Monday, June 25, 2012

Life's Unexpected Curves

The phone rang at 6:10 Sunday morning. It was Pops calling from the hospital. He had felt pain all day Saturday and around 2 a.m. he had driven himself to the hospital. Turns out His appendix had burst and he was going into emergency surgery. Yikes! I had been up until 1 a.m. reading and I regretted this fact by 6:15 a.m.

So we got up and drove to Pop's house so we could get the car keys. Then we drove to the hospital so CPA Boy could drive Pop's car home. I followed in my car so we could drive back to the hospital together.

Pops is fine and the surgery went well. He is staying for a couple of days, I assume because they need to make sure he doesn't have/develop peritonitis.

But I find that it is emotionally difficult to be hanging around the same spots as last year when we lost Mom. It's weird the things that resonate. For instance, I still can't bring myself to continue reading the book I had with me at the hospital last year. It is a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln that I had long been looking forward to but it will need to wait a while longer before I tackle it again.

Which is kind of stupid. It's just a book. But that's the way my mind works.

And you can't help seeing the various hospital rooms that we spent time in last May with a shiver of distaste. Pops "recovered" in ICU, not because he needed critical care but because they typically use one of the ICU beds for that purpose. And there across the room you can see the smaller ICU patient rooms. My eye kept going to the one Mom was in on the last day.

Ugh, go away morbid thoughts!

Pops should make a complete recovery. The anesthesiologist told him he was in great shape for his age which is true; people always think he's younger than his age. Plus Pops had charmed the emergency room staff, including the security guard who came over to tell me how they shared stories about $2 bills (Pops has one in his wallet and it came to light because they inventory your possessions when they put them in the hospital safe).

Now I just need to get him to let me do things for him, like cook, clean, shop and so forth. The man drove himself to the hospital because he didn't want to bother us! It will be difficult to get him to let me make him some dinner!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Getting Back to the Old Routine

We returned from our trip to Colorado on Sunday night, which was Father's Day. I was so unaware that I didn't even remember that until we dropped Pops off and CPA Boy said, "Happy Father's Day!" Yes, I had my dad in the car ALL DAY and did not remember it was Father's Day. Which is crazy because I had been joking before the trip that his "present" was going to be getting a ride home.

Oh well. Pops is cool. He is an easy travel companion, up for adventure. He just enjoys life as it comes. He is also great at keeping himself entertained during lulls. He will pick up a book, watch TV, nap, or just hang out and chat with us. And he has no problem eating anywhere we end up. Pops also has a great sense of humor so he is always fun to have along. We are lucky.

The rest of the week was not so much busy but CPA Boy still had time off and we spent a lot of time together. We went shopping for groceries and ate out for lunch a couple of times. Then we went on a DVD marathon, watching the first two seasons of "Mad Men", which he had not seen. I started watching regularly at the start of the second season but I caught up with season 1 while The Boy was at boy scout camp and CPA Boy was in Maryland on a business/baseball trip. I had made a huge pot of curry for dinner(s) and IT WAS THE BEST WEEK EVER!!! I watched all 13 episodes in about 3 days and finally understood why it was such a critical darling.

Meanwhile, CPA Boy would catch random moments here and there and then he was sucked in. So now we watch "Mad Men" together. In fact, we watched the last episode of season 5 in Colorado that K2 kindly recorded for us.

But before we tackled "Mad Men" we watched "Moneyball". CPA Boy had received it for his birthday months ago and we just hadn't gotten to it during the regular TV season. He has gone to Oakland A's games since long before I knew him although his first year as season ticket holder was the year we met, 1989. So even *I* knew the background of "Moneyball"!

We were interested in the players depicted and those who made no appearance by name. In a big example, the 2002 season depicted in the film included Barry Zito's Cy Young Award-winning year and he was not shown or even mentioned at all! Obviously there are legal reasons why some players don't appear along with storyline purposes.

The movie was good though. I'm not a big Brad Pitt fan so I don't "squee" over him like some do but he is a perfectly fine actor.

