Wednesday, October 20, 2010

W.W.W. Wednesday

MizB of Should Be Reading sponsors WWW Wednesdays.  I doubt I will participate in this one as often since my reading doesn’t change all that much from week to week lately.  However, I’ll enjoy participating when my reading selections do change.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

* What are you currently reading?
* What did you recently finish reading?
* What do you think you’ll read next?

1.  I am currently reading two books.  The first is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  It is a book club selection, a book I had never heard of before it was chosen for book club.  So far, I’m enjoying it.  Hopefully this is a good sign for the rest of the book club year!  The second book is Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.  It was an impulse buy when I recently had an hour to myself in the local bookstore and a gift card from my birthday to burn.  I am enjoying it a lot and am glad I picked it up (Thanks, Wendy, for the gift card!)

2.  I recently finished the first book in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lightning Thief.  It was a fun read, quick and easy and engaging.

3.  I have the next Percy Jackson book, which I may read next.  I was also plowing through Galahad at Blandings and The Great American Typo Hunt before I put them aside for the two books mentioned in Question/Answer #1.  This is a common problem I have, actually.  I’ll be happily reading along in a great book, and then other great books come along, so I put down the first books to start the new ones.  I need to develop some kind of follow through!  Anyone else do this?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

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!

At present I am reading 2 books, so I’ll post a teaser for each.

“The walls seemed to sag around us.  The toast wavered in the air.”

                                         --The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
                                            (Aimee Bender)

“What of religion itself?  Clouds, tornadoes, sins awhirl before some imagined but necessary altar—a Perfect Storm of jingoism!”

                                        --Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
                                           (Rhoda Janzen)

Many thanks to Sarah at Run, Bake, Read for a fun new Tuesday something-to-do!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend

This is one of those weekend that got so busy and so crazy so quickly that you’re almost glad it’s Monday.  Except that I don’t have back up to keep Leah entertained on Monday. But it’s nice to have her to myself today!

Last Tuesday, we got the mail and in it was a little postcard from Lisner Auditorium.  I was sitting on the back porch when Penny brought the mail up and as I read the postcard, I yelled, “Holy sh**!” and ran in the house to buy my tickets for Cinematic Titanic, the live MST3K show.  I got a great seat and emailed my friend Joe and asked him to go with me, since we spent a good deal of college watching MST3K. 

Friday night, we met up at the Lisner and headed over to Bertucci’s for dinner.  It was a big night for us, every October on some nebulous date, we celebrate one more year of friendship, and this year we celebrated being friends for 16 years.  I brought him some fun cards and he paid for dinner.  Due to the crappy service at Bertucci’s, we sat around for 90 minutes, but it was a fun time to reminisce and talk about life now and I got to preview his new comic book, which is amazing.  (way to go, Joe!)

P1080545 The show was spectacular.  I laughed for 2 1/2 solid hours.  The movie was predictably horrible.  Although the postcard read for something like “Battle of the Insects”, the real name of the movie was Genocide.  (But as they pointed out, who wants to say they went to the theater to see genocide, and even worse, who wants to say they laughed at it?)  When Joel Hodgson stepped out on stage, the whole theater erupted.  One of the cast members said, “MST3K fans are the best fans in the world.  You know why?  Because the show has been off the air for 12 years and you’re still packing auditoriums!”  WOO HOO!!!!

The movie was horrible—I was actually bored of it, although not of the experience, but I was just like, “Come on already!”  As the MST3K cast riffed on the movie, there was a chance for them to interact with the audience depending on how we reacted to their jokes, so it was just amazing.  Joe and I agreed to bookmark it and if they ever come back to DC, sign us up!

Afterwards, we got on line to get autographs.  I had dug out my old VHS tapes, which Joe was extremely impressed at their condition.  And I had picked up a couple of DVD’s at Borders the night before.  The line was quite long but moved rather quickly and it was exciting to get up there and talk to the cast.  Joel said hello and shook my hand (I’ll never wash it again! haha) and then signed my tapes and I moved on down the line.  For some reason, one of my DVD sets piqued their interest as none of them had seen it before.  Go figure!  It was awesome to meet Trace Beaulieu (unrecognizable without the crazy hair) and Frank Conniff, who looks exactly the same as he did as TV’s Frank.  I shook hand with all of them and they were all so nice.  Joe and I were beside ourselves.


