Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

Last week I wrote about the first part of our trip to France. Today I'd like to share some cool "architectural" type photos from our second stop in France - Paris!!! But first, some background information. In 7th grade I began taking French in school and I continued right through my first year of college. (And I can barely speak it!). Anyway, in all those years of learning about the French language and culture I developed a real desire to see all of the wonderful places, monuments, cathedrals and chateaux that I had heard and read so much about. It was a dream come true for me to finally get to see Paris. And I was not disappointed. One day we ventured to the Place de la Concorde and looked down the Champs Elysees and there was the Arc de Triomphe at the other end of this beautiful, wide, tree-lined street. I just HAD to walk that street. Everyone was tired, but I couldn't be dissuaded. During the entire walk (and it was much farther than it looked), I didn't even really notice the shops and cafes I was passing, because I kept saying over and over in my head, "Somebody pinch me! I am walking down the Champs Elysees!". I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way. (Meanwhile my kids were complaining and my husband was kindly indulging this fantasy of mine). When we finally reached the Arc de Triomphe, I realized that it is possible to go inside and climb to the top! And I do mean CLIMB! No elevator. Of course, we HAD to do it. All 298 steps (I counted). Many of them spiral. It was worth the effort. It's a memory I will never forget. (Neither will my kids). Here is a picture from the very top of the spiral staircase.

No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Once again, I was awestruck and dumbfounded that I was actually at the Eiffel Tower! And, of course, I HAD to go to the top. There was an elevator this time (much to my kids relief). My daughter, Katie, who has a great eye for photography took these next few pictures of the Eiffel Tower from unusual angles. I really love them.

When we got to the top, we enjoyed the view looking out over Paris. Imagine our surprise when we saw this in the grass of a park that is adjacent to the Eiffel Tower:

I would like to think that some romantic "Romeo", wore this heart into the grass so that he would take his "Juliet" to the top of the Eiffel Tower and propose to her. I really hope that's what happened. How could any girl say anything but YES after a gesture like that? We were all a little "squealy" when we saw that. (Well, the girls and I were. But, I think deep down Geoff was touched too. He's a big romantic at heart).

And here we are at the top of the Tower with Paris laid out behind us. Ah, Paris! The city of LOVE! I hope I get to go back some day!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

TV Quick Quips

And then there was one. What a sad and sorry TV Quick Quips this is. This past week was the last episode of the last of my favorite shows for the season. *sniff* It's always nice to have a slower pace in the summer, but I do miss my favorite shows.


The Tudors - OK, I know I've said this for the past two episodes of The Tudors, but I'm not liking the Duke of Suffolk's new cruel and conniving persona. And I can't really quite figure out where it's coming from. Purposefully getting the executioner drunk before Cromwell's execution so that it was an absolute butchering was just the last straw for me. I no longer have any sympathy for him. As a matter of fact, there are very few redeeming or sympathetic characters left on the show. Princess Mary is somewhat sympathetic, but her zealousness is starting to be apparent (of course, I know how she behaves when she finally takes the thrown). Anyway, I'm looking forward to next season. Can't wait to see how they portray the rest of the story and I hope it won't be the last season. Of course even after Henry dies, I suppose they can continue through Elizabeth's reign. Afterall, she is the last of the Tudor line. I hope that is the case. I guess we'll find out next season. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

I am on a book roll! On Wednesday night my library book club, Books on Main, met to discuss Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Mudbound is one of the books being considered by RARI for 2010. When it comes time to discuss and vote for books, I am going to give this one high marks. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That is 3 books in a row that I have really, really, really liked. That is unprecedented! Unheard of! Amazing! A book roll! Now that I've said all that I've probably jinxed myself and won't read another great book for the next 6 months. (Gosh, I hope not.)

Mudbound takes place in rural Mississippi in 1946. It tells the story of two families, one white and one black, who are trying to eek out an existence on a hardscrabble farm. The story centers around two young men, Ronsel and Jamie, two soldiers returning to the farm from the war overseas. While serving in Germany, Ronsel was treated as an equal. There was no distinction between the races, even among the German people that he encountered while on leave. This is quite a shock to him, but he soon becomes accustomed to it and he states, "[f]irst time in my life I ever felt like a man first and a black man second." However, it's quite a different story when he returns to rural Mississippi. His reentry into the Jim Crow south is not a smooth one. Jamie also struggles upon his return. Like many returning soldiers he can not escape the horrors of the war. Jamie and Ronsel develop a fragile friendship based on their experiences and this friendship causes ripples of shock, not only through their families, but more ominously throughout the town.

Also central to the story is Jamie's brother Henry and Henry's wife, Laura. Laura is shocked and unhappy when Henry announces that he has bought a farm (without consulting her) and that they will be moving there from Memphis. Laura is a city girl who finds herself living in a rundown shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity. To make matters even worse, Henry's mean-spirited and racist father will be living with them. Tensions continue to rise when Jamie returns from war and moves onto the farm to help Henry.

drew me in right from the start with a dramatic opening scene that hooks the reader. Right from the very beginning, Jordan skillfully reveals small seeds of information that leave the reader asking questions and wondering what actions led up to this moment. And that's all within the first three pages. It is hard to believe that this is Jordan's debut novel! Not so hard to believe is that she was awarded the Bellwether Prize for fiction for Mudbound. The intent of the Bellwether Prize is "to advocate serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. The prize is awarded to a previously unpublished novel representing excellence in this genre."* As I said, I'm not surprised at all.

Image from Google Images
*Quote from Bellwether Prize website

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday. You know what that means. Time for me to slow down for a minute and think back on all the good in the last week.

1. The absolute best part of last week was the holiday weekend. We did not have a single thing planned. Three glorious days with no plans, no pressure and no schedule. The days seemed so long and leisurely since we spent them reading, going to an impromptu movie (Angles and Demons, which we both liked) and just generally goofing off. This does not happen often enough and I'm very thankful that we didn't have any Memorial Day plans.

2. Speaking of the holiday weekend, I am grateful to all the service people who lost their lives in wars and other military action to protect our freedoms. And likewise, I am thankful for all of our men and women serving in the military now and all our veterans. You all have my heartfelt thanks.

3. I am thankful that I cleared my calendar last Friday to make sure I could get caught up on all the "stuff" that was piling up around here. Phew! It was a busy day. But good busy. And I felt such a sense of relief to have all those little (and not so little) things done! Hallelujah!

4. And lastly, I am thankful to Valentine and Demosthenes at Letters from Valentine , Beth at be careful what you wish for , and Clare at this and that for awarding me the Queen of All Things Awe-summm!!! Award! Wow! I'm so flattered and honored to be the recipient of such a cool award. Thanks ladies. I really do appreciate it. It made my week.

