Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Salon: One for the books

 And I'm not talking about the good kind of books that we read and love.  This week was one that about caused me to lose my mind.  I know I always say things like that, and I know I tend to get on here and complain.  But this is what is going on in my life, and I've gotta share.

Bear in mind that Thursday we left for Savannah for spring break.  Which is good!  And I'll get to that.  But Monday through Wednesday was enough.  LOL.

One of our cats got sick...upper respiratory infection, so vet appointment and meds and cash.  It's always fun giving cats meds!  On this same day, my daughter's school went on lockdown because of an armed suspect nearby, at the same time as a violent storm blew through, at the same time that my son had to get to a volleyball game.  The pool broke (specifically the thing that makes salt into chlorine), and I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I had to do some emergency stuff to it to keep it from getting green while we were gone. We had a follow-up appointment for my son and his tests, and it was determined that he is allergic to cow's milk.  Now, he doesn't drink milk or eat yogurt, mayo or sour cream, so this basically affects his intake of cheese, Italian food, butter and chocolate.  It bums him out but is much better than a gluten intolerance.  We had a bit of insanity, though, in his trying to get caught up with schoolwork before spring break, as he has missed so much throughout this ordeal.  I also worked the Adult Literacy League's fundraiser "Reading Between the Wines".  I was lucky to get there, dressed, with my lipstick on, but it was successful and it was enjoyable to hear Stuart Woods speak.

This all happened Monday through Wednesday.  However, the ultimate thing that completely freaked me out happened Tuesday night.  A car was driving aggressively on our street, passed another car, clipped it but kept driving, lost control and hit our wall at the entrance to our driveway.  It flipped over on its side, and the two occupants had to be removed through the roof of the car with the jaws of life.  Both people ended up dying...a terrible thing.  The story now is that the man (the driver) was having complications from a colonoscopy and was driving himself to the hospital (his wife was with him but couldn't drive at night).  I ran out when I saw the emergency vehicles, and it was a sight that I'll never forget.  I didn't sleep well for a couple of nights.  Now I have to figure out how to get our brick wall fixed.  Here is a picture from one of the news stations.   

ANYWAY, when these things happen, you have to count your blessings, right?  Suffice it to say, I couldn't get out of town fast enough.  I was starting to get heart palpitations.

We love Savannah.  My husband and I have visited before, but the kids have never been.  As always, we explore on foot.  It is the best way to really get a feel for a place.  We've probably walked 30 miles since we arrived (yesterday alone we hit nearly 30,000 steps).  We've had a lot of rain, but whatever.  It is all about the historic houses, the food, the ghosts, and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" landmarks.    

We have rented a house while we are here, with a pull-down movie screen in the living room, so we've been catching up on our Game of Thrones (one more episode to finish Season 3)!   We did a ghost tour last night, and this morning we are going to attend Easter service at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia.  Tomorrow we will head out for a few days to Sea Island.

So.  I'm halfway through "The Expats"!  I'll get there eventually.  And I listened to a little more of "The Iron Curtain" on audio.  After being blown away by Wally Lamb's "We Are Water" on audio, this non-fiction audio filled with facts about Europe post-WWII is tough.  My husband is listening to it in his car at the same time, so it is fun to get his reaction since he and his family lived through Soviet occupation.

Hope you all have a blessed Easter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Salon: Marking Time

 I'm back for another week!  I'm alive!  Can't say it was a pleasurable week, but it is done.  My son got through this procedures and the doctor seems to think he is suffering from severe food allergies, exact offending foods TBD.  We will have an appointment next week and will learn our fate.  In the meantime, we have cut out dairy (he had dairy issues as a child) and he seems to be feeling better.  Let's just all say a little prayer it isn't gluten.  All he eats is gluten.

A close friend of mine lost her father this week to Alzheimer's.  As I lost my grandmother.  Horrible disease.  My thoughts were with her.

I'm not an allergic person.  I can hang with cats, dogs, guinea pigs, shellfish and peanuts.  But good LORD I had my issues this week.  I cannot breathe, and my head feels like it will explode!  It made me just want to nap and hide, and slog through the week.

I've been continuing my TV series binging.  Finished HBO's first season of True Detective (this is one of the best series I've seen, right behind Breaking Bad).  I'm close to catching up on The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  Someone highly recommended The Wire.  I feel like I need to put a few of these others to rest first!

We've also been glued to The Masters.  Someday I'd love to go.  I suspect that is all we will be doing tomorrow, as it is the final day.

Our spring break is late this year.  It starts this coming Thursday, and we are going to Savannah and a little place called Sea Island.  It can't come soon enough.  I'm just marking time until then.

