Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

In a weird twist of serendipity, writing more has brought reading back into my life. I have always loved reading. I was that kid who read the cereal box because it was there and it had words on it. In my family, we read at the table while we ate. (Some people find that rude? Huh.) In a world that was sometimes scary for me to interact in, I could easily pull out a book and become part of something bigger than me.

For the last several years, reading fell to the wayside, at least compared to the way I used to read. I had several books that I started and never finished, which is unheard of for me. Unfortunately, technology is to blame for getting me reading again. I say “unfortunately” because I am one of those people who loves real, actual books, with hardcovers and pages you can turn down to mark your place (yes, I am one of those people). I have a bookshelf in my living room that is non-negotiable: it has to be there, filled to bursting with books, even if I haven’t even read half of them. It’s comforting, that bookshelf. A reminder that if I wanted to, randomly, I could pick up one of those books and start reading, no questions asked.

My precious...all mine...

My precious…all mine…

That’s why it’s weird that I took a time-out from reading real, actual books for a while. Oh, I still read. Websites, newspaper articles, informational ebooks, research. In fact, I read all the time, every day. Magazines, tons of magazines (Hi, I’m obsessed). But to pick up a good book and be lost for hours, days at a time, in a new world – that was lost to me for a while.

And then one day, Kindle took hold, and suddenly books and I, we’re BFF’s again! It started when I downloaded a novel on Kindle and then realized I could download it to Kindle for iPhone and suddenly that book, it was with me everywhere I went. Just like my camera for my growing selfie – uh, I mean photography obsession, and my Facebook app, which, let’s face it, I can’t explain the lure there other than I’m hooked.

We were on vacation to Pennsylvania in June, and for me, vacation always means “time to read a good book!” So as our 40-foot RV hurled itself down I40, I browsed my little glowing screen and came up with two books that couldn’t be more different: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. I could read when we were traveling! I could read, in the dark, while everyone else was asleep! It was just me, and my little glowing screen, and words. Suddenly, I am 12 again, laying in the middle of the floor, with a stack of books beside me. Nowhere to be and no one to answer to. Because if you’re sitting there playing video games or watching TV it’s Get up, do this, or Go outside, or something. But if I’m reading, it’s okay, I could waste an entire day. Reading, it’s healthy. Reading is good for you. It’s like the Cracklin’ Oats of hobbies. Remember that cereal? Surprisingly good…

A spiffy new Kindle Fire HD...sweeeet!

A spiffy new Kindle Fire HD…sweeeet!

Not to long after that June vacation came September, and with it my birthday. I really joined the ranks of the technology obsessed because I got a Kindle Fire for my birthday. (Thanks, Mom & Dad!) Now, in addition to my new-found ability to write words down (where has this been the past ten or so years when I could have been amassing drawers full of schlock writing?) I have been reading all the time. There’s so many books out there, new books that look fascinating and interesting, and I can read them late at night, under the covers, when everything is dark and quiet because five kids and one significant other are all fast asleep. It’s like I’m holding a flashlight at Sleep-a-way Camp and reading a paperback, except it’s way better.

Thinking about how much I love discovering reading all over again got me thinking about all my favorite books. (Notice I say “books.” People are supposed to be able to pick their favorite book, movie, song, color. I have no such ability. It’s like trying to pick my favorite snack-size Hershey bar out of the bag . . . how in the Hell am I supposed to choose?) So, just because I feel like it, here are 5 of my favorite books, in no particular order, and sometimes I mean series because I can’t just pick one book from a series either. That would just be weird.

Close to Shore

Close to Shore

1. Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo. I’m obsessed with Great White Sharks, and I love really good historical novels, so this book is a shoe-in for Favorite Historical Novel About Great White Sharks. It just makes sense, right? For a while, I re-read this book every year. It begins in 1916, right when people were shifting from the fantastical and unexplained (Sea Monsters!) to the scientifically-based view of the world. Yet, this true story defied explanation. A Great White shark is terrifying, but they have no interest in eating people, everyone said. Oh, wait, a man was attacked and killed by a Great White? And another? And a boy swimming in a creek? What the hell is going on here? It was the world’s first real introduction to the Great White and the attacks set off a hysteria that continues even today with each new reported shark attack.