So, since CPA Boy is actually going to an A's game tomorrow, my old routine gets back into gear: laundry, cooking dinner, housecleaning, and so on. I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday so I can go over the blood tests I have every year to make sure my thyroid and blood pressure meds are still on target. I am getting back on track with my eating too which means giving up sweets for a while and eating more fruits and veggies.

There are several house projects to get organized. Mostly little things like call someone to fix the fence where boards are falling off. We need to have the electrician do a little work. The roof still leaks when it rains even though it was "repaired" in December. Then there are the things that need to be done like new gutters. This may not actually get done this year but it won't hurt to have a couple people out to give us an estimate.

We also want to replace some of the window coverings. For instance, our bedroom has a sliding glass door. There are two sets of horizontal blinds covering it rather than one vertical blind. To exit you need to haul up one very heavy wooden blind on a delicate nylon cord. This same arrangement existed on the sliding door to the backyard. The prior owners must have kept it in the up position all the time because I broke the cord within a couple of months of moving in (the cord frayed from going up and down every day I guess). The golf course path goes around the back of our house and I don't like people looking in on the kitchen and family room. Pops helped me and put up a curtain rod so I have a curtain there now.And there are windows that have no coverings whatsoever.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me hate being a homeowner. I'd rather spend money on things for the house like new flatware, or a comfy reading chair, not gutters, fence repair or house painting! But all are necessary so summer means time to make a dent in the house to-do list!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vacation - Day 8 - June 15

For our last day of vacation we went to the Denver Greek Festival. While we were there a thunderstorm was moving in but we left before it hit. I took a picture of the Greek flag banner overhead and you can see the gray sky. In one direction it was gray; in the other it was clear blue. We don't get that in our area of California. Generally the clouds roll in and it's already completely overcast by the time the rain starts to fall.
Pops got a hand stamp at the gate so he could get a glass of wine with lunch. I guess they do the ID check at the gate so that the bar personnel don't need to bother with it.
We went about lunchtime so we could enjoy the food. There were several stands serving food. Except for CPA Boy, who got a souvlaki pita (pork meat on a skewer) at a different place, we all got our lunch at the "Taste of Greece" booth. I had keftedes (meatballs), pastitsio (kind of like lasagna but with noodles resembling long macaroni and a white cheesy sauce) and tyropites (cheese in phyllo). And a diet Coke.
For dessert I bought a small tray of koulourakia, a butter cookie with sesame seeds. K2 also bought himself some spanakopita (spinach and feta layered in phyllo) for dinner since the rest of us still had leftovers from dinner the night before.
He also bought himself a t-shirt.
On our last evening we finally made it to the pool table. We had a good time playing nine ball. None of us was very good but that made for more laughter!
Here is a closer picture of the wild bunny in the back yard. He was sitting in the exact same spot on the back lawn.

And the Colorado trip comes to an end. A two day drive back to California --- and no more speeding tickets --- and we were home on Sunday night. Over 20 hours of driving over two days meant I slept quite soundly once I was in my own bed again!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vacation - Day 7 - June 14

Today was baseball day. We went to Coors Field and watched the Oakland Athletics play the Colorado Rockies. CPA Boy is a longtime A's fan. And when he and The Boy went to Coors Field 4 years ago the Rockies were playing a different team? And I somehow got no souvenir!

We sat in Section 141, Row 20, so we were in the sun for the first six innings. Except for Pops, who already sports a nice tan from yardwork and being of Greek descent, we were all slathered in sunscreen.

CPA Boy and I walked to the stadium first while Pops and K2 followed behind (K2 was applying sunscreen in the parking garage). We walked all around the stadium checking out all the food choices.

I took pictures of a couple of cute snack stands. The Tornadough made me laugh.

We finally settled on Rockies Dogs. I got mine with the works: onions, peppers, sauerkraut, relish and mustard while CPA Boy had just mustard on his. Mine was delicious but messy to eat.

