Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Today I am just proud of myself for doing something two days in a row! The weather is overcast and in the 50s so it's perfect.
I got my referral for physical therapy so I plan to start that this week. Physical therapy is one of those treatments that hurts while you do it and I am not looking forward to that part but I need my shoulder to stop hurting! And regain more range of motion! When I brush my hair on the right side it hurts too much to complete the stroke; I need to use my left hand to brush the right side (my hair's longish right now --- it reaches my bra strap in back to give you an idea of how long).
Various vacation plans seem to be setting themselves up: Colorado in June (visit K2 with CPA Boy and my pop), Southern California in March (visit Everest & his missus with Pop), Mendocino in summer too (Lady Chardonnay! I hope!). And I am not one who loves travel but I think it WILL be nice to visit family and get out of the house for a while.
I've already received two invitations for 50th birthday parties, one at the end of February and one in June. I am not having a party myself though. I did find a cake recipe I want to try for my birthday (I think it's called Black & White Coffee Cake, featuring vanilla and chocolate cake and white and chocolate glazes). I would also like to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. These are my "exciting" plans.
I think the Oscars are the weekend of my birthday too. Yep, the 26th. The Oscars don't thrill me like they used to mainly because I don't see that many movies anymore. This year I have actually seen a couple so I at least have something to root for!
Was it "Entertainment Weekly" that had an article about Luise Rainer this week? Anyway, I think they referred to her as the "last remaining link to the glitz and glamour of prewar Hollywood". I guess they don't count Olivia de Havilland? She didn't win her first Oscar until 1946 so maybe that's why? (Her sister Joan Fontaine is still alive too!)
Tomorrow may be "rearrange the kitchen pantry and put down the shelf paper I bought 2 years ago" day. We'll see. But the pantry is a mess and needs to be cleaned and reorganized. Considering I don't mind things cluttering the counter tops, I HATE messy drawers and cupboards! Weird!
Monday, January 30, 2012
For example, I read The Time Traveler's Wife several years ago. I cannot remember the characters names or specific details but I remember the basic plot, time contortions and the ending very well. I liked that book quite a bit until the end which made me crazy/angry. I still don't think I will ever read it again though. But that is probably why I recall as much as I do: strong emotion imprinted it into my head.
So what I'm saying is, I will eventually have no memory of the details of most of the books I have read except to remember that I HAVE read them. I think that is a function how one learns. CPA Boy and The Boy can read or hear something once and they never forget. I need to read something at least twice (and usually much more than that) before it has a chance to stick firmly in my mind.
In any case, here are the books I've read in January 2012. I read more than usual because it is a slow month for TV! I can think of no good symbol to use in grading so we will go with letter grades!
- Bossypants by Tina Fey (audio book)
- A very funny book, especially hearing Tina read it herself.
- If You Ask Me by Betty White
- We all love Betty White but I didn't love her book. You'd read something in one section and then it would be mentioned again, almost verbatim, in the next section too. It was not a deep memoir by any stretch. Cute but of little substance.
- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
- In 1933 FDR assigned William Dodd, a college history professor, to be ambassador to Germany right as Hitler assumed power. Ambassador Dodd was not the right man for the job, as the book clearly documents, but it was the ambassador's adult daughter Martha who really made the most of her social life while in Berlin.
- The "horrors to come" is not really the correct phrase to use as the Jewish population of Germany is already suffering, as are political dissidents and foreigners, including brutal attacks on Americans in Germany. Martha parties on amidst these happenings.
- Ambassador Dodd knew immediately that Hitler was dangerous but this was still in the age of appeasement so his hands were tied, making him an ineffectual diplomat.
- Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts by Anne Llewellyn Barstow
- I really wanted to like this book but it was not well researched. The reason I know it was not well researched was because the author constantly says, "but more research needs to be done". Um, okay.
- Her theory basically says the witch craze accused more women than men which makes sense as women have almost always been secondary to men in history. That and women tended to be the healers and midwives, seemingly responsible for who lived and who died.
- The only book I did not finish. Perhaps the book improved but life's too short to waste trying to find out.
- Matched by Ally Condie
- Book 1 of a trilogy.
- A dystopian young adult novel where Society decides everything for its people: how much and what they eat, what their jobs will be, when they will die (at age 80), who they will match with.
- Cassia is matched to her best friend Xander but is also shown a different match in Ky, a Society outsider.
- What will she do once she falls in love with Ky even though she's supposed to love Xander? I guess we'll find out in books 2 and 3.
- I really want to love these dystopian books but there is a certain sameness to them. Since The Hunger Games became popular we will see more and more of these trilogies (some predate The Hunger Games, of course) where a girl in a "perfect" society finds a crack and becomes the agent of change to bring down the entire facade. Just like Twilight and True Blood begat the huge sections of vampire/werewolf books for teenage girls.
- Do boys read at all anymore?! I cannot think of what my son would have read after Captain Underpants or Artemis Fowl. I guess boys play more video games??
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
- Book 1 of a trilogy (actually there are 4 books because he wrote another book that takes place years after the first 3)
- People are "uglies" until they turn 16; then they have surgery turning them into "pretties" where life is a party all the time. Until the next surgery to make them "middle pretties". And so on.
- A girl named Tally --- gasp! --- in a perfect society --- gasp! --- finds out about the rebels living on the outside of the cities and that her society isn't so perfect after all --- gasp! (Seriously, someone could easily design a story wheel covering all the possibilities of girl-based dystopian trilogies!)
- I liked this one more than Matched because there was definitely more action. The other books in the series should be here in the next month or so via Paperback Swap.
- Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst
- A police officer in Colma, California, the city where there are more people buried in its cemeteries than alive, is affected by a case involving a teenage boy and elements of the supernatural.
