April 27, 2012

L.A. Music: Little Feat, and Juanita, What are You Up?

This is another installment of my Friday series on L.A. Music, featuring artists and bands that originated in Southern California or are closely linked to Los Angeles. 

Yesterday at Starbucks, I made an impulse buy and bought one of their featured CDs in front of the register: Back in New Orleans.  As you might remember, I'm a big fan of the South, and I love me some NOLA music.  A long time ago, I had a really cool compilation cassette of New Orleans music, put out by Rhino Records.  But that's long-gone.  Anyway, I tore open the package, and drove around while the music started.  The first song is by The Meters, and their song "Hey, Pocky A-Way" immediately reminded me Little Feat.
Oh buddy.  I do love me some Little Feat.

Like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Little Feat is a band from California that confuses people into thinking they're from the Deep South, because of their sound and subject (see CCR's "Born on the Bayou," Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken.")

But front man and founder Lowell George was from Southern California, and that's where the band was formed, after George had a brief stint in Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. (If there's one musician/band that I've never understood the appeal of, it would be Zappa.  It's like highbrow Dr. Demento stuff to me.) 

Lowell George was just packed full of talent, as a musician but especially as a songwriter.  Out of the literally hundreds of songs that I love to death, "Dixie Chicken" is right up there in my top 10: it puts a smile on my face, makes me want to dance, and tells a helluva good story.  (And it takes place in the South.)
Photo from here.
Tragically, George died of a heart attack at the impossibly young age of 34.  The band was disbanding into more of funk/jam outfit, and George's weight and drug issues escalated at the same time. The members of Little Feat got back together in the early 90s with a new lead singer, and had a couple of hits with "Let it Roll Tonight" and "Hate to Lose Your Lovin'." I liked both of those songs, and even got to see them in concert, as an opening act for...?  But that re-vamped version was not at all the same, without the creative spark of Lowell George. 

With all the other artists that I've profiled in my L.A. Music series, I've had a clear idea of what song I wanted to feature here. I had a heck of a time picking this week.  There's just so many Little Feat songs that I love: "Willin'," "Feats Don't Fail Me Now," "Tripe Face Boogie," "Oh, Atlanta," etc. etc.
Album image from here.
In the end, I chose "Fat Man in the Bathtub," in a live performance from 1976. Watching this, I think Jack Black could grow a beard and someday play Lowell George in a bio-pic.  (But Jack Black isn't nearly as sexy as I find George in his cowboy hat, rockin' that cowbell.)  The opening percussion beats reminds me of "Iko Iko," another New Orleans classic song.  This is good stuff, people.

"Put my money in your meter, babe
So it won't run down,
Cause you caught me in a squeeze play
On the cheesy side of town
Throw me a dime, throw me a line,
Cause there's a fat man in the bathtub
With the blues."

Well, like the song says: All I want in this life of mine is some good clean fun. But now I also want a muffaletta. And a beer.  And to be right there down in the French Quarter, on a hot spring day. Ah, well.  At least it's Friday.

Enjoy! And have yourself a funky-good weekend.

April 26, 2012

Dance of the Lampshades

I'm linking up with Jules at Pancakes and French Fries every Thursday as part of her 2012 William Morris Project.

I called this post "Dance of the Lampshades" because it sounds a little classy -- like maybe it's some forgotten sequence from The Nutcracker.  Really, though, it should be called "Musical Lampshades," as in the game of musical chairs.  Or maybe "the Lampshade Reel," like the Virginia Reel dance in Gone With the Wind...bow and switch partners, doe-si-doe. 

And here we go.  See if you can keep track, because it's confusing enough to me.

It all started with this lampshade:
I bought it on Ebay many moons ago, at the height of my mid-century phase. I still like mid-century design, but a few years ago I was going more for the hard-core retro look.  I won the shade, and it's little brother (the same shade,  only shorter and smaller) in an auction.  And then I went back on Ebay to find a lamp to go with my retro-licious tiered shade. 

