Tag Archives: Winter

Sunday Salon/Currently … Stable Genius with a Big Button


“Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you didn’t
And all this science, I don’t understand
It’s just my job, five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man …” 
~ “Rocket Man” performed by Elton John, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

A mere seven days into a brand new year and — in what will undoubtedly be a common refrain for many of the 358 to come (should we be so lucky to see them) — this has been quite the week. We’ve had the Stable Genius boasting about the size and potency of his, um, nuclear button. There was a bombshell of a book release with a title that could be most Americans’ motto for this administration. (You know I got myself on the Fire and Fury holds list at the library — #180 out of #542, baby! I like my chances for the audio, for which I’m #37.)

Not to mention the weather has been downright frigid this week, with temperatures more suitable to Mars. All right, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration for the sake of pithy blog fodder, but I think we can come together and agree that it’s goddamned fucking cold. Last night we got down to -14 and that’s the actual temperature, not the RealFeel (of which it was -20 on Friday.)

But here’s a little something that made me feel all warm and toasty. I woke up to find this from The Girl (who had a snow day) as I sat down to have my coffee at 5:30 am.

She’s a keeper, that one. She’s 16, so this is a proud teenage parenting moment for the win. (And yes, for the love of God and keeping the peace, please let it be known that she did spell out AWESOME. My phone camera cut it off and I’m too lazy to retake the photo.)

I had all good intentions of reading Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan as my First Book of the Year, but decided I needed to get crackin’ on a review book, considering the review itself was due January 6. I’ll tell you more when it’s released in March. This week I’ll be reading another review book, so I don’t have much to talk about right now reading-wise.  Sorry.  I am reading a back issue of The New Yorker (10/23/2017) which includes this profile of our creepy-and-dangerous-as-fuck Vice President.

Blogging/Writing … 
Still hoping to finish my Best Books of 2017 post and a few other recaps of the year. Hopefully that will happen before, say, the Fourth of July.

I wrote a review for the aforementioned review book and submitted it within 29 minutes of the deadline. A great start to 2018. I’m working on another author piece, due tomorrow, so I need to spend some time with that today.

Oh, I almost forgot the biggest Blogging/Writing news. In what might be a regular occurrence or one time thing, The Husband made a return to blogging with this post (“Heaven and Hell Prepare For Massive Influx of Billions“)  It’s hilarious, but I may be biased. Anyway, consider giving it a look and showing him some blogger love.

Listening …

My current audiobook is It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell, a compelling memoir about Mitchell’s tumultuous childhood and how that affected her relationship to food. Mitchell writes candidly about her father’s alcoholism and destructive behavior, her mother working four jobs and preparing elaborate feasts for family gatherings (Mitchell’s descriptions of the food are mouth-watering), and how her traumatic formative years led to her weighing 300 pounds at age 20.

Many of the Goodreads reviews seem to be more complimentary to the first part of the book, but for now I’m finding this to be engaging yet heartbreaking. It seems odd to draw comparisons to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls but I think this would appeal to those who connected with that book.

Podcasts of the Week …
Being back to work after a long (12 days!) break means I’m back to podcast listening during my commute. (I alternate between audiobooks and podcasts, depending on my mood.)  For 2018, I want to get back to doing my Podcasts of the Week feature, either as part of these Salon posts or in a separate discussion, because I listen to so much great stuff that I want to a) remember and have a reference point of sorts and b) share it with you.

One that stood out this week was Ezra Klein’s discussion with Jon Favreau of Pod Save America. Both The Ezra Klein Show and Pod Save America are two of my favorites so this was a must-listen.  Others I enjoyed this week:

Getting Things Done: Tips for a Year-End Review (1/1/2018)
The Bob Cesca Show: Fire and Fury (1/4/2018)
The Readers: Farewell 2017 … Here’s to 2018 (12/30/2017)

Watching … 
To my delight, The Girl is on a quest to watch all the great ’80s movies. I am more than happy to oblige. This week her selection was “The Breakfast Club” and now she’s obsessed with all things Ally Sheedy, circa 1985.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, hope you’re keeping warm this Sunday.


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sunday salon: hibrrrrrrrrrrnating in pittsbrrrrrrrrrgh

The Sunday Salon

A disclaimer of sorts for you, dear blog reader:

I’m trying to emerge from somewhat of a funk this Sunday, caught up in a maelstrom of frustration and disappointment. In the scheme of things – and especially, compared to some of the life-changing, truly serious major issues some of you reading this are dealing with – my crap is petty, indeed.

