December 31, 2006


Pages for Venice book.
(Click images to enlarge)

12x24 LO:

12x12 details of left and right pages:

Campanile Views

Another set of pages for the Venice book.
(Click images to enlarge)

12x24 LO:

12x12 detail of left and right pages:

December 30, 2006

Bellini's @ the Rialto

I've decided to create a book to capture our trip to Venice.
My plan is to create the layouts, and then have them printed up into a book.
Here is the first LO of the trip.
(Click images to enlarge).

Here is the 12x24 LO:

Detail of the 12x12 left and right pages:

December 28, 2006

Read Book

These pics are from an October visit.
Click on images to enlarge.

Here is the 12x24 LO:

Details of the 12x12 left and right pages:

Digital paper and alpha downloaded from Shabby Princess (Moody Blues)

December 26, 2006

Christmas Day @ Great Brook

Here is a layout I created this morning.
(Click on images to enlarge)

I love how this turned out, especially like the color scheme.
First I created a 12x24 page:

and then cropped it into two 12x12 for the left and right pages:

All digital downloads from
Background paper = papier dreams by Rhonna Farrer.

Xmas Pics

I have the cutest nieces and nephews!
(Click to enlarge)

December 19, 2006

Current Fave Video:

Video Description

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whos sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.

As this symbol of human hope spread accross the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.

Bombay Club

My book club met at Bombay Club in Harvard Square for brunch and to discuss the book, “The Battle for Christmas” by Stephen Nissenbaum.

We discussed the idea of tradition – and how many of them do not go back for more than several generations, and how the term “tradition” adds weight to a practice. It’s always interesting to hear how other families celebrate the holidays. What we keep and what we discard.

My personal opinion is that Christmas (and most other holidays for that matter), have become too commercialized. Not necessarily more so than in the past – no judgment intended. I simply wonder what all that bought stuff (mostly made in China) is covering up. I do not see people smiling as they shop. There is a desperate, angry, tense air to the entire holiday season.

Most people seem to be really upset about having to buy presents – so why do it? Why not do something that feels better and creates a deeper connection? It is tough to swim against the mainstream currents.

December 13, 2006

2007 Book Club Selections

My book club voted on the books we'll read next year, and this is our final list:

Jan: "Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert
Feb: "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman" by Nora Ephron
March: "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers" by Elizabeth Edwards
April: "Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas" by Esther Newton
May: "Pomegranate Soup" by Marsha Mehran
June: "Specimen Days" by Michael Cunningham
July: "Innocent Man" by John Grisham
Aug: "The Inheritance of Loss" by Kiran Desai
Sept: "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. Le Guin
Oct: "Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality" by Anne Fausto-Sterling
Nov: "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" by William Styron
Dec: "Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective" by Mark Epstein

December 11, 2006

The DaVinci Code

I really liked the Dan Brown book and was thrilled to hear that Ron Howard was going to direct the movie version. However, the movie reviews were so bad that I opted to wait for the DVD.

Saw it this past weekend, and was really disappointed. Howard follows the story almost page by page – it worked for the book, but the movie needed serious editing. Characters like Silas did not really add any value to the movie – other than to show the murders. Tom Hanks, who I generally like, was like a cardboard cutout. I had heard interviews with both Hanks and Howard a year ago and there seemed to be a lot of nervousness – why? Because the story is about religion and faith?

Great casting, great director, great story – so how did it go so wrong?

December 10, 2006


We had an amazing trip to Venice. Beautiful and magical place.
(Click on pics to enlarge).

Only in Italy - a calendar of hot young clergy!

November 28, 2006

The Other Boleyn Girl

by Philippa Gregory

My regular book club met for Sunday brunch at Asgards, in Cambridge to discuss this historical fiction. We had an interesting discussion about the story, life in court and the idea of historical fiction. I love historical fiction. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I will certainly check out her other works.

The novel is set in the time of King Henry VIII’s court – a period of time I have been fascinated with ever since I first read about Henry’s 6 wives. The man single-handedly usurped the hold of the Catholic Church, all over the love of a woman/women not his wife. Absolutely fascinating. This story is told from the viewpoint of Mary Boleyn – an excellent choice, since we only have sketchy details of her life. Gregory depicts court life and the power struggles brilliantly. I think I read this book in less than 24 hours – it’s a fast read, and well written.

From Publishers Weekly:
"Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. Anne, her sister Mary and their brother George are all brought to the king's court at a young age, as players in their uncle's plans to advance the family's fortunes. Mary, the sweet, blond sister, wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. Their affair lasts several years, and she gives Henry a daughter and a son. But her dark, clever, scheming sister, Anne, insinuates herself into Henry's graces, styling herself as his adviser and confidant. Soon she displaces Mary as his lover and begins her machinations to rid him of his wife, Katherine of Aragon. This is only the beginning of the intrigue that Gregory so handily chronicles, capturing beautifully the mingled hate and nearly incestuous love Anne, Mary and George ("kin and enemies all at once") feel for each other and the toll their family's ambition takes on them. Mary, the story's narrator, is the most sympathetic of the siblings, but even she is twisted by the demands of power and status; charming George, an able plotter, finally brings disaster on his own head by falling in love with a male courtier. Anne, most tormented of all, is ruthless in her drive to become queen, and then to give Henry a male heir. Rather than settling for a picturesque rendering of court life, Gregory conveys its claustrophobic, all-consuming nature with consummate skill. In the end, Anne's famous, tragic end is offset by Mary's happier fate, but the self-defeating folly of the quest for power lingers longest in the reader's mind."
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

November 27, 2006

I, Mona Lisa

by Jeanne Kalogridis

From Publishers Weekly:
“Set against a backdrop of political and religious conflicts in 15th-century Medici-ruled Florence, Kalogridis's bloody historical (after The Borgia Bride) identifies the subject of Leonardo da Vinci's painting as Lisa di Antonio Gherardini. Lisa was the daughter of Madonna Lucrezia, wife of a wealthy wool merchant who also enchanted both da Vinci and Lorenzo de' Medici's brother Giuliano, murdered by conspirators in 1478. Giuliano's assassination—and the later murder of Lucrezia—presage a reign of religious terror led by a monk known as Savonarola and the retreat of the Medicis in the face of invasion from France's King Charles. An adult Lisa attracts the romantic attentions of a young Medici scion, whom she marries for love. (His father, Lorenzo, commissions her portrait from da Vinci.) But violent events soon separate the couple and a brutal Savonarola follower tells Lisa that her husband is dead—and her father's life in danger—unless she marries him instead. Lisa survives, an avenging angel, proving herself worthy of da Vinci's immortal artistry. Kalogridis's fevered bodice ripper invents a passionate woman behind La Gioconda's enigmatic smile.”
Copyright © Reed Business Information

I finished this historical fiction this past weekend, and this is the first book I’ve read on Mona Lisa. I love the history of this time period in Florence – there is just so much going on! And the Medici’s are fascinating. Politics, religion, love, betrayal, loyalty, passion, beauty, art, power - how can it be a bad read? Lisa is Leonardo da Vinci’s daughter? Am going to have to research more about that.

This is not a bodice-ripper (if that’s what you are looking for), but a really good read. I have not read any work by this author before, and will certainly look at her other work.

November 16, 2006

2006 MCAS

In the 2006 MCAS Scores,

7th grade students at Lowell Public ranked: 246/281 in Math (with a score of 23 out of a possible max of 100)

and 263/281 in English (with a score of 40 out of 100)

To see how your town did use the link below.

Are you angry yet?

November 14, 2006

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by Elizabeth Gilbert

I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book on CD on my daily commute.

It’s a memoir about Elizabeth, who at the age of 31 moves with her husband to the burbs and begins to try getting pregnant, only to discover that she does not want to be either pregnant or married.

After a nasty divorce, she takes off for a year of travel and recuperation to the three i’s: Italy for pleasure, India for spiritual seeking and Indonesia for learning to live in balance.

The audio book is read by the author, and I think I much preferred the audio version to the written one – am not sure that I would have made it through parts of the written book.

Gilbert describes her adventures, soul searching and healing with wit, humor and compassion.

A delightful gem of a book to listen to, and inspire us to seek pleasure, spirituality and balance in our own lives.

November 8, 2006

Get out the Vote!

The first black governor of Massachusetts and the first woman Speaker of the House! Am quite pleased with the election results.

It is now time to hold our leaders feet to the fire – let’s see the change that is needed and not blow this opportunity to really do something of value.

It has been interesting to watch the ad campaign on Ballot #1 for MA residents - the attempt to change a rather archaic rule still on the books. Should MA allow the sale of wine in grocery stores – contingent upon local town approval. For those not from this state, today, one has to go to a liquor store to get wine, beer, etc.

“The battle over wine sales, known as Question 1, was the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history, with opposing sides combining to spend more than $11.5 million.” –

No doubt as to who was funding the opposing side. The scare tactics were amazing – and what’s more interesting, nearly 56% of MA voters agreed that being able to buy your favorite bottle of red or white, while buying your groceries, was indeed going to create greater death and mayhem! Unbelievable!

Good thing we don’t have “should we pin a huge scarlet letter on bad women?” as a ballot question in this state.

November 3, 2006

Books on Venice

1. The City of Falling Angels
- by John Berendt
- from the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
- not as well written as Midnight
- the setting is Venice, and is quite an enjoyable exploration of its quirky inhabitants
- read this earlier this year before we have finalized plans to go to Venice

2. Through a Glass, Darkly
- by Donna Leon
- a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery
- my first exposure to Donna Leon
- listened to this book on my commute in September
- fun and light story; loved hearing how Italian words were pronounced
- made me hungry

3. Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent
- by Mary Laven
- non fiction look at the nuns in Venice
- am reading this now and am absolutely fascinated
- most of what is know is based on reports based on state and church authorities documenting these
"places of vice and indiscipline” and calling for reform
- absolutely fascinating – have I said this already?

4. The usual guide book – Fodors, Lonely Planet, etc.

Elephant Walk

Had dinner last night at Elephant Walk in Cambridge. For some reason neither of the branches in Cambridge or Waltham is as good at the Brookline location. For example, the Waltham location has no qualms about serving re-heated rolls. Maybe I just need to figure out the day when the head chef is on duty. Either way do yourself a favor and skip the house Merlot – I’ve had more potent communion wine!

This was my second dinner with the International Club – a group of 35-70 year old folks not born in the US, who meet monthly for dinner in the Boston area. Have met delightful folks from France, Algeria, China, Spain and the UK.

Our dinner topics the first night revolved around getting to know you kind of stuff – what brought you to the states, how long have you been here, etc. And you know with a group like that, we launched fairly quickly into politics.

Last night we discussed the idea of having parallel cultures and languages, and how there has been research that shows that there is no merging of the tracks. The reality that I am Indian today, Kenyan tomorrow, and Americanized yesterday is something easily understood and validated.

An evening spend discussing culture, travel, the challenges of personal space in different cultures, yoga, meditation, tai chi, Sufism……. a diverse and delightful feast of thoughts and ideas.

November 2, 2006

Dancing with the Dishes

Last night as I was doing dishes (I heard that gasp), I had the TV tuned to “Dancing with the Stars”.

Now maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t get this show. Why is it so popular?

Okay so maybe there are some thrills to watching Emmet Smith the football jock take a whirl on the dance floor.

The show I watched had a really bad singer (what is the appeal?) sing a song while several not so good dancers – not the stars – perform a routine. Then IL DIVO sang. What all this singing has to do with the show, other than pack in more commercial time, I don’t now.

I gather that there is some repressed human urge to see others get “voted off” that these shows have tapped into – and quite successfully I might add. Just look at the plethora of shows that vote someone off the island, or fire them, or …..

I don’t mean to sound judgmental at all. I really seek enlightenment. If you are a Dancing with the Stars fan, I’d love to hear what hooks you.

Views of Mt Rainier

This is the view from my sister's house in Olympia, Washington.
The most amazing sunrises and sunsets.
A little piece of heaven.

I've been told that Rainier only shows herself to those pure of heart. Been told stories of visitors who have never seen her during several visits. Well, they must have some heart cleansing to do.

(click pics to enlarge)

November 1, 2006

The Hungry Tide: A Novel

By Amitav Ghosh

I have spent the last couple of weeks being transported to the Sundarbans, a vast archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.

I listened to this book on CD. My first exposure to Amitav Ghosh.

Lunar rainbows (is this news to anyone else?), man-eating tigers, cyclones, mangrove forests, Irrawaddy dolphins, tides, and the clash between civilization and the wild.

I was captivated by the characters, their stories and struggles.

Time well spent on my daily commute.

October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

A good day weather-wise for all the little ghosts and goblins.
High of almost 70! We’ve had snow some years.

Enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on my morning walk, and went to the local park for a picnic lunch. Trying to enjoy as much as this lovely weather window as I can.

Am still trying to get used to the fact that I’ve gained an hour with “fall back”. My internal clock has not caught up yet, and I’m reminded again of how arbitrary the concept of time really is – we can add or loose an hour at will. And we all drink the cool-aid. Except for certain states, and I believe Indiana is one such state that refuses to play along. Makes it all very confusing when you call people across time zones.

We’ve stocked up on candy – only the types I’ll eat – and look forward to the little ones tonight. I mean really, what mean person buys cheap candy of a type they themselves would not eat? There are circumstances when I understand the need to egg someone’s car or mailbox.

Trick or Treat!

October 28, 2006

Visual Journal 1

I created a journal to play in over the summer. Selected papers, and wrapped the covers with wallpaper samples (these work great!) Had the book bound at Staples.
Here's what it looks like on the outside.

(click to on pics to enlarge)

October 27, 2006


Folks at work went on a team building adventure yesterday afternoon to TOMB on Brookline Street. Anyone else been there? If you haven’t you are not really missing much.

I think it is targeted for middle school kids – or adults with that skill level. The premise is that we are scientists who uncover an ancient Egyptian Tomb in Boston – anyone else already scratching their head? We meet up with our “guide” – boy aged about 15.

At the start of the expedition, we are told of the grave dangers, of others who have lost their lives in this quest, etc. We’re given several flashlights for the group and then have to find the way in. Guess the flashing blue button hidden behind a shrub would not have been a dead giveaway if one was 15.

Once inside the tomb, we are tested and have to pass several tests in each room – 3 or 4 rooms in total. The idea being you have to work as a team to solve the puzzles. One thing that did get my heart pounding was a test of our courage as “vipers” attacked. Those who know of my snake sagas, know that it was touch and go for a moment. Turns out that the vipers were really short puffs of air – even I was not moved.

In the end, we solved the puzzles, found the pharaohs body – so he can now rest in peace, and booked it over to the nearest bar for a stiff drink where the team building really began.

October 26, 2006

Dinner in Goa

I am always on the lookout for new Indian restaurants near me, and when Café Goa opened up in Westford this summer, we had to check it out.

I am delighted to say that as long as you know what to order off the menu, the food is quite delicious. I prefer the items on their menu as opposed to the weekend buffet – not enough variety (the only meat is the safe one – Chicken). And I am partial to Lamb.

It’s always an adventure when you order wine in an Indian Restaurant. The first time we ordered a bottle of red at Café Goa, we watched in amusement as every man that worked there came out to offer their advice on how to uncork the bottle. Just as one of us was going to walk over to the bar and offer to help, one of the guys succeeded in getting the cork out.

Am delighted to report that since our last visit, someone took the time to train our waiter on wine etiquette. Last night, he brought the bottle to our table. Showed it to us. Uncorked it and had me taste. Proceeded to fill the glasses in the correct order. Left the cork on the table. Halleluiah! His mother could not have been more proud.

October 25, 2006

Smart Cars

Anyone else seen the ads for these cars that park themselves?

While I am the first to admit that my parallel parking skills could use a little fine-tuning (Susan has shown me a foolproof method that works everytime) - what's up with cars that do it for you?

Is the goal to dumb down every thing, so that our noggins can shed our remaining cells faster?
I know people who cannot read a map. Well, they can always stop at a gas station and get directions I suppose. Now that we have cars that park for us, what else is there for us to do? Might as well talk on that phone, drink scalding hot coffee and eat a donut or two.

Happy parking.

October 24, 2006

October 23, 2006

Halloween Safety Tips

Thought since Halloween is approaching you may need to brush up on your Halloween Safety Tips.

1. When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it's really dead.

2. Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even just for kicks.

3. Do not search the basement, especially if the power has gone out.

4. If your children speak to you in Latin or any other language which they should not know, shoot them immediately. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run. However, it will probably take several rounds to kill them, so be prepared. This also applies to kids who speak with somebody else's voice.

5. When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off and go alone

6. As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

7. Never stand in, on, or above a grave, tomb, or crypt. This would apply to any other house of the dead as well.

8. If you're searching for something which caused a loud noise and find out that it's just the cat, GET THE HELL OUT!

9. If appliances start operating by themselves, do not check for short circuits, just get out.

10. Do not take ANYTHING from the dead.

11. If you find a town which looks deserted, there's probably a good reason for it. Don't stop and look round.

12. Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're absolutely sure you know what you're doing.

13. If you're running from the monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, more if you are of the female persuasion. Also note that, despite the fact that you are running and the monster is merely shambling along, it's still moving fast enough to catch up with you.

14. If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination for blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness, and so on, kill them off them immediately. You'll thank yourself later.

15. Stay away from certain geographical locations, some of which are listed here: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog (you're already in trouble if you recognize this one), anywhere in Texas where chainsaws are sold, the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine. Also, California and Ohio are good spots to avoid this and every other time of year. I mean, the answer's in the question.

16. If your car runs out of gas at night on a lonely road, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house to phone for help. If you think that it is strange you ran out of gas because you thought you had most of a tank, shoot yourself instead. You are going to die anyway and most likely be eaten.

17. Beware of strangers bearing strange tools. For example: chainsaws, nail guns, hedge trimmers, electric carving knives, combines, lawnmowers, butane torches, soldering irons, band saws or any devices made from deceased companions.

18. If you find that your house is built upon a cemetery, now is the time to move in with the in-laws. (It's a toss-up. We know.) This also applies to houses that had previous inhabitants who went mad, committed suicide, died in some horrible fashion, OR had inhabitants who performed satanic practices in your house.

19. (And perhaps the most important..) Always get out as soon as the scary music starts playing.

....Thanks Philip for passing this along....


What would my life be like if I did not read? I cannot even begin to imagine it. I have read for as long as I can remember. Can not think of a time in my life when I did not have several books going. Reading gives me pleasure, joy, solace, peace, thrills, adventure .... I could go on and on.

How could I not pass along the gift to my n's. I hope to nuture the next generation of readers in my family.

Everytime Luke and Jonah come to visit, we read. (Click on pics to enlarge)

October 20, 2006

Cat Presents

Rafiki loves to bring me presents. Usually it is still alive when he lays it at my feet.

This morning, my present was a little field mouse. Do I know the difference between a field and house mouse? I do not. But since it was brown, assumed that meant it was a field mouse.

The little guy was in a state of shock. Rafiki drops it near my yoga mat while I’m in the boat pose. Well, got out of the boat in a flash. Must have startled the mouse who made a quick get-a-away dash. Yelled at Rafiki to “get him” and he obediently brought the mouse back. Frantically looked for a rag/towel/shirt to pick it up in, and then let him go outside. The little mouse fled down the stairs into the early morning darkness.

So here is my dilemma. Can one really scold a cat for showing love in the way he is programmed to show it? And to add to the confusion, I did tell him to catch it when it was trying to escape. At least this gift was living. Other gifts have not been so lucky, and then the entire saga takes on a dark tinge. The most exciting gifts are the ones that get away and hide under furniture. Ever tried to catch a chipmunk? They are darn fast.

October 19, 2006

News from North Korea

Is anyone else a little squirmy about Diane Sawyer’s dispatches from North Korea?

I think she is a very accomplished journalist, and maybe that’s the problem. Granted this is Good Morning America (GMA) – I catch about 10 mins before I run out the door in the morning.

Stories like “We’ll see what they eat for breakfast” can hardly be considered news from a country that is planning a second nuclear test. I know that she’ll probably have her visa revoked if she said anything controversial, and maybe we’ll hear the real scoop once she’s back in the US. But, I for one am disappointed at my peek into what makes “those people” tick.

Do we really need another wealthy American asking the “natives” why they hate America?

I for one want some real news – like what exactly is the problem with Madonna adopting a child from Africa?

October 18, 2006


Over the Columbus Day Holidays, S and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary.

I couldn’t quite believe it and actually had to do the math several times! 15 years! How did that happen?

It’s been a ride with ups, downs, thrills and spills. It’s wonderful to know that we can make things work when we’re both really busy and stressed out, and when we are both taking extended periods of time off. We’ve learned how to be together and when to take needed time apart. We continue to change, challenge each other and most importantly find each other immensely amusing.

For the blessing that we still talk for hours daily, that we often have great ideas to solve the world’s problems, that we still surprise each other, that we are still best friends, warts and all – I am incredibly grateful.

October 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Health is so necessary to all the duties,
as well as pleasures of life,
that the crime of squandering it is equal to folly."

--Samuel Johnson


I have gripped for ages about the "old school" Boston T system. Granted it is an old system, but let's catch up with the rest of the century already.

Why can I not buy a card that allows me to swipe my way through? A card that allows me to carry a balance and skip all that wasted time trying to find tokens I bought on previous trips to “save me time” later.

Well, the MBTA gods have answered my prayers.

Enter the Charlie. Now those of you, like me, who were not aware of the cultural significance of “The Wizard of Oz”, might be wondering at the name.

Charlie? Who is Charlie? Turns out the name comes from an old song about a guy who did not have a nickel to get off the trains (payment was required at exit not entry), so rode about forever – while his wife handed him sandwiches for sustenance. Why not simply hand him a nickel? All I can say is that I do not claim to understand everything of cultural significance.

Those of you (and you know who you are) who relish Big Dig sagas, know that there is a catch. And it’s a big one. Only a handful of T stops can handle the Charlie. For most of the stops you still need tokens. So now, I’ve doubled what I have to look for on every trip – tokens and that card. (much shaking of head).

October 16, 2006


I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge baseball fan.
Sure, I'll watch a game if it's on in front of me, but go out of my way to catch a game? Hardly.

I have watched quite a few games in the past week or so however. How could I not when Susan has dug up the old Tigers pendant and baseball hat? The win on Saturday was super sweet for all those Detroit fans - who have been waiting since I was 2 (and knew nothing about baseball) for a moment like this. A good game that was decided in the bottom of the ninth (yup- I do have all the lingo down).

If only to make my partner happy - I say:

Go Tigers!

October 13, 2006


I spent the first week at work trying a different route to and from work each day. Found that time on the highways made me tense and I’d arrive at work with my shoulders tight. Decided to try back roads, and have found the perfect one. It takes me past farms, a river and ponds. It is windy and offers much to look at. The places where traffic back up are not too bad.

I listen to audio books on my drive. Discovered the joy of audio books several years ago, and find them perfect for books that I am not hot to actually read myself, but am interested in.

Not all books make good audio books. They must be written well. Be read by someone whose voice and reading style does not put your teeth on edge. Not require too much concentration – at least for me.

I’ve listened to both fiction and non-fiction audio books. Last week I laughed my way to and from work listening to a Jimmy Tingle CD. The guy is really funny. Am currently listening to “The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh. So far so good.

Daily Walks

When I started working in tech again, I decided that this time around, I was going to be diligent about having more balance in my life. Make the time to play, read, do things that fill my batteries. One of the commitments I made to myself was that I would take a daily walk. And I am quite proud of myself. I have only missed one day since I started work 4 weeks ago.

I usually go out first thing in the morning – cannot wake up enough to have a conversation with myself – as I talk myself out of it (too cold, too tired, etc). I’m on my walk around 5:30am, and it has quickly become one of the favorite parts of my day. Something I do just for me.

I get to greet the morning and slowly wake up outside as my heart gets pumping. I get a chance to noodle over things that happened the day before, or plan things that need to happen that day. I watch the leaves turn, the moon wax and wane, the stars twinkle, the clouds change shapes, the birds and little critters wake up.

As we head towards the Winter Solstice, the days shorten, and my entire walk is in the dark. Not really being able to see has its own rewards. I rely less on what I can see and am more tuned in to what I hear and smell.

This has become a daily ritual that sustains me.

October 6, 2006

Foot Binding

(Click on images to see larger)

This topic has been on my mind since reading the book "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. I'll write a review of the book later, wanted to comment on several things:

1. I do not think that I appreciate my feet enough. So have started to regularly slather them with lotion and give myself a good foot massage.

2. While reading the book, I was actually in tears at the time the main character has her foot bound - guess I never really thought about how it was done. And now that I know, I am not sure I am better for it.

3. A couple of women met at Laurels to discuss the book (not my regular book club) and one of the things I asked the group was "what is so appealing about helpless women in all cultures?" Okay so we don't have foot binding as the Chinese practiced it, but look at this:

Is that not a form of foot binding? Jimmy Cho is spitting on his white persian rug at the moment I'm sure. But honestly, what gives with wearing shoes that "look great, but I cannot walk in"?

One woman last night nailed it for me - "It makes my ass look higher".

October 3, 2006

"The Science of Sleep"

"Stephane Miroux (Gael García Bernal) is an eccentric young man whose dreams constantly invade his waking life. While slumbering, he is the charismatic host of Stephane TV, expounding on "The Science of Sleep" in front of cardboard cameras. In "real life," he has a boring job at a Parisian calendar publisher and pines for Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the girl in the apartment across the hall. Unable to find the secret to Stephanie's heart while awake, Stephane searches for the answer in his dreams. A playful romantic fantasy written and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alain Chabat, Miou-Miou, Pierre Vaneck, Emma de Caunes, Aurélia Petit, Sacha Bourdo, Stéphane Metzger, Decourt Moyen, Inigo Lezzi, Jean-Michel Bernard, Yvette Petit, Eric Mariotto, Bertrand Delpierre"

This was probably the longest 1hr and 45mins of my life - and I did not stay 'til the end of the movie! As much as I like Gael G Bernal, this movie was too surrealistic - even for me.
If you liked it, I'd love to hear why.

September 29, 2006

"The Year Of Magical Thinking"

by Joan Didion, was my book club selection for this month.
12 women gathered at the marina decks on a beautiful afternoon to discuss this incredible book.

I was hooked from the beginning. This is the story of woman whose life changes in the blink of an eye. And she wrote about it. Her husband of 40 years dies at the dinner table, and this while her daughter lies in a coma. It is the story of a woman who suddenly finds that the world has run out of air. She is blunt and honest, and takes us on a journey through the year after her husband's death. Death. Grief. Mourning. Things that in our culture we don't look at squarely in the face.

The women who attended the book club had such a diverse range of feelings about the book. Some felt that she was whining and incredibly selfish. Others: how brave she was. Either way, a book that gave one pause and food for thought.

September 13, 2006

Mariner Luke

Susan, Luke and I spend 9-11 down at the boat. Beautiful fall day.
(Click on pics to enlarge).

It was Luke's first time down on Hajime since he was a baby. He was so proud when he finally was able to buckle himself into his life jacket without help.

I had mailed him a postcard of USS Constitution, and he brought it along to help us "find" it. :-) Because it was 9-11 Old Ironsides was closed, so we'll have to go aboard a different day.

What is it with boys and guns? He kept trying to "shoot something".

9-11 on Boston Harbor

We were able to board the USS Cassin Young. Hours of fun to be had.

Luke with his Aunty Susan

September 12, 2006

End of Cinemascope

I recently decided to end a group that I started and have run for years. Part of the email that went out to the group's members:

I want to let you that I will cease all Cinemascope operations in September.

Way back in 1994, I started this group to develop a network of women who like to go out and play, and at that time, there were few existing groups of that kind in Boston. Through Cinemascope, I have met many wonderful women, developed some very good friendships, and had countless fabulous times.

However, the time has come for me to move on to other areas of interest, and so I will no longer administrate the Cinemascope group and it's email list.

It's been a fun ride. Remember to Get Out and Play!

September 11, 2006

Quote of the day

"I have found that you do have only to take that one step towards the gods and they will then take ten steps toward you. That first step, the heroic first step of that journey, is out of, or over the edge of your boundaries, and it often must be taken before you know that you will be supported. The hero's journey has been compared to a birth: it starts with being warm and snug in a safe place; then comes a signal, growing more insistent, that it is time to leave. To stay beyond your time is to putrefy. Without the blood and tearing and pain, there is no new life."

- Diane K. Osbon
"Reflections on the Art of Living - A Joseph Campbell Companion"

August 30, 2006

My "Visual" Bookshelf

I've been fascianted by visual journals and art books and have been reading some really wonderful books:

1. "A Year In Japan" by Kate T. Williamson
- A watercolor journal of a young woman's trip to Japan
- Small and delightful
- Captures a place and time
- Inspires me to be more visual in my own journals

2. "Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook" by Richard Schilling
- Pages from the journals of a dentist who travels around the world on aid missions
- Has "how-to" exercises: Tried one and loved what I created
- Easy to see what captures his attention
- Inspired me to create a sketchbook of my own

3. "Drawing From Life: The Journal As Art" by Jennifer New
- Observation; Reflection; Exploration; Creation
- This wonderful book opens up the discussion of why we keep journals
- The book showcases samples of people's journals - from artisits to engineers; it's fascinating to see how others see and make a record of their lives

August 28, 2006

Ode to Pollock

It's never to late to have a happy childhood!
Created these with Crayola crayons.

Click on the images to get a larger view.

August 17, 2006

Post Secret

Just finished this great book: "Post Secret" by Frank Warren.
He left postcards in library books, at art galleries, etc with the following instructions:

"You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humilation. Revel anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative."

Great idea. Amazing results.
Also check out

August 16, 2006

Inside 911

Incredibly well done documentary about 911 and the events leading up to it.
Answers so many questions, and connects dots that the mainstream media does not even begin to address.

August 10, 2006

Nephew Days

When the Jeep was dead and we had to buy a new car, one of my requirements is that I could carry the boys around.
Misson accomplished.

Chasing Monarch Butterflies on the "wildflower lawn" in front of the house.

August 2, 2006

Constitution Marina

Early morning pics of the marina.