Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas morning. Early. I am definitively not a morning person, but something about Christmas rouses the kid in me. I cannot sleep. Especially when J isn't around. Especially when I overnight at my parent's Christmas eve. I started waking today at 4 and finally got up to grab my stocking and turn on the coffeepot just before 6. 5am is usually an especially evil hour. (J returned to our house to mind our cats overnight - we'll be meeting him at Danny's later this morning)

It's not really about opening stockings and gifts, seeing what has been put under the tree in the few hours I've been in my room. Because that's cool, but not the be all. It's a happy, exciting day, full of good things, family, good fun, and goofy moments. I'll blog later about what the day itself brings.

To Sonny in Rhode Island and all others out there - may today bring you the peace and simple happiness that keeps me from sleeping in this morning.

And here's a pic from downtown Springfield,VT - J's hometown and the "hometown of the Simpsons" - host of The Simpsons Movie's world premiere.

Friday, December 21, 2007

J and i are in vermont celebrating xmas w his family

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Anniversary 2, books, now in LA

So, the Saturday of anniversary weekend we also ate at Bamba Bistro. Marvelous food, thoughtfully prepared - elegantly presented and the perfect portion size. Great service. My favorite part, though, were the architectural elements of the interior. You enter to a dim hallway with a grand stair in gorgeous wood that you can smell. The main dining room has lovely vaulted ceilings. Very very cool.

Finishing a bunch of books lately - here's the latest:
Book #21 - My So Called Digital Life, a project coordinated by Bob Pletka. I hope to publish a post on 1000Words with my detailed impressions.

Book #22 - Blink: The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. I found this fascinating. The case studies are great, though the war games case made me quite angry. Although Gladwell does discount much of the traditional aspects of my job - standard survey research - I'm not upset. Because I see the issues and it strengthens my determination to discover techniques to get around these issues.

Book #23 - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Powerful. Makes me want to read Brave New World again. Scary in some of things that are very eerily spot on. Scary to someone who loves books.....

Book #24 - Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I loved the movie. I loved the book. There were elements of each I would have liked to have seen explored in the other (Captain Shakespeare's quirks, the little hairy fellow), but much of it tracked and it was very fun and refreshing to read. Love the concept of a village guarding a gap between our world and Faerie. Wouldn't mind visiting the Market myself....

Have to go finish work things and get to sleep. LA awaits!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Anniversary weekend - part 1 of 2

One year! Wow, it's gone fast. We still need to get from 53 to 20 pics for the formal album and choose what to frame and get them hung! But it's been a very good year. J had a ton of homework (he's back in school full-time) that kept us from retreating (will have to do that some other, random time) - and I had an insidious cold that kept me from being very active. We still had fun.

Saturday afternoon we stopped by Designed Elegance to pick up our anniversary topper.
They recently opened a new storefront and we were thrilled to hear that business is booming. We were easily lured in by rugelach (with really good quality cinnamon) and butter cookies with fruit topping, by tartlets and pastries. Oh, and they have cupcakes.
It was good to visit with Jon, the owner, although he was busy crafting marvelous cakes. It's worth a special visit to Spencerport - our cake top was incredible and will keep me happily sugared for a few more days!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yesterday was National Chocolate Milkshake Day

Since I'm late telling you, I hereby declare an extension to the "holiday" and give you permission to indulge today, instead.

I Scream

Knowing this yesterday, I felt like I had to stop at my favorite ice cream shop, I Scream for an awesome chocolate malted shake.

We're friends with Justin, the owner, and he knows we like to try new things. Last night, he gave me a sample that made my legs turn to jelly - carmelized sugar ice cream. Imagine - take the best part of creme brulee, make it cold, smooth, and a whole bowl full (which I had to buy after the sample)! Incredible!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Books and books

My summer reading:

Book #16 - Ghost by Piers Anthony. Another re-read from high school, another book that made me realize why I didn't remember it - there was little substance to it.

Book #17 - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. An excellent study, exceptionally well written. J loves the simplicity of the language so much that he's reread his favorite quote several times and wants to contemplate it before moving on:
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."
I loved the use of language to convey the culture in black Florida in the 20's-30's. Janie's exploration of identity, of who she really is and how that is best expressed, is very revealing, as is her realization that a lot of her life was spent living the life others wanted for themselves, but that it wasn't what she wanted. My 2 favorite quotes:
"Her voice began snagging on the prongs of her feelings." - so visual and tactile!
"Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

Book #18 - In the Devil's Snare: The Salem witchcraft crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton. A very interesting study that delves deeper than court transcripts and thus uncovers patterns others have overlooked - most notably the connection of many participants (accusers, confessors, accused, and judges/ jurors) to the Maine frontier and the Indian wars of the late 1600's. The conclusion is a great summary, though, and reading it covers the majority of the book if you don't need massive details on who accused who and had what spectres appear to them, etc.

