Three Countries

Today’s blog prompt asked me to write about three countries I’d like to visit and why.

This is actually kinda hard for me to narrow down.  I mean, can I count Europe as a country?  No?  Alright then.  Well, in no particular order:

Ireland For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to visit the Emerald Isle.  All the green, all the people, all the history…  I know that part of it has to do with me wanting to be more in touch with my roots.  My mother always told me that her father was half Irish and half English.  I don’t know how true it is, but I’ve always felt closer to that side of the family when I’m wearing my Connemara marble jewelry.

France Again this has to do with history, culture and family roots.  We can trace my maternal grandmother’s family back to France, and both paternal grandparents too.  But it’s not just the roots here.  I want to go to the museums, wander around and see all the architecture, and just have that taste of what it is to live in France.

Australia This just looks like a fun place to visit.  The cities mixed with vast open spaces, the adventures, the wine tasting, and those lovely accents.  It would be the memory of a lifetime.

Post-a-day for 2011?

Hmmm…  am I up for this?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I can try, right?

See, WordPress has challenged us to post every day for a year.  They’ll provide the topics and we can use them (or not) for inspiration.  I’ve been doing pretty well at posting regularly, so I’m gonna try for this.  It may not work so well when I’m traveling, but the most important thing is to try, right?  Right.

So, I hereby promise to attempt to post every day in 2011.  Maybe I’ll learn something about myself along the way, ya know?

Want to join me?  Check out the rules here.

Blight

I drive down my city streets and I am mostly embarrassed by what I see:

  • Long boarded up buildings covered in graffiti and overgrown weeds
  • Piles of rubble
  • Muddy roads where streets used to be
  • Pot holes that will swallow your car
  • Day laborers on every corner
  • Opportunists trying every car door as they walk down the street
  • And so much more

This isn’t the city I grew up in.  This is a city that nobody cares about any more.

The roller skating rink closed down when I was a kid.  The property wasn’t sold, leased or redeveloped in any way.  It was left vacant for almost 20 years.  Each year it looked a little sadder, a little droopier, a little more neglected.  Inevitably squatters came in and set fires in garbage cans to keep themselves warm at night.  Three years ago it burned down.  There has been a pile of rubble in its place since then.

The bowling alley closed down about 5 or 6 years ago.  It’s not that it wasn’t turning a profit, it’s just that the original owner gave it to his son who decided that he didn’t want to “bother” with it any more.  He tried to sell the building and the land.  It has been vacant ever since.  Well, vacant if you ignore the prostitutes, drug dealers and vagrants who call that property their home base.

I often wonder if I’m looking back at the city I grew up in with rose colored glasses.  You know how it is: things were always better “back then.”  But then I see pictures of the way it used to be even just a few years ago and I know that my rose colored glasses theory is a fallacy.  Things really were better back then.

I know I don’t have all the answers, but I do wonder why our city doesn’t do more to address the problem of blight.  The city’s leaders claim they want to bring business and people to our community but I don’t see them doing anything to attract either group.  If I were to open a business, I probably wouldn’t open one here.  Why would I open a business in a community that doesn’t care enough about itself to look nice?  If I were to buy a house, I definitely wouldn’t do it here.  With all the rowdy people living in my neighborhood, crazy people, and the murders (can’t forget about those) I wouldn’t want to make my life here.

The people in a community have to want a better life for themselves too.  I say this, because I know that there’s only so much the leaders can do.  But I do believe that our leaders need to lead.  They need to get the ball rolling because most lay people see all this ugliness and despair as too big to handle.  If you lead, the people will follow.

Merry (Late) Christmas

OK, I know…  boring posts about books most people will try their best to avoid reading.  That doesn’t make for a good blog, but it’s something, right?  So today I’ll add a real post wishing you all a Merry Christmas!  It’s a day late and all, but better late than never, right?

So how was it?  Was Santa good to you?  Santa is always very good to me.

DH and everyone on my side of the family had Christmas Eve off, so we ended up doing Christmas at my mom’s house that afternoon.  It took longer than I thought, but it was fun to see the kids open their presents.  We also got to spend a little bit of time with my mom.  She’s doing a bit better.  The doctor prescribed a hospital bed to make things a bit easier.  She’s finally up and walking around a bit, but it does take some convincing.  We just keep reminding her that the longer she can walk, the healthier she’ll be and the more time she can spend with the family.

