Saturday, December 17, 2011


The place where I work closes for a two week break.
Academia is not all bad, I have to admit.
So now I'm technically "off" for two weeks, even though I'll check e-mails, and will go in for a few hours one of the days - no big deal.
How will I spend my time?
1) Putting up our Christmas tree - for some reason the kids are all anxious to have this up. Seriously? It's not like Christmas is next week or anything.
2) Finishing a Who? hat for the little girl across the street, and finding a cool hat for her younger brother. Plus knitting an infinity scarf (of some sort) for my sister-in-law.
3) Organizing my pantry. It's a wreck. Food hoarder gone wild. Menus will be made and food will be incorporated into dishes. Stat.
4) Finishing up the 13 books on my "Currently Reading" list. That's a lot of carryover into the new year - must start fresh. Although if I were smart....hmmm....I'd read all of those 13 books up until the end, and then finish them all at once in 2012 so I can list them as completed on next year's reading challenge. Hmmmm....naw, that's kind of cheating, don't you think?
5) Sleeping. As much as possible. Like a bear I'll hibernate and store some energy so I can begin 2012 refreshed and ready.
As a matter of fact, I think I just might go back to sleep now.
After all, I woke up at 3:00 on my first official vacation day.
How sick is that?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Unraveling Anne - Laurel Saville

Unraveling AnneUnraveling Anne by Laurel Saville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most everyone thinks the relationship between Edina Monsoon and her daughter, Saffy, is quite funny. Of course that's television, "Absolutely Fabulous", to be exact. But imagine if you really were Saffy, and your mother was constantly drunk, raising you in spite of ignoring you, and constantly inviting strange people into your home. A life filled with stability and rules might actually seem attractive, and not as perverse and rigid as Edina makes Saffy feel. This, in essence, is the life that Laurel Saville lived with her mother. This comparison is not meant to minimize the mother/daughter relationship between Saville and her mother, Anne Ford. It is noted, however, that through, or because of her mother, Laurel Saville truly lived the life of the 60s free spirit, an ersatz hippie lifestyle of love ins, happenings, and beach living. What is so often romanticized by those who lived this life as adults, or those who wish that they had been there, is proven by Saville that, for a child, the alarming lack of structure is really not conducive to a strong, healthy parental bond, or a safe and secure home life. Certainly there are those children who, like weeds, are able to thrive in any environment, but Saville documents her story as that of a lonely, serious child who loved her mother, yet never understood her. Nor was she understood by her mother. Unraveling Anne allows Saville the opportunity to step back through time, to remember her feelings, examine her memories, and seek to gain understanding of what drove her mother's self-destructive behavior and lifestyle to the extent that her mother's life ends with her rape and murder at a relatively young age. Saville doesn't seek to blame, but only to understand, and she is left with many unanswered questions and missed opportunities. As she is only seeking enlightenment, she comes away with a better understanding of what missteps her mother took that prompted her decisions, and caused her mother to turn out as she did. What is missing from this book, and this may be due to requests from her brothers, is any explanation of where they are now, and how they are attempting to heal any emotional scars left by their upbringing. It is apparent that she is holding some things back, but Saville reveals as much as she can allow which one can tell is not the entire story, but we are left with enough of her poignant tale to understand where she is coming from.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in PicturesThe Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had to go back and pinpoint the moment when everything in Frankie's scrapbook merged, and I could no longer tell if the author was creating the story from the scrapbook and assorted ephemera, or if the ephemera created the story.  This is a truly wonderful book - it's magical in its beauty and ingenuity. It definitely needs to be read more than once so you can marvel over the ephemera, and at the fact that like Forrest Gump, or rather more like a recent Woody Allen film, Frankie encounters many famous personalities during her emancipated life in Paris, as well as her time in NYC. It is truly brilliant.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Hunter's Green - Phyllis A. Whitney

Why is it that I have to work?
Can't I just win the Powerball and move to England (or Greece, or France, or Norway) and sit around and read all day?

Hunter's GreenHunter's Green by Phyllis A. Whitney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Phyllis A. Whitney for a long time, so my reviews of her books are not necessarily the best by which to judge how good a book actually is. I grade through nostalgia: for the time of which she writes, and also for who I used to be when I read this book for the first time. I have to admit that it has been many years since I read this particular book, but I did enjoy it - even this second (third or fourth, perhaps?) time around. While the heroine may aggravate many a contemporary reader with her sometimes passive attitude towards how she is treated and viewed, the fashions of Mary Quant and other 60's fashion trends as described in this book will win over many a reader. If you're looking for a good, relatively contemporary Gothic romance for a rainy, gloomy day, then check out Hunter's Green.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gingerbread Cookie Murder(s)

Yesterday I spoke with my brother who lives in Colorado Springs. He said they were having so much snow that it was almost a blizzard. Friday they spent in t-shirts and shorts, and on Saturday he was pulling out his snow boots. Too bad he's not a reader because he might have enjoyed staying inside and reading this book:

Gingerbread Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen)Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christmas time is usually when we slow down, but not until after the shopping, cooking, baking, and cleaning are done. For those of us in the snow-trapped northern states the best view of winter is when you're looking out the window as you read a cozy book and enjoy some tea or cocoa. Gingerbread Cookie Murder is the perfect book for a slow winter day. While the stories are short, and the intricacies normally found in cozy mysteries is not as fleshed out as one would expect from these three authors, the book can still provide enjoyment during a relaxing interlude in your day. If you haven't read any of these authors this is a good introduction. As for me, I think Laura Levine is the best of the three writers, and I am certain that I will be reading more of her books in the future.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Clean Your Bathroom Floor

How to Clean Your Bathroom Floor in Five Easy Steps:

One: Use the faucet to wash your hands, and inadvertently leave it running.
Two: Go to the library, and return in 30 minutes.
Three: Return to see that the clogged sink has caused the water to spill over onto the floor.
Four: Gather all the "dirty" towels from your teenager's floor and use them to soak up the water.
Five: Wring out towels in now-dirty tub, and take them upstairs to wash in hot water, bleach, and detergent.

