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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




 

 


Dude WomanDude Woman: 07/31/05

This weekend I finished reading a rather entertaining post-modern western, Dude Woman, by Peter B. Kyne. I'm calling it post-modern because it takes place in the 1930s (contemporary for when it was published), fifteen years after Arizona state hood, so it has all the modern trappings (telephones, cars, etc.) but is still basically a western in that it deals a working ranch and the struggle over the land with a sheriff who is torn between upholding the law and protecting his cattle rustling sons.

 

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Steps: 4000

Grocery Shopping Was Never This Fun: 07/30/05

We went grocery shopping at the store on A street rather than going into Castro Valley. Parking was at a premium at ground level so we parked on the roof. Sean suddenly realized that the otherwise very boring store has two elevators. He was suddenly very excited to go grocery shopping.

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Steps: 7500

Home Sick: 07/29/05

Sean woke us up at five in the morning with a huge diarrhea attack, a stomach ache and a bit of a sore throat. Ian and I have no idea how long he was awake before he managed to wake us up. I don't think it was too long because Ian's usually so quick to hear him. Anyway, Ian and he are home today watching movies and eating "chicken letter soup."

We had to completely change him and his bed sheets last night. Ian took care of starting the laundry and finding new sheets while I cleaned up Sean and got his bed made. While I was getting his bed made, he wandered off to our bed saying that it was too early to get up and he'd sleep in our bed because his bed didn't have any sheep (sheep printed sheets). I told him he had to sleep in his room so he reluctantly came back and sat in his futon chair. "Just tuck me in here. I'm too tired to get up now," he said, pulling his duvet over his feet. He was very relieved once I got his bed made and him tucked into it.

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Steps: 4000

Construction Continued: 07/28/05

When I got home I noticed that construction has in fact begun on our building. A whole chunk of siding by our laundry room and utility closet is now gone. Ian has spoken to the lead contractor and he says our porch will get a well needed third pillar for support. He concurs that it's currently "too bouncy."

"Catch-You" Nuts:

Sean and I both love cashew nuts but he calls them "catch-you" nuts. In the last few weeks he's had an explosion of language. In his process of learning new words (dozens a day) he's making his new words based on words he already knows if they sound similar to him.

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Steps: 4000


Construction Begins: 07/27/05

We had a note taped to our front door that construction would begin on our building today. Last night Ian and I finished clearing and sweeping our patio. Ian hasn't had the promised walk through yet with one of the contractors so he thinks they won't start on our building yet. I figure the first buildings that they worked on showed that their methods are not intrusive enough to cause internal disruptions and have therefore shelved the walk-throughs in a hope to get back on schedule.

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Steps: 4000


First Spare the Air Day: 07/26/05

We're having our first "Spare the Air" day of the summer. The inland east bay area is expecting unhealthy air quality today. Thankfully we live on the bay side of the east bay so we do get a bit of an on shore breeze.

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Steps: 4000

Modge Podge: 07/25/05

It's probably been twenty-five years since I last used Modge Podge but I spent an hour last night working on Sean's gift. The mixture of papers we found look really nice, rather like a quilt covering the wood now. Tonight I need to scan the owl and glue it down to the collage. I think he'll like it because it has his favorite colors and of course an owl. Recently he asked for a special owl picture for his birthday (after I had already decided to make him one)!

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Steps: 4000

A Very Long Train Trip: 07/24/05

It's been a month since we last rode BART down to Fremont. We thought we'd go today. Sunday's are always slow days for BART with fewer trains running but today was worse than usual. For "heightened security" reasons, the line between Hayward and Fremont was only running a single "shuttle" train. Our wait for the train took 45 minutes as we watched three Richmond trains leave the station. Both southbound and northbound traffic was leaving from the northbound track and everyone arriving in the station was asked to get off the trains and transfer to different trains. This lead to huge crowds of confused and grumpy people standing in 80°F or hotter heat. Fortunately whatever the problem was had ended by the time we were done with our trip to Fremont so that we didn't have to repeat the process.

