Monday, January 24, 2011

My Town Monday: Children's Pool/Seals' Beach, La Jolla, CA

We had a GORGEOUS weekend in San Diego. It was in the 70s at the beach, and there was a high surf advisory. This meant warm weather and spectactular waves. We headed to La Jolla.

This is a view from street level of the Children's Pool AKA Seals' Beach.

The walkway was closed due to high waves, some as high as nine feet.

Those lumps lying on the beach? Seals!

I did a post in 2008 about the seals on this beach and how the City of San Diego was planning to dredge the beach to get rid of the seals. Obviously this didn't happen. Today, there were a couple of groups with tables at the top of the stairs. One group wants the City to continue to allow humans and seals to co-exist on this beach. The other group wants the area to be seal only. I pretty much ignored them all. I was just out for the sun and a stroll, not to get embroiled in the ongoing brouhaha.

Here's a close-up of a harbor seal.

A seal frolics in the waves.

No trip to the beach is complete without some impromtu building. This is the work of Child #4. She also buried my feet.

And, of course, a stop at the ice cream truck was in order.

All these photos were taken with the brand new camera I got for Christmas, a Casio EX-FH20. It's quite complicated (for me) and has an amazing 20x optical zoom. Hence the close-up above of the seal. I wasn't actually within touching distance of him. :)

Happy Birthday to my little sister!

For links to more My Town Monday posts, please pop over to to the official My Town Monday blog.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Town Monday: News From the Chameleon Cage

I'm publishing my My Town Monday post early this week because tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, which means the Summy children have the day off school. Who knows what we'll get up to! Chores, haircuts, dental visits. (Kidding!)

Anyway, I've had several emails asking about our veiled chameleons. I figured a My Town Monday post is as good as any to bring you all up to date. So, here goes...

When we got home from our crazy roadtrip to Oklahoma over Thanksgiving, I flipped up the incubator lid to check on the humidity. Whoa!!! There were three baby chameleons completely hatched and wandering around, prancing on the eggs of their brothers and sisters.

Over the next couple of weeks (the end of November through the beginning of December), all the eggs hatched, and we are now the proud owners of THIRTY-TWO beautiful-in-a-reptilian-way babies!! The above photo is one of two cages housing said cutie patooties.

On a sad note, all the babies from the September hatching died. I think there were about 42. It was horrible. It got to the point that I didn't want to check the cages in the morning. :( The bottom line was we couldn't get them to eat. We took a few to a vet who showed us how to handfeed with tweezers. Very time consuming! Unfortunately, though, so many of those babies were deformed that we were fighting a losing battle. Why were so many deformed? No one's really sure. Perhaps the mother laid clutches too close together. Perhaps her calcium deficiency played a part. Perhaps...

On a much happier note, these current babies are eating up a storm of crickets, clambering all over the cage and slurping water off leaves. They have already lived much longer than the last batch. I don't think any of the September babies lasted more than a week while the oldest of these Thanksgiving babies are eight weeks today. It's time to start looking for buyers, and we'll be approaching pet stores and people who sell at reptile shows.

So, we finally did it! We got our male and female adult veileds to mate. We dug up, then incubated the eggs. And now we've got two cagefuls of happy, bouncing baby veiled chameleons (more baby girls than boys). Whew. It's been quite a ride.

After a few weeks, we separated the dominant eaters from the smaller babies. In this photo, I'm holding a small and a larger baby. Quite a difference in size, eh? But both are oh so adorable!

This is the proud mother, Fat Lettie.

This is the proud father, Mr. Cone Head. In reality, neither parent has anything to do with their offspring. Fat Lettie passed us the parenting baton after laying the eggs. Mr. Cone Head was only involved in a very small part of the whole process! Ahem.

And that is where we are with veiled chameleons.

