At Last ... A Book Bingo or Two

I've been reading and reading this summer.  But until I was on my way home from visiting Erin in California earlier this week . . . no actual bingos to report.  

And then, suddenly, there were two!

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Want a closer look?

Here's what I read for the second column, going down:

Set in more than one time period - Dark Circle (Linda Grant) - While most of this book is set in the early 1950s, the last part of the book is set in the current day - serving as a then-what-happened conclusion.  So . . . definitely two time periods, and a book worth reading.

Part of a series - Blue Lightning (Ann Cleeves) - This is the 4th book in the Shetland Island mystery series -- and this one has quite a surprise at the end!  (Can't say I was sorry to see her go. . . )

Recommended by a librarian - Necessary Lies (Diane Chamberlain) - This is my book group's August selection, and was also recommended by my local librarian.  Alas . . . not for me.  I found it tedious and flat.  Much eye-rolling.  Enough said.  (I am just not a fan of "chick-lit" -- even when it revolves around a meaty social issue.  There are many, many fans of this book.  Just . . . not me.)

Wanted to read for more than a year - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain) - This is an excellent book, well-researched and just plain interesting.  Especially for an introvert . . . who is married to an introvert . . . and who raised at least one (and possibly two) introvert children.

Non-fiction about science - Storm in a Teacup (Helen Czerski) - Physics demystified . . . with everyday explanations.  What's not to love?  (I will think of this book every time I handle an egg.) 

BINGO!

And here's what I read for the 2nd row, going across:

Already own - Anything is Possible (Elizabeth Strout) - I wanted to read this one so badly that I just couldn't wait through the incredibly long library hold list.  So I bought it.  If you loved Olive Kitteridge and Lucy Barton, this one will not disappoint.  Another beautiful, stark "necklace of short stories."  (My kind of book.)

Part of a series - (See BINGO above.)

Written under a pseudonym - The Running Man (Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King) - This one was a bit out-of-the-box for me, but I tend to enjoy Stephen King books (he's a great storyteller) . . . and every once in a while, a little dystopia is good for the soul.  Apparently, there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie based on this book (I've never seen it) that is terrible and not at all like the book.  Anyway, this was a very fast read for me.  Because Richard Bachman/Stephen King always sucks you right in, y'know?

Written in the first person - The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Arundhati Roy) - Okay.  So the whole book is not written in the first person, but one of the major characters' "sections" is written in the first person . . . so I'm counting it!  Because, let me tell you, this book is an Investment (time, attention, sanity) -- and it needs to count for something.  (If you're looking forward to reading this one because you loved God of Small Things . . . let me tell you, this is NOT God of Small Things.  At all.)

That you want to read because of the cover - The Lonely Hearts Hotel (Heather O'Neill) - This is the book I was reading as Book Bingo began, back in May.  The cover . . . is the best part of the book.  And we'll just leave it right there.

BINGO!

How's your reading going?


California Dreamin'

A busy, whirlwind trip to California has left me a bit "lagged" and kinda foggy . . . but with great memories of 4 fun days with Erin.

As you may remember, Erin is doing a summer internship with LinkedIn -- and that's what brought me to the Silicon Valley. . . LinkedIn Intern Day last Friday.

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It was really fun to spend a day on the LinkedIn campus, learning about the company, meeting Erin's "team," and being totally WOWed everywhere I looked.  (What you hear about tech companies?  Pretty much all true.  It's like a wonderland . . . )  Probably what I liked best, though, was the Intern Fair -- where each intern presented their summer work to the rest of the company.

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The LinkedIn interns work on "real," meaty projects during their tenure.  They work very hard!  Erin works in the engineering department -- doing internal software documentation.  I think my favorite part of the day was watching Erin explain her project to engineers.

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This internship has been a great experience for Erin -- she's learned a lot, lived independently in a new place far from home, and set herself up for future success.  (Even though she misses Keith and her kitty terribly, and whines about her roommates incessantly.)  It was great to be able to see Erin "in action."  Burst-your-buttons-Mom-pride is still a Thing . . . even when your kid is a grown-up 28!

After the Intern Fair, I stuck around for the weekend so Erin and I could spend some time together and take a couple of day trips.

First, we took the train in to San Francisco and spent a day sight-seeing.  (I've been to San Francisco many times, but Erin had never visited.)

In true San Francisco style, what started out like this . . . 

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ended up like this!