Book #19 - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. The first half of this book made it very hard for me to keep reading. I really didn't see a story or a point to it and kept forgetting who people were and what was happening to them. After the halfway mark, it starts to pull together and actually becomes fairly compelling, even though not supremely deep and kind of typical.

Book #20 - Mysterious Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen, and Folk Tales along the Mississippi, by Raymond J Martinez. I thought this would be an interesting collection of folk tales from New Orleans, but it spends too much space talking about how folk tales get the facts way wrong and didn't get into nearly enough good gritty stories.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

San Diego eats and then I can move on

Lots to catch up on - Sonny's visit, birthday fun, roofing, books.... but I HAVE to finish San Diego!

San Diego eats:
  • In-N-Out Burger - fast food, yes, but excellent service even at the drive-through at midnight. Excellent shake.
  • Victor's Greek - A little place walking distance to the office - good tasty gyros meat.
  • Jake's - On Del Mar Beach, we watched beach volleyball and surfers as we ate. I could sit and watch the water for a very, very long time. Excellent HOT rolls and Mahi Mahi wit a mirin glaze, ginger buerre blanc, and sweet chili sauce - oooh, and mini-squash - so cute!
  • Jamba - Couldn't pass it up! Had a Mega Mango (all fruit) with an energy boost. Great start to a busy work day.
  • Spices Thai - Spicy spicy noodles, but they brought the check before I could get mango and sweet rice - my fave Thai dessert.
  • Cafe Luna - Excellent small Italian joint. My waiter was from south of Syracuse, of all places, and knew the author I was reading. Chocotini made from a rice wine - very tasty. An incredible, simple mushroom soup. Manicotti with pasta made crepe style - excellent and light, but simply too much for my belly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

San Diego thoughts

From my San Diego journal:
Wondering if I'll ever spend a full day awake [ie alert], or rather how long it will take me. Not much time for sights, working in a burb-like area. Did get to Chuao Chocolates. Very friendly lady tending shop and so many yummy options. Samples of dark, spicy hot chocolate and truffles (I chose goat cheese, balsalmic vinegar)made it an extra treat and I think the local members of our team may be hooked. [The nutmeg pods are incredible!]

I love driving towards downtown San Diego on the 163 (I think), where the expressway is engulfed by trees and you drive around curves and under high, elegant arches of overpasses. I feel transported from the greater desert scrub and suburban plaza atmosphere into a forest realm.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rounding out the SF portion of the trip

Returning to SF via the Bay Bridge from Emeryville was a traffic revelation for my East Coast, country-raised self. 16 lanes of traffic emerge from the toll booths in one direction. To narrow these to 4, there's a metering light system that lets one car through at a time for each pair of lanes. I thought this was quite brillant. I guess it's a standard type of system in CA.

Treasure Island is halfway across the bay. I need to look up how it got its name. It's very lush and looks like it could be a park area.

In SF itself, the narrow, boxy house roll over the hills in shades of white, yellow, peach, and pink.
Mmmmm ... crepes
Good SF eats this time:
- Scala's Bistro - dark & calming, though bustling, pretty good food.
- Crepe o chocolat - a small French cafe, frequented by locals for $1 coffee refills - marvellous crepe and homemade honey chai.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An evening at the movies...

So, last night I went to see Stardust. It was a blast! Such an awesome flick that garnered tons of audience response, which is tres cool. As a big Neil Gaiman fan and reader of his blog, I've been following the work on the creation of this film (though I still need to get the book and read it). Jenny was a bit disturbed by all of the rabbit people had hanging around for food, but otherwise also really enjoyed it. Stellar work. Loved the cast - Charlie Cox and Claire Danes are very cool, DeNiro is awesome, Pfeiffer is great. I highly recommend watching this many many times. Definitely appreciate that a fireplace fell on Claudia Schiffer's foot to get this to the big screen, though it would have been nice if it could have happened less painfully.

Sonny went to see "Speedy" - a silent film from the 1920's, accompanied by a live trio. Very cool.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

BTW - the boys are busy, too

artscape sonny
Originally uploaded by cw_roelle

Sonny had a booth at ArtScape in Baltimore and is busy busy making cooler and cooler stuff. (He and Pam will be visiting us around my birthday - cool!)

