do think this way.

I've now downloaded the third in the series:
The exhilarating conclusion to bestseller Larsson's Millennium trilogy (after The Girl who Played with Fire) finds Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant computer hacker who was shot in the head in the final pages of Fire, alive, though still the prime suspect in three murders in Stockholm. While she convalesces under armed guard, journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to unravel the decades-old cover up surrounding the man who shot Salander: her father, Alexander Zalachenko, a Soviet intelligence defector and longtime secret asset to Sapo, Sweden's security police. Estranged throughout Fire, Blomkvist and Salander communicate primarily online, but their lack of physical interaction in no way diminishes the intensity of their unconventional relationship.

I've just started "reading" this one and it already has me hooked.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Massage Thoughts

I had a wonderful massage yesterday (I do love a good "rub down"). I always seem to the same thoughts whenever I have a massage:
  • What would happen if you could sneak a little Metallica in the middle of all the Vivaldi, whale songs, and Andean pan flute music.
  • Oh man, my feet are so dry, I'm so sorry massage dude.
  • If I were ever in a situation where people started eating one another for survival, I would probably be one of the first ones they'd kill. I mean, come on, I have nice large muscles (thanks inner athlete) but with some lovely marbling (thanks Ben and Jerry).
  • Why am I so interested in cannibalism or rather why people would be driven to that.
  • I wonder what sort of weird dreams I would have...I mean if a good steak gives me vivid dreams...
  • I'm bored now.
  • I think they've played this song before....Metallica would be great right now.
  • Please don't try and talk to me...I don't want to have to concentrate on what you are saying nor do I want to have to form words.
And the thoughts tend to spiral through this vein for the extent of the massage. Sometimes I throw in a little something about tenderizing the meat, but that covers things.

Am I complete wackjob?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Death Wish

I think my little toe has a death wish.

Last night I managed to stub the poop out of it and as I look at it this morning it is a lovely purple band encircling it right where it joins the rest of the foot. I'm trying to get up the courage to try and put it into a pair of shoes and go to the gym for my morning workout. (On the other hand, maybe I should rest today and go back to sleep instead of the gym...)

This is the same toe that got so blistered (which I alluded to in Emergency Kit) that I actually ended up losing the nail. It is also one that I ended up breaking many years ago and learned all about buddy taping since it is a little difficult to put a cast on a pinky toe. (The breaking of it was caused by stubbing it as well....hmmm).

This is also the toe that I threaten to have surgically removed so that I can wear cute pointy-toe shoes, too bad I haven't done that yet.

Well, hopefully, this little piggy will shape up soon as I am not spending this week nursing a toe back to health.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stay-cation Here I Come

I am only a few hours away from a week long stay-cation. When people ask me what my plans are for my vacation or where I'm going I tell them "nothing and nowhere"; which technically isn't true. When my Mom came to visit over Memorial Day weekend, she helped me organize my quilting studio, among other things. In the process of doing this we sat down and made a list of all the quilt projects that are in some state of completion. These included
  • Quilt tops that are completed
  • Quilted quilts that need binding or some other finishing touch
  • Quilt squares that need to be made into finished products
  • Kits that have been purchased but need to be tackled
The list didn't include ALL the other ideas that I have and want to do. But it did come up to 52 quilt projects that need to be tackled.

We also listed out the remaining work that each quilt requires, and this is when I should have taken the Queen up on her offer to incorporate it all into a lovely spreadsheet...might still have to do that or maybe a database....sorry, got side-tracked.

So, back to my stay-cation. I have no intention of completing all of these projects in the next week (heck, I don't plan on completing them all in the next year), but I am going to really tackle getting as much done as I possibly can (between the naps and the massage that I've scheduled and the reading).

Therefore, I guess I'm not going to be doing "nothing". I guess I'm going to be working, a lot, but it'll hopefully be work that I'll enjoy.

And, yes, I'll post pictures as I complete things.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Car Experience

The Queen and I had the privilege of learning something new about my car yesterday. For those of you who don't recall, a couple of years ago we got to experience changing a flat (see Book Your Next Adventure at the House of Dodds). Yesterday it was the opportunity to learn how to jump a dead battery....

Normally, the Queen and I carpool together, but that didn't happen yesterday and it was probably a good thing. I wrapped my day up with a text to her saying "I'll pick you up in the morning at 7, I'm outta here" (or something of that nature). I knew that she was still at the office as she had things to take care of.

