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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8




 

 

Mom's Coming to Visit: 03/31/05

My mom is coming to visit tonight. Tomorrow she and I will spend the day with Sean. Tonight I'm making turkey pie from scratch for dinner. Last night I had planned to do a more thorough cleaning of the living room as it still looks like we're moving in but I feel asleep at eight thirty right after Sean went to bed. It's hard to unpack when working more than 40 hours a week.

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Steps: 8000


A Horse Book: 03/30/05

A friend of mine asked me for a recommendation for a book to read. Since we both share a love of horses and children's books, I suggested a book a devored when I was about ten or eleven — The Black Stallion's Ghost. It's a fun and short read.

Losing Sleep from Reading:

Last week I was staying up late to read Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and this week is no different except that I'm now sucked into Jonathan Carroll's Wooden Sea. If Joseph C. Lincoln had set down to write The Man Who Folded Himself he would have come up with something like what I'm currently reading. Fran, a small town chief of police, has found himself in the middle of a time traveling mystery / conspiracy where the fate of Crane's View rests on his ability to sort things out. The first chapter didn't do much for me but by the second chapter the quirky plot began to surface. By the third chapter I was hooked.

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Steps: 8000


Stiff Legs: 03/29/05

I took my first walk around our new neighborhood and it has a lot of hills. My legs are now a little stiff. I must remember to stretch in the future!

New School Part II:

Sean wasn't ready to go home yesterday from his new school! Or maybe he was just put out by seeing both of us there when picking him up. Since it was only 5:30 when we picked him up we took him to the very soggy (due to recent rains) San Felipe Park (aka "castle swing-slide") where he played for half an hour. The time at the park cheered him up a great deal.

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Steps: 5000


Secret Window: 03/28/05

Last night Ian and I watched Secret Window, based on the Stephen King story, "Secret Window, Secret Garden." Five minutes into the film, I had clicked with what was going on and without thinking about it, blurted out exactly what was happening. Fortunately my dear husband doesn't mind when I spoiled the plot and we both enjoyed the film. Johnny Depp was wonderful as Mort as he is in most every role. The film goes for Hitchockian suspense rather than the more traditional Kingsian horror to tell the story but Mort is still the classic broken King hero.

New School:

Sean started his new school today. Ian took him but from what he emailed me, it sounded like Sean had no trouble fitting in. He was especially enamored of the various musical instruments (no surprises there) and relieved to see that every day would be a "regular door" day (meaning, going into school via a back gate). I'll be picking him up after work so I'm sure I'll get a more thorough report of the first day then.

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Steps: 10000


Easter: 03/27/05

We did Sean's first egg hunt after his nap. We made the hunt as easy as we could and he managed to find about half the eggs without our help. He had a great deal of fun finding the eggs. Afterwards he proudly carried around his basket, showing off all the different colored eggs.

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Steps: 7000

 

Preparation: 03/26/05

We went to Target and got a new car seat / booster seat for Ian's car since Ian will be dropping Sean off at the new day care. Sean had long since outgrown his old car seat and we've been swapping out the one from my car as needed.

Then after Sean's nap we colored eggs for tomorrow. I did the decorating with the wax crayon. Sean picked out the colors to use (which egg went into which pot) and Ian did the dipping. It was our first year that we dyed eggs and we all had fun.

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Steps: 7000

 

Last Day at the Old Day Care: 03/25/05

This is Sean's last day at his current day care. He'll be starting at a place closer to home. I'm hoping he'll make some friends that he might be able to play with on the weekends.

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Steps: 7000


Go Beep: 03/24/05

Ian took Sean to day care yesterday. When I got home I decided to honk my horn like Sean and I do to let Ian know we're home. As it turned out, Ian and Sean had only just gotten home themselves and Sean was thrilled to hear the horn. He came tearning up the stairs to my car, arms out stretched for a hug.