I got home around midnight, and I was exhausted, but I knew the cavalry was coming.  Saturday morning, I got up and we got Leah ready to go to Woodbridge to spend they day with Auntie Melissa.  We drove her up there and dropped her and a pile of toys off and then came home.  Penny was waiting for us, and she told us she missed Leah as soon as we walked in the door! :-D    She had Homecoming on Saturday night, so she was excited to go dancing with her friends.  I spent the day cleaning up the house, which I am happy to report is still pretty clean even though Hurricane Leah has been home a full day now.  It only took me a few hours and then everything was more or less up to snuff—I need to wash the floors, but other than that, I’m in good shape, vacuuming, dusting, and surfaces all complete.

Penny’s friend Ashley came over around 4:30 to do her hair and make up and I sat down and watched a zombie prank on YouTube that my buddy Steve had posted to his Facebook.  I was laughing so hard Penny and Ashley came down to see what the heck was going on.  I don’t know where the Japanese get off making this kind of stuff, but it is HILARIOUS.  I was crying I was laughing so hard, mainly because I could totally picture Leah kicking the zombie in the back.  If you want to see it, click here.

P1080553 Afterwards, we got Penny dressed and took a few photos before going up the hill to see the family of the young man she was taking to the dance, who happened to be Ashley’s cousin.  He was all dressed up and ready to go, so we all took a bunch of pictures and then Ashley, Penny, and JB headed out and Michael and I came home to go have a quiet dinner somewhere.  We decided on Ruby Tuesday’s.  We went to the one in Central Park, but it was JAMMED, so we took off and went to the one on Mine Road, where we had a delightful meal.

We came home and decided it was a perfect night to spark up the firepit and have some smores and our neighbor Jett came over to say hello while we were out there.  We chatted with him for a while till the fire died out and then retreated to the warmth of the house just in time to get the call that Penny was on her way home.  I downloaded the new Sara Bareilles song King of Anything, which has become my new anthem of the moment and when Penny arrived, we were debriefed on the fun of homecoming, at which it seems she had a great time, and that was confirmed looking at her pictures!

Sunday, Melissa brought Leah home, although Leah didn’t particularly care if she was brought home or not (between you and me, I think she enjoys the spoiling she gets up there).  We took Melissa out to lunch as a thank you for watching our girl and then she headed out and I made a big pot of tomato sauce for my family for dinner, since I was heading up to NPR.  I had planned to bake pumpkin cookies, but frankly, I fell asleep.  The only thing that woke me up at 4:00 was my mother-in-law calling to talk to Penny. :-)  Since I needed to leave around 4:30, it was just as well.  I got up and found Penny and called back to Rhode Island and got myself together and headed out to WAMU, with a quick stop to get gas.  I don’t know how it happened, but I saved 60 cents on gas at Giant, which was awesome.  I thought I’d save about 40 cents, which would have been good enough, but 60 cents is even better!

Wamu I got to WAMU at 6:10 or so and found my preferred table was back where I wanted it to be.  My sister walked in and a bat-shit crazy part of me was so happy to see her that I even smiled at her, which she completely ignored and sat elsewhere with her husband.  I found his presence interesting on a number of levels that I can’t really go into.  Anyway, it was a good night, we raised $35,000 in 3 hours.  I only took about 8 calls and not for big money, but a lot of people were getting small donations that apparently added up to a bunch of money in the end.  A place called Tonic (I think) provided the meal, which was a chicken pasta dish, bbq chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, cupcakes and brownies.  The food was very good, especially the salad.  I picked up 5 or 6 new books from the table, which was cool, read a lot of my book club book, and I was home by 11:30.  I’m looking forward to the February campaign!

Good thing too since Michael’s carpool driver didn’t sleep last night (I know the feeling), so he had to get me up at 6:00 to go and take him to the train.  It was actually nice, though, as I got to spend some time with Penny before she left for school, and I was able to write out her note for missing a couple days for our upcoming trip.  I took a hot shower and now I’ve been able to fill in my blog updates! WOW!

By some miracle, it’s 7:45 and Leah is still sleeping!  It was most definitely an awesome weekend.  My father once told my sister that I didn’t understand the importance of feeding the soul.  Well I do, and this weekend, I fed it by just being me and having a whole lot of fun.  And can I just say, walking into a clean house is a real boon to the spirits!  I’ve been beating myself up mentally a lot lately, and this was just one of those weekends that let me put things into perspective.