- The dead are aware and keeping an eye on Officer Michael Mercer because there are (dead) bad guys who killed the last cop.
- The book was interesting (I have family buried in Colma so I am well aware of its cemeteries) but I think the supernatural portion got short shrift. I wanted more in that area. If you're gonna go there, go there. In many ways it seemed more of an afterthought plot, a way to kill off the first cop.
- The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell
- Book 1 of a trilogy. I have the other 2 books but I am not sure I want to read them.
- A guy named Aaron goes to visit his aunt Kitty (who is only a few years older than he) in Ireland. A pig attaches itself to Aaron and finds a body in Kitty's yard.
- The book is more of a character study than full of any big plot. Things happen but he writing is abstruse so I am not always sure what they are!
- I am not a fan of abstruse writing so I am ambivalent about the other two books. Right now I am not disposed to read them when I have so many others to choose from on my shelves.
- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
- Book 1 of at least 2
- I wanted to love this book but it doesn't really END. It should seriously end with "to be continued".
- Unusual children are secreted away in time loops under their guardians. Jacob's grandfather, in the present day, dies and Jacob goes back to find the time loop his grandfather was once a part of during World War II.
- I liked the time loop set-up and the characters are interesting but I would need to read a sequel to feel completely satisfied.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
- LOVED this book! Two 16-year-olds living in the Chicago area named, duh, Will Grayson, come together and combine forces for a great finish to the book.
- The supporting characters are fabulous, some in the cliche sense. Tiny Cooper, one of the Will's best friend, is out and proudly gay and also trying to produce a musical called "Tiny Dancer". The other Will is also gay. It is a book full of sympathetic representations of gay characters as well as the usual high school problems.
- The ending, featuring the musical, was wonderful. I want to see this as a movie!
- I noticed in the last couple of days that John Green has a new book out called The Fault in Our Stars which is getting great reviews. I may need to check it out!
- The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
- Book 1 in a trilogy (uh, are you sensing a pattern this month?)
- Three children, Kate, Michael and Emma, are passed from orphanage to orphanage, always hoping their parents will return to reclaim them. Meanwhile they are the children prophesied to locate the 3 missing books of magic.
- Obviously this book concerns the Emerald Atlas. I assume the next two books cover the search for the other two: The Diamond Dictionary? The Sapphire Syllabary? We shall see.
- Someone described the book as similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events but without all the silliness. I think that's fair. Like the dystopian novels above, there are several tropes that make it into every fantasy book these days. Even the Harry Potter books followed certain fantasy tropes; that doesn't mean they aren't good!
- The next two books haven't even been published yet but I will definitely read them to see how the story goes.
- The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson
- I really had high hopes for this book but alas, it was not that great. Nothing really HAPPENS. It's just a quiet novel that follows the relationship between an elephant and his keeper in the late 18th Century. Then a final chapter comes out of the blue in the present day.
- A quick read but nothing that will stay with me past winter.
- The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
- This book is told from the point of view of a 12-year-old Montana boy who wins a prestigious position at the Smithsonian Institution (they don't know he's a child). The first few chapters lay out the story; the next cover his freight train ride (following the hobo code) to Washington D.C.; and the final chapters cover the Smithsonian stay.
- There are many side notes in the novel including pictures and graphs, all drawn and annotated by the hand of young genius T.S.
- In the middle of the novel T.S. reads a journal of his mother's, recounting the life of an early ancestor who originally settled in Montana. That part was fascinating. The story is a good one but I missed a final meeting with T.S. and his mother which would have really wrapped things up nicely.
- It's an unusual looking book, what with all the side notes, but I enjoyed it.
- At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
- A quiet novel about life during World War II. It's another book where nothing really HAPPENS but you get inside the heads of the characters. I always enjoy reading about how life was during the wars so that part was interesting.
- Unfortunately, not all of the characters were engaging and it wasn't always pleasant to be inside their heads!
- The writer had no relation to the actress.
- Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick
- Book 2 in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series.
- Four young girls (ages 12-13) and their mothers have a book club where they read a certain book each year. This year's book is Anne of Green Gables, which I haven't read in about 25 years!
- These books are really cute. I am assuming the author will continue with the series until the girls graduate high school so there should be at least 5 more books to go!
- The 4 main characters, Emma, Cassidy, Jess and Megan and their nemesis Becca act like typical junior high girls, just noticing boys and trying to fit in in their way. I am hoping for more character development for Becca though.
- Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler
- Book 1 in the Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery series.
- I somehow picked up book 6 of this series (The Victoria Vanishes) a while ago and really thought it was fun so I am going back to the beginning!
- The 2 lead detectives, Bryant & May, are ages 82 and 79 so they're a little different than some other mystery series protagonists!
- The story covers a modern day bombing and looks back to Bryant & May's first case, a kind of Phantom of the Opera murder spree.
- Some things I saw coming but not all. Plus Bryant is a curmudgeonly hoot. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.
- A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- I read another book of Egan's called The Keep which I didn't really like so I was not disposed to read more of her work. But this one kept popping up with good reviews (and it won a Pulitzer Prize last year) so I took a chance.
- It's a novel made up of short stories (like Olive Kitteridge, if you've read that one) centering around a couple of main characters in the music business.
- Some characters are more interesting than others so some chapters are great and some good.
- The novel starts off in its current day of 2006 and proceeds to jump back and forth in time. The character Sasha is 35; Bennie is 44. Since the book starts with Sasha I was more intrigued by her at first than by Bennie. Then I realized that Bennie is MY age so became more intrigued by him (he's considered "old" in the music world).
- 16 books read
- 1 incomplete (non-fiction/history)
- 3 non-fiction
- 2 autobiographies/biographies
- 1 history
- 13 fiction
- 7 young adult/children
- 1 mystery
- 5 general (not sure what a good term should be: literary? other?)