How about you? Can you think of any thing (big or small) that went well this week? What are you Thankful for?

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Queen For A Day

It's official. I am Queen for A Day! Yesterday I received the Queen of All Things Awe-summm!!! award, not once, not twice, but THREE times. OMG! I'm not sure how to react to that. I think maybe my blog circle must be pretty small. LOL! In any case, I'm dumb-founded and honored.

I received this royal award from Valentine and Demosthenes at Letters from Valentine AND Beth at be careful what you wish for AND Clare at this and that . Wow! I'm so flattered and honored to be the recipient of such a cool award. And I will be honest, it's kind of the perfect award for me because when I was a little girl my grandfather nicknamed me The Queen. I loved it, but I think he called me that because I a bit bossy and always had to have my own way. (Some things never change. Just ask my husband). So here's how the award works:

Queen Duties are as follows:

1. List 7 things that make you awe-summm.
2. Pass the award onto 7 bloggers that you think are awe-summm.
3. Tag those bloggers to let them know they are now Queens too (and link back to the Queen who tagged you).

Alrighty then. 7 things that make me awe-summm:

Wow this is harder than it sounds!

1. I am an awe-summm multitasker. I can literally do 3 or 4 things at once. This makes me amazingly efficient at home and has earned me the nickname of the "whirling dervish" from the Children's Librarian at work.

2. I have been married for nearly 22 years! I think this is pretty awe-summm in and of itself, but the fact that I'm married to my HS sweetheart and we were apart for most of the four years of college (except for summers and other breaks) makes this even more awe-summm! And the most awe-summm part is that we dated for 7 years before we got hitched, so we've been together for nearly 29 years! It hasn't always been easy, but it has most definitely been worth it!

3. I can touch my nose with my tongue! Having a long pointy nose (think the Child Catcher from Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang) has it benefits. Pretty awe-summm, right?

4. I LOVE to learn new things and believe in being a life long learner. It doesn't have to be academic subjects either. In recent years, I've learned to play piano, taken tap dancing lessons, learned to knit, learned to play Mah Jong and now I'm blogging. And as you all know, blogging is totally awe-summm!

5. A year and a half ago I got my dream car. A car I had been coveting for 4 years. A car I got when I gave up the minivan I had been driving for 13 years. My red/white Mini Cooper is most definitely awe-summm!

6. I am a fast reader. This is awe-summm because I love to read and I have a very long list of books I want to read. So this is an essential skill for me!

7. I think it's awe-summm that I have made so many bloggy friends since starting my blog in February. I was not expecting that. I figured my blog would be a sort of personal journal of book reviews and that maybe my friends would read it occasionally. I never expected that other people would be interested. Truthfully, I had never even read a blog before I started this one, so I wasn't aware of "Followers", and SITS, and Google Reader, etc. Totally AWE-SUMMM!!!

7 Awe-summm bloggers I want to pass this on to:

1. Alex at Please Try Again
4. Julie at Midlife Jobhunter
6. Cat and Ben at 4 Nuts in a Nutshell
7. Lady Grey at Miss Lady Grey

Thanks again ladies. I'm so flattered and honored to have received this award!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge

In my last post I said I was going to participate in TWO book challenges. The second one is hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. How could I possibly pass up the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge? Come on! Not only am I a library lover, I work in a library! This challenge was made for me. In this challenge you decide whether you will read 12, 25 or 50 library books, in 2009. I chose 50. Check out J. Kaye's Book Blog for all the details. Luckily for me the rules for the New Author Challenge allow using books from other challenges, so most (but not all) of my books will overlap (gotta love that). Here's my list so far:

2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge

1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
2. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
3. The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin
4. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
5. How Not to Die by Jan Garavaglia
6. Publishing a Blog with Blogger by Elizabeth Castro
7. A Parting Gift by Ben Erickson
8. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
9. The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman
10. Song Yet Sung by James McBride
11. The Everything Blogging Book by Eliza Risdahl
12. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
13. Goldengrove by Francine Prose
14. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
15. The Courtier's Secret by Donna Russo Morin
16. The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by the editors of the Huffington Post
17. The Secret Currency of Love edited by Hilary Black
18. Ex Libris: Confession of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
19. Mistaken Identities: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Ryn, Don Van
20. The Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
21. The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
21. Against Medical Advice: A True Story by James Patterson
23. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
24. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
25. Nov. 22, 1963 by Adam Braver
26. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
27. The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney
28. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
29. Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
30. Writing on Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life by Christina Marsden Gillis
31. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
32. Upstate by Kalisha Buckhannon
33. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
34. Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind
35. Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins.
36. The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
37. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
38. The End of Manners by Francesca Marciano
39. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
40. Teaser by Jan Brogan
41. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
42. The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
43. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
44. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
45. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
46. A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg by John Guy
47. Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
48. Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse
49. Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See by Rober Kurson
50. Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

You can follow my progress by clicking on the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge button on my sidebar. Anyone interested in joining me? Leave me a comment letting me know and be sure to sign up at J. Kaye's Book Blog.

New Author Challenge 2009

While trolling the blogosphere the other day I stumbled upon a whole new corner of the bloggy world. Apparently there are bloggers out there who are SERIOUS bookworms and participate in all manner of book challenges. Are any of you familiar with this? It was certainly news to me. And I was intrigued. Of course this appeals to my nerdy bookish side, but I also love a good challenge. (I can be a wee bit competitive at times). So, I've decided to participate in two of these challenges. The first is a New Author Challenge and is hosted by Literary Escapism. Check out the website for all the rules, but basically you choose your own goal and try to read that many books by authors that are new to you during 2009. I've decided my goal will be to read 50 books by "new" authors by December 31, 2009. Luckily, I can count the books I've already read this year.

2009 New Author Challenge

1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
2. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
3. The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin
4. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
5. How Not to Die by Jan Garavaglia
6. Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
7. Publishing a Blog with Blogger by Elizabeth Castro
8. A Parting Gift by Ben Erickson
9. The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman
10. The Everything Blogging Book by Eliza Risdahl
11. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
12. Goldengrove by Francine Prose
13. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
14. The Courtier's Secret by Donna Russo Morin
15. The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by the editors of the Huffington Post
16. The Secret Currency of Love edited by Hilary Black
17. Ex Libris: Confession of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
18. Mistaken Identities: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Ryn, Don Van
19. The Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
20. The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
21. Against Medical Advice: A True Story by James Patterson
22. Five Skies by Ron Carlson
23. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
24. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
25. Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story by Isabel Gillies
26. Nov. 22, 1963 by Adam Braver
27. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
28. The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney
29. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
30. Writing in Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life by Christina Marsden Gillis
31. Upstate by Kalisha Buckhannon
32. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
33. Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind
34. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
35. Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins
36. The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
37. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
38. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
39. The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
40. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
41. Away by Amy Bloom
42. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond
43. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
44. The End of Manners by Francesca Marciano
45. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
46. Teaser by Jan Brogan
47. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
48. The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
49. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
50. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

You can follow my progress by clicking on the Author Challenge 2009 button on my sidebar. Anyone interested in joining me? Leave me a comment letting me know and be sure to sign up at Literary Escapism.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never Forget

Happy Memorial Day!