 

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones

2. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Yes, Stephen King is a national treasure (he is from Maine after all!) and I’m sure there are many of his books that are better than this one, but something about this book just struck me when I read it for the first time, and it turned into one of those books I read over and over. From the wife’s sad death in the beginning to the relationship between Mike and Kyra and her mom, Mattie, plus the visions of the past where we get to see the events that started all the horror that unfolds . . . Well, it’s just really good and really scary. I especially loved how Mike was able to communicate with spirits using the magnetic refrigerator alphabet – that’s just funny! (P.S. Was so excited for the Bag of Bones mini-series, not so much after I watched it. It was just . . . meh).

 

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Harry Potter

3. The entire Harry Potter series, but specifically Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Picture this: It’s 1998 and I am in my first crappy off-campus apartment, sprawled across my twin size waterbed –ahem!– reading a new book for two days straight. There were college classes to attend and homework to be finished, but I just . . . couldn’t . . . get up. From the very first line, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” through the owls and the Muggles, and the magic and on through the entire series, I was completely hooked. Of course, now the entire world knows everything there is to know about Harry Potter thanks to the books, movies, theme parks, and everything else, but that was my first introduction to the amazing mind of J.K. Rowling, and as I devoured that first book, I actually found myself wishing I could go back to being a kid, just so I could read the book as a kid instead of an (almost) grown up.

 

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The Witches

4. Roald Dahl, Lots of Them. My favorite books of his, in order of awesomeness: The Witches, Mathilda, James & the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG. I love Roald Dahl. I love him more as an adult than I did as a kid, although I read many of his books over and again when I was young. The Witches is far and away my favorite, but that’s just because it was so weird and cool: witches! With square feet and bald heads, who think kids smell like dog shit! Awesome! I remember reading The BFG to see if it would be a good book to read at story time to my second grade class, and as soon as little Sophie appeared on that first page, I thought to myself, If I have a daughter, I’m naming her Sophie. Yup, did it. I would not want to live in any world that never had Roald Dahl books in it.

 

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Jane Eyre

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Yes, Jane Eyre. When I was maybe 9 or 10, I got this book as a gift. It was hardcover and oversized, with a dark green cover that had a fancy illustration and stamped gold letters on the front. On the inside were illustrations throughout. I would take it off the bookshelf and page through it, feeling like I was holding a book fit for royalty – but I never read the book! No, I would just hold it, look at the illustrations, and then put it back. Finally, one day I read the first line, then kept going, tearing through every page, and found myself wondering, What took so long? I was completely taken with the whole story, and it set me on a kick of reading classics like Rebecca, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Les Miserables. If I hadn’t finally taken the plunge, I may never have known how great all those “dusty old books” would be.

 

I would love to know, what are your favorites? You can give me one, or list your top five like I did! Here’s to loading more titles on that Kindle!

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There’s something to be said for being a teacher. It’s those summers off. On the surface, it seems peaceful, enviable, serene. But watch out! You’re sitting there enjoying your days, with all the time in the world. Then you wake up and its the end of October and you are left stunned… “but my head is still in August!” Tough luck, little miss. There’s always next summer for ‘catching up.’ Sigh.

So many things happen in quick succession in the fall. It seems like a marathon, and then suddenly the stores are putting out Christmas stuff and you are looking up your Thanksgiving recipes! Yikes! Here’s a helpful picture synopsis of the past few months…because goodness knows nobody has time to read lots of words! Ha ha ha!

Oh, and P.S. – Enjoy the last pictures of the porch dressed up for Halloween, because now we only have THREE porch chairs and we’re also minus a pumpkin because some dumb twits decided to steal three of our chairs and one pumpkin. I mean, really!!!

Sophie checking out our annual “turtle crossing our yard to some unknown destination.”

And Sophie became a Lil Dragon

A quick visit to Lake Ouichita
A beautiful view of the lake. Too bad we didn’t get to stay longer!

Sophie watching the geese at Greenleaf in Sept.

On the hayride at Wild Things Farm

The Halloween porch

Sophie with our homemade ghosties!

August is supposed to be slow and easy, right? Enjoying the last of summer…nothing to do…

Ha ha ha!!!

Yeah, right! Not in my life. August has been crazy. Sophie has started taking Taekwondo with Chris, I went back to work on the 10th, Chris got his black belt and will be stepping up his training, we took all the cabinet doors off everywhere in the house and (finally) clear-coated them, put them all back on, painted the closet…

Yeah, I’m tired just typing it.

