Monday, July 30, 2007

weekend re-cap

My usual exclamation when I walk into the office on Monday morning is the typical "You again!", directed at one of my co-workers. After the obligatory "So, how was your weekend?", I respond with whether I had a relaxing one or that I have to come to work to recover from the weekend. This past weekend fell under the come-to-work-to-recover category.

Friday: (Although this doesn't technically fall under weekend, it still added as a weekend stressor.) Before leaving work, that afternoon I received a call from my bank's fraud alert department. They were calling to verify some suspicious transactions. It turns out that someone had gotten a hold of my credit card number and spent about $800 of my hard-earned cash. Card was canceled, and we left for Jamestown. Friday night involved great friends, great conversation, 3 bottles of wine, and iTunes.

Saturday: Up early to meet my aunt. We headed down to the Jamestown Audubon Society and nature center to get in some birding. The air was pretty thick and humid so all the birds, I gather, were hunkering down, trying to keep cool. We did get some good looks at some various Sandpipers and my favorites, the Cedar Waxwings. There was also a female Bald Eagle, injured, kept on the nature center's grounds, in a giant wire cage. Poor thing. Then it was back to Jamestown for goodbyes, onward to Fredonia for lunch and a quick stop at TJ's, then back on the road for home. Saturday night, the Varnish Cooks were in fine form at the Perkins Mansion concert series.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

river visit

On a muggy day in Rochester, you can smell forever. And, as Ryan put it, forever doesn't smell good. It smells like dead fish and sewage. However, a beautiful sunset and a flock of gulls against the sky can make up for just about anything.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

bloggable bits

On July 7th, Ryan and I had the honor of attending the RPO's Rhapsody in Rochester - a celebration of the RPO's new All-Gershwin CD with an evening of music, dinner and dancing at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

It was a very swank affair with good food and great music. We had a lovely, creative meal, which included a filet that was supposed to have a demi glace, but I thought it was closer to gravy. Oh well.

After dinner we were treated to a concert of Gershwin, and other assorted jazz tunes, one of which was a full orchestral arrangement of Oye Como Va. It was weird but yet strangely intriguing. The event also required us to get very dressed up. My hair-do utilized an army of bobby pins and an entire can of hairspray.

Also, we finally, finally put up the bird feeders. It took mere days for us to develop a following - we now have 3 pairs of goldfinches, a pair of cardinals, and what Ryan likes to call our roving gang of chickadees. We've seen nuthatches, red-belly, hairy, and downy woodpeckers, but they've yet to visit the the feeders. And, though Ryan has only seen it once, we have heard a very loud Carolina wren in the neighborhood. Living in the city, the birds are tame enough that we're able to sit out at the picnic table in the back yard and watch them feed up close.

Monday, July 09, 2007


As you can see from my sidebar over there, ------> I keep an on-line library of all my books through a wonderful site called LibraryThing. (It's awesome - you should join if you haven't already.) Several weeks ago, I was selected to participate in their Early Reviewer program, which is a collaboration between the site and a publishing company (Random House, in this case.) Because my library somehow matched whatever criteria they were looking for, I was lucky enough to receive a free, advanced copy of a soon-to-be-published novel. In order to continue to participate, though, they recommend you write a review, etc. So, my review of Peony in Love is below:

I received my copy of this book in the mail as part of the Early Reviewer program. As a fan of historical fiction (especially stories about women), I was anxious to start the novel. Focusing on an arranged marriage that never quite reaches fruition, Peony in Love desperately wants to be a love story. It wants to be a story about love that is stronger than death; it craves to be about a kind of rare love that will transcend any time, place, or dimension.

After only one chapter through it, however, I thought, “This is awful!” The writing bored me. The further I read, the more I wanted to be shown rather than told about the emotions that play such a large role in the novel. I wanted more depth in the writing, more imagery. The only scene that really captured my full attention in the beginning was the very graphic description of the foot binding process. This was a fantastic depiction which caused me to physically cringe and shudder.

I did, at times, have to force myself to continue turning pages. Later on in the novel, as we learn more about Peony (our heroine) and her family’s history, I did soften toward the often very bland writing style. I eventually developed a fondness for the characters. I even wondered if perhaps Lisa See wrote this way intentionally. Did she purposely write in such a plain style to underscore or accentuate the heavy emotions that we are told are so prevalent throughout this story? Maybe.

This wasn’t one of the best novels I’ve read in recent memory, nor was it the worst. It was simply, to me, “ok.” It did, however, spark enough interest in me that I think I may check out See’s other novel, which was apparently a best-seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Last weekend we tried to cram way too much into three days. Friday night, Ryan and I met up with Ben at the Syracuse Jazz Festival for a much-anticipated but later disappointing Bela Fleck and the Flecktones show. (The sound guys blew and it was freezing cold.) Sunday, it was back to Syracuse for the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, conducted by Peter Graves, with special guest Will Lee. Aretha Franklin was scheduled to play after the Jaco band, but we didn't stay for her. When in large crowds, my patience wears incredibly thin.

We stopped at Montezuma on the way out on Sunday. Nothing much to see there, since there was a simulated drought and the main pool was totally dry. We did, however, get a good look at a nesting Osprey on the way out.

Up next: Rhapsody in Rochester this coming Saturday. Pictures of Ryan and me in our formal wear will be posted eventually.

July is already shaping up to be one of the busiest months of the year...