Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Candlelight

 To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
A surprise storm went through yesterday afternoon. It blew down power lines and we of course were affected. We have been without power about 16 hours now. We are always unprepared. The flashlights didn't have batteries. We have only a motley collection of pillar candles which don't give off much light. earl lit a lantern for the front porch. If the power stays out, we may have to dig up the kerosene lamps. Here's what it looked like at my house last night.
Here's the flickering light in the bathroom.

Here's a shot from the dining room through the living room and onto the front porch.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Reluctant Tuscan -- Review

I love featuring a book on my blog and hearing from the author. That's what happened a few weeks ago when I included The Reluctant Tuscan on my First Paragraph, Teaser Tuesday blog. The author, Phil Doran, sent me an email. I had commented that I liked the cover of The Reluctant Tuscan because it reminded me of A Year in Provence and he confirmed that the same artist had created both covers. He also said that John Travolta and Kelly Preston optioned the movie rights to his book, so a movie of The Reluctant Tuscan may be on its way. It's always fun to get the inside scoop from an author.
I finished reading The Reluctant Tuscan and truly enjoyed it. My husband is reading it now. Of course, we have a not-so-secret dream of moving to France once the kids are all out of the house, so we consider the book more of a how-to guide than simply a memoir from someone who made the leap.
The book is written with a lot of humor and insight into the upheaval that comes with embracing a new culture. Doran is a Hollywood writer hesitant to admit that younger writers are getting more bites than he is. Doran's wife sees Hollywood tearing him apart and buys a decrepit house in Tuscany, hoping to convince him to move there and begin enjoying life.
Sometimes I get frustrated at the scenarios that allow people to live their lives in other continents, not worried about jobs and health insurance and raising children, but Doran has no qualms about admitting the financial limitations and his attempts to sell his writing while in Italy. Even while learning that life in Italy is more about living than making a living, Doran nurses some hopes that he can make it big as a writer in Hollywood. He gives some interesting insights into that world as well.
The book made me laugh a lot. The couple rented a house where the heat didn't work so they wore layers of clothing. Then when the heat was turned on, you guessed it, a heat wave came in and they walked around sweating. Things like that are harder to get fixed when dealing with a foreign language and foreign culture.
As a straightforward American, I find it hard to believe that so much finagling goes on while trying to get roads built and houses remodeled. At one point, while trying to hide the fact that their old ruin of a house might be covering a more historic shell built by the Etruscans, they invoke the Sopranos as New York relatives to intimidate the builder. I can't imagine being that ballsy.
Mostly though, I enjoyed getting to feel the culture that surrounded Doran as he slowly unwound from the importance of being a success to the importance of enjoying life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fake Injuries in European Soccer

For the past few weeks, I've spent some of my afternoon watching the European Football tournament. That's soccer to us Americans. Teams from various countries play for the championship. This week the competition was down to Spain versus Portugal and Italy versus Germany.
My friends know that I love sports and I'm pretty competitive, so I revel in a good sports tournament, especially when country honor is at stake.
Watching European soccer has been an eye opener. I generally root for the underdog.
Here's a photo from Zimbio
As I watch, I am astonished by the number of players who fake injuries and lie on the field, rolled into a ball, even as play continues around them. Now, I've seen my fair share of NBA (basketball) stars take flops when guarding the basket, but to stay on the ground when they aren't actually hurt is unthinkable. Don't they know their team needs them?
The replays generally show that the player either was not touched or received only a glancing blow. The players are hoping that the referee will take pity and give the other play a yellow card, which is a warning. This is a sport that could really use an instant replay clause. That would get those guys to stop faking injuries.
While watching players from Greece, the Czech Republic, Ireland, England, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, along with the countries still in the tournament, I have come up with a theory. The farther south the country, the closer to the Mediterranean, the more likely the players were to flop on the field and feign an injury. I hate to speak ill of the players from these countries I love, but I think they have a knack for melodrama.
Some of them will lie on the field so long that the team brings out a stretcher and four strong guys to carry the hurt player off the field. This reminds me of the scene from Florence in  A Room With A View where the Italians get in a fight and one of the guys is killed by a knife. The other men in the piazza pick up the dead guy and carry him to the nearest fountain to wash him off. They carry him just like the guys from the soccer field.
 
