Friday, June 30, 2017

Performing One Of The Oldest Textile Arts

Sewing the seat cover.  Photo by MacG.
I knew when my friends rolled into town that I was going to have some sewing projects lined up.  Marlaina and I had been emailing and already discussed modifying her sheets to fit the bunk in her truck, and creating a new duvet cover.

What I didn't realize is that I'd be hunched over a sewing machine for days.  Like a Sri Lankan sweatshop worker.

OK, so it wasn't really that bad.  My house does have awesome air-conditioning.  And snacks.  And Diet Coke.  The Sri Lankans should be so lucky.  

The first order of the day was to take her Tempur-Pedic mattress cover and make it smaller to fit the bunk size mattress.  I had to cut it down from king size to twin and I had to recreate a zipper stop.  I've been sewing for years, but when it comes to zippers, I break into a sweat.  They're not the easiest thing but I was going to attempt it.  How bad could it be?  I wasn't too worried because really, who's going to see it?  It turned out quite well. I did a pretty good job on the zipper and the cover fits perfectly.

One project down, three to go.

The next project involved cutting the sheets to fit the bed and making a handy little foldover kind of pocket to slide over one end.  I did this to my sheets because Ed has a tendency to roll over and pull all the sheets with him.  They would always wind up untucked and bunched up underneath him when we woke.  I solved that problem with my modification and Marlaina wanted to implement my "invention".

The only concern I had with doing Marlaina's sheets is the fact that one sheet - a flat sheet in this case - costs $220.00. One sheet.  No fitted sheet, no pillow cases, nothing. Granted, we got them on sale, but that doesn't ease my mind at all because the sheet on sale, still costs $110.00.

I measured carefully, pinned precisely, and sewed slowly.  There was no room for error.  I knew, because of the nature of the fabric, that I wouldn't be able to successfully rip out the stitching if I screwed up without damaging the sheet.  I work fast, I do things without directions or instruction, and usually, I wind up with something that works as intended.  My patience during this project paid off because project number two turned out just fine.

The third project was making a duvet cover.  We needed to cover the comforter Marlaina had that belonged to her mother.  It was lightweight, filled with feathers, but old and stained from years of use.  The duvet cover they currently had was too heavy and was difficult for Marlaina to maneuver in the truck when making the bed in the small, cramped space.  She wanted a cover that complemented the airiness of the feather quilt.

We found two twin sheets (thankfully, not $200 dollar sheets!) that I was going to sew together to essentially make a big pillowcase.  I planned on putting ties inside each corner, which would secure the comforter inside, and buttons on the end to close it all up.

Sewing the three sides was the easy part.  Making buttonholes was the challenge.  I couldn't get the automatic buttonholer on my sewing machine to work so I had to eyeball it, resulting in Frankenstein buttonholes.  Let's just say they're not beautiful, but they are functional.  And, when turned under in the buttoning process, aren't even seen.  We deemed the duvet cover a raging success.  Marlaina loved it!

And the last and final project was a protective seat cover for the truck to be used when MacGyver gets in the cab wearing dirty clothes.  You never know when a spot of grease, taking the journey on the back of your work clothes, might wind up smack dab in the middle of your seat.

Photo by MacG
I used the old duvet cover for this project and even added a little monogram as a joke - K for King.

I really hope that moniker doesn't go to his head.  Because next time they visit, he'll be expecting me to sew a velvet robe with ermine trim.

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Helping Hand

2015: Mickey Is Electric!
2014: High Floor, King Bed, River View
2013: Pitchin' Melon
2012: As If The Heat, The Dust, And The Politics Weren’t Bad Enough
2011: My Office Window
2010: All The Live-long Day
2009: What Every Child Leaves Behind
2008: What Happened To Being Human?
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere, Man
2006: Gulf Shore Toe Magnets
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Home Of The Twelve Dollar Burger

Tried a new restaurant today, locally owned Truland Burgers & Greens.

I think it opened earlier this year and Ed and I had been planning to check it out.  My mother told us her friends said, "The burgers are nine dollars.  And you don't even get fries with them!"

They're right.  The burgers start at $8.95 and you don't get fries.  Everything is à la carte.  I had the Shroom & Swiss burger and my friend had the Truland Classic.  We split a basket of fries.

