Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A to Z

I’ve seen this book A to Z post making the rounds.  What fun!  Also, some of my favorite book finds…

faff589ea36ddb345032b5e7a04c139e Gregory Colbert – Boy Reading to Elephant -Ashes to Snow Nomadic Gallery

Author you’ve read the most books from: Read, read, like with my eyes, would have to be Marian Keyes (Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married and Sushi for Beginners) and Mario Puzo (The Godfather and The Last Don).  I’ve read all of both authors’ books with those in parenthesis as favorites.  However, over the last couple of years I have “read” all of Michael Connolly’s 29 books and 15 of Robert Crais’ books on audiobook while walking the dog.

Best Sequel Ever: I think the only 2nd book of a series I’ve liked more than the first one was The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.  It was actually a trilogy, but that book was so exciting.

Currently Reading:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  It was given to me as a gift last month, and I’m hoping to get through it before starting my next book club book.

Drink of Choice While Reading: It is a treat if I can drink a latte while reading, but the reality is that mostly I just read at night so coffee is OUT of the question.

98c416cf831d349ebb26b7f016d3c6edE-Reader or Book, book?: I prefer reading a real book, but I have to admit it’s really nice always having a book accessible on my iPad or iPhone.  They are very convenient.  Oddly enough though, I usually find real books less expensive (library or used) so it irks me to pay $10+ for an electronic book.
thCAFPY663Fictional Character You Would Have Dated in High School: Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance: There are a ton of books I only read because they were chosen by my book club.  I NEVER would have picked up Life of Pi or The Thirteenth Tale and I enjoyed both very much.

The best bookstore (Boston, MA), ever!

Hidden Gem Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Maryann Shaffer

Important Moment in Your Reading Life: Both my parents are/were avid readers so I grew up reading all the time.  However, joining my book club has pushed me to read outside my preferred genres, and that has been a good thing.

Just Finished: The Black Box by Michael Connolly (audiobook) and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple(written).

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: I don’t like SciFi, horror, or anything too froo froo.


I have this up in my classroom.

Longest Book You’ve Read:  The Covenant (+/- 1200) by James Michener and The Gulag Archipelago Volumes 1-3 (+/- 600 per book) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, both in a high school humanities class.  I remember they were painful.  However, I did reread The Covenant before/after going to South Africa a couple of years ago and did better with it.

Major Book Hangover because of: I’ve had a few for various reasons.  The Book Thief moved me to the core, The End of Your Life Book Club moved me to tears, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy was SO freaking exciting everything else I read for about a year afterwards couldn’t hold a candle to it. 


Number of Bookcases You Own: I have this entertainment built-in in my family room and all of the shelves (minus the TV space) have books on them.  Other than a few that I have read and won’t get rid of, the rest are books I wish to read.  I also have a couple of shelves with art books in the office.  I used to have a few of those fake wood/Ikea type book cases that were full of books that I had read.  During one of my purge periods I cleaned them out and gave the books and shelves to friends or Goodwill.  My classroom is where the book habit is completely out of control.   There is a three-shelf bookshelf along one entire wall full of books, plus I have four cupboards that house them as well.


One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:  I don’t read books more than once, with the exception of the books I use for teaching.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret has been the most fun to read multiple times.  I did reread The Great Gatsby after the most recent movie came out.

referred Place to Read: I like reading at a coffee shop or in my living room on the couch.  However, there isn’t a lot of time for reading in either place so most of the reading is done in bed right before going to sleep. 

uote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:  I mark up books like crazy when I read underlining or highlighting interesting word choice, phrasing, and inspiring or thought-provoking quotes.  To pick just one is nearly impossible.  I do like this one an awful lot…
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.  And one that really resonated with me is “And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say.  They think everyone else does too.” – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Reading Regret:  Technology and work have eaten up a lot of my reading time.  I’m lucky to get through a book a month these days when I used to get through them in a few days. 

eries You Started and Need to Finish – I just downloaded the David Baldacchi’s Camel Club and King & Maxwell series to listen to when I walk the dog.  I’ll finish those before moving on to anything new, audio book wise.  Otherwise I don’t tend to read many series.  Oh, wait, I did start the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  I think there are a couple more that I haven’t yet read.  I may or may not get to them though.

hree of Your All-Time Favorite Books:  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (yes, there are three but I’m counting as one), The Book Thief, Shadow of the Wind…the list goes on and on.  There’s no way to pick just three.

