Monday, September 30, 2013

Hole Lot of Change!

That white awning, huge bush covering the window, and hedge row were the first things to go!

Friends, I am so very sorry I've been absent recently. Good things are happening and I've just been so busy! 

After three years, the hubby and I have finally gotten down and dirty with some house upgrades. When we moved in, we knew that our small ranch had small claustrophobic rooms and accepted that, due to a load-bearing wall, we would just have to deal with that. 

Oh, how wrong we were! 

We started talking about knocking down a couple non-load bearing walls... anything to create a feeling of open space. But when we asked hubby's cousins, who happen to be architects, they told us to knock down the "load-bearing wall"! Turns out the house is so small (there is no second floor), that the outer walls and the ceiling joists in the attic are carrying the load, NOT the center wall - can I say yippee?!

Hubby jumped right on that and less than a week later (we got lucky timing-wise) we were living in construction chaos!

The agreement, however, was that if we moved forward with the wall...we HAD to continue and deal with those rugs! If you read the early house posts, you recall the rugs are about as old as the house (50+) and caterpillar-puke green!  I kid you not!

When the wall was done, the hole was a total of 10 feet-wide, opening the house up and making it much, much brighter! 

The rugs came out of the living room in one quick afternoon!  And, we were SO happy with the amazing wood floors and the new open concept feeling, we decided to have a...wait for it...

HOLE-A-WEEN Party! HA!  

We are known for parties amongst our friends, but haven't done Halloween since we moved. Its gonna be great, but there is sooooooooo much more to do before that can happen!

The living room needed to be set up, the dining room and hall need to be painted, and the rugs in those rooms removed as well... and lots more! Needless to say...I've had more than one late evening after a long day at work. I'm pooped!  But after three long years of trying to get the hubby to stop seeing this as his great aunt's house, I think he may finally be feeling some ownership and motivation to make it his own!

And I've agreed to stop calling it "The Pit" while we do so. Fair trade, no?!

My weekends are chock full of Purely Vocals gigs (we're playing the Topsfield Fair this weekend!) and painting and a billion other things.

Sadly, very little reading is getting done... But, I will get back to it eventually, while sitting in my brand new living room, with nice clean, germ-free floors! For now, I'll just have to keep you entertained with pictures of the transformation.

Bear with me...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tunes - 09/24/13

A good lyric is like a great book...

Same Old Lang Syne
Dan Fogelberg, Artist
Dan Fogelberg, Writer

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I
Saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another 'auld lang syne'

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

August 2013 ReCap...

August 2013 Update 

Despite August being a quieter month, outside-the-book, I totally fell into a reading funk. I just couldn't motivate and barely got any reading done. I'm still struggling...I truly hope it passes soon! There are so many great books I want to read, but I just can't seem to put any effort into reading them...weird! Have you experienced this before?!

This month I read: 
Total Read: 3
YTD:  24
Adult: 3
YA/children's: 0
Abandoned: 0 

With or Without You - Domenica Ruta

Dream New Dreams - Jai Pausch
Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? - Thompson Square


Favorite Book(s) of the Month:
Dream New Dreams - Jai Pausch

Challenges Update: 
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge = 27 of 58
A-Z Book Challenge = 17 of 26
Library Reading Challenge = 25 of 36
E-Book Reading Challenge =  14 of 25
What's in a Name 6 Challenge = 5 of 6
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Middlesteins - Attenberg

Edie Middlestein is a somewhat normal Jewish woman from a Chicago suburb. Faced with a less than stellar upbringing, Edie has learned to eat to comfort herself. In fact, she has been doing so for many years and her weight has blossomed as a result, to the point that her life is in danger.

The Middlesteins, by Jani Attenberg, is the story of Edie's family and how they react and deal with their mother/grandmother/wife's weight and choices around food.

Richard Middlestein, her husband, has given up and decides to leave Edie in the hopes of finding love/sex before he dies. Edie's daughter and son try to support and stick by her, while dealing with their own demons, though Robin tries to help her mother change while Benny essentially lets others deal with it. And Robin, Edie's perfectionist daughter-in-law, attacks the "issue" with a neurotic need to fix what is broken. Edie's grandchildren are preteens and just beginning to realize what others are experiencing and how that affects them, specifically her granddaughter.

Interestingly, some readers loved this book. Some hated it. Most had an opinion on how the author treats the issue of obesity, responding appropriately to an obese person's struggles or not. I felt the book was less about the obesity issue and more about the issue of how a family is affected by its heritage, its predecessors.  I was more interested in why Edie was obese, given her upbringing, and why her family members reacted the ways they did. One could understand Edie's use of food to complete herself, and her son's inclination to leave others deal with her rather than face the situation himself, as her daughter did. Attenberg never addresses the husband's past and, I feel, leaves out a key piece of why his reaction was to just walk away, rather than fight for Edie's life (let alone why he would have chosen to marry Edie in the first place).

Well written, entertaining, but not a particularly moving or exciting read in my opinion. Much like The Particular Likeness of Lemon Cake, it just sort of...hung there until it ended (though The Middlesteins did have a climax and ending, just not one that made any difference to me).