Plus, the past two days I was at all-day orientation for staff and before that was working on our classroom and buying all kinds of supplies. We have parent orientation on Monday and school starts on Wednesday.

Plus I am doing some writing work on the side and trying to put together a photo book for a special occasion!

We are also looking for a big-girl bed for Sophie, and I hope I can also get one of those cute over-the-bed canopies they sell. (We got one for the library in our classroom and it is so cute. As long as the kids don’t tear it down. And they won’t…they’d better not.)

So with doing all that, I haven’t really had time to think about much else! Just basically how to get from here to there and back again without losing my mind.

Why do I never truly appreciate summer while it is here? I think I do at the time, but I realize that I really didn’t. Sigh…there’s always next summer.

Here are some pictures of the awesome thunderstorm we had last week, Sophie’s first time roller skating and the latest picture of not-so-little-anymore Diego.

Total Randomness

Posted: July 11, 2009 in Random Thoughts
Tags: ,
Yay…we’re heading to Maine.

I stole this list of thought starters from another blog, which I’m sure in turn came from another blog, and so on. I thought it looked fun!

♦Outside my window…it is dark and very hot and humid. Also, somewhere out there is the crazy loud mockingbird that keeps dive-bombing our poor cat. Is it illegal to shoot the state bird?

♦I am thinking…..I have some serious decisions to make. And fast…really fast.

♦I am thankful for…everyone in my life, my home, my opportunities. I know not everyone is so lucky as I am.

♦From the kitchen…comes the faint smell of the turkey pan that Chris left in his trunk for several days in the 100 degree heat. Out of silent protest, I will not wash it.

♦I am wearing…the clothes I’ve worn all day. Ha!

♦I am creating…some digital art, some personal opportunities and hopefully some professional ones as well..

♦I am going…to Maine for the first time in four years on Saturday! I hope our vacation will be a fun success!

♦I am reading…a book by Alison Weir, “The Children of Henry VIII. I am fascinated by historical novels, especially about this time period. I have already read her books about Mary, Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Grey.

♦I am hoping…that this will all work out. We need a big change.

♦I am hearing…ugh! Chris playing some damned shooting game.

♦Around the house…oh, seriously, it’s a mess! But Sophie’s room is in order. 🙂

♦One of my favorite things…one of?? How can I pick one? Some of my favorite things: my Pug, the fact that our male Betta is named Malia, the movie Bolt, coffee with almond toffee creamer, Sophie dancing, my front porch when it’s not hot and the fact that the inside of my car is clean as a whistle.

♦Plans for the rest of the week…clean the dang house, pack for Maine, find a rental car that won’t take our entire vacation budget, work on all my writing and digital art ideas to hopefully begin making them profitable.


Is it a bad omen when the local fireworks display causes a massive grass fire? I guess that’s what happens when you shoot off fireworks during a drought. We didn’t attend the fireworks, but were driving home from my parents house as smoke billowed through the air and firetrucks zoomed past us. I thought it was a little much for just a fireworks display until I turned around in my seat in the car and saw the entire hillside above the water park was on fire! Then all the drama made sense. It looks this morning like they successfully put the fire out, and the thunderstorm rolling through helped too, I’m sure!

We will hopefully celebrate tonight with a homemade fireworks display and lots of food. My husband is feverishly preparing bacon wrapped garlic butter shrimp and smoked whole turkey. A man and his grill…ahhhhh. The shrimp were absolutely the most disgusting things I have ever seen. They were jumbo-sized and complete with head, tail and tentacles when he bought them. Sophie, of course, is absolutely fascinated. She and Daddy eat shrimp…Mommy does not!

Enjoy your day, and try not to catch fire at the fireworks display!

Who knew in-ground pools were great places for conversation? I take Sophie to my Mom and Dad’s pool often because she has suddenly become a fish this summer. Of course, if one is in the pool, everyone has to be in the pool, right? Besides, it’s easier to keep a hawk-eye on Sophie with three adults in the pool, anyway.

So we usually have some extended conversations while we are all swimming. This Friday’s conversation took place after we had all gone to Sophie’s performance at Dance Camp. Since the temperature has been at 100 degrees (no joke!) for about two weeks now, a dip in the pool was just what we needed after driving downtown.