Unapologetic For: Mainstream detective novels like Connolly and Crais and Chick-Lit like Keyes and Kinsella.

Very Excited For This Release: I just saw that Michael Connolly has a new Mickey Haller book coming out in December.  I look forward to that.  At the movies the other day I saw a preview for the movie The Book Thief.  Loved, loved, loved that book.  Although book movies are usually disappointing this one looks good.  It comes out in November…I can’t wait!

Worst Bookish Habit:  I’ve never been terribly careful with my books as I like to mark them up, dog-ear pages, etc.  They are well-loved.  I also fall asleep shortly after beginning to read, one of the main reasons it takes me so long to get through them.  However, my worst habit has been committed more recently and that’s not finishing books before starting a new one.  I used to be completely faithful to the book I was reading, powering through even if it wasn’t a favorite.  Now, I don’t really think twice before putting a book down and starting a new one.  There are currently five in that predicament sitting on the nightstand hoping to be picked up and continued.  The problem is that it’s been so long since I started them I’ll have to reread most likely.

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  A wonderful book that I’ve recommended to many…most who didn’t end up liking it. Oh well, I did!


Your Latest Book Purchase: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  It was a book mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club.


ZZZ Snatcher Book (the last book that kept you up WAY too late): As I’ve mentioned reading books in bed make me fall asleep, but The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books kept me on my toes.


Now, with all my complaining about not having time to read, I probably could have read something new in the amount of time it took me to write this.  Ha ha!  What are you reading?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Blast From the Past

Before my mom returned home a few of weeks ago, she got in touch with an old family friend who had recently moved back to California after being gone for several years.  Pat’s arrival into town sparked some reminiscing. 

Before I tell the story, I have to just put it out there that I had/have good parents.  I didn’t always like how they parented (because I was a brat what kid does), but they didn’t ruin my life either.  I have to preface with that, because, while funny, this story doesn’t put them in the best light. 

It’s very difficult for a California Valley Girl to admit this, but my parents were square dancers for part of my formative years {hides head in shame}.  While they initially started because they both enjoyed dancing, it was clear that the socializing and partying were far more fun and they took full advantage of it.  As, when they first started, I was too young to stay at home on my own, they sometimes hired a babysitter to stay with me when they went out, but most of the time, as the only child, they dragged me along with them.  I was a mascot of sorts – Jack and Sandy’s little girl who sat in a folding chair on the sidelines reading her books or coloring or bouncing to the music.  After the dances, the group headed to the local pizza place for pizza and beer.  That part of the night always lasted much longer than the dances.  I have vivid memories of my mom making me a “bed” of two dark-wooded chairs upholstered in red velvet pushed together and falling asleep in the middle of the pizza place on numerous Saturday nights.

One such Saturday was the night that my mom and I had a good laugh over.  Pat and her husband Dale lived two blocks away, and they drove the five of us to the dance that evening.  After a long night at the pizza place (and a lot of beer), my dad carried me out to the car and the five of us drove back home – maybe four miles away.  Just before turning off the main road into the neighborhood Dale was pulled over by the police.  

Now this was back in the late seventies, maybe early eighties, so the crackdown on/education about drinking and driving had not quite happened.  The officer said that Dale was driving a little listlessly and asked if he had been drinking.  In the straightest of face, Dale said, “No sir, we’re square dancers and drinking is against the rules.”  When asked where we were headed, the men in the car pointed in the direction of the neighborhood – just blocks away.  When the officer went back to the car to check Dale’s license, Pat was almost hysterical.  “Oh no!” she cried, “We’re going to be arrested and they’re going to put Kimmy in foster care!”  At the time, no one was laughing, but now that’s the most infamous line of the story. 

Anyhow, the officer came back to the car and let Dale off with a warning to go straight home.  They were lucky, because just a couple of short years later, at the least, Dale would have been hauled off to jail. 