I liked it.  It's not my favorite burger place, and it's not the best burger place, but it's close to the house, the food was decent, and it has a nice atmosphere.

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Monsoon Mountain

2015: Patriotic Blooms
2014: Someone's Going Home With This
2013: Hey Cutie!
2012: I’ll Have To Pry It From Her Dead, Cold Fingers
2011: Straight Talk
2010: Who Knew There Were Things To Do Other Than Eating Pie?
2009: 157 Years Of Light
2008: Call Me. We Have Telephones In Nebraska Now.
2007: Reach For The Sky
2006: Sorry, no post on this day.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Separated At Birth?

Our friend, MacG, took this picture of Ed in his riding gear foundations (his Heat-Out crew neck tee and helmet liner, and Bilt cooling vest) and did the side-by-side comparison with The Edge.

For those of you who don't know who The Edge is, he's the "English-born Irish musician and songwriter best known as the lead guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist of the rock band U2".

Don't you feel cooler now?

I'll likely never meet The Edge but I really don't have to, do I?

Because I have The Ed.

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Red Is The Color Of Desire And Love

2015: Cutting Through The Rain To Get To The Sunshine State
2014: Ed Drove A Million Miles To Get Here
2013: When Summer Comes, The Countdown To Fall Begins
2005: Playing Favorites

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

So This Happened In My Kitchen

These two went riding today but yesterday were playing around with their helmets, setting them up so they could talk to each other while on the trip.  And yes, they were walking around the house with them on.  Talking to each other from different rooms.  Like total dorks.

But, Houston did not have any problems.  Lines of communication were open and ready for takeoff.

Boys will definitely be boys.

2013: "License, Registration and Insurance Card, Please"
2012: Welcome To Hell
2011: When She Passes Each One She Passes Goes Ahhhh
2010: The Key To Being Funny
2009: Wishes Really Do Come True
2008: Eddie Plays It Safe Friday
2007: What Road?
2006: I’m STILL Looking To Get Me Some Good BBQ
2005: Say Cheese!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Italian Butterflies

Marlaina and I found these little beauties while shopping today and I made farfalle Farfalle Aglio e Olio with them.  Aglio e olio is a simple sauce that I had all the time as a kid.  It's a quick way to make any kind of pasta into a delicious meal.

And these were pretty to look at!

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Views Of The South

2015: Supreme Love
2014: Unfuzzed

2013: I Think We May Be Following A Derecho. Or Is It An Izquierda?
2012: This One Time, At Summer Camp…
2011: Into The Wild
2010: It Was Clear The Moment You Opened Your Mouth
2009: Eddie Captures A Sunset Friday
2008: Pelicans Enjoying Their Rule Of The Lake
2007: Bigfoot
2006: There Is A Reason People Try To Repress Certain Childhood Memories
2005: Painted Ladies

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Southern Hospitality The Southwestern Way

Our friends arrived today!  It's been 13 months since we last saw them and we are so excited for their arrival.  They'll be the first ones to use our newly redecorated guest room - which includes a few surprises just for them - and a brand new super-comfy mattress that's definitely the star of the show.

They'll be staying for a couple of weeks and we're hoping to log a lot of quality time that'll include food, conversation, wine, laughing, and relaxing.  As you can see, I've stocked up on fruits and veggies, my kitchen counter exploding with color.  Ed even bought a pineapple!  The perfect symbol for their stay.

I learned about the pineapple being the symbol of hospitality when I lived in Alexandria, Virginia. They were everywhere in that beautiful waterfront colonial town!  Door knockers, spoon rests, tea towels, tote bags.  You name it, there was a pineapple version of it.

The following is from Southern Living magazine.  It tells you why the pineapple became the symbol of Southern hospitality:

The rise of the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality in Colonial times no doubt came about because of its rarity. But the tropical fruit had a long journey before it found its present-day purpose as a refreshing cocktail or the ever-popular upside-down cake.