I really don't read much any more.  I don't comment much on blogs any more either...I'm just distracted.  I'll get back to my routine soon hopefully.  I did finish "The Troop" by Nick Cutter, finally.  What should have been a two day read was about two weeks.  The book was gross and fast-paced, truly a double dog dare for those that like that kind of challenge.  Now I'm back to "The Expats" again.  I'm determined to finish it.  Someday.

Audio is a little better.  I jumped into Wally Lamb's newest release "We Are Water" for book club next month.  I'd heard this was not up to his usual excellence, but from my point of view (I only have one more disc left out of 19) this is an incredible novel.  It has about 40 discussion topics which is...AMBITIOUS to say the least, but from an audio perspective, it is amazing.  Some of the best narration I've heard in recent times.

My daughter and I did our animal shelter duties yesterday (our offsite adoption event placed three dogs in homes - yay!), so today should be fairly uneventful.  Church, grocery shopping and The Masters.  Maybe a quick episode of something, maybe a little reading if I can focus!  Hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing Sunday.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Salon: April hole

 Morning folks!  Are they any of you left out there?  Maybe a few.  Well April has arrived, which means it is time for me to find a hole and sit in it for awhile.  Like Toru in his well in "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle".  Just so you know, this is a normal April activity for me.  I tend to hide away, avoiding contact and interaction because I'm sick of things.  I get over it.  But if it seems like I'm not commenting or communicating, please don't take it personal.  It is just a thing I do.

The son is still having stomach issues, to the point where I had to go in and explain it to the principal because of missed days.  Which is frankly making me a nervous wreck.  But we've got procedures and tests this week, results the following week, and 27 days of school left in this place where he has been since he was 2 1/2.  It will be over soon.  We won't discuss the details of making up the work when the child in question has "senior-itis".  You understand that I'm on my last nerve.  Husband says I've been acting weird.  Yeah.

The husband was out of town, there were some doctor appointments and a funeral, all things that provided negative distraction.  Luckily I have been completely obsessed with my newly-discovered TV series...still catching up on Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Walking Dead, and just recently True Detective.  I convinced my husband that it was medically necessary that we get HBO so we will have immediate access to new Game of Thrones once we finish the third season.  (Which is how I got access to True Detective, which stars Matthew McConaughy and Woody Harrelson and is BRILLIANT.) So.

I've kinda forgotten what a book is.  I started Chris Pavone's "The Expats" but couldn't focus so I picked up Nick Cutter's "The Troop" and I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  Easy reading and REALLY GROSS (in the best way) but I've not spent much time even trying to read in print.

On audio I got about 10 discs into Anne Applebaum's "The Iron Curtain", and it is fascinating but SOOOOO much detail it felt like my head was going to explode.  My husband is listening to it in the car, so I decided to let him catch up with me.  In the meantime, I started another long one, Wally Lamb's "We Are Water" for next month's book club.  So far this is an incredibly narrated audio.

Yesterday I attended my fourth UCF Book Festival here in town with Heather from Book Addiction.  This event was quite the thing a few years ago, but it seems they have cut back on the number of authors and Heather and I were only bloggers in attendance.  So a bit anti-climatic.  We heard and met Chris Pavone, author of "The Expats" and recently "The Accident".  He is a new author and has found great success, but I must say he digressed way off the path in his talk and wasn't all that chatty one-on-one.  Wouldn't blame him if he was bummed at the turnout, honestly.  The real highlight of the day was listening to Andre Dubus III, author of a number of books but notably "The House of Sand and Fog", who was the keynote speaker.  He has had quite the life and was incredibly impressive.  He was mesmerizing and charming.  I now want to read his entire backlist.

Not much on the agenda today except a kitty adoption event at the local Petco from 12-4, and church.  Maybe I'll find enough focus to finish "The Troop", or then again maybe I'll just binge some more on series streaming.  Anything exciting happening in your neck of the woods today?  


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Salon: No Reading for the Obsessed

 So apparently there will be no reading for me until I've caught up with my TV binging.  When it's just my husband and I of an evening, we watch House of Cards (halfway through the 2nd season).  When my son joins the fray, we watch Game of Thrones (2 episodes away from end of second season).  And at all other times of my life, I am trying to get caught up on The Walking Dead (will finish season 2 today).  Says the person who never used to watch TV at all.  I've never imagined such entertainment.  I'm not sure if I will ever get caught up enough to be current, but I'm giving it my best.  Now if I could just find someone to share their HBO code with me to round things off...

Besides this serious distraction, I'm still dealing with sick kids. Specifically my son, whose health has now escalated to the point where I had to take him to a pediatric gastro.  Lots of fun testing coming up with that one.  I just hope we can get the answers we need to allow him to live a normal life sometime soon.

