Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Z

Last, but not least...

Z...        Zooey Deschanel

I think Zooey Deschanel is a comic genius!  

I absolutely adored her in Failure to Launch, against Sarah Jessica Parker.  And she was great in the completely opposite The Happening with Mark Walberg.

Sadly, I think her new show "The New Girl" is below her.  The writers seem to have a expectation of her responses and write how they think she will play something.  But, in my opinion, that causes her performance to lose its off-the-cuff, Zooey-ness.  What a waste!

Let the gal make the "funny" herself, she is a professional at it! 

She's also a musician/singer.  As if I need another reason to love her...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Y

Y...     You   (Yes you. No, not her...YOU!)

You, dear reader, are wonderful!

You were kind enough to stop by, to read what I had to say, and to perhaps follow this blog.  

Or maybe you decided that our interests were too different and that you weren't going to follow. Of course, I'd like you to follow me...but it's OK if you did not. I am not offended.

Regardless of your stalker inclinations, I would like to thank you for stopping by and for sharing the A to Z Challenge 2012 with me. I hope you laughed, or cried, or just forgot real life for even a few minutes while you read my daily ramblings!  I truly appreciate you visiting and hope that you come back again.

You are the reason I do what I do!

Here's to you! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Challenge - X

X...           Xyphophorus helleri

Along with my adorable cat, who you saw in this post... We also have a fabulous 55-gallon aquarium at home.


Currently, we have about thirteen neon tetras,

a handful of various types of other tetras,


a red tailed shark and several catfish.


But my favorite is my orange and black clown loach, "Loachy"... That's him many years back. He is now huge, six-eight inches long (think small guinea pig), but he still sleeps on his back like this!

It used to freak me out...  More than once I banged on the glass to check he was still alive!

Did you notice the little brown fish next to him, in that picture? Go ahead check again.
I'll wait...

He is what pet stores call "plecos", or sucker fish that clean algae off the tank. He was cute back then, right?

He now looks like this...

Clearly, that's not him! This is a picture from a recent article about "armored fish" in Florida destroying the lakes and coastal areas because of how they burrow and reproduce.  Yes, my cute little guy is currently a natural disaster in Florida!

Except, my cute little guy is bigger than that...   He is at least 16-18 inches long (think small dog!). He is beautiful though, with a gorgeous pattern on black. He is also quite funny. He sucks onto the front of the tank because when he does so, he can no longer see you (his eyes are on the side), and its obvious he thinks he's hiding from you! He gets very annoyed if you move to the side of the tank and "find" him.

So, a Xyphophorus helleri is a type of fish commonly found in home aquariums, usually called a sword molly.

I don't actually have any swords left. I had some but they passed on to that great aquarium in the sky.

But I needed an X...

Forgive me? :)

Friday Faves - 04/27/12

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five. It's Friday so that makes it time to look back over our week and look for those things we are grateful for. It may be big or it may be small and you have to dig for it, but there are always things we can be thankful for. Please join us as we share our favorite five. If you need the guidelines they are here

1. Jumbo Days. This past week was "Jumbo Days" at Tufts. On those days the incoming first year students have the opportunity to walk around and visit different departments and see what they are all about. This is where being in physics comes in handy. Rather than give a boring old "about us" speech, we provided a playground of physics experiments. The kids had a great time and I got some fab pictures for our website. Hopefully we will have a big bunch of new majors come the fall!

2.  A to Z Challenge.  It's almost finished, three days left...but I am proud of myself!  There were a couple of days when I just couldn't force myself to turn on the pc and blog after very long, busy day at work, but because I had prewritten quite a few posts I've done a pretty great job of keeping up.  I posted late only once, I think. Yeah me!

3. Purely a cappella. My group booked once again with the Paw Sox this summer and have been contacted about another 2-3 local paying performances. Very cool!  Also, there is a possibility that we may end up traveling to Ireland next year...though very much just in the beginning phases, we're hoping it may work out!

4. Membership Drive. Going pretty good. As of today...

Total: 69
Auto-carried over (Life Members): 18
Transfer (carried over from 11-12): 7
Actual new/renewed memberships:  44 (pretty darn good for being only two months!)