Voila! A clean floor! I wouldn't eat off of it, ever, but it's better than it was.

Next lesson: How to Get Your Husband to Clean the Dirty Bathtub in Two Easy Steps.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I know we're excited, but even so....

Okay, so the Bills beat the Patriots today - that's a big thing not only around these parts, but everywhere.
(Financial crisis in Greece? Who cares! The Bills beat the Pats!)
So we're all happy, the Bills are 3-0, yea!
But does this news have to be included in every story on the web, especially local news?
Such as this piece which has some information about a serious car crash.
Read the article in its entirety (and I copied it because I'm sure at some point the article will be modified - I hope):

7:34 PM

Crash in Orleans County Sends Two People to the Hospital

By: Casey J. Bortnick
Crash in Orleans County Sends Two People to the Hospital
Two people were seriously injured when a motorcycle and a car collided in Orleans County Sunday Afternoon. It happened in Kendall on Route 18 near the Orleans-Monroe county line. Sheriff’s Deputies tell YNN multiple EMS crews and mercy flight responded to the scene.
One victim was flown to Rochester's Strong Hospital; the other was originally taken by ambulance to Lakeside hospital and then airlifted to Strong. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
The Buffalo Bills are now 3-0 after edging out the New England Patriots in another thriller at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And how do I spend my weeks?

Wondering what I've been doing?
This is my weekly routine:

Work lunch work go home work go to bed
Work lunch work go home work go to bed
Work lunch work go home work go to bed
Work lunch work go home work go to bed
Work lunch work go home order out go to bed

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I know everyone has their own memories and thoughts about today.
I just want to share this lovely, elegiac version of a traditional song which I think sums up many feelings that will be expressed and shared today. The lyrics may not fit, but then again they may, so please enjoy as we remember how our world changed 10 years ago.

And while we all remember what happened to the Twin Towers, let us not forget all those who lost their lives both in the Pentagon, and on the plane.

Semper fi.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Not Only Kids Who Say the Darndest Things

So my son's girlfriend works at Subway.
She told us that she gets asked a lot of stupid questions, ones not coming just from the WalMart employees who want to know if she has a boyfriend, does she want to go out, and also if she wants to go out drinking (yes, no, and no).
Two examples of the dumb questions she hears:
"How long is a footlong?"
"How big is a six-inch sub?"
Or regarding what kind of cheese they want on their sub, people will often respond, "Um, yeah."
Sometimes I forget how stupid people really are.
I'm glad they remind me from time to time.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Everything has a downside to it

So...discovered the big downside to using honey as a face wash today.
Sitting on Main Street at lunchtime enjoying a slice of pizza with my youngest son, we had four - yes four! - bees buzzing around us.
Granted, we were outside, they wanted some of the pizza too, but no one at any of the other tables was having a problem.
Only us.
On the plus side neither of us were stung, so I guess there's some camaraderie involved here.
Go bees!
No really, shoo...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

She Works Hard for Her Money

Recently a former co-worker and I were joking about something networking via e-mail, and I asked her now that she has been promoted how her daily routine had changed.
This is a legitimate question as she is now the queen bee on her floor – not the office manager, but the senior executive assistant to the big boss.
Here is her reply:

This is my schedule:

• Saunter into the office, passing by the lower-class people out front (since I’m nice, I greet each of them)

• Enter my office with the magic lights turning on immediately

• Decide which shoes I should wear with my outfit

• Go into the ladies’ room and make sure that all of the spackle and super glue are holding my face together and that I don’t have any lipstick on my teeth

• Decide if I want coffee or tea to start my day – if tea, I handle that; if coffee I go downstairs and get it (since I don’t believe in the office manager’s method of washing these pots)

• Go back to my office and change my shoes for the first time of the day

• Glance at the headlines in the Wall Street Journal

• Peruse the D & C

• Check my email

• Check CNN and one of the local news sites

• Watch my phone ring and wait for someone else to answer it

• Change my shoes again

• Go check my mail

• Put my flats back on because my feet are already killing me

• By then it’s lunchtime and in the summer I expect the office manager to bring me tomatoes

• If no tomatoes, then back downstairs for salad but not before changing into heels and checking myself out in the mirror

• Change my shoes, eat lunch, brush/floss my teeth

• Re-apply lipstick/powder (repetitive throughout the day as you can imagine)

• Answering questions from the peeps out front because they’re all so damn stupid (excluding SN)

• You know, it goes on and on – definitely not easy being me…

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Winter is Just a Dead Leaf Away

Being locked in an office all day does not allow you to experience the weather in any way other than visually. If it's raining, I see the wet rooftops, when the sun shines I'm envious of all those able to walk around and enjoy it, and when it's snowing I look out and see the white snow blanketing the cars and streets. But on a day like today - a cool autumn day - I don't know what the temperature is until I come outside at the end of the day.
So even though it was overcast it was wonderful to come outside and feel the coolness in the air. The high temp was 66, and tonight is definitely sweatshirt weather.
Before leaving for work this morning I put a chicken in the crockpot, and as I walked in the door this evening all I could smell was that wonderful aroma of a dinner - already cooked and waiting to be served.
I've lit some apple scented candles to usher in the cool fall evening, adding to the ambiance of the changing season.
Finally, some Vivaldi adds an extra special touch to the evening:

In other words, enjoy the mild weather while you can because winter is coming, and it's going to suck just like it always does.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back Into the Closet You Go

Labor Day is here and now gone.
As a non-union employee I appreciate what Labor Day means to workers, but it doesn't affect me in any way other than having a Monday off at the beginning of Semptember every year.
What it really stands for, to me, is that it is time to put away our summer clothes, sandals and bags.
To be honest, we all know that Birks can be worn year round so those can stay out.
My awesome new white sandals, however - time to say goodbye.
Back into the closet they will go, but before I put them away, have a look at them.
Here they are in all their pristine whitness:

Thank you Macy's for awesome end of summer sales.
I really like these sandals a lot, and they are very comfortable. All told, since I purchased them, however, I've only had the opportunity to wear them a total of three - no four - times.
There was a song going through my head in an endless loop as I thought about putting my sandals (and other summer clothes) away, and the words go something like this, "So we've gotta say goodbye for the summer..."
Know who that is?
Well it's not a new song, and it's actually not about the end of summer, I don't believe, but about not seeing someone over the summer.
(Please correct me if I'm wrong - it's been known to happen with alarming frequency.)
So I will ask you to sing along with Brian Hyland (no relation) as he wishes his school love goodbye, and as I say goodbye to my sandals:

You know that everytime you hear that song now you'll think about my sandals (or maybe your own sandals).
And yeah, I know this song is backwards for this situation - no one expects me to be rational do they? - but it's still a very nice song. And if you substitute the words, "I'll send you all my love everyday in my closet..." for the others in the chorus, well, you get my drift.
I'll miss my sandals, but they'll be there waiting for me to wear them on Memorial Day 2012.

P.S. Don't you think it's kind of sad that I actually already have a label for "Shoes"? Can you say "obsession"?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Reason Why

This is why we came to Quantico:

Big congrats to an outstanding Marine who will be an amazing Brigadier General.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Many Books Do You Have in Your Bag?

So we're going away for a few days over the long weekend.
Back to Virginia for a promotion ceremony, to visit friends, and to shop.
It's a 7-9 hour trip depending upon your speed and traffic, and I'll have to drive halfway there and back.
We'll only be away for a few days, but it begs this question: How many books should I bring with me?
I'm 80 pages from the end of The Long Goodbye (super fantastic book - there's my 5-star review), and know I'll finish that on the way down.
Should I bring just one extra book, or two?
Or maybe 275?
That's about how many are on my Kindle.
Yeah, I'm thinking 275 books, let's go with that.
That should see me through a four day trip.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

But is it money well spent?

So my youngest is still a pre-teen for at least another two months.
After October we'll be going full throttle into the heady teenage years.
Fasten your seat belts!
This ride is going to be a doozy!
She's different from her older sister in that as a younger girl she is focused on many areas of beauty such as maintaining a polished set of nails on both hands and feet, likes to get her eyebrows threaded, and she fixes her hair every morning - things like that.
And like many adolescents she is anxious to stave off the oncoming signs of hormonal disturbance - you know, the bad stuff that happens to your face when it's not sure what the hell is going on with your body.
I bought her the generic brand equivalent of ProActiv in the grocery store a couple of months ago for $12, and then for some reason when she was in Macy's last week her father bought her the Clinique version as well as something else.
I can't remember what the something else is - all I know is that the Macy's bill was $55 for stuff from the cosmetics counter.
It's time to do some math here - you've got my $12 plus the recent $55 purchase - what does that come to?
Now you may recall that in a previous post I was effusive in my delight over the effects of washing my face with honey.
I've been doing it for how many weeks now? It really does work.
That jar of honey (local honey, my friend - I firmly support NY farmers and bee keepers) was $6.00
I think you can see where this is going.
For the past week the youngest has been washing her face with honey.
It's unbelievable - her face is clear and youthful (one would hope, she is only 12).
In other words, she really likes using the honey - a lot!
(What's even better is you can use the crystallized stuff at the bottom of the jar as a scrub.)
Time for math again.
$67 worth of chemicals with so-so results vs. $6 worth of honey with perceivable results.
You can see how she feels about it:

(Pay no attention to the crap on the couch in the background - focus on the face!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Do Good

Today my boss asked me if perhaps my ego is getting bigger because I'm signing things for him.
I replied in a rather dumbfounded (but slightly disingenuous) manner, "I don't have an ego."
"I know you don't," he admitted.
And really, I don't.
Trust me when I tell you that I have so many things wrong with me it wouldn't be surprising if my co-workers signed a petition encouraging me to become a hermit just to keep my sorry butt out of the general population.
Wow, I'm just bringing myself down here, and I haven't even gotten to the crux of this post!
Seriously, I'm a rather self-effacing individual, and it's usually so easy to find things that I've screwed up.
Rather than dwell on those, I've decided to focus on things at which I excel (because saying it that way is more grammatically correct than the way I have it in the title), and some of my most favorite things in life are reading, knitting, and watching movies.
So I got to thinking that it probably would be good to stop and consider, and perhaps create a list that would allow for reflection and focused direction in the future, and keep me from being too down on myself.
Without further ado here's a list of 20 things at which I excel in no particular order:

1. I can read.
2. I can read fast.
3. I can find lots of books that interest me.
4. I can buy lots of books to read.
5. I can successfully keep at least 10 books in a "currently reading" status without losing place of where I am.
6. I can keep books on the shelf for decades before I get around to reading them.
7. I can pass along books I've read to friends.
8. I can give unread books away.
9. I can knit.
10. I can knit socks.
11. I can buy yarn.
12. I can buy yarn for projects and then forget which project I was buying it for.
13. I can buy yarn for projects and let the yarn sit on the shelf for years.
14. I can start projects.
15. I can successfully keep at least 10 projects in a "currently knitting" status.
16. I can sometimes figure out where I left off when I pick one up again.
17. I can correct a mistake if I let the project sit for long enough (it's amazing how it fixes itself sometimes!)
18. I can tell you quite a bit about classic and contemporary movies.
19. I can tell you quite a bit about classic and contemporary television.
20. I can sit on my butt for hours at a time reading, knitting, or watching movies and TV.