I did my own souvenir shopping and decided on a purple string of beads (one of the Rockies team colors, of course) that looked like little purple baseballs.

We left around the eighth inning (the A's won 8 to 2, by the way) and walked a few blocks to a place called Wyncoop Brewing Company. The guys all had the Thursday special which was pot roast while I had macaroni and cheese.

After dinner we walked over to a bookstore called the Tattered Cover. I bought two books, some birthday gifts for various people and an old map of Louisiana. Bookstores make me happy.

Tomorrow the Denver Greek Festival and packing for Saturday's departure.

Vacation - Day 6 - June 13

On Wednesday we went out to lunch and shopped at outlet malls. Remember when outlet malls used to be far and few between? Now they are everywhere! Even Petaluma has a small collection of outlets.

We started with lunch at Red Robin Burgers, a chain we don't have in our area. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday afternoon and the food was pretty good. We took a couple of pictures outside the restaurant and you can just see the mountains behind us.

A couple of the things on the Red Robin menu are "freckled lemonade" and "freckled fruit salad". It basically seems to indicate the addition of strawberries (the seeds are the freckles?). The glass they serve the lemonade in was curvy and pretty.

We went to a handful of stores, mainly the ones we don't have near home. We got some Moose Munch for CPA Boy at Harry & David. I found a bottle of Stuckey's Pecan Log flavor topping (a gift for The Boy) at one of the kitchen stores. And at the Corelle store we bought some larger serving bowls to go with our dishes. Our pattern was discontinued over 15 years ago but these additions are in the same style. The only thing missing is the ribbon of pattern around the edges.

I got a colorful "Colorado" refrigerator magnet. It's one of things I do: buy a representative magnet whenever we travel. I took a picture of it but forgot to upload it to this entry so I will include it in the next entry.

Last time we visited K2 his backyard was not yet landscaped and I took a picture of a wild rabbit that was very cute. This time, with a lush green lawn as background, there was another bunny to photograph. I took this picture through the window so it's not great. I went outside to get a closer shot but the bunny ran away just as I raised my camera. It was about 6 inches long and its little ears were down and relaxed. Until I made it run away at least.

And here's a picture of the shed we helped with 4 years ago. You can just FEEL our blood, sweat and tears pouring off it! We have 2 days left and no further building projects have come up. Maybe K2 is saving one up in case we overstay our welcome!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vacation - Day 5 - June 12

Vacation days start to run together since I'm not really paying attention to the calendar! So to clarify for myself, "day 5" covers Tuesday, June 12.

Today CPA Boy and I drove to Denver to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We also saw an IMAX movie about tornado chasers, visited the special "Lizards & Snakes" exhibition, tried out some of the hands-on exhibits and visited the gift shop.

Aren't we cute in our 3D glasses?! I asked the woman sitting in front of me to take a picture because we so rarely get vacation pictures of the two of us. I like this one!

The IMAX movie was about 45 minutes long and called "Tornado Alley 3D". I expected a rip roaring spectacle of 3D tornado views but the film was mainly about two groups of people: tornado chasers who were deploying equipment and taking readings for tornado research and the film's director whose goal was to get footage from INSIDE a tornado.

Now, many of us grew up watching "The Wizard of Oz" so we have some high expectations on how the inside of a tornado should look. And it was NOTHING like that. It looked like a very strong gale but that's all. Granted, it did not seem like a very big tornado but I expected more.

The lizards and snakes were interesting but more snakes would have been nice! Lots of cool lizards though.

One of the hands-on exhibits was about health. You could do various things like view your heart rate, measure your walking stride, see what you'd look like at 70 and so forth. My heartbeats were nice and steady; CPA Boy could not get a reading! So we think he may be a zombie to which Pops piped up and said, "Zombies are popular right now, aren't they?" So CPA Boy is glad to be a zombie rather than a vampire, the last trendy thing. And, perhaps not surprising considering I'm only 20 years away from 70, I should look pretty much the same. Good to know.

