I read a lot of books. All kinds of books. Last year was a tough year for reading, but this year I managed to read 50 books. Not too shabby, eh? Some of them turned out to be favorites, some of them turned out to be a waste of time, some of them were book club selections, some of them were recommendations from friends. Below is a list if said books, described by me , in five words or less:
1. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
Mix Tape Anatomy 101
2. The Tesseract by Alex Garland
I only read half.
3. The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates
Delightful British romp.
4. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
The TV show was better.
5. Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall
Would love to re-write myself.
6. Happier at Home by Gretchen Reuben
Re-hash of The Happiness Project.
7. Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield
Rob Sheffield is brilliant.
8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I wish it was real!
9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
YA so good.
10. Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
One night adventure.
11. Matched by Ally Condie
Book club. Ugh.
12. Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
13. Crossed by Ally Condie.
Make it stop.
14. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
New favorite author.
15. Vampire Academy by Richelle Meade
Not a fan. Sorry, Michelle ;p
16. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
17. Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson
Save the Magic Kingdom, kids!
18. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Better than first 13 envelopes.
19. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch
Read. All. The. Pages!
20. Kingdom Keepers: Disney at Dawn by Ridley Pearson
Save the Animal Kingdom, kids!
21. Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson
Save Epcot, kids!
22. Kingdom Keepers: Power Play by Ridley Pearson
Take a break already, kids!
23. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Best male characters ever.
24. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
I heart Cassandra Clare.
25. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Love happy endings.
26. Moonwalk by Michael Jackson
Curiosity, lead the way.
27. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Super creepy kids book.
28. I Don't Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer.
Everyone's favorite sidekick.
29. sTori Telling by Tori Spelling
Candy Spelling gives me anxiety.
30. The Selection by Keira Cass
Who will the Prince choose?
31. The Elite by Keira Cass
Prince hasn't chosen yet.
32. The One by Keira Cass
33. The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro
Funny. Has adventure in title.
34. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Insight as only Gladwell can.
35. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
"No time for jokeless history!"
36. Man in the Music by Joseph Vogel
MJ musical exploration.
37. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die by Willie Nelson
Willie is awesome. Period.
38. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Peter Pan prequel.
39. But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn
I want to meet her.
40. Let's Spend the Night Together by Pamela Des Barres
Groupies do it better.
41. 7 by Jen Hatmaker
Living with less.
42. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Anybody want cobbler?
43. J.M. Barrie Ladies Swimming Society by Barbra Zitwer
Old ladies rock.
44. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Ah, young love.
45. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Never grow up.
46. Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Grammar is amusing.
47. The Moment by Larry Smith
125 life changing moments.
48. Quick Service by P.G. Wodehouse
Love the Wodehouse.
49. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
50. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Best book to end on.
"We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating and adventuring. Consequently, the actualizing of our potential can become the most exciting adventure of our lifetime."
Yes, I am one of those people who throw parties for their dogs. This is 10% because I will throw a party for literally anything and 90% because Trixie has added an immeasurable amount of joy to my life and deserves to be spoiled. I don't even care that four years ago I totally would have judged me. Things change. One minute you think dog sweaters are ridiculous, the next you're buying size 5T Circo shirts from Target because your dog needs a new outfit. It is what it is.
October 20th was Trixie's 4th birthday so we celebrated with a fire hydrant themed party in my Mom's backyard. Her bff Molly (who is a dog) was camping so she couldn't make it this year, but my Mom, Erik, Michelle, Jason, and Daniel (who are people) all came. Trixie always knows when a party is for her, so she has the best dog day ever. We, on the other hand, spent most of the afternoon swatting away flies. It was worth it to see her so happy though.
Happy birthday, love bug!
I just got done editing a couple of adventures from Year One of RBA that involved dancing, so I really feel like anything I would say about Henry and I going to Dimensions in Dance would be a repeat of my own writing. Is self plagiarism a thing?
Oh well. Henry and I went to Dimensions and Dance and re-lived our glory days as dancers. He and I (and a couple of you out there) performed in the summer show at Allan Hancock in 2004 and now he's the cheerleading coach there and I have a Wii with a dance game. Obviously we both still love to dance. Plus I just started watching So You Think You Can Dance. Because I do still think I can dance. What I can't do, however, is always find someone to go to local performances with me. I want to go every year... but haven't been since 2010. I need to work on my powers of persuasion.
But this year Henry had free tickets and a free afternoon so we went to the show and had a great time. My favorites dances in any performance are usually the ones that are either really fun or really dramatic. If they fail to be either of these things then I have been known to yawn and/or laugh internally (sometimes externally) at them. That's just who I am.
Henry happened to be in a similar mood, so we kept making each other laugh by repeatedly whispering the names of the dances to each other and waving our arms in the air, singing "Heeeey, hooooo". You really had to be there to get the full effect. But all in all it was a pretty good show. My favorites were "Musical Chairs" and "Paris". I even got to hear two Michael Jackson songs in the mix ("The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Place With No Name") so I was a happy camper.
Afterwards, we danced (literally) back to the car while I yelled, "I just wanna dance!" I'm so glad Henry is my friend. He doesn't care when I do a Random Parking Lot Yelling Dance.
Then we went for ice cream at Doc Burnstein's just because. We sampled, we ate, we listened to "Billie Jean", we laughed until our sides hurt. Perfect day.
Lompoc, Solvang, and all surrounding cities be advised: The scarecrows have landed. Repeat, the scarecrows have landed.
Okay, so they didn't land exactly. But overnight, 150 scarecrows popped up all over the area as part of the First/Fifth Annual Scarecrow Fest. It's a first for Lompoc, but the fifth for Solvang. It's also the first time Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Buellton have joined Solvang. So it's kind of the First/Fifth/First Annual Scarecrow Fest.
