Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite Movies I saw in 2010

At the cinema:
Up in the Air” much preferred it to the book, which was completely different and quite depressing actually.
Inception” reminded me of several movies, but quite clever all the same.
Never Let Me Go” sad, but great plot!
Nowhere Boy” found it quite interesting, esp. about how John Lennon met Paul when they were teens.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” getting a bit dark, but still a must see; favorite scene was when Harry & Hermione danced in the tent one night.
The King’s Speech” definitely favorite movie of the year, so much so that I’d quite like to own it on dvd.

On dvd:
Departures” (dvd) Japanese movie about a man who becomes an undertaker and how he comes to grips with the somberness of the job; excellent film, and very moving, a real tear-jerker.
Roman Holiday” (dvd) an old film by today’s standards, but hasn’t lost any of its charm, and it’s nice as a travelogue back to 1950’s Rome.
Dan in Real Life” (dvd) I enjoyed the family camaraderie in this film.
Angels and Demons” (dvd) I liked all the Roman scenery and many plot twists, but it is quite disturbing in parts.
Mid August Lunch” (dvd) A sweet, funny little film about a man who takes care of a bunch of old ladies for the August Bank Holiday – some of the ladies don’t particularly want to be taken care of.
The Bucket List” (dvd) This is a fun movie because it makes one ponder their own Bucket List.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

I am one of those people who actually take delight in reading peoples' Christmas letters, and I enjoy sending one of my own. Those who know me will know it wasn't filled with all good news this year (we had a rather expensive autumn).

I'd like to share some of the gems I've come across in a couple letters we received this year:

"R. has just learned where meat comes from, and keeps asking for 'killed pig sandwich.'"

"Before we know it, we will be teaching them to drive...Although J. has already had to launch a pre-emptive strike on that front after M. (4 years old) asked if he could "go out and start the car" as we were getting ready to go to the store. What followed was a very serious conversation about only grown-ups with the "special card with their picture on it" are ever allowed to put the keys in the car and start it. We are praying that the threat of "the Police Man catching him" has scared him to the point that we will not have to broach the topic again until the teen years... just in case we put the keys out of reach."

Thanks for those contributions and keep them coming!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hats off to Local Theatre Groups

This weekend I had the pleasure of taking in two excellent, albeit brief, theatre productions in my current hometown of Hilliard, Ohio.

The first was a very much abridged version of "A Christmas Carol." Because it was such a small group of actors, many played more than one role (i.e. some were carolers as well as characters in the play). Not only was the caliber of acting and singing quite excellent (particularly the difficult British accents - nailed them!), the set and costume design was top notch as well. Kudos to the Hilliard Arts Council for a very enjoyable 40 minute production.

Later that evening I went to my first ever production of "James and the Giant Peach" by the Bread and Circus Theatre Company, which was held in the Harmony Arts Center. Due to the small size of the room, one could call it "intimate theatre." Being on a tight budget, the theatre group relied on miming actions where sets and props weren't available. It requires a little imagination on the part of the audience, but seems to work nonetheless. These actors seemed to be cut from the same cloth as the previous group in that all were excellent with almost flawless performances. The boy who played James was particularly precocious and I look forward to seeing him in more performances in the future. The centipede, who probably had more lines than just about everyone, managed to get them all out without a single flub. At $12 for an hour long performance, it was perhaps a bit pricey, but considering there was no cost (other than either a cash, food or toy donation) for "A Christmas Carol," I felt I got my money's worth for both performances.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pros and Cons of Winter

For lack of any better ideas, you can never go wrong with a list, so here goes my list of the Pros and Cons of Winter:


hot baths feel soooo good!
hot chocolate helps warm me up
Christmas light displays are pretty to look at
nothing like snuggling up under the covers (or a Snuggie!) and
getting a good night's sleep
comfort food tastes absolutely delicious
I never have to worry about there not being enough room in the fridge or freezer when putting stuff outside or in our Florida room will suffice
you can also go grocery shopping without having to worry about coming straight home to put it all away


I stop feeling my toes for several months
Jack Frost also likes to nip at my nose
driving in snowy conditions
getting undressed and redressed becomes a lot more laborious
craving comfort food and then putting on the same winter pounds
having to shovel snow (esp. when it starts getting heavy)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“The Folks Inside”

(from the book Falling Up)
by Shel Silverstein

Inside you, boy,
There’s an old man sleepin’,
Dreamin,’ waitin’ for his chance
Inside you, girl,
There’s an old lady dozin’,
Wantin’ to show you a slower dance.

So keep on playin’,
Keep on runnin’,
Keep on jumpin’, til the day
That those old folks
Down inside you
Wake up…and come out to play.

This is one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein, and the older I get the more true it seems. I’ve often said to people that I feel like an 80 year old trapped in a 40 year old body. Unlike many people my age, I don’t keep my cell phone on 24/7, nor do I text (nor do I ever plan to). I like classical music. Although I like dressing fashionably, I prefer to dress for comfort. I don’t like staying out late. I prefer to be home by midnight (or earlier), and I don’t like to sleep too late in the morning. I also have to hold things farther from my face in order to see them in focus, and ‘being regular’ is something I appreciate more and more as I get older. In fact, I sort of look forward to old age, especially retirement. I plan to keep busy, but much prefer to live by my own schedule.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

me at the Coliseum

me at the Coliseum, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Scratch this (visit the Coliseum in Rome) off the Bucket List.

The Bucket List

Last night I sat down and watched “The Bucket List,” a movie I’ve been meaning to see since it came out a few years ago. After watching it I discussed the list with my husband and was delighted we could already cross off a few.


1. Witness something truly majestic – we saw a total solar eclipse in 1999 where the afternoon turned to complete darkness for almost an hour or so. I think that qualifies.
2. Help a complete stranger for a common good
3. Laugh till I cry (nearly – there was the time when the elder Harold Cottrell (my aunt’s now late father-in-law) played a trick on my young niece Emily involving the whole family in his deception. I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard or as long about anything since then).
4. Drive a Shelby Mustang
5. Kiss the most beautiful girl in the world
6. Get a tattoo (I’ve thought about it, maybe just a little one, but my husband doesn’t want me to desecrate my body in that way).
7. Skydiving (no, I don’t think so, nor would I ever consider going bungee jumping. If I had to do something daring, I think hang-gliding or perhaps parasailing might be fun,)
8. Visit Stonehenge
9. Spend a week at the Louvre (okay, so it was only an afternoon, we did actually spend a week in Paris)
10. See Rome
11. Dinner at La Cherie d'Or
12. See the Pyramids (I’ve seen a few smaller ones, but not the original ones in Egypt, but it’s definitely on my short list).
13. Get back in touch (previously "Hunt the big cat"). I keep hesitating, but I know I should really write to the lady whom I used to babysit for and who was invited to our wedding. Somehow in the first few years after we were married, we lost contact and I’ve never picked back up on it again.
14. Visit Taj Mahal, India
15. Hong Kong
16. Victoria Falls (maybe next year when we go to Australia we can hop a flight to New Zealand and visit here).
17. Serengeti
18. Ride the Great Wall of China

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So much waiting…

I’m waiting for our cable box to reboot….

I’m waiting for our plumber to show up…

I’m waiting for my co-worker to come up to my desk so I can leave for the day…

I’m waiting for dinner to finish cooking…

I’m waiting for my co-worker to come up with some work for me to do…

I’m waiting for the traffic light to turn green…

I’m waiting for my husband’s dvd to finish so I can watch TV…

I’m waiting for lunch time to arrive and then time to leave for the day…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

End of an (Technology) Era...