We just didn't see anything we wanted to buy at the gift shop. So we bought nothing. (Tomorrow we will be visiting some outlet malls so we'll save the shopping for then!)

While we visited Denver, Pops and K2 visited a shooting range. They each shot up a few targets.

Then they had lunch at Costco. Pops is posing here with the hot dog he had for lunch.

We had dinner again at NoNo's Cafe and then came home. The Oakland A's at Colorado Rockies game was on TV as the A's are in town for a three game series of inter-league play. We will be going to the game Thursday afternoon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vacation - Day 4 - June 11

Today, while Pops and K2 did other things, CPA Boy and I drove to Colorado Springs, about 45 minutes south and visited a lovely park called Garden of the Gods. There are no gardens nor does it have anything to do with God. Rather it features some amazing rock formations and beautiful scenery.

We watched the short film explaining how it all came to be and then took the jeep tour to see everything. We posed with fake buffalo too! Then we bought a few souvenirs!

We had a late lunch at Sonic Drive-in (hamburger for me, hot dog for CPA Boy, Diet cherry Cokes for each of us and some chili cheese tater tots to share). So we had dessert later at Dairy Queen, which we don't have in Sonoma County. I had a turtle sundae --- delish! --- and CPA Boy had some sort of Blizzard.

K2 and CB played a few rounds of Forza Motorsports on the XBox and had a few laughs crashing their cars and lapping each other.

Tomorrow we are off to Denver to the Museum of Nature and Science. And maybe some outlet malls.

Vacation - Day 3 - June 10

On Sunday K2 took us to a nice little market called Tony's. We each chose something to grill for dinner. Pops and K2 had steaks, CPA Boy had trout and I had salmon. Along with fresh corn, Greek pasta salad and garlic bread, we had a great meal.

And CPA Boy and I finished out the day by watching the season finale of "Mad Men". Kind of a nice, lazy day before the rest of the week picks up with a bit more activity.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vacation - Day 2 - June 9

So the day started right with breakfast at Krispy Kreme doughnuts for me and CPA Boy. I like their original glazed doughnuts and yes, I ate 3 of them. I would have eaten only 2 but I have a Krispy Kreme threshold! Two is just enough to get a craving started --- which might entail repeat, caloric visits, a bad idea --- but 3 makes me feel kinda overwhelmed with sugar and then I'm done with them for a long time. Mission accomplished!

Then we went shopping at a local mall mostly to stop at the Lego store so I could get some more Lego magnets for the fridge and/or keychains. Mission not accomplished Lego-wise but we did browse through the Crate & Barrel store just to see what they might have. We bought a red silicone pie crust shield (I have such trouble doing an aluminum foil shield for some reason; they never stay on and I give up and let those pie crust edges burn in frustration) and a bean bag chair-like foot stool. Isn't it pretty? It's having a close visit with one of K2's ottomans! Wonder what their babies will look like!

We walked through the Pottery Barn Kids store too, mainly in hopes they'd have items from their Pottery Barns Teen catalog. No such luck but we did see a cute sheep mobile and some cute patterned sheep crib sheets. We havd no need to buy these things of course but a camera can capture the moment!

For dinner CPA Boy and K2 ate their leftovers from NoNo's and Pops and I had some mac and cheese, shrimp pad thai and a Mediterranean salad from Noodles & Company.

And another lovely day comes to an end!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vacation - Day 1 - June 8

"Happy Birthday to K2!"

Friday was K2's birthday. We had a late lunch at a wonderful local restaurant named NoNo's Cafe which serves New Orleans cuisine. We started with an appetizer, Seafood Nachos. Yum!

Mmmmmm.....crawfish, shrimp and crabmeat!!!

Pops quaffed a locally brewed beer with his meal.
"Quaff THIS, Everest!" (NOT an actual quote by Pops!)

