Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts # 4 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those days that make me miss my family and American traditions. Family, food, football, and giving thanks - what's not to love?  Most reflect on what they've been blessed with and express gratitude to their loved ones.  Everyone seems to treat each other a little nicer (except those in heated football rivalries).  

That's one drastic difference - past Thanksgivings for me always included the A&M/Texas, so that's a big change.  I have no doubt, instead of rushing off to College Station or Austin, I'd be planted in front of a tv watching the other football rivalries. 

For my family and loved ones, as you're stuffing yourself with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato pie, chocolate pie, and more...know that I'm thinking of you today (a little more than every other day). I'm thankful for you, and I'm there in spirit!  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book # 34

Book # 34 - Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed -  I had high hopes for this book.  I've read the author's previous two books and thought they were heart wrenching and brilliant.  The stories in this book are layered with emotional complexities, but I still didn't feel the deep ache that I felt for the characters in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  It is definitely worth the read, and I can't quite put my finger on what was missing. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

List # 8 - Lost & Found

I discussed in a previous blog entry that I'm moving from a tiny one bedroom apartment to a spacious house in the 'burbs.  The major move occurred this past Saturday.  I still have bits and pieces (i.e. piles of clothes) to get from the old place, but the majority of the packing and moving is complete.  Moving isn't fun.  No one likes to pack, move, unpack......  Instead of focusing on the not-so-fun aspects of moving, I thought I'd look at some of the fun things - like rediscovering hidden treasures that I thought I'd lost, but now I've found...

1.  $100 gift voucher to a day spa - I got this for my birthday in June.  It expires in December.  After this move, my back will definitely be screaming for a massage!

2.  Tweezers - I never seem to be able to find tweezers when I need them.  When I was packing, I found three pairs.

3.  I have a bag full of posters that I've been moving with me since I was a teenager - mostly of Jon Bon Jovi - including my door size collage that I lovingly created in high school and used in a group presentation at A&M.  I got an A.  I forgot about this gem that one of my best girlfriends gave to me.  It is a colored chalk drawing of JBJ.  I was bothered then that the artist got his eye color wrong, and I'm bothered by it still.  Jon Bon Jovi does NOT have brown eyes.

4.  Christmas goodies from my mother like a Peanuts Christmas card with a recorded message from her that can be played, so I can hear her sweet voice, and these fabulous Christmas light pajama bottoms:

5.   White gold hoop earrings - I think I wore this pair of earrings only once or twice before I "lost" them. 

6.  A bag full of underthings - I knew I bought more when I was in Texas this past July!

7.  I have an assortment of sweatshirts I can't seem to throw away.  I forgot about my embroidered ORHS sweatshirt, but I rediscovered this treasure:

8.  I love pictures.  I have a lot of them of family, friends, travel, etc.  This one made me cry - (I still miss you so much, Jesse James):

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thoughts # 3 - The 'Burbs

It's official - I'm moving to the 'burbs!  Neil and I are moving to Blair Athol which is a suburb 57 km (35 miles) southwest of downtown Sydney.  The house is pretty nice for a lease house.  The finishings aren't fantastic, but it's a lease house.  It's a 5 bedroom 3 bathroom house - there's 1 bedroom and bathroom with a shower downstairs and the rest is upstairs.  Best of all - it has a walk-in closet, air conditioning!, a spa bath, a dog run with a dog house, plus a paved area in the backyard with a pergola.  Heck, I'm even excited to have a linen closet!  You know I'm not the cleanest girl in the world...when I don't have space or room to put things in place, like towels in a linen closet, it only encourages my messiness! is good. 

The biggest changes...(which are two big changes)...are the commute, gaining a 15 year old (Chelsea, Neil's daughter) and 73 year old (Graham, Neil's father) as housemates, and the change itself.  Graham is taking the bedroom downstairs which is by far the smallest.  So, we'll have our space upstairs.  There's conceivably 3 different living rooms - so every one can have their own little corners if need be.  I'm happy that Chelsea will be living with us.  She's a cool kid that I can relate to.  I've been a 15 year old girl, and although it was a long time ago, I still remember a lot of things from that time.  The commute - currently, I can walk to work.  With the move, I'll be on a train for over an hour.  I'm viewing this as reading time. The change - well, I haven't lived in a house since I was 17 years old.  I've been apartment living and mostly urban dwelling since that time.  So, it's a big change for me...but I have decided that I'm ready for the change.

We've definitely been busting at the seams in our current apartment.  It's a one bedroom.  It's small.  You can barely turn around in the kitchen or the bathroom.  All that being said, it was a place where I experienced a tremendous amount of self-growth.  For this, I will always be fond of the place and hold a special place in my heart for it.  And, damn...I'm going to miss the view.  My bedroom window looks at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It's difficult to beat this view........ 

i'll miss Kirribilli, but it's time for a new adventure.  Now...for the dreaded act of packing, moving, and unpacking.  UGH!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book # 33

I forgot this one.  Somewhere in my listing of books, I forgot to list this one.  I know why.  It's because I read it on my dad's kindle when I was visiting him in July.  I am not ready to give up actual books and use an e-reader.  Forgetting to list this book just gives me another excuse to avoid this technology.

 I may have mentioned before that John Sandford is my favorite author of this genre - crimes that mostly involve crazy, sick, murdering bad guys with reoccurring good guys fighting the good fight.  John Sandford reminded me of why he's my fave with this book.  Silken Prey served up the plot, characters, and style that I expect from Mr. Sandford.  Too bad I read it on a kindle.  I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it even more reading the good ol' fashioned book. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book #29 #30 #31 #32

Since I last posted about my reading adventures, I've read four more books.  Here they are:

Book # 29

Book # 29 - Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield - The author is a music journalist, and I've seen him on several VH1 shows where they are talking about loving the '80s or other compilation type music shows.  I like music.  I like books.  I made mix tapes.  I have experienced love, life, and loss.  This was a book for me.  Many, many of the music references are from the indie rock world (not exactly my world of music), but the author and I are close to the same age.  He makes a few hair band references and chronicles musical genres/decades that I can easily follow.  He has a few other published books that I've added to my "to read" list. 

Book # 30
Book # 30 - Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - I preferred this book to the author's much more popular Gone Girl.  It was dark and disturbing, but I still found myself relating to the main character. 

Book # 31

Book # 31 - The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard - This book was recommended on because of my reading lists and ratings of other books.  I'm glad it was.  It was another heart-wrenching, tumultous family crime type book (like the previous one), and I liked it even more than the previous one.  Never heard of the author; never heard of the book; but it was a good one. 

Book # 32

Book # 32 - Life After Death by Damien Echols - Damien Echols spent 18 years on death row for a heinous crime that he most likely did not commit.  This book does not go into detail about that crime.  You can google West Memphis 3 to find enough articles about that.  This book is insight to a person's psyche who lives over half his life on death row.  I'm a supporter of strong punishment for people who commit unspeakable, heinous crimes.  But, I also know that there are people on death row who don't belong there.  Huge dilemma, I know.  I find Damien Echols fascinating, and I think he appreciates his freedom and the little things in life a whole lot more than most of us. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thoughts # 2 - Randomness

Painting by Lykke Steenback Josephsen, Denmark, "No title"

Goodness gracious.  I'm terrible at keeping up with this blog.  So inconsistent.  Random.

Hmmmmm...."random" makes me think of the only blogger that I actually read on a consistent basis.  She has a regular feature called the "random quarter".  I don't know her method.  Does she have an outline?  Does she make random notes, then compile them?  Or, does she sit down and randomly write whatever pops up in her head?  I don't know, but I know I enjoy them.'s my own installment of the "random quarter" (idea stolen from here)....

one. I voted for the People's Choice Awards a week or two ago.  I've never done it, but it popped up on my facebook feed, so I took a look.  It was a joke.  I voted, but it was still a joke.  I had to remind myself it was a popularity contest and not really an award that held any true merit.  I can't even remember who or what I voted for except I voted for P!nk for something.  I like P!nk.

two.  I gave up on True Blood.  I've been watching every season.  This year, I hadn't found the time.  I only bothered to watch the first three episodes, and they didn't suck me in (pun intended).  The other episodes were filling up my recorded allotment, so I erased them.  Pam is still my favorite True Blood character though.  She has fabulous hair, a fabulous wardrobe, and fabulously bitchy remarks.

three. There is a radio ad campaign for Nichol's auto parts or Nichol's air conditioning...I don't even remember. What I do know is they use one of those really annoying, overly exuberant spokesperson, and this one happens to speak in an exaggerated Southern (American) drawl.  Why?  In Australia?  Because there is a US coin called a nickel?  It's dumb.

 four.  I adore the Big Bang Theory.  I think the characters are so well written, and the cast is superb.  Modern Family too.  These are two sitcoms that deserve the praise and viewership that they have.  I think they are the only two current sitcoms that I watch. 

 five. I don't think the general customer realizes how tough the world of retail can be for those of us who work in it and truly attempt to provide quality customer service.  There are some days that are great; customers are nice, the stories they tell are fun, and I sell some things.  Other days are not so great; people are rude, expect the impossible, and spend a lot of time asking a lot of questions with no real intention to buy anything.  I prefer the nice customers.

six. I have gained a lot of weight in recent years and my self-confidence has suffered.  Not that I was ever overly self-confident, but I was comfortable with my looks.  Now, I am terribly self-critical about myself.

 seven. I had a Steigl last Austrian was reminded me of the first time I traveled to Europe and drank in the beer gardens of Innsbruck and Munich.

eight. As far as full blood siblings, I have a brother.  I never really wanted a sister.  As I've gotten older, I respect the relationship that my mom has with her two sisters and the relationship my dad's three sisters have.  Fortunately, I have some really great cousins who are like my little sisters.

 nine. In 1988, I was quoted in the ORHS yearbook saying that I respect my brother.  I did then, and I do even more now. 

ten. Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia.  "The race that stops the nation", or something like that.  I've happily enjoyed many Aussie traditions, but this isn't one of them.  It's a horse race.  It lasts 3 minutes.  I didn't care about the Kentucky Derby, and I'm not ever gonna care much about the Melbourne Cup.  To each their own. 

eleven. "i don't understand why people have to fake kindness. it's not kind when it's phony."  (this is Jenn's, but I couldn't bring myself to erase it because I couldn't agree more)

twelve.  Songs that are played in public places like restaurants or stores try to generally be harmless and unoffensive.  The last two songs to play in our store were Neil Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry" and Phil Collins' "Against All Odds".  I'm sure I've harmed myself by dancing to the first one, and I'm sure I'm offended someone by singing the latter.

thirteen. These are the highest-grossing films of the year to date. Of the first hundred listed, I have seen only five of them.  Terrible.  I need to get out more.  I did see several listed that I'm interested in seeing.....
Let's look at last year's list.  I've seen 18 of them.  That's better!  I've got three more recorded to see which is my usual movie viewing habit these days.  I know it got a lot of hype, but I quite enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook.  I saw it on an airplane, so I want to see it again in my own viewing space. 

fourteen. Places in America that I want to visit that I've never been to before: New York City, The Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the only cruise I'm interested in -> an Alaskan Cruise.

fifteen. International destinations on my wish list that I've never been to before: island hopping in Greece; Tokyo, Japan; the border region of Switzerland and Italy: Banff, Canada; Edinburgh, Scotland; the Maldives; Dubai; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Croatia; Norway; Mallorca, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic; Queenstown, New Zealand........oh, I want to go everywhere!

sixteen. Seven things I'd buy (for myself): a) a trip to Texas for Neil, his kids, and me; b) home furnishings - we're moving from a one bedroom, tiny urban apartment to a 5 bedroom house, and if money was no issue, I'd have a dandy ol' time furnishing it ; c) a new convertible VW Beetle; d) an American muscle car from the '60s - a Corvette Stingray or a Mustang would do; e) a 10 day relaxation getaway for Neil and I that included spa packages, massages, a super comfortable bed, and a pretty view; f) shoes - I always want shoes; g) a year's supply of diet pills - I know that's a terribly unhealthy response, but it's the truth.

seventeen. I'm stranded on a desert island and can bring one person, one book and one food item (that never goes bad and is in constant supply) or plant. They are: Neil; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; potatoes.

eighteen. If I didn't have to work, I would volunteer with underprivileged or less fortunate or sick or abused kids.  I know it sounds altruistic, but it's true.  Although, I'd only do it part-time.  The rest of my time would be spent shopping, traveling, and eating.

nineteen. Source of inspiration: the fact that there are other people in this world whose struggles are far more difficult than my own.

twenty. I want a drink in my hand and my toes in the sand.

twenty-one. I've truly never put much thought into having superpowers, but I wish for better hair, prettier nails, and a lack of an appetite all the time.  Can I turn those into superpowers?

twenty-two. If I had amnesty for a twenty-four hour period and could break any law, I'd burn down the Westboro Baptist Church site, kidnap them all, and take them to a deserted island (not the one where I'd be living from seventeen). 

twenty-three. If I could have a candid conversation with anyone dead or alive - wow - this one's got me.  I've come up with several candidates, and I might be over-thinking this.  I'm totally going to cheat and pick three people.  I'd want to tell my grandfather Buddy, my grandmother Rosemary, and my Memaw Virginia how important each one of them were to me and soak up some of their stories they had to share. 

twenty-four. Five favorite desserts: Blue Bell ice cream; red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, bananas foster, Neiman Marcus cake, a cookie cake from the Great American Cookie Co.

twenty-five. I don't like Abba.