Just last week, I was out with one of my old friends from the neighborhood and we laughed about my parents, their social life, and this story in particular.  She mentioned remembering how there were always people over at my house.  And there were.  I would imagine after that night, staying in and partying in their own home sounded like a much better idea. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Nap

I don’t nap.  I have never been much of a napper.  This afternoon I got home from work about 5 with a load of stuff to do.  After washing up, changing, and basically de-teachering, I stupidly crawled into bed for just a minute…those are famous last words I think.  Just a minute turned into an hour and a half, and when I woke up at 6:30 I was useless.  With eyes half closed I shuffled through the house halfheartedly completing some chores.  I’ve never understood the appeal to naps.  They don’t invigorate me at all.  Instead they turn me into a zombie until bedtime when, miraculously, I’m wide awake again.  I just don’t get naps.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little Museum

This weekend I met a friend in Pasadena.  Our main intention for going was a visit to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, but we took advantage of being in Old Town to do some shopping as well.

The day started with a trip to DSW, the mother ship a huge shoe store. stuff 278
stuff 303I had received a gift card last month and wanted to put it towards a new pair of shoes.  Instead, I came home with three new pairs of shoes.  (sigh)  In my defense, I haven’t done anything but work or sleep since August, so I think I probably deserved them.

We also stopped into Dick Blick, who was having a sale, for art supplies. 
stuff 304I never go into that store with a plan so I leave with impulse buys, but when I get home remember all the things I should have put on a list. 

Also in Pasadena is the Norton Simon Museum.  I visit there regularly, and one of the many highlights is Sam Francis’ Basel Mural I.
2011-07-26-basel_mural 2011-07-26-basel_mural_closeupAbstract art isn’t always my cup of tea, but the technique, detail, and the sheer size of this work make it one that I enjoy visiting. 

When the Pasadena Museum of California Art opened its Sam Francis exhibit in August, seeing it was on my to-do list.  It took two months to get there, but I finally made it there this weekend.

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Up until yesterday, I had not visited the museum which only opened about a decade ago.  It was founded, and aptly named, to highlight California art. 

There are three collections being highlighted at this time, but the Francis exhibit is by far the largest and most impressive of the three.  It is very comprehensive, documenting his art career from the beginning.  It was interesting watching his style change from his start, which was very realistic, to his abstract pieces, which he is most known for.   stuff 299stuff 297Unfortunately, photos weren’t really allowed in the exhibit.  So I just sneakily caught a few.  Abstract art is always controversial.  “Well, I could do that,” is often heard when viewing abstract art.  I’ve been known to say that myself a time or two.  But his work is really quite technique driven.  The best part of a museum is to get up close to the work and really see it.  There is a lot to see in Francis’ work.

The parking lot, which sits under the main floor of the museum, is a kick.  It was fun walking around and looking at the art down there too.
stuff 281stuff 279 stuff 280
PMCA is quite a small space for a museum, but it was a very nice visit.  We were able to take our time and see everything in a couple of hours.  The exhibitions are constantly changing, so I am looking forward to see what comes next.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My New Favorite Color

This afternoon while making a sample of a class project I dug through the “Lost Crayon” bucket looking for a green.  I found one with what looked to have the normal green wrapping and began coloring with it.  Much to my surprise it wasn’t the regular “green” that is standard in a Crayola box of 16. 

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After rolling the crayon around in my hand I found the name – asparagus.  Asparagus!?!?!  Personally, I like asparagus, but isn’t it interesting that, essentially, a toy marketed to kids would have the name “asparagus”.  I can see macaroni and cheese or cotton candy or even wild watermelon appealing to kids, but asparagus?  I wonder if the crayon has inspired any young ones to start eating asparagus. 

Anyhow, it’s a great color.  Someone must have misplaced it out of crayons brought from home.  I’ll have to find what color sets asparagus comes in and get a couple for the classroom.

Monday, October 14, 2013

And Then I Screamed Bloody Murder

Late Saturday night while getting ready for bed I entered the bathroom and was joined by the biggest bug I have ever seen.  I’m not a fan of bugs, but can hold my own ridding them from the house.  While I might let out a yelp when tracking down a spider, I can kick a cricket’s ass without batting an eye because they make me mad when they come into my house making all that noise. 