5. It's Friday.  !!!!!

P.S. The kitty is doing great!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Challenge - W

W...             Writing...  (or Reading)

I have noticed that many of the A to Z Challenge bloggers are aspiring authors. Well duh, perhaps, but for some reason this surprised me. I honestly thought that more folks out there were focused on their blogging subject (couponing, books, being mommies) than the actual writing.

Because here's my dirty-little-blogging-secret....  I'm a reader, not a writer. 
I started my blog because I like to read and talk, though not necessarily in that order.  I saw other blogs and thought, "Hey, I can do that...and I've read some great books!"  The writing piece never really occurred to me.

And honestly, I don't always enjoy writing posts...sometimes I just want to read the book and be done with it. Of course, I usually come around once I've got the general post done and am finally seeing what others will hear. I enjoy hitting "publish".

I have had folks compliment my writing (besides my mother, I mean).  Most recently, a professor in graduate school mentioned how much she liked my writing. She said she appreciated the light-hearted and friendly voice in which I write. I was extremely flattered because I'm not sure I ever really think about the quality of my writing, I just sort of...spew. Then, I go back and clean up for clarity and grammar. 

But maybe that's what most writers are doing, in their own voice, just spewing and then cleaning up for others to see. 

Hmmm, writing.

Once upon a time...

A to Z Challenge - V

V...          Vises (the coping kind, not the Craftsman kind) 

Everyone has vises. Some drink too much, some work out too much, some watch too much tv...but everyone needs something to keep us sane, particularly on those days when everything else in life seems to be leading you straight to insanity and/or exhaustion.

Here are a few of mine:

Laughter. Not much makes me laugh louder and more fully than Raising Hope


Walking. I love walking near the water. It calms me while simultaneously motivating and recharging me!

 Chocolate. 'Nuff said!


Great music. 
Loud, honky-tonk, country music.  
Like Miranda Lambert. 
Sister kicks *ss!

And when all else fails, I just fall back on going Mad! 

Mad About You, that is. I love that show!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - 04/24/12

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

"They are scared, I realized. When they look at me, they are scared." 

Heaven Is Here - pg. 1

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Challenge - T

T...        TastyKakes

For those of you who have been deprived of the good Lord's true blessings, I introduce...
When I arrived in Boston as a middle-school child my father drove me to convenience store and offered to purchase me a cupcake. I gladly accepted and was handed a, well...


I took a bite and...the entire chocolate covering peeled off the pastry in one greasy, yet somehow crumbling, slab. I looked at my father like he was crazy!

"This is not a cupcake!" I complained.

"Here, try a Twinkie instead," he suggested.

Again, bite and "You've got to me kidding me..."

"Take me home!" I thought.

Anyone who grew up in Pennsylvania will tell you that there is NO cupcake like a TastyKake!

BuildingStarted by a Pittsburgh baker, Philip J. Baur, and a Boston egg salesman, Herbert T. Morris, in 1914 TastKake uses "only the finest ingredients delivered fresh daily to the bakery", farm fresh eggs, Grade A creamery butter, real milk, cocoa, spices, and natural flavorings! And, frankly, it's obvious! 

Tastykakes taste like mom's in the kitchen, seriously!  Soft, cake-like goodies, that quite frankly have to be better for you than those plastic taste or feel. No icing falling off in one strip. No grease left on your fingers when you are done.

Added benefit, they are an environmentally conscious company:  "First, we took an abandoned industrial site and re-used the buildings as foundation material for our new bakery, which avoided clearing a forest and reduced construction waste.  Second, we built the bakery with several features in order to target LEED-Silver certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and acts as a report card for the environmental friendliness of a building...."

TastyKake was recently sold to Flowers Foods, Inc. Let's hope that Flowers does this historic company proud! 

If you ever get the chance, TRY THESE!

Mondays - 04/23/12

Sheila at Book Journey hosts this weekly event where we celebrate what we are reading for the week, as well as books completed the previous week.

Currently Reading:

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide
(Tony DiTerlizzzi & Holly Black)

Just Finished:
The Orchard (Teresa Weir)

On Deck:
Before I Go To Sleep (S. J. Watson)

A to Z Challenge - S

S...       Siblings 
(updated, sorry tried to do this by my phone and it didn't work too well...)

