Monday, August 31, 2009

And Away They Go!

I've been waiting for this day for 9 long years. I can't believe it's finally here. It felt like it would never come and now it's here and I can't believe how fast the time has flown.

Today marks the first day, since Madeleine was in kindergarten, that my girls will be in the same school. I'm not sure why that matters to me, but there is something very sweet about my girls being in school together. Katie is a "rule the school" Senior and Madeleine is a slightly anxious Freshman. In my mind's eye, I picture Madeleine comforted by the fact that her big sister is in the building somewhere and will have her back if need be. As a matter of fact, one of Madeleine's friends called here last night and asked Katie to stick up for her if any older kids hassle her. So, Katie gets to play the big sister role to some of Madeleine's friends as well. I bet Katie enjoys that role. Everyone wants to feel needed.

Today also marks the first day of a whole bunch of "lasts" for Katie (and for me). Today I took the very last "first day of school" picture of Katie. That felt a little sad. I've taken a picture of each of my girls on their first and last day of school since preschool.

Here they are on their first day of Senior and Freshman years:

Notice the shirt. All the seniors made them so everyone will know who's boss!

This is Madeleine's "nervous smile". She very patiently indulged my first day of school picture tradition, even though she was anxious to get going. Thanks, Madeleine!

And Away They Go....

My babies are off to High School. *sniff, sniff*

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursdays are all about taking the time to appreciate all the little things that actually went right during the week. I am someone who can get flustered very easily - even when the smallest thing goes wrong. So why not focus on all the little things that went right and be grateful?

Thankful Thursday is a little late this week, but better late than never, right?

1. Once again, I was able to go to the movies this past weekend. (I saw The Time Traveler's Wife). That's three weekends in a row. I don't think this has happened since 1991 (pre-kids). It was extra fun because I got to go with a girlfriend who had also read the book and loved it. It's always exciting to see a movie with someone who is just as enthusiastic as you are about it. Thanks, Colleen. I had a great time and I'm looking forward to seeing The Lovely Bones with you in December.

2. On Tuesday, Katie and I went to preview her senior portraits, which had been taken by a photographer a couple of weeks ago. I'm thankful that even though all the pictures were beautiful, one really stood out and was the obvious choice for the yearbook photo and for me to order as a print for our wall. There were actually three photos that we really liked and we were able to order smaller copies of the other two. So, even though this was more expensive than I would have liked, it was manageable and I felt like I got everything I wanted! (I will try to post one here, when I get them. Of course, I have to figure out how to use the scanner first. So, don't hold me to it).

3. I am beyond thankful and so flattered that I received the nicest email from one of the ladies in the book club that I run for the library where I work. She thanked me for introducing her to new genres of books and opening up a whole new world of books for her to explore. She has been getting recommendations of books to read from my library blog. THIS is what I love the most about what I do! Recommending books to people that they might not have ever heard about or read and then hearing that they loved them, too. Makes my heart sing! Thank you, Nancy!

4. I am so thankful to my friend, Mrs. S, for bringing me postcards of some of the art work that I had seen in Spain, but was not able to purchase before the Prado museum closed. I collect postcards of places I've been and art I've seen as a way to remember. Not only did she bring me postcards, she got me a bull (toro) charm for my charm bracelet! That's another thing I do. I collect charms when I travel. I had seen a toro charm at the market we went to, but I didn't buy it, thinking I might find something else (something that represents a place/event I had experienced in Spain. I did not attend a bull fight). Anyway, I never found another charm anywhere in Spain. I had asked Mrs. S if she would mind getting the toro charm for me, if she went back to the market. And she remembered and made the effort! I can't even really express how excited I am about that. My charm bracelet would not have felt complete without a charm from Spain. OK, now you all know I'm a complete dork. I admit it!

5. And lastly, I am so thankful that I was able to play Mah Jong with my Mah Jong group on Tuesday night. We have been playing every Tuesday (for the most part) for almost 4 years, but because of our crazy schedules we hadn't been able to get together since the end of June. That was a long dry spell. And I really missed it. It felt good to play. Even if I did have a horrible night and just couldn't seem to get my act together. Oh well. Maybe next time.

WooHoo, look at that list! I have a lot to be grateful for this week. And seeing it all laid out in black and white sure helps me to recognize that fact!

How about you? What are you thankful for?

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

As I've mentioned before, historical fiction is my guilty pleasure reading. I don't like all historical fiction (some of it can come a little too close to romance for my taste), but I've always enjoyed Philippa Gregory's books about the Tudor period. And I eagerly wait for her new historical fiction to be published. Her newest book, The White Queen, is the first book in a new series by Gregory which will deal with the Plantagenet kings who preceded the Tudors as England's rulers.