Saturday’s bug however was basically a monster.  It was huge!  I screamed like a little girl and ran out of the bathroom closing the door behind me while I figured out a plan.  I armed myself with a magazine and a bag-lined trash can and went back inside the bathroom.  It scurried next to my feet as I screamed and closed the door again, afraid it was going to run out into the house and I’d never find it.  Closed inside, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do as just stepping on it or squashing it wasn’t it option being that it was the size of my fist.  First, I covered it with the trashcan.  I thought about leaving it there until I moved it died, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep well knowing it was under there.  There were various attempts to collect it on the magazine or grab it with my hand inside the bag all resulting in me screaming at the top of my lungs and the bug ending up wiggling wildly on its back.  FINALLY, I used the magazine to shovel the bug into the trashcan and then dumped it into the flushing toilet, again screaming like a mad woman.  I took a sigh of relief when the bug didn’t resurface in the toilet, but I flushed it again, just to be safe. 

Even though I was very glad to move out of a condo and into my house, there was a part of me that was a little bit nervous about not sharing a wall with my neighbors anymore.  I felt like if I were ever being attacked by a robber or a murderer, at least in the condo someone would hear me scream.  In a house I wasn’t so sure.  That is until Saturday night.  About 10 or 15  minutes after the giant bug’s demise, there was a knock at my door and then the doorbell rang.  Now it was after midnight at this time.  If it were possible, my anxiety level jumped.  Who could possibly be at my door at this time of night and how could they possibly think I would open the door at this time of night.  I tiptoed to the guestroom to look outside the window.  There was a police car blocking my driveway.  I don’t know if that made me feel better or worse.  I went to the door and without opening it called out, “Yes”.  Through the door the officer told me there had been reports of screaming and he needed to check if everything was alright. 

To make a long story short, my bathroom and bedroom window were open and the screams during the giant bug murder were heard by my next-door neighbors who in turned called the police.  To my credit, I think the officer found my excuse amusing, but I was terribly embarrassed in explaining the situation. 

So clearly, I had nothing to worry about no longer living in a condo, but I’ll tell you what, it took a long time to get to sleep that  night. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

50 Shades of Casting

Over the last year or so Hollywood has been buzzing about the making of the book 50 Shades of Grey into a movie.  We’ve been inundated by the question of who would play the main characters.  There were many rumors flying around until about about a month ago when it was announced that Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson would play the lead roles. 

untitled1Hunnam is best known for playing “Jax” on “Sons of Anarchy”.  In addition to his being very good looking, I am slightly obsessed with a fan of that television show and think he plays his role very well.  Johnson is the daughter of Don Johnson (from Miami Vice fame) and Melanie Griffiths.  She’s a cute girl, but I am not familiar with anything she’s done.

Regardless of their attractiveness, after the casting was announced, I wasn’t convinced either were a good fit.  I read 50 Shades for book club about a year ago, and although I wasn’t impressed with the writing, I definitely had a picture in my mind as to what I envisioned each character to look like.  Neither Hunnam nor Johnson fit the bill in my opinion.  He’s too young looking and rough around the edges and she’s too cute and perky. 

However, since I wasn’t being consulted on the casting, I didn’t think too much about it beyond, Meh!  I may or may not see the film if/when it comes out and while entertainment reporters/bloggers worked themselves into a tizzy over the news, I didn’t really care. 

This afternoon, Jlo and I went to the movies and this very subject came up.  I mentioned my confusion over the casting and shared my opinion for Christian Gray – Michael Fassbender. 
536989_413432635416592_822554422_n After pointing him out in a preview that played before our movie, Jlo agreed that he was a much better choice.  Again, too bad we aren’t in casting. 

Anyhow, come to find out, tonight it was reported that Hunnam has dropped out of the film citing a busy schedule with “Sons” but many are speculating that the outrage by obsessed fans over his casting may have scared him off.  So now 50 Shades is Christian-less again.  The names they are currently throwing around are Robert Pattinson (rolls eyes) and Matt Bomer.  Bomer might aesthetically fit the bill, but since he’s an out-and-proud gay man, the audience might be unconvinced. 

So if anyone is asking me about casting, I vote for Michael Fassbender.  I’ll go see the movie if he’s Christian Grey!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom of Night…

According to their unofficial motto, nothing stops the US Postal Service from delivering the mail.  Up until now, I haven’t had any reason to believe otherwise either.  However, exactly one month ago the neighborhood mailbox I use fell over.

stuff 672 Since, my mail has stopped being delivered.  Instead, my 14 neighbors and I have to pick up our mail at the post office.  That wouldn’t be so terrible except that the mail isn’t being held at the local post office nor at the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th closest post office.  In fact, in order to get to the post office holding my mail hostage I have to drive past two other USPS offices.  So for the past month, rather than getting my mail delivered daily I have to leave work early once or twice a week to get there before they close and drive about 10 miles in the opposite direction to pick up an incomplete stack of mail – funnily enough even though the mail is being held AT the post office, I’m receiving bills and other items later than usual.  On more than one occasion I’ve timed my pick ups with the delivery of a letter, bill, or package and low-and-behold, it hasn’t been sorted into my stack of mail yet. 