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Steps: 10000

Gas Crisis Solved: 07/23/05

After two and a half days in the shop, Ian's car can now take gasoline again. The door is finally fixed. The cable that connects the lever to the door has a path as convoluted and long as the nerve in a giraffe's neck.

We spent much of the day on the peninsula killing time while we waited for to drop Ian off. We had hoped to escape some of the heat as Pacifica is usually foggy but it wasn't today. It was almost as hot there as it was in Hayward.

Home Again:


Ian's parents called at 9:00 PM to say that they were home from their trip. Welcome home!

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Steps: 10000

The Joker: 07/22/05

I was on my way to get breakfast, taking my usual route through the alley when I came across a discarded Joker action figure. From the way he was laying I could imagine him falling from the roof of a building during a fight with Batman. I didn't see Batman anywhere and I collected up the Joker before any police action figures arrived to take him off to Arkham.

The Joker action figure appears to be in good condition. He just needs a little soap and water to get the dirt of the alley way off of him. Once he's cleaned up, I'll give him to Sean. I suppose then I'll also have to get a Batman for him to play with.

A Found Letter and a Life on Google:

Last night I started working on Sean's birthday present. I'm going to make a plaque which features a scan of a hand drawn owl I bought at a local charity shop. I had thought the picture was a print from a book or perhaps a postcard that had been framed but when I took the back off the frame, I realized it was a card—a thank you note to a grandfather for a wedding gift.

The person who wrote the card gave just enough information for me to find her online via Google and track bits and pieces of her life. She wanted to be a children's book illustrator but that doesn't appear to have worked out (though she did try from the evidence of a broken link). She later turned to sculpture and was at least as of 2004 represented by a gallery in Sacramento. I've also found in-laws that live and work in Sacramento.

I'm still debating whether or not to try contacting them directly to ask if they want the card back (for sentimental reasons) or let it be (I really like the drawing). In the meantime, I'm sticking to my original plan of scanning the drawing as I don't want to ruin it in the art project for Sean's gift but I will also scan the note in the card. It will add some extra meaning to the project. I'll probably put the note on the back of the project. They just belong together.

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Steps: 7000

Gas Crisis: 07/21/05

Ian tried to fill up his gas tank and realized he couldn't. The cable that connects the door to the lever appears to have snapped. He drove the car on fumes to the service station and came home via BART. Fortunately he was able to get a car rental via cell phone on his ride back. The original plan was for me to stay home tomorrow but now I won't. He's now at home with a large minivan.

The good news from all of this is that we'll be able to clear out of storage unit in Daly City and finally get our remaining two bookshelves moved into Ian's hobbit hole office.

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Steps: 7000

One Month to Go: 07/20/05

In one month Sean turns three. It's hard to believe that my baby is now a little boy. The change has happened so gradually. A few nights ago I happened upon some pictures of him at age six months. There he was, chewing on his hand with a bald head and worried brow. I could recognize the features that he has now and could fill in the mop of blond hair that's now on his head but he looked so different!

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Steps: 5200

Owl Salt and Pepper Shakers: 07/19/05

On my walk today I swung by the local resell shop and found an adorable set of owl salt shakers. We currently are using a pair of hippos but Sean is so taken with owls that I had to get them. The pepper shaker has tiny chips off his wing tips but it just shows that they were well used by their previous owners.

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Steps: 6000

Someone Slipped Me a Mickey: 07/18/05

My last dream of last night bothered me. It started off with Ian and me in London at Heathrow airport. We had spent a few days in England and were now going to fly to Italy. Somehow he got on the plane before I did and I had to race to the gate. I got on the plane just before it took off. We had just leveled off with a view of the ocean and a flight attendant had started to serve coffee. While I didn't remember drinking any coffee I suppose I must have because my next realization was that we were now in a bus driving down a European road (French, perhaps?) and not in the airplane. I couldn't remember anything beyond the coffee being served and most of the other passengers hadn't noticed yet that we were in now in a bus. I started to shout to the driver demanding to know what happened but the alarm went off before I got an answer.

