Friday, December 31, 2010

Poem for December: For the young who want to.

For the young who want to
by Marge Piercy

This is under copyright. Please see this link: (

Reading about Piercy's life, I feel as though she was born one decade early. She went to college in the 1950s, when it was all about getting your MRS, when she would have clearly fit in much better in the 1960s, when it was all about--well, thanks to innumerable books, movies, history channel specials and general fawning over the times--we all know what it was all about.

So there is a thread of bitterness that runs through her poems which I respect because she earned her bitterness the hard way. No one has ever told me I should have a baby and for that I thank the hard work of Piercy and her contemporaries, and all the feminists who come before them.

Books read in December

A lucky 13 books read this month, due mostly to Mock-Printz reading. Though the Ashbury/Brookfield novels (Feeling Sorry for Celia, The Year of Secret Assignments, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie & The Ghosts of Ashbury Hall) also took up a good bit of my time. Once I got going with that series, I just couldn't stop. Overall, it was a very good month for reading.

The Year of Secret Assignments
Jaclyn Moriarty
Delightful! The pen pal exercise continues another year with a trio of best friends from Ashbury. They happen to end up with boy pen pals from Brookfield and the games begin. This book had me blurting out a chuckle now and then and nicely captures young love.

The main characters also casually drink without consequence. I've not really encountered that before in YA books. I grew up in the "drink and drive once and lose an arm" and "have sex once and get pregnant" era of YA storytelling. I think their drinking, which is supported by their parents, is very true-to-life, but it was still odd for me to encounter.

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Jaclyn Moriarty
I may be over identifying a tad, but I think Bindy Mackenzie is perhaps the most lively character in a book I've read this year and I fell completely in love with her. She is smart as a whip and entirely clueless as to why her actions anger and annoy people. The teacher in me kept thinking, "Oh Bindy! How could you?" while the straight-laced high school me hearkened back to my own slightly alienating teenage choices. She wants to help, but her helping comes from the wrong place, like when she first sends notes to some of her classmates telling them they are certain poison animals. Her intent is to be mean to them and show them what they really are. I'm sure her meanness went right over their head. Later, to make amends, she writes notes recasting those same classmates as more noble animals, which also went right over their heads.

Through her diaries, transcriptions and various reports we see what shaped Bindy and the various forces acting around her for this difficult year. There is a mystery, but it isn't the best part. The best part is watching Bindy navigate through her year. Characters from the previous two books appear, which is quite fun.

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth
Lynne Rae Perkins
Read for Mock Printz.

This author, so the book cover tells me, is also an illustrator, and her prose is very painterly in its descriptions like this one about a car windshield: "The sediment of dirt deposited evenly across the windshield, punctuated by the dried fluff of unfortunate insects, glowed incandescent in the sunlight. It was like trying to see through dandelion fluff."

I found that I spent a lot of time suspending disbelief during the story which was quite distracting. I was on board (hah!) with him getting left behind by the train and walking to town, but after that it all seemed a bit convenient for the narrative. Still, the author introduces a lot of interesting people along the journey, sort of like meeting all those Texans in No Country for Old Men. So I didn't love this book, but after I suspended disbelief, I enjoyed the journey.

Spies of Mississippi
Rick Bowers
Read for Mock Printz.

A very brief history of a dark time in US History. The book traces the creation and activities of a state-sponsored agency created to spy on and defeat any integration or Civil Rights efforts in the state of Mississippi. I was about halfway through when the facts of the book suddenly hit me. Wow! The state of Mississippi set up and recruited spies as well as investigated people who had not committed any crime. They then attempted to discredit these people in any way possible. Holy Crap! The fact that some of the people who worked for the commission are still living makes it even more remarkable.

The book is perfect for young adult readers, hitting on the horrors of the Jim Crow/Civil Rights era without being too graphic. For example, it describes in pretty clear detail the beating that a civil rights worker received, but when discussing the murders of the three civil rights workers it only mentions the burned out car and the fact their bodies were found buried in an earthen dam. It does not go into details of how they were killed.

