Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

I'm finally going to tell you about the last of the three day trips we took from Madrid this summer - to Toledo. Toledo is south of Madrid and it was noticeable warmer there. It reminded me a bit of the heat in Phoenix in late spring. Not unbearable, but definitely hotter than Madrid.

Toledo has a strong Moorish history and we saw lots of buildings with a Moorish influence. We even visited an ancient mosque! I had never seen this type of architecture before and it seemed very exotic to me. I was unaware of this Moorish style in Spain and was surprised and fascinated by it.

This is definitely a more modern building, but the windows are a good example of the Moorish style.

One of the things that Toledo is known for is its marzipan. We visited several marzipan bakeries and tried each of their samples. We simply had to stop at the convent of Santa Rita and buy marzipan from the nuns through a small window with a revolving tray. Quite an unusual experience for a group of Americans. I even carried a box of marzipan back to the states for Mrs. S. She didn't trust herself to resist the temptation if she kept it with her until her return.

This is not a nun from Santa Rita, but it's not everyday you pass a nun in the street.

We also stopped in the Church of Santo Tome to see the famous El Greco painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. It is an extremely large, intricate and moving painting. Once again, photos were not allowed, but I've copied a photo from the Internet here for you to see. El Greco (The Greek) arrived in Toledo from Greece in 1577 and made his home there. His home is still standing and he himself is buried in Toledo.

Detail from the painting.

Self-portrait of El Greco. Detail from the painting.

The highlight of our trip to Toledo was our visit to Toledo's Cathedral. I have never seen anything as grandiose, awesome and fabulous as this Cathedral. It was beyond description. Photos can not do it justice, but I have added one from the web so you can get an idea of its splendor. The most exciting part of the the Cathedral (aside from the incredible art and the dead monarchs - you know I love that stuff), was that we got to witness a Spanish wedding in one of the side chapels! It was so interesting. The guests were as elaborately dressed as the bride. And the bride's entrance and walk down the aisle was very casual. No musical accompaniment. No hushed atmosphere. No "Here Comes the Bride". So different from an American wedding. What a wonderful surprise to get to witness that.

This photo shows one of the entrances to the Cathedral. As you can see photos just can't do it justice.

Photo from the web.

One other thing about Toledo.... shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. Madeleine were in heaven (she is a super souvenir shopper). That is until Amy and I found a small shop in a side street where a woman was selling the most gorgeous hand made table and bed linens. She and her sister make them all by hand. She was working on a piece when we came into her shop. Amy and I spent a bit of time in there and Amy choose a lovely pillow cover to use in her house. As you can see the girls and Mr. S. were not too excited about hand made linens.

That ends our visit to Madrid and surrounding areas. But wait! Our trip to Spain was not yet over (you didn't think you were done looking at vacation photos, did you?). After we left Madrid we flew to The Canary Islands (off the southern coast of Spain and the western coast of Africa) and spent 5 days on Tenerife. I'll tell you all about it in my next Sentimental Sunday. I know you can't wait! LOL!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TV Quick Quips

This week I tried a couple of new shows in addition to my beloved The Office. As I said before, I'm not sure if I'll continue with any or all of them, but here's my take on this week's episodes.

1. The Biggest Loser - I still love Abby, but some of the other contestants are also very appealing. Actually, most of the other contestants are appealing. Except Julio! What is his deal? There is an arrogance there that makes him very unlikable. And another thing... As I said before, I've only seen a couple of random episodes of this show so I'm not sure if this is business as usual, but the product placement on this show is beyond annoying. Do we really need Jillian to show the contestants how to pre-make snacks using Ziploc bags?! Yuck! I hate that stuff. Way too blatant. Will I stop watching the show because of it? No, I'll just be a little cranky during those scenes.

2. The Good Wife - I'm on the fence on this one. I love the story line of the wife of the cheating public figure husband and how and why she "stands by her man". And I'm curious to see where that part of the show goes. BUT (and this is a big BUT), the courtroom part of this show was very weak. There is no way a junior associate on her first day in a new law firm would be given a case and have to go to court THAT DAY! There are so many courtroom dramas on TV that the TV viewing audience is not going to buy this. After watching courtroom and law type shows for over a decade (two decades?) we are simply too sophisticated for that. So, I'm going to give this another week and see what I think.