I read in yesterday’s news that Sony has ceased production of their once popular ‘Walkman’ cassette player. Like most people who grew up in the 80’s, I had one. It was white with purple buttons and served me well. It never wore out, so I ended up selling it in a garage sale.

Fast forward twenty years or so and the I-Pod has replaced the Walkman as the compact music player of choice. My almost ten year old niece may or may not have ever seen a Walkman, but she’s going to get an I-Pod touch for Christmas, which (as most people know) is about two thirds the size of a Walkman, but much slimmer and sleeker, and sexier to be completely honest. I am almost jealous, but know that I could have one if I really wanted to.

Thinking back to what I had (gadget-wise) when I was her age, it’s almost laughable. When I was nine years old I got my first tape recorder for Christmas, a 12” x 5” one or two pound monstrosity that I absolutely fell in love with and carried everywhere. To General Electric’s credit the tape recorder was so well-made that it’s still fully functioning today, over thirty years later.

I also had a 110 camera that was a ninth birthday present if I remember correctly. It was a great starter camera because not only was it literally point and shoot, it had film cartridges. There’s nothing easier than drop-in loading.

A co-worker of the same age said she once had a clock radio that she was really excited about. Another co-worker said he had an 8 track player with a radio (it was round and orange) and a Mattel handheld football game (red lights were the football players).

If you go back even further to our parent’s day, among the things they had were: transistor radios, reel-to-reel players, 8 track tape players and phonographs (which go back even further to the days when they were called Victrolas).

It’s interesting to imagine what technology our children’s children will have someday as things gradually get smaller and more powerful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Year Long Projects

I’m not sure when my love affair with year long projects began. Perhaps it was inspired by reading all of Danny Wallace’s books, particularly Yes Man, when he decides he’s going to say ‘Yes’ to everything for a year and see how it works out for him. As it turns out, it was mostly a good experience for him. Anyway, I digress…

Perhaps my interest came from watching reality TV (shows like “Frontier House,” “1920’s House,” “1940’s House,” etc.) where the participants had to stick it out for the duration of the show and it wasn’t always pretty.

All I know is I especially love reading about people who decide to better themselves by taking on a year-long project and writing about their progress in a blog and maybe a book later.

My five favorites are: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine; Julie and Julia by Julie Powell; No Impact Man by Colin Beavan; On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unexpected Adventures in Eating in America by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard; and Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant.

Each certainly had their points and their struggles covering everything from food to product consumption to simply living your best life. Of course they all learned a lot from their experiments and came out as better people afterwards. However, that’s not what inspired me, but rather the spirit of the project, having a goal and purpose and sharing it with others. I especially appreciate that some of the authors above also had day jobs (especially Julie Powell), but still managed to find time to stick to it and keep a log at the same time.

Even though I’m really no different than any of these people, I’m just not sure I could commit to doing anything day after day for a year. After all, I don’t live life in a vacuum. Things come up (“Life is what happens when you make other plans”), and my husband is only so patient and probably wouldn’t appreciate me staying up extra late to complete the day’s assignment if that’s what it took to get it done.

Plus, I’m not even sure what kind of a project I’d like to do. I tend to have lots of great ideas, some I even start to execute, but then eventually fizzle as I lose interest. Perhaps I could dedicate a year to actually following through on some of these things. I’ll get back to you on that…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Things that have recently made me laugh....

Last week's episode of "Top Gear." Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest member of the trio that currently host the popular BBC car show, was doing a segment where he had to drive a Reliant (3-wheeled car) from point A to B somewhere in Britain. Although it was a relatively short distance, due to the instability of the car and the fact that Jeremy likes to take corners rather fast, he kept tipping over (and lucky for him local celebrities always seemed to be around to push his car back over). Since he never got hurt, it was all in good fun and laugh out loud funny.

Last night's episode of "Big Bang Theory." Mayim Bialik was hilarious playing Sheldon's new 'not girlfriend' that Penny nicknamed "Shamey." Even funnier was when Leonard called Sheldon's mom, played by the always funny Laurie Metcalf (of "Roseanne" fame). She's probably my favorite guest star on that show (right after Wil Wheaton of course!)

One of my co-workers telling me that they were making up a rumour about another co-worker losing all his money in Vegas and trying to hitch a ride home. Even though this was a most unlikely scenario, I could still picture it playing out, and I admit it brought a smile to my face.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dancing Hares

The Dancing Hares, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.


After having recently visited the newly renovated Grandview Theatre, I was thinking how I should pay homage to some of my favorite places in the greater Columbus area. I could only come up with a few, but here they are in no particular order:


After having been leased by David and Jennifer Nedrow back in 2008, they've come a long way with major renovations and redecorating. There's still work to do, but the theatre is fully functional and has been showing films during much of the work.

We were just there for the Manhatten Short Film Festival on a rainy Monday. Only about a dozen or so people braved the wet weather for this enjoyable selection. Being a Monday, and a wet one at that, that may be the norm for many theatres depending on the movie. Still, I wish attendance was at least double. I'd like Mr. Nedrow to be able to make a decent living as well as keep the theatre open for many years to come.


Until I sampled Jeni's unusual flavors, I don't think I had tried anything much more exotic than your usual grocery store fare. The variety excites the taste buds and expands your horizons in ways I never thought possible. Some of the more unusual flavors I've tried (that I can recall) are: lavender, goat's cheese & cherries, carrot cake, stout (which tastes more like coffee), and the signature salty caramel.

My husband and I were recently in Italy and didn't have to be too strongly encouraged to sample the gelato. Having tried the unusual flavors offered by Jeni's, it didn't phase me to continue the adventure in Italy. However, I did also stick to a few tried and true flavors like chocolate mousse and Tiramisu. The most memorable flavor I tried was gorgonzola, which tasted just how I expected, but was delightful nonetheless. That's a sensory memory that will stay with me for awhile!


I understand Issue 4 in the upcoming November election is a plea to increase funding to the library system by paying just a little more ($5.24 per month per $100,000 of home value) in property tax every month. Since both my husband and I (though mostly me) use our local library and very much appreciate their vast collection, I have a vested interest in seeing the collection continue to grow. I would also hate to see more people lose their jobs if any branches have to close or hours are cut even further. I know how I'm voting on November 2nd.

COLUMBUS (Dublin) LANDMARKS: "The Dancing Hares," the Cornrows, and Chief Leatherlips

Where else can you have lunch while sitting under a trio of rabbits, beside an oversized concrete ear of corn or in front of/or behind the largest stone face you've seen since Mt. Rushmore? Only right here in Dublin. All three are free for public viewing at almost any time. I've picniced by two out of three, and attended concerts near Chief Leatherlips, as well as photographed all three on many an occasion.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Memorable Moment...

Since we all live in the digital age of camera phones and smaller and smaller cameras, it's quite easy to record fleeting moments and then file them away. I sometimes wonder if by recording things this way, we're giving our brains a vacation from actually absorbing the moment in its own way. The reason I bring this up is because I'm sure we've all had times when we wish we had our camera with us to capture something truly amazing. This is fair enough, but I sometimes wonder if in our frenzy to record everything, are we simply cheapening our experiences?

I've recently had a couple experiences where I didn't have my camera with me, or at least wasn't able to get it out in time, but it didn't matter. I trusted my brain to file away the memory just as well as if I had it on film (or a memory card).