The Ghosts of Ashbury Hall
Jaclyn Moriarty
Like the three before it, a funny and gripping account of a year at Ashbury. The narrative structure is stretched a little thin with this book, but it is still enjoyable. This time two new students arrive at Ashbury. They are quite mysterious. Also, there also might be a ghost haunting the school. Characters from previous books have returned and it is good to check in with them. I really love the Lydia character and I wouldn't mind reading another book about her college experience.

Fever Crumb
Philip Reeve
Read for Mock Printz.

Set in a steampunk-inspired future London this follows the journey of Fever Crumb, an orphan found and raised by the order of Engineers. They have raised her in their rational ways, so she is not your ordinary fourteen year old.

The writing was great in that I could see future London quite clearly and follow along as Fever makes her way from the orderly world of the Engineers into the household of an "archeologist." Her rational responses to the children in the household were amusing and I was quite delighted to see that in this future the word "blog" has emerged as a swear word.

Overall, a well done "finding ones identity" sort of novel with a lot of fun details thrown in.

Marcus Sedgwick
Read for Mock-Printz

Solid tale set during gold rush times in the Arctic Circle. I didn't love it, but would recommend it to an outdoorsy, possibly reluctant, fourteen year old reader.

True Grit
Charles Portis
Fabulous narration and dialogue that qualifies as "a hoot." One of the better teenaged female characters I've read in ages.

Finnikin of the Rock
Marlena Marchetta
I really loved the journey these characters went on and got wrapped up in their world. Excellent strong female character.

100 Essential Modern Poems by Women
Parisi & Weston
I thought I wanted more information about the authors of the poems I read, but this book has a few pages of information and only two or three poems. It would be great to have a summary paragraph or two and then more poems, or even the current amount of biographical information and then many more poems. Overall, a nice list.

The Prince of Thieves
Chuck Hogan
I prefer to read the book and then watch the movie, but sometimes when watching a movie my favorite title credit will flash onto the screen: Based on a the book ABC by 123. "There's a book?" I always silently exclaim. If I like the movie--and sometimes if I don't like the movie, (ahem Sideways)--I'll seek out the book.

I expected to like the movie the Town in a "wow, this is a really bad movie but I like it" sort of way. However, it turned out to be quite gripping and I really did like it. The book was even better. As the main character in the movie, Ben Affleck seems to have it all together: robbing the banks, romancing the kidnapped teller, keeping his bank robber friends in line, attending the AA meetings. However, the book's main character is much more doubtful and flawed. It's much more of an examination of character flaws through the recovering alcoholic lens than I expected. There were also some great descriptive passages, one of which I meant to excerpt here but forgot and returned the book. Like the movie, my expectations for the book were low and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

They Called Themselves the KKK
Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Looking for a short, concise history of Reconstruction Era and the birth of the KKK? This is your book. It's well written and chock full of great primary source material. If there could be a book like this on every historical subject I would read a lot more non-fiction history.

The Resilient Gardener
Carol Deppe
Clear instructions of how to grow and preserve staple crops such as beans, corn, squash, potatoes and eggs. Deppe spends almost as much time explaining how to keep and cook what is grown as she does explaining how to grow it. She lives in Corvallis, so Oregon readers have an advantage here. Overall, a great book which I will probably purchase.

Started but did not finish

I finished everything I started this month.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Youth in Revolt

Should I ever need a nom de plum, Francois Dillinger will be it. Overall, this movie was a bit slow, but with some delightful scenes that are worth sitting through the whole thing. The "dark" Michael Cera, not surprisingly, is much like the "light" Michael Cera, but with an amusing edge.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Brokeback Mountain

I wasn't hugely in love with this movie while watching it, but over the next few days, scenes kept coming back to me and I think they will for a very long time. Heath Ledger's performance was so convincing I forgot he was Australian. Aside from the excellent acting in all corners, I also thought the set design and cinematography was fabulous.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: The Wedding Crashers

My favorite part of this movie is the wedding crasher montage at the beginning. My second favorite part of this movie is when Vince Vaughn goes on one of his babbling soliloquies. My third favorite part of this movie was the reveal of who was the original wedding crasher.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The length of this movie kept me from seeing it when it was in the theaters, as well as the massive amounts of CGI used on the actors. However, when I actually watched the film, I was not at all distracted by either of those things. It's been out long enough that I completely missed--until the last scene--that the hurricane was Katrina.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kelly and I do a Portland City Walk

It was cold and rainy the morning Kelly and I planned to do a Portland City Walk. By the time our walk time came around it had stopped raining and the sun was even shining. So out we set. We did the Buckman/Kerns walk which was fun until it started raining and blowing again. Once the pages of the book were soaked, we cut the walk short and headed for home, dry clothes, grilled cheese and a bad movie. But before that?