Somehow we got onto the topic of good old movies we will watch again and again, even at the expense of watching the new ones that we haven’t seen yet. My dad said he had just watched “The Final Countdown” again, which I think must be his favorite movie. He called it hokey, but said there was still just something about it he liked. Its about a warship that goes through a time portal.

Here are some other movie we talked about. If you must know, I watched a lot of movies with my Mom and Dad while I was growing up that were probably more for “grown-ups” but they are still some of my favorite movies. So while everyone else was watching Goonies and The Lost Boys, I was watching The Money Pit and The Big Easy. I’m not corrupted by them as far as I know, so that’s good. 🙂

  1. Top Gun. We had the movie and the CD when compact discs were brand new.
  2. My parents have been talking a lot about Dirty Harry lately after seeing “Gran Turino.” I’ve never seen a Dirty Harry movie, which horrified them, so I guess we’ll be watching one soon.
  3. Outrageous Fortune: one of my favorites. I loved Shelley Long and Bette Midler in this movie. For some reason, the whole movie was hilarious to me!
  4. For just me and my Dad: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This is the best creepy vampire movie. It just is…so deal with it!
  5. My Dad, my hubby and I talk longingly about the day we wake up, put on all three extended editions of Lord of the Rings back-to-back and bask in the glory of the best movie trilogy on Dad’s projector screen. Someday…we will!!!
  6. I brought up “Legal Eagles” with Robert Redford and Daryl Hannah as a movie that I have wanted to re-watch for years but just haven’t. So Mom is putting it on her Netflix!
  7. Mom wants to watch “Man in the Moon” again, but I told her that I refuse to watch it ever again, because I bawled like a baby the first time I watched it when I was fourteen. It is really good, but I don’t want to cry again!
  8. “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” I can probably recite the entire movie word-for-word. It is a great movie about the 30’s and there was horses in in, so I was totally sold on it as a teenager. Still am, in fact!

So those are some of the movies we talked about. Now I’ll have to go watch them all again, you know. Anybody else have movies that you just want to watch over and over. Or movies you watched as a kid that you still love?

I listen to music a lot. And I have very wide-ranging taste in music, everything from hip-hop to big band swing and everything in between. Except country. I hate country. So, in honor of summer being a great time to listen to good music, here are ten songs I love and will listen to again and again.

  1. Kings of Leon, “On Call.” I love love this song. Crank it up, sing along, enjoy its awesomeness.
  2. Anything by Pink Martini. What? You haven’t heard of them? Neither had I, until my friend Pandora.com found them for me. They have a cool French club singer/big band vibe with a lot of other nice sounds thrown in.
  3. Ray Charles, “What Would I do Without You?” Love me some Ray Charles. This one is not as upbeat as some of his others, but still so good.
  4. Iio, “Rapture.” Totally the opposite of my other picks, this is a dance hit that I couldn’t get out of my head for years and yet had no idea who sang it or what it was called. When I finally did find it, I Wore. It. Out. If you can find the Aarmen Van Buren remix, which is about nine minutes long, and you like this sort of music, you really will be in “Rapture.” I was!
  5. Timbaland feat. She Wants Revenge, “Time.” Why this song never made it to radio, I don’t know. It’s got everything a good hip-hop song needs, and I play it at least once a day. Seriously.
  6. Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours.” I know, I know, you can probably sing this in your sleep, but you do have to admit…it’s damn catchy!
  7. This one is in honor of Sophie: Lady Gaga, “Pokerface.” She totally loves this song, and loves to dance to it. I can’t believe I let my four-year-old listen to a song where Lady Gaga talks about her “muffin,” but there you have it. My only consolation is that Sophie has no idea what she is talking about.
  8. “Bad Things,” the opening song from HBO’s True Blood. I have gone around on more occasions than I can count muttering “I wanna do bad things to you,” risking serious dirty looks from strangers.
  9. Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower.” I don’t know why. I just love this song. The guitar, the growling, everything about it is just cool.
  10. Okay, permit me my hairband moment…Whitesnake, “In the Still of the Night.” Just because their hair isn’t fab anymore doesn’t mean the song isn’t. This song rocks!

So there you have it. I told you I have strange taste in music. I could probably add a hundred other songs to this list, too. But, I didn’t! Just ten. So, what do you think? Any of these songs float your boat? Any that are number one on your list? What are your “play over and over” songs? I’d love to hear them!

Happy Listening!