Here's a picture of Ronaldo, not on the soccer field,
 but in an ad for Armani, I think.
This photo is from this website.
 In soccer though, inevitably, the hurt guy hops off the stretcher on the sidelines and goes back in the game within minutes. Why? Because he wasn't really hurt.
The biggest offender I saw in the faking injury field was Ronaldo who plays for Portugal when he isn't being paid a lot of money to play for Real Madrid or one of those teams. Ronaldo fell to the soccer field whenever another player breezed by him. And because Ronaldo is famous, the player on the other team often got a yellow card and a warning not to be so rough. Time and again, I saw Ronaldo sink to the green grass writhing in pain. In the end, Portugal lost to Spain, in spite of Ronaldo's excellent acting skills. I don't want to discount Ronaldo's other talents though, as you can see from the photo of him.
As I watched the soccer players lying on the ground, I imagined what it would be like to put them on the field with NFL players. Football players get up even when they are gravely injured. They hobble off the field with torn ligaments and concussions and broken bones. I'm not condoning the brutality that happens in the NFL, but I think the soccer players could stop faking injuries and start acting a little tougher.
The least they could do is save the dramatics for an actual injury.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Dolci di Love


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This is kind of cheating because I finished the book already, but I enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you.
Dolci di Love by Sarah-Kate Lynch (was there ever a less Italian-sounding name?) is about a woman who lives in Manahattan and discovers that her husband has another family hidden in Tuscany. So she travels there and her life changes in some surprising ways. Here's the intro.

Daniel's other woman and two bright-eyed beautiful children were sitting under the insole of his left golf shoe when Lily first found them. They were laminated.

 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's a teaser from Dolci di Love on page 49:

It was the babies' fault. Those smiling, pink-cheeked, plump, sweet-smelling babies with whom she had never been blessed. Their absence had just sapped the pant-peeing happiness right out of her. That's where the laughter had gone.
I enjoyed this book a lot as a summer read, even though it deals with relationships, aging, parenting, disappointment, lots of important issue. I mean, it was set in Tuscany, so what was not to like.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Independent Drivers

Today, my youngest got his driver's license. So that's it. Five licensed drivers in the house, counting me and my husband, and only 2 cars.
But two of them (kids, not cars) will be off to college in the fall so we'll be back to 3 drivers at home.
The good news is, I have one more person to send out to buy milk when I'm too lazy to go

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- 22nd Anniversary

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

It's not that I forgot it was my anniversary when I posted my earlier previous Saturday Snapshot below, I just didn't think about posting photos from my wedding 22 years ago.  The photos aren't the best, because I simply took a picture with my iPhone to post it here. But I think you'll get the drift.
Earl and I were married at my parents' blueberry farm in the Daniel Boone Forest in Kentucky. They lived in a log cabin and we were married in front of a creek that ran past there. The Tiger lilies were in bloom and the day was perfect.
This is me with my mom on the left and my mother-in-law on the right getting dressed in one of the loft bedrooms.

My dad walks me down the porch steps to Earl
The First Kiss
And here's the wedding party, Tracey, my best friend from high school, the priest, Erin, Earl's niece, me, Earl and Earl's brother Art. Small, but just right.

Saturday Snapshot -- Breakfast on the Go

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
After my run this morning, I visited Trader Joe's to stock up on milk, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. I like visiting Trader Joe's early on Saturday mornings because it isn't as busy. I also like that it gives me a sampler breakfast.
This morning, slices of baguette with butter and boysenberry jam. Yum.

Then I moved a foot to the left and poured myself a shot of coffee with a little cream. This tiny cup of coffee was perfect to get me through my shopping trip until I could get home and find a regular-sized cup of coffee.