3. Modern Family - OMG! This show is comedy genius! I loved everything about it. Loved the one camera, documentary style a la The Office. Loved all the characters and their relationships with each other. So many laugh out loud moments I can't even begin to name them. But when they wrote "Shoot Luke" at 4:15 on the family calendar, I knew I was going to love this show! I'm pretty sure this one's a keeper.

4. FlashForward- Well, I'm not sure about this one. I wasn't riveted, but I think I'll give it at least one more week. Seems like this show has the potential to be another LOST - in the sense that it asks more questions than it ever answers. And as much as I love LOST, I'm not sure I can handle more than one show that drives me crazy. I'm still watching LOST mostly because I've invested so much time in it and I'm stubbornly holding on till the bitter end. But I must admit that most of the time I'm pretty "lost" myself. I'm not at all interested in getting involved in another show like that. My pea brain can't handle it.

5. The Office - After the cold open with Michael and Oscar and the colonoscopy bit, I was a little worried that maybe The Office had crossed the line from awkward to offensive (especially after the Stanley storyline from last week). The episode itself however was pretty typical for The Office. I'm beyond excited that FINALLY we are getting some real information about a Jim/Pam wedding and it seems as though we might actually get to see one this season. Hallelujah!

While watching one of the above shows (not sure which one), I saw a commercial for another new show, The Middle, which starts Wednesday starring Patricial Heaton (Deborah from Everybody Loves Raymond). It looked OK, but since I love Patricia Heaton (my family claims Deborah and I are twins), I'm going to give it a try. I'll be sure to let you know what I think. I don't think I'm going to be able to keep up with all these shows, especially once my mid-season favorites start, but we'll see.

I'd love to hear what you thought of these or other shows. Any new favorites?

Image from Google Images

Friday, September 25, 2009

Best of....Books

Booking Through Thursday (BTT) is a weekly book meme that I stumbled upon a while ago and haven't really done much with. Earlier today I decided to check out the BTT question for this week. Apparently, BTT has been doing a "Best Book" theme for the past several weeks, in which you chose the best book you've read recently in a variety of categories (funniest, most serious, saddest, most entertaining, etc). Reading the questions got me thinking about my own reading, so I decided to do a cumulative post of all the Best Book BTT categories. Here are my "best books" in the following categories:

Funniest - This is sad, but I didn't really read ANY funny books. Not something I'm drawn to. I like books that have "substance" and pack an emotional punch. Is this a bad thing?

Serious - Now serious books, that I do! This is a tough choice, but I'm going to have to say The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. (The touching story of the relationship between a professor with serious short term memory loss, his housekeeper and her young son).

Worst - Darling Jim by Christian Moerk (Intriguing story idea, but not very good. I hung on till the end because I wanted to find out the resolution to the "mystery". Complete waste of time).

Best - The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. (I LOVED this book! Great story that takes place in Seattle during WWII and centers around the friendship between two 12 year olds - a Japanese girl and a Chinese boy).

Lightest ("Fluff") - The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. (Historical fiction about the War of the Roses with a slight romantic undertone. This book is really not all that "fluffy". I don't read a lot of "fluffy" books. Not really a style I enjoy.)

Biggest (size, popularity or other definition of "big") - The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. (552 pages, first book I read on my Kindle. It was OK, but completely forgettable.)

Informative - Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. (I learned so much about the first three Presidents who were assassinated - Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley. For one thing, I realized that Garfield could have been my soul mate.

Enjoyable (Fun, Entertaining) -My Life in France by Julia Child (I enjoyed learning about living in France and about her relationship with Paul. One thing I realized when looking over the books I've read recently, is that in addition to not reading many funny or "fluffy" books, I don't read a lot of "fun" books either. Wonder what that says about me? I'm actually starting to getting worried about this!)

Saddest - Still Alice by Lisa Genova. (Fiction story about a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease. Very sad).

First, I defined "recently read books" as books I've read within the past 3 months. I might have made other choices if the parameters were different.