- A: 3 (2 A+, 1 A)
- B: 9 (5 B+, 2 B, 2 B-)
- C: 4 (0 C+, 2 C, 2 C-)
- Incomplete: 1
- In process: 0
Oh, and I went for a short walk today, only 20 minutes, and I met a neighbor down the street who was very sweet. Yay, exercise!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I still need to write up part 3 of my "Places I've Lived, Places I've Loved" for the college years. I want to do it justice and not just rush it out. Interesting how the college years still loom so large in my memories and it totals such a small percentage of my life. And I was in college for over 6 years! (Don't change schools and don't change majors more than once!)
It is amazing how quickly one gets used to a new routine. My son, an adult 18, has a girlfriend that he gets together with every day. They also get together with friends. This means he gets home most nights about midnight and weekend nights about 2 a.m. I really thought I would never be able to sleep until he got home. I was wrong.
Our system is that I leave the hall light on (I can see it from my bedroom) so I know if he's come home or not. I added having him come in and pat me awake to let me know he's home. This seems to work well.
I want The Boy to always be safe. I no longer have the power to make that happen (if I ever really did in the first place!) and I need to let go.
I am coping well. So far. (His girlfriend is very nice by the way!)
I have read a TON of books this month and am anxious to write up my January Book Roundup! I was trying to decide on what symbol to use for ratings. I started with K! Of course. But that leads to my inevitable question, "How do I use 3 K's together without showing up on some Nazi watchdog site?" I will think of something else before Wednesday.
I haven't lost any more weight to speak of but I seem to be where I was two years ago and I think my body thinks this is its old normal weight. I'm at some sort of plateau. Time to work harder and make some progress.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
- My parents' house in Petaluma, 1986-1987
- I won't list the address as Dad still lives there now.
- Interestingly, even though we moved several times when I was growing up, once my parents bought this house in 1985 they stayed put. This is the place they have lived for the longest period in their lives.
- Coddingtown Mall Apartments, Range Avenue, Santa Rosa, California, 1987-1990
- My very first place!
- I actually tried renting an apartment in Rohnert Park at an earlier date but there was a shooting and I only stayed a couple of weeks. I am not counting it for purposes of a separate entry!
- It would get VERY hot in the summer (no AC) and VERY cold in the winter (I was poor/cheap).
- I had some old furniture of my parents: my brothers' old bunk bed set (I just set the beds up separately), dresser and the old orange plaid couch.
- I need to find a picture of that couch! It was really loud but it was very comfortable and it lasted forever. Eventually each of my brothers also got use from it.
- It ended up abandoned on a curb at some point about 20 years or so ago!
- This is where I was living when I began dating CPA Boy (he was Teller Boy then)
- The Villages Apartments, Bay Village Circle, Santa Rosa, California, 1990-1991 (floorplan above)
- Our first apartment as a couple "living in sin". It was a brand-new complex, parts of which were still being constructed.
- This is where I learned to keep my towel on after a shower rather than walking to the bedroom naked. I was showering before work and as I left the bathroom (not wearing contacts or glasses OR ANYTHING ELSE) I saw someone standing in the doorway. I ran screaming back into the bathroom, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" It was CPA Boy, returning briefly to the apartment after an early work meeting. Now I ALWAYS wear my towel until it's time to get dressed.
- We had a one year lease but we got out of it early. The manager told us that a lot of parents cosigned leases to get their kids out of the house. Consequently it was party central most nights. Also, our neighbors had an abusive relationship and we would hear screaming and crying through the wall. The police came out quite often but there was nothing they could do without the woman pressing charges. Awful.
- Oak Creek Apartments, Graylawn Avenue, Petaluma, California, 1991-1993 (above)
- In the picture you can see the stairway on the left. Our apartment was upstairs on the left side so almost out of the frame (the kitchen wall is the extreme left). I used to park in the space just to the right of the parked car straight ahead. I know it's hard to see, sorry.
- We got married from this apartment. I also got pregnant here. Lots of milestones!
- It was a one bedroom place, which is why we moved once I got pregnant, and was perfectly roomy. It was very quiet here. The managers were nice.
- The only real flaw was that our apartment had no real windows, only a sliding glass door off the bedroom and the living room. The rooms were always dark.
- We bought the futon/sofa for this place, our first piece of furniture bought together!
- Parkside Apartments, Arlen Drive, Rohnert Park, California, 1993-1995
- We moved here because CPA Boy's grandparents were the managers and there was a 2-bedroom apartment available.
- It was mostly quiet although one resident used to play his music really loud when he worked on his car. Which was always. And another neighbor had middle of the night screaming matches with her boyfriend. I actually had to call the police once because she kept screaming she wanted to kill him. She was beating him with a broom. Fun times.
- The laundry room was right down stairs which was convenient.
- Once Grandpa and Grandma retired things went downhill pretty quickly and we moved away.
- We DID live next door to a park. One of the benefits of living in Rohnert Park was that most neighborhoods had a park with a public pool.
- Emerald Pointe Apartments, Camino Collegio, Rohnert Park, California, 1995-1996
- Another brand-new apartment complex. It was okay, kind of a weigh (way?) station before CPA Boy finished college and we had saved up enough for a house.
- This apartment was downstairs and it always sounded like our upstairs neighbor was playing soccer in the living room.
- One weird and annoying thing was that this apartment complex had some sort of deal that required us to use some odd phone company. We couldn't use Pacific Bell.
- Peach Court, Santa Rosa, California, 1996-1998
- Our first house!
- Brand-new, 3-bedroom, 2 story for $140,000 ($144,000?).