The White Queen deals with the time period in English history known as the War of the Roses - when the Houses of Lancaster and York were fighting for control of the crown. Elizabeth Woodville, a young widow with two small sons, catches the eye of new Yorkist king, Edward IV. She spends the next 18 years (or so) in the tenuous position of trying to help her husband retain possession of the crown. When Edward IV dies of an illness, Elizabeth must do everything she can to be certain that the crown passes to her and Edward's eldest son, also named Edward (of course!). This is no small task, as the King has two brothers who have been plotting for years to take the crown away from him and there is always the threat that the (defeated) Lancasters will try to reclaim the crown for themselves. Not to mention, Henry Tudor, a young boy who is the son of Margaret Beaufort, herself a member of the Lancastrians. Elizabeth does all she can to keep her son Edward and his younger brother, Richard, safe. But their fates have been a mystery for centuries. Even today no one is absolutely certain what ever happened to the "Princes in the Tower".

I was very excited to learn that Gregory's newest book was going to deal with the War of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower. I've done a little studying of this time period, and I've never been completely clear on the details of the war between the Lancasters and the Yorks. The books I've read have been non-fiction and I tended to get a bit bogged down in the details. I'm happy to report, that after reading The White Queen, I now have a firm grasp on the basics of that time period in English history! Of course because this is fiction, I was sure to go back and check Gregory against the history books, and I'm happy to report that in all the important, verifiable details she was accurate.

I will say, however, that there were some elements in this book that I didn't really appreciate at first. The very beginning veered too far into the romance genre for my taste and I was afraid that this would continue throughout the book. I'm happy to report that it did not. I don't remember Gregory's other books doing this. Maybe I'm mistaken, but if this is something new she is doing to draw in more readers, I, for one, think it's a mistake. The other thing that bothered me about this book is that it has an element of mysticism to it that I have never encountered in Gregory's other books. Again, this is a matter of taste, but books with too much mysticism or magical realism do not appeal to me. The mysticism was not gratuitous, there was a reason for it, but it still irked until I read Gregory's notes at the end of the book. Apparently, Elizabeth Woodville was descended from the "dukes of Burgundy who cherished the tradition that they were descended from Melusina, the water goddess. " So, there was a legitimate reason for this being included in the book. I felt better knowing that. The other thing that really bothered me about the book (until I read the author's note) has to do with the Princes in the Tower. I don't want to spoil the story so I won't go into any detail, but I had never read the theory that she presents here. She explains this in the notes and that appeased me. I do know that this is fiction, but I think that it's important for historical fiction not to play too loose with history. Gregory's explanation in the note explains why she chose to write it this way, and she does alert the reader to the fact that this element of the story is not based in fact. Good enough for me.

Overall, I liked The White Queen. Mostly because it gave me a better understanding of this period in English history. It's not my favorite Philippa Gregory book, but if you are interested in this subject or if you are a Philippa Gregory fan, it is worth reading. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the Plantagenet series.

I would give The White Queen 3 stars - I liked it.

Image from Google Images

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happily Surprised

Yesterday I blogged about the movie Julie and Julia, which I saw a couple of weekends ago. Well, this past weekend I saw The Time Traveler's Wife with my friend Colleen. Colleen and I had each read the book awhile ago and we were both excited about seeing the movie. I went in with low expectations, but Colleen was more optimistic.

I am happy to report that I was happily surprised! I thought the movie was actually pretty good. I had heard some not so great reviews about the movie as compared to the book. And the trailers for the movie really made it look like a sappy romance. This is what I was worried about. The book is so amazing and such a complex and creative story I was afraid that the movie would total butcher it. But it didn't. I will admit that I read this book a long time ago and don't remember a lot of the details, but I do remember that Audrey Niffenegger had written a very intriguing story about travel time. And not the usual time travel story of someone traveling back in time or to the future. The Time Traveler's Wife tells the story of a man who time travels within his own life. That is a very unique and creative take on time travel and time travel stories. And Niffenegger weaves a complex and multi-layered story. And the movie did a good job with that, I thought. Colleen, who has a much better memory of the book than I do, did notice some plot changes and differences between the book and movie, but she still liked the movie and thought it was a pretty good representation of the book.

In any case, I'm glad I saw it. And I'm glad I didn't let my low expectations keep me from seeing the movie. Oh, and one other thing. Eric Bana stars in this movie. Did I mention that I LOVE Eric Bana. Well, I do. I had heard that you get to see his naked behind TWICE in this movie. Bonus. Well, that's not EXACTLY right. You get to see his naked buns THREE times! What's not to love about that!
Image from Google Images

Monday, August 24, 2009

Me? A French Chef?

A couple of weekends ago Geoff and I saw the movie Julie and Julia. It was a really good movie and we both enjoyed it. It is a bit of a chick flick, but Geoff is all about food and he loves the Food Network, so this was right up his alley.