Introduction of Pineapples To Europe
The first recorded encounter between a European and a pineapple occurred in November of 1493, when Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to the Caribbean region, went ashore to inspect a deserted Carib village. Among dense foliage and wooden pillars carved with serpents, his crew came upon piles of freshly gathered vegetables and strange fruits. The European sailors ate, enjoyed and wrote about the curious new fruit, which had an abrasive, segmented exterior like a pine cone and a firm interior pulp like an apple.

Refined cane sugar and fresh fruit were expensive rarities when Columbus returned to Europe and introduced the sweet pineapple. It was an instant hit among the royal court, but it took almost two hundred years before gardeners were able to perfect a hothouse method for growing a tropical pineapple plant. Even in the late 17th century, the pineapple remained so uncommon and coveted that King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait in an act that was symbolic of royal privilege -- receiving a pineapple as a gift.

Across the Ocean
In the small towns and sparse communities of the American colonies, two things worked together to solidify the pineapple’s reputation as a status symbol: sparse supply and high demand. Trade ships brought in preserved pineapple sweetmeats--pineapple chunks candied, glazed and packed in sugar, while the actual whole fruit was even more costly and difficult to obtain. Most of the fruit rotted during the hot, humid, and slow sea voyage from the Caribbean to the colonies. Only the speediest ships, aided by the best weather conditions, could deliver ripe, wholesome pineapples to the confectionery shops of cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Annapolis, and Williamsburg.

The Tradition 
The ability of a hostess to have a pineapple adorn her dining table for an important event said as much about her rank in society as it did about her ingenuity. These beautiful fruits were in such high demand, but so hard to get, that colonial confectioners would often rent them to households by the day. Later, the same fruit was sold to other, more affluent clients who actually ate it. While fruits in general--fresh, dried, candied and jellied--were in great demand, the pineapple was the true celebrity. Its rarity, expense, and striking beauty made it the ultimate exotic fruit. Visitors confronted with pineapple-topped food displays felt particularly honored by a hostess who obviously spared no expense to ensure her guests' dining pleasure. In this manner, the image of the pineapple came to express the sense of hospitality characteristic of gracious home gatherings.

The Legend 
The sea captains of New England traded among the Caribbean Islands, returning to the colonies bearing their heavy cargoes of spices, rum, and a selection of fruits, which sometimes included pineapples. According to the legend, the captain would drop anchor in the harbor and see to his cargo and crew. Once his work was done, he would head home, stopping outside his house to spear a pineapple on a fence post. This would let his friends know of his safe return from sea. The pineapple was an invitation for them to visit, share his food and drink, and listen to tales of his voyage.

As the tradition and legend of the pineapple grew, colonial innkeepers added the pineapple to their signs and advertisements, and bedposts carved in the shape of a pineapple were a common sight at inns across the colonies. It is not surprising that this symbol of friendship and hospitality became a favorite motif of architects, artisans, and craftsmen. The Shirley Plantation of Virginia, a bastion of Southern hospitality since 1613, has a pineapple finial atop its roof, and the motif appears as an architectural element throughout the home. This tradition continues today, for pineapples are still popular motifs for gateposts, door knockers, and beautiful serving pieces.

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The Short List

2015: From I Love Lucy To The Lily Of The Valley
2014: We Were Ear!!
2013: This Disturb's Me 
2012: Not Sure The Money Will Follow
2011: Trucking Al Fresco
2010: 3000 Miles To Squidland
2009: It Could Be Africa If It Weren’t For The Schlitterbahn
2008: How To Ace A Job Interview
2007: Diver Down
2006: Day Tripping
2005: Nipple Rock

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Passing Through

Ed went riding today at Redington Pass, just east of the city of Tucson.  

Redington Pass is a high mountain pass between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon Mountains.  The area is a favorite of mountain bikers and ATV riders.

There are more than one waterfall and some swimming holes that fill during the spring when the snow melts from the mountains and comes down into the valley area.

Ed plans to go back when the weather is cooler and check out the scenery.

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2016: Man With A Plan
2015: Don't Try This At Home
2014: This Place Is For The Birds
2013: Get Your Travel On
2012: An Art Deco Tower In The Panhandle
2011: Traffic Might Just Have Saved My Life
2010: Joining The Ranks
2009: The Daily Rant Goes Farther East Than Ever Before
2008: What He Does When I’m Sleeping
2007: Now You Don’t Have To Go To The Ghetto To Get Crack
2006: Satchel Pitches A Great Question
2005: A Night In Yakima

Friday, June 23, 2017

After I Stop Laughing

Ed asked me today if I'd go camping.

