Recent Posts

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Big Fat Geek Book Club

I belong to a fantabulous book club. We've been together for almost five years. Our group consists of seven regulars and one honorary member. We're all women. Various backgrounds. Assorted experiences. For most of us, we have faced or are in the midst of challenging circumstances but we are brimming over with a big, fat enthusiasm for life, adventurous books, and fun-loving comraderie. We are spirited, sassy, spontaneous and often downright silly.

Members each take turns hosting our monthly book "gathering" at their home. We all live fairly close to each other so it's easy to get together. We meet at 10:00 in the morning. Unlike many book clubs, our members actually discuss the book at length...for nearly two hours. We all figure that we've taken time to read the book, so why not talk about it and listen to differing perspectives. Some of our best conversations occur when members relate events in the book to our own personal experiences.  The host prepares questions, leads the discussion and keeps the group focused so we don't stray too far off topic. Our group is structured but by no means rigid. We have the most amazing discourses with insightful, thought-provoking and often hilarious give-and-take. We agree to disagree in a congenial manner and we've  learned so much about each other.  Although we were strangers in the beginning, we've now bonded as dear friends.

Our book selections are varied. We don't always choose best sellers. Sometimes we'll pick a geeky classic. Next month, we're reading the Screwtape Letters. I readily admit it was not my choice. But I think it will be an intriguing discussion. We don't always like the book but we do agree to read it and frequently the books we hate offer the most over-the-top discussions.

Our book club has two components. First the book discussion. Then the FOOD. In addition to leading the discussion, the host prepares a lunch for all of us. In the beginning, we decided the "eats" would be a very casual, nothing fancy, non-gourmet, no-pressure type of meal. A simple salad, soup or casserole would suit us just fine. That was in the beginning. Since then, many of our members have taken exquisite pleasure in preparing extravagant and memorable feasts that we're still talking about years later. Many times a member will prepare a lunch that correlates to the theme of the book. Just yesterday, we had a book club gathering where we discussed a book in which the story focused on Chinese culture. Our host prepared a splendid feast of Chinese dishes from egg-drop soup, Chinese veggies, a rice/chicken bamboo shoots entree with home-made almond cookies and Asian pears for dessert. The table was scattered with hundreds of red rose petals for good luck and we each received our own Chinese proverb on a scroll of rice paper. We ate with chop sticks and ended the meal laughing at our quintessential fortune cookie predictions. This is what makes our book club as great and as unique as it is. Another time, our book was a coming-of-age novel about young boys launching amateur space rockets. For lunch, our host served us real astronaut food she'd purchased on the internet, decorated the table with toy space craft, baked cookies in the shape of rockets and sent us all home with goodie bags full of moon rock candies.

We also go on field trips. We went to Chicago last year for a private tour of architectural landmarks that were mentioned in the book we'd read. Another time a member hosted our group in her pitch black basement because the book was about coal miners. For our only light source, she gave us each a small miner's headlight that she'd ordered online. Then she conducted the entire discussion in near darkness as we each held a lump of coal she had given us. It was spooky, absorbing, hilarious and inventive all at the same time. Needless to say, the meeting was unforgettable. As for our honorary member...she works on the day we meet so unfortunately she cannot attend meetings on a regular basis. But she  hosts an annual book/beach/brunch bash at her lake house every summer which is rousing fun for all of us.

I would encourage anyone to start a book club if you're not in one already. It's loads of fun. Members should be committed to attending each meeting but they certainly don't have to be stuffy intellectuals or boring bookheads. The main requirements are a good sense of humor and a willingness to explore different forms of literature. As for me, I don't even like to read that much. I'm in it for the food, the friends and the crazy antics. That reminds upcoming book deals with fear of flying. Hmmmm...anybody up for skydiving lessons? Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Random Thoughts on a 1400 Mile Road Trip

