Monday, September 6, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Happy Labor Day, America! Hope you are all having a great and safe long end-of-summer holiday weekend.

Yesterday, in honor of the end-of-summer Labor Day weekend, good friends Stu and Sharon threw their annual pool party. I brought my parrot and a big bowl of fresh strawberries and a little bowl of yogurt dip to share. (The parrot was not for consumption.) What I didn't bring was my bathing suit. I'm not quite ready to share the sight of my body in a bathing suit.

Anyway, to get to the party, I had to drive about 70 miles each way on the freeway. Since I live a couple of blocks from my workplace and walk to work, I don't drive much anymore and had forgotten how very exhausting it is! I was going over the speed limit by about 15 mph, and cars were zipping past me (and around me) like I was standing still! It was great to see old friends, though. I don't get to see them much anymore, though we used to ride the commuter train together every day for a decade before I moved downtown and others got new jobs or retired. So it was well worth the drive! Once a year, anyway.

Earlier this summer, I flew to New York just for the weekend to see a show. I've never done anything so, you know, frivolous before. But my daughter wanted me to see her perform (the show was "Spelling Bee" and it was off-off-off-Broadway and really good ~ I never realized how funny my daughter actually is), so I went ahead and just did it. During the trip, I met my nephew whom I hadn't seen for about 15 years, which is why I say I "met" him, since he is completely different now from the little boy he'd been then. He's now a graduate student studying linguistics, and he has a lovely girlfriend whom I also met.

I also traveled to Colorado for a week to spend time with my sister and her four daughters. Now, family vacations can be stressful, but not this one! My four beautiful nieces were attentive and generally all-around fun to be with, and my sister ~ well, suffice it to say we are always ready to explore new places.

I'd never been to Colorado, so, besides the joy of seeing family, it was a real treat. Except for the difficult time I had breathing at the higher altitude, that is. But I got over that, or at least panted through it, and have wonderful memories of mountains, butterflies, mountain, waterfalls, mountains, blue skies with white clouds, mountains.

A special highlight of the trip was the Butterfly Pavilion just outside Denver. It was unbearably hot and humid inside, which is good for butterflies but not so good for humans. As I hope you will agree, the images I came away with were well worth the sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes the damp (well, soaking) clothes.

We also went to the Mile-High Music Festival. It brought back foggy but fond memories of my wild days as a rocker, but the reality was that I am no longer comfortable sitting on a blanket on the grass but instead really really require some sort of chair, and being out in the hot sun all day requires a sun umbrella or at least a wide-brimmed hat.

So, now it's Labor Day and summer is at an end...except for the heat. Unlike summer, though, when white can be worn to reflect the heat, now we'll have to make do with off-white and beige. Unless you're a rebel like me. I don't care what Serial Mom (or the voice of my grandmother whispering in my head) says, until the temperature backs off from the 90s, Imma wear as much white as I want.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nearly a Year Later ~ How Time Flies...

How odd to think it's been nearly a year since I posted on this blog. So much has happened in that year, and yet, when I try to think of any one thing I can share here, nothing of particularly earthshaking, or even interesting, interest comes to mind. Most of my busy-ness has been focused around work: my job was becoming more intense and less challenging, never a good combination. Recently, though, one of my attorneys (I'm what used to be known as a legal secretary; now the job title is practice assistant) was promoted to head of the business & finance department for a global law firm, so things are now REALLY intense and much more challenging, to the point where I walk around in a stupor, cry a lot from nerves, and when I get home at night can scarcely fix dinner for my parrot and myself before collapsing.

One thing I've been doing ~ which can be thought of as either good or stupid, depending on your outlook ~ is getting involved in politics. Last summer, after watching the ridiculous, disgusting and frightening antics of the Tea Party, and then last autumn and winter, after watching the equally ridiculous, disgusting and frightening obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress with respect to the Health Care Reform bill, I found myself becoming politicized. First I was drawn to learning more about what's going on in the political world. In the course of time, I became aware of so many disgusting, ridiculous and frightening things that are going on in this country and around the world that sometimes I just wanted to hide in my room and read light fiction. But the reality of the situation has dire consequences for everyone living today and our children's children to the point that, as a responsible citizen of the United States and resident of Planet Earth, I HAD to DO something.

So, I've resisted the urge to hide out and instead have become active. I have joined the Democratic Party and the Coffee Party USA. I've made phone calls and written emails and letters (yes, actual snailmail letters) to my and other Senators and Representatives, made donations to the campaign funds of certain politicians who have stood up to the bullying of the GOP and the corporate lobbyists, and even participated in a few protests. Not my usual style, and horribly uncomfortable for me, but something I think is necessary. BTW, the Coffee Party, for anyone who is interested, is NOT the opposite of the Tea Party, it is an antidote to the Tea Party ~ a place where anyone of any affiliation can go to debate the issues and find common ground without the rhetoric of hate, the violence or threat of violence, and the unbalanced fear of government that has characterized the Tea Party. It's an empowering thing, to be part of a true grassroots movement that espouses civil discourse and legal expressions of opinion, and responsible public involvement in our government. (Picture at right of a recent meeting of the Downtown LA chapter of the Coffee Party. I'm the dorky looking one in the middle.)

