Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Book number one in my Summer Reading Challenge was Mindfulness in Plain English by Mindfulness in Plain EnglishBhante Henepola Gunaratana, a book recommended by a friend.

Earlier this year I started practicing mindfulness meditation. I was telling my friend Sue about it and was pleasantly surprised to find out that she had started meditating as well. I use an app called Headspace which is a series of guided meditations designed to teach you about the practice. Sue takes a class and also started reading a book which she recommended to me, Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.

It turns out that this book is exactly what I had been looking for. With chapters like “Meditation: Why Bother?” and “Structuring Your Meditation” and “Meditation in Everyday Life” Gunaratana clearly explains the principals of meditation, the benefits and how it is done. It’s a great resource for someone who is just starting out their practice.

I started out reading this in big chunks like I would with any book. While I did enjoy the book, I found that reading too much of it at a time was overwhelming. Therefore I took Sue’s suggestion which was to read just small sections every day. It took a few months to get through this way but it worked out better for me. I was able to get more out of the book and incorporate Gunaratana’s guidance and many suggestions.

Mindfulness meditation is in fact a Buddhist practice. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is a Buddhist monk who was ordained at the age of 12. While he does get somewhat into the spiritual aspects of the practice, I did not find him preachy.

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation or would like to develop and existing practice I highly recommend this book. It is currently back on my shelf but I plan to go back to it again and again. Because of this I give this book a Shrimp Coma Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating shrimp coma

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Castro Valley Dispatch: Home Sweet Home!

This morning was a typical Carson City “half day.”  We got up early (6:00am, thank you  Mrs. B) and Jerry did some small projects around the house while I made eggs and toast and pretended I was helping.  We also had a contractor come by to look at our master bath and the Amerigas guy came by to check the tanks.

We were packed up and headed home by 1:45pm.  The drive over 88 was uneventful.  We did not even encounter any traffic or activity prompted by the Butte fire, contrary to our anticipation.  We listened to Howard Stern’s fantastic interview of Carol Burnett and Donald Trump’s “babble-prompter’’ speech about nothing.

It goes without saying that Mrs. B is extremely happy to be home.  Me too.

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Sleepless in Carson City

I’ve been up all night with an insomniac cat.  I know that Mrs. B has had plans to secretly kill me for some time now.  I realize now that this, THIS is how she will do it.  I will die of sleep deprivation.

This is one of the reasons why I do not like coming up here and when I do, it’s why I stress about bringing the cat with me.  Because the weather was very hot yesterday we had to sleep in our one air conditioned room with the door closed.  This did not sit well with Mrs. B at all.  In addition to being stressed about being far from home (I hear you Mrs. B, believe me!) Mrs. B does not like closed doors and freaked out as soon as we turned the lights out and went to sleep.  She crawled out from her spot from under the bed and began pacing around the room meowing and begging for me to get up.

I tried giving her some kitty xanax but that stuff did nothing.  NOTHING!  I eventually got up and hung out with her for a while, playing with her and brushing her and then just sat while we glared at each other.  Every time I tried to curl up on the couch (a very small couch…the only piece of furniture we have in the living room) Mrs. B would freak out and start meowing.

She eventually let me sleep at 2am but woke me again at 4am.

It’s about 6pm now and I’ve since had a chance to rest up for the big event of the weekend, annual “HOA” meeting up here with the neighbors and what do you think?  Mrs. B is passed out next to me on the couch.  I should totally wake her ass up.  Karma’s a bitch Mrs. B.

Mrs. B sleeps

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Carson City Dispatch

Blogging live from Jessopland 2.0, aka the Carson City house!  Since my cat sitting and holding down the fort skills are more useful in the Bay Area than my Nevada remodel skills I don’t get up here that much.  That said, I thought I’d give a try at doing a little writing up here to let folks know what these little trips are like for me. 

We left home this morning at 7:00am on the dot.  Since we are going to be up here for a few days we opted to bring Mrs. B with us.  Her capture was pretty drama free thanks to Jerry’s help lifting the futon (Mrs. B’s favorite hiding spot) and an early morning dose of kitty xanax. 