Well, see that?
Already I feel so much better about myself!
I'll have to remember this post, and when I get discouraged about nothing in particular I can pull this list up  and remind myself that there is some worth in what I do (and don't) do.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bitter Harvest - Sheila Connolly

Bitter Harvest (Orchard Mystery, #5)Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When is a mystery not a murder mystery? When no murder takes place. Sheila Connolly's latest outing with orchard farmer Meg Corey is a mystery without a murder, and that's no bad thing. Winter is downtime for an apple orchard farmer, a time to take stock of your stock, of your life, and to catch up on paperwork that was held until the harvest was in. A blizzard, power outage, and a dead furnace leave Meg and her handyman cum love interest Seth Chapin plenty of time to take stock of Meg's colonial farmhouse. During their inspection of one of the front bedrooms they discover an antique sampler shoved in the back corner of a closet lying there undiscovered for well over 100 years. This discovery coupled with a series of odd, almost vindictive events forces Meg to try and figure out the sampler's origins and meaning, as well as uncover who is causing problems around the farm. Once you have suspended disbelief that no one would have found this sampler in the many years of people occupying the house, you'll find the book that much more enjoyable. More genealogy mystery than murder mystery, this cozy is best read in the middle of summer because Connolly so fully evokes the winter weather that I found myself shivering as I read - and it's August!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

We're having weather here too, you know

While the heavily populated east coast has prepared for Hurricane Irene, I was making preparations myself.

I can't very well watch news of the hurricane unless my toes have been properly cleaned and colored.
Hope everyone stays safe!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


How can I resist this concert?
It's only three blocks from my house (win!), and Christine Lavin is a fantastic artist, an alum, and best of all a...well, read the last line and you'll see just how confident I am that I will be in attendance at this performance:

Friday, February 3

Christine Lavin:

My 25th Anniversary Concert: What Was I (EVER!) Thinking?

This Brockport alumna (’73) has made her mark interntationally as a singer, satirist and raconteur extraordinaire. During her concert she will share some of her early hits while introducing her latest songs, all the while weaving hilarious stories through her music, reflecting on the people, events, near disasters and minor miracles that have defined her life and music. As folksy as she is charming, join Lavin for a knitting circle prior to the show.

This concert is sponsored in part by the Office of Alumni Relations and Development.

Friday, February 3 at 7:30 pm

$15/$10 Seniors, Alumni, Faculty and Staff/$8 Students

Tower Fine Arts Center Mainstage

Oh yes, everyone loves a knitter.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mother's Day Murder - Leslie Meier

Mother's Day Murder (Lucy Stone, #15)Mother's Day Murder by Leslie Meier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucy Stone's children are getting older, and in this outing of the Maine mom's sleuthing adventures she is dealing with mean girls from her daughter's school. Also included is an interesting rivalry between two politically and civically active women, the death of one, and a murder of a teenage girl. What Meier tries to relate, and does an adequate job of conveying, is the feeling of helplessness a parent can have when they realize how ignorant they are of the influences in their child's life. Or conversely, how significantly a parent can truly screw up their child when they stifle a child's personal wishes, and control every aspect of their life.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late to the Party, but Still Dancing

I have been getting older.
It can't be helped.
It's almost an epidemic.
We're all getting older!
What can we do to stop it?!?!
Is there any kind of emergency drill?
Part of getting older for me is that my normally very oily skin has now become somewhat dry.
The expensive beauty products that I used to use now don't work, and only make my skin dry out even more.
So I over-hydrate, and then it becomes oily and breaks out, so I have to dry it out...It's a vicious cycle.
Something has changed to fix that - certain information has come my way, and it's been good - and I mean really good - for the past week.
That's how long I've been using a new facial treatment.
See, I was creeping on someone's blog and noticed that they were convinced to take up a challenge by another friend.
What's the challenge?
To wash your face with honey for two weeks.
But won't that be sticky?
Sure, if it gets in your hair, but water washes it right off your face.
So why honey?
The answers can be found on Crunchy Betty's blog, and let me tell you, this blog is a compendium of wonderful, life-changing information.
And you can put food on your face!
The short answer is that I missed out on entering her challenge, but the long answer is that the challenge was only to just kind of participate and maybe win a prize, and I decided to do it anyway.
Man, am I glad that I have.
Not even a week in and a co-worker/cousin/friend told me, "It's like you're glowing!"
I'm sure she was just saying that because we work together/are related through marriage/and are friends, but the truth is my pores are smaller, my skin is softer, and there really is a difference to my skin.
I have been using some honey from Crete that I bought at the Greek Festival in June, but today I went to Wegman's and found some local organic raw honey (and did I mention it's local).
I believe this is the kind I really should be using, but I have to tell you that the probably over-heated honey from Crete still has worked wonders.
So give it a try - challenge yourself.
And the bonus - when you're rinsing off the honey, if you are like me and tend to leave your mouth open as you rinse, you'll get the sweet taste of honey in your mouth as opposed to the chemical taste from your over-priced beauty aides.
Go natural, follow Crunchy Betty's advice, and let me know how it works out for you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yes! No! More Dubstep!

