Monday, August 30, 2010

My Town Monday: Wild Fire in San Diego County

In San Diego County, Fire Season starts at the beginning of the summer and runs through Halloween. Not to say, wildfires don't burn at other times of the year. That's just our "official" season.

We don't get a lot of rain here, about 10 inches annually. So you can imagine the state of our brush: dry and parched. Add in hot Santa Ana winds that blow in from the desert, lightning, sparks from machinery, arson, cigarettes, and campfire, and we're a tinderbox.

This past Friday, Child #4 invited a friend over for a swim. The friend lives three or four blocks from us. Below is the view from my car as I waited for the girls to gather up the friend's belongings. I took all the photos with my Blackberry.

At first, I could only see smoke from this wildfire. There are houses below it. I'm sure people were evacuated.

After a gust of wind, the fire spread along the ridge and I could see orange flames. It's frightening how quickly a wildfire can race out of control.

When we got home, our backyard was filled with the sounds of sirens and helicopters. We could see the helicopters too, flying into the smoke and dropping either water and/or flame retardant chemicals. This photo was taken from my backyard, about 45 minutes after the first photo. You can see the wildfire is now contained. Phew.

Please check out the links to the other My Town Monday posts on the official My Town Monday blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Checking In....

Oh my, but it's tough to blog regularly in the summer.

Here's what I've been up to most recently.

Back-to-school shopping. And back-to-school haircuts. School resumes September 7th for us.

Beginning to fill out college apps and write college essays with Child #2

Buying a used car for Child #2 to drive (Thanks, Kelly!) Biting knuckles when said child is out tooling around in said vehicle.

Proofing the galleys for I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS

Staying cool

I do have a My Town Monday post for, uh, Monday. ;)

And I'm hosting The Book Review Club on this blog on Wednesday.

I hope you're all enjoying the end of August. Heading back to my offline activities...

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Town Monday: WWII Bomber Raised from Murky Depths in San Diego, CA

On May 28, 1945, a couple of pilots were flying a practice run in a SB2C-4 Helldiver bomber plane. The engine stalled (a common default in these planes). The plane ended up at the bottom of the Lower Otay Reservoir (not far from the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, the subject of Mon., Aug. 9's post).

(You can breathe a sigh of relief; this is a happy post. The two pilots surived. In fact, one of them is now about 90 years old and living in Michigan.)

Okay. Cut to present day. A couple of bass fishermen are out doing their thing. They have a nifty electronic fish finding device. (This has got to make fishing more enjoyable!) One of them notices a plane's tail poking up through the silt in the Reservoir, about 85 feet down.

An underwater robot was sent down to take video. The video was dispatched to the Navy who, after watching it, knew they wanted this plane. They sent 12 Navy divers.

It took a couple of days to dig the plane out of the silt. This past Friday, a crane slowly lifted the rare WWII bomber from the water and set it on blocks.

There are only a few of these planes on display in museums around the country. Most of them were crashed or were shot down during World War II. We're hoping to display the aircraft in San Diego. It'll cost about $400,000 to restore.

This all goes to show that you never know . . . what's lurking beneath the surface! (Wasn't that a smooth way to remind you of last week's Great White Shark post!

Click here for links to more My Town Monday posts. (Thanks Clare2e for hosting this week) Also, if you're even marginally thinking about writing a My-Town-Monday post, please do! Throw up your post, then leave a comment here or in the comment section of this week's Women of Mystery MTM post, which, by the way, is interesting and about rocking the libraries in Bound Brook, New Jersey.

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Introducing JoJo! This is the stuffed animal my wonderful Uncle Billy hopped off the streetcar to buy on the way to hospital to meet me for the first time. JoJo was very well made; he has stood the test of time! :)

Here I am, back in the day. (I'm on my way to that same uncle's wedding, I think.)

I prefer Baskin Robbins turtle pie over birthday cake. I hope Mr. Summy checks the blog today!

According to an online astrology site, I will be "especially cooperative and positive this year." So, Summy family and friends, you have that to look forward to!

Sending birthday wishes also to my cousin Trudey, Robert Redford, and Edward Norton.

Rock on, August 18th!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Town Monday: Great White Shark, La Jolla, CA

I had an entirely different My Town Monday post planned for today. Then I thought you might like to see what's actually in our headlines.

Taken with my Blackberry (Kidding! This delightful shot is from Google images.)

Yesterday, a great white shark was spotted outside the SURF line (edited. thanks Anon) at La Jolla Shores. Which is only the beach I usually go to with my kids! A kayaker saw the shark and reported it was longer than his TWELVE-FOOT kayak! Lifeguards informed people along a two-mile stretch of beach. Most people opted to stay out of the water. Imagine!

Here's a link to a fatal great white shark attack at Solana Beach (about 12 miles north of La Jolla) in the spring of 2008. Prior to this, there hadn't been an attack for about 50 years. So, you can see that we generally don't have much trouble with great whites.

