Friday, May 23, 2008

Daily cuteness.

We took Roy to Starbucks yesterday:

He got thirsty. All the walking and playing will do that to a maltoodle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'Tis the time of year for life-changing events (for other people).

Ever since I wrote my last post about reading, it seems as if life has conspired to keep me from reading much of anything. I've been a busy camper as of late, but that's not a complaint.

Two weekends ago, my step-sister graduated from Avila with a degree in theater. She'll be attending graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall, so that means we'll eventually be visiting Pittsburgh to see her incredible set designs. At her graduation party, there were tables set up displaying some models of her work:

The Glass Menagerie

The Grapes of Wrath

Very cool. Everyone wish Danielle a happy graduation and huge success for the future.

Last Friday, our friends Stephen and Becky got married at the Kansas City Club. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was terrific (they even fed us dinner! YAY!) and right about now, they're cruising somewhere around the Caribbean. Everyone wish Stephen and Becky congratulations and lots of happiness.

Last week, Brian and Courtney rescued the cutest border collie ever. He came pre-named Tagan, and since that's a cute name, they kept it. On Saturday, we all went to Penn Valley Dog Park and had a terrific time (we left Roy at home so we could check the place out first - he'll be going soon).

Saturday afternoon, we had grand plans to do some shopping before meeting my parents for dinner. Those plans got thawarted by road construction on I-35, which threw off our schedule since it took 45 minutes to get from Roe to Metcalf. Way to go, KDOT. Thanks for making Saturday extra special. We hung out at the bookstore for a few (I did get to read for a short while) and then headed off to dinner.

Afterwards, it was off to Zona Rosa to see one of my all-time favorite comedians, Dave Attell. Surprising fact: the crowd was significantly older than I expected it to be. I mean, like, bingo hall old. It was really, really weird. But the show was hilarous and crude - in other words, a great Dave Attell show.

Sunday, I went up to Bethany, Missouri and had breakfast with my dad, sister and her new boyfriend. Good times were had by all, and I liked the boyfriend.

Sunday evening we took Roy over to Tagan's. Now that was fun. Tagan tried to herd Roy like a sheep, while Roy tried to defend sections of the yard as if they were his own. At one point, both dogs climbed into a baby pool and just chilled out.

Monday evening was the same thing, except that Courtney cooked an incredible (as usual) dinner of orange roughy foil packets with home-grown asparagus, tomatoes and tomato pesto. There was also brown rice, the best fruit salad in the world, and lots of wine. We didn't leave until after 11pm. I can't remember the last time I willingly stayed up until 11 on a Monday night. We had a blast, and I have the mosquito bites to prove it.

Last night, we cooked sesame chicken and then went to visit Brian and Tagan for a few before heading to the nephew's baseball game. It was a great game - we won huge, Nate made an incredible catch involving him jumping about 2 feet straight off the ground before hurling the ball to second base for the out, and one of the kids, Vince, hit a grand slam to finish off the game. Good times, indeed.

I have to say, I like being busy - there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Choices are a good thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

They all look the same to me.

I can't play piano because all sheet music looks like this.

Well read.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to reading, I go through phases wherein I either read everything I can get my hands on, or practically nothing at all. A few years ago, I was in the "read everything" phase, and discovered some books that become all-time favorites. Books like A Confederacy of Dunces, The Known World, The Life of Pi, Atonement, Middlesex, The Corrections, and everything by Jane Austen (especially Sense and Sensibility), Then, for whatever reason, I stopped reading anything other than the occasional magazine or article discovered online.

My reading picked up a bit last summer - Cormac McCarthy's The Road was incredible, Everyman was enlightening in it's way, and Gilead felt like a Fourth of July Iowa picnic. But once the holidays came around and other interests grabbed ahold of me, reading fell again to the wayside.

Lately, I feel my phase is shifting back into reader mode. A friend recommended Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth to me a couple of months ago, and it kick-started my dormant need for literary stimulation. The novel itself is over a thousand pages long, and I think that's partially what helped get me going - if I could read this, after so long a break, I could read just about anything I damn well pleased. Once I started reading the story of 12th century people with dreams of building a cathedral, I didn't want to put it down. Some parts were a bit melodramatic, and I wouldn't give it any awards or anything, but all and all, it was a good, fun, interesting read that I'd recommend to anyone who likes historical fiction mixed with soap opera.

I followed that one up with Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ah, now this was a book. You know how there are lines in some books that make you want to grab a pen and underline them because they are so great, or meaningful, or poetic, or just plain good? Nearly every line in this book was like that for me. It was like reading poetry in novel form. On top of that, the story was beautiful, the characters were both real and fantastic, and - the mark of all truly great books for me - I was sad to have to leave the characters when it was over.

But leave them I must, and have since turned my attention to March by Geraldine Brooks. Confession time: I honestly can't remember if I read Little Women, or if I just saw the movie. I have the book, I know the story and the characters, but Winona Ryder and Claire Danes keep seeping into my brain. Anyway, this one is the story of Mr. March, the absent father from Alcott's original tale, and of his struggles as an abolitionist, chaplain, and vegetarian in an age where everything is coated in bacon grease. I'm almost finished with it, and so far, it's very enjoyable.

So - I'm back in reading mode, and have been fortuitous enough to come across a list of 1001 (fiction) Books That You Must Read Before You Die. To accompany it, I've discovered the 1% Well-Read Challenge, the goal of which is to read 10 books in 10 months from the list. Here's what' I've read from the list thus far:

  • The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

  • Atonement by Ian McEwan

  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  • The Cider House Rules by John Irving

  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

  • interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Keesey

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens

  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

  • Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

  • Emma by Jane Austen

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

  • The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano

  • Candide by Voltaire

  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

  • Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Wow - I've read more of them than I thought.

