Monday, June 30, 2008

My Town Monday: Taste of Uptown

In the spring (usually in April), you can buy a ticket (around $30) for a Taste of Uptown.

From noon till 4 PM, you'll happily wander around Hillcrest, San Diego and nosh on samples from 40 or 50 restaurants. From Greek to Japanese to Thai to American to Biff's chocolate chip cookies to a wine bar and more, it's a delicious experience. It really is. Unlike the Surf Diva camp I wrote about last Monday, I've actually participated in this event.

You can walk from eatery to eatery. Hillcrest has short blocks. This year, for the first time, there was a sidewalk sale during A Taste of Uptown.

Or you can take a shuttle.

Tickets pretty much always sell out. Here's where you get them.

Short post this Monday. If you could see my living room, you'd understand. We've spent the weekend painting. And, wow, what a mess. Plus, I can see a few spots I'm going to have to touch up tomorrow.

Thanks Travis Erwin for organizing My Town Monday. Check his bog to see links to the other My Town Monday participants.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books

The Chrysalids by John Wydham was originally published in 1955. In the US, it was released as Re-Birth.

The Chrysalids is a post nuclear war sci fi that takes place in Labrador or Newfoundland and, at the end, in New Zealand. It's the story of a backward fundamentalist society with very strict laws concerning the fate of those with mutations. Deviant animals are killed. Human abominations are sterilized and banished to the Fringes.

David Strorm, a ten-year-old boy who communicates telepathically, has a zealot father who follows to a "t" the laws of the rural society. David must keep secret, especially from his father, his mutation and the identities of his friends with telepathy. David's cousin, Rosalind, also shares this gift. And then there is David's little sister, Petra, who has stronger telepathic powers than any of the group. Along his travels, David meets another mutant, Sophie, a girl with six toes. I won't tell you what happens to Sophie, but it isn't pretty.

Some critics consider the ending too contrived (deux ex machina), but I have to admit that when I read The Chrysalids as a ninth grader, I loved the entire book. So much so that I actually re-read it a few times. Last year, I ordered it used from amazon (for one cent which seemed so insulting to a book I so enjoyed) for my eighth grader. I have to be honest; I was a little nervous when we started out reading it together. What if The Chrysalids didn't stand the test of time? Which meant I'd destroy a childhood memory.

BUT, I loved it all over again. And so did he.

Thank you to Patti Abbott who allowed me to join in on Friday's Forgotten Books. Please check Patti's blog for other participants. I'm looking forward to next Friday (July 4) when we'll be posting about forgotten young-adult books.

For other reviews of this book, you can visit Classic Sci Fi Reviews and The Chrysalids Book Review and Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Call for 4th of July Side Dishes

We have been invited to a Fourth of July party. By a family who lives on top of a very big hill. From which vantage point, you can see three different fireworks displays. Also, there's a pool and a hot tub. And a margarita maker the size of my vacuum cleaner. Several other nice families have been invited. So, no question about it, we're going.

We have to bring a side dish.

And I feel like trying something new.

It occurred to me that probably lots of us make side dishes. And lots of us will be going to Fourth of July parties. And we could all share our recipes. about next Wednesday, July 2, you post a side dish or salad or dessert recipe. Leave me a comment once your recipe post is up or email me ahead of time at and I'll put a link to it in my main post. Sound fun and yummy? We will so be the hits of our various parties!

And now about yesterday's lunch with my new friend. It was DELIGHTFUL. I had blackened salmon on a plate of greens and strawberries, drizzled with French dressing. We chatted and chatted for two hours. Which, you might have already guessed, isn't all that long for me. But we both had errands to run and kids to pick up. We had such a good time and found out that we have tons in common, including spouses. Yes, we each have one. And we just might invite them along next time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

friendship for moms

I don't know about the rest of you mothers, but I usually end up becoming friends with other mothers I meet through my kids. And because I have four kids who are involved in a variety of activities (swim, water polo, dance, Brownies, and more), I meet a lot of mothers. We're thrown together over and over. And through all this proximity and that fact that they're nice people and we have kid stuff in common, friendships are forged.

Making friends this way works out pretty well.

But, in a different life, a life where I was roaming free and meeting people through my own activities, the friendship thing would unfold in other ways.

