August ’12 is…

NEW! Heads up! I have decided to add one audio book per month. I am tired of driving to work hearing the same songs day in and day out. I think I will get further in this whole book challenge if I allow myself at least one audio book. I only spend 3 1/3 hours in the car per week so all audio books would have to be kept to a duration under 12-13 hours long in order to hear it within the month. I can’t listen to an abridged version so I think finding the right book each month will be an additional pita (pain in the azz). I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.

So. August. Before books August is about a few trips. I’m all over the place, aren’t I? Maine sometime at the beginning of the month and Denver near the end. I *should* have plenty of time to read/listen to books along the way, though. So here is the list (some of them I’ve actually started reading, as I have admitted earlier AND since I’ve cheated I can add a few more than normal):

  • After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ a collection of short stories in honor of Adam’s birth month. I feel really good about adding this one because I didn’t tackle any short stories in June (and June is Short Story month),
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ a short(er) story in honor of Baldwin’s birth month,
  • Kristin Lavransdatter: the cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally, finally finishing the series started in June! This has been good but really long and detailed!
  • Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and Wicked by Gregory Maguire to be read together in honor of August being fairytale month.
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey
  • by Thornton Wilder in honor of the month Peru was recognized as independent from Spain (and because it’s super short!).

For Audio:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ in honor of Bradbury’s birth month. I think I will have to think of something else to add to the audio list since I have a flight to Denver to deal with. I’m choosing Ten Hours Until Dawn: the True Story of Heroism and Tragedy by Michael Tougis ~ in honor of being on the water.

For LibraryThing:

Finishing Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling AND (I have to laugh at this) The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History by Bernard Corbett. Yup. The very book I was expecting exactly one year ago. I’ll still read it! I just got word of a third Early Review book but since I haven’t received it I won’t mention it here…

For Fun:

Finishing up Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by the hilarious Robert Westphal…and mysterious someone dropped Cats Miscellany by Lesley O’Mara in my mailbox. Maybe I’ll get to that. Maybe I won’t.

June ’12 is…

June 2012 is…not late! For once! I have to rejoice in simply being on time for the first time in oh, I don’t know how long and I’m too lazy to look. June. What about June? June is a retirement luncheon with some people I barely know. June is a graduation party for someone I love more than a sister (and only she will really get that statement and not misinterpret it as some lesbo love declaration). June is another charity walk – a no-pressure walk of sorts. No fund raising, no training (3.1 miles, a walk in the park – or around a business park as the case may be). June is a few birthdays, but no parties. June is the opening of the pool and June is the beginning of our Hawaiian vacation (lest I forget). We’ve already nixed horseback riding due to age and weight (over 65, under 10 and under 235lbs). That wipes out all but two of us. Anyway, more on that later.
June is also National River Cleanup month, the best time to visit Norway and the month to celebrate fathers. And that is the perfect segue to books:

  • Kristin Lavansdatter by Sigrid Undset ~ in honor of Norway. This is actually in three parts (totaling over 1,000 pages) so I’m going to parse it out: The Wreath in June, The Mistress of Husaby (The Wife) in July and The Cross in August.
  • A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean ~in honor of river cleanup month.

For Hawaii, two books I can read and leave behind**:

  • Damage by Josephine Hart ~ in honor of Father’s Day
  • Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (a reread) ~ in honor of Father’s Day as well

I have been notified that I have “won” two Early Review books from LibraryThing (such an honor). I have been having some problems with delivery but if they arrive they are:

  • How Should a Person Be: a Novel From Life by Sheila Heti ~ this has been described as “seriously strange” by a respected author on Heti’s website. I’m intrigued!
  • Waterlogged by Tim Noakes ~ this is something I cannot wait to read. I have been told I need to drink more water and while I don’t consider myself an athlete (this book focuses on them) I am curious about “the facts of hydration.”

** I should add that I plan to load the iPad with ebooks in case I finish the Father’s Day books sooner than expected. I really want to read on the beach one or two days and of course I’ll need to read on all those flights!!

August ’11 is…

I know that I will spending my first week of August out to sea. Such an enjoyable place for enjoying books! I know that August is another chance at music – Miss Rebecca Correia and a little band called 10,000 Maniacs. What else do I know about August? Not much. I know I am taking two books with me:

  • Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. If I want to still “honor” something I could say I’m reading this in honor of August being National Ocean month. Allende’s lead character takes a boat from Chile to America in search of her gold rush crazed lover.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf ~ bringing this for the sake of something else in the bag.

