Thursday, June 30, 2011

Books Read in June 2011

It looks like I didn't read much this month. This was because Mary was very long, but also because I was doing that thing I said I wouldn't do anymore where I'm reading several books at once. Most of them I finished right after the turn of the month, look for them in the July review. In the meantime, here's how my June went.

Janis Cooke Newman
Good lord, but this book was long. It was also mostly depressing, because Mary--as depicted by this author--was just never quite fulfilled. No one ever quite loved her enough and her interests did not mesh with her sphere of the time. I think today she would have been a beloved talk show host a la Rosie O'Donnell, but maybe with a bit more of an edge. The book was interesting, and full of detail, but I just didn't enjoy it every much.

The Wilder Life
Wendy McClure
If you could rock a Laura Ingalls Wilder Pub Trivia Night (and why have I not seen one of those?) then you will love this book. Wendy McClure does what I want to do: she visits all of the LIW home sites, immerses herself in the books, reads criticism and history of Wilder's life and stories and even makes butter. She is also quite funny. This is a humorous, breezy book for everyone who has read the books over and over. My preferred way: my mother read them to me, but once I could handle them on my own, I read the whole series every summer. Sometimes I would read them backwards and enjoy Mary's miraculous return of sight.

The Brothers K
David James Duncan
Read for Kenton book club. (Although it was a re-read for me, I first read it in the late 90s)
"It's got a lot of baseball, but it's totally worth it!" I can't tell you how many times I've said that to someone reading this book. And there is a lot of baseball. And I know that not everyone is into baseball. But if you can just get through the baseball (and there is less of it as the book goes on) you will read one of my top 30 books of all time. It's very long, yes. It's meanders, yes. It's is chock full of America's Pastime that no one I know seems to like very much, yes. But if you keep reading, I bet you will like it as much as I did.

Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery
I started this series when I was about 14 and enjoyed them, though not enough to finish all six books. I think I petered out in book five. I decided summer is a good time to see if a re-read is a good idea and the answer is, "Yes ma'am!" This book is funny, not in a slap-sticky kind of way, but because Montgomery is so good at writing her characters so vividly. Anne, though mostly "very good" in that early-20th century children's book character way, is not sickening in her goodness, she's funny. I couldn't get enough and will be continuing on with the series. Also, of note: this book uses big vocabulary for something that is a children's book. A lot of words were SAT-type words, and I'm not sure today's 12-year-old would know them. Clearly, children reading books circa 1900 would have done much better on the SATs than today's youth.

Order of the Stick, Book 1
Rich Burlew
As mentioned every time I review a graphic novel, said genre isn't my thing due to my skimming technique and the not looking at the pictures that provide a good portion of the action. However, Matt and I read this aloud during our Bike Trip, with each of us taking parts. Matt helpfully put his finger on the frames of the comic that have no words, so I was forced to look at them and comprehend. This worked well and I enjoyed the humor of this Dungeons and Dragons Adventure send up.

Poem for June: Do not go gentle into that good night.

by Dylan Thomas

Read, and also listen, to the poem here.

So the thing about memorizing a poem is that you become very familiar with its nuances. In a good poem, this is fun, as wonderful turns of phrase are still wonderful near the end of the month after you've said them fifty-plus times. However, sometimes what seems to be a good poem, reveals its flaws in the memorizing process in a way they do not upon first reading. That word that isn't quite the right word suddenly becomes that much more of clinker and weighs down the poem a bit in an unsatisfying way.

So it was with this poem. My problem is with the fifth stanza where I find the repetition of the word "blind" as in "...see with blinded sight/blind eyes should..." a bit lazy. In my view, successful poets are supposed to express things using a vast thesaurus of words. Repetition of words can happen and is sometimes successful in a poem, but in this case, I think that he could have found another word.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three sentence movie revews: Find Me Guilty

A less-than stellar entry into the Vin Diesel movie marathon, despite the fact it was directed by Sidney Lumet. It was too long and I'm not sure why they would cast someone who is fit and under 40 to play a 60-ish, balding, overweight Mafia guy. Plus, the ending was entirely unsatisfying, so I recommend you stay far away.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: X-Men: First Class

I enjoyed this blast into the groovy past of the X-Men franchise and particularly appreciated that the "establishment of time period" was done by using songs different than the same tired old "early 60s movie standbys" as evidenced by the inclusion of Freddy Cannon's Palisades Park. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were excellent as Professor X/Magnito and Kevin Bacon went for it in his role as the bad guy. About halfway through the movie I leaned over to Matt and said, "I'm pretty sure that's Mrs. Don Draper* playing Emma Frost."