I grew up with an older sister. She and I were relatively close as kids. As we got older, and she reached her teens, she became the sharer of "naughty information". She was a hell-raiser and I was far from it. We grew apart steadily until I eventually decided to move to Boston to live with my Dad. She stayed in Pennsylvania with my mother and got pregnant. Shortly after, she moved out of my mother's house and since then I have seen very little of her. At my grandmother's funeral eight years ago, my father's 60th birthday party...that's about it.

Recently, she "friended" me on Facebook. I was floored and thrilled. But she spends very little time on there and it hasn't become the reconnection for which I'd hoped.  It's a shame. I often wish we'd have been closer, that we had become friends and could talk and share our lives. I miss what "might have been". 

For about twenty years, I was always the baby. Then, while home from college one day, my father and stepmother told me that they were going to have a baby. At first I was speechless, then I was jealous. But eventually I was thrilled!

My baby brother is now in college and has turned in a pretty cool guy. He plays guitar and is more confident and sure of himself than I ever was, or could be. I'm proud of what a good man he is turning out to be. I look forward to seeing where his life leads him. 

What about you, are you close to your siblings?

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Challenge - R

R...      Reading, Pennsylvania

I was born and raised in Reading, PA. There is a bit of irony in that, given my book blog, though its pronounced like the color (Red-ing), not like the activity. I grew up in East Reading, in a valley between two mountains called Mount Penn and Neversink Mountain. But do not be confused, I grew up in row homes and urban sprawl, not in the country.

I hated PA, but I was a kid then and stupid. As an adult, I can see what a wonderful place it was to grow up. Though it was urban, it was still relatively safe. There were stories of abductions and murders, but none of us actually knew anyone who had experienced such a thing.  

We used to walk to school alone, my sister and I, starting in first and third grade. We played at the local parks, Pendora and Neversink, which hired staff to entertain the local kids all summer with box-hockey and crafts (God, I loved those big green boxes of goodies that only the high school kids seemed to have keys too!).  We returned home when the street lights went on and sat out on the front stoops with our neighbors in the summer and bought ice cream from the man in his freezer van with the jingling bells. 

We used to walk down a few blocks of the Reading street grid and walk up a steep hill to my grandparents' and great-grandparents' homes, row homes which happened to share a backyard. When we got older, we sometimes took a bus to the newly built mall, but most of the time we walked into Reading center and shopped in local thrift and discount stores.

We walked a lot back then. My mother and father were divorced and a car was not in the budget. I recall middle school was a 45-60 minute walk from home, but we were not within the "busing zone" and therefore, I made the walk every day to and from school until I moved to Boston. I visited the local library weekly, more often if possible.

Within the past five or so years, I went back to visit family.  Though most of my family has moved from their original homes, some still remain in-state. I told my future husband that I wanted to take a drive around the old neighborhood. He was very sweet and agreed. But when we got there, he demanded I park. We had to walk around, he said.

So we did. We walked past various houses we rented and I described the layout of each. We walked to the local convenience store, still family-owned, and bought penny candy...because we still could. We sat down at the counter at the local, oft-visited sandwich shop, which is still there, and had lunch (the best salad I have ever had). After sitting for a while, the waitress started chatting with us and she remembered my mother, my sister and I, by name! 

We then drove by my grandparents' old house and visited the local park. I pointed out the local dive my grandparents used to frequent and talked about all the Easter egg hunts they held for us kids. I showed him where I was swinging one day and caught my shoe under the foot-rest and broke my ankle. We drove up to the Reading Pagoda and walked around. It wasn't open, which was perfect because in all the years I lived there it was never once opened when I visited.  We took pictures of the breath-taking view.  We drove by the school I attended for most of my grammar school years and lamented the graffiti.

Like many places, Reading has changed. There seems to be more crime and poverty than there was back in the 1970's, though maybe that's not true...maybe there's just more awareness of it.  They now have a graffiti abatement program to help clean up the city and even a crime-mapping program on their website. Can you say..."uhhh"?!

