Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Munich

The Christmas Markets in Germany, lovely and the epitome of Christmas spirit!
It's been a great year of postcards and I hope you guys have enjoyed it as much as I have, Have a great new year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday's Postcard: The Christmas House, Hampstead, NC

This shop in North Carolina was the first I ever knew that sold Christmas items all year round. Folks would come from miles around to shop here and they always had the latest and most extensive collection of ornaments and decorations. This was fancy Christmas before it got fancy! It opened in the late 70's and unfortunately burned down, but I still have fond memories of shopping here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Stratford Upon Avon

When I was in England in 2006 for my 40th birthday, Ryan and I kept getting bumped off airplanes and the gate agents even told us not to come back for several days, so we traveled to Stratford to see the Shakespeare sites there.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Our Christmas Present: A New Deck

It appears that our old deck was never maintained. The deck gets constant exposure to the sun and rain here in the PNW. Just walking around on the deck and you could hear and feel it splintering and giving out beneath your feet. The wood was splitting and warped. We had fungus growing on the boards. It was not a matter of cleaning and resealing or even repairing the deck, it would have to be totally replaced. We researched our options and decided to go with a composite deck instead of another wood deck. The composite decking is made from recycled materials and it is lower maintenance than the traditional wood decking. We still have to keep it clean, but we will not have to seal or stain it every year or so. And it has a 20 year warranty.
So the first day of the installation of the new deck was devoted to ripping out the old deck and cleaning out the space beneath. The deck rests on an area of torchdown roofing and there are drains located in the two far corners of this area. Once the deck is in place, we will have access to the drain areas so that we can keep them free of debris throughout the year. (a type of maintenance that was previously never done as far as I can tell!)
Day two of the Deck rebuild was spent putting down the new decking and repairing a leak that was flooding the outdoor storage closet (the leak was coming from the deck area above us!) We had to get the condo association involved to access the deck in the condo above me and it was then that we found out that we had certain criteria to follow when putting in the new deck flooring.
Despite several emails and phone calls I had made to the condo association trying to find out anything about putting in a new deck and I was always told that the deck "was the responsibility of the owner" Okay, then I can pretty much do whatever I want....well it seems that that is not the case. There needs to be access to the drains underneath the deck flooring and they were not happy with the way that my contractor had proposed to do this, so we were going to have to rip up the work already in progress and redo the flooring design. Also I was going to have a built in bench/storage. This was also going to have to be reworked. It would have to be totally portable and able to be moved, not an actual part of the deck. So annoying when I had been emailing and calling for months prior trying to get just this sort of information. AAaaaargh.

So it just added another couple of days to our project. But now we have dry storage in the outside closet and two lovely benches on the deck, (that can move), access to the drains below and fantastic twinkling icicle lights dripping off the eaves. :-) We will be enjoying sunsets for many years to come!

Many thanks to Mike and Jason at UrbanBuild for doing such a great job! I highly recommend them for any rebuilding, remodeling or handyman jobs that you might have, no job is too big or too small or too complicated for these guys to tackle. I will be consulting them when it is time to redo my bathrooms.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Colorado

This is a card from the Continental Divide. I traveled to Colorado in 1996 with my Granny and took her up to the Continental Divide. We had a wonderful time visiting old gold rush ghost towns and antique shops. We had high tea at the Brown Palace and toured the Molly Brown House.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

New Year's Resolution: November Update

Here I am at Valley of Fire outside Las Vegas, Nevada trying to reenact the cover to a Nancy Drew book!

Pretty close representation I think!!
I am standing in front of the rock formation that is in the artwork. Although you can't see all of it in the photo. We should have been further away to get it right.

Here are the books I read in November:

Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls by Wendelin Van Draanen
Indigo by Graham Joyce
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (library)
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg (library)
The Best American Essays ed. by David Foster Wallace (library)
Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle (library)
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (library)
The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg (library)
You Know when the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon (library)
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay (library)
The Good Wife by Elizabeth Buchan
Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman (library)
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard (library)
Resistance by Owen Sheers (library)
Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity (library)
Smoking Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (library)
The Story of Charlotte's Web by Michael Sims (library)
Loose Diamonds and other things I 've lost (and found) along the way by Amy Ephron

In honor, of Nancy Drew we start off this month with a modern girl's series book. Night of Skulls is a really fun book set during Halloween and All Souls Day. Lots of great info about All Souls Day and Day of the Dead traditions and a fun mystery starring Sammy Keyes, a modern day Nancy Drew.