I'm telling you this because if you live here you still have time to go see them. I went out to Solvang last weekend and people really get into scarecrow making there.
I mean, look at this:
Wow, right? And I've heard that they get even more into it in Cambria. I'll have to save that Fest for next year. I didn't get to vote on my favorite 'crow though because I don't have a Solvang zip code, but I totally would have. Voting is important and every vote counts.
I leave you with this picture of me and Trixie being surrounded by scarecrows. She wasn't scared at all. She probably would have eaten one if I'd let her.
One of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling adventurous but don't want to leave the house (or put on clothes) is to dig out an old hobby. I haven't painted in way too long, so I wanted to dust of the old brushes and make something.
I was 21 when I started painting, but I really fell for it when I realized I didn't have to paint like Renoir, I just had to paint like me. Now I'm constantly touting the benefits of artistic self expression. In fact, it gets me all worked up just thinking about it and I start singing "True Colors".
Anyway, here's what I painted today -
And this -
Two of my favorite subjects: love and mix tapes. Creativity achieved.
Not many hay bale mazes can compare to the (fictional) maze created by Taylor for the annual Stars Hollow Spring Fling in the aptly titled Gilmore Girls episode "Hay Bale Maze". I mean, that is the hay bale maze we all really want to go in.
When I first started Adventuring back in aught 9, I put "hay maze" on the list of things I wanted to do. I searched everywhere for one, but not a bale could be found. Then Justin and I discovered a corn maze in Goleta and it was all over. I now looooove corn mazes. They're not claustrophobic as mazes made of hay and they smell like popcorn. Who doesn't love a popcorn-scented maze?
Well fall is here once more so I put down my pumpkin cream cheese muffin and lit my Bath & Body Works "Sweater Weather" candle and resumed the search for this elusive autumnal adventure. I knew there was one at the rustic and charming Avila Valley Barn, but as far as I knew it was usually a covered maze. Talk about panic-attack inducing. Two-foot wide aisles, non-breathable hay, and a tarp that makes it one million degrees inside? Then release a dozen inevitable toddlers into it? Um, no. So I always skipped it when I went pumpkin shopping there.
But not this year! My good buddies J and D and I made our annual trek to the Avila Barn only to discover that the hay bale maze was uncovered! I can now say that I have found my way into, and out of, a hay maze. I can also say that there are few things funnier than grown-up people running around and bumping into each other because they've lost all sense of direction.
I am, and have always been, a mix tape junkie. In fact, you probably don't want to get me started on all of the reasons why they are the greatest, most awesome things ever. And don't even bother telling me that technically they're not "tapes" anymore because I don't care. The CD is just the vessel, the heart is the mix tape.
There is no magic formula for what I put on a mix tape that I make for myself. It's usually just a bunch of songs that I enjoy belting out in the car from a variety of genres. There are so many songs that I love (for many different reasons) that I want to horde them all for myself. My precious...
Earlier this year I made a mix I called Mixology 2014. Then I was mad when a really bad summer TV show premiered called Mixology. Needless to say, the two are not affiliated in any way (though that would be funny).
Today I made Mixology vol. 2. I now present you with the track list. Enjoy.
1. Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song
2. Just a Friend - Biz Markie
3. Long Hard Times to Come - Gangstagrass
4. Hurt - Johnny Cash
5. Jolene - Dolly Parton
6. Rhinestone Cowboy - Glenn Campbell
7. The Cover of the Rolling Stone - Dr. Hook
8. We Built This City - Starship
9. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
10. I Wan to Know What Love Is - Foreigner
11. Home Sweet Home - Motley Crue
12. Alone - Heart
13. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
14. Say You, Say Me - Lionel Richie
15. Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band
16. The End - Nancy Sinatra
17. Be My Yoko Ono - Barenaked Ladies
18. Everything is Awesome - Paulette workout mix
And, as a bonus, some recommended reading:
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
This man knows all about the science behind mix tapes and how to create the best ones for any situation.
Also, I'm not going to tell you why I picked the songs I picked. Feel free to speculate.
Remember how I was telling you about Miss M and I walking in on Abraham Lincoln in a saloon in Los Alamos? Well, the next day my Dad and I went out to Old Days to watch the parade (I won't bore you with the details - horses, horses, more horses), and lo and behold, I came across this guy:
The President was shopping for antiques, as one does on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A group of kids had just run up and asked for his autograph, so I felt fairly confident that he wouldn't mind posing for a quick snapshot with me. He was very gracious. I was a little star struck.
I was browsing the local weekly paper, as I do, when I saw that the Harvest Festival in Arroyo Grande was coming up. Then I got online, as I do, to see what more I could find out about it. AG knows how to throw a Strawberry Festival, so I had high hopes for their Harvest Festival. In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined how awesome this festival is. There is really only one thing you need to know: They have Weiner Dog Races. Weiner... Dog... Races. Picture it. Go ahead. Picture those itty bitty legs pumping as fast as they can while those floppy ears trail in the wind.
There was no way I wasn't going to this. And, of course, Trixie wanted to go too. And so did my Mom. So we all drove out to Arroyo Grande on Saturday and stood on the sidelines to cheer for the racing dachshunds. As you might expect, not all pups were in the mood to race, so some of them walked a few steps and then just stared at everyone. A few made a break for the finish line. Some ran a few steps, stopped, ran a few steps, stopped, etc. And honestly, I have never heard such intense cheering at a local sporting event.
Sadly, I do not have photo evidence of this. I know! It was so crowded that I watched the whole thing through a gap between a woman's floppy hat and her husband's shoulder. So you'll have to trust me, it was magnificent.
I did take a picture with a tractor though. You're welcome.
"Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to treat life as art."