The drive through the mountains was very smoky thanks to the San Andreas fire.  We also saw a lot of fire trucks.

fire  fire truck

We got to the house by noon.  So far we’ve been to both Home Depots and the Lowes at least once each.  We also made a trip to Pet Smart where we had a very interesting conversation about the new cat toy I bought for Mrs. B.  Jerry thought a pink firefly was “too gay” so I had to remind him that a) it was for a cat and b) the cat is a girl. 

While Mrs. B and I played with her new “gay” cat toy, Jerry fed his lizard friends. I like to call him the lizard whisperer. 


Dinner was at our favorite all you can eat sushi bar at the Casino Fandango.  I love the cilantro roll!

cilantro roll

Now I’m hunkered down in the bedroom, enjoying the portable air conditioner Jerry bought and set up a few weeks ago.  The rest of the house is 85 degrees so the bedroom is like the lunar module in Apollo 13 where the astronauts survived the ordeal until they returned safely back to earth.  At the moment Mrs. B is hiding under the bed but as soon as she gets antsy she’s getting another dose of kitty xanax.  In the meantime I’m enjoying my own medicine prescribed by Dr. Husband. 

dr husband

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Good Night Seattle, I Love You!

A week ago today I was on the Sound Transit light rail headed to downtown Seattle. When Jerry had an opportunity to work the Seattle PAX consumer show and said I could tag along I jumped at the chance. I’ve been up to the Seattle Washington area many times for work but I’ve never had a chance to spend time in the city. Last week was finally my chance.

The highlight of the trip was getting to have lunch with a longtime family friend and my hero, Patricia Levin. August has been my month of reunions and reflection and ending it with a get together with Pat was just what I needed.

I spent the rest of the weekend bopping around downtown Seattle.

My favorite place to walk was Pikes Public Market. I went there every morning for a cup of coffee and any other treat I could get my hands on. In the evenings when Jerry got off work we walked down here as well and had some fantastic dinners. Seattle is definitely a food town!

Public Market

I also took the monorail to Seattle Center. I admired the Space Needle but was too chicken to go up. It was pretty windy that day and I did not have the mental energy to get out of my comfort zone.

Space Needle

The labyrinth was more my pace.


When I saw this guy I knew it was time to head on back to the hotel.

Snake guy

Sunday I got tickets to the show thanks to some well connected friends.

Xbox paxcosplay 

I’m looking forward to future trips to Seattle to see more city sites and also touch base with friends. In the meantime, stay cool Seattle!

Stay cool seattle

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The Other Girls

We are perms and curling irons and hot rollers, Finesse and Vidal Sassoon. We are Wet n’ Wild, Lip Smackers and blue eye shadow. We are feathered hair with wide tooth combs in our back pockets and baby blue satin jackets. We are shinny gold headbands and tiny braids. We are the other girls.

We are tanning with baby oil, sunburns and freckles. We are Clearasil, Noxzema and Sun-In. We are the other girls.

We are plastic bead necklaces with matching earrings and belts. We are leather flats with cuffed jeans and socks to match our sweaters. We are leg warmers, torn sweatshirts and spandex. We are knickers, penny loafers and argyle socks. We are the other girls.

We are taffeta and tulle, hand corsages and white nylons. Garters for his visor and slow dance kissing. We are anxious, holding hands, completely clueless. We are the other girls.

We are clove cigarettes and secret Virginia Slims hidden in the glove box. California Coolers, Bartle’s & Jaymes and fake IDs. We are the other girls.

We are busy signals and dial phones with long cords that stretch to the closet. We are binder paper, Pee-Chee folders, Trapper Keepers and brown bag book covers. We are VW bugs, Honda Civics and Pintos. We are the other girls.

We are red-heads, we are brunettes, mousey brown and dishwater blond. Stubborn waves, stick straight, split ends and never right. We are the other girls.

We are laughter, we are tears, we are sadness, we are joy. Seen by some but making up all. We are the other girls. We are all the other girls.

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Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell

Reporting in with Book Number 3 on my Summer Reading Challenge, a book I read a long time ago and don’t remember. But first a confession: the reason why I don’t remember this book is because I never finished it in the first place.

I purchased Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell over ten years ago when I noticed the Oprah’sBack Roads Book Club sticker. When I read it last week I realized I never got past page 30 the first time around. I stopped because the storyline was too dark and tragic for me at the time. I’m glad I finally picked it up again because I thought the book was great.