My friend Colleen also saw the movie recently and was hoping that it would inspire her to cook more. It didn't. She said it all looked like too much work. This struck me as very ironic because I hate to cook and it didn't even occur to me that I might be inspired by the movie. But while I was watching the movie I thought it might be fun to get Julia's cookbook (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and try to cook one recipe per week (on the weekend) with Geoff. You know, something we could do together. All of our interests are either solitary pursuits or interests we don't share with each other. This seemed like a good idea - to Geoff, too! He's intrigued by cooking and loves to eat. I don't like to cook, but it might be fun to do together. So I bought the cookbook and NOW I think it all sounds too complicated. Geoff was looking through the book and he was asking me all this REALLY basic questions about how to make the recipes. I thought to myself "OH NO! What have I done?" I thought HE would be in charge of this little experiment and I would simply buy the ingredients during my weekly grocery shopping and maybe chop an onion or two. YIKES! I decided to just not say anything and see what happened. Well, this morning something happened. Geoff asked me if I've given up my idea to cook from Julia's cookbook. *gulp* I told him I hadn't given up, but that I was waiting for him to take the lead. He didn't say much. Not sure what's going to happen now. We'll see. Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted.

Image from Google images

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

I've been a little remiss with my Sentimental Sunday posts the last couple of weeks. If you remember, last time I posted some pictures of Madrid taken on our trip to Spain this summer. From Madrid we took three day trips. We traveled by train to Segovia, El Escorial and Toledo. The first trip was to Segovia, which is a quick 30 minute (high-speed) train ride north of Madrid.

The first thing that greets you when you enter the town of Segovia is an amazingly intact Roman Aqueduct that was built in the 1st century AD. And, believe it or not, it was still in use in the 19th century! No wonder those Romans ruled the world!

There are several impressive buildings to visit in Segovia. The grandest is the Cathedral which was built between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Not only is it a beautiful and impressive building, it is filled with gorgeous paintings, sculptures and tapestries. A feast for the eyes - inside and out.

This next picture is of the back side of the Cathedral with a nice view of the tower. Unfortunately, I can not recall where we were when we took this picture. Maybe Mrs. S knows. If you're reading this, Mrs. S, maybe you can refresh my memory. In any case, I love this panoramic view of the Cathedral with Segovia laid out at her feet. Just gorgeous.

OK, next Sentimental Sunday will include pictures from our day trips to El Escorial and Toledo. Hopefully, I'll be back on track and they will be up NEXT Sunday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reading Across Rhode Island Book Nominations

On Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) nominating committee. This was the second meeting held by the committee to determine what book will be chosen as the RARI book for 2010 (I missed the first meeting because I was on vacation). At this meeting we decided which of the 29 books still up for consideration would be "short listed" for the RARI nomination. So far I have read 5 of the 7 books that made the cut and I think that any of them would make a fine RARI choice. (Of course, I do have my favorites!) I thought it might be nice to share the short list with all of you and you can decide for yourselves what you think of the possible choices. I'd love to hear your thoughts. It might be fun to see if the majority of bookworms agree with the choice that the committee makes. (And I can make sure to let the committee know what all of you think!)

The nominees for the 2010 RARI book are:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lhari
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

In case you are wondering, the two books that I have yet to read are: Skeletons at the Feast and The Heretic's Daughter. And I'll be sure to give you my honest opinion of all these books AFTER the committee makes it final selection. But in the meantime, I'd love to hear what you think of these titles. Have you read any of them? Did you love them? Hate them? And most importantly, which one do you think would make the best choice as the 2010 Reading Across Rhode Island book? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Image from the Reading Across Rhode Island website

Book Giveaway Winners

The two lucky winners (selected using of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory are.....*drum roll please*...

C and Colleen!

Congratulations! And thanks to everyone else who participated. I've finished the book and will be reviewing it soon. And I loved to hear other's thoughts on Gregory's first book in her new series about the Plantagenets.
Image from Google Images

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blog of Note - Forgotten Bookmarks

Do any of you ever check out the Blogs of Note that are listed on your Dashboard? I don't do it too often, but boy am I glad I did it today. Today's Blog of Note is Forgotten Bookmarks. It is fascinating! If you are a bookworm, you will be intrigued. Check it out.

Working in a library and handling all the books that are returned, in addition to those that are donated, I can completely relate to this author. What a great idea for a blog.