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Steps: 6000

Hot Hot Hot!: 07/17/05

Summer has hit with a vengeance. By Sean's bed time, it was 91 degrees Fahrenheit in our living room. We've been doing our best to keep hydrated and we're all dripping with sweat, except for the cat who can't sweat. She's taken permanent residence in her box under the ceiling fan.

The "Phantasl":

Sean's current favorite film is Batman and the Mask of the Phantasm but he can't pronounce "phantasm." He replaces the ending "m" with an "l" and then corrects us if we say it properly. He also sometimes calls the film the "Rabbit Batman" because it opens with Bugs Bunny in front of the Warner Bros.' shield.

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Steps: 6000

Major Service: 07/16/05

Today we had to take Ferdinand in for a long over-due major service. He needed his water pump and timing belts replaced, new fluids and a smog check. We spent much of the day on the peninsula where our car was being worked on. Sean and I met Ian at Barnes and Noble's where he had picked up the latest Harry Potter book for himself (I doubt I'll be reading it any time soon) and a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for Sean (he was thrilled).

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Steps: 6000

Late to Bed; Early to Bed: 07/15/05

Last night Sean stayed up until 9:20, nearly and hour and a half past his normal bed time. Part of the delay was our late dinner. Another part was due to Sean delaying going to bed with all sorts of amusing and equally frustrating techniques.

Shortly after Sean went to bed, Ian and I decided to give up on watching any TV or movies and just read in bed. By ten, we were both asleep!

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Steps: 4500

Happy Anniversary: 07/14/05

If I've counted on my fingers and toes correctly, today is my in-law's 37th anniversary. They are currently touring around Greece and sending the most wonderful email descriptions of their adventures. I'm eagerly awaiting their photographs. They always come home with loads of gorgeous photography.

Tutoring:

A few weeks ago Ian put some flyers up to advertise his services as a tutor at the local university. Yesterday he had his first tutoring session and has another one scheduled on Friday. He apparently has a second interested person so he may end up tutoring three times a week. He came home very happy last night and spent much of the evening talking about how much fun he had tutoring. He really does love to teach.

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Steps: 3000


When Things Appear to Go Wrong (But Don't): 07/13/05

We got a call from the property manager saying the contractors had seen sewage spewing out of our sewer connection. Ian managed to find a plumber to come out and fix the problem only to be told that it wasn't our sewer line that was blocked. It's probably our next door neighbor's line. The lines haven't been used for two years and who knows what's happened to them in that time. So Ian called the management company and told them that it wasn't our line and to call our neighbor. He also told her directly. But what a way to end a day!

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Steps: 3000

Hot and Cold: 07/12/05

We're going through a heat wave during day light hours and through the first half of the night. Then the fog finally makes it over the bay and we end up waking up freezing in our beds. The fog lasts until I get to work and then the heat wave starts up again.

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Steps: 3000


Back to Work: 07/11/05

I'm back at work after our three days of adventuring in northern California. Sean certainly did well on the trip and I think he enjoyed himself. It was wonderful to sleep in our own beds last night, though Sean twice woke us up for drinks of water. I think we're all still a little dried out from the heat and the air conditioning of the trip.

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Steps: 6000


Eureka 07/10/05

Rather than taking the I5 home again, we chose to head west to see some redwoods. We took the 299 which starts in Redding and ends in Humbolt. Fortunately Sean got us up early at 6:30 so we were on the road by 8:30. The drive through the mountains where we followed the gorgeous Trinity River took four hours. We had hoped to get lunch in Eureka but didn't find anywhere interesting to stop. We eventually stopped in Fortuna for lunch.

Ferndale:

On our way to Fortuna, we went five miles out of our way and stopped at Ferndale where we walked around the town (about a mile loop). Ferndale appears to be one of those towns that suffered from a panic attack in the 1950s and decided not to change. The newest building there appears to be the high school which dates from the mid 1950s. Everything else seems to be frozen in time from it's founding in 1852. It had the feeling of one of those towns from the Twilight Zone. It apparently survives on the revenue of the Humbolt county fair, its dairy cows and on being one of those Victorian living museums. I am all for preservation but Ferndale seems stagnant; in many ways no different than Bodie (a ghost town near Mono Lake).