As for anything else I haven’t the slightest idea. I am still trying to read the books within my reach so the whole “read-this-book-to-honor-this-thing” isn’t really happening. I have been enjoying this seat of my pants kind of selection. Other books I hope to get to:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • While I Was Out by Sue Miller
  • The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer

I will have another Early Review book soon but until it actually arrives it’s best not to mention it.

July ’11 is…

July 2011 promises to be one crazy month. See, I’m already a week late posting this because I have been off hiking some cliffs in Maine. Here’s what’s been oging on so far:
Batman entered my life on the first day of July. I’m sure I’ll never look at the open road the same way again. I’ve been on vacation for the first week of July – again, a crazy time. Said that already. Been sleeping in five different places in one week. There was one wedding so far. Later in the month there will be at least three concerts (Further, Natalie Merchant & Rebecca Correia), Kisa’s birthday, a burial, and who knows what else will happen! Because things are so scattered I’ve decided to not plan out July’s reading list. I really didn’t have time to plan ahead, to be totally honest. I know that I have packed Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe to bring on vacation. I’ll be reading it in honor of Burton Bennett, but that’s all I’ve planned for now…More later!

This is short and sweet, but c’est la vie!

July ’10 is…

Vacation! Vacation! Vacation! We have some crazy things planned. I simply cannot wait! Camping, hiking, music, craft fair, parade, family, friends, fireworks, boats, the ocean, mountains, swimming, lobster festival, Natalie, Monhegan, food, books and more books.

  • Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brien ~ taken off the list since I didn’t finish Master and Commander. Boo.
  • Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt ~ in honor of July being the most popular month to visit the ocean
  • Firewall by Henning Mankell ~ in honor of July being the best time to visit Sweden
  • Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes ~ in honor of the first test of the atomic bomb

I sincerely doubt I will get to the last book. For one, it’s over 800 pages long and for another, it’s at the end of the list. But, more importantly, it’s about the making of the atomic bomb. On vacation? I don’t think so!

I act like I’m going away for a month. Maybe that’s not a bad thing….

For the Early Review Program (LibraryThing) I have an interesting situation. A book I was supposed to receive over a year ago arrived June 23rd. So, for July I will be reviewing What’s a Mother (in-law) to Do? by Jane Angelich.

Comfort of Strangers

McEwan, Ian. The Comfort of Strangers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.

The entire time I was reading The Comfort of Strangers I felt an uneasiness – so much so that the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up from time to time. There was something sinister about nearly every scene, every page (all 127 of them). I can just imagine what the movie is like.

Colin and Mary are unmarried, unhappy lovers on vacation. Bored with each other and frustrated with their foreign holiday destination (probably Venice or Rome), they are constantly having to remind each other and themselves they are on holiday and are supposed to be relaxing and enjoying themselves. Their disdain for each other annoyed me at times. For the couple getting lost in the ancient, winding, narrow streets wasn’t supposed to be a problem because they have nowhere specific to be. Colin and Mary go on like this until suddenly, the story changes gears after a native enters their bored bubble. That chance meeting changes the course of their lives forever. It is a psychological, violent, erotic second half to the book, full of sex and selfishness. From the moment, Robert, the charismatic stranger, comes into the picture nothing seems normal again.

I didn’t find any particular lines that grabbed me. The whole story in its simplicity was enough to shock me.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Ian McEwan: Too Good To Miss” (p 149).

From There You Are Not

I take pieces of you home with me. Little by little, piece by piece. Do you feel yourself diminishing? Do you sense yourself growing smaller? Stealing from home to make a home away from home home. Scouring shorelines for colors of sea tossed glass, speckled, inexplicably beautiful rocks, broken buoys of red and gold. Like a song about romance I steal them all home with me. Vain attempt to bring me back to where I am not.

I cannot bottle the heavy salt air. I cannot take the earthy decay of fallen leaves. I have to leave the sunsets of gold behind. So, instead I take the glass, the rocks, the shells. Bottled and bowled I keep them, cherish them in my home away from home.


Dust sticks to wet paint

I was perusing someone’s photos the other day when I got that eerie feeling they were a bit stalkerish. You know, that ‘Wow, that is really intrusive’ feeling. My only problem was I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt that way. I was enjoying the photographs until I got to a certain one that seemed to go overboard, get too close. The next one was more of the same and so I stopped looking – turned away from the discomfort I was feeling. I don’t think I’ll go back.