After I stopped laughing, I thought "Did he just meet me yesterday?".

I have only camped once if you can even call it that.  I don't think it was considered "real" camping because there were port-a-potties, but I know I slept in a tent.  For one night, with three other people.  

It was in Central Arizona, at Apache Lake, over twenty years ago.  The only thing I remember is that I felt as if I were sleeping in a zip lock baggie, suffocating from the heat.  I also slept on a rock all night, and I can tell you it was no Princess and the Pea scenario.  Never again.

I can't imagine I'd be very interested in camping at this age.  I like comfort and luxury and air conditioning way too much. I've had to dismantle air conditioning units in hotel rooms to override the thermostat.  You know they rig them, right?  That's probably the only gadget I have mastered and I learned how to do that years ago.  I can't stand a warm hotel room, can you imagine what I'd be like in a tent??

I don't even want to utter a maybe because I don't want to be held to it, but I could possibly consider it if the weather circumstances were favorable.  Which essentially means around 65 degrees.  It's going to take a lot of thought and even more convincing. 

I don't even think even Glamping is going to cut it for me.

Who knows what will happen, though.  Ed has me getting a motorcycle endorsement "just in case" I want to ride someday.  It's going to be a real feat for him to break through the anti-camping barrier.

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2016: Manly Ribs
2015: My Brush With Nature
2014: Dear Summer,
2013: I Wrote This After A Day Of Doing Nothing, Sitting On My Ass, While I Watched TV  
2012: The Beautiful Strangler
2011: Art Enables Us To Find Ourselves And Lose Ourselves At The Same Time
2010: Even God Can’t Help Men
2009: My President’s House
2008: Don’t Give Up Hope If You Just Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up, You Have Choices
2007: Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready For My Close Up
2006: Stone Magnolia
2005: Fitty Nine!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pizza On The Q

We attempted pizza on the BBQ grill again, using the pizza stone.  This time we used fresh store-bought dough that I got in Sprouts.  It was pretty decent.  I also bought a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano which was amaaaaaaazing.

Ed's pizza (above) has summer sausage and black olives.  Mine has the sautéed spinach and garlic left over from Father's Day dinner.  Very delish.

Look at that beautiful bubble in the middle of my pie!

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DQ Cat 
2013: Stop. Look. Read.
2012: You Won’t Miss Me Coming On This Bike
2007: Lure Me In
2005: U-Ta-Dah!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hello From The Other Side

Please don't focus on the dust on my dashboard.

Look at the temperature.

That says 116 degrees.  116.


I was out running errands.  What the everloving fuck is wrong with me?  I clearly didn't plan well.

This is killer heat.  

Heat that grounds planes.  

Heat that kills people.

Heat that breaks records.

If you know anything at all about me, anything, you know I hate the heat.  HATE.  Can't think of anything I hate more.  Well, except maybe the short-fingered vulgarian.

Our friends are coming to visit next week and I've already told them not to expect me to do anything outside.  In this heat, I leave leave the house for grocery shopping and emergencies only.  And if I get talked into going out for any other reason, I start the car remotely to cool it down and make a beeline from the air-conditioned house to the air-conditioned car, then from the air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned store, and repeat the process on the way back home.  Or I send unsuspecting people on errands.  That doesn't happen very often, though.

FYI - there's nothing you can do to escape this heat if you're outside.  Misters at restaurants, shade (it's still over 100 degrees in the shade), cooling towels, lightweight clothing.  They all do nothing.  In fact, I don't even know what "dress for the heat" means.  What the hell does one wear for 116 degree day?  I was so hot today - inside the car, with the air conditioning on - that I wanted to peel my skin off.

This is Tucson.  Actually, this is the Southwest most of the time but especially in the summer.  This'll be the second time in 14 years that I've been here for the entire summer.  I am really missing over-the-road life right about now.

I'm thankful I have a job that allows me to keep the house as cool as a meat locker.

