Monday, January 24, 2011

Me 'n Marie

Just a quick post today. The lady who took my picture with Marie Osmond sent it today. I look weird and over-exposed, but it was a neat experience and she was very nice and personable.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Clubs and Blessings...

I have wanted to be part of a book club for ages, but it just never happened. The only one I knew of in my Southern CA neighborhood met during the day when I worked.

But now I'm part of one in Southern WA. Like the one in CA, it is comprised of ladies from church. I love to read, but I'm not voracious. I devour my magazines like People and Reader's Digest from cover to cover, but I'm especially picky about books. I love a good book, but I refuse to waste my time on a book that doesn't capture my interest from the beginning. Like everything else, my standards for books are high: I like good stories, I like to learn something, I like good writing and well-rounded characters. Those requirements are harder to find than you may think. I have started a lot of books and not finished them.

It is unfortunate that I began this book club with a selection that I simply could not get absorbed by and, apparently, I wasn't the only one.

The selection this time was Traveling With Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. Sue Monk Kidd wrote the fantastic book The Secret Life of Bees, which I loved. I so wanted to like this book, which is a memoir of this mother and daughter's travels. Alas, I did not. I didn't find it to be interesting. I didn't care about where they went or what they were doing. It was like looking at someone's boring vacation slides. I just didn't care. After 85 pages and no sign of any improvement in the writing or my curiosity, I decided I'd had enough. Oh well, can't win them all. I found out last night that there were others who read even less, all feeling the way I did.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm about month's selection, we did have a nice time. At its maximum, the group has about 15 ladies, but only 5, including myself, attended last night's meeting. I hope that in the future more ladies attend.

The meeting ran longer than I expected, and it was 9:30pm when I arrived home to our menagerie of pets. Eric was working graveyard, so it was me and the four-footed creatures.

And, even though the most recent book was something of a bust, our little group mapped out a plan for the next few months. We each gave suggestions and I'm pretty excited about what is ahead:

I've heard great things about this book. I'm excited to read it!

This was my suggestion. I love this book and its characters. It will be fun to revisit it.

About a lady who forms an unlikely soccer team. Highly recommended...

All I know about this book is that it takes place in Russia and one of the ladies loved it. It's historical fiction, one of my favorite genres.

All in all it was an interesting night. Some things that I expected and some things I did not. I am glad to be involved in something extra curricular and intellectual, though. Now that I'm not teaching it has been a process getting used to using my time differently. But I like it!

Here are some other suggestions that we discussed last night:
The Hoarders by Stringham
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Christy by Catherine Marshall
A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
Beyond Summer by Wingate
To Have Not by Frances Lefkowitz
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Can you go home again?

3:30am and I'm awake. Funny, because I just saw that my friend, Gail, also posted a new blog entry during the 3am hour.

Here's what's happening...

I've just been to:
California. My first trip back since moving up to Washington in October. I was there from a Tuesday to a Tuesday and, boy, did it fly. It is amazing how the preparations and packing take so long and then the actual trip goes by so quickly.

Tuesday, Jan 11: flew into Ontario, CA airport, went to In n Out with my mom (yum!), went back to her house to unpack, got phone call from Eric saying that our tenant's check had bounced, spent the next few hours on phone with property manager, unpacking, trying to relax.

Wednesday, Jan 12: visited with my grandma, went to meet with the lady managing my house to plan strategy with tenant. Visited at my brother's house for an hour to see my niece and nephew.

Thursday, Jan 13: Went and wrestled with EDD (unemployment) from whom I still haven't seen a penny since suspending my claim 3 days before getting married. It still isn't resolved. The office is about a mile from my last school, so I went there around lunchtime and visited for about half an hour before having to get my mom's car back to her. Listening to the teachers talk about their current stresses with kids, parents, and administration, the words flashing through my head were "I don't miss this one bit!"