The first moment was meeting a national celebrity while he was passing through our local airport. I've learned not to become so star struck that you ask for an autograph or picture unless you're at a book signing and everyone is doing that. Also, the thought simply didn't occur to me. However, I admit if I had seen him from a distance, I might have tried to whip out my camera, but am glad I didn't. Albeit brief, I was able to chat with him before he continued on to his gate. Plus, I felt much cooler about that than being an adoring gushing fan (which I might have been just a little bit like).

The second moment was when walking around Florence one evening with my husband when we came across a huge crowd of people gathered around a busker (a street performer) dressed like Charlie Chaplin. He was using a whistle to get people to comply with his wishes. First thing he did was get people lined up just how he wanted them, which was funny enough.

However, the 'a picture's worth a thousand words' moment came when he pulled a little girl out of the audience. She was one of a pair of twins, with short blond hair cut in a timeless pixie cut with bangs straight across her forehead. She barely came up to his waist and kept a very serious demeanor the entire time she was in front of the audience. 'Charlie' proceeded to dress her up to look like Jackie Coogan's character from the film 'The Kid.' He started out by giving her a pair of black shorts connected to suspenders. The shorts hung just above her ankles. He then gave her an oversized black t-shirt that draped almost to her knees. To top it all off, he placed on her head one of those old-fashioned black hats that old men sometimes wear. To say she looked adorable would be an understatement. No doubt that child got photographed more that night than almost any celebrity might have done. It was even cuter because she maintained the deadpan look the entire time almost teetering on tears at times (she was only 4 and separated from her family after all).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Dreams…

Perhaps I am unusual in that I don’t have only one dream, and that my dreams have changed over the years. While growing up, all I ever wanted was to live in Southern California where it’s warm and sunny year round and you can hang out with celebrities or go to the beach. Today I am a little less star-struck, and not as big a fan of the beach, but still wouldn’t mind spending my summers near Venice Beach. It looks as exciting a place to be as anywhere with its vibrant and colorful boardwalk not to mention the eccentric characters that frequent it. At least this is the impression I get from seeing it on television. However, I would definitely not want to drive in the city knowing how horrific the traffic is, not to mention all the smog created in part by the many cars on the road.

Being that the weather is a little more pleasant up north and there’s more to do culturally, I wouldn’t mind having one of the “painted ladies” to live in while I perhaps have a job at a place like the City Lights bookstore. At least one room in my house (like the dining room just off the kitchen) needs to be an exposed brick wall, because I just love the look. I would also require one room set aside as a library complete with a ladder and a chaise lounge on which to stretch out and read.

At the heart of it, I think I am really more of an East Coast girl preferring to be closer to Europe. Also, I quite like experiencing different seasons. If I had to choose where to live on the East Coast it would be New York City hands down. However, having visited there, I can appreciate how manic the city is and how tight living quarters are. But, this being a dream, I would want to live in a spacious (with perhaps 3 bedrooms) apartment with a view of Central Park. I would also want enough money to be able to see at least one Broadway play a month if I wanted. Dream job – either a successful author or work in publishing proofreading manuscripts.

I also sometimes dream of life as a college English literature professor at somewhere like Princeton or Yale where I have a brood of children and we live in a nice big house in Connecticut. The children grow up and have families of their own and come back to visit me like in the movies “The Family Stone,” “Dan in Real Life” or “Bed of Roses.”

Having lived in England after getting married, sometimes I dream about retiring there. I like the idea of living in a small village and knowing your neighbors, but it would have to be somewhere where there’s a decent bus service since I probably wouldn’t be driving. Among other things, I think I would enjoy having a small garden and going to work in a charity shop where I have first dibs on peoples’ old cast-offs. Of course I would pay for everything, but it’s still fun getting to have a first look.

I also think it would be nice to have an apartment on the South Bank (London) where you’re close to the National Film Theatre and a short walk to the Millennium Bridge and over to the Tate Modern. However, like in NYC, I don’t fancy the crowds and rush hour on the tube, but in my ideal world I wouldn’t have to work at peak hours.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


With the autumn TV season just on the horizon, I thought it was time to plug some of my favorite returning programs.


Antiques Roadshow – love the stories, esp. when they say they bought the item for a pittance and it turns out to be quite profitable; also love the Feedback Booth at the end.
Big Bang Theory – Sheldon. You’re too funny and you make me feel less neurotic!
How I Met Your Mother – yeah, so it’s like a rehash of “Friends;” it’s a chance to live vicariously through some young New Yorkers who have a slightly more exciting life than me.
Modern Family – absolutely love the two gay guys. They totally make the show for me.
Parenthood – Even though I’m not a parent, nor do I have plans to become one, these are likeable enough characters that it’s easy to relate to them on one level or another.
The Middle – kind of funny and makes you feel better about your own family and childhood.


Dr. Who – the doctor is fairly charismatic, as is his sidekick; plus the stories are interesting and sometimes leave you on the edge of your seat.
Get it Sold – I love watching people’s diamond in the rough (their house) get polished and then sold.
Graham Norton – Graham is funny and a lot less annoying than Jonathan Ross when he interviews people.
Hot in Cleveland Рokay, so perhaps a bit clich̩ at times, Betty White totally makes that show for me with her dry wit and stinging one-liners.
House Hunters – it’s nice to see what choices those in a higher (usually) economic bracket have and especially funny when it’s Americans buying overseas. “That’s quaint, but why are the rooms so small?” (said while scrunching up their noses).
Top Gear – I watch it mainly for the challenges they do from time to time which never fail to be amusing as well as thought-provoking (what car would I buy with only a $1000 budget?)
The Unselleables – Sophie Allsop, sister of Kirstie (familiar to those of us in the UK as the co-host of “Location, Location, Location”) hosts this show and it’s fun to watch her gently scold careless (or just plain ignorant) homeowners for failing to make much effort to sell their homes.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Of course everyone has different interests, so these just reflect my own personal likes and hobbies, but perhaps you might find one or two of these useful: The anonymous author has also written a book called The World According to Mimi Smartypants. I thought it was one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and continue to enjoy reading her blog. When she wrote the book in 1999 after just starting her blog, it was just her and her husband. Now it’s a family of three since they adopted Nora, their now 7 ½ year old daughter. Even though I personally don’t have children, and really don’t enjoy reading about other peoples’ kids, her exploits are quite funny and she often includes pictures, so she’s kind of grown on me. Anyone who knows Chicago, or has precocious children will be able to relate to her. This blog almost always makes my mouth water with her delectable photos of the many delicious treats she makes on a semi-regular basis. She also makes bracelets and other crafts that she sells on, so there are photos of those too. I dare you not to find this website good “eye candy” as she mentions on this week’s entry. This website is probably mostly appealing to a female audience, but there may be a few others out there who can appreciate it too. I came across this blog after seeing it recommended on another blog. I think she sums it up best herself: “Leah Dieterich's mother always told her to write thank you notes. So she does. To everything. thxthxthx is her daily exercise in gratitude.” For someone who finds the concept of keeping a gratitude journal to be difficult, I think I could handle doing something like this on a daily basis. This is my favorite photo-sharing website. It’s free to post photos, but only up to a certain bandwidth. If you want unlimited usage it costs $25 a year for a “pro” account. At times I get a little frustrated and wonder why I bother posting pictures when almost no one ever comments. However, once in awhile I get an e-mail from someone wanting to use my photo somewhere in exchange for a photo credit and sometimes extra goodies (like produce & bottled products from California). So far my biggest success to date (in my opinion at least) was getting a photo published on Woman’s Day magazine’s website. Okay, so it would be even more prestigious to have it in the actual paper copy of the magazine, but beggars can’t be choosers! For those of us who like to read and keep track of all the volumes we read, this is a great website. It’s even better because it’s linked (and probably sponsored by too I suspect) to, one of my favorite shopping websites.

my three favorite shopping websites:,, All three have their pluses and minuses, but I never fail to find something useful for a reasonable cost from time to time. If I only ever had just these three websites to do my shopping from, I could die quite happy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Things About this Summer So Far…..

