Sunday, April 23, 2017

Small Victories

I haven't done all that well year-to-date on my annual goals. Each day I seem to lament what I didn't get done/what I should have done.

So in this post, I want to talk about a few things I've done right this week.

I went to the gym four days this week--only the second time this year.

I went through all my blouses in both closets and culled the blouses that I want to keep and will give the others to Goodwill. I still need to re-organize the clothes in my drawers--I have too many t-shirts.

As part of my prep for my performance evaluation, I went through several folders of tutoring notes. I recycled most of the papers and saved what I needed. This is the first step of a major re-organization.

First steps can be hard. I'm glad I made first steps on three projects this past week.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Anniversary to Lola!

We celebrate one year with Lola today. We wanted to go for a hike at Lake Mohegan or Babcock Preserve, followed by a visit to Sedona Tap House. Unfortunately, it was raining when we walked outside. We decided to try the part of the Norwalk River Valley Trail that Lola and I visited Thursday from Sharp Hill Road to Twin Oak Lane. The rain stopped and we enjoyed a walk of about 40 minutes.

Lola is standing in form of a display of "hero rocks."

To the left of the rocks is a sitting area (although hard to make out in this photo.)

On the way home, I saw signs for the Wilton Library Book Sale. I ran in while Jeff and Lola explored Schenck's Island. I had recently discovered Schenck's but didn't know how nice it was. Lola and I will return: three of ten.

It started raining again, so we couldn't dine outside at Sedona Tap House. We picked up a steak sandwich and fries and had a late lunch at home.

Now I'm headed into the kitchen to make duck breast and salmon for a special dinner.

Reading the (Female) Detectives

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been reading mysteries. After I read Breakdown, I read Brush Back, which had been the latest VI Warshawski mystery. Last Sunday's New York Times reviewed a new book, Fallout. 

I went to the library: I'm fifth on the Fallout waiting list. The library expects to receive multiple copies, so the wait might not be too long.

I just finished Critical Mass. This book takes place between Breakdown and Brush Back, but I missed it. I also picked up Deep Pockets, a Carlotta Carlyle mystery. I'm also reading this book out of order. By googling, I discovered there's a later Carlotta book I haven't read (Lie Down with the Devil.)

Most mystery/detective books I've read feature female detectives. Nancy Drew is the first series I remember reading; I was in a book club and received monthly installments. I also read Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton and the Dana Girls.

The first VI Warshawki and Kinsey Millhone books were published in 1982. Carlotta Carlyle first appeared in 1987. I'm not sure how I found VI or Kinsey or which one I read first, but obviously, I've enjoyed both series.

They are similar in some ways: both are licensed private investigators, divorced, runners, involved with musicians at some point, often at odds with the police, committed to their clients, smart and determined. Both have older male neighbors as confidants and friends.

Kinsey is a loner, almost anti-social. She's an orphan without family at least for part of the series. In later books, Kinsey discovers relatives from both sides of her family. She seems to have only one friend--Henry, her landlord and neighbor. In the series Kinsey's had three short-term romantic relationships. Kinsey was once a police officer before she went private. She never seems to cook--eating cereal, sandwiches, Big Macs and strange meals at Rosie's Tavern. One last thing that makes a big difference in her stories--Kinsey is "trapped" in the eighties--the setting of her mysteries--in her thirties.

VI is more social and comes from a large family. Friends and relatives are the catalysts for many of her cases. I think she has had three long-term relationships--although I'm not sure about the length of one (Conrad)--and a few other relationships. VI loves food and is a good cook. She is also a singer. VI is a feminist and a progressive; most--if not all--of her cases involve white collar crime. One predictable thing in VI mysteries--the rich/corporate people are almost always the guilty criminals.

I haven't read a Carlotta Carlyle mystery for years. She's tall, red-headed, a cab driver, a former cop, a guitar player. Carlotta has a long term off and on relationship with her cab company boss (or owner?) Sam, who has a mob family background. Carlotta is a devoted Big Sister.  I don't remember many details. I'll have to write more after I read Deep Pockets.

I prefer to read about female detectives, though I've read about male detectives such as Spenser, Lord Peter Wimsey and Sam Spade. I identify more with the women, I guess. There's no residual narrative sexism. (Hmm, what exactly is residual narrative sexism anyway? I like the phrase: did I just invent it?)