A few facts about the great white shark:
-It's the largest predatory fish in the ocean.
-It has a white belly.
-It attacks by biting its prey, letting it bleed out, then returning to eat it.
-Gestation may last longer than a year.
-Life span is over 30 years.
-This shark is found in all our oceans.
-This shark doesn't like to eat humans.The adults do like to munch on marine mammals (like sea lions and elephant seals)

Have you heard of the White Shark Cafe? It's located in the Pacific Ocean, between Baja California (part of Mexico) and Hawaii, in the winter and spring. No one knows why the great whites congregate here. It's not for the gourmet food. There's not much food at all here for them. It's not a mating area. Juveniles as well as adult males and females hang out at the White Shark Cafe. A popular shark activity at the Cafe is to dive down 1,000 feet every ten minutes. No one knows why. Creeeepy.

From Google images (I knew you wouldn't fall for the Blackberry line again!)

And, in case you were wondering, the Summy family will not be at the beach today.

Check out these other My Town Monday posts:

Clair Dickson: Chains that no longer come or never came to Livingston County, Michigan

J. Winter: The Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, Cincinnati, Ohio (repost)

Gabe Goldstone: The Countess of Dufferin, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

This week, I'm the hostess with the mostest for My Town Monday. So, if you've put up a MTM post, let me know in the comments section here or on the official My Town Monday blog. And I'll link to you on both blogs. Happy Monday!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So Not an Empty Nester!

Something unexpected has happened in my little house.

Most of the family left yesterday for Oklahoma. Child #3 is going beach camping with family friends for a few days (fingers crossed for no bee incidents!).

All this means....

I am all alone in the house for FOUR WHOLE DAYS!

I cannot even remember the last time this happened.

Will I experience empty-nest syndrome?

N-O spells no!

I will clean my house. Once. I will turn off ESPN and the Disney channel and XBox.

Then, Dorothy the dog curled up at my side, I will rock gently in my favorite chair, and read JULIET, NAKED by Nick Hornby.*

I will experience quiet-uncluttered nest syndrome. :)

* I'm sure I'll do a lot more than read over the course of four days. But all will be done in peace and quiet.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Town Monday: US Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista, CA

I spent BEAUCOUP hours this past weekend on a pool deck with Child #3 in Chula Vista for a swim meet. BEAUCOUP. As in, I'm quite possibly in contention for Mother of the Weekend. :)

Chula Vista means "beautiful view" in Spanish. It's located about 11 miles south and a little bit east of downtown San Diego and about 7 miles north and a little bit west of Tijuana, Mexico. Chula Vista is the 2nd largest city in San Diego County with a population of around 200,000, 50%-ish is hispanic/latino.

Forbes Magazine described Chula Vista as one of the most boring American cities. Ouch.

Anyway, I disagree. Chula Vista is home to OnStage Playhouse, one of my favorite local community theatres. Not to mention a pretty cool nature center, a heritage museum, the Cricket amphitheater, and Knott's Soak City (more of interest to the Summy children than to their mother). No doubt I'll visit a couple of these for future My Town Monday posts.

Today, though, it's all about the US Olympic Training Center. Child #3 and I stopped by here after the meet.

Before I forget, on Tuesday through Saturday, there are tours led by an athlete. Here's the general info: 2800 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista, CA 91915-6007. 619-656-1500. Okay, onto some info. This facility is for the development of America's Olympians (future and current) in many sports such as, archery, rowing, canoe/kayak, soccer, softball, field hockey, tennis, track & field, bobsledding, luge, rugby, tri-athalon and cycling. About 4,000 athletes train here each year. Apparently, the BMX competition events are super exciting to watch.

The complex is on 150 acres, is open year round and, of course, has our magnificent weather. The center was a gift to the United States Olympic Committee from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation.

If you look closely (with a mega-strong magnifying glass), you can see a very tired (and cute) swimmer on the left.

I tried to snap a picture of Child #3 swimming the butterfly. But, alas, he was too fast!

Click here for links to more My Town Monday posts. Thanks to Travis Erwin for hosting this week. Also, if you're even marginally thinking about writing a My-Town-Monday post, please do! Fair warning, though, it's addictive! Write your post, then leave a comment on the official My Town Monday blog so we can get a link up to you.

Oh yeah, all the photos were taken with my trusty Blackberry.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Book Review Club (August 2010)

Welcome one and all to the twentieth meeting of The Book Review Club. The TWENTIETH! Twenty is such a big number.

Here we are at the beginning of August. Which means there's a whole month left of summer and, hopefully, bunches of leisurely reading time. We've got some great book reviews this month. So have a seat and start scrolling. You're sure to find something that grabs you.