I’ve reached that point of the winter where I am beyond annoyed at the weather. I mean, I just hate it.  If we’re being honest, I’ve been at that point since sometime before Christmas. (Again, here in Pittsburgh – which is more like Pittsbrrrrrrrrrrrgh, with wind chills as low as -26 degrees today – we certainly don’t have things as bad as other places but it is making me miserable.) I haven’t even bothered shoveling the driveway anymore with these pesky 1-2″ of snowfalls every day. What’s the point?

Fueling all this is the fact that I was scheduled to audition for Listen to Your Mother yesterday afternoon.  From my living room window, most of the day the weather looked like this:

Snow - 2-14-2015

Valentine’s Day 2015, Pittsbrrrrrrgh, PA. There’s no love for winter here.

I drove to work in a surprise snow squall last month and it is not an experience I care to repeat. So, I decided to …well, actually listen to my mother’s voice (and my own) in my head and be better safe than sorry and forego my audition slot. Of course, since this was just an audition, there was no guarantee that I would actually be cast in this show, but I’m annoyed at the weather (as irrational as that sounds) for fucking this up. I’m trying to look at this as this wasn’t meant to be this year, for whatever reason, and that there will be other opportunities for this essay to be improved upon and to find its right home.

As with most things, we move on.

Letters to a Young PoetFor a bit of literary salve in all this, last night I started Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. This is one of those books that is on my “I-really-should-read-this-someday” list that I somehow never get around to reading – except, in this case, I saw it at the library a few weeks ago and picked it up.

It’s helping to lift my mood. So is the sun streaming through the window this afternoon. Letters to a Young Poet is short enough to read in one sitting, although I’m going to need two. It turned out to be a good Valentine’s Day read, too. What’s surprising to me about this is that it delves into more than just writing. It’s very introspective, providing much to reflect on regarding solitude and love and more.

The Good Lord BirdThis week I finished listening to the audio of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. You can’t go wrong with either the print version or the audio book, but I can tell you that Michael Boatman’s narration is fantastic. He really brings to life these characters, especially abolitionist and religious zealot John Brown as well as 12-year-old Henry Shackleford, who pretends to be a girl named Henrietta during the three years that Brown and his men fight slavery, give speeches, and prepare to raid the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

I’m a little behind on the #WomensLives project, but hoping to get back on track this week, both in reading all the stories as well as writing some posts in response. In the meantime, these stories resonated with me this Valentine’s Day weekend and I wanted to share them here:

Before reading these, I was being a bit snarky on Facebook last night about Valentine’s Day – specifically, the half-assed dinner that I was preparing.

Valentines Day 2015

I mean, we didn’t do a damn thing for Valentine’s Day. We might have wished each other a Happy Valentine’s Day but other than that? No cards, no flowers, no gifts, nothing. In my cranky state, I may have even tried to pick a fight with The Husband – on Valentine’s Day, yo – about how he wasn’t being more sensitive to my disappointment over the audition.

But, there’s something to be said for being together, safe and warm in a comfortable house. I’m not going to jail for loving (still, after nearly 22 years) my funny Valentine who treats me pretty damn good.  All reasons to keep everything else in its proper perspective.

(However, I’m still hibernating with my books and laptop today. Not because I’m wallowing in my funk but because it still feels like -19 and there’s nothing to be grateful for about that.)


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Sunday Salon: Battling the Winter Blahs

The Sunday Salon

We have several full-blown cases of the winter blahs raging through this house today. The Boy came down with what seems to be a pretty bad head cold yesterday, making him absolutely miserable. The Husband, halfway through his low-iodine diet for his thyroid cancer treatment, can’t eat anything with taste so he is quite cranky. The Girl hasn’t emerged from her room today for more than ten minutes, so it’s hard to gauge her mood.

As for me, I blame my mood on the weather.  We’re expecting 3″-5″ of snow by this time tomorrow afternoon. We have a fine, steady snow falling as I write, and that 3″-5″ prediction is certainly better than our counterparts further east and in New England but it’s still a pain in the ass. I’m trying to focus on the fact that we’re all together, we’re safe, we have plenty to eat (even if one of us can’t eat much of it), we have heat and electricity … overall, we are fine and I’ve just got to get the hell over myself or start taking a multivitamin or something to snap me out of this winter funk. Maybe it is the remnants of getting over the flu and regaining my energy, I dunno.

Aimless LoveSo. January, for God sakes. Reading-wise, I can’t remember a more pathetic reading month in terms of quantity. I’ve had sluggish reading months before but I don’t remember one this bad. To date, I have read a total of one book. ONE! That would be Aimless Love, New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins, which I still have to review.