I bought this teak and ceramic lamp, and like the shade, it came with a sibling, this time a twin brother.  I didn't need 2 of the exact lamp, so one went into the closet. And then I had this. Voila!
Back when I had pumpkin paint in the family room.
 Then last year, we painted and re-did our master bedroom.  I went to Home Goods and bought a pair of lucite lamps for our new bedside tables.  I liked them, except that they came with bright lime-green shades, and the colors in our master are grey and yellow.  So I searched around for some rectangular white shades (a shape that's harder to find than you'd think).  Surprisingly, I found something close to what I wanted at Wal-Mart.  These shades were $8 each.
These shades are a bit too small; the lamps came with harps and a nice lucite ball finial, which I can't use with these.  It's on my Master List of 2012 to buy some proper-sized shades.

So then I had 2 big lime-green lampshades sitting around my house.  What to do, what to do?  Then I remembered that my teak & ceramic lamp has a twin brother, waiting patiently for something like four or five years to again see the light of day.  And then I had this:
But wait: What was to become of my tiered retro shade?  Well.  I had a floor lamp with clean lines, that moved from the family room, into the living room.  I removed the plain white cylinder shade that came with that lamp, and then I had this:
Like it was always meant to be. Ah...but then: what to do with the big white cylinder shade that came with the floor lamp? It went into the closet for a few weeks, until I had a moment of inspiration when staring at another floor lamp. One of those cheap touch lamps with the upward sconce...probably bought at Target.  I put it into the family room....
And did this:
And that was pretty much the end of the story for a good while. Until a few weeks ago, when I did another swap.  I'd bought a lampshade I loved, the Target one with gold chevron stripes.  I didn't have a lamp for it, but you know how it goes at Target: when it's gone, it's gone, so gather your lampshades while ye may.
The lampshade sat on a shelf for a couple months...until I found a lamp.  And proceeded to take off it's shade. This scene in my living room prompted this whole post:
The teak lamp had been moved temporarily from it's mate in the family room, to this brown table in the living room. One of those Christmas decorating switches. The white lamp came with that groovy big shade with the blue graphics, sitting on the chair.  I like it a lot, but for now it's in the closet.  After I paint my living room (another story), I have a feeling it may come out, and replace the tiered-retro shade on the floor lamp.

All of this doe-si-doe and drawn out story all just leads up to one simple ending:
  I bought a new lamp. THE END! (Until the next switcheroo...)

April 25, 2012

Spring Break with Kids in San Francisco

 I'd love to do a big, long, detailed show & tell of our trip to San Francisco/Sacramento at the beginning of this month, but eeeshhh...we accumulated over 300 pictures, in just 3 days. I stare at my huge file of photos and the thought of narrowing them all down for you, resizing them, and then giving a play by play is SUCKING my life force away.   So let me break it down as quickly as I can. Y'all know I talk too much, so no worries that this will be TOO BRIEF. 

Day 1: We arrived in S.F. around 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I thought we made great time; we left home around 7:30 in the morning and made an hour stop for lunch outside of Coalinga.  We checked into our room at the Mayflower Hotel.  After trolling on TripAdvisor for hours, I picked the Mayflower for the price, the location, and it's historical charms.

The place is old, but clean (well, the rooms were clean. I thought the public areas could use a good dusting.)  How many hotel rooms give you 2 walk in closets, with a pull-chain light-bulb?  And the old-fashioned cage elevator was a hoot.
Old cage elevator

Only a little freaked out by the rattling between floors...
We walked down about 3 or 4 good blocks to Union Square, where we had dinner in a kitschy '50s diner.  My suburban kids were totally charmed by the funky city vibe all around us.

Day 2: Awoke early, ate our bowls of cereal and continental breakfast fare from the hotel, then started our Day of Walking.  We walked a LOT this day. From our hotel, we walked to Chinatown.  I would've liked to have spent a little more time perusing the trinket stores, but we got there so early, some were just barely opening. We found the fortune cookie factory down an alley, and spent some time watching how fortune cookies get made. (Quickly, it turns out.)

