Monday, August 29, 2011

Reading Updates

I spent most of my summer reading George R.R. Martins Game of Thrones series which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I finished the last of the 5 published books in the series last week, and have started some entirely different books.  If you're interested in my comments on the Game of Thrones you can check them out at

Here are my comments on the 2 books I read during the hurricane:

The Alto Wore TweedThe Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After my summer of George R.R. Martin, I needed a light, humorous read and this first "Liturgical Mystery" by Mark Schweizer fit the bill perfectly!  Hayden Konig is the full time police chief of St. Germaine, NC AND the part-time volunteer organist and choir director at the local Episcopal church.  He's also a would-be author in the style of Philip Chandler.  When the unpopular sexton is found murdered in the choir loft, the investigation is on.  Was the murderer Mother Ryan, the new, ultra-feminist priest at the church?  Or was it one of the Walkers who each accuse the other of having an affair with priest?  Schweizer's book is full of wit and laugh-aloud situations.  I do think it helps to get the humor though if you are either a church musician, or a regular church goer.  And Hayden's musical creations are wonderful. We Three Queens and the Moldy Cheese Madrigal are just two of them.  (An aside:  there is apparently a website where you can hear these gems, and others that appear in later books.)  I'm looking forward to reading other books in the series.

View all my reviews

And this one:

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
M.C. Beaton has written a very frothy Regency romance featuring Miss Hannah Pym, erstwhile housekeeper to Sir Clarence. She is middle-aged, aching for excitement,  and out of a job when her employer dies.  However Sir Clarence leaves her 5000 pounds in his will and Hannah decides to seek adventure by traveling all over England by stagecoach.  Her first excursion takes her to Exeter. Her co-travelers include an eloping couple, a forbidding lord, a mysterious youth, a poor lawyer, and several other common folk.  The group is stranded in a blizzard and must make do in a local inn.  Hannah puts her housekeeping and organizational skills to use as she directs meals, cleaning, and romance.  It's an amusing read, and is a bit reminiscent of Georgette Heyer, although it has a more tongue-in-cheek approach to life in Regency England.  

And the Sun is Shining

As is usually the case after a storm, the next day is gorgeous.  We actually dodged a bullet with Irene.  We had about 5 inches of rain, and we did get some wind, but nothing like predicted.  We did lose our power at the very end of the storm (and it's still off 14 hours later) but other than that, there doesn't seem to be much damage in my immediate neck of the woods.  There was apparently a great deal of flooding a bit north and west of here, and more wind damage to the east.

Today was supposed to be the first day of school, but it was cancelled last Friday, just in case.  There are a lot of us without power, so it's probably a good thing. I will go into school later to organize just a few more things!  I don't want to leave the house with the generator running so I'll sit tight until my husband comes home from his rounds.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Storm Preparations

We are expecting Irene's visit tomorrow morning, though the rain has already started.  We live in the southwest corner of NH, so we are more concerned about flooding than wind, but you never know.  School was cancelled yesterday for Monday which was supposed to have been the first day of school for students.  Personally, we brought in some things from the yard that could blow around if we do get wind, my husband did the regular grocery shopping this morning instead of tomorrow, and we've got generator gas, full gas tanks in our vehicles,  and extra batteries.

I also made sure our cell phones are charged as is my Kindle.  But the biggest preparation of all?? My best yarn buddy and I made the trek down to WEBS in Northampton, MA today for a yarn fix.  We live about an hour and 10 minutes from the yarn mecca and it's an easy drive.  We had a lovely day fondling yarn, and we spent a considerable amount of money!  I have 6 projects worth of yarn (2 sweaters, an afghan, a pair of socks, and 2 scarves).  So, the hatches are battened down, the fridge is full, and I've got books and yarn.

I'm ready.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All Good Things Come to An End

Yup, it's that time again.  Tomorrow starts a new school year.  The kids don't come back until Monday, but we teachers are due in at 8 am for the annual continental breakfast, welcomes, and anti-bullying workshop.  That's followed by information regarding legislative changes in educational policies, and then an afternoon of meetings at our individual schools.   A full day of professional development and too-much information at once.  Thursday and Friday are also filled with in-service training and meetings.  Fortunately, my room is as ready as it's going to get.  I kept track of the time I spent this summer moving my room  --- 45.5 hours total.  That's like a 3 credit college course!   Too bad I can't get any credit or compensation for that time.  I would have rather spent that time planning or revising my language arts program.