- In hindsight, we should have waited before buying a house. CPA Boy was not yet working for a CPA firm so what we could afford was based on my salary and we could have done better had we waited.
- The neighborhood was not a good one but Peach Court was kind of isolated due to it's large cul-de-sac which had one entry point. Our house was on a side street to the cul-de-sac where we shared a main driveway with 3 other houses.
- Our neighbor across the street had a son in his early 20s with a pickup truck he always parked in the shared driveway which then blocked my car in the garage. He also had an unleashed rottweiler. We were doing yard work one day and the dog came out so I headed into the garage to go inside. The dog got between me and the garage and growled at me. CPA Boy grabbed the dog by the collar and dragged him across the street where the guy yelled at him not to touch his dog.
- I am PETRIFIED of large dogs (not a big fan of small ones either) and this was the last straw. We put the house up for sale within a week. Not to mention all the dog poo that was killing our lawn. Also it was almost time for The Boy to start school and we didn't want to stay in a bad neighborhood for that.
- The real estate agent was awful though. She was recommended by a co-worker and we foolishly signed with her.
- She was told to leave me alone on Academy Awards night (my Superbowl) and she showed up anyway.
- She signed us and then immediately took a couple of weeks off to get some (elective) plastic surgery.
- She took her daughter with us on house tours. Our 5-year-old son was allowed to touch nothing (I wouldn't let him, as a responsible parent) but the agent's daughter (about 8 or 9 years old) opened every drawer and touched everything, including a pool table at one place.
- She did not seem to understand what we were looking for in a new house. We wanted a 3 bedroom house with a living room and family room OR a 4 bedroom house with or without a family room. The goal was to have office space each for me and for CPA Boy.
- She only took us to 3 bedroom places with a living room and no family rooms.
- We started looking on our own and lucked into a real estate agent we continue to use to this day. All worked out in the end.
- Montecito Pines Apartments, Montecito Blvd, Santa Rosa, California, 1998
- We lived here for one month because we sold Peach Court before we could close on the next house. CPA Boy's sister and her husband were managing this complex and had an apartment available.
- We put almost everything into storage and lived with the bare necessities.
- It was so much warmer on this side of town than at Peach Court, like 10 degrees more! The Boy was able to spend time with his cousins while we stayed here.
- Searles Way, Petaluma, California, 1998-2009
- The longest time I have ever lived in one place, eleven years!
- This was another place where 4 houses shared one main driveway. This is one of the things we never plan to have again in any future house.
- Our house was behind the front one so out house didn't really have a pretty facade. The paint colors were "Tumbleweed" for the body and "Brown Owl" for the trim so you can see it was pretty blah. (Who wants a house the color of a tumbleweed?!)
- The Boy started kindergarten at a school that had opened up the year before. He went there for 7 years and by the time he started 7th grade the new junior high had opened up within easy walking distance of our house. Carpool only really started for me during the high school years (not counting some rainy days during junior high).
- We decided to move because real estate prices plummeted (you may have heard something about the economy tanking a few years back...) and we thought we could get a nicer house for cheap. So we moved to...
- Adobe Creek neighborhood, Petaluma, California, 2009-????
- The above picture is not our house but that is the same basic model. There are about 40 similar houses out of 300 total.
- We have a nice house on a golf course. We are lucky to be far enough away from the tee that flying golf balls are not really an issue. We ARE right next to the path and crosswalk for golfers though so we get to hear a lot of golf carts screeching to a stop.
- The master bedroom and one of the other bedrooms are both downstairs which is great because CPA Boy is not good on stairs. He uses the downstairs bedroom as his office/rat sanctuary. The Boy and I are upstairs: him in his bedroom and me in my office.
- Real estate prices have not risen at all so we may be here a while. The Boy seems in no hurry to move out. It may be years before I have a guest room!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
It all started in New Orleans, Louisiana...
- Chestnut Street (above), 1962
- My very first home, it was my grandparents' house. Dad was still in California when I was born so this is where I started out. (My mom grew up here too.) I loved this house.
- We spent a lot of time visiting here over my childhood years. My brother Everest and I spent hours playing all over the house and yard. There were heavy Venetian blinds; window air conditioner units in some of the rooms (and dragging heat & humidity in the rooms without); wardrobes, chifforobes, and cedar chests; closets; vanity tables; high ceilings; cabinets full of knickknacks; chest of drawers full of things like empty spice or medicine bottles and old TV Guides (Ev and I especially loved this last item; my grandparents' lived through the Depression and saved a lot of things that might be useful later); an old record payer and records; an old freezer used as storage for scotch tape, Wrigley's gum, and a multitude of other things fun for a child to explore; a pantry full of crates of bottled sodas; 2 fig trees great for climbing; a swingset; a storage unit out back that was later turned into a small apartment; a screened in front porch; and so much more.
- The house was sold in 1993 after my grandfather died. The new owners remodeled extensively so the house looks very different today, inside and out.
- Several apartments and houses, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1962-1967
- There are 5 listed in my baby book but I have no real memories of them, only fragments.
- Dixon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
- I remember this house more clearly. I think we moved there when I was about 4. It was very close to the Sunbeam Bread factory so it always smelled like fresh-baked bread. I also remember our next door neighbor, Mrs. Pinkus, an elderly woman who would come over and spend time with us. I don't remember what she looked like but she was very kind. We lived here during Hurricane Betsy but we were at my grandparents' house for the duration of the storm (the Chestnut house lost a few chimneys that night; there are photos of the aftermath somewhere).
- Pirate Drive, Chalmette, Louisiana (above), 1967-1974
- Until my last house, this is the place I lived longest, seven years, from 5 to 12 years. It was not a very large house but I had my own room and, eventually, a double bed!