Danny is insanely busy in, like, 10 bands or something like that. I believe he plays a private party in Cambridge today, breakfast with Sonny tomorrow am, then a gig in Herkimer, NY. In addition to all of the bands, he still has his "normal" job and he's cooking at Buffalo Bills many weekends. It tires me out just to look at his calendar!

More from San Francisco


Flying into SF, I noticed how unmarred the mountains appeared, hardly even marked by roads, at least from the perspective of the plane. Just as I was thinking this, we passed over one "hill" with a hole on the top. Rectangular, it resembled the shape of a swimming pool (though that would be quite a large pool), but was a deep, empty cavity. Wonder what's in there?

The San Francisco MOMA is very cool and the store is great. I'd spend more time there if I had it (meeting someone soon) and if there was someone with me to talk to. Walking from the MOMA to the Hotel Nikko, I passed the Museum of Craft & Folk Art - a place it seemed Jenny and Sonny would really appreciate.

Walked through IKEA in Emeryville - what a cool place! Lots of neat things and I like the "example" rooms that lay things out. Spurred lots of ideas, but I knew I had no room in my luggage (trying not to check anything) for anything. Only afterwards did people suggest I could have something shipped from the office. Darn!

Monday, July 30, 2007

On my trip, I wrote in a journal

because the time I spent online was pretty heavily dedicated to work. Heck, the time I was awake was pretty heavily dedicated to work.

Book #15: Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things by Donald A. Norman - Interesting book but not one I could plow through on a plane. Had to take breaks. A lot of it rings true and speaks to struggles I face in some issues at work. Liked this:
"For once you have learned how to look at, listen to, & analyze what is before you, you realize that the experience is every changing. The pleasure is forever."

This entire trip has been so fast, busy, and exhausting that I haven't had a chance to write anything until now, as I sit on the plane headed home. So most of this will be highlights.

San Francisco overall:
A very cool, pretty city. Condensed into a small amount of space. Old structures and character abound. Unfortunate, though, that the sanitation system is not that great. Even locals complain about the lack of trash cans on the streets, which means there's a lot of litter. In the core of downtown, it's noisy at all hours, with the cable car (you know the Rice-a-Roni kind) system clacking and humming and jackhammers buzzing at construction work late into the night.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's the thought that counts

I had to post this piece, originally from The Consumerist, which I found on Living Light Bulbs.

I was flying from Massachusetts to New Jersey on Continental Airlines on this past week. There was terrible weather over New Jersey and while the plane took off on time, a half-hour in to the 47 minute flight we ended up circling over southern Connecticut. After a number of "we'll only be holding here for a few minutes" updates, an hour had elapsed and the pilot told us that the storm that held us up was making it impossible to get to New Jersey and that they didn't have enough fuel to get back to Massachusetts. We were diverted to a remote airstrip and were told that we'd just refuel and then get to New Jersey.

Of course, the "30 minute refuel" turned into 2 hours stuck on the tarmac at this airstrip because the storm came right through our location.

At this point we'd been on the plane for 4+ hours and despite some individual heavy sighs, most people were still pretty pleasant. We were all blown away when the flight attendant came on the PA and told all of us that they had a surprise: the crew had called in an order for pizza and had 10 pizzas delivered to the plane. They also told us not to write into Continental about this because "they'd get in trouble".

It turns out that the pilot paid for the pizza out of his/her pocket! It was a remarkable gesture, and what I found really terrible was that the crew felt that they'd get in trouble with the airline for being so thoughtful, generous, and kind to the passengers.

As I think about the experience trying to get home from San Francisco - sleeping in the airport, eating at the place closest to the gate so as not to miss anything - I wish United would take note of this story. Yes, they gave us food vouchers. But think about how we would have felt - as we stood in endless customer service lines waiting for flights to be fixed, if someone had come out with pizza, or even coffee. If just one of the people busy giving us excuses had stopped to give us a little something to show they recognized we were people and could use a break. I'd be much happier about flying with United in the future, that's for sure.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth

J and I were recently inspired to more actively use our sunroom. Prior to this decision, the room was closed off most of the time, to keep cats out of orchids, and it was mainly a plant growing space and housed the tree at Christmas.

Now, we've moved our small dining table in, to prepare the dining room for the one we plan to build, and we've made the sunroom into a cozy space, almost a garden annex of sorts. Great for breakfast, for the cats to watch the birds, bunnies, and squirrels, and for us to be creative together.