It was a busy 8.5 weeks.  We traveled twice -- to Switzerland, and to Los Angeles.  I took a ton of pictures in Switzerland, some of which will show up in my geography unit, along with pictures from previous travels.  As we were traveling through the Jullier Pass, I was inspired to use my pictures in our study of the 5 themes of geography - place, location, movement, region, and human-environmental interaction,

I went to a lot of meetings at church, though I didn't get to Sunday services much.  One of the "perks" of my UCC denomination is its democracy.  The congregation has all the power.  That takes work.  As moderator of our church, I have had to facilitate meetings where some important decisions have been made.  We held a special congregational meeting this past Sunday where we voted to spend what is to our small church a substantial sum of money to improve accessibility to the front door of our church.  We've had a non-ADA compliant ramp for many, many years, and we have a chair-lift at our back entrance.  But we wanted a better front entrance.  So after a great deal of work and discussion, we voted to change the appearance of our traditional New England steepled church, by adding a new ADA-compliant ramp AND a new door at one end of the portico.  For those of you in small village churches, you know that getting a group of people to agree to CHANGE something is no minor task!

I did a lot of reading this summer, but I realized that 95% has been one series.  I started George RR Martin's Game of Throne series back in June.  I think I will finish Book 5 tonight or tomorrow.  Five books doesn't sound like much for me, a very prolific reader, but it's almost 5000 pages of reading.  And while it's engrossing and enthralling, you have to pay attention!!  While I will be sorry that the next 2 books haven't been published yet, I am looking forward to switching genre and author!

Knitting has been happening too.  But I've been knitting the same sweater all summer!  It's a cotton/wool off-white cardigan, and it's almost done.  I have a sleeve and a half to go, and then the sewing together.  It's not a hard pattern to knit, but I've found that the directions aren't as clear as they could be.  I've done a lot of un-knitting too -- or tinking (knit spelled backwards, which is kind of like unknitting, as opposed to frogging which is ripping it all out - frogs rip-it, rip-it)

As always, I've kept the business books up-to-date, and I've tried to stay atop all other types of recordkeeping chores.  I've also started a new exercise program which I'm trying to stay faithful too.  I've bought 8 sessions with a personal trainer, and I've worked with her 3 times already.

What hasn't happened this summer:  closets didn't get cleaned, my family room didn't get renovated, my knitting paraphernalia didn't get organized, we didn't get the paddle boat out once, the gardens didn't get weeded.  Oh well, there's always next summer!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Trips: Friday Five

From RevGalBlogPals
My husband and I just returned (on Wednesday night) from a long road trip up the middle USA to Canada, going through various national parks, and on to the Puget Sound of Washington State. This brought back memories of family road trips with my children and when I was a child, so the idea of today's Friday Five arose.

Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worsttime. 

Road trips=Vacation!  Here are some memorable road trips from my past.

1.  1961 traveling from southern CT to northern VT.   This is the first road trip I can remember.  I was heading to first grade in the fall, and my father decided to rent a cabin on Lake Champlain in North Hero, VT for a week.  There were 3 of us kids, ages 2, 5, and 7, and I was the oldest.  I don't remember the car we traveled in.  It was probably the blue 1956 Buick.  What I do remember are the stops we made along the way, and my travel diary which I still have!  With 3 youngsters aboard, we made frequent bathroom stops.  At the time, the only places available were gas stations, and I remember the bathrooms as being greasy and oil-spattered. I also remember my youngest sister as not wanting to use the bathrooms, but "holding it."  In desperation, my parents stopped by a stream and undressed her and made her sit on a rock on the edge of babbling brook until she gave in!  I also remember picnicking along the way, and I have an entry in my journal describing the "strage bugs on a stump that turned out to be very larg grashoopers."  I'm impressed by my spelling and handwriting at that stage in my life, the summer between kindergarten and first grade.  The cabin we stayed at was creepy from my point of view, and smelled musty.  My sisters and I shared a double bed with a saggy mattress, and the lake water was "frezing and the botom of the lake is very rockie."  We rented a boat and caught some fish, with pictures to prove it.

