Monday, April 30, 2012

April Reading List

Books Read in April

052 - 01 Hide in Plain Sight, by Marta Perry (4/1)
053 - 02 You Belong to Me, by Karen Rose (4/1)  AUDIOBOOK 
054 - 03 Copper Beach, by Jayne Ann Krentz (4/4) 
055 - 04 It Happened One Season, by Laurens, Balogh, D'Alessandro, and Hern (4/6)

056 - 05 The Surgeon, by Tess Gerritsen (4/10)  
057 - 06 The Bright Forever, by Lee Martin (4/11)
058 - 07 The Bone Garden, by Tess Gerritsen (4/12) AUDIOBOOK
059 - 08 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,  by Anne Tayler (4/14)
060 - 09 Irresistible Forces, by Brenda Jackson (4/15) 
061 - 10 A  Very Special Delivery, by Linda Goodnight (4/15) 
062 - 11 Married by Mistake, by Abby Gaines (4/16) 
063 - 12 The Bride's Baby, by Liz Fielding (4/16)
064 - 13 Code Triage, by Candace Calvert (4/18)
065 - 14 The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (4/18)
066 - 15 Body of Evidence, by Tess Gerritsen  (4/21)
067 - 16 Baby Bonanza, by Maureen Child (4/25) 
068 - 17 Vanish, by Tess Gerritsen (4/26) 
069 - 18 Double Dare, by Rhonda Nelson (4/26)
070 - 19 A Bride for Tom, by Ruth Ann Nordin (4/26)
071 - 20 The Billionaire Wins the Game, by Melody Anne (4/27)
072 - 21 A Husband for Margaret, by Ruth Ann Nordin (4/29) 
073 - 22 Edith, by Mirriam Smyth (4/29)

I was really bothered by Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Most of the time when you read a story about a dysfunctional family, you think tend to think either that "at least they're amusing" or "thank goodness my family isn't as bad as all that." With this book, all I could think was "please, we're not anything like that, I hope." It wasn't until I read the Reader's Guide, with A Conversation with Anne Tyler, that I figured out why the book bothered me  so much. It was the theme of the story: 
In a sense, I think we're all doomed. We can repeat our parents' mistakes or we can bend over backwards not to repeat them and end up making mistakes of contrariness; but either way, we're still under their influence. (Tyler, Anne. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. New York: Ballentine Books, 1982. )
Unfortunately, I think that Anne Tyler may be right, and our families doom us to our future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it's like the human voice. (Stan Getz)

Most teenagers dream of playing the electric guitar. Or at least the drums.

 My baby bought a sax.

She is so-very much the daughter of my heart!

(I just hope the neighbors understand.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Real Life Sucks.

I liked it a lot better when my daughter was here, and I could stay home from work and just do fun things with her. Unfortunately, I had to take her to the airport early this morning (and I do mean early - we left my house at 5:30 am!) and then it was back to work and real life for me.

I miss her so much already!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I finally saw the Castle!

After years of talking about it, I finally made it to the Coral Castle. It was even one of the things that had been on my 50 by 50 list. I'm so glad my daughter agreed to go with me. It was fantastic.

When we first pulled into the parking lot, I was a little leery. We had driven an hour and a half to get there, and the place looked way too small and somewhat shabby to be worth a three hour round trip. Especially since there was a $15 entry fee. Per person. But I've been wanting to see it for so long, and we had driven so far to get there, we decided to go on in.

Wow. The first sign that you see, says it all. In my opinion, it also sums up the personality of Ed Leedskalnin. Ed designed and did all the work for the Coral Castle back in the 1940s. Ed was a tiny man, only about 5' tall and 100 lbs, and yet he managed to carve out and move literally thousands of pounds of rock with only the machinery he built himself.

Seeing Rock Gate Park (Ed's original name for his sculpture garden) would have been wonderful on it's own, just for the beauty. But we were lucky to be taken around by an amazing guide. She knew her history, both of the Coral Castle and the world in general, and she was able to pull references from mythology, ancient and current religions, history, literature, and even the Free Masons as she discussed the various elements. She presented a lot of theories on how and why Ed created the Castle, and while I don't go along with the majority I thought it was very interesting. (It reminded me of literature classes - I'm still convinced that most authors would be surprised by the symbolism and themes that they are attributed with.) We really weren't ready for her tour to end, and were amazed to find out that we had been there over two hours without realizing the passage of time. It was that good!

One happy surprise was learning that Florida residents get a free pass to come back as often as they want for two years. I can't wait to go back!

