Tag Archives: Travel

sunday salon: october


“…and who, after all these centuries, can describe the fineness of an autumn day? One might pretend never to have seen one before, or, to more purpose, that there would never be another like it. The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year’s lights.”

~ “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow” by John Cheever

October — now, already. With the turn of the calendar page, we’ve been thrown a bit too quickly into fall, it seems. I broke out the turtlenecks this week and on Friday, a coat was definitely needed in the morning as I set out for work. Yet, yesterday’s rains (remnants of Joaquin, maybe) have yielded to a crisp day that hints at the slightly warmer temperatures to come this week.

California Dreamin’ 
I was resenting last week’s seasonal change a bit more than usual because three months ago, we had booked a trip to San Diego — just me and The Husband. We had talked about the possibility of this trip for awhile. Had this actually occurred, we would have been in California last week – missing the dreary rain and autumn chill that besot Pittsburgh. All the reminders of that trip over the last few days shouldn’t have bummed me out as much as it did — not to mention, made me as cranky — but, dammit, I really wanted to be there and we should have been there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everything happens for a reason and all that bullshit, I know, and as these things go, such a trip would have been difficult (if not impossible) with all that’s happening on the homefront … but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed.

There are several fun things to look forward to during this month, however, so I’m trying to concentrate on those instead of wallowing in my woulda-coulda-shoulda pity party.  On Thursday evening, Rainbow Rowell will be at the library for a kids and teens event and my girl is beyond excited about this (she loves Rainbow Rowell). I actually haven’t read any of her books, but I know a lot of bloggers rave about her novels.

Then, on October 21, guess who’s coming to the library? Margaret Atwood! I cannot wait for this. Tickets sold out in less than seven hours. I only wish I could find my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale (which I think is one of the best books in the history of the written word). I might have to buy another one for Margaret Atwood to sign. We’re limited to two books per person for the book signing portion, which I understand, but still.  I think we get a signed copy of The Heart Goes Last with our ticket price.

The MiniaturistYesterday I finished The Miniaturist, which I think has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen.  This debut novel by Jessie Burton is set in Amsterdam, in 1686. Petronella (who goes by Nella) is 18 when she marries a wealthy merchant named Johannes Brandt. After moving into his mansion, Nella quickly learns that this is a household full of secrets. Even more puzzling are the miniatures that are sent to Nella to furnish a dollhouse — an exact replica of their home — that Johannes has given her as a wedding gift. The items are very specific and tend to be messages about future events.

I read this as a selection for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X (RIP X).  I’ll have more to say on this one in a future post, but suffice it to say that I really liked it. There have been comparisons to Sarah Waters, and I can definitely see that.

Tonight I’m hoping to start Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I am a huge fan of hers; I’ve read all of her books and love every single one of them — which is not something I can say about many writers (usually there’s a dud or two in the mix). It’s #7 or something on the New York Times bestseller list and my copy is due back to the library on Wednesday with no renews, so I need to read this fast (won’t be a problem, methinks).

Because I’m listening to more podcasts these days, my audiobook consumption has kind of suffered. My solution? Listening to short story collections. That way, if there are several podcasts that have caught my interest and I go a day between listening to a book, I’m not hopelessly lost.

The John Cheever Audio CollectionI spotted The John Cheever Audio Collection at the library and decided to try his stories.  This is where I confess that I’ve never read any John Cheever, which is something I think I should have done by now. Someone who loves short stories as much as I do really should have some familiarity with Cheever.

The narration is key to this collection of 12 stories. Meryl Streep is brilliant on “The Enormous Radio” (how could she not be?) but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the best stories in the bunch. “The Five Thirty Eight” is another great offering. These stories evoke another time — a simpler world — which is why I’m enjoying them. I’ll probably wind up reading some others in print — although I’m not sure if Cheever will wind up on my favorite authors list.  I’m only halfway through this audiobook, so we shall see.

Hope all is well in your world (reading and otherwise) as we begin this new month.

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The Sunday Salon: My Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer Vacation Reading

The Sunday Salon

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.
Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies
Then lock the house up, now you’re set
And on the beach you’ll see the girls in their bikinis
As cute as ever but they never get em wet….”

