Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dinner @ Ben & Andree's

(painting of their house done by Andree's Grandmother)

Andree cooked dinner for me one evening a couple of weeks ago when I was in NOLA. Yummy hot cheesy melty veggie wraps and tomato soup. She also finished my slip, took care of the baby, got the other 2 kids to bed, talked to me about 100 books....she's Super Mom. OK well Ben helped with the kids, too but she's still Super Mom.
Anyway I could spend hours looking through their books and at their artwork. Their house is the cutest New Orleans creole cottage. Blue with purple doors. The inside of the house is amazing and bright and cheery and vibrant. It fits them perfectly.

They have great art. This is a piece that they bought in an auction of children's art from the kids' school. Look closely - it's actually made up of torn up post-it notes that the kids used for notes in social studies class.

Lucy is walking around like crazy. She knows all her animal sounds (she pants when you ask her what a puppy says). And Andree taught her to say "Turtle". However, she will only say "Turtle" over the microphone attached to the kids' karaoke machine. And she says it very dramatically "TUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRTLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE". It's too cute.

Zachary had just gotten home from soccer, homework was done, and the kids spent the evening making really cool things out of clay, of which I forgot to take pictures.

I'm glad I'm finally making myself get out of my hotel room. I get way too reclusive, and I don't even realize how much I miss my friends. Thanks Arendt family!!

Most epic TP job ever

On my morning walk Friday, I saw what had to be THE MOST amazing TP job I have ever seen. That was at about 6:300am, and when I drove back by on my way to work later they had already started cleaning up. Still, I think you can get the idea...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still trucking

So far so good. Last week I walked 2 days and rode the stationary bike 2 days. On Tuesday I took the long way around the lake and ended up walking and hour and 10 minutes. Yeah that was TOO far and my back killed me the rest of the week. I skipped Wednesday and rode the bike Thurs. and Fri. and my back felt better.

However, that walk was amazing. I saw 2 duck classes of some sort. As in, twice I saw a groups of about 20 ducks, all facing 1 other duck, like they were getting their morning instructions or doing roll call or saying the duck pledge or something. And near one of the groups, which looked like they were about to do swimming lessons in the pond by which they were standing, were two mother ducks and two little baby ducks having a morning snack in a little puddle, obviously having just walked big brother or big sister to school.

And the morning mist!! And the huge flock of Egrets hanging out in the Cedar trees in City Park Lake and flying in and out between the trees like it was a huge birdy airport! And the 6:30 morning people are SO NICE. I felt like I was part of an amazing, secret, 6:30 club.

Very few people had their dogs with them, and I assume it was for the same reason that I didn't have mine. #1 - I wanted to walk and meditate and not pick up poop. #2 - My dogs are nuts and would destroy the serenity of everyone's morning, and those 6:30 people are nice and smiley but I'm thinking they may just snap. I mean, it's damn early. Maybe they haven't had their coffee yet.

Oh so much catching up to do.

First, I'm still in love with Oskar from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

And...I've been reading like a crazy person so I'm just going to give you the list here and I'll write about some of them later. (a) = audiobook. Unabridged only, of course.

My Year in Iraq (a) - written by the guy who was the first head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Pro or con, this book sheds a lot of light on why progress over there is so incredibly slow. Reminds me of things I've watched about the justice system on some of the Carribbean Islands. The protocol of being nicey-nice with the leaders of opposing factions outweighs the decisions-making, and nobody wants to actually take responsibility for making a call.

The Regulators (a) - OK this was a little weird, but I liked it. Generally Stephen King just bugs the crap out of me. Too much detail. I need him to be constrained to a short story or the short-edition format of The Green Mile. For some reason I like all the Richard Bachman books though. Maybe he didn't feel free enough under that pseudonym to make a description of a room last 14 pages. Good for me.

Lamb (Christopher Moore) - This is one I will definitely be writing about because..LOVed it! Fun and thought-provoking.

Everyman (a) (Philip Roth)- I was interested in Philip Roth because he wrote a couple of award winners. This wasn't one of them, but it was $4 or something @ B&N one day. It was ok. Very John Updike. Or was John Updike very Philip Roth?

Everything is Illuminated - Another one by Johnathon Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). LOVED this story too. It's one I could see myself reading again at some point, and I rarely read things twice. Very rarely. Maybe I'll tell you some things about this one.

She Got Up Off the Couch - Lamb kicked off a memoir jag for me. This one was the typical "my childhood sucked and blah blah blah", but it had some fun parts and was decently written.

Last Car to Elysian Fields (a) - James Lee Burke isn't a terrible writer, but this isn't something I would waste my reading time on unless in included references to places I recognize. This one didn't quite make me want to poke my eyes out, but if my other audiobooks had come in the mail yet I would have probably just dropped this one.

The Weight of Water (a) - The weight of this book must have been pretty light because when I finally, drearily, got to the very end and to the "surprise" ending, I realized I had already read this years ago and thought it was equally dumb.

Crime and Punishment (a) - Yep. I listened to the entire, unabridged book in honor of my neighbor, Whitney, who loves the author so much she named her cat Fyo. It was GREAT. I loved it. I understand why it's a classic. And I'm very glad I listened to it rather than read it because I think it was much easier for my brain to process and sort out all those Russian names. Thanks Whitney!

Driving with Dead People - Another memoir. Another oh my childhood wah wah wah.

The Glass Castle - OK now this memoir was worthwhile. I really liked it. This girl went through some STUFF. Her parents were literally nuts. This is a good read.

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove - My least favorite Christopher Moore book thus far, but still a fun read.

Three Junes (a) - Nothing like what I expected. I actually really liked it. It made me want to take daily walks even thought I'm not a book-store-owning-New-York-gay-man. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Death be Not Proud - I'm a little reluctant to write what I really thought about this book. I don't want to seem callous. But...with all the other end-of-life memoirs out there I don't really get why this is the one that is considered such a classic. It's on like every best-books list I've seen. I mean, it's moving. I was moved. It's touching. It's sort of a good depiction of a New-York high brow lifestyle in the 1940's. I just think there are better ones out there. And John Gunther's writing is both irritating and addictive to me. I find myself speaking and writing much more formally in the last 2 days, which may not be a bad thing.

So......that's the reading list for July and August 2009. I'm putting Lamb and Everything is Illuminated and Crime and Punishment high on the all-time favorites list.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New life?

I hope it sticks!!!! This is week #2 that I have been getting up in the morning and walking. Last week I walked Mon - Thurs. Today I got up and walked in a drizzly rain, and it was amazing.'s the diary.

Minutes walked (35). Music (Coldplay). Amazingly shaped oak trees (7). Monorail kitties (1). Kitties sitting in the rain staring under houses (1). Kitties sitting under porte-cocheres staring forlornly at the kitchen door (1). Potential serial killers (0). Men with little fussy dogs (2). Brightly painted metal turtle planters (1). Fecal fountains (1). Sunrises (1 - ok didn't actually see it, but it was dark when I started and light when I finished).

I'm also eating way better. Taking my lunch to work most days. Painting more. Reading a ton. Feeling so much better.

How? Prayer. I prayed for it. And will continue to. I think I may actually learn to love mornings.