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Steps: 6000


I Saw a Ghost: 03/23/05

While running an errand I ran across my junior high school crush. We lost track of each other shortly after he and his family moved up to the Bay Area at the end of eighth grade. The move had come at a time when he had been hospitalized and quite ill. When he stopped writing letters and the letters I sent came back as "address unknown" I've wondered if he had passed away.

A couple years ago I found three addresses for man with his name but I've never gotten up the gumption to write any of those addresses. It just seemed too weird — I'm just not stalker material. It was comfort enough to know that he could possibly be alive.

Then today I saw him. There he was walking work. He's a little taller and certainly older but he's otherwise exactly as I've imagined that he'd look. It was strange but reassuring to run into him.

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Steps: 10000

 

Home Again: 03/22/05

After only three hours of sleep after three days of nearly no sleep (argh!) we got up early to have one last breakfast with Ian's parents before leaving for home. We got all the way to Santa Nella by noon but we were delayed after lunch by the weather.

Just north of Santa Nella we saw a funnel cloud doing its best to become a tornado. We had rain so hard that it washed a mole rat out of its hole and onto the highway and pushed a truck off the southbound freeway, across the grass in a U-turn onto the northbound freeway. Nonetheless, we arrived safe and sound.

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Steps: 3000

 

To the Park: 03/21/05

As promised, I took Sean to Garfield Park today. But first we had to go the post office. Sean was as patient as could be expected while I mailed off my packages but he was still pretty squirrelly. On our way to the park he reminded me though that he had been helpful for being so patient.

A few minutes at the park Ian and Derrick arrived from their errands. We stayed at the park for about an hour while Sean played. He especially enjoyed a closed tube slide. Derrick knocked on it a couple times. The first time Sean said, "Ding Dong!" and the second, "I am not here!" That response made us laugh.

After the park we had lunch at Carrow's. Sean was great. After lunch Derrick, bemused by Sean's interest in numbers, asked him what his favorite number is. At the time Sean was looking at the "open 24 hours" sign and immediately responded, "Twenty-four!"

A Day at the Races:

We watched another Marx brother's film, A Day at the Races. While the film has many wonderful gags the best part is the dance sequence done by the Crinoline Choir and a crowd of incredibly tallented dancers who do a jump jive dance number a good decade ahead of popular culture.

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Steps: 6000

 

Birthday Boy: 03/20/05

Today is Ian's birthday and we celebrated with a romantic dinner at Shiro's while his parents babysat Sean for us. Ian had the salmon on potato pancake for his appetizer and Mexican shrimp for the entre. I had the Dunginess crab salad on cucumber noodles and the Sonoma duck in orange and ginger sauce. For dessert we had wonderful chocolate mousse cake with coffee ice cream and some of the best coffee we've ever drunk.

While the dinner wasn't that long (we were only gone for an hour and a half) it felt much longer. It was nice to reminisice about of fourteen years together. It was also nice to have adult talk (even though we enjoy Sean's company).

When we got home Sean was still awake and ready for a bath. It was the best of both worlds — a romantic dinner with my husband — and the nightly bedtime ritual with our son.

Deadwood:

After Sean went to bed we watched Deadwood on HBO, a show we would otherwise not watch as we don't have cable. I enjoyed the episode we saw because it did provide a more well rounded representation of what a frontier town was like but it still has some problems. The first thing I noticed was the awkward pacing of the dialogue. Granted, language changes over time and some bits of American English were more formal than today but Deadwood makes the mistake of over playing these differences and either the director is forcing the actors to slow down or they are having trouble wrapping their tongues around the dialogue. Then these slow bits are completely shot to bits by long strings of swearing. Fuck seems to be the word of choice and the actors have no trouble with that word. I was getting whiplash from the starts and stops in the dialogue.

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Steps: 5000

 

Drive-Drive: 03/19/05

We took longer getting out the door for our drive down to South Pasadena than we had wanted. By the time we were done with breakfast, it was nearly noon! Fortunately traffic was light and other than one stop for gas and one stop for a bathroom break near the end of the trip we didn't need to stop. We ended up making up our lost time and arrived just past five! We were all exhausted and it felt more like we had flown cross country than driven down the state. But it was great to see Ian's parents again and Sean was thrilled to see his grandparents after two weeks of counting down to today.