- You can just see the smoke pouring out of the top of the house. This was the Kaiser Aluminum plant a short distance away. We called it the smokestack and used it to tell which way the wind was blowing. No doubt the filth emitted has shortened the lives of many Chalmette citizens.
- The house was white brick with pink (!) mortar. There were many lizards that changed color (I think they were anoles; thanks Wikipedia!), and lots of frogs and toads. This tiny green frog used to hang out on the living room window. We named him Greenie. One night there were two frogs and it looked like they kissed. We called the other frog Greenie's girlfriend. After Hurricane Camille we never saw any of these frogs again.
- During heavy rains the street would flood (you can see the storm drain just in front of the mailbox) and the water level would reach almost up to the front door. The street looks pretty wide in the photo but if a car parked on each side there was just enough room for a third car to pass by.
- We briefly moved to a duplex elsewhere in Chalmette and put this house up for sale. My parents changed their minds and since the house hadn't sold yet we moved back after three weeks.
- This house no longer exists, having been torn down in 2006 due to major damage from Hurricane Katrina.
- Ralston Avenue, Burlingame, California, 1974-1976
- This was a small house we rented. It was a half block from Hillsborough, a rich enclave of Burlingame. Ev and I spent many hours exploring the creek as it ran up through Hillsborough. The house had a small basement that was alternately creepy and fascinating. It also had an attic that contained a bed and desk. We would have played up there but my mom had a fear of climbing the ladder so she wouldn't let us up there either.
- There was a great tree out back that had some great branches for climbing and sitting.
- Our next door neighbors had a pool so we got to hear a LOT of "Marco!" and "Polo!" every summer.
- California, compared to tropical Louisiana, was COLD by comparison. Interestingly, it got MUCH colder in Louisiana in the winter than it does in the Bay Area. Both places had an equal chance at snow, that is to say we rarely had any snow to speak of, but we did get snow while we lived in Burlingame.
- Robinson Road, Sonoma, California, (above) 1976-1979
- Our first 4-bedroom house! Here is where my high school years began. I also had a pet rabbit named Sylvester. It was about 2 miles to the high school. I either rode my bike or my dad gave me a ride. Then I walked or biked home.
- My room was painted a light green and I had a desk that looked out onto the backyard. This is when I REALLY began to be a voracious reader.
- I wouldn't say I was happy here overall but I have some good memories of high school where I was active on the school paper and in drama. For example, I played a little blind girl in "The Miracle Worker" but not THE little blind girl! Said I to Annie Sullivan, "We hear you're goin' where the sun is FIERCE."
- West Beach Parkway, Mandeville, Louisiana, 1979
- We moved back to Louisiana because Dad had a job opportunity. This was a cute little house we rented before my parents bought the next house on the list. It was small (only 2 bedrooms) and old-fashioned (the tub had claw feet and there was a small bedroom off the kitchen where perhaps a live-in servant was supposed to sleep?). It was about half a block from Lake Pontchartrain though and within easy walking distance of the high school. Until the high school moved across town to a brand new facility. Then we walked to the old high school, now the junior high, to catch the bus to the new high school. Good times. Not.
- Carroll Street, Mandeville, Louisiana, (above) 1979-1980
- We moved here in December 1979 so I didn't actually live here very long since I left for California in June 1980. I had a nice corner room. Once we moved here we needed a ride from one of my parents to the old high school to catch the bus to the new high school. Still not good times (high school seniors just didn't ride the bus; I was the only one apparently). It WAS cool to be in a brand new school though.
Friday, January 20, 2012
- My office is rearranged and ready for action on projects! First up: starting the vacation scrapbook.
- My shoulder problem is so much worse now, mainly in the last three weeks. I went to the doctor's office today though I actually saw a very nice nurse practitioner named Patricia instead of my regular doctor who doesn't work on Fridays. She moved my arm around to see what my range was (not a lot) so now it hurts more than usual. I have several meds around the house: some vicodin, some tylenol with codeine and some double strength ibuprofen. Patricia is stunned that I took no pain meds but I always tough these things out. Now that the pain is more constant I'm hitting the drugs!
- By the way, these meds are all left over from when The Boy and I had surgeries a couple of years ago. My mom always taught me to stop pain meds as soon as possible so you don't get addicted. So I have learned to live with pain rather than deaden it. Which is kind of stupid; that's what meds are FOR! And I only have a small amount of them so addiction is unlikely.
- I also had some x-rays done so we'll see how they come out. Next up: an MRI and/or physical therapy. Whee.
- I also had some skin tags removed from my thigh. And a flu shot. Fun day in health land.
- CPA Boy bought a new car! We are not the kind of people to really BRAG about new cars but the big news in this is that The Boy can use his dad's old car instead of mine! The new car is another Prius. It's a very pretty dark blue.
- The Boy has a girlfriend! We haven't met her yet but we only got the news today. So cute. Much thanks are owed to best friend Samwise; he set them up!
- Unfortunately some bad news too: our great-uncle Harry passed away yesterday at age 90 (CPA Boy's grandmother's brother). He was a proud veteran of WWII (he knew Patton!). He was a very sweet man; we'll miss him.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
That's okay; it's MUCH better than the recent glut of teen vampire/werewolf novels.
I liked the story well enough though I think the writing was a tad simplistic for a novel about 17-year-old protagonists.
But the meat of Matched apparently boils down to this: A girl named Cassia, matched to her perfect mate Xander, pines for a different boy named Ky. Who will she end up with at the end of the 3rd book?
And there's the rub. So many stories center around which guy the girl will choose and I can't think of a single book/series that goes the other direction, where a guy is torn between two girls.
Because, you know, when faced with resisting a dystopian society, all girls and women immediately fall in love simultaneously with two guys as they fight for freedom from the oppressive overlords. Guh.