The main character and narrator of Back Roads is Harley Altmyer, a 19 year old man who is left to raise his three younger sisters after their mother is convicted of murdering their abusive father. Cheery right? That is exactly why I put it down the first time.

Harley’s life is not easy. He’s overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising his sisters with no time or money to be a regular teenager. He’s also saddled down with the tragedy of his family’s past and present. His sisters, Amber, Misty and Jody have issues of their own as well. Harley’s only solace is the MILF next door, Callie Mercer who provides him with the comfort and escape he needs.

It’s clear that life handed Harley a bad hand. He deals with it through a snarky and sarcastic attitude. This is one of the strong elements of this book and why I found it so enjoyable. In spite of his darkness, or perhaps because of it, Harley is a likable character. As the first person narrator of the story, we are subjected to all his thoughts including the very dark ones that make us question Harley’s fate. However we also see that he is a sensitive young man who cares about his sisters and others around him. As the story progresses we learn more about the Altmyer family dynamics as well as the murder of Harley’s father and the result is an even deeper dive into Harley’s character.

I enjoyed this book very much. The premise had me hooked from the beginning and about 100 pages in I became extremely close to all the characters with a genuine interest in what became of them.

I also have another confession to make about this book: I skipped ahead. (I know! I’m sorry Tawni O’Dell!) I partly blame the foreshadowing in the first few pages. They haunted me and I just had to know how it all ended. I’ll admit I learned my lesson on this one because knowing the ended ruined the mood O’Dell worked so hard to create. I promise I will never read ahead again!

If you are looking for a good family drama I recommend Back Roads. I will warn you, the book hits on some pretty sensitive subject matters including abuse and incest. There’s also some pretty hot MILF scenes.

I give this book a Relaxed Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating relaxed

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Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot

Choice number two of the Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Little Miss Drama Queen, a book that had been sitting on your shelf for over a year, was one of the more difficult choices for me since it described most of the books on my bookshelf. I narrowed the choice down by choosing a Meg Cabot novel and then narrowed those down by choosing one of Cabot’s old regency romance novels written under her pen name, Patricia Cabot. TheEducating Caroline result was Educating Caroline.

Taking place in 1870 London, Lady Caroline Linford is engaged to Hurst Devenmore Slater, the Marquis of Winchilsea. She’s pretty happy about it until she catches him cheating on her with another aristocrat, Lady Jacquelyn Seldon. Not wanting to disgrace her family by calling off the wedding Caroline decides to instead engage the services of notorious lady’s man Braden Granville to teach her how to entice her betrothed away from the slutty Lady Jacquelyn. It sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Not to mention scandalous. But Caroline’s own mother plants the seed for the idea when she says that in order to hold on to a man Caroline should use her body…

“…which, if I do say so myself, is the spitting image of the one I had at your age, and which I used to excellent advantage…”

Braden Granville is not only a womanizer with a horrible reputation, he is not even titled (gasp!) and has made his fortune on his new fangled gun company. His appearance is secondary, possessing the self-made confidence and logic we all love in Cabot’s leading men. (In fact, based on his dominant traits I would not be surprised if he is an ancestor if Michael Moscovitz.) Caroline shocks him with her unusual request for lessons but seeing as it is a romance novel, passionate sparks fly throughout.  (Code for: there’s a lot of sex.)

In addition to the love triangle Caroline finds herself in, there is also a mystery involving the Marquis and Caroline’s brother which is quite intriguing.

While I did enjoy Educating Caroline, I did have a hard time getting into it mostly because I’m getting a little bored with the regency romance genre. That said, the novel is still quite delightful especially given Cabot’s humor which is the basis for this story. She even throws in a few references to the always pregnant Lady Rawlings who hardcore and keen eyed Meg Cabot fans know is in fact Pegeen MacDougal who married Lord Edward Rawlings in her first published book, Where Roses Grow Wild.

If you are looking for an old school regency romance with humor and a fun storyline I highly recommend Educating Caroline. I give it a Classic Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating classic

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Watermelon and Ague

I love watermelon. The other day I picked up a beautiful one at Grocery Outlet for onlyLittle House on the Prairie $1.99. As I was slicing it up I was reminded, as I often am, of my favorite chapter from Little House on the Prairie, “Fever and Ague.”