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursdays are all about taking the time to appreciate all the little things that actually went right during the week. I am someone who can get flustered very easily - even when the smallest thing goes wrong. So why not focus on all the little things that went right and be grateful?
1. For the second weekend in a row, Geoff and I were able to find the time to go to the movies AND there was a movie we both wanted to see. Miracle of miracles. We saw Julie and Julia. We both loved it! It's a wonderful movie. I highly recommend it.
2. And... for the second weekend in a row (!), I was able to spend a little time at the beach. I took my chair, a book (of course) and a bottle of water. This time I even walked along the beach from one end to the other. Ahhh! Nothing like ocean (OK, bay) therapy. Good for what ails you!
3. Yesterday I was able to attend my first Reading Across RI meeting! I've been so excited to attend one of these meetings. (I missed the first one because we were on vacation). There were about 20 people there. Most seemed very nice (though for some reason one woman in particular intimidated me a bit). Anyway, in true Pam fashion I probably said too much (considering I'm the new girl on the block). I'm not one to hide my opinions in situations like this. I don't mean that I was rude in any way, but I did present a dissenting opinion a couple of times. Afterwards, I felt like maybe I shouldn't have. Oh well. I didn't get on this committee to sit quietly and not give my opinions. (No one listened to me anyway)
4. Tonight I have book club! I wasn't able to be at book club last month (darn vacation, again!) and I missed it. I enjoy this group of friends, our night out at a local restaurant and discussing the book. I'm itching for 7:00 pm to get here. Not to mention I'm really hungry! I've been thinking about the wood grilled pizza all day!
How about you? What are you thankful for?
Image from Google Images

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Multiple Memes

There are a few weekly memes I follow. Sometimes I do them and sometimes I don't. It all depends on if they interest me or not. I haven't been very good at keeping up with them this summer, but today I checked in with them and there are two that appeal to me and I thought I would just combine them into a Multiple Memes post. Feel free to play along, if you like.

First a meme that is new to me - Alison of That's A Novel Idea has just launched a fun new Saturday meme: Show Me 5 Saturday.

Here is Alison's description of Show Me 5 Saturday:
This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week.

It will work like this:
Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3Settings where it took place or characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it
5 Stars or less for your rating?

Here's my Show Me 5 Saturday:

1 Book Read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2 Words to describe it: epistolary, charming
3 Settings/Characters: London, Guernsey, Isola Pribby
4 Things I liked or disliked: I liked that it was a novel in letters (epistolary), I liked that I learned a lot about the German occupation of Guernsey during WWII and how Londoners lived/reacted to the bombings, I disliked the predictability of the ending and I disliked all the hype about this book that didn't really live up to it - in my opinion.
5 Stars or less: I give this book 3 stars (I liked it).

How about you? What are you reading? What are your Show Me 5 answers?

The second meme is one I've done before: Monday Musings.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about movies …

How do you react to movies made of your favourite books (or even not-so-favourite books)? Do you look forward to seeing them, or avoid them? Do you like to have read the book before seeing the movie?

This is a very timely question since a book that I truly loved, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, has been made into a movie that was just released last Friday.

Sometimes when I've loved a book, the movie doesn't live up to my expectations or to the greatness that was the book. Most of the time, however, by the time the movie is released I finished the book so long ago that I won't remember if any details have been changed or left out (The Namesake, The Kite Runner, Memoirs of a Geisha). So, for the most part, I still enjoy the movie. If I've read the book more recently, I usually find fault with the movie, even if I enjoyed it (A Beautiful Mind, The Other Boleyn Girl). In general, I do like to see movies that have been made from books I've read.

If a movie is released based on a book that is still on my tbr pile, I will do my best to read the book first. For me the book is always better than the movie and if I see the movie first, I will probably not bother reading the book after the fact. However, I have no problem seeing movies made from books that I have no intention of ever reading . I sometimes enjoy light and fluffy movies, even though I don't enjoy light and fluffy books (The Devil Wears Prada, for instance). Or the movie intrigues me, but I have no desire to read the book (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).

Now as for The Time Traveler's Wife, I fully expect that this movie will NOT do the book justice. The book was complex and deep and from what I've heard about the movie the story has been distilled down to just a Romance. Of course, I read The Time Traveler's Wife years ago and don't remember very many details. I just remember being blown away by Niffenegger's take on time travel and how she developed the story of Henry and Clara's relationship. I didn't come away feeling as though I had read a romance novel. Yet when I watch the trailers for the movie, the impression I've come away with is "sappy, improbable love story". Oh well. I'm dying to see it anyway. The fact that Eric Bana stars in it has something to do with that. But, I'd see it anyway. And I already know I'm going to be disappointed. Oh well. 2 hours of staring at Eric Bana will be time well spent, in any case.

How about you? How do you feel about books that have been turned into movies? Love them? Hate them?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The "Eyes" Have It

As most of you already know, I'm 45 years old. Definitely, solidly in middle age. Yuck, how I HATE that term. Sounds so frumpy. And matronly. I don't want to be either of those things. (Though I suppose I'm a bit of each, actually). Anyway, until recently being "middle aged" hasn't really bothered me. I still feel young. I color my hair, I don't have too many wrinkles, I can keep most of my spider veins covered up most of the time and there's always under wire bras for a little "pick me up". So far it hasn't been too difficult to deny being "middle aged". Well, all that changed about a year ago. I've worn glasses or contact lenses for distance since I was 15 years old. But, suddenly I needed reading glasses. No big deal. I bought a few interesting pairs and off I went. But, I soon got sick and tired of having to keep a pair of readers handy at all times. I decided to try multi-focal contact lenses. My eye doctor gave me a few different pairs to try and said "be patient". I gave it a quick try, but then we went away for Thanksgiving and I decided I didn't want to bother with it. I decided to just wear my glasses while visiting family for Thanksgiving. Then I discovered something very interesting. When I took my contacts out and wore my (distance) glasses, I actually didn't need readers. I could no longer read with my distance glasses on, but all I had to do was take them off and I could read just fine. So, since last November I've been wearing my glasses and simply removing them when I want to read.