My experience with the photos got me thinking about home and the levels of intrusiveness I felt there. Early in our vacation Kisa, the boys and I were hiking the island. We stopped to catch our breath at a very popular landmark, and to enjoy the view. Of course there were tourists on every side and their conversations were easily overheard. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to live out here,” one woman exclaimed. “All these people walking through their back yards.” I snickered and Kisa cast a knowing smile. For years he has been hearing my gripes about tourists taking advantage of such an unusual place. They walk across private porches, set up easels in the middle of the only road, have lunch in obvious backyards, let their dogs dump in vegetable gardens. This attititude of I can do anything while I’m on vacation has been long debated. I’m not bringing up anything new. But, it made me wonder – what makes separates fan from fanatic, tourist from terrible?
In the picture above a woman has set up her easel on the dock. Look for the hat by the door of the silver truck. This dock is where 3-5 trucks converge to pick up island supplies, luggage, etc. It’s a more that busy, hectic place. In the bigger picture another woman has set up her easel in the shadowed portion of the road. Not only that but she has chosen a dangerous corner where she isn’t all that visible. She and the woman on the dock are lucky they didn’t get sideswiped!

Not One Step

I didn’t run on my last vacation. Not one step. In Vegas I seriously thought about it. The gym was hidden in the spa. Amongst the hair dryers and manicure stations were treadmills and elipticals. I told kisa, “when you gamble, I’ll run.” To make a long story short, he never sat down to a slot machine, never pulled up a chair for a hand of Black Jack, never spun the Roulette wheel, nor threw the die for craps. The only gambling he did was on the Celtics (and won). So. I didn’t run.
At the next hotel I got up early hoping to put in a quick 30 minutes in the gym. It wasn’t nearly as nice as Vegas’s setup but I was eager to try it out all the same. Just off the registration desk was a little gym. One bike. One step machine. One treadmill. Oddly enough, the “business center” was in the same room. Two computers, a fax machine and phone lined one wall. I guess the west coast likes to consolidate their tasks -run while closing the deal? Oh well. I figured I could ignore anyone who came in. Turns out, I didn’t need to. The treadmill was broken. Try as I might I couldn’t get the thing to stay on. Finally, I asked at the front desk, “Is your treadmill broken?” The manager just looked at me, bored, and said “yup” like I was supposed to know that before I got dressed and came over from my room. Stupid.
The third place we stayed looked more than promising for a run. They didn’t boast of their own equipment but shared space with a real, live, local gym. Hotel guests could work out for free at the area’s state of the art fitness facility. When Kisa and I toured the building I needed to put my eyeballs back in my head: olympic sized swimming pool, pilates room, two weight rooms, more cardio equipment than I could count, a yoga studio, racquet ball court, tennis court, you name it, it was there. They too combined their fitness center with a salon – facials, pedicures, manicures, haircuts and color…all in one place.
When Kisa and I finally changed our clothes and went back to the gym I was practically salviating at the chance to run. Until I saw nearly every treadmill in sight was in use. Upon further inspection I realized not only was every working treadmill was in use, but half a dozen were broken and I couldn’t compete with the wait list. I ended up on a bike for 40 minutes.
The final hotel was super nice…except it didn’t have a gym. Period. Not one machine anywhere. No running for me. I would have run outside but Southern CA was boasting of a heatwave like no other. I’m not that stupid.

Scavenger Hunt Antics

If you attended my wedding you know two things about me. I have never been one for tradition (what? no cake?) and I like to play a game called Photo Scavenger Hunt. It’s simple. One camera. One list of things to take pictures of within a certain time frame. At the wedding every table got a camera and a challenge to take pics of various people and things (like the head chef in the kitchen). That way I didn’t get a bunch of butt pictures! This time the time frame was simply “while on vacation” and I cheated. I had two cameras.
But, that’s beside the point. Here’s the list:

From the Plane:

  • puffy white clouds (piece of cake)
  • the desert
  • a mountain, any mountain

Las Vegas:

  • View from the hotel
  • A live flamingo
  • some sign or plaque of Benjamin Siegel
  • an outdoor slot machine
  • a living statue
  • “money”

Long Beach:

  • view from the hotel
  • a brown pelican
  • the Pacific ocean/ some seaweed
  • Kisa’s great aunt
  • a cactus

San Diego:

  • view from the hotel
  • a palm tree
  • a gorilla
  • my cousin’s flowers
  • proof for Ruby I wore “the dress”
  • someone’s feet
  • a bow tie


  • View from hotel room
  • something related to the Closer
  • a sunset
  • someone in the pool
  • the elusive cousins

I got nearly all the pictures I wanted. Here’s the set. I didn’t find the outdoor slot machine (big surprise) and the gorillas at the San Diego zoo had gone in for the day. I forgot all about a bow tie. I found something Closer related on the first day which was huge because I never made it to L.A. Also, I found three different Chipotles so that was a nice bonus. I even got everyone together for the dreaded cousin picture. Grand total: 859 pics on one camera; 362 pictures on another… 87 on a seperate memory card. 1,308 pictures.

