Saturday, May 23, 2009

Literary characters you just can't quit

My mother was a young and overwhelmed mother of four when I was a kid, so I often felt her attention was elsewhere. (Don't cry for me, Argentina; I think many middle kids can relate.) But I do have a few very clear, specific memories of expressions of her love for me and of attention she paid me.

One memory is of being in Lawrence, Kansas, where we had to go for the day for some reason having to do with my father and the University of Kansas, where he was a grad student. It was an extremely hot day, crayons were melting tragically in the car, and she and I (and presumably, my siblings) were killing time in a bookstore. And it was there that she bought me what may have been my first Nancy Drew book.

You have to understand that my daughter had in her room, by age four, more possessions than I accumulated in my life until about age 18. So this was a significant gift.

More importantly, that was the start of (and the continuation of, ancestrally speaking) a lifelong love of the Nancy Drew character and, in fact, of all sleuths. Others I've loved include author Jonathan Kellerman's psychologist/protagonist Alex Delaware; Sue Grafton's adorable minimalist, Kinsey Millhone; and, more recently, the various and sundry characters in the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child series of books.

Especially Agent Pendergast (sigh...). On the one hand, he's James Bond. On the other, he's kind of a freaky dude who has silvery-blue eyes, super-pale skin and descends from a wealthy New Orleans family with a very checkered past. But if you were ever trapped in the Museum of Natural History in New York with a bizarre creature from the rainforest chasing you through the vast underground storage areas, Agent Aloysius Pendergast is the one you'd want running alongside you.

Trust me.

So it's always with a mixture of thrill and despair that I greet the publication of the latest in these two authors' series. This past week, I got my copy of "Cemetery Dance" in the mail and now I'm writing this blog post so that I won't have to finish the last 1/6 of it and shut the covers, knowing I have to wait another 18 months or so for the next one to appear.

Isn't that the greatest thing about reading? Discovering characters who come to permanently inhabit the mind?

Post a comment if you've had a similar experience. Come on...share! Maybe we'll all fall in love with a new fictional character, and you can be the matchmaker.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tackle-It Tuesday

Hmmm... Thinking seriously about joining the other bloggers who have tasks they've been putting off indefinitely who will spend 15 minutes attacking it today. Not sure about posting before-and-after photos, but I can tell you that there's a big pile of STUFF on the antique desk in the master bedroom that has been there since the dawn of time. (I think it should seriously be considered a candidate for the place Jimmy Hoffa may have been laid to rest.)

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Anyone with me? What will you spend 15 minutes doing that should have been done long ago? If I'm successful, I'll post a photo. Cheers!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Insanely creative homeowners, please post here

So my journalist husband and I are thinking about bailing out of L.A. after 25-30 years each, including over 10 together and nine with our daughter. Even with the housing downturn and my husband's layoff from a national magazine--a kind of job that's gone forever--our house is still worth enough due to the previous bubble that we can afford to get something a level above our current house if we move to Nashville.

What amazes me as I take virtual house tours online is not that Nashville is full of creative urban types, but by how many of these houses are decorated in an insanely great way. Gorgeous paint on the walls, fabulous bathrooms full of new features that harken back to the 20's and 30's. It seems that each and every house I look at has been tastefully redone in a way I admire.

Just today on Facebook I saw some photos posted by a friend from high school back in West Virginia. Now working for a high-tech company in North Carolina, she is a crazy-good artist in her spare time. Check out the painting she recently did around her house:

I could never do this in a trillion years, but it thrills and humbles me to see Kathy doing this with her home. Anyone out there do something gorgeous or deranged or cool or all three in her own home? I'd love a link, so post in the comments below.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The morning after a sleepover

I'm wondering whether it's possible that one thing that happens to parents of "only" children is that they never grow past the caution of the early days of the first baby, because their first baby is always their first, and last...

Well, whatever the reason, our daughter, who's nine, had her first-ever sleepover with a friend last night. The friend came here (note the caution: we'll try it on the home field first, then see if she's ready to sleep away from us in a strange place without even a grandparent or cousin around).

They had a blast last night, playing Rock Band (the old songs like "Eye of the Tiger" that don't have suggestive lyrics) and watching the brand-new Barbie movie, Thumbelina (which they loved), but here's the rub: the sleepover friend can survive on five hours of sleep, and our daughter can't. She's a 10-1/-hours-of-sleep-a-night girl. Last night they went to sleep at 1:00 and the friend was up at 6:10 while our daughter said "I'm up" about five times and went right back to sleep like a good little narcoleptic.

Right now, after successfully rousing and dressing her and heading to IHOP, our daughter is clearly knackered. Mad Libs have been a disaster. (And DH and I didn't get as much sleep as we should have, either, due to the boisterous activities echoing down the hall.)

Any of you experienced sleepover parents have advice? Do they grow out of their sleep-needs differences? How do you handle the morning after a sleepover?