Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School Traditions

I love traditions. One tradition that I started when Katie first went to pre-school was to take a first and last day of school picture. And this year was no different. Except that this year, even though today was the first day of school for both of my girls, I could only take a picture of Madeleine.

As I was taking the photo, it occurred to me that I wouldn't take any more first day of school pictures of Katie. And it made me feel a little nostalgic. A few hours later, I was checking my cell phone and look what I found...

Katie had taken a first day of school picture of herself and sent it to me as a text message! She had titled the photo "first day of school". Is that the sweetest thing ever? I honestly can't think of a time I've been more touched by a gesture. I spoke to her on the phone later in the day and told how much I appreciated it and how happy it made me. She said that she knew I would be feeling sad and that it would cheer me up. God, I love that girl!

Another first day of school tradition that I started about 8 years ago, is that I spend part of that day at the little beach on the bay in my town. Usually I take my trusty beach chair, a book and some lunch. I sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the beach (one of my favorite places to be) and I stroll along the water's edge. It's a quiet, peaceful and serene way to catch my breath after a hectic summer. I love the sense of renewal I feel whenever I am at the beach. Here are some photos from today:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

College Move in Day - Stooges' Style

Well, I survived Katie's move to college. And I even did it dry-eyed! Can I have a Woot Woot?

It all went fairly smoothly, though in typical Grove fashion we couldn't have gotten through this big event without some blunders. It all started with loading up the car. We assumed we would be able to fit the entire inventory of Bed, Bath and Beyond's college dorm stock all of Katie's dorm essentials into her mid-sized SUV. And if not, we had our ace in the hole - a roof top carrier to hold the overflow.

We quickly filled up the back of the SUV and pulled out the trusty carrier. Geoff worked up quite a sweat getting the carrier on the roof and loaded up with back-breakingly heavy suitcases and bags of fluffy bedding. And then we realized that the "rain gutters" on the inside of the doors are not designed in such a way as to secure the carrier's clips. Of course not! (Blunder #1!)

So we emptied and removed the carrier and placed the groaning suitcases into my car. Yup! It took two cars to move one daughter to college. Of course it did!

Geoff and I drove my car and Katie and Madeleine followed behind. This configuration was, without a doubt, the best choice for Katie. Much less stressful to ride with her sister as opposed to one of her parents who would no doubt ask lots of stupid questions about her feelings about moving away from home. I was smart enough to know that. However, this might not have been the best choice for me. Geoff and I started out the ride talking about our disbelief that we were driving our daughter to college. And then I started thinking about driving her home from the hospital, her first day of kindergarten, the time she painted her body with blue fingerpaint.... and then I felt myself getting all emotional. So, Geoff and I decided to talk about what we normally talk about on car rides. His annoying choice of music, the fact that he didn't take the route that MapQuest suggested, how much I hate car rides.... You get the picture. (Blunder #2.)

The rest of Thursday was fairly uneventful. We arrived just before dinner, checked into our hotel and drove into the next town to do a little exploring of the area and eat. Not a blunder in sight!

Back at the hotel the plan was to take care of setting Katie up with online banking and opening the college sponsored debit account that she has to have for laundry and can use for pretty much anything else she will need around campus and in the town. (College today is basically a cashless endeavor. All the better to get you to spend more. It's all so abstract. Kind of like play money or gambling chips.) You may be wondering why we waited until the last possible minute to do this. Good question. I tried to sit Katie down a number times this summer to do these tasks. To no avail. I finally realized that she would be a captive audience Thursday night in the hotel and I would just quit stressing about this and do it then. What I didn't take into account is that the hotel would have an unsecured WiFi network which is probably not the best time to access your bank account and type in your password and identifying information. So much for eliminating stress. Katie was pretty stressed, but I assured her we would get it all done the next day on a secure network at the college. (Blunder #3.)

