Posts Tagged With: books

bon voyage

YBW and I are at the airport waiting for our flight.

Can you guess which coffee is which?
I’ll give you a hint…I don’t take cream.

We just arrive at the gate.
I’m going to journal for a hot second then crack open the first book. He’s going for a walk.

I’m going to miss all y’all! Plesse try not to do anything terribly interesting while I’m gone!
See you in three weeks! ❤

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October gratitude

As I look back on October, it was chock full, and I have much to be grateful for.

While this may not be what I’m most grateful for, I can assure I am most excited about it.
My Washington Nationals winning the World Series!
Those seven games were something to behold! Winning four away games, losing three home games. We laughed. We cried. We were ready to admit defeat. We literally jumped for joy when we won game seven! This post season was some of my most emotional baseball, but every moment was worth it!
My baseball bae (third baseman Anthony Rendon) and side bae (first baseman Ryan Zimmerman) celebrating the end of game seven.

Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA

I’m also super grateful for these things:

my acupuncturist
popcorn and coke with YBW at the double feature of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Bobby Flay’s new cookbook
teaching and learning with kindergartners, second, fourth, and fifth graders
celebrating our anniversary (4 years married, 10 years together)
whiskey cocktails at the distillery with Holly
my favorite bookshop, Bards Alley
breakfast with Nora
a visit to Naked Mountain

HGTV’s Rock the Block
going to the movies by myself on a Friday morning
Thing 1, Thing 2, and Baby K here!
cocktails
weird weather
Baby K’s giggle
Halloween as the Mystery Gang

(Thing 1 as Velma, YBW as Freddie, Baby K (in the wagon) as Scooby Doo, Thing 2 as Shaggy, and me as Daphne)
good talks with my girls
celebrating Meredith’s ninth birthday
truly wonderful friends and neighbors
Baby K still smiles when I say, “Birdie loves you, girl!”

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September gratitude

As September closes and we’re still having days in the upper 90s, it’s hard to pay attention to anything, much less what I’m grateful for. But Indian summer or not, I’m aware. And I’m grateful.

finishing my degree
celebrating finishing my degree

one of my alternative healthcare providers twice
my therapist
a truly amazing WHNP-BC who not only has helpful ideas but also really listens
YBW’s and my therapist

Rendon bobblehead even though Nats lost this game

my girls
Friday the 13th
finally going to school and teaching 2nd graders
my big sketch book
the shift in me
colored gel pens
productive conversations with my husband
making real plans for the future
watching Good Omens the second time
Rimmel Scandaleyes Curve Alert Mascara

porchlife drinking vodka lemonade with homegrown basil

Amber (she does my hair)
playing Superfight with Thing C and Girlfriend L
bookshop and lunch with Mike and Josie
celebrating a dear friend and neighbor’s birthday
hitting the game tavern with Nora and Dale
a whole afternoon baking with Holly
one rainy morning

reading books
particularly Daisy Jones and The Six
this line from Daisy Jones and The Six

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book sharing at its finest

Last week, I read a little book called Daisy Jones & The Six.

I will say that I absolutely adored this book. I truly felt as though I was part of this story. I couldn’t put it down. I devoured it in one day.
I mean, sure, it’s written as a series of interviews so it reads easily, like a play, but that’s not what I’m talking about. These characters hooked me from the word go!
This story is my childhood! I was learning about music from my dad during this time, and so much of Daisy Jones, and The Six, and even Daisy’s disco queen friend Simone reminds me of him and the music he shared with me. Especially when Daisy sings Janis Joplin. She was a favorite of my dad’s and mine.

The whole while I was deeply enmeshed in this story, I kept thinking how much Thing 2 would love it.
She’s got a very late 70s vibe about her. While she’s currently committed to Folk Punk music, she’s always been curious about music and loved exploring “old music”. That girl has an old soul, and music from another time somehow just gets to her. Thing 2 is actually a teeny bit Daisy Jones, I think.