Duck Soup:

"Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you'll duck soup for the rest of your life." Or take four fried people, one stinky dog and a DVD player. We watched Duck Soup after Sean went to bed. While I'm not sure if I've seen the film in its short entirety before I've seen every single gag from it. It certainly inspired a lot of other comedians, filmmakers and animators over the years.

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Steps: 3000

 

Dish Washer: 03/18/05

The new dishwasher is installed and it runs beautifully. It's so much quieter than the old one that always sounded like it was ready to blow up when it was running. The man who installed it came later than expected and was still there when Sean and I got home. The dispatcher had over booked him and he still had one more installation to do when he left our place at 6:30.

Car Washer:

No, not really, but it is raining again. It's been threatening to since Wednesday. Finally this morning just as we started our commute the rain started to fall. Fortunately we didn't see any accidents nor any insane driving. Maybe after such a wet winter people are finally learning how to drive in the rain (at least for this season). Or maybe all the bad drivers have already crashed?

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Steps: 3000


Two Days until Grandma-Grandpa and Wally Dog: 03/17/05

Sean has been counting down the days (with help from me) until our trip down to South Pasadena. He's so excited to see "Grandma-Grandpa and Wally dog." I'll have to remember to pack a back of his favorite books to read on the trip as the drive takes between five and seven hours.

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Steps: 3000


<"davinci.html">Da Vinci Code: 03/16/05

I think I'm one of the last few people to have not read The Da Vinci Code but I'm now reading it thanks to a book ray I'm on through Book Crossing. I'm thoroughly sucked into the book, reading 50 to 100 pages a night before bed. It's akin to other thrillers I've enjoyed: Day After Tomorrow, Valhalla Rising and Raise the Titanic (or any other Clive Cussler book). It's just as charmingly silly and outrageously unbelievable as the other thrillers I've read and it has the added bonus of the art history angle.

Memory Box:

My favorite morning show is on a two week hiatus and in the meantime I've been listening to a couple of other local radio stations. The one I've been listening to most often is a publicly run big band station. They play any and all music from the advent of radio to before the advent of the electrical guitar so it's more diverse (for good and bad) than just big band.

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Steps: 3000


Ten Little Lady Bugs: 03/15/05

Last night Sean read (recited) Ten Little Lady Bugs to me three times. It was the first time he's ever read a story to me! It touched me and he was so pleased with himself. I look forward to further bedtime stories from Sean.

Physical Geography:

Sean has noticed the tides as we cross the bay. Last week the bay was at low tide with lots of mud showing at the two shores. This week we are in a high tide cycle. Sean calls the tides: "No waters" and "Lots of waters."

 

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Steps: 3500


Back to Work: 03/14/05

It's Monday again so I'm back to work. Next Monday we'll be at my in-laws to celebrate Ian's birthday. It will be nice to have a couple days off from work.

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Steps: 4000


Castle Swing Slide: 03/13/05

"Castle Swing Slide" is Sean's name for San Felipe Park. He thinks that the climbing structures look like castles. He and I spent an hour and half playing there. We brought along his base ball which we tossed back and forth. He's slowly getting coordinated enough to catch the ball but he needs more practice. It doesn't seem to bother him that he doesn't often catch the ball. We also played tag and "big hop" where one stands on the edge of something and tries to do a standing jump as far as possible. Of course he also did a lot of climbing, sliding and swinging. It was a full day of play!

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Steps: 5500


Dead Dishwasher: 03/12/05

Our dishwasher's pump had a stroke and had to be put out of its misery. Ian bought a new one today and we'll hopefully get it installed sometime next week. We didn't especially like the old one and it had been giving an ominous death rattle the last few months but it would have been nice if it had lasted a little longer.