I head out to my car and using the remote, I unlock the doors. I get in, lock the doors, put the key in the ignition, turn and get.....silence. No clicking, no nothing. I think "hmm, this is odd. Lights are off. Car is in park. I wonder what is going on." So, I turn the key again and still nothing. I immediately grab my phone and text The Queen. Here is the exchange:

ABBA "What time are you leaving because my car is dead..."
Queen "Oh no! in just a minute."
ABBA "Can you come to the garage?"
Queen "Want a ride or what do you need?"
ABBA "I don't know. I think maybe a jump..."
Queen "You have cables?"
ABBA "I'll need to get it to the garage because it is really dead... I can't even get the locks to work"

I have to manually unlock the door and climb over the back seat to dig my jumper cables out of the back. I also pop the hood and look pitiful while waiting for The Queen to drive around. (I even try and call a couple of the guys that I work with but only get their voice mails.) Soon, the Queen arrives and she calls the King so that we have instructions on how to apply the cables. We both know that if you do it wrong then you could blow up the battery or something, and we really didn't want that to occur. We get the cables on, and she starts her car. About this time a guy starts walking in our direction. (Mind you, there have been any number of folks leaving the office walking right past us in the parking garage, completely ignoring us. In fact there was one guy parked next to me before the Queen showed up who got in his car and drove off as I'm standing there with my hood up, cables in hand....really, dude? You can't even offer to see if I need some assistance? What happened to Southern chivalry?)

The guy that did come offer to help was very nice. He confirmed that we did have the cables on correctly, made a comment about the corrosion that was on my battery, and said that it should be okay to try and start my car. After a couple little sputters, she did come back to life. He was nice enough to get a volt reader out of his truck to confirm that it was just the battery and that I didn't need to get a new alternator or anything like that.

The Queen followed me to the Goodyear place to make certain that I got there okay. They replaced my battery and thus far it seems to be good to go. However, there are a couple of things that are a little strange:
  • I stopped to fill up with gas after replacing the battery. I had just under 1/4 of a tank. It is a 14 gallon tank. The gas light typically comes on at about the 12 gallon mark, and it hadn't come on yet. However, when I was filling it up the auto-shutoff thing on the pump never did kick in and I finally stopped it at about 13.5 gallons.
  • My radio requires some code be put in before it will work again, so I'm in search of this "code" and the instructions for deactivating the anti-theft device.
  • My driver's window used to go all the way down or up with a push of the button (meaning I didn't have to actually hold the button) that isn't working anymore.
  • Maybe it is time to start thinking about a new car....
Some other interesting little tid bits:
I don't think I've ever had that battery replaced, which means that it lasted for a good 9 years.
I recently purchased a new form of jumper cable that you just plug into what used to be the cigarette lighter and is now the car outlet of both cars and jump the battery that way instead of with cables....however, that is still sitting in a box on my dresser.

I wonder what will be next to go on my baby.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules

As many of you are probably aware, I'm a rule follower....at least most of the time. Case in point:

Yesterday afternoon I did my duty and I donated blood. Yes, it was the first time that I have done this and it turns out that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be and I did survive. While I was in the resting spot eating some cookies before I went back to the office, I decided to actually read the Post Donation Instructions:

  1. Keep your arm at rest, drink fluids, and eat snacks while you are resting. Make sure you feel fine before leaving the donation site.
  2. Leave the bandage on for 4 hours. If the needle site bleeds, apply firm pressure over the bandage and raise your arm for 5 -10 minutes.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids during the next 24 hours to replace lost fluids, and make your next meal a hearty one.
  4. Do not smoke for 30 minutes.
  5. Avoid alcoholic beverages for 24 hours.
  6. If you feel dizzy, sit down and lower your head, or lie down keeping your head lower than the rest of your body. Do not drive until your dizziness subsides.
  7. If dizziness or bleeding persists or if you have problems, call 1-877-xxx-xxxx.
  8. Avoid strenuous lifting and/or pulling with your donor arm for 24 hours.
  9. Occasionally a bruise may develop. {Lots of words that I don't want to retype but talks about applying ice packs.}
  10. We recommend that you wait 12 hours before operating heavy machinery, driving buses or cabs, climbing scaffolds or ladders, scuba diving, sky diving or lifting weights, and 72 hours before working as a member of a flight crew.
My thoughts while reading:
  1. I can do this. Would it be bad if I grabbed another package of cookies?
  2. Not a problem. I can leave this puppy on all night...shoot it is starting to itch....
  3. I really wish I had grabbed a bottle of water before I sat down. These cookies are really dry....
  4. Not a problem. If I were to smoke, it would take me at least that long to find somebody to bum one off of and then to walk off campus...heck, not even worth me considering this one.
  5. Hmmm, I'm supposed to meet The Queen at Chuy's after work, I think I can be strong and not drink (BWAHAHAHA....that did not work.)
  6. Not really dizzy so much as nauseous....ah well, I can kill a couple of minutes with my head on my desk....ahhhh, much better.
  7. Nope, no problems, don't need to call.
  8. Oh shoot, I'm supposed to work out with my trainer in the morning...better text him and tell him I can't life weights so that he can rework the workout (which he did and killed me with a total lower body workout).
  9. Woo Hoo!! No bruise....can barely even tell I was poked.
  10. Dang it, there go my big plans for the evening to go sky diving and then scuba diving. Does driving a carpool equate to driving a cab....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bathroom Habits