The photos aren't too creative, but they were tasty.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Competing With Myself

This morning, I discovered something new on my phone, and it can only mean trouble.
I signed onto iMapMyRun, an app that keeps track of my route when I run.
But, wait, that's not all. It also keeps track of my speed.
I really wish I hadn't seen that. Now I'm going to be compulsive about running faster times and trying to beat my previous times.
I learned a valuable lesson when I pushed the start button on my route as I walked out the door. That's right, I walked out the door instead of running, which slowed down my overall time. I usually walk the first two-tenths of a mile to the corner before I start running. When I saw my overall time, I was again cursing myself. That was throwing off my cumulative time.
For my next run, I'd give up the mileage and not start the route until I was ready to run.
It started to rain about a mile into my run, so I turned around (I have to protect my iPhone from the rain). I pushed the button to end my "route" as soon as I started walking so it wouldn't reduce my overall speed. Then when I pushed to finish, the app asked me if I wanted to post my run, make it public.
No, I can't imagine who I would want to share this with.
That's when the app flashed at me to start adding friends. What friends would I have who wanted to keep track of my runs and my speed? Unless they were simply planning to compete with me? Is that where we're going?
I get enough pressure competing with myself.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Evening

For my friend who sat through her 8-year-old's soccer tryouts, these days will come.
Sitting on the hammock with a book set in Italy. A warm breeze blows my hair across my face. The tweets of birds are my social media. The lowering sun is my backlight for reading.
Ahhh. La dolce vita

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Startling Discovery

Today Grace and I made a quick 6-hour trip to Kentucky to visit my 95-year-old grandmother. She has been living with my aunt for nearly a year now since she had a stroke and got out of rehab. She'd like to live on her own again and I've promised that I'll start looking for someone to take care of her and stay with her at her home an hour farther south than my aunt.  It was nice to see my grandmother and my aunt, plus my parents were visiting from Florida, so lots of good family time. But that wasn't what startled me.
It was the gas prices. As we turned into my aunt's neighborhood, I saw a Speedway sign advertising gas for $3.22.
Before we started our trip, I had just filled up in Columbus for $3.59 and thought that was pretty cheap.
As we were leaving my aunt's, I pulled into the Speedway and found gas was even 1 cent cheaper than advertised. I got half a tank of gas for $3.21 a gallon.
Startling in this day and age.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Paragraph, Teaser Tuesday -- The Flight of Gemma Hardy


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This morning I'm starting The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. I'm not sure where I heard about this book. Maybe I saw it on one of the blogs I read. A blurb about the book calls it a modern Jane Eyre. Here's the first paragraph:

We did not go for a walk on the first day of the year. The Christmas snow had melted, and rain had been falling since dawn, darkening the shrubbery and muddying the grass, but that would not have stopped my aunt from dispatching us. She believed in the benefits of fresh air for children in all weather. Later, I understood, she also enjoyed the peace and quiet of our absence. No, the cause of our not walking was my cousin Will, who claimed his cold was too severe to leave the sitting-room sofa, but not so bad that he couldn't play cards. His sister Louise, he insisted, must stay behind for a game of racing demon.

 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's my teaser from page 120:

"Children are so bloody uncompromising," he said quietly. "You think everything's black and white, that I'm on one side and you're on the other, but, Hardy, you're more like me than you know. One day you'll see something you want -- money, or someone else's husband, or a beautiful vase -- and you'll think you'll die if you can't have it. You'll be ready to risk your whole future for a few hours, a few days with whatever it is. When that happens think of me: working out my sentence."

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Would you put it on your TBR list?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Losing Wisdom -- Teeth, that is