From Chinatown, we walked to the (free) Cable Car Museum, which is worth a stop, because it's not just a museum, but a working garage where they repair the current cars, and you can see all the giant spools turning the cables that run under the streets, and have the mechanism of how they work explained.  Very cool.
From there, we walked onward...up and down some of the town's very steep streets.  While we stopped to catch our breath, we admired the great panoramic views: 
Coit Tower, in the background
Onto Fisherman's Wharf, where we ate lunch at the Boudin bread cafe.  Sourdough bowls of chowder for the adults, pizza on sourdough crust for the kids.   Then we spent a few hours at Tourist Central, aka Pier 39. Of course, the kids had a good time in the candy store, staring and laughing at the sea lions, and doing the Mirror Maze over & over.
Not about to walk all the way back from Pier 39 to Union Square, we finally caught a cable car.  At $6 per person, one-way, it's hardly the cheapest mode of transport, but how could we not take a ride?
Cable Car turnaround. The drivers get out and literally push the cars around.
After a brief rest in our room, we hit the streets again to go find some dinner, not the easiest thing to do around Union Square with kids in tow.  We found a little Italian joint where the kids split a spaghetti plate and the mister and I had deli sandwiches.  Again, the kids had fun taking in the sights of the city. Such as they were.
Day 2:
Checked out of the Mayflower, and headed toward Golden Gate park, where we spent most of the day at the California Academy of Science.  I have a lot of photos of fish, sharks, butterflies, frogs, lizards, etc. in my files.  I think you can get the gist of it.
It was a fun, interesting place, and I don't think I heard much whining at all from the kids during our hours there. We saw a cool film about the origins of life inside the planetarium, got all muggy in the "rainforest" section, and somehow totally missed the penguin exhibit. That said, if I had to do it over, this is the one part of our trip I'd change.  In retrospect, I wish we'd just explored more of sprawling Golden Gate park and all of its sections (like the Japanese Tea Pavilion) rather than have spent the majority of our last day inside the Academy of Science. Oh well.  We knew this was a quickie trip, and my husband and I already have a small list of things we'd like to see in the greater Bay Area on another, longer visit someday.

After we left the Academy, it was already getting on to late afternoon. We promised the kids we'd find the Children's Playground in the park, and I'm glad we did. Otherwise, they'd have missed the awesome concrete slide:
"Why don't we have anything like this where WE live?!" demanded Lily.  (That's her in the pink sweater up there.) Because we don't live in a cool place like San Francisco, I explained.  (Granted, we're only an hour away from lovely Balboa Park in San Diego, but they don't have anything like this there, either. )

After we dragged the kids from the playground, we consulted the GPS again, this time to get to Chrissy Field. I'd read that this was a great area for capturing some photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. And it would've been great...but the clouds were rolling in, making for a rather washed-out, low-contrast view.  (See the very top photo, above.)  Oh well. At least we got to see it. (On the list for next time: walk, even for just a bit, on the bridge itself.)  
Kids with Alcatraz in the background. I originally thought we'd do an Alcatraz tour on this trip, but changed my mind. I think it'll be better to return when Tucker is just a little bit older...and maybe we can do the night time tour of the old prison, which sounds cool and spooky.  For now, it was windy and chilly, so we got into our car and headed back to the Bay Bridge, bound for Sacramento. Of course, we left town right during rush hour, so we got to spend a good while sitting in traffic.  Farewell, City by the Bay.  Hopefully we'll return within the next couple of years for a longer visit.

Even though we weren't even there for a full 24 hours, I've decided to break up the Sacramento leg of our trip into another post entirely, so expect that next week..and thanks for coming along on our Spring Break trip up to the northern half of our state.

April 23, 2012

Love Where You Live: Weekend at Home

This is my second post in the Love Where You Live link up series, hosted by Design Mom. You can see my first post explaining where I live, here.
This was a wonderful weekend.  My husband might not agree, as he was taken down by the same head cold that I had the previous weekend. It's a sneaky little germ...you never feel all that awful, but you sure don't feel very swell, either. 