Graham Joyce was recommended by Stephen King and I read "The Silent Land" last month and really liked it. Indigo was weird, I think I liked Silent Land better. I did not find Indigo as creepy/scary as I had hoped. But I will be reading more Graham Joyce. Indigo is about how the color indigo does not exist, but everyone knows about it, so it must have existed at some point...and perhaps it is a portal to invisibility or another dimension or something. Like I said, it was weird.

The Language of Flowers is about a girl growing up in the foster care system. It reminded me a bit of White Oleander (the descriptions of foster homes and foster parents etc) I enjoyed it and would recommend it. It is the first book from this author.

The Ice Princess and The Preacher are by Camilla Lackberg. She is the number one best seller in Sweden and is just now gaining an audience in the US (after the success of the Stieg Larsson Girl books). She has the same English translator as Larsson. Murder mysteries, very dark.

The Best American Essays included a story by JoAnn Beard (InZanesville and Boys of My Youth) When I say that I am going to read everything that someone has written, I am not joking. I will even try to find old copies of New Yorker or Vanity Fair to track down stories by authors that I really like. I am like a reading stalker that way! Some of the essays I had read when they were first published in New Yorker, and I quite enjoyed one by Molly Peacock and will be looking for her book.

Boys and Girls Like You and Me is a collection of short stories. I liked it a lot. Chick lit stuff, I got the recommendation from Elle Magazine. And I will be reading more of this author.

The Buddha in the Attic is about "picture brides" brought from Japan to the US during the early 1900's. If you like Lisa See's books about the Asian experience, you might enjoy this one too.

You know when the Men are Gone is a short story collection about the soldiers who leave for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the women they leave behind in base housing and their families and the experiences they have when they return home on leave etc. etc. I liked it.

Dexter by Design is one of the latest Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay, these are the basis of the Showtime TV show. Of course, you get a lot more of Dexter's internal life in the books and they have departed from the books in the TV show plots. But if you like gory serial killer stuff, you ought to give these a try. They are really interesting. I hate to say they make murder and mayhem fun, but I guess they do...

Inside Scientology. I am always fascinated by other religions. Especially when they are in the news as much as Scientology. I don't really know any more about Scientology than I did when I started the book! I do know more about it's history and L. Ron Hubbard. But I guess in order to really get to know Scientology, you have to pay the money!! What I got out of this book is that Scientology is basically a business in the business of making money.

Elizabeth Buchan also wrote a book called "Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman". I enjoyed that one and I enjoyed this one too. Some folks might think this is the basis of the TV series The Good Wife. The only similarities are that the wife of the title is a politician's wife and yes the politician did cheat on her, but in the book there is no scandal, no "stand by your man" stuff. It is more about how the wife gives up her life and goals to be a public partner for her husband. When their daughter is leaving the nest and her father passes away, the wife is at a cross roads and feels the need to change things.

Destiny of the Republic continues my obsession with President Garfield. After reading Assassination Vacation, I became intrigued with Garfield and wanted to know more. Ryan and I had the opportunity to visit his home and grave site in Ohio this year! This book is about his brief presidency and assassination. I enjoyed it very much. It is especially poignant that he could have survived the gun shot if the Doctors had known more about germs and the importance of sterile instruments.

Resistance is one of those 'Alternate History" books. What if Germany had invaded England in WWII? This story looks at a small community in Wales that is occupied by German soldiers. I enjoyed it a lot.

Naughty in Nice was yet another fun murder mystery about the Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 30th-something (or is it 40th-something ?) in line for the throne of England. The Queen has her spying on her son and Wallis Simpson, this time on the French Riviera and she is to retrieve a stolen snuff box. Historically accurate details about Coco Chanel are in this outing!

Tooth Fairy is another creepy book by Graham Joyce. This one is about a Childhood Tooth Fairy who is an evil type of fairy godmother to one boy in England. The boy sees the Tooth Fairy, very much against "the rules" or the laws of nature or something and then continues to see this gremlin for the rest of his adolescence. Very weird.

What Alice Forgot is a really fun Chick Lit book. The premise is that Alice hits her head and does not remember the last 10 years of her life. It is 2008 and she is in the midst of a custody battle over her three children while divorcing her husband. She thinks it is 1998 and she is still pregnant with her first child and still madly in love with her husband. Awkwardness ensues. I liked it a lot and would read more by this author.

