cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “vacations”

Another entry for my “What I Did Over Summer Vacation”


So far summer break has been great: a long-waited Hawaiian holiday, lots of hammock reading, editing projects, family visits–yes, an enjoyable break, that is until today. 

Today the break became literally great. Well, maybe not great but enough to earn an ER visit.

  This is prior to x-ray.

Highlights of the incident:

  • Renting bikes
  • Exploring bike paths
  • A sudden stop
  • Avoiding a major bicycle pile up
  • An abrupt encounter with the embankment
  • Bloody knee and that sudden epiphany I’ve broken my wrist
  • Thankfully I did not wipe out the grandkiddo
  • The kindness of strangers is a marvel–a shout out to James
  • Our smalltown ER staff is fabulous
  • My hubs missed his calling as a physician’s assistant
  • Life is going to be interesting the remainder of my vacation with my dominant hand in a cast
  • Oh–pain meds are my new best friend

So, tommorrow it’s off to the orthopedic surgeon for assessment.

Over sixty years of surviving various risky activities and I fall off my bike and break my wrist. Sheesh–

Advertisements

Review Round Up: June


My Goodreads barometer blithely informed me of being 8 books behind schedule. The feeling was akin to having the ATM receipt indicating my miscalculation of my debit card ledger, which activated my overdraft. In other words–I was embarrassed. Embarrassed because I am always, always ahead of schedule by a couple of books and feel rather proud of that, thank you very much. Just as I cautiously enter and reconcile my debit transactions in my little brown bank book. I blew it both ways: book and bank account. But no real damage was done. I deposited a goodly amount back into my Goodreads account and my bank account. Whew–budgeting reading and bank accounts, both must be tended to judiciously.

While in Hawaii, I knew I would be sight seeing more than reading. Yet, I couldn’t wait to focus on reading what I wanted, when I wanted with school being out. Books are heavy to pack and wanting to pack light, I only took along three: one for the plane, one for the beach, and one for the flight home. I ran out of books on the third day. One reason is because my husband started in on my beach read, and what I can read in two days, he will read in a week. I’m a gulper and he’s a savorer. However, it’s amazing to me how much reading I can actually fit into the day when I don’t have to grade essays or create lesson plans.

No thank you. I don’t do e-books. But thanks for the suggestion.

Not having enough books to read created a wee bit of consternation. Fortunately, being resourceful, I located the hotel’s freebie library in the lobby. Unfortunately, the collection consisted primarily of romances and mysteries. I succumbed to reading one of the romances. The story wasn’t too awful. Okay, it was way awful. I skimmed much of the plot. I felt desperation set in and I didn’t want to bug the hubs too much ( “aren’t you done with that book yet?”). I think I began having withdrawals because I started devouring all the tourist magazines my husband had been bringing back to the room from the various stores and restaurants we visited. He consulted these as a general would plan an assault, carefully laying out our daily excursion menu. I didn’t mind seeing the sights as long as we included beaches. I got a temporary fix for my reading on our second day. While he explored the Princeville Shopping Center I explored its library. I scored a mystery about a library director who solves a murder(I kid you not) and he found a grocery store. We both made out well.

Overall, June’s Reader Round Up is a bit eclectic. Here are the top three picks. The rest of my choices are found, as always, at my Goodreads site.

86145

image: Goodreads

Bauer’s informative, approachable method of reading various subjects–history to novels to plays to poetry–makes sense. She presents a method to take reading, the means of furthering one’s education to a deeper level. It’s rated four stars merely due to being somewhat incomplete in its works list. The updated revised edition should remedy this.

64481

image: Goodreads

A reread–and I appreciated the story even more this time, having read most, if not all, of the books Mattie had devoured in her quest to further educate herself. As Mattie discovers for herself that life is not what books present. She learns that life is complicated, messy, unfair, and happy endings aren’t a given. Mattie also learns that sometimes truth and opportunities can become both a burden and freedom.