An odd combo, but one that might come in handy.
This tree has bent toward the east.
A nicely preserved gingerbread house.
Detail of the detail.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Ice Harvest

Despite the presence of John Cusack, this was not a very fun movie. I didn't ever attach to any of the characters, so I didn't much care what happened to any of them. This is one of those movies that I watched so you don't have to.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: It's a Wonderful Life

Matt had never seen this and while he started the movie heckling, the charms of the holiday staple won him over quickly. By the end, he was a convert. What's the holiday without this movie?

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Idiocracy

Funny. The story was funny, the actors were funny and the set design was fantastic. This movie was overlooked but you should get into your time machine and head back to 2006 so you can watch this movie.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What should Be capitalized?

I'm quite guilty of this myself, so yes, call me the pot.* However, I would assume that a casino paying a good chunk of money to advertise would employ the services of a copy editor. Why is "Live" capitalized but "bands" is not? Why is nearly every thing in the second half capitalized except "favors?"

*note that all of my pots are blue enamel and my kettle is some sort of silver colored metal. I do have a dutch oven that is black, but for this saying to match my own pots and pans it would have to be "the dutch oven calling the cast iron skillet black."

Three sentence movie reviews: Role Models

This movie was full of things I don't usually like: foul-mouthed children, infantile adults, and an over-sharing recovering junkie. However, despite all the above elements present and various levels of inappropriateness, I quite enjoyed this. I'm pretty sure this has to do with the fact that it is the-always-fun-to-watch Paul Rudd and Jane Lynch carrying out the inappropriate behavior.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: 127 Hours

This, despite the solo forearm amputation that you know is coming,* was one of the most uplifting movies I've seen this year. James Franco is mesmerizing and the soundtrack is an integral part of the movie. Be sure to watch the credits all the way to the end to read the important statement about legal mountain biking.

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*If you can't hack that scene--and believe me, if I could make it through it, you most likely can--just Google to find out how long it is and then leave the theater for that amount of time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Sex and the City II

After the Liza Minnelli cameo is over*, this is an endlessly long and boring move that is incredibly gauche in its excesses. I had plenty of time to think about and feel sorry for Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda all who seem to be desperately clinging to their youth in a way that makes them highly unattractive. Samantha seems to have made some deal with the devil in that she is much older than the others, but yet manages to look much less plastic and also younger.

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*seriously, watch until she does her dance number and then turn the movie off. There is nothing here for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Requiem: Green bag

I bought this green bag back in 1997 with part of my college graduation money. I wanted to buy a leather satchel, but did not have quite enough to fund that purchase. So I settled for this L.L. Bean bag which I carried to my very first full-time job: receptionist at the Somerville office of Motion Industries.

I pressed it back into service this year when my new bag (which I knew I shouldn't have bought) broke rather quickly, cheap thing.

Though the bag is still good, it is very, very heavy, even without anything in it. There is a metal bar across the top layer that must weigh five pounds. And that is before I pack it with my lunch and newspaper and other accouterments. I've just found a new one and I am letting this one go. Farewell, faithful servant.

Three sentence movie reviews: Extract

Overall, this was a so-so movie but it did two things well. It had a very accurate depiction of factory worker life (at least it was similar to the factory I once worked in) and the various character actors were fun to watch. There were a few funny moments, but it wasn't really a laugh riot.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Pride and Prejudice

After watching the long miniseries, this went by in a flash. I did not take to this Mr. Darcy, but did enjoy the acting of everyone else. If you don't have time to invest in the miniseries (but you do, trust me, you do) this will do in a pinch.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


I prefer a cold bedroom and many covers rather than a warm bedroom and few covers. I prefer either of the above rather than a cold bedroom and few covers. Washing my sheets today, I liked how the different colors of my many covers lay together on the bed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: The Town

The movie that asks the question: If you are dating a charming townie who wants you to go away with him and then it turns out he's part of the band of bank robbers who kidnapped you, should you go away with him?* I found this to be a very fun action/romance which was well acted in all corners. It helps that Ben Affleck (a good director, who I would like to see more of behind the camera instead of in front of it) was playing the classic Ben Affleck character, which he does well.