After everyone, except Katie (go figure!), spent a sleepless night, we got up super early so that we could be the first of Katie's roommates to arrive at the college. As you may know, Katie was assigned to a "built-up triple", which is basically a room designed for two in which they squeeze three. Three girls, two closets. You do the math. Also, the room would be equipped with a bunk bed and a loftable bed. Katie was determined to secure the loft bed. Even after I talked to her numerous times about the fact that she has never been on the top bunk of any bed, she is afraid of heights, has the upper body strength of a kitten (to quote Eva Longoria's character in Desperate Housewives), and it would not be convenient to just sit and hang out on her bed with her iPod or laptop - something she does constantly at home. No matter. She was convinced that she simply must have the loftable bed and we had to arrive at the college a minimum of 1 hour before the dorms opened at 9:00 am to secure her spot in line.

We arrive at the college at 7:30 am and approach our designated unloading area. Cops and college student helpers are everywhere. We are too early to park in the lot (really? what a surprise), so we were directed to line up behind a row of about 8 other cars (glad to know we are not the only other Type A families here). Since we are an hour and half early, I suggest to Katie that she and I go up to her dorm and see if we can find the exact location for Check in. You know, to insure that in the off chance one of her roommates is in one the 7 cars in front of us, that we will have the advantage of knowing exactly where to go. Because, we simply must get that loftable bed. Type A, who me? (Blunder #4.)

After our reconnaissance of the dorm perimeter stroll around the dorm, we head back to the line of cars. What the heck? Is that Geoff driving my car down the street? What!? Is that Madeleine following him in Katie's car?! What the F***!!! Madeleine is only 15 years old and does not even have a learner's permit, let alone a driver's license. OMG! She is driving past a line of cops! Holy sh**! I run up to the car and scream like a possessed woman calmly tell her to scoot over so that I can drive. She does, but forgets to put the car in park and the car slowly rolls forward right in front of the line of cops! Heaven help me. After frantically wresting control of the car away from Madeleine calmly parking in a new line of cars (now we are number 3! what are the odds that one of the other two cars holds her roommate? The car right of front us does have MA plates, though. Could it be Kerry from Needham?), I ask Madeleine what the hell was going on. Apparently, the cops told Geoff to move to a different area designated specifically for Katie's dorm. Since Katie and I (the only other legal drivers) were on our recon mission, he simply told Madeleine to move the car. Why not, right? He's let her drive our car around the block a time or two. By now I'm about to have a coronary, so I decide to do some deep breathing while Madeleine tries to convince me, in Rain Man-like fashion, that she is an excellent driver. Oh for Pete's sake, did anyone pack any Valium in one of these overstuffed cars? It's impossible to be sad, when you're one of the Three Stooges!

Figuring that we will be sitting in the car for at least another hour I turn the car off. Makes perfect sense right? Wrong! (Blunder #5.) I don't drive Katie's car very often, but I am aware that the ignition key can be a little touchy. Sometimes you have to wiggle it just right in order to turn it - which is necessary to turn the car on! Minor detail. Geoff had been struggling with it a little bit on this trip. Katie told him all the tricks - take the key out and turn it around, wiggle the gear shift, put your foot on the brake, wiggle the steering wheel. One of these tricks always worked - for Katie and Geoff. You see where this is going, right? At 10 minutes to 8, the cops wave us on. Geoff is in front of me, in my car. He moves right along. And guess who can't get the car started? At all. Ever. The cop comes over and I tell him, in the midst of my panic attack, what's happening and he lets the cars behind me go ahead of me. Nooooo!!!! We need to get the loftable bed!!!! WAIT!!! I send Madeleine after Geoff and tell her to get him to come back - after Katie gets in line to check in. Eventually, Geoff comes and rescues me and we move into the room - and Katie is the first (and only one) there and she gets the loftable bed! (Blunder #6.)

Why is getting the loftable bed a Blunder? About an hour after the first of Katie's roommates arrives and chooses the lower bunk, Katie decides that she doesn't, in fact, think having the loftable bed is a good idea. Really? No kidding? Where the h*ll is that Valium? Do they sell alcohol in the Dining Hall? Probably not. No problem. Just hit me over the head with that hammer that we packed.