Apparently, the beach bums of Nat King Cole’s hit song were too preoccupied by … well, other pursuits, to include a book in their basket with those sandwiches, pretzels and beer. And while I’ve been known to indulge in a hoagie and a soft pretzel while downashore (are my Philly girl roots showing yet?), the number one requirement that I have is a book.

I mean, it’s not even a question.

So, the question becomes “which book“? And, in what format (hardback, paperback, from the library, Kindle?)

There are no easy answers. But by following some simple, self-imposed rules, I’ve always had a plethora of beach reads. Hence, the method to my lazy, hazy, crazy summer reading madness.

1. Bring more books with you than you can possibly read.  This is a given. At the bare minimum, one book for each day of the vacation.

2. No books on parenting or special needs are permitted. I read a lot of autism parenting memoirs the other 51 weeks of the year., Not this one.  

White Chair

White Chair on Strathmere Porch, June 2013
photo credit: Melissa Firman

3. Library books are verboten to be read on the beach. They can, however, be read on the porch of the beach house. The reason for this rule dates back to 1985, when, as a teenager, I worked in a library shelving books. Nothing was more off-putting and sensory-repulsive to me than handling library books with grains of sand imbedded in the covers. (I still cringe just thinking about it.) Or maybe it was a reminder that the affluent patrons of the library were taking the books to far-flung beaches in the dead of winter that made me so sensory-adverse.

4. Kindles are for the car. A recent development (and a welcome one) is the fact that I can read in the car – on my Kindle only. (Reading a print book still gets me carsick but the Kindle doesn’t.) But, my Kindle does not go to the actual beach.

So, for those keeping track at home, that means I needed

  • 6+ books for this vacation
  • a non-library book to read on the beach itself
  • a book to read back at the house, say, on the porch in the evenings (this book is permitted to be a library book) and
  • a Kindle book for the car (it’s an 8-hour trip from Pittsburgh to the beach) 

Got all that?

I’m aware that this makes me come across as a little unhinged. But, hey, you don’t mess with a proven system. And this one, crazy as it sounds, works.

Here’s what was in my beach basket (i.e., my beach book) this year.

Red House

Beach Bag Book, Strathmere, NJ
photo credit: Melissa Firman, June 2013

Red House fit almost all my criteria. (Also unsaid is that I like my vacation reads to be somewhat relevant to the place or experience or life situation I’m in. I like to conjure up the “perfect book at the perfect time” scenario for my vacations. I also like to bring my own books along.)

Okay, I’m aware to the uninitiated that this post is sounding a bit bizarre.

Ahem.  Red House, then.

It’s the “mostly accurate account of New England’s oldest continuously lived in house,” and I selected it because of the history of our own beach house.

I only got up to page 44 or so of this one (because it was exclusively a beach read and I am still reading it now that we’re at home) but I liked what I read.

“There were houses, she knew, that you bought simply to inhabit – apartments or houses like these she had grown up in – nothing special. And then there were houses that could change your life: the rooms, the walls, the roof, the land, and view from its windows could reshape you, mold you.” (pg. 17)

Yeah, I can kind of relate.

My Beach Books

Stack of beach books
Photo credit: Melissa Firman, June 2013

Of course, as we’ve established, that’s just one book. These were the others that came along.

Not pictured is my Kindle, on which I read Blood Type by Melissa Luznicky Garrett while we were traveling. I spent most of my vacation with that, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, and West Wind by Mary Oliver. I didn’t get to any of the others.

Blood TypeYou couldn’t ask for more of a variety. Blood Type has drawn comparisons to Twilight, which, ironically, Betty was (and is) currently reading. Now, I’m not much of a vampire teen fiction fan. It’s just not my thing, and I probably wouldn’t have picked Blood Type up if Melissa wasn’t a friend. That said, I do like her work and this was no exception. I was in the mood for a light, YA-ish read en route to and from the shore, and this fit the bill nicely. It wasn’t overly gratuitous, gory, or scary and I would have no problem with my 11 year old reading this. I’ll have a longer review up at some point.

The Other TypistI spent the most vacation time with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, which was fantastic. I’m reviewing this for my gig with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, so I can’t say much more about this one other than I absolutely loved it and it will be among my favorite books of the year.