Another Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich. I used to really look forward to these, but it is all the same jokes again and they are just starting to really run together in my head. Stephanie never grows up, her situation never changes and I am getting tired of that. There were fun parts, but they are the same situations that we have seen in previous books. So I didn't laugh as much, didn't laugh as hard as in the past. I am getting tired of these.

The Story of Charlotte's Web is about E. B White. I loved it! It is basically a biography, looking at his life and what led him to write his wonderful children's books.

After meeting Amy Ephron on the airplane this month, I read her latest book. It is a collection of essays about her life. Those Ephron sisters (Nora and Delia and Amy) are all so talented and come from such an interesting Hollywood/New York family.

20 books this month

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wild Card: Venice

This is my mom's birthday and in memory of her, I am posting a card that I sent to her in 1997, while I was on vacation in Italy. She had saved all the postcards I sent to her over the years.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Big Bear, CA

Another card from Ryan when he was on his PCT hike. We were often away from each other for weeks at a time and I loved getting postcards from him. He thought he had a lot of snow on the trail in 2010, and there was even more snow this spring! And they have already had snow this winter season as well!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wild Card: Wrightsville Beach, NC

Happy Thanksgiving. This postcard shows one of the houses that I lived in growing up! In this postcard, you can see my Dad's boat on the first dock at Seapath Marina! I had a terrific childhood in North Carolina and I will always be thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leonids at 35,000 feet

One of my favorite perks of my job is the ability to view meteor showers, comets and the northern lights from 35,000 feet! Just this past week, I was able to get an awesome view of the Leonid Meteor Shower. And I will never forget the times I was able to see the Hale-Bopp comet while flying cross-country. The Leonids are associated with the Tempel-Tuttle comet. They get their name because they appear to radiate from the constellation Leo. I was working a redeye flight across the country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia the other night and it was prime viewing time for the Leonids. The Northern Lights are another phenomenon that I really enjoy and living in the continental USA, you usually don't get the opportunity to see them that often, but when you are at 35,000 feet at night, you can get glimpses of stuff that folks on the ground might not be aware of!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Chester, UK

When I got stuck in Manchester in April 2010, during the whole volcano ash incident, I was able to visit this lovely town in England. The city was originally founded by the Romans and it is one of the best preserved walled cities in the British Isles. Plus another of those Now and Then photos that I enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Kauai

The year is 1978 and my parents and my sister and I traveled to Kauai, Hawaii. It was awesome.
I was 12 years old and my previous knowledge of Hawaii was from the Brady Bunch episode where they are cursed by the Tiki and Nancy Drew's adventures finding the Secret of the Golden Pavilion! It was so exotic, it delivered on all my expectations!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Traveling along the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway

As promised, I am blogging about Little House on the Prairie today! Last month, I read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure about her travels to all the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites around the midwest. I was very excited about this book because I had been to those places too! In 1997, I took my Granny on a trip along Highway 14, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway across Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota to see the places depicted in the Little House books.
Our first stop was Pepin, WI and the site of" The Little House in the Big Woods". The woods are no longer there!! Everything must have been cut down long ago. I always imagined a "Black Forest" style forest, but it looks awfully a lot like prairie here now. And the cabin is only a replica.

We stopped to pick up rocks along Lake Pepin just like they do in the books! And Wendy McClure did it too in her travels.

Next stop was Walnut Grove, MN and "On the Banks of Plum Creek". Not much to see here now, but the town does a Wilder Pageant and a Pioneer Festival every year in July. Walnut Grove gets a lot of visitors because of the 70's TV Show starring Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon. In the book, Walnut Grove is not even mentioned. Supposedly Laura explained, "At the time, I did not realize I was writing history."