We had meals with names like Crawfish Monica, Crawfish Pie, Roast Beef Po'Boy and Monica's Smothered Catfish. And beignets for dessert!
Yes, it DOES look like we have the whole place to ourselves!

Pops made a birthday cake for K2 using my mom's recipe for whipped cream and chocolate pudding frosting. The cake is pictured up top.

I brought a few gifties including a granny square throw blanket I made during the spring TV season. I like getting things done so I don't feel like I am wasting couch potato time!

Until tomorrow...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Vacation Update

The whole photo thing's just too exhausting to contemplate at this point so you'll need to do without illustrations for now!

It is a LONG drive from California to Colorado, 20 hours total. And Nevada is one big speed trap. Don't ask me how I know this.

Anyway, K2 has a lovely, comfortable home. He has "finished" his basement so it has a nice TV, comfy chairs, a pool table, a game table and all his toys. Which we are not allowed to play with.

We don't really have any concrete plans while we're here except for a baseball game at Coor's Field on Thursday and a Greek festival Friday. We will take each day as it comes.

There are some lovely vistas in Utah, what with the Salt Flats in the west and the mountains on the east. Nevada is deadly dull and Wyoming has some dull spots as well interspersed with some pretty, mountainous spots. The altitude got to 8,640 feet. Quite a difference from the rarified altitude of 17 feet found in Petaluma! We crossed the Continental Divide in Wyoming so there's that.

Colorado is very pretty. It's hard to beat the view of the Rockies directly to the west whenever you go outside.

The weather has been on the warm side, in the upper 80s and low 90s but still pleasant. It may not be so pleasant at the baseball game on Thursday!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Travel Prep

"Cool" is not the word. We will be in the Denver area starting on Thursday and it is forecast to be in the 90s the entire time we are there. So I am hoping we will be air conditioned by an actual air conditioner because I just don't think we'll be able to count on Mother Nature this trip.

I usually clean the house completely before I travel anywhere. That way you come back to a nice, clean house. But the whole process just adds to my stress level so this time I am not cleaning. I am just putting things away. Besides, our son will be here the whole time with his hoard of friends so no sense going overboard.

This whole decision makes me feel better.

But I still need to pack tomorrow since we leave early Wednesday morning. And my goodness, all of the electronics! Camera, phone, GPS, iPod, iPad, hair dryer (pretty sure my brother doesn't have one) and all of their attendant cords and such. I forgot to buy a new memory card for my camera. Well that's not true. I went to Staples today but couldn't remember which kind to get so I will need to try again tomorrow. All those cards look alike to me. But I knew I needed some sort of "stick" (Memory Stick Pro Duo to be exact) and all the cards were labeled SDHC and I am still not sure which is compatible, if any.

Our little rat Kirk turned out to have a cancerous growth. Most of it was removed today so he seems to be more comfortable even though the prognosis is not good. Because he needs such constant care he will be staying at the vet's office while we are gone. He is home tonight to hang out with CPA Boy though before going back tomorrow.  (The Boy will take care of the rest of the gang at home.)

Speaking of The Boy, he got a job! He will be working at the movie theater downtown.

CPA Boy and the other partners at his firm got to attend the San Francisco Giants game last Friday in a suite, la di da! My husband is NOT a Giants fan but he hadn't been to AT&T Park yet. So you know what this means, right?! I got another baseball souvenir!
It's an off-brand Lego-style player! It's really cute. Next stop: Coors Field and a Colorado Rockies souvenir! Unless I melt in the sun first.

Once I've rounded up all of the other souvenirs I will get some more pictures together.

We are staying in a motel on the Nevada/Utah border and they have Internet access so hopefully I will be able to blog the first night out.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

May 2012 Books

Not a lot of books for this past month. Lots of Young Adult fiction though. Oh well. Here goes...