The cats love the sunroom windows

Book #14: Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz. As a kid in high school, and partly into college, I loved the Deryni novels. They were one of my favorite fantasy series. I haven't read one that I remember in quite a while, however, and it was with a somewhat different perspective that I approached this book. That said, this book does not intend to be a fantasy novel, but rather a depth analysis of the magic of the Deryni race. I'm afraid it takes itself way too seriously, approaching the subject like it's a scientific thesis. Saying things like "we do not know why" so-and-so did something or "we don't have any records of what happened in his past". Sorry, but the lady wrote the stuff and created the characters - if it's not already written - make it up! The attitude of this book actually makes me question how much I really want to keep the series in a favored spot. I think these books may head to the Camel Library soon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

OK, Rochester - here's 2 for you!

Danny will be playing in 2 gigs this weekend -

Friday - June 29 - Ghost Hand (check out the vid here, but warning, it's over 20 minutes long) - will be playing at Mickey Flynn's from 10-2.

Saturday - June 30 - Powhite Parkway - playing at Buffalo Bill's in Shortsville at 10.

Internet access - how nice!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No pics, sorry

I'm on a dial-up connection. No way this beast will let me upload pics tonight. Will after I get back, on Friday.

The first day in SF - wonderful meal at Scoma's on Fisherman's Wharf. Walked along the Wharf to Pier 39. Saw the Golden Gate from the distance, and Alcatraz, and some iconic SF buildings. Saw sea lions. Got very cold. Very tired now.

Perhaps more tomorrow, maybe just a quick one from my phone.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

San Francisco

Hey - I'm headed to San Francisco for a day and a half (arriving 2ish tomorrow, leaving late Thursday night). Traveling with others for business, so I'm not sure what time I'll have, but any suggestions are welcome (thanks, Jenny for your list!).

I had some pics and a possible Danny music video that I'll post, along with the first stage of the trip, from the hotel tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hey, Providence!

Sentimental Favorites is playing tonight at AS220 - 9pm with Corn Mo and Superchief Trio. Go - it'll be fun!

Other brother news -
- Sunday - 6/10 - Sonny will be doing a couple of songs in The Empire Revue at AS220
- July - Sonny'll be in a big Art Faire in Baltimore (dk details yet)

Dan is currently playing with:
Barnstormers - a cover band
Powhite Parkway - a blues/jazz type trio with guest singers
Nic & the Nice Guys - this is a big organization, Dan is playing various gigs with the different bands
He doesn't always tell his sister about gigs, so you'll just have to keep ears/eyes open.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Rather than keep trickling the books out, I figured I should just get caught up....

Book #10 - Nana by Emile Zola - in French. This one took a while and I may have missed some subtleties wading through Zola's French, but I think I get it. Zola really had a dislike for the "kept women" of Paris or as the US Amazon puts it "hypocrisy and fin-de-siecle moral corruption". I could tell from the footnotes that Zola was trying to denounce Nana and her set, but there are elements in the middle where I started to like her. When she first gets a country home and feels at peace playing house, before her city guests arrived. When she leaves the theatre set to "settle" with a man she believes she loves, though neither of them has much money. It seemed a bit brutal, what Zola put her through during the months she lived with this guy. At the end, there really wasn't a person left in Nana - she wanted more and more and more and hated it when she got it and crumbled into ruin. I'm still not quite sure what I think of her.

Book #11 - Flash Fiction Forward, edited by James Thomas and Robert Shapard. Very very short stories. A range. Some really compelling and moving - leaving you marveling at how they got that much into less than 3 pages. Others seemed very random and made little sense. Neat medium, though.

Book #12 - Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle written by Nathaniel Marunas, illustrated by Erik Craddock. An amusing break/ distraction.

Book #13 - Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock. Most excellent. I think I did enjoy it more than Mythago Wood, the first in the series. Did it help that the main character was a chic? Probably. Rhyope Wood is a mystical place, larger inside than its perimeter would indicate, where time warps, and the land itself and the creatures within it emerge from myths buried in the collective unconscious of those who cross its threshold. Fascinating, and I loved Tallis' story. It got very circular at the end, though, and left me a little undecided on how I felt about its conclusion. Neater would have been easier - but would it be as likely to stick with me??

Friday, May 25, 2007

I love this time of year!

I actually love pretty much late April thru to early November - the time when things are growing and alive. Just got back from a very comprehensive search of the garden store - didn't find everything I wanted, but got some good substitutes, I think. Now, to plant it all!

Oh, and I love having some time off of work!