The thing is, I really don't care who Cassia ends up with at the end. I do want to know how they will or won't defeat the oppressive society.
Is framing a story around a girl torn between two (potential) lovers really the only way to go? I guess it is, especially in the post-Twilight world. I have not read those particular books but my understanding is that Bella lets things happen to her rather than making things happen for herself. At my advanced age I really want the girl to be strong and do things for herself.
Will Katniss choose Peeta or Gale? In this case, Katniss is not in love with either boy during the bulk of the novels and she is decisive in her actions driving the plot. A true hero.
Will Scarlett give up thoughts of Ashley to see Rhett's true love? While she thinks of Ashley and holds Rhett at bay (at least until she marries him) Scarlett builds a business and supports her family all by herself.
Elizabeth Bennet would rather live as a spinster than accept stodgy Mr. Collins. She eventually comes around to love Mr. Darcy and she chooses to marry him. SHE chooses, not the men.
And meanwhile I have noticed that more and more books these days seem to be trilogies (or more). For example, I have copies of The Passage by Justin Cronin and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and it turns out they are both the first book of a planned trilogy. The 3rd books aren't even scheduled for publishing until 2013 or 2014.
I really wanted to love Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The premise was really interesting: people with unusual abilities are hidden in time loops away from the rest of the world. The story doesn't so much end as leave you hanging. It might as well have been called Part One because the story never FINISHES. Apparently there will be a sequel. Eventually.
Sometimes I just want to read a COMPLETE story in one book. I'm already in the middle of too many other series!
Speaking of series, yesterday I watched the entire first season of "Downton Abbey". Pure bliss. And so pretty in Blu-Ray! Now I can watch the first part of the second season. No Laura Linney intros on the DVD either. I don't like the intros; they tell me nothing. Just too vague.
My office is almost done. I need to redecorate the walls and put a few more things away. Then it will be time to start some actual projects. Plus my son starts back to J.C. this week so I will have the house to myself again. But no car since The Boy will be using it to get to school (and work, we fervently hope, when he lands a job).
My shoulder is still hurting and getting worse. Time to see the doctor about physical therapy. Whee.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I guess it's not REALLY true that nothing happened today.
I did go out with Pop on our usual Tuesday shopping/post office outing. We ended up back at his place and somehow the topic came up on whether he might have been sent to Greece during his (peacetime but during the Cold War) army service because he spoke the language. This meant pulling out his binder of army paperwork. It turns out that he did not have Greek listed in the "languages known" box so we'll never know if that would have qualified him for duty in Greece or not. Instead he went to Germany. (Elvis Presley was famously sent to Germany for HIS army service around the same time but at a different army base. Their paths never crossed.)
As Pop went through the binder I got to hear some more great stories as various things reminded him of some fun tidbits. Some are already included in his "Autobiography" that he finished writing a couple of years ago; some were new. It was really cool. We joked that next week we will go through his binder of school records followed by the binder of his automobiles. I made a big show of being unexcited about the cars, but I really think it will be fun to hear more details about everything.
I ate too much crab for dinner. And I have to pick through 6 more for freezing.
Once my office project is completer (yes, I know that's not a word) I hope to have some more interesting things to share re: "Kelly's Turning 50" retrospective. I know you can hardly wait.
Monday, January 9, 2012
This is the very first record I ever bought: "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree"! (FYI: My first ALBUM was "The Partridge Family at Home with Their Greatest Hits".) I bought it in 1973 at TG&Y, the dime store where we bought EVERYTHING. Our Halloween costumes --- the kind in boxes, remember them? --- kitchen gadgets, Barbie doll outfits, candy, etc...
I was going through the box of 45s to see what I might like to transfer to digital format. It's one of those things sitting in my office, waiting for me to go through them and make a digital list. Now I have done that and out they go, except for the "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" and one of CPA Boy's: "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home". Because I am going to use it to DECORATE OUR HOME. Duh.
I will head off to iTunes to see what I can buy on my list of 45s. What's crazy is that I have no idea what some of these songs even sound like anymore. An example: Roger Daltrey's "Walking in my Sleep." I'm sure I will recognize it but I bet I haven't actually HEARD it since 1980! And then there are the songs that make me think, "Um, WHY did I buy that?"
Anyway, I am making real progress in the office cleaning/furniture rearranging project. I tossed a bunch of scrapbook magazines that I thought I'd use for ideas and inspiration. Nope, never gonna do that. I rarely use anything other than my own ideas when I scrapbook. Out they went! It feels SO GOOD to reduce the amount of "stuff"!
Then CPA Boy called to see if I wanted any of the Dungeness crab they got at my brother-in-law's shop (the shop, which is owned by my father-in-law, sells various things for machinery and the crabbers bring some crab as a gift every year). I mean, free crab: who are we to say no? So that meant boiling TEN live crab. We have picked clean 4 of them tonight. Six for tomorrow. Whee. But it's FREE and we are too
I went through the rest of the books on my "writing bookcase" and weeded down some more. I read the inscription on a blank book my mom gave me for Christmas 1981 and I got all teary eyed looking at it. (It's a fancy blank book, with unicorns and other beautiful drawings edging the pages.) The inscription reads, "I love you more than you know. Love, Mom" ::sniff::
Mom would have been happy to see the New Orleans Saints back in the hunt for the Superbowl. There are a couple more obstacles before that happens though. Up next: the S.F. 49ers. Go Saints!
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Originally, our local theater promised to show artsy films but they caved to financial decisions and now only show the bigger studio films. I really wanted to see "The Artist" but it's only playing about 20 miles in either direction from my home. I chose to go south today to San Rafael and the Century Theater.