As some of you might remember from the post where I revealed 13 things about myself, I am very patriotic. So while we are all enjoying the warmer weather and the long weekend, let's take a minute to remember why today is a national holiday. Memorial Day was started after the Civil War to honor Union soldiers. After WWI, it was expanded to include American casualities of any war or military action (information from Wikipedia. Shh! Don't tell anyone. Librarians hate Wikipedia).

Yesterday my local paper was full of stories of veterans remembering their fallen comrades and honoring them in different events around the country. One story in particular really touched me. I will admit I had tears in my eyes while reading it. At Riverside National Cemetery in California 300 volunteers will read the names of the 148,000 veterans buried there. This roll call of the dead will be read aloud over 10 days - day and night. And some time today, they will read the last name on page 2,465. I am humbled by this. I am even more humbled by the fact that one of these volunteers, Jon Landaker, is the father of 26 year old Jared Landaker, who is buried at Riverside National Cemetery. Jared was a Marine helicopter pilot who was killed on his last mission - one week before he was scheduled to come home. This breaks my heart. So, please take a moment today to remember Jared and all the other military personnel who gave their lives so we can be free. And sometime today while you are enjoying the day off, take a moment to tell your kids about the reason that they have a day off from school today. It's important that we teach them the importance of honoring those who have the made the ultimate sacrifice. And to those of you who have lost a loved one during military service or have a loved one serving in the military, I thank you for your sacrifice as well and I wish you peace.

Image from Google Images

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

Last week I said I would show one picture per week for three weeks of our trip to Iceland, France and England. Well, I lied. It's going to take four weeks. You see, our trip to France was really separated into two parts and I wanted to highlight one picture from each part of our trip . So, here is the picture from the first part of our time in France:

During the first part of our trip to France, we were fortunate to be staying with a family that lives in Buthiers, France - a tiny village of 600 people north east of Paris. We became acquainted with the Plet family in May 2007 when we hosted their eldest daughter, Laeti, during her 10 day visit to the US as an exchange student. Laeti is a wonderful girl and we enjoyed her visit immensely. When Laeti and her family learned that we would be traveling to Europe in July of 2007, they invited us to visit and stay with them in Buthiers. We were anxious to accept. At that time, our plans were to go from Iceland, to Scotland and then on to England. Fortunately, we were able to rearrange our airline tickets and we decided to skip Scotland in favor of France. The photo above is the 200+ year old stone and stucco Plet family house. The house and the town itself is picture perfect and like being in a fairy tale. This photo was taken from the second story of the barn that sits in the back yard of their home. (This is actually the back of the house). Beyond the barn is a lovely meadow. At the time that we were visiting, Mr. Plet was renovating the barn into a gorgeous house that the family was anxious to move into since it was larger and more modern than the original house. Needless to say, having the experience of living with a French family was a once in a lifetime experience and for me, it was the best part of our trip. Next stop... Gay Paree!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

TV Quick Quips

Seems so weird that there are only two shows left to "quip" about. Well, here's my thoughts about this week's episodes of my favorite shows (what's left of them):

The Tudors - Three things struck me in this episode. First, I don't think poor Anne of Cleves looks like a horse! YIKES! And if Henry would just be kinder and gentler to her, maybe it would all work out (yes, I know I'm trying to rewrite history. And in reality Anne was supposed to have been badly scarred by smallpox. But Joss Stone isn't, so saying she looks like a horse is not working for me). Secondly, in the previews for the next episode we seen Henry's next wife (his 5th). Since he only had 6, does this mean next season will be the last? Say it isn't so. And lastly, I've always been sympathetic to the Duke of Suffolk (no, not just because he's handsome) because he seemed to have a real sense of morality. BUT, he is starting to be just as scheming and unethical as everyone else now and I really don't like it. I agree with his wife when she says she wants her "sweet Charles" back. Yeah, me too!

American Idol - I'm writing this next part on Wednesday afternoon (after the performances of Tuesday night, but before the results show). On Tuesday night I was BLOWN AWAY by Adam's rendition of Mad World. I missed his first performance of this song, because that episode went long and my DVR didn't record it. I was able to watch in online, but seeing it on the larger TV screen was a completely different experience. So haunting. I can't get it out of my head. I will definitely download this song to my iTunes library. And that's saying something because I don't even use my iPod very much right now. Anyway, I know after last week's show I said that I would be OK no matter who won, but as the days passed, I really started to find myself hoping that Kris will win. I'm a real sucker for a (deserving) underdog. And the more I think about the season as a whole, I really do think Kris grew so much as singer and he has a fabulous knack for changing popular songs and making them his own. That being said, I really do think Adam had a much better night. That last song was just horrible and it was not at all appropriate for Kris' voice. Even Kara (who wrote the song) said that. I sure hope that this won't work against Kris. As Kara said I hope everyone voted based on the season as a whole. Though it seemed clear to me from what all the judges said to Kris, that they expect Adam to win. We will see. I can't wait for tonight's show. I'll be back with my reactions after the show airs tonight!

This next part is being written after the finale. OMG!!!! I can NOT believe Kris actually won! I'm so happy and so bummed all at the same time. But more happy - I think. I really wanted Kris to win, but then when he did I felt bad for Adam. (Who handled not winning like a champ, I might add). And wasn't Kris just so humble and adorable when he won? I've never felt so torn about an Idol finale before (and I've watched them all). I wish they could both win. Anyway, I think Adam is going to have an amazing career, with or without the Idol title. I'm not sure I can say the same for Kris. So maybe it is good that he won. Anyway, I'm rambling again. I just love them both!

What did you all think of the rest of show? I was amazed by it. I had no idea there were going to be so many "stars" performing. Some were truly stars, but I thought a few were has beens. Oh well. And did anyone else think Rod Stewart was drunk - or possibly suffering from a medical condition that makes old people unsteady on their feet? Geoff and I actually had to fast forward through it because it was just so upsetting to watch. How about when Kris sang with Keith Urban. Are Geoff and I the only ones who thought Kris sounded better than Keith? Wow! Anyway, I thought it was an entertaining show. I could have missed the silly awards they gave out. But, I LOVED hearing Kara sing! I've liked her right from the start, but now I think I have a little bit of a girl crush on her. She's a great singer in addition to being personable, likable and a good judge. She always has something valuable to say to each contestant. I hope she's back next year.