Well, of course, I got sick of doing that and once again decided to try multi-focal contacts. And yet again, I couldn't find a pair that gave me crystal clear READING vision. You can imagine how important THAT is to a bookworm like me. So, now I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. I can wear contact lenses for distance and put readers on and off all day long. Or I can wear distance glasses and take them on and off all day. Frankly, it's a pain in the @ss. And I'm a little sick of wearing glasses all the time. So what's a middle aged woman girl to do?

Today I had to take Madeleine to the eye doctor for contact lens "training" (THAT didn't go too well). While I was there I shopped for a new pair of glasses. I found some frameless ones that I like a lot. I ordered the frames and I'm going to talk to the doctor about bifocals vs. distance only lenses. Not sure how bifocals would work, since I see fine WITHOUT glasses. Would he make the bottom portion clear? Not to mention I've heard lots of people who wear bifocals HATE them. Apparently, you have to turn your head to see clearly - as opposed to just your eyes. You no longer have clear peripheral vision. Oh and bifocals cost about twice as much as single vision glasses. My inclination is to go with single vision right now, since I don't really NEED bifocal. I'm so confused! So in addition to ordering the new glasses, I also ordered two more boxes of distance only contacts. Maybe I can continue on this (schizophrenic) path a while longer.

Is it too much to ask to have clear vision all the time (like in the good old days)? Have any of you dealt with this "in between" stage? What did you do? Got any advice for a youthful 45 year old with aging eyes? I'd appreciate any words of wisdom you can give.

Image from Google Images

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Giveaway: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Historical fiction is my guilty pleasure reading. I absolutely LOVE Philippa Gregory's historical fiction books about The Tudors. I've read them all and waited anxiously for Gregory to publish each and every one. I was happy to learn that Gregory was spreading her wings and that her next book, The White Queen, would go back in time to the rulers that preceded The Tudors - the Plantagenets. I couldn't wait to get my hands on her newest book. Imagine my delight when I was contacted by Katrina, a publicist at Wiredset, asking me if I would be willing to review this book and host a giveaway here on Pam's Perspective. Are you kidding me? You bet I would be interested! Katrina very kindly sent me a copy of the book to review and has agreed to give a copy of the book to two lucky readers of my blog! In the spirit of simplicity, I'm going to make this very easy. All you have to do if you want to win this book is leave a comment on this post. I will choose the winners using on Friday, August 21 at 10:00 pm. I will announce the winners on Saturday, August 22. Good luck! And be on the lookout for my review of The White Queen. I'm going to be starting the book today. Hopefully the review will be up soon.

What follows is the all the information about The White Queen that Katrina asked me to post:


The White Queen
By Philippa Gregory

On Sale August 18!
Pre-Order here:

Preview excerpt:

Book trailer:

Book description:

Philippa Gregory, "the queen of royal fiction" (USA Today) Presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.

About the author:
Philippa Gregory
is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance. A writer and broadcaster for radio and television, she lives in England. She welcomes visitors and messages at her website,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Yesterday was my older daughter, Katie's, 17th Birthday! Whoa! How the heck did that happen? Looking back the years seem to have flown by. It doesn't seem possible that the tiny, fragile little baby I brought home from the hospital is about to start her senior year in HS. And that next year at this time, she will be getting ready to spread her wings and leave the nest. Somehow 17 seems so much more grown up than 16! I can only imagine how 18 will feel. *shudders*

I can still vividly remember sitting on the sofa with four day old Katie in my arms. I was an hormonal post-partum disaster and I was sitting there holding her and weeping. I was so sad because she was already "four days old". Even then time was flying by. If only my future self could have reached back in time and given myself a hug. I would have held on tight, eyes tearing up and I would have commiserated. I would have said, "Yes, I know. It's unbelievable. Your baby is growing up. Right in front of your eyes. Hold on tight."

And hold on tight I have done - for most of the past 17 years. Of course, I've had to loosen up the reins the bit over the past few years. And yet here I sit. Feeling the reins slipping right through my fingers. Well, I'm not going to let them go completely yet. I've got one more year. I'm going to take my own advice and "hold on tight".

Happy Birthday, Katie. I love you more than you can imagine. And as much as you need me to let you go now, I want you to know that I am always here for you to come back to. You will always be my baby.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursdays are all about taking the time to appreciate all the little things that actually went right during the week. I am someone who can get flustered very easily - even when the smallest thing goes wrong. So why not focus on all the little things that went right and be grateful?