In all seriousness, Katie was in good spirits when we left her. No one cried. The one roommate that we had an opportunity to spend some time with, Lindsay, is very nice and easy to talk to and seemed very comfortable to be there (she only lives 20 minutes away and that probably helps). We left the two of them in the room chatting it up and getting ready for their first hall meeting.

Two text messages one extremely brief phone call and a few Facebook statuses later, all seems to be going quite well. Though, I'm still waiting to hear if Katie slept on the floor last night!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

She's Leaving Home - Bye, Bye....

Today we pack up the car and drive Katie to college to begin her Freshman year. We are so proud of her as she takes her first tentative steps in the next chapter of her life. But, there are other emotions, too. Long ago I cut this poem out of our local paper and tucked it into my calendar for August 2010. It says all I'm feeling, so much better than I ever could. Besides, I'm crying too hard to write anything coherent.
Hold Fast the Summer
Hold fast the summer. It is
the beauty of the day and all it
The laughter and work and
finally the sleep. The quiet.
Oh September, do not put
your weight upon my mind.
For I know she will be going.
This daughter of mine who is
now a woman — she must go.
Time will lace my thoughts
with joyous years.
The walls will echo her
“Hello”. Her caring will be
around each corner.
Her tears will be tucked into
our memory book.
Life calls her beyond our
reach — to different walls.
New faces, shiny halls, shy
smiles, many places.
Greater learning — she must
But wait, before she leaves, be
sure she knows you love her.
Hide the lump in your throat
as you hug her.
She will soon be home again
— but she will be different.
The little girl will have
How I wished I could take
September and shake it, for it
came too soon.
I must look to the beauty of
each new day, and silently
give thanks.
~Author Unknown
Note: The poem was originally written for a son. I have changed the wording to more adequately express my situation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letting Go

Tonight feels very surreal and unsettling to me. It's the last night that our family will live in this house as a family full-time. Tomorrow we take Katie to college. Of course, she'll come back for holidays and summer vacation and possibly even some long weekends, but never again will the four of us live together in the same way that we have for the last 18 years. I have such a mix of emotions running through my heart and mind, that I can't really pin any one down. I'm so proud of her, I'm excited for her to begin this new journey, I'm worried about how she'll adjust, I'm sad that I won't be with her every day, I'm regretting all the things I've screwed up as her mom, moments of her childhood are flashing through my brain, I'm trying to focus on all the last minute things we need to do before we leave tomorrow. I'm overwhelmed and emotionally wrung out.

Right now Katie has four friends over and they are eating pizza and laughing and having a great time. And tomorrow that will all be over. All that comfort and familiarity will be gone and she will have to find her way all over again. It's sad and a little scary. I just want her to be happy. And I worry about her. It's going to be so weird to drop her off in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people and just leave. How can my job as her 24/7 parent be over? I want to continue to protect her and guide her and help her weather life's ups and downs. I'm not ready to let her go. But I have to. And it hurts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ahoy, Matey!

Ever notice how easy it is to take the place that you live for granted? Never spending time enjoying the special features of your town, surrounding area or state. That is something I try very hard to avoid. I make a concerted effort to experience and appreciate all that is offered here in Little Rhody - our natural wonders, cultural offerings, excellent independently owned restaurants, museums, and sites of historical significance. And until Friday, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of what I refer to as being a "tourist in my own backyard."

On Friday, Geoff arranged for the four of us to go sailing with a business associate who owns a 36 foot sailboat, Serenissima, which means The Most Serene in Italian (which my bloggy friend LindyLou Mac, of News from Italy, can verify. I hope!). As much as I love the water and the ocean in particular, I am not big into boating. I'm more of a beach goer.

Steve, the owner of the boat, was a gracious host and allowed us to steer the boat and work the sails. We all learned quite a bit about sailing during our 4 hours on the bay and in the open ocean off of Jamestown, RI.