Well, about a year ago, I met a woman. In the interests of honesty, I have to admit I met her through Child #2 and his sports. However, our paths didn't cross over and over. We saw each other from time to time when our teams played at the same pool, for example.

About six months ago, we were in the bleachers at an out-of-town pool and sat together. At some point, we realized that if we lived closer and were a little less busy, we'd be great friends. And, we decided, then and there, that we would meet up this summer.

Guess what?


Just the two of us. No kids. No spouses. No teams. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Message from the Class of 2k8

What's happening over at the Class of 2k8's blog (this involves book giveaways!!):

Ever wonder who does the reviews at ALAN Online , Teens Read Too, YA (& Kids) Books Central, The Edge of the Forest , Fuse # 8, Reviewer X, Off to Turn Another Page, Book Chic, Slayground, Reader Rabbit and many other places?

They're usually the ones who interview us, but for one week we turn the tables on several YA & MG book reviewers and ask them the hard questions! We even tackle bad reviews. You don't want to miss one answer!

Please check out the Class of 2k8's blog for the Book Reviewer Hot Seat!

And if that isn't enough, we're giving away Class of 2K8 books--Two-A-Day! So please visit our blog be sure to leave comments after each interview and you could win! (Deadline to enter is midnight June 29th, winners will be announced on Monday June 30th)

Here's the link to the class of 2k8's blog.

And feel free to pass the word. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Town Monday: Surf Diva Surf School

Surf Diva Surf School has been running surfing camps for women (12 years and older) out of La Jolla beach for over 10 years now.

It looks so fun!

There are all sorts of delightful options: 2-day weekend clinic (about $165/person), 5-day class surf clinic (about $391/person), week-long boarding school (about $1490/person). There are classes for every level of surfer. And, if San Diego isn't exotic enough for you, Surf Diva offers clinics in Costa Rica. There was so much clamouring that Surf Diva now offers clincs for boys and co-ed.

You may be wondering why I haven't done Surf Diva.

Can I swim? Yes.

Am I worried about wearing a swimsuit in public? No more than your average female. :)

Do I live too far from La Jolla? No. I'm about 18 miles from that particular beach.

Here's the deal, folks...My eyesight is SO bad that I can't even see my FEET clearly. Which means I can barely find the shore, never mind a surfboard that ditched me in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Although I just read on the Surf Diva website that you can wear swim goggles when surfing.

Hmmm.....I do have prescription swim goggles. I gather they're not overly fashionable; my children tell me I look like a human fly with them on. The upside, though, is that I can see my feet. And find my towel on the beach.

An aside: did you know that prescription swim goggles are relatively inexpensive? Mine were about $20. The trick is to buy goggles slightly weaker (like a 1/2 diopter weaker) than your glasses because of the magnifying property of water. If your right and left eyes have really different prescriptions, buy two pair of goggles and have the swim shop switch the lenses around (or you might even be able to do the switcheroo yourself).

Here's the link for the end of the Surf Diva Surf School.

Ack. I just noticed the time. It's late. And I have to get up very early to take my kids to swim practice.

Thanks Travis Erwin for organizing My Town Monday. He has a very fun post up on Travis ErwinCyd Charisse who comes from the same town as Travis. Also, Linda McLaughlin wrote an interesting post last week on the history of surfing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's launch week for 2k8er Daphne Grab, debut YA author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York. This is the story of a teen who has to deal with her ill father and a move. Click here to learn more about Daphne and her novel. It's getting rave reviews!

And, the Class of 2k8 is running another contest with books as prizes. Click here for details.

Child #4 had her first piano lesson today. She was amazing! When the piano teacher asked what her favourite type of music was, she replied, "Smooth jazz." And, as we we're walking down the sidewalk to the car, she clutches her new songbooks to her chest and says, "I'm a very happy girl." Awwww....

FORTY-THREE days until we go to Canada! Things I will eat there: Swiss Chalet chicken, wine gums, butter tarts, ketchup potato chips, dill pickle potato chips, Coffee Crisp chocolate bar, Macintosh toffee, butterscotch ice cream, Laura Secord chocolates, Red River cereal, smarties, E.D. Smith's Lemon Butter, Robertson's Scotch Marmalade, Habitant pea soup. There's more, but I'm getting embarrassed about the length of this list...