Eating delicious 40 calorie sugar-free fudgesicles
The (only very) occasional low humidity day
Dipping my feet into a kiddie pool
Sitting on the porch swing with my husband
Enjoying outdoor theatre and concerts under the stars
Picking ripe strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers (later I hope)
from my garden
Attending the local Farmer’s Market to buy all the produce, meat,
cheese & baked goods I can carry
Riding my bike around the neighborhood inhaling the smell of peoples’
barbecues, fresh cut grass, and chlorine from the local pool
Watching a fierce thunderstorm from the porch
Picking up bargains at local garage sales (like two wicker/metal chairs
for $10 and several name brand purses for about $1 each)

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Listing of 3526 Wenwood Drives (and one road) in USA:

1) Baton Rouge, LA
2) Greenville, SC (Road)
3) Louisville, KY
4) Goodview, VA
5) Knoxville, TN
6) Massapequa Park, NY
7) North Bellmore, NY
8) East Meadow, NY
9) Glen Head, NY

While looking up my address on Google maps, many times I have noticed a list come up with the same street address as myself (and my husband). I've been curious about this for some time, but only now in the middle of the summer have I decided to take any action on this. I would love to see what everyone's else's house (or whatever kind of dwelling) looks like along with a picture of the owner. I would like to write to each one, but am still working on choosing the right words in order to get 100% cooperation. I will, of course, include a SASE along with my e-mail address in case they prefer to send me a photo digitally. Anybody have any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things that TV and Movies have Spoiled for Me….

X-Files alone has a lot to answer for! (though I can only think of 2 things at the moment).

Whenever I am at a stoplight I think of that episode where two policeman are in the car with a prisoner in the backseat who says something about “cerulean blue” making the cop think the light has changed, causing him to accelerate and then get smashed into by two other cars.

Whenever I am sweeping up dirt I think of that episode where they thought a lady had the disease called “Pica,” where people will eat harmful or disgusting things because of some malfunction of the brain that causes them to do that.

Dr. Who isn’t completely blameless either….

Angels. Thanks to Dr. Who, I can no longer look at a statue of an angel without wondering whether or not it will move (and stalk me) once I turn my back.

Gas Masks. Thanks to Dr. Who, whenever I am watching or reading something about life in the 1940’s (esp. in Britain), and I see a gas mask, I can’t help but ask, “Are you my mummy?”


Walking in the Woods. Thanks to the movie, “The Blair Witch Project,” I no longer enjoy peaceful walks in the woods (at least not in the autumn, on a cloudy day), and rarely do so alone. I never much fancied camping in the woods before, and I definitely don’t now!

Minor Concerns, but nonetheless…

Leeches/Rivers. Thanks to the movie, “Stand By Me,” I can no longer wade in a river without wondering if leeches or some other insect will (unbeknownst to me) attach itself to me draining my blood in a most painful way.

Swimming in a large lake/ocean. Not that I was too keen on ever doing this before, but after seeing “Jaws” I’m even more reluctant now (this is a long standing childhood fear).

Showering. I still do shower, but occasionally think of “Psycho.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interesting Photo-Related Items I've Recently Come Across

First, there was the news story about the husband and wife who realized their paths had crossed nearly thirty years ago when they were both children visiting Disneyland/world (the news story doesn’t say which one). According to the story, Alex and Donna Voutsinas were looking over old pictures just prior to their wedding when Alex recognized his dad (from the sweater he was wearing) in the background of one of the photos. They took the photo to his mother who was able to verify that it was indeed Alex in the stroller being pushed by his dad, behind Donna and her brothers being photographed with one of the Disney characters. I think there was even something said about Alex’s Dad still having that same sweater.

When I told my husband he reminded me that wasn't ever a possibility for us since he grew up in England (and had never visited America before coming over for college) and I in America. However, Alex Voutsinas was apparently in Canada and Donna in Florida, so that’s quite a distant for paths to cross.

link to news story:

The other interesting photo-related item I came across last week was an episode of “Red Dwarf” [Season 3, Episode 5, “Timeslides”] dating back to 1989 in which, “The developing fluid that Kryten uses to process old photographs mutates and the photographs come alive. The Red Dwarf crew find they can go into the photograph, and Lister finds that the photographs allow them to go back in time and he plans on changing history so that he doesn't end up marooned in deep space.” (acc. to IMDB summary).

At the beginning of the episode Lister is fed up with how trivial his life has become with all the silly games they invent as “more and more creative ways to waste time.” I hear you Lister! (having a job where a large part of my time is spent reading periodicals or surfing the web to stave off the boredom between phone calls and assignments).

After his tirade is over, Kryten calls the crew and tells them to come to the photo lab because an interesting situation has just developed (that’s not his exact words, but I just love a good cliché’!). We see the photos hanging on a rope, each photo alive in the same way they’re animated in all the Harry Potter movies. However, unlike in Harry Potter, you can actually step into the frame of each photo, but only just within the frame (which, at first, doesn’t exactly solve Lister’s problem of wanting to get back to earth).

Of course Lister quickly figures out a way he can get back to earth by altering the past/future by visiting himself at 17 years old and giving him an invention (bubble wrap painted red as a stress reliever) he can claim as his own, thus becoming a millionaire and not having to resort to joining the Space Corps (or whatever it was called). It works and soon three out of four of the men are gone leaving just Rimmer and the computer, Holly. Rimmer, not wishing to spend the rest of eternity alone, goes back to his past and tries to give the invention to his childhood self, failing miserably, but restoring history bringing back his ship-mates and becoming alive (instead of a hologram) again (at least until he’s blown up at the end of the episode).

Just think, if you could go back inside any photo, which would you choose and would you purposely try to change your future? That’s a dangerous question, because (supposing this were even possible) the simple act of stepping into a photo, especially when other people can see you, is bound to alter history, even if only in a minor way.

I would love to go back and see some of my grandparents again, but what would you say to them? Remember, they’re alive at that point in time and have no reference to the future, so they’d think you were mad. Okay, so maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Of course the temptation is to go back and “fix history” by preventing war and other great disasters and calamities. Kryten makes a joke about going back to Dallas in November 1963 and shouting to Kennedy, “Duck!”

There’s a lot of things I would love to change about my past, but by doing so, it would be unlikely I’d end up meeting my husband, who is the one thing about my past, present and future I absolutely would not change.

Today (Monday) I read a news story about a digital camera encased in a water-proof shell that recently floated up near a Key West marina. Apparently it was discovered by a Coast Guard investigator and the camera, thanks to its protective shell, was completely intact. Wishing to find its owners, he dowloaded the contents and discovered an interesting video (apparently triggered by the sea turtle who inadvertently got caught in the camera's flailing cord). Chalk one up for reliable technology (both the camera and most especially its durable case)! Through a little detective work, he was able to track down its owners, so the story has a happy ending. link to news story:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who would be your literary BFF?

A few weeks ago, this was the topic of a blog I subscribe to (and have mentioned before) called MWF seeking BFF (Married White Female seeking Best Female Friend). I thought it was an intriguing concept, so I took the bait, and here's my answers:

I always liked the trio of roommates in the Canby Hall book series: Dana-independent city girl, Faith-determined and practical, and Shelley-naive, small town girl. Since Faith was a photographer, I would probably enjoy hanging out with her, but Dana sounds like a lot of fun. I probably have the most in common with Shelley, but as I’m determined to shed that small town girl past, I think I probably wouldn’t hang out with her. I seem to recall the character of Casey, who was somewhat of a rebellious “bad girl,” whom I’m sure I’d probably get into trouble with at least once.