West WindThere’s a little library on our shore island, which is such a treasure (and a nice resource to have in case one – horrors! – runs out of books). My aunt was in need of some summer reading of her own so while we were there, I checked out West Wind, by Mary Oliver on her card. This short volume of poetry is the perfect summertime companion for reflecting by the sea or in the mountains or wherever your travels take you. I spent a few hours on the porch soaking this one up.

The Light in the Ruins

My current read is Chris Bohjalian’s upcoming novel The Light in the Ruins, due out July 9, and which I’m slated to review for the Post-Gazette. I just started this last night.

Now we’re back home and honestly, that vacation seems like it was already a lifetime ago. June is almost over.

You’ll wish that summer could always be here, indeed.


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It’s a Small World, After All

I’m trying to imagine the conversation, trying to put myself in another person’s glass slippers shoes, so to speak.

I’m thinking the scenario goes something like this:

Two moms, both living with their modern-day Prince Charmings in Manhattan.

Both with children attending the same private school.

Mom A mentions that they’re going to Disney World for spring break and Mom B’s response is the all-too-familiar eye-roll, accompanied by the even more familiar been-there done-that semi-annoyed sigh.

That’s because Mom A and Mom B know what we all know – that even though Disney is supposedly The Most Magical Place on Earth, it can also be akin to The Seventh Ring of Hell (at least in my view) with wait times for rides being as long as 90 minutes, according to a poll of my friends via Facebook.

A disclaimer: I don’t wait 90 minutes for anything. Not a table in an overpriced chain restaurant, and certainly not for a 3 minute amusement park ride, Disney or no Disney. Hence, I needed to do the Facebook poll of friends who have gone to the Magic Kingdom as a family because The Betty and Boo Family has not made a sojourn to Orlando, Land of Required Childhood Vacation Spots. Nor do we plan to in the foreseeable future. 

(I know. My kids are dreadfully deprived.)

But! There’s good news for those who ARE sprinkled with pixie dust. Apparently it’s now possible to arrange for a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! You now have a pumpkin in the form of a motorized scooter or wheelchair and your long-line ride problem is solved!

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Post, you can hire a disabled “black-market tour guide” (the NY Post’s words, not mine) to pose as a member of your family’s entourage and therefore easily bypass those pesky 90 minute wait times for the rides by taking advantage of Disney’s services for guests with disabilities. (Disney allows each guest who needs a wheelchair or motorized scooter to bring up to six guests with him or her to a more convenient ride entrance.)

This supposedly could have been arranged via a VIP Tour with Dream Tours Florida, a firm reportedly owned by Ryan Clement and his girlfriend Jacie Christiano, and will run you $130 per hour, or $1,030 for an eight hour day. (They are, according to their website, suddenly not offering such tours at this time “[d]ue to inaccurate press and slander.”) This practice was discovered by social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin while doing research for her new book, Primates of Park Avenue. She is also the author of (in keeping with the Disney theme) Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do. 

Okay. Deep breaths. As you might imagine, I have a few issues with all of this.

First, let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute. Like all good movies, sometimes what we think we’re seeing isn’t always the whole truth. One reads that all these rich bitches are hiring these tour guides, which then somehow translates into our minds as there must be this underground secret stash somewhere of developmentally disabled people that Dream Tours is exploiting by renting out by the hour.

Which is entirely believable because we have seen such examples of such depravity time and time again, haven’t we? It’s our biggest fear as parents, as people who love someone with a disability, and it’s not impossible for us to go there, to make that leap, because we’ve seen the worst in people. (Hell-lo, Cleveland!)

We know and we fear the happily-never after side of how our kids and the most vulnerable are treated by the Cruella de Villes lurking among us.

But could it also be possible that Mr. Clement and Ms. Christiano, for whatever reasons – call it desperation, call it greed, call it whatever – are in this just for themselves? That they see this as a way for Ms. Christiano (who reportedly has an auto-immune disease and uses a scooter) as a way to make a few extra bucks? Who the hell knows how their business was really doing in this shit-tastic economy? Maybe it’s really just Ms. Christiano who is really the only “black-market tour guide” who is earning $1,030 a day by using her disability to help families get onto the rides faster.

I’d like to believe that. I really would. I’d like to believe that their bungled media response to reporters’ questions is simply a result of scared naivete, of poor crisis communications management. (And if that’s the case, I hope they get in touch if they need a PR strategist. I happen to be available.)

That still doesn’t make it right.

Because there are still a lot more things incredibly wrong and rightfully outrageous about this.