Free Show for the Insane

First Look at VegasI think my husband is part evil. No, scratch that. I think he’s a glutton for punishment. We had been up since 4am, been on a plane for over five hours, hadn’t even checked into our room yet and suddenly he’s agreeing to some two hour “presentation” on time shares. The woman that roped us in was a fast moving, smooth talking woman from New York with bleached blond hair, bright circus makeup and a huge toothy smile. She had lipstick on her teeth and a gleam in her eye as she first circled then approached us. Her first words were, “How would you like to see a free show while you are here?” How could we resist? I barely had time to pee before we were whisked off to answer a bunch a questions, confirm those answers and get shuttled somewhere else. I had been in Vegas for not even two hours.
Sitting down with a rep is a lot like playing cat and mouse. They’ll ask you silly questions and you give silly answers. You circle around the cold, hard facts (like price & interest rate) all the while thinking you could just be the cat in this game. The longer you play hard to get, the harder they try. Reps consult managers, managers come out to sweet talk you. Suddenly, you are in the driver’s seat and they’re saying things like, “we normally don’t make this kind of offer…this has never been done before…my boss is going to kill me, but…” On and on it goes until finally someone gives in, gives up. By the time the interest rate was finally muttered we knew we had won. Over 15% was a ridiculous rate no matter how many free trips to Hawaii they would throw in. With NoThankYou firmly planted in our mouths and a resolution to walk away in our hearts we got our free tickets and got the hell out of there. Welcome to Vegas.


Plugged In

It feels like a sin to be plugged in on vacation. Connected while trying to break away. Truth is, I’ve been writing everyday, thinking about my words, shaping what I want to say. Here are some things I have been observing, feeling, sensing, experiencing- all worth mentioning at some point:

  • “Do you want to see a free show?”
  • Scavenger hunt antics
  • No slot machine?
  • Plastic bags make great music
  • Flicker Sex
  • Outdoor Natalie
  • Bananas again?
  • Orgasmic Mesa 
  • Where are the damn statues?
  • Caesar’s again???
  • Nothing with the name Kobe in it!
  •  I hate Penske trucks
  • Dock of the Bay
  • Gotta run

Okay, that’s really cryptic, but those will be the titles of upcoming blogs. I have a feeling Ruby will be able to figure out a few of them, thanks to her Vegas expertise. Seriously, I have been having a great time. We have been on the go every single second, it seems – so, I haven’t run. Yet.

Today is the Long Beach aquarium, some boat (forgot the name) and more sight seeing. For now, breakfast. More tomorrow – maybe a real blog if we can transfer pics (I’ve taken about 200 so far).

Love ya!

Mr. Dillon

Getting The Shot

I don’t remember the commercial. It may be just in my head because I can’t even remember the product. All I remember is someone (in a really annoying voice) telling Mr Dillon to “loosen up” because he was on a cruise. I have that voice in my head, right now. Telling me to loosen up. Laugh a little. Let Go a little. Live a little more. But, this picture is the epitome of exciting for me.

Last night kisa was glued to the computer, a funny little smirk on his face as he enthusiastically typed away. “Listen to this,” he throws back over his shoulder to me, “we could take a five hour white water rafting trip followed by lunch in the canyon…only $350 per person.” “Oh.” His face fell. “A seven hour bus trip back…” No thanks. “Ooh!” He was at it again. His face all lit up. “Here’s one: a helicopter ride, followed by four-wheeling safari jeep ride, hike for lunch in the canyon.. (I guess lunch in the canyon is mandatory). Lemme guess. Next, we bungy down to a wild boar farm where we rope an emu for the ride home. Why doesn’t any of these adventure thingies sound exciting to me? Maybe it’s because I picture clumsy moi coming home in a body bag? Maybe it’s because I fear my husband will learn just how afraid of man-made heights I really am? “Uh-huh.” I grunted back, head buried in a book. I only looked like I was reading. Instead, I was trying not to picture a helicopter careening off canyon walls, an open jeep doing somersaults down a ravine. Our bodies looking like rag dolls being flung about. I’ve seen pictures of the Grand Canyon. It’s a long way down. Our screams will last forever and echo for eternity.
So, this is where I need to suck it up. I’m only scared because I’m silly with imagination. If I’ve never done something before I can’t think straight and I think the worst. But. But, But~! If I think about it long enough maybe flying in a bubble sounds like fun. Right? Riiight. I may not be Mr. Dillon and I may not be going on a cruise, but I do need to loosen up!