The deal was that if I drove her somewhere then we got to listen to my music.
She pouted for most of the way.
Who is she?
The last one left at home, the spoiled youngest one, the baby otherwise known as She Who Will Turn My Hair Gray Before Its Time.
The rule has always been that whomever is driving has control over what is playing.
If you don't like it then this is why you have your own headphones and iPod.
It reminds me of a Simpsons episode where Lisa wants to listen to something on the radio, and Homer tells her that when she drives she can listen to what she wants. No, I didn't get my rule from The Simpsons. Anyway, next thing you know there's eight-year old Lisa standing in the seat and driving while Homer rides shotgun.
I'd post the clip, but I can't find it (nor have I looked very hard for it).
You'll just have to believe me that it was funny.
So here I am in the car with Pouty Patty feeling kind of bad (but not really) as a Yes song came on my iPod.
"Hey, listen, your sister loves this song!"
Always a way to encourage her since she idolizes her sister.
No joy.
"All I wanted to do," she said, "was listen to one song."
"What, your friends don't like dubstep?"
"No, they don't."
"Fine," I said, "one song."
Now I admit that I'm fond of dubstep - it has a great beat (and you can dance to it, Dick), but I was driving! My car, my rules, right?
So not in my control.
And I think that's what it is all about - it's not that she hates my music, or that I hate her music, well not all of it because I'm really not liking the direction Britney Spears is going, but that we both want to be in control of what we listen to.
I try to tell her how difficult it was when I was growing up because when we took trips it was usually my mother, my stepfather and me, and he would only listen to WEZO which was an easy listening (think of elevator music) radio station.
She should be so lucky that I even let her listen to one song, right?
Just to give you an idea of what we're talking about, here is a song that is not what she was playing last night, but that has been in constant rotation in the car for the past few outings:

Not a bad tune, right?
She's really been into it lately since the older ones went to a Skrillex concert last month.
I like this music - I really do - and when they mix the music, and add in the dub you don't necessarily feel like you have to dance as with old school house music because the dub is more hypnotic.
Do I even know what I'm talking about?
Who knows.
Okay, are you still with me? This is the song I was getting into (being hypnotized by) when she forced me to change to her song:

Alas, musical choices continue to painfully reflect the huge generation gap in American households.
What are your kids forcing you to listen to?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wicked Witch Murder - Leslie Meier

Wicked Witch Murder (Lucy Stone, #16)Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Think of the Wicked Witch Murder as Arthur Miller's The Crucible light. Well, it tries to be anyway. Here's yet another mystery where the mystery doesn't matter as much as the social interaction of the main character, Lucy Stone, with other residents of the small Maine village of Tinker's Cove. A witch, or rather a follower of Wicca, has moved into the village and opened a shop. Her activities as well as the newly-discovered burned body of the coven leader have become the proverbial line in the sand as Meier sets out to prove that the archaic and irrational thinking that drove the Salem Witch Trials is alive and well in modern-day New England. The book is divided up into the five classical Wiccan elements, and actually takes place over several months thus making the solving of the original mystery of who killed the witch really not that important. This means that when Lucy is placed in danger once again, I'm really not feeling all that into what happens to her because again - the mystery doesn't matter. Several episodes in the story are never totally fleshed out, but I will admit that Leslie Meier does conjure up a wonderful New England town.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Books Can Be Deceiving - Jenn McKinlay

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery, #1)Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book and thought, "Hey, I would say that," or "I would have done that"? For me, Books Can Be Deceiving is just that kind of a book, and it is filled with realistic characters. These are the people you would meet in any small town across America, they just happen to live on the coast of Connecticut. Lindsey Norris is the library director, and is settling into her groove in small town Briar Creek. Her college friend, Beth, who has been working at the library for ten years, has an unfortunate encounter with a corpse who just happens to be the boyfriend she dumped the night before. Lindsey and Beth don't actually seek to solve the mystery, only to clear Beth's name before the small-town police chief can effortlessly pin the blame on her. Typical mystery, but written with a certain intelligence and keen eye. Author Jenn McKinlay hits the nail on the head when describing certain bibliophile lifestyle choices, such as having "comfort books" close at hand (who doesn't have those by their bed). And any book that opens with knitting is a good one (although how Lindsey turned a pair of socks on two circular needles into a hat is beyond me - I'll have to check that out). The denouement is a bit flat, but still a rather enjoyable read, and fully worth four stars.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Acting Apish

I'm a huge "Planet of the Apes" fan.
Bet you didn't know that.
Yessiree, I do so love the 1960s/1970s Planet of the Apes films - there's something about tales of a dystopian society that puts our contemporary lifestyle in perspective.
And they serve as such wonderful allegories for the consequences of our societal sins!
My kids think I'm a geek (for this and many other reasons) because I can tell them the names and plots from each of the films in the series.
So I'm really anxious to see the new film, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
For the record, I never did watch the latest remake from a few years ago.
Why mess with cheesy special effects - it adds to the authenticity.
I'd really like to get out and see this film, and since no one in the house seems to want to go with me, I may just have to go on my own.
Anyone interested?
Here's the trailer in case you've been living in a cave and have missed the previews:

And just in case you want to remember how the first Caesar came into our world, here's the trailer from "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes":

