Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- November 17th

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet.

During my visit to Denali Park last August I was surprised and amazed at the natural vegetation I saw even though it was the height of Fall.  Below are few examples.  

The first two are of a red leaf-berry (I forget the specific name) that are edible, but bitter. 

 According to my guide these purple flowers are the first flower  to bloom in the Spring.  Luckily, a few had    survived in Fall.
 I also learned that wild blueberries are indigenous to the area.   
         They are very tasty!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mailbox Monday November 12th

Welcome to Mailbox Monday which is hosted this month by Bermuda Onion.  Still continuing my trend of cutting back so last week was another light one.

1) Collateral by Ellen Hopkins. Publisher's Summary. Meet Ashley, a graduate student at San Diego University. She was raised in northern California reading poetry and singing back-up in her best friend’s band. The last thing she ever expected was to end up a military wife. But one night, she meets a handsome Marine named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man she’d always presumed to be true; he’s passionate and romantic, and he even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a deeply felt, sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole desperately wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a college professor, with similar professional pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.

2) Tilt by Ellen Hopkins. Publisher's Summary. Witnessing the fallout from the poor choices their parents make and the lies adults tell themselves, three teens are clinging to the last remnants of the secure and familiar world in which they’ve grown up. But the ground is shifting. What was once clear is now confused. Everything is tilting.

Mikayla is sure she’s found the love her parents seem to have lost, but is suddenly weighing nearly impossible choices in the wake of dashed expectations. Shane has come out, unwilling to lie anymore about who he is, but finds himself struggling to keep it all under control in the face of first love and a horrific loss. Harley, a good girl just seeking new experiences, never expects to hurtle towards self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Both thanks to Simon & Schuster!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet.

Here are a few more photos from my trip to Alaska this summer (I hope I'm not boring you too much, but it really was the trip of a lifetime for me). We were very fortunate on our first day in Denali Park to see an unobstructed Mount McKinley all day. Generally, the mountain is partially or fully obstructed most of the time. In fact, people have visited Denali for years and have missed seeing it. Here are a few photos from that magical day:

Here is a model that shows the side of the mountain that we were able to see.

It was a glorious, crisp day, perfect for viewing the mountain.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mailbox Monday -- November 5th!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday which is hosted today by Bermuda Onion. Last week was a light week for me with only one book, but it is all good because it is one that I really want to read (and I will have to wait until my usually non-reader stepdaughter reads it first -- now how cool is that!):

1) Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Publisher's Summary. Standing on the fringes of life . . . Offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Since its publication, stephen chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture. The perks of being a wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Personal purchase.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet

Here are more pictures from my rafting trip on the Nenana River. While I was rafting a rainbow broke out.

and then another. A double rainbow!

It was a magical experience!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father

Cary Grant loved being a dad and Jennifer Grant loved being his daughter.  In sharp contrast to the Mommy Dearest memoirs of Hollywood progeny, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, reads like a love letter. On the twenty fifth anniversary of her father's passing, Grant shares memories on life with her famous father.  

There are no shocking revelations revealed, but rather Grant shares the small moments that make up the "essence" of Cary Grant. Fortunately, Grant had plenty of material to draw from.  Cary Grant was a regular archivist when it came to documenting Jennifer Grant's life and their time together including cassette tapes of conversations; drawings and notes; photographs; home movies; tickets from sporting events they attended and even newspaper articles clipped to provide advice or pass on Cary Grant's philosophy on life.  According to Grant, when Cary Grant became a father he walked away from show business entirely.  They never watched his films, discussed the industry or hung out with the Hollywood in-crowd (Cary Grant did maintain a few Hollywood friendships such as with Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Gregory Peck and Quincy Jones, but these were based on longstanding personal ties).  Rather time was spent at home eating dinner around the table, playing cards or backgammon and other simple pleasures.  As Grant explains, "When I was at Dad's, he took full charge of my care. . . .  Dad awakened me each morning, drove me everywhere, ate meals with me, discussed life with me, and tucked me in each evening."  He even escorted her on trips to the local shopping mall!

When it comes to the rumors about her famous father, Grant firmly refutes them.  No Cary Grant wasn't gay, but apparently he enjoyed the misconception because "he said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong."  Also while Cary Grant appreciated the value of a dollar, he was no miser.  Cary Grant appreciated practical luxury and did not like to waste anything.  While I have no reason to doubt Grant's truthfulness her knowledge is limited to that of a daughter's and covers the last twenty years of Cary Grant's life.  And this is just fine with Grant:

In our heart of hearts, I believe we all know the skinny on people and situations.  We unconsciously block what's too much to process.  So somewhere inside . . . it's all there.  Other than that, I prefer knowing what I know . . . .   While there is a lot of stuff I certainly don't know, there's also a lot I do.     

Good Stuff is a touchingly sweet memoir about a devoted father who was also a Hollywood legend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happens Every Day

Isabel Gillies had it all: handsome, smart, college professor husband; two beautiful sons; and a big house in a small town.  The happy couple had known each other from childhood when their families summered together in Maine.  Both are products of old money WASP families that had lost the dough, but retained the pedigree. They matriculated from ivy league schools, had their wedding announced in the New York Times and decorated their Ohio home with celery fabric from New York.  Then one day, Sylvia, a new English professor arrives at Oberlin, where Gillies and her husband were employed , and within a month Gillies's marriage is over.

Happens Every Day tells the tale of the "perfect" couple's uncoupling. Gillies is searingly honest and, at times, quite funny, as she explains,:  "I am not a writer, but I have been told I write a good emails, which has led me . . . to tell my story."  And what a story it is, Gillies husband is a two-timing louse who quickly takes up with his colleague and Gillies's friend Sylvia.  Oh and by the way, Sylvia is married too.  Clearly, both Gillies' husband and her friend are lacking a tad in the morals and ethics department.

Still while I deeply sympathized with Gillies, I can't say that I liked her.  She is clearly enamored of her pedigree and lifestyle which became annoying.  For example, this is a typical passage:

I had completely accepted the fact that I was going to take on a new role of housewife.  A stay at home mom is a glamorous title that mothers in New York tend to use, but in the rest of the country where people rarely have nannies, Fresh Direct, or housekeepers, the more applicable term is housewife.  I got a thrill out of knowing that I was going to take on my children without help, cook every meal, and go it on my own in a new town where I knew nobody. 

Ok I am sure this was a big lifestyle adjustment for the former Law and Order actress, but being a stay at home mom or a housewife is still a privilege of sorts as many families require two incomes to survive.  Another thing that bothered me was that Gillies's husband's behavior was entirely predictable given that he had cheated on his pregnant first wife with another woman (not Gillies).  I don't want to blame the victim, but perhaps a good take away is that adulterers tend to repeat the pattern.  Lastly, I was annoyed that Gillies' post-divorce life is left for another memoir.

These deficiencies aside, Happens Every Day is an engrossing story that left me wanting more.