But honestly, it doesn't really matter. As an adult, I see Reading differently than I did as a kid, and yet it really isn't that much different. Reading will always be my hometown, despite where I spent my high school years (which I actually think of as home too, lucky me I get two).  I will always look back on those years, and Reading, with the blind joy of a child.

I love that place.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Q

Q...        Quotes

"Blogging is the new poetry." -Andrew Sullivan

I've always found quotes fascinating. 

How one person could say something and years later I could see that same quote and think, "Yes, exactly!" That's pretty cool.

Or how I could read something someone said and though my life is totally different, totally removed, from theirs I could laugh and get just as much joy out of it as they do.

I started keeping a quote journal in high school. I wrote in it and kept cuttings whenever I found something particularly funny, moving, or interesting. Eventually the book got unruly and hard to manage, so I typed out all the quotes into Word files. 
I've thought about putting up a quote website on several occasions, but there are so many already out there it just seemed redundant.  On the other hand, there are so many great quotes that I hate to see them get lost.  

Maybe I should start incorporating them into my blog? 

"A blog is...memos to the world." -Unknown

Or maybe start a whole new blog for quotes?! 

What are your thoughts?

"A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list." -Unknown 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z Challenge - P

P...        Purely Vocals

When I am not working, reading/blogging, cleaning/fixing our new house, or selling memberships for my theater (Footlight Club), I am usually singing with my a capella group Purely Vocals.  Note the conspicuous absence of sleep? I do, that's for sure!


Purely Vocals is a 4-woman a capella group (for those of you who don't know music, that means we sing without any accompaniment to keep us on pitch: no piano, no guitar...just practice and dumb luck) from eastern Massachusetts, though we will travel for gigs. We have been together for about 8 years, though this always surprises me and I underestimate it.  

We sing various styles and decades of music...everything from Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy to Girls Just Want to Have FunWe have sung in lots of different venues, from private wedding receptions and birthdays to huge stadiums full of people.

We are...well, pretty good.  *blush*  

Of course, I may have some bias, but thankfully others seem to agree with me!  This past June, we were chosen from all the entrants of a contest to sing the national anthem for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Red Sox Nation Day 2011! Despite a broken foot and a hospital trip that day, I still made the game and it was...


We have also sung regularly for the Pawtucket Red Sox (RI), were chosen as one of ten finalists of a local "American Idol" type event, and got the opportunity to sing for the National Debate Series: Boston in November of 2009. Though not one of us is anywhere near college age anymore, we have been singled out and chosen to sing at local college a capella events, alongside groups from MIT, Northeastern and Berklee School of Music.  And, of course, we also have a long-standing history of providing free music for worthy causes, such as Relay for Life (Weymouth), Rosie's Place (Boston), and the Diva Day organization.

We have a great time hanging out together, making music and making people smile! 

If interested, you can check us out at ...though my To Do list includes a website re-do

...with all that extra time I have. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Challenge - O

O...        Outlook - Microsoft type, not attitude type

I am an extremely organized person. Or so I like to think. 

Truthfully, I probably lose stuff too often to honestly say that, but I try very hard. In fact, most often things are lost quickly after the words, "I'll put this in a safe place so it won't get lost..." leave my mouth. 

I use the excuse that I am just too busy to keep track of the little things, and that is true!   Between a full-time job, singing in an a cappella group, sitting on the BOD of a local theater and actively recruiting membership for that theater, to say nothing of the new home that needs endless work and the husband who never cleans up after himself, I am pretty busy.

So I am a faithful user of Microsoft Outlook.  And, call me a gadget-nerd if need be, but my work computer/calendar syncs with my Google calendar, which syncs to my Droid phone (which I haven't quite figured out how to sync with my brain, but I'm working on it).

Outlook is my friend, my buddy, my master. I'm just sayin'...

If Outlook says work, I work. If Outlook says sing, I sing. If Outlook says sleep, I sleep.

I just need to start scheduling potty breaks!

Yes Outlook, on to P.

Teaser Tuesdays - 04/17/12

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

"I had never told her how much I loved her...

It was always unnecessary...

Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell youm Oskar.
It's always necessary.
I love you,

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
(Jonathan Safran Foer) - pg.314