We got my nephew Lego Creationary and my niece a few different artsy things – a pot holder loom, a very simple paint by numbers set and a tissue paper flowers kit.  My brother had a very gummy Christmas.  We basically went to Cost Plus and loaded our cart with one of every gummy there.  Then we went to a couple of teenager stores and did the same thing.  And to round it all out, he got some socks.  My Brother-in-law got a SF Giant’s shirt and some socks.  Mom- a couple pair of slippers.  My sister some socks and jammies.

I got lots of cool things from my family: a convertible bag called a Miche Bag with a couple of shells, a beautiful vase from Italy, hand made jewelery, a purse hanger thingie, coffee gift cards, etc.  DH got some pretty cool things as well.  He’s most excited about the rimming salts and yoda chop sticks.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to DH’s grandma’s house to visit with the cousins, aunts and uncles.  It’s always super crowded over there with all the adults and kids running around.  I can only really handle it for a couple hours before I start feeling really overwhelmed with all the noise and activity.  Again, it’s always fun to watch all the kids open their presents and then Grandma opening hers.  We went ultra practical with Grandma’s gift because she can buy pretty much anything she wants/needs.  We got her a variety pack of coffee and a gift card for Market Broiler (a restaurant she’s been wanting to go to for awhile).

Then we went home and had a couple of friends over for movies, food and drink.  I fell asleep midway through the second movie, but the boys said it was OK because it kind of sucked anyway.

Christmas morning we headed over to DH’s folks’ house for more presents.  Again, it was fun to watch everyone open their gifts and see what they got.  Our niece got so many Barbies and girlie toys.  We always get her something educational, so this year she got a robot you build and power through an electrical (crank) generator.  We’ll be setting up a time for her to come over and work on it with DH – it’s their thing, ya know?  We gave my sister-in-law the 10th anniversary edition of Mallrats signed by Kevin Smith.  It’s her favorite Kevin Smith movie so she was pretty stoked.  We gave my Mother-in-law some sugar free candies, a Diabetic Soul Food cookbook (awesome book by the way everything I’ve ever cooked from it tastes great) and a couple of other things.  We gave my Father-in-law some blank CDs, a hot sauce sampler pack and a huge bag of Hickory Farms.  I got lots of picture frames, socks, jewelery, gift cards and mixers for alcohol.  DH got a George Foreman grill, a belt, gift cards, Iron Man 2, and more.

Then we all went out for breakfast.  It was nice.  It reminded me of how much I miss spending time with those guys.

After breakfast DH and I came home to open our own presents.  He (and Santa) got me a NookColor, paper shredder, some books I wanted, the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack, a pedometer, alcoholic chocolates and my laptop.  I (and Santa) got him the Microsoft Kinect, a cup with some kind of computer coding on it that he wanted, hibiscus flowers in syrup, Exosquad Season 1, and Idiocracy.

My brother invited us over for dinner so we went.  There was ham with that mustard/brown sugar glaze and pineapples on top, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and cherry-o-cream pie for dessert.  I’ll have to post that recipe some time, the pie is a family favorite.

Then we came home, played with our new toys and went to bed.  That was my Christmas.  How was yours?

1001 Books Challenge: Aesop’s Fables

For more information about my Personal 1001 Books Challenge click here.

This rhyming read brought back memories of childhood.  I remembered each of the fables and, with the distance of age, saw just how many of them had been made into children’s movies.

This is a book I’ll definitely be reading to my nieces and nephews in the future.  Remember: morals never go out of style.

The version I read had been scanned from a really old copy, but there are others available at Amazon.

——-

Aesop’s Fables
by Aesopus

Book Review: Lover Mine

I actually had a second to read something that’s not part of the 1001 Books Challenge!  Yay!  It didn’t take too long and was a welcome relief from all that thinking I had to do.  I know… sounds terrible.  But it’s nice to take a break  from such challenging reads.

Lover Mine is part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  It’s got vampires (the good guys), lessers (the bad guys who smell like baby powder), flash backs, long lost family,and ghost hunters.  For being 512 pages, it moves fast and was super easy to read.