In my view, this story shows that we truly do live in a small, small world when it comes to employment and people with disabilities.

It’s a small, small world where only 20.7% of the labor force is made up of people with disabilities. (Source: United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy)

It’s a small, small world when the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is at 12.9%, compared to 6.9% for people without. (Source: United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy)

And it will continue to be a small, small world with the current dismal economy and the state of human services for the number of people with disabilities who need gainful, meaningful employment as well as those who will need jobs in the future.

We’re living in a fairy tale, going ’round and ’round on the same ride.

The only way this story has a chance of a happy ending is if changes are made. Because people with special needs deserve the same employment opportunities as all of us. Because if indeed there was a practice of employing and hiring people with disabilities for the purpose of skirting the system, then the outrage most certainly belongs with those who perpetrated such morally despicable acts.

And it certainly belongs on a mindset that sees people with disabilities mere playthings for the rich, as objects and goods to be bought and sold on the “black market.”

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copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Wordless Wednesday: Happy Birthday, Michael

In the lobby of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, taken during our visit to Cleveland, Ohio this weekend.

For more Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Weekend Cooking: a birthday celebration of (and novel inspiration found at) eden-a vegan cafe

It is, mark my words, entirely possible to fall in love with a restaurant.  

I know this because I am completely smitten with this little cozy nook here, this paradise and home to all things vegan, this magical place where you can absolutely walk in as a stranger and walk out being Facebook friends with the college student ringing up your order.

This gem would be Scranton’s first and only vegan restaurant, the adorably appropriately named eden-a vegan cafe, the dream of founder/owner/general manager/once-upon-a-time deer hunter/Old Forge, Pa native Christian Pilosi.  (You can read more here and here about Christian and how eden came to be… which, coincidentally enough, was exactly three years ago this weekend!)

Everything on the menu at eden is 100% vegetarian and vegan, which means no animal products whatsoever are used in the preparation of the food.  All items are meatless, dairy-free, and egg-free.

I discovered eden by way of the all-knowing Google, as I was planning a business trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania (yep, home of “The Office”) and wondering if there might be a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the vicinity.  You see, my regular on-the-road fare consists of little more than fries and large coffees, and I wanted to treat myself to an honest-to-goodness sit down meal.

And Oh.


What a meal it was.

I stopped in for lunch, on my very last day in town.  (Next time I am in Scranton, every meal will be eaten at eden.) Immediately, I struck up a conversation with Amanda who was eternally pleasant and patient with me as I deliberated on the specials. This was no quick feat, for here was a treasure trove of all my old flames. BLTs. Hot Turkey and Cheese.  Burgers.  And? Philly Cheesesteak, people! (Do you know how long it has been since I’ve had a cheesesteak, be it authentic Philly or not?  Try 15 years, since becoming vegetarian.)

This Philly girl nearly wept in joy … and indecision.

I selected this work of art known as The Fun and Green Burger.

This vegan burger was topped with melted mozzarella vegan cheese, a creamy avocado spread (and/or Vegenaise – I’m not sure, and despite not being a condiments kind of girl, I loved this), grilled mushrooms, the most perfectly red ripe tomato I have ever seen (in October, no less!)  and onions.

I’ll tell you, I’ve had many a veggie and a vegan burger in my life, but this? Heaven. True love. The real deal. I’m not always that enamored with the veggie burgers in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket, truth be told, and I always intend to try and make my own.  If I do, and if they even come close to being like this burger, I will be a happy woman indeed.  This had the texture and the toppings of a hearty burger of years gone by.  (Again, it’s been 15 years since I had a burger.)

(Nobody thought it was unusual that I was photographing my food.  In fact, this is kind of an acceptable practice, as one of the photo captions in eden-a vegan cafe’s Facebook album mentions – tongue in cheek – that when dining at eden, you’re giving permission for other diners to photograph your food.)

As my side dish, another patron strongly recommended that I try the Homemade Smashed Potatoes. I could have eaten an entire bowl of these -and apparently, I’m not alone in that thinking because these Smashed Potatoes are so popular that eden has created an ENTIRE MENU CATEGORY called Smashed Potato Bowls. Picture a bowl of these smashed potatoes (chunks of red potatoes), with grilled chicken (vegan, of course), peas, and gravy.  Comfort food at its best, no?  (Indeed, that’s Christian Pilosi’s philosophy behind eden: he strives to give people delicious vegan comfort food. And he succeeds. Bigtime.)