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*In fact when I asked the question to Matt the following conversation ensued:

PCC: What if you were dating a nice guy and it turned out that he was a bank robber who kidnapped you?

MAJ: I would say that's not a good sign and you probably should break up.

PCC: But what if HE wasn't the one who kidnapped you, but one of the other guys did and he was didn't want to do it?

MAJ: I think that he still has some problems.

PCC: But what if he was really nice and wanted to change his ways?

MAJ (sighing): I'm so glad I'm not a woman.

PCC: Why?

MAJ: Because we just sleep with the bad girls. We don't try and make a life with them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Bruno

I think Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius, but I personally find his comedic humor cruel and thus, unfunny. Still, the variety of settings "Bruno" visited and made fun of people was impressive. Due to the amount of nakedness, I spent a lot of time contemplating how hard it must have been for Cohen to remove the copious amounts of very dark hair he naturally possesses.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Inexplicably set in the 1860s, I spent a lot of the movie contemplating just how big the women's sleeves were. Aldous Huxley, (of Brave New World fame) co-wrote the script and I found Lawrence Oliver to be a delightful Mr. Darcy. Not surprisingly, considering we're talking Hollywood here, the story was changed a bit, the most egregious example being the shifting of the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's confrontation with Elizabeth Bennett near the end of the film.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Santa Con

A great part of living in Portland.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Easy A

Hilarious movie full of smart dialogue with actors that are always fun to see: Emma Stone, Amanda Byrns, Patricia Clarkson, Stanly Tucci. I'm feeling conflicted about the ultimate message, but enjoyed myself so much during viewing I don't really care. And the fact that the ending sends up three classic 80s films can only mean I am no longer young.*

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*The 24 year old Educational Aid at my work has never seen Say Anything. She has never heard of Lloyd Dobler. I get that she doesn't have to get every aspect of my youth, but come on! Lloyd Dobler!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How is that resolution going?

Readers with long memories will recall that my 2010 resolution is to spend 15 minutes per day working at my desk. The order of operations is: banking, inbox, blogs. I printed each month out and I get a star each day I met my goal. You can see how well January went.
A funny thing happened as the year progressed. I started using the calendar to keep track of other things I had accomplished too. This came about because of an excellent connection of the dots. Often times, self-improvement suggestions make the point that if you have done what you want to do to improve, you should reward yourself. I tend to struggle with the "reward" part. Every single reward I can think of either costs money or takes up time I would rather spend doing other things. So the reward concept, though I'm behind it, is something I never really do for myself. I enjoy my life and at the same time have to complete a number of tasks to ensure my life runs smoothly. Then, I read the advice that marking a star on a calendar could be the reward.

Holy cannoli! I think making stars on calendars is the most excellent reward ever. So the stars for the 15 minutes of desk time were next joined by a circle when I practiced my guitar. Then by a triangle if I swept the house for five minutes. Then a square if I spent time looking for a teaching job. And on and on. Now my calendar is full of rewards and I am one happy camper.
Here's a key for everything that can appear on my day:
5 = Get up at 5:00
M = Meditate
G = Garden
Circle = Guitar practice
Square = Teaching job search
Triangle = Sweep the house for five minutes
b = blog
V = cook a vegetable
e = exercise for 30 minutes
E = exercise for 60 minutes or more.
I don't hit my desk time every day, and I think I've only been able to put everything down for the day once, but this is a great way for me to track what I'm doing and seeing how well I'm staying on track.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books read in November

I fell off my "one book at a time" pledge this month for a few reasons. One is that I've begun to read the ten books I need to read for the Mock Printz workshop which is happening in January. I am feeling various emotions about them, mostly having to do with ambivalence. At the same time, I have discovered a fabulous new YA series by Jaclyn Moriarty that I've been tearing through. Plus, other interesting books (eeeeeee! Moonlight Mile!!!!!!) have been arriving in my life. So I find myself putting down the required reading for the book candy.