Book #9: The Incredible Hulk: Boiling Point by Bruce Jones. For me, who grew up with Bill Bixby and Lou Farigno, the graphic novels always take a bit of adjusting to. Why did they change Banner's name for TV?? But it's still the Hulk and he's still awesome.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Moments of childishness = happiness reborn

I fully believe that if I were to have superhero powers, I would be able to fly. My "theme song" - and one of the few "other" songs that I danced to at my wedding is the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes version of "I believe I can fly". It never ceases to cheer me up, shake me out of whatever stress I'm in, motivate me to get into kickbutt shape, etc.

For years, flying has permeated my dreams. Sometimes I zip and zoom, sometimes I soar, sometimes I have to start with swimming through the air, just skimming the treetops, before I pick up speed and get free. It helps me save people, escape bad guys, ghosts, evil houses. It's also a huge rush - the sensation of loosing the bonds of gravity and bathing in fresh air and nature's bounty (I'm never flying in smog or the like). Unlike Nathan on Heroes, who when he actually gets over his bugaboos and actually flies, seems to more about getting from A to B (or just away from A) as fast as possible - this is exhilarating.

A blog I recently found Ghost Stories, had an entry about flying dreams.
Flying dreams can be interpreted in a number of ways. In general they can be seen as representing your spirit rising high, free from limitations or boundaries. A dream in which you can fly suggests that your mind is reaching for new heights, searching for and exploring possibilities that lie beyond the reality of your everyday life. The flying dream often happens when there is an opportunity for advancement in your life and may indicate optimism about your future.
Hmmm - pretty cool.

So, while watching one of the final episodes of Heroes for the season, I found myself revisiting childhood as I went from first floor to attic to watch. I ran through the house, arms wide and tilting back and forth, playing an airplane, or a flying hero. Silly, yes, but can I tell you - it was such a rush!

Catching up on some books I haven't posted about lately:
Book #8: Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler. We were first intrigued by this because, like George Saunders, he's relatively local and the book got a lot of buzz when it first came out. I found some of this quite quite odd - and not from a surreal or supernatural point of view, but the characters seemed a bit too warped to believe. It was neat the way the stories connected - I would have loved to have learned more about the building that played such a role. And I got very mad at the chicks that put up with the psycho's nonsense and went back for more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Being green

I'm trying to be more conscious than ever about the impact I'm making on the planet. It's so predominant nowadays that it's almost cliche, but I find it important. I chose my new car partially on MPG, I've started using paper bags for cleaning the litter and canvas totes cover most of our grocery haul. On short trips, I try to turn down bags whenever I remember. I turn off the shower while I shampoo, and leave a window open while showering for better ventilation (hoping that means less mildew cleaning).

Originally uploaded by cw_roelle.
sonny's pic
Sonny recently posted on Flickr about spending some time around Earth Day picking up refundables in Providence.

I also found a couple of other suggestions that seem cool -
  • Nike's sneaker recycling program makes basketball courts and sports fields out of old shoes. In our area, the dropoff is at the hazardous waste facility near Monroe Community Hospital.
  • Ideal Bite is a fun "crunchy chic" blog.
  • I'm exploring recycled glass or newspaper countertops (seen on This Old House) and thinking hemp for the new shower curtains in the bath.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Spring is an awesome time of year, especially when I have the time to actually get into the garden. It's a very meditative practice for me. As annoying as the morning glories and squirrels can be, working with and nurturing the plants, seeing my vision come to life, and knowing that I'll have herbs and veggies to harvest - settles me.

Bell choir in May plays Memorial Day Sunday and our director has chosen a spiritual hymn. They've asked me to sing it a capella to lead in the bells, so I pulled out my flute to pick through the notes and get a feel for it. I haven't played my flute for anything more than picking out a bell rhythm in years and years. After playing with the hymn for a bit, I paged through my old music and played a bit of this and that. I felt recentered. I felt more me than I have in a while. I think I've been caught up in to-do's and projects and chores and piles and have been cheating myself a bit. Evenings when I needed to "come home" from work, I often just watched TV or napped. Now I see that this really didn't help. Got the mind off work a bit, but didn't renew at all. Getting out my flute and singing a bit really brought back a bit of me that had been buried by the vagaries of daily life.