Lunch doesn’t end with just lunch, however.  Here, you have a plethora of vegan desserts to choose from.  Again, my new friend Jasmine who I was chatting away with convinced me to try the Pumpkin Cheesecake, (as did Lindsay, the counter girl who I am now friends with on Facebook after just a brief but wide-ranging conversation about my 9 year old daughter’s interest in being a vegetarian veterinarian, to Lindsay’s studies at a nearby university, her major of philosophy, and Lindsay’s interest in getting into nonprofit work).

I was so full from the burger and the smashed potatoes – but I couldn’t resist the Pumpkin Cheesecake – so I bought a slice for my 6 hour drive back to Pittsburgh – a slice that came in handy as I sat in a construction-induced traffic jam for a half hour of that time, savoring forkfuls of cheesecake and a large coffee.

I’ve never been so blissfully happy in a traffic jam, I swear.

Even going to the restroom at eden is a fun experience.  Check out the decor once inside the bathroom door.

Obviouly, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to eat here. (Shhh … don’t tell my new eden-a vegan cafe friends, but I confess to a weakness for real, rotisserie chicken. I’ll tell you this, though:  they’ve made me rethink my flexitarianism and renew my commitment to being a vegetarian.  OK, a pescetarian, but even that is up for negotiation.)

I’m in love with this place, if you can’t tell.  (So much so that I’m making eden the inspiration for a restaurant setting that is part of my novel-in-progress.) The only downside for me is that this is a long-distance relationship.  Scranton is six hours from where I live, so the best thing I can do is view the active eden-a-vegan cafe Facebook page with much wistful longing (people, they trot out pictures of their food as part of their “Virtual Lunch” feature and show you some of their newest creations and culinary works-in-progress!).

See, here’s the real essence of eden-a vegan cafe: this place makes you HAPPY.  (And full.)  You just FEEL BETTER having eaten their food because you know it is healthy, you know it is good for you and the animals we share our world with, and you know that it was made with the passion of people who love what they do and want to share that with others.

And that is a good and delicious thing, indeed.

Wishing you a very happy 3rd Birthday, eden-a vegan cafe!  May there be many, many, many more!

eden-a vegan cafe is located at:

344 Adams Avenue in downtown Scranton, PA.  
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
Phone: 570.969.1606.
“I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement,
to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes left off eating each other
[when they came into contact with the more civilized].”
Henry David Thoreau

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend.

The first two photos in this post are borrowed from eden’s Facebook page. The rest of the photos and this post are copyright 2011 bv Melissa, author of The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
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The Sunday Salon: A Great Week for Books!

What a great week this has been for books, here in my little personal corner of the world. I refer not so much in terms of books completed (just one – the audiobook of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which I really enjoyed) but in terms of books acquired.

Aside from my occasional Kindle e-book purchase, typically $2.99 or less, book buying has become a bit of a luxury around here – and some days, even that $2.99 splurge feels like I’m buying a yacht. Still, that didn’t stop me from wandering into Paper Kite Press and Books of Kingston, PA this week while I was in the Scranton area for work. (C’mon … the store’s motto is “Unusual Books for Unusual People and Other Literary Oddments, Amusements, and Geegaws.”  YOU try resisting that.)

I spent I-don’t-even-know-how-long chatting with owner Dan Waber (that’s him there, partially hidden behind the counter, hard at work). We talked about books, Paper Kite’s publishing ventures, the store’s history and “pay what it is worth to you” philosophy, blogging, ‘zines, his writing, his wife’s writing (she would be one Jennifer Hill-Kaucher), the arts … and probably a bunch of other stuff.  I perused ‘zines and literary journals and chapbooks, relived yesterday once more with countless of my childhood favorites all together on one tall bookshelf, read some of the best poetry ever, photographed the ephemera of the shop, and (you know resistance is futile when one’s mental immune system is down) treated myself to several books.

Mother Love, by Elizabeth Cohen
Questioning Walls Open, by Jennifer Hill-Kaucher 
Book of Days, by Jennifer Hill-Kaucher
Echolalia, by Dan Waber 
September 11, 2011 – American Writers Respond, edited by William Heyen
Writers and Company: In Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel

My Own Two Feet: A Memoir, by Beverly Cleary  (I didn’t realize this was the second volume of Beverly Cleary’s memoirs, so now I’m going to have to be on the hunt for the first one.) 