I'm actually more excited about seeing friends and family. Seriously, I am. For whatever reason, I just have food on the brain today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More on Malibu OR On Parenting a Teen

Child #2 and I spent the weekend in Malibu.

The two of us alone, miles away from the others, is not a common occurrence in our family. However, Child #2 wanted to attend a water polo camp at Pepperdine College, but didn't want to stay in the dorms. So, we cooked up a scheme where we rented a hotel room nearby and I wrote and wandered around town during the day while he water polo'ed in the Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool. Child #2 turns 15 later this summer. I suspect I won't get many more requests for weekends like this, so I jumped on the opportunity.

Child #2 is my most easy-going, mellow child. He arrived into this world two weeks late and has meandered through life happy and content, a glass-half-full kind of kid. He is brilliant in and out of school, has an excellent sense of humour, chooses friends wisely and has a thoughtful, pleasant personality.

We had a delightful weekend together, separating in the mornings for our individual activiies, then coming together in the early evenings for food, a chat, a rented movie.

But it wasn't perfect.

Now, there's an edge to some of his remarks, a stony stubborn look when I offer advice, a more careful, selective sharing of details about himself and his friends.

Child #2 is becoming a teen.

I'm not really ready, having already travelled down this path with Child #1.

But I'm very happy to have gotten the gift of this weekend in Malibu.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Town Monday: Malibu, CA

I spent the weekend in Malibu, CA.

And what did I do there?

I hunted for FAMOUS PEOPLE!

All for you, my dear bloggy friends. Well, maybe not all for you... And maybe I did a few other things besides star stalking...

But I did think it would be very fun if I snapped a few candid pics of the stars with my extremely lousy digital Richoh camera.

Before leaving San Diego, I googled for "famous people living in Malibu" and then kept the list and my camera in my pocket.

Specifically, my eyes were peeled for Neil Young (whom I have loved forever), Mel Gibson, Julie Andrews, Goldie Hawn, Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Aniston, Pierce Brosnan.

And here are some places I looked for the stars:

a fruit stand with California white peaches and Califorinia green Keitt mangoes

Mulholland Drive

the Santa Monica Mountains

the Malibu Inn

the Scientology center

at the gas pumps where I paid the absolute most I've ever paid for gas (in this country): $4.73

at a sideways Mexican restaurant with a scary sideways giant waiter statue on the roof

and, of course, at the beach


I think they must have all stayed home, hiding out in the MALIBU COLONY, a GATED community, with muli-million dollar homes and fantastic views of the ocean.

But, never fear, FAMOUS PEOPLE, I'll be back again. You are only a few hours' drive away, some of it in stressful LA traffic. Maybe next time, I'll have a better camera. And more comfortable stalking shoes. And a plan for infiltrating THE Colony!

So, that this post isn't only fluff, I leave you with a few Malibu facts: Malibu is an incorporated city in Western LA. It has 21 miles of coastline. The name "Malibu" comes from the Chumash Indian name meaning "the surf sounds loudly." (I really did means "a few" and they're from Wikepedia.)

Thank you, Travis Erwin, for spearheading My Town Mondays. You can check out Travis' post on Adobe Walls, an old trading post near Amarillo, TX. Also, he has links to the other participants (also known as "Mondayers").

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the Thirteen

Are you a paraskevidekatriaphobic?

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is an irrational fear of Friday the Thirteenth.

You will look very smart if you toss out this word around the water cooler today at work. However, if you stumble over this word's many many syllables, people will think you splashed vodka in your coffee. The latter could result in some unlucky circumstances.

Thirteen has been considered an unlucky number for forever. Some strange superstitions surrounding the number 13 include:

If 13 people sit around a dinner table together, all will die within a year.
Hmmm. This could come in handy the next time I'm throwing a dinner party. As in when I really don't want to invite a specific someone, I'll say, "I'd love to have you come to my fancy schmancy dinner party that everyone is SoCal is all hyped up about attending. But, unfortunately, I suffer from triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13). And you'd be my 13th guest. And we'd all die. So, as a favor to you and your loved ones, don't even think about showing up at my dinner party.

Don't give your baby a name with 13 letters or he/she'll have the devil's luck.
If only the parents of these people had known: Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo. I have just done a quick count. Phew. None of my children has a name of 13 letters.

