Friday, July 30, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hostess: Jill
Book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Food: Greek Pasta Salad, Bruschetta, Grilled peaches with Gorgonzola cheese, pita and dip, guacamole and chips.
Best Wine of the Night: The Sangria!

It was a gorgeous night for book club to meet, one of the first nights we have had this summer without oppressing, swamp-like humidity or a tornado caliber storm. Jill set up outside, which was fabulous. I think most of us were taken in by the sweetness of the night and wine - we sure didn't get in much talking about the book. We were just too relaxed it seemed.

But we did talk about the book a little, mainly on the biggest question surrounding the novel- the misogynistic themes that stream through out, raising their ugly heads. All that violence towards women- virtually every woman in the novel was assaulted by a man in some way, shape or form. Even Lisbeth seemed to dislike herself, and for all her sharp edges and bravado, was still body conscious, not liking her own shape. Was this to make her more relate-able to women readers, who may have body image issues of their own? Maybe it is just my American perspective, our hard core heroines do not have insecurities, at least none that they talk about. I thought it was interesting that Larsson chose to show her vulnerabilities.

We also talked about Blomkvist's relationship with his partner, Erica. We were more confused about Erica's relationship with her husband actually. Did he just love her that much that he allowed her her freedoms? Did he not love her enough? Was their marriage open for both of them? This was perplexing to us.

We all agreed that this was a fantastic book, and we all want to read the rest of the series. I am looking forward to next month's selection, Eating in the Light of the Moon, as well.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anyway you slice it..Pt. 1

A few weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends to recommend their favorite pizza places- local, independent, not chain, mass produced pizzas. I now have a list of at least 15 places to try pizza from; well, really 14, since one of them I have had pizza from, many years ago, and there was a huge, I mean huge and nasty, swirl of hair on the bottom of the crust of the pizza slice I was eating! It horrified me, scared me, caused me to not eat pizza for at least a few months. The hair plug, as I refer to it, made me think they dropped the dough into the drain of a shower at a no-tell motel and then just proceeded to make our pizza from that. Thinking about it still gives me the shivers! Gah! Needless to say, I can't try that place again. They may have improved but I just can't do it.

Sunday night we needed pizza, in a big way. It was just one of those days. We decided on Del's Pizza in Trenton. I had heard mixed things about the restaurant itself, but that the pizza was pretty good. Ok, I am up for that. I thought maybe the restaurant might look a bit dodgy, a little divey, but I can deal with that too. Billy and I met Devin, Chrissy and Todd outside the restaurant two hours before they were due to close. Chrissy told me she wasn't sure about the place, since they had gone in to wait for us and were ignored. I suggested we try one more time, just in case they just didn't see by some chance a group of three people at the door. In we walked, intrepid pizza eaters, trying out a new place, hopeful yet skeptical. As soon as we stepped in the door, the waitress threw up her hands in anger, and sneered "Oh great" at us. I had a hard time believing this was directed at us, because really, what restaurant does not want customers? So I blundered on, asking if we just sit anywhere. The waitress flung her hands about in the air, and sputtered "Anywhere, anywhere" like we were the worst people on earth and now she had to talk to us. It was so odd! We turned around and walked out. So our first place is off the list, and gets a very bad review from me. I plan on emailing the manager as well.

Still hungry, we drove back home and ate at Solero instead. Our waitress turned over backwards practically for us, setting our pizzas up on another table so that we could have more space on our table to eat and see each other, and was very attentive at refilling our drinks. A plus in my book. The pizzas themselves were delicious! We ordered the New York White Garlic, the Pesto pizza, and Billy, the token carnivore, ordered the Solero special meat thing. All the pizzas at Solero are prepared in a brick oven, and they were fabulous. We were so full of pizza goodness when we left, we had to pass up ice cream at Stroh's, which is unbelievably good as well. The only thing I would have negative to say is that my wine glass was maybe a bit dirty. But the pizza, the pizza was fantastic! It was not a place on my list, but is a place I will continue to eat.

** I just want to add that I mean no offense to the people who may have suggested Del's. I am sure your experience was a great one, with great pizza. Unfortunately, my experience was not good at all, and that is not your fault.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meeting Time

Last night, Billy and I were scheduled to attend an informational meeting with the agency we were considering for our home study. The meeting was in Royal Oak, so true to our style, we took that opportunity to hang out in Royal Oak for a bit before hand, and have a nice dinner. We usually like to go to Bastone, but Jennifer has been talking about the Royal Oak Brewery so went there. It was a nice, calm meal before the meeting, which I was nervous about.