Our last stop was DeSmet, South Dakota and the site of "Little Town on the Prairie". They have a Pageant that is held every year during the last weekend in June through the first two weekends in July. The Ingalls lived in the surveyor's house as depicted in "The Long Winter". At the Homestead site, there are 5 cottonwood trees that were originally planted by Charles Ingalls. One is in the foreground of this postcard photo!
Laura lived on this homestead from age 13-18 and it was in DeSmet that Laura met and married Almanzo Wilder. The homestead that she and Almanzo established (in the book "The First Four Years") is just 1.4 miles North of DeSmet and a historical marker there honors Rose Wilder Lane, their daughter.
My Granny and I had a wonderful time visiting all these places and I highly recommend it as a family vacation destination! We flew in and out of Minneapolis, MN and had a rental car and stayed in Bed and Breakfasts the whole time, but there are also lots of camping options as well, and motels like Super 8 and Days Inn along the way.
When I would take my Granny on vacation, I would create a scrapbook for her with all the photos and postcards and brochures that we picked up along the way. So that is how I have all this information at my fingertips today. We did the trip in August and missed all the pageants. I had a book called Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William Anderson to help me plan the trip.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Stockholm

Oh, how I love this place. I was flying here in 2009 and didn't know how lucky I was and we stopped serving Stockholm. I would love to go back sometime and spend a lot more time exploring this wonderful country.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New Year's Resolution: October Update

This photo is of a piece of art in front of the Denver Public Library. Did not have a ton of time for reading in October. We spent a good portion of our time painting and remodeling the new condo and moving, so I often would collapse in bed too exhausted to even pick up a book.

Here are the books I read in October:

A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen (library)
The Gardener Heist by Ulrich Boser (library)
Mule by Tony D'Souza (library)
Fear Less by Gavin De Becker (library)
The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
Garnet Hill by Denise Mina (library)
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce (library)
Iron House by John Hart (library)
Long Gone by Alafair Burke (library)
Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin (library)
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure (library)
The Girl who fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow (library)
Malled by Caitlin Kelly (library)
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (library)

A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion is a fictionalized account of the true life murder that was the inspiration for Double Indemnity (book and movie) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (book and movie). I enjoyed it quite a lot!

The Gardener Heist is about the theft of $500 million worth of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. I have visited the museum and seen the empty frames where the artwork used to be. So I was very interested in this story.

Mule is about a man who is hit hard by the recession and becomes a drug trafficker to make ends meet. If you like the Showtime series Weeds, then you ought to check out this book. It is very much about a guy who is "NOT A DRUG DEALER" getting involved in the drug trade and finding out that he has a talent for it.

Fear Less by Gavin De Becker. (His book the Gift of Fear is really great.) Fear Less focuses on the fears of terrorism after 9/11. Many people rarely see the effects of 9/11 on our world, or don't even notice them so much. But it totally affected my job and my life, so I found this interesting.

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce, can't wait to read more by this author. This was a creepy surrealistic book about a couple who are trapped in an avalanche, and how they survive. Very good and Stephen King recommends another book by this author called Indigo, so that one is on my TBR list now too.

The Boys of My Youth by JoAnn Beard, I read her "InZanesville" last month and loved it. So I am now reading everything that she has written. This is a collection of autobiographical essays and once again, I was sad to see it come to an end. I could read her stuff all day long.

Garnet Hill is a mystery/psychological thriller set in Glasgow, Scotland. A woman having an affair with a therapist (but not her therapist) finds him dead in her apartment and she is a suspect in the murder. Kind of dark, the characters are not cracking many jokes in this one, but an enjoyable read if you like this kind of of Minette Walters, Kate Atkinson etc. might want to try Denise Mina.

Long Gone is a thriller much like the movie starring Liam Neeson, "Unknown". A girl finds a perfect job in an art gallery and one day comes in to find a body. It turns out that everything she thought about her life was a lie. The art gallery, her boss, it was all a set up for this murder....I quite enjoyed it.

Iron House is a thriller by John Hart, he was recommended to me. And it was pretty good, but I did not like the female characters. I was very annoyed by one of them and hoped that she would be killed off, so I did not have to read about her spineless whining anymore. I don't know if I will read any more by him, perhaps I will give him a chance at a later date.

Heart of the Matter is a chick-lit book by Emily Giffin. She has a huge fan base and authored Something Borrowed, which was made into a movie. This one is a look at infidelity in a marriage, it was okay.

I loved the Wilder Life and I might just have to devote an entire blog entry to it! McClure traces her journeys to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder tourist sights around the country and talks about her fascination and love for the books (and the TV show). Since I dragged my granny to see the sights along the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway across Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota, I was very familiar with much of the book. If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, don't miss this one!!

The Girl who Fell from the Sky was a book about a bi-racial girl who is abandoned by her (black) father when her (white) mother commits suicide. She is sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Portland, OR. I enjoyed this look at the bi-racial experience.