Images from Google Images

Friday, May 22, 2009

Musing Mondays (better late than never)

Yesterday I stumbled across three intriguing book blogs. And I thought I was a crazy book lady. These ladies put me to shame. The three bloggers are Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm, MizB at Should be Reading and Rebecca at Just One More Page. Apparently every week Rebecca hosts MUSING MONDAYS in which she poses a question about reading and books. Being a bibliophile myself, I couldn't resist. So even though it's Friday, here is this week's Musing Monday question:

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or person(s)? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child? (question courtesy of Diane)

I don't remember exactly how or when I developed a love for reading, but I do remember always being curious about books. I also remember my dad reading to my brother and me when we were very little and using different voices for the different characters. I also remember the Scholastic book orders in elementary school and how, even though we didn't have a lot money when I was growing up, there was always money for me to order books.

I do, however, remember exactly when I fell in love in libraries. I was 10 years old and in 5th grade. I had a friend who always seemed to have an interesting looking book in her desk. I asked her about those books and she said she got them at the public library in town. Believe it or not, I wasn't familiar with the public library - just the school library. I asked my mom to take me to the town library and she did. I can still vividly remember standing in the children's room, holding a Katie John book (do any of you remember that series? I absolutely loved it!), and marveling at all the books I could choose from. And, unlike the school library, I could browse as long as I liked and take out as many books as I wanted. That was it! I was smitten. I've been in love ever since.

How about you? Do you remember how you developed a love of reading? I'd love to hear about it.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your thoughts in a comment here. Thanks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's been a crazy, busy week for me. It's always this way at the end of the school year. But, amidst all the hecticness I found three things to be grateful for:

1. I'm so grateful and happy that Geoff took me to a movie on Saturday night, even though he didn't want to. When I first suggested it (earlier in the day) he seemed interested, but when it was nearing time to leave I could tell he didn't want to. He admitted he really wasn't all that interested in seeing the movie I had picked (Sunshine Cleaning). Though when it first came out I thought he said he wanted to see it. Oh well. Anyway, I told him it was OK if we stayed home, but I was bit disappointed. He immediately changed his mind and he went - happily. That made me so glad. AND we both really liked the movie!

2. I'm so thankful that I was able to attend my cousin Aime's bridal shower on Sunday afternoon. It was an excellent chance to see all my female cousins and my aunts (people I don't see often enough. And lately when I have seen them it has been under sad circumstances). It was so nice for us to have a chance to be together celebrating a happy occasion. And I'm also thankful that after the shower, Sandy (my step mom) invited us over to her house for dinner with her and my Dad. It was nice not to have to cook, but just being able to so casually spend time with my family is something I am extremely grateful for. I lived in AZ (away from all of our family) for 14 1/2 years and I missed out on lots of family events - big and small. I am eternally grateful to be back in RI - near all the people that I love.

3. I am so grateful that I have a boss who is so willing to be flexible when it comes to needing time off for family obligations. Pat, the library director, never bats an eye when I request time off to attend parent meetings, chaperone field trips, watch classroom skits or go on two week vacations with my family. Even if I ask her at the last possible moment. I realize that this is rare and I'm thankful because otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep this job that I absolutely love. Because as much as I love it, it's more important to me to be on those field trips, see those skits and especially to go on those family vacations. So, thank you Pat.

OK, I know I said I had three things to be thankful for, but #4 is happening as we "speak":

4. And lastly, I am thankful that right this very minute, Katie and Madeleine are actually upstairs in one of their bedrooms having a REAL conversation with each other. Full of whispering and girlish giggles. My girls rarely have any "fun" conversations with each other. This one started as a result of the HS orientation meeting that Madeleine attended tonight. I think she asked Katie a question about one of the clubs and soon they were talking all about HS. And before I knew it, they were actually talking and being silly together. It feels like Christmas and my birthday all in one! I think I'll just stay down here for awhile and not spoil the magic by going upstairs and telling them it's time for bed. Some things are more important than a reasonable bedtime.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wake Up Call

Yesterday I had a major wake up call. Madeleine, my 14 year old, reminded me that we have a parent/student orientation at the High School tonight for incoming freshman. I had completely forgotten about this, but she was right. There it was, in my handwriting, in the family bible calendar. How could this have slipped my mind so completely? Especially since Wednesday night is my night to work at the library. I hadn't even asked my boss for the night off. This is so not like me.

Then it hit me. My wake up call. Madeleine would be in HIGH SCHOOL in September. HIGH SCHOOL! Of course, intellectually I knew that she would be a freshman next year. And that she would be changing schools. I'm not sad or emotional about this, but stunned. So, why does the fact that she will be a High Schooler and not a Middle Schooler bring me up short? My friends think it's because she's my baby. I don't know, though. She is my youngest child, true. But, I've never thought of her as my "baby". Maybe when you only have 2 kids and they are 2 1/2 years apart, the youngest one isn't really a baby in comparison to the oldest. Certainly, I never babied her. She would not have stood for that. Even as a baby, she was not one to be cuddled and cooed over. She was independent and feisty from the get go.

When I really stop and think about it, I think what is so shocking is that HS has gone by so quickly for Katie, my older daughter. And I've seen how much she has grown and changed from a freshman to a junior. And some of those changes have been painful. Madeleine is at such a cool stage in her life right now. She has a wonderful group of friends, she is starting to spread her wings socially and she is just a delight. I guess I want to hold on to that a little bit longer. I'm not anxious for her to become more independent and pull away from Geoff and me. I guess I just want to hold on to her for awhile longer. Maybe she is my baby afterall.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

First, I must thank Debbie of Suburb Sanity for recommending The Gargoyle to me. This is undoubtedly the most unique and fascinating book I've read in a long time. I just LOVED it! In many ways I felt as though the author had written this book with me in mind. It seemed that every page revealed some other little element that just so happens to be something that interests, fascinates or intrigues me - books, libraries, librarians, Illuminated texts, the middle ages, gargoyles, Galileo, time travel and even my phobia of snakes shows up as a metaphor for the narrator's pain. *cue Twilight Zone music.*

The Gargoyle tells the story of the nameless narrator, a cynical and self-absorbed pornographer and drug addict, who is severely burned in a car crash. Soon his friends and associates stop visiting him and he loses his business. However, during his long recovery in the burn unit, he is visited by an alluring, though obviously unstable, sculptress who claims that they were lovers in a past life. Marianne Engel continues to visit the narrator during his hospital stay and regales him with stories of their past life and other ancient legends of undying love. Eventually the narrator is released to Marianne's care and he finds himself, for the first time in his life, growing to care about someone other than himself. In time, Marianne's instability becomes more pronounced and the narrator find himself becoming her caregiver. But during her lucid moments, Marianne continues to weave her story of past life and love. A story that the narrator finds interesting, but that he does not believe to be true. And all the while he is desperately trying to save Marianne from her increasingly severe madness.