Bald Eagle:

After driving through most of Northern California, it wasn't until we reached northern Sonoma county that we saw a bald eagle. It was sitting on a dead tree (redwood or some other pine tree variety) eating a fish that it was holding in its talons. By then, Sean was sound asleep in the back seat.

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Steps: 6000

Lassen Volcanic National Park: 07/09/05

Sean did really well our first night at the motel. We finally got him to bed at 9 PM and except for waking up twice for drinks of water, he slept through the night. He didn't fall out of bed and we didn't end up keeping him awake, though we did have to go to bed when he did to get him to go to bed.He was our wake up call at about 7:30. He had all of our plans memorized and reminded us of the plan while we got dressed and later while we had breakfast in the motel's breakfast room.

The drive to Lassen took about an hour and a half, again because we made a stop at a rest stop to stretch our legs and to play catch with Sean. Lassen is really easy to find from Redding as the 44 which starts in Redding goes right to the park. Lassen is quite high up which makes sense as it is a series of volcanoes. The visitor's center is 6,000 feet up and the peak where we had lunch is 8100 feet up and still covered in snow!

We stopped at the visitor's center and got a coloring book about volcanoes for Sean. He's really taken with the idea of mountains that explode. We then stopped to take one of the interpretive trails to see the damage from the most recent eruption (1915) and to compare the rocks from that explosion to the previous one (some 2700 years ago). The new rocks are charcoal colored and the old ones are pink.

We then drove up to the highest point and were taken aback at all the snow. We stopped there and had lunch while we watched some braver and better prepared folks try the hike to the peak up the snow. We let Sean try to talk a little bit on the snowy trail but he slipped and fell twice and decided that he hated snow.

Washing with Rainbows:

Before we went to Lassen, we refueled my car and had it washed—something my car has needed for months. If you're ever in Redding, I highly recommend the carwash that is part of the gas station at the corner of Market and California. It's a hand wash / machine wash / hand dry combo. Sean was at first completely put off by the "octopus monster" of the automated washing bit but later was intrigued by the rainbow colored foam sprayed on the car near the end of the process. Throughout the rest of the day Sean would sometimes ask to go back and rewash the car "with rainbows."

Shasta Dam:

After Lassen we asked Sean to take at least a half hour nap. He grudgingly agreed but unfortunately did not fall asleep. Afterwards we drove around town for a book store (Sean's suggestion) and while we did find one it didn't really carry anything of interest to him. So he suggested that we go somewhere to play catch. By the time we got to the park near our motel and on the edge of the Sacramento River he had fallen asleep! Ian and I spent a couple hours driving around to see the local sites and ended up at the Shasta Dam.

By the time we were back to the park Sean was finally awake and we spent an hour playing frisbee. There were numerous butterflies of different types flying around us as we played. Sean doesn't really know how to either catch or throw the frisbee. He prefers to have the frisbee land near him where he'll then fetch it. Then he'll bowl the frisbee to the next person. I accidentally hit him with the frisbee a couple of times (my aim is terrible) and he now has a little bit of a black eye.

Miner's Cafe:

After playing catch we had dinner at the Miner's Cafe which is on corner of the motel. It didn't seem popular with the other guests but it did draw a local crowd. The food is very good and we were all very hungry after a busy day.

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Steps: 6000

Tenth Anniversary: 07/08/05

Ten years ago Ian and I got married today at the Women's Center in South Pasadena. Today we took our son on his first car trip vacation. The drive up to Redding took about five hours but we do tend to make a lot of stops to stretch our legs, take potty breaks, and the like. At one rest stop Sean and I spent a good half hour playing tag.

Redding:

We checked into the Best Western Hospitality House Motel on North Market Street in Redding at about 4 PM. It's not in the main touristy section but it's still nice enough and certainly more affordable than the touristy section. We're near the Sacramento River (though that's hard to avoid as it snakes through Redding). We took a couple hours to relax in our room in the hope that Sean would take a well needed nap. He instead had to explore every inch of our room and try every light switch and bounce on his bed and run laps screaming: "ducka-ducka-ducka" until we gave up and went to dinner at six.