For a mere $6.50 I was thoroughly entertained. I am also pretty sure I was the youngest person in the audience of about 15 people. That was a nice thing because we were pretty spread out and it was probably a safe bet that the older people weren't going to feel the need to check their cell phones every 2 minutes while the film was running.
I always turn my phone off completely as I feel there is nothing that can't wait for 2 hours. I went to the movies on a Superbowl Sunday once and got to watch my seat neighbor check the score constantly during the entire movie. Sheesh, if it matters that much to you, buddy, stay home and watch the game!
The star of "The Artist" reminded me a bit of Gene Kelly, one of my absolute favorite actors (my name is 'Kelly Jean' but Mom said she DIDN'T name me after Gene Kelly. Darn. Funny because she was named 'Dorothy" because Dorothy Lamour was also a New Orleans girl who was winning beauty contests around the time my mom was born.). One of the older women sighed, "Clark Gable" when I mentioned the Gene Kelly resemblance as we left the theater. She was right; it's a bit of both. This film would be an awesome double feature with "Singin' in the Rain". It truly is almost a silent movie. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough Missy Pyle or Malcolm McDowell, even though they were prominently billed.
I always remember the vaguest things about movie previews but there was one with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith that seemed cute. I just looked up the name: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". Also has Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson. For the life of me I cannot remember a single other preview even though we must have been shown 4 or 5. Isn't that weird that I don't remember?
In book news, I checked to see how long the line was at my library for Tina Fey's Bossypants. There are 160 holds right now. Even though there a probably a lot of copies available it's still hard to say how long it will take to get it. I am 585 on Paperback Swap; that will take a few months. But I noticed that there were NO holds on the library audiobook version. So I took the plunge and figured out how to download it to my computer and iPod. Then I had to wait for the iPod to charge up. I am terrible about keeping that thing charged up because I usually listen to my iTunes library of music on my computer.
Anyway, I have never listened to an audiobook before. (Oops, that's a lie: I got a free Kindle version of Go the F*ck to Sleep as read by Samuel L. Jackson but that's a kid's book listened to in about 10 minutes.)
I do not know what to do with myself while I am listening to an audiobook! And Tina Fey is great at reading her own book. Basically I just put on the headphones, lay on the couch and listen. Or tonight I listened on the computer while playing games on Pogo. I am about 3 hours in already (I only get it for a week and then it should disappear like magic from my computer/iPod.).
I have to hem some pants for my dad and I think I will do that tomorrow while listening to more of Tina. She's half-Greek just like me!
But truly, I am not sure that audiobooks are really for me. I guess I could listen via iPod while I walk on the treadmill but we're talking tiny increments of time, like 20 minutes. I could not listen to something just 20 minutes a day. Plus I really like physical BOOKS. I mean, I like the Kindle just fine. It's great for traveling. But I can never see it totally replacing many of my actual books. (Oh gosh, I was looking on my bookshelves yesterday for that last Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book so I could list it at Paperback Swap and I just realized I have it on my Kindle! Duh.)
Plus I have tiny ears and earbuds freaking hurt to wear for any length of time. Oh and audiobooks don't seem to include the pictures! I want to SEE Tina's famously awful hairstyles! (Yeah, yeah, that's what Google is for!)
And my weight is down by another couple of pounds; I don't know how. But I will take it! Just a million more to go! Tiny butt? Tiny belly? No, I have tiny EARS. Dammit.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I am trying to be brutal in deciding what goes and what stays. Some things are easy: I don't need folders for The Boy's school or scout information anymore. Considered it recycled. But new files need to be made, the big photo sort project needs to be put away for now, books need to be packaged for mailing and so forth.
SIDE NOTE: I DID find my National High School Mathematics award pin tucked into a draw normally reserved for office supplies. (It's supposed to be in the jewelry box in my bedroom.)
Years later my son took the same type of exams in junior high (the National Mathematics people expanded to include 8th, 10, and 12th grades) and got the highest score both in 7th AND 8th grade. He received $20 and a certificate each time.
Back to brutal tossing of office detritus...there are boxes of "giveaway" and "downstairs" (things that belong elsewhere in the house). And the recycle bin is overflowing. But this is all good.
I also listed many of my books about writing on Paperback Swap. They have become an unintentional burden. The thing is, I LOVE books about writing (Stephen King's On Writing is a particular fave --- keeping that one) but I think I buy them in lieu of actually writing. I rarely even READ them. When you aren't making time to write the great American novel I think a shelf full of how-to books only make you feel guilty. So it's time to let that obsession go. And it FEELS GREAT!
I am also ready to toss a bunch of letters that have been sitting in a box for almost 30 years. I am not in touch with most of the people who wrote them and the ones I do have contact with don't have any interest in having them back. I LOVE getting my letters back because in some ways they are journal entries that I mailed away. I have all the early ones from my best friend; we traded them a few years ago. I haven't actually been able to bring myself to read them yet but that's okay. When the day comes and my husband or son needs to go through my possessions I think they will rather read MY old letters than those of my old friends.
In other news, I am waiting to hear back from the medical billing place about a payment I made that they have no record of. Guh. I am getting "final notices" on a $541 bill for the ER doctor who put in my pinkie stitches. CPA Boy has been asking me for the receipt to match up with the credit card bill so we know the CHARGE went through, just not to MY medical account.
And then the woman I talked to asked me to send in a copy of the bill and a copy of our credit card statement showing the charge. I did this but then realized I should have charged it back and made them do their own damn research! Which we may do anyway. Morons.
I have already finished a couple of books this year: At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor (the writer, not the actress) and If You Ask Me by Betty White. The first is about a disintegrating marriage in 1945 wartime England; I didn't love it. (It made me want to pick up Diana Gabaldon's Outlander for a more rousing story starting in almost the same time period instead.) Betty's book was cute but shallow. There really is no meat to it other than she loves her life.