Andrew Davidson is a master storyteller. He skillfully teases the reader with the slow unfolding of Marianne's story of past life and love. I found myself, much like the narrator, anxious to hear the next "chapter" in her story. In addition, the other legends of undying love, which are woven into the narrative, are then cleverly tied into the present with incredible deftness. Awesome. Being that the book was so brilliant, unique and fascinating, I was expecting some equally clever ending. While it wasn't as jaw droppingly unique as I was expecting, it was still very good. And it does leave the reader wondering and questioning. It's one of those books where you immediately want to ask someone else who has read the book - "what do you think THAT was all about?" I LOVE when that happens in a book. And it doesn't happen all that often. So, if you've read this already or are planning on reading it, I'd love to hear what you think.

Image from Google Images

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

I had a very hard time deciding what photo I wanted to highlight for Sentimental Sunday this week. I wanted to pick a photo from our 2007 trip to Europe celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. We spent two weeks, with our girls, visiting Iceland, France and England. It was a wonderful trip. So, I decided I would choose one photo from each country for three consecutive Sundays. So, here's my Iceland photo:

This is the view from the top of Hallgrimur Church in Reykjavik, Iceland. I love this photo because it so clearly shows the colorful houses that line the streets of Iceland's capital. In the foreground is a statue of Lief Erickson, given to the people of Iceland by the United States in 1930, commemorating 1,000 years of the Icelandic Parliament. The oldest Parliament in the world. In addition, you can see the water in the distance - very important for us mermaids! ;) Next Sunday... France!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TV Quick Quips

For what it's worth, here's my opinion of this week's episodes of my favorite shows:

The Tudors - Can't believe that there are only 2 more episodes this season. I love these Showtime and HBO shows, but the seasons are so short. This season has been so fascinating as a study of the history of this time period. The first two seasons were really more about Henry and his relationships with his wives (and mistresses), but this season has been like a history lesson. I LOVE it! As I've said in the past, I'm fascinated with this time period and I'm enjoying watching history come alive.

American Idol - First, did anyone else think that Kati Perry's cape with Adam's name embroidered on it was extremely inappropriate? Seemed very insensitive to me. AND, I thought if anyone should have been eliminated, it should have been her. She was, without a doubt, the worse singer there Wednesday night. Also, I wonder why Kris was the first person to be told that he was safe. Did they really think they were amping up the suspense and that we might actually believe Adam would be leaving? Come on! As soon as they said Kris was safe, I KNEW that Danny would be going home. Regardless of the fact that he had never been in the bottom three and Adam had. That strategy totally backfired, IMO. As for the final two. I think they got it right. Adam's always been my first choice. And between Danny and Kris, while I've been disappointed in each of them at different times, I think Kris is a more versatile singer. He really does make many of the songs "his own" - to quote the judges. I can't remember any other idol contestant who has done that as successfully as Kris. At this point, I would be pleased if either of them win.

LOST - OK, I know I've said in the past that I like the LOST recap shows. And I do. But, come on! Do we really need one right before a 2 hour finale? That is just WAY too much of a time commitment for this busy mom, wife, part-time librarian ... person with a life! I will admit that I watched about 2 minutes of the recap and then switched to American Idol. I watched the actual episode later on DVR. And here's my reaction.... WTF? That was 2 bloody (literally) hours just to have the bomb go off. Really the rest was just "fluff". Except seeing who Jacob is. But in the end did that even matter since he ended up going up in smoke? Whatever. Final season.... bring it on!

The Office - I had NO idea that this week's show was the finale until I saw a commercial on Tuesday! I was so not expecting that. I knew it would be soon, but since I hadn't seen anything during the previous episode, I assumed I had at least 2 more weeks. What a shock! And speaking of shocks, I sure wasn't expecting a JAM baby! How cute was it that Jim had tears in his eyes at the end of the episode? I must say, The Office always has really good finales! So, now the question is.... Will we have a JAM wedding before the arrival of the JAM baby? I sure hope so. It would be a real bummer for all the JAM fans if we don't get to see a JAM wedding. I sure hope next season doesn't open with Jim and Pam already married. The Office finales always leave me on the edge of my seat and hankering for the new season. *sigh*

Image from Google Images

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nostalgia at the Chorus

This week Geoff and I attended two chorus performances. Katie performed in the HS chorus on Tuesday night and Madeleine performed in the Middle School chorus last night. We have been attending these shows since the girls were in elementary school. Twice a year. As much as I love to see my girls perform in any and all of their activities, I must admit that sometimes these chorus (and Jazz Band concert combos in HS) get a little old. They tend to last up to 2 hours and there are multiple choruses and band configurations to watch. Do I sound like a terrible mom? Maybe I am.

Last night I realized that we were attending the last of TWELVE concerts at the Middle School. And that's just Middle School. Usually I feel a little cranky about these events. But this year I felt much more nostalgic. Maybe it's because it was the LAST time I would sit in the Middle School auditorium. Maybe it was the lovely speech that the 8th grade made to thank Mrs. Thurber, the chorus director (who Katie absolutely loved). Maybe it's because it hit me that my girls really are growing up and moving closer and closer to independence. Maybe it's because at the very end of the show, Madeleine had a solo and she ROCKED THE HOUSE! Go Madeleine! Whatever it was, I felt a weird combination of nostalgia and excitement. Excitement like I used to feel when my kids were younger and attending school events was novel and something I looked forward to. Not sure exactly when I stopped feeling this way, but I'm glad I experienced that feeling again last night. I hope it continues for these next four years. My last four years with at least one of my girls at home. Somehow the reality of that fact is starting to sink in. And I know how fast 4 years will pass. But, the good news is that I still have 8 more concerts to attend. And next year I will have the joy of seeing both of my girls perform in the same chorus. That is something novel and exciting to look forward to.

Image from Google Images

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday

OK, once again I've had a super busy day and I'm writing this post at 10:30 pm (a little earlier than yesterday's post. WooHoo!). So if it doesn't make complete sense, please bear with me. Lots to be thankful for this week:

1. I am thankful that I found my way to the ICA in Boston on Friday without getting even a little bit lost! And I'm glad I figured out that the best way to do that is to take multiple sets of directions. A compilation of all of them will most likely make sense. Who needs GPS anyway?