My neighbor, a guy who has been in poor health for as long as I've known him, passed this week.  He was his wife's caregiver, however, and his presence will devastate his family.  I have no idea how this will all affect our little three-house neighborhood.

So all of that plus volleyball, doctor appointments, and my husband's upcoming out of town trip to an annual convention has left me wildly distracted. I'm generally able to play an audio, but reading just IS NOT HAPPENING!

On audio, I finished "A Burnable Book" by Bruce Holsinger.  This was not the book I'd hoped for.  It was set in the middle ages, and while I love a good mystery, the language, the complicated plot and the real-life characters left me in the dust.  Hey, I finished it but I consider it an ineffective use of 14 hours of my time, despite Simon Vance's amazing narration.  I then launched into the 25-disc tome "Iron Curtain:  The Crushing of Eastern Europe" by Anne Applebaum.  This one may take me awhile but I find it fascinating, since my in-laws and husband lived through communism in Eastern Europe, and was nearly crushed themselves.

Print was a whole different matter.  I could not focus.  I got through about 30 pages of "The Expats" by Chris Pavone, in preparation for his arrival at the UCF Book Festival next weekend.  Uhhh, well, no.  I'm sure it is great, and I promise I will return to it.  So I hopped on over to "The Troop" by Nick Cutter, a nail-biting gross-fest, but I've made little progress on that too.  I just...need to finish Walking Dead.  Then I'll read.

I did go see "Divergent" with my daughter, despite the fact that the media over-saturated me with previews.  I liked the book well enough.  It was pretty two-dimensional, but loved Tris's fighter mentality and the chemistry between her and Four.  The director delivered these things in the movie, and therefore my expectations were met.  It isn't going to win any awards, but it is entertaining and the actor that plays Four is smoking hot.  I'm hoping that maybe my son and I will zip out today to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel", the latest masterpiece by Wes Anderson.  That is what I am really excited about.

So will I make progress with "The Troop" today?  Maybe.  I don't have much planned.  Let's hope for the best.    

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Wolf made me do it

 Good morning, my lovelies.  I seriously had to sit here and think hard about my past week before I wrote it all down.  It wasn't necessarily a pleasurable one for sure.  Every day but Wednesday I had a kid home sick, plus I had the crud as well.  I had a female doctor appointment with a bit of unpleasantness.  About 50 tons of pollen falling from the trees, resulting in not only red eyes and sneezing but daily yard and pool labor.  The air conditioner upstairs blew out.  Blah.

So it may not shock you to hear that I only made it two weeks into the "no alcohol" Lenten sacrifice (hanging head in shame).  Yeah well, it just wasn't happening.  I gave up Diet Coke instead.  The final straw in my whole undoing this week was a rather incredible but disturbing reading adventure with Mo Hayder's upcoming release "Wolf" (coming in May).  She is amazing, this women, but she is SICK AND TWISTED.  And I love it.  But it was the last straw.  So sue me.  After I finished it, I quickly plucked "The Expats" by Chris Pavone from my shelves, in preparation for his arrival at our local book festival in a couple of weeks.  But I've not progressed with it.  I'm still too..unsettled from "Wolf".  So I'll blame Hayder for my weakness.

On audio I finished Laura Lippman's "After I'm Gone", which was a little quieter than I thought it would be, but was great storytelling, with good discussable plotting, and a satisfying ending.  I also finished "This Dark Road to Mercy" by the most incredible Wiley Cash, which was also quieter than his previous novel and great storytelling.  I'm now about halfway through "A Burnable Book" by Bruce Holsinger, narrated by Simon Vance, yo.  However I am not digging this audio at all.  The only thing that is keeping me in the game is Simon.  I hope it turns around here soon, or I will have wasted 12 hours of my life.

Speaking of Simon, I need to just mention, because you know I feel that audio narrators are ROCKS GODS, that my son went to Megacon this weekend here in town.  (In case you aren't aware, this is a celebration of geekdom in the best way, with all stuff involving graphic novels, TV shows, movies and video games.)  ANYWAY, my dear child scored an autograph from Wil Wheaton because he knows I love him.  Because Wil is an audio rock god, among fifty other reasons to love that man.  My son told him that his mama loved him.   I thought it was pretty cool.

While he was rubbing elbows with Wil and the cast of the Walking Dead and a badass from Assassins Creed, my hubby and I were at the Bay Hill golf tournament, which was fun.  Adam Scott IS a talk drink of water.  We won't discuss how we were trying to find our car and ended up walking like five miles because "someone" has a bad sense of direction.  Details.  I just know "someone" owes me a foot rub.