Friday has been considered unlucky for forever. (Not in my life, though. I've pretty much always looked forward to Friday. Since, you know, it's the start of the weekend, a good evening to take advantage of happy hour or order pizza for dinner because you're sick to death of cooking which you've been doing all week long.)

Here are some superstitions about Friday:

If you change the sheets on your bed on Friday, you'll have nightmares.
This totally explains why my children won't change their bed on Fridays. And here I thought it had to do with chore avoidance.

If your ship sets sail on Friday, it'll have bad luck.
I'm driving to Malibu later today. Driving. Good. I'm safe from the bad luck thing.

Sorrow will enter your life if you clip your nails on Friday.
You have probably never heard of this superstition. Because information about it has been suppressed by manicurists. But now you know. So, if you insist on getting your nails done on a Friday, well, you're just asking for trouble.

To complicate matters, Greece, Romania and Spain believe Tuesday the 13th is unlucky. For Italians, it's Friday the 17th. This information could come in handy when looking for airline deals.

So, how about it? Anyone out there brave enough to share a superstition.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review by Mr. Peter Magee!

The Calling, a mystery by Inger Ash Wolfe, was released in hardback last month. This book got a lot of buzz due to the mystery surrounding the author's identity. It was common knowledge that Inger Ash Wolfe was a pseudonym for a North American literary writer. Possibilities that have been bandied about include Jane Urquart (A Map of Glass), Michael Redhill (Consolation), Linda Spalding (Who Named the Knife). A little bit of literary trivia which has nothing to do with The Calling: Linda Spalding is married to Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)

The Calling's protagonist is Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef, an almost senior citizen addict (alcohol and prescription drugs), who lives in Port Dundas, a small rural Ontario town. Against difficult odds (little support from her superiors, impending back surgery, an overbearing mother, a messy divorce), Micallef attempts to catch a serial killer who targets the elderly and the ill.

I actually haven't read this book yet. Although it is the type of oddball mystery that catches my eye.

However, my former English teacher, Mr. Peter Magee did read and review The Calling for us.

Ah, the good old days, although this time I was the bossy boss in charge of the assignment and got to give deadlines and make rules like, "Please stick to about 500 words." This role reversal thing was too fun!

Oh yeah, fair warning: there is a spoiler.

Take it away, Peter!

Inger Ash Wolfe, whoever you are, really are, I do not care.

The jacket of The Calling promises a “brilliant debut crime novel.” Sorry; this is not true.

If only there was one person with whom I could connect or even feel sorry for, it would not have taken me a month to read this book.

Detective Hazel Micallef has no redeeming qualities. She is an a overweight alcoholic controlled by her domineering ex-mayor of a mother. Micallef insists on bothering her ex-husband as he tries to start a new life with a new wife. In addition, Micallef irritates all her underlings. Why these characters rush to support her in her hour of need at the close of the story is something I’ll never in this world understand.

My other complaints include: The chapters are too long. There is no depth to the characters. And the plot twist where the serial killer begins his career as Simon, but ends up as Peter, Simon’s brother? Not interesting enough.

Halfway through the book, the writing heats up a little. There are several really well written scenes, especially with the young girl who eventually survives Simon/Peter.

I am sure that Margaret, David and Allen still love you, but I would shy away from having a book of this nature dedicated to me.

The most fun I had with The Calling was looking up the word “horripillating.”

I would advise the readers of this review to save their money and look the word up in OED*.

Sorry, Inger, but you will not learn your craft by testing me with another “Novel of Suspense.” Not in a genre that has been amply satisfied by such great mystery writers as James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Kathy Reichs.

*Oxford English Dictionary

Hmmm...I think he didn't like the book.

And, now, the all important question of how to sign off.

Peter, you could use our high school's motto: "Plough a straight furrow."

Hello, where exactly did THAT come from? I went to a suburban high school with, like, cars and streetlights and a PA system. There was no ploughing or farming or furrowing. Small wonder I'd totally forgotten our motto until Peter reminded me.

How about if you sign off with this:

Yes, indeedy, that it how you signed my yearbook all those many years ago. Little did you know, your message would day show up on a blog! It's blurry, but what a cool way to end the post. Thank you, Mr. Peter Magee, for the book review!

(For those of you having trouble with the yearbook autograph, it reads: Best Wishes and a nice life. Peter Magee)

Now...go ahead and look up "horripillating." You know you want to! (One "l" for American spelling)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Teri Brown's blog launch!