I am in the middle of a history on European witch hunts called Witchcraze and a few chapters into a novel called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Maybe tomorrow will be a good day to go to the movies. We'll see. I am making such progress in the office I hate to stop! And I haven't even gotten to the rearranging portion yet!
Monday, January 2, 2012
Here are the top ten non-fiction books I read...in no particular order. Plus these non-fiction books (with two exceptions) have really long subtitles!
- Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester
- This book took a few chapters to get started. I was almost ready to give up --- life's too short to waste on boring books! ---and then, BAM! Fascinating tales about Atlantic Ocean lore began in earnest. The biggest thing I took away from it is the depletion of fish stock due to overfishing in the last several centuries. I have a feeling that many kinds of fish will be VERY expensive, if even available, someday soon.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- This poor woman died of cancer in the 1950s and her cancer cells, called HeLa have since been multiplied and used in so many areas of science.
- Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History by Alan Huffman
- Over 1800 people died in 1865 when the steamboat boilers exploded. The boat was loaded with Union soldiers who had just been released from Andersonville and other prisons and were on their way home at war's end. The structure of the book followed a few men before the explosion so you learn a LOT about the horrific conditions at the prisoner of war camps. What's amazing to me is that before I ran across this book I had never heard of this incident.
- Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by Dave Maraniss
- I think almost every Olympics "changes the world" in some way but this book is pretty fascinating in it's detail about the athletes (Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph among them) and the IOC president Avery Brundage (anti-Semite, anti-woman athletes, etc...). All I know is I could read this kind of book on every Olympics if only someone would write them!
- Feeding Dreams (aka 97 Orchard): An Edible History of Seven Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
- This one made me hungry as I read! German, Irish, Italian and Jewish (German & Russian) families live in the same tenement at various times and through this device we get a history of how certain foods became part of American life. Certain foods were considered ethnic or exotic, like, you know, spaghetti. It will also make you glad you have modern conveniences in the kitchen but wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of food pushcarts in your neighborhood to shop from all different cultures food traditions! (Not a big thing in suburbia but perhaps in the bigger cities?)
- Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle
- The famous sweatshop fire in March 2011. By coincidence I was reading this the week of the 100th anniversary. One of the big changes in America was unionization of the workers, partly to protect the workers from poor conditions.
- Sword & Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman by Peter Pagnamenta and Momoko Williams
- This took place in the early years of the 20th century. "Blossom" comes off much better than "Sword" in that she suffered more ostracism for the relationship (and ensuing child) while he traveled the world on duty as a soldier. Interesting window on life in Japan in the pre-WWI years.
- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
- William Dodd becomes Ambassador to Germany in 1933 and brings his family with him: wife and two adult children. Hitler came to power in 1933 and the Dodd's witnessed the changes made featuring more brutality, not only against Jews though that was paramount, but also against Americans (several people were beaten up for not making the Nazi salute, for example). Each incremental change was expected to bring the populace to denounce Hitler's government but as we know... Interesting portrait of Berlin in those pre-war years (you can't help but think of "Cabaret" and Christopher Isherwood is quoted heavily).
- Columbine by Dave Cullen
- A book that needs no subtitle. Turns out the two perpetrators were a psychopath and a depressive, each with a death wish. Horrifying in all ways. This book is a very minute in its detail.
- Poisoner's Handbook: Murder & the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
- I read this shortly after watching Ken Burns' documentary on Prohibition and that was perfect timing. Many poisoning deaths in those days were due to adulterated alcohol. This book also covers other murders by poison and how they were solved. LOVED this one!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
In any case, now that I am throwing off the shackles of child-rearing (The Boy is 18 now, after all) perhaps a few GOALS would be okay.
- I fear all my writing may be confined to this blog rather than the sci-fi story I plotted out one night (and then promptly forgot the details come morning).
- Put a notepad on my nightstand so I don't forget the details come morning.
- Continue with the weight loss via sensible eating and exercise.
- Cliche but definitely a goal anyway. So far I am down by 19 pounds over 4 months. Next year at this time I plan to be a mere shadow of my current self!
- Practice positivity rather than negativity.
- I have always said things like, "I hate cooking" or "I hate holidays". (I will ALWAYS hate ALL holidays though so don't get your hopes up too high about this changing anytime soon!) Now I am trying to be more upbeat about cooking. Sadly I am still very lazy about going to the grocery and actually cooking but my husband knows this and loves me anyway.
- Make lists.
- I have a zillion projects I hope to do and they all seem so large that I never seem to start them. I think a list of major projects then broken down further into manageable pieces might work. Nothing feels more satisfying than checking things off a list!
- Put the boxes of pictures and memorabilia into their albums.
- I have no illusions that this will be COMPLETED this year but it's high time I got SOME of this off my plate.
- Organize the digital photos
- It is STUNNING how fast these build up if you don't keep pace!
- Organize the print photos
- I have several boxes going back to childhood that need sorting.
- Scan and archive documents
- Things that don't need to be kept in paper form anymore but still need to be kept somehow.
- Household maintenance
- When we sold the other house I worked for weeks making it perfect. Caulking, painting, cleaning, etc... Once we moved into this one, 2.5 years ago, I was just tired (and also anemic and 4 months from some necessary girl plumbing surgery that really helped) and it was a long time before I felt 100% healthy. Now it's just laziness.
- Go through and pare down the comic books.
- These boxes are stacked in our bedroom and I barely even notice them anymore. But there are several and they do not make pretty bedroom decor!
- So many other things I am forgetting at this moment!
So Happy New Year, Dear Readers! I can't promise all (if any) of my blogging will be interesting to you but I feel I have many interesting things to say! (Only one person will get this last comment: Hugs, Honeybunny!)