Found in the YA section, it’s one that is so riveting and so well-written, it should be read by anyone who seeks a well-researched historical novel that is a story within a story. A definite five star.

 

1587710

image: Goodreads

I have read and appreciated Robert Whitlow’s books in the past and when I spied this on the giveaway shelf at the hometown library I grabbed it for the trip. This is the book I had looked forward to reading while sunning, the one I loaned out to my husband. The one I didn’t get to read until we got on the plane going home. At least I converted my only-reads-nonfiction hubby to expand his horizons.

Many people compare Whitlow’s writing to Grisham’s, in that he mainly writes legal thrillers, yet his plots have more faith-based aspects than Grisham’s, and Whitlow sometimes selects difficult, uncomfortable topics. For instance,  I almost didn’t read The Sacrifice since it is about someone planning a school shooting, which is  misleading. It centers more on a young attorney who is in the process how he handles relationships with family, friends, and faith, while he defends a troubled youth. Whitlow weaves in a couple of subplots that kept me guessing in terms of the identity of the school bomber. Fast-paced, excellent characterization, The Sacrifice is a legal mystery that provides a strong faith message without being preachy. I will be on the lookout for more Whitlows at the library. Five stars.

419105

image: Goodreads

The perfect summer vacation read. It kept me intrigued during the six hour flight to Kauai and helped me get through the early morning jet lag adjustment as I read it under the covers while the hubs snoozed. Heitzmann effortlessly weaves a tale of interpersonal drama that is laced with deep secrets that are need of airing so healing can begin. Faith, grace, and salvation are woven into the plot in a way that the message is a natural part of the story and not a tacked on sermon. Only a couple of plot holes or questions about Rese obtaining the villa and how the inn seems to function sufficiently with only a couple of intermittent guests, Yet it’s not enough to detract from such a well-developed story, one with plausible authenticity. The hallmark is that each featured character is developed fully. I look forward to the rest of the series. And I confess this is a reread, but isn’t summer the best time for reacquainting old friends while finding new ones? Four stars.

27830287

image: Goodreads

A review book from BookLook Bloggers. An upbeat contemporary YA retelling of the Cinderella theme: good girl, harsh stepmother, stepsister rivalry, unfair favoritism, a prince of a fellow, a happy ending. Christina June saves the plot from being sappy with some snappy twists such as a spunky, creative protagonist by the name of Tatum who makes her dreams come true instead of waiting for a fairy godmother to change the situation. The fairy godmother in this case is a lively abuelita who plays bunco and watches reruns of The Golden Girls. As for the stepmother, she’s definitely harsh, but not evil. And the stepsisters? Only one–and she’s working out her own issues with her mother. The prince is a half Irish cello-playing musician who is almost too good to be true. Lots of plausible humor and drama with a healthy dose of life lessons worth noting. Four stars.

 

Aloha Ahas


Hawaii. The esteemed destination vacation. Until recently there has always been something to prevent going: budget, weather, budget (that did deter us a couple of times), timing. YET–the hubs turned 70, the 35th anniversary arrived, and I turned 60. No excuses allowed with this triple celebration.

After some research we went with a very reasonable Costco package (seriously, check out their travel options. They offer more than a good deal on Baby Bells.)

Since we were limited to date blocks we grabbed the June package, which meant I barely submitted my grades before we hopped aboard the six-hour flight to the Garden Island: Kauai. The best part? We flew out on my birthday. Cool, huh?

Here are some revelations:

  • Previously a Southwest devotee, I might be switching over to Alaska. Free charging stations, reasonably priced food menu, free Mai Tais (the leis weren’t available?) , $10 movie tablets (which was an unexpected birthday perk) efficient crew. Very nice.
  • Kauai is truly the garden island. Lush verdant plants with flowers so brightly hued they practically glow. Everywhere there are bizarrely beautiful plants that seem primordial. Giant fragrant blossoms. The air is tinged with briny sweetness–ocean and blossoms.