Here's to a great spring of gardening, music, and creative endeavors that should leave us as renewed as nature is around us.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I'm in Huntington Beach now, but too tired to fully blog my first day here. Just a few small notes from the past few days:
  • One thing about warmer climes that I do really love - the variety of trees. At home, we have variety, but many look generally the same. Here the trees are very varied - palms and the like, flowering trees, delicate ones, hefty ones. San Diego especially feels lush on the expressway towards downtown for this reason.
  • My plane to LA smelled like a gym locker. Good thing the flight was only a 1/2 hour.
  • Seen in Del Mar: A two-story plaza. Upstairs there's a Koi shop - selling the exotic garden fish. Downstairs - sushi. Just seems wrong.
  • I wish I could capture the smell of the sea at the same time I'm taking pictures and videos and send it back to Mom, who I know loves watching the water as much as I.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Summer rain in March

Last night, a thunderstorm rolled through. It was still pretty light out, as the rain poured down. I went out to get ice for my room and the air smelled of summer rain. In March. How delightful!

The open skies of Southern California make me feel as if I've emerged from beneath the gray wool blanket of winter in the Northeast.

I still don't think I'd move here. Too much expansion, explosion of buildings upon buildings. Limited seasons. I want to go wander in a dark green forest.

Today was a day of excellent meals. Breakfast was a perfect New York Style chocolate chip bagel. Lunch was at Spices Thai Cafe. I had Spicy Thai Noodles with chicken - on a scale of 1-10, I ordered #8. Quite, quite spicy. Maybe I would have eaten a little more or faster if I had ordered a 7 or 6, but I enjoyed the spice of the 8.

Dinner was at Hacienda de Vega, a Mexican restaurant. Had a Mango Mojito Margarita, 4 types of salsa (my favorite was the tomatillo - taste of fresh spring and a spicy surprise), and chicken mole enchiladas. Yummmmmm....

Book #7 - The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I first read this as a kid. It's definitely worth rereading as an adult. What I recall from my first reading was the way Anne and the others were forced to live in hiding, what they had to give up. What I found so striking as an adult was the self-discovery Anne went through. I'm sure living in such an environment contributes to such introspection, but I found her insightful, nonetheless, and a personality I could identify with. It was almost like reading letters from a close childhood friend.

On to LA tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

San Diego

Sunset from Del Mar
I meant to post between trips. I guess I did once. Ah, well. Here we are again. Southern California is warm and pretty sunny, although dealing with some rain. It's good to meet with the team here and get some real sharing and conversations going. There are frustrations, as always, but not too bad.

Had dinner last night at epazote. The marvelous sunset shown here graced us as we waited for entrees. I had grilled swordfish with an orange-honey cumin glaze, some peppers and arugula,and brown rice. Very tasty. And a molten pb-chocolate cake for dessert. :)

I'm up to Book 7, but for now, just blogging Book #6 - The Borden Tragedy by Rick Geary. Geary used a manuscript only discovered in 1990 as a basis for this graphic novel of the murders. After reading the casebook, this brings more supporting evidence to light, but it's striking that after presenting all of this the authoress (who has yet to be firmly identified) still seems to believe Lizzie innocent and an "unknown intruder" guilty. Geary draws comparisons on the back cover to OJ....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More books

I'm taking a trip next week for work. 4 days in San Diego, then 5 in LA. I love traveling, getting out of the routine, going new places. I like staying in hotels every once in a while, provided they have good bath products and a good bed.

I hate leaving home. I know J will really miss me. I'll miss the cats. I feel an excessive need to plan for every potential wardrobe contingency, but don't want to have to carry any bags.
I'm making many lists in my head.

The other part of it is that I'm naturally quite bashful, but really enjoy good people. I know, for the 5 days in LA in particular, I'm going to have to break away from my instinctive hiding in a corner and participate, meet, interact - otherwise I don't get the full benefit of being there.
I almost feel like I need to make a list for that in my head, too. Maybe it'll just come naturally when I get there and I'll discover my tendency isn't towards bashfulness but just pre-show jitters. Doubtful.

I keep in mind - what would a true kick-butt chic do? hmmm ... wwtkbcd.....

back to books -
Book #4 - Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - I heard of Gaiman when I sat next to a girl at work who had this kinda creepy, but pretty cool, fascination with the Death character from his Sandman comics. I really got interested when I read the first chapter of Neverwhere online and later when I got the book. His blog just makes some of the "magic" behind the work more apparent - so his stuff is that much cooler. Anyway - this was a fun book that read fast (being stuck in an airport helped carve out some time, too). I liked it a lot. I'm always very excited when a book (especially one I'm liking anyway) deals with the power of language and the power of stories (also song here)to mold, create, and shift realities. My one-day thesis if I ever were to do one. Most excellent.