There were three or four stories going on at the same time for me to keep track of.  It might be a bit much for some people, but it worked well in this book.  I didn’t mind much at all.

Make sure you read the other books in the series first, or you might be a bit confused about what’s going on with all the different stories.  But if you’re a super smart monkey and you don’t mind being confused, go ahead and read this one.

———————————

Lover Mine
by JR Ward

1001 Books Challenge: Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit

This book was read as part of my personal 1001 Books Challenge.  You can read about it and see the list here.

Have you ever read something that made you feel dumb?  Really?  Me either until now.

This is not to say that I understood none of this particular book.  There were random parts that made a bunch of sense and the rest… well…  It went way over my head.  Maybe it was the style of the writing that was the problem.  I could understand it if I concentrated really hard and analyzed each sentence.  But who really wants to do that?  I just wasn’t in the concentrating mood today.

The parts that I did understand made sense.   Some of it was even funny.  Some of it was common sense – just worded differently.

I’d have to read it again to “get” the rest of it, but I don’t think I’m willing to do that right now.  Maybe in a few months or so, once this has had a chance to marinate in my brain for a bit.

———————–

Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit
by John Lyly

1001 Books Challenge: Aithiopika

This book is part of my 1001 Books Challenge.  You can read about it here.

This was a surprisingly quick and easy read for something that was written so long ago.  Originally written by Heliodorus, this version of Aithiopika (An Ethiopian Romance) was translated by Moses Hadas.

Plot devices abound – pirates, kidnapping, mistaken identities, stories within stories within stories, love, lust, obsession…  you get the idea.  It all ends with Ethiopians setting aside human sacrifice in the interest of love and fidelity.

—————–

ISBN 0-8122-1672-5

I Cooked: Oreo Cookie “Truffles”

Every year each employee signs up to bring holiday treats during the 2 weeks before Christmas.  We each pick a day and then bring a treat.  This year we have so many people on staff that we had to spread it out to 3 weeks!  Yay!  Three weeks of yummy goodness!  Well, tomorrow it’s my turn so I made Oreo Cookie “Truffles”.

Ingredients:

  • Regular sized package of Oreos, pulverized
  • 8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb of chocolate for making candy (I used Wilton’s)
  • a few pieces of white chocolate for making candy

Directions:

  1. Mix the Oreos and cream cheese until it looks like a black sludge.
  2. Refrigerate for about an hour (or until it’s not super soft)
  3. Form into balls about the size of a walnut
  4. Refrigerate again until the balls are not soft
  5. Melt the chocolate according to package directions.  Dip the balls into the chocolate and then let harden on a cookie sheet covered by wax paper.
  6. Melt the white chocolate according to package directions.  Put in a piping bag and use to decorate the balls.
  7. Refrigerate until the “truffles” are hardened.  Arrange on a plate and enjoy!

Picking up Mom

It is with mixed feelings that I’m bringing my mom home today.  Physically, she’s OK.  She can walk, talk, feed herself, sit up, lay down, etc.  She’s a very strong woman.  Mentally she seems OK until it’s time to get out of bed or go into the bathroom.  Those are both places that she fell and that remembered trauma makes her anxious.  It takes a few minutes to calm her down and assure her that nothing bad will happen.  I’m sure that with time she’ll “forget” the anxiety and be closer to her old self.

The anxiety issues may be a deal-breaker with my sister providing care.  I don’t know if she’s unwilling or unable to put that much time into talking mom down from an anxiety attack.  I do know that her yelling in exasperation doesn’t help.  She wants to put mom on anti anxiety medications.  I want to wait until she’s home and settled before changing/adding anything medication-wise.  This disagreement is so stressful.  I know we’ll work through it, but I don’t have to like it.

And let’s say that we can’t work through it.  Let’s say that we try adding that medication and it doesn’t work.  What then?  It’s a decision I don’t want to have to make, but I know it’s an inevitability.

So, until then, I’ll celebrate that Mom will be home for Christmas.  She’ll be with the family, surrounded by love and secure in the knowledge that we all missed her and love her very much.  What more can I wish for this holiday season?

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