This week, I'm the hostess with the mostest for My Town Monday. So, if you've put up a MTM post, let me know in the comments section here or on the official My Town Monday blog. And I'll link to you on both blogs. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sherry spotted in Scholastic Catalog

Child #4 raced in from school. She couldn't get her Scholastic Book Catalog out of her backpack fast enough!

"You will be so surprised, Mom!" she said.

Awww....brings tears to my eyes.

And here's a look from afar. Just so you can see who else we're hanging out with on the page.

Thank you, Scholastic!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Denny's Chicks or My Writing Critique Group

This past weekend was the Denny's Chicks' Annual Potluck Holiday Party. What? you say. Isn't it January? Yes, yes, but we were all so busy during December that we put off our get-together until the new year.

The Denny's Chicks' Annual Potlock Holiday Party is the one time of year when we force our husbands to hang out with all of us at the same time. We drag them out for an evening of good food, good drink, good conversation (of course!) with four talented and cute authors (that's us!).

Interestingly enough, over the years, the husbands have gotten chattier and chattier. For the first time ever, the party went past midnight!

By the end of the evening, the Denny's Chicks chose the saying on Mr. Summy's t-shirt as our theme!

Here's a very blurry photo of the Denny's Chicks. Left to right, it's me, Kathy Krevat, Stacey Goldblatt, Kelly Hayes. Stacey, author of the YA novels STRAY and GIRL TO THE CORE (published by Delacorte Press/Random House), joined us in September. We love her to death! (Despite her scary, feral eyes! Kidding.)

If you've been following this blog, you may have a question about Denny's Chick Sandy Levin. Sandy is setting fiction writing aside to pursue other creative outlets, such as gorgeous work with glass. She was busy on the weekend, but was, of course, invited to the party. Because once a Denny's Chick, always a Dennys Chick! (Photo credit: Mr. Summy took this with my blackberry, following two cans of orange crush.)

Here's a photo of Stacey with normal eyes. This is the first time we met--at the San Diego Book Awards where her book, GIRL TO THE CORE, won an award!!!

Disclaimer: Our critique group actually meets at Panera's now, not Denny's.

Kathy, thank you for hosting the holiday party!

I'm wondering if we should start having a mid-year party...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Town Monday: Cibbets Flat Campground, San Diego County

On Sunday, Mr. Summy, Child #4 and I drove about forty miles east and to an elevation of around 4,000 feet. Why? Mr. Summy would like the family to go tent camping.

So, we went to check out Cibbets Flat Campground. The nearest town is Pine Valley (to give those of you who know the area an idea of where we were).

Here's the sign at the entrance. There was another sign, too, made of ropes. Cute.

It's a small campground with only 25 spots and a self-pay station. You're on your honor (although presumably there's some spot checking) to place your money in an envelope and leave it in this column thing. Apparently, the campground is rarely busy, so there's no need to make a reservation. Great place for a last-minute weekend getaway.

Here's a shot of Child #4 walking along a trail. Love the scenery! Very Californian.

Finally, here's Child #4, praticing eating at the picnic table on Site #10. She's very ready to go camping. Her mother? A little less so! Sorry to report that I'm kind of a whiny camper, but I'll give it my best shot when the weather warms up. It was only 45 degrees there in the afternoon.

For links to more My Town Monday posts, please pop over to to the official My Town Monday blog.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Book Review Club (January 2011)

Welcome to our first Book Review Club of 2011! Pull up a chair, settle in and get ready to add to your to-be-read pile. Also...drum roll...Sarah Laurence reviews our very own Keri Mikulski's young adult HEAD GAMES, which hits shelves tomorrow! I'll keep my review short so you can get to all the fabulous links below.

TOO MUCH HAPPINESS by Alice Munro is a book of ten amazing short stories. Alice Munro has won the Governor General's Award three times, the Man Booker Prize and many other awards. She tells a short story like no other.