Secondly, this meme scared me. I'd never really thought about how humorless my book choices are. But it does fit my personality - I'm not really a laid back, low stress, happy-go-lucky person, but it feels weird to see this in black in white. I think I might go to the library in a couple of minutes and check out a couple of Chick Lit books. Not sure I'd be able to read one without getting sick to my stomach, though. What a dilemma!

How about you? Read any good books lately?

Thursday, September 24, 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 usually don't have to attend a lot of meetings for my job or in other areas of my life. This week I had to attend three meetings and run one and it was exhausting. All you regular meeting-goers have my utmost respect.

2. I'm thankful that Geoff and I were able to squeeze in a movie on Friday night. For the past 2 weeks he's been on several short out of town trips and it's been very hard. He's always traveled for his job and it's never really bothered me, but usually he goes for 4 days to a week and then he's home. This time it's been gone for 2 days, home for 2 days, gone for 4 days, home for 3, and gone again. I feel like my head is spinning. Thankfully, this is the last trip (I think) for a while. Phew!

3. One of those meetings I attended was a Reading Across Rhode Island book selection meeting for 2010. We were not able to come to a consensus on a book, but we did narrow it down to two and thankfully one of my favorites is still in the running. (Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to divulge which two books right now). We will be meeting again in two weeks and I've really got to work on my arguments for my favorite. Especially since I really don't want the other one to win. (I think I'm going to have a tough time with this one, too). Wish me luck! If you are at all interested in leaving your comments for the committee on the 7 books that were on the short list you can do that at the RI Center for the Book's blog - Let's Talk Books.

4. Lastly, I'm thankful that the book club I run for the library had such a lively discussion last night about Crashing Through by Robert Kurson. It was great because this was a book that got mixed reviews from the members and the discussion reflected that. It was fascinating to hear how different people reacted to the book and to hear and discuss the varied reactions. The best part was that no one seemed intimidated to present a dissenting view and everyone was respectful. What an awesome group!

How about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Image from Googe Images

Monday, September 21, 2009

TV Quick Quips

TV Quick Quips are little late this week. My hope is to post them on Saturdays after all my weekly shows have aired. Also, TV Quick Quips are probably going to be a little random for awhile. Right now the only one of my "regular" shows that has started is The Office, so I will definitely be quipping about that every week. I'm not sure when the rest of my shows will start (some don't start until January), so in the meantime I'm going to try a few new shows and see what I think. I will quip about any I watch, but I may not continue with any/all of them if they don't appeal to me. I tend to get bored with shows fairly quickly. OK, here we go:

1. The Biggest Loser - I've never watched an entire season of this show, but I have seen a few random episodes and I must admit I enjoy watching the contestants (?) meet their goals. When I saw previews for this season I knew I had to watch. Abby, the woman whose husband and two children were killed in a car accident, really touched me. When I saw her in the previews I just knew I wanted to know more about her story. I will admit I was crying my eyes out when she told about how her entire life was wiped out in an instant. So for me, this show is all about Abby. I just want her to win. The woman is an absolute inspiration. (OK there was nothing Quick or Quippy about that. Sorry).

2. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - As I said earlier, Geoff and I had watched a few episodes of this show on DVD. Geoff had read somewhere that it was The Office-like. Well, after watching the premiere, I've decided that I'm not going to be adding this show to my repertoire. While the comedy in The Office is often awkward and over the top, the comedy in Philadelphia just goes too far. It crosses the line from almost offensive to offensive. I just didn't think it was funny. This show is just not for me.

3. The Office - This show has been my favorite TV show since it's second season (this is season 6). I will admit that season 4 and 5 were weak, but I'm just too committed to give in. I hope this season redeems the show for me. I thought the premiere was pretty good. There were some funny moments. I love the randomness that is Creed. And Pam and Jim are so sweet (I love the Pam and Jim story line). BUT, I did NOT like where they went with Stanley's character. It seemed a little too dramatic and serious for this show. I don't want to think about something so serious and upsetting in my favorite comedy. Awkward, no problem. Uncomfortable, go for it. Inappropriate comments, bring it on. But making a joke out of infidelity seems to be wrong for The Office. I will be curious to see where they go with this. I'm a little worried about it, though. We'll see.

OK, this week two new shows are premiering that caught my eye - Modern Family and The Good Wife. I'll let you know what I think.