I probably could have very easily been friends with any of the characters in any of Judy Blume’s books, Summer Sisters being my favorite. That is the ultimate book about the bond of female friendship.

Beverly Cleary’s “Sheila” character reminds me so much of myself at her age that I probably could have been her friend too.

I agree that Bridget Jones would be fun to go drinking with to wallow in our misery. Plus, she used to work in publishing, which is something I’ve dreamed about from time to time. I think it’s great that she can fail, and just pull herself back up, get over it, and move on.

I went through a phase where I was interested in being a private detective, but not sure I would have been brave enough to be Nancy Drew’s sidekick. Saying that, didn’t Bess used to be a little bit of a coward? That would definitely be me!

I almost hate to admit that I read chick lit, but I really enjoy the Shopaholic book series written by Sophie Kinsella. Rebecca sounds like she would be a great shopping sister, but I tend to go more for second hand stuff rather than expensive high end goods (Prada, Louis Vitton, etc.) like she does. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes have label envy and desire to flaunt my wealth (if I had any), but I don’t tend to.

I also hate to admit how much like Hermione Granger I was while growing up (enjoying my time in the library and always had my nose in a book), so I definitely could have been friends with her. It also doesn’t hurt that she was friends with Ron and Harry, so I could have been part of the “In” crowd for once.

I think it would have been fun to be friends with a Princess, like Mia in the Princess Diaries book series. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’ve read one or two (maybe three, but that’s it!). I never really cared much for her friend Lilly, who seemed a little too obsessive with things, but to her credit, didn’t seem in awe of her friend as much as I would have.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Interesting" Recipes to Make

Here’s a couple fun/funny recipes to try (BTW, none are my own creations):

1 bag Oreos, crushed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
½ stick softened margarine
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 pkgs. instant chocolate pudding
3 ½ cups milk
1 (12 oz.) container Cool Whip

Cream together cream cheese, margarine, and sugar. Mix together pudding, milk, and Cool Whip. Combine chocolate mixture with creamed mixture. Stir well.

In flower pot, layer mixture with crushed Oreo cookies, ending with cookies on top. Add silk flowers and plastic shovel for serving.

-- The PTA Pantry
(can’t remember which cookbook I got this from, but I’ve probably see in it elsewhere too, like the Family Fun magazine).

Kitty Litter Cake for Halloween
By Cheri Sicard
(copied from this website)

This clever Halloween cake recipe, that frightfully resembles a well used kitty litter box, is actually delicious, despite its appearance. For the proper presentation, use a brand new (and definitely unused) plastic cat litter box and spoon it onto plates with a new (NEVER used) pooper scooper.

Be warned, generally this cake will not get eaten much. People just can't seem to get back the appearance, no matter how good it may taste. Go figure.

1 spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 white cake mix
2 large packages vanilla instant pudding mix, prepared
1 large package vanilla sandwich cookies
green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Roll candies

1 new kitty litter pan
1 new kitty litter pan liner
1 new pooper scooper

Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions (any size pans). Prepare pudding mix and chill until ready to assemble. Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops of green food coloring and mix until completely colored.

When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Toss with half the remaining white cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. Important: mix in just enough of the pudding to moisten it. You don't want it too soggy. Combine gently.
Line a new, clean kitty litter box. Put the cake/pudding/cookie mixture into the litter box.

Put 3 unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more Tootsie rolls bury them in the mixture. Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly on top of everything -- this is supposed to look like the chlorophyll in kitty litter.

Heat 3 Tootsie Rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake; sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Spread remaining Tootsie Rolls over the top. For the coup de gras take one Tootsie Roll and heat until pliable, hang it over the side of the kitty litter box, sprinkling it lightly with cookie crumbs. Place the box on a newspaper and sprinkle a few of the cookie crumbs around for a truly disgusting effect!

Further notes:

I had a reader write in saying this recipe only needed half the amount of pudding. I personally liked the cake with the amount given in this recipe. But feel free to use this as a loose guideline, use more or less as you see the need. Also, since the layer of cookies (with the chloropyll green specks, covers the top, you could really use any flavor or flavors or cakes underneath.

Last but not least, you can also opt not to crumble the cakes, but rather layer them in the pan with the layers of pudding in between (much like you would layer a trifle into a trifle dish), sprinkle the top layer of pudding with a heavy layer of crumbled cookies. Same effect, different texture entirely to the dessert.

Friday, May 21, 2010

helping me type...

helping me type..., originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Tamsin likes to surf the web too : ) Actually, she just likes to follow the cursor around the screen and then try to catch it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Invention of the Internet

I just came across an interesting item on one of my favorite websites. The article is entitled, “Life Without the Web” If You Grow Up on the Internet, Are You Better Equipped To Use It Responsibly? By James Sturm

It’s not actually an article. Instead, it’s a series of cartoons people have drawn to illustrate their feelings about the internet. Since I can’t draw, I’ll have to use words instead, so here goes –

I belong to the majority of those who didn’t grow up with the internet, but am part of the mass of people who had computers for at least part of their childhood (high school for me). The internet didn’t really come in to use until I was in college, towards the end of my academia actually. By the time I graduated in 1994, I was occasionally looking things up on the web, but usually not for very long. After all, these were the days before Broadband. If you were on the internet, your phone line would be tied up. Since I lived at home for several years after graduation, I certainly didn’t want my parents to get angry because their line was busy while I was on the computer.

Having use of the internet was a God-send in the days before international phone calls came down in price, or at least before I could afford my own calling plan. My future husband and I would go into a private chat room and maybe talk for up to an hour at a time for nothing more than the cost of a local call (I think).

It was also nice to have the internet as an information source. I remember my best friend and I once looking up information on Toyota Rav4s, since she was dreaming about purchasing one.

The World Wide Web being an almost bottomless pit of information is definitely one of the main benefits I receive from it. At least once a week or more I will grab our Netbook to look up something as it spontaneously crosses my mind. This has made phone books pretty much redundant in our house, because most of the time I prefer to look up a phone number on the internet, rather than bend down and grab a phone book out of the cupboard. It would probably take the same amount of time, but nevertheless, that’s what I do!

The other thing I really like about the World Wide Web is the way it sort of brings us all together as global citizens who have more in common than one might think. I think photo sharing websites are particularly demonstrative of this since people from all over the world will post pictures of their kids, as well as the places they live and visit, as well as pictures of the food they eat, books they read, etc. I definitely enjoy contributing my own photos, as well as seeing what others post (on flickr particularly).

The World Wide Web would definitely be in my top three list of best inventions of the Twentieth Century.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Having subscribed to this blog: (MWF Seeking BFF) has made me think about what I would want in a new friend, so I came up with this ad:


Looking for someone in which to share a casual friendship. Must live within about a 10-15 mile radius. Must share at least some of the same likes and hobbies (see below). Must not have children.* Must be a good listener and must not always insist on solving every one of my problems. Must be available for the occasional lunch or dinner or other social activity (of which I will call well in advance whenever possible).

* Not wishing to sound selfish, but it’s hard enough to coordinate schedules without having to compete with family members as well. Plus, I want to hear about you, not your children, which tends not to be the case with those who are parents.