Most of her short stories are about women. And most of them take place in southwestern Ontario. When you read a short story by Alice Munro, you are completely drawn in. It is truly as if you're there, with the characters, living the events. For example, in Dimensions, Doree's three children are murdered. When she gets on the bus to visit the killer, her ex-husband, I can't imagine why she'd go to visit him. And more than once. By the end of the bus ride, I'm convinced I'd do exactly the same thing.

According to the author, it takes her about 6-8 months to write a story. She writes every day for 2-3 hours. When asked how she's able to "create an entire life in a page," Alice Munro answered, "I always have to know my characters in a lot of depth—what clothes they’d choose, what they were like at school, etc . . . And I know what happened before and what will happen after the part of their lives I’m dealing with. I can’t see them just now, packed into the stress of the moment. So I suppose I want to give as much of them as I can." Here's a link to the interview.

Here is a YouTube video of an interview with Alice Munro. It's from a couple of years ago. She has a very good sense of humor.

And, now let the reviews begin!


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: MASTERPIECE by Elise Broach (middle grade fantasy)

Jody Feldman: DEALING WITH DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede (middle grade fantasy)

Scott Parker: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney (middle grade)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomery (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: HEAD GAMES by Keri Mikulski (young adult)

Thao of serene hours: GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD by Eileen Cook (young adult)


Patti Abbott: STONER by John Williams

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: ROOM by Emma Donoghue (literary)

Linda McLaughlin: WARRIOR by Zoe Archer (paranormal romance)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST by Steig Larsson (mystery)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery



Kaye of the Book Review Forum: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Jean Shepherd (autobiographical essays)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: GARDENING FOR A LIFETIME by Sydney Eddison

Stacy Nyikos: THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell (writing craft)


**Reviewers, you know the scoop. If I've made a mistake, leave me a comment, and I'll get right on it. Thank you for all your hard work!**

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Town Monday: We have it; you don't want it

Hurray for Monday! It means my charming, lovable, noisy, messy children go back to school after two weeks off. (I am so looking forward to some quiet writing time.) And Monday brings My Town Monday posts.

Question: What is something we have here in San Diego (other places have it too) that you don't want?


-It will be particularly lush this year because we've had so much rain.
-Captain Beechey, a 19th century explorer, took samples from California back to England for their gardens.
-Your pet can carry it on its fur.
-It can be very pretty in November.
-You're likely to run into when hiking.
-It contains an oily sap called urushiol, which causes an allergic reaction.
-The amount of urushiol on a pinhead can be enough to cause rashes in 500 people.
-Don't burn this plant. Both the ashes and the smoke can be bad for you. The smoke can get into the membrans of your respiratory system.
-This plant regenerates quickly after fire.

Answer: You're all so smart that you've probably guessed the answer. It's poison oak. And perhaps many of you have suffered from the itchy rash that turns into oozing bumps. Yuck.

Poison oak in San Diego in November. Pretty, eh? There can be three, or even five, leaflets. Remember this poetic warning: "Leaves of three, let it be."

Beware! Even when the weather is sunny and lovely, wear long pants and long-sleeved t-shirts when hiking. Especially this year.

For links to more My Town Monday posts, please pop over to to the official My Town Monday blog. Happy New Year!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year from the Summy Family!

Child #4 and Mr. Summy spent last week constructing a New Year's Eve ball. They started with a large balloon, which they paper mached. For the last layer, they pasted on strips of Christmas wrapping paper. Creative Child #4 spearheaded the entire project.

Here it is! Ta da!
Mr. Summy holds our homemade New Year's Eve ball. (Oh, but I am getting tired of my olive green living room walls.)

Unfortunately, with all the rain, this magnificent New Year's Eve ball (aka New Year's Eve pinata) was still damp yesterday. Too damp to stuff with chocolates and confetti for last night's party.

So, I guess we'll be ringing in the new year next weekend again when we take a bat to the New Year's Eve ball!

Happy New Year to you and yours from us. May 2011 bring you happiness and health.