2. I'm thankful that I have kept in touch with Kristen, my friend from college, and that we manage to get together a couple of times a year even though we live 2 hours away from each other. Sometimes we meet at an outlet mall that's partway between our towns, but usually we meet in Boston to explore a museum. I'm grateful that I have a friend who shares my love of art and history. And books - we always manage to share a couple of titles with each other. Oh, and next time we get together she wants to come and explore Providence. THAT is something to be grateful for as well!

3. I am so thankful that Geoff and Madeleine helped me clean out the garage this past weekend (even if it was on Mother's Day). Just call me Angela. If you don't get this reference, read this. First of all, my pack rat husband finally agreed to get rid of a bunch of tools and other useless junk unused items, which had been clogging up the garage for years! And secondly, I found Hortense!!! Who is Hortense? Hortense is my little stone gargoyle who sits in my bird bath every spring and summer. I always put the birdbath (and Hortense) away for the colder months and two years ago when spring finally sprung I couldn't find him anywhere. I was seriously bummed. I LOVE gargoyles and I was especially fond of Hortense. On Mother's Day I found him buried under above mentioned "unused items". *ahem* (That is not a picture of Hortense, but it's pretty close to what he looks like. If it wasn't 11:00 pm I'd go take a picture and post it, but it is and I'm not.)

4. Thrilled beyond belief that I won two tickets to Trinity Repertory Company in the RARI raffle on Saturday! I was hoping to see at least one show next season and when I looked at the upcoming schedule (before I won the tickets), there were 4 shows (out of 6) I REALLY wanted to see and one I wanted to see and one I was lukewarm about. I tried to talk Geoff into a season subscription and he wasn't buying it (figuratively or literally). I did get him to agree to see one show. So now I can see two shows! Right? The free tickets "buy" me a bonus show - don't they? Of course they do. It's perfect logic!

5. I'm also grateful for having a chance to spend some time with my friend Margaret on Tuesday. Margaret is another friend of mine who loves art and history. She lives here in RI and occasionally we go to NYC and visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (And a few years ago we spent 5 days in DC visiting as many museums as we could. It was awesome!) This spring we signed up for a three lecture series of Art Talks at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Since neither one of us knows all that much about art, even though we both love it, we decided it might be fun to learn a little bit that we could hopefully apply the next time we're standing in front of a fabulous painting by a famous artist. Unfortunately, we didn't get very much out of either of the two lectures that we actually attended. But, it was still fun to meet for lunch before the lecture. We bought salads at Whole Foods and sat on a bench by the Providence River and had a nice chat before going to the boring lecture. Hey, being with a friend makes everything better.

Wow, looking back I really had a great week! It's been busy, but full of great things. And if that means having to write posts in the middle of the night (or until 11:00 pm) - so be it. I'm lucky to have had such an awesome week! How about you? Did something good happen to you this past week? I sure hope so!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Reads

First let me apologize if this post is full of spelling or grammatical errors. I have been extra busy today and I'm just now writing this post at 10:45 pm. That is ridiculously late for me to try to think coherent thoughts - never mind trying to write them down. I may regret this in the morning, but live and learn right?

Yesterday, I shared with you my two All Time Favorite Books. Which truly are fabulous and transcendent! But there are many, many, many other books that I absolute love. Too many really to list all of them here. I noticed in yesterday's comments that many of the books that you all listed as your All Time Favorites are also favorites of mine. You have such good taste! So, I thought I'd share with you some of my other recent favorites and also give you a heads up on two new books coming out by two of my favorite authors. OK, here goes. In no particular order they are:

Ten Books I Highly Recommend

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (read my review)
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (read my review)
Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (read my review)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Also, be on the lookout for these two new books by two of my favorite authors. Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg and Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar. I've already put my name on the holds list at the library for both of them. Can't wait!

Just curious - have any of you read any of my favorites? Did you like them? Hate them? *gasp* Have any you want to share? I'd love to hear what you all think.

Image from Google Images

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Transcendent Books

In keeping with the theme of yesterday's post, I thought it might fun for us to share with each other books that we consider to be "transcendent". A transcendent book is one that you couldn't stop thinking about when you finished reading it. A book that you want to share with all your friends and fellow bibliophiles. A book that touched you in some way. A book that makes you sigh and smile when you utter it's name. THAT is a transcendent book.

I have two books that I consider transcendent. Before the RARI event, I referred to them as my All Time Favorite Books. Transcendent sounds soooo much better. Here they are. Can you hear me sighing and see me smiling?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I first read this book when I was 14 years old and in 8th grade. I can not remember if it was assigned reading or a book I simply stumbled upon. My guess is that it was assigned. I had a wonderful 8th grade English teacher, Mr. O'Donnell, and I can easily imagine him assigning this amazing book to his Junior High School students. As I grew into adulthood, I remembered that I LOVED this book, but I couldn't remember much else about it. Except for an image of a homeless man with gnarled and filthy feet and how the protagonist (a teen age girl) saw his feet and thought to herself that at one time he was someone's precious baby boy and his mama probably kissed his tender pink toes with love. Wow! THAT image stayed with me for nearly 25 years at which time I finally took the time to reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was curious to see if I still loved the book as an adult as I had as a young teen. The answer is YES! I loved it! It's wonderful. I recommend it to almost everyone who comes into the library and tells me they are "looking for a good book". And not a single one of them has ever been disappointed. Typically, when they return the book they ask for another recommendation. And without a moments hesitation I say....

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Ahhh! Somehow I managed to live 43 whole years before I read this book! What a shame. I remember first hearing about this book from the woman who was my hairdresser at that time. Isabel was a fellow book lover who received this book as a Christmas present and positively raved about it to me. It took me approximately 3 years before I finally decided to pick it up myself. Why did it take so long? Well, I am constantly learning about great new books. I try my best to keep up with all these wonderful new titles. Of course, I can't possibly read all the fabulous books I hear or read about, but I do give it the old college try. Since I am always frantically trying to keep up with all the great current literature being published, to go back and read an "old" book is very hard for me. Such a dilemma! Anyway, this book is worth a bookshelf full of great new books. It is worth dropping everything and reading - right now! And like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, no one has ever been disappointed that I recommended it.

Ok, now it's your turn. Leave me a comment telling me about your "transcendent" book(s). Not just a good book or a great book, but your All Time Favorite Book. I can't wait!

Images from Google Images

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reading Across Rhode Island May Breakfast

On Saturday I attended the May Breakfast sponsored by Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) to celebrate the 2009 RARI book, Five Skies. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about you can read all about RARI here and you can read my review of Five Skies here.) This year, since I was fortunate enough to attend the breakfast with 7 other women from my two book clubs, we had a table to ourselves - which was terrific. Ron Carlson, the author of Five Skies, was there and he gave an amazing talk to the crowd of over 400 people. Carlson is a professor of creative writing at UC - Irvine and he is a talented and engaging speaker. He is very funny and he had no trouble keeping the audience's attention. (It didn't hurt that he is very easy on the eyes and the audience was predominately female). Oh, and to top it all off, I won two tickets to Trinity Repertory Company in the raffle! But, I digress...