Malled is about the retail life much like "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Caitlin Kelly also had a lot of information from Paco Underhill, the author of "Why We Buy: the science of shopping". I used to work retail and what I do now is not that much different from retail. I always like this subject matter.

The Lying Game: I said that I was not going to read another Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars book, but this is a stand alone title about a twin who is murdered and the twin who takes over her life. Sounds a lot like a certain Sarah Michelle Geller TV show called Ringer that is currently airing.

Only 14 books read in October.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Big Moose Lake, NY

This is an antique postcard and was not sent by any one I know. I just like the story behind it.
In the spirit of Halloween, this postcard has a murder attached to it. The Glenmore Lodge on Big Moose Lake was the setting of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, based on a true murder which took place there in 1906. An American Tragedy was made into the movie A Place in the Sun with Elizabeth Taylor. Another good book about this story is A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Puerto Rico

Love the layovers in Puerto Rico. Again, great food. Look at all the fruit in this photo! Back in the day, the hotel van would stop at a little diner for us to pick up food to take onto the airplane with us, but I don't think they are allowed to do this anymore. Oh well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Olympia, WA

Closer to home, this is the waterfront in Olympia, WA. Great shopping and eating, (try the Oyster House) and quirky artwork! Each piece of art on Olympia's mile-long, waterfront Percival Landing boardwalk has a red sign noting a phone number you can call from your cell phone for a recorded message about the piece. How cool is that?!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Penang

Here is another Postcard from my Dad in 1992. He had a layover in Penang. Great Seafood he says. I haven't visited, but it is on the list!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wild Card: Gibraltar

Happy Birthday to my friend Jenny! This "wild" card is from a trip I took to visit her when she lived in Spain. We went to see Gibraltar and do some grocery shopping :-)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Intercourse, PA

There is a letterbox or two or three in this town!! I have visited the Amish Country in PA several times, once for a Nancy Drew convention (anyone remember The Witch Tree Symbol?)

Friday, September 30, 2011

New Years Resolution 2011: September Update

A photo of me reading while on vacation at Warner Springs Ranch in California last year.

The books I read in September:

The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald (library)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (library)
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (library)
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (library)
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (library)
Buried Prey by John Sandford (library)
The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen (library)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (library)
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (library)
In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard (library)
Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff (library)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (library-the Lydia Davis translation)
Mockingbird: A portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
Deadly Housewives ed. by Christine Matthews (short stories)
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (library)
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson (library)
Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go by George Pelecanos
The Four Million and other stories by O. Henry (short stories)
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (library)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children read a lot like a YA novel. (I saw it in Barnes and Noble in the Young Adult section, so I guess it IS a YA novel!!) Young Boy adrift... his parents don't understand him, his grandfather ( who he idolizes and loves) dies under mysterious circumstances and he must find the truth of what is going on and in the process discovers things about himself ( strengths that he did not know he had, etc.) It is totally set up for sequels also. I would love to find out what happens next.

Pretty Little Liars, more YA, this one was made into a TV series and is the start of a series of 8 books. I don't know if I will read more of them....maybe. And I don't have any interest in seeing the TV show either.

Want to go Private? Again with the YA theme (Young Adult for those who have been wondering what YA means). This one is every parent's nightmare, and pretty disturbing to read if you have kids I imagine. From the point of view of a 14 year old with poor self esteem. She is groomed by a pedophile in an online chat room and ends up running away from home with him. A formerly straight A student, supposedly the Smart One in the family. Want to Go Private tells the whole story from the young girl's seduction by the pedophile to her friends and family feeling guilty for not seeing the signs that she was vulnerable to this kind of predator. Very serious subject matter, I would think great for book clubs and moms to read with their daughters (and sons).....

Buried Prey is the latest in the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford. If you read these, you know that Davenport is now in his 50's and has a wife and a couple of kids. So it is getting kind of odd having him run around on no sleep, beating up the bad guys and then have him come home in time for dinner with the wife and kids. Sandford solves this problem by having most of this book exist as a flashback to Davenport's early days on the police force when he was the kick-butt king and a crazy womanizer to boot. The Prey novels are generally about serial or spree killers and this one is no exception. The bodies of two young girls are found, that had been buried for 20 years. Davenport was a young cop on the case 20 years ago and was never satisfied with the outcome of the case. Now he gets the chance to revisit the crime and finally solve all the loose ends to his satisfaction, running down the serial killer who got away with it.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is about a researcher who dies in the Amazon and his colleague who goes searching for the truth about his death. The research team in the Amazon has found a tribe of women who never go through menopause. They continue to have babies into their 60's and 70's. A major drug company is funding the project to study this tribe and find the secret to their fertility. The project is shrouded in secrecy and the head of the research team never wants any contact with the outside world, other than taking the money that the drug company provides for their work. This book reminded me a lot of stuff like Hot Zone by Richard Preston or some of Michael Crichton's stuff. So if you like that kind of thing, you might pick this one up.