Also, what's up with Mississippi/the south? The Help is set in Mississippi as is Spies from Mississippi, which I started this month and finished in December. I also read Jubilee which is set in Georgia and Alabama. Plus I started reading Radical Equations, which is about math and civil rights. There's some sort of southern zeitgeist going on right now, I just can't for the life of me figure out why.

Margaret Walker
I read this for the library book group and it was a great selection. Initially, I wasn't that into it and assigned myself to read two chapters per night, which would have me finishing right before the book discussion. It took me a bit to warm up to Vyry, the slave who is the main character. Eventually though, I got caught up in the book and raced ahead of my reading schedule.

I haven't read a slave narrative in years. They seem to have fallen out of fashion, though I'm not sure why. There's plenty of drama and pathos in the slave-to-freedom transition. At any rate, if you are looking for a good book, slave narrative or no, grab this book. It probably won't have any holds at your library as it was published in 1966.

The Help
Kathryn Stockett
I greatly enjoyed this novel, but had to take breaks from it, due to the injustice of the character's situations. Well written, with a nice tension building throughout the book, I recommend this to anyone interested in the Jim Crow to Civil Rights Era in Mississippi.

Moonlight Mile
Dennis Lehane
This seems to be shorter then any of the other Kenzie/Gennaro books and much more set in the present day. However, some of us will take any opportunity to drop in on these two Boston P.I.s, so this was a treat. The mystery is woven through with a lot of class commentary and is not as labyrinth as others in the series, but I still enjoyed it. A quick read, and I was particularly satisfied with decisions made by the main characters at the end of the book.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Francisco X. Stork
Read this for the 2010 Mock Printz, spoilers are included.

Moderately enjoyable while reading, very enjoyable upon reflection. Both boys in the story are well drawn, the "dying of cancer one" is not too angelic, the "angry young man" is nuanced in his anger, so does not become a caricature of himself. I did find that the various threads of the story seemed to be dropped abruptly and then picked up again, which was distracting, but in a minor way. Also done well was a subtle commentary on class and race and parts of the book were funny, which always helps during the chemotherapy vomiting scenes and other times. I enjoyed the dance between two guys who both want the girl. The orphanage seemed rather idyllic, do such places exist? The big confrontation scene was tense, but also partially unbelievable. As was the "one sip of one drink and I can die" malady. I think as an adolescent, I would have accepted all three at face value. The way the minor characters were written was very good. They are all clear pictures in my mind, especially Juan. The stepfather was the worst, very "random jerk lawyer."

Feeling Sorry for Celia
Jaclyn Moriarty
Great book of the "letters back and forth genre." I especially like the "disparaging voices of the conscious" represented as letters from various societies and association, such as the "Cold Hard Truth Association" and the "Association of Teenagers." While I think it is rare for teenagers to write actual letters today, making this a bit unbelievable, the plot device introduced to get the main characters started on their letters and friendship was quite believable. I especially enjoyed Elizabeth's mother's notes to her daughter which managed to combine commentary about life, work, instructions for dinner, concern and humor all in short paragraphs.

The Lost Art of Real Cooking
Ken Albala & Rosanna Nafziger
Aside from having hard-to-spell last name, Ken and Rosanna have in common their interest in food. Food created by hand without a lot of fuss (or with some fuss) that tastes good. The recipes, written in paragraph style, look very delicious, and the writing is sparkling. Take this paragraph:

Turks invade Hungary, and the stage is violently set for the remarkable collision of flaky layered pastry (nee phyllo) and apples. Five hundred years later, Julie Andrews is singing about brown paper packages and warm apple strudel, under threat of yet another invasion--the Germans. Such a violent past for something so delightful.

This book is currently very popular at the library and thus I won't get to spend as much time with it as I would like. I think I will concentrate on their sourdough bread section, return the book, request it again and when it arrives, incorporate something else.

Janne Teller
Read this for the 2010 Mock Printz, spoilers are included.