The original ten-cents admission is a far cry from the $15 it costs today. But that was a lot of money in the depression, so Ed would barter with families, taking food that he would then turn around and sell as concessions. Smart man!

 Ed lived in a tiny one-room house above his rock garden, without any electricity or running water.

A view of the Coral Castle grounds.

This is one of the reading chairs. Ed carved three, placing them where he could get the best light following the sun's path in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon .

Cari, looking through the rock telescope.

The telescope lines up perfectly to see the north star.

Cari and our guide move the back gate. This weighed something like 5,000 lbs (I forget the exact weight), but because Ed worked out a pivot system it can still be moved today by a couple of girls. Ed had no formal education, so how he was able to design and build this is still unexplained. Although there are a lot of fantastic theories.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Random PicturesThe

I caught the girls reading poetry. Poetry! I knew I was raising geeks, but still.

My son and his girlfriend. I spent the entire weekend calling her by the wrong name. I didn't mean to. She's very sweet. I'm just really bad with names, and a horrible mother for not getting it right until AFTER they went home.

Yeah, we know who Gramma's favorite is.

Although Cari comes in a close second.

All I asked was that the kids have a family picture taken, since the last one I have of the three of them was taken almost ten years ago. This is all I got. It will serve them right when I use it on my Christmas cards this year.

I think this is one of my all-time favorite pictures of the kids. I'm not sure why.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Food, friends, family.

Before my daughter moved to NYC, she met - and impressed - Lillian. At the time Lillian owned our favorite Cuban restaurant - which impressed my daughter. So when Lillian found out Cari was coming home for a visit, she asked if we could all get together for dinner.

The dinner was marvelous! Cuban pork, wonderfully seasoned, with rice and beans. I provided the dessert - Cherry Rose Cupcakes: chocolate cupcakes with dried cherries that had been soaked in Four Roses Bourbon, with a little more bourbon added to my Buttercream Frosting.

Even better than the food was the company. We laughed, we cried, we laughed a lot more. And everyone had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise...

The girls decided that para sailing would be the perfect sister-bonding activity.

 So off they went, leaving mom behind.

Don't worry. Mom was very happy to sit on the shore, safely reading a book while the girls floated over head.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Happy Joy Joy

My daughter is home. To be more precise, my oldest daughter flew down for a 9-day visit. I'm so excited to have her home again! (Even if it is for only 9-days.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

K. loves his Grandma R!

I am so jealous of my cousin. She has the most adorable little grandson that she gets to spoil to her heart's content. She posted a couple of videos on Facebook this weekend, which is what has me so green with envy. I would love to have a grandchild to spoil.

Before I go any further, let me put in a quick disclaimer. I am very pleased that none of my children have decided to present me with a grandchild this early in their lives. It makes me proud that they have each recognized that they are not in a position to have children yet. (For pete sakes, my youngest is just finishing her first year of college!) Despite my desire for a grandchild, I am perfectly willing to wait for one.

In the meantime, however, it would be nice if one of my younger relatives or friends, many of whom are  having babies, would grant me the privilege of being an honorary grandma (or great-aunt, or whatever) so that I could have a child to spoil. Just think of all the adorable baby outfits, and toys, and stuff I could have fun making for him or her. Not to mention all the wonderful ideas I have gathered over the years for cards and letters and books. I'd offer free babysitting and even some parental spoiling, too. All I would want in return is an abundance of pictures (easy in this day of digital camera and internet connections) that I  could show off.

Oh well. I'm probably too young to be called "Nana Sandi" anyway.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A red scarf for recognition

I haven't been doing much of anything lately. I go to work, and stay way too long. (At this point, my job owes me 48 hours of comp time. I'm taking off a week to spend with my daughter, and I'll still have 2 days plus my 2 week vacation this year.) Then I go and knit at the Barnes & Noble, or at the library. I think I'm just trying to avoid going home each day, where there's too much cleaning to be done and not enough room to accomplish anything. I still think I could really love my apartment, if I only had less furniture and boxes. (It's odd to say I want less furniture, since I really need a dining room table and a couch. But there isn't any room for the necessary stuff with a large dresser, four end  tables, and two looms taking up all the space.) But I don't mean to whine.

I actually just meant to do an introduction for a kniterary reference I found. You see, while knitting I've been reading. The Nook tablet is wonderful for that, since you don't have to  hold it open to the page and it can be easily propped up to a comfortable reading angle. One of the books I've been reading (I still have the bad habit of having several books going at once. Start-i-tis doesn't only affect my knitting.), is The Night Circus. I was very surprised to find this kniterary passage:

While they wait for the train Elizabeth takes out her knitting needles and a  skein of deep red wool. ...
The train arrives shortly after the sun has fully risen, and on the way to Boston the stories continue, while  Elizabeth knits and Lorena props her head up sleepily on her arm.