Image from Google Images

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm Speechless

The following poem was published in our local newspaper yesterday on the Editorial page. Upon a little research, I learned that the author, Felicia Nimue Ackerman, is a philosophy professor at Brown University, is a monthly contributor to our local paper, and has had 23 letters to the editor published by the New York Times since January 2005 (among other things). I was blown away by this poem (please take the time to read it. You won't be disappointed).

So Lucky to be Here

My daughter keeps telling me
I am so lucky to be here.
She means instead of
in her five-bedroom home,
Which always has space
for another child
But not for a grandmother
in a wheelchair.
I am so lucky to be here.
My room is yellow as the sun,
Which warms my face
When I roll out onto the porch
And endure people
I have nothing in common with
Except age and abandonment.
For so long I dreaded
being shut away from the world.
But I am so lucky to be here,
The best nursing home
in Rhode Island,
Instead of where I would be
if people knew
That what killed my unfaithful husband
Was not an accident.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Did your jaw drop open like mine did? Did you immediately go back and read it again? Are you shaking your head in shock, amazement and wonder? I know I was. I love how I thought the poem was about one thing and all along it was about something else entirely. And I love how she basically told an entire complex story in the space of few lines. I simply must read more from this author.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child

As you may remember, a while ago Geoff and I saw the movie Julie and Julia and we got all inspired to cook together from Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Yeah, well, that didn't happen. But all is not lost, because the day I bought the cookbook I was also sucked in by the display inspired to buy Julia Child's memoir - My Life in France. I am happy to report that I had much more success with this book than I did with her cookbook.

My Life in France was written as a collaboration between Julia Child and her great-nephew Alex Prud'homme and was published after her death in 2004 at age 91. It covers a huge portion of her life and virtually her entire marriage to Paul Child. After seeing the movie, I was really curious to learn more about Julia and especially more about her marriage and relationship with Paul. The movie depicted their relationship as being a true partnership and an amazing love story. I was hoping to learn more about this intriguing couple.While the book did provide a inside view of their marriage and partnership, it was so much more than that.
Paul and Julia's relationship really was one built on mutual respect and collaboration. Paul was much more involved in Julia's work on her cookbooks and TV Show than was portrayed in the movie. And based on Julia's recollections it was a very supportive and happy marriage.

What I wasn't expecting to gain from the book was such an open window into Julia's personality. She was an incredible woman with fascinating views and a joie de vivre rarely seen. She was so open to new experiences, cultures, foods and adventures. She had an amazing capacity to adapt and a wonderful sense of humor. She was not one to get sidetracked by "bumps in the road". Rather she accepted all that life had to offer and lived life to the fullest. I loved this about her.

She also describes France, the French and the French lifestyle with such enthusiasm and love that it's impossible not to want to hop on the next plane to Paris and find a ramshackle apartment on the Left Bank to live in for the next couple of years. One of the items on my bucket list is to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time. I've always assumed it would be a French speaking country since I am familiar with the language after having taken 6 years of French in HS and college. After reading this book, it's definite. France it is!

There was one aspect of the book that was a definite drawback for me. At different points in the book, Child goes into great detail discussing her recipes and how she developed them. Since I'm not someone who likes to cook all that much, these passages tended to bore me somewhat. They also made me realize how technical and inaccessible the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking are. I wish I had read My Life in France before I spent $40 on the cookbook. Now more than ever, I am convinced that Geoff and I will never be able to make a single recipe out of that book. (I have renewed respect for Julie Powell. How she managed to cook at least one of Julia's recipes every day for a year is beyond me).

Overall, I enjoyed My Life in France. I would it give 3 stars (I liked it).

Image from Google Images.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is back by popular demand! (Thanks for the reminder, Colleen).

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, joyful and on the edge of my seat because the premiere of my favorite TV show - The Office - is on tonight. Can't wait. Also premiering tonight is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This is a show that I just recently learned about and have seen a couple of episodes on DVD. It's pretty funny and I'm curious to see if it's a show I will really enjoy. I'll keep you all posted because now that the fall line up has started I'll be able to post TV Quick Quips on Saturdays again. (Don't lie. You're all dying for Quips to come back!). Of course, many of the shows I really like don't start until January and some are cable shows, so who knows when they'll start. But, I'll take what I can get.