When I finished reading, I closed the book and immediately ordered one for Thing 2.

It arrived Tuesday.
She took this pic as she began reading Friday morning.

I was so hopeful it would land with her the way I suspected. That she’d love it as much as I felt she would. I believe this book was written specifically for my second daughter.
Well, I didn’t have to wait too long to find out.

My work here is done.

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“The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Have you read this book by Maria Semple?

I read it.
I enjoyed it.
I loved the way the story is told using correspondence.
I love that the daughter compiled all this correspondence to understand her mother’s story.

My two favorite lines from the book are:
“People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.”
and
“That’s right, you are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

I can relate to Bernadette.
I have shut myself off and stayed cooped up in my house and been the worse off for it.
It seems to me that we need to be aware of the fact that we know only the teeniest portion of any one else’s life. We view and judge everything from our own perspective without stopping to consider there is more to the story.

I took myself to the movies Monday afternoon to see how the film compared to the book.

Yes, there were changes. But I didn’t miss anything that was omitted, and each small change made sense as it drove the plot in a necessary and believable way.
Oftentimes, film adaptations leave me wanting, but I quite liked this one.
I left the theater with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart.
Have you read this book?
Did you see the movie?
Please share your thoughts.

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who’s on your list?

I just read this book called The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle.
On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Sabrina is late to meet her closest friend for dinner. When she arrives at the restaurant, she finds not only her friend Jessica, but, her deceased father, favorite college professor, estranged boyfriend, and Audrey Hepburn.
These guests from the list she wrote at the insistence of her friend when they were nineteen and in their first year of college.
Let’s just say that while wackiness ensues, there is a great deal of love at that dinner table.

Haven’t we all considered the question:
What five people, living or dead, real or imagined, would you invite to dinner?

But how do you really answer it if you know it’s never going to be an actual thing?
Do you just choose randomly?
Does your curiosity drive your list?
Do you create your list based upon unfinished business?
Do you consider things such as, desire to interact with these particular people, but not how they might interact with one another?

I’ve been thinking about how I would create this top five guests list, and I’m noticing it changes with my mood.
For instance, I’ve always wanted Grandaddy to know Thing 1 and Thing 2. I’ve also wanted him to know YBW. But that’s four out of my five guests.
And honestly, I know and love these people so much, it doesn’t really matter if they know each other. Three of them know each other and all of them know/knew me. Perhaps that’s enough.

As I consider this dinner list, I have to ask myself, what’s my motivation?

Perhaps I choose a straight literary guest dinner?
Or film industry folks?
Or musicians?
I mean, picking Billy Wilder’s brain at dinner sounds absolutely wonderful…but do I plan an entire dinner party around that?

What if I choose at random?
Just five humans I’m curious about, you know?
What kind of dinner party does that actually create? That goes back to how my guests would interact with one another. And let’s get real for a moment, that’s an important part of planning a successful dinner party.

So, what if I create a guest list at random? I invite people that fascinate me.
That list could look like this:
Ben Bradlee
Mark Twain
Erin Van Vuren
Rick Bragg’s mama
Grace Kelly

I mean, WTF kind of dinner party is this?
Would these guests get on together?
What would I actually serve these people?
I’d be fangirling about three of them to the point I might actually pee my pants!
Or would I?
Perhaps I’d be lovely and gracious and we could all learn wonderful things from and with each other.

Ha! Let’s get real!
I’d be worried I’m not smart enough to be in the same room with Mark Twain.
Not informed enough to be in the same room with Ben Bradlee.
Not clever enough to be in the same room Erin Van Vuren. Though honestly, I feel like she’s the safest bet.
Not graceful enough to be in the same room with Grace Kelly!
And while I suspect I’m down to earth enough for Rick Bragg’s mama, I feel like she’d judge the food, and that would break my heart.

No, I don’t think I’d enjoy myself at that dinner.
I don’t feel like it would meet my expectations of ‘The List’.
A dinner party should be enjoyable for the hostess as well as the guests.