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We had a great time on Fisherman's Wharf, eating sundaes at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory and sourdough bread at Boudins, sipping Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista, and taking a whirlwind tour of the city from the top of an open-air bus.  It was a really fun day . . . plus THIS just never fails to thrill.

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The next day, we decided to drive down the coast a bit on famous Highway One to visit some California beaches.  We stopped in Santa Cruz for brunch (so many surfers!), and then headed further south to Monterey.

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(And, no.  We didn't have time to visit the aquarium.  We'll save that one for next time!)

Erin loves beaches.  (Loves.)  So she made the most of our brief time in Monterey.

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We really had a great time together, and I'm so glad to have had this chance to go out for a quick visit.  (The only thing we didn't do that we had hoped to do . . . was shop for jewelry for her to wear for her upcoming wedding.  Oh, well.  There's still time . . . )

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This week, you can be sure I'll be humming California Dreamin' all the time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gilligan Goes Fishing

Up at our lake, we have a very old pontoon boat that we mostly use for just cruising about. . . looking for wildlife, enjoying the sunsets, scouting for fish.  

Tom is The Skipper.

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I am Gilligan.

This means I help do things (that Tom can do on his own, but I like to have my own role, y'know?) . . . like cast off, manage the anchor, or navigate back to the dock.

It works.

We rarely fish from the pontoon, but when we do?  Gilligan is super busy.  (Because fisherman are fickle and want to try out new spots constantly.  That anchor-managing keeps Gilligan hoppin'!)

We had my dad up for a visit to the cottage for a few days, and we took the pontoon out every afternoon for leisurely fishing.

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The dogs love to come out with us on the pontoon boat.  While they prefer just cruising, they certainly don't mind kicking back and relaxing on the boat while we fish.  And Jenny -- who LOVES fishing -- remains on high-alert for the sound of reeling-in-a-big-one (or, for that matter, even a little one).

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Sometimes we luck out . . . 

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and someone lands a good fish.

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But, mostly . . . it's just lovely bobbing along, watching the summer unfold on the lake.

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And what does Gilligan do with the downtime on the pontoon?*  Well.  In the past, I have tried to bring books or a knitting project along.  But, y'know . . . it never fails.  Right in the middle of a row, or after settling into a new chapter, The Skipper calls for assistance with the anchor . . . and we're moving again! 

So now?  I bring a magazine.  And my camera.  And these . . .

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Birdwatching at the lake is endlessly entertaining.  I watch the loons.  I love watching the herons and kingfishers.  I even found a bald eagle perched in a tree the other day.   You just never know what you'll spot -- and it's a whole lot easier to put the binoculars down in a hurry when someone calls for . . . 

GILLIGAN!

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I call that Win-Win!

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* I get a fishing license every year.  But I'm just not that into fishing.


Working on My Balance

For a few years now, I've wanted to try stand-up paddle boarding.  I mean . . . it looks so fun!  Just paddling along, enjoying the lake views.  Y'know?  Kind of like kayaking. . . But not.

I decided that THIS was the year!  (After all, BALANCE is my word for 2017.)  Tom got me a paddle board for my birthday.

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Let me tell you, folks.  Stand-up paddle boarding?  Not so easy!  (The whole getting on and getting off part, alone, was nearly enough to do me in. . . )  I have very good balance and core strength from years of practicing yoga and Pilates -- but when I stepped on that board?  

Oh. My. 

So.

Damn.

Awkward.

(Kind of like being in a canoe for the first time.  Remember that feeling?  Like any movement you make - no matter how slight - is going to upend the whole works?  Yeah.  That feeling.)

My legs were shaking so badly I thought, surely, I'd fall in and have to swim back to shore . . . defeated.  And that's when I started talking to myself.  Out loud.  

You are strong.  

You can do this.  

The worst thing that can happen is you end up in the lake.

I was determined.  I kept at it.  Eventually, I figured things out -- how to turn around, how to control my speed, that I had much better balance when I relaxed.  And, before I knew it, I was Doing It!  And it was FUN.

In the end, I learned some important lessons about BALANCE from my stand-up paddle board; lessons that can be applied to, well . . . the rest of LIFE:

  • Feeling out-of-balance in any new situation is expected, so give yourself some time to adjust to your new reality.  Live with it for a bit; it will become more natural.
  • Yeah, you'll probably feel a bit awkward and embarrassed to be trying a new thing in front of other people.  Oh, well!  You'll get through it.
  • Tensing up is a natural response when we're trying something new.  Try to let go of that tension.  If your legs are shaking . . . take a deep breath and relax.  
  • Remember that it's okay to take things slowly.  Be deliberate in your actions.  Figure out the basic techniques or elements you need to feel in control of your new situation.
  • When your confidence wanes, talk to yourself.  Find some mantras that are meaningful to you and repeat them - frequently and out loud.
  • Practice!  The more you do it, the more natural it feels.
  • And - most of all - smile.  Because it's fun to try new things.  And when we smile, we remind ourselves that life is good and we can Do This Thing.