2. I'm thankful for the good advice and support of my close friends and my husband. This past week I had to deal with a sticky situation and Geoff and my friends really helped me decide how best to handle it. And I think that their advice really allowed me to get to the heart of the matter and handle it in the best possible way. (Unfortunately, I can't go into details here, in such a public forum. But, it's nothing serious. A tempest in a teapot, really).

3. I was surprised, honored and thankful that my oh so grown up 17 year old daughter turned to me today when she needed someone to talk to. This doesn't happen all that often anymore, and I'm so glad to know that when she needs someone to listen and support her that she will still turn to me. I hope she's never too old for that!

4. I'm thankful that the Mah Jongg class that I teach at the Senior Center has started again. I didn't realize how much I would miss those ladies over the summer. They are all amazing, interesting, funny and smart women and I enjoy laughing with them every Monday afternoon.

How about you? What are you thankful for this week?
Image from Google Images

Monday, September 14, 2009

Got Weed?

No one would ever accuse me of having a green thumb. As a matter of fact, I like gardening about as much as I like cooking. Which isn't all that much really. To quote my friend Amy, gardening is really yard work, emphasis on WORK.

Of course, whether or not you like yard work or have a green thumb, pretty much everyone can grow weeds. Even me. As a matter of fact, this year I never even mustered up enough energy to pull and/or spray the weeds that grow every year around my "flower beds" and my flagstone walkway. Oh well. At least they're green. From the street they even look they belong there.

Well, the result of this laissez-faire attitude is that this year I become a Master Weed Gardener. A few weeks ago, Geoff and I noticed a rather large weed growing between our hydrangea bushes. By "rather large" I mean it was about 4 feet tall when we noticed it. (I told you I hadn't done any weeding this year). It also had several clusters of what looked like flower buds on the top. I was already to pull that monster (even I have standards. Four foot tall weeds exceed even my weed tolerance levels), but Geoff suggested we let it bloom and see what the "flowers" looked like. Avoid yard work? Ummm....OK!

The wonder weed continue to grow, but the buds never did flower. Until yesterday. When I noticed that the buds did not contain an exotic hothouse flower but white fluffy spores - a la dandelions (which I'm disappointed are not considered flowers). You know what white fluffy spores mean, don't you? I'm going to have a veritable forest of 5 foot tall weeds in my front yard next year! (That's the last time I let Geoff talk me into shirking essential yard work duties!).

Needless to say I quickly tied a plastic bag around the top of the lovely budding mutant weed and pulled that sucker right out of my "garden". Maybe I am a Master Gardener after all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

I have been very negligent in posting my regular features Sentimental Sunday and Thankful Thursday. And last night I was reminded of this fact by two of my real life friends. So you have them to "thank" for this post.

A long time ago when I last wrote a Sentimental Sunday post, I was reliving my summer vacation to Spain. The next stop on this Sentimental journey is El Escorial, the second of the three day trips we took from Madrid.

El Escorial is home to the magnificent Monastery of El Escorial. The Monastery is so immense that I was not able to get a picture of it that can show the entire structure. Here are two of different sections of the exterior of the building.

Here we saw amazing works of art, royal apartments, and fabulous gardens. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the Monastery, but we did manage to take one of the gardens through the window (and we got in trouble for that).

One aspect of this Monastery that fascinated me was that it houses the burial place for the Spanish Monarchs. Again, we weren't allowed to take pictures (this one is from the web), but here we saw the tombs of many Spanish Kings and royalty. There are even two empty tombs waiting for the current King and Queen - Juan Carlos and Sofia. For some unknown reason, this type of stuff gives me a thrill. The creepier the better. I was fascinated to learn that near the tombs is a "rotting room" where the dead monarchs are left to, well... rot, before their bones are interred in the tombs. I was disappointed that the rotting room was not part of the tour. I know, I'm slightly twisted.

As much as I love dead people and corpses, I LOVE books more. No monastery would be complete without a library. And El Escorial is no exception. I was awed by this amazing library. This is exactly what my vision of heaven looks like! Of course photos were not allowed, but I just had to show it to you so I borrowed this photo from Google images as well.