Besides church today, there is nothing on the schedule. NOTHING.  Maybe I'll get a running start on "The Expats".  Lay by the pool with pollen falling gently down into my hair like delicate flakes of snow.  Hope everyone has a relaxing day of reading.  What is everyone up to?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Salon: Girls Weekend

 Happy weekend everyone!  We had a normal week in the Nawrot house, and normal is good.  My parents left to go back to the cold, unforgiving North (from the 80's to the middle of yet another snow storm, go figure), which is a sign that spring is upon us.  Both my son and daughter chose their classes for next year, which is always cause for discussion and debate.  I golfed on Thursday.  Weather was gorgeous.

I just have to make a comment about my daughter's birthday dinner on Sunday night at Victoria and Albert's (at the Grand Floridian Resort at Disney).  Not something you want to do more than once or twice in a lifetime, but it really was incredible.  They wait on you hand and foot, seven courses of taste explosions in your mouth, and they even offer the women cashmere shawls to borrow if it is too chilly.  It is first class, an an event you should try if you can.

We continue the birthday celebration this weekend.  (Trust me, this ongoing extravagance isn't routine, but she DID turn 16.)  She had Friday off, so she and I did some shopping, then went to Downtown Disney and had lunch and saw Frozen.  On Saturday we went to the spa, then spent a night at Disney Caribbean Beach Resort.  Just to get away.  (The boys went to North Florida to see a rodeo and drag racing - woo hoo!).  It was a nice relaxing time, with a few hours by the pool and some good reading.

As far as reading goes, I finished "The Wicked Girls" by Alex Marwood, which I LOVED.  So twisted and full of conflicting emotions!  This book was one of Stephen King's "best books of 2013" and for good reason.  I'm now about a hundred pages into "Wolf", the new Mo Hayder, which was sent to me by the dear Michele Jacobsen of "Reader's Respite" who got her hands on the ARC.  Can't even tell you how damn excited I am to read this.

On audio I listened to "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore", a charming little book that was made for geeky modern-day bibliophiles.  I am now near the finish of Lippman's latest called "After I'm Gone".  It isn't quite what I was expecting, but is good storytelling.

Besides church and a shelter adoption event today, I'm not sure what else will be going on.  Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Four days down...

Good morning friends!  Don't you just LOVE it when you lose an hour of your life to the time change?  Bah.  The only upside is that you can squeeze in a late golf game on Sunday afternoon.  Other than that, it sucks.

It also sucks that for the third year in a row, I've given up alcohol for Lent (which started Wednesday).  Yes, I could give up Diet Coke or sweets or cursing.  But I have found that it is truly good for my soul and my diet to dry myself out for 40 days.  A real test of the will.  Having two teenagers in the house doesn't really lend itself to an easy journey however.  Ask my BFF, who after two years of accompanying me in this sacrifice, hung her head this year and said "I just can't do it.  I'm giving up sweets".  36 more days to go.

On to things that do not suck.  Did everyone catch the Oscars last Sunday night?  I think Ellen should have a lifetime job of hosting.  I loved her selfies, the pizza delivery, and her little fluffy Glenda the Good Witch outfit.  I was not at all surprised or disappointed by any of those winners.  Everyone that won should have.

The weather down here doesn't suck.  Gorgeous, 70's and 80's and sunshine.

House of Cards and Game of Thrones don't suck.  I am THOROUGHLY addicted to both.  I have not watched a proper movie in ages.  This is how we spend our evenings, quickly snarfing down whatever I make for dinner so we can immerse ourselves in scandal, murder and treachery.  And more than our share of naked boobs.

In the reading department, I finished "This House is Haunted" by John Boyne for book club.  Eh.  There was plenty of good there...creepy characters and house, gothic time period...but the haunting was just a little too overt.  Too much 'splaining, and not enough left to the imagination.  It came across as a little silly and predictable to me.  I just started "The Wicked Girls" by Alex Marwood on my Kindle.  This was a recommendation from Stephen King at some point last year in EW.  I couldn't resist.

On audio, I finally caught up on all my Jack Reacher novels by finishing "Never Go Back", the 18th and latest installment.  I REALLY thought Lee Child was going to change things up in this one, as Jack finally tracks down Ms. Sexy Voice from a few books ago.  But, well, I guess the jury is out.  I also listened to "American Assassin" by Vince Flynn, another badass bit of manfiction that was recommended to me by a badass friend.  It had some corny, predictable moments but I love clever men who are good at hand-to-hand combat.  I have now just started "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan, which is charming so far.

Our Sunday is going to fly by, with church, four hours at the animal shelter, and my daughter's birthday dinner at Disney. I vote that weekends be three days long.