Before I head home later this afternoon, you know what I'm going to do?  Yeah.  A bit more work on my balance!

 


Dogs on Vacation

Although our dogs come up north to our cottage with us all the time, they usually have to stay at home with a dog-sitter when we go on vacations to other places.  It was a Grand Adventure, then, for all of us, when we brought the dogs along to Beaver Island for our vacation.

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Beaver Island is completely dog-friendly - beginning with the island ferry, where the dogs got their own tickets!

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Both dogs did just great on the 2-hour ferry ride out to the island (which is in the middle of northern Lake Michigan).  They were well-behaved and pretty relaxed.  (It was tougher on our way home because the water was really rough that day, and they were somewhat uncomfortable about that.  But still good dogs!)

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On the island, we stayed in a cottage right on the lakeshore for the week.  It was pretty much dog-heaven -- with the water and the woods and the turkeys and the snakes.  So very much to check out!

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One day, the lake was super calm -- barely even a ripple on the surface.  A perfect day for swimming!  

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We had hoped for a dog-swimming-day and planned accordingly, packing water toys -- including one of Jenny's favorite blue floatation cushions.  The dogs LOVED swimming in the "big lake!"

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The shoreline of the island is mostly rocky, so it's challenging to "walk the beach" -- but there are a few bays with sandy beaches.  They are very dog-friendly (unlike most of the Lake Michigan beaches nearer to home, where dogs are not allowed - even on leash) and the dogs were welcome.  We were able to let them off-leash where they could walk along with us, free to explore and roam a little.

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They LOVED it!

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And we did our part to keep the beaches walk-able for everyone. . . 

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It truly was a Grand Adventure for all of us -- J-pups included.

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And, as an update, Jenny is feeling much better.  (She got into the trash at our cabin on the last night of our vacation. . . )  We're still waiting for her to pass whatever "interesting thing" she ate -- but she's eating again, and acting like her usual cantankerous self!


Vacation (Home Again)

We had a wonderful vacation.
(And now we're back home.)

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So relaxing.
(And then we came home to a full schedule of appointments and events and meetings.)

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We did a good job of unplugging.
(But now we're making up for it -- catching up on paperwork and email.)

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We had no distractions.
(But now we're dealing with our sick, garbage-eating dog.*)

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We just listened to the waves and enjoyed the ever-changing shore.
(Now I'm coming to grips with the weeds-gone-wild after 11 days away.)

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We sat around and just kicked back every day.  And ate ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.
(And now we're hitting the gym.)

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We're back home.  And happy to be here.
(But missing the relaxed pace.)

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(And the beach. . . )

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* Jenny eats ANYTHING.  And she ate . . . "something-interesting-but-not-identifiable" while we were on vacation (according to the x-rays the vet took on Tuesday) . . . which will now work it's way through her digestive tract.  (Lucky.Us.)  

 

 

 


Up North and Beyond

Yesterday, Tom and the dogs and I headed up north to our cottage for a few days.

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We're enjoying time on the lake . . . watching the baby loon learn to dive, marveling at the grace of herons, endlessly throwing toys for the dogs to retrieve in the water, trying out my new stand-up paddle board.  It's quiet and comfortable and remote.

Although . . . 

Turns out not all that remote, really.  After all, we have (spotty) cellular service up north at the cottage.  And (slow-ish) wifi.  We can stream Netflix.  And that keeps us connected with the world at large.

Next week, though?  We're headed beyond Up North . . . to WAY Up North.*

On Sunday, we leave for Beaver Island (the northernmost island in Lake Michigan).  We've rented a cottage right on the lake for a week, which will be incredibly beautiful and so cool and sure-to-be-relaxing.  

But . . . now we're talking Remote.  Because there is no cellular service.  No wifi.  No television at all.  Just a landline for emergencies.

And I can't wait!
(Although I'm sure I'll have some Google-withdrawal.)

Enjoy next week -- and we'll catch up when I return.

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* And, of course, it's all a matter of perspective.  Because there's the whole of Michigan's Upper Peninsula even farther Up North!