The Summer of the Bear is the story of a family whose diplomat father dies mysteriously during the Cold War. They have retreated to the mom's childhood home on a lonely island in the Hebrides. It was kind of depressing. Lots of stark, cold war imagery and their retreat to a remote Scottish Island does not bring them together after the death of the father, but seems to isolate them from each other as well as from the rest of the world.

The Tragedy of Arthur has an interesting premise. The protagonist (Arthur) is given a previously unheard of, unknown Shakespeare play by his father. (The Tragedy of Arthur)This is a coup for the publishing and theater world. However, Arthur's father is a conman and forger who spent most of his life in jail. Does Arthur trust that this could be a real Shakespeare or is it just another incredible forgery from his conman dad? An interesting read if you are a fan of Shakespeare. The entire play, The Tragedy of Arthur is included!!

InZanesville, was one of those books where I did not want it to end, I just wanted to go on living in that world that the author had created. It is a coming of age story, much like Are you there God, It's Me Margaret. Just a slice of 1970's life in a small town in Illinois from the eyes of a 14 year old girl. I loved it and am going to read more by this author. Maybe it spoke to me because I was that age in the 70's? There is a nice Nancy Drew reference for you Nancy Drew fans!!

Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I had been waiting to read Rob Lowe's memoir ever since I read an excerpt in Vanity Fair Magazine. Quite enjoyed it and now have to dig out my DVD's of About Last Night, Outsiders, Oxford Blues and St. Elmo's Fire

Lost in Shangri-la is another story of WWII survival. Very entertaining. A group of WAC's and service men on an aerial sightseeing tour over the New Guinea jungle crash and there are only 3 survivors. Their story of their encounters with the native tribes (known for their violence) and their rescue by paratroopers (FilipinoAmericans!) is the basis of this book. There are lots of great photos of these true life events.

Madame Bovary, a favorite classic that I have already read a couple of times. This translation by Lydia Davis is very nice. If you are a fan of the book you should definitely try this translation.

Mockingbird is a biography of Harper Lee. I found it interesting. I might be the only English Major in the world who doesn't love To Kill A Mockingbird. I think it is okay, but not something that I want to read again and again. Not that fond of the movie either.

Deadly Housewives is a collection of short stories by mystery writers, featuring housewives. Some of my favorite writers are represented. Sara Paretsky, Nevada Barr, and Nancy Pickard

The Year We Left Home is a nostalgic novel. Great for those of us who have Protestant Work Ethic and Guilt about leaving our hometowns and doing something different than what our families expected. It follows a Lutheran, Iowa farm family from the 1970's til present day as the siblings grow up, change, move away, stay at home, and deal with their family. I enjoyed it because I identified with it.

George Pelecanos writes thrillers/mysteries set in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. He is most famous as a writer for The Wire on HBO. I like his stuff and read it from time to time. This one had a great mystery and features an alcoholic detective in DC.

The O Henry short story collection was great, it contains The Gift of the Magi which is always a favorite and of course we love O Henry because he is from North Carolina!

Going along with my theme of reading English WWI-WWII era fiction here is another one. The Return of Captain John Emmett is a mystery set in Post WWI England. I'm only part of the way through and will finish it tonight. For fans of Ian Rutledge and Maisie Dobbs, you might want to put this one on your list as well.