   

   

  • Being 20 steps from the ocean is pinch worthy. I would wake up, open the sliding door and in a moment I was on the beach. This is not your pretty calendar white sand beach, this is an almost frantic roller wave beach that has buckskin-colored sand full of riptide branches. It’s not a posted swimming beach due to the coral reef and undertow. This meant it was fairly desolate. Quite peaceful, almost like having a private beach. The locals were the main visitors. They would come down in the morning to fish. We watched a twenty-something dude spear dive and bring up an octopus. I liked how our resort’s frontage was not a swimming beach but one the locals come and enjoy. This made the dxperience even better.
  • Humidity is a way of life. Hair does odd things in this weather. A person is either sticky from the misty rain or the moist, clingy heat. Any clothing that is 100% cotton remains 100% damp. I should have gone with the polyester shirts.
  • In June there are peekaboo sunny days mixed with muggy grey skies. But you know what? It’s Hawaii. I will take grey skies in Hawaii any day–even grey days are amazing.
  • Casual. Shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits are the mainstay of dress. I felt overdressed with the one dress I brought. Forget capris–too hot. Shorts. Next time more shorts and tank tops. But not cotton.
  • Time is irrelevant. We gained three hours flying to the island and they were a bonus. Everyone lives in a relaxed attitude, even the K-Mart clerk. No hurry. No worry. Island time.
  • I always check out libraries wherever I vacation, and Princeville’s was jaw-dropping gorgeous with its amenities of open layout, pristine equipment. I grabbed a mystery off of the free rack. Gotta have a beach read when at the beach.
  • While the island itself is mesmerizing in beauty, the architecture is bland. Most buildings are block-shaped and are tan . No noted embellishments of design. Some houses sit on 12 foot high (or higher) stilts of concrete block (flooding?). 
  • There are so many places to see and so many things to do. Those days of hanging out by the pool working on the tan as I orignally planned got ditched once we saw how much there was to see. I sat out one day and I felt silly.
  •  Yet the one day I sat out I scorched. Not evenly, mind you. In blotches–because I sat under the shade tree. Whereever the sun peeked through I scorched. Yes, I was wearing sun block.
  • No one has perfect bodies. There were a couple of people under thirty who qualified, but most people at the resort were over forty and were far from svelte. This encouraged me to ditch the tankini and drag out the bikini. I scorched. There is a lesson in this.

 

Discoveries not in the guide book:

  1. There are feral chickens all over the place. Apparently the 1992 hurricane released chicken coops and their contents. The island has not been the same since. There are flocks of these wiry little cluckers all over the hotel compound. They have no shame. They will flap right up on the table if not watched with diligence. They wander into the open air restaurant. The sparrows are even cheekier. A trio of them perched on the opposite chair and didn’t flinch even with hand shooing and water flicking. Sheesh. Chickens are, in fact, all over the island. We traveled up to the top of the mountain for the canyon view (fabulous!) and chickens were wandering in the parking lot. Did they hitchhike a ride up?!?
  2. The snails are fantastic. Not to eat, mind you. Although these guys might serve up well as escargot they are so huge! Their shells are colorful spirals, the type a beachcomber yipes up and down in delighted discovery. As a gardener I abhor snails, yet I’ve grown fond of these guys. Every morning there is a commute of about a dozen roaming all over the hedge and ground outside on our miniscule patio. There is a huge cache of empty shells under the hedge to the point it looks like a used parking lot.
  3. One of my favorite beaches was actually an industrisl dump way back when. Located in Port Allen, Glass Beach is the site where empty bottles were dumped. Over time the ocean wore down the glass into bits and pieces. The beach is now a mix of glass pebbles and black volcanic sand.   

   

  While there are many islands to visit, it would be difficult to explore beyond Kauai. We are already saving to go back.

Summer in, Summer Out


I began summer in the place I’m ending summer with a reverse visit switch–the same folk, different locale. 

Starting my break  with GiGi duty (grandma) proved an auspicious start to summer. After a week of reading Narnia, scoping out Portland’s playgrounds, tromping in summer rain, and frolicking in a water park I reloaded the car and headed for a self-imposed writer’s retreat, by borrowing my mom’s condo. I managed to get some solid work done on my authors and their cats manuscript.