Hated this book. HATED IT! I think this might mean to be a fable or allegory or something like that, but I found it very unlikable. First off, a seventh grader climbs into a tree because he decides nothing has meaning. He throws plums at his classmates and shouts his new-found beliefs. I can see this happening for an hour or two, or even a day, but that kid stays up there yelling for months. Does he climb down at night? Where does he go to the bathroom?

His classmates, instead of ignoring him, decide to prove him wrong. So they start collecting things with meaning. First they ask the townspeople to give up something meaningful and collect quite a pile. Then they begin to give up their own meaningful things in turn. What starts out as sacrificing really cute sandals grows by degree until the Muslim child gives up his prayer mat and is severely beaten by his parents, a pious child steals a large statue of Jesus from the church, a girl gives up her virginity, the children dig up a dead baby brother from a church yard and, just when you think it can't get any worse, they kill a dog. At that point, I had to skip ahead five pages so I could bypass the dog killing.

Their pile of meaning is found out, pronounced art, bought by the MoMa for 3.5 million dollars, the children turn on each other, end up beating the plum-throwing, life-has-no-meaning child to death and burning down the sawmill that houses the pile of meaning. The whole thing is a nihilistic mess and I can only be glad that it was a short book and I have now finished reading it.

Remember to wave
Kaia Sand
The delightful 80+ year old volunteer at school gave this book to me because she thought I would "get it." It's a good poetic examination of the internment of the Portland-area Japanese during WWII, the flooding of Vanport and also the drowning of Celilo Falls. The Expo center, where the Japanese were houses, and the site of Vanport are very near my house and I enjoyed how Sand linked the present day Max stops to the history of the area.

Started but did not finish
Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project
Robert P. Moses
Civil rights pioneer wrote this book illustrating his journey from civil rights activist to math activist. He sees the disinterest in math education as creating a new generation of "sharecroppers" and has founded the Algebra Project to combat this.

The book spends a lot of time in Mississippi talking about Moses' civil rights days. I was looking for more information about the Algebra Project and lost interest in the book. I might pick it up again later.

A conspiracy of kings
Megan Whalen Turner
Read for 2010 Mock Printz, spoilers are included

This was very readable for the first half as I followed the sorry, pampered prince from his soft cocoon through his kidnapping and enslavement. His escape from slavery was quite dramatic too. But then the narrative shifted and all these people came on the scene and everyone seemed to know each other and I was very, very confused before I figured out that this must be a series book. Indeed, it's number four in the series. I've stopped reading, because the whole thing is boring to me at this point, a bunch of people talking about times they had that I haven't also experienced while also seeming to very slowly plot things. However, I will read the first book, which I've been told is awesome, and see if I can work my way back to this one.

Healing Power: Ten Steps to Pain Management and Spiritual Evolution
Philip Shapiro, M.D.
I got this book because its author was featured in the Oregonian as a psychiatrist who works with chronic homeless people. His book sounded interesting and I was wondering if I could use some of his steps to help manage the psoriasis that has taken up residence on my body. The chapters are short and the writing style is abrupt. There are questions at the end of every chapter which would be good for discussion. I did not finish this book because all of my reading tasks overwhelmed me and it needed to go back to the library. I may read it again.


I was delighted to see this home-built camper parked in Kenton.
The bike lock back door was a charming touch.

Poem for November: Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I had a different poem in mind for November. It was a good one. I just kept forgetting to copy it onto paper so I could have it with me for memorizing. More and more time passed and I was suddenly left with only one good week's worth of memorizing. So I switched it up. I googled "short poems to memorize" and came up with this one. It works.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Millgard window store

Kenton also has a goodly number of boring stores. This is the Milgard Window and Door store, which is right next to the equally exciting rolling shades store. However, behind the window of the Milgard store is a fun surprise.

There is a loom set up next to the window. Whoever weaves does so often as I can see progress made on the cloth as I walk by.

Abandoned shop

So downtown Kenton, home of the empty or derelict shops, has been getting a bit fancier over the past few years. There's the Library, which is fabulous and there are also several restaurants as well as an alternative health clinic/flower shop, a scrapbooking store, a home brew shop and a children's clothing resale shop. I've heard that in the past few decades, a lot of landlords just used their shop buildings as storage space or let the spaces sit empty. With so many good things happening., it was only a matter of time before someone turned on the old way. The following sign in the store next door to the library caught my eye.
However, the author of said sign, also included a way for people to make suggestions of what they would like to see in this space. As you can see, people had a lot of suggestions.