Beyond that, I've stopped reading as much as I had been. Perhaps I just don't have the energy to read late into the night anymore. I know I don't have as much time for reading, now that I've discovered Twitter. My parrot keeps me occupied too, as well as entertained. Even at the worst of times, Nickelbird is able to make me laugh. I'm so blessed to have her in my life (notwithstanding the constant mess she causes with her food flinging, shredding of anything shreddable she can get her beak on, and normal shedding of dust & feathers, not to mention the endless pooping). Here's a picture of Nickel peeking out from her favorite shelf in the linen-cupboard in the bathroom.

I'm going to try to post here more often, and promise not to be quite as long-winded as I seem to have been today. We'll see how that works out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Happy Birthday, America!

I'm feeling all patriotic today, but I can't find my Stars & Stripes to hang out my apartment window. I know it's in one of the boxes stacked floor to ceiling in the walk-in closet of my very small apartment. Which one, though, is completely beyond me.

I moved out of my rather larger house over 2 years ago, and I've been meaning ever since to sort through all the detritus I threw into boxes and brought along with me ~ some to Goodwill, some to plastic bins and restorage, some to the trash. Somehow, though, it's never happened. Instead, my neatly stacked boxes have gotten all out of order as I've searched for things over the years. It would be meaningful to begin the cleanup/organizing today ~ Independence Day ~ because it would result in freedom from disorganization and clutter that has plagued me all my life, and then I can have my own personal Independence Day celebration every year along with the nation.

Before I can get started with that, though, I've gotta get off the damn computer first!
Okay, going now to work all day in the bedroom/closet. I should be able to get a good start on the job before going up to the roof tonight to watch the fireworks over at the Coliseum.
In closing, to all the servicemen who have given their lives to preserve our country and our freedom, and to all those now serving in the military, THANK YOU! And for everyone who is going to celebrate the day at backyard bbqs or picnics or the beach and/or watch the fireworks tonight, have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer 2009

Happy First Day of Summer, Los Angeles! I've been away for awhile, mentally if not physically, but I've missed blogging here. I've been on Twitter a lot in the past week or so, reading all the posts from Iran that have gotten through. It's been a heady experience, reading the blow-by-blow descriptions of the protests by the protesters, but it's been scary too. I don't like to think of students being subjected to the brutality of the rulers of that place. Reminds me of Berkeley in the late 60s/early 70s, and of Kent State.

On a lighter note, I haven't been doing much photography lately, but I do have a couple of neat images to share with you. The first was taken in Pershing Square during the lunch hour a couple of weeks ago. The second is of the park that is just across the street from my apartment taken a month or so ago.
Ah, L.A. Gotta love it!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Let the Right One In

Last year, I read Let the Right One In, a really creepy novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist about Eli, a vampire, and Oskar, a lonely adolescent boy. Set in Sweden in 1981, it is part urban horror fantasy, part literary fiction about troubled youth. When Eli (along with her human protector ~ one of the creepier characters in the story) moves to a suburb of Stockholm and befriends Oskar, a geeky 12-year old boy who is the victim of school bullying, murder and mayhem ensue, but with a twist that I found utterly unexpected. In fact, I may really need therapy, because I found myself rooting for the vampire and a troubled and troublesome teenage boy who lives in the same housing project as Oskar. Though the story was uneven, and the tension never reached the almost painful tautness that King at his best can create, it was well-written, gritty, and undeniably worth reading.

Today I learned that the book has been made into a moviewith Kare Hedebrandt playing Oskar and Lina Leandersson playing Eli. I usually avoid films based on books that I've read, because nine times out of ten, they cruelly disappoint, but
Robert Ebert really likes it, so I think I may just take a chance and see it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weekend Assignment #252: Book Connections

I just stumbled across this cool blog ~ Outpost Mâvarin ~ courtesy of Florinda (thanks for that!) when I was looking at her blog tonight. Apparently, every week Karen of Outpost Mavarin appoint a "guest professor" to pose a question to her readers. This week, Laura of YBTN, gave the Weekend Assignment. As Florinda said, "[b]oth the main question and the extra credit are hers, as we return to a favorite subject for some of us: books!"

Assignment #252: Where do you get books from?
Extra Credit: What was the last book you read, and why?

I had to respond to this one, because I love talking about books and everything to do with them almost as much as I enjoy reading them! Also, it gives me a chance to give a short, glowing review of the best book I've read so far in 2009.

So, without further ado, here is my response: I get the majority of my books from the library, because I just don't have enough room in my tiny apartment to keep a lot of books. I have over a thousand books in storage as it is, and I just can't bring myself to add more while leaving my old, well-loved books all alone in boxes in a storage unit. It just isn't fair. Still, sometimes I simply MUST have a book, and then I either buy it online from Amazon, go to a used book store, go to a Borders or Barnes & Noble, or go to an indie book store like Metropolis Books in downtown Los Angeles on Main between 4th and 5th Streets. I also like to shop at library sales and thrift shops, although I haven't done that in awhile.

