Monday, February 28, 2011

Culebra, PR

Aunt Jessie sent this postcard to the Bug and the Bunny from her recent trip to Puerto Rico.  Culebra, a small island off the east coast of PR, also happens to be one of Joker and my favorite spots - we had a super fun dive trip there a few years ago.  Good diving, beautiful beach (with tanks), giant pina coladas and a friendly black kitty-cat we called Stringy.  I don't think Jessie befriended the same feline, but the rest of her trip sounded pretty fantastic nonetheless!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Diving in Cozumel

One of the highlights of our Cozumel trip was the diving.  Joker and I got to do four dives, and Columbia Wall was particularly spectacular - among the best we've ever done!  One of the guys on that dive had a camera and was generous enough to share some of his pictures with us.  The photos don't do it justice, but they are a fun reminder of a great trip!

Columbia Wall is absolutely breathtaking - great fish action, beautiful corals and rock formations - it's got the whole package.  The swim-throughs are fun, too!

Apparently the Cozumel reefs have had a recent problem with lion fishes, so divemasters kill any that they find.  Joker spotted this one hiding in a swim-through, and after his execution he became a snapper's morning snack.

Turtles and spotted eagle rays are always dive highlights, and we had the great fortune to see several of each. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Farewell, My Lovely

Raymond Chandler is synonymous with the hardboiled detective genre.  His protagonist, Phillip Marlowe, is dry, sarcastic, self-effacing and a damn fine private eye.  He's a compelling character, and far more complex and interesting than a first glance may indicate.  The novels are filled with sex, drugs, beautiful women, con men, murder, extortion... and they were written 70+ years ago.

Farewell, My Lovely was Chandler's second novel, coming on the heels of the more highly-regarded The Big Sleep.  The book opens with Marlowe being inadvertently drawn (or, more precisely, dragged) up the stairs into a black nightclub by the enormous ex-con Moose Malloy.  Moose starts some trouble here, ending in the accidental murder of one of the club's managers, when he finds his old flame Velma is gone.  Though the case gets handed over to the cops (on account of the murder), Marlowe finds himself tracking down the owners of the club that had been in the location prior - a white nightclub where Velma's singing was a prime attraction.

After poking around for a day or two, Marlowe gets a seemingly unrelated call from a potential client.  Lindsay Marriott is looking for a wingman - a bodyguard - for a tryst with some jewel thieves.  Despite his suspicions as to the merits of this case, Marlowe takes in anyway. Which, incidentally, is par for the course for him.  He tries to unravel one case, while the other pulls him back in.  Whether or how they are related isn't revealed until the last pages of the book, but the adventure gets Marlowe tangled up with organized crime, the drug trade, a couple of beautiful (potentially shady) women, more murders and more run-ins with Moose Malloy.  It's a fun and fast read, and if you haven't read anything by Chandler it's a great place to start.

Up next: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  It's long - over 800 pages - but I get the feeling it's a good one;10 pages in and I am transfixed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All you need is love

So I think the holiday is inane, but all the same... Happy St. Valentine's Day!

I spent about 3 1/2 hours this morning working with the Bug on her valentines for school - she had to "sign" 20 of them.  Plus, the ones we bought only had 8 envelopes for about 25 cards (WTF??), so we had to improvise the rest by folding them shut and securing with tape.  Luckily, the Bug is in a major tape phase right now. But still - 3 1/2 hours?  Wow.

One day last week, she brought this card home from school.  She made it for the Bunny.  And she signed her name at the bottom.  I think it's awesome.

Unrelated P.S.  The Bunny thinks she knows where her various body parts are.  When you ask where her tummy is, she lifts up her shirt and points at her belly button.  But, when you ask where her nose is, she does the same thing.  Hilarious, but not necessarily a sign of advanced intellectuality at work. 

P.P.S., also unrelated.  So my brother's wife is pregnant with twins, bringing my Sisters-in-law With Twins percentage to 100.  Awesome, right?!!  Also, pretty freaky.  Does this mean I'm totally doomed if I get pregnant again?  Or is it the opposite - too close for comfort is actually within the safety zone - no way I'd get hit, too?  I could argue this one either way.  Nonetheless... Congrats, Shane & Ali!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood's Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin started a little slowly for me.  The elderly Iris Chase Griffin begins telling the story of her sister Laura's 1945 suicide.  We then read several newspaper clips about Laura's death and other subsequent events.  We are then introduced to the novel-within-a-novel, also called The Blind Assassin, written by Laura and published posthumously by Iris.  The set-up is complicated, but what results is an expertly woven tapestry, a brilliant novel and a perfect illustration of why I read. 

In order to properly tell the story of Laura's death, Iris must first tell of their childhood.  The two sisters grew up as the affluent heirs to the Chase Button Factory, an unglamorous but prosperous business started by the girls' grandfather in the fictional Ontario town of Port Ticonderoga.  Laura exhibits strange behavior and obsession from an early age, and Iris is often in the role of her younger sister's protector.  During the Depression, the family's fortunes go dramatically southward, leaving Iris to bear much of the financial burden for both young women.  While Iris is forced to grow up too quickly, Laura remains childlike in many ways. 

Laura's novel tells the story of two unnamed lovers who meet for secretive trysts whenever they are able.  He is a poor maybe-Commie, hiding from the law and from his debtors.  She is a wealthy (presumably married) socialite, desperately in love with this mysterious man.  At its publication it caused a great deal of uproar because of its graphic (for the time) sexuality, and Laura has since become something of a cult feminist hero.

As the two stories are told, the Chase sisters' complicated relationship, and their relationships with the novel's supporting characters, are slowly revealed.  Iris's present-day worries of an ordinary older woman provide further insight into her character.  As each layer is revealed, the reader is given a further glimpse into these fascinating lives.  This is a book that makes reading a pleasure.

Next up: I'm almost finished with Raymond Chandler's Farewell My Lovely

Sunday, February 6, 2011


We spent the last week on a fabulous beach vacation in Cozumel, Mexico.  Mima arranged for my siblings and our families to all surprise Boppie for his 60th birthday - what a blast!

The girls could not get enough of the beach - they loved playing in the waves and the sand, and our castles were admired by every passerby.  They played in the pool, ate their weight in watermelon and pineapple, and were so tuckered out by the end of the day they fell asleep at dinner every night.

Thanks, Mom, for a truly memorable trip!!