1. Well after my rant last Friday about the nice weather and having to work all day, I am thankful that I was able to manage to spend some of my time at work outside - sort of. The library owns the house next door and we use this house for storage and for literacy classes. One of the things I do at the library is organize and administer our yearly book sale. The books that have been donated to the book sale are stored in the garage of the house. So, I decided to spend part of Friday "at the house" organizing the newly donated books! I got to spend 2 hours in the garage with the door wide open and enjoy the cool breezes and warm sun. Better than nothing.

2. I'm thankful that Saturday was also a beautiful summer day and that I had an opportunity to spend some time at our local town beach with a book. It was so peaceful to sit there on the quiet beach, by myself and just take in the sights, sounds and smells of the beach. Heavenly!

3. I'm thankful that on Sunday we were able to spend the day with two families that we have been dear friends with for a long time. It's been a while since we've been able to bring all three families together. Especially now that we all have busy teenagers. Well, all the planets were aligned on Sunday and we spent a lovely afternoon gathered in our backyard for a cookout and camaraderie. It was great.

How about you? What are you grateful for?

Monday, August 10, 2009

All the Lonely People

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from ?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong ?
"Eleanor Rigby"
The Beatles

I've been thinking a lot about loneliness in the last few days. Not because I'm lonely. It's hard to be lonely when you are a wife and mom to two teenagers. My life is filled with people I care about and sharing our lives together.

I've been thinking about loneliness because of George Sodini, the man in LA who shot and killed three women in a gym in LA. Now please don't misunderstand, I think that what Mr. Sodini did was reprehensible and cowardly. And my heart goes out to the victims and their families. This is without a doubt a tragic and heartbreaking event.

But what struck me about this tragedy is that Mr. Sodini was angry with women because he felt ignored by them. He claimed he had not had a date or been intimate for close to 20 years in spite of the fact that he considered himself to be a decent looking guy, who kept himself fit and attractive. And yet he couldn't find a girlfriend. Obviously, there is more to this story. And it takes more than mere attractiveness to attract the opposite sex. But, I couldn't help but sense Mr. Sodini's loneliness and his helplessness in the face of it.

Again, don't misconstrue my thoughts here. Being lonely does not excuse what Mr. Sodini did. And in no way do I feel sympathy for Mr. Sodini. But after reading this story, I couldn't help but think of all the thousands of lonely people in the world. The ones who have never found love or companionship. Or those who found it, but lost it and never find it again. In my busy and full life, I haven't given much thought to what it must be like to lonely- year after year, with no end in sight. It's a sobering thought. And it makes me thankful for the love and affection in my own life. Some days when I'm feeling overwhelmed and pulled in a million different directions by all the demands made on my time and attention, I fantasize about living alone with no one to please but myself. I've been rethinking that fantasy in the last few days. As I said, I've never given much thought to loneliness. But that was before I read about Mr. Sodini.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rant and Rave

The tagline of my blog is Rambles, Rants and Reviews. And while I do quite a few Reviews and many of my posts Ramble, I don't Rant a lot here. Well fasten your seat belt, because I'm about to RANT (and I may Ramble a bit as well).

If you live in the Northeast you are well aware that weather-wise we have been having a crappy summer. It basically rained from April until June and since I've been back from vacation (mid-July), it's been hot and humid. So, yeah, the weather sucks.

Now I'm not typically one to complain (or gloat) about the weather. Really, the weather doesn't effect me all that much. But when I heard our local weather person say that today was going to be one of the 10 BEST DAYS OF SUMMER I wanted to reach through the TV and wring her neck. Why, you ask? Because I have to work today. No big deal I know. Lots of people work. Yeah, yeah, I know. But you see, I work part-time. Very part-time. I only work every other Friday and it's only on those Fridays that I work a full day (10-5). And guess what today is. FRIDAY! So not only do I have to work on one of the 10 BEST DAYS OF SUMMER. I have to work ALL DAY. ARGGH!!!

What I want to know now is - How many of those 10 best days have already passed? I can't really recall any. Maybe I'll get lucky and still be able to enjoy the other 9. I sure hope so.

OK, rant over. Thanks for listening. I've got to go now. I need to finish getting ready for work!
Image from Google Images

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursdays are all about taking the time to appreciate all the little things that actually went right during the week. I am someone who can get flustered very easily - even when the smallest thing goes wrong. So why not focus on all the little things that went right and be grateful?

1. I'm thankful that I was able to spend time with an old friend on Sunday. We don't see each other much, but it's a joy to be able to spend time together.

2. I'm grateful that on Tuesday night when I had to run an errand with Katie, Geoff and Madeleine folded laundry and ironed some clothes while I was out! Can you believe that!? Unheard of! Amazing! Unbelievable. I thought I was going to have to finish up those chores myself and they did it for me. Wow!