I'm  not sure if I'll continue with my mystery reading binge. For now, on to Carlotta.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two of Ten

Lola and I returned to the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.We waited until late afternoon: it rained in the morning, and I was doing laundry in the afternoon.

This is the second new trail for us; my goal is to take Lola to ten new hiking spots this year. 

We started in the parking lot on Autumn Trail that we discovered last Saturday. My plan (same as Saturday's) was to walk for a half hour and then turn back. After 20 minutes, the trail ended. We continued around a curve but that also ended. We still had a nice walk. We saw a few joggers and a few people with other dogs.

Lola enjoyed herself, but seemed to want to walk longer. There will be other days.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back to the Gym

I returned to the gym after a week-and-a-half. It would have been easy to blow it off today--I didn't manage to get there until after 10. It helped that I dressed in my gym clothes first thing.

I had a decent workout: back, biceps, abs and 30 minutes on the cross-trainer. Often the first return visit after a break is a tough one, so I was  relatively pleased.

In my off-gym time the past week-and-a-half, I wasn't completely sedentary. That helped. I went on three hikes,(Lake Mohegan and two at Cranbury Park) a long walk (the Wilton branch of the Norwalk River Valley Trail) and two home exercise sessions. Plus a few shorter walks with Lola.

My plan is to hit the gym four times this week and take many long walks with Lola.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Brunch, A Hike, A Sunshower

Today was a unseasonably warm Easter with temperatures in the low 80's. We joined Jeff's family for brunch at The Ridgewood Country Club. We had custom Bloody Mary's made tableside, with choices of vodka, other ingredients, rim, and garnishes. Among many other offerings I had clams on the half shell, lobster roll, blueberry pancakes, bacon, a scone, ham, green beans, mac and cheese, salad and mini lemon pudding cakes for dessert. It was delicious.

We returned home, changed clothes and took Lola to Cranbury Park for a 1.25 hour hike. The carving on this tree caught my eye. Let's go Mets!

Here's a picture Jeff took of Lola today. 

We drove home from Cranbury Park in a sun shower. Unfortunately no rainbow appeared afterwards.


I forgot to post this photo from Lake Mohegan last Sunday, but it seems appropriate today; paper Easter eggs strung on the lower branches. Pretty good picture, considering it was so bright I couldn't see the image on my cell phone.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today's Walk

One of my goals this year was to explore ten new hiking spots.Today we explored one--the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. We walked from Route Seven, across from Orem's Diner, to Sharpe Hill Road.

I loved the part of the trail we walked. Although close to Route 7, we walked through woods and wetlands for about 35 minutes before turning back. We found another parking area so we can use that as a starting point next time.

This route will become part of Lola's regular hiking rotation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

First DPF of the Season

Tonight was the first warm, dry Friday since the beginning of daylight savings time--that means the first Dog Park Friday (DPF.) About 10 of us gathered today at Taylor Farm.

The Parks Department had taken the picnic table away, so many of us brought out our own lawn chairs. Other than not having the table, it was a wonderful evening. A few people commented on how Lola was more outgoing and more comfortable with others. 

We toasted to the first of many Fridays.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Color of Spring

Spring officially began about three weeks ago. But I feel that it's here for real now: that we've finally escaped winter's icy grip (purple prose alert.)

I was thinking about the color spring green (though what I remember from my box of Crayola crayons is different from the wiki spring green.)  I've been admiring sunny, yellow daffodils and forsythia in my travels the last few days, instead of green.

It is that yellow that symbolizes spring for me.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reading Round-Up

This year I've read the following books.

The Boleyn King--My comments are here.


V is for Vengence--a Kinsey Millhone mystery

Kinsey & Me--I only read about half of this book--the short stories about Kinsey. I read two of the other pieces about an alcoholic mother, but found them depressing so I gave up.

Hardball--a VI Warshawski mystery

Body Work---another VI Warshawski mystery

The Handmaid's Tale--this was a re-read; I think my third time reading this book.

Women of Wonder--The Classic Years. I bought this book in 1996; I know because I found the sales slip among the pages. (I also bought  Women of Wonder-The Contemporary Years.) I only remember one story from The Classic Years: "Of Mist, and Grass and Sand." I read that in a short story collection by Vonda N. McIntyre. The story was expanded into Dreamsnake, one of my favorite books.