Must like to take photos or be patient while I do so. Must like animals (having your own pets optional). Must like to read. Must like some of the same TV programs (no reality TV please!), and must like to see movies. Must like chocolate and the occasional glass of wine. Must like to go shopping, or not mind being dragged around the mall. Must like to travel.

Am I being too rigid here? I figure it doesn’t hurt to shoot for the moon, and hope for the best!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Philosophy of Packing vs. Rick Steves

As my husband and I prepare to undergo yet another vacation, the age-old quandary looms – what to pack???

Thanks to Rick Steves’ “Essential Packing Checklist” included in our Italy (and probably all) guidebook, I don’t have to face that dilemma. However, I do beg to differ about some points. Being a man, I don’t expect he could/should tell a woman what to pack.

5 shirts – depending on how long I am travelling, I might pack more or less, but if I had to, I’m sure I could survive on that many. I try to mix it up with different sleeve lengths, usually plain, or at least nothing offensive or anything that screams, “I’m just a hick from the Midwest!” I also try to select shirts that I may not have been previously photographed in so that it looks like I have a diverse (or at least well-packed) wardrobe.

1 sweater or lightweight fleece jacket – again, I might pack more than that, but could probably survive on one or the other. I prefer zip-up sweatshirts, but that’s just me.

2 pairs pants (or trousers if you’re European) – I would probably choose two pairs of jeans, and maybe one pair of “dressy pants,” but he’s pretty much right on the money here.

1 pair shorts – Depending on how hot it is wherever I’m travelling, might want more than that (and we found out the hard way a couple times).

1 swimsuit (for women only since he suggests men can get by with shorts) – I usually end up packing it to use in the hotel pool, but then never end up actually using it, so it stays home.

5 pairs underwear and socks – he doesn’t seem to mind washing things out or going to a Laundromat, but since these are relatively small items, I usually bring at least one pair for each day we’re on vacation.

1 pair of shoes – I almost always end up bringing at least 3 pair. I pack two pair of walking shoes, and then a pair that can be worn with a dress or skirt. I also have a pair of water proof shoes (that I wouldn’t wear at any other time since they make my feet sweat) I sometimes throw in for soggy days.

1 rain proof jacket – a definite necessity!

tie or scarf – I wear neither and we usually don’t go places requiring that strict a dress code, so both would be left out for us.

Everything else on the list is non-clothing related, and fairly sensible.

Friday, April 23, 2010

May 4 Memorial

May 4 Memorial, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

40th Anniversaries this year

April 10, 1970 Paul McCartney announces the Beatles
would never work together again
April 22, 1970 First Earth Day
May 4, 1970 Four Students Killed and Nine Injured at
Kent State University

These are just three events that happened the year I was born, but all three have affected me in one way or another.

I am a huge Beatles fan. Actually, at least according to my husband, you have to like a specific album and listen to all their music instead of just the popular tunes, to qualify as a “huge” fan, so I guess I would just say I like them “quite a lot.” I’ve been to Liverpool and seen where many of the Fab Four grew up, as well as to NYC where John later moved with Yoko Ono. I’ve also seen some of their movies, as well as films about them. I haven’t read many books about them yet, but am amassing a small collection for reading later. I think their music does so much to define the decade even though it was the end of era for them.

To be honest, I didn’t do much to commemorate Earth Day this year (aside from picking up a stray cigarette box), but I like to think I do something everyday to be green from recycling and reusing as many things as possible, to trying to be more energy efficient. I am a fan of Ed Bagley Jr. and try to never miss his show, “Living with Ed.” I still have a long way to go before I’ll be anywhere close to his level of “greenness,” but I’m working on it.

Having been a student at Kent State University, and being born two months before May 4, 1970 happened, I feel a special connection to the whole event. I also lived in the same dorm as Allison Krause, one of the murdered students. We may have even shared the same room. I guess I’ll never know.

The fact that what happened that day in May made national news, and thus ensured Kent State a secure place in history, may have influenced my decision somewhat to attend there. Let’s just say that you can’t attend KSU and not be influenced by it somewhat, at least not if you happen to walk past the memorials everyday like I did. Plus, there’s the annual commemoration every May. As a one-time staff member of the Daily Kent Stater, I once got to meet one of the injured (actually paralyzed) students, Dean Kahler, who, at the time, I believe was an Athens County Commissioner. He was with his young daughter who had lots of questions about the whole thing, like wanting to know if the students died right there (pointing at marked spots in the parking lot). I even came back for the 25th anniversary in which Mary Ann Vecchio (the girl in the famous photo) made an appearance. I do not plan on attending the 40th commemoration due to work conflicts, but I will take a moment out of my day to quietly remember the four who would have been about my parent’s age if they were alive today.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Not flossing your teeth can lead to cavities (half a mouthfull later....)

Styrofoam doesn't hold up very well in a microwave!

Eating too much can lead to a stomache – unfortunately I don't always seem to remember this lesson!

Chili powder is something that should be measured and only used conservatively (as opposed to just shaking some in like I just did – hooottt!)

When recipes suggest softening butter to room temperature, be sure not to nuke it until it melts since that consistency doesn't always work for every recipe.

Pouring fabric softener directly onto your laundry will stain it (oops!).

If you put away your clothes straight away instead of piling them up, they're less likely to get wrinkled. Same goes for why you should get clothes right out of the dryer.

Just because you're warm at the moment, doesn't mean you should leave your sweater at home. It will eventually cool down in the evening (most of the time), not to mention how heavily air-conditioned some places can be. Hence, tie your sweater around your waist or leave it in the car where you can grab it later if you want. This is also another reason why mom was right when she said you should always 'dress in layers.'

Caulk is difficult to remove from your fingers, but not as bad as super glue (hence, always wear gloves when glue is involved).

Always read the fine print (and some that's not even that small). That would have saved me accidentally buying two LPs instead of CDs, an oversized reel-to-reel player, and an earlier edition of a video game.

Make sure you know the difference between the lock and unlock position on the button on the inside of your car door (which could mean the difference between unlocking all the doors or locking your keys inside like I just did).

New addition to list:

Always check the weather forecast when visiting somewhere far from home. There's nothing worse than being woefully unprepared for temperatures either colder or warmer than what you expected. Of course it's not always possible to get an accurate forecast, in which case see 'dress in layers' above.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Trying to Restore the Novelty Value

A couple blogs I read regularly provide tips for simplifying, organizing, and decluttering your life, all things I want to know about. However, when it comes to putting your money where your mouth is, so-to-speak, I have a much harder time.

Having just recently had my hours reduced (at work), and hence, my paychecks, I believe now is the time to really put these ideas to work. One thing I’ve already done is sort through my VHS tapes (yes, I still have some, being the dinosaur I am) and DVDs. I managed to come up with a pretty good stack I plan to donate to a local senior center (being that they’re all B/W classics). I also have another stack to watch before donating. Just by doing this I managed to free up a bit of space in the drawer where they’re stored. I also checked Netflix and was able to determine which I can stream through a home computer (or games system too I think), rendering the item somewhat redundant to keep.

Keeping spending to a minimum will be harder to do since I almost always find at least one superfluous item on a shopping trip. I guess the best way to avoid that is to just stay out of the stores. This time of year (with the warmer weather), it’s certainly much easier, but there’s always temptation to do a little online shopping (amazon, ebay, and etsy being my three favorite stores).

While going through my videos and dvds, and seeing how many things I still have yet to watch, the thought occurred to me, 'this is like discovering buried treasure.' With the amount of stuff I have on DVR, DVD, and VHS, it will probably be several months before I need to go out and rent something new, which is a happy thought.

I also have several Wii games I hardly ever play, and a new one I just got for my birthday, so there’s still a lot of longevity left in those.