3. I'm thankful that Katie is healing well from having her wisdom teeth removed last Friday. OUCH! Poor thing. She's almost back to normal now. Thank goodness.

4. I'm thankful that I've come to a few conclusions recently about how I want to spend my time - both here on the Internet and in my "real" life. I've figured out what I want to keep and what I can let go of. I'm hoping that this will lead to less chaos and more balance in my life. Here's hoping.

How about you? What are you thankful for?

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Musing Mondays (better late than never)

MUSING MONDAYS are hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page. Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is a library habits meme…courtesy of MizB:

Being an Assistant Librarian there was NO WAY I could pass up this meme.

Library Habits meme:

1) If you don't frequent your local library, why not?
I work in my library so I am already there, but even before I worked in a library I was a confirmed library rat.

2) If you do visit the library, how often do you go?
I'm at the library at least twice a week (again, for work. Though I do all most of my patronage then as well).

3) Do you have a favorite section that you always head to first, or do you just randomly peruse the shelves?
I don't do a lot of perusing any more. Since I'm around the books all the time I pretty much already know what I want to read next. In my pre-library worker days, I would browse the new book shelves and then I would pick a random bookcase in the fiction area and browse it until I had to leave.

4) How many books are you allowed to check out at one time? Do you take advantage of this?
There is no limit at our library. I usually have between 1 and 4 books checked out for myself at any one time. I also put my kids and my mom's books on my card. (As a staff member I don't get fines for overdue books). In all, I usually have between 6 and 10 books total out at a time.

5) How long are you allowed to have the books checked out?
Books check out for 3 weeks, DVDs and magazines for 1 week.

6) How many times are you allowed to renew your check-outs, if at all?
Items can be renewed once, unless another patron has a hold on it. In that case, it can not be renewed.

7) What do you love best about your particular library?
It was built in 1889 and it looks like a castle. The inside is full of stained glass windows, fireplaces, high vaulted ceilings and gorgeous carved wood bookcases. It's a library out of an English period movie. Idyllic!

8) What is one thing you wish your library did differently?
This is a tough one for me to answer. Since I work there I have a whole different "behind the scenes" perspective. From a patron point of view, I wish the library was larger so there were more areas for patron usage - reading areas, meeting areas, etc.

9) Do you request your books via an online catalogue, or through the librarian at your branch?
Both. I request books from my computer at home (just like any other patron) and also from work. It just depends where I am when I learn about a book I want to read. Of course at work, I AM the librarian, so I just do it myself.

10) Have you ever chosen a book on impulse (from the online catalogue OR the shelves) and had it turn out to be totally amazing? If so, what book was it, and why did you love it?
This is the thing I miss most now that I work in a library. Before I became a "librarian" I would browse for hours and rarely knew what I wanted to read ahead of time. I LOVED spending time lost in the stacks, browsing books. Pure heaven. Now that I work with books, I have a tbr list a mile long and I rarely browse. I know that I found loads of books that I loved through random browsing, but it's been so long ago I can't really recall any of them. I do remember loving a book called Three Women at Water's Edge sometime in the late 80's or early 90's. All I remember now is the title. I wonder what I would think of it today?

How about you? What are your library habits? PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with your opinion or link to your own Monday Musing post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going Award Free

Once again I'm about to open a blogging can of worms. Remember back in June when I wrote about Guilt Free Blogging? I really worried about offending my readers and followers. And to be honest, I did lose a couple of followers after that post was published. Well, here I go again. Just call me a Rebel without a Cause.

I don't want to offend anyone, and I'm beyond flattered and honored when one of you considers me worthy of a blogging award. But the whole award thing has become a little overwhelming. Especially deciding who to pass the award on to. I feel guilty accepting awards if I don't "follow the rules" and pass them on. And I would feel guilty if I didn't post an award that someone so thoughtfully gave to me. So, I've decided to go Award Free. Apparently, I'm not alone in this sentiment as Award Free buttons are available at Penniwig's blog. As of today, I've added an Award Free button to my sidebar. Thanks to Mary at My New 30 for this link and passing on the idea of Award Free Blogging.

Once again, thank you for all the awards that you have so graciously given me. I truly am honored. But your comments are all the "awards" I need. I always look forward to reading them. And thank you for understanding.

How do you feel about awards? Do you love them? Do you accept them, but don't pass them on? Do you ignore them? Are you too busy to follow the rules that are attached to many of them? Would you/Have you considered going Award Free? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My First Friend

Thirty-eight years ago I made my very first "real" friend. Sandy and I have been friends since I was 7 and she was 5. We met when my family moved into her neighborhood. All throughout our childhood and teen years we were pretty much inseparable. After we both graduated HS and went off to college, we still kept in touch and saw each other on school breaks and during the summer. Even as our lives changed and we made new friends in college and had less and less contact with each other, we still had a special bond. When I got married in 1987, I didn't hesitate to ask her to be my maid of honor. And in 1994, I was honored to serve as hers.