Situated in my hometown, Mom’s condo is old (built in 1966) yet boasts amenities such as a pool and a large private balcony overlooking a tree lined creek. Veddy nice.

Quiet? Mostly, except for the occasional boomers who like to meet up in the community service parking lot next door after hours and their rap music bass rattles the sliding glass doors. Or the garbage truck on Tuesdsys at 5 a.m.

Peaceful is a better word. Most of the time it’s peaceful here. No constant interruptions of the trains, fairground events, traffic patterns, and ongoing construction behind our house, just a day’s drive away. The condo is perfect for decompressing.

I usually don’t need too much R&R after the school year ends. This year though… *sigh* It’d been one of those years where I wondered if it’s time I should retire. However, a rest up of two weeks in June and I was back planning lessons for the upcoming year. 

July spent at home with the Hubs,  I have the condo to myself after a visit my mom, who came up from Arizona to see the family, and to escape 114 degrees as well. She left, I stayed, thinking the peacefulness encountered at summer’s start would greet me once again.

I’m not quite finding it.

It must have something to do with the anticipation of school starting. Instead of reading books lounging at on the balcony in solitude, I’m polishing lesson plans. Instead of reveling in the quiet respite, I’m trying to persuade the Hubs to drop projects (even though I would really like the fact that the garage is being tidied, and the kitchen painted) and to pop in the truck and pop over. “Are you lonely?” he inquires. “Not at all,” I reply.

I believe I’m restless.

Well, dinner with my boyos and a weekend visit with my girlies and summer will be done.

It’s funny how different June can be from August in the same place.

A June donut even tastes different than an August donut.


Summer Reads in the Making


Although school ended June 5th, I signed up for a workshop which prepares me for fall and pays me to be there, so I’m sticking it out until June 12. To celebrate my upcoming release into the almost endless days of summer, which for me involves LOTS of reading, I am finally sitting down to decide on my destinational course of action. I take my Reading Rainbow directive seriously “I can go anywhere. It’s in a book. Take a look…”

My room in its vacated student mode. I’m surprised the desks weren’t more in a tangle from students bolting out the door to summer’s beckoning…  
Here are some possibilities:

King Lear: I’ve watched at least two different dramatizations which were powerfully presented, one with Ian Holm. I even began reading Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres, a modern retelling (didn’t get too far due to her plot restructuring). I’m drawn to this play, being fascinated by Shakespeare’s penchant for family dynamics and the fact he has three women instead of the usual one or two. It’s weird to realize that in Shakespeare’s day male actors having to project the wounds of a daughter, of trying to capture of how a woman would react to a father’s rejection is fascinating because women had to be portrayed by men. Then again, we also have men portraying women–did anyone really believe Dustin Hoffman was a woman? My choice of Lear is one of considerable contemplation. Basically I’m trying to determine if I can switch to Lear from Hamlet in my AP curriculm. Going from a son’s agony to a daughter’s makes for interesting analysis. Maybe I’ll do a comparison. Here I go again–working on my supposed two months off…

Of course Harper Lee’s Watchman is at the top of the list. I will request it at the library and figure my turn will come along in time for Christmas Break reading.

I plan to browse for some middle reads, revisit some friends from childhood such as Homer Price or Henry and Ribsy. I am open to suggestions for newer middle reads, especially series. I started reading Al Capone Does My a Shirts. It has promise to continue. A kid who lived on Alcatraz?

And I am game for trying out BIG name authors whom I have yet to make an acquaintance. Maybe Clive Cussler, or Janet Evanonich. I’m taking suggestions for commercially successful authors because I need to get out of my nineteenth century rut of classics reading. I think its healthy to read a book by someone who’s presently living.

Then there is my TBR. Time to blow dust off the list and begin whittling down the titles. 

And what will you be reading this summer?

Anyone try these out yet?

