Weekend Update: From Hamster Heaven to a Book Club Meeting

Our weekend started on a sad note.  My daughter’s beloved hamster, Bear, died in her hands Friday morning.  At 7am, when K. checked on Bear, she was lethargic and struggling to breathe.  K. picked her up, and she raised her little head, put it back down, closed her eyes and she was gone.  My daughter sobbed, “Mom, do something!  Call 911!” so I called the animal hospital, but the vet said it would cost $80. just for him to leave his home and unlock the office door before regular business hours.  Treatment, of course, would cost extra.  After hanging up, I assured K. the animal hospital would do everything they could.  I was pretty sure Bear was already dead, so I asked my husband, within earshot of the kids, to rush Bear to the animal hospital, but privately I asked him to drive around the block a couple times so that I could get the kids off to school.  After school, she came flying at me, asking, “Is Bear ok?”  I broke the news that poor Bear had gone to Hamster Heaven.  K. was heartbroken but matter of fact.  After we held Bear’s funeral, K. said, “She’s in a better place, right, Mom?” quickly followed by, “When can we go to the pet store to get another one?”  We went up to Petco right after the ceremony and brought home a hamster that seems very sweet and looks like a smaller younger version of Bear.  Bear, Jr.  Hopefully this one will live longer than 3 months.

On Saturday, my daughter L. and I hit Borders (she needed the next book in the Five Ancestors series, and I needed a paperback for a book exchange for my book club’s 1st anniversary), then the hospital to see my stepdad.  He had a quadruple bypass a couple weeks ago, came home, then had to go back to the hospital last week and have a second surgery for a massive infection.  He’s facing one more surgery and weeks in the hospital, but he’s got a great attitude and we believe he’s going to be ok.

After a quick visit with Grandpa, L. and I headed to Starbucks for a double chocolate chip frappucino (her) and a mocha (me), then off to our local Farmer’s Market for strawberries, honey and apples.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the food we eat lately, and where it comes from.. trying to buy food grown locally and in season as often as possible, and trying to cook more and buy less processed food.  It’s so easy and convenient to buy pre-made products, or out of season fruit shipped in from Guatemala or Brazil, but I’m at least thinking about things and making small changes.
On Saturday evening our book club had it’s first field trip, stepping out t see The Other Boleyn Girlin the theater.  When a book is so amazing, it’s hard to be objective about the movie, but I think they did a pretty good job with it.  It was quite different than the book, however.  Of course with a 661 page book, a movie would need to be 4 hours long or more to get it all in, so I guess they did the best they could given the time constraints.  I wasn’t sure how Natalie Portman, who in past roles has seemed so wholesome, would pull off the fiery character of Anne Boleyn, but she brought a lot of passion and excitement to the role.  Scarlett Johannsen made a great Mary Boleyn, and Eric Bana was a HOT Henry VIII.  The costumes were nicely done and not over-the-top.  We enjoyed it, but it was hard not to pick the film apart afterward (THAT didn’t happen in the book, THIS was glossed over, etc.)

Sunday was an unseasonably warm day, near 90 degrees.  My flabby, lily-white legs and I are so not ready for shorts.  Maybe I’ll look into one of those spray-on tans before my legs make their annual appearance in the neighborhood.  Wouldn’t want to blind anybody with their brilliant whiteness.

On Sunday afternoon, my Girl Scout troop had their monthly meeting. One of the parents in the troop agreed to have the meeting at her house and teach the girls about skin care.  They made masks of yogurt and oatmeal and gave each other facials.  They had a great time, and now my daughter wants to give EVERYONE a facial.. me, her dad, her sister, the dog.  She also is scrutinizing my every move in front of the bathroom mirror.  “Mom, Mrs. R. says you should NEVER put your fingers into a jar of lotion.”  “Mom, Mrs. R. says you should rub lotion onto your face in a circular motion.  That’s not a circular motion, Mom!”  UGH, quit watching me, kid!!

Sunday night was Book Club time.  I look forward to these meetings so much.  Something about no kids, no men, good food, intelligent conversation, and a glass of wine makes me incredibly happy. We started with food (potluck) and a game, because I am truly a book club geek.  I listed the first sentence of all 12 books we’ve read together as a club and asked everyone to match the sentence to the correct book.  I thought it would be easy, but only two people got them all right.  I’ve won several online book giveaways recently, which made awesome prizes for my geeky little game.  Then we proceeded to discuss The Time Traveler’s Wife in great detail.  There was so much to say (three hours worth!)  Everyone enjoyed the book and found the writing style unique and fascinating.  I would highly recommend it for a book club discussion.