W is for Wasted--a Kinsey Millhone mystery. This book got off to a slow start. Usually I enjoy reading about Kinsey's lifestyle, her neighbors and Rosie's Tavern. This time it seemed to go on a chapter too long. Once the mystery kicked in gear, I enjoyed it.

X--the latest for Kinsey. While not a true sequel to W is for Wasted, it features some of the same characters. I liked that Kinsey found the good side to a guy she had disparaged.

Currently I'm reading Breakdown featuring VI Warshawski.

I've read seven books so far this year. Maybe another half for Kinsey & Me. One re-read, and I'm not sure how to classify Women of Wonder--The Classic Years. Regardless, I'm in good shape to reach my goal of reading at least 12 books.

A Hike at Lake Mohegan

Today was the first of a string of nice days, and we headed to Lake Mohegan in Fairfield. I think today was Lola's third visit.

Lake Mohegan was a popular destination today. We saw many others with the same idea we had.

Our hike around the lake took an hour. The last leg included a portion on the sidewalk. Her first time at Lake Mohegan, Lola panicked when we got to the sidewalk. Today she was a bit nervous, but didn't panic.

I am so proud of her. Lola is really making progress.

Friday, April 7, 2017

To Bette Davis

April 5 was Bette Davis's birthday. I've written many posts about Bette because she is my favorite actress. 

She has a wealth of 123 credits on imdb. (In comparison, Katharine Hepburn has only 52.) A few of the awards she won are two Oscars, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.

Among her iconic performances are Mildred in Of Human Bondage, Leslie in The Letter (my favorite performance) Margo in All About Eve and Jane in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

She is always a pleasure to watch and makes any movie better. I recently recorded Bordertown and look forward to watching it again. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I strive for all my tomorrows

Tomorrow I'll be good

Tomorrow I'll mop the kitchen floor

Tomorrow I'll go to the gym

Tomorrow I'll call Aunt Gladys.

I think I'll write tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a good day to clean out the closet.


will be a damn busy day. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Jazz and Poetry

I knew April was National Poetry Month, but I didn't realize it is also National Jazz Appreciation Month. Then I read about "Old as New" a program at the Norwalk Library. Jim Clark, a jazz composer/saxophonist, released a new album and asked Laurel Peterson, Norwalk's Poet Laureate, to collaborate by writing poems in response to his music.

I loved the music.I enjoyed much of the poetry. Most of all I loved the idea of combining jazz and poetry.

It was a lovely way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon.

Since I was at the library, I took out four books to catch up on both the Kinsey Millhone and V.I. Warshawski mystery series.

I need to take a closer look at all the programs at the library.

Opening Day is Here! Mets Win!

The Mets beat the Braves today 6-0, a perfect start to the new season. Noah Syndegaard pitched well through six inning before leaving with a blister on his finger.The Braves threatened with runners on third in both the fourth and sixth innings, but Syndergaard prevailed. His counterpart Julio Teheran also pitched well through six.

Then there was the seventh inning when the Mets exploded for six runs. It started with Wilmer Flores scoring on a overturned out call. Lucas Duda capped off the scoring with a three-run double.

It was the second largest crowd in Citi Field history. The Mets have the best opening day record in the major leagues at 36-20.

A good start to what should be a winning season. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

More Lousy Smarch Weather

The rainy, raw and bleak weather belies the date: we're in lion weather.

It may be boring to blog about weather, but today will be my last day this year to post this.

I took Lola to Oystershell Park today at lunchtime. I chose Oystershell because its trails only have a short area with mud, it's the second closest park to home, if it starts pouring, we're not too far from the car, and it's on the way to Pagano's, and I wanted salmon for dinner.

It was raining lightly when we were there. Luckily it didn't get worse. We walked for about 25 minutes. I told Lola things would be better soon.

On Writing

I think of myself as a writer although I often question it.

Mainly because I don't write enough. I journal most days but more often than not my journal's just a glorified to-do list.

Sometimes I find myself narrating my actions a la James Leer (played by Tobey Maguire) in Wonder Boys. Unlike James, I narrate only to myself, not out loud.

One day last week I was thinking that I was in the shower for a long time. I felt a little guilty because we've been in drought. I remembered the planet Arrakis of the book Dune: no showers there. I then got an idea about a woman who had a weekly water allotment. Later that day I wrote a few sentences.

I kept thinking about the story, wrote a little more. Wednesday I wrote a little more: I now have 478 words. It's not much: a vignette rather than a short story. But I'm happy to be writing something more than a journal again. I have several of these vignettes, partial stories, whatever.