I really should not have been- out of the 30 some different agencies we have contacted and spoken with, we hands down loved these people. In fact, we liked them so much, that we completely changed our initial plan, and our now going to use this agency for everything- the home study, the adoption, all of it. We have even decided to do a domestic adoption, instead of the international adoption we had been pretty set on.

This whole process is something I could probably write a book on already, just the research alone. Billy and I feel we have traveled the world in search of the perfect program, and every time we decide on something, the country closes, or something just doesn't feel right. Our number one choice for International was Kazakhstan, even with its drawbacks, such as costing as much as our home and having to stay in country 6 weeks. To us, this was worth it. I don't think people who have had children naturally can understand this maybe; you reach a point where these options seem doable, if the end result is a happy adoption. But Kazakhstan closed, and the other countries we looked at were just not right for us, in one way or another. We had finally decided on Honduras - but although we were excited, something about this program didn't ever really click with us, but we were so anxious to begin and get started, we made the decision to go with Honduras. Maybe one day we will revisit this idea, if we ever decide to adopt a second time- I haven't closed the book on Honduras completely yet, I consider it an option for a future adoption.

The meeting last night answered and addressed every worry we had about domestic, in an honest, genuine, personable manner. We really felt like these people cared about us, knew us from our emails, and knew what they were doing. There was also a family there who had finished an adoption with the agency about 8 months ago; they did a fantastic job of answering questions, as people who have been there before. We didn't feel like we were getting a business spiel, rushed into anything, or that we were bothering anyone. We were one couple among about 8 others, which when you are on a waiting list, you like to see small numbers. It was a two hour meeting, but it seemed to fly by, at least for me- my ADD husband had a bit harder time sitting still, but one thing about Billy; he may seem like he is not listening because he is doodling, but he is hearing every word, and remembering it all. He just needs to keep busy in these situations, and his drawings help him to not fidget to much.

We left, not really saying anything too much until we got in the car. Then we looked at each other, and practically said at the same time, "I love this agency". For the first time, everything felt right, every bit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moving forward, slowly and deliberately

It seems my life is suddenly in fast forward; how is it already the middle of July? I feel like I have let so many days this year blur by, with my constantly busy schedule. The funny thing is, I had tried to scale back, to make more time in my life for other things. Plans are sometimes like a hydra- you finish one duty, and two more spring to life. Starting today, starting maybe right this very second, I resolve to stick to my and spend more time on the things I told myself I was going to- my writing, my photography, my home.

This is especially important to me now, as Billy and I have made the life changing, monumental, rewarding decision to adopt a child. This is the time we need to make small in our lives, to get ready to accommodate another member into our family. We are so excited and hopeful for our future, and I will definitely be writing about our journey toward our child. Tonight we are going to a meeting with the agency we selected for our home study, to learn more about the process. I feel I have learned so much already about international adoption, in some instances it even feels I have learned a new language! For all the research and conversations we have had, with countless agencies, today feels like the first step in the journey.

Spending yesterday with my friend Jennifer and her three year old son was fabulous. We went blueberry and peach picking together, and then had a quick lunch in a nearby farm town. I had such a great time, and it was nice to be out in the blueberry bushes, on a beautiful day with a cool breeze and birds singing in the trees around us. I had a "Steinbeck moment" - not sure why I refer to these moments as such, but I do- I picked a peach, warmed from the sun, straight from the tree and enjoyed the juicy taste as I sat among the rows, becoming warm from the sun myself. Small moments like this make long time memories, and I can't wait to go again next year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Hostess: Kelly at Alyssa's house
Book: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Food: Fancy time cupcakes from a bakery, hummus, veggies with dip
Best Wine of the Night: Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's
Month: April

In March Kelly told us she was trying to decide between two books for her choice, this one and another one I can't remember anymore. I lobbied hard for this one- I love to read books about the Salem witch trials, I always have. I am also a huge history buff, I even have a degree in it, so this book appealed to me on this level as well. So when Kelly said this was the book she had chosen, I was pretty excited.

I loved this book, I pretty much devoured it in two days. At first Chrissy didn't care for the book, and felt the protagonist Connie was pretentious. I have to agree, she wasn't an instantly likeable character. I also could not believe she actually spent the night in that house the first night. That was pretty unbelievable, at least for me. Yuck. Connie did grow on me though-she was a thorough researcher who took her fact finding seriously. My historical research professor would have been pleased with her efforts and her use of materials.

I enjoyed the approach this book took to the idea of the Witchcraft trials- certainly it was one I have never heard broached before, that perhaps they really were witches after all, and it was not the hysterics of young selfish girls that started it all. It puts a very different spin on things, to think maybe there was a real witch in the bunch. Something to think about...