The Pickle Plant:
I had to bring in my Christmas cactus to rescue it from the squirrels. It's been chewed to bits. I've put it on the dining room table for now so it can grow new leaves if I can convince Caligula that it isn't edible. Otherwise I'll have to get a plant hanger for the pot to put it somewhere out of the cat's way.

Anyway, Sean took an interest in the cactus. He gave it a quick touch and asked earnestly, "Pickles?"

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Steps: 7500

 

The Lady or the Tiger: 03/11/05

Sean was beset with the toddler version of the lady or tiger at preschool. Normally on Fridays he goes in via the house's front door as he's the only one to attend but today one of the other boys was also there which meant that the daycare door was open! He had already gotten himself geared up for the front door and was now faced with two options: front door (as it was Friday) or regular door (because preschool was officially open).

Now in the Lady or the Tiger story, it's never stated which door the protagonist takes. I can now tell you how it really ends. The brave hero, so throughly annoyed by the option of two doors and the complete unfairness of it all, throws himself down on the ground in front of both of them and starts crying. At least, that's what Sean did. I then carried him through the "regular" door and left him to finish his tantrum. We didn't see any tigers.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat:

I just realized that I'm wearing a bit of fashion poetry today quite by accident. I'm wearing my favorite pussy cat shirt (nine white cats in a three by three grid) and my owl socks.

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Steps: 3500


The Moon: 03/10/05

This morning Ian hung Sean's moon poster on the wall next to his Snoopy clock. He was very pleased to see it hanging in his room. We have an old star chart poster that we might also hang in his room since he likes the moon poster so well.

The Sun:

We had a beautiful sunny drive this morning to preschool and work. Sean gave a running commentary on all the wonders of this almost spring day:

  • Yellow sun
  • Blue sky
  • Pretty red flowers
  • Green grass
  • Sea gulls -- "Mine. Mine. Mine."
  • Hawk -- "Smeeee!"
  • Water (the bay)

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Steps: 4200


Sean's List of Things To Do: 03/09/05

Sean loves the Frog and Toad stories and one of those is "The List." Last night on the way home with a blanket over his head (ala Toad in "Spring") Sean announced that he had a list of things to do. His list included:

  1. Mama saying "Hello Frog." (which I did)
  2. Go Home
  3. See Daddy and Caligula Cat
  4. Eat Dinner
  5. Watch Shrek or "Mama's Cats" (Gay Purr-ee)
  6. Brush Teeth
  7. Find Daddy (we play a quick game of hide and seek before bed)
  8. Go to bed

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Steps: 2500


Five Hours of Night Terrors: 03/08/05

Sean had his worst round of night terrors last night having one an hour from ten o'clock until three o'clock. We finally got him fully awake at three. Ian was holding him and walking back and forth in the hallway. Sean woke up, looked around and promptly stopped crying (after having screamed like he was being mortally wounded for the last five hours on and off). He looked around, rubbed his eyes and said in his usual cheery voice, "I want to go back to bed."

This morning Ian and I are complete zombies and Sean like a true night terror sufferer was completely well rested and cheerful. I'm glad at least one of us got good sleep last night. I hope he doesn't go through it again tonight.

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Steps: 2500


First BBQ: 03/07/05

Last night we had our first barbecue of the year. Ian did one of his barbecued chickens where he takes a can of tomato sauce in which he adds spices and then puts the opened can up the backside of the chicken. Then he stands the chicken upright in the barbecue and closes the lid. He lets it cook for one hour. It is delicious!

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Steps: 3300


Ten Little Lady Bugs: 03/06/05

Sean is currently enamored with a counting book called Ten Little Lady Bugs. I've ordered a used copy to add to Sean's collection because he's so in love with it. Currently we only read it when we can get into the museum at Sulphur Creek. Yesterday though there was a birthday party and Sean was very disappointed that he coun't read the book. "I just want Ten Little Lady Bugs" he moaned while I tried to entertain him with the owls and the eagle. The magpy did finally get Sean laughing a little but it wasn't the sort of trip he had hoped for.