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt
The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets, by Ted Kooser 
Writing From Life: A Guide for Writing True Stories, by Heather Robertson

I’ll have a much-longer and more detailed post up this week about the awesomeness that is Paper Kite Books and Press (and Dawn from She Is So Fond of Books has so kindly agreed to feature said post in Wednesday’s Spotlight on Bookstores), but suffice it to say that my visit to Paper Kite made my spirits soar … even before I spotted the Free Encouragement quote boxes sprinkled throughout.

As if that wasn’t enough to fill one’s soul, yesterday was our library’s semi-annual book sale.  Autism-speaking, it was a rough beginning to the day … so Betty and I went to the library so she could study for a math test and to escape what was three continuous hours of Boo’s monologue. (He was reciting entire back-to-back episodes of The Muppet Show verbatim, shows that first premiered in the 70s, nearly three decades before he was born. And while this sounds utterly charming, I assure you that three hours of this most definitely is NOT.

So we retail-therapied ourselves with these treasures from the library sale (Betty bought five books, not pictured).

Nonfiction Books
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, by Anne Lamott
The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner
Dance Me Outside, by W.P. Kinsella
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: November 10, 1975, by Frederick Stonehouse
Encounters with Chinese Writers, by Annie Dillard
A Mind at a Time” America’s Top Learning Expert Shows How Every Child Can Succeed, by Mel Levine
Driven to Distraction, by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey 
Traveling with Pomegrantes: A Mother-Daughter Story, by Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Kidd Taylor
On Writing, by Stephen King 

Fiction Books
The Doctor’s House, Ann Beattie
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino

The Passage, by Justin Cronin (This is one that I am very iffy about … but I caved because the price was certainly more than right and because Justin was, at one time, a writing teacher of mine.)

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick (I think I own this, but it is buried in storage, so I am not sure.)

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (I realized afterwards that I have this on my Kindle.) 
A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen
Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance, by Lloyd Jones
The Virgin and the Gipsy, by D.H. Lawrence 
Skeleton Hill, by Peter Lovesey
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers

Ransom, by Jay McInerney (I think this might be the only McInerney that I haven’t read. Love, love, love him!) 

Starting Out in the Evening, by Brian Morton
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
Accordian Crimes, by E. Annie Proulx
The Edge of Impropriety, by Pam Rosenthal
Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger 
Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland
Madame de Treymes and Three Novellas, by Edith Wharton
Summer, by Edith Wharton 

As for this upcoming week, I’m planning on listening to The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson and there will likely be time for a second audiobook, too.  I have several out from the library now (The Time Travellers Wife, Three Junes, The Maytrees, and Anne Frank Remembered). In print, I am thisclose to finally finishing up Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (this is going on two weeks now … ridiculous) and have two books due back to the library on Friday, without any more renewals.  (Those would be the short story collection, All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones and Ad Women: How They Impact What We Need, Want, and Buy by Juliann Sivulka.)  
Speaking of the library, we’re heading there now for our second visit of the weekend.  Betty wants a quieter environment for studying for her math test, but if I know my girl, she won’t be able to resist taking another look at the book sale …..  

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Catching the Smell and Sound of the Sea (or, Why We Love It Here)

Duck in the back bay, Strathmere, NJ ~ 6/10/2011

Why we love it here:

“Tucked between Ocean City and Sea Isle, Strathmere – less than two miles long and only a few blocks wide – has no boardwalk, no amusements, not even a gas station where people might be tempted to stop, just rows of old-style Jersey Shore homes catching the smell and sound of the sea.” (pg. 218)

“When I asked one woman what it takes to live in a place like Strathmere in the winter, she had questions of her own. ‘Are you odd? Are you different? This town’s been known for that for years. We don’t fit into a pattern, and we don’t particularly like people who do. Which is lovely.’

Such sentiments may seem queer and elitist. But if we are honest, there is some misanthrope in us all. Even within the treasured confines of love and family, we often wish to be alone.” (pg. 223)

from Off Season: Discovering America on Winter’s Shore, by Ken McAlpin

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