 2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday Tunes - 09/17/13

A good lyric is like a great book...
Bobbie Gentry (covered by Reba McIntyre), Artist
Bobbie Gentry, Writer

I remember it all very well lookin' back
It was the summer I turned eighteen
We lived in a one room, rundown shack
On the outskirts of New Orleans
We didn't have money for food or rent
To say the least we were hard pressed
Then Mama spent every last penny we had
To buy me a dancin' dress

Mama washed and combed and curled my hair
And she painted my eyes and lips
Then I stepped into a satin' dancin' dress
That had a split from the side clean up to my hip
It was red velvet trim and it fit me good
Standin' back from the lookin' glass
There stood a woman where a half grown kid had stood

She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down

Mama dabbled a little bit of perfume on my neck
And she kissed my cheek
Then I saw the tears wellin' up in her troubled eys
As she started to speak
She looked at a pitiful shack and then she looked at me and took a ragged breath
She said your Pa's runned off and I'm real sick
And the baby's gonna starve to death

She handed me a heart shaped locket that said
"To thine own self be true"
And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl accross
The toe of my high heeled shoe
It sounded like somebody else that was talkin'
Askin' "Mama what do I do?"
She said just be nice to the gentlemen Fancy
They'll be nice to you

She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
Lord forgive me for what I do,
But if you want out, well it's up to you
Don't let me down now, your Mama's gonna move you uptown

Well, that was the last time I saw my Ma
When I left that rickety shack
The welfare people came and took the baby
Mama died and I ain't been back
But the wheels of fate had started to turn
And for me there was no way out
And it wasn't very long 'til I knew exactly
What my Mama'd been talkin' about

I knew what I had to do and I made myself this solemn vow
That I's gonna be a lady someday
Though I didn't know when or how
But I couldn't see spending the rest of my life
With my head hung down in shame you know
I might have been born just plain white trash
But Fancy was my name

She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down

It wasn't long after that benevolent man
Took me in off the street
And one week later I was pourin' his tea
In a five room hotel suite

I charmed a king, congressman
And an occasional aristocrat
Then I got me a Georgia mansion
In an elegant New York townhouse flat
And I ain't done bad

Now in this world there's a lot of self-righteous
That would call me bad
And criticize Mama for turning me out
No matter how little we had

But though I ain't had to worry 'bout nothin'
For nigh on fifteen years
I can still hear the desperation in my poor
Mama's voice ringin' in my ear

Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
O Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
Lord, forgive me for what I do
But if you want out well it's up to you
Now don't let me down
You Mama's gonna move you uptown

I guess she did

Monday, September 16, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

ASOL #4 - 09/13/13

Sorry I've gone MIA!

I was hit with the infamous "You logged out from another location..." e blogger problem and, because I had bigger issues on my plate, didn't have the time or patience to resolve it.

Finally looked it up today, so hopefully you will actually see this post!

Bigger issues - some major changes finally going on in our "new" house...and the roof is still standing.

More about this soon... Can't wait to post pictures!!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tuesday Tunes - 09/3/13

A good lyric is like a great book...

Skin (Sarabeth)
Rascal Flatts, Artist
Joe Henry and Doug Johnson, Writers


Sara Beth is scared to death
To hear what the doctor will say
She hasn't been well, since the day that she fell
And the bruise it just won't go away

So she sits and she waits with her mother and dad
And flips through an old magazine
Till the nurse with the smile stands at the door
And says, Will you please come with me?

Sara Beth is scared to death
Cause the doctor just told her the news
Between the red cells and white, something's not right
But we're gonna take care of you

Six chances in ten, it won't come back again
With the therapy we're gonna try
It's just been approved, it's the strongest there is
And I think we caught it in time
And Sara Beth closes her eyes

And she dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

Sara Beth is scared to death
As she sits holding her mom
'Cause it would be a mistake for someone to take
A girl with no hair to the prom

For just this morning, right there on her pillow
Was the cruelest of any surprise
And she cried when she gathered it all in her hands
The proof that she couldn't deny
And Sara Beth closes her eyes

And she dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love was holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

It's quarter to seven, that boy's at the door
And her daddy ushers him in
And when he takes off his cap
They all start to cry
Cause this morning where his hair had been
Softly she touches just skin

And they go dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first true love is holding her close
And for a moment she isn't scared

Monday, September 02, 2013

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Sunday Salon - 09/01/13

If you are interested in other Salon posts, visit the Facebook page to get links.

Summer is over.


The beginning of the year was so busy, and the first half of the summer taken up by shows. Then, recovering. And then, well... Who knows!?  I just looked up and bang, boom it was September!

I love summer! It has always been my favorite time of year. Despite the humidity in the northeast, I love the hot weather, not wearing coats, and knowing I can soak in the sun. I love watching the squirrels and birds gallivanting around the yard. I love listening to the crickets at night.

Strangely this summer, though, I kept thinking about pumpkins and colored leaves and apple picking. I found myself longing for autumn. But, honestly, now that it's upon us... Well, sigh. I'm not ready. I want another month of beach weather, hanging out on the porch weather, shorts and tank tops! Another vacation week wouldn't hurt either...

I'm just not ready to face the students coming back (the huge increase in work and traffic), the return of cold days and colder nights, and facing that it just might be time to lock up the sun porch for the season. Boo!!

The best part of fall for me was always the start of school. As a student, I loved it. As an adult, and college administrator, it's still exciting and new but it's not quite as fulfilling as starting new classes. I suppose I should just sign up for something for the fun of it...

Books and Blogging
I had every intent to buckle down after my busy spring and read, read, read. But, for some reason, I lost my mojo. It took me a long time to get through a book I was reading and I just haven't gotten my flow back. Even though the book I am currently reading, The Middlesteins, is good...I just can't seem to get excited about opening it (or any other book). 

I've also been spending a fair amount of time watching videos boning up on my web building skills - HTML, CSS, and learning the basics of JavaScript (I fantasize starting my own design company and retiring from the daily 9-5 grind). But for now, I will have to settle for enjoying this wonderful long weekend. We've already spent a chunk of the weekend cleaning out the basement (yes, again). And once again it shows promise... now if only the hubby would stop bring home goodies from Craigslist, ha ha!  

Perhaps I'll spend my (lack-of) Labor Day sitting on the porch reading!

Hope your is full of rest and relaxation!