Book #5 - Lizzie Borden -A Casebook of Family and Crime in the 1890s edited by Joyce G. Williams, J. Eric Smithburn, and M. Jeanne Peterson. A much slower read, of course. As a casebook, it deals almost entirely in first-hand accounts - newspaper articles, letters, legal documents, interviews. Some of it gets a bit dry, but I found it fascinating. I wanted to corral the Fall River police and send a modern-day CSI squad in to cement the evidence once and for all. Not only did a whole "village" come through the house immediately after the bodies were discovered, but all the police tried to take credit for finding evidence - making the chain of possession impossible to really figure out - and the family and various hangers-on remained in the house a few weeks between the murders and Lizzie's arrest. Hmm wonder why they never came up with the dress??? No sealed crime scene there. Many other nuances that made this as compelling as a good 48 Hours Mystery episode - the 1 1/2 hour soliloquy that masqueraded as the judge's instructions to the jury - riddled with bias. (Would any sane person really tell a friend she wanted to get rid of her stepmother and then actually do it 2 days later? Common sense says "no". - to paraphrase) The cheer that went up for Lizzie at the acquital and the closing of doors back in Fall River. Anyway - very interesting if you can stand the Victorian newspaper reporting. (Reading a graphic novel version now - we'll see how that goes)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Traveler returns - Book 3

After 2 days of trying to get home, I finally get here at 11pm.
I came back from 68-degrees and sunshine to a winter wonderland, in white-out conditions, roads still not really plowed, after 21 inches fell at the airport in 24 hours, and temperatures in the single digits at best. But I'm home.The grins and hugs that greeted me are worth so much more than being comfortable outdoors with just a single layer of clothing. ...
I'm home with my husband. I'm home with my boys (though this first night home they seem on edge by my return and spend their time scuffling with each other instead of visting me). I'm home.

Book #3 - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Really enjoyed this, but don't want to share too many details, as it's a potential for bookclub. I will say - it's not the best book to read while away from your spouse. I cried. And I think Nicolas Cage would be awesome as Henry in a movie version. That's who I pictured while reading it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Traveler note - Valentine's Day

I'm sitting in Chicago O'Hare, waiting for a perpetually delayed flight to bring me home from sunny Southern California to upstate NY in the midst of a blizzard.

I moved from a seat near my gate to a spot on the floor near a power outlet for my laptop, with its miserably short battery life. The spot I chose happened to be exactly where someone spilled coffee earlier and my rear is now soaked. I don't look forward to getting up.

A couple passes in the busy corridor. I notice them because she appears to hang off his arm, while he pulls a rolling bag and awkwardly holds a ripped shopping bag. I wonder why she isn't helping him handle their stuff. Hardly have I noticed them, when she tugs his arm, moves in front of him, and knocks off his hat. Their words don't seem too heated. She speaks emotionally, but not loudly. He says little and tries to escape. He veers one way and then another. She pulls at the rollerbag handle, kicks it around, tries to stop him from escaping her hard words. He ducks and shuffles. I catch "incestuous" repeated a couple of times and wonder if I'm letting my imagination make their story more interesting, or if it's simply far beyond my definition of normal. He moves a small distance and sits against the billboard ads on the wall. She sits next to him. A few minutes later, he gets up and walks out of view. She stays. He returns, pacing back and forth, avoiding her, but not willing to lose her in the crowded, weather-delayed terminal. He moves across to a seat on my side of the corridor, she gets up and sits next to him. He then gets up, walks towards me, apparently checking some gate info, then walks out of sight. Time passes. She still sits alone. The shopping bag is no longer discarded on the floor, she must have retrieved it, but as she scoots down to lay across the row of seats, she seems resigned that he isn't coming back soon. When I finally get up to return to my gate (after checking my pants for coffee), she's still there.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Traveler notes - Book 2

Book #2 - Oracle Night by Paul Auster. I really like the idea of a story in a story in a story, but was a bit disappointed that it wasn't explored further. The power and influence of stories and words is another favorite theme of mine, but I felt this turned awry in Oracle Night when, fearing the power of words, things didn't get said at all. The absence of words was destructive and I felt like Auster didn't see what he had done with that. He put much of the backstory into long footnotes and that was a bit annoying. Still, I did enjoy it.


I am using a bit of time that I would have had before my original flight (now cancelled due to a blizzard) to have my first In-N-Out Burger experience. The regional chain is a mecca – friends of mine who have eaten there make it a destination whenever they’re near one and drool at the thought of travels to a town that might hold one. Mention it in the company of people from the area and their eyes light up. “You have to try. It’s great!” But it’s hard to tell how often they really partake.