But sniffles and sore throat aside, I loved this weekend.  We didn't do all that much, but what we did felt just right.  Two soccer games on Saturday morning/afternoon, and both games were tied, which was just fine, too. No winners, no losers, just two hard fought games.

During Lily's soccer game, my cell rang: it was the mom of one of her two best friends, and they were trying to track Lily down to invite her to our neighborhood pool later in the day.  It was a hot day, over 90 degrees, and despite some initial grumbling and crankiness on my part while I did a quick mental inventory of our pool/sun supplies and ramped up my brain to get organized, it was a great afternoon.

The pool is in walking distance of our house (it's one of the amenities of our monthly HOA fees), and it seemed like half of the kids from school were already there, screaming and splashing around.  It felt like the unofficial Opening Day of Summer Fun. I'm glad we didn't miss it. 
Confession: this photo is from a previous summer. I wasn't organized enough to bring my camera.
I know this all sounds terribly pedestrian and suburban and even a little boring.  But the fact that I was happy to be home, not feeling restless and anxious to escape, sure feels notable to me.  Watching my son's excitement to play with his new friend at our park, walking to check on him and seeing him riding his bike with a small posse of other seven-year-old boys, made me understand, in a deep and fundamental way, that this is where I'm supposed to be right now:
This tract house, that may need a fresh coat of paint and some serious landscape help, but is within easy walking distance of the pool, the school, and next to a park.  This neighborhood, that can feel suffocatingly close and insular at times, but is full of other families who care about their kids, the school, and each other.  And this town, Temecula, which may not be where I dreamed of landing, but on this weekend of Saturday heat and Sunday breezes, felt and looked awfully idyllic.
On this Sunday, at least, I was at peace with being home, and with my own small backyard.  I was at peace with being here, this specific spot on the planet. I could say that I loved where I live.
Tomorrow, Wednesday I'll be back to my usual restless and roaming self, and will have a report on our quickie Spring Break escape up to San Francisco & Sacramento.

April 20, 2012

L.A. Music: Van Halen & My Time Machine

This is another installment of my Friday series on L.A. Music, featuring artists and bands that originated in Southern California or are closely linked to Los Angeles.   
It's a gorgeous Friday here in So Cal.  Birds are chirping, there's a light breeze, and temps  are expected to climb into the 90s.  I've already busted out my flip-flops and started working on the tan line I get on the tops of my feet that won't fade until November.   The sunshine and heat put me in the mood for one of my favorite classic rock bands, Van Halen. Emphasis on Halen, not Hagar.

Sometimes I fantasize about going back in time and seeing some of my favorite bands back in their heyday. It's a a game: if I could choose one act, one trip back in time, who would I choose?   Not the Beatles or Stones.  Too cliché.  Maybe Springsteen in the mid-'70s, at one of his marathon 4-hour shows when he was testifying about the power of rock n' roll.    Maybe the Eagles, when they were still playing backup for Linda Ronstandt at the Troubador.  (Except the Eagles aren't known for being a stellar live act.)   Blondie in 1979?  The Band, backing up Dylan?  (I wanted to talk about the passing of dear Levon Helms, but damn, there's just no L.A. connection at all.)

Near the top of my list is going back in time to see Van Halen when they were still playing backyard parties  and small clubs in Pasadena, or maybe in their first year of touring in support of their first album.  Young and younger:

Every once is while, I get the urge to buy tickets for their upcoming reunion show this summer.  I've seen Van Hagar in concert, back in the early '90s, but I've never seen a show with David Lee Roth in his rightful place as lead singer.  I think my husband has, though.  He's a few years older than me, and I love his story about hearing Van Halen for the first time, coming through his static-y FM radio when he was in junior high and living out in the desert near Palm Springs, how he bought their CD cassette album 8-track and turned on his friends.