The last book I finished (a couple of nights ago) is my favorite so far in 2009 ~ The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It won the Pulitzer, and for good reason! It simply blew me away. I even dreamed about it last night, about being at Gettysburg ~ not during the battle, but at the national monument. Though I have never been there before, in my dream I saw some of the old cannon still there, a few statues, and stood at the top of the ridge looking down the slope up which the Rebel army swarmed (and died) in an attempt to break the Union line.

Now, I'm not really much one for books about battles and war. I did read Caesar's The Civil War and Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, but those were different. However, Shaara did an amazing job of making the characters real (well, most of them actually were real people, though Shaara gave them personalities and dialogue while staying within the bounds of what we know about them historically), of making the battle scenes horribly real and the action completely comprehensible.

If I tell you that, toward the end, I wept, even though I knew how it was going to turn out & even though I seldom cry anymore, perhaps that will give an indication of just how impressive The Killer Angels is. In fact, just remembering that bit at the end ("It may be years, it may be forever...") brings an ache to my heart and a thickness in my throat. I want to read it all over again and plan to buy it so I have it on hand. It was that good!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I gave this YA historical fiction novel a really good review over at Just One More Page...Or Two a few months ago when I finished the advance reader copy. It's about ready to be released, so I thought I'd just post a link to it for those who are interested in really good historical fiction. This is about Katherine Howard, one of Henry VIII's wives who lost her head over him. :)

Don't be afraid of the YA label. This is suitable for discerning adults too.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009!

Wishing each and every one a healthy and happy New Year filled with prosperity and great books to read!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Writing Projects

I've been moping around since NaNoWriMo ended on November 30. This year's WriMo was, as always, both exhilarating and brutal, and I miss it. Yes, it's nice to be able to read again ~ in fact, I've already finished Fool, a truly bawdy but really entertaining new novel by Christopher Moore based on Shakespeare's King Lear (review coming soon to Just One More Page) and am halfway through Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais, one of my favorite mystery writers, and Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, an anthology of "hair-raising holiday tales," featuring Sookie Stackhouse in a really lovely short story about what starts out as a really lonely Christmas. And, compliments of Hachette Books, I just received a copy of Gods Behaving Badly, a debut by Marie Phillips, which I can't wait to start. (Actually, I've read the first chapter and already it's made me laugh out loud.) You can read more about Gods Behaving Badly and enter a giveaway contest on my blog at Just One More Page.

Anyway besides being able to read again, it's also nice to be able to socialize and relax and blog. But, still, I miss the frenzied madness that is NaNo.

So, to try and end my general mopiness, I have joined a critique group. We're going to meet once a week and critique portions of each other's writing. It's a little scary to think of sharing my fiction writing with others, but they are fellow WriMos, so I think I can trust them to be kind, though I hope they are also honest. Just not brutally so.

I have also signed up for Forward Motion's writing course, which takes two (yikes! two!) years to get through but which could result in a submittable (is that a word?) novel.

Maybe, between the two projects, I will actually manage to finish writing a novel or two. How amusing that would be!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo November Has Begun!

Hi, Fellow Readers and Bloggers ~ For those who have not yet heard of it, November is NaNoWriMo month. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and NaNoWriMo is a website dedicated to the thousands of people who take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel during the thirty days of November. This year will be my third year of doing NaNo, and I won both previous years (2006 and 2007).

What do you win? you might well ask. Well, you win a virtual purple bar and the right to print a out a fancy certificate that says you are a NaNoWriMo winner. No publishing deal, no money, no prizes. Just the aforesaid purple bar, a .JPG of a winners' certificate, and the immense and priceless satisfaction that comes from having actually managed to write a 50,000+ word novel in one month.

Now, the reason I bring this up is two-fold. Firstly, I am, as I mentioned, doing NaNo again this November. Therefore, during every free moment of the entire month, I will be frenziedly typing my NaNoNovel on my lovely little AlphaSmart Dana word processor. Ergo, I will have no time to blog, much less read any novels about which to blog. Neither reading nor blogging for an entire month is a real hardship, but participating in NaNoWriMo is worth it.

Secondly, I will be doing a bit of writing about the NaNo experience at my Musings from the Dark Side blog, and I invite you to visit me there during November if you'd like to read about my crazy and wonderful experiences doing NaNo this year. When I emerge from my novel-writing frenzy in December, assuming I make it through NaNo alive (haha, just joking), I hope to resume blogging here at The Anything Blog, as well as on Just One More Page, where I will be reviewing my favorite mystery author Carol O'Connell's soon-to-be-released new novel "Bone by Bone." (I am sooo excited to have been given an ARC of it to read and review! It just arrived today, in fact, and it is going to be very very difficult to resist reading it until after November.)

So, to all those in the U.S., if I don't have a chance to blog here for awhile, don't forget to vote on Tuesday, be sure to honor our Veterans on November 11, and have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! And to everyone here and in other parts of this great world, have a great month and please come back in December.