2.  Another major road trip:  1968 from central New Jersey to Washington, DC.  By now there were 5 of us children, and we traveled in a yellow Pontiac stationwagon with 3 seats.  The 3rd seat faced backwards, and yours truly had to ride in that seat.  It was really hot, and the car didn't have air-conditioning.  While I was suitably impressed by Washington, DC, especially the underground train between the Capitol building and the Senate Office Building where we met a senator also traveling on the train, what stands out on that trip are the meal stops.  On that trip we ate $.12 hamburgers with strawberry milkshakes at McDonalds, or shared a 20 piece bucket of KFC.  My father, bless his heart, always did the ordering for us and we never had a choice in the selections.  If you didn't want a strawberry milkshake, you went without.  (He hated chocolate, so we NEVER got what we wanted!)

3.  1969 was another memorable trip, this time from N.J. to Miami, FL to visit my father's sister and our cousins.  We again traveled in the yellow Pontiac, but this time there was a major addition to the car which made the trip an agony for my "going-to-high-school" self.  Because the car was full of people (7 total) there wasn't much room for luggage in the car.  Rather than spending money on rooftop carrier, my father built a wooden box that covered 90% of the roof.  He painted this box yellow to match the car, and decided to dress it up with a pair of eyes, nose and big smile on the back end of the box. He also painted slogans along the side, referring to anti-Castro events.  (He'd emigrated from Cuba in 1948, but his sister had just recently moved to Miami from Havana.)  As the oldest, and one of the siblings who didn't get carsick, I had to sit in that 3rd backseat facing drivers.  At every traffic stop, I had to endure the amused reactions of the drivers behind us as they saw the painted box.  As a 14 yr old I was beyond embarrassment.  The other memorable event was that we toured Cape Kennedy on that trip, and were actually at the space center when the moon landing astronauts splashed down.  We watched the splash down on large screens overlooking a control center of some sort!

4.  We moved to NJ from CT when I was 9, and we made many trips back to our home town to visit my mom's sister and our cousins.  The trips only took 2 hours, unless there was traffic, but they were always an adventure.   We made up songs to accompany our trip too.  When we crossed the George Washington Bridge we sang "George Washington Bridge, George Washington Washington Bridge" set to an old tune that I don't know the name of.  When we did a road trip 40 years later with some friends, we crossed the bridge and I unconsciously started singing it!  Our friends thought it was a real song!  We also used to sing "We're in CT, we're in CT, we're in CT, right now" to the tune of "Found a Peanut" as we crossed over the state line.    A memorable trip occurred when my father had to fly to Mexico on business in the late 60's at Thanksgiving.  We dropped him off at Newark Airport on the way to my aunt's.  We took the Holland Tunnel into NY, and the water pump on the car died.  My mom managed to limp out of the tunnel and parked the car just outside.  She went off in a cab to find a gas station, leaving all 5 of us in the locked car, with me in charge!  Today she'd be arrested for endangering kids, but it was a different time when I was growing up.  She found help, and we got to my aunt's house about 1/2 day later than planned.

5.  In 1980, my husband and I drove from southern Indiana to southwestern NH after spending Christmas with my parents and family.  Our first son had been born in July, and I had flown out to my parents with him the week before Christmas.  My husband drove out the day before Christmas, and then the 3 of us drove back to NH.  That  was the trip from hell.  Our son was not an easy baby, and he was difficult to console.  He screamed nearly the entire 989 mile trip.  I moved to the back seat of the car to try to comfort him, to no avail.  I finally managed to semi-quiet him by taking him out of his car seat and holding him.  Not exactly safe, but neither was it safe to try to concentrate on driving with a non-stop screaming baby.  Oh, did I forget to mention that the car we had at the time was an old Renault LeCar, affectionately known as "The Clown Car?"  There was barely room in the front to sit comfortably, much less in the back seat!!

I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane!  I have a dream of doing a major road trip --- across the US to Los Angeles, someday.  But I want to take 4-6 weeks to do it, stopping along the way as my fancy takes me.