Friday, April 29, 2011

Reading Rainbow

I finally finished The Brother Karamazov. Boy does Dostoyevsky like to talk! It's a long, long novel but such an excellent story. There's hardship, romance, religion, family drama, deceit, suicide, drunken rampages, good old fashion Russian's has it all. At just when you think it's over, there's a forty page epilogue to keep you going. All in all I think it took me about six months. That includes a stretch of a month or two that I didn't read anything, and the last few months in which I also finished 3 other books while continuing with the Karamazov saga.

During Stidd family vacation, I decided to leave behind the large, intense novel and bring along some lighter reading. First was The House on Mango Street. I picked this up at a local Borders closing for about $2.00. It's an extremely quick read, made up of a series of vignettes. I pretty much finished it before we even got there between waiting at the airport and the flight. It's perfect for vacation and I really enjoyed the little tales of Esperanza. I don't always read the full introduction, but I recommend it on this one. I think it gave a real sense of the heart of the tales and made it more enjoyable for me.

I also read Steig Larssons, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, over vacation. The story line is pretty far fetched but I found excitement and anticipation in parts of it, came to really like some of the characters, and thought it was overall well written. The ending was a little lame and a too leading into a sequel-ish for me. The series is pretty popular right now, but I'm not sure if I'll read the remaining two in the trilogy.

The third of my distracted reading accomplishments was Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. It's a classic that I had never heard of before Jim started on his Modern Library quest. It's surprising, being raised in Ohio, that I wasn't required to read a classic novel about Ohio. (Ok, it's actually not surprising. I really only have a third grade reading level unless it's medial terminology. That's just what happens when you grow up in a school district with nickname "Dirt-mont.") Regardless, I found the collection of tales centered around the George Willard to be a great read. I felt in touch with the characters and the setting even through the short story format and love how each tale was unrelated but always tied together at the same time. If you're not up for tackling 19th century Russian literature, then go for this one.

Next on my list, The Wettest County in the World, which I also picked up at the Borders closeout. "[An] utterly engaging fable of bootlegging, revenge ,and remorse..."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I changed my mind.

All our hard work IS worth showing. Here's a few pictures of the front as of today...

We're most excited about the bird feeder.
Which incidentally has attracted zero birds so far.

I'm also a fan of the "drift wood" piece, our creative reuse of one of the shrub stumps. I also think the rock border turned out really good. The memories of removing them from the bug/spider infested pool area last summer is haunting. I'm trying to block it out before I start having nightmares.

I'm thinking rose bushes here...


How's our new bathroom coming along? Well thanks for asking! There is a ceiling and some walls, and I managed I managed to pick out a vanity within our budget. There is a toilet in patiently waiting to be installed, along with new shower fixtures.

But, in all reality project new bathroom has actually come to a screeching halt. I can't make any decisions about tile, big suprise; there is a weird corner that we don't know how to sheetrock; Jim and I equally, although probably for different reasons, hate the process of finishing drywall so have just avoided it all together hoping for the magic bathroom fairy to show up in the middle of the night; and it's spring.

Which means that we've moved onto a frenzy of outdoor landscaping & gardening projects...

One year ago....

First things first. Clear out all the stupid, half dead, overgrown shrubs. I hate shrubs that just grow into one another turning into some kind of strange, poorly shaped barrier. We started this project last year but still had a long way to go.

I took charge and had the front and side cleared in less than 30 minutes. There are times that you need to call in the professionals and this was one of them. Now that 90% of the shrubs are gone, Jim and I can focus on cleaning out and preparing the soil for new, beautiful plants. Which is no easy feat either. After a full day of work last Sunday it's not even enough change to even give you an after picture. Sad. But, I'll take the outdoors over dusty drywall work any day.

Monday, April 25, 2011


"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. "

~Lao Tzu

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seattle. Part II

Considering that my trip to Seattle was brief and pretty much eventful, there is now reason for a two part series. I was mostly running short on time with a smidge of ADD setting in, so I cut it short tagged on a Part I to the title. I basically walked up, down, and all around drinking a bazillion cups of coffee from different little cafes and coffee shops.

Maybe I should mention that I was flying solo on the west coast, so browsing around with no purpose was just fine with me.

I also browsed through the Pike Place market...

And some lovely artichokes...
The flowers were abundant & absolutely gorgeous. I'm sure they would've brightened up the hotel room, but I felt guilty only getting 2 days of enjoyment out of them so I passed on buying any. It was really tempting, especially since the price was pretty darn cheap. I ended up with some dried strawberries, fresh roasted nuts, 2 apples.

The seafood was even more abundant, which is not the best thing for a girl with serious shellfish allergies. I'm surprised breathing as I walked by didn't put me into anaphylactic shock.

After an overpriced, mediocre dinner at the hotel bar, complete with the company of a 24 year Oregon kid telling me beer drinking stories, I ended the evening with a bottle of wine from the gas station next door. I know, I know...stop the excitement.

Seattle. Part I

I ventured out to the west coast for a seminar in Seattle. Not knowing when I'd have the chance to get back that way, I arranged to fly in a day early so I could spend the afternoon doing a little exploring in the city.