I enter the small fast-food place. It looks slightly retro and the kitchen is very open to view. The menu is simple. Burgers with and without cheese, in various numbers of layers, with fries and drinks. I have been informed of “secret” items not listed on the menu, but they seemed more in the realm of a classic Rochester Garbage Plate to me, and weren’t of interest. Everything is customizable, which is good since I don’t normally care for all the stuff piled onto burgers. I order and I’m given a number.

Numbers are called when the order is up. With each order, the counter person calls out “Number [x], please”. Please!

Everything at In-N-Out is made fresh to order. Buns are toasted. Burgers are half wrapped in a napkin and paper wrapper, which makes them easy to eat neatly. Fries are chopped from the potatoes at that moment.

Overall, I found In-N-Out very cool. I wish others would follow the fresh/ polite/ adaptable model. This restaurant was very busy at 3 on a Tuesday – I have to figure they do good business.

Traveler notes


Southern California. Sun. Mountains tumble into the sea. Deep blue seas curdle white where they pound the beaches. Palm trees line the highways, adorn the towns. Scrub brushes and stunted trees crowd with pale pink rock on the hillsides. The air exudes extravagance. The fast lane. The pampered life, even though that’s not universally true. Spending. Opulence. New. Fancy. But not too obnoxious in the areas I visited. Californians are creatures bound to their vehicles, but the vast majority of drivers are very polite. Signaling lane changes. Leaving plenty of room. Letting you in when you need to get into or cross their lane. The highways are laid out clearly and function well, when accidents or other obstacles don’t cause traffic jams.

I don’t get to spend a lot of time absorbing the area. No time to visit the nearby parks or even the beach. Just a taste and then back to the blizzard back home. More importantly, my husband awaits me there. No place can win me over if he is not there. Not matter how much sun it holds in February.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Radio show

Check out this post from Neil Gaiman that links to a radio show from Penn Jillette. Hear it's funny, I'll listen to it later.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Year - new focus, kind of

So, I've started the New Year not with resolutions, but a bit of new focus. Well, I had written down some key focal points. Now I seem to have lost them.
Family/ Home
Financial stability
or something like.

I opened the year with a new workout - Shape's bikini body by May workout and that felt so good and productive. I was getting into full swing and....
... caught a chest cold that left me breathless walking to the restroom, let alone doing 30 minutes of cardio 4 days a week.

I'm eagerly awaiting its departure so I can start again.

In the meantime, J bought me a kick-butt chic manual - The Action Heroine's Handbook by Jennifer Worick and Joe Borgenicht. It has step by step instructions on key kick-butt chic maneuvers, like drinking someone under the table, taking a punch, and surviving rooftop chases. Most excellent!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

50 books, year 3

For the third time I'll try to get to 50 books read. Since I read a lot of magazines, newspaper articles, and blogs, in addition to picking some pretty meaty books, this has proven hard.

Book #1 for this year: King Lear by William Shakespeare - a reread. It was interesting - I had a feeling for how things would end - it being a Shakespearean tragedy and all, but did get hooked. In the fashion of the books I love, the story lingered in my head as I did other things and I wanted to read just a bit more, just a bit more to find out what happened next. Still not my favorite Shakespeare (and I do need to read several and re-read others) - so far Othello is at the top of my list.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I'm a bad bad blogger

Well, there's been a lot going on! I've resolved to get back into it, though. For my first post of this new year, a bit of reflection...

  • Started with a ring! Much of the year was consumed with wedding plans. Though I didn't want to be an obnoxious or psycho bride, we wanted a lot of elements customized for us, our tastes, our theme, so that was a lot of work.
    • Besides the joy of getting married - 3 months in this is still an incredibly powerful and emotional thought for us - we got to flex our creativity and personalities in all of those elements. And we got to spend time with friends and family we don't see nearly often enough. That's a huge piece of all of this.
  • Our first full year with our new kittens - an adventure. Man those cats can eat! They're now on diets and have totally won us over.
  • 22 books read. I was planning a wedding you know.
  • New jobs for J and myself. The whirlwind that brings.
  • The Roelle trip to Maine, unfortunately J couldn't go, but the rest of us had an awesome time!
  • Sonny was on TV! Proving that it truly takes talent to master his craft...
  • The Tim and Dan show started and is working on finding a singer.

Those are the key highlights that I can think of right now anyway and now I have to run.

Stay tuned in the next day or so for:
- New year - Book 1
- New year - new workout - ouch
- Holiday tidbits and (hopefully) a classic pic!
- *Finally* Honeymoon tidbits
- Other miscellany and trying to strong-arm the brothers into posting more, too....