My trip to Michigan was glorious, as anticipated.  I had a wonderful time with friends and family!  Our adventures included hiking and stargazing in the Bear River Valley, canoeing on the Bear River (and seeing two bald eagles), wading on Lake Michigan and exploring in the sand dunes, picking a multitude of wild grapes, eating ice cream on the harbor break wall, driving along the Tunnel of Trees, touring a chocolate factory, and enjoying each other’s company in general.  We had a dance/fun night with the theme Evening in Paris–seeing everyone’s costumes was a hoot, and my dad and uncle did a hilarious French chef comedy skit.  We visited one of our church member’s farms and picked apples, pears, peaches, grapes, and blackberries in their orchard and garden.  There was the usual tree-climbing, late-night hang-outs, and laughter.

Such bliss cannot last, unfortunately, and the two weeks following my trip were murder at work.  I had 700 emails and 30 voicemails when I came back.  This past week was even more difficult, since I was running a week-long series of meetings for a client.  I put in a 13-hour day (in high heels!) at the Sheraton for a conference, after which I wanted to sleep for a year.  That didn’t happen, unfortunately; I was back there at 7:30 the next morning for another day of meetings.  Never was a weekend more welcome, I assure you.

In other recent adventures, before I went on my trip I went to a girls’ night at Cowfish, which specializes in burger sushi.  I was cowardly and stuck to a regular burger, but if the combination of fish and beef thrills you, you should check out their burgushi.  Last weekend I went to the International Festival, which was an interesting time as always, and the Durham County Library book sale, where I triumphantly procured 21 books for a mere $7.  This weekend I’m heading to Escazu to check out their pumpkin spice ice cream.  (I usually think I have an uneventful life until I list everything I’ve been up to; I’m lucky to live in an area where there are so many things to do.)

My roommate and I had an interesting encounter last week.  Someone knocked on our door around 9pm.  My roommate went to answer it, and I realized belatedly that I should probably join her since it was late and we weren’t expecting anyone.  I came downstairs in time to hear a police officer say, “Ma’am, please step outside.”  My roommate went out and I waited awkwardly in the living room, wondering if I should go outside or not.  After a few minutes, my roommate opened the door, and one of the three officers caught sight of me inside.  “Ma’am, who do you have in your apartment??”  “Just my roommate and my little dog,” my roommate meekly replied.  “Maybe we should come inside so we’re not airing your business on the street.”  All three officers trooped in.

By then I was wondering if perhaps my roommate had murdered someone and neglected to mention it, but the police quickly switched to interrogating both of us. They said that they were there investigating the cell phone larceny committed the previous Saturday at the State football game.  They tracked the GPS in the phone to our apartment unit.  At my goldfish gasp of surprise, they clarified that it was in one of the five townhouses in our building.  They grilled us on our whereabouts Saturday night, and fortunately both of us had been with friends so we had alibis, but they didn’t seem to believe us.  They asked if we were sure we hadn’t driven through State or given anyone a ride to the game or anything.  I said I was positive I hadn’t. (You know how when you’re driving along and you notice a cop behind you, you get nervous even if you’re going the speed limit?  I was trying so hard not to seem shifty that I realized afterwards that I had held intense eye contact the whole time with the officer doing the questioning.  While he probably doesn’t think I stole the cell phone, he probably does think I’m a psychopath.  Afterwards my roommate said, “You were, ah, pretty cold.”)

The police asked lots of questions about our neighbors and then gave us one last narrow-eyed stare before proceeding down the line of townhouses.  We couldn’t hear much, but later that night I had my window open (which overlooks the parking lot) and heard loud voices.  One of our neighbors down the way was on his cell while taking his garbage out.  I turned off my light and hunkered down for some eavesdropping.  Most of what I heard was the f word, but I heard enough other bits and pieces to construct a theory of what happened.  It sounded to me like this guy had given his girlfriend an expensive phone, later found out she was cheating, and took the phone back.  The girlfriend reported it stolen, and GPS tracked it to the apartment.  Exciting times…



Books: I was so in love with Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay that I immediately requested the sequel, Lord of Emperors, at the library.  Way to rip my heart out and leave me wanting more, Kay.  If you’re not moved by the chariot race in this book, check your pulse—you’re probably dead.  Ben Hur’s chariot races have nothing on Kay’s.  The book is one to leave you feeling dazed and out of place in the real world; the world Kay constructs is so vivid, this one pales in comparison.  Check out the duology as soon as you have the chance.

I finished Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter at last; the book covers several decades, and I sort of felt like it took me decades to read since I left off reading it in the middle while I went out of town.  The story is set 10,000 years ago, at the time when the seas were rising and changing the landscape, making an island out of the region of Britain.  Baxter clearly did a lot of research and his premise was intriguing, but I admit I despised his characters.  Definitely a concept writer and not a character writer.  Inconsistent and unlovable cast aside, I was also disturbed by the gratuitous violence.  I understand that he was trying to depict an uncivilized and brutal era, but at times I felt like he just threw in some brutality whenever he ran out of plot ideas.

I just read The Robber Bridgroom by Eudora Welty, which is a Southern American retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale.  Welty’s tone is very in keeping with Grimm, and though she changes the tale a good deal, you’ll feel like you’re reading a hundreds of years old story.  Beautiful and bizarre and perfect.

I read far too much Holocaust literature a few years ago and realized I needed a break, so I put off reading Dawn by Elie Wiesel until just now.  It’s not, strictly speaking, Holocaust lit…and yet it is, in a way, since the events of the Holocaust shape those in the book.  It’s an intense look at morality–I’m glad I didn’t read it till now, when I’m able to appreciate it more.