Carlson spoke about the craft of writing, how he gets story ideas and his work as a teacher. But, the thing I found to be the most interesting is that he started his talk by saying that groups like Reading Across Rhode Island and events like the May breakfast, in which groups of people get together to talk about books (what he referred to has "literary meetings"), are the foundation of a civilized society. Wow! That is quite a statement. He talked about how some stories transcend the book in which they are written and actually cross over into our very lives. We can all recall books like this. Books that we can't stop thinking about when we are finished reading them. Books that we can recall exactly where we were when we were reading them. Books we can't wait to pass on to other bookworms. Books that become a part of our very history. And, of course, all books are not created equal. Not all books are worth sitting around discussing. Not all stories transcend the book itself. But when you find one, it is a real gift. A gift that should be shared and treasured. After all, according to Mr. Carlson, doing so is the very foundation of civilization. Mr. Carlson, I couldn't agree more.

Image from Google Images

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - Mother's Day Edition


In honor of Mother's Day, today's Sentimental Sunday will highlight all the women in my life who I am honored to call mother - in one form or another. But, first I want to honor my own two daughters, whom I love with all my heart and by whose very presence I have the privilege of being called "Mom". Katie and Madeleine, I love you both more than you will ever know. And I am honored to be your Mom.

This picture was taken in Sagres, Portugal last April. I have a whole series of pictures of the girls and I playing in the surf. I love all of them. This was such a happy moment!

Next, my Mom! This picture was taken last summer at my Mom's birthday party in my backyard. With us is my younger brother, Paul. My Mom is the most self-sacrificing person I have ever met. My brother and I are her whole world and I know that posing for this picture made her very happy. Love you Mom!

Next up is my wonderful stepmom, Sandy! This picture was also taken in Portugal. This time in Belem. Sandy is my stepmom, but she is so much more than that. She is my friend. And if it wasn't for her, I don't think I would have the wonderful relationship with my Dad that I do. Sandy is also the author of the blog It's a Jungle Out There. If you haven't checked it out, you should. Sandy, I value our friendship and our family relationship more and more with each passing year.

Lastly, I'd like to honor my mother-in-law, Audrey. This picture was taken about 2 years ago at Audrey's surprise 75th birthday. Here she is with her three children and her husband, Gary. Audrey would do absolutley anything for her children and she always puts her family first. Thanks for always being willing to lend a helping hand, Audrey.

And to all of you Moms out there, Happy Mother's Day! I wish you a day filled with hugs, kisses and love. Enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

TV Quick Quips

Here's my take on this week's episodes of my favorite TV shows:

The Tudors - Still blown away by the acting. Jonathan Rhys Meyers does an amazing job as a distraught and slightly mad King Henry.

American Idol - Where to begin? First, I do not think Allison should have gone home before Kris or Danny. I like Kris, but Allison is definitely a better singer. I'm not sure I really like Danny anymore. I was impressed with him for a while, but now... not so much. Adam, of course, is still #1 to me. On to Paula... What did you all think of her performance? I was not favorably impressed. It was obvious she was lip-syncing, the lyrics and her dance were kind of sleazy for this venue, and her dancing seemed a little strained at times. I will admit that some of the "stunts" were impressive, but they were just that - STUNTS! Overall, I felt as though she was trying too hard. Anyone else think she sounded like Britney Spear? *shudders* More about Paula... Did any of you hear her interview with Ryan Seacrest on the radio on Tuesday (or possibly Wednesday)? He interviewed her about her "upcoming" performance on Idol and he asked her about rumors that she will be leaving Idol at the end of this season. She would not confirm or deny, but she did say that she had been presented with many opportunities and still had a couple of weeks before the end of the season to make up her mind. AHA! I'm not sure if I've said it here or not, but I have said that I felt that Kara was brought to Idol this season as a way of easing the audience into accepting Paula's departure and to avoid a Jane Pauley/Paula Zahn-esque drama. And I speculate that if Paula leaves it will not be completely of her own volition. Just a guess. But, it seems like maybe there is some truth to it.

LOST - Did you all catch that next week is the season finale? I'm actually kind of glad about that. This show is just too confusing and I'm ready for a break. I've said it before, but if I hadn't invested so much time in this show already and if I didn't know that the writer's have a real destination in mind as far as the plot is concerned, I would have given up a LONG time ago. Right now, I'm ready to end this season and move on to next season - which is the final season - and just GET IT OVER WITH ALREADY! There I said it. Something tells me I'm not alone in this.

The Office - I had seen the previews for this episode in which Pam says that she and Jim are getting married "today". Inside I was a squealy fangirl, but I knew in my heart of hearts that the wedding would never happen this episode for the simple fact that they let us see that clip. But I was disappointed just the same. I would LOVE it if we got to see the wedding this season. Dragging it out doesn't really make sense with Jim and Pam's history and her endless engagement to Roy. But, I'm losing hope that we will see a wedding this season. Grrr! On a different note, I LOVED when Angela told Michael that if he's going to make her be at the party she should be allowed to have some fun - by cleaning up! I so get Angela sometimes and that really frightens me.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Got Maps, Will Travel

No need to call the National Guard. I made it to Boston and back with very little trouble and nary a colorful word passing my lips. Yahoo! A red letter day if I may say so myself. I think I have figured out the key to not getting lost. It's imperative to have multiple sets of directions. I'm not kidding! When one set seemed a little ambiguous I quickly consulted one of the others and by compiling the information it all seemed to make sense. Of course there were a few minor snafus. For instance Map Quest said take Exit 20 toward I-90 and Google Maps very helpfully added the information that Exit 20 is on the LEFT. That is good to know. You're not usually expecting exits to be on the LEFT. The only problem here was that the exit was ... on the RIGHT! Oops! Minor details like that happened a few times, but otherwise it wasn't so bad. I didn't even get lost. Not even a little bit. So what's an incorrect LEFT vs RIGHT in the grand scheme of things, right? I mean, "correct".