That’s why I considered it from a different perspective.
Who would I like to talk with and enjoy spending the evening with in a way that suits who I am as a person?
Who might actually enjoy spending time with me, and each other?
Who do I want to connect with on a deeper level than fascination or fangirling?
With whom do I want to drink cocktails and/or wine?

After some serious thought, I present my dinner list:
Alan Cumming
Carol Burnett
Dominique Browning
Nick Drake
Richard Burton

For me, this dinner is an ideal combination of playful, serious, humor, kindness, and darkness.
A dinner party to really sink my teeth into.
I mean, sure, there are people I ‘like’ more, or am a bigger ‘fan’ of, and whatnot, but, this group of people feels at once comfortable and challenging. And I love that!

I’m curious what y’all think of my list.
I’d love to know who’s on your list, and how did you decide?
Is it harder than you expected it to be?

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didja miss me?

Didja miss me?
I missed y’all!
I was silent for longer than I expected!
I was a straight creeper, reading your blogs, even commenting on some, but not writing at all.
After the sadness and grief of leaving Thing 1 and Baby K, I needed time to fit back into this house, this life.

The first week I was home, I saw girlfriends and got my hair did.
I went back for the last two days of school, mostly to say goodbye to students and staff.
We saw our last play of the season at Woolly Mammoth.
I cleared the DVR of HGTV shows that got recorded in the six weeks I was gone.
I finished the third of five books for one of my last five courses, wrote a quick essay about it, and participated in a book discussion.
YBW and I got invited by friends to go to Williamsburg for a couple of days.

I did a great deal of this:

For the most part, the weather has been beautiful! Cooler temps, lower humidity, and good breezes keep me on the porch. When it was hot and humid last week, well, we were in Williamsburg sweating our balls off. But, I was able to come back home to great porch weather and be out there with my books and iced tea.

I knew it would be hard to come home after being with my daughter’s family. And with the exception of some acute sadness and grief the first three hours in the car the day I left, I’m handling it well.
I miss them. I want to be near them.
But we talk frequently. And they’ll be here in less than thirty days!

We sent Baby K an ipad so we can facetime with them.
Yesterday when YBW came home from work, I was facetiming with Thing 1 and Baby K and he got SO excited! But here’s the thing, Baby K got so excited when she saw her Papa YBW’s face, she broke into a HUGE smile!
That girl smiled at her granddad, y’all! She knows what’s up!
She did not smile at me. She pretty much ignored me while I talked to her mom. She did however, look at me when I said, “Birdie loves you, girl.” And she attempted kisses which pretty much turned into her sticking her tongue out at me when I made kisses at her.
God I miss her!
But seeing her is such fun!

Here’s a pic just in case y’all want to see her too!

Gah! Don’t you just want to squeeze this deliciously fat baby!?!

I have a bit more course work to knock out. Two more books, five more annotated bibliographies, a hefty paper, and I’m finished.
I’m eager to tackle my TBR stack!
This summer I’m all about me on the porch with a stack of books.
Bring it.

I missed writing. Sharing my thoughts with you.
But I needed to circle the wagons a bit as I reacclimated myself into my life here.

Since Easter, everything has been all about Baby K. Well, Thing 1 and Baby K. And I’ve absolutely adored every moment of that time. But I’m beginning to realize not everyone is as hype as me. (mais pourquoi pas, je ne peux pas dire)
I’m beginning to remember that life is a bit bigger than that precious baby bubble.

My (summertime) life is farmers market Thursdays and day drinking with Holly. It’s me porchlifing my ass off. It’s books and magazines stacked up near me to pick up when I can. It’s laundry and groceries and Target runs. It’s weekends with friends, and YBW and I having ‘shoot days‘.

I’m gently stepping out of the bubble to embrace my life.
I feel a little out of practice, but I’m a quick study.
It’s easy to want to be in your life when you love it, and y’all, I do love my life!