Next week (I hope), I'll tell you about our last day trip from Madrid - to Toledo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Forgotten Bookmarks

Not too long ago I wrote about a very cool blog I found called Forgotten Bookmarks. Basically, this blog is written by someone who works in a used and rare bookstore and buys books from people. He/she then posts pictures of the "forgotten bookmarks" that he/she finds in these books. It's really fascinating.

Anyway, as most of you know, I work in a library and I also find "stuff" in books all the time. Since most of the books I handle are current checkouts, the forgotten bookmarks I find are not all that interesting. Well, today someone donated a box of (fairly new) books for the library's book sale and a forgotten bookmark fell out of one. It was interesting enough that I decided to make my own Forgotten Bookmark post. (My photos are not as good as the real Forgotten Bookmarks, but I think you will still get the idea).

Note card, caption:

Anastasia was through making out with Ian. He was never going to change.

Found in:

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis

** I really struggled with whether or not to publish the content of the notecard and the sender/recipient names since this is a fairly recent note. Obviously, I decided to do it. What do you all think? Is this a breach of privacy? Should I remove the text of the note?

EDIT: After receiving some guidelines (in the comments section) from the Author of the REAL Forgotten Bookmarks, I decided to remove the photo and text of the inside of the notecard. On reflection, it does seem to be an invasion of privacy. For the record, it wasn't anything especially juicy or illuminating, so you're really not missing much. The picture on the front of the notecard is what made the whole "find" interesting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Closing Day

For the past three years, we have spent Labor Day weekend in a lovely rented home on a lake in Bristol, NH with my Dad and Sandy and my brother's family. All together there were 6 adults, 5 kids and 4 dogs in residence this year.

It's something I look forward to every year. You would think with all these people and canines it would be utter chaos, but surprisingly it's not. There is plenty of room in the house to spread out and the lake is short walk away. Even though my brother and his family only live 1/4 mile from me, I don't spend all that much time with them. It's nice to have that weekend to catch up with Paul and Martha (my brother and his wife) and spend a little time with my niece (Julia, 11) and my nephews (Alex, almost 8 and Travis, 13).

I really enjoy our evenings spent playing games together as one big group. And, of course, we usually watch a movie or two. But, I think the reason I look forward to this weekend every year is that it truly is the one time in the year when I really do just relax. There is not too much to do in little Bristol, NH, so each day just unfolds slowly and I take it one minute at a time. Mostly, I sit on the lovely screened in porch (with a view of the lake) and read. Big surprise, right?! Or I take my favorite beach chair down to the lake and, you guessed it, read some more. Pure heaven!

But, I think the thing I look forward to the most is what I've come to call Closing Day of Ice Cream Season. At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post about Opening Day of Ice Cream season. Since Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer it seems right that Labor Day would be the end of the season. What makes it even more exciting is that Shackett's, the little ice cream/sandwich shop around the corner from the house we stay in, closes on Labor Day and on that day, starting at 11:00 am ice cream is FREE until it's all gone. Getting a super sized cone (they only have one size on Free Ice Cream Day. Heck those college kids just want to get out of there) for free on our last day of vacation is the highlight of the trip for our family.

It's always a big surprise to see what flavors are left and usually everyone can find something they like. It's not too hard. It is ice cream after all. This year when I announced that Labor Day was the Official End of Ice Cream Season, I was corrected by the Commissioner of Ice Cream (aka Geoff). He claims that he, and only he, can declare an end to the season. And since his favorite ice cream shop back home is open through Columbus Day, the season is officially still going strong. Ice cream, anyone?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Letting it All Hang Out

Have you ever censored yourself when writing posts for your blog? I know I do - at least a little bit. There are even a few posts I haven't written because I don't want to offend someone who might (or might not) be a reader of my blog. Apparently, this is a common problem because some genius has started a blog, Not on My Own Blog I Don't, where bloggers can anonymously rant and rave all they want about the people and/or situations in their life that irk, aggravate or just plain p!ss them off! This is a great idea and I'm sure it is very cathartic. But, now that I've told you all about it, I'm going to have to think up a very clever pseudonym if I ever feel the need to let off a little steam! I'll have to give that a little thought. Anyway, just thought you all might benefit from this site. I promise not to try too hard to figure out your aliases! LOL!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Book-Free Library?!