I was going to play you "Beautiful Girls," a song I don't hear very often these days, and that seems perfect for a hot spring day.   "I've got a drink in my hand/got my toes in the sand/All I need/is a beautiful GIRRRL," crows DLR.    (I once read an article describing David Lee Roth's personality as basically "Bugs Bunny with genitals," and I think that's dead-on perfect.)

But then I went to YouTube, and watched the band singing a live version of "Beautiful Girls," from earlier this year.   And, watching the band, sans Michael Anthony, hearing Roth's voice a couple gruff octaves lower now, seeing his frontman stunts reduced to a snazzy little shuffle, I felt kind of depressed. 
So, let's climb into my time machine and go back to 1981 and see Diamond Dave do his big air splits off the drum riser.  Let's hear him hit those ear-splitting notes when he does his Dave-wail thing.  This one's for my hubby: his fave Van Halen song.  He's down & out with a head cold on this gorgeous Friday, and mostly listens to annoying dub step these days, but maybe hearing "Unchained" will cheer him a bit and put him in a weekend mood.   

"Unchained, nothin' stays the same."   Word.

Enjoy! And have a rockin' Friday.

April 19, 2012

Open Any Vein...

Another book post.  (I had one of my William Morris/Thursday posts lined up, but Jules isn't hosting her usual link-up this week.)

So instead, I'll tell you what I ordered on Amazon Prime last night.  (Amazon Prime is an awfully cool and addictive thing, and as a result, we get deliveries nearly every day. 98% are for my husband, who always wants needs some small electronic component or geegaw, either for work or the house.)  (And for sure, nobody paid me a dime to say that.)

I ordered Julia Cameron's Vein of Gold, another of her books on creative exercises and mind tricks to get yourself writing (or painting, or dancing, whatever your creative itch may be). I never buy diet books, or self-help books, or any of the sort of non-fiction, commercial "life changing" twaddle that's always stacked up in the front of my local Barnes & Noble.  (Okay, so a long time ago, I bought a Depak Chopra book.  For years afterward, my husband teased me about the status of my "vata.")   But Julia Cameron has been very helpful to me in getting motivated and tackling my fears in the creative realm.  I've about wrung all the inspiration I can get out of The Artist's Way, so it's time for a new infusion of butt-kicking.  And the reviews I've read on Vein of Gold make it sound like it's very good for "taking it to the next level."
Since the beginning of the year, and my renewed dedication to the blog, I've been so immersed in the blog and the internet and trying to find my online groove that I've sorely ignored what I consider my true writing self.  After I lost my handwritten essay back in September, something soured in me and I stopped writing. It's stupid. I wish I wasn't such a timid, twitchy little forest creature when it comes to writing, but I am: I come out into the sun-filled meadow of writing, and then some small event (or thought process) scares me, and back I dive into the underbrush.

So I ordered the Vein of Gold to whip me into shape, to force some self-discipline into my days. I'll post an update on my progress sometime & let you know how that goes.

Second, I ordered Planting Dandelions, by Kyran Pittman. Pittman's writing trajectory from poet, to mom, to blogger, to writing some articles for Good Housekeeping and then getting a book deal, is one that I can certainly relate to, and certainly admire. I'd been a fan of her old blog for a long time, and it was exciting to see it all unfolding in real time, the hard times, the doubts, and then the opportunities that have since come her way.  It's time that I finally read her memoir, now that's it been out for over a year.
Image from kyranpittman.com
I'm still working through my library haul, so it'll be a couple of weeks before I get to Pittman's book. But I hope to crack open and start tackling Vein of Gold right away.  Crap, you know what that means: morning pages, here I come.