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*January Jones, from Mad Men. And indeed, it was.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where can I read interesting and informative posts about your bike trip?

Glad you asked. They can be found on the other Patricia blog (this one with a side of Matt.) The first post is here. If you just want to read the summary and why we think you should take a bike trip, go here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Requiem: Popcorn Bowl

Very early in the morning I head a crash from the kitchen. In my half-awake state, I thought "I'm not going to investigate that right now because it will probably just make me mad."

This turned out to be one of the smartest half-awake thoughts I've had as what was smashed into pieces too many to repair was my popcorn bowl.

My Great-Aunt Bea (known as Auntie Bea) was very crafty and one Christmas our family received a set of hand painted personalized popcorn bowls. Mine was a cheery yellow, and proudly stated that this was Patty's Popcorn Bowl. This was back when I was still called Patty.

There were even cute happy popcorns painted around the bowl. I've used the popcorn bowl a lot in the last few years, as it is the perfect size for a salad for dinner. Now, thanks to the cats the popcorn bowl has been swept off into the trash can. Auntie Bea died shortly after I moved to Portland, so there will be no replacement.

Three sentence movie reviews: Gone, Baby, Gone

This was the movie that launched the Kenzie/Gennaro reading obsession--an obsession I have managed to spread to several people, Matt included. Matt has finished this book and so we got to watch the movie together and I must say that I was quite disappointed. One of the more interesting female characters I've read in years was chopped down to a wide-eyed smiling specter whose only reason for being in this film was to stare adoringly at her man; she didn't even carry a gun, for chrissakes and in the book, she is the much better shot and saves Patrick Kenzie's bacon on many an occasion.*

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*I can't rightfully be surprised. As I've observed more than once: the main thrust of the movie making industry seems to be assuring men that they are very manly, cool, interesting and women need them. This is at the same time that stories about women's lives are incredibly interesting (I think) and women deserve to watch movies where the women (or mostly woman, singular) do something besides stand by her man. I watch movie after movie focusing on men and I enjoy many of them, but when will my self throw up her hands in despair and stop attending such--which means the vast majority of--movies? The movie machine could save me from this fate by rapidly increasing the percentage of movies that pass the Bechdel test. What will it take to make that happen?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New plan for old comforter

Readers with long memories and ample room in the brains for the smallest detail of my exciting life will recall that I bought the blue duvet cover to put on the much loved, though wearing out Holly Hobbie comforter from my childhood. Well, as time went on, it became more apparent that the full-sized duvet cover was too much duvet cover for my not-really-full-sized Holly Hobbie comforter. But I had paid all this money--actually spent a gift card, so not really-- and I didn't want the blue duvet cover to go to waste, so what to do?

Eventually, the solution came to me. For years I've had a full-sized duvet that I never got around to buying a cover for. In fact, said naked duvet has been on my bed all along. Eventually, I had the "Eurika!" moment wherein I realized I could put the blue, full-sized duvet cover on the naked full-sized duvet! Then, I would be free to buy a (much cheaper) twin sized duvet cover for Holly Hobbie and continue on with my placid life.

All of this came to pass, as you can see: naked duvet, covered, Holly Hobbie ensconced in a new solid square print twin-sized duvet cover, which fits much better.

It's even later in June and I'm still cold.

I'm tabling for Proud Ground at the farmers market and it is pouring. When I bought my new spring coat in April I thought to myself, "It's a pretty heavy coat, I probably won't get much use out of it this year because it will warm up soon."

Oh how wrong I was. I was buttoned up to the collar and I wore the wool hat for most of the volunteer shift, too. Did I mention that school's out for the year and it's summer vacation?

Still Cold

Past mid-June in Portland.