But it was while I was sitting on the boat relaxing and looking out over the water that I realized with shock and dismay that I not been to the beach at all this summer. Or last summer, come to think of it. This is craziness for someone who loves the beach and lives in The Ocean State, for Pete's sake! And it made me wonder why. I have no good answer to that. But I do have a solution. Every year for the past 7 years or so, it's been my tradition to go to my local town beach on the first day of school. Just me, my trusty beach chair (which has been in my car all summer), a bottle of water and a book. This year I've invited my very good friend, Margaret, to join me. She is also sending her oldest children (twins) off to college for the first time this year. I though it might be nice to share this peaceful and renewing experience with her. Besides, I think we will both need a shoulder to cry on.

Here are a few favorite photos from our trip on the Serenissima:

The Serenissima









Beavertail Lighthouse
Jamestown, RI

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Mother of All Book Memes

I just couldn't resist this week's Booking Through Thursday question. It is a book meme to beat all book memes. It's quite long and I doubt most people would want to take the time to read through the whole thing, but I had a lot of fun thinking about all these questions and how to answer them. If you decide to play along, be sure to link up your answers on the Booking Through Thursday website.

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary

2. What are you reading right now?
Small Island by Andrea Levy and The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Your Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (playaway)
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt (playaway)
One Day by David Nicholls
Private: Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, London James Patterson (for my mom)
Ape House by Sara Gruen

4. Bad book habit?
Checking out more books than I can possibly read in 3 weeks.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (playaway)
Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (playaway)
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (paperback)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

I feel as though a disclaimer is necessary here. Tonight is my turn to bring books to book club for selection. Seven of the above titles are directly related to book club. Most will be going back after tonight. (Though I may read them eventually.)

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes. I have a Kindle, which I use on vacation.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have said one at a time! No way could I keep more story lines straight. But, I've since changed my mind. Right now I'm listening to one book, The Given Day, on playaway when I walk in the mornings and any other time I'm reading, I'm reading a hardcover edition of Small Island.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not at all.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Informed Consent by Neil Ravin

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not very. I will if the book is for a book club or for Reading Across Rhode Island.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I enjoy contemporary fiction with a little meat to it, but not too literary and non-fiction in topics that interest me.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yes, the only place I have trouble reading is in the car.

14. Favorite place to read?
Laying down on the sofa in my family room.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I don't own very many books and those that I do are my favorites. I am happy to lend them out, but I do want to get them back.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Absolutely not. Never!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

18. Not even with text books?
I never wrote in my textbooks, but I did highlight them.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English is the only language I can read in, unfortunately.

20. What makes you love a book?
Great characters and an interesting story that speaks to me in some way.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

If I loved it and I think that it would appeal to a specific person.

22. Favorite genre?

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
None. If I wished I read it, I would.

24. Favorite biography?
Night by Elie Wiesel

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes. Whenever I am faced with a new phase in life or some problem I turn to books for help.

26. Favorite cookbook?
I'm not much of a cook or a cookbook reader, but if I have to choose I'd say Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. A good basic cookbook.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

28. Favorite reading snack?
I don't typically snack when I read.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.(answer here)

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Fairly often.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

I do not like to give negative reviews. I prefer to provide book recommendations rather than say anything negative about a book. Though I have at times written mildly critical comments about some books. My main objective in reviewing a book is to encourage others to read it. And to encourage reading in general.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French, because it's the only language besides English, that I know a little bit of.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever was intimidating in the sense that I was concerned that it might be a bit academic. It was a little.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I'm not intimidated by any book, but I tend to steer clear of books that seem too "textbooky".

35. Favorite Poet?
I don't do poetry.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
25% of the time

38. Favorite fictional character?
Merriweather from Sleeping Beauty. I know technically she's in a movie and not a book, but she is still a fictional character.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Maleficient from Sleeping Beauty. OK, now that's weird. I've never thought about it before, but those two really are my favorites in these categories. I don't tend to get attached to characters in books. But Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney movie and Aurora is my favorite Disney Princess and I've always loved Merriweather (Probably because I am short, brunette, round and feisty, just like her.)