I won’t even get into how many books I have squirreled away for a rainy day, but I easily have several years’ worth to read just under my own roof.

I guess the whole key is to entertain yourself with what you already have by “trying to restore the novelty value.”

Of course I’m not saying this concept will last forever. A time will come when I have listened to every CD, watched every video/dvd, played every Wii game, and read every book, but it certainly won’t be for quite awhile, so I should just enjoy the fruits I’ve been blessed with, instead of searching for more – just yet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ways in Which I am Like my Grandparents….

Pap Siedel
He was my great-grandfather and lived to be about 90 I think. I definitely get my gift of gab from him.

Grandma Denison
Although I didn’t really get to know her very well, I did have a couple things in common with her. For one thing, we both worked in retail as I seem to recall her once having a job at Gray Drug (a drugstore that’s now long gone). We both had a sweet tooth because I’ll never forget that chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting she once made for my dad. (insert yummy noises here).

Grandma Rackow
I probably had the most in common with her. I think our personalities were the most similar. I’ve seen photos of her with this kind of half scowl on her face and I can’t get over how similar I must look when I make the same face.

Although she never drove a car (to the best of my knowledge), she still worried whenever my grandpa drove on treacherous winter roads. I definitely don’t enjoy driving in winter weather, and make no secret about it. Grandma also enjoyed her food, and I do too, but take it in moderation these days. She liked to spoil us grandchildren and I like to spoil my nieces and nephews. She enjoyed spending the day outside relaxing at a metro park or anywhere else with beautiful scenery, as I do too.

Grandpa Rackow
We both enjoyed photography and I’m sure he would have happily embraced digital technology if he was alive today. In fact, at one time we both even owned the same model camera – the Canon FTB (produced around the time I was born in the early 70’s). He kicked himself for not giving me his camera when I needed one for a college photography course, but sometimes the timing of these things doesn’t quite work out. I still have that camera today and don’t plan on ever parting with it.

Late in life, Grandpa and I enjoyed many of the programs on BBC like “The Vicar of Dibley” and “As Time Goes By.” It’s because of him that I went to a book signing and got to meet Dame Judi Dench. I only hope he was watching from above : )

Grandpa Goff
I definitely gained my appreciation for all things Tiffany from him. I’m not sure how many stained glass lamps he churned out in his lifetime, but I am grateful to be the proud owner of one and will always treasure it. I also learned all about stained glass and rose windows, an interest I picked up from him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ten Best Days of My Life

The Ten Best Days of My Life by Adena Halpern

A heavenly novel about what truly matters in life. In this hilarious and heartwarming first novel, twenty-nine year old Alexandra Dorenfield suddenly finds herself in heaven after an unfortunate encounter with a Mini Cooper. The seventh—and highest—level of heaven to be exact. Her dog Peaches is with her; she is reunited with her beloved grandparents; she has the wardrobe of a movie star; and she lives in the house of her dreams next door to a handsome guy. This is heaven! But there’s a catch. Alex must prove she led a fulfilling existence by writing an essay on the ten best days of her life— or she will be demoted to a lower level of heaven, where the clothes are last year’s styles, the men aren’t quite as handsome, and worst of all, Peaches and her family won’t be nearby. Witty and inspiring, this divine debut novel dares to ask a material girl—and the rest of us—what makes life precious.

(summary from

This is a book I recently came across on my friend’s shelf on the website Although I haven’t read it, I have it on reserve at my local library. This book got me thinking about my own life and my own ten best days. After much contemplation, I could only come up with about five examples from about the last 15 years or so. I’m sure I had many happy days in my childhood, but I think it’s easier to be happy when you’re a child because you have less adult responsibilities to weigh you down.

1) my 24th Birthday 3/20/94

Even though I was away at college, I had a boyfriend (who later became my husband) and a good friend who lived upstairs in my dorm. We had a fun day out taking in a matinee of a ballet performance of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” I called my grandparents during a lull between waiting for bus transportation back. Went to dinner after getting back to my university, and finished the evening with a chocolate cake my friend had baked for me (and alcoholic beverages!). It was a day where I felt truly loved by those around me.

2) Spring Break afternoon shopping spree, 1999, Gloucester

Since I was on flexi-time, I was allowed to work half a day and then leave. I think my employer (MAFF) was also letting people leave early since the next day was a holiday (Good Friday). I remember walking home (on a gorgeous warm sunny day) and then catching the bus into town for an afternoon shopping spree. I have no idea how much I spent, but the weather was nice and I just loved the whole wonderful carefree feeling.

3) the day one of my best friends arrived for a visit in the UK, Dec. 1999, Gloucester

One of my close friends had just finished her time in the Peace Corps (in Mali, West Africa) and had arranged to fly back to the states via London. This allowed a brief window of opportunity for her to stop and see me and my husband for a few days. One of my happiest memories of her visit is watching her sit sideways in our old lumpy second-hand chair, her legs hanging over the side, while reading excerpts aloud from our Lonely Planet French language guide. We especially enjoyed the translation for “I am a heroine addict. Where is your nearest clinic?” (or something like that).

4) the day my parents arrived for a visit in the UK, June, 2000

Their visit was something I had (literally) dreamed about since moving to the UK almost a couple years earlier. It was everything I wanted it to be and then some. I remember making them a dinner of pasta bake for their first night, wishing to show off my newly-acquired cooking skills. My sister presented me with a belated birthday present of a little scrapbook featuring my dog Comet, whom I had left behind when moving to England. I thought the scrapbook was a touching gesture and made me cry. It’s still one of my most cherished possessions.

5) the day I went to Bristol all by myself to see the Titanic exhibit at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, summer 2002?

For starters, it was an unseasonably warm day in England, but most welcome. I probably wore shorts (making me a dead giveaway as an American) and a t-shirt. I rode the Park ‘n Ride bus to town, then took a train to Bristol Temple Meads. From there it was only a short walk to the adjacent museum. Among the many Titanic relics on display was the largest item I had ever seen – that being a deck chair (yes, really!) that had been aboard ship, but removed in Cherbourg I think and given to someone affiliated with the White Star Line as thanks for their service to the line, or something like that.

Because I was alone (and not with my husband), I opted to hit the gift shop first knowing that’s all I’d think about when viewing the exhibit. Among other things I bought a t-shirt that is one of the softest and most comfortable shirts I own, something I count among my prized possessions today. After leaving the museum I bought a sickly sweet waffle with chocolate oozing all over it. I couldn’t finish it, but what I did eat was quite good.

The day was special because the weather was nice, and I loved the feeling of independence of being able to travel on my own, choose my own souvenirs and eat whatever junk food I felt like, and getting to see stuff that was once on the Titanic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cereal Box Toys

As I was sorting a box of craft supplies the other day I found a baggie full of fake coins/tokens, some of which I am pretty sure were cereal box giveaways. This got me to thinking, “Do you even find such a thing anymore?” The last thing I seem to recall getting free (attached to the outside of a box of Honeynut Cheerios) was an excerpt from the book “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” Nowadays it seems you only get coupons you must save up in order to then purchase a second-rate item.

Maybe it’s not a bad idea that toys were discontinued. I remember endless arguments with my brother and sister over whose turn it was to keep the toy. Sometimes it went to whomever was quick and sly enough to appropriate it from the box. Other times my mom settled the argument (by either giving it to one of us or tossing it out).