  • The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
  • The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Finn, Jackson, Hutch -- and me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockart
  • The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors Plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart
  • Real Live Boyfriends: Yes, Boyfriends plural. If my life weren't complicated I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
    • This is a cute teen series that I enjoyed. The heroine, Ruby Oliver, is a neurotic mess, just like many girls of high school age.
    • Her boyfriend breaks up with her to start going out with her best friend. Ruby kisses the ex-boyfriend at some party, everyone sees and her reputation is severely damaged. What with panic attacks and the desertion of her closest friends Ruby starts therapy. This pretty much jump starts the series which covers Ruby's life from sophomore to senior year.
    • Based on a few of my own high school experiences I could relate a bit to Ruby.
    • I like the covers of the first two books better with their whimsical pictures that relate to the plot. The young lady on the other two covers is pretty but I like the whimsical object better!
    • All four books: B+
  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld
    • This is the fourth and last book in the Uglies series. I didn't love the series because of its reliance on a heroine who saves her world but all of her decisions are based on the boys in her life. 
    • This book is somewhat of a reset, going forward several years after the world is saved by Tally. Now the heroine is Aya and place in society is based on one's reputation. The top 1,000 people are the ones with the most going on in their news feeds. Kind of like our world today, where people like Kim Kardashian would be in the top 1,000. Everyone's goal is to create news to move themselves up in a fickle society where rankings update by the second and technology is king. If you have a low reputation rank you are considered an "extra" just like in a movie's crowd scene.
    • Aya starts hanging out with some other girls at the bottom of the reputation list and they discover another world domination plot that starts the adventure. Tally herself comes back to help.
    • I liked this one better than the first three because it was not driven by decisions based on the heroine's boy issues. And it had so many more parallels to our current "anyone can be famous" world than Tally's "everyone gets plastic surgery and brain modification to keep everyone shallow and stupid" world.
    • B+
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
    • I was in the mood for some comfort reading so I picked up the Harry Potter books off the shelf. I hadn't read the earlier ones for years so it was nice to read with an eye towards every action and comment of Dumbledore and Snape to see them through the lens of knowing how it all ends. 
    • Rowling did a fabulous job on this series. I'm currently on the last book (the last two are part of June reading) and I just remember how satisfied I felt when I got to the end of it when I first read it in 2007.
    • One thing I find interesting is how the first few books compare to the later volumes. The first book is written toward an eleven-year-old, Harry's age at the start. We enter wide-eyed with Harry into the wizarding world with all the enthusiasm of our inner eleven-year-old selves. By the time one reaches the final book you are reading a book written for an adult, again keeping pace with Harry's age. Just an amazing achievement.
      • Series where the character grows along with the writing style seem to be the ones most beloved by readers: Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy, even Little Women, as a few examples.  
    • A+ all around
  • Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon
    • There is a movie called "Finding Neverland" with Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp that covers some of this story but I haven't seen it, so I don't know how far it goes.
    • The book posits that Barrie (who does not come off as a nice person at all in this book) used hypnosis on Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies, her children and their cousin Daphne du Maurier in order to somehow control them. The book is not specifically clear on this point.
      • To a modern eye one automatically might assume sexual abuse of the boys by Barrie but that does not seem to be the case, at least according to one of the boys who firmly denied it.
    • The du Mauriers were an interesting family. Patriarch George was an artist and the author of Trilby, where the title character is hypnotised by Svengali. (So George is the source of the hypnosis training.) His daughter Sylvia, mother of the Llewelyn-Davies boys, died in her early 40s, as did her husband. Her brother Gerald was a famous stage actor in his day and the father of Daphne.
    • The Llewelyn-Davies boys were the inspiration for the Peter Pan stories. I read Peter Pan many years ago and loathed it. I can't remember why though and I don't want to try again to find out!
    • Much of the book is fascinating but there are several rather dry portions.
    • B
  • Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir by Piper Laurie
    • Pretty good memoir. Ms. Laurie has had an interesting life and she drops names left and right so it's a good juicy tale. It jumps around in time a bit but it is never dull.
    • A
  • 12 books read
  • 2 non-fiction
    • 2 biographies
  • 10 fiction
    • 10 young adult