The interior space.

A sign of previous prosperous times:

The exterior
It has been fun to watch the transformation of Kenton, even in just the three years I've been here. I shall look forward to seeing if the sign has any results.

Three Sentence Movie Reviews: The Fabulous Baker Boys

A little slow at the end, but mostly fun. It might even be more fun to compare and contrast Seattle then and Seattle now for people who know the city. I didn't know that Beau Bridges was such a good actor!

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

You've caught up your blog. Now what?

I've received the following email from one of my regular readers:

Dear Patricia You've now caught up your blogs. Well done! I've enjoyed reading all the interesting observations you have about the world but I'm curious, how will you keep your blog caught up? Won't you just fall back into your slatternly habits? Do shed some insight into your plan.


A faithful reader*

Dear faithful reader,

I'm glad you asked, as I've been planning a blog post about this since before I finished catching up the blog. Your timely email has propelled me forward to actually write it.

Here's the plan:

First off: I have a specific time (and a back up time) planned weekly to do basic set up for the blog. The official time is Saturday morning post-run/pre-8:00 gym class. That block of time usually gives me 45 minutes to an hour to do the Blog Blessing Hour. More on that below. The backup time is Sunday from when I haul myself out of bed to before I go to church. Having a scheduled time each week to get things in order helps tremendously.

The Blog Blessing Hour. This is an adaptation of the FlyLady's Weekly Home Blessing Hour in which you spend an hour once per week and get your house in reasonable shape. My Blog Blessing Hour (written down and posted next to my computer) is as follows:
  1. Update books read, post to Goodreads
  2. Update movie posts
  3. On camera, delete all bad pictures
  4. Upload pictures to archive
  5. Rotate pictures the right way
  6. Copy select pictures to the "to print" folder
  7. Copy pictures to blog folder
  8. Erase photos from camera
  9. In blog folder, open with picture manager
  10. Compress all photos
  11. Rename
  12. Put pictures in blogger
It looks like a lot of work, but each step takes a few minutes. Except for the renaming of photos. That can be rather lengthy if an event has happened during the week. Before I was caught up and had this handy list, I would delay doing all of these steps for months. Trying to catch up the reading posts and cross reference it with the Goodreads stuff alone drove me crazy. Plus, I was often afraid to post things because I wasn't sure if all the movie posts were in their right place and I like to publish in order.

Yes indeed, those of you who think my anal-retentive nature might be hindering my ability to get anything published and contributing to the huge backup are correct. It totally did. But now that I have a weekly list of tasks, I know finish the weekly Blog Blessing Hour with a list of posts IN ORDER to write and publish. All the pictures are in a named post with the right date, all the movies are caught up and in their place and the book post doesn't get totally out of control. During the week I can spend fifteen minutes here or there writing the posts and then editing and publishing them.

Combined with the above I have two hard and fast rules:

1) Do the Blog Blessing Hour every week or, at the very least--and rarely--every two weeks.
2) If a post is in draft form and is over one month old you have not made this post a priority and I MUST DELETE IT.

Because I don't ever want to not post a post I had intended to post, hopefully the draconian rule number two will keep me on the up and up.

And that, dear reader, is the plan. Keep reading and see if it works.

*The above letter was entirely made up by Patricia. It was manufactured so she could write a blog post about how she intends to keep her blog caught up. She never has anyone email her with questions about her blog, though she would be happy to answer them if she did.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The secret club

One of the most delightful things about memorizing poems is when you encounter poems you have memorized in other contexts. There is a flash of quizzical recognition, "Hey, that sounds familiar! Why?" and a happy realization. "They know the same poem I do!" It's like being in a secret club. This editorial discusses the poem I memorized last December. She enjoys reciting it this time of year as much as I do.