I love that this minor character, Elizabeth, just automatically pulls out her knitting while they wait for the train. Her companion is bored (Lorena props up her head), but Elizabeth goes on to finish a red scarf that she then randomly gives to a fellow traveler. The Night Circus is a wonderful book full of mystery and magic and populated with people that I could never be; and then suddenly there's Elizabeth, who briefly interacts with these fantasy people and gives me hope for my own normal life. I think Elizabeth is my new hero. And how appropriate that she is named Elizabeth, after the knitting superstar Zimmermann!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I can't help listening.

I like to listen to the conversations going on around me when I'm out in public. It's not that I'm trying to eavesdrop. Well, not exactly.  I definitely don't do it with any malicious intent. It's just a habit I got into back when I was younger, and dreaming of becoming a writer. I listen to the conversations around me in order to get material for stories, and to learn other rhythms and cadences of speech so that the stories will have a true voice. I no longer intentionally listen, but I can't help 'overhearing on purpose.'  Some of the snippets of conversation can be very entertaining. I thought I would share a few comments out of my recent collection.

Overheard at the coffee shop:
"I'm not a lawyer, but I've watched them on TV and this is what I would advise you to do..."

Overheard while I was shopping:
"I'd be a very relaxed person, if I wasn't so stressed from work."
While standing in line in a restaurant, I overhead the following. It was probably memorable enough on it's own, since I can't believe that anyone would be so bad-mannered as to do this much less admit it in public. But it was said by a young man, probably in his early 20's, who was obviously trying to impress a couple of girls he had just met.
"Yeah, you might not want to go into the girls room. The men's room was full, so I snuck into the girls. And I figured that as long as I was there, I might as well pee on the seat. Yep, I pee'd all over the seat. Just shook my junk around and around. It's a mess. I wish I coulda seen the face on the woman waiting to get in after me."

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

Normally, I think of family, church and chocolate for Easter. This year was a little different. The emphasis was church, bells and butterflies.

We didn't have our usual family egg hunt. The family egg hunt has been carried on since the early 1920's. (Okay, I might possibly be exaggerating, but not by much.) It started when my grandmother was a little girl, and this is the first time in the history of the family egg hunt that the tradition has been broken. (Okay, I'm exaggerating again. I happen to know that my cousin held a family egg hunt up in New Jersey, so the tradition is still intact.) But this is the first year that I couldn't coordinate my children's work/school schedules.

Besides being disappointed that none of my kids had time to find plastic eggs with me, I was also upset that none of them went to church with me. Okay, I understand that getting up and leaving the house at 5 am in order to attend sunrise service is a hard sell. I honestly expected to go to that service alone. (I hadn't expected to find the church standing room only, though. This new church has a lot of really die-hard Episcopalians. I love it!) I did think that at least one of them (probably not the one living in NYC) would make it to the CCBR service with me. It was the last bell choir performance of the year, and I thought I dropped enough hints ("I really think you should come hear me play the bells, considering all the school/sport/band events I attended over the years to watch you"). All I can say is that they missed an amazing performance, the likes of which will never be matched. (At least, it won't be if we start practicing a little earlier in the season.) Since I was the only ringer (hey, it's not my fault that's what we're called) smiling, I managed to garner enough compliments to enable me to forget my children stood me up.

Although I didn't get to have the family egg hunt, I did get to participate in another wonderful Easter tradition. CCBR does a butterfly release every year. It was beautiful! And then I remembered to pull out my camera. Sigh. Luckily one of my favorite kids agreed to model for me. (Don't you love her nail polish?) 

I didn't get a picture of the butterfly actually flying away. We coaxed prodded, but the butterfly just sat in the envelope. I finally turned to see if anyone had any ideas on how to get it out of the envelope, and the darn thing took off as soon as my back was turned.

Despite the lack of pictures, chocolate, children and plastic eggs, it was still a pretty nice day. After all...

Alleluia, Christ is risen.He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Pinned to the Internet

It might seem like it, but I'm not spending all of my time on Pinterest. I had a mini Glee marathon this afternoon. And I uploaded a bunch of podcasts to listen to on my commute to and from work this week.

I also knit this adorable bunny rabbit, using a pattern I found online -- thanks to Pinterest! I couldn't believe how quickly it knit up. I spent less than an hour on it, using some Caron Dazzleaire yarn I had in my stash, and that includes the finishing. Of course, I did modify the pattern to knit the body in the round (eliminating the seaming up the back) and I knit i-cords for the arms and legs (again, eliminating the seaming). I love how easily this pattern can be adapted to make different animals and people.