I was thinking about this as I was getting ready this morning and of course knew that I needed to share it with the whole world....

When do you close the door to the bathroom?

I admit that in my own space (and I consider my space to be my home, obviously, and hotel rooms where I'm staying by myself) I almost always leave the bathroom door open. The only time I close it is when I'm showering (don't really know why I do that) or when I have company over.

However, when I am visiting somebody else's space, I ALWAYS close the door...even when I know that I'm the only person in the house. For example, when I recently house sat at the Castle, I would always close the door (of course that may have been more to keep the dogs out than anything else) but even when I was living at the Castle, I would always close the door, even when I was alone. Not only would I close the bathroom door, but I would also always go up to the bathroom in my room and close the door to my room as well.

Okay, thought I'd share....

Monday, June 14, 2010

One Week of Bad Decisions....

I went out of town last week for business and was suckered into eating out and having a drink or two (or three or four). I "tried" to make some good decisions like opting for a salad one day at lunch rather than a hamburger, but for the most part it was down hill. And, yes, I paid for it.
  1. I put 3 pounds back on.
  2. I felt gross, including rampant heartburn, lethargy, bloating, and all those other lovely bodily functions that come with poor eating
  3. My trainer kicked my ass after not seeing him for a week and a half.
I'm too old to be partying like a rock star...even if I didn't go quite that far. We ate at some very nice restaurants and I have to admit the food was VERY good....but the overall effect was plain and simple "blech" for me.

It really is amazing how one week of bad decisions can wipe out a months' worth of really hard work. Needless to say, I'm back at it. I was back in the gym yesterday working with the trainer, who thought it would be fun just to throw in some extra exercises since "we had some extra time". And then I was back up there at 4:30 this morning getting my cardio in. I gotta get back to pushing myself hard if I'm going to make my goals and since I started watching Losing It with Jillian Michaels, I figure I'm in much better condition than some of those folks...if they can do it, I sure as hell can....I only wonder who I can get to scream at me....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

For Jane

You shouldn't have mentioned your love...

At the National Museum of Nature and History (Smithsonian)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2010 Book 13 - Prodigal Summer

I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's book Prodigal Summer. Here is the back flap write-up:
Barbara Kingsolver's fifth novel is a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel's intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.

This was a GREAT book. It got me thinking about nature and humans and the interconnections between the two. It definitely hit a chord with me and made me want to get back to the basics of life and live clean and enjoy the simple things in the world like the sound of rain on the roof and birds singing in the trees.

I want to vacation in the mountains now....

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Little High Strung - Part 2

To add to the concern that I have going for the world at large and something that is being added to my overall stress and jumpiness levels, yesterday as The Queen and I were driving home we saw this little boy (probably 3 or 4) walking down the middle of a street headed towards a VERY busy street with absolutely no adult in site. I, of course, totally freak out and make The Queen turn at the next street and circle back so that we can grab the little tyke. Luckily, by the time we got there a whole slew of neighbors had seen him as well and were out in the street getting him and walking him back to where his home was, we assume. Now tell me...who would let their little kid out of the house in this day and age?!?

40-something years ago when my sister and her best friend at the time, Charles, decided to do something very similar, my Mom and his mom completely freaked and went searching all over the neighborhood (or at least that is the story that I heard). But there wasn't quite the same worry as they were within a small family neighborhood and cars didn't go whipping around quite like they do now a days.

On another note, I haven't gotten my mail yet, however, I did douse the mailbox (and hopefully, the black widow) with a healthy amount of bug spray last night. I'm planning on getting the mail this evening while wearing my long rubber gloves and then throwing all the mail into the street and stomping all over it...just to be sure she's no longer with us.

I did dream about her last night but I think the fact that I watched So You Think You Can Dance right before going to bed the black widow in my dream turned into a dancer who then sorta melted away and left nothing but a costume on the ground that sorta looked like a lady bug...oh and there were random kids just sorta wandering around.

Isn't it amazing how the sub-conscious works?