"New" Comforter

That yellow thing on top of my normal red comforter is the comforter from my childhood bedroom. My mom made it to match my yellow room and my love of Holly Hobbie. It was packed away when I got my more sophisticated teenage room and comforter, but I wanted to bring it along to college, in lieu of buying new bedding for my dorm bed. It was warm and comfortable and I slept with it through college and into my early twenties. Due, I'm sure to my need to wear things out before I discard them, right?
This comforter even has an ink stain on it from when I got my first tattoo. It has been packed away for the last few years, but I recently unearthed it to have on hand for when I get cold watching movies. It's starting to fall apart a bit, but it is still warm and has much nostalgia attached to it. It's also not in good enough shape to give to anyone. What's a girl to do?
Ha-ha! Matt's mother Linda gave me an Ikea gift card for my birthday and with it I bought a duvet cover. I placed that over my old comforter and the comforter lives on to keep me warm. It mostly lives under the bed where Antares sleeps on it, but I pull it out when I want to take a nap and need a bit of warmth.
I think it looks great and I'm pleased with my re-imagining of this object.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Proof

Proof that Gwenneth Paltrow deserved her best actress award, she plays her character with a good sprinkling of unsteadiness. Hope Davis also rocks her role as controlling older sister and Jake Gyllenhall is always fun to watch. You don't have to like math to like this movie, indeed, if you tune in just for the math you might be disappointed.

poster from:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth one)

I spent the first disk of this miniseries not getting the whole Mr. Darcy (he's kind of a snotty jerk) thing. This made the "getting" the Mr. Darcy thing in disk two that much more dramatic and fun. This was an incredibly delightful movie to watch the actors act and Mr. Collins (so repulsive!) and Mary Bennett (so sour!) were my favorite minor characters.

poster from:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

I'm not the biggest fan of the movies as they cannot possibly include all that the books do, but I found this quite a good adaptation. This goes to prove what I've been saying: books five, six and seven all deserve to be split in two because too much happens to be contained in one two-hour movie. However, at Harry Potter Party VII, mostly the talk was of how well it was done.

poster from:

Eeeeeeeee! Today's the day.

My account at the library says that Moonlight Mile, the long awaited next book in the Kenzie/Gennaro series is waiting for me at the library. The library which opens at guess what time? I shall walk over there now.

Indeed, here I am standing outside the library waiting for it to open.
I check my books on hold and find: nothing. Well, one book that I requested is there, but it is not Moonlight Mile. Puzzled, I recheck my account and find that [insert tremendous disappointment and crestfallen nature here] I have jumped the gun. In my excitement I have read the screen wrong and Moonlight Mile, while on its way, is not waiting for me at this moment.

I return to the hold shelf, grab my other hold, sigh, check it out, turn to go and that is when something stops me. I decide to check out the Lucky Day cart to see if they have anything good. I almost don't do this, because I've got a long reading list for the Mock Printz workshop as well as a tremendously boring Library book group book to read as well as a sporadic book group book to read and who has time for something on the Lucky Day cart?

You will never guess what was there.

Eeeeeeeee! I've got about four hours until it's time to leave for the Harry Potter party and I will be doing only one thing.

Notes from sporadic book group.

For when I get stuck with "what to read" I bring the notes, lovingly typed up by Deborah, of our inaugural book group.

Books mentioned with enthusiasm at the first meeting of the
Sporadic Book Group, 11/6/10 (Attendees: Deborah, Patricia, Amy, Danielle, Kelly)

Prodigal Summer
One Day
In the Woods
The Likeness
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Magic Thief
An Abundance of Katherines
My Life So Far (Jane Fonda)
Personal History (Katherine Graham)
Zeitoun (Eggers)
Possession (Byatt)
Where Men Win Glory
Into the Wild
My Own Country
Facing the Lion
Bonyo Bonyo
The Blind Side
An American Wife
Whale Talk
King of the Mild Frontier
Tales of the Madman Underground
Nature Girl (Hiaasen)
Moo (Smiley)
The Ghosts of Ashton High
We Planted a Tree
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux (described by Danielle’s sister as “Candide for kids”)
Eating Animals

Hot tip from Kelly: Submit comments to Powell’s Books and you might win the Daily Dose $20 gift certificate.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Apparently, not only will this celebration happening on Thanksgiving not be vegan, it will also be free of Thanksgiving. And happening at a United Methodist "Chruch," whatever that is.