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Stick It To 'Em

2015: Links To Food Dominate This Post
2014: 30 Miles To Spokane
2013: Truck And Sky
2012: Not Despicable At All
2011: Slice Of Summer
2010: Time Suck
2009: The Spirit Of Sharing
2008: Sailor Boy Friday
2007: Cozy Dining
2006: It’s All About Me
2005: Alien Land    

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Feeding Time For Dad

Today I hosted Father's Day for my brother and my sister-in-law's father.  My fathers aren't with us anymore and Ed's Dad couldn't make it this year.  I wish I could have sent him a doggie bag though, because everything was SO good.

Ed insisted on smoking meat.  What else is new, right?  If there's a event that he can BBQ or put something on the smoker, he's all over it.  I might have to give in to his cooking desires more often because it takes a big brunt of the work off of me.  Hmmm.  Idea.

The brisket was the star of the show.  Nine pounds, trimmed at the butcher, seasoned by me, and cared for by Ed.  I know when you look at the piece of meat up there it looks burnt, but it's not.  That's called a "bark" and it's supposed to look that way.

The other part of the brisket that shows how well it was cooked is the "smoke ring" - you can clearly see that in the photo below.  The brisket was delicious.  

We also made the most amazing pork ribs, lemon-rosemary chicken breasts, roasted peppers and onions, roasted cauliflower (my favorite), fresh spinach and garlic sautéed in olive oil, mashed potato casserole (courtesy of my sister-in-law), and a tossed green salad.  For dessert, cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

What a great day!  The boys did video racing in the other room, I did a lot of dishes, and the fathers got to relax for the day.

If you'd like to see video of the brisket slicing, watch what Ed put together here:

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by for leftovers!

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May The Best Friend Win
2015: 140 Characters Just Doesn't Cut It
2014: Wyoming In June
2013: I Will Not Be Decaffeinated
2012: Sweeeeeeet
2011: Summer On The Farm
2010: This Should Be The Next “New Parent” Handbook
2009: Would You Like A Little Screech To Go With Your Whine?
2008: Jane’s Anatomy
2007: Plus People Are Here To Stay
2006: Baiting The Hook
2005: Purgatory

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Whale Or Mermaid?

A whale's tail breaching the water in Lahaina, Maui.  Photo by Eddie.  
It seems this has been floating around the internet for years, but I just recently came across it on Facebook:

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman.  The caption was, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"  The story goes, a woman (of unknown clothing size) answered the following way:

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise children with great tenderness.  They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns.  They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea, or the coral reefs of Polynesia.  They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on CDs.  They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defends and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a split-personality problem.  Woman or fish?  They would have no sex life, and could not bear children.  Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.  And, who wants a girl by their side who smells like fish?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.  We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.  Every time I see my curves in the mirror I tell myself, "How amazing am I?!"

Mermaids are pretty.  And kinda cool.  But if given the choice between these two descriptions - the eating, drinking, entertaining, singing, dearly loved fish versus the lonely, frigid, sad girl - I'd have to go with the whale.

And most important of all, which the fictitious responder to the gym's advertisement left out - is how intelligent whales are.

I'll take brains over beauty any day of the week.

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There's A Steak Sandwich Waiting At The Intersection Of 82 And 83

2015: I Have Turned Into My Mother
2014: Ed Drops A Bomb
2013: Guarding The Life Of My Eddie
2012: Crash Test Dummy
2011: No Fudd Found Near This Fountain
2010: The Very Thoughtful Man
2009: SPAM: Not The E-mail Kind
2008: How Casting A Memory Begins With A Fish
2007: A Weekend At The End Of The Rainbow
2006: If I Were In People Magazine
2005: Free Mudflap

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Eighty Years In The Big Apple

This video was posted yesterday by The New Yorker.  It shows New York City in the 1930s on the left side, and on the right side, New York City today.

Pretty cool.

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2016: I've Still Got It
2015: It's Peony Season
2014: The Long Haul Home Stretch
2013: The Power Is Everywhere
2012: A Patchwork Of Farms
2011: Dwarfed
2010: Kansas Needs A Few Other Representatives
2009: Something’s Afoot
2008: The Color Of Aging
2007: Ahhhhhntipasto
2006: The Great Equalizer
2005: Almost My Town

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Climbing To The Island In The Sky

Here's a video of Ed riding his new motorcycle - the Kawasaki KLR650 - up and down Mount Lemmon, one of Southern Arizona's sky islands.