Friday, Jan 14: XANDER DAY! I have been missing my 3 year old nephew sooooo much it has almost hurt. Last Friday we had him all day. We took him to his baby music class, which I absolutely love visiting. The program is called Music Together (click for the link.) If you have a young pre-K child, I highly recommend this class. Babies go too! Then we went to have Japanese food and then we played and played at my mom's house. I love that kid so much! He is so fun! Xander quote of the day: "You got to buckle up otherwise you fly through the window!"

Saturday, Jan 15: Disneyland! Boy did this day turn out interesting! The original plan was to meet my friend, Tracey, at 9am and spend the day there. Instead, she was late and I walked into the entrance to see that Marie Osmond was having a signing event from 11am-1pm. I was so torn on what to do. You had to buy one of her products in order to get in line. If I wasn't married to Eric, who loves Donny & Marie, I probably would've passed by, but, I didn't. I quickly ran and got a locker for my jacket, called my mom to get her opinion (thumbs up,) bought one of the darn things, and got in line at 9:35am. I was about the 20th person. It was hot, there was no place to sit, and I had no camera. Even the camera on my Blackberry was malfunctioning. But I had to do it. Mainly because Eric had been pulled up onstage by Marie 2 years ago at their Vegas show, had made himself very memorable because he sings so well, and I wanted to see if she remembered him. I finally got to meet her at 12:30pm (3 hours in line!) and she was as nice as you would imagine. There was none of that star-struck nervousness that I've had before when meeting a famous person, it was like I knew her. The best part? She totally remembered Eric! And there was a lady there to take pictures. I'm still waiting for her to email mine. I hope she does!

Sunday, Jan 16: This was supposed to be a restful day, and I guess it kind of was, but not as much as I had hoped. In the afternoon, my mom and I went and saw The King's Speech, with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh....what an incredible movie!!! A true story, a heartbreaking story in many ways. It is about King George VI, the current Queen Elizabeth's father, who reluctantly took the throne when his brother abdicated in order to marry the American divorcee', Wallis Simpson. George (Albert, nicknamed "Bertie") had a horrible stutter, exacerbated by years of verbal abuse by his father and nannies. Now forced to be the voice of the nation, his wife (the late Queen Mum) finds an unorthodox speech therapist and amateur actor named Lionel Logue to help after dozens of conventional methods have failed over the years. These 2 men form an unusual friendship that transcends rank and position as Bertie finally starts to relax and get comfortable in his own skin. It is an amazing journey to watch. The R rating is surprising and shouldn't prevent anyone from seeing it. There is one scene with some language and that's it. It is truly an incredible movie and I can't wait for it to be released on DVD/blu ray. See it! You can't help but love it.

Monday, Jan 17: Another Xander day! My sister in law knew that I wanted to spend time with Xander, so she let us have him for the day. We went to the park, although it was a pretty warm day, and then went and had Japanese food again. He loves miso soup and teriyaki salmon. Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?

Tuesday, Jan 18: Time to fly home to WA. My mom and I said our goodbyes. She wanted me to thank Eric for letting her borrow me for a week. I had a smooth flight home and Eric was at the Portland, OR airport to pick me up. We had lunch, went to Trader Joe's in Vancouver, WA (the nearest one to us) and drove home in the gray, rainy weather. Bailey was peeing himself with excitement that I was home, especially since he was boarded with the groomer for most of that week. The kitties came out and said hello and went back to their regularly scheduled programming.

The thing that has struck me the most since being back in our house in WA is how much at home I feel here. I knew that I would feel a little displaced in CA because I was no longer in my own house and didn't have my car there. I was amazed at how little emotional connection I felt with my house, which is right across the street from my mom's. I was also amazed at the wave of relaxation and tension release that swept over me when I stepped into our WA house. The fact that the tenant's new cashier's check was in the mail helped a lot too.

Yesterday was a slow, relaxing day at home. Slept in and did a bit of grocery shopping and laundry. That was it. We've been enjoying our new blu-ray player immensely, which lets us stream movies from Netflix and has YouTube. Awesome! We watched Endless Summer, a childhood favorite, and watched some hilarious YouTube videos by this creative guy named Nice Peter. SO funny!

It was a good trip. Yesterday was a good day. I'm happy to be HOME.