Spencer had his wisdom teeth out on Friday.
Our dentist has it down to a science, mixing a concoction of steroids and ibuprofen for the swelling, antibiotics to ward off infection, Vicodin for the pain and a handful of feel-happy pills to relax his patients before they arrive.
Spencer wasn't very loopy when we went. He sat watching the Disney movie Cars while the dentist surgically removed his bottom wisdom teeth. Then Spencer stumbled out and we drove home. He was fairly talkative around the pieces of gauze stuffed in his mouth. The movie melded with reality and he felt like he was in the movie, he explained. He also thought he must be seeing double cause he thought there were four people working on him.
"Could have been," I said.
"What about there?" he asked. "Is that one motorcycle in front of us or two?"
"Just one," I told him.
"Is that girl walking two dogs or one?" he asked.
"One dog," I replied.
Then I looked over and saw him repeatedly punching himself in the jaw.
"What are you doing?" I asked pulling his fist away.
"I can't feel anything," he said.
"Well, you'll feel it later," I warned.
Having wisdom teeth out around the age of 18 seems like a normal teenage ritual. It reminded me of my teen years when David, the boy up the street, had his wisdom teeth out. He was about five years older than me and his little brother was one of my best friends. Like a lot of younger girls though, I had a major crush on the older brother.
David lay on the couch in the family room, his cheeks swollen with gauze, wiping drool and blood from the sides of his mouth, and he had a captive audience in me.
He had seen the movie Alien the night before and he described the movie in great detail. I'm pretty sure his description of the movie was longer than the actual movie.
I hung on his every word and counted it one of the highlights of my summer, earning the one-on-one attention of that older high school boy
And that was my first encounter with someone under the influence of whatever drugs they used back then to take out wisdom teeth. After that, whenever someone was having their wisdom teeth out, we'd plan to gather wherever they were recovering so we could hear them talk, and make fun of them later.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Sleeping Beauties

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Grace is working two jobs this summer, so she's frequently exhausted. The cat, well, he doesn't need a reason to sleep.

Hope your summer is going well.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Expensive Soap

When Grace came back from France in December, she brought an array of delicately scented soaps that she bought for 1 Euro each in the market in Aix en Provence.
We cherished each one. The olive oil soap bathing our dry winter skin. The lemon verbena with its sharp scent waking us in the mornings. The lavender soap soothing us with its calming fragrance. Those soaps are long gone now, so while walking through Trader Joe's, I stopped at the soap section and debated. The oatmeal soap was inexpensive. So was the honey soap, but I was lured in by the blue soap with bits of lavender added. $3.99 seemed a little pricey for 1 bar of soap, but I figured it was cheaper than a flight to France and visit to the market in Provence. So I bought it.

I did not anticipate the complaints from the men in my house. Little pieces of lavender left in the bathtub or that they needed to rinse off their bodies afterward apparently annoyed them. One of them even called the soap, "Hairy." So I stopped buying the lavender soap and switched to the honey or oatmeal.
Then Grace and I were at Trader Joe's yesterday, looking at soaps again. I looked longingly at the lavender soap, even picking it up to read the label "Bisous de Provence" which means kisses from Provence. Then I reluctantly replaced it on the shelf.
"I love that soap," I said.
"Me too," Grace said.
"Wait, I thought you hated it."
"No, that's just Dad and the boys. I say we get it and let them deal with it."
And we did. Now my morning shower involves the sweet scent of lavender, and an extra rinse at the end to remove the hairiness.
It's one way to bring a little of southern France to my life everyday -- without the expensive flight.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Paragraph, Teaser Tuesday -- The Reluctant Tuscan


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
While perusing the shelves of travel narratives, I found this book The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran. The cover looks similar to the cover of A Year in Provence, which is a book I loved. Here's the first paragraph of The Reluctant Tuscan.

I had a machete in my hand and I was thinking about using it on Henry David Thoreau. You know, that guy they made you read in school who popularized the notion that we should find solace in nature. Maybe I was doing this all wrong, but I had been hacking my way through nature all morning and all I had to show for it were blisters, sweat, and a shooting pain up my arm. I didn't think I was having a heart attack, but if I were, it would have been more amusing than dealing with a hill covered in underbrush so thick it made this little corner of Tuscany look like a Brazilian rain forest.