On the front page of today's The Boston Globe is an article with the headline - "Welcome to the Library. Say goodbye to the books". I nearly fell down in a dead faint when I read that! I couldn't grab that newspaper and read that article fast enough.

Apparently James Tracy, the headmaster at Cushman Academy in Ashburnham, MA, has decided that books are obsolete and the library at Cushman will now be completely digital. In Mr. Tracy's words, "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books". Somehow I don't think that if I ever met Mr. Tracy we would ever be friends. Personally, I do not believe that books are a form of technology at all.

I can understand a library having all its academic books, textbooks and reference materials in an all digital format. That makes some sense to me. It really does. Textbooks are prohibitively expensive and it would be a welcome relief to both students' pocketbooks and their backs if they were digital. Same with reference materials. Most people do all their research online and this actually makes sense to me. It's easier, faster and can be more thorough (if you know what you're doing. Please, no Wikipedia or Google. Use Reference Datebases). But Mr. Tracy has decided to discard ALL of Cushman's books - including the classics, novels and poetry. I beg to disagree with Mr. Tracy on this. Personally, if I had a child attending Cushman Academy I withdraw him/her immediately. I'm not exaggerating. A student should have access to books. Paper and ink books. Books they can hold and be immersed in. Sorry, reading Jane Eyre on a Kindle is just not the same. Nor is reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or even The Kite Runner. Young people today are already too connected to technology and electronics. Please don't take away their access to books.

As far as I know, not too many libraries are going book free. I think there might be a middle ground here. Libraries could be partially digital and still have books. I certainly hope that other libraries do not follow in the misguided footsteps of Cushman Academy's headmaster. If all libraries decided to go book-free, it will be a sad day indeed.

"A house without books is like a room without windows" ~Horace Mann

Image from Google Images

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

This past Saturday I attended my first Major League Baseball game. I saw the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway. First, let me say that I am not a big sports fan (and neither is Geoff). I do get excited when the NE teams make it to the play offs/World Series/Superbowl and I might even make an effort to watch one of those "big" games. But, regular season games don't warrant a blip on my radar screen. My mom on the other hand, LOVES the Red Sox. She watches as many games as she possibly can, but has never been to a live game. Not even the PawSox.

So at the end of last baseball season, when Geoff suggested we take the girls to see a game at Fenway, I immediately thought about my mom. Being the terrific guy that he is, Geoff readily agreed that we should invite her to attend the game with us. So, last January I had an opportunity to get tickets through the local Community School (on which I sit on the Board). The Community school runs a bus trip to Fenway about 3 times during the summer and the seats sell out really quickly. I was so excited to be able to secure seats for the 4 of us and my mom. I was dying to tell her about the tickets, but since her birthday is in mid-August and the game was on August 29th, I decided to wait and give her the ticket for her birthday. Which I did. She was so excited! And so was I. I had waited 7 months to give her that ticket! And then.....

Hurricane Danny! That's right. The remnants of Hurricane Danny came through Boston on Saturday. It was raining cats and dogs ALL day. The bus for Fenway left at 3:30 pm for the 7:10 pm game. In the morning, I went to Dick's and bought rain ponchos for all of us. At 3:30 pm we boarded the bus - in the pouring rain. Needless to say we were all disappointed. But, miracle of miracles, the rain stopped just as the game was starting! I'm not kidding! During the national anthem and all the ceremonial first pitches it was still misty and sprinkling. But when the Red Sox took the field - it stopped! Of course, it was damp and cold and we were all a little miserable, but my mom got to see her beloved Red Sox in person. She got to see the Big Green Monster and watch as the attendant changed the stats by hand. She got to see the entire stadium, instead of just what is shown on the TV. And she got to be part of the excitement of the crowds buying hot dogs, baseball caps, and hot chocolate (did I mention it was cold?). Not to mention the tension and excitement of the crowd during the nail-biting ninth inning (the Red Sox won 3-2). So, even though we all complained a little about the lousy weather, we knew that we were experiencing a once in a lifetime event with my mom. Or maybe it was a first in a lifetime experience. Maybe will do it again next year - on a sunny day!

Blog Design By Lindsey Joy Design © All Rights Reserved.