The pan behind my bunny is a Sopapilla Cheesecake. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and decided it would be perfect for Easter brunch. Although when I'll have time for brunch, I'm not sure. There's 6:30 am service at my church, followed by a trip south to Boca for 9:00 am bell rehearsal and 10 am service. After that I'm heading north to mom's for Easter dinner. I think I'll have to take a slice with me to eat in the car.

That is, if I don't eat it as a late night snack.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Java Circus Monkeys

I stopped at Barnes and Noble after work today, and spent an hour reading Night Circus. I had borrowed the book from the library, but didn't get it finished before the due date. Unfortunately, there were holds on that book, which meant I couldn't renew it. Rather than put my name on the waiting list, I decided to spend an hour reading it at B&N. This turned out to be a great idea. I was able to read uninterrupted, without feeling like I should go wash the dishes first.

I found a new favorite drink, too. It's a Java Chip affogato style. Affogato means that they add a shot of expresso on top of the frappacino before adding the whipped cream. It makes all the difference in the world.

So between the book, the drink, and the Monkeys I'm knitting out of Koigu (my favorite sock pattern with my favorite yarn), it was a marvelous afternoon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I could be a bit obsessed. Again.

I was so excited to have the internet readily available again. I would be able to do research, keep in touch with friends and family, post regularly, and generally live my life for the good once again. Or so I told myself. The truth was, I knew I would quickly find myself obsessively logged on. I thought it would be facebook, where I would post frequent status updates, each one more annoyingly stupid than the previous one. (I can't help it. I really like clever status statements, but I am really bad at coming up with something original.) Perhaps instead I would become a chatty-cathy on the Ravelry boards.

Instead, I found pinterest. I really love pinterest. It's the best (prettiest, funniest, weirdest) of the web, pictured in one location. I can, and already have, spend hours looking at all the great stuff people have found online. And anything that takes my fancy can be claimed and pinned to my own boards for others to admire.

It's not a total waste of  time. I did find a really amazing recipe for broccoli.

I've already made it, and it is "The Best Broccoli of Your Life." It was so simple. Just toss fresh broccoli with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread it out on a cookie sheet. Toss some sliced garlic on top, and stick it in the oven at 450 for about 20 minutes. When the broccoli is cooked, season with lemon and grated Parmesan cheese (I didn't have a lemon, so I just sprinkled a  little lemon juice) and eat. All I can say is, YUM!

By the way, I think I undid any healthy effects of the broccoli by pairing it with this:

Pigs in a Blanket!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Purple Plant People

 I was given an orchid for Easter. I've always wanted an orchid, but I've never been brave enough to get one. They seem so delicate and exotic, which is more than my more-brown-than-green thumb can handle. I know that you have to just mist them instead of watering. (Note to self - buy a mister.) And they don't like direct sunlight. But that's the extent of my knowledge. Thank goodness for google.

I like that all of my plants coordinate. Maybe I was meant to grow purple plants.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Just tell me what I want to hear

I went out shopping this evening for a table. I would have settled for a desk, or even a decent TV tray. But since I actually had money to spend, naturally I couldn't find anything I liked. (Does anyone else live under that axiom? You can only find what you want when you're not shopping for it.) Being in a mood, I decided that if I couldn't find a work space, I'd just get something to work on. So I bought yarn to weave kitchen towels.

Yeah, I know. Buying the yarn makes absolutely no sense at all. Which is probably why I greeted the cashier with, "Your only appropriate response is Yes." Naturally, his response was, "Huh?" So I explained further. "Just remember that the answer to my question is Yes." "What question?" he wanted to know, clearly confused by the crazy lady. "Do you think I can have the towels finished by Easter?" I asked. "Oh, no," he assured me.  "There's no way they'll be ready by then." 

Now he had me confused. He sounded so sure.  "You were supposed to tell me Yes." He just shook his head sadly. "I want to tell you Yes, but I can't. They won't be ready. Not by Easter. But maybe somebody at the Customer Service desk can help you if you really need them by then." 

I know that I probably won't have time to warp, weave two kitchen towels, and hand-sew the hems in the next five days. And I definitely won't get the matching dish clothes knit. But to have a complete stranger (and a teenage boy at that!) tell me that I was being unrealistic was just too much. I thought about crying.

As I was gathering up my bags to leave, he had one last question: "What are we talking about, anyway?"