 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 124:

There are things I'll always miss about the States, but I can say with reasonable certainty that when I return to L.A. after a long absence, and walk into Sav-On Drugs, the employees will not drop everything and rush over to me with hugs and double-cheeked kisses. Yet, this was precisely what happened when I returned from Hollywood and walked into Gilberto's Farmacia. And I had only been gone three weeks.
What do you think?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brit Lit

Today is the first day of a mini-break that I have from teaching. It's a whole week off from one of my colleges -- except for preparing for my next round of classes that start next week.
And, I'm still teaching at the other college.
So, it's not time off, but it's as close as I'm likely to get until Christmas.
I'm taking advantage by diving into some escapist reading. I don't think anyone does escapist reading as well as the Brits.
Sometimes I think I should try my luck in the British market because I share a sense of humor with these authors. My main characters are plucky, often humorous, and bumbling through life while handling deep subjects.
My favorite Brit lit author is Marian Keyes. I love her writing, her characters, her plots. Unfortunately, it has been awhile since I've seen any new books for her. This was the last one I saw released.
Another favorite Brit lit author  is Jill Mansell, although she's a little closer to chick lit with her unmarried characters often figuring out relationships.  I love the settings and her characters are always stumbling into trouble. She's also a prolific writing, so she had a new book come out this spring and another one is scheduled for fall. The one from this spring was a fun read, juggling lots of plots and subplots. Nadia Knows Best is the title, and, in my opinion, the weakest thing about the book was the title.
Just today I finished a book by another Brit lit author, Carole Matthews. I've read other books by her and enjoyed them, like The Chocolate Lover's Club. The book I finished today was With or Without You and it featured "trekking" in Nepal. It kind of made me want to try it, even if I wouldn't have an affair with the trek guide. I enjoyed the book overall, but I felt like it was a little preachy about abortion. Maybe we Americans are more sensitive to the topic since women's reproductive rights are always on the chopping block here in the States. In the book, one character can't get pregnant because of an abortion she had in her early 20s. Since the character is only 34, that meant she had to have had the abortion during the 90s, when medical practices were well established. As long as she had a legal abortion, the odds of it messing up her future reproductive abilities were small, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Another character in the book had an abortion (she was the bad girl) and she told the father she had DNA testing and it was his baby, and that the baby was a girl. I find it hard to believe they'd do DNA testing on a fetus to see who the father was. I think it was just added as an antiabortion message.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro-abortion. I dont know anyone who is. I am thankful I never had to make a choice like that, and I work hard to make sure those I love don't put themselves in that position either. Good birth control use can help prevent the abortion dilemma. I just don't want to be preached to about it in a novel.
But the abortion sections were fairly small and didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the book and the characters. I'll have to pay attention to Matthews' books in the future to see if they have preachy issues or not.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Risque Pasta

I'm always on the lookout for a new pasta shape. Those Italians, or those marketers, whoever come up with the different shapes, intrigue me.
I found a bag I'd never seen before at Trader Joe's. The pasta was called orecchiette. I've heard this pasta advertised at The Olive Garden and they say something like or-uh-k-etty. The word, I guess, means ear and I could see these as little ear shaped pasta, until I cooked them.
The little cup shaped pastas stacked up and stuck together to form long columns. And from the top, they looked like circumcised penises.
From the side, they still looked like the top of circumcised penises.

When I was searching for pasta to make pasta salad for the graduation party, Trader Joe's was out of the farfalle I wanted to buy. The woman at the register suggested I try the orecchiette.
"Oh, no," I said. "I've tried those before."
When I told her my opinion on the shape, she just laughed and suggested I had too many boys in my life.
Now that's a true statement.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Little Flirt

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
This week, baby Caroline came to visit while her mom, our niece, went to a wedding shower. Only Caroline isn't a baby any more. She's 2 1/2. We started to walk to the park when we saw Max, the 3-year old neighbor, outside. We stopped to play with him. When it was time to go, she refused to let him hug her.

She had no problems accepting hugs from his 12 year old brother though.


Look at that look on her face. She is so flirting with him. Already playing guys against each other. Poor little Max just wanted a hug.