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the best of places

“You see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places.”
― Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book

Bookshops are really and truly magical.
I’m fortunate to be able to frequent some seriously
Used bookstores are a fascinating combination of the scent of excited humans and the slightly mildewy smell of old paper. One thing I love about them is using mad detective skills while searching. There’s a sort of Indiana Jones feeling about it, never knowing what treasure you’ll find mixed in with dog eared paperbacks.

Right here in Manassas we have McKay’s. Y’all this place! From vinyl to blu ray discs, from board books for babies to fat biographies. McKay’s is our go to for donating and shopping. They’ll take your old books and give you store credit. (Much to Thing 2’s chagrin, you can’t use it to buy vinyl.) They also have this free bin out front, that if you time just right, is filled with the most random collection of books you can imagine. Occasionally I’ll choose some with cool fonts just to use for future projects. As a matter of fact, I have a stack under my work table, waiting for the perfect project.

I don’t get to Capital Hill Books as often as I’d like. But, it’s one of the coolest used bookshops I’ve ever entered. And the truth is one could actually get lost in this shop. Not because of the size, my God, it’s teeny and so packed with books you almost can’t get around them, much less other browsing humans, but because of the sheer volume of merchandise in the store! The owner is knowledgeable but crotchety, so be prepared to ask well thought out questions, he suffers no fools.

Prospero’s Books is here in Old Town Manassas. I don’t really like visiting this shop as much as McKay’s. There’s something about it that feels…well, off, somehow. I’m not sure how to explain it. I always feel like something bad is going to happen when I’m in there. But, it does have that delicious mildewy smell about it, and you know you’re in a building that’s seen a century of life in Manassas. This shop has an excellent first editions section, especially if you’re interested in the American Civil War.

Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, and Page Master Used Books in Front Royal are also good for a look.
In the five points area of Columbia (SC) there’s a little shop called Dr Books. Y’all this store has it’s own kitty! The people who run it have been doing so for a couple of generations. Eight or nine years ago, I was tickled to find a f.e. of Homage to Clio here for less than ten dollars!

Sometimes it’s simpler to get on the internet and search. I buy loads of books from both Abe Books and Alibris.

And while Amazon is handy for online shopping, and and B & N has a in store selection, I’m much more inclined to visit independent booksellers.
I adore Bard’s Alley! Vienna is a quick trip and grabbing a glass of wine and a snack in the bookshop is pretty much Heaven! The ladies here are well read and seriously helpful! I’ve been delighted by the books I’ve picked up in this shop. I swung by recently because I was early for an appointment and had just enough to browse, make a selection, and purchase before arriving on time at my appointment. Sometimes those are the best moments!

Politics and Prose has two locations in DC. The one at the recently revitalized Warf is chock full of great reads, fun little gifties and a knowledgeable and well read staff. They’re displays are playful and interesting. I love that! I think it makes it more of an adventure finding your next read! And I’m all about book adventures! The other location hosts some seriously cool authors on a fairly regular basis.

When spending time with Jessica, a trip to Kiawah to visit Indigo Books is always on the schedule. This shop has a small, but well thought out children’s section. The staff is helpful and can order pretty much anything into the store for pick up. This shop feels more casual than the ones in VA and DC, I mean of course it does! It’s on an island. It’s laid back atmosphere makes you want to search for beach reads and books to spark your imagination, but I’ve found some pretty cool serious reads there too. A mystery book for Thing 1’s Christmas Eve book came from this shop. My girl loves mysteries!

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
Dude knows what’s up.
I love to find my portable magic in these unique spaces!
Where do you get your book on?
What do you love about those spaces?
Let me know in the comments!

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pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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mail from Marie

Sometimes very simple things feel the most exciting!


I received this from children’s book author and illustrator, Marie Letourneau. She wrote and illustrated one of my favorite books.

In March, her new book was released.

I’ve placed my precious bookplates firmly in my books.
and

Thanks, Marie, for your kindness!
I will cherish these precious little gifts always.
I will forever love children’s books.
I will forever be excited at the seemingly small things.

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