19 books read (reading)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Graceland

Whenever I say the word, Graceland, I hear that Paul Simon song in my head. But of course, it is the touristy home of Elvis Presley. I visited during a Memphis layover early during my flight attendant career. 1989

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Costa Rica

This card is from a 1990 trip that I made to Costa Rica with my sister and parents. Unfortunately, this was the best view we ever got of the volcano. We drove up to view it, but the fog never lifted and we could barely see a few feet in front of our faces. We were there during the rainy season and had pretty dismal weather the whole visit. I went back to Costa Rica in 2002 with Ryan and hit the rainy season again!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Manzanar

If you are not familiar with this period in American History, then you really need to read up on the Japanese Internment during World War II. Manzanar was one of several internment camps around the country. There is a wonderful museum there, I highly recommend visiting. Plus it is really a gorgeously stark landscape as you can see from the postcard.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wild Card: Pittsburgh, PA

On 9/11/2001 I was on a layover in Pittsburgh, PA. I got stuck there for 5 days while the planes were grounded. But the hotel was wonderful, and the weather was terrific. Not such a bad place to be stuck! You can see the hotel on this postcard :-)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Madison, GA

When I was working in the film business in Atlanta, GA, we went on a location shoot to Madison, GA. I think we actually used the house on the postcard, if I remember correctly. This is the Hunter House and an example of "Gingerbread" Victorian Architecture. And I think the commercial was for mayonaise.

Friday, September 02, 2011

New Years Resolution 2011: August Update

This photo of me is in front of the New York Public Library in Manhattan. I was there in 2003 for a Nancy Drew convention and we visited the Stratemeyer Archives at the library. Lots of interesting information about the creation of the Nancy Drew series and many other children's books by Edward Stratemeyer.

As most of you know, I was participating in the WTA Hike-a-thon during August and I spent a lot of time hiking, when I might have been sitting around reading! A BIG THANK YOU!! to everyone who donated for Washington Trails. Anyway, here is what I read in August:

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb
The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (library)
Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West By Dorothy Wickenden, (library)
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (audiobook)
The Red Door by Charles Todd
Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer (audiobook)
The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker (library)
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (library)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (library)
Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen
Untold Story: A Novel by Monica Ali
The Memory of All That by Katharine Weber (library)
Payback at Morning Peak by Gene Hackman (library)
When the Killing's Done by T. C. Boyle (library)
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb
Darker than Amber by John D. MacDonald (library)
Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie
The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (audiobook)

Bimbos of the Death Sun is a fun murder mystery set at a ComicCon style convention for SciFi/Fantasy fans. I have read this book several times (and the follow up, Zombies of the Gene Pool) and love it every time.

The Masque of the Black Tulip is a continuation of the Pink Carnation series that I started last month. The action moves along during Napoleon's time, but the present day story is yet to be resolved. I will have to read more books in this series to find out what happens to our modern day heroine!!

The House at Riverton was really good. I had watched Season One of Downton Abbey and loved it and this book is very reminiscent of that TV show. The book concerns a great house in England during the time between WWI and WWII. The Upstairs/Downstairs aspect of life was coming to an end with the advent of WWII.

The Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell was great fun and I think I liked it better than her book about the Pilgrims that I read earlier this year, "The Wordy Shipmates".
Assassination Vacation was about her road trip to see sites relating to the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Ryan and I had been to many of the Lincoln sites and I was able to relate to the tourism aspect of poking around cemeteries and whatnot. Plus I learned a bunch about Garfield and McKinley that I was not aware of before! I think Garfield is now my favorite president. Just because he loved to read and he made a wonderful commencement speech at a college graduation extolling the value of leisure time!!! What a guy! I listened to this as a book on tape because I was spending so much time driving to trailheads this month for the Washington Trails Hike-a-thon. Sarah Vowell reads the book and her voice is high and squeaky like David Sedaris. Sometimes I would think it was an 8 year old girl reading to me! I wasn't sure I would enjoy it, but like David Sedaris, her observations were often quirky and fun, so it turned out alright.

The Red Door by Charles Todd, first of all, Charles Todd is a mother and son who write these books together. They are set in the aftermath of WWI, the same time period as The House at Riverton and the Royal series by Rhys Bowen. So I have been reading tons about that time period in England. The protagonist of The Red Door is Ian Rutledge who has returned from the war and is plagued with "shell shock" We get to see how this is effecting him, his personal life and his job (he is a police inspector). And these Charles Todd books are mysteries, my favorite, if you haven't figured that out already.

Nothing Daunted was great fun. Two society girls from New York State travel to Colorado to teach school. It is a true story and a wonderful look at that time in the "wild west". (early 1900s) I think the author did a great job of bringing this story to life. It could have been really dry and boring. It reminds me of bits of the Anne of Green Gable series when she goes off to teach school in those small one room school houses.

Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer is the tale of George Mallory, the mountaineer who may have summited Everest before Hillary. It is a fictionalized account of Mallory's life and what led him to Everest. I listened to this one as a book on tape, while driving to trailheads for hike-a-thon this month.

The Watery Part of the World, I thought I was going to like this one, it is set in NC along the Outer Banks and has some interesting true history interwoven into the story, and it is pretty compact, around 250 pages. But I just could not get interested in the characters. The only reason I even finished the book and did not throw it down was it was the only thing I had to read on my flight to work the other evening. It was this or the USAirways magazine and the USAirways magazine only occupies me for about 30 minutes and that is if I do the suduko. So I do not recommend it. (this book or the USAirways magazine!)

Divergent by Veronica Roth was a great YA book, much like the Hunger Games. So I can't wait for the next ones in this series. I must say, I liked the Hunger Games series and this, Divergent much better than Twilight, maybe because not so much romance --although there is a little bit of romance, but Twilight was just all about Edward and how gorgeous he was all the time, Ugh--that got old fast. These definitely have more "girl power" in them.

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen: Another of the Royal series by Rhys Bowen, this time Georgie is in Transylvania! Vampires?! Now I have to wait for Ms. Bowen to finish another book as this is the last of the series to be published!!

Untold Story: A Novel by Monica Ali is a fantastic premise, what if Princess Diana faked her death and has been living a normal life in the USA after plastic surgery? I totally enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Unfamiliar Fishes is another book by Sarah Vowell, this one is about Hawaii from the time the missionaries arrived to annexation by the USA. Very funny and interesting and I learned a lot of the history of Hawaii that I did not know before!!

Payback at Morning Peak by Gene Hackman, Yes, THAT Gene Hackman, "American Film Icon" as it says on the back of the book. If you like westerns, you will enjoy this one. It is a classic formula western. But nicely done. It did not suck (my new catch phrase)

When the Killing's Done by T. C. Boyle was a good book too. Environmentalists clash over the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. This is fiction and I just love Boyle's descriptive passages. She was describing a ship wreck in the beginning of the book and it was making me seasick just reading it!! The colors of the landscape, the smells, sounds, the feelings in the air are all made very real by his prose.

More Agatha Christie and John D. MacDonald, always good.

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a ghost story and very spooky. Lots of hours in the car this month back and forth to trailheads! :-)

Only 19 books read this month, but I hiked 50 miles, went on my first ever backpack overnight and raised $1250 for the Washington Trails Association.

Monday, August 29, 2011

If you are waiting til the last minute!!

For those folks who have been promising to donate something to Washington Trails, but just haven't gotten around to it yet, I just got this message from the WTA. Pledges made on Wednesday, August 31st will be MATCHED!

This week's fundraising tip: Your pledges go twice as far with a match!
Thanks to a group of generous donors, pledges made on August 31st will be matched dollar-for-dollar for the first $2,500 donated online that day!
So you know all those folks who said they would sponsor you but just haven't gotten around to it yet?? Well now's their chance to push you twice as far! (We'll take care of the matching dollars on our end as they will not be reflected in your fundraising thermometers.)

All pledges and forms must be received by the WTA office no later than September 9.

I was able to hike for 2 miles along the Alki trail between errands on Sunday, between grocery shopping, hardware store, storage unit etc.

Then on Monday, I did 2 miles on the White River Trail in Auburn and another 2 miles on the Green River/Cedar River Trail in Maple Valley. Finding 11 letterboxes on both days!

Tuesday I have an appointment to get my hair cut, etc. So I hope I can get a mile in or I might just be out there at the last minute on Wednesday hiking 4 miles to make my goal!!

So far we have raised $1, 175 and I have hiked 46 miles!! Only 2 days left and only 4 more miles for me to reach my 50 mile goal!!

You can still support Ryan and me with our hike-a-thon for Washington Trails Association. The website will be accepting pledges through September 9th.
Our Team Page
Amanda's Page
Ryan's Page

Monday's Postcard: Ireland

This is from a layover in 2005 in Shannon, Ireland. I had just read 'Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks and was wishing I could spend more time in this country. Always a favorite place to spend time!

We have been making great progress on our WTA Hike-a-thon. But we still need your help! Check out our WTA fundraising pages
Our Team Page
Amanda's Page
Ryan's Page
and make a donation. It's not too late we can take credit card donations up until September 9th!! Keep Washington's Trails open and hikeable!!