Friday, June 08, 2012

Still a Kid


I love it when my allegedly mature children become old enough to act like kids again. Spence, 18, proved his ability to embrace his childish nature when we went to the dentist recently. We've been going to the same dentist, a friend from church, for at least 10 years.
Spence and I had our teeth cleaning at the same time. I usually hang out in the room while the dentist does his exam and proclaims that everything looks good. This time, the dentist explained the steps to take out Spencer's wisdom teeth.
Then the hygienist said to Spence, "Want something from the prize drawer?"
The prize drawer was always a big hit when the kids were young. They pull open the drawer and find small toys they could take home.
"Got any bouncy balls?" Spencer asked. And he loped his 6-foot, 4-inch frame into the room with the prizes. He came out with a multi-colored rubber ball and this little telescope.
When you hold the telescope up to your eye and look through it, it provides a fly's eyeview, reflecting things 10 or 12 times in a circle around the edge.
We walked in the door at home and Spencer laid his prizes on the counter.
"Hey, what's this?" Tucker asked.
"I got it from the prize drawer," Spencer said.
"Why don't I ever get to choose from the prize drawer," Tucker, 16, asked.
"Yeah," Grace, 20, chimed in.
So I guess maybe they're all old enough now to act like kids again.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Mistakes

Have you ever made mistakes that haunt you?
Yesterday at the library, I saw a little girl who reminded me of a big mistake I made.
I was walking down the stairs at the library. The stairs are open to the main floor all the way down. I was on the third floor and as I reached the second floor, a little girl came marching up the stairs. She had blond shoulder-length hair, a pink sun dress and pink flipflops that flapped against her feet as she took the stairs. I smiled. She seemed determined and confident. The girl was probably 5. I expected to see her mother walking up the stairs behind her, maybe lugging a younger sibling. But the girl turned toward the 3rd floor and continued on up the stairs alone.
I didn't say anything, like "Where's your mom?" And our downtown library is not the kind of place where kids should go exploring on their own. Some shady characters take refuge in the library during the day. But the girl really looked like she knew what she was doing.
That's when I remembered that time long ago when I didn't intervene with another little blonde girl.
We were living in Michigan and had probably been friends with Sarah's family for about six months. Sarah's mom Patricia was from Arkansas. She had an adorable southern accent and that haunting ability to make every person she met feel special. In addition to her daughter Sarah, who was 5 like Grace, Patricia had a son who was a few years older. Patricia made fun of how overprotective I was. She scoffed at the booster seat I still made Grace use in the car. (In Michigan at that time, the carseat laws only required a carseat up to age one.)
We were at Shakespeare in the park, and the green, grassy hill was covered with families watching the play below. Some of the kids climbed to an open gazebo at the top of the hill. I went to check on them. There were several little kids, like Grace and Sarah, along with an older boy. Sarah was sitting on a low wall swinging her legs and she introduced me to the older boy. I don't remember the boy's name now, but I said hello to him and asked Sarah how she knew him.
"He's my friend," Sarah said.  I wasn't clear whether he was a boy she knew already or had just met him. I sent Grace down the hill and considered whether to make Sarah come down too.
I remember feeling torn. Patricia thought I was too overprotective already. Would she simply roll her eyes and allow Sarah to traipse back up the hill? I decided to walk back and tell Patricia then let her decide. I looked at the boy, figuring he wouldn't do anything stupid knowing an adult was aware of him.
Then I started back down the hill, making a beeline for Patricia.
That's when I saw Spencer and another boy throwing acorns at each other. I stopped to redirect them. It didn't take more than a few minutes to talk to the boys, but during that pause Sarah ran past me sobbing, straight to Patricia's blanket.
"Oh, no."
I went running over to the blanket. 
"There was a boy," I gasped as Sarah sobbed and hid her face against her mother.
As we pieced the story together, I remember Patricia's eyes piercing me as she said, "You sent your daughter down and you left mine?"
And, I had. I didn't think about it as a sacrifice of her, but I had protected Grace. Grace wasn't the type of kid who would have allowed a stranger to get close anyway, but Sarah was an open, welcoming child. She didn't know a stranger.
Sarah had sat on the boy's lap and he clapped a hand over her mouth then put his other hand in her panties. I don't know how Sarah got away.
Our husbands went searching for the boy but couldn't find him. Patricia took Sarah to the hospital for an examination and the police asked lots of questions.
As the adult who had seen the boy, I answered police questions and tried to come up with a photo sketch. A year or so later, as we were getting ready to move to Ohio, the police came by again with a number of photos. The boy's photo I identified was already in custody.
But little blonde girls, like the one at the library will always remind me of the time I didn't protect a little girl.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