Revisiting these vignettes/stories may help me write more.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Caught in a Downpour

Often when people ask me how much of a pain it is to walk a dog every day, I tell them that there are only a handful of days each year when it's really bad.

Today was one of those days.

It's been rainy, raw and dreary for three consecutive days. Lola is still too scared to walk on sidewalks. I take her out to the lawn for pee breaks, but need to take her to a park for a real walk. Today I planned our walk after my visit to the gym and before meeting my mother for lunch, based on weather forecasts that predicted stronger rains in the afternoon.

As we arrived at Cranbury Park, it was drizzling. I could deal with that. As we progressed along the blue trail, it rained harder; I pulled up my hood on my raincoat. We walked faster, winding our way along. It seemed to take much longer than usual to get to the the connecting trail that leads back to the parking lot.

The rain let up a bit, as we entered the dog field. I considered taking the longer route back. Luckily I didn't, because it started pouring as we hit the final leg of the trail. Back in the car, I cleaned the mud from Lola's legs and tummy with doggie wipes. I dried her as best I could with the towel from my trunk as the windshield de-fogged,

We arrived at my mother's wet and bedraggled. The rain had soaked through my coat, so it was a damp and uncomfortable lunch for me.

Nice to come home for dry clothes, hot chocolate and Lola snuggling.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Remembering Spike

15 years ago today, Spike came to live with us. 

Jeff and I still miss him; he was a big part of our lives for 13 years.

We explored new places such as parks and beaches because of Spike. We found interesting buildings and met neighbors on daily walks. We made many friends with other dog-lovers.

Spike was a great companion on road trips. He traveled up and down the East Coast, from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Stuart, Florida. Spike visited Shea Stadium, Citi Field, a museum, an art gallery, wineries, many stores and countless restaurants. He was a regular at Interlaken Inn, better known than we were.
These photos represent just a few of our happy memories.

Spike on the beach in Hobe Sound, Florida.n

In the car in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Circling the warning track at Shea Stadium.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

11 Months with Lola

We welcomed Lola to her new home on April 22. We've had good and bad days: lots of  progress and some regression.

It seems that Lola knows for sure that she belongs here with us, that this is her forever home and we love her.

Lola is a joy. Happy anniversary.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hello Spring!

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Here in southwestern Connecticut, it started out cold, but later warmed to spring-like weather. The biggest downside to feeling spring-like is the mounds of snow everywhere. Yesterday at Taylor Farm Lola and I had to negotiate icy puddles, snow, slush and mud. Not much fun.

Today was warmer. I selected Cove Island--thinking it would be less muddy and slushy because of  its paved trails. I made a good choice. There was much less snow at Cove Island than at Taylor Farm. Plus we could actually walk on the beach. All of these elements combined to make it feel spring-like.

Today is Naw-Ruz, Bahai and Persian New Year. I learned more about this holiday in the Sunday New York Times. It's a day of optimism, hyacinths and family. The tradition is to visit relatives in order from oldest to youngest. Each home visited had a haft sin--a display of seven symbolic items meant to bring health, wealth and love. Often the seven would include lentils and gold fish.

I'll have to think about what our seven items would be.


Schizophrenic (or Jekyll and Hyde) springs appear to be the new norm. Disclosure: I'm watching the Fredric March version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as I write this. Sad to say, but we've broken the weather.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

RIP Chuck Berry

Turned on my pc and saw the news. 

Other, more knowledgeable people have talked (and will continue to talk) about Chuck Berry's musical genius.

On a personal note: I've always loved to sing. I remember singing to family and friends as a little girl. The two songs I remember singing are Mack the Knife and Johnny B. Goode.

There are many great Chuck Berry songs. But to this day, I still feel a rush when I hear Johnny B. Goode.

Thank you Chuck for all the musical memories.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Half-Way Day!

I don't know anyone who celebrates today as a religious holiday. Let's face it--at least here in the US-most people just use today as an excuse to drink. We had a few Guinnesses with dinner and are now drinking Irish whiskey. 

Since my family is from northern Ireland, we usually choose Bushmills, as my father suggested. He got me into the habit of noting what Irish whiskies are available in bars. He would have loved bar-hopping in  Boston where many bars had both Bushmills and Jameson.

Today is also Jeff''s and my half-way day. Here's the story of now we discovered  the concept of half-way day.