Some of the cereal box items I’ve saved from my childhood include a set of miniature license plates (which I just saw on E-bay), assorted small plastic toys, tiny 3-D cards that move when you hold them a certain way, and decals and stickers. I also recall the small 45rpm records you’d have to cut off the box and then place coins on top to keep them from wobbling while you’d play them. Another favorite was the small rubbery wacky wall walker that you threw at the wall and watched as it slowly walked down until falling to the ground. The only problem with that toy is the dirtier it got, the less it would stick to the wall. Hours of fun while it lasted though!

I guess kids today have to stick with boxes of Cracker Jacks, or McDonalds/Burger King kids’ meals if they want a toy with their meal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Great Quotes

“The world’s cities will be our home. Come tour with me.”
“That’s how I proposed.”

-- said by the character, Diago, during an excerpt from the exposition of the film “Departures”

“It’s Not Worth the Fight.”

-- quote from and the theme of an episode of ABC’s “The Middle.”

“That’s too many grandparents!”

-- 3½ yr. old Carter’s response when being told all 6 of his grandparents, plus one great grandparent, would be attending his sister’s birthday party.

One day my cousin Cheryl was driving down I-270 with her two young (18 mos. & 3½ yrs. old) daughters and they saw the Budweiser plant puffing smoke out of its smoke stacks. Cheryl asked her older daughter, “Where does smoke come from?” Her daughter thought about it for a minute and answered, “Cooking!” Cheryl tried not to be offended since she doesn’t think she burns too many things in the kitchen.

One day my kindergarten-age nephew had to write a little report about how he’d spent his time over Christmas break. Among other things, he wrote, “I played on the (Nintendo) Wii.” My sister and her husband questioned him about it because he actually played very little on the Wii, and instead spent more time on their (Sony) Playstation. His reply, “I couldn’t spell Playstation!”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Fight to End Childhood Obesity

First lady: Childhood obesity fight is about fitness, not looks

As someone who was always on the cusp of being overweight (at least in my opinion), I applaud the first lady for what she’s trying to do. We both recognize that keeping children to a healthy weight, needs to start at home. No offense to my parents, but my dad always had a sweet tooth (and still does!), so there was no shortage of sweets in the house. To go without dessert was a punishment, but something I do voluntarily today (though I kind of miss it). I think it would be easier to keep that routine today if that’s what I was used to.

According to the article on, “The average soda contains 110 calories, yet many kids drink one or more a day.” I guess we either weren’t average, or it was just a different time, because we were only allowed “pop” on the weekends. We usually split just one or two bottles between our family of five. By bottles, I mean the 26 oz. contour size that is no longer manufactured today, or at least not very commonly. We drank either Kool-Aid or milk the rest of the time. Since we had well water growing up, its taste left a lot to be desired, so none of us ever regularly drank it straight from the tap.

Unlike my brother and sister, I almost never bought lunch. I think I was always afraid I wouldn’t have anywhere to sit, so preferred to grab a chair and join my friends as soon as I could. Plus, I was very much a creature of habit and preferred brown bagging it most of the time. Sadly, I still do that today, but do occasionally allow myself to eat once in awhile to break up a dull routine.

I think parents should also encourage kids to get as much physical activity as possible. As someone who likes to read, and was never very interested in sports, it was sometimes difficult to pry myself away from a good book or the TV.

Sedentary kids, like I once was, are lucky that today there’s the Nintendo Wii Fit if all else fails. I have one and try to use it at least once a week. I also found, as an adult, a few different (non team) sports that I actually like, and in which I am reasonably competent, so never say never!

If nothing else, there’s always your own two feet. Getting out and taking a walk every day is one of the best forms of exercise. During bad weather the mall is a great place to burn off a few calories as long as you can keep moving and stay out of the stores!

I belong to a gym and try to use that on a weekly basis, but most gyms don’t cater to kids. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to perhaps invest in your own equipment – like a stationary bike or a treadmill. I find it motivating to use at home because I can exercise in front of the TV while enjoying my HGTV or a dvd.

At the end of the day, we all just need to get up and get moving, cut down our portion size and make a few more healthy choices. The difficult part is finding the motivation, but that’s another column for another day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day

Don’t worry if you don’t know about this. Chances are, unless you are of Jewish descent, a WWII veteran, or a European expatriate, this will be news to you since Holocaust Memorial Day rarely gets a mention by the American media (not even NPR which holds itself up to some of the highest standards).

After checking several different (American) online news sources, the only article I could find was on CNN, which has a story about an American soldier remembering the liberation of Auschwitz.

Of course there are several big news stories that are still monopolizing the headlines, the main one being the devastation in Haiti following the January 12 earthquake. There’s also President Obama’s up coming (tonight) State of the Union address. If you’re a techie like my husband, you were probably eagerly awaiting word of Apple’s latest gadget (rumored to be a tablet size computer).

It is all these things that have pushed the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Concentration Camps like Auschwitz and Birkenau very much to the back pages if mentioned at all in America. This is just further proof how geocentric our world view (as Americans) is, most not knowing or caring what goes on beyond our borders. Should we blame the media or should we blame ourselves?

Either way, each one of us should take a quiet moment today and say a prayer for all those who perished in the camps, and pray that such genocide never happens again (it still does but on a much smaller scale).

Friday, January 22, 2010

10 Things that would make Women Happier (poll)

January 2009 Real Simple Poll:

Real Simple surveyed 2,600 women and men on their keys to happiness – profound and otherwise.

10 Things that would make Women Happier:

1. A permanently clean home.
2. A luxury trip.
3. A big house.
4. Losing 10 pounds.
5. A great body.
6. Time for themselves.
7. A really romantic relationship.
8. Being smarter.
9. Saying “no” more.
10. A luxury car.

Differences on the man’s list:

6. A better sex life.
10. Having a personal assistant.
(men didn’t list ‘time for themselves’ or ‘say no more’)

My thoughts on the subject:

I agree with six out of the ten things on the women’s list. The four things I don’t need/want are: a big house (there’s something to be said for coziness you know!), to lose 10 pounds. I guess I’d be happy to stay at about 115 pounds for at least a few more years. As it is, I tend to only fluctuate by about 3 pounds or so. I don’t really have a problem saying no, but it’s more that not many demands are placed on me outside of work. Being “child free” immediately frees me up from so many responsibilities except for the occasional job of babysitting my sister’s kids. I also don’t need a luxury car. I’m still not sure what kind of car I would want if money were no object. It would be nice to have a chauffer though sometimes! I agree with the men in that, I definitely wouldn’t mind a personal assistant! (to help me finally sort/archive all my photos, negatives, and slides).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miep Gies

Miep Gies, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

(photo from Associated Press)

the Death of Miep Gies

Yesterday, on January 11, one of twentieth century's quiet heroes passed away at the age of 100. Miep Gies, whom most presumably know, helped out (by way of daily grocery deliveries, etc.) the Frank family while they were in hiding in Amsterdam during WWII.

Having visited the Anne Frank House just after September 11, 2001, and having read her diary several times, I can get a feel for the sense of duty Miep must have felt in wanting to help the Frank family. Of course this assistance by Miep didn't come without its risks, and I doubt many of us (myself included) could have been so brave.

I admire Miep for her modesty. True, she didn't do as much as some people. Probably the best known is Oscar Schindler who is credited for saving about 1200 jews during WWII. However, Miep, without knowing it, gave the public an even greater gift - the diary of Anne Frank.

As the media has reported, Miep recovered it from the Frank's rooms above the storehouse and kept it in her desk until after Anne died and the war was over, before returning it to Otto Frank. Little did she know that book would still be published more than 60 years later in over 70 languages. It's thanks to Miep's discernment, and Otto Frank's agreement to publish her diary that we have this legacy.