Do you have your warm coat? Check.

Your wool hat? Check.

Is the arctic wind still blowing gales while you wait for the bus, making you wish you hadn't so blithely left your scarf at home? It is indeed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Now David Yates is directing and things are happening. This was a first-view for this film and though it skipped some important parts of the novel I found it thankfully well paced and enjoyable. I think we're through the worst of them--Chris Columbus, I'm looking at you!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: XXX

I think the problem with this movie is that it wasn't campy enough to be a campy send up and it was entirely too ridiculous to be accepted as an action flick. When your main character launches a dirt bike up over the drug cartel's fence, pulls himself and the dirt bike into a horizontal position to avoid being skewered on the fence then pulls the dirt bike up and himself back on it to land with no injury even the most physics-adverse action fan must roll their eye. Still, I quite enjoyed it,* mostly because Vin Diesel smiled a lot, which he usually doesn't get to do in his beefy, action flick rolls.

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*indeed, I had been in a funk all week and after the movie was over I found myself in a surprisingly cheerful mood. Can XXX cure depression?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

20 MPDC 6/7/11

Wednesday 6/1/11

Thursday 6/2/11
I priced things for 15 minutes tonight and made it through all the books on the bookshelf.

Friday 6/3/11
I made it through most of my chore list, but didn't get to this.

Saturday 6/4/11
Due to yesterday's neglect, I priced for 15 minutes today and have finished pricing everything in the bookshelf area.

Sunday 6/5/11

Monday 6/6/11

Tuesday 6/7/11
I rallied today and priced kitchen items for 15 minutes. I have a lot of kitchen items that fall into the category "use about once every year or two, but are so, so handy when I do use them, I just can't get rid of them right now." So there wasn't much to price.

And with that, June busied itself up to a frothy state and I did no more 20MPDC. Alas. Another good idea gone by the wayside.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

EMSWCD Naturescaping Tour

The MAunts and I attended the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District Naturescaping Tour which was a tour of several houses that have successfully "naturescaped" as defined here . Some photo highlights:

I liked this cinder block grill and work surface

It utilized the holes in the cinder blocks for herb growing.

I'm guessing they need pretty regular water, but I find this to be a grand idea.

Many people had rain barrels and I took a lot of pictures of the setup. I would like to start saving rainwater in a big way, but have yet to find the how-to reference to get me started.

This house was the house next door to the tour, but it had a front yard completely full of red clover. It was beautiful.

In one back yard was a pioneer-type cabin playhouse.

The MAunts gazing up at a large stand of Douglas fir.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Three sentence movie reviews: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I had only seen the DVD extras to this movie, so this was a new experience for me. The acting was okay, though I most enjoyed the costumes of the Yule Ball, especially the Durmstrang uniforms. All in all, this was not a bad entry in the Harry Potter Movie marathon.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The peeps return to their rightful home.

Witness the beauty of the bird food filled vase I constructed for my Aunt Pat's birthday present. The vase is a fancy, heavy one--good for smashing on an intruder's head. It also looks nice with flowers in it. I bought some seed at Fred Meyer and made pretty layers and it turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. I was left with a goodly amount of bird seed and realized this would be a perfect method for transporting the peeps back to their true home.

Witness "The Peeps"

"The Peeps" have been traveling back and forth between their rightful home, Aunt Pat's and my own for several years now. There are no rules for moving the peeps, but they mostly have to be snuck into the house. I have the advantage here, as I go to my Aunt's house much more often than she comes to mine, but she is quite sneaky. Once she packed me a bag of leftovers and upon unpacking at my home there sat the peeps in the bottom of the bag. Most recently she dropped off the quarter of beef in my freezer and threw in the peeps. I didn't discover them for several months. I've added the cartoon to the peeps. The bubble says, "Jus' chillin' wif my peeps. Sup wichou?" But today, the peeps go back to their proper home.

I found a bucket and poured in part of the bird seed, dropped in the peeps and covered them with the rest of the seed.

I was so excited, I forgot to take an "in process" picture.
How can I tell you all this, without her finding out? She has no computer and does not read this blog. My mother does, but she will side with her only daughter and not reveal that the peeps have been transferred back. Right?