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

The hottest new books on my TBR list.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Four and a half years - between the birth of my first child and when I joined my first book club. I did read relevant chapters in parenting books and articles parenting magazines during that time, but no novels or books for pure enjoyment.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
There are many. The most recent one was Second Hand by Michael Zadoorian. I just wasn't all that interested in the story. Which surprised me because I loved his other book - The Leisure Seeker.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
If the TV or radio is too loud.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Gone with the Wind. I can't say that I think it's a great adaptation of the book, but I love that movie and I love the book as well. Scarlett O'Hara is a close runner up for my favorite fictional character. Another feisty brunette!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I think most of them are disappointing if I see the movie close enough to when I finished the book. If enough time elapses between reading the book and seeing the movie, then I usually am not disappointed.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?Not sure. I don't buy a lot of books, except for gifts. $50, maybe.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

I never skim books before reading them and very rarely do I skim when I'm reading. The only times I skim is if I am running behind on a book club book and I'm not enjoying the book anyway. I can only remember doing this twice.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I'm not enjoying it. And I may not wait to get half-way through.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
My fiction books are arranged by author's last name. I also have a section of a shelf for classics, for travel books and a small space for classical literature I read in college. My husband's books, which share three bookcases with my books, are not arranged at all. They are neat, but disorganized. And his books take up the lion's share of the space.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Since I only buy books that are my absolute favorites, I keep them. I don't buy books on a regular basis.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
I was avoiding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because it is not a genre a usually enjoy. But once it became so popular I decided to read it, so I could see for myself what all the fuss was about. But I still kept putting it off. That problem was solved in July when my book club chose it. Right now there is no book I'm avoiding.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. That book had me writing pages and pages of notes in red pen disputing his theories. That is completely out of character for me. Just the sight of one his books makes my blood boil.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Unforgiving Minute by Craig M. Mullaney.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
This year's Pulitzer Prize winner, Tinkers by Paul Harding.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Philippa Gregory's historical fiction about the Tudors and Plantagenets.

Did you really read that whole list? Amazing. So how about you? I'd love to hear about your reading tastes, quirks and preferences.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life's Archive

Recently my daughter Katie received an email informing her of her college mailing address and dorm room phone number. When she gave me a copy of that information, at first I wasn't sure what to do with it. Where should I record it? Then it occurred to me. I should put it in my address book. That felt very surreal me. My daughter would have her own entry in my address book. The first of many addresses I will record for her, I'm sure. More than getting her driver's license, or getting accepted to college, or turning 18 (which she did this past weekend) - writing her name and her very own address in my address book made it official to me that she is now a grown up. It caught me off guard. Recording a separate address for my own child really symbolizes for me that she is beginning her own life, separate from that of our family. Wow! That feels really, really strange.

After giving Katie her very own entry in my address book, I absent-mindedly flipped through the pages and realized that an address book is really an archive of one's life. Coincidentally, I bought this address book when I was a newly married young woman beginning my new life with my new husband. So this particular address book is really a record of my married life. I read through the names and addresses of both my and my husband's relatives, our college friends home addresses and then later their own addresses as they moved out on their own. And I even recorded the names of their children as they were added to their families. There are the names of neighbors and friends from our life in AZ, Girl Scout leaders, Bunco and book club members, and even a couple we met on a cruise and stayed in touch with for a few years. Some of the people listed there are no longer alive, but seeing their names in my address book brings them to mind and reminds me of their importance in my life. It was such a wonderful walk down memory lane to read those names from my present and my past. Many of them I haven't thought about it years, but there they all were. Reminders of my relationships and friends from my past. Which reminded me of all the stages of my married life - our first home in a rented condo and the friends we made there. The first home we bought and the women I met at the neighborhood playground. Right up to the newest entry - my very own Katie. And it occurred to me, my address book is really a history of my life.

A few days ago Katie came home from the local bookstore with a brand spanking new address book of her own. She wants to fill it with all her high school friends and relatives before she goes off to college. I advised her to fill it in in pencil, so she can change the addresses as her friends embark on their very own journeys to independence. Someday I hope Katie can look back on her address book and reminisce about her own life's journey. I wonder how she will feel when she has to write the name of her son or daughter on their very own space in her address book. My guess is that it will be a combination of pride and wistfulness.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Life: Work, Kids and Books

It's been a while since I posted and life has been busy. Here's the Cliff's Notes version of what's been going on in my life.