He started out on the "backside" of Mount Lemmon, formally known as the Mount Lemmon Control Road.  This road was built in the early 1920s and was the first road up the Santa Catalina Mountains.  It's 29 miles long and for the first half of the 20th century, was the only vehicular access to the top of the mountain.

If you're traveling the backside you'll start in Catalina, Arizona at approximately 3,100 feet above sea level.  When you get to the top of Mount Lemmon, you're at over 9,000 feet.  Take in the scenery and enjoy the view before you head down the other side, this time traveling on Catalina Highway, a fully paved and maintained road.  Ed chose to take the backside up and the Catalina Highway down.  It can be done either way.

The Catalina Highway, also known as the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, offers great views, interesting scenery, and a drastic change of vegetation as you descend from a lush forest of various types of trees to a stark landscape filled with cacti and desert vegetation.  It's like driving from Canada to Mexico in less than 30 miles.

The first half is not for the faint of heart.  It's an off-roader's dream.  Rocks, ruts, dirt, and roads that keep you precariously close to the edge.  They often close this road during winter storms and it's best traveled in a high-clearance vehicle.

Ed seemed to do pretty well on two wheels.  He said there were some challenging spots with more rock than road, but he didn't seem to think it was as difficult as those who warned him about it did.

I'm glad I got to enjoy the video because I can't picture myself anytime soon subjecting my spine to the jarring ride.  The roads in Oklahoma are about as much as I can stand.

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2016: Just Another Day In America
2015: Five Fabulous Foodie Finds
2014: And Just Like That, It Happens
2013: The Midday Bird Got The Worm
2012: Keeping Time In A Place That Goes From Salty To Sweet In Less Than A Mile
2011: Pride Of The United States Air Force
2010: The Dinosaur Rears Its Ugly Head
2009: Kidnapping Is Obviously Not Their Forte
2008: Eddie Friday On Ice
2007: Having Influence Where It Matters
2006: MacGyver To The Rescue
2005: The Weekend

Monday, June 12, 2017

Reading Material

Continuing with the thrift store shopping I did this weekend, I got a sweet deal on six hardcover novels.  They were fifty cents each.  Fifty cents!  Not that this matters when it comes to used books, but one of them is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Here's what I got:

by Louis Begley

John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L’Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North’s chosen interlocutor–who could be his doppelgänger–is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North’s tale. 

North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction. Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul–narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.

by Pete Hamill
This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains... forever. Through the eyes of Cormac O'Connor--granted immortality as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan--we watch New York grow from a tiny settlement on the tip of an untamed wilderness to the thriving metropolis of today. And through Cormac's remarkable adventures in both love and war, we come to know the city's buried secrets--the way it has been shaped by greed, race, and waves of immigration, by the unleashing of enormous human energies, and, above all, by hope.

The Racketeer
by John Grisham

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday. Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

A Painted House
by John Grisham

The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a "good crop."

Thus begins the new novel from John Grisham, a story inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age seven, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. The Chandlers farm eighty acres that they rent, not own, and when the cotton is ready they hire a truckload of Mexicans and a family from the Ozarks to help harvest it.

For six weeks they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and, sometimes, each other. As the weeks pass Luke sees and hears things no seven-year-old could possibly be prepared for, and finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever.

A Painted House is a moving story of one boy's journey from innocence to experience.

by J. Courtney Sullivan

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Honestly, I picked the books first for the color of the dust jackets.  I needed two stacks of books to go with the color palette of the room.  But as I was looking, I cracked them open and read the synopsis.  They all sounded pretty decent so I figured when they weren't accessorizing a nightstand or reading nook end table, I might find myself with something to read over the summer.

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2016: Cough Cocktail
2015: 7 Great Travel Related Magazines
2014: Frozen
2013: Working Man And Walking Man
2012: I’m Too Thrifty For My Shirt, Too Thrifty For My Shirt, So Thrifty It Hurts