Fellow 2k8er, Teri Brown, debut Young Adult author of Read My Lips, is throwing an amazing online launch party. LOADS of book giveaways. INTERESTING essays by various Simon Pulse writers. Hop on over to congratulate Teri and you might even win a book. So sorry, but I can't seem to make this invite bigger. I am, apparently, html-challenged!

My Town Monday + Bye Book #2 + Birthday Wishes!

Guess what?

I SO DON'T DO SPOOKY has left my house!!

Yes, Book #2 has wended its merry way through cyberspace to Editor Wendy at Delacorte Press/Random House. A little advice to Book #2: put your best foot (page?) forward, make your mother proud, come home to visit.

Child #4 was beyond thrilled to see me push the "send" button because now her mother will definitely be bar-b-cueing at tomorrow's 2nd grade picnic. Such joy for both of us. I am thinking of grilling something a little experimental for the classmates. Never fear, I will do the regular hot dogs and whatever else I'm handed. But...I did see an interesting recipe for grilled bananas...

But that is tomorrow and today is today. And today is My Town Monday!

Now, doesn't this sound uber fun? We rent a kayak (that seats one or two or three people). These are kayaks designed for your everyday blogger. Which means we can all do this, not just those of us who are athletic. We kayak into sea caves nestled in 75 million year old sandstone cliffs. There are 7 sea caves facing north from La Jolla Shores. Six of them are only accessible by kayak. We will get wet. We might lose our glasses. We will wear ugly helmets. We will get some excellent pics if we bring a waterproof camera. We might see leopard sharks. We might see seals and sea lions and dolphins. And who knows what else.

Tours of the 7 caves last about two hours. And cost about $45 if you want a kayak to yourself, $75 if you share with a friend, $105 if you share with two friends. I will not share with Travis or Patti-o as I would be laughing far too hard to pull my weight paddling. At which point, Travis and Patti would no doubt toss me overboard.

Here's a photo of Sunny Jim's Cave, (named by Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz) which is accessible by land.

It's wise to reserve your spot. There are at least a couple of different companies who offer sea cave tours:

You can save money by just renting the kayak and not doing the tours. But, for me, I'd end up lost for seven years in one of the seven caves. So, at least for my first sea cave foray, I'm going with a guide.

My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his post about the Texas panhandle. AND to find links to the other participants.

Oh,oh, oh! I just got an email from a little bird who informed me that today is my former English teacher's 67th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MAGEE!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Missing in Action

Sorry to be so missing in action...


Yes, the revisions for book #2, I So Don't Do Spooky, are due. Editor Wendy wrote a lovely revision letter, full of really wonderful solid suggestions. I'm very lucky in that I have the best editor who writes the best letters. I'm sure there are other authors out there who feel their editors write the best revision letters. Sadly, they're mistaken.

A little housekeeping before I get back to the grind...

Last week, I got together by the Giant Dipper roller coaster (Yes, I did a My Town Monday post about it) here in San Diego with fellow 2k8er Nancy Viau, debut middle grade author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. We went for a l-o-n-g walk on the beach. I mention this last detail to explain my frizzy hair. Then we stopped for drinks at a somewhat seedy place in PB (Pacific Beach). We had planned to meet and chat for an hour or two, but ended up talking for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS. Nancy did most of the talking. Okay, so that's not even close to true. We both talked so much that we barely even breathed. It was loads of fun (and a little scary) discovering just how much we have in common.

It's debut author, Teri Brown's launch week on the Class of 2k8's blog. Her YA novel, Read My Lips, is on shelves now. I'm going to ask Teri if she'd like to be interviewed by Kelly Couric and do a book giveaway on this blog. And, really, now that I've published this post, how can she say no? :)

I owe ARCs to Larramie and Angela and a gag gift to Brian. I haven't forgotten. I just haven't gotten to the post office yet. And I haven't figured out anything heinous enough for Brian. But I will get it all taken care of; I promise.

My high school English teacher did a book review for us, and I'll get it up on the blog after my deadline.

Not sure what made me realize today that I never posted about meeting Agent Rachel Vater in Phoenix. I better get on that.

Okay. My break time is over. Very nice spending it with my bloggy friends. I probably won't be able to play until next week. So, now you know not to worry about me. I'm not sick. I'm not hurt. I'm not off galavanting.