Of course by dinner Sean was out of his mind tired and very grumpy. He had a bit of a melt down while we waited for dinner but after two different walks outside (once with me and once with Ian) he calmed down enough to eat dinner. Turns out he likes fish and chips.

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Steps: 4500

London Bombing: 07/07/05

Woke up this morning to the news of four bombs in London: three on the underground and one on a bus. Ian's parents have fortunately been able to email us to let us know they were okay. They were doing laundry during the mayhem and heard the bus explosion. They'll be heading to Greece tomorrow. My BookCrossing buddies have also checked in and while they are rattled and some of them have had their lives disrupted, they are alive and well. We are still planning to go to the 2012 Olympics.

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Steps: 4500

London 2012: 07/06/05

London has gotten the bid for the 2012 summer Olympics. I'm very excited! That gives me seven years to save up enough money to travel to London and see the Olympics.

Happy Hair:

For whatever reason, my favorite shampoo is not sold here in the Bay Area. I think it's still sold in Southern California but the shampoo disappeared off the shelves up here about three years ago. I finally found a place that will let me mail order the shampoo. Yesterday a box containing five shampoo bottles and four conditioner bottles arrived -- enough to last me through the rest of the year. My hair feels the best it's felt in ages.

Too Much of a Good Thing:

I think our trip to the fair has temporarily cured Sean of his obsession with BART. From an email Ian sent:

Sean was fine--we got dressed and went into school. I think yesterday wore him out a bit--he kept saying "I don't wanna ride the train! I don't wanna ride the bus! I just wanna go to school!"

Sean repeated those sentiments when we picked him up from school.

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Steps: 6000

Back to Work: 07/05/05

I'm back to work after the three day weekend. I didn't sleep well last night. It was just one of those "AWAKE" nights. I got up and chatted with my friend in Wales (where he was up and having breakfast) until 1:30 when I was finally tired enough to go bed. Ian, who is a bit of a night owl anyway, stayed up with me.

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Steps: 4500


The Fair: 07/04/05

We rode public transit out to the Alameda County Fair. We figured Sean would enjoy the ride to and from as much as the actual fair. We could have gotten a direct transfer to and from but we ended up doing a lot of walking to the park and back to the train. It made for an easy 10000 steps except for the heat! We're all a little sunburned now.

At the fair we saw the small animals: chickens, peacocks, goats, rabbits (or ribbits as Sean calls them), geese, ducks, and quail chicks. We also saw a fabulous model train exhibit and had a chance to play with some water pumps. The fair was better than the San Mateo fair but no where near as large or interesting as the Del Mar fair.

When we got back to BART, Sean just wanted to curl up on my lap for a little hug. Our train was tired too. Half of the train decided not to work so our end of the train was decoupled, bringing a 9 car train down to a 4 car train. We had to ride out in the wrong direction (towards Livermore) to get around the dead train cars.

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Steps: 13000

Breakfast Out: 07/03/05

None of us slept well so we had breakfast out instead of Sean and me making biscuits.

How Does the Garden Grow?

Our tomatoes are ripening. We've picked a half dozen of them so far. Sean likes to point them out for me: "The red ones are done growing. The green ones are still growing. Don't pick the green ones."

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Steps: 4500

"I'm a Dolphin": 07/02/05

Sean had so much fun riding on BART and getting new stickers that he didn't nap. He did end up going to bed a little early but I wish he had napped. He really needed the nap. Instead he spent his time stickering up his room and humming. In between humming, he'd say, "I'm a dolphin!" and then go back to saying: "Mmmmm hmmmm mmmm." I guess those were dolphin noises.

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Steps: 10000


Good Sleep: 07/01/05

Sean is back to sleeping well which means we're sleeping better too.

New Neighbor:

Our new next door neighbor is in the process of moving in. She's currently got a group of friends helping her paint. The only trouble is that the construction crews have taken all the guest parking so her friends sometimes park in our spots. We need to get the association to relabel the parking spots with our addresses. So many homes have switched the original assigned spots that the map new owners are giving is rather useless.

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Steps: 4500