First Run

For six weeks now, I haven't run. The doctor diagnosed a stress fracture in the bone stretching just above the "knuckle" of my big toes. You know, the bone that you can feel on the top of your foot.
She said, "We could xray it, but it doesn't always show up on the xray, so we'd treat it the same way. Stay off it."
My version of "stay off it" might be slightly different than her version. I stopped running. But, I didn't stop walking or bike riding and I added P90X to my daily routine. I didn't run though.
I blame my running shoes. My $120 running shoes.
Like a lot of runners in Columbus, I go to a fancy running store to buy shoes. Frontrunner has me carefully fitted. It encourages me to run around the building with the shoes on. If I take them home and run in them for two weeks and they don't work, I can exchange them.
I've always had neutral shoes. That means I don't need any correction -- collapsing inward on my arch or rolling outward on the outside of my foot. This time, the woman convinced me to get a pair of shoes that had "a little" correction. She said I could use it on my left foot, which is probably why I got a stress fracture on my right foot. It didn't need the correction!!
Anyway, I decided to go to Famous Footwear for my new running shoes. I found this pair for $39. I'd rather pay less if a pair of shoes is going to mess up my runs. I had a pair of Ryka shoes long ago for aerobics and liked them. I hope I fall equally in love with these Ryka running shoes.
Yesterday morning, I pulled on my long unused running clothes and laced up my new shoes. Then I stepped outside to the quiet of the morning.
Ahhh. That's probably the part I missed the most.
I walked to the corner as my "warm up" and then I began to jog. It felt weird, like my body had forgotten how.
Was I landing too hard?
Was my heel hitting the ground first?
I worked on modifying my run until it felt more natural, trying to remember to kick up my heels and land on the ball of my foot.
Since it was my first day back and I didn't want to push too hard, I had already decided to run a block then walk a block.
That worked fine until I came to a busy intersection where I should have stopped running and walked. But a couple of other women were walking and cars were around -- I was too proud to stop running. I ran two blocks then walked a block. That was my pattern the rest of the 2.4 mile run/walk.
So, how did it feel?
I loved breathing the early morning crisp air. again and listening to the birds call to each other in the trees overhead.
I didn't love the jiggle.
Do you know what I mean? When I'm running all the time, I don't feel the jiggle, but running for the first time in six weeks, I did.
I had noticed that in spite of my P90X, I felt some extra love handles on the back of my hips just above my butt. And that is the part that jiggled when I ran. When I jiggle, I itch. It drove me crazy not to scratch those jiggly new love handles.
The shoes were fine. The bottoms of my feet felt a little sore. I picked some shoes that are close to "natural" which means they won't give me a lot of padding.
And I had already decided I wouldn't run again today. I am making myself wait a day in between so I don't overdo it.
I'm already itching to get out there again tomorrow, to increase the distance I can run without walking, and to eventually get back to my running friends along the trail.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I'm starting The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski. June, in her early 30s, gives a woman a ride home, they're in a car accident, and the other woman dies. June finds the woman's list of things she wanted to accomplish before her 25th birthday and decides to complete the list for the woman who died. Here's the opening:

Next on the list: Kiss a stranger.

"How about him?" Susan pointed to a guy so rakishly handsome, it was odd to see him in a downtown Los Angeles bar wearing a shirt and tie instead of moedling underwear in front of a camera, where he clearly belonged.



Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 64:

"I loved how you seemed content being who you were. Didn't always have to go running around proving things. Of course, you could have watched less TV. But --"
"You thought I was content?"
"Absolutely. From the day you were born..."