Coming up, I will finish off my grad school applications—I am waiting on one more letter of recommendation—and we are heading out for my mom’s 60th birthday soon.  Penny and I will spend a day at Disney World, her first time there.  She has triple and quadruple invitations to Halloween parties, so she has to decide what she wants to do about Halloween and I have decided to skip the Rally to Restore Sanity to preserve my own sanity so I can take the girls to the pumpkin patch and we can carve pumpkins and whatnot.  The annual Kosior Fall Festival—I want it to happen! :)

Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows

miss-julia-renews-her-vows I have long been a fan of the Miss Julia books.  Recently, however, I was disappointed with the last book, Miss Julia Paints the Town, and so when I heard there was a new Miss Julia on her way, I felt like maybe I’d hate it.  I’ve been shucking off series here and there that haven’t kept my interest (for instance, I haven’t read a Diane Mott Davidson mystery in a long time, nor did I make the leap to Jan Karon’s new Father Tim books despite enjoying the Mitford series immensely until the last couple).  Still, I never flat out quit reading a series until I give it a fair shake, so I decided that I would read the latest Ann B. Ross offering, Miss Julia Renews her Vows, and see if Miss Julia was worth continuing.

***SPOILER ALERT:  If you are just starting out with this series, you may find information contained herein that will tell you what happens later on in the books.  Be forewarned that you may want to stop if you don’t want to know what happens with the characters in future novels.

I started the book earlier this year, snagging a copy on sale at a local bookstore as soon as I saw it was out.  I read the first chapter and thought, “Oh jeez” and put it aside.  The book begins with Miss Julia breaking the news to her considerable social circle that Hazel Marie and Mr. Pickens have gotten themselves hitched.  Hazel Marie is embarrassed to have the word come out at the same time that she has to announce she is pregnant with twins, as she knows the town gossips’ tongues will be wagging about her eloping and being in a family way.  Miss Julia arranges to have a luncheon and concocts a story to cover Hazel Marie and JD’s “extra-curricular activities.” 

As I started reading all this, I was like, “This is so unnecessarily complicated!”  The charm of the Miss Julia books, for me, come in thinking about a very proper old lady who gets thrown into circumstances in which she has to act against a lifetime of rules she has invented about what good breeding entails in one’s behavior.    But let’s face it, Hazel Marie is Miss Julia’s dead husband’s former mistress.  No one expects that Hazel Marie is necessarily a paragon of virtue, no matter how she acts now that she is somewhat “reformed”.  Add to that the fact that Mr. Pickens is married 4 times now and there’s really not much to worry about.

Fortunately, however, Ross strays away from this story line as Miss Etta Mae Wiggins calls from the police station and pleads with Miss Julia to come down and bail her out, as she is being interrogated, suspected of bashing in the head of one of her clients.  Meanwhile, Miss Julia’s pastor has invited Pastor Fred back to conduct marriage enrichment classes, which Miss Julia’s husband, Sam, agrees to attend in support of the church.  Both these events send shockwaves through Miss Julia’s household, and she does her best to help Etta Mae and avoid Pastor Fred at all costs.

Both of those parts of the book showcase Miss Julia at her finest.  This was not even close to my favorite Miss Julia book, but it was good enough that I was inspired to continue reading the series for now.  I’ll be glad in the next book to find out if Hazel Marie gives birth to two girls named Lillian and Julia, as I suspect she will, or if Ross has something else up her sleeve.  3 out of 5 stars on

Miss Julia Renews her Vows also fulfills my last requirement for the What's In a Name? Challenge by giving me a title with a title in it, the title being “Miss”.  To sum up, I read:

Body of Water:  Your Oasis on Flame Lake (Lorna Landvik) (review here)
Food: Leftovers (Laura Wiess) (review here)
Music: Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe (Stuart McLean) (review here)
Place Name: Moloka’i (Alan Brennert) (review here)
Plant: Columbine (Dave Cullen) (review here)
Title: Miss Julia Renews Her Vows (Ann B. Ross)

There is not one book I read for this challenge that I did not like.  I think I got lucky with this challenge, since ever single one of them was excellent and I was able to use many of them to cover other challenges as well.  Many thanks to Beth F. for hosting the challenge and I’m pleased I was able to complete it, although I’m not sure I used a single book in my sign up blog entry as I planned to!

It also is my second selection for the TwentyTen Book Challenge as a “New in 2010” title selection.  I have only 3 books left, 1 each in the categories of To Be Read, Bad Blogger, and Older Than You, and I have roughly 3 months to complete it!  I think I’ll get there.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Bitches With Books

October marks the last month of any given year of our book club’s schedule.  This October was particularly special, in that I had asked all the women in the club if they would grant me a wish and come down to Fredericksburg once for book club.  I haven’t hosted a meeting in my home since November 2004, when we lived in Centreville, because the commute to the ‘burg is insane.  I was pleased when everyone agreed to come on down and lose out on a Saturday of their precious weekend to come to my place and talk book.