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finding Comfort in Food

It's difficult to lose weight when the phrase, "Comfort Food" carries so much (no pun intended) weight. Being an emotional eater, and looking to food for relief, or pleasure, is dangerous.
I know that when I am upset there are certain foods that instantly make me feel better. When talking about the pleasure principle, for me, nothing makes me feel better than peanut butter and crackers.
It's gotten to the point where even if I'm not upset, eating some crackers and peanut butter brings back the impression that I was upset, but now am feeling better, and I draw comfort from this.
As with anything, I can't eat too many, but even a quick consumption of a package of Ritz crackers makes me feel fully emotionally replete.
Being driven to consume certain foods based upon a visual stimulus is even worse.
How bad are fast food commercials when you're trying to diet?
Those commercials are the worst because even if you don't like Wendy's (which I don't), there's nothing more tempting than seeing a commercial for a Wendy's double burger (or anything) and then feeling compelled to go get one RIGHT NOW.
Then there is the olfactory stimulation that makes us crave certain foods
For instance, does the smell of freshly popped popcorn instantly take you to the theatre where you want to comfortably settle in for a film?
I cannot go to the theatre and not get popcorn. It's virtually impossible. Yes, I've done it a few times, but it's hard for me to focus on the film without my hands having something to do (knitters get this, I'm sure).
And the smell of popcorn literally drives me crazy.
And then we have the memories that are the most dangerous of all - the situational comfort food.
Does the thought of a snowball fight, or building a snow fort make you crave chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa?
When someone mentions a Sunday dinner, does your mind immediately conjure up fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese?
The worst thing to happen, however, is to eat just because it's there.
I can't tell you how many times while at work, or reading, or watching a movie at home, I've opened a bag of crackers, totally ignored the serving size, and started munching away only to look up a short while later and find that three quarters of the bag is gone!
Potluck dinners, or all you can eat buffets are like mined battlefields.
So much to try, and all these good foods - its impossible not to go back up for just one more round.
Even literature is filled with images of families eating meals, and celebrations filled with ritual feasts.
We probably need look no further back than our religious rituals to see how closely intertwined food is with the rite. Look at our holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter - even the supermarkets know what to stock. Have you ever bought Halloween candy in September, just so you're ready, and then found that you have to buy more because the first batch has been consumed? By you?
The only place where I am safe from consuming food is when I'm drinking beer.
This is hardly a plus, since beer  has never been considered a valid diet aid, but I just can't mix my vices, so I don't even eat peanuts (not that they serve them anymore) when I drink.
I believe there was a cartoon character who said, "When I drinks, I drinks, and when I eats, I eats."
Or maybe that's just something I made up in my head when I was drinking (not that I really do a lot of that, so don't worry).
Life with food cravings is tough, and I wish there was some magic pill that would shut off my food stimulation switch.
I do realize, however, that finding comfort in food is all about mental satisfaction, and has nothing to do with a physical need.
I just have to remind myself that food is not there to make me emotionally well.
But dang, it sure does taste good

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday, in which I win a free book

I won a free book from the local bookstore.
How exciting is that!
I just love getting free books, and it doesn't even matter if they're any good or not, I'll take them.
The book I just picked up was My Name is Mary Sutter.

Have you ever heard of it?
I might have, possibly, but does it matter? It was free!
Actually I had originally won The Help, but I have the audiobook, and I've listened to it already, so I went with the unknown book.
And then added it to my stack of other "to be read" books.
The days are just not long enough for all of my leisure activities.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Poor You

Oh, my poor blog.
If you were a fish, you would have been long dead for lack of attention.
Should we reacquaint ourselves?
Yes, let's.
How about a game of 20 questions to catch each other up to date?
Well since we know that you've been languishing, why don't you ask me the questions, and I'll see what I can come up with as good rationale for ignoring you for so long.
Sound good, blog?
Awesome. Shall I begin?

1) Since January, how have you been filling your time?
Same old, same old. Knitting, reading, working my butt off (figuratively), listening to music, listening to books on tape, and more work.

2) You seem to have been doing a lot of reading. Any particular reason?
Well, blog, I have been tracking my reading through GoodReads, and I entered into the 2011 Reading Challenge. My first goal was to read 175 books throughout the year, but after sucking wind (figuratively again) at the middle of February by trying to read a book every other day, I decided to downgrade my goal to 100 books.

3) One hundred books? That's impressive. How are you doing so far?
Great, actually. Officially I'm listed as having completed 79, but it's really only 77. I gave up on two books, but they ended up on my "read" list. I could fix that, but the next challenge is in remembering that I have to subtract. Keeps me on my toes.

4) Can I be your friend on GoodReads?
Seriously? You are part of me. Don't go all doppelganger on me, blog. Certainly if any readers out there, if I have any left, would like to be friends, they can find me on there somehow. I think via my email - That is if anyone is interested. Not sure what I can offer you.

5) Well what does this site have?
Again, there are a lot of capabilities, and certainly I am not using it to its fullest extent.

6) So then why bother?
I fancy myself with having some kind of ambition to write, if only for my own entertainment, so I do write short reviews of some of the books I've read.

7) Changing the subject here, since all you seem to be doing is reading and then writing on this website, and completely ignoring your blog-
Hey, don't get all snarky, blog, I came back didn't I?
Fair. How's your summer been?
Dreadful. Not completely so, but busy enough to make it seem as if the time is - excuse the expression - pissing itself away. Oh, and I got cellulitis on my leg from a mosquito bite, or razor cut, or something. I never want that again.