In April our book club will read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and will vote on books for our summer reading.  My suggestions are:  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know if you think they’d be good for a group discussion.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!   


15 Responses

  1. Those all sound like great books. I have several of them on my TBR but haven’t read any myself yet. Poor hamster. Glad your daughter got over it relatively quickly. What’s the life span of a hamster, anyways?

  2. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one powerful book and would be good for a group discussion. It isn’t a very long book though, so if you are used to more hefty novels than this will seem like a quick read.

    Next week is my book club’s trip to see The Other Boleyn Girl – I can’t wait!

    So tell me more about your 1st year anniversary paperback swap – our first anniversary is coming in May and think that this something like this might be fun!

  3. Hi Stephanie! I am very ok with quick reads for the book club as long as they are really good, and it sounds like this one is.

    Our swap was really simple. Everyone brought a wrapped new or gently used book, and the only criteria was that it be something we’ve read and would recommend. It was a nice opportunity to share a beloved book with someone else in the group. We opened them one by one, so that if it was a book we’d already read, we could trade with someone or choose another. It worked out well, but I’m not sure I’ll ever read the book I received! I’ll probably give it away.

  4. Hi Jeane! I didn’t mean to overlook your comment. The lifespan of a hamster is 2-4 years. This one was a couple of months old when we bought it in December. We don’t know what happened.

  5. I really liked both THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS and LOVING FRANK. I recommend doing LOVING FRANK. We were fortunate enough to have an author chat with Nancy Horan, and it was such a wonderful experience.

    My book club does a similar swap for Christmas!

  6. Sorry to hear about the hamster loss. I have not read any of the suggested books; I do want to read the Kingsolver book.

  7. My book club rejected Boy in the Striped Pyjamas because it was too short. Which is probably one of the reasons we’re reading East of Eden this month and in a couple of months Darkmans; both of those books are chunksters. 🙂

  8. I want to be in your book club! Sounds like so much fun… Think I could put an ad in the paper? “Geeky book club wannabe searching for intelligent fun women who like to drink wine and discuss books.” Sigh. I shouldn’t complain, my ‘silver’ club meets this Thursday!

  9. oh, any my condolences on the poor Hamster. Long live JUNIOR!

  10. It sounds like you have a great bookclub – wow, a 3 hour discussion! I also love getting together with my bookclub and am going to try your game sometime. Great idea! Having said that, I wish I could get my group to read something like Animal,Vegetable, Miracle – it brings up so many interesting points.

  11. Thanks for all the comments!

    Julie, thanks for the suggestion. I emailed Nancy Horan last night and she said she could attend our meeting in August.. a bit presumptuous of me to email her before our group decided on books!! But I didn’t expect her to email me back 5 minutes after I sent her an email.

    Beastmomma, thanks. Trish, it probably is too short for my group too. How is East of Eden? Care, Hi! Can’t wait to hear about your meeting with the Silvers. Tara.. have you suggested Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to your group? Do they not want to read it?

  12. That is so awesome! I guess that kind of sums up which book you are going to do!! She is absolutely the nicest woman! You will have a wonderful meeting!

  13. Sorry about Bear… that’s so sweet that your husband drove around the block like that.

    We just finished Eat, Pray, Love. I liked the section on Italy! I didn’t want her to leave there, it was awesome.

    Can I go with you on the next trip to Farmers Market and Starbucks? I’m sure I could catch a plane and be there within 10 hours… (smile)

  14. Sounds like a full weekend, sorry about the hamster:( I loved Eat,Pray, Love but haven’t read the others on your list. My book club is reading The Pillars of the Earth. I finished actually. It was pretty good, although the author did repeat several of the story arcs over and over again, it’s a long one and probably could have been about a 1/4 shorter.

  15. Julie, I love your enthusiasm! She does seem very nice (from her emails, anyway!)

    bookbabie, I had heard that about Pillars of the Earth somewhere else, too. How it was too long and repetitive. Our book club has a “loose” rule to stay under 400 pages (although we’ve broken that rule twice). Isn’t Pillars something like 900? That would NEVER fly with my group 🙂

    crystal, I’m in the Italy section now.. makes me want to go there.

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