To make things even more difficult, at this point there is no end in sight.  The post office says that the neighborhood kids were playing near it and knocked it over so it’s not the USPS’s responsibility.  The Home Owners’ Association, on the other hand, says that the box was badly rusted (which it is) and fell over due to deterioration.  It’s probably a combination of both, but while each party plays the blame game, it's the neighborhood who is being inconvenienced. 

They say it’s the little things that kill you.  This is driving me mad!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

September is Over, but I Might Be Losing Some Steam

It’s so crazy that we have started October of 2013.  Thankfully, it hasn’t been 100 degrees so far this month, but it still doesn’t yet feel like fall.  The Santa Anas picked up this weekend.  The winds have been very strong, so strong in fact they are moving the patio furniture and even the stainless steel grill around the backyard.  Rigby isn’t so sure she likes going outside when those things chase her around.  At least the winds are usually the first sign of fall.

As mentioned last month, I’m starting to resent this calendar a little bit each month.  There are only so many ways to make date squares interesting and I’m having trouble scrounging up the energy to spend a lot of time on the creation of it for some reason. 

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A few pages in my art journal.

stuff 391 stuff 392

A few pages in my Moleskine sketchbook.

stuff 393 stuff 394 The Moleskine is now out of paper.  I really like the their watercolor book, but the paper has a bit of a texture to it that I don’t always care for.  I debated getting another one or just making my own with some left over Fabriano hot press paper that I have and LOVE.  I decided to make my own for the time being. 

I found an outdated desk calendar in my stash, doodled on the back of it, and then wrapped it around a couple pieces of medium weight cardboard.  Since the  watercolor paper was left over ends of a larger sheet it was a bit smaller than I would have liked so I decided to do a Coptic stitch binding.  The book opens flat and I don’t lose any of the width. stuff 395

It is a bit smaller than I’m used to with the Moleskine, but I’ve enjoyed playing around in it, especially with that amazing paper.

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Happy October!  Happy Fall! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And 6 Months Later…Aveiro!

After two weeks of swimming traveling through Portugal, we ended up in Aveiro.  FINALLY,  it was an absolutely beautiful day!  Of course, it was the last day.

Known as the “Venice of Portugal” due to its canals, Aveiro sits along the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a beautiful, bright, clean city.


The colors accented by white are so striking, and   THAT tile that I fell in love with was found all over. And I couldn’t get enough of the old train station. 


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When finding out we were spending the day in Aveiro, everyone recommended Ovos Moles de Aveiro which is the local pastry.  Up until then, the local pastry was the only food I was really a fan of in Portugal.  So we made a stop at one of the bakeries certified to sell it.  The sugar and egg yolk filling is even sold by the bucket so the pastries can be made at home. 

The little pastries are just darling – shaped into various sea creatures – and are very delicate.  However, of all the local pastries recommended and tried, these were my least favorite.  They were very sweet without having a real flavor.

On the way back to Porto (and the pouring rain by the way) we made a quick detour into Costa Nova which is a little fishing village just north of Aveiro.  All along the main road are these old fisherman “shacks” that have been restored into beach cottages.  They are striped and colorful and so stinking cute…
     stuff 208
stuff 216 stuff 206And one of these days, I’m going back to Costa Nova and renting THIS exact one.  So much fun! 

Despite the weather, I really enjoyed Portugal – the people, the colors, THE TILE…not really the food though.

We flew out the next day.  Porto to Lisbon to Paris to LA.  The flight home is always about an hour longer than going.  I can’t sit for an hour let alone 11 without being completely antsy and wiggly.  However, for this flight I used my points and upgraded to Air France’s premium economy.  Holy cow!  I had so much leg room AND a foot rest. stuff 004It’s the first flight I have ever taken that my legs didn’t just dangle because my feet don’t touch the ground while sitting in an airplane seat.  I could be all kinds of wiggly and had room to do so.  It made things much more bearable.