8) Is this an indication that you're getting old?
Could be, rabbit. Even still, I may be old, fat, slightly misanthropic, and unfit for human company, but at my high school reunion earlier this month I did score three free beers, and a shot. I'd call that a win.

9) Do you promise to visit me more often? And provide pictures?
I will definitely make more of an effort, but you know how I am about sustaining long-term relationships.... Cheers, blog, and thanks for the forgiveness.

10) See you tomorrow?
Er, well, we'll see. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Every Woman Needs More Than One

I called DH over to look at this very nice handbag for sale on RueLaLa.
Most years I like to buy my oldest (I almost wrote "oddest" in a very non-Freudian way) daughter a good quality handbag for her birthday or Christmas.
It's a good investment, plus it's always nice to be able to switch bags in order not to wear them out.
You're supposed to do this with shoes, I would assume that the same principle applies to handbags as well.
So I showed this bag to DH, and said, "Wouldn't this be a nice gift for her?"
Seeing as her birthday isn't until November, kudos to me for thinking ahead, right?
He said, "Sheesh (that's a noise), how many bags does she need?"
I gasped and in shock replied, "Huh?"
Really now, she definitely needs more than one, or two, or even three.
What is he thinking?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Way to Be Called Old

I was talking to my oldest daughter the other day, and telling her how much I've been enjoying watching the show Hot in Cleveland.
Another time when you know the internet is such an awesome thing.
All the episodes are available on the TVLand Website.
It really is funny, and one of the best things about it is that all three women (minus Betty White) are brunettes!
Yea for brunettes!
(No offense to the blondes out there, but come on.)

So here's how our conversation went:

Me: This show is so great. It's funny, and refreshing.
Her: Meh. That show annoys me.
Me: What?!? It's a really good show, how can you not like it.
Her: Well it's for your demographic.

Could I be any older?
To her, I guess not.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A bit too ambitious perhaps?

I mentioned in an earlier post that my goal this year is to read 175 books.
Wait, I should say "enjoy" 175 books, and that could be true, but at least one of the books I've read this year has been not so enjoyable.
Why is it that the bad ones always take so long to slog through?
Life really is too short to waste on bad books (or mean people), and yet I/we still do.
I think, however, that I've been a bit too ambitious in stocking my "to read" list.
I currently have eight books checked out from the library, one book that just came in through Inter-Library Loan, a new Monica Ferris that I bought before Christmas and still haven't read, and a huge stack of books in my room that are truly gathering dust.
Oh, and the audio books from Audible that are in my library waiting to be listened to/read, such as The House at Riverton, The French Lieutenant's Woman, and Crime and Punishment, to name a few.
And, not to mention all the books on my Kindle!
I think I need either a good blizzard or a very long vacation (with pay!) so that I can just read, read, read.
Now let's not even discuss all of my yarn stash that I need to tackle....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
After watching the movies and cartoons more times than I can count with my kids when they were younger, the TMNT gang kind of grows on you.
Last year for Christmas I bought them TMNT snuggies, well all but one (Michelangelo) because Hot Topic sold out of them so quickly that it was amazing.
I actually called all the Hot Topic stores in the area (even in Erie, PA), and my friend Kat said she'd pick it up for me in Virginia Beach if the store had one, but no joy.
So now I'll continue to search for the elusive Michelangelo snuggie, and hope that one day I can find it.
In the meantime I can actually say that I am surprised that I am Donatello.
Odd because I really did not do well in high school.
Well I suppose if my school were in a sewer, and my pen a Bo staff, and perhaps if I stretched my imagination a whole lot....then yeah, I can see it.

You Are Donatello

You are definitely the brainy one in your group of friends. Everyone knows you're super smart.
It's likely that you were the top student in your class... as long as school didn't totally bore you.
You are inventive and creative. You'll happily accept the label of "geek."
You may have a lot of brainpower, but you're not a nerdy wimp. You also have a lot of physical power.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm on a roll

That's right.
A Roll.
I'm on one.
Not to eat, but because my knitting has been moving along quite well.
(Hope I don't jinx myself!)
One pair of socks finished, four other pairs on the needles, and one new pair started.
Still love the Kitchener Stitch.
I don't mind getting to the end of my socks because the Kitchener Stitch does not baffle me.
I actually understand it!
Math - that I don't get - but the Kitchener Stitch - that I get.
Perhaps we were related, Earl Kitchener and I.
Speaking of food, and being a kitchener (see link above) we were, weren't we?
Way up there!
Rolls - Food - Kitchener - get it?
I got a wonderful cookbook in the mail last week.
I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but Wow - and I mean WOW!
The recipes in here are for some good, down home, simple cooking.
And the front cover pictures my favorite comfort food:

Odd, don't you think, that they called it Simple Comforts especially with a picture of some wonderful tomato soup and grilled cheese on the cover - it's like they knew!
Oh yummy, yummy, yummy.
And the cost is not all that high - I got my copy through Amazon (and no, this is not a shameless or paid plug).
Just sharing the love.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Not new music, but relatively new to me

Too good not to share:


And just to provide some variety, here's her cover of a Kinks song:

For the record, this song, "Village Green Preservation Society" is the theme song for the British tv show "Clatterford" known in England as "Jam and Jerusalem" which leads me to three questions that remain unanswerable, but I'll ask them anyway:

1) why does the name always have to be changed (or dumbed down) for Americans, i.e., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone became the Sorcerer's Stone

2) why is British tv so much better than American tv

3) why does American tv always have to remake a British show only to see it fail miserably nine times out of ten (the only success being "The Office")

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Do Audiobooks Count?