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Steps: 3200


Little Piggies: 03/05/05

I heard Sean tonight doing his version of "This Little Piggy." His version goes from the little toe out to the big toe:

Little Piggy to Market
Little Piggy Goes Home
Little Piggy Has Rice
Lilttle Piggy Has None
Lilttle Piggy Wee All Way Home

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Steps: 4000

 

Strange Epic Dream: 03/04/05

I was at a huge Shinto temple in northern Japan. I was about to cross the bridge over a river to the main temple that was built into the mountainside next to the river when I saw two other Caucasians whom I instantly recognized as Idun (Goddess of Immortality) and Thor (God of Thunder). They held a spherical Chinese puzzle box which contained the imprissioned Loki.

I stole the Loki-ball from them in hopes of letting Loki out and ran into the temple. I ran through the temple and down through five floors until I cam to the bottom of the temple. I ran through a connecting hallway to a guest services building. It contained two restaurants, an American style Japanese restaurant (with booths to sit in and California rolls on the menu) and a Japanese restaurant (sort of a noodle bar / sushi bar). I tried to hide in the sushi bar but the two gods found me. Their eyes were red with anger, resembling those of a wolf.

Thor wanted to take his revenge on me there but Idun held his arm back, forcing him to lower his hammer. She told me there was no where I could run and I should give them pack the Loki-ball. I did.

They took my hands and then we were in a small North Dakota town to return the Loki-ball to the Mayor. Since when do Norse gods live in North Dakota? And what were they doing in Japan?

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Steps: 4000


What Time is it? 03/03/05

My grandfather gave Sean a nice check along with his card for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately at the time we were all sick with the flu. Over the last weekend Ian and Sean had found a nice poster of the moon but we still had some money left over. I've been trying to decide what to get Sean and yesterday I found the perfect gift — a talking and singing owl clock!

The owl sits where a cuckoo would normally sit on a clock and it tells the time to whatever it's set. Then when the clock plays music, the owl's beak lights up. For older children there's also a quiz mode where one sets the time to whatever the owl asks for.

When I unpacked the clock yesterday Sean absolutely lit up. He looked liked he had won the lottery. He very quickly figured out how to set it to 8 o'clock and he won't let Ian or me play with it. "No; MY owl clock!" So it's definitely a hit.

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Steps: 4200


Good to be Walking: 03/02/05

Now that I'm feeling better (not perfect but significantly better) I'm walking again. It's amazing how much the neighborhood can change in three weeks time. The Walgreen's remodel is complete. It took them almost a year to do the remodel but the store and the parking lot look nice now.

Down the street the old Farmer's Insurance building has been gutted and the patio torn up. I had a brief vision of a Starbucks going into the location as it's on a corner and is the size of a typical Starbucks but I honestly don't know what is going into the location. Whatever is going in is keeping the basic shell of the building (all exterior walls) and a simplified interior layout.

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Steps: 6200


Grandma, Grandpa and Wally-Dog: 03/01/05

Sean's thrilled that we'll be driving down to see Ian's parents in about three weeks. He talks about seeing Grandma, Grandpa every day. Today when I told him we were going to their house (rather than them coming up here) he added, "See Wally dog?"

Wally, a bouvier des Flanders, is about 2 1/2 times Sean's size but he's gentle and Sean doesn't seem to mind having to look up to a dog (even though all the other dogs Sean has known have been toy breeds). Sean thinks Wally is silly and funny (true).

Mama-Grandma aka Other Grandma:

Then on April 1st, my mother (or a Sean calls her, Mama-Grandma or Other Grandma) is coming up to visit. Originally it was to baby sit Sean while day care is closed but we will be moving Sean to a day care near home and they will be open that week. So instead, I'm taking the day off to spend with the two of them. Perhaps we'll go for a walk at the Hayward Interpretive Center.

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Steps: 13350