Last month’s meeting got a little rowdy, and while we were all laughing and crying and enjoying ourselves, Lauren suggested that we should include a night at the bingo hall at the end of book club as part of the F’burg experience.  Then I was beyond excited!  So it was set, October 2 was books and bingo day.

I selected The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger as my book for this year.  I love going to book club and discussing the books, don’t get me wrong, but I also wanted to shake things up a little bit and try something new.  Since I knew we’d have a good amount of time between book club and bingo, I decided to change our format of eating and discussing to include arts and crafts hour.

Cecily contacted Steve and he agreed to call into the club meeting at 2:00pm.  We were scheduled to start the meeting at 1pm, but of course with a car fire on I95, everyone got to the house around 1:30.  We tucked into our food (Dinner theme:  What would you serve if your favorite celebrity came to dinner?), and then discussed the book for a few minutes until the phone rang and Steve was ready to chat with us!

He is a fascinating book club speaker and talked with us for about 45 minutes.  He told us lots of stories about how the book came to be, who the characters were, and so forth, and a hilarious story about the Tony Awards (seriously, if you ever have him call into your club, ask him about that one!). 

Afterwards, I finished off with one of my favorite quotes in the book and then it was time to set the schedule for next year.  We have an awesome round up of books coming up this year (see below for the list) and I’m really excited to get reading!!!  We asked Penny to take a group photo as well.  She agreed, but we had pre-arranged that after we took one regular shot, we would all make a peace sign like Penny does in most of her pictures.  Oh my gosh, she was so embarrassed and laughing.  it was ADORABLE!


The it was time to get busy and do some crafty fun!  I asked each member to bring a picture of someone who had changed their life and be ready to talk about it.  We went around the circle with our pictures and everyone started talking about the person who influenced them.  More than a few tears were shed as we talked about moms and best friends and teachers and aunts and uncles.  It was a special and moving experience that I can’t hope to capture here, but it was awesome to be a part of. 

Then I got out all my scrapbooking materials and we set up shop on the coffee table.  Pretty soon scraps of paper were flying, stickers were being exchanged, and projects began to take shape.  I’m so glad I decided to do something a little different—I think it was a whole lot of fun for everyone and gave us all a lot to think about.


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The person I selected was the school librarian from my school growing up.  I first remember meeting Mrs. Collins (at the time, Miss LeBel) when I was in kindergarten and she really inspired me with what has become a lifetime love of reading.  In 1998, when I had moved home and was trying to figure out what to do with my life, Mrs. Collins would request me all the time as her sub when she was out.  In the spring of 1999, she asked me to be her long term sub while she battled cancer, a fight she ultimately won.  Then she was diagnosed with MS and retired from the library.  This spring, I was lucky enough to see her at my dad’s retirement party, and introducing her to my husband and my daughter was a special moment for me.  Then I sat down with her and began to talk about the new crossroads in my life:  what’s next?  What am I going to do with myself after Leah doesn’t need me full time any more?  Mrs. Collins responded, “You would make a great librarian.” 

So here I am now applying to library school, the final push in the right direction having been applied.  And I have asked Mrs. C to write me a reference.

Back to book club…

After we all finished our projects and shared them, we had some time to hang out and relax until bingo.  We started packing up at about 5:45 and headed over to Wawa for some extra provisions in case our meeting leftovers didn’t hold out.  We got to bingo a trifle bit late, so we all had to cram around a table for 6 (and there were 7 of us and the people next to us were not giving an inch!). 

Luck held.  Melissa won big, $100, her first ever bingo win!  For most of the night, we were all sitting around laughing, eating, and hoping for big winnings, but Melissa was the lucky draw.  Then a few games later, my number came up at the exact same time 6 other people’s lucky number came up, so I won a whopping $14.  Ah well, it nearly paid my admission! :)  A win is a win is a win, right?

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39593_476435397497_733927497_6747241_3047415_nAnyway, at the meeting, we officially agreed that a) we would change our names from NoVa Lit Chicks to Bitches with Books and that b) Books and Bingo will now be an annual event and I’ll get to host, so I am over the moon excited with how great that is.  My favorite girls, my favorite game, my favorite hobby!  What gets better than that? 


Bitches With Books Year 7 Reading List

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkaner
The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion

and 4 choices to be named later.  Happy reading!