The other day I joked and told a co-worker that I was considering making a resolution to make 365 resolutions this year, one for each day.
Somehow, though, that doesn't seem like too bad an idea.
Everyday is supposed to be a fresh start, so why not be able to resolve each day to do something new, or correct something that you failed at the day before.
One of my actual resolutions, or goals, this year is to read more.
Fortunately I got a head start during December, so I'm sure my momentum will carry me through the year.
Through GoodReads I decided to challenge myself to reading 175 books this year.
This shouldn't be too hard, however, if the calibre of books I continue to read are commensurate with what I'm reading now: cozy mysteries.
You know the type of books that are no more than 200 pages each, not quite high literature at all.
I know that the one odd Charles Dickens book, or the Norse literature that is in my "To Read" queue will completely throw me off my goal because those books can often take days to read when they're not languishing in the "Half-Read Book" pile.
This is why I'm front loading the shorter texts in my challenge, so that later on I can actually have a chance to reach my goal.
Kind of cheating (myself) don't you think?
Of course I'm still driven to knit with purpose (and purposefully knit) this year, so this raises a conundrum for a bibliophile/chain reader such as myself.
When I'm knitting and listening to an audiobook (currently The Distant Hours, great book, spectacular prose), does that audiobook count towards my total read?
I say yes, my little Guppy says no.
What say you?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sometimes I forget that the musician wants me to buy more than just one album

See how I used the word "album" in the title?
That's how I'll always date myself.
I mix the word CD into my conversation every now and then, but to me a compilation of 10-12 songs will always be an "album".
Anyway, that's not what I'm here to talk about.
And the other thing I won't talk about is knitting because at chez moi none has been getting done.
Perhaps tonight while watching my little Guppy swim I'll knit.
What I am here to talk about is a musician, one who passed away today: Gerry Rafferty

This is probably not the song you're used to hearing by him, but his album "City to City" is one of my choices for a perfect album meaning that every cut on it is perfect. To me at least.
And I will always love this album, and think fondly of this very talented man.
His voice is smooth and soothing, and will always remind of 1978.
As I'm writing this I've listened to "The Ark" three times, and "Baker Street" four times.
Still not sick of it!
Unfortunately, I never explored any of his other music.
I'm sure he would have liked to have been known as an evolving artist, and not as a man who is known only for his album "City to City" or even by the single "Baker Street" from that album.

You probably also remember him as the lead singer of Stealer's Wheel (hit single - "Stuck in the Middle With You"), but I bet he was much more than that.
And now he will be just a memory.
Fortunately many of us have fond memories of Gerry Rafferty.
I actually feel quite emotional, as if part of my childhood is gone, but you know that train left the station a long time ago, so I guess I am just sad.
Well at least we have his music.
Some people don't even leave that much behind.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Let's talk about paper dolls for a minute.
Remember them?
Some may, and some may not.
I think paper dolls are definitely not as popular now as they were when I was a child.
For one thing I don't think children now have the patience to actually cut, or punch out, all the dolls and clothing.
And for another reason, they usually want something a bit more tangible.
Fortunately my mother has kept all of my paper dolls, and I like to pull them out every once in a while and look at them.
They are so dated, but I love them. One set of paper dolls that I absolutely love is mostly because their clothes epitomize high fashion to me: my Dawn paper dolls.
Do you remember Dawn Dolls?
Here's what one of the paper dolls looked like, and this is the dress that came with the Dawn doll:

Dawn Dolls hit their height of popularity in the early '70s, and then died.
Probably because they weren't as big as Barbie dolls, and by that I mean in size.
(Another reason no one plays with paper dolls anymore is because they're so prone to ripping, as evidenced in the above photo.)
The dolls were much smaller in size than Barbie, but they did try to market them.
In another instance of "It's amazing what you can find on YouTube", here is a video of some Dawn Doll commercials and infomercials:


Watching that video makes me want all those Dawn Dolls!
Should I check out eBay?
You have to remember, I was only 7 years old when they came out, so to say my fashion sense is often stuck in the '70s would be an understatement.
Now one thing I've always said, or at least in recent years, is that if I ever won the lottery I would get an entire wardrobe made from the clothes my Dawn paper dolls have.
I love the look of them that much.
Some of the clothes would work in any era.
Take this snazzy little mini-dress:

 I could totally rock this outfit - maxi coat anyone?

And then some of the clothes just don't any era.
Can't you see yourself heading towards your harvest gold refrigerator in this outfit?

And this one might work if you stopped trying to wear draperies for clothing:
 And I can't even figure out what to do with this hot mess:

So yeah, if I EVER win the lottery, and you see some hot mama walking down the street wearing new/vintage 1970's-style clothing, well you know it will be me.
Anyone want to come over and play paper dolls?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

And here we are on Binary Day

I write that title like I'm some kind of computer whiz.
I'm not.
My son actually told me that it is Binary Day - you know, 01/01/11 - because I'm not smart enough to realize that.
Unfortunately I didn't finish my goal yesterday of knitting those socks, but I have a great excuse.
I made a batch of 16 Bean Soup, and then canned 8 pint jars.
Plus we took my mother out for dinner, and then I fell asleep in the chair from 9-11:00, and was awakened so I could be alert when the new year came in.
I didn't get much done on my socks today either, as the puppy woke me up at 5:00, and then after cleaning the kitchen I made a batch of Split Pea Soup and canned that as well.
Love, love, love my pressure canner.
So this evening while watching - I hate to admit this - the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (I know! shoot me!), I picked up my first sock and am past the gusset and working on the foot.
Now I'm heading back upstairs to work on it again.
Good night, y'all, and hope you have a wonderful new year!