First, I'm no longer working two part-time jobs! Quitting my second library job was a difficult decision, but it was a good one. Juggling two part time jobs was just too stressful. And the compensation was just not enough to justify how stressed and overwhelmed I felt. Once I quit, I never gave it a second thought. It was definitely the right decision. I learned a very valuable lesson from this 6 month experience. I really don't want to work full-time or even more hours than I currently work. The job I have, while not perfect, is actually a good fit. And I've said this before but I'll say it again, one part time, low paying job is a hobby, two is a career. And that just sucks all the fun out of it.

Having more free time has come in handy in the last couple weeks as I've been busy getting Katie ready to start her Freshman year in college. It's been a bit bumpy at times, but we've gotten all the shopping done and Katie seems ready (resigned?) to go to college at the end of August. She seems a little less anxious now than she did earlier in the summer. She received her room and roommate assignment in July and was not thrilled to learn that she was placed in a "built up triple" (basically three students are put into a room meant for two. That means only 2 closets for three girls!). She has contacted both of her roommates on Facebook and one seems very friendly and the other is either not or very socially awkward. Time will tell. So far I'm not freaking out too much about taking her to college and driving off without her. I think I'm mostly concerned about how she is going to do - considering her level of nervousness. Again, time will tell.

Another reason why it's handy that I'm not working two jobs is that Madeleine had her tonsils out on Tuesday and I've been extremely busy taking care of her. We both knew that the recovery from this surgery was tough, but I'm not sure she realized how bad she would feel. And I definitely didn't realize how much care she would need. The poor thing is still in pain pretty much all the time (even with strong pain medication). She needs to take the medication every four hours around the clock, which means I'm up twice during the night. Plus bringing her ice packs, and drinks and trying to get her to eat during the day. It's tiring and heartbreaking. I wish there was more I could do for her. Hopefully, she'll turn a corner tomorrow. Everyone tells us Day 3 is the turning point. Fingers crossed.

In addition to all that, I'm also now reading up a storm for Reading Across Rhode Island. We had one meeting at the end of July and whittled the original list of 49 titles down to 11. We are meeting again at the end of August and I'd like to have read as many of those as possible. I have 3 more to go. One of which is 700 pages. Not sure I'm going to make it. Especially since I need to read two book club books before that meeting as well. Maybe I can squeeze one more in. A short one! Unfortunately, the list this year is not all that exciting. Nothing has grabbed my attention yet. I am happy to report that the book I nominated, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is still in the running, but it doesn't look good. Of the committee members who have read it so far, the decision is about 50/50. But so far, no one book has really risen to the top. There are a couple I like, but I have yet to read a "WOW" book. I'll keep you posted about our decision and the titles involved as soon as I am able. And, of course, I'll let you know about any must reads I discover.

And my most exciting news is that last Saturday I attended a book signing by the best selling author and Rhode Island resident Ann Hood. She was promoting her latest book, The Red Thread, which is a really good book that I haven't had time to review. Ann was surprisingly down to earth and looked like any other suburban mom. She mentioned in passing that she had attended the book club meeting of one of the women in the audience to discuss this book. I attended this event with my friend and fellow book club member, Colleen. Colleen suggested we ask Ann if she would be willing to talk to our book club. What a great idea! Not one to be shy or retiring, I walked up to Ann during the book signing and asked her if she'd be willing to do it. She didn't even hesitate to say "yes." Really? I couldn't believe it. She will be at our November meeting. Now I have to think of some really good questions to ask so as not to embarrass myself. The pressure is on. Truthfully, I think it will be awesome. Ann is so easy to talk to and open. I jotted a few notes after her talk and I think the conversation will be quite natural. Again, I'll keep you posted.

Sorry I've been MIA lately. I think about blogging all the time, but finding the energy and time seems to be a problem lately. Hopefully, I get my groove back soon. I do still read all of your blogs, even if I don't comment every time. Again, lack of energy and time.

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