Boston Girl/Anita Diamant
The Remorseful Day/Dexter
Book Seller/Mark Pyor
The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction/James Thorn
Tipping Point/Gallagher
Bird by Bird / Anne Lamott
Loving/Living–Henry 
Hidden Talents-David Lubar
Love, Nina/Nina Stibbe
Juliet’s Nurse/Lois Leveen

Breaking Out


December 19th is a happy day for several reasons:
1. Christmas Break begins as soon as I turn the key on my classroom door.
2. I’m invited to the library staff Christmas party (being a trustee has it’s perks)
3. The next time I enter my classroom it’ll be a new year, meaning we’ve turned the corner and we’ll be heading towards June graduation.
4. Because the 20th is when our very own kinder plus the wunderkind begin arriving for Christmas.
5. I will not be grading papers and don’t have to create lesson plans, although I might fuss and dabble with the ones I have ready to go for January.
6. My room is prepped ready to be painted over break, transforming it from bowl-of-oatmeal-blah-grayish taint to contemporary calming tan and teal.
7. I anticipate two weeks of napping, reading, exercising, visiting, snacking, writing, celebrating a joyous season, and overall relaxing.

I’m contemplating some serious Shakespeare reading–I have a mungo long TBR list of background bio books on the Bard. I’ve a hankering to write a middle grade novel about Wm. Shakespeare, something that will fetch up some interest in him prior to forced readings of his plays in middle school and high school–something that will pique their interest. To go where no author has gone before with the Bard. I know, that’s a tall order for two weeks.

I’m also considering revisiting former reads such The Hobbit and then watch the film adaptation.

I might also start a series I’ve never encountered before. Mystery? Adventure? Sci-fi? Historical? So many options. Any suggestions?

Of course, I could do a thorough scrubbing of my writing and edit and revise and market and well, that sounds an awful like work and aren’t I supposed to be relaxing?
Whatever I decide to do, I want you all to know I appreciate your comments, views, likes, and follows. I hope to end out the year with 25,000 views and a 1000 followers.

Happy joyful season of friends, family, feasting, and most of all, thanks for the Star of Bethlehem.

Penthouse Ponders


image: flickerriver.com Looking out over the world from my penthouse view…

This week I am on my yearly sojourn of eldest progeny visitation. She now lives in a third floor apartment with a view of the neighborhood park–well, sideways squint from the bathroom window. There is no elevator. This is an o-l-d building. If I were a realtor I would employ the words “charming,” “has character,” “a link to the city’s past.” In other words, the stairs are steep and the hallways long, and the foyer smell is a bit aromatic. The apartment itself is charming with lots of light from the east, west, and southern exposure. Her last place was a basement studio. The window and light were practically non-existent. The landlords seem to be trying to update the building. There are mock wood floors, cream-colored stucco walls, deadbolts, and newish windows. They don’t quite close all the way but there is hope for a fix in the works.

After the fourth night of staying in a third floor walk up having lived in relatively ground level dwellings all my life, I have the following observations:

  • Costco shopping hauls are ludicrous because all that is bought can only be hauled if held in each hand
  • Always think about if you have everything before leaving the apartment
  • Should I take the garbage down?
  • Looking at life from a bird’s-eye view lends a pleasant start to the morning
  • Going outside for some fresh air takes on deeper meaning
  • The opportunity to develop voyeurism is tempting
  • Less is more when it comes to gathering possessions, since it all has to be moved down eventually
  • Having neighbors below makes one more sensitive to noise being made since we were once the neighbor below
  • Streetside parking involves intuition and strategy
  • Buns of steel and stamina are a bonus to the view

These observations might be different if the building had an elevator–then again the rent would probably be higher. There seems to be an irony here: most places charge more for the tippy-top real estate, then again elevators must be part of the equation.

Perhaps if I were in my formative years of twentyish ,a walk-up domicile with windows would be exciting. At present, I am learning an appreciation for my yard, driveway, and ability to amass belongings without too much consequence.

 

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: