Thursday, March 31, 2011

Finished for Friday: Career Training

I've had a great time reading this week. Each of these books only took me a day.  First up is The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro.  This is a beautifully written heartbreaking story of the life of a British butler in a grand old house.  He is so devoted to his life of service and to upholding the highest standards that he is oblivious to the real, very messy lives around him.  He takes pride in his lack of emotions, even at the death of his father, and is mystified by the sense of humor of his employers.

A delicious glimpse into another time and a way of living totally foreign to me.  Most of all I recommend this book for its crystal clear writing.  An absolute joy to read.

This one counts against my "page to screen" reading challenge.  I've seen the movie several times and it is very faithful to the book.  Anthony Hopkins is perfect as the butler.

Since I'm the last person to read everything, I finally got around to reading Water for Elephants.  Another great read that didn't take long to get through.

Water for Elephants is the story of a young man (to be played by Robert Pattinson in the upcoming movie) who loses his parents during his last semester at veterinary school in 1932.  With nowhere to turn, he ends up hired on a traveling circus.

The people he meets there are struggling to survive and stay employed.  He encounters humor, beauty, and brutality and perseveres only because of his sense of obligation to the animals.

Vivid writing, and ample research and photographs (quite stunning in the Kindle version I read) made this a believable tale.  Looking forward to the movie, despite its sparkly star.

What have you been up to this week?  Link up and show us your stuff.  Please link back to me and leave a comment if you would like a return visit.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordful Wednesday: Thirteen

The day has finally come.  I have three teenagers in the house.  The twins turned 13 during our trip to Disneyland.  There were many forms of celebration to mark the occasion.  For Wasabi Girl, there have also been a few rites of passage that she's been looking forward to.

First cup of coffee.  A latte.  She is posing here for effect. I thought with her personality and morning style she'd become a regular drinker.  She hasn't yet, much to my relief.  I don't need anyone else in the house snitching my favorite K-cups!

First mani-pedi.  The manicurist even added little painted flowers.  I told her this wont be a regular routine, but it was really fun to watch her enjoy the treat with a friend of hers.  Since Wasabi Girl is a gymnast, she was able to pose for this shot without bending her knees. 

Wordful Wednesday is hosted by Angie at Seven Clown Circus.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Makes My Monday: The Classical Music Fan

I have the twins' ipods on my iTunes account. It was just easier when we set it up to have all of  the transactions go through a single account. Also, I have the largest collection of music, so it's easiest to just slide things onto their hardware.

About a year ago, my son asked me to download some trumpet pieces, since he plays the trumpet. He's always liked classical music (it gets played a lot in our house) so I gave him dozens of different types of pieces.

Yesterday, he asked for the William Tell Overture. I think his band teacher had played a recording of it. I connected his ipod to my computer and prepared to load it.

One of the features on the iTunes software is the ability to see how many times a song has been played. Out of curiosity, I sorted his music by number of plays and nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the most popular piece.

The Haydn trumpet concerto in E flat Major. 533 plays. Five hundred, thirty-three.

I guess he likes that piece.  I'm astounded.

Finding out what my son really loves makes my Monday.  To see more Monday makers, visit Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finished for Friday: Your Turn

I vowed I would have something crafty to share every week, or a book that I had read.

This week? I have nothing to share with you.

My trip to Disneyland with the twins took a good chunk out of the week, and then since I've been home I've been mourning the passing of a very dear friend of mine.  My heart is broken.

But I want to see what you have accomplished, and I promise to have something to share next week.  Of all people, I know how therapeutic stitching can be.

Thank you for sharing what you've been up to!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inside Walt Disney's Apartment

If you go to Disneyland and look up above the fire house on Main Street, you will see a curtained window with a lamp that is always lit.  This is the apartment where Walt Disney lived while Disneyland was being built and where he often stayed and entertained in later years.

It is not open to the public.  For many Disney fans, the chance to visit is a lifelong dream.  Thanks to a very dear friend in the Disney organization, my twins and I got to live that dream this weekend.  It was an incredible surprise.

Our tour guide was a "Keeper of the Keys," one of the few Disneyland tour guides who has access to Walt's apartment.  She was lovely and kept up a steady stream of descriptions and stories about Walt Disney.  She didn't wear a name tag, just a "D" brooch, and I'm kicking myself for not remembering her name.  I was in a state of shock at that moment.

We were not allowed to take photographs as we went backstage and entered the apartment.  The twins got to twist the old-fashioned doorbell in honor of their birthdays.  Then they opened the door and we went in.  We got the full tour before we were allowed to take pictures from a single vantage point.  You're going to have to rely on my description for the rest.

We were invited to sit on the antique furniture while she spoke.  It was only later that I learned that the couch I was sitting on folded out and became Walt Disney's bed.  Oh my.

The decor was beautiful and feminine turn-of-the-century style done by the same set designer who did "Mary Poppins."  Apparently Walt Disney's wife loved roses, so they were everywhere from the carpet to the carved chairs.  The setting fit in perfectly with the theming of Main Street.  We saw the delicate china and wine glasses and even the Tom and Jerry set that the Disneys used to entertain guests.  Tom and Jerrys were a popular drink back in the '60s and '70s I think.  Sort of a warm eggnog with rum or brandy.  I couldn't take a picture of their set but I found one that's similar to it:

We also got to see Walt's sandwich maker.  Apparently he loved a good grilled cheese sandwich.  He also was a big fan of fresh-squeezed orange juice.  It makes me wonder what artifacts of my life would be preserved if I became famous.  My favorite coffee maker maybe?

Then we were taken out to the patio area.  If you look above and to the left of the firehouse, you can see the latticework fence that gave them some privacy.  There is a shady cool area there with artificial turf and patio furniture and statuary.  Really a lovely sanctuary.  I would love to hang out there and watch the people going by on Main Street.  Apparently Walt particularly enjoyed watching the candlelight procession at Christmas from there.

The very small bathroom was notable for the four shower heads at different angles.  There was a bureau nearby that Walt kept stocked with toys for the grandchildren.  We heard about how the Disney kids would go just outside the apartment into the Jungle Cruise area and jump out from behind trees to surprise guests going by in boats.

Back in the sitting room, we were allowed to take pictures facing the window with the lamp that looks over Main Street.  My twins sat down and I quickly snapped this shot:

Yes, those are their disgusting sneakers on the Disney doilies.  I could have died.  But it all happened very quickly (see my friend's hand in the photo!) and then they got up and we reassembled the group various ways for a dozen more pictures. 

I would like to think that Walt Disney would have smiled to see these young people.  Here they are turning into teenagers but they are enjoying his park with family and friends.  Walt called the creative engineers who helped design Disney attractions "Imagineers."  As my son was leaving Disneyland, he turned to me and told me that he wants to be an Imagineer someday.  Maybe a little of that Disney magic rubbed off in that apartment. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finished for Friday: Outcasts

This book was recommended by the irrepressible Mark Lipinski on his Creative Mojo podcast.  If you haven't caught his podcast yet, I highly recommend it!  Definitely inspiring and fun for all types of creative people.

This memoir by Neil White tells of his incarceration at a minimum security prison in Louisiana.  He's honest, if perhaps a bit incomplete, about the financial wrongdoing that got him there.  He's also honest about his love of the finer things in life, his clothing and appearance, and even the cologne he always wore before his sentence.

In an ironic twist of fate, the prison he is sent to is also the last remaining leper colony in the continental United States. 

As much as he doesn't want to be near the patients or touch them, he comes to realize that they don't want him near them either.  Yet despite their mutual distrust and diverse backgrounds he finds common ground and unexpected friendships. 

This is not a movie of the week - his redemption is incomplete and somewhat imperfect, yet the journey he takes in discovering himself and his own faults makes for great reading. I was fascinated by the inside look at both prison life and the histories of the patients with Hanson's Disease.

Definitely a different kind of book than I usually read, but I'm going to be recommending this one to lots of people. 

What have you been up to this week?  Thanks for joining in!  By the time you read this I'm off to Disneyland to celebrate with my twins for their 13th birthday.  13!  How did that happen?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Makes My Monday: Packing Plans

Next Sunday my twins will turn 13.  What a long way from those baby days of three under two!  In honor of the occasion I'm taking them on a weekend trip to Disneyland, just the three of us.

It seems like forever since we've been to our happy place, so we're all getting pretty excited.   Even Dumbledore seems to want to go along - or maybe he just thinks luggage is cozy.

While we are celebrating our happy vacation to come, I have to be honest that my heart and thoughts are with the people of Japan. I hope that if you have friends or loved ones there that they are all safe.

Makes My Monday is hosted by Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finished for Friday: Toy Shop

I'm so happy that I completed another one of these Christmas houses.

This is a design with a lot of seed beads and "petite seed beads" - just in case the seed beads weren't small enough to drive me crazy!  I'm going to finish one or two more of these and hinge the frames together for a little town.  I'm already itching to start the next one.

What have you been up to this week?  Link up and let us see.  Please link back to me and feel free to grab my buttons from my sidebar.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Tale of Two Twins

Saturday was the California Music Educators Association Festival.  Music students appeared before judges to play solos and ensemble pieces and receive critiques and ratings of their performances.

Both twins have been practicing hard.  Wasabi Girl was up early for her morning session.  She dressed carefully, checked and double-checked her music, ate a good breakfast, and started pacing when it was time to go.  She had carefully planned her day and brought a change of clothes so she could volunteer for the afternoon shift.  She planned to have lunch with friends at a local sandwich shop in between.  She hauled both her alto saxophone and a borrowed tenor sax and her bag of clothes.

Jungle Boy was up early in his t-shirt and jeans for a morning volunteer shift.  We confirmed that we'd pick him up at noon so he could come home and change and get his trumpet.

Noon came, I went to the school - no Jungle Boy.  I frantically tore around, looking everywhere.  Nothing.  He didn't have his phone.  I figured someone must have given him a ride home so I returned.  Nope.  Missing.

He'd gone off with Wasabi Girl to grab lunch.  He was dropped off back at home with only a little time to spare.  I had his pants and shirt pressed and ready.  So of course he couldn't find any black socks.  I was starting to get a little frantic.  He suddenly remembered he had to have an extra copy of his music for the judge.  More time, copying and then messing around with the hole punch.  Almost time to play!

He grabbed his music and we were off in the car.  We got to the school, he got out and realized -- no TRUMPET!

It's the little things like actually having your instrument that make a performance really shine.

He jumped back in the car and we sped home, as fast as winding hilly roads and herds of deer (two! in the street!) would allow.  Grabbed the trumpet.  Back down the hill.  Only minutes to go.  He was holding up everyone in his quartet.

He made it in the nick of time, with almost no time to warm up.

You guessed it.  They both did an outstanding job.  Now I just have to call my hairdresser about all this gray hair that Jungle Boy gave me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Finished for Friday: Strawberry

Isn't this cute?  Just a little needlecase I made from a pattern I found on Happy Zombie.  Definitely a great blog to check out!

What have you finished this week?  Link up and let us see what you've been up to.  Grab my button from my sidebar if you'd like, and please link back to me.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And the Lunch Goes To...

Kid B - Jungle Boy.  He was the one I had delivered the lunch to.  Good guess on my part!

He insists that sometimes he does cut his sandwich in half, and he used the creamy peanut butter because it was sitting there after someone else had used it.

The whole incident brought up a longer-than-necessary discussion about how Kid A (Wasabi Girl) *never* forgets her lunch, Kid C (Drama Girl) likes to use tupperware containers now and on and on.  I know more about my family's lunch habits than I ever cared to.  As long as they make their own lunches and get out the door in the morning, I'm happy.

Smartest answer?  The commenter who suggested my husband.  I hadn't thought of that and it very well could have been his.

Funniest part of the day?  When I brought the lunch into the school office, I wrote Jungle Boy's name on it but I confessed to the school admin assistant that I wasn't sure which kid it belonged to.  She called both twins in.  That's what I call efficient.  She's obviously an experienced mom.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deductive Reasoning

A lunch has been left on the counter.  Feeling like a nice mom today, I decide to drive it over to the school and drop it off.  But who made this lunch?  Let's examine the lunch and the facts:

The Lunch:

  • packed in a brown paper bag
  • fruit cup and plastic spoon
  • creamy peanut butter sandwich with jelly, cut in half
  • chewy bar
  • forgot to pack the fresh homemade cookies!
The Facts:
  • Kids A & B prefer crunchy peanut butter
  • Kids A & B like fruit cups, C not so much
  • Kid B never cuts his sandwich in half
  • Kid C usually doesn't make a sandwich
  • Kid C doesn't like jelly on peanut butter
  • Kid A sometimes uses her own insulated lunch bag
  • Kids B and C always use brown paper bags for lunches
  • Kid C thinks of her sweet tooth before anything else
  • Kid B gets distracted while doing things
  • Kid C is always running late in the morning and tries to do 3 things at once
  • Kid A had her hands full in the morning with bookbag, alto saxophone *and* tenor saxophone
So who did I deliver the lunch to?  And who did it really belong to?  Answer to come tomorrow.

My Favorite Kid

Do you ever look around the house and see smiling faces and say to yourself  "I didn't give birth to all of these people?"

I do, and I love it.  The kids who come over, make themselves at home, know where things are.  The kids who bake brownies and clean the mixer and counters when they're done.  The kids who climb trees and wipe their feet when they come back inside.  Thanks for teaching them that, mom friends!

There's one who happens to come over at least twice a week.  She takes off her shoes,  gets her own after-school snack - usually a yogurt from the fridge - and pulls out her homework to finish when time permits.  The cats come out of hiding to greet her and play with her.  She laughs with us and takes our teasing and silly ways.

Everyone has figured out that I remember to bake cookies when I know she's coming over.  What can I say?  She's my favorite kid.  I like to spoil her.

I feel so lucky.  Do you have some extra smiling faces at your house?

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