Florida to Michigan. A road trip of nearly 1400 miles. Nine states. Gallons of coffee. An overdose of fast food. Way too many traffic tie-ups. Monotonous highway fatigue. All leading to a weary traveler's quirky random thoughts, observations and no particular order.
  • The American highway system is obsolete, hazardous and just plain screwed up. There is simply not enough concrete to hold the massive amounts of traffic that traverse the interstate routes on a daily basis. When you have more vehicles than a road can accommodate, there's bound to be chaos.
  • The United States desperately needs an efficient, reliable, high-speed rail system like they have throughout Europe.
  • I resolve never ever ever to travel Interstate 95. Bumper to bumper from Florida to the Arctic. Numerous deadly accidents...each grisly scene we were forced to drive by at 5 mph.
  • Waldo, Florida...a very sneaky speed trap.
  • Stopover in Asheville, North Carolina...the San Francisco of the Appalachians. Where grungies and zillionaires co-exist in altitude-adjustment toleration.
  • Best breakfast ever...Tupelo Honey Cafe, Asheville.
  • Skyline chili...Cinncinnati's signature disappointingly bad and packs a wallop of indigestion.
  • Who knew the Amish dined out at Skyline Chili? An Amish couple pulled up in an older car, ordered chili and Greek salad and bowed to pray before they ate. Maybe their horse and buggy was in the shop.
  • If you lined up all the Interstate road kill end to end, it would reach the moon. Then the smell would obliterate it.
  • Nine times out of ten, the really, really slow car in the fast lane that refuses to move over, creating a long tie up behind a Ford Taurus.
  • Recipe to relieve boredom: DQ pit stop every afternoon.
  • The South seems to have more Dairy Queens than the North.
  • On average, Burger King restrooms are cleaner than McDonald's restrooms.
      • Clothing sightings along the roadside: 9 single items of footware...mostly tennis shoes. 1 pair of jeans. 3 shirts/blouses. 7 baseball caps. 1 fuscia rain slicker.
      • The mountain tops are literally being scalped by mining companies and developers.
      • I wonder who litters the Appalachian hills and hollers with old washing machines, broken down church buses and rusty tractors.
      • The South has the prettiest and longest spring ever...and the most pollen.
      • Nicest McDonalds ever: Van Wert, Ohio. Hip, edgy decor. Upscale ambiance. Leather chairs. Cozy fireplace. Outdoor patio seating. Ultra clean. Friendly service.
      • If I stuck my face out the car window going at a speed of 75 miles an hour, would my head blow off?
      • Michigan welcome sign: "Pure Michigan". Yippee. All the snow is gone.
      • The scenic shoreline of northwest Michigan along the big blue lake with its towering cliffs and magnificent views, reminds me of the California Pacific coast.
      25 hours after we began our trip...home sweet and sound. It's good to be back in Michigan. Our own cozy bed never felt so comfy.
      Sphere: Related Content

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      Ahhh, Springtime in Dunedin, Florida

      For a few months during the winter, I reside in the charming little town of Dunedin, Florida. It's a sweet, pedestrian-friendly village overlooking the brilliant blue waters of majestic St. Joseph Sound...on the Gulf of Mexico. With vintage, cottage-style houses, the town is a somewhat sleepier version of Key West...settled over a hundred years ago by Scottish immigrants. Enormous, century-old Spanish oak trees dripping with silvery moss, line the quaint brick streets as people on foot and on bicycles meander along the wide, tree-shaded walking trail that weaves through town. Dunedin is a hidden little gem that often sneaks under the tourist radar screen even though two of the best beaches in the entire country lie just offshore. Some residents prefer to keep the town their own well-kept secret as they go about tending to their azaleas that flourish with abandon this time of year. Here are some of my snapshots of springtime in Dunedin.

      Sphere: Related Content

      Thursday, April 1, 2010

      Sign of the Times

      "In my many years, I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a shame, 
      two is a law firm and 
      three or more is a congress".... John Adams

      Happy Easter one and all!

      Sphere: Related Content
      Related Posts with Thumbnails