Monday, June 04, 2012

Crazy Working World

Since it's summer, life has to slow down, right? No lunches to pack, no homework to finish.
But this year, for the first time, everyone is working so the work schedules are crazy.
I realized this Sunday as I was grading papers at the kitchen table and I watched Grace leave for work at 2, Tucker leave for work at 4, Earl leave for work at 4:30 and Spencer leave for work at 6. Then they all came home again later.
The kids usually work a 4 or 5-hour shift at their respective jobs. Grace has been a lifeguard since she was 15. She usually prays for rain so she'll get sent home early. This year she has added a second job. She's a barista at a coffee shop that just opened in town. She's hopeful that she'll get enough hours there that she can eventually drop her lifeguard job. She's right. Someone as pale as she is shouldn't sit in the sun six hours a day.
Spencer is still working as a busboy and dishwasher at a local Italian restaurant. He leaves for work looking like a young Frank Sinatra in his black pants, white shirt and skinny black tie. The restaurant was a good job to have throughout the school year because they would limit him to two nights a week so he could get his homework done, and they didn't mind that he couldn't work at all during basketball season. Now though, with college looming, the three nights per week that they schedule him may not be enough. He's checking into a second job that he describes as "moving furniture."
He came home from a grad party yesterday having chatted with an art students about models. She told him he could make up to $400 per hour if he modeled nude. "I may have to look into that," he said.
Okay, he has a very sculpted body, but he can't sit still for 10 minutes, much less an hour. Maybe he should be a model for a photography class instead.
Tucker started his first job this summer and he's working at the pool down the street from us. That means he never has to ask for a ride, which I'm thrilled about. (He's scheduled to take his driver's test at the end of June.)
Tucker spends money like water. We've already been talking about budgeting and deciding how much money he can have to spend each week. He wants to order NetFlix for the Xbox: $10 per month. He needs new headphones:$20 (and since he leaves them laying around where the cats chew on them, we should schedule that cost every month too). Then he needs money for eating at Taco Bell, Wendys, Panera, Noodles, every restaurant within a 5-mile radius. He does not appreciate home cooking. We haven't even talked about taking his girlfriend out on real dates or putting gas in the car once he starts driving.
Tucker's first paycheck comes this week, and I am looking for a summer of not doling out spending money. I hope my kids will be self-sufficient, at least when it comes to money,  through August.
Meanwhile, I'm still working my two teaching jobs, Earl has his full-time job and we start making college payments for two kids this month. It's no wonder dollar signs dance in my head.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Daughter Love

I'm so lucky to have a fabulous daughter and to have her home for the summer. Now, before you turn away in disgust at the sugary sweetness of that statement, let me say that, of course, there are times we don't get along, but I can count on her to be there when I need her.
That's why I dragged her along to two grad parties last night since Earl was at work.
At the party, we ran into one of her friends who doesn't get along with her mother. The mother was there too. In spite of feeling a little awkward, we split up so I could talk with the mom and she could chat with her friend.
I realized my reliance on Grace when I poured a glass of wine and it seeped out a hole in the cup.
It took me a minute to realize that the cup was leaking. Red wine was on the tablecloth and on the paving stones beneath the table, when I looked down and saw a spout of red wine arcing from near the bottom of the cup. I put my finger over the hole and the wine stopped escaping.
"Oh no," I cried. "My cup has a hole in it."
I problem solved for a minute. I could simply put another cup over it or pour the quickly disappearing wine into another cup. But first, I had to show Grace.
"Grace!" I called across the patio, interrupting her conversation with the graduate's dad, "My cup has a hole in it!" and I took my finger away to show her the red arc of wine pouring from my cup. We both laughed and I found another cup.
Everything funny and meaningful in my life, I want to share with Grace.
I hope our relationship stays this way.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Kitten

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

We had a kitten visit us this week. Earl claimed him and the kitten promptly put his chin on Earl's arm and started to fall asleep.
The kitten belongs to Tucker's girlfriend who got him as a graduation gift. I know, who gives a kid a pet for graduation? Parents shouldn't give them more reasons to stay home.
Anyway, the kitten didn't have a name yet and Tucker decided it should be named Kevin. He was calling the kitten KevDawg. I thought that was an awful name for a kitten, but apparently it stuck.
Now I told him he has stay in the relationship with his girlfriend forever since he named her kitten; otherwise, she'll think of him every time she calls the kitten Kevin, or KevDawg.
Maybe she should have gone with her original idea and called it Mango.  

Dreaming of France -- Cats in France

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us yo...