As for the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art), I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I love art museums but I must admit that I am not a big fan of contemporary art. Most of it is completely lost on me. I just don't "get" it. But, since the ICA is a brand spanking new museum it seemed like something fun to try - once. Well, did we ever luck out. The ICA is currently exhibiting the work of Shepard Fairey, the artist who painted the Hope portrait of Obama that was featured on the cover of Time magazine! Because Fairey attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) our local paper (The Providence Journal) did an article on him when his portrait was chosen for Time magazine. So, I was familiar with him and his connection to RI. But, other than that I didn't know anything about him. Apparently he is quite famous in the art world and he is being touted as this generation's Andy Warhol. We listened to the audio tour provided by the museum and I learned so much about Fairey as an artist and how his art sends a political message. But the best part? The original Obama portrait was there! Larger than life. I was able to walk right up to it and study it closely. What you might not know from looking at the image on the cover of Time is that this portrait (like all of Fairey's work) is actually a collage of sorts with lots of different layers - paint, stencils and most intriguing of all pieces of newsprint. Very cool. AND we got to see the letter from Obama to Fairey thanking him for his support and for painting the portrait! Amazing! I was not expecting to see this and I am so happy that I did.

In addition, the museum is located right on a pier and the views are lovely. I've added some pictures here for you to see. Enjoy!

This is the actual museum. It's hard to tell but the entire thing is made of glass. The second story juts out over the harbor and the wall is made of glass. The view is gorgeous.

This is a view of the harbor from the second story of the museum. It's really very pretty and we had a great day. We also lucked out in that today was the first day of a three week Boston stop of the Volvo Ocean Race (an around the world sailing race). We got to see some of the sail boats and check out some booths. Kristen won a Beatles CD at a local radio station booth and we saw a Volvo SUV made entirely out of Legos.

More modern art! And this I get!

Boston or Bust - Again?

Wish me luck! I'm going to need it. Today I am going to Boston (yet again) to meet up with a friend from college. Kristen and I met when I was a Junior and she was a Freshman and we have managed to keep in touch all these years. She lives about 2 hours away and we try to meet a couple times a year - sometimes in Boston. Today we are going to visit the brand new ICA Museum. Since we both like museums and history, Boston makes sense. Except for the fact that every time I go there I get completely turned around, hopelessly lost, and lots of colorful language is used. Remember the GPS debacle of a couple of weeks ago? Well, I do. So, I've got my printed Google Maps directions, and for good measure I have Map Quest as well. Oh, and the directions on the museum's website. And just in case, I have a train schedule. Who am I kidding? I grew up in a small town far from any metropolis. I don't even know how to READ a train schedule. Much less understand how to switch to the "Silverline Waterfront". Forget it! I'll just drive myself there and travel the myriad one way streets like a rat in a maze trying to find the cheese. Fine! But please tell me if you have any idea what I should do when the Map Quest directions say this (and I quote):

Blah, Blah, Blah (this is the stuff I understand)
13: Take the I-90 E exit on the LEFT toward LOGAN AIRPORT/SOUTH BOSTON.
14: Keep RIGHT at the fork in the ramp.
15: Keep LEFT at the fork in the ramp.

WHAT?! I feel some colorful language bubbling to the surface even now. ARGHH! If I don't have a post up tomorrow call out the National Guard. Tell them to look for the brunette in the red Mini Cooper, swearing like a sailor with a crazed look in her eye!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Looking back over the past week, here are some things I'm Thankful for:

1. I am thankful, flattered and honored that Katrina at Wiredset, asked me to write a review of Happens Every Day. How the heck did she ever find little 'ol me, anyway? However she did it, I'm glad and it was fun to write a review of a book knowing that someone else wanted me to do it.

2. I am grateful that by some stroke of luck and special planetary alignment, I managed to have the house all to myself not just Friday, but Saturday night as well! Never in the history of my Mom-dom has THAT happened. I contemplated going to the movies, but there really wasn't anything I wanted to see. So, I watched an episode of LOST that I hadn't yet seen and I read to my little heart's content. That is how I managed to finish 3 books and get 2 reviews written this week. (Stay tuned for review #3).

3. Yesterday as I was driving home from my hair appointment (hair dye - something else to be grateful for!) - I saw my favorite view in all the world. And it only happens for a few short weeks every year. There is a gorgeous white clapboard church in my town that everyone refers to as The White Church. It sits right next to a small bridge over a narrow portion of a cove that separates my neighborhood from the rest of our town. Anyway, for about 2 weeks in May the cherry tree that sits next to the church blooms with the most gorgeous pink flowers. There is one spot on the busy road leading into to my town in which the trees open up and you can see the church across the water framed by those trees. You can only see it for a split second or two. I love that view all year round. But when the cherry tree is in bloom, it is breathtaking. And I saw it yesterday for the first time this season. I so wish I could take a picture of it but the road is very busy and there is no place to pull over in that spot. But, here is a picture of the church (taken in May with the cherry tree in bloom) from a field that borders the cove, to give you some idea. Isn't it lovely?

Nothing like a dose of Mother Nature to make you thank your lucky stars. How about you? What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How Come No One Warns You?

No one warns you when you have children how hard it's going to be. And I don't just mean physically exhausting or financially draining or brain-frying hard - though it's all the those things as well. I'm talking about emotionally, heart-wrenchingly hard. Yesterday I had to do something that was very difficult to do as a parent and it's something I find myself having to do more and more often as my girls get deeper and deeper into their teen years. I had to let Katie, who is 16 years old, suffer the consequences of her bad decision when I could easily have rescued her. Now we're not talking about something super big and scary here. We're talking about taking the responsibility for getting yourself to school on time. Not only had she set her alarm, I had warned her 4 times to get up because it was getting late. When she finally did get up at 7:20, she was mad at me for not waking her up! She begged me to call the school and excuse her tardiness. I wouldn't do it. Before you all think I'm a major meanie, it's important to note that this is something she does fairly regularly. I thought it might be time for her to suffer the consequences. But, it was hard. Very hard! I knew she would get in trouble when she got to school. I was very upset about this the entire morning, until I read Anita's post about a teen who got herself expelled from school for drug possession. Then I had a reality check and realized this was really not such a big deal. Anita's post came at just the right time for me. I REALLY needed to read that yesterday. Funny how that worked out.

A little while later I read Alex's newest post. She talked about how as our kids grow into their teen years and become more independent, we lose them for awhile. And sometimes the child who worshipped you when they were small can no longer stand to be in the same room with you. But that as they mature they come back to you. Wow! I realized that part of why I felt so badly about the relatively minor incident with Katie was because of that very thing. Katie has always been a little prickly, but for the past couple of years she can't even be in the same room with me without rolling her eyes. When I try to talk to her, about even the simplest things, she gets testy, snappy and fresh with me. She's like this with her sister and her Dad, too. It seems as though she can't stand any of us. It is very painful when you feel as though your child hates you. Especially a child you so longed for. A child you went through hell and back to have. You hear the expression that to have a child is have a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. No one ever tells you how hard it is when that child takes your heart and stomps on it. Well, I'll tell you. It hurts! And Alex, your post couldn't have come at a better time. And I hope with all my heart that you are right. I hope that someday my precious Katie comes back to me.

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