April 16, 2012

Library Haul

I scored at the library last week with several books I've been wanting to read for awhile.  From the bottom up:

1. I actually just recently learned that Kate Atkinson has a new book out.  Started Early, Took My Dog is the fourth of her titles that features detective Jackson Brodie.  If I'd just read that last sentence, and didn't know anything about Atkinson's work, I would've immediately dismissed it, because I don't read mysteries. And I especially don't read mysteries that are part of a series, or feature a recurring protagonist.  (And yes, that means I've never read Agatha Christie. Shame on me.)   But Atkinson's books are different than the usual mass-market mysteries...her work is literary, character-driven, and very erudite in that British sort of way. I loved Case Histories, the first book that started this, um, series, and always recommend it to anyone craving a juicy good page turner.

2.  I've been a fan of Ann Patchett since her debut, The Patron Saint of Liars. She's a reliably solid writer, and her bestseller Bel Canto is just terrific...another book that I always recommend to serious readers.  Like Bel Canto, State of Wonder is also set in South America, but it's a less civilized setting, as it takes place in the Amazon.  A young researcher who works for a major drug company is sent to the jungle to gain facts about the sudden death of her colleague, who was himself on a fact-finding mission.  I started this one first, and it's already off to a terrific, absorbing start, with its very likeable and complicated protagonist, Marina Singh.

3.  Some people are really into reading Young Adult fiction these days (think, The Hunger Games and Twilight series, etc.)  I haven't read any of those, but I do like to occasionally dip into some good Children's lit.  It's not YA, because the books aren't really meant for readers over 14.  I'm a huge fan of Patricia Birdsall's Penderwicks series.  These are books to stash in your bike basket and read on a picnic, or any sunny day.  The Penderwicks at Pointe Mouette is the third in this series about four very different, but very close sisters and their likable widowed dad.  I'm hoping to introduce Lily to the first of the books this summer, but we'll see. She's still so geeked out on Harry Potter and the fantasy genre that she's a little resistant to plain old realism.

4.  And finally, Dan Chaon's Stay Awake, a collection of short stories. Okay, I admit this one wasn't on my must-read list, but I've read and liked Chaon's previous work. He's a great short story writer, and part of me picked the book out of guilt: I used to be such a huge fan of the short story. It's nearly all I ever read. But in the last five years, something's changed, and I've become much more resistant to reading them. I sadly suspect it's the level of attention required to read a the dense, poetic prose that usually accompanies short works.  But I'm giving this collection a shot, nevertheless. 

Oh, and that photo up there? That's one of my first-ever attempts using Instagram.  I downloaded Instagram onto my phone on the first day it became available for Droids a couple of weeks back.  But I haven't been using it much, because I'm a little resistant to the fact that it's really all supposed to be shared.  Hrrmmph.

And in another instance of feeling weird about social media and oversharing (but participating, anyway) I've created a Facebook page for Reading Nest.  I don't even know what to think about that.  I actually created a page a month ago and then deleted it, because it was linked to my personal/family account.  I dunno.  I have no idea what I'm doing, on that score. But anyway, if you enjoy my blog, show some love or comraderie and be the second or third person to "Like" me. The badge/link is over there on the right.  Thanks!

April 13, 2012

L.A. Music: Hi, I'm Glen Campbell!

This is another installment of my Friday series on L.A. Music, featuring artists and bands that originated in Southern California or are closely linked to Los Angeles. 

Did you watch the Grammy Awards this year?  Everyone considered the high emotional point of the show to be Jennifer Hudson's tribute to Whitney Huston, who'd died the previous day.  I didn't even see that segment.  For me, the most emotional moments were during  the performances for Glen Campbell's Lifetime Achievement Award.  Campbell, who announced last year that he's suffering from Alzheimer's, came out on stage accompanying The Band Perry, who covered his first hit, "Gentle on My Mind."  I tried, I really tried, to suck it up and hold it back.  Epic fail.  Before the end of the segment, I was bawling, my face in my hands and my two children little anxious satellites, hovering around and offering me Kleenex.
Glen Campbell makes me cry. More on that in a minute.

Perhaps you don't associate country-pop singer with L.A., but I disagree.  Campbell was born a poor share-cropper's kid in Arkansas in 1936, but he came out to L.A. in the late '50s with a wad of cash, a guitar, and some dreams. And yes, I'm being corny, but this is the man who's most famous for singing "Rhinestone Cowboy," after all.