I should finish March tonight, and when I do, I'll start on another one from the list. Decisions, decisions...

P.S. I'm including Little Women in my list because I'm more than 50% sure I actually read it.

P.P.S. I'm sad to see that my all-time favorite stories from childhood aren't on this list: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeon Burnett and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Those are so worth reading.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday feast: My stepsister is graduating from college with honors tomorrow edition

When someone smiles at you, do you smile back?

For the most part, although sometimes, if it's one of those really creepy kind of smiles, I don't. I read something a while back that the longer you smile at a man, the more likely they are to think you want to have sex with them. The more they want sex, the more likely they are to interpret a split-second smile as a desire to have sex with them. So there are some people I know who I explicitly try not to smile at.

Describe the flooring in your home.  Do you have carpet, hardwood, vinyl, a mix?

We have carpet in most rooms, although there is vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, and laminate flooring in our family room. I want the next house I live in to have hardwoods throughout. That way, when my cats throw up, I don't have to sweat it.

Write a sentence with only 5 words, but all of the words have to start with the first letter of your first name.

Listen, lithe little lovers: linger.

Main Course
Do you know anyone whose life has been touched by adoption?

Yes. Many people. In many good ways.

Name 2 blue things.

Okay - I'll name my right eye Josephine and my left eye Marguerite.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday's Feast - post squall edition.

What was your favorite cartoon when you were a child?

I loved Disney cartoons (still do). When I was a kid, the Disney Channel was brand new, and the programming was all old school, classic Disney stuff. Lots of Silly Symphonies, Wonderful World of Disney, the Original Mickey Mouse Club - that sort of stuff. I especially loved anything from Make Mine Music, like Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet, performed by the Andrews Sisters:

I also love this one - Susie the Little Blue Coupe:

I wish Disney would start a Disney Classic channel that would show all the stuff I grew up with (which was the stuff my parents grew up with). I think there's great value that programming. It was simple, sweet, creative, silly, moving and nice. We need more nice in the world. I didn't feel like the shows were talking down to me, or trying to sway me one way or another - they were just entertaining.

Pretend you are about to get a new pet.  Which animal would you pick, and what would you name it?

Realistically, I'd get a Ragdoll kitten, and name him either Fergus or Kong. In my dream world, I'd get a tiger cub and name him Mr. Twinkles.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy getting all dressed up for a special occasion?

This is a tough one. Dressing up for a special occasion gets an 8. Shopping for special occasion clothing gets a 2.

Main Course
What kind of music do you listen to while you drive?

Mostly, I listen to NPR. When I listen to music, I fluctuate between 90.9 The Bridge, and 96.5 The Buzz. I listen to CDs a lot, too - Ben Folds is in heavy rotation right now, along with some random mixes of stuff.

When was the last time you bought a clock?  And in which room did you put it?

I bought a new alarm clock about two months ago - the old one was a pain in the ass to set. I put it in the bedroom on the nightstand.

I'll huff, and I'll puff...

Last evening, Mr. Awesome and I went to the bookstore after dinner. I'm almost finished with Love in the Time of Cholera (I'll probably finish it tonight), and as we were leaving around 7:15pm, it was just starting to rain. Across the sky to the west was the full arch of a rainbow. It was just beautiful.

The rain continued as we headed home, and by the time we pulled into our garage, the rainbow was gone, replaced by thick, black, fast-moving clouds. We turned on the television to find non-stop weather porn. Every local channel was a hodgepodge of maps and colored blobs and icons and weather people trying not to spooge in their shorts at the chance to outdo each other. We cycled through them all, except for channel 5 because I'll be damned if I'm ever gonna watch Katie Horner beg me to get in my basement again. That, and the announcer voice that channel 5 has now is so ridiculously sensational and fear-mongering that I refuse to be a party to it. Take that, channel 5. Who's afraid now?

So we watched a DVR'd Family Guy, and some music videos, and finally someone at KSHB got smart and started 30 Rock. Oh yeah, I was one happy camper - until, at a climatic moment, Tine Fey was replaced by Gary Lezak and his enormous shoulders and I was happy no more. We flipped around for a while, then went to bed.

Mr. Awesome woke me up at about 1:40am and the wind was really, really loud. We were asking each other if it sounded like a train, since that's what those in the know say a tornado sounds like, but we came to the conclusion that even though it was loud, it wasn't freight train loud, so we were probably okay. I went into the bathroom, still half-asleep, and could feel the wall of our house sort of shaking. The wind was so loud and I was so half-asleepy, that I didn't hear Mr. Awesome tell me he was coming into the bathroom, and as I walked out, I slammed right into him and for a second I thought my eyeball popped out. Then I thought I might have a black eye, but I woke up enough to take a look in the mirror and all was well with me.

We zombie-walked out to the kitchen and turned on the tv to find more weather porn, only this time it was justified. The storm was almost past us, and after about 5 minutes, we went back to bed as the wind died down a bit.

We woke up this morning to find that we still have a house and trees. Our only damage is some broken knickknacks on our deck that got tossed around, and the mess left by the explosion of a Rubbermaid chest on our patio that held some garden stuff. The rest of our neighborhood faired similarly - quite the contrast to 2003 when our neighborhood suffered some heavy damage, and the neighborhood two blocks down the road was nearly demolished.

Some other neighborhoods and businesses in my neck of the woods didn't fare so well - I'm sending good thoughts their way. Sometimes, the weather just sucks around here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Siren Song by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.