We really haven't seen all that much of each other in the last 25 years. For several years we were both living in AZ (quite by coincidence), though an hour apart. For those years we managed to see each other a few times a year. Now that I'm living back in our hometown in RI, Sandy and I see each other every summer when she comes "home" to visit her mother and sisters. Yesterday was that day. She and her 5 year old daughter came over for lunch. I invited my mom, dad and Sandy to join us since they watched Sandy grow up and she is like a daughter to them. We had a great time sitting outside chatting and talking about old times. Even though we see each other so infrequently we never have any trouble picking up where we left off. Which is pretty amazing - considering she is the first friend I ever made.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

Wanna see my vacation pictures? Most people run in the other direction when their friends pull out their vacation photos. That's the main reason I haven't posted too many from our recent trip to Spain. However, a couple of you (Anita and Gail) have asked to see more. Really? Are you sure? I took 302 pictures. Still want to see them? Since I usually post sentimental memories along with photos on Sundays (a slow blog day), I thought I would share my Spain pictures in the next few Sentimental Sunday posts. Today I'll share a few from Madrid - our homebase for the first 10 days of our trip.

This first picture is of the Prado Museum - a fabulous art museum chock full of amazing paintings by all the important Spanish artists. The museum was right across the street from our hotel! Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE art museums? Mr. and Mrs. S took us on a quick tour of the most important galleries. We saw fabulous paintings by Velasquez, Goya and El Greco. My favorite was a pair of portraits by Goya of his mistress - both in the exact same pose. One clothed and one nude. The story is that Goya kept them in his bedroom - the nude one underneath the clothed one. He was able to somehow switch them at will. For some reason I find this fascinating.

This next picture was taken in the Puerta del Sol - the public square considered to be the city center of Madrid. This statue of the Bear and The Strawberry Tree is the symbol of the city of Madrid. And a photo op for tourists. Some even climb it! LOL! I figure any girl who can wear horizontal stripes across her behind deserves to be in my family vacation photos!

The Rastro flea market has been held every Sunday in Madrid - since the 16th century! Isn't that amazing? Needless to say, Katie and Madeleine were in all their glory during our morning spent shopping in this gigantic outdoor market. (I wasn't too disappointed either). I bought a lovely tablecloth for my Dining Room table, Katie got a lovely sundress and Madeleine bought a great bohemian tote bag/pocketbook.

Believe it or not, this is the Post Office in Madrid! Not to shabby, huh?

No trip would be complete without a picture of me in front of the local library (I'm such a dork). This is the National Library in Madrid and it was a short walk from our hotel. It's a research library and we were not allowed to go inside, but we did peak inside the foyer. Pretty impressive!

The next series of pictures highlight one of our food adventures in Madrid. Geoff and I are both pretty open to new food experiences and one evening while we were at a bar enjoying one of Mr. S's favorite Spanish dishes (patatas bravas - spicy potatoes), there was a steaming octopus sitting on the counter right next to me.

Mr. S assured us that "pulpo" is actually quite good. The more he talked about it, the braver we got. Eventually, we broke down and ordered the pulpo. Guess what? It wasn't bad. It tasted like lobster! Imagine that!

No one was brave enough to eat the tentacle that still looked like a tentacle, but we did get a picture of me pretending to eat it! (Now here's an example of me being unphotogenic. But it's just so funny I had to post it).

OK, are you bored out of your mind yet with my vacation pictures? Luckily, I'm done with the pictures of Madrid. Next Sunday I'll have some from our day trips to Segovia, El Escorial and Toledo. I know you can hardly wait! LOL!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let's Be Friends

Earlier this week I was honored to have been awarded the Let's Be Friends Award by Sue at Book by Book. Sue's blog is chock full of book reviews and fun and interesting book memes. If you're a book worm and you haven't visited Book by Book, you don't know what your missing.

About the award:

Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.

I REALLY hate deciding who to pass these awards on to. Do the rest of you struggle with this? I'd love to hear from you. I always feel like my regulars will feel bad if I don't pass them on to them, but I also don't want to annoy them by ALWAYS passing them on (especially if they struggle with this like I do). Sometimes I'd like to highlight a blogger who I think doesn't get enough attention, but if I do that will everyone else wonder why they weren't chosen? I'm probably over thinking this. Anyway, there is one blogger who I've really been enjoying lately, both on our blogs and behind the scenes in email. I'm going to award this to her. And everyone else, I love and admire you all. You are all great blogging friends with charming blogs.

I'm going to pass this one on to:

FranticMommy the Queen of the Kingdom of Tired

If you don't know Frantic Mommy, you should check her out. She's got her hands full with two little ones and she doesn't mince words when it comes to the "joys" of parenting. I can so relate. Congrats, Frantic Mommy!

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