Out in L.A., Glen Campbell was first a session musician for a string of big names, including the Beach Boys. He played on many tracks on their album Pet Sounds, and also played rhythm guitar on Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night." 

After getting signed to a record label, he struggled to find his niche or produce a hit, until he recorded the song "Gentle On My Mind," which became a huge hit and won a Grammy, and Campbell's career was assured. 
In the early '70s, Campbell had a TV show, a variety hour of music and corny skits, like so many popular singers did back then. (The Helen Reddy show, The Captain & Tennille show, etc.)   I'll admit that in my very hazy memory, I can recall watching the show.  What I recall even clearer is the way my dad would mimic the country-friendly howdy introduction at the opening of each show: "Hi, I'm Glen Campbell!" which sounded more like, "Ha, Ah'm Glen Campbell!" when my dad said it.

There are a handful of singers and songs that I associate closely with my daddy, and up near the top of the list is Glen Campbell.   I'd have to write a very long-winded  essay to explain all the nuances of the why's and wherefore's of this association.  I can tell you that my dad didn't like to be tied down, that he never was very good husband material, even after a nearly forty-year marriage to my mother.  I can say that their courtship and early days can in some ways be summed up in Campbell's hit song, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix."

I can say that hearing Glen Campbell's early songs, with their lush arrangements, remind me of my own early days in the long backseat of a big Ford sedan, listening to those songs turned up high on a scratchy AM station.

Today marks the five-year anniversary of my dad's death.  It was also a Friday the 13th, that morning we gathered for the last time in the hospital. My dad hadn't been aware of much for the last week of his life, but he'd have appreciated the irony of dying on Friday the 13th.  He of the "if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" variety.

After five years, I still can't listen to most Glen Campbell or John Denver or George Jones songs and make it through without crying.  Today will be no different.  Here's the Campbell song I love most, a song about highways and train yards and sleeping bags and a young man out on the road, recorded by a young, healthy man who didn't even know it was the beginning of his dream coming true, when he recorded it back in 1967. 

Here's the song, performed in a duet with the songwriter, John Hartford, on the Smothers Brother's show.

Enjoy, and Happy Friday. Even on Friday, April 13th.

April 11, 2012

Monkeys on a Bench

My monkeys on a bench in San Francisco's Chinatown, last week.  Just last week?  It already feels longer.   Our trip up north was great, much more on that soon.  The last half of the kids' 2-week spring break flew by, and though they returned to school this Monday, it feels like the break just ended literally about an hour ago, when I said farewell to our house guest of the last several days (my mom). 

It felt good to spend time away from the computer, but I did miss the blog.  Nobody in my extended family knows I have a blog, so it feels a little dishonest when one of them asks what I do with myself while the kids are in school, and I respond with something vague like, "um...this and that." Although maybe that's not so dishonest, really. 

This and that: it fills up the hours, more than you might think. 

April 2, 2012

Spring Break Break

Icart's "Spring" image from here.
I've had the Reading Nest for a few years now, but have only been posting more often since the start of this year.  "More often," for me means about 3 times a week.  But I'm still finding my way and working out routines.  If I was a kick-ass blogger, I'd have a bunch of posts all set to go and scheduled to magically appear, while my kids are on their 2-week spring break as we speak.   

But alas, I'm not so kick-ass when it comes to planning and creating posts ahead of time.  So it's time to step away from my desk, make us all turn off our respective electronic devices, and have some fun with my kiddos during their last week of vacation.  Oh, and plan my menu and find "something cute" to make for dessert, since I'm hosting Easter here for my extended family next Sunday. 

The above image is by French illustrator and artist, Louis Icart.  My design tastes have evolved through the years, but my love for Icart's pretty, feminine prints has stayed true, ever since I first saw and coveted a large, framed print in an antique store when I was a teenager.

Happy April!  Enjoy the sunshine and fresh breezes of spring. I'll be back in a week.
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