First (and only) impressions:

*They are not joking about the rain situation out there. I realize it has been extra rainy even here in Philly, but it was apparent that rain and drizzle are just part of Seattle. The air just feels heavy with mist and the local news uses the term "sunbreak" in the daily weather forecast. Not partly cloudy or periods of afternoon showers...."several sunbreaks expected in the late afternoon."

*It's a very outdoor friendly city aside from the whole rain factor. There were tons of people biking throughout the city which in most areas seemed to have separate bike lanes. There was a particularly large number of people running and biking near the water. And, the public rail line into the city is equipped with upright bike racks and easy loading.

Ferry-whistled was blowing, better hurry

*The rail system in general was great. My hotel was south of the city, closer to the airport. I just hopped on the rail line for $2.50 and was in the city in about 15 minutes. It was very clean, inexpensive, and runs every 2-10 minutes depending on the time of day.

*The city, at least the area I walked through, was clean and not over crowded. Cities in the northeast are just old, crowded, and icky. I did see some homeless folks lounging around, as well as several groups of young folk with those big knotted braids and hemp jewelry smoking these funny smelling cigarettes. The air felt clean and refreshing, which I think was a combination of ocean and mountains. It's was also quite hilly in parts making for good exercise.

Photo taken on Friday, around 6pm

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Station

The past few weeks seem to have been particularly busy. A little to do with work, of course our never ending "To Do" list, there have also been deeper issue, the heavier topics of life, swirling around and consuming space, time, and emotion in my daily life. As I briefly mentioned, I was cooking up a storm, as well as spending a lot of time at the hospital with extended family after a newly diagnosed illness. I was also on the west coast for a fantastic seminar which resulted in my certification in pregnancy adjusting, also generating some general emotions about family, health, the blessings of a new life, and my views on all of the above. Last weekend also marked the anniversary of my own mother's death. Ten years. A complete decade. Amounting to exactly 1/3 of my life as motherless. Like I said, heavy stuff, but sometimes I think I need a little dose of heavy. It helps keep it all in perspective....

"Sooner of later we must realize there is no
Station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is in the trip."

~Robert Hastings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2002 Meatballs

It's spring here in Philadelphia which has brought along LOTS of rain and not so much sun. I could use a little of the reverse, but I won't complain. When there's a spec of sun shiny through I race outside and try to overdose on Vitamin D. When it's chilly and drizzling like today I putz around indoors and overdose on coffee.

With my extended family dealing with difficult times, I have been doing some serious cooking over the past two weeks. Comfort foods of course, particularly things that are easy to reheat. First round was meatballs and a vegetable pasta casserole.

As much cooking as I do now, it's hard to imagine that way back in 2002 I didn't even have a clue how to make meatballs. I was in college living in a crappy little basement level apartment and only knew how to make about 5 things, mostly involving the microwave. One cold wintery weekend the girls and I decided on a little dinner party. Meatballs seemed like the perfect choice, cheap enough to make a large amount to fill up all the guys and easy to pair with pasta and a salad. I think we called a half dozen grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and other knowledgeable relatives until we came up with this recipe:

I still use the same recipe (although I usually substitute ground turkey instead of ground beef) and they have been loved by many over the years.

The lovely Sara with our feast
Hi Sara. Miss you!!

I just noticed that the microwave in the background is the same one I finally trashed about 3 months ago. Thanks little microwave we had a good run.

Monday, April 11, 2011


"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring."

~Bern Williams

Friday, April 8, 2011

Race for the Cure

Homer Simpson running

I started running again. Now I know why people hate running. It's such torture. Even though I go to spin class, lift weights, or do yoga 4-5 days a week and walk everyday, I can barely make it around the block running! In my head I know if I stick it out it will get easier.

I have to stick with it because I put together a team to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which takes place in 5 weeks. I'm following a slightly modified version of this beginner's training program from Runner's World.

Back in my youth when I ran all the time, I was a big fan of the Runner's World magazine and the website is even better. The training schedule is actually off the UK site but there's also a US site. Both sites have a ton of info on not only training programs, but injury prevention and treatments of common conditions; recipes, nutrition, and carb loading advice; and reviews on shoes and other gear. If you're thinking about getting into running or just need to jump start your workout routine, check it out.

My previous attempt to start running again found here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely."


Friday, April 1, 2011

Family Vacation

Surfside Beach, SC
March 25-30

The temperatures were a bit on the cooler side and we had several rainy days, but we did manage to get an afternoon of seashell collecting at the beach...

and bird watching at the marsh at Murrell's Inlet...

We occupied some of our forced indoor time with a trip to Ripley's Aquarium; shark attack, Jevin bombs, jumping, diving, and splashing in the indoor pool; and tons of good old fashion family time with stories, Wii, Apples to Apples, and a late night of tequila and Euchre.

Other highlights for Jim and I included date night at Rioz's, an early morning hike through Huntington Beach State Park, and of course a week of giggles and little voices shouting "Aunt Chelle Chelle and Uncle Jim.