THE FAMILY MAN by Elinor Lipman

I read every novel by Elinor Lipman that I can get my hands on. Why? Her books make me feel good. Why else? I'm a people person. Her books are character driven. Also, Ms. Lipman's books have unexpected twists and turns. And they end happily (which really means a lot to me during these days of raising teens).

From the Amherst Bulletin:

THE FAMILY MAN is the story of Henry Archer, a divorced gay man who reconnects with his long-lost stepdaughter, Thalia. The book opens with Henry's phone call to Denise, his ex-wife and Thalia's mother; Thalia's father had been Denise's first husband. Then there was Henry, who had still been in the closet at the time. Now, Denise Krouch - the grasping, grating Denise - has just lost the husband she'd dumped Henry for years earlier.

Henry and Thalia's story of forging a new, loving bond is the backdrop for other goings-on. Thalia, an aspiring actress, is hired by a public relations firm to pretend to be the girlfriend of a horror movie actor whose career badly needs a boost from the tabloids. Henry, meanwhile, falls in love with Todd, who sells table settings at a Manhattan store. And Denise, after adopting a greyhound, is on the prowl for a new husband.

This is a good summing up of the plot, but doesn't give you a sense of how very special Elinor Lipman's writing is. Her stories are humorous, have perfect dialogue and offer just the right amount of detail so that you can imagine yourself in the scene.

For example, when Henry first goes to his ex-wife's house, he sees a recent photo of Thalia, the long-lost stepdaughter, and realizes that he has seen her recently but didn't recognize her. From pages 7-8: She is the unfailingly friendly girl behind the half door who hangs up his jacket and offers the coral smock before Giovanni cuts his hair. She is the coat-check girl with the big brandy sifter at her elbow in which he places oen dollar as he collects his outerwear and she tell him that this is a very good cut for him.

See what I mean about Elinor Lipman? Don't you just want to while away a summer afternoon stretched out on a lawn chair, a frosty drink in one hand and a few hundred pages of prose like that in the other?

Here's a delightful interview with Elinor Lipman, where she shares some details regarding the writing of THE FAMILY MAN.

Now, without further ado, let's have a drumroll for the following amazing reviews from amazing reviewers!! Please, please visit. You won't be sorry.


Sarah Laurence: TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord (middle grade)

Stacy Nyikos: A STEP FROM HEAVEN by An Na (middle grade)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Young Adult)

Keri Mikulski: FIRST KISS (THEN TELL) and THE YEAR WE WE DISAPPEARED by Cylin Busby (both books are young adult)

Thao of serene hours: THE PIPER'S SON by Melina Marchetta (young adult)


Patti Abbott: THE IMPERFECTIONISTS by Tom Rachman

Jenn Jilks of My Muskoka: THE DEATH DEALER by Heather Graham (romantic thriller)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer (romance)

Kathy Holmes: MY FAKE FIANCEE by Nancy Warren (romance)

Linda McLaughlin: LESSONS IN FRENCH by Laura Kinsale (historical romance)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens (suspense)

Beth Yarnall: HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER by Kate Carlisle (mystery)

Stacy of the Cat's Meow: ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni



**Exceptional previous reviews are only a click away.**

Note to Reviewers: You know the drill.:) If I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation pronto. And award myself one less chocolate today!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Town Monday: Pine Hill Egg Ranch, Ramona, CA

Last Monday, I blogged about a visit to the Julian Tea and Cottage Arts. On the way back home, we stopped at the Pine Hill Egg Ranch in Ramona because my friend, Christina, was determined to find . . .

DOUBLE-YOLKED EGGS!! Well, find them we did! At the above location for about $2.00/dozen.

Doubled-yolked eggs?! I had never heard of the beast until Christina came up with the crazy quest. But, according to the sales person behind the counter, a pullet (hen under a year old) first lays very small eggs followed by a couple of weeks of double yolkers.

While poking around on the internet, I found some other interesting and odd facts about eggs:
-Hens that eat garlic, fish or fruit will lay yucky-tasting eggs.
-There is such a thing as a double-shelled egg.
-And there are even shell-less eggs.
-From the Guiness Book of Records: The world's largest chicken egg had FIVE yolks and a diameter of 9 inches. The world's heaviest egg weighed ONE POUND and had both a double yolk and a double shell.
-An egg without a yolk is called a "fart egg." (This term will be the source of much amusement among the Summy children.)

By the way, it's very hard to crack a double yolker without breaking one of the yolks.

A double-yolked egg (left) is much larger than its normal counterpart (right egg, Large, Grade A).

Please appreciate how much self-control I exercised in not ending with a yolk/joke line!

Click here for links to more My Town Monday posts. Also, if you're even marginally thinking about writing a My-Town-Monday post, please do! Fair warning, though, it's addictive! Write your post, then leave a comment on the official My Town Monday blog so we can get a link up to you.