I’ve been unable to settle on an audiobook this month and have abandoned three of them: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and Goldengrove by Francine Prose.  I’m going to try Half of a Yellow Sun in print at some point. Thinking, Fast and Slow was too academic and too dense, and Goldengrove was too depressing even for my tastes. It was also sluggish and just left me feeling bored. Now I’m trying The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman; we’ll see how this goes.

West of SunsetI’m halfway through West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan and still enjoying this. I can’t believe this is the first O’Nan I’ve read. I’m hoping to spend some quality time with this today, imagining myself sipping drinks poolside with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart and Dorothy Parker.

Now that’s a nice warm thought on this wintery Pittsburgh Sunday.

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snow, spiderweb

Snow on Spiderweb

first snow of the season, as seen on a spiderweb this evening.

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seems like years

Daffodils - 3-8-2014

“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear…” 

“Here Comes the Sun” ~ The Beatles, written by George Harrison

Indeed, it has been a long, cold lonely winter and it does seem like years since it’s been clear enough to get up the driveway, much less spot these daffodil tips in the front yard this afternoon.

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Sunday Salon: February 16 edition

The Sunday Salon

I’ve noticed that a few of my blogger friends have taken to writing their Sunday Salon posts in the list format below, so I decided to borrow it for those times – like today – when I can’t quite get it together to write a whole narrative-type post. 

Time and Place // 4:20 p.m., our living room. The Husband is reading (about an hour ago he finished Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington D.C by Kenneth J. Winkle and now he’s onto Fear Itself: The New Deal and The Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson); The Boy is on the computer and The Girl is in her room.

Eating and Drinking: At the moment, I’m not eating anything.  I’ve been sticking to my gluten-free diet for several weeks now and I’m pleased with how that’s going. Today was my first headache in about 3 weeks, and it was quite manageable. A nuisance, really. Compared to what I’m used to, three weeks is an eternity for me to go without any sort of headache.

Frances and BernardReading // I am absolutely loving Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer. This is the sort of book that just absorbs you, that makes you forget you’re reading, you know? Carlene Bauer does a magnificent job of drawing one into the fictitious lives of writers Frances Reardon and Bernard Eliot, who are very much inspired by the relationship of real-life author Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) and poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977), who met at the writers’ colony Yaddo.

Hoping to finish this one up tonight.

I’m also reading a bunch of new-to-me blogs, too many to mention. For whatever reason, I’ve gone on a major blog-adding binge and … well, my Feedly is at unprecedented levels. It’s bad, folks. Really bad. But there’s some damn good stuff out there, so don’t believe all those dumb-ass reports that blogging is dead. It’s not.

Watching // THE FREAKING SNOW. AGAIN. Oh, and apparently we are the only people who aren’t watching the Olympics. I know they’re inspiring and all, but this go-around I just … I just can’t. Plus, I have enough of the Winter Olympics in my own driveway, thank you very much.

Listening // to a classical music station that The Husband has playing on Sirius XM radio.  I admit, it’s nice and relaxing listening to this while watching the snow, but I could be just as relaxed listening to this on the deck if it was 80 degrees outside.

(Oh, wait, scratch that … The Boy has just put on the Wii, so there goes the classical music. I’m now listening to the not-so relaxing tunes of Wipeout.)

Making // Something for dinner. Eventually. I guess. Grocery shopping did not happen as planned this afternoon, thanks to the non-stop snow that started when I was in church and hasn’t let up since. – UPDATED TO ADD: Dinner was chicken tenders and mixed vegetables for the kids, and gluten-free potato gnocchi for me and The Husband. (DeLallo gets major thumbs up from me for their version.)

Blogging // Not much of anything, I admit. I’ve been slacking here on the blog since I went back to work full-time in October. You’ve probably noticed.  It’s not as easy to keep up with as it used to be, even when I had a much-longer commute. I’m not sure why that is, honestly. I’m trying not to let it bother me, but it does. I do have some pre-written reviews for this week, and I need to write one for a book that is overdue at the library. I also have some other posts in mind.

Hating // Need I say it? The damn weather. I can’t take much more of this.

Loving // The new gluten-free Girl Scout cookies.

Hope your Sunday is going well!

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hope, delivered

it happens like this:

after you sign permission slips 8 minutes before you’re due at the bus stop and

after the nonstop fighting and ihatehimiwishhewasneverbornimsorunningaway and

after the cancer and the kisses and

after the exhaust from the bus disappears round the corner

only then

you notice this

and this

and you remember albert camus from college

and his invincible summer in the midst of winter

and having the courage to sprout when it would be easier to remain frozen

and you notice

the undeniable proof that hope exists here

in february

on your front steps

just beyond your door

photos taken by me in our front yard, February 12, 2013

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