Those of you who have read the book as many times as I have must recognize the connection. As the family recovers from a bad bout of Malaria, which they survived thanks to the medical savvy of Dr. Tan, Pa goes over to the neighbor’s house and comes back with a giant watermelon. He slices it open with a butcher knife but Ma refuses to let Laura or Mary have a bite because she believes the rumors that the fever they just suffered was caused by watermelons.

Back then they didn’t know that Malaria was carried by mosquitoes. According to previous chapters in the book the mosquitoes

were pretty bad on the prairie that summer so it’s not surprising that the Ingalls came down with Malaria. Even though they didn’t make the mosquito connection I always thought Ma was pretty naïve to believe the watermelon myth.

I mean seriously Ma! Pa says right there that he hadn’t had a watermelon “since Hector was a pup” thereby proving that there had been no watermelon in house before or at the time of the illness. If watermelon really was the culprit wouldn’t they have to eat it before they caught the fever? Ma was either still hallucinating or something else was going on – some nuance I still don’t get.

Not only that but how horrible is Pa in this scene? The entire family had been existing on nothing but wild game and cornbread for months, Ma refuses to let Laura and Mary even taste the watermelon and yet Pa eats it in front of them. Can you imagine watching someone eat a sweet juicy watermelon on a hot summer day and not getting to participate? Especially if you were a little girl who had just suffered a traumatic illness? Pa and Ma are just mean in this scene, mean I tell you!

As I recall, this is the only time in all of the Little House books that Laura Ingalls Wilder ever mentions watermelon. I hope she finally got a piece in her adulthood. I also hope she got a good deal.

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Priceless by Christina Dodd

When it comes to romance novels, Christina Dodd is a household name. I’ve enjoyed herPriceless Facebook feed and blog for years. I also see her books everywhere and finally got around to reading one last month. I decided to start with one of her earlier novels, Priceless which was published in 1992.

The heroine is feisty little Bronwyn Edana, daughter of a respected but penniless nobleman and the seventh of eight sisters. In addition to being the ugly duckling (apparently petite, curly haired blonds were not desired in 18th century England) she also has the misfortune of being rather intelligent and outspoken. Despite all this her parents manage to have her betrothed to the hot hunky hero, Adam Kean, the Lord Rawson of Boudasea Manor.

Adam is arrogant, walks with a limp and has a questionable reputation. Unfortunately these are qualities Bronwyn must accept as this is as good a husband she can expect. Luckily for her family, Lord Rawson is also rich and accepts a marriage contract with Bronwyn sight unseen. He is sadly disappointed when they first meet as Bronwyn is awkwardly dressed in a dark haired wig and ridiculous clothing in an attempt to mimic the look of her sisters.

It isn’t long before the two strong personalities of Adam and Bronwyn clash and passionate sparks begin to fly. They develop a fervent and very physical relationship plagued by a misunderstanding that eventually sends Bronwyn to the solace of a London salon where she attempts to hide from Adam and her family and vows to never marry.

I had a vague understanding of salons from Renaissance history class but this book was the first time I was exposed to the concept in more depth. When Bronwyn first enters the salon of Madame Rachelle I just assumed it was a high class brothel. The salon in Priceless is nothing of the sort with no hanky panky going on – aside from the romantic antics of Dodd’s characters that is. Rather, Madame Rachelle describes her own salon as follows:

“…a place where men and women of the intellectual, social, and artistic elites can converse freely.”

It is of course a place where Bronwyn can shine and is also ordered to shed her wig forever. When Adam finds her there he is, of course, won over by her beauty and vows to get her back at any price. The rest of the book tells the story of their romance, peppered with a dangerous criminal element and a twist at the end.

I have to admit it. I was not thrilled by this book and had a hard time getting through it. The elements for interest were certainly there but for some reason they did not grab me. I claim some responsibility as these type of regency romances are usually hit or miss for me.

The other part that threw me was the structure of the story. It was all over the place. The first half took place at Lord Rawson’s estate and focused on both Adam and Bronwyn’s family dynamics. The second half took place in the salon in London and focused on the shady criminal conspiracy that entangles Adam, Bronwyn and a whole new batch of characters. It was almost like two books smashed together.

Priceless is from very early in Dodd’s writing career, her second or third book I think, so I’m not ready to write her work off entirely. I look forward to exploring more. I was glad to see this one end though. I’m going to have to give Priceless a Cautious Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating cautious

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